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Title: Oddsfish!
Author: Benson, Robert Hugh, 1871-1914
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Oddsfish!" ***

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ODDSFISH!

BY

ROBERT HUGH BENSON

Author of "Come Rack! Come Rope!", "Lord of the World," "Initiation,"
etc.

NEW YORK
DODD, MEAD AND COMPANY

1914
AUTHOR'S NOTE.


I wish to express my gratitude for great help received in the writing of
this book to Miss MacDermot, Miss Stearne and others, as well as to
three friends who submitted to hearing it read aloud in manuscript, and
who assisted me by their criticisms and suggestions.

Further, I think it worth saying that in all historical episodes in this
book I have taken pains to be as accurate as possible. The various
plots, the political movements, and the closing scenes of Charles II's
life are here described with as much fidelity to truth as is compatible
with historical romance. In particular, I do not think that the King
himself is represented as doing or saying anything--except of course to
my fictitious personages--to which sound history does not testify. I
have also taken considerable pains in the topographical descriptions of
Whitehall.



PROLOGUE


The day from which I reckon the beginning of all those adventures which
occupied me in the Courts of England and France and elsewhere, was the
first day of May in the year sixteen hundred and seventy-eight--the day,
that is, on which my Lord Abbot carried me from St. Paul's-without-the-
Walls to the Vatican Palace, to see our Most Holy Lord Innocent the
Eleventh.

It had been a very hot day in Rome, as was to be expected at that
season; and I had stayed in the cloister in the cool, as my Lord Abbot
had bidden me, not knowing whether it would be on that day or another,
or, indeed, on any at all, that His Holiness would send for me. I knew
that my Lord Abbot had been to the Vatican again and again on the
business; and had spoken of me, as he said he would, not to the Holy
Father only, but to the Cardinal Secretary of State and to others; but I
did not know, and he did not tell me, as to whether that business had
been prosperous; though I think he must have known long before how it
would end. An hour before _Ave Maria_, then, he sent to me, as I walked
in the cloisters, and when I came to him, told me, all short, to dress
myself in my old secular clothes, as fine as I could, and to be ready to
ride with him in half an hour, because our Most Holy Lord had consented
to receive me one hour after _Ave Maria_. He said nothing more to me
than that; he did not tell me how I was to bear myself, nor what I was
to say, neither as I stood in his cell, nor as we rode as fast as we
could, with the servants before and behind, into Rome and through the
streets of it. I knew nothing more than this--that since neither I nor
my novice-master were in the least satisfied as to my vocation, and
since I had considerable estates of my own in France (though I was an
Englishman altogether on my father's side), and could speak both French
and English with equal ease, and Italian and Spanish tolerably--that
since, in short, I was a very well-educated young gentleman, and looked
more than my years, and bore myself--(so I was told)--with ease and
discretion in any company, and could act a part if it were required of
me--I might perhaps be of better service to the Church in some secular
employment than in sacred. This was all that I knew. The rest my Lord
Abbot left to my own wits to understand, and to our Holy Father, if he
would, to discover to me: and that, indeed, was presently what he did.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had been within the Vatican before three or four times, both when I
had first come to Rome four years ago, and once as attendant upon my
Lord Abbot; but never before had I felt of such importance within those
walls; for this time it was myself to whom the Holy Father was to give
audience, and not merely to one in whose company I was. I was in secular
clothes too--the peruke, buckles, sword, and all the rest, which I had
laid aside two years ago, though these were a little old and
tarnished--and I bore myself as young men will (for I was only
twenty-one years old at that time), with an air and a swing; though my
heart beat a little faster as we passed through the great rooms, after
leaving our cloaks in an antechamber and arranging our dress after the
ride; and at last were bidden to sit down while the young Monsignore who
had received us in the last saloon went in to know if the Holy Father
were ready to see us.

It was a smaller room--this in which we sat--than the others through
which we had passed, and in which the crimson liveried servants were;
and its walls were all covered with hangings from cornice to floor. That
which was opposite to me presented, I remember, Jacob receiving the
blessing which his brother Esau should have had; and I wondered, as I
sat there, whether I myself were come, as Jacob, to get a blessing to
which I had no right. Idly Lord Abbot said nothing at all; for he was a
stout man and a little out of breath; and almost before he had got it
again, and before I was sure as to whether I were more like to the liar
Jacob, who won a blessing when he should not, or to unspiritual Esau,
who lost a blessing which he should have had, the young Monsignore in
his purple came back again, and, bowing so low that we saw the little
tonsure on the top of his head, beckoned to us to enter.

       *       *       *       *       *

By the time that, behind my Lord Abbot, I had performed the three
genuflections and, at the third, was kissing the ring of our Most Holy
Lord, I had already taken into my mind something of the room I was in
and of him who sat there, wheeled round in his chair to greet us. The
room was far more plain than I had thought to find it, though pretty
rich too. The walls had sacred hangings upon them; but it was so dark
with the shuttered windows that I could not make out very well what
their subjects were. A dozen damask and gilt chairs stood round the
walls, and three or four tables; and, in the centre of all, where I was
now arrived, stood the greatest table of all, carved of some black wood,
and at the middle of one side the chair in which sat the Holy Father
himself.

He had very kind but very piercing eyes: this was the first thing that I
thought; his hair beneath his cap, as well as his beard, was all
iron-grey; his complexion was a little sallow, and seemed all the more
sallow because of his red velvet cap and white soutane; (for he wore no
cloak because of the heat). As soon as I had kissed his ring he bade me
stand up--(speaking in Italian, as he did all through the audience)--and
then beckoned me to a chair opposite to his, and my Lord Abbot to
another on one side. And then at once he went on to speak of the
business on which we were come--as if he knew all about it, and had no
time to spend on compliments.

Now our Holy Father Innocent the Eleventh was, I suppose, one of the
greatest men that ever sat in Peter's Seat. I would not speak evil, if I
could help it, of any of Christ's Vicars; but this at least I may
say--that Pope Innocent reformed a number of things that sorely needed
it. He would have no nepotism at the Papal Court; men stood or fell by
their own merits: so I knew very well that my estates in France, even
if they had been ten times as great, would serve me nothing at all. He
was very humble too--(he asked pardon, it was said, even of his own
servants if he troubled them)--so I knew that no swashbuckling air on my
part would do me anything but harm--(and, indeed, that was all laid
aside, willy nilly, so soon as I came in)--since, like all humble men he
esteemed the pride, even of kings, at exactly its proper worth, which is
nothing at all. He was, too, a man of great spirituality, so I knew that
my having come to St. Paul's as a novice and now wishing to leave it
again, would scarcely exalt me in his eyes. I felt then a very poor
creature indeed as I sat there and listened to him.

"This, then, is Master Roger Mallock," he said to my Lord Abbot, "of
whom your Lordship spoke to me."

"This is he, Holy Father," said my Lord.

"He has been a novice for two years then; and his superiors are not sure
of his vocation?"

"Yes, Holy Father."

The Pope looked again at me then, and I dropped my eyes.

"And you yourself, my son?" he asked.

"Holy Father," I said, "I am sure that at present I have no vocation.
What God may give me in the future I do not know. I only know what He
has not given me in the present."

Innocent tightened his lips at that; but I think it was to prevent
himself smiling.

"And he is an English gentleman," he went on presently, "and he has
estates in France that bring him in above twenty thousand francs yearly;
and he is twenty-one years of age; and he is accustomed to all kinds of
society, and he is a devoted son of Holy Church, and he speaks French
and English and Italian and Spanish and German--"

"No, Holy Father, not German--except a few words," I said.

"And he is discreet and courageous and virtuous--"

"Holy Father--" I began in distress, for I thought he was mocking me.

"And he desires nothing; better than to serve his spiritual superiors
in any employment to which they may put him--Eh, my son?"

I looked into the Pope's face and down again; but I said nothing.

"Eh, my son?" he said again with a certain sharpness.

"Holy Father, I have been taught never to contradict my superiors; but
indeed in this--"

"Bravo!" said Innocent.

Then he turned to my Lord Abbot, as if I were no longer in the room.

"The question," he said, "is not only whether this young gentleman is
capable of hearing everything and saying nothing, of preserving his
virtue, of handling locked caskets without even desiring to look inside
unless it is his business, of living in the world yet not being of
it--but whether he is willing to do all this without being paid for
it--except perhaps his bare expenses."

My Lord Abbot said nothing.

"I can have a thousand paid servants," said Innocent, "who are worth
exactly their wages; but, since money cannot buy virtue or discretion or
courage, in such servants I cannot demand those things. And I can have a
thousand foolish servants who could earn no wages anywhere because of
their foolishness, and these never have discretion and not often either
virtue or courage. But what I wish is to have servants who are as wise
sons to me--who have all these things, and will use them for love's
sake--for the love of Holy Church and of Christ and His Mother, and who
will be content with the wages that These give."

He stopped suddenly and looked at me quickly again; and my heart burned
in my breast; for this that he was saying was all that I most desired;
and I saw by that that my talk must have been reported to him. I loved
Holy Church then, and the cause of Jesus and Mary, as young men do love,
and as I hope to love till I die. I asked nothing better than to serve
such causes as these even to death. It was not for lack of ardour that I
wished to leave the monastery; it was because, truthfully, I had a
fever on me of greater activity; because, truthfully, I was not sure of
my vocation; because, truthfully, I doubted whether such gifts and such
wealth and such education as were mine could not be used better in the
world than in the cloister. I knew that I could take a place to-morrow
in either the French or the English Court, without disgracing myself or
others; and it was precisely of this that I had spoken to my Lord Abbot;
and here was our Holy Father himself putting into words those very
ambitions that I had. I met his eyes, and knew that I was beginning to
flush.

"Well, my son?" he said.

"Holy Father," I said, "my virtues and capacities, such as they are, I
must leave to my superiors. But my desires are those of which your
Holiness has spoken. I ask no wages: I ask only to be allowed to serve
whatever cause my superiors may assign to me."

He continued to look at me, and for very shame I presently dropped my
eyes again.

"Well, my Lord Abbot?" he said again. "Let us hear what you have to
say."

Then my lord began to speak; and before he was half-done I wished myself
anywhere else in the world. For, as great men alone are capable, he
could be as lavish of praise as of blame. He said that I was all that of
which His Holiness had spoken; that I had been obedient and exact as a
novice; and he said other things too of which even under obedience I
could not speak. Then too he added what he had never said to me before,
that he was not sure that I had no vocation; but that since God spoke
through exterior circumstances as well as through interior drawings, His
Holy Will seemed to point, at least at present, to a life in the world
for me; that he was sure I would be as obedient there as here; that I
had learned not only to use my tongue but, what is much harder, to hold
it. And he ended by begging the Holy Father to take me into his service
and to use me in the ways in which perhaps I might be useful. All this,
of course, I now understand to have been rehearsed before; but just at
that time I had no more than a suspicion that this was so.

When he had finished, His Holiness once more turned and looked at me;
and I upon the ground: and then at last he spoke.

"My son," he said, "you have heard what his Reverence has said of you;
and I too have heard it, and not to-day for the first time. It seems
that you are right in thinking that for the present at any rate you have
no vocation to Holy Religion. Well, then, the question is as to what is
your Vocation, for Our Lord never leaves any man without a Vocation of
some kind. You are very young for such service as that on which we think
to send you; for we shall send you to the Court of England first, and
then perhaps now and again to France; but you look five years at least
older than your age, and, I am told, have ten times its discretion. I
need not tell you that you will have no very heavy mission given to you
at first; you must mix freely with the world and use your wits and see
what is best to be done, sending back reports to the Cardinal Secretary.
You will live at your own charges, as you yourself have said that you
wished to do; but you may draw upon us here for any journeys that you
may undertake upon our business up to a certain amount. In a word you
will be in the diplomatic service of the Holy See, though without direct
office or commission beyond that which I now give you myself. You will
have full liberty to make a career for yourself in the English or French
Courts, so long as this comes always second to your service to
ourselves. If you acquit yourself well--in the way which will be
explained to you later--you may make a career with us too, and will have
rewards if you want them: but for the present there must be no talk of
that. As you must be in the world yet not of it; so you must be of the
Court of Rome yet not in it. It is a delicate position that you will
hold; and, to compensate for the informality of it, you will have the
more liberty on your side, to make a career, as I have said, or to
marry, if God calls you to that, or in any other way.... Does that
content you, my son?"

I do not know what I said; for all that the Holy Father had told me was
what I myself had said to my Lord Abbot. I knew that affairs in England
were in a very strange condition, that the Duke of York who was next
heir to the throne was a Catholic, and that Charles himself was
favourably disposed to us; and I knew a number of other things too which
will appear in the course of this tale; and I had said to my Lord that
sometimes even a hair's weight will make a balance tip; and had asked
again and again if I might not, with my advantages, such as they were,
be of more service to Holy Church in a more worldly place than the
cloister; and now here was our Most Holy Lord himself granting and
confirming all that I had wished.

"There! there!" he said to me presently, when I had tried to say what
was in my heart. "Go and serve God in this way as well as you can; and
remember that you can be as well sanctified in the Court of a King as in
a cloister--and better, if it is the Court that is your Vocation. Go and
do your best, my son; and we shall see what you can make of it."

       *       *       *       *       *

When we were outside again I saw that my Lord Abbot's face was all
suffused, as was my own, for there was something strangely fiery and
keen and holy about Innocent; but he said nothing, except that we must
now go and see His Eminence the Cardinal Secretary of State, for I was
to receive my more particular instructions from him.



PART ONE



CHAPTER I


I came to London on the fifteenth of June, having left it seven years
before in company with my father, to go to Paris, two years before he
died.

It was drawing on to sunset as we rode up through the Southwark fields
and, at the top of a little eminence in the ground saw for the first
time plainly all the City displayed before us.

We came along the Kent road, having caught sight again and again of such
spires as had risen after the Great Fire, and of the smoke that rose
from the chimneys; but I may say that I was astonished at the progress
the builders had made from what I could remember of seven years before.
Then there had still been left great open spaces where there should have
been none; now it was a city once more; and even the Cathedral shewed
its walls and a few roofs above the houses. The steeples too of Sir
Christopher Wren's new churches pricked everywhere; though I saw later
that there was yet much building to be done, both in these and in many
of the greater houses. My man James rode with me; (for I had been
careful not to form too great intimacies with the party with whom I had
ridden from Dover); and I remarked to him upon the matter.

"And there, sir," he said to me, pointing to it, "is the monument no
doubt that they have raised to it."

And so we found it to be a day or two later--a tall pillar, with an
inscription upon it saying that the Fire had been caused by the
Papists--a black lie, as every honest man knows.

By the time that we came to London Bridge the sun was yet lower, setting
in a glory of crimson, so that it was hard to see against it much of
Westminster, across the Southwark marshes and the river; but yet I could
make out the roofs of the Abbey and of some of the great buildings of
Whitehall, where my adventures, I thought, were to lie. But between
that and the other end of London Bridge, just before we set foot on it,
the rest of the City was plain enough; and, indeed, it was a splendid
sight to see the river, all, as it seemed, of molten gold with the
barges and the wherries plying upon it, and the great houses on the
banks and their gardens coming down to the water-gates, and the forest
of chimneys and roofs and steeples behind, and all of a translucent blue
colour. The sounds of the City, too, came to us plainly across the
water--the chiming of bells and the firing of some sunset gun, and even
the noise of wheels and the barking of dogs and the crowing of
cocks--all in a soft medley of human music that made my heart rejoice;
for in spite of my long exile abroad and my French and Italianate
manners, I counted myself always an Englishman.

Now the first design that I had in mind, and for which I had made my
dispositions, was to go straight to my lodging that had been secured for
me by my cousin Tom Jermyn, where he was to meet me, and where he too
would lie that night. It was with him that I was to present my letters
at Whitehall in a day or two, after I had bought my clothes and other
necessaries; in short he was to be my _cicerone_ for a while--for he was
a Catholic too, like myself--but he was not to be told that I had come
on any mission at all, until at anyrate I had well tested his
discretion.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the mission on which I had been instructed by the Cardinal Secretary
was in one sense a very light one, and in another a very difficult one;
for its express duties were of the smallest.

Affairs in England at this time were in a very strange condition. First,
the Duke of York, who was heir to the throne, was a declared Catholic;
and then the King himself was next door to one, in heart at anyrate.
Certainly he had never been reconciled to the Church, though the report
among some was that he had been, during his life in Paris: but in heart,
as I have said, he was one, and waited only for a favourable occasion to
declare himself. For he had been so bold seventeen years before, as to
send to Rome a scheme by which the Church of England was to be reunited
to Rome under certain conditions, as that the mass, or parts of it,
should be read in English, that the Protestant clergy who would submit
to ordination should be allowed to keep their wives, and other matters
of that kind. His answer from Rome, sent by word of mouth only, was that
no scheme could be nearer to the heart of His Holiness; but that he must
not be too precipitate. Let him first show that his subjects were with
him in his laudable desires; and then perhaps the terms of the matter
might be spoken of again. For the King himself, and indeed even the Duke
too at this time (though later he amended his life), Catholic in spirit,
were scarce Christian in life. The ladies of the Court then must not be
overlooked, for they as much as any statesman, and some think, more,
controlled the king and his brother very greatly at this time.

But this was not all. Next, the King was embroiled in a great number of
ways. The more extreme of his Protestant subjects feared and hated the
Catholic Church as much as good Catholics hate and fear the Devil; and
although for the present our people had great liberty both at Court and
elsewhere, no man could tell when that liberty might be curtailed. And,
indeed, it had been to a great part already curtailed five years before
by the Test Act, forbidding the Catholics to hold any high place at the
Court or elsewhere, though this was largely evaded. There was even a
movement among some of them, and among the most important of them too,
in the House of Lords and elsewhere, to exclude the Duke of York from
the succession; and they advanced amongst themselves in support of this
the fear that a French army might be brought in to subdue England to the
Church. And, worst of all, as I had learned privately in Rome, there was
some substance in their fear, though few else knew it; since the King
was in private treaty with Louis for this very purpose. Again, a further
embroilment lay in the propositions that had been made privately to the
King that he should rid himself of his Queen--Catherine--on the pretext
that she had borne no child to him, and could not, and marry instead
some Protestant princess. Lastly, and most important of all, so greatly
was Charles turned towards the Church, that he had begged more than
once, and again lately, that a priest might be sent to him to be always
at hand, in the event of his sudden sickness, whom none else knew to be
a priest; and it was this last matter, I think, that had determined the
Holy Father to let me go, as I had wished, though I was no priest, to
see how the King would bear himself to me; and then, perhaps afterwards,
a priest might be sent as he desired.

This then was the mission on which I was come to London.

I was to present myself at Court and place myself at His Majesty's
disposal. The letters that I carried were no more than such as any
gentleman might bring with him; but the King had been told beforehand
who I was, and that I was come to be a messenger or a go-between if he
so wished, with him and Rome. So much the King was told, and the Duke.
But on my side I was told a little more--that I was to do my utmost, if
the King were pleased with me, to further his conversion and his
declaration of himself as a Catholic; that I was to mix with all kinds
of folks, and observe what men really thought of all such matters as
these, and send my reports regularly to Rome; that I was to place myself
at the King's service in any way that I could--in short that I was to
follow my discretion and do, as a layman may sometimes even more than a
priest, all that was in my power for the furtherance of the Catholic
cause.

Now it may be wondered perhaps how it was that I, who was so young,
should be entrusted with such matters as these. Here then, I am bound to
say, however immodest it may appear, that I have had always the art of
making friends easily and of commending myself quickly. I had lived too
in the societies of both Paris and Rome; and I had the accomplishments
of a gentleman as well as his blood. I was thought a pleasant fellow,
that is to say, who could make himself agreeable; and I certainly had
too--and I am not ashamed to say this--but one single ambition in the
world, and that was to serve God's cause: and these things do not always
go together in this world. Last of all, it must be observed, that no
very weighty secrets were entrusted to me: I bore no letters; and I had
been told no more of affairs in general than such as any quick and
intelligent man might pick up for himself. Even should I prove
untrustworthy or indiscreet, or even turn traitor, no very great harm
would be done. If, upon the other hand, I proved ready and capable, all
that I could learn in England and, later perhaps, in France, would serve
me well in the carrying out of weightier designs that might then be
given into my charge.

Such then I was; and such was my mission, on this fifteenth day of June,
as I rode up with James my man--a servant found for me in Rome, who had
once been in the service of my Lord Stafford--to the door of the
lodgings engaged for me in Covent Garden Piazza above a jeweller's shop.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was after sunset that we came there; and all the way along the
Strand, until we nearly reached the York Stairs, I had said nothing to
my man, but had used my eyes instead, striving to remember what I could
of seven years before. The houses of great folk were for the most part
on my left--Italianate in design, with the river seen between them, and
lesser houses, of the architecture that is called "magpie," on the
right. The way was very foul, for there had been rain that morning, and
there seemed nothing to carry the filth away: in places faggots had been
thrown down to enable carts to pass over. The Strand was very full of
folk of all kinds going back to their houses for supper.

Covent Garden Piazza was a fairer place altogether. It was enclosed in
railings, and a sun-dial stood in the centre; and on the south was the
space for the market, with a cobbled pavement. To the east of St. Paul's
Church stood the greater houses, built on arcades, where many
fashionable people of the Court lived or had their lodgings, and it was
in one of these that I too was to lodge: for I had bidden my Cousin
Jermyn to do the best he could for me, and his letter had reached me at
Dover, telling me to what place I was to come.

As I sat on my horse, waiting while my man went in to one of the
doorways to inquire, a gentleman ran suddenly out of another, with no
hat on his head.

"Why, you are my Cousin Roger, are you not?" he cried from the steps.

"Then you are my Cousin Tom Jermyn," I said.

"The very man!" he cried back; and ran down to hold my stirrup.

All the way up the stairs he was talking and I was observing him. He
seemed a hearty kind of fellow enough, with a sunburnt face from living
in the country; and he wore his own hair. He was still in riding-dress;
and he told me, before we had reached the first landing, that he was
come but an hour ago from his house at Hare Street, in Hertfordshire.

"And I have brought little Dorothy with me," he cried. "You remember
little Dorothy? She is a lady of quality now, aged no less than sixteen;
and is come up to renew her fal-lals for her cousin's arrival; for you
must come down with us to Hare Street when your business is done."

I cannot say that even after all this heartiness, I thought very much of
my Cousin Tom. He spoke too loud, I thought, on the common stair: but I
forgot all that when I came into the room that was already lighted with
a pair of wax candles and set eyes on my Cousin Dorothy, who stood up as
we came in, still in her riding-dress, with her whip and gloves on the
table. Now let me once and for all describe my Cousin Dorothy; and then
I need say no more. She was sixteen years old at this time--as her
father had just told me. She was of a pale skin, with blue eyes and
black lashes and black hair; but she too was greatly sunburnt, with the
haymaking (as her father presently told me again; for she spoke very
little after we had saluted one another). She was in a green skirt and a
skirted doublet of the same colour, and wore a green hat with a white
feather; but those things I did not remember till I was gone to bed and
was thinking of her. It is a hard business for a lover to speak as he
should of the maid who first taught him his lessons in that art; but I
think it was her silence, and the look in her eyes, that embodied for me
at first what I found so dear afterwards. She was neither tall nor
short; she was very slender; and she moved without noise. All these
things I write down now from my remembrance of the observations that I
made afterwards. It would be foolish to say that I loved her so soon as
I saw her; for no man does that in reality, whatever he may say of it
later; I was aware only that here was a maid whose presence made the
little room very pleasant to me, and with whom taking supper would be
something more than the swallowing of food and drink.

The rooms of my lodging were good enough, as I saw when my Cousin Tom
flung open the doors to show me them all. They were three in number:
this room into which we had first come from the stairs was hung in green
damask, with candles in sconces between the panels of the stuff; the
door on the left opened into the room where my Cousin Dorothy would lie,
with her maid; and that on the right my Cousin Tom and I would share
between us. The windows of all three looked out upon the piazza.

He said a great number of times that he was sorry that he had brought up
his daughter without giving me warning; but that the maid had set her
heart on it and would take no denial. (This I presently discovered to be
wholly false.) For a week, he said, and no more, I should be
discommoded; and after that, when I had come back from Hare Street, I
should be able to entertain my friends in peace.

I answered him, of course, with the proper compliments; but I liked his
manner less than ever. He was too boisterous, I thought, on a first
meeting; and too hearty in his expressions of goodwill. When we were set
down to supper, he began again, with what I thought a good deal of
indiscretion.

"So you are come from Rome!" he said loudly, "and from a monastery too,
as I hear. Well, no man loves a monk more than I do--in their
monasteries; but I am glad you are not to be one. We will teach him
better here--eh, Dolly, my dear?"

It was only my man James who was in the room when he spoke; yet as soon
as he was gone out to fetch another dish I thought I had best say a
word.

"Cousin," I said, "with your leave; I think it best not to speak of
monasteries--"

He interrupted me.

"Why, you need fear nothing," he cried. "We Catholics are all in the
fashion these days. Why, there is Mr. Huddleston that goes about in his
priest's habit: and the Capuchins at St. James', and the very Jesuits
too--"

"I think it would be better not--" I began.

"Oho!" cried Cousin Tom. "That is in the wind, is it? Why, I'll be as
mum as a mouse!"

I did not know what he meant; and I supposed that he did not know
himself, unless indeed by sheer blundering he had pitched upon the truth
that I was come on a mission. But so soon as James was in the room
again, he began upon the other tack, and talked of Prince this and the
Duke of that, with whom I might be supposed to be on terms of intimacy,
winking on me all the while, so that my man saw it. However, I answered
him civilly. I could do no less; for he was my cousin, and in a manner
my host; and, most of all, I must depend upon him for a few days at
least, to tell me how I must set about my audiences and my personal
affairs.

My Cousin Dorothy said little or nothing all this time; but sat with
downcast eyes, giving a look now and again at the table to see if we had
all that we needed; for she was housekeeper at Hare Street, her mother
having died ten years before, and she herself being the only child. She
did not look at me at all, or shew any displeasure; and yet it seemed to
me that she was not best pleased with her father's manners. Once,
towards the end of supper, when James came behind him with the wine-jug,
I saw her shake her head at him; and, indeed, Cousin Tom was already
pretty red in the face with all that he had drunk.

When the meal was finished at last, and the table cleared, and the
servants gone downstairs to their own supper, he began again with his
talk, stretching his legs in the window-seat where he sat; while I sat
still in my chair wheeled away from the table, and my Cousin Dorothy
went in and out of the rooms, bestowing the luggage that she and her
maid had unpacked. I watched her as she went to and fro, telling myself
(as some lads will, who pride themselves on being come to manhood) that
she was only a little maid.

"As to your affairs, Cousin Roger," he said, "they will soon be
determined. I take it that when you have kissed His Majesty's hand and
paid your duty to the Duke, you will have done all that you should for
the present."

I did not contradict him; but he was not to be restrained.

"You are come to seek your fortune, no doubt:" (he winked on me again as
he said this, to draw attention to his discretion); "and there is
nothing else in the world but that, no doubt, that brings you to
England." (He said this with an evident irony that even a child would
have understood.) "Not that you have not a very pretty fortune already:
I understand that it is near upon a thousand pounds a year; and great
estates in Normandy too, when you shall be twenty-eight years old. I am
right, am I not?"

Now he was right; but I wondered that he should take such pains to know
it all.

"There or thereabouts," I said.

"That condition of twenty-eight years is a strange one," he went on.
"Now what made your poor father fix upon that, I wonder?"

I told him that my father held that a man's life went by sevens, and
that every man was a boy till he was twenty-one, a fool till he was
twenty-eight, and a man, by God's grace, after that.

"Ah, that was it, was it?" he said, stretching his legs yet further. "I
have often wondered as to how that was."

And that shewed me that his mind must have run a good deal upon my
fortunes; but as yet I did not understand the reason.

When, presently, my Cousin Dorothy had shut the door of her room, and
my man was gone down again to the horses, he began again on his old
tack.

"You and I, Cousin Roger," he said, "will soon understand one another. I
knew that as soon as I clapped eyes on you. Come, tell me what your
business is here. I'm as close as the grave over a friend's secrets."

"My dear cousin," I said, "I do not know what business you mean. Was not
my letter explicit enough? I am come to live here as an English
gentleman. What other business should I have?"

He winked again at me.

"Yes, yes," he said. "And now having done your duty to your discretion,
do it to your friendship for me too. I know very well that a man who
comes from a Roman monastery, with letters from the French ambassador,
does not come for nothing. Is there some new scheme on hand?--for the
honour of Holy Church, no doubt?"

I thanked God then that I had said not one word in my letter that
Shaftesbury himself might not have read. I had been in two minds about
it; but had determined to wait until I saw my cousin and learned for
myself what kind of man he was.

"My dear cousin," I said again, "even if I had come on some such
mission, I should assure you, as I do now, that it was nothing of the
kind. How else could such missions be kept secret at all? It would be a
_secretum commissum_ in any case; as the theologians would say. I can
but repeat what I said in my letter to you; and, if you will think of
it, you will see that it is not likely that any matter of importance
would be entrusted to a young man of my age."

That seemed to quiet him. I have often noticed that to appeal to the
experience and wisdom of a fool is the surest way to content him.

He began then to talk of the Court; and it would not be decent of me to
record even a tenth part of the gossip he told me regarding the
corruption that prevailed in Whitehall. Much of it was no doubt true;
and a great deal more than he told me in some matters; but it came
pouring out from him, and with such evident pleasure to himself, that it
was all I could do to preserve a pleasant face towards him. He told me
of the little orange-girl, Nell Gwyn, who was now just twenty-eight
years old; and how she lived here and there as the King gave her
houses--in Pall Mall, and in Sandford House in Chelsea, and at first at
the "Cock and Pie" in Drury Lane; and how her hair was of a reddish
brown, and how, when she laughed her eyes disappeared in her head; and
of the Duchess of Cleveland, that was once Mrs. Palmer and then my Lady
Castlemaine, now in France; and of the Duchess of Portsmouth, and her
son created Duke of Richmond three years ago; and of the mock marriage
that was celebrated, in my Lord Arlington's house at Euston, seven years
ago between her and the King. And these things were only the more decent
matters of which he spoke; and of all he spoke with that kind of
chuckling pleasure that a heavy country squire usually shews in such
things, so that I nearly hated him as he sat there. For to myself such
things seem infinitely sorrowful; and all the more so in such a man as
the King was; and they seemed the more sorrowful the more that I knew of
him later; for he had so much of the supernatural in him after all, and
knew what he did.

Then presently my Cousin Jermyn began upon the Duke; and at that I
nearly loosed my tongue at him altogether. For I knew very well that the
guilt of the Duke was heavier even than the guilt of the King, since
James had the grace of the Sacraments to help him and the light of the
Faith to guide him. But I judged it better not to shew my anger, since I
was, as the Holy Father had told me, to be "in the world," though
interiorly not of it: and so I feigned sleep instead, and presently had
to snore aloud before my cousin could see it: and, as he stopped
speaking, my Cousin Dorothy came in to bid us good-night.

"Why, I have been half asleep," I said. "I am tired with my journey.
What were you saying, cousin?"

He leered again at that, as if to draw attention to his daughter's
presence.

"Why, we were talking of high matters of state," he said, "when you fell
asleep--matters too high for little maids to hear of. Give me a kiss, my
dear."

When she came to me, I kissed her on the forehead, and not upon the
cheek which she offered me.

"Is that the Italian custom?" cried my Cousin Tom. "Why, we can teach
you better than that--eh, Dolly?"

She said nothing to that; but looked at me a little anxiously and then
at the table where the wine stood; and I thought that I understood her.

"Well, cousin," I said, "I, too, had best be off to bed. We had best
both go. I do not want to lie awake half the night; and if you wake me
when you come to bed, I shall not sleep again."

He tried to persuade me to stay and drink a little more; but I would
not: and for very courtesy he had to come with me.

In spite of my drowsiness, however, when I was once in bed and the light
was out I could not at once sleep. I heard the watchman go by and cry
that it was a fine night; and I heard the carriages go by, and the
chairs; and saw the light of the links on the ceiling at the end of my
bed; and I heard a brawl once and the clash of swords and the scream of
a woman; as well as the snoring of my Cousin Tom, who fell asleep at
once, so full he was of French wine. But it was not these things that
kept me awake, except so far as they were signs to me of where I was.

For here I was in London at last, which, whatever men may say, is the
heart of the world, as Rome is the heart of the Church; and there,
within a gunshot, was the gate of Whitehall where the King lived, and
where my fortunes lay. Neither was I here as a mere Englishman come home
again after seven years, but as a messenger from the Holy See, with work
both to find and to do. To-morrow I must set out, to buy, as I may say,
the munitions of war--my clothes and my new periwigs and my swords and
my horses; and then after that my holy war was to begin. I had my
letters not only to the Court, but to the Jesuits as well--though of
these I had been careful to say nothing to my cousin; for I could
present these very well without his assistance. And this holy war I was
to carry on by my own wits, though a soldier in that great army of
Christ that fights continually with spiritual weapons against the
deceits of Satan.

I wondered, then, as I lay there in the dark, as to whether this war
would be as bloodless as seemed likely; whether indeed it were true (and
if true, whether it were good or bad) that Catholics should again almost
be in the fashion, as my cousin had said. There were still those old
bloody laws against us; was it so sure that they would never be revived
again? And if they were revived, how should I bear myself; and how would
my Cousin Jermyn, and all those other Catholics of whom London was so
full?

Of all these things, then, I thought; but my last thoughts, before I
commended myself finally to God and Our Lady, were of my Cousin
Dorothy--that little maid, as I feigned to myself to think of her. Yes;
I would go down to Hare Street in Hertfordshire so soon as I
conveniently could, without neglecting my business. It would be pleasant
to see what place it was that my Cousin Dorothy called her home.



CHAPTER II


It was again a fair evening, five days later, when, in one of my new
suits, with my new silver-handled sword, I set out on foot to Whitehall
to see the King first and the Duke afterwards, as word had been brought
me from the Chamberlain's office; for I had presented my letters on the
morning after I had come to London.

Those four days had passed busily and merrily enough in company with my
cousins. The first two days I had spent in the shops, and had expended
above forty pounds, with both my cousins to advise me. It would not be
to the purpose to describe all that I bought; but there was a blue suit
I had, that was made very quickly, and that was the one I wore when I
went to see the King, that was very fine. All was of blue; the coat was
square-cut, with deep skirts, and had great laced cuffs that turned up
as high as the elbow, showing the ruffled wristbands of the shirt
beneath; the waistcoat below--in the new fashion--was so hung as to come
down to my knees; and both coat and waistcoat had buttons all the way
down the front, with silver trimming. My stockings--for the brodequins
were out of fashion again now--were of a darker blue, and my shoes of
strong leather, with a great rosette upon each, for buckles were not
usual at this time. Then my cravat was of Flanders lace; and my Cousin
Dorothy showed me how to fasten it so that the ends lay down square in
front; and my hat was round with a blue favour in it upon the left side;
and I wore it with what was called the "Monmouth cock." I carried a long
cane in my hand, with a silver head, and a pair of soft leather gloves,
without cuffs to them. Then, as my own hair was still short, I bought a
couple of dark periwigs of my own colour, and put on, the better to go
to Whitehall in. Besides these things I had three other suits, one very
plain, of grey, and two less plain; a case of pistols, and a second
sword, very plain and strong, in a leather scabbard, with its belt; two
pair of riding-boots, besides other shoes; and two dozen of shirts and
cravats, of which half were plain, without lace.

While we went to and fro on all those businesses, we saw something both
of the town and of the folks. On our way back from Cheapside one day, we
turned aside to see the Monument, with the lying inscription upon it;
and then to see the Cathedral, which was already of a considerable
height. Of the persons of importance we saw one day the Duke of
Buckingham in his coach, drawn by two white horses, with riders before
and behind, pass along towards Whitehall; and a chair went by us one
evening in which, it was said, was the Duchess of Portsmouth (once
Madame de la Querouaille, or Mrs. Carwell); but it was so closely
guarded that I could not see within. Also, we saw my Lord Shaftesbury, a
sly yet proud looking fellow, I thought him, walking with Mr. Pepys, who
fell later under suspicion of being a Catholic, because his servant was
one.

On the Saturday evening we went to take the air in St. James' Park, and
walked by Rosamund's pond; and here we but just missed seeing the King
and Queen; for as we came into it from Charing Cross (where I had seen
for the first time in the public street the Punch-show, which I think
must take its origin from Pontius Pilate) their Majesties rode out--hand
in hand, I heard later--through the Park Gate into the Horse-Guards, and
so to Whitehall, with guards in buff and steel following. There was a
great company of gentlemen and ladies who rode behind, of whom we caught
a sight; but they were too far away for us to recognize any of them. (I
saw, too, the cress-carts come in from Tothill fields.)

On the Sunday morning we went all three together to hear mass sung in
St. James'; and here for the first time I saw Mr. Huddleston, who was of
the congregation, who was in his priest's habit--as my cousin had told
me--for this was allowed to him by Act of Parliament, because he had
saved the King's life after the battle of Worcester. He was a man that
looked like a scholar, but was very brown with the sun, too. We could
not see the Duke, for he was in his closet, with the curtains half
drawn--a tribune, as we should call it in Rome. It was very sweet to me
to hear mass again after my journey; and it was not less sweet to me
that my Cousin Dorothy was beside me; but the crush was so great, of
Protestants who had come to see the ceremonies, as well as of Catholics,
that there was scarcely room even to kneel down at the elevation. On our
way back we saw Prince Rupert, a fat pasty-faced man, driving out in his
coach. He spent all his time in chymical experiments, I was told. As
Sedley said, he had exchanged Naseby for Noseby.

I had been bidden, on the Monday, to present myself first at Mr.
Chiffinch's lodgings that were near the chapel, between the Privy Stairs
and the Palace Stairs; and, as I was before my time, when I came into
the Court, behind the Banqueting Hall, I turned aside to see the Privy
Garden. A fellow in livery, of whom there were half a dozen in sight,
asked me my business very civilly; and when I told him, let me go
through by the Treasury and the King's laboratory, so that I might see
the garden: and indeed it was very well worth seeing. There were sixteen
great beds, set in the rectangle, with paved walks between; there was a
stone vase on a pedestal, or a statue, in the centre of each bed, and a
great sundial in the midst of them all. There were some ladies walking
at the further end, beneath the two rows of trees; and the sight was a
very pretty one, for the sunlight was still on part of the garden and on
the Bowling-Green beyond the trees; and the flowers and the ladies'
dresses, and the high windows that flashed back the light, all conspired
to make what I looked upon very beautiful. The lodgings that looked on
to the Privy Garden and the Bowling-Green were much coveted, I heard
later; and only such personages as Prince Rupert, my Lord Peterborough,
Sir Philip Killigrew, and such like, could get them there.

Mr. Chiffinch's lodgings, when I came to them, were not so fine; for
they looked out upon little courts on both sides, and my Lady
Arlington's lodgings blocked his view to the river. I went up the
stairs, and beat upon the door with my cane: and a voice cried to me to
enter.

Now I had heard enough of Mr. Chiffinch to make me prejudge him; for his
main business, it seemed, was to pander to the King's pleasures; and he
had his rooms so near the river, it was said, that he might more easily
meet those who came by water and take them up to His Majesty's rooms
unobserved: yet when I saw him, I understood that any prejudgement was
unnecessary. For if ever man bore his character in his face it was Mr.
Chiffinch.

He had risen at my knock, and was standing in the light of the window.
He was dressed in a dark suit, very plain, yet of very rich stuff, and
had laid his periwig aside, so that I could see his features. He was a
dark secret-looking man with his eyes set near together, and with a lip
so short that it seemed as if he sneered; he stooped a little too. Yet I
am bound to say that his manner was perfection itself.

"Mr. Chiffinch," I said. And at that he bowed.

"I am Mr. Roger Mallock," I said; "and I was bidden to come here at this
hour."

"I am honoured to meet you, Mr. Mallock," he said. "I have had His
Majesty's instructions very particular in your regard. I am ashamed that
you should find me so unready; but I will not keep you above five
minutes, if you will sit down for a little."

He made haste to set me a chair near the window; and with another
apology or two he went out of a second door. The room in which he left
me was like the suit that he wore--in that it was both plain and rich.
There were three or four chairs with arms; a table, with twisted legs,
on which lay a great heap of papers and a pair of candlesticks: and
there was a tall lightly-carved press, with locks, between the windows.
The walls were plain, with a few good engravings hung upon them. I went
up to examine one, and found it to be a new one, by Faithorne.

Now that I was drawing so near to the King, I found my apprehensions
returning upon me, for half my success, I knew, if not all, turned upon
the manner I first shewed to him. I knew very well that I could bear
myself with sufficient address; but sufficient address was not all that
was needed: I must so act that His Majesty would remember me afterwards,
and with pleasure. Yet how was I to ensure this?

As I was so thinking to myself, Mr. Chiffinch came in again, having,
with marvellous speed, changed his suit into one of brown velvet, with a
great black periwig, from which his sharp face looked out like a ferret
from a hole.

"I must ask your pardon, Mr. Mallock," he said, as I stood up to meet
him, "again and again; but I have scarcely an hour to myself day or
night. Duty treads on the heels of duty all day long. But we have still
time: His Majesty does not expect us till half-past five."

I made the usual compliments and answers, to which he bowed again; and
then, as I thought he would, he began upon what was not his business--at
least I thought not then.

"You are come from Rome, I hear. I trust that His Holiness was in good
health?"

"The reports were excellent," I said, determined not to be taken in this
way.

"You have seen His Holiness lately, no doubt?"

"It was the French and Spanish ambassadors," I said, "who gave me my
letters. A poor gentleman like myself does not see the Holy Father once
in a twelvemonth."

He seemed contented with that; and I think he put me down as something
of a well-bred simpleton, which was precisely what I wished him to
think; for his manner changed a little.

"You have seen His Majesty before, no doubt?"

"I have not been in England for seven years," I said, smiling. "I saw
His Majesty once when I was a lad, as he went to dinner; and I have seen
him once, on Saturday last; at least, I saw the top of his hat from a
hundred yards off."

"And the Duke of York?" he asked.

"I have never seen the Duke of York in my life, to my knowledge," I
said.

Now I saw well enough what he was after. Without a doubt he had a
suspicion that I was an emissary in some way from the Holy Father, or at
least that I was more than I appeared to be; and being one of those men
who desire to know everything, that they may understand, as the saying
is, which way the cat will jump, and how to jump with her, he was
determined to find out all that he could. On my side, therefore, I
assumed the air of a rather stupid gentleman, to bear out better the
character that I had--that I was a mere gentleman from Rome, recommended
by the Catholic ambassadors; and I think that, for the time at anyrate,
he took me so to be; for his manner became less inquisitive.

"We must be going to His Majesty, sir," he said presently, rising; and
then he added as if by chance: "You are a Catholic, Mr. Mallock?"

"Why, yes," I said: for there was no need of any concealment on the
point of my religion.

       *       *       *       *       *

As we went downstairs and along the passage that led by Sir Francis
Clinton's lodgings, he began to speak of how I was to behave myself to
the King, and how kiss his hand and the rest. I knew very well all these
things, but I listened to him as if I did not, and even put a question
or two; and he answered me very graciously.

"You should be very modest with His Majesty," he said, "if you would
please him. He likes not originals over-much; or, rather, I would
say--(but it must not be repeated)--that he likes to be the only
original of the company."

And when Mr. Chiffinch said that I knew that he was lying to me; for the
very opposite was the truth; and I understood that he still had his
suspicions of me and wished me to fail with the King. But I nodded
wisely, and thanked him.

A couple of Yeomen of the Guard--of which body no man was less than six
feet tall--stood at the foot of the little stairs that led up to the
King's lodgings: and these made no motion to hinder the King's page and
his companion. So English were they that they did not even turn their
eyes as we went through, Mr. Chiffinch preceding me with an apology.

At the door on the landing of the first floor he turned to me again
before he knocked.

"His Majesty will be within the second room," he said. "Will you wait,
Mr. Mallock, please, in this first anteroom, and I will go through. This
is a private reception by His Majesty. There will be no formalities."

He tapped upon both the doors that were one inside the other; and then
led me through. The first chamber was very richly furnished, though
barely. There was a long table with chairs about it; and he led me to
one of these. Then with a nod or two he passed on to a second door,
tapped upon it softly and went through, closing it behind him. I heard a
woman's laugh as he went through, suddenly broken off.

There was, I supposed (and as I learned afterwards to be the case) one
other way at least out of the King's lodgings, through his private
library, where he kept all his clocks and wheels and such-like; for
when, after a minute or two, the door opened again and Mr. Chiffinch
beckoned me in, there was no woman with the King.

It was a great room--His Majesty's closet as it was called--which he
used for such solitary life as he led; and while I was with him, and
afterwards upon other occasions, I saw little by little how it was
furnished. The table in the midst, at which His Majesty wrote, was all
in disorder; it was piled high with papers and books, for he would do
what writing or reading he cared to do by fits and starts. The walls
were hung with panels of tapestry, and tall curtains of brocade hung at
the windows. Between the panels were pictures hung upon the walls--three
or four flower-pictures by Varelst; three pictures of horses and dogs by
Hondius, and a couple of Dutch pictures by Hoogstraaten. Over the
fireplace was a chimney-breast by Gibbons; and the ceiling was all
a-sprawl with gods and goddesses, I suppose by Verrio. In the windows,
which looked out on two sides, over the river and into a little court,
were little tables covered with curious things, for His Majesty
delighted in such ingenuities--Dutch figures in silver, clockwork, and
the like, and a basket of spaniels lay beneath one of the tables. A
second great table stood against the wall on the further side from that
on which I entered, covered with retorts and instruments, and behind it
a press, and near it sat the King. The floor was carpeted with rush
matting, loosely woven, with rugs upon it. But of all these things I saw
little or nothing at the first, for Mr. Chiffinch was gone out behind
me, and I was alone with His Majesty. One of the spaniels had given a
little yelp as I came in; but disposed himself to sleep again.

Now I am not one of those who think that those who are noble by birth
must always be noble by character, though I know that it should be so. I
knew, too, very well that Charles was less than noble in a great number
of ways. His women did what they liked with him; he would spend fortunes
on those who pleased him and did him nothing but injury, and would let
his faithful lovers and servants go starve. He lived always, you would
say, only for the flesh and the pride of the eyes; he was careless and
selfish and ungrateful; in short, he was as dissolute as a man could be,
or, rather, as dissolute as a king could be, and that is much more. Yet
for all this, he was a man of an extraordinary power, if he had cared to
use it. It was said of him that "he could, if he would, but that he
would not"; and of his brother that "he would if he could, but that he
could not"; and I know no better epigram on the two than that. James was
all intention without success; and Charles all success without
intention. And so James at the end lived and died as a saint, though he
was far from being one at this time; and Charles lived and died a
sinner, though, thank God, a penitent one.

Now although I knew all this well enough, and how Charles' private life
stank in the nostrils of God and man, I cannot describe how he affected
me with loyalty and compassion and even a kind of love, in this little
while that I had with him in private, nor how these emotions grew upon
me the more that I knew him.

He was sitting in his great chair, not yet dressed for supper, for his
wristbands were tumbled and turned back, and his huge dark brown periwig
was ever so little awry. He was in a dark suit, with a lace cravat; and
his rosetted shoes were crossed one over the other as he sat. The light
of the window fell full upon him from one side, shewing his swarthy
face, his thin close moustaches, and his heavy eyes under his arched
brows--shewing above all that air of strange and lovable melancholy that
was so marked a trait in those of the Stuart blood. He smiled a little
at me, but did not move, except to put out his hand. I came across the
floor, kneeled and kissed his hand, then, at a motion from him, stood up
again.

"So you are Mr. Roger Mallock," he said. "Welcome to England, Mr. Roger
Mallock. You bring good news of His Holiness, I hope."

"His Holiness does very well, Sir," I said.

"We should all do as well if we were as holy," said the King. "And you
come to look after my soul, I am informed."

(He said this with a kind of gravity that can scarcely be believed.)

"I am no priest, Sir," I said, "if you mean that. I am only a
forerunner, at the best."

"_Vox clamantis in deserto_," said the King. "I hope I shall be no Herod
to cut off your head. But it is very kind of you to come to this
wilderness. And have you seen my brother yet?"

"I am to see his Royal Highness immediately," I said. "I waited upon
Your Majesty first."

"Poor James!" said the King. "He wants looking after, I think. And what
have you come to do in England, Mr. Mallock?"

Now I felt that I was cutting a poor figure at present; and that I must
say something presently, if I could, to make the King remember me
afterwards. It appeared to me that he was trying me, as he tried all
newcomers, to see whether they would be witty or amusing; but, for the
life of me, I could think of nothing to say.

"I am come to put myself wholly at Your Majesty's disposal," I said.

"Come! come! That's better," said Charles. "It is usually the other way
about. _Servus servorum Dei_, you know. And in what manner do you
propose that I should use you?"

"I will clean Your Majesty's shoes, if you will. Or I will run errands
in my own. Or I will sing psalms, or ditties; or I will row in a boat;
or I will play tennis, or fence. I am what is called an accomplished
young gentleman, Sir."

Now I think I put in a shade too many clauses, for I was a little
agitated. But the King's face lightened up very pleasantly.

"But I have plenty of folks who can do all that," he said. "In what are
you distinguished from the rest?"

Then I determined on a bold stroke; for I knew that the King liked such
things, if they were not too bold.

"I am a Jesuit at heart, Sir;" I said. "I desire to do these things, if
Your Majesty wills it so, simply that I may serve His Holiness in
serving Your Majesty."

"Oho!" said Charles; and he gathered his feet under him and looked at me
more closely. I met his eyes fairly and then dropped my own.

"Oho! That is frank enough, Mr. Mallock. You know all about me, I
suppose. You seem very young for such work. How old are you?
Twenty-five?"

"I pass as twenty-five, Sir. But I am only twenty-one!"

"I would that I were!" said Charles earnestly. "And so you are a Jesuit
in disguise--a wolf in sheep's clothing."

"No, Sir. I am a Jesuit at heart only, in that I would do anything in
God's cause. But I am rather a sheep in wolf's clothing. I was a
Benedictine novice till lately."

He seemed not to hear me. He had dropped his chin on his hand, and was
looking at me as if he were thinking of something else.

"So you are come to serve me," he said presently, "in any way that I
will; and you will serve me only that you may serve your master better.
And what wages do you want?"

"None that Your Majesty can give," I said.

"Better and better," said Charles. "Nor place, nor position?"

"Only at Your Majesty's feet."

"And what if I kick you?"

"I will look for the halfpence elsewhere, Sir."

Then the King laughed outright, in the short harsh way he had; and I
knew that I had pleased him. Then he stood up, and I saw that he was
taller than I had thought. He was close upon six feet high.

"Well, Mr. Mallock," he said, "this seems all very pleasant and
satisfactory. You said you would run errands. I suppose you mean to
Rome?"

"To Rome and back, Sir," I said. "Or to anywhere else, except Hell."

"Oh! you draw the line there, do you?"

"No, Sir. It is God Almighty who has drawn it. I am not responsible."

"But you observe God His line?"

"Yes, Sir. At least, I try to."

"We all do that, I suppose. The pity is that we do not succeed more
consistently ... Well, Mr. Mallock, I have nothing for you at present. I
am a great deal too busy. These ladies, you know, demand so much. I
suppose you heard one of them laugh just now?"

"I hear nothing but Your Majesty's commands," I said very meekly.

Charles laughed again and began to walk up and down.

"Well--and there are all these clockwork businesses, and chymical and
the like. And there is so much to eat and drink and see: and there are
the affairs of the kingdom--I had forgot that. Well; I have no time at
present, Mr. Mallock, as you can see for yourself. But I will not forget
you, if I want you. Where do you lodge?"

I named my lodgings in Covent Garden.

"And I have a cousin, Sir," I said, "who has bidden me to his house in
Hare Street. I shall be here or there."

"His name?"

"Thomas Jermyn, Sir."

The King nodded.

"I will remember that," he said. "Well, it may be a long time before I
have anything more to say to His Holiness. 'He that will not when he
may--' You know all about that, I suppose, Mr. Mallock?"

"I know that Your Majesty has the reunion of Christendom at heart," I
said discreetly.

"Yes, yes; I understand," said Charles. "I have received very favourable
accounts of you, sir. And your letters, which are for the public eye,
are perfectly in order. Well; I will remember, Mr. Mallock. Meanwhile
you had best not shew yourself at Court in public too much." (And this
he said very earnestly.)

He put out his hand to be kissed.

"And you will give my compliments to my brother James," he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

One of the spaniels snored in his sleep as I went out again.



CHAPTER III


My interview with the Duke was a very different matter. I was informed
at his lodgings that he was not yet come from tennis; and upon asking
how long he would be, or if I might go to the tennis-court, was told
that he might be half an hour yet, and that I might go there if I
wished; so I went up from the river again, with a fellow they sent to
guide me, down through the Stone Gallery, across the Privy Garden, and
so across the street, midway between the gates, and so by the Duke of
Monmouth's lodgings to the tennis-court. Here, as I went across the
street, I caught sight of the sentries changing guard. These were the
Coldstream Guards, in their red coats; for it was these foot-guards who
did duty for the most part in the Palace and round about at the gates.
The other troops about His Majesty were, first the King's Guards proper,
who attended him when he rode out: these were in buff coats and
cuirasses, very well mounted, and very gay with ribbons and velvet and
gold lace and what not: and to each troop of these were attached a
company of grenadiers with their grenades. Besides these were the Blues,
also cavalry; and the dragoons, who were infantry on horseback, and
carried bayonets. Of the foot-soldiers, such as the Buffs, most were
mousquetaires; but some trailed pikes, and every one of them had a
sword. These troops I saw constantly in town; besides the Yeomen who
were closely attached to the person of his Sacred Majesty.

It was by the Duke of Monmouth's lodgings that I had my first sight of
the Duke of Monmouth himself; for as I came towards the archway, by
which were the lodgings of my Lady Suffolk, he himself came out from his
own. I did not know who he was, until the fellow by me saluted him and
doffed his cap, whereupon I did the same. I think I have never seen a
more handsome lad in all my life (for he looked no more, though he was
near thirty years old). His face was as smooth as a girl's, though not
at all effeminate; he had a high and merry look with him, and bore
himself, with his two friends, like a prince; he had violet eyes and
arched brows over them. It is piteous to me now to think of his end, and
that it was against his uncle by blood (whom I was to see presently)
that he rebelled later, and by his uncle that he was condemned; and it
is yet more piteous to think how he met that end, crying and cringing
for fear of his life, both in the ditch in which he was discovered, and
afterward in prison. He looked very kindly on me as he passed, lifting
his hand to his hat; but I think he would not have so looked if he had
known all about me; for he was as venomous against the Catholics as a
man could be, or at least feigned himself so, for I think he had not a
great deal of religion at any time. But he was to know me better
afterwards.

When I came up into the gallery of the tennis-court I found it pretty
full; yet not so full but that I could get a sight of the players. The
Duke was in the court of the _dédans_ when I first came in, so I could
see no more of him than his back and his cropped head; but when, after
two _chaces_ he crossed over, I had a good view of him.

He was more heavily built than Charles; but his features were not unlike
the King's, though he was fairer in complexion, I suppose; and his lip
was shorter, and he wore no hair on his face. He had somewhat of a
heavier look too in his face, without the fire that burned like embers
in his brother's eyes. All this I noticed somewhat of, even from the
gallery, though he was all a-sweat with his exercise.

I had left word with one of the men below as to my name and my business;
and when the game was ended and the Duke went out, I remained still
upstairs for a little, thinking that perhaps another would be played,
and then perhaps he would send for me. But a servant came up presently
and told me I was to follow to the Stone Gallery, where the Duke would
walk for a while before changing his clothes, as his custom was. This
Stone Gallery, as I had seen, was roofed, with skylights in it, and had
presses of books all along the walls, together with collections of all
kinds.

When I came to the Gallery he was at the further end, walking with Sir
Robert Murray, as I learned afterwards, who was a very earnest
Protestant, but always at Court; but when he saw me he sent Sir Robert
away and beckoned to me to come. So I went up to him and kissed his
hand, and he bade me walk with him for a little. (He had put on a cloak
and hat to prevent his taking cold.)

Now his manner was wholly different from His Majesty's. There was a
courtesy always in Charles that was not in James; for the Duke said
nothing as to his receiving me here in his _déshabille_, but began
immediately to talk in a low voice.

"I am pleased that you are come to England, Mr. Mallock. I have had news
of you from Rome."

Then he asked very properly of the Holy Father, and of a Cardinal or two
that he knew; and I answered him as well as I could. But I very soon saw
that His Royal Highness wanted nothing like wit from me: he was somewhat
of a solemn man, and had great ideas of his rights, and that all men who
were below his own station should keep their own. He desired deference
and attention above all things.

He spoke presently of Catholics in England.

"God hath blest us very highly," he said, "both in numbers and
influence. But we can well do with more of both; for I never heard of
any cause that could not. There is a feeling against us in many
quarters, but it is less considerable every year. You are to attach
yourself to His Majesty, I understand?"

"But I am to have no place or office, sir," I said. "I am rather to be
at His Majesty's disposal--to fetch and carry, I may say, if he should
need my services."

His Highness looked at me sidelong and swiftly; and I understood that he
did not wish any originality even in speech.

"We must all be discreet, however," he said--(though I suppose there was
never any man less discreet than himself, especially when he most needed
to be so). "It is useless to say that we are altogether loved; for we
are not. But you will soon acquaint yourself with all our politics."

I did not say that I had already done so; but assured him that I would
do my best.

"As a general guide, I may say," he went on; "where there is Whiggery,
there is disloyalty, however much the Whigs may protest. They say they
desire a king as much as any; but it is not a king that they want, but
his shadow only."

He talked on in this manner for a little, for we had the Gallery to
ourselves, telling me, what I knew very well already, that the Catholics
and the High Churchmen were, as a whole, staunch Royalists; but that the
rest, especially those of the old Covenanting blood, still were capable
of mischief. He did not tell me outright that it was largely against his
own succession that the disaffection was directed; nor that the Duke of
Monmouth was his rival; but he told me enough to show that my own
information was correct enough, and that in the political matters my
weight, such as it was, must be thrown on to the side of the Tories--as
the other party was nicknamed. I understood, even in that first
conversation with him, why he was so little loved; and I remembered,
with inward mirth, how His Majesty once, upon being remonstrated with by
his brother for walking out so freely without a guard, answered that he
need have no fears; for "they will never kill me," said he, "to set you
upon the throne."

"You have seen Father Whitbread, no doubt," said the Duke suddenly.

"No, sir. I waited to pay my homage first to His Majesty and to
yourself."

He nodded once or twice at that.

"Yes, yes; but you will see him presently, I take it. You could not have
a better guide. Why--"

He broke off on a sudden.

"Why here is the man himself," he said.

A man in a sober suit was indeed approaching, as His Highness spoke. He
was of about the middle-size, clean-shaven, of grave and kindly face,
and resembled such a man as a lawyer or physician might be. He was
dressed in all points like a layman, though I suppose it was tolerably
well known what he was, if not his name.

He saluted as he came near, and made as if he would have passed us.

"Mr. Whitbread! Mr. Whitbread!" cried the Duke.

The priest turned and bowed again, uncovering as he did so. Then he came
up to the Duke and kissed his hand.

"I was on my way to see your Royal Highness," he said, "but when I saw
you were in company--"

"Why, this is Mr. Mallock, come from Rome, who has letters to you. This
will save you a journey, Mallock."

The priest and I saluted one another; and I found his face and manner
very pleasant.

"I have heard of you, Mr. Mallock," he said, "but I hope His Highness is
misinformed, and that this will not save you a journey, after all."

"I was just telling this gentleman," broke in the Duke, as we continued
our walking, "that he must take you for his mentor, Dr. Whitbread, in
these difficult times. Mr. Mallock seems very young for his business,
but I suppose that the Holy Father knows what he is about."

"The Holy Father, sir," I said, "has committed himself in no sort of way
to me. I am scarcely more than a free-lance who has had his blessing."

"Well, well; it is all the same thing," said James a little impatiently.
"Free-lance or drilled soldier--they fight for the same cause."

He continued to talk in the same manner for a little, as if for my
instruction; and I listened with all the meekness I had. He did not tell
me one word which I did not already know; but I had perceived by now
what kind of man he was--well intentioned, no doubt, as courageous as a
lion, and as impatient of opposition, and not a little stupid: at least
he had not a tenth of his brother's wits, as all the world knew. He
solemnly informed me therefore of what all the world knew, and I
listened to him.

When he dismissed me at last, however, he remembered to ask where I
lodged, and I told him.

"A very good place too," he said. "I am glad your cousin had the sense
to put you there. Then I will remember you, if I need you for anything."

"I will go with Mr. Mallock," said the priest, "if Your Royal Highness
will permit. I came but to pay my respects; and it is a little late."

The Duke nodded; and gave us his hand to kiss.

As we went out through the Courtyard, Father Whitbread pointed out a few
things to me which be thought might be of interest; and I liked the man
more at every step. He was a complete man of the world, with a certain
gentle irony, yet none the less kindly for it. He did not say one
disparaging word of anyone, nor any hint of criticism at His Royal
Highness; yet he knew, and I knew that he knew, and he knew that again,
that our Catholic champion was a shade disappointing; and that, not in
his vices only--of which my Lady Southesk could have given an
account--but in that which I am forced to call his stupidity. But, after
all, our Saviour uttered a judgment generally as to the children of
light and the children of this world, that must always be our
consolation when our friends are dull or perverse. Father Whitbread only
observed emphatically that the Duke was a man of excellent heart.

He showed me the windows of a number of lodgings on the way, and the
direction of a great many more: for indeed this Palace of Whitehall was
liker a little town than a house. Father Patricks, he said, had a
lodging near the Pantry, which he shewed me.

"There be some of us priests who have an affinity, do you not think, Mr.
Mallock? with pantries and butteries and such like--good sound men too,
many of them. I have not a word to say against Mr. Patricks."

He shewed me too how the Palace was in four quarters, of which two were
divided from two by Whitehall itself and the street between the
gatehouses. That half of it that was nearer to the Park held the
tennis-court and the cock-pit and the lodgings of the Duke of Monmouth
and others nearer Westminster, and the other half the Horse Guards and
the barracks: and that nearer the river held, to the south the Stone
Gallery, the Privy Garden, the Bowling Green and a great number of
lodgings amongst which were those of the King and of his brother and
Prince Rupert, and of the Queen too, as well as of their more immediate
attendants--and this part contained what was left of the old York House;
to the north was another court surrounded by lodgings, the Wood-Yard,
the two courts called Scotland Yard, and the clock-house at the
extremity, nearest Charing Cross. In the very midst of the whole Palace,
looking upon Whitehall itself, was the Banqueting House where His
Majesty dined in state, and from a window of which King Charles the
First, of blessed memory, went out to lose his head. Indeed as we went
by the end of the Banqueting House the trumpets blew for supper; and we
saw a great number of cooks and scullions run past with dishes on their
heads.

       *       *       *       *       *

As we went up Whitehall, Mr. Whitbread began to speak of more intimate
things.

"You are a stranger in England, Mr. Mallock, I think."

I told him I had not been in the country for seven years.

"You will find a great many changes," he said; "and I think we are on
the eve of some more. Certainly His Majesty has wonderfully established
his position; and yet, if you understand me, there is a great and
growing disaffection. It is the Catholic Faith that they fear; and I
cannot help thinking that some victims may be required again presently,
though I do not know what they can allege against us. There is a deal of
feeling, too, against the Queen; she has borne no children--that is
true; but the main part of it arises from her religion: and so with the
Duke of York also. Certainly we are in the fashion in one way: but those
who are on the top of the wave must always look to come down suddenly."

Here again, Father Whitbread did not tell me anything that I did not
know; yet he put matters together as I had not heard them put before;
and he seemed to me altogether a shrewd kind of man whose judgment I
might very well rely upon; and as we went up the Strand he spoke again
of the Queen.

"His Majesty hath been urged again and again to divorce her; but he will
not. He said to the Duke himself in my hearing one day that an innocent
woman should never suffer through him--which is good hearing. But Her
Majesty is not very happy, I am afraid."

When we came to the Maypole, which I had already seen, in the midst of
the Strand, he spoke to me of how it had been carried there and set up
with great rejoicing, after the Restoration. It was a great structure,
hung about by a crown and a vane; and he said that it stood as a kind of
symbol against Puritanism.

"There are many," he told me, "who would pull it down to-morrow if they
could, as if it were some kind of idol."

He saw me as far as the door of my lodgings; but he would not come in.
He said that he had no great desire to be known more widely than be was
at present known.

"But if you have time to come in to-morrow morning about ten o'clock to
Mr. Fenwick's lodgings in Drury Lane--over the baker's shop--I shall be
there, and Mr. Ireland also--all Fathers of our Society; and I will very
gladly make you known to them. My own lodgings are in Weld Street--at
the Ambassador's."

I thanked him for his kindness, and said I would be there; and so I bade
him good-night.

       *       *       *       *       *

Although I had learned very few things that day which I had not known
already, I felt that evening as I sat at supper, and afterwards, in the
coffee house at 17, Fleet Street (which he recommended to me) that I
knew them in a different manner. For I had spoken with some of the
principal actors, and, above all, with the King himself. My cousin
questioned me delightedly upon my experiences when we were alone with
our pipes at one end of the great room that had been a council-chamber;
and related to me all his own experiences with the King at great
length; and how Charles had made to him some witty remarks which I think
must have lost in the telling, for they were not witty at all when I
heard them. It appeared that my cousin had spoken with the King three or
four times, at City-banquets and such like; and he would know all that
His Majesty had said to me. But much I would not tell him, and some I
could not: I could not that is, even if I would, have conveyed to him
the strange compassion that I felt, and the yet more strange affection,
for this King who might have done so much, and who did so little--except
what he should not; and I would not on any account tell him of what the
King had said as to Rome and his desires and procrastinations. But I
told him how I had met Father Whitbread, and how I was to go and see him
on the morrow.

"Why, I will come with you myself," he said. "I know Mr. Fenwick's
lodgings very well: and we will ride afterwards as far as Waltham Cross,
and lie there; and so to Hare Street for dinner next day."

All the way home again, and when my Cousin Dorothy was gone to bed, and
we sat over a couple of tankards of College Ale, he would talk of
nothing but the Jesuits.

"They are too zealous," he said. "I am as good a Catholic as any man in
England or Rome; but I like not this over-zeal. They are everywhere,
these good fathers; and it will bring trouble on them. They hold their
consults even in London, which I think over-rash; and no man knows what
passes at them. Now I myself--" and so his tongue wagged on, telling of
his own excellence and prudence, and even his own spirituality, while
his eyes watered with the ale that he drank, and his face grew ever more
red. And yet there was no true simplicity in the man; he had that kind
of cunning that is eked out with winks and becks and nods that all the
world could see. He talked of my Cousin Dorothy, too, and her virtues,
and what a great lady she would be some day when these virtues were
known; and he, declared that in spite of this he would never let her go
to Court; and then once more he went back again to his earlier talk of
the corruptions there, and of what my Lady this and Her Grace of that
had said and done and thought.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Fenwick's lodgings in Drury Lane were such as any man might have.
The Jesuit Fathers lived apart in London--Father Whitbread in the City,
Father Ireland in Russell Street, and Father Harcourt, who was called
the "Rector of London," I heard, in Duke Street, near the arch--lest too
much attention should be drawn to them if they were all together. They
were pleasant quiet men, and received me very kindly--for my cousin who
had forgot some matter he had to do before he went into the country, was
gone down into the City to see to it. Mr. Grove, whom I learned later to
be a lay brother of the Society, opened the door to me; and shewed me to
the room where they were all three together.

They were all three of them just such men as you might meet anywhere, in
coffee-houses or taverns, none of them under forty or over sixty years
old. Father Harcourt was seventy--but he was not there. They were in
sober suits, such as a lawyer might wear, and carried swords. These were
not all the Jesuits thereabouts; for I heard them speak of Father John
Gavan and Father Anthony Turner (who were in the country on that day),
and others.

As I talked with them, and gave my news and listened to theirs, again
and again I thought of the marvellous misjudgments that were always
passed upon the Society; of how men such as these were always thought to
be plotting and conspiring, and how any charge against a Jesuit was
always taken as proven scarcely before it was stated; and that not by
common men only, but by educated gentlemen too, who should know better.
For their talk was of nothing but of the most harmless and Christian
matters, and of such simplicity that no man who heard them could doubt
their sincerity. It is true that they spoke of such things as the
conversion of England, and of the progress that the Faith was making;
and they told many wonderful stories of the religion of the common
people in country places, and how a priest was received by them as an
angel of God, and of their marvellous goodness and constancy under the
bitterest trials; but so, I take it, would the Apostles themselves have
spoken in Rome and Asia and Jerusalem. But as to the disloyalty that was
afterwards charged against them, still less of any hatred or murderous
designs, there was not one such thought that passed through any of their
minds.

It was a plain but well-furnished chamber in which we sat. Beneath the
windows folks came and went continually. There were hangings on the
wall; and a press full of books and papers, and two or three tables; but
there was no concealment of anything, nor thought of it. Through the
door I saw Mr. Grove laying for dinner.

"But you will surely stay for dinner," said Father Fenwick, when I said
that I must be gone presently.

I told him that I was to ride to Waltham Cross with my cousins, and that
I was to meet them for dinner first at the coffee-house beside the
Maypole in the Strand.

"And to Hare Street to-morrow, then," said Father Whitbread--or Mr.
White as he was called sometimes.

I told him, Yes; and that I did not know how long I should be there.

"The King will be at Windsor next month, I think," he said; "but he will
be back again for August. You had best be within call then, if he should
send for you." (For I had told them all freely what had passed between
myself and His Majesty, and what His Holiness had said to me too.)

"You can command any of us at any time," he added, "if we can be of
service to you. There are so many folks of all kinds, here, there and
everywhere, that it is near impossible for a stranger to take stock of
them all; and it may be that our experience may be of use to you, to
know whom to trust and of whom to beware. But the most safe rule in
these days is, Trust no man till you know him, and not entirely even
then. There are men in this City who would sell their souls gladly if
any could be found to give them anything for it; how much more then, if
they could turn a penny or two by selling you or me or another in their
stead!"

I thanked him for his warning; and told him that I would indeed be on
my guard.

"Least of all," he said, "would I trust those of my own household. I
know your cousin for a Catholic, Mr. Mallock, but you will forgive me
for saying that it is from Catholics that we have to fear the most. I do
not mean by that that Mr. Jermyn is not excellent and sincere; for I
know nothing of him except what you have told me yourself. But zeal
without discretion is a very firebrand; and prudence without zeal may
become something very like cowardice; and either of these two things may
injure the Catholic cause irreparably in the days that are coming. St.
Peter's was the one, and Judas', I take it, was the other; for I hold
Judas to have been by far the greater coward of the two."

       *       *       *       *       *

When I came out into the passage with him, I kneeled down and asked his
blessing; for I knew that this was of a truth a man of God.



CHAPTER IV


It was a little after noon next day that first we saw the Norman church
upon the hill, and then the roofs of Hare Street.

I had been astonished at the badness of the roads from London, coming as
I had from Rome, where paved ways go out in every direction. We came out
by Bishopsgate, by the Ware road, and arrived at Waltham Cross a little
before sunset, riding through heavy dust that had hardly been laid at
all by the recent rains. We rode armed, with four servants, besides my
Cousin Dorothy's maid, for fear of the highwaymen who had robbed a coach
only last week between Ware and London. My Cousin Dorothy rode a white
mare named Jenny which mightily became her. We lay at the _Four Swans_
at Waltham Cross, and went out before supper to see the Cross which was
erected where Queen Eleanor's body had lain--of which the last was at
Charing Cross--and I was astonished that the Puritans had not more
mutilated it. The beds were pretty comfortable, and the ale excellent,
so that once more my Cousin Tom drank too much of it. And so, early in
the morning we took horse again, and rode through Puckeridge, where we
left for the first time the road by which the King went to Newmarket,
when he went through Royston; and we found the track very bad
thenceforward. My Cousin Tom carried with him, though for no purpose
except for show, a map by John Ogilby which shows all the way from
London to King's Lynn, very ingeniously, and which was made after the
Restoration to encourage road traffic again; but it was pleasant for me
to look at it from time to time and see what progress we made towards
Hormead Magna which is the parish in which Hare Street lies.

Now it was very pleasant for me to ride, as I did a good deal, with my
Cousin Dorothy; for her father, for a great part, rode with the men and
cracked stories with them. For journeying with a person sets up a great
deal of intimacy; and acquaintance progresses at least as swiftly as
the journey itself. She spoke to me very freely of her father, though
never as a daughter should not; and told me how distressed she was
sometimes at the quantity of ale and strong waters that he drank. She
told me also how seldom it was that a Catholic could hear mass at Hare
Street: sometimes, she said, a priest would lie there, and say mass in
the attic; but not very often; and sometimes if a priest were in the
neighbourhood they would ride over and hear mass wherever he happened to
be. The house, she said, lay near upon the road, so that they would hear
a good deal of news in this way. But she told me nothing of another
matter--for indeed she could not--which distressed her; though I
presently guessed it for myself, as will appear in the course of this
tale.

My horse, Peter (as I had named him after the Apostle when I bought him
at Dover), was pretty weary as we came in sight of the church of Hormead
Parva; for I had given him plenty to do while I was in London; and he
stumbled three or four times.

"We are nearly home," said my Cousin Dorothy; and pointed with her whip.

"It is pleasant to hear such a word," I said: "for, as for me, I have
none."

She said nothing to that; and I was a little ashamed to have said it;
for nothing is easier than to touch a maid's heart by playing Othello to
her Desdemona.

"I have no business to have said that, cousin," I went on presently:
"for England is all home to me just now."

"I hope you will find it so, cousin," she said.

The country was pretty enough through which we rode; though in no ways
wonderful. It was pasture-land for the most part, with woods here and
there; and plenty of hollow ways (all of which were marked upon the map
with great accuracy), by which drovers brought their sheep to the
highway. I saw also a good many fields of corn. The hills were lowish,
and ran in lines, with long valleys between; and there was one such on
the right as we came to Hare Street, through which flowed a little
stream, nearly dry in the summer.

The house itself was the greatest house in the village, and lay at the
further end of it upon the right; sheltered from the road by limes, in
the midst of which was the gateway, and the house twenty yards within.
My Cousin Tom came up with us as we entered the village, and shewed me
with a great deal of pride his new iron gate just set up, with a twisted
top.

"It is the finest little gate for ten miles round," he said, "and cost
me near twenty pound."

We rode past the gate, however, into the yard just beyond; and here
there was a great barking of dogs set up; and two or three men ran out.
I helped my Cousin Dorothy from her horse; and then all three of us went
through a side-door to the front of the house.

The house without was of timber and plaster, very solidly built, but in
no way pretentious; and the plaster was stamped, in panels, with a kind
of comb-pattern in half circles, peculiar, my cousin told me, to that
part of the country. Within, it was very pleasant. There was a little
passage as we came in, and to right and left lay the Great Chamber (as
it was called), and the dining-room. Beyond the little passage was the
staircase, panelled all the way up, with the instruments of the Passion
and other emblems carved on a row of the panels; and at the foot of the
staircase on the right lay a little parlour, very pretty, with hangings
presenting the knights of the Holy Grail riding upon their Quest. Upon
the left of the staircase, lay a paved hall, with a little pantry under
the stairs, to the left, and the kitchens running out to the back; and
opposite to them, enclosing a little grassed court, the brewhouse and
the bakehouse. Behind all lay the kitchen gardens; and behind the
brewhouse a row of old yews and a part of the lawn, that also ran before
the house. The house was of three stories high, and contained about
twenty rooms with the attics.

It is strange how some houses, upon a first acquaintance with them, seem
like old friends; and how others, though one may have lived in them
fifty years are never familiar to those who live in them. Now Hare
Street House was one of the first kind. This very day that I first set
eyes on it, it was as if I had lived there as a child. The sunlight
streamed into the Great Chamber, and past the yews into the parlour; and
upon the lawns outside; and the noise of the bees in the limes was as if
an organ played softly; and it was all to me as if I had known it a
hundred years.

My Cousin Tom carried me upstairs presently to the Guest-chamber--a
great panelled room, with a wide fire-place, above the dining-room--that
I might wash my hands and face before dinner; and my heart smote me a
little for all my thoughts of him, for, when all was said, he had
received me very hospitably, and was now bidding me welcome again, and
that I must live there as long as I would, and think of it as my home.

"And here," he said, opening a door at the foot of the bed, "is a little
closet where your man can hang your clothes; it looks out upon the yard;
and my room is beyond it, over the kitchen."

I thanked him again and again for his kindness; and so he left me.

       *       *       *       *       *

We dined below presently, very excellently. The room was hung with
green, with panels of another pattern upon it; and the dishes were put
in through a little hatch from the kitchen passage. My man James waited
with the rest, and acquitted himself very well. Then after dinner, when
the servants were gone away, my Cousin Tom carried me out, with a
mysterious air, to the foot of the stairs.

"Now look well round you, Cousin Roger," he said, when he had me
standing there; "and see if there be anything that would draw your
attention."

I looked this way and that but saw nothing; and said so.

"Have you ever heard of Master Owen," he said, "of glorious memory?"

"Why, yes," I said, "he was a Jesuit lay-brother, martyred under
Elizabeth: and he made hiding-holes, did he not?"

"Well; he hath been at work here. Look again, Cousin Roger."

I turned and saw my Cousin Dorothy smiling--(and it was a very pretty
sight too!)--but there was nothing else to be seen. I beat with my foot;
and it rang a little hollow.

"No, no; those are the cellars," said my Cousin Tom.

I beat then upon the walls, here and there; but to no purpose; and then
upon the stairs.

"That is the sloping roof of the pantry, only," said my Cousin Tom.

I confessed myself outwitted; and then with great mirth he shewed me
how, over the door into the paved hall, there was a space large enough
to hold three or four men; and how the panels opened on this side, as
well as into the kitchen passage on the other.

"A priest or suchlike might very well lie here a week or two, might he
not?" asked my Cousin Tom delightedly; "and if the sentry was at the one
side, he might be fed from the other. It is cunningly contrived, is it
not? A man has but to leap up here from a chair; and he is safe."

I praised it very highly, to please him; and indeed it was very curious
and ingenious.

"But those days are done," I said.

"Who can tell that?" he cried--(though a week ago he had told me the
same himself). "Some priest might very well be flying for his life along
this road, and turn in here. Who knows whether it may not be so again?"

I said no more then on that point; though I did not believe him.

"And there is one more matter I must shew you in your own chamber; if
you have any private papers and suchlike."

Then he shewed me in my own room, by the head of the bed that stood
along the wall, how one of the panels slid back from its place,
discovering a little space behind where a man might very well keep his
papers or his money.

"Not a living soul," he said, "knows of that, besides Dolly and myself.
You are at liberty to use that, Cousin Roger, if you like."

I thanked him; and said I would do so.

The rest of that day I spent in going about the house, and acquainting
myself with it all. My Cousin Dorothy shewed me the rooms. Her own was a
little one at the head of the stairs; and she told me, smiling, that a
ghost was said to walk there.

"But I have never been troubled with it," she said. "It is a tall old,
woman, they say, who comes up the stairs and into the room; but she does
no harm to anyone."

Next her room, along the front of the house, lay two other greater
rooms, one with a fire-place and one without: then was my chamber, and
then her father's: and upstairs were the attics where the men lay. The
maids lay in two little rooms above the kitchen.

It was mighty pleasant to me to be with my Cousin Dorothy. She had
changed her riding clothes into others more suitable for a country
maid--with a white starched neckerchief that came down upon her
shoulders, and a grey dress and petticoat below that. Her sleeves were
short, as the custom is in the country, with great linen cuffs folded
back upon them, so as to leave her hands and arms to the elbow free for
her occupations. But most of all I loved her simplicity and her
quietness and her discretion. Her father bade her expressly to shew me
all the house; or she would not have done it, for she was very maidenly
and modest; but as soon as he said that, she did it without affectation.
She shewed me the parlour too, with the hangings upon the walls, and the
chapel of the Grail, with the Grail itself upon an altar within, flanked
by two candlesticks, that was represented over the fire-place. She came
out with me too to shew me the bakehouse where the baking was already
begun, and the brewhouse--both of which too were all built of timber and
plaster; and there my Cousin Tom came upon us, and carried me off to see
his garden and his pasture; for he farmed a few acres about here, and
made a good profit out of it: and it was while I walked with him that
for the first time I understood what his intention was towards me.

He was speaking, as he very often did, of his daughter Dorothy--which I
had taken to be a father's affection only. (We were walking at the time
up and down in the pasture below the garden; and the house lay visible
among the gardens, very fair and peaceful with the sunlight upon it.)

"She will be something of an heiress," he said; "and when I say that, I
do not mean that she will have as many acres as yourself. But she will
have near a thousand pound a year so soon as poor Tom Jermyn dies: and I
may die any day, for I am short in the neck, and might very well be
taken with an apoplexy. I wish above all things then, to see her safely
married before I go--to some solid man who will care for her. There is a
plenty of Protestants about here that would have her; for she is a
wonderful housewife, and as pure as Diana too."

He paused at that; and looked at me in that cunning way of his that I
misliked so much. Yet even now I did not see what he would be at; for
gentlemen do not usually fling their daughters at the head of any man;
and he knew nothing of me but that I was pretty rich and would be more
so one day. But I suppose that that was enough for him.

"I had thought at one time," he went on, "of sending her to Court. I
could get her in, under the protection of my Lady Arlington. But the
Court is no place for a maiden who knows nothing of the world. What
would you advise, Cousin Roger? I would not have her marry a Protestant,
if I could help it."

And with that he looked at me again.

Then, all of a sudden I saw his meaning; and my heart stood still; for
not only did his words reveal him to me, but myself also; and I
understood why he had questioned me so closely in town, as to my
fortune. I cannot say at this time that I loved my Cousin Dolly--for I
had not known that I loved her--but his words were very effective.
Indeed I had not thought to marry, though I was free to do so; for a
novice does not quickly shake off his monkishness. I had thought far
more of the mission I was come to England upon, and what I could
accomplish, with God's blessing, for Christ and His Church. But, as I
say, my heart stood still when my cousin said that to me; for, as in a
vision, I saw myself here as her husband, and her as my wife, in this
house among its gardens. Here we might live a life which even the angels
might envy--harmless, innocent, separate from sinners, as the Apostle
says--not accomplishing, maybe, any great things, but at least
refraining from the hindering of God's Kingdom. The summers would come
and go, and we still be here, with our children growing about us, to
inherit the place and the name, such as it was. And no harm done, no
vows broken, no offence to any. Such thoughts as these did not as yet
shew any very great ardour of love in me; and indeed I had not got this
yet; but she was the first maid I had ever had any acquaintance with, at
least for some while; and this no doubt, had its effect upon me. All
this came upon me of a sudden; and as I lifted my eyes I saw my Cousin
Dolly's sunbonnet going among the herbs of the garden; and saw her in my
mind's eye too as I had seen her just now, cool and innocent and good,
with that touch of hidden fire in her eyes that draws a man's heart.
Neither had she looked unkindly on me: our intimacy had made wonderful
progress, though I had known her scarcely more than a week: she had
spoken to me of her father, too, as one would speak only to a friend.
Yet I could not say one word of this to him; for he had not said
anything explicit to me: and I knew, too, that I must give myself time;
for a man does not, if he is wise, change the course of his life on an
instant's thought. Yet I must not say No outright, and thereby, maybe,
bang the door on my new hopes.

"I could not advise you at present," I said. "I do not know my cousin
well enough to advise anything. I am one with you so far as concerns the
Court: I cannot think that any Catholic father should send his daughter
into such a den of lions--and worse. And I am one with you as concerns
marrying her to a Protestant. Yet I can say no more at present."

And at that my Cousin Tom looked at me in such a manner as near to ruin
his own scheme; for his eyes said, if his mouth did not, that now we
understood one another; and were upon the same side, or at least not
opposed; and to think that I was leagued with him against her made my
heart hot with anger.

"Very well," he said; "we will say no more at present." And he bade me
observe an old ram that was regarding us, with a face not unlike Cousin
Tom's own: but I suppose that he did not know this.

       *       *       *       *       *

In this manner, then, began our life at Hare Street; for I was there six
weeks before I went back again to London in the way I shall relate
presently. The days were passed for the most time, from rising until
dinner, upon the farm, or in hunting; for we rode out now and again with
the neighbours after a stag who had come from the woods. But we did not,
because of the Papistry of the house, see a great deal of the
neighbours, or they of us. The parson of Hormead came to see us now and
again, and behaved very civilly: but during those six weeks we had no
sight of a priest, except once when we rode to Standon to hear mass.
After dinner, I gave myself up to writing; for I thought that I could
best serve His Holiness in this way, making my diary each day in
shorthand (as I had learned from an Italian); and it is from that very
diary that this narrative is composed; and I wrote too a report or two,
apologizing for the poverty of it, which I determined to send to the
Cardinal Secretary as soon as I had an opportunity. I read too a little
Italian or Spanish or French every day; and thus, for the most part kept
to my chamber. But all my papers I put away each afternoon in the little
hiding-place in my chamber; and made excuse for keeping my room on the
score of my practice in languages.

We supped at five o'clock--which was the country hour; and after that,
to me, came the best part of the day.

For my Cousin Dorothy, I had learned, was an extraordinary fine
musician. We had, of course, no music such as was possible in town; but
she had taught a maid to play upon a fiddle, and herself played upon the
bass-viol; and the two together would play in the Great Chamber after
supper for an hour or two, when the dishes were washed. In this manner
we had many a corrant and saraband; and I was able to prick down for
them too some Italian music I remembered, which she set for the two
instruments. Sometimes, too, when Cousin Tom was not too drowsy after
his day and his ale, the three would sing and I would listen; for my
Cousin Tom sang a plump bass very well when he was in the mood for it.
As for me, I had but a monk's voice, that is very well when all the
choir is a-cry together, but not of much use under other circumstances.
In this way then I made acquaintance with a number of songs--such as Mr.
Wise's "It is not that I love you less" and his duet "Go, perjured man!"
of which the words are taken from Herrick's "Hesperides," and of which
the music was made by Mr. Wise (who was a gentleman of the Chapel Royal)
at His Majesty's express wish.

