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Title: Rob of the Bowl, Vol. I (of 2) - A Legend of St. Inigoe's
Author: Kennedy, John P.
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.

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ROB OF THE BOWL:

A LEGEND OF ST. INIGOE'S.


BY THE AUTHOR OF "SWALLOW BARN," "HORSE-SHOE ROBINSON," &c.


    _Daniel._ Quot homines tot sententiæ.

    _Martin._ And what is that?

    _Daniel._ 'Tis Greek, and argues difference of opinion.

                                            _John Woodvil._


IN TWO VOLUMES.

VOL. I.


PHILADELPHIA:
LEA & BLANCHARD.
SUCCESSORS TO CAREY & CO.
1838.

Entered according to the act of Congress, in the year 1838, by
LEA & BLANCHARD,
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the United States,
in and for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania.

I. ASHMEAD AND CO., PRINTERS.



PREFACE.


The tale related in the following pages refers to a period in the
history of Maryland, which has heretofore been involved in great
obscurity,--many of the most important records connected with it having
been lost to public inspection in forgotten repositories, where they
have crumbled away under the touch of time. To the persevering research
of the accomplished Librarian of the State--a gentleman whose
dauntless, antiquarian zeal and liberal scholarship are only surpassed
by the enlightened judgment with which he discharges the functions of
his office--we are indebted for the rescue of the remnant of these
memorials of by-gone days, from the oblivion to which the carelessness
of former generations had consigned them. Many were irrecoverable; and
it was the fate of the gentleman referred to, to see them fall into
dust at the moment that the long estranged light first glanced upon
them.

To some of those which have been saved from this wreck, the author is
indebted for no small portion of the materials of his story. In his
endeavour to illustrate these passages in the annals of the state, it
is proper for him to say that he has aimed to perform his task with
historical fidelity. If he has set in harsher lights than may be deemed
charitable some of the actors in these scenes, or portrayed in
lineaments of disparagement or extenuation, beyond their deserts, the
partisans on either side in that war of intolerance which disfigured
the epoch of this tale, it was apart from his purpose. As a native of
the state he feels a prompt sensibility to the fame of her Catholic
founders, and, though differing from them in his faith, cherishes the
remembrance of their noble endeavours to establish religious freedom,
with the affection due to what he believes the most wisely planned and
honestly executed scheme of society which at that era, at least, was to
be found in the annals of mankind. In the temper inspired by this
sentiment, these volumes have been given to the public, and are now
respectfully inscribed to THE STATE OF MARYLAND, by one who takes the
deepest interest in whatever concerns her present happiness or ancient
renown.

THE AUTHOR.

BALTIMORE, Dec. 1, 1838.



ROB OF THE BOWL.

A LEGEND OF ST. INIGOES.



CHAPTER I.

    No more thy glassy brook reflects the day,
    But choked with sedges, works its weedy way;
    Along thy glades a solitary guest,
    The hollow-sounding bittern guards its nest;
    Amidst thy desert walks the lapwing flies,
    And tires their echoes with unvaried cries.
    Sunk are thy bowers in shapeless ruin all,
    And the long grass o'ertops the mould'ring wall.

    THE DESERTED VILLAGE.


It is now more than one hundred and forty-four years since the ancient
capital of Maryland was shorn of its honours, by the removal of the
public offices, and, along with them, the public functionaries, to
Annapolis. The date of this removal, I think, is recorded as of the
year of grace sixteen hundred and ninety-four. The port of St. Mary's,
up to that epoch, from the first settlement of the province,
comprehending rather more than three score years, had been the seat of
the Lord Proprietary's government. This little city had grown up in
hard-favoured times, which had their due effect in leaving upon it the
visible tokens of a stunted vegetation: it waxed gnarled and crooked,
as it perked itself upward through the thorny troubles of its
existence, and might be likened to the black jack, which yet retains a
foothold in this region,--a scrubby, tough and hardy mignon of the
forest, whose elder day of crabbed luxuriance affords a sour comment
upon the nurture of its youth.

Geographers are aware that the city of St. Mary's stood on the left
bank of the river which now bears the same name (though of old it was
called St. George's,) and which flows into the Potomac at the southern
extremity of the state of Maryland, on the western side of the
Chesapeake Bay, at a short distance westward from Point Lookout: but
the very spot where the old city stood is known only to a few,--for the
traces of the early residence of the Proprietary government have nearly
faded away from the knowledge of this generation. An astute antiquarian
eye, however, may define the site of the town by the few scattered
bricks which the ploughshare has mingled with the ordinary tillage of
the fields. It may be determined, still more visibly, by the mouldering
and shapeless ruin of the ancient State House, whose venerable
remains,--I relate it with a blush--have been pillaged, to furnish
building materials for an unsightly church, which now obtrusively
presents its mottled, mortar-stained and shabby front to the view of
the visiter, immediately beside the wreck of this early monument of the
founders of Maryland. Over these ruins a storm-shaken and magnificent
mulberry, aboriginal, and cotemporary with the settlement of the
province, yet rears its shattered and topless trunk, and daily distils
upon the sacred relics at its foot, the dews of heaven,--an august and
brave old mourner to the departed companions of its prime. There is yet
another memorial in the family tomb of the Proprietary, whose
long-respected and holy repose, beneath the scant shade of the
mulberry, has, within twenty years past, been desecrated by a worse
than Vandal outrage, and whose lineaments may now with difficulty be
followed amidst the rubbish produced by this violation.

These faded memorials tell their story like honest chroniclers. And a
brave story it is of hardy adventure, and manly love of freedom! The
scattered bricks, all moulded in the mother-land, remind us of the
launching of the bark, the struggle with the unfamiliar wave, the array
of the wonder-stricken savage, and the rude fellowship of the first
meeting. They recall the hearths whose early fires gleamed upon the
visage of the bold cavalier, while the deep, unconquerable faith of
religion, and the impassioned instincts of the Anglo-Saxon devotion to
liberty, were breathed by household groups, in customary household
terms. They speak of sudden alarms, and quick arming for battle;--of
stout resolve, and still stouter achievement. They tell of the victory
won, and quiet gradually confirmed,--and of the increasing rapture as,
day by day, the settler's hopes were converted into realities, when he
saw the wilderness put forth the blossoms of security and comfort.

The river penetrates from the Potomac some twelve miles inland, where
it terminates in little forked bays which wash the base of the woody
hills. St. George's Island stretches half across its mouth, forming a
screen by which the course of the Potomac is partly concealed from
view. From this island, looking northward, up St. Mary's river, the eye
rests upon a glittering sheet of water about a league in breadth,
bounded on either shore by low meadow-grounds and cultivated fields
girt with borders of forest; whilst in the distance, some two leagues
upward, interlocking promontories, with highlands in their rear, and
cedar-crowned cliffs and abrupt acclivities which shut in the channel,
give to the river the features of a lake. St. Inigoe's creek, flowing
into the river upon the right hand, along the base of these cliffs,
forms by its southern shore a flat, narrow and grass-clad point, upon
which the ancient Jesuit House of the patron saint whose name
distinguishes the creek, throws up, in sharp relief, its chateau-like
profile, together with its windmill, its old trees, barns and
cottages,--the whole suggesting a resemblance to a strip of pasteboard
scenery on a prolonged and slender base line of green.

When the voyager from the island has trimmed his sail and reached the
promontories which formed his first perspective, the river, now reduced
to a gun-shot in width, again opens to his view a succession of little
bays, intercepted by more frequent headlands and branching off into
sinuous creeks that lose themselves in the hills. Here and there,
amongst these creeks, a slender beach of white sand separates from its
parent flood a pool, which reposes like a mirror in the deep forest;
and all around, high hills sweep down upon these placid lakes, and
disclose half-embowered cottages, whose hoary roofs and antique forms
turn the musings of the spectator to the palmy days of the Lord
Proprietary.

A more enchanting landscape than St. Mary's river,--a lovelier
assemblage of grassy bank and hoary grove, upland slope, cliff, cot and
strand, of tangled brake and narrow bay, broad, seaward road-stead and
air-suspended cape, may not be found beneath the yearly travel of the
sun!

The ancient city was situated nearly two miles beyond the confluence of
St. Inigoe's creek, upon a spacious level plain which maintained an
elevation of some fifty feet above the river. The low-browed,
double-roofed and cumbrous habitations of the towns-people were
scattered at random over this plain, forming snug and pleasant groups
for a painter's eye, and deriving an air of competence and comfort from
the gardens and bowers in which they were sheltered. The State House
stood at the upper extremity of the town, upon a cedar-clad headland
which, by an abrupt descent, terminated in a long, flat, sandy point,
that reached almost half across the river. In regard to this building,
tradition--which I find to be somewhat inclined to brag of its
glory--affirms it to have been constructed in the shape of a cross,
looking towards the river, with walls thick enough to resist cannon,
and perilous steep roofs, from the top of the chief of which shot up a
spire, whereon was impaled a dolphin with a crooked, bifurcated tail. A
wooden quay and warehouse on the point showed this to be the seat of
trade, and a crescent-shaped bay or indentation between this and a
similar headland at the lower extremity of the town, constituted the
anchorage or harbour for the scant shipping of the port.

The State House looked rearward over the town common,--a large space of
open ground, at the farther end of which, upon the border of a marshy
inlet, covered with bulrushes and cat-tails, stood a squat, sturdy and
tight little gaol, supported,--to use the military phrase,--on one
flank by a pillory and stocks, and on the other by an implement of
government which has gone out of fashion in our day, but which found
favour with our ancestors as an approved antidote to the prevalent
distemper of an unnecessary or too clamorous loquacity in their
dames--a ducking stool, that hung suspended over a pool of sufficient
depth for the most obstinate case that might occur.

Without wearying my reader with too much description, I shall content
myself with referring to but two or three additional particulars as
necessary to my future purpose: a Catholic chapel devoted to St.
Ignatius, the patron of the province, in humble and unostentatious
guise, occupied, with its appurtenances, a few acres in the centre of
the plain, a short distance from that confine of the city which lay
nearest to St. Inigoe's; and in the opposite quarter, not far from the
State House, a building of much more pretension, though by no means so
neat, had been erected for the service of the Church of England, which
was then fast growing into the ascendant. On one of the streets leading
to the beach was the market house, surrounded by its ordinaries and
ale-houses: and lastly, in the year 1681, to which this description
refers, a little hostelry of famous report, known by the sign of "The
Crow and Archer," and kept by Master Garret Weasel, stood on the
water's edge, at the foot of the bank below the State House, on a piece
of level ground looking out upon the harbour, where the traveller may
still find a luxuriant wilderness of pear trees, the scions of a
notable ancestor which, tradition says, the aforesaid Garret planted
with his own hand.

The country around St. Mary's bore, at the period I have designated,
the same broad traces of settlement and cultivation which belong to it
at the present day. For many miles the scene was one of varied field
and forest, studded over with dwellings and farm yards. The settlements
had extended across the neck of land to the Chesapeake, and along both
shores of St. Mary's river to the Potomac. This open country was
diversified by woodland, and enlivened every where by the expanse of
navigable water which reflected sun and sky, grove and field and lowly
cottage in a thousand beautiful lights. Indeed, all the maritime border
of the province, comprehending Calvert, St. Mary's and Charles, as well
as the counties on the opposite shore of the Chesapeake, might be said,
at this date, to be in a condition of secure and prosperous habitation.
The great ocean forest had receded some hundred miles westward from St.
Mary's. The region of country comprising the present county of Anne
Arundel, as well as Cecil and the Isle of Kent, was a frontier already
settled with numerous tenants of the Lord Proprietary. All westward
from this was the birthright of the stern Sasquesahannoch, the fierce
Shenandoah, and their kindred men of the woods.

They are gone! Like shadows have these men of might sunk on the earth.
They, their game, their wigwams, their monuments, their primeval
forests,--yea, even their graves, have flitted away in this spectral
flight. Saxon and Norman, bluff Briton and heavy Suabian inherit the
land. And in its turn, well-a-day! our pragmatical little city hath
departed. Not all its infant glory, nor its manhood's bustle, its
walls, gardens and bowers,--its warm housekeeping, its gossiping
burghers, its politics and its factions,--not even its prolific dames
and gamesome urchins could keep it in the upper air until this our day.
Alas, for the vaulting pride of the village, the vain glory of the
city, and the metropolitan boast! St. Mary's hath sunk to the level of
Tyre and Sidon, Balbec and Palmyra! She hath become trackless,
tokenless.

I have wandered over the blank field where she sank down to rest. It
was a book whose characters I could scarce decipher. I asked for relics
of the departed. The winter evening tale told by father to son, and the
written legend, more durable than monument of marble, have survived to
answer my question, when brick and tile, hearth and tomb have all
vanished from the quest of the traveller.

What I have gathered from these researches will occupy my reader
through the following pages.



CHAPTER II.

    A train-band captain eke was he.

    JOHN GILPIN.


At the extremity of the cape or headland which formed the lower or more
seaward point of the crescent-shaped harbour, was erected the Fort of
St. Mary's, where it threatened equal defiance to such as might
meditate disturbance either by sea or land. A few hundred paces in the
rear of the fort, stood the ample dwelling-house of the Lord
Proprietary with its gables, roofs, chimneys and spires, sharply
defined against the eastern sky. A massive building of dark brick, two
stories in height, and penetrated by narrow windows, looking forth,
beyond the fort, upon the river, constituted the chief member or main
body of the mansion. This was capped by a wooden, balustraded parapet,
terminating, at each extremity, in a scroll like the head of a violin,
and, in the middle, sustaining an entablature that rose to a summit on
which was mounted a weathercock. From this central structure, right and
left, a series of arcades, corridors, and vestibules served to bring
into line a range of auxiliary or subordinate buildings of grotesque
shapes, of which several were bonneted like haycocks--the array
terminating, on one flank, in a private chapel surmounted by a cross,
and, on the other, in a building of similar size but of different
figure, which was designed and sometimes used for a banqueting room.
The impression produced on the observer, by this orderly though not
uniform mass of building, with its various offices for household
comfort, was not displeasing to his sense of rural beauty, nor, from
its ample range and capacious accommodation, did it fail to enhance his
opinion of the stateliness and feudal importance, as well as of the
hospitality of the Lord Proprietary. The armorial bearings of the
Baltimore family, emblazoned on a shield of free-stone, were built into
the pediment of an arched brick porch which shaded the great hall door.
In the rear of the buildings, a circular sweep of wall and paling
reached as far as a group of stables, kennels and sheds. Vanward the
same kind of enclosures, more ornate in their fashion, shut in a grassy
court, to which admission was gained through a heavy iron gate swung
between square, stuccoed pillars, each of which was surmounted by a
couchant lion carved in stone. Ancient trees shaded the whole mass of
dwelling-house, court and stable, and gave to the place both a lordly
and comfortable aspect. It was a pleasant group of roof and bower, of
spire and tree to look upon from the city, towards sunset, when every
window-pane flung back the lustre of a conflagration; and magnificently
did it strike upon the eye of the liegemen as they sat at their doors,
at that hour, gazing upon the glorious river and its tranquil banks.
Nor less pleasant was it to the inmates of the baronial mansion to look
back upon the fair village-city, studding the level plain with its
scattered dwellings which seemed to sleep upon the grassy and shaded
sward.

A garden occupied the space between the proprietary residence and the
fort, and through it a pathway led to a dry moat which formed one of
the defences of the stronghold, into which admission was obtained from
this quarter by a narrow bridge and postern gate. A palisade of sharp
pickets fringed the outer and inner slopes of the ditch,--or, to speak
more technically, guarded the scarp and counter-scarp. The fort itself
sat like a square bonnet on the brow of the headland. Its ramparts of
earth were faced outwardly by heavy frame-work of hewn logs, which, on
the side looking askant towards the town, were penetrated by an arched
gateway and secured by heavy doors studded thick with nails. This
portal opened upon a road which lay along the beach beneath the cliff,
all the way to the upper extremity of the town. Several low buildings
within, appropriated to barracks and magazines, just peered above the
ramparts. A few pieces of brass cannon showed like watch-dogs against
the horizon, and, high above all, fluttered the provincial banner
bearing the cross of England, and holding the relation of a feather to
the squat bonnet which the outline of the work might suggest to one
curious to trace resemblances.

The province, it may be surmised, was belligerent at this day. For
although the Lords Barons of Baltimore, absolute Proprietaries of
Maryland and Avalon, would fain have encouraged a pacific temper, and
desired ever to treat with the Indians upon terms of friendly bargain
and sale, and in all points of policy manifested an equitable
disposition towards the native men of the forest, the province,
nevertheless, had its full share of hard blows. There was seldom a
period, in this early time, when some Indian quarrel was not coming to
a head; and, young as the province was, it had already tasted of
rebellion at the hands of Clayborne, and Ingle,--to say nothing of that
Fendall who was fain to play Cromwell in the plantation, by turning the
burgesses out of their hall, and whose sedition hath still something to
do with my story.--However peaceable, therefore, the Lord Proprietary
might incline to be, he could not but choose stand by his weapons.

In the view of these and kindred troubles, the freemen of the province
had no light service in their obligations of military duty. One of the
forms in which this service was exacted, in addition to the occasional
requisition, on emergency, of the whole population fit to bear arms,
and in addition also to a force of mounted rangers who were constantly
engaged in scouring the frontier, was in the maintenance of a regularly
paid and trained body of musqueteers who supplied the necessary
garrisons for the principal forts. That of St. Mary's, which was the
oldest and most redoubtable strong-hold in the province, was furnished
with a company of forty men of this class who were, at the date of this
tale, under the command of a personage of some note, Captain Jasper
Dauntrees, to whom I propose to introduce my reader with something more
than the slight commendation of a casual acquaintance.

This worthy had been bred up to the science of arms from early youth,
and had seen many varieties of service,--first, in the civil wars in
which he took the field with the royal army, a staunch cavalier,--and
afterwards, with a more doubtful complexion of loyalty, when he
enlisted with Monk in Scotland, and followed his banner to London in
the notable exploit of the Restoration. Yielding to the bent of that
humour which the times engendered, and in imitation of many a hungry
and peace-despising gallant of his day, he repaired to the continent,
where, after various fortunes, he found himself in the train of Turenne
and hard at loggerheads with the Prince of Orange, in which passage of
his life he enjoyed the soldierly gratification of lending a hand to
the famous ravage of the Palatinate.

Some few years before I have presented him in these pages he had come
over to Maryland, with a party of Flemings, to gather for his old age
that harvest of wealth and ease which the common report promised to all
who set foot upon the golden shores of the Indies--Maryland, in vulgar
belief, being a part of this land of wonders. The captain neither
stumbled upon a gold mine, nor picked up an Indian princess with a
dowry of diamonds; but he fared scarce worse, in his own estimation,
when he found himself, in a pleasant sunny clime, invested with the
rank of captain of musqueteers, with a snug shelter in the fort, a
reasonably fair and punctual allowance of pay--much better, than had
been his lot under former masters,--and a frank welcome at all times
into the mansion of the Lord Proprietary. Add to these the delights
more congenial to the training of his past life, a few wet companions,
namely, to help him through an evening potation, and no despicable
choice of wines and other comforts at the Crow and Archer, where the
Captain with due alacrity became a domesticated and privileged guest,
and it may still better be comprehended how little he was likely to
repine at his fortune.

His figure had, in youth, been evidently remarked for strength and
symmetry--but age and varied service, combined with habits of irregular
indulgence, had communicated to it a bluff and corpulent dimension. His
port nevertheless was erect, and his step as firm as in his days of
lustihood. His eye still sparkled with rays but little quenched by
time, although unseasonable vigils sometimes rendered it bloodshotten.
A thick neck and rosy complexion betokened a hale constitution; and the
ripple of a deep and constantly welling humour, that played upon his
strongly marked features, expressed in characters that could not be
misread, that love of companionship which had been, perhaps, the most
frequent shoal upon which his hopes in life had been stranded. His
crown was bald and encircled by a fair supply of crisp, curly and
silvery hair, whilst a thick grey moustache gave a martial and veteran
air to his visnomy.

His dress served to set off his figure to the best advantage. It
consisted of the doublet and ruff, short cloak and trunk hose, the
parti-coloured stocking and capacious boot proper to the old English
costume which, about the period of the Restoration, began to give way
to the cumbrous foppery of the last century. This costume was still
retained by many in the province, and belonged to the military
equipment of the garrison of St. Mary's, where it was fashioned of
light green cloth garnished with yellow lace.

Arrayed in this guise, Captain Dauntrees had some excuse for a small
share of vanity on the score of having worn well up to a green old age;
and it was manifest that he sought to improve this impression by the
debonair freedom with which he wore a drab beaver, with its broad flap
looped up on one side, leaving his ample brow bared to wind and
weather.

This combination of the martinet and free companion exhibited in the
dress of the Captain, was a pretty intelligible index to his character,
which disclosed a compound, not unfrequent in the civil wars of that
period, of the precisian and ruffler,--the cavalier and economist. In
the affairs of life,--a phrase which, in regard to him, meant such
matters principally and before all others, as related to his own
comfort--he was worldly-wise, sagaciously provident, as an old soldier,
of whatever advantages his condition might casually supply; in words,
he was, indifferently, according to the occasion, a moralist or
hot-brained reveller--sometimes affecting the courtier along with the
martialist, and mixing up the saws of peaceful thrift with the patter
of the campaigns.

As the occasions of my story may enable me to illustrate some of these
points in the character of the worthy Captain, I will not forestall the
opinion of my readers, regarding him, by further remark,--preferring
that he should speak for himself, rather than leave his merits to be
certified by so unpractised an adept, as I confess myself to be, in
unriddling the secret properties of a person so deserving to be known.



CHAPTER III.

    "In every creed,
    'Tis on all hands agreed,
    And plainly confest,
    When the weather is hot,
    That we stick to the pot
    And drink of the best."

    OLD SONG.


"Of all seasons of the year, autumn is the most voluptuous, and October
the loveliest of months. Then may a man sit at his door--in the sun if
he choose, for he will not find it too hot--or in the shade, if it
liketh him, for neither will he find this too cool, and there hold
converse with his own meditations: or he may ride or walk, dance or
sing, for in this October time a man hath heart for any pastime, so
rich is the air, and such pleasant imaginations doth it engender. And
if he be poetical, therein will he be greatly favoured; for surely
never nature puts on such gaudy attire, on earth or sky, as she wears
in our October. The morning haze, which the hoarfrost flings up to meet
the sun, hangs across the landscape as if made on purpose to enchant
the painter; and the evening sunset lights up the heavens with a glory
that shall put that painter--even Claude or Salvator--to shame at the
inadequacy of his art. And then the woods!--what pallet hath colours
for the forest? Of all the months of the year, commend me to October!"

Some such rhapsody as this was running through the thoughts, and
breaking forth in slight mutterings from the lips of the Captain of
Musqueteers, on an afternoon in this much lauded month of October, in
the year I have alluded to in a former chapter, as he sate in front
of his quarters in the fort. A small table was displayed upon the
pavement, supplied with a flagon, pipes, and drinking cups. The
Captain's solid bulk was deposited in a broad arm-chair, close by the
table. His sword and cloak lay upon a bench at the door, and a light
breeze flickered amongst his short and hoary locks, where they escaped
from the cover of a cloth bonnet which he had now substituted for his
beaver. A sentinel stood on post at the gate, towards which the
Captain, as he slowly quaffed a cup, ever and anon turned an expectant
eye. Once or twice he rose from his seat and strode backward and
forward across the parade, then visited the rampart, which afforded him
a view of the road leading from the town, and finally resumed his seat
and renewed his solitary and slow potation.

When the sun had sunk halfway down the flag-staff, the Captain's wishes
were crowned by the arrival of a brace of visiters.

The first of these was Garret Weasel, the publican, a thin, small man,
in a suit of gray; of a timid carriage and slender voice. He might have
been observed for a restless, undefinable eye which seemed to possess
the habitual circumspection of a tapster to see the need of a customer;
and this expression was sustained by a rabbit-like celerity of motion
which raised the opinion of his timidity. There was an air of
assentation and reverence in his demeanour, which, perhaps, grew out of
the domestic discipline of his spouse, a buxom dame with the heart of a
lioness. She had trained Master Garret to her hand, where he might have
worn out his days in implicit obedience, had it not luckily fallen out
for him, that Captain Dauntrees had settled himself down in this corner
of the New World. The Captain being a regular trafficker in the
commodities of the Crow and Archer, and no whit over-awed by the
supremacy of mine hostess, soon set himself about seducing her
worse-half from his allegiance, so far as was necessary, at least, to
satisfy his own cravings for company at the fort. He therefore freely
made himself the scapegoat of Garret's delinquencies, confiding in the
wheedling power of his tongue, to pacify the dame. With all the
tapster's humility and meekness, he still followed the Captain through
his irregularities with the adhesiveness and submission of a
dog--carousing on occasion like a man of stouter mould, and imitating
the reveller-tone of his companion with an ambitious though not always
successful zeal. He did not naturally lack merriment; but it was not of
the boisterous stamp: there was, at his worst outbreak, a glimmering of
deference and respect, rising up to a rickety laugh, and a song
sometimes, yet without violent clamour; and the salt tears were often
wrung from his eyes by the pent-up laughter which his vocation and his
subordinate temper had taught him it was unseemly to discharge in a
volley.

His companion was a tall, sinewy, and grave person, habited in the
guise of a forester--a cap, namely, of undressed deer skin, a buff
jerkin, guarded by a broad belt and buckle at the waist, and leggings
of brown leather. This was a Fleming, named Arnold de la Grange, who
belonged to the corps of wood rangers in the service of the Lord
Proprietary. He had arrived in the province in the time of Lord
Cecilius, many years before, and had shared much of the toil of the
early settlement. His weather-beaten and gaunt form, tawny cheek, and
grizzled hair, bespoke a man inured to the hard service of a frontier
life, whilst his erect port and firm step, evinced that natural
gracefulness which belongs to men trained to the self-dependence
necessary to breast the ever-surrounding perils of such a service. He
was a man of few words, and these were delivered in a Low Dutch accent,
which his long intercourse with the English had failed to correct. When
his service on his range was intermitted, Arnold found quarters amongst
the retainers of the Proprietary mansion, and the Proprietary himself
manifested towards the forester that degree of trust, and even
affection, which resulted from a high sense of his fidelity and
conduct, and which gave him a position of more privilege than was
enjoyed by the other dependents of the establishment. Being, at these
intervals, an idler, he was looked upon with favour by the Captain of
the fort, who was not slow to profit by the society of such a veteran
in the long watches of a dull afternoon. By a customary consequence,
Arnold was no less esteemed by the publican.

A bluff greeting and short ceremony placed the visiters at the table,
and each, upon a mute signal from the host, appropriated his cup and
pipe.

"You are never a true man, Garret Weasel," said the Captain, "to dally
so long behind your appointment; and such an appointment, too! state
matters would be trifles to it. The round dozen which you lost to me on
Dame Dorothy's head gear--a blessing on it!--you did yourself so order
it, was to be broached at three of the clock; and now, by my troth, it
is something past four. There is culpable laches in it. Idleness is the
canker of the spirit, but occupation is the lard of the body, as I may
affirm in my own person. Mistress Dorothy, I suspect, has this tardy
coming to answer for. I doubt the brow of our brave dame hath been
cloudy this afternoon. How is it, Arnold? bachelor, and Dutchman to
boot, you will speak without fear."

"The woman," replied Arnold, in a broken English accent, which I do not
attempt to convey in syllables, "had her suspicions."

"Hold ye, Captain Dauntrees," eagerly interrupted the innkeeper,
drawing up his chair to the table--for he had seated himself a full
arms-length off, in awkward deference to his host; "and hold ye, Master
Arnold! my wife rules not me, as some evil-minded jesters report: no,
in faith! We were much beset to-day. In sooth I could not come sooner.
Customers, you know, Captain, better than most men, customers must be
answered, and will be answered, when we poor servants go athirst. We
were thronged to-day; was it not so, Arnold?"

"That is true," replied the forester; "the wife had her hands full as
well as Garret himself. There were traders in the port, to-day, from
the Bay Shore and the Isle of Kent, and some from the country back, to
hear whether the brigantine had arrived. They had got some story that
Cocklescraft should be here."

"I see it," said Dauntrees; "that fellow, Cocklescraft, hath a trick of
warning his friends. He never comes into port but there be strange
rumours of him ahead; it seems to be told by the pricking of thumbs.
St. Mary's is not the first harbour where he drops his anchor, nor
Anthony Warden the first to docket his cargo. You understand me."

"You have a bold mind, Captain," said the publican; "you men of the
wars speak your thoughts."

"You are none the losers by Master Cocklescraft," interposed Arnold,
drily.

"My wife pays honestly for the liquors," said Weasel, as his eye
glanced timorously from one to the other of his comrades; "I take no
heed of the accounts."

"But the head gear, Garret," rejoined Dauntrees, laughing; "you pay for
that, though the mercer saw my coin for it. Twelve bottles of Canary
were a good return on that venture. The bauble sits lightly on the head
of the dame, and it is but fair that the winnings should rise as
lightly into ours. But for Cocklescraft, we should lack these means to
be merry. The customs are at a discount on a dark night. Well, be it
so. What point of duty calls on us to baulk the skipper in his trade?
We are of the land, not of the water; consumers, on the disbursing side
of the account, not of the gathering in. The revenue hath its proper
friends, and we should neither meddle nor make. Worthy Garret Weasel
has good report in the province for the reasonableness of his
wines--and long may he deserve that commendation!"

"I thank heaven that I strive to merit the good will of the freemen,"
interrupted the innkeeper.

"And he is something given to brag of his wines. Faith, and with
reason! Spain and Portugal, the Garonne and the Rhine, are his
tributaries. Garret, we know the meridian of your El Dorado."

"Nay, nay, Master Captain--your worship is merry; I beseech you----"

"Never mind your beseeching, my modest friend. You scarce do yourself
justice. You have his Lordship's license paid for in good round
ducatoons--and that's the fee of a clear conscience. So let the trade
thrive! The exchequer is not a baby to be in swaddling bands, unable to
feed itself. No, it has the eagle's claw, and wants no help from thee,
thou forlorn tapster! Make thine honest penny, Garret; all thirsty
fellows will stand by thee."

"I would be thought orderly, Master Dauntrees."

"Thou art so computed--to a fault. You would have been so reckoned in
Lord Cecil's time; and matters are less straitened now-a-days. Lord
Charles gives more play to good living than his father allowed of. You
remember his Lordship's father set his face against wines and strong
waters."

"He did, gentlemen," said Weasel, squaring himself in his seat with
animation. "Heaven forbid I should speak but as becomes me of the
honourable Lord Cecil's memory, or of his honourable son! but to my
cost, I know that his Lordship's father was no friend to evil courses,
or sottish behaviour, or drinking, unless it was in moderation, mark
you. But, with humility, I protest the law is something hard on us poor
ordinary keepers: for you shall understand, Arnold Grange, that at a
sale by outcry, if there should lack wherewithal to pay the debts of
the debtor, the publican and vintner are shut out, seeing that the
score for wines and strong waters is the last to be paid."

"And good law it is, let me tell you Garret Weasel! Good and wholesome:
wisely laid down by the burgesses, and wisely maintained by his Lordship.
You rail without cause. Sober habits must be engendered:--your health,
comrades! Then it behooves you publicans to be nice in your custom. We
will none of your lurdans that can not pay scot and lot--your runagates
that fall under the statute of outcry. Let them drink of the clear
brook! There is wisdom and virtue in the law. Is it not so, Arnold?"

"It preaches well," replied the forester, as he sent forth a volume of
smoke from his lips.

"Another flask, and we will drink to his Lordship," said Dauntrees, who
now left the table and returned with the fourth bottle. "Fill up,
friends; the evening wears apace. Here's to his Lordship, and his
Lordship's ancestors of ever noble and happy memory!"

As Dauntrees smacked his lip upon emptying his cup, he flung himself
back in his chair, and in a thoughtful tone ejaculated: "The good Lord
Charles has had a heavy time of it since his return from England; these
church brawlers would lay gunpowder under our hearth-stones. And then
the death of young Lord Cecil, whilst his father was abroad, too; it
was a heavy blow. My lady hath never held up her head since."

A pause succeeded to this grave reflection, during which the trio
smoked their pipes in silence, which was at length broken by an
attenuated sigh from the publican, as he exclaimed, "Well-a-day! the
great have their troubles as well as the rest of us. It is my opinion
that Heaven will have its will, Captain; that's my poor judgment." And
having thus disburdened himself of this weighty sentiment--the weight
of it being increased, perhaps, by the pressure of his previous
potations--he drained the heel tap, which stood in his glass, and half
whispered, when he had done, "That's as good a drop of Canary as ever
grew within the horizon of the Peak of Teneriffe."

"Through the good will of friend Cocklescraft," interrupted Dauntrees,
suddenly resuming his former gaiety.

"Pray you, Captain Dauntrees," said the publican, with a hurried
concern, "think what hurt thy jest may bring upon me. Arnold knows not
your merry humour, and may believe, from your speech, that I am not
reputable."

"Pish, man; bridle thy foolish tongue! Did I not see the very cask on't
at Trencher Rob's? Did I not mark how your sallow cheek took on an
ashen complexion, when his Lordship's Secretary, a fortnight since,
suddenly showed himself amongst the cedars upon the bank that overlooks
your door, when your ill luck would have you to be rolling the cask in
open day into thy cellar. The secretary was in a bookish mood, and saw
thee not--or, peradventure, was kind, and would not heed."

To this direct testimony, Weasel could only reply by a faint-hearted
and involuntary smile which surrendered the point, and left him in a
state of silly confusion.

"Never droop in thy courage, worthy Weasel," exclaimed the Captain;
"thou art as honest as thy betters; and, to my mind, the wine hath a
better smack from its overland journey from St. Jerome's when there was
no sun to heat it."

"The secretary," said the innkeeper, anxious to give the conversation
another direction, "is a worshipful youth, and a modest, and grows in
favour with the townspeople."

"Ay, and is much beloved by his Lordship," added the Captain.

"And comes, I warrant me, of gentle kind, though I have not heard aught
of his country or friends. Dorothy, my wife, says that the women almost
swear by him, for his quiet behaviour and pretty words--and they have
eyes, Captain Dauntrees, for excellence which we have not."

"There is a cloud upon his birth," said Dauntrees, "and a sorrowful
tale touching his nurture. I had it from Burton, the master of the ship
who brought him with my Lord to the province."

"Indeed, Captain Dauntrees! you were ever quick to pick up knowledge.
You have a full ear and a good memory."

"Drink, drink, comrades!" said the Captain. "We should not go dry
because the secretary hath had mishaps. If it please you, I will tell
the story, though I will not vouch for the truth of what I have only at
second hand."

After the listeners had adjusted themselves in their chairs, Dauntrees
proceeded.

"There was, in Yorkshire, a Major William Weatherby, who fought against
the Parliament--I did not know him, for I was but a stripling at the
time--who, when King Charles was beheaded, went over and took service
with the States General, and at Arnheim married a lady of the name of
Verheyden. Getting tired of the wars, he came back to England with his
wife, where they lived together five or six years without children. The
story goes that he was a man of fierce and crooked temper; choleric,
and unreasonable in his quarrel; and for jealousy, no devil ever
equalled him in that amiable virtue. It was said, too, that his living
was riotous and unthrifty, which is, in part, the customary sin of
soldiership.--I am frank with you, masters."

"You are a good judge, Captain; you have had experience," said the
publican.

"There was a man of some mark in the country where this Weatherby
lived, a Sir George Alwin, who, taking pity on the unhappy lady, did
her sundry acts of kindness--harmless acts, people say; such as you or
I, neighbours, would be moved to do for a distressed female; but the
lady was of rare beauty, and the husband full of foul fancies.

"About this time, it was unlucky that nature wrought a change, and the
lady grew lusty for the first time in six years marriage. To make the
story short, Weatherby was free with his dagger, and in the street, at
Doncaster, in the midst of a public show, he stabbed Alwin to the
heart."

The wood ranger silently shook his head, and the publican opened his
watery eyes in astonishment.

"By the aid of a fleet horse and private enemies of the murdered man,
Weatherby escaped out of the kingdom, and was never afterwards heard
of."

"And died like a dog, I s'pose," said Arnold de la Grange.

"Likely enough," replied Dauntrees.

"The poor lady was struck down with the horror of the deed, and had
nearly gone to her grave. But Heaven was kind, and she survived it, and
was relieved of her burden in the birth of a son. For some years
afterwards, by the bounty of friends, but with many a struggle--for her
means were scanty--she made shift to dwell in England. At last she
returned to Holland, where she found a resting place in her native
earth, having lived long enough to see her son, a well grown lad,
safely taken in charge by her brother, a merchant of Antwerp. The
parents were both attached to our Church of Rome, and the son was sent
by his uncle to the Jesuit school of his own city. Misfortune overtook
the merchant, and he died before the nephew had reached his fourteenth
year. But the good priests of Antwerp tended the lad with the care of
parents, and would have reared him as a servant of the altar. When our
Lord Baltimore was in the Netherlands, three years ago, he found Albert
Verheyden, (the youth has ever borne his mother's name,) in the
Seminary. His Lordship took a liking to him and brought him into his
own service. Master Albert was then but eighteen. There is the whole
story. It is as dry as a muscat raisin. It sticks in the throat,
masters,--so moisten, moisten!"

"It is a marvellous touching story," said the innkeeper, as he
swallowed at a draught a full goblet.

"The hot hand and the cold steel," said Arnold, thoughtfully, "hold too
much acquaintance in these times. Master Albert is an honest youth, and
a good youth, and a brave follower too, of hawk or hound, Captain
Dauntrees."

"Then there is good reason for a cup to the secretary," said the
Captain, filling again. "The world hath many arguments for a thirsty
man. The blight of the year fall upon this sadness! Let us change our
discourse--I would carouse a little, friends: It is salutary to laugh.
Thanks to my patron, I am a bachelor! So drink, Master Arnold, mein
sauff bruder, as we used to say on the Rhine."

"Ich trinck, euch zu," was the reply of the forester, as he answered
the challenge with a sparkling eye, and a face lit up with smiles; "a
good lad, an excellent lad, though he come of a hot-brained father!"

