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Title: Judith Shakespeare - Her love affairs and other adventures
Author: Black, William, 1841-1898
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Judith Shakespeare - Her love affairs and other adventures" ***

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Transcriber's Notes:

Minor punctuation errors have been silently corrected. Variant spellings
and hyphenations changed when there is a clear majority. Other variable
and archaic spellings were retained. A list of the changes made can be
found at the end of the book. Italics indicated by _underscores_.




  Author of "A Daughter of Heth," "Madcap Violet," "A Princess of Thule,"
  "White Wings," "Yolande," etc., etc.






It was a fair, clear, and shining morning, in the sweet May-time of the
year, when a young English damsel went forth from the town of
Stratford-upon-Avon to walk in the fields. As she passed along by the
Guild Chapel and the Grammar School, this one and the other that met her
gave her a kindly greeting; for nearly every one knew her, and she was a
favorite; and she returned those salutations with a frankness which
betokened rather the self-possession of a young woman than the timidity
of a girl. Indeed, she was no longer in the first sensitive dawn of
maidenhood--having, in fact, but recently passed her five-and-twentieth
birthday--but nevertheless there was the radiance of youth in the
rose-leaf tint of her cheeks, and in the bright cheerfulness of her
eyes. Those eyes were large, clear, and gray, with dark pupils and dark
lashes; and these are a dangerous kind; for they can look demure, and
artless, and innocent, when there is nothing in the mind of the owner of
them but a secret mirth; and also--and alas!--they can effect another
kind of concealment, and when the heart within is inclined to soft pity
and yielding, they can refuse to confess to any such surrender, and can
maintain, at the bidding of a wilful coquetry, an outward and obstinate
coldness and indifference. For the rest, her hair, which was somewhat
short and curly, was of a light and glossy brown, with a touch of
sunshine in it; she had a good figure, for she came of a quite notably
handsome family; she walked with a light step and a gracious carriage;
and there were certain touches of style and color about her costume
which showed that she did not in the least undervalue her appearance.
And so it was "Good-morrow to you, sweet Mistress Judith," from this one
and the other; and "Good-morrow, friend So-and-so," she would answer;
and always she had the brightest of smiles for them as they passed.

Well, she went along by the church, and over the foot-bridge spanning
the Avon, and so on into the meadows lying adjacent to the stream. To
all appearance she was bent on nothing but deliberate idleness, for she
strayed this way and that, stooping to pick up a few wild flowers, and
humming to herself as she went. On this fresh and clear morning the air
seemed to be filled with sweet perfumes after the close atmosphere of
the town; and if it was merely to gather daisies, and cuckoo-flowers,
and buttercups, that she had come, she was obviously in no hurry about
it. The sun was warm on the rich green grass; the swallows were dipping
and flashing over the river; great humble-bees went booming by; and far
away somewhere in the silver-clear sky a lark was singing. And she also
was singing, as she strayed along by the side of the stream, picking
here and there a speedwell, and here and there a bit of self-heal or
white dead-nettle; if, indeed that could be called singing that was but
a careless and unconscious recalling of snatches of old songs and
madrigals. At one moment it was:

    Why, say you so? Oh no, no, no;
    Young maids must never a-wooing go.

And again it was:

    Come, blow thy horn, hunter!
    Come, blow thy horn, hunter!
    Come, blow thy horn, jolly hunter!

And again it was:

    For a morn in spring is the sweetest thing
    Cometh in all the year!

And in truth she could not have lit upon a sweeter morning than this
was; just as a chance passer-by might have said to himself that he had
never seen a pleasanter sight than this young English maiden presented
as she went idly along the river-side, gathering wild flowers the while.

But in course of time, when she came to a part of the Avon from which
the bank ascended sharp and steep, and when she began to make her way
along a narrow and winding foot-path that ascended through the
wilderness of trees and bushes hanging on this steep bank, she became
more circumspect. There was no more humming of songs; the gathering of
flowers was abandoned, though here she might have added a wild hyacinth
or two to her nosegay; she advanced cautiously, and yet with an
affectation of carelessness; and she was examining, while pretending not
to examine, the various avenues and open spaces in the dense mass of
foliage before her. Apparently, however, this world of sunlight and
green leaves and cool shadow was quite untenanted; there was no sound
but that of the blackbird and the thrush; she wandered on without
meeting any one. And then, as she had now arrived at a little dell or
chasm in the wood, she left the foot-path, climbed up the bank, gained
the summit, and finally, passing from among the bushes, she found
herself in the open, at the corner of a field of young corn.

Now if any one had noticed the quick and searching look that she flashed
all around on the moment of her emerging from the brush-wood--the
swiftness of lightning was in that rapid scrutiny--he might have had
some suspicion as to the errand that had brought her hither; but in an
instant her eyes had recovered their ordinary look of calm and
indifferent observation. She turned to regard the wide landscape spread
out below her; and the stranger, if he had missed that quick and eager
glance, would have naturally supposed that she had climbed up through
the wood to this open space merely to have a better view. And indeed
this stretch of English-looking country was well worth the trouble,
especially at this particular time of the year, when it was clothed in
the fresh and tender colors of the spring-time; and it was with much
seeming content that this young English maiden stood there and looked
abroad over the prospect--at the placid river winding through the lush
meadows; at the wooden spire of the church rising above the young
foliage of the elms; at here and there in the town a red-tiled house
visible among the thatched roofs and gray walls and orchards--these
being all pale and ethereal and dream-like in the still sunshine of this
quiet morning. It was a peaceful English-looking picture that ought to
have interested her, however familiar it may have been; and perhaps it
was only to look at it once more that she had made her way up hither;
and also to breathe the cool sweet air of the open, and to listen to
the singing of the birds, that seemed to fill the white wide spaces of
the sky as far as ever she could hear.

Suddenly she became aware that some one was behind her and near her, and
instantly turning, she found before her an elderly man with a voluminous
gray beard, who appeared to affect some kind of concealment by the way
he wore his hat and his long cloak.

"God save you, sweet lady!" he had said, almost before she turned.

But if this stranger imagined that by his unlooked-for approach and
sudden address he was likely to startle the young damsel out of her
self-possession, he knew very little with whom he had to deal.

"Good-morrow to you, good Master Wizard," said she, with perfect
calmness, and she regarded him from head to foot with nothing beyond a
mild curiosity. Indeed, it was rather he who was embarrassed. He looked
at her with a kind of wonder--and admiration also; and if she had been
sufficiently heedful and watchful she might have observed that his eyes,
which were singularly dark, had a good deal of animation in them for one
of his years. It was only after a second or so of this bewildered and
admiring contemplation of her that he managed to say, in a grave and
formal voice, something in praise of her courage in thus keeping the
appointment he had sought.

"Nay, good sir," said she, with much complacency, "trouble not yourself
about me. There is no harm in going out to gather a few flowers in the
field, surely. If there be any danger, it is rather you that have to
fear it, for there is the pillory for them that go about the country
divining for gold and silver."

"It is for no such vain and idle purposes that I use my art," said he;
and he regarded her with such an intensity of interest that sometimes he
stumbled forgetfully in his speech, as if he were repeating a lesson but
ill prepared, "It is for the revelation of the future to them that are
born under fortunate planets. And you are one of these, sweet lady, or I
would not have summoned you to a meeting that might have seemed perilous
to one of less courage and good heart. If it please you to listen, I can
forecast that that will befall you----"

"Nay, good sir," said she, with a smile, "I have heard it frequently,
though perhaps never from one so skilled. 'Tis but a question between
dark and fair, with plenty of money and lands thrown in. For that
matter, I might set up in the trade myself. But if you could tell me,

"If I were to tell you--if by my art I could show you," said he, with a
solemnity that was at least meant to be impressive (though this young
maid, with her lips inclining to a smile, and her inscrutable eyes, did
not seem much awe-stricken)--"if I could convince you, sweet lady, that
you shall marry neither dark nor fair among any of those that would now
fain win you--and rumor says there be several of those--what then?"

"Rumor?" she repeated, with the color swiftly mantling in her face. But
she was startled, and she said, quickly, "What do you say, good wizard?
Not any one that I know? What surety have you of that? Is it true? Can
you show it to me? Can you assure me of it? Is your skill so great that
you can prove to me that your prophecy is aught but idle guessing? No
one that I have seen as yet, say you? Why," she added half to herself,
"but that were good news for my gossip Prue."

"My daughter," said this elderly person, in slow and measured tones, "it
is not to all that the stars have been so propitious at their birth."

"Good sir," said she, with some eagerness, "I beseech you to forgive me
if I attend you not; but--but this is the truth, now, as to how I came
in answer to your message to me. I will speak plain. Perchance rumor
hath not quite belied herself. There may be one or two who think too
well of me, and would have me choose him or him to be my lover;
and--and--do you see now?--if there were one of those that I would fain
have turn aside from idle thoughts of me and show more favor to my dear
cousin and gossip Prudence Shawe--nay, but to tell the truth, good
wizard, I came here to seek of your skill whether it could afford some
charm and magic that would direct his heart to her. I have heard of such

And here she stopped abruptly, in some confusion, for she had in her
eagerness admitted a half-belief in the possible power of his witchcraft
which she had been careful to conceal before. She had professed
incredulity by her very manner; she had almost laughed at his
pretensions; she had intimated that she had come hither only out of
curiosity; but now she had blundered into the confession that she had
cherished some vague hope of obtaining a love-philtre, or some such
thing, to transfer away from herself to her friend the affections of one
of those suitors whose existence seemed to be so well known to the
wizard. However, he soon relieved her from her embarrassment by assuring
her that this that she demanded was far away beyond the scope of his
art, which was strictly limited to the discovery and revelation of such
secrets as still lay within the future.

"And if so, good sir," said she, after a moment's reflection, "that were
enough, or nearly enough, so that you can convince us of it."

"To yourself alone, gracious lady," said he, "can I reveal that which
will happen to you. Nay, more, so fortunate is the conjunction of the
planets that reigned at your birth--the _ultimum supplicium auri_ might
almost have been declared to you--that I can summon from the ends of the
earth, be he where he may, the man that you shall hereafter marry, or
soon or late I know not; if you will, you can behold him at such and
such a time, at such and such a place, as the stars shall appoint."

She looked puzzled, half incredulous and perplexed, inclined to smile,
blushing somewhat, and all uncertain.

"It is a temptation--I were no woman else," said she, with a laugh.
"Nay, but if I can see him, why may not others? And if I can show them
him who is to be my worshipful lord and master, why, then, my gossip
Prue may have the better chance of reaching the goal where I doubt not
her heart is fixed. Come, then, to prove your skill, good sir. Where
shall I see him, and when? Must I use charms? Will he speak, think you,
or pass as a ghost? But if he be not a proper man, good wizard, by my
life I will have none of him, nor of your magic either."

She was laughing now, and rather counterfeiting a kind of scorn; but she
was curious; and she watched him with a lively interest as he took forth
from a small leather bag a little folded piece of paper, which he
carefully opened.

"I cannot answer all your questions, my daughter," said he; "I can but
proceed according to my art. Whether the person you will see may be
visible to others I know not, nor can I tell you aught of his name or
condition. Pray Heaven he be worthy of such beauty and gentleness; for I
have heard of you, gracious lady, but rumor had but poor words to
describe such a rarity and a prize."

"Nay," said she, in tones of reproof (but the color had mounted to a
face that certainly showed no sign of displeasure), "you speak like one
of the courtiers now."

"This charm," said he, dropping his eyes, and returning to his grave
and formal tones, "is worth naught without a sprig of rosemary; that
must you get, and you must place it within the paper in a threefold
manner--thus; and then, when Sol and Luna are both in the
descendant--but I forget me, the terms of my art are unknown to you; I
must speak in the vulgar tongue; and meanwhile you shall see the charm,
that there is nothing wicked or dangerous in it, but only the
wherewithal to bring about a true lovers' meeting."

He handed her the open piece of paper; but she, having glanced at the
writing, gave it him back again.

"I pray you read it to me," she said.

He regarded her for a second with some slight surprise; but he took the
paper, and read aloud, slowly, the lines written thereon:

    "Dare you haunt our hallowed green?
    None but fairies here are seen.
            Down and sleep,
            Wake and weep,
    Pinch him black, and pinch him blue,
    That seeks to steal a lover true,
    When you come to hear us sing,
    Or to tread our fairy ring,
    Pinch him black, and pinch him blue--
    Oh, thus our nails shall handle you!"

"Why, 'tis like what my father wrote about Herne the Hunter," said she,
with a touch of indifference; perhaps she had expected to hear something
more weird and unholy.

"Please you, forget not the rosemary; nothing will come of it else," he
continued. "Then this you must take in your hand secretly, and when no
one has knowledge of your outgoing; and when Luna--nay, but I mean when
the moon has risen to-night so that, standing in the church-yard, you
shall see it over the roof of the church, then must you go to the
yew-tree that is in the middle of the church-yard, and there you shall
scrape away a little of the earth from near the foot of the tree, and
bury this paper, and put the earth firmly down on it again, saying
thrice, _Hieronymo! Hieronymo! Hieronymo!_ You follow me, sweet lady?"

"'Tis simple enough," said she, "but that on these fine evenings the
people are everywhere about; and if one were to be seen conjuring in the

"You must watch your opportunity, my daughter," said he, speaking with
an increased assumption of authority. "One minute will serve you; and
this is all that needs be done."

"Truly? Is this all?" said she, and she laughed lightly. "Then will my
gallant, my pride o' the world, my lord and master, forthwith spring out
of the solid ground? God mend me, but that were a fearful meeting--in a
church-yard! Gentle wizard, I pray you----"

"Not so," he answered, interrupting her. "The charm will work there; you
must let it rest; the night dews shall nourish it; the slow hours shall
pass over it; and the spirits that haunt these precincts must know of
it, that they may prepare the meeting. To-night, then, sweet lady, you
shall place this charm in the church-yard at the foot of the yew-tree,
and to-morrow at twelve of the clock----"

"By your leave, not to-morrow," said she, peremptorily. "Not to-morrow,
good wizard; for my father comes home to-morrow; and, by my life, I
would not miss the going forth to meet him for all the lovers between
here and London town!"

"Your father comes home to-morrow, Mistress Judith?" said he, in
somewhat startled accents.

"In truth he does; and Master Tyler also, and Julius Shawe--there will
be a goodly company, I warrant you, come riding to-morrow through
Shipston and Tredington and Alderminster; and by your leave, reverend
sir, the magic must wait."

"That were easily done," he answered, after a moment's thought, "by the
alteration of a sign, if the day following might find you at liberty.
Will it so, gracious lady?"

"The day after! At what time of the day?" she asked.

"The alteration of the sign will make it but an hour earlier, if I
mistake not; that is to say, at eleven of the forenoon you must be at
the appointed place----"

"Where, good wizard!" said she--"where am I to see the wraith, the
ghost, the phantom husband that is to own me?"

"That know I not myself as yet; but my aids and familiars will try to
discover it for me," he answered, taking a small sun-dial out of his
pocket and adjusting it as he spoke.

"And with haste, so please you, good sir," said she, "for I would not
that any chance comer had a tale of this meeting to carry back to the

He stooped down and placed the sun-dial carefully on the ground, at a
spot where the young corn was but scant enough on the dry red soil, and
then with his forefinger he traced two or three lines and a semicircle
on the crumbling earth.

"South by west," said he, and he muttered some words to himself. Then he
looked up. "Know you the road to Bidford, sweet lady?"

"As well as I know my own ten fingers," she answered.

"For myself, I know it not, but if my art is not misleading there should
be, about a mile or more along that road, another road at right angles
with it, bearing to the right, and there at the junction should stand a
cross of stone. Is it so?"

"'Tis the lane that leads to Shottery; well I know it," she said.

"So it has been appointed, then," said he, "if the stars continue their
protection over you. The day after to-morrow, at eleven of the forenoon,
if you be within stone's-throw of the cross at the junction of the
roads, there shall you see, or my art is strangely mistaken, the man or
gentleman--nay, I know not whether he be parson or layman, soldier or
merchant, knight of the shire or plain goodman Dick--I say there shall
you see him that is to win you and wear you; but at what time you shall
become his wife, and where, and in what circumstances, I cannot reveal
to you. I have done my last endeavor."

"Nay do not hold me ungrateful," she said, though there was a smile on
her lips, "but surely, good sir, what your skill has done, that it can
also undo. If it have power to raise a ghost, surely it has power to lay
him. And truly, if he be a ghost, I will not have him. And if he be a
man, and have a red beard, I will not have him. And if he be a
slape-face, I will have none of him. And if he have thin legs, he may
walk his ways for me. Good wizard, if I like him not, you must undo the

"My daughter, you have a light heart," said he, gravely. "May the
favoring planets grant it lead you not into mischief; there be unseen
powers that are revengeful. And now I must take my leave, gracious lady.
I have given you the result of much study and labor, of much solitary
communion with the heavenly bodies; take it, and use it with heed, and
so fare you well."

He was going, but she detained him.

"Good sir, I am your debtor," said she, with the red blood mantling in
her forehead, for all through this interview she had clearly recognized
that she was not dealing with any ordinary mendicant fortune-teller.
"So much labor and skill I cannot accept from you without becoming a
beggar. I pray you----"

He put up his hand.

"Not so," said he, with a certain grave dignity. "To have set eyes on
the fairest maid in Warwickshire--as I have heard you named--were surely
sufficient recompense for any trouble; and to have had speech of you,
sweet lady, is what many a one would venture much for. But I would
humbly kiss your hand; and so again fare you well."

"God shield you, most courteous wizard, and good-day," said she, as he
left; and for a second she stood looking after him in a kind of wonder,
for this extraordinary courtesy and dignity of manner were certainly not
what she had expected to find in a vagabond purveyor of magic. But now
he was gone, and she held the charm in her hand, and so without further
ado she set out for home again, getting down through the brushwood to
the winding path.

She walked quickly, for she had heard that Master Bushell's daughter,
who was to be married that day, meant to beg a general holiday for the
school-boys; and she knew that if this were granted these sharp-eyed
young imps would soon be here, there, and everywhere, and certain to spy
out the wizard if he were in the neighborhood. But when she had got
clear of this hanging copse, that is known as the Wier Brake, and had
reached the open meadows, so that from any part around she could be seen
to be alone, she had nothing further to fear, and she returned to her
leisurely straying in quest of flowers. The sun was hotter on the grass
now; but the swallows were busy as ever over the stream; and the great
bees hummed aloud as they went past; and here and there a white
butterfly fluttered from petal to petal; and, far away, she could hear
the sound of children's voices in the stillness. She was in a gay mood.
The interview she had just had with one in league with the occult powers
of magic and witchery did not seem in the least to have overawed her.
Perhaps, indeed, she had not yet made up her mind to try the potent
charm that she had obtained; at all events the question did not weigh
heavily on her. For now it was,

    Oh, mistress mine, where are you roaming?

and again it was,

    For a morn in spring is the sweetest thing
    Cometh in all the year!

and always another touch of color added to the daintily arranged
nosegay in her hand. And then, of a sudden, as she chanced to look
ahead, she observed a number of the school-boys come swarming down to
the foot-bridge; and she knew right well that one of them--to wit, young
Willie Hart--would think a holiday quite thrown away and wasted if he
did not manage to seek out and secure the company of his pretty cousin

"Ah! there, now," she was saying to herself, as she watched the
school-boys come over the bridge one by one and two by two, "there, now,
is my sweetheart of sweethearts; there is my prince of lovers! If ever I
have lover as faithful and kind as he, it will go well. 'Nay, Susan,'
says he, 'I love you not; you kiss me hard, and speak to me as if I were
still a child; I love Judith better.' And how cruel of my father to put
him in the play, and to slay him so soon; but perchance he will call him
to life again--nay, it is a favorite way with him to do that; and pray
Heaven he bring home with him to-morrow the rest of the story, that Prue
may read it to me. And so are you there, among the unruly imps, you
young Prince Mamillius? Have you caught sight of me yet, sweetheart
blue-eyes? Why, come, then; you will outstrip them all, I know, when you
get sight of Cousin Judith; for as far off as yon are, you will reach me
first, that I am sure of; and then, by my life, sweetheart Willie, you
shall have a kiss as soft as a dove's breast!"

And so she went on to meet them, arranging the colors of her straggling
blossoms the while, with now and again a snatch of careless song:

    Come, blow thy horn, hunter!
    Come, blow thy horn, hunter!
    Come, blow thy horn--jolly hunter!



There was much ado in the house all that day, in view of the home-coming
on the morrow, and it was not till pretty late in the evening that
Judith was free to steal out for a gossip with her friend and chief
companion, Prudence Shawe. She had not far to go--but a couple of doors
off, in fact; and her coming was observed by Prudence herself, who
happened to be sitting at the casemented window for the better
prosecution of her needle-work, there being still a clear glow of
twilight in the sky. A minute or so thereafter the two friends were in
Prudence's own chamber, which was on the first floor, and looking out to
the back over barns and orchards; and they had gone to the window, to
the bench there, to have their secrets together. This Prudence Shawe was
some two years Judith's junior--though she really played the part of
elder sister to her; she was of a pale complexion, with light
straw-colored hair; not very pretty, perhaps, but she had a restful kind
of face that invited friendliness and sympathy, of which she had a large
abundance to give in return. Her custom was of a Puritanical plainness
and primness, both in the fashion of it and in its severe avoidance of
color; and that was not the only point on which she formed a marked
contrast to this dear cousin and wilful gossip of hers, who had a way of
pleasing herself (more especially if she thought she might thereby catch
her father's eye) in apparel as in most other things. And on this
occasion--at the outset at all events--Judith would not have a word said
about the assignation of the morning. The wizard was dismissed from her
mind altogether. It was about the home-coming of the next day that she
was all eagerness and excitement; and her chief prayer and entreaty was
that her friend Prudence should go with her to welcome the travellers

"Nay, but you must and shall, dear Prue; sweet mouse, I beg it of you!"
she was urging. "Every one at New Place is so busy that they have fixed
upon Signior Crab-apple to ride with me; and you know I cannot suffer
him; and I shall not have a word of my father all the way back, not a
word; there will be nothing but a discourse about fools, and idle jests,
and wiseman Matthew the hero of the day--"

"Dear Judith, I cannot understand how you dislike the old man so," her
companion said, in that smooth voice of hers. "I see no garden that is
better tended than yours."

"I would I could let slip the mastiff at his unmannerly throat!" was the
quick reply--and indeed for a second she looked as if she would fain
have seen that wish fulfilled. "The vanity of him!--the puffed-up pride
of him.--he thinks there be none in Warwickshire but himself wise
enough to talk to my father; and the way he dogs his steps if he be
walking in the garden--no one else may have a word with him!--sure my
father is sufficiently driven forth by the preachers and the
psalm-singing within-doors that out-of-doors, in his own garden, he
might have some freedom of speech with his own daughter--"

"Judith, Judith," her friend said, and she put her hand on her arm, "you
have such wilful thoughts, and wild words too. I am sure your father is
free of speech with every one--gentle and simple, old and young, it
matters not who it is that approaches him."

"This Signior Crab-apple truly!" the other exclaimed, in the impetuosity
of her scorn. "If his heart be as big as a crab-apple, I greatly doubt;
but that it is of like quality I'll be sworn. And the bitterness of his
railing tongue! All women are fools--vools he calls them, rather--first
and foremost; and most men are fools; but of all fools there be none
like the fools of Warwickshire--that is because my worshipful goodman
gardener comes all the way from Bewdley. 'Tis meat and drink to him, he
says, to discover a fool, though how he should have any difficulty in
the discovering, seeing that we are all of us fools, passes my
understanding. Nay, but I know what set him after that quarry; 'twas one
day in the garden, and my father was just come home from London, and he
was talking to my uncle Gilbert, and was laughing at what his friend
Benjamin Jonson had said, or had written, I know not which. 'Of all
beasts in the world,' says he, 'I love most the serious ass.' Then up
steps goodman Matthew. 'There be plenty of 'em about 'ere, zur,' says
he, with a grin on his face like that on a cat when a dog has her by the
tail. And my father, who will talk to any one, as you say truly, and
about anything, and always with the same attention, must needs begin to
challenge goodman Crab-apple to declare the greatest fools that ever he
had met with; and from that day to this the ancient sour-face hath been
on the watch--and it suits well with his opinion of other people and his
opinion of himself as the only wise man in the world--I say ever since
he hath been on the watch for fools; and the greater the fool the
greater his wisdom, I reckon, that can find him out. A purveyor of
fools!--a goodly trade! I doubt not but that it likes him better than
the tending of apricots when he has the free range of the ale-houses to
work on. He will bring a couple of them into the garden when my father
is in the summer-house. ''Ere, zur, please you come out and look 'ere,
zur; 'ere be a brace of rare vools.' And the poor clowns are proud of
it; they stand and look at each other and laugh. 'We be, zur--we be.'
And then my father will say no, and will talk with them, and cheer them
with assurance of their wisdom; then must they have spiced bread and ale
ere they depart; and this is a triumph for Master Matthew--the withered,
shrivelled, dried-up, cankered nutshell that he is!"

"Dear Judith, pray have patience--indeed you are merely jealous."

"Jealous!" she exclaimed, as if her scorn of this ill-conditioned old
man put that well out of the question.

"You think he has too much of your father's company, and you like it
not; but consider of it, Judith, he being in the garden, and your father
in the summer-house, and when your father is tired for the moment of his
occupation, whatever that may be, then can he step out and speak to this
goodman Matthew, that amuses him with his biting tongue, and with the
self-sufficiency of his wisdom--nay, I suspect your father holds him to
be a greater fool than any that he makes sport of, and that he loves to
lead him on."

"And why should my father have to be in the summer-house but that
in-doors the wool-spinning is hardly more constant than the lecturing
and the singing of psalms and hymns?"

"Judith! Judith!" said her gentle friend, with real trouble on her face,
"you grieve me when you talk like that--indeed you do, sweetheart! There
is not a morning nor a night passes that I do not pray the Lord that
your heart may be softened and led to our ways--nay, far from that, but
to the Lord's own ways--and the answer will come; I have faith; I know
it; and God send it speedily, for you are like an own sister to me, and
my heart yearns over you!"

The other sat silent for a second. She could not fail to be touched by
the obvious sincerity, the longing kindness of her friend, but she would
not confess as much in words.

"As yet, sweet Prue," said she, lightly, "I suppose I am of the
unregenerate, and if it is wicked to cherish evil thoughts of your
neighbor, then am I not of the elect, for I heartily wish that Tom
Quiney and some of the youths would give Matthew gardener a sound
ducking in a horse-pond, to tame his arrogance withal. But no matter.
What say you, dear Prue? Will you go with me to-morrow, so that we may
have the lad Tookey in charge of us, and Signior Crab-apple be left to
his weeding and grafting and railing at human kind? Do, sweet mouse--"

"The maids are busy now, Judith," said she, doubtfully.

"But a single day, dear mouse!" she urged. "And if we go early we may
get as far as Shipston, and await them there. Have you no desire to meet
your brother, Prudence--to be the first of all to welcome him home? Nay,
that is because you can have him in your company as often as you wish;
there is no goodman-wiseman-fool to come between you."

"Dear heart," said Prudence Shawe, with a smile, "I know not what is the
witchery of you, but there is none I wot of that can say you nay."

"You will, then?" said the other, joyfully. "Ah, look, now, the long
ride home we shall have with my father, and all the news I shall have to
tell him! And all good news, Prue; scarcely a whit or bit that is not
good news: the roan that he bought at Evesham is well of her
lameness--good; and the King's mulberry is thriving bravely (I wonder
that wiseman Matthew has not done it a mischief in the night-time, for
the King, being above him in station, must needs have nothing from him
but sour and envious words); and then the twenty acres that my father so
set his heart upon he is to have--I hear that the Combes have said as
much--and my father will be right well pleased; and the vicar is talking
no longer of building the new piggery over against the garden--at least
for the present there is nothing to be done: all good news; but there is
better still, as you know; for what will he say when he discovers that I
have taught Bess Hall to ride the mastiff?"

"Pray you have a care, dear Judith," said her friend, with some
apprehension on her face. "'Tis a dangerous-looking beast."

"A lamb, a very lamb!" was the confident answer. "Well, now, and as we
are riding home he will tell me of all the things he has brought from
London; and you know he has always something pretty for you, sweet
Puritan, though you regard such adornment as snares and pitfalls. And
this time I hope it will be a silver brooch for you, dear mouse, that so
you must needs wear it and show it, or he will mark its absence; and for
the others let us guess; let us see. There may be some more of that
strange-fashioned Murano glass for Susan, for as difficult as it is to
carry; and some silk hangings or the like for my mother, or store of
napery, perchance, which she prizeth more; and be sure there is the
newest book of sermons from Paul's Churchyard for the Doctor; a
greyhound, should he hear of a famous one on the way, for Thomas Combe;
toys for the little Harts, that is certain; for my aunt Joan--what?--a
silver-topped jug, or some perfumes of musk and civet?--and what
else--and for whom else--well--"

"But what for yourself, dear Judith?" her friend said, with a smile.
"Will he forget you? Has Matthew gardener driven you out even from his
recollection? Will he not have for you a pretty pair of rose
shoe-strings, or one of the new tasselled French hoods they are speaking
of, or something of the kind, that will turn the heads of all the lads
in Stratford twice further round? You are a temptress surely,
sweetheart; I half forget that such vanities should displease me when I
see the way you wear them; and that I think you must take from your
father, Judith; for no matter how plain his apparel is--and it is plain
indeed for one that owns the New Place--he wears it with such an ease,
and with such a grace and simplicity, that you would say a prince should
wear it even so."

"You put me off, Prue," her friend said with a sort of good-natured
impatience. "Why, I was showing you what nicelings and delicates my
father was bringing, and what I had thought to say was this: that he may
have this for one, and that for the other, and many a one proud to be
remembered (as I shall be if he thinks of me), but this that I know he
is bringing for little Bess Hall is something worth all of these, for it
is nothing less than the whole love of his heart. Nay, but I swear it;
there is not a human creature in the world to compare with her in his
eyes; she is the pearl that he wears in his heart of hearts. If it were
London town she wanted, and he could give it to her, that is what he
would bring for her."

"What! are you jealous of her too?" said Prudence, with her placid

"By yea and nay, sweet Puritan, if that will content you, I declare it
is not so," was the quick answer. "Why, Bess is my ally! We are in
league, I tell you; we will have a tussle with the enemy ere long; and,
by my life, I think I know that that will put goodman-wiseman's nose

At this moment the secret confabulation of these two friends was
suddenly and unexpectedly broken in upon by a message from without.
Something white came fluttering through the open casement, and fell, not
quite into Judith's lap, which was probably its intended destination,
but down toward her feet. She stooped and picked it up; it was a letter,
addressed to her, and tied round with a bit of rose-red silk ribbon that
was neatly formed into a true-lover's knot.



The embarrassment that ensued--on her part only, for the pale and gentle
face of her friend betrayed not even so much as surprise--was due to
several causes. Judith could neither read nor write. In her earlier
years she had been a somewhat delicate child, and had consequently been
excused from the ordinary tuition, slight as that usually was in the
case of girls; but when, later on, she grew into quite firm and robust
health, in her wilfulness and pride and petulance she refused to
retransform herself into a child and submit to be taught children's
lessons. Moreover, she had an acute and alert brain; and she had a
hundred reasons ready to show that what was in reality a mere
waywardness on her part was the most wise and natural thing in the
world; while her father, who had a habitual and great tolerance for
everything and everybody that came within his reach, laughed with her
rather than at her, and said she should do very well without
book-learning so long as those pink roses shone in her cheeks. But she
had one reason that was not merely an excuse. Most of the printed matter
that reached the house was brought thither by this or that curate, or by
this or that famous preacher, who, in going through the country, was
sure of an eager and respectful welcome at New Place; and perhaps it was
not kindly nor civilly done of them--though it may have been regarded as
a matter of conscience--that they should carry thither and read aloud,
among other things, the fierce denunciations of stage-plays and
stage-players which were common in the polemical and puritanical
literature of the day. Right or wrong, Judith resented this with a
vehement indignation; and she put a ban upon all books, judging by what
she had heard read out of some; nay, one day she had come into the house
and found her elder sister, who was not then married, greatly
distressed, and even in the bitterness of tears; and when she discovered
that the cause of this was a pamphlet that had been given to Susanna, in
which not only were the heinous wickednesses of plays and players
denounced, but also her own father named by his proper name, Judith,
with hot cheeks and flashing eyes, snatched the pamphlet from her
sister's hand and forthwith sent it flying through the open window into
the mud without, notwithstanding that books and pamphlets were scarce
and valuable things, and that this one had been lent. And when she
discovered that this piece of writing had been brought to the house by
the pious and learned Walter Blaise--a youthful divine he was who had a
small living some few miles from Stratford, but who dwelt in the town,
and was one of the most eager and disputatious of the Puritanical
preachers there--it in no way mitigated her wrath that this worthy
Master Blaise was regarded by many, and even openly spoken of, as a
suitor for her own hand.

"God mend me," said she, in her anger (and greatly to the distress of
the mild-spoken Prudence), "but 'tis a strange way of paying court to a
young woman to bring into the house abuse of her own father! Sir Parson
may go hang, for me!" And for many a day she would have nothing to say
to him; and steeled and hardened her heart not only against him, but
against the doctrines and ways of conduct that he so zealously
advocated; and she would not come in to evening prayers when he happened
to be present; and wild horses would not have dragged her to the parish
church on the Sunday afternoon that it was his turn to deliver the
fortnightly lecture there. However, these things abated in time. Master
Walter Blaise was a civil-spoken and an earnest and sincere young man,
and Prudence Shawe was the gentle intermediary. Judith suffered his
presence, and that was about all as yet; but she would not look the way
of printed books. And when Prudence tried to entice her into a study of
the mere rudiments of reading and writing, she would refuse
peremptorily, and say, with a laugh, that, could she read, the first
thing she should read would be plays, which, as sweet cousin Prue was
aware, were full of tribulation and anguish, and fit only for the
foolish Galatians of the world, the children of darkness and the devil.
But this obstinacy did not prevent her overcoming her dear cousin Prue's
scruples, and getting her to read aloud to her in the privacy of their
secret haunts this or the other fragments of a play, when that she had
adroitly purloined a manuscript from the summer-house in New Place; and
in this surreptitious manner she had acquired a knowledge of what was
going on at the Globe and the Blackfriars theatres in London, which, had
they but guessed of it, would have considerably astounded her mother,
her sister, and good Parson Blaise as well.

In more delicate matters still, Prudence was her confidante, her
intermediary, and amanuensis: and ordinarily this caused her no
embarrassment, for she wished for no secrets with any of human kind. But
in one direction she had formed certain suspicions; and so it was that
on this occasion, when she stooped down and picked up the letter that
had been so deftly thrown in at the casement, her face flushed somewhat.

"I know from whom it comes," said she, and she seemed inclined to put it
into the little wallet of blue satin that hung at her side.

Then she glanced at Prudence's eyes. There was nothing there in the
least approaching displeasure or pique, only a quiet amusement.

"It was cleverly done," said Prudence, and she raised her head
cautiously and peeped through one of the small panes of pale green
glass. But the twilight had sunk into dusk, and any one outside could
easily have made his escape unperceived through the labyrinth of barns
and outhouses.

Judith glanced at the handwriting again, and said, with an affectation
of carelessness:

"There be those who have plenty of time, surely, for showing the wonders
of their skill. Look at the twisting and turning and lattice-work of
it--truly he is a most notable clerk; I would he spent the daylight to
better purpose. Read it for me, sweet Prue."

She would have handed the letter--with much studied indifference of look
and manner--to her friend, but that Prudence gently refused it.

"'Tis you must undo the string; you know not what may be inside."

So Judith herself opened the letter, which contained merely a sprig of
rosemary, along with some lines written in a most ornate calligraphy.

"What does he say?" she asked, but without any apparent interest, as she
gave the open letter to her companion.

Prudence took the letter and read aloud;

    "Rosemary is for remembrance
      Between us day and night;
    Wishing that I might always have
      You present in my sight.

     This from your true well-wisher, and one that would be your loving
     servant unto death.

  T. Q."

"The idle boy!" she said, and again she directed a quick and penetrating
look of inquiry to her friend's face. But Prudence was merely regarding
the elaborate handwriting. There was no trace of wounded pride or
anything of the kind in her eyes. Nay, she looked up and said, with a

"For one that can wrestle so well, and play at foot-ball, and throw the
sledge as they say he can, he is master of a most delicate handwriting."

"But the rosemary, Prue!" Judith exclaimed, suddenly, and she groped
about at her feet until she had found it. "Why, now, look there, was
ever anything so fortunate? Truly I had forgotten all about rosemary,
and my reverend wizard, and the charm that is to be buried to-night; and
you know not a word of the story. Shall I tell you, sweet mouse? Is
there time before the moon appears over the roof of the church?--for
there I am summoned to fearful deeds. Why, Prue, you look as frightened
as if a ghost had come into the room--you yourself are like a ghost now
in the dusk--or is it the coming moonlight that is making you so pale?"

"I had thought that better counsels would have prevailed with you,
Judith," she said, anxiously. "I knew not you had gone to see the man,
and I reproach myself that I have been an agent in the matter."

"A mouth-piece only, sweet Prue!--a mere harmless, innocent whistle that
had nothing to do with the tune. And the business was not so dreadful
either; there was no caldron, nor playing with snakes and newts, no, nor
whining for money, which I expected most; but a most civil and courteous
wizard, a most town-bred wizard as ever the sun set eye on, that called
me 'gracious lady' every other moment, and would not take a penny for
his pains. Marry, if all the powers of evil be as well-behaved, I shall
have less fear of them; for a more civil-spoken gentleman I have never
encountered; and 'sweet lady' it was, and 'gracious lady,' and a voice
like the voice of my lord bishop; and the assurance that the planets and
the stars were holding me in their kindest protection; and a promise of
a ghost husband that is to appear that I may judge whether I like him or
like him not; and all this and more--and he would kiss my hand, and so
farewell, and the reverend magician makes his obeisance and vanishes,
and I am not a penny the poorer, but only the richer because of my
charm! There, I will show it to you, dear mouse."

After a little search she found the tiny document; and Prudence Shawe
glanced over it.

"Judith! Judith!" said she, almost in despair, "I know not whither your
wilfulness will carry you. But tell me what happened. How came you by
this paper? And what ghost husband do you speak of?"

Then Judith related, with much circumstantiality, what had occurred that
morning: not toning it down in the least, but rather exaggerating here
and there; for she was merry-hearted, and she liked to see the sweet
Puritan face grow more and more concerned. Moreover, the dull gray light
outside, instead of deepening into dark, appeared to be becoming a
trifle clearer, so that doubtless the moon was declaring itself
somewhere; and she was looking forward, when the time came, to securing
Prudence's company as far as the church-yard, if her powers of
persuasion were equal to that.

"But you will not go--surely you will not go, darling Judith," said
Prudence, in accents of quite pathetic entreaty. "You know the sin of
dealing with such ungodly practices--nay, and the danger too, for you
would of your own free will go and seek a meeting with unholy things,
whereas I have been told that not so long ago they used in places to
carry a pan of frankincense round the house each night to keep away
witchcraft from them as they slept. I beseech you, dearest Judith, give
me the paper, and I will burn it!"

"Nay, nay, it is but an idle tale, a jest; I trust it not," said her
friend to reassure her. "Be not afraid, sweet Prue. Those people who go
about compelling the planets and summoning spirits and the like have
lesser power than the village folk imagine, else would their own
affairs thrive better than they seem to do."

"Then give me the paper; let me burn it, Judith!"

"Nay, nay, mouse," said she, withholding it; and then she added, with a
sort of grave merriment or mischief in her face:

"Whether the thing be aught or naught, sure I cannot treat so ill my
courteous wizard. He was no goose-herd, I tell you, but a most proper
and learned man; and he must have the chance of working the wonders he
foretold. Come, now, think of it with reason, dear Prue. If there be no
power in the charm, if I go to Shottery for my morning walk and find no
one in the lane, who is harmed? Why, no one; and Grandmother Hathaway is
pleased, and will show me how her garden is growing. Then, on the other
hand, should the charm work, should there be some one there, what evil
if I regard him as I pass from the other side of the way? Is it such a
wonder that one should meet a stranger on the Bidford road? And what
more? Man or ghost, he cannot make me marry him if I will not. He cannot
make me speak to him if I will not. And if he would put a hand on me, I
reckon Roderigo would speedily have him by the throat, as I hope he may
some day have goodman Matthew."

"But, Judith, such things are unlawful and forbidden----"

"To you, sweet saint--to you," said the other, with much good-humor.
"But I have not learned to put aside childish things as yet; and this is
only a jest, good Prue; and you, that are so faithful to your word, even
in the smallest trifle, would not have me break my promise to my gentle
wizard? 'Gracious lady,' he says, and 'sweet lady,' as if I were a dame
of the court; it were unmannerly of me not to grant him this small

"I wish I had misread the letter," said Prudence, so occupied with her
own fears that she scarcely knew what to do.

"What!" exclaimed her friend, in tones of raillery, "you would have
deceived me? Is this your honesty, your singleness of heart, sweet
Puritan? You would have sent me on some fool's errand, would you?"

"And if it were to be known you had gone out to meet this conjurer,
Judith, what would your mother and sister say?--and your father?"

"My mother and sister--hum!" was the demure reply. "If he had but come
in the garb of a preacher, with a Bible under one arm and a prayer-book
under the other, I doubt not that he would have been welcome enough at
New Place--ay, and everything in the house set before him, and a
Flanders jug full of Quiney's best claret withal to cheer the good man.
But when you speak of my father, dear Prue, there you are wide of the
mark--wide, wide of the mark; for the wizard is just such an one as he
would be anxious to know and see for himself. Indeed, if my mother and
Susan would have the house filled with preachers, my father would rather
seek his company from any strange kind of vagrant cattle you could find
on the road--ballad-singers, strolling players, peddlers, and the like;
and you should see him when some ancient harper in his coat of green
comes near the town--nay, the constable shall not interfere with him,
license or no license--my father must needs entertain him in the garden;
and he will sit and talk to the old man; and the best in the house must
be brought out for him; and whether he try his palsied fingers on the
strings, or perchance attempt a verse of 'Pastime with good company'
with his quavering old voice, that is according to his own good-will and
pleasure; nothing is demanded of him but that he have good cheer, and
plenty of it, and go on his way the merrier, with a groat or two in his
pouch. Nay, I mind me, when Susan was remonstrating with my father about
such things, and bidding him have some regard for the family
name--'What?' says he, laughing; 'set you up, Madam Pride! Know you not,
then, whence comes our name? And yet 'tis plain enough. _Shacks_, these
are but vagrant, idle, useless fellows; and then we come to _pere_, that
is, an equal and companion. There you have it complete--_Shackspere_,
the companion of strollers and vagabonds, of worthless and idle fellows.
What say you, Madam Pride?' And, indeed, poor Susan was sorely
displeased, insomuch that I said, 'But the spear in the coat of arms,
father--how came we by that?' 'Why, there, now,' says he, 'you see how
regardless the heralds are of the King's English. I warrant me they
would give a ship to Shipston and a hen to Enstone.' Indeed, he will
jest you out of anything. When your brother would have left the Town
Council, Prue----"

But here she seemed suddenly to recollect herself. She rose quickly,
thrust open the casement still wider, and put out her head to discover
whereabouts the moon was; and when she withdrew her head again there
was mischief and a spice of excitement in her face.

"No more talking and gossip now, Prue; the time has arrived for fearful

Prudence put her small white hand on her friend's arm.

"Stay, Judith. Be guided--for the love of me be guided, sweetheart! You
know not what you do. The profaning of sacred places will bring a

"Profaning, say you, sweet mouse? Is it anything worse than the children
playing tick round the grave-stones; or even, when no one is looking,
having a game of King-by-your-leave?"

"It is late, Judith. It must be nine o'clock. It is not seemly that a
young maiden should be out-of-doors alone at such an hour of the night."

"Marry, that say I," was the light answer. "And the better reason that
you should come with me, Prue."

"I?" said Prudence, in affright.

"Wherefore not, then? Nay, but you shall suffer no harm through the
witchery, sweet mouse; I ask your company no further than the little
swing-gate. One minute there, and I shall be back with you. Come, now,
for your friend's sake; get your hood and your muffler, dear Prue, and
no one shall know either of us from the witch of Endor, so quickly shall
we be there and back."

Still she hesitated.

"If your mother were to know, Judith----"

"To know what, sweetheart? That you walked with me as far as the church
and back again? Why, on such a fine and summer-like night I dare be
sworn, now, that half the good folk of Stratford are abroad; and it is
no such journey into a far country that we should take one of the maids
with us. Nay, come, sweet Prue! We shall have a merry ride to-morrow;
to-night for your friendship's sake you must do me this small service."

Prudence did not answer, but somewhat thoughtfully, and even
reluctantly, she went to a small cupboard of boxes that stood in the
corner of the apartment, and brought forth some articles of attire which
(although she might not have confessed it) were for the better
disguising of herself, seeing that the night was fine and warm. And then
Judith, having also drawn a muffler loosely round her neck and the lower
half of her face, was ready to go, and was gone, in fact, as far as the
door, when she suddenly said:

"Why, now, I had nearly forgot the rosemary, and without that the charm
is naught. Did I leave it on the window-shelf?"

She went back and found it, and this time she took the precaution of
folding it within the piece of paper that she was to bury in the

"Is it fair, dear Judith?" Prudence said, reproachfully, before she
opened the door. "Is it right that you should take the bit of rosemary
sent you by one lover, and use it as a charm to bring another?"

"Nay, why should you concern yourself, sweet mouse?" said Judith, with a
quick glance, but indeed at this end of the room it was too dark for her
to see anything. "My lover, say you? Let that be as the future may show.
In the meantime I am pledged to no one, nor anxious that I should be so.
And a scrap of rosemary, now, what is it? But listen to this, dear Prue:
if it help to show me the man I shall marry--if there be aught in this
magic--will it not be better for him that sent the rosemary that we
should be aware of what is in store for us?"

"I know not--I scarcely ever know--whether you are in jest or in
earnest, Judith," her friend said.

"Why, then, I am partly in starched cambric, good mouse, if you must
know, and partly in damask, and partly in taffeta of popinjay blue. But
come, now, let us be going. The awful hour approaches, Prue. Do you not
tremble, like Faustus in the cell? What was't he said?

    It strikes; it strikes. Now, body, turn to air!

Come along, sweet Prue."

But she was silent as they left. Indeed, they went down the dark little
staircase and out at the front door with as little noise as might be.
Judith had not been mistaken: the fine, clear, warm evening had brought
out many people; and they were either quietly walking home or standing
in dusky little groups at the street corners talking to each other;
whilst here and there came a laugh from a ruddy-windowed ale-house; and
here and there a hushed sound of singing, where a casement had been left
a bit open, told that the family within were at their devotional
exercises for the night. The half-moon was now clear and silvery in the
heavens. As they passed under the massive structure of the Guild Chapel
the upper portions of the tall windows had a pale greenish glow shining
through them that made the surrounding shadows look all the more
solemn. Whether it was that their mufflers effectually prevented their
being recognized, or whether it was that none of their friends happened
to be abroad, they passed along without attracting notice from any one,
nor was a word spoken between themselves for some time.

But when they drew near to the church, the vast bulk of which, towering
above the trees around, seemed almost black against the palely clear
sky, the faithful Prudence made bold to put in a final word of
remonstrance and dissuasion.

"It is wickedness and folly, Judith. Naught can come of such work," she

"Then let naught come of it, and what harm is done?" her companion said,
gayly. "Dear mouse, are you so timorous? Nay, but you shall not come
within the little gate; you shall remain without. And if the spirits
come and snatch me, as they snatched off Doctor Faustus, you shall see
all the pageant, and not a penny to pay. What was it in the paper?

    'Pinch him black, and pinch him blue,
    That seeks to steal a lover true!'

Did it not run so? But they cannot pinch you, dear heart; so stand here
now, and hush!--pray do not scream if you see them whip me off in a
cloud of fire--and I shall be with you again in a minute."

She passed through the little swinging gate and entered the church-yard,
casting therewith a quick glance around. Apparently no one was within
sight of her, either among the gray stones or under the black-stemmed
elms by the river; but there were people not far off, for she could hear
their voices--doubtless they were going home through the meadows on the
other side of the stream. She looked but once in that direction. The
open country was lying pale and clear in the white light; and under the
wide branches of the elms one or two bats were silently darting to and
fro; but she could not see the people, and she took it for granted that
no one could now observe what she was about. So she left the path, made
her way through the noiseless grass, and reached the small yew-tree
standing there among the grave-stones. The light was clear enough to
allow her to open the package and make sure that the sprig of rosemary
was within; then she rapidly, with her bare hand, stooped down and
scooped a little of the earth away; she imbedded the packet there,
repeating meanwhile the magic words; she replaced the earth, and brushed
the long grass over it, so that, indeed, as well as she could make out,
the spot looked as if it had not been disturbed in any manner. And then,
with a quick look toward the roof of the church to satisfy herself that
all the conditions had been fulfilled, she got swiftly back to the path
again, and so to the little gate, passing through the church-yard like a

"The deed is done, good Prue," said she, gayly, but in a tragic whisper,
as she linked her arm within the arm of her friend and set out homeward.
"Now are the dark powers of the earth at league to raise me up--what
think you, sweetheart?--such a gallant as the world ne'er saw! Ah! now
when you see him come riding in from Shottery, will not the town stare?
None of your logget-playing, tavern-jesting, come-kiss-me-Moll lovers,
but a true-sworn knight on his white war steed, in shining mail, with a
golden casque on his head and ostrich feathers, and on his silver shield
'St. George and England!'"

"You are light-hearted, Judith," said the timid and gentle-voiced
Puritan by her side; "and in truth there is nothing that you fear. Well,
I know not, but it will be in my prayers that no harm come of this



On the morning after the arrival of Judith's father he was out and
abroad with his bailiff at an early hour, so that she had no chance of
speaking to him; and when he returned to New Place he went into the
summer-house in the orchard, where it was the general habit and custom
to leave him undisturbed. And yet she only wished to ask permission to
take the mastiff with her as far as Shottery; and so, when she had
performed her share of the domestic duties, and got herself ready, she
went out through the back court and into the garden, thinking that he
would not mind so brief an interruption.

It was a fresh and pleasant morning, for there had been some rain in the
night, and now there was a slight breeze blowing from the south, and
the air was sweet with the scent of the lilac bushes. The sun lay warm
on the pink and white blossoms of the apple-trees and on the creamy
masses of the cherry; martins were skimming and shooting this way and
that, with now and again a rapid flight to the eaves of the barn; the
bees hummed from flower to flower, and everywhere there was a chirping,
and twittering, and clear singing of birds. The world seemed full of
light and color, of youth, and sweet things, and gladness: on such a
morning she had no fear of a refusal, nor was she much afraid to go near
the summer-house that the family were accustomed to hold sacred from

But when she passed into the orchard, and came in sight of it, there was
a sudden flash of anger in her eyes. She might have guessed--she might
have known. There, blocking up the doorway of the latticed and
green-painted tenement, was the figure of goodman Matthew; and the
little bandy-legged pippin-faced gardener was coolly resting on his
spade while he addressed his master within. Was there ever (she asked
herself) such hardihood, such audacity and impertinence? And then she
rapidly bethought her that now was a rare opportunity for putting in
practice a scheme of revenge that she had carefully planned. It is true
that she might have gone forward and laid her finger on Matthew's arm
(he was rather deaf), and so have motioned him away. But she was too
proud to do that. She would dispossess and rout him in another fashion.
So she turned and went quickly again into the house.

Now at this time Dr. Hall was making a round of professional visits at
some distance away in the country; and on such occasions Susanna Hall
and her little daughter generally came to lodge at New Place, where
Judith was found to be an eager and assiduous, if somewhat impatient and
unreasoning, nurse, playmate, and music-mistress. In fact, the young
mother had to remonstrate with her sister, and to point out that,
although baby Elizabeth was a wonder of intelligence and
cleverness--indeed, such a wonder as had never hitherto been beheld in
the world--still, a child of two years and three months or so could not
be expected to learn everything all at once; and that it was just as
reasonable to ask her to play on the lute as to imagine that she could
sit on the back of Don the mastiff without being held. However, Judith
was fond of the child, and that incomparable and astute small person had
a great liking for her aunt (in consequence of benefits received), and a
trust in her which the wisdom of maturer years might have modified; and
so, whenever she chose, Judith found no difficulty in obtaining
possession of this precious charge, even the young mother showing no
anxiety when she saw the two go away together.

So it was on this particular morning that Judith went and got hold of
little Bess Hall, and quickly smartened up her costume, and carried her
out into the garden. Then she went into the barn, outside of which was
the dog's kennel; she unclasped the chain and set free the huge,
slow-stepping, dun-colored beast, that seemed to know as well as any one
what was going forward; she affixed to his collar two pieces of silk
ribbon that did very well for reins; and then she sat little Bess Hall
on Don Roderigo's back, and gave her the reins to hold, and so they set
out for the summer-house.

On that May morning the wide and gracious realm of England--which to
some minds, and especially at that particular season of the year, seems
the most beautiful country of any in the world--this rich and variegated
England lay basking in the sunlight, with all its lush meadows and woods
and hedges in the full and fresh luxuriance of the spring; and the small
quiet hamlets were busy in a drowsy and easy-going kind of fashion; and
far away around the white coasts the blue sea was idly murmuring in; but
it may be doubted whether in all the length and breadth of that fair
land there was any fairer sight than this that the wit of a young woman
had devised. She herself was pleasant enough to look on (and she was
always particularly attentive about her attire when her father was at
home), and now she was half laughing as she thought of her forthcoming
revenge; she had dressed her little niece in her prettiest costume of
pink and white, and pink was the color of the silken reins; while the
great slow-footed Don bore his part in the pageant with a noble majesty,
sometimes looking up at Judith as if to ask whether he were going in the
right direction. And so the procession passed on between the white-laden
cherry-trees and the redder masses of the apple-blossom; and the
miniature Ariadne, sitting sideways on the back of the great beast,
betrayed no fear whatsoever; while her aunt Judith held her, walking by
her, and scolding her for that she would not sing.

"Tant sing, Aunt Judith," said she.

"You can sing well enough, you little goose, if you try," said her
aunt, with the unreasoning impatience of an unmarried young woman.
"What's the use of your going hunting without a hunting song? Come
along, now:

    'The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
    And it is well-nigh day;--'

try it, Bess!"

"Hunt is up, hunt is up," said the small rider; but she was occupied
with the reins, and clearly did not want to be bothered.

"No, no, that is not singing, little goose. Why, sing it like this, now:

    'The hunt is up, the hunt is up,
      And it is well-nigh day;--
    And Harry our king is gone hunting
      To bring his deer to bay!'"

However, the music lesson came to an abrupt end. They had by this time
almost reached the summer-house. Saturnine Matthew, gardener, who still
stood there, blocking up the doorway, had not heard them approach, but
his master within had. The next instant goodman Matthew suddenly found
himself discarded, dismissed, and treated, indeed, as if he were simply
non-existent in the world; for Judith's father, having paused for a
moment to regard from the doorway the pretty pageant that had been
arranged for him (and his face lit up, as it were, with pleasure at the
sight), was the next minute down beside his little granddaughter, with
one knee on the ground, so that he was just on a level with her
outstretched hands.

"What, Bess?" he said, as he caught her by both hands and feet. "You
imp, you inch, you elfin queen, you!--would you go a-hunting, then?"

"Send away Don--me want to ride the high horse," said the small Bess,
who had her own ideas as to what was most comfortable, and also secure.

"And so you shall, you sprite, you Ariel, you moonlight wonder!" he
exclaimed, as he perched her on his shoulder and rose to his feet again.
"The high horse, truly; indeed, you shall ride the high horse! Come,
now, we will go see how the King's mulberry thrives; that is the only
tree we have that is younger than yourself, you ancient, you beldame,
you witch of Endor, you!"

"Father," said Judith, seeing that he was going away perfectly
regardless of anybody or anything except his granddaughter, "may I take
the Don with me for an hour or so?"

"Whither away, wench--whither?" he asked, turning for a moment.

"To Shottery, father."

"Well, well," said he, and he turned again and went off.

"Come, Bess, you world's jewel, you, you shall ride with me to London
some day, and tell the King how his mulberry thrives; that shall you,
you fairy, you princess, you velvet-footed maidiekin! To London,
Bess--to London!"

Judith did not stay to regard them further; but she could not help
casting a look before she left at goodman Matthew, who stood there
discomfited, dispossessed, unheeded, annihilated, as it were. And then,
calling the dog after her, she went in by the back court and through the
house again (for Chapel Lane was in a sad condition after the rain of
the night, and was not a pleasant pathway even in the best of times).
And she was laughing to herself at Matthew's discomfiture, and she was
singing to herself as she went out by the front door,

    There's never a maid in all the town,
    But well she knows that malt's come down.

And in the street it was "Good-morrow to you, Master Jelleyman; the rain
will do good, will it not?" and, again, "Good-morrow, Neighbor Pike; do
you know that my father is come home?" and again, "Get you within the
doorway, little Parsons, else the wagon-wheels will be over thee." And
then, when she was in the freedom of the fields, she would talk blithely
to Don Roderigo, or snatch a buttercup here or there from among the
long, lush, warm grass, or return to her careless singing:

    For malt's come down, and malt's come down--
    Oh, well she knows that malt's come down!



Now it would be extremely difficult to say with what measure of faith or
scepticism, of expectation or mere curiosity, she was now proceeding
through these meadows to the spot indicated to her by the wizard.
Probably she could not have told herself, for what was really uppermost
in her mind was a kind of malicious desire to frighten her timid Puritan
friend with the wildness of such an adventure. And then she was pretty
safe. Ostensibly she was going to Shottery to pay a visit to her
grandmother; to look at the pansies, the wall-flowers, the
forget-me-nots in the little garden, and see how the currants and
raspberries were getting on. She could hardly expect a ghost to rise
from the ground in broad daylight. And if any mere strangers happened to
be coming along the lane leading in from the Bidford road, Don Roderigo
was a sufficient guardian. On the other hand, if there was anything real
and of verity in this witchcraft--which had sought her, and not she
it--was it not possible that the wizard might on one point have been
mistaken? If her future husband were indeed to appear, would it not be
much more likely to be Parson Blaise or Tom Quiney, or young Jelleyman,
or one or other of them that she knew in everyday life? But yet she said
to herself--and there was no doubt about her absolute conviction and
certainty on this point--that, even if she were to meet one of those
coming in from Evesham, not all the magic and mystery and wizardry in
the world would drive her to marry him but of her own free good-will and

When she had passed through the meadows and got near to the scattered
cottages and barns and orchards of the little hamlet, instead of going
forward to these, she bore away to the left, and eventually found
herself in a wide and wooded lane. She was less light of heart now; she
wished the place were not so still and lonely. It was a pretty lane,
this; the ruddy-gray road that wound between luxuriant hedges and tall
elms was barred across by alternate sunlight and shadow, and every now
and again she had glimpses of the rich and fertile country lying around,
with distant hills showing an outline serrated by trees along the pale,
summer-like sky. But there was not a human being visible anywhere, nor a
sound to be heard but the soft repeated note of the cuckoo. She wished
that there were some farm people near at hand, or a shepherd lad, or
anybody. She spoke to Roderigo, and her voice sounded strange--it
sounded as if she were afraid some one was listening. Nay, she began,
quite unreasonably, to be angry with the wizard. What business had he to
interfere with her affairs, and to drive her on to such foolish
enterprises? What right had he to challenge her to show that she was not
afraid? She was not afraid, she assured herself. She had as good a title
to walk along this lane as any one in Warwickshire. Only the thought
that as soon as she had got as far as the cross at the meeting of the
roads (this was all that had been demanded of her) she would go back to
Stratford by the public highway rather than return by this solitary
lane, for on the public highway there would be farm servants and laden
wains and carriers, and such-like comfortable and companionable objects.

The next minute--she had almost reached the cross--her heart bounded
with an unreasoning tremor of fear: she had suddenly become aware that a
stranger was entering the lane from the wide highway beyond. She had
only one glimpse of him, for instantly and resolutely she bent her eyes
on Don Roderigo, and was determined to keep them there until this person
should have passed; and yet that one lightning-like glimpse had told her
somewhat. The stranger was young, and of a distinguished bearing and
presence; and it certainly was a singular and unusual thing that a
gentleman (as he seemed to be, although his travelling cloak concealed
most of his attire) should be going afoot and unattended. But her only
concern was to let him pass. Ghost or man as he might be, she kept her
eyes on Don Roderigo. And then, to her increased alarm, she found that
the stranger was approaching her.

"I beseech your pardon, lady," said he, in a most respectful voice, "but
know you one in this town of the name of Master Shakespeare?"

She certainly was startled, and even inwardly aghast; but she had a
brave will. She was determined that nothing would drive her either to
scream or to run away. And indeed when she looked up and said, rather
breathlessly, "There be several of the name, sir," she was quickly
assured that this was no ghost at all, but a substantial and living and
breathing young man, tall and dark, of a pleasant expression of face,
though in truth there was nothing in those singularly black eyes of his
but the most ordinary and matter-of-fact inquiry.

"One Master William Shakespeare," said he, in answer to her, "that is
widely known."

"It is my father, sir, you speak of," said she, hastily and, in fact,
somewhat ashamed of her fright.

At this news he removed his hat and made her a gracious obeisance, yet
simply, and with not too elaborate a courtesy.

"Since I am so fortunate," said he, "may I beg you to direct me how I
shall find the house when I get to the town? I have a letter for him, as
you may see."

He took out a letter, and held it so that, if she liked, she might read
the superscription--"_To my loving good friend Master William
Shakespeare: Deliver these._" But Judith merely glanced at the writing.

"'Tis from Master Ben Jonson--that you know of, doubtless,
madam--commending me to your father. But perhaps," he added, directing
toward her a curious timid look of inquiry, "it were as well that I did
not deliver it?"

"How so, sir?" she asked.

"I am one that is in misfortune," said he, simply; "nay, in peril."

"Truly I am sorry for that, sir," said she, regarding him with frank
eyes of sympathy, for indeed there was a kind of sadness in his air,
that otherwise was distinguished enough, and even noble. And then she
added: "But surely that is the greater reason you should seek my

"If I dared--if I knew," he said, apparently to himself. And then he
addressed her: "If I make so bold, sweet lady, as to ask you if your
father be of the ancient faith--or well disposed toward that, even if he
do not openly profess it--I pray you set it down to my need and hard

She did not seem to understand.

"I would ask if he be not at heart with the Catholic gentlemen that are
looking for better times--for indeed I have heard it stated of him."

"Oh no, sir--surely not," said Judith, in some alarm, for she knew quite
enough about the penal laws against priests and recusants, and would not
have her father associated in any way with these, especially as she was
talking with a stranger.

"Nay, then, it were better I did not deliver the letter," said the young
man, with just a touch of hopelessness in his tone. "Under the
protection of your father I might have had somewhat more of liberty,
perchance; but I am content to remain as I am until I can get proofs
that will convince them in authority of my innocence; or mayhap I may
get away from the country altogether, and to my friends in Flanders. If
they would but set my good friend Walter Raleigh free from the Tower,
that also were well, for he and I might make a home for ourselves in
another land. I crave your pardon for detaining you, madam, and so bid
you farewell."

He raised his hat and made her a most respectful obeisance, and was
about to withdraw.

"Stay, sir," said she, scarcely knowing what she said, but with trouble
and anxiety in her gentle eyes.

Indeed, she was somewhat bewildered. So sudden had been the shock of
surprise that she had forgotten, or very nearly forgotten, all about
ghosts and wizards, about possible lovers or husbands, and only knew
that here, in actual fact, was a stranger--and a modest young stranger,
too--that was in trouble, and yet was afraid to seek shelter and aid
from her father. That he had no reason to be thus afraid she was certain
enough; and yet she dare not assume--she had no reason for
believing--that her father was secretly inclined to favor those that
were still hoping for the re-establishment of the Catholic faith. The
fact was that her father scarcely ever spoke of such matters. He would
listen, if he happened to be in the house, to any theological discussion
that might be going on, and he would regard this or that minister or
preacher calmly, as if trying to understand the man and his opinions;
but he would take no part in the talk; and when the discussion became
disputatious, as sometimes happened, and the combatants grew warm and
took to making hot assertions, he would rise and go out idly into the
garden, and look at the young apple-trees or talk to Don Roderigo.
Indeed, at this precise moment, Judith was quite incapable of deciding
for herself which party her father would most likely be in sympathy
with--the Puritans, who were sore at heart because of the failure of the
Hampton Court Conference, or the Catholics, who were no less bitter on
account of the severity of the penal laws--and a kind of vague wish
arose in her heart that she could ask Prudence Shawe (who paid more
attention to such matters, and was, in fact, wrapped up in them) before
sending this young man away with his letter of commendation unopened.

"Your brother-in-law, madam, Dr. Hall," said he, seeing that she did not
wish him to leave on the instant, "is well esteemed by the Catholic
gentry, as I hear."

Judith did not answer that; she had been rapidly considering what she
could do for one in distress.

"By your leave, sir, I would not have you go away without making
further inquiry," said she. "I will myself get to know how my father is
inclined, for indeed he never speaks of such matters to us; and sure I
am that, whatever be his opinion, no harm could come to you through
seeking his friendship. That I am sure of. If you are in distress, that
is enough; he will not ask you whence you come; nor has he censure for
any one; and that is a marvel in one that is so good a man himself, that
he hath never a word of blame for any one, neither for the highwayman
that was taken red-handed, as it were, last Sunday near to
Oxford--'Why,' says my father, 'if he take not life, and be a civil
gentleman, I grudge him not a purse or two'--nor for a lesser criminal,
my cousin Willie Hart, that but yesterday let the Portuguese
singing-bird escape from its cage. 'Well, well,' says my father, 'so
much the better, if only it can find food for itself.' Indeed, you need
fear naught but kindness and gentleness; and sure I am that he would be
but ill pleased to know that one coming from his friend Benjamin Jonson
had been in the neighborhood and gone away without having speech of

"But this is no matter of courtesy, sweet lady," said he. "It is of a
more dangerous cast; and I must be wary. If, now, you were inclined to
do as you say--to make some discreet inquiry as to your good father's

"Not from himself," said she, quickly, and with some color mounting to
her cheeks--"for he would but laugh at my speaking of such things--but
from my gossip and neighbor I think I could gain sufficient assurance
that would set your fears at rest."

"And how should I come to know?" he said, with some hesitation--for this
looked much like asking for another meeting.

But Judith was frank enough. If she meant to confer a kindness, she did
not stay to be too scrupulous about the manner of doing it.

"If it were convenient that you could be here this evening," said she,
after a moment's thought, "Willie Hart and myself often walk over to
Shottery after supper. Then could I let you know."

"But how am I to thank you for such a favor?" said he.

"Nay, it is but little," she answered, "to do for one that comes from my
father's friend."

"Rare Ben, as they call him," said he, more brightly. "And now I bethink
me, kind lady, that it ill becomes me to have spoken of nothing but my
own poor affairs on my first having the honor of meeting with you.
Perchance you would like to hear something of Master Jonson, and how he
does? May I accompany you on your homeward way for a space, if you are
returning to the town? The road here is quiet enough for one that is in
hiding, as well as for pleasant walking; and you are well escorted,
too," he added, looking at the grave and indifferent Don. "With such a
master as your father, and such a sweet mistress, I should not wonder if
he became as famous as Sir John Harrington's Bungey that the Prince
asked about. You have not heard of him?--the marvellous dog that Sir
John would intrust with messages all the way to the court at Greenwich;
and he would bring back the answer without more ado. I wonder not that
Prince Henry should have asked for an account of all his feats and

Now insensibly she had turned and begun to walk toward Shottery (for she
would not ask this unhappy young man to court the light of the open
highway), and as he respectfully accompanied her his talk became more
and more cheerful, so that one would scarcely have remembered that he
was in hiding, and in peril of his life mayhap. And he quickly found
that she was most interested in Jonson as being her father's friend and

"Indeed, I should not much marvel to hear of his being soon in this very
town of Stratford," said he, "for he has been talking of late--nay, he
has been talking this many a day of it, but who knows when the adventure
will take place?--of travelling all the way to Scotland on foot, and
writing an account of his discoveries on the road. And then he has a
mind to get to the lake of Lomond, to make it the scene of a fisher and
pastoral play, he says; and his friend Drummond will go with him; and
they speak of getting still farther to the north, and being the guests
of the new Scotch lord, Mackenzie of Kintail, that was made a peer last
winter. Nay, friend Ben, though at times he gibes at the Scots, at other
times he will boast of his Scotch blood--for his grandfather, as I have
heard, came from Annandale--and you will often hear him say that whereas
the late Queen was a niggard and close-fisted, this Scotch King is
lavish and a generous patron. If he go to Scotland, as is his purpose,
surely he will come by way of Stratford."

"It were ill done of him else," said Judith. But truly this young
gentleman was so bent on entertaining her with tales of his acquaintance
in London, and with descriptions of the court shows and pageants, that
she had not to trouble herself much to join in the conversation.

"A lavish patron the King has been to him truly," he continued, stooping
to pat the Don's head, as if he would make friends with him too, "what
with the masks, and revels, and so forth. Their last tiltings at Prince
Henry's barriers exceeded everything that had gone before, as I
think--and I marvel not that Ben was found at his best, seeing how the
King had been instructing him. Nay, but it was a happy conceit to have
our young Lord of the Isles addressed by the Lady of the Lake, and have
King Arthur hand him his armor out of the clouds----"

"But where was it, good sir?" said she (to show that she was
interested). And now he seemed so cheerful and friendly that she
ventured to steal a look at him. In truth, there was nothing very
doleful or tragic in his appearance. He was a handsomely made young man,
of about eight-and-twenty or so, with fine features, a somewhat pale and
sallow complexion (that distinguished him markedly from the rustic red
and white and sun-brown she was familiar with), and eyes of a singular
blackness and fire that were exceedingly respectful; but that could, as
any one might see, easily break into mirth. He was well habited too, for
now he had partly thrown his travelling cloak aside, and his slashed
doublet and hose and shoes were smart and clearly of a town fashion. He
wore no sword; in his belt there was only a small dagger, of Venetian
silver-work on the handle, and with a sheath of stamped crimson velvet.

"Dear lady, you must have heard of them," he continued, lightly--"I mean
of the great doings in the banqueting-house at Whitehall, when Prince
Henry challenged so many noble lords. 'Twas a brave sight, I assure you;
the King and Queen were there, and the ambassadors from Spain and
Venice, and a great and splendid assemblage. And then, when Ben's
speeches came to be spoken, there was Cyril Davy, that is said to have
the best woman's voice in London, as the Lady of the Lake, and he came
forward and said,

    'Lest any yet should doubt, or might mistake
    What Nymph I am, behold the ample Lake
    Of which I'm styled; and near it Merlin's tomb;'

and then King Arthur appeared, and our young Lord of the Isles had a
magic shield handed to him. Oh, 'twas a noble sight, I warrant you! And
I heard that the Duke of Lennox and the Earls of Arundel and Southampton
and all of them were but of one mind, that friend Ben had never done

Indeed, the young man, as they loitered along the pretty wooded lane in
the hush of the warm still noon (there was scarce enough wind to make a
rustle in the great branching elms), and as he talked of all manner of
things for the entertainment of this charming companion whom a happy
chance had thrown in his way, seemed to be well acquainted with the
court and its doings, and all the busy life of London. If she gathered
rightly, he had himself been present when the King and the nobles went
in the December of the previous year to Deptford to witness the
launching of the great ship of the East India Company--the _Trade's
Encrease_, it was called--for he described the magnificent banquet in
the chief cabin, and how the King gave to Sir Thomas Smith, the
Governor, a fine chain of gold, with his portrait set in a jewel, and
how angry his Majesty became when they found that the ship could not be
launched on account of the state of the tide. But when he again brought
in the name of Jonson, and said how highly the King thought of his
writings, and what his Majesty had said of this or the other device or
masque that had been commanded of him, Judith grew at length to be not
so pleased; and she said, with some asperity, "But the King holds my
father in honor also, for he wrote him a letter with his own hand."

"I heard not of that," said he, but of course without appearing to doubt
her word.

"Nay, but I saw it," said she--"I saw the letter; and I did not think it
well that my father should give it to Julius Shawe, for there are some
others that would have valued it as much as he--yes, and been more proud
of it, too."

"His own daughter, perchance?" he said gently.

Judith did not speak. It was a sore subject with her; indeed, she had
cried in secret, and bitterly, when she learned that the letter had been
casually given away, for her father seemed to put no great store by it.
However, that had nothing to do with this unhappy young gentleman that
was in hiding. And soon she had dismissed it from her mind, and was
engaged in fixing the exact time at which, as she hoped, she would be
able to bring him that assurance, or that caution, in the evening.

"I think it must be the province of women to be kind to the
unfortunate," said he, as they came in sight of the cottages; and he
seemed to linger and hesitate in his walk, as if he were afraid of going

"It is but a small kindness," said she; "and I hope it will bring you
and my father together. He has but just returned from London, and you
will not have much news to give him from his friend; but you will be
none the less welcome, for all are welcome to him, but especially those
whom he can aid."

"If I were to judge of the father by the daughter, I should indeed
expect a friendly treatment," said he, with much courtesy.

"Nay, but it is so simple a matter," said she.

"Then fare you well, Mistress Judith," said he, "if I may make so bold
as to guess at a name that I have heard named in London."

"Oh, no, sir?" said she, glancing up with some inquiry.

"But indeed, indeed," said he, gallantly. "And who can wonder? 'Twas
friend Ben that I heard speak of you; I marvel not that he carried your
praises so far. But now, sweet lady, that I see you would go--and I wish
not to venture nearer the village there--may I beseech of you at parting
a further grace and favor? It is that you would not reveal to any one,
no matter what trust you may put in them, that you have seen me or
spoken with me. You know not my name, it is true, though I would
willingly confide it to you--indeed, it is Leofric Hope, madam; but if
it were merely known that you had met with a stranger, curious eyes
might be on the alert."

"Fear not, sir," said she, looking at him in her frank way--and there
was a kind of friendliness, too, and sympathy in her regard. "Your
secret is surely safe in my keeping. I can promise you that none shall
know through me that you are in the neighborhood. Farewell, good sir. I
hope your fortunes will mend speedily."

"God keep you, sweet Mistress Judith," said he, raising his hat and
bowing low, and not even asking to be allowed to take her hand. "If my
ill fortune should carry it so that I see you not again, at least I will
treasure in my memory a vision of kindness and beauty that I trust will
remain forever there. Farewell, gentle lady; I am your debtor."

And so they parted; and he stood looking after her and the great dog as
they passed through the meadows; and she was making all the haste she
might, for although, when Judith's father was at home, the dinner hour
was at twelve instead of at eleven, still it would take her all the time
to be punctual, and she was scrupulous not to offend. He stood looking
after her as long as she was in sight, and then he turned away, saying
to himself:

"Why, our Ben did not tell us a tithe of the truth!--for why?--because
it was with his tongue, and not with his pen, that he described her. By
heaven, she is a marvel!--and I dare be sworn, now, that half the clowns
in Stratford imagine themselves in love with her."



When in the afternoon Judith sought out her gentle gossip, and with much
cautious tact and discretion began to unfold her perplexities to her,
Prudence was not only glad enough to hear nothing further of the
wizard--who seemed to have been driven out of Judith's mind altogether
by the actual occurrences of the morning--but also she became possessed
with a secret wonder and joy; for she thought that at last her dearest
and closest friend was awaking to a sense of the importance of spiritual
things, and that henceforth there would be a bond of confidence between
them far more true and abiding than any that had been before. But soon
she discovered that politics had a good deal to do with these hesitating
inquiries; and at length the bewildered Prudence found the conversation
narrowing and narrowing itself to this definite question: Whether,
supposing there were a young man charged with complicity in a Catholic
plot, or perhaps having been compromised in some former affair of the
kind, and supposing him to appeal to her father, would he, Judith's
father, probably be inclined to shelter him and conceal him, and give
him what aid was possible until he might get away from the country?

"But what do you mean, Judith?" said Prudence, in dismay. "Have you seen
any one? What is't you mean? Have you seen one of the desperate men that
were concerned with Catesby?"

Indeed, it was not likely that either of these two Warwickshire maidens
had already forgotten the terrible tidings that rang through the land
but a few years before, when the Gunpowder Treason was discovered; nor
how the conspirators fled into this very county; nor yet how in the
following January, on a bitterly cold and snowy day, there was brought
into the town the news of the executions in St. Paul's Churchyard and at
Westminster. And, in truth, when Prudence Shawe mentioned Catesby's
name, Judith's cheek turned pale. It was but for an instant. She
banished the ungenerous thought the moment that it occurred to her. No,
she was sure the unhappy young man who had appealed to her compassion
could not have been concerned in any such bloody enterprise. His speech
was too gentle for that. Had he not declared that he only wanted time to
prove his innocence? It is true he had said something about his friends
in Flanders, and often enough had she heard the Puritan divines
denouncing Flanders as the very hot-bed of the machinations of the
Jesuits; but that this young man might have friends among the Jesuits
did not appear to her as being in itself a criminal thing, any more than
the possibility of his being a Catholic was sufficient of itself to
deprive him of her frank and generous sympathy.

"I may not answer you yea nor nay, sweet mouse," said she; "but assure
yourself that I am not in league with any desperate villain. I but put a
case. We live in quiet times now, do we not, good Prue? and I take it
that those who like not the country are free to leave it. But tell me,
if my father were to speak openly, which of the parties would he most
affect? And how stands he with the King? Nay, the King himself, of what
religion is he at heart, think you?"

"These be questions!" said Prudence, staring aghast at such ignorance.

"I but use my ears," said Judith, indifferently, "and the winds are not
more variable than the opinions that one listens to. Well you know it,
Prue. Here is one that says the King is in conscience a papist, as his
mother was; and that he gave a guarantee to the Catholic gentry ere he
came to the throne; and that soon or late we shall have mass again; and
then comes another with the story that the Pope is hot and angry because
the King misuseth him in his speech, calling him Antichrist and the like
and that he has complained to the French King on the matter, and that
there is even talk of excommunication. What can one believe? How is one
to know? Indeed, good mouse, you would have me more anxious about such
things; but why should one add to one's difficulties? I am content to be
like my father, and stand aside from the quarrel."

"Your wit is too great for me, dear Judith," her friend said, rather
sadly; "and I will not argue with you. But well I know there may be a
calmness that is of ignorance and indifference, and that is slothful and
sinful; and there may be a calmness that is of assured wisdom and
knowledge of the truth, and that I trust your father has attained to.
That he should keep aside from disputes, I can well understand."

"But touching the King, dear cousin," said Judith, who had her own ends
in view. "How stands my father with the King and his religion? Nay, but
I know, and every one knows, that in all other matters they are friends;
for your brother has the King's letter----"

"That I wish you had yourself, Judith, since your heart is set upon it,"
said her companion, gently.

Judith did not answer that.

"But as regards religion, sweet Prue, what think you my father would
most favor, were there a movement any way?--a change to the ancient
faith perchance?"

She threw out the question with a kind of studied carelessness, as if it
were a mere matter of speculation; but there was a touch of warmth in
Prudence's answer:

"What, then, Judith? You think he would disturb the peace of the land,
and give us over again to the priests and their idol-worship? I trow
not." Then something seemed to occur to her suddenly. "But if you have
any doubt, Judith, I can set your mind at rest--of a surety I can."

"How, then, dear mouse?"

"I will tell you the manner of it. No longer ago than yesterday evening
I was seated at the window reading--it was the volume that Dr. Hall
brought me from Worcester, and that I value more and more the longer I
read it--and your father came into the house asking for Julius. So I put
the book on the table, with the face downward, and away I went to seek
for my brother. Well, then, sweet cousin, when I came back to the room,
there was your father standing at the window reading the book that I had
left, and I would not disturb him; and when he had finished the page,
he turned, saying, 'Good bishop! good bishop!' and putting down the book
on the table just as he had found it. Dear Judith, I hope you will think
it no harm and no idle curiosity that made me take up the book as soon
as my brother was come in, and examine the passage, and mark it----"

"Harm!--bless thee, sweetheart!" Judith exclaimed. And she added,
eagerly: "But have you the book? Will you read it to me? Is it about the
King? Do, dear cousin, read to me what it was that my father approved.
Beshrew me! but I shall have to take to school lessons, after all, lest
I outlive even your gentle patience."

Straightway Prudence had gone to a small cupboard of boxes in which she
kept all her most valued possessions, and from thence she brought a
stout little volume, which, as Judith perceived, had a tiny book-mark of
satin projecting from the red-edged leaves.

"Much comfort indeed have I found in these Comfortable Notes," said she.
"I wish, Judith, you, that can think of everything, would tell me how I
am to show to Dr. Hall that I am more and more grateful to him for his
goodness. What can I do?--words are such poor things!"

