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´╗┐Title: Andrew Golding - A Tale of the Great Plague
Author: Keeling, Annie E.
Language: English
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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 "Andrew Golding - A Tale of the Great Plague" ***

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[Illustration: A noisy rabblement of people came running up]



ANDREW GOLDING: A Tale of the Great Plague.

By

ANNIE E. KEELING



CONTENTS.


CHAP.

INTRODUCTION.--HOW I, LUCIA DACRE, CAME TO WRITE THIS HISTORY

I. HOW WE WERE VISITED BY TWO OF OUR KINSFOLK, OUR FATHER BEING DEAD;
AND HOW THEY BEHAVED THEMSELVES TOWARD US

II. HOW WE JOURNEYED UP TO YORKSHIRE; AND HOW WE WERE WELCOMED THERE

III. HOW MR. TRUELOCKE PREACHED HIS LAST SERMON IN WEST FAZEBY

IV. HOW HARRY TRUELOCKE LEFT US FOR THE SEA

V. HOW ANDREW MADE ONE ENEMY, AND WAS LIKE TO HAVE ANOTHER

VI. HOW MR. TRUELOCKE AND MRS. GOLDING LEFT US

VII. HOW ANDREW CAME TO THE GRANGE BY NIGHT

VIII. HOW A STRANGE MESSENGER BROUGHT US NEWS OF ANDREW

IX. HOW WE WENT UP TO LONDON, AND FOUND NO FRIENDS THERE

X. HOW WE DWELT IN A HOUSE THAI' WAS NOT OUR OWN

XI. HOW THERE CAME NEW GUESTS INTO THE HOUSE

XII. HOW WE SAILED FOR FRANCE IN THE 'MARIE-ROYALE'

CONCLUSION.--HOW LUCIA DWELLS IN ENGLAND, AND ALTHEA OTHERWHERE



INTRODUCTION.


HOW I, LUCIA DACRE, CAME TO WRITE THIS HISTORY, AT THE TIME THAT I WITH
MY SISTER WAS LODGED IN A DESERTED HOUSE IN LONDON, WHEN THE GREAT
PLAGUE WAS AT ITS HEIGHT; WHICH WAS IN THE MONTHS OF JULY AND AUGUST,
ANNO SIXTEEN HUNDRED AND SIXTY-FIVE.

Now that my sister and myself are in such a strange melancholy case, and
I enforced to spend many hours daily in idleness, I find the time hang
very heavy; for I cannot, like Althea, entertain any longer the hopes
that brought us hither. She continues daily to make great exertions in
pursuing them, but does not often admit my help; and, being afraid that
I may fall into mere desperation, I have bethought me how to amuse some
hours daily by setting down the manner of our present troubles and the
beginnings that led to them. May I live to write of their happy end! but
my fears are very great, and almost forbid me to pray thus.

Having thus resolved how to beguile the heavy time, I began spying about
for paper and pens and ink; and finding in a kind of lumber room a great
many sheets of coarse paper, I stitched them together; then with much
trembling I peeped into the study of the late poor master of the house,
and there found a bundle of quills and some ink; and, leaving money in
his desk to the full value of the things I took, I carried my
writing-tools into the great front parlour, and set myself to the work.

Now while I sat considering how to begin, Althea comes softly behind me,
and, looking over my shoulder, asks me what I would be at; and when I
told her, 'What, child,' says she, 'art going to turn historian? Thy
spirits are more settled than mine, if thou canst sit quietly down to
such work, with sights like these daily before thine eyes,' pointing
with her hand to the window. Now I had pulled the table into a corner
well out of sight from the street, wishing not to be discerned; for as
yet but one knows of our being hidden in this house, and we would fain
keep it a secret still. But rising and following with my eyes her
pointing hand, I could behold a sight common enough, but too dismal to
be looked on without fresh apprehension each time: in the middle of the
street, which is quite grown with grass, a horse and cart standing, no
driver in sight near it, and the cart as we too well knew being that
which goes round daily to take away such as die of the Plague, though as
it then stood we could not discern if any dead person lay in it.

'It is waiting for our neighbour next door,' says Althea. 'As I stood by
an open casement up-stairs I plainly heard the family bemoaning
themselves because the master is dead; I heard also how they are
devising to get away unobserved in the early morning, and escape to some
place of safety in the country. How sayest thou, Lucy? were it not well
for thee to go also in their company?'

'Never I, while you stay here,' I answered.

'It repents me often,' she said, 'that I discovered to you my design of
coming up hither. I would you were safe at home again.'

'I have no home, but where you are,' said I.

'Poor faithful little heart!' she says, sighing. 'Well, get on with thy
history-writing; I must go forth presently, when all is quiet again;
and when I return thou shalt show me what thou hast written. Tell the
tale orderly, Lucy; begin at the beginning with "Once upon a time there
lived two sisters; the elder was a fool, but the younger one loved
her"'--and before I could say a word she had slipt away.

I sat awhile, too much disquieted to write, listening against my will
for the heavy sounds that told how the dead man next door was being
carried forth and laid in the cart; but the thing lumbered away at last,
its cracked bell tinkling dolefully; and I found courage to take to my
work.

But to begin at the beginning is not so easy, especially for one so
unskilful with her pen as I. And who shall say what are the beginnings
of the things that befall us? Perhaps they lie far off, long before our
little life itself began.



CHAPTER I.


HOW WE WERE VISITED BY TWO OF OUR KINSFOLK, OUR FATHER BEING DEAD; AND
HOW THEY BEHAVED THEMSELVES TOWARD US.

Think, however, that the troubles that now lie upon us might not have
been ours had not our father died when he did, which was the cause of
our being taken into the house of our mother's sister, Mrs. Margaret
Golding;--a happy thing we then thought it, that she would receive us,
for we were in great straits;--so I will begin my history at that sad
period.

Our father, William Dacre, was indeed a gentleman, born to a competent
estate, and married into an honest stock and to some fortune, but his
fair prospects were all blighted and our mother's money well-nigh wasted
before he died. To his great loss, he stood steadily for the king
against the Parliament all through the late Rebellion, as he would ever
call it; and, our mother's people being very stiff on the other side,
and she dying while we were little children, we were sundered from them
while our father lived. He took such care of us as he could, striving to
breed us up like gentlewomen; sometimes we lived with him in London
lodgings, sometimes were left at his manor-house of Milthorpe; but the
last two years of his life were very uneasy to him and to us.

For when the young king, Charles the Second, was brought in again, five
years agone, our father was drawn up to Court by some I will not name,
who tempted him with hopes of preferments and rewards to recompense his
loyalty. He wasted his means much through the ill counsel of these false
friends, but obtained no fruit of their promises, and at last he died
suddenly; whether broken-hearted or not I leave to the judgment of God,
and to the consciences of the men who for their own ends had betrayed
him into those vain expectations. At that time Althea was barely
nineteen, and I a little past sixteen; we had no brother nor other
sister.

We were then at Milthorpe; and thither our father was brought to be
buried. That was a black time for us. Though lately we had been kept
apart from our father, we loved him dearly, and we knew of no other
friend and protector. And when the funeral was over we could not tell
which way to turn; for we found our father's land must needs pass to the
next male heir, Mr. John Dacre, our distant cousin. He, I know not how,
had contrived to thrive where our father had decayed, and had gotten a
good share of favour at the new Court.

My memory offers things past to me as if in separate pictures, this and
that accident that befell us showing much more clear and bright than
things quite as important which lie between. I remember but dimly all
the sad time of our father's death and burial, the grief I myself felt,
and all the bustle and stir about us, making those days cloudy to me;
but all the more plainly I remember a certain day that followed the
funeral, when Althea and I were sitting together in a little parlour
where we had been wont to sew,--I weeping on her neck, and she trying to
turn my thoughts from my grief with planning how we two should
live,--when, the door opening, some one came briskly in who called us by
our names.

'What, Althea! what, Lucy! All in the dumps, and not a word to say to
your mother's own sister?' and, in great surprise, we looked up on our
aunt, whom we had seen but once since our mother died, when we were
quite little. She was looking kindly on us; her eyes were quick, black,
and sparkling, but had something very tender in them at that moment. I
noticed directly how plain she was as to her clothes, wearing a common
country-made riding-suit, all of black, and how her shape was a little
too plump for her low stature, while her comely face was tanned quite
brown with the sun; but methought the kind look she bent on us was even
sweeter because of her homely aspect. So I got up and ran to her,
holding out both my hands; but she took me into her arms, and kissed me
lovingly, saying,--

'Poor lamb! poor fatherless, motherless lamb! thou shalt feel no lack of
a mother while I live.'

Then, holding me in one arm, she stretched out the other hand to Althea,
who had come up more slowly, and she said,--

'And you too, my fair lady-niece; I have room in my heart for the two of
you, if you will come in;' on which the water stood in Althea's eyes,
and she took our aunt's hand and kissed it, saying,--

'God reward you, madam, for your goodness to us desolate orphans! I
receive it most thankfully.'

'That's well,' quoth our aunt cordially. And she proceeded to tell us
how, when she got the news of our father's death, she made haste to come
down to Milthorpe. 'Not that I hoped,' said she, 'to be here in time for
the burying; but it was borne in on my mind there should be a friend of
our side of the house to stand by you. Is Mr. Dacre here?'

'He came down to the funeral,' said Althea, 'and hath spoken to us on
some small business matters; but he has been constantly out of the
house, riding about the estate, and so we have seen little of him.'

As she said this the door opened again, and our cousin, the new master
of Milthorpe, entered. I had scarce noted his looks, being drowned in my
grief at the time when, as Althea said, he had talked with us on
business, accounting to us for some moneys, the poor wreck of our
fortunes, which had been lodged in his hands; but I now thought what a
grand gentleman he looked in his rich mourning suit; and indeed he was
of a very graceful appearance, and smiled on us most courtly. He held
his plumed hat in his hand, and, bowing low to our aunt,--

'I am much honoured,' said he, 'that Mrs. Golding should grace my poor
house with her presence before I have had time to sue for it. Will it
please you, ladies, to step into the dining-parlour and sit down with me
to a homely refection I have ordered to be spread there? I must return
to-day to town; so if Mrs. Golding will bestow half an hour of her time
on me to talk over some needful matters, I shall take it as a favour.'

Mrs. Golding bent her head to him, saying, 'At your pleasure, sir;' and
we followed to the dining-room, where we found what I should have called
a plentiful dinner, but Mr. Dacre kept excusing its meanness at every
dish he offered us. This was very grating to Althea, seeming a
reflection both on our ways at Milthorpe and on our poor old faithful
servants; and Mrs. Golding liked it no better. I saw her turning very
red; and at last she said bluntly,--

'The dinner is all very well, and I think Margery cook needs not so many
excuses; so will you please leave speaking of meats and drinks, and turn
to the needful matters you spoke of instead?'

'I might have chosen,' says Mr. Dacre, 'to talk to you in private first
about those things; but perhaps it's as well my fair cousins should hear
at once what I have to say. I am a married man, as you know, Mrs.
Golding; and my wife loves the town, and cannot endure to hear of a
country life. I have no hope she will ever live at the Manor here. But I
will not let it; and I shall want it kept in good order against my
coming down, which will be frequent. So if my cousin, Mistress Althea,
likes to remain here as housekeeper, she will be very welcome.'

'And what do you think of paying her for her services?' said our aunt.

Mr. Dacre lifted his eyebrows, and looked at her as if much surprised.
'She would have meat and lodging free,' said he, 'and servants to do her
bidding. Also, if she can make anything by keeping of a dairy, or of
fowls, or selling of fruit from the gardens, or such like devices of
country dames, I shall ask no account of her gains; and if her
management pleases me, I shall find a broad piece for her from time to
time, I doubt not; so she may do very well.'

'And is her sister, Mistress Lucia, to dwell in your house and receive
your bounty also?' said Mrs. Golding.

'That made no part of my plans,' said he, smiling and bowing. 'I shall
hardly need two housekeepers here.'

'Then it may chance you must look otherwhere for your one housekeeper,'
said Mrs. Golding. 'What sayest, Althea? Wilt be parted from thy sister
that thou mayest have the honour of keeping house for so liberal a
kinsman and master? or wilt go with Lucy and me to my farm, at West
Fazeby, where you two shall be to me as daughters? for I am a childless
widow, and will gladly cherish you young things. The choice lies before
you, Althea.'

Althea was now red as any rose; and the tears' that had been in her eyes
seemed turned to sparks of fire. She rose from the table and made a deep
curtsey to Mr. Dacre.

'I am exceeding grateful for your preference of me,' she said; 'but
seeing I am only a young maid, and inexpert in the management of a
house, I must beg to refuse your princely offer'--she spoke with
infinite scorn--'and betake myself instead to the home Mrs. Golding will
give me, where I may improve myself, and become fitter in time, both in
years and skill, for some such post as you would now prefer me to.' She
stopped and panted, being quite out of breath.

Mr. Dacre did but lift his eyebrows again and say, 'As you will,
madam,' and then begged she would sit down and finish eating; but she
remained standing, and looked pitifully at Mrs. Golding; on which our
aunt rose also, and I doing the same,--

'You go to town to-day, I think you said?' questioned Mrs. Golding; 'we
will therefore take our leave of you now, not to importune you further.
My nieces and I will endeavour to be gone from here to-morrow, so please
you to endure their presence in their father's house until then; for you
must think it will ask a few hours for them to remove their apparel and
other goods.'

'Assuredly, madam; they have full liberty,' said Mr. Dacre, rising and
bowing, and, for a wonder, looking a little abashed.

'And I think it were well we lost no time,' continued our aunt.

So we took our leave of him gladly enough, and I think he was full as
glad to have us go; and we went back to the little parlour.

'I guessed what sort of kindness John Dacre would show you,' said our
aunt, looking at us with a smile. 'Your father, my sweet maidens, of
whom you have a heavy loss indeed, was of a much nobler nature than
this his kinsman; and it's doubtless for that reason that one of them
has thriven in the bad air where the other could not thrive, but
perished;' and then came tears into her lively black eyes, and she was
fain to sit down and weep awhile, in which we bore her company.

Then Althea wiped her eyes, and said, with a trembling voice,--

'I cannot think, however, why our cousin should make so strange a
proffer to me--one so unfitting for a well-taught maiden to accept.'

'He made it that you might refuse it, child,' said our aunt. 'Now he can
truly say he was willing to do somewhat for you, and that you would none
of it, but thought scorn of his goodwill. It hath ever been his way to
get much credit for little goodness. Well, Lucy, child, what art
thinking of?'

'I was thinking,' stammered I, surprised with her question,--'I was
thinking that the day is not so far spent but we could get away from
Milthorpe before night. I wish not to sleep under Mr. Dacre's roof
again.'

'That might be managed,' said Mrs. Golding; 'I left my horses and my men
at the little inn in your village, where I had some thought of sleeping
myself. And yet it's but a little inn; nor should I care to turn Andrew
out of his lodging even to please thee, pretty Lucy. No, child; put thy
hand to some work and thy pride in thy pocket, and submit even to spend
one night in the house of an unkind kinsman. He will not be in it, thou
knowest; see where he rides out of the gate.'

So I looked and saw Mr. Dacre riding off, a very grand gentleman on his
tall black horse, with his men, also well mounted, following him.

'He will be in town before nightfall,' quoth Mrs. Golding.

It did not seem so insupportable to stay one more night in our old home,
now its new master had left it; but I was in haste to be gone for all
that, and Althea too; so we fell to work with great eagerness, gathering
all our own possessions together and packing them for removal; while
Mrs. Golding helped us with her hands and her counsel; and so well we
worked that the sun had not gone down before we had all in readiness for
our departure in the early morning; for it was the height of summer, and
the days therefore long. Then Mrs. Golding would have us take her into
the garden and show us what used to be our mother's favourite walks and
alcoves; there was a good prospect of the house from one of them, and
she stood some time regarding it.

'It's a stately place,' said she,--'a very noble house indeed, and a
fair garden too. Your mother had a pride in it once, I know; and there
was a time when it would have grieved her sore to think how her children
should leave it. But what signifies that to her now?--a happy, glorified
spirit, who may scorn the transitory riches and joys of this poor world,
which are far outvalued by one ray shining on us from the Father of
Lights. At His right hand are pleasures for evermore.'

Althea and I looked on each other surprised, for we had then heard
little of that kind of talk; and, our aunt espying it,--

'Ah, children,' she said, 'I have learnt a new language since I saw you,
and I see you know it not; but your mother could speak it before I
could. I think thou art most like her, Lucy; there is more of your poor
father about Althea.'

I looked at Althea and thought Mrs. Golding was not much mistaken; for
if I were to write my sister's description, it would need but the change
of a word or two to make it pass for a portrait of my father. Like him,
she is tall and slender and well-shaped; her complexion pale and clear,
her hair almost black, very thick, softer than the finest silk, and
curling in loose rings at the ends; her brows and eyelashes black also,
but her eyes a blue-grey, appearing black when she is much moved or in
deep thought; and she moves with admirable grace, showing a kind of
nobleness in all her carriage. Myself am of low stature, and of shape
nothing like so slender; indeed one hath told me I am dark and round as
a blackheart cherry; so I could well think that at Mrs. Golding's years
I should be very like her, though perhaps less comely.

Mrs. Golding was still comparing us with each other and speaking of our
parents, when I was aware of a tall man coming up to the garden gate;
and my aunt, turning as she heard the latch clink, cried,--

'Ah, here is Andrew! he will have come to have my orders for the night;
I think we may welcome him in, nieces.' So she stepped to him, and
taking him by the hand led him to us. 'This,' quoth she, 'is my
husband's nephew and mine, but he is something more--he is my steward
and my heir. I hold him for my son; I were but a lost woman without him.
He would not hear of my coming to Milthorpe with no company but that of
my serving-men, but must needs be my conductor himself; so precious a
jewel as I was sure to be lost in the hedges otherwise;' and she laughed
cordially. 'And, Andrew, these are two poor fatherless girls, Althea and
Lucia Dacre by name; fatherless, I say, but not motherless, for I am
their mother from this day forth, and so they are your sisters; see you
use them kindly.'

Andrew coloured up to his hair, and bowed to us, with some confused
words about the honour of being as a brother to such gentle ladies; then
he turned to her and they talked of our morrow's journey, and how our
mails should be conveyed; and Mrs. Golding, telling him she would sleep
at the Manor, bade him be early at the gate with horses for us; 'for we
have many a mile to go,' she said to us; 'and make what speed we may, we
shall be a day or two on the road.'

And Althea spoke very prettily to Mr. Golding, praying him to sup with
us; but he excused himself, still in a confused and disturbed way, and
went away.

While he stood and talked I was able to take note of his aspect, and I
thought he looked a very homely youth indeed, after Mr. Dacre, though he
was taller and of a better shape, and I believe a better face too;
though burnt with the sun, and ruddy like a country-man, he had
well-cut features and a full mild eye, with a right pleasant smile. But
his garb was so ordinary, being of some dark cloth, and cut very
plainly, and his hat with no feather in it, that though I had little
cause to love Mr. Dacre, yet I wished our new friend was more like him
outwardly, and thought I should then have been prouder to ride in his
company. And Mrs. Golding praising him to us, and saying how good he
was, and wise beyond his years, I thought it was pity such good people
as he and she did not go handsomer; so little I knew of what belonged to
goodness.



CHAPTER II.


HOW WE JOURNEYED UP TO YORKSHIRE; AND HOW WE WERE WELCOMED THERE.

Though I remember so plainly what passed on our last day in Milthorpe
Manor-house, I am not very clear about our journey up to Yorkshire,
which was tedious enough. We kept to the king's highway, and yet were
sometimes put in much fear of thieves, but happily we fell in with none;
the only notable thing that befell us was in leaving a little market
town, I cannot call to mind its name, where we had stopped to dine. We
had ridden but a little way forth of the town when we heard a great din
of shouting and hooting behind us, which made us women afraid; and
presently a noisy rabblement of people came running up. They were
chiefly of the baser sort, both men and women, some very ragged, and
some red-faced and half tipsy; one or two gentlemen in laced coats rode
among them. I thought at first they had some spite at us, but it proved
not so. We drew to the wayside to let them pass, and they went by, very
disorderly, yelling and swearing, the women not less than the men,
pushing and hauling some poor creature dragged along in their midst. I
looked earnestly to see who it might be, and presently discerned the
person--a tall thin man, in a kind of loose garment girded about him,
and I think it was made of some hempen stuff, a kind of sacking. This
man was very pale, with longish dark hair hanging about his face, which,
as I say, was pale indeed, but not dismayed; I think he even smiled when
one struck him on the head, and another, pushing him, bade him, with a
curse, go faster. I saw the blood trickling a little from the blow that
had alighted on his head, as they hurried him past.