       *       *       *       *       *

I have many very pleasant memories of Hare Street, but I think none more
pleasant than of the music in the Great Chamber. I would sit near the
window, and see them in the evening light, with their faces turned to
me; or, when it grew late with the candlelight upon them and their
dresses or sometimes when the evening was fair and warm I would sit out
upon the lawn, and they at the window, and listen to the singing coming
out of the candlelight, and see them move against it. My Cousin Dorothy
would make herself fine in the evening--not, I mean, like a Court lady,
for these dresses of hers were put away in lavender--but with a lace
neckerchief on her throat and shoulders, and lace ruffles at her wrists.

Yet all this while I made no progress with her or even with myself; for
every time that I was alone with her, or when her father was asleep in
his chair, a remembrance of what he had said came over me with a kind of
sickness, and I could not say one word that might seem to set me on his
side against her; and so I was torn two ways, and the very thing by
which he had hoped to encourage me, (or rather to help himself) had the
contrary effect, and silenced me when I might have spoken.

For I understood very well by now what was in his mind. He saw no
prospect of marrying Dolly to a Protestant--or I take it, if I know the
man, he would have leapt at it; neither was there any hope of marrying
her to a Catholic; and as for his talk about my Lady Arlington I did not
believe one word of it. Therefore, since I was at hand, and would be a
wealthy man some day, and indeed even now did very well on my French
_rentes_, he had set his heart on this. It was not wholly evil; yet the
cold-bloodedness of it affected me like a stink....

       *       *       *       *       *

The matter ended, for the time, on the evening of the thirteenth of
August, in the following manner, when my adventures, of which my life,
ever since my audience with our Most Holy Lord the Pope, had been but a
prelude, properly began--those adventures for whose sake I have begun
this transcript from my diary, and this adventure was pre-shadowed, as I
think now, by one or two curious happenings.

On the morning of the thirteenth of August, two days before the Feast of
the Assumption (on which we had intended to hear mass again at Standon)
my Cousin Dorothy came down a little late, and found us already over our
oatbread and small beer which we were accustomed to take upon
rising--and which was called our "morning."

"I slept very ill," she said; and no more then.

Afterwards, however, as I was lighting my pipe in the little court at
the back of the house, she came out and beckoned me in; and I saw that
something was amiss. I went after her into the little hung parlour and
we sat down.

"I slept very ill, cousin," she said again; and I observed again that
her eyes looked hollow. "And I dare not tell my father my fancies," she
said, "for he is terrified at such things; and has forbade the servants
to speak of such things."

"The tall old woman, then?" I said; for I had not forgotten what she had
told me before.

"Yes," she said, smiling a little painfully--"and yet I was not at all
afraid when she came; or when I thought that she did."

"Tell me the whole tale," I said.

"I awakened about one o'clock this morning," she said, "and knew that my
sleep was gone from me altogether. Yet I did not feel afraid or
restless; but lay there content enough, expecting something, but what it
would be I did not know. The cocks were crowing as I awakened; and then
were silent; and it appeared to me as if all the world were listening.
After a while--I should say it was ten minutes or thereabouts--I turned
over with my face to the wall; and as I did so, I heard a soft step
coming up the stairs. One of the maids, thought I, late abed or early
rising, for sickness. When the steps came to my door they ceased; and a
hand was laid upon the latch; and at that I made to move; but could not.
Yet it was not fear that held me there, though it was like a gentle
pricking all over me. Then the latch was lifted, and still I could not
move, not even my eyes; and a person came in, and across the floor to my
bed. And even then I could not move nor cry out. Presently the person
spoke; but I do not know what she said, though it was only a word or
two: but the voice came from high up, as almost from the canopy of the
bed, and it was the voice of an old woman, speaking in a kind of
whisper. I said nothing; for I could not: and then again the steps moved
across the floor, and out of the door; and I heard the latch shut again;
and then they passed away down the stairs."

My Cousin Dorothy was pale as death by this time; and her blue eyes were
set wide open. I made to take her by the hand; but I did not.

"You were dreaming," I said; "it was the memory of the tale you have
heard."

She shook her head; but she said nothing.

"You have never had it before?" I asked.

"Never," she said.

"You must lie in another chamber for a week or two, and forget it."

"I cannot do that," she said. "My father would know of it." And she
spoke so courageously that I was reassured.

"Well; you must cry out if it comes again. You can have your maid to
sleep with you."

"I might do that," she said; and then--

"Cousin Roger; doth God permit these things to provide us against some
danger?"

"It may be so," I said, to quiet her; "but be sure that no harm can come
of it."

At that we heard her father calling her; and she stood up.

"I have told you as a secret, Cousin Roger; there must be no word to my
father."

I pledged myself to that; for I could see what a spirit she had; and we
said no more about it then.

As the day passed on, the sky grew heavy--or rather the air; for the sky
was still blue overhead; only on the horizon to the south the clouds
that are called _cumuli_ began to gather. The air was so hot too that I
could scarcely bear to work, for I had set myself to take some
plant-cuttings in a little glass-house that was in the garden against
the south wall; and by noon the sky was overcast.

After dinner I went up to my chamber; and a great heaviness fell upon
me, till I looked out of the window and saw that beyond the limes the
clouds spewed a reddish tint that marked the approach of thunder; and at
that grew reassured again; and not only for myself but for my Cousin
Dorothy, whose tale had lain close on my heart through the morning: for
this thought I, is the explanation of it all: the maid was oppressed by
the heat and the approaching storm, and fancied all the rest.

I fell asleep in my chair, over my Italian; and when I awakened it was
near supper-time, and the heaviness was upon me again, like lead; and my
diary not written.

After supper and some talk, I made excuse to do my writing; and as it
was growing dark, and I was finishing, I heard music from the Great
Chamber beneath. They were singing together a song I had not heard
before; and I listened, well pleased, promising myself the pleasure too
of going downstairs presently and hearing it.

Between two of the verses, I heard on a sudden, over the hill-top beyond
the village, the beat of a horse's hoofs, galloping; but I thought no
more of it. At the end of the next verse, even before it was finished, I
heard the hoofs again, through the music; I ran to the window to see who
rode so fast; and was barely in time to see a courier, in a blue coat,
dash past the new iron gate, pulling at his horse as he did so; an
instant later, I heard the horse turn in at the yard gate, and
immediately the singing ceased.

As I came down the stairs, I saw my Cousin Dolly run out into the inner
lobby, and her face, in the dusk, was as white as paper; and the same
instant there came a hammering at the hall door.

"What is it? What is it?" cried she; and clung to me as I came down.

I saw, through the inner door, my Cousin Tom unbolting the outer one; he
had taken down a pistol that hung upon the wall, for the highwaymen
waxed very bold sometimes; then when he opened the door, I heard my
name.

I went forward, and received from the courier, a sealed letter; and
there, in the twilight I opened and read it. It was from Mr. Chiffinch,
bidding me come to town at once on King's business.

"I must ride to town," I said. "Cousin Tom, will you order my horse for
me; and another for this man? I do not know when I shall be back again."

And, as I said these words, I saw my Cousin Dorothy's face looking at me
from the dusk of the inner hall, and knew what was in her mind; and that
it was the matter of the tall old woman in her room.



CHAPTER V


The storm was broken before we could set out, and the ride so far as
Hoddesdon was such as I shall never forget; for the wind was violent
against us; and it was pitchy dark before we came even to Puckeridge;
the thunder was as if great guns were shot off, or bags of marbles
dashed on an oak floor overhead; and the countryside was as light as day
under the flashes, so that we could see the trees and their shadows,
and, I think, sometimes the green colour of them too. We wore, all three
of us--the courier, I and my man James--horse-men's cloaks, but these
were saturated within half an hour. We had no fear of highwaymen, even
had we not been armed, for the artillery of heaven had long ago driven
all other within doors.

The hardest part of the journey was that I knew, no more than the
dead--indeed not so much--why it was that Mr. Chiffinch had sent for me.
He had said nothing in his letter, save that His Majesty wished my
presence at once; and on the outside of the letter was written the word
"Haste," three times over. I thought of a hundred matters that it might
be, but none of them satisfied me.

It is near forty miles from Hare Street to Whitehall; but so bad was the
way that, though we changed horses at Waltham Cross--at the _Four
Swans_--we did not come to London until eight o'clock in the morning;
and it was half-past eight before we rode up to Whitehall. The last part
of the journey was pretty pleasant, for the rain held off; and it was
strange to see the white hard light of the clouded dawn upon the fields
and the trees. But by the time we came to London it was long ago broad
day--by three or four hours at the least; and all the folks were abroad
in the streets.

I went straight to Mr. Chiffinch's lodgings, sending my man to the
lodging in Covent Garden, to bestow the horses and to come again to the
guard-house to await my orders. Mr. Chiffinch was not within, for he
had not expected me so early, a servant told me; but he had looked for
my coming about eleven or twelve o'clock, and had given orders that I
was to be taken to a closet to change my clothes if I needed it. This I
did; and then was set down to break my fast; and while I was at it, Mr.
Chiffinch himself came in.

He told me that I had done very well to come so swiftly; but he smiled a
little as he said it.

"His Majesty is closeted with one or two more until ten o'clock. I will
send to let him know you are come."

I did not ask him for what business I had been sent for; since he did
not choose to tell me himself; and he went out again. But he was
presently back once more; and told me that His Majesty would see me at
once.

My mind was all perturbed as I went with him in the rain across the
passages: I felt as if some great evil threatened, but I could make no
conjecture as to what it was about; or how it could be anything that was
at once so sudden and that demanded my presence. We went straight up the
stairs, and across the same ante-room; and Mr. Chiffinch flung open the
door of the same little closet where I had spoken with the King,
speaking my name as he did so.

His Majesty was sitting in the very same place where he sat before, with
his chair wheeled about, so that he faced three men. One of them I knew
at once, for my cousin had pointed him out to me in the park--my Lord
Danby, who was Lord Treasurer at this time--and he was sitting at the
end of the great table, nearest to the King: on the other side of the
table, nearer to me as I entered, were two men, upon whom I had never
set eyes before--one of them, a little man in the dress of an apothecary
or attorney; and the other a foolish-looking minister in his cassock and
bands. All four turned their eyes upon me as I came in, and then the two
who were standing, turned them back again towards His Majesty. There was
a heap of papers on the table below my Lord Danby's hand.

His Majesty made a little inclination of his head to me, but said
nothing, putting out his hand; and when I had kissed it, and stood back
with the other two, he continued speaking as if I were not there. His
face had a look, as if he were a little _ennuyé_, and yet a little merry
too.

"Continue, my Lord," he said.

"Now, doctor," said my Lord, in a patient kind of voice as if he
encouraged the other, "you tell us that all these papers were thrust
under your door. By whom were they thrust, do you think?"

"My Lord, I have my suspicions," said the minister; "but I do not know."

"Can you verify these suspicions of yours, do you think?"

"My Lord, I can try."

"And under how many heads are they ranged?" asked the King, drawling a
little in his speech.

"Sir; they are under forty-three heads."

The King rolled his eyes, as if in a droll kind of despair; but he said
nothing.

"And you tell me--" began my Lord; but His Majesty broke in:

"_Mon Dieu_!" he said; "and here is good Mr. Mallock, come here
hot-foot, and knows not a word of the proceedings. Mr. Mallock, these
good gentlemen--Doctor Tonge, a very worthy divine and a physician of
the soul, and Mr. Kirby, a very worthy chymist, and a physician of the
body--are come to tell me of a plot against my life on the part of some
of my faithful lieges, whereby they would thrust me swiftly down to
hell--body and soul together. So that, I take it is why God Almighty
hath raised up these physicians to save me. I wish you to hear their
evidence. That is why I sent for you. Continue, my Lord."

My Lord looked a little displeased, pursing up his mouth, at the manner
in which the King told the tale; but he said nothing on that point.

"Grove and Pickering, then, it appears, were to shoot His Majesty; and
Wakeman to poison him--"

("They will take no risks you see, Mr. Mallock," put in the King.)

"Yes, my Lord," said Tonge. "They were to have screwed pistols, with
silver bullets, champed, that the wounds may not heal."

("Prudent! prudent!" cried the King.)

Then my Lord Danby lost his patience; and pushed the papers together
with a sweep of his arm.

"Sir," he said, "I think we may let these worthy gentlemen go for the
present, until the papers are examined."

"With all my heart," said the King. "But not Mr. Mallock. I wish to
speak privately with Mr. Mallock."

So the two were dismissed; but I noticed that the King did not give them
his hand to kiss. They appeared to me a pair of silly folks, rather than
wicked as others thought them afterwards, who themselves partly
believed, at any rate, the foolish tale that they told. Mr. Kirby was a
little man, as I have said, with a sparrow-like kind of air; and Doctor
Tonge had no great distinction of any kind, except his look of
foolishness.

When they were gone, my Lord Danby turned to the King, with a kind of
indignation.

"Your Majesty may be pleased to make a mock of it all; but your loving
subjects cannot. I have permission then to examine these papers, and
report to Your Majesty?"

"Why, yes," said the King, "so you do not inflict the forty-three heads
upon me. I have one of my own which I must care for."

My Lord said no more; he gathered his papers without a word, saluted the
King at a distance, still without speaking, and went out, giving me a
sharp glance as he went.

"Now, Mr. Mallock," said His Majesty, "sit you down and listen to me."

I sat down; but I was all bewildered as to why I had been sent for. What
had I to do with such affairs as these?

"Do you know of a man called Grove?" the King asked me suddenly.

Now the name had meant nothing to me when I had heard it just now; but
when it was put to me in this way I remembered. I was about to speak,
when he spoke again.

"Or Pickering?" he said.

"Sir; a man called Grove is known to me; but no Pickering."

"Ha! then there is a man called Grove--if it be the same. He is a
Papist?"

"Sir, he is a lay-brother of the Society of Jesus, and dwells--"

The King held up his hand.

"I wish to know nothing more than I am obliged. Pickering is some sort
of Religious, too, they tell me. And what kind of a man is Grove?"

"He is a modest kind of man, Sir. He opened the door to me, and I saw
him a-laying of the table for dinner. I know no more of him than that."

Then the King drew himself up in his chair suddenly, as I had seen him
do before, and his mocking manner left him. It was as if another man sat
there.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, shaking his finger at me with great solemnity,
"listen to me. I had thought for a long time that an attempt would be
made against the Catholics. There is a great deal of feeling in the
country, now that my brother is one of them, and I myself am known not
to be disinclined towards them. And I make no doubt at all that this is
such an attempt. They have begun with the Jesuits; for that will be the
most popular cry; and they have added in Sir George Wakeman's name, Her
Majesty's physician, to give colour to it all. By and by they will add
other names; (you will see if it be not so), until not a Jesuit, and
scarce a Catholic is left who is not embroiled in it. I do not know who
is behind this matter; it may be my Lord Danby himself, or Shaftesbury,
or a score of others. Or it may be some discontented fellow who will
make his fortune over it; for all know that such a cry as this will be a
popular one. But this I know for a verity--that there is not one word of
truth in the tale from beginning to end; and it will appear so
presently, no doubt. Yet meanwhile a great deal of mischief may be done;
and my brother, may be, and even Her Majesty, may suffer for it, if we
are not very prudent. Now, Mr. Mallock, I sent for you, for I did not
know who else to send for. You are not known in England, or scarcely:
you come commended to me by the Holy Father himself; you are neither
priest nor Jesuit. What, then, you must do for me is this. First, you
must speak not one word of the matter to any living soul--not even your
confessor; for if we can quash the whole matter privately, so much the
better. I had you in just now, that Danby and the others might see that
you had my confidence; but I said nothing of who you were nor where you
came from; and, if they inquire, they will know nothing but that you
come commended by the ambassadors. Very well then; you must go about
freely amongst the Jesuits, and rake together any evidence that you can
that may be of use to them if the affair should ever be made public; and
yet they must know nothing of the reason--I lay that upon you. And you
must mix freely in taverns and coffee-houses, especially among the
smaller gentry, and hear what you can--as to whether the plot hath yet
leaked out--(for it is no less)--and what they think of it; and if not,
what it is that they say of the Catholics. You understand me, Mr.
Mallock?"

I said, Yes: but my heart had grown sick during the King's speech to me;
for all that I had ever thought in Rome, of England, seemed on the point
of fulfilment. His Majesty too had spoken with an extraordinary
vehemence, that was like a fire for heat. But I must have commanded my
countenance well; for he commended me on my behaviour.

"Your manner is excellent, Mr. Mallock," he said, "both just now and a
few minutes ago. You take it very well. And I have your word upon it
that you will observe secrecy?"

"My word on it, Sir," I said.

Then His Majesty leaned back again and relaxed a little.

"That is very well," he said; "and I think I have chosen my man well.
You need not fear, Mr. Mallock, that any harm will come to the good
Fathers, or to Grove or Pickering either. They cannot lay a finger upon
them without my consent; and that they shall never have. It is to
prevent rather the scandal of the whole matter that I am anxious; and
to save the Queen and my brother from any trouble. You do not know yet,
I think, all the feeling that there is upon the Catholics."

I said nothing: it was my business to listen rather, and indeed what His
Majesty said next was worth hearing.

"There be three kinds of religion in my realm," he said. "The
Presbyterian and Independent and that kind--for I count those all one;
and that is no religion for a gentleman. And there is the Church of
England, of which I am the head, which numbers many gentlemen, but is no
religion for a Christian; and there is the Catholic, which is the only
religion (so far as I am acquainted with any), suited for both gentlemen
and Christians. That is my view of the matter, Mr. Mallock."

The merry look was back in his eyes, melancholy though they always were,
as he said this. For myself, it was on the tip of my tongue to ask His
Majesty why, if he thought so, he did not act upon it. But I did not,
thinking it too bold on so short an acquaintance; and I think I was
right in that; for he put it immediately into words himself.

"I know what you are thinking, Mr. Mallock. Well; I am not yet a good
enough Christian for that."

I knew very well what His Majesty meant when he said that: he was
thinking of his women to whom as yet he could not say good-bye; and the
compassion surged up in me again at the thought that a man so noble as
this, and who knew so much (as his speeches had shewed me), could be so
ignoble too--so tied and bound by his sins; and it affected me so
much--here in his presence that had so strange a fascination in it--that
it was as if a hand had squeezed my throat, so that I could not speak,
even if I would.

"Well, sir," he said, "I must thank you for coming so quickly when I
sent for you. Mr. Chiffinch knows why you are come; but no one else; and
even to him you must not say one word. You will do well and discreetly;
of that I am sure. I will send for you again presently; and you may come
to me when you will."

He gave me his hand to kiss; and I went out, promising that no pains
should be spared.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was indeed a difficult task that His Majesty had laid upon me. I was
to speak freely to the priests, yet not freely; and how to collect the
evidence that was required I knew not; since I knew nothing at all of
when the conspiring was said to be done, nor what would be of avail to
protect them; and all the way to my lodgings with my man James, I was
thinking of what was best to do. My man had ordered that all things
should be ready for my entertainment, and I found the rooms prepared,
and the beds laid; and the first thing I did after dinner was to go to
bed, after I had written to my Cousin Tom at Hare Street, and sleep
until the evening.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I was dressed and had had supper in the coffee-house, listening as
well as I could to the talk, but hearing nothing pertinent, I went back
again to Drury Lane, to Mr. Fenwick's lodging, to lay the foundation of
my plan. For I had determined, between sleeping and waking, that the
best thing to be done, was to shew myself as forward and friendly as I
could, so that I might mix with the Fathers freely, in the hope that I
might light on something; and it so fell out, that although my small
adventures that evening had no use in them in the event, yet they were
strangely relevant to what took place afterwards.

The first small adventure was as follows:

I was walking swiftly up Drury Lane, scanning the houses, for it was
falling dark, and the oil-lights that burned, one before every tenth
house, cast but a poor illumination, when just beyond one of the lights
I knocked against a fellow who was coming out suddenly from a little
passage at the side, just, as it chanced, opposite to Mr. Fenwick's
house. I turned, to beg his pardon, for it was more my fault than his,
that we had come together; and I set my eyes upon the most strange and
villainous face that I have ever seen. The fellow was dressed in a dark
suit, and wore a crowned hat, and carried a club in his hand, and he
appeared to be one of the vagrom-men as they are called, who are at the
bottom of all riots and such like things. He was a smallish man in his
height, but his face was the strangest thing about him; and in the light
from the lamp I thought at first that he had some kind of deformity in
it. For his mouth was, as it were in the very midst of his face; there
was a little forehead above, with eyes set close beneath it, and a
little nose, and then his mouth, turned up at the corners as if he
smiled, and beneath that a vast chin, as large as the rest of his face.

He cried out "Lard!" as I ran against him; by which I understood him to
say "Lord!"

I asked his pardon.

"O Lard!" he said again, "'tis nothing, sir. My apologies to you, sir."

I bowed to him civilly again, and passed on; but as I knocked upon Mr.
Fenwick's door, I saw that he was staring after me, from the entrance to
that same passage from which he had come.

       *       *       *       *       *

My second adventure was that, upon coming upstairs, I found that in the
chamber with Mr. Fenwick were the mother and sister of Mr. Ireland,
waiting for him to come and take them back to their lodging. They were
quiet folks enough--a little shy, it appeared to me, of strange company.
But I did my best to be civil, and they grew more talkative. Mrs.
Ireland would be near sixty years old, I would take it, dressed in a
brown sac, such as had been fashionable ten years back, and her
daughter, I should think about thirty years old. They told me that they
had been to supper, and to the play in the Duke's Playhouse, where Mr.
Shirley's tragi-comedy _The Young Admiral_ had been done; and that Mr.
Ireland was to come for them here, as presently he did, for it was
scarce safe for ladies to be abroad at such an hour in the streets
without an escort, so wild were the pranks played (and worse than
pranks), by even the King's gentlemen themselves, as well as by the
riff-raff.

We sat and talked a good while; and Mr. Grove brought chocolate up for
the ladies. But for myself, I had such a variety of thoughts, as I
talked with them all, knowing what I did, and they knowing nothing, that
I could scarce command my voice and manner sometimes. For here were
these innocent folk--with Mr. Grove smiling upon them with the
chocolate--talking of the play and what-not, and of which of the actors
pleased them and which did not--and I noticed that the ladies, as
always, were very severe upon the women--and the good fathers, too,
pleased that they were pleased, and rallying them upon their
gaiety--(for it appeared that these ladies did not go often into
company); and here sat I, with my secret upon my heart, knowing--or
guessing at least--that a plot was afoot to ruin them all and turn their
merriment into mourning.

But I think that I acquitted myself pretty well; and that none guessed
that anything was amiss with me; for I spoke of the plays I had seen in
Rome, before that I was a novice, and of the singers that I heard there;
and I listened, too, to their own speeches, gathering this and that, of
what they did and where they went, if by chance I might gather something
to their own advantage thereafter.

It was pretty to see, too, how courteous and gallant Mr. Ireland was
with his mother and sister; and how he put their cloaks about them at
the door, and feigned that he was a constable to carry them off to
prison--(at which my heart failed me again)--for frequenting the company
of suspected persons; and how he gave an arm to each of them, as they
set off into the dark.

       *       *       *       *       *

That night too, as I lay abed, I thought much of all this again. I had
established a great friendliness with the Fathers by now, telling them I
was come up again to London, as Mr. Whitbread had recommended me, until
the Court should go again to Windsor, and that perhaps I should go with
it thither. They had told me at that, that one of their Fathers was
there, named Mr. Bedingfeld (who was of the Oxburgh family, I think),
and that he was confessor to the Duke of York, and that they would
recommend me to him if I should go. But all through my anxiety I
comforted myself with the assurance the King had given to me, that,
whatever else might ensue, not a hair of their heads should be touched,
for I had great confidence in His Majesty's word, given so solemnly.



CHAPTER VI


Now begins in earnest that chapter of horrors that will be with me till
I die; and the learning of that lesson that I might have learned long
before from one that was himself a Prince, and knew what he was talking
of--I mean King David, who bids us in his psalm to "put no trust in
princes nor in any child of man."

For several days all passed peacefully enough. I waited upon Mr.
Chiffinch, and asked whether the King had spoken of me again, and was
told he had not; so I went about my business, which was to haunt the
taverns and to frequent the company of the Jesuits.

I made an acquaintance or two in the taverns at this time, which served
me later, though not in the particular manner that I had wished; but for
the most part matters seemed quiet enough. Men did not speak a great
deal of the Catholics; and I always fenced off questions by beginning,
in every company that I found myself in, by speaking of some Church of
England divine with a great deal of admiration, soon earning for myself,
I fear, the name of a pious and grave fellow, but at the same time, of a
safe man in matters of Church and State.

One of these acquaintances was a Mr. Rumbald, a maltster (which was all
I thought him then), who frequented the Mitre tavern, without Aldgate,
where I went one day, dressed in one of my sober country suits, wearing
my hat at a somewhat rakish cock, that I might seem to be a simple
fellow that aped town-ways.

The tavern was full when I came to it, and called for dinner; but I made
such a to-do that the maid went to an inner room, and presently
returning, told me I might have my dinner there. It was a little parlour
she spewed me to, with old steel caps upon the wall, and strewed rushes
under foot; and there were three or four men there who had just done
dinner, all but one. This one was a ruddy man, with red hair going
grey, dressed very plain, but well, with a hard kind of look about him;
and he had had as much to drink as a man should have, and was in the
merry stage of his drink. Here, thought I, is the very man for me. He is
of both country and town; here is a chamber of which he seems lord--for
he ordered the maid about royally, and cursed her once or twice--and it
is a chamber apart from the rest. So I thought this a very proper place
to hear some talk in, and a very proper fellow to hear it from. For a
while I thought he had something of the look of an old soldier about
him; but then I thought no more of it.

When the others were gone out, and there was a little delay, I too--(God
forgive me!)--cursed the poor maid for a slut once or twice, and bade
her make haste with my dinner; and my manner had its effect, for the
fellow warmed to me presently and told me that he was Mr. Rumbald, and I
said on my part that my name was Mallock; and we shook hands upon it,
for that was the mood of the ale that was in him. (But he had other
moods, too, I learned later, when he was very repentant for his drink.)

I began then, to speak of Hare Street, and said that I lodged there
sometimes; and then began to speak of the parson there, and of what a
Churchman he was.

"Of Hare Street, eh?" said he. "Why I am not far from there myself. I am
of Hoddesdon, or near to it. Where have you lodged in Hare Street, and
what is your business?"

I was in a quandary at that, for it seemed to me then (though it was not
in reality), a piece of bad fortune that he should come from
thereabouts.

"I am Jack-of-all-trades," I said. "I did some garden work there for Mr.
Jermyn, the Papist."

"The Papist, eh?" cried Mr. Rumbald.

"I would work for the Devil," said I, "if he would pay me enough."

The words appeared to Mr. Rumbald very witty, though God knows why: I
suppose it was the ale in him: for he laughed aloud and beat on his leg.

"I'll be bound you would," he said.

And it was these words of mine which (under God's Providence, as I think
now) established my reputation with Mr. Rumbald as a dare-devil kind of
fellow that would do anything for money. He began, too, at that (which
pleased me better at the time), to speak of precisely those matters of
which I wished to hear. It was not treasonable talk, for the ale had not
driven all the sense out of him; but it was as near treasonable as might
be; and it was above all against the Catholics that he raged. I would
not defile this page by writing down all that he said; but neither Her
Majesty nor the Duke of York escaped his venom; there appeared nothing
too bad to be said of them; and he spoke of other names, too, of the
Duchess of Portsmouth whom he called by vile names (yet not viler than
she had rightfully earned) and the Duchess of Cleveland; and he began
upon the King, but stopped himself.

"But you are a Church of England man?" he said. "Well, so am I now, at
least I call myself so, though I should be a Presbyterian; but--" And he
stopped again.

Now all this was mighty interesting to me; for it was worse than
anything I had heard before; and yet he said it all as if it was common
talk among his kind, where he came from; and it was very consonant with
what the King had set me to do, which was to hear what the common people
had to say. My gorge rose at the man again and again; but I was a
tolerable actor in those days, and restrained myself very well. When he
went at last he clapped me on the back, as if it were I who had done all
the bragging.

"You are the right kind of fellow," he said, "and, by God, I wish there
were more of us. You will remember my name--Mr. Rumbald the maltster--I
am to be heard of here at any time, for I come up on my business every
week--though I was not always a maltster."

I promised I would remember him: and indeed after a while all England
has remembered him ever since.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was that same evening, I think (for my diary is confused at this
time, and no wonder), that when I came back to my lodgings about
supper-time, I found that a man had been from Mr. Chiffinch to bid me
come to Whitehall as soon as I returned; but the messenger had not
seemed greatly perturbed, James told me; so I changed my clothes and had
my supper and set out.

It would be about half-past seven o'clock when I came to Mr.
Chiffinch's; and when I tapped I had no answer. I tapped again; and then
a servant of Mr. Chiffinch's came running up the stairs (who had left
his post, I suspect) and asked me what I wanted there. When I told him
he seemed surprised, and he said that Mr. Chiffinch had company in his
inner closet; but that he would speak with him. So he left me standing
there; and went through, and I heard a door shut within. Presently he
came out again in something of a hurry, and bade me come in; and, to my
astonishment we went through the first room that was empty, and out
again beyond and down a dark passage. I heard voices as I went, talking
rapidly somewhere, but there was no one to be seen. Then he knocked
softly upon a door at the end of the passage; a voice cried to us to
come in; and I entered; and, to my astonishment, not only was the little
closet half full of persons, but these persons were somewhat
exceptional.

At the end of the table that was opposite me, sat His Majesty, tilting
his chair back a little as if he were weary of the talk; but his face
was flushed as if with anger. Upon his right sat the Duke, with his
periwig pushed a little back, and his face more flushed even than the
King's. Opposite to the Duke sat two men, whom I took to be priests by
their faces--one fair, the other dark--(and I presently proved to be
right)--and beside him Mr. Chiffinch, very eager-looking, and lean,
talking at a great speed, with his hands clasped upon the table.
Finally, my Lord Danby sat next to the Duke, opposite to Mr. Chiffinch,
with a sullen look upon his face. There was a great heap of papers,
again, upon the table, between the five men. All these persons turned
their eyes upon me as I came in and bowed low to the company; and then
Mr. Chiffinch jerked back a chair that was beside him, and beckoned to
me to sit down in it. The room appeared to me a secret kind of place,
with curtains pulled across the windows, where a man might be very
private if he wished. Mr. Chiffinch ended speaking as I came in, and all
sat silent.

His Majesty broke the silence.

"You are very late, Mr. Mallock," he said--no more than that; but I felt
the reproof very keenly. "Tell him, Chiffinch."

Then Mr. Chiffinch related to me an extraordinary story; and he told it
very well, balancing the two sides of it, so that I could not tell what
he thought.

It appeared that a day or two ago, Doctor Tonge had come to my Lord
Danby, in pursuance of the tale he had told before, saying that he had
received further information, from the very man whom he had suspected,
and now had certified, to be the writer of the first information under
forty-three heads, to the effect that a packet of letters was on its way
to Windsor, to that very Mr. Bedingfeld (of whom Mr. Whitbread had
spoken to me), on the matter of the plot to murder the King, and the
Duke too unless he would consent to the affair. My Lord Danby posted
immediately to Windsor that he might intercept these letters and examine
them for himself; but found that not only had Mr. Bedingfeld received
them, but had taken them to the Duke, saying that he did not understand
one word that was written in them. Those letters purported to have been
written from a number of Jesuits, and others--amongst whom were a Mr.
Coleman, an agent of the Duke's, and Mr. Langhorn, a lawyer; and related
to a supposed plot, not only to murder the King, and his brother, too,
perhaps, but to re-establish the Popish domination, to burn Westminster,
as they had already burned the City; and that the new positions in the
State had already been designed to certain persons, whose names were all
mentioned in the letters, by the Holy Father himself. The matter that
was now being discussed in this little chamber was, What was best to be
done?

Mr. Chiffinch told me this, as shortly almost as I have written it
down, glancing at His Majesty once or twice, and at the Duke, as if he
wished to know whether he were telling it properly; and as soon as he
ended His Majesty began:

"That is where we stand now, Mr. Mallock. As for me, I do not believe
one word of the tale, as I have said before: and I say that it is best
to destroy the letters, to tell Doctor Tonge that he is a damned fool,
if not worse, so to be cozened, and to say no more of it. I would not
have this made public for a thousand pounds. It is as I said before: I
knew that the matter would grow."

"And I say, Sir," put in the Duke savagely, "that Your Majesty forgets
who it is who are implicated--that it is these good Jesuit Fathers, and
my own confessor, too"--(he bowed slightly to the fair man, who returned
it)--"and that if the matter be not probed to the bottom, the names of
all will suffer, in the long run."

"Brother, brother," said Charles, "I entreat you not to speak so
violently. We all know how good the Fathers are, and do not suspect any
one of them. It is to save their name--"

"And I tell you," burst in James again, "that mine is the only way to do
it! Do you think, Sir, that these folks who are behind it all will let
the matter rest? It will grow and grow, as Your Majesty said; and we
shall have half the kingdom involved."

Here was a very pretty dispute, with sense on both sides, and yet there
appeared to me that there was more on His Majesty's than on the other.
If even then Dr. Tonge had been sent for and soundly rated, and made to
produce his informant, and the matter sifted, I believe we should have
heard no more of it. But it was not ordained so. They all spoke a good
deal, appealing to the two priests--Mr. Bedingfeld and Mr. Young--and
they both gave their opinions.

Presently Charles was silent; letting his chair come forward again on to
its four legs, and putting his head in his hands over the table. I had
never seen him so perturbed before. Then I ventured on a question.

"Sir, may I ask who is Doctor Tonge's informant?"

His Majesty glanced up at me as if he saw me for the first time.

"Tell him, Chiffinch," he said.

"His name is Doctor Oates," said the page. "He was a Papist once, and is
turned informer, he says. He still feigns secretly to be friends with
one or two of the Jesuits, he says."

"But every word you hear here is _sub sigillo_, Mr. Mallock," added the
King.

I knew no such name; and said no more. I had never heard of the man.

"Have you anything to say, Mr. Mallock?" asked the King presently.

"I have some reports to hand in, Sir," I said, "but they do not bear
directly upon this matter."

The King lifted his heavy eyes and let them fall again. He appeared
weary and dispirited.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we broke up at last, nothing was decided. On the one hand the
letters were not destroyed, and the Duke was still unforbidden to pursue
his researches; and, on the other there was no permission for a public
inquiry to be held. The counsels, in short, were divided; and that is
the worst state of all. The Duke said nothing to me, either at the table
or before he went out with Mr. Bedingfeld--or Mr. Mumford as he was
usually called: he appeared to consider me too young to be of any
importance, and to tolerate me only because the King wished it. I handed
to Mr. Chiffinch the reports of what folks had said to me in taverns and
elsewhere: and went away.

The days went by; and nothing of any importance appeared further. I
still frequented the company of the Jesuit Fathers, and the taverns as
before; but no more was heard, until a few days before the end of
September. On that day I was passing through the Court of Whitehall to
see if there were anything for me at Mr. Chiffinch's--for the King was
at Windsor again--when I saw Father Whitbread and Father Ireland, coming
swiftly out from the way that led to the Duke's lodgings--for he stayed
here a good deal during these days. They were talking together, and did
not see me till I was close upon them. When I greeted them, they stopped
all of a sudden.

"The very man!" said Mr. Whitbread.

Then he asked me whether I would come with them to the lodgings of Mr.
Fenwick, for they had something to say to me; and I went with them very
willingly, for it appeared to me that perhaps they had heard of the
matter which I had found so hard to keep from them. We said nothing at
all on the way; and when we got within, Mr. Whitbread told Mr. Grove to
stand at the foot of the stairs that no one might come up without his
knowledge. They bolted the door also, when we were within the chamber.
Then we all sat down.

"Now, Mr. Mallock," said Father Whitbread, "we know all that you know;
and why you have been with us so much; and we thank you for your
trouble."

I said nothing; but I bowed to them a little. But I knew that I had been
of little service as yet.

"It is all out," said the priest, "or will be in a day or two. Mr. Oates
hath been to Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey, the Westminster magistrate, with
the whole of his pretended information--his forty-three heads to which
he hath added now thirty-eight more, and he will be had before the
Council to-morrow. Sir Edmund hath told Mr. Coleman his friend, and the
Duke's agent, all that hath been sworn to before him; Mr. Coleman hath
told the Duke and hath fled from town to-night; and the Duke has
prevailed with the King to have the whole affair before the Council. I
think that His Majesty's way with it would have been the better; but it
is too late for that now. Now the matter must all come out; and Sir
Edmund hath said sufficient to shew us that it will largely turn upon a
consult that our Fathers held here in London, last April, at the White
Horse Tavern; for Oates hath mingled truth and falsehood in a very
ingenious fashion. He was at St. Omer's, you know, as a student; and was
expelled for an unspeakable crime, as he was expelled from our other
college at Valladolid also, for the same cause: so he knows a good deal
of our ways. He feigns, too, to be a Doctor of Divinity in Salamanca
University; but that is another of his lies, as I know for a truth. What
we wish to know, however, is how he knows so much of our movements
during these last months; for not one of us has seen him. You have been
to and fro to our lodgings a great deal, Mr. Mallock. Have you ever
seen, hanging about the streets outside any of them, a fellow with a
deformed kind of face--so that his mouth--"

And at that I broke in: for I had never forgotten the man's face,
against whom I had knocked one night in Drury Lane.

"I have seen the very man," I cried. "He is of middle stature; with a
little forehead and nose and a great chin."

"That is the man," said Mr. Whitbread. "When did you see him?"

I told them that it was on the night that I found Mrs. Ireland and her
daughter come from the play.

"He was standing in the mouth of the passage opposite," I said, "and
watched me as I went in."

"He will have been watching many nights, I think," said Mr. Whitbread,
"here, and in Duke Street, and at my own lodgings too."

I asked what he would do that for, if he had his tale already.

"That he may have more truth to stir up with his lies," said Mr.
Whitbread. "He will say who he has seen go in and out; and we shall not
be able to deny it."

He said this very quietly, without any sign of perturbation; and Mr.
Ireland was the same. They seemed a little thoughtful only.

"But no harm can come to you," I cried. "His Majesty hath promised it."

"Yes: His Majesty hath promised it," said Mr. Whitbread in such a manner
that my heart turned cold; but I said no more on the point.

"Now, Mr. Mallock," said the priest, "we must consider what is best to
be done. When the case comes on, as it surely will, the question for us
is what you must do. I doubt not that you could give evidence that you
have found us harmless folk"--(he smiled as he said this)--"but I do not
know that you will be able to add much to what other of our witnesses
will be able to say. I am not at all sure but that it may not be best
for you to keep away from the case at first at any rate. You have the
King's ear, which is worth more to us than any testimony you could
give."

"Why do you not fly the country?" I cried.

He smiled again.

"Because that," he said, "would be as much as to say that we were
guilty; and so the whole Society would be thought guilty, and the Church
too. No, Mr. Mallock, we must see the matter out, and trust to what
justice we can get. But I do not think we shall get a great deal."

So it was decided then, that I would not give testimony unless there was
some call for it; and I took my leave, marvelling at the constancy of
these men, who preferred to imperil life itself, sooner than reputation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well; all went forward as Mr. Whitbread had said it would. On the
twenty-eighth day of September Dr. Oates appeared before the Council to
give his testimony; and it was to the same effect as was that which I
had heard Mr. Chiffinch relate before, as to the Jesuit plot to murder
the King, and if need be, the Duke too, and to establish Catholic
domination in England.

I went into a gallery in the Council room for a little, to confirm with
my own eyes whether it were Dr. Titus Oates himself against whom I had
knocked in Drury Lane; and it was the man without doubt, though he
looked very different in his minister's dress. It was not a very great
room, and only those were admitted who had permission. His Majesty
himself was there upon the second day; and sat in the midst of the
table, at the upper end, with the Duke beside him, and the great
officers round about; amongst whom I marked my Lord Shaftesbury, who I
was beginning to think knew more of the plot than had appeared; Dr.
Oates stood in a little pew at one side, so that when he turned to speak
I could see his face. Dr. Tonge and Mr. Kirby and others sat on a seat
behind him.

He was dressed as a minister--for he had been one, before his pretended
reconciliation to the Catholic Church--in gown and bands and wore a
great periwig; and not his face only--which no man could forget who had
once set eyes on it--but the strange accent with which he spoke,
confirmed me that it was the man I had seen.

My Lord Danby, I think it was, questioned him a good deal, as well as
others: and he repeated the same tale with great fluency, with many
gibes and aphorisms such as that the Jesuits had laid a wager that if
Carolus Rex would not become R.C.--which is Roman Catholic--he should
not much longer remain C.R. He said too that he had been reconciled to
the Church on Ash Wednesday of last year; but that "he took God and His
holy angels to witness that he had never changed the religion in his
heart," but that it was all a pretence to spy out Papistical plots.

His Royal Highness broke out, when he had done, declaring the whole
matter a bundle of lies; and when one or two asked Oates for any
writings or letters that he had--since he had been so long amongst the
Jesuits, and was so much trusted by them--he said that he had none; but
could get them easily enough if warrants and officers were given him. I
suppose the truth was that he had not wit enough to write them as yet,
but had thought the Windsor letters (as I may call them) would be
enough. (These questions had also been put to him on the day before, but
were repeated now for the King's benefit.)

His Majesty himself, I think, proved the shrewdest examiner of them all.

"You said that you met Don Juan, the Spaniard, in your travels, Doctor
Oates. Pray, what is he like in face and figure?"

"My Lard--Your Majesty," said Oates, "he is a tall black thin faylow,
with swatthy features"--(for so he pronounced his words.)

"Eh?" asked the King.

Dr. Oates repeated his words; and the King turned, nodding and smiling,
to His Royal Highness; for the Spanish bastard is far more Austrian than
Spanish, and is fair and fat and of small stature.

"Excellent, Doctor Oates," said the King. "And now there is another
small matter. You told these gentlemen yesterday that you saw--with your
own eyes--the bribe of ten thousand pound paid down by the French King's
confessor. Pray, where was this money paid?"

"In the Jesuits' house in Paris, your Majesty," said the man.

"And where is that?"

"That--Your Majesty--that house is--is near the King's own house." (But
he spoke hesitatingly.)

Then the King broke out in indignation; and beat his hand on the table.

"Man!" he cried. "The Jesuits have no house within one mile of the
Louvre!"

It pleased me to hear the King say that; for I was a little uneasy at
Father Whitbread's manner when he had spoken of the King's promise; but
I was less pleased a day or two afterwards to hear that His Majesty was
gone to Newmarket, to the races, and had left the Council to do as best
it could; and that the Jesuits had been taken that same
night--Michaelmas eve--after Oates had been had before the Council.
There had been a great to-do at the taking of Father Whitbread, for the
Spanish soldiers had been called out to save the Ambassador's house, so
great was the mob that went to see him taken.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next public event in the whole affair was the last and worst of all
the links that were being forged so swiftly: and the news of it came to
me as follows.

I had gone to sup in Aldgate, where I had listened to a good deal of
talk from some small gentry, as to the Papist plot; and had been happy
to hear three or four of them declare that they believed there was
nothing in it, and even the rest of them were far from positive on the
matter; and I had stayed late over my pipe with them, so that it was
long after my usual time when I returned towards my lodgings, walking
alone, for I said good-bye to the last of my companions in the City.

As I came up into the Strand, I saw before me what appeared to be the
tail of a great concourse of people, and heard the murmur of their
voices; and, mending my pace a little, I soon came up with them. I went
along for a little, trying to hear what they were saying upon the
affair, and to learn what the matter was; for by now the street was one
pack of folk all moving together. Little by little, then, I began to
hear that someone had been strangled, and that "he was found with his
neck broken," and then that "his own sword was run through his heart,"
and words of that kind.

Now I had heard talk before that Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey was run away
with a woman, and to avoid the payment of his debts, which, if it were
true, were certainly a very strange happening at such a time, since he
was the magistrate before whom Oates had laid his information; but six
days were gone by, and I had not thought very much of it, for his
running away could not now in any way affect the information that had
been laid. He was a very gentle man, though melancholy; and, though a
good Protestant, troubled no man that was of another religion than
himself--neither Papist nor Independent.

But when I heard the people about me speaking in this manner, the name
of Sir Edmund came to my mind; and I asked a fellow that was tramping
near me, who it was that was strangled and where the body was. But he
turned on me with such a burst of oaths, that I thought it best to draw
no more attention to myself, and presently slipped away. Then I thought
myself of a little rising ground, a good bit in advance, whence, perhaps
I might be able to see something of what was passing; and I made my way
across the street, to a lane that led round on the north. As I came
across, in the fringes of the crowd, I saw a minister walking, in his
cassock; so I saluted him courteously, and asked what the matter was.

He looked at me with an agitated face, and said nothing: his lips
worked, and he was very pale, yet it seemed to me with anger: so I asked
him again; and this time he answered.

"Sir, I do not know who you are," he said. "But it is Sir Edmund Berry
Godfrey who has been foully murdered by the Papists. He hath been found
on Primrose Hill, and we are taking him to his house. I do not know,
sir--"

But I was gone; and up the lane as fast as I could run. All that I had
heard, all that I had feared, all even that I had dreamed, was being
fulfilled. The links were forging swiftly. I do not know, even now as I
write, how it was that Sir Edmund met his end, whether he had killed
himself, as I think--for he was of a melancholiac disposition, as was
his father and his grandfather before him--or whether, as indeed I think
possible, he was murdered by the very man who swore so many Catholic
lives away, by way of giving colour to his own designs--for if a man
will swear away twenty lives, what should hinder him from taking one?
One thing only I know, that no Catholic, whether old or young, Jesuit or
not, saint or sinner, had any act or part in it; and on that I would lay
down my own life.

By the time that I arrived at the rising mound--for a force mightier
than prudence drove me to see the end--the head of the great concourse
was beginning to arrive. Across the street from side to side stretched
the company, all tramping together and murmuring like the sound of the
sea. It was as if all London town was gone mad: for I do not believe
there were above twenty men in that great mob, who were not persuaded
that here was the corroboration of all that had been said upon the
matter of the plot; and that the guilt of the Papists was made plain.
Some roared, as they came, threats and curses upon the Pope, the
Jesuits, and every Catholic that drew breath; but the most part marched
silently, and more terribly, as it appeared to me. The street was
becoming as light as day, for torches were being kindled as they came;
and, at the last, came the great coach, swaying upon its swings, in
which the body was borne.

I craned my head this way and that to see; and, as the coach passed
beneath me, I saw into its interior, and how there lay there, supported
by two men, the figure of another man whose face was covered with a
white cloth.



CHAPTER VII


It would occupy too much space, were I to set down in detail all that
passed between the finding of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey's body, and the
being brought to trial of the Jesuit Fathers. But a brief summary must
be given.

The funeral of Sir Edmund was held three or four days later in St.
Martin's, and the sermon was preached by Dr. Lloyd, his friend, who
spoke from a pulpit guarded by two other thumping divines, lest he
should be murdered by the Papists as he did it. There was a concourse of
people that cannot be imagined; and seventy-two ministers walked in
canonicals at the head of the procession. Dr. Lloyd spoke of the dead
man as a martyr to the Protestant religion.

By the strangest stroke of ill-fortune Parliament met ten days before
the funeral, which happened on the thirty-first of October; so that the
excitement of the people--greatly increased by the exhibition of the
dead body of Sir Godfrey--was ratified by their rulers--I say their
rulers, since His Majesty, it appeared, could do nothing to stem the
tide. It was my Lord Danby who opened the matter in the House of Peers
that he might get what popularity he could to protect him against the
disgrace that he foresaw would come upon him presently for the French
business; and every violent word that he spoke was applauded to the
echo. The House of Commons took up the cry; a solemn fast was appointed
for the appeasing of God Almighty's wrath; guards were set in all the
streets, and chains drawn across them, to prevent any sudden rising of
the Papists; and all Catholic householders were bidden to withdraw ten
miles from London. (This I did not comply with; for I was no
householder.) Besides all this, both men and women went armed
continually--the men with the "Protestants' flails," and ladies with
little pistols hidden in their muffs. Workmen, too, were set to search
and dig everywhere for "Tewkesbury mustard-balls," as they were
called--or fire-balls, with which it was thought that the Catholics
would set London a-fire, as Oates had said they would--or vast treasures
which the Jesuits were thought to have buried in the Savoy and other
places. Folks took alarm at the leastest matters; once my Lord Treasurer
himself rode into London crying that the French army was already landed,
when all that he had seen were some horses in the mist; once it was
thought, from the noise of digging that some fat-head heard, that the
Papists were mining to blow up Westminster. The King, whom I dared not
go to see in all this uproar, and who did not send for me, went to and
fro even in Whitehall, guarded everywhere--in private, as I heard,
pouring scorn upon the plot, yet in public concealing his opinion; and
upon the ninth of November he made a speech in the House of Lords,
confirming all my fears, thanking his subjects for their devotion, and
urging them to deal effectually with the Popish recusants that were such
a danger to the kingdom! In October, too, five Catholic Lords--the Earl
of Powis, Viscount Stafford, my Lord Petre, my Lord Arundell of Wardour,
and my Lord Bellasis were committed to the Tower on a charge of treason.

I saw Dr. Oates more than once during these days, coming out of
Whitehall with the guards that were given to protect him, carrying
himself very high, in his minister's dress; and no wonder, for the man
was the darling of the nation and was called its "Saviour," and had had
a great pension voted to him of twelve hundred pounds a year. He did not
think then, I warrant, of the day when he would be whipped from Newgate
to Tyburn at a cart's tail; and again, laid upon a sled and whipped
again through the City, for that he could not stand by reason of his
first punishment. Another fellow too had come forward, named Bedloe,
once a stable-boy to my Lord Bellasis, who had given himself up at
Bristol, with "information," as he called it, as to Sir Edmund's murder,
which he said had been done in Somerset House itself, by the priests and
others, saying that the wax that was found upon the dead man's breeches
came from the candles of the altar that the priests had held over him
while they did it! Presently too, at the trial and even before it,
Bedloe made his evidence to concur with Oates', though at the first
there was no sign of it. Even before the trial, however, the audacity of
the two villains waxed so great, as even to seek to embroil Her Majesty
herself in the matter, and to make her privy to the whole plot; and this
Oates did, at the bar of the House of Commons. But the King was so wrath
at this, that little more was heard of it.

The Duke of York, during these proceedings, saved himself very well.
When the Bill for the disabling of Papists from the holding of office or
of sitting in either House of Parliament, had passed through the
Commons, he made a speech upon it in the House of Lords, speaking so
well that others as well as he were moved to tears by it. He said that
his religion should be a matter between his soul and God only; and
should never affect his public conduct; and this with so much weight
that the decision was given in his favour, since he was the King's
brother. I should never have thought that he could have done so well.

Mr. Coleman was the first to be brought to trial, at the beginning of
December, for he came back and gave himself up the day after he had at
first fled. He was already pre-judged; for so violent was the feeling
against the Papists that my Lord Lucas said in the House of Lords that
if he could have his way, he "would not have even a Popish cat to mew
and purr about the King." Coleman, I say, was the first of those who had
before been accused; but a Mr. Stayley, a Catholic banker (who had his
house not far from me in Covent Garden), was even before him judged and
executed, on account of some words that a lying Scotsman had said he had
heard him use in the tavern in the same place.

I did not go to the trial of Mr. Coleman; for that I had nothing to say
for him; and indeed Mr. Coleman's own letters--written three or four
years ago--were the severest witnesses against him, in which he had
written to Father La Chaise--(whom Oates at first called Father Le
Shee)--the French King's confessor, and others, that if he could lay
hands on a good sum of money, he could accomplish a great project he
had for the restoration of the Catholic religion in England. (These
letters were found in a drawer he had forgotten, when he had burned all
the rest; and proved very unfortunate for him.) He meant by this, I have
no doubt, the bribing of many Parliament-men to win toleration, and to
get His Royal Highness restored as Lord High Admiral. He said this was
his meaning; and I see no reason to doubt it, for he was a pragmatical
kind of man, full of great affairs; but Chief Justice Scroggs waved it
all away; and it was made to appear exactly consonant with all that
Oates and Bedloe had said as to the project of killing the King. So
great was the excitement, not of the common people only, but of those
who should have known better, and so shrewd were these who took
advantage of it, that my Lord Shaftesbury, who was waxing very hot upon
the supposed Plot, for his own ends, was heard to say that any man that
threw doubt on the plot must be treated as an enemy. Mr. Coleman was
executed at Tyburn on the third day of December.

       *       *       *       *       *

The trial of Father Ireland, Mr. Grove and Mr. Pickering--who was a
Benedictine lay-brother--was opened on the seventeenth day of December,
in the Sessions House at Justice Hall in the Old Bailey.

I was in the Court early, before the trial began, carrying a letter with
me which Mr. Chiffinch got for me from my Lord Peterborough, that I
might have a good place; and I had a very good one; for it was in a
little gallery that looked down into the well of the court, so that I
could see all that I wished, and the faces of all the prisoners, judges
and witnesses, and yet by leaning back could avoid observation--for I
had no wish, for others' sake, if not for my own, to be recognized by
any of the witnesses. The seats for my Lords were on the left, under a
state, with their desks before them; the place for the prisoners on the
right, facing the judges; and for the witnesses opposite to me. The jury
was beneath; and the counsels in front of them with their backs to me.

When the Court was full to bursting, my Lords came in, with the Chief
Justice--that is Sir William Scroggs--in the midst. I had never seen him
before, though I knew how hot he was against Catholics, and I looked to
see what he was like. It was a dark morning, and the candles were
lighted on my Lords' desks; and I could see his face pretty well in
their light. He was in scarlet, and wore his great wig; and he talked
behind his hand, with what seemed a great deal of merriment to Mr.
Justice Bertue, who sat on one side of him, and the Recorder Jeffreys
who sat upon the other. He had very heavy brows; his face was
clean-shaven, and his mouth was like a trap when he shut it, and looked
grave, as he did so soon as the clerk had done his formalities. He was a
strong man, I thought, who would brook no opposition, and would have his
way--as indeed he did; and the rest of my Lords had little or no say in
the proceedings; and least of all had the jury, except to do what the
Lord Chief Justice bid them.

The three prisoners--for Mr. Whitbread and Mr. Fenwick were presently
withdrawn to be tried later, since they could not get two false
witnesses against them at that time--were Mr. Ireland, Mr. Grove and Mr.
Pickering, and I looked upon them with infinite compassion, to see how
they would bear themselves. Mr. Pickering I had never seen before; so I
could not tell whether or no he bore himself as usual. But the two
others I had seen again and again; yet, with respect to them both I
remembered principally that occasion when Mr. Ireland had entertained
his mother and sister in Mr. Fenwick's lodging on that one night he was
in town, and gone off with them into the dark so merrily; and Mr. Grove
had brought up the chocolate in white cups, and we had all been merry
together. Now they stood here in the dock together, and answered to
their names cheerfully and courageously; and I could see that neither
anguish of heart nor the fear of death had availed to change their
countenances in the leastest degree. They stood there, scarcely moving,
except once or twice to whisper to one another, while Dr. Oates told his
lying tale.

It was now for the first time that I understood how shrewdly, and yet
how clumsily now and then, the man had weaved together his information.
He spoke with an abundance of detail that astonished me; he spoke of
names and places with the greatest precision; he related how himself had
been sent from St. Omer's with fifty pounds promised him, to kill Dr.
Tonge who had lately translated a book from the French named "The
Jesuits' Morals"; he spoke of a chapel in Mrs. Sanders' house, at
Wild-House, where he had been present, he said, at a piece of
conspiring; and so forth continually, interlarding his tale with bursts
of adjuration and piety and indignation, so evidently feigned--though
with something of the Puritan manner in it--that I marvelled that any
man could be deceived who did not wish to be; and all with his vile
accent. He spoke much also, as Mr. Whitbread had told me that he would,
of the consult of the Fathers--of all that is, who had the _jus
suffragii_ in England--that had been held at the White Horse Tavern in
the Strand, in April; pretending that at this the murder of the King was
again decided upon, and designed too, in all particulars; how Mr.
Pickering and Mr. Grove had been deputed to do the killing in St. James'
Park with screwed pistols, as His Majesty walked there, or if not there,
at Newmarket or Windsor; and how commissions had been given to various
persons (whom he named), which they were to hold in the army that was to
be raised, when His Majesty had been murdered, and the French King Louis
let in with his troops. Worst of all, however, was the assertion which
he made again and again that no Catholic's oath, even in Court, could be
taken to be worth anything, since the Pope gave them all dispensations
to swear falsely; for such an assertion as this deprives an accused man
of all favour with the jury and destroys the testimonies of all Catholic
witnesses. And, what amazed me most of all was that Chief Justice
Scroggs supported him in this, and repeated it to the jury again and
again. He said so first to Mr. Whitbread, before he was withdrawn.

"If you have a religion," he said, "that can give a dispensation for
oaths, sacraments, protestations and falsehoods, how can you expect that
we should believe you?"

"I know no such thing," said Mr. Whitbread very tranquilly.

Bedloe, too, told the same tale as he had told before, but with many
embellishments; and was treated by my Lords with as much respect, very
nearly, as Oates himself; and they were both given refreshment by the
Chief Justice's order.

       *       *       *       *       *

I could have found it in my heart to kill that man--Oates, I mean--as he
stood there in his gown and bands and periwig, with his guards behind
him, swearing away those good men's lives; now standing upright, now
leaning on the rail before him, and now reposing himself on a stool that
was brought for him. His monstrous countenance was as the face of a
devil; he feigned now to weep, now to be merry. But most of all I hated
the man, when the piteous sight was seen of the entrance of Mrs. Ireland
and her daughter, who came to testify that Mr. Ireland was not in London
at all on those days in August when Oates had sworn that he had spoken
with him there. They stood there, as gallant women as might be, turning
their eyes now and again upon the priest who was all the world to them
by ties both of nature and grace; but all their testimony went for
nothing, since, first my Lord had told the jury that a Catholic's oath
was worth nothing, and next the prisoners had had no opportunity to know
what charges precisely they were that were to be brought against them,
and had had therefore no time to get their witnesses together. They
complained very sharply of this; but my Lord puffed it all away, and
would scarcely allow them to finish one sentence without interruption.

Mr. Ireland said upon one occasion that though he had no witnesses, for
he had had no time to get them, yet he could get witnesses that there
were witnesses.

"I know," said the Chief Justice, "what your way of arguing is; that is
very pretty. You have witnesses that can prove you have witnesses, and
those witnesses can prove that you have more witnesses, and so _in
infinitum_. And thus you argue in everything you do."

It was growing dark when the evidence (for so it was called) was done;
and the end was drawing near; and the candles which had been put out
long ago were lighted again by an usher, who came in with a taper when
the Lord Chief Justice called for lights. But the candles burned very
badly, by reason of the closeness of the Court in which so many persons
had been gathered for so long; and shed but a poor illumination. My eyes
were weary too with staring upon the people--now upon the monstrous face
of Oates, that was like a nightmare for terror, now upon the prisoners
so patient in the dock, and now upon my Lords on their high seats
beneath the state, and especially upon that hard and bitter face of
Chief Justice Scroggs who, if ever a man murdered innocent folk, was
murdering to-day the three men before him, by the direction which he
gave to the jury, and the manner he conducted the case. I could, by now,
see the faces only one by one, as each leant into the light of the
candles; and it appeared to me, again and again, that these were mocking
demons and not men, and Oates the lord of them all and of hell itself
from which they all came, and to which they must return. I closed my
eyes sometimes, both to rest them, and that I might pray for bare
justice to be done; but my prayers were to me like the lifting of
weights too great for my strength. One hope only remained to me, and
that lay in His Majesty; for, although he had permitted the deaths of
Coleman and of Stayley, these might indeed have appeared guilty to one
who knew nothing of them; but I could not find it in my heart to believe
that he would suffer these Jesuits to die, of whom he had sworn to me
that not a hair of their heads should be injured. I had determined, too,
to go to His Majesty, so soon as the trial was done, and the verdict
given as I knew it would be, and hear from his own lips that he would
keep his word, at whatever cost to himself.

It was dark then, by the time that all the evidence had been given, and
the Chief Justice had done his directing of the jury. The Court, crowded
though it was with the people, was as still as death, so soon as the
jury came back after a very short recess. I could hear only the
breathing of the folks on all hands. A woman sat beside me, who had
been as early as myself that morning; but she had roared and clapped
with the rest, at the earlier stages, when the Chief Justice had
silenced the prisoners or thrown doubt upon what they said. She was
quiet now, however, and I wondered how the evidence had affected her.

When the jury were ready to give their verdict, the talking that had
broken out a little, grew silent again; but when the verdict of Guilty
was given, it broke out once more into a storm of shouting; so that the
rafters rang with it. The woman beside me--for I sat at the end of a
bench and had nothing but the wall beyond me--appeared to awaken at the
tumult and join her voice to it, beating with her hand at the edge of
the gallery in front of her. As for me I looked at the prisoners. They
were all upright in their places, Mr. Ireland in the midst of the three;
and were as still as if nothing were the matter. They were looking at
the Lord Chief Justice, at whom I too turned my eyes, and saw he was
grinning and talking behind his hand to the Recorder. It was a very
travesty of justice that I was looking at, and no true trial at all.
There were a thousand points of dissonance that I had remarked
myself--as to how it was, for instance, that one fellow had been
promised twenty guineas for killing the King and another fifteen hundred
pounds; as to how it was that Oates, who professed himself so loyal, had
permitted four ruffians to go to Windsor (as he said), with intent to
murder the King, and that he had said nothing of it at the time. But all
was passed over in this lust for the Jesuits' blood.

I knew that my Lord would make a great speech on the affair, before he
would make an end and give sentence; for this was a great opportunity
for him to curry favour not only with the people, but with men like my
Lord Shaftesbury who was behind him in all the matter; and as I had no
wish to hear what he would have to say (for I knew it all by heart
already) and, still less to hear the terrible words of the sentence for
High Treason passed upon these three good men in the dock, I rose up
quietly from my place, and slipped out of the door by which I had come
in. As I was about to close the door behind me I heard silence made, and
my Lord Justice Scroggs beginning his speech--and these were the words
which first he addressed to the jury.

"Gentlemen," he said, "you have done like very good subjects and very
good Christians; that is to say like very good Protestants; and now much
good may their thirty thousand masses do them!" When he said this, he
was referring to a piece of Dr. Oates' lying evidence as to a part of
the reward that they should get for killing the King. But I closed the
door; for I could bear to hear no more. But afterwards I heard that they
then adjourned for an hour or two, and that it was the Recorder--Sir
George Jeffreys--that gave sentence.

When I presented myself, half an hour later, at Mr. Chiffinch's
lodgings, I had very nearly persuaded myself that all would yet be well.
For I thought it impossible that any man to whom the report of the trial
should be brought, could ever think that justice had been done; least of
all the King who is the fount of it, under God. I knew very well that
His Majesty would have to bear the brunt of some unpopularity if he
refused to sign the warrants for their death; but he appeared to me to
care not very much for popularity--since he outraged it often enough in
worse ways than in maintaining the right. He had said to me, too, so
expressly that no harm should come to the Fathers or to Mr. Grove and
Mr. Pickering either; and he had said so, I was informed, even more
forcibly to the Duke and those that were with him--saying that his right
hand should rot off if ever he took the pen into his hand for such a
purpose. I remembered these things, even while the plaudits of the crowd
still rang in my ears, and the bitter cruelty of my Lord Chief Justice's
words to the jury. His Majesty, I said to myself, is above all these
lesser folk, and will see that no wrong is done. And, besides all this,
he is half a Catholic himself and he knows against what kind of men
these charges have been made.

I was pretty reassured then, when I knocked upon the door of Mr.
Chiffinch's lodgings, and told the man who opened to me that I must see
his master.

He took me through immediately into the little passage I had been in
before, and himself tapped upon the door of the inner parlour; then he
opened it, and let me through: for Mr. Chiffinch was accustomed by now
to receive me at any hour.

He rose civilly enough, and asked me what I wished with him, so soon as
the door was shut.

"The verdict is given," I said. "I must see His Majesty."

He screwed up his lips in a way he had.

"It is Guilty, I suppose," he said.

I told him Yes;

"And I have never seen," I said, "such a travesty of justice."

He looked down upon the table, considering, drumming his fingers upon
it.

"That is as may be," he said. "But as for His Majesty--"

I broke out on him at that: for I was fiercely excited.

"Man," I cried, "there is no question about that. I must see His Majesty
instantly."

He looked at me again, as if considering.

"Well," he said. "What must be, must. I will see His Majesty. He is not
yet gone to supper."

At the door he turned again.

"The verdict was Guilty?" he said. "You were there and heard it?"

I told him Yes; for I was all impatient.

"And how was that verdict received in court?"

"It was applauded," I said shortly.

He still waited an instant. Then he went out.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was all in a fever till he came back; for his manner and his
hesitation had renewed my terrors. Yet still I would not let myself
doubt. I went up and down the room, and looked at the pictures in it.
There was a little one by Lely, not finished, of my Lady Castlemaine,
done before she was made Duchess, which I suppose the King had given to
him; but I remembered afterwards nothing else that I saw at that time.

In about half an hour he came back again; but he shut the door behind
him before he spoke.

"His Majesty will see you in a few minutes," he said, "but he goes to
supper presently; and must not be detained. And there is something else
that I must ask you first."

I was all impatient to be gone; but impatience would not help me at all.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, sitting down, "did you see any man following you
from the Court? Or at the doors of the Palace?"

My heart stood still when he said that; for though I had done my best at
all times for the last month or two to pass unnoticed so far as I could,
I had known well enough that having been so much with the Jesuits as I
had, it was not impossible that I had been marked by some spy or other,
or even by Oates himself, since he had seen me go into Mr. Fenwick's
lodgings. But I had fancied of late that I must have escaped notice, and
had been more bold lately, as in going to the Court to-day.

"Followed?" I said. "What do you mean, Mr. Chiffinch?"

"You saw no fellow after you, or loitering near, at the gates, as you
came in?"

"I saw no one," I said.

"The gates were barred, as usual?"

"Yes," I said. "And the guard fetched a lieutenant before he would let
me in."

(For ever since the late alarms extraordinary precautions had been taken
in keeping the great gates of the Palace always guarded.)

"And you saw no one after you?"

"No one," I said.

"Well," said Mr. Chiffinch, "a fellow was after you. For when you were
gone in he came up to the guard and asked who you were, and by what
right you had entered. The lieutenant sent a mail to tell me so, and I
met him in the passage as I went out."

"Who was the fellow?"

"Oh! a man called Dangerfield. The lieutenant very prudently detained
him; and I went across and questioned him before I went to His Majesty.
I know nothing of the man, except that he hath been convicted, for I saw
the branding in his hand when we examined him. We let him go again
immediately."

"He knows my name?"

Mr. Chiffinch smiled.

"We are not so foolish as that, Mr. Mallock. He thinks you have some
place at Court; but we did not satisfy him as to your name."

I said nothing; for there was nothing to say.

"You had best be very careful, Mr. Mallock," went on the page, standing
up again. "You have been mixing a great deal with unpopular folks. You
will be of no service to His Majesty at all if you fall under suspicion.
You had best go back by water to the Temple Stairs."

He spoke a little coldly; and I perceived that he thought I had been
indiscreet.

"Well," he said, "we had best be going to His Majesty's lodgings."

I had flattered myself, up to the present, that I knew His Majesty's
capacities tolerably well. I thought him to be an easily read man, with
both virtues and vices uppermost, wearing his heart on his sleeve, as
the saying is--indolent, witty, lacking all self-control--yet not, as I
might say, a deep man. I was to learn the truth, or rather begin to
learn it, on this very night.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I entered his private closet he was sitting not where I had seen
him before, but at the great table in the midst of the floor, with his
papers about him, and an appearance of great industry. He did not do
more than look up for an instant, and then down again; and I stood
there before him, after I had bowed and been taken no notice of, as it
were a scholar waiting to be whipped.

He was all ready for supper, in his lace, with his hat on his head; and
he was writing a letter, with a pair of candles burning before him in
silver candlesticks. His face wore a very heavy and preoccupied look;
and I was astonished that he paid me no attention.

He finished at last, threw sand on the paper from the pounce-box, and
pushed it aside. Then he leaned his cheeks in his hands, and his elbows
on the table, and looked at me. But he did not speak unkindly.

"Here you are then," he said. "And I hear you bring news from the Old
Bailey?"

"I came from there half an hour ago, Sir."

"Ah! And the verdict was Guilty, Mr. Chiffinch tells me?"

"Yes, Sir."

"How did the people take it?"

"They applauded a great deal, Sir."

"They applauded, you say. At the end only, or all the while?"

"They applauded, Sir, whenever any of my Lords made a hit against the
Catholics."

"Were there any who did otherwise?"

"Not one, Sir, that I could hear."

"The Chief Justice. What did he say?"

"He made many protestations of devotion to your Majesty, Sir, and to the
Protestant Religion. He beat down the Catholics at every point. He
permitted none of their witnesses to speak freely."

The King was silent a moment. Then he went on again.

"And the prisoners. How did they bear themselves?"

"They bore themselves like gallant gentlemen, Sir. They fought every
point, so far as the Chief Justice would permit them."

"Did they shew any fear when the verdict was brought in?"

"None, Sir. They relied upon your Majesty's protection, no doubt."

Again His Majesty was silent. I still stood on the other side of the
table from him, waiting to say what I had to say. The King shewed no
sign of having heard what I had last said.

Then, to my astonishment he turned on me again very sharply.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "I have a fault to find with you. Mr. Chiffinch
tells me that you were followed from the Court, and that a fellow was
asking after you at the gate. You say that you wish to serve me. Well,
those who serve me must be very discreet and very shrewd. Plainly, you
have not been so in this instance. You are a very young man; and I do
not wish to be severe. But you must remember, Mr. Mallock, that such a
thing as this must not happen any more."

My mouth was gone suddenly dry at this attack of His Majesty upon me. I
licked my lips with my tongue in readiness to answer; but before I could
speak, the King went on again.

"Now I had a little business to entrust to you; but I am not sure if it
be not best to give it to another hand."

He took up from the table before him a newly sealed little packet that I
had not noticed before; and sat weighing it in his hand, as if
considering, while his eyes searched my face.

"Sir--" I began.

"Yes, Mr. Mallock, I know what you would say. That is all very well; but
my servants must not make mistakes such as you have made. It was the
height of madness for you to go to the Court at all to-day. I have no
doubt that you were seen there, and followed; and you could have been of
no service to your friends there, in any case. Mr. Chiffinch tells me he
will provide a wherry for you immediately, that you may go back without
observation. You must do this. The question before my mind is as to
whether you shall take this packet with you, or not. What do you say,
Mr. Mallock?"

All the while he had been speaking, I had been in a torment of misery.
As yet I had done little or nothing for His Majesty, after all my
commissioning from Rome; and now that the first piece of work was on
hand, it was doubtful whether I had not forfeited it by my clumsiness.
For the moment I forgot what I had come for. I was all set on acquitting
myself well. I was but twenty-one years old!

"Sir," I cried, "if your Majesty will entrust that to me, you shall
never repent it."

He smiled; but his face went back again to its heaviness. "It is a very
difficult commission," he said. "And, what is of more importance than
all else is that the packet should fall into no hand other than the one
that should have it. For this reason, there is no name written upon it.
But I have sealed it with a private signet of my own, both within and
without; and you must bear the packet with you until you can deliver
it."

"I understand, Sir."

"I can send no courier with it, for the reasons of which I have spoken.
No man, Mr. Mallock, but you and I must know of its very existence.
Neither can I tell you now to whom the packet must be given. You must
bear it with you, sir, until you have a message from me, signed with the
same seal as that which it bears, telling you where you must take it,
and to whom. You understand?"

"I understand, Sir."

"You must leave London immediately until your face is forgotten, and
until this storm is over. You have a cousin in the country?"

"Yes, Sir; Mr. Jermyn at Hare Street."

"You had best lie there for the present; and I can send to you there, so
soon as I have an opportunity. Meanwhile you must have this always at
hand, and be ready to set out with it, so soon as you hear where you
must go with it. That is all plain, Mr. Mallock?"

"I understand, Sir."

The King rose abruptly, pushing back his chair; and as he rose I heard
the trumpets for supper, in the Court outside.

"Then you had best be gone. Take it, Mr. Mallock."

I came round and received the packet; and I kissed the King's hand
which he had not given to me as I had come in. My heart was overjoyed at
the confidence which he shewed me; and I slipped the packet immediately
within my waistcoat. It was square and flat and lay there easily in a
little pocket which the tailor had contrived there. Then, as I stood up
again, the memory of what I had come for flashed back on me again.

"Sir," I said, "there is one other matter."

His Majesty was already turning away; but he stopped and looked over his
shoulder.

"Eh?" he said.

"Sir, it is with regard to the Jesuits who were condemned to-day."

He jerked his hand impatiently in a way he had.

"I have no time for that," he said, "no time."

Then he was gone out at the other door, and I heard him going
downstairs.

Now as I came downstairs again the further way, and heard the trumpets
go, to shew that the King was come out, I had no suspicion of anything
but my own foolishness in not speaking of what I had come about. But, by
the time that I was at the Temple Stairs, I wondered whether or no the
King had not had that very design, to put me off from which I wished to
say. And at the present time I am certain of it--that His Majesty wished
to hear from me at once of the proceedings at the trial, and then spoke
immediately of that other matter of the packet, and of my being followed
to the Palace Gates, with the express purpose of hindering me from
saying anything; for I am sure that at this time he had not yet made up
his mind as to what he would do when the warrants were brought to him,
and did not wish to speak of it.



CHAPTER VIII


The first thing that I did when I got home was to call for my man James,
and bid him shut the door. (My man was about forty years old, and he had
been got for me in Rome, having fallen ill there in the service of my
Lord Stafford--being himself a Catholic, and a very good one, for he
went to the sacraments three or four times in the year, wherever he was.
He was a clean-shaven fellow, and very sturdy and quick, and a good hand
at cut and thrust and the quarter-staff, as I had seen for myself at
Hare Street on the summer evenings. I had found him always discreet and
silent, though I had not as yet given him any great confidence.)

"James," I said to him with great solemnity, "I have something to say to
you which must go no further."

He stood waiting on my word.

"A fellow hath been after me to-day--named Dangerfield--a very brown
man, with no hair on his face" (for so Mr. Chiffinch had told me). "He
hath been branded on the hand for some conviction. I tell you this that
you may know him if you see him again. I take him to be a Protestant
spy: but I do not know for certain."

He still stood waiting. He knew very well, I think, that I was on some
business, and that therefore I was in some danger too at such a time;
though I had never spoken to him of it.

"And another thing that I have to say to you is that we must ride for
Hare Street to-morrow, and arrive there by to-morrow night--without
lying anywhere on the road. You must have the horses here, and all
ready, by seven o'clock in the morning. And you must tell no one where
we are going to, to hinder any from following us, if we can help it. We
must lie at Hare Street a good while.

"And the third thing I have to say is this; that you must watch out very
shrewdly for any signs that we are known or suspected of anything. I
tell you plainly that both you and I may be in some danger for a while;
so if you have no taste for that, you had best begone. You will keep
quiet, I know very well."

"Sir, I will stay with you, if you please," said James, as the last word
was out of my mouth.

I gave him a look of pleasure; but no more; and he understood me very
well.

"Then that is all that I have to say. You may bring supper in as soon as
you like."

Before I lay down that night I had transferred His Majesty's packet to a
belt that I put next to my skin; and so I went to bed.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was still pretty dark when we came out upon the Ware road upon the
next morning. I did not call James up to ride with me; for I had a great
number of things to think about; and first amongst them was the
commission which His Majesty had given me. What then could such a
business be?--a packet that I must carry with me, and deliver to a man
whose name should be given me afterwards! Why, then, was it entrusted to
me so soon? And why could not the name be given to me immediately? But
to such riddles there was no answer; and I left it presently alone.

The second thing that I had to think of was the matter of the men whom I
had seen condemned yesterday; and even of that I did not know much more
than of the packet. His Majesty had not spoken of them, except to ask
questions at the beginning; and this seemed as a bad omen to me. Yet I
had the King's word on it that they should not suffer; and, when I
considered, there was no obligation or even any reason at all that he
should talk out the matter with myself. Yet, though I presently put this
affair too from my mind, since I had no certain knowledge of what would
happen, it came back to me again and again--that memory of Mr. Ireland
and Mr. Grove in the lodgings in Drury Lane, so harmless and so merry,
and again as I had seen them yesterday in the dock, with Mr. Pickering,
so helpless and yet so courageous in face of the injustice that was
being done on them.

The third thing that I had to think upon was Hare Street to which I was
going as fast as I could, and of those who would greet me there, and
most of all, I need not say, of my Cousin Dolly. Her father had written
to me two or three times during the four months that I had been away;
and his last had been the letter of a very much frightened man, what
with the news that had come to him of the proceedings in London and the
feeling against the Catholics. But I had written back to him that
nothing was to be feared if he would but stay still and hold his tongue;
and that I myself would be with him presently, I hoped, and would
reassure him; for in spite of the hot feeling in London the country
Catholics suffered from it little or not at all, so long as they minded
their own business. But it was principally of my Cousin Dolly that I
thought; for the memory of her had been with me a great deal during the
four months I had lived in London; but I was determined to do nothing in
a hurry, since the remembrance of her father's words to me, and, even
more, of his manner and look in speaking, stuck in my throat and
hindered me from seeing clearly. I knew very well, however, that my
principal reason why I urged Peter on over the bad roads, was that I
might see her the more quickly.

Nothing of any importance happened to us on the way. At Hoddesdon the
memory of Mr. Rumbald came back to my mind, and I wondered where it was
in Hoddesdon or near it that he had his malt-houses; and before that we
stayed again for dinner at the _Four Swans_ in Waltham Cross, where the
host knew me again and asked how matters were in London; and we came at
last in sight of the old church at Hormead Parva, just as the sun was
going down upon our left. Peter, my horse, knew where he was then, and
needed no more urging, for he knew that his stable was not far away.

They knew of course nothing of my coming; and when I dismounted in the
yard there was not a man to be seen. I left my horse with James; and
went along the flagged path that led to the door, and beat upon the
door. The house seemed all dark and deserted; and it was not till I had
beaten once more at the door that I saw a light shewing beneath it.
Presently a very unsteady voice cried out to know who was there; and I
knew it for my Cousin Tom's; so I roared at him that it was myself.
There followed a great to-do of unlocking and unbarring--for they had
the house--as I found presently--fortified as it were a castle; and when
the door was undone there was my Cousin Tom with a great blunderbuss and
two men with swords behind him.

"Why, whatever is forward?" I said sharply; for I was impatient with the
long waiting and the cold, for a frost was beginning as the sun set.

"Why, Cousin Roger, we knew nothing of your coming," said my Cousin Tom,
looking a little foolish, I thought. "We did not know who was at the
door."

"I only knew myself of my coming yesterday," I said. "And whatever is
the house fortified for?"

My cousin was putting up the bolts again as I spoke; (the two men were
gone away into the back of the house);--and, as soon as he had done, he
said:

"Why, there are dangerous folks about, Cousin Roger. And it is a
Catholic house, you see."

I smiled at that; but said no more; for at that moment my Cousin Dolly
came through from the back of the house where she had been sent by her
father for safety; and at that sight I thought no more of the door.

I saluted her as a cousin should; and she me. She looked mighty pretty
to me, in her dark dress, with her lace on, for supper was just on the
table; and I cannot but think she was pleased to see me, for she was all
smiling and flushed.

"So it is you, Cousin Roger," she said. "I thought it might very well
be. We looked for you before Christmas."

       *       *       *       *       *

At supper, and afterwards, I learned in what a panic poor Cousin Tom had
lived since the news of the plot, and, above all, of Sir Edmund Berry
Godfrey's death; and what he said to me made me determine to speak to
him of my own small peril, for he had the right to know, and to forbid
me his house, if he wished. But I hoped that he would not. It appeared
that when the news of Sir Edmund's death had come, there had been
something of a to-do in the village, of no great signification; for it
was no more than a few young men who marched up and down shouting
together--as such yokels will, upon the smallest excuse; and one of them
had cried out at the gate of Hare Street House. At Barkway there had
been more of a business; for there they had burnt an effigy of the Pope
in the churchyard; and the parson--who was a stout Churchman--had made a
speech upon it. However, this had played upon Cousin Tom's fears, and he
had fortified the house with bolts, and slept with a pistol by his bed.

I told him that same night--not indeed all that happened to me; but
enough of it to satisfy him. I said that I had been a good deal at the
Jesuits' lodgings; and at the trial of the three; and that a fellow had
attempted to follow me home; but that I had thrown him off.

Cousin Tom had the pipe from his mouth and was holding it in his hand,
by the time I had done.

"Now, Cousin," I said, "if you think I am anything of a danger to the
house, you have but to say the word, and I will be off. On the other
hand, I and my man might be of some small service to you if it came to a
brawl."

"You threw him off?" asked Cousin Tom.

"It was at Whitehall--" I began; and then I stopped: for I had not
intended to speak of the King.

"Oho!" said Cousin Tom. "Then you have been at Whitehall again?"

"Why, yes," I said, trying to pass it off. "I have been there and
everywhere."

Cousin Tom put the pipe back again into his mouth.

"And there is another matter," I said (for Hare Street suited me very
well as a lodging, and I had named it as such to His Majesty). "It is
not right, Cousin Tom, that you should keep me here for nothing. Let me
pay something each month--" (And I named a suitable sum.)

That determined Cousin Tom altogether. My speaking of Whitehall had
greatly reassured him; and now this offer of mine made up his mind; for
he was something of a skinflint in some respects. (For all that I did
for him when I was here, in the fields and at the farm, more than repaid
him for the expense of my living there.) He protested a little, and said
that between kinsfolk no such question should enter in; but he protested
with a very poor grace; and so the matter was settled, and we both
satisfied.

       *       *       *       *       *

So, once more, the time began to pass very agreeably for me. Here was I,
safe from all the embroilments of town, in the same house with my Cousin
Dorothy, and with plenty of leisure for my languages again. Yet my
satisfaction was greatly broken up when I heard, on the last day of
January that all that I had feared was come about, and that of the three
men whom I had seen condemned at the Old Bailey, two--Mr. Ireland and
Mr. Grove--had been executed seven days before: (Mr. Pickering was kept
back on some excuse, and not put to death until May). The way I heard of
it was in this manner.

I was in Puckeridge one day, on a matter which I do not now remember,
and was going to the stable of the _White Hart_ inn to get my horse to
ride back again, when I ran into Mr. Rumbald who was there on the same
errand. I was in my country suit, and very much splashed; and it was
going on for evening, so he noticed nothing of me but my face.

"Why, Mallock," he cried--"It is Mr. Mallock, is it not?"

I told him yes.

He exchanged a few words with me, for he was one of those fellows who
when they have once made up their minds to a thing, do not easily change
it, and he was persuaded that I was of his kind and something of a
daredevil too, which was what he liked. Then at the end he said
something which made me question him as to what he meant.

"Have you not heard?" he cried. "Why the Popish dogs were hanged a week
ago--Ireland and Grove, I mean. And there be three or four more
men--accused by Bedloe of Godfrey's murder, and will be tried
presently."

I need not say what a horror it was to me to hear that; for I had had
more hope in my heart than I had thought. But I was collected enough to
say something that satisfied him; and, as again he had been drinking, he
was not very quick.

"And those three or four?" I asked. "Are they Jesuits too?"

"No," said Rumbald, "but there will be another batch presently, I make
no doubt."

I got rid of him at last; and rode homewards; but it was with a very
heavy heart. Not once yet had the King exercised his prerogative of
mercy; and if he yielded at the first, and that against the Jesuits whom
he had sworn to protect, was there anything in which he would resist?

My Cousin Dorothy saw in my face as I came in that something was the
matter; so I told her the truth.

"May they rest in peace," she said; and blessed herself.

       *       *       *       *       *

From time to time news reached us in this kind of manner. Though we were
not a great distance from London we were in a very solitary place, away
from the high-road that ran to Cambridge; and few came our way. Even in
Puckeridge it was not known, I think, who I was, nor that I was cousin
to Mr. Jermyn; so I had no fear of Mr. Rumbald suspecting me. Green,
Berry, and Hill were all convicted of Sir Edmund's murder, through the
testimony of Bedloe, who said that he had himself seen the body at
Somerset House, and that Sir Edmund had been strangled there by priests
and others and conveyed later to the ditch in Primrose Hill where he was
found. Another fellow, too, named Miles Prance, a silversmith in Princes
Street (out of Drury Lane), who was said by Bedloe to have been privy to
the murder, in the fear of his life, and after inhuman treatment in
prison, did corroborate the story and add to it, under promise of
pardon, which he got. Green, Berry, and Hill, then, were hanged on the
tenth day of February, on the testimonies of these two; and were as
innocent as unborn babes. It was remarked how strangely their names
went with the name of the murdered man and of the place he was found in.

For a while after that, matters were more quiet. A man named Samuel
Atkins was tried presently, but was acquitted; and then a Nathaniel
Reading was tried for suppressing evidence, and was punished for it. But
our minds, rather, were fixed upon the approaching trial of the "Five
Jesuits" as they were called, who still awaited it in prison--Whitbread,
Fenwick, Harcourt, Gavan and Turner--all priests. But I had not a great
deal of hope for these, when I thought of what had happened to the rest;
and, indeed, at the end of May, Mr. Pickering himself was executed. At
the beginning of May too, we heard of the bloody murder of Dr. Sharpe,
the Protestant Archbishop in Scotland, by the old Covenanters, driven
mad by the persecution this man had put them to; but this did not
greatly affect our fortunes either way. One of the most bitter thoughts
of all was that a secular priest named Serjeant, who, with another named
Morris, was of Gallican views, had given evidence in public court
against the Jesuits' casuistry.

Meanwhile, in other matters, we were quiet enough. Still I hesitated in
pushing my suit with my Cousin Dolly, until I could see whether she was
being forced to it or not. But my Cousin Tom had more wits than I had
thought; for he said no more to me on the point, nor I to him; and I
think I should have spoken to her that summer, had not an interruption
come to my plans that set all aside for the present. During those months
of spring and early summer we had no religious consolation at all; for
we were too near London, and at the same time too solitary for any
priest to come to us.

The interruption came in this manner.

I had sent my man over to Waltham Cross on an affair of a horse that was
to be sold there on the nineteenth day of June (as I very well remember,
from what happened afterwards); and when he came back he asked if he
might speak with me privately. When I had him alone in my room he told
me he had news from a Catholic ostler at the _Four Swans_, with whom he
had spoken, that a party had been asking after me there that very
morning.