"But the passage, good Prue--what was't he read? I pray you let me
hear," said Judith, eagerly; for here, indeed, might be a key to many

"Listen, then," said her companion, opening the book. "The Bishop, you
understand, Judith, is speaking of the sacrifices the Jews made to the
Lord, and he goes on to say:

"'Thus had this people their peace-offerings; that is, duties of
thankfulness to their God for the peace and prosperity vouchsafed unto
them. And most fit it was that He should often be thanked for such
favors. The like mercies and goodness remain to us at this day: are we
either freed from the duty or left without means to perform it? No, no;
but as they had oxen and kine, and sheep and goats, then appointed and
allowed, so have we the calves of our lips and the sacrifice of
thanksgiving still remaining for us, and as strictly required of us as
these (in those days) were of them. Offer them up, then, with a free
heart and with a feeling soul. Our peace is great; our prosperity
comfortable; our God most sweet and kind; and shall we not offer? The
public is sweet, the private is sweet, and forget you to offer? We lay
us down and take our rest, and this our God maketh us dwell in safety.
Oh, where is your offering? We rise again and go to our labor, and a dog
is not heard to move his tongue among us: owe we no offering? O Lord, O
Lord, make us thankful to Thee for these mercies: the whole state we
live in, for the common and our several souls, for several mercies now
many years enjoyed! O touch us; O turn us from our fearful dulness, and
abusing of this so sweet, so long, and so happy peace! Continue thy
sacred servant'--surely you know, Judith, whom he means--'the chiefest
means under Thee of this our comfort, and ever still furnish him with
wise helps, truly fearing Thee, and truly loving him. Let our heads go
to the grave in this peace, if it may be Thy blessed pleasure, and our
eyes never see the change of so happy an estate. Make us thankful and
full of peace-offerings; be Thou still ours, and ever merciful. Amen!

"And what said he, sweet Prue--what said my father?" Judith asked,
though her eyes were distant and thoughtful.

"'Good bishop! good bishop!' said he, as if he were right well pleased,
and he put down the book on the table. Nay, you may be certain, Judith,
that your father would have naught to do with the desperate men that
would fain upset the country, and bring wars among us, and hand us over
to the Pope again. I have heard of such; I have heard that many of the
great families have but a lip loyalty, and have malice at their heart,
and would willingly plunge the land in blood if they could put the
priests in power over us again. Be sure your father is not of that

"But if one were in distress, Prudence," said the other, absently,
"perchance with a false charge hanging over him that could be
disproved--say that one were in hiding, and only anxious to prove his
innocence, or to get away from the country, is my father likely to look
coldly on such a one in misfortune? No, no, surely, sweet mouse!"

"But of whom do you speak, Judith?" exclaimed her friend, regarding her
with renewed alarm. "It cannot be that you know of such a one? Judith, I
beseech you speak plainly! You have met with some stranger that is
unknown to your own people? You said you had but put a case, but now you
speak as if you knew the man. I beseech you, for the love between us,
speak plainly to me, Judith!"

"I may not," said the other rising. And then she added, more lightly,
"Nay, have no fear, sweet Prue; if there be any danger, it is not I that
run it, and soon there will be no occasion for my withholding the
secret from you, if secret there be."

"I cannot understand you, Judith," said her friend, with the pale,
gentle face full of a tender wistfulness and anxiety.

"Such timid eyes!" said Judith, laughing good-naturedly. "Indeed,
Prudence, I have seen no ghost, and goodman Wizard has failed me
utterly; nor sprite nor phantom has been near me. In sooth I have buried
poor Tom's bit of rosemary to little purpose. And now I must get me
home, for Master Parson comes this afternoon, and I will but wait the
preaching to hear Susan sing: 'tis worth the penance. Farewell, sweet
mouse; get you rid of your alarm. The sky will clear all in good time."

So they kissed each other, and she left; still in much perplexity, it is
true, but nevertheless resolved to tell the young man honestly and
plainly the result of her inquiries.

As it turned out, she was to hear something more about the King and
politics and religion that afternoon; for when she got home to New
Place, Master Blaise was already there, and he was eagerly discussing
with Judith's mother and her sister the last news that had been brought
from London; or rather he was expounding it, with emphatic assertions
and denunciations that the women-folk received for the most part with a
mute but quite apparent sympathy. He was a young man of about
six-and-twenty, rather inclined to be stout, but with strongly lined
features, fair complexion and hair, an intellectual forehead, and sharp
and keen gray eyes. The one point that recommended him to Judith's
favor--which he openly and frankly, but with perfect independence,
sought--was the uncompromising manner in which he professed his
opinions. These frequently angered her, and even at times roused her to
passionate indignation; and yet, oddly enough, she had a kind of lurking
admiration for the very honesty that scorned to curry favor with her by
means of any suppression or evasion. It may be that there was a trace of
the wisdom of the serpent in this attitude of the young parson, who was
shrewd-headed as well as clear-eyed, and was as quick as any to read the
fearless quality of Judith's character. At all events, he would not
yield to any of her prejudices; he would not stoop to flatter her; he
would not abate one jot of his protests against the vanity and pride,
the heathenish show and extravagance, of women; the heinousness and
peril of indifferentism in matters of doctrine; and the sinfulness of
the life of them that countenanced stage plays and such like devilish
iniquities. It was this last that was the real stumbling-block and
contention between them. Sometimes Judith's eyes burned. Once she rose
and got out of the room. "If I were a man, Master Parson," she was
saying to herself, with shut teeth, "by the life of me I would whip you
from Stratford town to Warwick!" And indeed there was ordinarily a kind
of armed truce between these two, so that no stranger or acquaintance
could very easily decide what their precise relations were, although
every one knew that Judith's mother and sister held the young divine in
great favor, and would fain have had him of the family.

At this moment of Judith's entrance he was much exercised, as has been
said, on account of the news that was but just come from London--how
that the King was driving at still further impositions because of the
Commons begrudging him supplies; and naturally Master Blaise warmly
approved of the Commons, that had been for granting the liberties to the
Puritans which the King had refused. And not only was this the
expression of a general opinion on the subject, but he maintained as an
individual--and as a very emphatic individual too--that the prerogatives
of the crown, the wardships and purveyances and what not, were monstrous
and abominable, and a way of escape from the just restraint of
Parliament, and he declared with a sudden vehemence that he would rather
perish at the stake than contribute a single benevolence to the royal
purse. Judith's mother, a tall, slight, silver-haired woman, with eyes
that had once been of extraordinary beauty, but now were grown somewhat
sad and worn, and her daughter Susanna Hall, who was darker than her
sister Judith as regarded hair and eyebrows, but who had blue-gray eyes
of a singular clearness and quickness and intelligence, listened and
acquiesced; but perhaps they were better pleased when they found the
young parson come out of that vehement mood; though still he was sharp
of tongue and sarcastic, saying as an excuse for the King that now he
was revenging himself on the English Puritans for the treatment he had
received at the hands of the Scotch Presbyterians, who had harried him
not a little. He had not a word for Judith; he addressed his discourse
entirely to the other two. And she was content to sit aside, for indeed
this discontent with the crown on the part of the Puritans was nothing
strange or novel to her, and did not in the least help to solve her
present perplexity.

And now the maids (for Judith's father would have no serving-men, nor
stable-men, nor husbandmen of any grade whatever, come within-doors; the
work of the house was done entirely by women-folk) entered to prepare
the long oaken table for supper, seeing which Master Blaise suggested
that before that meal it might be as well to devote a space to divine
worship. So the maids were bidden to stay their preparations, and to
remain, seating themselves dutifully on a bench brought crosswise, and
the others sat at the table in their usual chairs, while the preacher
opened the large Bible that had been fetched for him, and proceeded to
read the second chapter of the Book of Jeremiah, expounding as he went
along. This running commentary was, in fact, a sermon applied to all the
evils of the day, as the various verses happened to offer texts; and the
ungodliness and the vanity and the turning away from the Lord that
Jeremiah lamented were attributed in no unsparing fashion to the town of
Stratford and the inhabitants thereof: "Hear ye the word of the Lord, O
house of Jacob, and all the families of the house of Israel: thus saith
the Lord, What iniquity have your fathers found in me, that they are
gone far from me, and have walked after vanity, and are become vain?"
Nor did he spare himself and his own calling: "The priests said not,
Where is the Lord? and they that should minister the law knew me not:
the pastors also offended against me, and the prophets prophesied in
Baal, and went after things that did not profit." And there were bold
paraphrases and inductions, too: "What hast thou now to do in the way of
Egypt, to drink the waters of Nilus? or what makest thou in the way of
Asshur, to drink the waters of the river?" Was not that the seeking of
strange objects--of baubles, and jewels, and silks, and other
instruments of vanity--from abroad, from the papist land of France, to
lure the eye and deceive the senses, and turn away the mind from the
dwelling on holy things? "Can a maid forget her ornament, or the bride
her attire? yet my people have forgotten me days without number." This
was, indeed, a fruitful text, and there is no doubt that Judith was
indirectly admonished to regard the extreme simplicity of her mother's
and sister's attire; so that there can be no excuse whatever for her
having in her mind at this very moment some vague fancy that as soon as
supper was over she would go to her own chamber and take out a certain
beaver hat. She did not often wear it, for it was a present that her
father had once brought her from London, and it was ranked among her
most precious treasures; but surely on this evening (she was saying to
herself) it was fitting that she should wear it, not from any personal
vanity, but to the end that this young gentleman, who seemed to know
several of her father's acquaintances in London, should understand that
the daughter of the owner of New Place was no mere country wench,
ignorant of what was in the fashion. It is grievous that she should have
been concerned with such frivolous thoughts. However, the chapter came
to an end in due time.

Then good Master Blaise said that they would sing the
One-hundred-and-thirty-seventh Psalm; and this was truly what Judith had
been waiting for. She herself was but an indifferent singer. She could
do little more than hum such snatches of old songs as occurred to her
during her careless rambles, and that only for her private ear; but her
sister Susanna had a most noble, pure, and clear contralto voice, that
could at any time bring tears to Judith's eyes, and that, when she
joined in the choral parts of the service in church, made many a young
man's heart tremble strangely. In former days she used to sing to the
accompaniment of her lute; but that was given over now. Once or twice
Judith had brought the discarded instrument to her, and said,

"Susan, sweet Susan, for once, for once only, sing to me '_The rose is
from my garden gone_.'"

"Why, then--to make you cry, silly one?" the elder sister would answer.
"What profit those idle tears, child, that are but a luxury and a sinful

"Susan, but once!" Judith would plead (with the tears almost already in
her eyes)--"once only, '_The rose is from my garden gone_.' There is
none can sing it like you."

But the elder sister was obdurate, as she considered was right; and
Judith, as she walked through the meadows in the evening, would
sometimes try the song for herself, thinking, or endeavoring to think,
that she could hear in it the pathetic vibrations of her sister's voice.
Indeed, at this moment the small congregation assembled around the table
would doubtless have been deeply shocked had they known with what a
purely secular delight Judith was now listening to the words of the
psalm. There was but one Bible in the house, so that Master Blaise read
out the first two lines (lest any of the maids might have a lax memory):

    "When as we sat in Babylon,
      The rivers round about;"

and that they sang; then they proceeded in like manner:

    "And in remembrance of Sion,
      The tears for grief burst out;
    We hanged our harps and instruments
      The willow-trees upon;
    For in that place men for their use
      Had planted many a one."

It is probable, indeed, that Judith was so wrapped up in her sister's
singing that it did not occur to her to ask herself whether this psalm,
too, had not been chosen with some regard to the good preacher's
discontent with those in power. At all events, he read out, and they
sang, no further than these two verses:

    "Then they to whom we prisoners were,
      Said to us tauntingly:
    Now let us hear your Hebrew songs
      And pleasant melody.
    Alas! (said we) who can once frame
      His sorrowful heart to sing
    The praises of our loving God
      Thus under a strange king?

    "But yet if I Jerusalem
      Out of my heart let slide,
    Then let my fingers quite forget
      The warbling harp to guide;
    And let my tongue within my mouth
      Be tied forever fast,
    If that I joy before I see
      Thy full deliverance past."

Then there was a short and earnest prayer; and, that over, the maids set
to work to get forward the supper; and young Willie Hart was called in
from the garden--Judith's father being away at Wilmcote on some
important business there. In due course of time, supper being finished,
and a devout thanksgiving said, Judith was free; and instantly she fled
away to her own chamber to don her bravery. It was not vanity (she again
said to herself), it was that her father's daughter should show that she
knew what was due to him and his standing in the town; and indeed, as
she now regarded herself in the little mirror--she wore a half-circle
farthingale, and had on one of her smartest ruffs--and when she set on
her head of short brown curls this exceedingly pretty hat (it was a
gray beaver above, and underneath it was lined with black satin, and all
around the rim was a row of hollow brass beads that tinkled like small
bells), she was quite well satisfied with her appearance, and that she
was fairly entitled to be. Then she went down and summoned her
sweetheart Willie, to act as her companion and protector and ally; and
together these two passed forth from the house--into the golden clear



Always, when she got out into the open air, her spirits rose into a pure
content; and now, as they were walking westward through the peaceful
meadows, the light of the sunset was on her face; and there was a kind
of radiance there, and careless happiness, that little Willie Hart
scarce dared look upon, so abject and wistful was the worship that the
small lad laid at his pretty cousin's feet. He was a sensitive and
imaginative boy; and the joy and crown of his life was to be allowed to
walk out with his cousin Judith, her hand holding his; and it did not
matter to him whether she spoke to him, or whether she was busy with her
private thinking, and left him to his own pleasure and fancies. He had
many of these; for he had heard of all kinds of great and noble
persons--princesses, and empresses, and queens; but to him his cousin
Judith was the Queen of queens; he could not believe that any one ever
was more beautiful--or more gentle and lovable, in a magical and
mystical way--than she was; and in church, on the quiet Sunday mornings,
when the choir was singing, and all else silence, and dreams were busy
in certain small brains, if there were any far-away pictures of angels
in white and shining robes, coming toward one through rose-red celestial
gardens, be sure they had Judith's eyes and the light and witchery of
these; and that, when they spoke (if such wonderful creatures vouchsafed
to speak), it was with the softness of Judith's voice. So it is not to
be conceived that Judith, who knew something of this mute and secret
adoration, had any malice in her heart when, on this particular
evening, she began to question the boy as to the kind of sweetheart he
would choose when he was grown up: the fact being that she spoke from
idleness, and a wish to be friendly and companionable, her thoughts
being really occupied elsewhere.

"Come now, Willie, tell me," said she, "what sort of one you will
choose, some fifteen or twenty years hence, when you are grown up to be
a man, and will be going abroad from place to place. In Coventry,
perchance, you may find her, or over at Evesham, or in Warwick, or
Worcester, or as far away as Oxford; in all of them are plenty of pretty
maidens to be had for the asking, so you be civil-spoken enough, and
bear yourself well. Now tell me your fancy, sweetheart; what shall her
height be?"

"Why, you know, Judith," said he, rather shamefacedly. "Just your

"My height?" she said, carelessly. "Why, that is neither the one way nor
the other. My father says I am just as high as his heart; and with that
I am content. Well, now, her hair--what color of hair shall she have?"

"Like yours, Judith; and it must come round about her ears like yours,"
said he, glancing up for a moment.

"Eyes: must they be black, or gray, or brown, or blue? nay, you shall
have your choice, sweetheart Willie; there be all sorts, if you go far
enough afield and look around you. What eyes do you like, now?"

"You know well, Judith, there is no one has such pretty eyes as you;
these are the ones I like, and no others."

"Bless the boy!--would you have her to be like me?"

"Just like you, Judith--altogether," said he, promptly; and he added,
more shyly, "for you know there is none as pretty, and they all of them
say that."

"Marry, now!" said she, with a laugh. "Here be news. What? When you go
choosing your sweetheart, would you pick out one that had as large hands
as these?"

She held forth her hands, and regarded them; and yet with some
complacency, for she had put on a pair of scented gloves which her
father had brought her from London, and these were beautifully
embroidered with silver, for he knew her tastes, and that she was not
afraid to wear finery, whatever the preachers might say.

"Why, you know, Judith," said he, "that there is none has such pretty
hands as you, nor so white, nor so soft."

"Heaven save us! am I perfection, then?" she cried (but she was
pleased). "Must she be altogether like me?"

"Just so, Cousin Judith; altogether like you; and she must wear pretty
things like you, and walk as you walk, and speak like you, else I shall
not love her nor go near her, though she were the Queen herself."

"Well said, sweetheart Willie!--you shall to the court some day, if you
can speak so fair. And shall I tell you, now, how you must woo and win
such a one?" she continued, lightly. "It may be you shall find her here
or there--in a farm-house, perchance; or she may be a great lady with
her coach; or a wench in an ale-house; but if she be as you figure her,
this is how you shall do: you must not grow up to be too nice and fine
and delicate-handed; you must not bend too low for her favor; but be her
lord and governor; and you must be ready to fight for her, if need there
be--yes, you shall not suffer a word to be said in dispraise of her; and
for slanderers you must have a cudgel and a stout arm withal; and yet
you must be gentle with her, because she is a woman; and yet not too
gentle, for you are a man; and you must be no slape-face, with whining
through the nose that we are all devilish and wicked and the children of
sin; and you must be no tavern-seeker, with oaths and drunken jests and
the like; and when you find her you must be the master of her--and yet a
gentle master: marry, I cannot tell you more; but, as I hope for heaven,
sweet Willie, you will do well and fairly if she loves thee half as much
as I do."

And she patted the boy's head. What sudden pang was it that went through
his heart?

"They say you are going to marry Parson Blaise, Judith," said he,
looking up at her.

"Do they, now?" said she, with a touch of color in her face. "They are
too kind that would take from me the business of choosing for myself."

"Is it true, Judith?"

"It is but idle talk; heed it not, sweetheart," said she, rather
sharply. "I would they were as busy with their fingers as with their
tongues; there would be more wool spun in Warwickshire!"

But here she remembered that she had no quarrel with the lad, who had
but innocently repeated the gossip he had heard; and so she spoke to him
in a more gentle fashion; and, as they were now come to a parting of the
ways, she said that she had a message to deliver, and bade him go on by
himself to the cottage, and have some flowers gathered for her from out
of the garden by the time she should arrive. He was a biddable boy, and
went on without further question. Then she turned off to the left, and
in a few minutes was in the wide and wooded lane where she was to meet
the young gentleman that had appealed to her friendliness.

And there, sure enough, he was; and as he came forward, hat in hand, to
greet her, those eloquent black eyes of his expressed so much pleasure
(and admiration of a respectful kind) that Judith became for a moment a
trifle self-conscious, and remembered that she was in unusually brave
attire. There may have been something else: some quick remembrance of
the surprise and alarm of the morning; and also--in spite of her
determination to banish such unworthy fancies--some frightened doubt as
to whether, after all, there might not be a subtle connection between
her meeting with this young gentleman and the forecasts of the wizard.
This was but for a moment, but it confused her in what she had intended
to say (for, in crossing the meadows, she had been planning out certain
speeches as well as talking idly to Willie Hart), and she was about to
make some stumbling confession to the effect that she had obtained no
clear intelligence from her gossip Prudence Shawe, when the young
gentleman himself absolved her from all further difficulty.

"I beseech your pardon, sweet lady," said he, "that I have caused you so
much trouble, and that to no end; for I am of a mind now not to carry
the letter to your father, whatever hopes there might be of his sympathy
and friendship."

She stared in surprise.

"Nay, but, good sir," said she, "since you have the letter, and are so
near to Stratford, that is so great a distance from London, surely it
were a world of pities you did not see my father. Not that I can
honestly gather that he would have any favor for a desperate enterprise
upsetting the peace of the land----"

"I am in none such, Mistress Judith, believe me," said he, quickly. "But
it behooves me to be cautious; and I have heard that within the last few
hours which summons me away. If I were inclined to run the risk, there
is no time at this present: and what I can do now is to try to thank you
for the kindness you have shown to one that has no habit of forgetting."

"You are going away forthwith?" said she.

There was no particular reason why she should be sorry at his departure
from the neighborhood, except that he was an extraordinarily
gentle-spoken young man, and of a courteous breeding, whom her father,
as she thought, would have been pleased to welcome as being commended
from his friend Ben Jonson. Few visitors came to New Place; the faces to
be met with there were grown familiar year after year. It seemed a pity
that this stranger--and so fair-spoken a stranger, moreover--should be
close at hand, without making her father's acquaintance.

"Yes, sweet lady," said he, in the same respectful way, "it is true that
I must quit my present lodging for a time; but I doubt whether I could
find anywhere a quieter or securer place--nay, I have no reason to fear
you; I will tell you freely that it is Bassfield Farm, that is on the
left before you go down the hill to Bidford; and it is like enough I may
come back thither, when that I see how matters stand with me in London."

And then he glanced at her with a certain diffidence.

"Perchance I am too daring," said he; "and yet your courtesy makes me
bold. Were I to communicate with you when I return----"

He paused, and his hesitation well became him; it was more eloquent in
its modesty than many words.

"That were easily done," said Judith at once, and with her usual
frankness; "but I must tell you, good sir, that any written message you
might send me I should have to show to my friend and gossip Prudence
Shawe, that reads and writes for me, being so skilled in that; and when
you said that to no one was the knowledge to be given that you were in
this neighborhood----"

"Sweet lady," said he, instantly, with much gratitude visible in those
handsome dark eyes, "if I may so far trespass on your goodness, I would
leave that also within your discretion. One that you have chosen to be
your friend must needs be trustworthy--nay, I am sure of that."

"But my father too, good sir----"

"Nay, not so," said he, with some touch of entreaty in his voice. "Take
it not ill of me, but one that is in peril must use precautions for his
safety, even though they savor of ill manners and suspicion."

"As you will, sir--as you will; I know little of such matters," Judith
said. "But yet I know that you do wrong to mistrust my father."

"Nay, dearest lady," he said, quickly, "it is you that do me wrong to
use such words. I mistrust him not; but, indeed, I dare not disclose to
him the charge that is brought against me until I have clearer proofs of
my innocence, and these I hope to have in time, when I may present
myself to your father without fear. Meanwhile, sweet Mistress Judith, I
can but ill express my thanks to you that you have vouchsafed to lighten
the tedium of my hiding through these few words that have passed between
us. Did you know the dulness of the days at the farm--for sad thoughts
are but sorry companions--you would understand my gratitude toward

"Nay, nothing, good sir, nothing," said she; and then she paused, in
some difficulty. She did not like to bid him farewell without any
reference whatsoever to the future; for in truth she wished to hear more
of him, and how his fortunes prospered. And yet she hesitated about
betraying so much interest--of however distant and ordinary a kind--in
the affairs of a stranger. Her usual frank sympathy conquered: besides,
was not this unhappy young man the friend of her father's friend?

"Is it to the farm that you return when you have been to London?" she

"I trust so: better security I could not easily find elsewhere; and my
well-wishers have means of communication with me, so that I can get the
news there. Pray Heaven I may soon be quit of this skulking in corners!
I like it not: it is not the life of a free man."

"I hope your fortunes will mend, sir, and speedily," said she, and there
was an obvious sincerity in her voice.

"Why," said he, with a laugh--for, indeed, this young man, to be one in
peril of his life, bore himself with a singularly free and undaunted
demeanor; and he was not looking around him in a furtive manner, as if
he feared to be observed, but was allowing his eyes to rest on Judith's
eyes, and on the details of her costume (which he seemed to approve), in
a quite easy and unconcerned manner--"the birds and beasts we hunt are
allowed to rest at times, but a man in hiding has no peace nor freedom
from week's end to week's end--no, nor at any moment of the day or
night. And if the good people that shelter him are not entirely of his
own station, and if he cares to have but little speech with them, and if
the only book in the house be the family Bible, then the days are like
to pass slowly with him. Can you wonder, sweet Mistress Judith," he
continued, turning his eyes to the ground in a modest manner, "that I
shall carry away the memory of this meeting with you as a treasure, and
dwell on it, and recall the kindness of each word you have spoken?"

"In truth, no, good sir," she said, with a touch of color in her cheeks,
that caught the warm golden light shining over from the west. "I would
not have you think them of any importance, except the hope that matters
may go well with you."

"And if they should," said he, "or if they should go ill, and if I were
to presume to think that you cared to know them, when I return to
Bassfield I might make so bold as to send you some brief tidings,
through your friend Mistress Prudence Shawe, that I am sure must be
discreet, since she has won your confidence. But why should I do so?" he
added, after a second. "Why should I trouble you with news of one whose
good or evil fortune cannot concern you?"

"Nay, sir, I wish you well," said she, simply, "and would fain hear
better tidings of your condition. If you may not come at present to New
Place, where you would have better counsel than I can give you, at least
you may remember that there is one in the household there that will be
glad when she hears of your welfare, and better pleased still when she
learns that you are free to make her father's friendship."

This was clearly a dismissal; and after a few more words of gratitude on
his part (he seemed almost unable to take away his eyes from her face,
or to say all that he would fain say of thanks for her gracious
intervention and sympathy) they parted; and forthwith Judith--now with a
much lighter heart, for this interview had cost her not a little
embarrassment and anxiety--hastened away back through the lane in the
direction of the barns and gardens of Shottery. All these occurrences of
the day had happened so rapidly that she had had but little time to
reflect over them; but now she was clearly glad that she should be able
to talk over the whole affair with Prudence Shawe. There would be
comfort in that, and also safety; for, if the truth must be told, that
wild and bewildering fancy that perchance the wizard had prophesied
truly would force itself on her mind in a disquieting manner. But she
strove to reason herself and laugh herself out of such imaginings. She
had plenty of courage and a strong will. From the first she had made
light of the wizard's pretensions; she was not going to alarm herself
about the possible future consequences of this accidental meeting. And,
indeed, when she recalled the particulars of that meeting, she came to
think that the circumstances of the young man could not be so very
desperate. He did not speak nor look like one in imminent peril; his gay
description of the masques and entertainments of the court was not the
talk of a man seriously and really in danger of his life. Perhaps he had
been in some thoughtless escapade, and was waiting for the bruit of it
to blow over: perhaps he was unused to confinement, and may have
exaggerated (for this also occurred to her) somewhat in order to win her
sympathy. But, anyhow, he was in some kind of misfortune or trouble, and
she was sorry for him; and she thought that if Prudence Shawe could see
him, and observe how well-bred and civil-spoken and courteous a young
gentleman he seemed to be, she, too, would pity the dulness of the life
he must be leading at the farm, and be glad to do anything to relieve
such a tedium. In truth, by the time Judith was drawing near her
grandmother's cottage, she had convinced herself that there was no dark
mystery connected with this young man; that she had not been holding
converse with any dangerous villain or conspirator; and that soon
everything would be cleared up, and perhaps he himself present himself
at New Place, with Ben Jonson's letter in his hand. So she was in a
cheerful enough frame of mind when she arrived at the cottage.

This was a picturesque little building of brick and timber, with a
substantial roof of thatch, and irregularly placed small windows; and it
was prettily set in front of a wild and variegated garden, and of course
all the golden glow of the west was now flooding the place with its
beautiful light, and causing the little rectangular panes in the open
casements to gleam like jewels. And here, at the wooden gate of the
garden, was Willie Hart, who seemed to have been using the time
profitably, for he had a most diverse and sweet-scented gathering of
flowers and herbs of a humble and familiar kind--forget-me-nots, and
pansies, and wall-flower, and mint, and sweet-brier, and the like--to
present to his pretty cousin.

"Well done, sweetheart? and are all these for me?" said she, as she
passed within the little gate, and stood for a moment arranging and
regarding them. "What, then, what is this?--what mean you by it, Cousin

"By what, Cousin Judith?" said the small boy, looking up with his
wondering and wistful eyes.

"Why," said she, gayly, "this pansy that you have put fair in the front.
Know you not the name of it?"

"Indeed I know it not, Cousin Judith."

"Ah, you cunning one! well you know it, I'll be sworn! Why, 'tis one of
the chiefest favorites everywhere. Did you never hear it called 'kiss me
at the gate?' Marry, 'tis an excellent name; and if I take you at your
word, little sweetheart?"

And so they went into the cottage together; and she had her arm lying
lightly round his neck.



But instantly her manner changed. Just within the doorway of the passage
that cut the rambling cottage into two halves, and attached to a string
that was tied to the handle of the door, lay a small spaniel-gentle,
peacefully snoozing; and well Judith knew that the owner of the dog
(which she had heard, indeed, was meant to be presented to herself) was
inside. However, there was no retreat possible, if retreat she would
have preferred; for here was the aged grandmother--a little old woman,
with fresh pink cheeks, silver-white hair, and keen eyes--come out to
see if it were Judith's footsteps she had heard; and she was kindly in
her welcome of the girl, though usually she grumbled a good deal about
her, and would maintain that it was pure pride and wilfulness that kept
her from getting married.

"Here be finery!" said she, stepping back as if to gain a fairer view.
"God's mercy, wench, have you come to your senses at last?--be you
seeking a husband?--would you win one of them? They have waited a goodly
time for the bating of your pride; but you must after them at last--ay,
ay, I thought 'twould come to that."

"Good grandmother, you give me no friendly welcome," said Judith. "And
Willie here; have you no word for him, that he is come to see how you

"Nay, come in, then, sweetings both; come in and sit ye down: little
Willie has been in the garden long enough, though you know I grudge you
not the flowers, wench. Ay, ay, there is one within, Judith, that would
fain be a nearer neighbor, as I hear, if you would but say yea; and
bethink ye, wench, an apple may hang too long on the bough--your bravery
may be put on to catch the eye when it is overlate----"

"I pray you, good grandmother, forbear," said Judith, with some
asperity. "I have my own mind about such things."

"All's well, wench, all's well," said the old dame, as she led the way
into the main room of the cottage. It was a wide and spacious apartment,
with heavy black beams overhead, a mighty fire-place, here or there a
window in the walls just as it seemed to have been wanted, and in the
middle of the floor a plain old table, on which were placed a jug and
two or three horn tumblers.

Of course Judith knew whom she had to expect: the presence of the little
spaniel-gentle at the door had told her that. This young fellow that now
quickly rose from his chair and came forward to meet her--"Good-even to
you, Judith," said he, in a humble way, and his eyes seemed to beseech
her favor--was as yet but in his two-and-twentieth year, but his tall
and lithe and muscular figure had already the firm set of manhood on it.
He was spare of form and square-shouldered; his head smallish, his brown
hair short; his features were regular, and the forehead, if not high,
was square and firm; the general look of him was suggestive of a
sculptured Greek or Roman wrestler, but that this deprecating glance of
the eyes was not quite consistent. And, to tell the truth, wrestling and
his firm-sinewed figure had something to do with his extreme humility on
this occasion. He was afraid that Judith had heard something. To have
broken the head of a tapster was not a noble performance, no matter how
the quarrel was forced on him; and this was but the most recent of
several squabbles; for the championship in the athletic sports of a
country neighborhood is productive of rivals, who may take many ways of
provoking anger. "Good-even to you, Judith," said he, as if he really
would have said, "Pray you believe not all the ill you hear of me!"
Judith, however, did not betray anything by her manner, which was
friendly enough in a kind of formal way, and distinctly reserved. She
sat down, and asked her grandmother what news she had of the various
members of the family, that now were widely scattered throughout
Warwickshire. She declined the cup of merry-go-down that the young man
civilly offered to her. She had a store of things to tell about her
father; and about the presents he had brought; and about the two pieces
of song-music that Master Robert Johnson had sent, that her father would
have Susan try over on the lute; and the other twenty acres that were to
be added; and the talk there had been of turning the house opposite New
Place, at the corner of Chapel Street and Scholars Lane, into a tavern,
and how that had happily been abandoned--for her father wanted no
tavern-revelry within hearing; and so forth; but all this was addressed
to the grandmother. The young man got scarce a word, though now and
again he would interpose gently, and, as it were, begging her to look
his way. She was far kinder to Willie Hart, who was standing by her
side; for sometimes she would put her hand on his shoulder, or stroke
his long yellow-brown hair.

"Willie says he will have just such another as I, grandmother," said
she, when these topics were exhausted, "to be his sweetheart when he
grows up; so you see there be some that value me."

"Look to it that you be not yourself unmarried then, Judith," said the
old dame, who was never done grumbling on this account. "I should not
marvel; they that refuse when they are sought come in time to wonder
that there are none to seek--nay, 'tis so, I warrant you. You are
hanging late on the bough, wench; see you be not forgotten."

"But, good grandmother," said Judith, with some color in her cheeks (for
this was an awkward topic in the presence of this youth), "would you
have me break from the rule of the family? My mother was six-and-twenty
when she married, and Susan four-and-twenty; and indeed there might come
one of us who did not perceive the necessity of marrying at all."

"In God's name, if that be your mind, wench, hold to it. Hold to it, I
say!" And then the old dame glanced with her sharp eyes at the pretty
costume of her visitor. "But I had other thoughts when I saw such a fine
young madam at the door; in truth, they befit you well, these braveries;
indeed they do; though 'tis a pity to have them bedecking out one that
is above the marrying trade. But take heed, wench, take heed lest you
change your mind when it is too late; the young men may hold you to your
word, and you find yourself forsaken when you least expect it."

"Give ye thanks for your good comfort, grandmother," said Judith,
indifferently. And then she rose. "Come, Willie, 'tis about time we were
going through the fields to the town. What message have you,
grandmother, for my father? He is busy from morning till night since his
coming home; but I know he will be over to visit you soon. The flowers,
Willie--did you leave them on the bench outside?"

But she was not allowed to depart in this fashion. The old dame's
discontents with her pretty granddaughter--that was now grown into so
fair and blithe a young woman--were never of a lasting nature; and now
she would have both Judith and little Willie taste of some gingerbread
of her own baking, and then Judith had again to refuse a sup of the ale
that stood on the table, preferring a little water instead. Moreover,
when they had got out into the garden, behold! this young man would come
also, to convoy them home on their way across the fields. It was a
gracious evening, sweet and cool; there was a clear twilight shining
over the land; the elms were dark against the palely luminous sky. And
then, as the three of them went across the meadows toward Stratford
town, little Willie Hart was intrusted with the care of the
spaniel-gentle--that was young and wayward, and possessed with a mad
purpose of hunting sparrows--and as the dog kept him running this way
and that, he was mostly at some distance from these other two, and
Judith's companion, young Quiney, had every opportunity of speaking with

"I sent you a message, Judith," said he, rather timidly, but anxiously
watching the expression of her face all the time, "a token of
remembrance: I trust it did not displease you?"

"You should have considered through whose hands it would come," said
she, without regarding him.

"How so?" he asked, in some surprise.

"Why, you know that Prudence would have to read it."

"And why not, Judith? Why should she not? She is your friend; and I care
not who is made aware that--that--well, you know what I mean, dear
Judith, but, I fear to anger you by saying it. You were not always so
hard to please."

There was a touch of reproach in this that she did not like. Besides,
was it fair? Of course she had been kinder to him when he was a mere
stripling--when they were boy and girl together; but now he had put
forth other pretensions; and they stood on a quite different footing;
and in his pertinacity he would not understand why she was always
speaking to him of Prudence Shawe, and extolling her gentleness and
sweet calm wisdom and goodness. "The idle boy!" she would say to
herself; "Why did God give him such a foolish head that he must needs
come fancying me?" And sometimes she was angry because of his dulness
and that he would not see; though, indeed, she could not speak quite

"You should think," said she, on this occasion, with some sharpness,
"that these idle verses that you send me are read by Prudence. Well,
doubtless, she may not heed that----"

"Why should she heed, Judith?" said he. "'Tis but an innocent part she
takes in the matter--a kindness, merely."

She dared not say more, and she was vexed with him for putting this
restraint upon her. She turned upon him with a glance of sudden and
rather unfriendly scrutiny.

"What is this now that I hear of you?" said she. "Another brawl! A
tavern brawl! I marvel you have escaped so long with a whole skin."

"I know not who carries tales of me to you, Judith," said he, somewhat
warmly, "but if you yourself were more friendly you would take care to
choose a more friendly messenger. It is always the worst that you hear.
If there was a brawl, it was none of my seeking. And if my skin is
whole, I thank God I can look after that for myself; I am not one that
will be smitten on one cheek and turn the other--like your parson

This did not mend matters much.

"My parson friend?" said she, with some swift color in her cheeks. "My
parson friend is one that has respect for his office, and has a care for
his reputation, and lives a peaceable, holy life. Would you have him
frequent ale-houses, and fight with drawers and tapsters? Marry and
amen! but I find no fault with the parson's life."

"Nay, that is true, indeed," said he, bitterly: "you can find no fault
in the parson--as every one says. But there are others that see with
other eyes, and would tell you in what he might amend----"

"I care not to know," said she.

"It were not amiss," said he, for he was determined to speak--"it were
not amiss if Sir Parson showed a little more honesty in his daily
walk--that were not amiss, for one thing."

"In what is he dishonest, then?" said she, instantly, and she turned and
faced him with indignant eyes.

Well, he did not quail. His blood was up. This championship of the
parson, that he had scarce expected of her, only fired anew certain
secret suspicions of his; and he had no mind to spare his rival, whether
he were absent or no.

"Why, then, does he miscall the King, and eat the King's bread?" said
he, somewhat hotly. "Is it honest to conform in public, and revile in
private? I say, let him go forth, as others have been driven forth, if
the state of affairs content him not. I say that they who speak against
the King--marry, it were well done to chop the rogues' ears off!--I say
they should be ashamed to eat the King's bread."

"He eats no King's bread?" said Judith.--and alas! her eyes had a look
in them that pierced him to the heart: it was not the glance he would
fain have met with there. "He eats the bread of the Church, that has
been despoiled of its possessions again and again by the Crown and the
lords; and why should he go forth? He is a minister; is there harm that
he should wish to see the services reformed? He is at his post; would
you have him desert it, or else keep silent? No, he is no such coward, I
warrant you. He will speak his mind; it were ill done of him else?"

"Nay, he can do no harm at all--in your judgment," said he, somewhat
sullenly, "if it all be true that they say."

"And who is it, then, that should speak of idle tales and the believing
of them?" said she, with indignant reproach. "You say I welcome evil
stories about you? And you? Are you so quick to put away the idle gossip
they bring you about me? Would you not rather believe it? I trow you
would as lief believe it as not. That it is to have friends! That it is
to have those who should defend you in your absence; but would rather
listen to slander against you! But when they speak about women's idle
tongues, they know little; it is men who are the readiest to listen, and
to carry evil reports and lying!"

"I meant not to anger you, Judith," said he, more humbly.

"Yes, but you have angered me," said she (with her lips becoming
tremulous, but only for a second). "What concern have I with Parson
Blaise? I would they that spake against him were as good men and honest
as he----"

"Indeed, they speak no ill of him, Judith," said he (for he was grieved
that they were fallen out so, and there was nothing he would not have
retracted that so he might win back to her favor again, in however small
a degree), "except that he is disputatious, and would lead matters no
one knows whither. 'Tis but a few minutes ago that your grandmother
there was saying that we should never have peace and quiet in Church
affairs till the old faith was restored----"

Here, indeed, she pricked up her ears; but she would say no more. She
had not forgiven him yet; and she was proud and silent.

"And though I do not hold with that--for there would be a bloody
struggle before the Pope could be master in England again--nevertheless,
I would have the ministers men of peace, as they profess to be, and
loyal to the King, who is at the head of the Church as well as of the
realm. However, let it pass. I wish to have no quarrel with you,

"How does your business?" said she, abruptly changing the subject.

"Well--excellently well; it is not in that direction that I have any
anxiety about the future."

"Do you give it your time? You were best take heed, for else it is like
to slip away from you," she said; and he thought she spoke rather
coldly, and as if her warning were meant to convey something more than

And then she added:

"You were at Wilmecote on Tuesday?"

"You must have heard why, Judith," he said. "Old Pike was married again
that day, and they would have me over to his wedding."

"And on the Wednesday, what was there at Bidford, then, that you must
needs be gone when my mother sent to you?"

"At Bidford?" said he (and he was sorely puzzled as to whether he should
rejoice at these questions as betraying a friendly interest in his
affairs, or rather regarded them as conveying covert reproof, and
expressing her dissatisfaction with him, and distrust of him). "At
Bidford, Judith--well, there was business as well as pleasure there. For
you must know that Daniel Hutt is come home for a space from the new
settlements in Virginia, and is for taking back with him a number of
laborers that are all in due time to make their fortunes there. Marry,
'tis a good chance for some of them, for broken men are as welcome as
any, and there are no questions asked as to their having been intimate
with the constable and the justice. So there was a kind of merry-meeting
of Daniel's old friends, that was held at the Falcon at Bidford--and the
host is a good customer of mine, so it was prudent of me to go
thither--and right pleasant was it to hear Daniel Hutt tell of his
adventures by sea and shore. And he gave us some of the tobacco that he
had brought with him. And to any that will go back with him to Jamestown
he promises allotments of land, though at first there will be tough
labor, as he says, honestly. Oh, a worthy man is this Daniel Hutt,
though, as yet his own fortune seems not so secure."

"With such junketings," said she, with ever so slight a touch of
coldness, "'tis no wonder you could not spare the time to come and see
my father on the evening of his getting home."

"There, now, Judith!" he exclaimed. "Would you have me break in upon him
at such a busy season, when even you yourself are careful to refrain? It
had been ill-mannered of me to do such a thing; but 'twas no
heedlessness that led to my keeping away, as you may well imagine."

"It is difficult to know the reasons when friends hold aloof," said she.
"You have not been near the house for two or three weeks, as I reckon."

And here again he would have given much to know whether her
speech--which was curiously reserved in tone--meant that she had marked
these things out of regard for him, or that she wished to reprove him.

"I can give you the reason for that, Judith," said this tall and
straight young fellow, who from time to time regarded his companion's
face with some solicitude, as if he fain would have found some greater
measure of friendliness there. "I have not been often to New Place of
late because of one I thought I might meet there who would be no better
pleased to see me than I him; and--and perhaps because of another--that
I did not know whether she might be the better pleased to have me there
or find me stay away----"

"Your reasons are too fine," said she. "I scarce understand them."

"That is because you won't understand; I think I have spoken plain
enough ere now, Judith, I make bold to say."

She flushed somewhat at this; but it was no longer in anger. She seemed
willing to be on good terms with him, but always in that measured and
distant way.

"Willie!" she called. "Come hither, sweetheart!"

With some difficulty her small cousin made his way back to her, dragging
the reluctant spaniel so that its head seemed to be in jeopardy.

"He _will_ go after the birds, Cousin Judith; you will never teach him
to follow you."

"I?" she said.

"Willie knows I want you to have the dog, Judith," her companion said,
quickly. "I got him for you when I was at Gloucester. 'Tis a good
breed--true Maltese, I can warrant him; and the fashionable ladies will
scarce stir abroad without one to follow them, or to carry with them in
their coaches when they ride. Will you take him Judith?"

She was a little embarrassed.

"'Tis a pretty present," said she, "but you have not chosen the right
one to give it to."

"What mean you?" said he.

"Nay, now, have not I the Don?" she said, with greater courage. "He is a
sufficient companion if I wish to walk abroad. Why should you not give
this little spaniel to one that has no such companion--I mean to
Prudence Shaw?"

"To Prudence!" said he, regarding her; for this second introduction of
Judith's friend seemed strange, as well as the notion that he should
transfer this prized gift to her.

"There, now, is one so gentle and kind to every one and everything that
she would tend the little creature with care," she continued. "It would
be more fitting for her than for me."

"You could be kind enough, Judith--if you chose," said he, under his
breath, for Willie Hart was standing by.

"Nay, I have the Don," said she, "that is large, and worldly, and
serious, and clumsy withal. Give this little playfellow to Prudence, who
is small and neat and gentle like itself; surely that were fitter."

"I had hoped you would have accepted the little spaniel from me,
Judith," said he, with very obvious disappointment.

"Moreover," said she, lightly, "two of a trade would never agree: we
should have this one and the Don continually quarrelling, and sooner or
later the small one would lose its head in the Don's great jaws."

"Why, the mastiff is always chained, and at the barn gate, Judith," said
he. "This one would be within-doors, as your playfellow. But I care not
to press a gift."

"Nay, now, be not displeased," said she, gently enough. "I am not
unthankful; I think well of your kindness, but it were still better done
if you were to change your intention and give the spaniel to one that
would have a gentler charge over it, and think none the less of it, as I
can vouch for. Pray you give it to Prudence."

"A discarded gift is not worth the passing on," said he; and as they
were now come quite near to the town, where there was a dividing of
ways, he stopped as though he would shake hands and depart.

"Will you not go on to the house? You have not seen my father since his
coming home," she said.

"No, not to-night, Judith," he said. "Doubtless he is still busy, and I
have affairs elsewhere."

She glanced at him with one of those swift keen glances of hers.

"Where go you to spend the evening, if I may make so bold?" she said.

"Not to the ale-house, as you seem to suspect," he answered, with just a
trifle of bitterness; and then he took the string to lead away the
spaniel, and he bade her farewell--in a kind of half-hearted and
disappointed and downcast way--and left.

She looked after him a second or so, as she fastened a glove-button that
had got loose. And then she sighed as she turned away.

"Sweetheart Willie," said she, putting her hand softly on the boy's
shoulder, as he walked beside her, "I think you said you loved me?"

"Why, you know I do, Cousin Judith," said he.

"What a pity it is, then," said she, absently, "that you cannot remain
always as you are, and keep your ten years forever and a day, so that we
should always be friends as we are now!"

He did not quite know what she meant, but he was sufficiently well
pleased and contented when he was thus close by her side; and when her
hand was on his shoulder or on his neck it was to him no burden, but a
delight. And so walking together, and with some gay and careless prattle
between them, they went on and into the town.



Some two or three days after that, and toward the evening, Prudence
Shawe was in the church-yard, and she was alone, save that now and again
some one might pass along the gravelled pathway, and these did not stay
to interrupt her. She had with her a basket, partly filled with flowers,
also a small rake and a pair of gardener's shears, and she was engaged
in going from grave to grave, here putting a few fresh blossoms to
replace the withered ones, and there removing weeds, or cutting the
grass smooth, and generally tending those last resting-places with a
patient and loving care. It was a favorite employment with her when she
had a spare afternoon; nor did she limit her attention to the graves of
those whom she had known in life; her charge was a general one, and when
they who had friends or relatives buried there came to the church on a
Sunday morning, and perhaps from some distance, and when they saw that
some gentle hand had been employed there in the interval, they knew
right well that that hand was the hand of Prudence Shawe. It was a
strange fancy on the part of one who was so averse from all ornament or
decoration in ordinary life that nothing was too beautiful for a grave.
She herself would not wear a flower, but her best, and the best she
could beg or borrow anywhere, she freely gave to those that were gone
away; she seemed to have some vague imagination that our poor human
nature was not worthy of this beautifying care until it had become
sanctified by the sad mystery of death.

It was a calm, golden-white evening, peaceful and silent; the rooks were
cawing in the dark elms above her; the swallows dipping and darting
under the boughs; the smooth-flowing yellow river was like glass, save
that now and again the perfect surface was broken by the rising of a
fish. Over there in the wide meadows beyond the stream a number of boys
were playing at rounders or prisoner's-base, or some such noisy game;
but the sound of their shouting was softened by the distance; so quiet
was it here, as she continued at her pious task, that she might almost
have heard herself breathing. And once or twice she looked up, and
glanced toward the little gate as if expecting some one.

It was Judith, of course, that she was expecting; and at this moment
Judith was coming along to the church-yard to seek her out. What a
contrast there was between these two--this one pale and gentle and
sad-eyed, stooping over the mute graves in the shadow of the elms; that
other coming along through the warm evening light with all her usual
audacity of gait, the peach-bloom of health on her cheek, carelessness
and content in her clear-shining eyes, and the tune of "Green Sleeves"
ringing through a perfectly idle brain. Indeed, what part of her brain
may not have been perfectly idle was bent solely on mischief. Prudence
had been away for two or three days, staying with an ailing sister. All
that story of the adventure with the unfortunate young gentleman had
still to be related to her. And again and again Judith had pictured to
herself Prudence's alarm and the look of her timid eyes when she should
hear of such doings, and had resolved that the tale would lose nothing
in the telling. Here, indeed, was something for two country maidens to
talk about. The even current of their lives was broken but by few
surprises, but here was something more than surprise--something with
suggestions of mystery and even danger behind it. This was no mere going
out to meet a wizard. Any farm wench might have an experience of that
kind; any ploughboy, deluded by the hope of digging up silver in one of
his master's fields. But a gentleman in hiding--one that had been at
court--one that had seen the King sitting in his chair of state, while
Ben Jonson's masque was opened out before the great and noble
assemblage--this was one to speak about, truly, one whose fortunes and
circumstances were like to prove a matter of endless speculation and

But when Judith drew near to the little gate of the church-yard, and saw
how Prudence was occupied, her heart smote her.

    Green sleeves was all my joy,
    Green sleeves was my delight,

went clear out of her head. There was a kind of shame on her face; and
when she went along to her friend she could not help exclaiming, "How
good you are, Prue!"

"I!" said the other, with some touch of wonder in the upturned face. "I
fear that cannot be said of any of us, Judith."

"I would I were like you, sweetheart," was the answer, with a bit of a

"Like me, Judith?" said Prudence, returning to her task (which was
nearly ended now, for she had but few more flowers left). "Nay, what
makes you think that? I wish I were far other than I am."

"Look, now," Judith said, "how you are occupied at this moment. Is there
another in Stratford that has such a general kindness? How many would
think of employing their time so? How many would come away from their
own affairs----"

"It may be I have more idle time than many," said Prudence, with a
slight flush. "But I commend not myself for this work; in truth, no;
'tis but a pastime; 'tis for my own pleasure."

"Indeed, then, good Prue, you are mistaken, and that I know well," said
the other, peremptorily. "Your own pleasure? Is it no pleasure, then,
think you, for them that come from time to time, and are right glad to
see that some one has been tending the graves of their friends or
kinsmen? And do you think, now, it is no pleasure to the poor people
themselves--I mean them that are gone--to look at you as you are engaged
so, and to think that they are not quite forgotten? Surely it must be a
pleasure to them. Surely they cannot have lost all their interest in
what happens here--in Stratford--where they lived; and surely they must
be grateful to you for thinking of them, and doing them this kindness? I
say it were ill done of them else. I say they ought to be thankful to
you. And no doubt they are, could we but learn."

"Judith! Judith! you have such a bold way of regarding what is all a
mystery to us," said her gentle-eyed friend. "Sometimes you frighten

"I would I knew, now," said the other, looking absently across the river
to the boys that were playing there, "whether my little brother
Hamnet--had you known him you would have loved him as I did, Prudence--I
say I wish I knew whether he is quite happy and content where he is, or
whether he would not rather be over there now with the other boys. If he
looks down and sees them, may it not make him sad sometimes--to be so
far away from us? I always think of him as being alone there, and he was
never alone here. I suppose he thinks of us sometimes. Whenever I hear
the boys shouting like that at their play I think of him; but indeed he
was never noisy and unruly. My father used to call him the girl-boy, but
he was fonder of him than of all us others; he once came all the way
from London when he heard that Hamnet was lying sick of a fever."

She turned to see how Prudence was getting on with her work; but she was
in no hurry; and Prudence was patient and scrupulously careful; and the
dead, had they been able to speak, would not have bade her cease and go
away, for a gentler hand never touched a grave.

"I suppose it is Grandmother Hathaway who will go next," Judith
continued, in the same absent kind of way; "but indeed she says she is
right well content either to go or to stay; for now, as she says, she
has about as many kinsfolk there as here, and she will not be going
among strangers. And well I know she will make for Hamnet as soon as she
is there, for like my father's love for Bess Hall was her love for the
boy while he was with us. Tell me, Prudence, has he grown up to be of my
age? You know we were twins. Is he a man now, so that we should see him
as some one different? Or is he still our little Hamnet, just as we used
to know him?"

"How can I tell you, Judith?" the other said, almost in pain. "You ask
such bold questions; and all these things are hidden from us and behind
a veil."

"But these are what one would like to know," said Judith, with a sigh.
"Nay, if you could but tell me of such things, then you might persuade
me to have a greater regard for the preachers; but when you come and ask
about such real things, they say it is all a mystery; they cannot tell;
and would have you be anxious about schemes of doctrine, which are but
strings of words. My father, too: when I go to him--nay, but it is many
a day since I tried--he would look at me and say, 'What is in your brain
now? To your needle, wench, to your needle!'"

"But naturally, Judith! Such things are mercifully hidden from us now,
but they will be revealed when it is fitting for us to know them. How
could our ordinary life be possible if we knew what was going on in the
other world? We should have no interest in the things around us, the
greater interest would be so great."

"Well, well, well," said Judith, coming with more practical eyes to the
present moment, "are you finished, sweet mouse, and will you come away?
What, not satisfied yet? I wonder if they know the care you take. I
wonder if one will say to the other: 'Come and see. She is there again.
We are not quite forgotten.' And will you do that for me, too, sweet
Prue? Will you put some pansies on my grave, too?--and I know you will
say out of your charity, 'Well, she was not good and pious, as I would
have had her to be; she had plenty of faults; but at least she often
wished to be better than she was.' Nay, I forgot," she added, glancing
carelessly over to the church; "they say we shall lie among the great
people, since my father bought the tithes--that we have the right to be
buried in the chancel; but indeed I know I would a hundred times liefer
have my grave in the open here, among the grass and the trees."

"You are too young to have such thoughts as these, Judith," said her
companion, as she rose and shut down the lid of the now empty basket.
"Come; shall we go?"

"Let us cross the foot-bridge, sweet Prue," Judith said, "and go through
the meadows and round by Clopton's bridge, and so home; for I have that
to tell you will take some time; pray Heaven it startle you not out of
your senses withal!"

It was not, however, until they had got away from the church-yard, and
were out in the clear golden light of the open, that she began to tell
her story. She had linked her arm within that of her friend. Her manner
was grave; and if there was any mischief in her eyes, it was of a demure
kind, not easily detected. She confessed that it was out of mere wanton
folly that she had gone to the spot indicated by the wizard, and without
any very definite hope or belief. But as chance would have it, she did
encounter a stranger--one, indeed, that was coming to her father's
house. Then followed a complete and minute narrative of what the young
man had said--the glimpses he had given her of his present condition,
both on the occasion of that meeting and on the subsequent one, and how
she had obtained his permission to state these things to this gentle
gossip of hers. Prudence listened in silence, her eyes cast down; Judith
could not see the gathering concern on her face. Nay, the latter spoke
rather in a tone of raillery; for, having had time to look back over the
young gentleman's confessions, and his manner, and so forth, she had
arrived at a kind of assurance that he was in no such desperate case.
There were many reasons why a young man might wish to lie perdu for a
time; but this one had not talked as if any very imminent danger
threatened him; at least, if he had intimated as much, the impression
produced upon her was not permanent. And if Judith now told the story
with a sort of careless bravado--as if going forth in secret to meet
this stranger was a thing of risk and hazard--it was with no private
conviction that there was any particular peril in the matter, but rather
with the vague fancy that the adventure looked daring and romantic, and
would appear as something terrible in the eyes of her timid friend.

But what now happened startled her. They were going up the steps of the
foot-bridge, Prudence first, and Judith, following her, had just got to
the end of her story. Prudence suddenly turned round, and her face, now
opposed to the westering light, was, as Judith instantly saw, quite

"But, Judith, you do not seem to understand!" she exclaimed. "Was not
that the very stranger the wizard said you would meet?--the very hour,
the very place? In good truth, it must have been so! Judith, what manner
of man have you been in company with?"

For an instant a flush of color overspread Judith's face, and she said,
with a sort of embarrassed laugh:

"Well, and if it were so, sweet mouse? If that were the appointed one,
what then?"

She was on the bridge now. Prudence caught her by both hands, and there
was an anxious and piteous appeal in the loving eyes.

"Dear Judith, I beseech you, be warned! Have nothing to do with the man!
Did I not say that mischief would come of planting the charm in the
church-yard, and shaming a sacred place with such heathenish magic? And
now look already--here is one that you dare not speak of to your own
people; he is in secret correspondence with you. Heaven alone knows what
dark deeds he may be bent upon, or what ruin he may bring upon you and
yours. Judith, you are light-hearted and daring, and you love to be
venturesome; but I know you better than you know yourself, sweetheart.
You would not willingly do wrong, or bring harm on those that love you;
and for the sake of all of us, Judith, have nothing to do with this

Judith was embarrassed, and perhaps a trifle remorseful; she had not
expected her friend to take this adventure so very seriously.

"Dear Prue, you alarm yourself without reason," she said (but there was
still some tell-tale color in her face). "Indeed, there is no magic or
witchery about the young man. Had I seen a ghost, I should have been
frightened, no doubt, for all that Don Roderigo was with me; and had I
met one of the Stratford youths at the appointed place, I should have
said that perhaps the good wizard had guessed well; but this was merely
a stranger coming to see my father; and the chance that brought us
together--well, what magic was in that?--it would have happened to you
had you been walking in the lane: do you see that, dear mouse?--it would
have happened to yourself had you been walking in the lane, and he would
have asked of you the question that he asked of me. Nay, banish that
fancy, sweet Prue, else I should be ashamed to do anything further for
the young man that is unfortunate, and very grateful withal for a few
words of friendliness. And so fairly spoken a young man, too; and so
courtly in his bearing; and of such a handsome presence----"

"But, dear Judith, listen to me!--do not be led into such peril! Know
you not that evil spirits can assume goodly shapes--the Prince of
Darkness himself----"

She could not finish what she had to say, her imagination was so filled
with terror.

"Sweet Puritan," said Judith, with a smile, "I know well that he goeth
about like a raging lion, seeking whom he may devour; I know it well;
but believe me it would not be worth his travail to haunt such a lonely
and useless place as the lane that goes from Shottery to the Bidford
road. Nay, but I will convince you, good mouse, by the best of all
evidence, that there is nothing ghostly or evil about the young man; you
shall see him, Prue--indeed you must and shall. When that he comes back
to his hiding, I will contrive that you shall see him and have speech
with him, and sure you will pity him as much as I do. Poor young
gentleman, that he should be suspected of being Satan! Nay, how could he
be Satan, Prue, and be admitted to the King's court? Hath not our good
King a powerful insight into the doings of witches and wizards and the
like? and think you he would allow Satan in person to come into the very
Banqueting-hall to see a masque?"

"Judith! Judith!" said the other, piteously, "when you strive against me
with your wit, I cannot answer you; but my heart tells me that you are
in exceeding danger. I would warn you, dear cousin; I were no true
friend to you else."

"But you are the best and truest of friends, you dearest Prue," said
Judith, lightly, as she released her hands from her companion's earnest
grasp. "Come, let us on, or we shall go supperless for the evening."

She passed along and over the narrow bridge, and down the steps on the
other side. She did not seem much impressed by Prudence's entreaties;
indeed, she was singing aloud:

    Hey, good fellow, I drink to thee,
    Pardonnez moi, je vous en prie;
    To all good fellows, where'er they be,
    With never a penny of money!

Prudence overtook her.

"Judith," said she, "even if he be not of that fearful kind--even if he
be a real man, and such as he represents himself, bethink you what you
are doing! There may be another such gathering as that at Dunchurch; and
would you be in correspondence with a plotter and murderer? Nay, what
was't you asked of me the other day?" she added, suddenly; and she stood
still to confront her friend, with a new alarm in her eyes. "Did you not
ask whether your father was well affected toward the Papists? Is there
another plot?--another treason against the King?--and you would harbor
one connected with such a wicked, godless, and bloodthirsty plan?"

"Nay, nay, sweet mouse! Have I not told you? He declares he has naught
to do with any such enterprise; and if you would but see him, Prudence,
you would believe him. Sure I am that you would believe him instantly.
Why, now, there be many reasons why a young gentleman might wish to
remain concealed----"

"None, Judith, none!" the other said, with decision. "Why should an
honest man fear the daylight?"

"Oh, as for that," was the careless answer, "there be many an honest man
that has got into the clutches of the twelve-in-the-hundred rogues; and
when the writs are out against such a one, I hold it no shame that he
would rather be out of the way than be thrown among the wretches in
Bocardo. I know well what I speak of; many a time have I heard my father
and your brother talk of it; how the rogues of usurers will keep a man
in prison for twelve years for a matter of sixteen shillings--what is it
they call it?--making dice of his bones? And if the young gentleman
fear such treatment and the horrible company of the prisons, I marvel
not that he should prefer the fresh air of Bidford, howsoever dull the
life at the farm may be."

"And if that were all, why should he fear to bring the letter to your
father?" the other said, with a quick glance of suspicion: she did not
like the way in which Judith's ready brain could furnish forth such
plausible conjectures and excuses. "Answer me that, Judith. Is your
father one likely to call aloud and have the man taken, if that be all
that is against him? Why should he be afraid to bring the letter from
your father's friend? Nay, why should he be on the way to the house with
it, and thereafter stop short and change his mind? There is many a mile
betwixt London and Stratford; 'tis a marvellous thing he should travel
all that way, and change his mind within a few minutes of being in the
town. I love not such dark ways, Judith; no good thing can come of them,
but evil; and it were ill done of you--even if you be careless of danger
to yourself, as I trow you mostly are--I say it is ill done of you to
risk the peace of your family by holding such dangerous converse with a
stranger, and one that may bring harm to us all."

Judith was not well pleased; her mouth became rather proud.

"Marry, if this be your Christian charity, I would not give a penny
ballad for it!" said she, with some bitterness of tone. "I had thought
the story had another teaching--I mean the story of him who fell among
thieves and was beaten and robbed and left for dead--and that we were to
give a helping hand to such, like the Samaritan. But now I mind me 'twas
the Priest that passed by on the other side--yes, the Priest and the
Levite--the godly ones who would preserve a whole skin for themselves,
and let the other die of his wounds, for aught they cared! And here is a
young man in distress--alone and friendless--and when he would have a
few words of cheerfulness, or a message, or a scrap of news as to what
is going on in the world--no, no, say the Priest and the Levite--go not
near him--because he is in misfortune he is dangerous--because he is
alone he is a thief and a murderer--perchance a pirate, like Captain
Ward and Dansekar, or even Catesby himself come alive again. I say, God
keep us all from such Christian charity!"

"You use me ill, Judith," said the other, and then was silent.

They walked on through the meadows, and Judith was watching the play of
the boys. As she did so, a leather ball, struck a surprising distance,
came rolling almost to her feet, and forthwith one of the lads came
running after it. She picked it up and threw it to him--threw it
awkwardly and clumsily, as a girl throws, but nevertheless she saved him
some distance and time, and she was rewarded with many a loud "Thank
you! thank you!" from the side who were out. But when they got past the
players and their noise, Prudence could no longer keep silent; she had a
forgiving disposition, and nothing distressed her so much as being on
unfriendly terms with Judith.

"You know I meant not that, dear Judith," said she. "I only meant to
shield you from harm."

As for Judith, all such trivial and temporary clouds of misunderstanding
were instantly swallowed up in the warm and radiant sunniness of her
nature. She broke into a laugh.

"And so you shall, dear mouse," said she, gayly; "you shall shield me
from the reproach of not having a common and ordinary share of humanity;
that shall you, dear Prue, should the unfortunate young gentleman come
into the neighborhood again; for you will read to me the message that he
sends me, and together we will devise somewhat on his behalf. No? Are
you afraid to go forth and meet the pirate Dansekar? Do you expect to
find the ghost of Gamaliel Ratsey walking on the Evesham road? Such
silly fears, dear Prue, do not become you: you are no longer a child."

"You are laying too heavy a burden on me, Judith," the other said,
rather sadly. "I know not what to do; and you say I may not ask counsel
of any one. And if I do nothing, I am still taking a part."

"What part, then, but to read a few words and hold your peace?" said her
companion, lightly. "What is that? But I know you will not stay there,
sweet mouse. No, no; your heart is too tender. I know you would not
willingly do any one an injury, or harbor suspicion and slander. You
shall come and see the young gentleman, good Prue, as I say; and then
you will repent in sackcloth and ashes for all that you have urged
against him. And perchance it may be in New Place that you shall see

"Ah, Judith, that were well!" exclaimed the other, with a brighter light
on her face.

"What? Would you desire to see him, if he were to pay us a visit?"
Judith said, regarding her with a smile.

"Surely, surely, after what you have told me: why not, Judith?" was the
placid answer.

"There would be nothing ghostly about him then?"

"There would be no secret, Judith," said Prudence, gravely, "that you
have to keep back from your own people."

"Well, well, we will see what the future holds for us," said Judith, in
the same careless fashion. "And if the young gentleman come not back to
Stratford, why, then, good fortune attend him, wherever he may be! for
one that speaks so fair and is so modest sure deserves it. And if he
come not back, then shall your heart be all the lighter, dear Prue; and
as for mine, mine will not be troubled--only, that I wish him well, as I
say, and would fain hear of his better estate. So all is so far happily
settled, sweet mouse; and you may go in to supper with me with
untroubled eyes and a free conscience: marry, there is need for that, as
I bethink me; for Master Parson comes this evening, and you know you
must have a pure and joyful heart with you, good Prudence, when you
enter into the congregation of the saints."

"Judith, for my sake!"

"Nay, I meant not to offend, truly; it was my wicked, idle tongue, that
I must clap a bridle on now--for, listen!----"

They were come to New Place. There was singing going forward within; and
one or two of the casements were open; but perhaps it was the glad and
confident nature of the psalm that led to the words being so clearly
heard without:

    The man is blest that hath not bent
      To wicked rede his ear;
    Nor led his life as sinners do,
      Nor sat in scorner's chair.
    But in the law of God the Lord
      Doth set his whole delight,
    And in that law doth exercise
      Himself both day and night.

    He shall be like the tree that groweth
      Fast by the river's side;
    Which bringeth forth most pleasant fruit
      In her due time and tide;
    Whose leaf shall never fade nor fall,
      But flourish still and stand:
    Even so all things shall prosper well
      That this man takes in hand.

And so, having waited until the singing ceased, they entered into the
house, and found two or three neighbors assembled there, and Master
Walter was just about to begin his discourse on the godly life, and the
substantial comfort and sweet peace of mind pertaining thereto.

       *       *       *       *       *

Some few days after this, and toward the hour of noon, the mail-bearer
came riding post-haste into the town; and in due course the contents of
his saddle-bags were distributed among the folk entitled to them. But
before the news-letters had been carefully spelled out to the end, a
strange rumor got abroad. The French king was slain, and by the hand of
an assassin. Some, as the tidings passed quickly from mouth to mouth,
said the murderer was named Ravelok, others Havelok; but as to the main
fact of the fearful crime having been committed, there was no manner of
doubt. Naturally the bruit of this affair presently reached Julius
Shawe's house; and when the timid Prudence heard of it--and when she
thought of the man who had been in hiding, and who had talked with
Judith, and had been so suddenly and secretly summoned away--her face
grew even paler than its wont, and there was a sickly dread at her
heart. She would go to see Judith at once; and yet she scarcely dared to
breathe even to herself the terrible forebodings that were crowding in
on her mind.



But Judith laughed aside these foolish fears; as it happened, far more
important matters were just at this moment occupying her mind.

She was in the garden. She had brought out some after-dinner fragments
for the Don; and while the great dun-colored beast devoured these, she
had turned from him to regard Matthew gardener; and there was a sullen
resentment on her face; for it seemed to her imagination that he kept
doggedly and persistently near the summer-house, on which she had
certain dark designs. However, the instant she caught sight of Prudence,
her eyes brightened up; and, indeed, became full of an eager animation.

"Hither, hither, good Prue!" she exclaimed, hurriedly. "Quick! quick! I
have news for you."

"Yes, indeed, Judith," said the other; and at the same moment Judith
came to see there was something wrong--the startled pale face and
frightened eyes had a story to tell.

"Why, what is to do?" said she.

"Know you not, Judith? Have you not heard? The French king is
slain--murdered by an assassin!"

To her astonishment the news seemed to produce no effect whatever.

"Well, I am sorry for the poor man," Judith said, with perfect
self-possession. "They that climb high must sometimes have a sudden
fall. But why should that alarm you, good Prue? Or have you other news
that comes more nearly home?"

And then, when Prudence almost breathlessly revealed the apprehensions
that had so suddenly filled her mind, Judith would not even stay to
discuss such a monstrous possibility. She laughed it aside altogether.
That the courteous young gentleman who had come with a letter from Ben
Jonson should be concerned in the assassination of the King of France
was entirely absurd and out of the question.

"Nay, nay, good Prue," said she, lightly, "you shall make him amends for
these unjust suspicions; that you shall, dear mouse, all in good time.
But listen now: I have weightier matters; I have eggs on the spit,
beshrew me else! Can you read me this riddle, sweet Prue? Know you by
these tokens what has happened? My father comes in to dinner to-day in
the gayest of humors; there is no absent staring at the window, and
forgetting of all of us; it is all merriment this time; and he must
needs have Bess Hall to sit beside him; and he would charge her with
being a witch; and reproach her for our simple meal, when that she might
have given us a banquet like that of a London Company, with French
dishes and silver flagons of Theologicum, and a memorial to tell each of
us what was coming. And then he would miscall your brother--which you
know, dear Prudence, he never would do were he in earnest--and said he
was chamberlain now, and was conspiring to be made alderman, only that
he might sell building materials to the Corporation and so make money
out of his office. And I know not what else of jests and laughing; but
at length he sent to have the Evesham roan saddled; and he said that
when once he had gone along to the sheep-wash to see that the hurdles
were rightly up for the shearing, he would give all the rest of the day
to idleness--to idleness wholly; and perchance he might ride over to
Broadway to see the shooting-match going forward there. Now, you wise
one, can you guess what has happened? Know you what is in store for us?
Can you read me the riddle?"

"I see no riddle, Judith," said the other, with puzzled eyes. "I met
your father as I came through the house; and he asked if Julius were at
home: doubtless he would have him ride to Broadway with him."

"Dear mouse, is that your skill at guessing? But listen now"--and here
she dropped her voice as she regarded goodman Matthew, though that
personage seemed busily enough occupied with his watering-can. "This is
what has happened: I know the signs of the weather. Be sure he has
finished the play--the play that the young prince Mamillius was in: you
remember, good Prue?--and the large fair copy is made out and locked
away in the little cupboard, against my father's next going to London;
and the loose sheets are thrown into the oak chest, along with the
others. And now, good Prue, sweet Prue, do you know what you must
manage? Indeed, I dare not go near the summer-house while that ancient
wiseman is loitering about; and you must coax him, Prue; you must get
him away; sometimes I see his villain eyes watching me, as if he had
suspicion in his mind----"

"'Tis your own guilty conscience, Judith," said Prudence, but with a
smile; for she had herself connived at this offence ere now.

"By fair means or foul, sweet mouse, you must get him away to the other
end of the garden," said she, eagerly; "for now the Don has nearly
finished his dinner, and goodman-wiseman-fool will wonder if we stay
longer here. Nay, I have it, sweet Prue: you must get him along to the
corner where my mother grows her simples; and you must keep him there
for a space, that I may get out the right papers; and this is what you
must do: you will ask him for something that sounds like Latin--no
matter what nonsense it may be; and he will answer you that he knows it
right well, but has none of it at the present time; and you will say
that you have surely seen it among my mother's simples, and thus you
will lead him away to find it and the longer you seek the better. Do you
understand, good Prue?--and quick! quick!"

Prudence's pale face flushed.

"You ask too much, Judith. I cannot deceive the poor man so."

"Nay, nay, you are too scrupulous, dear mouse. A trifle--a mere trifle."

And then Prudence happened to look up, and she met Judith's eyes; and
there was such frank self-confidence and audacity in them, and also such
a singular and clear-shining beauty, that the simple Puritan was in a
manner bedazzled. She said, with a quiet smile, as she turned away her
head again:

"Well, I marvel not, Judith, that you can bewitch the young men, and
bewilder their understanding. 'Tis easy to see--if they have eyes and
regard you, they are lost; but how you have your own way with all of us,
and how you override our judgment, and do with us what you please, that
passes me. Even Dr. Hall: for whom else would he have brought from
Coventry the green silk stockings and green velvet shoes?--you know such
vanities find little favor in his own home----"

"Quick, quick, sweetheart, muzzle me that gaping ancient!" said Judith,
interrupting her. "The Don has finished; and I will dart into the
summer-house as I carry back the dish. Detain him, sweet Prue; speak a
word or two of Latin to him; he will swear he understands you right
well, though you yourself understand not a word of it----"

"I may not do all you ask, Judith," said the other, after a moment's
reflection (and still with an uneasy feeling that she was yielding to
the wiles of a temptress), "but I will ask the goodman to show me your
mother's simples, and how they thrive."

A minute or two thereafter Judith had swiftly stolen into the
summer-house--which was spacious and substantial of its kind, and
contained a small black cupboard fixed up in a corner of the walls, a
table and chair, and a long oak chest on the floor. It was this last
that held the treasure she was in search of; and now, the lid having
been raised, she was down on one knee, carefully selecting from a mass
of strewn papers (indeed, there were a riding-whip, a sword and
sword-belt, and several other articles mixed up in this common
receptacle) such sheets as were without a minute mark which she had
invented for her own private purposes. These secured and hastily hidden
in her sleeve, she closed the lid, and went out into the open again,
calling upon Prudence to come to her, for that she was going into the

They did not, however, remain within-doors at New Place, for that might
have been dangerous; they knew of a far safer resort. Just behind Julius
Shawe's house, and between that and the garden, there was a recess
formed by the gable of a large barn not quite reaching the adjacent
wall. It was a three-sided retreat; overlooked by no window whatsoever;
there was a frail wooden bench on two sides of it, and the entrance to
it was partly blocked up by an empty cask that had been put there to be
out of the way. For outlook there was nothing but a glimpse of the path
going into the garden, a bit of greensward, and two apple-trees between
them and the sky. It was not a noble theatre, this little den behind the
barn; but it had produced for these two many a wonderful pageant; for
the empty barrel and the bare barn wall and the two trees would at one
time be transformed into the forest of Arden, and Rosalind would be
walking there in her pretty page costume, and laughing at the love-sick
Orlando; and again they would form the secret haunts of Queen Titania
and her court, with the jealous Oberon chiding her for her refusal; and
again they would become the hall of a great northern castle, with
trumpets and cannon sounding without as the King drank to Hamlet.
Indeed, the elder of these two young women had an extraordinarily vivid
imagination; she saw the things and people as if they were actually
there before her; she realized their existence so intensely that even
Prudence was brought to sympathize with them, and to follow their
actions now with hot indignation, and now with triumphant delight over
good fortune come at last. There was no stage-carpenter there to
distract them with his dismal expedients; no actor to thrust his
physical peculiarities between them and the poet's ethereal visions; the
dream-world was before them, clear and filled with light; and Prudence's
voice was gentle and of a musical kind. Nay, sometimes Judith would leap
to her feet. "You shall not!--you shall not!" she would exclaim, as if
addressing some strange visitant that was showing the villainy of his
mind; and tears came quickly to her eyes if there was a tale of pity;
and the joy and laughter over lovers reconciled brought warm color to
her face. They forgot that these walls that enclosed them were of gray
mud; they forgot that the prevailing odor in the air was that of the
malt in the barn for now they were regarding Romeo in the moonlight,
with the dusk of the garden around, and Juliet uttering her secrets to
the honeyed night; and again they were listening to the awful voices of
the witches on the heath, and guessing at the sombre thoughts passing
through the mind of Macbeth; and then again they were crying bitterly
when they saw before them an old man, gray-haired, discrowned, and
witless, that looked from one to the other of those standing by, and
would ask who the sweet lady was that sought with tears for his
benediction. They could hear the frail and shaken voice:

    "Methinks I should know you, and know this man;
    Yet I am doubtful: for I am mainly ignorant
    What place this is: and all the skill I have
    Remembers not these garments; nor I know not
    Where I did lodge last night. Do not laugh at me;
    For, as I am a man, I think this lady
    To be my child Cordelia."

And now, as they had retired into this sheltered nook, and Prudence was
carefully placing in order the scattered sheets that had been given her,
Judith was looking on with some compunction.

"Indeed I grieve to give you so much trouble, sweetheart," said she. "I
would I could get at the copy that my father has locked away----"

"Judith!" her friend said, reproachfully. "You would not take that? Why,
your father will scarce show it even to Julius, and sure I am that none
in the house would put a hand upon it----"

"If it were a book of psalms and paraphrases, they might be of another
mind," Judith said; but Prudence would not hear.

"Nay," said she, as she continued to search for the connecting pages. "I
have heard your father say to Julius that there is but little
difference; and that 'tis only when he has leisure here in Stratford
that he makes this copy writ out fair and large; in London he takes no
such pains. Truly I would not that either Julius or any of his
acquaintance knew of my fingering in such a matter: what would they say,
Judith? And sometimes, indeed, my mind is ill at ease with regard to
it--that I should be reading to you things that so many godly people
denounce as wicked and dangerous----"

"You are too full of fears, good mouse," said Judith, coolly, "and too
apt to take the good people at their word. Nay, I have heard; they will
make you out everything to be wicked and sinful that is not to their own
minds; and they are zealous among the saints; but I have heard, I have

"What, then?" said the other, with some faint color in her face.

"No matter," said Judith, carelessly. "Well, I have heard that when they
make a journey to London they are as fond of claret wine and oysters as
any; but no matter: in truth the winds carry many a thing not worth the
listening to. But as regards this special wickedness, sweet mouse,
indeed you are innocent of it; 'tis all laid to my charge; I am the
sinner and temptress; be sure you shall not suffer one jot through my
iniquity. And now have you got them all together? Are you ready to

"But you must tell me where the story ceased, dear Judith, when last we
had it; for indeed you have a marvellous memory, even to the word and
the letter. The poor babe that was abandoned on the sea-shore had just
been found by the old shepherd--went it not so?--and he was wondering at
the rich bearing-cloth it was wrapped in. Why, here is the
name--Perdita," she continued, as she rapidly scanned one or two of the
papers--"who is now grown up, it appears, and in much grace; and this is
a kind of introduction, I take it, to tell you all that has happened
since your father last went to London--I mean since the story was broken
off. And Florizel--I remember not the name--but here he is so named as
the son of the King of Bohemia----"

A quick laugh of intelligence rose to Judith's eyes; she had an alert

"Prince Florizel?" she exclaimed. "And Princess Perdita! That were a
fair match, in good sooth, and a way to heal old differences. But to the
beginning, sweetheart, I beseech you; let us hear how the story is to
be; and pray Heaven he gives me back my little Mamillius, that was so
petted and teased by the court ladies."

However, as speedily appeared, she had anticipated too easy a
continuation and conclusion. The young Prince Florizel proved to be
enamored, not of one of his own station, but of a simple shepherdess;
and although she instantly guessed that this shepherdess might turn out
to be the forsaken Perdita, the conversation between King Polixenes and
the good Camillo still left her in doubt. As for the next scene--the
encounter between Autolycus and the country clown--Judith wholly and
somewhat sulkily disapproved of that. She laughed, it is true; but it
was sorely against her will. For she suspected that goodman Matthew's
influence was too apparent here; and that, were he ever to hear of the
story, he would in his vanity claim this part as his own; moreover,
there was a kind of familiarity and every-day feeling in the
atmosphere--why, she herself had been rapidly questioned by her father
about the necessary purchases for a sheep-shearing feast, and Susan,
laughing, had struck in with the information as to the saffron for
coloring the warden-pies. But when the sweet-voiced Prudence came to the
scene between Prince Florizel and the pretty shepherdess, then Judith
was right well content.

"Oh, do you see, now, how her gentle birth shines through her lowly
condition!" she said, quickly. "And when the old shepherd finds that he
has been ordering a king's daughter to be the mistress of the feast--ay,
and soundly rating her, too, for her bashful ways--what a fright will
seize the good old man! And what says she in answer?--again, good
Prue--let me hear it again--marry, now, I'll be sworn she had just such
another voice as yours!"

"To the King Polixenes," Prudence continued, regarding the manuscript,
"who is in disguise, you know, Judith, she says:

                'Welcome, sir!
    It is my father's will I should take on me
    The hostess-ship o' the day:--you're welcome, sir.'

And then to both the gentlemen:

    'Give me those flowers there, Dorcas.--Reverend sirs,
    For you there's rosemary and rue; these keep
    Seeming and savor all the winter long:
    Grace and remembrance be to you both,
    And welcome to our shearing!'"

"Ah, there, now, will they not be won by her gentleness?" she cried,
eagerly. "Will they not suspect and discover the truth? It were a new
thing for a prince to wed a shepherdess, but this is no shepherdess, as
an owl might see! What say they then, Prue? Have they no suspicion?"

So Prudence continued her patient reading--in the intense silence that
was broken only by the twittering of the birds in the orchard, or the
crowing of a cock in some neighboring yard; and Judith listened keenly,
drinking in every varying phrase. But when Florizel had addressed his
speech to the pretty hostess of the day, Judith could no longer forbear:
she clapped her hands in delight.

"There, now, that is a true lover; that is spoken like a true lover,"
she cried, with her face radiant and proud. "Again, good Prue--let us
hear what he says--ay, and before them all, too, I warrant me he is not
ashamed of her."

So Prudence had to read once more Florizel's praise of his gentle

                                  "'What you do
    Still betters what is done. When you speak, sweet,
    I'd have you do it ever: when you sing,
    I'd have you buy and sell so; so give alms;
    Pray so; and, for the ordering your affairs,
    To sing them too. When you do dance, I wish you
    A wave o' the sea, that you might ever do
    Nothing but that; move still, still so, and own
    No other function. Each your doing,
    So singular in each particular,
    Crowns what you are doing in the present deeds,
    That all your acts are queens!'"

