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Title: Constance Sherwood - An Autobiography Of The Sixteenth Century
Author: Fullerton, Lady Georgiana
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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[Transcriber's notes]
  This text is derived from THE CATHOLIC WORLD,
  http://www.archive.org/details/catholicworld01pauluoft
  and
  http://www.archive.org/details/catholicworld02pauluoft

  It is the collection of serialized chapters for the convenience
  of the reader who wishes to read the whole work.
[End Transcriber's notes]


From The Month.

CONSTANCE SHERWOOD.

AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF THE SIXTEENTH CENTURY.

BY LADY GEORGIANA FULLERTON.


CHAPTER I.


I had not thought to write the story of my life; but the wishes of
those who have at all times more right to command than occasion to
entreat aught at my hands, have in a manner compelled me thereunto.
The divers trials and the unlooked-for comforts which have come to my
lot during the years that I have been tossed to and fro on this uneasy
sea--the world--have wrought in my soul an exceeding sense of the
goodness of God, and an insight into the meaning of the sentence in
Holy Writ which saith, "His ways are not as our ways, nor his thoughts
like unto our thoughts." And this puts me in mind that there are
sayings which are in every one's mouth, and therefore not to be
lightly gainsayed, which nevertheless do not approve themselves to my
conscience as wholly just and true. Of these is the common adage,
"That misfortunes come not alone." For my own part, I have found that
when a cross has been laid on me, it has mostly been a single one, and
that other sorrows were oftentimes removed, as if to make room for it.
And it has been my wont, when one trial has been passing away, to look
out for the next, even as on a stormy day, when the clouds have rolled
away in one direction and sunshine is breaking overhead, we see others
rising in the distance. There has been no portion of my life free from
some measure of grief or fear sufficient to recall the words that "Man
is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward;" and none so reft of
consolation that, in the midst of suffering, I did not yet cry out,
"The Lord is my shepherd; his rod and his staff comfort me."

I was born in the year 1557, in a very fair part of England, at
Sherwood Hall, in the county of Stafford. For its comely aspect,
commodious chambers, sunny gardens, and the sweet walks in its
vicinity, it was as commendable a residence for persons of moderate
fortune and contented minds as can well be thought of. Within and
without this my paternal home nothing was wanting which might please
the eye, or minister to  tranquillity of mind and healthful
recreation. I reckon it amongst the many favors I have received from a
gracious Providence, that the earlier years of my life were spent
amidst such fair scenes, and in the society of parents who ever took
occasion from earthly things to lead my thoughts to such as are
imperishable, and so to stir up in me a love of the Creator, who has
stamped his image on this visible world in characters of so great
beauty; whilst in the tenderness of those dear parents unto myself I
saw, as it were, a type and representation of his paternal love and
goodness.

My father was of an ancient family, and allied to such as were of
greater note and more wealthy than his own. He had not, as is the
manner with many squires of our days, left off residing on his own
estate in order to seek after the shows and diversions of London; but
had united to a great humility of mind and a singular affection for
learning a contentedness of spirit which inclined him to dwell in the
place assigned to him by Providence. He had married at an early age,
and had ever conformed to the habits of his neighbors in all lawful
and kindly ways, and sought no other labors but such as were
incidental to the care of his estates, and no recreations but those of
study, joined to a moderate pursuit of field-sports and such social
diversions as the neighborhood afforded. His outward appearance was
rather simple than showy, and his manners grave and composed. When I
call to mind the singular modesty of his disposition, and the
retiredness of his manners, I often marvel how the force of
circumstances and the urging of conscience should have forced one so
little by nature inclined to an unsettled mode of life into one which,
albeit peaceful in its aims, proved so full of danger and disquiet.

My mother's love I enjoyed but for a brief season. Not that it waxed
cold toward me, as happens with some parents, who look with fondness
on the child and less tenderly on the maiden; but it pleased Almighty
God to take her unto himself when I was but ten years of age. Her face
is as present to me now as any time of my life. No limner's hand ever
drew a more faithful picture than the one I have of her even now
engraved on the tablet of my heart. She had so fair and delicate a
complexion that I can only liken it to the leaf of a white rose with
the lightest tinge of pink in it. Her hair was streaked with gray too
early for her years; but this matched well with the sweet melancholy
of her eyes, which were of a deep violet color. Her eyelids were a
trifle thick, and so were her lips; but there was a pleasantness in
her smile and the dimples about her mouth such as I have not noticed
in any one else. She had a sweet womanly and loving heart, and the
noblest spirit imaginable; a great zeal in the service of God,
tempered with so much sweetness and cordiality that she gave not
easily offence to any one, of howsoever different a way of thinking
from herself; and either won them over to her faith through the
suavity of her temper and the wisdom of her discourse, or else worked
in them a personal liking which made them patient with her, albeit
fierce with others. When I was about seven years of age I noticed that
she waxed thin and pale, and that we seldom went abroad, and walked
only in our own garden and orchard. She seemed glad to sit on a bench
on the sunny side of the house even in summer, and on days when by
reason of the heat I liked to lie down in the shade. My parents
forbade me from going into the village; and, through the perverseness
common to too many young people, on account of that very prohibition I
longed for liberty to do so, and wearied oftentimes of the solitude we
lived in. At a later period I learnt how kind had been their intent in
keeping me during the early years of childhood from a knowledge of the
woeful divisions which the late changes in religion had wrought in our
country; which I might easily have heard from  young companions,
and maybe in such sort as to awaken angry feelings, and shed a drop of
bitter in the crystal cup of childhood's pure faith. If we did walk
abroad, it was to visit some sick persons, and carry them food or
clothing or medicines, which my mother prepared with her own hands.
But as she grew weaker, we went less often outside the gates, and the
poor came themselves to fetch away what in her bounty she stored up
for them. I did not notice that our neighbors looked unkindly on us
when we were seen in the village. Children would cry out sometimes,
but half in play, "Down with the Papists!" but I witnessed that their
elders checked them, especially those of the poorer sort; and "God
bless you, Mrs. Sherwood!" and "God save you, madam!" was often in
their mouths, as she whom I loved with so great and reverent an
affection passed alongside of them, or stopped to take breath, leaning
against their cottage-palings.

Many childish heartaches I can even now remember when I was not
suffered to join in the merry sports of the 1st of May; for then, as
the poet Chaucer sings, the youths and maidens go

  "To fetch the flowers fresh and branch and bloom,
  And these, rejoicing in their great delight,
  Eke each at other throw the blossoms bright."

I watched the merry wights as they passed our door on their way to the
groves and meadows, singing mirthful carols, and bent on pleasant
pastimes; and tears stood in my eyes as the sound of their voices died
away in the distance. My father found me thus weeping one May-day, and
carried me with him to a sweet spot in a wood, where wild-flowers grew
like living jewels out of the green carpet of moss on which we sat;
and there, as the birds sang from every bough, and the insects hovered
and hummed over every blossom, he entertained me with such quaint and
pleasant tales, and moved me to merry laughter by his witty devices;
so that I set down that day in my book of memory as one of the
joyfullest in all my childhood. At Easter, when the village children
rolled pasch eggs down the smooth sides of the green hills, my mother
would paint me some herself, and adorned them with such bright colors
and rare sentences that I feared to break them with rude handling, and
kept them by me throughout the year, rather as pictures to be gazed on
than toys to be played with in a wanton fashion.