"I said to him, sir, What kind of a party was it? And he told me that
there were four men; and that they went in to drink first and to dine,
for they came there about noon. I asked him then if any of them had any
mark by which he could be known; and he laughed at that; and said that
one of them was branded in the hand, for he was pulling his glove on
when he came into the yard afterwards, so that it was seen."

I said nothing for a moment, when James said that, for I was considering
whether so small a business of so many months ago was worth thinking of.

"And what then?" I said.

"Well, sir; as I was riding back I kept my eyes about me; and especially
in the villages where it might be easy to miss them; and in Puckeridge,
as I came by the inn I looked into the yard, and saw there four horses
all tied up together."

"Did you ask after them?" I said.

"No, sir; I thought it best not. But I pushed on as quickly as I could."

"Did the ostler at Waltham Cross tell you what answer was given to the
inquiries?"

"No, sir--he heard your name only from the parlour window as he went
through the yard."

Now here was I in a quandary. On the one hand this was a very small
affair, and not much evidence either way, and I did not wish to alarm my
Cousin Tom if I need not; and, on the other if they were after me I had
best be gone as soon as I could. It was six months since the fellow
Dangerfield had asked after me at Whitehall, and no harm had followed.
Yet here was the tale of the branded hand--and, although there were many
branded hands in England, the consonance of this with what had happened,
misliked me a little.

"And was there any more news?" I asked.

"Why, yes, sir; I had forgot. The man told me too that the five Jesuits
were cast six days ago, and Mr. Langhorn a day later, and that they were
all sentenced together." (Mr. Langhorn was a lawyer, a very hot and
devout Catholic; but his wife was as hot a Protestant.)

Now on hearing that I was a little more perturbed. Here were Mr.
Whitbread and Mr. Fenwick, in whose company I had often been seen in
public before the late troubles, condemned and awaiting sentence; and
here was a fellow with a branded hand asking after me in Waltham Cross.
Oates and Bedloe and Tonge and Kirby and a score of others were evidence
that any man who sought his fortune might very well do so in Popish
plots and accusations; and it was quite believable that Dangerfield was
one more of them, and that after these new events he was after me. Yet,
still, I did not wish to alarm my Cousin Tom; for he was a man who could
not hide his feelings, I thought.

It was growing dark now; for it was after nine o'clock, and cloudy, with
no moon to rise; and all would soon be gone to bed; so what I did I must
do at once. I sat still in my chair, thinking that if I were hunted out
of Hare Street I had nowhere to go; and then on a sudden I remembered
the King's packet which he had given me, and which I still carried, as
always, wrapped in oil-cloth next to my skin, since no word had come
from him as to what I was to do with it. And at that remembrance I
determined that I must undergo no risks.

"James," I said, "I think that we must be ready to go away if we are
threatened in any way. Go down to the stables and saddle a fresh horse
for you, and my own. Then come up here again and pack a pair of valises.
I do not know as yet whether we must go or not; but we must be ready for
it. Then take the valises and the horses down to the meadow, through the
garden, and tie all up there, under the shadow of the trees from where
you can see the house. And you must remain there yourself till twelve
o'clock to-night. At twelve o'clock, as near as I can tell it, if all is
quiet I will show a light three times from the garret window; and when
you see that you can come back again and go to bed. If they are after us
at all they will come when they think we are all asleep; and it will be
before twelve o'clock. Do you understand it all?"

(I was very glib in all this; for I had thought it out all beforehand,
if ever there should be an alarm of this kind.)

My man said that he understood very well, and went away, and I down to
the Great Chamber where I had left my cousins.

As I came in at the door, my Cousin Tom woke up with a great snuffle;
and stared at me as if amazed, as folks do when suddenly awakened.

"Well; to bed," he said. "I am half there already."

My Cousin Dorothy looked up from her sewing; and I think she knew that
something was forward; for she continued to look at me.

"Not to bed yet, Cousin Tom," I said. "There is a matter I must speak of
first."

Well; I sat down and told him as gently as I could--all the affair,
except of the King's packet; and by the time I was done he was no longer
at all drowsy. I told him too of the design I had formed, and that James
was gone to carry it out.

"Had you not best be gone at once?" he said; and I saw the terror in his
eyes, lest he too should be embroiled. But my Cousin Dorothy looked at
me, unafraid; only there was a spot of colour on either cheek.

"Well," I said, "I can ride out into the fields and wait there, if you
wish it, until morning: if you will send for me then if all be quiet."

But I explained to him again that I was in two minds as to whether I
should go at all, so very small was the evidence of danger.

He looked foolish at that; but I could see that he wanted me gone: so I
stood up.

"Well, Cousin," I said, "I see that you will be easier if I go. I will
begone first and see whether James has the horses out; and you had best
meanwhile go to my chamber and put away all that can incriminate you--in
one of your hiding-holes."

I was half-way to the kitchen when I heard my Cousin Dorothy come after
me; and I could see that she was in a great way.

"Cousin," she said, "I am ashamed that my father should speak like that.
If I were mistress--"

"My dear Cousin," I said lightly, "if you were mistress, I should not be
here at all."

"It is a shame," she said again, paying no attention, as her way was
when she liked. "It is a shame that you should spend all night in the
fields for nothing."

As she was speaking I heard James come downstairs with the valises. As
he went past he told me he already had the horses tied under the trees.
I nodded to him, and bade him go on, and he went out into the yard and
so through the stables.

"I had best go help your father put the things away," I said. "They will
not be here, at any rate, until the lights of the house are all out."

We went upstairs together and found my Cousin Tom already busy: he had
my clothes all in a great heap, ready to carry down to the hiding-hole
above the door; my papers he already had put away into the little recess
behind the bed, and the books, most of which had not my name in them, he
designed to carry to his own chamber.

We worked hard at all this--my Cousin Tom in a kind of fever, rolling
his eyes at every sound; and, at the last, we had all put away, and were
about to close the door of the hiding-hole. Then my Cousin Dorothy held
up her hand.

"Hush!" she said; and then, "There was a step on the paved walk."



CHAPTER IX


When my Cousin Dorothy said that, we all became upon the instant as
still as mice; and I saw my Cousin Tom's mouth suddenly hang open and
his eyes to become fixed. For myself, I cannot say precisely what I
felt; but it would be foolish to say that I was not at all frightened.
For to be crept upon in the dark, when all is quiet, in a solitary
country place; and to know, as I did, that behind all the silence there
is the roar of a mob--(as it is called)--for blood, and the Lord Chief
Justice's face of iron and his bitter murderous tongue, and the scaffold
and the knife--this is daunting to any man. I made no mistake upon the
matter. If this were Dangerfield himself, my life was ended; he would
not have come here, so far, and with such caution; he would not have
been at the pains to smell me out at all, unless he were sure of his
end; and, indeed, my companying so much with the Jesuits and my
encounter with Oates, and my seeking service with the King, and for no
pay too--all this, in such days, was evidence enough to hang an angel
from heaven.

This passed through my mind like a picture; and then I remembered that
it was no more than a step on a paved path.

"If it is they," I whispered, "they will be round the house by now. We
had best look from a dark window."

But my Cousin Tom seized me suddenly by the arm in so fierce a grip that
I winced and all but cried out; and so we stood.

"If you have brought ruin on me--" he began presently in a horrid kind
of whisper; and then he gripped me again; for again, so that no man
could mistake it, came a single step on the paved path; and in my mind I
saw how two men had crossed from lawn to lawn, to get all round the
house, each stepping once upon the stones. They must have entered from
the yard.

In those moments there came to me too a knowledge, of the truth of
which I neither had nor have any doubt at all, that my Cousin Tom was
considering whether he might save himself or no by handing me forthwith
to the searchers. But I suppose he thought not; for presently his hand
relaxed.

"In with you," he whispered; and made a back for me to climb up into the
hiding-hole. I looked at my Cousin Dolly, and she nodded at me ever so
gently; so I set my foot on my Cousin Tom's broad back, and my hands to
the ledge, and raised myself up. It was a pretty wide space within,
sufficient to hold three or four men, though my clothes and a few books
covered most of the floor; but the only light I had was from the candle
that my Cousin Dolly carried in her hand. As I turned to the door again,
I caught a sight of her face, very pretty and very pale, looking up at
me: I remember even now the shadow on her eyes and beneath her hair; and
then the door was put to quickly, and I was all in the dark.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a very strange experience to lie there and to hear all that went
on in the house, scarcely a hand's-breadth away.

I lay there, I should think, ten minutes or a quarter of an hour before
the assault was made; and during that time too I could tell pretty well
all that went on. There remained for a minute or thereabouts, a line of
light upon the roof of my little chamber from the candle that my Cousin
Dolly carried; (and that line of light was as a star to me); then I
heard a little whispering; the light went out; and I heard soft steps
going upstairs. Then I heard first the door of my Cousin Dolly's chamber
close, and then another door which was my Cousin Tom's. Then followed
complete silence; and I knew that the two would go to bed, and be found
there, as if ignorant of everything.

The assault was made on two doors at once, at front and back. They had
another man or two, I have no doubt, in the stable-yard; and more
beneath the windows everywhere, so that I could not escape any way.
There came on a sudden loud hammerings and voices shouting altogether;
but I could not tell what it was that they cried; but I suppose it must
have been, "Open in the King's name!"

Then the house awakened, all, that is, that were asleep; and the rest
feigned to do so. I heard steps run down the stairs, and voices
everywhere; as the maids over the kitchen awakened and screamed as maids
will, and the men awakened and ran down from the garret. Then, overhead,
across the lobby I heard my Cousin Tom's footsteps, and I nearly laughed
to myself at the thought of the part that he must play, and of how ill
he would play it. And all the while the beating on the doors went on;
and I heard voices through the lath and plaster from the back-hall; and
then the sound of unbolting, and the knocking ceased on that side,
though it still went on upon the, other.

My hiding-hole, as I have said, was in the very centre of the house; one
side faced upon the back-hall; and the opposite down the front passage;
and, of the other two, one upon the stairs and one upon the kitchen
passage, and these two had the doors in them. Above me was the lobby;
and beneath me, first the little way into the back-hall, and beneath
that the cellars. It was strange how prominent the place was, and yet
how well concealed. One might live ten years in the house without
suspecting its presence.

Presently the whole house was full of talking; and the front door was
opened; and I heard a gentleman's voice speaking. He was Mr. Harris, I
learned afterwards, a Justice of the Peace from Puckeridge, whom
Dangerfield had brought with him.

Much of what was said I could not hear; but I heard enough to understand
why I was being looked for, and what would be the charges against me.
Now the voices came muffled; and now clear; so that I would hear half a
sentence and no more, as the speaker moved on.

"I tell you he left for Rome to-night," I heard my Cousin Tom say (which
was an adroit lie indeed, as no one could tell whether I had or no),
"and he hath taken his man with him."

"That is very well--" began the gentleman's voice; and then no more.

Presently I heard one of the men of the house, named Dick--a good friend
of mine, ask what they were after me for; and some fellow, as he went
by, answered:

"--Consorting with the Jesuits, and conspiring--" and no more.

So, then, I lay and listened. Much that I heard had no relevance at all,
for it was the protesting of maids and such-like. The footsteps went
continually up and down; sometimes voices rose in anger; sometimes it
was only a whisper that went by. I heard presses open and shut; and once
or twice the noise of hammering overhead; and then silence again; but no
silence was for long.

Here again I find it very hard to say all that I felt during that
search. My thoughts came and went like pictures upon the dark. Now my
heart would so beat that it sickened me, of sheer terror that I should
be found; and this especially when a man would stay for a while talking
on the stairs within an arm's length of where I lay: now it was as I
might say, more of the intellect; and I pondered on what I heard my
Cousin Tom say, and marvelled at his shrewdness; for fear, if it does
not drive away wits, sharpens them wonderfully. He had, of course, put
me in greater peril, by saying that I was gone to Rome; but he had saved
himself very adroitly, for no witness in the house could tell that I had
not done so; for here was my chamber empty, and I and my man and my
clothes and my books and my horses all vanished away. At one time, then,
I was all eyes and ears in the muffled dark, hearing my heart thump as
it had been another's; at another time I would be looking within and
contemplating my own fear.

Again and again, however, I thought of my Cousin Dorothy and wondered
where she was and what she was at. I had not heard her voice all that
time; and, on a sudden, after the men had been in the house near an hour
I should say, I heard her sob suddenly, close to me, in a terrified kind
of voice.

"Keep them, Nancy, keep them here as long as you can. It will give
him--"

"Eh?" said a man's voice suddenly beneath. "What was that?"

"I said nothing," stammered my Cousin Dolly's voice.

Well; there was a to-do. The fellow beneath called out to Mr. Harris,
who was upstairs; and I heard him come down. My Cousin Dolly was sobbing
and crying out, and so was the maid Nancy to whom she had spoken. At
first I could make nothing of it, nor why she had said what she had; and
then, as I heard them all go into the parlour together, I understood
that if my Cousin Tom had been shrewd, his daughter had been shrewder;
and had said what she had, knowing that a man was within earshot.

But there was nothing for me to do but to lie there still; for I could
hear nothing from the parlour but a confused sound of voices, now three
or four speaking at once, now a man's voice (which I took to be the
magistrate's), and now, I thought my Cousin Dolly's. I heard, too, above
me, my Cousin Tom speaking very angrily, and understood that he was kept
from his daughter--which was the best thing in the world for me, since
he might very well have spoiled the whole design. At last I heard Dolly
cry out very loud; then I heard the parlour-door open and three or four
men came tumbling out, who ran beneath my hiding-hole and out through
the kitchen passage to the stable. I was all a-tremble now, especially
at my cousin's cry; but I gave her credit for being as shrewd still as I
had heard her to be on the stairs; and I proved right in the event; for
almost immediately after that my Cousin Tom was let come downstairs, and
I heard every word, of the colloquy.

"Well, Mr. Jermyn," said the gentleman's voice, immediately without my
little door, "I am sorry indeed to have troubled you in this way; but I
am the King's justice of the peace and I must do my duty. Which way did
you say Mr. Mallock was gone?"

"By...by Puckeridge," stammered poor Tom.

"Ah! indeed," said the other voice, with something of a sneer in it.
"Why Mistress Dorothy here says it was by Barkway and so to Harwich; and
of the two versions I prefer the lady's. For, first, we should have seen
him if he had come by Puckeridge, since we have been lying there since
three o'clock this afternoon; and second, no such man in his senses
would go to Rome by London. I am sorry I cannot commend your
truthfulness, Mr. Jermyn, as much as your professions of loyalty."

"I tell you--" began my Cousin Tom, angrily enough.

"I need no telling, Mr. Jermyn. Your cousin is gone by Barkway; and my
men are gone to get the horses out to follow him. We shall catch him
before Newmarket, I make no doubt."

Then I heard Dolly's sobbing as she clung to her father.

"Oh! father! father!" she mourned. "The gentleman forced it out of me. I
could not help it. I could not help it!"

(As for me, I smiled near from ear to ear in the dark, to hear how well
she feigned grief; and I think I loved my Cousin Dolly then as never
before. It would have made a cat laugh, too, to hear the gentleman's
chivalry in return.)

"Mistress Dorothy," he said, "I grieve to have troubled you like this.
But you have done your duty as an English maid should; and set your
loyalty to His Majesty before all else."

Mistress Dorothy sobbed so admirably in return that my own eyes filled
with tears to hear her; and I was a little sorry for the poor gentleman
too. He was so stupid, and yet so well mannered too now that he had got
all that he wanted, or thought he had.

"Well, mistress, and Mr. Jermyn, I must not delay any longer. The horses
will be ready."

They moved away still talking, all except my Cousin Dolly who sank upon
the stairs still sobbing. She cried out after Mr. Harris to have mercy;
and then fell a-crying again. When the door of the kitchen passage
shut--for they were all gone out by now--her crying ceased mighty soon;
and then I heard her laugh very softly to herself, and break off again,
as if she had put her hand over her mouth. But I dared not speak to her
yet.

I listened very carefully--for all the house was still now--for the
sound of the horses' feet; and presently I heard them, and reckoned that
a dozen at least must have come after me; and I heard the voices of the
men too as they rode away, grow faint and cease. Then I heard my Cousin
Dolly slip through the door beneath me, and she gave me one little rap
to the floor of my hiding-hole as she went beneath it.

I did not hear her come back; for Cousin Tom's footsteps were loud in
the kitchen passage; and the men too were tramping in and upstairs,
while the maids went back to bed through the kitchen; and then, when all
was quiet again I heard her voice speak suddenly in a whisper.

"You can open now, Cousin Roger, they be all gone away." I unbolted and
pushed open the little door quickly enough then; and though I was dazed
with the candlelight the first thing that I saw was Dolly's face, her
eyes as bright as stars with merriment and laughter, and her cheeks
flushed to rose, looking up at me.



CHAPTER X


That ride of mine all night to London was such as I shall never forget,
not from any outward incident that happened, but for the thoughts that
went continually through my heart and brain; and I do not suppose that I
spoke twenty words to James all night, until we saw about seven o'clock
the smoke and spires of London against the morning sky.

       *       *       *       *       *

So soon as the coast was clear, and the last sound of the horses was
died away on the hill beyond the Castle Inn--for the men rode fast and
hard to catch me--I was out and away in the opposite direction, to
Puckeridge; but first we brought the horses back as softly as we could,
with James (who, like a good servant had not stirred an inch from his
orders through all the tumult which he had heard plainly enough from the
meadow), round to the head of the little lane that leads from Hormead
Magna into Hare Street. There we waited, I say, all four of us in
silence, until we heard the hoofs no more; and then James and I mounted
on our horses.

I had said scarcely a word to Dorothy, nor she to me; for we both felt,
I think, that there was no great need of words after such an adventure,
and that it had knit us closer together than any words could do; and,
besides, that was no place to talk. Yet it was not all pure joy; for
here was the knowledge which we both had, that I must go away, and that
God only knew when I should get back again; and, whatever that knowledge
was to Dorothy, it was as a sword for pain to me. As for my Cousin Tom,
he was no better than a dummy; for he was still terrified at all that
had happened, and at the magistrate's words to him. I told them both,
while we were still in the house, that I must go to London, partly for
that that was the last place in the world that any would look for me in,
and partly--(but this I told neither of them)--for that I must return
the packet to His Majesty: and I said that from London I would go to
France for a little, until it seemed safe for me to get back again. But
there, waiting in the dark, I said nothing at all; but before I mounted
I kissed Dorothy on the cheek; and her cheek was wet, but whether with
the feigned tears she had shed in the house, or with tears even dearer
to me than those, I do not know. But I dared not delay any longer, for
fear that when Mr. Harris came to Barkway, which was five miles away, he
might learn that no one that could be James and I had passed that way,
and so return to search again.

       *       *       *       *       *

The clouds had rolled away by now; and it was a clear night of stars
until they began to pale about two o'clock in the morning; and I think
that for a lover who desires to be alone with his thoughts, there is no
light of sun or moon or candle so sweet as the light of stars; and by
that time we were beyond Ware and coming out of the valley.

It was solemn to me to watch that dawn coming up, for it was, I thought,
the last dawn that I should see in England for a while, since I was
determined but to see the King in London, and push straight on to Dover
and take the packet there: and it was a solemn dawn too, in another way,
for it was the first I had seen since I had been certain not only that I
loved my Cousin Dolly as I had my own heart, but that she loved me also;
and that is a great day for a lover.

To see the King then, and to push on to Dover, was all that I had
rehearsed to myself; but Providence had one more adventure for me first,
that was one of the saddest I have ever had in all my life, and yet not
all sad.

       *       *       *       *       *

My road took me in through the City and down Gracechurch Street; but
here I took a fancy to turn to the right up Leadenhall and Cornhill,
which were all crowded with folks, though at first I did not think why,
that I might go by Newgate where the Jesuits lay, and see at least the
walls that enclosed those saints of God; for I was pretty bold here,
knowing that Mr. Dangerfield who was my chief peril, was off to Harwich
to find me; and even if they found that I was not gone through Barkway,
I did not think that they could catch me, for their horses were tired
and ours fresh; and you do not easily get a change of a dozen horses, or
anywhere near it, in Hertfordshire villages. So I went very boldly, and
made no pretence not to look folks in the face.

After we had passed up Cheapside it appeared to me that the streets were
strangely full, and that all the folk were going the same way; and so
astonished was I at this--for no suspicion of the truth came to me--that
I bid my man ask someone what the matter was. When he came up with me
again I could see that something was the matter indeed; and so it was.

"Sir," he said in a low voice, so that none else could hear, "they are
taking the prisoners to execution this morning."

Then there came upon me a kind of madness--for, although by God's
blessing it brought no harm to me--yet it was nothing else; and I
determined to go to Newgate as I had intended, and at least see them
brought out. For here was to be a martyrdom indeed--five men, all
priests, all Religious--suffering, in God's eyes at least, for nothing
in the world but the Catholic religion; yes, and in men's too, if they
had known all, for I remembered how Mr. Whitbread had refused to escape,
while he had yet a whole day for it, for fear of seeming to confess his
guilt and so bringing scandal upon the Church and his order. From such a
martyrdom, then, so near to me, how could I turn away? and I determined,
if I could, to speak with Father Whitbread, and get his blessing.

When I got near Newgate the press grew greater every instant; but as we
were on horseback and the greater number of the folks on foot, we got
through them at last, and so came to the foot of the stairs by the
chapel, where the sleds were laid ready with a pair of horses to each. I
had never before seen an execution done in England, so I observed very
carefully everything that was to be seen. The sleds were three in
number, and were each made flat of strong wood with runners about an
inch high; and there was a pair of horses harnessed to each, with a man
to guide them. I got close to these, next behind the line of yellow
trainbandmen who kept the way open, as well as the stairs. We were in
the shadow here, in a little court of which the gates were set open, but
the people were all crowded in behind the trainbandmen as well as in the
street outside, and from them rose a great murmuring of talk, of which I
did not hear a word spoken in sympathy, for I suppose that the Catholics
there held their tongues.

We had not very long to wait; for, by the appointment of God, I was come
just to time; and very soon the door at the head of the stairs was
opened and men began to come out. I saw Mr. Sheriff How among them, who
was to see execution done; but I did not observe these very closely,
since I was looking for the Jesuits.

Mr. Harcourt came first into the sunlight that was at the head of the
steps; and at the sight of him I was moved very deeply; for he was an
old man with short white hair, very thick, and walked with a stick with
his other hand in some fellow's arm. A great rustle of talk began when
he appeared, and swelled into a roar, but he paid no attention to it,
and came down, smiling and looking to his steps. Next came Mr.
Whitbread; and at the sight of him I was as much affected as by the old
man; for I had spoken with him so often. He too walked cheerfully, first
looking about him resolutely as he came out at all the faces turned up
to his; and at him too was even a greater roaring, for the people
thought him to be at the head of all the conspiracy. He was pinioned
loosely with cords, but not so that he could not lift his hands (and so
were the other three that followed), and a fellow held the other end of
the cord in his hand. Mr. Turner and Mr. Gavan, who came next, I had
never seen before--(Mr. Gavan was he that was taken in the stables of
the Imperial Ambassador--Count Wallinstein)--they came one behind the
other, and paid no more attention than the others to the noise that
greeted them; and last of all came Mr. Fenwick who had entertained me so
often in Drury Lane, looking pinched, I thought, with his imprisonment,
yet as courageous as any. Behind him came a minister and then the tail
of the guard.

As I saw Mr. Fenwick come out I put into execution a design I had formed
just now; and slipping from my horse I got out a guinea and begged in a
low voice the fellow before me--for I was just by the sled on which Mr.
Harcourt and Mr. Whitbread would be bound--to let me through enough to
speak a word with him; and at the same time I pressed the guinea into
his hand: so he stood aside a little and let me through, on my knees,
enough to speak to Mr. Whitbread. Mr. Harcourt was already laid down on
the sled, on the further side from me, and Mr. Whitbread was getting to
his knees for the same end. As he turned and sat himself on the sled he
saw me, and frowned ever so little. Then he smiled as I made the sign of
the cross on myself and he made it too at me, and I saw his lips move as
he blessed me. He was not an arm's length from me. That was enough for
me; and I stepped back again and mounted my horse once more. The fellow
who had let me through looked at me over his shoulder once or twice, but
said nothing; for he had my guinea; and, as for myself I sat content,
though my eyes pricked with tears, for I had had the last blessing (or
very nearly) which that martyr of God would ever give in this world.

       *       *       *       *       *

When they were all ready, and the five were bound on the sleds, with
their beads to the horses' heels, I looked to see how I could best
follow; and it appeared to me that it was best for me to keep close at
the tail, rather than to attempt to go before. When the word was given,
the whips cracked, and the sled nearest me, with Mr. Whitbread and Mr.
Harcourt upon it, began to move. Then came Mr. Turner and Mr. Gavan, and
last Mr. Fenwick all by himself. The minister whose name was Samuel
Smith, as I learned later, and who was the Ordinary of Newgate, followed
on foot, and behind him came the guards to close them all in.

My fellow in front, whom I had bribed, seemed to understand what I
wanted; for in the confusion he let me through, and my man James forced
his way after me; so that we found ourselves with three or four other
gentlemen, riding immediately behind the guards, as we came out of the
court into the street outside; and so we followed, all the way to
Tyburn.

That adventure of mine was I think the most observable I have ever had,
and, too, the greatest privilege to my soul: for here was I, if ever any
man did, following the Cross of Christ in the passion of His
servants--such a _Via Crucis_ as I have never made in any church--for
here was the very road along which so many hundreds of the Catholic
martyrs had passed before; and at the end was waiting the very death by
which they had died. I know that the martyrdom of these five was not so
evident an one as that of others before them, since those died for the
Faith directly, and these for an alleged conspiracy; yet before God, I
think, they died no less for Religion, since it was in virtue of their
Religion that they were accused. So, then, I followed them.

All the way along Holborn we went, and High Holborn and St. Giles, and
at last out into the Oxford Road that ran then between fields and
gardens; and all the way we went the crowds went with us, booing and
roaring from time to time, and others, too, from the windows of the
houses, joined in the din that was made. At first the way was nasty
enough, with the pails that folks had emptied out of doors into the
gutter; but by the time we reached the Oxford Road the way was dusty
only; so that the five on the sleds were first nastied, and then the
dust fell on them from the horses' heels. I could see only Mr. Fenwick's
face from time to time; he kept his eyes closed the most of the way, and
was praying, I think. Of the rest I could see nothing.

It was a terrible sight to me when we came out at last and saw the
gallows--the "Deadly Nevergreen" as it was called--the three posts with
the beams connecting them--against the western sky. The ropes were in
place all in one line; and a cart was there beneath them. A cauldron,
too, sent up its smoke a little distance away beside the brook. All this
space was kept clear again by guards; and there were some of the new
grenadiers among them, in their piebald livery, with furred caps; and
without the guards there was a great crowd of people. Here, then, was
the place of the Passion.

The confusion was so great as the sleds went within the line of guards,
and the people surged this way and that, that I was forced, somewhat,
out of the place I had hoped to get, and found myself at last a good way
off, with a press of people between me and the gallows; so that I could
see nothing of the unbinding; and, when they spoke later could not hear
all that they said.

It was not long before they were all in the cart together, with the
ropes about their necks, and the hangman down again upon the ground; and
as soon as that was done, a great silence fell everywhere. I had seen
Mr. Gavan say something to the hangman, and he answered again; but I
could not hear what it was.

Then, when the silence fell, I heard Mr. Whitbread begin; and the first
sentence was clear enough, though his voice sounded thin at that
distance.

"I suppose," he said, "it is expected I should speak something to the
matter I am condemned for, and brought hither to suffer."

Then he went on to say how he was wholly guiltless of any plot against
His Majesty, and that in saying so he renounced and repudiated any
pretended pardons or dispensations that were thought to have been given
him to swear falsely. He prayed God to bless His Majesty, and denied
that it was any part of Catholic teaching that a king might be killed as
it was said had been designed by the alleged plot; and he ended by
recommending his soul into the hands of his blessed Redeemer by whose
only merits and passion he hoped for salvation. He spoke very clearly,
with a kind of coldness.

Father Harcourt's voice was not so clear, as he was an old man; but I
heard Mr. Sheriff How presently interrupt him. (He was upon horseback
close beside the gallows.)

"Or of Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey's death?" he asked.

"Did you not write that letter concerning the dispatch of Sir Edmund
Berry Godfrey?"

"No, sir," cried the old man very loud. "These are the words of a dying
man. I would not do it for a thousand worlds."

He went on to affirm his innocence of all laid to his charge; and he
ended by begging the prayers of all in the communion of the Roman Church
in which he himself died.

When Mr. Anthony Turner had spoke a while, again Sheriff How interrupted
him.

"You do only justify yourselves here," he said. "We will not believe a
word that you say. Spend your time in prayer, and we will not think your
time too long."

But Mr. Turner went on as before, affirming his entire innocence; and,
at the end he prayed aloud, and I heard every word of it.

"O my dear Saviour and Redeemer," he cried, lifting up his eyes, and his
hands too as well as he could for the cords, "I return Thee immortal
thanks for all Thou hast pleased to do for me in the whole course of my
life, and now in the hour of my death, with a firm belief of all things
Thou hast revealed, and a stedfast hope of obtaining everlasting bliss.
I cheerfully cast myself into the arms of Thy mercy, whose arms were
stretched on the Cross for my redemption. Sweet Jesus, receive my
spirit."

Then Mr. Gavan spoke to the same effect as the rest, but he argued a
little more, and theologically too, being a young man; and spoke of
Mariana the Jesuit who had seemed to teach a king-killing doctrine; but
this sense on his words he repudiated altogether. He too, at the end,
commended his soul into the hands of God, and said that he was ready to
die for Jesus as Jesus had died for him.

Mr. Fenwick had scarcely begun before Mr. Sheriff How broke in on him,
and argued with him concerning the murder of Sir Edmund.

"As for Sir Edmund Berry Godfrey," cried Mr. Fenwick, "I protest before
God that I never saw the man in my life."

"For my part," said the Sheriff, "I am of opinion that you had a hand
in it."

"Now that I am a dying man," said the priest, "do you think that I would
go and damn my soul?"

"I wish you all the good that I can," said Mr. How, "but I assure you I
believe never a word you say."

Well; he let him alone after that; and Mr. Fenwick finished, once more
denying and renouncing the part that had been assigned to him, and
maintaining his innocence.

There followed after that a very long silence, of half an hour, I should
think. The five men stood in the cart together, with their eyes cast
down; and each, I think, absolved his neighbour. The crowd about kept
pretty quiet, only murmuring together; and cried no more insults at
them. I, too, did my best to pray with them and for them; but my horse
was restless, and I had some ado to keep him quiet. After a good while,
Mr. Sheriff How spoke to them again.

"Pray aloud, gentlemen, that we may join with you. We shall do you no
hurt if we do you no good."

They said nothing to that; and he spoke again, with some sharpness.

"Are you ashamed of your prayers?"

Still they did not speak; and he turned on Father Gavan.

"Why, Mr. Gavan," he said, "it is reported that you did preach in the
Quakers' meeting-house."

The priest opened his eyes.

"No, sir," he said, "I never did preach there in all my life."

It was very solemn and dreadful to wait there while they prayed; for
they were at it again for twenty minutes, I should judge, and no more
interruptions from Mr. How, who, I think, was a shade uneasy. It was a
clear June day, beginning to be hot; and the birds were chirping in the
trees about the place--for at times the silence was so great that one
could hear a pin fall, as they say. Now I felt on the brink of hell--at
the thought of the pains that were waiting for my friends, at the memory
of that great effusion of blood that had been poured out and of the
more that was to follow. There was something shocking in the quietness
and the glory of the day--such a day as many that I had spent in the
meadows of Hare Street, or in the high woods--faced as it was with this
dreadful thing against the blue sky, and the five figures beneath it,
like figures in a frieze, and the smoke of the cauldron that drifted up
continually or brought a reek of tar to my nostrils. And, again, all
this would pass; and I would feel that it was not hell but heaven that
waited; and that all was but as a thin veil, a little shadow of death,
that hung between me and the unimaginable glories; and that at a word
all would dissolve away and Christ come and this world be ended. So,
then, the minutes passed for me: I said my _Paternoster_ and _Ave_ and
_Credo_ and _De Profundis_, over and over again; praying that the
passage of those men might be easy, and that their deaths might be as
sacrifices both for themselves and for the country. I was beyond fearing
for myself now; I was in a kind of madness of pity and longing. And, at
the last I saw Mr. Whitbread raise his head and look at the Sheriff.

There rose then, as he made a sign, a great murmur from all the crowd. I
had thought that they would have been impatient, but they were not; and
had kept silence very well; and I think that this spectacle of the five
men praying had touched many hearts there. Now, however, when the end
approached, they seemed to awaken again, and to look for it; and they
began to move their heads about to see what was done, so that the crowd
was like a field of wheat when the wind goes over it.

Then fell a horrible thing.

There broke out suddenly a cry, that was like a trumpet suddenly
sounding after drums--of a different kind altogether from the murmuring
that was before. I turned my head whence it came, and saw a great
confusion break out in the outskirts of the crowd. Then I saw a horse's
head, and a man's bare head behind it, whisk out from the trees in the
direction of the park, and come like a streak across the open ground.
As the galloper came nearer, I could see that he was spurring as if for
life. Then once more a great roar broke out everywhere--

"A pardon! a pardon!" And so it was.

The crowd opened out to let the man through; and immediately he was at
the gallows, and handing the paper to the sheriff. A roar was going up
now on all sides; but as in dumb play I could see that Mr. How was
speaking to the priests who still stood as before. Mr. Whitbread shook
his head in answer and so did the others. Then I saw Mr. How make a
sign; the hangman came forward again (for he had stepped back just now);
and the roar died suddenly to silence.

Then I understood that the pardon was offered only on conditions which
these men could not accept--and indeed they turned out afterwards to be
that they should confess their guilt--and my anger at that bitter
mockery swelled up so that I could scarcely hold myself in. But I did
so.

Then the hangman climbed once more into the cart, and, one by one with
each, he adjusted the rope, and then pulled down the caps over their
faces, beginning with Father Whitbread and ending with Father Fenwick.
Then he got down from the cart again; and the murmur rose once more to a
roar.

I kept my eyes fixed upon the five, caring for nothing else; and even in
that horrible instant my lips moved in the _De Profundis_ for their
souls' easy passage. Then I saw old Father Harcourt suddenly stagger,
and then the rest staggered; and I saw that the cart was being pulled
away. And then all five of them were in the air together, beginning to
twist to and fro; and I shut my eyes, for I could bear no more.



CHAPTER XI


It was not till we were coming down St. Martin's Lane on the way to
Whitehall, that my thoughts ran clear again, and I could think upon the
designs I had formed. Until then, it seemed to me that I rode as in a
dream, seeing my thoughts before me, but having no power to look within
or consider myself. One thing too moved before me whenever I closed my
eyes; and that was the slow twisting frieze of the five figures against
the blue sky.

       *       *       *       *       *

I spoke suddenly to James as we went.

"You will leave me," I said, "at the Whitehall gate; and go back to my
lodgings. Procure a pair of good horses at the Covent Garden inn; and
say we will leave them at any place they name on the Dover Road."

He answered that he would do so, and it was the first word he had spoken
since we had left Tyburn. At the palace-doors I found no difficulty in
admittance, for it was the hour for changing guard, and a lieutenant
that was known to me let me in at once; so I went straight in and across
the court, just as I was, in my dusty clothes and boots, carrying
nothing but my riding-whip. My mind now seethed with bitter thoughts and
words, now fell into a stupor, and I rehearsed nothing of what I should
say to His Majesty, except that I was done with his service and was then
going to France for a little, unless it pleased him to have me arrested
and hanged too for nothing. Then I would give him back his papers and
begone.

       *       *       *       *       *

I came up the stairs to Mr. Chiffinch's lodgings, just as himself came
out; and he fell back a step when he saw me.

"Why, where do you come from?" he asked.

"They are after me," I said briefly. "But that is not all."

"Why, what else?" said he, staring at me.

"I am come from seeing the martyrdoms," I said.

"For God's sake!--" he cried; and caught me by the arm and drew me in.

"Now have you dined?" he said, when he had me in a chair.

"Not yet."

He looked at me, fingering his lip.

"I suppose you have come to see His Majesty?" he said.

I told him, Yes: no more.

"And what if His Majesty will not see you?" he asked, trying me.

"His Majesty will see me," I said. "I have something for him."

Again he hesitated. I think for a minute or two he thought it might be a
pistol or a knife that I had for the King.

"If I bring you to him," he said, "will you give me your word to remain
here till I come for you?"

"Yes; I will do that," I said. "But I must see him immediately."

"Well--" said Mr. Chiffinch. And then without a word he wheeled and went
out of the room.

I do not know how long I sat there; but it may have been half an hour. I
sat like a dazed man; for I had had no sleep, and what I had seen drove
away all desire for it. I sat there, staring, and pondering round and
round in circles, like a wheel turning. Now it was of Dorothy; now of
the Jesuits; now of His Majesty and Mr. Chiffinch; now again, of the
road to Dover, and of what I should do in France.

There came at last a step on the stairs, and Mr. Chiffinch came in. At
the door he turned, and took from a man in the passage, as I suppose, a
covered dish, with a spoon in it. Then he shut the door with his heel,
and came forward and set the dish down.

"Dinner first--" he said.

"I must see His Majesty," I repeated.

"Why you are an obstinate fellow, Mr. Mallock," he said, smiling. "Have
I not given you my word you shall see him?"

"Directly?"

He leaned his hands on the table and looked at me.

"Mr. Mallock; His Majesty will be here in ten minutes' time. I told him
you must eat something first; and he said he would wait till then."

       *       *       *       *       *

The stew he had brought me was very savoury: and I ate it all up; for I
had had nothing to eat since supper last night; and, by the time I had
done, and had told him very briefly what had passed at Hare Street, I
felt some of my bewilderment was gone. It is marvellous how food can
change the moods of the immortal soul herself; but I was none the less
determined, I thought, to leave the King's service; for I could not
serve any man, I thought, whose hands were as red as his in the blood of
innocents.

I had hardly done, and was blessing myself, when Mr. Chiffinch went out
suddenly, and had returned before I had stood up, to hold the door open
for the King.

He came in, that great Prince,--(for in spite of all I still count him
to be that, _in posse_ if not _in esse_)--as airy and as easy as if
nothing in the world was the matter. He was but just come from dinner,
and his face was flushed a little under its brown, with wine; and his
melancholy eyes were alight. He was in one of his fine suits too, for
to-day was Saturday; and as it was hot weather his suit was all of thin
silk, puce-coloured, with yellow lace; and he carried a long cane in his
ringed hand. He might not have had a care in the world, to all
appearances; and he smiled at me, as if I were but just come back from a
day in the country.

"Well, Mr. Mallock"--he said; and put out his hand to be kissed.

Now I had determined not to kiss his hand--whatever the consequences
might be; but when I saw him like that I could do no otherwise; for my
love and my pity for him--(if I may use such a word of a subject towards
his Sovereign)--surged up again, which I thought were dead for ever; so
I was on my knees in an instant, and I kissed his brown hand and smelled
the faint violet essence which he used. Then, before I could say
anything, he had me down in a chair, and himself in another, and was
beginning to talk. (Mr. Chiffinch was gone out; but I had not seen him
go.)

"It is a bloody business," he said sorrowfully--"a very bloody business.
But what else could be done? If I had not consented, I would be no
longer King; but off on my travels again; and all England in confusion.
However; that is as it may be. What do you want to see me for, Mr.
Mallock?"

He spoke so kindly to me, and with such feeling too, and his
condescension seemed to me so infinite in his coming here to wait upon
me--(though this was very often his custom, I think, when he wished to
see a man or a woman in private)--that I determined to put off my
announcement to him that I could no longer be in his service. So first I
drew out from my waistcoat the packet I had taken from under my shirt,
and put there, while Mr. Chiffinch was away.

"Sir;" I said, "I have brought your packet back again. I have had no
word from you as to its delivery; and as I must go abroad to-day I dare
keep it no longer. Your Majesty, I fear, must find another messenger."

His face darkened for an instant as if he could not remember something;
but it lightened again as he took the packet from me, and turned it
over.

"Why; I remember," he said. "It was sealed within and without, was it
not?"

That seemed to me a strangely irrelevant thing to say but I told him,
Yes it was.

"And you were to deliver to--eh? what was his name?"

"Your Majesty told me that the name would be sent to me."

"Why, so I did," said the King, smiling. "Well; let us open the packet
and see what is within."

He took up a little ivory knife that was on the table by his elbow, and
slipped it beneath the folds of the paper, so as to burst open the
seals; and when he had done that, there was another wrapper, also
sealed. This seal he also scrutinized, still smiling a little; and then
he burst that; and when he had taken off that covering, a folded piece
of paper fell out. This he unfolded, and spread flat with his fingers;
and there was nothing written on that side; then he turned it over, and
shewed me how there was nothing written on that either. So the message I
had borne about me, was nothing in the world but a piece of blank paper.

I drew a long breath when I saw that; for my anger surged up at the way
I had been fooled; but before I could think of anything to say, the King
spoke.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "you have done very well. You understand it now,
eh?"

"No, Sir; I do not," I said.

"Why; it is a very old trick;" went on His Majesty, "to see if a
messenger will be faithful. Your folks did it first, I think, in Queen
Bess her reign; so as to risk nothing. And you have kept it all this
while!"

"I obeyed Your Majesty's commands," I said.

"Well; and you have delivered it to the right person." (He tossed the
papers altogether upon the table and turned to me again.) "Now, sir; I
had no real doubt of you; but others were not so sure; and I consented
to this to please them; so now that all has been done, I can use you
more freely, if you will: I have more than one mission which must be
done for me; and if you like it, Mr. Mallock, you may have the first."

"Sir; I must go to France immediately. The hunt is up, after me, too."

"What do you mean by that?" he said sharply. "The hunt! What is that?"

"I would not weary Your Majesty with it all; but the truth is that the
fellow Dangerfield, who came after me here, came yesterday with a
magistrate and near a dozen men, to Hare Street to take me. I eluded
them, and came to London."

"You eluded them! How was that?"

Well; I told him as shortly as I could; and he laughed outright when I
came to my Cousin Dolly's part in it.

"Why: that was very wittily done!" he said. "The minx!"

I did not much like that; but I could not find fault with the King.

"And I was at Tyburn this morning, Sir."

"What! At Tyburn!"

"At Tyburn, Sir; and I was so sick at heart at what I saw there--five of
Your Majesty's most faithful servants murdered in the name of justice,
that I would not have cared greatly if I had been hanged with them."

His face darkened a little; but not with anger at me.

"It is a bloody business, as I have said," he said gently. "But
come!--it is to France that you go."

"There is as good as any other place," I said, "so I be out of the
kingdom. I have estates there, too."

"But to France will suit very well," said the King. "For it is to France
that I designed to send you. I have plenty of couriers who can take
written messages, and I have plenty of men who can talk--some think, too
much; but I have no one at hand at this moment whom I can send to Court,
and who will acquit himself well there, and that can take a message
too--none, that is, that is not occupied. What do you say, Mr. Mallock?
Would a couple of months there please you?"

Here then was the time for my announcement; for I knew that if I did not
make it then I should make it never.

I stood up; and my heart beat thickly.

"Sir," I said. "Six months ago I would have run anywhere to serve you.
But in six months many things have happened; and I cannot serve a Prince
any more who cannot keep his word even to save the innocent. I had best
be gone again to Rome, I think, and see what they can give me there. I
am sick of England, which I once loved so much."

It was those very words--or others very like them that I said. I do not
know where I got the courage to say them, for my life lay altogether in
the King's hand: a word from him, or even silence, and I should have
kicked my heels that night in Newgate, and a week or two later in the
air, on a charge of being in with the Jesuits in their plot. Yet I said
them; for I could say nothing else.

His Majesty's face turned black as thunder as I began; and when I was
done it was all stiff with pride.

"That is your mind, Mr. Mallock, then?" he said.

"That is my mind, Sir," I answered him.

And then a change went over his face once more. God knows why he
relented; I think it may have been that he had somewhat of a fancy for
me, and remembered how I had pleased him and tried to serve him. And
when he spoke, it was very gently indeed.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "those are very brave words. But I think they
are not worthy of a man of your parts. For consider; were you not sent
here by the Holy Father to help a poor sinner who had need of it? And is
it Catholic charity to leave the sinner because of his sins?"

I said nothing to that; for I was all confounded at his mildness. I
suppose I had braced myself for something very different.

"It is true I am not a Catholic; but were you not sent here, in answer
to my entreaty, that you might help to make it easy for me to become
one? Is it apostolic, then, to run away so soon--"

"If Your Majesty," I burst out, "would but shew some signs--"

He lifted his eyebrows at that.

"Signs! In these days?" he said. "Why, I should hang, myself, in a
week's time! Are these the days, think you, to shew Catholicism? Why; do
you not think that my own heart is not near broken with all I have had
to do?"

He spoke with extraordinary passion; for that was his way when he was
very deeply moved (which, to tell the truth, however, was not very
often). But I have never known a man so careless and indolent on the
surface, who had a softer heart than His Sacred Majesty, if it could but
be touched.

"The blood of God's priests," he cried, holding the arms of his chair so
that it shook--"their blood cries from the ground against me! Do you
think I do not know that? Yet what can I do? I am tied and bound by
circumstance. I could not save them; and in the attempt I could only
lose my own life or throne as well. The people are mad for their blood!
Why Scroggs himself said in public at one of the trials, that even the
King's Mercy could not come between them and death. And it is at this
moment, then, that the servants to whom I had looked to help me, leave
me! Go if you will, Mr. Mallock, and save your own soul. You shall have
a safe passage to France; but never again speak to me of Catholic
charity."

Every word that he said rang true in my heart. It was true indeed, as he
said, that no effort of his could have saved the men, and he could only
have perished himself. There were scores of men, even among his own
guards, I have no doubt, who would have killed him if he had shewn at
this time the least mercy, or the least inclination towards Catholicism.
His back was to the wall; he fought not for himself only, but for
Monarchy itself in England. There would have been an end of all, and we
back again under the tyranny of the Commonwealth if he had acted
otherwise; or as I had thought that he would.

He had scarcely finished when I was on my knees before him.

"Sir," I cried, "I am heartily ashamed of myself. I ask pardon for all
that I have said. I will go to France or to anywhere else; and will
think myself honoured by it, and by the forgiveness of Your Majesty.
Sir; let me be your servant once more."

The passion was gone from his face as he looked down on me there; and he
was, as before, the great Prince, with his easy manner and his
unimaginable charm.

"Why that is very well said," he answered me. "And I shall be glad to
have your services, Mr. Mallock. Mr. Chiffinch will give you all
instructions."

       *       *       *       *       *

"That was a very bold speech," said Mr. Chiffinch presently, when the
King was gone away again--"which you made to His Majesty."

"Why, did you hear it?" I cried.

He smiled at me.

"Why, yes," he said. "I was behind the open door just within the further
chamber. I was not sure of you, Mr. Mallock, neither was the King for
that matter."

"Sure of me?"

"I thought perhaps we might have a real threatener of the King's life,
at last," he said. "You had a very wild look when you came in, Mr.
Mallock."

"Yet His Majesty came; and unarmed!" I cried: "and as happy as--as a
King!"

"Why, what else?" asked Mr. Chiffinch.

Our eyes met; and for the first time I understood how even a man like
this, with his pandering to the King's pleasures, and his own evil life,
could have as much love and admiration for such a man, as I myself had.



PART II



CHAPTER I


I do not mean to set down in this volume all that befell me during the
years that I was in the King's service, partly because that would make
too large a book, but chiefly because there were committed to me affairs
of which this French one was the first, of which I took my oath never to
speak without leave. Up to the present in England nothing had been said
to me which would be private twenty years afterwards; I take no shame at
all at revealing what little I was able to do for the King personally in
England--(except perhaps in one or two points which must not be spoken
of)--nor of my adventures and my endeavours to be of service to those
who were one with me in religion; but of the rest, the least said the
soonest mended. So the best plan which I can think of is to leave out on
every occasion all that passed, or very nearly all, when I was out of my
country, both in France and Rome, for I went away--on what I may call
secret service--three times altogether between my first coming and the
King's death. It is enough to say that this time I was in Paris about
three months, and in Normandy one; and that I had acquitted myself, so
far, to His Majesty's satisfaction.[A]

[Footnote A: Plainly this business of Mr. Mallock had some connection
with Charles' perpetual intrigues with France, for Louis' support of
him. At this time Charles' intrigues were a little unsuccessful; so it
may be supposed that without Mr. Mallock they would have been even
worse.]

I returned to London then on the night of the sixteenth of November, of
the same year; and I brought with me a letter to the King from a certain
personage in France.

Now to one living in a Catholic country the rumours that come from
others not so happy, are either greatly swollen and exaggerated in his
mind, or thought nothing of. It was the latter case with me. I was in
high favour on both sides of the Channel; and this, I suppose made me
think little of the troubles in my own country: so when I and James
reached London late in the evening, after riding up from Kent, I went
straight to Whitehall, as bold as brass to demand to see Mr. Chiffinch.
We had ridden fast, and had talked with but very few folks, and these
ignorant; so that I knew nothing of what impended, and was astonished
that the sentinels at the gate eyed me so suspiciously.

"Yes, sir," said the younger, to whom I had addressed myself, "and what
might your business with Mr. Chiffinch be?"

I had learned by now not to quack gossip or to parley with underlings;
so I answered him very shortly.

"Then fetch the lieutenant," I said; and sat back on my horse like a
great person.

When the lieutenant came he was one I had never seen before, nor he me;
and he too asked me what I wanted with Mr. Chiffinch.

"Lord, man!" I cried, for I was weary with my journey, and a little
impatient. "Do you think I shall blurt out private business for all the
world to hear? Send me under guard if you will--a man on each side--so
you send me."

He did not do that (for I think he thought that I might be some
important personage from my way with him), but he would not let James
come in too; and he said a man must go with me to show me the way.

"Or I, him," I said. "However; let it be so;" and I told James to ride
on to the lodgings, and make all ready for me there.

Now I had heard in France of the events in the kingdom; but as they had
not greatly affected Catholics, and, if anything, had even helped them,
I was in no great state of mind. Within a week of my getting to Paris
the news came of how the Duke of Monmouth had been sent with an army to
Scotland and had trounced the Highlanders (who prayed and preached when
they should have fought) at Bothwell Bridge on the river Clyde; and of
the punishment he inflicted on them afterwards; though this was nothing
to what Dr. Sharpe (who had been killed by them in May) or Lauderdale
would have done to them. Of Catholic fortunes there was not a great
deal of bad news, and some good: Sir George Wakeman, with three
Benedictines, was acquitted of any design to murder the King; and Mr.
Kerne, a priest, had been acquitted at Hereford of the charge under 27
Elizabeth--that famous statute, still in force, that forbade any priest
that had received Orders beyond the seas, to reside in England. On the
other hand, in the provinces, a few had suffered; of whom I remember, on
the Feast of the Assumption a Franciscan named Johnson, a man of family,
had been condemned at Worcester; and Mr. Will Plessington at Chester:
and these were executed. Since then, no deaths that I had heard of, had
taken place in England for such causes: and affairs seemed pretty quiet.

I was all unprepared then for the news I had from Mr. Chiffinch, as soon
as he had greeted me, and paid me compliments on the way I had done my
French business.

"You are come just in time," he said ruefully. "We are to have a great
to-do to-morrow, I hear."

I asked him what that might be, lolling in my chair, for I was stiff
with riding.

"Why it is your old friend Dangerfield, I hear, who is the thorn in our
pillow now. He hath first feigned to discover a Covenanting plot against
His Majesty; and then turned it into a Popish one. There has been much
foolish talk about a meal-tub, and papers hidden in it, and such-like:
and now there is to be a great procession of malcontents to-morrow, to
burn the Pope and the Devil and Sir George Jeffreys, and God knows who,
at Temple Bar. But that is not all."

"Why, what else?" I asked. "And why is not the procession forbidden?"

"Who do you think is behind it all?" he said. "Why; no one less than my
Lord Shaftesbury himself. Dangerfield is but one of his tools. And that
is not all."

"Lord!" said I. "What a troublous country!" (I spoke lightly, for I did
not understand the weight of all these events.) "What else is the
matter?"

"It is the Duke of Monmouth," he said, "who is the pawn in
Shaftesbury's game. My Lord would give the world to have the Duke
declared legitimate, and so oust James. His Grace of Monmouth is
something of a popular hero now, after his doings in Scotland, and most
of all since he stands for the Protestant Religion. He hath dared to
strike out the bar sinister from his arms too; and goeth about the
country as if he were truly royal. So His Royal Highness is gone back to
Scotland again in a great fury; and His Majesty is once again in a
strait betwixt two, as the Scriptures say. There is his Catholic brother
on the one side; and there is this young spark of a Protestant bastard
on the other. We shall know better to-morrow how the feeling runs. His
Majesty was taken very ill in August; and I am not surprised at it."

       *       *       *       *       *

This was all very heavy news for me. I had hoped in France that most at
least of the Catholic troubles were over, and now, here again they were,
in a new form. I sighed aloud.

"Heigho!" I said. "But this is all beyond me, Mr. Chiffinch. I had best
be gone into the country."

"I think you had," he said very seriously. "You can do nothing in this
place."

I was very glad when I heard him say that; for I had thought a great
deal of Hare Street, and of my Cousin Dolly there; and it was good news
to me to hear that I might soon see her again.

"But I must see the sight to-morrow," I said; and soon after that I took
my leave.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a marvellous sight indeed, the next evening. I went to see a Mr.
Martin in the morning, that lived in the Strand, a Catholic bookseller,
and got leave from him to sit in his window from dinner onwards, that I
might see the show.

It was about five o'clock that the affair began; and the day was pretty
dark by then. A great number of people began to assemble little by
little, up Fleet Street on the one side, the Strand on the other, and
down Chancery Lane in the midst; for it was announced everywhere, and
even by criers in some parts, that the procession would take place and
would end at Temple Bar. My Lord Shaftesbury, who had lately lost the
presidency of the Council, had rendered himself irreconcilable with the
Duke of York, and his only hope (as well as of others with him) lay in
ruining His Highness. All this, therefore, was designed to rouse popular
feeling against the Duke and the Catholic cause. So this was my welcome
home again!

It was strange to watch the folks assembling, and the gradual kindling
of the flambeaux. In the windows on either side of the street were set
candles; and a line of coaches was drawn up against the gutter on the
further side. But still more strange and disconcerting were the
preparations already made to receive the procession. An open space was
kept by fellows with torches to the east of the City Gate; and here,
looking towards the City, with her back to the Gate, close beside the
Pillory, stood Queen Bess in effigy, upon a pedestal, as it were a
Protestant saint in her shrine; for the day had been chosen on account
of its being the day of her accession and of Queen Mary's death. She was
set about with gilded laurel-wreaths, and bore a gilded sceptre; and
beneath her, like some sacrificial fire, blazed a great bonfire, roaring
up to heaven with its sparks and smoke. Half a dozen masked fellows, in
fantastic dresses, tended the bonfire and replenished the flambeaux that
burned about the effigy. Indeed it was strangely like some pagan
religious spectacle--the goddess at the entrance of her temple (for the
gate looked like that); and the resemblance became more marked as the
ceremonies were performed which ended the show. A Catholic might well be
pardoned for retorting "Idolatry," and saying that he preferred Mary
Queen of Heaven to Bess Queen of England.

It was from Moorfields that the procession came, and it took a good
while to come. But I was entertained enough by the sight of all the
people, to pass the time away. A number of gentlefolks opposite to my
window sat on platforms, all wrapped up in furs, and some of them
masked, with a few ministers among them; and I make no doubt that Dr.
Tonge was there, though I did not see him. But I did see a merry face
which I thought was Mistress Nell Gwyn's; and whether it was she or not
that I saw, I heard afterwards that she had been there, to His Majesty's
great displeasure.

And in the same group I saw Mr. Killigrew's face--that had been page to
Charles the First, and came back to be page to his son--for his
grotesque and yet fine face was unmistakable; the profligate fop Sir
George Etheredge, gambler and lampooner, with drink and the devil all
over him; solemn Thomas Thynne, murdered two years afterwards, for a
woman's sake, by Count Conigsmark, who was hanged for it and lay in
great state in a satin coffin; and last, my Lord Dover, with his great
head and little legs, looking at the people through a tortoiseshell
glass. The Court, or at least, some of it, enjoyed itself here, in spite
of the character of the demonstration. Meanwhile out of sight a great
voice shouted jests and catchwords resonantly from time to time, to
amuse the people; and the crowd, that was by now packed everywhere
against the houses, upon the roofs and even up Chancery Lane, answered
his hits with roaring cheers. I heard the name of the Duke of Monmouth
several times; and each time it was received with acclamation. Once the
Duke of York's was called out; and the booing and murring at it were
great enough to have daunted even him. (But he was in Scotland now--too
far away to hear it--and seemed like to remain there.) And once Mrs.
Gwyn's name was shouted, and something else after it; and there was a
stir on the platform where I thought I had seen her; and then a great
burst of cheering; for she was popular enough, in spite of her life, for
her Protestantism. (It was not works, they hated, thought I to myself,
but Faith!)

The first that I knew of the coming of the procession was the sound of
fifes up Fleet Street; and a great jostling and roaring that followed it
by those who strove to see better. I was distracted for an instant by a
dog that ran out suddenly, tail down, into the open space and
disappeared again yelping. When I turned again the head of the
procession was in sight, coming into view round the house that was next
to Mr. Martin's.

First, between the torches that lined the procession through all its
length, came a band of fifers, very fine, in scarlet tunics and stiff
beaver-hats; shrilling a dirge as they walked; and immediately behind
them a funeral herald in black, walking very upright and stiff, with a
bell in one hand which he rang, while he cried out in a great mournful
bellowing voice:

"Remember Justice Godfrey! Remember Justice Godfrey;" and then pealed
upon his bell again. (It was pretty plain from that that we Catholics
were to bear the brunt of all, as usual!)

Behind him came a terrible set of three. In the midst, led by a groom,
was a great white horse, with bells on his bridle sounding as he came;
and on his back an effigy, dressed in riding costume, with boots, and
with white riding gloves and cravat all spattered over with blood. His
head lolled on his shoulders, as if the neck were broken, turning a pale
bloody face from side to side, with fallen jaw and great rolling
melancholy eyes; for this was of Justice Godfrey. Beside him walked a
man in black, that held him fast with one hand, and had a dripping
dagger in the other--to represent a Jesuit. This was perhaps the worst
of all; but there was plenty more to come.

There followed, after Justice Godfrey, a pardoner, dressed as a priest,
in a black cope sown all over with death's heads, waving papers in his
hands, and proclaiming indulgences to all Protestant-killers, so loud
that he might be heard at Charing Cross; and next behind him a fellow
carrying a silver cross, that shone very fine in the red light of the
bonfire and the flambeaux, and drew attention to what came after. For
behind him came eight Religious, Carmelites and Franciscans, in the
habits of their Orders, going two by two with clasped hands and bowed
heads as if they prayed; and after them that which was, in intention,
the centre of all--for this was a set of six Jesuits in black, with lean
painted faces, each bearing a dagger which he waved, gnashing his teeth
and grinning on the folks.

There had been enough roaring and cheering before; but at this sight
the people went near mad; and I had thought for an instant that the very
actors would be torn in pieces for the sake of the parts they played.

Mr. Martin and his wife were close beside me in the window; and I turned
to them.

"We are fortunate not to be Jesuits," I said, "and known to be such. Our
lives would not be worth a pin."

He nodded at me very gravely: and I saw how white was his wife's face.

When I looked again a very brilliant group was come into view--four
bishops in rochets and violet, with large pectoral crosses. These walked
very proud and prelatical, looking disdainfully at the people who roared
at the burlesque; and behind them, again, four more in gilded mitres. (I
do not know what this generation knew of Catholic bishops; for not one
in a thousand of them had ever set eyes on one.)

After a little space followed six cardinals in scarlet, very gorgeous,
with caps and trains of the same colour. These swept along, looking to
neither right nor left, followed by a lean man in a black silk suit and
gown, skulking and bending, bearing a glass retort in one hand, and a
phial, with a label flying from it, in the other. On this was written, I
heard afterwards, the words "Jesuit-Powder"; but I could not read it
from where I was.

Then at last the tail of the procession began to come into view.

Two priests, in great white copes, bore aloft each a tall cross; and
behind them I could see through the flare and reek of the torches, a
vast scarlet chair advancing above the heads of the people. It was borne
on a platform, and was embroidered all over with gold and silver
bullion. Upon the platform itself were four boys, two and two, on either
side of the throne, in red skull-caps and cassocks and short white
surplices, each with a tall red cross held in the inner hand, and a
bloodstained dagger in the other, which they waved now and again. Upon
the throne itself sat a huge effigy. It was dressed in a scarlet robe,
embroidered like the throne; its feet in gold embroidered slippers were
thrust forward on a cushion; its hands in rich gloves were clasped to
the arms of the chair; and its grinning waxen face, very pale, was
surmounted by a vast tiara on which were three crowns, one above the
other. Round the neck hung a gold cross and chain; and a pair of great
keys hung down on one side. A devil in tight fitting black, with a
masked face, and long sprouting nails, with a tail hung behind him, and
two tall horns on his head, rolled his eyes from side to side, and
whispered continually into the ear of the effigy from behind the throne.
A great mob of people and torches and guards came shouting on behind.
And when I saw that, a kind of despair came upon me. If that, thought I,
is what my countrymen think of Catholics and the Holy Father, what use
to strive any more for their conversion?

       *       *       *       *       *

By the time that the tail had come up, the rest of the procession was
disposed round the bonfire, leaving a broad space in the midst where the
throne and effigy might be set down.

And now there appeared on the Pillory beside the Queen's image, one of
the six cardinals that had come up a little while before, and began a
sort of rhyming dialogue with a choir that was set on another platform
over against him. I could not hear all that was said, although the
people kept pretty quiet to hear it too; but I heard enough. The
cardinal was proclaiming the Catholic Religion as the only means of
salvation and threatened both temporal and eternal punishment to all
that would not have it; and the choir answered, roaring out the glories
of England and Protestantism. The fifes screamed for the cardinal's
words, as if accompanying them; and trumpets answered him for England;
and at the end, shaking his fist at the Queen and with another gesture
as of despair he came down from the Pillory.

Then came the end.

The devil, behind the throne, slipped altogether behind it and stood
tossing his hands with delight; while meantime the effigy, contrived in
some way I could not understand, rose stiffly from the seat and stood
upright. First he lifted his hands as if in entreaty towards the
Queen's image; then he shook them as if threatening, meanwhile rolling
his head with its tiara from side to side as if seeking supporters. Two
men then sprang upon the platform, as if in answer, dressed like English
apprentices, bare-armed and with leather aprons; and these seized each
an arm of the effigy; and at that the devil, after one more fit of
laughter, holding his sides, and shouting aloud as if in glee, leapt
down behind the platform, dragging the chair after him. The four boys
stood an instant as if in terror, and then followed him, with clumsy
gestures of horror.

The three figures that remained now began to wrestle together, stamping
to and fro, up to the very edge, then reeling back again, and so on--the
two apprentices against the great red dummy. At that the shouting of the
crowd grew louder and louder, and the torches tossed up and down: it was
like hell itself, for noise and terror, there in the red flare of the
bonfire: and, at the last, all roaring together, with the trumpets and
drums sounding, and the fifes too, the effigy was got to the edge of the
platform, where it yet swayed for an instant or two, and then toppled
down into the fire beneath.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a great spectacle, I cannot but confess it, and admirably
designed; and I took my leave of Mr. Martin and his lady, and went home
to supper through the crowded streets, more in tune, perhaps, with my
country's state than I had been when I lolled last night in Mr.
Chiffinch's closet.



CHAPTER II


With Dangerfield's demonstration in my mind I was not greatly inclined
to embroil myself in other matters; and I kept my intention to ride down
to Hare Street three days after, when I had done my business in London
and kissed the King's hand; and this I had done by the evening of the
second day. I saw His Majesty on that second day; but he was much
pressed for time, and he did no more than thank me for what I had done:
and so was gone. On that evening, however, a new little adventure befell
me.

The taverns in town were rare places for making new acquaintances; and
since I, for the most part, dined and supped in them, I met a good
number of gentlemen. From these I would conceal, usually, most of my
circumstances, and sometimes even my name, though that would not have
told them much. Above all I was very careful to conceal my dealings with
His Majesty, and as, following the directions he had first given me, I
presented myself seldom or never at Court, and did my business through
Mr. Chiffinch, and in his lodgings, usually, I do not suppose that there
were five men in town, if so many, who knew that I had any private
knowledge of him at all. In this manner then, I heard a deal of
treasonable talk of which I did not think much, and only reported
generally to Mr. Chiffinch when he asked me what was the feeling in town
with regard to Court affairs. It was through this, and helped, I
daresay, by what I have been told was the easy pleasantness which I
affected in company, that I stumbled over my next adventure; and one
that was like, before the end of it, to have cost me dear.

I went to supper, by chance, on the second day after my coming to
London, to an inn I had never been to before--the _Red Bull_ in
Cheapside--a very large inn, in those days, with a great garden at the
back, where gentlemen would dine in summer, and a great parlour running
out into it from the back of the house, of but one story high. The
rooms beneath seemed pretty full, for it was a cold night; and as there
appeared no one to attend to me I went upstairs, and knocked on the door
of one of the rooms. The talking within ceased as I knocked, and none
answered; so I opened the door and put my head in. There was a number of
persons seated round the table who all looked at me.

"This is a private room, sir," said one of them at the head.

"I beg your pardon, gentlemen," I said. "I was but looking for someone
to serve me." And I was about to withdraw when a voice hailed me aloud.

"Why it is Mr. Mallock!" the voice cried; and turning again to see who
it was I beheld my old friend Mr. Rumbald, seated next the one that
presided.

I greeted him.

"But I had best be gone," I said. "It is a private room, the gentleman
told me."

"No, no," cried the maltster. "Come in, Mr. Mallock." And he said
something to the gentleman he sat by, who was dressed very finely.

I could see that something was in the wind; and as I was out for
adventure, it seemed to me that here was one ready-made, however
harmless it might turn out in the end. So I closed the door behind me;
there was a shifting along the benches, and I stepped over into a place
next my friend.

"How goes the world with you, sir?" demanded Mr. Rumbald of me, looking
at my suit, which indeed was pretty fine.

"Very hungrily at present," I said. "Where the devil are the maids got
to?"

He called out to the man that sat nearest the door, and he got up and
bawled something down the passage.

"But it has treated me better lately," I said. "I have been in France on
my affairs." (I said this with an important air, for there is no
disguise so great as the truth, if it is put on a little awry.)

"Oho!" said Rumbald, who again, in spite of his old Presbyterianism, had
had a cup too many. And he winked on the company. I had not an idea of
what he meant by that; but I think he was but shewing off his friend as
a travelled gentleman.

"And we have been speaking of England," he went on, "and of them that
govern it, and of the Ten Commandments, in special the sixth."

I observed signs of consternation among one or two of the company when
he said this, and remembering of what political complexion Mr. Rumbald
had been on our previous meeting, I saw in general, at least, what they
had been after. But what he meant of the Sixth Commandment which is that
of killing, according to the Protestant arrangement of it, I understood
nothing.

"And of who shall govern England hereafter," I said in a low voice, but
very deliberate.

There fell a silence when I said that; and I was wondering what in God's
name I should say next, when the maid came in, and I fell to abusing of
her with an oath or two. When she was gone away again to get me my
supper, the gentleman in the fine dress at the head of the table leaned
forward a little.

"That, Mr. Mallock," he said, "is of what we were speaking. How did you
know that?"

"I know my friend Mr. Rumbald," I said.

This appeared to give the greatest pleasure to the maltster. He laughed
aloud, and beat me on the back; but his eyes were fierce for all his
merriment. I felt that this would be no easy enemy to have.

"Mr. Mallock knows me," he said, "and I know Mr. Mallock. I assure you,
gentlemen, you can speak freely before Mr. Mallock." And he poured a
quantity of his college-ale into a tankard that stood before me.

It appeared, however, that several of the company had sudden affairs
elsewhere; and, before we even smelled of treason, three or four of them
made their excuses and went away. This confirmed me in my thought that I
was stumbled upon one of those little gatherings of malcontents, of whom
the town was full, who talked largely over their cups of the Protestant
succession and the like, but did very little. But I was not quite right
in my surmise, as will appear presently.

By the time that my supper came up--(I cursed the maid again for her
delay, though, poor wench, she was near run off her legs)--there were
left but four of us in the room; the gentleman at the head of the table,
a lean quiet man with a cast in his eye who sat opposite me, Mr. Rumbald
and myself.

There was, however, a shade of caution yet left in my friend that the
ale had not yet driven out; and before proceeding any further, he
observed again that my fortunes had improved.

"Why, they have improved a great deal," I said--for he had caught me
with my silver-hilted sword and my lace, and I saw him looking at
them--"I live in Covent Garden now, where you must come and see me, Mr.
Rumbald."

"And your politics with them?" he asked.

"My politics are what they ever were," I said; and that was true enough.

"You were at Temple Bar?" he asked.

"Why I only came from France the day before; but you may depend upon it
I was there. It warmed my heart."

"You know who was behind it all?" asked the gentleman at the head of the
table, suddenly.

I knew well enough that such men as these despise ignorance above all
things, and that a shrewd fellow--or a man that they think to be one is
worth a thousand simpletons in their eyes; so I made no pretence of not
knowing what he meant.

"Why of course I do!" I said contemptuously. "It was my Lord
Shaftesbury."

Now the truth of this was not known to everyone in London at this time,
though it was known a little while later: and I should not have known it
myself if Mr. Chiffinch had not told me. But these men knew it, it
seemed, well enough; and my knowledge of it blew me sky-high in their
view.

"My Lord Shaftesbury, God bless him!" said the lean squinting man,
suddenly; and drained his mug.

"God bless him!" I said too, and put my lips to mine. My hand was
immediately grasped by Mr. Rumbald; and so cordial relations were
confirmed.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well; we settled down then to talk treason. I must not deny that these
persons skewed still some glimmerings of sense; they did not, that is to
say, as yet commit themselves irrevocably to my mercy: they appeared to
me to talk generally, with a view to trying me: but I acquitted myself
to their satisfaction.

We deposed Charles, we excluded James, we legitimized Monmouth; we armed
the loyal citizens and took away the arms of all others. We appointed
even days of humiliation and thanksgiving; and we grew more enthusiastic
and reckless with every mug. The lean man confided to me with infinite
pride, that he had been one of the cardinals in the procession to Temple
Bar; and I grasped his hand in tearful congratulation. We were near
weeping with loyalty at the end, not to Charles but to Monmouth. The
only man who preserved his self-control completely was the gentleman at
the head of the table, though he too adventured a good deal, throwing it
before me as a bait before a trout; and each time I gulped it down and
asked for more. He was a finely featured man, with a nose set well out
in his face, and had altogether the look and bearing of a gentleman.

It must have been full half-past nine before we broke up; and that was
at the going of our president. We too rose and saw him to the door; and
the lean man said he would see him downstairs, so Mr. Rumbald and I were
left, he swaying a little and smiling, holding on to the door-post, and
I endeavouring to preserve my dignity.

I was about to say good-night too and begone, when he plucked me
suddenly by the sleeve.

"Come back again, Mr. Mallock," he said. "I have something to say to
you."

We went back again, shutting the door behind us, and sat down. It was a
pleasant little parlour this, decently furnished, and I feigned to be
looking at the hanging that was over the press where they kept the
tankards, as if I had no curiosity in the world.

"Here, Mr. Mallock," said my friend's voice behind me. "Look at this."

He had drawn out a little black pocket-book, leather-bound, and with it
three or four loose papers. I sat down by him, and took it from him.

"It is some kind of an account-book," I said.

"You are right, sir," said Mr. Rumbald.

He sat with an air of vast importance, while I examined the book. It had
a great number of entries, concerning such things as accounts for beer
and other refreshments, with others which I could not understand. There
were also the names of inns in London, with marks opposite to them, and
times of day written down besides. I could make nothing of all this; so
I turned to the papers. Here, to my astonishment, on one of them was
written a list of names, some very well known, beginning with my Lord
Shaftesbury's, and on the two others a number of notes in short-hand,
with three or four of the same names as before written long-hand. One of
these slipped to the floor as I held them, and I stooped to pick it up;
when I raised my head again, the pocket-book and the other two papers
had disappeared again into Mr. Rumbald's possession. He did not seem to
have seen the one that fell, so I held it on my knee beneath the table,
thinking to examine it later.

"Well?" I asked. "What is the matter?"

The maltster had an air of great mystery upon his face. He regarded me
sternly, though his eyes watered a little.

"Enough to hang us all," he said; and I saw the fierce light in his eyes
again, through the veil of drink.

"Why; how is that?" asked I, slipping the paper I held, behind me, and
into the skirt pocket of my coat.

"Those accounts," he said, "they are all for the procession; for I
provided myself a good deal of the refreshment; and was paid for it by
a man of my Lord's, who has signed the book."

"And the two papers?" I asked.

"Ah!" said Mr. Rumbald. "That is another matter altogether."

I feigned that I was incurious.

"Well," I said, "every man to his own trade. I would not meddle with
another's, for the world."

"That is best," said my friend.

I tried a sentence or two more; but caution seemed to have returned to
him, though a little late; and I presently saw I should get no more out
of him. I congratulated him again on the pleasant evening we had spent;
and five minutes later we went downstairs together, very friendly; and
he winked upon me as I went out, after paying my account, as if there
were some secret understanding between us.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had a cold walk back to Covent Garden, remembering with satisfaction,
as I went, that I had not told Mr. Rumbald more particularly where I
lodged; and thinking over what I had heard. It was not a great deal
after all, I thought. When all was said, I had only heard over again
what was known well enough at Court, that my Lord Shaftesbury was behind
this demonstration, and had his finger in the whole affair of Monmouth;
I had but stumbled upon one of those companies, who were known, well
enough, to be everywhere, who were for Monmouth against His Royal
Highness: and I had but seen, what surely might be guessed to
exist,--the accounts of the refreshments supplied to the actors in the
demonstration--and had been told that my Lord's man had paid the score.
There might, indeed, be more behind; but of that I had no evidence at
all; I had received no confidence that could be of any value: and as for
the paper in my skirt-pocket, I valued it no more than a rush; and
wondered I had taken the trouble to secure it.

When I reached my lodgings, I took it out and looked at it again. I had
not even the means of reading it. The name of my Lord Shaftesbury, as I
have said, was written in long-hand three or four times; and the Duke
of Monmouth's twice. There also appeared other names of which I did not
know a great deal, and one at least of which I knew nothing, which was
"College"; though this for all I knew was for a college in an
University. Other names were that of my Lord Essex and John Hampden, and
Algernon Sidney. The paper was about a foot in length and six inches
across; and I thought so little of it--thinking that a paper of
importance would scarcely be entrusted to a man like Rumbald, who threw
them about a tavern--that I was very near throwing it into the fire. But
I kept it--though God knows that afterwards I wished I had not done
so--and slipped it into my pocket-book where I kept three or four
others, intending, when I had an opportunity, to give it to some clerk,
learned in short-hand, to read for me.

And so I went to bed.



CHAPTER III


It was with a very happy heart that the next night, about seven o'clock,
I rode down Hare Street village, and saw the lights of the house shining
through the limes.

It was a very different coming back from my going. Then we four had
stood together in the dark at the corner of the lane, fearing lest a
window should be thrown up. Now I rode back with James, secure and
content, fearing nothing: for Mr. Chiffinch had told me that all peril
had passed from Dangerfield, even had he met me and known me, which was
not likely. They were after other game now than the old conspirators.

I had sent a message to Hare Street on the day after I was come to
London, that I would be with them on this day: and so soon as I rode
into the yard the men ran out, and I heard a window open in the house;
so that by the time I came to the door it was open, and my cousins there
to meet me.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was very strange, that evening there, to be so with my Cousin Dolly;
for each of us knew, and that the other knew that too, that matters were
advanced with us, since we had been through peril together. It was
strange how diffident we both were, and how we could not meet one
another's eyes; and yet I was aware that she would have it otherwise if
she could, and strove to be natural. We had music again that night, and
Dolly and her maid sang the setting of "Go, perjured man" which she had
made from Mr. Wise's. For myself, I sat in a corner by the fire and
watched her. She was in grey that night, with lace, and a string of
little fresh-water pearls.

When she was gone to bed, my Cousin Tom and I had a crack together; and
he seemed to me more sensible than I had thought him at first. We talked
of a great number of things; and he asked me about France and my life
there; and I had a great ado from being indiscreet and telling him too
much. I represented to him that I was gone over to be out of the way of
Dangerfield, as indeed I had; but I said nothing at all to him as to my
business there: and he seemed content.

He told me also of what he had written to me as to the return of Mr.
Harris, very tired and angry, the next afternoon after his search of the
house. He had ridden near all the way to Newmarket, inquiring for me
everywhere: and had come to the conclusion at last that I had not gone
that way after all.

"He was very high with me," said my Cousin Tom, "but I was higher yet. I
told him that it was not my business both to make conspirators and to
arrest them; and since he had done me the honour of thinking I had done
the first, I had done him the honour of thinking that he could do the
second: but that it seemed I was wrong in that."

This seemed a considerable effort of wit for my Cousin Tom; but scarcely
one calculated to soothe Mr. Harris.

Finally, when I was thinking of bed my Cousin Tom opened out once again
on an old matter that was before my mind continually now: and he spoke,
I think, very sensibly.

"Cousin Roger," he said: "there is one other affair I must speak to you
of, now that you are come again to Hare Street and seem likely to remain
here for a while; and that is of my daughter. I know you would not have
me say too much; and I will not. But have you considered the advice you
said you would give me a great while ago?"

I did not answer him for a moment; for I was not sure if he were very
wise or very foolish in opening upon it again. Then I determined to be
open with the man.

"Cousin Tom," I said, "I am both glad and sorry that you have spoken of
this; and I will tell you the whole truth, which I think perhaps you may
have guessed. The reason why I could not give you advice before was that
I was not sure of my own mind. Well; I am sure of it now; and I wish to
ask my Cousin Dolly, so soon as I see an opportunity to do so, if she
will marry me. But I must say this--that I am going to take no risks. I
shall not ask her so long as I think she will refuse me; and I think, to
tell the truth, that she would not have me if I asked her now."

My Cousin Tom began to speak: but I prevented him.

"One moment," I said, "and you shall say what you will. There is one
reason that comes to my mind which perhaps may explain her
unwillingness; and that is that she may think that she is being thrown
at my head. You have been very kind, Cousin, in allowing me to make this
my home in the country; and I know"--(here I lied vehemently)--"I know
that nothing was further from your thoughts than this. Yet it may seem
so, to a foolish maid who knows nothing of the world. I do not know if
you have ever said anything to her--"

"Why, Cousin--" cried Tom, in such a manner that I knew he was lying
too--"what do you think--"

"Just so," I said; for I did not wish him to lie more than he need; "I
was sure--"

"I may have said a word or two, once or twice," pursued Cousin Tom,
intent on his own exposure--"that she must think soon about getting
married, and so forth. But to say that I have thrown her at your head,
Cousin, is not, I think, a kindly thing--"

"My dear man!" cried I. "I have been saying expressly that I knew you
had done nothing of the sort; but that perhaps Dolly thought so." (This
quieted him a little, for I watched his face.) "So the best way, I
think, is for us all to be quiet for a little and say nothing. You know
now what my own wishes are; and that is enough for you and me. As to
estates, I will make a settlement, if ever the marriage is arranged,
that will satisfy you; but I think we need not trouble about that at
present. I will do my utmost to push my suit; but it must be in my own
way; and that way will be to say nothing at all for a while, but to
establish easy relations with her. She is a little perturbed at present:
I saw that, for I watched her to-night; and unless she can grow quiet
again, all will come to nothing."

So I spoke, in the folly of my own wisdom that seemed to me so great at
that time. I had dealt with men, but not at all with women, and knew
nothing of them. If I had but followed my heart and spoken to her at
once, while the warmth of my welcome, and the memory of the peril we had
undergone together were still in heart, matters might have been very
different. But I thought otherwise, and that I would be very prudent and
circumspect, knowing nothing at all of a maid's heart and her ways. As
for Cousin Tom, he had to yield to me; for what else could he do? The
prospect that I opened before him was a better one than he could get
anywhere else: he had no opening at Court, in spite of his bragging; and
the Protestants round about were too wise, in their rustic way, to
engage themselves with a Papist at such a time. So there the matter
remained.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I came to my chamber, it had a very pleasant aspect to me. The
curtains were across the windows; a great fire blazed on the hearth--(I
had heard my Cousin Dolly's footsteps pass across the landing, before
she went to bed,--no doubt to put more wood on)--my bed was ready, and
on the round table in the middle was a jug of horn-beam branches with
some winter flowers. It was six months since I had been here; and
matters were considerably better with me now than they had been then.
Then I was being hunted; now I was free from all anxiety on that score:
then I had been going up to London to resign what little position I had;
now I was re-established, owing to what I had done in France, on a
better footing than ever. More than all, I knew now, without any doubt
at all, what my heart told me of my Cousin Dolly; and I was here, with
every liberty to commend my suit to her.

Before I went to bed I opened the little secret cupboard by my bed, and
put into it three or four private papers I had, and amongst them that
written in cipher that I had had from Mr. Rumbald. Then I went to bed;
and dreamed of Dolly.

Then began for me a time of great peace and serenity.

First came Christmas, with its homely joys, and Twelfth night on which
we cut and ate a great cake that Dolly had made; then there was the
winter's work to be done in preparation for the spring; and then spring
itself, with the crocuses sprouting between the joints of the paved walk
round the house; and the daffodils in the long box-bed beneath the
limes. I write these little things down, for it was principally by these
things that I remember those months; and the noise of the world outside
seemed as sounds heard in a dream. I went up to London, now and
again--but not very often; and saw His Majesty in private twice, and he
honoured me by asking my advice again on certain French affairs; but,
for the time, all these things were secondary in my mind to the cows of
Hare Street and to how the pigs did. It is marvellous how men's minds
can come down to such matters, and become absorbed in them, and let the
rest of the world go hang. I thought now and again of my mission from
Rome; yet I do not think I was faithless to it; for there was nothing at
that time which I could do for the King; and he expressly had desired me
not to mix much with the Court and so become known. The truth of the
matter was that at this time he was largely occupied with a certain
woman, whose name had best not be spoken; and when His Majesty ran upon
those lines, he could think of little else. I sent my reports regularly
to Rome; and the Cardinal Secretary seemed satisfied; and so therefore
was I.

It was, with my Cousin Dolly, precisely as I had thought. She was at
first very shy indeed, going up to her chamber early in the evening, so
that we had little or no music; but relaxing a little as I shewed myself
friendly without being forward. I caught her eyes on me sometimes; and
she seemed to be appraising me, I thought in my stupidity, as to whether
she could trust me not to make love to her; but now, as I think, for a
very different reason; and I would see her sometimes as I went out of
doors, peeping at me for an instant out of a window. It was not,
however, all hide and seek. We would talk frankly and easily enough at
times, and spend an hour or two together, or when her father was asleep,
with the greatest friendliness; and meanwhile I, poor fool, was thinking
how wise and prudent I was; and what mighty progress I was making by
these crooked ways.

In Easter week we had a great happiness--so great that it near broke me
down in my resolution--and I would to God it had--(at least in certain
moods I wish so).

I was returning along the Barkway road from a meadow where I had been to
look to the new lambs, in my working dress, when I heard a horse coming
behind me. I stepped aside to let him go by, when I heard myself called.

"My man," said the voice. "Can you tell me where is Mr. Jermyn's house?"

"Yes, sir," I said. "I am going there myself."

He was a grave-looking gentleman, very dark; and as I looked at him I
remembered him; but I could see he did not remember me, and no wonder,
for he had only seen me once, on a very agitating occasion, for a short
while. He was riding a very good horse, which was going lame, but
without any servant, and he had his valise strapped on the crupper. In
appearance he was a country-squire on his way to town. I determined to
give him a surprise as we went along.

"I hope you are well, Mr. Hamerton," I said.

He gave a great start at that, and looked at me closely.

"I do not remember you," he said. "And why do you call me Mr. Hamerton?"

"I knew that is not the name you were usually known by, father. Would
you be easier if I called you Mr. Young?"

"I give it up," he said. "Who are you, sir?"

"Do you remember a young man," I said, "a year and a half ago, who came
into Mr. Chiffinch's inner parlour on a certain occasion? You were
sitting near His Royal Highness; His Majesty was at the end of the
table; and by you was Father Bedingfeld who died in prison in December."

He smiled at me.

"I remember everything except the young man," he said. "So you are he.
And what is your name, sir?"

I told him.

"I am Mr. Jermyn's cousin," I said. "And I have been looking after his
lambs for him. I would there was some spiritual shepherd who would look
after us. We have not heard mass since Christmas." (For we had ridden
over to Standon on that day.)

He seemed altogether easier at that.

"Why, that can be remedied to-morrow," he said. "If you have an altar
stone and linen and vestments. I have all else with me."

We had these, and I told him so.

"Then you mean to lie at Hare Street to-night, sir?" I said.

"I had hoped to do so," he said. "I am come from Lincolnshire; and I was
recommended to Mr. Jermyn's if I could not get so far as Standon; and I
cannot, for my horse is lame."

       *       *       *       *       *

My Cousin Tom received the priest in a surprising medley of emotions
which he exhibited one by one to me who knew him so well. He was at
first plainly terrified at receiving a priest and a Jesuit; but,
presently recovered himself a little and strove to remember that here
was one of God's priests who would bring a blessing on the house--(and
said so); finally all else was swallowed up in pleasure, or very nearly,
when I took occasion on Mr. Hamerton's going upstairs to pull off his
boots, to tell him that I had seen this priest very intimate with His
Royal Highness the Duke of York; and that he had been a near friend of
Mr. Bedingfeld, the Duke's confessor.

My Cousin Dorothy received him with the reverence that pious maids can
shew so easily towards a priest. She had his chamber ready for him in
ten minutes; with fresh water in the basin and flowers upon the table:
she even set out for his entertainment three or four books of devotion
by his bedside. And all the time at supper she never ceased to give him
attention, drawing the men's eyes to his plate and cup continually.