"In good sooth, it is spoken like a true lover," Judith said, with a
light on her face as if the speech had been addressed to herself. "Like
one that is well content with his sweetheart, and is proud of her, and
approves! Marry, there be few of such in these days; for this one is
jealous and unreasonable, and would have the mastery too soon; and that
one would frighten you to his will by declaring you are on the highway
to perdition; and another would have you more civil to his tribe of
kinsfolk. But there is a true lover, now; there is one that is courteous
and gentle; one that is not afraid to approve: there may be such in
Stratford, but God wot, they would seem to be a scarce commodity! Nay, I
pray your pardon, good Prue: to the story, if it please you--and is
there aught of the little Mamillius forthcoming?"

And so the reading proceeded; and Judith was in much delight that the
old King seemed to perceive something unusual in the grace and carriage
of the pretty Perdita.

"What is't he says? What are the very words?"

    "'This is the prettiest low-born lass that ever
    Ran on the greensward: nothing she does or seems
    But smacks of something greater than herself;
    Too noble for this place.'"

"Yes! yes! yes!" she exclaimed, quickly. "And sees he not some likeness
to the Queen Hermione? Surely he must remember the poor injured Queen,
and see that this is her daughter? Happy daughter, that has a lover that
thinks so well of her! And now, Prue?"

But when in the course of the hushed reading all these fair hopes came
to be cruelly shattered; when the pastoral romance was brought to a
sudden end; when the King, disclosing himself, declared a divorce
between the unhappy lovers, and was for hanging the ancient shepherd,
and would have Perdita's beauty scratched with briers; and when Prudence
had to repeat the farewell words addressed to the prince by his hapless

                "'Wilt please you, sir, be gone?
    I told you what would come of this. Beseech you,
    Of your own state take care: this dream of mine--
    Being now awake, I'll queen it no inch further,
    But milk my ewes, and weep--'"

there was something very like tears in the gentle reader's eyes; but
that was not Judith's mood; she was in a tempest of indignation.

"God's my life!" she cried, "was there ever such a fool as this old
King? He a king! He to sit on a throne! Better if he sate in a barn and
helped madge-howlet to catch mice! And what says the prince? Nay, I'll
be sworn he proves himself a true man, and no summer playfellow; he will
stand by her; he will hold to her, let the ancient dotard wag his beard
as he please!"

And so, in the end, the story was told, and all happily settled; and
Prudence rose from the rude wooden bench with a kind of wistful look on
her face, as if she had been far away, and seen strange things. Then
Judith--pausing for a minute or so as if she would fix the whole thing
in her memory, to be thought over afterward--proceeded to tie the pages
together for the better concealment of them on her way home.

"And the wickedness of it?" said she, lightly. "Wherein lies the
wickedness of such a reading, sweet mouse?"

Prudence was somewhat shamefaced on such occasions; she could not
honestly say that she regretted as she ought to have done, giving way to
Judith's importunities.

"Some would answer you, Judith," she said, "that we had but ill used
time that was given us for more serious purposes."

"And for what more serious purposes, good gossip? For the repeating of
idle tales about our neighbors? Or the spending of the afternoon in
sleep, as is the custom with many? Are we all so busy, then, that we may
not pass a few minutes in amusement? But, indeed, sweet Prue," said she,
as she gave a little touch to her pretty cap and snow-white ruff, to put
them right before she went out into the street, "I mean to make amends
this afternoon. I shall be busy enough to make up for whatever loss of
time there has been over this dangerous and godless idleness. For, do
you know, I have everything ready now for the new Portugal receipts that
you read to me; and two of them I am to try as soon as I get home; and
my father is to know nothing of the matter--till the dishes be on the
table. So fare you well, sweet mouse; and give ye good thanks, too: this
has been but an evil preparation for the church-going of the morrow, but
remember, the sin was mine--you are quit of that."

And then her glance fell on the roll of papers that she held in her

"The pretty Perdita!" said she. "Her beauty was not scratched with
briers, after all. And I doubt not she was in brave attire at the court;
though methinks I better like to remember her as the mistress of the
feast, giving the flowers to this one and that. And happy Perdita, also,
to have the young prince come to the sheep-shearing, and say so many
sweet things to her! Is't possible, think you, Prue, there might come
such another handsome stranger to our sheep-shearing that is now at

"I know not what you mean, Judith."

"Why, now, should such things happen only in Bohemia?" she said, gayly,
to the gentle and puzzled Prudence, "Soon our shearing will begin, for
the weather has been warm, and I hear the hurdles are already fixed. And
there will be somewhat of a merry-making, no doubt; and--and the road
from Evesham hither is a fair and goodly road, that a handsome young
stranger might well come riding along. What then, good mouse? If one
were to meet him in the lane that crosses to Shottery--and to bid him to
the feast--what then?"

"Oh, Judith, surely you are not still thinking of that dangerous man!"
the other exclaimed.

But Judith merely regarded her for a second, with the clear-shining eyes
now become quite demure and inscrutable.



Next morning was Sunday; and Judith, having got through her few domestic
duties at an early hour, and being dressed in an especially pretty
costume in honor of the holy day, thought she need no longer remain
within-doors, but would walk along to the church-yard, where she
expected to find Prudence. The latter very often went thither on a
Sunday morning, partly for quiet reverie and recalling of this one and
the other of her departed but not forgotten friends whose names were
carven on the tombstones, and partly--if this may be forgiven her--to
see how the generous mother earth had responded to her week-day labors
in the planting and tending of the graves. But when Judith, idly and
carelessly as was her wont, reached the church-yard, she found the wide,
silent space quite empty; so she concluded that Prudence had probably
been detained by a visit to some one fallen sick; and she thought she
might as well wait for her; and with that view--or perhaps out of mere
thoughtlessness--she went along to the river-side, and sat down on the
low wall there, having before her the slowly moving yellow stream and
the fair, far-stretching landscape beyond.

There had been some rain during the night; the roads she had come along
were miry; and here the grass in the church-yard was dripping with the
wet; but there was a kind of suffused rich light abroad that bespoke the
gradual breaking through of the sun; and there was a warmth in the moist
atmosphere that seemed to call forth all kinds of sweet odors from the
surrounding plants and flowers. Not that she needed these, for she had
fixed in her bosom a little nosegay of yellow-leaved mint, that was
quite sufficient to sweeten the scarcely moving air. And as she sat
there in the silence it seemed to her as if all the world were
awake--and had been awake for hours--but that all the human beings were
gone out of it. The rooks were cawing in the elms above her; the bees
hummed as they flew by into the open light over the stream; and far away
she could hear the lowing of the cattle on the farms; but there was no
sound of any human voice, nor any glimpse of any human creature in the
wide landscape. And she grew to wonder what it would be like if she were
left alone in the world, all the people gone from it, her own relatives
and friends no longer here and around her, but away in the strange
region where Hamnet was, and perhaps, on such a morning as this,
regarding her not without pity, and even, it might be, with some touch
of half-recalled affection. Which of them all should she regret the
most? Which of them all would this solitary creature--left alone in
Stratford, in an empty town--most crave for, and feel the want of? Well,
she went over these friends and neighbors and companions and would-be
lovers; and she tried to imagine what, in such circumstances, she might
think of this one and that; and which of them she would most desire to
have back on the earth and living with her. But right well she knew in
her heart that all this balancing and choosing was but a pretence. There
was but the one; the one whose briefest approval was a kind of heaven to
her, and the object of her secret and constant desire; the one who
turned aside her affection with a jest; who brought her silks and scents
from London as if her mind were set on no other things than these. And
she was beginning to wonder whether, in those imagined circumstances, he
might come to think differently of her and to understand her somewhat;
and indeed she was already picturing to herself the life they might
lead--these two, father and daughter, together in the empty and silent
but sun-lit and sufficiently cheerful town--when her idle reverie was
interrupted. There was a sound of talking behind her; doubtless the
first of the people were now coming to church; for the doors were
already open.

She looked round, and saw that this was Master Walter Blaise who had
just come through the little swinging gate, and that he was accompanied
by two little girls, one at each side of him, and holding his hand.
Instantly she turned her head away, pretending not to have seen him.

"Bless the man!" she said to herself, "what does he here of a Sunday
morning? Why is so diligent a pastor not in charge of his own flock?"

But she felt secure enough. Not only was he accompanied by the two
children, but there was this other safeguard that he would not dare to
profane the holy day by attempting anything in the way of wooing. And it
must be said that the young parson had had but few opportunities for
that, the other members of the household eagerly seeking his society
when he came to New Place, and Judith sharp to watch her chances of

The next moment she was startled by hearing a quick footstep behind her.
She did not move.

"Give you good-morrow, Judith," said he, presenting himself, and
regarding her with his keen and confident gray eyes. "I would crave a
word with you; and I trust it may be a word in season, and acceptable to

He spoke with an air of cool authority, which she resented. There was
nothing of the clownish bashfulness of young Jelleyman about him; nor
yet of the half-timid, half-sulky jealousy of Tom Quiney; but a kind of
mastery, as if his office gave him the right to speak, and commanded
that she should hear. And she did not think this fair, and she
distinctly wished to be alone; so that her face had but little welcome
in it, and none of the shining radiance of kindness that Willy Hart so

"I know you like not hearing of serious things, Judith," said he (while
she wondered whither he had sent the two little girls: perhaps into the
church?), "but I were no true friend to you, as I desire to be, if I
feared to displease you when there is need."

"What have I done, then? In what have I offended? I know we are all
miserable sinners, if that be what you mean," said she, coldly.

"I would not have you take it that way, Judith," said he; and there
really was much friendliness in his voice. "I meant to speak kindly to
you. Nay, I have tried to understand you; and perchance I do in a
measure. You are in the enjoyment of such health and spirits as fall to
the lot of few; you are well content with your life and the passing
moment; you do not like to be disturbed, or to think of the future. But
the future will come, nevertheless, and it may be with altered
circumstances; your light-heartedness may cease, sorrow and sickness may
fall upon you, and then you may wish you had learned earlier to seek for
help and consolation where these alone are to be found. It were well
that you should think of such things now, surely; you cannot live always
as you live now--I had almost said a godless life, but I do not wish to
offend; in truth, I would rather lead you in all kindliness to what I
know is the true pathway to the happiness and peace of the soul. I
would speak to you, Judith, if in no other way, as a brother in Christ;
I were no true friend to you else; nay, I have the command of the Master
whom I serve to speak and fear not."

She did not answer, but she was better content now. So long as he only
preached at her, he was within his province, and within his right.

"And bethink you, Judith," said he, with a touch of reproach in his
voice, "how and why it is you enjoy such health and cheerfulness of
spirits; surely through the Lord in His loving-kindness answering the
prayers of your pious mother. Your life, one might say, was vouchsafed
in answer to her supplications; and do you owe nothing of duty and
gratitude to God, and to God's Church, and to God's people? Why should
you hold aloof from them? Why should you favor worldly things, and walk
apart from the congregation, and live as if to-morrow were always to be
as to-day, and as if there were to be no end to life, no calling to
account as to how we have spent our time here upon earth? Dear Judith, I
speak not unkindly; I wish not to offend; but often my heart is grieved
for you; and I would have you think how trifling our present life is in
view of the great eternity whither we are all journeying; and I would
ask you, for your soul's sake, and for your peace of mind here and
hereafter, to join with us, and come closer with us, and partake of our
exercises. Indeed you will find a truer happiness. Do you not owe it to
us? Have you no gratitude for the answering of your mother's prayers?"

"Doubtless, doubtless," said she (though she would rather have been
listening in silence to the singing of the birds, that were all
rejoicing now, for the sun had at length cleared away the morning
vapors, and the woods and the meadows and the far uplands were all
shining in the brilliant new light). "I go to church as the others do,
and there we give thanks for all the mercies that have been granted."

"And is it enough, think you?" said he--and as he stood, while she sat,
she did not care to meet those clear, keen, authoritative eyes that were
bent on her. "Does your conscience tell you that you give sufficient
thanks for what God in His great mercy has vouchsafed to you?
Lip-service every seventh day!--a form of words gone through before you
take your afternoon walk! Why, if a neighbor were kind to you, you
would show him as much gratitude as that; and this is all you offer to
the Lord of heaven and earth for having in His compassion listened to
your mother's prayers, and bestowed on you life and health and a
cheerful mind?"

"What would you have me do? I cannot profess to be a saint while at
heart I am none," said she, somewhat sullenly.

It was an unlucky question. Moreover, at this moment the bells in the
tower sent forth their first throbbing peals into the startled air; and
these doubtless recalled him to the passing of time, and the fact that
presently the people would be coming into the church-yard.

"I will speak plainly to you, Judith; I take no shame to mention such a
matter on the Lord's day; perchance the very holiness of the hour and of
the spot where I have chanced to meet you will the better incline your
heart. You know what I have wished; what your family wish; and indeed
you cannot be so blind as not to have seen. It is true, I am but a
humble laborer in the Lord's vineyard; but I magnify my office; it is an
honorable work; the saving of souls, the calling to repentance, the
carrying of the Gospel to the poor and stricken ones of the earth--I say
that is an honorable calling, and one that blesses them that partake in
it, and gives a peace of mind far beyond what the worldlings dream of.
And if I have wished that you might be able and willing--through God's
merciful inclining of your heart--to aid me in this work, to become my
helpmeet, was it only of my own domestic state I was thinking? Surely
not. I have seen you from day to day--careless and content with the
trifles and idle things of this vain and profitless world; but I have
looked forward to what might befall in the future, and I have desired
with all my heart--yea, and with prayers to God for the same--that you
should be taught to seek the true haven in time of need. Do you
understand me, Judith?"

He spoke with little tenderness, and certainly with no show of
lover-like anxiety; but he was in earnest; and she had a terrible
conviction pressing upon her that her wit might not be able to save her.
The others she could easily elude when she was in the mind; this one
spoke close and clear; she was afraid to look up and face his keen,
acquisitive eyes.

"And if I do understand you, good Master Blaise," said she desperately;
"if I do understand you--as I confess I have gathered something of this
before--but--but surely--one such as I--such as you say I am--might she
not become pious--and seek to have her soul saved--without also having
to marry a parson?--if such be your meaning, good Master Blaise."

It was she who was in distress and in embarrassment; not he.

"You are not situated as many others are," said he. "You owe your life,
as one may say, to the prayers of God's people; I but put before you one
way in which you could repay the debt--by laboring in the Lord's
vineyard, and giving the health and cheerfulness that have been bestowed
on you to the comfort of those less fortunate----"

"I? Such a one as I? Nay, nay, you have shown me how all unfit I were
for that," she exclaimed, glad of this one loophole.

"I will not commend you, Judith, to your face," said he, calmly, "nor
praise such worldly gifts as others, it may be, overvalue; but in truth
I may say you have a way of winning people toward you; your presence is
welcome to the sick; your cheerfulness gladdens the troubled in heart;
and you have youth and strength and an intelligence beyond that of many.
Are all these to be thrown away?--to wither and perish as the years go
by? Nay, I seek not to urge my suit to you by idle words of wooing, as
they call it, or by allurements of flattery; these are the foolish
devices of the ballad-mongers and the players, and are well fitted, I
doubt not, for the purposes of the master of these, the father of lies
himself; rather would I speak to you words of sober truth and reason; I
would show you how you can make yourself useful in the garden of the
Lord, and so offer some thanksgiving for the bounties bestowed on you.
Pray consider it, Judith; I ask not for yea or nay at this moment; I
would have your heart meditate over it in your own privacy, when you can
bethink you of what has happened to you and what may happen to you in
the future. Life has been glad for you so far; but trouble might come;
your relatives are older than you; you might be left so that you would
be thankful to have one beside you whose arm you could lean on in time
of distress. Think over it, Judith, and may God incline your heart to
what is right and best for you."

But at this moment the first of the early comers began to make their
appearance--strolling along toward the church-yard, and chatting to each
other as they came--and all at once it occurred to her that if he and
she separated thus, he might consider that she had given some silent
acquiescence to his reasons and arguments; and this possibility alarmed

"Good Master Blaise," said she, hurriedly, "pray mistake me not. Surely,
if you are choosing a helpmeet for such high and holy reasons, it were
well that you looked further afield. I am all unworthy for such a
place--indeed I know it; there is not a maid in Stratford that would not
better become it; nay, for my own part, I know several that I could
point out to you, though your own judgment were best in such a matter. I
pray you think no more of me in regard to such a position; God help me,
I should make a parson's wife such as all the neighbors would stare at;
indeed I know there be many you could choose from--if their heart were
set in that direction--that are far better than I."

And with this protest she would fain have got away; and she was all
anxiety to catch a glimpse of Prudence, whose appearance would afford
her a fair excuse. How delightful would be the silence of the great
building and the security of the oaken pew! with what a peace of mind
would she regard the soft-colored beams of light streaming into the
chancel, and listen to the solemn organ music, and wait for the
silver-clear tones of Susan's voice! But good Master Walter would have
another word with her ere allowing her to depart.

"In truth you misjudge yourself, Judith," said he, with a firm
assurance, as if he could read her heart far better than she herself. "I
know more of the duties pertaining to such a station than you; I can
foresee that you would fulfil them worthily, and in a manner pleasing to
the Lord. Your parents, too: will you not consider their wishes before
saying a final nay?"

"My parents?" she said, and she looked up with a quick surprise. "My
mother, it may be----"

"And if your father were to approve also?"

For an instant her heart felt like lead; but before this sudden fright
had had time to tell its tale in her eyes she had reassured herself.
This was not possible.

"Has my father expressed any such wish?" said she; but well she knew
what the reply would be.

"No, he has not, Judith," he said, distinctly; "for I have not spoken to
him. But if I were to obtain his approval, would that influence you?"

She did not answer.

"I should not despair of gaining that," said he, with a calm confidence
that caused her to lift her eyes and regard him for a second, with a
kind of wonder, as it were, for she knew not what this assurance meant.
"Your father," he continued, "must naturally desire to see your future
made secure, Judith. Think what would happen to you all if an accident
befell him on his journeyings to London. There would be no man to
protect you and your mother. Dr. Hall has his own household and its
charges, and two women left by themselves would surely feel the want of
guidance and help. If I put these worldly considerations before you, it
is with no wish that you should forget the higher duty you owe to God
and his Church, and the care you should have of your own soul. Do I
speak for myself alone? I think not. I trust it is not merely selfish
hopes that have bidden me appeal to you. And you will reflect, Judith;
you will commune with yourself before saying the final yea or nay; and
if your father should approve----"

"Good Master Blaise," said she, interrupting him--and she rose and
glanced toward the straggling groups now approaching the church--"I
cannot forbid you to speak to my father, if it is your wish to do that;
but I would have him understand that it is through no desire of mine;
and--and, in truth, he must know that I am all unfit to take the charge
you would put upon me. I pray you hold it in kindness that I say
so:--and there, now," she quickly added, "is little Willie Hart, that I
have a message for, lest he escape me when we come out again."

He could not further detain her; but he accompanied her as she walked
along the path toward the little swinging gate, for she could see that
her small cousin, though he had caught sight of her, was shyly uncertain
as to whether he should come to her, and she wished to have his hand as
far as the church door. And then--alas! that such things should
befall--at the very same moment a number of the young men and maidens
also entered the church-yard; and foremost among them was Tom Quiney.
One rapid glance that he directed toward her and the parson was all that
passed; but instantly in her heart of hearts she knew the suspicion that
he had formed. An assignation?--and on a Sunday morning, too! Nay, her
guess was quickly confirmed. He did not stay to pay her even the
ordinary courtesy of a greeting. He went on with the others; he was
walking with two of the girls; his laughter and talk were louder than
any. Indeed, this unseemly mirth was continued to within a yard or two
of the church door--perhaps it was meant for her to hear?

Little Willie Hart, as he and his cousin Judith went hand in hand
through the porch, happened to look up at her.

"Judith," said he, "why are you crying?"

"I am not!" she said, angrily. And with her hand she dashed aside those
quick tears of vexation.

The boy did not pay close heed to what now went on within the hushed
building. He was wondering over what had occurred--for these mysteries
were beyond his years. But at least he knew that his cousin Judith was
no longer angry with him; for she had taken him into the pew with her,
and her arm, that was interlinked with his, was soft and warm and gentle
to the touch; and once or twice, when the service bade them to stand up,
she had put her hand kindly on his hair. And not only that, but she had
at the outset taken from her bosom the little nosegay of mint and given
it to him; and the perfume of it (for it was Judith's gift, and she had
worn it near her heart, and she had given it him with a velvet touch of
her fingers) seemed to him a strange and sweet and mystical
thing--something almost as strange and sweet and inexplicable as the
beauty and shining tenderness of her eyes.



Some few weeks passed quite uneventfully, bringing them to the end of
June; and then it was that Mistress Hathaway chanced to send a message
into the town that she would have her granddaughter Judith come over to
see her roses, of which there was a great show in the garden. Judith was
nothing loath; she felt she had somewhat neglected the old dame of late;
and so, one morning--or rather one midday it was, for the family had but
finished dinner--found her in her own room, before her mirror, busy with
an out-of-door toilet, with Prudence sitting patiently by. Judith seemed
well content with herself and with affairs in general on this warm
summer day; now she spoke to Prudence, again she idly sang a scrap of
some familiar song, while the work of adornment went on apace.

"But why such bravery, Judith?" her friend said, with a quiet smile.
"Why should you take such heed about a walk through the fields to

"Truly I know not," said Judith, carelessly; "but well I wot my
grandmother will grumble. If I am soberly dressed, she says I am a
sloven, and will never win me a husband; and if I am pranked out, she
says I am vain, and will frighten away the young men with my pride. In
Heaven's name, let them go, say I; I can do excellent well without them.
What think you of the cap, good Prue? 'Twas but last night I finished
it, and the beads I had from Warwick."

She took it up and regarded it, humming the while:

    O say, my Joan, say, my Joan, will not that do?
    I cannot come every day to woo.

"Is't not a pretty cap, good gossip?"

Prudence knew that she ought to despise such frivolities, which truly
were a snare to her, for she liked to look at Judith when she was
dressed as she was now, and she forgot to condemn these pretty colors.
On this occasion Judith was clad in a gown of light gray, or rather
buff, with a petticoat of pale blue taffeta, elaborately quilted with
her own handiwork; the small ruff she wore, which was open in front, and
partly showed her neck, was snow-white and stiffly starched; and she was
now engaged in putting on her soft brown hair this cap of gray velvet,
adorned with two rows of brass beads, and with a bit of curling feather
at the side of it. Prudence's eyes were pleased, if her conscience bade
her disapprove; nay, sometimes she had to confess that at heart she was
proud to see her dear gossip wear such pretty things, for that she
became them so well.

"Judith," said she, "shall I tell you what I heard your father say of
you last night? He was talking to Julius, and they were speaking of this
one and that, and how they did; and when you were mentioned, 'Oh yes,'
says your father, 'the wench looks bravely well; 'tis a pity she cannot
sell the painting of her cheeks: there may be many a dame at the court
would buy it of her for a goodly sum.'"

Judith gave a quick, short laugh: this was music in her ears--coming
from whence it did.

"But, Judith," said her friend, with a grave inquiry in her face, "what
is't that you have done to Tom Quiney that he comes no longer near the
house?--nay, he will avoid you when he happens to see you abroad, for
that I have observed myself, and more than once. What is the matter? How
have you offended him?"

"What have I done?" she said; and there was a swift and angry color in
her face. "Let him ask what his own evil imaginings have done. Not that
I care, in good sooth!"

"But what is it, Judith? There must be a reason."

"Why," said Judith, turning indignantly to her, "you remember,
sweetheart, the Sunday morning that Mrs. Pike's little boy was taken
ill, and you were sent for, and did not come to church? Well, I had gone
along to the church-yard to seek you, and was waiting for you, when who
must needs make his appearance but the worthy Master Blaise--nay, but I
told you, good Prue, the honor he would put upon me; and, thank Heaven,
he hath not returned to it, nor spoken to my father yet, as far as I can
learn. Then, when the good parson's sermon was over--body o' me, he let
me know right sharply I was no saint, though a saint I might become, no
doubt, were I to take him for my master--as I say, the lecture he gave
me was over, and we were walking to the church door, when who should
come by but Master Quiney and some of the others. Oh, well I know my
gentleman! The instant he clapped eyes on me he suspected there had been
a planned meeting--I could see it well--and off he goes in high dudgeon,
and not a word nor a look--before the others, mind you, before the
others, good Prue; that was the slight he put upon me. Marry, I care
not! Whither he has gone, there he may stay!"

She spoke rapidly and with warmth: despite the scorn that was in her
voice, it was clear that that public slight had touched her deeply.

"Nay, Judith," said her gentle companion, "'twere surely a world of pity
you should let an old friend go away like that--through a mischance

"An old friend?" said she. "I want none of such friends, that have ill
thoughts of you ere you can speak. Let him choose his friends elsewhere,
say I; let him keep to his tapsters, and his ale-house wenches; there he
will have enough of pleasure, I doubt not, till his head be broke in a
brawl some night!"

Then something seemed to occur to her. All at once she threw aside the
bit of ribbon she had in her fingers, and dropped on her knee before her
friend, and seized hold of Prudence's hands.

"I beseech your pardon, sweet Prue!--indeed, indeed, I knew not what I
said; they were but idle words; good mouse, I pray you heed them not. He
may have reasons for distrusting me; and in truth I complain not; 'tis a
small matter; but I would not have you think ill of him through these
idle words of mine. Nay, nay, they tell me he is sober and diligent,
that his business prospers, that he makes many friends, and that the
young men regard him as the chief of them, whether it be at merriment or
aught else."

"I am right glad to hear you speak so of the young man, Judith,"
Prudence said, in her gentle way, and yet mildly wondering at this
sudden change of tone. "If he has displeased you, be sure he will be
sorry for it, when he knows the truth."

"Nay, nay, sweet mouse," Judith said, rising and resuming her careless
manner, as she picked up the ribbon she had thrown aside. "'Tis of no
moment. I wish the young man well. I pray you speak to none of that I
have told you; perchance 'twas but an accident, and he meant no slight
at all; and then--and then," she added, with a kind of laugh, "as the
good parson seems determined that willy-nilly I must wed him and help
him in his charge of souls, that were a good ending, sweet Prue?"

She was now all equipped for setting forth, even to the feather fan that
hung from her girdle by a small silver cord.

"But I know he hath not spoken to my father yet, else I should have
heard of it, in jest or otherwise. Come, mouse, shall we go? or the good
dame will have a scolding for us."

Indeed, this chance reference to the slight put upon her in the
church-yard seemed to have left no sting behind it. She was laughing as
she went down the stair, at some odd saying of Bess Hall's that her
father had got hold of. When they went outside she linked her arm within
that of her friend, and nodded to this or the other passer-by, and had a
merry or a pleasant word for them, accordingly as they greeted her. And

    Green sleeves was all my joy,
    Green sleeves was my delight,

came naturally into her idle brain; for the day seemed a fit one for
holiday-making; the skies were clear, with large white clouds moving
slowly across the blue; and there was a fair west wind to stir the
leaves of the trees and the bushes, and to touch warmly and softly her
pink-hued cheek and pearly neck.

"Ah, me," said she, in mock desolation, "why should one go nowadays to
Shottery? What use is in't, sweet Prue, when all the magic and
enticement is gone from it? Aforetime I had the chance of meeting with
so gracious a young gentleman, that brought news of the King's court,
and spoke so soft you would think the cuckoo in the woods was still to
listen. That was something to expect when one had walked so far--the
apparition--a trembling interview--and then so civil and sweet a
farewell! But now he is gone away, I know not whither; and he has
forgotten that ever he lodged in a farm-house, like a king consorting
with shepherds; and doubtless he will not seek to return. Well----"

"You have never heard of him since, Judith?" her friend said, with rapid

"Alas, no!" she said, in the same simulated vein. "And sometimes I ask
myself whether there ever was such a youth--whether the world ever did
produce such a courtly gentleman, such a paragon, such a marvel of
courtesy--or was it not but a trick of the villain wizard? Think of it,
good Prue--to have been walking and talking with a ghost, with a thing
of air, and that twice, too! Is't not enough to chill the marrow in your
bones? Well, I would that all ghosts were as gentle and mannerly; there
would be less fear of them among the Warwickshire wenches. But do you
know, good Prue," she said, suddenly altering her tone into something of
eagerness, "there is a matter of more moment than ghosts that concerns
us now. By this time, or I am mistaken quite, there must be a goodly
bulk of the new play lying in the oaken chest; and again and again have
I tried to see whether I might dare to carry away some of the sheets,
but always there was some one to hinder. My father, you know, has been
much in the summer-house since the business of the new twenty acres was
settled; and then again, when by chance he has gone away with the
bailiff somewhere, and I have had my eye on the place, there was goodman
Matthew on the watch, or else a maid would come by to gather a dish of
green gooseberries for the baking, or Susan would have me seek out a
ripe raspberry or two for the child, or my mother would call to me from
the brew-house. But 'tis there, Prue, be sure; and there will come a
chance, I warrant; I will outwit the ancient Matthew----"

"Do you never bethink you, Judith, what your father would say were he to
discover?" her friend said, glancing at her, as they walked along the

Judith laughed, but with some heightened color.

"My father?" said she. "Truly, if he alone were to discover, I should
have easy penance. Were it between himself and me, methinks there were
no great harm done. A daughter may fairly seek to know the means that
has gained for her father the commendation of so many of the great
people, and placed him in such good estate in his own town. Marry, I
fear not my father's knowing, were I to confess to himself; but as for
the others, were they to learn of it--my mother, and Susan, and Dr.
Hall, and the pious Master Walter--I trow there might be some stormy
weather abroad. At all events, good Prue, in any such mischance, you
shall not suffer; 'tis I that will bear the blame, and all the blame;
for indeed I forced you to it, sweet mouse, and you are as innocent of
the wickedness as though you had ne'er been born."

And now they were just about to leave the main road for the foot-path
leading to Shottery, when they heard the sound of some one coming along
on horseback; and turning for a second, they found it was young Tom
Quiney, who was on a smart galloway nag, and coming at a goodly pace. As
he passed them he took off his cap, and lowered it with formal courtesy.

"Give ye good-day," said he; but he scarcely looked at them, nor did he
pull up for further talk or greeting.

"We are in such haste to be rich nowadays," said Judith, with a touch of
scorn in her voice, as the two maidens set forth to walk through the
meadows, "that we have scarce time to be civil to our friends."

But she bore away no ill-will; the day was too fine for that. The soft
west wind was tempering the heat and stirring the leaves of the elms;
red and white wild roses were sprinkled among the dark green of the
hedges; there was a perfume of elder blossom in the air; and perhaps
also a faint scent of hay, for in the distance they could see the mowers
at work among the clover, and could see the long sweep of the scythe.
The sun lay warm on the grass and the wild flowers around them; there
was a perfect silence but for the singing of the birds; and now and
again they could see one of the mowers cease from his work, and a soft
clinking sound told them that he was sharpening the long, curving blade.
They did not walk quickly; it was an idle day.

Presently some one came up behind them and overtook them. It was young
Master Quiney, who seemed to have changed his mind, and was now on foot.

"You are going over to Shottery, Prudence?" said he.

Prudence flushed uneasily. Why should he address her, and have no word
for Judith?

"Yes," said she; "Mistress Hathaway would have us see her roses; she is
right proud of them this year."

"'Tis a good year for roses," said he, in a matter-of-fact way, and as
if there were no restraint at all on any of the party.

And then it seemed to occur to him that he ought to account for his

"I guessed you were going to Shottery," said he, indifferently, and
still addressing himself exclusively to Prudence; "and I got a lad to
take on the nag and meet me at the cross-road; the short-cut through the
meadows is pleasant walking. To Mistress Hathaway's, said you? I dare
promise you will be pleased with the show; there never was such a year
for roses; and not a touch of blight anywhere, as I have heard. And a
fine season for the crops, too; just such weather as the farmers might
pray for; Look at that field of rye over there, now--is't not a goodly

He was talking with much appearance of self-possession; it was Prudence
who was embarrassed. As for Judith, she paid no heed; she was looking
before her at the hedges and the elms, at the wild flowers around, and
at the field of bearded rye that bent in rustling gray-green undulations
before the westerly breeze.

"And how does your brother, Prudence?" he continued. "'Tis well for him
his business goes on from year to year without respect of the seasons;
he can sleep o' nights without thinking of the weather. It is the common
report that the others of the Town Council hold him in great regard, and
will have him become alderman ere long; is it not so?"

"I have heard some talk of it," Prudence said, with her eyes cast down.

At this moment they happened to be passing some patches of the common
mallow that were growing by the side of the path; and the tall and
handsome youth who was walking with the two girls (but who never once
let his eyes stray in the direction of Judith) stooped down and pulled
one of the brightest clusters of the pale lilac blossoms.

"You have no flower in your dress, Prudence," said he, offering them to

"Nay, I care not to wear them," said she; and she would rather have
declined them, but as he still offered them to her, how could she help
accepting them and carrying them in her hand? And then, in desperation,
she turned and addressed the perfectly silent and impassive Judith.

"Judith," said she, "you might have brought the mastiff with you for a

"Truly I might, sweetheart," said Judith, cheerfully, "but that my
grandmother likes him not in the garden; his ways are overrough."

"Now that reminds me," said he, quickly (but always addressing
Prudence), "of the little spaniel-gentle that I have. Do you know the
dog, Prudence? 'Tis accounted a great beauty, and of the true Maltese
breed. Will you accept him from me? In truth I will hold it a favor if
you will take the little creature."

"I?" said Prudence, with much amazement; for she had somehow vaguely
heard that the dog had been purchased and brought to Stratford for the
very purpose of being presented to Judith.

"I assure you 'tis just such an one as would make a pleasant companion
for you," said he; "a gentle creature as ever was, and affectionate
too--a most pleasant and frolicsome playfellow. Will you take it,
Prudence? for what can I do with the little beast? I have no one to look
after it."

"I had thought you meant Judith to have the spaniel," said she, simply.

"Nay, how would that do, sweetheart?" said Judith, calmly. "Do you think
the Don would brook such invasion of his domain? Would you have the
little thing killed? You should take it, good cousin; 'twill be company
for you should you be alone in the house."

She had spoken quite as if she had been engaged in the conversation all
the way through; there was no appearance of anger or resentment at his
ostentatious ignoring of her presence: whatever she felt she was too
proud to show.

"Then you will take the dog, Prudence," said he. "I know I could not
give it into gentler hands, for you could not but show it kindness, as
you show to all."

"Give ye good thanks," said Prudence, with her pale face flushing with
renewed embarrassment, "for the offer of the gift; but in truth I doubt
if it be right and seemly to waste such care on a dumb animal when there
be so many of our fellow-creatures that have more pressing claims on us.
And there are enough of temptations to idleness without our wilfully
adding to them. But I thank you for the intention of your
kindness--indeed I do."

"Nay, now, you shall have it, good Prudence, whether you will or no,"
said he with a laugh. "You shall bear with the little dog but for a
week, that I beg of you; and then if it please you not, if you find no
amusement in its tricks and antics, I will take it back again. 'Tis a
bargain; but as to your sending of it back, I have no fears; I warrant
you 'twill overcome your scruples, for 'tis a most cunning and crafty
playfellow, and merry withal; nor will it hinder you from being as kind
and helpful to those around you as you have ever been. I envy the dog
that is to have so gentle a guardian."

They were now come to a parting of the ways; and he said he would turn
off to the left, so as to reach the lane at the end of which his nag was
awaiting him.

"And with your leave, Prudence," said he, "I will bring the little
spaniel to your house this evening, for I am only going now as far as
Bidford; and if your brother be at home he may have half an hour to
spare, that we may have a chat about the Corporation, and the new
ordinances they propose to make. And so fare you well, and good wishes
go with you!"

And with that he departed, and was soon out of sight.

"Oh, Judith," Prudence exclaimed, almost melting into tears, "my heart
is heavy to see it!"

"What, then, good cousin?" said Judith, lightly.

"The quarrel."

"The quarrel, dear heart! Think of no such thing. In sober truth, dear
Prudence, I would not have matters other than they are; I would not; I
am well content; and as for Master Quiney, is not he improved? Did ever
mortal hear him speak so fair before? Marry, he hath been learning good
manners, and profited well. But there it is; you are so gentle,
sweetheart, that every one, no matter who, must find you good company;
while I am fractious, and ill to bear with; and do I marvel to see any
one prefer your smooth ways and even disposition? And when he comes
to-night, heed you, you must thank him right civilly for bringing you
the little spaniel; 'tis a great favor; the dog is one of value that
many would prize----"

"I cannot take it--I will not have it. 'Twas meant for you, Judith, as
well you know," the other cried, in real distress.

"But you must and shall accept the gift," her friend said, with
decision. "Ay, and show yourself grateful for his having singled you out
withal. Neither himself nor his spaniel would go long a-begging in
Stratford, I warrant you; give him friendly welcome, sweetheart."

"He went away without a word to you, Judith."

"I am content."

"But why should it be thus?" Prudence said, almost piteously.

"Why? Dear mouse, I have told you. He and I never did agree; 'twas ever
something wrong on one side or the other; and wherefore should not he
look around for a gentler companion? 'Twere a wonder should he do aught
else; and now he hath shown more wisdom than ever I laid to his credit."

"But the ungraciousness of his going, Judith," said the gentle Prudence,
who could in no wise understand the apparent coolness with which Judith
seemed to regard the desperate thing that had taken place.

"Heaven have mercy! why should that trouble you if it harm not me?" was
the instant answer. "My spirits are not like to be dashed down for want
of a 'fare you well.' In good sooth, he had given you so much of his
courtesy and fair speeches that perchance he had none to spare for

By this time they were come to the little wooden gate leading into the
garden; and it was no wonder they should pause in passing through that
to regard the bewildering and glowing luxuriance of foliage and blossom,
though this was but a cottage inclosure, and none of the largest. The
air seemed filled with the perfume of this summer abundance; and the
clear sunlight shone on the various masses of color--roses red and
white, pansies, snapdragon, none-so-pretty, sweet-williams of every
kind, to say nothing of the clustering honeysuckle that surrounded the
cottage door.

"Was't not worth the trouble, sweetheart?" Judith said. "Indeed, the
good dame does well to be proud of such a pageant."

As she spoke her grandmother suddenly made her appearance, glancing
sharply from one to the other of them.

"Welcome, child, welcome," she said, "and to you, sweet Mistress Shawe."

And yet she did not ask them to enter the cottage; there was some kind
of hesitation about the old dame's manner that was unusual.

"Well, grandmother," said Judith, gayly, "have you no grumbling? My cap
I made myself; then must it be out of fashion. Or I did not make it
myself; then it must have cost a mint of money. Or what say you to my
petticoat--does not the color offend you? Shall I ever attain to the
pleasing of you, think you, good grandmother?"

"Wench, wench, hold your peace!" the old dame said, in a lower voice.
"There is one within that may not like the noise of strangers--though he
be no stranger to you, as he says----"

"What, grandmother?" Judith exclaimed, and involuntarily she shrank back
a little, so startled was she. "A stranger? In the cottage? You do not
mean the young gentleman that is in hiding--that I met in the lane----"

"The same, Judith, the same," she said, quickly; "and I know not whether
he would wish to be seen by more than needs be----"

She glanced at Judith, who understood: moreover, the latter had pulled
together her courage again.

"Have no fear, good grandmother," said she; and she turned to Prudence.
"You hear, good Prue, who is within."

"Yes," the other answered, but somewhat breathless.

"Now, then, is such an opportunity as may ne'er occur again," Judith
said. "You will come with me, good Prue? Nay, but you must."

"Indeed I shall not!" Prudence exclaimed, stepping back in affright.
"Not for worlds, Judith, would I have aught to do with such a thing. And
you, Judith, for my sake, come away! We will go back to Stratford!--we
will look at the garden some other time!--in truth, I can see your
grandmother is of my mind too. Judith, for the love of me, come!--let us
get away from this place!"

Judith regarded her with a strange kind of smile.

"I have had such courtesy and fair manners shown me to-day, sweet
Prue," said she, with a sort of gracious calmness, "that I am fain to
seek elsewhere for some other treatment, lest I should grow vain. Will
it please you wait for me in the garden, then? Grandmother, I am going
in with you to help you give your guest good welcome."

"Judith!" the terrified Prudence exclaimed, in a kind of despair.

But Judith, with her head erect, and with a perfect and proud
self-possession, had followed her grandmother into the house.



The distance between this luxuriant garden, all radiant and glowing in
light and color, and the small and darkened inner room of the cottage,
was but a matter of a few yards; yet in that brief space, so alert was
her brain, she had time to reconsider much. And with her, pride or anger
was always of short duration, the sunny cheerfulness of her nature
refusing to harbor such uncongenial guests. Why, she asked herself,
should she take umbrage at the somewhat too open neglect that had just
been shown her? Was it not tending in the very direction she had herself
desired? Had she not begged and prayed him to give Prudence the little
spaniel-gentle? Nay, had she not wilfully gone and buried in the
church-yard the bit of rosemary that he had sent her to keep, putting it
away from her with the chance of it summoning an unknown lover? So now,
she said to herself, she would presently come out again to the poor
affrighted Prudence, and would reassure her, and congratulate her,
moreover, with words of good cheer and comfort for the future.

And then again, in this lightning-like survey of the situation, she was
conscious that she was becomingly dressed--and right glad indeed that
she had chanced to put on the gray velvet cap with the brass beads and
the curling feather; and she knew that the young gentleman would be
courteous and civil, with admiring eyes. Moreover, she had a vague
impression that he was somewhat too much given to speak of Ben Jonson;
and she hoped for some opportunity to let him understand that her father
was one of good estate, and much thought of by every one around, whose
daughter knew what was due to his position, and could conduct herself
not at all as a country wench. And so it was that the next minute found
her in the twilight of the room; and there, truly enough, he was,
standing at the small window.

"Give ye good welcome sir," said she.

"What! fair Mistress Judith?" he said, as he quickly turned round. And
he would have come forward and kissed her hand, perchance, but that a
moment's hesitation prevented him.

"It may be that I have offended you," said he, diffidently.

"In what, good sir?"

She was quite at her ease; the little touch of modest color in her face
could scarcely be attributed to rustic shyness; it was but natural; and
it added to the gentleness of her look.

"Nay, then, sweet lady, 'twas but a lack of courage that I would ask you
to pardon," said he--though he did not seem conscious of heavy guilt, to
judge by the way in which his black and eloquent eyes regarded Judith's
face and the prettinesses of her costume. "There was a promise that I
should communicate with you if I returned to this part of the country;
but I found myself not bold enough to take advantage of your kindness.
However, fortune has been my friend, since again I meet you; 'tis the
luckiest chance; I but asked your good grandmother here for a cup of
water as I passed, and she would have me take a cup of milk instead; and
then she bade me to come in out of the heat for a space--which I was
nothing loath to do, as you may guess; and here have I been taking up
the good lady's time with I know not what of idle gossip----"

"But sit ye down, grandchild," the good dame said; "and you, sir, pray
sit you down. Here, wench," she called to the little maid that was her
sole domestic; "go fill this jug from the best barrel."

And then she herself proceeded to get down from the high wooden rail
some of the pewter trenchers that shone there like a row of white moons
in the dusk; and these she placed on the table, with one or two knives;
and then she began to get forth cakes, a cheese, a ham, some spiced
bread, the half of a cold gooseberry-tart, and what not.

"'Tis not every day we come by a visitor in these quiet parts," said
she--"ay, good sir, and one that is not afraid to speak out his mind.
Nay, nay, grandchild, I tell thee sit thee down; thou art too fine a
madam this morning to meddle wi' kitchen matters. Tell the gentleman I
be rather deaf; but I thank him for his good company. Sit ye down,
sweeting; sooth, you look bravely this morning."

"Have I pleased you at last, grandmother?--'tis a miracle, surely," she
said, with a smile; and then she turned gravely to entertain the old
dame's visitor. "I hope your fortunes have mended, sir," said she.

"In a measure--somewhat; but still I am forced to take heed--"

"Perchance you have still the letter to my father?" she asked.

"Nay, madam, I considered it a prudent thing to destroy it--little as
that was in my heart."

"I had thought on your next coming to the neighborhood that you would
have taken the chance to make my father's friendship," said she, and not
without some secret disappointment; for she was anxious that this
acquaintance of Ben Jonson's should see the New Place, with all its
tapestries, and carved wood, and silver-gilt bowls; with its large fair
garden, too, and substantial barns and stables. Perhaps she would have
had him carry the tale to London? There were some things (she
considered) quite as fine as the trumpery masques and mummeries of the
court that the London people seemed to talk about. She would have liked
him to see her father at the head of his own table, with her mother's
napery shining, and plenty of good friends round the board, and her
father drinking to the health of Bess Hall out of the silver-topped
tankard that Thomas Combe, and Russell, and Sadler, and Julius Shawe,
and the rest of them, had given him on his last birthday. Or perchance
she would have had him see her father riding through the town of
Stratford with some of these good neighbors (and who the handsomest of
all the company? she would make bold to ask), with this one and that
praising the Evesham roan, and the wagoners as they passed touching
their caps to "worthy Mahster Shacksper." Ben Jonson! Well, she had seen
Ben Jonson. There was not a maid in the town would have looked his way.
Whereas, if there were any secret enchantments going forward on
Hallowmas-eve (and she knew of such, if the ministers did not), and if
the young damsels were called on to form a shape in their brain as they
prayed for the handsome lover that was to be sent them in the future,
she was well aware what type of man they would choose from amongst those
familiar to them; and also it had more than once reached her ears that
the young fellows would jokingly say among themselves that right well it
was that Master Shakespeare was married and in safe-keeping, else they
would never have a chance. In the meanwhile, and with much courtesy,
this young gentleman was endeavoring to explain to her why it was he
dared not go near Stratford town.

"Truly, sweet Mistress Judith," said he, in his suave voice, and with
modestly downcast eyes, "it is a disappointment to me in more regards
than one; perchance I dare not say how much. But in these times one has
to see that one's own misfortunes may not prove harmful to one's
friends; and then again, ever since the French King's murder, they are
becoming harder and harder against any one, however innocent he may be,
that is under suspicion. And whom do they not suspect? The Parliament
have entreated the King to be more careful of his safety; and the
recusants--as they call those that have some regard for the faith they
were brought up in--must not appear within ten miles of the court. Nay,
they are ordered to betake themselves to their own dwellings; and by the
last proclamation all Roman priests, Jesuits, and seminaries are
banished the kingdom. I wonder not your good grandmother should have a
word of pity for them that are harried this way and that for conscience'

"I say naught, I say naught; 'twere well to keep a still tongue," the
old dame said, being still busy with the table. "But I have heard there
wur more peace and quiet in former days when there wur but one faith in
the land; ay, and good tending of the poor folk by the monks and the
rich houses."

However, the chance reference to the French King had suddenly recalled
to Judith that Prudence was waiting her in the garden; and her
conscience smote her for her neglect; while she was determined that so
favorable an opportunity should not be lost of banishing once and
forever her dear gossip's cruel suspicions. So she rose.

"I crave your pardon, good sir," said she, "if I leave you for a moment
to seek my gossip Prudence Shawe, that was to wait for me in the garden.
I would have you acquainted with each other; but pray you, sir, forbear
to say anything against the Puritan section of the church, for she is
well inclined that way, and she has a heart that is easily wounded."

"And thank you for the caution, fair Mistress Judith," said he; and he
rose, and bowed low, and stood hat in hand until she had left the

At first, so blinding was the glare of light and color, she could hardly
see; but presently, when her eyes were less dazzled, she looked
everywhere, and found the garden quite empty. She called; there was no
answer. She went down to the little gate; there was no one in the road.
And so, taking it for granted that Prudence had sought safety in flight,
and was now back in Stratford town, or on the way thither, she returned
into the cottage with a light heart, and well content to hear what news
was abroad.

"Pray you, sir," said old Mistress Hathaway, "sit in to the table; and
you, grandchild, come your ways. If the fare be poor, the welcome is
hearty. What, then, Judith? Dined already, sayst thou? Body o' me, a
fresh-colored young wench like you should be ready for your dinner at
any time. Well, well, sit thee in, and grace the table; and you shall
sip a cup of claret for the sake of good company."

Master Leofric Hope, on the other hand, was not at all backward in
applying himself to this extemporized meal; on the contrary, he did it
such justice as fairly warmed the old dame's heart. And he drank to her,
moreover, bending low over his cup of ale; but he did not do the like by
Judith--for some reason or another. And all the while he was telling
them of the affairs of the town; as to how there was much talking of the
new river that was to bring water from some ten or twelve miles off, and
how one Middleton was far advanced with the cutting of it, although many
were against it, and would have the project overthrown altogether. Of
these and similar matters he spoke right pleasantly, and the old dame
was greatly interested; but Judith grew to think it strange that so much
should be said about public affairs, and what the people were talking
about, and yet no mention made of her father. And so it came about, when
he went on to tell them of the new ship of war that so many were going
to see at Woolwich, and that the King made so much of, she said:

"Oh, my father knows all about that ship. 'Twas but the other day I
heard him and Master Combe speak of it; and of the King too; and my
father said, 'Poor man, 'tis a far smaller ship than that he will make
his last voyage in.'"

"Said he that of the King?"

She looked up in quick alarm.

"But as he would have said it of me, or of you, or of any one," she
exclaimed. "Nay, my father is well inclined toward the King, though he
be not as much at the court as some, nor caring to make pageants for the
court ladies and their attendants and followers."

If there were any sarcasm in this speech, he did not perceive it; for it
merely led him on to speak of the new masque that Ben Jonson was
preparing for the Prince Henry; and incidentally he mentioned that the
subject was to be Oberon, the Fairy Prince.

"Oberon?" said Judith, opening her eyes. "Why, my father hath writ about

"Oh, yes, as we all know," said he, courteously; "but there will be a

"A difference?" said she. "By my life, yes! There will be a difference.
I wonder that Master Jonson was not better advised."

"Nay, in this matter, good Mistress Judith," said he, "there will be no
comparison. I know 'tis the fashion to compare them----"

"To compare my father and Master Jonson?" she said, as if she had not
heard aright. "Why, what comparison? In what way? Pray you remember,
sir, I have seen Master Ben Jonson. I have seen him, and spoken with
him. And as for my father, I'll be bound there is not his fellow for a
handsome presence and gracious manners in all Warwickshire--no, nor in
London town neither, I'll be sworn!"

"I meant not that, sweet lady," said he, with a smile; and he added,
grimly: "I grant you our Ben looks as if he had been in the wars; he
hath had a tussle with Bacchus on many a merry night, and bears the
scars of these noble combats. No; 'tis the fashion to compare them as

"I'd as lief compare them as men, good sir," said she, with a touch of
pride; "and I know right well which should have my choice."

"When it is my good fortune, dear lady," said the young man, "to have
Master William Shakespeare's daughter sitting before me, I need no other
testimony to his grace and bearing, even had I never set eyes on him."
And with that he bowed low; and there was a slight flush on her face
that was none of displeasure; while the old dame said:

"Ay, ay, there be many a wench in Warwickshire worse favored than she.
Pray Heaven it turn not her head! The wench is a good wench, but ill to
manage; and 'twere no marvel if the young men got tired of waiting."

To escape from any further discussion of this subject, Judith proposed
that they should go out and look at her grandmother's roses and pansies,
which was in truth the object of her visit; and she added that if Master
Hope (this was the first time she had named him by his name) were still
desirous of avoiding observation, they could go to the little bower at
the upper hedge-row, which was sufficiently screened from the view of
any passer-by. The old dame was right willing, for she was exceedingly
proud of this garden, that had no other tending than her own; and so she
got her knitting-needles and ball of wool, and preceded them out into
the warm air and the sunlight.

"Dear, dear me," said she, stopping to regard two small shrubs that
stood withered and brown by the side of the path. "There be something
strange in that rosemary, now; in good sooth there be. Try as I may, I
cannot bring them along; the spring frost makes sure to kill them." And
then she went on again.

"Strange, indeed," said the young man to his companion, these two being
somewhat behind, "that a plant that is so fickle and difficult to hold
should be the emblem of constancy."

"I know not what they do elsewhere," said Judith, carelessly pulling a
withered leaf or two to see if they were quite inodorous, "but
hereabouts they often use a bit of rosemary for a charm, and the
summoning of spirits."

He started somewhat, and glanced at her quickly and curiously. But there
was clearly no subtle intention in the speech. She idly threw away the

"Have you faith in such charms, Mistress Judith?" said he, still
regarding her.

"In truth I know not," she answered, as if the question were of but
little moment. "There be some who believe in them, and others that
laugh. But strange stories are told; marry, there be some of them that
are not pleasant to hear of a winter's night, when one has to change the
warm chimney-corner for the cold room above. There is my grandmother,
she hath a rare store of them; but they fit not well with the
summer-time and with such a show as this."

"A goodly show, indeed," said he; and by this time they were come to a
small arbor of rude lattice-work mostly smothered in foliage; and there
was a seat within it, and also a tiny table; while in front they were
screened from the gaze of any one going along the road by a straggling
and propped-up wall of peas that were now showing their large white
blossoms plentifully among the green.

"'Tis a quiet spot," said he, when they were seated, and the old dame
had taken to her knitting; "'tis enough to make one pray never to hear
more of the din and turmoil of London."

"I should have thought, sir," said Judith, "you would have feared to go
near London, if there be those that would fain get to know of your

"Truly," said he, "I have no choice. I must run the risk. From time to
time I must seek to see whether the cloud that is hanging over me give
signs of breaking. And surely such must now be the case, when fortune
hath been so kind to me as to place me where I am at this moment--in
such company--with such a quiet around. 'Tis like the work of a
magician; though from time to time I remind me that I should rise and
leave, craving your pardon for intruding on you withal."

"Trouble not yourself, young sir," the old dame said, in her
matter-of-fact way, as she looked up from her knitting; "if the place
content you, 'tis right well; we be in no such hurry in these country
parts; we let the day go by as it lists, and thank God for a sound
night's rest at the end of it."

"And you have a more peaceful and happy life than the London citizens,
I'll be bound," said he, "with all their feasts and gayeties and the
noise of drums and the like."

"We hear but the murmur of such things from a far distance," Judith
said. "Was there not a great to-do on the river when the citizens gave
their welcome to the Prince?"

"Why, there, now," said he, brightening up at this chance of repaying in
some measure the courtesy of his entertainers; "there was as wonderful a
thing as London ever saw. A noble spectacle, truly; for the Companies
would not be outdone; and such bravery of apparel, and such a banqueting
in the afternoon! And perchance you heard of it but through some
news-letter! Shall I tell you what I saw on my own part?"

"If it be not too troublesome to you, good sir."

He was glad enough; for he had noticed, when he was describing such
things, that Judith's eyes grew absent, and he could gaze at them
without fear of causing her to start and blush. Moreover, it was a
pretty face to tell a story to; and the day was so still and shining;
and all around them there was a scent of roses in the air.

"Why, it was about daybreak, as I should think," he said, "that the
citizens began to come forth; and a bright fair morning it was; and all
of them in their best array. And you may be sure that when the Companies
learned that the whole of the citizens were minded to show their love
for the Prince Henry on his coming back from Richmond, they were not
like to be behindhand; and such preparations had been made as you would
scarce believe. Well, then, so active were they in their several ways
that by eight of the clock the Companies were all assembled in their
barges of state to wait the Lord Mayor and Aldermen; and such a sound of
drums and trumpets and fifes was there; and the water covered with the
fleet, and the banks all crowded with them that had come down to see.
Then the Lord Mayor and the Aldermen being arrived, the great procession
set forth in state; and such a booming of cannon there was, and cheering
from the crowd. 'Twas a sight, on my life; for they bore the pageant
with them--that was a huge whale and a dolphin; and on the whale sat a
fair and lovely nymph, Corinea she was called, the Queen of Cornwall;
and she had a coronet of strange sea-shells, and strings of pearls
around her neck and on her wrists; and her dress was of crimson silk, so
that all could make her out from a distance; and she had a silver shield
slung on to her left arm, and in her right hand a silver spear--oh, a
wonderful sight she was; I marvel not the crowd cheered and cheered
again. Then on the other animal--that is, the dolphin--sat one that
represented Amphion--he was the father of music, as you must know; and a
long beard he wore, and he also had a wreath of sea-shells on his head,
and in his hand a harp of gold that shone in the sun. Well, away they
set toward Chelsea; and there they waited for the Prince's approach----"

"And the young Prince himself," Judith said, quickly and eagerly; "he
bears himself well, does he not? He bears himself like a prince? He
would match such a pageant right royally, is't not so?"

"Why, he is the very model and mirror of princehood!--the pink of
chivalry!--nor is there one of them at the court that can match him at
the knightly exercises," said this enthusiastic chronicler, who had his
reward in seeing how interested she was. "Well, when the young Prince
was come to Chelsea, there he paused; and the Queen Corinea addressed
him in a speech of welcome--truly, I could not hear a word of it, there
was such a noise among the multitude; but I was told thereafter that it
presented him with their love and loyal duty; and then they all set
forth toward Whitehall again. By this time 'twas late in the day; and no
man would have believed so many dwelt in the neighborhood of our great
river; and that again was as naught to the crowd assembled when they
were come again to the town. And here--as it must have been arranged
beforehand, doubtless--the fleet of barges separated and formed two long
lines, so as to make a lane for the Prince to pass through, with great
cheering and shouting, so that when they were come to the court steps,
he was at the head of them all. And now it was that the dolphin
approached, and Amphion, that was riding on his back, bid the Prince a
loyal farewell in the name of all the citizens; and at the end of the
speech--which, in truth the people guessed at rather than heard--there
was such a tumult of huzzas, and a firing of cannon, and the drums and
the trumpets sounding, and on every hand you could hear nothing but
'Long live our Prince of Wales, the Royal Henry!'"

"And he bore himself bravely, I'll dare be sworn!" she exclaimed. "I
have heard my father speak of him; he is one that will uphold the honor
of England when he comes to the throne!"

"And there was such a feasting and rejoicing that evening," he
continued, "within doors and without; and many an honest man, I fear me,
transgressed, and laid the train for a sore-distracted head next day.
Then 'twas some two or three evenings after that, if I remember aright,
that we had the great water-fight and the fire-works; but perchance you
heard of these, sweet Mistress Judith?"

"In truth, good sir," she answered, "I heard of these, as of the welcome
you speak of, but in so scant a way as to be worth naught. 'Tis not a
kind of talking that is encouraged at our house; unless, indeed, when
Julius Shawe and Master Combe and some of them come in of an evening to
chat with my father; and then sometimes I contrive to linger, with the
bringing in of a flagon of Rhenish or the like, unless I am chid and
sent forth. I pray you, good sir, if I do not outwear your patience, to
tell us of the water-fight, too."

"'Tis I that am more like to outwear your patience, fair Judith," said
he. "I would I had a hundred fights to tell you of. But this one--well,
'twas a goodly pageant; and a vast crowd was come down to the water's
edge to see what was going forward, for most of the business of the day
was over, and both master and 'prentice were free. And very soon we saw
how the story was going; for there was a Turkish pirate, with fierce men
with blackened faces; and they would plunder two English merchantmen and
make slaves of the crews. This was but the beginning of the fight; and
there was great firing of guns and manoeuvring of the vessels; and the
merchantmen were like to fare badly, not being trained to arms like the
pirate. In sooth they were sore bestead; but presently up came two ships
of war to rescue; and then the coil began in good earnest, I warrant
you; for there was boarding and charging and clambering over the
bulwarks--ay, and many a man on both sides knocked into the sea; until
in the end they had killed or secured all the pirates, and then there
was naught to do but to blow up the pirate ship into the air, with a
noise like thunder, and scarce a rag or spar of him remaining. 'Twas a
right good ending, I take it, in the minds of the worthy citizens;
doubtless they hoped that every Turkish rogue would be served the like.
And then it was that the blowing up of the pirate ship was a kind of
signal for the beginning of the fire-works; and it had grown to dusk
now, so that the blazes of red light and blue light and the whizzing of
the squibs and what not seemed to fill all the air. 'Twas a rare climax
to the destruction of the Turks; and the people cheered and cheered
again when 'twas well done; and then at the end came a great discharge
of guns and squibs and showers of stars, that one would have thought the
whole world was on fire. Sure I am that the waters of the Thames never
saw such a sight before. And the people went home right well content,
and I doubt not drank to the confusion of all pirates, as well as to the
health of the young Prince, that is to preserve the realm to us in years
to come."

They talked for some time thereafter about that and other matters, and
about his own condition and occupations at the farm; and then he rose,
and there was a smile on his face.

"You know, fair Mistress Judith," said he, "that a wise man is careful
not to out-stay his welcome, lest it be not offered to him again; and
your good grandmother has afforded me so pleasant an hour's gossip and
good company that I would fain look forward to some other chance of the
same in the future."

"Must you go, good sir?" said Judith, also rising. "I trust we have not
over-taxed your patience. We country folk are hungry listeners."

"To have been awarded so much of your time, sweet Mistress Judith," said
he, bowing very low, "is an honor I am not likely to forget."

And then he addressed the old dame, who had missed something of this.

"Give ye good thanks for your kindness, good Mistress Hathaway," said

"Good fortune attend ye, sir," said the old dame, contentedly, and
without ceasing from her knitting.

Judith was standing there, with her eyes cast down.

"Sweet lady, by your leave," said he, and he took her hand and raised it
and just touched her fingers with his lips. Then he bowed low again, and

"Fare you well, good sir," Judith had said at the same moment, but
without any word as to a future meeting. Then she returned into the
little arbor and sat down.

"Is't not like a meteor, grandmother, shooting across the sky?" said
she, merrily. "Beshrew me, but the day has grown dark since he left!
Didst ever hear of such a gallymawfrey of dolphins and whales, and
prince's barges, and the roaring of cannon, and fire-works? Sure 'tis
well we live in the country quiet, our ears would be riven in twain
else. And you, grandmother, that was ever preaching about prudent
behavior, to be harboring one that may be an outlaw--a recusant;
perchance he hath drawn his sword in the King's presence----"

"What know you of the young gentleman, Judith?" the old dame said,

"Marry, not a jot beyond what he hath doubtless told to yourself, good
grandmother. But see you any harm in him? Have you suspicion of him?
Would you have me think--as Prudence would fain believe--that there is
witchcraft about him?"

"Truly I see no harm in the young gentleman," the old grandmother was
constrained to say. "And he be fair-spoken, and modest withal. But look
you to this, wench, should you chance to meet him again while he bideth
here in this neighborhood--I trow 'twere better you did not--but should
that chance, see you keep a still tongue in your head about Church and
King and Parliament. Let others meddle who choose; 'tis none of your
affairs: do you hear me, child? These be parlous times, as the talk is;
they do well that keep the by-ways, and let my lord's coaches go whither
they list."

"Grandmother," said Judith, gravely, "I know there be many things in
which I cannot please you, but this sin that you would lay to my
charge--nay, dear grandam, when have you caught me talking about Church
and King and Parliament? Truly I wish them well; but I am content if
they go their own way."

The old dame glanced at her, to see what this demure tone of speech

"Thou?" she said, in a sort of grumble. "Thy brain be filled with other
gear, I reckon. 'Tis a bit of ribbon that hath hold of thee; or the
report as to which of the lads shot best at the match; or perchance 'tis
the purchase of some penny ballads, that you may put the pictures on
your chamber wall, as if you were a farm wench just come in from the
milking pail."

"Heaven have pity on me, good grandmother," said she, with much
penitence, and she looked down at her costume, "but I can find no way of
pleasing you. You scold me for being but a farm wench; and truly this
petticoat, though it be pretty enough, methinks might have been made of
a costlier stuff; and my cap--good grandmother, look at my cap--"

She took it off, and smoothed the gray velvet of it, and arranged the
beads and the feather.

"--is the cap also too much of the fashion of a farm wench? or have I
gone amiss the other way, and become too like a city dame? Would that I
knew how to please you, grandam!"

"Go thy ways, child; get thee home!" the old woman said, but only half
angrily. "Thy foolish head hath been turned by hearing of those court
gambols. Get you to your needle; be your mother's napery all so well
mended that you can spend the whole day in idleness?"

"Nay, but you are in the right there, good grandmother," said Judith,
drawing closer to her, and taking her thin and wrinkled hand in her own
warm, white, soft ones. "But not to the needle--not to the needle, good
grandam; I have other eggs on the spit. Did not I tell you of the
Portugal receipts that Prudence got for me?--in good sooth I did; well,
the dishes were made; and next day at dinner my father was right well
pleased. 'Tis little heed he pays to such matters; and we scarce thought
of asking him how he liked the fare, when all at once he said: 'Good
mother, you must give my thanks to Jane cook; 'twill cheer her in her
work; nay, I owe them.' Then says my mother: 'But these two dishes were
not prepared by the cook, good husband; 'twas one of the maids.' 'One of
the maids?' he says. 'Well, which one of the maids? Truly, 'tis
something rare to be found in a country house.' And then there was a
laughing amongst all of them; and he fixes his eyes on me. 'What?' he
says, 'that saucy wench? Is she striving to win her a husband at last?'
And so you see, good grandmother, I must waste no more time here, for
Prudence hath one or two more of these receipts; and I must try them to
see whether my father approves or not."

And so she kissed the old dame, and bade her farewell, refusing at the
same time to have the escort of the small maid across the meadows to the

All the temporary annoyance of the morning was now over and forgotten;
she was wholly pleased to have had this interview, and to have heard
minutely of all the great doings in London. She walked quickly; a
careless gladness shone in her face; and she was lightly singing to
herself, as she went along the well-beaten path through the fields,

    "Sigh no more, ladies, sigh no more,
      Men were deceivers ever."

But it was not in the nature of any complaint against the inconstancy of
man that this rhyme had come into her head. Quite other thoughts came as
well. At one moment she was saying to herself:

"Why, now, have I no spaniel-gentle with me to keep me company?"

And then the next minute she was saying with a sort of laugh:

"God help me, I fear I am none of the spaniel-gentle kind!"

But there was no deep smiting of conscience even when she confessed so
much. Her face was radiant and content; she looked at the cattle, or the
trees, or the children, as it chanced, as if she knew them all, and
knew that they were friendly toward her; and then again the idle air
would come into her brain:

    Then sigh not so, but let them go,
      And be you blithe and bonny,
    Converting all your sounds of woe
      Into hey, nonny, nonny!



It was not until after supper that evening that Judith was free to seek
out her companion, who had fled from her in the morning; and when she
did steal forth--carrying a small basket in her hand--she approached the
house with much more caution than was habitual with her. She glanced in
at the lower windows, but could see nothing. Then, instead of trying
whether the latch was left loose, she formally knocked at the door.

It was opened by a little rosy-cheeked girl of eleven or twelve, who
instantly bobbed a respectful courtesy.

"Is Mistress Prudence within, little Margery?" she said.

"Yes, if it please you," said the little wench, and she stood aside to
let Judith pass.

But Judith did not enter; she seemed listening.

"Where is she?"

"In her own chamber, if it please you."

"Alone, then?"

"Yes, if it please you, Mistress Judith."

Judith patted the little maid in requital of her courtesy, and then
stole noiselessly up-stairs. The door was open. Prudence was standing
before a small table ironing a pair of snow-white cuffs, the while she
was repeating to herself verses of a psalm. Her voice, low as it was,
could be heard distinctly:

    Open thou my lips, O Lord, and my mouth shall shew forth thy praise.

    For thou desirest no sacrifice, though I would give it; thou
    delightest not in burnt-offering.

    The sacrifices of God are a contrite spirit; a contrite and a broken
    heart, O God, thou will not despise.

    Be favorable unto Zion for thy good pleasure; build the walls of

    Then shalt thou accept the sacrifices of righteousness, even the
    burnt offering and oblation; then shall they offer calves upon thine

She happened to turn her head; and then she uttered a slight cry of
surprise, and came quickly to Judith, and caught her by the hand.

"What said he?" she exclaimed, almost breathlessly. "You saw him? 'Twas
the same, was it not? How came he there? Judith, tell me!"

"You timid mouse that ran away!" the other said, with a complacent
smile. "Why, what should he say? But prithee go on with the cuffs, else
the iron will be cold. And are you alone in the house, Prudence? There
is no one below?"

"None but the maids, I trow; or Julius, perchance, if he be come in from
the malt-house."

"Quick, then, with the cuffs," Judith said, "and get them finished. Nay,
I will tell thee all about the young gentleman thereafter. Get thee
finished with the cuffs, and put them on----"

"But I meant them not for this evening, Judith," said she, with her eyes
turned away.

"'Tis this evening, and now, you must wear them," her friend said,
peremptorily. "And more than these. See, I have brought you some things,
dear mouse, that you must wear for my sake--nay, nay, I will take no
denial--you must and shall--and with haste, too, must you put them on,
lest any one should come and find the mistress of the house out of call.
Is not this pretty, good Prudence?"

She had opened the basket and taken therefrom a plaited ruff that the
briefest feminine glance showed to be of the finest cobweb lawn, tinged
a faint saffron hue, and tied with silken strings. Prudence, who now
divined the object of her visit, was overwhelmed with confusion. The
fair and pensive face became rose red with embarrassment, and she did
not even know how to protest.

"And this," said Judith, in the most matter-of-fact way, taking
something else out of the basket, "will also become you well--nay, not
so, good mouse, you shall be as prim and Puritanical as you please
to-morrow; to-night you shall be a little braver; and is it not
handsome, too?--'twas a gift to my mother--and she knows that I have
it--though I have never worn it."

This second article that she held out and stroked with her fingers was a
girdle of buff-colored leather, embroidered with flowers in silk of
different colors, and having a margin of filigree silver-work both above
and below and a broad silver clasp.

"Come, then, let's try----"

"Nay, Judith," the other said, retreating a step; "I cannot--indeed I

"Indeed you must, silly child!" Judith said, and she caught hold of her
angrily. "I say you shall. What know you of such things? Must I teach
you manners?"

And when Judith was in this authoritative mood, Prudence had but little
power to withstand her. Her face was still burning with embarrassment,
but she succumbed in silence, while Judith whipped off the plain linen
collar that her friend wore, and set on in its stead this small but
handsome ruff. She arranged it carefully, and smoothed Prudence's soft
fair hair, and gave a finishing touch to the three-cornered cap; then
she stepped back a pace or two to contemplate her handiwork.

"There!" she exclaimed (pretending to see nothing of Prudence's
blushes). "A princess! On my life, a princess! And now for the girdle;
but you must cast aside that housewife's pouch, sweetheart, and I will
lend thee this little pomander of mine; in truth 'twill suit it well."

"No, no, dear Judith!" the other said, almost piteously. "Indeed I
cannot prank me out in these borrowed plumes. If you will have it so, I
will wear the ruff; but not the girdle--not the girdle, dear
cousin--that all would see was none of mine----"

"What's that?" Judith exclaimed, suddenly, for there was a noise below.

"'Tis Julius come in from the barn," Prudence said.

"Mercy on us," the other cried, with a laugh, "I thought 'twas the
spaniel-gentle come already. So you will not wear the girdle? Well, the
ruff becomes you right fairly: and--and those roses in your cheeks, good
Prue--why, what is the matter? Is there aught wonderful in one of
Julius's friends coming to see him in the evening? And as the mistress
of the house you must receive him well and courteously; and be not so
demure of speech and distant in manner, dearest heart, for youth must
have a little merriment, and we cannot always be at our prayers."

"I know not what you mean, Judith, unless it be something that is far
away from any thought or wish of mine."

There was a touch of sincerity in this speech that instantly recalled
Judith from her half-gibing ways. The truth was that while she herself
was free enough in confiding to this chosen gossip of hers all about
such lovers or would-be lovers as happened to present themselves,
Prudence had never volunteered any similar confidence in return; and the
very fact that there might be reasons for this reticence was enough to
keep Judith from seeking to remove the veil. Judith herself was
accustomed to make merry over the whole matter of sweethearts and rhymed
messages and little tender gifts; but Prudence was sensitive, and Judith
was careful not to wound her by indiscreet questioning. And at this
moment, when Prudence was standing there confused and abashed, some
compunction seized the heart of her friend. She took her hand.

"In good sooth, I meant not to tease you, sweetheart," said she, in a
kindly way; "and if I advise you in aught, 'tis but that you should make
your brother's house a pleasant resort for them that would be friendly
with him and visit him. What harm can there be in receiving such with a
cheerful welcome, and having a pretty house-mistress, and all things
neat and comfortable? Dear mouse, you so often lecture me that I must
have my turn; and I do not find fault or cause of quarrel; 'tis but a
wish that you would be less severe in your ways, and let your kind heart
speak more freely. Men, that have the burden of the world's fight to
bear, love to meet women-folk that have a merry and cheerful
countenance; 'twere a marvel else; and of an evening, when there is
idleness and some solace after the labors of the day, why should one be
glum, and thinking ever of that next world that is coming soon enough of
its own accord? Look you how well the ruff becomes you; and what sin is
in it? The girdle, too; think you my mother would have worn it had there
been aught of evil in a simple piece of leather and embroidery?"

"'Tis many a day since she put it aside, as I well remember," Prudence
said, but with a smile, for she was easily won over.

"Truly," said Judith, with a touch of scorn, "the good preachers are
pleased to meddle with small matters when they would tell a woman what
she should wear, and order a maiden to give up a finger ring or a bit of
lace on peril of her losing her soul. These be marvellous small deer to
be so hunted and stormed about with bell, book, and candle. But now,
good Prudence, for this one evening, I would have you please your
visitor and entertain him; and the spaniel-gentle--that, indeed, you
must take from him----"

"I cannot, dear Judith; 'twas meant for you," Prudence exclaimed.

"You cannot go back from your promise, good cousin," Judith said,
coolly, and with some slight inattention to facts. "'Twould be
unmannerly of you to refuse the gift, or to refuse ample thanks for it
either. And see you have plenty on the board, for men like good fare
along with good company; and let there be no stint of wine or ale as
they may choose, for your brother's house, Prudence, must not be
niggard, were it only for appearance' sake."

"But you will stay, dear Judith, will you not?" the other said,
anxiously. "In truth you can entertain them all wherever you go; and
always there is such heart in the company----"

"Nay, I cannot, sweet mouse," Judith said, lightly. "There is much for
me to do now in the evenings since Susan has gone back to her own home.
And now I must go, lest your visitor arrive and find you unprepared:
marry, you must wear the cuffs as they are, since I have hindered you in
the ironing."

"But you cannot go, Judith, till you have told me what happened to-day
at the cottage," the other pleaded.

"What happened? Why, nothing," Judith said, brightly. "Only that my
grandmother is of a mind with myself that a fairer-spoken young
gentleman seldom comes into these parts, and that, when he does, he
should be made welcome. Bless thy heart, hadst thou but come in and seen
how attentive the good dame was to him! And she would press him to have
some claret wine; but he said no: perchance he guessed that good grandam
had but small store of that. Nay, but you should have come in, sweet
mouse; then would you have been conscience-smitten about all your dark
surmisings. A murderer, forsooth! a ghost! a phantom! Why, so civil was
his manner that he but asked for a cup of water in passing, and my
grandmother must needs have him come in out of the sun, and rest him,
and have some milk. Was that like a ghost? I warrant you there was
naught of the ghost about him when she put a solid repast before him on
the table: ghosts make no such stout attacks on gooseberry tart and
cheese, else they be sore belied."

"But who and what is this man, Judith?"

"Why, who can tell what any man is?" said the other. "They all of them
are puzzles, and unlike other human creatures. But this one--well, he
hath a rare store of knowledge as to what is going forward at the
court--and among the players, too; and as we sat in the little bower
there you would have sworn you could see before you the river Thames,
with a wonderful pageant on it--dolphins, and whales, and crowned
sea-queens, and the like; and in the midst of them all the young Prince
Henry--'Long live the young Prince Henry!' they cried; and there was
such a noise of drums and cannons and trumpets that you could scarce
hear my grandmother's bees among the flowers. I warrant you the good
dame was well repaid for her entertainment, and right well pleased with
the young gentleman. I should not marvel to find him returning thither,
seeing that he can remain there in secrecy, and have such gossip as
pleases him."

"But, Judith, you know not what you do!" her friend protested,
anxiously. "Do you forget--nay, you cannot forget--that this was the
very man the wizard prophesied that you should meet; and, more than
that, that he would be your husband!"

"My husband?" said Judith, with a flush of color, and she laughed
uneasily. "Nay, not so, good Prudence. He is not one that is likely to
choose a country wench. Nay, nay, the juggler knave failed me--that is
the truth of it; the charm was a thing of naught; and this young
gentleman, if I met him by accident, the same might have happened to
you, as I showed you before. Marry, I should not much crave to see him
again, if anything like that were in the wind. This is Stratford town,
'tis not the forest of Arden; and in this neighborhood a maiden may not
go forth to seek her lover, and coax him into the wooing of her. My
father may put that into a play, but methinks if he heard of his own
daughter doing the like, the key would quickly be turned on her. Nay,
nay, good Prue, you shall not fright me out of doing a civil kindness to
a stranger, and one that is in misfortune, by flaunting his lovership
before my eyes. There be no such thing: do not I know the tokens? By my
life, this gentleman is too courteous to have a lover's mind within

"And you will go and see him again, Judith?" her friend asked, quickly.

"Nay, I said not that," Judith answered, complacently. "'Tis not the
forest of Arden; would to Heaven it were, for life would move to a
pleasanter music! I said not that I would go forth and seek him; that
were not maidenly; and belike there would come a coil of talking among
the gossips or soon or late; but at this time of the year, do you see,
sweet cousin, the country is fair to look upon, and the air is sweeter
in the meadows than it is here in the town; and if a lone damsel,
forsaken by all else, should be straying silent and forlorn along the
pathway or by the river-side, and should encounter one that hath but
lately made her acquaintance, why should not that acquaintance be
permitted in all modesty and courtesy to ripen into friendship? The
harm, good Prue--the harm of it? Tush! your head is filled with childish
fears of the wizard; that is the truth; and had you but come into the
house to-day, and had but five minutes' speech of the young gentleman,
you would have been as ready as any one to help in the beguilement of
the tedium of his hiding, if that be possible to two or three silly
women. And bethink you, was't not a happy chance that I wore my new
velvet cap this morning?"

But she had been speaking too eagerly. This was a slip; and instantly
she added, with some touch of confusion,

"I mean that I would fain have my father's friends in London know that
his family are not so far out of the world, or out of the fashion."

"Is he one of your father's friends, Judith?" Prudence said, gravely.

"He is a friend of my father's friends, at least," said she, "and some
day, I doubt not, he will himself be one of these. Truly that will be a
rare sight, some evening at New Place, when we confront you with him,
and tell him how he was charged with being a ghost, or a pirate, or an
assassin, or something of the like."

"Your fancy runs free, Judith," her friend said. "Is't a probable thing,
think you, that one that dares not come forth into the day, that is
hiding from justice, or perchance scheming in Catholic plots, should
become the friend of your house?"

"You saw him not at my grandmother's board, good Prue," said Judith,
coolly. "The young gentleman hath the trick of making himself at home
wherever he cometh, I warrant you. And when this cloud blows away, and
he is free to come to Stratford, there is none will welcome him more
heartily than I, for methinks he holdeth Master Benjamin Jonson in too
high consideration, and I would have him see what is thought of my
father in the town, and what his estate is, and that his family, though
they live not in London, are not wholly of Moll the milkmaid kind. And
I would have Susan come over too; and were she to forget her preachers
and her psalms for but an evening, and were there any merriment going
forward, the young gentleman would have to keep his wits clear, I'll be
bound. There is the house, too, I would have him see; and the
silver-topped tankard with the writing on it from my father's good
friends; nay, I warrant me Julius would not think of denying me the loan
of the King's letter to my father--were it but for an hour or two----"

But here they were startled into silence by a knocking below; then there
was the sound of a man's voice in the narrow passage.

"'Tis he, sweetheart," Judith said, quickly, and she kissed her friend,
and gave a final touch to the ruff and the cap. "Get you down and
welcome him; I will go out when that you have shut the door of the room.
And be merry, good heart, be merry--be brave and merry, as you love me."

She almost thrust her out of the apartment, and listened to hear her
descend the stairs; then she waited for the shutting of the chamber
door; and finally she stole noiselessly down into the passage, and let
herself out without waiting for the little maid Margery.



"Nay, zur," said the sour-visaged Matthew, as he leaned his chin and
both hands on the end of a rake, and spoke in his slow-drawling,
grumbling fashion--"nay, zur, this country be no longer the country it
wur; no, nor never will be again."

"Why, what ails the land?" said Judith's father, turning from the small
table in the summer-house, and lying back in his chair, and crossing one
knee over the other, as if he would give a space to idleness.