Andrew, who saw all this as well as I did, looked full of horror. He
caught one of the hindmost of the rabble by the sleeve and asked him
harshly, 'What has this man done, and whither are you taking him?' At
which the man, turning towards us his red, jovial face, replies,--

'It's a mad Quaker, that took upon him this noon to stand up in our
market-place, it being market day and every one mighty busy, and he
tells us all to our face we were a set of cheating rogues, that he had
marked our doings and seen how bad they were, and that he had a
commission from God to bid us repent and amend, or a sudden dreadful
judgment should fall on us. Didst ever hear of such a fool?'

'And what more did he,' says Andrew, 'to make you handle him so
roughly?' at which the man stared and said,--

'Nay, what more needed there? Matters are come to a pretty pass if free
Englishmen, who are pleased to cheat and be cheated according to the
fashion of this world, mayn't do so neighbourly and kindly without some
canting rogue starting up to control them. We bade him hold his peace
for a mad ass, but he would not. So we judged his frenzy to be something
too hot, and that a cold bath were good to cure it; and Squire, riding
up and seeing the bustle we were in, offered us his own duck-pond for
the ducking of our preacher. Stay me no longer! I shall lose the best
sport;' and Andrew snatching at him again to make him stay, he broke
from him and ran as hard as he could after the crowd, that was now got
some way from us.

'You hear and see this, Mrs. Golding?' says Andrew, turning to her, his
mild countenance grown dark with anger. 'There may be murder done yet,
let me ride after and see what I can do to hinder it;' and setting spurs
to his horse he galloped off after the rabble. We saw him pressing in
among them, riding close up to the chief horseman, talking earnestly to
him; then we saw no more of them, they going round the turn of the road;
and Mrs. Golding, half frowning, half smiling, says,--

'It's ever so with Andrew! he cannot see mischief a-foot but he is all
afire to stop it. I like it in the lad, but I wish yon poor fanatic had
been content to stay at home and mind his own business, instead of
crossing us so unluckily here.' She looked anxiously.

Presently Andrew comes back to us, riding pretty quickly, and Mrs.
Golding called to him,--

'Now, my lad, hast not gone on a fool's errand this time also?' but he
said smiling,--

'That is as you take it, good mother. Yon Squire has some humanity in
him, and some wit; for when I began vehemently to urge how sinful were
the murdering of yon poor man, he smiled and let me know his proffer of
the duck-pond was but to get the man out of the hands of his
ill-wishers, for he meant to draw the Quaker within his gates and then
have them shut as if by mistake on the rabble, who were already growing
aweary with the length of the way, and so were dropping off by twos and
threes.'

'So thou hast had thy labour for thy pains?' says Mrs. Golding, smiling
as one well pleased.

'Not altogether,' said Andrew, 'for the Squire wills us to turn into the
byway here, and keep from the high road awhile, lest we meet the baser
rascals coming back, in all their fury and disappointment.'

'Good counsel,' said Mrs. Golding; 'we will take it.' And so we kept to
that byway for a mile or so; and it was rough uneasy riding, though a
pretty green lane enough.

Althea said to me half aside, 'We had had none of these discomforts, if
we had ridden as we were wont with our father, in a good coach like
gentlewomen, and not a-horseback in the country fashion;' the first
discontented word she had said, and Mrs. Golding hearing it,--

'Child,' said she, 'I cannot away with these coaches, they are proud
lazy inventions, and nothing like so wholesome as this our old country
fashion of travelling;' at which Althea blushed and said nothing more,
and Mrs. Golding began pleasantly to chide Andrew for his hazarding of
our safety as he had done, which had put Althea into these discontents;
and he hung his head, smiling, and had not a word to say for himself. I
should scarce have remembered this accident, or Andrew's behaviour on
it, had it not been for things that befell after.

I was heartily weary of journeying by the time we got to West Fazeby;
the way was long, the manner of travelling new to me, I had not so much
as slept at an inn before, our former home being no great distance from
town; and my company was not such as to shorten the way, for Aunt
Golding was the only frank and cheerful-spoken person in our party,
Althea behaving, as I told her, like an enchanted princess in a fairy
tale, so melancholy, proud, and silent, and Andrew being so dashed with
her stately ways that the poor youth was not less tongue-tied than she.
So I was glad indeed when we rode out of York one fine morning, and Mrs.
Golding told us we must reach her house before the day was out; in which
she said no more than truth.

She having always talked of it as a poor farmhouse, our surprise was not
little when we saw it at last. It stands a little away from the
village; it is no great house, but is a right fair one to my thinking,
built of red brick, with a great deal of wood, handsomely carved, about
the gables and the porch; it is much grown with ivy, at which our aunt
would often rail, but I think for all that she loved it, seeing it makes
the house green and pleasant even in winter. And at the back, looking
into the gardens and orchards, was a pleasant porch, a very large one,
grown with roses as well as ivy, wherein Althea and I have spent many a
happy hour in summer-time, sitting there with our needlework or our
lutes. I can see it in fancy, and would very fain be in it, looking on
our lily beds and green walks and arbours, instead of these hot and
dreary streets. But it's too likely I shall never see West Fazeby or any
other pleasant place on earth again.

A good comely man and woman, plainly habited like serving folks, came
forth to greet Mrs. Golding, and she commended us to them much as she
had done to Andrew, saying to us, 'These are Matthew Standfast and his
wife Grace; good, kind souls, who look well to my house when I cannot do
it. And how doth little Patience?' she went on to ask Dame Standfast;
'and have you seen aught of Mr. Truelocke while I have been gone?' and
so chatting she led us into the hall, where we found a table ready
covered, and the little Patience Standfast ready to attend us at it, a
pretty child, fair-haired and blue-eyed, very civil and modest. We were
not long in finding that she and her parents, with a serving-man or two,
made all my aunt's household; and that she did very much work with her
own hands, and would expect the like of us; a thing which displeased
Althea not a little, but she said nothing of it, only to me, when we
were got to our own chamber.

'And it is an odd thing,' she continued, when I did not reply, 'that
Mrs. Golding should sit and should take her meals in the open hall, when
there are one or two fair parlours more fitting for her occupation.'

'But the hall is a pleasant place,' I said; and indeed it was so to me,
I hardly know why, being a very plain apartment, with a checkered
pavement of blue and white stones, and furnished only with bright oaken
tables and settles, and a great chair or two; also the great fireplace
was well garnished with green boughs and flowers, it being summer. I
looked all about it that evening as we sat in it chatting with our aunt,
and was thinking I should always like it, plain as it was, when I was
aware of two persons coming into the porch, one walking feebly like an
old man, and one stepping firmly and strongly; and Mrs. Golding,
springing up, ran forward to greet them, saying,--

'Welcome! welcome, good Mr. Truelocke! this is a greater kindness than I
had hoped for;' so she drew into the light of our candles a reverend old
gentleman, clad in a black gown; he had white hair hanging about his
face, and in his hand a stout staff on which he leaned as he walked.
There came at his side a young, strongly-framed man, in a seaman's
habit, who, I thought, looked something like him, having the same strong
features, but a clear, merry blue eye and brown curling hair; he was
very watchful over the old gentleman, who seemed to move feebly. Our
aunt greeted him kindly by the name of 'Master Harry,' and said, 'It's
good of you to bring your father up so soon to welcome me,' whereon the
young man smiled and said,--

'Nay, it is he that hath brought me; there was no holding him when he
had heard of your return. I would gladly have kept him within doors,
fearing the night damps for him;' and our aunt laughed also, and said to
us,--

'Come, Althea, come, Lucy, and speak to my best friend, who was a good
friend to your mother also; it is the parson of this parish, Mr.
Truelocke, and this his son Harry, newly come home from the seas;' so
we came up and greeted the old gentleman reverently, and his son as
kindly as we might; and Mrs. Golding put Mr. Truelocke into a great
armed chair, and sat looking at him with vast contentment. He looked at
her and smiled a wonderfully sweet smile.

'Had you brought these young maids home a month or two later, Mrs.
Golding,' says he, 'you could not truly tell them I was the parson of
this parish or of any other. But we'll let that pass;' and turning to us
he began to speak to us kindly and fatherly, pitying our afflictions,
and bidding us praise and thank God, who had raised up so good a friend
to help us. I was glad to hear his words, though they brought the tears
into mine eyes; but our aunt sat impatiently, and presently broke in on
his discourse, saying,--

'What mean you, sir, by telling me in a month or two you will be no
parson of this parish? is there anything new?'

'Nothing, but the falling of a full-ripe fruit, that began to blossom
two years agone,' says the old gentleman cheerfully; 'it hath been long
a-ripening, 'twas time it should fall.'

'Give me none of your parables, good friend; I want plain speech,'
cries our aunt; and Master Harry said bluntly,--

'Madam, it's all along of the new Act for Uniformity which was printed
and set forth this last May. You were too full at that time of your
apprehensions for these young ladies to be curious to read that
mischievous Act; but, since it touches my father nearly, he mastered its
meaning with great pains, and has thought of little else for many days;
and the upshot of all this is, that next Bartholomew-tide he will go
forth, like Abraham of old, to wander he knows not whither;' at which
words Mrs. Golding sighed deeply, and sat as one amazed.

'It is even so, my kind friend,' said Mr. Truelocke, smiling.

'Well, I can't tell what you may think here of the matter,' went on
Master Harry; 'but in my conscience, I think my father's conscience
something too tender.'

'You speak like a man of this world, Harry,' says Andrew, who had come
in, and was looking at the young man with frowning brows and angry eyes.

'How else would you have me speak?' says Harry. 'I am but a plain
sailor, and I pretend not to know any world but this work-a-day world
that I have to get my bread in. I leave the new worlds in the moon, or
beyond it, to poets and madmen; and I'll tell you my mind of the matter,
if you will hear me.

He stopped, and Mrs. Golding said, 'Speak your mind, Master Harry, it's
ever an honest mind, and full of goodwill.'

'I will venture then,' said he, 'and do you bear with me, Andrew, and
father too. I take it the Church of this country is a good ship that has
to sail whither her owners will. A while since they were all for
steering her straight to the Presbyterian port; now that voyage likes
them not, and they would have her make for Prelacy. It's pity that the
good ship has owners of such inconstant minds; but why should not the
crew obey orders, and sail the ship as they are bid?'

'Wrong, all wrong, all wrong, Harry, my boy,' said the old man, with a
groan; 'thou hast no spiritual sense of these things. How dare Christ's
liegemen take their orders from the carnal rulers of this or any other
country? Have I not seen the government of England change like the moon,
ay, and more strangely? and shall I follow the changing moon as doth the
faithless sea, ebbing and flowing in my zeal for truth like the tide?
Nay verily! what was God's truth in Oliver's days is the truth of God
still; and I will cleave to it.'

As I gazed at the old man's face, pale and wrinkled and awful, I thought
that so might have looked the prophet Moses when he brake the tables of
the Law. Mr. Truelocke's deepset dark eyes flashed fire under his long
white eyebrows, which themselves seemed to stir and to rise and fall, as
he spoke with great passion, and he struck his staff against the floor.

Althea was looking from one to another, something puzzled; presently her
silver voice broke the silence that had fallen upon us; she said, 'All
that you say is so dark to me, it makes me feel like a fool for my lack
of comprehension; will you, madam, tell me in a few words what it is
that troubles you and Mr. Truelocke?'

'It's our new masters, dear heart, who have been making of new laws,'
said Mrs. Golding; and Andrew added instantly,--

'Our pastors, madam, must consent to renounce the Covenant, and must use
the Common Prayer-Book as newly set forth by authority of King Charles
the Second and his Parliament; or they must leave to preach and to pray
in the churches called of England, and must renounce their livings too;
and this by the twenty-fourth of August next, which the Papists and
such-like cattle call St. Bartholomew's Day. That is the story in little
of the doings which afflict our good mother and our reverend friend.'

'It's a dry short setting forth of the matter, friend Andrew,' said the
old man.

'But is it a true one?' asked Althea.

'Yea,' said he, 'too true, this is the new law; but I shall, as I think,
follow after the footsteps of godly Mr. Baxter; he hath already ceased
preaching, that his weaker brethren, such as I, may be in no manner of
doubt as to what he thinketh. I shall not change my mind twice, once
having seen the great error of my early prelatical opinions,--as your
good aunt knoweth I have seen it.'

'Well,' said Mrs. Golding, sighing heavily, 'we will pray you may have
illumination from above. I cannot tell how we shall do, bereft of our
father in Christ. But I dare not urge any man against his conscience.
And now am I ashamed that you have been so long within my doors and I
have yet set nothing before you. Lucy, Althea, come help me;' and she
bustled about, and presently with our help had set a dish of
strawberries and cream, with nuts and cakes and wine, before our guests.
Mr. Truelocke ate but little, which grieved my aunt; and he would drink
nothing but spring water. But Harry was gay enough for two. We could get
him to touch nothing until he had both of us girls served, he saying we
were greater strangers than he. And since I chose to eat nuts, he would
do the same, and would crack all mine for me. He had a clever way of
doing this with his hands only, which were small, but like iron for
strength; I made a cup of my hands that he might pour the sweet kernels
into it, and so doing we scattered some on the floor, and both dropt on
our knees to pick them up, when I, being nimbler than he, had them all
snatched up before he could touch one; then we both laughed heartily. I
was startled to hear myself laughing, and looked at Althea; and she
seemed to be regarding me with scorn as if she despised me perfectly, so
I checked my laughing and sat down quite crestfallen.

Then Harry, sitting by me, half whispered, 'Now, sweet madam, if you did
but know what music a heart-free laugh is to mine ears, you would not
stop yours in the middle. I have no quarrel with my father's nor your
aunt's piety, but there's too little laughing in it.'

'It's not piety that checks me now,' I said; 'do not credit me with
more than I have; but a new-made orphan like me might well feel it
something heartless to be very mirthful.'

'That's it, is it?' said he, looking comically from me to Althea, and
then at me again. 'Now tell me, sweet lady, if you know any good reason
why mirth should be a thing forbid to those who have had a cruel loss?
If in the middle of a winter voyage, when the stormy winds do blow, we
mariners should have one fair sunshine day, we don't spend it in
bemoaning the black days that went before and the black days that will
come after.'

'And what has that to do with me and my griefs?' asked I.

'Only this,' said he, 'that you should not be less wise than a sailor
lad; think no shame to be glad when your heart bids you, whatever
sorrows lie before or behind you. And I'll keep you in countenance,
whenever I see your fair mournful sister reproving your gaiety with her
eyes; but you must do the same by me with my father and your aunt. Is it
a bargain? strike hands on it!'

He held out his hand, and I put mine into it--I could not help it;
though I stole a look at Althea, but her attention was drawn away by
Andrew, who was half timidly urging her to eat some more of Mrs.
Golding's dainties; she would not, however; and presently Mr. Truelocke,
who had been talking apart with Mrs. Golding, got up and would be going;
so when he and Harry were withdrawn, we all went shortly to our beds,
being very weary; and for my part I felt that I was in a new world I
could not half understand; but there seemed some pleasant things in it.

I liked it better still as the days ran on. Country life at West Fazeby
was more to my mind than ever it had been at Milthorpe. There we were
waited on dutifully by kind old servants, and might not soil our fingers
by any coarse work. Here I was taken into the dairy and the still-room,
and instructed in their mysteries, and in many another useful household
art; I might feed the pigeons and the other pretty feathered folk in the
barnyard, and I got no reproof for my coarse tastes when I was found
learning from Grace Standfast how to milk a cow, and making acquaintance
with young foals and calves. There were prettier works too; gathering
and making conserve of roses, and sharing in the pleasant harvest of the
strawberry beds and the cherry orchard, or tossing of hay in the
meadows. I will not deny that all these things were more pleasant to me
that year than they have ever been since; partly because I was so new
to them, and partly because Harry Truelocke often took part in them
also. My merry and kind playfellow, I wonder if you have yet any heart
for such simple pleasures? or if, in the midst of miseries and perils,
you can still jest and laugh?

Althea went with me and shared in these occupations, except in the
haymaking and the milking; but she did so with a grave and serious air,
seeming to give her whole mind to the work, as if it were a task she had
to learn, whereas I thought it but a delightful pastime that I loved in
spite of its being profitable.

Mrs. Golding took no note, as it seemed, of Althea's sad and steadfast
ways; but Andrew marked them, I could see, though, being daily busy with
out-door matters and cares of our aunt's estate, he was but little in
our company. When he was with us, he surrounded Althea with a careful,
watchful kindness, treating her so reverently as if she were some sacred
thing, and indeed never venturing to say much to her unless she spoke
first; all which she never appeared to notice.

Now it is a strange thing that in this pretty peaceful time the
stormiest day and the fruitfullest of future mischiefs should have been
a certain Lord's Day, only a week or two after our coming. It was from
Mr. Truelocke that I learnt to say 'the Lord's Day,' Sunday, said he,
being a heathenish, idolatrous word, nor would he allow of the fashion
of calling the day of rest 'the Sabbath.' 'We keep not holy,' said he,
'the seventh-day Sabbath of the people of Israel, but the first day made
holy for us by the resurrection of our Lord;' and I saying idly to him,
out of the poet Shakespeare, whom my father loved,--

  'What's in a name? that which we call a rose
  By any other name would smell as sweet,'--

he looked sternly, almost angrily on me, and said, 'Madam, what have
ends of stage-plays, and the idle talk of a lovesick girl about her
lover's name and the names of flowers,--I say, what have these vanities
to do with a glorious divine thing like the Christian's Day of Rest? And
believe me, there is much in names, too much in names. What a spell to
conjure with is the name of King! and the name of Priest may make wild
work in our poor England yet.'

I was dumb when he reproved me thus; and thinking of it after, I began
to have some glimmering why this good man should resolve to give up his
all, rather than use a Prayer-Book he deemed not according to right
doctrine, since he was so earnest about the right name for one holy day.
I found it to be a strong point with him, some of his flock murmuring at
him about it, and saying how could we appeal to the Fourth Commandment
if our holy day might not be called the Sabbath? But he cared not for
their words; no, nor for king, nor for Parliament, compared with what he
deemed right.

I used to wonder if his heart would have been so stout had he had wife
and children to care for; but he had been many years widowed, and Harry,
his only child, had carved his own way in the world, being now part
owner of the ship he sailed himself.

But by whatever name folks called it, the Lord's Day in West Fazeby was
then a sweet, religious, holy day, and I loved it. Alas, to think of the
changes wicked men have made!



CHAPTER III.


HOW MR. TRUELOCKE PREACHED HIS LAST SERMON IN WEST FAZEBY.

On that Lord's Day of which I spoke, the weather was fair and bright
when we went to worship in the church where Mr. Truelocke still
ministered. Week after week more people came to hear him, for the time
was growing short, and he was much loved; so this day the church was
thronged, and we had some ado to get to our own places. As I said, the
day was fair enough when we set forth, a little too hot, indeed; but we
had not been long at our prayers before there came a gloom and a
darkness, making the church full of shadows; and I saw the sky through
the windows of a strange greenish and coppery colour.

We were singing the hymn before the sermon, when I was aware of a tall
man in a whitish garment standing directly below the pulpit, still as a
stone; it seemed to me I had seen him once before. When the singing was
done, and we were all in readiness to hear the sermon, this man suddenly
stood up on the bench, so that even in the dusky light every one could
see his tall white figure, and, looking up to Mr. Truelocke in the
pulpit, he said,--

'May I have liberty to speak a few words to this people?'

'You have liberty,' said Mr. Truelocke; then, folding his arms on the
desk, he leaned forward and looked very intently on the man, who had
turned himself to face the people. They were all rustling and stirring
in their places, very uneasy at the interruption. He stretched out his
arms in the form of a cross, and began to speak in a full and rich
voice, very musical, with strange changes in it; and always the sky grew
darker in the great window behind him while he spoke.

'Friends,' said he, 'I have listened earnestly to your singing; and now
I am constrained to speak to you and tell you the words you sang were
very unsuitable to your state. For the words were those of holy, humble
souls, who are athirst after God; and how many of you be there that
could truly answer Yea, if one should ask whether you are come here
because you hunger and thirst after righteousness? Is it not true that
the best of you only take delight in the preaching of the man who stands
in yon pulpit, because it is to you as a very lovely song of one that
can play on a pleasant instrument? but you hear his words, and do them
not. And there be some of you that only come here to display your gay
apparel, caring not how foul you are within, if you are but fair
without; and some of you appear here weekly, because it is a decent and
seemly thing to be here, and you desire the praise of men, though you
care not for pleasing God. Your religious worships and ways are vain,
for they are made up only of speaking and singing other men's words,
which are not yours, nor do ye mean them truly. You were better to sit
in humble silence before God, waiting till His Spirit, that enlighteneth
every man, should speak in secret to your spirit.