Mr. Hamerton was a very quiet gentleman, wonderfully at his ease at
once, and never losing his discretion; he talked generally and
pleasantly at supper, of his road to Hare Street, and told us an
edifying story or two of Catholics at whose houses he had lain on his
way from Lincolnshire. These Jesuits are wonderful folk: he seemed to
know the country all over, and where were the safer districts and where
the dangerous. I have no doubt he could have given me an excellent
road-map with instructions that would take me safe from London to
Edinburgh, if I had wished it.

"And have you never been troubled with highwaymen?" asked my Cousin Tom.

"No, Mr. Jermyn," said the priest, "except once, and that was a Catholic
robber. I thought he was by the start he gave when he saw my crucifix as
he was searching me; and taxed him with it. So the end was, he returned
me my valuables, and took a little sermon from my lips instead."

       *       *       *       *       *

When supper was over, and Dorothy had gone upstairs to make all ready
for mass on the next morning, Mr. Hamerton, at our questioning, began to
tell us a little of the state of politics and what he thought would
happen; and every word that he said came true.

"His Grace of Monmouth will be our trouble," he said. "The King adores
him; and he hath so far prevailed with His Majesty as to get the Duke of
York sent twice to Scotland. I think few folk understand what feeling
there is in the country for the Protestant Duke. It was through my Lord
Shaftesbury, who is behind him, that His Royal Highness was actually
sent away, for Monmouth could do nothing without him; and I have no kind
of doubt that he has further schemes in his mind too."

(This was all fulfilled a couple of months later, as I remembered when
the time came, by my Lord Shaftesbury's actually presenting James' name
as that of a recusant, before the grand jury of Middlesex; but the
judges dismissed the jury immediately.)

"And you think, father," asked my Cousin Tom very solemnly, "that these
seditions will lead to trouble?"

"I have no doubt of it at all," said he. "The country--especially
London--is full of disaffection. Their demonstration last year did a
deal to stir it up. The Duke of York is back now, against my advice; but
I have no doubt he will have to go on his travels again. Were His
majesty to die now--_(quod Deus avertat!)_--I do not know how we should
stand."

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Hamerton took occasion to ask me that night, when we were alone for
a minute or two, what I was doing in the country.

"I remember you perfectly now," said he. "Father Whitbread spoke to me
of you, besides."

I told him that I had nothing to do in town; and with His Majesty's
consent was lying hid for a little, in order that what little was known
of me might be forgotten again.

"Well; I suppose you are wise," he said, "and that you will be able to
do more hereafter. But the time will come presently when we shall all be
needed."

It was on the tip of my tongue to ask him if he could read cipher, and
to shew him my paper--reminded of it, by his talk of disaffection; but
my Cousin Tom came back at that moment; and I put it off; and I
presently forgot it again.

       *       *       *       *       *

The memory of the mass that we heard next morning will never leave me;
for it was the first time that I had heard it in the house.

We used the long attic, for fear of disturbance, and had a man posted
beneath--for it was still death for a priest to say mass in England. All
the servants that were Catholics were there; and all, I think, went to
the sacraments. Mr. Hamerton heard confessions before the mass began.

The north end of the attic had been prepared by Dolly and her maid; and
looked very pretty and fine. A couple of men had carried up a great low
press, that had the instruments of the Passion painted upon its panels;
and this served for an altar. Behind it Dolly had put up a hanging from
downstairs, that was of Abraham offering Isaac, and had set upon the
altar a pair of silver candlesticks from the parlour, and a little
standing crucifix, with jugs of country flowers between the candlesticks
and the cross. She had laid too, as a foot-pace, a Turkey rug that came
too from the parlour; and had put a little table to serve as a credence.
Mr. Hamerton had with him little altar-vessels made for travelling, with
a cup that unscrewed from the stem, and every other necessary except
what he asked us to provide.

       *       *       *       *       *

It is the experience of everyone, I think, that mass differs from mass,
as a star (in the apostle's words) differs from another star in glory--I
do not mean in its essential effects, for that is the same always, but
in the devotion which it arouses in those that hear it. This mass then
seemed to me like scarcely any other that I had ever heard, except
perhaps that at which I received my first communion in the country
church in France. Mr. Hamerton said it with great deliberation and
recollection; and, as my Cousin Tom served him, as a host should, I was
not distracted by anything. My Cousin Dolly and I kneeled side by side
in front, and again, side by side, to receive Holy Communion.

I was in a kind of ecstasy of delight, and not, I think unworthily; for,
though much of my delight came from being there with my cousin, and
receiving our Lord's Body with her, I do not think that is any dishonour
to God whom we must love first of all, to find a great joy in loving Him
in the company of those we love purely and uprightly. So at least it
seems to me.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Hamerton told us he must be riding very early; and not much after
seven o'clock we stood at the gate to bid him farewell. I made my man
James go with him so far as Ware to set him on his road, though the
priest begged me not to trouble myself.

When I came back to the house I was in a torment of indecision as to
whether this would not be the best occasion I could ever find of telling
my Cousin Dorothy all that was in my heart in her regard; and I even
went into the Great Chamber after her, still undecided. But her manner
prevented me; for I thought I saw in her something of a return of that
same shyness which she had shewed to me when I had come last time back
to Hare Street; and I went out again without saying one word except of
the priest's visit and of what a good man he seemed.

Even then, I think, if I had spoken, matters might have taken a very
different course; but, whether through God's appointment or my own
diffidence, this was not to be; and again I said nothing to her.



CHAPTER IV


Our next adventure, not unlike the last exteriorly, was very different
from it interiorly; and led to very strange results in the event. It
came about in this way.

It was in May that Mr. Hamerton had come to us, for Easter that year
fell in that month; and the weather after that, which had been very
bitter in the winter, with so much snow as I never saw before, but
clearer about Eastertime, fell very wet and stormy again in June.

It was on a Thursday evening, in the first week in June, that the bad
weather set in with a violent storm of rain and a high wind. We sat in
the Great Chamber after supper, and had some music as usual: and between
the music we listened to the gusts of wind and the rattle of the rain,
which made so great a noise that Dolly said that it was no use for her
to go to bed yet, for that she would not sleep if she went. Her maid
went to bed; and we three sat talking till nearly half-past ten o'clock,
which is very late for the country where men rise at four o'clock.

The wind made such a noise that we heard nothing of the approach to the
house; and the first that we knew of anyone's coming was a hammering at
the door.

"Why, who is that;" said I, "that comes so late?"

I could see that my Cousin Tom did not like it, for his face shewed
it--(I suppose it was the memory of that other time when the hammering
came)--so I said nothing, but went myself to the outer door and unbolted
it.

A fellow stood there in a great riding-cloak; but I could see he wore
some kind of a livery beneath.

"Well," I said, "what do you want?"

He saw that I was a gentleman by my dress; and he answered me very
civilly.

"My master is benighted, sir," said he; "and he bid me come and ask
whether he might lie here to-night. There is no inn in the place."

"Why, who is your master?" I asked.

He did not seem to hear my question, for he went on immediately.

"There are only five of the party, sir," he said. "Two gentlemen and
three servants."

I saw that my Cousin Tom was behind me now; and that Dolly was looking
from the door of the Great Chamber.

"You have not yet told us," I said, "what your master's name is."

"I think, sir, he had best answer that," said the fellow.

Now this might very well be a Catholic, and perhaps an important person
who had heard of Mr. Jermyn, but did not wish to advertise who himself
was. I looked at my Cousin Tom; and thought from his look that the same
thought had come to him.

"Well, Cousin?" I said.

"They had best come in--" he said shortly. "Dolly, rouse some of the
servants. They will want supper, I suppose."

He nodded to the man, who went back immediately; and a minute later two
gentlemen came up the flagged path, also in great cloaks that appeared
soaked with the rain.

"By God, sir!" said the first of them, "we are grateful to you. This is
a wild night."

My Cousin, Tom said something civil, and when the door was shut, helped
this man off with his cloak, while I helped the other. The former was
explaining all the while how they were on their way to town from
Newmarket; and how they had become bogged a little after Barkway, losing
their road in the darkness. They had intended to push on to Waltham
Cross, he said, or Ware at the least, and lie there. He spoke with a
merry easy air that shewed him for a well-bred and pleasant fellow. My
own man said nothing, but left it all to the other.

When I turned to see the one who spoke, I was more surprised than ever
in all my life before; for it was no other than the Duke of Monmouth
himself. He looked a shade older than when I had last seen him in the
park above a year ago; but he was the very same and I could not mistake
him. As for me, he would not know me from Adam, for he had never spoken
with me in all his life. I did not know what to do, as to whether I
should make to recognize him or not; but he saved me the trouble; for as
I followed the others into the Great Chamber, he was already speaking.

"It is very good of you, Mr. Jermyn," he said, "to receive us like this.
My name is Morton, and my friend's here Mr. Atkins. You can put us where
you will--on the floor if you have no other place."

"We can do better than that, sir," said Tom. "There is only my daughter
here and Mr. Mallock my cousin. My daughter is gone to call the
servants."

The Duke looked very handsome and princely as he stood on the hearth,
although there was no fire, and surveyed the room. He was in a dark blue
riding-suit, darker than it should be upon the shoulders with the rain
that had soaked through his cloak; but it was of the colour of his eyes
that were very fine and attractive; and he wore his own hair. The other
man looked pretty mean beside him; and yet he was not ill-looking. He
was a fair man, too, with a rosy face; in a buff suit.

"We can manage two changes of clothes, Mr. Morton," went on my Cousin
Tom, "if you fear to take a cold; or you can sup immediately; as you
will."

"Why, Mr. Jermyn; I think we will sup first and go to bed afterwards.
The clothes can be dried, no doubt, before morning."

In spite of all his efforts, he spoke as one born to command and with a
kind of easy condescension too; and certainly this had its effect upon
poor Tom; for he was all eagerness and welcome, who just now had been a
shade surly. He was beginning to say that it was for his guests to
choose, when my Cousin Dolly came in suddenly through the open door.

"Why here is my little maid, gentlemen--" he said; and Dolly did her
reverence.

Now I had in my mind no thought of jealousy at all; and yet when I saw
how the Duke bowed to my cousin, I am bound to say that a touch of it
pierced me like a dart--there and gone again, I thought. But it had been
there. I thought how few gentlemen poor Dolly saw down here in Hare
Street: beyond the parson--and he was a man who would go out before the
pudding in a great house, and marry the lady's maid--there was scarce
one who might write Esquire after his name; and the breeding of most of
the squires was mostly rustical. As for her, she did her reverence very
prettily, without a trace of the country in it; and, strange to say, her
manner seemed to change. I mean by that, that she seemed wholly at her
ease in this new kind of company, fully as much as with her maids.

"You have had a very wet ride, sir," she said, without any sign of
confusion or shyness; "the maids are kindling a fire in the kitchen, to
dry your clothes before morning: and your men shall have beds in the
attic."

The Duke made a pretty answer, which she took as prettily.

"And a cold supper shall be in immediately," she said.

Then my Cousin Tom must needs begin upon the maid, as if she were a
child, or idiotic; and say what a good housekeeper his little maid was
to him, and how she could do so many things; and the Duke took it all
with courtesy, yet did not encourage it, as if he understood her ways
better than her father did--which was, very likely, true enough.

"And you come up to London, mistress," he said, "no doubt," with a look
at her dress that was not at all insolent, and yet very plain. And it
was indeed a pretty good one; and I remember it very well. It was cut
like a French sac--a fashion that had first come in about ten years
before, and still lasted; and was a little lower at the throat than many
that she wore. It was of a brownish kind of yellow, of which I do not
know the name, and had white lace to it, and silver lace on the bodice.
She was sunburnt again, but not too much, as I had first seen her; and
her blue eyes looked very bright in her face; and she wore a ring on
either hand, as she usually did in the evening, and had her little
pearls round her neck. It was strange to me how I observed all this, so
soon as the Duke had drawn attention to it; whereas I had not observed
it particularly before.

Wen we went into supper it was the same with the Duke and her. He
behaved to her with the greatest deference, yet not at all exaggerated
so as to be in the least insolent. He treated her, it appeared to me, as
he would have treated one of his own ladies, though there had been every
excuse, especially with Cousin Tom's way of speaking to her, and the
deep country we were in, if he had not noticed her at all. Mr. Atkins,
as he called himself, followed suit; but said very little. Once, when
the dishes had to be taken away, and Dolly rose to do it--before I could
move--(my Cousin Tom, of course, sat there like a dummy)--I observed the
Duke make a little movement with his eyes towards Mr. Atkins, who
immediately rose up and did it for her.

The effect of all this upon me was to make me do my best in talk; but it
was not very easy without betraying that I knew more of the Court than
might be supposed; but the Duke outdid me every time. He listened with
the greatest courtesy; and then said something a little better. I think
I have never seen a man do better; but it was always so with him. Five
years later he won the hearts of all the drapers in Taunton, in that
terrible enterprise of his, besides ranging on his side some of the
noblest blood in England. Twenty-six young maids in that town gave him a
Bible and a pair of colours worked by their hands; and twenty-six young
maids, it was said, went away after it in love with him. He did not
prove himself very much of a hero in the field; but from his manner in
company one could never have guessed at that. He had all the bearing of
a prince, and all the charm of a boy with it.

My Cousin Tom said something when supper was ending about Dolly's skill
in music; and how she and her maid sang together.

"May we not hear it for ourselves?" asked the Duke.

"But you are wet, sir," said my Cousin Tom.

The Duke smiled.

"I shall not think of that, sir," he said, "if Mistress Dorothy will
sing to us."

Well; so it was settled. The maid was in the kitchen, and was presently
fetched; and she and Dolly sang together once or twice, though it was
now after eleven o'clock. They sang Mr. Wise's "Go, perjured man," I
remember, again; and then M. Grabu's "Song upon Peace." The Duke sat
still in the great chair, shading his eyes from the candlelight, and
watching my Cousin Dolly: and once, when my Cousin Tom broke in upon the
second song with something he had just thought of to say, he put him
aside with a gesture, very royal and commanding, and yet void of
offence, until the song was done.

"I beg your pardon, Mr. Jermyn," he said a moment afterwards, "but I
have never been so entranced. What was it that you wished to say?"

As Dolly came towards him he stood up.

"Mistress Dorothy," he said, "you have given us a great deal of
pleasure." And he said this with so much gravity and feeling that she
flushed. It was the first evident sign she had given that he had pleased
her.

"And I mean it," he went on, "when I say it is a pity you do not come to
town more often. Such singing as that should have a larger audience than
the two or three you have had to-night."

Dolly smiled at him.

"Thank you, sir," she said. "But I know my place better than that."

This was all a little bitter to me; for by this time a wild kind of
jealousy had risen again in me which I knew to be unreasonable, and yet
could not check. It was true that I myself took the greatest pains never
to forget my manners; but I knew very well that novelty has a
pleasantness all of its own; and the novelty of such company as this,
charged with the peculiar charm of the Duke's manner, must surely, I
thought, have its effect upon her.

"Well," said he, "I could spend all night in this chamber with such
music; but I must not keep Mistress Dorothy from her sleep another
moment."

He kissed her fingers with the greatest grace, and then bowed by the
door as she went out.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we had taken them to the great guest-room that was as large, very
nearly, as the Great Chamber, and over it, and bidden them good-night,
my Cousin Tom remembered that we had forgotten to ask Mr. Morton at what
time he must ride in the morning; so I went back again to ask.

I stayed at the door for one instant after knocking, for it seemed they
had not heard me; and in that little interval I heard the Duke's voice
within, very distinct.

"A damned pretty wench," he cried. "We must--"

And at that I opened the door and went in, my jealousy suddenly flaming
up again, so that I lost my wits.

They stared at me in astonishment. The Duke already was stripped to his
shirt by one of the beds.

"I beg your pardon, Sir," I said. "But at what hour will Your Grace have
the horses?"

Mr. Atkins wheeled round full upon me; and the Duke's mouth opened a
little. Then the Duke burst into a fit of laughter.

"By God, sir!" he said. "You have detected us. How long have you known
it?"

"From the moment Your Grace took off your hat," I said.

He laughed again, highly and merrily.

"Well; no harm is done," he said. "We took other names to make matters
easier for all. You have told Mr. Jermyn?"

"No, sir," I said.

"I beg of you not to do so," he said. "It will spoil all. Nor Mistress
Dorothy. It is far easier to do without ceremony now and again."

I bowed again; but I said nothing.

"Then you may as well know," said the Duke, "that Mr. Atkins is none
other than my Lord of Essex. We have been at Newmarket together."

I bowed to my lord, and he to me.

"Well--the horses," said Monmouth. "At eight o'clock, if you please."

I said nothing to Tom, for I was very uncertain what to do; and though I
was mad with anger at what I had heard the Duke say as I waited at the
door--(though now I cannot say that there was any great harm in the
words themselves)--I still kept my wits enough to know that I was too
angry to judge fairly. I lay awake a long time that night, turning from
side to side after that I had heard the wet clothes of our guests
carried downstairs to be dried by morning before the fire. It was all a
mighty innocent matter, so far as it had gone; but I would not see that.
I told myself that a man of the Duke's quality should not come to a
little country-house under an _alias_, even if he had been bogged ten
times over; that he should not make pretty speeches to a country maid
and kiss her fingers, and hold open the door for her, even though all
these things or some of them were just what I had done myself. Frankly,
I understand now that no harm was meant; that every word the Duke had
said was true, and that it was but natural for him to try to please all
across whom he came; but I would not see it at the time.

On the next morning when I came downstairs early it seemed to me that my
Cousin Dorothy was herself downstairs too early for mere good manners.
The guests were not yet stirring; yet the maids were up, and the ale set
out in the dining-room, and the smell of hot oat-cake came from the
kitchen. There were flowers also upon the table; and my cousin was in a
pretty brown dress of hers that she did not wear very often.

I looked upon her rather harshly; and I think she observed it; for she
said nothing to me as she went about her business.

I went out into the stable-yard to see the horses; and found my Cousin
Tom there already, admiring them; and indeed they were fine, especially
a great dappled grey that was stamping under the brush of the fellow who
had first knocked at our door last night.

"That is Mr. Morton's horse, I suppose?" said Tom.

The man who was grooming him did not speak; and Tom repeated his
question.

"Yes, sir," said the man, with a queer look which I understood, though
Tom did not, "this is Mr. Morton's."

"And the chestnut is Mr. Atkins'?" asked my cousin.

"Just so, sir; Mr. Atkins'," said the man, with the corners of his mouth
twitching.

The grinning ape--as I thought him--very nearly set me off into saying
that I knew all about it; and that the yellow saddle-cloth was the
colour the Duke of Monmouth used always; but I did not. It appeared to
me then the worst of manners that these personages should come and make
a mock of country-folk, so that even the servants laughed at us.

       *       *       *       *       *

Our guests were downstairs when I came in again, and talking very
merrily to my Cousin Dorothy, who was as much at her ease as last night.
The Duke sneezed once or twice.

"You have taken a cold, sir," said Dolly.

"It was in a good cause," he said; and sneezed again.

"_Salute_," said I.

He gave me a quick look, astonished, I suppose, that a rustic should
know the Italian ways.

"_Grazie_," said he, smiling. "You have been in Italy, Mr. Mallock?"

"Oh! I have been everywhere," I said, with a foolish idea of making him
respect me.

       *       *       *       *       *

When they rode away at last, we all stood at the gate to watch them go.
The storm had cleared away wonderfully; and the air was fresh and
summerlike, and ten thousand jewels sparkled on the limes. They made a
very gallant cavalcade. The horses had recovered from their weariness,
for they were finely bred, all five of them; and the Duke's horse
especially was full of spirit, and curvetted a little, with pleasure and
the strength of our corn, as he went along. The servants' liveries too
were gay and pleasant to the eye:--(they were not the Duke's own
liveries; for when he went about outside town he used a plainer
sort)--and the Duke's dark blue, with his fair curls and his great hat
which he waved as he went, and my Lord Essex's spruce figure in his
buff, all made a very pretty picture as they went up the village street.

It was this, I think, and my Cousin Dolly's silence as she looked after
them, that determined me; and as we three went back again up the flagged
path to the house, and the servants round again to the yard, I spoke.

"Cousin Tom," I said. "Do you wish to know who our guests were?"

He looked at me in astonishment, and my Cousin Dolly too.

"Mr. Morton is the Duke of Monmouth," I said, "and Mr. Atkins, my Lord
Essex."



CHAPTER V


It was a long time before my Cousin Tom recovered from his astonishment
and his pleasure at having entertained such personages in his house. He
told me, of course, presently, when he had had time to think of it, that
he had guessed it all along, but had understood that His Grace wished to
be _incognito_; and I suppose at last he came to believe it. He would
fall suddenly musing in the evenings; and I would know what he was
thinking of; and it was piteously amusing to see, how one night again,
not long after, he rose and ran to the door when a drunken man knocked
upon it, and what ill words he gave him when he saw who it was. His was
a slow-moving mind; and I think he could not have formed the project,
which he afterwards carried out, while I was with him, or he must have
let it out to me.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a little piteous, too, to see with what avidity he seized upon
any news of the Duke, and how his natural inclinations and those
consonant with his religion strove with his new-found loyalty to a
bastard. A week or two later we had news of the attempt made by my Lord
Shaftesbury to injure the Duke of York's cause by presenting his name as
that of a recusant, to the Middlesex grand jury. It was a mighty bold
thing to do, and though the attempt failed so far as that the judges
dismissed the jury while they were still deliberating, it shewed how
little my Lord feared the Duke or His Majesty and how much resolved he
was to establish, if he could, the Protestant succession and the Duke of
Monmouth's pretended claim to it. A deal of nonsense, too, was talked at
this time of how the Duke was truly legitimate, and how Mistress Lucy
Walters had been secretly married to the King, before ever poor Queen
Catherine had been heard of; and the proofs of all this, it was
reported, were in a certain Black Box that no one had ever set eyes on;
and the matter became so much a thing of ridicule that once at the play,
I think, when one of the actors carried on a black box, there was a roar
of laughter and jeering from the pit.

It was wonderful to hear my Cousin Tom hold forth upon the situation.

One evening in September, two months after our adventure of the Duke's
coming, after a long silence, he made a little discourse upon it all.

"I should not be surprised," said he, "if there was more in the tale
than most men think. It is not likely that the proofs of the marriage
would be easy to come by, in such a case; for Mistress Walters, whom I
think I once saw at Tunbridge Wells, was not at all of the King's
position even by blood; and it is less likely that His Majesty, who was
but a very young man at that time, would have stood out against her when
she wished marriage. Besides there is no doubt that he knew her long
before there was any prospect of his coming to the throne. Then too
there has always appeared, to my mind at least, something in the Duke's
bearing and carriage that it would be very hard for a bastard to have.
He has a very princely air."

To such talk as this I would make no answer; but I would watch my Cousin
Dorothy's face; and think that I read there something that I did not
like--an interest that she should not feel: and, after a pause my Cousin
Tom would proceed in his conjectures.

It was on the day following this particular discourse, which I remember
very well, for my jealousy had so much worked up that I was very near
breaking my resolution and telling my Cousin Dolly all that was in my
heart, that a letter came for me from Mr. Chiffinch, so significant that
I will write down some sentences of it.

"His Majesty bids me to write to you to come up to town again for a few
days. He thinks that you may perhaps be of some use with His Royal
Highness to urge him to go back to Scotland again, which at present he
vows that he will not do. His Majesty is aware that the Duke scarcely
knows you at all; yet he tells me to say this, and that I will explain
to you when you come how you can be of service. There will be a deal of
trouble this autumn; the Parliament is to meet in October, and will be
in a very ill-humour, it is thought."

There was a little more of this sort; and then came a sentence or two
that roused my anger.

"I have heard much here of your entertainment of the Duke of Monmouth,
and of what a pretty girl your cousin is. His Majesty laughed very much
when he heard of it; and swears that he suspects you of going over to
the Protestant side after all. The Duke knows nothing of what you are,
or of anything you have done; but he has talked freely of his
entertainment at Hare Street, thinking it, I suppose, to be a Protestant
house. In public the King has had nothing to say to him; but he loves
him as much as ever, and would not, I think be very sorry, in his heart,
though he never says so, if he were to be declared legitimate."

This made me angry then, for what the letter said as to the Duke of
Monmouth's talk; and it disconcerted me too, for, if the King himself
were to join the popular party, there would be little hope of the
Catholic succession. The Duchess of Portsmouth, also, I had heard, had
lately become of that side; and I dared say it was she who had talked
His Majesty round.

Now my Cousin Tom knew that I had had this letter, for he had seen the
courier bring it; but he did not know from whom it came; and, as already
he was a little suspicious, I thought, of what I did in town, I thought
it best to tell him that it was from a friend at Court; and what it said
as to the Duke of Monmouth's talk, hoping that this perhaps might offend
him against the Duke. But it had the very opposite effect, much to my
discomfiture.

"His Grace says that, does he?" he said, smiling. "I am sure it is very
courteous of him to remember his poor entertainment"; and (Dolly coming
in at this instant) he told her too what the Duke had said.

"Hear what the Duke of Monmouth hath been saying, my dear! He says you
are a mighty pretty girl."

And Dolly, greatly to my astonishment, did not seem displeased, as soon
as she had heard the tale; for she laughed and said nothing.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I rode up to London next day in answer to my summons, I was wondering
how in the world I could be of service to the Duke of York. As Mr.
Chiffinch had said, I knew next to nothing of him, nor he of me; but
when I was gone round to the page's rooms the morning after I came, he
told me something of the reasons for which I had been summoned.

"Such Jesuits as are left," he said, "and the Duke's confessor among
them, seem all of opinion that the Duke had best remain in London and
fight it out. We hear, without a doubt, that my Lord Shaftesbury, who
seems most desperate, will bring in the Exclusion Bill again this
Session; and the priests say that it is best for His Royal Highness to
be here; and to plead again for himself as he did so well two years ago.
His Majesty on the other hand is honestly of opinion--and I would sooner
trust to his foresight than to all the Jesuits in the world--that he
himself can fight better for his brother if that brother be in Scotland;
for out of sight, out of mind. And he desires you, as a Catholic, yet
not a priest, to go and talk to the Duke on that side. He hath sent half
a dozen to him already; and, since he knows that the Duke is aware of
what you have done in France, he thinks that your word may tip the
balance. For the Duke, I think, is in two minds, beneath all his
protestations."

For myself, I was of His Majesty's opinion; for the sight of the Duke
irritated folk who had not yet forgotten the Oates Plot; and I consented
very willingly to go and see him.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was astonished to find that by now I had really become something of a
personage myself, amongst those few who had heard what I had done in
France; and I was received by His Royal Highness in his lodgings after
supper that evening with a very different air from that which he had
when I had last spoken with him.

The Duke was pacing up and down his closet when I came in, and turned to
me with a very friendly manner.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, when I had saluted him and was sat down, "I am
very glad to see you. His Majesty has told me all that you have done,
and has urged me to see you, as you are devoted as I know, to the
Catholic cause, and know the world too; and men's minds. Do you think I
should go or stay?"

"Sir," I said, "my opinion is that you should go. There is a quantity of
disaffection in town. I have met with a good deal of it myself. If Your
Royal Highness is to be seen continually going about, that disaffection
will be kept alive. Men are astonishingly stupid. They act, largely,
upon that which they see, not on that which they know: and by going to
Scotland you will meet them both ways. They will not see Your Highness
at all; and all that they will know of you is that you are doing the
King's work and helping the whole kingdom in Edinburgh."

"But they say I torture folks there!" said the Duke.

"They say so, Sir. They will say anything. But not a reasonable man
believes it."

(It was true, indeed, that such gossip went about; but the substance of
it was ridiculous. Good fighters do not torture; and no one denied to
the Duke the highest pitch of personal courage. He had fought with the
greatest gallantry against the Dutch.)

He said nothing to that; but sat brooding.

His closet was a very magnificent chamber; but not so magnificent as he
who sat in it. He was but just come from supper, and wore his orders on
his coat; but all his dress could not distract those who looked at him
from that kingly Stuart face that he had. He was, perhaps, the heaviest
looking of them all, with not a tithe of Monmouth's brilliant charm, or
the King's melancholy power; yet he too had the air of command and more
than a touch of that strange romance which they all had. Until that
blood is diluted down to nothing, I think that a Stuart will always find
men to love and to die for him. But it was Stuart against Stuart this
time; so who could tell with whom the victory would lie?

So I was thinking to myself, when suddenly the Duke looked up.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "I hear that you have a very persuasive manner
with both men and women. There is an exceedingly difficult commission
which I wish you would execute for me. You have spoken with the Duchess
of Portsmouth?"

"Never, Sir," I said. "I have seen Her Grace in the park only."

"Well; she has thrown her weight against me with the King. God knows
why! But I wonder you have not met her?"

"Sir, I never go to Court, by His Majesty's wish."

"Yes," he said. "But Her Grace is the King's chief agent in his French
affairs; and you are in them too, I hear. But that is His Majesty's way;
he uses each singly, and never two together if he can help it." (This
was perfectly true, and explained a good deal to me. I had heard much of
the Duchess in France, but nothing at all of her from the King.)

"Well," continued the Duke, "I wish you would see her for me, Mr.
Mallock; and try to get from her why she is so hot against me. She is a
Catholic, as you are, and she should not be so. But she is all on fire
for Monmouth and the Protestant succession; and she is all powerful with
the King."

"I shall be happy to do what I can, Sir," said I, "but I do not suppose
Her Grace will confide in me."

"I know that," he said, "but you may pick up something. You are the
fourth I have sent on that errand, and nothing come of it."

We talked a while longer on these affairs, myself more and more
astonished at the confidence given me (but I think now that it was
because the Duke had so few that he could trust); and when I took my
leave it was with a letter written and signed and sealed by the Duke,
which I was to present at Her Grace's lodgings immediately.

The Duchess, at this time, was, I think, the most powerful figure in
England; since her influence over the King was unbounded. She had come
to England ten years ago as Charles' mistress, a good and simple maid in
the beginning, as I believe, and of good Breton parents, who would not
let her go to the French Court, yet were persuaded to let her go to the
English--where, God help her! she soon ceased to be either good or
simple. In the year seventy-two she was created Duchess of Portsmouth
who up to that time had been the Breton woman Madame Kéroual (or, as she
was called in England Madam Carwell). Three years later her son had been
made Duke of Richmond. At the time of the Popish Plot she had been
terrified of her life, and it was only at the King's persuasion that she
remained in England. I cannot say that she was popular with the people,
for her coach was cried after pretty often unless she had her guards
with her; and this always threw her into paroxysms of terror. Yet she
remained in England, and was treated as of royal blood both by Charles
who loved her, and James who feared her.

A couple of days later I received a message to say that Her Grace would
receive me after supper on that same evening: so I put on my finest
suit, and set out in a hired coach.

The Duchess lived at this time in lodgings at the end of the Great
Gallery in Whitehall; and I think that of all the apartments I had ever
set eyes on--even the royal lodgings themselves--this was the finest;
and no wonder, for they had been pulled down two or three times before
she was satisfied, thus fulfilling the old proverb of Setting a Beggar
on Horseback. I was made to wait awhile in an outer chamber, all as if
she were royal; and I examined the pieces of furniture there, and there
was nothing in the Queen's own lodging to approach to them--so massy was
the plate and so great and exquisitely carved the tables and chairs.
When I was taken through at last by a fellow dressed in a livery like
the King's own, the next room, where I was bidden to sit down, was full
as fine. There was a quantity of tapestry upon the walls, of new French
fabric, so resembling paintings that I had to touch before I was sure
of them--of Versailles, and St. Germain, with hunting pieces and
landscapes and exotic fowls. There were Japan cabinets, screens and
pendule clocks, and a great quantity of plate, all of silver, as well as
were the sconces that held the candles; and the ceilings were painted
all over, as were His Majesty's own, I suppose by Verrio.

As I sat there, considering what I should say to her, I heard music
continually through one of the doors; and when at last it was flung open
and my Lady came through, she brought, as it were, a gust of music with
her.

I bowed very low, as I had been instructed, in spite of the character of
the woman, and then I kneeled to kiss her hand. Then she sat down, and
left me standing, like a servant.

She appeared at that time to be about thirty years old, though I think
she was far beyond this; but she had a wonderfully childish face, very
artfully painted and darkened by the eyes. I cannot deny, however, that
she was very handsome indeed, and well set-off by her jewels and her
silver-lace gown, cut very low so as to shew her dazzling skin. Her
fingers too, when I kissed them, were but one mass of gems. Her first
simplicity was gone, indeed.

I loathed this work that I was sent on; since it forced me to be civil
to this spoiled creature, instead of, as I should have wished, naming
her for what she was, to her face. However, that had been done pretty
often by the mob; so I doubt if I could have told her anything she did
not know already. Her voice was set very low and was a little rough; yet
it was not ugly at all. She spoke in French; and so did I.

"Well, Mr. Mallock," she said, "I have company; but I did not wish to
refuse another of His Royal Highness's ambassadors. What is the matter
now, if you please?"

Now I knew that this kind of personage loved flattery--for it was
nothing but this that had ruined her--and that it could scarcely be too
thick: so I framed my first sentences in that key: for, after all, my
first business was to please her.

"His Royal Highness is desolated, madam," I said, "because he thinks he
has displeased you."

"Displeased me!" she cried. "Why, what talk is this of a Prince to a
poor Frenchwoman?"

She smiled very unpleasantly as she said this; and nearly all the time I
was with her, her eyes were running up and down my figure. I was wearing
a good ring or two also, and my sword-hilt was very prettily set with
diamonds; and she always had an eye for such things.

"There can be no talk of Prince and subject, madam," I said, "when Her
Grace of Portsmouth is in question."

She smiled once more; and I saw that she liked this kind of talk. So I
gave her plenty of it.

"La! la!" she said. "This is very pretty talk. What is your business,
sir, if you please?"

"It is what I have said, madam; and nothing else upon my honour! His
Royal Highness is seriously discomposed."

"Then why does he not come to see me, and ask me himself?" snapped my
Lady. "He hath not been these three months back. Why does he send a--a
messenger?"

(She was on the very point of saying _servant_; and it pleased me that
she had not done so. I noted also in my mind that wounded vanity was one
of the reasons for her behaviour, as it usually is with a woman.)

"Madam," I said, "His Royal Highness does not come, I am sure, because
he does not know how he would be received. It seems that Your Grace's
favour is given to another, altogether, now."

"God bless us!" said the Duchess. "Why not say Monmouth and be done with
it?"

"It is Your Grace who has named him," I said: "but the Duke of Monmouth
is the very man."

She gave a great flirt to her fan; and I saw by her face what I had
suspected before, that it was not only with music that she was
intoxicated. Then she jerked her pretty head.

"Sit down, sir," she said; and when I had done so, pleased at the
progress I was making, she told me everything I wanted to know, though
she did not think so herself.

"See here, Mr. Mallock: You appear an intelligent kind of man. Now ask
yourself a question or two, and you will know all that I know myself.
What kind of a chance, think you, has a Catholic as King of England, as
against a Protestant; and what kind of a chance, think you, has the Duke
of York beside the Duke of Monmouth? I speak freely, because from your
having come on this errand, I suppose you are a man that can be trusted.
I wonder you have not seen it for yourself. His Royal Highness has no
tact--no _aplomb_: he sets all against him by his lordly ways. He could
not make a friend of any man, to save his life: he can never forget his
royalty. He sulks there in his lodgings, and will not even come to see a
poor Frenchwoman. And now, sir, you know all that I know myself."

The woman's ill-breeding came out very plainly when she spoke; and I
remember even then wondering that His Majesty could make so much of her.
But it is often the way that men of good breeding can never see its lack
in others, especially in women: or will not. However I concealed all
this from Her Grace, and let go more of my courtesy.

"But, madam," I said, "with all the goodwill in the world it is
Versailles to a china orange that His Royal Highness will succeed in the
event. I do not say that he will make as good a King as the Duke of
Monmouth, nor that his being a Catholic will be anything but a
disadvantage to him; but disadvantages or no, if he is King, it is
surely better to be upon his side, and help, not hinder him."

I would not have dared to say such a thing to a respectable woman; for
it advised her, almost without disguise, to look to her own advantage
only.

She gave me a sharp look.

"That is where we are not agreed," said she.

I made a little despairing gesture with my hands.

"Well, madam--if you do not accept facts--"

"Why do you think the Duke of York is so sure to succeed?" she asked
sharply; and I saw that I had touched her.

"Madam," I said, "we English are a very curious people. It is true that
we cut off His late Majesty's head; but it is also true that we welcomed
back his son with acclamation. We are not quick and logical as is your
own glorious nation; we have very much more sentimentality; and, among
those matters that we are sentimental about, is that of Royalty. I dare
wager a good deal that if government by Monarchy goes in either of our
countries, it will go in Your Grace's fatherland first. We abuse those
in high places, and we disobey them, and we talk against them; yet we
cling to them.

"And there is a second reason--" I went on rapidly; for she was at the
point of speaking--"We are a highly respectable nation, with all the
prejudices of respectability; and one of these prejudices concerns His
Grace of Monmouth's parentage"--(I saw her flare scarlet at that; but I
knew what I was doing)--"It is a foolish Pharisaic sort of prejudice, no
doubt, madam; but it is there; and I do not believe--"

She could bear no more; for her own son had precisely that bar sinister
also; and in her anger she said what I wished to hear.

"This is intolerable, sir," she flared at me, gripping the arms of her
chair. "I do not wish to hear any more about your stupid English nation.
It is because they are stupid that I do what I do. They can be led by
the nose, like your stupid king: I can do what I will--"

"Madam," I entreated, and truly my accents were piteous, "I beg of you
not to speak like that. I am a servant of His Majesty's--I cannot hear
such talk--"

I rose from my chair.

Now in that Court there was more tittle-tattle, I think, than in any
place on God's earth; and she knew that well enough; and understood that
she had said something which unless she prevented it, would go straight
to Charles' ears. It is true that she ruled him absolutely; but he
kicked under her yoke a little now and then; and if there were one thing
that he would not brook it was to be called stupid. She let go of the
arms of her chair, and went a little white. I think she had no idea
till then that I was in the King's service.

"I said nothing--" she murmured.

I stood regarding her; and I think my manner must have been good.

"I said nothing that should be repeated," she added, a little louder.

I still kept silence.

"You will not repeat it, Mr. Mallock?"

"Madam," I said, "I have only one desire: and that is to serve His
Majesty and His Majesty's lawful heir. My mouth can be sealed
absolutely, if that end is served."

I said that very slowly and deliberately.

I saw her breathe a little more freely. It was a piteous sight to see a
woman so depending upon such things as a complexion, and whiffs of
scandal, and servants' gossip.

"Mr. Mallock," she said, "I cannot veer round all in a moment, even
though I must confess that what you have said to me, has touched me very
closely."

She looked at me miserably.

"Madam," I said, for I dared not grasp at more than this, for fear of
losing all, "that has wiped out your words as if they had never been
spoken."

I kissed her hand and went out.

       *       *       *       *       *

I did not go to the Duke, for I hold that, when a man has to sift
carefully between what he must say and what he must not, it is best to
do it on paper; but I went back to my lodgings and wrote to him that it
was merely for her own advantage that the Duchess had behaved so, and
because she thought that the Protestant succession was certain--her own
advantage, that is to say, mingled with a little woman's vanity. I
begged His Royal Highness therefore to go and see the Duchess, if he
thought well, and, if possible, publicly, when she held her reception,
before he went to Scotland--(for I was diplomat enough to know that the
assuming he would go to Scotland would be the best persuasion to make
him)--; and at the end I told him that I thought my arguments had
prevailed a little with Her Grace, and that though she could not at once
turn weathercock, he might take my word for it that she would not be so
forward as she had been. But I did not tell him what argument I had
chiefly used; for I hold that even to such a woman as that, a man should
keep his word.

Everything I told the Duke in that letter fell true. The Duchess began
to cool very much in the Protestant cause, though perhaps that was
helped a little by Monmouth's having fallen under the King's
displeasure: and the Duke of York went two or three times to the
Duchess' receptions; and to Scotland on the day before Parliament met.



CHAPTER VI


It was on Mr. Chiffinch's advice that I remained in London for the
present, determining however to spend Christmas at Hare Street; and
indeed I had plenty to do in making my reports to Rome on the situation.

There was a storm brewing. From all over the country came in _addresses_
to the King, as they were called, praying him to assemble Parliament,
and that, not only for defence against Popery, but against despotism as
well; and all these were nourished and inspired by my Lord Shaftesbury.
His Majesty answered this by proclaiming through the magistrates that
such addresses were contrary to the laws that left such things at the
King's discretion; and the court-party against the country-party
presently begun to send addresses beseeching His Majesty to defend that
prerogative of his fearlessly. Names began to be flung about: the
court-party called the other the party of _Whigs_, because of their whey
faces that would turn all sour; and the country-party nicknamed the
others _Tories_, which was the name of the banditti in the wilder parts
of Ireland. So it appeared that whenever Parliament should meet, there
would be, as the saying is, a pretty kettle of fish to fry.

Parliament met at last on the twenty-first of October, the Duke of York
having set out to Scotland with a fine retinue on the day before; (which
some thought too pointed); and the King himself opened it.

With all my love for His Majesty I am forced to confess that he
presented a very poor spectacle on that occasion. Not only did he
largely yield to the popular clamour, and profess himself willing,
within reason, to befriend any measures for the repression of Popery;
but he stood at the fire afterwards in the House of Lords, for a great
while, warming his back and laughing with his friends. I was in the
gallery and saw it myself. Laughter is a very good thing, but a seemly
gravity is no less good. As might be expected of curs, they barked all
the louder when there was no one to stand up to them; and within a week,
after numerous insulting proposals made to honour that horde of lying
informers that had done so much mischief already, and of preferring such
men as Dr. Tonge to high positions in the Church, once more that
Exclusion Bill of theirs came forward.

The Commons passed it, as might be expected, since my Lord Shaftesbury
had packed that House with his own nominees.

I was in Whitehall on the night that it was debated in the Lords--four
days later--and up to ten o'clock His Majesty had not returned from the
House; for he was present at that debate--a very unusual thing with him.
I went up and down for a little while outside His Majesty's lodgings;
and about half-past ten I saw Mr. Chiffinch coming.

"His Majesty is not back yet," he said; and presently he proposed that
we should go to the House ourselves.

       *       *       *       *       *

From the little gallery whither he conducted me, I had a very good view
of the House, and, yet more, of one of the strangest sights ever seen
there.

Upon the carpet that was laid by the fire, for it was a cold night,
stood His Majesty himself with a circle of friends about him. Now and
again there came up to him one of the Peers for whom he had sent; he
talked to him a few minutes; and then let him go; for he was doing
nothing else than solicit each of them for his vote.

The cry was raised presently to clear the House; and we went away; for
their Lordships were to record their votes; and we had not stood half an
hour in the court outside, before there came a great cheering and
shouting; followed hard by a great booing from the crowds that stood
packed outside. My Lords had thrown out the Exclusion Bill by above
two-thirds of their number--which was ninety-three. Presently His
Majesty came out by his private way, laughing and jesting aloud with two
or three others.

It was to be expected that the country-party would make some retort to
this; and what that retort was I heard a few days later, from a couple
of gentlemen who came into the parlour at the Covent Garden tavern where
I was taking my supper. They came in very eagerly, talking together, and
when they had sat down, one of them turned to me.

"You have heard the news, sir?"

"No, sir. What news?"

"My Lord Stafford is to be tried for his life."

I did not know what political complexion these two were of; so I looked
wise and inquired how that was known.

"A clerk that is in the House of Lords told me, sir. I have always found
his information to be correct."

This was all very well for the clerk's friend, thought I; but not enough
for me; and so soon as I had finished my supper and bidden them
good-night I was off to Mr. Chiffinch.

"Why yes," he said. "It is like to be true enough. I had heard talk of
it, but no more. It is he whom they have chosen as the weakest of the
Five in the Tower; and if they can prevail against him they will proceed
against the rest, I suppose. I wonder who the informers will be."

I inquired how it was that the Peers did not resist.

"They fear for themselves and their places," said Mr. Chiffinch. "They
will yield up anything but that, if a man or two will but push them hard
enough. And, if they try my Lord, they will certainly condemn him. There
is no question of that. To acquit him would cause a yet greater uproar
than to refuse to hear the case at all."

"And His Majesty?"

Mr. Chiffinch eyed me gravely.

"His Majesty will never prefer his private feelings before the public
utility."

"And this is to the public utility?"

"Why yes; or the country-party thinks it is. It is the best answer they
can make to their rebuff on the matter of the Exclusion Bill."

The rumour proved to be perfectly true. The Five Lords who were still in
the Tower, had been sent there, it may be remembered, above two years
ago, on account of their religion, although the pretended plot professed
by Oates was of course alleged against them. Since that time Parliament
had been busy with other matters; but such an opportunity was now too
good to be lost, of striking against the court-party, and, at the same
time, of feeding the excitement and fanaticism of their own.

The trial came on pretty quickly, beginning on the last day of November;
and as I had never seen a Peer tried by his fellows, I determined to be
present, and obtained an order to admit me every day; and the first day,
strangely enough, was the birthday of my Lord Stafford himself.

       *       *       *       *       *

Westminster Hall, in which the trial was held, was a very noble sight
when all the folks were in their places. (I sat myself in a high
gallery, in which sat, too, ambassadors and public ministers--at the
upper end, above the King's state.)

I could not see that which was immediately beneath me, neither of the
box in which sat His Majesty during a good deal of the trial, nor, upon
the left side where the great ladies sat. But I had a very good view of
the long forms on which the Peers sat, before the state (under which was
the throne), the wool-packs for the Judges, and the chair of the Lord
Steward--all which was ranged exactly as in the House of Lords itself.
Behind the Peers' forms rose the stands, scaffolded up to the roof, for
the House of Commons to sit in; so that the Hall resembled the shape of
a V in its section, with a long arena in the midst. The lower end held,
in the middle, the bar for the prisoner to stand at, and a place for him
to retire into: a box for his two daughters, of whom one was the
Marchioness of Winchester; and the proper places for the Lieutenant of
the Tower (whence my Lord was brought by water), the axe-bearer, who had
the edge of his axe turned away from the prisoner, and the guards that
kept him. Upon either hand of the entrance, nearer to the throne, stood,
upon one side a box for the witnesses, and upon the other, those that
were called the Managers--being lawyers and attorneys and the like; but
these were in their cloaks and swords, as were others who were with
them, of the Parliamentary party, since they were here as representing
the Commons, and not as lawyers first of all.

       *       *       *       *       *

The two first days were tedious enough; and I did not stay a great
while; for the articles of impeachment were read, and formalities
discharged. One matter of interest only appeared; and that was the names
of the witnesses, when I learned for the first time that Oates and
Dugdale and Turberville were to be the principal. I think more than I
were astonished to hear that Dr. Oates was in this conspiracy too, as in
so many others; and that he would swear, when the time came, that he had
delivered to my Lord a commission from the Holy Father, to be paymaster
in the famous Catholic army of which we had heard so much.

I was much occupied too on these days in observing the appearance and
demeanour of the prisoner, whom I could see very well. He was now in his
seventieth year, and looked full his age; but he bore himself with great
dignity and restraint. He had somewhat of a cold look in his face; and
indeed it was true that he was not greatly beloved by anybody, though
respected by all.

The principal witnesses, even before Oates, were Dugdale and
Turberville. First these gave their general testimony--and afterwards
their particular. Mr. Dugdale related how that the plot, in general, had
been on hand for above fifteen or sixteen years; and he repeated all the
stuff that had so stirred up the people before, as to indulgences and
pardons promised by the Pope to those who would kill the King. I must
confess that I fell asleep once or twice during this testifying, for I
knew it all by heart already. And, in particular, he said that my Lord
had debated with others at my Lord Aston's, how to kill the King: and
that himself was present at such debates.

A great hum broke out in the Hall, when Dugdale swore that he had heard
with his own ears my Lord Stafford and others who had been present, give
their assent one by one to the King's murder. His Majesty himself, I was
told later by Mr. Chiffinch, retired to the back of his box to laugh,
when he heard that said; for neither then nor ever did he believe a word
of it.

Next came Mr. Oates; and he too reaffirmed what he had said before, with
an hundred ingenious additions and particularities as to times and
places--and this, I think, as much as anything was the reason why so
many simple folk had believed him in the first event.

Then Turberville, who said falsely that he had once been a friar, and at
Douay, related how my Lord, as he had said, had attempted to bribe him
to kill the King, and suchlike nonsense. This, he said, had happened in
France.

My Lord Stafford questioned the prisoners a little; and shewed up many
holes in their story. For instance, he asked Turberville whether he had
ever been in his chamber in Paris; and put this question through the
High Steward.

"Yes, my Lord, I have," said Turberville.

"What kind of a room is it?" asked my Lord.

"I can't remember that," said Turberville, who before had sworn he had
been in it many times.

"No," said my Lord, "I dare swear you can't."

"I cannot tell the particulars--what stools and chairs were in the
room."

       *       *       *       *       *

On the third day, which was Thursday, my Lord was bidden to call his
witnesses and make his defence; and I must confess that he did not do
this very well; for, first he made a great pother about this and that
statute, of the 13 Charles II. and 25 Edward--nothing of which served
him at all; and next his witnesses did him harm rather than good; and
Dugdale, whom he examined was so clever and quiet and positive in his
statements that it was mere oath against oath. Third, my Lord Stafford
himself did appear a little confused as to whether he had known Dugdale
or not, not being sure of him, as he said, in his periwig; for when
Dugdale was bailiff to my Lord Aston at Tixall, he wore no such thing.
All that he did, in regard to Dugdale, was to shew by one of his
witnesses that Dugdale, when bailiff at Tixall, had been a mean
dishonest fellow; but then, as the Lord High Sheriff observed, it would
scarcely be an honest man whom one would bribe to kill the King.

When he dealt with Turberville too, he did not do much better; for he
stood continually upon little points of no importance--such points as a
witness may very well mistake--as to where the windows of his house in
Paris looked out, and whether the Prince of Conde lodged to right or
left--such little points as a lawyer would leave alone, if he could not
prove them positively.

On the fourth and fifth day I was not present; for I had a great deal to
do in writing my reports for Rome; and on the sixth day--which was
Monday--I was not there above an hour, for I saw that the trial would
not end that day. But on the Tuesday I was there before ten o'clock; and
at eleven o'clock my Lords came back to give judgment. It was a dark
morning, as it had been at the trial of the Jesuits; and the candles
were lighted.

As soon as all were seated my Lord Stafford was brought in; and I
observed him during all that followed. He stood very quiet at the bar,
with his hands folded; and although, before the voting was over, he must
have known which way it was gone, he flinched never a hair nor went
white at all. (His bringing in while the voting was done was contrary to
the law; but no one observed it; and I knew nothing of it till
afterwards.)

The Lord High Steward first asked humble leave from my Lords to sit down
as he spoke, as he was ailing a little, and then put the question to
each Lord, beginning with my Lord Butler of Weston.

"My Lord Butler of Weston," said he, "is William Lord Viscount Stafford
guilty of the treason whereof he stands impeached, or not guilty?"

And my Lord answered in a loud voice, laying his hand upon his breast:

"Not guilty, upon my honour."

There were in all eighty-six lords who voted; and each answered, Guilty,
or Not Guilty, upon his honour, as had done the first, each standing up
in his place. At the first I could not tell on which side lay the most;
but as they went on, there could be no doubt that he was condemned.
Prince Rupert, Duke of Cumberland, voted last, as he was of royal blood,
and gave it against him.

The Lord High Sheriff, who had marked down each vote upon a paper on his
desk, now added them all up: and there was a great silence while he did
this. (I could see him doing it from where I sat.) Then he spoke in a
loud voice, raising his head.

"My Lords," said he, "upon telling your votes I find that there are
thirty-one of my Lords that think the prisoner not guilty, and
fifty-five that have found him guilty--Serjeant," said he; and then I
think that he was about to call for the prisoner, when he saw him
already there. Then, before he spoke again, I saw the headsman turn the
edge of the axe towards my Lord Stafford; and a rustle of whispering ran
through the Hall.

"My Lord Stafford," said the High Steward, "I have but heavy tidings for
you: your Lordship hath been impeached for high treason; you have
pleaded not guilty: my Lords have heard your defence, and have
considered of the evidence; and their Lordships do find you guilty of
the treason whereof you are impeached."

Then my Lord Stafford, raising his head yet higher, and flinching not at
all, cried out:

"God's holy name be praised, my Lords, for it!"

Then the Lord High Steward asked him why judgment of death should not be
given on him; and after saying that he had not expected it, and that he
prayed God to forgive those that had sworn falsely against him, he went
on, as before, upon a legal point--that was wholly without relevance--
that he had not been forced to hold up his hand at the beginning as he
thought to be a legal form in all trials; and when he had said that, my
Lords went out to consider their judgment.

It was above an hour before they came back. During that hour my Lord
Stafford was permitted to sit down in the box provided for him; but no
one was admitted to speak with him. He sat very still, leaning his head
upon his hand.

When all were come back again, he was made to stand up at the bar once
more; and his face was as resolute and quiet as ever.

Then, when the Lord High Steward had answered his point, saying that in
no way did the holding up of the hand affect the legality of the trial;
he began to give sentence.

"My part, therefore, which remains," said he, "is a very sad one. For I
never yet gave sentence of death upon any man, and am extremely sorry
that I must begin with your Lordship."

My Lord Nottingham was silent for an instant when he had said that,
seeking, I think, to command his voice: and then he began his speech,
which I think he had learned by heart; and it was one of the most moving
discourses that I have ever heard, though he committed a great indecency
in it, when he said that henceforth no man could ever doubt again that
it was the Papists who had burned London; and professed himself--(though
this I suppose he was bound to do)--satisfied with the evidence.

When he came to give sentence, I watched my Lord Stafford's face again
very hard; and he flinched never a hair. It was the same sentence as
that to which the Jesuits too had listened, and many other Catholics.

"You go to the place," said my Lord Nottingham, "from whence you came;
from thence you must be drawn upon a hurdle to the place of execution:
when you come there you must be hanged up by the neck there, but not
till you are dead; for you must be cut down alive, your bowels ripped up
before your face and thrown into the fire. Then your head must be
severed from your body; and your body divided into four quarters, and
these must be at the disposal of the King. And God Almighty be merciful
to your soul!"

There was a moment of silence; and then my Lord Stafford answered.

"My Lords," he said quietly, yet so that every word was heard, "I humbly
beseech you give me leave to speak a few words: I do give your
Lordships hearty thanks for all your favours to me. I do here, in the
presence of God Almighty, declare I have no malice in my heart to them
that have condemned me. I know not who they are, nor desire to know: I
forgive them all, and beseech your Lordships all to pray for me--" (His
voice shook a little, and he was silent. Then he went on again. All else
were as still as death.)

"My Lords, I have one humble request to make to your Lordships, and that
is, my Lords, that the little short time I have to live a prisoner, I
may not be a close prisoner as I have been of late; but that Mr.
Lieutenant may have an order that my wife and children and friends may
come at me. I do humbly beg this favour of your Lordships, which I hope
you will be pleased to give me."

His voice grew very low as he ended; and I saw his lips shake a little.

The Lord High Steward answered him with great feeling.

"My Lord Stafford," he said--(and that was an unusual thing to say,
for he had said before that since he was to be attainted he could not be
called My Lord again)--"I believe I may, with my Lords' leave, tell you
one thing further; that my Lords, as they proceed with rigour of
justice, so they proceed with all the mercy and compassion that may be;
and therefore my Lords will be humble suitors to the King, that he will
remit all the punishment but the taking off of your head."

And at that my Lord Stafford broke down altogether, and sobbed upon the
rail; and it is a terrible thing to see an old man weep like that. When
he could command his voice, he said:

"My Lords, your justice does not make me cry, but your goodness."

Then my Lord Nottingham stood up, and taking the staff of office that
lay across his desk, he broke it in two halves. When I looked again, the
prisoner was going out between his guards, and the axe before, with its
edge turned towards him in token of death.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was at Mr. Chiffinch's again that night to hear the news; but he was
not there. When he came in at last, he appeared very excited. Then he
told me the news.

"They are at His Majesty already," he said, "that he cannot remit the
penalty of High Treason. But the King swears that he will, law or no
law, judges or no judges. I have never seen him so determined. He does
not believe one word of the evidence."

"Yet he will sign the warrant for the beheading?" I asked.

"Why," said Mr. Chiffinch, "His Majesty does not wish to go upon his
travels again."



CHAPTER VII


The night before I went down to Hare Street,--for I went on Christmas
Eve--I was present for the first time at the high supper in Whitehall,
which His Majesty gave to the Spanish Ambassador. I had never been at
such a ceremony before; and went out of curiosity only, being given
admission to one of the stands by the door, whence I might see it all.
It would have appeared very strange to me that the King could be so
merry, as he was that night, when so much innocent blood had been shed
upon his own warrant, and when such a man, as my Lord Stafford was, lay
in the Tower, expecting his death six days later;--had I not known the
nature of His Majesty pretty well by now. For, beneath all the
merriment, I think he was not very happy, though he never shewed a sign
of it.

I stood, as I said, upon a little scaffold to the right of the entrance;
and I was glad of it; for there was a great pack of people crowded in,
as the custom was, also to see the spectacle; and they were all about me
and in front, as well as in the gallery where the music was.

The Banqueting Hall had its walls all hung over with very rich tapestry,
representing all kinds of merry scenes of hunting and fighting and the
like, and there were great presses along the walls, piled with plate of
gold and silver. The music was all on the balusters above--wind-music,
trumpets and kettledrums, that played as Their Majesties came in, after
the heralds and Black Rod. I had not had before an opportunity of seeing
the Queen so well as I saw her now; and I watched her closely, for I was
sorry for the poor woman. She was very gloriously dressed in a pale
brocade, with quantities of Flanders lace upon her shoulders and at her
elbows, that set off her little figure very well. She was very handsome,
I thought, though so little; and her complexion and her face were both
very good, except that her teeth shewed too much as she smiled. She
had, however, nothing of that witty or brilliant air about her that
pleased the King so much in women; and she sat very quietly throughout
supper, beside the King, not speaking a great deal. But I thought I saw
in her at first a very piteous desire to please him; and he listened,
smiling, as a man might listen to a dull child; and, indeed, I think
that that was all that he thought of her. His Majesty himself appeared
very noble and gallant, in His Order of the Garter, and with the Golden
Fleece too, over his rich suit. Both Their Majesties wore a good number
of jewels.

Their Majesties sat at a little high table, under a state, with their
gentlemen and ladies standing behind them; and the Spaniards, with the
King's other guests at a table that ran down the middle of the hall, yet
close enough at the upper end for the Ambassador and the King to speak
together. My Lord Shaftesbury was there; and it was strange to see him,
I knowing how much he was privately under His Majesty's displeasure, and
Prince Rupert, very fat and pale and stupid; and Sir Thomas Killigrew
and a score of others. His Majesty was served by the Lords and
pensioners; and the rest by pages and the like, and gentlemen. About the
middle of the dinner toasts were drunk--and first of all His Majesty's,
and the trumpets sounded and the music played, all standing, and when
they were sat down again I heard the guns shot off at the Tower; and I
thought of him who lay there, and how he heard them near at hand, and
how he might have been here, supping with the Spaniards, had he not
fallen under the popular displeasure on account of his religion. It was
a wonderful thing to see the toast drunk, all that company standing upon
its feet, and shouting.

When the banquet came in, and the French wines, a very curious scene of
disorder presently began--these gentlemen flinging the dessert about
and at one another, for they were beginning to be a little drunk: and I
saw Killigrew fling a bunch of raisins at one of the Spaniards, in
sport. His Majesty sat smiling throughout, not at all displeased; but
not drunk at all himself; and indeed he seldom or never drank to excess
nor gamed to excess, though he loved to see others do so.

At the end, when all was finished, a choir under the direction of the
King's Master of Music sang a piece very sweetly from the gallery, with
the wind music sounding softly; but no one paid the least attention; and
then we all stood up again, such as had seats on the scaffolds, to see
Their Majesties go out. But such a scene as it all was, when the fruit
and sweetmeats were flung about would not have been tolerated in Rome,
nor, I think in any Court in Europe.

The next morning, very early, James and I set out for Hare Street.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now the determination had been forming in my mind for some weeks past,
that I would delay no longer in that which lay nearer to my heart by
now, I think, than all politics or missions or anything else; and that
was to ask my Cousin Dolly if she would have me or no; and all the way
down to Hare Street I was considering this and rehearsing what I should
say. I still had some hesitation upon the point, for I remembered how
strange and shy she had been when I had last been there, and had thought
it to be because perhaps she believed that she was being flung at me by
her father. But the memory of my jealousy had worked upon me very much
--that jealousy, I mean, that I had had when His Grace of Monmouth had
come and made his pretty speeches; and I was all but resolved to put all
to the test, one way or the other. I had thought of her continually: in
all that I had seen--in even the sorrowful affair in Westminster Hall
and the merry business a fortnight after at the supper--I had seen it,
so to say, all through her eyes and wondered how she would judge of it
all, and wished her there. The sting of my jealousy indeed was gone: I
reproached myself for having thought ill of her even for a moment; yet
the warmth was still there; and so it was in this mood that I came at
last to the house, at supper-time.

It was extraordinary merry and pretty within. Neither was below stairs
when I came; for my Cousin Tom was in the cellar, and my Cousin Dolly in
the kitchen; and when I went into the Great Chamber it was all
untenanted. But the walls were hung all over with wreaths and holly: and
there were wax candles in the sconces all ready for lighting the next
day. But the parlour, where were the hangings of the Knights of the
Grail was even more pretty; for there were hung streamers across the
ceiling, from corner to corner, and a great bunch of mistletoe united
them at the centre.

As I was looking at this my Cousin Dolly ran in, her hands all over
flour; and as I saw her--"Here," I said to myself, "is the place where
it shall be done."

She could not touch me or kiss me, because of the flour; but she
permitted me to kiss her, my cold lips against her warm cheek; and her
eyes were as stars for merriment. There is something very strange and
mystical about Christmas, to me--(which I think is why the Puritans were
so savage against it)--for I suppose that the time in which our Lord was
born as a little Child, makes children of us all, that we may understand
Him better.

"Well, you are come then!" said Dolly to me--"and we not ready for you."

"I am ready enough for home," said I. And she smiled very friendly at me
for that word.

"I am glad you call it that," said she.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was but a little dried fish and rice for supper that night, as it
was a fast day; but the supper of Christmas Eve is always a kind of
sacramental for me, when midnight mass is to follow. There was no
midnight mass for us that Christmas, nor any mass at all; though I
suppose it was celebrated as usual in the Ambassadors' chapels, and the
Queen's: yet the supper had yet that air of mystery and expectancy about
it.

"We are all to dance to-morrow night," said Dolly.

"So that is why the floor is cleared in the Great Chamber," I said.

She nodded at me. She looked more of a child than I had ever seen her.

"Will you dance with me, Dolly?" I asked.

"Yes," she said, "but my first is with my father."

I told them presently, though it was but a melancholy tale for Christmas
Eve, of my Lord Stafford's trial, and all that I had seen there; and of
the supper last night in Whitehall.

"My Lord is to be beheaded in five days," I said. "We must pray for his
soul. He will die as bravely as he has lived; I make no doubt."

"And you have no doubt of his innocence?" asked Cousin Tom.

I stared on him.

"Why no," I said, "nor any man, except those paid to believe his guilt."

He pressed me to tell him more of what I had seen in London; and whether
I had seen the Duke of Monmouth again.

"He is in Holland," I said, "under His Majesty's displeasure. But I saw
Her Grace of Portsmouth."

"Why, that is his friend, is it not?" asked Tom.

"Yes," I said, "and a poor friend to his father and the Duke of York."

       *       *       *       *       *

The next night was a very merry one.

We had dined at noon as usual: and that was pretty merry too; for all
the servants dined with us, and the men from the farm and their wives.
It was sad to have had no mass at all; and all that we had instead of it
was the sound of the bells from Hormead, from the church that had been
our own a hundred and fifty years ago--which was worse than nothing. At
dinner we observed the usual ceremonial, with the drinking of healths
and the burning of candles; and Dolly and her father and her maid sang a
grace at the beginning and end--with a carol or two afterwards that was
a surprise to me. It was very homely and friendly and Christian; and I
saw my man James with his arm around one of the dairymaids--which is
pretty Christian too, I think. We kept it up till it was near time to
get supper ready, telling of stories all the while about the fire in the
old way. Some of them were poor enough; but some were good. Dick, the
cow-man, whom we had long suspected of poaching, exposed himself very
sadly, when the ale was in him, by relating a number of poaching tricks
I had never heard before. One was of how to catch stares, or shepsters,
when they fly up and down, as they do before lodging in a thicket. Then
you must turn out, said Dick, a quick stare with a limed thread of three
yards long, when she will fly straight to the rest, and, flocking among
them, will infallibly bring down at least one or two, and perhaps five
or six, all entangled in her thread. And another was how to take wild
ducks. Go into the water, said he, up to the neck, with a pumpkin put
over your head, and whilst the ducks come up to eat the seeds, you may
take them by the legs and pull them under quietly, one by one, till they
be drowned. But I would not like to do that in cold weather; and indeed
it seems to me altogether like that other method by which you take larks
by a-putting of salt upon their tails. I asked Dick, very serious,
whether he had tried that plan; and he said he had not, but that a
friend had told him of it; and the company became very merry.

There were other tales too, more grave than these, of sacrilege, and
suchlike. One, which my man James told, was of a man who took an altar
stone from an old church, to press cheeses with; but the cheeses ran
blood; so they took it from that and put it in the laundry to bat the
linen on. But at night, such a sound of batting was heard continually
from the laundry--and no one there--that the man took it back again to
the church, and buried it in the churchyard. And another was of two men
who had thrown down a village-cross upon a bowling-green; and when one
of them next day tried to move it from there, for the playing--he being
a very strong man, and lifting it on end--it fell upon him, backwards,
and crushed his breast, so that he never spoke again. And there were
many tales told of church-lands; and how my Lord Strafford, that was
beheaded, before his death told his son to get rid of them all, for that
they brought a curse always upon them that held them. And there was
another story told at the end by a man from the farm who had been in
London at the time, and had seen it for himself--how my Lords
Castlehaven and Arran, in St. James' Park, did, for a wager, kill a
strong buck in His Majesty's presence, by running on foot, and each with
a knife only. They took nearly three hours to do it in, but the wager
was for six, so they won that. They killed him at last in Rosamund's
Pond, having driven him in there with stones. I could well believe this
latter tale, and that the thing had been done in the king's presence,
having seen what I had at supper two nights before.

       *       *       *       *       *

When we came into the Great Chamber after supper all was ready for the
dancing; and Mr. Thompson, who was the Hormead schoolmaster, and a
concealed Catholic--though he went to the church with the children and
did teach them their religion, for his living--was at the spinet to
which we were to dance. There was a fellow also to play the fiddle, and
another for a horn.

The dancing was very pretty to see; and we did a great number, beginning
as the custom is, with country dances; and it was in the first of these
that my Cousin Dolly did dance with her father, and I with Dolly's maid.
We were all dressed too, not indeed in our best, but in our second
best--with silk stockings, and the farm men and the maids were in
their Sunday clothes. But each one had put on something for the
occasion; one had a pair of buckled shoes of a hundred years old, and
another an old ring. My Cousin Tom and I wore our own hair, and no
periwigs. My Cousin Dolly was very pretty in her grey sarcenet, with her
little pearls, and her hair dressed in a new fashion.

It was all very sweet to me, for it was so natural and without
affectation; and it all might have been a hundred years ago before the
old customs went out and the new came in from France, in which men pay
dancers to dance, instead of doing it for themselves. The room was very
well decked, and the candles lighted all round the walls; and when some
of the greenery fell down and was trodden underfoot, the smell of it was
very pleasant. A little fire was on the hearth--not great, lest we
should be too hot.

We danced country dances first, as I have said; and then my Cousin Dolly
shewed us one or two town dances, and I danced a sarabande in her
company; but then as the rest of the folk liked the country dances the
best, we went back to these.

Presently I saw my Cousin Dolly go out, and went after her to ask if she
needed anything.

"No," said she, "only to get cool again."

"Come into the parlour," said I; and made her come with me. This too had
a couple of candles burning over the hearth, and a little fire, for any
who wished to come in; but it was empty, for even my Cousin Tom was
disporting himself next door in a round dance that had but just begun.

Then it was that all my resolution came to a point; for all
circumstances looked that way--my determination to speak, the blessed
time of Christmas, the extraordinary kindness of Dolly to me all day,
and the very place empty, yet lighted and waiting, as if by design.

For a moment after she had sat down on one side of the hearth, and I on
the other, I could not speak; for I seemed to myself all shaking, and
again she looked such a child, with her pale cheeks flushed with the
exercise, and her eyes alight with merriment. All went before me in that
moment--my old thought that I was to be a monk, my leaving the
novitiate, my mission from Rome, such as it was, and the work I had been
able to do for the King. To all this I must say good-bye; and yet this
price I should pay seemed to me scarcely to be considered as weighed
against this little maid. So it went by me like a picture, and was gone,
and I looked up.

There was that in my air, I suppose, and the way I looked at her, that
told her what my meaning was; for before I had spoken even a syllable
she was on her feet again, and the flush was stricken from her face.

"Oh! no! Cousin Roger," she cried. "No, no, Cousin Roger!

"It is Yes, Yes, Cousin Dolly," said I. "Or at least I hope so." (I said
this with more assurance than I shewed, for if I was sure of anything it
was that she loved me in return. And I stood up and leaned on the
chimney-breast.)

She stood there, staring on me; and the flush crept back.

"What have I said?" she whispered.

"You need say nothing more, my dear, except what I bid you. My dear
love, you have guessed just what it was that I had to say. Sit down
again, if you please, Cousin, while I tell you."

As I looked at her, a very curious change came across her face. I saw it
at once, but I did not think upon it till afterwards. She had been a
very child just now, in her terror that I should speak--just that
terror, I should suppose, that every maid must have when a man first
speaks to her of love. Yet, as I looked, that terror went from her face,
and her wide eyes narrowed a little as she brought down her brows, and
her parted lips closed. It was, I thought, just that she had conquered
herself, and set herself to hear what I had to say, before answering me
as I wished. She moved very slowly back to her chair, and sat down,
crossing her hands on her lap. That was all that I thought it was, so
little did I know women's hearts, and least of all hers.

I remained yet a moment longer, leaning my forehead on my hand, and my
hand flat upon the tapestry, staring into the red logs, and considering
how to say what I had to say with the least alarm to her. I felt--though
I am ashamed to say it--as it were something of condescension towards
her. I knew that it was a good match for her, for had not her father
drilled that into me by a hundred looks and hints? I knew that I was
something considerable, and like to be more so, and that I was
sacrificing a good deal for her sake. And then a kind of tenderness
came over me as I thought how courageous she was, and good and simple,
and I put these other thoughts away, and turned to her where she sat
with the firelight on her chin and brows and hair, very rigid and still.

"Dolly, my dear," I said, "I think you know what I have to say to you.
It is that I love you very dearly, as you must have seen--"

She made a little quick movement as if to speak.

"Wait, cousin," I said, "till I have done. I tell you that I love you
very dearly, and honor you, and can never forget what you did for me.
And I am a man of a very considerable estate and a Catholic; so there is
nothing to think of in that respect. And your father too will be
pleased, I know; and we are--"

Again she made that little quick movement; and I stopped.

"Well, my dear?"

She looked up at me very quietly.

"Well, Cousin Roger; and what then?"

That confused me a little; for I had thought that she had understood.
And then I thought that perhaps she too was confused.

"Why, my dear," I said very patiently as I thought, as one would speak
to a child, "I am asking you if you will be my wife."

I turned away from the fire altogether, and faced her, thinking I should
have her in my arms. But at first she said nothing at all, but sat
immovable, scrutinizing me, I thought, as if to read all that was in my
head and heart. But it was all new to me, for what did I know of love
except that it was very strange and sweet? So I waited for her answer.
That answer came.

"Cousin Roger," she said in a very low voice, "I am very sorry you have
spoken as you have--"

I straightened myself suddenly and looked at her more closely. She had
not moved at all, except her face. A kind of roaring murmur began to
fill my ears.

"Because," said she--and every word of hers now was pain to
me--"because there is but one answer that I can give, which is No."

"Why--" cried I.

"You have spoken very kindly and generously. But--" and at this her
voice began to ring a little--"but I am not what you think me--a maid to
be flung at the head of any man who will choose to take her."

"Cousin!" cried I; and then she was on her feet too, her face all
ablaze.

"Yes, Cousin!" cried she; "and never any more than that. You have acted
very well, Cousin Roger; and I thank you for that compliment--that you
thought it worth while to play the part--and for your great kindness to
a poor country maid. I had thought it to be all over long ago--before
you went away; or I would not have behaved as I have. But since you have
considered it again carefully, and chosen to--to insult me after all; I
have no answer at all to give, except No, a thousand times over."

"Why, Cousin--" I began again.

She stamped her foot. I could not have imagined she could be so angry.

"Wait till I have done," she said--"I do not know what my father thinks
of me; but I suppose that you and he have designed all this; and led me
on to make a fool of myself--Oh! Let me go! let me go!"

Oh! the triple fool that I was! Yet who had ever taught me the ways of
love, or what women mean, or what their hearts are like? If I had been
one half the man that I thought myself, I would have seized her there,
and forced back her foolishness with kisses, and vowed that, conspirator
or not, she must have me; that we knew one another too well to play
false coin like this. Or I should have blazed at her in return; and told
her that she lied in thinking I was as base as that. Why, I should have
just borne myself like a lover to whom love is all, and dignity and
wounded pride nothing; for what else is there but love, sacred or
profane, in the whole world that God has made? If I had done that! If
only I had done that then! But I suppose that I was no lover then.

So I drew back, smarting and wounded; and let her go by; and a minute
later I heard the door of her chamber slam behind her, and the key turn.

       *       *       *       *       *

For myself I went out very slowly, five minutes after, and upstairs to
my own chamber, and began to consider what things I must take with me on
the morrow; for I would not stay another day in the house where I had
been so insulted and denied.



CHAPTER VIII


Pride is a very good salve, when one has no humility; and it was Pride
that I applied to myself to heal the wounds I had.

I came down again to the Great Chamber, half an hour later, very cold
and dignified, and danced again, like the solemn fool that I was, first
with one and then with another; and all the while I told myself, like
the prophet that "I did well to be angry"; and that I would shew her
that no man, of my ability, could depend upon any mere woman for his
content. Yet the pain at my heart was miserable.

It is very near incredible to me now how I, who truly knew something of
the world, and of men and of affairs, could be so childish and ignorant
in a matter of this sort. In truth this was what I was; I knew nothing
of true love at all; how therefore should I be a proper lover? I saw my
Cousin Tom, who mopped himself a great deal, eyeing me now and again;
and he presently came up and asked me where Dolly was.

"In her chamber, I think," said I, with my nose in the air; and with
such a manner that he said no more.

It was enough to break my heart to continue dancing; but it was the task
I had set myself upstairs; and till near ten o'clock we continued to
dance--but no Dolly to help us. I had even determined how I should bear
myself if she came--and how superb should be my dignity; but she did not
come to see it. We ended with singing "Here's a health unto His
Majesty"; and I took care that my voice should be loud so that she
should hear it. (I had even, poor fool that I was! walked heavily past
her chamber-door just now, that she might hear me go.)

When all were gone away at last, I waited for my Cousin Tom, and then
went with him into the parlour; where I told him very briefly all that
had passed, with the same dignity that I had set myself to preserve. I
even spoke in a high sort of voice, to shew my self-command and
detachment. My Cousin Tom appeared as if thunderstruck.

"Good God!" said he. "The minx! to behave like that!"

"It is no longer any concern of mine," I said. "For myself I shall go
back to town to-morrow."

"But--" began he.

"My dear Cousin," I said, "it is the only thing that I can do--to set to
work again. Mistress Dorothy must recover herself alone. I could not
expect her to tolerate such a personage as I must appear in her eyes."

"But you will came back again," said Tom. "And I'll talk to the chit as
she deserves."

I preserved my lofty attitude.

"That again," said I, "is no concern of mine. And as for coming back,
when Mistress Dorothy has found her a husband whom she can respect--we
may perhaps consider it."

He sat very silent for a while after that; and I know now, though I did
not know then, what was the design he was considering--at least I
suppose it was then that he saw it clear before him. At the time I
thought he was giving his attention to myself; and I wondered a little
that he did not press me again to stay, though I would not have done so.

It was a very desolate morning when I awakened next day, and knew what
had happened, and that I must go away again from the house I had learned
so much to love; but there was no help for it; and, as I put on my
clothes, I put on my pride with them; and came down very cold and
haughty to get my "morning" as we called it, in the dining-room before
riding; and there in the dining-room was my Cousin Dolly, whom I had
thought to be in her chamber, as the door was shut when I came past it.

We bade one another good morning very courteously indeed; but we gave no
other salute to one another. She knew last night that I was going, as my
Cousin Tom had told her maid to tell her; and I was surprised that she
was there. Presently I had an explanation of it.

"Cousin Roger," said she, "I was very angry last night; and I wished to
tell you I was sorry for that, and for the hard words I used, before you
went away."

I bowed my head very dignifiedly.

"And I, too," I said, "must ask your pardon for so taking you by
surprise. I thought--" and then I ceased.

She had looked a little white and tired, I thought; but she flushed
again with anger when I said that.

"You thought it would be no surprise," she said.

"I did not say so, Cousin," said I. "You have no right to interpret--"

"But you thought it."

I drank my ale.

"Oh! what you must think of me!" she cried in a sudden passion; and ran
out of the room.

       *       *       *       *       *

I think that was the most disconsolate journey I have ever taken. It was
a cold morning, with a fine rain falling: my man James was disconsolate
too (and I remembered the dairy-maid, when I saw it), and I was leaving
the one place I had begun to think of as my home, and her who had so
much made it home to me. I had not even seen her again before I went;
and our last words had been of anger; and of that chopping kind of
argument that satisfies no one.

I tried to distract myself with other thoughts--of what I was going
to; for I had determined to go straight to Whitehall and ask for some
employment; yet back and back again came the memories, and little scenes
of the house, and the appearance of the Great Chamber when it was all
lit up, and of the figure of that little maid who had so angered me, and
the way she carried her head, and the turns of her hand--and how happy
we all were yesterday about this time. However, I need not enlarge upon
that. Those that have ever so suffered will know what I thought, without
more words; and those who have not suffered would not understand, though
I used ten thousand. And every step of all the way to London, which we
reached about six o'clock, spoke to me of her with whom I had once
ridden along it. As we came up into Covent Garden I turned to my man
James and gave him more confidence than I had ever given to him
before--for I think that he knew what had happened.

"James," said I, "this is a very poor home-coming; but it is not my
fault."

       *       *       *       *       *

Though fortune so far had been against me, I must confess that it
favoured me a little better afterwards, for when I went in to Mr.
Chiffinch's on the next morning, he gave me the very news that I wished
to hear.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "you are the very man I most wished to see.
There is a great pother in France again. I do not know all the ins and
outs of the affair; but His Majesty is very anxious. He spoke of you
only this morning, Mr. Mallock."

My heart quickened a little. In spite of my pain it was a pleasure to
hear that His Majesty had spoken of me; for I think my love to him was
very much more deep, in one way, though not in another, than even to
Dolly herself.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I, "I will be very plain with you. I have had a
disappointment; and I came back to town--"

He whistled, with a witty look.

"The pretty cousin?" he said.

I could not afford to quarrel with him, but I could keep my dignity.

"That is my affair, Mr. Chiffinch. However--there is the fact. I am come
to town for this very purpose--to beg for something to do. Will His
Majesty see me?"

He looked at me for an instant; then he thought better, I think, of any
further rallying.

"Why I am sure he will. But it will not be for a few days, yet. There is
a hundred businesses at Christmas. Can you employ yourself till then?"

"I can kick my heels, I suppose," said I, "as well as any man."

"That will do very well," said Mr. Chiffinch. "But I warn you, that I
think it will be a long affair. His Majesty hath entangled himself
terribly, and Monsieur Barillon is furious."

"The longer the better," said I.

On the twenty-ninth I went down to see my Lord Stafford die. I was in so
distracted a mood that I must see something, or go mad; for I had heard
that it would not be until the evening of that day that His Majesty
would see me, and that I must be ready to ride for Dover on the next
morning. Mr. Chiffinch had told me enough to shew that the business
would be yet more subtle and delicate than the last; and that I might
expect some very considerable recognition if I carried it through
rightly. I longed to be at it. One half of my longing came from the
desire to occupy my mind with something better than my poor bungled
love-affairs; and the other half from a frantic kind of determination to
shew my Mistress Dolly that I was better than she thought me; and that I
was man enough to attend to my affairs and carry them out competently,
even if I were not man enough to marry her. It must be understood that I
shewed no signs of this to anyone, and scarcely allowed it even to
myself; but speaking with that honesty which I have endeavoured to
preserve throughout all these memoirs, I am bound to say that my mind
was in very much that condition of childish anger and resentment. I had
a name as a strong man: God only knew how weak I was; for I did not even
know it myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

There was a great crowd on Tower Hill to see my Lord Stafford's
execution; for not only was he well known, although, as I have said, not
greatly beloved; but the rumours were got about--and that they were true
enough I knew from Mr. Chiffinch--that he had said very strange things
about my Lord Shaftesbury, and how he could save his own life if he
willed, not by confessing anything of which he himself had been accused,
but by relating certain matters in which my Lord Shaftesbury was
concerned. However, he did not; yet the tale had gone about that perhaps
he would; and that a reprieve might come even upon the scaffold itself.

When I came to Tower Hill on horseback, about nine o'clock, the crowd
covered the most of it; but I drove my horse through a little, so that
I could have a fair sight both of the scaffold, and of the way, kept
clear by soldiers, along which the prisoner must come.

I had not been there above a few minutes, when a company went by, and in
the midst the two sheriffs, on horseback, whose business it was to carry
through the execution; and they drew up outside the gate, to preserve
the liberties of the Tower. While they were waiting, I watched those
that were upon the scaffold--two writers to take down all that was said;
and the headsman with his axe in a cloth--but this he presently
uncovered--and the block which he laid down upon the black baize put
ready for it, and for the prisoner to lie down upon. Then the coffin was
put up behind, with but the two letters W.S. as I heard afterwards: and
the year 1680.

Then, as a murmur broke out in the crowd, I turned; and there was my
Lord coming along, walking with a staff, between his guards, with the
sheriffs--of whom Mr. Cornish was one and Mr. Bethell the other--and the
rest following after.

When my Lord was come up on the scaffold, the headsman had gone again;
but he asked for him and gave him some money at which the man seemed
very discontented, whereupon he gave him some more. It is a very curious
custom this--but I think it is that the headsman may strike straight,
and not make a botch of it.

When my Lord turned again I could see his face very plainly. He wore a
peruke, and his hat upon that. He was in a dark suit, plain but rich;
and had rings upon his fingers, which I could see as he spoke. He was
wonderfully upright for a man of his age; and his face shewed no
perturbation at all, though it was more fallen than I had thought.

He read all his speech, very clearly, from a paper he took out of his
pocket; but as he delivered copies of it to the Sheriffs and the
writers--(and it was put in print, too, on the very same day by two
o'clock)--I need not give it here. He declared his innocence most
emphatically; calling God to witness; and he thanked God that his death
was come on him in such a way that he could prepare himself well for
eternity; but he did not thank the King for remitting the penalties of
treason, as he might have done. He made no great references, as was
expected that he would, to disclosures that he might have made; but only
in general terms. He denied most strongly that it was any part of the
Catholic Religion to give or receive indulgences for murder or for any
other sin; and he ended by committing his soul into the hands of Jesus
Christ, by whose merits and passion he hoped to be saved. His voice was
thin, but very clear for so old a man; and the crowd listened to him
with respect and attention. I think all those Catholic deaths and the
speeches that the prisoners make will by and by begin to affect public
opinion, and lead men to reflect that those who stand in the immediate
presence of God, are not likely, one after another, to go before Him
with lies upon their lips.

When he was done he distributed the copies of his speech, and then
presently kneeled down, and read a prayer or two. They were in Latin,
but I could not hear the words distinctly.

When he rose up again, all observing him, he went to the rail and spoke
aloud.

"God bless you, gentlemen!" he said. "God preserve His Majesty; he is as
good a prince as ever governed you; obey him as faithfully as I have
done, and God bless you all, gentlemen!"

It was very affecting to hear him speak so, for he did it very
emphatically; but even then one of their ministers that was on the
scaffold would not let him be.

"Sir," he asked, speaking loud all across the scaffold, "do you disown
the indulgences of the Romish Church?"

My Lord turned round suddenly in a great passion.

"Sir!" he cried. "What have you to do with my religion? However, I do
say that the Church of Rome allows no indulgences for murder, lying and
the like; and whatever I have said is true."

"What!" cried the minister. "Have you received no absolution?"

"I have received none at all," said my Lord, more quietly; meaning of
the kind that the minister meant, for I have no doubt at all that he
made his confession in the Tower.

"You said that you never saw those witnesses?" asked the minister, who,
I think, must have been a little uneasy.

"I never saw any of them," said my Lord, "but Dugdale; and that was at a
time when I spoke to him about a foot-boy." (This was at Tixall, when
Dugdale was bailiff there to my Lord Aston.)

They let him alone after that; and he immediately began to prepare
himself for death. First he took off his watch and his rings, and gave
them to two or three of his friends who were on the scaffold with him.
Then he took his staff which was against the rail, and gave that too;
and last his crucifix, which he took, with its chain, from around his
neck.

His man then came up to him, and very respectfully helped him off with
his peruke first, and then his coat, laying them one on the other in a
corner. My Lord's head looked very thin and shrunken when that was done,
as it were a bird's head. Then his man came up again with a black silk
cap to put his hair under, which was rather long and very grey and thin;
and he did it. And then his man disposed his waistcoat and shirt,
pulling them down and turning them back a little.

Then my Lord looked this way and that for an instant; and then went
forward to the black baize, and kneeled on it, with his man's help, and
then laid himself down flat, putting his chin over the block which was
not above five or six inches high.

Yet no one moved--and the headsman stood waiting in a corner, with his
axe. One of the sheriffs--Mr. Cornish, I think it was--said something to
the headsman; but I could not hear what it was; and then I saw my Lord
kneel upright again, and then stand up. I think he was a little deaf,
and had not heard what was said.

"Why, what do you want?" he said.