"Not the land, zur," rejoined goodman Matthew, oracularly--"not the
land; it be the men that live in it, and that are all in such haste to
make wealth, with plundering of the poor and each other, that there's
naught but lying and cheating and roguery--God-a-mercy, there never wur
the loike in any country under the sun! Why, zur, in my vather's time a
pair o' shoes would wear you through all weathers for a year; but now,
with their half-tanned leather, and their horse-hide, and their cat-skin
for the inner sole, 'tis a marvel if the rotten leaves come not asunder
within a month. And they be all aloike; the devil would have no choice
among 'em. The cloth-maker he hideth his bad wool wi' liquid stuff; and
the tailor, no matter whether it be doublet, cloak, or hose, he will
filch you his quarter of the cloth ere you see it again; and the
chandler--he be no better than the rest--he will make you his wares of
stinking offal that will splutter and run over, and do aught but give
good light; and the vintner, marry, who knoweth not his tricks and
knaveries of mixing and blending, and the selling of poison instead of
honest liquor? The rogue butcher, too, he will let the blood soak in,
ay, and puff wind into the meat--meat, quotha!--'tis as like as not to
have been found dead in a ditch!"

"A bad case indeed, good Matthew, if they be all preying on each other

"'Tis the poor man pays for all, zur. Though how he liveth to pay no man
can tell; what with the landlords racking the rents, and inclosing the
commons and pasturages--nay, 'tis a noble pastime the making of parks
and warrens, and shutting the poor man out that used to have his cow
there and a pig or two; but no, now shall he not let a goose stray
within the fence. And what help hath the poor man? May he go to the
lawyers, with their leases and clauses that none can understand--ay, and
their fists that must be well greased ere they set to the business? 'Tis
the poor man pays for all, zur, I warrant ye; nor must he grumble when
the gentleman goes a-hunting and breaks down his hedges and tramples his
corn. Corn? 'Tis the last thing they think of, beshrew me else! They are
busiest of all in sending our good English grain--ay, and our good
English beef and bacon and tallow--beyond the seas; and to bring back
what?--baubles of glass beads and amber, fans for my ladies, and new
toys from Turkey! The proud dames--I would have their painted faces

"What, what, good Matthew?" Judith's father said, laughing. "What know
you of the city ladies and their painting?"

"Nay, nay, zur, the London tricks be spread abroad, I warrant ye;
there's not a farmer's wife nowadays but must have her french-hood, and
her daughter a taffeta cap--marry, and a grogram gown lined through with
velvet. And there be other towns in the land than London to learn the
London tricks; I have heard of the dames and their daughters; set them
up with their pinching and girding with whalebone, to get a small waist
withal!--ay, and the swallowing of ashes and candles, and whatever will
spoil their stomach, to give them a pale bleak color. Lord, what a thing
'tis to be rich and in the fashion!--let the poor man suffer as he may.
Corn, i' faith!--there be plenty of corn grown in the land, God wot; but
'tis main too dear for the poor man; the rack-rents for him, and a
murrain on him; the corn for the forestallers and the merchants and
gentlemen, that send it out of the country; and back come the silks and
civets for proud madam and her painted crew!"

"God have mercy on us, man!" Judith's father exclaimed, and he drove him
aside, and got out into the sunlight. At the same moment he caught sight
of Judith herself.

"Come hither, wench, come hither!" he called to her.

She was nothing loath. She had merely been taking some scraps to the
Don; and seeing Matthew in possession there, she had not even stayed to
look into the summer-house. But when her father came out and called to
her, she went quickly toward him; and her eyes were bright enough, on
this bright morning.

"What would you, father?"

For answer he plucked off her cap and threw it aside, and took hold of
her by a bunch of her now loosened and short sun-brown curls.

"Father!" she protested (but with no great anger). "There be twenty
minutes' work undone!"

"Where bought you those roses?" said he, sternly. "Answer me, wench!"

"I bought no roses, father!"

"The paint? Is't not painted? Where got you such a face, madam?"

"Father, you have undone my hair; and the parson is coming to dinner."

"Nay, I'll be sworn 'tis as honest a face as good Mother Nature ever
made. This goodman Matthew hath belied you!"

"What said he of me?" she asked, with a flash of anger in her eyes.

Her father put his hand on her neck, and led her away.

"Nay, nay, come thy ways, lass; thou shalt pick me a handful of
raspberries. And as for thine hair, let that be as God made it; 'tis
even better so; and yet, methinks"--here he stopped, and passed his hand
lightly once or twice over her head, so that any half-imprisoned curls
were set free--"methinks," said he, regarding the pretty hair with
considerable favor, "if you would as lief have some ornament for it, I
saw that in London that would answer right well. 'Twas a net-work kind
of cap; but the netting so fine you could scarce see it; and at each
point a bead of gold. Now, Madame Vanity, what say you to that? Would
you let your hair grow free as it is now, and let the sunlight play with
it, were I to bring thee a fairy cap all besprinkled with gold?"

"I will wear it any way you wish, father, and right gladly," said she,
"and I will have no cap at all if it please you."

"Nay, but you shall have the gossamer cap, wench; I will not forget it
when next I go to London."

"I would you had never to go to London again," said she, rather timidly.

He regarded her for a second with a scrutinizing look, and there was an
odd sort of smile on his face.

"Why," said he, "I was but this minute writing about a man that had to
use divers arts and devices for the attainment of a certain end--yea,
and devices that all the world would not approve of, perchance; and that
was ever promising to himself that when the end was gained he would put
aside these spells and tricks, and be content to live as other men live,
in a quiet and ordinary fashion. Wouldst have me live ever in Stratford,
good lass?"

"The life of the house goes out when you go away from us," said she,

"Well, Stratford is no wilderness," said he, cheerfully; "and I have no
bitter feud with mankind that I would live apart from them. Didst ever
think, wench," he added, more absently, "how sad a man must have been
ere he could speak so:

    'Happy were he could finish forth his fate
      In some unhaunted desert, most obscure
    From all societies, from love and hate
      Of worldly folk; then might he sleep secure;
    Then wake again, and ever give God praise,
      Content with hips and haws and brambleberry;
    In contemplation spending all his days,
      And change of holy thoughts to make him merry;
    Where, when he dies, his tomb may be a bush,
    Where harmless robin dwells with gentle thrush.'"

"Is it that you are writing now, father?"

"Nay, indeed," said he, slowly, and a cloud came over his face. "That
was written by one that was my good friend in by-gone days; by one that
was betrayed and done to death by lying tongues, and had but sorry favor
shown him in the end by those he had served."

He turned away. She thought she heard him say, "My noble Essex," but she
was mutely following him. And then he said:

"Come, lass; come pick me the berries."

He kept walking up and down, by himself, while her nimble fingers were
busy with the bushes; and when she had collected a sufficiency of the
fruit, and brought it to him, she found that he appeared to be in no
hurry this morning, but was now grown cheerful again, and rather
inclined to talk to her. And she was far from telling him that her
proper place at this moment was within-doors, to see that the maids were
getting things forward; and if she bestowed a thought of any kind on the
good parson, it was to the effect that both he and the dinner would have
to wait. Her father had hold of her by the arm. He was talking to her of
all kinds of things, as they slowly walked up and down the path, but of
his friends in Stratford mostly, and their various ways of living; and
this she conceived to have some reference to his project of withdrawing
altogether from London, and settling down for good among them. Indeed,
so friendly and communicative was he on this clear morning--in truth,
they were talking like brother and sister--that when at last he went
into the summer-house, she made bold to follow; and when he chanced to
look at some sheets lying on the table, she said:

"Father, what is the story of the man with the devices?"

For an instant he did not understand what she meant; then he laughed.

"Nay, pay you no heed to such things, child."

"And why should not I, father, seeing that they bring you so great

"Honor, said you?" but then he seemed to check himself. This was not
Julius Shawe, to whom he could speak freely enough about the conditions
of an actor's life in London. "Well, then, the story is of a banished
duke, a man of great wisdom and skill, and he is living on a desert
island with his daughter--a right fair maiden she is, too, and she has
no other companion in the world but himself."

"But he is kind to her and good?" she said, quickly.


"What other companion would she have, then? Is she not content--ay, and
right well pleased withal?"

"Methinks the story would lag with but these," her father said, with a
smile. "Would you not have her furnished with a lover--a young prince
and a handsome--one that would play chess with her, and walk with her
while her father was busy?"

"But how on a desert island? How should she find such a one?" Judith
said, with her eyes all intent.

"There, you see, is where the magic comes in. What if her father have at
his command a sprite, a goblin, that can work all wonders--that can
dazzle people in the dark, and control the storm, and whistle the young
prince to the very feet of his mistress?"

Judith sighed, and glanced at the sheets lying on the table.

"Alas, good father, why did you aid me in my folly, and suffer me to
grow up so ignorant?"

"Folly, fond wench!" said he, and he caught her by the shoulders and
pushed her out of the summer-house. "Thank God you have naught to do
with any such stuff. There, go you and seek out Prudence, and get you
into the fields, and give those pink roses in your cheeks an airing.
Is't not a rare morning? And you would blear your eyes with books, silly
wench? Get you gone--into the meadows with you--and you may gather me a
nosegay if your fingers would have work."

"I must go in-doors, father; good Master Blaise is coming to dinner,"
said she; "but I will bring you the nosegay in the afternoon, so please
you. So fare you well," she added; and she glanced at him, "and pray
you, sir, be kind to the young prince."

He laughed and turned away; and she hurried quickly into the house. In
truth, all through that day she had plenty to occupy her attention; but
whether it was the maids that were asking her questions, or her mother
seeking her help, or good Master Walter paying authoritative court to
her, her eyes were entirely distraught. For they saw before them a
strange island, with magic surrounding it, and two young lovers, and a
grave and elderly man regarding them; and she grew to wonder how much
more of that story was shut up in the summer-house, and to lament her
misfortune in that she could not go boldly to her father and ask him to
be allowed to read it. She felt quite certain that could she but sit
down within there and peruse these sheets for herself, he would not say
her nay; and from that conclusion to the next--that on the first chances
she would endeavor to borrow the sheets and have them read to her--was
but an obvious step, and one that she had frequently taken before.
Moreover, on this occasion the chance came to her sooner than she could
have expected. Toward dusk in the evening her father went out, saying
that he was going along to see how the Harts were doing. Matthew
gardener was gone home; the parson had left hours before; and her mother
was in the brew-house, and out of hearing. Finally, to crown her good
fortune, she discovered that the key had been left in the door of the
summer-house; and so the next minute found her inside on her knees.

It was a difficult task. There was scarcely any light, for she dare not
leave the door open; and the mark that she put on the sheets, to know
which she had carried to Prudence, was minute. And yet the sheets seemed
to have been tossed into this receptacle in fairly regular order; and
when at length, and after much straining of her eyes, she had got down
to the marked ones, she was rejoiced to find that there remained above
these a large bulk of unperused matter, and the question was as to how
much it would be prudent to carry off. Further, she had to discover
where there was some kind of division, so that the story should not
abruptly break off; and she had acquired some experience in this
direction. In the end, the portion of the play that she resolved upon
taking with her was modest and small; there would be the less likelihood
of detection; and it was just possible that she would have no
opportunity of returning the sheets that night.

And then she quickly got in-doors, and put on her hood and muffler, and
slipped out into the dusk. She found Prudence alone in the lower room,
sitting sewing, the candles on the table being already lit; and some
distance off, curled up and fast asleep on the floor, lay the little

"Dear heart," said Judith, brightly, as she glanced at the little dog,
"you have shown good sense after all; I feared me you would fall away
from my wise counsel."

"My brother was well inclined to the little creature," Prudence said,
with some embarrassment.

"And you had a right merry evening, I'll be bound," Judith continued,
blithely. "And was there singing?--nay, he can sing well when he is in
the mood--none better. Did he give you

    'There is a garden in her face
    Where roses and white lilies grow,'

for Julius is more light-hearted in such matters than you are, dear
mouse. And was there any trencher business--and wine? I warrant me
Julius would not have his guest sit dry-throated. 'Twas a merry evening,
in good sooth, sweetheart?"

"_They_ talked much together," Prudence said, with her eyes cast down.

"They talked? Mercy on us, were you not civil to him? Did you not thank
him prettily for the little spaniel?"

"In a measure I think 'twas Julius took the little creature from him,"
Prudence said, bashfully.

"Beshrew me now, but you know better!--'twas given to you, you know
right well. A spaniel-gentle for your brother! As soon would he think of
a farthingale and a petticoat! And what did he say? Had he aught special
to say to you, dear mouse?"

"He would have me look at an ancient book he had, with strange devices
on the leaves," Prudence said. "Truly 'twas strange and wonderful, the
ornamentation of it in gold and colors, though I doubt me 'twas the work
of monks and priests. He would have me take it from him," she added,
with a faint blush.

"And you would not, silly one?" Judith exclaimed, angrily.

"Would you have me place such Popish emblems alongside such a book as
that that Dr. Hall gave me? Dear Judith, 'twould be a pollution and a

"But you gave him thanks for the offer, then?"

"Of a surety; 'twas meant in friendship."

"Well, well; right glad am I to see the little beast lying there; and
methinks your gentleness hath cast a spell o'er it already, sweetheart,
or 'twould not rest so soundly. And now, dear mouse, I have come to tax
your patience once more: see, here is part of the new play; and we must
go to your chamber, dear Prue, lest some one come in and discover us."

Prudence laughed in her quiet fashion. "I think 'tis you that casteth
spells, Judith, else I should not be aiding thee in this perilous

But she took one of the candles in her hand nevertheless, and led the
way up-stairs; and then, when they had carefully bolted the door, Judith
placed the roll of sheets on the table, and Prudence sat down to arrange
and decipher them.

"But this time," Judith said, "have I less weight on my conscience; for
my father hath already told me part of the story, and why should not I
know the rest? Nay, but it promises well, I do assure thee, sweetheart.
'Tis a rare beginning: the desert island, and the sprite that can work
wonders, and the poor banished duke and his daughter. Ay, and there
comes a handsome young prince, too; marry, you shall hear of marvels!
For the sprite is one that can work magic at the bidding of the duke,
and be seen like a fire in the dark, and can lead a storm whither he

"'Tis with a storm that it begins," Prudence said, for now she had
arranged the sheets.

And instantly Judith was all attention. It is true, she seemed to care
little for the first scene and the squabbles between the sailors and the
gentlemen; she was anxious to get to the enchanted island; and when at
length Prudence introduced Prospero and Miranda, Judith listened as if a
new world were being slowly opened before her. And yet not altogether
with silence, for sometimes she would utter a few words of quick assent,
or even explanation; but always so as not to interfere with the
gentle-voiced reader. Thus it would go:

"Then Prospero says to her--

                        'Be collected:
    No more amazement: tell your piteous heart
    There's no harm done.

      _Miranda._    Oh, woe the day!

      _Prospero._                No harm.
    I have done nothing but in care of thee,
    Of thee, my dear one, thee, my daughter, who
    Art ignorant of what thou art, naught knowing
    Of whence I am, nor that I am more better
    Than Prospero, master of a full poor cell,
    And thy no greater father.

      _Miranda._            More to know
    Did never meddle with my thoughts.'"

"A right dutiful daughter!" Judith would exclaim--but as apart. "A rare
good wench, I warrant; and what a gentle father he is withal!"

And then, when the banished duke had come to the end of his story, and
when he had caused slumber to fall upon his daughter's eyes, and was
about to summon Ariel, Judith interposed to give the patient reader a

"And what say you, Prudence?" said she, eagerly. "Is't not a beautiful
story? Is she not a sweet and obedient maiden, and he a right noble and
gentle father? Ah, there, now, they may talk about their masques and
pageants of the court, and gods and goddesses dressed up to saw the air
with long speeches: see you what my father can tell you in a few words,
so that you can scarcely wait, but you must on to hear the rest. And do
I hurry you, good Prue? Will you to it again? For now the spirit is
summoned that is to work the magic."

"Indeed, 'tis no heavy labor, Judith," her friend said, with a smile.
"And now here is your Ariel:

    'All hail! great master! grave sir, hail! I come
    To answer thy best pleasure; be't to fly,
    To swim, to dive into the fire, to ride
    On the curled clouds; to thy strong bidding task
    Ariel and all his quality!'

Then says Prospero:

                                'Hast thou, spirit,
    Performed to point the tempest that I bade thee?

      _Ariel._        To every article.
    I boarded the King's ship; now on the beak,
    Now in the waist, the deck, in every cabin,
    I flamed amazement; sometimes I'd divide,
    And burn in many places; on the topmast,
    The yards and bowsprit, would I flame distinctly,
    Then meet and join. Jove's lightnings, the precursors
    O' the dreadful thunder-claps, more momentary
    And sight-outrunning were not....

      _Prospero._         My brave spirit!
    Who was so firm, so constant, that this coil
    Would not infect his reason?

      _Ariel._                   Not a soul
    But felt a fever of the mad, and played
    Some tricks of desperation. All but mariners
    Plunged in the foaming brine and quit the vessel,
    Then all afire with me: the King's son Ferdinand----'"

"The prince, sweetheart!--the prince that is to be brought ashore."

"Doubtless, Judith,

                         'The King's son Ferdinand,
    With hair up-staring--then like reeds, not hair--
    Was the first man that leaped: cried, "Hell is empty,
    And all the devils are here."

      _Prospero._         Why, that's my spirit!
    But was not this nigh shore?

      _Ariel._ Close by, my master.

      _Prospero._ But are they, Ariel, safe?

      _Ariel._                         Not a hair perished,
    On their sustaining garments not a blemish,
    But fresher than before; and, as thou badst me,
    The King's son have I landed by himself;
    Whom I left cooling of the air with sighs
    In an odd angle of the isle, and sitting,
    His arms in this sad knot.'"

"And hath he not done well, that clever imp!" Judith cried. "Nay, but my
father shall reward him--that he shall--'twas bravely done and well. And
now to bring him to the maiden that hath never seen a sweetheart--that
comes next, good Prue? I marvel now what she will say?"

"'Tis not yet, Judith," her friend said, and she continued the reading,
while Judith sat and regarded the dusky shadows beyond the flame of the
candle as if wonder-land were shining there. Then they arrived at
Ariel's song, "Come unto these yellow sands," and all the hushed air
around seemed filled with music; but it was distant, somehow, so that it
did not interfere with Prudence's gentle voice.

"Then says Prospero to her:

    'The fringed curtains of thine eye advance,
    And say what thou seest yond.

      _Miranda._             What is't? a spirit?
    Lord, how it looks about! Believe me, sir,
    It carries a brave form. But 'tis a spirit.

      _Prospero._ No, wench; it eats and sleeps, and hath such senses
    As we have, such. This gallant which thou seest
    Was in the wreck; and but he's something stained
    With grief, that's beauty's canker, thou might'st call him
    A goodly person. He hath lost his fellows,
    And strays about to find them.

      _Miranda._                I might call him
    A thing divine, for nothing natural
    I ever saw so noble.'"

"And what says he? What thinks he of her?" Judith said, eagerly.

"Nay, first the father says--to himself, as it were

                          'It goes on, I see,
    As my soul prompts it. Spirit, fine spirit! I'll free thee
    Within two days, for this.'

And then the Prince says:

                             'Most sure, the goddess
    On whom these airs attend! Vouchsafe, my prayer
    May know, if you remain upon this island;
    And that you will some good instruction give,
    How I may bear me here; my prime request,
    Which I do last pronounce, is, O you wonder!
    If you be maid or no?

      _Miranda._        No wonder, sir,
    But certainly a maid.

      _Ferdinand._     My language! heavens!
    I am the best of them that speak this speech,
    Were I but where 'tis spoken.'"

"But would he take her away?" said Judith, quickly (but to herself, as
it were). "Nay, never so! They must remain on the island--the two happy
lovers--with Ariel to wait on them: surely my father will so make it?"

Then, as it appeared, came trouble to check the too swift anticipations
of the Prince, though Judith guessed that the father of Miranda was but
feigning in his wrath; and when Prudence finally came to the end of such
sheets as had been brought her, and looked up, Judith's eyes were full
of confidence and pride--not only because she was sure that the story
would end happily, but also because she would have her chosen gossip say
something about what she had read.

"Well?" said she.

"'Tis a marvel," Prudence said, with a kind of sigh, "that shapes of the
air can so take hold of us."

Judith smiled; there was something in her manner that Prudence did not

"And Master Jonson, good Prue--that they call Ben Jonson--what of him?"

"I know not what you mean, Judith."

"Sure you know they make so much of him at the court, and of his long
speeches about Greece and Rome and the like; and when one comes into the
country with news of what is going forward, by my life you'd think that
Master Jonson were the only writer in the land! What say you, good
Prue: could worthy Master Jonson invent you a scene like that?"

"In truth I know not, Judith; I never read aught of his writing."

Judith took over the sheets and carefully rolled them up.

"Why," said she, "'twas my father brought him forward, and had his first
play taken in at the theatre!"

"But your father and he are great friends, Judith, as I am told; why
should you speak against him?"

"I speak against him?" said Judith, as she rose, and there was an air of
calm indifference on her face. "In truth, I have naught to say against
the good man. 'Tis well that the court ladies are pleased with
Demogorgons and such idle stuff, and 'tis passing well that he knows the
trade. Now give ye good-night and sweet dreams, sweet mouse; and good
thanks, too, for the reading."

But at the door below--Prudence having followed her with the candle--she
turned, and said, in a whisper:

"Now tell me true, good cousin: think you my father hath ever done
better than this magic island, and the sweet Miranda, and the rest?"

"You know I am no judge of such matters, Judith," her friend answered.

"But, dear heart, were you not bewitched by it? Were you not taken away
thither? Saw you not those strange things before your very eyes?"

"In good sooth, then, Judith," said the other, with a smile, "for the
time being I knew not that I was in Stratford town, nor in our own
country of England either."

Judith laughed lightly and quickly, and with a kind of pride too. And
when she got home to her own room, and once more regarded the roll of
sheets, before bestowing them away in a secret place, there was a fine
bravery of triumph in her eyes. "Ben Jonson!" she said, but no longer
with any anger, rather with a sovereign contempt. And then she locked up
the treasure in her small cupboard of boxes, and went down-stairs again
to seek out her mother, her heart now quite recovered from its envy, and
beating warm and equally in its disposition toward all mankind, and her
mind full of a perfect and complacent confidence. "Ben Jonson!" she



The next morning she was unusually demure, and yet merry withal. In her
own chamber, as she chose out a petticoat of pale blue taffeta, and laid
on the bed her girdle of buff-colored leather, and proceeded to array
herself in these and other braveries, it was to the usual accompaniment
of thoughtless and quite inconsequent ballad-singing. At one moment it
was "Green-sleeves was all my joy," and again "Fair, fair, and twice so
fair," or perhaps--

    "An ambling nag, and a-down, a-down,
    We have borne her away to Dargison."

But when she came to take forth from the cupboard of boxes the portion
of the play she had locked up there the night before, and when she
carefully placed that in a satchel of dark blue velvet that she had
attached to the girdle, she was silent; and when she went down-stairs
and encountered her mother, there was a kind of anxious innocence on her
face. The good parson (she explained) had remained so late on the
previous afternoon, and there were so many things about the house she
had to attend to, that she had been unable to get out into the fields,
as her father had bade her, to bring him home some wild flowers.
Besides, as every one knew, large dogs got weak in the hind-legs if they
were kept chained up too continuously; and it was absolutely necessary
she should take Don Roderigo out for a run with her through the meadows,
if her father would permit.

"There be plenty of flowers in the garden, surely," her mother said, who
was busy with some leather hangings, and wanted help.

"But he would liefer have some of the little wildlings, good mother,"
said Judith. "That I know right well; for he is pleased to see them
lying on the table before him; and sometimes, too, he puts the names of
them in his writing."

"How know you that?" was the immediate and sharp question.

"As I have heard, good mother," Judith said, with calm equanimity.

And then she went to the small mirror to see that her gray velvet cap
and starched ruff were all right.

"What can your father want with wild flowers if he is to remain the
whole day at Warwick!" her mother said.

"Is my father gone to Warwick?" she asked, quickly.

"If he be not already set forth."

She glanced at the window; there was neither horse nor serving-men
waiting there. And then she hastily went out and through the back yard
into the garden; and there, sure enough was her father, ready booted for
the road, and giving a few parting directions to his bailiff.

"Well, wench," he said, when he had finished with the man, "what would

She had taken from her purse all the money she could find there.

"Good father," said she, "will you do this errand for me at Warwick?"

"More vanities?" said he. "I wonder you have no commissioner to despatch
to Spain and Flanders. What is't, then?--a muff of satin--a gimmal

"No, no, not so, father; I would have you buy for me a clasp-knife--as
good a one as the money will get; and the cutler must engrave on the
blade, or on the handle, I care not which, a message--an inscription, as
it were; 'tis but three words--_For Judith's Sweetheart_. Could you
remember that, good father? Is't too much of a trouble?"

"How now?" said he. "For whom do you wish me to bring you such a token?"

"Nay, sir," said she, demurely, "would you have me name names? The gift
of a sweetheart is a secret thing."

"You are a mad wench," said he (though doubtless he guessed for whom the
knife was intended), and he called to Matthew gardener to go round and
see if Master Shawe were not yet ready. "But now I bethink me, child, I
have a message for thee. Good Master Walter spoke to me yesternight
about what much concerns him--and you."

Instantly all her gay self-confidence vanished; she became confused,
anxious, timid; and she regarded him as if she feared what his look or
manner might convey.

"Yes, sir," she said, in rather a low voice.

"Well, you know what the good man wishes," her father said, "and he
spoke fairly, and reasoneth well. Your mother, too, would be right well

"And you, sir?" she said, rather faintly.

"I?" said he. "Nay, 'tis scarce a matter that I can say aught in. 'Tis
for yourself to decide, wench; but were you inclined to favor the young
parson, I should be well pleased enough--indeed 'tis so--a good man and
honest, as I take him to be, of fair attainment, and I know of none that
bear him ill-will, or have aught to say against him. Nay, if your heart
be set that way, wench, I see no harm; you are getting on in years to be
still in the unmarried state; and, as he himself says, there would be
security in seeing you settled in a home of your own, and your future no
longer open and undecided. Nay, nay, I see no harm. He reasons well."

"But, father, know you why he would have me become his wife?" Judith
said, with a wild feeling overcoming her that she was drowning and must
needs throw out her hands for help. "'Tis for no matter of affection
that I can make out--or that he might not as well choose any other in
the town; but 'tis that I should help him in his work, and--and labor in
the vineyard, as he said. In truth I am all unfit for such a task--there
be many another far better fitted than I; my mother must know that right
well. There is little that I would not do to please her; but surely we
might all of us have just as much of the good man's company without this
further bond. But what say you, father? What is your wish?" she added,
humbly. "Perchance I could bring my mind to it if all were anxious that
it should be so."

"Why, I have told thee, wench, thou must choose for thyself. 'Twould
please your mother right well, as I say; and as for the duties of a
parson's wife--nay, nay, they are none so difficult. Have no fears on
that score, good lass; I dare be sworn you are as honest and well-minded
as most, though perchance you make less profession of it." (The
gratitude that sprang to her eyes, and shone there, in spite of her
downcast face!) "Nor must you think the good parson has but that end in
view; 'tis not in keeping with his calling that he should talk the
language of romance. And there is more for you to think of. Even if
Master Blaise be no vehement lover, as some of the young rattlepates
might be, that is but a temporary thing; 'tis the long years of life
that weigh for the most; and all through these you would be in an
honorable station, well thought of, and respected. Nay, there be many, I
can tell thee, lass, that might look askance now at the player's
daughter, who would be right glad to welcome the parson's wife."

"What say you, father?" said she--and she was so startled that the blood
forsook her lips for a moment. "That--that there be those--who scorn the
player's daughter--and would favor the parson's wife?" And then she
instantly added: "I pray you, sir, did not you say that I was to decide
for myself?"

"Truly, child, truly," said he, somewhat wondering at her manner, for
her face had grown quite pale.

"Then I have decided, father."

"And how? What answer will you have for Master Walter?"

She spoke slowly now, and with a distinctness that was almost harsh.

"This, so please you, sir--that the player's daughter shall not, and
shall never, become the parson's wife, God helping her!"

"Why, how now? what a coil is this!" he exclaimed. "Good lass, 'twas not
the parson that said aught of the kind. Lay not that to his charge, in
fair honesty."

"I have decided," she said proudly and coldly. "Father, the horses are
brought round--I can hear them. You will not forget the knife, and the
message on the blade?"

He looked at her, and laughed, but in a kindly way; and he took her by
the shoulder.

"Nay, now, wench, thou shalt not throw over the good man for a matter
that was none of his bringing forward. And why should you wish to have
less than the respect of all your neighbors, all and sundry, whatever be
their views? In good sooth I meant to speak for the parson, and not to
harm him; and when I have more time I must undo the ill that I have done
him. So soften your heart, you proud one, and be thankful for the honor
he would do you; and think over it; and be civil and grateful."

"Nay, I will be civil enough to the good minister," said she, with a
return to her ordinary placid humor, "if he speak no more of making me
his wife."

"He will win you yet, for as stubborn as you are," her father said, with
a smile. "He hath a rare gift of reason: do not say nay too soon, wench,
lest you have to recall your words. Fare you well, lass, fare you well."

"And forget not the knife, good father. '_With Judith's Love_,' or '_For
Judith's Sweetheart_,' or what you will." And then she added, daringly:
"'Tis for the young prince Mamillius, if you must know, good sir."

He was just going away; but this caused him to stop for a second; and he
glanced at her with a curious kind of suspicion. But her eyes had become
quite inscrutable. Whatever of dark mischief was within them was not to
be made out but by further questioning, and for that he had now no time.
So she was left alone, mistress of the field, and rather inclined to
laugh at her own temerity; until it occurred to her that now she could
go leisurely forth for her stroll along the banks of the Avon, taking
the great dog with her.

Indeed, her anger was always short-lived. Or perhaps it was the feeling
that this danger was got rid of--that the decision was taken, and the
parson finally and altogether left behind her--that now raised her
spirits. At all events, as she went along the thoroughfare, and
cheerfully greeted those that met her, the neighbors said 'twas little
wonder that Master William Shakespeare's second daughter put off the
choosing of a mate for herself, for that she seemed to grow younger and
more winsome every day. And she knew all the children by name, and had a
word for them--scolding or merry, as the case might be--when that she
passed them by; and what with the clear sunlight of the morning, and the
fresher atmosphere as she got out of the town, it seemed to herself as
if all the air were filled with music.

    "Then sigh not so, but let them go,
    And be you blithe and bonny,"

she said or sung to herself; and she had not a trace of ill-will in her
mind against the parson (although she did not fail to recollect that she
was a player's daughter); and she was admonishing the Don to take good
care of her, for that phantom conspirators and such like evil creatures
might be about. And so she got down to the river-side; but she did not
cross; she kept along by the path that followed the windings of the
stream, between the wide meadows and the luxurious vegetation that
overhung the current.

This English-looking landscape was at its fairest on this fair morning,
for some heavy rain in the night had washed the atmosphere clear;
everything seemed sharp and luminous; and the rows of trees along the
summits of the distant and low-lying hills were almost black against the
white and blue sky. Nearer her all the foliage of the wide-branching
elms was stirring and rustling before a soft westerly breeze; the
flooded river was of a tawny brown; while its banks were a wilderness of
wild flowers between the stems of the stunted willows--straggling
rose-bushes of white and red, tall masses of goose-grass all powdered
over with cream-white blossom, a patch of fragrant meadow-sweet here and
there, or an occasional blood-red poppy burning among the dark, dull
greens. And as for companions? Well, she caught a glimpse of a brood of
ducks sidling along by the reeds, and tried to follow them, but the
bushes shut them out from her sight. A mare and her foal, standing under
the cool shadow of the trees, gazed blankly at her as she passed.
Further off there were some shorn sheep in the meadows; but she could
see no shepherd. The harsh note of the corn-crake sounded somewhere in
the long grass; and the bees were busy; and now and again a blue-backed
swallow would swoop by her and over the stream; while all around there
was a smell of clover sweetening the westerly wind. At this moment, she
convinced herself, she bore no ill-will at all against the good parson:
only that she had it in her mind that she would be well content to
remain a player's daughter. Her condition, she imagined, was one that
she did not desire to have bettered. Why, the air that touched her cheek
was like velvet; and there could be nothing in the world fairer than the
pink and white roses bestarring the bushes there; and the very pulse of
her blood seemed to beat to an unheard and rhythmical and subtle tune.
What was it her father had said? "I dare be sworn you are as honest and
well-minded as most, though perchance you make less profession of it."
She laughed to herself, with a kind of pride. And she was so well
content that she wished she had little Willie Hart here, that she might
put her hand on his shoulder and pet him, and convey to him some little
of that satisfaction that reigned within her own bosom. No matter; he
should have the clasp-knife--"_With Judith's Love_;" and right proud he
would be of that, she made sure. And so she went idly on her way,
sometimes with

    "Fair, fair, and twice so fair,
    And fair as any may be,"

coming uncalled for into her head; and always with an eye to the various
wild flowers, to see what kind of a nosegay she would be able to gather
on her homeward walk.

But by and by her glances began to go further afield. Master Leofric
Hope, in his brief references to his own habits and condition at the
farm, had incidentally remarked that of all his walks abroad he
preferred the following of the path by the river-side; for there he was
most secure from observation. Nay, he said that sometimes, after
continued solitude, a longing possessed him to see a town--to see a
populated place filled with a fair number of his fellow-creatures--and
that he would come within sight of Stratford itself and have a look at
the church, and the church spire, and the thin blue smoke rising over
the houses. That, he said, was safer for him than coming over such an
exposed thoroughfare as Bardon Hill; and then again, when he was of a
mind to read--for this time he had brought one or two books with him--he
could find many a sheltered nook by the side of the stream, where even a
passer-by would not suspect his presence. Nor could Judith, on this
fresh, warm, breezy morning, conceal from herself the true object of her
coming forth. If she had tried to deceive herself, the contents of the
blue velvet satchel would have borne crushing testimony against her. In
truth she was now looking with some eagerness to find whether, on such a
pleasant morning, it was possible that he could have remained
within-doors, and with the very distinct belief that sooner or later she
would encounter him.

Nor was she mistaken, though the manner of the meeting was unexpected.
The mastiff happened to have gone on a yard or two in front of her, and
she was paying but little attention to the beast, when all of a sudden
it stopped, became rigid, and uttered a low growl. She sprang forward
and seized it by the collar. At the same instant she caught sight of
some one down by the water's edge, where, but for this occurrence, he
would doubtless have escaped observation. It was Leofric Hope, without a
doubt; for now he was clambering up through the bushes, and she saw that
he had a small book in his hand.

"My good fortune pursues me, fair Mistress Judith," said he (but with a
watchful eye on the dog), "that I should so soon again have an
opportunity of meeting with you. But perchance your protector is
jealous? He likes not strangers?"

"A lamb, sir--a very lamb!" Judith said, and she patted the dog and
coaxed him, and got him into a more friendly--or at least neutral and
watchful--frame of mind.

"I marvel not you have come forth on such a morning," said he, regarding
the fresh color in her face. "'Tis a rare morning; and 'tis a rare
chance for one that is a prisoner, as it were, that his dungeon is not
four walls, but the wide spaces of Warwickshire. Will you go further?
May I attend you?"

"Nay, sir," said she, "I but came forth to look at the country, and see
what blossoms I could carry back to my father; I will go as far as the
stile there, and rest a few minutes, and return."

"'Tis like your kindness, sweet lady, to vouchsafe me a moment's
conversation; a book is but a dull companion," said he, as they walked
along to the stile that formed part of a boundary hedge. And when they
reached it she seated herself on the wooden bar with much content, and
the mastiff lay down, stretching out his paws, while the young gentleman
stood idly--but not carelessly--by. He seemed more than ever anxious to
interest his fair neighbor, and so to beguile her into remaining.

"A dull companion," he repeated, "it is. One would rather hear the sound
of one's voice occasionally. When I came along here this morning I
should have been right glad even to have had a she shepherd say 'Good
Morrow' to me----"

"A what, good sir?" she asked.

He laughed.

"Nay, 'tis a book the wits in London have much merriment over just
now--a guide-book for the use of foreigners coming to this country--and
there be plenty of them at present, in the train of the ambassadors.
Marry, the good man's English is none of the best. '_For to ask the
Way_' is a chapter of the book; and the one traveller saith to the
other, '_Ask of that she shepherd_'--in truth the phrase hath been
caught up by the town. But the traveller is of a pleasant and courteous
turn; when that he would go to bed, he saith to the chambermaid: 'Draw
the curtains, and pin them with a pin. My she friend, kiss me once, and
I shall sleep the better. I thank you, fair maiden.' Well, their English
may be none of the best, but they have a royal way with them, some of
those foreigners that come to our court. When the Constable of Castile
was at the great banquet at Whitehall--doubtless you heard of it, sweet
Mistress Judith?--he rose and drank the health of the Queen from a cup
of agate of extraordinary value, all set with diamonds and rubies, and
when the King had drank from the same cup the Constable called a
servant, and desired that the cup should be placed on his Majesty's
buffet, to remain there. Was't not a royal gift? And so likewise he
drank the health of the King from a beautiful dragon-shaped cup of
crystal all garnished with gold; but he drank from the cover only, for
the Queen, standing up, drank the pledge from the cup itself; and then
he would have that in turn transferred to her buffet, as he had given
the other one to the King."

"My father," said she, with much complacent good-nature--for she had got
into the way of talking to this young gentleman with a marvellous
absence of restraint or country shyness, "hath a tankard of great age
and value, and on the silver top of it is a tribute engraved from many
of his friends--truly I would that you could come and see it, good
sir--and--and--my father, too, he would make you welcome, I doubt not.
And what book is it," she continued, with a smile, "that you have for
companion, seeing that there be no she shepherd for you to converse

"'Tis but a dull affair," said he, scarce looking at it, for Judith's
eyes were more attractive reading. "And yet if the book itself be dull,
there is that within its boards that is less so. Perchance you have not
heard of one Master Browne, a young Devonshire gentleman, that hath but
late come to London, and that only for a space, as I reckon?"

"No, sir," she said hesitatingly.

"The young man hath made some stir with his poems," he continued,
"though there be none of them in the booksellers' hands as yet. And as
it hath been my good fortune to see one or two of them--marry, I am no
judge, but I would call them excellent, and of much modesty and grace--I
took occasion to pencil down a few of the lines inside the cover of this
little book. May I read them to you Mistress Judith?"

"If it please you, good sir."

He opened the book, and she saw that there were some lines pencilled on
the gray binding; but they must have been familiar to him, for he scarce
took his eyes from Judith's face as he repeated them.

"They are a description," said he, "of one that must have been fair

    'Her cheeks, the wonder of what eye beheld,
      Begot betwixt a lily and a rose,
    In gentle rising plains divinely swelled,
      Where all the graces and the loves repose,
    Nature in this piece all her works excelled,
      Yet showed herself imperfect in the close,
    For she forgot (when she so fair did raise her)
    To give the world a wit might duly praise her.

    'When that she spoke, as at a voice from heaven,
      On her sweet words all ears and hearts attended;
    When that she sung, they thought the planets seven
      By her sweet voice might well their tunes have mended;
    When she did sigh, all were of joy bereaven;
      And when she smiled, heaven had them all befriended:
    If that her voice, sighs, smiles, so many thrilled,
    Oh, had she kissed, how many had she killed!'"

"'Tis a description of a lady of the court?" Judith asked timidly.

"No, by heavens," he said, with warmth; "the bonniest of our English
roses are they that grow in the country air!" and his glance of
admiration was so open and undisguised, and the application of his words
so obvious, that her eyes fell, and in spite of herself the color
mounted to her cheeks. In her embarrassment she sought safety in the
blue velvet satchel. She had contemplated some other way of introducing
this latest writing of her father's; but now that had all fled from her
brain. She knew that the town gentlemen were given to flattery; but then
she was not accustomed to it. And she could not but swiftly surmise that
he had written down these lines with the especial object of addressing
them to her when he should have the chance.

"Good sir," said she, endeavoring to hide this brief embarrassment by
assuming a merry air, "a fair exchange, they say, is no robbery.
Methinks you will find something here that will outweigh good Master
Browne's verses--in bulk, if not in merit."

He gazed in astonishment at the parcel of sheets she handed to him, and
he but glanced at the first page when he exclaimed.

"Why, I have heard naught of this before."

"Nay, sir," said she, with a calm smile, "the infant is but young--but a
few weeks, as I take it; it hath had but little chance of making a noise
in the world as yet. Will you say what you think of it?"

But now he was busy reading. Then by and by she recollected something of
the manner in which she had meant to introduce the play.

"You see, sir, my father hath many affairs on his hands; 'tis not all
his time he can give to such things. And yet I have heard that they be
well spoken of in London--if not by the wits, perchance, or by the court
ladies, at least by the common people and the 'prentices. We in these
parts have but little skill of learning; but--but methinks 'tis a
pretty story--is it not, good sir?--and perchance as interesting as a
speech from a goddess among the clouds?"

"In truth it is a rare invention," said he, but absently, for his whole
and rapt attention was fixed on the sheets.

She, seeing him so absorbed, did not interfere further. She sat still
and content--perhaps with a certain sedate triumph in her eyes. She
listened to the rustling of the elms overhead, and watched the white
clouds slowly crossing the blue, and the tawny-hued river lazily and
noiselessly stealing by below the bushes. The corn-crake was silent
now--there was not even that interruption; and when the bell in the
church tower began to toll, it was so soft and faint and distant that
she thought it most likely he would not even hear it. And at what point
was he now? At the story of how the sweet Miranda came to grow up in
exile? Or listening to Ariel's song? Or watching the prince approach
this new wonder of the magic island? Her eyes were full of triumph. "Ben
Jonson!" she had said.

But suddenly he closed the sheets together.

"It were unmannerly so to keep you waiting," said he.

"Nay, heed not that, good sir," she said instantly. "I pray you go on
with the reading. How like you it? 'Tis a pretty story, methinks; but my
father hath been so busy of late--what with acres, and tithes, and
sheep, and malt and the like--that perchance he hath not given all his
mind to it."

"It is not for one such as I, fair Mistress Judith," said he, with much
modesty, "to play the critic when it is your father's writing that comes
forward. Beshrew me, there be plenty of that trade in London, and
chiefly the feeble folk that he hath driven from our stage. No, sweet
lady; rather consider me one of those that crowd to see each new piece
of his, and are right thankful for aught he pleaseth to give us."

"Is that so?" said she; and she regarded him with much favor, which he
was not slow to perceive.

"Why," said he, boldly, "what needs your father to heed if some
worshipful Master Scoloker be of opinion that the play of the Prince
Hamlet belongeth to the vulgar sort, and that the prince was but
moon-sick; or that some one like Master Greene--God rest his soul,
wherever it be!--should call him an upstart crow, and a Johannes
factotum, and the like? 'Tis what the people of England think that is of
import; and right sure am I what they would say--that there is no
greater writer than your father now living in the land."

"Ah, think you so?" she said, quickly, and her face grew radiant, as it
were, and her eyes were filled with gratitude.

"This Master Greene," he continued, "was ever jibing at the players, as
I have heard, and bidding them be more humble, for that their labor was
but mechanical, and them attracting notice through wearing borrowed
plumes. Nay, he would have it that your father was no more than
that--poor man, he lived but a sorry life, and 'twere ill done to
cherish anger against him; but I remember to have seen the apology that
he that published the book made thereafter to your father--in good truth
it was fitting and right that it should be printed and given to the
world; and though I forget the terms of it, 'twas in fair praise of
Master William Shakespeare's gentle demeanor, and his uprightness of
conduct, and the grace of his wit."

"Could you get that for me, good sir?" said she, eagerly. "Is't possible
that I could get it?"

And then she stopped in some embarrassment, for she remembered that it
was not becoming she should ask this stranger for a gift. "Nay, sir,
'twould be of little use to me, that have no skill of reading."

"But I pray you, sweet Mistress Judith, to permit me to bring you the
book; 'twill be something, at least, for you to keep and show to your

"If I might show it to Prudence Shawe, I could return it to you, good
sir," said she. And then she added, "Not that she--no, nor any one in
Stratford town--would need any such testimony to my father's qualities,
that are known to all."

"At least they seem to have won him the love and loyalty of his
daughter," said he, gallantly; "and they know most about a man who live
nearest him. Nay, but I will beg you to accept the book from me when I
can with safety get to London again; 'twill be a charge I am not likely
to forget. And in return, fair Mistress Judith, I would take of you
another favor and a greater."

"In what manner, gentle sir?"

"I have but glanced over this writing, for fear of detaining you, and
but half know the value of it," said he. "I pray you let me have it with
me to my lodging for an hour or two, that I may do it justice. When one
hath such a chance come to him, 'tis not to be lightly treated, and I
would give time and quiet to the making out the beauties of your
father's latest work."

She was at first somewhat startled by this proposal, and almost
involuntarily was for putting forth her hand to receive the sheets again
into safe-keeping; but then she asked herself what harm there could be
in acceding to his request. She was eagerly anxious that he should
understand how her father--even amidst those multifarious occupations
that were entailed on him by his prominent position in the town--could,
when he chose, sit down and write a tale far exceeding in beauty and
interest any of the mummeries that the court people seemed to talk
about. Why should not he have a few hours' time to study this fragment
withal? Her father had gone to Warwick for the day. Nay, more, she had
taken so small a portion of what had been cast aside that she knew the
absence of it would not be noticed, however long it might be kept. And
then this young gentleman, who was so civil and courteous, and who spoke
so well of her father, was alone, and to be pitied for that he had so
few means of beguiling the tedium of his hiding.

"In the afternoon," said he, seeing that she hesitated, "I could with
safety leave it at your grandmother's cottage, and then, perchance, you
might send some one for it. Nay, believe me, sweet Mistress Judith, I
know the value of that I ask; but I would fain do justice to such a

"You would not fail me, sir, in leaving it at the cottage?" said she.

"You do me wrong, Mistress Judith, to doubt--in good sooth you do. If
you can find a trusty messenger----"

"Nay, but I will come for it myself, good sir, and explain to my
grandmother the nature of the thing, lest she suspect me of meddling
with darker plots. Let it be so, then, good sir, for now I must get me
back to the town. I pray you forget not to leave the package; and

"But my thanks to you, dear lady----"

"Nay, sir," said she, with a bright look of her eyes "bethink you you
have not yet fairly made out the matter. Tarry till you have seen
whether these sheets be worth the trouble--whether they remind you in
aught of the work of your friend Master Jonson--and then your thanks
will be welcome. Give ye good-day, gentle sir."

There was no thought in her mind that she had done anything imprudent
in trusting him with this portion of the play for the matter of an hour
or two; it was but a small equivalent, she recollected, for his promise
to bring her from London the retractation or apology of one of those who
had railed at her father, or abetted in that, and found himself
constrained by his conscience to make amends. And now it occurred to her
that it would look ill if, having come out to gather some wild flowers
for the little table in the summer-house, she returned with empty hands;
so, as she proceeded to walk leisurely along the winding path leading
back to the town, she kept picking here and there such blossoms as came
within her reach. If the nosegay promised to be somewhat large and
straggling, at least it would be sweet-scented, and she felt pretty sure
that her father would be well content with it. At first she was silent,
however; her wonted singing was abandoned; perchance she was trying to
recall something of the lines that Master Leofric Hope had repeated to
her with so marked an emphasis.

"And what said he of our English roses?" she asked herself, with some
faint color coming into her face at the mere thought of it.

But then she forcibly dismissed these recollections, feeling that that
was due to her own modesty, and busied herself with her blossoms and
sprays; and presently, as she set out in good earnest for the town, she
strove to convince herself that there was nothing more serious in her
brain than the tune of "Green-sleeves:"

    "Green-sleeves, now farewell, adieu;
      God I pray to prosper thee;
    For I am still thy lover true--
      Come once again and love me!"



Her light-heartedness did not last long. In the wide clear landscape a
human figure suddenly appeared, and the briefest turn of her head showed
her that Tom Quiney was rapidly coming toward her across the fields. For
a second her heart stood still. Had he been riding home from Ludington?
Or from Bidford? Was it possible that he had come over Bardon Hill, and
from that height espied the two down by the river? She could not even
tell whether that was possible, or what he had done with his horse, or
why he had not interfered sooner, if he was bent on interfering. But she
had an alarmed impression that this rapid approach of his boded trouble,
and she had not long to wait before that fear was confirmed.

"Judith, who is that man?" he demanded, with a fury that was but half
held in.

She turned and faced him.

"I knew not," she said, coldly and slowly, "that we were on a speaking

"'Tis no time to bandy words," said he; and his face was pale, for he
was evidently striving to control the passion with which his whole
figure seemed to quiver from head to heel. "Who is that man? I ask. Who
is he, that you come here to seek him, and alone?"

"I know not by what right you put such questions to me," she said; but
she was somewhat frightened.

"By what right? And you have no regard, then, for your good name?"

There was a flash in her eyes. She had been afraid; she was no longer

"My good name?" she repeated. "I thank God 'tis in none of your

In his madness he caught her by the wrist.

"You shall tell me----"

"Unhand me, sir!" she exclaimed; and she threw off his grasp, while her
cheeks burned with humiliation.

"Nay, I quarrel not with women," said he. "I crave your pardon. But, by
God, I will get to know that man's name and purpose here if I rive it
from his body!"

So he strode off in the direction that Leofric Hope had taken; and for a
moment she stood quite terror-stricken and helpless, scarcely daring to
think of what might happen. A murder on this fair morning? This young
fellow, that was quite beside himself in his passion of jealous anger,
was famed throughout the length and breadth of Warwickshire for his
wrestling prowess. And the other--would he brook high words? These
things flashed across her mind in one bewildering instant; and in her
alarm she forgot all about her pride. She called to him,

"I pray you--stay!"

He turned and regarded her.

"Stay," said she, with her face afire. "I--I will tell you what I know
of him--if you will have it so."

He approached her with seeming reluctance, and with anger and suspicion
in his lowering look. He was silent, too.

"Indeed, there is no harm," said she (and still with her face showing
her mortification that she was thus forced to defend herself). "'Tis a
young gentleman that is in some trouble--his lodging near Bidford is
also a hiding, as it were--and--and I know but little of him beyond his
name, and that he is familiar with many of my father's friends in

"And how comes it that you seek him out here alone?" said he. "That is a
becoming and maidenly thing!"

"I promised you I would tell you what I know of the young gentleman,"
said she, with scornful lips. "I did not promise to stand still and
suffer your insolence."

"Insolence!" he exclaimed, as if her audacity bewildered him.

"How know you that I sought him out?" she said, indignantly. "May not
one walk forth of a summer morning without being followed by suspicious
eyes--I warrant me, eyes that are only too glad to suspect! To think
evil is an easy thing, it seems, with many; I wonder, sir, you are not

"You brave it out well," said he, sullenly; but it was evident that her
courage had impressed him, if it still left him angered and suspicious.

And then he asked:

"How comes it that none of your friends or your family know aught of
this stranger?"

"I marvel you should speak of my family," she retorted. "I had thought
you were inclined to remain in ignorance of them of late. But had you
asked of Prudence Shawe she might have told you something of this young
gentleman; or had you thought fit to call in at my grandmother's
cottage, you might perchance have found him seated there, and a welcome
guest at her board. Marry, 'tis easier far to keep aloof and to think
evil, as one may see."

And then she added:

"Well, sir, are you satisfied? May I go home without farther threats?"

"I threatened you not, Judith," said he, rather more humbly. "I would
have my threats kept for those that would harm you."

"I know of none such," she said, distinctly. "And as for this young
gentleman--that is in misfortune--such as might happen to any one--and
not only in hiding, but having intrusted his secret to one or two of us
that pity him and see no harm in him--I say it were a cruel and unmanly
thing to spy out his concealment, or to spread the rumor of his being in
the neighborhood."

"Nay, you need not fear that of me, Judith," said he. "Man to man is my
way, when there is occasion. But can you marvel if I would have you for
your own sake avoid any farther meetings with this stranger? If he be in
hiding, let him remain there, in God's name; I for one will set no
beagles to hunt him out. But as for you, I would have you meddle with no
such dangerous traps."

"Good sir," said she, "I have my conduct in my own keeping, and can
answer to those that have the guardianship of me."

He did not reply to this rebuke. He said:

"May I walk back to the town with you, Judith?"

"You forget," she said, coldly, "that if we were seen together the
gossips might say I had come out hither to seek you, and alone."

But he paid no heed to this taunt.

"I care not," said he, with an affectation of indifference, "what the
gossips in Stratford have to talk over. Stratford and I are soon to

"What say you?" said she, quickly--and they were walking on together
now, the Don leisurely following at their heels.

"Nay, 'tis nothing," said he, carelessly; "there are wider lands beyond
the seas, where a man can fight for his own and hold it."

"And you?" she said. "You have it in your mind to leave the country?"

"Marry, that have I!" said he, gayly. "My good friend Daniel Hutt hath
gotten together a rare regiment, and I doubt not I shall be one of the
captains of them ere many years be over."

Her eyes were downcast, and he could not see what impression this piece
of news had made upon her--if, indeed, he cared to look. They walked for
some time in silence.

"It is no light matter," said she at length, and in rather a low voice,
"to leave one's native land."

"As for that," said he, "the land will soon be not worth the living in.
Why, in former times, men spoke of the merry world of England. A merry
world? I trow the canting rogues of preachers have left but little
merriment in it; and now they would seek to have all in their power, and
to flood the land with their whining and psalm-singing, till we shall
have no England left us, but only a vast conventicle. Think you that
your father hath any sympathy with these? I tell you no; I take it he is
an Englishman, and not a conventicle-man. 'Tis no longer the England of
our forefathers when men may neither hawk nor hunt, and women are doomed
to perdition for worshipping the false idol starch, and the very
children be called in from their games of a Sunday afternoon.
God-a-mercy, I have had enough of Brother Patience-in-suffering, and his
dominion of grace!"

This seemed to Judith a strange reason for his going away, for he had
never professed any strong bias one way or the other in these religious
dissensions; his chief concern, like that of most of the young men in
Stratford, lying rather in the direction of butt-shooting, or wrestling,
or having a romp with some of the wenches to the tune of "Packington's

"Nay, as I hear," said he, "there be some of them in such discontent
with the King and the Parliament that they even talk of transplanting
themselves beyond seas, like those that went to Holland: 'twere a goodly
riddance if the whole gang of the sour-faced hypocrites went, and left
to us our own England. And a fair beginning for the new country across
the Atlantic--half of them these Puritanical rogues, with their fastings
and preachments; and the other half the constable's brats and broken men
that such as Hutt are drifting out: a right good beginning, if they but
keep from seizing each other by the throat in the end! No matter: we
should have our England purged of the double scum!"

"But," said Judith, timidly, "methought you said you were going out with
these same desperate men?"

"I can take my life in my hand as well as another," said he gloomily.
And then he added: "They be none so desperate, after all. Broken men
there may be amongst them, and many against whom fortune would seem to
have a spite; perchance their affairs may mend in the new country."

"But your affairs are prosperous," Judith said--though she never once
regarded him. "Why should you link yourself with such men as these?"

"One must forth to see the world," said he; and he went on to speak in
a gay and reckless fashion of the life that lay before him, and of its
possible adventures and hazards and prizes. "And what," said he, "if one
were to have good fortune in that far country, and become rich in land,
and have good store of corn and fields of tobacco; what if one were to
come back in twenty years' time to this same town of Stratford, and set
up for the trade of gentleman?"

"Twenty years?" said she, rather breathlessly. "'Tis a long time; you
will find changes."

"None that would matter much, methinks," said he, indifferently.

"There be those that will be sorry for your going away," she ventured to
say--and she forced herself to think only of Prudence Shawe.

"Not one that will care a cracked three-farthings!" was the answer.

"You do ill to say so--indeed you do!" said she, with just a touch of
warmth in her tone. "You have many friends; you serve them ill to say
they would not heed your going."

"Friends?" said he. "Yes, they will miss me at the shovel-board, or when
there is one short at the catches."

"There be others than those," said she with some little hesitation.

"Who, then?" said he.

"You should know yourself," she answered. "Think you that Prudence, for
one, will be careless as to your leaving the country?"

"Prudence?" said he, and he darted a quick glance at her. "Nay, I
confess me wrong, then; for there is one that hath a gentle heart, and
is full of kindness."

"Right well I know that--for who should know better than I?" said
Judith. "As true a heart as any in Christendom, and a prize for him that
wins it, I warrant you. If it be not won already," she added, quickly.
"As to that, I know not."

They were now nearing the town--they could hear the dull sound of the
mill, and before them was the church spire among the trees, and beyond
that the gray and red huddled mass of houses, barns, and orchards.

"And when think you of going?" she said, after a while.

"I know not, and I care not," said he, absently. "When I spoke of my
acquaintances being indifferent as to what might befall me, I did them
wrong, for in truth there be none of them as indifferent as I am

"'Tis not a hopeful mood," said she, "to begin the making of one's
fortunes in a new country withal. I pray you, what ails this town of
Stratford, that you are not content?"

"It boots not to say, since I am leaving it," he answered. "Perchance in
times to come, when I am able to return to it, I shall be better
content. And you?"

"And I?" she repeated, with some surprise.

"Nay, you will be content enough," said he, somewhat bitterly. "Mother
Church will have a care of you. You will be in the fold by then. The
faithful shepherd will have a charge over you, to keep you from
communication with the children of anger and the devil, that rage
without like lions seeking to destroy."

"I know not what you mean," said she, with a hot face.

"Right well you know," said he, coolly; but there was an angry
resentment running through his affected disdain as he went on: "There be
those that protest, and go forth from the Church. And there be those
that protest, and remain within, eating the fat things, and well content
with the milk and the honey, and their stores of corn and oil. Marry,
you will be well provided for--the riches of the next world laid up in
waiting for you, and a goodly share of the things of this world to
beguile the time withal. Nay, I marvel not; 'tis the wisdom of the
serpent along with the innocence of the dove. What matters the surplice,
the cross in baptism, and the other relics of popery, if conformity will
keep the larder full? Better that than starvation in Holland, or seeking
a home beyond the Atlantic, where, belike, the children of the devil
might prove overrude companions. I marvel not, I; 'tis a foolish bird
that forsakes a warm nest."

And now she well knew against whom his bitter speech was levelled; and
some recollection of the slight he had put upon her in the church-yard
came into her mind, with the memory that it had never been atoned for.
And she was astounded that he had the audacity to walk with her now and
here, talking as if he were the injured one. The sudden qualm that had
filled her heart when he spoke of leaving the country was put aside; the
kindly reference to Prudence was forgotten; she only knew that this
sarcasm of his was very much out of place, and that this was far from
being the tone in which he had any right to address her.

"I know not," said she, stiffly, "what quarrel you may have with this
or that section of the Church; but it concerns me not. I pray you attack
those who are better able to defend themselves than I am, or care to be.
Methinks your studies in that line have come somewhat late."

"'Tis no greater marvel," said he, "than that you should have joined
yourself to the assembly of the saints; it was not always so with you."

"I?" she said; but her cheeks were burning; for well she knew that he
referred to his having seen her with the parson on that Sunday morning,
and she was far too proud to defend herself. "Heaven help me now, but I
thought I was mistress of my own actions!"

"In truth you are, Mistress Judith," said he, humbly (and this was the
first time that he had ever addressed her so, and it startled her, for
it seemed to suggest a final separation between them--something as wide
and irrevocable as that twenty years of absence beyond the seas). And
then he said, "I crave your pardon if I have said aught to offend you;
and would take my leave."

"God be wi' you," said she, civilly; and then he left, striking across
the meadows toward the Bidford road, and, as she guessed, probably going
to seek his horse from whomsoever he had left it with.

And as she went on, and into the town, she was wondering what Prudence
had said to him that should so suddenly drive him to think of quitting
the country. All had seemed going well. As for Master Leofric Hope, his
secret was safe; this late companion of hers seemed to have forgotten
him altogether in his anger against the good parson. And then she grew
to think of the far land across the ocean, that she had heard vaguely of
from time to time; to think how twenty years could be spent there: and
what Stratford would be like when that long space was over.

"Twenty years," she said to herself, with a kind of sigh. "There are
many things will be settled, ere that time be passed, for good or ill."



When she got back to New Place she found the house in considerable
commotion. It appeared that the famous divine, Master Elihu Izod, had
just come into the town, being on his way toward Leicestershire, and
that he had been brought by the gentleman whose guest he was to pay a
visit to Judith's mother. Judith had remarked ere now that the preachers
and other godly persons who thus honored the New Place generally made
their appearance a trifling time before the hour of dinner; and now, as
she reached the house, she was not surprised to find that Prudence had
been called in to entertain the two visitors--who were at present in the
garden--while within doors her mother and the maids were hastily making
such preparations as were possible. To this latter work she quickly lent
a helping hand; and in due course of time the board was spread with a
copious and substantial repast, not forgetting an ample supply of wine
and ale for those that were that way inclined. Then the two gentlemen
were called in, Prudence was easily persuaded to stay, and, after a
lengthened grace, the good preacher fell to, seasoning his food with
much pious conversation.

At such times Judith had abundant opportunities for reverie, and for a
general review of the situation of her own affairs. In fact, on this
occasion she seemed in a manner to be debarred from participation in
these informal services at the very outset. Master Izod, who was a tall,
thin, dark, melancholy-visaged man--unlike his companion, Godfrey
Buller, of the Leas, near to Hinckley, who, on the contrary, was a
stout, yeoman-like person, whose small gray absent eyes remained
motionless and vacant in the great breadth of his rubicund face--had
taken for his text, as it were, a list he had found somewhere or other
of those characters that were entitled to command the admiration and
respect of all good people. These were: a young saint; an old martyr; a
religious soldier; a conscionable statesman; a great man courteous; a
learned man humble; a silent woman; a merry companion without vanity; a
friend not changed with honor; a sick man cheerful; a soul departing
with comfort and assurance. And as Judith did not make bold to claim to
be any one of these--nor, indeed, to have any such merits or excellences
as would extort the approval of the membership of the saints--she
gradually fell away from listening; and her mind was busy with other
things; and her imagination, which was vivid enough, intent upon other
scenes. One thing that had struck her the moment she had returned was
that Prudence seemed in an unusually cheerful mood. Of course the
arrival of two visitors was an event in that quiet life of theirs; and
no doubt Prudence was glad to be appointed to entertain the
strangers--one of them, moreover, being of such great fame. But so
pleased was she, and so cheerful in her manner, that Judith was
straightway convinced there had been no quarrel between her and Tom
Quiney. Nay, when was there time for that? He could scarcely have seen
her that morning; while the night before there had certainly been no
mention of his projected migration to America, else Prudence would have
said as much. What, then, had so suddenly driven him to the conclusion
that England was no longer a land fit to live in? And why had he paid
Prudence such marked attention--why had he presented her with the
spaniel-gentle and offered her the emblazoned missal--one evening, only
to resolve the next morning that he must needs leave the country? Nay,
why had he so unexpectedly broken the scornful silence with which he had
recently treated herself? He had given her to understand that, as far as
he was concerned, she did not exist. He seemed determined to ignore her
presence. And yet she could not but remember that, if this contemptuous
silence on his part was broken by the amazement of his seeing her in the
company of a stranger, his suspicions in that direction were very
speedily disarmed. A few words and they fled. It was his far more deadly
jealousy of the parson that remained; and was like to remain, for she
certainly would not stoop to explain that the meeting in the church-yard
was quite accidental. But why should he trouble his head about either
her or the parson? Had he not betaken himself elsewhere--and that with
her right good-will? Nay, on his own confession he had discovered how
kind and gentle Prudence was: there was a fit mate for him--one to
temper the wildness and hot-headedness of his youth. Judith had never
seen the sea, and therefore had never seen moonlight on the sea; but
the nearest to that she could go, in thinking of what Prudence's nature
was like, in its restful and sweet and serious beauty, was the moonlight
she had seen on the river Avon in the calm of a summer's night, the
water unbroken by a ripple, and not a whisper among the reeds. Could he
not perceive that too, and understand?

As for herself, she knew that she could at any moment cut the knot of
any complications that might arise by allowing Master Walter to talk her
over into marrying him. Her father had assured her that the clear-headed
and energetic young parson was quite equal to that. Well, it was about
time she should abandon the frivolities and coquetries of her youth; and
her yielding would please many good people, especially her mother and
sister, and obtain for herself a secure and established position, with
an end to all these quarrels and jealousies and uncertainties. Moreover,
there would be safety there. For, if the truth must be told, she was
becoming vaguely and uncomfortably conscious that her relations with
this young gentleman who had come secretly into the neighborhood were no
longer what they had been at first. Their friendship had ripened
rapidly; for he was an audacious personage, with plenty of
self-assurance; and with all his professions of modesty and deference,
he seemed to know very well that he could make his society agreeable.
Then those lines he had repeated: why, her face grew warm now as she
thought of them. She could not remember them exactly, but she remembered
their purport; and she remembered, too, the emphasis with which he had
declared that the bonniest of our English roses were those that grew in
the country air. Now a young man cut off from his fellows as he was
might well be grateful for some little solace of companionship, or for
this or the other little bit of courtesy; but he need not (she
considered) show his gratitude just in that way. Doubtless his flattery
might mean little; the town gentlemen, she understood, talked in that
strain; and perhaps it was only by an accident that the verses were
there in the book; but still she had the uneasy feeling that there was
something in his manner and speech that, if encouraged, or suffered to
continue without check, might lead to embarrassment. That is to say, if
she continued to see him; and there was no need for that. She could cut
short this acquaintance the moment she chose. But on the one hand she
did not wish to appear uncivil; and on the other she was anxious that
he should see the whole of this play that her father had written--thrown
off, as it were, amid the various cares and duties that occupied his
time. If Master Leofric Hope talked of Ben Jonson when he came into the
country, she would have him furnished with something to say of her
father when he returned to town.

These were idle and wandering thoughts; and in one respect they were not
quite honest. In reality she was using them to cloak and hide, or to
drive from her mind altogether, a suspicion that had suddenly occurred
to her that morning, and that had set her brain afire in a wild way. It
was not only the tune of "Green-sleeves" that was in her head as she set
off to walk home, though she was trying to force herself to believe
that. The fact is this: when Master Leofric Hope made the pretty speech
about the country roses, he accompanied it, as has been said, by a
glance of only too outspoken admiration; and there was something in this
look--apart from the mere flattery of it--that puzzled her. She was
confused, doubtless; but in her confusion it occurred to her that she
had met that regard somewhere before. She had no time to pursue this
fancy further; for in order to cover her embarrassment she had betaken
herself to the sheets in her satchel; and thereafter she was so anxious
that he should think well of the play that all her attention was fixed
on that. But after leaving him, and having had a minute or two to think
over what had happened, she recalled that look, and wondered why there
should be something strange in it. And then a startling fancy flashed
across her mind--the wizard! Was not that the same look--of the same
black eyes--that she had encountered up at the corner of the field above
the Weir Brake?--a glance of wondering admiration, as it were? And if
these two were one and the same man? Of course that train, being lit,
ran rapidly enough: there were all kinds of parallels--in the elaborate
courtesy, in the suave voice, in the bold and eloquent eyes. And she had
no magical theory to account for the transformation--it did not even
occur to her that the wizard could have changed himself into a young
man--there was no dismay or panic in that direction; she instantly took
it for granted that it was the young man who had been personating the
wizard. And why?--to what end, if this bewildering possibility were to
be regarded for an instant? The sole object of the wizard's coming was
to point out to her her future husband. And if this young man were
himself the wizard? A trick to entrap her?

Ariel himself could not have flashed from place to place more swiftly
than this wild conjecture; but the next moment she had collected
herself. Her common-sense triumphed. She bethought her of the young man
she had just left--of his respectful manners--of the letter he had
brought for her father--of the circumstances of his hiding. It was not
possible that he had come into the neighborhood for the deliberate
purpose of making a jest of her. Did he look like one that would play
such a trick; that would name himself as her future husband; that would
cozen her into meeting him? She felt ashamed of herself for harboring
such a thought for a single instant. Her wits had gone wool-gathering!
Or was it that Prudence's fears had so far got hold of her brain that
she could not regard the young man but as something other than an
ordinary mortal? In fair justice, she would dismiss this absurd surmise
from her mind forthwith; and so she proceeded with her gathering of the
flowers; and when she did set forth for home, she had very nearly
convinced herself that there was nothing in her head but the tune of
"Green-sleeves." Nay, she was almost inclined to be angry with Prudence
for teaching her to be so suspicious.

Nevertheless, during this protracted dinner, while good Master Izod was
enlarging upon the catalogue of persons worthy of honor and emulation,
Judith was attacked once more by the whisperings of the demon. For
awhile she fought against these, and would not admit to herself that any
further doubt remained in her mind; but when at last, she found herself,
despite herself, going back and back to that possibility, she took heart
of grace and boldly faced it. What if it were true? Supposing him to
have adopted the disguise, and passed himself off as a wizard, and
directed her to the spot where she should meet her future husband--what
then? What ought she to do? How ought she to regard such conduct? As an
idle frolic of youth? Or the device of one tired of the loneliness of
living at the farm, and determined at all hazards to secure
companionship? Or a darker snare still--with what ultimate aims she
could not divine? Or again (for she was quite frank), if this were
merely some one who had seen her from afar, at church, or fair, or
market, and considered she was a good-looking maid, and wished to have
further acquaintance, and could think of no other method than this
audacious prank? She had heard of lovers' stratagems in plenty; she knew
of one or two of such that had been resorted to in this same quiet town
of Stratford. And supposing that this last was the case, ought she to be
indignant? Should she resent his boldness in hazarding such a stroke to
win her? And then, when it suddenly occurred to her that, in discussing
this possibility, she was calmly assuming that Master Leofric Hope was
in love with her--he never having said a word in that direction, and
being in a manner almost a stranger to her--she told herself that no
audacity on his part could be greater than this on hers; and that the
best thing she could do would be to get rid once and forever of such
unmaidenly conjectures. No; she would go back to her original position.
The facts of the case were simple enough. He would have brought no
letter to her father had he been bent on any such fantastic enterprise.
Was it likely he would suffer the thraldom of that farm-house, and live
away from his friends and companions, for the mere chance of a few
minutes' occasional talk with a Stratford wench? As for the similarity
between his look and that of the wizard, the explanation lay no doubt in
her own fancy, which had been excited by Prudence's superstitious fears.
And if in his courtesy he had applied to herself the lines written by
the young Devonshire poet--well, that was but a piece of civility and
kindness, for which she ought to be more than usually grateful, seeing
that she had not experienced too much of that species of treatment of
late from one or two of her would-be suitors.

She was awakened from these dreams by the conversation suddenly ceasing;
and in its place she heard the more solemn tones of the thanksgiving
offered up by Master Izod:

     "The God of glory and peace, who hath created, redeemed, and
     presently fed us, be blessed forever and ever. So be it. The God of
     all power, who hath called from death that great pastor of the
     sheep, our Lord Jesus, comfort and defend the flock which he hath
     redeemed by the blood of the eternal testament; increase the number
     of true preachers; repress the rage of obstinate tyrants; mitigate
     and lighten the hearts of the ignorant; relieve the pains of such
     as be afflicted, but specially of those that suffer for the
     testimony of thy truth; and finally, confound Satan by the power of
     our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen."

And then, as the travellers were continuing their journey forthwith,
they proposed to leave; and Master Buller expressed his sorrow that
Judith's father had not been at home to have made the friendship of a
man so famous as Master Izod; and the good parson, in his turn, as they
departed, solemnly blessed the house and all that dwelt therein, whether
present or absent. As soon as they were gone, Judith besought her mother
for the key of the summer-house, for she wished to lay on her father's
table the wild flowers she had brought; and having obtained it, she
carried Prudence with her into the garden, and there they found
themselves alone, for goodman Matthew had gone home for his dinner.

"Dear mouse," said she, quickly, "what is it hath happened to Tom

"I know not, Judith," the other said, in some surprise.

"It is in his mind to leave the country."

"I knew not that."

"I dare be sworn you did not, sweetheart," said she, "else surely you
would have told me. But why? What drives him to such a thing? His
business prospers well, as I hear them say; and yet must he forsake it
for the company of those desperate men that are going away to fight the
Indians beyond seas. Nothing will content him. England is no longer
England; Stratford is no longer Stratford. Mercy on us, what is the
meaning of it all?"

"In truth I know not, Judith."

Then Judith regarded her.

"Good cousin, I fear me you gave him but a cold welcome yesternight."

"I welcomed him as I would welcome any of my brother's friends," said
Prudence, calmly and without embarrassment.

"But you do not understand," Judith said, with a touch of impatience.
"Bless thy heart! young men are such strange creatures; and must have
all to suit their humors; and are off and away in their peevish fits if
you do not entertain them, and cringe, and say your worship to every
sirrah of them! Oh, they be mighty men of valor in their own esteem; and
they must have us poor handmaidens do them honor; and if all be not done
to serve, 'tis boot and spur and off to the wars with them, and many a
fine tale thereafter about the noble ladies that were kind to them
abroad. Marry! they can crow loud enough; 'tis the poor hens that durst
never utter a word; and all must give way before his worship! What,
then? What did you do? Was not the claret to his liking? Did not your
brother offer him a pipe of Trinidado?"

"Indeed, Judith, it cannot be through aught that happened last night, if
he be speaking of leaving the country," Prudence said. "I thought he was
well content, and right friendly in his manner."

"But you do not take my meaning," Judith said. "Dear heart, bear me no
ill-will; but I would have you a little more free with your favors. You
are too serious, sweet mouse. Could you not pluck up a little of the
spirit that the pretty Rosalind showed--do you remember?--when she was
teasing Orlando in the forest? In truth these men are fond of a varying
mood; when they play with a kitten they like to know it has claws. And
again, if you be too civil with them, they presume, and would become the
master all at once; and then must everything be done to suit their
lordships' fantasies, or else 'tis up and away with them, as this one

"I pray you, Judith," her friend said, and now in great embarrassment,
"forbear to speak of such things: in truth, my heart is not set that
way. Right well I know that if he be leaving the country, 'tis through
no discontent with me, nor that he would heed in any way how I received
him. Nay, 'tis far otherwise; it is no secret whom he would choose for
wife. If you are sorry to hear of his going away from his home, you know
that a word from you would detain him."

"Good mouse, the folly of such thoughts!" Judith exclaimed. "Why, when
he will not even give me a 'Good-day to you, wench'!"

"You best know what reasons he had for his silence, Judith; I know not."

"Reasons?" said she, with some quick color coming to her face. "We will
let that alone, good gossip. I meddle not with any man's reasons, if he
choose to be uncivil to me; God help us, the world is wide enough for

"Did you not anger him, Judith, that he is going away from his home and
his friends?"

"Anger him? Perchance his own suspicions have angered him," was the
answer; and then she said, in a gentler tone: "But in truth, sweetheart,
I hope he will change his mind. Twenty years--for so he speaks--is a
long space to be away from one's native land; there would be many
changes ere he came back. Twenty years, he said."

Judith rather timidly looked at her companion, but indeed there was
neither surprise nor dismay depicted on the pale and gentle face. Her
eyes were absent, it is true, but they did not seem to crave for

"'Tis strange," said she. "He said naught of such a scheme last night,
though he and Julius spoke of this very matter of the men who were
preparing to cross the seas. I know not what can have moved him to such
a purpose."

"Does he imagine, think you," said Judith, "that we shall all be here
awaiting him at the end of twenty years, and as we are now? Or is he so
sure of his own life? They say there is great peril in the new lands
they have taken possession of beyond sea, and that there will be many a
bloody fight ere they can reap the fruit of their labors in peace. Nay,
I will confess to thee, sweet mouse, I like not his going. Old friends
are old friends, even if they have wayward humors; and fain would I have
him remain with us here in Stratford--ay, and settled here, moreover,
with a sweet Puritan wife by his side, that at present must keep
everything hidden. Well no matter," she continued, lightly. "I seek no
secrets--except those that be in the oaken box within here."

She unlocked the door of the summer-house, and entered, and put the
flowers on the table. "Tell me, Prue," said she, "may we venture to take
some more of the play, or must I wait till I have put back the other

"You have not put them back?"

"In truth, no," said Judith, carelessly. "I lent them to the young
gentleman, Leofric Hope."

"Judith!" her friend exclaimed, with frightened eyes.

"What then?"

"To one you know nothing of? You have parted with these sheets--that are
so valuable?"

"Nay, nay, good mouse," said she; "you know the sheets are cast away as
useless. And I but lent them to him for an hour or two to lighten the
tedium of his solitude. Nor was that all, good Prue, if I must tell thee
the truth; I would fain have him know that my father can do something
worth speaking of as well as his friend Ben Jonson, and perchance even
better; what think you?"

"You have seen him again, then--this morning?"

"Even so," Judith answered, calmly.

"Judith, why would you run into such danger?" her friend said, in
obvious distress. "In truth I know not what 'twill come to. And now
there is this farther bond in this secret commerce--think you that all
this can remain unknown? Your meeting with him must come to some one's
knowledge--indeed it must, sweetheart."

"Nay, but this time you have hit the mark," complacently. "If you would
assure yourself, good Prue, that the young gentleman is no grisly ghost
or phantom, methinks you could not do better than ask Tom Quiney, who
saw him this very morning--and saw us speaking together, as I guess."

"He saw you!" Prudence exclaimed. "And what said he?"

"He talked large and wild for a space," said Judith, coolly, "but soon I
persuaded him there was no great harm in the stranger gentleman. In
sooth his mind was so full of his own affairs--and so bitter against all
preachers, ministers, and pastors--and he would have it that England was
no longer fit to live in--marry, he told me so many things in so few
minutes that I have half forgotten them!"

And then it suddenly occurred to her that this fantasy that had entered
her mind in the morning, and that had haunted her during Master Elihu
Izod's discourse, would be an excellent thing with which to frighten
Prudence. 'Twas but a chimera, she assured herself; but there was enough
substance in it for that. And so, when she had carefully arranged the
flowers on the table, and cast another longing look at the oaken chest,
she locked the door of the summer-house, and put her arm within the arm
of her friend, and led her away for a walk in the garden.

"Prudence," said she, seriously, "I would have you give me counsel. Some
one hath asked me what a young maiden should do in certain circumstances
that I will put before you; but how can I tell, how can I judge of
anything, when my head is in a whirligig of confusion with parsons'
arguments, and people leaving the country, and I know not what else? But
you, good mouse--your mind is ever calm and equable--you can speak sweet
words in Israel--you are as Daniel that was so excellent a judge even in
his youth----"

"Judith!" the other protested; but indeed Judith's eyes were perfectly
grave and apparently sincere.

"Well, then, sweetheart, listen: let us say that a young man has seen a
young maiden that is not known to him but by name--perchance at church
it may have been, or as she was walking home to her own door. And there
may be reasons why he should not go boldly to her father's house,
though he would fain do so; his fancy being taken with her in a small
measure, and he of a gentle disposition, and ready to esteem her higher
than she deserved. And again it might be that he wished for private
speech with her--to judge of her manners and her inclinations--before
coming publicly forward to pay court to her: but alack, I cannot tell
the story as my father would; 'tis the veriest skeleton of a story, and
I fear me you will scarce understand. But let us say that the young man
is bold and ingenious, and bethinks him of a stratagem whereby to make
acquaintance with the damsel. He writes to her as a wizard that has
important news to tell her; and begs her to go forth and meet him; and
that on a certain morning he will be awaiting her at such and such a
place. Now this maiden that I am telling you of has no great faith in
wizards, but being curious to see the juggling, she goes forth to meet
him as he asks----"

"Judith, I pray you speak plain; what is't you mean?" Prudence
exclaimed; for she had begun to suspect.

"You must listen, good mouse, before you can give judgment," said
Judith, calmly; and she proceeded: "Now you must understand that it was
the young gentleman himself whom she met, though she knew it not; for he
had dressed himself up as an ancient wizard, and he had a solemn manner,
and Latin speech, and what not. Then says the wizard to her, 'I can show
you the man that is to be your lover and sweetheart and husband; that
will win you and wear you in the time coming; and if you would see him,
go to such and such a cross-road, and he will appear.' Do you perceive,
now, sweet mouse, that it was a safe prophecy, seeing that he had
appointed himself to be the very one who should meet her?"

Prudence had gradually slipped her arm away from that of her friend, and
now stood still, regarding her breathlessly, while Judith, with eyes
quite placid and inscrutable, continued her story:

"'Twas a noteworthy stratagem, and successful withal; for the maiden
goes to the cross-road, and there she meets the young gentleman--now in
his proper costume. But she has no great faith in magic; she regards him
not as a ghost summoned by the wizard; she would rather see in this
meeting an ordinary accident; and the young man being most courteous and
modest and civil-spoken, they become friends. Do you follow the story?
You see, good mouse, there is much in his condition to demand sympathy
and kindness--he being in hiding, and cut off from his friends; and she,
not being too industrious, and fond rather of walking in the meadows and
the like, meets him now here, now there, but with no other thought than
friendliness. I pray you, bear that in mind, sweetheart; for though I
esteem her not highly, yet would I do her justice: there was no thought
in her mind but friendliness, and a wish to be civil to one that seemed
grateful for any such communion. And then one morning something
happens--beshrew me if I can tell thee how it happened, and that is the
truth--but something happens--an idea jumps into her head--she suspects
that this young gentleman is no other than the same who was the wizard,
and that she has been entrapped by him, and that he, having played the
wizard, would now fain play the lover----"

"Judith, is't possible! is't possible!"