On the morning of the Resurrection, when others went to the top of
Cannock Chase to hail the rising sun, as is the custom of those parts,
she would sing so sweetly the psalm which speaketh of the heavens
rejoicing and of the earth being glad, that it grieved me not to stay
at home; albeit I sometimes marvelled that we saw so little company,
and mixed not more freely with our neighbors.

When I had reached my ninth birthday, whether it was that I took
better heed of words spoken in my hearing, or else that my parents
thought it was time that I should learn somewhat of the conditions of
the times, and so talked more freely in my presence, it so happened
that I heard of the jeopardy in which many who held the Catholic faith
were, and of the laws which were being made to prohibit in our country
the practice of the ancient religion. When Protestants came to our
house--and it was sometimes hard in those days to tell who were such at
heart, or only in outward semblance out of conformity to the queen's
pleasure--I was strictly charged not to speak in their hearing of aught
that had to do with Catholic faith and worship; and I could see at
such times on my mother's face an uneasy expression, as if she was
ever fearing the next words that any one might utter.

In the autumn of that year we had visitors whose company was so great
an honor to my parents, and the occasion of so much delight to myself,
that I can call to mind every little circumstance of their brief
sojourn under our roof, even as if it had taken place but
yesterday. This visit proved the first step toward an intimacy which
greatly affected the tenor of my life, and prepared the way for the
direction it was hereafter to take.

These truly honorable and well-beloved guests were my Lady Mounteagle
and her son Mr. James Labourn, who were journeying at that time from
London, where she had been residing at her son-in-law the Duke of
Norfolk's house, to her seat in the country; whither she was carrying
the three children of her daughter, the Duchess of Norfolk, and of
that lady's first husband, the Lord Dacre of the North. The eldest of
these young ladies was of about my own age, and the others younger.

The day on which her ladyship was expected, I could not sit with
patience at my tambour-frame, or con my lessons, or play on the
virginals; but watched the hours and the minutes in my great desire to
see these noble wenches. I had not hitherto consorted with young
companions, save with Edmund and John Genings, of whom I shall have
occasion to speak hereafter, who were then my playmates, as at a riper
age friends. I thought, in the quaint way in which children couple one
idea with another in their fantastic imaginations, that my Lady
Mounteagle's three daughters would be like the three angels, in my
mother's missal, who visited Abraham in his tent.

I had craved from my mother a holiday, which she granted on the score
that I should help her that forenoon in the making of the pasties and
jellies, which, as far as her strength allowed, she failed not to lend
a hand to; and also she charged me to set the bed-chambers in fair
order, and to gather fresh flowers wherewith to adorn the parlor.
These tasks had in them a pleasantness which whiled away the time, and
I alternated from the parlor to the store-room, and the kitchen to the
orchard, and the poultry-yard to the pleasure-ground, running as
swiftly from one to the other, and as merrily, as if my feet were
keeping time with the glad beatings of my heart. As I passed along the
avenue, which was bordered on each side by tall trees, ever and anon,
as the wind shook their branches, there fell on my head showers of red
and gold-colored leaves, which made me laugh; so easy is it for the
young to find occasion of mirth in the least trifle when their spirits
are lightsome, as mine were that day. I sat down on a stone bench on
which the western sun was shining, to bind together the posies I had
made; the robins twittered around me; and the air felt soft and fresh.
It was the eve of Martinmas-day--Hallowtide Summer, as our country
folk call it. As the sun was sinking behind the hills, the tread of
horses' feet was heard in the distance, and I sprang up on the bench,
shading my eyes with my hand to see the approach of that goodly
travelling-party, which was soon to reach our gates. My parents came
out of the front door, and beckoned me to their side. I held my posies
in my apron, and forgot to set them down; for the first sight of my
Lady Mounteagle, as she rode up the avenue with her son at her side,
and her three grand-daughters with their attendants, and many
richly-attired serving-men beside, filled me with awe. I wondered if
her majesty had looked more grand on the day that she rode into London
to be proclaimed queen. The good lady sat on her palfry in so erect
and stately a manner, as if age had no dominion over her limbs and her
spirits; and there was something so piercing and commanding in her
eye, that it at once compelled reverence and submission. Her son had
somewhat of the same nobility of mien, and was tall and graceful in
his movements; but behind her, on her pillion, sat a small counterpart
of herself, inasmuch as childhood can resemble old age, and youthful
loveliness matronly dignity. This was the eldest of her ladyship's
grand-daughters, my sweet Mistress Ann Dacre. This was my first sight
of her who was hereafter to hold so great a place in my heart and
in my life. As she was lifted from the saddle, and stood in her
riding-habit and plumed hat at our door, making a graceful and modest
obeisance to my parents, one step retired behind her grandam, with a
lovely color tinging her cheeks, and her long lashes veiling her sweet
eyes, I thought I had never seen so fair a creature as this high-born
maiden of my own age; and even now that time, as it has gone by, has
shown me all that a court can display to charm the eyes and enrapture
the fancy, I do not gainsay that same childish thought of mine. Her
sisters, pretty prattlers then, four and six years of age, were led
into the house by their governess. But ere our guests were seated, my
mother bade me kiss my Lady Mounteagle's hand and commend myself to
her goodness, praying her to be a good lady to me, and overlook, out
of her great indulgence, my many defects. At which she patted me on
the cheek, and said, she doubted not but that I was as good a child as
such good parents deserved to have; and indeed, if I was as like my
mother in temper as in face, I must needs be such as her hopes and
wishes would have me. And then she commanded Mistress Ann to salute
me; and I felt my cheeks flush and my heart beat with joy as the sweet
little lady put her arms round my neck, and pressed her lips on my
cheek.

Presently we all withdrew to our chambers until such time as supper
was served, at which meal the young ladies were present; and I
marvelled to see how becomingly even the youngest of them, who was but
a chit, knew how to behave herself, never asking for anything, or
forgetting to give thanks in a pretty manner when she was helped. For
the which my mother greatly commended their good manners; and her
ladyship said, "In truth, good Mistress Sherwood, I carry a strict
hand over them, never suffering their faults to go unchastised, nor
permitting such liberties as many do to the ruin of their children." I
was straightway seized with a great confusion and fear that this was
meant as a rebuke to me, who, not being much used to company, and
something overindulged by my father, by whose side I was seated, had
spoken to him more than once that day at table, and had also left on
my plate some victuals not to my liking; which, as I learnt at another
time from Mistress Ann, was an offence for which her grandmother would
have sharply reprehended her. I ventured not again to speak in her
presence, and scarcely to raise my eyes toward her.