The wine began to show itself upon the revellers; for by this time they
had nearly got through half of the complement of the wager. The effect
of this potation upon the Captain was to give him a more flushed brow,
and a moister eye, and to administer somewhat to the volubility of his
tongue. It had wrought no further harm, for Dauntrees was bottle-proof.
Upon the forester it was equally harmless, rather enhancing than
dissipating his saturnine steadfastness of demeanour. He was,
perchance, somewhat more precise and thoughtful. Garret Weasel, of the
three, was the only weak vessel. With every cup of the last half hour
he grew more supple.

"Ads heartlikens!" he exclaimed, "but this wine doth tingle, Captain
Dauntrees. Here is a fig for my wife Dorothy! Come and go as you
list--none of your fetch and carry! that's what the world is coming to,
amongst us married cattle!"

"Thou art a valorous tapster," said the Captain.

"I am the man to stand by his friend, Captain mine; and I am thy
friend, Captain--Papist or Roman though they call thee!"

"A man for need, Garret!" said Dauntrees, patting him on the head; "a
dozen flasks or so, when a friend wants them, come without the asking."

"And I pay my wagers, I warrant, Captain, like a true comrade."

"Like a prince, Garret, who does not stop to count the score, but makes
sure of the total by throwing in a handful over."

"I am no puritan, Master Dauntrees, I tell thee."

"Thou hast the port of a cavalier, good Weasel. Thou wouldst have done
deadly havoc amongst the round-heads, if they but took thee in the fact
of discharging a wager. Thou wert scarce in debt, after this fashion,
at Worcester, my valiant drawer. Thy evil destiny kept thee empty on
that day."

"Ha, ha, ha! a shrewd memory for a stale jest, Captain Dauntrees. The
world is slanderous, though I care little for it. You said you would be
merry; shall we not have a song? Come, troll us a catch, Captain."

"I am of thy humour, old madcap; I'll wag it with thee bravely,"
replied Dauntrees, as he struck up a brisk drinking-bout glee of that
day, in which he was followed by the treble voice of the publican, who
at the same time rose from his seat and accompanied the music with some
unsteady gyrations in the manner of a dance upon the gravel.

    "From too much keeping an evil decorum,
    From the manifold treason parliamentorum,
    From Oliver Cromwell, dux omnium malorum,

    Libera nos, Libera nos."

Whilst Dauntrees and his gossips were thus occupied in their carouse,
they were interrupted by the unexpected arrival of two well known
persons, who had approached by the path of the postern gate.

The elder of the two was a youth just on the verge of manhood. His
person was slender, well proportioned, and rather over the common
height. His face, distinguished by a decided outline of beauty, wore a
thoughtful expression, which was scarcely overcome by the flash of a
black and brilliant eye. A complexion pale and even feminine, betokened
studious habits. His dress, remarkable for its neatness, denoted a
becoming pride of appearance in the wearer. It told of the Low
Countries. A well-fitted doublet and hose, of a grave colour, were
partially concealed by a short camlet cloak of Vandyke brown. A black
cap and feather, a profusion of dark hair hanging in curls towards the
shoulders, and a falling band or collar of lace, left it unquestionable
that the individual I have sketched was of gentle nurture, and
associated with persons of rank. This was further manifested in the gay
and somewhat gaudy apparel of his companion,--a lad of fourteen, who
walked beside him in the profusely decorated costume of a young noble
of that ambitious era, when the thoughtless and merry monarch of
England, instead of giving himself to the cares of government, was busy
to invent extravagancies of dress. The lad was handsome, though his
features wore the impress of feeble health. He now bore in his hand a
bow and sheaf of arrows.

The visiters had taken our revellers at unawares, and had advanced
within a few feet before they were observed. The back of the publican
was turned to them, and he was now in mid career of his dance, throwing
up his elbows, tossing his head, and treading daintily upon the earth,
as he sang the burden,

    "Libera nos, libera nos."

"You give care a holiday, Captain Dauntrees," said the elder youth,
with a slightly perceptible foreign accent.

Dauntrees started abruptly from his seat, at this accost, smiled with a
reddened brow, and made a low obeisance. The cessation of the song left
Garret Weasel what a mariner would term "high and dry," for like a bark
floated upon a beach and suddenly bereft of its element, he remained
fixed in the attitude at which the music deserted him,--one foot
raised, an arm extended, and his face turned inquiringly over his
shoulder. His amazement upon discovering the cause of this
interruption, brought about a sudden and ludicrous affectation of
sobriety; in an instant his port was changed into one of deference,
although somewhat awkwardly overcharged with what was intended to
represent gravity and decorum.

Arnold de la Grange rose from his chair and stood erect, firm and
silent.

"Hail, Master Albert Verheyden, and Master Benedict Leonard: God save
you both!" said Dauntrees.

"I say amen to that, and God save his lordship, besides!" ejaculated
the publican with a drunken formality of utterance.

"I would not disturb your merriment, friends," said the secretary, "but
his lordship bade me summon Captain Dauntrees to the hall. You, Arnold
de la Grange, will be pleased to accompany the Captain."

Arnold bowed his head, and the visiters retired by the great gate of
the fort. In a moment young Benedict Leonard came running back, and
addressed the forester--

"Master Arnold, I would have a new bow-string--this is worn; and my
bird-bolts want feathering: shall I leave them with you, good Arnold?"
And without waiting an answer, he thrust the bow and arrows into the
smiling wood-ranger's hand, and bounded away again through the gate.

Dauntrees flung his sword-belt across his shoulder, put on his cloak,
delayed a moment to secure the remaining flasks of wine, and then
beckoned to the ranger to follow him.

"Stop," cried Weasel, with an officious zeal to make himself useful;
"your belt is awry: it is not comely to be seen by his lordship in this
slovenly array."

The belt was set right, and the two directed their steps towards the
postern, and thence to the mansion. The publican tarried only until his
companions were out of sight, when, curious to know the object of the
errand, and careful to avoid the appearance of intrusion, he followed
upon the same path, at a respectful distance,--stepping wisely, as a
drunken man is wont, and full of the opinion that his sobriety was
above all suspicion.



CHAPTER IV.

    Oft as the peasant wight impelled
    To these untrodden paths had been,
    As oft he, horror struck, beheld
    Things of unearthly shape and mien.

    GLENGONAR'S WASSAIL.


The day was drawing near to a close, and the Proprietary thoughtfully
paced the hall. The wainscoted walls around him were hung with costly
paintings, mingled, not untastefully, with Indian war clubs, shields,
bows and arrows, and other trophies won from the savage. There were
also the ponderous antlers of the elk and the horns of the buck
sustaining draperies of the skins of beasts of prey. Musquets,
cutlasses and partisans were bestowed on brackets ready for use in case
of sudden invasion from that race of wild men whose stealthy incursions
in times past had taught this policy of preparation. The level rays of
the setting sun, striking through the broad open door, flung a mellow
radiance over the hall, giving a rich picture-like tone to its sylvan
furniture.

Lord Baltimore, at the period when I have introduced him, might have
been verging upon fifty. He was of a delicate and slender stature, with
a grave and dignified countenance. His manners were sedate and
graceful, and distinguished by that gentleness which is characteristic
of an educated mind when chastened by affliction. He had been schooled
to this gentleness both by domestic and public griefs. The loss of a
favourite son, about two years before, had thrown a shadow upon his
spirit, and a succession of unruly political irritations in the
province served to prevent the return of that buoyancy of heart which
is indifferently slow to come back at middle age, even when solicited
by health, fortune, friends, and all the other incitements which, in
younger men, are wont to lift up a wounded spirit out of the depths of
a casual sorrow.

Charles Calvert had come to the province in 1662, and from that date,
until the death of his father, thirteen years afterwards, administered
the government in the capacity of Lieutenant-General. Upon his
accession to the proprietary rights, he found himself compelled by the
intrigues of a faction to visit London, where he was detained nearly
four years,--having left Lady Baltimore, with a young family of
children, behind him, under the care of his uncle Philip Calvert, the
chancellor of the province. He had now, within little more than a
twelvemonth, returned to his domestic roof, to mingle his sorrows with
those of his wife for the death of his eldest son, Cecilius, who had
sunk into the tomb during his absence.

The public cares of his government left him scant leisure to dwell upon
his personal afflictions. The province was surrounded by powerful
tribes of Indians who watched the white settlers with an eager
hostility, and seized every occasion to molest them by secret inroad,
and often by open assault. A perpetual war of petty reprisals,
prevailed upon the frontier, and even sometimes invaded the heart of
the province.

A still more vexatious annoyance existed in the party divisions of the
inhabitants--divisions unluckily resting on religious distinctions--the
most fierce of all dissensions. Ever since the Restoration, the
jealousy of the Protestant subjects of the crown against the adherents
of the church of Rome had been growing into a sentiment that finally
broke forth into the most flagrant persecution. In the province, the
Protestants during the last twenty years had greatly increased in
number, and at the date of this narrative constituted already the
larger mass of the population. They murmured against the dominion of
the Proprietary as one adverse to the welfare of the English church;
and intrigues were set on foot to obtain the establishment of that
church in the province through the interest of the ministry in England.
Letters were written by some of the more ambitious clergy of Maryland
to the Archbishop of Canterbury to invoke his aid in the enterprise.
The government of Lord Baltimore was traduced in these representations,
and every disorder attributed to the ascendancy of the Papists. It was
even affirmed that the Proprietary and his uncle the Chancellor, had
instigated the Indians to ravage the plantations of the Protestant
settlers, and to murder their families. Chiefly, to counteract these
intrigues, Lord Baltimore had visited the court at London. Cecilius
Calvert, the founder of the province, with a liberality as wise as it
was unprecedented, had erected his government upon a basis of perfect
religious freedom. He did this at a time when he might have
incorporated his own faith with the political character of the colony,
and maintained it, by a course of legislation, which would, perhaps,
even up to the present day, have rendered Maryland the chosen abode of
those who now acknowledge the founder's creed. His views, however, were
more expansive. It was his design to furnish in Maryland a refuge not
only to the weary and persecuted votaries of his own sect, but an
asylum to all who might wish for shelter in a land where opinion should
be free and conscience undisturbed. Whilst this plant of toleration was
yet young, it grew with a healthful luxuriance; but the popular
leaders, who are not always as truly and consistently attached to
enlightened freedom as we might be led to believe from their boasting,
and who incessantly aim to obtain power and make it felt, had no sooner
acquired strength to battle with the Proprietary than they rooted up
the beautiful exotic and gave it to the winds.

Amongst the agitators in this cause was a man of some note in the
former history of the province--the famous Josias Fendall, the governor
in the time of the Protectorate--now in a green old age, whose
turbulent temper, and wily propensity to mischief had lost none of
their edge with the approach of grey hairs. This individual had
stimulated some of the hot spirits of the province into open rebellion
against the life of the Proprietary and his uncle. His chief associate
was John Coode, a coarse but shrewd leader of a faction, who, with the
worst inclinations against the Proprietary had the wit to avoid the
penalties of the law, and to maintain himself in a popular position as
a member of the house of Burgesses. Fendall, a few months before this
era, had been arrested with several followers, upon strong proofs of
conspiracy, and was now a close prisoner in the gaol.

Such is a brief but necessary view of the state of affairs on the date,
at which I have presented the Lord Proprietary to my reader. The matter
now in hand with the captain of the fort had reference to troubles of
inferior note to those which I have just recounted.

When Lord Baltimore descried Captain Dauntrees and the ranger
approaching the mansion from the direction of the fort, he advanced
beyond the threshold to meet them. In a moment they stood unbonneted
before him.

"God save you, good friends!" was his salutation--"Captain Dauntrees
and worthy Arnold, welcome!--Cover,"--he added in a tone of familiar
kindness,--"put on your hats; these evening airs sometimes distill an
ague upon a bare head."

A rugged smile played upon the features of the old forester as he
resumed his shaggy cap, and said, "Lord Charles is good; but he does
not remember that the head of an old ranger gets his blossoms like the
dog-wood,--in the wind and the rain:--the dew sprinkles upon it the
same as upon a stone."

"Old friend," replied the Proprietary,--"that grizzly head has taken
many a sprinkling in the service of my father and myself: it is worthy
of a better bonnet, and thou shalt have one, Arnold--the best thou
canst find in the town. Choose for yourself, and Master Verheyden shall
look to the cost of it."

The Fleming modestly bowed, as he replied with that peculiar foreign
gesture and accent, neither of which may be described,--"Lord Charles
is good.--He is the son of his father, Lord Cecil,--Heaven bless his
memory!"

"Master Verheyden, bade me attend your lordship," said Dauntrees; "and
to bring Arnold de la Grange with me."

"I have matter for your vigilance, Captain," replied the Proprietary.
"Walk with me in the garden--we will talk over our business in the open
air."

When they had strolled some distance, Lord Baltimore proceeded--"There
are strange tales afloat touching certain mysterious doings in a house
at St. Jerome's: the old wives will have it that it is inhabited by
goblins and mischievous spirits--and, in truth, wiser people than old
women are foolish enough to hold it in dread. Father Pierre tells me he
can scarcely check this terror."

"Your Lordship means the fisherman's house on the beach at St.
Jerome's," said the Captain. "The country is full of stories concerning
it, and it has long had an ill fame. I know the house: the gossips call
it The Wizard's Chapel. It stands hard by the hut of The Cripple. By my
faith,--he who wanders there at nightfall had need of a clear shrift."

"You give credence to these idle tales?"

"No idle tales, an please your Lordship. Some of these marvels have I
witnessed with my own eyes. There is a curse of blood upon that roof."

"I pray you speak on," said the Proprietary, earnestly; "there is more
in this than I dreamed of."

"Paul Kelpy the fisherman," continued Dauntrees,--"it was before my
coming into the province--but the story goes----"

"It was in the Lord Cecil's time--I knowed the fisherman," interrupted
Arnold.

"He was a man," said the Captain, "who, as your Lordship may have
heard, had a name which caused him to be shunned in his time,--and they
are alive now who can tell enough of his wickedness to make one's hair
rise on end. He dwelt in this house at St. Jerome's in Clayborne's day,
and took part with that freebooter;--went with him, as I have heard, to
the Island, and was outlawed."

"Ay, and met the death he deserved--I remember the story," said the
Proprietary. "He was foiled in his attempt to get out of the province,
and barred himself up in his own house."

"And there he fought like a tiger,--or more like a devil as he was,"
added the ranger. "They were more than two days, before they could get
into his house."

"When his door was forced at last," continued the Captain; "they found
him, his wife and child lying in their own blood upon the hearth stone.
They were all murdered, people say, by his own hand."

"And that was true!" added Arnold; "I remember how he was buried at the
cross road, below the Mattapany Fort, with a stake drove through his
body."

"Ever since that time," continued Dauntrees, "they say the house has
been without lodgers--of flesh and blood, I mean, my Lord,--for it has
become a devil's den, and a busy one."

"What hast thou seen, Captain? You speak as a witness."

"It is not yet six months gone by, my Lord, when I was returning with
Clayton, the master of the collector's pinnace, from the Isle of Kent;
we stood in, after night, towards the headland of St. Jerome's bay;--it
was very dark--and the four windows of the Wizard's Chapel, that looked
across the beach, were lighted up with such a light as I have never
seen from candle or fagot. And there were antic figures passing the
blaze that seemed deep in some hellish carouse. We kept our course,
until we got almost close aboard,--when suddenly all grew dark. There
came, at that moment, a gust of wind such as the master said he never
knew to sweep in daylight across the Chesapeake. It struck us in our
teeth, and we were glad to get out again upon the broad water. It would
seem to infer that the Evil One had service rendered there, which it
would be sinful to look upon. In my poor judgment it is matter for the
church, rather than for the hand of the law."

"You are not a man, Captain Dauntrees, to be lightly moved by
fantasies," said the Proprietary, gravely; "you have good repute for
sense and courage. I would have you weigh well what you report."

"Surely, my Lord, Clayton is as stout a man in heart as any in the
province: and yet he could scarcely hold his helm for fear."

"Why was I not told of this?"

"Your Lordship's favour," replied Dauntrees, shaking his head; "neither
the master, the seamen nor myself would hazard ill will by moving in
the matter. There is malice in these spirits, my Lord, which will not
brook meddling in their doings: we waited until we might be questioned
by those who had right to our answer. The blessed martyrs shield me! I
am pledged to fight your Lordship's bodily foes:--the good priests of
our holy patron St. Ignatius were better soldiers for this warfare."

The Proprietary remained for some moments silent: at last, turning to
the ranger, he inquired--"What dost thou know of this house, Arnold?"

"Well, Lord Charles," replied the veteran, "I was not born to be much
afeard of goblins or witches.--In my rangings I have more than once
come in the way of these wicked spirits; and then I have found that a
clean breast and a stout heart, with the help of an Ave Mary and a
Paternoster was more than a match for all their howlings. But the
fisherman's house--oh, my good Lord Charles," he added with a
portentous shrug, "has dwellers in it that it is best not to trouble.
When Sergeant Travers and myself were ranging across by St. Jerome's,
at that time when Tiquassino's men were thought to be a thieving,--last
Hallowmass, if I remember,--we shot a doe towards night, and set down
in the woods, waiting to dress our meat for a supper, which kept us
late, before we mounted our horses again. But we had some aqua vitæ,
and didn't much care for hours. So it was midnight, with no light but
the stars to show us our way. It happened that we rode not far from the
Wizard's Chapel, which put us to telling stories to each other about
Paul Kelpy and the ghosts that people said haunted his house."

"The aqua vitæ made you talkative as well as valiant, Arnold,"
interrupted the Proprietary.

"I will not say that," replied the ranger; "but something put it into
our heads to go down the bank and ride round the chapel. At first all
was as quiet as if it had been our church here of St. Mary's--except
that our horses snorted and reared with fright at something we could
not see. The wind was blowing, and the waves were beating on the
shore,--and suddenly we began to grow cold; and then, all at once,
there came a rumbling noise inside of the house like the rolling of a
hogshead full of pebbles, and afterwards little flashes of light
through the windows, and the sergeant said he heard clanking chains and
groans:--it isn't worth while to hide it from your lordship, but the
sergeant ran away like a coward, and I followed him like another, Lord
Charles.--Since that night I have not been near the Black house.--We
have an old saying in my country--'een gebrande kat vreest het koude
water'--the scalded cat keeps clear of cold water--ha, I mind the
proverb."

"It is not long ago," said Dauntrees, "perhaps not above two
years,--when, they say, the old sun-dried timber of the building turned
suddenly black. It was the work of a single night--your Lordship shall
find it so now."

"I can witness the truth of it," said Arnold--"the house was never
black until that night, and now it looks as if it was scorched with
lightning from roof to ground sill. And yet, lightning could never
leave it so black without burning it to the ground."

"There is some trickery in this," said the Proprietary. "It may scarce
be accounted for on any pretence of witchcraft, or sorcery, although I
know there are malignant influences at work in the province which find
motive enough to do all the harm they can. Has Fendall, or any of his
confederates had commerce with this house, Captain Dauntrees? Can you
suspect such intercourse?"

"Assuredly not, my Lord," replied the Captain, "for Marshall, who is
the most insolent of that faction, hath, to my personal knowledge, the
greatest dread of the chapel of all other men I have seen. Besides,
these terrors have flourished in the winter-night tales of the
neighbourhood, ever since the death of Kelpy, and long before the
Fendalls grew so pestilent in the province."

"It is the blood of the fisherman, my good Lord, and of his wife and
children that stains the floor," said Arnold; "it is that blood which
brings the evil spirits together about the old hearth. Twice every day
the blood-spots upon the floor freshen and grow strong, as the tide
comes to flood;--at the ebb they may be hardly seen."

"You have witnessed this yourself, Arnold?"

"At the ebb, Lord Charles. I did not stay for the change of tide. When
I saw the spots it was as much as we could do to make them out.--But at
the flood every body says they are plain."

"It is a weighty matter, a very weighty matter, an it like your
Lordship's honour," muttered forth the slim voice of Garret Weasel, who
had insinuated himself, by slow approach, into the rear of the company,
near enough to hear a part of this conversation, and who now fancied
that his interest in the subject would ensure him an unrebuked access
to the Proprietary--"and your Lordship hath a worthy care for the fears
of the poor people touching the abominations of the Wizard's Chapel."

"What brought thee here, Garret Weasel?" inquired the Proprietary, as
he turned suddenly upon the publican and looked him steadfastly in the
face--"What wonder hast thou to tell to excuse thy lurking at our
heels?"

"Much and manifold, our most noble Lord, touching the rumours," replied
the confused innkeeper, with a thick utterance. "And it is the most
notable thing about it that Robert Swale--Rob o' the Trencher, as he is
commonly called--your Lordship apprehends I mean the Cripple--that Rob
lives so near the Wizard's Chapel. There's matter of consideration in
that--if your Lordship will weigh it."

"Fie, Master Garret Weasel! Fie on thee! Thou art in thy cups. I grieve
to see thee making a beast of thyself. You had a name for sobriety.
Look that you lose it not again. Captain Dauntrees if the publican has
been your guest this evening, you are scarce free of blame for this."

"He has a shallow head, my Lord, and it is more easily sounded than I
guessed. Arnold," said Dauntrees apart--"persuade the innkeeper home."

The ranger took Garret's arm, and expostulating with him as he led him
away, dismissed him at the gate with an admonition to bear himself
discreetly in the presence of his wife,--a hint which seemed to have a
salutary effect, as the landlord was seen shaping his course with an
improved carriage towards the town.

"Have you reason to believe, Captain Dauntrees," said the Proprietary,
after Weasel had departed; "that the Cripple gives credit to these
tales. He lives near this troubled house?"

"Not above a gunshot off, my Lord. He cannot but be witness to these
marvels. But he is a man of harsh words, and lives to himself. There is
matter in his own life, I should guess, which leaves but little will to
censure these doings. To a certainty he has no fear of what may dwell
in the Black building.--I have seldom spoken with him."

"Your report and Arnold's," said the Proprietary, "confirm the common
rumour. I have heard to-day, that two nights past some such phantoms as
you speak of have been seen, and deemed it at first a mere gossip's
wonder;--but what you tell gives a graver complexion of truth to these
whisperings. Be there demons or jugglers amongst us--and I have reason
to suspect both--this matter must be sifted. I would have the inquiry
made by men who are not moved by the vulgar love of marvel. This duty
shall be yours, friends. Make suitable preparation, Captain, to
discharge it at your earliest leisure. I would have you and Arnold,
with such discreet friends as you may select, visit this spot at night
and observe the doings there. Look that you keep your own counsel:--we
have enemies of flesh and blood that may be more dreaded than these
phantoms. So, God speed you friends!"

"The man who purges the Black House of the fiend, so please you, my
Lord," said Dauntrees, "should possess more odour of sanctity than I
doubt will be found under our soldier's jerkins. I shall nevertheless
execute your Lordship's orders to the letter."

"Hark you, Captain," said the Proprietary, as his visiters were about
to take their leave--"if you have a scruple in this matter and are so
inclined, I would have you confer with Father Pierre. Whether this
adventure require prayer, or weapon of steel, you shall judge for
yourself."

"I shall take it, my Lord, as a point of soldiership," said Dauntrees,
"to be dealt with, in soldierly fashion--that is, with round blows if
occasion serves. I ask no aid from our good priest. He hath a trick--if
I may be so bold as to speak it before your Lordship--which doth not so
well sort with my age and bodily health,--a trick, my Lord, of putting
one to a fasting penance by way of purification. Our purpose of
visiting the Black House would be unseasonably delayed by such a
purgation."

"As thou wilt--as thou wilt!" said the Proprietary, laughing; "Father
Pierre would have but an idle sinecure, if he had no other calling but
to bring thee to thy penitentiary.--Good even, friends,--may the kind
saints be with you!"

The Captain and his comrade now turned their steps toward the fort, and
the Proprietary retired into the mansion. Here he found the secretary
and Benedict Leonard waiting his arrival. They had just returned from
the town, whither they had gone after doing their errand to the fort.
Albert Verheyden bore a packet secured with silken strings and sealed,
which he delivered to the Proprietary.

"Dick Pagan, the courier," he said, "has just come in from James Town
in Virginia, whence he set forth but four days ago--he has had a hard
ride of it--and brought this pacquet to the sheriff for my Lord. The
courier reports that a ship had just arrived from England, and that Sir
Henry Chichely the governor gave him this for your Lordship to be
delivered without delay."

The Proprietary took the pacquet: "Albert," he said, as he was about to
withdraw, "I have promised the old ranger, Arnold de la Grange, a new
cap. Look to it:--get him the best that you may find in the town--or,
perhaps, it would better content him to have one made express by Cony
the leather dresser. Let it be as it may best please the veteran
himself, good Albert." With this considerate remembrance of the ranger,
Lord Baltimore withdrew into his study.



CHAPTER V.

          ---deep on his front engraven,
    Deliberation sat, and public care.

    MILTON.

    Lend me thy lantern quoth a? Marry I'll see thee hanged
    first.

    SHAKSPEARE.


A small fire blazed on the hearth of the study and mingled its light
with that of a silver cresset, which hung from the ceiling above a
table furnished with writing materials and strewed over with papers.
Here the Proprietary sat intent upon the perusal of the pacquet. Its
contents disquieted him; and with increasing solicitude he again and
again read over the letters.

At length the secretary was summoned into his presence. "Albert," he
said, "the council must be called together to-morrow at noon. The
messengers should be despatched to-night; they have a dark road and far
to ride. Let them be ready with the least delay."

The secretary bowed and went forth to execute his order.

The letters brought the Proprietary a fresh importation of troubles.
That which most disturbed him was from the Board of Trade and
Plantations, and spoke authoritatively of the growing displeasure of
the ministry at the exclusiveness, as it was termed, of the
Proprietary's favours, in the administration of his government, to the
Catholic inhabitants of the province; it hinted at the popular and
probably well-founded discontent--to use its own phrase--of his
Majesty's Protestant subjects against the too liberal indulgence shown
to the Papists; repeated stale charges and exploded calumnies against
the Proprietary, with an earnestness that showed how sedulously his
enemies had taken advantage of the disfavour into which the Church of
Rome and its advocates had fallen since the Restoration; and concluded
with a peremptory intimation of the royal pleasure that all the offices
of the province should be immediately transferred into the hands of the
Church of England party.

This was a blow at Lord Baltimore which scarcely took him by surprise.
His late visit to England had convinced him that not all the personal
partiality of the monarch for his family--and this was rendered
conspicuous in more than one act of favour at a time when the Catholic
lords were brought under the ban of popular odium--would be able
finally to shelter the province from that religious proscription which
already was rife in the mother land. He was not, therefore, altogether
unprepared to expect this assault. The mandate was especially harsh in
reference to the Proprietary, first because it was untrue that he had
ever recognised the difference of religious opinion in his
appointments, but on the contrary had conferred office indiscriminately
in strict and faithful accordance with the fundamental principle of
toleration upon which his government was founded; and secondly, because
it would bear with pointed injustice upon some of his nearest and most
devoted friends--his uncle the chancellor, the whole of his council,
and, above all others in whose welfare he took an interest, upon the
collector of the port of St. Mary's, Anthony Warden, an old inhabitant
of the province, endeared to the Proprietary--and indeed to all his
fellow-burgesses--by long friendship and tried fidelity. What rendered
it the more grating to the feelings of the Proprietary in this
instance, was that the collectorship had already been singled out as a
prize to be played for by that faction which had created the late
disturbances in the province. It was known that Coode had set his eyes
upon this lure, and gloated upon it with the gaze of a serpent. The
emoluments of the post were something considerable, and its importance
was increased by the influence it was supposed to confer on the
incumbent, as a person of weight and consequence in the town.

The first expression of irritation which the perusal of the pacquet
brought to the lips of the Proprietary had a reference to the
collector. "They would have me," he said, as he rose and strode through
the apartment, "discard from my service, the very approved friends with
whom in my severest toils, in this wilderness, I have for so many years
buffeted side by side, and to whom I am most indebted for support and
encouragement amidst the thousand disasters of my enterprise. They
would have me turn adrift, without a moment's warning, and even with
circumstances of disgrace, that tried pattern of honesty, old Anthony
Warden. Virtue, in her best estate, hath but a step-daughter's portion
in the division of this world's goods, and often goes begging, when
varnished knavery carries a high head and proud heart, and lords it
like a very king. By the blessed light! old Anthony shall not budge on
my motion. Am I to be schooled in my duty by rapacious malcontents, and
to be driven to put away my trustiest friends, to make room for such
thirsty leeches and coarse rufflers as John Coode? The argument is,
that here, in what my father would have made a peaceful, contented
land, planted by him and the brothers of his faith,--with the kindest,
best and most endeared supporters of that faith by my side--worthy men,
earnest and zealous to do their duty--they and their children true to
every christian precept--men who have won a home by valour and patient,
wise endurance--they must all be disfranchised, as not trustworthy even
for the meanest office, and give their places to brawlers, vapouring
bullies and factious stirrers-up of discord--and that too in the name
of religion! Oh, this viper of intolerance, how hath it crept in and
defiled the garden! One would have thought this world were wide enough
to give the baser passions elbow room, without rendering our little
secluded nook a theatre for the struggle. Come what may, Anthony Warden
shall not lack the collectorship whilst a shred of my prerogative
remains untorn!"

In this strain of feeling the Proprietary continued to chafe his
spirit, until the necessity of preparing the letters which were to urge
the attendance of his council, drew him from his fretful reverie into a
calmer tone of mind.

In the servants' hall there was an unusual stir occasioned by the
preparations which were in train for the outriding of the messengers
whom the secretary had put in requisition for the service of the night.
The first of these was Derrick Brown, a man of stout mould though
somewhat advanced in years. He held in the establishment what might be
termed the double post of master of the mews and keeper of the fox
hounds, being principal falconer and huntsman of the household. The
second was a short, plump little fellow, bearing the name of John
Alward, who was one of the grooms of the stable. These two, now ready
booted, belted and spurred, were seated on a bench, discussing a
luncheon, with the supplement of a large jack or tankard of brown
bastard. Several of the other domestics loitered in the hall, throwing
in occasionally a word of advice to the riders, or giving them
unsolicited aid in the carnal occupation of bodily reinforcement to
which they were devoting themselves with the lusty vigour of practised
trenchermen. Leaning against the jamb of the ample fireplace,
immediately below a lamp which tipped the prominent points of his grave
visage with a sharp light, stood an old Indian, of massive figure and
swarthy hue, named Pamesack, or, as he was called in the English
translation of the Indian word, The Knife. This personage had been, for
some years past, at intervals, a privileged inmate of the Proprietary's
family, and was now, though consigned to a portion of the duties of the
evening, apparently an unconcerned spectator of the scene around him.
He smoked his pipe in silence, or if he spoke, it was seldom more than
in the short monosyllable, characteristic of the incommunicative habits
of his tribe.

"When I saw Dick Pagan, the James Town courier, coming into town this
evening with his leather pouch slung across his shoulder," said the
elder of the riders, "I guessed as much as that there would be matter
for the council. News from that quarter now-a-days is apt to bring
business for their worships. I warrant you the brother of Master
Fendall hath been contriving an outcome in Virginia. I heard John Rye,
the miller of St. Clements, say last Sunday afternoon, that Samuel
Fendall had forty mounted men ready in the forest to do his bidding
with broad-sword and carbine. And he would have done it too, if my Lord
had not laid him by the heels at unawares. He hath a savage spite
against my Lord and the chancellor both."

"But knew ye ever the like before," said John Alward, "that his
lordship should be in such haste to see their worships, he must needs
have us tramping over the country at midnight? By the virtue of my
belt, there must be a hot flavour in the news! It was a post haste
letter."

"Tush, copperface! What have you to do with the flavour of the news?
The virtue of thy belt, indeed! Precious little virtue is there within
its compass, ha, ha! You have little to complain of, John Alward, for a
midnight tramp. It is scant twelve miles from this to Mattapany, and
thine errand is done. Thou mayst be snoozing on a good truss of hay in
Master Sewall's stable before midnight, if you make speed. Think of my
ride all the way to Notley Hall,--and round about by the head of the
river too--for I doubt if I have any chance to get a cast over the
ferry to-night. Simon the boat-keeper is not often sober at this hour:
and if he was, a crustier churl--the devil warm his pillow!--doesn't
live 'twixt this and the old world. He gets out of his sleep for no
man."

"But it is a dark road mine," replied the groom. "A plague upon it! I
have no stomach for this bush and brier work, when a man can see the
limb of a tree no more than a cobweb."

"A dark road!" exclaimed the master of the kennels, laughing. "A dark
road, John! It is a long time, I trow, since there has been a dark road
for thy night rides, with that nose shining like a lighted link a half
score paces around thee. It was somewhat deadened last September, I
allow, when you had the marsh ague, and the doctor fed you for a week
on gruel--but it hath waxed lately as bright as ever. I wish I could
buckle it to my head-strap until to-morrow morning."

A burst of laughter, at this sally, which rang through the hall,
testified the effect of the falconer's wit and brought the groom to his
feet.

"'S blood, you grinning fools!" he ejaculated, "haven't you heard
Derrick's joke a thousand times before, that you must toss up your
scurvy ha-haws at it, as if it was new! He stole it--as the whole
hundred knows--from the fat captain, old Dauntrees in the fort there;
who would have got it back upon hue and cry, if it had been his
own;--but the truth is, the Captain filched it from a play-book, as the
surveyor told him in my hearing at Garret Weasel's, where the Captain
must needs have it for a laughing matter."

"It is a joke that burns fresh every night," replied Derrick; "a thing
to make light of. So, up with the bottom of the pot, boy, and feed it
with mother's milk: it will stand thee in stead to-night. Well done,
John Alward! I can commend thee for taking a jest as well as another."

"Master Derrick," said the other, "this is not the way to do his
Lordship's bidding: if we must go, we should be jogging now. I would I
had thy ride to take, instead of my own,--short as you think it."

"Ha, say you that! By the rochet, John, you shall have it, an it please
Master Secretary! But upon one condition."

"Upon what condition?"

"That you tell me honestly why you would choose to ride twenty miles to
Notley rather than twelve to Mattapany."

"Good Derrick," answered the groom, "it is but as a matter of
horsemanship. You have a broader road, and mine is a path much beset
with brush-wood. I like not the peril of being unhorsed."

"There is a lie in thy face, John Alward;--the Mattapany road is the
broadest and best of the two--is it not so, Pamesack?"

"It is the first that was opened by the white man," replied the Indian;
"and more people pass upon it than the other."

"John," said the falconer, "you are a coward. I will not put you to the
inventing another lie, but will wager I can tell you at one guess why
you would change with me."

"Out with it, Master Derrick!" exclaimed the bystanders.

"Oh, out with it!" repeated John Alward; "I heed not thy gibes."

"You fear the cross road," said the falconer; "you will not pass the
fisherman's grave."

"In troth, masters--I must needs own," replied the groom, "that I have
qualms. I never was ashamed to tell the truth, and confess that I am so
much of a sinner as to feel an honest fear of the devil and his doings.
I have known a horse to start and a rider to be flung at the cross road
before now:--there are times in the night when both horse and rider may
see what it turns one's blood into ice to look at. Nay, I am in
earnest, masters:--I jest not."

"Thou hast honestly confessed, like a brave man, that thou art a
coward, John Alward; and so it shall be a bargain between us. I will
take your message. I fear not Paul Kelpy--he has been down with that
stake through his body, ever too fast to walk abroad."

"There's my hand to it," said the groom, "and thanks to boot. I am no
coward, Derrick,--but have an infirmity which will not endure to look
by night in the lonesome woods, upon a spirit which walks with a great
shaft through it. Willy of the Flats saw it, in that fashion, as he
went home from the Viewer's feast on the eve of St. Agnes."

"Willy had seen too much of the Viewer's hollands that night," said
Derrick; "and they are spirits worth a dozen Paul Kelpys, even if the
whole dozen were trussed upon the same stake, like herrings hung up to
smoke. In spite of the fisherman and his bolt, I warrant you I pass
unchallenged betwixt this and Mattapany."

The secretary, soon after this, entered the hall and confirmed the
arrangements which had just been made. He accordingly delivered the
letters intended for Colonel Talbot and Nicholas Sewall to the
falconer, and that for Mr. Notley, the late lieutenant general of the
province, to John Alward. To the Indian was committed the duty of
bearing the missions to such members of the council as resided either
in the town or within a few miles of it. Holding it matter of
indifference whether he despatched this duty by night or by day, the
Knife took it in hand at once, and set forth, on foot, with a letter
for Colonel Digges, who lived about five miles off, at the same time
that the other two couriers mounted their horses for their lonesome
journeys through the forest.



CHAPTER VI.

    If we should wait till you, in solemn council
    With due deliberation had selected
    The smallest out of four and twenty evils,
    'I faith we should wait long.
    Dash and through with it--that's the better watchword,
    Then after, come what may come.

    PICCOLOMINI.


On the following day, the council, consisting of some four or five
gentlemen, were assembled at the Proprietary Mansion. About noon their
number was rendered complete, by the arrival of Colonel George Talbot,
who, mounted on a spirited, milk-white steed that smoked with the hot
vigour of his motion, dashed through the gate and alighted at the door.
A pair of pistols across his saddle-bow, and a poniard, partially
disclosed under his vest, demonstrated the precautions of the possessor
to defend himself against sudden assault, and no less denoted the
quarrelsome aspect of the times. His frame was tall, athletic, and
graceful; his eye hawk-like, and his features prominent and handsome,
at the same time indicative of quick temper and rash resolve. There was
in his dress a manifestation of the consciousness of a good figure--it
was the costume of a gallant of the times; and his bearing was
characteristic of a person accustomed to bold action and gay
companionship.

Talbot was a near kinsman of the Baltimore family, and besides being a
member of the Proprietary's council, he held the post of Surveyor
General, and commanded, also, the provincial militia on the northern
frontier, including the settlements on the Elk River, where he owned a
large manor, upon which he usually resided. At the present time he was
in the temporary occupation of a favourite seat of the Proprietary, at
Mattapany on the Patuxent, whither the late summons had been despatched
to call him to the council.

This gentleman was a zealous Catholic, and an ardent personal friend of
his kinsman, the Proprietary, whose cause he advocated with that
peremptory and, most usually, impolitic determination which his
imperious nature prompted, and which served to draw upon him the
peculiar hatred of Fendall and Coode, and their partisans. He was thus,
although a sincere, it may be imagined, an indiscreet adviser in state
affairs, little qualified to subdue or allay that jealous spirit of
proscription which, from the epoch of the Protectorate down to this
date, had been growing more intractable in the province.