"Hold, cousin, hold; your time is not yet. I grant you 'tis a bold
conjecture, and some would say not quite seemly and becoming to a
maiden, seeing that he had never spoken any word to her of the kind; but
there it was in her head--the suspicion that this young gentleman had
tricked her, for his own amusement, or perchance to secure her company.
Now, sweet judge in Israel, for your judgment! And on two points, please
you. First supposing this conjecture to be false, how is she to atone to
the young gentleman? And how is she to punish herself? And how is she to
be anything but uneasy should she chance to see him again? Nay, more,
how is she to get this evil suspicion banished from her mind, seeing
that she dare not go to him and confess, and beg him for the assurance
that he had never heard of the wizard? Then the second point: supposing
the conjecture to be true, ought she to be very indignant? How should
she demean herself? Should she go to him and reproach him with his
treachery? She would never forgive it, dear mouse, would she, even as a
lover's stratagem?"

"Judith, I cannot understand you; I cannot understand how you can even
regard such a possibility, and remain content and smiling----"

"Then I ought to be indignant? Good cousin, I but asked for your
advice," Judith said. "I must be angry; I must fret and fume, and use
hot language, and play the tragedy part? In good sooth, when I think
on't, 'twas a piece of boldness to put himself forward as my future
husband--it was indeed--though twas cunningly contrived. Marry, but I
understand now why my goodman wizard would take no money from me; 'twas
myself that he would have in payment of his skill; and 'gracious lady'
and 'sweet lady,' these were the lures to lead me on; and his shepherd's
dial placed on the ground! Then off go beard and cloak, and a couple of
days thereafter he is a gay young gallant; and 'sweet lady' it is
again--or 'fair lady,' was't?--'know you one Master Shakespeare in the
town?' And such modesty, and such downcast eyes, and an appeal for one
in misfortune. Heaven save us, was it not well done? Modesty! By my
life, a rare modest gentleman! He comes down to Stratford, armed with
his London speech and his London manners, and he looks around. Which
one, then? which of all the maidens will his lordship choose for wife?
'Oh!' saith he, 'there is Judith Shakespeare; she will do as well as
another; perchance better, for New Place is the fairest house in the
town, and doubtless she will have a goodly marriage portion. So now how
to secure her? how to charm her away from any clownish sweetheart she
may chance to have? Easily done, i' faith! A country wench is sure to
believe in magic; 'tis but raising my own ghost out of the ground, and a
summons to her, and I have her sure and safe, to win and to wear, for
better or worse!'" She looked at Prudence. "Heaven's blessings on us
all, good Prue, was there ever poor maiden played such a scurril trick?"

"Then your eyes are opened, Judith?" said Prudence, eagerly; "you will
have naught more to do with such a desperate villain?"

Again Judith regarded her, and laughed.

"I but told a story to frighten thee, good heart," said she. "A
desperate villain? Yes, truly; but 'tis I am a desperate villain to let
such rascal suspicions possess me for an instant. Nay, good mouse, think
of it! Is't possible that one would dare so much for so poor a prize?
That the young gentleman hath some self-assurance, I know; and he can
quickly make friends; but do you think, if any such dark design had been
his, he would have entered my grandmother's cottage, and ate and drank
there, and promised to renew his visit? Sweet judge in Israel, your
decision on the other point, I pray you! What penance must I do for
letting such cruel thoughts stray into my brain? How shall I purge them
away? To whom must I confess? Nay, methinks I must go to the young
gentleman himself, and say: 'Good sir, I have a friend and gossip that
is named Prudence Shawe, who hath a strange belief in phantom-men and
conspirators. I pray you pardon me that through her my brain is somewhat
distraught; and that I had half a mind to accuse you of a plot for
stealing me away--me, who have generally this stout mastiff with me. I
speech you, sir, steal me not--nay, forgive me that I ever dreamed of
your having any such purpose. 'Tis our rude country manners, good sir,
that teach a maid to believe a man may not speak to her without intent
to marry her. I pray you pardon me--my heart is kneeling to you, could
you but see--and give me such assurance that you meditated no such thing
as will bring me back my scattered senses.' Were not that well done?
Shall that be my penance, good mouse?"

"Dear Judith, tell me true," her friend said, almost piteously, "do you
suspect him of having played the wizard to cheat you and entrap you?"

"Good cousin," said she, in her frankest manner, "I confess: I did
suspect--for an instant. I know not what put it into my head. But sure I
am I have done him wrong--marry, 'twere no such deadly sin even had he
been guilty of such a trick; but I believe it not--nay, he is too civil
and gentle for a jest of the kind. When I see him again I must make him
amends for my evil thinking: do not I owe him as much, good gossip?"

This was all she could say at present, for Matthew gardener here made
his appearance, and that was the signal for their withdrawing into the
house. But that afternoon, as Judith bethought her that Master Leofric
Hope would be coming to her grandmother's cottage with the manuscript he
had promised to return, she became more and more anxious to see him
again. Somehow she thought she could more effectually drive away this
disquieting surmise if she could but look at him, and regard his manner,
and hear him speak. As it turned out, however, it was not until somewhat
late on in the evening that she found time to seek out little Willie
Hart, and propose to him that he should walk with her as far as



"Sweetheart Willie," she said--and her hand lay lightly on his shoulder,
as they were walking through the meadows in the quiet of this warm
golden evening--"what mean you to be when you grow up?"

He thought for a second or two, and then he rather timidly regarded her.

"What would you have me to be, Cousin Judith?" he said.

"Why, then," said she, "methinks I would have you be part student and
part soldier, were it possible, like the gallant Sir Philip Sidney, that
Queen Elizabeth said was the jewel of her reign. And yet you know,
sweetheart, that we cannot all of us be of such great estate. There be
those who live at the court, and have wealth and lands, and expeditions
given them to fit out, so that they gain fame; that is not the lot of
every one, and I know not whether it may be yours--though for brave men
there is ever a chance. But this I know I would have you ready to do,
whether you be in high position or in low, and that is to fight for
England, if needs be, and defend her, and cherish her. Why," she said,
"what would you think, now, of one brought up by a gentle mother, one
that owes his birth and training to this good mother, and because there
is something amiss in the house, and because everything is not to his
mind, he ups and says he must go away and forsake her? Call you that the
thought of a loyal son and one that is grateful? I call it the thought
of a peevish, froward, fractious child. Because, forsooth, this thing or
the other is not to his worship's liking, or all the company not such as
he would desire, or others of the family having different opinions--as
surely, in God's name, they have a right to have--why, he must needs
forsake the mother that bore him, and be off and away to other
countries! Sweetheart Willie, that shall never be your mind, I charge
you. No, you shall remain faithful to your mother England, that is a
dear mother and a good mother, and hath done well by her sons and
daughters for many a hundred years; and you shall be proud of her, and
ready to fight for her, ay, and to give your life for the love of her,
if ever the need should be!"

He was a small lad, but he was sensitive and proud-spirited; and he
loved dearly this Cousin Judith who had made this appeal to him; so that
for a second the blood seemed to forsake his face.

"I am too young as yet to do aught, Cousin Judith," said he, in rather a
low voice, for his breath seemed to catch; "but--but when I am become a
man I know that there will be one that will sooner die than see any
Spaniard or Frenchman seize the country."

"Bravely said, sweetheart, by my life!" she exclaimed (and her approval
was very sweet to his ears). "That is the spirit that women's hearts
love to hear of, I can tell thee." And she stooped and kissed him in
reward. "Hold to that faith. Be not ashamed of your loyalty to your
mother England! Ashamed? Heaven's mercy! where is there such another
country to be proud of? And where is there another mother that hath bred
such a race of sons? Why, times without number have I heard my father
say that neither Greece, nor Rome, nor Carthage, nor any of them, were
such a race of men as these in this small island, nor had done such
great things, nor earned so great a fame, in all parts of the world and
beyond the seas. And mark you this, too: 'tis the men who are fiercest
to fight with men that are the gentlest to women; they make no slaves of
their women; they make companions of them; and in honoring them they
honor themselves, as I reckon. Why, now, could I but remember what my
father hath written about England, 'twould stir your heart, I know; that
it would; for you are one of the true stuff, I'll be sworn; and you will
grow up to do your duty by your gracious mother England--not to run away
from her in peevish discontent!"

She cast about for some time, her memory, that she could not replenish
by any book-reading, being a large and somewhat miscellaneous

"'Twas after this fashion," said she, "if I remember aright:

    'This royal throne of kings, this sceptred isle,
    This earth of majesty, this seat of Mars,
    This fortress, built by Nature for herself
    Against infestion and the hand of war;
    This happy breed of men, this little world,
    This precious stone set in the silver sea,
    Which serves it in the office of a wall,
    Or as a moat defensive to a house,
    Against the envy of less happier lands--
    This blessed plot, this earth, this realm, this England!'

Mark you that, sweetheart?--is't not a land worth fighting for? Ay, and
she hath had sons that could fight for her; and she hath them yet, I
dare be sworn, if the need were to arise. And this is what you shall
say, Cousin Willie, when you are a man and grown:

    'Come the three corners of the world in arms,
    And we shall shock them. Naught shall make us rue,
    If England to itself do rest but true!'"

These quotations were but for the instruction of this small cousin of
hers, and yet her own face was proud.

"Shall I be a soldier, then, Cousin Judith?" the boy said. "I am willing
enough. I would be what you would wish me to be; and if I went to the
wars, you would never have need to be ashamed of me."

"That know I right well, sweetheart," said she, and she patted him on
the head. "But 'tis not every one's duty to follow that calling. You
must wait and judge for yourself. But whatever chances life may bring
you, this must you ever remain, if you would have my love, sweetheart,
and that I hope you shall have always--you must remain a good and loyal
son to your mother England, one not easily discontented with small
discomforts, and sent forth in a peevish fit. Where is there a fairer
country? Marry, I know of none. Look around--is't not a fair enough

And fair indeed on this quiet evening was that wide stretch of
Warwickshire, with its hedges and green meadows, and low-lying wooded
hills bathed in the warm sunset light. But it was the presence of Judith
that made it all magical and mystical to him. Whatever she regarded with
her clear-shining and wondrous eyes was beautiful enough for him--while
her hand lay on his shoulder or touched his hair. He was a willing
pupil. He drank in those lessons in patriotism: what was it he would not
do for his cousin Judith? What was it he would not believe if it were
she who told him, in that strange voice of hers, that thrilled him, and
was like music to him, whether she spoke to him in this proud,
admonitory way, or was in a teasing mood, or was gentle and affectionate
toward him? Yes, this Warwickshire landscape was fair enough, under the
calm sunset sky; but he knew not what made it all so mystical and
wonderful, and made the far golden clouds seem as the very gateways to

"Or is there one with a prouder story?" she continued. "Or a land of
greater freedom? Why, look at me, now. Here am I, a woman, easily
frightened, helpless if there were danger, not able to fight any one.
Why, you yourself, Cousin Willie, if you were to draw a dagger on me, I
declare to thee I would run and shriek and hide. Well, look at me as I
stand here: all the might and majesty of England cannot harm me; I am
free to go or to stay. What needs one more? None durst put a hand on me.
My mind is as free as my footsteps. I may go this way or that as I
choose; and no one may command me to believe this, that, or the other.
What more? And this security--think you it had not to be fought
for?--think you it was not worth the fighting for? Or think you we
should forget to give good thanks to the men that faced the Spaniards,
and drove them by sea and shore, and kept our England to ourselves? Or
think you we should forget our good Queen Bess, that I warrant me had as
much spirit as they, and was as much a man as any of them?"

She laughed.

"Perchance you never heard, sweetheart, of the answer that she made to
the Spanish ambassador?"

"No, Judith," said he, but something in her manner told him that there
had been no cowardice in that answer.

"Well," she said, "I will tell thee the story of what happened at
Deptford. And now I bethink me, this must you do, cousin Willie, when
you are grown to be a man; and whether you be soldier or sailor, or
merchant, or student, 'tis most like that some day or other you will be
in London; and then must you not fail to go straightway to Deptford to
see the famous ship of Sir Francis Drake lying there. I tell thee, 'twas
a goodly thought to place it there; that was like our brave Queen Bess;
she would have the youth of the country regard with honor the ship that
had been all round the world, and chased the Spaniards from every sea.
Nay, so bad is my memory that I cannot recall the name of the
vessel--perchance 'twas the Judith--at least I have heard that he had
one of that name; but there it lies, to signal the glory of England and
the routing of Spain."

"The Judith?" said he, with wondering eyes. "Did he name the ship after
you, cousin?"

"Bless the lad! All that I'm going to tell thee happened ere I was

"No matter," said he, stoutly: "the first thing I will ask to see, if
ever I get to London is that very ship."

"Well, then, the story," she continued, shaping the thing in her mind
(for being entirely destitute of book learning, historical incidents
were apt to assume a dramatic form in her imagination, and also to lose
literal accuracy of outline). "You must know the Spaniards were sore
vexed because of the doings of Francis Drake in all parts of the world,
for he had plundered and harried them and burned their ships and their
towns, and made the very name of England a terror to them. 'Tis no
marvel if they wished to get hold of him; and they declared him to be no
better than a pirate; and they would have the Queen--that is, our last
Queen--deliver him over to them that they might do with him what they
willed. Marry, 'twas a bold demand to made of England! And the Queen,
how does she take it, think you?--how is she moved to act in such a
pass? Why, she goes down to Deptford, to this very ship that I told thee
of--she and all her nobles and ladies, for they would see the famous
ship. Then they had dinner on board, as I have heard the story; and the
Queen's Majesty asked many particulars of his voyages from Master Drake,
and received from him certain jewels as a gift, and was right proud to
wear them. Then says she aloud to them all: 'My lords, is this the man
the Spaniards would have me give over to them?' Right well she knew he
was the man; but that was her way, and she would call the attention of
all of them. 'Your Majesty,' they said, ''tis no other.' Then she swore
a great oath that the Queen of England knew how to make answer to such a
demand. 'Come hither, Master Drake,' says she, in a terrible voice.
'Kneel!' Then he knelt on his knee before her. 'My lord,' says she to
one of the noblemen standing by, 'your sword!' And then, when she had
the sword in her hand, she says, in a loud voice, 'My lords, this is the
man that Spain would have us give up to her; and this is the answer of
England: Arise, Sir Francis!'--and with that she taps him on the
shoulder--which is the way of making a knight, Cousin Willie; and I pray
you may be brave and valiant, and come to the same dignity, so that all
of us here in Stratford shall say, 'There, now, is one that knew how to
serve faithfully his fair mother England!' But that was not all, you
must know, that happened with regard to Sir Francis Drake. For the
Spanish ambassador was wroth with the Queen; ay, and went the length
even of speaking with threats. ''Twill come to the cannon,' says he.
'What?' says she, turning upon him. 'Your Majesty,' says he, 'I fear me
this matter will come to the cannon.' And guess you her answer?--nay,
they say she spoke quite calmly, and regarded him from head to foot, and
that if there were anger in her heart there was none in her voice.
'Little man, little man,' says she, 'if I hear any more such words from
thee, by God I will clap thee straight into a dungeon!'"

Judith laughed, in a proud kind of way.

"That was the answer that England gave," said she, "and that she is like
to give again, if the Don or any other of them would seek to lord it
over her."

Three-fourths of these details were of her own invention, or rather--for
it is scarcely fair to say that--they had unconsciously grown up in her
mind from the small seed of the true story. But little Willie Hart had
no distrust of any legend that his cousin Judith might relate to him.
Whatever Judith said was true, and also luminous in a strange kind of
fashion; something beautiful and full of color, to be thought over and
pondered over. And now as they walked along toward the village, idly and
lazily enough--for she had no other errand than to fetch back the
manuscript that would be lying at the cottage--his eyes were wistful.
His fancies were far away. What was it, then, that he was to do for
England--that Judith should approve in the after-years? And for how long
should he be away--in the Spanish Main, perchance, of which he had heard
many stories, or fighting in the lowlands of Holland, or whatever he was
called to do--and what was there at the end? Well, the end that he
foresaw and desired--the reward of all his toil--was nothing more nor
less than this: that he should be sitting once again in a pew in
Stratford church, on a quiet Sunday morning, with Judith beside him as
of old, they listening to the singing together. He did not think of his
being grown up, or that she would be other than she was now. His mind
could form no other or fairer consummation than that--that would be for
him the final good--to come back to Stratford town to find Judith as she
had ever been to him, gentle, and kind, and soft-handed, and ready with
a smile from her beautiful and lustrous eyes.

"Yes, sweetheart Willie," said she, as they were nearing the cottages,
"look at the quiet that reigns all around, and no priests of the
Inquisition to come dragging my poor old grandmother from her knitting.
What has she to do but look after the garden, and scold the maid, and
fetch milk for the cat? And all this peace of the land that we enjoy we
may have to fight for again; and then, if the King's Majesty calls
either for men or for money, you shall have no word but obedience. Heard
you never of the Scotch knight, Sir Patrick Spens?--that the Scotch King
would send away to Norroway at an evil time of the year? Did he grumble?
Did he say his men were ill content to start at such a time? Nay, as I
have heard, when he read the King's letter the tears welled in his eyes;
but I'll be sworn that was for the companions he was taking with him to
face the cruel sea.

    'The King's daughter from Norroway,
        'Tis we must fetch her home,'

he says; and then they up with their sails, and set out from the land
that they never were to see more. What of that? They were brave men;
they did what was demanded of them; though the black seas of the north
were too strong for them in the end. 'Twas a sad tale, in good sooth:

    'O lang, lang may the ladies sit,
      Wi' the fans into their hand,
    Before they see Sir Patrick Spens
      Come sailing to the strand!

    'And lang, lang may the maidens sit,
      Wi' their gold combs in their hair,
    All waiting for their ain dear loves,
      For them they'll see nae mair.

    'Half owre, half owre to Aberdour,
      'Tis fifty fathoms deep,
    And there lies good Sir Patrick Spens
      Wi' the Scots lords at his feet.'

But what then? I tell thee, sweetheart, any maiden that would be worth
the winning would a hundred times liefer wail for a lover that had died
bravely than welcome him back safe and sound as a coward. You shall be
no coward, I warrant me, when you are grown up to be a man; and above
all, as I say, shall you be gentle and forgiving with your mother
England, even if your own condition be not all you wish; and none the
less for that shall you be willing to fight for her should she be in
trouble. Nay, I'll answer for thee, lad: I know thee well."

"But, Judith," said he, "who are they you speak of, that are
discontented, and would go away and leave the country?"

Well, it is probable she might have found some embarrassment in
answering this question (if she had been pressed to name names) but that
what she now beheld deprived her of the power of answering altogether.
She had come over from the town with no other thought than to pay a
brief visit to her grandmother, and fetch back the portion of the play,
and she had not the slightest expectation of encountering Master Leofric
Hope. But there unmistakably he was, though he did not see her, for he
was standing at the gate of her grandmother's cottage, and talking to
the old dame, who was on the other side. There was no pretence of
concealment. Here he was in the public path, idly chatting, his hand
resting on the gate. And as Judith had her cousin Willie with her, her
first thought was to hurry away in any direction in order to escape an
interview; but directly she saw that this was impossible, for her
grandmother had descried her, if Leofric Hope had not. The consequence
was that, as she went forward to the unavoidable meeting, she was not
only surprised and a trifle confused and anxious, but also somewhat and
vaguely resentful; for she had been intending, before seeing him again,
to frame in her mind certain tests which might remove or confirm one or
two suspicions that had caused her disquietude. And now--and unfairly,
as she thought--she found herself compelled to meet him without any such
legitimate safeguard of preparation. She had no time to reflect that it
was none of his fault. Why had not he left the play earlier? she asked
herself. Why had not he departed at once? Why, with all his professions
of secrecy, should he be standing in the open highway, carelessly
talking? And what was she to say to little Willie Hart that would
prevent his carrying back the tale to the school and the town? When she
went forward, it was with considerable reluctance; and she had a dim,
hurt sense of having been imposed upon, or somehow or another injured.



But the strange thing was that the moment he turned and saw her--and the
moment she met the quick look of friendliness and frank admiration that
came into his face and his eloquent dark eyes--all her misgivings,
surmises, suspicions, and half-meditated safeguards instantly vanished.
She herself could not have explained it; she only knew that, face to
face with him, she had no longer any doubt as to his honesty; and
consequently that vague sense of injury vanished also. She had been
taken unawares, but she did not mind. Everything, indeed, connected with
this young man was of a startling, unusual character; and she was
becoming familiar with that, and less resentful at being surprised.

"Ah, fair Mistress Judith," said he, "you come opportunely: I would
thank you from the heart for the gracious company I have enjoyed this
afternoon through your good-will; in truth, I was loath to part with
such sweet friends, and perchance detained them longer than I should."

"I scarce understand you, sir," said she, somewhat bewildered.

"Not the visions that haunt a certain magic island?" said he.

Her face lit up.

"Well, sir?" she asked, with a kind of pride; but at this point her
grandmother interposed, and insisted--somewhat to Judith's
surprise--that they should come in and sit down, if not in the house, at
least in the garden. He seemed willing enough; for without a word he
opened the gate to let Judith pass; and then she told him who her cousin
was; and in this manner they went up to the little arbor by the hedge.

"Well, good sir, and how liked you the company?" said she, cheerfully,
when she had got within and sat down.

Her grandmother had ostensibly taken to her knitting; but she managed
all the same to keep a sharp eye on the young man; for she was curious,
and wanted to know something further of the parcel that he had left with
her. It was not merely hospitality or a freak of courtesy that had
caused her to give him this sudden invitation. Her granddaughter Judith
was a self-willed wench and mischievous; she would keep an eye on her
too; she would learn more of this commerce between her and the young
gentleman who had apparently dropped, as it were, from the skies. As for
little Willie Hart, he remained outside, regarding the stranger with no
great good-will; but perhaps more with wonder than with anger, for he
marvelled to hear Judith talk familiarly with this person, of whom he
had never heard a word, as though she had known him for years.

"'Tis not for one such as I," said Master Leofric Hope, modestly--and
with such a friendly regard toward Judith that she turned away her eyes
and kept looking at this and that in the garden--"to speak of the
beauties of the work; I can but tell you of the delight I have myself
experienced. And yet how can I even do that? How can I make you
understand that--or my gratitude either, sweet Mistress Judith--unless
you know something of the solitude of the life I am compelled to lead?
You would have yourself to live at Bassfield Farm; and watch the
monotony of the days there; and be scarcely able to pass the time: then
would you know the delight of being introduced to this fair region that
your father hath invented, and being permitted to hear those creatures
of his imagination speak to each other. Nay, but 'tis beautiful! I am no
critical judge; but I swear 'twill charm the town."

"You think so, sir?" said she, eagerly, and for an instant she withdrew
her eyes from the contemplation of the flowers. But immediately she
altered her tone to one of calm indifference. "My father hath many
affairs to engage him, you must understand, good sir; perchance, now,
this play is not such as he would have written had he leisure, and--and
had he been commanded by the court, and the like. Perchance 'tis too
much of the human kind for such purposes?"

"I catch not your meaning, sweet lady," said he.

"I was thinking," said she, calmly, "of the masques you told us of--at
Theobald's and elsewhere--that Master Benjamin Jonson has written, and
that they all seem to prize so highly: perchance these were of a finer
stuff than my father hath time to think of, being occupied, as it were,
with so many cares. 'Tis a rude life, having regard to horses, and
lands, and malt, and the rest; and--and the court ladies--they would
rather have the gods and goddesses marching in procession, would they
not? My father's writing is too much of the common kind, is it not, good
sir?--'tis more for the 'prentices, one might say, and such as these?"

He glanced at her. He was not sure of her.

"The King, sweet lady," said he, "is himself learned, and would have the
court familiar with the ancient tongues; and for such pageants 'tis no
wonder they employ Master Jonson, that is a great scholar. But surely
you place not such things--that are but as toys--by the side of your
father's plays, that all marvel at, and applaud, and that have driven
away all others from our stage?"

"Say you so?" she answered, with the same indifferent demeanor. "Nay, I
thought that Master Scoloker--was that his worship's name?--deemed them
to be of the vulgar sort. But perchance he was one of the learned ones.
The King, they say, is often minded to speak in the Latin. What means he
by that, good sir, think you? Hath he not yet had time to learn our
English speech?"

"Wench, what would you?" her grandmother interposed, sharply. "Nay, good
sir, heed her not; her tongue be an unruly member, and maketh sport of
her, as I think; but the wench meaneth no harm."

"The King is proud of his learning, no doubt," said he; and he would
probably have gone on to deprecate any comparison between the court
masques and her father's plays but that she saw here her opportunity,
and interrupted him.

"I know it," she said, "for the letter that the King sent to my father
is writ in the Latin."

"Nay, is it so?" said he.

She affected not to observe his surprise.

"'Twas all the same to my father," she continued, calmly, "whether the
letter was in one tongue or the other. He hath one book now--how is it
called?--'tis a marvellous heap of old stories--the Jests----"

"Not the _Gesta Romanorum_?" he said.

"The same, as I think. Well, he hath one copy that is in English, and of
our own time, as I am told; but he hath also another and a very ancient
copy, that is in the Latin tongue; and this it is--the Latin one, good
sir--that my father is fondest of; and many a piece of merriment he will
get out of it, when Julius Shawe is in the house of an evening."

"But the _Gesta_ are not jests, good Mistress Judith," said he, looking
somewhat puzzled.

"I know not; I but hear them laughing," said she, placidly. "And as for
the book itself, all I know of it is the outside; but that is right
strange and ancient, and beautiful withal: the back of it white leather
stamped with curious devices; and the sides of parchment printed in
letters of red and black; and the silver clasps of it with each a boar's
head. I have heard say that that is the crest of the Scotch knight that
gave the volume to my father when they were all at Aberdeen; 'twas when
they made Laurence Fletcher a burgess; and the knight said to my
father, 'Good sir, the honor to your comrade is a general one, but I
would have you take this book in particular, in the way of thanks and
remembrance for your wit and pleasant company'--that, or something like
that, said he; and my father is right proud of the book, that is very
ancient and precious; and often he will read out of it--though it be in
the Latin tongue. Oh, I assure you, sir," she added, with a calm and
proud air, "'tis quite the same thing to him. If the King choose to
write to him in that tongue, well and good. Marry, now I think of it, I
make no doubt that Julius Shawe would lend me the letter, did you care
to see it."

He looked up quickly and eagerly.

"Goes your goodness so far, sweet Mistress Judith? Would you do me such
a favor and honor?"

"Nay, young sir," the grandmother said, looking up from her knitting,
"tempt not the wench; she be too ready to do mad things out of her own
mind. And you, grandchild, see you meddle not in your father's affairs."

"Why, grandam," Judith cried, "'tis the common property of Stratford
town. Any one that goeth into Julius Shawe's house may see it. And why
Julius Shawe's friends only? Beshrew me, there are others who have as
good a title to that letter--little as my father valueth it."

"Nay, I will forego the favor," said he at once, "though I owe you none
the less thanks, dear lady, for the intention of your kindness. In
truth, I know not how to make you sensible of what I already owe you;
for, having made acquaintance with those fair creations, how can one but
long to hear of what further befell them? My prayer would rather go in
that direction--if I might make so bold."

He regarded her now with a timid look. Well, she had not undertaken that
he should see the whole of the play, nor had she ever hinted to him of
any such possibility; but it had been in her mind, and for the life of
her she could not see any harm in this brief loan of it. Harm? Had not
even this brief portion of it caused him to think of her father's
creations as if they were of a far more marvellous nature than the
trumpery court performances that had engrossed his talk when first she
met him?

"There might be some difficulty, good sir," said she, "but methinks I
could obtain for you the further portions, if my good grandmother here
would receive them and hand them to you when occasion served."

"What's that, wench?" her grandmother said, instantly.

"'Tis but a book, good grandam, that I would lend Master Hope to lighten
the dulness of his life at the farm withal: you cannot have any
objection, grandmother?"

"'Tis a new trade to find thee in, wench," said her grandmother. "I'd 'a
thought thou wert more like to have secret commerce in laces and silks."

"I am no pedler, good madam," said he, with a smile; "else could I find
no pleasanter way of passing the time than in showing to you and your
fair granddaughter my store of braveries. Nay, this that I would beg of
you is but to keep the book until I have the chance to call for it; and
that is a kindness you have already shown in taking charge of the little
package I left for Mistress Judith here."

"Well, well, well," said the old dame, "if 'tis anything belonging to
her father, see you bring it back, and let not the wench get into

"I think you may trust me so far, good madam," said he, with such
simplicity of courtesy and sincerity that even the old grandmother was

In truth she had been regarding the two of them with some sharpness
during these few minutes to see if she could detect anything in their
manner that might awaken suspicion. There was nothing. No doubt the
young gentleman regarded Judith with an undisguised wish to be friendly
with her, and say pretty things; but was that to be wondered at? 'Twas
not all the lads in Stratford that would be so modest in showing their
admiration for a winsome lass. And this book-lending commerce was but
natural in the circumstances. She would have been well content to hear
that his affairs permitted him to leave the neighborhood, and that would
happen in good time; meanwhile there could be no great harm in being
civil to so well-behaved a young gentleman. So now, as she had satisfied
herself that the leaving of the package meant nothing dark or dangerous,
she rose and hobbled away in search of the little maid, to see that some
ale were brought out for the refreshment of her visitor.

"Sweetheart Willie," Judith called, "what have you there? Come hither!"

Her small cousin had got hold of the cat, and was vainly endeavoring to
teach it to jump over his clasped hands. He took it up in his arms, and
brought it with him to the arbor, though he did not look in the
direction of the strange gentleman.

"We shall be setting forth for home directly," said she. "Wilt thou not
sit down and rest thee?"

"'Tis no such distance, cousin," said he.

He seemed unwilling to come in; he kept stroking the cat, with his head
averted. So she went out to him, and put her arm round his neck.

"This, sir," said she, "is my most constant companion, next to Prudence
Shawe; I know not to what part of all this neighborhood we have not
wandered together. And such eyes he hath for the birds' nests; when I
can see naught but a cloud of leaves he will say, why, 'tis so and so,
or so and so; and up the tree like a squirrel, and down again with one
of the eggs, or perchance a small naked birdling, to show me. But we
always put them back, sweetheart, do we not?--we leave no bereft
families, or sorrowing mother bird to find an empty nest. We do as we
would be done by; and 'tis no harm to them that we should look at the
pretty blue eggs, or take out one of the small chicks with its downy
feathers and its gaping bill. And for the fishing, too--there be none
cleverer at setting a line, as I hear, or more patient in watching; but
I like not that pastime, good Cousin Willie, for or soon or late you are
certain to fall through the bushes into the river, as happened to Dickie
Page last week, and there may not be some one there to haul you out, as
they hauled out him."

"And how fares he at the school?" said the young gentleman in the arbor.

"Oh, excellent well, as I am told," said she, "although I be no judge of
lessons myself. Marry, I hear good news of his behavior; and if there be
a bloody nose now and again, why, a boy that's attacked must hold his
own, and give as good as he gets--'twere a marvel else--and 'tis no use
making furious over it, for who knows how the quarrel began? Nay, I will
give my cousin a character for being as gentle as any, and as
reasonable; and if he fought with Master Crutchley's boy, and hit him
full sore, I fear, between the eyes--well, having heard something of the
matter, I make no doubt it served young Crutchley right, and that elder
people should have a care in condemning when they cannot know the
beginning of the quarrel. Well, now I bethink me, sweetheart, tell me
how it began, for that I never heard. How began the quarrel?"

"Nay, 'twas nothing," he said, shamefacedly.

"Nothing? Nay, that I will not believe. I should not wonder now if it
were about some little wench. What? Nay, I'll swear it now! 'Twas about
the little wench that has come to live at the Vicarage--what's her
name?--Minnie, or Winnie?"

"'Twas not, then, Judith," said he. "If you must know, I will tell you;
I had liefer say naught about it. But 'twas not the first time he had
said so--before all of them--that my uncle was no better than an idle
player, that ought to be put in the stocks and whipped."

"Why, now," said she, "to think that the poor lad's nose should be set
a-bleeding for nothing more than that!"

"It had been said more than once, Cousin Judith; 'twas time it should
end," said he, simply.

At this moment Master Leofric Hope called to him.

"Come hither, my lad," said he. "I would hear how you get on at school."

The small lad turned and regarded him, but did not budge. His demeanor
was entirely changed. With Judith he was invariably gentle, submissive,
abashed: now, as he looked at the stranger, he seemed to resent the

"Come hither, my lad."

"Thank you, no, sir," he said; "I would as lief be here."

"Sweetheart, be these your manners?" Judith said.

But the young gentleman only laughed good-naturedly.

"Didst thou find any such speeches in the _Sententiæ Pueriles_?" said
he. "They were not there when I was at school."

"When go we back to Stratford, Judith?" said the boy.

"Presently, presently," said she (with some vague impression that she
could not well leave until her grandmother's guest showed signs of going
also). "See, here is my grandam coming with various things for us; and I
warrant me you shall find some gingerbread amongst them."

The old dame and the little maid now came along, bringing with them ale
and jugs and spiced bread and what not, which were forthwith put on the
small table; and though Judith did not care to partake of these, and was
rather wishful to set out homeward again, still, in common courtesy, she
was compelled to enter the arbor and sit down. Moreover, Master Hope
seemed in no hurry to go. It was a pleasant evening, the heat of the day
being over; the skies were clear, fair, and lambent with the declining
golden light: why should one hasten away from this quiet bower, in the
sweet serenity and silence, with the perfume of roses all around, and
scarce a breath of air to stir the leaves? He but played with this
slight refection; nevertheless, it was a kind of excuse for the starting
of fresh talk; and his talk was interesting and animated. Then he had
discovered a sure and easy way of pleasing Judith, and instantly gaining
her attention. When he spoke of the doings in London, her father was no
longer left out of these: nay, on the contrary, he became a central
figure; and she learned more now of the Globe and Blackfriars theatres
than ever she had heard in her life before. Nor did she fail to lead him
on with questions. Which of her father's friends were most constant
attendants at the theatre? Doubtless they had chairs set for them on the
stage? Was there any one that her father singled out for especial favor?
When they went to the tavern in the evening, what place had her father
at the board? Did any of the young lords go with them? How late sat
they? Did her father outshine them all with his wit and merriment, or
did he sit quiet and amused?--for sometimes it was the one and sometimes
the other with him here in Stratford. Did they in London know that he
had such a goodly house, and rich lands, and horses? And was there good
cooking at the tavern--Portugal dishes and the like? Or perchance (she
asked, with an inquiring look from the beautiful, clear eyes) it was
rather poor? And the napery, now: it was not always of the cleanest? And
instead of neat-handed maids, rude serving-men, tapsters, drawers, and
so forth? And the ale--she could be sworn 'twas no better than the
Warwickshire ale; no, nor was the claret likely to be better than that
brought into the country for the gentlefolk by such noted vintners as
Quiney. Her father's lodging--that he said was well enough, as he said
everything was well enough, for she had never known him utter a word of
discontent with anything that happened to him--perchance 'twas none of
the cleanliest? for she had heard that the London housewives were mostly
slovens, and would close you doors and windows against the air, so that
a countryman going to that town was like to be sickened. And her
father--did he ever speak of his family when he was in London? Did they
know he had belongings? Nay, she was certain he must have talked to his
friends and familiars of little Bess Hall, for how could he help that?

"You forget, sweet Mistress Judith," said he, in his pleasant way, "that
I have not the honor of your father's friendship, nor of his
acquaintance even, and what I have told you is all of hearsay, save with
regard to the theatre, where I have seen him often. And that is the
general consent: that this one may have more learning, and that one more
sharpness of retort, but that in these encounters he hath a grace and a
brilliancy far outvying them all, and, moreover, with such a gentleness
as earns him the general good-will. Such is the report of him; I would
it had been in my power to speak from my own experience."

"But that time will come, good sir," said she, "and soon, I trust."

"In the mean while," said he, "bethink you what a favor it is that I
should be permitted to come into communion with those fair creations of
his fancy; and I would remind you once more of your promise, sweet
Mistress Judith; and would beseech your good grandmother to take charge
of anything you may leave for me. Nay, 'twill be for no longer than an
hour or two that I would detain it; but that brief time I would have
free from distractions, so that the mind may dwell on the picture. Do I
make too bold, sweet lady? Or does your friendship go so far?"

"In truth, sir," she answered, readily, "if I can I will bring you the
rest of the play--but perchance in portions, as the occasion serves;
'twere no great harm should you carry away with you some memory of the
Duke and his fair daughter on the island."

"The time will pass slowly until I hear more of them," said he.

"And meanwhile, good grandmother," said she, "if you will tell me where
I may find the little package, methinks I must be going."

At this he rose.

"I beseech your pardon if I have detained you, sweet lady," said he,
with much courtesy.

"Nay, sir, I am indebted to you for welcome news," she answered, "and I
would I had longer opportunity of hearing. And what said you--that he
outshone them all?--that it was the general consent?"

"Can you doubt it?" he said, gallantly.

"Nay, sir, we of his own household--and his friends in Stratford--we
know and see what my father is: so well esteemed, in truth, as Julius
Shawe saith, that there is not a man in Warwickshire would cheat him in
the selling of a horse, which they are not slow to do, as I hear, with
others. But I knew not he had won so wide and general a report in
London, where they might know him not so well as we."

"Let me assure you of that, dear lady," he said, "and also that I will
not forget to bring or send you the printed tribute to his good
qualities that I spoke of, when that I may with safety go to London.
'Tis but a trifle; but it may interest his family; marry, I wonder he
hath not himself spoken of it to you."

"He speak of it!" said she, regarding him with some surprise, as if he
ought to have known better. "We scarce know aught of what happeneth to
him in London. When he comes home to Warwickshire it would seem as if he
had forgotten London and all its affairs, and left them behind for

"Left them behind for good, say you, wench?" the old dame grumbled,
mostly to herself, as she preceded them down the path. "I would your
father had so much sense. What hath he to gain more among the players
and dicers and tavern brawlers and that idle crew? Let him bide at home,
among respectable folk. Hath he not enough of gear gathered round him,
eh? It be high time he slipped loose from those mummers that play to
please the cut-purses and their trulls in London. Hath he not enough of

"What say you, grandmother? You would have my father come away from
London and live always in Warwickshire? Well, now, that is nearer than
you think, or my guesses are wrong."

But her grandmother had gone into the cottage; and presently she
returned with the little package. Then there was a general leave-taking
at the gate; and Leofric Hope, after many expressions of his thanks and
good-will, set out on his own way, Judith and her cousin taking the path
through the meadows.

For some time they walked in silence; then, as soon as the stranger was
out of ear-shot, the lad looked up and said,

"Who is that, Judith?"

"Why," said she, lightly, "I scarcely know myself; but that he is in
misfortune and hiding, and that he knoweth certain of my father's
friends, and that he seems pleased to have a few words with one or other
of us to cheer his solitude. You would not begrudge so much, sweetheart?
Nay, there is more than that I would have you do: his safety depends on
there being no talk about him in the town; and I know you can keep a
secret, Cousin Willie; so you must not say a word to any one--whether at
school, or at home, or at New Place--of your having seen him. You will
do as much for my sake, sweetheart?"

"Yes; but why for your sake, cousin?" said the boy, looking up. "Why
should you concern yourself?"

"Nay, call it for anybody's sake, then," said she. "But I would not have
him betrayed by any one that I had aught to do with--and least of all by
you, sweetheart, that I expect to show nothing but fair and manly parts.
Nay, I trust you. You will not blab."

And then, as they walked on, it occurred to her that this young
gentleman's secret--if he wished it kept--was becoming somewhat widely
extended in his neighborhood. In her own small circle how many already
knew of his presence?--her grandmother, Prudence Shawe, herself, Tom
Quiney, and now this little Willie Hart. And she could not but remember
that not much more than half an hour ago she had seen him at the garden
gate, carelessly chatting, and apparently not heeding in the least what
passers-by might observe him. But that was always the way: when she left
him, when she was with her own thoughts, curious surmises would cross
her mind; whereas, when she met him, these were at once discarded. And
so she took to arguing with herself as to why she should be so given to
do this young man injustice in his absence, when every time she
encountered him face to face she was more than ever convinced of his
honesty. Fascination? Well, she liked to hear of London town and the
goings on there; and this evening she had been particularly interested
in hearing about the Globe Theatre, and the spectators, and the tavern
to which her father and his friends repaired for their supper; but
surely that would not blind her if she had any reason to think that the
young man was other than he represented? And then, again, this evening
he had been markedly deferential. There was nothing in his manner of
that somewhat too open gallantry he had displayed in the morning when he
made his speech about the English roses. Had she not wronged him, then,
in imagining even for a moment that he had played a trick upon her in
order to make her acquaintance? It is true, she had forgotten to make
special remark of his eyes, as to whether they were like those of the
wizard; for indeed the suspicion had gone clean out of her mind. But now
she tried to recall them; and she could not fairly say to herself that
there was a resemblance. Nay, the wizard was a solemn person, who seemed
to rebuke her light-heartedness; he spoke gravely and slow; whereas this
young man, as any one could see, had a touch of merriment in his eye
that was ready to declare itself on further acquaintance, only that his
deference kept him subdued, while his talk was light and animated and
rapid. No, she would absolve him from this suspicion; and soon, indeed,
as she guessed, he would absolve himself by removing from the
neighborhood, and probably she would hear no more of him, unless,
perchance, he should remember to send her that piece of print concerning
her father.

And then her thoughts went far afield. She had heard much of London that
evening; and London, in her mind, was chiefly associated with her
father's plays, or such as she knew of them; and these again were
represented to her by a succession of figures, whose words she thought
of, whose faces she saw, when, as now, her fancies were distant. And she
was more silent than usual as they went on their way across the meadows,
and scarce addressed a word to her companion; insomuch that at last he
looked up into her face, and said,

"Judith, why are you so sad this evening?"

"Sad, sweetheart? Surely no," she answered; and she put her hand on his
head. "What makes thee think so?"

"Did Dame Hathaway speak harshly to you?" said he. "Methought I heard
her say something. Another time I will bid her hold her peace."

"Nay, nay, not so," said she; and as they were now come to a stile, she
paused there, and drew the boy toward her.

Not that she was tired; but the evening was so quiet and still, and the
whole world seemed falling into a gentle repose. There was not a sound
near them; the earth was hushed as it, sank to sleep; far away they
could hear the voices of children going home with their parents, or the
distant barking of a dog. It was late, and yet the skies seemed full of
light, and all the objects around them were strangely distinct and
vivid. Behind them, the northwestern heavens were of a pale luminous
gold; overhead and in front of them, the great vault was of a beautiful
lilac-gray, deepening to blue in the sombre east; and into this lambent
twilight the great black elms rose in heavy masses. The wide meadows
still caught some of the dying radiance; and there was a touch of it on
the westward-looking gables of one or two cottages; and then through
this softened glow there came a small keen ray of lemon yellow--a light
in one of the far-off windows that burned there like a star. So hushed
this night was, and so calm and beautiful, that a kind of wistfulness
fell over her mind--scarcely sadness, as the boy had imagined--but a
dull longing for sympathy, and some vague wonder as to what her life
might be in the years to come.

"Why, sweetheart," said she, absently, and her hand lay affectionately
on his shoulder, "as we came along here this evening we were speaking of
all that was to happen to you in after-life; and do you never think you
would like to have the picture unrolled now, and see for yourself, and
have assurance? Does not the mystery make you impatient, or restless, or
sad--so that you would fain have the years go by quick, and get to the
end? Nay, I trow not; the day and the hour are sufficient for thee; and
'tis better so. Keep as thou art, sweetheart, and pay no heed to what
may hereafter happen to thee."

"What is't that troubles you, Judith?" said he, with an instinctive
sympathy, for there was more in her voice than in her words.

"Why, I know not myself," said she, slowly, and with her eyes fixed
vacantly on the darkening landscape. "Nothing, as I reckon. 'Tis but
beating one's wings against the invisible to seek to know even
to-morrow. And in the further years some will have gone away from
Stratford, and some to far countries, and some will be married, and some
grown old; but to all the end will be the same; and I dare say now that,
hundreds of years hence, other people will be coming to Stratford, and
they will go into the church-yard there, and walk about and look at the
names--that is, of you and me and all the rest of us--and they will say,
'Poor things, they vexed themselves about very small matters while they
were alive, but they are all at peace at last.'"

"But what is it that troubles you, Judith?" said he; for this was an
unusual mood with her, who generally was so thoughtless and merry and

"Why, nothing, sweetheart, nothing," said she, seeming to rouse herself.
"'Tis the quiet of the night that is so strange, and the darkness
coming. Or will there be moonlight? In truth, there must be, and getting
near to the full, as I reckon. A night for Jessica! Heard you ever of
her sweetheart?"

"No, Judith."

"Well, she was a fair maiden that lived long ago, somewhere in Italy, as
I think. And she ran away with her lover, and was married to him, and
was very happy; and all that is now known of her is connected with music
and moonlight and an evening such as this. Is not that a fair life to
lead after death: to be in all men's thoughts always as a happy bride,
on such a still night as this is now? And would you know how her lover
spoke to her?--this is what he says:

    'How sweet the moonlight sleeps upon this bank!
    Here will we sit, and let the sounds of music
    Creep to our ears; soft stillness and the night
    Become the touches of sweet harmony.
    Sit, Jessica: Look, how the floor of heaven
    Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold;
    There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
    But in his motion like an angel sings,
    Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims:
    Such harmony is in immortal souls;
    But, whilst this muddy vesture of decay
    Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it.--
    Come, ho, and wake Diana with a hymn;
    With sweetest touches pierce your mistress' ear,
    And draw her home with music.'

Is not that a gentle speech? And so shall you speak to your bride,
sweetheart, in the years to come, when you have wooed her and won her.
And then you will tell her that if she loves you not--ay, and if she
loves you not dearly and well--then is she not like one that you knew
long ago, and that was your cousin, and her name was Judith Shakespeare.
Come, sweetheart," said she, and she rose from the stile and took his
hand in hers. "Shall I draw thee home? But not with sweet music, for I
have not Susan's voice. I would I had, for thy sake."

"You have the prettiest voice in the whole world, Cousin Judith," said

And so they walked on and into the town, in silence mostly. The world
had grown more solemn now: here and there in the lilac-gray deeps
overhead a small silver point began to appear. And sure he was that
whatever might happen to him in the years to come, no sweetheart or any
other would ever crush out from his affection or from his memory this
sweet cousin of his; for him she would always be the one woman, strange
and mystical and kind; there never would be any touch like the touch of
her hand, so gentle was it as it rested on his hair; and there never
would be anything more wonderful and gracious to look forward to than
the old and familiar sitting in the church pew by Judith's side, with
the breathless fascination of knowing that she was so near, and the
thrill of hearing her join (rather timidly, for she was not proud of her
voice) in the singing of the choir.



"That be so as I tell ye, zur," said Matthew gardener, as he slowly
sharpened a long knife on the hone that he held in his hand; "it all
cometh of the pampering of queasy stomachs nowadays that cannot hold
honest food. There be no such folk now as there wur in former days, when
men wur hardy, and long-lived, and healthy; and why, zur?--why, but that
they wur content wi' plain dishes of pulse or herbs, and for the most
worshipful no more than a dish of broth and a piece of good wholesome
beef withal. But nowadays, Lord! Lord!--dish after dish, with each his
several sauce; and this from Portugal and that from France, so that
gluttony shall have its swing, and never a penny be kept for the poor.
Nay, I tell ye, zur, rich and poor alike wur stronger and healthier when
there wur no such waste in the land; when a man would wear his frieze
coat and hosen of the color of the sheep that bore them; and have his
shirt of honest hemp or flax, and could sleep well with his head on a
block of wood and a sheep-skin thrown o'er it. But nowadays must he have
his shirt of fine lawn and needle-work; ay, and his soft pillow to lie
on, so that his lily-white body shall come to no scratching; nor will he
drink any longer small drink, no, nor water, but heavy ales and rich
wines; and all goeth to the belly, and naught to his poorer neighbor.
And what cometh of this but tender stomachs, and riot, and waste?--and
lucky if Bocardo be not at the end of it all."

As it chanced on this fine morning, Judith's father had strolled along
to look at some trained apple-trees at the further end of the garden,
and finding goodman Matthew there, and having a mind for idleness, had
sat down on a bench to hear what news of the condition of the land
Matthew might have to lay before him.

"Nay, but, good Matthew," said he, "if these luxuries work such
mischief, 'tis the better surely that the poor have none of them. They,
at least, cannot have their stomachs ruined with sauces and condiments."

"Lord bless ye, zur," said the ancient, with a wise smile, "'tis not in
one way, but in all ways, that the mischief is done; for the poorest,
seeing such waste and gluttony everywhere abroad, have no continence of
their means, but will spend their last penny on any foolishness. Lord!
Lord! they be such poor simple creatures! they that have scarce a rag to
their backs will crowd at the mops and fairs, and spend their money--on
what? Why, you must ha' witnessed it, zur--the poor fools!--emptying
their pouches to see a woman walking on a rope, or a tumbler joining his
hands to his heels, or a hen with two heads. The poor simple
creatures!--and yet I warrant me they be none so poor but that the
rascal doctor can make his money out o' them: 'tis a foine way o' making
a fortune that, going vagrom about the country with his draughts and
pills--not honest medicines that a body might make out o' wholesome
herbs, but nauseous stinking stuff that robs a man of his breath in the
very swallowing of it. And the almanac-makers, too--marry, that, now, is
another thriving trade!--the searching of stars, and the prophesying of
dry or wet weather! Weather? what know they of the weather, the
town-bred rogues, that lie and cheat to get at the poor country folks'
money? God 'a mercy, a whip to their shoulders would teach them more o'
the weather than ever they are like to get out of the stars! And yet the
poor fools o' countrymen--that scarce know a B from a battle-door--will
sit o' nights puzzling their brains o'er the signs o' the heavens; and
no matter what any man with eyes can see for himself--ay, and fifty
times surer, as I take it--they will prophesy you a dry month or a wet
month, because the almanac saith so; and they will swear to you that
Taurus--that is a lion--and the virgin scales have come together,
therefore there must be a blight on the pear-trees! Heard you ever the
like, zur?--that a man in Lunnon, knowing as much about husbandry and
farm-work as a cat knows about quoit-throwing, is to tell me the weather
down here in Warwickshire? God help us, they be poor weak creatures that
think so; I'd liefer look at the cover of a penny ballad, if I wanted to
know when there was to be frost o' nights."

At this juncture the old man grinned, as if some secret joke were
tickling his fancy.

"Why, zur," said he, looking up from the hone, "would you believe this,
zur--they be such fools that a rogue will sell them a barren cow for a
milch cow if he but put a strange calf to her. 'Tis done, zur--'tis
done, I assure ye."

"In truth, a scurvy trick!" Judith's father said. He was idly drawing
figures on the ground with a bit of stick he had got hold of. Perhaps he
was not listening attentively; but at all events he encouraged Matthew
to talk. "But surely with years comes wisdom. The most foolish are not
caught twice with such a trick."

"What of that, zur?" answered Matthew. "There be plenty of other fools
in the land to make the trade of roguery thrive. 'Tis true that a man
may learn by his own experience; but what if he hath a son that be
growing up a bigger fool than himself? And that's where 'tis nowadays,
zur; there be no waiting and prudence; but every saucy boy must match on
to his maid, and marry her ere they have a roof to put over their heads.
'Tis a fine beginning, surely! No waiting, no prudence--as the rich are
wasteful and careless, so are the poor heedless of the morrow; and the
boy and the wench they must have their cottage at the lane end, run up
of elder poles, and forthwith begin the begetting of beggars to swarm
over the land. A rare beginning! Body o' me, do they think they can live
on nettles and grass, like Nebuchadnezzar?"

And so the old man continued to rail and grumble and bemoan, sometimes
with a saturnine grin of satisfaction at his own wit coming over his
face; and Judith's father did not seek to controvert; he listened, and
drew figures on the ground, and merely put in a word now and again. It
was a pleasant morning--fresh, and clear, and sunny; and this town of
Stratford was a quiet place at that hour, with the children all at
school. Sometimes Judith's father laughed; but he did not argue; and
goodman Matthew, having it all his own way, was more than ever convinced
not only that he was the one wise man among a generation of fools, but
also that he was the only representative and upholder of the Spartan
virtues that had characterized his forefathers. It is true that on more
than one occasion he had been found somewhat overcome with ale; but
this, when he had recovered from his temporary confusion, he declared
was entirely due to the rascal brewers of those degenerate days--and
especially of Warwickshire--who put all manner of abominations into
their huff-cap, so that an honest Worcestershire stomach might easily be
caught napping, and take no shame.

And meanwhile what had been happening in another part of the garden? As
it chanced, Judith had been sent by her mother to carry to the
summer-house a cup of wine and some thin cakes; and in doing so she of
course saw that both her father and goodman Matthew were at the further
end of the garden, and apparently settled there for the time being. The
opportunity was too good to be lost. She swiftly went back to the house,
secured the portion of the play that was secreted there, and as quickly
coming out again, exchanged it for an equal number of new sheets. It was
all the work of a couple of minutes; and in another second she was in
her own room, ready to put the precious prize into her little cupboard
of boxes. And yet she could not forbear turning over the sheets, and
examining them curiously, and she was saying to herself: "You cruel
writing, to have such secrets, and refuse to give them up! If it were
pictures, now, I could make out something with a guess; but all these
little marks, so much alike, what can one make of them?--all alike--with
here and there a curling, as if my father had been amusing himself--and
all so plain and even, too, with never a blot: marry, I marvel he should
make the other copy, unless with the intent to alter as he writes. And
those words with the big letters at the beginning--these be the people's
names--Ferdinand, and sweet Miranda, and the Duke, and the ill beast
that would harm them all. Why, in Heaven's mercy, was I so fractious? I
might even now be learning all the story--here by myself--the only one
in the land: I might all by myself know the story that will set the
London folk agog in the coming winter. And what a prize were this, now,
for Master Ben Jonson! Could one but go to him and say, 'Good sir, here
be something better than your masques and mummeries, your Greeks and
clouds and long speeches: put your name to it, good sir--nay, my father
hath abundant store of such matter, and we in Warwickshire are no
niggards--put your name to it, good sir, and you will get the court
ladies to say you have risen a step on the ladder, else have they but a
strange judgment!' What would the goodman do? Beshrew me, Prudence never
told me the name of the play! But let us call it _The Magic Island_.
_The Magic Island, by Master Benjamin Jonson._ What would the wits say?"

But here she heard some noise on the stairs; so she quickly hid away
the treasure in the little drawer, and locked it up safe there until she
should have the chance of asking Prudence to read it to her.

That did not happen until nearly nightfall; for Prudence had been away
all day helping to put the house straight of a poor woman that was ill
and in bed. Moreover, she had been sewing a good deal at the children's
clothes and her eyes looked tired--or perhaps it was the wan light that
yet lingered in the sky that gave her that expression, the candles not
yet being lit. Judith regarded her, and took her hand tenderly, and made
her sit down.

"Sweet mouse," said she, "you are wearing yourself out in the service of
others; and if you take such little heed of yourself, you will yourself
fall ill. And now must I demand of you further labor. Or will it be a
refreshment for you after the fatigues of the day? See, I have brought
them all with me--the sprite Ariel, and the sweet prince, and Miranda;
but in good sooth I will gladly wait for another time if you are

"Nay, not so, Judith," she answered. "There is nothing I could like
better--but for one thing."

"What, then?"

"Mean you to show this also to the young gentleman that is at Bidford?"

"And wherefore not, good Prue? He hath seen so much of the story, 'twere
a pity he should not have the rest. And what a small kindness--the loan
but for an hour or two; and I need not even see him, for I have but to
leave it at my grandmother's cottage. And if you heard what he says of
it--and how grateful he is: marry, it all lies in this, sweet Prue, that
you have not seen him, else would you be willing enough to do him so
small a favor."

By this time Prudence had lit the candles; and presently they made their
way up-stairs to her own room.

"And surely," said Judith, as her gentle gossip was arranging the
manuscript, "the story will all end well, and merrily for the sweet
maiden, seeing how powerful her father is? Will he not compel all things
to her happiness--he that can raise storms, and that has messengers to
fly round the world for him?"

"And yet he spoke but harshly to the young man when last we saw them,"
Prudence said. "Why, what's this?"

She had run her eye down the first page; and now she began reading:

      "'_Enter_ FERDINAND _bearing a log_.

      _Ferdinand._ There be some sports are painful, and their labor
    Delight in them sets off. This my mean task
    Would be as heavy to me as odious, but
    The mistress which I serve quickens what's dead,
    And makes my labors pleasures. Oh, she is
    Ten times more gentle than her father's crabbed;
    And he's composed of harshness. I must remove
    Some thousands of these logs and pile them up,
    Upon a sore injunction. My sweet mistress
    Weeps when she sees me work; and says such baseness
    Had never like executor.'"

Judith's face had gradually fallen.

"Why, 'tis cruel," said she; "and 'tis cruel of my father to put such
pain on the sweet prince, that is so gentle, and so unfortunate withal."

But Prudence continued the reading:

      "'_Enter_ MIRANDA.

      _Miranda._            Alas, now, pray you,
    Work not so hard: I would the lightning had
    Burnt up those logs, that you are enjoined to pile!
    Pray, set it down and rest you; when this burns,
    'Twill weep for having wearied you. My father
    Is hard at study; pray, now, rest yourself;
    He's safe for these three hours.

      _Ferdinand._                 O most dear mistress,
    The sun will set before I shall discharge
    What I must strive to do.

      _Miranda._                If you'll sit down,
    I'll bear your logs the while: pray give me that--
    I'll carry it to the pile.'"

At this point Judith's eyes grew proud and grateful (as though Miranda
had done some brave thing), but she did not speak.

      "'_Ferdinand._          No, precious creature:
    I had rather crack my sinews, break my back,
    Than you should such dishonor undergo,
    While I sit lazy by.

      _Miranda._          You look wearily.

      _Ferdinand._ No, noble mistress; 'tis fresh morning with me,
    When you are by at night. I do beseech you
    (Chiefly that I may set it in my prayers),
    What is your name?

      _Miranda._    Miranda.--O my father,
    I have broke your hest to say so!

      _Ferdinand._               Admired Miranda!
    Indeed, the top of admiration; worth
    What's dearest to the world! Full many a lady
    I have eyed with best regard; and many a time
    The harmony of their tongues hath into bondage
    Brought my too diligent ear; for several virtues
    Have I liked several women; never any
      With so full soul but some defect in her
    Did quarrel with the noblest grace she owed,
    And put it to the foil. But you, O you,
    So perfect and so peerless, are created
    Of every creature's best!

      _Miranda._        I do not know
    One of my sex: no woman's face remember,
    Save, from my glass, mine own; nor have I seen
    More that I may call men than you, good friend,
    And my dear father; how features are abroad,
    I am skill-less of; but, by my modesty
    (The jewel in my dower), I would not wish
    Any companion in the world but you;
    Nor can imagination form a shape,
    Besides yourself, to like of: But I prattle
    Something too wildly, and my father's precepts
    I therein do forget.'"

"Nay, is she not fair and modest!" Judith exclaimed--but apart; and, as
the reading proceeded, she began to think of how Master Leofric Hope
would regard this maiden. Would he not judge her to be right gentle, and
timid, and yet womanly withal, and frank in her confiding? And
he--supposing that he were the young prince--what would he think of such
a one? Was it too submissive that she should offer to carry the logs?
Ought she to so openly confess that she would fain have him to be her
companion? And then, as Judith was thus considering, this was what she
heard, in Prudence's gentle voice:

      "'_Miranda._                    Do you love me?

      _Ferdinand._ O heaven, O earth, bear witness to this sound,
    And crown what I profess with kind event,
    If I speak true; if hollowly, invert
    What best is boded me, to mischief! I,
    Beyond all limit of what else i' the world,
    Do love, prize, honor you.

      _Miranda._         I am a fool
    To weep at what I am glad of.

      _Ferdinand._                    Wherefore weep you?

      _Miranda._ At mine unworthiness, that dare not offer
    What I desire to give; and much less take
    What I shall die to want: But this is trifling;
    And all the more it seeks to hide itself,
    The bigger bulk it shows. Hence, bashful cunning!
    And prompt me, plain and holy innocence!
    I am your wife, if you will marry me;
    If not, I'll die your maid; to be your fellow
    You may deny me; but I'll be your servant,
    Whether you will or no.

      _Ferdinand._       My mistress, dearest;
    And I thus humble ever.

      _Miranda._         My husband, then?

      _Ferdinand._ Ay, with a heart as willing
    As bondage e'er of freedom; here's my hand.

      _Miranda._ And mine, with my heart in't; and now farewell,
    Till half an hour hence.

      _Ferdinand._ A thousand thousand!'"

She clapped her hands and laughed, in delight and triumph.

"Why, sure her father will relent," she cried.

"But, Judith, Judith, stay," Prudence said, quickly, and with scarce
less gladness. "'Tis so set down; for this is what her father says:

          'So glad of this as they I cannot be,
    Who are surprised withal; but by rejoicing
    At nothing can be more.'

Nay, I take it he will soon explain to us why he was so harsh with the
young prince--perchance to try his constancy?"

Well, after that the reading went on as far as the sheets that Judith
had brought; but ever her mind was returning to the scene between the
two lovers, and speculating as to how Leofric Hope would look upon it.
She had no resentment against Ben Jonson now; her heart was full of
assurance and triumph, and was therefore generous. Her only vexation was
that the night must intervene before there could be a chance of the
young London gentleman calling at the cottage; and she looked forward to
the possibility of seeing him some time or other with the determination
to be more demure than ever. She would not expect him to praise this
play. Perchance 'twas good enough for simple Warwickshire folk; but the
London wits might consider it of the vulgar kind? And she laughed to
herself at thinking how awkward his protests would be if she ventured to
hint anything in that direction.

Prudence put the sheets carefully together again.

"Judith, Judith," she said, with a quiet smile, "you lead me far
astray. I ought to find such things wicked and horrible to the ear; but
perchance 'tis because I know your father, and see him from day to day,
that I find them innocent enough. They seem to rest the mind when one is

"Beware of them, good Prue; they are the devil himself come in the guise
of an angel to snatch thee away. Nay, but, sweetheart, why should you be

"There is Martha Hodgson," said she, simply, "and her children, nigh to
starving; and I cannot ask Julius for more----"

Judith's purse was out in an instant.

"Why," said she, "my father did not use half of what I gave him for the
knife he bought at Warwick--marry, I guess he paid for it mostly
himself; but what there is here you shall have."

And she emptied the contents on to the table, and pushed them over to
her friend.

"You do not grudge it, Judith?" said Prudence. "Nay, I will not ask thee
that. Nor can I refuse it either, for the children are in sore want. But
why should you not give it to them yourself, Judith?"

"Why?" said Judith, regarding the gentle face with kindly eyes. "Shall I
tell thee why, sweetheart? 'Tis but this: that if I were in need, and
help to be given me, I would value it thrice as much if it came from
your hand. There is a way of doing such things, and you have it; that is

"I hear Julius is come in," Prudence said, as she took up the two
candles. "Will you go in and speak with him?"

There was some strange hesitation in her manner, and she did not go to
the door. She glanced at Judith somewhat timidly. Then she set the
candles down again.

"Judith," said she, "your pity is quick, and you are generous and kind;
I would you could find it in your heart to extend your kindness."

"How now, good cousin?" Judith said, in amazement. "What's this?"

Prudence glanced at her again, somewhat uneasily, and obviously in great

"You will not take it ill, dear Judith?"

"By my life, I will not! Not from you, dear heart, whatever it be. But
what is the dreadful secret?"

"Tom Quiney has spoken to me," she said, diffidently.

Judith eagerly caught both her hands.

"And you! What said you? 'Tis all settled, then!" she exclaimed, almost

"It is as I imagined, Judith," said Prudence, calmly--and she withdrew
her hands, with a touch of maidenly pride, perhaps, from what she could
not but imagine to be a kind of felicitation. "He hath no fault to find
with the country. If he goes away to those lands beyond seas, 'tis
merely because you will say no word to hold him back."

"I!" said Judith, impatiently; and then she checked herself. "But you,
sweetheart, what said he to you?"

Prudence's cheeks flushed red.

"He would have me intercede for him," she said, timidly.

"Intercede? with whom?"

"Why, you know, Judith; with whom but yourself? Nay, but be
patient--have some kindness. The young man opened his heart to me; and I
know he is in trouble. 'Twas last night as we were coming home from the
lecture; and he would have me wait till he left a message at his door,
so that thus we fell behind; and then he told me why it was that
Stratford had grown distasteful to him, and not to be borne, and why he
was going away. How could I help saying that that would grieve
you?--sure I am you cannot but be sorry to think of the young man
banishing himself from his own people. And he said that I was your
nearest friend; and would I speak for him? And I answered that I was all
unused to such matters, but that if any pleading of mine would influence
you I would right gladly do him that service; and so I would, dear
Judith; for how can you bear to think of the youth going away with these
godless men, and perchance never to return to his own land, when a word
from you would restrain him?"

Judith took both her hands again, and looked with a kindly smile into
the timid, pleading eyes.

"And 'tis you, sweet mouse, that come to me with such a prayer? Was
there ever so kind a heart? But that is you ever and always--never a
thought for yourself, everything for others. And so he had the cruelty
to ask you--you--to bring this message?"

"Judith," said the other, with the color coming into her face again,
"you force me to speak against my will. Nay, how can I hide from myself,
dear friend, that you have plans and wishes--perchance suspicions--with
regard to me? And if what I guess be true--if that is your
meaning--indeed 'tis all built on a wrong foundation: believe me,
Judith, it is so. I would have you assured of it, sweetheart. You know
that I like not speaking of such matters; 'tis not seemly and becoming
to a maiden; and fain would I have my mind occupied with far other
things; but, Judith, this time I must speak plain; and I would have you
put away from you all such intentions and surmises--dear heart, you do
me wrong!"

"In good sooth, am I all mistaken?" Judith said, glancing keenly at her.

"Do you doubt my word, Judith?" said she.

"And yet," her friend said, as if to herself, and musingly, "there were
several occasions: there was the fortune-teller at Hampton Lucy that
coupled you, and Quiney seemed right merry withal; and then again, when
he would have us play kiss-in-the-ring on the evening after Mary
Sadler's marriage, and I forbade it chiefly for your sake, sweet mouse,
then methought you seemed none overpleased with my interference----"

But here she happened to look at Prudence, and she could not fail to see
that the whole subject was infinitely distressing to her. There was a
proud, hurt expression on the gentle face, and a red spot burning in
each cheek. So Judith took hold of her and kissed her.

"Once and forever, dearest heart," said she, "I banish all such
thoughts. And I will make no more plans for thee, nor suspect thee, but
let thee go in thine own way, in the paths of charity and goodness. But
I mean not to give up thy friendship, sweet Prue; if I cannot walk in
the same path, at least I may stretch a hand over to thee; and if I but
keep so near so true a saint, marry, I shall not go so far wrong."

She took up one of the candles.

"Shall we go down and see Julius?" said she.

"But Tom Quiney, Judith--what shall I say?" Prudence asked, anxiously.

"Why, say nothing, sweetheart," was the immediate answer. "'Twas a shame
to burden you with such a task. When he chooses he can at any moment
have speech of me, if his worship be not too proud or too suspicious. In
Stratford we can all of us speak the English tongue, I hope."

"But, Judith," said the other, slowly and wistfully, "twenty years is a
long space for one to be away from his native land."

"Marry is it, sweet mouse," Judith answered, as she opened the door and
proceeded to go down the narrow wooden steps. "'Tis a long space indeed,
and at the end of it many a thing that seemeth of great import and
consequence now will be no better than an old tale, idle and half



It was somewhat hard on little Bess Hall that her aunt Judith was
determined she should grow up as fearless as she herself was, and had,
indeed, charged herself with this branch of her niece's education. The
child, it is true, was not more timid than others of her age, and could
face with fair equanimity beggars, school-boys, cows, geese, and other
dangerous creatures; while as for ghosts, goblins, and similar nocturnal
terrors, Judith had settled all that side of the question by informing
the maids of both families, in the plainest language, that any one of
them found even mentioning such things to this niece of hers would be
instantaneously and without ceremony shot forth from the house. But
beyond and above all this Judith expected too much, and would flout and
scold when Bess Hall declined to perform the impossible, and would
threaten to go away and get a small boy out of the school to become her
playmate in future. At this moment, for example, she was standing at the
foot of the staircase in Dr. Hall's house. She had come round to carry
off her niece for the day, and she had dressed her up like a small
queen, and now she would have her descend the wide and handsome
staircase in noble state and unaided. Bess Hall, who had no ambition to
play the part of a queen, but had, on the other hand, a wholesome and
instinctive fear of breaking her neck, now stood on the landing,
helpless amid all her finery, and looking down at her aunt in a
beseeching sort of way.

"I shall tumble down, Aunt Judith; I know I shall," said she, and budge
she would not.

"Tumble down, little stupid! Why, what should make you tumble down? Are
you going forever to be a baby? Any baby can crawl down-stairs by
holding on to the balusters."

"I know I shall tumble down, Aunt Judith--and then I shall cry."

But even this threat was of no avail.

"Come along, little goose; 'tis easy enough when you try it. Do you
think I have dressed you up as a grown woman to see you crawl like a
baby? A fine woman--you! Come along, I say!"

But this lesson, happily for the half-frightened pupil, was abruptly
brought to an end. Judith was standing with her face to the staircase,
and her back to the central hall and the outer door, so that she could
not see any one entering, and indeed the first intimation she had of the
approach of a stranger was a voice behind her:

"Be gentle with the child, Judith."

And then she knew that she was caught. For some little time back she had
very cleverly managed to evade the good parson, or at least to secure
the safety of company when she saw him approach. But this time she was
as helpless as little Bess herself. Dr. Hall was away from home;
Judith's sister was ill of a cold, and in bed; there was no one in the
house, besides the servants, but herself. The only thing she could do
was to go up to the landing, swing her niece on to her shoulder, and say
to Master Walter that they were going round to New Place, for that Susan
was ill in bed, and unable to look after the child.

"I will walk with you as far," said he, calmly, and, indeed, as if it
were rather an act of condescension on his part.

She set out with no good-will. She expected that he would argue, and she
had an uncomfortable suspicion that he would get the best of it. And if
she had once or twice rather wildly thought that in order to get rid of
all perplexities, and in order to please all the people around her, she
would in the end allow Master Walter Blaise to win her over into
becoming his wife, still she felt that the time was not yet. She would
have the choosing of it for herself. And why should she be driven into a
corner prematurely? Why be made to confess that her brain could not save
her? She wanted peace. She wanted to play with Bess Hall, or to walk
through the meadows with Willie Hart, teaching him what to think of
England. She did not want to be confronted with clear, cold eyes, and
arguments like steel, and the awful prospect of having to labor in the
vineyard through the long, long, gray, and distant years. She grew to
think it was scarcely fair of her father to hand her over. He at least
might have been on her side. But he seemed as willing as any that she
should go away among the saints, and forsake forever (as it seemed to
her) the beautiful, free and clear-colored life that she had been well
content to live.

And then, all of a sudden, it flashed upon her mind that she was a
player's daughter, and a kind of flame went to her face.

"I pray you, good Master Blaise," said she, with a lofty and gracious
courtesy, "bethink you, ere you give us your company through the town."

"What mean you, Judith?" said he, in some amazement.

"Do you forget, then, that I am the daughter of a player?--and this his
granddaughter?" said she.

"In truth, I know not what you mean, Judith," he exclaimed.

"Why," said she, "may not the good people who are the saints of the
earth wonder to see you consort with such as we?--or, rather, with one
such as I, who am impenitent, and take no shame that my father is a
player--nay, God's my witness, I am wicked enough to be proud of it, and
I care not who knows it, and they that hope to have me change my
thoughts on that matter will have no lack of waiting."

Well, it was a fair challenge; and he answered it frankly, and with such
a reasonableness and charity of speech that, despite herself, she could
not but admit that she was pleased, and also, perhaps, just a little bit
grateful. He would not set up to be any man's judge, he said; nor was he
a Pharisee; the Master that he served was no respecter of persons--He
had welcomed all when He was upon the earth--and it behooved His
followers to beware of pride and the setting up of distinctions; if
there was any house in the town that earned the respect of all, it was
New Place; he could only speak of her father as he found him, here, in
his own family, among his own friends--and what that was all men knew;
and so forth. He spoke well, and modestly; and Judith was so pleased to
hear what he said of her father that she forgot to ask whether all this
was quite consistent with his usual denunciations of plays and players;
his dire prophecy as to the fate of those who were not of the saints,
and his sharp dividing and shutting off of these. He did not persecute
her at all. There was no argument. What he was mostly anxious about was
that she should not tire herself with carrying Bess Hall on her

"Nay, good sir," said she, quite pleasantly, "'tis a trick my father
taught me; and the child is but a feather-weight."

He looked at her--so handsome and buxom, and full of life and courage;
her eyes lustrous, the rose-leaf tint of health in her cheeks; and
always at the corner of her mouth what could only be called a
disposition to smile, as if the world suited her fairly well, and that
she was ready at any moment to laugh her thanks.

"There be many, Judith," said he, "who might envy you your health and
good spirits."

"When I lose them, 'twill be time enough to lament them," said she,

"The hour that is passing seems all in all to you; and who can wonder at
it?" he continued. "Pray Heaven your carelessness of the morrow have
reason in it! But all are not so minded. There be strange tidings in the

"Indeed, sir; and to what end?" said she.

"I know not whether these rumors have reached your house," he said, "but
never at any time I have read of have men's minds been so
disturbed--with a restlessness and apprehension of something being about
to happen. And what marvel! The strange things that have been seen and
heard of throughout the world of late--meteors, and earthquakes, and
visions of armies fighting in the heavens. Even so was Armageddon to be
foreshadowed. Nay, I will be honest with you, Judith, and say that it is
not clear to my own mind that the great day of the Lord is at hand; but
many think so; and one man's reading of the Book of Revelation is but a
small matter to set against so wide a belief. Heard you not of the
vision that came to the young girl at Chipping Camden last Monday?"

"Indeed, no, good sir."

"I marvel that Prudence has not heard of it, for all men are speaking of
it. 'Twas in this way, as I hear. The maiden is one of rare piety and
grace, given to fasting, and nightly vigils, and searching of the heart.
'Twas on the night of Sunday last--or perchance toward Monday
morning--that she was awakened out of her sleep by finding her room full
of light; and looking out of the window she beheld in the darkness a
figure of resplendent radiance--shining like the sun, as she said; only
clear white, and shedding rays around; and the figure approached the
window, and regarded her; and she dropped on her knees in wonder and
fear, and bowed her head and worshipped. And as she did so, she heard a
voice say to her: 'Watch and pray: Behold, I come quickly.' And she
durst not raise her head, as she says, being overcome with fear and joy.
But the light slowly faded from the room; and when at last she rose she
saw something afar off in the sky, that was now grown dark again. And
ever since she has been trembling with the excitement of it, and will
take no food; but from time to time she cries in a loud voice, 'Lord
Jesus, come quickly! Lord Jesus, come quickly!' Many have gone to see
her, as I hear, and from all parts of the country; but she heeds them
not; she is intent with her prayers; and her eyes, the people say, look
as if they had been dazzled with a great light, and are dazed and
strange. Nay, 'tis but one of many things that are murmured abroad at
present; for there have been signs in the heavens seen in sundry places,
and visions, and men's minds grow anxious."

"And what think you yourself, good sir? You are one that should know."

"I?" said he. "Nay, I am far too humble a worker to take upon myself the
saying ay or no at such a time; I can but watch and pray and wait. But
is it not strange to think that we here at this moment, walking along
this street in Stratford, might within some measurable space--say, a
year, or half a dozen years or so--that we might be walking by the pure
river of water that John saw flowing from the throne of God and of the
Lamb? Do you not remember how the early Christians, with such a
possibility before their eyes, drew nearer to each other, as it were,
and rejoiced together, parting with all their possessions, and living in
common, so that the poorest were even as the rich? 'Twas no terror that
overtook them, but a happiness; and they drew themselves apart from the
world, and lived in their own community, praying with each other, and
aiding each other. 'All that believed,' the Bible tells us, 'were in one
place, and had all things common. And they sold their possessions and
goods, and parted them to all men, as every one had need. And they
continued daily in the Temple, and, breaking bread at home, did eat
their meat together with gladness and singleness of heart, praising God,
and had favor with all the people; and the Lord added to the Church from
day to day such as should be saved.' Such a state of spiritual
brotherhood and exaltation may come among us once more; methinks I see
the symptoms of its approach even now. Blessed are they who will be in
that communion with a pure soul and a humble mind, for the Lord will be
with them as their guide, though the waters should arise and overflow,
or fire consume the earth."

"Yes, but, good sir," said she, "when the early Christians you speak of
thought the world was near to an end they were mistaken. And these, now,
of our day----"

"Whatever is prophesied must come to pass," said he, "or soon or late,
though it is possible for our poor human judgment to err as to the time.
But surely we ought to be prepared; and what preparation, think you, is
sufficient for so great and awful a change? Joy there may be in the
trivial things of this world--in the vanities of the hour, that pass
away and are forgotten; but what are these things to those whose heart
is set on the New Jerusalem--the shining city? The voice that John heard
proclaimed no lie: 'twas the voice of the Lord of heaven and earth--a
promise to them that wait and watch for his coming. 'And God shall wipe
away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death,
neither sorrow, neither crying, neither shall there be any more pain,
for the first things are passed.... And there shall be no more curse,
but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it, and his servants
shall serve him. And they shall see his face, and his name shall be in
their foreheads. And there shall be no night there; and they need no
candle, neither light of the sun, for the Lord God giveth them light,
and they shall reign for evermore.'"

She sighed.

"'Tis too wonderful a thing for poor sinful creatures to expect," she

But by this time they were at the house, and he could not say anything
further to her; indeed, when he proposed that she should come into the
sitting-room, and that he would read to her a description of the glories
of the New Jerusalem, out of the Book of Revelation, she excused herself
by saying that she must carry Bess Hall to see her father. So he went in
and sat down, waiting for Judith's mother to be sent for; while aunt and
niece went out and through the back yard to the garden.

"Bess," said Judith, on the way, "heardst thou aught of a white figure?"

"No, Judith," said the child, who had been engaged all the way in
examining the prettinesses of her aunt's velvet cap, and ruff, and what

"That is well," said she.

When she got into the garden, she could see that good man Matthew eyed
their approach with little favor--for Bess Hall, when her grandfather
had charge of her, was allowed to tear flowers, and walk over beds, or
do anything she chose; but Judith did not mind that much. On the other
hand, she would not go deliberately and disturb her father. She would
give him his choice--to come forth or not as he pleased. And so, quite
noiselessly, and at a little distance off, she passed the summer-house.
There was no sign. Accordingly, she went on idly to the further end of
the garden, and would doubtless have remained there (rather than return
within-doors) amusing the child somehow, but that the next minute her
father appeared.

"Come hither, Bess! Come hither, wench!" he called.

Nay, he came to meet them; and as he lifted the child down from Judith's
shoulder, something--perhaps it was the touch of the sunlight on the
soft brown of her short curls--seemed to attract his notice.

"Why, wench," said he to Judith, "methinks your hair grows prettier
every day. And yet you keep it overshort--yes, 'tis overshort--would you
have them think you a boy?"

"I would I were a man," said she, glancing at him rather timidly.

"How, then? What, now?"

"For then," said she, "might I help you in your work, so please you,

He laughed, and said:

"My work? What know you of that, wench?"

The blood rushed to her face.

"Nay, sir, I but meant the work of the fields--in going about with the
bailiff and the like. The maids say you were abroad at five this

"Well, is't not the pleasantest time of the day in this hot weather?" he
said--and he seemed amused by her interference.

"But why should you give yourself so many cares, good father?" she made
bold to say (for she had been meditating the saying of it for many a day
back). "You that have great fame, and land, and wealth. We would fain
see you rest a little more, father; and 'tis all the harder to us that
we can give you no help, being but women-folk."

There was something in the tone of her voice--or perhaps in her
eyes--that conveyed more than her words. He put his hand on her head.

"You are a good lass," said he. "And listen. You can do something for me
that is of far more value to me than any help in any kind of work: nay,
I tell thee 'tis of greater value to me than all of my work; and 'tis
this: keep you a merry heart, wench--let me see your face right merry
and cheerful as you go about--that is what you can do for me; I would
have you ever as you are now, as bright and glad as a summer day."

"'Tis an easy task, sir, so long as you are content to be pleased with
me," she managed to answer; and then little Bess Hall--who could not
understand why she should have been so long left unnoticed--began to
scramble up his knees, and was at last transferred to his arms.

Judith's heart was beating somewhat quickly--with a kind of pride and
gladness that was very near bringing tears to her eyes; but, of course,
that was out of the question, seeing that he had enjoined her to be
cheerful. And so she forced herself to say, with an odd kind of smile,

"I pray you, sir, may I remain with you for a space--if Bess and I
trouble you not?"

"Surely," said he, regarding her; "but what is it, then?"

"Why," said she, pulling herself together, "good Master Blaise is
within-doors, and his last belief is enough to frighten a poor
maiden--let alone this small child. He says the world is nigh unto its

"Nay, I have heard of some such talk being abroad," said he, "among the
country folk. But why should that frighten thee? Even were it true, we
can make it nor better nor worse."