The young ladies withdrew early to bed that night, and I had but
little speech with them. Before they left the parlor, Mistress Ann
took her sisters by the hand, and all of them, kneeling at their
grandmother's feet, craved her blessing. I could see a tear in her eye
as she blessed them; and when she laid her hand on the head of the
eldest of her grand-daughters, it lingered there as if to call down
upon her a special benison. The next day my Lady Mounteagle gave
permission for Mistress Ann to go with me into the garden, where I
showed her my flowers and the young rabbits that Edmund Genings and
his brother, my only two playmates, were so fond of; and she told me
how well pleased she was to remove from London unto her grandmother's
seat, where she would have a garden and such pleasant pastimes as are
enjoyed in the country.

"Prithee, Mistress Ann," I said, with the unmannerly boldness with
which children are wont to question one another, "have you not a
mother, that you live with your grandam?"

"I thank God that I have," she answered; "and a good mother she is to
me; but by reason of her having lately married the Duke of Norfolk, my
grandmother has at the present time the charge of us."

"And do you greatly love my Lady Mounteagle?" I asked, misdoubting in
my folly that a lady of so grave aspect and stately carriage should be
loved by children.

"As greatly as heart can love," was her pretty answer.

"And do you likewise love the Duke of Norfolk, Mistress Ann?" I asked
again.

"He is my very good lord and father," she answered; "but my knowledge
of his grace has been so short, I have scarce had time to love him
yet."

"But I have loved you in no time," I cried, and threw my arms round
her neck. "Directly I saw you, I loved you, Mistress Ann."

"Mayhap, Mistress Constance," she said, "it is easier to love a little
girl than a great duke."

"And who do you affection beside her grace your mother, and my lady
your grandam, Mistress Ann?" I said, again returning to the charge; to
which she quickly replied:

"My brother Francis, my sweet Lord Dacre."

"Is he a child?" I asked.

"In truth, Mistress Constance," she answered, "he would not be well
pleased to be called so; and yet methinks he is but a child, being not
older, but rather one year younger than myself, and my dear playmate
and gossip."

"I wish I had a brother or a sister to play with me," I said; at which
Mistress Ann kissed me and said she was sorry I should lack so great a
comfort, but that I must consider I had a good father of my own,
whereas her own was dead; and that a father was more than a brother.

In this manner we held discourse all the morning, and, like a rude
imp, I questioned the gracious young lady as to her pastimes and her
studies and the tasks she was set to; and from her innocent
conversation I discovered, as children do, without at the time taking
much heed, but yet so as to remember it afterward, what especial care
had been taken by her grandmother--that religious and discreet
lady--to instill into her virtue and piety, and in using her, beside
saying her prayers, to bestow alms with her own hands on prisoners and
poor people; and in particular to apply herself to the cure of
diseases and wounds, wherein she herself had ever excelled. Mistress
Ann, in her childish but withal thoughtful way, chide me that in my
own garden were only seen flowers which pleased the senses by their
bright colors and perfume, and none of the herbs which tend to the
assuagement of pain and healing of wounds; and she made me promise to
grow some against the time of her next visit. As we went through the
kitchen-garden, she plucked some rosemary and lavender and rue, and
many other odoriferous herbs; and sitting down on a bench, she invited
me to her side, and discoursed on their several virtues and properties
with a pretty sort of learning which was marvellous in one of her
years. She showed me which were good for promoting sleep, and which
for cuts and bruises, and of a third she said it eased the heart.

"Nay, Mistress Ann," I cried, "but that must be a heartsease;" at
which she smiled, and answered:

"My grandam says the best medicines for uneasy hearts are the bitter
herb confession and the sweet flower absolution."

"Have you yet made your first communion, Mistress Ann?" I asked in a
low voice, at which question a bright color came into her cheek, and
she replied:

"Not yet; but soon I may. I was confirmed not long ago by the good
Bishop of Durham; and at my grandmother's seat I am to be instructed
by a Catholic priest who lives there."

"Then you do not go to Protestant service?" I said.

"We did," she answered, "for a short time, whilst we stayed at the
Charterhouse; but my grandam has understood that it is not lawful for
Catholics, and she will not be present at it herself, or suffer us any
more to attend it, neither in her own house nor at his grace's."

While we were thus talking, the two little ladies, her sisters, came
from the house, having craved leave from the governess to run out into
the  garden. Mistress Mary was a pale delicate child, with soft
loving blue eyes; and Mistress Bess, the youngest, a merry imp, whose
rosy cheeks and dimpling smiles were full of glee and merriment.

"What ugly sober flowers are these, Nan, that thou art playing with?"
she cried, and snatched at the herbs in her sister's lap. "When I
marry my Lord William Howard, I'll wear a posy of roses and
carnations."

"When I am married," said little Mistress Mary, "I will wear nothing
but lilies."

"And what shall be thy posy, Nan?" said the little saucy one again,
"when thou dost wed my Lord Surrey?"

"Hush, hush, madcaps!" cried Mistress Ann. "If your grandam was to
hear you, I doubt not but the rod would be called for."

Mistress Mary looked round affrighted, but little Mistress Bess said
in a funny manner, "Prithee, Nan, do rods then travel?"

"Ay; by that same token, Bess, that I heard my lady bid thy nurse take
care to carry one with her."

"It was nurse told me I was to marry my Lord William, and Madge my
Lord Thomas, and thee, Nan, my Lord Surrey, and brother pretty Meg
Howard," said the little lady, pouting; "but I won't tell grandam of
it an it would be like to make her angry."

"I would be a nun!" Mistress Mary cried.

"Hush!" her elder sister said; "that is foolish talking, Madge; my
grandmother told me so when I said the same thing to her a year ago.
Children do not know what Almighty God intends them to do. And now
methinks I see Uncle Labourn making as if he would call us to the
house, and there are the horses coming to the door. We must needs obey
the summons. Prithee, Mistress Constance, do not forget me."

Forget her! No. From that day to this years have passed over our heads
and left deep scars on our hearts. Divers periods of our lives have
been signalized by many a strange passage; we have rejoiced, and,
oftener still, wept together; we have met in trembling, and parted in
anguish; but through sorrow and through joy, through evil report and
good report, in riches and in poverty, in youth and in age, I have
blessed the day when first I met thee, sweet Ann Dacre, the fairest,
purest flower which ever grew on a noble stem.

CHAPTER II.

A year elapsed betwixt the period of the so brief, but to me so
memorable, visit of the welcomest guests our house ever received--to
wit, my Lady Mounteagle and her grand-daughters--and that in which I
met with an accident, which compelled my parents to carry me to
Lichfield for chirurgical advice. Four times in the course of that
year I was honored with letters writ by the hand of Mistress Ann
Dacre; partly, as the gracious young lady said, by reason of her
grandmother's desire that the bud acquaintanceship which had sprouted
in the short-lived season of the aforesaid visit should, by such
intercourse as may be carried on by means of letters, blossom into a
flower of true friendship; and also that that worthy lady and my good
mother willed such a correspondence betwixt us as would serve to the
sharpening of our wits, and the using our pens to be good servants to
our thoughts. In the course of this history I will set down at
intervals some of the letters I received at divers times from this
noble lady; so that those who read these innocent pictures of herself,
portrayed by her own hand, may trace the beginnings of those virtuous
inclinations which at an early age were already working in her soul,
and ever after appeared in her.