'And I have a word to thee, Emanuel Truelocke,' he continued, suddenly
turning, lifting his long right arm and pointing his long finger towards
Mr. Truelocke, whose pale countenance, framed in his long white hair,
could still be seen looking quietly at him. 'I desire to speak to thee
in love, and show thee the secret of thy ill success in thy ministerings
to this worldly people, who have not the excellent spirit that I gladly
acknowledge in thyself. The canker of gold has been on these
ministerings of thine, for thou hast yearly taken hire for them; and
therefore it is that so many of these people are cold and sickly in
divine things. But the Lord hath had mercy on thee, and will take away
from thee the mammon whereby thou hast been deceived; and for thy sake I
rejoice in thy coming downfall'--

Here there began a mighty hubbub in the place. Men stood up on benches,
shaking their sticks and clenched fists against the speaker; women
cried, 'Shame on him! pull him down! have him away!' and many rushed
upon him, struck him, dragged him down, and would soon have trampled him
under their feet, but Mr. Truelocke spoke with a voice that rang like a
trumpet, and said,--

'Do the man no harm; for shame, my brethren! Did not I tell him he had
liberty to speak? Make me not a liar by your violence!' and then I saw
several men, Andrew and Harry being foremost, raising up the stranger,
for he had been felled to his knees pushing off those who were striking
him, and leading him forth of the church. Then a mighty flash of
lightning glared through the building, and a great peal of thunder
roared and echoed after it, and the rain rushing down like a torrent
drove and beat against the windows. The stranger, who had been got to
the door, now turned round, crying,--

'Hearken, O people, to the voice of the Lord bearing witness against
your madness!' with which words he vanished, friendly hands pulling him
out of sight against his will.

A great silence seemed at once to fall upon the people, while the storm
blazed and thundered on; and in the midst of it Mr. Truelocke began his
discourse.

'My brethren,' said he, 'I did not think to have been so cruelly put to
shame as I have been by you this day. Long have I toiled to make you
follow His righteousness, who, when He was reviled, reviled not again;
long have I trusted that you were indeed partakers of that Spirit whose
fruits are love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness. Alas!
what longsuffering, what peace, what gentleness have you shown to-day?
Ye have well-nigh done a man to death in the very house of God, and
before the eyes of me your pastor. I stand rebuked here, a teacher
whose teaching is proved useless and fruitless. From this day forth I
will preach to you no more, but will lay down, a little before the law
takes it from me, the office I have so ill discharged. Now hearken to me
once more, and once only; and let not my last sermon prove so idle as
those I have preached to you before.'

With this preamble, which struck every one into awe, he began to preach
with an uncommon fervour, as one who was all on fire to have men turn
from their sins, and to close with the offers of God's mercy while yet
it was time; and this earnestness of his, and a certain passionate
tenderness in his looks and tones, something more than ordinary, would
not let us forget the resolve he had expressed. His text was, 'How shall
we escape if we neglect so great salvation?' and having enlarged on it
with such piercing eloquence as I have spoken of, and come to an end of
his discourse, he made a little pause, and then said,--

'Little as I like to mingle any private matters of mine own with the
message I stand here to deliver, I had determined, when I should come
before you for the last time, to say something of the reasons why I
cannot comply with what our rulers require of us. I will not depart
from that determination because a strange cause has moved me to lay down
mine office some few days sooner than law requires.' He stopped a
moment, looking troubled; then he resumed: 'Not my own humour, nor the
pride of a vain consistency, holds me back from compliance. I have
sought in prayer, and in study, and in discourse with my brethren, for
light on this matter; but in my mind is something still unsatisfied that
bids me persevere in my fixed opinion, so long adopted; I can do no
other. Therefore, submitting patiently to leave my church and my flock,
I pray your pardon for any fault I make in this resolution; of God's
pardon I am assured.'

Having said thus, he bowed his fatherly head, praying inwardly, and all
the congregation wept and prayed with him, though many of them
afterwards showed themselves highly displeased with the way he had taken
of rebuking their violence; also great efforts were used to make him
break his resolve of preaching there no more, it wanting more than a
week or two of the appointed day in August when he must needs desist;
but he would not yield to do more than pray publicly; and the pulpit was
for a season supplied by other men.

I am wandering away, however, from that day and its doings, of which I
have not finished the account. While Mr. Truelocke was preaching, the
storm drew off and died away in distant mutterings, so that it was in a
very great stillness that he spoke his last words. However, the rain was
still falling, though without violence, when we came out of the church;
so we waited awhile in the porch till the clouds had rolled away, many
others who did not love a wetting doing the same as we, and there was
much talking.

None of our party said aught, till Mrs. Bonithorne, one of the
wealthiest farmers' wives in the parish, turned herself to Aunt Golding,
saying,--

'Heard you ever anything so strange, neighbour, as yon awful
thunder-clap coming close on the malicious words of the brawling Quaker?
He ought to have quaked and trembled indeed at the voice of Heaven
rebuking his madness.'

'But that he did not, mistress,' said I, something too pertly, I fear;
'for he bade the people hearken to the voice of God bearing witness
against _them_.'

'Did he so?' cried she; 'the more was his impudence to wrest the
heavenly sign in his favour. But what make you then of the passing away
of the storm when Mr. Truelocke began to preach, and of the sweet calm
that had fallen on all things when he ended? was that a witness in
favour of Quaker madness?'

'Nay, I make nothing of it,' said I; and Aunt Golding added,--

'You would not interpret it as a sign of approval granted to Mr.
Truelocke for his hasty resolve never to preach to us again? For my
part, I hope he will be persuaded otherwise.'

'Truly I hope so,' said Dame Bonithorne, her ruddy colour deepening;
'for it's too cruel an affront he puts on us poor people;' and I know
not how much more she might have said, but for Harry Truelocke, who now
came up to the porch, and, beckoning Aunt Golding forth, whispered to
her how Andrew had carried the Quaker to the Grange, and now desired her
presence; at which we all set forth together, the rain having ceased;
and on the road Harry tells us, what sore disquieted Aunt Golding, that
the man had only come to West Fazeby on Andrew's account.

'It seems,' said he, 'you met him on your road hither, when he was in
the hands of some base fellows that had a mind to maul him--do you
remember such a matter?' and Aunt Golding saying how she remembered it
very well, Harry went on to say that the man, having noted Andrew's
willingness to serve him, had ever since 'had a concern on his mind for
the good youth,'--that was his phrase,--and had been led to our village,
and to the very church, being assured he would see Andrew there. 'It's a
strange, mad story,' quoth Harry.

Althea had given earnest heed to this tale, and now she asked, 'And what
says Master Andrew to such wild talk? I suppose he will use the poor
deluded wretch gently and kindly, that's his nature; but sure he will
scorn his ravings?'

'I cannot tell what Andrew may think in his heart,' says Harry moodily;
'but he uses the man as if he thought him a saint or a martyr, or both.
I wish harm may not come of this day's doings;' and he fell into a
gloomy silence.

I had never seen him look so nearly angry before. We were now got to the
Parsonage, and Harry arousing himself to take leave of us, our aunt says
to him,--

'I shall ask you to do me a great good turn, by bringing your father to
sup with us at the Grange. I would have him reason peaceably with yon
poor distraught man, and convince him of his folly; so he may do a
service to my Andrew also, if he has indeed a leaning to such
delusions.'

'Well, madam, I will do it for you,' said Harry; 'but there is only one
other person in the world to please whom I would bring my father into
such odd company as yon man's;' and he went in, looking but half
pleased; and as we took our way to the Grange I was musing who that
other person might be Harry was so fain to please.

When we got into the hall we saw Andrew sitting there and talking with
the stranger, who was now clothed like any other man. His face had been
bruised and his hair torn by the violence of the people; but, for all
these disfigurements, I, looking earnestly at him, could see he was the
very one the sight of whose ill-usage had so moved Andrew on our
journey; there was the same composed look, and the same strange inward
light in his eye.

He rose when he saw Aunt Golding come in, saluting her with the words,
'Peace be to thee!' on which she, gravely smiling, said,--

'You did not bring peace with you to our place of worship, sir; but I
trust no one will break your peace in my house, where you are welcome to
rest and refresh you this day.'

'No man can break my peace,' said he, 'my soul being ever at rest in
the Holy City, the New Jerusalem.'

'That's a good resting-place indeed,' said our aunt. 'Will you tell me
by what name I am to call you while you stay here? I think no one in our
village knows who you are.'

'Not every one can know my name, but they that have the Light,' said the
man; 'and the world can never know it.'

'But sure, man, you have a name of your own by which the world does know
you,' said our aunt a little impatiently.

'I wish not to deny it,' he replied; 'therefore fret not thyself, good
friend,--my worldly name is James Westrop. And I will tell thee what
thou askest not, that my errand hither is to this young man, Andrew
Golding. I have now told him my message, so I am free to depart; and if
thou likest not of my talk or my ways, I refuse not to leave thy house
and protection this hour.'

'But I will not have you go,' said she, 'till you are refreshed and
rested. And, in good time, here comes the Vicar, whom I have desired to
sup with us and to reason with you. You will not refuse his company? He
scorns not yours.'

'I will not refuse it,' said Westrop gravely; and Mr. Truelocke coming
in at that moment with Harry, we all went presently to table.

I marvelled greatly during the meal at Mr. Truelocke's courtesy, so
kindly did he speak to the Quaker; and he strove to excuse to him the
mad behaviour of the people, ascribing it to their regard for their
ancient pastor, now about to leave them. 'I pray you,' he said, 'to
pardon them for my sake.'

'Friend,' said James Westrop, 'I had pardoned them before they offended.
But thou art deceived if thou thinkest it was love to thee which moved
them. They could not endure my word, because their own spirits were
foul. My word was to them as the shining of a candle into a dark, dirty
place, and the sight of their foulness made them mad against me. But in
thee I perceive purity of intention; and I will gladly reason with thee
of the things of the Spirit, according to this good woman's desire.'

So after supper Aunt Golding showed the Quaker and Mr. Truelocke into a
parlour, and herself with Andrew went in to hear their reasonings; but
Althea whispered me, and said, 'Let us go and walk in the garden; I
cannot stay and hear the man's insolent talk.' So we stepped out, and
began to pace up and down one of the walks, the moon being just risen,
and the evening very sweet and calm--a pleasant change it was after the
heats and storms of that afternoon's work. Presently Harry joined us,
and said at once, 'Well, sweet ladies, so you have no mind to turn
Quakers?'

'As soon shall this rose turn nettle,' said Althea, plucking a white
rose off a bush and giving it to him. 'Keep it, I pray you; and when you
find it will sting you to touch it, then conclude Althea Dacre has
turned Quaker.'

'Give me your rose too, Mistress Lucia,' said Harry.

So I gathered one, and put it in his hand; but I felt obliged to say,--

'I cannot speak so confidently as my sister; I know nothing of these
people and their doctrines.'

'You see their doings,' said Althea indignantly; 'that should be enough.
Mr. Truelocke, Lucia and I were bred up true Churchwomen, and so I will
continue to my dying day. I love not all these sects that spring up like
weeds in the ruined places of the Church; I am for those who are
building up her walls again, and making them stronger.'

'And is this your mind too, Mistress Lucia?' says Harry. 'I fear me, if
it is, you will not approve my good father either;' at which Althea went
red and went pale, for she had not thought how her words might hit Mr.
Truelocke; but since she did not speak, I said,--

'Being so ignorant about these things, I don't like to say much, except
that I hate these new harsh laws,--axes, I think them, lopping off from
our Church her true, faithful members as if they were diseased limbs. I
fear me the poor trunk that is left will be like a headless, handless
corpse without them.'

'Well, God mend all!' said Harry, drawing a long breath. 'For my part,
all I know is, that I would these great folks who rule us now had let my
father end his days in peace, without pestering him about surplices and
Prayer-Books and the sign of the cross, all which he holds for rank
Papistry, I suppose; and I cannot wish him to lie, even about such
foolish trifles as these things appear to me. But what profits wishing?'

'Very little,' said Althea, sighing softly. 'I might wish too, all in
vain, that I had not spoken with such needless warmth even now;' and she
began entreating him to believe she had meant no disrespect to his
father; but he cut her short, assuring her he knew it already.

'My father is not in all your thoughts,' said he; 'but he is seldom out
of mine. I am ever longing to see him settled in some peaceful shelter
before I go to sea;' and he looked more downcast than I had ever seen
him.

We were got into the orchard now, winding in and out among the trees,
and Althea went musing by herself; but I could not help lingering beside
Harry, to say some comfortable words about how all folks loved Mr.
Truelocke, my aunt especially, and I knew it was in her mind to have the
old gentleman make his home at the Grange with her, if he only would.

'Ay,' says Harry; 'that's a larger "if" than you wot of, sweet Lucy. But
would it please you, as well as Mrs. Golding, to have the old man living
under this roof?' and I answered hastily,--

'Nothing could like me better than to have so kind and fatherly a man
dwelling with us, not to say that his holiness and piety would bring
down Heaven's blessing on any house that sheltered him; and I promise
you,' I went on, 'that I, for my part, would show him all a daughter's
love and duty,'--'and so will Althea,'--I would fain have added, had not
Harry cut my speech short, saying,--

'That's a charming word on your lips when you speak of my father--the
word of daughter. I hope you consider what it may mean to me.'

'Sure,' I said, 'I am very willing to take you for my brother, if that
is what you aim at.'

'No, no, Lucy,' said he; 'I wish not to be your brother. I refuse
altogether to let you think of me as such; but I have nothing to say
against Mistress Althea as a sister. Think well of my words, will you?'
and, taking my hand, he put it to his lips. And it was not the first
time, in truth, that such a courtesy had been shown me; but with a fine
gentleman it seems such a matter of course. It was not so with the frank
and blunt sailor, who had had a kind of Puritan bringing-up too; so I
suppose that was the reason it made me tremble so strangely, or perhaps
the look on his face was the cause. I was therefore not sorry to see
Althea coming up to us again.

'We had better keep nearer the house; their conference may be over, and
Mrs. Golding will not know where to find us,' she said; so we turned
back, and all three paced up and down the terrace under the windows for
a while, then we went into the hall, and sat there awaiting the end of
the disputation.

At last we saw Mr. Truelocke, Mrs. Golding. James Westrop, and Andrew,
all issuing forth together, and all but one seeming mightily disturbed.
Mr. Truelocke looked stern and sad, and Mrs. Golding had been weeping;
Andrew gazed on the Quaker with much anxiety, but with such reverence as
if he saw in him an angel of God. As for James Westrop, there was no
change in him, only his usual composure seemed a little exalted, if I
may so phrase it. He walked straight to the hall door, Andrew keeping by
him. There he made a stand, and, raising his hands as if in blessing,--

'Peace be to this house!' he said; 'I have been well entreated in it,
though it approves me not. Friend Andrew, thou and I will meet again;
but now follow me not. I may not sleep under this roof, having many
miles to go before the sun rises;' and with that he turned and walked
out of the door, which he shut after him; and Andrew, who had stopped at
his word, came slowly back to us. Althea now rose from her place and
went towards him; her eyes were very bright, and there was unusual
colour in her cheeks; indeed she seemed carried quite out of herself,
yet she kept her queenly look and gait withal.

'Mr. Golding, said she, putting her hands on his arm, 'what means that
man by his farewell to you? Sure you are not befooled and led away by
his deceiving words to believe such madness as he speaks?'

Andrew started at her touch, like a man waking from a dream. He then
looked seriously at her, and said,--

'Madam, I cannot say yet how much I believe of yon good man's doctrine;
but I will not rest till I know more of it. If I find it to be as
heavenly true as it hath seemed to me this day, not all the joys and
glories of the world should hold me back from embracing it; at which
Althea, letting her hands fall from his arm, stood as if she were turned
into stone, her eyes remaining fixed on him sorrowfully. I suppose he
could not endure that look; for he turned away sharply and went out of
the hall.

'I feared this,' said Mr. Truelocke. He looked quite weary and spent.
'These men have a strange eloquence; and I cannot wonder that such
youths as our Andrew should think their words are indeed set off by some
superior Power,--the more, since none can deny that they preach what
they practise. I would I could have imbued all my hearers with a like
burning sincerity.'

This was nearly all I heard about that long conference of theirs; for
after some more lamentations over its ill result, which, Harry whispered
me, they might have expected, Mr. Truelocke departed with his son, and
Aunt Golding remained so troubled that I did not like to question her
about what had passed. But all the more was I curious to know what the
man's doctrine was; and on the first fair occasion I found, I began to
ask Andrew to describe it to me. Poor youth! he was mightily pleased
with my inquiry, thinking, doubtless, that it sprang from a real thirst
for truth like his own; and to the best of his power he complied with my
wish. I found he had not been altogether ignorant of this new teaching
for some months back.

'We English Christians,' said he, 'have fallen into many hurtful snares
by our lack of faith in God's great gift of the Holy Spirit, the mighty
boon which the risen Saviour promised to His followers, and which truly
came according to His word. I have often wondered,' said he, 'that we
all profess and say, as often as we repeat the Creed, "I believe in the
Holy Ghost," yet we act and think as if we believed not in Him.' And
from this point he went on to tell me how George Fox, first of all, and
many others after him, had been going about the country endeavouring to
make people alive to the high privilege they had so long slighted, to
their own exceeding hurt; 'also,' said he, 'these men, in obedience to
the inward Voice that instructs them, strive to bring people off from
their formal man-made religions to the primitive purity of Christ's
religion, which consists not in rites and ceremonies, repeating of forms
of prayer, singing of hymns, and ringing of bells, but in a holy and
harmless life;' and he quoted many things out of the Sermon on the
Mount, 'which,' said he, 'the common run of Christians never dream of
obeying; but the poor Friends practise them most strictly.'

All this was most alluring to Andrew, for, as I have often noticed, he
detested nothing so much as false professions, and a show of goodness
where none was. I asked him curiously why the Friends behaved themselves
in such strange fashion in public places and churches; when he answered
me by referring to the bold speeches of ancient prophets in rebuke of
sin, and asked me if I could think that a man might now-a-days refuse to
carry God's message to sinners because it might bring him into bodily
peril? 'It were far worse,' said he, 'to disobey the Divine Voice, that
still small Voice that is heard by the restful soul, than to endure a
little pain at men's hands, or even the death of the body.' Well, I
could not wonder that he was charmed with such teachings, for while I
listened to him my own heart was moved strangely; but it evermore ended
with my resolving to keep to the opinions of my aunt and Mr. Truelocke;
I thought they were both too good to be far mistaken. But Andrew now
began to be often away from home, and he made no secret that he went to
meet with Westrop and other Friends, from whom he often had letters
also. He was never at West Fazeby on the Lord's Day; and Aunt Golding
and Althea also showed themselves mightily afflicted thereat.



CHAPTER IV.


HOW HARRY TRUELOCKE LEFT US FOR THE SEA.

And now came fast upon us that black day, the twenty-fourth of August,
1662, when such numbers of faithful ministers were stript of their
offices and livings because they would not go against their consciences;
and our own Mr. Truelocke among them. I think he was more stiffly set
than ever in his opinion of the unlawfulness of conformity, since he had
that talk with James Westrop; at least Aunt Golding thought so. But on
other points he showed himself mild and persuadable, so that there was
nothing like the difficulty Harry and all of us had looked for in
winning him to come and dwell at the Grange, for a season at least; and
he agreed to make the change before the fatal day should come.

So we had all a busy time of it that last week, in getting his many
books and his simple household stuff removed from the Parsonage house,
and in bestowing them suitably at the Grange, where Aunt Golding had
prepared two fair rooms for his particular use. And however bad the
occasion for our doing this work, some of us found pleasure in it.

I must own I myself always loved a busy, bustling time, when there
seemed a little more to be done in each day than we could crowd into it;
which was our case now, wheat harvest having begun. And I was gladder
than common of the stir and the bustle, for it helped to stupefy and
dull a pain there was at my heart whenever the thought crossed me how
soon Harry would be gone. He was to depart on a long voyage to the East
Indies, and would indeed have sailed already but for his loving care
about his father, which made him resolute to tarry until he saw the old
gentleman in a manner provided for.

Some perverse whimsy of mine had made me careful never to be left alone
in Harry's company since that talk with him by moonlight in the orchard.
It's no wonder that I so perfectly recollect all the sayings and doings
of that day, for it was a fateful day indeed to some of our little
company. But the things that dwelt most constantly in my memory, to the
shutting out of weightier matters, were Harry's looks and words on my
saying I would be as a daughter to Mr. Truelocke. There was small need
to bid me think well of them; I thought of them whether I would or no,
all the while telling myself that I was a poor fool for brooding over
such airy trifles; that I had not known aught of Harry, nor he of me,
six months before; and that I deserved whipping for fancying he could
mean anything serious. And so, between a kind of fear and a good deal of
pride, I tried, as I have said, to avoid any private talk with him; and
I succeeded pretty well. But Harry's blunt, plain-spoken ways
overmatched me after all.