"What sign will you give?" asked Mr. Cornish.

"No sign at all. Take your own time. God's will be done," said my Lord;
and again applied himself to the block, his man helping him as before,
and then standing back.

"I hope you forgive me," said the headsman, before he was down.

"I do," said my Lord; and that was the last word that he spoke; for the
headsman immediately stepped up, so soon as he was down, and with one
blow cut his head all off, except a bit of skin, which he cut through
with his knife.

Then he lifted up the head, and carried it to the four sides of the
scaffold by the hair, crying:

"Here is the head of a traitor," as the custom was. My Lord's face
looked very peaceful.

       *       *       *       *       *

I rode home again alone, thinking of what I had seen, and the innocent
blood that was being shed, and wondering whether this might not be the
last shed for that miserable falsehood. But even after that sight, the
thought of my Cousin Dorothy was never very far away; and before I was
home again I was once more thinking of her more than of that from which
I was just come, or of that to which I was going, for I was to see His
Majesty that evening and so to France next day.



PART III



CHAPTER I


It was on a very stormy evening, ten months later, that I rode again
into London, on my way from Rome and Paris.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now, here again, I must omit altogether, except on one or two very
general points, all that had passed since I had gone away on the day
after my Lord Stafford's execution on Tower Hill. It is enough to say
that I had done my business in Paris very much to His Majesty's
satisfaction, as well as to that of others; and that M. Barillon himself
had urged me to stay there altogether, saying that I could make a career
for myself there (as the Romans say), such as I could never make in
England. But I would not, though I must confess that I was very much
tempted to it; and I know now, though I did not know it altogether then,
that there were just two things that prevented me--and these were that
His Majesty and my Cousin Dorothy were in England and not France.

Of my Cousin Dorothy I had heard scarcely anything at all; for the last
letter I had had from Hare Street was at Eastertide; and Tom said not
very much about his daughter, except that she was pretty well; and that
he thought of taking her to town in the summer for a little. The rest of
his letter was, two-thirds of it all about Hare Street and the lambs and
how the fruit promised; and one-third of the affairs of the kingdom.

These affairs, of which I learned from other sources besides my Cousin
Tom, were, in brief, as follows.

His Majesty, for the first time, since he had come to the throne, had
shewn an extraordinary open courage in dealing with the country-party.
(I must confess that my success in France was not wholly without
connection with this. He was so much strengthened in French affairs that
he felt, I suppose, that he could act more strongly at home.)

First, in January, he had dissolved the Parliament that had threatened
the exclusion of the Duke of York, and that would vote him no money till
he would yield. First he prorogued it, though there was a great clamour
in his very presence; and then he dissolved it, coming in so early in
the morning that none suspected his design.

Then he summoned a new Parliament to meet at Oxford: for at Oxford he
knew he would have the support of the city, whereas at London he had
not. That Parliament at Oxford will never be forgotten, I think; for it
was more like an armed camp than a Parliament. Both parties went armed.
My Lord Shaftesbury, in order to rouse the feeling on his side, went
there in a borrowed coach without his liveries, as if he feared arrest
or even death. But His Majesty answered that by himself going with all
his guards about him, as if for the same reason. There were continual
brawls in the city, and duels too. The parties went about like companies
of cats and dogs, snarling and spitting at one another continually; and
so fierce was the feeling that nothing could be done. My Lord
Shaftesbury's creatures were still strong enough to hold their own; and
at last His Majesty did the bravest thing he had ever done. He caused a
sedan-chair to be brought privately to his lodgings, and his crown and
robes to be put in there. Then he went in himself, and away to where the
House of Lords was sitting, and before anyone could utter a word, he
dissolved the Parliament once more, and altogether, and never again
summoned another.

But that was not all.

First, it appeared as if even His Majesty himself was frightened at what
he had done, for he allowed my Lord Archbishop of Armagh, Dr. Oliver
Plunket, to be convicted and executed in London, clean contrary to all
evidence or right or justice--just because he was a Papist, and the
popular cry had been raised against him that he was conspiring to bring
the French over to Ireland, whereas he was a good and kindly old man,
who lived in the greatest simplicity and neither did nor designed harm
to any living creature. (I do not know whether it was the name _France_
that frightened the King; but certainly at that time I was engaged on
his behalf in some transactions with that country which would have
ruined him had they ever been known.) But then he recovered himself,
after the sacrifice of one more Catholic, and did what he should have
done a great while ago, and caused my Lord Shaftesbury to be arrested
and sent to the Tower on a charge of fomenting insurrection, which was
precisely what my Lord had been doing for the last two years at least.

But His Majesty's scheme fell through; for the sheriffs, who were Whigs,
and on my Lord's side, therefore, packed the grand jury of the City and
acquitted him.

Then there was another affair of which I, in my business in France, saw
something of the other side. My negotiations were coming to a successful
end, when news came over to Paris that the Prince William of Orange was
in England, and made much of by His Majesty. This last was a lie; but I
wrote across to His Majesty of what a bad impression such a rumour made;
and urged him to make amends--which he did very handsomely. The Duke of
Monmouth too was back again in London, and so was the Duke of York; so
the chess-pieces were all again for the present on the squares on which
the game had begun. It was also a little satisfaction to me to hear that
Her Grace of Portsmouth had urged the Duke of York's return; for I
thought myself not a little responsible for her change of face. Once
again, however, the Duke returned to finish affairs in Scotland, and
then came back to Court; and it was on his journey there that the
_Gloucester_ was wrecked, and His Royal Highness so nearly drowned.

The Duke of Monmouth however saw that affairs were moving against him;
so he determined on a very bold stroke; and, after returning to England
once more without His Majesty's leave, went through all the country as
if on a royal progress; and it was astonishing how well he was received.
It was then that Mr. Chiffinch wrote to me at length, telling me of the
spies he had sent to follow the Duke everywhere, and asking whether I
would not come over myself to help in it. But I was just considering
whether I would not go to Rome; and, indeed, before I could make up my
mind, another letter came saying that the Duke was to be arrested, and
then let out on bail, and that he could do no more harm for the present.
So I went to Rome, and there I stayed a good while, reporting myself and
all that I had done, and being received very graciously by those who had
sent me.

Since then, not very much of public import had happened, until in the
first week in November I received in Paris a very urgent letter from Mr.
Chiffinch telling me to return at once; but no more in it than that.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a very stormy night, as I have said, when I rode in over London
Bridge to where the lights of the City shone over the water.

I was very content at my coming; for in spite of all my resolutions, it
was a terrible kind of happiness to me to be in the same country (and so
near to her, too) as was my Cousin Dorothy. I had striven to put her out
of my head, I had occupied myself with that which is the greatest of all
sports--and that is the game that Kings play in secret--I had become
something of a personage, and rode now with four servants, instead of
one. Yet never could I forget her. But I was resolved to play no more
with such nonsense; to live altogether in London, and to send my men in
a day or two to get my things from Hare Street. It often appears to me
very strange, when I see some great man go by whose name is in all men's
mouths for some office he holds or for his great wealth or power, to
reflect that he has his secret interests as much as any, and is moved by
them far more deeply than by those public matters for which men think
that he cares. I was not yet a great personage, though I meant to be so;
and my name was in no men's mouths, for it was of the very essence of
what I did that it should not be; yet I was held in high consideration
by two kings. But for all that, as I turned westwards from London
Bridge, I looked northwards up Gracechurch Street, and longed to be
riding to Hare Street, rather than to Whitehall.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was strange, and yet very familiar too, to go up those stairs again,
all alone--(for I had sent my men on to Covent Garden, where I had taken
two sets of lodgings now, instead of one)--to tell the servant that Mr.
Chiffinch looked for me, and to be conducted by him straight through to
the private closet where he awaited me over his papers. I was in my
boots, all splashed, and very weary indeed. Yet I had learned, ever
since the day when His Majesty had found fault with me so long ago,
never to delay even by five minutes, when kings call.

"Well?" I said; as I came in.

"Well!" said he; and took me by the hands.

Now it may seem surprising that I could tolerate such a man as was Mr.
Chiffinch, still more that I should have become on such terms with him.
The truth is, that I regarded him as two men, and not one. On the one
side he was the spy, the servant, the panderer to the King's more
disgraceful secrets; on the other he was a man of an extraordinary
shrewdness, utterly devoted to His Majesty, and very competent indeed in
very considerable affairs. If ever the secret memoirs of Charles II. see
the light of day, Mr. Chiffinch will be honoured and admired, as well as
contemned.

"First sup;" he said. "I have all ready: and not one word till you are
done."

He took me through into a little dining-room that was opposite the
closet; and here was all that a hungry man might desire of cold meats
and wine. He had had it set out, he told me ever since five o'clock (for
I had sent to tell him I would be there that night).

While I ate he would say nothing at all of the business on hand; but
talked only of France and what I had done there. He told me the King was
very greatly pleased; and there were rewards if I wished them--or even a
title, though he was not sure of what kind, for I was a very young man.

"He vows you have done a thousand times more than the Duchess of
Portsmouth in all her time. But I would recommend you to take nothing.
It will not be forgotten, you may be sure. If you took anything now, it
would make you known, and ruin half your work. If you will take my
advice, Mr. Mallock, you will tell the King, Bye and bye; and have a
peerage when the time comes."

Now of course these thoughts had crossed my mind too: but it was more to
hear them from a man like this. I nodded at him but said nothing,
feigning that my mouth was full; for indeed I did not quite know what to
say. I need not say that the thought of my Cousin Dorothy came to me
again very forcibly. At least I should have shewn her what I could do.

When I was quite done, Mr. Chiffinch carried me back to the parlour; and
there, having locked the door, he told me what was wanted of me.

When he had done, I looked at him in astonishment. "You are as sure as
that?" I said.

"We are sure, beyond the very leastest doubt, that at last there is a
plot to kill the King. There are rumours and rumours. Well, these are of
the right kind. And we are convinced that my Lord Shaftesbury is behind
it, and my Lord Essex, and Mr. Sidney; and who else we do not know. My
men whom I sent to spy out how Monmouth was received in the country,
tell me the same. But the trouble is that we have no proof at all; and
cannot lay a finger on them. And there is only that way, that I told you
of, to find it out."

"That I should mix with them--feign to be one of them!" said I.

The man threw out his hands.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "I told the King you were too nice for it. He
said on the contrary that he was sure you would do it; that it was not a
matter of niceness, but of plot against counterplot."

"A pretty simile!" I said with some irony; for I confess I did not like
the idea; though I was far from sure I would not do it in the end.

"'If one army is besieging a castle or town,' said he, 'and mines
beneath the ground after nightfall secretly, is it underhand action to
do the same, and to countermine them?' But I said I was not sure what
you would think of it. You see, Mr. Mallock, I scarcely know a single
person who unites the qualities that you do. We must have a gentleman,
or he would never be accepted by them; and he must be a shrewd man too.
Well, I will not say we have no shrewd gentlemen: but what shrewd
gentlemen have we, think you, who are not perfectly known--and their
politics?"

"The Duchess of Portsmouth knows me," said I, beginning to hesitate.

"But she does not know one word of this affair; nor will they tell her.
She is far too loyal for that."

"But she will have told others what I am."

"It is not likely, Mr. Mallock. We must take our chance of it. Truly I
see no one for it but yourself. I would not have sent for you, if I had,
for you were very useful in France. But the difficulty is, you see, that
we can take no observable precautions. We have doubled the guards inside
the palace at night; but we dare not in the day; for if that were known,
they would suspect that we knew all, and would be on their guard. As it
is, they have no idea that we know anything."

"How do they mean to do it?"

"That again we do not know. If they can find a fanatic--and there are
plenty of the old Covenanting blood left--they might shoot His Majesty
as he sits at supper. Or they may drag him out of his coach one day, as
they did with Archbishop Sharpe. Or they might poison him. I have the
cook always to taste the dishes before they come into Hall; but who can
guard against so many avenues?"

       *       *       *       *       *

I sat considering; but I was so weary that I knew I could decide nothing
rightly. On the one side the thing appealed to me; for there was danger
in it, and what does a young man love like that? And there was a great
compliment in it for me--that I should be the one man they had for the
affair. Yet it did not sound to me very like work for a gentleman--to
feign to be a conspirator--to win confidence and then to betray it, in
however a good cause.

What astonished me most however was the thought that the country-party
had waxed as desperate as this. Certainly their tide was going down--as
I had heard in France; but I did not know it was gone so low as this.
And that they who had lied and perjured themselves over the Oates
falsehoods, and had used them, and had kept the people's suspicions
alive, and had professed such loyalty, and had been the cause of so much
bloodshedding--that these men should now, upon their side, enter upon
the very design that they had accused the Catholics of--this was very
nearly enough to decide me.

"Well," said I, "you must give me twenty-four hours to determine in. I
am drawn two ways. I do not know what to do."

"I can assure you," said the page eagerly, "that His Majesty would give
you almost anything you asked for--if you did this, and were
successful."

I pursed my lips up.

"Perhaps he would," I said. "But I do not know that I want very much."

"Then he would give you all the more."

I stood up to take my leave.

"Well, sir," I said, "I must go home again and to bed. I am tired out. I
will be with you again to-morrow at the same time."

He rose to take me to the outer door.

"You will not want to go to Hare Street this time," he said, smiling.

"To Hare Street!" I said. "Why should I go there?"

"Well--the pretty cousin!" said he.

I set my teeth. I did not like Mr. Chiffinch's familiarities.

"Well, then, why should I not go?" I asked.

"Why: she is here! Did you not know?"

"Here!--in London."

"Aye: in Whitehall. I saw her only yesterday."

"In Whitehall! What do you mean, Mr. Chiffinch?"

I suppose my face went white. I knew that my heart beat like a hammer.

"Why, what I say!" said he. "Why do you look like that, Mr. Mallock?"

"Tell me!" I cried. "Tell me this instant!"

"Why: she is Maid of Honour to Her Majesty. The Duchess of Portsmouth is
protecting her."

"Where is she?"

"Why--"

"_Where is she?_"

"She is with the rest, I suppose.... Mr. Mallock! Mr. Mallock! Where are
you going?"

But I was gone.



CHAPTER II


When I was out in the air I stopped short; and then remembering that Mr.
Chiffinch would be after me perhaps, and would try to prevent me, I went
on as quick as I could, turned a corner or two in that maze of passages,
and stopped again. As yet I had no idea as to what to do; my brain
burned with horror and fury; and I stood there in the dark, clenching my
hands again and again, with my whip in one of them. It was enough for me
that my Cousin Dolly was in that den of tigers and serpents that was
called the Court, and under the protection of the woman once called
Carwell. There was not one thought in my brain but this--all others were
gone, or were but as phantoms--the King, the Duke, Monmouth, the
Queen--they would be so many wicked ghosts, and no more--before me--and
I would go through them as through smoke, to tear her out of it.

I suppose that some species of sanity returned to me after a while, for
I found myself presently pacing up and down the terrace by the river,
and considering that this was a strange hour--eight o'clock at night, to
be searching out one of Her Majesty's ladies; and, after that, little by
little, persons and matters began to take their right proportions on
them again. I could not, I perceived, merely demand where Mistress
Jermyn lodged, beat down her door and carry her away with me safe to
Hare Street. Their Majesties of England still stood for something in
Whitehall, and so did reason and commonsense, and Dolly's own good name.
I began to perceive that matters were not so simple.

I do not think I reasoned at all as to her dangers there; but I was as
one who sees a flower on a dunghill. One does not argue about the
matter, or question whether it be smirched or not, nor how it got there.
Neither did I consider at all how my cousin came to be at Court, nor
whether any evil had yet come to her. I did not even consider that I did
not know whether she were but just come, or had been there a great
while. I considered only that she must be got out of it--and how to set
about it.

I might have stood and paced there till midnight, had not one of the
sentinels at the water-gate--placed there I suppose, as Mr. Chiffinch
had told me just now, as an additional security, after nightfall--stepped
out from his place and challenged me. I had had the word, of course, as I
came in; and I gave it him, and he was contented. But I was not. Here,
thought I, is my opportunity.

"Here," said I, "can you tell me where Mistress Dorothy Jermyn is
lodged?"

He was a young fellow, plainly from the country, as I saw, by his look
in the light of the lantern he had.

"No, sir," he said.

"Think again," I said. "She is under the protection of Her Grace of
Portsmouth. She is one of the Queen's ladies."

"Is she a little lady, sir--from the country--that came last month?"

"Yes," I said, feigning that I knew all about it, and trying to control
my voice. "That is she."

"Why, she is with the others, sir," he said.

"She is not with the Duchess then?"

"No, sir; I know she is not. There is no lady with the Duchess beside
her own. I was on my duty there last week."

This was something of a relief. At least she was not with that woman.

Now I knew where the Queen's Maids lodged. It was not an hundred yards
away, divided by a little passage-way from Her Majesty's apartment, and
adjoining the King's, with a wall between. There were five of these;
besides those who lodged with their families--but they changed so
continually that I could not be sure whether I knew any of them or not.
I had had a word or two once with Mademoiselle de la Garde; but she was
the only one I had ever spoken with; and besides, she might no longer be
there; and she was a great busybody too; and beyond her I knew only that
there was an old lady, whose name I had forgot, that was called
Governess to them all and played the part of duenna, except when she
could be bribed by green oysters and Spanish wine, not to play it. Such
fragments of gossip as that was all that I could remember; as well as
certain other gossip too, as to the life of these ladies, which I strove
to forget.

However, I could do nothing at that instant, but bid the man good-night,
and go up into the palace again with a brisk assured air, as if I knew
what I was about. A bell beat eight from the clock-tower, as I went.
Then when I had turned the corner to the left, I stopped again to reckon
up what I knew.

This did not come to very much. Her Majesty, I knew, was attended always
by two Maids of Honour at the least; and at this hour would be, very
likely, at cards with them, if there were no reception or entertainment.
If there were, then all would be there, and Dolly with them; and even in
that humour I did not think of forcing my way into Her Majesty's
presence and demanding my cousin. These receptions or parties or some
such thing, were at least twice or three times a week, if Her Majesty
were well. The reasonable thing to do, I confess, was to go home to
Covent Garden, quietly; and come again the next day and find out a
little; but there was very little reason in me. I was set but upon one
thing; and that was to see Dolly that night with my own eyes; and assure
myself that matters were, so far, well with her.

At the last I set out bravely, my legs carrying me along--as it appears
to me now--of their own accord: for I cannot say that I had formed any
design at all of what I should do; and there I found myself after a
minute or two of walking in the rain, at the door of the lodgings where
all the ladies that had not their families at Court lived together.
There were three steps up to the heavy oaken door that was studded over
with nails; and in the little window by the door a light was burning. I
had come by the sentinel that stood before the way up to the King's
lodgings, and had given him the word; but I saw that he was watching me,
and that I must shew no hesitation. I went therefore up the steps, as
bold as a lion, and knocked upon the oaken door.

I waited a full minute; but there was no answer; so I knocked again,
louder; and presently heard movements within, and the sound of the bolts
being drawn. Then the door opened, but only a little; and I saw an old
woman's face looking at me.

She said something; but I could not hear what it was.

"Is Mistress Jermyn within doors?" I asked.

The old face mumbled at me; but I could not hear a word. "Is Mistress
Jermyn within?" I asked again.

Once again the face mumbled at me; and then the door began to close.

This would never do; so I set my foot against it, suddenly all overcome
with impatience--(for I was in no mood to chop words)--and with the same
kind of fury that had seized me in Mr. Chiffinch's rooms. I saw red, as
the saying is; and it was not likely that a deaf old woman would stop
me. She fluttered the door passionately; and then, as I pushed on it,
she cried out. There was a great rattle of footsteps, and as I came into
the little paved entrance, a heavy bald fellow ran out of the room where
I had seen the light--(which was the porter's parlour)--in his
shirt-sleeves, very angry and hot-looking.

He looked at me, like a bull, with lowered head; and I saw that he
carried some weapon in his hand.

"Is Mistress Jermyn within doors?" I asked, putting on a high kind of
air.

"Who the devil are you?" said he.

I was not going to argue that point, for it was the weakest spot in my
assault. So I sat down on the stairs that rose straight up to the first
floor. (It was a little oak-panelled entrance that I was in, with a
single lamp burning in a socket on the wall.)

"You will first answer my question," I said. "Is Mistress Jermyn within
doors?"

Then he came at me, thinking, I suppose that my sitting down gave him
an advantage, and he lifted his weapon as he came. I had no time to draw
my own sword--which was besides, somewhere between my legs; but I rose
up, and, as I rose, struck out at his chin with all my force, with my
whole weight behind.

He staggered back against the doorway he had come out by; and the same
moment two things happened. The old woman screamed aloud; and Dolly
sprang suddenly out on to the head of the stairs, from a door that
opened there, full into the light of the lamp.

"Why-" cried she.

"Oh! there you are," I said bitterly. "Then Mistress Jermyn is within
doors."

Then I turned and went straight upstairs after her; and, as I went heard
the ring of running footsteps in the paved passage out of doors, and
knew that the guard was coming up. The fellow still leaned, dazed,
against the doorpost; and the old woman was pouring out scream after
scream.

I went after Dolly straight into the room from which she had come. It
was a little parlour, very richly furnished, with candles burning, and
curtains across the windows. It looked out towards the river, I suppose.
Dolly was standing, as pale as paper; but I could not tell--nor did I
greatly care--whether it were anger or terror. I think I must have
looked pretty frightening--(but then, she had spirit enough for
anything!)--for I was still in my splashed boots and disordered dress,
and as angry as I have ever been in my life. I could see she was not
dressed for Her Majesty; so I supposed--(and I proved to be right)--that
she was not in attendance this evening. It was better fortune than I
deserved, to find her so.

"Now," said I, "what are you doing here?"

(I spoke sharply and fiercely, as to a bad child. I was far too angry to
do otherwise. As I spoke, I heard the guard come in below; and a clamour
of voices break out. I knew that they would be up directly.)

"Now," I said again, "you have your choice! Will you give me up to the
guard; or will you hear what I have to say? You can send them away if
you will. You can say I am your cousin?"

She looked at me; but said nothing.

"Oh! I am not drunk," I said. "Now, you can--"

Then came a thunder of footsteps on the stairs; and I stopped. I knew I
had broken every law of the Court; I had behaved unpardonably. It would
mean the end of everything for me. But I would not, even now, have asked
pardon from God Almighty for what I had done.

Then Dolly, with a gesture, waved me aside; and confronted the serjeant
on the threshold.

"You can go," she said. "This is my cousin. I will arrange with them
below."

The man hesitated. Over his shoulder I could see a couple more faces,
glaring in at me.

Dolly stamped her foot.

"I tell you to go. Do you not hear me?"

"Mistress--" began the man.

"How dare you disobey me!" cried Dolly, all aflame with some emotion.
"This is my own parlour, is it not?"

He still looked doubtfully; and his eyes wandered from her to me, and
back again. He was yet just without the room. Then Dolly slammed to the
door, in a passion, in his very face.

Then she wheeled on me, like lightning. (I heard the men's footsteps
begin to go downstairs.)

"Now you will explain, if you please--" she began, with a furious kind
of bitterness.

"My maid," said I, "that kind of talk will not do with me"--(for at
her tone my anger blazed up higher even than hers). "It is I who have to
ask Why and How?"

"How dare you--" she began.

I went up without more ado, and took her by the shoulders. Never in all
the time I had known her, had the thought ever come to me, that one day
I might treat her so. She struggled violently, and seemed on the point
of crying out. Then she bit her lip; but there was no yielding in me;
and I compelled her backwards to a chair.

"You will sit there," I said. "And I shall stand. I will have no
nonsense at all."

She looked at me, I thought, with more hate than I had ever seen in
human eyes; glaring up at me with scorn and anger and resentment all
mingled.

"Yes--you can bully maids finely--" she said. "You can come and
cringe for their protection first--"

I laughed, very short and harsh.

"That manner is of no good at all--" I said. "You will answer my
questions. How did you come here? How long have you been here?"

She said nothing; but continued to look at me. Then again my anger rose
like a wave.

"Do you think to stare me down?" I said. "If you will not answer me,
I'll begone to those who will."

"You dare not!"

"Dare not! Do you think to frighten me?--Dolly, my dear, I am not in
the mood to argue. Will you tell me how you came here, and how long ago?
I must have an answer before I go."

For an instant she was silent.

"Will you go straight home again if I tell you?"

"Yes--I will promise that," said I--for now that I had seen her with
my own eyes most of what I desired was done. The rest could wait twelve
hours.

"Well, then," she said, "I have been here a month; and my father put me
here."

"Your father!"

"Yes, my father. Have you anything to say against him?"

"No: I will say it to him."

I wheeled about to go to the door.

"You have done enough mischief then, you think!" sneered Dolly.

I turned about again.

"Mischief!"

"Why, you have ruined my name," said Dolly, with the savage look in her
eyes still there. "But you did not think of that! You thought only of
yourself. The whole palace will know to-morrow that you beat down the
porter to force your way in. And it will not lose in the telling."

I had nothing to say to that. It was true enough, and the very kind of
talk with which the Court continually diverted itself. But I would not
show my dismay. Indeed the very thought of any trouble to her had no
more occurred to my mind than the consequences to a charging bull.

"We will see about that," I said, "when I speak with His Majesty."

Dolly laughed again, but without merriment.

"Oh! you will do this and that, no doubt," she said. "And when shall you
see His Majesty?"

I took out my watch.

"It is nearly nine," I said. "I shall see His Majesty in thirteen hours.
You had best be packing your valises. We shall ride at noon."

I waited no more to hear her laugh, as she did again; but went out and
down the staircase. The porter's chamber had its door half open: I
pushed the door and went in. The fellow started up.

"Here is a guinea," said I, throwing one upon the table; "and my
apologies. But 'twas you that began it!"

Then I turned and went out.

As I came down the steps into the little lamplit way, a man was coming
swiftly up it from the direction of the court, with one of the guards
behind him. I stopped short, thinking I was to be arrested. But it was
the page.

"Good God!" he said. "You have done finely indeed!"

I was still all shaking; and I simulated anger without any difficulty.

"And whose fault is that?" said I, as if in a fury. "Do you think--"

"And His Majesty may come by at any instant!" he said.

"Why; that is what I wish. In any case I must see him at ten o'clock
to-morrow."

"You are mad!" he said. "You had best begone to the country before dawn:
and even that will not save you." He looked over his shoulder at the
young man who had fetched him, and who now stood waiting.

"Save me! What have I done? I have but been to visit my cousin." (I said
this very loud, that the guard might hear.)

Again Mr. Chiffinch looked over his shoulder, and back again. I could
see the shine of lanterns where others waited behind. We were just
outside the King's lodging.

"Well, sir," he said. "But you will go now, will you not?"

"Why, yes," I said. "And I will be with you at half-past nine
to-morrow."

He beckoned the young soldier up.

"See this gentleman to the gate," he said. "He will find his way home,
after that."



CHAPTER III


I spent a very heavy evening before I went to bed; and when I was there
I could not sleep; for it appeared to me that I had made a great fool of
myself, having injured my own prospects and done no good to anyone. I
understood perfectly that I had acted in an unpardonable manner; for Her
Majesty's Maids of Honour were kept, or were supposed to be kept, in
very great seclusion at home, as if they were Vestal virgins--which was
indeed a very great supposition. Tale after tale came back to my mind of
those Maids in the past--of Mademoiselle de la Garde herself, of Miss
Stewart, Miss Hyde, Miss Hamilton, and others like them--some of whom
were indeed good, but had the greatest difficulty in remaining so; for
the Court of Charles was a terrible place for virtue. It was astonishing
to me that the horror of the place had not before this affected me; but
it is always so. We are very philosophical, always, over the wrongs that
do not touch ourselves.

As to how my Cousin Dolly came to be in such a place, I began to think
that I understood. It must all have dated from that unhappy visit of the
Duke of Monmouth to Hare Street; my Cousin Tom must have followed up
that strange introduction, and the affair must have been worked through
Her Grace of Portsmouth. I think I could have taken my Cousin Tom by the
throat, and choked him, as I thought of this.

Meantime I had no idea as to what I should do the next day--except,
indeed, see His Majesty, and say, perhaps, one tenth of what I felt. I
had told Dolly we should ride at noon next day; I was beginning to
wonder whether this prediction would be fulfilled. Yet, though I had
begun to consider myself more than in the first flush, I still felt my
anger rise in me like a tide whenever I regarded the bare facts. But
mere anger would never do; and I set myself to drive it down. Besides,
it would be there, I knew, and ready, if I should need it on the next
day.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I arrived at Mr. Chiffinch's the next morning, I found him in a
very grave mood. He did not rise as I came in, but nodded to me, only.

"Sit down, Mr. Mallock," said he. "This is a very serious affair."

"So I think," I said.

He waved that away.

"His Majesty hath heard every word of it, with embellishments. He is
very angry indeed. Nothing but what you have done for him lately could
have saved you; and even now I do not know--"

"Man," I said, "do not let us leave such talk as this. It is not I who
am in question--"

"I think you will find that it is," he answered me, with a quick look.

I strove to be patient, and, even more, to appear so.

"Well," I said, "what have I done? I am come back from France: I hear my
cousin is here; I go to see her; a fellow at the door is impertinent,
and I chastise him for it. Then I go upstairs to my cousin's parlour--"

"That is the point," he interrupted. "It is not your cousin's. It is the
lodging of the Maids of Honour."

Yes: he had me there. That was my weak point. But I would not let him
see that.

"How was I to understand that distinction? I knocked at the door as
peaceably as any man could."

"And after that," he said, smiling a little grimly, "after that, your
cousinly affection blinded you."

"Well, that will do," I said.

He smiled again.

"Well; that is your case," he observed. "We will see how His Majesty
regards it. For I must tell you, Mr. Mallock, that for five minutes last
night it was touch and go whether you were not to be arrested. And I
will tell you this too, that if you had not come this morning, you
would have been brought."

"As bad as that?" I said, laughing. (But I must confess that his gravity
dismayed me a little.)

"As bad as that," he said. "You must go to His Majesty at ten."

"As I arranged," I said.

"As His Majesty arranged," said Mr. Chiffinch, rising: "and it is close
upon the time."

And then he added, with the utmost gravity.

"If there is one thing His Sacred Majesty is touchy upon, it is the
reputation of the ladies of the Court. I would remember that, sir, if I
were you."

I observed a while ago that Pride is a good weapon if one has not
Humility. So is Anger a good weapon, if one has not Patience; and I do
not mean simulated Anger, but the passion itself, held in a leash, like
a dog, and loosed when the time comes. Now, so great was my feeling for
His Majesty, and that not only of an honest loyalty, but of a real kind
of respect that I had for his person and his parts--a real fear of
the very great strength of will that lay beneath his weakness--that I
understood that, unless my anger was fairly near the surface, I should
be beaten down when I came into his presence. So, as we went together
towards his lodgings, I looked to see that my anger was there, patted it
on the head so to say, and called it Good Dog: and was relieved to hear
it growl softly in answer.

Plainly we were expected; because the two guards at the door stood aside
as soon as they saw us, and one of them called out something to a man
above. There were two more at the door itself; and we went in.

As we came in at the door of the private closet, having had no answer to
our knock, His Majesty came in at the other with two dogs at his heels.
He paid no attention to me at all, and barely nodded at my companion.
Then he sat down to his table, and began to write; leaving us standing
there like a pair of schoolboys.

Again I stroked the head of my anger. I could see the King was very
seriously displeased; and that unless I could keep myself determined, he
would have the best of the interview; and that I was resolved he should
not have.

Suddenly he spoke, still writing.

"You can go, Chiffinch," said he. "Come back in half an hour."

He looked up for a flash and nodded; and I thought, God knows why, that
he had in mind the guards outside, and that they should be within call.
I knew precisely what my legal offence would be--that of brawling within
the precincts of the palace; and the penalties of this I did not care to
think about; for I was not sure enough what they were.

When the door closed behind Mr. Chiffinch I felt more alone than ever. I
regarded the King's dark face, turned down upon his paper; his dusky
ringed hand with the lace turned back; the blue-gemmed quill that he
used, his great plumed hat. I looked now and again, discreetly, round
the room, at the gorgeous carvings, the tall presses, the innumerable
clocks, the brightly polished windows with the river flowing beneath. I
felt very little and lonely. Then, in a flash, the memory came back that
not fifty yards away was Dolly's little parlour, and Dolly herself; and
my determination surged up once more.

Suddenly His Majesty threw down his pen.

"Mr. Mallock," he said very sternly, "there is only one excuse for
you--that you were drunk last night. Do you plead that?"

He was looking straight at me with savage melancholy eyes. I dropped my
own.

"No, Sir."

"You dare to say you were not drunk?"

"Yes, Sir."

His Majesty caught up an ivory knife and sat drawing it through his
fingers, still looking at me, I perceived; though I kept my eyes down. I
could see that he was violently impatient.

"Mr. Mallock," said he, "this is intolerable. You come back from France
where you have done me good service--I will never deny that--and you
win my gratitude; and then you fling it all away by a piece of
unpardonable behaviour. Are you aware of the penalties for such
behaviour as yours?--brawling in the Palace itself, knocking my men
down, forcing your way into the lodgings of Her Majesty's Ladies? Have
you anything to say as to why you should not go before the Green Cloth?"

A great surge of contradiction and defiance rose within me; but I choked
it down again. It was there if I should need it. The effort held me
steady and balanced.

"Do you hear me, sir?"

"Yes, Sir," said I.

"Well--what have you to say?"

He glanced past me towards the door; and I thought again that the guards
were in his mind.

"Sir; I have a very great deal to say. But I fear I should offend Your
Majesty."

The King jerked his head impatiently.

"It is of the nature of a defence?"

"Certainly, Sir."

"Say it then. You need one."

I raised my eyes and looked him in the face. He was frowning; and his
lips were moving. Evidently he was very angry; and yet he was perplexed,
too.

"Sir, this is precisely what took place. I returned from France last
night, where, as Your Majesty was good enough to remark, I was able to
be of some little service. Upon my return I heard from Mr. Chiffinch
that my 'pretty cousin' as he was kind enough to call her, was in
Whitehall, as one of Her Majesty's ladies. I went to see my cousin,
perhaps a little precipitately, but I went peaceably, first inquiring of
one of Your Majesty's guards where her lodgings were. I knocked,
peaceably, upon the door. An old woman opened to me, and would give me
no intelligible answer to my--peaceable--inquiry as to whether my
cousin were there. I prevented her closing the door in my face, but
peaceably; then a fellow ran out, and asked me who the devil I was.
Again, peaceably, I inquired for my cousin. I even sat down upon the
stairs. Then he made at me; and in self-defence I struck him once, with
my hand. My cousin looked out of a door, and I went up into what I
understood was her parlour. When the guard came, she sent them away,
telling them I was her cousin. The serjeant was impertinent to her; and
she shut the door in his face. I remained five minutes, or six, with my
cousin, and then went peaceably away, and to my lodgings. That is the
entire truth, Sir, from beginning to end."

The King laughed, very short and harsh.

"You put it admirably," he said. "You are a diplomat, indeed."

"That is my defence to Your Majesty; and it is perfectly true--neither
less nor more than the truth. But I am not only a diplomat."

He did not fully understand me, I think, for he looked at me sharply.

"Well?" he said. "What else?"

"I have another defence for the public--Sir--not so courteous to Your
Majesty."

He remained rigid an instant.

"Then for the public," he said, "you do not think the truth enough?"

"No, Sir; it is for Your Majesty that I think the truth too much."

"I will have it!" cried the King. "This moment!"

Interiorly I licked my lips, as a dog when he sees a bone. His Majesty
should have the truth now, with a vengeance. All was falling out exactly
as I had designed. He should not have kept me waiting so long; or I
might not have thought of it.

"Well, Sir," said I, "you will remember I should not have dared to say
it to Your Majesty, had I not been commanded."

He said nothing. Then, once more, I ruffled my growling dog's ears, so
that he snarled.

"First, Sir; to the public I should say: If this is counted brawling,
what of other scenes in Whitehall on which no charge was made? What of
the sun-dial, smashed all to fragments one night, in the Privy Garden,
by certain of the King's Gentlemen whom I could name? What of the broken
door-knockers--not only in the City, but upon certain doors in Whitehall
itself--broken, again by certain of the King's Gentlemen whom I could
name? What of a scene I viewed myself in the Banqueting Hall last
Christmastide in Your Majesty's presence, when a Spanish gentleman
received full in his face a bunch of raisins, from--"

"Ah!" snarled the King. "And you would say that to the public?"

"Sir--that is only the exordium "--(my voice was raised a little, I
think, for indeed I was raging again by now). "Next, I would observe
that Mistress Jermyn is my own cousin, and that the hour was eight
o'clock in the evening--not nine, if I may so far correct Your Majesty;
whereas very different hours are kept by some members of the Court, and
the ladies are not their cousins at all."

I had never seen the King so angry. He was unable to speak for fury. His
face paled to parchment-colour under his sallow skin, and his eyes
burned like coals. This time I lashed my anger, deliberately, instead of
tickling it merely.

"Sir; that is not nearly all; but I will miss out a few points, and come
to my peroration. My peroration would be after this fashion. Such, I
would say, is the charge against one who has been of service to His
Majesty; and such is the Court (as I have described) of that same King.
There is not a Court in Europe that has a Prince so noble as our own can
be, of better parts, or of higher ambitions, or of so pure a blood. And
there is no Prince who is served so poorly; no Court that so stinks in
the nostrils of God and man, as does his. He is capable," I cried (for
by now I was lost to all consideration for myself; my loyalty and love
for him had come to the aid of my anger; and I saw that never again
should I have such an opportunity of speaking my mind), "He is capable
of as great achievements, as any Prince that has gone before him; for he
has already won back the throne which his fathers lost. Would it be of
service, I would say, to such a Prince as this, to punish a man who
would lay down his life for him to give him even a moment's pleasure;
and to let go scot-free men and women who have never done anything but
injure him?"

I ceased; breathless, yet triumphing; for I knew that I had held His
Majesty with my words. How he would take it, when he recovered, I did
not know: nor did I greatly care. I had spoken my mind to him at last;
and what I had said was no more than my conviction. That blessed gift of
anger had done the rest: and, having done its work, retired again to
chaos; and left me clear-headed and master of myself.

When I looked at him he was motionless. He was still very pale, but the
terrible brightness of his eyes was gone.

Then he roused himself to sneer; but I did not care for that; for there
was no other way for him just then, consonant with his own dignity.

"Very admirably preached!" said he; "even if a trifle treasonous."

"I am pleased Your Majesty is satisfied," I said, with a little bow.

Then he broke down altogether, in the only way that he could; he gave a
great spirt of laughter; then he leaned back and laughed till the tears
ran down. Presently he was quieter.

"Oddsfish!" he cried, "this is a turning of tables indeed! I sent for
you, Mr. Mallock--"

The door opened softly behind me; and a man put his head in.

"Go away! go away!" cried the King. "Cannot you see I am being preached
to?"

The door closed again.

"I sent for you, Mr. Mallock, to reprimand you very severely. And
instead of that it is you who have held the whip. Little Ken is nothing
to it: you should have been a Bishop, Mr. Mallock."

Again he spirted with laughter. Then he drew himself up in his chair a
little; and became more grave.

"This is all very well," he said. "But I think I must get in my
reprimand, for all that. You will not be sent to the guard-room, or the
Green Cloth--(or whatever it is that would meet your case)--this time,
Mr. Mallock; I will deal with you myself. But it is a very serious
business, and your distinctions would not serve you in law. A sundial is
not so important as a Christian lady; and a bunch of raisins is not,
legally, a blow in the face. Still less are all the sundials and
Spaniards in the world, equal to one of Her Majesty's Maids of Honour.
You understand that?"

I bowed again; reminding myself that I was not done with him, even yet.

"Yes, Sir."

"Consider yourself reprimanded severely, Mr. Mallock."

I bowed; but I stood still.

"You have my leave--Oh! by the way, Mr. Mallock; there are just ten
words I must have with you on the French affairs."

He motioned to a seat.

"I may kiss the hand that has beaten me?" said I.

He laughed again. He was a very merry prince when he was in the mood.

"It should be the other way about, I should think," he said. But he gave
me his hand; and I sat down.

       *       *       *       *       *

All the while we were talking, still, with one-half of my mind I was
considering what was to be done next. It was a part, only, of my
business that had been done; yet how to accomplish the rest without
spoiling all? Presently His Majesty himself repeated that which Mr.
Chiffinch had already said to me; and spoke of some kind of recognition
that was due to me. That gave me my cue.

"Your Majesty is exceedingly kind," I said. "But I trust I am not to be
dismissed from the King's service? Mr. Chiffinch appeared to think--"

"Why, no," said he; "not even after all your crimes. Besides we have
something for you. Did he not tell you?"

"Any public recognition, Sir," I said, "would effectually do so. The
very small value that my services may have would wholly be lost, if they
were known in any way."

"Chiffinch said the same," observed the King meditatively. "But--"

"Sir," I said, "might I not have some private recognition instead? There
is a very particular favour I have in mind, which would be private
altogether; and which I would take as a complete discharge of that which
Your Majesty has been good enough to call a debt of the King's."

"Not money, man! Surely!" exclaimed the King in alarm.

"Not in the least, Sir; it will not cost the exchequer a farthing."

"Well, you shall have it then. You may be sure of that."

"Well, Sir," said I, "it is a serious matter. Your Majesty will dislike
it exceedingly."

He pursed his lips and looked at me sharply.

"Wait!" he said. "It will not affect my honour or--or my religion in
any way?"

I assumed an air of slight offence.

"Sir; I should not be likely to ask it, if it affected Your Majesty's
honour. And as for religion--" I stopped: for one more opening
presented itself which I dared not neglect. From both his manner and his
words I saw that religion was not very far from his thoughts.

"Well--sir," he said. "And what of religion?"

"Sir, I pray every day for Your Majesty's conversion--"

"Conversion, eh?"

"Conversion to the Holy Catholic Church, Sir. I would give my life for
that, ten times over."

"There! there! have done," said His Majesty, with a touch of uneasiness.

"But I would not ask a pledge, blindfold, Sir; even to save all those
ten lives of mine."

"One more than a cat, eh? Do you know, Mr. Mallock, you remind me
sometimes of a cat. You are so demure, and yet you can pounce and
scratch when the occasion comes."

"I would sooner it had been a little dog, Sir," I said, glancing at the
spaniels that were curled up together before the fire.

"Well--well; we are wandering," smiled the King. "Now what is this
favour?"

I supposed I must have looked very grave and serious; for before I could
speak he leaned forward.

"It is to count as a complete discharge, I understood you to say, Mr.
Mallock, for all obligations on my part. And there is no money in it?"

"Yes, Sir," said I. "And there is no money in it."

He must have seen I was serious.

"Well; I take you at your word, sir. I will grant it. Tell me what it
is."

He leaned back, looking at me curiously.

"Sir," I said, "it is now about half-past ten o'clock. What I ask is
that my cousin, Mistress Dorothy Jermyn, receives an immediate dismissal
from Her Majesty's service; and is ordered to leave London with me, for
her father's house, at noon."

His Majesty looked at me amazed. I think he did not know whether to be
angry, or to laugh.

"Well, sir," he said at last. "That is the maddest request I have ever
had. You mean what you say?"

"Certainly, Sir."

"Well: you must have it then. It is the queerest kindness I have ever
done. Why do you ask it? Eh?"

"Sir; you do not want my peroration over again!"

His face darkened.

"That is very like impudence, Mr. Mallock."

"I do not mean it for such, Sir. It is the naked truth."

"You think this is not a fitting place for her?"

"I am sure it is not, Sir," I said very earnestly, "nor for any
country-maid. Would Your Majesty think--"

He jerked his head impatiently.

"What my Majesty thinks is one thing; what I, Charles Stuart, do, is
another. Well: you must have it. There is no more to be said."

I think he expected me to stand up and take my leave. But I remained
still in my chair.

"Well; what else, sir?" he asked.

"Sir; it is near a quarter to eleven. I have not the order, yet."

"Bah! well--am I to write it then?"

"If Your Majesty will condescend."

"And what shall I say to the Queen? It is not very courteous to dismiss
a lady of hers so abruptly."

"Sir; tell Her Majesty it is a debt of honour."

He wheeled back to his table, took up a sheet and began to write. When
he had done he scattered the sand on it, and held it out to me, his
mouth twitching a little.

"Will that serve?" he said.

I have that paper still. It is written with five lines only, and a
signature. It runs as follows:

  "This is to command Mistress Dorothy Jermyn, late Maid
   of Honour to Her Majesty, now dismissed by the King,
   though through no fault of her own, to leave the Court at
   Whitehall at noon to-day, in company with her cousin Mr.
   Roger Mallock, and never to return thither without his consent.

"CHARLES R."

Then followed the date.

I had a criticism or two; but I dared not make them.

"That is more than I could have asked, Sir. I am under an eternal
obligation to Your Majesty."

"I daresay: but all mine are discharged to you, until you earn some
more. It might have meant a peerage, Mr. Mallock."

"I do not regret it, Sir," I said.

As I rose after kissing his hand, he said one more word to me.

"You are either a very wise man, or a fool, Mr. Mallock. And by God I
do not know which. But I do know you are a very brave one."

"I was a very angry one, Sir," said I.

"But you are appeased?"

"A thousand times, Sir."



CHAPTER IV


I knew I could never carry the matter through alone; so, upon leaving
the King's presence, I sought out Mr. Chiffinch immediately and told him
what had passed.

He whistled, loud.

"You are pretty fortunate," he said. "Many a man--"

"I have no time for compliments," said I. "You must come with me to my
cousin at once. We must ride at noon; and it is close upon eleven."

"You want me to plead for you, eh?"

"Not at all," said I. "There will be no pleading. It is to certify only
that this is the King's writing, and that he means what he says."

"Well, well," said Mr. Chiffinch. "And what of the matter I spoke to you
of last night? Have you decided? There is not much time to lose."

"You must give me a day or two," I said.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was he who knocked this time; and it was not until the old woman had
opened, and was curtseying to the King's page, that he called me up.

"Come, Mr. Mallock. Your cousin is within."

We went straight upstairs after the old lady; and upon her knock being
answered, she threw the door open.

My Cousin Dolly was sitting over her needle, all alone. She looked, I
thought, unusually pale; but she flushed scarlet, and sprang up, so soon
as she saw me.

"Good-day, Mistress Jermyn," said the page very courteously. "We are
come on a very sad errand--sad, that is, to those whom you will leave
behind."

"What do you mean, sir?" asked Dolly, very fiercely. She did not give me
one look, after the first.

He held out the paper to her. She took it, with fingers that shook a
little, and read it through at least twice.

"Is this an insult, sir; or a very poor pleasantry?" (Her face was gone
pale again.)

"It is neither, mistress. It is a very sober fact."

"This is the King's hand?" she snapped.

"It is," said Mr. Chiffinch.

"Dolly," said I, "I told you to be ready by noon; but you would not
believe me. I suppose your packing is not done?"

She paid me no more attention than if I had been a chair.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said she, "you tell me, upon your honour, that this is
the King's hand, and that he means what is written here?"

"I give you my honour, mistress," he said.

She tossed the paper upon the table; she went swiftly across to the
further door, and opened it.

"Anne!" she said.

A voice answered her from within.

"Put out my riding-dress. Pack all that you can, that I shall need in
the country. We have to ride at noon." She shut the door again, and
turned on us--or rather, upon Mr. Chiffinch.

"Sir," she said, "you have done your errand. Perhaps you will now
relieve me of your company. I shall be awaiting my cousin, Mr. Roger
Mallock, as the King requires, at noon."

"Dolly--" said I.

She continued, looking through me, as through glass.

"At noon: and I trust he will not keep me waiting."

There was no more to be done. We turned and went out.

"Lord! what a termagant is your pretty cousin, Mr. Mallock!" said my
companion when we were out of doors again. "You could have trusted her
well enough, I think."

I was not in the mood to discuss her with him; I had other things to
think of.

"Mr. Chiffinch," I said, "I am very much obliged to you; but I must be
off for my own packing." And I bade him good-day.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I rode into the court, five minutes before noon, a very piteous
little group awaited me by the inner gate. Dolly, very white and angry,
stood by the mounting-block, striving to preserve her dignity. Her maid
was behind her, arguing how the bags should be disposed on the
pack-horse, with the fellow who was to lead it. Dolly's own horse was
not yet come; but as I rode up to salute her, he came out of an archway
led by a groom.

I leapt off, and stood by the mounting-block to help her. Again it was
as if I were not there. She jerked her head to the man.

"Help me," she said.

He was in a quandary, for he could not leave the horse's head.

"I am very sorry, Dolly," said I, "but you will have to put up for me
for once. Come."

She gave a look of despair round about; but there was no help.

"It is on the stroke of noon," I said.

She submitted; but it was with the worst grace I have ever seen. She
accepted my ministrations; but it was as if I were a machine: not one
word did she speak, good or bad.

By the time that she was mounted, her maid was up too, and the bags
disposed.

"Come," I said again; and mounted my own horse.

As we rode out through the great gate, the Clock Tower beat the hour of
noon.

       *       *       *       *       *

I am weary of saying that my journeys were strange; but, certainly, this
was another of them.

       *       *       *       *       *

Through the narrow streets I made no attempt to ride beside her. In the
van went three of my men; then rode I; then, about ten yards behind,
came Dolly and her maid. Then came two pack-horses, led by a fellow who
controlled them both; and my fourth man closed the dismal cavalcade. So
we went through the streets--all the way down the Strand and into the
City, wheeled to the left, and so out by Bishopsgate. It was a clear
kind of day, without rain: but the clouds hung low, and I thought it
would rain before nightfall. I intended to do the whole journey in a
day; so as to be at Hare Street before midnight at least. A night on the
way, and Dolly's company at supper, all alone with me, or even with her
maid, appeared to me too formidable to face.

When we were out in the country, I reined my horse in. I saw a change
pass over Dolly's face; then it became like stone.

"We have a long ride, for one day," said I.

She made no answer. My anger rose a little.

"My Cousin," I said, "I had the honour to speak to you."

"I do not wish to have the dishonour of answering you," said Dolly.

It was a weakness on her part to answer at all; but I suppose she could
not resist the repartee.

"A very neat hit," I said. "Must all our conversation run upon these
lines?"

She made no answer at all.

"Anne," I said, "rein your horse back ten yards."

"Anne," said Dolly, "ride precisely where you are."

"Very good," said I. "I have no objection to your maid hearing what I
have to say. I thought it would be you that would object."

"Anne," said Dolly, "did you pack the sarcenet?"

"Yes, mistress."

"Then tell me again the tale that you were--"

I broke in with such fury that even Dolly ceased.

"My Cousin," I said, "I have a louder voice than either of you; and I
shall use it, if you do not listen, so that the whole countryside shall
hear. I have to say this--that some time or another to-day I have to
have a private conversation with you. It is for you to choose the time
and place. If you give me no opportunity now, I shall make it myself,
later. Will you hear what I have to say now?"

There was a very short silence.

"Anne," said Dolly, "now that we can hear ourselves speak, will you tell
me again the tale that you began last night?"

She said it, not at all lightly, but with a coldness and a distilled
kind of anger that gave me no choice. I lifted my hat a little; shook my
reins; and once more took up my position ten yards ahead. There was a
low murmur of voices behind; and then silence. It appeared that the tale
was not to be told after all.

       *       *       *       *       *

We dined, very late, at a little inn, called the _Cross-Keys_, between
Edmonton and Ware. I remember nothing at all, either of the inn or the
host or the food--nothing but the name of the inn, for the name struck
me, with a dreary kind of wit, as reflective of the cross-purposes which
we were at. We three dined together, in profound silence, except when
Dolly addressed a word or two to her maid. As for me, she took the food
which I carved, all as if I were a servant, without even such a
thank-you as a man gives to a servant.

We took the road again, about three o'clock; and even then the day was
beginning to draw in a little, very bleak and dismal; and that, too, I
took as a symbol of my heart within, and of my circumstances and
prospects. Certainly I had gained my desire in one way; I had got Dolly
away from Court; yet that was the single point I had to congratulate
myself upon. All else, it appeared, was ruined. I had lost all the
advantage, or very nearly all, that I had ever won from the King--(for I
knew, that although he had been merry at the end of the time, he would
not forget how I had worsted him)--and as for Dolly, I supposed she
would never speak to me again. It had been bad enough when I had left
Hare Street nearly a twelvemonth ago: my return to it now was a hundred
times worse.

Although Dolly, however, would not speak to me, I was entirely
determined to speak to Dolly. I proposed to rehearse to her what I had
done, and why; and when that was over, I would leave it in her hands
whether I remained at Hare Street a day or two, or left again next
morning. More than a day or two, I did not even hope for. I had insulted
her--it seemed--beyond forgiveness. Yet, besides my miserableness, there
was something very like pleasure as well, though of a grim sort. I had
spoken my mind to her, pretty well, and would do so more explicitly;
and I was to speak my mind very well indeed to her father. There was a
real satisfaction to me in that prospect. Then, once more, I would shut
the door for ever on Hare Street, and go back again to town, and begin
all over again at the beginning, and try to retrieve a little of what I
had lost. Such then were my thoughts.

We supped, at Ware--at the _Saracen's Head_, and the same wretched
performance was gone through as at the _Cross-Keys_. Night was fallen
completely; and we had candles that guttered not a little. Dolly was
silent, however, this time, even to her maid. She did not give me one
look, all through supper.

When I came out afterwards to the horses, the yard was all in a mist: I
could see no more than a spot of light where the lamp should be by the
stable-door. The host came with me.

"It has fallen very foggy, sir," he said. "Would it not be best to stay
the night?"

I was considering the point before answering; but my cousin answered for
me, from behind.

"Nonsense," said she. "I know every step of the way. Where are the
horses?"

(Even that, I observed, she said to the host and not to me.)

"The lady is impatient to get home," I said. "Is the fog likely to
spread far?"

"It may be from here to Cambridge, sir," he said--"at this time of the
year."

"Where are the horses?" said Dolly again.

There was no help for it. Once more we mounted; Dolly, again, assisted
by the host, and not by me: but Anne was gracious enough to accept my
ministrations.

For a few miles all went well: but the roads hereabouts were very soft
and boggy; it was next to impossible sometimes to know whether we were
right or not; and after a while one of my men waited for me--he that
carried the lantern to guide the rest of us. The first I saw of him was
his horse's ears, very black, like a pair of horns, against the lighted
mist. "Sir," he said, "I do not know the road. I can see not five yards,
light or no light."

I called out to James.

"James," said I, "do you know where we are?"

"No, sir," said he, "at least not very well."

"Cousin," I said--(for Dolly had reined up her horse close behind, not
knowing, I suppose, that I was so near). "Cousin, I am sorry to trouble
you; but unless you can lead us--"

"Give me the lantern," she said sharply to my man.

She took it from him, and pushed forwards. I wheeled my horse after her
and followed. The rest fell in behind somewhere. I did not say one word,
good or bad; for a certain thought had come to me of what might happen.
She thought, I suppose, that Anne was behind her.

So impatient was my Cousin Dolly, that, certain of her road, as she
supposed, she urged her horse presently into a kind of amble. I urged
mine to the same; and so, for perhaps ten minutes, we rode in silence. I
could hear the horses behind--or rather the sucking noise of their
feet,--fall behind a little, and then a little more. The men were
talking, too; and so was Anne, to them--for she liked men's company, and
did not get very much of it in Dolly's service--and this I suppose was
the reason why they did not notice how the distance grew between us.
After about ten minutes I heard a man shout; but the fog deadened his
voice, so that it sounded a great way off; and Dolly, I suppose, thought
he was not of our party at all; for she never turned her head; and
besides, she was intent on hating me, and that, I think, absorbed her
more than she knew. I said nothing; I rode on in silence, seeing her
like an outline only in the dark, now and again--and, more commonly
nothing but a kind of lighted mist, now and then obscured. It appeared
to me that we were very far away to the right; but then I never
professed to know the way; and it was no business of mine. Truly the
very courses of nature fought against my cousin and her passionate ways.
Presently I turned at a sound; and there was James' mare at my heels. I
knew her even in the dark, by the white blaze on her forehead. I had
been listening for the voices; and had not noticed he was there. I
reined up, instantly; and as he came level I plucked his sleeve.

"James," I whispered in Italian, lest Dolly should catch even a phrase
of what I said--"not a word. Go back and find the others. Leave us. We
will find our way."

James was an exceedingly discreet and sensible fellow--as I knew. He
reined back upon the instant, and was gone in the black mist; and I
could hear his horse's footsteps passing into the distance. What he
thought, God and he alone knew; for he never told me.

The soft sound of the hoofs was scarcely died away, before I too had to
pull in suddenly; for there were the haunches of Dolly's horse before
the very nose of my poor grey. She had halted; and was listening. I held
my breath.

"Anne," she said suddenly. "Anne, where are you?"

As in the Scripture--there was no voice nor any that answered. There was
no sound at all but the creaking of the harness, and the soft breathing
of the horses, for we had been coming over heavy ground. The world was
as if buried in wool.

"Anne," she said again; and I caught a note of fear in her voice.

"Cousin," said I softly, "I fear Anne is lost, and so are the rest. You
see you would not speak to me; and it was none of my business--"

"Who is that?" said she sharply. But she knew well enough.

I resolved to spare her nothing; for I was beginning to understand her a
little better.

"It is Cousin Roger," I said. "You see you said you knew the road, and
so--"

Then she lashed her horse suddenly; and I heard him plunge. But he could
not go fast, from the heaviness of the ground; and he was very weary
too, as were we all. Besides, she forgot that she carried the lantern, I
think; and I was able to follow her easily enough; as the light moved up
and down. Then the light halted once more; and I saw a great whiteness
beyond it which I could not at first understand.

I came up quietly; and spoke again.

"Dolly, my dear; we had best have a little truce--an armed truce, if you
will--but a truce. You can be angry with me again afterwards."

"You coward!" she said, with a sob in her voice, "to lead me away like
this--"

"My dear, it was you who did the leading. Do me bare justice. I have
followed very humbly."

She made no answer.

"Cousin; be reasonable," I said. "Let us find the way out of this; and
when we are clear you can say what you will--or say nothing once more."

She took me at my word, and preserved her deadly silence.

I slipped off my horse; she was within an arm's length, and, not
trusting her, I passed my arm with scarcely a noticeable movement
through her bridle. It was well that I did so; for an instant after she
tore at the bridle, not knowing I had hold of it, and lashed her horse
again, thinking to escape whilst I was on the ground. I was very near
knocked down by the horse's shoulder, but I slipped up my hand and
caught him close to the bit--holding my own with my other hand.

"You termagant!" I said, as soon as I had them both quiet; for I was
very angry indeed to be treated so after all my gentleness. "No more
trust for me. It would serve you right if I left you here."

"Leave me," she wailed, "leave me, you coward!"

I set my teeth.

"I shall not," I said. "I shall punish you by remaining. I know you hate
my company. Well, you will submit to it, then, because I choose so. Now
then, let us see--"

Then she burst out suddenly into a passion of weeping. I set my teeth
harder than ever. There was only one way, after all, to get the better
of Dolly; and I had pitched on it.

"Yes: it is very well to cry," I said. "You nearly had me killed just
now. Well: you will have to listen to me presently, whether you like it
or not. Give me the lantern."

She made no movement. She had fought down the tears a little; but I
could hear her breath still sobbing. I reached up and took the lantern
from her right hand.

"Now; where in God's name are we?" said I.

We had ridden into some kind of blind alley, I presently saw; and that
was why Dolly's horse had halted. Even that I had not owed to her
goodwill. For we had ridden, I saw presently, lifting the lantern up and
down, into a great chalk pit; and must have turned off along the track
that led to it, from one of those sunken ways that drovers use to bring
their flocks up to the high road. That we were to the right of the high
road I was certain, of my own observation. _Ergo_; if we could get back
into the sunken way and turn to the right, we might find ourselves on
familiar ground again. However, I said nothing of this to Dolly. I was
resolved that she should suffer a little more first. I took the bridles
of the two horses more securely, slipping my hand with the lantern
through the bridle of my own, turned their heads round and walked
between them, looking very closely on this side and that, and turning my
lantern every way. After twenty yards I saw that I was right. The bank
on my left proved to be no bank, but the cliff-edge of the chalk pit
only, by which the sunken way passed very near. I led the horses round
to the right; and there were we, in the very situation I had surmised.
Still holding Dolly's bridle, I mounted my own horse; and when I had
done so, to secure myself and her the better, I pulled the reins
suddenly over her horse's head, and brought them into my left hand.

"That is safer," I observed. "Now we can pretend to be friends again;
and hold that conversation of which I spoke after we left London."

There was no answer, as we set out along the way. It was a little
clearer by now; and I could see the bank on my right. I glanced at her;
and in the light of the lantern I could see that she was sitting very
upright and motionless like a shadow. I lowered the lantern to the right
side, so that she was altogether in the dark and the bank illuminated. I
felt a little compassion for her indeed; but I dared not shew it.

"Now, Cousin," I said, "I preached to His Majesty yesterday; and he
told me I should be a Bishop at least. Now it is you that must hear a
sermon."

Again she said nothing.

I had rehearsed pretty well by now all that I meant to say to her; and
it was good for me that I had, else I might have fallen weak again when
I saw her so unhappy. As it was I kept back some of the biting sentences
I had prepared. My address was somewhat as follows. We jogged forward
very gingerly as I spoke.

"Cousin," I began, "you have treated me very ill. The first of your
offences to me was that, though I had earned, I think, the right to call
myself your friend, neither you nor your father gave me any hint
whatever of your going to Court. I know very well why you did not; and I
shall have a little discourse to make to your father upon the matter, at
the proper time. But for all that I had a right to be told. If you were
to go, I might at least have got you better protection in the beginning
than that of the--the--well--of Her Grace of Portsmouth.

"Now all that was the cause of the very small offence that I committed
against you myself--that of forcing my way into your lodgings. For that
I offer my apologies--not for the fact, but for the manner of it. And
even that apology is not very deep: I shall presently tell you why.

"The next of your offences to me was that open defiance which you
shewed, and some of the words you addressed to me, both then and
afterwards. You have told me I was a coward, several times, under
various phrases, and twice, I think, _sans phrase_. Cousin; I am a great
many things I should not be; but I do not think I am a coward; at least
I have never been a coward in your presence. Again, you have told me
that I was very good at bullying. For that I thank God, and gladly plead
guilty. If a maid is bent on her own destruction, if nothing else will
serve she must be bullied out of it. Again, I thank God that I was there
to do it."

I looked at her out of the tail of my eye. Her head seemed to me to be a
little hung down; but she said nothing at all.

"The third offence of yours is the intolerable discourtesy you have
shewn to me all to-day--and before servants, too. I put myself to great
pains to get you out of that stinking hole called Whitehall; I risked
His Majesty's displeasure for the same purpose: I have been at your
disposal ever since noon; and you have treated me like a dog. You will
continue to treat me so, no doubt, until we get to Hare Street; and you
will do your best no doubt to provoke a quarrel between your father and
myself. Well; I have no great objection to that; but I have not deserved
that you should behave so. I have done nothing, ever since I have known
you, but try to serve you--" (my voice rose a little; for I was truly
moved, and far more than my words shewed)--"You first treated me like a
friend; then, when you would not have me as a lover, I went away, and I
stayed away. Then, when you would not have me as a lover, and I would
not have you as my friend, I became, I think I may fairly say, your
defender; and all that you do in return--"

Then, without any mistake at all, I caught the sound of a sob; and all
my pompous eloquence dropped from me like a cloak. My anger was long
since gone, though I had feigned it had not. To be alone with her there,
enclosed in the darkness as in a little room--her horse and mine nodding
their heads together, and myself holding her bridle--all this, and the
silence round us, and my own heart, very near bursting, broke me down.

"Oh! Dolly," I cried. "Why are you so bitter with me? You know that I
have never thought ill of you for an instant. You know I have done
nothing but try to serve you--I have bullied you? Yes: I have; and I
would do the same a thousand times again in the same cause. You are
wilful and obstinate; but I thank God I am more wilful and obstinate
than you. I am sick of this fencing and diplomacy and irony. You know
what I am--I am not at all the fine gentleman that leaned his head on
the chimney-breast--that was make-believe and foolishness. I am a bully
and a brute--you have told me so--"

"Oh!" wailed Dolly suddenly--no longer pretending; and I caught the
note in her voice for which I had been waiting. I dropped the lantern;
the horses plunged violently at the flare and the crash; but I cared
nothing for that. I dragged furiously on the bridle; and as the horses
swung together, I caught her round the shoulders, and kissed her
fiercely on the cheek. She clung to me, weeping.



CHAPTER V


Well; I had beaten her at last; and in the only way in which she would
yield. Weakness was of no use with her, nor gentleness, nor even that
lofty patronage which, poor fool! I had shewn her in the parlour at Hare
Street. She must be man's mate--which is certainly a rather savage
relation at bottom--not merely his pretty and grateful wife. This I
learned from her, as we rode onwards and up into the high road--(where,
I may say in passing, there was no sign of our party)--though she did
not know she was telling it me.

"Oh! Roger," she said. "And I thought you were a--a pussy-cat."

"That is the second time I have been told so in two days," I said.

"Who told you so?"

"His Majesty."

"I thought His Majesty was wiser," said she.

"He has been pretty wise, though," I said. "If it were not for him, we
should not be riding here together."

"I suppose you made him do that too," she said.

       *       *       *       *       *

But it was not only of Dolly that I had learned my lessons; it was of
myself also. I was astonished how inevitable it appeared to me now that
we should be riding together on such terms; and I understood that never,
for one instant, all through this miserable year away from her, had I
ever, interiorly, loosed my hold upon her. Beneath all my resolutions
and wilful distractions the intention had persevered. All the while I
was saying to myself in my own mind that I should never see Dolly again,
something that was not my mind--(I suppose my heart)--was telling me the
precise opposite. Well; the heart had been right, after all.

       *       *       *       *       *

She asked me presently what I should say to her father.

"I shall forgive him a great deal now, that I thought I never should,"
I said with wonderful magnanimity. "A few sharp words only, and no more.
You see, my dear, it was through his sending you to Court--"

"Yes: yes," she said.

"He has behaved abominably, however," I said, "and I shall tell him so.
Dolly, my love."

"Yes," said she.

"I must go back very soon to town. I have been offered a piece of work;
and even if I do not accept it, I must speak of it to them."

"Them?"

"Yes, my dear. I must say no more than that. It is _secretum commissum_
as we say in Rome."

"And to think that you were a Benedictine novice!" exclaimed Dolly.

We talked awhile of that then; she asked me a number of questions that
may be imagined under such circumstances: and my answers also can be
imagined; and we spoke of a great number of things, she and I riding
side by side in the dark, our very horses friendly one with another--she
telling me all of how she went to Court, and why she went, and I telling
her my side of the affair--until at last in Puckeridge a man ran out
from the inn yard to say that our party was within and waiting for us.
They had met, it appeared, a rustic fellow who had set them right, soon
after they had lost us.

I do not know what they thought at first; but I know what they thought
in the end; for I rated them very soundly for not keeping nearer to us;
and bade James ride ahead with the lantern with all the rest between,
and Dolly and I in the rear to keep them from straying again. In this
manner then did she and I contrive to have a great deal more
conversation before we came a little before midnight to Hare Street.

The village was all dark as we came through it; and all dark was the
House when we pushed open the yard gates and rode in. We went through
and beat upon the door, and presently heard a window thrown up.

"Who is there?" cried my Cousin Tom's voice.

I bade Dolly's maid answer. (She was all perplexed, poor wench, at the
change of relations between her mistress and me.)

"It is Mistress Jermyn, sir," she said.

"Yes, father; I have come back," cried Dolly.

There was an exclamation from poor Tom; and in two or three minutes we
saw a light beneath the door, and heard him drawing the bolts. I pushed
Dolly and her maid forward as the door opened, and then myself strode
suddenly forward into the light.

"Why--God bless--" cried Tom; who was in his coat and shoes. I could see
how his face fell when he saw me. I looked at him very grimly: but I
said nothing to him at once (for I was sorely tempted to laugh at his
apparition), but turned to James and bade him see to the rest and find
beds somewhere. Then I went after Dolly and her father into the Great
Chamber, still with my hat on my head and looking very stern. He was
talking very swiftly in a low voice to Dolly; but he stopped when I came
in.

"Yes, Cousin Tom," I said, "I am come back again--all unlooked for, as I
see."

"But, good God!" he cried. "What is the matter; and why is Dolly here? I
was but just asking--"

I pulled out the King's paper which I had all ready, and thrust it down
before the lantern that he had put on the table: and I waited till he
had read it through.

"There, Cousin!" I said when he was staring on me again, "that is enough
warrant for both you and me, I think. Have you anything to say?"

He began to bluster.

"Cousin," I said, "if I have any patience it is because Dolly has given
it back to me. You had best not say too much. You have done all the harm
you could; and it is only by God's mercy that it has not been greater."

He said that he was Dolly's father and could do as he pleased. Besides,
she herself had consented.

"I know that," I said, "because she has told me so; and that it was in
despair that she went, because we two fools bungled our business. Well,
you may be her father; but the Scripture tells us that a woman must
leave her father and cleave to her husband; and that is what I am to be
to her."

Well; when I said that, there was the Devil to pay--we three standing
there in the cold chamber, with the draughts playing upon poor Tom's
legs. He looked a very piteous object, very much fallen from that fine
figure that he had presented when I had first set eyes on him; but he
strove to compensate by emphasis what he lacked in dignity. He said that
he had changed his mind; that even third cousins once removed should not
marry; that he had now other designs for his daughter; that I had no
right to dictate to him in his own house. He waxed wonderfully warm; but
even then, in the first flush of his resistance I thought I saw a kind
of wavering. I sat with one leg across the corner of the great table
until he was done; while Dolly sat in a chair, turning her merry eyes
from the one to the other of us. For myself, I felt no lack of
confidence. I had beaten the daughter; now I was to beat the father.

When he had finished, and drew breath, I stood up.

"Very bravely said, Cousin, bare legs and all," I said. "We will speak
of it all again to-morrow. But now for a bite; we have been riding since
noon."

It was very strange to go upstairs again after a mouthful or two, and a
glass of warm ale, and see my chamber again from which I had departed in
such unhappiness near a twelvemonth ago. James had made a little fire
for me, before which I drew off my boots and undressed myself. For it
was from this very chamber that I had gone forth in such despair, when
Dolly had said that she would not have me: and now, here I was in it
again, all glowing with my ride and my drink and my great content,
having kissed Dolly just now in her father's presence as a symbol of
our troth. And so I went to bed and dreamed and woke and dreamed again.

We had our talk out next morning, Tom pacing up and down the Great
Chamber, until I entreated him for God's sake to sit down and save my
stiff neck. He was very high at first; but I was astonished how quickly
he came down.

"That is very well," I said, "to speak now of better prospects for
Dolly. But you will do me the honour of remembering, my dear Cousin,
that in this very room once you spoke to me very differently. If you
have changed your mind, you might at least have told me so; for I have
not changed mine at all; and Dolly, it seems, is come round to my way of
thinking at last."

"But how did you do it?" asked he, stopping in his walk.

"I lost my temper altogether," said I; "and that is a very good way if
you have tried all the rest."

"But the King, man, the King! How did you get that paper out of him? Why
His Majesty himself, I am told, took particular notice--"

"Eh?" said I.

"That is no matter now," he said. "What were you going to say?"

"I must have that first," said I.

Tom began to pace the floor again.

"It is nothing at all, Cousin. It is that His Majesty spoke very kindly
to my daughter upon her first coming to Court."

"I am glad I did not know that," I said, "or I might have said more to
him."

"Well; but what did you say?"

Now I was in half a dozen minds as to what I should tell him. He knew
for certain nothing at all of my comings and goings and of what I did
for the King; yet I thought that he must have guessed a good deal. I
judged it safer, therefore, to tell him a little, to stop his month; but
not too much.

"Why," I said very carefully, "I have been of a little service to the
King; and His Majesty was good enough to ask me if there were any
little favour he could do me. So that is what I asked him."

Tom stopped in his pacing again: and it was then that I entreated him to
sit down and talk like a Christian. He did so, without a word.

"In France, I suppose?" he said immediately after.

"Why, yes."

Tom looked at me again.

"And you travel with four men now, instead of one."

"I find it more convenient," I said.

"And more expensive too," he observed.

"Why, yes: a little more expensive, too," I answered. But I was a shade
uneasy; because this increase of servants was at His Majesty's desire
and cost. I made haste to turn the conversation back once more. I did
not wish Tom to think that I was of any importance at all.

"Well; but what of Dolly?" I said.

It was then that my Cousin suddenly came down from his loftiness. He
seemed to awake out of a little reverie.

"You come into the enjoyment of your property," he said, "in four years
from now?"

"In less than that," I said. "It is three years and a half. My birthday
is in June."

He asked me one or two more questions then as to its amount, and what
arrangements I would make in the event of my marriage. When I had
satisfied him upon these matters, he fell again into a reverie.

"Well?" said I, a little sharply.

"Cousin," he said, "I do not wish to stand in your way. But there must
be no talk of marriage till '85. Will that content you?"

It did not in the least; but it was what I had expected. I was scarcely
rich enough yet to support a wife, and knew that, well enough; for if I
married and left the King's service there would be no more travelling
expenses for me. Dolly and I last night had agreed upon that as the
least that we could consent to.

"Four years is a long time," said I.

"You said three and a half just now," he observed a little bitterly.

"Well: three and a half. I suppose I must take that, if I can get
nothing better."

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I was secretly a little astonished that my Cousin Tom had consented
so quickly, after his recent ambitions. Plainly he had aimed higher than
at my poor standard during those months; for when a maid went to Court
as one of the Queen's ladies the least that was expected of her was that
she would marry a pretty rich man. But the reason of it all was
unpleasantly evident to me. He must have gathered from what I had said
and done that my favour was increasing with the King; and therefore he
must have argued too that I must be serving His Majesty in some very
particular way--which was the very last thing I desired him to know, as
he was such a gossip. But I dared say no more then. We grasped one
another's hands very heartily: and then I went to find Dolly.

       *       *       *       *       *

The days that followed were very happy ones--though, as I shall
presently relate, they were to be interrupted once more. I had in my
mind, during them all, that I must soon go up to London again to tell
Mr. Chiffinch my final decision that I could not undertake the work that
he had proposed to me; for I had spoken of it at some length with Dolly,
giving her a confidence that I dared not give to her father. But I did
not think that I should have to go so soon.

It was in the hour before supper one evening that I told her of it, as
we sat in the tapestried parlour, looking into the fire from the settle
where we sat together.

"My dear," said I, "I wish to ask your advice. But it is a very private
matter indeed."

"Tell me," said Dolly contentedly. (Her hand was in mine, and she looked
extraordinary pretty in the firelight.)

"I am asked whether I will undertake a little work. In itself it is
excellent. It concerns the protection of His Majesty; but it is the
means that I am doubtful about."

Then I told her that of the details--of the how and the when and the
where--I knew no more than she: but that, if all went well, I might find
myself trusted by a traitor: and that I was considering whether in such
a cause as this it was a work to which I could put my hand, to betray
that trust, if I got it. But before I was done speaking I knew that I
could not--so wonderfully does speaking to another clear one's mind--and
that though I could not condemn outright a man who thought fit to do so,
any more than I would condemn a scavenger for cleaning the gutter, it
was not work for a gentleman to seek out a confidence that he might
betray it again.

"Now that I have put it into words," I said, "I see that it cannot be
done. Certainly it would advance me very much with His Majesty; (and
that is one reason why I spoke to you of it)--but such advance would be
too dearly bought. Do you not think so too, my dear?"

She nodded slowly and very emphatically three or four times, without
speaking, as her manner was.

"Then that is decided," said I, "and in a day or two I will go to town
and tell them so."

So we put the matter away then; and spoke of matters far more dear to
both of us, until Tom came in and exclaimed at our sitting in the dark
as he called it.

       *       *       *       *       *

The interruption came that very night.

We were at supper, and speaking of Christmas, and of how we would have
again the dancing as last year, when we heard a man ride past the house,
pulling up his horse as he came. Such interruptions came pretty
often;--it was so that I had been first sent for by Mr. Chiffinch: and
it was so again that the Duke of Monmouth had come, and others--but we
had plenty too of others who came, seeing the house at the end of the
village, to ask their way, or what not; so we paid no attention to it.
Presently, however, we heard a man's steps come along the paved walk,
and then a knocking at the door. James went out to see who was there;
and came back immediately saying that it was a courier with a letter for
me. My conscience smote me a little, for I had delayed more than a week
now from answering Mr. Chiffinch: and, sure enough, when I went out,
the man was come from him. I took the letter he gave me into the Great
Chamber to read it, and was astonished at its contents. There were but
four lines in it.

"Mr. Mallock," it ran, "come immediately--that is to-morrow. The Lord
hath delivered them into our hands. Ride by Amwell; and go through the
place slowly between eleven and twelve with no servant near." And it was
signed with his initials only.

I went back again into the dining-room immediately, and shut the door
behind me.

"I must go to town, to-morrow," I said, all short.

Dolly looked up at me, gone a little white. I shook my head and smiled
at her, but secretly; so that Tom did not see.



CHAPTER VI


I do not think that I have yet related how great was the work that Mr.
Chiffinch had done in the matter of the spies that he had everywhere
during those later years of His Majesty Charles the Second. That which
he had done during Monmouth's progress in the north--his receiving of
reports day by day, and even hour by hour--this was only one instance of
his activity. The secret-looking men, or even the bold-looking
gentlemen, whom I had met on his stairs so continually, or for whose
sake I was kept waiting sometimes when I went to see him--these were his
tools and messengers. This company of spies was of all grades; and it
was to serve in that company that he had sent for me from France, and
that I was determined to decline.

Though, however, I was so determined, I did not dare to disobey the
directions that his letter gave me; for I could not be sure that it was
for this work in particular that he had summoned me; though I guessed
that it was. I would go, thought I, and do in everything as he had said;
I would ride through Amwell, with my servants behind at a good distance:
I would see what befell me there--for that something would, was certain
from the letter; then I would proceed on to London, and if the affair
were against my honour, as I was sure it would be, I would refuse any
further part in it. My one hardship was that I could do no more than
tell Dolly in private that I would hold to my resolution. I dared not
tell her anything of the contents of the letter which I had immediately
destroyed. I promised her that I would be back for Christmas at the
latest. She came out to the yard-gate to wish me good-bye: my servants
were gone in front; and my Cousin Tom had the sense to be out of the
way; so our good-byes were all that such miserable things ever can be. I
waved to her at the corner, and she waved back.

When we came about two miles to the north of Amwell--which we did about
eleven o'clock, as I had been bid, I bade my servants stay behind, and
not come after me till half an hour later; further I bade them, if, when
they came, they found me in any man's company, neither to salute me nor
to make any sign of recognition; but to pass straight on to Hoddesdon
and wait for me there, not at the inn where I was known, but at another
little one--the _King's Arms_--at the further end of the village, and
there they were to dine. Even then, when I came, if I did, they were not
to salute me until I had spoken with them. All this I did, interpreting
as well as I could, what Mr. Chiffinch had said; and they, since they
were well-trained in that kind of service, understood me perfectly.

It was near half-past eleven when I came, riding very slowly, into the
village street, looking this way and that so as to shew my face, but as
if I were just looking about me. I noticed a couple of servants, in a
very plain livery which I thought I had seen before, in the yard of the
_Mitre_, but they paid no attention to me. So I passed up the street to
the end, and no one spoke with me or shewed any sign. Now I knew that
there was something forward, and that unless I fell in with it the
arrangement would have failed; so I turned again and rode back, as if I
were looking for an inn. Again no one spoke with me; so I rode, as if
discontented, into the yard of the _Mitre_, and demanded of an ostler
whether there was any food fit to eat there.

He looked at me in a kind of hesitation.

"Yes, sir," he said; "but--but the parlour is full. A party is there,
from London."

Then I knew that I had been right to come; because at the same moment I
remembered where I had seen those liveries before. They were those worn
by the men who had come with Monmouth to Hare Street.

I said nothing to the ostler; but slipped off my horse, as he took the
bridle, and went indoors. The fellow called out after me; but I made as
if I did not hear. (I have found, more than once, that a little deafness
is a very good thing.) There were voices I heard talking beyond a door
at the end of the passage; I went up to this, and without knocking,
lifted the latch and went in.

The room, that looked out, with one window only, into a small enclosed
garden, was full of men. There were eight of them, as I counted
presently; all round a table on which stood a couple of tall jugs and
tankards. I raised my hand to my hat.

"I beg pardon, gentlemen. Is there room--"

"Why--it is Mr.--" I heard a voice say, suddenly stifled.

Beyond that, for a moment, there was silence. Then a man stood up
suddenly, with a kind of eagerness.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "Mr. Mallock! Do you not remember me?"

"Your back is to the light, sir--" I began; and then: "Why it is Mr.
Rumbald."

"The same, sir; the same. There is a friend of yours, here, sir--Come in
and sit down, sir. There is plenty of room for another friend."

There was a very curious kind of eagerness in the maltster's voice,
which puzzled me not a little; and there was a change of manner too in
him, that puzzled me no less. He spoke as if he had almost expected me,
or was peculiarly astonished to see me there; and there was none of that
hail-fellow air about him any more. He spoke to me as to a gentleman--as
indeed I shewed I was by my dress--but yet manifested no surprise at
seeing me so. However, I had neither time nor thought to consider this
at the moment, for the friend of mine of whom he spoke, and who was now
standing up to greet me, was no other than my Lord Essex--he who had
been riding with Monmouth from Newmarket; and he whose name Mr.
Chiffinch had expressly spoken of to me. Yet how did Mr. Rumbald know
that we knew one another?

I made haste to salute him; for he too, I thought, had an air of
eagerness.

"Come in and sit down, Mr. Mallock," he said. "We have dined early; and
are presently off to town again. Are you riding our way?"

"Why, yes," I said, "I am going up to my lodgings for a little."

(As I spoke a thousand questions beseiged me. Why was there this air of
expectation in them at all? How did Mr. Chiffinch know that they would
be here at this time? Why had he arranged that I should meet them? Why
had he not spoken of their names to me; since he had told me so freely
of them before? Well; I must wait, thought I, and meantime go very
gingerly. I was not going to put my hand to this kind of work; but I did
not wish to spoil Mr. Chiffinch's design if I could help it.)

"Why," said my Lord, "if you are going to town, may I not ride with you?
Some of these gentlemen are in a hurry; but I am sure I am not. Have you
no servants, Mr. Mallock?"

"I have sent mine on before," I said, marvelling more than ever at the
man's friendliness, "but I shall be very happy to ride with your
Lordship, if you can wait till I have dined."

My Lord said a word to a man who sat near the door, who slipped out: and
I heard his voice ordering dinner for me. Meantime I observed the
company.

There were eight, as I have said; but I knew for certain two only--the
maltster and my Lord Essex. The rest puzzled me not a little. They
seemed well-bred fellows enough; but they were dressed very plainly, and
appeared no more than country squires or lawyers or suchlike. They were
talking of the most indifferent things in the world, with silences, as
if they wondered what next to speak of; they hardly looked at me at all
after a minute or two; and presently one by one began to stand up and
take their leave, saluting my Lord by name, and bowing only to me. By
the time that my dinner came there were left only my Lord, who was very
attentive to me, and Mr. Rumbald; and before I was well set-to, even Mr.
Rumbald stood up to say good-bye.

Again I was puzzled by the man; for again he appeared very friendly with
me, and again shewed no sign of astonishment at my acquaintance with my
Lord and at my appearance as a gentleman.

"I am very glad, sir," he said, shaking my hand with great warmth,
"that you will have so pleasant a ride to town with your friend. And you
will remember my house too, will you not, over the river, if ever you
are by that way."

I told him that I would: and thanked him for his courtesy; and he went
out, after shaking hands too with my Lord, taking care to exchange no
glances with him, though it would be evident, even to a child, that
there was some secret between them.

When he was gone, my Lord turned to me.

"A very good fellow, Rumbald--a very good fellow indeed."

I assented, heartily.

"Honest as the day," said my Lord.

"There is no doubt of it," said I, with my mouth full.

"And a good patriot too. It is what we want, Mr. Mallock."

Again I assented; and my Lord presently changed the conversation.

       *       *       *       *       *

During the rest of dinner he said nothing that was significant of any of
the things I suspected. I knew now, beyond a doubt, both from what Mr.
Chiffinch had said and from the strangely mixed company, and the
circumstances under which I found them, that something was forward; but
as to what it was all about I knew no more than the dead. Neither did I
as yet see a single glimmer of light on the questions that had puzzled
me just now. So I determined that when we were safe out on the lonely
road I would throw a bait or two; though my resolution still held that I
would do no dirty work, even for His Majesty himself.

I dined very tolerably, and lit a pipe afterwards: (my Lord told me that
he used no tobacco); and presently in a kind of impatience--for indeed
the position I found myself in was a little disconcerting--I observed
that it was past noon.

"You are quite right," said my Lord, "quite right. I will tell them to
have the horses ready. Your servants are gone on before, I think you
said, Mr. Mallock?"

I told him Yes; but I wondered why he did not shout for the maid,
instead of going out himself; but I understood the reason when I found
presently, when we took the road, that his own men kept a full hundred
yards in the rear. Evidently he had gone out to tell them to do so.

       *       *       *       *       *

So soon as we were clear of Amwell, I began. There was a little wind,
and the weather was moist and thick, so there was no danger of our being
overheard.

"My Lord," I said, "I am very much puzzled by what I have seen."

"Eh?" said he.

"It was a very mixed company just now, in Amwell."

He frowned a little.

"Very excellent gentlemen, all of them--" I hastened to add. "But I was
wondering what it was that drew them all together. I can only think of
two things."

"What are they, Mr. Mallock?" asked my Lord a little eagerly.

"Religion or politics, my Lord," I said. "And I am sure that it is not
the first."

He appeared to reflect; but he was not a very good actor; and I could
see that it was feigned.

"Why you are very sharp, sir," he said. "You have put your finger on the
very place--the very place." (And he continued with far too short a
pause): "On which side are you, Mr. Mallock? For the country or for the
Court?"

"That is a dangerous question to answer, my Lord," I said, very short.

"It is only dangerous for one side," said he.

I nodded, in a grave and philosophical manner. Then I sighed.

"You are quite right, my Lord."

I could see that he was glancing at me continually. Yet no explanation
of his behaviour yet crossed my mind.

"Mr. Mallock," said he after a silence, "it is no good fencing about the
question. I can see that you are disaffected."