On the 15th day of January of the next year to that in which my eyes
had feasted on this creature so embellished with rare endowments and
 accomplished gracefulness, the first letter I had from her came
to my hand; the first link of a chain which knit together her heart
and mine through long seasons of absence and sore troubles, to the
great comforting, as she was often pleased to say, of herself, who was
so far above me in rank, whom she chose to call her friend, and of the
poor friend and servant whom she thus honored beyond her deserts. In
as pretty a handwriting as can well be thought of, she thus wrote:

  "MY SWEET MISTRESS CONSTANCE,
  --Though I enjoyed your company but for the too brief time
  during which we rested under your honored parents' roof, I
  retain so great a sense of the contentment I received
  therefrom, and so lively a remembrance of the converse we
  held in the grounds adjacent to Sherwood Hall, that I am
  better pleased than I can well express that my grandmother
  bids me sit down and write to one whom to see and to
  converse with once more would be to me one of the chiefest
  pleasures in life. And the more welcome is this command by
  reason of the hope it raises in me to receive in return a
  letter from my well-beloved Mistress Constance, which will
  do my heart more good than anything else that can happen
  to me. 'Tis said that marriages are made in heaven. When I
  asked my grandam if it were so, she said, 'I am of
  opinion, Nan, they are made in many more places than one;
  and I would to God none were made but such as are agreed
  upon in so good a place.' But methinks some friendships
  are likewise made in heaven; and if it be so, I doubt not
  but that when we met, and out of that brief meeting there
  arose so great and sudden a liking in my heart for you,
  Mistress Constance,--which, I thank God, you were not slow
  to reciprocate,--that our angels had met where we hope one
  day to be, and agreed together touching that matter.

  "It suits ill a bad pen like mine to describe the fair seat we
  reside in at this present time--the house of Mr. James Labourn,
  which he has lent unto my grandmother. 'Tis most commodious and
  pleasant, and after long sojourn in London, even in winter, a
  terrestrial paradise. But, like the garden of Eden, not without
  dangers; for the too much delight I took in out-of-doors pastimes--
  and most of all on the lake when it was frozen, and we had merry
  sports upon it, to the neglect of my lessons, not heeding the lapse
  of time in the pursuit of pleasure--brought me into trouble and sore
  disgrace. My grandmother ordered me into confinement for three days
  in my own chamber, and I saw her not nor received her blessing all
  that time; at the end of which she sharply reproved me for my fault,
  and bade me hold in mind that 'twas when loitering in a garden Eve
  met the tempter, and threatened further and severe punishment if I
  applied not diligently to my studies. When I had knelt down and
  begged pardon, promising amendment, she drew me to her and kissed
  me, which it was not her wont often to do. 'Nan,' she said, 'I would
  have thee use thy natural parts, and improve thyself in virtue and
  learning; for such is the extremity of the times, that ere long it
  may be that many first shall be last and many last shall be first in
  this realm of England. But virtue and learning are properties which
  no man can steal from another; and I would fain see thee endowed
  with a goodly store of both. That great man and true confessor, Sir
  Thomas More, had nothing so much at heart as his daughter's
  instruction; and Mistress Margaret Roper, once my sweet friend,
  though some years older than my poor self, who still laments her
  loss, had such fine things said of her by the greatest men of this
  age, as would astonish thee to hear; but they were what she had a
  right to and very well deserved. And the strengthening of her mind
  through study and religious discipline served  her well at the
  time of her great trouble; for where other women would have lacked
  sense and courage how to act, she kept her wits about her, and
  ministered such comfort to her father, remaining near him at the
  last, and taking note of his wishes, and finding means to bury him
  in a Christian manner, which none other durst attempt, that she had
  occasion to thank God who gave her a head as well as a heart. And
  who knows, Nan, what may befal thee, and what need thou mayst have
  of the like advantages?'

  "My grandmother looked so kindly on me then, that, albeit abashed at
  the remembrance of my fault, I sought to move her to further
  discourse; and knowing what great pleasure she had in speaking of
  Sir Thomas More, at whose house in Chelsea she had oftentimes been a
  visitor in her youth, I enticed her to it by cunning questions
  touching the customs he observed in his family.

  "'Ah, Nan!' she said, that house was a school and exercise
  of the Christian religion. There was neither man nor woman
  in it who was not employed in liberal discipline and
  fruitful reading, although the principal study was
  religion. There was no quarrelling, not so much as a
  peevish word to be heard; nor was any one seen idle; all
  were in their several employs: nor was there wanting sober
  mirth. And so well-managed a government Sir Thomas did not
  maintain by severity and chiding, but by gentleness and
  kindness.'

  "Methought as she said this, that my dear grandam in that matter of
  chiding had not taken a leaf out of Sir Thomas's book; and there was
  no doubt a transparency in my face which revealed to her this
  thought of mine; for she straightly looked at me and said, 'Nan, a
  penny for thy thoughts!' at the which I felt myself blushing, but
  knew nothing would serve her but the truth; so I said, in as humble
  a manner as I could think of, 'An if you will excuse me, grandam, I
  thought if Sir Thomas managed so well without chiding, that you
  manage well with it.' At the which she gave me a light nip on the
  forehead, and said, 'Go to, child; dost think that any but saints
  can rule a household without chiding, or train children without
  whipping? Go thy ways, and mend them too, if thou wouldst escape
  chastisement; and take with thee, Nan, the words of one whom we
  shall never again see the like of in this poor country, which he
  used to his wife or any of his children if they were diseased or
  troubled, "We must not look at our pleasures to go to heaven in
  feather-beds, or to be carried up thither even by the chins."' And
  so she dismissed me; and I have here set down my fault, and the
  singular goodness showed me by my grandmother when it was pardoned,
  not thinking I can write anything better worth notice than the
  virtuous talk with which she then favored me.