The first evening after Mr. Truelocke had come to the Grange--I cannot
say, after we had him settled there, for he was mightily unsettled--he
was not able to rest in the room we had fitted for his study, and so
came to sit among us in the hall, seeming to please himself with
watching our occupations, as he sat in his great chair. Andrew was
writing somewhat at his desk; Althea had some sewing; and I was having a
lesson from Aunt Golding in the right use of the little flax-wheel; for
I had taken an extraordinary fancy for spinning, and our aunt encouraged
me in it, and took pains to teach me, saying I was an apt scholar. Thus
we were busied when Harry came in and sat down among us.

'You all look peaceful and content, methinks,' quoth he. 'I wish I were
a skilful painter, then might I make a picture of this pretty scene to
carry with me and cheer my heart in distant seas. But since I cannot do
that, I must try for some other comfort to take away with me.'

Here he stopt, and Aunt Golding said kindly, 'What is in my power to do
for you, Master Harry, I will do as freely as your father could.'

'Thanks, madam,' said Harry; 'there's much you and my father can do for
me; I know only one other person who can do more. Father, I looked for
you in your study even now; but I am not sorry to find you here instead,
hardly any one here but has some interest in my business with you. I
want your consent and Mrs. Golding's to my seeking Mistress Lucy here
for my wife.'

I heard the words plainly, and I suppose their sense reached me; but if
they had been so many blows of an axe upon my head they could not have
left me more stupid. So I sat helpless, hearing Aunt Golding cry out,--

'Here is hasty work, indeed! do you speak seriously, Master Harry?'

'Never more seriously,' said he; 'if they were the last words I should
speak I could not mean them more truly and heartily. And I hope you have
a good answer for me.'

'I don't say no,' she replied; 'but there are others to be consulted
beside me.'

So Harry, looking at Mr. Truelocke, said, 'Father, call your thoughts
off from your unkind Mother Church, and bestow some of them on your
dutiful son. Will you give me your sanction and your blessing, if I can
win this lady to say she will be mine?'

'I can never refuse thee my blessing, Harry, and that thou knowest,'
said the old man. 'But it's fitting that I should think of the lady too,
and bid her consider what she does.'

He turned to me, which troubled me greatly, and, looking sadly and
kindly at me, said,--

'If you take this boy of mine, madam,' said he, 'you take the son of a
poor, despised, aged man, who can give you and him nothing but a
father's blessing, coupled with his burdensome infirmity to care for
and tend, till death remove it;' words which loosed my tongue
straightway to say I should deem such an office a pride and honour.

'That is not all,' said Mr. Truelocke. 'Harry hath chosen to embrace a
dangerous wandering way of life, neither very glorious nor very
profitable. And his bride will have to spend many a sad lonely hour,
while her husband is tossing on the seas, and she sitting trembling at
home, deprived of his protection and doubtful of his fate.'

'That's a very odd way of recommending my suit, father,' said Harry, a
little uneasily.

'Nay, I have not done my recommendation,' replied Mr. Truelocke; 'let me
say all. You should further consider, Mistress Lucy, that this son of
mine is so light of spirit and careless of speech, that some will say he
has no constancy of disposition. I will not so far slander him, for I
know him better; but this I must say, for it is truth, that he has not
yet that confirmed and settled piety I should desire in the husband of
mine own daughter, if I had one. Now I have laid before you all the
disadvantages of the match, it is for you to say if you will have it.'

I wonder if ever a love-suit was so urged before? It made me heartily
angry to hear poor Harry so disparaged to his face, and to see him sit
so downcast, a cloud of angry colour mounting to his very forehead. I
suppose pity for him killed all my bashfulness, for I stood up, and said
passionately, I thought no worse of a man for having the bold
adventurous nature which loved seafaring; that was a noble trade, I
said, and our mariners the very flower of England; and as for light
spirit and merry speech, they were but flowers covering a rock, for
steadfast as a rock was the heart under that gay show.

'And if you speak of piety,' I wound up, 'I am sure Harry hath as much
of it as I have, at least; he has some faith, some love, and so I hope
have I; but we will help each other up to better things; and here is my
hand on it if he will take it.' With that I held out my hand to him, and
he sprang up and grasped it in both his, looking exultingly at his
father; it was a pleasure to see how his face had changed all in a
moment. Mr. Truelocke smiled, but he shook his head too, saying,--

'Well, children, I blame you not. The Lord will surely teach you and
lead you, it may be in ways you will not like; for it is on my mind that
you both have much to learn and much to suffer before your marriage day
shall dawn.'

And now Aunt Golding, who loved Harry, and never could endure to have
him crossed, began to laugh outright.

'I will own,' she said, 'I thought you very unmerciful to your good son,
Mr. Truelocke, while you continued to run him down so shamefully; but
now I see you took the right way to advance his cause. It's wonderful
what a spice of contradiction will do with a woman! Lucy, you would
never have made this bold, open confession without some such
provocation'--words which abashed me much, for they were true.

And now, no one present having a word more to say against it, Harry and
I exchanged rings; and Mr. Truelocke in a few pathetic words besought
Heaven's blessing on our contract. I do believe Harry would not have
been sorry could he have called me wife before he went away; but, every
one frowning on this fancy of his when he distantly hinted it, he did
not urge it; and truly the time was too short.

I was a little afraid of Althea, lest she should think I had every way
demeaned myself; but she never has owned that she thought so.

'These things go by destiny, little Lucy,' she said once. 'I am not
strong enough to control fate, and certainly you are not; so why should
I blame you? Were not all our follies written in the stars when we were
born?' I could not tell then what to make of her mocking words, knowing
how she despised what people call astrology.

As for Andrew, he could talk cheerfully of nothing at this time; and the
hopefullest word he could find for Harry and me was that though in these
evil days there could be no love-thoughts or marriage-thoughts for such
as him, he would not say they were forbidden to others; and he wished us
all the happiness we could get; poor cold words; but Harry said 'twas
wonderful Andrew could say as much on any worldly matter.

This was the manner of our betrothing; and, were it not for Harry's ring
still shining on my finger, and also for the odd unusual fashion of the
whole thing, which is what I never could have dreamt, I should be sadly
apt to think of it as a dream too pleasant to be true.

For within a day or two Harry had left us and gone to Hull, from which
port he sailed. I have never seen him since; also it is now a full
twelve-month since any letter from him reached us. Yet I cannot believe
he is dead; and if he is living, I know he is true; and living or dead,
I have a strong persuasion that my little ruby ring, which was my
mother's once, is on his finger still.

But many a time have I thought on Mr. Truelocke's words, how we both
should have much to learn and much to suffer before our marriage day. I
think the words be true.



CHAPTER V.


HOW ANDREW MADE ONE ENEMY, AND WAS LIKE TO HAVE ANOTHER.

And now my happy time was over; its story is all told so far; and I must
write of darker days that came after.

The living of West Fazeby, left vacant because of Mr. Truelocke's
sturdiness in his opinion, did not wait long for an incumbent, but was
quickly bestowed on a Mr. Lambert; a man not troubled with awkward
scruples, for he had been a strong Presbyterian under the Commonwealth,
and now was become as strong a Churchman; but an honest man as the world
goes now, and not hard-hearted. He had another better living where he
resided; so our parish was served by his curate, a Mr. Poole, a young
man of shallow capacity and but little learning. Mr. Truelocke,
however, went to hear him preach;--a strange sight it was to see so
reverend, saintly, and able a minister sitting humbly as a listener,
while that weak-headed lad spoke from the pulpit;--and he said the youth
preached true doctrine; so he continued going to hear him, and
encouraged our household to do the like, which they all did, except
Andrew. That Mr. Truelocke himself did not join in the new formal
prayers was not noticed, his presence at sermon-time seeming to give
mighty satisfaction to Mr. Poole, who would often walk up to the Grange
of a Lord's Day evening, to ask Mr. Truelocke's opinion of his handling
of a text, and would even beg to hear his exposition of the same; when
several of our neighbours would also come in and listen thankfully to
their old pastor's words; neither we nor they dreaming that such
practices could be deemed unlawful, as they soon were, being stigmatized
as conventicles, and heavily punished. But this did not happen in Mr.
Poole's time.

There were other things much less agreeable to us under the new order of
things. A monstrous new Maypole was set up on the village green, by
command of a gentleman very powerful in the parish, whom I shall soon
have to name, and we were told the old heathen May-games would be
observed at the right season,--as indeed they were when the time came;
meantime the one or two taverns in West Fazeby began to stand open on a
Sunday, and were much more frequented than they used to be, men who had
formerly been very careful to shun them now going to them boldly in open
day; which plainly discovered their former decent carriage to have been
a hollow show. Althea and I chanced one day to be passing the Royal Oak,
as the chief inn of the village had been new christened, just as there
reeled out of it a young gentleman whom every one had deemed a most
hopeful pious youth, Mr. Truelocke in particular having a great opinion
of him, though I never liked his demure looks for my part, nor his stiff
way of dressing himself. He was called Ralph Lacy, and was son and heir
to old Mr. Lacy of Lacy Manor, a worthy old gentleman, though somewhat
austere, who was lately dead; which I suppose partly accounted for the
mighty change in his son, who was now clad in silk and velvet, scarlet
and gold; and, as I have said, could not walk too straight at that
moment.

He stood still, leering foolishly on us, just in our way; I could not
bear to look at him, and would have slipt on one side; but Althea
looked sternly at him, and said bitterly,--

'Shame on you, Ralph Lacy! You mourn for your father in a very vile
manner; a swine could do no worse.'

'Ah, sweet Mistress Dacre,' said he, 'do you think then the grim,
sour-visaged saints are reigning still? Nay, their day is over! we have
a right good fellow for a king now, and this shall be Merry England
again, I can tell thee.' (He was growing more familiar at every word.)
'I will soon show thee what the ways are at Whitehall now;' and he was
coming much nearer to her than was pleasant, when Andrew, who came up
with us at that moment, flung him out of our path with such goodwill
that Master Lacy measured his length on the ground; and there we left
him lying. Althea thanked Andrew warmly and cordially; but Andrew, who
had been all glowing with just wrath at first, seemed to shrink into
himself at her praise.

'It was a temptation,' he said, 'and I have fallen. I could have taken
you out of yon fool's way without laying a finger on him.'

'It's something of a disgrace indeed to have touched the beast--an oaken
staff had been fitter than your hand,' she replied. 'Merry England,
quotha! drunken England, I suppose he meant.'

'There is too much indeed of the unclean spirit of riot abroad now,'
answered Andrew; 'but it is not with violent hands that we can cast it
out. I sinfully forgot our Lord's word, "Resist not evil;"' and nothing
could brighten him, though Althea did her best all the way home.

There came the day when I rued Andrew's angry action as much as he did,
though not for the same reason. Ralph Lacy was not too drunk to be
unaware who had flung him aside into the dust; he never forgave it; and
his hand was plainly seen afterwards in the troubles that came upon us.
Another man also contributed something to them, though more innocently.

Mr. Poole now came very much about us, and would often talk about the
good family he belonged to and his hopes of speedy preferment; and
another favourite topic of his was the gay suits he had worn in his
secular days; he would dwell very fondly on the cut and trimmings of
these clothes. I think nothing misliked him in his profession but the
gravity of dress required from a clerical person; and I was often
tempted to ask, had his father been a tailor? He made the most of his
sober apparel, and loved to show a white, smooth, fat hand, with a fine
diamond on one finger; but he was unhappy in an insignificant person and
a foolish face, both of them something fatter than is graceful.

I do not know what first made me guess that all his boastings and
paradings were intended to advance him in Althea's good graces; but she
refused to believe me when I said so.

'Poor harmless wretch!' said she; 'he is but practising with me; he
would fain perfect himself in the airs and graces of a thriving wooer,
before laying siege in earnest to some fair lady, with the heavy purse,
that I lack, at her girdle.'

'That's a far-fetched fancy indeed,' said I. 'Why should he single you
out alone for such practisings?'

'Well,' quoth Althea idly, 'he may deem me the fittest person to
rehearse with, seeing I have at least the breeding of a gentlewoman, and
am contracted to no one else. He will think that if his ways and words
please me, they may answer with richer women of my sort as well.'

'But sure they do not please you!' I cried; 'nor should you let him
think they do; 'tis not fair usage.'

'Nay, he diverts me hugely,' said she; 'and I need diversion, for my
heart is heavy as lead, Lucy;'--all at once there were tears in her
eyes;--'if I can forget my griefs while I watch a mannikin bowing and
grimacing before me, don't grudge me the poor pastime. I assure thee,
child, there's nothing more in it;' and with that she left me hastily.

I was used to think Althea much wiser than myself, but the evening of
the very day when we had this talk proved that in this matter her
judgment was more at fault than mine. For about sunset Mr. Poole came up
to the Grange, which was a rare thing for him to do, seeing he did not
love to be abroad when it was dark. He seemed mightily puffed up about
something; and, not being one of those who can keep their own counsel
long, he soon imparted to Althea and me, whom he found sitting by the
parlour fire, how his promotion now seemed very near. There was a living
of which he had long had hopes to get the reversion; and the actual
incumbent was fallen sick of a strange fever, with little prospect of
recovery.

'And you are troubled because of the poor man's grievous case,' says
Althea demurely. 'I guessed something was disturbing you. It's
melancholy news indeed, Mr. Poole, for one would guess by it that the
place must be unhealthy, so it may be your luck to sicken in like manner
when it is your turn to live there.'

I thought Althea cruel thus to tease the poor man, imputing to him a
tender concern for the sufferer of which he had never dreamed; besides,
he was chicken-hearted about contagious disorders, and that she knew. I
pitied him then, but found it hard to forbear laughing, his aspect was
so comical; therefore I feigned an errand out of the room, and, having
stayed away long enough to compose my countenance, I returned to the
parlour, where I found poor Mr. Poole on his knees to Althea, urging his
suit for her hand with a great deal more passion than one could have
expected in him. 'Twas in vain she spoke of her orphanhood and poverty,
and told him he should look higher; and at last she had to speak
sharply, and say, however she might esteem the honour he would do her,
wife of his she would never be; 'so quit that unbecoming posture at my
feet,' she added; on which he rose indeed, but said half-frantically,--

'Give me at least, madam; the comfort of hearing you say you are
heart-free, that you love none other better than you do me;' on which
first her eyes flashed angry fire, and then changed and softened, her
whole face and even her neck going rosy-red, and she said almost
kindly,--

'I will give you no such assurance, sir, to hold you in vain hopes; but
I wish you a happier fate than marriage with me might prove.' With that
she was gone from the room, like a shadow; and Mr. Poole and I were left
foolishly staring at each other. Presently he said hoarsely,--

'Who is it that your sister loves, madam? for whom does she disdain me?
Sure,' he went on, with growing heat, 'it cannot be your cousin--he that
is infected with the Quaker heresy! say it is not he, madam.'

Well, I was tempted to lie, and say it was not our cousin; for Andrew
was nothing akin to us; but I resisted the tempter, and said I could say
nothing, but that I was heartily sorry,--'and I am sure, so is my
sister,' I said, 'that you should have fixed your affections so
unluckily.' Then I told him Andrew had no thoughts of marriage with
Althea or any one; and I reminded him of the many rich and fair women
who would be sure to look kindly on him; at which he smiled again, and
presently went away in no unfriendly mood. So I acquit him of meaning
the harm which he afterwards did us, poor youth, with his prattling
tongue. He did not wait long for his promotion, the poor man whom he
hoped to succeed dying indeed of the fever that had seized him; so we
lost our curate. But it seems he prated to his patron about the fair
young lady he had hoped should share his preferment, lamenting her
silliness in preferring a moonstruck Quaker youth; also he complained of
Mrs. Golding for not discouraging such follies, and he even deplored Mr.
Truelocke's obstinate heresies as to church discipline.

I think even he had held his peace, if he had known into how greedy an
ear he poured these tales. This patron of his, one Sir Edward Fane, had
much land and not a little power in our parish, though he resided in
another neighbourhood; he was a bitter hater of all Nonconformists, and
in especial of the Quakers; men said this was because of some encounter
he had had with Fox himself, by whose sharp tongue and ready wit our
gentleman was put to open shame, where he had hoped to make himself
sport out of Quaker enthusiasm. However that might be, it was commonly
said this Sir Edward loved Quaker-baiting, as it was called, beyond all
other of the cruel, inhuman sports, the bull-baitings and bear-baitings,
in which too many men of condition now take pleasure; and it was not
long before we found a powerful enemy was raised up against our harmless
friends.

'Twas a wonder to me that any would lift a hand against them; Mr.
Truelocke being so venerable and so peaceable a man, and Andrew of life
so irreproachable. Also, since the youth had cast in his lot with the
Friends, he had shown a singular zeal in good works. He sought out those
who were in distress or necessity, and laboured to make their hard lot
easy, not merely giving them alms, but comforting them as a loving
brother might do; and such as had fallen into want through folly or sin
he toiled hard to lift up again, and to put them into an honest way of
living. By this means some few were led to embrace his way of religion,
it is true; and what wonder? My wonder was that so many were vilely
ungrateful to him, at which _he_ never showed any vexation. 'We are
bidden,' he said, 'to do good to the unthankful and the evil,' which
seemed enough for him.

But it being contrary to his conscience to attend the church, I suppose
all his other graces did but lay him more open to injury, and we were
soon warned of mischief hatching against us and him, and that by one
from whom we never expected it.



CHAPTER VI.


HOW MR. TRUELOCKE AND MRS. GOLDING LEFT US.

Mr. Poole being gone, there came in his place as curate an oldish man,
grey-haired and meagre; a great adorer of Archbishop Laud and of King
Charles the First, 'the Royal Martyr,' as he would say; but for all his
half Popish notions, he was blameless, nay, austere in his life; and he
had thriven so ill in the gay new world of London, that he deemed it
great good luck to have the curate's place at West Fazeby.

We had half feared that this poor Mr. Stokes would feel bound in
conscience to torment and harass Mr. Truelocke into conformity; so when
he came to the Grange one day, very earnest to see Aunt Golding and the
former Vicar, and that in private, we were on thorns while he stayed;
and when we heard the door shut after him, we hurried to our aunt,
asking what his errand had been.

She answered us not directly, but, gazing after Mr. Stokes, whom Mr.
Truelocke was conducting out through the garden, 'Well, my girls,' said
she, 'if the tree may be known by its fruits, yon is a right honest man
and a true Christian;' and she went on to say how he had only come to
warn her and hers of evil that was designed against them. 'I fear,' she
said, smiling, 'the good man's conscience pulled him two ways; yet his
heart has proved wiser than his head. I am right glad now that Andrew is
away, though I was vexed before; yet I knew his was a charitable
journey.'

Then she told us of new crueller devices intended against the Friends,
and, indeed, against all Nonconforming folks. 'And there be some,' she
said, 'who have spoken very evil things of us here at the Grange. I
warrant you it will not be long that we shall be suffered to have family
worship if our labouring men share in it as they are used to do; nor can
Mr. Truelocke so much as expound a Psalm to us and them, but it shall
straight be said we hold a conventicle here.'

'Surely,' says Althea, very pale, 'the gentlemen who now rule the
country are too proud-spirited, too noble, to intermeddle with such
matters; what is it to them how we say our prayers in our own houses?
Abroad, there may be need of a decent face of uniformity, and some open
outrageous follies may require to be put down strongly'--She stopped,
and Aunt Golding said,--

'Ah, child, thou little knowest. I have not yet heard of any outrageous
follies that our poor Andrew has run into; yet I am told, and I fear
it's true, that if he were to show his face openly in West Fazeby
to-morrow, his next lodging might be in York Castle, where he should lie
in the foulest den they could find for him, and have the worst company
to boot. Nor will it be very safe here for our good Mr. Truelocke, who
now talks of taking his journey to certain worthy kinsfolk of his that
are farmers in the Dale country, there he may live in a peaceful
obscurity; but his chief aim is to avoid bringing troubles on our
house.'

It struck me cruelly to think of Harry's father leaving us, but I had no
time to dwell on the thought, for now Althea sank down at my feet,
helpless and senseless like one who was dead indeed; and much ado we
had to bring her out of her swoon, which was very long, and she very
feeble when she was recovered from it. We got her to her room, and
persuaded her to lie down and sleep; and when we came away, Aunt Golding
turns to me with a puzzled look, saying,--

'What means this, Lucy? I never thought your sister one of those fine
ladies who swoon for every trifle;--what is it, think you?'

'Andrew,' says I, 'and the image of his danger; you made a frightful
picture of it, dear madam, do you know?'