"Only this, father," said she, and she looked at him with the large,
clear-shining gray eyes no longer near to tears, but rather suggesting
some dark mystery of humor, "that if the end of the world be so nigh at
hand, 'twould be an idle thing for the good parson to think of taking
him a wife."

"I ask for no secrets, wench," her father said, as he sat little Bess
Hall on the branch of an apple-tree.

"Nay, sir, he but said that as many were of opinion that something
dreadful was about to happen, we should all of us draw nearer together.
That is well, and to be understanded; but if the world be about to end
for all of us surely 'twere a strange thing that any of us should think
of taking husband or wife."

"I'll meddle not," her father said. "Go thine own ways. I have heard
thou hast led more than one honest lad in Stratford a madcap dance. Take
heed; take heed--as thy grandmother saith--lest thou outwear their

And then something--she could scarce tell what--came into her head: some
wild wish that he would remain always there at Stratford: would she not
right willingly discard all further thoughts of lovers or sweethearts if
only he would speak to her sometimes as he had just been speaking; and
approve of her hair; and perchance let her become somewhat more of a
companion to him? But she durst not venture to say so much. She only
said, very modestly and timidly,

"I am content to be as I am, sir, if you are content that I should bide
with you."

"Content?" said he, with a laugh that had no unkindness in it. "Content
that thou shouldst bide with us? Keep that pretty face of thine merry
and glad, good lass--and have no fear."



When she should get back from Master Leofric Hope the last portion of
the yet unnamed play, there remained (as she considered) but one thing
more--to show him the letter written by the King to her father, so that
when the skies should clear over the young gentleman's head, and he be
permitted to return among his friends and acquaintances, he might have
something else occasionally to talk of than Ben Jonson and his masques
and his favor at court. Nor had she any difficulty in procuring the
letter; for Prudence was distinctly of opinion that by right it belonged
to Judith, who had coveted it from the beginning. However, Judith only
now wanted the loan of it for a day or two, until, in her wanderings,
she might encounter Master Hope.

That opportunity soon arrived; for whether it was that the young
gentleman kept a sharp lookout for her, or whether she was able to make
a shrewd guess as to his probable whereabouts at certain hours of the
day, she had scarcely ever failed to meet him when she went over to
Shottery for the successive instalments of the play that he had left for
her there. On this occasion she had found the last of these awaiting her
at the cottage; and when she had put it into her velvet satchel, and
bade good-by to her grandmother, she set out for home with a pretty
clear foreknowledge that sooner or later the young gentleman would
appear. Was it not his duty?--to say what he thought of all this romance
that he had been allowed to see; and to thank her; and say farewell? For
she had a vague impression that she had done as much as could reasonably
be expected of her in the way of cheering the solitude of one in
misfortune: and she had gathered, moreover, that he was likely soon to
leave the neighborhood. But she would not have him go without seeing the
King's letter.

Well, when he stepped forth from behind some trees, she was not
surprised; and even the Don had grown accustomed to these sudden

"Give ye good-day, sweet lady," said he.

"And to you, sir," she said. "I thank you for your care in leaving me
these pages; I would not have had any harm come to them, even though my
father will in time throw them away."

"And my thanks to you, sweet Mistress Judith," said he--"how can I
express them?"--and therewith he entered upon such a eulogy of the story
he had just been reading as she was not likely to hear from any
Stratford-born acquaintance. Indeed, he spoke well, and with obvious
sincerity; and although she had intended to receive these praises with
indifference (as though the play were but a trifle that her father had
thrown off easily amid the pressure of other labors), she did not quite
succeed. There was a kind of triumph in her eyes; her face was glad and
proud; when he quoted a bit of one of Ariel's songs, she laughed

"He is a clever musician, that merry imp, is he not?" said she.

"I would I had such a magic-working spirit to serve me," said he,
looking at her. "One could shape one's own course then. 'Under the
blossom that hangs on the bough,' would be my motto; there would be no
going back to London or any other town. And what think you: might he
not find out for me some sweet Miranda?--not that I am worthy of such a
prize, or could do aught to deserve her, except in my duty and humble
service to her. The Miranda, I think, could be found," he said, glancing
timidly at her; "nay, I swear I know myself where to find just such a
beautiful and gentle maiden; but where is the Ariel that would charm her
heart and incline her to pity and kindness?"

"Here, sir," said she, quickly, "is the letter I said I would bring you,
that the King wrote to my father."

He did not look at the blue velvet satchel; he looked at her--perhaps to
see whether he had gone too far. But she did not show any signs of
confusion or resentment; at all events she pretended not to be
conscious; and, for one thing, her eyes were lowered, for the satchel
seemed for a second or so difficult to open. Then she brought forth the

"Perchance you can tell me the English of it, good sir?" said she. "'Tis
some time since Master Blaise read it for us, and I would hear it

"Nay, I fear my Latin will scarce go so far," said he--"'tis but little
practice in it I have had since my school-days; but I will try to make
out the sense of it."

She carefully opened the large folded sheet of paper, and handed it to
him. This was what he found before him:

     "JACOBUS D. G. Rex Anglorum et Scotorum poetæ nostro fideli et bene

     "Cum nuper apud Londinium commorati comoediam tuam nobis inductam
     spectâssemus, de manu viri probi Eugenii Collins fabulæ libro
     accepto, operam dedimus ut eam diligenter perlegeremus.
     Subtilissima illa quidem, multisque ingenii luminibus et artis,
     multis etiam animi oblectamentis, excogitata, nimis tamen
     accommodata ad cacchinationem movendam vulgi imperiti, politioris
     humanitatis expertis. Quod vero ad opera tua futura attinet,
     amicissime te admonemus ut multa commentatione et meditatione
     exemplaria verses antistitum illorum artis comoedicæ, Menandri
     scilicet Atheniensis et Plauti et Terentii Romani, qui minus vulgi
     plausum captabant quam vitiis tanquam flagellis castigandis
     studebant. Qui optimi erant arte et summa honestate et utilitate,
     qualem te etiam esse volumus; virtutum artium et exercitationum
     doctores, atque illustrium illorum a Deo ad populum regendum
     præpositorum adminicula. Quibus fac ne te minorem præstes; neque
     tibi nec familiaribus tuis unquam deerimus quin, quum fiat occasio,
     munere regali fungamur. Te interea Deus opt. max. feliciter

     "Datum ex regia nostra apud Greenwich X. Kal. Jun."

He began his translation easily:

     "'To our trusty and well-beloved poet, William Shakespeare: Health
     and greeting.'" But then he began to stammer. "'When formerly--when
     recently--tarrying in London--thy comedy--thy comedy'--nay, fair
     Mistress Judith, I beseech your pardon; I am grown more rusty than
     I thought, and would not destroy your patience. Perchance, now, you
     would extend your favor once more, and let me have the letter home
     with me, so that I might spell it out in school-boy fashion?"

She hesitated; but only for a second.

"Nay, good sir, I dare not. These sheets of the play were thrown aside,
and so far of little account; but this--if aught were to come amiss to
this letter, how should I regard myself? If my father value it but
slightly, there be others who think more of it; and--and they have
intrusted it to me; I would not have it go out of my own keeping, so
please you, and pardon me."

It was clear that she did not like to refuse this favor to so courteous
and grateful a young gentleman. However, her face instantly brightened.

"But I am in no hurry, good sir," said she. "Why should you not sit you
on the stile there, and take time to master the letter, while I gather
some wild flowers for my father? In truth, I am in no hurry; and I would
fain have you know what the King wrote."

"I would I were a school-boy again for five minutes," said he, with a
laugh; but he went obediently to the stile, and sat down, and proceeded
to pore over the contents of the letter.

And then she wandered off by herself (so as to leave him quite
undisturbed), and began to gather here and there a wild rose from the
hedge, or a piece of meadow-sweet from the bank beneath, or a bit of
yarrow from among the grass. It was a still, clear, quiet day, with some
rainy clouds in the sky; and beyond these, near to the horizon, broad
silver shafts of sunlight striking down on the woods and the distant
hills. It looked as if a kind of mid-day sleep had fallen over the
earth; there was scarce a sound; the birds were silent; and there was
not even enough wind to make a stirring through the wide fields of wheat
or in the elms. The nosegay grew apace, though she went about her work
idly--kneeling here and stretching a hand there; and always she kept
away from him, and would not even look in his direction; for she was
determined that he should have ample leisure to make out the sense of
the letter, of which she had but a vague recollection, only that she
knew it was complimentary.

Even when he rose and came toward her she pretended not to notice. She
would show him she was in no hurry. She was plucking the heads of red
clover, and sucking them to get at the honey; or she was adding a
buttercup or two to her nosegay; or she was carelessly humming to

    "O stay and hear; your true love's coming,
    That can sing both high and low."

"Well, now, Mistress Judith," said he, with an air of apology, "methinks
I have got at the meaning of it, however imperfectly; and your father
might well be proud of such a commendation from so high a source--the
King, as every one knows, being a learned man, and skilled in the arts.
And I have not heard that he has written to any other of the poets of
our day----"

"No, sir?" said she, quickly. "Not to Master Jonson?"

"Not that I am aware of, sweet lady," said he, "though he hath sometimes
messages to send, as you may suppose, by one coming from the court. And
I marvel not that your father should put store by this letter that
speaks well of his work----"

"Your pardon, good sir, but 'tis not so," said Judith, calmly.
"Doubtless if the King commend my father's writing, that showeth that
his Majesty is skilled and learned, as you say; and my father was no
doubt pleased enough--as who would not be?--by such a mark of honor; but
as for setting great value on it, I assure you he did not; nay, he gave
it to Julius Shawe. And will you read it, good sir?--I remember me there
was something in it about the ancients."

"'Tis but a rough guess that I can make," said he, regarding the paper.
"But it seems that the King had received at the hands of one Eugene
Collins the book of a comedy of your father's that had been presented
before his Majesty when he was recently in London. And very diligently,
he says, he has read through the same; and finds it right subtly
conceived, with many beauties and delights, and such ornaments as are to
be approved by an ingenious mind. It is true his Majesty hints that
there may be parts of the play more calculated than might be to move the
laughter of the vulgar; but you would not have a critic have nothing but
praise?--and the King's praise is high indeed. And then he goes on to
say that as regards your father's future work, he would in the most
friendly manner admonish him to study the great masters of the comic
art; that is, Menander the Athenian, and the Romans Plautus and
Terentius, who--who--what says the King?--less studied to capture the
applause of the vulgar than to lash the vices of the day as with whips.
And these he highly commends as being of great service to the state; and
would have your father be the like: teachers of virtue, and also props
and aids to those whom God hath placed to rule over the people. He would
have your father be among these public benefactors; and then he adds
that, when occasion serves, he will not fail to extend his royal favor
to your father and his associates; and so commends him to the protection
of God. Nay, 'tis a right friendly letter; there is none in the land
that would not be proud of it; 'tis not every day nor with every one
that King James would take such trouble and play the part of tutor."

He handed her the letter, and she proceeded to fold it up carefully
again and put it in her satchel. She said nothing, but she hoped that
these phrases of commendation would remain fixed in his mind when that
he was returned to London.

And then there was a moment of embarrassment--or at least of constraint.
He had never been so near the town with her before (for his praise of
her father's comedy, as they walked together, had taken some time), and
there before them were the orchards and mud walls, and, further off, the
spire of the church among the trees. She did not like to bid him go, and
he seemed loath to say farewell, he probably having some dim notion
that, now he had seen the end of the play and also this letter, there
might be some difficulty in finding an excuse for another meeting.

"When do you return to London?" said she, for the sake of saying
something. "Or may you return? I hope, good sir, your prospects are
showing brighter; it must be hard for one of your years to pass the time
in idleness."

"The time that I have spent in these parts," said he, "has been far more
pleasant and joyful to me than I could have imagined--you may easily
guess why, dear Mistress Judith. And now, when there is some prospect of
my being able to go, I like it not; so many sweet hours have been passed
here, the very fields and meadows around have acquired a charm----"

"Nay, but, good sir," said she, a little breathlessly, "at your time of
life you would not waste the days in idleness."

"In truth it has been a gracious idleness!" he exclaimed.

"At your time of life," she repeated, quickly, "why, to be shut up in a

"The Prince Ferdinand," said he, "though I would not compare myself with
him, found the time pass pleasantly and sweetly enough, as I reckon,
though he was shut up in a cave. But then there was the fair Miranda to
be his companion. There is no Ariel to work such a charm for me, else do
you think I could ever bring myself to leave so enchanting a

"Good sir," said she (in some anxiety to get away), "I may not ask the
reason of your being in hiding, though I wish you well, and would fain
hear there was no further occasion for it. And I trust there may be none
when next you come to Warwickshire, and that those of our household who
have a better right to speak for it than I, will have the chance of
entertaining you. And now I would bid you farewell."

"No, dear Judith!" he exclaimed, with a kind of entreaty in his voice.
"Not altogether? Why, look at the day!--would you have me say farewell
to you on such a day of gloom and cloud? Surely you will let me take
away a brighter picture of you, and Warwickshire, and our brief meetings
in these quiet spots--if go I must. In truth I know not what may happen
to me; I would speak plainer; but I am no free agent; I can but beg of
you to judge me charitably, if ever you hear aught of me----"

And here he stopped abruptly and paused, considering, and obviously
irresolute and perplexed.

"Why," said he at length, and almost to himself--"why should I go away
at all? I will carry logs--if needs be--or anything. Why should I go?"

She knew instantly what he meant; and knew, also, that it was high time
for her to escape from so perilous a situation.

"I pray you pardon me, good sir; but I must go. Come, Don."

"But one more meeting, sweet Mistress Judith," he pleaded, "on a fairer
day than this--you will grant as much?"

"I may not promise," said she; "but indeed I leave with you my good
wishes; and so, farewell!"

"God shield you, dearest lady," said he, bowing low; "you leave with me
also a memory of your kindness that will remain in my heart."

Well, there was no doubt that she felt very much relieved when she had
left him and was nearing the town; and yet she had a kind of pity for
him too, as she thought of his going away by himself to that lonely
farm: one so gentle, and so grateful for company, being shut up there on
this gloomy day. Whereas she was going back to a cheerful house;
Prudence was coming round to spend the afternoon with them, and help to
mark the new napery; and then in the evening the whole of them, her
father included, were going to sup at Dr. Hall's, who had purchased a
dishful of ancient coins in one of his peregrinations, and would have
them come and examine them. Perhaps, after all, that reference to
Miranda was not meant to apply to her. It was but natural he should
speak of Miranda, having just finished the play. And carrying logs: he
could not mean carrying logs for her father; that would be a foolish
jest. No, no; he would remain at the farm and spend the time as best he
could; and then, when this cloud blew over, he would return to London,
and carry with him (as she hoped) some discreet rumor of the new work of
her father's that he had praised so highly, and perchance some mention
of the compliments paid by the King; and if, in course of time, the
young gentleman should make his way back to Stratford again, and come to
see them at New Place, and if his pleasant manner and courtesy proved to
be quite irresistible, so that she had to allow the wizard's prophecy to
come true in spite of herself, why, then, it was the hand of fate, and
none of her doing, and she would have to accept her destiny with as good
a grace as might be.

As she was going into the town she met Tom Quincy. He was on the other
side of the roadway, and after one swift glance at her, he lowered his
eyes, and would have passed on without speaking. And then it suddenly
occurred to her that she would put her pride in her pocket. She knew
quite well that her maidenly dignity had been wounded by his suspicions,
and that she ought to let him go his own way if he chose. But, on the
other hand (and this she did not know), there was in her nature an odd
element of what might be called boyish generosity--of frankness and
common-sense and good comradeship. And these two had been very stanch
comrades in former days, each being in a curious manner the protector of
the other; for while she many a time came to his aid--being a trifle
older than he, and always ready with her quick feminine wit and
ingenuity when they were both of them likely to get into trouble--he, on
his side, was her shield and bold champion by reason of his superior
stature and his strength, and his terrible courage in face of bulls or
barking dogs and the like. For the moment she only thought of him as her
old companion; and she was a good-natured kind of creature, and frank
and boyish in her ways, and so she stepped across the road, though there
was some mud about.

"Why can't we be friends?" said she.

"You have enough of other friends," said he.

It was a rebuff; but still--she would keep down her girlish pride.

"I hope you are not going away from the country?" said she.

He did not meet her look; his eyes were fixed on the ground.

"What is there to keep me in it?" was his answer.

"Why, what is there to keep any of us in it?" she said. "Heaven's mercy,
if we were all to run away when we found something or another not quite
to our liking, what a fine thing that would be! Nay, I hope there is no
truth in it," she continued, looking at him, and not without some
memories of their escapades together when they were boy and girl.
"'Twould grieve many--indeed it would. I pray you think better of it. If
for no other, for my sake; we used to be better friends."

There were two figures now approaching.

"Oh, here come Widow Clemms and her daughter," she said; "a rare couple.
'Twill be meat and drink to them to carry back a story. No matter. Now,
fare you well; but pray think better of it; there be many that would
grieve if you went away."

He stole a look at her as she passed on: perhaps there was a trifle more
than usual of color in her radiant and sunny face, because of the
approach of the two women. It was a lingering kind of look that he sent
after her; and then he, too, turned and went on his way--cursing the



Master Leofric Hope, on leaving Judith, returned to the farm, but not to
the solitude that had awakened her commiseration. When he entered his
room, which was at the back of the house, and facing the southern
horizon (that alone showed some streaks of sunlight on this gloomy day),
he found a stranger there--and a stranger who had evidently some notion
of making himself comfortable, for he had opened the window, and was now
sitting on the sill, and had just begun to smoke his pipe. His hat, his
sword, and sword-belt he had flung on the table.

For a second the proper owner of the apartment knew not who this new
tenant might be--he being dark against the light; but the next second he
had recognized him, and that with no good grace.

"What the devil brings you here?" said he, sulkily.

"A hearty welcome, truly!" the other said, with much complacency. "After
all my vexation in finding thee out! A goodly welcome for an old friend!
But no matter, Jack--come, hast naught to offer one to drink? I have
ridden from Banbury this morning; and the plague take me if I had not
enough trouble ere I found the hare in her form. But 'tis snug--'tis
snug. The place likes me; though I thought by now you might have
company, and entered with care. Come, man, be more friendly! Will you
not ask me to sit? Must I call the landlady--or the farmer's
wife--myself, and beg for a cup of something on so hot a day? Where be
your manners, Gentleman Jack?"

"What the devil brings you into Warwickshire?" the other repeated, as he
threw his hat on the table, and dropped into a chair, and stretched out
his legs, without a further look at his companion.

"Nay, 'tis what the devil keeps thee here--that is the graver
question--though I know the answer right well. Come, Jack, be
reasonable! 'Tis for thy good I have sought thee out. What, man, would
you ruin us both?--for I tell thee, the end is pressing and near."

Seeing that his unwilling host would not even turn his eyes toward him,
he got down from the window-sill, and came along to the table, and took
a chair. He was a short, stout young man, of puffy face and red hair,
good-natured in look, but with a curious glaze in his light blue-gray
eyes that told of the tavern and himself being pretty close companions.
His dress had some show of ornament about it, though it was rather
travel-stained and shabby; he wore jewelled rings in his ears; and the
handkerchief which he somewhat ostentatiously displayed, if the linen
might have been whiter, was elaborately embroidered with thread of
Coventry blue. For the rest, he spoke pleasantly and good-humoredly, and
was obviously determined not to take offence at his anything but hearty

"Hoy-day," said he, with a laugh, "what a bother I had with the good
dame here, that would scarce let me come in! For how knew I what name
you might be dancing your latest galliard in?--not plain Jack Orridge,
I'll be bound!--what is't, your worship?--or your lordship,
perchance?--nay, but a lord would look best in the eyes of a daughter of
Will Shakespeare, that loveth to have trumpets and drums going, and
dukes and princes stalking across his boards. But 'fore Heaven, now,
Jack," said he, interrupting himself, and sending an appealing look
round the room, "have you naught to drink in the house? Came you ever to
my lodging and found such scurvy entertainment?"

The reluctant host left the apartment for a second or two, and presently
returned, followed by the farmer's wife, who placed on the table a jug
of small beer, and some bread and cheese. The bread and cheese did not
find much favor with the new-comer, but he drank a large horn of the
beer, and took to his pipe again.

"Come, Jack, be friendly," said he; "'tis for thine own good I have
sought thee out."

"I would you would mind your own business," the other said, with a
sullen frown remaining on his face.

"Mine and yours are one, as I take it, good coz," his companion said,
coolly; and then he added in a more friendly way: "Come, come, man, you
know we must sink or swim together. And sinking it will be, if you give
not up this madcap chase. Nay, you carry the jest too far, _mon ami_.
'Twas a right merry tale at the beginning--the sham wizard, and your
coquetting with Will Shakespeare's daughter to while away the time;
'twas a prank would make them roar at the Cranes in the Vintry; and
right well done, I doubt not--for, in truth, if you were not such a
gallant gentleman, you might win to a place in the theatres as well as
any of them; but to come back here again--to hide yourself away
again--and when I tell you they will no longer forbear, but will clap
thee into jail if they have not their uttermost penny--why, 'tis pure
moonshine madness to risk so much for a jest!"

"I tell thee 'tis no jest at all!" the other said, angrily. "In Heaven's
name, what brought you here?"

"Am I to have no care of myself, then, that am your surety, and have
their threats from hour to hour?"

He laughed in a stupid kind of way, and filled out some more beer and
drank it off thirstily.

"We had a merry night, last night, at Banbury," said he. "I must pluck a
hair of the same wolf to-day. And what say you? No jest? Nay, you look
sour enough to be virtuous, by my life, or to get into a pulpit and
preach a sermon against fayles and tick-tack, as wiles of the devil. No
jest? Have you been overthrown at last--by a country wench? Must you
take to the plough, and grow turnips? Why, I should as soon expect to
see Gentleman Jack consort with the Finsbury archers, or go a-ducking to
Islington ponds! Our Gentleman Jack a farmer! The price of wheat,
goodman Dickon?--how fatten your pigs?--will the fine weather last,
think you? Have done with this foolery, man! If all comes to the worst,
'twere better we should take to the road, you and I, and snip a purse
when chance might serve."

"You?" said his companion, with only half-concealed contempt. "The first
click of a pistol would find you behind a hedge."

"Why, old lad," said the other (who did not seem to have heard that
remark, during his pouring out of another hornful of beer), "I know you
better than you know yourself. This time, you say, 'tis serious--ay, but
how many times before hast thou said the same? And ever the wench is the
fairest of her kind, and a queen? For how long?--a fortnight!--perchance
three weeks. Oh, the wonder of her! And 'tis all a love-worship; and
the praising of her hands and ankles; and Tom Morley's ditty about a
lover and his lass,

    'That through the green corn fields did pass
                In the pretty spring-time,

Ay, for a fortnight; and then Gentleman Jack discovers that some wench
of the Bankside hath brighter eyes and freer favors than the country
beauty, and you hear no more of him until he has ne'er a penny left, and
comes begging his friends to be surety for him, or to write to his
grandam at Oxford, saying how virtuous a youth he is, and in how sad a
plight. Good Lord, that were an end!--should you have to go back to the
old dame at last, and become tapster--no more acting of your lordship
and worship--what ho, there! thou lazy knave, a flask of Rhenish, and
put speed into thy rascal heels!"

The cloud on his companion's face had been darkening.

"Peace, drunken fool!" he muttered--but between his teeth, for he did
not seem to wish to anger this stranger.

"Come, come, man," the other said, jovially, "unwitch thee! unwitch
thee! Fetch back thy senses. What?--wouldst thou become a jest and
byword for every tavern table between the Temple and the Tower? Nay, I
cannot believe it of thee, Jack. Serious? Ay, as you have been twenty
times before. Lord, what a foot and ankle!--and she the queen o' the
world--the rose and crown and queen o' the world--and the sighing o'
moonlight nights--

    'Mignonne, tant je vous aime,
    Mais vous ne m'aimez pas'--

and we are all to be virtuous and live cleanly for the rest of our
lives; but the next time you see Gentleman Jack, lo, you, now!--'tis at
the Bear-house; his pockets lined with angels wrung from old Ely of
Queenhithe; and as for his company--Lord! Lord! And as it hath been
before, so 'twill be again, as said Solomon the wise man; only that this
time--mark you now, Jack--this time it were well if you came to your
senses at once; for I tell thee that Ely and the rest of them have lost
all patience, and they know this much of thy Stratford doings, that if
they cannot exactly name thy whereabout, they can come within a
stone's-cast of thee. And if I come to warn thee--as is the office of a
true friend and an old companion--why shouldst thou sit there with a
sulky face, man? Did I ever treat thee so in Fetter Lane?"

While he had been talking, a savory odor had begun to steal into the
apartment, and presently the farmer's wife appeared, and proceeded to
spread the cloth for dinner. Her lodger had given no orders; but she had
taken his return as sufficient signal, and naturally she assumed that
his friend would dine with him. Accordingly, in due course, there was
placed on the board a smoking dish of cow-heel and bacon, with abundance
of ale and other garnishings; and as this fare seemed more tempting to
the new-comer than the bread and cheese, he needed no pressing to draw
his chair to the table. It was not a sumptuous feast; but it had a
beneficial effect on both of them--sobering the one, and rendering the
other somewhat more placable. Master Leofric Hope--as he had styled
himself--was still in a measure taciturn; but his guest--whose name, it
appeared, was Francis Lloyd--had ceased his uncomfortable banter; and
indeed all his talk now was of the charms and wealth of a certain widow
who lived in a house near to Gray's Inn, on the road to Hampstead. He
had been asked to dine with the widow; and he gave a magniloquent
description of the state she kept--of her serving-men, and her
furniture, and her plate, and the manner in which she entertained her

"And why was I," said he--"why was poor Frank Lloyd--that could scarce
get the wherewithal to pay for a rose for his ear--why was he picked out
for so great a favor? Why, but that he was known to be a friend of
handsome Jack Orridge. 'Where be your friend Master Orridge, now?' she
says, for she hath sometimes a country trick in her speech, hath the
good lady. 'Business, madam--affairs of great import,' I say to her,
'keep him still in the country.' Would I tell her the wolves were
waiting to rend you should you be heard of anywhere within London city?
'Handsome Jack, they call him, is't not so?' says she. Would I tell her
thou wert called 'Gentleman Jack?' as if thou hadst but slim right to
the title. Then says she to one of the servants, 'Fill the gentleman's
cup.' Lord, Jack, what a sherris that was!--'twas meat and drink; a
thing to put marrow in your bones--cool and clear it was, and rich
withal--cool on the tongue and warm in the stomach. 'Fore Heaven, Jack,
if thou hast not ever a cup of that wine ready for me when I visit thee,
I will say thou hast no more gratitude than a toad. And then says she
to all the company (raising her glass the while), 'Absent friends;' but
she nods and smiles to me, as one would say: 'We know whom we mean; we
know.' Lord, that sherris, Jack! I have the taste of it in my mouth now;
I dream o' nights there is a jug of it by me."

"Dreaming or waking, there is little else in thy head," said the other;
"nor in thy stomach, either."

"Is it a bargain, Jack?" he said, looking up from his plate and
regarding his companion with a fixed look.

"A bargain?"

"I tell thee 'tis the only thing will save us now." This Frank Lloyd
said with more seriousness than he had hitherto shown. "Heavens, man,
you must cease this idling; I tell thee they are not in the frame for
further delay. 'Tis the Widow Becket or the King's highway, one or
t'other, if you would remain a free man; and as for the highway, why,
'tis an uncertain trade, and I know that Gentleman Jack is no lover of
broken heads. What else would you? Live on in a hole like this? Nay, but
they would not suffer you. I tell you they are ready to hunt you out at
this present moment. Go beyond seas? Ay, and forsake the merry nights at
the Cranes and the Silver Hind? When thy old grandam is driven out of
all patience, and will not even forth with a couple of shillings to buy
you wine and radish for your breakfast, 'tis a bad case. Wouldst go down
to Oxford and become tapster?--Gentleman Jack, that all of them think
hath fine fat acres in the west country, and a line of ancestors
reaching back to Noah the sailor or Adam gardener. Come, man, unwitch
thee! Collect thy senses. If this sorry jest of thine be growing
serious--and I confess I had some thought of it, when you would draw on
Harry Condell for the mere naming of the wench's name--then, o' Heaven's
name, come away and get thee out of such foolery! I tell thee thou art
getting near an end, o' one way or another; and wouldst thou have me
broken too, that have ever helped thee, and shared my last penny with

"Broken?" said his friend, with a laugh. "If there be any in the country
more broken than you and I are at this moment, Frank, I wish them luck
of their fortunes. But still there is somewhat for you. You have not
pawned those jewels in your ears yet. And your horse--you rode hither,
said you not?--well, I trust it is a goodly beast, for it may have to
save thee from starvation ere long."

"Nay, ask me not how I came by the creature," said he, "but 'tis not
mine, I assure ye."

"Whose, then?"

Master Frank Lloyd shrugged his shoulders.

"If you cannot guess my errand," said he, "you cannot guess who equipped

"Nay," said his friend, who was now in a much better humor, "read me no
riddles, Frank. I would fain know who knew thee so little as to lend
thee a horse and see thee ride forth with it. Who was't, Frank?"

His companion looked up and regarded him.

"The Widow Becket," he answered, coolly.

"What?" said the other, laughing. "Art thou so far in the good dame's
graces, and yet would have me go to London and marry her?"

"'Tis no laughing matter, Master Jack, as you may find out ere long,"
the other said. "The good lady lent me the horse, 'tis true; else how
could I have come all the way into Warwickshire?--ay, and lent me an
angel or two to appease the villain landlords. I tell thee she is as
bountiful as the day. Lord, what a house!--I'll take my oath that Master
Butler hath a good fat capon and a bottle of claret each evening for his
supper--if he have not, his face belieth him. And think you she would be
niggard with Handsome Jack? Nay, but a gentleman must have his friends;
ay, and his suppers at the tavern, when the play is over; and store of
pieces in his purse to make you good company. Why, man, thy fame would
spread through the Blackfriars, I warrant you: where is the hostess that
would not simper and ogle and court'sy to Gentleman Jack, when that he
came among them, slapping the purse in his pouch?"

"'Tis a fair picture," his friend said. "Thy wits have been sharpened by
thy long ride, Frank. And think you the buxom widow would consent, were
one to make bold and ask her? Nay, nay; 'tis thy dire need hath driven
thee to this excess of fancy."

For answer Master Lloyd proceeded to bring forth a small box, which he
opened, and took therefrom a finger ring. It was a man's ring, of
massive setting; the stone of a deep blood-red, and graven with an
intaglio of a Roman bust. He pushed it across the table.

"The horse was lent," said he, darkly. "That--if it please you--you may
keep and wear."

"What mean you?" Leofric Hope said, in some surprise.

"'I name no thing, and I mean no thing,'" said he, quoting a phrase
from a popular ballad. "If you understand not, 'tis a pity. I may not
speak more plainly. But bethink you that poor Frank Lloyd was not likely
to have the means of purchasing thee such a pretty toy, much as he would
like to please his old friend. Nay, canst thou not see, Jack? 'Tis a
message, man! More I may not say. Take it and wear it, good lad; and
come back boldly to London; and we will face the harpies, and live as
free men, ere a fortnight be over. What?--must I speak? Nay, an' you
understand not, I will tell no more."

He understood well enough; and he sat for a second or two moodily
regarding the ring; but he did not take it up. Then he rose from the
table, and began to walk up and down the room.

"Frank," said he, "couldst thou but see this wench----"

"Nay, nay, spare me the catalogue," his friend answered, quickly. "I
heard thee declare that Ben Jonson had no words to say how fair she was:
would you better his description and overmaster him? And fair or not
fair, 'tis all the same with thee; any petticoat can bewitch thee out of
thy senses: Black Almaine or New Almaine may be the tune, but 'tis ever
the same dance; and such a heaving of sighs and despair!--

    'Thy gown was of the grassy green,
      Thy sleeves of satin hanging by;
    Which made thee be our harvest queen--
      And yet thou wouldst not love me.'

'Tis a pleasant pastime, friend Jack; but there comes an end. I know not
which be the worse, wenches or usurers, for landing a poor lad in jail;
but both together, Jack--and that is thy case--they are not like to let
thee escape. 'Tis not to every one in such a plight there cometh a
talisman like that pretty toy there: beshrew me, what a thing it is in
this world to have a goodly presence!"

He now rose from the table and went to the door, and called aloud for
some one to bring him a light. When that was brought, and his pipe set
going, he sat him down on the bench by the empty fire-place, for the
seat seemed comfortable, and there he smoked with much content, while
his friend continued to pace up and down the apartment, meditating over
his own situation, and seemingly not over well pleased with the survey.

Presently something in one of the pigeon-holes over the fire-place
attracted the attention of the visitor; and having nothing better to do
(for he would leave his friend time to ponder over what he had said), he
rose and pulled forth a little bundle of sheets of paper that opened in
his hand as he sat down again.

"What's this, Jack?" said he. "Hast become playwright? Surely all of
this preachment is not in praise of the fair damsel's eyebrows?"

His friend turned round, saw what he had got hold of, and laughed.

"That, now," said he, "were something to puzzle the wits with, were one
free to go to London. I had some such jest in mind; but perchance 'twas
more of idleness that made me copy out the play."

"'Tis not yours, then? Whose?" said Master Frank Lloyd, looking over the
pages with some curiosity.

"Whose? Why, 'tis by one Will Shakespeare, that you may have heard of.
Would it not puzzle them, Frank? Were it not a good jest, now, to lay it
before some learned critic and ask his worship's opinion? Or to read it
at the Silver Hind as of thy writing? Would not Dame Margery weep with
joy? Out upon the Mermaid!--have we not poets of our own?"

He had drawn near, and was looking down at the sheets that his friend
was examining.

"I tell thee this, Jack," the latter said, in his cool way, "there is
more than a jest to be got out of a play by Will Shakespeare. Would not
the booksellers give us the price of a couple of nags for it if we were
pressed so far?"

"Mind thine own business, fool!" was the angry rejoinder; and ere he
knew what had happened his hands were empty.

       *       *       *       *       *

And at that same moment, away over there in Stratford town, Judith was
in the garden, trying to teach little Bess Hall to dance, and merrily
laughing the while. And when the dancing lesson was over she would try a
singing lesson; and now the child was on Judith's shoulder, and had hold
of her bonny sun-brown curls.

"Well done, Bess; well done! Now again--

    'The hunt is up--the hunt is up--
    Awake, my lady dear!
    O a morn in spring is the sweetest thing
    Cometh in all the year!'

Well done indeed! Will not my father praise thee, lass; and what more
wouldst thou have for all thy pains?"



Great changes were in store. To begin with, there were rumors of her
father being about to return to London. Then Dr. Hall was summoned away
into Worcestershire by a great lady living there, who was continually
fancying herself at the brink of death, and manifesting on such
occasions a terror not at all in consonance with her professed assurance
that she was going to a happier sphere. As it was possible that Dr. Hall
would seize this opportunity to pay several other professional visits in
the neighboring county, it was proposed that Susan and her daughter
should come for a while to New Place, and that Judith should at the same
time go and stay with her grandmother at Shottery, to cheer the old dame
somewhat. And so it happened, on this July morning, that Judith's mother
having gone round to see her elder daughter about all these
arrangements, Judith found herself not only alone in the house, but, as
rarely chanced, with nothing to do.

She tried to extract some music from her sister's lute, but that was a
failure; she tried half a dozen other things; and then it occurred to
her--for the morning was fine and clear, and she was fond of the meadows
and of open air and sunlight--that she would walk round to the grammar
school and beg for a half-holiday for Willie Hart. He, as well as Bess
Hall, was under her tuition; and there were things she could teach him
of quite as much value (as she considered) as anything to be learned at
a desk. At the same time, before going to meet the staring eyes of all
those boys, she thought she might as well repair to her own room and
smarten up her attire--even to the extent, perhaps, of putting on her
gray beaver hat with the row of brass beads.

That was not at all necessary. Nothing of the kind was needful to make
Judith Shakespeare attractive and fascinating and wonderful to that
crowd of lads. The fact was, the whole school of them were more or less
secretly in love with her; and this, so far from procuring Willie Hart
such bumps and thrashings that he might have received from a solitary
rival, gained for him; on the contrary, a mysterious favor and
good-will that showed itself in a hundred subtle ways. For he was in a
measure the dispenser of Judith's patronage. When he was walking along
the street with her he would tell her the name of this one or that of
his companions (in case she had forgotten), and she would stop and speak
to him kindly, and hope he was getting on well with his tasks. Also the
other lads, on the strength of Willie Hart's intermediation, would now
make bold to say, with great politeness, "Give ye good-morrow, Mistress
Judith," when they met her, and sometimes she would pause for a moment
and chat with one of them, and make some inquiries of him as to whether
her cousin did not occasionally need a little help in his lessons from
the bigger boys. Then there was a kind of fury of assistance instantly
promised; and the youth would again remember his good manners, and bid
her formally farewell, and go on his way, with his heart and his cheeks
alike afire, and his brain gone a-dancing. Even that dread being, the
head-master, had no frown for her when she went boldly up to his desk,
in the very middle of the day's duties, to demand some favor. Nay, he
would rather detain her with a little pleasant conversation, and would
at times become almost facetious (at sight of which the spirits of the
whole school rose into a seventh heaven of equanimity). And always she
got what she wanted; and generally, before leaving, she would give one
glance down the rows of oaken benches, singling out her friends here and
there, and, alas! not thinking at all of the deadly wounds she was thus
dealing with those lustrous and shining eyes.

Well, on this morning she had no difficulty in rescuing her cousin from
the dull captivity of the school-room; and hand in hand they went along
and down to the river-side and to the meadows there. But seemingly she
had no wish to get much farther from the town; for the truth was that
she lacked assurance as yet that Master Leofric Hope had left that
neighborhood; and she was distinctly of a mind to avoid all further
communications with him until, if ever, he should be able to come
forward openly and declare himself to the small world in which she
lived. Accordingly she did not lead Willie Hart far along the river-side
path; they rather kept to seeking about the banks and hedge-rows for
wild flowers--the pink and white bells of the bind-weed she was mostly
after, and these did not abound there--until at last they came to a
stile; and there she sat down, and would have her cousin sit beside her,
so that she should give him some further schooling as to all that he
was to do and think and be in the coming years. She had far other things
than Lilly's Grammar to teach him. The Sententiæ Pueriles contained no
instruction as to how, for example, a modest and well-conducted youth
should approach his love-maiden to discover whether her heart was well
inclined toward him. And although her timid-eyed pupil seemed to take
but little interest in the fair creature that was thus being provided
for him in the future, and was far more anxious to know how he was to
win Judith's approval, either now or then, still he listened contentedly
enough, for Judith's voice was soft and musical. Nay, he put that
imaginary person out of his mind altogether. It was Judith, and Judith
alone, whom he saw in these forecasts. Would he have any other supplant
her in his dreams and visions of what was to be? This world around
him--the smooth-flowing Avon, the wooded banks, the wide white skies,
the meadows and fields and low-lying hills: was not she the very spirit
and central life and light of all these? Without her, what would these
be?--dead things; the mystery and wonder gone out of them; a world in
darkness. But he could not think of that; the world he looked forward to
was filled with light, for Judith was there, the touch of her hand as
gentle as ever, her eyes still as kind.

"So must you be accomplished at all points, sweetheart," she was
continuing, "that you shame her not in any company, whatever the kind of
it may be. If they be grave, and speak of the affairs of the realm, then
must you know how the country is governed, as becomes a man (though,
being a woman, alack! I cannot help you there), and you must have
opinions about what is best for England, and be ready to uphold them,
too. Then, if the company be of a gayer kind, again you shall not shame
her, but take part in all the merriment; and if there be dancing, you
shall not go to the door, and hang about like a booby; you must know the
new dances, every one; for would you have your sweetheart dance with
others, and you standing by? That were a spite, I take it, for both of
you!--nay, would not the wench be angry to be so used? Let me see,
now--what is the name of it?--the one that is danced to the tune of 'The
Merchant's Daughter went over the Field?'--have I shown you that,

"I know not, Cousin Judith," said he.

"Come, then," said she, blithely; and she took him by the hand and
placed him opposite her in the meadow. "Look you, now, the four at the
top cross hands--so (you must imagine the other two, sweetheart); and
all go round once--so; and then they change hands, and go back the other
way--so; and then each takes his own partner, and away they go round the
circle, and back to their place. Is it not simple, cousin? Come, now,
let us try properly."

And so they began again; and for music she lightly hummed a verse of a
song that was commonly sung to the same tune:

    Maid, will you love me, yes or no?
    Tell me the truth, and let me go.

"The other hand, Willie--quick!"

    It can be no less than a sinful deed
        (Trust me truly)
    To linger a lover that looks to speed
        (In due time duly).

"Why, is it not simple!" she said, laughing. "But now, instead of
crossing hands, I think it far the prettier way that they should hold
their hands up together--so: shall we try it, sweetheart?"

And then she had to sing another verse of the ballad:

    Consider, sweet, what sighs and sobs
    Do nip my heart with cruel throbs,
    And all, my dear, for the love of you
        (Trust me truly);
    But I hope that you will some mercy show
        (In due time duly).

"And then," she continued, when they had finished that laughing
rehearsal, "should the fiddles begin to squeal and screech--which is as
much as to say, 'Now, all of you, kiss your partners!'--then shall you
not bounce forward and seize the wench by the neck, as if you were a
ploughboy besotted with ale, and have her hate thee for destroying her
head-gear and her hair. No, you shall come forward in this manner, as if
to do her great courtesy, and you shall take her hand and bend one
knee--and make partly a jest of it, but not altogether a jest--and then
you shall kiss her hand, and rise and retire. Think you the maiden will
not be proud that you have shown her so much honor and respect in
public?--ay, and when she and you are thereafter together, by
yourselves, I doubt not but that she may be willing to make up to you
for your forbearance and courteous treatment of her. Marry, with that I
have naught to do; 'tis as the heart of the wench may happen to be
inclined; though you may trust me she will be well content that you show
her other than ale-house manners; and if 'tis but a matter of a kiss
that you forego, because you would pay her courtesy in public, why,
then, as I say, she may make that up to thee, or she is no woman else. I
wonder, now, what the Bonnybel will be like--or tall, or dark, or

"I wish never to see her, Judith," said he, simply.

However, there was to be no further discussion of this matter, nor yet
greensward rehearsals of dancing; for they now descried coming to them
the little maid who waited on Judith's grandmother. She seemed in a
hurry, and had a basket over her arm.

"How now, little Cicely?" Judith said, as she drew near.

"I have sought you everywhere, so please you, Mistress Judith," the
little maid said, breathlessly, "for I was coming in to the town--on
some errands--and--and I met the stranger gentleman that came once or
twice to the house--and--and he would have me carry a message to

"Prithee, good lass," said Judith, instantly, and with much composure,
"go thy way back home. I wish for no message."

"He seemed in sore distress," the little maid said, diffidently.

"How, then? Did a gentleman of his tall inches seek help from such a
mite as thou?"

"He would fain see you, sweet mistress, and but for a moment," the girl
answered, being evidently desirous of getting the burden of the message
off her mind. "He bid me say he would be in the lane going to Bidford,
or thereabout, for the next hour or two, and would crave a word with
you--out of charity, the gentleman said, or something of the like--and
that it might be the last chance of seeing you ere he goes, and that I
was to give his message to you very secretly."

Well, she scarcely knew what to do. At their last interview he had
pleaded for another opportunity of saying farewell to her, and she had
not definitely refused; but, on the other hand, she would much rather
have seen nothing further of him in these present circumstances. His
half-reckless references to Prince Ferdinand undergoing any kind of
hardship for the sake of winning the fair Miranda were of a dangerous
cast. She did not wish to meet him on that ground at all, even to have
her suspicions removed. But if he were really in distress? And this his
last day in the neighborhood? It seemed a small matter to grant.

"What say you, Cousin Willie?" said she, good-naturedly. "Shall we go
and see what the gentleman would have of us? I cannot, unless with thee
as my shield and champion."

"If you wish it, Cousin Judith," said he: what would he not do that she

"And Cicely--shall we all go?"

"Nay, so please you, Mistress Judith," the girl said; "I have to go back
for my errands. I have been running everywhere to seek you."

"Then, Willie, come along," said she, lightly. "We must get across the
fields to the Evesham road."

And so the apple-cheeked little maiden trudged back to the town with her
basket, while Judith and her companion went on their way across the
meadows. There was a kind of good-humored indifference in her consent,
though she felt anxious that the interview should be as brief as
possible. She had had more time of late to think over all the events
that had recently happened--startling events enough in so quiet and even
a life; and occasionally she bethought her of the wizard, and of the odd
coincidence of her meeting this young gentleman at the very spot that
had been named. She had tried to laugh aside certain recurrent doubts
and surmises, and was only partially successful. And she had a vivid
recollection of the relief she had experienced when their last interview
came to an end.

"You must gather me some flowers, sweetheart," said she, "while I am
speaking to this gentleman; perchance he may have something to say of
his own private affairs."

"I will go on to your grandmother's garden," said he, "if you wish it,
Cousin Judith, and get you the flowers there."

"Indeed, no," she answered, patting him on the shoulder. "Would you
leave me without my champion? Nay, but if you stand aside a little, that
the gentleman may speak in confidence, if that be his pleasure, surely
that will be enough."

They had scarcely entered the lane when he made his appearance, and the
moment she set eyes on him she saw that something had happened. His face
seemed haggard and anxious--nay, his very manner was changed; where was
the elaborate courtesy with which he had been wont to approach her?

"Judith," said he, hurriedly, "I must risk all now. I must speak plain.
I--I scarce hoped you would give me the chance."

But she was in no alarm.

"Now, sweetheart," said she, calmly, to the little lad, "you may get me
the flowers; and if you find any more of the bind-weed bells and the St.
John's wort, so much the better."

Then she turned to Master Leofric Hope.

"I trust you have had no ill news," said she, but in a kind way.

"Indeed, I have. Well, I know not which way to take it," he said, in a
sort of desperate fashion. "It might be good news. But I am hard
pressed; 'twill be sink or swim with me presently. Well, there is one
way of safety opened to me: 'tis for you to say whether I shall take it
or not."

"I, sir?" she said; and she was so startled that she almost recoiled a

"Nay, but first I must make a confession," said he, quickly, "whatever
comes of it. Think of me what you will, I will tell you the truth. Shall
I beg for your forgiveness beforehand?"

He was regarding her earnestly and anxiously, and there was nothing but
kindness and a dim expression of concern in his honest, frank face and
in the beautiful eyes.

"No, I will not," he said. "Doubtless you will be angry, and with just
cause; and you will go away. Well, this is the truth. The devils of
usurers were after me; I had some friends not far from here; I escaped
to them; and they sought out this hiding for me. Then I had heard of
you--you will not forgive me, but this is the truth--I had heard of your
beauty; and Satan himself put it into my head that I must see you. I
thought it would be a pastime, to while away this cursed hiding, if I
could get to know you without discovering myself. I sent you a message.
I was myself the wizard. Heaven is my witness that when I saw you at the
corner of the field up there, and heard you speak, and looked on your
gracious and gentle ways, remorse went to my heart; but how could I
forego seeking to see you again? It was a stupid jest. It was begun in
thoughtlessness; but now the truth is before you: I was myself the
wizard; and--and my name is not Leofric Hope, but John Orridge--a
worthless poor devil that is ashamed to stand before you."

Well, the color had mounted to her face: for she saw clearly the
invidious position that this confession had placed her in; but she was
far less startled than he had expected. She had already regarded this
trick as a possible thing, and she had also fully considered what she
ought to do in such circumstances. Now, when the circumstances were
actually laid before her, she made no display of wounded pride, or of
indignant anger, or anything of the kind.

"I pray you," said she, with a perfect and simple dignity, "pass from
that. I had no such firm belief in the wizard's prophecies. I took you
as you represented yourself to be, a stranger, met by chance, one who
was known to my father's friends, and who was in misfortune; and if I
have done aught beyond what I should have done in such a pass, I trust
you will put it down to our country manners, that are perchance less
guarded than those of the town."

For an instant--there was not the slightest doubt of it--actual tears
stood in the young man's eyes.

"By heavens," he exclaimed, "I think you must be the noblest creature
God ever made! You do not drive me away in scorn; you have no
reproaches? And I--to be standing here--telling you such a tale----"

"I pray you, sir, pass from that," said she. "What of your own fortune?
You are quitting the neighborhood?"

"But how can you believe me in anything, since you know how I have
deceived you?" said he, as if he could not understand how she should
make no sign of her displeasure.

"'Twas but a jest, as you say," she answered, good-naturedly, but still
with a trifle of reserve. "And no harm has come of it. I would leave it
aside, good sir."

"Harm?" said he, regarding her with a kind of anxious timidity. "That
may or may not be, sweet lady, as time will show. If I dared but speak
to you--well, bethink you of my meeting you here from day to day, in
these quiet retreats, and seeing such a sweetness and beauty and
womanliness as I have never met in the world before--such a wonder of
gentleness and kindness----"

"I would ask you to spare me these compliments," said she, simply. "I
thought 'twas some serious matter you had in hand."

"Serious enough i' faith!" he said, in an altered tone, as if she had
recalled him to a sense of the position in which he stood. "But there is
the one way out of it, after all. I can sell my life away for money to
pacify those fiends; nay, besides that, I should live in abundance,
doubtless, and be esteemed a most fortunate gentleman, and one to be
envied. A gilded prison-house and slavery; but what would the fools
think of that if they saw me with a good fat purse at the tavern?"

Again he regarded her.

"There is another way yet, however, if I must needs trouble you, dear
Mistress Judith, with my poor affairs. What if I were to break with that
accursed London altogether, and go off and fight my way in another
country, as many a better man hath done? ay, and there be still one or
two left who would help me to escape if they saw me on the way to
reform, as they would call it. And what would I not do in that way--ay,
or in any way--if I could hope for a certain prize to be won at the end
of it all?"

"And that, good sir?"

"That," said he, watching her face--"the reward that would be enough and
more than enough for all I might suffer would be just this--to find
Judith Shakespeare coming to meet me in this very lane."

"Oh, no, sir," was her immediate and incoherent exclamation; and then
she promptly pulled herself together, and said, with some touch of
pride: "Indeed, good sir, you talk wildly. I scarce understand how you
can be in such grave trouble."

"Then," said he, and he was rather pale, and spoke slowly, "it would be
no manner of use for any poor Ferdinand of these our own days to go
bearing logs or suffering any hardships that might arise? There would be
no Miranda waiting for him, after all?"

She colored deeply; she could not affect to misunderstand the repeated
allusion; and all she had in her mind now was to leave him and get away
from him, and yet without unkindness or anger.

"Good sir," said she, with such equanimity as she could muster, "if that
be your meaning--if that be why you wished to see me again--and no mere
continuance of an idle jest, plain speech will best serve our turn. I
trust no graver matters occupy your mind; as for this, you must put
that away. It was with no thought of any such thing that I--that I met
you once or twice, and--and lent you such reading as might pass the time
for you. And perchance I was too free in that, and in my craving to hear
of my father and his friends in London, and the rest. But what you say
now, if I understand you aright--well, I had no thought of any such
thing. Indeed, good sir, if I have done wrong in listening to you about
my father's friends, 'twas in the hope that soon or late you would
continue the tale in my father's house. But now--what you say--bids me
to leave you--and yet in no anger--for in truth I wish you well."

She gave him her hand, and he held it for a moment.

"Is this your last word, Judith?" said he.

"Yes, yes, indeed," she answered, rather breathlessly and earnestly. "I
may not see you again. I pray Heaven your troubles may soon be over; and
perchance you may meet my father in London, and become one of his
friends; then might I hear of your better fortunes. 'Twould be welcome
news, believe me. And now fare you well."

He stooped to touch her hand with his lips; but he said not a word; and
she turned away without raising her eyes. He stood there motionless and
silent, watching her and the little boy as they walked along the lane
toward the village--regarding them in an absent kind of way, and yet
with no great expression of sadness or hopelessness in his face. Then he
turned and made for the highway to Bidford; and he was saying to himself
as he went along:

"Well, there goes one chance in life, for good or ill. And what if I had
been more persistent? What if she had consented, or even half consented,
or said that in the future I might come back with some small modicum of
hope? Nay: the devil only knows where I should get logs to carry for the
winning of so fair a reward. Frank Lloyd is right. My case is too
desperate. So fare you well, sweet maiden; keep you to your quiet
meadows and your wooded lanes: and the clown that will marry you will
give you a happier life than ever you could have had with Jack Orridge
and his broken fortunes."

Indeed, he seemed in no downcast mood. As he walked along the highway he
was absently watching the people in the distant fields, or idly
whistling the tune of "Calen o Custure me." But by and by, as he drew
near the farm, his face assumed a more sombre look; and when, coming
still nearer, he saw Frank Lloyd calmly standing at the door of the
stables, smoking his pipe, there was a sullen frown on his forehead that
did not promise well for the cheerfulness of that journey to London
which Master Lloyd had sworn he would not undertake until his friend was
ready to accompany him.



But that was not the departure for London which was soon to bring Judith
a great heaviness of heart, and cause many a bitter fit of crying when
that she was lying awake o' nights. She would rather have let all her
lovers go, and welcome, a hundred times over. But, as the days passed,
it became more and more evident, from certain preparations, that her
father was about to leave Stratford for the south, and finally the very
moment was fixed. Judith strove to keep a merry face (for so she had
been bid), but again and again she was on the point of going to him and
falling on her knees and begging him to remain with them. She knew that
he would laugh at her; but did he quite know what going away from them
meant? And the use of it? Had they not abundance? Still, she was afraid
of being chid for meddling in matters beyond her; and so she went about
her duties with as much cheerfulness as she could assume; though, when
in secret conclave with Prudence, and talking of this, and what the
house would be like when he was gone, quiet tears would steal down her
face in the dusk.

To suit the convenience of one or two neighbors, who were also going to
London, the day of departure had been postponed; but at last the fatal
morning arrived. Judith, from an early hour, was on the watch, trying to
get some opportunity of saying good-by to her father by herself (and not
before all the strangers who would soon be gathering together), but
always she was defeated, for he was busy in-doors with many things, and
every one was lending a helping hand. Moreover, she was in an excited
and trembling state; and more than once she had to steal away to her
chamber and bathe her eyes with water lest that they should tell any
tale when he regarded her. But the climax of her misfortunes was this.
When the hour for leaving was drawing nigh she heard him go out and into
the garden, doubtless with the intention of locking up the cupboard in
the summer-house; and so she presently and swiftly stole out after him,
thinking that now would be her chance. Alas! the instant she had passed
through the back-court door she saw that Matthew gardener had
forestalled her; and not only that, but he had brought a visitor with
him--the master constable, Grandfather Jeremy, whom she knew well. Anger
filled her heart; but there was no time to stand on her dignity. She
would not retire from the field. She walked forward boldly, and stood by
her father's side, as much as to say: "Well, this is my place. What do
you want? Why this intrusion at such a time?"

Grandfather Jeremy was a little, thin, round-shouldered ancient, with
long, straggling gray hair, and small, shrewd, ferret-like eyes that
kept nervously glancing from Judith's father to goodman Matthew, who had
obviously introduced him on this occasion. Indeed, the saturnine visage
of the gardener was overspread with a complacent grin, as though he were
saying, "Look you there, zur, there be a rare vool." Judith's father, on
the other hand, showed no impatience over this interruption; he kept
waiting for the old man to recover his power of speech.

"Well, now, master constable, what would you?" he said gently.

"Why can't 'ee tell his worship, Jeremy?" Matthew gardener said, in his
superior and facetious fashion, "Passion o' me, man, thy tongue will wag
fast enough at Mother Tooley's ale-house."

"It wur a contrevarsie, so please your worship," the ancient constable
said, but with a kind of vacant stare, as if he were half lost in
looking back into his memory.

"Ay, and with whom?" said Judith's father, to help him along.

"With my poor old woman, so please your worship. She be a poor, mean
creature in your honor's eyes, I make no doubt; but she hath wisdom, she
hath, and a strength in contrevarsie past most. Lord, Lord, why be I
standing here now--and holding your worship--and your worship's time and
necessities--but that she saith, 'Jeremy, put thy better leg avore;'
'speak out,' saith she; ''twur as good for thee as a half-ox in a pie,
or a score of angels in thy pouch.' 'Speak out,' she saith, 'and be not
afraid, Jeremy.'"

"But, master constable," said Judith's father, "if your good dame be
such a Mary Ambree in argument, she should have furnished you with fewer
words and more matter. What would you?"

"Nay, zur, I be as bold as most," said the constable, pulling up his
courage, and also elevating his head somewhat with an air of authority.
"I can raise hue and cry in the hundred, that can I; and if the watch
bring me a rogue, he shall lie by the heels, or I am no true man. But
Lord, zur, have pity on a poor man that be put forward to speak for a
disputation. When they wur talking of it at furst, your worship--this
one and the other, and all of them to once--and would have me go forward
to speak for them, 'Zure,' says I, 'I would as lief go to a bride-ale
with my legs swaddled in wisps as go avore Mahster Shaksper without a
power o' voine words.' But Joan, she saith, 'Jeremy, fear no man,
howsoever great, for there be but the one Lord over us all; perzent
thyself like a true countryman and an honest officer; take thy courage
with thee,' saith she; 'and remember thou speakest vor thy friends as
well as vor thyself. 'Tis a right good worshipful gentleman,' she saith,
meaning yourself, sweet Mahster Shaksper; 'and will a not give us a

"In Heaven's name, man," said Judith's father, laughing, "what would
you? Had Joan no clearer message to give you?"

"I but speak her words, so please your worship," said the ancient
constable, with the air of one desperately trying to recall a lesson
that had been taught him. "And all of them--they wur zaying as how she
hath a power o' wisdom--and, 'Jeremy,' she saith, 'be not overbold with
the worthy gentleman; 'tis but a share; and he be a right worthy and
civil gentleman; speak him fair, Jeremy,' she saith, 'and put thy better
leg avore, and acquit thee as a man. Nay, be bold,' she saith, 'and
think of thy vriends, that be waiting without for an answer. Think of
them, Jeremy,' she saith, 'if thy speech fail thee. 'Tis but a share;
'tis but a share; and he a right worshipful and civil gentleman.'"

Judith's father glanced at the sun-dial on the gable of the barn.

"My good friend," said he, "I hear that your wife Joan is ailing; 'tis
through no lack of breath, I warrant me. An you come not to the point
forthwith, I must be gone. What would you? Or what would your good dame
have of me?--for there we shall get to it more quickly."

"So please you, zur," said Matthew, with his complacent grin, "the
matter be like this, now: this worthy master constable and his comrades
of the watch, they wur laying their heads together like; and they have
heard say that you have written of them, and taken of their wisdom the
couple o' nights they wur brought in to supper; and they see as how you
have grown rich, so please you, zur, with such writing----"

"A vast o' money--a vast o' money and lands," the other murmured.

"And now, zur, they would make bold to ask for their share, for the help
that they have given you. Nay, zur," continued Matthew gardener, who was
proud of the ease with which he could put into words the inarticulate
desires of this good constable, "be not angry with worthy Jeremy; he but
speaketh for the others, and for his wife Joan too, that be as full of
courage as any of them, and would have come to your worship but that she
be sore troubled with an ague. Lord, zur, I know not how much the worthy
gentlemen want. Perchance good Jeremy would be content wi' the barn and
the store of malt in the malt-house----"

At this the small deep eyes of the ancient began to twinkle nervously;
and he glanced in an anxious way from one to the other.

"And the watch, now," continued Matthew grinning, and regarding the old
constable; "why, zur, they be poor men; 'twould go well with them to
divide amongst them the store of good wine in the cellar, and perchance
also the leather hangings that be so much talked of in the town. But
hark you, good Jeremy, remember this, now--that whoever hath the garden
and orchard fall to his lot must pay me my wages, else 'tis no bargain."

For the first time in her life Judith saw her father in a passion of
anger. His color did not change; but there was a strange look about his
mouth, and his eyes blazed.

"Thou cursed fool," he said to the gardener, "'tis thou hast led these
poor men into this folly." And then he turned to the bewildered
constable, and took him by the arm. "Come, good friend," said he, in a
kindly way, "come into the house and I will explain these matters to
thee. Thou hast been mislead by that impudent knave--by my life, I will
settle that score with him ere long; and in truth the aid that you and
your comrades have given me is chiefly that we have passed a pleasant
evening or two together, and been merry or wise as occasion offered. And
I would have you spend such another to-night among yourselves, leaving
the charges at the ale-house to me; and for the present, if I may not
divide my store of wine among you, 'tis no reason why you and I should
not have a parting cup ere I put hand to bridle----"

That was all that Judith heard; and then she turned to the ancient wise
man and said, coolly,

"Were I in thy place, good Matthew, I would get me out of this garden,
and out of Stratford town too, ere my father come back." And Matthew was
too frightened to answer her.

The outcome of all this, however, was that Judith's father did not
return to the garden; and when she went into the house she found that he
had taken such time to explain to Jeremy constable how small a share in
his writings had been contributed by these good people that certain of
the members of the expedition bound for London had already arrived.
Indeed, their horses and attendants were at the door; and all and
everything was in such a state of confusion and uproar that Judith saw
clearly she had no chance of saying a quiet good-by to her father all by
herself. But was she to be again balked by goodman Matthew? She thought
not. She slipped away by the back door and disappeared.

There was quite a little crowd gathered to see the cavalcade move off.
Dr. Hall was not there, but Tom Quiney was--bringing with him as a
parting gift for Judith's father a handsome riding-whip; and the worthy
parson Blaise had also appeared, though there was no opportunity for his
professional services amid so much bustle. And then there were
hand-shakings and kissings and farewells; and Judith's father was just
about to put his foot in the stirrup, when Susanna called out:

"But where is Judith? Is she not coming to say good-by to my father?"

Then there were calls for Judith, here, there, and everywhere, but no
answer; and her mother was angry that the girl should detain all this
assemblage. But her father, not having mounted, went rapidly through the
house, and just opened the door leading into the garden. The briefest
glance showed him that the mastiff was gone. Then he hurried back.

"'Tis all well, good mother," said he, as he got into the saddle. "I
shall see the wench ere I go far. I know her tricks."

So the company moved away from the house, and through the streets, and
down to Clopton's bridge. Once over the bridge, they struck to the
right, taking the Oxford road by Shipston and Enstone; and ere they had
gone far along the highway, Judith's father, who seemed less to join in
the general hilarity and high spirits of the setting out than to be
keeping a watch around, perceived something in the distance--at a corner
where there was a high bank behind some trees--that caused him to laugh
slightly, and to himself. When they were coming near this corner the
figure that had been on the sky-line had disappeared; but down by the
road-side was Judith herself, looking very tremulous and ashamed as all
these people came along, and the great Don standing by her. Her father,
who had some knowledge of her ways, bade them all ride on, and then he
turned his horse, and sprang down from the saddle.

"Well, wench," said he, and he took her by the shoulders, "what brings
you here?"

In answer, she could only burst into tears, and hide her face in his

"Why, lass," said he, "what is a journey to London? And have you not
enough left to comfort you? Have you not sweethearts a plenty?"

But she could not speak; she only sobbed and sobbed.

"Come, come, lass, I must be going," said he, stroking the soft brown
hair. "Cheer up. Wouldst thou spoil the prettiest eyes in Warwickshire?
Nay, an thou have not a right merry and beaming face when I come again,
I will call thee no daughter of mine."

Then she raised her head--for still she could not speak--and he kissed

"Heaven's blessings on thee, good wench! I think 'tis the last time I
shall ever have the courage to leave thee. Fare you well, sweetheart;
keep your eyes bright and your face happy--to draw me home again."

Then she kissed him on each cheek, and he got into the saddle and rode
on. She climbed up to the top of the bank, and watched him and his
companions while they were still in sight, and then she turned to go
slowly homeward.

And it seemed to her, when she came in view of Stratford, and looked
down on the wide meadows and the placid river and the silent
homesteads, that a sort of winter had already fallen over the land. That
long summer had been very beautiful to her--full of sunlight and color
and the scent of flowers; but now a kind of winter was come, and a
sadness and loneliness; and the days and days that would follow each
other seemed to have no longer any life in them.



But a far sharper winter than any she had thought of was now about to
come upon her, and this was how it befell:

After the departure of her father, good Master Walter Blaise became more
and more the guide and counsellor of these women-folk; and indeed New
Place was now given over to meetings for prayer and worship, and was
also become the head-quarters in the town for the entertainment of
travelling preachers, and for the institution of all kinds of pious and
charitable undertakings. There was little else for the occupants of it
to do: the head of the house was in London; Judith was at Shottery with
her grandmother; Susanna was relieved from much of her own domestic
cares by the absence of her husband in Worcestershire; and the bailiff
looked after all matters pertaining to the farm. Indeed, so constant
were these informal services and ministerings to pious travellers that
Julius Shawe (though not himself much given in that direction, and
perhaps mostly to please his sister) felt bound to interfere and offer
to open his house on occasion, or pay part of the charges incurred
through this kindly hospitality. Nay, he went privately to Master Blaise
and threw out some vague hints as to the doubtful propriety of allowing
a wife, in the absence of her husband, to be so ready with her charity.
Now Master Blaise was an honest and straightforward man, and he met this
charge boldly and openly. He begged of Master Shawe to come to New Place
that very afternoon, when two or three of the neighbors were to assemble
to hear him lecture; and both Prudence and her brother went. But before
the lecture, the parson observed that he had had a case of conscience
put before him--as to the giving of alms and charity, by whom, for whom
and on whose authority--which he would not himself decide. The whole
matter, he observed, had been pronounced upon in the holiday lectures of
that famous divine Master William Perkins, who was now gone to his
eternal reward; these lectures having recently been given to the world
by the aid of one Thomas Pickering, of Emmanuel College, Cambridge. And
very soon it appeared, as the young parson read from the little
parchment-covered book, that the passages he quoted had been carefully
chosen and were singularly pertinent. For after a discourse on the duty
of almsgiving, as enjoined by Scripture (and it was pointed out that
Christ himself had lived on alms--"not by begging, as the Papists
affirm, but by the voluntary ministration and contribution of some to
whom he preached"), Master Blaise read on, with an occasional glance at
Julius Shawe: "'It may be asked whether the wife may give alms without
the consent of her husband, considering that she is in subjection to
another, and therefore all that she hath is another's, and not her own.
Answer. The wife may give alms of some things, but with these cautions:
as, first, she may give of those goods that she hath excepted from
marriage. Secondly, she may give of those things which are common to
them both, provided it be with the husband's consent, at least general
and implicit. Thirdly, she may not give without or against the consent
of her husband. And the reason is, because both the law of nature and
the word of God command her obedience to her husband in all things. If
it be alleged that Joanna, the wife of Chuza, Herod's steward, with
others, did minister to Christ of their goods (Luke viii., 3), I answer:
It is to be presumed that it was not done without all consent. Again, if
it be said that Abigail brought a present to David for the relief of him
and his young men, whereof she made not Nabal, her husband, acquainted
(1 Sam. xxv., 19), I answer, it is true, but mark the reason. Nabal was
generally of a churlish and unmerciful disposition, whereupon he was
altogether unwilling to yield relief to any, in how great necessity
soever; whence it was that he railed on the young men that came to him,
and drove them away, ver. 14. Again, he was a foolish man, and given to
drunkenness, so as he was not fit to govern his house or to dispense his
alms. Besides, that Abigail was a woman of great wisdom in all her
actions, and that which she now did was to save Nabal's and her own
life--yea, the lives of his whole family; for the case was desperate,
and all that they had were in present hazard. The example, therefore,
is no warrant for any woman to give alms, unless it be in the like
case.'" And then he summed up in a few words, saying, in effect, that as
regards the question which had been put before him, it was for the wife
to say whether she had her husband's general and implied consent to her
pious expenditure, and to rule her accordingly.

This completely and forever shut Julius Shawe's mouth. For he knew, and
they all knew, that Judith's father was well content that any preachers
or divines coming to the house should be generously received; while he
on his part claimed a like privilege in the entertainment of any vagrant
person or persons (especially if they were making a shift to live by
their wits) whom he might chance to meet. Strict economy in all other
things was the rule of the household; in the matter of hospitality the
limits were wide. And if Judith's mother half guessed, and if Susanna
Hall shrewdly perceived, why this topic had been introduced, and why
Julius Shawe had been asked to attend the lecture, the subject was one
that brought no sting to their conscience. If the whole question rested
on the general and implied consent of the husband, Judith's mother had
naught to tax herself with.

After that there was no further remonstrance (of however gentle and
underhand a kind) on the part of Julius Shawe; and more and more did
Parson Blaise become the guide, instructor, and mainstay of the
household. They were women-folk, some of them timid, all of them pious,
and they experienced a sense of comfort and safety in submitting to his
spiritual domination. As for his disinterestedness, there could be no
doubt of that; for now Judith was away at Shottery, and he could no
longer pay court to her in that authoritative fashion of his. It seemed
as if he were quite content to be with these others, bringing them the
news of the day, especially as regarded the religious dissensions that
were everywhere abroad, arranging for the welcoming of this or that
faithful teacher on his way through the country, getting up meetings for
prayer and profitable discourse in the afternoon, or sitting quietly
with them in the evening while they went on with their tasks of
dress-making or embroidery.

And so it came about that Master Walter was in the house one
morning--they were seated at dinner, indeed, and Prudence was also of
the company--when a letter was brought in and handed to Judith's
mother. It was an unusual thing; and all saw by the look of it that it
was from London; and all were eager for the news, the good parson as
well as any. There was not a word said as Judith's mother, with fingers
that trembled a little from mere anticipation, opened the large sheet,
and began to read to herself across the closely written lines. And then,
as they waited, anxious for the last bit of tidings about the King or
the Parliament or what not, they could not fail to observe a look of
alarm come into the reader's face.

"Oh, Susan," she said, in a way that startled them, "what is this?"

She read on, breathless and stunned, her face grown quite pale now; and
at last she stretched out her shaking hand with the letter in it.

"Susan, Susan, take it. I cannot understand it. I cannot read more. Oh,
Susan, what has the girl done?"

And she turned aside her chair, and began to cry stealthily; she was not
a strong-nerved woman, and she had gathered but a vague impression that
something terrible and irrevocable had occurred.

Susan was alarmed, no doubt; but she had plenty of self-command. She
took the letter, and proceeded as swiftly as she could to get at the
contents of it. Then she looked up in a frightened way at the parson, as
if to judge in her own mind as to how far he should be trusted in this
matter. And then she turned to the letter again--in a kind of despair.

"Mother," said she at last, "I understand no more than yourself what
should be done. To think that all this should have been going on, and we
knowing naught of it! But you see what my father wants; that is the
first thing. Who is to go to Judith?"

At the mere mention of Judith's name a flash of dismay went to
Prudence's heart. She knew that something must have happened; she at
once bethought her of Judith's interviews with the person in hiding; and
she was conscious of her own guilty connivance and secrecy; so that the
blood rushed to her face, and she sat there dreading to know what was

"Mother," Susan said again, and rather breathlessly, "do you not think,
in such a pass, we might beg Master Blaise to give us of his advice? The
Doctor being from home, who else is there?"

"Nay, if I can be of any service to you or yours, good Mistress Hall, I
pray you have no scruple in commanding me," said the parson--with his
clear and keen gray eyes calmly waiting for information.

Judith's mother was understood to give her consent; and then Susan
(after a moment's painful hesitation) took up the letter.

"Indeed, good sir," said she, with an embarrassment that she rarely
showed, "you will see there is reason for our perplexity, and--and I
pray you be not too prompt to think ill of my sister. Perchance there
may be explanations, or the story wrongly reported. In good truth, sir,
my father writes in no such passion of anger as another might in such a
pass, though 'tis but natural he should be sorely troubled and vexed."

Again she hesitated, being somewhat unnerved and bewildered by what she
had just been reading. She was trying to recall things, to measure
possibilities, to overcome her amazement, all at once. And then she knew
that the parson was coolly regarding her, and she strove to collect her

"This, good sir, is the manner of it," said she, in as calm a way as she
could assume, "that my father and his associates have but recently made
a discovery that concerns them much, and is even a disaster to them;
'tis no less than that a copy of my father's last written play--the very
one, indeed, that he finished ere leaving Stratford--hath lately been
sold, they scarce know by whom as yet, to a certain bookseller in
London, and that the bookseller is either about to print it and sell it,
or threatens to do so. They all of them, my father says, are grievously
annoyed by this, for that the publishing of the play will satisfy many
who will read it at home instead of coming to the theatre, and that thus
the interests of himself and his associates will suffer gravely. I am
sorry, good sir, to trouble you with such matters," she added, with a
glance of apology, "but they come more near home to us than you might

"I have offered to you my service in all things--that befit my office,"
said Master Walter, but with a certain reserve, as if he did not quite
like the course that matters were taking.

"And then," continued Susan, glancing at the writing before her, "my
father says that they were much perplexed (having no right at law to
stop such a publication), and made inquiries as to how any such copy
could have found its way into the bookseller's hands; whereupon he
discovered that which hath grieved him far more than the trouble about
the play. Prudence, you are her nearest gossip; it cannot be true!" she
exclaimed; and she turned to the young maiden, whose face was no longer
pale and thoughtful, but rose-colored with shame and alarm. "For he says
'tis a story that is now everywhere abroad in London--and a laugh and a
jest at the taverns--how that one Jack Orridge came down to
Warwickshire, and made believe to be a wizard, and cozened
Judith--Judith, Prudence, our Judith!--heard ye ever the like?--into a
secret love affair; and that she gave him a copy of the play as one of
her favors----"

"Truly, now, that is false on the face of it," said Master Blaise,
appositely. "That is a tale told by some one who knows not that Judith
hath no skill of writing."

"Oh, 'tis too bewildering!" Susan said, as she turned again to the
letter in a kind of despair. "But to have such a story going about
London--about Judith--about my sister Judith--how can you wonder that my
father should write in haste and in anger? That she should meet this
young man day after day at a farm-house near to Bidford, and in secret,
and listen to his stories of the court, believing him to be a worthy
gentleman in misfortune! A worthy gentleman truly!--to come and make
sport of a poor country maiden, and teach her to deceive her father and
all of us, not one of us knowing--not one----"

"Susan! Susan!" Prudence cried, in an agony of grief, "'tis not as you
think. 'Tis not as it is written there. I will confess the truth. I
myself knew of the young man being in the neighborhood, and how he came
to be acquainted with Judith. And she never was at any farm-house to
meet him, that I know well, but--but he was alone, and in trouble, he
said, and she was sorry for him, and durst not speak to any one but me.
Nay, if there be aught wrong, 'twas none of her doing, that I know: as
to the copy of the play, I am ignorant; but 'twas none of her doing.
Susan, you think too harshly--indeed you do."

"Sweetheart, I think not harshly," said the other, in a bewildered way.
"I but tell the story as I find it."

"'Tis not true, then. On her part, at least, there was no whit of any
secret love affair, as I know right well," said Prudence, with a
vehemence near to tears.

"I but tell thee the story as my father heard it. Poor wench, whatever
wrong she may have done, I have no word against her," Judith's sister

"I pray you continue," interposed Master Blaise, with his eyes calmly
fixed on the letter; he had scarcely uttered a word.

"Oh, my father goes on to say that this Orridge--this person
representing himself as familiar with the court, and the great nobles,
and the like--is none other than the illegitimate son of an Oxfordshire
gentleman who became over well acquainted with the daughter of an
innkeeper in Oxford town; that the father meant to bring up the lad, and
did give him some smattering of education, but died; that ever since he
hath been dependent on his grandmother, a widow, who still keeps the
inn; and that he hath lived his life in London in any sort of company he
could impose upon by reason of his fine manners. These particulars, my
father says, he hath had from Ben Jonson, that seems to know something
of the young man, and maintains that he is not so much vicious or
ill-disposed as reckless and idle, and that he is as likely as not to
end his days with a noose round his neck. This, saith my father, is all
that he can learn, and he would have us question Judith as to the truth
of the story, and as to how the copy of the play was made, and whether
'twas this same Orridge that carried it to London. And all this he would
have inquired into at once, for his associates and himself are in great
straits because of this matter, and have urgent need to know as much as
can be known. Then there is this further writing toward the end--'I
cannot explain all to thee at this time; but 'tis so that we have no
remedy against the rascal publisher. Even if they do not register at the
Stationers' Company, they but offend the Company; and the only
punishment that might at the best befall them would be his Grace of
Canterbury so far misliking the play as to cause it to be burnt--a
punishment that would fall heavier on us, I take it, than on them; and
that is in no case to be anticipated.'"

"I cannot understand these matters, good sir," Judith's mother said
drying her eyes. "'Tis my poor wench that I think of. I know she meant
no harm--whatever comes of it. And she is so gentle and so
proud-spirited that a word of rebuke from her father will drive her out
of her reason. That she should have fallen into such trouble, poor
wench! poor wench!--and you, Prudence, that was ever her intimate, and
seeing her in such a coil--that you should not have told us of it!"

Prudence sat silent under this reproach: she knew not how to defend
herself. Perhaps she did not care, for all her thoughts were about

"Saw you ever the young man?" Susan said, scarcely concealing her

"Nay, not I," was Prudence's answer. "But your grandmother hath seen
him, and that several times."

"My grandmother!" she exclaimed.

"For he used to call at the cottage," said Prudence, "and pass an hour
or two--being in hiding, as he said, and glad to have a little company.
And he greatly pleased the old dame, as I have heard, because of his
gracious courtesy and good breeding; and when they believed him to be in
sad trouble, and pitied him, who would be the first to speak and
denounce a stranger so helpless? Nay, I know that I have erred. Had I
had more courage I should have come to you, Susan, and begged you to
draw Judith away from any further communication with the young man; but
I--I know not how it came about; she hath such a winning and
overpersuading way, and is herself so fearless."

"A handsome youth, perchance?" said Susan, who seemed to wish to know
more about this escapade of her sister's.

"Right handsome, as I have heard; and of great courtesy and gentle
manners," Prudence answered. "But well I know what it was that led
Judith to hold communication with him after she would fain have had that
broken off." And then Prudence, with such detail as was within her
knowledge, explained how Judith had come to think that the young
stranger talked overmuch of Ben Jonson, and was anxious to show that her
father could write as well as he (or better, as she considered). And
then came the story of the lending of the sheets of the play, and
Prudence had to confess how that she had been Judith's accomplice on
many a former occasion in purloining and studying the treasures laid by
in the summer-house. She told all that she knew openly and simply and
frankly; and if she was in distress, it was with no thought of herself;
it was in thinking of her dear friend and companion away over there at
Shottery, who was all in ignorance of what was about to befall her.

Then the three women, being somewhat recovered from their dismay, but
still helpless and bewildered, and not knowing what to do, turned to
the parson. He had sat calm and collected, silent for the most part, and
reading in between the lines of the story his own interpretation.
Perhaps, also, he had been considering other possibilities--as to the
chances that such an occasion offered for gathering back to the fold an
errant lamb.

"What your father wants done, that is the first thing, sweetheart,"
Judith's mother said, in a tremulous and dazed kind of fashion. "As to
the poor wench, we will see about her afterward. And not a harsh word
will I send her; she will have punishment enough to bear--poor lass!
poor lass! So heedless and so headstrong she hath been always, but
always the quickest to suffer if a word were spoken to her; and now if
this story be put about, how will she hold up her head--she that was so
proud? But what your father wants done, Susan, that is the first
thing--that is the first thing. See what you can do to answer the letter
as he wishes: you are quicker to understand such things than I."

And then the parson spoke, in his clear, incisive, and authoritative

"Good madam, 'tis little I know of these matters in London; but if you
would have Judith questioned--and that might be somewhat painful to any
one of her relatives--I will go and see her for you, if you think fit.
If she have been the victim of knavish designs, 'twill be easy for her
to acquit herself; carelessness, perchance, may be the only charge to be
brought against her. And as I gather from Prudence that the sheets of
manuscript lent to the young man were in his possession for a certain
time, I make no doubt that the copy--if it came from this neighborhood
at all--was made by himself on those occasions, and that she had no hand
in the mischief, save in overtrusting a stranger. Doubtless your
husband, good madam, is desirous of having clear and accurate statements
on these and other points; whereas, if you, or Mistress Hall, or even
Prudence there, were to go and see Judith, natural affection and
sympathy might blunt the edge of your inquiries. You would be so anxious
to excuse (and who would not, in your place?) that the very information
asked for by your husband would be lost sight of. Therefore I am willing
to do as you think fitting. I may not say that my office lends any
special sanction to such a duty, for this is but a worldly matter; but
friendship hath its obligations: and if I can be of service to you,
good Mistress Shakespeare, 'tis far from repaying what I owe of godly
society and companionship to you and yours. These be rather affairs for
men to deal with than for women, who know less of the ways of the world;
and I take it that Judith, when she is made aware of her father's
wishes, will have no hesitation in meeting me with frankness and

It was this faculty of his of speaking clearly and well and to the point
that in a large measure gave him such an ascendency over those women; he
seemed always to see a straight path before him; to have confidence in
himself, and a courage to lead the way.