  "There is in this house a chapel very neat and rich, and an ancient
  Catholic priest is here, who says mass most days; at the which we,
  with my grandmother, assist, and such of her servants as have not
  conformed to the times; and this good father instructs us in the
  principles of Catholic religion. On the eve of the feast of the
  Nativity of Christ, my lady stayed in the chapel from eight at night
  till two in the morning; but sent us to bed at nine, after the
  litanies were said, until eleven, when there was a sermon, and at
  twelve o'clock three masses said, which being ended we broke our
  fast with a mince-pie, and went again to bed. And all the
  Christmas-time we were allowed two hours after each meal for
  recreation, instead of one. At other times, we play not at any game
  for money; but then we had a shilling a-piece to make us merry;
  which my grandmother says is fitting in this time of mirth and joy
  for his birth who is the sole origin and spring of true comfort. And
  now, sweet Mistress Constance, I must bid you farewell; for the
  greatest of  joys has befallen me, and a whole holiday to enjoy
  it. My sweet Lord Dacre is come to pay his duty to my lady and tarry
  some days here, on his way to Thetford, the Duke of Norfolk's seat,
  where his grace and the duchess my good mother have removed. He is a
  beauty, Mistress Constance; and nature has so profusely conferred on
  him privileges, that when her majesty the queen saw him a short time
  back on horseback, in the park at Richmond, she called him to her
  carriage-door and honored him with a kiss, and the motto of the
  finest boy she ever beheld. But I may not run on in this fashion,
  letting my pen outstrip modesty, like a foolish creature, making my
  brother a looking-glass and continual object for my eyes; but learn
  to love him, as my grandam says, in God, of whom he is only
  borrowed, and not so as to set my heart wholly on him. So beseeching
  God bless you and yours, good Mistress Constance, I ever remain,
  your loving friend and humble servant,

  "ANN DACRE."

Oh, how soon were my Lady Mounteagle's words exalted in the event! and
what a sad brief note was penned by that affectionate sister not one
month after she writ those lines, so full of hope and pleasure in the
prospect of her brother's sweet company! For the fair boy that was the
continual object of her eyes and the dear comfort of her heart was
accidentally slain by the fall of a vaulting horse upon him at the
duke's house at Thetford.

  "MY GOOD MISTRESS CONSTANCE"
  (she wrote, a few days after his lamentable death),--"The lovingest
  brother a sister ever had, and the most gracious creature ever born,
  is dead; and if it pleased God I wish I were dead too, for my heart
  is well-nigh broken. But I hope in God his soul is now in heaven,
  for that he was so young and innocent; and when here, a short time
  ago, my grandmother procured that he should for the first, and as it
  has pleased God also for the only and the last, time, confess and be
  absolved by a Catholic priest, in the which the hand of Providence
  is visible to our great comfort, and reasonable hope of his
  salvation. Commending him and your poor friend, who has great need
  of them, to your good prayers, I remain your affectionate and humble
  servant,

  "ANN DACRE."

In that year died also, in childbirth, her grace the Duchess of
Norfolk, Mistress Ann's mother; and she then wrote in a less
passionate, but withal less comfortable, grief than at her brother's
loss, and, as I have heard since, my Lady Mounteagle had her
death-blow at that time, and never lifted up her head again as
heretofore. It was noticed that ever after she spent more time in
prayer and gave greater alms. Her daughter, the duchess, who at the
instance of her husband had conformed to the times, desired to have
been reconciled on her deathbed by a priest, who for that end was
conducted into the garden, yet could not have access unto her by
reason of the duke's vigilance to hinder it, or at least of his
continual presence in her chamber at the time. And soon after, his
grace, whose wards they were, sent for his three step-daughters to the
Charterhouse; the parting with which, and the fears she entertained
that he would have them carried to services and sermons in the public
churches, and hinder them in the exercise of Catholic faith and
worship, drove the sword yet deeper through my Lady Mounteagle's
heart, and brought down her gray hairs with sorrow to the grave,
notwithstanding that the duke greatly esteemed and respected her, and
was a very moral nobleman, of exceeding good temper and moderate
disposition. But of this more anon, as 'tis my own history I am
writing, and it is meet I should relate in the order of time what
events came under my notice whilst in  Lichfield, whither my
mother carried me, as has been aforesaid, to be treated by a famous
physician for a severe hurt I had received. It was deemed convenient
that I should tarry some time under his care; and Mr. Genings, a
kinsman of her own, who with his wife and children resided in that
town, one of the chiefest in the county, offered to keep me in their
house as long as was convenient thereunto a kindness which my parents
the more readily accepted at his hands from their having often shown
the like unto his children when the air of the country was desired for
them.

Mr. and Mrs. Genings were of the religion by law established. He was
thought to be Catholic at heart; albeit he was often heard to speak
very bitterly against all who obeyed not the queen in conforming to
the new mode of worship, with the exception, indeed, of my mother, for
whom he had always a truly great affection. This gentleman's house was
in the close of the cathedral, and had a garden to it well stored with
fair shrubs and flowers of various sorts. As I lay on a low settle
near the window, being forbid to walk for the space of three weeks, my
eyes were ever straying from my sampler to the shade and sunshine out
of doors. Instead of plying at my needle, I watched the bees at their
sweet labor midst the honeysuckles of the porch, or the swallows
darting in and out of the eaves of the cathedral, or the butterflies
at their idle sports over the beds of mignonette and heliotrope under
the low wall, covered with ivy, betwixt the garden and the close. Mr.
Genings had two sons, the eldest of which was some years older and the
other younger than myself. The first, whose name was Edmund, had been
weakly when a child, and by reason of this a frequent sojourner at
Sherwood Hall, where he was carried for change of air after the many
illnesses incident to early age. My mother, who was some years married
before she had a child of her own, conceived a truly maternal
affection for this young kinsman, and took much pains with him both as
to the care of his body and the training of his mind. He was an apt
pupil, and she had so happy a manner of imparting knowledge, that he
learnt more, as he has since said, in those brief sojourns in her
house than at school from more austere masters. After I came into the
world, he took delight to rock me in my cradle, or play with me as I
sat on my mother's knee; and when I first began to walk, he would lead
me by the hand into the garden, and laugh to see me clutch marigolds
or cry for a sunflower.

"I warrant thou hast an eye to gold, Con," he would say; "for 'tis the
yellow flowers that please thee best."

There is an old hollow tree on the lawn at Sherwood Hall where I often
hid from him in sport, and he would make pretence to seek me
elsewhere, till a laugh revealed me to him, and a chase ensued down
the approach or round the maze. He never tired of my petulance, or
spoke rude words, as boys are wont to do; and had a more serious and
contemplative spirit than is often seen in young people, and likewise
a singular fancy for gazing at the sky when glowing with sunset hues
or darkened by storms, and most of all when studded at night with
stars. On a calm clear night I have noticed him for a length of time,
forgetting all things else, fix his eyes on the heavens, as if reading
the glory of the Lord therein revealed.