"That is a very safe way to put it," I said. "Who is not--on one side
or the other?"

"Yes," said he, "but you are sharp enough to know what I mean."

Again I nodded; but my mind was working like a mill; for a new thought
had come to me that seemed to illumine all the rest; and yet I could not
understand. The thought was this. Plainly my Lord Essex knew a good deal
about me: he knew enough, that is, to begin a conversation of this kind
with one whom he had only met once before--a mad proceeding altogether,
if that were all he knew. _Ergo_, thought I, he must know more than
that; and if he knew more he must know that I was in the service of His
Majesty and presumably devoted to that service; probably, too, from the
understanding between himself and Rumbald, he knew that I had chosen on
previous occasions to masquerade as if I were not a gentleman. Was he
quite mad then? For to talk like this to one in the confidence of His
Majesty was surely a crazed proceeding! Yet my Lord Essex was not a
fool.

Looking back upon the matter as I write, it is hard for me to understand
why I did not see through his design, since I saw so much of it. Yet it
was not until London was in sight, or rather its lights against the sky,
that all fell into its place; and I wondered at the simplicity of it. I
think that it was the way he talked to me--the manner in which he
skirted continually on the fringe of treason, yet said nothing that I
could lay hold upon, and, above all, mentioned no names--that gave me
the clue. I fear I fell a little silent as I perceived how point after
point ratified the conclusion to which I had come; but I do not think he
noticed it; and, even if he did, it would only encourage him the more.
And when I saw the whole, as plain as a map, my scruples left me
altogether. I would not have betrayed the true confidence of this man,
or of any other; that resolution still held firm; but this was another
matter altogether.

By the time that we reached Covent Garden--for he rode with me as far as
that--I think he was satisfied that he had caught me in the way that he
wished; for he had given me the names of one or two places where I
could communicate with him if I desired; and was nearer actual treason
in his talk than ever before--though he did not go much beyond deploring
the Popish succession, and feigning that he did not know that I was a
Catholic; and, on my side, I had feigned to be greatly interested in all
that he had said, and had let him see, though not too evidently, that it
was feigning on my side too. We parted, outwardly, the best of friends;
inwardly we were at one another's throats.

So soon as I had dismounted--he having left me in the Strand--and gone
indoors, I came out again, not fearing, indeed rather hoping, that he
would be watching for me, and, in my boots just as I was, set out for
Whitehall.

       *       *       *       *       *

Mr. Chiffinch was within, expecting me. Even he looked a little excited;
and no wonder. But first I made him answer my questions before I would
say a word beyond telling him that his design had prospered.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I over my supper which he had brought for me to
his parlour. "Before I say one more word, you must tell me three or four
things. The first is this. How did you know that it was in me that my
Lord Essex would confide?"

"That is easily answered," said he. "My men told me that my Lord was
after you everywhere--both in your lodgings and here."

"Ah!" I said, "and was there a fellow called Rumbald, with him?"

"You are right," he said. "How did you know that?"

"Wait," I said. "The next is, If you could tell me so much in your
letter, why did you not tell me the names of the persons?"

He smiled.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "from your hesitation I knew that you would
refuse to do such work as this. So I intended to catch you unawares, and
to entangle you in it. I knew that you would not refuse to go to Amwell,
and behave there as I directed, if I said no more than I did."

"Well; you would have failed," I said.

"What!" said he. "You are still going to refuse?"

"No," said I, "I accept the work: but it is not what you think it is."

"Why--what is it then?"

"Wait," I said. "The next is, How did you know that they would be at
Amwell at that time?"

"Oh! that is easy enough; one of my fellows got that out of one of
Rumbald's maids--that a party of six would lie at the Ryehouse last
night; and that they would meet two more at dinner in Amwell at eleven
o'clock to-day. Rumbald has been known to us a long while. But it is the
others we are waiting for."

I was silent. There were no more questions I wished to ask at present;
though there might be others later.

"Well," said the page, a little eagerly; and his narrow face looked very
like a fox's, as he spoke. "Well; and what is your news?"

I finished my stew, and laid down the spoon.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I, "let me first ask one more question. Why do you
think that my Lord Essex was after me at all? How did he know of me?"

"Plainly from Rumbald," said he.

"And why did he want me?"

He smiled.

"Why, Rumbald thinks you disaffected towards the King; and yet knows you
are in his service. You would be a very great helper to them, if you
cared."

It was my turn to smile.

"My Lord Essex is not a fool," I said. "If they know so much of me,
would they not know more?"

"Plainly they do not," he said. "Or they would not have tried to get you
on their side."

I laughed softly.

"Sir," I said, "you are very sharp: but you are not sharp enough."

Then I related to him the behaviour of them all in the inn; and how
Rumbald had shewn no surprise in seeing that I was a gentleman after
all; and how my Lord Essex had talked in what would have been the
maddest manner, if his intention had been as Chiffinch had thought it to
be; and with every word that I said the page's face grew longer.

"Well," he cried, "it is beyond me altogether. What then is the
explanation?"

"My friend," I said, "you were right. Neither before nor after what has
passed to-day would I have done the work you designed for me which was
to get these men's confidence, and then betray it again. But it is not
their idea to give me their confidence at all. So I will work with you
very gladly."

"But then what can you do--" he began in amazement.

"Listen," I said. "It will fall out just as I say. They will give me
very few names; they will admit me to none of their real secrets; but
yet they will feign to do so."

"But, what a' God's name--"

"Oh! man!" I cried, "you are surely slow-witted to-day. They will do all
this--" (I leaned forward as I spoke for further emphasis)--"_in order
that I may hand it on to His Majesty_; but they will give me no real
secret till the climax is come, and their designs perfected. And then
they will give me a false one altogether. They think that they will make
me a tool to further their true plans by betraying false ones. We may
know this for certain then--that whatever they tell me, knowing that I
will tell you, is not what they intend, but something else altogether.
And it will not be hard to know the truth, if we are certified of what
is false."

       *       *       *       *       *

There was complete silence in the room when I had finished, except for
the wash of the tide outside the windows. The man's mouth was open, and
his eyes set in thought. Then sense came back to his face; and he smiled
suddenly and widely.

"God!" he said, and slapped me suddenly on the thigh. "Good God! you
have hit it, I believe."



CHAPTER VII


From now onwards there began for me such a series of complications that
I all but despair of making clear even the course that they ran. My
diaries are filled with notes and initials and dates which I dared not
at the time set down more explicitly; and my memory is often confused
between them. For, indeed, my work in France was but child's play to
this, neither was there any danger in France such as was here.

For consider what, not a double part merely, but a triple, I had to
play. The gentlemen, who were beginning at this time to conspire in real
earnest against the King and the Constitution, some of whom afterwards,
such as my Lord Russell, suffered death for it, and others of whom like
my Lord Howard of Escrick escaped by turning King's evidence--although
their guilt was very various--these gentlemen, through my Lord Essex,
had got at me, as they thought, to betray not truth but falsehood to His
Majesty, and told me matters, under promise of secrecy, which they
intended me to tell to the King and his advisers. To them, therefore, I
had to feign feigning: I had to feign, that is, that I was feigning to
keep their confidence, but that in reality that I was betraying it;
while to Mr. Chiffinch I had to disclose these precious secrets not as
true but as false, and conjecture with him what was the truth. (My
evidence, later, was never called upon, nor did my name appear in any
way, for that the jury would never have understood it.) I had,
therefore, a double danger to guard against; first that which came from
the conspirators--the fear that they should discover I was tricking
them, or rather that I had discovered their trickery; and, on the other
side, that I should become involved with them in the fall that was so
certain from the beginning, and be myself accused of conspiracy--or of
misprision of treason at the least. Against the latter I guarded as well
as I could, by revealing to Mr. Chiffinch every least incident so soon
as it happened; and on three occasions in the following year having a
long discourse with His Majesty. But against the former danger I had
only my wits to protect me.

The best thing, therefore, that I can do is to relate a few of the
events that happened to me. (I have never, I think, experienced such a
strain on my wits; for it went on for a good deal more than a year,
since I could for a long time arrive at no certain proofs of the guilt
of the conspirators, and His Majesty did not wish to strike until their
conviction was assured.)

The first meeting of the conspirators to which I was admitted was in
January. (I had not been able, of course, to go to Hare Street for
Christmas; but the letters I had now and again from Dolly, greatly
encouraged and comforted me. I had told her that I "was keeping to my
resolution," but that "I should be in some peril for a good while to
come," and begged her to remember me often in her pure prayers.)

A fellow came to my lodgings about the middle of January, with a letter
from my Lord Essex. It ran as follows:

"SIR,--With regard to some matters of which we spoke together on the
occasion of our very pleasant ride to town last month, I am very anxious
to see you again. Pray do not write any answer to this; but if you can
meet me on Thursday night at the house of my friend Mr. West, in Creed
Lane, at nine o'clock, we may have a little conversation with some other
friends of ours. I am, sir, your obliged servant,

"Essex."

I told the fellow that the answer was Yes. My Lord had been to see me in
Covent Garden twice, but had said very little that was at all explicit;
but Mr. Chiffinch had bid me hold myself in readiness, and put aside all
else for the further invitations that would surely come. And so it had.

I found the house without difficulty; and was shewn into a little
parlour near the door; where presently my Lord came to me alone, all
smiles.

"I am very glad you are come, Mr. Mallock," he said. "I was sure that
you would. I have a few friends here who meet to talk politics; and they
would greatly like to hear your views on the points. I think I may now
venture to say that we know who you are, Mr. Mallock, and that you have
done a good deal for His Majesty in France. Your opinion then would be
of the greatest interest to us all."

(I understood why he put so much emphasis on France; it was to quiet me
as to any suspicions they thought I might have as to my being the King's
servant in England too.)

I answered him very civilly, smiling as if I was at my ease; and after a
word or two more he took me in. It was a long low room, with a beamed
ceiling and shuttered windows, in which the men were sitting. There were
six of them there; and I knew two of them, immediately. He that sat at
the head of the table, a very grim-looking man, with pointed features,
in an iron-grey peruke, was no other than my Lord Shaftesbury himself;
and the one on his left, with a highish colour in his cheeks, was my
Lord Grey. Of the rest I knew nothing; but those two were enough to shew
me that I must make no mistakes. There were candles on the table.

My Lord Essex smiled as he turned to me.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "I see you know some of these gentlemen by
sight."

"I know my Lord Shaftesbury, and my Lord Grey by sight," I said, bowing
to each. They each inclined a little in return.

"And this is Mr. West," said my Lord.

This was a very busy-looking active little fellow, with bright dark
eyes. (He had the name of being an atheist, I learned afterwards.)

"Sit down, Mr. Mallock," said my Lord, pointing to a chair on my Lord
Shaftesbury's right. I did so. There was no servant in the room. The two
other men were presently made known to me as a Mr. Sheppard and a Mr.
Goodenough. I knew nothing of either of these two at this time.

Now it may seem that it was extraordinary bold of all these persons to
admit me, believing as they did, that I was on His Majesty's side, and
would reveal all to him; and it was, in one way, bold of them; yet it
was the more clever. For, as will appear, they said nothing to me at
present that could be taken hold of in any way; and yet they sent, or
rather thought they sent, to the King, false news that would help their
cause.

When he had discoursed for a little while on general matters, yet
drawing nearer ever to the point, my Lord Essex opened the engagement.

"That Mr. Rumbald," he said. "Do you know who he is, Mr. Mallock?"

"Why, he is a maltster, is he not?" I said.

"Well: he married a maltster's widow, who is dead now. But he is an
honest old Cromwellian--loyal enough to His Majesty--" (the gentlemen
all solemnly put hands to their hats)--"yet very greatly distressed at
the course things are taking."

"An old soldier?" I asked.

"Yes: he was a Colonel under Oliver."

Such was the opening; and after that we talked more freely, though not
so freely as, I doubt not, they had talked for an hour before I came. My
Lord Shaftesbury did not say a great deal; he had a quick discontented
look; but I think I satisfied him. He was in a very low condition at
this time--all but desperate--so strongly had the tide set against him
since my Lord Stafford's death and the reaction that followed it; and I
think he would have grasped at anything to further his fortunes: for
that was what he chiefly cared about. My Lord Essex did most of the
talking, and Mr. West; and I could see that they were shewing me off, as
a new capture, and one on whose treachery to them their hopes might
turn.

Now there were three or four matters on which they were very emphatic.
First, that no injury was intended to the King or the Duke of York; but
this they did not disclaim for themselves so much as for the disaffected
persons generally; as regards themselves they said little or nothing:
and from this I deduced that the King's life would certainly be aimed
at; and the more so, as they said what a pity it was that His Majesty's
guards were still doubled.

"It shews a lack of confidence in the people," said my Lord Essex.

(From that, then, I argued that an attempt was contemplated upon
Whitehall.)

The second thing that Mr. West was very emphatic upon was the need of
proceeding, if any reform were to be brought about, in a legal and
Parliamentary manner.

"Why does not His Majesty call another Parliament?" he added, "that at
least we may air our grievances? It is true enough that my Lord
Shaftesbury--" (here he bowed to my Lord who blinked in return)--"that
my Lord Shaftesbury found Parliament against him in the event; but he
does not complain of that. He hath at least been heard."

(From that I argued either that they thought they would be stronger in a
new Parliament, or that they contemplated acting in quite another
manner. I could not tell for certain which; but I supposed the latter.)

The third thing that Mr. Goodenough said, relating how he had heard it
from a Mr. Ferguson of Bristol, was that the West of England was in a
very discontented condition, and that His Majesty would do well to send
troops there.

Now I knew that his statement was tolerably true; and that therefore the
false part must be the second. The only conclusion I could draw was that
they wished troops to be withdrawn from London.

To all these things, however, I assented civilly, arguing a little, for
form's sake; but not too much.

       *       *       *       *       *

When at last we broke up, my Lord Essex again came with me to the door,
and carried me first, for an instant into the little parlour.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "we have had a pleasant evening, have we not?
But I need not tell you that our talk had best not be repeated. We have
said not a word that is disloyal to His Majesty: but even a little
fault-finding is apt to be misrepresented in these days."

I said that I understood him perfectly (which indeed I did); and nodded
very sagely.

"Let us meet again, then, Mr. Mallock--on that understanding. I have
some more friends I would wish you to meet; and whom I am sure you could
do good to. There is a quantity of discontent about."

I went to see Mr. Chiffinch the next day, and reported all that had
passed, as they had intended me to do. We drew up a little report which
was carried into effect: first, that no troops should be sent out of
London; but that they should be dispersed as much as possible within the
confines of the City; next that the guards at the gates of Whitehall
should be diminished by one half--(this, to give colour to the
malcontents' hope; and provoke them to action)--but the guards within
increased by the same amount, yet kept out of sight so much as was
possible; thirdly, that a rumour should be set about that the King would
call a Parliament within the year at latest; and this Mr. Chiffinch
promised to undertake (for a very great effect indeed can be produced on
popular opinion by those who know the value of false rumours); but that
His Majesty should be dissuaded from doing anything of the kind. Such
then was the result of that first meeting to which I was admitted; and
such more or less was our course of procedure all through the spring and
summer. This I have related in full, to serve as an example of our
method, because, since it was the first, I remember it very distinctly.
In this manner I used the information I gained for the King's benefit;
and, at the same time the conspirators were led to believe that I was
their tool, and no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

The next important incident fell in the beginning of the summer.

Now, in the meantime I had learned, from Mr. Chiffinch for the most
part, though there were some matters I was able rather to inform him
about, that there were two separate and distinct parties amongst the
conspirators. There were those who intended nothing but some kind of a
rising--scarcely more than an armed demonstration--and to this party
would belong such a man as my Lord Russell--if he were of them at all;
and there were those who meant a great deal more than this--who were
hoping, in fact so to excite their followers as to bring about the
King's death. But of these I found it very hard to get any names--and
quite impossible, so far, to obtain any positive proof at all. The Duke
of Monmouth, I knew, was of the moderate party; so, I thought then, was
my Lord Grey--but Mr. Algernon Sidney whom I met once or twice was of
the extreme side. But as to my Lord Shaftesbury, I knew nothing: he was
pretty silent always; and it was with regard to him most of all that we
desired evidence. It was this division of parties, no doubt, that
hindered any action; the moderates were for ever trying to drag back the
fanatics; and the fanatics to urge on the moderates; so that nothing was
done.

From my diaries I find that I spoke with my Lord Essex no less than
eight times between Christmas and July; I saw my Lord Russell only once
as I shall relate presently, but did not speak with him: the rest I met
now and again, but never all of them together. It was necessary, no
doubt, that they should be well drilled before they could be trusted
with me. Mr. Rumbald I met about four times, and my Lord Howard but
once. I think all this time they were wholly satisfied that I passed on
to Mr. Chiffinch what they told me, and nothing else; for he and I
usually contrived to carry out part at least of their recommendations.

I first began to learn something of my Lord Russell's position in the
matter in a meeting in July, in the house of the Mr. Sheppard (whom I
had met at Mr. West's), that was situated in Wapping; and I learned
something else too at the same time. My Lord Essex; came for me in his
coach that day, and himself carried me down. (I need not say that on
these occasions I carried always some pistol or other weapon with me
beside my sword, for I never knew when they might not find me out.)

Mr. Sheppard's house was in a little street, that was a _cul-de-sac_,
between the Garden Grounds, which was a great open space, and the Old
Stairs on the river. It was about eight o'clock, and was beginning to be
twilight when we came.

As we descended from the coach I noticed at a little distance away a
number of fellows, very rough looking, standing together watching us;
and I perceived that they saluted my Lord who returned the salute very
heartily. I did not much like that. Who were these folks, I wondered,
who knew my Lord?

The house was very ordinary within; it was flagged with stones that had
some kind of matting upon them: the entrance was all panelled; and, what
surprised me was that no servant was to be seen. Mr. Sheppard himself
opened the door to us when we knocked.

We did not speak at all as we came in; and my Lord led me straight
through into the parlour on the left that was full of tobacco-smoke.
This was a very good room, hung all round with tapestry, though of a
poorish quality, and, though it was not yet dark, the windows were
shuttered and barred. At the table sat half a dozen persons, of whom I
knew my Lord Shaftesbury at the head of the table as usual, and Mr.
Goodenough that sat with his back to the hearth. Between these two sat a
gentleman whom I knew to be my Lord Howard of Escrick, though I had
never spoken with him. He carried himself with a very high air, and was
the only man there dressed as if he were still in Westminster; the rest
were subdued, somewhat, in their appearance. My Lord Howard looked at me
with an intolerant kind of disdain, which my Lord Essex made haste to
cover by directing me to my place.

I thought that my Lord Shaftesbury seemed very heavy this evening. He
treated me with a silent kind of civility; and so, too, did he treat the
rest. His eyes wandered away sometimes as we talked, as if he were
thinking of something else. We spoke of nothing of any importance for a
time, for Mr. Sheppard was bringing in wine with his own hands, though I
saw a number of used glasses on the press which shewed me that the
company had been here some time already.

It would be not until after ten or twelve minutes that Mr. Sheppard was
deputed to open the affair on account of which I had been sent for.

"Now then, Sheppard," said my Lord Essex who sat on my right, "tell us
the news."

Mr. Sheppard pushed his glass forward and leaned his elbows on the
table. I could see that all that he said was directed principally at me.

"Well, my lords," he said, "I have very good news. You remember how I
told you that I was beginning to fear for the people down here--that
they would be provoked soon into some kind of a rising. They are still
not wholly pacified--" (here he shot a look at me, which he should not
have done)--"but I am doing my best to tell them that we have very good
hopes indeed that His Majesty will be persuaded to call a Parliament;
and I think they are beginning to believe me. I think we may say that
the danger is past."

"Why; what danger is that, Mr. Sheppard?" said I, very innocently.

"Why--a rising!" he said. "Has not my Lord Essex told you?"

"Ah! yes!" said I, "I had forgot." (This was wholly false. He had told
me once or twice at least that there was danger of this. This had been a
month ago; and his object had been to persuade me that they had been
telling the truth.)

"I saw some fellows as we came in," I said.

"Those are the malcontents," he said. "There are not more than a very
few now, who go about and brag."

I assented.

"By the way," said my Lord Essex to Shaftesbury who looked at him
heavily, "I spoke with my Lord Russell a week ago. You know my Lord
Russell, Mr. Mallock?"

I said that I did not.

"Well; I had hoped he would have been here to-night. But he is gone down
to the country--to Stratton--where he has his seat."

He talked a while longer of my Lord Russell; and I saw that he wished me
to believe that my Lord was of their party: whence I argued to myself
that was just what he was not; but that they wished to win him over for
the sake of his name, perhaps, and his known probity. (And, as the
event shewed, I was right in that conjecture.)

Two or three of them were still talking together in this strain, and
while I listened enough to tell me that it was nothing very important
that they said, I was observing my Lord Shaftesbury: and, upon my heart!
I was sorry for the man. Three years ago he was in the front of the
rising tide, in the full blast of popularity and power; he had so worked
upon the old Popish Plot and the mob, that he had all the movement with
him: His Majesty himself was afraid of him, and was forced to follow his
leading. Now he was fallen from all this; the Court-party had triumphed
because he had so overshot his mark, and here was he, in this poor
quarter, in the house of a man that would have been nothing to him five
years ago, forced to this very poor kind of conspiring for his last
hopes. He sat as if he knew all this himself: his eyes strayed about him
as we talked, and there were heavy pouches beneath them, and deep lines
at the corner of his nose and mouth. It was this man, thought I, who was
so largely responsible for the death of so many innocents--and all for
his own ambition!

Presently I heard His Grace of Monmouth spoken of. It was Mr. Sheppard
who spoke the name; and in an instant I was on the alert again. What he
said fell very pat with what I was thinking of my Lord Shaftesbury.

"I declare," cried Mr. Sheppard, once more talking at me very evidently,
"that His Grace of Monmouth breaks my heart. I was with his Grace a
fortnight ago. His loyalty and love for the King are overpowering. I had
heard"--(this was a very bold stroke of poor Mr. Sheppard)--"I had heard
that some villainous fellows had proposed to His Grace--oh! a great
while ago, in April, I think--that an assault should be made upon the
King; and that His Grace near killed one of them for it. Yet His Majesty
will scarce speak to him, so much he distrusts him."

This was all very pretty: and from it I argued that the Duke was deeper
in the affair than we had thought, and perhaps belonged even to the
extremest party, led, we supposed, chiefly by Mr. Sidney. But I murmured
that it was a shame that His Majesty treated him so; and while I was
listening to further eulogies on His Grace, a new thought came to me
which I determined to put into execution that very night; for I felt we
were not making any progress.

There was not much more conversation of any significance, and I was soon
able to carry out what I determined; for my Lord Essex when we broke
about half-past nine o'clock, again offered to take me home.

I said good-night very respectfully to the company; and followed him
into the coach.

For a while I said nothing, but appeared preoccupied; so that at last my
Lord clapped me on the knee and asked me if I ailed--which was what I
wished him to do.

"My Lord," said I, with an appearance of great openness, "I have a
confession to make."

"Well?" said he. "What is it?"

"I am disappointed," I said. "There is a deal of talk; and most
interesting talk; and all very loyal and respectful. But I had fancied
there was more behind."

"What do you mean?" asked he.

"Well:" I said. "If His Grace of Monmouth will do nothing, will none of
his friends do it for him?"

"Of what nature?" asked my Lord.

"My Lord," said I, "need I say more?"

He was silent for a while; and I could see how his mind was a trifle
bewildered. But he did presently exactly what I hoped he would do.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "you are right: there is more behind. And I
promise you you shall hear of it when the time comes. Is that enough?"


"That is enough, my Lord," said I. "I am content."

       *       *       *       *       *

I was with Mr. Chiffinch before the gates were shut for the night; and
this was the report I gave him.

"I have learned three things at least," I said, when he had bolted the
door, and drawn the hanging across it. "First that they are
contemplating a rising as soon as they can get their men together; and
that it will be from Wapping and thereabouts that the insurrectionists
will come. Next that His Grace of Monmouth is more deeply involved than
we had thought. And the third thing is, that I have persuaded my Lord
Essex that I can be trusted to be a good traitor, and to report
everything; but that if they do not commit more important falsehoods to
me, I shall lose heart with them. We may expect then that after a little
while I shall have more vital and significant lies told me, whence we
can arrive at the truth."

"Is that everything?" said he.

"Ah! there is one thing more. They are trying to entangle my Lord
Russell; and they think that they will succeed, and so do I; but at
present he will not be caught."



CHAPTER VIII


We are drawing nearer now to the heart of the conspiracy that was
forming little by little, as an abscess forms in the body of a sick man.
For two months more no great move was made. I was summoned now and again
to such meetings as those which I have described: and sometimes one man
was there and sometimes another. They were becoming less cautious with
me in this--since I had by now the names of nearly all the Londoners
involved: and Mr. Chiffinch had the names of the principal men in
Scotland and the provinces, especially in the West, with whom they were
concerting. They still fed me with lies from time to time, in small
points; and I gained a little knowledge from these as to what they
wished me to believe, and hence as to what was indeed the truth.

It was in October that the next meeting of importance took place--the
next, that is to say, to which I myself was admitted: and it was again
in Mr. Sheppard's house in Wapping. There were gathered there, for the
first time mostly all the principal gentlemen in the affair; and this
was one more sign of how reckless they were becoming that I was admitted
there at all. But I think it was because Mr. Chiffinch and I had been
very discreet and careful that they thought that they had me in hand,
and that I was somewhat of an innocent fool, and revealed no more than
what they wished.

Before I went there--for I went by water this time, in a private wherry,
to Wapping Old Stairs, I went first to Mr. Chiffinch to see if there
were any news for me.

"Why, yes," he said, when he had me alone, "there is a little matter I
would like you to find out about. The Duke of Monmouth was here with my
Lord Grey, a day or two ago: they all dined with Sir Thomas Armstrong:
and all three of them went round the posts and the guardroom, and saw
everything. Now what was that for?"

"Sir Thomas Armstrong?" said I in astonishment. "Why he is--"

I was about to say he was one of His Majesty's closest friends and evil
geniuses; but I stopped. There was no need.

The page smiled.

"Yes," he said. "Well; Mr. Mallock? If you can find out anything--"

"And the Duke too!" I said. "Well; I was right, was I not?" (For what I
had found out was true enough--that His Grace was far more deeply
involved than we had at first suspected. We had known that he was their
_protégé_, but not that he was so much in their counsel, and of one mind
with them.)

"His Grace will come to some disaster, I think," said Mr. Chiffinch very
tranquilly.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I came to Wapping Old Stairs it appeared that the watermen there
knew well enough what was forward; for while one ran down to help me
from the wherry, a number of others stood watching as if they knew what
I had come for; and all saluted me as I went up. At the head of the
stairs, I looked back, and two more wherries with a gentleman in each
were just coming in.

Mr. Sheppard himself opened the door to me, and appeared a little
confused, looking over his shoulder into the entrance-hall where two or
three gentlemen were just going into the great parlour on the left. I
could have sworn that one of them was the Duke, from the way he carried
himself. With him was another whom I thought I knew, but he was not
familiar to me. I appeared to notice nothing, but beat off the mud from
my boots.

"Mr. Mallock," said Mr. Sheppard, "they are not yet all come; and two or
three who are here have a little private business on another matter
first. Will you wait a little in another room?"

I assented immediately; and he took me through the hall into another
little parlour behind that in which the company was assembled.

"It will not be more than ten minutes," he said. "I will come for you
myself when they are done."

When he was gone again I observed the room. It had but one window, which
was shuttered; but it had two doors--the one by which I was come in, and
another, beyond the hearth, leading to the great parlour. This door was
closed.

Now it was of the greatest importance that I should hear what was
passing in the next room. I should learn more in five words spoken there
then, than in five hours when they were playing a part to me; and I had
no scruple whatever, considering what they were at, and how they were
using me, in learning by any means that were in my power what I wished
to know. Even from where I stood I could hear the murmur of talk; and it
was probable, it seemed to me, that if I laid my ear on the panel of the
door I should hear every word of it. But first I pulled out a chair and
set it by the table, with my hat and cane beside it. Then I went to the
door into the hall, which opened, fortunately, with its hinge nearer to
the hearth--(so that a man entering would not see immediately into that
part of the room in which I should be)--and beneath the door I slipped a
little sliver of wood from the wood-basket by the hearth, so that the
door would stick a little. Having done that I went on tip-toe to the
other door and put my ear to the panel. But I feared they would not say
anything very significant, with me so close.

Now it was a little while before I could distinguish which voice
belonged to what man. I got the Duke's at once; there was a lordly kind
of ring in it that could never be forgotten; and I got presently my Lord
Grey's voice; and then one with a drawl in it which I had never heard
before; and then one that had no special characteristic, but was a
little slow. These were the four whom I heard speak, besides Mr.
Sheppard once. The conversation I heard was somewhat as follows. I set
it all down on my way home.

The Duke said: "I am very pleased indeed that you are come after all, my
Lord. We understand by that you have put aside all suspicions; and that
is an encouragement."

The slow voice said; "I would do anything in my power, your Grace,
which was not against my conscience, to help on that cause of which you
have spoken; but I must confess--"

My Lord Grey said, sharply: "There, there! we understand, and are very
glad of it. The thing can be arranged without any treason at all, or any
injury to a soul. It is merely a demonstration--no more, upon my
honour."

The drawling voice said: "No more will be needed. His Grace and we two
went round everywhere. They are not like soldiers at all; they are
remiss in everything."

The Duke said: "You see, my Lord, it is exactly as I said. God knows we
would not injure a soul. I well know your Lordship's high principles."

The slow voice said: "Well, your Grace, so long as that is understood--I
shall be very happy to hear what the design may be."

Mr. Sheppard said: "One instant, my Lord--" Then he dropped his voice;
and I saw what he was at. I slipped back as quick as I could; drew out
the sliver of wood from beneath the other door, and sat down. Then I
heard his footstep outside.

When he came in, I was in the chair; but I rose.

"I beg pardon for keeping you, sir," he said: "there is just that trifle
of business, and no more. I am come to keep you company."

Well; I resigned myself to it with a good air; and we sat and talked
there of indifferent matters, or very nearly, for at least half an hour
longer. It was highly provoking to me, but it could not be helped--that
I should sit there with an affair of real importance proceeding in the
next room, and I placed so favourably for the hearing of it. However I
had gained something, though at present I did not know how much.

Suddenly Mr. Sheppard stood up; and I heard a door open and voices in
the entrance hall.

"You will excuse me, sir, an instant," he said. "I must see these
gentlemen out."

I bowed to him as I stood up and put myself in such a position that I
could get a good look into the hall as he went out; and fortune favoured
me, for there in the light of the pair of candles outside I caught a
plain sight of the plump and rather solemn face of my Lord Russell. It
was only for an instant; but that was enough; and at the same time I
heard the drawling voice of someone out of sight, bidding good-night to
others within the parlour. Then Mr. Sheppard shut the door behind him,
and I sat down again.

Well; I had gained something; and I was beginning to repeat to myself
what I had heard, for that is the best way of all to imprint it on the
memory; when Mr. Sheppard came in again and invited me to follow him.

"Who was that that spoke?" I said carelessly, "as you went out just now?
I can swear I know the voice."

He glanced sharply at me.

"That?" he said. "Oh! that must have been Sir Thomas Armstrong who is
just gone out."

       *       *       *       *       *

The parlour had no more than five men in it when we entered; and one
seemed about to take his leave. That one was His Grace of Monmouth. I
was a little astonished that they let me see him there, though I
understood presently why it was so. He turned to me very friendly, while
I was observing the two others I did not know--one of whom, Mr.
Ferguson, was dressed as a minister.

"Why, Mr. Mallock," he said, "you come as I go!"

He recognized me a shade too swiftly. That shewed me that they had been
speaking of me to him.

I said something civil; and then I saw that he was to say the piece they
had just taught him; for that he was not sharp enough to be trusted long
in the room with me.

"I hear you are all consulting," said he, "how to keep the peace. Well;
I have given my counsel; and my Lord Essex here knows what I wish. I
would I could stay, gentlemen; but that cannot be done."

There was a loyal and grateful murmur from the others. Indeed he looked
a prince, every inch of him. He took his leave with a superb courtesy,
giving his hand to each; and each bowed over it very low. I was not sure
but that Mr. Sheppard did not kiss it. For myself, I kissed it outright.
While I did so, I could have sworn that Mr. Sheppard said something
very swiftly in the ear of my Lord Essex.

Now I was wondering why they had kept me from my Lord Russell. His
probity was known well enough; and if they had wished to reassure me
they could have done no better than tell me he was one of them; and
then, of a sudden I recollected that to reassure me was the very last
thing they wished; on the contrary, they wished to hold me tight,
betraying only what they wished me to betray, until they were ready for
their final stroke. And, just as I had arrived at that, when we were all
sat down, my Lord Essex again dumfoundered me.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "I wish to tell you, now we are in private, that
my Lord Russell has been here, as well as His Grace and Sir Thomas
Armstrong. You can tell from the presence of those three what our chief
difficulty will be; for not one of them will hear of even the danger of
any injury to His Majesty or the Duke of York. His Grace of Monmouth, of
course, had to be consulted on one or two points; and he brought those
other two with him to hear what we had to say. Well; I think we have
satisfied them; though I fear, later, that they will not approve of our
methods. But we did not wish my Lord Russell to see you until we had
done talking to him; for fear that he might know something of your
disaffection. We have satisfied him--and, what is more important--His
Grace too, for the present; and they will not interfere with us."

Now this speech was an exceedingly ingenious one. Before he had done
speaking I understood that Mr. Sheppard had suspected that I had seen my
Lord Russell, and that that was why they were so open with me. But the
rest of the speech was very shrewd indeed; and I think it might have
deceived me, if I had not learned by the conversation that it was His
Grace who was trying to reassure my Lord, and no one that was trying to
reassure His Grace. But the web was so well woven that for the moment I
could not see through it all; though I understood it all presently, when
I had had a little time to think. For the instant, however, I saw one
safe answer that I could make.

"I am obliged to your Lordship for telling me," I said, "and I trust
from what you have said that it is but a preliminary to a little more
information. Your Lordship told me in July that there would be more news
for me presently."

He could not resist a glance at my Lord Grey--as if in triumph at his
success.

"That is what we are met for," he said; and then--"Why, Mr. Mallock, I
have not made these other gentlemen known to you."

They turned out to be--on the right of my Lord, the minister, Mr.
Ferguson--he who had been spoken of before as an informant from Bristol;
and a Colonel Rumsey--an old Cromwellian like the maltster of
Hoddesdon--who sat next to Mr. Ferguson. We saluted one another; and
then the affair began.

"Mr. Mallock," said my Lord, "the first piece of news is a little
disappointing. It is that my Lord Shaftesbury is ill. It is not at all
grave; but he is confined to his bed; and that throws back some of our
designs."

(I made a proper answer of regret; and considered what was likely to be
the truth. At the moment I could not see what this would be.)

"The next piece of news I have, gentlemen," went on my Lord--(for I
think he thought he appeared to be speaking too much at me)--"is that
owing to my Lord Shaftesbury's illness we must relinquish all thoughts
of any demonstration in London. That, Mr. Mallock, was what we had hoped
to be able to do in a week or two from now. Well; that is impossible.
For the rest, Mr. Ferguson had better tell us."

This gentleman I took to be somewhat of an ass by his appearance and
manner; but I am not sure he was not the cleverest liar of them all. He
spoke with a strong Scotch accent, and an appearance of shy sheepiness,
and therefore with an air too of extraordinary truth. He spoke, too, at
great length, as if he were in his pulpit; and my Lord Essex yawned
behind his hand once or twice.

Briefly put--Mr. Ferguson's report was as follows:

The discontent in the West was rising to a climax; and if a much longer
delay were made, real danger might follow. It was sadly disconcerting,
therefore, to him to hear that there was any hitch in the London
designs: for the promise that he had given to some of the leaders in the
West (whose names, he said, with an appearance of a stupid boorish kind
of cunning, "had best not be said even here") was that a demonstration
should be made simultaneously both here, in the West, and in Scot--

Here he interrupted himself sharply; and I saw that he had made a
blunder. But he covered it so admirably, that if I had not previously
known that discontent was seething among the Covenanters, I am sure I
should have suspected nothing.

"In Scotland," said he, "we must look for nothing. They are forever
promising and not performing--though I say it of my own countrymen. Any
demonstration there would surely be a failure."

It was admirably done; and it was then that I perceived what an actor
the man was.

Well; when he had done, we talked over it a while. I professed myself
very well satisfied with what I had heard; and I put forward an opinion
that it would be far better to delay no longer in the West. A
demonstration there might lead to alarm here; troops might be withdrawn
here, and relieve the pressure, and thus make possible a further
demonstration in London. I spoke, I think, with some eloquence,
remembering however that they all looked on me with the same confidence
that I had in them--and no more: that is, that they believed me a liar.
My observations were received with applause, very well delivered.

It was growing pretty late by the time we had done; yet before we went I
had learned one more piece of news, partly through a little trap I laid,
and partly through my Lord Essex's clumsiness.

"Well," said I, "I must be getting homewards, my Lords. I wish my Lord
Shaftesbury had been here. Could I see his Lordship, do you think?--if I
were to call at his town house? There is a very particular matter--"

My Lord Essex started a little. He was tired and overanxious, I think,
with the continual part that he had to play before me; yet it was the
first slip he made.

"My Lord is out of town--" he said. Then he paused. "You could not tell
us, I suppose--"

I affected indifference. (Was my Lord out of town, I wondered?)

"Why; it is nothing," I said.

My Lord exchanged a look with Mr. Sheppard; and made his second mistake.

"I saw my Lord only--last week," he said suddenly. "He wishes his
address to be private for the present; but--

"Do not trouble yourself, my Lord," I said. "I assure you it has nothing
to do with our business here."

I repeated this, I think, with a good enough manner to persuade them
that what I said was true; and presently afterwards took my leave.

As I sat in the wherry that took me back to the Privy Stairs--(I had
announced of course, "to the Temple")--I was preparing in my mind what I
should say. I had learned a considerable amount for an evening; for the
conversation I had overheard, added to what Mr. Chiffinch had told me,
added to what they had all said in the parlour, interpreted and fitted
together, was pretty significant.

These were the points I arranged.

First, that the visit of the Duke, my Lord Grey and Sir Thomas Armstrong
to Whitehall was to see in what state the guards were in case of a
surprise; and the conclusion they had arrived at was they "were not like
soldiers at all" but "very remiss."

Second, that a "demonstration" in London was very imminent.

Third, that they had won over my Lord Russell enough at least to gain
the help that his name would give.

Fourth, I was confirmed in what Mr. Chiffinch had told me as to the
probability of a rising in Scotland.

Fifth, I was confirmed in my view that the Duke was very deeply
involved.

Sixth, it appeared to me exceedingly probable that my Lord Shaftesbury
was still in town, though not in his own house: and, all things
considered, it was very nearly certain that he was hidden in Wapping. He
was, probably also, a little ill, or he would have been at our meeting
to-night.

One conclusion then, immediate and pressing, came out of all this; that
an assault on Whitehall and an attack on the King's person was in urgent
contemplation.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then, as we went up under the stars, my waterman and I, one of those
moods came upon me which come on all men in such stress as I was; and I
appeared to myself, for the time, to be worlds away from all this
sedition and passion and fever. The little affairs of men which they
thought so great seemed to me in that hour very little and wicked--like
the scheming of naughty children, or the quarrels and spites of efts in
a muddy pond. In that hour my whole heart grew sick at this miserable
murderous pother in the midst of which my duty seemed to lie; and
yearned instead to those things that are great indeed--the love of the
maid who had promised herself to me, and the Love of God that should
make us one. My religion--though I am a little ashamed to confess
it--had been very little to me lately: I had heard mass, indeed,
usually, on Sundays, in one of the privileged chapels, and had confessed
myself at Easter and once since, to one of the Capuchins, and received
Communion; yet, for the rest it had largely been blotted out by these
hot absorbing affairs in which I found myself. But, in that hour (for
the tide was beginning to set against us)--it came back on me like a
breeze in a stifling room. I thought of that cleanly passionless life I
had led as a novice, and of that no less cleanly, though perhaps less
supernatural life, that should one day be mine and Dolly's--and these
politics and these plottings and this listening at doors, and this
elaborate lying--all blew off from me like a cloud.

When we were yet twenty yards from the Privy Stairs a wherry shot past
us, with no light burning. There was but one passenger in it, whom I
knew well enough, though I feigned to see nothing; and once more my
sickness came on me, that it was for a King like this, slipping out on
some shameful pleasure, that I so toiled and endangered myself.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I had reported all to Mr. Chiffinch, sitting back weary in my
chair, yet knowing that I must go through with the work to which I had
set my hand, he remained silent.

"Well?" I said. "Am I wrong in any point?"

"Why no," he said. "Your information tallies perfectly with all I know,
and has increased the sum very much. For example, I had no idea where my
Lord Shaftesbury was. I have no doubt whatever, from what you say, that
he is in Wapping."

"Will you send and take him there?" I asked.

"No," he said shortly. "Leave him alone. We failed last time we took
him. And he can do no great harm there. Plainly too, he is at the
waterside that he may escape if there is need. I shall set spies there;
and no more."

"What is to be done then? Double the guards again?"

"Why that of course," said he.

"And what else?" I asked; for I could see that he had not said all.

"A counterstroke," he said. "But of what kind? You say the rising will
be pretty soon."

"I do not suppose for a week or two at the most. They were decided, I am
sure; but no more."

Suddenly the man slapped his leg; and his eyes grew little with his
smile.

"I have it for sure," he said. "It will be for the seventeenth of
November. That is the popular date. Queen Bess and Dangerfield and the
rest."

"But what can you do?"

"Why," said he, "forbid by proclamation all processions or bonfires on
that day. Then they cannot even begin to gather."

       *       *       *       *       *

He proved right in every particular. The proclamation was issued, and
met their intended assault to the very moment, as we learned afterwards,
besides frightening the leaders lest their intention had been
discovered: and the next night came one of the spies whom Mr. Chiffinch
had sent down to Wapping, to say that my Lord Shaftesbury had slipped
away and taken boat for Holland.



CHAPTER IX


Now indeed the fear grew imminent. I had thought that once my Lord
Shaftesbury was gone abroad, one of two things would happen--either that
the whole movement would collapse, or that the leaders would be arrested
forthwith. But Mr. Chiffinch was sharper than I this time; and said No
to both.

"No," said he, sitting like a Judge, with his fingers together, on the
morning after my Lord Shaftesbury's evasion. "The feeling is far too
strong to fall away all of a sudden. I dare predict just the contrary,
that, now that the coolest of them all is gone--for he dare not come
back again--the hot-heads will take the lead; and that means the
sharpest peril we have yet encountered. This time they will not stop at
a demonstration; indeed I doubt if they could raise one successfully;
they will aim direct at the person of the King. It is their only hope
left."

"Then why not take them before they can do any mischief?" I asked.

"First, Mr. Mallock," he said, "because we have not enough positive
evidence--at any rate not enough to hang them all; and next we must
catch the small fry--the desperate little ones who will themselves
attempt the killing. It is now that I should be ready for a visit from
your friend Rumbald, if I were you. They can have no suspicion that you
have done anything but betray them in the way they intended: they have a
great weapon, they think, in you, to continue carrying false news. Now,
Mr. Mallock, is the very time come of which you once spoke to me--the
climax, when they will feign to reveal everything to you, and then make
their last stroke. You have seen my Lord Essex again?"

"Not a sight of him. I had only a very guarded note, two days ago, but
very friendly: saying that the designs were fallen through for the
present."

"Precisely what I have been saying," observed Mr. Chiffinch. "No, Mr.
Mallock, you must not stir from town. I am sorry for your pretty cousin,
and Christmas, and the rest: but you see for yourself that we must leave
no loophole unguarded. His Majesty must not die out of his bed, if we
can help it."

There, then, I was nailed until more should happen. I dared not ask my
cousins to come to town; for God only knew what mischief my Cousin Tom
might not play; and I had not eyes on both sides of my head at once. I
wrote only to Dolly; and said that once more I was disappointed; but
that I would most certainly see her soon, if I had to ride two nights
running, from town and back.


I accomplished this, but not until Christmas was well over, and indeed
Lent begun. During those weeks, certainly nothing of any importance
happened to me, though my Lord Essex kept me in touch with him, and I
even was present at one very dismal meeting with him and Mr. Ferguson,
when it was deplored, in my presence, that the "demonstration"--as they
still called it--of the seventeenth of November had been so adroitly
prevented; and my Lord Shaftesbury's death--which had taken place
(chiefly, I think, from disappointment) that very week--was spoken of
with a certain relief. I think they were pleased to have matters
entirely in their own hands now. However they proposed no immediate
action, which more than ever persuaded me that this was what they
intended. Yet the days went by: and no more news came, either from them
or from Mr. Chiffinch--so I took affairs into my own hands, and one
night, before the gates of the City were shut went down to Hare Street
with a couple of men, leaving James at home, for I could trust him
better than any other man.

Now I need not relate all that passed at Hare Street; for every lover
knows how sweet was that day to me. I had seen her not at all for more
than a year--(one year of those three that were to pass!)--and though we
had written often to one another, whenever we could get a letter taken,
yet the letters had done no more than increase my thirst. I think she
was dearer to me than ever; she was a shade paler and more grave, and I
knew what it was that had made her so, for I had told her very plainly
indeed that I was in peril and that she must pray much for me. My Cousin
Tom was friendly enough, though I saw he was no more reconciled in his
heart to our affair than he had been at the beginning; but I guessed
nothing whatever of what he was contemplating. (However perhaps he was
not contemplating it then, for he did not attempt it till much later.)
Yet he was pretty reasonable, and interrupted us no more than was
necessary; so we had that day to ourselves, until night fell, and I must
ride again. I was so weary that night, though refreshed in my spirit,
that I think I drowsed a little on my horse, and thought that I stood
again at the gate of the yard with Dolly, bareheaded in spite of the
cold, holding the lantern to help us to mount.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was still brooding all the way up Fleet Street, and even to my own
door; until I saw James standing there; and at the sight of him I knew
that something was fallen out.

I said nothing, but nodded at him only, as a master may, but he
understood that he was to follow upstairs. There, in my chamber I faced
him.

"Well?" said I. "What is it?"

"Sir," he said, "a fellow came last night and seemed much put out when I
told him you were out of town."

"What sort of a fellow was he?" said I.

"He was a clean-shaven man, sir, rather red in the face, with reddish
hair turning grey on his temples."

"Heavily built?"

"Yes, sir."

"Well; what did he say?"

"He said that you would know what affair he was come about--that it was
very urgent; and that he could not stay in town beyond noon to-day. He
said, sir, that he was to be found till then at the _Mitre_ without
Aldgate."

Well; that was enough for me. But I did not relish the prospect of no
sleep again; for I cannot trust my wits when I have not slept my seven
or eight hours. But there was no help for it.

"James," said I, "bring my morning up here at once, with some meat too.
I may not be able to dine to-day, or not till late. When you have
brought it I shall have a letter ready, for Mr. Chiffinch. That you must
take yourself. Then return here, and pack a pair of valises, with a suit
in them for yourself. Have two horses ready at eleven o'clock: you must
come with me, and no one else. I do not know how long we may be away.
You understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"Very well. I must get some sleep if I can before eleven."

Then a thought came to me. If Rumbald must be gone from town by noon,
would he not likely want me to go with him?

"Wait," I said. "I do not know this man very well; but I will tell you
that his name is Rumbald and that he lives at the Rye, near Hoddesdon.
You had best not come with me. But do all else as I have said; but you
must ride by yourself at eleven, to Hoddesdon; and put up at the inn
there--I forget its name, but the largest there, if there be more than
one. Remain there until you hear from me again: I may want a courier. Do
not go a hundred yards from the inn on any account; and do not seem to
know me, unless I speak to you first. You may see me, or you may not. I
know nothing till I have seen Rumbald. If you do not hear of me before
ten o'clock to-night, you can go to bed, and return here in the morning.
I will communicate with you by to-morrow night at latest. If I do not,
go to Mr. Chiffinch yourself and tell him."

My mind was working at that swift feverish speed which weariness
sometimes will give. I was amazed afterwards at my own foresight, for
there was very little evidence of what was intended; and yet there had
come upon me, as in an illumination, that the time for which we had
waited so long was arrived at last. I do not see how I could have
guessed more than I did; neither do I now see how I guessed so much.

My letter to Mr. Chiffinch was not long. It ran as follows:

"Rumbald hath been to see me; and bids me be with him, if I can, by noon
to-day at the _Mitre_, without Aldgate. I know no more than that; but I
am making ready to go down with him to the Rye at Hoddesdon, if he
should want me there. I think that something is intended, if we are
right in our conjectures. I shall have my man at the inn in Hoddesdon.
You must send no one else for fear of alarming them, unless my man comes
to you to-morrow to tell you that he does not know where I am. Is His
Majesty still at Newmarket? If so, when does he purpose to return? Which
road will he come by? Send an answer back by my man who bears this.

"R.M."

Well; that was all that I could do. I gave the letter to James; telling
him not to awaken me with the answer till he came at eleven o'clock; and
after eating a good meal, I went to my bed and fell sound asleep; and it
seemed scarcely five minutes, before James came knocking, with Mr.
Chiffinch's answer. I sat up on my bed and read it--my mind still
swimming with sleep.

"_Prospere procede_!" it ran. "I will observe all that you say. The King
and His Royal Highness are together at Newmarket. They purpose to return
on a Saturday, as the King usually does; but he hath not yet sent to say
whether it will be to-morrow, the 18th or the 25th. I shall hear by
night, no doubt. Neither do I know the road by which they may come."

I read it through twice; then I tore it into fragments and gave them to
James.

"Burn all these," I said. "Are the horses ready?"

"Yes, sir," said James.

Undoubtedly my sleep had refreshed me; for by the time that I rode up to
the _Mitre_ without Aldgate, I was awake with a kind of clear-headedness
that astonished me. It appeared to me that I had thought out every
contingency. I had with me a little valise, ready for the country, if
need be; yet I could return to my lodgings without remark. James was
already on his way to Hoddesdon, and would be there if I needed him. No
harm was done if my conjectures were at fault; I had left no loophole
that I could see, if they were not. It was with a tolerably contented
heart, in spite of the dangers I foresaw--(for I think these gave spice
to my adventure)--that I rode up to the _Mitre_, and saw Mr. Rumbald
himself standing astraddle in the doorway.

I must confess however that the sight of him gave me a little check. He
appeared to me more truculent than I had ever seen him. He had his hands
behind him, with a great whip in them; he hardly smiled to me, but
nodded only, fixing his fierce eyes on my face. He had, more than I had
ever noticed it before, that hard fanatic look of the Puritan. After
all, I reflected, this maltster had commanded a troop under Cromwell at
Naseby. His manner was very different from when I had last seen him; he
appeared to me as if desperate.

However, I think I shewed nothing of what I felt. I saluted him easily,
and swung myself off my horse. He had gone into the house at my
approach; and I followed him straight through into a little parlour to
which, it seemed, he had particular access, for he turned a key in the
door as he went in. When I was in, after him, and the door was shut, he
turned to me, with a very stern look.

"Well, Mr. Mallock?" he said. "I see you are come ready for a ride."

"Yes," I said. "I had your message."

He nodded. Then he came a little closer, looking at me with his fierce
eyes.

"You understand what is forward?"

"I understand enough," said I.

"That is very good then. We will ride at once."

As we came out, a couple of men--one of them I noticed in particular,
dressed as a workman--(I set him down for a carpenter or some such
thing)--made as though they would speak to us; but Rumbald waved his
hand at them sharply, as if to hold them off. I could see that he was
displeased. I said nothing, but I marked the man closely: he was a
little fellow, that looked ill. Mr. Rumbald's horse was already there;
and mine was being held still by the ostler into whose hands I had given
him. We mounted without another word; and rode away.

I think we did not speak one word at all till we were out from town.
Such was his mood, and such therefore I imitated. He rode like a
soldier, sitting easily and squarely in his saddle; and the more I
observed him and thought of him, the less I liked my business. It was
wonderful how some emotion had driven up the power that lay in him. All
that genial hail-fellow manner was gone completely.

When we were clear of town he spoke at last.

"This is a very grave business, sir," he said. "We had best not speak of
it till we are home. Have you no servants?"

He spoke so naturally of my servants that I saw he was astonished I had
none. I had very little time to think what I should answer; it appeared
to me that I had best be open.

"Yes," I said. "My man is gone on to Hoddesdon to await me there. I
thought it was best he should not ride with us."

He looked at me with a peculiar expression that I could not understand;
but only for an instant. Then he nodded, and turned his stern face again
over his horse's ears.

My moods were very various as I rode on. Now I felt as a sheep being led
to the slaughter; now as an adventurer on a quest; and, again, of a
sudden there would sweep over me a great anxiety as to His Majesty's
safety. The thought of Dolly, too, came upon me continually and affected
me now in this way, now in that. Now I longed to be free and safe back
at Hare Street; now I knew that I could never look her in the face again
if I evaded my plain duty. One thing I can say, however, from my heart,
and that is that never for an instant did I seriously consider any
evasion. It was all in the course that I had chosen--to "serve the
King." Well; I must do so now, wherever it led me. What, however,
greatly added to the horror of my position was that I knew that this
strong fellow at my side thought me to be a traitor to himself and was
using that knowledge only for his own ends. He would surely be ruthless
if he found I had served my turn; and here was I, riding to his house,
and only two men in the world knew whither I was gone.

Rumbald had already dined; and thought not at all of me. We drew rein
therefore, nowhere; but rode straight on, through village and country
alike--now ambling for a little, once or twice cantering, and then
walking again when the way had holes in it. So we passed through
Totteridge and Barnet and Enfield Chase and Wood Green, and came at last
to Broxbourne where the roads forked, and we turned down to the right.
It was terrible that ride--all in silence; once or twice I had attempted
a general observation; but he answered so shortly that I tried no more;
and I am not ashamed to say that I committed myself again and again to
the tuition of Our Lady of Good Counsel whose picture I had venerated in
Rome. Indeed, it was counsel that I needed.

I did not know precisely where was the Rye, nor what it was like; for I
had avoided the place, of design. I supposed it only a little place,
perhaps in a village. I was a trifle disconcerted therefore when, as we
crossed the Lea by a wooden bridge, he pointed with his whip, in
silence, to a very solid-looking house that even had battlemented
roofs--not two hundred yards away, to the left of the road. There was no
other building that I could see, except the roofs of an outhouse or two,
and suchlike. However, I nodded, and said nothing. No words were best:
in silence we rode on over the bridge, and beyond; and in silence we
turned in through a gateway, and up to the house, crossing a moat as we
went.

Indeed, now I was astonished more than ever at the house. It was liker a
castle. There was an arched entrance, very solid, all of brick, with the
teeth even of a portcullis shewing. An old man came out of a door on our
right, as our hoofs rang out; but he made no sign or salute; he took our
horses' heads as we dismounted, and I heard him presently leading them
away.

Still without speaking, the Colonel led me through the little guard-room
on the right, hung round with old weapons of the Civil War, and up a
staircase at the further end. At the head of the staircase a door was
open on the right, and I saw a bed within; but we went up a couple more
steps on the left, and came out into the principal living-room of the
house.

It was a very good chamber, this, panelled about eight feet up the
walls, with the bricks shewing above, but whitewashed. A hearth was on
the right; a couple of windows in the wall opposite, and another door
beyond the hearth. The furniture was very plain but very good: a great
table stood under the windows with three or four chairs about it. The
walls seemed immensely strong and well-built; and, though the place
could not stand out for above an hour or two against guns, in the old
days it could have faced a little siege of men-at-arms, very well.

Rumbald, when he had seen me shut the door behind me, went across to the
table and put down his whip upon it.

"Sit down, sir," he said. "Here is my little stronghold."

He said it with a grim kind of geniality, at which I did not know
whether to be encouraged or not: I did as he told me, and looked about
me with as easy an air as I could muster.

"A little stronghold indeed," I said.

He paid no attention.

"Now, sir," he said, "we have not very much time. Supper will be up in
half in hour; we had best have our talk first, and then you may send for
your servant. Old Alick will find him out."

"With all my heart," I said, wondering that he made so much of my
servant.

He sat down suddenly, and looked at me very heavily and penetratingly.

"Sir," he said, "you are going to hear the truth at last, I said we had
not much time. Well; we have not."

"Then let me have the truth quickly," I said.

He took his eyes from my face. I was glad of that; as I did not greatly
like his regard. What, thought I, if I be alone with a madman?

"Well, sir," he said, "we are driven desperate, as you may have guessed.
I say, we; for you have identified yourself with our cause a hundred
times over. My Lord Shaftesbury is gone; my Lord Essex is hanging back.
Well; but those are not all. We have other men besides those that have
been urged on and urged on, and now cannot be restrained. I have tried
to restrain them myself"--(here he gulped in his throat: lying was not
very easy to this man, I think)--"and I have failed. Well, sir, I must
trust you more than I have ever trusted you before."

Again he stopped.

Then all came out with a rush.

"Not half a mile from here," said he, "along the Newmarket road there be
twenty men, with blunderbusses and other arms, waiting for His Majesty
and the Duke, who will come to-morrow."

"But how do you know?" cried I--all bewildered for the instant.

His head shook with passion.

"Listen," said he. "We have had certain information that they come this
way--Why, do you think we have not--" (again he broke off; but I knew
well enough what he would have said!) "I tell you we know it. The King
is not lying at Royston, to-night. He comes by this road to-morrow. Now
then, sir--what do you say to that?"

My mind was still all in a whirl. I had looked for sudden danger, but
not so sudden as this. Half a dozen questions flashed before me. I put
the first into words:

"Why have you told me?" I cried.

His face contracted suddenly. (It was growing very dark by now, and we
had no candles. The muscles of his face stood out like cords.)

"Not so loud!" said he; and then: "Well, are you not one of us? You are
pledged very deeply, sir; I tell you."

Then came the blessed relief. For the first moment, so genuine appeared
his passion, I had believed him; and that the ambushment was there, as
he had said. Then, like a train of gunpowder, light ran along my mind
and I understood that it was the same game still that they were playing
with me; that there was no ambushment ready; that they had indeed fixed
upon this journey of the King's; but that they were unprepared and
desired delay. His anxiety about my servant; his evident displeasure and
impatience; his sending for me at all when he must have known over and
over again that I was not of his party--each detail fitted in like a
puzzle. And yet I must not shew a sign of it!

I hid my face in my hands for a moment, to think what I could answer.
Then I looked up.

"Mr. Rumbald," said I, "you are right. I am too deeply pledged. Tell me
what I am to do. It is sink or swim with me now."

He believed, of course, that I was lying; and so I was, but not as he
thought. He believed that he had gained his point; and the relief of
that thought melted him. He believed, that is, that I should presently
make an excuse to get hold of my servant and send him off to delay the
King's coming. Then, I suppose, he saw the one flaw in his design; and
he strove, very pitifully, to put it right.

"One more thing, Mr. Mallock," said he, "this is not the only party that
waits for him. There is another on the Royston road, among the downs
near Barkway. They will catch him whichever way he comes."

I nodded.

"I had supposed so," I said; for I did not wish to confuse him further.

"Well," said he, "why I have sent for you is that you may help me here.
There may be more guards with the King than we think for. It may come to
a fight; and even a siege here--if they come this way. We must be ready
to defend this place for a little."

It was, indeed, pitiful to see how poor he was as an actor. His
sternness was all gone, or very nearly: he babbled freely and
drunkenly--walking up and down the chamber, like a restless beast. He
told me point after point that he need not--even their very code--how
"swan-quills" and "goose-quills" and "crow-quills" stood for
blunderbusses and muskets and pistols; and "sand and ink" for powder and
balls. It was, as I say, pitiful to see him, now that his anxiety was
over, and he had me, as he thought, in his toils. It was a very strange
nature that he had altogether;--this old Cromwellian and Puritan--and I
am not sure to this day whether he were not in good faith in his
murderous designs. I thought of these things, even at this moment; and
wondered what he would do if he knew the truth.

At supper he fell silent again, and even morose; and I think it
possible he may have had some suspicions of me; for he suspected
everyone, I think. But he brightened wonderfully when I said with a very
innocent air that I would like my servant to be fetched, and that I
would give him his instructions and send him back to London, for that I
did not wish to embroil him in this matter.

"Why, certainly, Mr. Mallock," he said, "it is what I wish. I trust you
utterly, as you see. You shall see him where you will."

He turned to his old man who came in at that instant, and bade him fetch
Mr. Mallock's servant from Hoddesdon. I described him to Alick, and
scribbled a note that would bring him. Then we fell to the same kind of
talking again.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was eight o'clock, pretty well, by the time that James came to the
Rye. I had determined to see him out of doors where none could hear us;
and before eight I was walking up and down in the dark between the gate
and the house, talking to my host. When the two men came through the
gate, Rumbald was very particular to leave me immediately, that I might,
as he thought, send my man to Newmarket to put off the King's coming;
and have no interruption.

"I will leave you," said he. "You shall see how much I trust you."

I waited till he was gone in and the door shut. Then I took James apart
into a little walled garden that I had noticed as I came in, where we
could not by any chance be overheard. Even then too I spoke in a very
small whisper.

"James," said I, "go back to Hoddesdon; and get a fresh horse. Leave all
luggage behind and ride as light as you can, for you must go straight to
Newmarket; and be there before six o'clock, at any cost. Go straight to
the King's lodgings, and ask for any of Mr. Chiffinch's men that are
there, whom you know. Do you know of any who are there?"

"Yes, sir," whispered James; and he named one.

"Very good. With him you must go straight to His Majesty; and have him
awakened if need be. Tell him that you come from me--Mr. Chiffinch's
men will support you in that. Tell His Majesty that if he values his
life he must return to town to-morrow--and not sleep anywhere on the
way: and that the Duke of York must come with him. Tell him that there
is no fear whatever if he comes at once; but that there is every fear if
he delays. He had best come, too, by this road and not by Royston. You
understand?"

"Yes, sir."

"I shall remain here until to-morrow night at the earliest. If I am not
at home by Sunday night, go to Mr. Chiffinch, as I told you this
morning. Is all clear?"

"Yes, sir."

"Then go at once. Spare no horses or expense. Good-night, James."

"Good-night, sir."

I watched him out of the gate. Then I turned and went back to the house.



CHAPTER X


It was a strange night and day that followed. On the one side my host
found it hard, I think, to maintain the story he had told me, in action;
for, in accordance with his tale, he had to bear himself as though he
expected before nightfall the assassination of the King and His Royal
Highness half a mile away, and the rush of the murderers to his house
for shelter. On my side, it was scarcely less hard, for I knew nothing
of how my man James had fared, or whether or no His Majesty would act
upon my message. I guessed, however, that he would, if only my man got
there; for Chiffinch's men (who now followed him everywhere) would be as
eager as I that no danger should come to him.

My plans therefore were more secure than Rumbald's; since I knew, either
that His Majesty would come, and no harm done, or that, merely, he would
not come. In the latter case Rumbald would be certified that I had done
as he thought I would; and would, no doubt, let me go peacefully, to use
me again later in the same manner, if occasion rose. For myself, then, I
intended after nightfall at the latest to ride back to London and report
all that had passed; and, if the King had not come, to lay all in Mr.
Chiffinch's hands for his further protection.

I was left a good deal to myself during the morning--Mr. Rumbald's
powers of dissimulation being, I think, less than his desire for them;
and I did not quarrel with that. I was very restless myself, and spent a
good deal of time in examining the house and the old arms, used no
doubt, forty years ago in the Civil War, that were hung up everywhere.
Within, as well as without, it was liker an arsenal or a barracks, than
a dwelling-house. Its lonely situation too, and its strength, made it a
very suitable place for such a design as that which its owner had for
it. The great chamber, at the head of the stairs, and over the archway,
where we had our food, was no doubt the room where the conspirators had
held their meetings.

A little before eleven o'clock, as I was walking in the open space
between the house and the gate, I saw a fellow look in suddenly from the
road, and then was away again. Every movement perturbed me, as may be
imagined in such suspense; yet anything was better than ignorance, and I
called out to let him see that I had observed him. So he came forward
again; and I saw him to be the little carpenter, or what not, that had
wished to speak to Rumbald yesterday at the inn.

He saluted me very properly.

"I beg your pardon, sir," said he, "but is Mr. Rumbald within?"

Now I had seen Mr. Rumbald, not ten minutes ago, slip back into the
house from the outhouses where he had pretended to go upon some
preparation or other for the reception of the assassins this evening;
but he had not known that I saw him.

"He is very busy at present," said I. "Cannot I do your business for
you?"

(I tried to look as if I knew more than I did.)

"Why, sir," he said, "I think not."

He seemed, I thought, in a very pitiable state. (I learned some months
later that he was come down expressly to dissuade Rumbald from any
attempt at that time; but I did not know that then.) Here, only, thought
I, is one of the chicken-hearted ones. I determined to play upon his
fears, if I could, and at the same time, perhaps, upon his hopes.

"I think I can, however," I said. "You would be out of the business, if
you could, would you not?"

He turned so white that I thought he would have fallen. I saw that my
shot had told; but it was not a hard one to make.

"Hold up, man," I said. "Why, what do you suppose I am here for?"

"What business, sir?" he said. "I do not know what you mean."

I smiled; so that he could see me do it.

"Very good, then," I said. "I will leave you to Mr. Rumbald;" and I
made as if I would pass on.

"Sir," he said, "can you give me any assurance?... I am terrified." And
indeed he looked it; so I supposed that he thought that the attempt was
indeed to be made to-day. I determined on a bold stroke.

"My man!" I said. "If you will tell me your name, and then begone at
once, back to town, I will tell you something that will be of service to
you. If not--" and I broke off.

He looked at me piteously. I think my air frightened him. He drew back a
little from the house, though we were in a place where we could not be
seen from the windows.

"My name is Keeling, sir. You will not betray me? What is it, sir?"

"Well," said I, "I can give you an assurance that what you fear will not
take place. There is not a man here beyond myself and Mr. Rumbald and
old Alick. Now begone at once. Stay; where do you live?"

He shook his head. A little colour had come back to his face again at
the news.

"No, sir; that was not in the bargain. I will begone, sir, as you said;
and thank you, sir."

He slipped back again very quickly, and was vanished. I suppose that he
had ridden down in some cart all night, and that he went back in the
same way, for I saw no more of him.

Well; I had gained two little points--I had kept him from Mr. Rumbald,
which was one--(for I did not want my host to consult with any if I
could help it)--and I had learned what perhaps was his name. This,
however, I would test for myself presently.

At noon we dined; and having observed no difference in my host's manner,
that might shew that he had any idea I had met with anyone, I made two
remarks.

"I talked with a fellow at the gate this morning," I said; "he seemed to
know nothing of the King's coming."

Rumbald jerked his head impatiently; and I perceived that we had not
been seen. Presently I said:

"Who was that pale-looking fellow who wished to speak with you
yesterday, Mr. Rumbald, at the _Mitre?_"

He looked sharply at me for an instant.

"His name is Thompson," said he. "He is one of my malting-men."

Then I knew that he had lied. A man does not invent the name of Keeling,
but very easily the name of Thompson. So I saw that Rumbald had not yet
lost all discretion; and indeed, for all his talk, he had hardly spoken
a name that I could get hold of.

After a while I ventured on another sentence which suited my purpose,
and at the same time confirmed him in his own view.

"If by any chance His Majesty should not come to-day--will it be done,
do you think, to-morrow? Shall you wait till he does come?"

He shook his head and lied again very promptly.

"If it is not done to-day, it will never be done."

Looking back on the affair now, I truly do wonder at the adroitness with
which we both talked. There was scarcely a slip on either side, though
we were at cross-purposes if ever men were. But I suppose that in both
of us there was a very great tension of mind--as of men walking on the
edge of a precipice; and it was the knowledge of that which saved us
both. After dinner I said I would walk again out of doors; and he
thought it was mere affectation, since I must know by now that His
Majesty was not coming.

"Well," I said, "if by any mischance His Majesty doth not come to-day, I
will get back to town."

He looked at me; but he kept any kind of irony out of his face.

"You had best do that," he said.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now it must have been forty miles from Newmarket to the Rye; and I had
calculated that His Majesty would not start till nine o'clock at the
earliest. He would have four horses and would change them at least three
times; but they would not be able to go out of a trot for most of the
way, so that I need not look for any news of him till three o'clock at
the earliest. From then till five o'clock would be the time. If he were
not come by five, or at the very latest half-past, I should know that my
design had miscarried.

It is very difficult for me to describe at all the state I was in--all
the more as I dared not shew it. It was not merely that my Sovereign was
at stake, but a great deal more than that. My religion too was in some
peril, for if, by any mischance things should not go as I expected; if,
as certainly occurred to my mind as one possibility in ten, I had
completely mistaken Rumbald, and he had spoken the truth for once--it
was not the King only who would perish, but the Catholic heir also, and
then good-bye to all our hopes. Yet, I declare that even this did not
affect me so much as the thought that it was the man whom I had learned
to love that was in peril--to love, in spite of his selfishness and his
indolence and his sins. It was all but an intolerable thought to me that
that melancholy fiery man who had so scolded me--whom, to tell the
truth, I had scolded back--that this man might, even in imagination, be
mixed up with the horror of the firing of guns and the plunging of the
wounded horses--should himself be shot at and murdered, there in the
lonely Hertfordshire lane.

At about three o'clock I could bear it no more. God knows how many
prayers I had said; for I think I prayed all the time, as even careless
men will do at such crises. There was the grim house behind me, the
leafless trees overhead, the lane stretching up northwards beyond the
gate. All was very silent, except for the barking of a dog now and
again. It was a very solitary place--the very place for a murder; there
were no meadows near us, where men might be working, but only the deep
woods. It was a clearish kind of day, with clouds in the west.

At about three o'clock then I went to the stables to see my horse. These
were behind the house. There was no one about, and no other horse in the
stables but Rumbald's own black mare that had carried him yesterday.

It came to me as I looked at my horse that no harm would be done if I
put the saddle on him. Rumbald would but think me a little foolish for
so confessing in action that I knew the King would not come; and for
myself it would be some relief to my feelings to know that if by any
mischance I did hear the sound of shots, I could at least ride up and do
my best, though I knew it would be too late.

I saddled my horse then, and put on the bridle, as quickly as I could.
Then, again, I thought there would be no harm done if I led him out to
the gate and fastened him there. I looked out of the stable door, but
there was no one in sight. So I led my horse out, as quietly as I could,
yet openly, and brought him round past the front of the house and so
towards the gate. I thought nothing of my valise; for at that time I
intended no more than what I had said. I was uneasy, and had no
determined plans. I would tell Rumbald, if he came out, that I was but
holding myself ready to ride out if I were needed.

Then, as I came past the front of the house, I heard, very distinctly in
the still air, the tramp of horses far away on the hill to the north;
and I knew enough of that sound to tell me that there were at least
eight or nine coming, and coming fast.

Now it might have been the coach of anyone coming that way. The races
were at Newmarket, and plenty went to and fro, though it is true that
none had come this way all day. Yet at that sound my heart leapt up,
both in excitement and terror. What if I had made any mistake, and
enticed the King to his death? Well, it would be my death too--but I
swear I did not think of that! All I know is that I broke into a run,
and the horse into a trot after me; and as I reached the gate heard
Rumbald run out of the house behind me.

I paid him no attention at all, though I heard his breathing at my
shoulder. I was listening for the tramp and rattle of the hoofs again,
for the sound had died away in a hollow of the road I suppose. Then
again they rang out; and I thought they must be coming very near the
place he had told me of; and I turned and looked at him; but I think he
did not see me. He too was staring out, his face gone pale under its
ruddiness, listening for what very well might be the end of all his
hopes.

Then the distant hoofs grew muffled once more, though not altogether;
and, at that, Rumbald ran out into the road as he was, bareheaded; and I
saw that he carried a cleaver in his hand, caught up, I suppose, at
random; for it was of no use to him.

Then, loud and clear not a hundred yards away I heard the rattle and
roar of a coach coming down the hill and the tramp of the hoofs.

"Back, you fool," I screamed, "back!" for I dared not pull my horse out
into the road. "Throw it away!"

He turned on me with the face of a devil. Though he must have seen the
liveries and the guardsmen from where he stood, I think not even yet did
he take in how he had been deceived; but that he began to suspect it, I
have no doubt.

He came back at my cry, as if unwillingly, and stood by my side; but
never a word did he say: and together we waited.

Then, past the gate on the left, over the hedge, I caught a flash of
colour, and another, come and gone again; and then the gleam of a
coach-roof; and, though I had no certainty from my senses, I was as sure
it was the King, as if I had seen him.

So we waited still. I drew up in my hands my horse's bridle, not knowing
what I did, and moved round to where I could mount, if there were any
road; and, as I did it, past the gate, full in view there swept at a
gallop, first three guards riding abreast, a brave blaze of colour in
the dusky lane; then the four grey horses, with their postilions
cracking their whips; then the coach; and, as this passed, as plain as a
picture I saw the King lean forward and look--his great hat and periwig
thrust forward--and behind him another man. Then the coach was gone; and
two more guards flew by and were gone too.

I lost my head completely for the single time, I think, in all this
affair; now that I knew that the King was safe. There, standing where I
was, I lifted my hat, and shouted with my full voice:

"God save the King!"

       *       *       *       *       *

I turned as I shouted; and, as the last word left my lips, I saw
Rumbald, his face afire with anger, coming at me, round my horse from
behind, with the cleaver upraised. If he had not been near mad with
disappointment, he would have struck at my horse; but he was too intent
on me for that.

I leapt forward, for I had no time to do anything else, dragging my
horse's haunches forward again and round; and with the next movement I
was across my saddle, all-asprawl, as my horse started and plunged. I
was ten yards away before the man could do anything, and struggling to
my seat; but, as I rose and gripped the reins, something flew over my
head, scarce missing it by six inches; and I saw the blade of the
cleaver flash into the ditch beyond.

At that, I turned and lifted my hat, reining in my horse; for I was as
mad with success as the other man with failure.

"God save the King!" I cried again. "Ah! Mr. Rumbald, if only you had
learned to speak the truth!"

Then I put in my spurs and was gone, hearing before me, the hollow tramp
and rumble of the great coach in front, as the King's party went across
the bridge.



CHAPTER XI


It was three months later that I sat once more, though not for the first
time since my adventure at the Rye in Mr. Chiffinch's parlour.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of those three months I need not say very much; especially of the
beginning of them, since I received then, I think, more compliments than
ever in my life before. My interviews had been very many; not with Mr.
Chiffinch only, but with two other personages whose lives, they were
pleased to say, I had saved.

His Majesty had laughed very heartily indeed at the tale of my
adventures.

"Odds-fish!" said he. "We had all been done, but for you, Mr. Mallock.
It was three or four days after, at the least, that I had intended
returning; and by that time, no doubt, our friends would have had their
ambushment complete. But when your man came, all a-sweat, into my very
bed-chamber, telling me to fly for my life--well; there was no more to
be said. There was a fire too at my lodgings that same morning;--and
poor Sir Christopher's low ceilings all ruined with the smoke--but that
would not have brought me, though I suppose we must give out that it
did. No; Mr. Mallock, 'twas you, and no other. Odds-fish! I did not
think I had such an accomplished liar in my service!"

His Royal Highness, too, was no less gracious; though he talked in a
very different fashion.

To him there was no humour in the matter at all; 'twas all God's
Providence; and I am not sure but that he was not more right than his
brother; though indeed there are always two sides to a thing. His talk
was less of myself, and more of the interests I had served; and there
too he was right; for, as I have said, if there had been any mistake in
the matter, good-bye to Catholic hopes.

My first interview with Mr. Chiffinch astonished me most. When he had
finished paying compliments, I began on business.

"You will hardly catch Rumbald," said I, "unless you take him pretty
soon. He too will be off to Holland, I think."

He shook his head, smiling.

"I am sorry not to be able to give you vengeance for that
cleaver-throwing; but you must wait awhile."

"Wait?" cried I.

"What single name do you know besides that of Rumbald, which was
certainly involved in this affair? Why, Mr. Mallock, you yourself have
told me that he observed discretion so far; and did not name a single
man."

"Well; there is Keeling," I said.

"And what is Keeling?" he asked with some contempt. "A maltster, and a
carpenter: a fine bag of assassins! And how can you prove anything but
treasonable talk? Where were the 'swan-quills' and the 'sand and the
ink'? Did you set eyes on any of them?"

I was silent.

"No, no, Mr. Mallock; we must wait awhile. I have even talked to
Jeffreys, and he says the same. We must lime more birds before we pull
our twig down. Now, if you could lay your hand on Keeling!"

He was right: I saw that well enough.

"And meantime," said I, smiling, "I must go in peril of my life. They
surely know now what part I have played?"

"They must be fools if they do not. But there will be no more
cleaver-throwing for the present, if you take but reasonable care.
Meanwhile, you may go to Hare Street, if you will; though I cannot say I
should advise it. And I will look for Keeling."

       *       *       *       *       *

Well; I did not take his advice. That was too much to expect. I went to
Hare Street in April and remained there a couple of months; but I do not
propose to discourse on that beyond saying that I was very well
satisfied, and even with Cousin Tom himself, who appeared to me more
resigned to have me as a son-in-law. To neither of them could I say a
word of what had passed, except to tell Dolly that my peril was over for
the present, and to thank her for her prayers. During those two months I
had no word of Rumbald at all; and I suspect that he lay very quiet,
knowing, after all, how little I knew. If he went to Holland, he
certainly came back again. Then, in June, once more a man came from Mr.
Chiffinch, to call me to town. So here I sat once more, with the birds
singing their vespers, in the Privy Garden, a hundred yards away, and
the river flowing without the windows, as if no blood had ever flowed
with it.

"Well," said Chiffinch, when I was down in a chair, "the first news is
that we have found Keeling. You were right, or very nearly. He is a
joiner, and lives in the City. He hath been to the Secretary of the
Council, and will go to him again to-morrow."

"How was that done?" I asked.

"Why, I sent a couple of men to him," said the page, "when we had marked
him down; who so worked on his fears that he went straight to my Lord
Dartmouth; and my Lord Dartmouth carried him to Sir Leoline Jenkins. The
Secretary very properly remarked that he was but one witness; and
Keeling went away again, to see if he can find another. Well; the tale
is that he hath found another--his own brother--and that both will go
again to the Secretary to-morrow. So I thought it best that you should
see him first here, to-night, to identify him for certain."

"That is very good," I said. "But, Mr. Chaffinch, if I appear too
publicly in this matter, I shall be of very little service to the King
hereafter."

"I know that very well," said the page. "And you shall not appear
publicly at all, neither shall your name. Indeed, the King hath a little
more business for you at last, in France; and you will wish perhaps to
go to Rome. So the best thing that you can do, when we have seen that
all is in order, is to wait no longer, but be off, and for a good while
too. Your life may be in some peril for the very particular part that
you played, for though we shall catch, I think, all the principal men
in the affair, we shall not catch all the underlings; and even a joiner
or a scavenger for that matter, if he be angry enough, is enough to let
the life out of a man. And we cannot spare you yet, Mr. Mallock."

This seemed to me both reasonable and thoughtful; and it was not
altogether a surprise to me. Indeed I had prepared Dolly for a long
absence, thinking that I might go to Rome again, as I had not been there
for a long while. Besides, waiting in England for the time laid down by
Tom and agreed to by both of us, would make that time come no swifter;
and, if there were work to be done, I had best do it, before I had a
wife to engage my attention.

But I sighed a little.

"Well," said I; "and where is Keeling?"

"I have been expecting him this last ten minutes," said he.

Even as he spoke, a knock came upon the door. The page cried to come in;
and there entered, first a servant holding the door, and then the little
joiner himself, flushed in his face, I supposed with the excitement. He
was dressed in his Sunday clothes, rather ill-fitting. He did not know
me, I think, for he made no movement of surprise. I caught Mr.
Chiffinch's look of inquiry, and nodded very slightly.

"Well, sir," began the page in a very severe tone, "so you have made up
your mind to evade the charge of misprision of treason--that, at the
least!"

"Yes, sir," said the man in a very timid way. (He must have heard that
phrase pretty often lately.)

"Well; and you have found your other witness?"

"Yes, sir; my own brother, sir."

"Ah! Was he too in this detestable affair?"

"No, sir."

"Well, then; how do you bring him in?"

"Sir," said the man, seeming to recover himself a little, "I put my
brother in a secret place; and then caused him to overhear a
conversation between myself and another."

"Very pretty! very pretty!" cried the page. "And who was this other?"

"Sir; it was a Mr. Goodenough--under-sheriff once of--"

I could not restrain a start; for I had not thought Mr. Goodenough, the
friend of my Lord Essex, to be so deep in the affair as this. Keeling
saw me start, I suppose; for he looked at me, and himself showed sudden
agitation.

"Good evening, Keeling," said I. "We have had a little conversation once
before."

"Oh! for God's sake, gentlemen! for God's sake! I am already within an
inch of my life."

"I know you are," said Mr. Chiffinch severely, "and you will be nearer
even than that, if you do not speak the whole truth."

"Sir; it is not that I mean," cried the man, in a very panic of terror.
"Rumbald hath been--"

"Eh? What is that?" said Mr. Chiffinch.

"Rumbald, sir, the old Colonel, of the Rye--"

"God, man! We know all about Rumbald," said the page contemptuously.
"What hath he been at now?"

"Sir; he and some of the others caught me but yesterday. They had heard
some tale of my having been to Mr. Secretary, and--"

"And you swore you had not, I suppose," snarled the other.

"Sir; what could I do? Rumbald was all for despatching me then and
there. They caught me at Wapping. I prayed them for God's love not to
believe such things: I entreated: I wept--"

"I'll be bound you did," said Mr. Chiffinch. "Well? And what then?"

"Sir! they let me go again."

"They did? The damned fools!" cried Chiffinch.

I was astonished at his vehemence. But, like his master, if there was
one thing that the page could not bear, it was a fool. I made him a
little sign.

"Keeling," said I, "you remember me well enough. Well; I need not say
that we know pretty near everything that there is to know. But we must
have it from you, too. Tell us both now, as near as you can recollect,
every name to which you can speak with certainty. Remember, we want no
lies. We had enough of them a while back in another plot." (I could not
resist that; though Mr. Chiffinch snapped his lips together.) "Well,
now, take your time. No, do not speak. Consider yourself carefully."

It was, indeed, a miserable sight to see this poor wretch so hemmed in.
The sweet evening light fell full upon his terrified eyes and his
working lips, as he sought to gather up the names. He was persuaded, I
am sure, that we were as gods, knowing all things--above all, he feared
myself, as I could see, having met me first at the very house of
Rumbald, as if I were his friend, and now again in the chamber of his
accuser. It was piteous to see how he sought to be very exact in his
memories, and not go by a hair's breadth beyond the truth.

At last I let him speak.

"Now then," I said, "tell us the names." (I saw as I spoke that Mr.
Chiffinch held a note-book below the table to take them down.)

"Sir, these for certain. Rumbald; West; Rumsey--"

"Slowly, man, slowly," I cried.

"Rumsey; Goodenough; Burton; Thompson; Barber--those last three all of
Wapping, sir. Then, sir, there is Wade, Nelthrop, West, Walcot--" he
hesitated.

"Well, sir," demanded Mr. Chiffinch very fiercely. "That is not all."

"No, sir, no no.... There is Hone, a joiner like myself."

"Man," cried the page, "we want better names than snivelling tradesmen
like yourself."

The fellow turned even paler.

"Well, sir; but how can I tell that--"

"Sir," said the page to me sharply, "call the guard!"

"Sir," cried the poor wretch, "I will tell all; indeed I will tell."

"Well?"

"Sir, the Duke of Monmouth was in it--at least we heard so. He was
certainly in the former plot!"

"And what was that?" asked the other very quietly.

"Why, sir; the plot to assault Whitehall; it is all one in reality;
but--"

"We know all about that," snapped the page sharply. "Well; and what
other names?"

"Sir; there was my Lord Russell."

I moved in my chair. Even to this day I cannot believe that that peer
was guilty; though indeed he was found so to be. Mr. Chiffinch cast me a
look.

"Proceed, sir," he said.

"And there was Mr. Ferguson, a minister; and Mr. Wildman; and my Lord
Argyle in Scotland; and my Lord Howard of Escrick; and Mr. Sidney; and
my Lord Essex. I do not say, sir, that all those--"

"There! there: go on. We shall test every word you say; you may depend
upon it. What other names have you?"

"There was my Lord Grey, sir; and Sir Thomas Armstrong ... Sir; I can
remember no more!"

"And a pretty load on any man's conscience!" cried the virtuous Mr.
Chiffinch. "And so all this nest of assassins--"

"Sir; I did not say that. I said--"

"That is enough; we want no comments and glosses, but the bare truth.
Well, Keeling, if this tale be true, you have saved your own life--that
is, if your fellow murderers do not get at you again. You have been in
trouble before, I hear, too."

"Sir; it was on the matter of the Lord Mayor--"

"I know that well enough. Well, sir; so this is the tale you will tell
to-morrow to Mr. Secretary."

"Yes, sir, if I can remember it all."

"You will remember it, I'll warrant. Well, sir; I think I have no more
questions for the present. Sir, have you any questions to ask this man?"

I shook my head. I was near sick at the torture the man was in.

"Well, sir; you may go," said the page. "And I would recommend you and
your brother to lie very private to-night. There must be no more
evasion."

       *       *       *       *       *

When he was gone, Mr. Chiffinch turned to me.

"Well?" he said. "What do you think?"

"Oh! I think he speaks the truth, in the main," I said wearily. "Shall I
be needed any more; or when may I leave town?"

"You must wait, Mr. Mallock, until we have laid hands on them."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was not until the middle of July that I was able to leave. On the
eighteenth of June a proclamation was issued, with the names of some of
the conspirators; and numerous arrests were made. One matter pleased me
a little, and that was that Keeling had been man enough after all, to
warn some of the humbler folk, who had been led into the affair, of what
he had done; and the most of these got clean away. Then Sheppard came
forward and betrayed three or four who had met in his house, as I had
seen for myself: and West added many details. A second proclamation
containing the names, and offering rewards for the arrest of Monmouth,
my Lord Grey, Sir Thomas Armstrong and the Reverend Robert Ferguson, was
made after my Lord Russell's arrest; but all four of them escaped. My
Lords Howard and Essex were taken on the tenth of July; and two days
later Walcot, Hone and Rouse were convicted.