'Ah, set a thief to catch a thief!' says Aunt Golding, and I felt glad
to hear her laugh once more; 'my love-passages are of too ancient a date
to serve me, it seems, but yours are fresh and new, my Lucy. But what of
Andrew? is Althea dear to him?'

'More dear than he knows, or she guesses,' quoth I; at which our good
aunt laughed again, but then said,--

'It's a thing that would have pleased me well, had I been told that it
would happen a year ago, but now I see nothing but trouble in it. There
would be no equal yoke there, my Lucy. Whatever extravagances Andrew
hath fallen into, the love of Christ runs through all he does and
thinks. And canst thou say the like of thy sister?'

'Not yet,' I murmured, but Aunt Golding heard me, and said,--

'Ay, well spoken, Lucy; we will remember that when we pray.'

After this, Aunt Golding had a long conference with Matthew Standfast,
whom she despatched in pursuit of Andrew, that he might furnish him with
money and warn him to keep away from the Grange for a season. And after
much trouble, Matthew found him, somewhere on the road to York; when it
cost him still more pains to lead his young master into compliance with
the prudent courses enjoined on him.

'He talked much,' said Matthew, 'of the honour of suffering for the
truth, and how he must not be the vile coward to refuse it. And I had
never been able to beat him away from that, but for the excellent
counsel of one that was riding with him; I think he was a Quaker also,
for he could talk with Master Andrew in his own dialect.'

'What manner of man was he?' said our aunt.

'I can hardly tell,' said Matthew; 'he had a piercing eye, I wot, and a
voice as clear as a bell; very neat and seemly he was in his attire, and
yet he might have been a ruffling cavalier if one judged by his hair,
which he wore long and curled.'

'That is much how George Fox himself has been described to me,' said
Aunt Golding.

'Nay, I cannot think it was any such man,' said Matthew, 'for he talked
very reasonably, plain sense and plain words, such as a simple man like
me could not choose but understand; and one told me how George Fox
should be in Lancashire about this time.'

'Well, what said he to persuade my poor lad?' asked aunt.

'Why, he bade him remember certain works of mercy he had already in
hand, which should not be neglected to gratify a mad fancy of thrusting
his head in the lion's mouth whenever it was opened against him. So
Master Andrew was ashamed of his rashness, and was persuaded to take
himself away for a time; and we parted very lovingly. He says it shall
not be long ere you hear from him, mistress.'

I believe, in spite of Matthew's contrary opinion, that Andrew's
counsellor was no other than the famous man whom our aunt had named. But
I have no proof of this, only mine own strong persuasion.

Not many days hereafter, we had proof that Mr. Stokes had been very
honest in his warning to us. There came constables to the Grange, who
showed a warrant to seize the body of Andrew Golding, charged with many
strange misdemeanours, but especially with refusing the Oaths of
Supremacy and Allegiance. I do not believe the poor youth ever had
refused them; but this was the common trap set for the Friends, who were
known to decline all oath-taking, because of that saying of our Lord's,
'Swear not at all,'--a harmless scruple at the worst, which never ought
to be used, as I think, against honest and peaceable subjects.

We were now heartily glad that Andrew was absent, and that we could
truly say, we knew not where he was; nor were the constables much
grieved at it. One of them found an occasion of whispering to Aunt
Golding, 'If you can get word to the young man, let him know this air is
unwholesome for him just now;' after which they went hastily away.

And now we began to be haunted with spies, our steps seeming to be
dogged even in our own garden, where we were aware of people moving
about behind trees and bushes, as if hearkening after our talk; or we
caught sight of faces peering in at the windows when we were at evening
prayer. Also our friends and neighbours began to shun us as if we had
the plague, and no one more than Mrs. Bonithorne, who had been a great
worshipper of Mr. Truelocke, but now, as we heard, blamed him openly for
his lack of true obedience to the powers that be, 'which are ordained of
God,' she would often add. It was her husband who told us this as a good
jest; but it hurt Mr. Truelocke, and he became more set on his design of
leaving the Grange, and betaking himself to his kinsfolk in Cumberland,
where among the waste and lonely mountains he might linger out his days
without offence to any. I could not hear him talk of this plan without
tears, which he perceiving tried to stop.

'Seest thou, dear child,' he would say, 'all these discomforts come upon
this house because of my abode in it; for as for poor Andrew, he is
known to be elsewhere, and however peaceably I may behave myself, you
will be allowed no peace till I am either gone out of sight like him, or
lodged in gaol for some fancied offence. Which were best, thinkest thou,
Lucy?' and when I had no answer but weeping, he would leave that point
and begin to talk of Harry's ship, the _Good Hope_, of which we had got
some news, and would speak hopefully of the joyful meeting we should
have when that ship came home.

Alas, I fear he was no prophet! But he was not to be turned from his
intention; and presently he was gone indeed, in the company of Mr.
Bonithorne, who had business in the north country, and who undertook
with a great deal of satisfaction to let no one, and especially not his
wife, into the mystery of his having this reverend travelling companion.

And now the Grange seemed a sad lonely house indeed; for every day and
all day long we missed that noble white head, that kindly presence, that
voice still musical and tender in spite of seventy years of service.
Those spyings and watchings of us, which had helped to drive away our
fatherly friend, were a little intermitted when he was gone; but the
poor benefit was counterpoised with a heavy trouble, for now our Aunt
Golding began to decline, falling into a strange lingering kind of
fever, which the doctors could not understand. I think it was nothing
but trouble of heart which caused it, for she was mightily disquieted
about Andrew. There was reason to think it would be as unsafe as ever
for him to return home, and letters from him were very rare; he could
not often find a messenger whom he would trust, and this difficulty was
increased by his wandering about the country as he did, which yet was
deemed the best way for him to live.

So being often a prey to anxious thoughts, the poor lady pined and faded
away, and presently catching a cold, she began to be troubled with
difficulty in breathing, and her sleep went from her. It was now that we
learned the worth of Grace Standfast, who fairly took us poor silly
girls in hand as her pupils, setting us tasks to do both in the house
and the sick chamber, and keeping us in heart with cheerful words and
looks. But for all her skill and her cheerfulness, our patient visibly
grew worse and worse, and as the year wore into winter, we saw that we
should lose her.

And now there befell a strange thing, which I will tell just as it
happened, and I think there can be no superstition in dwelling on it so
far.

Aunt Golding's sickness had now become so sore, that it was needful for
one of us always to watch with her; and on the night I speak of it was
my turn to do so. She was very uneasy the first part of my watch, but
about midnight she fell into a deep sleep, and continued so for an hour,
when, hearing no sound, I went to look on her, and saw such heavenly
peace on her sleeping countenance, that I could have thought a light
shone from it like the glory about a saint's head in a picture. I do not
know how long I had stood gazing on her, when all at once she woke, and,
smiling at me,--

'Is it thou, Lucy?' said she; 'that is well. I have good news for thee;'
at which I began to fear she was light-headed, for how should she have
news that I knew not? But presently she went on, with many pauses
because of her difficult breathing.

'Thou hast grieved much, Lucy, thinking thy sailor would never come home
to thee again; be at peace, he shall come home, a better man,--and find
thee a holier woman for all the troubles thou shalt have seen.'

'How do you know? how can you tell?' I cried.

'I cannot tell thee now,' she said, 'but I do know. And thou hast seen,
dear heart, how I have grieved over my Andrew--my heart's child, the
comfort of my old age; I have thought he was clean gone out of the right
way, for all his sincerity. It has been shown me in my sleep, that I had
no need thus to grieve. His rashness may bring him sharp trials, but
even through those shall he enter in. The light that leads him is the
true Light. And though he and his fellows are but erring men,--like all
others,--yet even their trivial errors shall have their use; in days to
come men shall say that these despised and persecuted believers have
done nobly--for their country and for the world.'

'Then, do you think,' I said, in some trouble, 'that we are all wrong,
and only Andrew and those like-minded in the right?'

'Nay, dear heart,' said she, 'I think not so. The paths are many--but
the Guide is one. Let us only follow His voice,--and He will bring us
to His Father's house in safety. I have comfort about thy sister too,'
she added presently, 'though I fear it is not such as she can value yet.
Do not forget, dear child, to have Mr. Stokes sent for to-morrow; I wish
to receive the most comfortable Sacrament of the Lord's Supper once
more--with you all, before I go hence.' As she said the last words, her
voice sank away, and I saw that she was sleeping once more.

The next day we did as she had bidden, in sending for Mr. Stokes, who
accordingly came, and gave the Communion to all our household, as well
as to our poor aunt. I never liked him better than on that day.

But a sad day it proved to us, for we all saw plainly how our second
mother was now a dying woman. I think she hardly said twenty words to
one of us thereafter, but quietly slept and dreamed her life away, and
on the third day she was gone. This was last winter, the winter of 1664;
and I remember how all that melancholy time the people were greatly
disturbed about the comet that was to be seen, wondering what mischiefs
it should betoken; I saw it myself, but so full was my mind of my
private griefs, I cared not much about ill omens to the State. Indeed,
one thing that soon happened was very distressing to us, and I shall
shortly relate what it was.



CHAPTER VII.


HOW ANDREW CAME TO THE GRANGE BY NIGHT.

It was about a ten days after Mrs. Golding's death, and we were
beginning to feel as if our desolation was a thing that had always been
and always would be, for so I think it often seems when a grief is new.
However desolate we were, we were not destitute; she who was gone had
cared for that, and we found a modest dower secured to each of us,
without injury to Andrew's rightful inheritance of the Grange and the
lands belonging thereto; also we were to continue dwelling in the Grange
till its new master should come home and make such dispositions as
pleased him. But for all this we were greatly perplexed; we had been
long without news of Andrew, and could not tell how to get word to him
of Mrs. Golding's death.

On the day I speak of, we had been teased by a visit from Mrs.
Bonithorne, who, professing great sorrow for our loss, and her own loss
of one whom she called her oldest friend, soon fell to talking of
Andrew, and how his unlucky doings were all owing to our good aunt's
foolishness in entertaining so pestilent a heretic as James Westrop
under her roof.

'I warned her of it,' quoth she; 'I said to her, "You will rue it yet,
Margaret; with such an one you should have no dealings, no, not so much
as to eat," and now see what has come of her perverseness!' and
such-like stuff she said, which moved Grace Standfast to say
disdainfully, when our visitor was gone, 'Yon woman surely owes us a
little grudge, that 'twas our house and not hers which entertained so
rare a monster as a wandering Quaker; she asked me twenty questions
about him the day after, I remember it well; but we hardly had heart to
laugh, though we were sure enough she had given no such warnings as she
spake of. Althea only sighed and said, ''twas an evil day for her when
she first saw that man;' and as she told me, his two appearances to us
haunted her as she went to rest, and mingled themselves with her dreams.
She woke at last sharply and suddenly, thinking she heard the hail
rattling against the windows as it did when Mr. Truelocke preached his
last sermon in our church; but it was not hail that rattled, it was some
one throwing sand and pebbles up at her window to wake her, and then a
voice calling on her name. She sprang up, and, hurrying on some clothes,
she ran down-stairs; for, as she told me, she had no more doubt of its
being Andrew who called, than if it had been broad daylight, and she
could see him standing below the window; and, being too impatient to
unlock any door, she undid the hasp of the nearest casement and climbed
out; and at the same moment hearing a voice again calling softly,
'Althea,' she ran in the direction of the sound, and came upon a man
whom in the starlight she saw to be Andrew indeed; she spoke his name,
holding out both her hands, and he turning at once grasped them in both
his, and so they stood gazing at each other awhile. Then she said, half
sobbing,--

'You come strangely, Andrew--but you come to your own house, and I am
glad that it falls to me to welcome you to it; it lacks a master sadly;'
and she tried to draw him towards the door, telling him she would set
it open if he would tarry a few minutes while she herself climbed in to
do it.

'Alas!' he said, resisting her efforts; 'what do you mean by calling
this my house? is our aunt indeed gone? I had hoped that part of the
message might be a delusion.'

'What message? I sent none, for I knew not where to send, nor did any of
us,' she replied; 'but it is too true that Mrs. Golding is dead these
ten days; and all things are at a stand for lack of your presence. Come
in; do not keep me here in the darkness and the cold.'

'I will not keep thee long,' he said sadly; 'fear it not, Althea. But I
may not come under this roof which thou sayest is mine. I saw the dim
light in your window,' he went on, like one talking in a dream, 'and I
could not bear to pass by and make no sign, as I ought to have done. For
I love thee too well, Althea Dacre, as thou knowest.'

'How can it be too well,' she answered boldly, 'if you do not love me
better than I do you? and therefore come in to your own home, or I will
not believe there is any love in you at all.'

'That's a foolish jest,' said he half angrily. 'I may not cross the
doorstone of this house to-day, Althea; I am forbidden; so hear me say
what I came to say. There is a heavy burden laid on me. For seven nights
together I saw in vision a dark terrible angel, having his wings
outspread and holding in his hand a half-drawn glittering sword; he was
hovering over this land of England; and it was shown me that he was a
messenger of wrath bidden to smite the land with a pestilence. Now there
be those far holier than I who have seen the like vision; but to me came
the word that I must go up to London, where this year the plague shall
be very sore, and as I go I must warn all men, that they may repent and
amend, before this judgment fall on them.'

There was that in his voice and words that made Althea tremble like a
leaf; she did not disbelieve in his visions while she heard him; but she
strove against the impression, and cried out, when she could find her
voice, that this was indeed madness.

'You have no right,' she said, 'to desert your natural and lawful
duties, and your poor kinswomen too, who are desolate; you will break
our hearts, you will ruin yourself, and all for a delusion.'

'It is no delusion,' said he; 'your own words, Althea, have confirmed
to me the truth of my mission. For it was said to me, "This shall be a
sign to thee, that Margaret, the widow of thy father's brother, lies
sick even to death; and thou shalt see her face no more, nor come under
her roof." And is it not so? for her face is buried out of our
sight,'--his voice shook,--'so dost not see, Althea, I may not come in
as thou wouldst have me? Furthermore, I believe my earthly pilgrimage
shall come to its end in London; I cannot be sure; but, I think, I
return no more alive. That is why I hungered so for one last look at
thee, Althea; also I wished as a dying man to entreat thee not to
despise the Lord's poor people any more. Now I must go; farewell, dear
heart, for ever;' and with these words he assayed to go; but, as she
told me afterwards, she clutched at his coat, passionately protesting he
should never go; and when he unlocked her hands, and besought her not to
hinder him, she dropt on the ground at his feet, clasped him round the
knees, and called on me with all her might.

'Help, Lucia! help, sister!' were the words that woke me, and sent me
flying with breathless speed to the place whence the call came. I
climbed through the window which I found open, and ran to the spot where
I could discern that a struggle was going on; but as I came up Andrew
had got himself loosed; and, saying low and thickly to me,--

'Look to your sister, take her in instantly,' he turned and fled as a
man might flee for his life, while Althea threw herself on the cold
ground, moaning and sobbing like a creature mortally hurt. I took her in
my arms and raised her up, asking her, all amazed, was that indeed
Andrew? but she did nothing but wring her hands and implore me to follow
him and fetch him back; and I had much trouble to persuade her that was
useless and hopeless for us at that hour of the night. At last she was
won to rise and return to the house; and we both found it a difficult
matter to get in where we had got out easily enough; which Mr.
Truelocke, I doubt not, would have moralized in his pleasant way into a
sort of holy parable. But I have not that gift, and I suppose 'twas the
hope in Althea's breast and the fear in mine which had raised our powers
for a moment and made a hard thing easy.

[Illustration: 'Look to your sister, take her in instantly.']

When we had recovered a little, and had got safely to my room, Althea
recollected herself and told me every word that had passed; and we both
agreed that Andrew was running himself into new and strange dangers in
pursuance of what he held as a Divine call. I noted it as a new thing
in Althea, that she could no longer scoff at this belief of his in the
inward heavenly voice that must be obeyed; but this matter was very
terrible to us; and we talked of it till daylight, without coming to any
conclusion as to what we were best to do about it.



CHAPTER VIII.


HOW A STRANGE MESSENGER BROUGHT US NEWS OF ANDREW.

And now we had a time of unceasing disquiet. It was soon noised abroad
that the heir to the Grange was missing, and his house and lands left
masterless; and there presently appeared first one and then another of
the Goldings, far-off kinsmen of Andrew; these persons came to the house
to examine it, and talked much with the Standfasts; also they tried to
find out what my sister and I knew of Andrew's doings; some of them went
to York to talk with Aunt Golding's lawyer; and it was not hard to see
that they would have been glad to get certain news of Andrew's death.
This made their coming hateful to us; but the house not being our own,
we could not shut them out. We did what we could to get news of Andrew;
but there was small comfort in the scanty intelligence we could glean,
since it all pointed to his having indeed gone up to London, and having
preached woe and judgment on his way thither.

And had it not been that we sometimes got comfortable letters from Mr.
Truelocke, telling of his quiet untroubled life in the Dale country, I
had now been unhappy enough; for we were ever hearing tales of the evil
handling of all kinds of Dissenters; even young maidens and little
children being pelted, whipped, and chained for the crime of being of
Quaker parentage and belief, while hundreds of Nonconformists of that
sort and other sorts were thrown into prison and left there. I suppose
it was the mad doings of the Fifth Monarchy men, as folks called them,
which stirred up such a persecuting spirit; so at least said the people
of our village, who now began to come about us again, with some show of
former kindness; but they proved very Job's comforters to us, by reason
of the frightful stories they loved to retail.

There was one good soul whom I loved well to see, who yet gave me many a
heart-quake; it was a Mrs. Ashford, wife to a small farmer near us; a
lad of hers had sailed with my Harry, and thus she would often come to
talk over the hopes and fears we had in common, and to exchange with me
whatever scraps of sea-news we could pick up. So one day, as we sat
talking,--

'It may be,' says she, 'we shall see things as terrible here in England,
as any that can befall our darlings at sea;' and I asking what she
meant, she told me she had learnt from certain poor seamen that the
Plague was assuredly on its way to us, having been creeping nearer and
nearer for a year and a half.

'A Dutch ship from Argier in Africa,' says she, 'brought it first to
Amsterdam, where it grows more and more; and 'tis certain, in another
Dutch ship, a great one, all hands died of the Plague, the ship driving
ashore and being found full of dead corpses, to the great horror and
destruction of the people there; which makes our people tremble, because
of our nearness to Holland and our traffic with it.'

'I heard something of this,' I said, 'last summer, but it seemed an idle
tale only, that died away of itself.'

'It is no idle tale,' answered she; 'see you not, sweet lady, the
infection itself died away somewhat in the cold winter; but now that
spring comes on so fast, the sickness and people's fears of it revive
together. You will see.'

Well, this news was frightful to me for Harry's sake. I began to tremble
lest perchance the _Good Hope_ should be visited like that Dutch ship;
but I did not breathe such a fear to Mrs. Ashford. And as the spring
drew on, and war with the Dutch was in every mouth, we had a new terror;
for now if our sailors came safe home, they could scarce escape being
impressed for the king's service; so we knew not what to wish for.

The spring being more than ordinarily hot, doubled the apprehensions of
the Plague; and some time in April, as I think, news came down that it
had broken out indeed in London. 'Twas said it came in a bale of silk,
brought from some infected city, and the fear of it increased mightily;
and we, remembering Andrew's strange vision, were not less in terror
than our neighbours.

About that time I was busy one morning in the front garden, when a
gentleman in black came in at the gate, and was making up to the hall
door, when, espying me, he stopped, beckoning with his hand, and seeming
to want speech with me. He was muffled in a cloak, and his hat pulled
over his brows, so I could not tell who he was; yet I went to meet him,
and when I was near enough,--

'I think, madam,' says he, in an odd husky voice, 'you have a kinsman
who took his way up to town some weeks ago? I bring news of him;' on
which I begged he would come in and tell it to my sister also; but he
said,--

'There is much sickness in town; I am newly come from it; it were more
prudent for me to speak with you here;' on which I ran and fetched
Althea out; and the man said, 'I do not pretend, madam, that my news is
good news. Your kinsman demeaned himself strangely on his coming up,
denouncing wrath and woe against the poor citizens, speaking much evil
of both Court and City; I am told his civillest name for one was Sodom,
and for the other Gomorrah.'

Here Althea said scornfully, if all tales were true, those names were
fit enough; and the stranger replied, that might be, but civil speech
was best.

'People took your kinsman's preachings very unkindly,' he continued;
'the more so when the Plague he prophesied of began to show itself; then
he was called a sorcerer; and to make a long story short, he was taken
up for a pestilent mad Quaker, and clapt into gaol. I looked on him
there; and in gaol he lies still, and may lie for me.'