My parents did not speak to him of Catholic faith and worship, because
Mr. Genings, before he suffered his sons to stay in their house, had
made them promise that no talk of religion should be ministered to
them in their childhood. It was a sore trial to my mother to refrain,
as the Psalmist saith, from good words, which were ever rising from
her heart to her lips, as pure water from a deep spring. But she
instructed him in many things which belong to gentle learning, and in
French, which she knew well; and  taught him music, in which he
made great progress. And this wrought with his father to the
furtherance of these his visits to us. I doubt not but that, when she
told him the names of the heavenly luminaries, she inwardly prayed he
might one day shine as a star in the kingdom of God; or when she
discoursed of flowers and their properties, that he should blossom as
a rose in the wilderness of this faithless world; or whilst guiding
his hands to play on the clavichord, that he might one day join in the
glorious harmony of the celestial choirs. Her face itself was a
preachment, and the tones of her voice, and the tremulous sighs she
breathed when she kissed him or gave him her blessing, had, I ween, a
privilege to reach his heart, the goodness of which was readable in
his countenance. Dear Edmund Genings, thou wert indeed a brother to me
in kind care and companionship whilst I stayed in Lichfield that
never-to-be-forgotten year! How gently didst thou minister to the sick
child, for the first time tasting the cup of suffering; now easing her
head with a soft pillow, now strewing her couch with fresh-gathered
flowers, or feeding her with fruit which had the bloom on it, or
taking her hand and holding it in thine own to cheer her to endurance!
Thou wert so patient and so loving, both with her who was a great
trouble to thee and oftentimes fretful with pain, and likewise with
thine own little brother, an angel in beauty and wit, but withal of so
petulant and froward a disposition that none in the house durst
contradict him, child as he was; for his parents were indeed weak in
their fondness for him. In no place and at no time have I seen a boy
so indulged and so caressed as this John Genings. He had a pretty
wilfulness and such playful ways that his very faults found favor with
those who should have corrected them, and he got praise where others
would have met with chastisement. Edmund's love for this fair urchin
was such as is seldom seen in any save in a parent for a child. It was
laughable to see the lovely imp governing one who should have been his
master, but through much love was his slave, and in a thousand cunning
ways, and by fanciful tricks, constraining him to do his bidding.
Never was a more wayward spirit enclosed in a more winsome form than
in John Genings. Never did childish gracefulness rule more absolutely
over superior age, or love reverse the conditions of ordinary
supremacy, than in the persons of these two brothers.

A strange thing occurred at that time, which I witnessed not myself,
and on which I can give no opinion, but as a fact will here set it
down, and let such as read this story deem of it as they please. One
night that, by reason of the unwonted chilliness of the evening, such
as sometimes occurs in our climate even in summer, a fire had been lit
in the parlor, and the family were gathered round it, Edmund came of a
sudden into the room, and every one took notice that his face was very
pale. He seemed in a great fear, and whispered to his mother, who said
aloud--"Thou must have been asleep, and art still dreaming, child."
Upon which he was very urgent for her to go into the garden, and used
many entreaties thereunto. Upon which, at last, she rose and followed
him. In another moment she called for her husband, who went out, and
with him three or four other persons that were in the room, and I
remained alone for the space of ten or fifteen minutes. When they
returned, I heard them speaking with great fear and amazement of what
they had seen; and Edmund Genings has often since described to me what
he first, and afterward all the others, had beheld in the sky. He was
gazing at the heavens, as was his wont, when a strange spectacle
appeared to him in the air. As it were, a number of armed men with
weapons, killing and murdering others that were disarmed, and great
store of blood running everywhere about them. His parents and those
with them witnessed the same thing, and a great  fear fell upon
them all. I noticed that all that evening they seemed scared, and
could not speak of this appearance in the sky without shuddering. But
one that was more bold than the rest took heart, and cried, "God send
it does not forbode that the Papists will murder us all in our beds!"
And Mistress Genings, whose mother was a French Huguenot, said,
"Amen!" I marked that her husband and one or two more of the company
groaned, and one made, as if unwittingly, the sign of the cross. There
were some I know in that town, nay and in that house, that were at
heart of the old religion, albeit, by reason of the times, they did
not give over attending Protestants' worship.

A few days later I was sitting alone, and had a long fit of musing
over the many new thoughts that were crowding into my mind, as yet too
childish to master them, when Edmund came in, and I saw he had been
weeping. He said nothing at first, and made believe he was reading;
but I could see tears trickling down through his fingers as he covered
his face with his hands. Presently he looked up and cried out,

"Cousin Constance, Jack is going away from us."

"And if it please God, not for a long time," I answered; for it
grieved me to see him sad.

"Nay, but he is going for many years, I fear," Edmund said. "My uncle,
Jean de Luc, has asked for him to be brought up in his house at La
Rochelle. He is his godfather, and has a great store of money, which
he says he will leave to Jack. Alack! cousin Constance, I would that
there was no such thing in the world as money, and no such country as
France. I wish we were all dead." And then he fell to weeping again
very bitterly.

I told him in a childish manner what my mother was wont to say to me
when any little trouble fell to my lot--that we should be patient, and
offer up our sufferings to God.

"But I can do nothing now for Jack," he cried. "It was my first
thought at waking and my last at night, how to please the dear urchin;
but now 'tis all over."

"Oh, but Edmund," I cried, "an if you were to be as good as the
blessed saints in heaven, you could do a great deal for Jack."

"How so, cousin Constance?" he asked, not comprehending my meaning;
and thereupon I answered:

"When once I said to my sweet mother, 'It grieves me, dear heart, that
I can give thee nothing, who gives me so much,' she bade me take heed
that every prayer we say, every good work we do, howsoever imperfect,
and every pain we suffer, may be offered up for those we love; and so
out of poverty, and weakness, and sorrow, we have wherewith to make
precious and costly and cheerful gifts."

I spoke as a child, repeating what I had heard; but he listened not as
a child. A sudden light came into his eyes, and methinks his good
angel showed him in that hour more than my poor lips could utter.

"If it be as your sweet mother says," he joyfully cried, "we are rich
indeed; and, even though we be sinners and not saints, we have
somewhat to give, I ween, if it be only our heartaches, cousin
Constance, so they be seasoned with prayers."

The thought which in my simplicity I had set before him took root, as
it were, in his mind. His love for a little child had prepared the way
for it; and the great brotherly affection which had so long dwelt in
his heart proved a harbinger of the more perfect gift of charity; so
that a heavenly message was perchance conveyed to him that day by one
who likewise was a child, even as the word of the Lord came to the
prophet through the lips of the infant Samuel. From that time forward
he bore up bravely against his grief; which was the sharper inasmuch
that he who was the cause of it showed none in return, but rather joy
in the expectancy of the change which was to part them. He  would
still be a-prattling on it, and telling all who came in his way that
he was going to France to a good uncle; nor ever intended to return,
for his mother was to carry him to La Rochelle, and she should stay
there with him, he said, and not come back to ugly Lichfield.

"And art thou not sorry, Jack," I asked him one day, "to leave poor
Edmund, who loves thee so well?"

The little madcap was coursing round the room, and cried, as he ran
past me, for he had more wit and spirit than sense or manners:

"Edmund must seek after me, and take pains to find me, if so be he
would have me."

These words, which the boy said in his play, have often come back to
my mind since the two brothers have attained unto a happy though
dissimilar end.

When the time had arrived for Mistress Genings and her youngest son to
go beyond seas, as I was now improved in health and able to walk, my
father fetched me home, and prevailed on Mr. Genings to let Edmund go
back with us, with the intent to divert his mind from his grief at his
brother's departure.