Such was the individual who now with the firm stride and dauntless
carriage of a belted and booted knight of chivalry, to which his
picturesque costume heightened the resemblance, entered the apartment
where his seniors were already convened.

"Well met!" he exclaimed, as he flung his hat and gloves upon a table
and extended his hand to those who were nearest him. "How fares it,
gentlemen? What devil of mutiny is abroad now? Has that pimpled fellow
of fustian, that swiller of the leavings of a tap room, the worshipful
king of the Burgesses, master Jack Coode, got drunk again and begun to
bully in his cups? The falconer who hammered at my door last night, as
if he would have beaten your Lordship's house about my ears, could tell
me nothing of the cause of this sudden convocation, save that Driving
Dick had come in hot haste from James Town with letters that had set
the mansion here all agog, from his Lordship's closet down to the
scullery."

"With proper abatement for the falconer's love of gossip," said the
Proprietary, "he told you true. The letters are there on the table.
When you have read them, you will see that with good reason I might
make some commotion in my house."

Talbot ran his eye over the papers. "Well, and well--an old story!" he
said, as he threw one letter aside and took up another.
"Antichrist--the Red Lady of Babylon--the Jesuits--and the devil: we
have had it so often that the lecture is somewhat stale. The truculent
Papists are the authors of all evil! We had the Geneva band in fashion
for a time; but that wore out with old Noll. And then comes another
flight of kestrels, and we must have the thirty-nine articles served up
for a daily dish. That spider, Master Yeo, has grown to be a crony of
his grace the Archbishop of Canterbury, and is busy to knit his web
around every poor catholic fly of the province."

"This must be managed without temper," said Darnall, the oldest member
present, except the Chancellor. "Our adversaries will find their
advantage in our resolves, if made in the heat of passion."

"You say true," replied Talbot. "I am a fool in my humour; but it doth
move me to the last extremity of endurance to be ever goaded with this
shallow and hypocritical pretence of sanctity. They prate of the
wickedness of the province, forsooth! our evil deportment, and loose
living, and notorious scandal! all will be cured, in the opinion of
these solemn Pharisees, by turning that good man, Lord Charles and his
friends out of his own province, and by setting up parson Yeo in a fat
benefice under the wing of an established church."

"Read on," said Lord Baltimore, "and you shall see the sum of all, in
the argument that it is not fit Papists should bear rule over the
free-born subjects of the English crown; and, as a conclusion to that,
a summary order to discharge every friend of our holy church from my
employ."

Talbot read the letter to the end.

"So be it!" he ejaculated, as he threw the letter from him, and flung
himself back into his chair. "You will obey this high behest? With all
humbleness, we will thank these knaves for their many condescensions,
and their good favours. Your uncle, the Chancellor here, our old
frosted comrade, is the first that your Lordship will give bare-headed
to the sky. As for myself, I have been voted an incarnate devil in a
half dozen conclaves--and so Fendall shall be the surveyor. I hope your
Lordship will remember that I have a military command--a sturdy
stronghold in the fort of Christina--and some stout fellows with me on
the border. It might be hard to persuade them to part company with me."

"Peace, I pray you, peace!" interrupted the Proprietary; "you are
nettled, Talbot, and that is not the mood for counsel."

"These pious cut-throats here," said Talbot, "who talk of our
degeneracy, slander us to the whole world: and, faith, I am not of the
mind to bear it! I speak plainly what I have thought long since--and
would rather do than speak. I would arrest the ring-leaders upon a
smaller scruple of proof than I would set a vagrant in the stocks. You
have Fendall now, my Lord--I would have his fellows before long: and
the space between taking and trying should not add much to the length
of their beards:--between trying and hanging, still less."

"As to that," said the Proprietary, "every day brings us fresh
testimony of the sedition afoot, and we shall not be slow to do justice
on the parties. We have good information of the extent of the plot
against us, and but wait until an open act shall make their guilt
unquestionable. Master Coode is now upon bail only because we were
somewhat too hasty in his arrest. There are associates of Fendall's at
work who little dream of our acquaintance with their designs."

"When does your provincial court hold its sessions?" inquired the
Surveyor.

"In less than a month."

"It should make sure work and speedy," said Talbot. "Master Fendall
should find himself at the end of his tether at the first sitting."

"Ay, and Coode too," said one of the council: "notwithstanding that the
burgesses have stepped forward to protect him. The House guessed well
of the temper against your Lordship in England, when they stood up so
hardily, last month, in favour of Captain Coode, after your Lordship
had commanded his expulsion. It was an unnatural contumacy."

"In truth, we have never had peace in the province," said another,
"since Fendall was allowed to return from his banishment. That man hath
set on hotter, but not subtler spirits than his own. He has a quiet
craftiness which never sleeps nor loses sight of his purpose of
disturbance."

"Alas!" said the Proprietary, "he has not lacked material to work with.
The burgesses have been disaffected ever since my father's death. I
know not in what point of kindness I have erred towards them. God knows
I would cherish affection, not ill-will. My aim has ever been to do
justice to all men."

"Justice is not their aim, my Lord," exclaimed Talbot. "Oh, this zeal
for church is a pretty weapon! and honest Captain Coode, a dainty
champion to handle it! I would cut the spurs from that fowl, if I did
it with a cleaver!"

"He is but the fool in the hands of his betters," interposed Darnall.
"This discontent has a broad base. There are many in the province who,
if they will not take an open part against us, will be slow to rebuke
an outbreak--many who will counsel in secret who dare not show their
faces to the sun."

"These men have power to do us much harm," said Lord Baltimore, "and I
would entreat you, gentlemen, consider, how, by concession to a
moderate point, which may comport with our honour, we may allay these
irritations. Leaving that question for your future advisement, I ask
your attention to the letters. The King has commanded--for it is scarce
less than a royal mandate."

"Your Lordship," said Talbot, sarcastically, "has fallen under his
Majesty's disfavour. You have, doubtless, failed somewhat in your
courtesies to Nell Gwynn, or the gay Duchess; or have been wanting in
some observance of respect to old Tom Killigrew, the King's fool. His
Majesty is not wont to look so narrowly into state affairs."

"Hold, Talbot!" interrupted the Proprietary. "I would not hear you
speak slightingly of the King. He hath been friendly to me, and I will
not forget it. Though this mandate come in his name, King Charles, I
apprehend, knows but little of the matter. He has an easy conscience
for an importunate suitor. Oh, it grieves me to the heart, after all my
father's care for the province--and surely mine has been no less--it
grieves me to see this wayward fortune coming over our hopes like a
chill winter, when we looked for springtide, with its happy and
cheerful promises. I am not to be envied for my prerogative. Here, in
this new world, I have made my bed, where I had no wish but to lie in
it quietly: it has become a bed of thorns, and cannot bring rest to me,
until I am mingled with its dust. Well, since rebellion is the order of
the times, I must e'en myself turn rebel now against this order."

"Wherein might it be obeyed, my Lord?" asked Darnall. "You have already
given all the rights of conscience which the freemen could ask, and the
demand now is that you surrender your own. What servant would your
Lordship displace? Look around you: is Anthony Warden so incapable, or
so hurtful to your service that you might find plea to dismiss him?"

"There is no better man in the province than Anthony Warden," replied
the Proprietary, with warmth; "a just man; a good man in whatever duty
you scan him; an upright, faithful servant to his post. My Lords of the
Ministry would not and could not, if they knew him, ask me to remove
that man. I will write letters back to remonstrate against this
injustice."

"And say you will not displace a man, my Lord, come what may!"
exclaimed Talbot. "This battle must be fought--and the sooner the
better! Your Lordship will find your justification in the unanimous
resolve of your council."

This sentiment was echoed by all present, and by some of the more
discreet an admonition was added, advising the Proprietary to handle
the subject mildly with the ministry, in a tone of kind expostulation,
which, as it accorded with Lord Baltimore's own feeling, met his ready
acquiescence.

After despatching some business of less concern, the members of the
council dispersed.



CHAPTER VII.

    An old worshipful gentleman who had a great estate,
    That kept a brave old house at a bountiful rate.

    THE OLD AND YOUNG COURTIER.

    But who the countless charms can draw
      That grac'd his mistress true?
    Such charms the old world seldom saw,
      Nor oft, I ween, the new.

    Her raven hair plays round her neck
      Like tendrils of the vine;
    Her cheeks, red, dewy rose-buds deck,
      Her eyes like diamonds shine.

    BRYAN AND PEREENE.


Anthony Warden had resided in Maryland for forty years before the
period of this story. During the greater portion of this time he
performed the duties of the Collector of the Proprietary's revenues in
the port. By the persuasion of Cecilius Calvert he had become a settler
in the New World, where he had received from his patron the grant of a
large tract of land, which, in progress of time, under a careful course
of husbandry, rendered him a man of easy fortune. One portion of this
tract lay adjacent to the town, and stretched along the creek of St.
Inigoe's, constituting an excellent farm of several hundred acres. Upon
this land the Collector had dwelt from an early period of his
settlement.

A certain sturdiness of character that matched the perils of that
adventurous colonial life, and a vigorous intellect, gave Mr. Warden
great authority over the inhabitants of the province, which was
increased by the predominant honesty of purpose and plain, unpretending
directness of his nature. A bountiful purse and jocund temper enabled
and prompted him to indulge, almost without stint, that hospitality
which furnishes the most natural and appropriate enjoyment of those who
dwell remote from the busy marts of the world. His companionable habits
had left their tokens upon his exterior. His frame was corpulent, his
features strongly defined, his eye dark blue, with a mastiff kindness
in its glance. The flush of generous living had slightly overmastered
the wind-and-weather hue of his complexion, and given it the tints of a
ripe pear. Seventy years had beaten upon his poll without other badge
of conquest than that of a change of his brown locks to white;--their
volume was scarcely diminished, and they still fell in curls upon his
shoulders.

Two marriages had brought him a large family of children, of whom the
eldest (the only offspring of his first nuptials) was Alice Warden, a
maiden lady who now, well advanced in life, occupied the highest post
of authority in the household, which had, for several years past, been
transferred to her by the demise of the second wife. His sons had all
abandoned the paternal roof in the various pursuits of fortune, leaving
behind them, besides Mistress Alice, a sister, the youngest of the
flock, who, at the epoch at which I am about to present her, was just
verging towards womanhood.

The dwelling of the Collector stood upon the high bank formed by the
union of St. Inigoe's creek and St. Mary's river. It was, according to
the most approved fashion of that day, built of imported brick, with a
double roof penetrated by narrow and triangular-capped windows. The
rooms were large and embellished with carved wainscots and a profusion
of chiseled woodwork, giving them an elaborate and expensive aspect.
This main building overlooked, with a magisterial and protecting air, a
group of single-storied offices and out-houses which were clustered
around, one of which was appropriated by the Collector as his place of
business, and may still be seen with its decayed book-shelves, a
deserted ruin hard by the mansion which yet survives in tolerable
repair. This spacious domicil, with its broad porch, cottage-like
appendages and latticed sheds, was embosomed in the shade of elms and
mulberries, whose brown foliage, fanned by the autumnal breeze,
murmured in unison with the plashing tide that beat against the pebbles
immediately below. A garden in the rear, with trellised and vine-clad
gateways, and walks lined with box, which the traveller may yet behold
in venerable luxuriance, furnished good store of culinary dainties;
whilst a lawn, in front, occupying some two or three acres and bounded
by the cliff which formed the headland on the river, lay open to the
sun, and gave from the water an unobstructed view of the mansion. The
taste displayed in these embellishments, the neatness of the grounds,
the low, flower-spangled hedge of thorn that guarded the cliff, the
clumps of rose trees and other ornamental shrubs, disposed to gratify
the eye in the shifting seasons of their bloom, the various accessories
of rustic seats, bowers and parterres--all united to present an
agreeable and infallible index of that purity of mind which brought
into assemblage such simple and attractive elements of beauty.

All around the immediate domain of the dwelling-house were orchards,
woodlands and cultivated fields, with the usual barns and other
structures necessary in the process of agriculture;--the whole region
presenting a level plain, some fifty or sixty feet above the tide, of
singular richness as a landscape, and no less agreeable to be looked
upon for its associations with the idea of comfortable independence in
the proprietor. This homestead had obtained the local designation of
the Rose Croft,--a name, in some degree, descriptive of the predominant
embellishment of the spot.

In his attire, Master Anthony Warden, the worshipful Collector (to give
him his usual style of address in the province) exhibited some tendency
towards the coxcombry of his day. It was marked by that scrupulous
observance of the prerogative of rank and age which characterised the
costume of the olden time,--smacking no little of the flavour of the
official martinet. Authority, amongst our ancestors, was wont to borrow
consequence from show. The broad line which separated gentle from
simple was recognised, in those days, not less strongly in the
habiliments of the person than in his nurture and manners. The
divisions between the classes of society were not more authentically
distinguished in any outward sign than in the embroidered velvet or
cloth of the man of wealth, and the plain serge, worsted, or leather of
the craftsman. The Collector of St. Mary's, on festive occasions, went
forth arrayed much after the manner in which Leslie has represented Sir
Roger de Coverly, in his admirable painting of that knight; and
although he was too vain of his natural locks to adopt the periwig of
that period, yet he had trained his luxuriant tresses into a studied
imitation of this artificial adornment. His embroidered coat of drab
velvet, with wadded skirts and huge open cuffs, his lace wristbands,
his ample vest, and white lamb's-wool hose rolled above his knees, his
buckled shoe and three-cornered hat--all adjusted with a particularity
that would put our modern foppery to shame--gave to the worthy burgess
of St. Mary's a substantial ascendancy and an unquestioned regard, that
rendered him, next to the Proprietary, the most worshipful personage in
the province.

This pedantry of costume and the circumspect carriage which it exacted,
were pleasantly contrasted with the flowing vivacity of the wearer,
engendering by their concourse an amusing compound, which I might call
a fettered and pinioned alacrity of demeanour, the rigid stateliness of
exterior seeming rather ineffectually to encase, as a half-bursting
chrysalis, the wings of a gay nature.

Mr. Warden was reputed to be stubborn in opinion. The good people of
the town, aware of his pertinacity in this particular, had no mind to
make points with him, but, on the contrary, rather corroborated him in
his dogmatism by an amiable assentation; so that, it is said, he grew
daily more peremptory. This had become so much his prerogative, that
the Lord Proprietary himself gave way to it with as good a grace as the
rest of the inhabitants.

It may be imagined that so general a submission to this temper would
have the tendency to render him a little passionate. They say it was a
rich sight to see him in one of his flashes, which always took the
bystanders by surprise, like thunder in the midst of sunshine; but
these explosions were always short-lived, and rather left a more
wholesome and genial clearness in the atmosphere of his affections.

The household at the Rose Croft, I have hinted, was regulated by
Mistress Alice, who had, some time before our acquaintance with her,
reached that period of life at which the female ambition for display is
prone to subside into a love of domestic pursuits. It was now her chief
worldly care and delight to promote the comfort of those who
congregated around the family hearth. In the administration of this
office, it may be told to her praise, that she manifested that
unpretending good sense which is a much more rare and estimable quality
than many others of better acceptation with the world. As was natural
to her tranquil position and kindly temper, her feelings had taken a
ply towards devotion, which father Pierre did not omit to encourage and
confirm by all the persuasions enjoined by the discipline of the Romish
church. The gentle solicitude with which the ministers of that ancient
faith watch and assist the growing zeal of its votaries; the
captivation of its venerable ceremonies, and the familiar and endearing
tone in which it addresses itself to the regard of its children,
sufficiently account for its sway over so large a portion of mankind,
and especially for its hold upon the affections of the female breast.

Upon the thoughtful character of Alice Warden this influence shed a
mellow and attractive light, and gave to the performance of her daily
duties that orderly and uninterrupted cheerfulness which showed the
content of her spirit. She found an engrossing labour of love in
superintending the education of her sister. Blanche Warden had now
arrived within a span of her eighteenth year. Alice had guarded her
path from infancy with a mother's tenderness, ministering to her
enjoyments and instilling into her mind all that her own attainments,
circumscribed, it is true, within a narrow circle, enabled her to
teach. The young favourite had grown up under this domestic nurture,
aided by the valuable instructions of father Pierre, who had the
guidance of her studies, a warm-hearted girl, accomplished much beyond
the scant acquisitions ordinarily, at that day, within the reach of
women, and distinguished for that confiding gentleness of heart and
purity of thought and word which the caresses of friends, the
perception of the domestic affections, and seclusion from the busy
world are likely to engender in an ardent and artless nature.

Of the beauty of the Rose of St. Mary's (for so contemporaries were
wont to designate her) tradition speaks with a poetical fervour. I have
heard it said that Maryland, far-famed for lovely women, hath not since
had a fairer daughter. The beauty which lives in expression was
eminently hers; that beauty which is scarcely to be caught by the
painter,--which, changeful as the surface of the welling fountain where
all the fresh images of nature are for ever shifting and sparkling with
the glories of the mirror, defies the limner's skill. In stature she
was neither short nor tall, but distinguished by a form of admirable
symmetry both for grace and activity. Her features, it is scarce
necessary to say, were regular,--but not absolutely so, for, I know not
why, perfect regularity is a hinderance to expression. Eyes of dark
hazel, with long lashes that gave, by turns, a pensive and playful
light to her face, serving, at will, to curtain from the world the
thoughts which otherwise would have been read by friend and foe; hair
of a rich brown, glossy and, in some lights, even like the raven's
wing,--ample in volume and turning her brow and shoulders almost into
marble by the contrast; a complexion of spotless, healthful white and
red; a light, elastic step, responding to the gaiety of her heart; a
voice melodious and clear, gentle in its tones and various in its
modulation, according to the feeling it uttered;--these constituted no
inconsiderable items in the inventory of her perfections. Her spirit
was blithe, affectionate and quick in its sympathies; her ear credulous
to believe what was good, and slow to take an evil report. The
innocence of her thoughts kindled an habitual light upon her
countenance, which was only dimmed when the rough handling by fortune
of friend or kinsman was recounted to her, and brought forth the ready
tear--for that was ever as ready as her smile.

I might tell more of Blanche Warden, but that my task compels me to
hasten to the matter of my story.



CHAPTER VIII.

    The silk well could she twist and twine,
    And make the fine march-pine,
    And with the needle work:
    And she could help the priest to say
    His matins on a holiday
    And sing a psalm in kirk.

    DOWSABEL.


With such attractions for old and young it will readily be believed
that the Rose Croft was a favourite resort of the inhabitants of St.
Mary's. The maidens gathered around Blanche as a May-day queen; the
matrons possessed in Mistress Alice a discreet and kind friend, and the
more sedate part of the population found an agreeable host in the
worthy official himself.

The family of the Lord Proprietary sustained the most intimate
relations with this household. It is true that Lady Baltimore, being
feeble in health and stricken with grief at the loss of her son, which
yet hung with scarcely abated poignancy upon her mind, was seldom seen
beyond her own threshold; but his Lordship's sister, the Lady Maria--as
she was entitled in the province--was a frequent and ever most welcome
guest. Whether this good lady had the advantage of the Proprietary in
years, would be an impertinent as well as an unprofitable inquiry,
since no chronicler within my reach has thought fit to instruct the
world on this point; and, if it were determined, the fact could neither
heighten nor diminish the sober lustre of her virtues. Suffice it that
she was a stirring, tidy little woman, who moved about with
indefatigable zeal in the acquittal of the manifold duties which her
large participation in the affairs of the town exacted of her--the Lady
Bountiful of the province who visited the sick, fed the hungry, clothed
the naked and chid the idle. She especially befriended such
nursing-mothers as those whose scanty livelihood withheld from them the
necessary comforts of their condition, and, in an equal degree,
extended her bounty to such of the colonists as had been disabled in
the military service of the province,--holding these two concerns of
population and defence to be high state matters which her family
connexion with the government most cogently recommended to her care.
Though it is reported of her, that a constitutional tendency towards a
too profuse distribution of nick-nacks and sweet-meats amongst her
invalids, gave great concern and embarrassment to the physician of the
town, and bred up between him and the lady a somewhat stubborn, but
altogether good-natured warfare. She was wont to look in upon the
provincial school-house, where, on stated occasions, she gave the young
train-bands rewards for good conduct, and where she was also diligent
to rebuke all vicious tendencies. In the early morning she tripped
through the dew, with scrupulous regularity, to mass; often
superintended the decorations of the chapel; gossiped with the
neighbours after service, and, in short, kept her hands full of
business.

Her interest in the comfort and welfare of the towns-people grew partly
out of her temperament, and partly out of a feudal pride that regarded
them as the liegemen of her brother the chief,--a relation which she
considered as creating an obligation to extend to them her countenance
upon all proper occasions: and, sooth to say, that countenance was not
perhaps the most comely in the province, being somewhat sallow, but it
was as full of benevolence as became so exemplary a spirit. She watched
peculiarly what might be called the under-growth, and was very
successful in worming herself into the schemes and plans of the young
people. Her entertainments at the mansion were frequent, and no less
acceptable to the gayer portion of the inhabitants than they were to
her brother. On these occasions she held a little court, over which she
presided with an amiable despotism, and fully maintained the state of
the Lord Proprietary. By these means the Lady Maria had attained to an
over-shadowing popularity in the town.

Blanche Warden had, from infancy, engaged her deepest solicitude; and
as she took to herself no small share of the merit of that nurture by
which her favourite had grown in accomplishment, she felt, in the
maiden's praises which every where rang through the province, an almost
maternal delight. Scarcely a day passed over without some manifestation
of this concern. New patterns of embroidery, music brought by the last
ship from _home_, some invitation of friendship or letter of counsel,
furnished occasions of daily intercourse between the patroness and the
maiden of the Rose Croft; and not unfrequently the venerable spinster
herself,--attended by a familiar in the shape of a little Indian girl,
Natta, the daughter of Pamesack, arrayed in the trinketry of her
tribe--alighted from an ambling pony at the Collector's door, with a
face full of the importance of business. Perchance, there might be an
occasion of merry-making in contemplation, and then the lady Maria
united in consultation with sister Alice concerning the details of the
matter, and it was debated, with the deliberation due to so interesting
a subject, whether Blanche should wear her black or her crimson velvet
boddice, her sarsnet or her satin, and such other weighty matters as
have not yet lost their claims to thoughtful consideration on similar
emergencies.

In the frequent interchange of the offices of good neighbourhood
between the families of the Proprietary and of the Collector, it could
scarce fall out that the Secretary should not be a large participator.
The shyness of the student and the habitual self-restraint taught him
in the seminary of Antwerp, in some degree, screened from common
observation the ardent character of Albert Verheyden. The deferential
relation which he held to his patron threw into his demeanour a reserve
expressive of humility rather than of diffidence; but under this there
breathed a temperament deeply poetical and a longing for enterprise,
that all the discipline of his school and the constraint of his
position could scarce suppress. He was now at that time of life when
the imagination is prone to dally with illusions; when youth, not yet
yoked to the harness of the world's business, turns its spirit forth to
seek adventure in the domain of fancy. He was thus far a dreamer, and
dreamed of gorgeous scenes and bold exploits and rare fortune. He had
the poet's instinct to perceive the beautiful, and his fancy hung it
with richer garlands and charmed him into a worshipper. A mute
worshipper he was, of the Rose of St. Mary's, from the first moment
that he gazed upon her. That outward form of Blanche Warden, and the
motion and impulses of that spirit, might not often haunt the
Secretary's dream without leaving behind an image that should live for
ever in his heart. To him the thought was enchantment, that in this
remote wild, far away from the world's knowledge, a flower of such
surpassing loveliness should drink the glorious light in solitude,--for
so he, schooled in populous cities, deemed of this sequestered
province,--and with this thought came breathings of poetry which
wrought a transfiguration of the young votary and lifted him out of the
sphere of this "working-day world." Day after day, week after week, and
month after month, the Secretary watched the footsteps of the beautiful
girl; but still it was silent, unpresuming adoration. It entered not
into his mind to call it love: it was the very humbleness of devotion.

Meantime the maiden, unconscious of her own rare perfections and
innocent of all thought of this secret homage, found Master Albert much
the most accomplished and gentle youth she had ever seen. He had,
without her observing how it became so, grown to be, in some relation
or other, part and parcel of her most familiar meditations. His
occasions of business with the Collector brought him so often to the
Rose Croft that if they happened not every day, they were, at least,
incidents of such common occurrence as to be noted by no
ceremony--indeed rather to be counted on in the domestic routine. The
Collector was apt to grow restless if, by any chance, they were
suspended, as it was through the Secretary's mission he received the
tidings of the time as well as the official commands of the
Proprietary; whilst Albert's unobtrusive manners, his soft step and
pretensionless familiarity with the household put no one out of the way
to give him welcome. His early roaming in summer sometimes brought him,
at sunrise, beneath the bank of the Rose Croft, where he looked, with
the admiration of an artist, upon the calm waters of St. Inigoe's
Creek, and upon the forest that flung its solemn shades over its
farther shores. Not unfrequently, the fresh and blooming maiden had
left her couch as early as himself, and tended her plants before the
dew had left the leaves, and thus it chanced that she would find him in
his vocation; and, like him, she took pleasure in gazing on that bright
scene, when it was the delight of both to tell each other how beautiful
it was. And when, in winter, the rain pattered from the eaves and the
skies were dark, the Secretary, muffled in his cloak, would find his
road to the Collector's mansion and help the maiden to while away the
tedious time. Even "when lay the snow upon a level with the hedge," the
two long miles of unbeaten track did not stop his visit, for the
Secretary loved the adventure of such a journey; and Blanche often
smiled to see how manfully he endured it, and how light he made of the
snow-drift which the wind had sometimes heaped up into billows, behind
which the feather of his bonnet might not be discovered while he sat
upon his horse.

In this course of schooling Blanche and Albert grew into a near
intimacy, and the maiden became dependent, for some share of her
happiness, upon the Secretary without being aware. Master Albert had an
exquisite touch of the lute and a rich voice to grace it, and Blanche
found many occasions to tax his skill: he had a gallant carriage on
horseback, and she needed the service of a cavalier: he was expert in
the provincial sport of hawking, and had made such acquaintance with
Blanche's merlin that scarce any one else could assist the maiden in
casting off Ariel to a flight. In short, Blanche followed the bent of
her own ingenuous and truthful nature, and did full justice to the
Secretary's various capacity to please her, by putting his talents in
requisition with an unchidden freedom, and without once pausing to
explore the cause why Master Albert always came so opportunely to her
thoughts. Doubtless, if she had had the wit to make this inquiry the
charm of her liberty would have been broken, and a sentinel would, ever
after, have checked the wandering of her free footstep.

The Collector, in regard to this intercourse, was sound asleep. His
wise head was taken up with the concerns of the province, his estate,
and the discussion of opinions that had little affinity to the topics
likely to interest the meditations of a young maiden. He was not apt to
see a love-affair, even if it lay, like a fallen tree, across his path,
much less to hunt it out when it lurked like a bird amongst the flowers
that grew in the shady coverts by the wayside. The astuteness of the
lady Maria, however, was not so much at fault, and she soon discovered,
what neither Blanche nor Albert had sufficiently studied to make them
aware of their own category. But the Secretary was in favour with the
lady Maria, and so, she kept her own counsel, as well as a good-natured
watch upon the progress of events.



CHAPTER IX.


Towards noon of the day on which the council held their session, a
troop of maidens was seen issuing from the chapel. Their number might
have been eight or ten. The orderly step with which they departed from
the door was exchanged for a playful haste in grouping together when
they got beyond the immediate precincts of the place of worship. Their
buoyant carriage and lively gesticulations betokened the elasticity of
health which was still more unequivocally shown in their ruddy
complexions and well rounded forms.

Their path lay across the grassy plain towards the town, and passed
immediately within the space embowered by an ancient, spreading poplar,
scarce a hundred paces in front of the chapel. When the bevy reached
this spot, they made a halt and gathered around one of their number,
who seemed to be the object of a mirthful and rather tumultuary
importunity. The individual thus beset was Blanche Warden. Together
with a few elderly dames, who were at this moment standing at the door
of the chapel in parley with father Pierre, this troop had constituted
the whole congregation who had that morning attended the service of the
festival of St. Bridget.

"Holy mother, how I am set upon!" exclaimed Blanche, as, half smiling
and half earnest, she turned her back against the trunk of the tree.
"Have I not said I could not? Why should my birth-day be so remembered
that all the town must be talking about it?"

"You did promise," said one of the party, "or at least, Mistress Alice
promised for you, full six months ago, that when you came to eighteen
we should have a merry-making at the Rose Croft."

"It would not be seemly--I should be thought bold," replied the maiden,
"to be turning my birth-day into a feast. Indeed, I must not and
cannot, playmates."

"There is no must not nor cannot in our books, Blanche Warden,"
exclaimed another, "but simply we will. There is troth plighted for it,
and that's enough for us. So we hold to that, good Blanche."

"Yes, good Blanche! gentle Blanche! sweetheart, we hold to that!" cried
the whole party, in a clamorous onset.

"Truly, Grace Blackiston, you will have father Pierre checking us for
noisy behaviour," said the maiden. "You see that he is now looking
towards us. It is a pretty matter to make such a coil about! I marvel,
has no one ever been eighteen before!"

"This day se'nnight," replied the arch girl to whom this reprimand was
addressed, "will be the first day, Blanche Warden, the Rose of St.
Mary's has ever seen eighteen; and it will be the last I trow: and what
comes and goes but once in the wide world should be accounted a rare
thing, and rarities should be noticed, sweetheart."

"If I was coming eighteen," said a damsel who scarce reached as high as
Blanche's shoulder, "and had as pretty a house for a dance as the Rose
Croft, there should be no lack of sport amongst the towns-people."

"It is easy to talk on a two year's venture, little Madge," replied
Blanche; "for that is far enough off to allow space for boasting. But
gently, dear playmates! do not clamour so loud. I would do your bidding
with good heart if I thought it would not be called something froward
in me to be noising my age abroad, as if it was my lady herself."

"We will advise with father Pierre and Lady Maria," responded Grace
Blackiston; "they are coming this way."

At this moment the reverend priest, and the ladies with whom he had
been in conversation, approached. The sister of the Proprietary was
distinguished as well by her short stature and neat attire, as by her
little Indian attendant, who followed bearing the lady's missal. The
tall figure of father Pierre, arrayed in his black tunic and belt,
towered above his female companions. He bore his square bonnet of black
cloth in his hand, disclosing a small silk cap closely fitted to his
crown, fringed around with the silver locks which, separating on his
brow, gave the grace of age to a countenance full of benignity.

The presence of the churchman subdued the eager gaiety of the crowd,
and two or three of the maidens ran up to him with an affectionate
familiarity to make him acquainted with the subject of their
contention.

"Father," said Grace Blackiston, "we have a complaint to lodge against
Mistress Blanche for a promise-breaker. You must counsel her, father,
to her duty."

"Ah, my child! pretty Blanche!" exclaimed the priest, with the alacrity
of his native French temper, as he took the assailed damsel by the
hand, "what have they to say against you? I will be your friend as well
as your judge."

"The maidens, father," replied Blanche, "have taken leave of their
wits, and have beset me like mad-caps to give them a dance at the Rose
Croft on my birth-day. And I have stood on my refusal, father Pierre,
as for a matter that would bring me into censure for pertness--as I am
sure you will say it would--with worshipful people, that a damsel who
should be modest in her behaviour, should so thrust herself forward to
be observed."

"And we do not heed that, father Pierre," interrupted Grace Blackiston,
who assumed to be the spokeswoman of the party, "holding it a scruple
more nice than wise. Blanche has a trick of standing back more than a
maiden needs. And, besides, we say that Mistress Alice is bound by
pledge of word, and partly Blanche, too--for she stood by and said
never a syllable against it--that we should have good cheer and dancing
on that day at the Rose Croft. It is the feast of the blessed virgin,
Terese, and we would fain persuade Blanche that the festival should be
kept for the sake of her birth-day saint."

"My children," said the priest, who during this debate stood in the
midst of the blooming troop, casting his glances from one to another
with the pleased expression of an interested partaker of their mirth,
and at the same time endeavouring to assume a countenance of mock
gravity, "we will consider this matter with impartial justice. And,
first, we will hear all that Mistress Blanche has to say. It is a
profound subject. Do you admit the promise, my child?"

"I do not deny, father Pierre, that last Easter, when we met and danced
at Grace Blackiston's, my sister Alice did make some promise, and I
said nothing against it. But it was an idle speech of sister Alice,
which I thought no more of till now; and now should not have remembered
it if these wild mates of mine had not sung it in my ear with such
clamour as must have made you think we had all gone mad."

"It is honestly confessed," said father Pierre; "and though I heard the
outcry all the way to the church door, yet I did not deem the damsels
absolutely mad, as you supposed. I am an old man, my child, and I have
been taught by my experience, in what key seven, eight, or nine young
girls will make known their desires when they are together: and, truly,
it is their nature to speak all at the same time. They speak more than
they listen--ha, ha! But we shall be mistaken if we conclude they are
mad."

"Blanche, love," interposed the Lady Maria, "you have scarce given a
good reason for gainsaying the wish of the damsels. Have a care, or you
may find me a mutineer on this question."

"That's a rare lady--a kind lady!" shouted several. "Now, Blanche, you
have no word of denial left."

"I am at mercy," said the maiden, "if my good mistress, the Lady Maria,
is not content. Whatever my sister Alice and my father shall approve,
and you, dear lady, shall say befits my state, that will I undertake
right cheerfully. I would pleasure the whole town in the way of
merry-making, if I may do so without seeming to set too much account
upon so small a matter as my birth-day. I but feared it would not be
well taken in one so young as I am."

"I will answer it to the town," said the Lady Maria. "It shall be done
as upon my motion; and Mistress Alice shall take order in the matter as
a thing wherein you had no part. Will that content you, Blanche?"

"I will be ruled in all things by my dear lady," replied the maiden.
"You will speak to my father?"

"It shall be my special duty to look after it forthwith," responded the
lady.

"Luckily," said father Pierre, laughing, "this great business is
settled without the aid of the church. Well, I have lost some of my
consequence in the winding up, and the Lady Maria is in the ascendant.
I will have my revenge by being as merry as any of you at the feast.
So, good day, mes enfants!"

With this sally, the priest left the company and retired to his
dwelling hard by the chapel. The Lady Maria and her elderly companions
moved towards the town, whilst the troop of damsels with increased
volubility pursued their noisy triumph, and with rapid steps hastened
to their several homes.



CHAPTER X.


The Crow and Archer presented a busy scene on the evening of the day
referred to in the last chapter. A report had been lately spread
through the country that the brig Olive Branch,--an occasional trader
between the province and the coasts of Holland and England--had arrived
at St. Mary's. In consequence of this report there had been, during the
last two days, a considerable accession to the usual guests of the inn,
consisting of travellers both by land and water. Several small sloops
and other craft had come into the harbour, and a half score inland
proprietors had journeyed from their farms on horse-back, and taken up
their quarters under the snug roof of Garret Weasel. The swarthy and
gaunt watermen, arrayed in the close jackets and wide kilt-like
breeches and in the parti-coloured, woollen caps peculiar to their
vocation, were seen mingling in the tap-room with the more substantial
cultivators of the soil. A few of the burghers of St. Mary's were found
in the same groups, drawn thither by the love of company, the
occasions, perchance, of business, or the mere attraction of an evening
pot and pipe. The greater portion of this assemblage were loitering
between the latticed bar of the common room, and the quay in front of
the house, which had somewhat of the occupation and bustle of a little
exchange. On a bench, in one corner of the tap-room, sat, in a ragged,
patched coat resembling a pea-jacket, a saucy, vagrant-looking fiddler,
conspicuous for a red face and a playful light blue eye; he wore a
dingy, pliant white hat, fretted at the rim, set daintily on one side
of his head, from beneath which his yellow locks depended over either
cheek, completely covering his ears; and all the while scraped his
begrimed and greasy instrument to a brisk tune, beating time upon the
floor with a huge hob-nailed shoe. This personage had a vagabond
popularity in the province under the name of Will of the Flats--a
designation no less suited to his musical commodity than to the
locality of his ostensible habitation, which was seated on the flats of
Patuxent, not above fifteen miles from St. Mary's, where he was tenant
of a few acres of barren marsh and a lodge or cabin not much larger
than a good dog kennel.

Will's chief compeer and brother in taste and inclination, though of
more affluent fortune, was Dick Pagan, or Driving Dick, according to
his more familiar appellation, the courier who had lately brought the
missives from James Town; a hard-favoured, weather-beaten, sturdy,
little bow-legged fellow, in russet boots and long spurs, and wrapt in
a coarse drab doublet secured by a leathern belt, with an immense brass
buckle in front. Old Pamesack, likewise, formed a part of the group,
and might have been observed seated on a settle at the door, quietly
smoking his pipe, as unmoved by the current of idlers which ebbed and
flowed past him, as the old barnacled pier of the quay by the daily
flux and reflux of the river.

Such were the guests who now patronised the thriving establishment of
Master Weasel. These good people were not only under the care, but also
under the command of our hostess the dame Dorothy, who was a woman by
no means apt to overlook her prerogative. The dame having been on a
visit to a neighbour did not show herself in the tap-room until near
the close of the day; in the mean time leaving her customers to the
unchidden enjoyment of their entertainment which was administered by
Matty Scamper,--a broad-chested, red-haired and indefatigable damsel,
who in her capacity of adjutant to the hostess, had attained to great
favour with the patrons of the tavern by her imperturbable good nature
and ready answer to all calls of business. As for Master Weasel, never
did pleasure-loving monarch more cheerfully surrender his kingdom to
the rule of his minister than he to whatever power for the time was
uppermost,--whether the dame herself, or her occasional vicegerent
Matty of the Saucepan.