With that he plucked his cloak away from his face, and, lifting his hat,
made us a deep, mocking bow, and we saw it was Ralph Lacy; but such a
ghastly change I never saw on any man. His face was livid, his eyes,
deep sunk in his head, glared like coals of fire; and when he began to
laugh, his look was altogether devilish.

'You did not know me, pretty one,' he said to Althea, 'did you? When I
had seen Golding laid in gaol, I swore none but I should bring you the
joyful news; and I can tell you he is worse lodged than even his great
prophet, Fox himself, at whose lodging in Lancaster Castle I looked this
year with great pleasure--very smoky, and wet, and foul it is.'

'Wretch!' said Althea; 'do you exult over the sufferings of harmless,
peaceable men?'

'Harmless and peaceable, quotha?' said he; 'it was one of these
peaceable creatures flung me into the dust like a worm; but the worm
turns, you know. I took much pains to requite that kindness, and now I
cry quits with Master Andrew.'

'Your wickedness shall return on your own head! I pray God it may!'
cries Althea, trembling with indignation.

'Past praying for, madam,' said the reckless wretch, 'for I have the
Plague upon me. I stayed too long up in town, out of love to your friend
and mine. I shall be a dead corpse to-morrow; and why should not you
have the sickness as well as I?'

With that he came towards her, as if to embrace her, when we both
shrieked aloud, and turned to fly; and Matthew Standfast, coming
suddenly between us with a spade uplifted in his hand, bade the
miserable man keep his distance, and asked what he wanted. On which Lacy
said wildly,--

'A grave, man--I want nothing but a grave, and any ditch will furnish me
that,' with which he went away.

Matthew, good man, was troubled when we told him Lacy's words.

'If the wretched fellow have the sickness indeed,' he said, 'he might
die in a ditch for all his own people care;' and that same night he went
to Lacy Manor, inquiring after its master.

It proved that, on leaving the Grange, the man went straight home, and
up-stairs to bed, saying he was weary, and must not be disturbed for an
hour or two; and there he now lay dead. None of the servants had
guessed what ailed him, and they were taken with such a fear they would
not stay to see him buried, but fled, and laid that charge on poor, good
Mr. Stokes, who discharged it with true Christian courage; after which
the Manor was shut up for many a day, till the next heir's covetousness
got the better of his fears. This matter caused great terror; but the
Plague spread no further in our parish, and so the people forgot it
somewhat after a time.

But Althea could not forget Lacy's words about Andrew, nor could I
persuade her they were false tales spoken in pure despite; she brooded
over them, remembering all the tales we had heard of good men's
sufferings in poisonous infected dungeons; and at last she said to me,--

'I wish Lacy had but said in what prison he saw our Andrew; however, it
was in London, Lucy? sure he said London?'

'Ay,' said I, 'that's what he said, if you can pin any faith on the
raving talk of a plague-stricken man.'

'He spoke truth,' said she; 'I am too sure of it. Now there will not be
so many gaols in London town, Lucy, but I can find out where Andrew
lies; and if I cannot have him out, I can supply his wants at least.'

'Althea, Althea, you do not dream of going up?' I cried; 'it were sinful
madness! By all accounts the sickness increases there from day to day;
the poor people die like flies.'

'I care not,' says she; and I found her immoveably set on taking this
journey speedily. She was getting together all the money she could, and
her jewels too, intending to turn them into money if needful; and she
was packing some clothes in very small compass, so as to carry them
herself as she journeyed.

'It is not likely,' she said, 'that I shall find companions on such a
journey. I must learn to be my own servant.'

But I had soon resolved that one companion she should have, and that
should be myself; so, after a few more vain efforts to shake her
resolution, I acquainted her with mine; and with incredible trouble I
got her to agree to it, for I said at last that the roads were as free
to me as to her; if she so disliked my company as she said, she might
take the right side of the way and I would take the left. 'But where
thou goest,' said I, 'there will I go, Althea.'

'Take heed,' she replied instantly, 'that it be not "Where thou diest I
will die, and there will I be buried."'

'So let it be,' I said, 'if it is Heaven's will; but you go not up
alone;' upon which she yielded, saying she had not thought I had so much
sturdiness.

I cannot deny I thought it a mad expedition, though I dreamed not of the
straits into which we have since been driven. But I had prayed again and
again for guidance, and always it grew clearer to me that I must cleave
to my sister. So I made haste to get ready for our wild journey; and
after Althea's example, I sewed certain moneys and jewels into the
clothes I wore, and put a competent sum in my purse. Then came the
telling the Standfasts of our intent. They opposed it at first with all
their might, and no wonder; then, their anxiety about Andrew making them
yield a little, Matthew took his stand on this, that we must have some
protector.

'A man-servant you have at least, or you do not stir,' quoth he.

'But you cannot be spared from this place,' we urged; 'and who else is
there faithful and bold enough for such a service?'

'Leave me alone for that,' said he.

And the evening before our departure he brought to us a strange
attendant indeed, but one who proved most trusty. It was a poor fellow
of the village, who had once been in service at Lacy Manor; but the
young Squire hated him, and got him turned away in disgrace, after which
no man would employ him, and he fell into great wretchedness. But Andrew
came across him, and not only relieved his distress, for he was almost
dead for hunger, but put him in a way of living on his own land. So,
partly for love of Andrew, and partly from true conviction, poor Will
Simpson, so he was called, turned to the Quaker way of thinking. I do
not know if he was acknowledged as a proved Friend, he had some odd
notions of his own. But he showed himself a peaceable, industrious
fellow, and he loved Andrew as a dog might love a kind master that had
saved it from drowning. Indeed there was something very dog-like about
honest Will. Without having any piercing wit, he had a strange sagacity
at the service of those he loved; and his dull heavy face sometimes
showed a great warmth of affection, making it seem almost noble. When
Matthew told him wherefore he was wanted, he was all on fire to go. He
left his hut, and work, and woodman's garb, Matthew having got him a
plain serving-man's suit, in which he looked still a little uncouth; and
thus he came eagerly to us and begged to be taken with us. Then with no
escort but this poor fellow, who, however, knew the road well, and was
strong and sturdy, we set forth on our way up to London, bidding adieu
to none in West Fazeby, as the Standfasts had advised. I believe it was
supposed in the village that we were gone to Mr. Truelocke.



CHAPTER IX.


HOW WE WENT UP TO LONDON, AND FOUND NO FRIENDS THERE.

I hoped little from the first plan on which Althea relied for obtaining
Andrew's release. Her trust was in Mr. Dacre, since he was a great
courtier, and she thought his influence might avail to get one poor
Quaker set free.

'I shall not get his help for nothing,' said she; 'that were an idle
hope. But I know his expenses to be very great, out of proportion to his
means; so if I bring a heavy purse in my hand to interpret between him
and me, I am sure of a kind and favourable hearing.' She was almost gay
while she dwelt on this plan, and it furnished the most of our talk on
the first day or two of our journey.

It was very hot summer weather, a little sultry; yet travelling would
have been pleasant enough had our minds been easy, which they could not
be. It was hard to go fast enough for Althea, Will having to make her
understand it was small wisdom to hurry our horses beyond their
strength; then she went sighing out,--

'Oh for a horse with wings! or could one only ride on the speed of fire!
It will be a week, I dare swear, before we see St. Paul's,' and she
grudged herself time to eat and sleep.

There was nothing very noticeable on the way, but the vast amazement
expressed by all who found that we were going up to London. And as we
got nearer our journey's end, we began to find that the inn-keepers
distrusted us not a little, suspecting us of escaping out of the town,
and making only a false pretence of journeying up to it. Will, however,
was so plainly a blunt, simple fellow, that his word was taken where
ours was doubted.

Now and then we heard news of the war: first there was talk of a great
victory at sea over the Dutch, won the third day of June, at which the
Court and City were rejoicing mightily, half forgetting their home
perils; then came contrary news, how this victory was no victory, but
rather a disgrace to us, and that our ships were shamefully commanded,
which I believe was the truer tale; so my thoughts flew at once to my
Harry and his father. I had writ to Mr. Truelocke about our journey, but
there had been no time for an answer; and I fell to musing what those
two would think of our wild adventure, and wondering if Harry had been
seized for the king's service, like many others; but all was vain
conjecture, and I had to resign them and myself up to God's guidance;
the safest and most blessed way, as I was fast learning; for since Aunt
Golding's death I think a change had come over me; I had learned a true
hate of mine own sins, and had found One in whose sufficiency I could
trust to save me from them, and to guide me in all things. I will not
enlarge on this now, however.

So with hopes and fears, despairing and trusting, the days of travel
wore away; and late in a sultry summer evening we came into London. We
put up for the night at a decent inn, kept by some people named Bell,
which our father had sometimes used when we were with him; the people
remembered him, and were civil to us. My poor sister could scarce sleep
all that night; and the landlady coming herself to wait on us at
breakfast, Althea took occasion to ask her, did she know Mr. John Dacre?
and finding she did, she got from her particular information about his
house, and the way to it, and the hours when he was to be found there;
all which the good woman imparted cheerfully, but could not help pitying
our rashness in coming up to town.

'I live a dying life,' she said, 'for terror of the contagion; I would
never have run into it;' which words we passed over at that time, but
had to call them to mind after.

According to her information, Mr. Dacre rarely stirred from home before
noon; so we set off betimes to find him. Will, walking behind us, looked
about in amaze at the half empty streets, the many closed shops, and
houses uninhabited, and at last, fetching a great sigh, he said,--

'Methinks, mistresses, this whole town looks like a gaol, and the folk
go about like condemned prisoners.'

'Ay,' says Althea; 'but there are worse gaols within this gaol, Will.
Here, the sun shines and the wind blows on us; not so where your master
lies;' and she hastened her steps, which were swift before.

Mr. Dacre's house proved to be a very stately and fair one, towards the
west end of the town; it stood in a broad, very quiet street; too quiet,
I thought. Althea bade Will knock boldly at the door; 'We will not be
too humble,' says she; and he knocked loudly enough, once, twice,
thrice; but no one came to open to us, and our knocking seemed to echo
and re-echo strangely through the house.

'Sure,' says Althea, 'all the folks cannot be asleep; 'tis past ten
o'clock,' and she knocked once more.

There was a gentleman come out of a neighbouring house, who had looked
curiously at us; he now drew near, and, standing a little way off,
called out, 'It is little use to knock at that door, ladies--the master
is dead a week since, and the house stands empty;' at which Althea
turned a deadly pale face to him, saying,--

'Do not mock us--sure, it cannot be so.'

The man, looking compassionately at her, now came up to us and said,
'Nay, my words are too true, madam. Have you any interest in this Mr.
Dacre?'

'I am his cousin,' said Althea, 'and I am come up from the North on
great occasion, to see my kinsman and claim his help.'

'Alas!' said the gentleman; 'he is past rendering help to any. It was
mightily suspected,' said he whisperingly, 'that he died of the Plague;
but your great rich folks can smother these matters up. This is certain,
that he had secret and hasty burial, and all his family are fled and
gone, without so much as locking the door behind them, as it is said;
but I think none have been so bold as to try that; men love their lives
too well to venture within; nor would I advise you to do it.'

'No, no,' said Althea a little wildly; 'I will not take the Plague and
die--not yet; I have work to do;' at which the man smiled pityingly, and
added,--

'You would not find Mr. Dacre here now, were he in life--he designed to
follow the Court, which is removed to Salisbury for safety; but he
lingered about some money matters, which have cost him very dear, as I
think;' and bowing to us he walked hastily away.

Well, we knew not what to do now, and so returned to our inn, where we
sat the rest of the day in the room we had hired, talking over our few
acquaintance in town, but unable to hit on one who would have will and
power to help us much. Our good hostess served us again at supper, and
asked how we sped in our search for Mr. Dacre; so unthinkingly we told
her the whole tale; at which her colour changed and she left the room
without saying a word in answer. That night we slept heavily for very
trouble; so we were not aware of a great stir there was in the night;
for Mrs. Bell, the poor landlady, was taken very ill about midnight, the
maids were called up, and a physician sent for; they had some trouble to
find one; but when he came he told them plainly that her disorder, which
they and she too had feared was the Plague, was nothing but pure terror;
our careless words about Mr. Dacre's death having struck such a fear in
her as to throw her into a kind of fever.

Will told us this news in the morning, and we were grieved at our
foolishness, and wondered at hers; but we had little time for lamenting,
as we were setting forth to visit a distant kinswoman of our father's,
who, being rich and well reputed, we thought might be able to help us.
But here we fared no better,--not that the lady was dead; but she had
gone out of town on the first alarm of the sickness, leaving her house
locked up and empty, as the neighbours told us. So we went back to our
inn yet more cast down; but there we stayed not long, for we were scarce
got to our room when the landlord came to us, very angry, and said, had
he known we had been visiting an infected house, we had never come into
his; and he bade us to pack up and be gone within the hour, that he
might have every place purified where we had come. Our horses, he said,
might stand in his stable; but we saying we would remove them, he spoke
more plainly, and said he should keep them as security for what we owed.
'I will take no money from you,' he said; 'you may have the Plague in
your purses for all I know;' and he left us, saying if we went not
quickly we should be put out by force.

This brutal usage dismayed me; but Althea said, 'Poor wretch! he is half
crazed with fear; that makes mean men cruel; care not for him;' and when
we were ready, giving our packages to Will, she led the way out with a
determined aspect, having, as I soon found, embraced a strange--nay, a
desperate resolution. For Will asking her, 'Which way will ye turn now,
mistress? In _this_ street no inn will open to us, for sure;' she
replied,--

'We will not seek any inn; we will betake ourselves to our cousin's
empty house.'

'You mean not Mr. Dacre's?' I cried.

'But I do,' said she. 'We have a right to shelter there; and the door
is open.'

I exclaimed against this as a tempting of Providence, persuading her
first to try some other house of entertainment; and at last she agreed.
Now, whether our great distraction of mind gave us a haggard and sickly
aspect, or whether 'twas merely the suspicion and hardness of heart bred
in all people by terror, I cannot tell; but no one would take us in,
some saying flatly they would receive no lodgers they did not know, and
know to be sound. The day wearing fast away in these vain applications,
Althea says to me,--

'You see we must try my plan at last. I bid you think scorn, my Lucy, of
yielding to such base fears as make folk turn us from their doors.'

'It is not that I fear infection as they do,' said I; 'but I shrink from
dwelling in a house not our own, and lying open to any thief.'

'Baby fears, Lucy,' she said, smiling. 'We will do our cousins a better
turn than they merit; we will keep their doors fast against thieves, and
their household stuff from moth and mould and rust. For the infection,
we run as little risk in that house as out of it.' So she bore me down
with her will, the more easily since we had no choice but either to
lodge in that house or in the open street.

But Will said sturdily, 'Mistresses, you may do as you will; I will
neither eat nor sleep in that evil house. There is a scent of death and
sin breathing from it; I perceived it as we stood at the door.'

'And will you desert us then, Will?' said Althea. 'Have you come so far,
to forsake us now?'

'Who spoke of forsaking?' growled Will. 'I can find some balk, some
cobbler's stall, without the house, to sleep on, if you will lodge
within. The watch-dog lies not in the house, I trow? But if you must
lodge there, enter not openly, nor let it be known you are within; you
may be suspected for thieves or worse.'

'Yours is no fool's advice,' said Althea shortly.

So we lingered out the time till nightfall in buying some needful
things,--bread and meat and candles,--having to walk far before we found
shops open; then, as night thickened, we stole into the desolate house,
and groped our way to a room at the back, where we lit our candles and
looked about us. 'Twas a richly furnished withdrawing-room, with windows
open on a garden.

'There will I sleep,' said Will. 'I had rather have the free sky over
me than this roof; so give me but a hunch of bread to sup on, and let me
go.'

There was little use in crossing him, so we gave him some meat and
bread; but we prayed his help first to make all the doors fast, which he
willingly did; then he showed us how to secure the window after him, and
so slipt out into the night.

Now we looked at one another, and felt desolate and dismayed for a
moment. Then I said, 'Let us commend our cause to God, sister; He will
hear us;' and we knelt down together and implored the Divine protection;
after which we felt at peace, and so took courage to sup on the food we
had brought. Then we made fast our door on the inside, and lay down to
sleep on the floor, with our mantles for coverlets and our bundles for
pillows. I never slept in such rude fashion, nor ever more sweetly and
soundly.

Early in the morning there came a tapping at the window that wakened me;
so I rose and drew back the curtain, and saw that Will was moving about
in the garden. We let him in shortly, and gave him some food, which he
carried with him out of doors; then, coming back, he excused his
incivility of the night before. 'But I cannot eat nor sleep here,' said
he. 'In all other matters I am your servant.'

He had lodged for the night in an empty dog-kennel, which he showed us,
close against a side-door that led out to the street.

'There,' said he, 'I can do you better watchman's service than if I lay
within; and by that door you may come and go unespied of any gossips.'

Althea smiled, and commended his thoughtfulness. Then she said,--

'You will come with us now, Will? We must examine this house;' so he
stepped in, shuddering, and looking round almost with horror.

However rich the room, it was in great disorder; and when we went
up-stairs we found matters no better--beds half stript, chests and
cabinets left open, floors strewed with things pulled forth in haste and
left there. We pitched on one sleeping-room to the back, to use
ourselves; and, having satisfied ourselves that no evil-disposed person
lay hid in any room, we shut them all up (the keys being left in the
locks) except that sleeping-room, the parlour we had first entered, the
kitchen, and one great room looking to the front, agreeing to use no
other apartments; and to this rule we kept, except when, as I have told,
I went a-hunting for means to write this history.

That work of examining the house was terrible to me, especially when we
looked into Mr. Dacre's own chamber. There we found a mighty rich bed,
with hangings of silk and silver, and all the toilet furniture in silver
also; with couches and cushions richly wrought, and certain splendid
garments, with a jewelled sword, left flung upon them, as if the owner
had just put them off; but all was disordered wildly, as if by the dying
struggles of a madman, and the gorgeousness seemed to add to the horror
of it. I trembled as I looked at the glimmering mirror and thought of
what it might have reflected; our cousin's image seemed to rise up in
all his pride and bravery as I last saw him, but with the ghastly face
of death; so I hurried out and flung the door to behind us, and Althea
turned the key in the lock. After which we avoided passing that way; for
the place was not less dreadful to her than to me; she acknowledged it
made her remember what we had heard of the great burying-pit in Aldgate,
and the dishonoured corpses that were flung into it, heaps upon heaps.

'He may have gone to that grave from this splendid chamber--it's a
hideous mockery,' she said.



CHAPTER X.


HOW WE DWELT IN A HOUSE THAT WAS NOT OUR OWN.

And now Althea began her search after Andrew, with none to help her but
poor me and honest Will. Our chief care being not to be seen going out
or coming in, she chose to steal forth of the back door early in the
mornings; sometimes I with her, sometimes Will, but one of us always
staying in the house to watch it, and to open at nightfall to the
others. Althea went to such shops as she could find open and bought
things, sometimes mere trifles, sometimes food and other necessaries,
but always spending much time over it, and both listening to the talk of
other folk, and drawing the shop-people into talk herself; when she
contrived to work round to the prisons, and the poor souls in them, and
how they fared in these bad times. Once or twice she took a boat and
went up the river, and then was wondrous affable to the watermen,
setting them talking also on the same matters; and thus she did with
every one whom she could draw to speak with her, not disdaining even
beggars, nor fearing the watchmen who guarded houses supposed to be
infected, and therefore shut up. I confess that these last were people I
would gladly have shunned, there being something so awful to me in the
locked doors (marked with a great red cross, and 'Lord, have mercy on
us' writ large upon them) by which the poor fellows sat. But Althea
seemed to have said a long good-bye to fear. And with questioning and
listening, and piecing things together by little and little, she assured
herself that Andrew must be in Newgate, if he lay in any London prison.
She had tried to find out by artful inquiries if any man had shown
himself in London, announcing a coming judgment, and warning people to
avoid it, as Andrew had proposed to do; on which people informed her of
several such persons, but their descriptions answered not to our poor
friend.

One man had cried up and down the streets, 'Yet forty days, and London
shall be destroyed,' after the fashion of the prophet Jonah; and another
had run about by day and by night, naked to the waist, and crying, 'Oh!
the great and dreadful God!' and no other words; which struck a great
terror into all who saw and heard him; and yet a third, who was said to
be a Quaker, acted more strangely; but he was known by name to those who
told about him. Also in all these tales there was something frantic and
unreasonable, not like Andrew, nor like the way he had designed to act.