"Good sir, if you would have so much kindness," Judith's mother said.
"Truly, you offer us help and guidance in a dire necessity. And if you
will tell her what it is her father wishes to know, be sure that will be
enough; the wench will answer you, have no fear, good sir."

Then Susan said, when he was about to go:

"Worthy sir, you need not say to her all that you have heard concerning
the young man. I would liefer know what she herself thought of him; and
how they came together; and how he grew to be on such friendly terms
with her. For hitherto she hath been so sparing of her favor; though
many have wished her to change her name for theirs; but always the wench
hath kept roving eyes. Handsome was he, Prudence? And of gentle manners,
said you? Nay, I warrant me 'twas something far from the common that led
Judith such a dance."

But Prudence, when he was leaving, stole out after him; and when he was
at the door, she put her hand on his arm. He turned, and saw that the
tears were running down her face.

"Be kind to Judith," she said--not heeding that he saw her tears, and
still clinging to his arm; "be kind to Judith, from my heart I beg it of
you--I pray you be kind and gentle with her, good Master Blaise; for
indeed she is like an own sister to me."



As yet she was all unconscious; and indeed the dulness following her
father's departure was for her considerably lightened by this visit to
her grandmother's cottage, where she found a hundred duties and
occupations awaiting her. She was an expert needle-woman, and there were
many arrears in that direction to be made up: she managed the cooking,
and introduced one or two cunning dishes, to the wonder of the little
Cicely; she even tried her hand at carpentering, where a shelf, or the
frame of a casement, had got loose; and as a reward she was occasionally
invited to assist her grandmother in the garden. The old dame herself
grew wonderfully amiable and cheerful in the constant association with
this bright young life; and she had a great store of ballads with which
to beguile the tedium of sewing--though, in truth, these were for the
most part of a monotonous and mournful character, generally reciting the
woes of some poor maiden in Oxfordshire or Lincolnshire who had been
deceived by a false lover, and yet was willing to forgive him even as
she lay on her death-bed. As for Judith, she took to this quiet life
quite naturally and happily; and if she chanced to have time for a
stroll along the wooded lanes or through the meadows, she was now right
glad that there was no longer any fear of her being confronted by Master
Leofric Hope--or Jack Orridge, as he had called himself. Of course she
thought of him often, and of his courteous manners, and his eloquent and
yet modest eyes, and she hoped all was going well with him, and that she
might perchance hear of him through her father. Nor could she forget
(for she was but human) that the young man, when disguised as a wizard,
had said that he had heard her named as the fairest maid in
Warwickshire; and subsequently, in his natural character, that he had
heard Ben Jonson speak well of her looks, and she hoped that if ever he
recalled these brief interviews, he would consider that she had
maintained a sufficiency of maidenly dignity, and had not betrayed the
ignorance or awkwardness of a farm-bred wench. Nay, there were certain
words of his that she put some store by--as coming from a stranger. For
the rest, she was in no case likely to undervalue her appearance: her
father had praised her hair, and that was enough.

One morning she had gone down to the little front gate, for some
mischievous boys had lifted it off its hinges, and she wanted to get it
back again on the rusty iron spikes. But it had got jammed somehow, and
would not move; and in her pulling, some splinter of the wood ran into
her hand, causing not a little pain. Just at this moment--whether he had
come round that way on the chance of catching a glimpse of her, it is
hard to say--Tom Quiney came by; but on the other side of the road, and
clearly with no intention of calling at the cottage.

"Good-morrow, Judith," said he, in a kind of uncertain way, and would
have gone on.

Well, she was vexed and impatient with her fruitless efforts, and her
hand smarted not a little; so she looked at him and said, half angrily,

"I wish you would come and lift this gate."

It was but a trifling task for the tall and straight-limbed young fellow
who now strode across the highway. He jerked it up in a second, and then
set it down again on the iron spikes, where it swung in its wonted way.

"But your hand is bleeding, Judith!" he exclaimed.

"'Tis nothing," she said. "It was a splinter. I have pulled it out."

But he snatched her hand peremptorily, before she could draw it away,
and held it firmly and examined it.

"Why, there's a bit still there; I can see it."

"I can get it out for myself," said she.

"No, you cannot," he answered. "'Tis far easier for some one else. Stay
here a second, and I will fetch out a needle."

He went into the cottage, and presently reappeared, not only with a
needle, but also a tin vessel holding water, and a bit of linen and a
piece of thread. Then he took Judith's soft hand as gently as he could
in his muscular fingers, and began to probe for the small fragment of
wood, just visible there. He seemed a long time about it; perhaps he was
afraid of giving her pain.

"Do I hurt you, Judith?" he said.

"No," she answered, with some color of embarrassment in her face. "Be

"But I must be cautious," said he. "I would it were my own hand; I would
make short work of it."

"Let me try myself," said she, attempting to get away her hand from his

But he would not allow that; and in due time he managed to get the
splinter out. Then he dipped his fingers in the water and bathed the
small wound in that way; and then he must needs wrap the piece of linen
round her hand--very carefully, so that there should be no crease--and
thereafter fasten the bandage with the bit of thread. He did not look
like one who could perform a surgical operation with exceeding delicacy;
but he was as gentle as he could be, and she thanked him--in an
unwilling kind of way.

Then all at once her face brightened.

"Why," said she, "I hear that you gave my father a riding-whip on his

"Did you not see it, Judith?" he said, with some disappointment. "I
meant you to have seen it. The handle was of ivory, and of a rare

"I was not at the door when they went away--I met my father as they
passed along the road," said she. "But I shall see it, doubtless, when
he comes home again. And what said he? Was he pleased? He thanked you
right heartily, did he not?"

"Yes, truly; but 'twas a trifling matter."

"My father thinks more of the intention than of the value of such a
gift," said she--"as I would."

It was an innocent and careless speech, but it seemed to suddenly
inspire him with a kind of wild wish.

"Ah," said he, regarding her, "if you, Judith, now, would but take some
little gift from me--no matter what--that would be a day I should
remember all my life."

"Will you not come into the house?" said she, quickly. "My grandam will
be right glad to see you."

She would have led the way; but he hesitated.

"Nay, I will not trouble your grandmother, Judith," said he. "I doubt
not but that she hath had enough of visitors since you came to stay with

"Since I came?" she said, good-naturedly--for she refused to accept the
innuendo. "Why, let me consider, now. The day before yesterday my mother
walked over to see how we did; and before that--I think the day before
that--Mistress Wyse came in to tell us that they had taken a witch at
Abbots Morton; and then yesterday Farmer Bowstead called to ask if his
strayed horse had been seen anywhere about these lanes. There, now,
three visitors since I have come to the cottage: 'tis not a multitude."

"There hath been none other?" said he, looking at her with some

"Not another foot hath crossed the threshold to my knowledge," said she,
simply, and as if it were a matter of small concern.

But this intelligence seemed to produce a very sudden and marked
alteration in his manner. Not only would he accompany her into the
house, but he immediately became most solicitous about her hand.

"I pray you be careful, Judith," said he, almost as if he would again
take hold of her wrist.

"'Tis but a scratch," she said.

"Nay, now, if there be but a touch of rust, it might work mischief,"
said he, anxiously. "I pray you be careful; and I would bathe it
frequently, and keep on the bandage until you are sure that all is well.
Nay, I tell you this, Judith: there are more than you think of that
would liefer lose a finger than that you should have the smallest hurt."

And in-doors, moreover, he was most amiable and gentle and anxious to
please, and bore some rather sharp sayings of the old dame with great
good-nature; and whatever Judith said, or suggested, or approved of,
that was right, once and for all. She wished to hear more of the
riding-whip also. Where was the handle carved? Had her father expressed
any desire for such ornamentation?

"Truly 'twas but a small return for his kindness to us the other day,"
said the young man, who was half bewildered with delight at finding
Judith's eyes once more regarding him in the old frank and friendly
fashion, and was desperately anxious that they should continue so to
regard him (with no chilling shadow of the parson intervening). "For
Cornelius Greene being minded to make one or two more catches," he
continued--and still addressing those eyes that were at once so gentle
and so clear and so kind--"he would have me go to your father and beg
him to give us words for these, out of any books he might know of. Not
that we thought of asking him to write the words himself--far from
that--but to choose them for us; and right willingly he did so. In
truth, I have them with me," he added, searching for and producing a
paper with some written lines on it. "Shall I read them to you, Judith?"

He did not notice the slight touch of indifference with which she
assented; for when once she had heard that these compositions (whatever
they might be) were not her father's writing, she was not anxious to
become acquainted with them. But his concern, on the other hand, was to
keep her interested and amused and friendly; and Cornelius Greene and
his doings were at least something to talk about.

"The first one we think of calling 'Fortune's Wheel,'" said he; "and
thus it goes:

    'Trust not too much, if prosperous times do smile,
      Nor yet despair of rising, if thou fall:
    The Fatal Lady mingleth one with th' other,
      And lets not fortune stay, but round turns all.'

And the other one--I know not how to call it yet--but Cornelius takes it
to be the better of the two for his purpose; thus it is:

    'Merrily sang the Ely monks
      When rowed thereby Canute the King.
    "Row near, my Knights, row near the land,
      That we may hear the good monks sing."'

See you now how well it will go, Judith--_Merrily sang--merrily
sang--the Ely monks--the Ely monks--when rowed thereby_--CANUTE THE
KING!" said he, in a manner suggesting the air. "'Twill go excellent
well for four voices, and Cornelius is already begun. In truth, 'twill
be something new at our merry-meetings----"

"Ay, and what have you to say of your business, good Master Quiney?" the
old dame interrupted, sharply. "Be you so busy with your tavern catches
and your merry-makings that you have no thought of that?"

"Indeed, I have enough regard for that, good Mistress Hathaway," said
he, in perfect good-humor; "and it goes forward safely enough. But
methinks you remind me that I have tarried here as long as I ought; so
now I will get me back to the town."

He half expected that Judith would go to the door with him; and when she
had gone so far, he said,

"Will you not come a brief way across the meadows, Judith?--'tis not
well you should always be shut up in the cottage--you that are so fond
of out-of-doors."

He had no cause for believing that she was too much within-doors; but
she did not stay to raise the question; she good-naturedly went down the
little garden path with him, and across the road, and so into the
fields. She had been busy at work all the morning; twenty minutes'
idleness would do no harm.

Then, when they were quite by themselves, he said seriously:

"I pray you take heed, Judith, that you let not the blood flow too much
to your hand, lest it inflame the wound, however slight you may deem it.
See, now, if you would but hold it so, 'twould rest on mine, and be a
relief to you."

He did not ask her to take his arm, but merely that she should rest her
hand on his; and this seemed easy to do, and natural (so long as he was
not tired). But also it seemed very much like the time when they used to
go through those very meadows as boy and girl together, the tips of
their fingers intertwined: and so she spoke in a gentle and friendly
kind of fashion to him.

"And how is it with your business, in good sooth?" she asked. "I hope
there be no more of these junketings, and dancings, and brawls."

"Dear Judith," said he, "I know not who carries such tales of me to you.
If you knew but the truth, I am never in a brawl of mine own making or
seeking; but one must hold one's own, and the more that is done, the
less are any likely to interfere. Nay," he continued, with a modest
laugh, "I think I am safe for quiet now with any in Warwickshire; 'tis
only a strange lad now and again that may come among us and seek cause
of quarrel; and surely 'tis better to have it over and done with, and
either he or we to know our place? I seek no fighting for the love of
it; my life on that; but you would not have any stranger come into
Stratford a-swaggering, and biting his thumb at us, and calling us
rogues of fiddlers?"

"Mercy on us, then," she cried, "are you champion for the town--or
perchance for all of Warwickshire? A goodly life to look forward to! And
what give they their watch-dog? Truly they must reward him that keeps
such guard, and will do battle for them all?"

"Nay, I am none such, Judith," said he; "I but take my chance like the

He shifted her hand on his, that it might rest the more securely, and
his touch was gentle.

"And your merchandise--pray you, who is so kind as to look after that
when you are engaged in those pastimes?" she asked.

"I have no fault to find with my merchandise, Judith," said he. "That I
look after myself. I would I had more inducement to attend to it, and to
provide for the future. But it goes well; indeed it does."

"And Daniel Hutt?"

"He has left the country now."

"And his vagabond crew--have they all made their fortunes?"

"Why, Judith, they cannot have reached America yet," said he.

"I am glad that you have not gone," she remarked, simply.

"Well," he said, "why should I strive to push my fortunes there more
than here? To what end? There be none that I could serve either way."

And then it seemed to him that it was an ungracious speech; and he was
anxious to stand well with her, seeing that she was disposed to be

"Judith," he said, suddenly, "surely you will not remain over at
Shottery to-morrow, with all the merriment of the fair going on in the
town? Nay, but you must come over--I could fetch you, at any hour that
you named, if it so pleased you. There is a famous juggler come into the
town, as I hear, that can do the most rare and wonderful tricks, and
hath a dog as cunning as himself; and you will hear the new ballads, to
judge which you would have; and the peddlers would show you their
stores. Now, in good sooth, Judith, may not I come for you? Why, all the
others have someone to go about with them; and she will choose this or
that posy or ribbon, and wear it for the jest of the day; but I have no
one to walk through the crowd with me, and see the people, and hear the
bargainings and the music. I pray you, Judith, let me come for you. It
cannot be well for you always to live in such dulness as is over there
at Shottery."

"If I were to go to the fair with you," said she, and not unkindly,
"methinks the people would stare, would they not? We have not been such
intimate friends of late."

"You asked me not to go to America, Judith," said he.

"Well, yes," she admitted. "Truly I did so. Why should you go away with
those desperate and broken men? Surely 'tis better you should stay among
your own people."

"I stayed because you bade me, Judith," said he.

She flushed somewhat at this; but he was so eager not to embarrass or
offend her that he instantly changed the subject.

"May I, then, Judith? If you would come but for an hour!" he pleaded,
for he clearly wanted to show to everybody that Judith was under his
escort at the fair; and which of all the maidens (he asked himself)
would compare beside her? "Why, there is not one of them but hath his
companion, to buy for her some brooch, or pretty coif, or the like----"

"Are they all so anxious to lighten their purses?" said she, laughing.
"Nay, but truly I may not leave my grandmother, lest the good dame
should think that I was wearying of my stay with her. Pray you, get some
other to go to the fair with you--you have many friends, as I know, in
the town----"

"Oh, do you think 'tis the fair I care about?" said he, quickly. "Nay,
now, Judith, I would as lief not go to the fair at all--or but for a few
minutes--if you will let me bring you over some trinket in the
afternoon. Nay, a hundred times would I rather not go--if you would
grant me such a favor; 'tis the first I have asked of you for many a

"Why," she said, with a smile, "you must all of you be prospering in
Stratford, since you are all so eager to cast abroad your money. The
peddlers will do a rare trade to-morrow, as I reckon."

This was almost a tacit permission, and he was no such fool as to press
her for more. Already his mind ran riot--he saw himself ransacking all
the packs and stalls in the town.

"And now," she said, as she had come within sight of the houses, "I will
return now or the good dame will wonder."

"But I will walk back with you, Judith," said he, promptly.

She regarded him, with those pretty eyes of hers clearly laughing.

"Methought you came away from the cottage," said she, "because of the
claims of your business; and now you would walk all the way back again?"

"Your hand, Judith," said he, shamefacedly, "you must not let it hang
down by your side."

"Nay, for such a dangerous wound," said she, with her eyes gravely
regarding him, "I will take precautions; but cannot I hold it up
myself--so--if need were?"

He was so well satisfied with what he had gained that he would yield to
her now as she wished. And yet he took her hand once more, gently and
timidly, as if unwilling to give up his charge of it.

"I hope it will not pain you, Judith," he said.

"I trust it may not lead me to death's door," she answered, seriously;
and if her eyes were laughing, it was with no unkindness.

And then they said good-bye to each other, and she walked away back to
Shottery, well content to have made friends with him again, and to have
found him for the time being quit of his dark suspicions and jealousies
of her; while as for him, he went on to the town in a sort of
foreknowledge that all Stratford Fair would not have anything worthy to
be offered to Judith; and wondering whether he could not elsewhere, and
at once, and by any desperate effort, procure something fine and rare
and beautiful enough to be placed in that poor wounded hand.



Now when Parson Blaise set forth upon the mission that had been
intrusted to him, there was not a trace of anger or indignation in his
mind. He was not even moved by jealous wrath against the person with
whom Judith had been holding these clandestine communications, nor had
he any sense of having been himself injured by her conduct. For one
thing, he knew enough of Judith's pride and self-reliance to be fairly
well satisfied that she was not likely to have compromised herself in
any serious way; and for another, his own choice of her, from among the
Stratford maidens, as the one he wished to secure for helpmate, was the
result not so much of any overmastering passion as of a cool and
discriminating judgment. Nay, this very complication that had arisen,
might he not use it to his own advantage? Might it not prove an argument
more powerful than any he had hitherto tried? And so it was that he set
out, not as one armed to punish, but with the most placable intentions;
and the better to give the subject full consideration, he did not go
straight across the meadows to the cottage, but went through the town,
and away out the Alcester road, before turning round and making for

Nor did it occur to him that he was approaching this matter with any
mean or selfish ends in view. Far from that. The man was quite honest.
In winning Judith over to be his wife, by any means whatever, was he not
adding one more to the number of the Lord's people? Was he not saving
her from her own undisciplined and wayward impulses, and from all the
mischief that might arise from these? What was for his good was for her
good, and the good of the Church also. She had a winning way; she was
friends with many who rather kept aloof from the more austere of their
neighbors; she would be a useful go-between. Her cheerfulness, her good
temper, nay, her comely presence and bright ways--all these would be
profitably employed. Nor did he forget the probability of a handsome
marriage-portion, and the added domestic comfort and serenity that that
would bring himself. Even the marriage-portion (which he had no doubt
would be a substantial one) might be regarded as coming into the Church
in a way; and so all would work together for good.

When he reached the cottage he found the old dame in the garden, busy
with her flowers and vegetables, and was told that Judith had just gone
within-doors. Indeed, she had but that minute come back from her stroll
across the fields with Quiney, and had gone in to fetch a jug, so that
she might have some fresh water from the well in the garden. He met her
on the threshold.

"I would say a few words with you, Judith--and in private," said he.

She seemed surprised, but was in no ill-humor, so she said, "As you
will, good sir," and led the way into the main apartment, where she
remained standing.

"I pray you be seated," said he.

She was still more surprised; but she obeyed him, taking her seat under
the window, so that her face was in shadow, while the light from the
small panes fell full on him sitting opposite her.

"Judith," said he, "I am come upon a serious errand, and yet would not
alarm you unnecessarily. Nay, I think that when all is done, good may
spring out of the present troubles----"

"What is it?" she said quickly. "Is any one ill? my mother----"

"No, Judith," he said; "'tis no trial of that kind you are called to
face. The Lord hath been merciful to you and yours these several years;
while others have borne the heavy hand of affliction and lost their
dearest at untimeous seasons, you have been spared for many years now,
all but such trials as come in the natural course: would I could see you
as thankful as you ought to be to the Giver of all good. And yet I know
not but that grief over such afflictions is easier to bear than grief
over the consequences of our own wrong-doing; memory preserves this last
the longer; sorrow is not so enduring, nor cuts so deep, as remorse. And
then to think that others have been made to suffer through our
evil-doing--that is an added sting; when those who have expected naught
but filial obedience and duty--and the confidence that should exist
between children and their parents----"

But this phrase about filial obedience had struck her with a sudden

"I pray you, what is it, sir? What have I done?" she said, almost in a

Then he saw that he had gone too fast and too far.

"Nay, Judith," he said, "be not over-alarmed. 'Tis perchance but
carelessness, and a disposition to trust yourself in all circumstances
to your own guidance that have to be laid to your charge. I hope it may
be so; I hope matters may be no worse; 'tis for yourself to say. I come
from your mother and sister, Judith," he continued, in measured tones.
"I may tell you at once that they have learned of your having been in
secret communication with a stranger who has been in these parts, and
they would know the truth. I will not seek to judge you beforehand, nor
point out to you what perils and mischances must ever befall you, so
long as you are bent on going your own way, without government or
counsel; that you must now perceive for yourself--and I trust the lesson
will not be brought home to you too grievously."

"Is that all?" Judith had said quickly to herself, and with much relief.

"Good sir," she said to him, coolly, "I hope my good mother and Susan
are in no bewilderment of terror. 'Tis true, indeed, that there was one
in this neighborhood whom I met and spoke with on several occasions; if
there was secrecy, 'twas because the poor young gentleman was in
hiding; he dared not even present the letter that he brought commending
him to my father. Nay, good Master Blaise, I pray you comfort my mother
and sister, and assure them there was no harm thought of by the poor
young man."

"I know not that, Judith," said he, with his clear, observant eyes
trying to read her face in the dusk. "But your mother and sister would
fain know what manner of man he was, and what you know of him, and how
he came to be here."

Then the fancy flashed across her mind that this intervention of his was
but the prompting of his own jealousy, and that he was acting as the
spokesman of her mother and sister chiefly to get information for

"Why, sir," said she, lightly, "I think you might as well ask these
questions of my grandmother, that knoweth about as much as I do
concerning the young man, and was as sorry as I for his ill fortunes."

"I pray you take not this matter so heedlessly, Judith," he said, with
some coldness. "'Tis of greater moment than you think. No idle curiosity
has brought me hither to-day; nay, it is with the authority of your
family that I put these questions to you, and I am charged to ask you to
answer them with all of such knowledge as you may have."

"Well, well," said she, good-naturedly; "his name----"

She was about to say that his name was Leofric Hope, but she checked
herself, and some color rose to her face--though he could not see that.

"His name, good sir, as I believe, is John Orridge," she continued, but
with no embarrassment; indeed she did not think that she had anything
very serious either to conceal or to confess; "and I fear me the young
man is grievously in debt, or otherwise forced to keep away from those
that would imprison him; and being come to Warwickshire he brought a
letter to my father, but was afraid to present it. He hath been to the
cottage here certain times, for my grandmother, as well as I, was
pleased to hear of the doings in London; and right civil he was, and
well-mannered; and 'twas news to us to hear about the theatres, and my
father's way of living there. But why should my mother and Susan seek to
know aught of him? Surely Prudence hath not betrayed the trust I put in
her--for indeed the young man was anxious that his being in the
neighborhood should not be known to any in Stratford. However, as he is
now gone away, and that some weeks ago, 'tis of little moment, as I
reckon; and if ever he cometh back here, I doubt not but that he will
present himself at New Place, that they may judge of him as they please.
That he can speak for himself, and to advantage and goodly showing, I
know right well."

"And that is all you can say of this man, Judith," said he, with some
severity in his tone--"with this man that you have been thus familiar

"Marry is it!" she said, lightly. "But I have had guesses, no doubt; for
first I thought him a gentleman of the Court, he being apparently
acquainted with all the doings there; and then methought he was nearer
to the theatres, from his knowledge of the players. But you would not
have had me ask the young man as to his occupation and standing, good
sir? 'Twould have been unseemly in a stranger, would it not? Could I
dare venture on questions, he being all unknown to any of us?"

And now a suspicion flashed upon him that she was merely befooling him,
so he came at once and sharply to the point.

"Judith," said he, endeavoring to pierce with his keen eyes the dusk
that enshrouded her, "you have not told me all. How came he to have a
play of your father's in his possession?"

"Now," said she, with a quick anger, "that is ill done of Prudence! No
one but Prudence knew; and for so harmless a secret--and that all over
and gone, moreover--and the young man himself away, I know not
where--nay, by my life! I had not thought that Prudence would serve me
so. And to what end? Why, good sir, I myself lent the young man the
sheets of my father's writing--they were the sheets that were thrown
aside--and I got each and all of them safely back, and replaced them.
Prudence knew what led me to lend him my father's play; and where was
the harm of it? I thought not that she would go and make trouble out of
so small a thing."

By this time the good parson had come to see pretty clearly how matters
stood--what with Prudence's explanations and Judith's present
confessions; and he made no doubt that this stranger--whether from
idleness, or for amusement, or with some more sinister purpose, he had
no means of knowing--had copied the play when he had taken the sheets
home with him to the farm; while as to the appearance in London of the
copy so taken, it was sufficiently obvious that Judith was in complete
ignorance, and could afford no information whatever. So that now the
first part of his mission was accomplished. He asked her a few more
questions, and easily discovered that she knew nothing whatever about
the young man's position in life, or whether he had gone straight from
the farm to London, or whether he was in London now. As to his being in
possession, or having been in possession, of a copy of her father's
play, it was abundantly evident that she had never dreamed of any such

And now he came to the more personal part of his mission, that was for
him much more serious.

"Judith," said he, "'tis not like you should know what sad and grievous
consequences may spring from errors apparently small. How should you?
You will take no heed or caution. The advice of those who would be
nearest and dearest to you is of no account with you. You will go your
own way--as if one of your years and experience could know the pitfalls
that lie in a young maiden's path. The whole of life is but a jest to
you--a tale without meaning--something to pass the hour withal. And
think you that such blindness and wilfulness bring no penalty? Nay,
sooner or later the hour strikes; you look back and see what you have
done--and the offers of safe guidance that you have neglected or thrust

"I pray you, sir, what is it now?" she said, indifferently (and with a
distinct wish that he would go away and release her, and let her get out
into the light again). "Methought I had filled up the measure of my

"Thus it is--thus it will be always," said he, with a kind of
hopelessness, "so long as you harden your heart and have no thought but
for the vanities of the moment." And then he addressed her more
pointedly. "But even now methinks I can tell you what will startle you
out of your moral sloth, which is an offence in the eyes of the Lord, as
it is a cause for pity and almost despair to all who know you. It was a
light matter, you think, that you should hold this secret commerce with
a stranger; careless of the respect due to your father's house; careless
of the opinion and the anxious wishes of your friends; careless, even,
of your good name----"

"My good name?" said she, quickly and sharply. "I pray you, sir, have
heed what you say."

"Have heed to what I have to tell you, Judith," said he, sternly. "Ay,
and take warning by it. Think you that I have pleasure in being the
bearer of evil tidings?"

"But what now, sir? What now? Heaven's mercy on us, let us get to the
end of the dreadful deeds I have done!" she exclaimed, with some anger
and impatience.

"I would spare you, but may not," said he, calmly. "And, now, what if I
were to tell you that this young man whom you encouraged into secret
conversation--whose manners seemed to have had so much charm for
you--was a rascal, thief, and villain? How would your pride bear it if I
told you that he had cozened you with some foolish semblance of a

"Good sir, I know it," she retorted. "He himself told me as much."

"Perchance. Perchance 'twas part of his courteous manners to tell you as
much!" was the scornful rejoinder. "But he did not tell you all--he did
not tell you that he had copied out every one of those sheets of your
father's writing; that he was about to carry that stolen copy to London,
like the knave and thief that he was; that he was to offer it for money
to the booksellers. He did not tell you that soon your father and his
associates in the theatre would be astounded by learning that a copy of
the new play had been obtained, in some dark fashion, and sold; that it
was out of their power to recover it; that their interests would be
seriously affected by this vile conspiracy; or that they would by and by
discover that this purloined play, which was like to cause them so much
grievous loss and vexation of mind, had been obtained here--in this very
neighborhood--and by the aid of no other than your father's daughter."

"Who--told--you--this?" she asked in a strange, stunned way: her eyes
were terror-stricken, her hands all trembling.

"A good authority," said he--"your father. A letter is but now come from

She uttered a low, shuddering cry; it was a moan almost.

"See you now," said he (for he knew that all her bravery was struck
down, and she entirely at his mercy), "what must ever come of your
wilfulness and your scorn of those who would aid and guide you? Loving
counsel and protection are offered you--the natural shield of a woman;
but you must needs go your own way alone. And to what ends? Think you
that this is all? Not so. For the woman who makes to herself her own
rule of conduct must be prepared for calumnious tongues. And bethink
you what your father must have thought of you--the only daughter of his
household now--when he learned the story of this young man coming into
Warwickshire, and befooling you with his wizard's tricks, and meeting
you secretly, and cozening you of the sheets of your father's play.
These deeds that are done in the dark soon reach to daylight; and can
you wonder, when your father found your name abroad in London--the
heroine of a common jest--a byword--that his vexation and anger should
overmaster him? What marvel that he should forthwith send to Stratford,
demanding to know what further could be learned of the matter--perchance
fondly trusting, who knows, to find that rumor had lied? But there is no
such hope for him--nor for you. What must your mother say in reply? What
excuse can she offer? Or how make reparation to those associates of your
father who suffer with him? And how get back your good name, that is
being bandied about the town as the heroine of a foolish jest? Your
father may regain possession of his property--I know not whether that be
possible or no--but can he withdraw the name of his daughter from the
ribald wit of the taverns? And I know which he valueth the more highly,
if his own daughter know it not."

He had struck hard; he knew not how hard.

"My father wrote thus?" she said; and her head was bent, and her hands
covering her face.

"I read the letter no more than an hour ago," said he. "Your mother and
sister would have me come over to see whether such a story could be
true; but Prudence had already admitted as much----"

"And my father is angered?" she said, in that low, strange voice.

"Can you wonder at it?" he said.

Again there came an almost inarticulate moan, like that of an animal
stricken to death.

As for him, he had now the opportunity of pouring forth the discourse to
her that he had in a measure prepared as he came along the highway. He
knew right well that she would be sorely wounded by this terrible
disclosure; that the proud spirit would be in the dust; that she would
be in a very bewilderment of grief. And he thought that now she might
consent to gentle leading, and would trust herself to the only one
(himself, to wit) capable of guiding her through her sorrows; and he had
many texts and illustrations apposite. She heard not one word. She was
as motionless as one dead; and the vision that rose before her burning
brain was the face of her father as she had seen it for a moment in the
garden, on the morning of his departure. That terrible swift look of
anger toward old Matthew she had never forgotten--the sudden lowering of
the brows, the flash in the eyes, the strange contraction of the mouth;
and that was what she saw now--that was how he was regarding her--and
that, she knew, would be the look that would meet her always and always
as she lay and thought of him in the long, wakeful nights. She could not
go to him. London was far away. She could not go to him and throw
herself at his feet, and beg and pray with outstretched and trembling
hands for but one word of pity. The good parson had struck hard.

And yet in a kind of way he was trying to administer consolation--at all
events, counsel. He was enlarging on the efficacy of prayer. And he said
that if the Canaanitish woman of old had power to intercede for her
daughter, and win succor for her, surely that would not be denied to
such an one as Judith's mother, if she sought, for her daughter,
strength and fortitude in trouble where alone these could be found.

"The Canaanitish woman," said he, "had but the one saving grace, but
that an all-powerful one, of faith; and even when the disciples would
have her sent away, she followed worshipping, and saying 'Lord, help
me.' And the Lord himself answered and said, 'It is not good to take the
children's bread, and to cast it to whelps.' But she said, 'Truth, Lord;
yet indeed the whelps eat of the crumbs which fall from their master's
table.' Then our Lord answered, and said, 'O woman, great is thy faith;
be it to thee as thou desirest.' And her daughter was made whole at that

Judith started up; she had not heard a single word.

"I pray you, pardon me, good sir," she said, for she was in a
half-frantic state of misery and despair; "my--my grandmother will speak
with you--I--I pray you pardon me----"

She got up into her own little chamber--she scarce knew how. She sat
down on the bed. There were no tears in her eyes, but there was a
terrible weight on her chest that seemed to stifle her; and she was
breathless, and could not think aright, and her trembling hands were
clinched. Sometimes she wildly thought she wanted Prudence to come to
her; and then a kind of shudder possessed her--and a wish to go
away--she cared not where--and be seen no more. That crushing weight
increased, choking her; she could not rest; she rose, and went quickly
down the stair, and through the garden into the road.

"Judith, wench!" called her grandmother, who was talking to the parson.

She took no heed. She went blindly on; and all these familiar things
seemed so different now. How could the children laugh so? She got into
the Bidford road; she did not turn her eyes toward any whom she met, to
see whether she knew them or no--there was enough within her own brain
for her to think of. She made her way to the summit of Bardon Hill, and
there she looked over the wide landscape; but it was toward London that
she looked, and with a strange and trembling fear. And then she seemed
anxious to hide away from being seen, and went down by hedge-rows and
field-paths, and at last she was by the river. She regarded it, flowing
so stealthily by, in the sad and monotonous silence. Here was an easy
means of slipping away from all this dread thing that seemed to surround
her and overwhelm her--to glide away as noiselessly and peacefully as
the river itself to any unknown shore, she cared not what. And then she
sat down, still looking vaguely and absently at the water, and began to
think of all that had happened to her on the banks of this stream; and
she looked at these visionary pictures and at herself in them as if they
were apart and separated from her, and she never to be like that again.
Was it possible that she ever could have been so careless and so happy,
with no weight at all resting on her heart, but singing out of mere
thoughtlessness, and teaching Willie Hart the figures of dances, herself
laughing the while? It seemed a long time ago now, and that he was cut
off from her too, and all of them, and that there was to be no expiation
for evermore for this that she had done.

How long she sat there she knew not. Everything was a blank to her but
this crushing consciousness that what had happened could never be
recalled; that her father and she were forever separated now--and his
face regarding her with the terrible look she had seen in the garden;
that all the happy past was cut away from her, and she an outcast, and a
byword, and a disgrace to all that knew her. And then she thought, in
the very weariness of her misery, that if she could only walk away
anywhere--anywhere alone, so that no one should meet her or question
her--until she was broken and exhausted with fatigue, she would then go
back to her own small room, and lie down on the bed, and try if sleep
would procure some brief spell of forgetfulness, some relief from her
aching head and far heavier heart. But when she rose she found that she
was trembling from weakness, and a kind of shiver as of cold went
through her, though the autumn day was warm enough. She walked slowly,
and almost dragged herself, all the way home. Her hand shook so that she
could scarce undo the latch of the gate. She heard her grandmother in
the inner apartment, but she managed to creep noiselessly up-stairs into
her own little chamber, and there she sank down on the bed, and lay in a
kind of stupor, pressing her hands on her throbbing brow.

It was some two hours afterward that her grandmother, who did not know
that Judith had returned, was walking along the little passage, and was
startled by hearing a low moaning above--a kind of dull cry of pain--so
slight that she had to listen again ere she could be sure that it was
not mere fancy. Instantly she went up the few wooden steps and opened
the door. Judith was lying on the bed, with all her things on, just as
she had seen her go forth. And then--perhaps the noise of the opening of
the door had wakened her--she started up, and looked at her grandmother
in a wild and dazed kind of way, as if she had just shaken off some
terrible dream.

"Oh, grandmother," she said, springing to her, and clinging to her like
a child, "it is not true--it is not true--it cannot be true!"

But then she fell to crying--crying as if her heart would break. The
whole weight of her misery came back upon her, and the hopelessness of
it, and her despair.

"Why, good lass," said her grandmother, smoothing the sun-brown hair
that was buried in her bosom, and trying to calm the violence of the
girl's sobbing, "thou must not take on so. Thy father may be angered,
'tis true, but there will come brighter days for thee. Nay, take not on
so, good lass!"

"Oh, grandmother, you cannot understand!" she said, and her whole form
was shaken with sobs. "You cannot understand. Grandmother, grandmother,
there was--there was but the one rose--in my garden--and that is gone



Late that night, in the apartment below, Tom Quiney was seated by the
big fireplace, staring moodily into the chips and logs that had been lit
there, the evenings having grown somewhat chill now. There was a little
parcel lying unopened and unheeded on the table. He had not had patience
to wait for the fair of the morrow; he had ridden all the way to Warwick
to purchase something worthy of Judith's acceptance, and he had come
over to the cottage in high hopes of her being still in that kindly mood
that reminded him of other days. Then came the good dame's story of what
had befallen; and how that the parson had been over, bringing with him
these terrible tidings; and how that since then Judith would not hear of
any one being sent for, and would take no food, but was now lying there,
alone in the dark, moaning to herself at times. And the good dame--as
this tall young fellow sat there listening to her, with his fists
clinched, and the look on his face ever growing darker--went on to
express her fear that the parson had been over-hard with her grandchild;
that probably he could not understand how her father had been the very
idol of her life-long worship; that the one thing she was ever thinking
of was how to win his approval--to be rewarded by even a nod of

"Nay, I liked not the manner of his speaking, when he wur come to me in
the garden," the old dame continued. "I liked it not. He be sharp of
tongue, the young pahrson, and there were too much to my mind of
discipline, and chastening of proud spirits, and the like o' that. To my
mind he have not years enough to be placed in such authority."

"The Church is behind him," said this young fellow, almost to himself,
and his eyes were burning darkly as he spoke. "I may not put hand on
him. The Church is behind him. Marry, 'tis a goodly shelter for men that
be of the woman kind."

Then he looked up quickly, and his words were savage.--"What think you,
good grandmother, were one to seize him by the neck and heel and break
his back on the rail of Clopton's bridge? Were it not well done? By my
life I think it were well done!"

"Nay, nay, now," said she, quickly, for she was somewhat alarmed, seeing
his face set hard with passion and his eyes afire. "I would have no
brawling. There be plenty of harm done already. Perchance the good
pahrson hath not spoken so harshly after all. In good sooth, now, none
but her own people can understand how the wench hath ever looked up to
her father--for a word or a nod commending her, as I say--and when she
be told now that she hath wrought mischief, and caused herself to be
talked about, and her father vexed, and all the rest of the tale, why
'tis like to drive her out of her mind. And now this be all her
cry--that she may see no one of her people any more, she would bide with
me here; 'Grandmother, grandmother,' she saith, 'I will bide with you,
if you will suffer me. I will show myself in Stratford no more; they
shall have no shame through me.' Nay, but the wench be half out of her
senses, as I think, and saith wild things--that she would go and sell
herself to be a slave in the Indies, could she restore the money to her
father or bring him back this that he hath lost. 'Tis a terrible plight
for the poor wench; and always she saith, 'Grandmother, grandmother, let
me bide with you; I will never go back to New Place; grandmother, I can
work as well as any, and you will let me bide with you.' Poor lass--poor

"But how came the parson to interfere?" Quiney said, hotly. "I'll be
sworn Judith's father did not write to him. How came he to be preaching
his discipline and chastisement? How came he to be intrusted with the
task of abusing her and crushing the too proud spirit? By heavens, now,
there may be occasion erelong to tame some one's proud spirit, but not
the spirit of a defenceless young maid--marry, that is work fit only for
parsons. Man to man is the better way--and it will come erelong."

"Nay, softly, softly, good Master Quiney," said the old dame in her
gentlest tones. "Would you mar all the good opinion that Judith hath of
you? Why, to-day, now, just ere the parson came, I wur in the garden,
putting things straight a bit, and as she came through she says to me,
quite pleasant-like, I have just been across the fields, grandmother,
with Master Quiney--or Tom Quiney, as she said, being friendly and
pleasant-like--and I hear less now of his quarrelling and fighting among
the young men; and his business goeth on well; and to-morrow,
grandmother, he is going to buy me something at the fair."

"Said she all that?" he asked, quickly, and with a flush of color
rushing to his face.

"Marry did she, and looked pleased; for 'tis a right friendly wench, and
good-natured withal," the old dame said, glad to see that these words
had for the moment scattered his wrath to the winds; and she went on for
some little time talking to him in her garrulous easy fashion about
Judith's frank and honest qualities, and her goodhearted ways, and the
pretty daintinesses of her coaxing when she was so inclined. It was a
story he was not loath to listen to, and yet it seemed so strange; they
were talking of her almost as of one passed away--as if the girl lying
there in that darkened room, instead of torturing her brain with
incessant and lightning-like visions of all the harm she had caused in
London, were now far removed from all such troubles, and hushed in the
calm of death.

He went to the table and opened the box, and took out the little present
he had brought for Judith. It was a pair of lace cuffs, with a slender
silver circle at the wrist, the lace going back from that in a
succession of widening leaves. It was not only a pretty present, it was
also (in proportion to his means) a costly one, as the old dame's sharp
eyes instantly saw.

"I think she would have been pleased with them," he said, absently. And
then he said,

"Good grandmother, it were of no use to lay them near her in the
morning--on a chair or at the window--that perchance she might look at

"Nay, nay," the grandmother said, shaking her head, "'tis no child's
trouble that hath befallen the poor wench, that she can be comforted
with pretty trifles."

"I meant not that," said he, flushing somewhat. "'Tis that I would have
her know that--that there were friends thinking of her all the
same--those that would rather have her gladdened and tended and made
much of, than--than--chidden with any chastisement."

This word chastisement seemed to recall his anger.

"I say that Judith hath done no wrong at all," he said, as if he were
confronting some one not there; "and that I will maintain; and let no
man in my hearing say aught else. Why, now, the story as you tell it,
good grandmother--'tis as plain as daylight--a child can see it--all
that she did was done to magnify her father and his writing; and if the
villain sold the play--or let it slip out of his hands--was that her
doing? Doubtless it is a sore mischance; but I see not that Judith is to
be blamed for it; and right well I know that if her father were to hear
how she is smitten down with grief he would be the first to say, 'Good
lass, there is no such harm done. A great harm would be your falling
sick; get you up and out, seek your friends again, and be happy as you
were before.' That is what he would say, I will take my oath of it; and
if the parson and his chastisements were to come across him, by my life
I would not seek to be in the parson's shoes!"

"I must make another trial with the poor wench," said the good
grandmother, rising, "that hath eaten nothing all the day. In truth her
only crying is to be left alone now, and that hereafter I am to let her
bide with me. It be a poor shelter, I think, for one used to live in a
noble house; but there 'tis, so long as she wisheth it."

"Nay, but this cannot be suffered to go on, good Mistress Hathaway,"
said he, as he rose and got his cap; "for if Judith take no food, and
will see no one, and be alone with her trouble, of a surety she will
fall ill. Now to-morrow morning I will bring Prudence over. If any can
comfort her, Prudence can; and that she will be right willing, I know.
They have been as sisters."

"That be well thought of, Master Quiney," said the grandmother, as she
went to the door with him. "Take care o' the ditch the other side of the
way; it be main dark o' nights now."

"Good-night to you, good grandmother," said he, as he disappeared in the

But it was neither back home nor yet to Stratford town that Tom Quiney
thought of going all that long night. He felt a kind of constraint upon
him (and yet a constraint that kept his heart warm with a secret
satisfaction) that he should play the part of a watch-dog, as it
were--as if Judith were sorely ill, or in danger, or in need of
protection somehow; and he kept wandering about in the dark, never at
any great radius from the cottage. His self-imposed task was the easier
now that, as the black clouds overhead slowly moved before the soft
westerly wind, gaps were opened, and here and there clusters of stars
were visible, shedding a faint light down on the sombre roads and fields
and hedges. Many strange fancies occurred to him during that long and
silent night, as to what he could do, or would like to do, for Judith's
sake. Breaking the parson's neck was the first and most natural, and
the most easily accomplished; but fleeing the country, which he knew
must follow, did not seem so desirable a thing. He wanted to do
something--he knew not what. He wished he had been less of a companion
with the young men, and less careful to show, with them, that Stratford
town and the county of Warwick could hold their own against all comers.
If he had been more considerate and gentle with Judith, perhaps she
would not have sought the society of the parson. He knew he had not the
art of winning her over, like the parson. He could not speak so
plausibly. Nor had he the authority of the Church behind him. It was
natural for women to think much of that, and to be glad of the shelter
of authority. Parsons themselves (he considered) were a kind of half
women, being in women's secrets, and entitled to speak to them in
ghostly confidence. But if Judith, now, wanted some one to do something
for her, no matter what, in his rough-and-ready way--well, he wondered
what that could be that he would refuse. And so the dark hours went by.

With the gray of the dawn he began to cast his eyes abroad, as if to see
if any one were stirring, or approaching the cluster of cottages nestled
down there among the trees. The daylight widened and spread up in the
trembling east; the fields and the woods became clear; here and there a
small tuft of blue smoke began to arise from a cottage chimney. And now
he was on Bardon Hill, and could look abroad over the wide landscape
lying between Shottery and Stratford town; and if any one--any one
bringing lowering brows and further cruel speech to a poor maid already
stricken down and defenceless--had been in sight, what then? Watchfully
and slowly he went down from the hill, and back to the meadows lying
between the hamlet and Stratford, there to interpose, as it were, and
question all comers. And well it was, for the sake of peace and charity,
that the good parson did not chance to be early abroad on this still
morning; and well it was for the young man himself. There was no
wise-eyed Athene to descend from the clouds and bid this wrathful
Achilles calm his heart. He was only an English country youth, though
sufficiently Greek-like in form; and he was hungry and gray-faced with
his vigil of the night, and not in a placable mood. Nay, when a young
man is possessed with the consciousness that he is the defender of some
one behind him--some one who is weak and feminine and suffering--he is
apt to prove a dangerous antagonist; and it was well for all concerned
that he had no occasion to pick a quarrel on this morning in these quiet
meadows. In truth he might have been more at rest had he known that the
good parson was in no hurry to follow up his monitions of the previous
day; he wished these to sink into her mind and take root there, so that
thereafter might spring up such wholesome fruits as repentance and
humility, and the desire of godly aid and counsel.

By-and-by he slipped away home, plunged his head into cold water to
banish the dreams of the night, and then, having swallowed a cup of milk
to stay his hunger, he went along to Chapel Street, to see if he could
have speech of Prudence. He found that not only were all of the
household up and doing, but that Prudence herself was ready to go out,
being bent on one of her charitable errands; and it needed but a word to
alter the direction of her kindness: of course she would at once go to
see Judith.

"Truly I had fears of it," said she, as they went through the fields,
the pale, calm face having grown more and more anxious as she listened
to all that he had to tell her. "Her father was as the light of the
world to her. With the others of us she hath ever been headstrong in a
measure, and careless--and yet so lovable withal, and merry, that I for
one could never withstand her--nay, I confess I tried not to withstand
her, for never knew I of any wilfulness of hers springing from anything
but good-nature and her kind and generous ways. But that she was ever
ready to brave our opinions I know, and perchance make light of our
anxieties, we not having her courage; and in all things she seemed to be
a guide unto herself, and to walk sure and have no fear. In all things
but one. Indeed 'tis true what her grandmother told you, and who should
know better than I, who was always with her? The slightest wish of her
father's--that was law to her. A word of commending from him, and she
was happy for days. And think what this must be now--she that was so
proud of his approval--that scarce thought of aught else. Nay, for
myself I can see that they have told him all a wrong story in London,
that know I well; and 'tis no wonder that he is vexed and angry; but
Judith--poor Judith----"

She could say no more just then; she turned aside her face somewhat.

"Do you know what she said to her grandmother, Prudence, when she fell
a crying? that there had been but the one rose in her garden, and that
was gone now."

"'Tis what Susan used to sing," said Prudence, with rather trembling
lips. "'_The rose is from my garden gone_,' 'twas called. Ay, and hath
she that on her mind now? Truly I wish that her mother and Susan had let
me break this news to her; none know as well as I what it must be to

And here Tom Quiney quickly asked her whether it was not clear to her
that the parson had gone beyond his mission altogether--and that in a
way that would have to be dealt with afterward, when all these things
were amended? Prudence, with some faint color in her pale face, defended
Master Blaise to the best of her power, and said she knew he could not
have been unduly harsh; nay, had she not herself, just as he was setting
forth, besought him to be kind and considerate with Judith? Hereupon
Quiney rather brusquely asked what the good man could mean by phrases
about discipline and chastenings and chastisements; to which Prudence
answered gently that these were but separate words, and that she was
sure Master Blaise had fulfilled what he undertook in a merciful spirit,
which was his nature. After that there was a kind of silence between
these two; perhaps Quiney considered that no good end could be served at
present by stating his own ideas on that subject. The proper time would
come, in due course.

At length they reached the cottage. But here, to their amazement, and to
the infinite distress of Prudence, when Judith's grandmother came down
the wooden steps again, she shook her head, saying that the wench would
see no one.

"I thought as 'twould be so," she said.

"But me, good grandmother! Me!" Prudence cried, with tears in her eyes.
"Surely she will not refuse to see me!"

"No one, she saith," was the answer. "Poor wench, her head do ache so
bad. And when one would cheer her or comfort her a morsel, 'tis another
fit of crying--that will wear her to skin and bone, if she do not pluck
up better heart. She hath eaten naught this morning neither; 'tis for no
wilfulness, poor lass, for she tried an hour ago; and now 'tis best as I
think to leave her alone."

"By your leave, good grandmother," said Prudence, with some firmness,
"that will I not. If Judith be in such trouble, 'tis not likely that I
should go away and leave her. It hath never been the custom between us

"As you will, Prudence," the grandmother said. "Young hearts have their
confidences among themselves. Perchance you may be able to rouse her."

Prudence went up the stairs silently and opened the door. Judith was
lying on the bed, her face turned away from the light, her hands clasped
over her forehead.


There was no answer.

"Judith," said her friend, going near, "I am come to see you."

There was a kind of sob--that was all.

"Judith, is your head so bad? Can I do nothing for you?"

She put over her hand--the soft and cool and gentle touch of which had
comforted many a sick-bed--and she was startled to find that both
Judith's hands and forehead were burning hot.

"No, sweetheart," was the answer, in a low and broken voice, "you can do
nothing for me now."

"Nay, nay, Judith, take heart," Prudence said, and she gently removed
the hot fingers from the burning forehead, and put her own cooler hand
there, as if to dull the throbbing of the pain. "Sweetheart, be not so
cast down! 'Twill be all put right in good time."

"Never--never!" the girl said, without tears, but with an abject
hopelessness of tone. "It can never be undone now. He said my name was
become a mockery among my father's friends. For myself, I would not heed
that--nay, they might say of me what they pleased--but that my father
should hear of it--a mockery and scorn--and they think I cared so little
for my father that I was ready to give away his papers to any one
pretending to be a sweetheart and befooling me--and my father to know it
all, and to hear such things said--no, that can never be undone now. I
used to count the weeks and the days and the very hours when I knew he
was coming back--that was the joy of my life to me--and now, if I were
to know that he were coming near to Stratford I should fly and hide
somewhere--anywhere--in the river as lief as not. Nay, I make no
complaint. 'Tis my own doing, and it cannot be undone now."

"Judith, Judith, you break my heart!" her friend cried. "Surely to all
troubles there must come an end."

"Yes, yes," was the answer, in a low voice, and almost as if she were
speaking to herself. "That is right. There will come an end. I would it
were here now."

All Prudence's talking seemed to be of no avail. She reasoned and
besought--oftentimes with tears in her eyes--but Judith remained quite
listless and hopeless; she seemed to be in a stunned and dazed condition
after the long sleeplessness of the night; and Prudence was afraid that
further entreaties would only aggravate her headache.

"I will go and get you something to eat now," said she. "Your
grandmother says you have had nothing since yesterday."

"Do not trouble; 'tis needless, sweetheart," Judith said; and then she
added with a brief shiver, "but if you could fetch a thick cloak, dear
Prudence, and throw it over me--surely the day is cold somewhat."

A few minutes after (so swift and eager was everybody in the house)
Judith was warmly wrapped up; and by the side of the bed, on a chair,
was some food the good grandmother had been keeping ready, and also a
flask of wine that Quiney had brought with him.

"Look you, Judith," said Prudence, "here is some wine that Thomas Quiney
hath brought for you--'tis of a rare quality, he saith--and you must
take a little. Nay, you must and shall, sweetheart; and then perchance
you may be able to eat."

She sipped a little of the wine; it was but to show her gratitude and
send him her thanks. She could not touch the food. She seemed mostly
anxious for rest and quiet; and so Prudence noiselessly left her and
stole down the stair again.

Prudence was terribly perplexed and in a kind of despair almost.

"I know not what to do," she said. "I would bring over her mother and
Susan, but that she begs and prays me not to do that--nay, she cannot
see them she says. And there is no reasoning with her. It cannot be
undone now--that is her constant cry. What to do I cannot tell; for
surely, if she remain so, and take no comfort, she will fall ill."

"Ay, and if that be so who is to blame?" said Quiney, who was walking up
and down in considerable agitation. "I say that letter should never have
been put into the parson's hands. Was it meant to be conveyed to Judith?
I warrant me it was not! Did her father say that he wished her chidden?
did he ask any of you to bid the parson go to her with his upbraidings?
would he himself have been so quick and eager to chasten her proud
spirit? I tell you no. He is none of the parson kind. Vexed he might
have been, but he would have taken no vengeance. What--on his own child?
By heavens, I'll be sworn now that if he were here, at this minute, he
would take the girl by the hand, and laugh at her for being so afraid of
his anger--ay, I warrant me he would--and would bid her be of good
cheer, and brighten her face, that was ever the brightest in
Warwickshire, as I have heard him say. That would he--my life on it!"

"Ah," said Prudence, wistfully, "if you could only persuade Judith of

"Persuade her?" said he. "Why, I would stake my life that is what her
father would do?"

"You could not persuade her," said Prudence, with a hopeless air. "No;
she thinks it is all over now between her father and her. She is
disgraced and put away from him. She hath done him such injury, she
says, as even his enemies have never done. When he comes back again, she
says, to Stratford, she will be here, and she knows that he will never
come near this house; and that will be better for her, she says, for she
could never again meet him face to face."

Well, all that day Judith lay there in that solitary room, desiring only
to be left alone; taking no food; the racking pains in her head
returning from time to time; and now and again she shivered slightly, as
if from cold. Tom Quiney kept coming and going to hear news of her, or
to consult with Prudence as to how to rouse her from this hopelessness
of grief; and as the day slowly passed, he grew more and more disturbed
and anxious and restless. Could nothing be done? Could nothing be done?
was his constant cry.

He remained late that evening, and Prudence stayed all night at the
cottage. In the morning he was over again early, and more distressed
than ever to hear that the girl was wearing herself out with this agony
of remorse--crying stealthily when that she thought no one was near, and
hiding herself away from the light, and refusing to be comforted.

But during the long and silent watches he had been taking counsel with

"Prudence," said he, regarding her with a curious look, "do you think
now, if some assurance were come from her father himself--some actual
message from him--a kindly message--some token that he was far indeed
from casting her away from him--think you Judith would be glad to have

"'Twould be like giving her life back to her," said the girl, simply.
"In truth I dread what may come of this; 'tis not in human nature to
withstand such misery of mind. My poor Judith, that was ever so careless
and merry!"

He hesitated for a second or two, and then he said, looking at her, and
speaking in a cautious kind of way.

"Because, when next I have need to write to London, I might beg of some
one--my brother Dick, perchance, that is now in Bucklersbury, and would
have small trouble in doing such a service--I say I might beg of him to
go and see Judith's father, and tell him the true story, and show him
that she was not so much to blame. Nay, for my part I see not that she
was to blame at all, but for over-kindness and confidence, and the wish
to exalt her father. The mischief that hath been wrought is the doing of
the scoundrel and villain on whose head I trust it may fall erelong;
'twas none of hers. And if her father were to have all that now put
fairly and straight before him, think you he would not be right sorry to
hear that she had taken his anger so much to heart, and was lying almost
as one dead at the very thought of it? I tell you, now, if all this be
put before him, and if he send her no comfortable message--ay, and that
forthwith, and gladly--I have far misread him. And as for her,
Prudence--'twould be welcome, say you?"

"'Twould be of the value of all the world to her," Prudence said, in her
direct and earnest way.

Well, he almost immediately thereafter left (seeing that he could be of
no further help to these women-folk), and walked quickly back to
Stratford, and to his house, which was also his place of business. He
seemed to hurry through his affairs with speed; then he went up-stairs
and looked out some clothing; he took down a pair of pistols and put
some fresh powder in the pans, and made a few other preparations. Next
he went round to the stable, and the stout little Galloway nag whinnied
when she saw him at the door.

"Well, Maggie, lass," said he, going into the stall, and patting her
neck, and stroking down her knees, "what sayst thou? Wouldst like a
jaunt that would carry thee many a mile away from Stratford town? Nay,
but if you knew the errand, I warrant me you would be as eager as I!
What, then--a bargain, lass! By my life, you shall have many a long
day's rest in clover when this sharp work is done!"



It was on this same morning that Judith made a desperate effort to rouse
herself from the prostration into which she had fallen. All through that
long darkness and despair she had been wearily and vainly asking herself
whether she could do nothing to retrieve the evil she had wrought. Her
good name might go--she cared little for that now--but was there no
means of making up to her father the actual money he had lost? It was
not forgiveness she thought of, but restitution. Forgiveness was not to
be dreamed of; she saw before her always that angered face she had
beheld in the garden, and her wish was to hide away from that, and be
seen of it no more. Then there was another thing: if she were to be
permitted to remain at the cottage, ought she not to show herself
willing to take a share of the humblest domestic duties? Might not the
good dame begin to regard her as but a useless encumbrance? If it were
so that no work her ten fingers could accomplish would ever restore to
her father what he had lost through her folly, at least it might win her
grandmother's forbearance and patience. And so it was on the first
occasion of her head ceasing to ache quite so badly she struggled to her
feet (though she was so languid and listless and weak that she could
scarcely stand), and put round her the heavy cloak that had been lying
on the bed, and smoothed her hair somewhat, and went to the door. There
she stood for a minute or two, listening, for she would not go down if
there were any strangers about.

The house seemed perfectly still. There was not a sound anywhere. Then,
quite suddenly, she heard little Cicely begin to sing to herself--but in
snatches, as if she were occupied with other matters--some well-known
rhymes to an equally familiar tune--

    "By the moon we sport and play;
    With the night begins our day;
    As we drink the dew doth fall,
    Trip it, dainty urchins all!
    Lightly as the little bee,
    Two by two, and three by three,
    And about go we, go we."

--and she made no doubt that the little girl was alone in the kitchen.
Accordingly, she went down. Cicely, who was seated near the window and
busily engaged in plucking a fowl, uttered a slight cry when she
entered, and started up.

"Dear Mistress Judith," she said, "can I do aught for you? Will you sit
down? Dear, dear, how ill you do look!"

"I am not at all ill, little Cicely," said Judith, as cheerfully as she
could, and she sat down. "Give me the fowl--I will do that for you, and
you can go and help my grandmother in whatever she is at."

"Nay, not so," said the little maid, definitely refusing. "Why should

"But I wish it," Judith said. "Do not vex me now--go and seek my
grandmother, like a good little lass."

The little maid was thus driven to go, but it was with another purpose.
In about a couple of minutes she had returned, and preceding her was
Judith's grandmother.

"What! art come down, wench?" the old dame said, patting her kindly on
the shoulder. "That be so far well--ay, ay, I like that now--that be
better for thee than lying all alone. But what would you with the little
maid's work, that you would take it out of her hands?"

"Why, if I am idle, and do nothing, grandmother, you will be for turning
me out of the house," the girl answered, looking up with a strange kind
of smile.

"Turn thee out of the house," said her grandmother, who had just caught
a better glimpse of the wan and tired face. "Ay, that will I--and now.
Come thy ways, wench; 'tis time for thee to be in the fresh air. Cicely,
let be the fowl now. Put some more wood on the fire, and hang on the
pot--there's a clever lass. And thou, grandchild, come thy ways with me
into the garden, and I warrant me when thou comest back a cupful of
barley-broth will do thee no harm."

Judith obeyed, though she would fain have sat still. And then, when she
reached the front door what a bewilderment of light and color met her
eyes! She stood as one dazed for a second or two. The odors of the
flowers and the shrubs were so strange, moreover--pungent and strange
and full of memories. It seemed so long a time since she had seen this
wonderful glowing world and breathed this keen air, that she paused on
the stone flag to collect her senses as it were. And then a kind of
faintness came over her, and perhaps she might have sank to the ground,
but that she laid hold of her grandmother's arm.

"Ay, ay, come thy ways and sit thee down, dearie," the old dame said,
imagining that the girl was but begging for a little assistance in her
walking. "I be main glad to see thee out again. I liked not that lying
there alone--nay, I wur feared of it, and I bade Prudence send your
mother and Susan to see you----"

"No, no, good grandmother, no, no!" Judith pleaded, with all the effort
that remained to her.

"But yea, yea!" her grandmother said, sharply. "Foolish wench, that
would hide away from them that can best aid thee! Ay, and knowest thou
how the new disease, as they call it, shows itself at the beginning?
Why, with a pinching of the face and sharp pains in the head. Wouldst
thou have me let thee lie there, and perchance go from bad to worse, and
not send for them--ay, and for Susan's husband, if need were? Nay, but
let not that fright thee, good wench," she said, in a gentler way. "'Tis
none so bad as I thought, else you would not be venturing down the
stairs--nay, nay, there be no harm done as yet, I warrant me--'tis a
breath of fresh air to sharpen thee into a hungry fit that will be the
best doctor for thee. Here, sit thee down and rest now, and when the
barley-broth be warm enough, Cicely shall bring thee out a dish of it.
Nay, I see no harm done. Keep up thy heart, lass; thou wert ever a brave
one--ay, what was there ever that could daunt thee? and not the boldest
of the youths but was afraid of thy laugh and thy merry tongue. Heaven
save us, that thou should take on so! And if you would sell yourself to
work in slavery in the Indies, think you they would buy a poor, weak,
trembling creature? Nay, nay, we will have to fetch back the roses to
your cheeks ere you make for that bargain, I warrant me!"

They were now seated in the little arbor. On entering Judith had cast
her eyes round it in a strange and half-frightened fashion; and now, as
she sat there, she was scarcely listening to the good-natured garrulity
of the old dame, which was wholly meant to cheer her spirits.

"Grandmother," said she, in a low voice, "think you 'twas really he that
took away with him my father's play?"

"I know not how else it could have been come by," said the grandmother,
"but I pray you, child, heed not that for the present. What be done and
gone cannot be helped--let it pass--there, there, now, what a lack of
memory have I, that should have shown thee the pretty lace cuffs that
Thomas Quiney left for thee--fit for a queen they be, to be sure--ay,
and the fine lace of them, and the silver, too. He hath a free hand, he
hath; 'tis a fair thing for any that will be in life-partnership with
him; 'twill not away, marry 'twill not; 'twill bide in his nature--that
will never out of the flesh that's bred in the bone, as they say; and I
like to see a young man that be none of the miser kind, but ready forth
with his money where 'tis to please them he hath a fancy for. A brave
lad he is too, and one that will hold his own; and when I told him that
you were pleased that his business went forward well, why, saith he, as
quick as quick, 'Said she that?' and if my old eyes fail me not, I know
of one that setteth greater share by your good word than you imagine,

She but half heard; she was recalling all that had happened in this very

"And think you, grandmother," said she, slowly, and with absent eyes,
"that when he was sitting here with us, and telling us all about the
Court doings, and about my father's friends in London, and when he was
so grateful to us--or saying that he was so--for our receiving of him
here, think you that all the time he was planning to steal my father's
play, and to take it and sell it in London? Grandmother can you think it
possible? Could any one be such a hypocrite? I know that he deceived me
at the first, but 'twas only a jest, and he confessed it all, and
professed his shame that he had so done. But, grandmother, think of
him--think of how he used to speak--and ever so modest and gentle; is't
possible that all the time he was playing the thief, and looking forward
to the getting away to London to sell what he had stolen?"

"For love's sake, sweetheart, heed that man no more! 'tis all done and
gone--there can come no good of vexing thyself about it," her
grandmother said. "Be he villain or not, 'twill be well for all of us
that we never hear his name more. In good sooth I am as much to blame as
thou thyself, child, for the encouraging him to come about, and
listening to his gossip--beshrew me, that I should have meddled in such
matters, and not bade him go about his business! But 'tis all past and
gone now, as I say--there be no profit in vexing thyself----"

"Past and gone, grandmother!" she exclaimed, and yet in a listless way.
"Yes--but what remains? Good grandmother, perchance you did not hear all
that the parson said. 'Tis past and gone, truly--and more than you

The tone in which she uttered these words somewhat startled the good
dame, who looked at her anxiously. And then she said,

"Why, now, I warrant me the barley-broth will be hot enough by this
time: I will go fetch thee a cupful, wench--'twill put warmth in thy
veins, it will--ay, and cheer thy heart too."

"Trouble not, good grandmother," she said. "I would as lief go back to
my room now. The light hurts my eyes strangely."

"Back to your room? that shall you not!" was the prompt answer, but not
meant unkindly. "You shall wait here, wench, till I bring thee that will
put some color in thy white face--ay, and some of Thomas Quiney's wine
withal; and if the light hurt thee, sit farther back, then--of a truth
'tis no wonder, after thou hast hid thyself like a dormouse for so

And so she went away to the house. But she was scarcely gone when
Judith--in this extreme silence that the rustling of a leaf would have
disturbed--heard certain voices; and listening more intently she made
sure that the new-comers must be Susan and her mother, whom Prudence had
asked to walk over. Instantly she got up, though she had to steady
herself for a moment by resting her hand on the table; and then, as
quickly as she could, and as noiselessly, she stole along the path to
the cottage, and entered, and made her way up to her own room. She
fancied she had not been heard. She would rather be alone. If they had
come to accuse her, what had she to answer? Why, nothing: they might say
of her what they pleased now, it was all deserved; only, the one
denunciation of her that she had listened to--the one she had heard from
the parson--seemed like the ringing of her death-knell. Surely there
was no need to repeat that? They could not wish to repeat it, did they
but know all it meant to her.

Then the door was quietly opened, and her sister appeared, bearing in
one hand a small tray.

"I have brought you some food, Judith, and a little wine, and you must
try and take them, sweetheart," said she. "'Twas right good news to us
that you had come down and gone into the garden for a space. In truth,
making yourself ill will not mend matters; and Prudence was in great

She put the tray on a chair, for there was no table in the room--but
Judith, finding that her sister had not come to accuse her, but was in
this gentle mood, said quickly and eagerly,

"Oh, Susan, you can tell me all that I would so fain know! You must have
heard, for my father speaks to you of all his affairs, and at your own
wedding you must have heard when all these things were arranged. Tell
me, Susan--I shall have a marriage-portion, shall I not?--and how much,
think you? Perchance not so large as yours, for you are the elder, and
Dr. Hall was ever a favorite with my father. But I shall have a
marriage-portion, Susan, shall I not? nay, it may already be set aside
for me."

And then the elder sister did glance somewhat reproachfully at her.

"I wonder you should be thinking of such things, Judith," said she.

"Ah, but 'tis not as you imagine," the girl said, with the same pathetic
eagerness. "Tis in this wise now: would my father take it in a measure
to repay him for the ill that I have done? Would it make up the loss,
Susan, or a part of it? Would he take it, think you? Ah, but if he would
do that!"

"Why, that were an easy way out of the trouble, assuredly!" her sister
exclaimed. "To take the marriage-portion that is set aside for thee--and
if I mistake not, 'tis all provided--ay, and the Rowington copyhold,
which will fall to thee, if 'tis not thine already; truly, 'twere a wise
thing to take these to make good this loss, and then, when you marry, to
have to give you your marriage-portion all the same!"

"Nay, nay, not so, Susan!" her sister cried, quickly. "What said you?
The Rowington copyhold also? and perchance mine already? Susan, would it
make good the loss? Would all taken together make good the loss? For,
as Heaven is my witness, I will never marry--nor think of marrying--but
rejoice all the days of my life if my father would but take these to
satisfy him of the injury I have done him. Nay, but is't possible,
Susan? Will he do that for me--as a kindness to me? I have no right to
ask for such--but--but if only he knew--if only he knew!"

The tears were running down her face; her hands were clasped in abject

"Sweetheart, you know not what you ask," her sister said, but gently.
"When you marry, your marriage-portion will have to be in accordance
with our position in the town--my father would not have it otherwise;
were you to surrender that now, would he let one of his daughters go
forth from his house as a beggar, think you? Or what would her husband
say to be so treated? You might be willing to give up these, but my
father could not, and your husband would not."

"Susan, Susan, I wish for no marriage," she cried; "I will stay with my
grandmother here; she is content that I should bide with her; and if my
father will take these, 'twill be the joy of my life; I shall wish for
no more; and New Place shall come to no harm by me; 'tis here that I am
to bide. Think you he would take them, Susan--think you he would take
them?" she pleaded; and in her excitement she got up, and tried to walk
about a little, but with her hands still clasped. "If one were to send
to London now--a message--or I would walk every foot of the way did I
but think he would do this for me--oh, no! no! no! I durst not--I durst
never see him more--he has cast me off--and--and I deserve no less!"

Her sister went to her and took her by the hand.

"Judith, you have been in sore trouble, and scarce know what you say,"
she said, in that clear, calm way of hers. "But this is now what you
must do. Sit down and take some of this food. As I hear, you have scarce
tasted anything these two days. You have always been so wild and
wayward; now must you listen to reason and suffer guidance."

She made her sit down. The girl took a little of the broth, some of the
spiced bread, and a little of the wine, but it was clear that she was
forcing herself to it; her thoughts were elsewhere. And scarcely had she
finished this make-believe of a repast when she turned to her sister and
said, with a pathetic pleading in her voice,

"And is it not possible, Susan? Surely I can do something! It is so
dreadful to think of my father imagining that I have done him this
injury, and gone on the same way, careless of what has happened. That
terrifies me at night! Oh, if you but knew what it is in the darkness,
in the long hours, and none to call to, and none to give you help; and
to think that these are the thoughts he has of me; that it was all for a
sweetheart I did it--that I gave away his writing to please a
sweetheart--and that I care not for what has happened, but would do the
like again to-morrow! It is so dreadful in the night."

"I would comfort you if I could, Judith," said her sister, "but I fear
me you must trust to wiser counsel than mine. In truth I know not
whether all this can be undone, or how my father regards it at the
moment; for at the time of the writing they were all uncertain. But
surely now you would do well to be ruled by some one better able to
guide you than any of us women-folk; Master Blaise hath been most kind
and serviceable in this as in all other matters, and hath written to
your father in answer to his letter, so that we have had trust and
assurance in his direction. And you also--why should you not seek his
aid and counsel?"

At the mere mention of the parson's name Judith shivered instinctively,
she scarce knew why.

"Judith," her sister continued, regarding her watchfully, "to-morrow, as
I understand, Master Blaise is coming over here to see you."

"May not I be spared that? He hath already brought his message," the
girl said, in a low voice.

"Nay, he comes but in kindness--or more than kindness, if I guess
aright. Bethink you, Judith," she said, "'tis not only the loss of the
money--or great or small I know not--that hath distressed my father.
There was more than that. Nay, do not think that I am come to reproach
you; but will it not be ever thus so long as you will be ruled by none,
but must always go your own way? There was more than merely concerned
money affairs in my father's letter, as doubtless Master Blaise hath
told you; and then, think of it, Judith, how 'twill be when the bruit of
the story comes down to Stratford----"

"I care not," was the perfectly calm answer. "That is for me to bear.
Can Master Blaise tell me how I may restore to my father this that he
hath lost? Then his visit might be more welcome, Susan."

"Why will you harden your heart so?" the elder sister said, with some
touch of entreaty in her tone. "Nay, think of it, Judith! Here is an
answer to all. If you but listen to him, and favor him, you will have
one always with you as a sure guide and counsellor; and who then may
dare say a word against you?"

"Then he comes to save my good name?" the girl said, with a curious
change of manner. "Nay, I will give him no such tarnished prize!"

And here it occurred to the elder sister, who was sufficiently shrewd
and observant, that her intercession did not seem to be producing good
results, and she considered it better that the parson should speak for
himself. Indeed, she hoped she had done no mischief, for this that she
now vaguely suggested had for long been the dream and desire of both her
mother and herself; and at this moment, if ever, there was a chance of
Judith's being obedient and compliant. Not only did she forthwith change
the subject, but also she managed to conquer the intense longing that
possessed her to learn something further about the young man who (as she
imagined) had for a time captured Judith's fancies. She gave her sister
what news there was in the town. She besought her to take care of
herself, and to go out as much as possible, for that she was looking far
from well. And, finally, when the girl confessed that she was fain to
lie down for a space (having slept so little during these two nights),
she put some things over her and quietly left, hoping that she might
soon get to sleep.

Judith did not rest long, however. The question whether the sacrifice of
her marriage-portion might not do something toward retrieving the
disaster she had caused was still harassing her mind; and then again
there was the prospect of the parson coming on the morrow. By-and-by,
when she was certain that her mother and sister were gone, she went
down-stairs, and began to help in doing this or the other little thing
about the house. Her grandmother was out-of-doors, and so did not know,
to interfere, though the small maid-servant remonstrated as best she
might. Luckily, however, nature was a more imperative monitress, and
again and again the girl had to sit down from sheer physical weakness.

But there came over a visitor in the afternoon who restored to her
something of her old spirit. It was little Willie Hart, who, having
timidly tapped at the open door without, came along the passage and
entered the dusky chamber where she was.

"Ah, sweetheart," said she (but with a kind of sudden sob in her
throat), "have you come to see me?"

"I heard that you were not well, cousin," said he, and he regarded her
with troubled and anxious eyes as she stooped to kiss him.

"Nay, I am well enough," said she, with as much cheerfulness as she
could muster. "Fret not yourself about that. And what a studious scholar
you are, Cousin Willie, to be sure, that must needs bring your book with
you! Were I not so ignorant myself, I should hear you your tasks; but
you would but laugh at me----"

"'Tis no task-book, Judith," said he, diffidently. "'Twas Prudence who
lent it to me." And then he hesitated, through shyness.

"Why, you know, Judith," he said, "you have spoken to me many a time
about Sir Philip Sidney; and I was asking this one and the other, at
times, and Prudence said she would show me a book he had written that
belongs to her brother. And then to-day, when I went to her, she bade me
bring the book to you, and to read to you, for that you were not well
and might be pleased to hear it, she not being able to come over till
the morrow."

"In truth, now, that was well thought of, and friendly," said she, and
she put her hand in a kindly fashion on his shoulder. "And you have come
all the way over to read to me! see you how good a thing it is to be
wise and instructed. Well, then, we will go and sit by the door, that
you may have more of light; and if my grandmother catch us at such
idleness, you shall have to defend me--you shall have to defend me,
sweetheart--for you are the man of us two, and I must be shielded."

So they went to the door, and sat down on the step, the various-colored
garden and the trees and the wide heavens all shining before them.

"And what is the tale, Cousin Willie?" said she, quite pleasantly (for
indeed she was glad to see the boy, and to chat with one who had no
reproaches for her, who knew nothing against her, but was ever her true
lover and slave). "Nay, if it be by Sir Philip Sidney, 'twill be of
gallant and noble knights, assuredly."

"I know not, Cousin Judith," said he; "I but looked at the beginning as
I came through the fields. And this is how it goes."

He opened the book and began to read--

"'It was in the time that the Earth begins to put on her new apparel
against the approach of her lover, and that the sun running a most even
course becomes an indifferent arbiter between the night and the day,
when the hopeless shepherd Strephon was come to the sands which lie
against the island of Cythera, where, viewing the place with a heavy
kind of delight, and sometimes casting his eyes to the isleward, he
called his friendly rival the pastor Claius unto him, and, setting first
down in his darkened countenance a doleful copy of what he would speak,
"O my Claius," said he----'"

Thus he went on; and as he read, her face grew more and more wistful. It
was a far-off land that she heard of; and beautiful it was; it seemed to
her that she had been dwelling in some such land, careless and all

"'The third day after,'" she vaguely heard him say, "'in the time that
the morning did strew roses and violets in the heavenly floor against
the coming of the sun, the nightingales, striving one with the other
which could in most dainty variety recount their wrong-caused sorrow,
made them put off their sleep, and rising from under a tree, which that
night had been their pavilion, they went on their journey, which
by-and-by welcomed Musidorus's eyes with delightful prospects. There
were hills which garnished their proud heights with stately trees;
humble valleys whose base estate seemed comforted with the refreshing of
silver rivers; meadows enamelled with all sorts of eye-pleasing flowers;
thickets which, being lined with most pleasant shade, were witnessed so
to by the cheerful disposition of many well-tuned birds; each pasture
stored with sheep, feeding with sober security, while the pretty lambs,
with bleating oratory, craved the dams' comfort; here a shepherd's boy
piping, as though he should never be old; there a young shepherdess
knitting, and withal singing; and it seemed that her voice comforted her
hands to work, and her hands kept time to her voice-music.'"

Surely she had herself been living in some such land of pleasant
delights, without a thought that ever it would end for her, but that
each following day would be as full of mirth and laughter as its
predecessor. She scarcely listened to the little lad now; she was
looking back over the years, so rare and bright and full of light and
color were they--and always a kind of music in them--and laughter at the
sad eyes of lovers. She had never known how happy she had been. It was
all distant now--the idle flower-gathering in the early spring-time; the
afternoon walking in the meadows, she and Prudence together (with the
young lads regarding them askance); the open casements on the moonlit
nights, to hear the madrigal singing of the youths going home; or the
fair and joyous mornings that she was allowed to ride away in the
direction of Oxford, to meet her father and his companions coming in to
Stratford town. And now, when next he should come--to all of them, and
all of them welcoming him--even neighbors and half-strangers--and he
laughing to them all, and getting off his horse, and calling for a cup
of wine as he strode into the house, where should she be? Not with all
of these--not laughing and listening to the merry stories of the
journey--but away by herself, hiding herself, as it were, and thinking,

"Dear Judith, but why are you crying?" said the little lad, as he
chanced to look up; and his face was of an instant and troubled anxiety.

"Why, 'tis a fair land--oh, indeed, a fair land," said she, with an
effort at regarding the book, and pretending to be wholly interested in
it. "Nay, I would hear more of Musidorus, sweetheart, and of that pretty
country. I pray you continue the reading--continue the reading,
sweetheart Willie. Nay, I never heard of a fairer country I assure thee,
in all the wide world!"



Then that night, as she lay awake in the dark, her incessant imaginings
shaped themselves toward one end. This passion of grief she knew to be
unavailing and fruitless. Something she would try to do, if but to give
evidence of her contrition: for how could she bear that her father
should think of her as one having done him this harm and still going on
light-hearted and unconcerned? The parson was coming over on the morrow.
And if she were to put away her maidenly pride (and other vague dreams
that she had sometimes dreamed), and take it that her consent would
re-establish her in the eyes of those who were now regarding her
askance, and make her peace with her own household? And if the
surrender of her marriage-portion and her interest in the Rowington
copyhold (whatever it might be) were in a measure to mitigate her
father's loss? It was the only thing she could think of. And if at times
she looked forward with a kind of shudder (for in the night-time all
prospects wear a darker hue) to her existence as the parson's wife,
again there came to her the reflection that it was not for her to
repine. Some sacrifice was due from her. And could she not be as
resolute as the daughter of the Gileadite? Oftentimes she had heard the
words read out in the still afternoon: "Now when Iphtah came to Mizpeh
unto his house, behold his daughter came out to meet him with timbrels
and dances: which was his only child; he had none other, son nor
daughter. And when he saw her he rent his clothes, and said, Alas! my
daughter, thou hast brought me low, and art of them that trouble me."
The Jewish maiden had done no ill, and yet was brave to suffer. Why
should she repine at any sacrifice demanded of her to atone for her own
wrong-doing? What else was there? She hoped that Susan and her mother
would be pleased now, and that her father and his friends in London
would not have any serious loss to regret. There was but the one way,
she said to herself again and again. She was almost anxious for the
parson to come over, to see if he would approve.

With the daylight her determination became still more clear, and also
she saw more plainly the difficulties before her; for it could not be
deemed a very seemly and maidenly thing that she, on being asked to
become a bride (and she had no doubt that was his errand), should begin
to speak of her marriage-portion. But would he understand? Would he help
her over her embarrassment? Nay, she could not but reflect, here was an
opportunity for his showing himself generous and large-minded. He had
always professed, or at least intimated, that his wish to have her for
wife was based mostly on his care for herself and his regard for the
general good of the pious community to which he belonged. She was to be
a helpmate for one laboring in the Lord's vineyard; she was to be of
service in the church; she was to secure for herself a constant and
loving direction and guidance. And now, if he wished to prove all
this--if he wished to show himself so noble and disinterested as to win
for himself her life-long gratitude--what if he were to take over all
her marriage-portion, as that might be arranged, and forthwith and
chivalrously hand it back again, so that her grievous fault should so
far be condoned? If the girl had been in her usual condition of health
and spirits, it is probable that she would have regarded this question
with a trifle of scepticism (for she was about as shrewd in such matters
as Susan herself); nay, it is just probable that she might have
experienced a malicious joy in putting him to the proof. But she was in
despair; her nerves were gone through continual wakefulness and mental
torture; this was the only direction in which she saw light before her,
and she regarded it, not with her ordinary faculty of judgment, but with
a kind of pathetic hope.

Master Blaise arrived in the course of the morning. His reception was
not auspicious, for the old dame met him at the gate, and made more than
a show of barring the way.

"Indeed, good sir," said she, firmly, "the wench be far from well now,
and I would have her left alone."

He answered that his errand was of some importance, and that he must
crave a few minutes' interview. Both her mother and sister, he said,
were aware he was coming over to see her, and had made no objection.

"No, no, perchance not," the grandmother said, though without budging an
inch, "but she be under my care now, and I will have no harm befall

"Harm! good Mistress Hathaway?" said he.

"Well, she be none so strong as she were--and--and perchance there hath
been overmuch lecturing of the poor lass. Nay, I doubt not 'twas meant
in kindness; but there hath been overmuch of it, as I reckon, and what I
say is, if the wench have done amiss, let those that have the right to
complain come to her. Nay, 'twas kindness, good sir; 'twas well meant, I
doubt not; and 'tis your calling belike to give counsel and reproof; I
say naught against that, but I am of a mind to have my grandchild left
alone at present."