Matty's rule, however, was now terminated by the arrival of Mistress
Weasel herself. It is fit I should give my reader some perception of
the exterior of the hostess, as a woman of undoubted impression and
consideration with the towns-people. Being now in her best attire which
was evidently put on with a careful eye to effect, I may take occasion
to say that one might suspect her of a consciousness of some deficiency
of height, as well as of an undue breadth of figure, both which
imperfections she had studied to conceal. She wore a high conical hat
of green silk garnished with a band of pink ribbon which was set on by
indentation or teethwise, and gathered in front into a spirited cluster
of knots. Her jacket, with long tight sleeves, was also of green silk,
adapted closely to her shape, now brought into its smallest compass by
the aid of stays, and was trimmed in the same manner as the hat. A full
scarlet petticoat reached within a span of her ankles and disclosed a
buxom, well-formed leg in brown stocking with flashy clocks of thickly
embossed crimson, and a foot, of which the owner had reason to be
proud, neatly pinched into a green shoe with a tottering high heel. Her
black hair hung in plaits down her back; and her countenance,--distinguished
by a dark waggish eye, a clear complexion, and a turned-up nose, to
which might be added a neck both fat and fair, half concealed by a
loose kerchief,--radiated with an expression partly wicked and partly
charitable, but in every lineament denoting determination and constancy
of purpose. This air of careless boldness was not a little heightened
by the absence of all defence to her brow from the narrow rim of the
hat and the height at which it was elevated above her features.

The din of the tap-room was hushed into momentary silence as soon as
this notable figure appeared on the threshold.

"Heaven help these thirsty, roystering men!" she exclaimed, as she
paused an instant at the door and surveyed the group within--"On my
conscience, they are still at it as greedily as if they had just come
out of a dry lent! From sunrise till noon, and from noon till night it
is all the same--drink, drink, drink. Have ye news of Master
Cocklescraft?--I would that the Olive Branch were come and gone, that I
might sit under a quiet roof again!--there is nothing but riot and
reeling from the time the skipper is expected in the port until he
leaves it."

"True enough, jolly queen!" said Ralph Haywood, a young inland planter,
taking the hand of the merry landlady as she struggled by him on her
way to the bar--"what the devil, in good earnest, has become of
Cocklescraft? This is the second day we have waited for him. I half
suspect you, mistress, of a trick to gather good fellows about you, by
setting up a false report of the Olive Branch."

"Thou art a lying varlet, Ralph," quickly responded the dame: "you
yourself came jogging hither with the story that Cocklescraft was seen
two days ago, beating off the Rappahannock.--I play a trick on you,
truly! You must think I have need of custom, to bring in a troop of
swilling bumpkins from the country who would eat and drink out the
character of any reputable house in the hundred, without so much as one
doit of profit. You have my free leave to tramp it back again to
Providence, Ralph Haywood, whenever you have a mind."

"Nay, now you quarrel with an old friend, Mistress Dorothy."

"Take thy hand off my shoulder, Ralph, thou coaxing villain!--Ha, ha, I
warrant you get naught but vinegar from me, for your treacle.--But
come--thou art a good child, and shalt have of the best in this
house:--I would only warn you to call for it mannerly, Master Ralph."

"Our dame is a woman of mettle," said another of the company, as the
landlady escaped from the planter and took her station behind the bar.

"What has become of that man Weasel?" she inquired somewhat petulantly.
"The man I am sure has been abroad ever since I left the house! He is
of no more value than a cracked pot;--he would see me work myself as
thin as a broom handle before he would think of turning himself round."

"Garret is now upon the quay," replied one of the customers;--"I saw
him but a moment since with Arnold the Ranger."

"With some idle stroller,--you may be sure of that!" interrupted the
hostess:--"never at his place, if the whole house should go dry as
Cuthbert's spring at midsummer. Call him to me, if you please, Master
Shortgrass.--Michael Curtis, that wench Matty Scamper has something to
do besides listen to your claverings! Matty, begone to the kitchen;
these country cattle will want their suppers presently.--Oh, Willy,
Willy o' the Flats!--for the sake of one's ears, in mercy, stop that
everlasting twangling of your old crowd!--It would disgrace the
patience of any Christian woman in the world to abide in the midst of
all this uproar!--Nay then, come forward, old crony--I would not offend
thee," she said in a milder tone to the fiddler. "Here is a cup of ale
for thee, and Matty will give you your supper to-night. I have danced
too often to thy music to deny thee a comfort;--so, drink as you will!
but pray you rest your elbow for a while."

"And there is a shilling down on the nail," said Driving Dick, as he
and the crowder came together to the bar at the summons of the
landlady: "when that is drunk out, dame, give me a space of warning,
that I may resolve whether we shall go another shot."

"Master Shortgrass told me you had need of me," said Garret Weasel, as
he now entered the door;--"what wouldst with me, wife Dorothy?"

"Get you gone!" replied the wife--"thou art ever in the way. I warrant
your head is always thrust in place when it is not wanted! If you had
been at your duty an hour ago, your service might have been useful."

"I can but return to the quay," said Garret, at the same time beginning
to retrace his steps.

"Bide thee!" exclaimed the dame in a shrill voice--"I have occasion for
you. Go to the cellar and bring up another stoop of hollands; these
salt water fish have no relish for ale--they must deal in the
strong:--nothing but hollands or brandy for them."

The obedient husband took the key of the cellar and went on the duty
assigned him.

At this moment a door communicating with an adjoining apartment was
thrown ajar and the head of Captain Dauntrees protruded into the
tap-room.

"Mistress Dorothy," he said--"at your leisure, pray step this way."

The dame tarried no longer than was necessary to complete a measure she
was filling for a customer, and then went into the room to which she
had been summoned. This was a little parlour, where the Captain of
musqueteers had been regaling himself for the last hour over a jorum of
ale, in solitary rumination. An open window gave to his view the full
expanse of the river, now glowing with the rich reflexions of sunset;
and a balmy October breeze played through the apartment and refreshed
without chilling the frame of the comfortable Captain. He was seated
near the window in a large easy chair when the hostess entered.

"Welcome dame," he said, without rising from his seat, at the same time
offering his hand, which was readily accepted by the landlady.--"By St.
Gregory and St. Michael both, a more buxom and tidy piece of flesh and
blood hath never sailed between the two headlands of Potomac, than thou
art! You are for a junketing, Mistress Dorothy; you are tricked out
like a queen this evening! I have never seen thee in thy new suit
before. Thou art as gay as a marygold: and I wear thy colours, thou
laughing mother of mischief! Green is the livery of thy true knight.
Has your goodman, honest Garret, come home yet, dame?"

"What would you with my husband, Master Baldpate? There is no good in
the wind when you throw yourself into the big chair of this parlour."

"In truth, dame, I only came to make a short night of it with you and
your worthy spouse. Do not show your white teeth at me, hussy,--you are
too old to bite. Tell Matty to spread supper for me in this parlour.
Arnold and Pamesack will partake with me; and if the veritable and most
authentic head of this house--I mean yourself, mistress--have no need
of Garret, I would entreat to have him in company. By the hand of thy
soldier, Mistress Dorothy! I am glad to see you thrive so in your
calling. You will spare me Garret, dame? Come, I know you have not
learnt how to refuse me a boon."

"You are a saucy Jack, Master Captain," replied the dame. "I know you
of old: you would have a rouse with that thriftless babe my husband.
You sent him reeling home only last night. How can you look me in the
face, knowing him, as you do, for a most shallow vessel, Captain
Dauntrees?"

"Fie on thee, dame! You disgrace your own flesh and blood by such
speech. Did you not choose him for his qualities?--ay, and with all
circumspection, as a woman of experience. You had two husbands before
Garret, and when you took him for a third, it was not in ignorance of
the sex. Look thee in the face! I dare,--yea, and at thy whole
configuration. Faith, you wear most bravely, Mistress Weasel! Stand
apart, and let me survey: turn thy shoulders round," he added, as by a
sleight he twirled the dame upon her heel so as to bring her back to
his view--"thou art a woman of ten thousand, and I envy Garret such
store of womanly wealth."

"If Garret were the man I took him for, Master Captain," said the dame
with a saucy smile, "you would have borne a broken head long since. But
he has his virtues, such as they are,--though they may lie in an
egg-shell: and Garret has his frailties too, like other men: alack,
there is no denying it!"

"Frailties, forsooth! Which of us has not, dame? Garret is an honest
man;--somewhat old--a shade or so: yet it is but a shade. For my sake,
pretty hostess, you will allow him to sup with us? Speak it kindly,
sweetheart--good, old Garret's jolly, young wife!"

"Thou wheedling devil!" said the landlady; "Garret is no older than
thou art. But, truly, I may say he is of little account in the
tap-room; so, he shall come to you, Captain. But, look you, he is weak,
and must not be over-charged."

"He shall not, mistress--you have a soldier's word for that. I could
have sworn you would not deny me. Hark you, dame,--bring thine ear to
my lips;--a word in secret."

The hostess bent her head down, as the Captain desired, when he said in
a half whisper, "Send me a flask of the best,--you understand? And
there's for thy pains!" he added, as he saluted her cheek with a kiss.

"And there's for thy impudence, saucy Captain!" retorted the spirited
landlady as she bestowed the palm of her hand on the side of his head
and fled out of the apartment.

Dauntrees sprang from his chair and chased the retreating dame into the
midst of the crowd of the tap-room, by whose aid she was enabled to
make her escape. Here he encountered Garret Weasel, with whom he went
forth in quest of Arnold and the Indian, who were to be his guests at
supper.

In the course of the next half hour the Captain and his three comrades
were assembled in the little parlour around the table, discussing their
evening meal. When this was over, Matty was ordered to clear the board
and to place a bottle of wine and glasses before the party, and then to
leave the room.

"You must know, Garret," said Dauntrees when the serving-maid had
retired, "that we go to-night to visit the Wizard's Chapel by his
Lordship's order; and as I would have stout fellows with me, I have
come down here on purpose to take you along."

"Heaven bless us, Master Jasper Dauntrees!" exclaimed Garret, somewhat
confounded with this sudden appeal to his valour, which was not of that
prompt complexion to stand so instant a demand, and yet which the
publican was never willing to have doubted--"truly there be three of
you, and it might mar the matter to have too many on so secret an
outgoing"----

"Tush, man,--that has been considered. His Lordship especially looks to
your going: you cannot choose but go."

"But my wife, Captain Dauntrees"----

"Leave that to me," said the Captain; "I will manage it as handsomely
as the taking of Troy. Worthy Garret, say naught against it--you must
go, and take with you a few bottles of Canary and a good luncheon of
provender in the basket. You shall be our commissary. I came on set
purpose to procure the assistance of your experience, and store of
comfortable sustenance. Get the bottles, Garret,--his Lordship pays the
scot to-night."

"I should have my nag," said Garret, "and the dame keeps the key of the
stable, and will in no wise consent to let me have it. She would
suspect us for a rouse if I but asked the key."

"I will engage for that, good Weasel," said Dauntrees: "I will cozen
the dame with some special invention which shall put her to giving the
key of her own motion: she shall be coaxed with a device that shall
make all sure--only say you will obey his Lordship's earnest desire."

"It is a notable piece of service," said the innkeeper, meditating over
the subject, and tickled with the importance which was ascribed to his
cooperation--"and will win thanks from the whole province. His Lordship
did wisely to give it in charge to valiant men."

"In faith did he," replied the Captain; "and it will be the finishing
stroke of thy fortunes. You will be a man of mark for ever after."

"I am a man to be looked to in a strait, Captain," said Weasel, growing
valorous with the thought. "I saw by his Lordship's eye yesternight
that he was much moved by what I told him. I have had a wrestle with
devils before now."

Arnold smiled and cast his eye towards the Indian, who, immediately
after supper, had quitted the table and taken a seat in the window.

"There be hot devils and cold devils," said he, "and he that wrestles
with them must have a hand that will hold fire as well as ice: that is
true, Pamesack?"

"Pamesack has no dealing with the white man's devil," replied the
Indian; "he has enough to do with his own."

"Drink some wine, old blade," said Dauntrees as he presented a cup to
Pamesack; "the Knife must be sharp to-night--this will whet his edge.
We shall have need of your woodcraft."

The Indian merely sipped the wine, as he replied, "Pamesack knows the
broad path and the narrow both. He can lead you to the Black House day
or night."

"Brandy is more natural to his throat than this thin drink," said
Weasel, who forthwith left the room and returned with a measure of the
stronger liquor. When this was presented Pamesack swallowed it at a
draught, and with something approaching a laugh, he said, "It is the
white man's devil--but the Indian does not fear him."

"Now, Garret," said Dauntrees, "we have no time to lose. Make ready
your basket and bottles, and lay them at the foot of the cedar below
the bank, near the Town House steps; then hasten back to the parlour. I
will put the dame to sending you on an errand which may be done only on
horseback;--you will mount with the basket and make speedy way to the
Fort. Tell Nicholas Verbrack, the lieutenant, that I shall be there in
reasonable time. We must set forth by ten; it may take us three hours
to reach St. Jerome's."

"My heart is big enough," said Weasel, once more beginning to waver,
"for any venture; but, in truth, I fear the dame. It will be a livelong
night carouse, and she is mortal against that. What will she say in the
morning?"

"What can she say, when all is come and gone, but, perchance, that thou
wert rash and hot-headed? That will do you no harm: but an hour ago she
swore to me that you were getting old--and sighed too, as if she
believed her words."

"Old, did she say? Ho, mistress, I will show you my infirmities! A fig
for her scruples! the hey-day blood yerks yet, Master Captain. I will
go with thee, comrades: I will follow you to any goblin's chapel twixt
St. Mary's and Christina."

"Well said, brave vintner!" exclaimed the Captain; "now stir thee! And
when you come back to the parlour, Master Weasel, you shall find the
dame here. Watch my eye and take my hint, so that you play into my hand
when need shall be. I will get the nag out of the stable if he were
covered with bells. Away for the provender!"

The publican went about his preparations, and had no sooner left the
room than the Captain called the landlady, who at his invitation showed
herself at the door.

"Come in, sweetheart. Good Mistress Daffodil," he said, "I called you
that you may lend us your help to laugh: since your rufflers are
dispersed, your smokers obnubilated in their own clouds, your tipplers
strewed upon the benches, and nothing more left for you to do in the
tap-room, we would have your worshipful and witty company here in the
parlour. So, come in, my princess of pleasant thoughts, and make us
merry with thy fancies."

"There is nothing but clinking of cans and swaggering speeches where
you are, Captain Dauntrees," said the hostess. "An honest woman had
best be little seen in your company. It is a wonder you ever got out of
the Low Countries, where, what with drinking with boors and quarrelling
with belted bullies, your three years' service was enough to put an end
to a thousand fellows of your humour."

"There's destiny in it, dame. I was born to be the delight of your
eyes. It was found in my horoscope, when my nativity was cast, that a
certain jolly mistress of a most-especially-to-be-commended inn,
situate upon a delectable point of land in the New World, was to be
greatly indebted to me, first, for the good fame of her wines amongst
worshipful people; and, secondly, for the sufficient and decent praise
of her beauty. So was it read to my mother by the wise astrologer. And
then, dame, you slander the virtue of the Low Countries. Look at Arnold
there: is there a more temperate, orderly, well-behaved liegeman in the
world than the ranger? And did he not bring his sobriety with him from
the very bosom of the land you rail against?"

"If Arnold de la Grange is not all that you say of him," replied the
hostess, "it is because he has lost some share of his good quality by
consorting with you, Captain. Besides, Arnold has never been hackneyed
in the wars."

"A Dutch head," said Arnold, laughing, "is not easily made to spin. In
the Old World men can drink more than in the New: a Friesland fog is an
excellent shaving horn, mistress!"

"Heaven help the men of the Old World, if they drink more than they do
in our province!" exclaimed Mistress Weasel. "Look in the tap-room, and
you may see the end of a day's work in at least ten great loons. One
half are sound asleep, and the other of so dim sight that neither can
see his neighbour."

"The better reason then, Mistress Dorothy," replied Dauntrees, "why
you, a reputable woman, should leave such topers, and keep company with
sober, waking, discreet friends. That cap becomes thee, mistress. I
never saw you in so dainty a head-gear. I honour it as a covering
altogether worthy of thy comeliness. Faith, it has been a rich piece of
merchandise to me! Upon an outlay of fourteen shillings which I paid
for it, as a Michaelmas present to my excellent hostess, I have got in
return, by way of profit, full thirteen bottles of Garret's choicest
Canary, on my wager. Garret was obstinate, and would face me out with
it that you wore it to church last Sunday, when I knew that you went
only in your hood that day:--he has never an eye to look on thee, dame,
as he ought,--so he must needs put it to a wager. Well, as this is the
first day thou hast ever gone abroad in it, here I drink to thee and
thy cap, upon my knees--Success to its travels, and joy to the merry
eye that sparkles below it! Come, Arnold, drink to that, and get
Pamesack another glass of aqua vitæ:--top off to the hostess,
comrades!"

The toast was drunk, and at this moment Garret Weasel returned to the
room. A sign from him informed the Captain that the preparation he had
been despatched to make was accomplished.

"How looks the night, Garret?" inquired Dauntrees; "when have we the
moon?"

"It is a clear starlight and calm," replied the publican; "the moon
will not show herself till near morning."

"Have you heard the news, mistress?" inquired the Captain, with an
expression of some eagerness; "there is pleasant matter current,
concerning the mercer's wife at the Blue Triangle. But you must have
heard it before this?"

"No, truly, not I," replied the hostess.

"Indeed!" said Dauntrees, "then there's a month's amusement for you.
You owe the sly jade a grudge, mistress."

"In faith I do," said the dame, smiling, "and would gladly pay it."

"You may pay it off with usury now," added the Captain, "with no more
trouble than telling the story. It is a rare jest, and will not die
quickly."

"I pray you tell it to me, good Captain--give me all of it," exclaimed
the dame, eagerly.

"Peregrine Cadger, the mercer, you know," said the Captain--"but it is
a long story, and will take time to rehearse it. Garret, how comes it
that you did not tell this matter to your wife, as I charged you to
do?" he inquired, with a wink at the publican.

"I resolved to tell it to her," said Weasel, "but, I know not how, it
ran out of my mind--the day being a busy one----"

"A busy day to thee!" exclaimed the spouse. "Thou, who hast no more to
do than a stray in the pound, what are you fit for, if it be not to do
as you are commanded? But go on, Captain; the story would only be
marred by Garret's telling--go on yourself--I am impatient to hear it."

"I pray you, what o'clock is it, mistress?" asked the Captain.

"It is only near nine. It matters not for the hour--go on."

"Nine!" exclaimed Dauntrees; "truly, dame, I must leave the story for
Master Garret. Nine, said you? By my sword, I have overstaid my time! I
have business with the Lord Proprietary before he goes to his bed.
There are papers at the Fort which should have been delivered to his
Lordship before this."

"Nay, Captain," said the hostess, "if it be but the delivery of a
pacquet, it may be done by some other hand. There is Driving Dick in
the tap-room: he shall do your bidding in the matter. Do not let so
light a business as that take you away."

"To-morrow, dame, and I will tell you the tale."

"To-night, Captain--to-night."

"Truly, I must go; the papers should be delivered by a trusty hand--I
may not leave it to an ordinary messenger. Now if Garret--but I will
ask no such service from the good man at this time of night; it is a
long way. No, no, I must do my own errand."

"There is no reason upon earth," said the landlady, "why Garret should
not do it: it is but a step to the Fort and back."

"I can take my nag and ride there in twenty minutes," said Garret. "I
warrant you his Lordship will think the message wisely entrusted to
me."

"Then get you gone, without parley," exclaimed the dame.

"The key of the stable, wife," said Garret.

"If you will go, Master Garret," said Dauntrees--"and it is very
obliging of you--do it quickly. Tell Nicholas Verbrack to look in my
scritoire; he will find the pacquet addressed to his Lordship. Take it,
and see it safely put into his Lordship's hands. Say to Nicholas,
moreover, that I will be at the Fort before ten to-night. You
comprehend?"

"I comprehend," replied Garret, as his wife gave him the key of the
stable, and he departed from the room.

"Now, Captain."

"Well, mistress: you must know that Peregrine Cadger, the mercer, who
in the main is a discreet man----"

"Yes."

"A discreet man--I mean, bating some follies which you wot of; for this
trading and trafficking naturally begets foresight. A man has so much
to do with the world in that vocation, and the world, Mistress Dorothy,
is inclined by temper to be somewhat knavish, so that they who have
much to do with it learn cautions which other folks do not. Now, in our
calling of soldiership, caution is a sneaking virtue which we soon send
to the devil; and thereby you may see how it is that we are more honest
than other people. Caution and honesty do not much consort together."

"But of the mercer's wife, Captain."

"Ay, the mercer's wife--I shall come to her presently. Well, Peregrine,
as you have often seen, is a shade or so jealous of that fussock, his
wife, who looks, when she is tricked out in her new russet grogram
cloak, more like a brown haycock in motion than a living woman."

"Yes," interrupted the dame, laughing, "and with a sunburnt top. Her
red hair on her shoulders is no better, I trow."

"Her husband, who at best is but a cotquean--one of those fellows who
has a dastardly fear of his wife, which, you know, Mistress Dorothy,
truly makes both man and wife to be laughed at. A husband should have
his own way, and follow his humour, no matter whether the dame rails or
not. You agree with me in this, Mistress Weasel?"

"In part, Captain. I am not for stinting a husband in his lawful walks;
but the wife should have an eye to his ways: she may counsel him."

"Oh, in reason, I grant; but she should not chide him, I mean, nor look
too narrowly into his hours, that's all. Now Peregrine's dame hath a
free foot, and the mercer himself somewhat of a sulky brow. Well,
Halfpenny, the chapman, who is a mad wag for mischief, and who is
withal a sure customer of the mercer's in small wares, comes
yesternight to Peregrine Cadger's house, bringing with him worshipful
Master Lawrence Hay, the Viewer."

At this moment the sound of horse's feet from the court-yard showed
that Garret Weasel had set forth on his ride.

"Arnold, I am keeping you waiting," said Dauntrees. "Fill up another
cup for yourself and Pamesack, and go your ways. Stay not for me,
friends; or if it pleases you, wait for me in the tap-room. I will be
ready in a brief space."

The ranger and the Indian, after swallowing another glass, withdrew.

"The Viewer," continued Dauntrees, "is a handsome man,--and a merry man
on occasion, too. I had heard it whispered before--but not liking to
raise a scandal upon a neighbour, I kept my thoughts to myself--that
the mercer's wife had rather a warm side for the Viewer. But be that as
it may: there was the most laughable prank played on the mercer by
Halfpenny and the Viewer together, last night, that ever was heard of.
It was thus: they had a game at Hoodman-blind, and when it fell to
Lawrence to be the seeker, somehow the fat termagant was caught in his
arms, and so the hood next came to her. Well, she was blindfolded; and
there was an agreement all round that no one should speak a word."

"Ay, I understand--I see it," said the hostess, eagerly drawing her
chair nearer to the Captain.

"No, you would never guess," replied Dauntrees, "if you cudgelled your
brains from now till Christmas. But I can show you, Mistress Dorothy,
better by the acting of the scene. Here, get down on your knees, and
let me put your kerchief over your eyes."

"What can that signify?" inquired the dame.

"Do it, mistress--you will laugh at the explosion. Give me the
handkerchief. Down, dame, upon your marrow bones:--it is an excellent
jest and worth the learning."

The landlady dropped upon her knees, and the Captain secured the
bandage round her eyes.

"How many fingers, dame?" he asked, holding his hand before her face.

"Never a finger can I see, Captain."

"It is well. Now stand up--forth and away! That was the word given by
the Viewer. Turn, Mistress Dorothy, and grope through the room. Oh, you
shall laugh at this roundly. Grope, grope, dame."

The obedient and marvelling landlady began to grope through the
apartment, and Dauntrees, quietly opening the door, stole off to the
tap-room, where being joined by his comrades, they hied with all speed
towards the Fort, leaving the credulous dame floundering after a jest,
at least until they got beyond the hail of her voice.



CHAPTER XI.

    Pale lights on Cadez' rocks were seen,
    And midnight voices heard to moan,
    'Twas even said the blasted oak,
    Convulsive heaved a hollow groan.
    And to this day the peasant still,
    With cautious fear avoids the ground,
    In each wild branch a spectre sees
    And trembles at each rising ground.

    THE SPIRIT'S BLASTED TREE.


Dauntrees, after his unmannerly escape from the credulous landlady,
hastened with his two companions, at a swinging gate, along the beach
to the fort, where they found Garret Weasel waiting for them in a state
of eager expectation.

"Is the dame likely to be angry, Captain?" were the publican's first
words.--"Does she suspect us for a frisk to-night? Adsheartlikens, it
is a perilous adventure for the morrow! You shall bear the burden of
that reckoning, Master Captain."

"I left Mistress Dorothy groping for a secret at Hoodman-blind,"
replied the Captain, laughing. "She has found it before now, and by my
computation is in the prettiest hurricane that ever brought a frown
upon a woman's brow. She would bless the four quarters of thee, Garret,
if thou shouldst return home to-night, with a blessing that would leave
a scorch-mark on thee for the rest of thy days. I shouldn't wonder
presently to hear her feet pattering on the gravel of the beach in full
pursuit of us--dark as it is: I have left her in a mood to tempt any
unheard of danger for revenge. So, let us be away upon our errand. You
have the eatables safe and the wine sound, worthy Weasel?--Nicholas,"
he said, speaking to the Lieutenant--"are our horses saddled?"

"They are at the post on the other side of the parade," replied the
Lieutenant.

"Alack!" exclaimed Weasel--"Alack for these pranks! Here will be a
week's repentance. But a fig for conclusions!--in for a penny, in for a
pound, masters. I have the basket well stored and in good keeping. It
will be discreet to mount quickly--I will not answer against the dame's
rapping at the gate to-night: she is a woman of spirit and valiant in
her anger."

"Then let us be up and away," said the Captain, who was busily
bestowing a pair of pistols in his belt and suspending his sword across
his body.

"A cutlass and pistols for me," said the publican, as he selected his
weapons from several at hand.

Arnold and Pamesack were each provided with a carbine, when Dauntrees,
throwing his cloak across his shoulders, led the way to the horses,
where the party having mounted, sallied through the gate of the fort at
a gallop.

Their road lay around the head of St. Inigoe's creek, and soon became
entangled in dark, woody ravines and steep acclivities which presented,
at this hour, no small interruption to their progress. Pamesack, on a
slouching pony, his legs dangling within a foot of the ground, led the
way with an almost instinctive knowledge of his intricate path, which
might have defied a darker night. The stars shining through a crisp and
cloudless atmosphere, enabled the party to discern the profile of the
tree tops, and disclosed to them, at intervals, the track of this
solitary road with sufficient distinctness to prevent their entirely
losing it.

They had journeyed for more than two hours in the depths of the forest
before they approached the inlet of St. Jerome's. Dauntrees had
beguiled the time by tales of former adventures, and now and then by
sallies of humour provoked by the dubious valour of the innkeeper,--for
Weasel, although addicted to the vanity of exhibiting himself in the
light of a swashing, cut-and-thrust comrade in an emprise of peril, was
nevertheless unable, this night, to suppress the involuntary confession
of a lurking faint-heartedness at the result of the present venture.
This inward misgiving showed itself in his increased garrulity and in
the exaggerated tone of his vauntings of what he had done in sundry
emergencies of hazard, as well as of what he had made up his mind to do
on the present occasion if they should be so fortunate as to encounter
any peculiarly severe stress of fortune. Upon such topics the party
grew jovial and Dauntrees laughed at the top of his voice.

"The vintner's old roystering courses would make us lose our road in
downright blindness from laughing," he said, as checking himself in one
of these out-breaks, he reined up his horse. "Where are we, Pamesack? I
surely hear the stroke of the tide upon the beach;--are we so near St.
Jerome's, or have we missed the track and struck the bay shore short of
our aim?"

"The she-fox does not run to her den where she has left her young, by a
track more sure than mine to-night," replied the guide:--"it is the
wave striking upon the sand at the head of the inlet: you may see the
stars on the water through yonder wood."

"Pamesack says true," added Arnold. "He has found his way better than a
hound."

A piece of cleared land, or old field, a few acres in width, lay
between the travellers and the water which began now to glimmer on
their sight through a fringe of wood that grew upon the margin of the
creek or inlet, and the fresh breeze showed that the broad expanse of
the Chesapeake was at no great distance.

"The Wizard's Chapel," said Dauntrees, "by my reckoning then, should be
within a mile of this spot. It were a good point of soldiership to push
forward a vanguard. That duty, Garret, will best comport with your
mad-cap humour--there may be pith in it: so, onward, man, until you are
challenged by some out-post of the Foul One--we will tarry here for
your report. In the mean time, leave us your hamper of provender. Come,
man of cold iron, be alert--thy stomach is growing restive for a deed
of valour."

"You are a man trained to pike and musquetoon," replied the publican;
"and have the skill to set a company, as men commonly fight with men.
But I humbly opine, Captain, that our venture to-night stands in no
need of vanguard, patrol or picquet. We have unearthly things to
wrestle with, and do not strive according to the usages of the wars. I
would not be slow to do your bidding, but that I know good may not come
of it: in my poor judgment we should creep towards the Chapel together,
not parting company. I will stand by thee, Captain, with a sharp eye
and ready hand."

"Thy teeth will betray us, Master Vintner, even at a score rods from
the enemy," said Dauntrees: "they chatter so rudely that thy nether jaw
is in danger. If thou art cold, man, button up thy coat."

"Of a verity it is a cold night, and my coat is none of the thickest,"
replied Weasel with an increasing shudder.

"I understand you, Garret," responded the Captain with a laugh; "we
must drink. So, friends, to the green grass, and fasten your horses to
the trees whilst we warm up the liver of our forlorn vintner with a
cup. We can all take that physic."

This command was obeyed by the immediate dismounting of the party and
their attack upon one of the flasks in the basket.

"It has a rare smack for a frosty night," said Dauntrees as he quaffed
a third and fourth cup. "When I was in Tours I visited the abbey of
Marmoustier, and there drank a veritable potation from the huge tun
which the blessed St. Martin himself filled, by squeezing a single
cluster of grapes. It has the repute of being the kindliest wine in all
Christendom for the invigorating of those who are called to do battle
with the devil. The monks of the abbey have ever found it a most deadly
weapon against Satan. And truly, Master Weasel, if I did not know that
this wine was of the breed of the islands, I should take it to be a
dripping from the holy tun I spoke of:--it hath the like virtue of
defiance of Beelzebub. So, drink--drink again, worthy purveyor and
valiant adjutant!"

"What is that?" exclaimed Weasel, taking the cup from his lips before
he had finished the contents. "There is something far off like the howl
of a dog and yet more devilish I should say--did ye not hear it,
masters? I pray heaven there be no evil warning in this:--I am
cold--still cold, Captain Dauntrees."

"Tush, it is the ringing of your own ears, Garret, or it may be, like
enough, some devil's cur that scents our footsteps. Make yourself a
fire, and whilst you grow warm by that grosser element we will take a
range, for a brief space, round the Chapel. You shall guard the forage
till we return."

"That is well thought of," replied the innkeeper quickly. "Light and
heat will both be useful in our onslaught:--while you three advance
towards the shore I will keep a look out here; for there is no knowing
what devices the enemy may have a-foot to take us by surprise."

Some little time was spent in kindling a fire, which had no sooner
begun to blaze than Dauntrees, with the Ranger and the Indian, set
forth on their reconnoissance of the Chapel, leaving Weasel assured
that he was rendering important service in guarding the provender and
comforting himself by the blazing fagots.

They walked briskly across the open ground towards the water, and as
they now approached the spot which common rumour had invested with so
many terrors, even these bold adventurers themselves were not without
some misgivings. The universal belief in supernatural agencies in the
concerns of mankind, which distinguished the era of this narrative, was
sufficient to infuse a certain share of apprehension into the minds of
the stoutest men, and it was hardly reckoned to derogate from the
courage of a tried soldier that he should quail in spirit before the
dreadful presence of the Powers of Darkness. Dauntrees had an
undoubting faith in the malignant influences which were said to hover
about the Wizard's Chapel, and nothing but the pride and subordination
of his profession could have impelled him to visit this spot at an hour
when its mysterious and mischievous inhabitants were supposed to be
endued with their fullest power to harm. The Ranger was not less keenly
impressed with the same feelings, whilst Pamesack, credulous and
superstitious as all of his tribe, was, like them, endowed with that
deeply-imprinted fatalism, which taught him to suppress his emotions,
and which rendered him seemingly indifferent to whatever issue awaited
his enterprise.

"By my troth, Arnold," said Dauntrees, as they strode forward,
"although we jest at yonder white-livered vintner, this matter we have
in hand might excuse an ague in a stouter man. I care not to confess
that the love I bear his Lordship, together with some punctilio of
duty, is the only argument that might bring me here to-night. I would
rather stand a score pikes in an onset with my single hand, where the
business is with flesh and blood, than buffet with a single imp of the
Wizard. I have heard of over-bold men being smote by the evil eye of a
beldam hag; and I once knew a man of unquenchable gaiety suddenly made
mute and melancholy by the weight of a blow dealt by a hand which was
not to be seen: the remainder of his life was spent in sorrowful
penance. They say these spirits are quick to punish rashness."

"As Lord Charles commands we must do his bidding," replied the
forester. "When the business in hand must be done, I never stop to
think of the danger of it. If we should not get back, Lord Charles has
as good men to fill our places. I have been scared more than once by
these night devils, till my hair lifted my cap with the fright, but I
never lost my wits so far as not to strike or to run at the good
season."

"_Laet lopen die lopen luste_, as we used to say in Holland," returned
the Captain. "I am an old rover and have had my share of goblins, and
never flinched to sulphur or brimstone, whether projected by the breath
of a devil or a culverin. I am not to be scared now from my duty by any
of Paul Kelpy's brood, though I say again I like not this strife with
shadows. His Lordship shall not say we failed in our outlook. I did
purpose, before we set out, to talk with Father Pierre concerning this
matter, but Garret's wine and his wife together put it out of my head."

"The holy father would only have told you," replied Arnold, "to keep a
Latin prayer in your head and Master Weasel's wine and wife both out of
it."

"So he would, Arnold, and it would have gone more against the grain
than a hair-shirt penance. I have scarce a tag of a prayer in my
memory, not even a line of the Fac Salve; and I have moreover a most
special need for a flask of that vintage of Teneriffe on a chilly
night;--and then, as you yourself was a witness, I had most pressing
occasion to practise a deceit upon Mistress Dorothy. The Priest's
counsel would have been wasted words--that's true: so we were fain to
do our errand to-night without the aid of the church.--Why do you halt,
Pamesack?"

"I hear the tread of a foot," replied the Indian.

"A deer stalking on the shore of the creek," said Dauntrees.

"More like the foot of a man," returned Pamesack, in a lowered voice;
"we should talk less to make our way safe.--There is the growl of a
dog."

Arnold now called the attention of his companions to the outlines of a
low hut which was barely discernible through the wood where an open
space brought the angle of the roof into relief against the water of
the creek, and as they approached near enough to examine the little
structure more minutely, they were saluted by the surly bark of a deep
throated dog, fiercely redoubled. At the same time the sound of
receding footsteps was distinctly audible.

"Who dwells here?" inquired Dauntrees, striking the door with the hilt
of his sword.

There was no answer, and the door gave way to the thrust and flew wide
open. The apartment was tenantless. A few coals of fire gleaming from
the embers, and a low bench furnished with a blanket, rendered it
obvious that this solitary abode had been but recently deserted by its
possessor. A hasty survey of the hut, which was at first fiercely
disputed by the dog--a cross-grained and sturdy mastiff--until a sharp
blow from a staff which the forester bestowed sent him growling from
the premises, satisfied the explorers that so far, at least, they had
encountered nothing supernatural; and without further delay or comment
upon this incident they took their course along the margin of St.
Jerome's Creek. After a short interval, the beating of the waves upon
the beach informed them that they had reached the neighbourhood of the
shore of the Chesapeake. Here a halt and an attentive examination of
the locality made them aware that they stoodu upon a bank, which
descended somewhat abruptly to the level of the beach that lay some
fifty yards or more beyond them. In the dim starlight they were able to
trace the profile of a low but capacious tenement which stood almost on
the tide mark.

"It is the Chapel!" said Dauntrees, in an involuntary whisper as he
touched the Ranger's arm.

"It is Paul Kelpy's house, all the same as I have known it these twenty
years:--a silent and wicked house," whispered Arnold, in reply.

"And a pretty spot for the Devil to lurk in," said Dauntrees, resuming
his ordinary tone.

"Hold, Captain," interrupted the Ranger, "no foul words so near the
Haunted House. The good saints be above us!" he added, crossing himself
and muttering a short prayer.

"Follow me down the bank," said Dauntrees, in a low but resolute voice;
"but first look to your carbines that they be charged and primed. I
will break in the door of this ungodly den and ransack its corners
before I leave it. Holy St. Michael, the Archfiend is in the Chapel,
and warns us away!" he exclaimed, as suddenly a flash of crimson light
illuminated every window of the building. "It is the same warning given
to Burton and myself once before. Stand your ground, comrades; we shall
be beset by these ministers of sin!"

As the flashes of this lurid light were thrice repeated, Pamesack was
seen on the edge of the bank fixed like a statue, with foot and arm
extended, looking with a stern gaze towards this appalling spectacle.
Arnold recoiled a pace and brought his hand across his eyes, and was
revealed in this posture as he exclaimed in his marked Dutch accent,
"The fisherman's blood is turned to fire: we had best go no further,
masters." Dauntrees had advanced half-way down the bank, and the glare
disclosed him as suddenly arrested in his career; his sword gleamed
above his head whilst his short cloak was drawn by the motion of his
left arm under his chin; and his broad beaver, pistolled belt, and wide
boots, now tinged with the preternatural light, gave to his figure that
rich effect which painters are pleased to copy.

"I saw Satan's imps within the chamber," exclaimed the Captain. "As I
would the blessed Martyrs be with us, I saw the very servitors of the
Fiend! They are many and mischievous, and shall be defied though we
battle with the Prince of the Air. What ho, bastards of Beelzebub, I
defy thee! in the name of our patron, the holy and blessed St.
Ignatius, I defy thee!"

There was a deeper darkness as Dauntrees rushed almost to the door of
the house with his sword in his hand. Again the same deep flashes of
fire illumed the windows, and two or three figures in grotesque
costume, with strange unearthly faces, were seen, for the instant,
within. Dauntrees retreated a few steps nearer to his companions, and
drawing a pistol, held it ready for instant use. It was discharged at
the windows with the next flash of the light, and the report was
followed by a hoarse and yelling laugh from the tenants of the house.