I found my parents greatly disturbed at the news they had had touching
the imprisonment of thirteen priests on account of religion, and of
Mr. Orton being likewise arrested, who was a gentleman very dear to
them for his great virtues and the steadfast friendship he had ever
shown to them.

My mother questioned Edmund as to the sign he had seen in the heavens
a short time back, of which the report had reached them; and he
confirming the truth thereof, she clasped her hands and cried:

"Then I fear me much this forebodes the death of these blessed
confessors, Father Weston and the rest."

Upon which Edmund said, in a humble manner:

"Good Mistress Sherwood, my dear mother thought it signified that
those of your religion would murder in their beds such as are of the
queen's religion; so maybe in both cases there is naught to
apprehend."

"My good child," my mother answered, "in regard of those now in
durance for their faith, the danger is so manifest, that if it please
not the Almighty to work a miracle for their deliverance, I see not
how they may escape."

After that we sat awhile in silence; my father reading, my mother and
I working, and Edmund at the window intent as usual upon the stars,
which were shining one by one in the deep azure of the darkening sky.
As one of greater brightness than the rest shone through the branches
of the old tree, where I used to hide some years before, he pointed to
it, and said to me, who was sitting nearest to him at the window:

"Cousin Constance, think you the Star of Bethlehem showed fairer in
the skies than yon bright star that has just risen behind your
favorite oak? What and if that star had a message for us!"

My father heard him, and smiled. "I was even then," he said, "reading
the words of one who was led to the true religion by the contemplation
of the starry skies. In a Southern clime, where those fair luminaries
shine with more splendor than in our Northern heavens, St. Augustine
wrote thus;" and then he read a few sentences in Latin from the book
in his hand,--"Raising ourselves up, we passed by degrees through all
things bodily, even the very heavens, whence sun and moon and stars
shine upon the earth. Yea, we soared yet higher by inward musing and
discourse and admiring of God's works, and we came to our own minds
and went beyond them, so as to arrive at that region of never-failing
plenty where thou feedest Israel for ever with the food of truth."
These words had a sweet and solemn force in them which struck on the
ear like a strain of unearthly music, such as the wind-harp wakes in
the silence of the  night. In a low voice, so low that it was like
the breathing of a sigh, I heard Edmund say, "What is truth?" But when
he had uttered those words, straightway turning toward me as if to
divert his thoughts from that too pithy question, he cried: "Prithee,
cousin Constance, hast thou ended reading, I warrant for the hundredth
time, that letter in thine hand? and hast thou not a mind to impart to
thy poor kinsman the sweet conceits I doubt not are therein
contained?" I could not choose but smile at his speech; for I had
indeed feasted my eyes on the handwriting of my dear friend, now no
longer Mistress Dacre, and learnt off, as it were by heart, its
contents. And albeit I refused at first to comply with his request,
which I had secretly a mind to; no sooner did he give over the urging
of it than I stole to his side, and, though I would by no means let it
out of my hand, and folded down one side of the sheet to hide what was
private in it, I offered to read such parts aloud as treated of
matters which might be spoken of without hindrance.

With a smiling countenance, then, he set himself to listen, and I to
be the mouthpiece of the dear writer, whose wit was so far in advance
of her years, as I have since had reason to observe, never having met
at any time with one in whom wisdom put forth such early shoots.

  "DEAR MISTRESS CONSTANCE"
  (thus the sweet lady wrote),--"Wherefore this long silence and
  neglect of your poor friend? An if it be true, which pains me much
  to hear, that the good limb which, together with its fellow, like
  two trusty footmen, carried you so well and nimbly along the alleys
  of your garden this time last year, has, like an arrant knave,
  played fast and loose, and failed in its good service,--wherein, I am
  told, you have suffered much inconvenience,--is it just that that
  other servant, your hand, should prove rebellious too, refuse to
  perform its office, and write no more letters at your bidding? For
  I'll warrant 'tis the hand is the culprit, not the will; which
  nevertheless should be master, and compel it to obedience. So, an
  you love me, chide roundly that contumacious hand, which fails in
  its duty, which should not be troublesome, if you but had for me
  one-half of the affection I have for you. And indeed, Mistress
  Constance, a letter from you would be to me, at this time, the
  welcomest thing I can think of; for since we left my grandmother's
  seat, and came to the Charterhouse, I have new friends, and many
  more and greater than I deserve or ever thought to have; but, by
  reason of difference of age or of religion, they are not such as I
  can well open my mind to, as I might to you, if it pleased God we
  should meet again. The Duke of Norfolk is a very good lord and
  father to me; but when there are more ways of thinking than one in a
  house, 'tis no easy matter to please all which have a right to be
  considered; and, in the matter of religion, 'tis very hard to avoid
  giving offence. But no more of this at present; only I would to God
  Mr. Fox were beyond seas, and my lady of Westmoreland at her home in
  the North; and that we had no worse company in this house than Mr.
  Martin, my Lord Surrey's tutor, who is a gentleman of great learning
  and knowledge, as every one says, and of extraordinary modesty in
  his behavior. My Lord Surrey has a truly great regard for him, and
  profits much in his learning by his means. I notice he is Catholic
  in his judgment and affections; and my lord says he will not stay
  with him, if his grace his father procures ministers to preach to
  his household and family, and obliges all therein to frequent
  Protestant service. I wish my grandmother was in London; for I am
  sometimes sore troubled in my mind touching Catholic religion and
  conforming to the times, of which an abundance of talk is ministered
  unto us, to my exceeding great discomfort, by my Lady Westmoreland,
  his grace's  sister, and others also. An if I say aught thereon
  to Mistress Fawcett (a grave and ancient gentlewoman, who had the
  care of my Lord Surrey during his infancy, and is now set over us
  his grace's wards), and of misliking the duke's ministers and that
  pestilent Mr. Fox--(I fear me, Mistress Constance, I should not have
  writ that unbeseeming word, and I will e'en draw a line across it,
  but still as you may read it for indeed 'tis what he is; but 'tis
  from himself I learnt it, who in his sermons calls Catholic religion
  a pestilent idolatry, and Catholic priests pestilent teachers and
  servants of Antichrist, and the holy Pope at Rome the man of sin)
  she grows uneasy, and bids me be a good child to her, and not to
  bring her into trouble with his grace, who is indeed a very good
  lord to us in all matters but that one of compelling us to hear
  sermons and the like. My Lord Surrey mislikes all kinds of sermons,
  and loves Mr. Martin so well, that he stops his ears when Mr. Fox
  preaches on the dark midnight of papacy and the dawn of the gospel's
  restored light. And it angers him, as well it should, to hear him
  call his majesty King Philip of Spain, who is his own godfather,
  from whom he received his name, a wicked popish tyrant and a son of
  Antichrist. My Lady Margaret, his sister, who is a year younger than
  himself, and has a most admirable beauty and excellent good nature,
  is vastly taken with what she hears from me of Catholic religion;
  but methinks this is partly by reason of her misliking Mr. Fulk and
  Mr. Clarke's long preachments, which we are compelled to hearken to;
  and their fashion of spending Sunday, which they do call the
  Sabbath-day, wherein we must needs keep silence, and when not in
  church sit still at home, which to one of her lively disposition is
  heavy penance. Methinks when Sunday comes we be all in disgrace;
  'tis so like a day of correction. My Lord Surrey has more liberty;
  for Mr. Martin carries him and his brothers after service into the
  pleasant fields about Westminster Abbey and the village of Charing
  Cross, and suffers them to play at ball under the trees, so they do
  not quarrel amongst themselves. My Lord Henry Howard, his grace's
  brother, always maintains and defends the Catholic religion against
  his sister of Westmoreland; and he spoke to my uncles Leonard,
  Edward, and Francis, and likewise to my aunt Lady Montague, that
  they should write unto my grandmother touching his grace bringing us
  up as Protestants. But the Duke of Norfolk, Mrs. Fawcett says, is
  our guardian, and she apprehends he is resolved that we shall
  conform to the times, and that no liberty be allowed us for the
  exercise of Catholic religion."