As soon as my Lord Russell's trial was begun, and the certainty that he
would be convicted was made plain by my Lord Howard turning King's
evidence, I left London with my man James. And before we were at Dover
the news came to us that my Lord Essex, in despair, had cut his throat
in the Tower. As for myself, I was glad enough to leave; for I was both
sick and weary of intrigue. It would be of a very different sort in
France; and of a kind that a gentleman may undertake without misgivings:
so, though I was loth to leave the land where Dolly was, the balance
altogether left me refreshed rather than saddened.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was a clear day as the packet put out from Dover; and, as I stood on
deck, watching the cliffs recede as we went, there came on me again that
same mood that had fallen on me as I went up the river so long ago from
Wapping. Once more it appeared to me as if I were in somewhat of a
dream. Those men I had left behind, awaiting trial and death; Mr.
Chiffinch; the King, the Court, even Dolly herself, appeared to have
something phantom-like about them. Once more the realities seemed to
close about me and envelop me--or rather that great Reality whom we name
God; and all else seemed but very little and trifling.



PART IV



CHAPTER I


Once more it was high summer, a year afterwards, as I rode in, still
with James, thank God! and three other men, over London Bridge.

       *       *       *       *       *

My life abroad once more must remain undescribed. There is plenty of
reason against the telling of it; and nothing at all for it. One thing
only may I say, that I came last from Rome, having stayed over for the
Feast of the Apostles, and carried with me, though verbally only, some
very particular instructions for His Royal Highness the Duke of York
from personages whom he should respect, if he did not. And what those
counsels were will appear in the proper place. By those same personages
I had been complimented very considerably, and urged to yet greater
efforts. Briefly with regard to the two Royal Brothers, I was urged to
press on the one, and to restrain the other; for I heard in Rome that it
was said that they would listen to me, if I observed discretion.

As to what had passed in England, a very short account will suffice.

First, with regard to the conspirators, a number had been executed,
among whom I suppose must be reckoned my Lord Russell--an upright man, I
think; yet one who had at least played with very hot fire. Frankly, I do
not believe that he aimed ever at the King's life, but that my Lord
Howard witnessed that he did, in order to save himself. Of the others
that were executed, I think all deserved it; and the principal, I
suppose, was Mr. Sidney, that ancient Republican and Commonwealth man,
who was undoubtedly guilty. Besides him, my Lord Essex had killed
himself in prison--for I never believed the ugly story of the bloody
razor having been thrown out of his window--and Sir Thomas Armstrong was
executed--and richly he had earned it by a thousand crimes and
debaucheries--and old Colonel Rumbald; whose fate, I must allow, caused
me a little sorrow (even though he had flung a sharp cleaver at my
head), for he was very much more of a man than that puling treacherous
hound my Lord Howard, who was taken hiding in his shirt, up his own
chimney, and turned traitor to his friends. Holloway too--a merchant of
Bristol, and a friend of Mr. Ferguson--was executed, and several in
Edinburgh, of the Scottish plotters under Argyle, among whom the
principal was Baillie of Jerviswood. The torture of the boot and the
thumbscrews was used there, I am sorry to say; for they had plenty of
evidence without it. Of the others some evaded altogether, of whom a
good number went to Holland, which was their great refuge at this time,
and others again saved their lives by turning King's evidence. The
Reverend Mr. Ferguson proved himself a clever fellow, as indeed I had
thought him, and a courageous one too, for after attending my Lord
Shaftesbury upon his deathbed, he returned again to Edinburgh, and
there, upon search being made for him, hid himself in the very prison to
which they wished to consign him, and so escaped the death he had
earned.

With regard to the Duke of Monmouth, affairs had taken a very strange
course; and His Majesty, as I think, had behaved with less than his
usual wisdom. Before even Mr. Sidney's death, the Duke had made his
peace, both with the King and the Duke of York, and had, after
expressing extraordinary contrition, and yet denying that he had been in
any way privy to any attempt on the King's life, received a pardon. But
he had not been content with that; and so soon as the _Gazette_
announced that it was so, and had given men to understand that Monmouth
had made his peace by turning King's evidence, what must His Grace do,
but deny it again, and cause it to be denied too in all the
coffee-houses in town? The King was thrown into a passion by this; and
once again His Grace had to sign and read aloud a paper, in the presence
of witnesses and of the King, in the private parlour of the Duchess of
Portsmouth's lodgings--(where, it must be confessed, His Majesty did
much of his business at this time). But the paper was not explicit
enough, and must be re-written: and so the foolish shilly-shally went
on--and he guilty all the time--and at last he evaded them all, and went
back again to Holland.

There was another piece of news that had come to me lately that pleased
me better; and that was of the trial of Oates, for treasonous speaking,
and his condemnation in one hundred thousand pounds, which caused him to
be shut up in prison without more ado, where he could do no more
mischief. Indeed his credit was all gone now, thank God! and all that he
had to do in prison was to prepare himself for his whippings which he
got a year later. A few months earlier too, the four Popish lords that
had been left in the Tower were released again, which I was very glad to
hear of.

Other matters too had passed; but I think I have said enough to shew how
affairs stood in the month of July when I came back to England--with the
exception of what I shall relate presently as of my own experience.

       *       *       *       *       *

The evening was as bright and fair as that on which I had come back to
London near two years and a half ago, with so heavy a heart, to find
Dolly at Court; but this time the heaviness was all gone. I had had
letters from her continually, and all those I carried with me. She told
me that her father seemed a little moody, now and again; but I did not
care very greatly about that. He could be as moody as he liked, if he
but let her and me alone. It was less than a year now from my
twenty-eighth birthday, which was the period that had been fixed.

Now a piece of news had reached me at Dover that made me pretty content;
and that was that His Majesty desired me to have lodgings now in
Whitehall. These were very hard to come by, except a man had great
influence; and I was happy to think that such as I had was from the King
himself. So I did not return northwards this time from the Strand, but
held on, and so to the gate of Whitehall. Here I was stopped and asked
my name.

I gave it; and the officer saluted me very civilly.

"Your lodgings are ready, sir," said he. "Mr. Chiffinch was very urgent
about them. And he bade me tell you you would find visitors there, if
you came before eight o'clock."

It was now scarcely gone seven; but I thought very little of my
visitors, supposing they might perhaps be Mr. Chiffinch himself and a
friend: so I inquired very, leisurely where the lodgings were situate.

"They are my Lord Peterborough's old lodgings, sir," said the man. "He
hath moved elsewhere. They look out upon the Privy Garden and the
bowling-green; or, to be more close, on the trees between them."

This was a fine piece of news indeed; for these lodgings were among the
best. I was indeed become a person of importance.

There were two entrances to these lodgings--one from the Stone Gallery,
and the other from the garden; but that into the garden was only a
little door, whose use was not greatly encouraged, because of the
personages that walked there; so I went up the Stone Gallery, between
all the books and the cabinets, and so to my own door; with my James
behind me. My other men I bade follow when they had bestowed the horses
and found their own quarters.

It was a fine entrance, with a new shield over the door; lately scraped
white, for the reception of my own arms. I knocked upon it, and a fellow
opened; and when I had told him my name, he let me through; and I went
upstairs to the parlour that looked over the garden; and there, to my
happiness were my visitors. For they were none other than my dear love
herself and her maid.

I cannot tell what that was to me, to find her there.... The maid was
sent into the little writing-room, next door, into which my visitors
would usually be shewn; and we two sat down on the window-seat. Dolly
looked not a day older: she was in a fine dress.

"See," she said, "you have caught me again at Court? Will you send me
away again this time?"

She told me presently that she and her father were come up to town for a
few days; but must be gone again directly. They had written to Mr.
Chiffinch demanding news of me, and when should I be at liberty to come
to Hare Street; and he had told them that at anyrate not yet for a
while, and that they had best come and see me in my new lodgings. I was
sorry that he had said I could not go to Hare Street for the
present--though I had expected no less; but I soon forgot it again in
her dear presence.

"You are a great man, now, I suppose," she said presently, "too great to
see to the pigs any longer. We have no such rooms as this at Hare
Street."

They were indeed fine; and we went through them together. They were all
furnished from roof to floor; there were some good tapestries and
pictures; and the windows, as the officer had said, looked out for the
most part upon the trees beneath which so long ago I had watched ladies
walking. But I told her that I loved my panelled chamber at Hare Street,
and the little parlour, with the poor Knights of the Grail, who rode
there for ever and never attained their quest, more than all Whitehall.
Then I kissed her again, for perhaps the thirtieth time; and, as I was
doing so Cousin Tom came in.

"Ah!" said he, "I have caught you then!" But he said it without much
merriment.

If Dolly was no older, her father was. There were grey hairs in his
eyebrows, for that was all that I could see of his hair, since he wore a
periwig; and his face appeared a little blotchy.

I met him however with cordiality, and congratulated him on his looks.
He sat down, and presently, to my astonishment, he too opened out upon
my prospects, though in a very different manner from Dolly.

"You are a great man now," he said, "in these fine lodgings. I wonder
His Majesty hath not made you at least a knight."

I was a little angry at his manner. He said it not pleasantly at all;
but as if he found fault. I determined I would not meet his ambitions at
all.

"My dear Cousin," said I, "indeed I am not a knight; and have no hope of
being so. His Majesty hath a thousand men more competent than I."

"Then why hath he given you these lodgings?" said he, with a sharp look.

I shrugged my shoulders.

"I am of some convenience to His Majesty; and the more so if I am near
him. I suppose that these lodgings fell vacant in the nick of time."

He looked at me very earnestly. He had, of course, no idea of in what
matters I was engaged: I might have been a mere valet for all he knew.

"That is so?" he said.

"I have no reason to think otherwise," I answered him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Well; it was growing late; and I had not supped, as Dolly presently
remembered; it was near eight o'clock, and after that time there would
be formalities at the gate as they went out. So they took their leave at
last; and I kissed Dolly for the thirty-first time, and went downstairs
with them, and watched them down the gallery; they having promised to
come again next day.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had scarcely done supper and looked about me a little, when Mr.
Chiffinch's name was brought to me; and I went to see him in the little
parlour and bring him through to what would be my private closet--so
great was I become! He looked older; and I told him so.

"Well; so I am," said he. "And so are we all. You will be astonished
when you see His Majesty."

"Is he so much older?" I asked.

"He has aged five years in one," said he.

We talked presently (after looking through my lodgings again, to see if
all were as it should be, and after my thanking Mr. Chiffinch for the
pains he had put himself to), first of France and then of Rome. He
shewed himself very astute when we spoke of Rome.

"I do not wish to pry," he said, "but I hope to God's sake that the Holy
Father hath given you a commission to His Royal Highness, to bid him
hold himself more quiet. He will ruin all, if he be not careful."

"Why; how is that?" said I.

"Ah! you ecclesiastics," he cried--"for I count you half an one at
least, in spite of your pretty cousin--you are more close than any of
us! Well; I will tell you as if you did not know."

He put his fingers together, in his old manner.

"First," said he, "he is Lord High Admiral again. I count that very
rash. We are Protestants, we English, you know; and we like not a Papist
to be our guard-in-chief."

"You will have to put up with a Papist as a King, some day," said I.

"Why I suppose so--though I would not have been so sure two years ago.
But a King is another matter from an High Admiral."

"Well; what else has he done?" I asked.

"He hath been readmitted to the Council, in the very face of the Test
Act too. But it is how he bears himself and speaks that is the worst of
all. He carries himself and his religion as openly as he can; and does
all that is in His power to relieve the Papists of disabilities. That is
very courageous, I know; but it is not very shrewd. God knows where he
will stop if once he is on the throne. I think he will not be there
long."

I said nothing; for indeed my instructions were on those very points;
and I knew them all as well as Chiffinch, and, I think, better.

He spoke, presently, of myself.

"As for you, Mr. Mallock, I need not tell you how high you are in favour
here. _Si monumentum requiris, circumspice_"; and he waved his hands at
the rich rooms.

"His Majesty is very good," I said.

"His Majesty hath a peerage for you, if you want it. He said he had made
too many grocers and lickspittles into knights, to make you one."

I cannot deny that to hear that news pleased me. Yet even then I
hesitated.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I at last, "if you mean what you say, I have
something to answer to that."

"Well?" said he.

"Let me have one year more of obscurity. I may be able to do much more
that way. In one year from now I shall be married, as I told you. Well,
when I have a wife she must come to town, and make acquaintances; and
so I shall be known in any case. Let me have it then, if I want it--as a
wedding gift; so that she shall come as My Lady. And I will do what I
can then, in His Majesty's service, more publicly."

"What if His Majesty is dead before that?" said he, regarding me
closely.

"Then we will go without," said I.

He nodded; and said no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was strange to lie down that night in a great room, with four posts
and all their hangings about me, with my Lord Peterborough's arms
emblazoned on the ceiling; and to know that it was indeed I, Roger
Mallock, who lay there, with a man within call; and a coronet, if I
would have it, within reach. It was not till then, I think, that I
understood how swift had been my rise; for here was I, but just
twenty-seven years old, and in England but the better part of six years.
Yet, even then, more than half my thoughts were of Dolly, and of how she
would look in a peeress' robes. I even determined what my title should
be--taken from my French estates in the village of Malmaison, in
Normandy, so foolish and trifling are a man's thoughts at such a time.
One thing, however, I resolved; and that was to say nothing at all of
all this either to Dolly or her father. It should be a wedding gift to
the one, and a consolation to the other; for dearly would my Cousin Tom
love to speak of his son-in-law the Viscount, or even the plain Lord
Malmaison. As for His Majesty's death before another year, I thought
nothing of that; for what young man of twenty-seven years of age thinks
ever that anyone will die? Even should he die too--which I prayed God
might not be yet!--there was His Royal Highness to follow; and I had
served him, all things considered, pretty near as well as his brother.

So, then, I lay in thought, hearing a fountain play somewhere without my
windows, and the rustle of the wind in the limes that stood along the
Privy Garden. I heard midnight strike from the Clock-Tower at the
further end of the palace, before I slept; and presently after the cry
of the watchman that "all was well, and a fair night."



CHAPTER II


It was not until the third day after my coming to town that I had
audience of the Duke--in the evening after supper, having bidden
good-bye that morning, with a very heavy heart, to my cousins, at
Aldgate, whither I had escorted them. I had promised Dolly I would come
when I could; but God knew when that would be!

Even by then, I think, I had become accustomed to my new surroundings. I
had made no friends indeed, for that was expressly contrary to my
desires, since a man on secret service must be very slow to do so; but I
had made a number of acquaintances even in that short time, and had
renewed some others. I had had a word or two with Sir George Jeffreys,
now a long time Lord Chief Justice, in Scroggs' old place; and found him
a very brilliant kind of man, of an extraordinary handsomeness, and no
less extraordinary power--not at all brutal in manner, as I had thought,
but liker to a very bright sword, at once sharp and heavy: and sharp and
heavy indeed men found him when they looked at him from the dock. It was
in Mr. Chiffinch's closet that I was made known to him. I had spoken too
with my Lord Halifax--another brilliant fellow, very satirical and
witty, for which the King loved him, though all the world guessed, and
the King, I think knew, that his opposition to our cause was so hot as
even to keep him in correspondence with the Duke of Monmouth, safe away
in Holland. At least that was the talk in the coffee-houses. He, like
the Lord Keeper North, hated a Papist like the Devil, and all his ways
and wishes. He said of my Lord Rochester, now made president of the
Council--a post of immense dignity and no power at all--that "he was
kicked upstairs," which was a very precise description of the matter.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was taken straight through into the Duke's private closet, where he
awaited me; and, by the rarest chance His Majesty was just about to take
his leave, and they had me in before he was gone.

I was very deeply shocked by His Majesty's appearance. He was standing
below a pair of candles when I came in, and his face was all in shadow;
but when, after I had saluted the two, he moved out presently, I could
see how fallen his face was, and how heavily lined. Since it was evening
too, and he had not shaved since morning I could see a little
frostiness, as it were, upon his chin. He dyed his eyebrows and
moustaches, I suppose, for these were as black as ever. His melancholy
eyes had a twinkle in them, as he looked at me.

"Well," said he, "so here is our hero back again--come to pay his
respects to the rising sun, I suppose." (But he said it very pleasantly,
without any irony.)

"Why, Sir," said I, "I have always understood that there is neither
rising nor setting with England's sun; but that it is always in
mid-heaven. The King never dies; and the King can do no wrong."

(Such was the manner in which we spoke at Court in those days--very
foolish and bombastic, no doubt.)

"Hark to that, brother," said the King; "there is a pretty compliment to
us both! It is to neither of us that Mr. Mallock is loyal; but to the
Crown only."

"It is that which we all serve, Sir," said I; "even Your Majesty."

The King smiled.

"Well," he said, "I must be off while you two plot, I suppose. Come and
see me too, Mr. Mallock; when you have done all your duties."

I took him to the door of the closet where the servants were waiting for
him; and even his gait seemed to me older.

Now James had very little--(though no Stuart could have none)--of his
family's charm. He looked no older, no sharper and no lighter than a
year ago; and he had learned nothing from adversity, as I presently
understood. He very graciously made me sit down; but in even that the
condescension was evident--not as his brother did it.

"You have been to Rome, again," he said pretty soon, when he had told
me how he did, and how the King was not so well as he had been. "And
what news do you bring with you?"

I told him first of the Holy Father's health, and delivered a few
compliments from one or two of the Cardinals, and spoke of three or four
general matters of the Court there. He nodded and asked some questions;
but I could see that he was thinking of something else.

"But you have more to say to me, have you not?" said he. "I had a letter
from the Cardinal Secretary--" he paused.

"Yes, Sir," said I. "The Holy Father was graciously pleased to put me at
Your Royal Highness' disposal, if you should wish to know His Holiness'
mind on one or two affairs."

I put it like this, as gently as I could; for indeed I had something
very like a scolding, in my pocket, for him. He saw through it, however,
for he lowered his eyelids a little sullenly as his way was, when he was
displeased.

"Well; let us hear it," said he. "What have I done wrong now?"

This would never do. His Royal Highness resembled a mule in this, at
least, that the harder he was pushed, the more he kicked and jibbed. He
must be drawn forward by some kind of a carrot, if he were to be moved.
I made haste to draw out my finest.

"His Holiness is inexpressibly consoled," I said, "by Your Royal
Highness' zeal for religion, and courage too, in that course. He bade me
tell you that he could say his _Nunc Dimittis_, if he could but see such
zeal and obedience in the rest of Europe."

The Duke smiled a little; and I could see that he was pleased. (It was
really necessary to speak to him in this manner; he would have resented
any such freedom or informality as I used towards the King.)

"These are the sweets before the medicine," he said. "And now for the
draught."

"Sir," I said, "there is no draught. There is but a word of warning His
Holiness--"

"Well; call it what you will. What is it, Mr. Mallock?"

I told him then, as gently as I could (interlarding all with a great
many compliments) that His Holiness was anxious that matters should not
go too fast; that there was still a great deal of disaffection in
England, and that, though the pendulum had swung it would surely swing
back again, though, please God! never so far as it had been; and that
meantime a great deal of caution should be used. For example, it was a
wonderful thing that His Royal Highness should be Lord High Admiral of
the Fleet again; but that great care should be observed lest the people
should be frightened that a Papist should have the guarding of them; or
again, that the Test Act should be set aside in His Royal Highness'
case, yet the exception should not be pressed too far. All this my Lord
Cardinal Howard had expressly told me; but there was one yet more
difficult matter to speak of; and this I reserved for the moment.

"Well," said the Duke, when I had got so far, "I am obliged to His
Holiness for his solicitude; and I shall give the advice my closest
attention. Was there anything more, Mr. Mallock?"

He had received it, I thought, with unusual humility; so I made haste to
bring out the last of what I had to say.

"There is no more, Sir," I said, "in substance. There was only that His
Eminence thought perhaps that the extraordinary courage and fervour of
Your Royal Highness' Jesuit advisers led them to neglect discretion a
little."

"Ah! His Eminence thought that, did he?" said James meditatively.

His Eminence had said it a great deal more strongly than that; but I
dared not put it as he had.

"Yes, Sir," I said. "They are largely under French influence; and French
circumstances are not at all as in England. The Society is a little apt
at present--"

Then the Duke lost his self-command; and his heavy face lightened with a
kind of anger.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "you have said enough. I do not blame you at
all; but His Eminence (with all possible respect to him!) does not know
what he is talking about. These good Fathers have imperilled their lives
for England; if any have a right to speak, it is they; and I would
sooner listen to their counsel than to all the Cardinals in Christendom.
They know England, as Rome cannot; and, while I allow myself to be led
by the nose by no man living, I would sooner do what they advise than
what a Roman Cardinal advises. It is not by subtlety or plotting that
the Faith will be commended in this country; but by courageous action;
and since God has placed me here in the position that I hold, it is to
Him alone that I must answer. You can send that message back to Rome,
sir, as soon as you like."

Now there was James, true to himself; and I could see that further words
would be wasted. I smoothed him down as well as I could; and I was happy
to see that it was not with myself that he was angry--(for he made that
very plain)--for that I still might hope he would listen to me later on.
But anything further at that time was useless; so I prepared to take my
leave; and he made no opposition.

"Well, sir," he said, "you have given your message very well; and I
thank you for not wrapping it up. You have done very well in France, I
hear."

"His Majesty hath been pleased to think so," I said. Then his face
lightened again.

"Ah!" said he, "when the time comes, we shall shew Europe what England
can do. We shall astonish even Rome itself, I think. We have long been
without the light; but it is dawning once more, and when the sun is
indeed risen, as His Majesty said, men will be amazed at us. We shall
need no more help from France then. The whole land will be a garden of
the Lord."

His face itself was alight with enthusiasm; and I wondered how, once
more in this man, as in many others, the Church shewed itself able to
inspire and warm, yet without that full moral conversion that she
desires. He was not yet by any means free from the sins of the flesh and
from pride--(which two things so commonly go together)--he could not be
released from these until humiliation should come on him--as it did, and
made him very like a Saint before the end. Meanwhile it was something to
thank God for that he should be so whole-hearted and zealous, even
though he lacked discretion.

As I was going down the stairs whom should I run into, coming up, but
Father Huddleston, who stopped to speak with me. I did not know him very
well; though I had talked with him once or twice. He was the one priest
of English blood who was tolerated openly and legally in England, and
who had leave to wear his habit, for his saving of the King's life after
the battle of Worcester.

"So you are home again, Mr. Mallock," he said in his cheery voice.

I told him Yes; and that I was come for a good time.

"And His Majesty?" he said. "Have you seen him? He is terribly aged, is
he not, this last year."

This priest was a very pleasant-looking fellow, going on for sixty years
old, I would say; and, except for his dress, resembled some fine old
country-squire. He wore a great brown periwig that set off his rosy
face. He was not, I think, a very spiritual man, though good and
conscientious, and he meddled not at all with politics or even with
religion. He went his way, and let men alone, which, though not very
apostolic, is at least very prudent and peaceful. He was fond of country
sports, I had heard, and of the classics; and spent his time pretty
equally in them both.

"Yes," said I; "the King is a year older since this time twelvemonth."

He laughed loudly.

"There speaks the courtier," he said. "And you come from the Duke?"

I told him Yes.

"And I go to him. Well; good day to you, Mr. Mallock."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was very pleasant to me, this new air in which I lived. Here was I,
come from the Duke who had received me as never before, with a
deference--(if the Duke's behaviour to any man could be called
that)--such as he had never shewn me, being greeted too by this priest
who up to this time had never manifested much interest in me, going back
to my fine lodgings and my half-dozen servants. Indeed it was a great
change. As I went past the sentry a minute or two later, he saluted me,
and I returned it, feeling very happy that I was come to be of some
consideration at last, with do much more, too, in the background of
which others never dreamed.

       *       *       *       *       *

I had my first audience of His Majesty a week later, and confirmed my
impressions of his ageing very rapidly. He received me with
extraordinary kindness; but, as to the first part of the interview,
since this concerned private affairs in France, I shall give no
description. It was the end only that was of general interest; and one
part of it very particular, since I was able to speak my mind to him
again.

He was standing looking out of the window when he said his last word on
France, and kept silent a little. He stood as upright as ever, but there
was an air in him as if he felt the weight of his years, though they
were scarcely fifty-four in number. His hand nearest to me hung down
listlessly, with the lace over it. When he spoke, he put into words the
very thing that I was thinking.

"I am getting an old man, Mr. Mallock," he said, suddenly turning on me;
"and I would that affairs were better settled than they are. They are
better than they were--I do not dispute that--but these endless little
matters distress me. Why cannot folk be at peace and charitable one with
another?"

I said nothing; but I knew of what he was thinking. It was the old
business of religion which so much entered into everything and distorted
men's judgments: for he had just been speaking of His Grace of Monmouth.

"Why cannot men serve God according to their own conscience?" he said,
"and leave others to do the same."

"Sir," I said, "there is but one Church of God where men are at unity
with one another."

He paid no attention to that; and his face suddenly contracted
strangely.

"Did you hear any gossip--I mean about myself--after the death of the
Jesuit Fathers?"

I told him No; for I had heard nothing of it at that time.

He came and sat down, motioning me too to a seat; for I had stood up
when he did.

"Well," he said, "it is certainly strange enough, and I should not have
believed it, if it had not happened to myself."

Again he stopped with an odd look.

"Well," he said, "here is the tale; and I will swear to it. You know how
unwilling I was to sign the death-warrants."

"Yes, Sir; all the world knows that."

"And all the world knows that I did it," he said with a vehement kind of
bitterness. "Yes; I did it, for there was no way out of it that I could
see. It was they or the Crown must go. But I never intended it; and I
swore I would not."

"Yes, Sir," I said quietly, "you said so to me."

"Did I? Well, I said so to many. I even swore that my right hand might
rot off if I did it."

His heavy face was all working. I had seldom seen him so much moved.

"Yes," he said, "that was what I swore. Well, Mr. Mallock, did you ever
hear what followed?"

"No, Sir," I said again.

"It was within that week, that when I awakened one morning I felt my
right hand to be all stiff. I thought nothing of it at the first; I
believed I must have strained it at tennis. Well; that day I said
nothing to anyone; but I rubbed some ointment on my hand that night."

He stopped again, lifted his right hand a little and looked at it, as if
meditating on it. It was a square strong man's hand, but very well
shaped and very brown; it had a couple of great rings on the fingers.

"Well," he said, "the next morning a sore had broken out on it; and I
sent for a physician. He told me it was nothing but a little humour in
the blood, and he bade me take care of my diet. I said nothing to anyone
else, and bade him not speak of it; and that night I put on some more
ointment; and the next morning another sore was broken out, between the
finger and the thumb, so that I could not hold a pen without pain; and
it was then, for the first time, that I remembered what I had sworn."

He had his features under command again, but I could see, as he looked
at me, that his eyes were still full of emotion.

"Well, Mr. Mallock; I was in a great way at that; but yet I dared tell
nobody. I wore my glove all day, so that no one should see my hand; and
that evening when I went in to see Her Majesty, what should I see
hanging up on the wall of the chamber but the pictures of the five men
whose warrants I had signed!"

Once more he stopped.

Now I remembered that I had heard a little gossip as to the King's hand
about that time; but it had been so little that I had thought nothing of
it. It was very strange to hear it all now from himself.

"Well, sir," he said, "I am not ashamed to say what I did. I kissed
their pictures one by one, and I begged them to intercede for me. The
next morning, Mr. Mallock, the sores were healed up; and, the morning
after, the stiffness was all gone."

I said nothing; for what could I say? It is true enough that many might
say that it had all fallen out so, by chance, that it was no more than a
strain at tennis, or a humour in the blood, as the physician had
thought. But I did not think so, nor, I think, would many Catholics.

"You say nothing, Mr. Mallock," said the King.

"What is there to say, Sir?" asked I.

"What indeed?" he cried, again with the greatest emotion. "There is
nothing at all to say. The facts are as I have said."

Then there came upon me once more that passionate desire to see this
strange and restless soul at peace. Of those who have never received the
gift of faith I say nothing: God will be their Judge, and, I doubt not,
their Saviour if they have but been faithful to what they know; but for
those who have received the knowledge of the truth and have drawn back
from it I have always feared very greatly. Now that His Majesty had
received this light long before this time, I had never had any doubt;
indeed it had been reported, though I knew falsely, that he had
submitted to the Church and been taken into her Communion while he was
yet a young man in France. Yet here he was still, holding back from what
he knew to be true--and growing old too, as he had said. All this went
through my mind; but before I could speak he was up again.

"An instant, Mr. Mallock," he said, as I rose up with him; and he turned
swiftly towards the door that was behind him, and was out through it,
leaving it open behind him. From where I stood I could see what he did.
There was a great press in the little chamber next door, and he flung
the doors of this open so that I could see him pull forward his
strong-box that lay within. This he opened with a key that he carried
hung on a chain, and fumbled in it a minute or two, drawing out at last
a paper; and so, bearing this, and leaving the strong-box open just as
it was, he came back to me.

"Look at that, Mr. Mallock," said he.

It was a sheet of paper, written very closely in His Majesty's own hand,
and was headed in capital letters.

Then there followed a set of reasons, all numbered, shewing that the
Holy Roman Church was none other than the very Church of Christ outside
of which there is no salvation. (It was made public later, as all the
world knows, so I need not set it out here in full.)

"There, sir," he said when I had done reading it. "What do you think of
that?"

I shall never forget how he looked, when I lifted my eyes and regarded
him. He was standing by the window, with the light on his face, and
there was an extraordinary earnestness and purpose in his features. It
was near incredible that this could be the man whom I had seen so
careless with his ladies--so light and indolent. But there are many
sides to every man, as I have learned in a very long life.

"Sir," I cried, "what am I to say? There is nothing that I can add. This
is Your Majesty's own conscience, written out in ink." (I tapped the
paper with my finger, still holding it.)

"Eh?" said he.

"And by conscience God judges us all," I cried. Again I stared into his
eyes, and he into mine.

"Your Majesty will have to answer to this," said I, "on Judgment Day."

I could say no more, so great was my emotion; and, as I hesitated a
change went over his face. His brows came down as if he were angry, but
his lips twitched a little as if in humour.

"There! there!" he said. "Give me the paper, Mr. Mallock."

I gave it back to him; and he stood running his eyes down it.

"Why, this is damned good!" he murmured. "I should have made a
theologian."

And with that I knew that his mood was changed again, and that I could
say no more.



CHAPTER III


I do not know which is the more strange that, when a great time of trial
approaches a man, either he has some kind of a premonition that trouble
is coming upon him, or that he has not. Certainly it is strange enough
that some sense, of which we know nothing, should scent danger when
there are no outward signs that any is near; but it appears even more
strange to me that the storm should break all of a sudden without any
cloud in the sky to shew its coming. It was the latter case with me; and
the storm came upon me as I shall now relate.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was now for the first time that I began to see something of the way
the Court lived--I mean as one who was himself a part of it. I had
looked on it before rather as a spectator at a show, observing the
pageants pass before me, but myself, from the nature of my employment,
taking no part in it from within.

A great deal that I saw was very dreadful and unchristian. Many of the
persons resembled hogs and monkeys more than human beings; and a great
deal of what passed for wit and merriment was nothing other than pure
evil. Virtue was very little reckoned of; or, rather reckoned only as
giving additional zest to its own corruption. I do not mean that there
were no virtuous people at all--(there were virtuous people in Sodom and
Gomorrah themselves)--but they were unusual, and were looked upon as a
little freakish or mad. Yet, for all that, side by side with the evil,
there went on a great deal of seemliness and religion: sermons were
preached before the Court every Sunday; and His Majesty, who by his own
life was greatly responsible for the wickedness around him, went to
morning-prayers at least three or four times in the week; though I
cannot say that his behaviour there accorded very well with the business
he was engaged upon. Some blamed the Bishops and other ministers for
their laxity and the flattery that they shewed to His Majesty: but I do
not think that charge is a fair one; for they were very bold indeed upon
occasion. Dr. Ken, who preached pretty often, was as outspoken as a
preacher well could be, denouncing the sins of the Court in unmeasured
language, even in His Majesty's presence: and a certain Bishop, whose
name I forget, observing on one occasion during sermon-time that the
King was fast asleep, turned and rebuked in a loud voice some other
gentleman who was asleep too.

"You snore so loudly, sir," he cried, "that you will awake His Majesty,
if you do not have a care."

I went sometimes to the chapel, with the crowd, to hear the anthem, as
the custom was; for the music was extraordinary good, and no expense
spared; and I heard there some very fine motets, the most of which were
adapted from the old Catholic music and set to new words taken from the
Protestant Scripture.

       *       *       *       *       *

I went one night in August to the Duke's Theatre, as it was called, to
see a play of Sir Charles Sedley, called _The Mulberry Garden_.

This extraordinary man, with whom I had already talked on more than one
occasion, was, according to one account, the loosest man that ever
lived; and indeed the tales related of him are such that I could not
even hint at them in such a work as this. But he was now about
forty-five years old; and a thought steadier. It chanced that he and my
Lord Dorset--(who was of the same reputation, but had fought too both by
land and sea)--were present with ladies, of whom the Duchess of
Cleveland was one, in one of the boxes that looked upon the stage; and I
was astonished at the behaviour of them all. Sedley himself, who
appeared pretty drunk, was the noisiest person in the house; he laughed
loudly at any of his own lines that took his fancy, and conversed
equally loudly with his friends when they did not. As for the play it
was of a very poor kind, and gave me no pleasure at all; for there was
but one subject in it from beginning to end, and that was the passion
which the author would call love. There were lines too in it of the
greatest coarseness, and at these he laughed the loudest. He had a sharp
bold face, of an extraordinary insolence; and he appeared to take the
highest delight in the theme of his play--(which he had written for the
King's Theatre a good while before)--and which concerned nothing else
but the love-adventures of two maids that had an over-youthful fop for a
father.

When the play was over, and I going out to my little coach that I used,
I found that the Duchess of Cleveland's coach stopped the way, in spite
of the others waiting behind, and Her Grace not come. However there was
nothing to be done: and I waited. Presently out they came, Sedley
leading the way with great solemnity, who knocked against me as I stood
there, and asked what the devil I did in his road.

I saluted them as ironically as I could; and begged his pardon.

"I had no idea, Sir Charles," said I, "that the theatre and street were
yours as well as the play."

He looked at me as if he could not believe his ears; but my Lord Dorset
who was just behind came up and took him by the arm.

"He is right," he said. "Mr. Mallock is quite right. Beg his pardon, I
tell you."

"Why the devil--" began Sir Charles again, still not recognizing me.

My Lord clapped him sharply on his hat, driving it over his eyes.

"He is blind now, Mr. Mallock," he said, "in every sense. You would not
be angry with a blind man!"

When Sir Charles had got his hat straight again he was now angry with my
Lord Dorset, and very friendly and apologetic to myself, whom I suppose
he had remembered by now; so the two drove away presently, after the
ladies, still disputing loudly. But I think my Lord's behaviour shewed
me more than ever that I was become a person of some consequence. Yet
this kind of manners, in the midst of the crowd, though it commended
gentlemen as well known as were those two--to the ruder elements among
the spectators, who laughed and shouted--did a great deal of harm in
those days to the Court and the King, among the more serious and sober
persons of the country; and it is these who, in the long run, always
have the ordering of things. God knows I would not live in a puritanical
country if I could help it; yet decent breeding is surely due from
gentlemen.

       *       *       *       *       *

A week or two later I was at a _levée_ in Her Majesty's apartments; and
had a clearer sight than ever of the relations between the King and
Queen.

Now His Majesty had behaved himself very ill to the Queen; he had
flaunted his mistresses everywhere, and had even compelled her to
receive them; he had neglected her very grossly; yet I must say in his
defence that there was one line he would not pass: he would not on any
account listen to those advisers of his who from time to time had urged
him to put her away by divorce, and marry a Protestant who might bear
him children. Even my Lord Bishop of Salisbury, Dr. Burnet, had,
thirteen or fourteen years ago given as his opinion that a barren wife
might be divorced, and even that polygamy was not contrary to the New
Testament! This, however, Charles had flatly refused to countenance;
and, when he thought of it, now and again, shewed her a sort of
compassionate kindness, in spite of his distaste for her company. Yet
his very compassionateness proved his distaste.

It was on occasion of a reception by Her Majesty of some Moorish
deputation or embassage from Tangier, that I was present in her
apartments; and it was immediately after this, too--(so that I have good
cause to remember it)--that the first completely unexpected reverse came
to my fortunes.

I arrived at Her Majesty's lodgings about nine o'clock in the evening;
and was pleased to see that the Yeomen of the Guard lined the staircase
up to the great gallery. This was an honour which the Queen did not very
often enjoy; and very fine they looked in their scarlet and gold, with
their halberds, all the way up from the bottom to the top.

The Great Gallery, when I came into it, was tolerably full of people,
of whom I spoke to a good number, among whom again were Sir Charles
Sedley and my Lord Dorset, as usual inseparable. But I was very much
astonished at the manner in which the Moors were treated, for they were
seated on couches, on one side of the state under which Her Majesty sat,
as if they were some kind of raree-show, set there to be looked at. They
were extraordinary rich and barbaric in their appearance; and when I had
kissed Her Majesty's hand, I too went and looked with the rest of the
crowd who jostled all together to stare at them. They were in very
gorgeous silks, and wore turbans; and their jewels were beyond anything
that I had ever seen--great uncut emeralds, and red stones of which I
did not know the name, and ropes of pearls. The folks about me bore
themselves with an amazing insolence, regarding them as if they had been
monsters, and freely making comments on them which their interpreter, at
least, must have understood. The Moors themselves behaved with great
dignity; and it was impossible not to reflect that these shewed a far
higher degree of dignity and civilization than did my own countrymen.
They were very dark-skinned, and three or four of them of a wonderful
handsomeness. They sat there almost in silence, looking gravely at the
crowd, and observing, I thought, with surprise the bare shoulders and
bosoms of the ladies who stared and screamed as much as any. It appeared
to me that these poor Moors, too, thought that the civilization lay
principally upon their own side. I presently felt ashamed of myself for
looking at them; and turned away.

       *       *       *       *       *

The gallery and the antechambers had some fine furniture in them, pushed
against the walls that the crowd might circulate; but all was not near
so fine as the Duchess of Portsmouth's apartments, nor even as the
King's. The cressets, I saw, most of them, were of brass, not silver;
the brocades, which were Portuguese, were a little faded here and there;
and there was not near the show of gold and silver plate that I had
expected. But of all the sights there, I think Her Majesty was the most
melancholy. She was dressed very splendid; and her skirt was so stiff
with bullion that it scarce fell in folds at all. Her pearls were
magnificent, but too many of them; for her _coiffure_ was full of them.
She resembled, to my mind, a sorrowful child dressed up for a play. Her
complexion was very dark and faded, though her features were
well-formed, all except her mouth. She was a little like a very pretty
monkey, if such a thing can be conceived. She sat under her state, with
an empty chair beside her--very upright, with the Countess of Suffolk
and her other ladies round about her and behind her. She appeared
altogether ill at ease, and eyed continually down the length of the
gallery along which His Majesty would come, if indeed he came at all;
for he had a way of sending a sudden message that he could not; and all
the world knew where he would be instead.

To-night, however, he kept his word and came.

I was in one of the antechambers at the time, talking to a couple of
gentlemen and to one of the Queen's Portuguese chaplains who knew a
little Italian, when I heard the music playing, and ran out in time to
see him go past from the way that led from his own lodgings. He seemed
in a very merry mood this evening, and was smiling as he walked, very
fast, as usual. He was in a dark yellow and gold brocade that set off
the darkness of his complexion wonderful well, and a dark brown periwig
with his hat upon it; and he wore his Garter and Star. The crowd closed
in behind his gentlemen so that I could not get near him; and when I
came up he was on his chair by Her Majesty, and she smiling and
tremulous with happiness, and the Moors coming up one by one to kiss his
hand.

I could not hear very well what the interpreter was saying, when all
this was done; but I heard him speak of a gift of thirty ostriches that
this Moorish mission had brought as a gift to him.

His Majesty laughed loud when he heard that.

"I can send nothing more proper back again," said he, "than a flock of
geese. I have enough and to spare of them."

Then, when all about were laughing, he turned very solemn. "You had best
not tell them that," he said; "or they might take some of my friends
away with them in mistake."

(This was pretty fooling; but it scarce struck me as suited to the
dignity of the occasion.)

Presently the interpreter was saying how consumed with loyal envy were
these Moors at all the splendour that they saw about them.

"It is better to be envied than pitied," observed His Majesty, with a
very serious look.

       *       *       *       *       *

At first be bore himself with extraordinary geniality this evening. He
had been drinking a little, I think, yet not at all to excess, for this
he never did, though he had no objection to others doing so in his
company. There was related of him, I remember, how the Lord Mayor once,
after a City Banquet, pressed His Majesty very unduly to remain a little
longer after he had risen up to go. His Majesty was already at the door
when the Mayor did this, even venturing--(for he was pretty far gone in
wine)--to lay his fingers on the King's arm.

His Majesty looked at him for an instant, and then burst out laughing.

"Ah well!" he said, quoting the old song, "'He that is drunk is as great
as a King.'"

And he went back and drank another bottle.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was in that merry kind of mood, then, this evening: but such moods
have their reactions; and half an hour later he was beginning first to
yawn behind his hand and then to wear a heavy look on his face. Her
Majesty observed it, too, as I could see: for she fell silent (which was
the worst thing in the world to do), and began to eye him sidelong with
a kind of dismay. (It was wonderful how little knowledge she had of how
to manage him; and how she shewed to all present what she was feeling.)

Presently he was paying no more attention to her at all, but was leaning
back in his chair, listening to my Lord Dorset who was talking in his
ear; and nodding and smiling rather heavily sometimes. I felt very sorry
for the Queen; but I had best have been feeling sorry for myself, for it
was now, that, all unknown to me, a design was maturing against me,
though not from my Lord Dorset.

As I was about to turn away, to go once more through the rooms before
taking my leave, I observed Mr. Chiffinch coming through very fast from
the direction of the King's apartments, as if he had some message. He
did not observe me, as I was within the crowd; but I saw him go up,
threading his way as well as he could, and touching one or two to make
them move out of his way, straight up to the King's side of the state. I
thought he would pause then; but he did not. He put his hand on my Lord
Dorset's shoulder from behind, and made him give way; and then he took
his place and began to whisper to His Majesty. I saw His Majesty frown
once or twice, as if he were displeased, and then glance quickly up at
the faces before him, and down again, as if he looked to see if someone
were there. But I did not know that it was for me that he looked. Then
the King nodded thrice, sharply--Mr. Chiffinch whispering all the
while--and then he leaned over and whispered to the Queen. Then both of
them stood up, the King looking heavier than ever, and the Queen very
near fit to cry, and both came down front the dais together, all the
company saluting them and making way. And so they went down the gallery
together.

I was still staring after him, wondering what was the matter, when I
felt myself touched, and turned to find Mr. Chiffinch at my elbow. He
looked very serious.

"Come this way, sir," said he. "I must speak with you instantly."

I went after him, down the gallery; and he led me into the little empty
chamber where I had been talking with the priest half an hour ago. He
closed the door carefully behind him; and turned to me again.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "I have very serious news for you."

"Yes," said I, never dreaming what the matter was.

"It touches yourself very closely," he said, searching my face with his
eyes.

"Well; what is it?" asked I--my heart beginning to beat a little.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, very gravely, "there is an order for your
arrest. If you will come back with me quietly to my lodgings we can
effect all that is necessary without scandal."



CHAPTER IV


I said never a word as we went back, first downstairs between the
Yeomen, then to the right, and so round through the little familiar
passage and up the stairs. I could hear the tramp of guards behind, and
knew that they had followed us from the Queen's lodgings and would be at
the doors after we were within. I was completely stunned, except, I
think, for a little glimmer of sense still left which told me that the
least said in any public place, the better. Mr. Chiffinch, too, I could
see very well, was as bewildered as myself--for, so far as I was
concerned, there was not yet the faintest suspicion in my mind as to
what was the matter. At least, I told myself, my conscience was clear.

So soon as we were within the closet, the page, having again shut the
door carefully behind me came forward to where I stood.

"Sit down, Mr. Mallock," said he, in a low voice, but very kindly.

I could see that his face was very pale and that he seemed greatly
agitated. When I was seated, he sat himself down at his table a little
way off.

"This is a terrible affair," he said, "and I do not know--"

"For God's sake," I whispered suddenly, "tell me what I am charged
with."

He looked up at me sharply.

"You do not know, Mr. Mallock?"

"Before God," I said, "I have no more idea what the pother is about
than--"

"Well, shortly," he said, "it is treason."

"Treason! Why--"

He leaned forward and took up a pen, to play with as be talked.

"I will tell you the whole thing from the beginning," he said. "You
must have patience. An hour ago a clerk came to me here from the Board
of the Green Cloth to tell me that the magistrates desired my presence
there immediately on a matter of the highest importance. I went there
directly and found three or four of them there, with Sir George Jeffreys
whom they had sent for, it seemed, as they did not know what course to
pursue, and had thought perhaps that I might throw some light upon it.
They were very grave indeed, and presently mentioned your name, saying
that a charge had been laid against you before one of the Westminster
magistrates, of having been privy to the Ryehouse Plot."

"Why--" cried I, with sudden relief.

He held up his hand.

"Wait," he said, "I too laughed when I heard that; and gave them to
understand on what side you had been throughout that matter, and how you
had been in His Majesty's service and that I myself was privy to every
detail of the affair. They looked more easy at that; and I thought that
all was over. But they asked me to look at papers they had of yours--"

"Papers! Of mine!" I cried.

"Yes, Mr. Mallock. Papers of yours. I will tell you presently how they
came by them. Well; there were about a dozen, I suppose, altogether; and
some of them I knew all about, and said so. These were notes and reports
that you had shewed to me: and there were three or four more which,
though I had not seen them I could answer for. But there was one, Mr.
Mallock, that I could not understand at all."

He paused and looked at me; and I could see that he was uneasy.

Now it may appear incredible; but even then I could not think of what
paper he meant. To the best of my belief I had shewn him everything that
I thought to be of the least importance--notes and reports, as he had
said, such as was that which I had made in the wherry on my way up from
Wapping one night.

I shook my head.

"I do not know what you mean," I said. "Where did they get the papers
from?"

"Think again, Mr. Mallock. I said it was on a charge of treason just
now. Well: I will say now that it may be no more than misprision of
treason."

Still I had no suspicion. I was thinking still, I suppose, of my
lodgings here in Whitehall and of a few papers I had there.

"You must tell me," I said.

"Mr. Mallock," he said, "this paper I speak of was in cypher. It
contained--"

"Lord!" I cried. "Cousin Tom!--"

Then I bit my lip; but it was too late.

"Yes," said the other, very gravely. "I can see that you remember. It
was your cousin who brought them up from Hare Street. He found them all
in a little hiding-hole: and conceived it to be his duty--"

"His duty!" I cried. "Good God! why--"

Then again I checked myself.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I, "I remember the paper perfectly: at least I
remember that I had it, though I have never read it or thought anything
of it."

"It is in very easy cypher, sir," said he, with some severity.

"Well; it was too hard for me," I said.

"Then why did you not shew it to me?" he asked.

"Lord! man," I said, "I tell you it was gone clean from my memory. I got
it from Rumbald a great while ago--a year or two at the least before the
Plot. It was on my mind to send it to you; but I did not. I had no idea
that it was of the least importance."

"A letter, in cypher, and from Rumbald! And you thought it of no
importance--even though the names of my Lord Shaftesbury and half a
dozen others are written in full!"

"I tell you I forgot it," I said sullenly, for I had not looked for
suspicion from this man.

He still looked at me, as if searching my face: and I suppose that I
presented the very picture of an unmasked villain; for the whole affair
was so surprising and unexpected that I was completely taken aback.

"Well," he said, "if you had but shewn me that paper, we could have
forestalled the whole affair."

"What was in it?" I asked, striving to control myself.

"You tell me you do not know?" he asked.

Then indeed I lost control of myself. I stood up.

"Mr. Chiffinch," I said, "I see that you do not believe a word that I
say. It will be best if you take me straight to those who have authority
to question me."

He did not move.

"You had best sit down again, Mr. Mallock. I do not say that I do not
believe you. But I will allow that I do not know what to think. You are
a very shrewd man, sir; and it truly is beyond my understanding that you
should have forgotten so completely this most vital matter. I wish to be
your friend; but I confess I do not understand. Oh! sit down, man!" he
cried suddenly. "Do not playact with me. Just answer my questions."

I sat down again. I saw that he was sincere and that indeed he was
puzzled; and my anger went.

"Well," I said, "I suppose it may be difficult. Let me tell you the
whole affair."

So I told him. I related the whole of my adventure in the inn, and how I
got the paper, and tried to read it, and could not: then, how I took it
to Hare Street and put it where he had described: then how I very nearly
had asked a Jesuit priest if he had any skill in cypher; and then how,
once more, it had all slipped my mind, and that, a long time having
elapsed, even when Rumbald became prominent again, even then I had not
remembered it.

"That is absolutely the whole tale," I said; "and I know no more than
the dead what it is all about. What is it all about, Mr. Chiffinch?"

He drew a breath and then expelled it again, and, at the same time stood
up, withdrawing his eyes from my face. I think it was then for the first
time that he put away his doubts; for I had got my wits back again and
could talk reasonably.

"Well," he said, "we had best be off at once, and see what they say."

"Where to?" asked I.

"Why to His Majesty's lodgings," he said. "I fetched him out to tell
him. Did you not see me?"

"His Majesty!" I cried.

"Why yes; I thought it best. Else it would have meant your arrest, Mr.
Mallock."

       *       *       *       *       *

I must confess that my uneasiness came back--(which had left me just
now)--as I went with the page to the King's lodgings, more especially
when I saw again how the guards fell in behind us and followed us every
step of the way. It was very well to say that I "should have been
arrested" if such and such a thing had not happened: the truth was, I
was already under arrest, as I should soon have found if I had attempted
to run away. It seemed to me somewhat portentous too that His Majesty
was so ready to see us, instead of mocking at the whole tale at once.

Mr. Chiffinch said nothing to me as we went. I think he himself was
fully convinced of my innocence--at least of any deliberate
treachery--but not so convinced that others would be; and that he was
considering how he should put my case. It was a sad humiliation for
me--this trudging along like a schoolboy going to be whipped, with a
couple of guards following to see that I did not evade it.

We went straight upstairs, through the antechamber, and to the door of
the private closet. I heard voices talking there--one of which cried to
come in as the page knocked. Then we entered.

I had thought to find His Majesty alone, or very nearly so; and I was
astonished and disconcerted at the number of persons that were there.
The King himself was seated beyond his great table, with the rest
standing about him, five in number. On his right was Sir George Jeffreys
in his rich suit, just as he had come from some entertainment, his
handsome face flushed with wine, yet none the less full of wit and
attention. The officer of the Green Cloth was on the other side--(it was
this gentleman's business to deal with all cases, within his
jurisdiction, that took their rise in Whitehall itself); and a couple of
magistrates beside him, with neither of whom I had any acquaintance. An
officer, whose face again was new to me--named Colonel Hoskyns--a
truculent-looking fellow, in the dress of His Majesty's Lifeguards,
stood very upright beside Sir George Jeffreys, with his hat in his hand.
A sheaf of papers lay before the King on the table.

I was even more disconcerted to see how His Majesty looked. An hour or
two ago he had been smiling and gracious: now he wore a very stern look
on his face; he made no sign of recognition as I came in after Mr.
Chiffinch, but, so soon as the door was shut, spoke immediately to the
page.

"Well?" he said. "What have you got from him?"

Chiffinch advanced a step nearer, glancing at the faces that all looked
on him.

"Sir," he said, "I am convinced there has been nothing more than an
indiscretion--"

Then the King shewed how angry he was. He threw himself back in his
chair.

"Bah!" he cried--"an indiscretion indeed! With his guilt staring him
in the face!"

There was a murmur from the others: and Colonel Hoskyns gave me a look
of very high disdain, as if I had been a toad or a serpent. For myself I
said nothing: I remained with my eyes down. Once or twice before I had
seen His Majesty in this very mood. For the most part he was the least
suspicious man I had ever encountered; but once his suspicion was awake
there was none harder to persuade. So he had been with His Grace of
Monmouth on two or three occasions; so, it appeared, he was to be with
me now.

"Sir," said Mr. Chiffinch again, "I have examined Mr. Mallock very
closely: but I have told him very little. Will Your Majesty allow him
to hear what the case is against him?"

The King, who was frowning and pursing his lips, raised his eyes; and
immediately I dropped my own. He was in a black mood indeed, and all the
blacker for his past kindness to me.

"Tell him, Hoskyns," he said; and then, before the Colonel could speak
he addressed me directly.

"Mr. Mallock," he said sharply, "I will tell you plainly why I have you
here, and why you are not in ward. You have been of service to me; I do
not deny that. And I have never known you yet to betray your trust.
Well, then, I do not wish to disgrace you publicly without allowing you
an opportunity of speaking and clearing yourself if that is possible. I
tell you frankly, I do not think you will. I see no loophole anywhere.
But--well there it is. Tell him, Hoskyns."

I will not deny that I was terrified. This was so wholly unlike all I
had ever known of His Majesty. What in the world could be the case
against me? (For I now saw that Mr. Chiffinch had not told me the whole,
but only a part of the charge.) I fixed my eyes upon Mr. Hoskyns for
whom I had conceived, so soon as I had set eyes on him, an extreme
repulsion.

He made a kind of apologetic cringing movement towards the papers. The
King made no movement, but rested heavily in his chair, with his hat
forward, his elbows on the arms of his chair and his fingers knit
beneath his chin. The Colonel took the papers up, shuffled them for a
minute, and then began. There was an extraordinary malice in his manner
which I could not understand.

"The charge against the--the gentleman--whose name, I understand, is
Roger Mallock, consists of two distinct points:

"The first is that he has received and concealed a paper, containing an
account of a debate held between certain of His Majesty's enemies, five
years ago, in November of sixteen hundred and seventy-nine, with the
list of the persons present and the votes that they gave as regards
compassing the King's death. The first point to which Mr. Mallock has to
answer is, How he came to be in possession of this paper at all?"

I made a movement to speak, as his voice ceased; but the King held up
his hand. Then, as if by an afterthought he dropped it again.

"Well; speak if you like--point by point. But I would recommend you to
hear it all first."

"Sir," I said, "I have no reserves, and nothing to conceal. I will
answer point by point if Your Majesty will give me leave."

He said nothing. I turned back to the other.

"Well, sir," I said, "I had that paper from one Rumbald, in a private
parlour in the _Mitre_ inn, without Aldgate. He gave it me with some
others, and forgot to ask for it again."

No one moved a finger or a feature, except the Colonel, who glanced at
me, and then down again.

"The second point is, Why Mr. Mallock did not hand over the paper to the
proper authorities." Again he paused.

"It was in cypher," said I, "and I could not read it."

"Then why did you preserve it so carefully, sir?" asked the Colonel
angrily, speaking direct to me for the first time.

"I preserved it because it might be of interest, seeing from whom I
received it."

"You preserved it then, because it might be of interest; and you did not
hand it over because it might not," sneered the Colonel.

"Come! come!" said the King sharply. "We must have a better answer than
that, Mr. Mallock."

Then my heart blazed at the injustice.

"Sir," I said, "I am telling the naked truth. If I were a liar and a
knave I could make up a very plausible tale, no doubt. But I am not. The
naked truth is that I preserved the paper for what it might contain; and
then--"

I paused then; for I saw plainly what a very poor defence I had.

"And then--" sneered the Colonel softly.

"If you must have the truth," I said, "I forgot all about it."

Well; it was as I thought. Sir George Jeffreys threw back his head and
laughed aloud--(he was a man of extraordinary freedom with the King)--a
great grin appeared on the Colonel's face; and His Majesty, as I saw in
the shadow beneath his hat, smiled bitterly, showing his white teeth.
Even the magistrates chuckled together.

"Ah, sir," said Jeffreys, "for a clever man that is truly a little dull.
You might have done better than that."

Then desperation seized me; and I flung all prudence to the winds.

"I thought you wanted the truth," said I. "I will lie if you drive me
much further. Go on, sir," I cried to Hoskyns. "Let us have the rest."

The King stared at me, and his face was terrible.

"A word more like that in my presence, sir--"

"Sir," I cried, "I mean no disrespect. But I am hard put to it--"

"You are indeed," said Jeffreys. "Go on, Colonel Hoskyns."

The Colonel sniffled through his nose, lifting his papers once more.

"The next main charge against Mr. Mallock is even more grave. It is to
the effect that when His Majesty and His Royal Highness were together at
Newmarket, Mr. Mallock, knowing that there was a plot against their
lives--of which the Rye was the centre--despatched a messenger to His
Majesty bidding him come immediately, by the road that leads past the
Rye, instead of directing him by Royston."

At that monstrous charge my spirit almost went from me. That it should
be this thing, above all others that should be brought against me! I
glanced this way and that; and saw how even Chiffinch, who had fallen
back a little as I advanced, was looking askance at me!

"That is perfectly true," I said. "What of it?"

"Mr. Mallock does not seem to perceive," snarled the Colonel, "that the
fact itself is enough. It is true that no harm came of it; but Mr.
Mallock will scarcely deny that an armed man stood by him, waiting for
the coach."

"Armed with a cleaver," said I, "which he presently flung at my head."

"So Mr. Mallock says," observed the Colonel.

"You say I am a liar?" I cried.

The King struck suddenly upon the table.

"Silence, sir!" he said. "Mr. Chiffinch, you told me before that you had
something to say. You had best say it now."

I fell back, for I saw that my bolt was shot. If Chiffinch could not
save me, no man could. It was gone clean beyond mere misprision of
treason now: I saw that plain enough.

Then Mr. Chiffinch began; and I am bound to say that he shewed himself a
better pleader than myself. I thanked God, as he spoke, that I had
treated him with patience just now in his lodgings.

First, he remarked that I had been in His Majesty's service now for near
six years, and that in all that time I had proved myself loyal and
faithful. Then he proceeded to deal with the charges.

First, he said that the very weakness of my excuse with regard to the
paper was my strength. If I were indeed the villain that I seemed, why
in God's name had I not destroyed the paper? I had had near five years
to do it in! Was not that an additional sign that I had, as I said,
merely forgotten it? (As be said this I marvelled that I had not thought
of that answer myself.) It was true that the paper was of the highest
importance, but, as my story stood, I had not known that. Should not my
word then be taken, considering all the other services I had done to His
Majesty?

With regard to the second point, first let them divest their minds of
any prejudice caused by the first; for the first was not proved. Having
done that, it was necessary to remember how carefully I had reported
every movement of the King's enemies to himself--Mr. Chiffinch. It was
true that there had been found other papers in the hiding-hole which he
himself had not seen, but he had at least known the substance of
them--except of course of the cypher of which he had already treated.
With regard to the affair at the Rye it was necessary to remember that
my policy throughout had been to report all that I had learned and to
interpret it as directly contrary to the truth; and that this policy had
proved successful. (I saw the Colonel give a very odd look as this was
said; and I saw that Mr. Chiffinch had seen it too.) At the worst it had
been an error of judgment on my part that I had recommended the road by
the Rye; but it was an error that had had no bad consequences; and to
have recommended it was only in accordance with all my policy of taking
as true the precise opposite to all that the conspirators had told me.
So far as my policy was sound, all that I knew was that the Rye road
would be safe on that one day; of the Royston road I knew little or
nothing. As regards the incident of the cleaver, I had spoken of that to
him immediately I returned to town; and, surely, it was true that a
single man with a cleaver could do very little damage to a galloping
coach. In short, though the evidence might be interpreted as against
me--(here he shot a look at the Colonel)--it might also be interpreted
for me, and, that this was the fairer interpretation, he pleaded my
record of other services done to the King.

When he ended, there was a dead silence; and I think I knew even at that
moment that the worst at any rate had been averted. But I was not sure:
and I waited.

       *       *       *       *       *

Sir George Jeffreys was the first to move. He had remained motionless,
smiling a little, while the page had been speaking, watching him as a
man may watch an actor who pleases him. At the end, after a little
pause, he jerked his head a little, as if to throw off the situation. I
think he had had no malice to me, but had watched the whole affair as a
kind of sport, which was what he did upon the Bench too. He made a
movement as if to move away, but remembered where he was, and stood
still.

The two magistrates began to move also; and one nodded at the other.

Colonel Hoskyns shook his head sharply, and began to speak.

"Sir-" he began in his harsh voice.

The King held up his hand; and all was dead still again.

It was strange to me to watch the King, or rather to shoot a glance at
him now and again; for I saw presently, in spite of the shadow of his
hat and his dusky face, that he was looking from one to the other of us,
as if appraising what had been said. I heard a fellow cough somewhere,
not in the chamber, and knew by that that it was the guards, most
likely, who were waiting for the verdict. Truly, during those moments
all my confidence left me again; for this was a mood of the King that I
never understood and had never seen so clearly as I saw it now. It was a
sort of heaviness of mind, I think, that fell on him sometimes and
obscured his clear wit, for to my mind nothing could be more plain than
Mr. Chiffinch's argument. Yet I depended now, not only for my liberty,
but for my very life, on the King's judgment. As a Catholic and a member
of the secret service I could look for no hope at all if I were sent for
trial. I looked at Mr. Ramsden, the Officer of the Green Cloth; for I
had scarcely noticed him before, so quiet was he. It was through his
hands first, I supposed, that the case would pass. He was still
motionless, looking down upon the table.

Then the King spoke, not moving at all.

"Go into the antechamber, Mr. Mallock," he said dully, "and wait there
till you be sent for."

       *       *       *       *       *

I suppose that that waiting was the hardest I have ever done. Again my
suspense came down on me, and I had no idea as to which way the matter
would go. I sat very still there, hearing again one of the men hemming
without the door on the one side: and very low voices talking in the
chamber I had come from.

Then all of a sudden the door opened sharply, and Mr. Chiffinch came
through. He smiled and nodded, though a little doubtfully, as he came
through; and my heart gave a great leap, for I knew that the worst
would not happen to me.

He said nothing, but beckoned me to follow, and we went straight through
to where the guards wailed.

"You can go," he said; "this gentleman is no longer under arrest."

Still, all the way as we went, he said nothing; neither did I. He said
nothing at all till we were back again in his closet, and the door shut.
Then he faced me, smiling.

"Well, Mr. Mallock," he said, "His Majesty has determined to do nothing.
You may even keep your lodgings for the present; but you will be
watched, I need not tell you, very closely indeed: and you must expect
no more employment for a while."

"But--"

"Wait," said he. "That black mood is on His Majesty; and you are very
fortunate indeed to have come out of it so well. It was a very clever
little design--"

"Design!" cried I.

"Why, of course," he said. "Did you not see that? I should have thought
anyone--"

"Design," I said again. "Of whom? And why?"

He smiled.

"You are a very innocent young gentleman," he said, "in spite of your
dexterity. Of course it was a design; and it nearly deceived even
me--"

"My Cousin Tom--" I began.

"Your Cousin Tom is an ass," he said, "a malicious one, no doubt; but a
mere tool. I have no doubt he intended to injure you; but he could have
done nothing if he had not met with the right man. I have no doubt that
he came up with the papers, and gossiped in the coffee-houses till he
met other of your enemies: and they have done the rest. But it was
Colonel Hoskyns no doubt who manipulated the affair."

"Colonel Hoskyns!" I said. "Why, I have never set eyes on the man
before."

"I daresay not," said the page, still smiling. "But I have had his name
in my books for a great while."

"Who is he?" I cried. "And what reason had he--"

Mr. Chiffinch shook his head at me lamentably.

"Why he is one of the party," he said, "though I can get no evidence
that would hang a cat. I have no doubt whatever that he has been in the
whole Shaftesbury affair from the beginning, and knows that they made
shipwreck principally upon yourself. It is sheer revenge now, no doubt;
for they cannot hope to make any further attempts upon His Majesty."

"But he is in the Guards!" I said, all in amazement.

The page shrugged his shoulders.

"What would you have?" he said. "I can get no evidence, even to warn His
Majesty, though I have told him what I think. And, to tell the truth, I
believe His Majesty to be safe enough. But that does not hinder them
from wishing to have their revenge. Mr. Mallock--"

"Yes," I said, still all bewildered.

"I wonder what he will attempt next," said Mr. Chiffinch.



CHAPTER V


The dreariness of the time that followed is beyond my power of
description. I besought Mr. Chiffinch to let me go abroad again, but he
forbade me very emphatically; and I owed so much to him that I could not
find it in my heart to disobey. For so desperate was I, at the ruin of
all my hopes, that the thought even came to me that I would go back and
try to be a monk again; for how, thought I, can I keep my word even to
Dolly herself? Every prospect I had was ruined; my coronet was gone like
the dream which it had always been; I had failed lamentably and
hopelessly; and it was through her father's treachery and malice that
all had come about. This I felt in my heaviest moods; but Mr. Chiffinch
would hear none of it. He said that it was but a question of time, and
His Majesty would come round once more; that he would never be content
until I was reinstated; that he had not for an instant lost heart.
Besides, he said, I was of use in another way, and that was to make
Hoskyns disclose himself. Hoskyns would never rest, he said, till he had
made at least one more attempt upon me; and next time, he hoped, he
would catch him at it, and get rid of the fellow once and for all.

Neither could I even go to Hare Street; for how could I live again even
for an hour in the house of my Cousin who had betrayed me? I could not
even tell Dolly all that had fallen; for I was as sure as of anything in
the world that her father would tell her nothing, and I did not have the
heart to disgrace him in her eyes. I but wrote to her that I was a
little out of favour with His Majesty at present, though I kept my
lodgings, and that I must not stir from Court till I had regained my
position. Meanwhile I reserved what I had to say to my Cousin Tom, until
I should meet with him alone. I had no doubt whatever that he had done
what he had, thinking to get rid of me as his daughter's lover.

The time dragged then very heavily; for I did not care to go much into
the society of others, and had nowhere else to go, since I must not
leave Whitehall; for it soon became known that I was out of favour,
though I do not suppose that the reason was ever named. I spent my days
principally in my own lodgings, and did a good deal of private work for
Mr. Chiffinch, which occupied me. I went to the play sometimes, taking
my man James with me; and I rode out with him usually, down Chelsea way,
or to the north, coming back for dinner or supper. I never went alone,
by Mr. Chiffinch's urgent desire.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was after Christmas that matters were brought to a head, and that the
last great adventures of my life came about that closed all that I
thought to be life at that time. Even now, so many years after, I can
scarce bear to write them down, though, as I look back upon them now,
there were at least two matters for which I should have thanked God even
then. I thank Him now.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was on the last Thursday but one, in January, to be precise, that I
was coming back from a ride, having been down the river-bank past
Chelsea, where I had seen, I remember, Winchester House--that great
place with all its courts--and my Lord Bishop returning in his coach: I
do not remember anything else that I saw, for I was very heavy indeed
and more than ever determined that, if matters did not mend very soon, I
would be off to France (where, six months later, I should be obliged to
go in any case when my estates would come to me), if not to Rome. It was
near five months now that I had lived in disgrace, His Majesty not
speaking to me above three or four times all that while, and then only
to avoid incivility.

I could not understand why it was that he behaved so to me. He must know
by now, surely, that I had never been anything but faithful to him; and
I strove to put away the thought that it was mere caprice, and that he
often behaved so to others. But I am afraid that such was the case.
There were plenty of folks at Court, or who had left it, who had once
been in high favour and had ceased to be, through no fault of their own.
Neither would I seek consolation from any other source. The Duke was
civil to me whenever we met, and I suppose he knew that I was in
trouble, but he never spoke of it. Indeed it was a sad change from the
time when I had returned so joyfully, and found my new lodgings waiting
for me.

       *       *       *       *       *

As we came up through Westminster I was riding alone, for I had bidden
my man James to go aside to a little shop that was almost on our route,
behind the abbey, to buy me something that I needed--I think it was a
pair of cuffs; but I am not sure. It was very near dark, and the lamps
were not yet lighted.

As I came towards the gate of Whitehall, I was riding very carelessly
and heavily, paying little attention to anything, for I was thinking, as
it happened, of Dolly, with an extraordinary misery in my heart, and of
how I should ever tell her (unless matters mended soon) of what her
father had done; and whether in some manner he would not yet contrive to
separate us. My horse swerved a little, and I pulled him up, for there
were a couple of fellows immediately crossing before me. I saw that they
looked hard at me; but I noticed no more, for at that instant I heard a
horse coming up behind me, and turned to see that it was James. He
looked a little strange, thought I, but he said nothing: only he came
up, right beside me, and so rode with me through the gate.

He said nothing then, nor did I; and it was not until I was dismounted
and a fellow had run out to take the horses that he asked if he might
speak with me.

"Why, certainly," said I; and we turned together into the Court.

"Sir," he said, so soon as we were out of earshot of the guard, "did you
see those two fellows without the gate?" I said that I had.

"Sir," he said, "they were following you all the way from Chelsea. I
saw them at Winchester House; and I have seen them before to-day, too."

"Eh?" said I, a little startled.

Then he told me he had seen them for the last fortnight, three or four
times at least, and that he was sure they were after some mischief. Once
before to-day too, as we were riding in Southwark, and he had delayed
for a stone in his horse's foot, he had seen them run out from behind a
wall, but that they had made off when they saw him coming.

Now I knew very well what he meant. London was very far from being a
safe place in those days for a man that had enemies. There was scarcely
a week passed but there was some outrage, in broad daylight too, in less
populated parts, and in the various Fields, and after dark men were not
very safe in the City itself.

A year ago I should have thought nothing of it; but I was down in the
world now, I knew very well, and I had enemies who would stick at
nothing. It was true that they had let me alone for a while--no doubt
lest any suspicion should attach to them--but the winter was on us now,
and the mornings and evenings were dark; and, too, a good deal of time
had elapsed. I remembered what Mr. Chiffinch had said to me at the
beginning of the trouble.

"You did very well to tell me," I said. "Would you know them again if
you saw them?"

"I think so, sir," he said.

"Well," I said, "I have no doubt that they are after me. You will tell
my other men, will you not?"

"I told them a week ago," he said.

I said no more to him then; but instead of going immediately to my
lodgings, I went first to see Mr. Chiffinch, and found him just come in.
I told him very briefly what James had told me; but made no comment. He
whistled, and bade me sit down.

"They are after you then," he said. "I thought they would be."

"But who are they?" said I, a little peevishly.

"If I knew their names," said the page, "I could put my hands on them
on some excuse or other. But I do not know. It is the dregs of the old
country-party no doubt."

"And what good do they think to get out of me?"

"Why, it is revenge no doubt," he said. "They know that you are down
with the king and have not many friends; and they suspect that you are
still in with the secret service, no doubt."

"They are after my life, then?" I asked.

"I should suppose so."

He considered a minute or two in silence. At last he spoke again.

"I will have a word with His Majesty. He is treating you shamefully, Mr.
Mallock; and I will tell him so. And I will take other measures also."

I asked what those might be.

"I will have my men to look out closely when you go about. You had best
not go alone at all. Within Whitehall you are safe enough; but I would
not go out except with a couple of men, if I were you."

I told him I always took one, at least.

"Well; I would take two," he observed. "There was that murder last week,
in Lincoln's Inn Fields--put down to the Mohocks. Well; it was a
gentleman of my own who was killed, though that is not known; and it was
no more Mohocks than it was you or I."

       *       *       *       *       *

As we were still talking my man James came up to seek me, with a letter
that he had found in my lodgings, waiting for me. I knew the hand well
enough; and I suppose that I shewed it; for when I looked up from
reading it, Mr. Chiffinch was looking at me with a quizzical face.

"That is good news, Mr. Mallock, is it not?"

I could not refrain from smiling; for indeed it was as if the sun had
risen on my dreariness.

"It is very good news," I said. "It is from my cousin--the 'pretty
cousin,' Mr. Chiffinch. She is come to town with her maid; and asks me
to sup with her."

"Well; take your two men when you go to see her," said he, laughing a
little. "They can entertain the maid, and you the mistress."

       *       *       *       *       *

I cannot say how wonderfully the whole aspect of the world was changed
to me, as I set out in a little hired coach I used sometimes, with my
two men, half an hour later, for my old lodgings in Covent Garden where,
she said, she had come that evening. It was a very short letter; but it
was very sweet to me. She said only that she could wait no more; that
she knew how ill things must be going with me, and that she must see
with her own eyes that I was not dead altogether. I had striven in my
letters to her to make as light as I could of my troubles; but I suppose
that her woman's wit and her love had pierced my poor disguises. At
least here she was.

       *       *       *       *       *

She was standing, all ready to greet me, in that old parlour of mine
where I had first met her six years ago; and she was more beautiful now,
a thousand times, in my eyes, than even then. The candles were lighted
all round the walls, and the curtains across the windows; and her maid
was not there. She had already changed her riding dress, and was in her
evening gown with her string of little pearls. As I close my eyes now I
can see her still, as if she stood before me. Her lips were a little
parted, and her flushed cheeks and her bright eyes made all the room
heaven for me. I had not seen her for six months.

"Well, Cousin Roger," she said--no more.

       *       *       *       *       *

Presently, even before supper came in, she had begun her questioning.

"Cousin Roger," she said--(we two were by the fire, she on a couch and I
in a great chair)--"Cousin Roger, you have treated me shamefully. You
have told me nothing, except that you were in trouble; and that I could
have guessed for myself. I am come to town for three days--no more: my
father for a long time forbade me even to do that. If he were not gone
to Stortford for the horse-fair I should not be here now."

"He does not know you are come to town!" I cried.

She shook her head, like a child, and her eyes twinkled with merriment.

"He thinks I am still minding the sheep," she said. "But that is not the
point. Cousin Roger, I care nothing whatever for His Majesty's affairs,
nor for secret service, nor for anything else of that kind. But I care
very much that you should be in trouble and not tell me what it is."

Now I had not had much time to think what I should say, if she
questioned me, as I knew she would; for it would not be an easy thing to
tell her that her father was at the root of my troubles and had behaved
like a treacherous hound. Yet sooner or later she must be told, unless I
lost heart altogether. I might soften it and soften it--pretend that her
father owed a greater duty to the King than to me, and must have thought
it right to do as he had done. But she would see through it all: that I
knew very well.

"Dolly," said I, very slowly, "I have not told you yet, because there
was nothing in the world that you could do to help me. I have waited,
thinking that matters might come straight again; but they have not. I
will tell you, then, before you go home again. I promise you that. And
on my side I ask you not to question me this evening. Let us have this
one evening without any troubles at all."

She looked at me very earnestly for a moment without speaking; and I
could see that her lightness of manner had been but put on to disguise
how anxious she was. It is wonderful how a woman--in spite of her
foolishness at other times--can read the heart of a man. I had said very
little to her in my letters; and yet I could see now how she had
suffered all the while. I had thought myself to have been alone in my
unhappiness; now I understood that never for an instant had I been so;
and my whole heart rose up in a kind of exultation and longing. Then she
swallowed down her anxiety.

"I take you at your word, Cousin Roger," she said lightly. "I will ask
no question at all."

Then Anne and my man James came in with the supper.

       *       *       *       *       *

I think there is not one moment of that evening in my old lodgings that
I have forgotten. As now I look back upon it it seems to me to have that
kind of brightness which a garden has when a storm is coming up very
quickly, and the clouds are very black, and yet the shadow has not yet
reached it. I remember how the curtains hung across the windows; they
were my own old curtains of blue stuff, a little faded but still rich
and good; how the fire glowed in the wide chimney; how Dolly looked
across the table, in her blue sac, with lace, and her wide sleeves, and
her little pearls. She had dressed up, all for me, as indeed I had for
her, for I was in my maroon suit, with my silver-handled sword and my
black periwig. Ah! and above all I remember the very look in her eyes as
she suddenly clapped her hands together. (The servants were out of the
room at that instant.)

"Cousin Roger!" she said, "I shall never keep my promise unless I am
distracted. We will go to the play: you and I and Anne, all together:
and your man James shall wait upon us with oranges."

Well; she had said it; and I laughed at her merriment: she was so like a
child on her holiday, and a stolen holiday too. The ways of God are very
strange--that so much should hang upon so little! It was upon that
sudden thought of hers that the whole of my life turned; and hers too!
As it was, I said nothing but that it should be as she wished; and that
my coach should set us down there and come again when the play was over.
So the threads are caught up in those great unseen shuttles that are
guided by God's Hand, and the whole pattern changed, it would appear, by
a moment's whim. And yet I cannot doubt--for if I did, my whole faith
would be shattered--that even those whims are part of the Divine design,
and that all is done according to His Holy Will.

The rest of supper was hastened, lest we should be late for the play;
and then, when James came up to tell us that the coach was
waiting--though it was scarcely a hundred yards to the King's
Theatre--and Dolly was gone for her hood and cloak, I stood, with a
glass of wine in my hand, on the hearth, looking down at the fire.

Now I cannot tell how it was; but I suppose that the shadow that I spoke
of just now, began to touch that little garden of love in which I stood;
for a kind of melancholy came on me again. While she had been with cue,
it had all seemed gone; we had been as merry at supper as if nothing at
all were the matter; but now, even while she was in the next chamber
with her maid, I fell a-brooding once more. I thought--God knows
why!--of the little parlour at Hare Street which I had not seen for so
long, and of the fire that burned there, upon that hearth too--the
hearth on which I had stood in my foolish patronizing pride when I had
first asked her to be my wife and she had treated me as I deserved. I
did not think then of how we had sat there together afterwards so often;
and of the happiness I had had there, but only of that miserable
Christmas night when I thought I had lost her. The mood came on me
suddenly; and I was still brooding when she came in again, alone. She
was in her hood, and her face looked out of it like a flower.

"Cousin Roger," she said, "I have never told you why I came up to-day."

"My dear; you did," I said. "It was your father who--"

"No; no; but this day in particular. Cousin Roger, the woman came again
last night."

"The woman! What woman?" I asked.

"Why--the tall old woman--to my chamber, up the stairs. You remember?
She came the night before you were sent for--why--six years ago."

I stared on her; and a kind of horror came on me.

"Ah! do not look like that," she said. "It is nothing." She smiled full
at me, putting her hand on my arm.

"You saw her!" I said.

"No; no. I heard her only. It was just as it was before. But I came up
to town to--to see if all were well with you. And it is: or will be.
Kiss me, Roger, before we go."



CHAPTER VI


I cannot think without horror, even now, of that play we saw on that
night in the King's Theatre. It was Mrs. Aphra Behn's tragedy, called
_Abdelazar_, or _The Moor's Revenge_, and Mrs. Lee acted the principal
part of _Isabella_, the Spanish Queen. We sat in a little box next the
stage, which we had to ourselves; and in the box opposite was my Lord
the Earl of Bath with a couple of his ladies. He was a pompous-looking
fellow, and a hot Protestant, and he looked very disdainfully at the
company. In the box over him was Mistress Gwyn herself, and the people
cried at her good-humouredly when she came in, at which she bowed very
merrily as if she were royal, this way and that, so that the whole
play-house was full of laughter. It was turned very cold, with a frost,
and before the play was half done the whole house was in a steam under
the glass cupola. Folks were eating oranges everywhere in the higher
seats, and throwing the peel down upon the heads of the people below.
The stage was lighted, as always, with wax candles burning on cressets;
and the orange girls were standing in the front row of the pit with
their backs to the stage.

Dolly, who was a little quiet at first, got very merry and excited
presently at all the good-humour, as well as at the actors. She had
thrown her hood back, so that her head came out of it very sweet and
pretty; and a spot of colour burned on each cheek. I saw her watching
Mistress Nell once or twice with a look of amazement--for she knew who
she was--for Nell, though she was not on the stage, bore herself as
though she were, and never ceased for an instant, though full of
merriment and good humour, to turn herself this way and that, and bow to
her friends, some of whom relished it very little; and to applaud very
heartily, and then, immediately to throw a great piece of orange peel at
Mr. Harris, who played the King. She had her boy with her--whom His
Majesty had made Duke of St. Albans--and two or three gentlemen whom I
did not know.

Dolly whispered to me once, to know who the boy was.

"That is her boy," I said.

Dolly said nothing; but I understood the kind of terror that she had to
see them both there, so outrageous and bold; but she presently turned
back again to the stage to observe the play.

       *       *       *       *       *

I said just now that the play which we saw has very dreadful memories
for me; but I do not know that more than once or twice at the time I had
any such feeling. There were some pretty passages in the play that
distracted me altogether, and a song or two, of which I remember very
well one sung by a _Nymph_, and answered by her swain with his
shepherds, of which the refrain was:

  _The Sun is up and will not stay;_
  _And oh! how very short's a lover's day!_

For the rest there was a quantity of bloodshed and intrigue and false
accusation, but I was surprised, considering the subject, how little was
against Popery; but Mrs. Behn was content at the end of it to make the
_Cardinal_ beg pardon of _King Philip_.

For the most part then I attended to the action--(and to Dolly, of
course, all the while). Yet certainly there were other moments for me,
when the shadow came down again, and I saw the actors and the whole
house as if in a kind of bloody mist, though I had at that time no
reason for it at all, and do not think that I shewed any sign of it. Two
or three times before, as I have related, there came on me a strange
mood--once when I came up from Wapping, and once as I put out from Dover
in the packet. But it was not that kind of mood this time. Then it was
as if all the world of sense were but a very thin veil, and all that was
happening a kind of dream, or play. Now it was as if the play had a
shocking kind of reality, as if the audience and the actors were
monstrous devils in hell; and the paint on Mrs. Lee's cheeks her true
colour, and her gestures great symbols, and the noise of the people the
roar of hell. This came and went once or twice; and at the time I
thought it to be my own humour only; but now I know that it was
something other than this. When I looked at Dolly it went again in an
instant, and she and I seemed to me the heart of everything, and all
else but our circumstances and for our pleasure.

Well; it ended at last, and there was a great deal of applauding, and
Mrs. Lee came on to the stage again to bow and smile. It was then, for
the third time, I think, that my horror fell on me. As I stared at her,
all else seemed to turn dim and vanish. She was in her costume with the
blood on her arm and breast, and her great billowy skirts about her, and
her stage-jewels, and she was smiling; and I, as I looked at her, seemed
to see the folly and the shame of her like fire; and yet that folly and
shame had a power that nothing else had. Her smile seemed to me like the
grin of a devil; and her colour to be daubs upon her bare cheek-bones,
and she herself like some rotten thing with a semblance of life that was
not life at all. I cannot put it into words at all: I know only that I
ceased applauding, and stared on her as if I were bewitched.

Then I saw my dear love's fingers on my arm, and her face looking at me
as if she were frightened.

"What is the matter, Cousin Roger?" she whispered; and then: "Come,
Cousin Roger; it is late."

Then my mood passed, or I shook myself clear of it.

"Yes; yes," I said. "It is nothing. Come, my dear."

       *       *       *       *       *

The little passage by which we went out was crammed full of folk,
talking and whistling and laughing; some imitating the cries of the
actors, some, both men and women, looking about them freely with bold
eyes. I saw presently that Dolly did not like it, and that we should be
a great while getting out that way; and then I saw a little door beside
me that might very well lead out to the air. I pushed upon this, and saw
another little passage.

"James," said I, for he was close behind me, "go out and bring the
coach round to this side if there is a way out." (And then to Dolly.)
"Come, sweetheart, we will find a way out here."

I pushed my way behind a fellow who was just in front, and got through
the door, and Dolly and her maid followed me.

It was a little passage with doors on the right which I think led to the
actors' rooms and the stage, for I heard talking and laughing behind;
but I made nothing of that, and we went on. As we went past one of the
doors it opened all of a sudden and Mrs. Lee herself came out, still in
her dress and her jewels, and her face all a-daub with paint, and the
blood on her arm and dress, and ran through another door further along,
leaving behind her a great whiff of coarse perfume. It was but for an
instant that we saw her; yet, even in that instant, a sort of horror
came on me again as if she were something monstrous and ominous,
though--poor woman!--I have never heard anything against her more than
was said at that time against all women that were actresses--all, that
is, except Mrs. Betterton. She appeared more dreadful even than in the
play, or than when she had spoken those terrible words as she sat in her
chair, all bloody, as she died--stabbed by the mock Friar:

             --_but 'tis too late--
  And Life and Love must yield to Death and Fate._

I looked at Dolly; but she was laughing, though with a kind of terror in
her eyes too at that sudden apparition.

"Oh, Roger!" she said, "and now she will go and wash it all off, will
she not?"

"Yes, yes," I said. "She will wash it all off." And I looked at her, and
made myself laugh too. She said nothing, but took my arm a little
closer.

       *       *       *       *       *

I was right about the passage, that it led out to the air, yet not into
Little Russell Street, but to a little yard by which, I suppose, the
players came to their rooms. The frost had fallen very sharp while we
had been in the theatre; overhead the stars tingled as if they shook,
beyond the chimneys, and there were little pools of ice between the
stones.

I stayed an instant when we came down the three steps that led into the
yard, to pull Dolly's hood more closely about her head, for it was
bitter cold, and to gather up my own cloak, and, as I did this, I saw
that three men had followed us out, and were coming down the steps
behind us. There was no one else in the yard. There was one little
oil-lamp burning near one of the two entrances to shew the players the
way, I suppose.

Then, when I had arranged my cloak, I gave Dolly my arm once more, and,
as I did so, heard Anne, who was behind us, suddenly give a great
scream; and, at the sound, whisked about to see what was the matter.

There was a man coming at me from behind with a dagger, and the two
other fellows were behind him.

       *       *       *       *       *

Now I had not an instant in which to think what to do, though I knew
well enough what they were and whom they were after. What I did, I did,
I suppose, by a kind of instinct. I tore my arm free from Dolly's hand,
pushing her behind me with my left hand, and at the same time dashed my
cloak away as well as I could, to draw out my sword. The fellow was a
little on my right when I was so turned about, but appeared a little
confounded by my quickness, for he hesitated.

"Back to the wall, Dolly!" I shouted. "Back to the wall"; and, at the
same time I began to back myself, with her still behind me, to the wall
that was opposite to the steps we had just come down. My cloak was sadly
in my way; but, as I reached the wall, still going backwards, I had my
sword out just in time to keep off, by a flourish of it, the fellow who
had recovered himself, and was coming at me again.

So for a moment, we stood; and in that moment I heard Anne screaming
somewhere for help.