"Once more I defy thee!" shouted the Captain, with a loud voice; "and
in the name of our holy church, and by the order of the Lord
Proprietary, I demand what do you here with these hellish rites?"

The answer was returned in a still louder laugh, and in a shot fired at
the challenger, the momentary light of the explosion revealing, as
Dauntrees imagined, a cloaked figure presenting a harquebuss through
the window.

"Protect yourselves, friends!" he exclaimed, "with such shelter as you
may find," at the same time retreating to the cover of an oak which
stood upon the bank. "These demons show weapons like our own. I will
e'en ply the trade with thee, accursed spirits!" he added, as he
discharged a second pistol.

The Ranger and Pamesack had already taken shelter, and their carbines
were also levelled and fired. Some two or three shots were returned
from the house accompanied with the same rude laugh which attended the
first onset, and the scene, for a moment, would have been thought
rather to resemble the assault and defence of mortal foes, than the
strife of men with intangible goblins, but that there were mixed with
it other accompaniments altogether unlike the circumstance of mortal
battle; a loud heavy sound as of rolling thunder, echoed from the
interior of the chapel, and in the glimpses of light the antic figures
within were discerned as dancing with strange and preposterous motions.

"It avails us not to contend against these fiends," said Dauntrees.
"They are enough to maintain their post against us, even if they fought
with human implements. Our task is accomplished by gaining sight of the
chapel and its inmates. We may certify what we have seen to his
Lordship; so, masters, move warily and quickly rearward. Ay, laugh
again, you juggling minions of the devil!" he said, as a hoarse shout
of exultation resounded from the house, when the assailants commenced
their retreat. "Put on the shape of men and we may deal with you!
Forward, Arnold; if we tarry, our retreat may be vexed with dangers
against which we are not provided."

"I hope this is the last time we shall visit this devil's den," said
Arnold, as he obeyed the Captain's injunction, and moved, as rapidly as
his long stride would enable him to walk, from the scene of their late
assault.

Whilst these events were passing, I turn back to the publican, who was
left a full mile in the rear to guard the baggage and keep up the
fire,--a post, as he described it, of no small danger.

It was with a mistrusting conscience, as to the propriety of his
separation from his companions, that Garret, when he had leisure for
reflection, set himself to scanning his deportment at this juncture.
His chief scruple had reference to the point of view in which Dauntrees
and Arnold de la Grange would hereafter represent this incident: would
they set it down, as Weasel hoped they might, to the account of a
proper and soldier-like disposition of the forces, which required a
detachment to defend a weak point? or would they not attribute his
hanging back to a want of courage, which his conscience whispered was
not altogether so wide of the truth, but which he had hoped to conceal
by his martial tone of bravado? There are many brave men, he reflected,
who have a constitutional objection to fighting in the dark, and he was
rather inclined to rank himself in that class. "In the dark," said he,
as he sat down by the fire, with his hands locked across his knees,
which were drawn up before him in grasshopper angles, and looked
steadily at the blazing brushwood; "in the dark a man cannot see--that
stands to reason. And it makes a great difference, let me tell you,
masters, when you can't see your enemy. A brave man, by nature,
requires light. And, besides, what sort of an enemy do we fight?
Hobgoblins--not mortal men--for I would stand up to any mortal man in
Christendom; ay, and with odds against me. I have done it before now.
But these whirring and whizzing ghosts and their cronies, that fly
about one's ears like cats, and purr and mew like bats--what am I
saying? no, fly like bats and mew like cats--one may cut and carve at
them with his blade with no more wound than a boy's wooden truncheon
makes upon a south wind. Besides, the Captain, who is all in all in his
command, hath set me here to watch, which, as it were, was a forbidding
of me to go onward. He must be obeyed: a good soldier disputes no
order, although it go against his stomach. It was the Captain's wish
that I should keep strict watch and ward here on the skirt of the wood;
otherwise, I should have followed him--and with stout heart and step, I
warrant you! But the Captain hath a soldierly sagacity in his cautions;
holding this spot, as he wisely hath done, to be an open point of
danger, an inlet, as it were, to circumvent his march, and therefore
straightly to be looked to. Well, let the world wag, and the upshot be
what it may, here are comforts at hand, and I will not stint to use
them."

Saying this the self-satisfied martialist opened the basket and solaced
his appetite with a slice of pasty and a draught of wine.

"I will now perform a turn of duty," he continued, after his
refreshment; and accordingly drawing his hanger, he set forth to make a
short circuit into the open field. He proceeded with becoming caution
on this perilous venture, looking slyly at every weed or bush which lay
in his route, shuddering with a chilly fear at the sound of his own
footsteps, and especially scanning, with a disturbed glance, the
vibrations of his long and lean shadow which was sharply cast by the
fire across the level ground. He had wandered some fifty paces into the
field, on this valorous outlook, when he bethought him that he had
ventured far enough, and might now return, deeming it more safe to be
near the fire and the horses than out upon a lonesome plain, which he
believed to be infested by witches and their kindred broods. He had
scarcely set his face towards his original post when an apparition came
upon his sight that filled him with horror, and caused his hair to rise
like bristles. This was the real bodily form and proportions of such a
spectre as might be supposed to prefer such a spot--an old woman in a
loose and ragged robe, who was seen gliding up to the burning fagots
with a billet of pine in her hand, which she lighted at the fire and
then waved above her head as she advanced into the field towards the
innkeeper. Weasel's tongue clave to the roof of his mouth, and his
teeth chattered audibly against each other, his knees smote together,
and his eyes glanced steadfastly upon the phantom. For a moment he lost
the power of utterance or motion, and when these began to return, as
the hag drew nearer, his impulse was to fly; but his bewildered
reflection came to his aid and suggested greater perils in advance: he
therefore stood stock-still.

"Heaven have mercy upon me!--the Lord have mercy upon me, a sinner!" he
ejaculated; "I am alone, and the enemy has come upon me."

"Watcher of the night," said a voice, in a shrill note, "draw nigh.
What do you seek on the wold?"

"Tetra grammaton, Ahaseel--in the name of the Holy Evangels, spare me!"
muttered the innkeeper, fruitlessly ransacking his memory for some
charm against witches, and stammering out an incoherent jargon.
"Abracadabra--spare me, excellent and worthy dame! I seek no hurt to
thee. I am old, mother, too old and with too many sins of my own to
account for, to wish harm to any one, much less to the good woman of
this wold. Oh Lord, oh Lord! why was I seduced upon this fool's
errand?"

"Come nigh, old man, when I speak to you. Why do you loiter there?"
shouted the witch, as she stood erect some twenty paces in front of the
publican and beckoned him with her blazing fagot. "What dost thou
mutter?"

"I but sported with my shadow, mother," replied Weasel, with a
tremulous attempt at a laugh, as he approached the questioner, in an
ill assumed effort at composure and cheerfulness. "I was fain to divert
myself with an antic, till some friends of mine, who left me but a
moment since, returned. How goes the night with you dame?"

"Merrily," replied the hag, as she set up a shrill laugh which more
resembled a scream, "merrily; I cannot but laugh to find the henpecked
vintner of St. Mary's at this time of night within the sound of the
tide at the Black Chapel. I know your errand, old chapman of cheap
liquors, and why you have brought your cronies. You pretend to be a
liegeman of his Lordship, and you travel all night to cheat him of five
shillings. You will lie on the morrow with as sad a face as there is in
the hundred. I know you."

"You know all things, worthy dame, and I were a fool to keep a secret
from you. What new commodity, honest mistress, shall I find with Rob?
The port is alive with a rumour of the Olive Branch; I would be early
with the Cripple. Ha, ha!" he added, with a fearful laugh, "thou seest
I am stirring in my trade."

"Garret Weasel," said the beldam, "you may take it for a favour, past
your deservings, that Rob will see thee alone at his hut even in day
time: but it is as much as your life is worth to bring your huff-cap
brawlers to St. Jerome's at midnight. It is not lawful ground for thee,
much less for the hot-brained fools who bear you company. Who showed
them the path to my cabin, that I must be driven out at this hour?"

"Worthy mistress, indeed I know not. I am ignorant of what you say!"

"They will call themselves friends to the Chapel: but we have no
friends to the Chapel amongst living men. The Chapel belongs to the
dead and the tormentors of the dead. So follow your cronies and command
them back. I warn you to follow, and bring them back, as you would save
them from harm. Ha! look you, it is come already!" she exclaimed,
raising her torch in the air, as the flashes from the Haunted House
illumined the horizon; "the seekers have roused our sentries, and there
shall be angry buffets to the back of it!" At this moment the first
shot was heard. "Friends, forsooth!" she shouted at the top of her
voice: "friends, are ye? there is the token that ye are known to be
false liars. Wo to the fool that plants his foot before the Chapel!
Stand there, Garret Weasel: I must away; follow me but a step--raise
thy head to look after my path, and I will strike thee blind and turn
thee into a drivelling idiot for the rest of thy days. Remember----"

In uttering this threat the figure disappeared; Garret knew not how, as
he strictly obeyed the parting injunction, and his horrors were greatly
increased by the report of the several shots which now reached his ear
from the direction of the Black House.

He had hardly recovered himself sufficiently to wander back to the
fire, before Dauntrees, Arnold, and Pamesack arrived, evidently
flurried by the scene through which they had passed, as well as by the
rapidity of their retreat.

"Some wine, Garret! some wine, old master of the tap!" was Dauntrees'
salutation; "and whilst we regale as briefly as we may, have thou our
horses loose from the trees; we must mount and away. To the horses,
Garret! We will help ourselves."

"I pray you, Master Captain," inquired the publican, having now
regained his self-possession, "what speed at the Chapel? Oh, an we have
all had a night of it! Sharp encounters all round, masters! I can tell
you a tale, I warrant you."

"Stop not to prate now," interrupted Dauntrees, in a voice choked by
the huge mouthful of the pasty he was devouring; "we shall discourse as
we ride. That flask, Arnold, I must have another draught e'er we mount,
and then, friends, to horse as quickly as you may; we may be followed;
we may have ghost, devil, and man of flesh, all three, at our heels."

"I have had store of them, I can tell you--ghosts and devils without
number," said Weasel, as he brought the horses forward.

"You shall be tried by an inquest of both, for your life, if you tarry
another instant," interposed the Captain, as he sprang into his saddle.

"What! are we set upon, comrades?" cried out the vintner, manfully, as
he rose to his horse's back, and pricked forward until he got between
Pamesack and Arnold. "Are we set upon? Let us halt and give them an
accolado; we are enough for them, I warrant you! Oh, but it had well
nigh been a bloody night," he continued, as the whole party trotted
briskly from the ground. "We had work to do, masters, and may tell of
it to-morrow. Good Pamesack, take this basket from me, it impedes my
motion in these bushes. Master Arnold, as we must ride here in single
files, let me get before thee: I would speak with the Captain. Who
should I see, Captain Dauntrees," continued the publican, after these
arrangements were made, and he had thrust himself into the middle of
the line of march, and all now proceeded at a slackened pace, "but that
most notorious and abominable hag, the woman of Warrington--Kate, who
lives, as every body knows, on the Cliffs. She must needs come
trundling down before me, astride a broomstick, with a black cat upon
her shoulder, and sail up to the fire which I had left, for a space, to
make a round on my watch--for you may be sworn a strict watch I made of
it, going even out of my way to explore the more hidden and perilous
lurking-places where one might suspect an enemy to lie. So, whilst I
was gone on this quest, she whips in and seats herself by the fire,
with a whole score of devils at their antics around her. Then up I
come, naturally surprised at this audacity, and question them, partly
in soldier-wise, showing my sword ready to make good my speech, and
partly by adjuration, which soon puts me the whole bevy to flight,
leaving Kate of Warrington at mercy: and there I constrained her to
divulge the secrets of the Chapel. She said there had been devilish
work under that roof, and would be again; when pop, and bang, and
slash, and crash, I heard the outbreak, and saw the devil's lights that
were flashed. I could hold no longer parley with the hag, but was just
moving off at full speed to your relief, determined in this need to
desert my post--which, in my impatience to lend you a hand, I could not
help--when I heard your footfall coming back, and so I was fain to bide
your coming."

"A well conceived sally of soldiership," said Dauntrees, "and spoken
with a cavalier spirit, Master Garret. It hath truth upon the face of
it: I believe every word. It shall serve you a good turn with his
Lordship. What does Kate of Warrington in this neighbourhood? She
travels far on her broomstick--unless, indeed, what seems likely, she
has taken her quarters in the cabin we disturbed to-night. These crows
will be near their carrion."

By degrees the party, as they pursued their homeward journey, grew
drowsy. The publican had lost all his garrulity, and nodded upon his
horse. Arnold and Pamesack rode in silence, until Dauntrees, as if
waking up from a reverie, said--

"Well, friends, we return from no barren mission to-night. His Lordship
may have some satisfaction in our story; particularly in the vintner's.
We shall be ready to report to his Lordship by noon, and after that we
shall hasten to quiet our Dame Dorothy. The night is far spent: I
should take it, Arnold, to be past three o'clock, by the rising of the
moon. At peep of day we shall be snug upon our pallets, with no loss of
relish for a sleep which will have been well earned."

As the Captain continued to urge his journey, which he did with the
glee that waits upon a safe deliverance from an exploit of hazard, he
turned his face upwards to the bright orb which threw a cheerful light
over the scenery of the road-side, and in the distance flung a
reflection, as of burnished silver, over the broad surface of St.
Mary's river, as seen from the height which the travellers were now
descending. Not more than two miles of their route remained to be
achieved, when the Captain broke forth with an old song of that day, in
a voice which would not have discredited a professor:

    "The moon, the moon, the jolly moon,
    And a jolly old queen is she!
    She hath stroll'd o' nights this thousand year,
    With ever the best of company.
        Sing, Hic and hoc sumus nocturno,
        Huzza for the jolly old moon!"

"Why, Garret, vintner, art asleep, man?" inquired the Captain. "Why
dost thou not join in the burden?"

"To your hand, Captain," exclaimed Weasel, rousing himself and piping
forth the chorus--

    "Hic and hoc sumus nocturno,
    Huzza for the jolly old moon!"

which he did not fail to repeat at the top of his voice at each return.

Dauntrees proceeded:

    "She trails a royal following,
    And a merry mad court doth keep,
    With her chirping boys that walk i' the shade,
    And wake when the bailiff's asleep.
        Sing, Hic and hoc sumus nocturno,
        Huzza for the jolly old moon!

    "Master Owl he is her chancellor,
    And the bat is his serving-man;
    They tell no tales of what they see,
    But wink when we turn up the can.
        Sing, Hic and hoc sumus nocturno,
        Huzza for the jolly old moon!

    "Her chorister is Goodman Frog,
    With a glow-worm for his link;
    And all who would make court to her,
    Are fain, good faith! to drink.
        Sing, Hic and hoc sumus nocturno,
        Huzza for the jolly old moon!"

This ditty was scarcely concluded--for it was spun out with several
noisy repetitions of the chorus--before the troop reined up at the gate
of the Fort. The drowsy sentinel undid the bolt at the Captain's
summons, and, in a very short space, the wearied adventurers were
stretched in the enjoyment of that most satisfactory of physical
comforts, the deep sleep of tired men.



CHAPTER XII.

                    There remains
    A rugged trunk, dismember'd and unsightly,
    Waiting the bursting of the final bolt
    To splinter it to shivers.

    THE DOOM OF DEVORGOIL.


The shore of the Chesapeake between Cape St. Michael--as the northern
headland at the mouth of Potomac was denominated by the early
settlers--and the Patuxent, is generally flat, and distinguished by a
clear pebbly beach or strand. The shore, comprising about twenty miles,
is intersected by a single creek, that of St. Jerome, which enters the
bay some five or six miles north of the Potomac. The line of beach,
which I have referred to, is here and there relieved by small
elevations which in any other region would scarce deserve the name, but
which are sufficiently prominent in this locality to attract remark.
From the general level of the country they rise high enough to afford a
clear prospect over the wide waters, and no less to distinguish the
landward perspective to the mariner whose eye eagerly seeks the
varieties of landscape as he holds his course up the bay. At a few
points these small hills terminate immediately upon the tide in the
abrupt form of a cliff, and, at others, take the shape of a knoll
sinking away by a rapid, but grass-covered, declivity to the strand.
This latter feature is observable in the vicinity of St. Jerome's,
where the slope falls somewhat abruptly to the level of the tide,
leaving something above fifty paces in width of low ground between its
base and the ordinary water-mark. It was upon this flat that, in
ancient times, stood the dwelling house of Paul Kelpy the fisherman--a
long, low building of deal boards, constructed somewhat in the shape of
a warehouse or magazine. Some quarter of a mile along the beach, so
sheltered under the brow of the slope as scarcely to be seen amongst
the natural shrubbery that shaded it, stood a cottage or hut of very
humble pretensions. It was so low that a man of ordinary height, while
standing at the door, might lay his hand upon the eaves of the roof,
and correspondent to its elevation, it was so scanty in space as to
afford but two apartments, of which the largest was not above ten feet
square. It was strongly built of hewn logs, and the door, strengthened
by nails thickly studded over its surface, was further fortified by a
heavy padlock, which rendered it sufficiently impregnable against a
sharper assault than might be counted on from such as ordinarily should
find motive to molest the proprietor of such a dwelling.

A small enclosure surrounded the hut and furnished ground for some
common garden plants which were not neglected in their culture. A few
acres, on the higher plain above the bank, exhibited signs of
husbandry; and the small nets and other fishing tackle disposed about
the curtilage, together with a skiff drawn up on the sand, gave
evidence of the ostensible thrift by which the occupant of the hut
obtained a livelihood.

To this spot I propose to introduce my reader, the day preceding that
at which my story has been opened. It was about an hour before sunset,
and a light drizzling rain, with a steady wind from the north-east,
infused a chilly gloom into the air, and heightened the tone of
solitude which prevailed over the scene. A thin curl of smoke which
rose from the clumsy chimney of the hut gave a sign of habitation to
the premises, and this was further confirmed by the presence of a large
and cross-visaged mastiff-bitch, whose heavy head might be discerned
thrust forth from beneath the sill of the gable,--a sullen warder of
this sullen place of strength. The waves, now propelled upon a flood
tide, rolled in upon the shore, and broke almost at the door of the
hut, with a hoarse and harsh and ceaseless plash. Far out over the bay,
the white caps of the wind-driven surge floated like changing snow
drifts upon the surface of the waters. The water fowl rose in squadrons
above this murky waste and struggled to windward, in a flight so low as
frequently to shield them from the sight in the spray. An old bald
eagle perched on the loftiest branch of a lightning-riven tree,
immediately upon the bank above the hut, kept anxious watch upon her
nest which, built in the highest fork, rocked to and fro in the breeze,
whilst her screams of warning to her young seemed to answer to the din
of the waters.

In the larger apartment of the hut a few fagots blazed upon the hearth,
supplying heat to a pot that simmered above them, the care of which,
together with other culinary operations, engaged the attention of a
brown, haggard and weather-beaten woman, who plied this household duty
with a silent and mechanical thrift. She was not the only tenant of the
dwelling. Remote from the hearth, and immediately below a small window,
sat, apparently upon the floor, a figure eminently calculated to
challenge observation. His features were those of a man of seventy,
sharp, shrewd and imprinted with a deep trace of care. His frame
indicated the possession, at an earlier period of his life, of the
highest degree of strength; it was broad in the shoulders, ample in
chest, and still muscular, although deprived of its roundness by age.
His dress, of coarse green serge, made into a doublet with skirts that
fell both front and rear, secured by a leathern belt, was so contrived
as to conceal, in his present posture, his lower extremities. A broad
ruff received his locks of iron gray, which fell over his back in crisp
wiry curls: a thick grizzly beard, of the same hue, gave an elongation
to his countenance which imparted to the observer the unpleasant
impression of a head disproportionally large for the body, at least as
seen in its present aspect. His eyes dark and unusually clear, were
sunk deep in their sockets, whilst a shaggy and matted brow,
overhanging them like a porch, gave sometimes an almost preternatural
brilliancy to their quick and changeful glances--like the sparkling of
water when agitated in a well. It was observable from the dropping in
of the upper jaw that he had lost his teeth, and this perhaps had given
a tendency of the strong furrowed lines and seams, with which his
features were marked, to converge towards the mouth.

His girdle sustained a long knife or dagger, which apparently
constituted a part of his daily equipment; and the oblique flash of his
eye, and tremulous motion of his thin lip betrayed a temperament, from
which one might infer that this weapon of offence was not worn merely
as an ornament of the person.

The individual described in this summary was familiar to report,
throughout the province, as The Cripple. His true name was supposed to
be Robert Swale,--but this was almost lost in the pervading popular
designation of Rob of the Bowl, or Trencher Rob--an appellative which
he had borne ever since his arrival in the province, now some fifteen
years gone by. Of his history but little was known, and that little was
duly mystified, in the public repute, by the common tendency in the
vulgar mind to make the most of any circumstance of suspicion. The
story went that he had been shipwrecked, on a winter voyage, upon this
coast, and, after suffering incredible hardships, had saved his life
only at the expense of the loss of both legs by frost. In this maimed
condition he had reached the shore of the province, and some time
afterwards built the hut in which he now dwelt, near the mouth of St.
Jerome's. Here he had passed many years, without attracting other
notice than such as the stinted charity of the world affords, when it
is exercised upon the fate or fortunes of an obscure recluse. This
observation began to find a broader scope as soon as it became obvious
that the hermit was not altogether an object of almsgiving; and the
little world of this part of the province discovering in process of
time that he was not absolutely penniless, were fain to take offence at
the mystery of his means of earning his frugal subsistence. Before many
years, some few of the traders and country people round had found out
that Rob was occasionally possessed of good merchantable commodities
much in request by the inhabitants of the port, and dark whispers were
sometimes circulated touching the manner in which he came by them.
These surmises were not made topics of public discussion for two
reasons;--first, because it was not inconvenient or unprofitable to the
traders in the secret to deal with Rob;--and secondly, Rob was not a
man to allow this indulgence of idle speculation; he was of an
irascible temper, free to strike when crossed, and, what was still more
to be feared, had friends who were not unwilling to take up his
quarrel. The loss of his legs was supplied by a wooden bowl or
trencher, of an elliptical shape, to which his thighs were attached by
a strap, and this rude contrivance was swayed forward, when the owner
chose, by the aid of two short crutches, which enabled him to lift
himself from the ground and assume a progressive motion. It was to the
exercise which this mode of locomotion imposed upon his upper limbs,
that the unusual breadth and squareness of his figure about the
shoulders, as well as the visible manifestations of strength of arm for
which he was remarkable, were in part, perhaps, to be attributed. Use
had made him expert in the management of his bowl, and he could keep
pace pretty fairly with an ordinary walker. The Cripple was a man of
unsocial habits and ascetic life, although there were times in which
his severe temper relaxed into an approach to companionable enjoyment,
and then his intercourse with the few who had access to him was marked
by a sarcastic humour and keen ridicule of human action which showed
some grudge against the world, and, at the same time, denoted
conversancy with mankind, and by no means a deficiency of education.
But, in general, his vein was peevish, and apt to vent itself in
indiscriminate petulance or stern reproof.

A small painting of St. Romuald at his devotions, by the hand of
Salvator himself, hung over a dressing table, in the back room of the
hut in which the bed of the Cripple was placed; and this exquisite gem
of art, which the possessor seemed duly to appreciate, was surmounted
by a crucifix, indicating the religious faith in which he worshipped.
This might be gathered also from a curious, antique pix, of heavy
gilded metal, a ponderous missal with silver clasps, a few old volumes
of the lives of the saints, and other furniture of the like nature, all
of which denoted that the ingredient of a religious devotee formed an
element in his singular compound of character.

The superiority of his mind and attainments over those of the mass of
the inhabitants of the province had contributed to render the Cripple
an object of some interest as well as of distrust amongst them, and
this sentiment was heightened into one approaching to vulgar awe, by
the reputation of the person who had always been somewhat in his
confidence, and now attended him as his servitress and only domestic.
This person was the ungainly and repulsive beldam whom I have already
noticed as ministering in the household concerns of the hut. She was a
woman who had long maintained a most unenviable fame as The Woman of
Warrington, in the small hamlet of that name on the Cliffs of Patuxent,
from whence she had been recently transplanted to perform the domestic
drudgery in which we have found her. Her habitation was a rude hovel
some few hundred paces distant from the hut of the Cripple, on the
margin of St. Jerome's creek, and within gunshot of the rear of the
Black Chapel. To this hovel, after her daily work was done, she retired
to pass the night, leaving her master or patron to that solitude which
he seemed to prefer to any society. The surly mastiff-bitch, we have
noticed, alternately kept guard at the hut of the master and
domestic,--roving between the two in nightly patrol, with a gruff and
unsocial fidelity,--no unsuitable go-between to so strange a pair. It
will not be wondered at, that, in a superstitious age, such an
association as that of the Cripple and the crone, in the vicinity of
such a spot, desecrated, as the Fisherman's lodge had been, by the
acting of a horrible tragedy, should excite, far and wide amongst the
people, a sentiment of terror sufficiently potent to turn the steps of
the wayfarer, as the shades of evening fell around him, aside from the
path that led to St. Jerome's.

The Cripple, at the time when I have chosen to present him to my
reader, was seated, as I have said, immediately beneath the window. A
pair of spectacles assisted his vision as he perused a pacquet of
papers, several of which lay scattered around him. The dim light for a
while perplexed his labour, and he had directed the door to be thrown
wide open that he might take advantage of the last moment before the
approaching twilight should arrest his occupation. Whilst thus
employed, the deadened sound of a shot boomed across the bay.

"Ha!" he exclaimed as he threw aside the paper in his hand and directed
his eyes towards the water; "there is a signal--by my body, a signal
gun!--an ill bird is flying homeward. Did you not hear that shot,
woman?"

"I had my dream of the brigantine two nights ago," replied the
servitress; "and of the greedy kite that calls himself her master;--the
shot must be his."

"Whose can it be else?" demanded the Cripple sharply, as he swung
himself forward to the doorsill and shook his locks from his brow in
the act of straining his sight across the dim surface of the bay. "Ay,
ay; there it is. Hark--another shot!--that is the true pass word
between us:--Dickon, sure enough!--The brigantine is in the offing.
Cocklescraft is coming in with the speed of a gull. He comes full
freighted--full freighted, as is his wont, with the world's plunder.
What dole hath he done this flight?--what more wealthy knave than
himself hath he robbed? Mischief, mischief, mischief--good store of it,
I'll be sworn:--and a keener knave than himself he hath not found in
his wide venture. He will be coming ashore to visit the Cripple,
ha!--he shall be welcome--as he ever hath been. We are comrades,--we
are cronies, and merry in our divisions--the Skipper and the
Cripple!--there is concord in it--the Skipper and the Cripple--merry
men both!"

These uprisings of the inner thoughts of the man were uttered in
various tones--one moment scarce audible, the next with an emphatic
enunciation, as if addressed to his companion in the hut,--and
sometimes with the semblance of a laugh, or rather chuckle, which was
wormwood in its accent, and brought the rheum from his eye down his
cheek. The beldam, accustomed to this habit of self-communion in the
Cripple, apparently heeded not these mutterings, until he, at length,
accosted her with a command.--"Mistress Kate, double the contents of
your pot;--the skipper and some of his men will be here presently, as
keen and trenchant as their own cutlasses. They will be hungry,
woman,--as these saltwater monsters always are for earthy provender."

"Such sharp-set cattle should bring their provender with them," replied
the domestic, as she went about increasing her store of provision in
compliance with her master's directions.

"Or the good red gold, or the good red gold, old jade!" interrupted the
Cripple. "The skipper doth not shrink in the girdle from the disease of
a lean purse, and is therefore worthy of our worshipful entertainment.
So goes the world, and we will be in the fashion! Though the world's
malisons drive him hither as before a tempest, yet, comes he rich in
its gear; he shall have princely reception. I am king of this castle,
and ordain it. Is he taking in sail?--is he seeking an anchorage? Ha,
he understands his craft, and will be with us anon," he continued, as
he marked the movements of the approaching vessel.

There might be dimly seen, nearly abreast of St. Jerome's, a
close-reefed brig, holding her course before a fair wind directly
across the bay towards the hut of the Cripple. She was, at intervals,
lost to view behind the thickening haze, and as often re-appeared as
she bent under the fresh north-east breeze and bounded rapidly with the
waves towards the lee shore. It was after the hour of sunset when the
tenants of the hut were just able to discern, in the murky gloom of the
near nightfall, that she had lowered sail and swung round with her head
seaward, at an anchorage some two miles out in the bay.

"Quick, Mistress Kate, and kindle some brush-wood on the shore," said
the master of the hut. "It grows suddenly dark, and the boat's crew
will need a signal to steer by."

The woman gathered a handful of fagots, and, kindling them into a
blaze, transferred them to the beach in front of the hut, where,
notwithstanding the rain, they burned with a steady light. This
illumination had not subsided before the stroke of oars rose above the
din of the waves; and the boat with her crew, sheeted with the broad
glare of the signal-fire, suddenly appeared mounted on the surf,
surrounded with foam and spray, and in the same instant was heard
grating on the gravel of the beach.

Cocklescraft, with two seamen, entered the hut. The skipper was now in
the prime of youthful manhood; tall, active and strong, with the free
step and erect bearing that no less denoted the fearlessness of his
nature than pride in the consciousness of such a quality. His face,
tinged with a deep brown hue, was not unhandsome, although an
expression of sensuality, to some extent, deprived it of its claim to
be admired. A brilliant eye suffered the same disparagement by its
over-ready defiance, which told of a temper obtrusively prone to
quarrel. The whole physiognomy wanted gentleness, although a fine set
of teeth, a regular profile, and a complexion which, with proper
allowance for exposure to the weather, was uncommonly good, would
unquestionably have won from the majority of observers the repute of a
high degree of masculine beauty.

A scarlet jacket fitted close across the breast, wide breeches of
ash-coloured stuff, hanging in the fashion of a kirtle or kilt to the
knees, tight grey hose, accurately displaying the leg in all its fine
proportions, and light shoes, furnished a costume well adapted to the
lithe and sinewy figure of the wearer. A jet black and glossy
moustache, and tuft below the nether lip, gave a martial aspect to his
face, which had, nevertheless, the smoothness of skin of a boy. He wore
in his embroidered belt, a pair of pistols richly mounted with chased
silver and costly jewels, and his person was somewhat gorgeously and,
in his present occupation, inappropriately ornamented with gems and
chains of gold. His hair, in almost feminine luxuriance, descended in
ringlets upon his neck. A large hat made of the palm leaf, broad enough
to shade his face and shoulders, but ill sorted with the rest of his
apparel, and was still less adapted to the season and the latitude he
was in, though it threw into the general expression of his figure that
trait of the swaggering companion which was, in fact, somewhat
prominent in his character.

"How dost, friend Rob?" was his salutation in crossing the threshold;
"how dost, Rob o' the Bowl, or Rob o' the Trencher?--bowl or
trencher,--either likes me; I am sworn friend to both," he continued as
he stooped and took the Cripple's hand.

"Ay, thy conscience has never stayed thee," was the Cripple's reply, as
he received the skipper's grasp, "when thou wouldst put thy hand in
another man's bowl or trencher,--and especially, Dickon, if they were
made of gold. Thou hast an appetite for such dishes. How now! where do
you come from?"

"That shall be answered variously, friend of the wooden platter. If you
speak to me as Meinherr Von Cogglescraft, I am from Antwerp, master of
the Olive Branch, with a comfortable cargo of Hollands, and wines
French and Rhenish, old greybeard, and some solid articles of Dutch
bulk. But if it be to the Caballero Don Ricardo,--le beso las manos!--I
am from Tortuga and the Keys, Senor Capitan del Escalfador (there is
much virtue in a painted cloth) with a choice assortment of
knicknackeries, which shall set every wench in the province agog. I
have rare velvets of Genoa, piled and cut in the choicest fashions: I
have grograms, and stuffs, and sarsnets, with a whole inventory of
woman trumpery--the very pick of a Spanish bark, bound from Naples to
the islands, which was so foolish as to read my flag by its seeming,
and just to drop into the Chafing-Dish when he thought he was getting a
convoy to help him out of the way of the too pressing and inquisitive
courtesies of certain lurking friends of ours in the Keys. I have,
besides, some trinkets, which are none the worse for having been
blessed by the church. You shall have a choice, Rob, to deck out your
chamber with some saintly gems."

"Ha! I guessed thy deviltry, Dickon," said Rob, with a laugh which, as
always happened when much moved, brought tears down his cheeks--"I
guessed it when I saw thee step across the door-sill with that large
and suspicious sombrero on thy head. It never came from Holland--though
you would fain persuade the province folks that you trade no where
else: it is of the breed of the tropics, and smells of Hispaniola and
Santo Domingo."

"It is a tell-tale," replied Cocklescraft, "and should have been thrown
overboard before this. Old Kate of Warrington, thy hand--and here is a
hand for thee! How does the world use thee? Fairly, I hope, as you
deserve? You shall have the sombrero, Kate: you can truss it up into a
new fashion for a bonnet, and I have store of ribands to give thee to
set it off."

"My share of this world's favour," said the crone, in acknowledgment of
the skipper's bounty, "has never been more than the cast-off bravery of
such as hold a high head over a wicked heart. I have ever served at the
mess of the devil's bantlings. But, as the custom is, I must be civil
and thankful for these blessings; and so, Master Cocklescraft, I give
you thanks," she added with a courtesy, as she placed the hat upon her
head and strutted fantastically in the room, "for your dainty head-gear
that you are unwilling to wear, and durst not, master, before the Port
Wardens of St. Mary's."

"How, Kate!" exclaimed the skipper, "you have lost no whit of that
railing tongue I left with you at my last venture? I marvel that the
devil hath not shorn it, out of pure envy. But I know, Kate, you can do
justice to the good will of a friend, after all: I would have thee to
know that thou hast not been unconsidered, good mother of a thousand
devilkins: I have brought thee stuff for a new gown, rich and ladylike,
Kate, and becoming thy grave and matronly years, and sundry trickeries
for it, by way of garniture; and, reverend dam of night-monsters, I
have in store for thee some most choice distillations of the West
Indies, both plain and spiced. Thou dost not spurn the strong waters,
Kate of Warrington,--nor the giver of them?"

"This is a make-peace fashion of thine," said the beldam, relaxing into
a smile. "You thought not of the woman of Warrington--no, not so much
as a dog's dream of her--until it chanced to come into your head that
the foolish crone had a will which it might not be for your good to set
against you. I knew your incoming, Richard Cocklescraft, before it was
thought of in the province; and I know when your outgoing will be. You
come with a surly sky and a gay brow;--you shall trip it hence with a
bright heaven above you, and deftly, boy--but with a heavy heart and a
new crime upon thy soul."

"Peace, woman! I will hear none of thy croakings--it is an old trick of
thine; the device is too stale," said Cocklescraft, half playfully and
half vexed. "You are no conjuror, Kate, as you would make the world
believe by these owl-hootings: if you had but a needle's-eyeful of the
true witch in you, you would have foretold what bounty my luck has
brought you.--Rob, we have packages to land to-night. Is the Chapel
ready for our service?"

"How should it be other than ready? Doth not the devil keep his
quarters there?" said Rob with a low-toned chuckle that shook his
figure for some moments, and almost closed his eyes; "hath he not his
court in the Chapel? Go ask the whole country side: they will swear to
it on their bible oaths. Sundries have seen the hoofs and horns, and
heard the howlings,--ay, and smelt the brimstone--ha, ha, ha! They'll
swear to it. Is the Chapel ready, in sooth! It is a precious Chapel!
Paul Kelpy, thou wert an honest cut-throat, to bedevil so good a house:
we turn it to account--ha, ha! It needs but to take the key, Dickon. I
warrant you ne'er a man in the province, burgher or planter, gentle or
simple, ventures near enough to molest you."

"The surf runs high," said Cocklescraft, "and may give us trouble in
the landing to-night; and as daylight must not find me in this
latitude, I shall put what I may ashore before the dawn, and then take
a flight to the opposite side of the bay. To-morrow night I shall
finish my work; and you shall soon after hear, at St. Mary's, that the
good and peaceful brigantine, the Olive Branch, has arrived from
Holland. Meantime, I will leave you a half dozen men to garrison the
Chapel, Rob."

"It is so well garrisoned with my merry goblins already," said Rob,
"that it requires but a light watch. The fires alone would frighten his
Lordship's whole array of rangers. That was a pretty device of mine,
Dickon--blue, green, and red--excellent devil-fires all! Then I have
masks--faith, most special masks! the very noses of them would frighten
the short-winded train-bands of the Port into catalepsy. And the Chapel
had an ill name when the fisherman shed blood on the floor: but since
we blackened it, Richard--oh, that was a subtle thought!--it is past
all power of exorcism: there is an ague in the very name of the Black
Chapel." And here the Cripple gave way to a burst of laughter, which
had been struggling for vent during all this reference to the arts by
which he had contrived to maintain the popular dread of the fisherman's
lodge.

Whilst this conference was held, the crone had prepared their evening
meal, which being now ready, Rob was lifted upon a low platform that
brought him to the proper level with the table, where he was able to
help himself. Cocklescraft partook with him, and might almost have
envied the keen gust and ravenous appetite with which his host
despatched the coarse but savoury fare of the board--for the Cripple's
power of stomach seemed to be no whit impaired by age. He continued to
talk, during his meal, in the same strain which we have described, now
indulging a peevish self-communion, now bursting forth with some
sarcastic objurgation of the world, and again breaking a jest with his
visiter.

When the seamen, under the ministration of the aged domestic, had got
their supper, Cocklescraft took his departure.

All night long lights were gleaming in the Chapel; the rain continued
in a steady misty drizzle, and not a star was seen to tempt a wanderer
abroad. The morning, which broke upon an atmosphere purged of its
vapours, showed no trace of the brig in the vicinity of St. Jerome's.
Far down the bay, hugging the eastern shore, might have been discerned
what a practised mariner would affirm to be a sail; but whether ship or
brig--whether outward or homeward bound, might not be told without the
aid of a glass.



CHAPTER XIII.