I think I myself saw one of these strange creatures. It was my turn to
be housekeeper, Althea wanting Will's help to carry her purchases home
that day. Such a solitary day was very dismal and heart-sinking to me;
and had it not been for my plan of writing this history, I know not how
I could have borne it. When it grew dusk I ventured to look out at a
front window to see if my friends were coming; but what I saw was the
light of torches coming up the street, which was the sign of a funeral,
it being ordered that people should only bury at night; and presently
came by a coffin borne of four, and a great many people following; for
it was wonderful how people crowded to funerals at this time, as if
desperate of their lives. They stopt suddenly, to my terror, right in
front of my window; but it was because of another crowd meeting them,
and in its midst a tall man, moving very swiftly, and going straight
before him. He was stript to the waist; and I thought at first that the
hair of his head was all in a flame of fire, but it was a chafing-dish
of burning brimstone that he had set upon his head, and which glared
through the darkness. As he met the coffin he made a stand, and looked
upon it.

[Illustration: 'I think I myself saw one of these strange creatures.']

'Yet one more,' he said, in a deep hoarse voice,--'one more has fallen
in his sins! but ye do not repent. Woe, woe, woe to this unfaithful
city!' and he went on again directly, but continued to cry 'Woe, woe!'
as long as I could hear him; the people running after and around him
could scarce keep up with his swift pace. Those who were bearing and
following the coffin had seemed struck with horror; but now they got
into order again; and I heard one near the window bidding them
sneeringly never to heed a mad Quaker, while another said aloud, 'I
marvel such an evil-boding fool is left at large, when far quieter folks
of his sort lie rotting in prison;' words which made me fain to hear
more; but the men all moved off, and I had scarce seen their torches go
twinkling away into darkness, when I heard the signal at the back door,
and hurried joyfully to let in my friends, who had been delayed by
meeting the funeral; but they had missed the other strange spectacle.

As I remember, this was the second Saturday we spent in town; and here I
may say that almost every Lord's Day which found us in our dismal abode,
we two made our way to some church at a good distance, and there joined
in worship.

I never saw churches more crowded, worshippers more devout, ministers
more fervent. We understood by what we heard that not a few clergymen
were dead of the Plague, and others fled for terror; because of which
certain of the silenced ministers were called on to fill those vacant
pulpits; and they did so while the Plague lasted, with great zeal and
boldness, no man saying them nay. But neither the courage of these men,
nor the fervency with which they preached and visited among the sick and
dying, could so far recommend them to Will that he would set foot in
what he called the steeple-houses; so on the Lord's Day we had to
dispense with his attendance, and this troubled me; but on the other
hand there was comfort in seeing how my poor sister rejoiced in the
ministerings of these faithful men. A great change showed itself in
her; she was full of a new tenderness to me, and was most mild and
patient with poor Will and his odd ways; and as for him, I believe he
would have died for her, or done anything that she desired, except
lodging in Mr. Dacre's house, or worshipping in a church.

Now when Althea had assured herself she must look for Andrew in Newgate
and in no other prison, she set herself to get admission there. 'No lock
so hard,' she said to me, 'but will go with a golden key.'

So she put money enough in her purse. She took Will with her, clad in a
suit fit for a plain country gentleman, for she wished it to be thought
he was one who had power to protect her; and, having found out the
keeper of Newgate, she bought from him at a great price leave to visit
his gloomy wicked kingdom, and to relieve poor creatures lying in it for
conscience sake.

Now, had she relieved all who professed that they were such as she
sought, she might have spent the wealth of both Indies; for it was
shocking how many utter reprobates pressed up to her and to Will,
claiming that they were imprisoned for matters of religion; but their
brazen countenances, that bore the deep impress of their wickedness,
witnessed against them. With great trouble she found out at last a few
of the sort she wanted, and then began to ask for Andrew by name; but no
one seemed to know aught of him; the keeper too professed ignorance of
any such person. But her belief was strong that he lay within those
walls, and she went again and again on the same errand.

Now I could never get her leave to go with her to Newgate. She said at
first that Will, being a man, was more useful to her than I could be;
but afterwards she owned that the prison was so vile and hideous a place
she could not endure I should see it.

'There is no need,' she said, 'for more than one of us to behold such
monstrous evil. 'Tis a society of fiends, Lucy, a training-school for
all vice, and the keeper is worthy of it. I think it is not less than
acted blasphemy to throw good men into it; as well send them alive into
hell. The Lord look upon it, and require it.'

'Are there any of the Friends shut up there?' I asked.

'There have been hundreds, I am told,' she said; 'even now there are too
many, but they die daily of fever and misery;' and she stopped short,
presently saying, 'If I find him not, I will not repent of my search. I
have fed some starving saints already.' So she continued her visits and
her inquiries.

But I began to find it an almost unbearable penance to stay within doors
alone in her absence; I prayed and struggled for composure, but could
not attain it, and at last I said I must go out sometimes to breathe the
air. She warned me of perils awaiting me if I walked abroad by myself,
but I got some poor coarse black clothes that I put on, and a hood to
hide my face; and I sometimes added to these a cloth tied about my neck,
such as I had seen on poor creatures who had sores. It was an artifice,
but I hope not a sinful one; for in this disguise, and contriving to
behave like a sick languishing person, I was more terrible to disorderly
people than they to me, and they kept at a good distance from me. Thus I
took many a walk about the streets; but my chief comfort was only to see
a variety of dismal objects. The street where we dwelt was quite
grass-grown and empty; I do not think there were above two inhabited
houses in it, nor would you see above half a dozen people go through it,
in all the length of the summer's day. Of the passengers that I met
elsewhere, I think two out of every three were poor sickly objects with
sores and plasters upon them; and sometimes it was my luck to meet
coffins of those dead of the sickness; for now there could be no strict
observing of the rule to bury them by night, the number of such funerals
increasing at a frightful rate.



CHAPTER XI.


HOW THERE CAME NEW GUESTS INTO THE HOUSE.

The last day that I ventured out in this foolhardy manner I had a
terrible fright which even now it is distasteful to remember. I was
hurrying to get home, being warned by the darkening light that it was
drawing near Althea's time to return, and, chancing to look behind me as
I turned a corner, I was aware that not many paces from me was a man,
tall and sturdy, who seemed to be following me, his eyes being fixed on
me; and when I turned it seemed to give him a kind of start, for he
looked away, and made as if he would cross to the other side. This
alarmed me, and I quickened my pace from a walk almost into a run,
resolving meanwhile not to look round again; yet I could not resist the
fancy that I heard steps coming after me; and glancing over my shoulder
I was aware of some one at no great distance off; on which I dared look
no more; and, being now very near home, I darted round to the back
entrance; and having got in and made the door fast, I sat down
trembling, to get my breath.

I was still much disquieted, when I heard the joyful sound of Althea's
signal at the back door; I flew to open to her, my hands trembling so I
could hardly withdraw the bolts. But when I got the door open, it was
not Althea who stood without, but that very man whom I had tried to
escape; he stood with his back to the sky, which was red and glowing,
for it was just past sunset; and I saw him to be tall and powerful and
roughly clad, so sunburnt that he might have been a Moor; and a long
scar that ran from his eyebrow half across his cheek gave a strange
fierceness to his look. This was all I could see, his back being to the
light, such as it was. I gave a smothered shriek, and would have shut
the door on him; but he said,--

'Not so hasty, mistress--look at me again, and you will not turn me
away, I think.'

But I still held the door in my hand, and said hastily, 'I can admit no
stranger--you should know this house is infected--what do you seek?' at
which the man's eyes, which I saw to be blue and bright, began to
twinkle, and he said,--

'You will think it odd, madam, but I am come seeking my true love--Lucia
Dacre is her name; do you know aught of her?' with which words he
smiled, and all his face changed in that smile into the face of my own
Harry.

My heart sprang up in sudden rapture; I think, as the play says, it
'leaped to be gone into his bosom,' for there I found myself the next
moment, clasped tight in his arms, and holding him tight enough too,
while I laughed and sobbed, crying out, 'Are you indeed my Harry? am I
so blest beyond all other women? have you come back to me, alive from
the dead?'

'You may say indeed, sweetheart, that I am alive from the dead,' he said
seriously; 'in a double sense I was dead and am alive again. But my tale
must wait for a better time. I am sent before, dear love, to tell you
your sister is coming, and not coming alone.'

'Who is coming with her? any one beside Will? have you come to say she
hath found Andrew? has she indeed?' I cried.

'Ay,' said Harry, 'he is found; but I fear we may lose him again. Have
you here a place, Lucy, here a dying man may lie softly and easily, the
little time he has left? If not, make one ready quickly--but no stairs
for him, remember. I would help you, dear heart,' he said tenderly,
'were it not that I must keep watch here for their coming.'

I turned my lips to his hand, as I unclasped my arms from him; then I
flew to do as he had bidden. I dragged the coverings off our own bed and
hastily spread a couch in that room where we commonly sat; I set lights,
food, cordials in readiness on the table; then I ran back to the door,
half afraid my Harry would have vanished like a dream; but there he was,
watching yet; so I took my place beside him, and loaded him with
questions about the finding of Andrew. I learned he had a large share in
it.

'A poor seaman who loved me,' he said, 'met me this morning when I
landed at Woolwich; and he testified such extravagant joy on seeing me
that I own I half thought him mad.'

'Then what can you think of me?' I put in; at which Harry said,--

'Nay, Lucy, you were ice compared to this poor fellow. He is one that
hath tasted Andrew's bounty, and that not long since; for his wife
sickened of the Plague, and our Andrew at his own cost provided a
physician for her, and many other comforts; and 'tis owing to that, the
man thinks, that she is now sound and well.'

'Where was this?' I said, wondering.

'Here, in London,' said Harry. 'Now close on this woman's recovery came
the seizing of Andrew, and 'tis but lately that the poor grateful sailor
discovered how his benefactor had been lying long in Newgate, where he
was thrown by one Ralph Lacy's procurement.'

'Ah!' I said, 'that wretch! but he has paid for it, Harry. But why could
Althea never find Andrew before?'

'I cannot tell by what devilish prompting it was,' he said, 'that Lacy
bore Andrew and every one else down, that his true name was not Golding,
but Dewsbury--William Dewsbury, as I think; and that he had shifted his
name to avoid prosecution, having been once imprisoned already; and
what our poor friend said to the contrary being slighted as a lie, his
true name has never been given him. So inquiry after him has been
crippled; and not by this means only.'

'But if this sailor be so grateful, why did he not come to our poor
friend's help?' I said indignantly; but Harry said, sighing,--

'A destitute seaman! why, there be throngs of them and their wives
starving in the streets, and cursing the navy officers because they
cannot get their own hard wages. And this was why my poor fellow showed
such frantic joy on seeing me--'twas for love of Andrew; he hurried his
tidings on me, and bade me hasten to the gaol and relieve my friend;
himself going there with me, else I had not sped so well.'

Now how Harry sped at the prison I learnt afterwards; for at this point
his tale was cut short; but I will put the story here, where it seems
fittest.

By great good fortune Althea encountered with Harry and the seaman Ned
Giles at the very gate of the prison, and she soon bought leave to visit
the prisoner called William Dewsbury, who lay under lock and key in a
very filthy cell, and had latterly been denied even bread and water,
because his money being spent he could not satisfy his gaoler's demands.
They found him lying on a heap of mouldy straw; he was miserably wasted,
and to all seeming lifeless; yet they knew him at once for Andrew; and
Harry perceived there was life yet in him. Althea, however, seeing him
lie as if dead, rose into fiery indignation; she turned to the gaoler,
saying, in a terrible voice,--

'See there, murderer! that is your work--the blood of this man shall lie
on your soul for ever--it shall drown you in perdition!' at which he
cowered and shrank ('and well he might,' said Harry), stammering out
'twas an oversight, a pure accident; and she going on to threaten him
with law and vengeance, he asked hurriedly, would not the lady like to
remove the poor man, and give him honourable burial? at which Harry
whispered her, 'Take his offer quickly; say not a word more of revenge;'
and Althea, guessing his meaning, softened her tone a little, and
consented to the man's proposal. 'Get me only a coach,' said she, 'and I
will have this poor lifeless body to mine own home; and I will not
charge you with the murder.'

So they fetched a coach; but the driver, seeing as he thought a dead man
brought out and laid in it, flung down the reins and refused to drive
them.

'I am well used to drive sick folks,' he said (indeed that was now the
chief use of hackney coaches), 'but a corpse I never drove and never
will.'

Althea, however, stepped in herself, and bade Will get on the box and
take the reins; then whispering to Harry, she told him where to find me,
and begged he would prepare me for her coming. 'I shall soon master this
knave's scruples,' she said; 'he is but bringing them to market, and I
am ready to buy them;' and as I suppose, she paid a heavy price for the
use of that coach for an hour, saying her man should drive it to her
house and then return it empty to the coachman.

For while Harry and I stood talking at the door, his tale was broken by
the rumbling of wheels; and the coach coming lumbering up, we perceived
Will to be the driver.

'That is well,' said Harry; 'it will not be known where you dwell.' As
he spoke the coach stopped, and Althea put aside the close-drawn
curtains. She called Harry to her, and said softly,--

'Now help me to lift him, good friend--but be very gentle; he lives, he
speaks, but he is deadly weak;' and with infinite care she and Harry
lifted out a poor shrunken figure that seemed light as an infant in
their arms; and I leading the way they brought it in and laid it on the
couch I had got ready; there Althea, sitting down, drew Andrew's head on
to her bosom, supporting him with her arms, and murmuring tender words
in his ear. Harry stayed to speak a word to Will before he drove off,
and then returning he stood by me a moment and gazed with me at those
two; 'twas a sight to chain one's eyes fast, to see Althea's face, still
heavenly fair in spite of her anguish, bending over Andrew's, which was
livid in colour, all but fleshless, and the eyes deep sunk in their
sockets; yet he smiled, a smile full of a strange radiance; and he moved
his colourless lips, saying something which Althea bent her head very
low to hear; then looking up wildly and seeing Harry,--

'Have you brought a physician?' she cried; 'there is no time to
lose--he is dying for lack of help.'

'That he shall not,' said Harry, who was now knelt beside Andrew, and
offering a cordial to his lips; 'here is no disease but hunger, dear
lady--I have learnt by sharp experience how to minister to that;' and in
two hasty words he bade me go and warm some broth, of which luckily I
had told him; so I went quickly.

Now when I came back I saw there was more company in the room; for Will
had come in, and with him a man and woman; but I did not note them much,
for it seemed to me that Andrew was swooning, his eyes being closed. But
Harry took the broth from me and began to feed Andrew with it; and at
the warm scent of the food he revived a little. It charmed me to see the
tender skill which my Harry showed in his ministerings. As I stood
looking on, the woman came up to me, and with a sort of simple grace let
me know who she was; 'twas Mary, the wife of Ned Giles, the seaman, and
the man with her was Giles himself.

'You will forgive us, madam,' she said, 'for thrusting our company on
you unbidden; it's for love of this your kinsman we come, Mr. Truelocke
having sent us word we could be useful about him.'

'Kay,' I said, 'never ask forgiveness for such goodness; do you know
this house is reputed to be infected?' but she said, smiling,--

'Madam, I who was all but dead of the Plague not long since have little
fear of it left.'

While she spoke I saw that Harry was urging something on Althea, who was
still sitting at Andrew's head; she answered at last, 'As you will. I
may not gainsay you;' and yielded up her place to that good woman, who
came eagerly to take it when Harry called her.

'Now go and rest awhile till we call you--you have need,' Harry said to
us; but Althea, as if she heard him not, stood looking down on Andrew
and his nurse.

'Does God forget His own?' she muttered; 'is this the reward of His
servants? chains, cruelty, starvation?'

Andrew must have caught her words, for he half raised his head, and his
languid eye brightened.

'Dear heart,' he said feebly, 'thou knowest little yet. Thou hast seen
my prison, thou didst not see the Heavenly Guest who made it a heaven
to me; thou hast seen me lacking bread, thou knowest nought of the
angels' food with which He fed me.'

As he said this he sank down again, but Mary Giles caught him in her
arms; and Harry said imperiously to Althea and me,--

'Leave him to us; it is best he should not speak; get you to your own
rest, you need to renew your strength; so we went meekly enough, Althea
saying when we were in our sleeping-room,--

'Harry hath got the trick of command very perfect, that's certain; and I
may say, Lucy, I am weary at last of ruling over you and Will; it's not
amiss there is one here who has a mind to rule me instead.'

Then we knelt down together and gave thanks for the great mercy of the
day; and we implored passionately that the life of Andrew should be
given back to us. Althea at the end of our prayer still remained
kneeling; then beginning to weep she sobbed out, 'I think, I hope, I can
say, "His will be done," but oh, 'tis hard, Lucy!' And she was so torn
and shaken with her passion that I thought she would take no rest that
night. But in five minutes after our heads touched the pillow we were
both sleeping soundly: and we woke not till there came a knocking at our
door, very early in the morning, and Will's voice praying us to descend
and take some food.



CHAPTER XII.


HOW WE SAILED FOR FRANCE IN THE 'MARIE-ROYALE.'

We found our friends where we had left them; the grey dawn glimmering in
at the window showed us Andrew lying in a quiet slumber; and he looked
nothing so death-like as the night before. But the others appeared
haggard and weary, as well they might; for none of them had slept a wink
the night through. Yet joy spoke from the poor wan faces of Mary Giles
and her husband. They had helped in the tending of Andrew with wonderful
skill and care, and now they were rejoicing in a good hope that he would
yet recover.

There was a meal spread, of which they had already partaken; and we were
now bidden to sit and eat also, as quickly as we might. It was Harry who
gave us these orders, with a stern anxious look, which daunted me a
little. When we had eaten,--

'Now leave us with our friend, ladies,' he said, 'and gather all
together in readiness to depart; this house shall not hold us another
hour;' and Althea hesitating, and saying Andrew was hardly in case to
depart, 'That knave gaoler,' he said, 'who had hid Andrew from you so
long, had strong reasons for doing it; is there no fear, think you, that
he may suspect there was life in the dead man whom we removed? Would you
have our practice detected and the prisoner seized again?'

It did not need more to set wings to Althea's feet; so we made haste and
gathered up all our belongings, and came down again with our bundles
packed and our travelling suits donned, long ere the hour was passed.

Yet for all our haste, we found they had made better speed than we.
There stood a coach waiting, into which they had already lifted Andrew;
he was muffled in a long cloak that I had flung off the night before.
The two Gileses had him in their care, and Will was again acting as
driver (I believe 'twas the very coach of the previous night); he was
taking Harry's orders as to driving at a very soft pace to the nearest
stairs, 'where,' said Harry, 'we will meet you; these ladies will walk
with me.'

We saw them drive off; then I made fast the outer door, and Harry took
the key from me, and flung it over the wall into the garden.

'Let any find it who list,' said he. 'I thank God we are quit of the
hideous place. How you have endured to dwell there day and night passes
my comprehension.'

'Why,' said I, 'is it not a glorious rich house?'

'A house of sin and pride and death,' said he, 'I grant you.'

'You are of Will's mind,' says Althea; 'he never would eat or sleep in
it.'

'If that be Will's mind,' said he, 'I approve his wisdom. And now, hey
for Father Thames and his silver streams, and the sweet salt air of the
sea! Here, take my arm, fair lady,' he said to Althea as we went along;
'I have my doubts of your obedience--Lucy I can trust to come with me of
free will.' So she took his arm, and said, smiling faintly,--

'At least indulge me so far as to tell us whither we are bound?'

'You heard me say,' he answered, stepping on briskly, 'to the nearest
stairs; I have a boat ready there, and we will slip down the river to a
ship I wot of that lies near Woolwich. I own,' he went on, 'it's a
mighty risk to run, with Andrew in such a feeble case; yet I see no
better way.' And in hasty words he told us how poor was our chance of
getting clear away from the plague-stricken city by land.

'London is something of a mouse-trap now,' said he, 'or a lion's den, if
you like a statelier image; the way in is easy enough, but the way out
is more difficult than the steep and thorny path to heaven. Every town
and village we should come to would rise against us with hue and cry,
and drive us back to the city, to perish there; so cruel are men become
through fear of the contagion.'

Althea's pale cheek grew paler as she listened; and she said, 'Alas, my
Lucy! into what a snare have I brought you! and all through pride and
self-will.'

'Nay, sweet sister,' said I, 'do not miscall your compassion, and the
daring of your spirit, which led you here.'

'There was pride and wilfulness in it too,' said she; 'and look what a
rebuke Heaven gives me! it is not I that rescue Andrew; it is Harry and
poor Giles.'

'Tut, tut!' said Harry; 'do not abuse yourself overmuch. You had found
Andrew long since, but for the evil mind of Ralph Lacy, who had bought
yon keeper with a mighty bribe, and commanded that Andrew should be kept
out of sight, if ever you made inquiry after him.'