"If you refuse me, good Mistress Hathaway," said he, quite courteously
and calmly, "there is no more to be said. But I imagine that her mother
and sister will be surprised. And as for the maiden herself--go you by
her wishes?"

"Nay, not I," was the bold answer. "I know better than all of them
together. For to speak plainly with you, good Master Parson, your
preaching must have been oversharp when last you were within here--and
was like to have brought the wench to death's door thereafter; marry,
she be none so far recovered as to risk any further of such treatment.
Perchance you meant no harm; but she is proud and high-spirited, and by
your leave, good sir, we will see her a little stronger and better set
up ere she have any more of the discipline of the church bestowed on

It was well that Judith appeared at this juncture, for the tone of the
old dame's voice was growing more and more tart.

"Grandmother," said she, "I would speak with Master Blaise."

"Get thee within-doors at once, I tell thee, wench!" was the peremptory

"No, good grandmother, so please you," Judith said, "I must speak with
him. There is much of importance that I have to say to him. Good sir,
will you step into the garden?"

The old dame withdrew, sulky and grumbling, and evidently inclined to
remain within ear-shot, lest she should deem it necessary to interfere.
Judith preceded Master Blaise to the door of the cottage, and asked the
little maid to bring out a couple of chairs. As she sat down he could
not but observe how wan and worn her face was, and how listless she was
in manner; but he made no comment on that; he only remarked that her
grandmother seemed in no friendly mood this morning, and that only the
fact that his mission was known to Susan and her mother had caused him
to persist.

It was clear that this untoward reception had disconcerted him somewhat;
and it was some little time before he could recover that air of mild
authority with which he was accustomed to convey his counsels. At first
he confined himself to telling Judith what he had done on behalf of her
mother and Susan, in obedience to their wishes; but by and by he came to
herself and her own situation; and he hoped that this experience through
which she had passed, though it might have caused her bitter distress
for the time, would eventually make for good. If the past could not be
recalled, at least the future might be made safe. Indeed one or two
phrases he had used sounded as if they had done some previous service,
perhaps he had consulted with Mistress Hall ere making this appeal--but
in any case Judith was not listening so particularly as to think of
that--she seemed to know beforehand what he had to say.

To tell the truth, he was himself a little surprised at her tacit
acquiescence. He had always had to argue with Judith, and many a time he
had found that her subtle feminine wit was capable of extricating
herself from what he considered a defenceless position. But now she sat
almost silent. She seemed to agree to everything. There was not a trace
left of the old audacious self-reliance, nor yet of those saucy
rejoinders which were only veiled by her professed respect for his
cloth--she was at his mercy.

And so, growing bolder, he put in his own personal claim. He said little
that he had not said or hinted on previous occasions; but now all the
circumstances were changed; this heavy misfortune that had befallen her
was but another and all too cogent reason why she should accept his
offer of shelter and aid and counsel, seeing into what pitfalls her own
unguided steps were like to lead her.

"I speak the words of truth and soberness," said he, as he sat and
calmly regarded her downcast face, "and make no appeal to the foolish
fancies of a young and giddy-headed girl--for that you are no longer,
Judith. The years are going by. There must come a time in life when the
enjoyment of the passing moment is not all in all--when one must look to
the future, and make provision for sickness and old age. Death strikes
here and there; friends fall away. What a sad thing it were to find
one's self alone, the dark clouds of life thickening over, and none by
to help and cheer. Then your mother and sister, Judith----"

"Yes, I know," she said, almost in despair--"I know 'twould please

And then she reflected that this was scarcely the manner in which she
should receive his offer, that was put before her so plainly and with so
much calm sincerity.

"I pray you, good sir," said she, in a kind of languid way, "forgive me
if I answer you not as frankly as might be. I have been ill; my head
aches now; perchance I have not followed all you said. But I understand
it--I understand it--and in all you say there is naught but good

"Then it is yes, Judith?" he exclaimed; and for the first time there was
a little brightness of ardor--almost of triumph--in this clearly
conceived and argued wooing.

"It would please my mother and sister," she repeated, slowly. "They are
afraid of some story coming from London about--about--what is passed.
This would be an answer, would it not?"

"Why, yes!" he said, confidently, for he saw that she was yielding (and
his own susceptibilities were not likely to be wounded in that
direction). "Think you we should heed any tavern scurrility? I trow not!
There would be the answer plain and clear--if you were my wife, Judith."

"They would be pleased," again she said, and her eyes were absent. And
then she added, "I pray you pardon me, good sir, if I speak of that
which you may deem out of place, but--but if you knew--how I have been
striving to think of some means of repairing the wrong I have done my
father, you would not wonder that I should be anxious, and perchance
indiscreet. You know of the loss I have caused him and his companions.
How could I ever make that good with the work of my own hands? That is
not possible; and yet when I think of how he hath toiled for all of
us--late and early, as it were--why, good sir, I have myself been bold
enough to chide him--or to wish that I were a man, to ride forth in the
morning in his stead and look after the land; and then that his own
daughter should be the means of taking from him what he hath earned so
hardly--that I should never forget; 'twould be on my mind year after
year, even if he were himself to try to forget it."

She paused for a second; the mere effort of speaking seemed to fatigue

"There is but the one means, as I can think, of showing him my humble
sorrow for what hath been done--of making him some restitution. I know
not what my marriage-portion may be--but 'twill be something--and Susan
saith there is a part of the manor of Rowington, also, that would fall
to me; now, see you, good Master Blaise, if I were to give these over to
my father in part quittance of this injury--or if, belike--my--my--husband
would do that--out of generosity and nobleness--would not my father be
less aggrieved?"

She had spoken rather quickly and breathlessly (to get over her
embarrassment), and now she regarded him with a strange anxiety, for so
much depended on his answer! Would he understand her motives? Would he
pardon her bluntness? Would he join her in this scheme of restitution?

He hesitated only for a moment.

"Dear Judith," he said, with perfect equanimity, "such matters are
solely within the province of men, and not at the disposition of women,
who know less of the affairs of the world. Whatever arrangements your
father may have made in respect of your marriage-portion--truly I have
made no inquiry in that direction--he will have made with due regard to
his own circumstances, and with regard to the family and to your future.
Would he be willing to upset these in order to please a girlish fancy?
Why, in all positions in life pecuniary losses must happen; and a man
takes account of these; and is he likely to recover himself at the
expense of his own daughter?"

"Nay, but if she be willing! If she would give all that she hath, good
sir!" she cried, quickly.

"'Twould be but taking it from one pocket to put it in the other," said
he, in his patient and forbearing way. "I say not, if a man were like to
become bankrupt, that his family might not forego their expectations in
order to save him; but your father is one in good position. Think you
that the loss is so great to him? In truth it cannot be."

The eagerness fell away from her face. She saw too clearly that he could
not understand her at all. She did not reckon her father's loss in
proportion to his wealth--in truth, she could not form the faintest
notion of what that loss might be; all her thought was of her winning
back (in some remote day, if that were still possible to her) to her
father's forgiveness, and the regarding of his face as no longer in
dread wrath against her.

"Why," said he, seeing that she sat silent and distraught (for all the
hope had gone out of her), "in every profession and station in life a
man must have here or there a loss, as I say; but would he rob his
family to make that good? Surely not. Of what avail might that be? 'Tis
for them that he is working, 'tis not for himself; why should he take
from them to build up a property which must in due course revert and
become theirs? I pray you put such fancies out of your head, Judith.
Women are not accustomed to deal with such matters; 'tis better to have
them settled in the ordinary fashion. Were I you I would leave it in
your father's hands."

"And have him think of me as he is thinking now!" she said, in a kind of
wild way. "Ah, good sir, you know not!--you know not! Every day that
passes is but the deeper misery--for--for he will be hardened in the
belief--'twill be fixed in his mind forever--that his own daughter did
him this wrong, and went on lightly--not heeding--perchance to seek
another sweetheart. This he is thinking now, and I--what can I
do?--being so far away and none to help!"

"In truth, dear Judith," said he, "you make too much of your share in
what happened. 'Tis not to you your father should look for reparation of
his loss, but to the scoundrel who carried the play to London. What
punishment would it be for him--or what gain to your father--that your
father should upset the arrangements he has made for the establishment
and surety of his own family? Nay, I pray you put aside such a strange
fancy, dear heart, and let such things take their natural course."

"In no wise, in no wise!" she exclaimed, almost in despair. "In truth I
cannot. 'Twould kill me were nothing to be done to appease my father's
anger; and I thought that if he were to learn that you had sought me in
marriage--and--and agreed that such restitution as I can make should be
made forthwith--or afterward, as might be decided--but only that he
should know now that I give up everything he had intended for me--then I
should have great peace of mind."

"Indeed, Judith," said he, somewhat coldly, "I could be no party to any
such foolish freak--nay, not even in intention, whatever your father
might say to it. The very neighbors would think I was bereft of my
senses. And 'twould be an ill beginning of our life together--in which
there must ever be authority and guidance, as well as dutiful
obedience--if I were to yield to what every one must perceive to be an
idle and fantastic wish. I pray you consult your own sober judgment; at
present you are ailing, and perturbed; rest you awhile until these
matters have calmed somewhat, and you will see them in their true

"No, no," she said, hurriedly and absently--"no, no, good sir, you know
not what you ask. Rest? Nay, one way or the other this must be done, and
forthwith. I know not what he may have intended for me; but be it large
or small, 'tis all that I have to give him--I can do no more than
that--and then--then there may be some thoughts of rest."

She spoke as if she were scarcely aware of the good parson's presence;
and in truth, though he was not one to allow any wounded self-love to
mar his interests, he could not conceal from himself that she was
considering the proposal he had put before her mainly, if not wholly,
with a view to the possible settlement of these troubles and the
appeasing of her friends. Whether, in other circumstances, he might not
have calmly overlooked this slight, needs not now be regarded; in the
present circumstances--that is to say, after her announced determination
to forego every penny of her marriage-portion--he did take notice of it,
and with some sharpness of tone, as if he were truly offended.

"Indeed you pay me no compliment, Judith," said he. "I come to offer you
the shelter of an honest man's home, an honorable station as his wife, a
life-long guidance and protection; and what is your answer?--that
perchance you may make use of such an offer to please your friends and
to pay back to your father what you foolishly think you owe him. If
these be the only purposes you have in view--and you seem to think of
none other--'twould be a sorry forecast for the future, as I take it. At
the very beginning an act of madness! Nay, I could be no party to any
such thing. If you refuse to be guided by me in great matters, how could
I expect you to be guided in small?"

These words, uttered in his clear and precise and definite manner, she
but vaguely understood (for her head troubled her sorely, and she was
tired, and anxious to be at rest) to be a withdrawal of his proposal.
But that was enough; and perhaps she even experienced some slight sense
of relief. As for his rebuking of her, she heeded not that.

"As you will, sir, as you will," she said, listlessly, and she rose from
her chair.

And he rose too. Perhaps he was truly offended; perhaps he only appeared
to be; but at all events he bade her farewell in a cold and formal
manner, and as if it were he who had brought this interview to an end,
and that for good.

"What said he, wench, what said he?" her grandmother asked (who had been
pretending all the time to be gathering peas, and now came forward).
"Nay, I caught but little--a word here or there--and yet methinks 'tis a
brave way of wooing they have nowadays that would question a maid about
her marriage-portion! Heaven's mercy, did ever any hear the like? 'Twas
not so when I was young--nay, a maid would have bade him go hang that
brought her such a tale. Oh, the good parson! his thoughts be not all
bent on heaven, I warrant me! Ay, and what said he? And what saidst
thou, wench? Truly you be in no fit state to answer him; were you well
enough, and in your usual spirits, the good man would have his
answer--ay, as sharp as need be. But I will say no more; Master Quiney
hath a vengeful spirit, and perchance he hath set me too much against
the good man; but as for thyself, lass, there be little cause for
talking further of thy offences, if 'tis thy marriage-portion the parson
be after now!"

"Good grandmother, give me your arm," Judith said, in a strange way. "My
head is so strange and giddy. I know not what I have said to him--I
scarce can recollect it--if I have offended, bid him forgive
me--but--but I would have him remain away."

"As I am a living woman," said the old dame (forgetting her resolve to
speak smooth words), "he shall not come within the door, nor yet within
that gate while you bide with me and would have him kept without! What
then? More talk of chastenings? Marry now Thomas Quiney shall hear of
this--that shall he--by my life he shall!"

"No, no, no, good grandmother, pray you blame no one," the girl said,
and she was trembling somewhat. "'Tis I that have done all the harm--to
every one. But I know not what I said--I--I would fain lie down,
grandmother, if you will give me your arm so far--'tis so strangely
cold--I understand it not--and I forget what wast he said to me--but I
trust I offended him not----"

"Nay, but what is it, then, my deary?" the old woman said, taking both
the girl's hands in hers. "What is it that you should fret about? Nay,
fret not, fret not, good wench; the parson be well away, and there let
him bide. And would you lie down?--well, come, then; but sure you shake
as if 'twere winter. Come, lass! nay, fret not, we will keep the parson
away, I warrant, if 'tis that vexes thee!"

"No, grandmother, 'tis not so," the girl said, in a low voice. "'Twas
down by the river, as I think--'twas chilly there--I have felt it ever
since, from time to time--but 'twill pass away when I am laid down and
become warm again."

"Heaven grant it be no worse," the old dame said to herself, as she
shrewdly regarded the girl; but of course her outward talk, as she took
her within-doors, was ostensibly cheerful. "Come thy ways, then,
sweeting, and we shall soon make thee warm enough. Ay, ay, and Prudence
be coming over this afternoon, as I hear; and no doubt Thomas Quiney
too; and thou must get thyself dressed prettily, and have supper with us
all, though 'tis no treat to offer to a man of his own wine. Nay, I
warrant me he will think naught of that so thou be there with a pleasant
face for him; he will want nor wine nor aught else if he have but that,
and a friendly word from thee, as I reckon; ay, and thou shalt put on
the lace cuffs now, to do him fair service for his gift to thee--that
shalt thou, and why not? I swear to thee, my brave lass, they be fit for
a queen!"

And she would comfort her and help her (just as if this granddaughter of
hers, that always was so bright and gay and radiant, so self-willed and
self-reliant, with nothing but laughter for the sad eyes of the stricken
youths, was now but a weak and frightened child, that had to be guarded
and coaxed and caressed), and would talk as if all her thinking was of
that visit in the afternoon; but the only answer was----

"Will you send for Prudence, grandmother? Oh, grandmother, my head aches
so! I scarce know what I said."

Swiftly and secretly the old dame sent across to the town; and not to
Prudence only, but also (for she was grown anxious) to Mistress Hall, to
say that if her husband were like to return soon to Stratford he might
come over and see Judith, who was far from well. As for Prudence, a word
was sufficient to bring her; she was there straightway.

She found Judith very much as she had left her, but somewhat more
restless and feverish perhaps, and then again hopelessly weak and
languid, and always with those racking pains in the head. She said it
was nothing--it would soon pass away; it was but a chill she had caught
in sitting on the river-bank; would not Prudence now go back to her
duties and her affairs in the house?

"Judith," said her friend, leaning over her and speaking low, "I have
that to tell thee will comfort thee, methinks."

"Nay, I cannot listen to it now," was the answer--and it was a moan
almost. "Dear mouse, do not trouble about me--but my head is so bad that
I--that I care not now. And the parson is gone away, thinking that I
have wronged him also--'tis ever the same now--oh, sweetheart, my head,
my head!"

"But listen, Judith," the other pleaded. "Nay, but you must know what
your friends are ready to do for you--this surely will make thee well,
sweetheart. Think of it now; do you know that Quiney is gone to see
your father?"

"To my father!" she repeated, and she tried to raise her head somewhat,
so that her eyes might read her friend's face.

"I am almost sure of it, dear heart," Prudence said, taking her hot hand
in hers. "Nay, he would have naught said of it. None of his family know
whither he is gone, and I but guess. But this is the manner of it, dear
Judith--that he and I were talking, and sorely vexed he was that your
father should be told a wrong story concerning you--ay, and sorry to see
you so shaken, Judith, and distressed; and said he, 'What if I were to
get a message to her from her father--that he was in no such mood of
anger--and had not heard the story aright--and that he was well disposed
to her, and grieved to hear she had taken it so much to heart--would not
that comfort her?' he said. And I answered that assuredly it would, and
even more perchance than he thought of; and I gathered from him that he
would write to some one in London to go and see your father, and pray
him to send you assurance of that kind. But now--nay, I am certain of
it, dear Judith--I am certain that he himself is gone all the way to
London to bring thee back that comfort; and will not that cheer thee
now, sweetheart?"

"He is doing all that for me?" the girl said, in a low voice, and

"Ah, but you must be well and cheerful, good mouse, to give him greeting
when he comes back," said Prudence, striving to raise her spirits
somewhat. "Have I not read to thee many a time how great kings were wont
to reward the messengers that brought them good news?--a gold chain
round their neck, or lands perchance. And will you have no word of
welcome for him? Will you not meet him with a glad face? Why, think of
it now--a journey to London--and the perils and troubles by the way--and
all done to please thee. Nay, he would say naught of it to any one--lest
they might wonder at his doing so much for thee, belike--but when he
comes back 'twere a sorry thing that you should not give him a good and
gracious welcome."

Judith lay silent and thinking for a while, and then she said--but as if
the mere effort to speak were too much for her--

"Whatever happens, dear Prudence--nay, in truth I think I am very
ill--tell him this--that he did me wrong--he thought I had gone to meet
the parson that Sunday morning in the church-yard--'twas not so--tell
him it was not so--'twas but a chance, dear heart--I could not help

"Judith, Judith," her friend said, "these be things for thine own
telling. Nay, you shall say all that to himself, and you must speak him
fair; ay, and give him good welcome and thanks that hath done so much
for thee."

Judith put her head down on the pillow again, languidly; but presently
Prudence heard her laugh to herself, in a strange way.

"Last night," she said--"'twas so wonderful, dear Prue--I thought I was
going about in a strange country, looking for my little brother Hamnet,
and I knew not whether he would have any remembrance of me. Should I
have to tell him my name? I kept asking myself. And 'Judith, Judith,' I
said to him, when I found him; but he scarce knew; I thought he had
forgotten me, 'tis so long ago now; 'Judith, Judith,' I said; and he
looked up, and he was so strangely like little Willie Hart that I
wondered whether it was Hamnet or no----"

But Prudence was alarmed by these wanderings, and did her best to hush
them. And then, when at length the girl lay silent and still, Prudence
stole down-stairs again and bade the grandmother go to Judith's room,
for that she must at once hurry over to Stratford to speak with Susan



Some few mornings after that two travellers were standing in the
spacious archway of the inn at Shipston, chatting to each other, and
occasionally glancing toward the stable-yard, as if they were expecting
their horses to be brought round.

"The wench will thank thee for this service done her," the elder of the
two said; and he regarded the younger man in a shrewd and not unkindly

"Nay, I am none well pleased with the issue of it at all," the young man
said, moodily.

"What, then?" his companion said. "Can nothing be done and finished but
with the breaking of heads? Must that ever crown the work? Mercy on
us!--how many would you have slaughtered? now 'tis the parson that must
be thrown into the Avon; again it is Gentleman Jack you would have us
seek out for you; and then it is his friend, whose very name we know
not, that you would pursue through the dens and stews of London town. A
hopeful task, truly, for a Stratford youth! What know you of London,
man? And to pursue one whose very name you have not--and all for the
further breaking of heads, that never did any good anywhere in the

"Your are right, sir," the younger man said, with some bitterness. "I
can brag and bluster as well as any. But I see not that much comes of
it. 'Tis easy to break the heads of scoundrels--in talk. Their bones are
none the worse."

"And better so," the other said, gravely. "I will have no blood shed.
What, man, are you still fretting that I would not leave you behind in

"Nay, sir, altogether I like not the issue of it," he said, but
respectfully enough. "I shall be told, I doubt not, that I might have
minded my own business. They will blame me for bringing you all this way
and hindering your affairs."

"Heaven bless us," said the other, laughing, "may not a man come to see
his own daughter without asking leave of the neighbors?"

"'Tis as like as not that she herself will be the first to chide me,"
the younger man answered. "A message to her was all I asked of you, sir.
I dreamt not of hindering your affairs so."

"Nay, nay," said Judith's father, good-naturedly. "I can make the
occasion serve me well. Trouble not about that, friend Quiney. If we can
cheer up the wench, and put her mind at rest--that will be a sufficient
end of the journey; and we will have no broken heads withal, so please
you. And if she herself should have put aside these idle fears, and
become her usual self again, why, then, there is no harm done either. I
mind me that some of them wondered that I should ride down to see my
little Hamnet when he lay sick, for 'twas no serious illness that time,
as it turned out; but what does that make for now? Now, I tell you, I am
right glad I went to see the little lad; it cheered him to be made so
much of, and such small services or kindnesses are pleasant things for
ourselves to think of, when those who are dearest to us are no longer
with us. So cease your fretting, friend Quiney, for the hindering of my
affairs I take it that I am answerable to myself, and not to the good
gossips of Stratford town. And if 'tis merely to say a kind word to the
lass--if that is all that needs be done--well, there are many things
that are of different value to different people; and the wench and I
understand each other shrewdly well."

The horses were now brought round; but ere they mounted, Judith's father
said, again regarding the youth in that observant way,

"Nay, I see how it is with you, good lad--you are anxious as to how
Judith may take this service you have done her. Is't not so?"

"Perchance she may be angry that I called you away, sir," he said.

"Have no fear. 'Twas none of thy doing; 'twas but a whim of mine own.
Nay, there be other and many reasons for my coming--that need not be
explained to her. What, must I make apology to my own daughter? She is
not the guardian of Stratford town. I am no rogue; she is no constable.
May not I enter? Nay, nay, have no fear, friend Quiney; when that she
comes to understand the heavy errand you undertook for her, she will
give you her thanks, or I know nothing of her. Her thanks?--marry, yes!"

He looked at the young man again.

"But let there be no broken heads, good friend, I charge you," said he,
as he put his foot in the stirrup. "If the parson have been over-zealous
we will set all matters straight, without hurt or harm to any son of

And now as they rode on together, the younger man's face seemed more
confident and satisfied, and he was silent for the most part. Of course
he would himself be the bearer of the news; it was but natural that he
should claim as much. And as Judith's father intended to go first to New
Place, Quiney intimated to him that he would rather not ride through the
town; in fact, he wanted to get straightway (and unobserved, if
possible) to Shottery, to see how matters were there.

When he arrived at the little hamlet, Willie Hart was in the garden, and
instantly came down to the gate to meet him. He asked no questions of
the boy, but begged of him to hold the bridle of his horse for a few
minutes; then he went into the house.

Just within the threshold he met Judith's sister.

"Ah," said he, quickly, and even joyously, "I have brought good news.
Where is Judith? May I see her? I want to tell her that her father is
come, and will be here to see her presently----"

And then something in the scared face that was regarding him struck him
with a sudden terror.

"What is it?" he said, with his own face become about as pale as hers.

"Judith is very ill," was the answer.

"Yes, yes," he said eagerly, "and that she was when I left. But now that
her father is come, 'twill be all different--'twill be all set right
now. And you will tell her, then, if I may not? Nay, but may not I see
her for a moment--but for a moment--to say how her father is come all
the way to see her--ay, and hath a store of trinkets for her--and is
come to comfort her into the assurance that all will go well? Why, will
not such a message cheer her?"

"Good Master Quiney," Susan said, with tears welling into her eyes, "if
you were to see her she would not know you--she knows no one--she knows
not that she is ill--but speaks of herself as some other----"

"But her father!" he exclaimed, in dismay, "will she not know him? Will
she not understand? Nay, surely 'tis not yet too late!"

But here Doctor Hall appeared; and when he was told that Judith's father
was come to the town, and would shortly be at the cottage, he merely
said that perhaps his presence might soothe her somewhat, or even lead
her delirious wanderings into a gentler channel, but that she would
almost certainly be unable to recognize him. Nor was the fever yet at
its height, he said, and they could do but little for her. They could
but wait and hope. As for Quiney, he did not ask to be admitted to the
room. He seemed stunned. He sat down in the kitchen, heeding no one, and
vaguely wondering whether any lengthening of the stages of the journey
would have brought them better in time. Nay, had he not wasted precious
hours in London in vainly seeking to find himself face to face with Jack

Prudence chanced to come down-stairs. As he entered the kitchen he
forgot to give her any greeting; he only said, quickly,

"Think you she will not understand that her father is come to see her?
Surely she must understand so much, Prudence! You will tell her, will
you not? and ask her if she sees him standing before her?"

"I know not--I am afraid," said Prudence, anxiously. "Perchance it may
frighten her the more; forever she says that she sees him, and always
with an angry face toward her; and she is for hiding herself away from
him--and even talking of the river! Good lack, 'tis pitiful that she
should be so struck down--and almost at death's door--and all we can do
of so little avail."

"Prudence," said he, starting to his feet, "there is her father just
come; I hear him; now take him to her--and you will see--you will see. I
may not go--a strange face might frighten her--but I know she will
recognize him--and understand--and he will tell her to have no longer
any fear of him----"

Prudence hurried away to meet Judith's father, who was in the doorway,
getting such information as was possible, from the doctor. And then they
all of them (all but Quiney) stole gently up-stairs; and they stood at
the door in absolute silence, while Judith's father went forward to the
bed--so quietly that the girl did not seem to notice his approach.

The grandmother was there, sitting by the bedside and speaking to her in
a low voice.

"Hush thee now, sweeting, hush thee now," she was saying, and she patted
her hand. "Nay, I know 'twas ill done; 'tis quite right what thou
sayest; they treated her not well; and the poor wench anxious to please
them all. But have no fear for her--nay, trouble not thy head with
thoughts of her--she be safe at home again, I trust. Hush thee, now,
sweeting; 'twill go well with her, I doubt not; I swear to thee her
father be no longer angry with the wench; 'twill all go well with her,
and well. Have no fear."

The girl looked at her steadily, and yet with a strange light in her
eyes, as if she saw distant things before her, or was seeking to recall

"There was Susan, too," she said, in a low voice, "that sang so
sweet--oh, in the church it was so sweet to hear her; but when it was
'_The rose is from my garden gone_,' she would not sing that, though
that was ever in her sister's mind after she went away down to the
river-side. I cannot think why they would not sing it to her; perchance
the parson thought 'twas wicked--I know not now. And when she herself
would try it with the lute, nothing would come right--all went wrong
with her--all went wrong; and her father came angry and terrible to seek
her--and 'twas the parson that would drag her forth--the bushes were not
thick enough--good grandam, why should the bushes in the garden be so
thin that the terrible eyes peered through them, and she tried to hide
and could not?"

"Nay, I tell thee, sweetheart," said the grandmother, whispering to her,
"that the poor wench you speak of went home; and all were well content
with her, and her father was right pleased; indeed, indeed, 'twas so."

"Poor Judith, poor Judith!" the girl murmured to herself; and then she
laughed slightly. "She was ever the stupid one; naught would go right
with her; ay, and evil-tempered she was, too, for Quiney would ride all
the way to London for her, and she thanked him with never a word or a
look--never a word or a look, and he going all the way to please her.
Poor wench, all went wrong with her somehow; but they might have let her
go; she was so anxious to hide; and then to drag her forth--from under
the bushes--grandam, it was cruelly done of them, was it not?"

"Ay, ay, but hush thee now, dearie," her grandmother said, as she put a
cool cloth on the burning forehead. "'Tis quite well now with the poor
wench you speak of."

Her father drew nearer, and took her hand quietly.

"Judith," said he, "poor lass, I am come to see you."

For an instant there was a startled look of fear in her eyes; but that
passed, and she regarded him at first with a kind of smiling wonder, and
thereafter with a contented satisfaction, as though his presence was
familiar. Nay, she turned her attention altogether toward him now, and
addressed him--not in any heart-broken way, but cheerfully, and as if he
had been listening to her all along. It was clear that she did not in
the least know who he was.

"There now, lass," said he, "knowest thou that Quiney and I have ridden
all the way from London to see thee? and thou must lie still and rest,
and get well again, ere we can carry thee out into the garden."

She was looking at him with those strangely brilliant eyes.

"But not into the garden," she said, in a vacant kind of way. "That is
all gone away now--gone away. 'Twas long ago--when poor Judith used to
go into the garden--and right fair and beautiful it was--ay, and her
father would praise her hair and the color of it--until he grew angry,
and drove her away far from him then--and then--she wandered down to the
river--and always Susan's song was in her mind--or the other one, that
was near as sad as that, about the western wind, was it not? How went it

    "'Western wind, when will you blow?'

Nay, I cannot recall it--'tis gone out of my head, grandam, and there is
only fire there--and fire--and fire--

    "'Western wind, when will you blow?'

it went--and then about the rain next, what was it?--

    "'So weary falls the rain!'

Ay, ay, that was it now--I remember Susan singing it--

    "'Western wind, when will you blow?
      So weary falls the rain!
    Oh, if my love were in my arms,
      Or I in my bed again!'"

And here she turned away from them and fell a-crying, and hid from them,
as it were, covering her face with both her hands.

"Grandmother, grandmother," they could hear her say through her sobbing,
"there was but the one rose in my garden, and that is gone now--they
have robbed me of that--and what cared I for aught else? And Quiney is
gone too, without a word or a look--without a word or a look--and ere he
be come back--well, I shall be away by then--he will have no need to
quarrel with me and think ill of me that I chanced to meet the parson.
'Tis all over now, grandmother, and done with, and you will let me bide
with you for just a little while longer--a little while, grandmother;
'tis no great matter for so little a while, though I cannot help you as
I would--but Cicely is a good lass--and 'twill be for a little
while--for last night again I found Hamnet--ay, ay, he hath all things
in readiness now--all in readiness----" And then she uttered a slight
cry, or moan rather. "Grandmother, grandmother, why do you not keep the
parson away from me? You said that you would!"

"Hush, hush, child," the grandmother said, bending over her and
speaking softly and closely. "You are over-concerned about the poor lass
that was treated so ill. Take heart now; I tell thee all is going well
with her; her father hath taken her home again, and she is as happy as
the day is long. Nay, I swear to thee, good wench, if thou lie still and
restful, I will take thee to see her some of these days. Hush thee now,
dearie; 'tis going right well with the lass now."

The doctor touched the arm of Judith's father, and they both withdrew.

"She knew you not," said he; "and the fewer people around her the
better--they set her fancies wandering."

They went down-stairs to where Quiney was awaiting them, and the sombre
look on their faces told its tale.

"She is in danger!" he said, quickly.

The doctor was busy with his own thoughts, but he glanced at the young
man and saw the burning anxiety of his eyes.

"The fever must run its course," said he, "and Judith hath had a brave
constitution these many years that I fear not will make a good fight.
'Twas a sore pity that she was so distressed and stricken down in
spirits, as I hear, ere the fever seized her."

Quiney turned to the window.

"Too late--too late!" said he. "And yet I spared not the nag."

"You have done all that man could do," her father said, going to him.
"Nay, had I myself guessed that she was in such peril--but 'tis past
recall now."

And then he took the young man by the hand, and grasped it firmly.

"Good lad," said he, "this that you did for us was a right noble act of
kindness, and I trust in Heaven's mercy that Judith herself may live to
thank you. As for me, my thanks to you are all too poor and worthless;
and I must be content to remain your debtor--and your friend."



It was going ill with her. Late one night, Quiney, who had kept hovering
about the house, never able to sit patiently and watch the anxious
coming and going within-doors, and never able to tear himself away but
for a few hundred yards, wandered out into the clear starlit darkness.
His heart was full. They had told him the crisis was near at hand. And
almost it seemed to him that it was already over. Judith was going away
from them. And those stars overhead--he knew but little of their names;
he understood but little of the vast immensities and deeps that lay
between them; they were to him but as grains of light in a darkened
floor: and far above that floor rose the wonderful shining city that he
had heard of in the Book of Revelation. And already, so wild and
unstrung were his fancies, he could see the four square walls of jasper,
and the gates of pearl, and the wide white steps leading up to these;
and who was that who went all alone--giving no backward thought to any
she was leaving behind--up those shining steps, with a strange light on
her forehead and on her trembling hands? He saw her slowly kneel at the
gate, her head meekly bowed, her hands clasped. And when they opened it,
and when she rose, and made to enter, he could have cried aloud to her
for one backward look, one backward thought, toward Stratford town and
the friends of her childhood and her youth. Alas! there was no such
thing. There was wonder on her face, as she turned to this side and to
that, and she went hesitatingly; and when they took her hands to lead
her forward, she regarded them--this side and that--pleased and
wondering and silent; but there was never a thought of Stratford town.
Could that be Judith that was going away from them so--she that all of
them had known so dearly? And to leave her own friends without one word
of farewell! Those others there--she went with them smiling and
wondering, and looking in silence from one to the other--but she knew
them not. Her friends were here--here--with breaking hearts because she
had gone away and forgotten them, and vanished within those far-shining

And then some sudden and sullen thought of the future would overtake
him. The injunctions laid on him by Judith's father could not be
expected to last forever. And if this were to be so--if the love and
desire of his youth were to be stolen away from him--if her bright young
life, that was so beautiful a thing to all who knew her, was to be
extinguished, and leave instead but a blankness and an aching memory
through the long years--then there might arrive a time for a settlement.
The parson was still coming about the house, for the women-folk were
comforted by his presence; but Judith's father regarded him darkly, and
had scarce ever a word for him. As for Quiney, he moved away, or left
the house, when the good man came near--it was safer so. But in the
future? When one was freer to act? For those injunctions could not be
expected to last forever; and what greater joy could then be secured
than the one fierce stroke of justice and revenge? He did not reason out
the matter much: it was a kind of flame in his heart whenever he thought
of it.

And in truth that catastrophe was nearly occurring now. He had been
wandering vaguely along the highways, appealing to the calmness of the
night, as it were, and the serenity of the starlit heavens, for some
quieting of his terrible fears; and then in his restlessness he walked
back toward the cottage, anxious for further news and yet scarcely
daring to enter and ask. He saw the dull red light in the window, but
could hear no sound. And would not his very footfall on the path disturb
her? They all of them went about the house like ghosts. And were it not
better that he should remain here, so that the stillness dwelling around
the place should not be broken even by his breathing? So quiet the night
was, and so soundless, he could have imagined that the wings of the
angel of mercy were brooding over the little cottage, hushing it, as it
were, and bringing rest and sleep to the sore-bewildered brain. He would
not go near. These were the precious hours. And if peace had at last
stolen into the sick-chamber, and closed the troubled eyelids, were it
not better to remain away, lest even a whisper should break the charm?

Suddenly he saw the door of the cottage open, and in the dull light a
dark figure appeared. He heard footsteps on the garden-path. At first
his heart felt like a stone, and he could not move, for he thought it
was some one coming to seek him with evil views; but presently, in the
clear starlight, he knew who this was that was now approaching him. He
lost his senses. All the black night went red.

"So, good parson," said he (but he clinched his fists together so that
he should not give way), "art thou satisfied with thy handiwork?"

There was more of menace in the tone than in the taunt; at all events,
with some such phrase as "Out of the way, tavern-brawler!" the parson
raised his stick, as if to defend himself, And then the next instant, he
was gripped firm, as in a vise; the stick was twisted from his grasp
and whirled away far into the dark; and forthwith, for it all happened
in a moment, five fingers had him by the back of the neck.

There was one second of indecision--what it meant to this young athlete,
who had his eyes afire and his mind afire with thoughts of the ill that
had been done to the one he loved the dearest, can well be imagined. But
he flung his enemy from him, forward, into the night.

"Take thy dog's life and welcome--coward and woman-striker!"

He waited; there was no answer. And then, all shaking from the terrible
pressure he had put on himself, and still hungering and athirst to go
back and settle the matter then and there, he turned and walked along
the road, avoiding the cottage, and still with his heart aflame, and
wondering whether he had done well to let the hour of vengeance go.

But that did not last long. What cared he for this man that any thought
of him should occupy him at such a moment? All his anxieties were
elsewhere--in that hushed, small chamber, where the lamp of life was
flickering low, and all awaiting, with fear and trembling, what the dawn
might bring. And if she were to slip away so--escaping from them, as it
were--without a word of recognition? It seemed so hard that the solitary
figure going up those far, wide steps should have no thought for them
she had left behind. As he saw her there, content was on her face, and a
mild radiance and wonder; and her new companions were pleasant to her.
She would go away with them--she was content to be with them--she would
disappear among them, and leave no sign. And Sunday morning after Sunday
morning he would look in vain for her coming through the church-yard,
under the trees; and there would be a vacant place in the pew; no matter
who might be there, one face would be wanting; and in the afternoon the
wide meadows would be empty. Look where he might--from the foot-bridge
over the river, from Bardon Hill, from the Wier Brake--there would be no
more chance of his descrying Judith walking with Prudence--the two
figures that he could make out at any distance almost. And what a
radiance there used to be on her face--not that mild wonder that he saw
as she passed away with her companions within the shining gates, but a
happy, audacious radiance, so that he could see she was laughing long
ere he came near her. That was Judith--that was the Judith he had
known--laughing, radiant--in summer meadows, as it seemed to
him--careless of the young men, though her eyes would regard them--and
always with her chief secrets and mystifications for her friend
Prudence. That was Judith--not this poor, worn sufferer, wandering
through darkened ways, the frail lamp of her life going down and down,
so that they dared not speak in the room. And that message that she had
left for him with Prudence--was it a kind of farewell? They were about
the last words she had spoken ere her speech lost all coherence and
meaning--a farewell before she entered into that dark and unknown realm.
And there was a touch of reproach in them too--"Tell him he did me wrong
to think I had gone to meet the parson in the church-yard: 'twas but a
chance." The Judith of those former days was far too proud to make any
such explanation; but this poor stricken creature seemed anxious to
appease every one and make friends. And was he to have no chance of
begging her forgiveness for doing her that wrong, and of telling how
little she need regard it, and how that she might dismiss the parson
from her mind altogether, as he had done? The ride to London--she knew
nothing of that; she knew nothing of her father having come all the way
to see her. Why, as they came riding along by Uxbridge and Wycombe, and
Woodstock and Enstone, many a time he looked forward to telling Judith
of what he had done; and he hoped that she would go round to the stable
and have a word for the Galloway nag and pet the good beast's neck. But
all that was over now, and only this terrible darkness and the silence
of the roads and the trees; and always the dull, steady, ominous light
in the small window. And still more terrible, that vision overhead--the
far and mystic city, and Judith entering with those new and strange
companions, regarding this one and that, and ever with a smile on her
face and a mild wonder in her eyes; they leading her away by the hand,
and she timid, and looking from one to the other, but pleased to go with
them into the strange country. And as for her old friends, no backward
look or backward thought for them; for them only the sad and empty town,
the voiceless meadows, the vacant space in the pew, to which many an eye
would be turned as week by week came round. And there would be a grave
somewhere that Prudence would not leave untended.

But with the first gray light of the dawn there came a sudden trembling
joy, that was so easily and eagerly translated into a wild, audacious
hope. Judith had fallen into a sound sleep--a sleep hushed and profound,
and no longer tortured with moanings and dull low cries as if for pity;
a slumber profound and beneficent, with calmer breathing and a calmer
pulse. If only on the awakening she might show that the crisis was over,
and she started on the road--however long and tedious that might
be--toward the winning back of life and health!

It was Prudence who brought him the news. She looked like a ghost in the
wan light, as she opened the door and came forth. She knew he would not
be far away; indeed, his eyes were more accustomed to this strange light
than hers, and ere she had time to look about and search for him he was
there. And when she told him this news, he could not speak for a little
while, for his mind rushed forward blindly and wildly to a happy
consummation; he would have no misgivings; this welcome sleep was a sure
sign Judith was won back to them; not yet was she to go away all alone
up those wide, sad steps.

"And you, Prudence," said he, or rather he whispered it eagerly, that no
sound should disturb the profound quiet of the house, "now you must go
and lie down; you are worn out; why, you are all trembling----"

"The morning air is a little cold," said she; but it was not that that
caused her trembling.

"You must go and lie down, and get some sleep too," said he (but
glancing up at the window, as if his thoughts were there). "What a
patient watcher you have been! And now when there is this chance--do,
dear Prudence, go within and lie down for a while----"

"Oh, how could I?" she said; and unknown to herself she was wringing her
hands--not from grief, but from mere excitement and nervousness. "But
for this sleep, now, the doctor was fearing the worst. I know it, though
he would not say it. And she is so weak! Even if this sleep calm her
brain, or if she come out of it in her right mind--one never knows, she
is so worn away--she might waken only to slip away from us."

But he would not hear of that. No, no; this happy slumber was but the
beginning of her recovery. Now that she was on the turn, Judith's brave
constitution would fight through the rest. He knew it; he was sure of
it; had there ever been a healthier, a happier wench--or one with such
gallant spirits and cheerfulness?

"You have not seen her these last two days," Prudence said, sadly.

"Nay, I fear not now--I know she will fight through," said he,
confidently (even with an excess of confidence, so as to cheer this
patient and gentle nurse). "And what a spite it is that I can do
nothing? Did you ask the doctor, Prudence? Is there nothing that I can
fetch him from Harwich? ay, or from London, for that matter? 'Tis well
for you that can do so much for your friend: what can I do but hang
about the lanes? I would take a message anywhere, for any of you, if you
would but tell me; 'tis all that I can do. But when she is getting
better, that will be different--that will be all different then; I shall
be able to get her many things, to please her and amuse her;
and--and--think of this, Prudence," said he, his fancies running away
with him in his eagerness, "do you not think, now, that when she is well
enough to be carried into the garden--do you not think that Pleydell and
I could devise some kind of couch, to be put on wheels, see you, and
slung on leather bands, so that it would go easily? Why, I swear it
could be made--and might be in readiness for her. What think you,
Prudence? No one could object if we prepared it. Ay, and we should get
it to go as smooth as velvet, so that she could be taken along the lanes
or through the meadows."

"I would there were need of it," Prudence said, wistfully. "You go too
fast. Nay, but if she come well out of this deep sleep, who knows? Pray
Heaven there be need for all that you can do for her."

The chirping of a small bird close by startled them--it was the first
sound of the coming day. And then she said, regarding him,

"Would you like to see Judith--for a moment? 'Twould not disturb her."

He stepped back, with a sudden look of dismay on his face.

"What mean you, Prudence?" he said, quickly. "You do not think
that--that--there is fear--that I should look at her now?"

"Nay, not so; I trust not," she said simply. "But if you wished, you
might slip up the stair; 'twould do no harm."

He stooped and took off his shoes and threw them aside; then she led the
way into the house, and they went stealthily up the short wooden stair.
The door was open an inch or two; Prudence opened it still farther, but
did not go into the room. Nor did he; he remained at the threshold, for
Judith's mother, who was sitting by the bedside, and who had noticed the
slight opening of the door, had raised her hand quietly, as if in
warning. And was this Judith, then, that the cold morning light,
entering by the small casement, showed him--worn and wasted, the natural
radiance of her face all fled, and in place of that a dull, hectic tone
that in nowise concealed the ravages the fever had made? But she slept
sound. The bent arm, that she had raised to her head ere she fell
asleep, lay absolutely still. No, it was not the Judith he had known--so
gay and radiant and laughing in the summer meadows; but the wasted form
still held a precious life, and he had no mistrust--he would not doubt;
there was there still what would win back for him the Judith that he had
known--ay, if they had to wait all through the winter for the first
silver-white days of spring.

They stole down-stairs again and went to the front door. All the world
was awaking now; the light was clear around them; the small birds were
twittering in the bushes.

"And will you not go and get some sleep now, Prudence?" said he. "Surely
you have earned it; and now there is the chance."

"I could not," she said simply. "There will be time for sleep by-and-by.
But now, if you would do us a service, will you go over to the town, and
tell Susan that Judith is sleeping peacefully, and that she need not
hurry back, for there be plenty of us to watch and wait? And Julius
would like to hear the good news, that I know. Then you yourself--do you
not need rest? Why----"

"Heed not for me, dear Prudence," said he quickly, as if it were not
worth while wasting time on that topic. "But is there naught else I can
do for you? Naught that I can bring for you--against her getting well

"Nay, 'tis all too soon for that," was Prudence's answer. "I would the
occasion were here, and sure."

Well, he went away over to the town, and told his tale to those that
were astir, leaving a message for those who were not; and then he passed
on to his own house, and threw himself on his bed. But he could not
rest. It was too far away, while all his thoughts were concentrated on
the small cottage over there. So he wandered back thither, and again had
assurance that Judith was doing well; and then he went quietly up to
the summer-house and sat down there; and scarcely had he folded his arms
on the little table, and bent forward his head, than he was in a deep
sleep, nature claiming her due at last.

The hours passed; he knew nothing of them. He was awakened by Judith's
father, and he looked around him strangely, for he saw by the light that
it was now afternoon.

"Good lad," said he, "I make no scruple of rousing you. There is better
news. She is awake, and quite calm and peaceable, and in her right
mind--though sadly weak and listless, poor wench."

"Have you seen her--have you spoken with her?" he said, eagerly.

"Nay, not yet," Judith's father said. "I am doubtful. She is so faint
and weak. I would not disturb her----"

"I pray you, sir, go and speak with her!" Quiney entreated. "Nay, I know
that will give her more peace of mind than anything. And if she begin to
recall what happened ere she fell ill--I pray you, sir, of your
kindness, go and speak with her."

Judith's father went away to the house slowly, and with his head bent in
meditation. He spoke to the doctor for a few minutes. But when, after
some deliberation, he went up-stairs and into the room, it was his own
advice, his own plan, he was acting on.

He went forward to the bedside and took the chair that the old
grandmother had instantly vacated, and sat down just as if nothing had

"Well, lass, how goes it with thee?" he said, with an air of easy
unconcern. "Bravely well, I hear. Thou must haste thee now, for soon we
shall be busy with the brewing."

She regarded him in a strange way, perhaps wondering whether this was
another vision. And then she said, faintly,

"Why are you come back to Stratford, father?"

"Oh, I have many affairs on hand," said he; "and yet I like not the
garden to be so empty. I cannot spare thee over here much longer. 'Tis
better when thou art in the garden, and little Bess with thee--nay, I
swear to thee thou disturbest me not--and so must thou get quickly well
and home again."

He took her hand--the thin, worn, white hand--and patted it.

"Why," said he, "I hear they told thee some foolish story about me.
Believe them not, lass. Thou and I are old friends, despite thy saucy
ways, and thy laughing at the young lads about, and thy lecturing of
little Bess Hall--oh, thou hast thy faults--a many of them too--but heed
no idle stories, good lass, that come between me and thee. Nay, I will
have a sharp word for thee an thou do not as the doctor bids; and thou
must rest thee still and quiet, and trouble not thy head, for we want
thee back to us at New Place. Why, I tell thee I cannot have the garden
left so empty; wouldst have me with none to talk with but goodman
Matthew? So now farewell for the moment, good wench; get what sleep thou
canst, and take what the doctor bids thee; why, knowest thou not of the
ribbons and gloves I have brought thee all the way from London? I
warrant me they will please thee!"

He patted her hand again, and rose and left, as if it were all a matter
of course. For a minute or two after the girl looked dazed and
bewildered, as if she were trying to recall many things; but always she
kept looking at the hand that he had held, and there was a pleased light
in her sad and tired eyes. She lay still and silent--for so she had been

But by-and-by she said, in a way that was like the ghost of Judith's
voice of old,

"Grandmother--I can scarce hold up my hand--will you help me? What is
this that is on my head?"

"Why, 'tis a pretty lace cap that Susan brought thee," the grandmother
said, "and we would have thee smart and neat ere thy father came in."

But she had got her hand to her head now, and then the truth became
known to her. She began to cry bitterly.

"Oh, grandmother, grandmother," she said, or sobbed, "they have cut off
my hair, and my father will never look with favor on me again. 'Twas all
he ever praised!"

"Dearie, dearie, thy hair will grow again as fair as ever--ay, and who
ever had prettier?" the old grandmother said. "Why, surely; and the
roses will come to thy cheeks, too, that were ever the brightest of any
in the town. Thy father--heardst thou not what he said a moment
ago--that he could not bear to be without thee? Nay, nay, fret not, good
lass, there be plenty that will right gladly wait for the growing of thy
hair again--ay, ay, there be plenty and to spare that will hold thee in
high favor and think well of thee--and thy father most of all of
them--have no fear!"

And so the grandmother got her soothed and hushed, and at last she lay
still and silent. But she had been thinking.

"Grandmother," said she, regarding her thin, wasted hand, "is my face
like that?"

"Hush thee, child; thou must not speak more now, or the doctor will be
scolding me."

"But tell me, grandmother," she pleaded.

"Why, then," she answered, evasively, "it be none so plump as it
were--but all that will mend--ay, ay, good lass, 'twill mend, surely."

Again she lay silent for a while, but her mind was busy with its own

"Grandmother," she said, "will you promise me this--to keep Quiney away?
You will not let him come into the room, good grandmother, should he
ever come over to the cottage?"

"Ay, and be this thy thanks, then, to him that rode all the way to
London town to bring thy father to thee?" said the old dame, with some
affectation of reproach. "Were I at thy age I would have a fairer
message for him."

"A message, grandmother?" the girl said, turning her languid eyes to her
with some faint eagerness. "Ay, that I would send him willingly. He went
to London for me, that I know; Prudence said so. But perchance he would
not care to have it, would he, think you?"

The old dame listened, to make sure that the doctor was not within
hearing, for this talking was forbidden; but she was anxious to have the
girl's mind pleased and at rest, and so she took Judith's hand and
whispered to her.

"A message? Ay, I warrant me the lad would think more of it than of
aught else in the world. Why, sweetheart, he hath been never away from
the house all this time--watching to be of service to any one--night and
day it hath been so--and that he be not done to death passes my
understanding. Ay, and the riding to London, and the bringing of thy
father, and all--is't not worth a word of thanks? Nay, the youth hath
won to my favor, I declare to thee; if none else will speak for him I
will; a right good honest youth, I warrant. But there now, sweeting,
hush thee; I may not speak more to thee, else the doctor will be for
driving me forth."

There was silence for some time; then Judith said, wistfully,

"What flowers are in the garden now, grandmother?"

The old dame went to the window slowly; it was an excuse for not having
too much talking going on.

"The garden be far past its best now," said she, "but there be marigolds
and Michaelmas daisies----"

"Could you get me a bit of rosemary, grandmother?" the girl asked.

"Rosemary!" she cried in affright, for the mention of the plant seemed
to strike a funeral note. "Foolish wench, thou knowest I can never get
the rosemary bushes through the spring frosts. Rosemary, truly! What
wantest thou with rosemary?"

"Or a pansy, then?"

"A pansy, doubtless--ay, ay, that be better now--we may find thee a
pansy somewhere--and a plenty of other things, so thou lie still and get

"Nay, I want but the one, grandmother," she said slowly. "You know I
cannot write a message to him, and yet I would send him some token of
thanks for all that he hath done. And would not that do, grandmother?
Could you but find me a pansy--if there be one left anywhere--and a
small leaf or two; and if 'twere put in a folded paper, and you could
give it him from me, and no one knowing? I would rest the happier,
grandmother, for I would not have him think me ungrateful--no, no, he
must not think me that. And then, good grandmother, you will tell him
that I wish him not to see me; only--only, the little flower will show
him that I am not ungrateful; for I would not have him think me that."

"Rest you still now, then, sweeting," the old dame said. "I warrant me
we will have the message conveyed to him; but rest you still--rest you
still--and ere long you will not be ashamed to show him the roses coming
again into your cheeks."



This fresh and clear morning, with a south wind blowing and a blue sky
overhead, made even the back yard of Quiney's premises look cheerful,
though the surroundings were mostly empty barrels and boxes. And he was
singing, too, as he went on with his task; sometimes--

    "Play on, minstrèl, play on, minstrèl,
      My lady is mine only girl;"

and sometimes--

    "I bought thee petticoats of the best,
      The cloth so fine as fine might be;
    I gave thee jewels for thy chest,
      And all this cost I spent on thee;"

or, again, he would practise his part in the new catch--

    "Merrily sang the Ely monks,
      When rowed thereby Canute the King."

And yet this that he was so busy about seemed to have nothing to do with
his own proper trade. He had chalked up on the wall a space about the
size of an ordinary cottage-window; at each of the upper corners he had
hammered in a nail, and now he was endeavoring to suspend from these
supports, so that it should stand parallel with the bottom line, an
oblong basket roughly made of wire, and pretty obviously of his own
construction. His dinner of bread and cheese and ale stood untouched and
unheeded on a bench hard by. Sometimes he whistled, sometimes he sang,
for the morning air was fresh and pleasant, and the sunlight all about
was enlivening.

Presently Judith's father made his appearance, and the twisting and
shaping of the wire hooks instantly ceased.

"She is still going on well?" the lad said, with a rapid and anxious

"But slowly--slowly," her father answered. "Nay, we must not demand too
much. If she but hold her own now, time is on our side, and the doctor
is more than ever hopeful that the fever hath left no serious harm
behind it. When that she is a little stronger, they talk of having her
carried down-stairs--the room is larger--and the window hath a pleasant

"I heard of that," said Quiney, glancing at the oblong basket of wire.

"I have brought you other news this morning," Judith's father said,
taking out a letter and handing it to Quiney. "But I pray you say
nothing of it to the wench; her mind is at rest now; we will let the
past go."

"Nay, I can do no harm in that way," said the younger man, in something
of a hurt tone, "for they will not let me see her."

"No, truly? Why, that is strange, now," her father said, affecting to be
surprised, but having a shrewd guess that this was some fancy of the
girl's own. "But they would have her kept quiet, I know."

Quiney was now reading the letter. It was from one of Judith's father's
companions in London, and the beginning of it was devoted to the
imparting of certain information that had apparently been asked from him
touching negotiations for the purchase of a house in Blackfriars. Quiney
rightly judged that this part had naught to do with him, and scanned it
briefly; and as he went on he came to that which had a closer interest
for him.

The writer's style was ornate and cumbrous and confused, but his story,
in plainer terms, was this: The matter of the purloined play was now all
satisfactorily ascertained and settled, except as regarded Jack Orridge
himself, whom a dire mischance had befallen. It appeared that, having
married a lady possessed of considerable wealth, his first step was to
ransom--at what cost the writer knew not--the play that had been sold to
the booksellers, not by himself but by one Francis Lloyd. It was said
that this Lloyd had received but a trifle for it, and had, in truth,
parted with it in the course of a drunken frolic; but that "Gentleman
Jack," as they called him, had to disburse a goodly sum ere he could get
the manuscript back into his own hands. That forthwith he had come to
the theatre and delivered up the play, with such expressions of
penitence and shame that they could not forbear to give him full
quittance for his fault. But this was not all; for, having heard that
Francis Lloyd had in many quarters been making a jest of the matter, and
telling of Orridge's adventures in Warwickshire, and naming names, the
young man had determined to visit him with personal chastisement, but
had been defeated in this by Lloyd being thrust into prison for debt.
That thereafter Lloyd, being liberated from jail, was sitting in a
tavern with certain companions; and there "Gentleman Jack" found him,
and dealt him a blow on the face with the back of his hand, with a mind
to force the duello upon him. But that here again Orridge had
ill-fortune; for Lloyd, being in his cups, would fight then and there,
and flung himself on him, without sword or anything, as they thought;
but that presently, in the struggle, Orridge uttered a cry, "I am
stabbed," and fell headlong, and they found him with a dagger-wound in
his side, bleeding so that they thought he would have died ere help
came. And that in truth he had been nigh within death's door, and was
not yet out of the leech's hands; while as for Lloyd, he had succeeded
in making good his escape, and was now in Flanders, as some reported.
This was the gist of the story, as far as Quiney was interested;
thereafter came chiefly details about the theatre, and the writer
concluded with wishing his correspondent all health and happiness, and
bidding him ever remember "his true loving friend, Henry Condell."

Quiney handed back the letter.

"I wish the dagger had struck the worser villain of the two," said he.

"'Tis no concern of ours," Judith's father said. "And I would have the
wench hear never a word more of the matter. Nay, I have already answered
her that 'twas all well and settled in London, and no harm done; and the
sooner 'tis quite forgotten the better. The young man hath made what
amends he could; I trust he may soon be well of his wound again. And
married, is he? Perchance his hurt may teach him to be more of a

Judith's father put the letter in his pocket, and was for leaving, when
Quiney suggested that if he were going to the cottage he would accompany
him, as some business called him to Bidford. And so they set out
together--the younger man having first of all made a bundle of the wire
basket and the nails and hooks and what not, so that he could the more
easily carry them.

It was a clear and mild October day; the wide country very silent; the
woods turning to yellow and russet now and here and there golden leaves
fluttering down from the elms. So quiet and peaceful it all was in the
gracious sunlight; the steady ploughing going on; groups of people
gleaning in the bean-field, but not a sound of any kind reaching them,
save the cawing of some distant rooks. And when they drew near to
Shottery, Quiney had an eye for the cottage-gardens, to see what flowers
or shrubs were still available; for of course the long wire basket, when
it was hung outside Judith's window, must be filled--ay, and filled
freshly at frequent intervals. If the gardens or the fields or the
hedge-rows would furnish sufficient store, there would be no lack of
willing hands for the gathering.

They went first to the front door (the room that Judith was to be moved
into looked to the back), and here, ere they had crossed the threshold,
they beheld a strange thing. The old grandmother was standing at the
foot of the wooden stair, with a small looking-glass in her hand; she
had not heard them approach, so it was with some amazement they saw her
deliberately let fall the glass on to the stone passage, where naturally
it was smashed into a hundred fragments. And forthwith she began to
scold and rate the little Cicely, and that in so loud a voice that her
anger must have been plainly heard in the sick-room above.

"Ah, thou mischief, thou imp, thou idle brat, thou must needs go break
the only looking-glass in the house! A handy wench, truly; thou can hold
nothing with thy silly fingers, but must break cup and platter and pane,
and now the looking-glass--'twere well done to box thine ears, thou

And with that she patted the little girl on the shoulder, and shrewdly
winked and smiled and nodded her head; and then she went up the stair,
again and loudly bewailing her misfortune.

"What a spite be this now!" they could hear her say, at the door of
Judith's room. "The only looking-glass in the house and just as thou
wouldst have it sent for! That mischievous, idle little wench--heard you
the crash, sweetheart? Well, well, no matter; I must still have the
tiring of thee--against any one coming to see thee; ay, and I would have
thee brave and smart, when thou art able to sit up a bit--ay, and thy
hair will soon be grown again, sweeting--and then the trinkets that thy
father brought--and the lace cuffs that Quiney gave thee--these and all
thou must wear. Was ever such a spite, now?--our only looking-glass to
be broken so; but thou shalt not want it, sweetheart--nay, nay, thou
must rest in my hands--I will have thee smart enough; when any would
come to see thee----"

That was all they heard, for now she shut the door; but both of them
guessed readily enough why the good dame had thrown down and smashed the
solitary mirror of the house.

Then they went within, and heard from Prudence that Judith was going on
well but very slowly, and that her mind was in perfect calm and content,
only that at times she seemed anxious that her father should return to
London, lest his affairs should be hindered.

"And truly I must go ere long," said he, "but not yet. Not until she is
more fairly on the highway."

They were now in the room that was to be given up to Judith, because of
its larger size.

"Prudence," said Quiney, "if the bed were placed so--by the window--she
might be propped up, so that when she chose she could look abroad. Were
not that a simple thing--and cheerful for her? And I have arranged a
small matter so that every morning she may find some fresh blossoms
awaiting her--and yet not disturbing her with any one wishing to enter
the room. Methinks one might better fix it now, ere she be brought down,
so that the knocking may not harm her."

"I would she were in a fit state to be brought down," Prudence said,
rather sadly; "for never saw I any one so weak and helpless."

All the same he went away to see whether the oblong basket of wire and
the fastenings would fit; and although (being a tall youth) he could
easily reach the foot of the window with his hands, he had to take a
chair with him in order to gain the proper height for the nails.
Prudence from within saw what he was after, and when it was all fixed up
she opened one of the casements to speak to him, and her face was well

"Truly, now, that was kindly thought of," said she. "And shall I tell
her of this that you have contrived for her?"

"Why, 'tis in this way, Prudence," said he, rather shamefacedly, "she
need not know whether 'tis this one or that that puts a few blossoms in
the basket--'twill do for any one--any one that is passing along the
road or through the meadows, and picks up a pretty thing here or there.
'Twill soon be hard to get such things--save some red berries or the
like--but when any can stop in passing and add their mite, 'twill be all
the easier, for who that knows her but hath good-will toward her?"

"And her thanks to whom?" said Prudence, smiling.

"Why, to all of them," said he, evasively. "Nay, I would not have her
even know that I nailed up the little basket--perchance she might think
I was too officious."

"And can you undo it?" she asked. "Can you take it down?"

"Surely," he answered, and he lifted the basket off the hooks to show

"For," said she, "if you would bring it round, might we not put a few
flowers in it, and have them carried up to Judith, to show her what you
have designed for her? In truth it would please her."

He was not proof against this temptation. He carried the basket round, and
they fell to gathering such blossoms as the garden afforded--marigolds,
monthly roses, Michaelmas daisies, and the like, with some scarlet hips
from the neighboring hedges, and some broad green leaves to serve as a
cushion for all of these. But he did not stay to hear how his present
was received. He was on his way to Bidford, and on foot, for he had kept
his promise with the Galloway nag. So he bade Prudence farewell, and
said he would call in again on his way back in the evening.

The wan, sad face lit up with something like pleasure when Judith saw
this little present brought before her; it was not the first by many of
similar small attentions that he had paid her--tokens of a continual
thoughtfulness and affection--though he was not even permitted to see
her, much less to speak with her. How his business managed to thrive
during this period they could hardly guess, only that he seemed to find
time for everything. Apparently, he was content with the most hap-hazard
meals, and seemed able to get along with scarcely any sleep at all; and
always he was the most hopeful one in the house, and would not admit
that Judith's recovery seemed strangely slow, but regarded everything as
happening for the best, and tending toward a certain and happy issue.
One result of his being continually in or about the cottage was
this--that Master Walter Blaise had not looked near them since the night
on which the fever reached its crisis. The women-folk surmised that, now
there was a fair hope of Judith's recovery, he perchance imagined his
ministrations to be no longer necessary, and was considerately keeping
out of the way, seeing that he could be of no use. At all events, they
did not discuss the subject much, for more than one of them had
perceived that, whenever the parson's name was mentioned, Judith's
father became reticent and reserved--which was about his only way of
showing displeasure--so that they got into the habit of omitting all
mention of Master Blaise, for the better preserving and maintaining the
serenity of the domestic atmosphere.

And yet Master Blaise came to be talked of--and to Judith herself--this
very morning. When Prudence went into the room, carrying Quiney's
flowers, the old grandmother said she would go down and see how dinner
was getting forward (she having more mouths to feed than usual), and
Prudence was left in her place, with strict injunctions to see that
Judith took the small portions of food that had been ordered her at the
proper time. Prudence sat down by the bedside. These two had not had
much confidential chatting of late, for Judith had been forbidden to
talk much, and was, indeed, far too weak and languid for that, while
generally there was some third person about in attendance. But now they
were alone; and Prudence had a long tale to tell of Quiney's constant
watchfulness and care, and of all the little things he had thought of
and arranged for her, up to the construction of the wire flower-basket.

"But what he hath done, Judith, to anger Parson Blaise, I cannot make
out," she continued--"ay, and to anger him sorely; for yesternight, when
I went over to see how my brother did, I met Master Blaise, and he
stayed me and talked with me for a space. Nay, he spoke too harshly of
Quiney, so that I had to defend him, and say what I had seen of
him--truly, I was coming near to speaking with warmth--and then he went
away from that. And think you what he came to next, Judith?"

The pale, quiet face of the speaker was overspread with a blush, and she
looked timidly at her friend.

"What then, sweetheart?"

"Perchance I should not tell you," she said, with some hesitation; and
then she said, more frankly, "Nay, why should there be any concealment
between us, Judith? And he laid no charge of secrecy on me--in truth, I
said that I would think of it, and might even ask for counsel and
guidance. He would have made me his wife, Judith."

Judith betrayed no atom of surprise, nay, she almost instantly smiled
her approval--it was a kind of friendly congratulation, as it were--and
she would have reached out her hand only that she was so weak.

"I am glad of that, dear mouse," said she, as pleasantly as she could.
"There would you be in your proper place; is't not so? And what said
you? what said you, sweetheart? Ah, they all would welcome you, be sure;
and a parson's wife--a parson's wife, Prudence--would not that be your
proper place? would you not be happy so?"

"I know not," the girl said, and she spoke wistfully, and as if she were
regarding distant things. "He had nearly persuaded me, good heart, for
indeed there is such power and clearness in all he says; and it was
almost put before me as a duty, and something incumbent on me, for the
pleasing of all of them, and the being useful and serviceable to so
many; and then--and then----"

There was another timid glance, and she took Judith's hand; and her eyes
were downcast as she made the confession:

"Nay, I will tell thee the truth, sweetheart. Had he spoken to me
earlier--I--I might not have said him nay--so good a man and earnest
withal, and not fearing to give offence if he can do true service to the
Master of us all. Judith, if it be unmaidenly, blame me not, but at one
time I had thoughts of him; and sometimes, ashamed, I would not go to
your house when he was there in the afternoon, though Julius wondered,
seeing that there was worship and profitable expounding. But
now--now--now 'tis different."

"Why, dear mouse, why?" Judith said, with some astonishment; "you must
not flout the good man. 'Tis an honorable offer."

Prudence was looking back on that past time.

"If he had spoken then," she said, absently, "my heart would have
rejoiced; and well I knew 'twould have been no harm to you, dear Judith,
for who could doubt how you were inclined--ay, through all your quarrels
and misunderstandings? And if 'twas you the good parson wished for in
those days----"

"Prudence," her friend said, reproachfully, "you do ill to go back over
a by-gone story. If you had thoughts of him then, when as yet he had not
spoken, why not now, when he would have you be his wife? 'Tis an
honorable offer, as I say; and you--were you not meant for a parson's
wife, sweetheart?"

Then Prudence regarded her with her honest eyes.

"I should be afraid, Judith. Perchance I have listened overmuch to your
grandmother's talking and to Quiney's; they are both of them angered
against him. They say he wrought you ill, and was cruel when he should
have been gentle with you, and was overproud of his office. Nay, I
marked that your father had scarce ever a word for him when he was
coming over to the cottage, but would get away somehow and leave him.
And--and methinks I should be afraid, Judith; 'tis no longer as it used
to be in former days; and then, without perfect confidence, how should
one dare to venture on such a step? No, no, Judith, I should be afraid."

"In truth I cannot advise thee, then, dear heart," her friend said,
looking at her curiously. "For more than any I know should you marry one
that would be gentle with you and kind. And think you that the parson
would overlord it?"

"I know not--I know not," she said, in the same absent way. "But with
doubt, with hesitation, without perfect confidence--how could one take
such a step?"

And then she bethought her.

"Why, now, all this talking over my poor affairs?" she said, more
cheerfully. "A goodly nurse I am proving myself! 'Tis thy affairs are of
greater moment, and thou must push forward, sweetheart, and get well
more rapidly, else they will say we are careless and foolish, that
cannot bring thee into firmer health."

"But I am well content," said Judith, with a perfectly placid smile.

"Content! But you must not be content," Prudence exclaimed. "Would you
remain within-doors until your hair be grown? Vanity is it, then? Ah,
for shame--you that always professed to be so proud, and careless of
what they thought! Content, truly! Look at so thin a hand--are you
content to remain so?"

"I am none so ill," Judith said, pleasantly. "The days pass well enough,
and every one is kind."

"But I say you must not be content!" Prudence again remonstrated. "Did
ever any one see such a poor, weak, white hand as that? Look at the
thin, thin veins."

"Ah, but you know not, sweetheart," Judith said, and she herself looked
at those thin blue veins in the white hand; "they seem to me to be
running full of music and happiness ever since I came out of the fever
and found my father talking to me in the old way."



There was much laughing among the good folk of Stratford town--or rather
among those of them allowed to visit Quiney's back yard--over the
nondescript vehicle that he and his friend Pleydell were constructing
there. But that was chiefly at the first, when the neighbors would call
it a coffin on wheels or a grown-up cradle; afterward, when it grew
into shape and began to exhibit traces of decoration (the little canopy
at the head, for example, was covered, over with blue taffeta that made
a shelter from the sun), they moderated their ridicule, and at last
declared it a most ingenious and useful contrivance, and one that went
as easily on its leather bands as any king's coach that ever was built.
And they said they hoped it would do good service, for they knew it was
meant for Judith; and she had won the favor and good-will of many in
that town, in so far as an unmarried young woman was deemed worthy of

But that was an anxious morning when Quiney set forth with this strange
vehicle for the cottage. Little Willie Hart was there, and Quiney had
flung him inside, saying he would give him a ride as far as Shottery,
but thereafter he did not speak a word to the boy. For this was the
morning on which he was to see Judith for the first time since the fever
had left her, and not only that, but he had been appointed to carry her
down-stairs to the larger room below. This was by the direct
instructions of the doctor. Judith's father was now in London again, the
doctor was not a very powerful man, the staircase was over-narrow to let
two of the women try it between them; who, therefore, was there but this
young athlete to gather up that precious charge and bear her gently
forth? But when he thought of that first meeting with Judith he
trembled, and dismay and apprehension filled his heart lest he should
show himself in the smallest way shocked by her appearance. Careless as
she might have been of other things, she had always put a value on that;
she knew she had good looks, and she liked to look pretty and dainty,
and to wear becoming and pretty things. And again and again he schooled
himself and argued with himself. He must be prepared to find her
changed--nay, had he not already had one glimpse of her, as she lay
asleep, in the cold light of the dawn?--he must be prepared to find the
happy and radiant face no longer that, but all faded and white and worn,
the clear shining eyes no longer laughing, but sunken and sad, and the
beautiful sun-brown hair--that was her chiefest pride of all--no longer
clustering round her neck. Not that he himself cared--Judith was for him
always and ever Judith, whatever she might be like, but his terror was
lest he should betray, in the smallest fashion, some pained surprise. He
knew how sensitive she was, and as an invalid she would be even more so,
and what a fine thing it would be if her eyes were suddenly to fill
with tears on witnessing his disappointment! And so he argued and
argued, and strove to think of Judith as a ghost--as anything rather
than her former self; and when he reached the cottage, he asked whether
Judith was ready to be brought down, in so matter-of-fact a way that he
seemed perfectly unconcerned.

Well, she was not ready, for her grandmother had the tiring of her, and
the old dame was determined that (if she had her way) her grandchild
should look none too like an invalid. If the sun-brown curls were gone,
at least the cap that she wore should have pretty blue ribbons where it
met under the chin. And she would have her wear the lace cuffs, too,
that Quiney had brought her from Warwick--did not she owe it to him to
do service for the gift? And when all that was done, she made Judith
take a little wine-and-water, to strengthen her for the being carried
down-stairs, and then she sent word that Quiney might come up.

He made his appearance forthwith, a little pale, perhaps, and hesitating
and apprehensive as he crossed the threshold. And then he came quickly
forward, and there was a sudden wonder of joy and gladness in his eyes.

"Judith," he exclaimed, quite involuntarily, and forgetting everything,
"why, how well you are looking!--indeed, indeed you are!--sweetheart,
you are not changed at all!"

For this was Judith; not any of the spectral phantoms he had been
conjuring up, but Judith herself, regarding him with friendly (if yet
timid) eyes, and her face, as he looked at her in this glad way, was no
longer pale, but had grown rose-red as the face of a bride. Her anxiety
and nervousness had been far greater than she dared to tell any of them;
but now his surprise and delight were surely real, and then--for she was
very weak, and she had been anxious and full of fear, and this joy of
seeing him--of seeing a strange face, that belonged to the former happy
time--was too much for her. Her lips were tremulous, tears rose to her
eyes, and she would have turned away to hide her crying--but that all at
once he recalled his scattered senses, and inwardly cursed himself for a
fool, and forthwith addressed her in the most cheerful and simple way.

"Why, now, what stories they have been telling me, Judith! I should
scarce know you had been ill. You are thinner--oh, yes, you are a little
thinner; and if you went to the woods to gather nuts I reckon you would
not bring home a heavy bag; but that will all mend in time. In honest
truth, dear Judith, I am glad to see you looking none so ill; now I
marvel not at your father going away to see after his affairs--so sure
he must have been."

"I am glad that he went, I was fretting so," she said (and it was so
strange to hear Judith's voice, that always stirred his heart as if with
the vibration of Susan's singing), and then she added, timidly regarding
him--"and you--I have caused you much trouble also."

He laughed; in truth he was so bewildered with the delight of seeing
this real living Judith before him that he scarce knew what he said.

"Trouble! yes, trouble, indeed, that I could do nothing for you, and all
the others waiting with you and cheering you. But now, dear Judith, I
have something for you--oh, you shall see it presently; and you may
laugh, but I warrant me you will find it easy and comfortable when that
you are allowed to go forth into the garden. 'Tis a kind of couch, as it
were, but on wheels--nay, you may call it your chariot, Judith, if you
would be in state; and if you may not go farther than the garden at
first, why, then you may lie in it, and have some one read to you; and
there is a small curtain if you would shut them all out and go to sleep;
ay, and when the time comes for you to go along the lanes, then you may
sit up somewhat, for there are pillows for your head and for your back.
As for the drawing of it, why, little Willie Hart can pull me when I am
in it, and surely he can do the same for you, that are scarce so heavy
as I, as I take it. Oh, I warrant you, you will soon get used to it; and
'twill be so much pleasanter for you than being always within-doors--and
the fresher air--the fresher air will soon bring back your color,

For now that the first flush of embarrassment was gone he could not but
see (though still he talked in that cheerful strain) how pale and worn
was her face; and her hands, that lay listlessly on the coverlet, with
the pretty lace cuffs going back from the wrists, were spectral hands,
so thin and white were they.

"Master Quiney," said the old dame, coming to the door, "it be all ready
now below, if you can carry the wench down. And take time--take
time--there be no hurry."

"You must come and help me, good grandmother," said he, "to get her well
into my arms."

In truth he was trembling with very nervousness as he set about this
task. Should some mischance occur--some stumble! And then he found
himself all too strong and uncouth and clumsy, with her so frail and
delicate and weak. But her grandmother lifted the girl's hand to his
shoulder, or rather to his neck, and bade her hold on so, as well as she
might; and then he got his arms better round her, and with slow and
careful steps made his way down to the room below. There the bed was
near the window, and when he had gently placed her on it, and propped up
her head and shoulders, so that she was almost sitting, the first thing
that she saw before her was the slung box of flowers and leaves outside
the little casement. She turned to him and smiled, and looked her thanks
with grateful eyes: he sought for no more than that.

Of course they were all greatly pleased at this new state of affairs--it
seemed a step on the forward way, a hopeful thing. Moreover, there was a
brighter animation in the girl's look--whether that was owing to the
excitement of the change or the pleasure at seeing the face of an old

And as the others seemed busy among themselves, suggesting small
arrangements, and the like, Quiney judged it was time for him to go; his
services were no longer needed.

He went forward to her.

"Judith," said he, "I will bid you good-day now. If you but knew how
glad I am to have seen you--ay, and to find you going on so well! I will
take away a lighter heart with me."

She looked up at him hesitating and timid, and then she gathered

"But why must you go?" said she, with some touch of color in the pale

He glanced at the others.

"Perchance they may not wish me to stay; they may fear your being tired
with talking."

"But if I wish you to stay--for a little while?" she said, gently. "If
your business call you not----"

"My business!" he said. "My business must shift for itself on such a day
as this; think you 'tis nothing for me to speak with you again, Judith,
after so long a time?"

"And my chariot," she said, brightly--"may not I see my chariot?"

"Why, truly!" he cried. "Willie Hart is in charge of it without. We will
bring it along the passage, and you will see it at the door; and you
must not laugh, dear Judith--'tis a rude-made thing, I know--but
serviceable--you shall have comfort from it, I warrant you."

They wheeled it along the passage, but could not get it within the
apartment; however, through the open door she could see very easily the
meaning and construction of it. And when she observed with what care and
pretty taste it had been adorned for her, even to the putting ribbons at
the front corners of the little canopy (but this was not the work of
men's fingers; it was Prudence who had contributed these), she was not
in the least inclined to laugh at the efforts of these good friends to
be of use to her and to gratify her. She beckoned him to come to her.

"'Tis but a patchwork thing to look at," said he, rather shamefacedly,
"but I hope you will find it right comfortable when you use it. I hope
soon to hear of you trying it, Judith."

"Give me your hand," said she.

She took his hand and kissed it.

"I cannot speak my thanks to you," she said, in a low voice, "for not
only this but all that you have done for me."

There were tears in her eyes, and he was so bewildered, and his heart so
wildly aflame, that he could only touch her shoulder and say,

"Be still now, Judith. Be still and quiet, and perchance they may let me
remain with you a little space further."

       *       *       *       *       *

Well, it was a long and a weary waiting. She seemed, too, content with
her feeble state; there were so many who were kind to her; and her
father sending her messages from London; and Quiney coming every morning
to put some little things--branches of evergreens, or the like, when
flowers were no longer to be had--in the little basket outside the
window. He could reach to that easily; and when she happened to hear his
footsteps coming near, even when she could not see him, she would tap
with her white fingers on the window-panes--that was her thanks to him,
and morning greeting.

It was a bitter winter, and ever they were looking forward to the milder
weather, to see when they might risk taking her out-of-doors, swathed up
in her chariot, as she called it; but the weeks and weeks went by, hard
and obdurate, and at last they found themselves in the new year. But she
could get about the house a little now, in a quiet way; and so it was
that, one morning, she and Quiney were together standing at the front
window, looking abroad over the wide white landscape. Snow lay
everywhere, thick and silent; the bushes were heavy with it; and far
beyond those ghostly meadows, though they could not see it they knew
that the Avon was fixed and hard in its winter sleep, under the hanging
banks of the Wier Brake.

"'_Western wind, when will you blow?_'" she said, and yet not sadly, for
there was a placid look in her eyes: she was rather complaining, with a
touch of the petulance of the Judith of old.

The arm of her lover was resting lightly on her shoulder--she was strong
enough to bear that now, and she did not resent the burden; and she had
got her soft sunny-brown curls again, though still they were rather
short; and her face had got back something of its beautiful curves; and
her eyes, if they were not so cruelly audacious as of old, were yet
clear-shining and gentle, and with abundance of kind messages for all
the world, but with tenderer looks for only one.

"'_Western wind_,'" she repeated, with that not over-sad complaint of
injury, "'_when will you blow--when will you blow?_'"

"All in good time, sweetheart, all in good time," said he; and his hand
lay kindly on her shoulder, as if she were one to whom some measure of
gentle tending and cheering words were somewhat due. "And guess you now
what they mean to do for you when the milder weather comes? I mean the
lads at the school. Why, then, 'tis a secret league and compact--I doubt
not that your cousin Willie may have been at the suggesting of it--but
'twas some of the bigger lads who came to me. And 'tis all arranged now,
and all for the sake of you, dear heart. For when the milder weather
comes, and the year begins to wake again, why, they are all of them to
keep a sharp and eager eye here and there--in the lanes or in the
woods--for the early peeping up of the primroses; and then 'tis to be a
grand whole holiday that I am to get for them, as it appears; and all
the school is to go forth to search the hedge-rows and the woods and the
banks--all the country-side is to be searched and searched--and for
what, think you? why, to bring you a spacious basketful of the very
first primroses of the spring! See you, now, what it is to be the
general favorite. Nay, I swear to you, dear Judith, you are the
sweetheart of all of them; and what a shame it is that I must take you
away from them all!"


List of Corrections:

  p. 11: "and a semicicle on the crumbling earth" was changed to
         "and a semicircle on the crumbling earth."

  p. 78: "She did not not seem" was changed to
         "She did not seem."

  p. 81: "from you own people" was changed to
         "from your own people."

  p. 123: "chance of the the same" was changed to
          "chance of the same."

  p. 131: "we sat in the litttle bower" was changed to
          "we sat in the little bower."

  p. 166: "she had heard vaguely of from time time" was changed to
          "she had heard vaguely of from time to time."

  p. 169: "this acquaintence the moment she chose." was changed to
          "this acquaintance the moment she chose."

  p. 171: "the deliberare purpose" was changed to
          "the deliberate purpose."

  p. 191: "letters of red and biack;" was changed to
          "letters of red and black;"

  p. 203: "as he slowy sharpened" was changed to
          "as he slowly sharpened."

  p. 233: "For how long?--a fornight!" was changed to
          "For how long?--a fortnight!"

  p. 307: "her contritition" was changed to
          "her contrition."

  p. 322: "lead her delirous wanderings" was changed to
          "lead her delirious wanderings."

  p. 349: "so sure be must have been" was changed to
          "so sure he must have been."


  p. 176: "Nay, but this time you have hit the mark," complacently.
  should be "Nay, but this time you have hit the mark," said Judith,

  p. 185: "'twas a bold demand to made of England!" should be "'twas a
  bold demand to make of England!"

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