    Up she rose, and forth she goes,--
    I'll mote she speed therefor.

    ADAM BELL.

    Bell, my wife, she loves not strife,
    Yet she will lead me if she can;
    And oft, to live a quiet life,
    I'm forced to yield, though I'm goodman.
    It's not for a man a woman to threape,
    Unless he first give o'er his plea;
    As we began we now will leave
    And I'll take my old cloak about me.

    OLD SONG.


It was nine o'clock of the morning before Dauntrees and his companions,
Garret and Arnold, rose from their beds. Pamesack, whose taciturnity
was not greater than his indifference to fatigue, had, at an earlier
hour, gone his way. A breakfast was provided in the Captain's quarters,
and the three heroes of the past night sat down to it with a relish
which showed that, however unfit they might be to contend against
spiritual foes, their talents for this encounter of material existences
were highly respectable.

"You have had a busy time of it in dreams, Master Weasel," said
Dauntrees, since you laid yourself down on your truckle bed this
morning. You have been re-acting your exploits at the Chapel. I heard
you at daylight crying aloud for sword and dagger."

"I warrant you, Captain Dauntrees," replied the publican, "my head has
been full of fantasies since I laid me down to rest--for I was
exceeding weary--and weariness doth set the brain to ramble in sleep.
There was good argument, too, in our deeds at St. Jerome's for a world
of dreaming."

"Ah, the night has made a man of you, my gallant vintner. You should
bless your stars that you fell into such worthy company. You knew not
heretofore--even with your experience at Worcester--what elements of
valour it pleased Heaven to mix up in the mould whereof thou wert made.
A man never sufficiently values himself until he has had some such
passage as this."

"Ay, and look you, Captain Dauntrees," said Garret, his eye flashing
with self-gratulation, "you will reflect that I had the brunt of it
_alone_, whilst you three were banded together for common defence
and support. There I was, by my single self, in the very centre of
them. A man needs more comfort and companionship in a matter with
witches and devils, than he does against your sword and buckler
fellows. Tut! I wouldn't have cared a fig for a foe that could be
struck at; but these pestilent things of the dark--hags on besoms, and
flying bats as big as a man, great sword-fishes walking on legs, with
their screechings, and mopings, and mewings--Lord, Lord, how it tries
the reins of a solitary man! But you had flashing and firing, and
charging, Captain, which is more in the way of what one expects in a
fight, and one is prepared for: it has life in it."

"That is most true, doughty Garret. A culverin is but the whiff of an
oaten pipe, compared with a hag upon her broomstick. Thou wert ever the
man to encounter these women. It needs thy mettle to face them. Now
there is thy wife, Master Weasel--oh, but that is a perilous venture in
store for thee! You shall go to her and have it over, whilst I make my
report to his Lordship; when that is done I will straight for the Crow
and Archer, to help you in the battle, which by that time will
doubtless find you sore at need."

"I must go to his Lordship with you," replied Garret, in a lowered key;
"I must have my hand in the report; after that we will set out together
for the inn."

"Why, man!" exclaimed Dauntrees, with affected astonishment, "would you
tarry to do your duty to Mistress Dorothy? Do you not know that she
hath suffered agony of mind the live-long night in your behalf, and
that she is now in the very tempest of her affection waiting for you?"

"I know it, I know it, worthy Captain; but it doth not become my
respect for Lord Charles's service to defer his business for mine own."

"Thou shalt not budge an inch," said Dauntrees, "on any other path than
that which takes thee quickly to thy loving wife."

"Truly, Captain," replied Weasel, in a dolorous tone, "I would have
thee to go with me; I beseech you heartily, allow me to bear you
company to his Lordship. His Lordship will think it strange I did not
come: and it will take more than me to pacify the dame."

"Well, friend Weasel, in consideration that you contended single handed
last night with a whole score of devils, and bore thee gallantly; and,
moreover, as it is such heavy odds against thee in this matter of Dame
Dorothy--for, of a verity, I know she is in a devil of a passion at thy
contumacy, and not less at mine, I'll be sworn--why we will make a
muster of it and breathe our defence in solid column. Arnold will go
with us. And mark me, Vintner, at the fitting time, we shall regale."

"On the best in cellar or larder at the Crow and Archer," replied
Garret. "You have the word of a man and a soldier for it."

"I wot of a woman and no soldier, whose word would go further to that
bargain, Garret, than yours. Make ready, friends, we must move."

Dauntrees now set his beaver jauntily over his brow, and throwing his
short cloak across his arm, marched through the postern of the fort,
followed by his trusty allies, to the mansion of the Lord Proprietor.

Lord Baltimore received them in his library, and there heard from the
Captain a circumstantial narrative of the events of the preceding
night.

"It is a strange tale," he said, "and may well perplex the faith of the
simple rustics of the province. That evil spirits preside over that
blood-stained house, from your testimony, Captain Dauntrees, may no
longer be denied. Friends, you all saw these things?"

"All," said Garret Weasel, with emphatic solemnity as he straitened his
body even beyond the perpendicular line. "Pamesack and Arnold stood by
the Captain and can vouch for him. I maintained a post of danger, an
please your Lordship, alone; what I saw neither the Captain, Arnold,
nor Pamesack, saw--it was a fearful sight."

"What was it?" inquired the Proprietary, with some earnestness.

"A woman," replied Garret, "_seemingly_ a woman, an your Lordship
comprehends: but in truth a witch, as we all do know:--Kate of
Warrington, of whom your Lordship has heard. She it was who came
suddenly down upon the wold. How she came," here Garret shook his head,
"and what came with her,--it was a sight to look upon!"

"The vintner affirms to sundry fantastic shapes of imps and spectres in
company with the woman of Warrington," said Dauntrees. "We saw nothing
of the hag, having left Master Weasel, some distance in our rear when
we visited the Chapel. He was cold, and required comfort. What he
recounts, my Lord, you have his own avouch for."

"And what say you, Arnold?" inquired his Lordship, smiling.

"These ghosts and goblins keep a hot house, and the less we have to do
with them the better," replied the forester, gravely.

"They fired upon you, Captain?" said the Proprietary; "with what
weapons?"

"They had the sharp crack of the musket and pistol," replied Dauntrees,
"or what seemed to be such: yet I would not swear I saw carnal weapons
in the strife, though in the flash I thought I noted fire arms. This
may tell better than guess of mine, my Lord," he added, as he held up
his cloak and pointed to a rent in one of its folds; "this hole was
made by some missive from the house: whether it be a bullet mark or an
elf-shot, I will not say."

"Body o' me!" exclaimed Garret Weasel, as the Captain pointed to the
damage he had sustained, "I knew not this before. There was hot work, I
warrant."

"There is knavery in alliance with this sorcery," said the Proprietary,
as he examined the cloak. "These wicked spirits ever find kindred
amongst men. They have profligate companions of flesh to profit by
their devilish arts. I thank you, friends, kindly, for this venture,
and will turn it to wholesome account hereafter. Fare you well."

The party left the room, and now shaping their course towards the Crow
and Archer, soon descended below the bank and took the road along the
beach.

Whilst they trudged through the sand and gravel, midway between the
fort and the town, Dauntrees, looking behind, saw a figure descending
on horseback from the main gate of the fort down to the road upon which
they now travelled. It was that of a woman, whose gestures, at the
distance of half a mile, were sufficiently observable to show that she
urged her horse forward with impatient earnestness. As soon as she
arrived at the level of the beach, her speed was increased nearly to
the utmost of the faculty of the animal which bore her, and she now
came flying over the sand, with her garments and loose tresses floating
in the wind.

"In the devil's name, what have we here?" exclaimed Dauntrees. "As I
live, it is our queen of the hostel! Oh, Garret, Garret, here is a
volcano! Here is an out-come with a conclusion at hand! Stand, masters,
firmly on your legs, and brace up for the onset!"

"Alack, alack!" groaned the publican; "the woman is bereft. She hath my
nag from the fort."

"Ay, and rides upon your saddle, as if it were made for her,"
ejaculated the Captain. "Take post behind me, Garret: I will answer her
speech."

"It were no more than the luck she deserves," said Garret, pettishly,
"if she should fall from the nag and break her little finger, or at the
least sprain an ancle-joint."

"Hold, runagates! varlets! out upon you for a filthy Captain!" shouted
the dame, in a shrill voice, as she came within call of the party, and
now galloped up to the spot at which they had halted. "Give me that
idiot from your beastly company. Garret Weasel, Garret Weasel! you have
been the death of me!"

"Good lack, Mistress Dorothy, wife, why dost thou bear thyself in such
a sort as this?"

"I will bare thee to the buff, driveller, for this. Are you not steeped
in wickedness and abomination by evil-consorting with this copper
Captain, and this most horrid wood ranger? Hast no eye for thy family;
no regard for good name, that you must be strolling o' nights with
every pot-guzzler and foul-breathed and cankered cast-off of the wars?
I am ashamed of thee. You have been in your cups, I warrant, the
live-long night."

"Dame, I must speak, now," said Dauntrees.

"Thou, thou!" interrupted the hostess, with her face scarlet from
anger. "Never in a Christian land should such as thou be permitted to
lift thy head before honest people. His Lordship would do but justice
to the province to chain thee up in a dark stable, as a bull which may
not be trusted at large. Did you not beguile me last night with a base
lie? Did you not practice upon me, you faithless, false-hearted
coward?" here tears fell from the flashing eyes of the voluble
landlady. "Did you not steal that lob, my husband, from me, thief?"

"Appearances, dame," replied the Captain, with a grave composure, "if
they might be trusted, were certainly to my disfavour last night. But
then, I knew that when this matter was all over, I had a most
sufficient and excellent reason, which a considerate, virtuous, and
tender-hearted woman like yourself would fully approve, when she came
to hear it. There was matter in hand of great import and urgency; no
revelling, dame--no riot--but brave service, enjoined by his Lordship,
and which it was his Lordship's most earnest desire should be committed
in part to thy husband. It was an action of pith and bravery he had on
hand; and his Lordship being well aware, dame, that Garret's wife was a
woman of a loving heart, and gentle withal in her nature, and not
fitted to endure the wringing of her affection by such a trial as the
adventure imposed upon Garret, he charged me to make some light pretext
for withdrawing thy husband from thine eye, which, by fraud, I confess,
I did, and am now--since Garret hath worthily achieved his most
perilous duty--here to avow my own treachery. There is promotion and
great advantage at hand for this which will set up thy head, dame, the
highest amongst them that wear hoods."

"We have barely escaped with our lives, Mistress Dorothy," said Weasel,
in a whining accent of deprecation; "we should be made much of and
praised for our duty, not be set upon with taunts and foul rebukes; and
when you know all, wife, you will be sorry for this wounding of our
good name."

"This is but another trick," said the landlady.

"Nay, good mistress," interrupted the Captain, "I will agree to be
gibbeted by thine own fair hand, if I do not satisfy thee that in this
adventure we are deserving of all applause. The Lieutenant at the fort,
doubtless, told thee that we were absent last night on special duty at
his Lordship's command?"

"The varlet did feign such a story, when I thought to catch this fool
in thy company. And he would deny me, too, the nag; but I brought such
coil about his ears that he was glad to give me the beast and set all
gates open. Where do you say you have spent the night?"

"At the Black Chapel, mistress," said Weasel, with a most portentous
solemnity of speech: "at the Black Chapel, by his Lordship's order;
and, oh, the sights we have seen! and the time we have had of it, wife!
it would make thy blood freeze to hear it."

"On the honour of a soldier, dame! by the faith of this right hand!"
said Dauntrees, as he offered it to the hostess and took hers, "I swear
this is true. We have had a night of wonders, which you shall hear in
full when the time suits. We are on our way now to the Crow and Archer,
for thine especial gratification."

"Can this be true, Arnold?" inquired the mollified and bewildered
landlady. "I will believe what you say."

"You may trust in every word of it, as I am a Christian man. There be
marvellous doings at the Black Chapel. We have seen spirits and devils
in company."

"It is graver matter, wife, than you wot of," said Weasel.

"Ride forward, dame," added Dauntrees; "you shall see us soon at the
hostel. And I promise you shall have the story, too, of the Mercer's
Wife from beginning to end: you shall dame."

"You are a wheedling, cogging cheat, Captain; thy roguery will have a
melancholy end yet," replied the dame, as she now rode forward with a
sunshiny smile playing upon features which but a few moments before
were dark with storm.

When they reached the Crow and Archer they found a group of traders
assembled on the quay, gazing with a busy speculation towards the mouth
of the river. By degrees the crowd increased, and the rumour soon
spread abroad that the Olive Branch was in sight. A vessel was, indeed,
discernible across the long flat of St. Inigoe's, just entering the
river, and those who professed a knowledge of nautical affairs had no
scruple in announcing her as the brigantine of Cocklescraft. She was
apparently an active craft, belonging to the smaller class of
sea-vessels, and manifestly a faster sailer than was ordinarily to be
seen at that period. A fair and fresh breeze impelled her steadily
towards her haven, and as she bounded over the glittering waters, the
good folks of the little city were seen clustering in knots on every
prominent cliff along the high bank, and counting the minutes which
brought this messenger from the old world nearer to their salutation.

Meantime the Olive Branch began to show the sparkling foam which broke
upon her bow; then to give forth voices from her deck, audible to the
crowd; presently to lower sail; and at last, being stripped to her bare
poles and naked rigging, she glided with lessening speed, slower and
slower, until her extended cable showed that her anchor was dropt and
her voyage at an end.

It was past noon when the brig came to her mooring, opposite the Town
House wharf, and after a brief interval, Cocklescraft, arrayed as we
have before seen him, except that he had changed his sombrero for a
tasseled cap of cloth, landed on the quay, and soon became the lion of
the Crow and Archer.



CHAPTER XIV.

    Every white will have its black,
    And every sweet its sour.

    OLD BALLAD.


The birth-day festival at the Rose Croft might be said appropriately to
belong to the eminent dominion of the Lady Maria. It therefore lacked
nothing of her zealous supervision. With the aid of father Pierre and
some female auxiliaries she had persuaded the Collector--a task of no
great difficulty--to sanction the proceeding, and she was now intent
upon the due ordering and setting out of the preparations. The day was
still a week off when, early after breakfast, on a pleasant morning the
business-fraught lady was seen in the hall, arrayed in riding hood and
mantle, ready to mount a quiet black-and-white pony that, in the charge
of a groom, awaited her pleasure at the door. Natta, the little Indian
girl, stood by entrusted with the care of a work-bag or wallet
apparently well stuffed with the materials for future occupation,--the
parcel-fragments which thrifty housewives and idleness-hating dames,
down to this day, are accustomed to carry with them, for the sake of
the appearance, at least, of industry. Just at this moment the
Proprietary came into the hall, and seeing that his worthy sister was
bound on some enterprise of more than usual earnestness, he added to
his customary morning salutation a playful inquiry into the purport of
her excursion.

"Ah, Charles," she replied, "there are doings in the province which are
above the rule of your burgesses and councils. I hold a convocation at
the Rose Croft to-day, touching matters more earnest than your state
affairs. We have a merry-making in the wind, and I am looked to both
for countenance and advice. It is my prerogative, brother, to be
mistress of all revels."

"God bless thine age, Maria!" was the affectionate reply of the
Proprietary--"it wears a pleasant verdure and betokens a life of
innocent thoughts and kind actions. May the saints bear thee gently
onward to thy rest! Come, I will serve as your cavalier, and help you
to your horse, sister.--See now, my arm has pith in it. Hither,
Natta--there is the wench on the pillion--who could serve thee with a
better grace than that?"

"Thanks--thanks, good brother!" ejaculated the lady as the Proprietary
lifted her to her seat, and then swung the Indian girl upon the pillion
behind her. "Your arm is a valiant arm, and is blessed by more than one
in this province. It has ever been stretched forth in acts of charity
and protection."

"Nay, Maria, you are too old to flatter. Fie! I have no advancement to
offer thee. In truth thou art sovereign here--though you go through
your realm with but scant attendance for one so magnified. Why is not
Albert in your train? I may well spare him--as he has a liking for such
service."

"Brother, I would not tax the Secretary. He hath a free foot for his
own pleasure; and, methinks, he finds his way to the Rose Croft easily
enough without my teaching. It is an ancient caution of mine, in such
affairs, neither to mar nor make."

"Heaven help thee for a considerate spinster!" said the Proprietary
with a benignant smile as he raised his hands and shook them sportively
towards his sister. "Go thy ways, with thy whimsies and thy
scruples;--and a blessing on them! I wish yours were our only
cares:--but go thy ways, girl!" he added, as the lady set forth on her
journey, and he withdrew from the door.

At the Rose Croft, the approaching merry-making had superseded all
other family topics, both in parlour and kitchen. The larder was
already beginning to exhibit the plentiful accumulations which, in a
place of strength, might portend a siege: the stable boys were ever on
the alert, with their cavalry, to do rapid errands to the town, and
Michael Mossbank, the gardener, was seen in frequent and earnest
consultation with John Pouch, a river-side cotter, touching supplies of
fish and wild fowl.

Whilst the elder sister Alice despatched the graver duties of the
housekeeping, she had consigned to Blanche the not less important care
of summoning the guests, and the maiden was now seated at the table
with pen in hand registering the names of those who had been, or were
to be invited to the feast,--or in other words making a census of
pretty nearly the whole tithable population of St. Mary's and its
dependencies.

"A plague upon it for a weary labour!" she exclaimed as she threw down
the pen and rested her chin upon the palm of her hand. "I know I shall
forget somebody I ought not to forget--and shall be well rated for it.
And then again I shall be chid for being too free with my
fellowship.--What a world of names is here! I did not think the whole
province had so many. There is Winnefred Hay, the Viewer's
sister,--they have tales about her which, if they be true, it is not
fit she should be a crony of mine--and yet I don't believe them, though
many do.--Truly the Viewer will be in a grand passion if I slight her!
Sister Alice, give me your advice."

"Bid her to the feast, Blanche. We should be slow to believe these
rumours to the injury of a neighbour. Winnefred Hay, is not over
discreet--and gives more semblance to an evil opinion than, in truth,
her faults deserve: but the townspeople are scarce better in this
quickness to censure--especially such as look to the tobacco viewing.
Lawrence Hay's place has something to do with that scandal."

"I am glad, sister Alice, you give me an argument to indulge my own
secret wish," replied Blanche; "for I like not to believe harsh reports
against any of our province. And so, that is at an end. Alack!--here is
another matter for counsel: Grace Blackiston says Helen Clements is too
young to be at my gathering:--she has two years before her yet at
school, and has only begun embroidering. Oh, but I would as soon do a
barefoot penance for a month as disappoint her!--she is the wildest of
all for a dance, and looks for it, I know,--though she says never a
word, and has her eyes on the ground when we talk about it.--Ha, let
Grace Blackiston prate as she will, Helen shall be here! Fairly, my
gossip,--I will be mistress in my own house, I promise you!"

"There is room for all thy friends, young and old," said Alice; "and
you should not stint to ask them for the difference of a span or so in
height. You are not quite a woman yourself, Blanche,--no, nor Grace
neither--although you perk yourselves up so daintily."

"Would you have the gauger's wife, sister?" inquired Blanche, with a
face of renewed perplexity. "I think my dear Lady Maria would be
pleased if I bid the dame--for the gauger is a good friend of his
Lordship--hot-headed, they say, but that does not make him the
worse--and his dame takes it kindly to be noticed."

"Even as you will, Blanche,--it is a mark of gentle nurture not to be
too scrupulous with thy questions of quality--a kind neighbour will
never disgrace your courtesy. But one thing, child, your father will
look to:--see that you avoid these Coodes and Fendalls and even the
Chiseldines. There is a feud between them and the Proprietary,--and my
Lord's friends are warm in the matter,--your father amongst the rest."

"I warrant you they get no bid from me," said Blanche, as the colour
mantled in her cheek. "I hate them stock and branch--yes, as my good
lady hates them."

Blanche had scarcely uttered these words before the good lady herself
rode past the window. The maiden bounded forth to receive her, and
Alice with less precipitation followed.

"I come with pony and pillion," said the visiter as she was assisted to
the ground, and bustled into the parlour. "I could not rest until I saw
Blanche, to know if all her biddings were abroad. My pretty bird, pray
look you to your task--you have no time to lose: there are the families
beyond Patuxent--and our friends across the bay,--besides many at home
that I know have not heard from you yet. And here, sweet, I have
brought you some trinketry which you shall wear at the feast: a part is
for Grace Blackiston, and a part for you. Thou shalt have the choice,
Blanche:--but whisht!--not a word of it to Grace, because I think she
hath a conceit to be jealous of thy favour."

Whilst the two sisters welcomed the lady and responded to her voluble
communications in a tone of affectionate intimacy, the contents of the
work-bag were thrown open to view, and successively gave rise to sundry
discussions relating not only to the objects presented, but also
collaterally to the thousand matters of detail connected with the
festival, thus engrossing the first hour of their interview, until the
subject was changed by an exclamation from Blanche, as she looked
through the window upon the river--

"Oh, but here is a gallant sight!--see yonder hawk following a heron.
He will strike presently--the heron cannot get away. Poor bird! how he
doubles and drops in his flight to escape the swift hawk;--but it is of
no avail. I should almost say it was sinful,--if it was not approved
and followed by those I love best--I should hold it sinful to frighten
and torture a harmless heron by such pursuit. There, the hawk has
struck, and down comes hawk and quarry to the water."

"It is his Lordship's hawk," said the Lady Maria, as she looked out
upon the river. "Derrick the falconer must be abroad to-day with his
birds:--and now whilst I speak, there he is walking along the beach.
And he is not alone neither:--by that short mantle and that feather,
Blanche, you may know a friend."

The colour rose on the maiden's cheek as she said, "it is Albert, his
Lordship's secretary."

"His eyes are turned this way," said the sister of the Proprietary. "A
wager he comes to the house in the next ten minutes!--He would fain
find some business with the Collector--I know Master Albert's
occasions: nay, do not flurry thyself, my sweet Blanche."

"I wish the Secretary _would_ come," returned the maiden; "we have
need of him; he promised to show me how I were best to arrange my
flower vases."

"Then thou shouldst do well to despatch a messenger to him,"
interrupted the Lady Maria, playfully; "dost thou not think he might
forget?"

"Oh no, my dear lady," replied Blanche, "Master Albert never forgets a
promise to me."

"Indeed! Well, I should have thought that having occasion to make you
so many promises--for he is here at the Rose Croft thrice a week at
least--and every visit has its promise, or I mistake--he would forget
full one half."

"I deal but scantily in promises with the Secretary," replied Blanche.
"Master Albert's errands here are for pastime mostly."

"Ah, he doth not forget," exclaimed the Lady Maria; "for there I see
the feather of his bonnet as he climbs up the bank,--and now we have
his head and shoulders; we shall get the whole man anon,--and Master
Benedict Leonard in the bargain, for I see _him_ trudging in the
Secretary's footsteps, as he is wont to do; his young Lordship hath
become the Secretary's shadow. And there is Derrick behind. They are
all bound for this haven."

As the lady spoke, the Secretary was seen from the window with the heir
apparent and the falconer on the verge of the bank which they had just
ascended. Benedict Leonard had a hooded hawk upon his fist; and
Derrick, waving a light rod to which a small streamer or flag was
attached, was busy in luring down the bird that had just flown at the
heron. Whilst the falconer continued his occupation the Secretary and
his young companion entered the mansion.

Albert Verheyden's accost to the ladies was characterized by a
familiarity not unmixed with diffidence, and a momentary flush passed,
across his cheek as, after saluting Mistress Alice, and turning to
Blanche, his eye fell upon the sister of the Proprietary. "I did not
expect to find my honoured lady so early at the Rose Croft," he said
with a profound reverence. "It should have been my duty, madam, to
attend you, but I knew not of your purpose; and the falconer being bent
to fly the cast of lanerets which Colonel Talbot lately sent to my
Lord, would have me witness the trial, and so I came with Master
Benedict to see this sport."

"Nay, Albert," replied the lady, "you should not have been of my
company even if you had sought permission. I come to-day on no idle
errand which might allow your loitering paces and customary delays to
gaze on headlands and meadows, whereby you are wont to interrupt the
course of your journey. The matter of our present meeting has need of
stirring feet, which go direct to their work,--yours are not such.
Still, Master Albert, you shall not be useless to-day:--here is
occupation to thy hand; Blanche is in much want of a penman, and as you
are of the writing craft, she would gladly enlist thee in her
service--that is, if thou hast not been already marshaled and sworn
under her colours."

"Master Albert, our dear lady does but jest," said Blanche. "She knows
I had at first no need of better penman than myself, and now have need
of none,--for, in truth, my work was finished ere she came. But your
service I may command in a better task. You did promise to bring me
some device for my flower-stands."

"The joiner will have them here to-day," replied the Secretary. "I have
not failed to spur his industry as well as my own poor invention to
that endeavour."

"Then all is done but the rendering of thanks," said Blanche, "which
yet I am not in the humour to do, having matter of quarrel with you for
that following of the poor heron which, but now, we saw the hawk strike
down, whilst you were a looker-on, and, as we suspect, an encourager of
the trespass. It was a cruel thing to assail the innocent fowl, which,
being native here, has ever found friends in our house;--yes, and has
daily fed upon the flat below the garden. These herons scarce fly when
I walk by them on the beach. I wish the falconer had sought his quarry
elsewhere than amongst my harmless birds. You should have controlled
him."

"I am deeply grieved," replied the Secretary. "Indeed, I knew not of
the bird nor whence he came: nor thought of it, in truth. A feather of
his wing should not have come to harm had I been aware that he had ever
pleased your eye. I am all unskilled in these out-door sports, and have
scarce worn out the complexion of my school at Antwerp, where worldly
pastimes were a forbidden thought. A poor scholar of the cloister might
go free of blame if, in this sunny and gallant world, the transport of
a noble game should rob him of his circumspection. I thought of naught
but the glorious circling of the hawk and his swift and imperious
assault. I crave your pardon for my inconsiderate error."

"You speak more like a practised cavalier than a scholar of the
cloister," said the sister of the Proprietary; "thou hast a cavalier's
love of the sport, Albert."

"It doth not beseem me, madam," was the Secretary's reply, "to affect a
pastime which belongs neither to my rank nor humble means; but, in
sadness, dear lady, I do love hawk, and hound, and steed. And when in
my sequestered study--where, being, as I thought, destined to the
service of the altar, I read mostly of holy men and holy things, little
dreaming that I should ever see the world--it sometimes chanced, in my
stray reading, I fell upon a lay wherein deeds of chivalry were told;
and then I was conscious of a wish, I am now almost ashamed to confess,
that fortune might some day bring me better acquainted with that world
to which such deeds belonged. Oh, blessed chance! it hath befallen
now:----that is,--I mean to say," continued the Secretary, checking
himself, as his flashing eye fell to the floor, and a blush flitted
across his brow--"it hath pleased Heaven to give me a kind master in my
good Lord, who doth not deny me to look on when these sports are
afield."

"And if we did strike down the heron, Blanche Warden," said Benedict
Leonard, saucily accosting the maiden, and showing the hawk that was
bound to his wrist--"what is a heron good for, but to be brought down?
Herons were made for hawks--yes, and for the hawks of the Proprietary
above all others; for I have heard say that every heron on the
Chesapeake, within my father's boundary, is his own bird: so Derrick
has said a hundred times. And there's my uncle Talbot, who flies a hawk
better than any other in the province--I don't care if Derrick hears
me--and has the best mews,--he says that these fire-arms have broken up
hawking in the old country; and he told me I must not let it fall
through when I come to the province; for my father, he thinks, doesn't
care much for it. I promise you in my time we shall have hawking
enough--chide as you like, Mistress Blanche. It was partly for me that
my uncle Talbot sent us this cast of birds. Look at that laneret,
Blanche,--look at her! Isn't that a bird? Talk to me of a goshawk after
that!"

"Benedict--nephew," interposed the Lady Maria, "why dost thou fling thy
bird so rudely? She brushes Blanche's cheek with her wing. Pray, not so
bold: Blanche will not like thee for it."

"Blanche will never quarrel with me for loving my hawk, aunt," replied
the boy playfully. "Will you, mistress? A laneret's wing and Blanche
Warden's cheek are both accounted beautiful in this province, and will
not grow angry with each other upon acquaintance."

"I know not that, Benedict," replied the maiden; "my cheek may grow
jealous of your praise of the wing, and mischief might follow. She is
but a savage bird, and hath a vicious appetite."

"I will away to the falconer," said the boy. "It is but wasting good
things to talk with women about hawks. You will find me, Master Albert,
along the bank with Derrick, if you have need of me."

"That boy hath more of the Talbot in him than the Calvert," said the
Lady Maria, after he had left the room. "His father was ever grave from
youth upwards, and cared but little for these exercises. Benedict
Leonard lives in the open air, and has a light heart.--Thou hast a book
under thy mantle, Master Albert," continued the lady. "Is your breviary
needful when you go forth to practise a laneret?"

"It is a volume I have brought for Mistress Blanche," replied the
Secretary, as, with some evident confusion, he produced a gilded quarto
with clasps, from beneath his dress. "It is a delightful history of a
brave cavalier, that I thought would please her."

"Ah!" exclaimed the sister of the Proprietary, taking the book and
reading the title-page--"'_La très joyeuse et plaisante Histoire,
composéc par le Loyal Serviteur, des faits, gestes et prouesses du bon
Chevalier sans peur et sans reproche._' Ay, and a right pleasant
history it is, this of the good Knight Bayard, without fear and without
reproach. But, Albert, thou knowest Blanche doth not read French."

"I designed to render it myself to Mistress Blanche, in her native
tongue," replied the Secretary.

"Blanche," said the lady, shaking her head, "this comes of not taking
my counsel to learn this language of chivalry long ago. See what peril
you will suffer now in journeying through this huge book alone with
Master Albert."

"I see no peril," replied the maiden, unconscious of the raillery.
"Master Albert will teach me, ere he be done, to read French for
myself."

"When thou hast such a master, and the Secretary such a pupil," said
the lady, smiling, "Heaven speed us! I will eat all the French thou
learnest in a month. But, Master Albert, if Blanche cannot understand
your legend, in the tongue in which it is writ, she can fully
comprehend your music--and so can we. It is parcel of your duty at the
Rose Croft to do minstrel's service. You have so many songs--and I saw
thee stealing a glance at yon lute, as if thou wouldst greet an old
acquaintance."

"If it were not for Master Albert," said Alice, "Blanche's lute would
be unstrung. She scarce keeps it, one would think, but for the
Secretary's occupation."

"Ah, sister Alice, and my dear lady," said Blanche, "the Secretary hath
such a touch of the lute, that I but shame my own ears to play upon it,
after hearing his ditties. Sing, Master Albert, I pray you," she added,
as she presented him the instrument.

"I will sing to the best of my skill," replied Albert, "which has been
magnified beyond my deservings. With your leave, I will try a canzonet
I learned in London. It was much liked by the gallants there, and I
confess a favour for it because it hath a stirring relish. It runs thus:

    'Tell me not, sweet, I am unkind,
      That from the nunnery
    Of thy chaste breast and quiet mind
      To war and arms I fly.

    'True, a new mistress, now I chase,
      The first foe in the field;
    And with a stronger faith embrace
      A sword, a horse, a shield.

    'Yet this inconstancy is such
      As you too shall adore:
    I could not love thee, dear, so much,
      Lov'd I not honour more.'"

"Well done! Well touched lute--well trolled ditty! Brave song for a
bird of thy feather, Master Verheyden!" exclaimed the Collector, who,
when the song was finished, entered the room with Cocklescraft. "That's
as good a song, Master Cocklescraft----the Skipper, ladies--my friend
of the Olive Branch, who has been with me this hour past docketing his
cargo: I may call him especially your friend--he is no enemy to the
vanities of this world. Ha, Master Cocklescraft, thou hast wherewith to
win a world of grace with the petticoats!--thou hast an eye for the
trickery of the sex! Sit down, sir--I pray you, without further
reverence, sit down."

The Skipper, during this introduction, stood near the door, bowing to
the company, and then advanced into the room with a careless and
somewhat over-bold step, such as denotes a man who, in the endeavour to
appear at his ease in society, carries his acting to the point of
familiarity. Still his freedom was not without grace, and his
demeanour, very soon after the slight perturbation of his first accost,
became natural and appropriate to his character.

"Save you, madam," he said, addressing the sister of the Proprietary,
and bowing low, "and you, Mistress Alice, and you, my young lady of the
Rose Croft. It is a twelvemonth since I left the Port, and I am right
glad to meet the worshipful ladies of the province once again, and to
see that good friends thrive. The salt water whets a sailor's eye for
friendly faces. Mistress Blanche, I would take upon me to say, without
being thought too free, that you have grown some trifle taller than
before I sailed. I did not then think you could be bettered in figure."

The maiden bowed without answering the Skipper's compliment.

"Richard Cocklescraft," said the Collector, "I know not if you ever saw
Albert Verheyden. Had he come hither before you sailed? His Lordship's
secretary."

"I was not so lucky as to fall into his company," replied Cocklescraft,
turning towards the Secretary, and eyeing him from head to foot. "I
think I heard that his Lordship brought new comers with him. We shall
not lack acquaintance. Your hand, Master Verdun--I think so you said?"
he added, as he looked inquiringly at the Collector.

The Collector again pronounced the name of the Secretary with more
precision.

"Nearly the same thing," continued the Skipper. "Master Verheyden, your
hand: mine is something rougher, but it shall be the hand of a comrade,
if thine be in the service of worshipful Master Anthony Warden, the
good Collector of St. Mary's. I know how to value a friend, Master
Secretary, and a friend's friend. You have a rare voice for a ballad--I
pretend to have an opinion in such matters--an excellent voice and a
free finger for the lute."

"I am flattered by your liking sir," returned Albert Verheyden coldly,
as he retired towards a window, somewhat repelled by the too freely
proffered acquaintance of the Skipper, and the rather loud voice and
obtrusive manner with which he addressed those around him.

"Oh, this craft of singing is the touchstone of gentility now-a-days,"
said Cocklescraft, twirling his velvet bonnet by the gold tassel
appended to the crown. "A man is accounted unfurnished who has no skill
in that joyous art. Sea-bred as I am, Collector--worshipful Master
Warden--you would scarce believe me, but I have touched lute and guitar
myself, and passably well. I learned this trick in Milan, whither I
have twice gone in my voyages, and dwelt there with these Italians,
some good summer months. That is your climate for dark eyes and bright
nights--balconies, and damsels behind the lattice, listening to
thrummers and singers upon the pavements below. And upon occasion, we
wear the short cloak and dagger. I have worn cloak and stiletto in my
travels, Master Collector, and trolled a catch in the true tongue of
Tuscany, when tuck and rapier rung in the burden. The hot blood there
is a commodity which the breeze from the Alps hath no virtue to cool,
as it doth in Switzerland."

"We will try your singing craft ere it be long," replied the Collector.
"We will put you to catch and glee, with a jig to the heel of it,
Richard Cocklescraft. You must know, Blanche is eighteen on the
festival of St. Therese, and we have a junketing forward which has set
the whole province astir. You shall take part in the sport with the
town's-people, Master Skipper; and I warrant you find no rest of limb
until you show us some new antics of the fashion which you have picked
up abroad. You shall dance and sing with witnesses--or a good leg and a
topping voice shall have no virtue! I pray you do not forget to make
one of our company on the festival of St. Therese. Your gewgaws,
Richard, and woman's gear, could not be more in season: every wench in
the port is like to be your debtor."

"Thanks, Master Collector, I have a foot and voice, ay, and hand, ever
at the service of your good company. I will be first to come and last
to depart.--I have been mindful of the Rose of St. Mary's in my
voyaging," he said in a respectful and lowered tone, as he approached
the maiden. "Mistress Blanche is never so far out of my thoughts that I
might come back to the Port without some token for her. I would crave
your acceptance of a pretty mantle of crimson silk lined with minever.
I found it in Dort, and being taken with its beauty, and thinking how
well it would become the gay figure of my pretty mistress of the Rose
Croft, I brought it away, and now make bold to ask--that is, if it be
agreeable to Mistress Blanche, and if I do not venture too far--that I
may be allowed to bring it hither."

"You may find a worthier hand for such a favour," said Blanche, with a
tone and look that somewhat eagerly repelled the proffered gift, and
manifested dislike of the liberty which the Skipper had taken--a
liberty which was in no degree lessened to her apprehension by the
unaccustomed gentleness of his voice, and the humble and faltering
manner in which he had asked her consent to the present. "I am unused
to such gaudy trappings, and should not be content to wear the cloak;"
then perceiving some reproof, as she fancied, in the countenance of her
sister Alice and the Lady Maria, she added, in a kindlier voice, "I
dare not accept it at your hand, Master Skipper."

"Nay," replied Cocklescraft, presuming upon the mildness of the
maiden's last speech, and pressing the matter with that obtrusiveness
which marked his character and nurture, "I shall not take it kindly if
thou dost not;" and as a flush overspread his cheek, he added, "I
counted to a certainty that you would do me this courtesy."

"Men sometimes count rashly, Master Cocklescraft," interposed the Lady
Maria, "who presume upon a maiden's willingness to incur such debts."

"Save you, madam," replied the Skipper; "I should be sorry Mistress
Blanche should deem it to be incurring a debt."

"I have not been trained," said Blanche, with perfect self-possession
and firmness of manner, which she intended should put an end to the
Skipper's importunity, "to receive such favours from the hand of a
stranger; when I have need of a mantle, the mercer shall be my friend."

"You will, perchance, think better of it when you see the mantle," said
the Skipper, carelessly, and then added with a saucy smile, "women are
changeful, Master Collector; I will bring the gewgaw for Mistress
Blanche's inspection--a chapman may have that privilege."

"You may spare yourself the trouble," said the maiden.

"Nay, mistress, think it not a trouble, I beseech you; I count nothing
a trouble which shall allow me to please thy fancy." As the Skipper
uttered this he came still nearer to the chair on which Blanche was
seated, and, almost in a whisper, said, "I pray you, mistress, think
not so lightly of my wish to serve you. I have set my heart upon your
taking the mantle."