This piece of intelligence struck us silent till we got to the stairs,
going down which we found a roomy boat awaiting us, in which were
already the rest of our little company, except Will; and he appearing
before we were well settled in our places, sprang in after us, and said
joyfully, as he took an oar,--

'That coachman had fain learnt from me who it was I had carried down to
the river; but I can be deaf upon occasion;' from which I gathered that
he had been commissioned to restore the coach to its owner.

The sun came up as we began to glide down the stream, and a million
little sparkling waves flashed back his reflection as we rowed on; which
was the only cheerful part of the scene, I thought; for all our company
were grave and silent, and Andrew, though the calmest of us, looked so
like death that I could find no pleasure in his peaceful aspect.

And the river itself, which I had formerly seen so gay with all kinds of
craft, watermen plying up and down constantly, and great sea-going ships
coming and going, and lesser vessels crowding the noble stream, now
seemed as desolate as the town that lay on its banks; only as we went on
we came to many ships lying at anchor, by two and two; sometimes two or
three lines of these ships lay in the breadth of the river, and as we
threaded our way between them, men, women, and children came and looked
over the sides at us.

I was glad to break the silence that had settled on us, and I asked what
was the reason of these long rows of ships being thus moored idly near
the shores? on which the good Mary Giles, who had again the office of
supporting Andrew, speaking softly, told me how they were the refuge of
many hundreds of families, fled out of London, who hoped in this way to
escape the contagion.

'I do not know,' she said however, 'that they do always escape as they
hope. Many a device did I practise myself to keep myself whole and
sound, and some mighty foolish ones; but it pleased the Lord to drive me
from all those refuges of lies, and to show me that He only can kill and
make alive. To my thinking, a fearless, believing heart is the best
charm against the Plague.'

'Ay,' says Harry; 'that is the best charm doubtless. But we shall find
it not amiss to keep our dwellings cleaner and sweeter here in England;
with faith and courage and cleanliness, we might defy the foul fiend
Pestilence. You shall not find that it makes so great ravages, even
among the Dutch.' With that he bit his lip, as though a secret had
escaped him; however no one but myself noted him; and the others now
began to talk more freely; and Mrs. Giles from time to time bestirred
herself about nourishment for Andrew, which Harry had been careful to
provide; he said a man so nigh dead of hunger must have food often, but
in small quantities. So our party grew cheerfuller, ever as the stream
grew broader, and we began to breathe the salt breeze that blew inland.

We ventured to question Harry about the ship that would receive us; and
he said she was a French merchant-ship, and the captain a great friend
of his, a good Protestant, who was willing to take on board any company
he should bring.

'I hoped,' said I, 'it might have been the _Good Hope_.'

'Alas for my poor _Good Hope_!' said he; 'she went to pieces in a mighty
storm, on the hard-hearted coasts of Africa; and such of my brave
fellows as were not drowned were seized for slaves by the barbarous
people of Algiers.'

'And you, Harry, what was your lot?' I cried.

'The lot of a slave for many a day,' said he briefly. 'It is thanks to
my good friend Captain Maret, who will soon receive us, that I have ever
seen my country again.'

I would gladly have asked more, but I saw he was little inclined to
talk; and after he had said, 'The ship we are going to board is called
the _Marie-Royale_,' he fell again into a silence; but the rest of us
continued to keep up some sort of talk, till we got down by Woolwich;
and this seemed to help our courage a little,--I mean Althea's and mine,
especially when Andrew would say a few words, as he began to do, in a
way that showed reviving strength.

Now I had never gone by sea anywhere, and all my sailing had been in
wherries on the Thames; so I was not free from some childish fear when
we came beside the _Marie-Royale_, and saw her black sides rising high
and steep above us; but joy sat on every other face in our little
company; and Harry's voice was gay once more as he shouted an answer to
Captain Maret, who came and hailed us from above. 'Twas a matter of some
difficulty to get Andrew safely hoisted on deck; yet they did it without
giving too rude a shock to his enfeebled frame. I confess, when it came
to my turn to mount, I shut my eyes for fear, and never opened them till
I found Harry's arm about me, and a firm footing under me; and I heard
his voice merrily mocking me for a poor little fool, who was ready to
swoon at fancied perils, and was reckless of real ones. So then I looked
abroad again, and seeing myself encircled with all our company, who
were smiling at my terrors, while the dark, kindly face of the captain
beamed a welcome on me,--I laughed first, and then wept; and then
clasping my hands began to thank and praise God for our good
deliverance, as if I were in an ecstasy; but now no one laughed at me,
but heads were uncovered, and eyes cast down in thankful prayer also,
all around me; the French sailors who had helped us to come aboard
showing themselves not less reverent than our handful of English, and
indeed appearing to be much moved. Then Andrew, who stood supported by
the arms of Ned and Mary Giles, looked smiling at me, and said, in his
feeble voice,--

'Thou shamest me much, my sister Lucy; I who was deepest in peril ought
to have been foremost in praise;' and Harry replied bluntly,--

'Till you know something of the dangers these ladies have run, you need
not be more grateful than they; but your further thanks must be rendered
in your cabin, where I long to have you lodged before we get under
weigh.'

'That shall be soon,' said the captain. 'We have but stayed for your
coming; and see! the wind has shifted since we sighted you, and blows
fair for our departing.'

He moved away as he spoke and began giving his orders; while Harry
marshalled us down to our cabins, saying gaily, 'Ay, the merry wind
blows from the land now; 'twas against us as we rowed, and I had my
fears; but all's well that ends well--the Lord be praised therefor!'

'Tell us whither this kind wind is to blow us?' I asked, and he saying,
'So it is not enough for you to be with me where I go?' I answered
boldly, 'By no means;' on which, laughing, he said, 'I will talk with
you soon, sweetheart, on that point and many others; but now let us look
to Andrew.' So I and my curiosity had to wait awhile; for when Andrew
and his faithful nurses were settled below, Harry went on deck; and I
sat by Althea, something sick at heart for all my joy, while, with many
strange noises of rattling and creaking and trampling overhead, our ship
shook out her great wings and spread them for flight. But at last the
water slipping past our cabin windows showed we were standing out to
sea; and then came Harry and sat down beside us. Andrew had fallen
asleep, and Giles and his wife sat watching him a little way off; so
there was nothing to break in on Harry's story.

'Now first of all, my Lucy,' said he, 'you must know whither we are
bound; 'tis to Calais, for there is Captain Maret due, and over-due,
having come to Woolwich only for my sake, and yours, as it hath proved.
Then at Calais I have intelligence that we shall find a ship bound for
Hull, by which we may go thither, and so home to our father in the
Dales.'

'Do you know,' I said, 'I suspected your design to be for Holland?'

'Well,' said he, 'I had such a thought for Andrew. There be friends in
that country, with whom he might be sheltered till England should be
safe for him once more. But it dislikes me to have dealings with any
country at war with mine own--mad and wicked though the war be on our
part.'

'All England is gone mad and wicked, I think,' said Althea; 'for my
share I care not much if I never see it more.'

'You will change that thought, I hope,' said he. 'But now, my Lucy, I
have a request and a petition to you. Captain Maret will bring us at
Calais to a clergyman of the English Church whom he knows there; will
you consent for the good man to join our hands? 'tis long since our
hearts were knit, I trow.'

'What are you asking of her?' said Althea; 'should not such a marriage
be celebrated on English ground?'

'So it shall,' said he; 'for we will be wedded on board the ship that
shall take us to Hull; and her planks, being those of an English vessel,
are reckoned English ground. Now, what says my dear heart?' and as I
blushed and stammered, 'I warrant you,' said he, 'Lucy is struck dumb at
my presumption in talking of wedlock, my good ship being gone to wreck,
and I myself newly loosed from slavery.'

'Harry!' I cried, 'how dare you think so meanly of me? I who have been
delighting in the thought of pouring all my little wealth at your feet,
and bidding you freight a new ship with it; but perhaps you are too
proud--you will refuse it?'

'Nay, I refuse neither it nor thee, my Lucy,' he said, 'the less because
I can counterpoise my darling's little purse with something weightier.'
And he told us briefly how in his captivity he had risen very high in
his Moorish master's favour, having had the good fortune to save the
man's life at the risk of his own.

'There were two rascals set on my master to murder him, for certain
precious jewels that he wore,' said he; 'and I had the luck to lay them
both low, though I got this little remembrance first from the fiercest
of them,' touching as he spoke the scar upon his cheek. 'And with that
stroke,' he went on, 'I purchased my freedom, and something more; for
the Moor conferred on me freely those gems that the thieves had coveted;
they are worth a little fortune. After this my only care was to find a
ship to bring me home; of which I was almost in despair, when the good
Maret came to my rescue, which he effected with great skill and
boldness. Nor do I know how I could have got you clear of London, but
for his readiness to help me once again.'

This was Harry's history, which he made very dry and short; for he hates
to dwell on his own doings or sufferings. I have got from him since many
particulars of the story, and I think it were more worthy of pen and
ink than this poor tale of our homely joys and sorrows, but he thinks
not so; and it is at his bidding I have written all this last part,
telling how he brought us safely out of London.



CONCLUSION.


HOW LUCIA DWELLS IN ENGLAND, AND ALTHEA OTHERWHERE.

There is little more to write now. I did not care to cross Harry's wish
in the matter of our wedding, to which both the good Mary Giles and
Althea herself urged me to consent; only I had always hoped that my
father Truelocke himself should join our hands; and when I whispered
this to Harry, he said, 'If you cannot be content without it,
sweetheart, my father shall marry us over again when we get to
Dent-dale. But I will not go back to England till I can call you wife.'

So my last defence fell; and wedded we were on board the _Diamond_, a
good English ship that we found lying at Calais, according to Harry's
intelligence. I did not forget that promise of his, and in due time I
held him to it; but before I wind up mine own story I will relate that
of my sister; for our lives, that have run so long in one channel, are
divided now, since Althea sailed not with us to England; and I will show
the reason presently.

That imagination which Harry had once entertained of Andrew's passing
into Holland and being safe there as an exile proved to be no impossible
device, in spite of the war between the English and the Dutch. For while
we still lay at Calais in the _Marie-Royale_ (I must ever admire her
captain's courage in taking us poor fugitives on board, even though
Harry was warrant for our soundness), there came letters from certain
Friends called Derricks, of the Dutch nation. They had heard of Andrew's
strange escape from prison, I wot not by what means; for the Friends
have their own ways of learning news of one another. These good people
willed him to go make his home under their roof in Amsterdam; and he was
very fain to seek that shelter, being exceedingly weary in spirit, as
one half spent with toil and grief; only two things held him back. The
one was his love for our dear and cruel country England, which made him
shrink from dwelling in a land at enmity with her; and the other was my
sister. Now the first scruple Harry overcame thus.

'You needs must dwell in some foreign land,' he said, 'for England is
altogether unsafe for you. Should you choose France, as Captain Maret
would have you, you choose a land chiefly Papist, and now full of
oppression; and my life on it, there will be war between France and
England this very winter,' a saying which proved too true. 'So the
balance must dip in favour of Holland, a Protestant country, where you
shall live under just laws and among faithful friends who believe as you
do. Is not this worth weighing, brother?' and Andrew said, 'It is,' but
yet he hesitated; and I needed not the sight of his questioning look at
Althea, nor of her dropt eyelids and whitening cheek, to guess the
reason of his hesitation.

The next morning after we had this talk, Harry, Althea, and I were sat
idly on deck, basking in the sunshine, and drinking the sweet air, while
we watched the sailors at work; when we saw Andrew come feebly towards
us, at which we sprang up surprised, for he had not heretofore risen so
early, because of his great weakness. Althea would have had him rest on
the cushions from which we had risen, but saying, 'I would rather stand
awhile,' he leaned on Harry's shoulder for support; and indeed he looked
deathly when his white and wasted face was seen beside Harry's
countenance, all bronzed with sun and wind, and glowing with health and
life.

'Althea Dacre,' he said, looking steadily at her, 'I have sought all
night long for a light on the path I must now take; and a word is ever
in my ears, "Speak to the maiden thou lovest, her word shall lead thee!"
Thou knowest I were loth to part from thee, who hast sought me and spent
thyself for me--and more loth to think that we are parted in spirit. Yet
if thy heart be not as my heart towards God, we must be parted now and
ever. I implore thee, speak the perfect truth to me, and do not colour
or change it.'

'And I will speak truth,' she said proudly, 'as if I stood before an
angel of God; and it shall not grieve you. Andrew Golding, thy people
shall be my people, and thy God my God. The Church that I dreamed of,
the Church I would have died for, was not a Church stained with innocent
blood. I will cast in my lot, now and for ever, with the only Christian
people that have never persecuted another--the only one, I verily
believe, that follow whithersoever the Master leads.'

At this Andrew's pallid face glowed as if a clear flame shone through
it; he stretched out his hands to Althea, and she gave him both hers,
continuing to say,--

'And what is my native land to me? it is filled with violence and
madness; I fear 'tis accursed of God; I am willing to find my fatherland
wherever you find a home.'

She turned with a defying look towards us; at which Harry began to
laugh, and said, 'How about the rose I had one night from Mistress
Althea Dacre? it is a rose yet--dry and faded truly; but it has not
turned into a nettle.'

'Be generous,' she said, blushing; 'do not remind me of that; I spoke of
it in the days of my folly. I have been taught the plague of my own
heart since, by many a sharp lesson.'

'Well,' said Harry, 'I may truly say the same of myself. It hath pleased
God,' he said reverently, 'to bring me to Himself through suffering. I
trusted overmuch to my own heart; and not till I was stript of all, a
beggar and a slave, did I learn mine own vileness and weakness, and
Christ's all-sufficiency. I thank Him for the teaching. And I think my
Lucy hath gone through the same school; is it not so, sweetheart?' and
I murmured an assent.

'Not one of you,' said Andrew, 'has been so poor a pupil at that
learning as I; but I think my many stripes have surely beaten it into my
hard heart at last, and that I have mastered my task once and for ever.'

'Then,' quoth Harry, 'we are all on one footing so far, and we may thank
Heaven for it. But I cannot fall in with you in your condemning of other
Churches, and the Church of England chiefly. She is not disowned of God,
not quite gone astray from Him; there is in her, I must think, a seed of
life and holiness.'

'Your father went out from her notwithstanding,' says Althea; 'and in my
mind he did well, though I was fool enough to condemn him at the time.'

'With your leave,' says Harry, 'I think he was driven out, because of
those nice and subtle points of doctrine, that our rulers cruelly
enforced, and he could not honestly assent to. But I have heard him say,
'tis his firm persuasion that out of this misgoverned English Church
there shall yet rise great good, and marvellous blessings, to the land
and the world. And in that hope I shall cleave to it with all its
faults; and so I trust will my wife;' to which I had nothing to say but
blushing. Andrew, however, was troubled.

'I fear thou art in perilous error, kind and good Harry,' said he. 'But
let every one be fully persuaded in his own mind.'

'That am I,' said Althea promptly, on which he smiled again; and the two
falling into talk about their own concerns, we charitably left them to
it; for now it was well understood among us that they would wed at the
earliest opportunity.

It was a pretty sight to see the new humility they practised towards
each other. Andrew, being now fully acquainted with my sister's efforts
on his behalf, seemed to look on her as a protecting angel; but she,
regarding him as a saint and a martyr, knew not how to show enough
reverence to him. Also her high courage failed her sometimes, and she
would cling to the good Mary Giles like a timid child to its mother;
Mary on her part showing the same tenderness for her that her husband
displayed to Andrew. These good people, with Will, kept them company
when they departed for Amsterdam, which thing was a marvellous comfort
to Harry and me; and shortly we had news how the lovers were married,
after the Quaker fashion, and were in a happy way to be settled in that
city. They dwell there still. The good honest Standfasts have power from
Andrew to manage his lands for him, which they do faithfully; and the
moneys due to him therefrom being privily conveyed to him, maintain him
and his wife in comfort, nor them alone, but many poor and pious souls
who are their pensioners.

And now, our companions being gone, it might have been thought that I
should feel a great lack of them, especially when the _Diamond_ loosed
from port and bore us away with her. But I could feel nothing save joy
and gratitude, more especially when I thought of the heavy and dreadful
summer that lay behind me; and I was possessed with a great longing to
see my father Truelocke once more. Harry had got word conveyed to him of
his safety, and of our approaching journey; and sure I am his thoughts
flew to meet our thoughts on the way, as we drew nearer and nearer. But
I want words to express the tenderness of our meeting together, when at
last my Harry and I beheld that venerable face again. There are some
joys that cannot be told.

We have made our home with him in Dent-dale; for there Harry hath bought
a little farm, with a pretty odd farmhouse belonging thereto; and our
father lives with us, well content, and in great peace. For no
squabblings about ecclesiastical matters ever trouble the quiet of our
sweet mountain solitude. There is a little lonely church in the Dale,
where a good simple-hearted pastor ministers; and there can we worship
in a homely and hearty fashion; nor does the pastor take it ill that Mr.
Truelocke keeps aloof from the prayers, but respects his scruples, and
reveres his character. For proof thereof, I did not cease urging on
Harry his careless promise, that our union should have our father's
blessing on it; and the good pastor falling in with my whim, prevailed
on Mr. Truelocke to remarry us very privately in the little church I
spoke of, he himself assisting. 'Twas a foolish fancy, I wot, but I was
not easy till I had it gratified. And it is now my constant hope that
Harry will never put to sea again, but will be content to plough the
kindly earth and gather in her fruits, instead of furrowing the barren
cruel waves; sure he has had enough of strange adventures. Yet I fear
him sometimes, when little work is stirring; then he is so restless that
even in his dreams he will talk of seafaring; I think, however, he will
wander no more, so long as our father lives.

We get letters from Althea and her husband, at rare intervals indeed;
but then they are long and ample. And it is a marvel how stiffly Althea
now stands for all the points of the Quaker doctrine, which formerly she
so abhorred and contemned.

Not many days since there reached me a long letter from her, in which
she told me indeed a great deal of news, and also expressed a wonderful
sisterly affection; but the burden of it was her disquietude because of
my religious errors. She was very earnest with me upon the sin and
danger of conforming to the world, in dress, and speech, and deportment.

There were things in this letter which really troubled me, so I carried
it to Mr. Truelocke; and when he had read it, I asked his opinion,
whether Christian folk were bound to observe such strictness as Althea
now advocates and practises? at which, softly smiling, he said,--

'"Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, To
visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself
unspotted from the world." I think thou art not far from exemplifying
that pure religion in thine own life, daughter; so I trust does thy
sister; but I think her not more free from world-spots than thee,
because she perchance goes clad in grey, and thou in scarlet;' for I had
a new red cloak and hood upon me. 'This,' he said, touching the cloak
lightly, 'is no stain of scarlet sin, 'tis honest dye-stuff, Lucy.'

'It might make me vain and proud to go gaily, might it not?' I said.

'When it has that effect, child, renounce it as a snare,' he replied. 'I
think thou art not over gay as yet, for a young wife, with a true-love
husband to please.'

'But besides these things,' I said, 'there are others more serious. See
how my sister cries out against all set forms of worship, even to the
singing of hymns; and how she accounts even the outward visible forms of
the two great sacraments as having something of the nature of an idol
that we sinfully adore. All should be spiritual and inward, according to
her, and to other Friends; and I do not myself understand how that can
be.'

''Tis a great truth that they uphold,' said he musingly, 'yet I cannot
see that it includes all truth. For my own share, I still hold fast to
my opinions; they commend themselves to my reason as strongly as ever. I
should lie, did I deny them. And yet from my very heart I agree with
the Friends in prizing the spirit above the letter. And I hope, my
daughter,' he went on, while a smile trembled on his lips, 'that a day
will yet dawn when all Christian men shall agree so heartily as touching
the deep and vital truths of their faith, that they may be content to
differ as to the visible ceremonial garment that their faith may wear.
But that will not be in my day, Lucy, nor, I fear much, in thine. Let us
hope and pray for its coming; and let us rejoice meanwhile and give
thanks for our safety here from the strife of tongues, for the peace and
rest we are allowed to share in this corner of the earth; so far are we
happy above many.'

And I am only too glad to obey his word, and to fare like a bird of the
air that is fed by God's daily bounty, without care for the morrow. Nor
will I trouble myself any more about this nice point of doctrine and
that, laying on myself a burden that God never gave me. Has He not given
me His own peace; and with it more of earthly bliss than ever my heart
dared hope for? And were I even less happy in my lot, I ought all my
life to praise Him for His hand over us for good, while we dwelt in that
City of the Plague. I have heard with infinite satisfaction, how, since
this cold winter weather came on, the sickness is mightily abated, and
men hope it is passing away. But it hath swept off, say they, not less
than a hundred thousand souls in one fatal year; and what were we, that
we should escape? It is all of the Lord's goodness, and His pity to our
rashness.





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