       *       *       *       *       *

Then I saw how the two other men, at a swift sign from their leader,
spread out on this side and that, so as to come at me from three
directions together; and, at that saw that I must delay no longer.
Before, I think, they saw what I intended, I leapt forward at the fellow
in front, and lunged with all my force; and though he threw up his arms,
with the dagger in one of his bands, and tried to evade a parry all at
once, he was too late; my point went clean through his throat, and he
fell backwards with a dreadful cry. And, at the same moment his two
companions ran in on me from either side.

Now I do not even now see what else I could have done. I felt sure that
one of them would have me, for I could not properly deal with them both;
but I turned and stabbed quickly, with a short arm, at the face of the
one on my right, missing him altogether, and, at the same time strove to
strike with my left elbow the face of the other.

But, ah! Dolly was too quick for me. She must have run forward on my
left to keep the fellow off, for I heard a swift dreadful sound as I
shortened my right arm to stab at the other again; and I felt something
fall about my feet.

I turned like a madman, screaming aloud with anger, careless of all
else, or of whether or no anyone ran at me again, for I knew, in part at
least what had happened; and, at the same moment the yard seemed all
alive with folks running and crying out. The door at the head of the
steps was open, and three or four players ran out and down; while from
Little Russell Street on the right, where the coaches were, a great
number ran in.

But I cared nothing for that at that instant. I had flung away my sword
on to the stones and was stooping to pick up my dear love who had saved
my life. There was already a great puddle of blood, and I felt it run
hot over my left hand that was about her--hot, for it flowed straight
from her heart that had been stabbed through by the knife that was aimed
at me.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I looked up again, I saw, standing against the light in the door
opposite, at the head of the steps, the woman that had played the Queen
with that mock-blood still on her arm and breast.



CHAPTER VII


"Mr. Mallock," said the page, "the King is heartily sorry, and wishes to
tell you so himself."

I said nothing.

Of all that happened, after Dolly's death in the theatre-yard, I think
now as of a kind of dream, though it changed my whole life and has made
me what I am. I have, too, scarcely the heart to write of it; and what I
say of it now is gathered partly from what I can remember and partly
from what other folks told me.

It must have been a terrible sight that they all saw as they ran in from
the lane, my man James first among them all. There lay, bloodying all
the ice about him, the fellow whom I had run through the throat, as dead
as the rat he was, but still jerking blood from beneath his ear; and
there in my arms, as I kneeled on the stones, lay Dolly, her head fallen
back and out of her hood, as white as a lily, dead too in an instant,
for she was stabbed through her heart, with her life-blood in a great
smear down her side, and all over my hands and clothes.

My man James proved again as faithful a friend as he had always been to
me; for the affair had been no fault of his: I had sent him for the
coach, and he was bringing it up to the yard-entrance from the lane, as
Anne had run out screaming. Then he had run in, and my other man with
him, and the crowd after him, in time to see the two living assassins
make off into the dark entrance on the other side. A number had run
after them, but to no purpose, for we never heard of them again; and my
Dolly's murderer, I suppose, is still breathing God's air, unless he has
been hanged long ago for some other crime.

The next matter was to get us home again; for James has told me that I
would allow no one to touch either her or me, until a physician came
out of the crowd and told me the truth. Then I had gathered her up in my
arms like a child without a word to any; and went out, the crowd falling
back as I came, to where the coach waited in Little Russell Street.
Still carrying her I went into the coach, and would allow no one else
within; and so we drove back to Covent Garden.

When we came there a part of the crowd had already run on before and was
waiting. When the coach drew up, I came out of the coach, with my dear
love still in my arms, and went upstairs with her to her own chamber and
laid her on her bed; and it was a great while before I would let the
women come at her to wash her and make all sweet and clean again. I lay
all that night in the outer parlour that had been my own so long ago,
or, rather, I went up and down it till daybreak; and no one dared to
speak to me or to move away the supper-things from the table where she
and I had supped the night before.

The inquest was held that day, but nothing came of it. I related my
story in the barest words, saying that I knew nothing of the three men,
and leaving it to Mr. Chiffinch to whisper in the officer's ear to
prevent him asking what he should not. Of the man I had killed nothing
was ever made public, except that he was a tanner's man and lived in
Wapping, and that his name was Belton.

On the Saturday we went down to Hare Street, all together, with the body
of the little maid in a coach by itself. I rode my horse behind, but
would speak never a word to my Cousin Tom who went in a coach, neither
then nor at any other time; neither would I lie in Hare Street House,
nor even enter it; but I lay in the house of a farmer at Hormead; and
waited outside the house for the funeral to come out next day, after the
Morning Prayer had been said in the church. She lies now in the
churchyard of Hormead Parva, where we laid her on that windy Sunday, in
the shadow of the little Saxon church. I rode straight away again with
my men from the churchyard gate, and came to London very late that
night. I went straight to my lodgings, and refused myself to everyone
for three days, writing letters here and there, and giving orders as to
the packing of all my effects. On the Thursday, a week after my Cousin
Dolly had come to town, I went to Mr. Chiffinch to take my leave.

Now of those days I dare say no more than that; and even if I would I
could add very little. My mind throughout was in a kind of dark tumult,
until, after my three days of solitude, I had determined what to do.
There were hours, I will not deny, in which my very faith in God Himself
seemed wholly gone; in which it was merely incredible to me that if He
were in Heaven such things could happen on earth. But sorrow of such a
dreadful kind as this is, in truth, if we will but yield to it, a sort
of initiation or revelation, rather than an obscurer of truth; and, by
the time that my three days were over I thought I saw where my duty lay,
and to what all those events tended. I had come from a monk's life that
I might taste what the world was like; I had tasted and found it very
bitter; there was not one affair--(for so it appeared to me then)--that
had not failure written all over it. Very well then; I would go back to
the monk's life once more if they would have me. On the third day, then,
I had written to my Lord Abbot at St. Paul's-without-the-Walls, telling
him that I was coming back again, and had thrown up my affairs here.

"You were right, my Lord," I wrote at the end of it, "and I was wrong.
My Vocation seems very plain to me now; and I would to God that I had
seen it sooner, or at the least been more humble to Your Lordship's
opinion."

At first I had thought that I would take no leave of the King; and had
told Mr. Chiffinch so, after I had announced to him what my intentions
were, and announced them too in such a manner that he scarcely even
attempted to dissuade me from them. But he had begged me to take my
leave in proper form; no harm would be done by that; and then he had
told me that His Majesty knew all that had passed and was very sorry for
it.

I sat silent when he said that.

"Yes, Mr. Mallock," he said again, "and I mean not only for your own
sorrow, but for his own treatment of you. It hath been a whim with him:
he treats often so those whom he loves. His Majesty hath something of a
woman in him, in that matter. His suspicions were real enough, at least
for a time."

"I had done better if I had been one of his enemies, then," said I.

"It is of no use to be bitter, sir," said the page. "Men are what they
are. We would all be otherwise, no doubt, if we could. See the King, Mr.
Mallock, I beg of you: and appear once at least at Court, publicly. You
should allow him at least to make amends."

I gave a great sigh.

"Well: it shall be so," I said. "But I must leave town on Tuesday."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was with a very strange sense of detachment that I went about my
affairs all Friday and Saturday; for I had still plenty to do, and was
not to see His Majesty till the Saturday night after supper. The weather
was turned soft again, and we had sunshine for an hour or two. On one
day I watched His Majesty go to dinner, with his guards about him, and
his gentlemen; but I did not see it with the pleasure I had once had in
such brave sights. It was with me, during those days, as it had been
with me for those two or three moments during the play, though in a
gentler manner; for I thought more of the humanity beneath than of the
show above; and a rotten humanity most of it seemed to me. These were
but men like myself, and some pretty evil too. Those gentlemen that were
with the King--there was scarcely one of them about whom I did not know
something considerably to his discredit: there was my Lord Ailesbury in
strict attendance on him; and Killigrew--he that had the theatre--and
the less said of him the better: and there were three or four more like
him; the Earl of Craven was there, colonel of the foot-guards; and Lord
Keeper Guildford; and the Earl of Bath; and there, in the midst, the
King himself, with his blue silk cloak over his shoulders, and his
princely walk, going fast as he always did, and smiling-well, what of
those thirteen known mistresses of his that he had had, as well as of
those other--God knows how many!--poor maids, who must look upon him as
their ruin? It was a brave sight enough, there in the sunshine--I will
not deny that--with the sun on the jewels and the silks, and on the buff
and steel of the guards, with that swift kingly figure going in the
midst; and it was a brave noise that the music made as they went within
the Banqueting-Hall; but how, thought I, does God see it all? And for
what do such things count before His Holy Presence?

I had not rehearsed what I should say to His Majesty when I saw him; for
indeed it was of no further moment to me what either I or he should say.
I should be gone for ever in three days to the secret service of another
King than him--to that secret service where men need not lie and cheat
and spy and get their hearts broken after all and no gratitude for it;
but to that service which is called _Opus Dei_ in the choir, and is
prayer and study and contemplation in the cloister and the cell. There I
should sing, week by week:

"Oh! put not your trust in princes nor in any child of man: for there is
no help in them."

In such a mood then--not wholly Christian, I will admit!--I came into
the King's closet, to take my leave of him, on that Saturday night, the
last day of January, in the year of Salvation sixteen hundred and
eighty-five.

He was standing up when I entered his private closet, with a very
serious look on his face; and, to my astonishment, took a step towards
me, holding out both his hands. I will not deny that I was moved; but I
had determined to be very stiff. So I saluted him in the proper manner,
very carefully and punctually, kneeling to kiss his hand, and then
standing upright again. A little spaniel barked at me all the time.

"There! there! Mr. Mallock," he said. "Sit you down! sit you down!
There are some amends due to you."

I seated myself as he bade me; and he leaned towards me a little from
his own chair, with one leg across the other. I saw that he limped a
little as he went to his chair; and learned afterwards that he had a
sore on his heel from walking in the Park.

"There are some amends due to you," he said again: "but first I wish to
tell you how very truly I grieve at the sorrow that has come on you, and
in my service too, as I understand."

(Ah! thought I: then Mr. Chiffinch has made that plain enough.) He spoke
with the greatest feeling and gravity; but the next moment he near
ruined it all.

"Ah! these ladies!" he said. "How they can torment a man's heart to be
sure! How they can torture us and yet send us into a kind of ecstasy all
at once! We hate them one day, and vow never to see them again, and yet
when they die or leave us we would give the world to get them back
again!"

For the moment I felt myself all stiff with anger at such a manner of
speaking, and then once more a great pity came on me. What, after all,
does this man, thought I, know of love as God meant it to be?

"Well, well!" he said. "It is of no use speaking. I know that well
enough. And it was that very cousin, I hear, that was Maid to Her
Majesty!"

"Yes, Sir," said I, very short.

I wondered if he would say next that that circumstance made it all the
sadder; but he was not gross enough for that.

"Well," he said, "I will say no more on that point. I am only grieved
that it should have come upon you in my service; and I wish to make
amends. I already owed you a heavy debt, Mr. Mallock; and this has made
it the heavier; and before saying any more I wish to tell you that I am
heartily sorry for my suspicions of you. They were real enough, I am
ashamed to say: I should have known better. But at least I have got rid
of Hoskyns; and he hath gone to the devil altogether, I hear. He had a
cunning way with him, you know, Mr. Mallock."

He spoke almost as if he pleaded; and I was amazed at his condescension.
It is not the way of Kings to ask pardon very often.

"Well, Mr. Mallock," he said next; "and I hear that you wish to leave my
service?"

"If Your Majesty pleases," said I.

"My Majesty doth not please at all; but he will submit, I suppose. Tell
me, sir, why it is that you wish to leave."

"Sir," I said, "the reasons are pretty plain. I have displeased Your
Majesty for the past half-year; and I cannot forget that, even though,
Sir, you are graciously pleased to compliment me now. Then I have
quarrelled with my Cousin Jermyn, so that I have not a kinsman left in
England; and--and I have lost her whom I was to make my wife this year.
Finally, if more reasons are wanting, I am weary of a world in which I
have failed so greatly; and I must go back again to the cloister, if
they will have me there."

All came with a rush when I began to speak, for His Majesty's presence
had always an extraordinary effect upon me, as upon so many others. I
had determined to say very little; yet here I had said it all, and I
felt the blood in my face. He listened very patiently to me, with his
head a little on one side, and his underlip thrust out, and his great
melancholy eyes searching my face.

"Well! well! well," he said again, "if you must be a monk there is no
more to be said. But what of your apostleship in the world?"

"Sir," I cried--for I knew what he meant--"my apostleship as you name
it has been a greater disaster than all the rest: and God knows that is
great enough."

He was silent a full half minute, I should think, still looking on me
earnestly.

"Are you so sure of that?" said he.

My heart gave a leap; but he held up his hand before I could speak.

"Wait, sir," he said. "I will tell you this. You have said very little
to me; but I vow to you that what you have said I have remembered. It is
not argument that a man needs--at least after the first--but example.
That you have given me."

Then I flushed up scarlet; for I was sure he was mocking me.

"Sir," I cried, "you might have spared--"

He lifted his eyes a little.

"I assure you, Mr. Mallock," he said, "that I mean what I say. You have
been very faithful; you have ventured your life again and again for me;
you have refused rewards, except the very smallest; you have lost even
your sweetheart in my service; and now, when all is within your reach
again, you fling it back at me. It is not very gracious; but it is very
Christian, as I understand Christianity."

I said nothing. What was there to say? I seemed a very poor Christian to
myself.

"Come! come, Mr. Mallock," pursued the King very gently and kindly.
"Think of it once again. You shall have what you please--your Viscounty
or anything else of that sort; and you shall keep your lodgings and
remain here as my friend. What do you say to that?"

For a moment again I hesitated; for it is not to everyone that a King
offers his friendship. If it had been that alone I think I might have
yielded, for I knew that I loved this man in spite of all his wickedness
and his treatment of me--for that, and for my "apostleship" as he called
it, I might have stayed. But at the word _Viscounty_ all turned to
bitterness: I remembered my childish dreams and the sweetness of them,
and the sweetness of my dear love who was to have shared them; and all
turned to bitterness and vanity.

"No, Sir," said I--and I felt my lips tremble. "No, Sir. I will be
ungracious and--and Christian to the end. I am resolved to go; and
nothing in this world shall keep me from it."

The King stood up abruptly; and I rose with him. I did not know whether
he were angry or not; and I did not greatly care. He stepped away from
me, and began to walk up and down. One of his bitch-spaniels whined at
him from her basket, lifting her great liquid eyes that were not unlike
his own; and he stooped and caressed her for a moment. Then the clocks
began to chime, one after the other, for it was eight o'clock, and I
heard them at it, too, in the bed-chamber beyond. There would be thirty
or forty of them, I daresay, in the two chambers. So for a minute or two
he went up and down; and I have but to close my eyes now, to see him
again. He was limping a little from the sore on his heel; but he carried
himself very kingly, his swarthy face looking straight before him, and
his lips pursed. I think that indeed he was a little angry, but that he
was resolved not to shew it.

Suddenly he wheeled on me, and held out his hand.

"Well, Mr. Mallock; there is no more to be said; and I must honour you
for it whatever else I do. I would that all my servants were as
disinterested."

I knelt to kiss his hand. I think I could not have spoken at that
moment. As I stood up, he spoke again.

"When do you leave town?" he said.

"On Tuesday, Sir."

"Well, come and see me again before you go. No, not in private: you need
not fear for that. Come to-morrow night, to the _levée_ after supper."

"I will do so, Sir," said I.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the following night then, which was Sunday, I presented myself for
the last time, I thought, to His Majesty.

I need not say that half a dozen times since I had left him, my
resolution had faltered; though, it had never broken down. I heard mass
in Weld Street; and there again I wondered whether I had decided
rightly, and again as I burned all my papers after dinner--(for when a
man begins afresh he had best make a clean sweep of the past). I went to
take the air a little, before sunset, in St. James' Park, and from a
good distance saw His Majesty going to feed the ducks, with a dozen
spaniels, I daresay going after him, and a couple of gentlemen with him,
but no guards at all. The King walked much more slowly that day than
was his wont--I suppose because of the sore on his heel. But I did not
go near enough for him to see me; for I would trouble him now no further
than I need. All this time--or at least now and again--I wondered a
little as to whether I was right to go. I will not deny that the
prospect of remaining had a little allurement in it; but it was truly
not more than a little; and as evening fell and my heart went inwards
again, as hearts do when the curtains are drawn, I wondered that it had
been any allurement at all: for my life lay buried in the churchyard of
Hormead Parva, and I had best bury the rest of me in the place where at
least I had a few friends left. After supper, about ten o'clock, I put
on my cloak and went across to the Duchess of Portsmouth's lodgings,
where the _levée_ was held usually on such evenings. My man James went
with me to light me there.

I do not think I have seen a more splendid sight, very often, than that
great gallery, when I came into it that night, passing on my way through
the closet where I had once talked with Her Grace. It was all alight
from end to end with candles in cressets, and on the great round table
at the further end where the company was playing basset, stood tall
candlesticks amidst all the gold. I had not seen this great gallery
before; and it was beyond everything, and far beyond Her Majesty's own
great chamber. If I had thought the closet fine, this was a thousand
times more. There were great French tapestries on the walls, and between
them paintings that had been once Her Majesty's, and those not the worst
of them. The quantity of silver in the room astonished me: there were
whole tables of it, and braziers and sconces and cressets beyond
reckoning; and there were at least five or six chiming clocks that the
King had given to Her Grace; and tall Japanese presses and cabinets of
lacquer which she loved especially.

There was a fire of Scotch coal burning on the hearth, as in His
Majesty's own bedchamber; and on a great silver couch, beside this,
covered with silk tapestry, sat the King, smiling to himself, with two
or three dogs beside him, and Her Grace of Portsmouth on the same
couch. The Duchesses of Cleveland and Mazarin were on chairs very near
the couch.

There was a great clamour of voices from the basset-table as I came in
and the King looked up; and, as I went across to pay my respects to His
Majesty, he said something to the Duchess, very merrily. She too glanced
up at me; and indeed she was a splendid sight in her silks and in the
jewels she had had from him.

"Why; here is my friend!" said the King, as he put out his hand to me;
and once more the dogs yapped at me from his side. He put his left hand
out over their heads and pressed them down.

"You must not bark at my friend Mr. Mallock," he said. "He is off to be
a holy monk."

For a moment I thought the King was making a mock of me; but it was not
so. He was smiling at me very friendly.

       *       *       *       *       *

He was in wonderful good humour that evening; and I heard more of his
public talk than ever before; for he made me draw up a stool presently
upon the hearth. Now and again a gentleman came across to be presented
to him; and others came and looked in for a while and away again. There
were constant comings and goings; and once, as a French boy was singing
songs to a spinet, near the door, I saw the serious face of Mr. Evelyn,
with two of his friends, look in upon the scene.

I cannot remember one quarter of all the things that were said. Now the
King was silent, playing with the ears of his dogs and smiling to
himself; now he would say little things that stuck in the memory, God
knows why! For example, he said that he had eaten two goose's eggs for
supper, which shewed what a strong stomach he had; and he described to
us a very fierce duck that had snapped his hand that afternoon in the
park. History is not made of these things; and yet sometimes I think
that it should be; for those be the matters that interest little folk;
and most of us are no more than that. I do not suppose that in all the
world there is one person except myself who knows that His Sacred
Majesty ate two goose's eggs to his supper on that Sunday night.

He spoke presently of his new palace at Winchester that he was
a-building, and that was near finished.

"I shall be very happy this week," said he, "for my building will be all
covered in with lead." (He said the same thing again, later, to my Lord
Ailesbury, who remembered it when it was fulfilled, though in another
manner than the King had meant.)

He talked too of "little Ken," as he named him (who had been made Bishop
last week), and of the story that so many told--(for the King told his
stories several times over when he was in a good humour)--and the way he
told it to-night was this.

"Ah! that little Ken!" said he. "Little black Ken! He is the man to
tell me my sins! Your Grace should hear him"--(added he)--"upon the
Seventh Commandment! And such lessons drawn from Scripture too-from the
Old Testament!"

He looked up sharply and merrily at Her Grace of Portsmouth as he said
this.

"Well; when poor Nell and I went down to Winchester a good while ago,"
he went on, "what must little Ken do but refuse her a lodging! This is a
man to be a Bishop, thought I. And so poor Nell had to sleep where she
could."

Her Grace of Portsmouth looked very glum while this tale was told; for
she hated Mrs. Nelly with all her heart. She flounced a little in her
seat; and one of the dogs barked at her for it.

"First a monk and then a Duchess!" said the King. "Did you ever hear of
the good man of Salisbury who put his hand into my carriage to greet me,
and was bitten for his pains? 'God bless Your Majesty,' said he, 'and
God damn Your Majesty's dogs!'--Eh, Fubbs?"--(for so he called the
Duchess).

So he discoursed this evening, very freely indeed, and there was a
number of men presently behind his couch, listening to what he said. A
great deal of what he said cannot be set down here, for it was
extraordinary indecent as well as profane. Yet there was a wonderful
charm about his manner, and there is no denying it; and in this, I
suppose, lay a great deal of the injury he did to innocent souls, for it
all seemed nothing but merriment and good-humour. His quickness of
conception, his pleasantness of wit, his variety of knowledge, his
tales, his judgment of men--all these were beyond anything that I have
ever met in any other man.

There was silence made every now and then for the French boy to sing
another song; and this singing affected me very deeply, so long as I did
not look at the lad; for he was a silly-looking creature all dressed up
like a doll; but he sang wonderfully clear and sweet, and one of the
King's chapel-gentlemen played for him. His songs were all in French,
and the substance of some of them was scarcely decent; but I had not the
pain of hearing any that I had heard in Hare Street. During the singing
of the last of these songs, near midnight, again that mood fell on me
that all was but a painted show on a stage, and that reality was
somewhere else. The great chamber was pretty hot by now, with the
roaring fire and all the folks, and a kind of steam was in the air, as
it had been in the theatre ten days ago; and the faces were some of them
flushed and some of them pale with the heat. The Duchess of Cleveland
was walking up and down before the fire, with her hands clasped as if
she were restless; for she spoke scarce a word all the evening.

When the song was done the King clapped his hands to applaud and stood
up; and all stood with him.

"Odd's fish!" said he, "that is a pretty boy and a pretty song." Then he
gave a great yawn. "It is time to go to bed," said he.

As he said that the door from the outer gallery opened; and I saw my
Lord Ailesbury there--a young man, very languid and handsome who was
Gentleman of the Bed chamber this week, though his turn ended to-morrow;
and behind him Sir Thomas Killigrew who was Groom--(these two slept in
the King's bedchamber all night)--and two or three pages, one of them
of the Backstairs. My Lord Ailesbury carried a tall silver candlestick
in his hand with the candle burning in it. He bowed to His Majesty.

"Did I not say so?" said the king.

He did not give his hand to anyone when he said good-night, but turned
and bowed a little to the company about him on the hearth, and they back
to him, the three duchesses curtseying very low. But to me he gave his
hand to kiss.

"Good-night, Mr. Mallock," said he, in a loud voice; then, raising it--

"Mr. Mallock goes abroad to-morrow; or is it Tuesday?"

"It is Tuesday, Sir," said I.

"Then God go with you," he said very kindly.

I watched him go out to the door with his hat on, all the other
gentlemen uncovered and bowing to him, and him nodding and smiling in
very good humour, though still limping a little. And my heart seemed to
go with him. At the door however he stopped; for a strange thing had
happened. As my Lord Ailesbury had given the candle to the page who was
to go before them, it had suddenly gone out, though there was no draught
to blow it. The page looked very startled and afraid, and shook his head
a little. Then one of the gentlemen sprang forward and took a candle
from one of the cressets to light the other with. His Majesty stood
smiling while this was done; but he said nothing. When it was lighted,
he turned again, and waved his hand to the company. Then he went out
after his gentlemen.



CHAPTER VIII


It was a little after eight o'clock next morning that I heard first of
His Majesty's seizure.

I had drunk my morning and was on the point of going out with my
man--indeed I was descending the stairs--when I heard steps run past in
the gallery outside; and then another man also running. I came out as he
went past and saw that he was one of Mr. Chiffinch's men, very
disordered-looking and excited. I cried out to know what was the matter,
but he shook his head and flapped his hand at me as if he could not
stay, and immediately turned off from the gallery and ran out to the
right in the direction of the King's lodgings.

I turned to my man James who was just behind me.

"Go and see what the matter is," I said; for after seeing the King so
well and cheerful last night, I never thought of any illness.

While he was gone, I waited just within my door, observing one of my
engravings, with my hat on. It was a very bitter morning. In less than
five minutes James was back again, very white and breathing fast.

"His Majesty is ill," said he. "Mr. Chiffinch--"

I heard no more, for I ran out past him at a great pace, and so to the
King's lodgings.

       *       *       *       *       *

When I came to the door of them, all was in confusion. There was but one
guard here--(for the other was within with the Earl of Craven)--and a
little crowd was pestering him with questions. I made no bones with him,
but slipped in, and ran upstairs as fast as I could. There was no one in
the first antechamber at all, and the door was open into the private
closet beyond. It was contrary to all etiquette to enter this unbidden,
but I cared nothing for that, and ran through; and this again was empty;
so I passed out at the further door and found myself at the head of a
little stair leading down into a wide lobby, from which opened out two
or three chambers, with the King's bedchamber at the further end. And
here, in the lobby, I ran into the company.

There was above a dozen persons there, at least, all talking together in
low voices; but I saw no one I cared to speak with, since I had no
business in the place at all. But no one paid any attention to me. It
was yet pretty dark here, for there were no candles; so I waited,
leaning against the wall at the head of the stairs.

Then the voices grew louder; and the crowd opened out a little to let
someone through; and there came, walking very quickly, and talking
together, my Lord Craven leaning on the arm of my Lord Ailesbury. My
Lord Craven--near ninety years old at this time--was in his full-dress
as colonel of the foot-guards, for he had attended a few minutes before
to receive from His Majesty the pass-word of the day: and my Lord
Ailesbury was but half dressed with his points hanging loose; for he had
been all undressed just now, when the King had been taken ill.

After they had passed by me I stood again to wait; but, almost
immediately, across the further end of the lobby I saw Mr. Chiffinch
pass swiftly from a door on the left to a door on the right. At that
sight I determined to wait no longer: for there was but one thought in
my mind, all this while.

I said nothing, but I came down the stairs and laid my hand on the
shoulder of a physician (I think he was), who stood in front of me, and
pushed him aside, as if I had a right to be there; and so I went through
them very quickly, and into the room where I had seen Mr. Chiffinch go.
The door was ajar: I pushed it open and went in.

It was a pretty small room, and there were no beds in it; it had presses
round the walls: a coal fire burned in the hearth in a brazier, and a
round table was in the midst, lit by a single candle, and near the
candle stood a heap of surgical instruments and a roll of bandages.
(This was the room, I learned later, next to the Royal Bedchamber, where
the surgeons had attended half an hour ago to dress the King's heel.)
There were three persons in the room beyond the table, talking very
earnestly together. Two of them I did not know; but the third was Mr.
Chiffinch. They all three turned when I came in, and stared at me.

"Why--" began the page--"Mr. Mallock, what do you--"

He came towards me with an air of impatience.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I, in a low voice--"how is His Majesty. I--"

The further door which stood at the head of three or four steps leading
up to it opened sharply, and the page whisked round to see what it was.
A face looked out, very peaked-looking and white, and nodded briskly at
the bandages and the instruments; the two other men darted at those,
seized them, ran up the stairs and vanished, leaving the door but a
crack open behind them.

Then Mr. Chiffinch turned and stared at me again. He appeared very pale
and agitated.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I, "I will take no refusal at all. How is His
Majesty?"

His lips worked a little, and I could see that he was thinking more of
what was passing in the chamber beyond than of my presence here.

"They are blooding him again," he said; and then--"What are you doing
here?"

I took him by the lapel of his coat to make him attend to me; for his
eyes were wandering back like a mule's, at every sound behind.

"See here," said I. "If His Majesty is ill, it is time to send for a
priest. I tell you--"

"Priest!" snapped the page in a whisper. "What the devil--"

I shook him gently by his coat.

"Mr. Chiffinch; I will have the truth. Is the King dying?"

"No, he is not then!" he whispered angrily. "Hark--"

He tore himself free, darted back to the further door, and stood there,
at the foot of the stairs, with his head lowered, listening. Even from
where I was I could hear a gentle sort of sound as of moaning or very
heavy breathing, and then a sharp whisper or two; and then the noise of
something trickling into a basin. Presently all was quiet again; and the
page lifted his head. I stood where I was; for I know how it is with men
in a sudden anxiety: they will snap and snarl, and then all at once turn
confidential. I was not disappointed.

After he had waited a moment or two he came towards me once more.

"Mr. Mallock," he whispered, "the King needs no priest. He is not so ill
as that; and he is unconscious too at present."

"Tell me," I said.

Again he glanced behind him; but there was no further sound. He came a
little nearer.

"His Majesty was taken with a fit soon after he awakened. Mr. King was
here, by good fortune, and blooded him at once. Now they are blooding
him again. Her Majesty hath been sent for."

"He is not dying? You will swear that to me?"

He nodded: and again he appeared to listen. I took him by his button
again.

"Mr. Chiffinch," said I, "you must attend to me. This is the very thing
I have waited for. If there is any imminent danger you must send for a
priest. You promise me that?"

He shook his head violently: so I tried another attack.

"Well," I said, "then you will allow me to remain here? Is the Duke
come?"

"Not yet," said he. "Ailesbury is gone for him."

"Well--I may remain then?"

There came a knock on the inner side of the further door; and he tore
himself free again. But I was after him, and seized him once more.

"I may remain?"

"Yes, yes," he snapped, "as you will! Let me go, sir." He whisked
himself out of my hold, and went swiftly up the stairs and through the
door, shutting it behind him, giving me but the smallest glimpse of a
vast candle-lit room and men's heads all together and the curtains of a
great bed near the door. But I was content: I had got my way.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I walked up and down the antechamber, very softly, on tip-toe, it
appeared to me that I was, as it were, two persons in one. On the one
side there was the conviction and the determination that, come what
would, I must get a priest to the King if he took a turn at all for the
worse--since, for the present, I believed Mr. Chiffinch's word that His
Majesty was not actually dying. (This was not at all what the physicians
thought at that time; but I did not know that.) This conviction, I
suppose, had always been with me that it was for this that in God's
Providence I had been sent to England; at least, seven in the moment
that I had left my house and run down the gallery, there it was, all
full-formed and mature. As to how it was to be done I had no idea at
all; yet that it would be done I had no doubt. On the other side,
however, every faculty of observation that I had, was alert and
tight-stretched. I remember the very pattern of the carpet I walked on;
the pictures on the walls; and the carving on the presses. Above all I
remember the little door in the corner of the chamber--the third; and
how I opened it, and peeped down the winding staircase that led from it.
(I did not know then what part that little door and winding staircase
was to play in my great design!) Now and again I looked out of the
single window at the river beneath in the early morning sunshine; now I
paced the floor again. It seemed to me that I had found a very pretty
post of observation, as this appeared a very private little room, and
that I should not be troubled here. The great anterooms, I knew, where
the company would be, must lie on the further side of the bedchamber.

I suppose it would be about five minutes after Mr. Chiffinch had left me
that Her Majesty came. The first I knew of it was a great murmur of
voices and footsteps without the door. I went to the door and pulled it
a little open so that I could see without being seen, and looked up the
lobby beyond the King's chamber; for in that direction, I knew, lay Her
Majesty's apartments. A couple of pages came first, very hastily, with
rods; and then immediately after them Her Majesty herself, hurrying as
fast as she could, scarce decently dressed, with a cloak flung over all,
with a hood. Behind her came two or three of her ladies. I saw the poor
woman's face very plain for a moment, since there was no one between me
and her; and even at that distance I could see her miserable agitation;
her brown face was all sallow and her mouth hung open. Then she whisked
after the pages through the door into the great antechamber that lay
beyond the bedroom. I went back again, to shut the door and listen at
the other; for I knew that the King's bed was close to it (though he was
not in it at this time, but still in the barber's chair where he had
been blooded); and presently I heard the poor soul begin to wail aloud.
I heard voices too, as if soothing her, for all the physicians were
there, and half a dozen others; but the wailing grew, as she saw, I
suppose, in what condition His Majesty was--(for he still seemed all
unconscious)--till she began to shriek. That was a terrible sound, for
she laughed and sobbed too, all at once, in a kind of fit. I could hear
the tone very plain through the door, though I could not hear what she
said; and the voices of Mr. King and others who endeavoured to quiet
her. Gradually the wailing and shrieking grew less as they forced her
away and out again; till I heard it, as she went back again to her own
apartments, die away in spasms. Poor soul indeed! she was nothing
accounted of in that Court, yet she loved the King very dearly in spite
of his neglect towards her. She could not even speak to him (I heard
afterwards), though he had spoken her name and asked for her, after his
first blooding.

       *       *       *       *       *

Half an hour later--(in the meantime no one had come in to me, and I
could only walk up and down and listen as well as I could)--I heard
again the murmur of voices in the lobby, and steps coming swiftly down
from the private closet. Again I was in time at the door to see who it
was that went by; and it was the Duke of York, with my Lord Ailesbury
who had gone to fetch him from St. James'. He went by me so near that I
could hear his quick breathing from his run upstairs; and he had come in
such a hurry that he had only one shoe on, and on the other foot a
slipper. He went very near at a run up the lobby, and up a step or two,
and into the great antechamber and so round to the Bedchamber; and I
presently heard him enter it. Indeed I was very favourably placed for
observing all that went on.

       *       *       *       *       *

It was about eleven o'clock, as I suppose, when I first heard His
Majesty's voice; and the relief of it to me was extraordinary.

I had ventured up the stair or two that led from this room into the
Bedchamber, and had, very delicately, opened the door a crack so as to
hear more plainly; but I dared not look through for fear that I should
be seen.

For a long while I had heard nothing but whispers; and once the yapping
of a little dog, very sharp and startling, but the noise was stifled
almost immediately, and the dog, I suppose, taken out at the other door.
Once or twice too had come the sudden chiming of all the clocks that
were in the Bedchamber.

I heard first a great groan from the bed, to which by now they had moved
him from the chair, and then Ailesbury's name spoken in a very broken
voice. (My own heart beat so loud when I heard that, that I could scarce
listen to what followed.)

"Yes, Sir," came Ailesbury's voice; and then a broken murmur again. (He
was thanking him, I heard afterwards from Mr. Chiffinch, for his
affection to him, and for having caused him to be bled so promptly by
Mr. King, and for having sent Chiffinch to him to bring him back from
his private closet.)

Presently he grew stronger; and I could hear what he said.

"I went there," he said, "for the King's Drops.... I felt very ailing
when I rose.... I walked about there; but felt no better. I nearly fell
from giddiness as I came down again."

He spoke very slowly, but strongly enough; and he gave a great sigh at
the end.

Presently he spoke again.

"Why, brother," he said. "So there you are."

I heard the Duke's voice answer him, but so brokenly and confusedly that
I could hear no words.

"No, no," said His Majesty, "I do very well now."

       *       *       *       *       *

I came down the stairs again, shaking all over. I cannot say how
affected I was to hear his voice again; and I think there could scarce
be a man in the place any less affected. He was a man who compelled love
in an extraordinary fashion. I felt that if he died I could bear no more
at all.

I was walking up and down again very softly, when the door into the
Bedchamber was noiselessly pulled open, and Mr. Chiffinch came down the
stairs. That dreadful look of tightness and pain was gone from his face:
he was almost smiling. He nodded at me, very cheerful.

"He is better. The King's Majesty is much better," he whispered. Then
his face twitched with emotion; and I saw that he was very near crying.
I was not far from it myself.



CHAPTER IX


How the hours of that day went by I scarcely know at all. I went back to
dine in my lodgings, and to counter-order all preparations for my going
on the morrow, so soon as I knew that His Majesty was out of any
immediate danger; for I could not find it in my heart to leave town
until he was altogether recovered. In the afternoon, before going back
to inquire how he was, I walked a good while in the court and the Privy
Garden, though the day was very raw and cold.

Whitehall had been put as in a state of siege from the first moment that
the King's illness was known. The gates were closed to all but those who
had lodgings in the Palace, and those who were allowed special entry by
His Royal Highness. The sentries everywhere were greatly augmented; both
horse and foot were placed at every entrance; and the greatest
strictness was observed that no letter should pass out either to His
Grace of Monmouth or to the Prince of Orange: even M. Barillon had but
permission to send one letter to the French King as to His Majesty's
state. All this was to hinder any rising or invasion that might be made
either within or without the kingdom. I was in the court when the
couriers rode out with despatches to the Lords Lieutenant of the
Counties with advices as to what to do should His Majesty die; and I was
there too when the deputies came from the Lord Mayor and Aldermen and
Lieutenants of the City to inquire for the King and to assure His Royal
Highness of their loyalty and support. This was of the greatest
satisfaction to the Duke; for I suppose that he did not feel very
secure.

A little before supper I went round to Mr. Chiffinch's; and, by the
greatest good fortune found him on the point of returning to His
Majesty's lodgings. He gave me an excellent account as we went together.

"The physicians declare," said he, "that His Majesty is out of danger:
and bath permitted the Duke to tell the foreign ministers so. They have
had another consultation on him; and have prescribed God knows what!
Cowslip and Sal of Ammoniac, sneezing mixtures, plasters for his feet;
and he is to have broth and ale to his supper. They are determined to
catch hold of his disorder somehow, if not by one thing then by another.
To tell the truth I think they know not at all what is the matter with
him. They have taken near thirty ounces of blood from him too, to-day.
If the King were not a giant for health he would have died of his
remedies, I think!"

He talked so; but he was in very cheerful spirits; and before he left me
at the door of the lodgings I had got an order from him to admit me
everywhere within reason. It was something of a surprise to me to see
how dearly this man--whose name was so evil spoken of, and, I fear with
good cause enough--yet loved his master.

       *       *       *       *       *

On Tuesday morning I was up again very early, and round at His Majesty's
lodgings. I went up by the other way and into the great antechamber; and
there I met with one of the physicians who was just come from the
consultation that twelve of them had held together. He was a very
communicative fellow and told me that six of them had been with His
Majesty all night, and that His Majesty had slept pretty well; and
that--to encourage him, I suppose!--ten more ounces of blood had been
taken from his neck. He was proceeding to speak of some new
remedies--and mentioned an anti-spasmodic julep of Black Cherry Water
that had been prescribed, when another put out his head and called to
him from the Bedchamber; and he went away back into it with an important
air.

All that day too I never left Whitehall. There were great crowds in all
the streets and outside the gates, I heard, but their demeanour was very
quiet and sorrowful; and prayers were said all day long in the churches.
When I went back to the antechamber in the evening I saw my Lord Bishop
of Ely there, and heard from one of the pages that he was to spend that
night in His Majesty's room. So I gathered from that that the physicians
were not very confident even yet, though couriers had been sent out
again to-day to bear the news of the King's happy recovery; and I was,
besides, in two minds, when I saw the Bishop there, as to what I should
do about a Catholic priest. If I had seen His Royal Highness then, I
think I should have said something to him upon it; but the Duke was in
the Bedchamber; and there I dared not yet penetrate.

       *       *       *       *       *

On the Wednesday morning, when I went early to inquire, I heard that
again His Majesty had slept well, and that the physicians were well
satisfied; I saw no one but a man of Mr. Chiffinch's, who told me that;
and that Dr. Ken, my Lord Bishop of Bath and Wells, was with the King;
and I went away content: but when I went back again, for the third time
that day, just before supper-time, I saw from the faces in the
antechamber that all was not so well. Yet I could get nothing out of
anyone, and did not wish to press too hard lest I should be turned out
altogether. I saw my friend of yesterday, whose name I have never yet
learned, hurrying across the end of the chamber into another little room
where the physicians had their consultations--(it was, I think, my Lord
Ailesbury's dressing-room)--but I was not in time to catch him; so I
went away again in some little dismay, yet not greatly alarmed even now.
The Bishop, I thought, could at least do him no great harm.

On the Thursday morning, before I was dressed, my man brought me the
_London Gazette_ that had been printed about six o'clock the evening
before. The announcement as to the King's health ran as follows. (I cut
out the passage then and there and put it in my diary.)

       *       *       *       *       *

  "At the Council Chamber, Whitehall, the 4th of February, 1684 [1685 N.
  S.], at five in the afternoon.

  "The Lords of His Majesty's most Honourable Privy Council have thought
  fit, for preventing false reports, I make known that His Majesty, upon
  Monday morning last, was seized with a violent fit that gave great
  cause to fear the issue of it; but after some hours an amendment
  appeared, which with the blessing of God being improved by the
  application of proper and seasonable remedies, is now so advanced, that
  the physicians have this day as well as yesterday given this account to
  the Council, viz.--That they conceive His Majesty to be in a condition
  of safety, and that he will in a few days be freed from his distemper.

                           "JOHN NICHOLAS."

Yes, thought I, that is all very well; but what of yesterday after five
o'clock, and what of this morning?

       *       *       *       *       *

As I went to His Majesty's lodgings an hour afterwards I heard the bells
from the churches beginning to peal, to call the folks to give thanks;
yet the faces within the Palace were very different. When I went up into
the great antechamber, the physicians were just dispersing; and, by good
fortune I was at hand when my Lord Keeper North questioned Sir Charles
Scarburgh as he went back to His Majesty's chamber.

"Well?" said he, very short. "What do you say to-day?"

"My Lord!" said Sir Charles, "we conclude that His Majesty hath an
intermittent fever."

"And what the devil of that?" asked my Lord. "Could anything be worse?"

(There was a little group round them by now; and I could see one of the
Bishops listening a little way off.)

"My Lord," said the other, "at least we know now what to do."

"And what is that?" snapped my Lord who seemed in a very ill humour.

"To give the Cortex, my Lord," said Sir Charles with great dignity; for
indeed the manner of my Lord was most insolent.

My Lord grunted at that.

"Peruvian Bark, my Lord," said the physician, as if speaking to a child.

Well; there was no more to be got that morning. I was in and out for a
little, again in two minds as to what to do. His Royal Highness went
through the antechamber at one time (to meet M. Barillon, as I saw
presently, and conduct him to the King's chamber), a little before
dinner, but at such a quickness, and with such sorrow in his face that I
dared not speak to him. I went back to dinner; and fell asleep
afterwards in my chair, so greatly was I wearied out with anxiety; and
did not wake till near four o'clock. Then, thank God! I did awake; and,
with all speed went again to His Majesty's lodgings; and this time,
guided, I suppose, by Divine Providence, for I had no clear intention in
what I did, I went up the private way, through the King's closet where I
found no one, down the steps, and so into the little chamber where I had
talked with Mr. Chiffinch on the first morning of His Majesty's
distemper.

The chamber was empty; but immediately after I had entered--first
knocking, and getting no answer--who should come through, his face all
distorted with sorrow, but Mr. Chiffinch himself! There was but one
candle on the table, but by its light, I saw how it was with him.

I went up immediately, and took him by the arms; he stared at me like a
terrified child.

"My friend," said I, "I must have no further delay. You must take me to
His Majesty."

He shook his head violently; but he could not speak. As for me, all my
resolution rose up as never before.

I gripped him tighter.

"I ask but five minutes," I said. "But that I must have!"

"I--I cannot," said he, very low.

I let go of him, and went straight towards the steps that led up into
His Majesty's room. As I reached the foot of them, he had seized my arm
from behind.

"Where are you going?" he whispered sharply. "That is the way to the
King's room."

I turned and looked at him.

"Yes," I said very slowly, "I know that."

"Well--well, you cannot," he stammered.

"Then you must take me," I said.

He still stared at me as if either he or I were mad. Then, of a sudden
his face changed; and he nodded. I could see how distraught he was, and
unsettled.

"I will take you," he whispered, "I will take you, Mr. Mallock. For
God's sake, Mr. Mallock--"

He went up the steps before me, in his soft shoes; and I went after, as
quietly as I could. As he put his hand on the handle he turned again.

"For Christ's sake!" he whispered in a terrible soft voice. "For
Christ's sake! It must be but five minutes. I am sent to fetch the
Bishops, Mr. Mallock."

He opened the door a little, and peered in. I could see nothing, so dark
was the chamber within--but the candles at the further end and a few
faces far away. A great curtain, as a wall, shut off all view to my
left.

"Quick, Mr. Mallock," he whispered, turning back to me. "This side of
the bed is clear. Go in quick; he is turned on this side. I will fetch
you out this way again."

He was his own man again, swift and prompt and steady. As for me, the
beating of my heart made me near sick. Then I felt myself pushed within
the chamber; and heard the door close softly behind me.

       *       *       *       *       *

At first I could see nothing on this side, as I had been staring over
the candle just now, except a group of persons at the further end of the
great room, and among them the white of a Bishop's rochet; and the
candlelight and firelight on the roof. The clocks were all chiming four
as I came in, and drowned, I suppose, the sounds of my coming.

Then, almost immediately I saw that the curtains were drawn back on this
side of the great bed that stood in this end of the room, and that they
were partly drawn forward on the other side, so as to shroud from the
candlelight him who lay within them, and beneath the Royal Arms of
England emblazoned on the state.

And then I saw him.

He was lying over on this side of the bed, propped on high pillows, but
leaning all over, and breathing loudly. His left, arm was flung over the
coverlet; and his fingers contracted and opened and contracted again. I
went forward swiftly and noiselessly, threw myself on my knees, laid my
hand softly beneath his, and kissed it.

"Eh? eh?" murmured the heavy voice. "Who is it?"

I saw the curtain on the other side pulled a little, and the face of Sir
Charles Scarburgh all in shadow peer in: it looked very lean and sharp
and high-browed. The King flapped his hand in a gesture of dismissal,
and the face vanished again.

"Sir," whispered I, very earnestly, yet so low that I think none but he
could have heard me. "Sir: it is Roger Mallock--"

"Mallock," repeated the voice; yet so low that it could not have been
understood by any but me. His face was very near to me; and it was
shockingly lined and patched, and the eyes terribly hollow and languid:
but there was intelligence in them.

"Sir," said I, "you spoke to me once of an apostleship."

"So I did," murmured the voice. "So I--"

"Sir: I am come to fulfill it. It is not too late. Sir; the Bishops are
sent for. Have nothing to say to them! Sir, let me get you a true
priest--For Christ's sake!"

The cold fingers that I yet held, twitched and pressed on mine. I was
sure that he understood.

He drew a long breath.

"And what of poor little Ken?" he murmured. "Poor little Ken: he will
break his heart--if he may not say his prayers."

"Let him say what he will, Sir. But no sacrament! Let me send for a
priest!"

There was a long silence. He sighed once or twice. His fingers all the
while twitched in mine, pressing on them, and opening again. Ah! how I
prayed in my heart; to Mary conceived without sin to pray for this poor
soul that had such a load on him. The minutes were passing. I thought,
maybe, he was unconscious again. And the Bishops, if they were in the
Palace, might be here at any instant, and all undone. I am not ashamed
to say that I entreated even my own dear love to pray for us. She had
laid down her life in his service and mine. Might it not be, thought I,
even in this agony, that by God's permission, she were near to help me?

He stirred again at last.

"Going to be a monk," said he, "going to be a monk, Roger Mallock. Pray
for me, Roger Mallock, when you be a monk."

"Sir--"

He went on as if he had not heard me.

"Yes," murmured he. "A very good idea. But you will never do it. Go to
Fubbs, Roger Mallock. Fubbs will do it."

"For a priest, Sir?" whispered I, scarcely able to believe that he
meant it.

"Yes," he murmured again, "for a priest. Yes: for God's sake. Fubbs will
do it. Fubbs is always--"

His voice trailed off into silence once more; and his fingers relaxed.
At the same instant I heard the door open softly behind, and, turning, I
saw the page's face again, lean and anxious, peering in at me. Then his
finger appeared in the line of light, beckoning.

I kissed the loose cold fingers once again; rose up and went out on
tip-toe.



CHAPTER X


Then began for me the most amazing adventure of all. My adventures had
indeed been very surprising--some of them; and my last I had thought to
be the greatest of all, and the most heart-breaking, in the yard of the
Theatre Royal. I had thought that that had drained the last energy from
me and that I had no desires left except of the peace of the cloister
and death itself. Yet after my words with the King and his to me, there
awakened that in me which I had thought already dead--a fierce
overmastering ambition to accomplish one more task that was the greatest
of them all and to get salvation to the man who had again and again
flouted and neglected me, whom yet I loved as I had never yet loved any
man. As I went to and fro, as I shall now relate, until I saw him again,
there went with me the vision of him and of his fallen death-stricken
face there in the shadow of the great bed; and there went with me too, I
think, the eager presence of my own love, near as warm as in life.

"What shall we do next? What shall we do next, Dolly?" I caught myself
murmuring more than once as I ran here and there; and I had almost sworn
that she whispered back to me, and that her breath was in my hair.

       *       *       *       *       *

Within five minutes of my having left the King's bedchamber, I was
running up the stairs to Her Grace of Portsmouth's lodgings. I had said
scarce a word to Mr. Chiffinch when I came out into the little anteroom,
except that I was sent on a message by His Majesty; and he stared on me
as if I were mad. Then I was out again by the private way, through the
closet and the rooms beyond, and down the staircase.

At the door of Her Grace's lodgings there stood a sentry who lowered his
pike as I came up, to bar my way.

"Out of the way, man!" I cried at him. "I am on His Majesty's business."

He too stared on me, and faltered, lifting his pike a little. All were
distraught by the news that was run like fire about the place that the
King was dying, or he would never have let me through. But I was past
him before he could change his mind again, and through a compile of
antechambers in one of which a page started up to know my business, but
I was past him as if he were no more than a shadow.

Then I was in the great gallery, where I had sat with the King and his
company but four days ago.

       *       *       *       *       *

It presented a very different appearance now. Then it had been all
ablaze with lights and merry with laughter and music. Now it was lit by
but a pair of candles over the hearth and, the glow of a dying fire.
Overhead the high roof glimmered into darkness, and the gorgeous
furniture was no more than dimness. I stopped short on the threshold,
bewildered at the gloom, thinking that the chamber was empty; then I saw
that a woman had raised herself from the great couch on which the King
had lolled with his little dogs last Sunday night, and was staring at me
like a ghost.

At that sight I ran forward and kneeled down on one knee.

"Madame," I said in French, "His Majesty hath sent me--"

At that she was up, and had me by the shoulders. Her face was ghastly,
all slobbered over with crying, and her eyes sunken and her lips pale as
wax. God knows what she was dressed in; for I do not.

"His Majesty," she cried, "His Majesty! He is not dead! For the love of
God--"

I stood up; she still gripped me like a fury.

"No, Madame," said I, "His Majesty is not dead. He hath sent me. I spoke
with him not five minutes ago. But he is very near death."

"He hath sent for me! He hath sent for me!" she screamed, as if in
mingled joy and terror.

"No, Madame; but he hath sent to you. His Majesty desires you to get him
a priest."

Her hands relaxed and fell to her side. I do not know what she thought.
I do not judge her. But I thought that she hesitated. I fell on my knees
again; and seized her hand. I would have kneeled to the Devil, if he
could have helped me then.

"Madame--for the love of Christ do as the King asks! He desires a
priest. For the love of Christ, Madame!"

She was still silent for an instant, staring down on me. Then she tore
her hand free, and I thought she would refuse me. But she caught me
again by the shoulders.

"Stand up, sir; stand up. I--I will do whatever the King desires. But
what can I do? God! there is someone coming!"

There came very plainly, through the antechambers I had just run
through, the tramp of feet. I stood, as in a paralysis, not knowing what
to do next. Then she seized on me again as the steps came near.

"Stand back," she said, "stand back, sir. I must see--"

There came a knocking on the door as I sprang back away from the hearth,
and stood out of the firelight. Then the door opened, as Her Grace made
no answer, and the page whom I had seen just now stood bowing upon the
threshold.

"Madame," said he. "M. Barillon, the French ambassador--"

She made a swift gesture, and he fell back. There was a pause; and then,
through the door came M. Barillon, very upright and lean, walking
quickly, all alone. He stopped short when he saw Her Grace, put his
heels together and bowed very low.

She was at him in an instant.

"Monsieur!" she cried. "Yon are come in the very nick of time. How is
His Majesty?"

He said nothing as he walked with her towards the hearth. She stood,
waiting, with her hands clasped, and a face of extraordinary anguish.

"Madame," he said, "there is very bad news. I am come on behalf of His
Majesty King Louis--"

"Sh!" she hissed at him, with a quick gesture to where I stood. He had
not observed me. He straightened himself, as he saw me, and then bowed a
little.

The Duchess went on with extraordinary rapidity, still talking in
French.

"This is Mr. Mallock," said she, "Mr. Mallock--but just now come from
His Majesty. He brings me very grave news. Monsieur Barillon, you will
help us, will you not? You will help us, surely?"

All her anguish had passed into an extraordinary pleading: she was as a
child begging for life.

"Madame--" began the ambassador.

"Ah! listen, Monsieur, the king desires a priest. He is a Catholic at
heart, you know. He hath been a Catholic at heart a long time, ever
since--" she broke off. "You will help us, will you not, Monsieur?"

He threw out his hands: but she paid no attention.

"Monsieur, I swear to you that it is so. Yet what can I do? I cannot go
to him, with decency. The Queen is there continually, I hear. The Duke
is taken up with a thousand affairs and does not think of it. Go to the
Duke, I entreat you, Monsieur l'Ambassadeur; go to the Duke and tell him
what I say. Mr. Mallock shall go with you. He is a friend of the Duke.
He will bear me out. Monsieur, for the love of God lose no time. Come
and see me again; but go now, or it may be too late. Monsieur, I entreat
you."

She had seized him by the arm as she spoke. Even his rigid face twitched
a little at the violence of her pleading. I knew well what was in his
mind, and how he wondered whether he dared do as she asked him. God knew
what complications might follow!

"Monsieur--"

He nodded suddenly and sharply.

"Madame," said he, "I will go. Mr. Mallock--"

He bowed to me.

"Ah! God bless you, sir--"

He stooped suddenly to her hand, lifted it and kissed it. I think in
that moment something of the compassion of the Saviour Himself fell on
him for this poor woman who yet might be forgiven much, for indeed,
under all her foolishness and sin, she loved very ardently. Then he
wheeled and went out of the room again; and I followed. No sound came
from the Duchess as we left her there in the half lit twilight. She was
standing with her hands clasped, staring after us as we went out.

       *       *       *       *       *

He said nothing as we passed again through the anterooms and down the
stairs. Then, as we went on through the next gallery he spoke to me. His
men were a good way behind us, and another in front.

"Mr. Mallock," said he--(for he had known me well enough in
France)--"His Majesty told you this himself?"

"Yes, sir," said I, "not a quarter of an hour ago."

"Then the Duke is our only chance," he said.

He said no more till we came to the great antechamber by the King's
bedroom. It was half full of people; but the Duke was nowhere to be
seen. I waited by the door as M. Barillon went forward and spoke to
someone. Then he came back to me.

"The Duke is with the Queen," he said. "We must go to him there."

It was enough to send a man mad so to seek person after person in such a
simple matter as this. Why in God's name, I wondered, might not even a
King die in what religion he liked, without all this plotting and
conspiring? Was I never to be free from these things?

At the door to the Queen's apartments M. Barillon turned to me.

"You had best wait here, sir," he said. "I will speak with the Duke
privately first."

He was admitted instantly so soon as he knocked; and went through
leaving me in a little gallery.

       *       *       *       *       *

Of all that went through my mind as I walked up and down, with a page
watching me from the door, I can give no account at all. Again one half
of my attention was fixed, though with out any coherency, on the
business I was at; the other half observed the carpet under my feet,
the cabinets along the wall, and the pictures. It was not near as
splendid as were the rooms I had left so short a while ago.

I had not to wait long. There was a sudden talking of voices beyond the
door that the Ambassador had just passed through; and I heard the Duke's
tones very plain. Then the page stiffened to attention, the door was
flung open suddenly, and the Duke came out alone at a great pace,
leaving the door open behind him. He never saw me at all. The page
darted after him, and the two disappeared together round the corner in
the direction of the King's rooms. As soon as they were gone, M.
Barillon came out and beckoned to me; and together we went up and down
the gallery.

"You are perfectly right, sir," he said. "His Royal Highness shewed
great sorrow for not leaving thought of it. He is gone instantly to His
Majesty."

"He will fetch a priest?"

"He will speak to His Majesty first. He will find out, at least, what he
thinks."

"But, good God!" said I. "His Majesty hath told me himself what he
wishes."

"You must let His Royal Highness do it in his own way," he said. "He
must not be pushed. But I think you have done the trick, Mr. Mallock."

"How is Her Majesty?" I asked abruptly.

"The physicians have been at her too," he said dryly. "She had a
fainting-fit just now in His Majesty's presence; and they have been
blooding her."

"What priest can be got?" I asked next.

He made a gesture towards the chamber he had just come out of.

"There is a pack of them in there," he said, "next to Her Majesty's
private closet. They have been praying all day in the oratory."

       *       *       *       *       *

It was fallen dark by now; for it was long after five o'clock; and there
were no candles lighted here. We went up and down a good while longer,
for the most part in silence, speaking of this and that; and I will not
deny that we talked a little of French affairs, though God knows I was
in no heart for that, and answered very indifferently. It appeared to me
extraordinary that a man could think of such little things as the
affairs of kingdoms when an immortal soul was at stake.

A little before six o'clock, when at last the servants brought lights,
the Ambassador left me again to go in to see the Queen, leaving me to
watch for the Duke; and I had not very long to wait, for soon after I
had heard a clock chime the hour, His Royal Highness came again, walking
very quickly as before; and, when he saw me waiting there, beckoned me
to follow him. We went through two or three rooms, all lighted up and
empty--the Duke sending a page to fetch M. Barillon out of the Queen's
private closet where he was talking with her--into a little chamber
that looked out upon the court, where there was a fire lighted. We had
hardly got there before the Ambassador came, all in haste, to hear what
had been done.

"I have spoken with His Majesty," said the Duke, looking very white and
drawn in the face. "He is in most excellent dispositions. He tells me
that he hath put off the Bishops and has not received the sacrament from
them and will not."

"And what of a priest, Sir?" asked the Ambassador sharply.

"I did not speak to him of that," answered the Duke so pompously that I
raged to hear him. "He said that Dr. Ken hath read prayers over him, and
told him that he need make no confession unless he willed; and that he
willed not, and did not; but that Dr. Ken read an absolution over him
which he values not at a straw."

"Sir," said I, very boldly, "this is very pretty talk; but it is not a
priest. His Majesty wishes for a priest; he told me so himself."

The Duke turned on me very hotly.

"Eh, sir?"

I made haste to swallow down my wrath.

"Sir," I said, "I did not mean to be discourteous. But I assure Your
Royal Highness that the King said so to me expressly. It is his immortal
soul that is at stake."

Then I understood what was the matter. The Duke flung out his hands as
if in despair.

"But what can I do?" he cried. "I am watched every instant. They will
not leave me alone with him. Dr. Ken eyed me very sharply. They suspect
something--I know they do--from my brother's having refused their
ministrations. How can I get a priest to him?"

Then again, by God's inspiration as I truly believe, a thought came to
me.

"Sir," I said, "I myself spoke with the King a while ago: and I do not
think that a soul saw who I was. I came through the little door at the
back of the bed. Why should not--"

The Ambassador struck his hands together.

"_Bon Dieu_!" he said. "I believe Mr. Mallock hath hit it again."

The Duke turned and eyed me very sternly.

"Well, sir, what is your plan?"

"Sir," I said, "let the chamber be cleared, or almost. Then let M.
Barillon here go in as if he had a message from the French King. While
he is there let a priest be brought by the back way, not through the
antechamber at all--"

M. Barillon held up his hand.

"There would not be time," he said. "It does not take half an hour to
deliver a message; and the priest's business would take full half an
hour?"

"No! no!" cried James. "They would suspect something. Let Her Majesty
come again to take her leave of the King; and then I will go in after
for the same thing. While we are there, let the priest come, as Mr.
Mallock has said--"

"Sir," said the Ambassador, "we must not have too many folks in this
business--"

All this bargaining drove me near mad. Once more I broke in; and this
time with more effect.

"Sir," I said to the Duke, "I entreat you to hear me. There is the
little room at the back of His Majesty's bed, all ready, and empty too.
We do not need all these devices. If you, Sir, will go to the King and
prepare him for it, I will find a priest and bring him up the other way.
I do not believe that even if there were folks in the bedchamber they
would hear what passed."

"Which way would the priest come?" asked the Duke.

"There is a little stair in the corner of the room--"

"God! There is," cried the Duke. "I had forgotten it."

We stared on one another in silence. My mind raced like a mill. Then
once more the Duke near ruined the whole design by his diplomacy.

"Gentlemen," he said, "we are too precipitate. His Majesty hath not yet
told me that he wishes for a priest--"

"Sir--" I began in desperation.

He looked at me so fiercely that I stopped.

"Listen to me," said he very imperiously. "I will have it my own way. M.
Barillon, do you come with me now to His Majesty. I will bid the company
withdraw into the antechamber--Bishops and all--on the pretext that I
wish to consult with my brother privately. M. Barillon shall be in the
doorway that none may come through. Mr. Mallock shall be with the
company and hear what they say. Then, if the King wishes for a priest,
we will consult again here, and see if Mr. Mallock's plan is a possible
one."

He strode towards the door. There was no more to be said. It was a
dreadful risk that we ran in so long delaying; but there was no
gainsaying James when he had made up his mind.

       *       *       *       *       *

The great antechamber was near full of folks of all kinds when we three
came to it again. They fell back as they saw the Duke; and he passed
straight through, as was arranged, with M. Barillon, leaving me behind,
near the door. The King's bedchamber was pretty dark, and I could see no
more of the bed at the far distant end than its curtains.

Presently I heard the Duke in a low voice saying something to the
company that was within: and immediately they began to come out, three
or four Bishops, among them, my Lord Halifax, Lord Keeper North, and my
Lord Craven; I noticed that M. Barillon was very careful to let all in
the antechamber have a clear view of the bed, at which, by now the Duke
was kneeling down, having drawn back the curtains a little, yet not so
much as to shew us the King lying there.

Round about me they talked very little, though I saw the Bishops
whispering together. The two brothers spoke together, very low, for ten
minutes or a quarter of an hour; and I could hear the murmur of the
Duke's voice. Of His Majesty's I heard nothing except that twice he
said, very clear:

"Yes.... Yes, with all my heart."

And I thanked God when I heard that.

       *       *       *       *       *

Yet, even so, all was not yet done.

So soon as I saw the Duke stand up again from his kneeling, and coming
down the chamber, I slipped away to the door that leads out towards Her
Majesty's apartments, that I might be ready for him. I saw him come
through, all the people standing and bowing to him, and M. Barillon
following him; and I noticed in particular a young gentleman whose name
I did not know at that time--(it was the Comte de Castelmelhor, a very
good Catholic)--standing out, a little by himself. I noticed this man
because I saw that the Duke looked at him as he came and presently
signed to him very slightly, with his head, to follow. So all four of us
passed through the door into the long gallery that unites their
Majesties' apartments and found ourselves alone in it. The Count was a
little behind.

"He has consented," said the Duke in a low voice, "to my bringing him a
priest. We must send for one. But I dare not bring one of the Duchess':
they are too well-known."

"Sir," said Monsieur Barillon, "I will do so with pleasure. Why not one
of Her Majesty's priests?"

The Duke nodded. We three were all standing together about the middle of
the gallery. The Comte de Castelmelhor was halted, uncovered, a little
behind us. The Duke turned to him.

"Count," said he, speaking in French, "we are on a very urgent business.
His Majesty hath consented that a priest should come to him. Will you
go for us to the Queen and ask for one of her chaplains?"

The young man flushed up with pleasure.

"With all my heart, Sir," he said. "Which priest shall I ask for? Is
there one that can speak English?"

The Duke struck his forehead with his open hand.

"Lord!" he said. "I never thought of that. We must have an Englishman.
Where shall we send?"

"Sir," said the Ambassador; "there is one at least at the Venetian
Resident's."

Again I broke in. (My impatience drove me near mad. Time was passing
quickly. I could have fetched a priest myself ten times over if the Duke
had but allowed me to go in the beginning.)

"Sir," said I, "for God's sake let me go first to Her Majesty's
apartments. I'll be bound there's one at least there that knows English.
Let this gentleman come with me."

The Duke stared at me as if bewildered. I think he saw that he had done
little but hinder the business, so far.

"Go," he said suddenly. "Go both of you together--Stay. Bring a priest
with you, if you can find one, to the little room behind the King's bed;
but bring him up the stairs the other way. Bid him stay till I send
Chiffinch to him."

Then we were gone at full speed.



CHAPTER XI


It was eight o'clock at night; and the priest and I were still waiting
in the little room; and no word was come through from the Bedchamber,
beyond that Mr. Chiffinch had come through once to bid us be ready.

       *       *       *       *       *

Once again God had favoured us in spite of all our blunders. The Count
and I had run together through to Her Majesty's lodging and there we had
found, as I knew we should, a priest that knew English. But I had not
thought that God's Hand should be so visible in the matter as that we
should find none other but Mr. Huddleston himself, the Scotsman, that
had saved the King's life after the battle of Worcester. There was a
very particular seemliness in this--though I had not much time to think
of it then. But our difficulties were not all over.

First, Mr. Huddleston declared that he had never reconciled a convert in
his life; and did not know how to set about it. Next he said that he was
the worst man in the world to do it, as his face was very well known,
and that he would surely be suspected if he were seen: and third that
the Most Holy Sacrament was not in Whitehall at all, and that therefore
he could not give _Viaticum._ He looked very agitated, in spite of his
ruddy face.

I was amazed at the man; but I forced myself to treat him with patience,
for he was the only priest we could get.

First I told him that nothing was needed but to hear the King's
confession, give him absolution and anoint him: next, that we would
disguise him in a great periwig and a gown, such as the Protestant
Divines wore--(for, as I spoke, I actually spied such a gown hanging on
the wall of the chamber in which I was speaking with him). Third, that
another priest could go to St. James' and bring the Most Holy Sacrament
to him from there.

At that point Father Bento de Lemoz, who was listening to our talk,
came forward and interposed. He would get a little Ritual directly, he
said (in very poor English)--that had in it all that was necessary: and
he would go himself, not to St. James', for that was too far off, but to
Somerset House, and get the Holy Sacrament from the royal chapel there.
Mr. Huddleston had nothing to say to that; and in five minutes we had
him in his periwig and gown, with the book in his pocket, with the holy
oils, and away downstairs, and along the passage beneath, and up again
by the little winding stair into the chamber beyond the King's bed. I
gave him no time to think of any more objections.

       *       *       *       *       *

That was a very strange vigil that we held for very near, I should
think, twenty minutes or half an hour. We both sat there together
without speaking. For the most of the time Mr. Huddleston was reading in
his Ritual, and I could see his brow furrowed and his lips moving, as be
conned over all that he would have to do and say to His Majesty. He was
a man, as he had said, completely unaccustomed to such ministrations,
though he was a very good man and a good priest too, in other matters.
After a while he laid aside his book, and prayed, I think, for he
covered his face with his hands.

       *       *       *       *       *

A minute or two later I could bear the delay no longer. I rose and went
up the three or four steps that led to the King's Bedchamber, and
listened. There was a low murmur of voices within; so that it seemed to
me that the room was not yet cleared. I put my hand upon the door and
pushed it a little; and to my satisfaction it was not latched, but
opened an inch or two. But someone was standing immediately on the other
side of it. I stepped back, and the door opened again just enough for me
to see the face of Mr. Chiffinch. He looked past me quickly to see that
the priest was there, I suppose, and then nodded at me two or three
times. Then he pushed the door almost to, again. A moment after I heard
the Duke's voice within, a little unsteady, but very clear and distinct.
He was standing up, I think, on the far side of the bed.

"Gentlemen," he said, "the King wishes all to retire excepting the
Earls of Bath and Feversham."

(Bath and Feversham! thought I. Why those two, in God's name, that were
such a pair of Protestants? But, indeed, it was the one good stroke that
the Duke made, for the names reassured, as I heard afterwards, all that
had any suspicions, and even the Bishops themselves.)

There was a rustle of footsteps, very plain, that followed the Duke's
words. I turned to the room behind me, again, and saw that Mr.
Huddleston too had heard what had passed. He was standing up, very pale
and agitated, with the book clasped in his hands. I moved down the steps
again so as not to block the way; and again there followed a silence, in
the midst of which I heard a door latched somewhere in the Bedchamber.

Then, suddenly, the door opened at the head of the stairs; and the Duke
stood there, he too as pale as death. He nodded once, very emphatically,
and disappeared again. Then the priest went by me without a word, up the
steps and so through. The door, as before, remained a crack open. I went
up to it, and put my eye to the crack.

On the left was the end of the bed, with the curtains drawn across it;
and beyond the bed I could see the whole room down to the end, for the
candles were burning everywhere, as well as the fire. I could see the
great table before the hearth, the physician's instruments and bottles
and cupping-glasses upon it, the chairs about it; the tall furniture
against the walls, and at least half a dozen clocks, whose ticking was
very plain in the silence. Three figures only were visible there. That
nearest, standing very rigid by the table, was Mr. Chiffinch: of the two
beyond I could recognize only my Lord Bath whose face looked this way:
the other I supposed to be my Lord Feversham. The Duke was not within
sight. He was kneeling, I suppose, out of my sight, beyond the bed.

Then I heard His Majesty's voice very plain, though very weak and slow.

"Ah!" said he, "you that saved my body is now come to save my soul."

There was the murmur of the priest's voice in answer. (The two of them
were not more than three or four yards away from me, at the most.) Then
again I heard the King, very clear and continuous, though still weak,
and not so loud as he had first spoken.

"Yes," said he, "I desire to die in the Faith and Communion of the Holy
Roman Catholic Church. I am sorry with all my heart that I have deferred
it for so long; and for all my sins."

(He said it quite distinctly, as if he had rehearsed it beforehand.)

Then the priest and he spoke together--the King repeating the priest's
words sometimes, and sometimes volunteering word or two of his own.

He said that through Christ's Passion he hoped to be saved; that he was
in charity with all the world; that he pardoned his enemies most
heartily, and desired pardon of all whom he had offended; that if God
would yet spare him, he would amend his life in every particular.

All that I heard with my own ears, and with inexpressible comfort. His
Majesty's voice was low, but very distinct, though sometimes he spoke
scarce above a whisper; and I do not think that any man who heard him
could doubt his sincerity--however late it was to shew it. But he was
not altogether too late, thank God!

       *       *       *       *       *

So soon as His Majesty began his confession, after Mr. Huddleston's
moving him to it, I slipped away from the door and began, as softly as I
could to walk up and down the little chamber again. I was satisfied
beyond measure: yet it seemed to me sometimes near incredible that I
should in very truth, be here at such a time, and that I should have
been, under God's merciful Providence, the instrument in such an affair.
My life was ended, I knew well enough now, in all matters that the world
counts life to consist of; yet was there ever such an ending? I had seen
all else go from me--my natural activities of every kind, my ambitions,
even the most sacred thing that the world can give, after the Love of
God, and that is the love of a woman! Yet the one purely supernatural
end that I had set before me--that end to which, four days ago, I had
said, as I thought, good-bye for ever in the Duchess of Portsmouth's
gallery--this was the one single thing that was mine after all. I could
take that at least with me into the cloister, and could praise God for
it all my life long--I mean the conversion of the man that was called
King of England, the man who, for all his sins and his treatment of me,
I yet loved as I have never loved any other man on earth. I think that
in those minutes of sorrow and joy as I paced up and down the little
room, my dearest Dolly was not very far away from me and that she knew
all that I felt.

Once--in a loud broken voice through the door--I heard these words:

--"Sweet Jesus. Amen.... Mercy, Sweet Jesus, Mercy!"

That was the King's voice that I heard: and I kneeled down when I heard
them.

       *       *       *       *       *

It would be about ten minutes later, as I still kneeled, that I heard,
upon the outside of the door that led down the winding stairs, a very
small tapping.

I ran to the door to open it, wondering who it could be; for I had
forgotten all about the Portuguese priest, though I had set the candles
ready burning, with a napkin on the table between them, in readiness for
his coming. And there he stood, with his eyes cast down, and his hands
clasped upon his breast.

I beckoned him forward, pointing to the table, and kneeled down again.

He went past me without a word, kneeled himself before the table and
then, unbuttoning his cloak he drew from round his neck the chain and
the Pyx from his breast, and laid it all upon the table, continuing
himself to kneel.

Presently he turned and looked at me, lifting his brows.

I knew what he wished; rose from my knees and went up the stairs, but
very cautiously, lest I should hear anything that I should not. There
was but a very faint murmur of the priest's voice, so I took courage and
pushed the door a little open so that I could see the King.

It was very dark within the curtains, for they were drawn against the
candlelight; but I could see what was passing. His Majesty was lying
flat upon his back, with his hands clasped beneath his chin, and Mr.
Huddleston was in the very act of arranging the coverlet over him again,
after the last Anointing. As I looked the priest turned and caught my
eyes, as he put the oil-stock and the wool away again in his cassock
breast. I nodded three times very emphatically--(His Majesty did not see
me at all, for his eyes were closed)--and went back again down the
stairs and kneeled once more. A few moments later Mr. Huddleston came
through.

I have never seen so swift a change in any man's face. He had been
terrified as he had gone in--all pale and shaking. Now he was still
pale, but his eyes shone, and there was a look of great assurance in his
face. He came straight down the steps without speaking, kneeled, rose
again, took up the Pyx and the corporal which Father de Lemoz had spread
beneath it, and passed up and out again. His priesthood, I suppose, had
risen in him like a great tide, and driven out all other emotions.

       *       *       *       *       *

Again I followed him to the door, and kneeled there where I could see;
and then there followed such a scene as I had never dreamed of.

The curtains on the other side of the bed had been drawn back just
enough to admit the face of the Duke who now kneeled there, yet not so
much that any of the three others at the further end of the chamber
could see into the bed. The candlelight streamed in through the opening
above the Duke's head; and in it, I saw His Majesty, all weak as he was,
striving to rise, with his eyes fixed on That which the priest was
holding in his right hand. I saw the priest's left hand go out to
restrain him; but I heard the King's voice distinctly.

"Father," he said very brokenly, "let me receive my Heavenly Saviour in
a better posture than lying on my bed."

"Sir," said Mr. Huddleston with great firmness, "lie down again, if you
please. God Almighty who sees your heart will accept your good
intention."

(But neither of them spoke loud enough to be heard at the further end of
the great chamber.)

And so he was persuaded to lie down again.

Then the priest repeated again, still holding the Blessed Sacrament
before the King's eyes, the Act of Contrition of which I had heard a
word or two a while ago; and His Majesty repeated it after him, word for
word, very devoutly.

Then, as the time was short Mr. Huddleston omitted several of the proper
prayers, and proceeded at once to the Communion, saying but the _Agnus
Dei_ three times, and then communicating him immediately. With my own
eyes I saw that holy act which sealed all and admitted the dying man to
sacramental union with his God. His eyes were closed throughout; and
when it was done he lay as still as a stone, his poor wasted face all
dark against the white pillows. I caught a glimpse too of the Duke: his
face was bowed in his hands, and he was weeping so that his shoulders
shook with it.

Presently the priest was reading again as well as he could in a very low
whisper the prayers for the Recommendation of a Departing Soul, down to
the very end. His Majesty lay motionless throughout. At the end he
opened his eyes.

"Father," he whispered, "the Act of Contrition once more, if you please.
I have sinned, I have sinned very--" He could speak no more for
weeping.

Then, once more, very slowly and tenderly, the priest repeated it; down
to _Mercy, Sweet Jesus, Mercy!_ My own eyes were all dim with tears, and
as fast as I brushed them away, they came again. When at last I could
see plainly once more, the priest was holding up a little crucifix
before the King's eyes; and he made him a short address, very Christian
and forcible. I remember near every word of it, as he said it.

"Lift up the eyes of your soul, Sir," he said, "and represent to
yourself your sweet Saviour here crucified, bowing down His Head to kiss
you; His Arms stretched out to embrace you; His Body and members all
bloody and pale with death to redeem you. Beseech Him, Sir, with all
humility that His most Precious Blood may not be shed in vain for you;
and that it will please Him, by the merits of His bitter Death and
Passion, to pardon and forgive you all your offences; and, finally, to
receive your soul into His Blessed Hands; and, when it shall please Him
to take it out of this transitory world, to grant you a joyful
resurrection, and an eternal crown of glory in the next."

He bent lower, making a great sign of the cross with his right
hand--(and the King too tried to bless himself in response).

"In the Name," said he, "of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
Ghost. Amen."

       *       *       *       *       *

One more joy and sorrow all in one was yet to be mine before the end. As
I opened the door for the priest to come back, His Majesty lifted his
eyes and saw me there; and I perceived that he recognized me. The Duke
had already risen up and gone down the room to bid them, I suppose, to
open the door and let the folks in again. Then, as the King's eyes met
my own he made a sign with his head that I should come near. I think
that if the chamber had been filled with but one mob of priest-hunters
and Protestants, I should have obeyed him then, even though I should
have been torn to pieces the next instant.

I went forward without a word, leaving the door open behind me, and
flung myself on my knees at the bedside.

His Majesty was too weary to speak, but, as I kneeled there, with my
face in my hands on the bedclothes, and my tears raining down, he lifted
his right hand and put it on my head, leaving it there for an instant.
It was all he could do to thank me; and I value that blessing from him,
a penitent sinner as he was, with the Body of our Saviour still in his
breast, as much as any blessing I have ever had from any man, priest or
bishop or Pope.

As he lifted his hand off again, I caught at it, and kissed it three or
four times, careless whether or no my tears poured down upon it.

       *       *       *       *       *

As I passed back again through the door to where Mr. Huddleston was
waiting for me, I heard the doors at the further end of the chamber
unlatched and the footsteps of the folks--physicians, courtiers, Bishops
and the rest--that poured in to see the end.



EPILOGUE


I have said again and again how strange this or that moment or incident
appeared to me as I experienced it; yet as I sit here now in my cell,
thirty years later, looking out upon the cloister-garth with its twisted
columns, and the cypresses and the grass, it is not so much this or that
thing that appears to me strange, but the whole of my experiences and
indeed human life altogether. For what can be more extraordinary than a
life which began as mine did, when I first went to England in sixteen
hundred and seventy-eight, should be ending as mine will end presently,
if God will, as a monk of St. Paul's-Without-the-Walls, in Holy Rome? To
what purpose, I ask myself, was that part of my life designed by Divine
Providence? For what did I labour so long, when all was to come to
nothing? For what was I to learn the passion of human love; if but to
lose it again? For what was I to intrigue and spy and labour and
adventure my life, for the cause of England and the Catholic Church,
when all a year or two later was to fall back, and further than it had
ever fallen before, into the darkness of heresy? There is but one effort
in all those years of which I saw the fruition, and that was the
conversion of my master upon his deathbed.

However, I have not yet related what passed after I had gone from the
King again, and took Mr. Huddleston downstairs. I will relate that very
shortly; and make an end. I had it all from Mr. Chiffinch before I left
London.

       *       *       *       *       *

His Majesty, after we were gone from him, rallied a little, in so far as
to make some think that he would recover altogether; but the physicians
said No; and they were right for near the first time in all their
diagnosis of his state. But they continued to give him their remedies of
Sal Ammoniac and Peruvian Bark, and later the Oriental Bezoar Stone,
which is a pebble, I understand, taken from the stomach of a goat. Also
they blooded him again, twelve ounces more, and all to no purpose.

His Majesty said a number of things that night that were very
characteristic of him; for God gave him back his gift of merriment, now
that he had the Gift of Faith as well: and he shewed a great tenderness
too from time to time and a very Christian appreciation of his own
condition.

For example, he said that he was suffering very much, but he thanked God
for it and that he was able to bear it with patience, as indeed he did.

Two or three times however he seemed to sigh for death to come quickly;
and once he looked round with his old laughter at the solemn faces round
his bed, and begged their pardon that he was "such an unconscionable
time in dying." "My work in this world seems over," he said--"such as it
has been. I pray God I may be at a better occupation presently."

He thanked His Royal Highness the Duke of York (who was by his bed all
that night, weeping and kissing his hand repeatedly) for all his
attention and love for him, and asked his pardon for any hardship that
had been done to his brother, through his fault. He gave him his clothes
and his keys; telling him that all was now his; and that he prayed God
to give him a prosperous reign.

To Her Majesty who came to see him again about midnight, he shewed the
tenderest consideration and love: but the Queen, who swooned again and
again at the sight of him, and had to be carried back to her apartments,
sent him a message later begging his pardon for any offence that she had
ever done to him.

"What!" whispered the King. "What! She beg my pardon, poor woman! Rather
I beg hers with all my heart. Carry that message back to Her Majesty."

No less than twice did the King commend the Duchess of Portsmouth to the
Duke's care--poor "Fubbs" as he had called her to me. Some blamed him
for thinking of her at all at such a time; as also for bidding his
brother "not to let poor Nell starve"; but for myself I cannot
understand such blame at all. If ever there were two poor souls who
needed care and forgiveness it was those two women, Mrs. Nell and Her
Grace.

All his natural sons were there--all except the Duke of Monmouth whose
name never passed his lips from the beginning of his sickness to the
end--and these too he recommended to his brother--the three sons of the
Duchess of Cleveland, and the rest. I do not wonder that he left out His
Grace of Monmouth: it seems to me very near prophetical of what was to
fall presently, when the Duke was to revolt against his new Sovereign
and suffer the last penalty for it, at his hands. But His Majesty
blessed all the rest of his children one by one, drawing them down to
him upon the bed--they weeping aloud, as I heard.

A very strange scene followed this. One of the Bishops fell down upon
his knees, and begged him, who was the "Lord's Anointed"--(and anointed
too, lately, in a fashion the Bishop never dreamed of!)--to bless all
that were there, since they were all his children, and all his subjects
too. The Bedchamber was now full from end to end; and all the company
fell together upon their knees. His Majesty, raising himself in bed,
first begged the pardon of all in a loud voice for anything in which he
had acted contrary to the interests of his country or the principles of
good government; and then, still in a loud voice, pronounced a blessing
on them all. Then he fell back again upon his pillows.

So that night went slowly by. The dogs were still in the room, whining
from time to time, as Mr. Chiffinch told me afterwards--(for it was
thought better that I myself, as one so deeply involved in what had
lately passed should not be present)--and one of the little dogs sought
repeatedly to leap upon the bed, but was prevented; and at last was
carried away, crying. Again and again first one Bishop and then another
begged him to receive the sacrament; but he would not: so they prayed by
him instead, which was all they could do.

At about six o'clock, when dawn came, he begged that the curtains of his
bed might be drawn back yet further, and the windows opened, that he
might see daylight again and breathe the fresh air: and this was done.
Then, at the chiming of the hour by the clocks in the room, he
remembered that one of them, which was an eight-day one, should be wound
up, for it was a Friday on which it was always wound. And this too was
done.

At seven o'clock breathlessness came on him again, and he was compelled
to sit up in bed, with his brother's arm about him on one side, and a
physician's upon the other. They blooded him again, to twelve ounces
more, which I suppose took his last remnant of strength from him; for in
spite of their remedies, he sank very rapidly; and about half-past eight
lost all power of speech. He kept his consciousness, however, moving his
eyes and shewing that he understood what was said to him till ten
o'clock; and then he became unconscious altogether.

At a little before noon, without a struggle or agony of any kind, His
Sacred Majesty ceased to breathe.

Of all that followed, there is no need that I should write; for I
remained in England only till after the funeral in Westminster
Abbey--which was very poorly done--eight days later; and I left on the
Sunday morning, for Dover, after being present first, for a remembrance,
at the first mass celebrated publicly in England, with open doors, in
the presence of the Sovereign, since over a hundred and thirty years. I
had audience with King James on the night before, when I went to take my
leave of him; and he renewed to me the offer of the Viscounty, of which
I think Mr. Chiffinch had spoken to him. But I refused it as courteously
as I could, telling him that I was for Rome and the cloister.

All the rest, however, is known by others better than by myself; and the
events that followed. His Majesty shewed himself as he had always
been--courageous, obstinate, well-intentioned and entirely without
understanding. He was profuse in his promises of religious equality; but
slow to observe them. He shewed ruthlessness where he should have shewn
tenderness, and tenderness where he should have shewn ruthlessness. So,
once more, all our labours went for nothing; and William came in; and
the Catholic cause vanished clean out of England until it shall please
God to bring it back again.

So here I sit near sixty years old, a monk of the Order of Saint Benet,
in my cell at St. Paul's-Without-the-Walls. I have been Novice Master
three times; but I shall never be more than that; for governmental
affairs and I have said farewell to one another a long while ago. It was
through my telling of my adventures to my Novices at recreation-time
that the writing of them down came about; for my Lord Abbot heard of
them, and put me under obedience to write them down. He did this when he
heard one of my Novices name me to another as Father Viscount! I have
written them, then, down all in full, leaving nothing out except the
French affairs on which I was put under oath by His Majesty never to
reveal anything: I have left out not even the tale of my Cousin Dolly;
for I hold that in such a love as was ours there is nothing that a monk
need be ashamed of. I will venture even further than that, and will say
that I am a better monk than I should have been without it; and as one
last piece of rashness I will say that amongst "those good things which
God hath prepared for them that love Him" in that world which is beyond
this (if I ever come at it by His Grace), will be, I think, the look on
my Cousin Dolly's face when I see her again.

Of other personages whose acquaintance I made in England--excepting
always His Majesty, and my master, Charles the Second--I neither speak
nor think very much now. My Cousin Tom died of an apoplexy three years
after I left England, and God knows who hath Hare Street House to-day!
His Majesty James the Second, as all the world knows, made a most
excellent end of it in France, dying as he had never lived till after
his coming to France, a very humble and Christian soul. In regard to Mr.
Chiffinch, I think of him sometimes and wonder what kind of an end he
made. He was very reprobate while I knew him; yet he had the gift of
fidelity, and that, I think, must count for something before God who
gave it him. Of the ladies of the Court I know nothing at all, nor how
they fared nor how they ended, nor even if they are all dead yet--I mean
such ladies as was Her Grace of Portsmouth.

But all of them I commend to God every day in my mass living or dead;
and trust that all may have found the mercy of God, or may yet find it.
But most of all I remember at the altar the names of two persons, than
between whom there could be no greater difference in this world--the
names of Dorothy Mary Jermyn, the least of all sinners; and of Charles
Stuart, King of England, the greatest of all sinners, yet a penitent
one. For these are the two whom I have loved as I can never love any
others.





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