"Master Skipper, a word with you," interrupted the Secretary, who had
watched the whole scene; and aware of the annoyance which
Cocklescraft's rudeness inflicted upon the maiden, had quietly
approached him and now beckoned him to a recess of the window, where
they might converse without being heard by the company. "It is not
civil to importune the lady in this fashion. You must be satisfied with
her answer as she has given it to you. It vexes the daughter of Master
Warden to be thus besought. I pray you, sir, no more of it."

Cocklescraft eyed the Secretary for a moment with a glance of scornful
resentment, and then replied in a voice inaudible to all but the person
to whom it was addressed. "Right! perhaps you are right, sir; but when
I would be tutored for my behaviour, he shall be a man, by my troth,
who takes that duty on him, and shall wear a beard and sword both. I
needed not thy schooling, master crotchet-monger!" Then leaving the
Secretary, he strode towards the maiden, and assuming a laughing face,
which but awkwardly concealed his vexation, he said, "well, Mistress
Blanche, since you are resolved that you will not take my poor bauble
off my hands, I must give it over as a venture lost, and so an end of
it. I were a fool to be vexed because I could not read the riddle of a
maiden's fancy: how should such fish of the sea be learned in so gentle
a study? So, viaggio, it shall break no leg of mine! I will dance none
the less merrily for it at the feast: and as for the mantle, why it may
find other shoulders in the Port, though it shall never find them so
fit to wear it withal, as the pretty shoulders of Mistress Blanche.
Master Warden I must fain take my leave; my people wait me at the quay.
Fair weather for the feast, and a merry time of it, ladies! A Dios,
Master Collector!"

The gaiety of this leaving-taking was dashed with a sternness of manner
which all the Skipper's acting could not conceal, and as he walked
towards the door, he paused a moment to touch Albert Verheyden's cloak
and whispered in his ear, "We shall be better acquainted, sir;" then
leaving the house he rapidly shaped his course towards the town.

He had scarcely got out of sight before Blanche sprang from her chair
and ran towards her father, pouring out upon him a volley of reproof
for his unadvised and especially unauthorized invitation of the Skipper
to the festival. The maiden was joined in this assault by her
auxiliaries, the Proprietary's sister and Mistress Alice, who concurred
in reading the simple-minded and unconsciously offending old gentleman
a lecture upon his improvident interference in this delicate matter.
They insisted that Cocklescraft's associations in the port gave him no
claim to such a favour, and that, at all events, it was Blanche's
prerogative to be consulted in regard to the admission of the younger
and gayer portions of her company.

"Have you not had your will, my dear father," was the summing up of
Blanche's playful attack, "to your full content, in summoning all the
old humdrum folks of the province, even to the Dominie and his wife,
who have never been known to go to a merry-making any where, and who
are both so deaf that they have not heard each other speak this many a
day? and now you must needs be bringing the Skipper hither."

"Lackaday, wench! what have I done to redden thy brow?" interrupted Mr.
Warden, with a face of perplexed good humour, unable longer to bear the
storm of rebuke, or to parry the arguments which were so eagerly thrust
at him; "I warrant now I have made mischief without knowing how! The
Skipper is a free blade, of good metal, and of a figure, too, which,
methinks, might please a damsel in a dance, and spare us all this coil;
his leg has not its fellow in the province. You take me to task
roundly, when all the while I was so foolish as to believe I was doing
you regardful service."

"He hath a wicked look, father," was Blanche's reply; "and a saucy
freedom which I like not. He is ever too bold in his greeting, and
lacks gentle breeding. He must come to me, forsooth, with his mantle,
as an especial token, and set upon me with so much constancy to take
it! Take a mantle from him! I have never even seen him but twice
before, and then it was in church, where he must needs claim to speak
to me as if he were an old acquaintance! I will none of him nor his
mantle, if he were fifty times a properer man than he is!"

"Be it so, my daughter," replied the Collector. "But we must bear this
mishap cheerily. I will not offend again. You women," he said, as he
walked to and fro through the parlour, with his hands behind his back,
and a good natured smile playing over his features, "you women are more
shrewd to read the qualities of men, especially in matters touching
behaviour, than such old pock-puddings as I am. I will be better
counselled before I trespass in this sort again. But remember, Blanche,
the Skipper has his summons, and our hospitality must not suffer
reproach; so we will e'en make the best we can of this blundering
misadventure of mine. For our own honour, we must be courteous,
Blanche, to the Skipper; and, therefore, do thou take heed that he have
no cause to say we slight him. As I get old I shall grow wise."

Blanche threw her arms around her father's neck and imprinting a kiss
upon his brow, said in a tone of affectionate playfulness, "for your
sake, dear father, I will not chide: the Skipper shall not want due
observance from me. I did but speak to give you a caution, by which you
shall learn that the maidens of this province are so foolish as to
stand to it, and I amongst the rest, that they are better able to
choose their gallants than their fathers,--though their fathers be
amongst his Lordship's most trusty advisers."

"Now a thousand benisons upon thy head, my child!" said the Collector,
as he laid his hand upon Blanche's glossy locks, and then left the
apartment.



CHAPTER XV.

    Friend to the sea, and foeman sworn
    To all that on her waves are borne,
    When falls a mate in battle broil
    His comrade heirs his portioned spoil--
    Chalice and plate from churches borne,
    And gems from shrieking beauty torn,
    Each string of pearl, each silver bar,
    And all the wealth of western war.

    ROKEBY.


As the Skipper strode towards the town, his dogged air and lowering
brow evinced the disquiet of his spirit at what had just occurred. He
was nettled by the maiden's rejection of his proffered gift, and a
still deeper feeling of resentment agitated his mind against the
Secretary. Far other man was he than he was deemed by the burghers of
St. Mary's. In truth, they knew but little more of him than might be
gained from his few occasional visits to the port in a calling which,
as it brought him a fair harvest of profit, laid him under a necessity
to cultivate, for the nonce, the good opinion of his customers by such
address as he was master of.

Cocklescraft belonged to that tribe of desperate men, until near this
period in the full career of their bloody successes, known as "The
Brethren of the Coast." His first breath was drawn upon the billows of
the ocean, and his infancy was nursed in the haunts of the buccaneers,
amongst the Keys of the Bahamas. When but a lad, attending upon these
wild hordes in their expeditions against the commerce of the Gulf, he
chanced to attract the notice of the famous Captain Morgan, whilst that
most rapacious of all the pirate leaders was preparing, at Jamaica, for
his incursion against Maracaibo. The freebooter was charmed with the
precocious relish for rapine conspicuous in the character of the boy;
and, with an affectionate interest, took him under his tutelage,
assigning to him a post near his person, rather of pageantry than
service--that of a page or armour-bearer, according to the yet
lingering forms of chivalry. The incredible bravery of the buccaneers
in this exploit, and their detestable cruelties were witnessed by this
callow imp of the sea, with a delight and a shrewdness of apprehension
which gave to his youthful nature the full benefit of the lesson. He
was scarce two years older when, in the due succession of his hopeful
experience, he again attended his patron upon that unmatched adventure
of plunder and outrage, the leaguer of Panama; and it was remarked that
amidst the perils of the cruise upon the Costa Rica, the toils of the
inland march over moor and mountain, and the desperate hazards of the
storming of the city, the page, graceful and active as the minion of a
lady's bower, and fierce as a young sea-wolf, was seen every where,
like an elvish sprite, tracking the footsteps of his ruthless master.
The history of human wickedness has not a more appalling chapter than
that which records the fate of the wretched inhabitants of Panama in
this assault; and yet, in the midst of its shocking enormities, the gay
and tasseled familiar of the ruffian pirate chief tripped daintily
through the carnage, with the light step of a reveller, and pursued the
flying virgins and affrighted matrons, from house to house, as the
flames enveloped their roof trees, with the mockery and prankishness of
an actor in a masquerade. This expedition terminated not without adding
another item to the experience of the young free-booter--the only one,
perhaps, yet wanting to his perfect accomplishment. The Welsh Captain,
laden with spoils of untold value, played false to his comrades, by
stealing off with the lion's share of the booty; thus, by a gainful act
of perfidy, inculcating upon the eager susceptibility of the page an
imposing moral, of which it may be supposed he would not be slow to
profit.

Such was the school in which Cocklescraft received the rudiments of his
education. These harsher traits of his character, however, it is but
justice to say, were, in some degree, mitigated by a tolerably fair
amount of scholastic accomplishment, picked up in the intervals of his
busy life amongst the scant teaching afforded by the islands, of which
the protection and care of his patron enabled him to profit. To this
was added no mean skill in music, dancing, and the use of his weapon;
whilst a certain enthusiasm of temperament stimulated his courage and
even whetted the fierceness of his nature.

Morgan, having run his career, returned to England, a man of wealth,
and was knighted by the monarch, in one of those profligate revels by
which Charles disgraced his kingly state; the page was, in consequence,
turned adrift upon the world, as it is usual to say of heroes, "with no
fortune but his talents, and no friend but his sword." Riot soon
exhausted his stock of plunder, and the prodigal licentiousness of "The
Brethren of the Coast," forbade the gathering of a future hoard. About
this date the European powers began to deal more resolutely with the
banditti of the islands, and their trade consequently became more
precarious. They were compelled, in pursuit of new fields for robbery,
to cross the isthmus and try their fortunes on the coast of the
Pacific--whither Cocklescraft followed and reaped his harvest in the
ravage of Peru: but in turn, the Brethren found themselves tracked into
these remoter seas, and our adventurer was fain, with many of his
comrades, to find his way back to the coves and secret harbours of
Tortuga and the Keys, whence he contrived to eke out a scant
subsistence, by an occasional stoop upon such defenceless wanderers of
the ocean as chance threw within his grasp. The Olive Branch was a
beautiful light vessel, which, in one of his sea-forays, he had wrested
from a luckless merchant; and this acquisition suggested to him the
thought that, with such necessary alterations as should disguise her
figure and equipment, he might drive a more secure, and, perchance,
more profitable trade between the Atlantic colonies and the old
countries; so, with a mongrel crew of trusty cutthroats, carefully
selected from the companions of his former fortunes, and a secret
armament well bestowed for sudden emergency, he set himself up for an
occasional trader between the Chesapeake and the coast of Holland. A
lucky acquaintance with the Cripple of St. Jerome's gave him a useful
ally in his vocation as a smuggler; the fisherman's hut, long believed
to be the haunt of evil spirits, admirably favoured his design, and
under the management of Rob, soon became a spot of peculiar desecration
in popular report; and thus, in no long space of time, the gay,
swashing cavalier, master of the Olive Branch, began to find good
account in his change of character from the Flibustier of the Keys into
that of smuggler and trader of the Chesapeake. He had now made several
voyages from St. Mary's to the various marts of Holland and England,
taking out cargoes of tobacco and bringing back such merchandise as was
likely to find a ready sale in the colonies. His absence from port was
often mysteriously prolonged, and on his return it not unfrequently
happened that there were found amongst his cargo commodities such as
might scarce be conjectured to have been brought from the ports of
Europe,--consisting some times of tropical fruits, ingots of gold and
silver, and sundry rich furniture of Indian aspect, better fitted for
the cabinet of the virtuoso than the trade of a new province. Then,
also, there were occasionally costly stuffs, and tissues of exceeding
richness, such as cloth of gold, velvets of Genoa, arras tapestry, and
even pictures which might have hung in churches. These commodities were
invariably landed at St. Jerome's Bay before the Olive Branch cast her
anchor in the harbour of St. Mary's, and were reshipped on the outward
voyage. The Cripple of St. Jerome's had a few customers who were
privileged at certain periods to traffic with him in a species of
merchandise of which he was seldom without a supply at his
command--chiefly wines and strong waters, and coarser household goods,
which were charily exhibited in small parcels at the hut, and when the
bargain was made, supplied in greater bulk by unseen hands from secret
magazines, concerning which the customer was not so rash as even to
inquire--for Rob was a man who, the country people most devoutly
believed, had immediate commerce with the Evil One, and who, it was
known, would use his dagger before he gave warning by words.

The open and lawful dealing of the Skipper, in the port of St. Mary's,
had brought him into an acquaintance with most of the inhabitants, and
as his arrival was always a subject of agreeable expectation, he was,
by a natural consequence, looked upon with a friendly regard. His
address, gaiety of demeanour, and fine figure--which last was
studiously set off to great advantage by a rich and graceful
costume--heightened this sentiment of personal favour, and gave him
privileges in the society of the town which, in that age of scrupulous
regard to rank, would have been denied him if he had been a constant
sojourner. Emboldened by this reception he had essayed to offer some
gallant civilities to the maiden of the Rose Croft, which were
instantly repelled, however, by the most formal coldness. The Skipper
was not so practised an observer as to perceive in this repugnance, the
actual aversion which the maiden felt against his advances to
acquaintance; and he was content to account it a merely girlish reserve
which importunity and assiduous devotion might overcome. His vanity
suggested the resolve to conquer the damsel's indifference; and as that
thought grew upon his fancy, it, by degrees, ripened into a settled
purpose, which in the end completely engrossed his mind. As he brooded
over the subject, and permitted his imagination to linger around that
form of beauty and loveliness,--cherished as it was, during the long
weeks of his lonely tracking of the sea, and in the solitary musings
and silent night-watches of his deck,--a romantic ardour was kindled in
his breast, and he hastened back to the Port of St. Mary's, strangely
wrought upon by new impulses, which seemed to have humanized and
mellowed even his rude nature: the shrewder observers were aware of
more gentleness in his bearing, though they found him more wayward in
his temper;--he was prouder of heart, yet with humbler speech, and
often more stern than before. The awakening of a new passion had
overmastered both the ferocity and the levity of his character. He was,
in truth, the undivulged, anxious, and almost worshipping lover of
Blanche Warden.

When such a nature as I have described chances to fall into the loving
vein, it will be admitted to be a somewhat fearful category both for
the lady and the lover's rival. Such men are not apt to mince matters
in the course of their wooing.

This was the person who now plied his way towards the port, in solitary
rumination over two distinct topics of private grief, each of a nature
to rouse the angry devil of his bosom. He could not but see that his
first approach towards the favour of his mistress had been promptly
repelled. That alone would have filled his mind with bitterness, and
given a harsh complexion to his thoughts;--but this cause of complaint
was almost stifled by the more engrossing sentiment of hostility
against the Secretary. That he should have been rebuked for his
behaviour, by a man,--and a man, too, who evidently stood well with the
lady of his love; taken to task and chid in the very presence of his
mistress,--was an offence that called immediately to his manhood and
demanded redress. Such redress was more to his hand than the nicer
subtleties of weighing the maiden's displeasure, and he turned to it
with a natural alacrity, as to a comfort in his perplexity. It is the
instinct of a rude nature to refer all cases of wounded sensibility to
the relief of battle. A rejected lover, like a child who has lost a
toy, finds consolation in his distress by fighting any one that he can
persuade himself has stood in his way, and he is made happy when there
chances to be some plausible ground for such a proceeding. The Skipper
thought the subject over in every aspect which his offended pride could
fancy. At one moment the idea of quarrel with the Secretary pleased
him, and almost reconciled him to the maiden's coldness; at the next he
doubted whether, after all, she had in fact designed to repel his
friendship. He vibrated between these considerations for a space in
silence: his pride quelled the expression of his anger. But by degrees
his quickened pace and sturdier step, and, now and then, that slight
shake of the head by which men sometimes express determination, made it
plain that the fiery element in his bosom was rising in tumult. At
length, unable to suppress his feeling, the inward commotion found
utterance in words.

"Who and what is this Master Secretary that hath set the maiden of the
Rose Croft to look upon me with an evil spirit? I would fain know if he
think himself a properer man than I. Doth he stand upon his fingering
of a lute, and his skill to dance?--Why even in this chamber-craft I
will put it to a wager he is no master of mine. Is he more personable
in shape or figure?--goes he in better apparel? or is that broken
English of his more natural to the province than my plain speech, that
he should claim the right to chide me for my behaviour? Is it that he
hath a place in the train of his Lordship? Have not I served as near to
a belted knight--lord of a thousand stout hearts and master of a fleet
of thirty sail?--ay, and in straits where you should as soon expect to
meet a hare as that crotchet-monger. A bookish clerk with no manly
calling that should soil his ruff in the space of a moon! By Saint
Iago, but I will put him to his books to learn how he shall heal the
stroke of a choleric hand, when the time shall serve to give him the
taste of it!--Mistress Blanche would not be importuned--indeed! And he
must be my tutor to teach me what pleaseth Mistress Blanche. He
lied--the maiden did not mislike my question;--she but hung her head to
have it so openly spoken. I know she doth not set at naught my favours,
but as damsels from custom do a too public tender of a token. Old
Anthony Warden counts his friends by their manhood, and he hath shown
me grace:--his daughter in the end will follow his likings--and as the
father's choice approves, so will hers incline. Am I less worthy in old
Master Warden's eyes, than yonder parchment bearer--that pen-and-ink
slave of his Lordship's occasions?--he that durst not raise his eye
above his Lord's shoe, nor speak out of a whisper when his betters are
in presence? What is he, to put me from the following of my own will
when it pleases me to speak to any maiden of this province?--I am of
the sea--the broad, deep sea! she hath nursed me in her bosom,--and
hath given me my birth-right to be as proudly borne as the honours of
any lord of the land. I have a brave deck for my foot, a good blade for
my belt, the bountiful ocean before me and a score of merry men at my
back. Are these conditions so mean that I must brook the Secretary's
displeasure or fashion my speech to suit his liking?--We shall
understand each other better, in good time, or I shall lack opportunity
to speak my mind:--I shall, good Master Verheyden,--you have the word
of a 'Brother of the Bloody Coast' for that!"

Before the Skipper had ceased this petulant and resentful
self-communion, he found himself in the neighbourhood of the Catholic
Chapel, nearly in front of the dwelling of father Pierre, when the good
priest, who was at this moment returning from noon-day service, took
him at unawares with the salutation,--

"Peace be with you, son!--you reckon up the sum of your ventures with a
careful brow, and speak loud enough to make the town acquainted with
thy gains, if perchance some of the chapmen with whom thou hast dealing
should be in thy path. How fares it with thee, Master Skipper?"

"Ha, Mi Padre!" exclaimed Cocklescraft, instantly throwing aside his
graver thoughts and assuming a jocular tone. "Well met;--I was on my
way to visit you: that would I have done yesterday upon my arrival, but
that the press of my business would not allow it. You grow old, father,
so evenly that, although I see you but after long partings, I can count
no fresh touch of time upon your head."

"Men of your calling should not flatter," said the priest smiling.
"What news do you bring us from the old world?"

"Oh, much and merry, father Pierre. The old world plies her old trade
and thrives by it. Knavery hath got somewhat of the upper hand since
they have quit crossing swords in this new piece of Nimeguen. The Hogan
Mogans are looking a little surly at the Frenchman for cocking his
beaver so bravely; and our jobbernowl English, now that they can find
no more reason to throttle each other, have gone back to their old
sport of pricking the side of our poor church. You shall find as many
plots in London, made out of hand and ready for use in one month, as
would serve all the stage plays of the kingdom for the next hundred
years--and every plot shall have a vile Papist at the bottom of it,--if
you may believe Oates and Bedloe. I was there when my Lord Stafford was
made a head shorter on Tower Hill. You heard of this,--father?"

"Alack! in sorrow we heard of this violence," replied the priest, "and
deeply did it grieve my Lord to lose so good a friend. Even as you have
found it in England, so is it here. The discontents against the holy
church are nursed by many who seek thereby to command the province. We
have plotters here who do not scruple to contrive against the life of
his Lordship and his Lordship's brother the Chancellor. Besides, the
government at home is unfriendly to us."

"You have late news from England?" inquired the Skipper.

"We have,--and which, but that you are true in your creed, I might
scarce mention to your ear--the royal order has come to my Lord to
dismiss his Catholic servants from office--every one. His Lordship
scruples to obey. This, Master Skipper, I confide to you in private, as
not to be told again."

"To remove all!" said Cocklescraft. "Why it will sweep off his nearest
friends--Anthony Warden and all."

"Even so."

"There is fighting matter in that, upon the spot," exclaimed the
Skipper. "By St. Sebastian, I hope it may come up while I am in port!
The Collector, old as he is, will buckle on his toledo in that quarrel.
He has mettle for it; and I could wish no better play than to stand by
his side. Who is this Secretary of my Lord's private chamber? I met him
at the Collector's to-day."

"Master Albert Verheyden," replied the priest.

"I know his name--they told it to me there--but his quality and
condition, father?"

"You may be proud of his fellowship," said father Pierre; "he was once
a scholar of the Jesuit school at Antwerp, of the class inscribed
'Princeps Diligentiæ,' and brought thence by my Lord. A youth, Master
Cocklescraft, of promise and discretion--a model to such as would learn
good manners and cherish virtuous inclinations. You may scarcely fail
to see him at the Collector's: the townspeople do say he has an eye
somewhat dazzled there."

"Craving pardon for my freedom, I say, father Pierre, a fig's end for
such a model!" exclaimed the Skipper, pettishly: "you may have such by
the score, wherever lazy, bookish men eat their bread. I like him not,
with his laced band and feather, his book and lute: harquebuss and
whinyard are the tools for these days. I hear the Fendalls have been at
mischief again. We shall come to bilbo and buff before long. Your
Secretary will do marvellous service in these straits, father."

"Son, you are somewhat sinful in your scorn," said the priest, mildly;
"the Secretary doth not deserve this taunt----"

"By the holy hermits, father, I speak of the Secretary but as I think.
He does not awe me with his greatness. I vail no topsail to him, I give
you my word for it."

"The saints preserve us from harm!" said the churchman. "We know not
what may befall us from the might of our enemies, when this hot blood
shall sunder our friends. In sober counsel, son, and not in rash
divisions shall we find our safety. It doth not become thee, Master
Cocklescraft, to let thy tetchy humour rouse thee against the
Secretary. It might warrant my displeasure."

"Mea culpa, holy father--I do confess my fault," said the seaman, in a
tone of assumed self-constraint--"I will not again offend; and for my
present atonement will offer a censer of pure silver, which in my
travels I picked up, and in truth did then design to give, to the
Chapel of St. Mary's. I will bring it to the chapel, father Pierre, as
soon as my vessel is unladen."

"You should offer up your anger too, to make this gift acceptable,"
returned the priest. "Let thy dedication be with a cleansed heart."

"Ha, father Pierre," said the Skipper, jocularly; "my conscience does
easily cast off a burden: so it shall be as you command. I did not tell
you that whilst my brigantine lay in the Helder, I made a land flight
to Louvaine, where a certain Abbot of Andoyne,--a pious, somewhat aged,
and, thanks to a wholesome refectory! a good jolly priest,--hearing I
came from the province, must needs send for me to ask if I knew father
Pierre de la Maise, and upon my answer, that I did right well, he begs
me to bring his remembrance back to you."

"I knew father Gervase," replied the priest with a countenance full of
benignity--"some forty years ago, when he was a reader in the Chair of
St. Isidore at Rome. He remembers me?--a blessing on his head!--and he
wears well, Master Skipper?"

"Quite as well as yourself," replied Cocklescraft. "Father, a cup of
your cool water, and I will depart," he said, as he helped himself to
the draught. "I will take heed to what you have said touching the royal
order--and by St. Iago, I will be a friend in need to the Collector.
Master Verheyden shall not be a better one. Now fare thee well, father.
Peregrine Cadger shall have order to cut you off a cassock from the
best cloth I have brought him, and little Abbot the tailor shall put it
in fashion for you."

"You are lavish of your bounties, son," replied the priest, taking
Cocklescraft by both hands as he was now about to withdraw. "You have a
poor churchman's thanks. It gives me comfort to be so considered, and I
prize your kindness more than the cassock. A blessing on thy ways,
Master Cocklescraft!"

The Skipper once more set forth on his way towards the port; and with a
temper somewhat allayed by the acting of the scene I have just
described, though with no abatement of the resentment which rankled at
the bottom of his heart, even under the smiling face and gay outside
which he could assume with the skill of a consummate dissembler, he
soon reached the Crow and Archer. From thence he meditated, as soon as
his occasions would permit, a visit to the Cripple of St. Jerome's.



CHAPTER XVI.

    "Who be these, sir?"
    "Fellows to mount a bank. Did your instructer
    In the dear tongues never discourse to you
    Of the Italian mountebanks?"
    "Yes, sir."
    "Why here you shall see one."
                    "They are quacksalvers,
    Fellows that live by venting oils and drugs."

    VOLPONE.


The council had been summoned to meet on the morning following that of
the incidents related in the last chapter, and the members were now
accordingly assembling, soon after breakfast, at the Proprietary
mansion. The arrival of one or two gentlemen on horseback with their
servants, added somewhat to the bustle of the stable yard, which was
already the scene of that kind of busy idleness and lounging occupation
so agreeable to the menials of a large establishment. Here, in one
quarter, a few noisy grooms were collected around the watering troughs,
administering the discipline of the curry-comb or the wash bucket to
some half score of horses. In a corner of the yard Dick Pagan the
courier and Willy o' the Flats, with the zeal of amateur vagrants, were
striving to cozen each other out of their coppers at the old game of
Cross and Pile; whilst, in an opposite direction, Derrick was
exhibiting to a group of spectators, amongst whom the young heir
apparent was a prominent personage, a new set of hawk bells just
brought by the Olive Branch from Dort, and lecturing, with a learned
gravity, upon their qualities, to the infinite edification and delight
of his youthful pupil. Slouching fox hounds, thick-lipped mastiffs and
wire-haired terriers mingled indiscriminately amongst these groups, as
if confident of that favouritism which is the universal privilege of
the canine race amongst good tempered persons and contented idlers all
the world over. Whilst the inhabitants of the yard were engrossed with
these occupations, a trumpet was heard at a distance in the direction
of the town. The blast came so feebly upon the ear as, at first, to
pass unregarded, but being repeated at short intervals, and at every
repetition growing louder, it soon arrested the general attention, and
caused an inquiry from all quarters into the meaning of so unusual an
incident.

"Fore God, I think that there be an alarm of Indians in the town!"
exclaimed the falconer as he spread his hand behind his ear and
listened for some moments, with a solemn and portentous visage. "Look
to it, lads--there may be harm afoot. Put up thy halfpence, Dick Pagan,
and run forward to seek out the cause of this trumpeting. I will wager
it means mischief, masters."

"Indians!" said Willy; "Derrick's five wits have gone on a fool's
errand ever since the murder of that family at the Zachaiah fort by the
salvages. If the Indians were coming you should hear three guns from
Master Randolph Brandt's look-out on the Notley road. It is more likely
there may be trouble at the gaol with the townspeople, for there was a
whisper afloat yesterday concerning a rescue of the prisoners. Troth,
the fellow has a lusty breath who blows that trumpet!"

"Ay, and the trumpet," said Derrick, "is not made to dance with,
masters: there is war and throat-cutting in it, or I am no true man."

During this short exchange of conjectures, Dick Pagan had hastened to
the gate which opened towards the town, and mounting the post, for the
sake of a more extensive view, soon discerned the object of alarm,
when, turning towards his companions, he shouted,

"Wounds,--but here's a sight! Pike and musket, belt and saddle, boys!
To it quickly;--you shall have rare work anon. Wake up the ban dogs of
the fort and get into your harness. Here comes the Dutch Doctor with
his trumpeter as fierce as the Dragon of Wantley. Buckle to and stand
your ground!"

"Ho, ho!" roared the fiddler with an impudent, swaggering laugh.
"Here's a pretty upshot to your valours! Much cry and little wool, like
the Devil's hog-shearing at Christmas. You dullards, couldn't I have
told you it was the Dutch Doctor,--if your fright had left you but a
handful of sense to ask a question? Didn't I see both him and his
trumpeter last night at the Crow and Archer, with all their jin-gumbobs
in a pair of panniers? Oh, but he is a rare Doctor, and makes such
cures, I warrant you, as have never been seen, known or heard of since
the days of St. Byno, who built up his own serving man again, sound as
a pipkin, after the wild beasts had him for supper."

The trumpet now sent forth a blast which terminated in a long flourish,
indicating the approach of the party to the verge within which it might
not be allowable to continue such a clamour; and in a few moments
afterwards the Doctor with his attendant entered the stable yard. He
was a little, sharp-featured, portly man, of a brown, dry complexion,
in white periwig, cream-coloured coat, and scarlet small clothes: of a
brisk gait, and consequential air, which was heightened by the pompous
gesture with which he swayed a gold-mounted cane full as tall as
himself. His attendant, a bluff, burly, red-eyed man, with a singularly
stolid countenance, tricked out in a grotesque costume, of which a
short cloak, steeple-crowned hat and feather, and enormous nether
garments, all of striking colours, were the most notable components,
bore a brass trumpet suspended on one side, and a box of no
inconsiderable dimensions in front of his person; and thus furnished,
followed close at the heels of the important individual whose coming
had been so authentically announced.

No sooner had the Doctor got fairly within the gate than he was met by
Derrick Brown, who, being the most authoritative personage in the yard,
took upon himself the office of giving the stranger welcome.

"Frents, how do you do?" was the Doctor's accost in a strong, Low Dutch
method of pronouncing English. "I pelieve dis is not de gate I should
have entered to see his Lordship de Lord Proprietary," he added,
looking about him with some surprise to find where he was.

"If it was my Lord you came to see," said the falconer, "you should
have turned to your right, and gone by the road which leads to the
front of the house. But the way you have come is no whit the longer: we
can take you through, Master Doctor, by the back door."

"Vell, vell, dere is noding lost by peing acquainted at once wid de
people of de house," replied the man of medicine; "dere is luck to make
your first entrance by de pack door, as de old saying is. I vas
summoned dis morning to appear before de council, py my Lord's order;
and so, I thought I might trive a little pusiness, at de same time, wid
de family."

"I told you all," said Willy, with an air of self-importance at his own
penetration, "that this was a rare doctor. The council hath sent for
him! my Lord hath made it a state matter to see him. It isn't every
doctor that comes before the worshipful council, I trow. Give him
welcome, boys, doff your beavers."

At this command several of the domestics touched their hats, with a
gesture partly in earnest and partly in sport, as if expecting some
diversion to follow.

"No capping to me, my frents!" exclaimed the Doctor, with a bow,
greatly pleased at these tokens of respect; "no capping to me! Pusiness
is pusiness, and ven I come to sell you tings dat shall do you goot, I
tank you for your custom and your money, widout asking you to touch
your cap."

"There is sense in that," said John Alward; "and since you come to
trade in the yard, Doctor, you can show us your wares. There is a penny
to be picked up here."

"Open your box, Doctor; bring out your pennyworths; show us the
inside!" demanded several voices at once.

"Ha, ha!" exclaimed the vender of drugs, "you are wise, goot frents;
you know somewhat! You would have a peep at my aurum potabiles in dat
little casket--my multum in parvo? Yes, you shall see, and you shall
hear what you have never seen pefore, and shall not in your long lives
again."

"Have you e'er a good cleansing purge for a moulting hawk?" inquired
Derrick Brown, whilst the doctor was unlocking the box.

"Or a nostrum that shall be sure work on a horse with a farcy?" asked
one of the grooms.

"Hast thou an elixir that shall expel a lumbago?" demanded John Alward:
all three speaking at the same instant.

"Tib, the cook," said a fourth, "has been so sore beset with cramps,
that only this morning she was saying, in her heart she believed she
would not stop to give the paste buckle that Tom Oxcart gave her for a
token at Whitsuntide, for a cordial that would touch a cold stomach. I
will persuade her into a trade with the Doctor."

"Oh, as for the women," replied a fifth, "there isn't a wench in my
Lord's service that hasn't a bad tooth, or a cold stomach, or a
tingling in the ears, or some such ailing: it is their nature--they
would swallow the Doctor's pack in a week, if they had license."

The man of nostrums was too much employed in opening out his
commodities to heed the volley of questions which were poured upon him
all round, but having now put himself in position for action, he
addressed himself to his auditors:

"I vill answer all your questions in goot time; but I must crave your
leave, frents, to pegin in de order of my pusiness. Dobel," he said,
turning to his attendant, who stood some paces in the rear, "come
forward and pegin."

The adjutant at this command stepped into the middle of the ring, and
after making several strange grimaces, of which at first view his
countenance would have been deemed altogether incapable, and bowing in
three distinct quarters to the company, commenced the following speech:

"Goot beoplish!"--this was accompanied with a comic leer that set the
whole yard in a roar--"dish ish de drice renowned und ingomprbl Doctor
Closh Tebor"--another grimace, and another volley of laughter--"what
ish de grand pheseeshan of de greate gofernor of New York, Antony
Prockolls, und lives in Alpany in de gofernor's own pallash, wid doo
tousand guilders allowed him py de gofernor everich yeere, und a goach
to rite, und a pody-cart to go pefore him in de sthreets ven he valks
to take de air. All tish to keepe de gofernor und his vrouw de Laty
Katerina Prockholls in goot healf--noding else--on mein onor." This was
said with great emphasis, the speaker laying his hand on his heart and
making a bow, accompanied with a still more ludicrous grimace than any
he had yet exhibited, which brought forth a still louder peal from his
auditory.

He was about to proceed with his commendatory harangue, when he was
interrupted by Benedict Leonard. It seems that upon the first
announcement by the Doctor of the purport of his visit, the youth,
fearful lest his mother, who was constitutionally subject to alarm,
might have been disturbed by the trumpet, ran off to apprise her of
what he had just witnessed; and giving her the full advantage of
Willy's exaggerated estimate of the travelling healer of disease,
returned, by the lady's command, to conduct this worthy into her
presence. He accordingly now delivered his message, and forthwith
master and man moved towards the mansion, with the whole troop of the
stable yard at their heels.

The itinerant was introduced into Lady Baltimore's presence in a small
parlour, where she was attended by two little girls, her only children
beside the boy we have noticed, and the sister of the Proprietary. Her
pale and emaciated frame and care-worn visage disclosed to the
practised glance of the visiter a facile subject for his delusive
art,--a ready votary of that credulous experimentalism which has filled
the world with victims to medical imposture. In the professor of
medicine's reverence to the persons before him there was an
overstrained obsequiousness, but, at the same time, an expression of
imperturbable confidence fully according with the ostentatious
pretension which marked his demeanour amongst the menials of the
household. Notwithstanding his broad accent, he spoke with a ready
fluency that showed him well skilled in that voluble art by which, at
that day, the workers of wonderful cures and the possessors of
infallible elixirs advertised the astonishing virtues of their
compounds--an art which has in our time only changed its manner of
utterance, and now announces its ridiculous pretensions in every
newspaper of every part of our land, in whole columns of mountebank
lies and quack puffery.

"This is the great Doctor," said Benedict Leonard, who now acted as
gentleman usher, "and he has come I can't tell how far, to see who was
ailing in our parts. I just whispered to him, dear mother, what a
famous good friend you were to all sorts of new cures. And oh, it would
do you good to see what a box of crankums he has in the hall! Yes, and
a man to carry it, with a trumpet! Blowing and physicking a plenty now,
to them that like it! How the man bears such a load, I can't guess."

"Dobel has a strong back and a steady mule for his occasions, my pretty
poy," said the Doctor, patting the heir apparent on the head, with a
fondness of manner that sensibly flattered the mother. "When we would
do goot, master, we must not heed de trouble to seek dem dat stand in
need of our ministrations over de world."

The lady's feeble countenance lit up with a sickly smile as she
remonstrated with the boy. "Bridle thy tongue, Benedict, nor suffer it
to run so nimbly. We have heard, Doctor, something of your fame, and
gladly give you welcome."

"Noble lady," replied the pharmacopolist, "I am but a simple and poor
Doctor, wid such little fame as it has pleased Got to pestow for mine
enteavours to miticate de distemperatures and maladies and infirmities
which de fall of man, in de days of Adam, de august progenitor of de
human races, has prought upon all his children. And de great happiness
I have had to make many most wonderful cures in de provinces of
America, made me more pold to hope I might pring some assuagement and
relief to your ladyship, who, I have peen told, has peen grievously
tormented wid perturbations and melancholics; a very common affection
wid honourable ladies."

"Alack, Doctor, my affections come from causes which are beyond the
reach of your art," said the lady with a sigh. "Still, it would please
me to hear the cures you speak of. You have, doubtless, had great
experience?"

"You shall hear, my lady. I am not one of dat rabble of pretenders what
travel apout de world to cry up and magnify dere own praises. De Hemel
is mij getuige,--Heaven is my chudge, and your ladyship's far renowned
excellent wisdom forbids dat you should be imposed upon by dese cheats
and impostors denominated--and most justly, on my wort!--charlatans and
empirical scaramouches. De veritable merit in dis world is humble, my
lady. I creep rader in de dust, dan soar in de clouts:--it is in my
nature. Oders shall speak for me--not myself."

"But you have seen the world, Doctor, and studied, and served in good
families?"

"Your ladyship has great penetration. I have always lived in friendship
wid worshipful peoples. De honourable Captain General Anthony
Brockholls, de governor of de great province of New York,--hah! dere
was nopody could please him but Doctor Debor. Night and day, my lady,
for two years, have I peen physicking his excellency and all his
family:--de governor is subject to de malady of a pad digestion and
crudities which gives him troublesome dreams. I have studied in de
school of Leyden--dree courses, until I could find no more to learn;
and den I have travelled in France, Germany, and Italy, where I took a
seat in de great University of Padua, for de penefit of de lectures of
dat very famous doctor, Veslingius, de prefect, your ladyship shall
understand, and professor of botany, a most rare herbalist. And dere
also I much increased and enriched my learning under de wing of dat
astonishing man, de grave and profound Doctor Athelsteinus Leonenas, de
expounder of de great secrets of de veins and nerves. You shall chudge,
honourable ladies, what was my merit, when I tell you de University
would make me Syndicus Artistarum, only dat I refused so great honour,
pecause I would not make de envy of my compeers. Did I not say true
when I tell you it is not my nature to soar in de clouts?"

"Truly the Doctor hath greatly slighted his fame," said the Lady Maria
apart to her kinswoman. "I would fain know what you have in your pack."

"Worshipful madam, you shall soon see," replied the Doctor, who now
ordered Dobel, his man, into the room. "Here," he said, as he pointed
to the different parcels, "are balsamums, panaceas, and elixirs. Dis is
a most noted alexipharmacum against quartan agues, composed of many
roots, herps and spices; dis I call de lampas vitæ, an astonishing
exhilirator and promoter of de goot humours of de mind, and most
valuable for de rare gift of clear sight to de old, wid many oder
virtues I will not stop to mention. Dese are confections, electuaries,
sirups, conserves, ointments, odoraments, cerates, and gargarisms, for
de skin, for de stomach, for de pruises and wounds, for de troat, and
every ting pesides. Ah! here, my lady, is de great lapour of my life,
de felicity and royal reward--as I may say--of all my studies: it is de
most renowned and admired and never-to-be-estimated Medicamentum
Promethei, which has done more penefactions dan all de oder simples and
compounds in de whole pharmacopeia of medicine. Your ladyship shall
take but one half of dis little phial, when you will say more for its
praise dan I could speak widout peing accounted a most windy,
hyperbolical and monstrous poaster--ha, waarachtig! I will speak
noting. Dat wise and sagacious and sapient man, de great governor and
captain, Antony Brockholls, has given me in my hand so much as five
ducatoons,--yes, my lady, five ducatoons for dat little glass, two
hours after a dinner of cold endives--Ik spreek a waarachtiglik--I
speak you truly, my lady: and now I give it away for de goot of de
world and mine own glory, at no more dan one rix dollar,--five
shillings. I do not soar in de clouts?"

"Can you describe its virtues, Doctor?" inquired the lady.

"Mine honoured madam, dey are apundant, and I shall not lie if I say
countless and widout number. First, it is a great enemy to plack
choler, and to all de affections of de spleen, giving sweet sleep to de
eyelids dat have peen kept open py de cares and sufferings and
anxieties of de world. It will dispel de charms of witchcraft, magic
and sorcery, and turn away de stroke of de evil eye. It corroborates de
stomach py driving off de sour humours of de pylorus, and cleansing de
diaphram from de oppilations which fill up and torpefy de pipes of de
nerves. And your ladyship shall observe dat, as nature has supplied and
adapted particular plants and herps to de maladies of de several parts
of de animal pody, as,--not to be tedious,--aniseeds and calamint for
de head, hysop and liquorice for de lungs, borage for de heart, betony
for de spleen, and so on wid de whole pody--dis wonderful medicament
contains and possesses in itself someting of all, being de great
remedy, antidote and expeller of all diseases, such as vertigine,
falling sickness, cramps, catalepsies, lumbagos, rheums, inspissations,
agitations, hypocondrics, and tremorcordies, whedder dey come of de
head, de heart, de liver, de vena cava, de mesentery or de pericardium,
making no difference if dey be hot or cold, dry or moist, or proceeding
from terrestrial or genethliacal influences, evil genitures, or vicious
aspects of de stars--it is no matter--dey all vanish pefore de great
medicamentum. You must know, my lady, dis precious mixture was de great
secret--de arcanum mirificabile--of dat wonderful Arabian physician
Hamech, which Paracelsus went mad wid cudgelling his prains to find
out; and Avicenna and Galen and Trismegistus and Moderatus Columella
all proke down in deir search to discover de meaning of de learned
worts in which Hamech wrote de signification. De great Swammerdam,
hoch! what would he not give Doctor Debor for dat secret! I got it, my
lady, from a learned Egyptian doctor, who took it from an eremite of
Arabia Felix. It was not my merit, so much as my goot fortune. I am
humble, my lady, and do not poast, but speak op't woord van een eerlyk
man."

"He discourses beyond our depth," said Lady Baltimore, greatly puzzled
to keep pace with the learned pretensions of the quack; "and yet I dare
say there is virtue in these medicines. What call you your great
compound, Doctor? I have forgotten its name."

"De Medicamentum Promethei," replied the owner of this wonderful
treasure, pleased with the interest taken in his discourse. "Your
ladyship will comprehend from your reading learned pooks, dat
Prometheus was a great headen god, what stole de fire from Heaven,
whereby he was able to vivicate and reluminate de decayed and worn-out
podies of de human families, and in a manner even to give life to de
images of clay; which is all, as your good ladyship discerns, a
fabulous narration, or pregnant fable, as de scholars insinuate. And
moreover, de poets and philosophers say dat same headen god was very
learned in de knowledge of de virtues of plants and herps, which your
ladyship will remark is de very consistence and identification of de
noble art of pharmacy. Well den, dis Prometheus, my lady--ha, ha!--was
some little bit of a juggler, and was very fond of playing his
legerdemains wid de gods, till one day de great Jupiter, peing angry
wid his jocularities and his tricks, caused him to be chained to a
rock, wid a hungry vulture always gnawing his liver; and dere he was in
dis great misery, till his pody pined away so small dat his chain would
not hold him, and den, aha! he showed Jupiter a goot pair of heels,
like an honest fellow, and set apout to find de medicines what should
renovate and patch up his liver, which you may be sure he did, my lady,
in a very little while. Dis again is anoder fable, to signify dat he
was troubled wid a great sickness in dat part of his pody. Now, my
lady, see how well de name significates de great virtues of my
medicament, which, in de first place, is a miraculous restorer of
health and vigour and life to de feeble spirits of de pody: dere's de
fire. Second, it is composed of more dan one hundred plants, roots, and
seeds, most delicately distilled, sublimed and suffumigated in a
limbeck of pure virgin silver, and according to de most subtle
projections of alchemy: and dere your ladyship shall see de knowledge
of de virtues of plants and de most consummate art of de concoctions.
And now for de last significance of de fable: dis medicament is a
specific of de highest exaltation for de cure, which never fails, of
all distemperatures of de liver; not to say dat it is less potent to
overcome and destroy all de oder diseases I have mentioned, and many
more. Dere you see de whole Medicamentum Promethei, which I sell to
worshipful peoples for one rix dollar de phial. Is it not well named,
my lady, and superlative cheap? I give it away: de projection alone
costs me more dan I ask for de compound."

"The name is curiously made out," said the lady, "and worthily, if the
virtue of the compound answer the description. But your cures, you have
not yet touched upon them. I long to hear what notable feats you have
accomplished in that sort."

"My man Dobel shall speak," replied the professor. "De great Heaven
forpid I should pe a poaster to de ears of such honourable ladies!
Dobel, rehearse de great penefaction of de medicament upon de excellent
and discreet and virtuous vrouw of Governor Brockholls--Spreek op eene
verstaanbare wijze!"

"Hier ben ik," answered Dobel to this summons, stepping at the same
time into the middle of the room and erecting his person as stiffly as
a grenadier on parade: "Goot beoplish! dish ish de drice renowned und
ingomprbl Doctor Closh Tebor----"

"Stop, stop, hou stil! halt--volslagen gek!" exclaimed the Doctor,
horrified at the nature of the harangue his stupid servitor had
commenced, and which for a moment threatened to continue, in spite of
the violent remonstrance of the master, Dobel persevering like a thing
spoken from rather than a thing that speaks--"Fool, jack-pudding! you
pelieve yourself on a bank, up on a stage, before de rabble rout? You
would disgrace me before honourable and noble ladies, wid your tavern
howlings, and your parkings and your pellowings! Out of de door,
pegone!"

The imperturbable and stolid trumpeter, having thus unfortunately
incurred his patron's ire, slunk from the parlour, utterly at a loss to
comprehend wherein he had offended. The Doctor in the mean while,
overwhelmed with confusion and mortified vanity, bustled towards the
door and there continued to vent imprecations upon the unconscious
Dobel, which, as they were uttered in Low Dutch, were altogether
incomprehensible to the company, but at the same time were sufficiently
ludicrous to produce a hearty laugh from the Lady Maria, and even to
excite a partial show of merriment in her companion. Fortunately for
the Doctor, in the midst of his embarrassment, a messenger arrived to
inform him that his presence was required before the council, in
another part of the house, which order, although it deprived the ladies
of the present opportunity of learning the great efficacy of the
Medicamentum Promethei in the case of the wife of Governor Brockholls,
gave the Doctor a chance of recovering his self-possession by a retreat
from the apartment. So, after an earnest entreaty to be forgiven for
the inexpert address of his man, and a promise to resume his discourse
on a future occasion, he betook himself, under the guidance of the
messenger, to the chamber in which the council were convened.

Here sat the Proprietary, and Philip Calvert, the Chancellor, who were
now, with five or six other gentlemen, engaged in the transaction of
business of grave import.

Some depredations had been recently committed upon the English by the
Indians inhabiting the upper regions of the Susquehanna,--especially by
the Sinniquoes, who, in an incursion against the Piscattaways, a
friendly tribe in the vicinity of St. Mary's, had advanced into the low
country, where they had plundered the dwellings of the settlers and
even murdered two or three families. The victims of these outrages
happened to be Protestants, and Fendall's party availed themselves of
the circumstance, to excite the popular jealousy against Lord Baltimore
by circulating the report that these murders were committed by Papists
in disguise.

What was therefore but an ordinary though frightful incident of Indian
hostility, was thus exaggerated into a crime of deep malignity,
peculiarly calculated still more to embitter the party exasperations of
the day. This consideration rendered it a subject of eager anxiety, on
the part of the Council, to procure the fullest evidence of the hostile
designs of the Indians, and thus not only to enable the province to
adopt the proper measure for its own safety, but also confute the false
report which had imputed to the Catholics so absurd and atrocious a
design. A traveller by the name of Launcelot Sakel happened, but two or
three days before the present meeting of the Council, to arrive at the
port, where he put afloat the story of an intended invasion of the
province by certain Indians of New York, belonging to the tribes of the
Five Nations, and gave as his authority for this piece of news a Dutch
doctor, whom he had fallen in with on the Delaware, where he left him
selling nostrums, and who, he affirmed, was in a short space to appear
at St. Mary's. This story, with many particulars, was communicated to
the Proprietary, which induced the order to summon the Doctor to attend
the council as soon after his arrival as possible. In obedience to this
summons, our worthy was now in the presence of the high powers of the
province, not a little elated with the personal consequence attached to
his coming, as well as the very favourable reception he had obtained
from the ladies of the household. This consequence was even enhanced by
the suite of inquisitive domestics, who followed, at a respectful
distance, his movement towards the council chamber, and who, even
there, though not venturing to enter, were gathered into a group which
from the outside of the door commanded a view of the party within: in
the midst of these Willy of the Flats was by no means an unconspicuous
personage.

Lord Baltimore received the itinerant physician with that bland and
benignant accost which was habitual to him, and proceeded with brief
ceremony to interrogate him as to the purport of his visit. The answers
were given with a solemn self-complacency, not unmixed with that
shrewdness which was an essential attribute to the success of the
ancient quacksalver. He described himself as Doctor Claus Debor, a
native of Holland, a man of travel, enjoying no mean renown in New
York, and, for two years past, a resident of Albany. His chief design
in his present journey, he represented to be to disseminate the
blessings of his great medicament; whereupon he was about to launch
forth into an exuberant tone of panegyric, and had, in fact, already
produced a smile at the council board by some high wrought phrases
expressive of his incredible labour in the quest of his great secret,
when the Proprietary checked his career by a timely admonition.

"Ay, we do not seek to know thy merits as a physician, nor doubt the
great virtue of thy drugs, worthy Doctor; but in regard thereto, give
thee free permission to make what profit of them you reasonably may in
the province. Still, touching this license, I must entreat you, in
consideration that my Lady Baltimore has weak nerves, and cannot endure
rude noises, to refrain from blowing thy trumpet within hearing of this
mansion: besides, our people," he added, looking archly towards the
group of domestics, some of whom had now edged into the apartment, "are
somewhat faint-hearted at such martial sounds."

"By my troth!" said Willy, in a half whisper to his companions in the
entry; "my Lord hath put it to him for want of manners!--I thought as
much would come from his tantararas. Listen, you shall hear more anon.
Whist!--the Doctor puts on a face--and will have his say, in turn."

"Your very goot and admirable Lordship, mistranslates de significance
of my visit," said the Doctor, in his ambitious phrase; "for although I
most heartily tank your Lordship's bounty for de permission to sell my
inestimable medicament, and which--Got geve het--I do hope shall much
advantage my lady wid her weak nerfs and her ailments,--still, I come
to opey your most honourable Lordship's summons, which I make pold to
pelieve is concerned wid state matters pefore de high and noble
council."

"Well, and bravely spoken," said Willy; "and with a good face!--the
Doctor holds his own, masters."

"We would hear what you can tell touching a rumour brought to us by one
Master Launcelot Sakel, whom you saw at Christina Fort," said the
Proprietary.

"There is the point of the matter," whispered Willy, "all in an egg
shell."

"Dere is weighty news, my Lord," replied the Doctor. "I have goot
reason to pelieve dat de Nordern Indians of New York are meditating and
concocting mischief against your Lordship's province."

"Have a care to the truth of your report," said Colonel Talbot, rising
from his seat: "it may be worse for you if you be found to trifle with
us by passing current a counterfeit story, churned into consistence in
your own brain, out of the froth of idle, way-side gossipings. We have
a statute against the spreaders of false news."

"Heigh, heigh!--listen to that," said Willy, nudging one of the crowd
over whose shoulders he was peering into the room. "There's an outcome
with a witness!--there's a flanconade that shall make the Doctor
flutter!"

"If I am mendacious," replied the Doctor, "dat is, if I am forgetful of
mine respect for trute, dese honourable gentlemens shall teal wid me as
a lying pusy pody and pragmatical tale-bearer. Your Lordship shall
hear. It is put a fortnight ago, when I was making ready for dis
journey, in Alpany, I chanced to see in de town so many as two score,
perhaps fifty Indians, who were dere trading skins for powder and shot.
Dey reported demselves to be Sinniquoes, and said dey came to talk wid
de tribes furder back, to get deir help to fight against de
Piscattaways."

"Indeed!--there is probability in that report," said the Proprietary:
"well, and how had they sped? what was their success?"

"Some of de Five Nations,--I forget de name of de tribe, my Lord--it
might pe de Oneidas--dey told us, promised to march early de next
season;--in dere own worts, when de sap pegin to rise."

"In what force, did they say?"

"In large force, my Lord. De Piscattaways, dey said, were frents to my
Lord and de English,--and so dey should make clean work wid red and
white."

"What more?"

"Dey signified dat dey should have great help from de Delawares and
Susquehannocks, who, as I could make it out, wanted to go to war wid
your Lordship's peoples at once."

"True; and they have done so. The insolencies of these tribes are
already as much as we can endure. Did they find it easy to purchase
their powder and lead in Albany? I should hope that traffic would not
be allowed."

"My Lord, de traders do not much stop, when dey would turn a penny, to
reckon who shall get de loss, so dey get de profit. Dese same Indians I
saw afterwards in de town of New York, trading in de same way wid
Master Grimes, a merchant."

"Mischief will come of this," said the Proprietary, "unless it be
speedily taken in hand. What reason was given by the Northern Indians
for joining in this scheme?"

"I tink it was said," replied the Doctor, "dat your Lordship had not
made your treaties wid dem, nor sent dem presents, dese two years
past."

"True," interposed the Chancellor; "we have failed in that
caution--although I have more than once reminded your Lordship of its
necessity."

"It shall not be longer delayed," replied the Proprietary. "You are
sure, Doctor Debor, these were Sinniquoes you saw?"

"I only know dem by dere own report--I never heard de name pefore. My
man Dobel heard dem as well as me; wid your Lordship's permission I
shall ask him," said the Doctor, as he went to the door and directed
some of the domestics to call the man Dobel.

It happened that Dobel, after his disgrace, had kept apart from the
servants of the household, and was now lamenting his misfortune in a
voluntary exile on the green at the front door, where Willy of the
Flats having hastened to seek him, gave him the order to appear before
the council.

"Dobel, you are a made man," he said by way of encouragement; "your
master wants you to speak to their honours: and the honourable council
want to hear you, Dobel; and so does his Lordship. Hold up thy head,
Dobel, and speak for thy manhood--boldly and out, like a buckler man."

"Ya, ya," replied Dobel, whose acquirements in the English tongue were
limited to his professional advertisement of Doctor Debor's fame, and a
few slender fragments of phrases in common use. Thus admonished by
Willy, he proceeded doggedly to the Council Chamber, where as soon as
he entered, the Proprietary made a motion to him with his hand to
approach the table,--which Dobel interpreting into an order to deliver
his sentiments, he forthwith began in a loud voice--

"Goot beoplish! dish is de drice renowned und ingomprbl Doctor----"

Before he had uttered the name, the Doctor's hand was thrust across
Dobel's mouth and a volley of Dutch oaths rapped into his ears, at a
rate which utterly confounded the poor trumpeter, who was forcibly
expelled from the room, almost by a general order. When quiet was
restored,--for it may be imagined the scene was not barren of
laughter,--the Doctor made a thousand apologies for the stupidity of
his servant, and in due time received permission to retire, having
delivered all that he was able to say touching the matter in agitation
before the Proprietary.

The Council were for some time after this incident engaged in the
consideration of the conspiracy against the Proprietary, of which new
evidences were every day coming to light; and it was now resolved that
the matter should be brought into the notice of the judicial authority
at an early day.

The only circumstance which I have further occasion to notice, related
to a diversion which was not unusual at that day amongst the
inhabitants of the province, and which required the permission of the
Council. It was brought into debate by Colonel Talbot.

"Stark Whittle, the swordsman," he said, "has challenged Sergeant
Travers to play a prize at such weapons as they may select--and the
Sergeant accepts the challenge, provided it meet the pleasure of his
Lordship and the Council. I promised to be a patron to the play."

"It shall be as you choose," said the Proprietary. "This martial sport
has won favour with our people. Let it be so ordered that it tend not
to the breach of the peace. We commit it to your hands, Colonel
Talbot." The Council, assented and the necessary order was recorded on
the journal.



CHAPTER XVII.

    Some do call me Jack, sweetheart,
      And some do call me Jille:
    But when I come to the king's faire courte,
      They call me Wilfulle Wille.

    THE KNIGHT AND SHEPHERD'S DAUGHTER.


The Skipper's necessary affairs in the port engaged him all the day
succeeding that of his interview with father Pierre, and therefore
prevented him from making his intended visit to the Cripple of St.
Jerome's. When the next morning broke upon him, the early bell of St.
Mary's Chapel informed him of the Sabbath,--a day seldom distinguished
in his calendar from the rest of the week. It was, however, not
unheeded now, as it suggested the thought that an opportunity might be
afforded him to gain a sight of Blanche Warden--and even, perchance an
interview--at the service of the Chapel. In this hope he at once
relinquished his design of going to St. Jerome's, at least until after
the morning offices of the church were performed. Accordingly, at an
hour somewhat in advance of the general attendance of the congregation,
the Skipper was seen loitering in the purlieus of the Chapel, where he
marked with an inquisitive but cautious watchfulness the various groups
that were coming to their devotions. When at length his strained vision
was able to descry a cavalcade approaching from the direction of St.
Inigoe's, and he discerned the figures of Albert Verheyden and Blanche
Warden dallying far in the rear of the Collector and his daughter
Alice, their horses almost at a walk, and themselves manifestly
engrossed in an earnest conference, he turned hastily towards the
church and with a compressed lip and knitted brow, ascended the stair
and threw himself into an obscure corner of the little gallery which
looked upon the altar. Here he remained a sullen and concealed observer
of the rites of the temple,--his bosom rankling with uncharitable
thoughts, and his countenance clouded with feelings the most ungenial
to the lowly self-abasement and contrition of heart which breathed in
every word of the solemn ritual that addressed his ear.

The Collector's family entered the place of worship. The Secretary
still accompanied Blanche, knelt beside her in prayer, opened her
missal to the various services of the day, and tendered the customary
offices of familiar gallantry common to such an occasion, with an
unrebuked freedom: all this in the view of the Skipper, whose eye
flashed with a vengeful fire, as he gazed upon the man to whom he
attributed the wrong he deemed himself to have suffered in his recent
interview with the maiden. The service ended and the throng was
retiring, when Cocklescraft planted himself on the outside of the door.
His purpose was to exchange even but a word with the daughter of the
Collector--at least to win a recognition of his presence by a smile, a
nod, the smallest courtesy,--so dear to the heart of a lover. She came
at last, loiteringly with father Pierre and Albert Verheyden. Perhaps
she did not see Cocklescraft in the shade of the big elm, even although
her father's weaker sight had recognised him, and the old man had
stepped aside to shake his hand. She passed on to her horse without
once turning her head towards him. The Skipper abruptly sprang from the
Collector to help her into her saddle, but Blanche had already Albert's
hand, and in a moment was in her seat. Cocklescraft's proffered service
was acknowledged by a bow and only a casual word. The Secretary in an
instant mounted his steed, and, with the maiden, set forth on their
ride at a brisk gallop. The Brother of the Coast forgetful of his usual
circumspection, stood with folded arms and moody visage, looking darkly
upon them as they disappeared, and muttering half-audible ejaculations
of wrath. He was, after an interval, roused from his abstraction by the
hand of father Pierre gently laid upon his shoulder:

"You have forgotten the censer of virgin silver, you promised to offer
at this shrine," said the priest in a grave voice. "It was to be an
offering for the sin of a wayward spirit of anger. Beware, son, that
thou dost no wrong to a brother."

"I have not forgotten the censer, holy father," returned the Skipper,
with an ineffectual effort to assume his usual equanimity. "I have only
deferred the offering--until I may give it," he added in a stern
voice--"with an honest conscience. Thou shalt have it anon. I have
business now that stands in the way:--good morning to you, father." And
with these words he walked rapidly away.

In the afternoon Cocklescraft was seen plying his way from the quay in
a small boat, attended by two seamen who rowed him to a point some five
or six miles below the town, where he landed, and set out on foot for
St. Jerome's.

On the following morning, whilst the dawn yet cast its grey hue over
the face of the land, two men, in shaggy frize dresses, arrived at the
hut of the Cripple. They rode on rough, little beach-ponies, each
provided with a sack. The mastiff bitch eyed the visiters with a malign
aspect from her station beneath the door sill, and by her low
mutterings warned them against a too near approach. They accordingly
stood at bay.

"Curse on the slut!" said one; "she has the eye of a very devil;--it
might not be safe to defy her. Not a mouse is stirring:--the old
Trencherman is as still as his bowl. Were it safe, think you, to wake
him?"

"Why not?" demanded the other. "He will be in a passion, and threaten,
at first, with his weapon;--but when he knows we come to trade with
him, I will warrant he butters his wrinkles as smoothly with a smile as
you could desire. Strike your staff, Nichol, against the door."

"The fiend fetch me, if I venture so near as to strike, with that bitch
at the step. Try it thyself, Perry Cadger."

"Nay, and it comes to that, I will rouse him in another fashion," said
the other.

"Master Swale--Master Robert Swale--Halloo--halloo!"

"Rob, man, awake,--turn out for thy friends!" exclaimed the first. The
growl of the mastiff bitch was now changed into a hoarse bark. Some
stir was heard from the inside of the hut, and, in a moment afterwards,
the door was unbolted and brought sufficiently open to allow the
uncouth head and half dressed figure of the Cripple to be seen. A short
blunderbuss was levelled directly in the face of the visiters, whilst
an ungracious repulse was screamed out in a voice husky with rage.

"Begone, you misbegotten thieves! What makes you here? Do you think I
am an ale draper to take in every strolling runagate of the night.
Begone, or by my body, I will baptize you with a sprinkling of lead!"

"In God's name, Robert Swale," exclaimed the first speaker, "turn thy
weapon aslant! Thou mayst do a deed of mischief upon thy friends. We
are Nichol Upstake, and Peregrine Cadger--friends, Rob,--friends, who
have come to drive bargains to thy profit. Open your eyes, Master--put
on your glasses--we have gold in pocket, man."

"Ha, ha, ha!" chuckled the tenant of the hut; "thou art astir, cronies!
Ha, ha! I took ye for land loupers--sharks. By the Five Wounds, I knew
ye not! Have patience a space and I will open."

When the Cripple had dressed himself he came swinging forth in his
bowl, and passing beyond the curtilage of his dwelling went to the
beach, whither he was followed by his two visiters who had now
dismounted from their ponies. Here he halted, and taking off his cap,
exposed his bare head and loose white tresses to the morning breeze
which came somewhat sharply from the water.

"Soh!" he exclaimed, "there is refreshment in that! It is my custom to
expel these night-cap vapours with the good salt water breeze: that is
a commodity that may reach the province without paying duty to his
Lordship! a cheap physic, a cheap physic, masters. Now what scent art
thou upon, Nichol Upstake? Perry Cadger, man of sarsnet and grogram, I
guess thy errand."

"In truth, Robert Swale," said Upstake----

"No Robert Swale, nor Master Robert Swale," testily interrupted the
owner of the cabin: "none of your worshipful phrase for me! Thou art
but a shallow hypocrite to affect this reverence. Rob of the Bowl is
the best I get from you when your longings are satisfied; ay, and it is
said with a curl of your lip; and you make merry over my unworthiness
with your pot-fellows. So, be honest, and give me plain Rob; I seek no
flattery."

"You do us wrong, good Master Rob," interposed Peregrine Cadger----

"To your needs," said Rob, sternly: "Speak in the way of your trade!
You have no voice, nor I ear for aught else."

"Then, in brief," said Nichol Upstake, "I would fain know if you could
supply me with Antigua to-day, or aqua vitæ, I care not which?"

"If such a thing might be, where wouldst thou take it, Nichol?"
inquired Rob.

"To Warrington on the Cliffs."

"Ay, to Warrington on the Cliffs; good!--and warily to be borne? no
hawk's eye upon thy path?"

"It shall be by night, if you like it," said the dealer.

"Well, well!" replied the Cripple; "I can give you a little of both,
master: a flagon or so; some three or four. My hut is small, and hath a
scant cellar. But the money in hand, Nichol Upstake! Good gold--full
weight--and a fair price, too, mark you! I must have a trifle above my
last market--ten shillings the gallon on the brandy, and two more for
the Antigua. Leave thy kegs, and see me again at sunset. The money in
hand! the money in hand! there is no trust in my commonwealth."

"It shall be so," said Nichol.

"And now, Master Cadger, what wilt? You have a scheme to cozen dame and
wench with gewgaws; I see it in thine eye: and you will swear upon book
and cross, if need be, they have stood you a wondrous hard purchase,
even at the full three hundred per cent. excess you purpose to exact
above the cost; and all the while it has come out of Rob's warehouse as
cheap as beggars' alms: Ha, ha, ha! This world thrives on honesty! it
grows fat on virtue! knavery only starves! Your rogue in rags, what
hath he but his deserts! Let him repent and turn virtuous, like you and
me, Perry, and his torn cloak and threadbare doublet shall be fenced
and lined to defy all weathers. Hark ye, master, I have camblets,
satins, and velvets, cambric, and lawn for thee--choice commodities
all. Thou shalt see them in the hut."

"How came you by so rich an inventory, Rob?"

The Cripple turned a fierce eye upon the mercer, and with one glance
conveyed his meaning, as he touched the handle of his dagger and said
in a low tone,

"Dost forget the covenant between us? Peregrine Cadger you know I brook
no such question."

The mercer stood for a moment abashed, and then replied: "An idle word,
Master Rob, which meant no harm: as you say, honesty will only thrive.
You shall find never a knave that is not some part fool. I will into
the hut to look at the wares."

"Do so," said the Cripple. "You will find them in the box behind the
door. There is need that you leave me, so follow him, Nichol. I have
sudden business, masters, which it does not concern you to witness.
When you have seen what you desire, depart quickly; leave your sacks
and come back at sunset. I charge you, have a care that your eyes do
not wander towards my motions. You know me, and know that I have
sentinels upon your steps who have power to sear your eye-balls if you
but steal one forbidden glance: away!"

The dealers withdrew into the hut, wondering at the abrupt termination
of their interview, and implicitly confiding in the power of the
Cripple to make good his threat.

"The Lord have mercy upon us!" said the mercer, in a smothered voice,
after they had entered the door; "the Cripple hath matters on hand
which it were not for our good to pry into. Pray you, Nichol, let us
make our survey and do his bidding, by setting forth at once. I am not
the man to give him offence."

The cause of this unexpected dismissal of the visiters was the
apparition of Cocklescraft, whose figure, in the doubtful light of the
morning, was seen by Rob at a distance, on the profile of the bank in
the neighbourhood of the Wizard's Chapel. He had halted upon observing
the Cripple in company with strangers, and had made a signal which was
sufficiently intelligible to the person to whom it was addressed, to
explain his wish to meet him.

Rob, having thus promptly rid himself of his company, now swung on his
short crutches, almost as rapidly as a good walker could have got over
the ground, towards the spot where the Buccaneer had halted.

"Steer your cockleshell there to the right, old worm!" said the
Freebooter, as Rob came opposite to the bank on which he stood. "You
shall find it easier to come up by the hollow."

"The plagues of a foul conscience light on thee!" replied the Cripple,
desisting from farther motion, and wiping the perspiration from his
brow. "Is it more seemly I should waste my strength on the fruitless
labour to clamber up that rough slope, or thou come down to me? You
mock me, sirrah!" he added, with an expression of sudden anger; "Thou
know'st I cannot mount the bank."

"Thou know'st I can drag thee up, reverend fragment of a sinful man!"
returned Cocklescraft, jocularly; "yes, and with all thy pack of evil
passions at thy back, besides. Would you hold our meeting in sight from
the window of the hut, where you have just lodged a pair of your busy
meddlers--your bumpkin cronies in the way of trade? It was such as
these that, but a few nights ago, set his Lordship's hounds upon our
tracks. Come up, man, without farther parley."

The Cripple's fleeting anger changed, as usual, to that bitter smile
and chuckle with which he was wont to return into a tractable mood, as
he said,--

"A provident rogue! a shrewd imp! He has his instinct of mischief so
keen that his forecast never sleepeth. The devil hath made him a
perfect scholar. There, Dickon, give me thy hand," he added, when he
came to the steep ascent which his machine of locomotion was utterly
inadequate to surmount. "Give me thy hand, good cut-throat. Help me to
the top."

The muscular seaman, instead of extending his hand to his companion,
descended the bank, and taking the bowl and its occupant upon his
shoulder, strode upward to the even ground, and deposited his load with
as little apparent effort as if he had been dealing with a truss of
hay.

"Bravely!" ejaculated Rob, when he was set down. "I scarce could have
done better in my best day. Now, what set thee to jogging so early,
Dickon? Where dost thou come from?"

"From the Chapel," replied the other. "I came there from the Port last
night, express to see you; and having no special favour for the bed I
slept on, I left it at the first streak of light to go and rouse you
from your dreams, and lo! there you are at one of your dog and wolf
bargains with the country side clowns."

"Discreet knaves, Dickon, who have come to ease us of somewhat of our
charge of contraband: stout jerkins--stout and well lined; rogues of
substance--Nichol Upstake, the ordinary keeper of Warrington, and Perry
Cadger, the mercer of St. Mary's. Seeing thee here, I dismissed them
until sunset. That Peregrine Cadger is somewhat leaky as a gossip, and
might tell tales if he were aware that I consorted with you."

"I see them taking the road on their ponies," said Cocklescraft; "we
may venture to the hut. I am sharp set for breakfast, and when I have a
contented stomach, I will hold discourse with you, Rob, touching
matters of some concern to us both."

The Cripple and his guest, upon this hint, repaired to the hut, and in
due time the morning meal was supplied and despatched. Cocklescraft
then opened the purport of his visit.

"Has it ever come into your wise brain, Master Rob," he asked, "that
you are getting somewhat old; and that it might behoove you to make a
shrift at the confessional, by way of settling your account? I take it,
it will not be a very clean reckoning without a good swashing penance."

"How now, thou malignant kite!" exclaimed the Cripple; "what's in the
wind?"

"Simply, Rob, that the time has come when, peradventure, we must part.
I am tired of this wicked life. I shall amend; and I come to counsel
you to the like virtuous resolution. I will be married, Robert Swale,
Man of the Bowl!"

"Grammercy! thou wilt be married! thou! I spit upon thee for a fool.
What crotchet is this?"

"I will be married, as I say, neither more nor less. Now to what wench,
ask you? Why to the very fairest and primest flower of this
province--the Rose of St. Mary's--the Collector's own daughter. I mark
that devil's sneer of unbelief of yours, old buckler man: truer word
was never spoke by son of the sea or land, than I speak now."

"To the Collector's daughter!" ejaculated the Cripple, in a tone of
derision. "Thy carriage is bold in the Port, but no measure of audacity
will ever bring thee to that favour. Would'st thou play at thine old
game, and sack the town, and take the daintiest in it for ransom? You
know no other trick of wooing, Dickon."

"By my hand, Rob, I am specially besought by the Collector to make one
at a choice merry-making which his daughter has on foot for next
Thursday. Ay, and I am going, on his set command, to dance a gailliard
with Mistress Blanche. Oh, she shall be the very bird of the sea--the
girl of the billow, Rob! She shall be empress of the green wave that
nursed me, and the blue sky, and the wide waste. Her throne shall be on
the deck of my gay bark: and my merry men shall spring at her beck as
deftly as at the boatswain's pipe!"

"You shall sooner meet your deservings," said Rob, "on the foal of the
acorn, with a hempen string, than find grace with the Collector's
child. Thy whole life has been adversary to the good will of the
father."

"I know it," replied Cocklescraft. "I was born in natural warfare with
the customs and all who gather them; the more praise for my exploit! I
shall change my ways and forsake evil company. I shall be a man of
worship. We shall shut up the Chapel, Rob; expel our devils; pack off
our witches to Norway, and establish an honest vocation. Therefore,
Rob, go to father Pierre; repent of your misdeeds, and live upon your
past gains. You are rich and may afford to entertain henceforth a
reputable conscience."

"Do not palter with me, sirrah! but tell me what this imports."

"Then truly, Rob, I am much disturbed in my fancies. I love the wench,
and mean to have her--fairly if I can--but after the fashion of the
Coast if I must. She doth not consent as yet--mainly because she hath a
toy of delight in that silken Secretary of my Lord--a bookish
pale-cheeked, sickly strummer of stringed instruments--one Master
Verheyden, I think they call him."

"Ha!" exclaimed the Cripple, as a frown gathered on his brow; "what is
he? Whence comes he?"

"His Lordship's chamber secretary," replied Cocklescraft; "brought
hither I know not when nor whence. A silent-paced, priestly pattern of
modesty, who feeds on the favour of his betters, as a lady's dog, that
being allowed to lick the hand of his mistress, takes the privilege to
snarl on all who approach her. I shall make light work with him by
whipping him out of my way. Why are you angry, that you scowl so,
Master Rob?"

"I needs must be angry to see thee make a fool of thyself," replied the
master of the hut. "Verheyden--his Lordship's secretary!" he muttered
to himself. "No, no! it would be a folly to think it."

"Mutter as you will, Rob," said Cocklescraft; "by St. Iago, I will try
conclusions with the Secretary--folly or no folly! He hath taught the
maiden," he added, with a bitter emphasis, "to affect a scorn for me,
and he shall smart for it."

"Ha! thy spirit is ever for undoing!" exclaimed Rob, suddenly changing
his mood, and forcing a harsh laugh of derision. "Mischief is your
proper element--your food, your repose, your luxury. Well, if thou
needst must take on a new life, and strive to be worshipful, I would
counsel thee to begin it with some deed of charity, not strife. I had
as well make my lecture to a young wolf! Ha, Dickon, thou wilt be a
prospering pupil to the master that teaches thee the virtue of charity!
Such rede will be welcome to thee as water to thy shoes! I have scanned
thee in all thy humours!"

"I spurn upon your advice, and will not be scorned, old man!" said
Cocklescraft, angrily. "The maiden shall be mine, though I pluck her
from beneath her father's blazing roof-tree; and then farewell to the
province, and to thee! Mark you that! I come not to be taunted with thy
ill-favoured speech! My men shall be withdrawn from the Chapel. I will
put them on worthier service than to minister to thy greediness."

"Hot-brained, silly idiot--thou drivelling fool!" shouted Rob. "Dost
thou not know that I can put thee in the dust and trample on thee as a
caitiff? that I can drive thee from the province as a vile outlaw? Art
thou such a dizzard as to tempt my anger? If you would thrive even in
your villanous wooing, have a care not to provoke my displeasure! One
word from me, and not a man paces thy deck: thou goest abroad
unattended, stiverless--a fugitive, with hue and cry at thy heels. How
dar'st thou reprove me, boy?"

"Thy hand, Rob," said Cocklescraft, relenting. "You say no more than my
folly warrants; I am a wanton fool: your pardon--let there be peace
between us."

"Art reasonable again? Bravely confessed, Dickon! I forgive thy rash
speech. Now go thy ways, and the Foul One speed thee! I have naught to
counsel, either for strife or peace, since thou hast neither wit,
wisdom, nor patience for sober advice against the current of thy will.
It will not be long before this maimed trunk shall sink into its
natural resting place--and it matters not to me how my remnant of time
be spent--whether in hoarding or keeping. The world will find me an
heir to squander what little store it hath pleased my fortune to
gather. So go thy ways!"

"I will see you again, friend Rob," said the Buccaneer. "I have matter
to look after at the Chapel, and then shall get back to the Port, to
drive my suit to a speedy issue. I came here but in honest dealing with
you, to give you friendly notice of my design, and, perchance, to get
your aid. You have no counsel for me? It is well; my own head and arm
shall befriend me; they have stood me in stead in straits more doubtful
than this: farewell--farewell!"

As the Skipper stepped along the beach, Rob planted himself in the door
of the hut and looked after him for some moments, nodding his head
significantly towards him, and muttering in a cynical undertone, "Go
thy ways, snake of the sea, spawn of a water devil! Thou married! ha,
ha! Thy lady gay shall have a sweetened cup in thee: and thy wooing
shall be tender and gentle--yea, as the appetite of the sword-fish. It
shall be festival wooing--all in the light--in the light--of the
bride's own blazing roof: a dainty wolf! a most tractable shark! Oh, I
cannot choose but laugh!"


END OF VOLUME I.



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MR. COOPER.

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CITY OF THE CZAR.

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ATLAS OF ANCIENT GEOGRAPHY.

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                 *       *       *       *       *

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                 *       *       *       *       *

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CLINTON BRADSHAW;

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                 *       *       *       *       *

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EAST AND WEST.

A Novel.

_Two Volumes, 12mo._



NOVELS, &c. FOR SALE.


Althea Vernon, by Miss Leslie, 1 vol. 12mo.[1]

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Confessions of an Elderly Lady and Gentleman, by Lady Blessington, 2
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Godolphin, a Novel, 2d American edition, 2 vols. 12mo.

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