At this part of the letter I stopped reading; and Edmund, turning to
my father, who, though he before had perused it, was also listening,
said: "And if this be liberty of conscience, which Protestants speak
of, I see no great liberty and no great conscience in the matter."

His cheek flushed as he spoke, and there was a hoarseness in his voice
which betokened the working of strong feelings within him. My father
smiled with a sort of pitiful sadness, and answered:

"My good boy, when thou art somewhat further advanced in years, thou
wilt learn that the two words thou art speaking of are such as men
have abused the meaning of more than any others that can be thought
of; and I pray to God they do not continue to do so as long as the
world lasts. It seems to me that they mostly mean by 'liberty' a
freedom to compel others to think and to act as they have themselves a
mind to; and by 'conscience' the promptings of their own judgments
moved by their own passions."

"But 'tis hard," Edmund said, "'tis at times very hard, Mr. Sherwood,
to know whereunto conscience points, in the midst of so many inward
clamors as are raised in the soul by conflicting passions of dutiful
affection  and filial reverence struggling for the mastery. Ay,
and no visible token of God's will to make that darkness light. Tis
that," he cried, more moved as he went on, "that makes me so often
gaze upward. Would to God I might see a sign in the skies! for there
are no sign-posts on life's path to guide us on our way to the
heavenly Jerusalem, which our ministers speak of."

"If thou diligently seekest for sign-posts, my good boy," my father
answered, "fear not but that he who said, 'Seek, and you shall find,'
will furnish thee with them. He has not left himself without
witnesses, or his religion to be groped after in hopeless darkness, so
that men may not discern, even in these troublous times, where the
truth lies, so they be in earnest in their search after it. But I will
not urge thee by the cogency of arguments, or be drawn out of the
reserve I have hitherto observed in these matters, which be
nevertheless the mightiest that can be thought of as regards the
soul's health."

And so, breaking off this discourse, he walked out upon the terrace;
and I withdrew to the table, where my mother was sitting, and once
more conned over the last pages of _my lady's_ letter, which, when the
reader hath read, he will perceive the writer's rank and her right to
be thus titled.

  "And now, Mistress Constance, I must needs inform you of a
  matter I would not leave you ignorant of, so that you
  should learn from strangers what so nearly concerns one
  whom you have a friendship to--and that is my betrothal
  with my Lord Surrey. The ceremony was public, inasmuch as
  was needful for the solemnising of a contract which is
  binding for life--'until death us do part,' as the
  marriage service hath it. How great a change this has
  wrought in my thoughts, none knows but myself; for though
  I be but twelve years of age (for his grace would have the
  ceremony to take place on my birthday), one year older
  than yourself, and so lately a child that not a very long
  time ago my grandmother would chastise me with her own
  hands for my faults, I now am wedded to my young lord, and
  by his grace and all the household titled Countess of
  Surrey! And I thank God to be no worse mated; for my lord,
  who is a few months younger than me, and a very child for
  frolicksome spirits and wild mirth, has, notwithstanding,
  so great a pleasantness of manners and so forward a wit,
  that one must needs have pleasure in his company; and I
  only wish I had more of it. Whilst we were only friends
  and playmates, I used to chide and withstand him, as one
  older and one more staid and discreet than himself; but,
  ah me! since we have been wedded, 'tis grand to hear him
  discourse on the duty of wives, and quote the Bible to
  show they must obey their husbands. He carries it in a
  very lordly fashion; and if I comply not at once with his
  commands, he cries out what he has heard at the
  play-house:

  'Such duty as the subject owes the prince
  Even such a woman oweth to her husband;
  And when she's froward, peevish sullen, sour,
  And not obedient to his honest will,
  What is she but a foul contending rebel
  And graceless traitor to her loving lord?
  I am ashamed that women are so simple
  To offer war where they should kneel for peace;
  Or seek for rule, supremacy, or sway,
  Where they are bound to serve, love, and obey.'

  He has a most excellent memory. If he has but once heard out of any
  English or Latin book so much read as is contained in a leaf, he
  will forthwith perfectly repeat it. My Lord Henry, his uncle, for a
  trial, invented twenty long and difficult words a few days back,
  which he had never seen or heard before; yet did he recite them
  readily, every one in the same order as they were written, having
  only once read them over. But, touching that matter of obedience,
  which I care not to gainsay, 'tis not easy at present to obey my
  lord my husband, and his grace his father, and Mistress Fawcett,
  too, who holds as strict a hand over the Countess of Surrey as over
  Mistress Ann Dacre; for the commands of these my rulers do not at
  all times accord: but I pray to God I may do my duty, and be a good
  wife to my lord; and I  wish, as I said before, my grandmother
  had been here, and that I had been favored with her good counsel,
  and had had the benefit of shrift and spiritual advice ere I entered
  on this stage of my life, which is so new to me, who was but a child
  a few weeks ago, and am yet treated as such in more respects than
  one.

  "My lord has told me a secret which Higford, his father's servant,
  let out to him; and 'tis something so weighty and of so great
  import, that since he left me my thoughts have been truants from my
  books, and Monsieur Sebastian, who comes to practice us on the lute,
  stopped his ears, and cried out that the Signora Contessa had no
  mercy on him, so to murther his compositions. Tis not the part of a
  true wife to reveal her husband's secrets, or else I would tell you,
  Mistress Constance, this great news, which I can with trouble keep
  to myself; and I shall not be easy till I have seen my lord again,
  which should be when we walk in the garden this evening; but I pray
  to God he may not be off instead to the Mall, to play at kittlepins;
  for then I have small chance to get speech with him to-day. Mr.
  Martin is my very good friend, and reminds the earl of his duty to
  his lady; but if my lord comes at his bidding, when he would be
  elsewhere than in my company, 'tis little contentment I have in his
  visits.

  "'Tis yesterday I writ thus much, and now 'tis the day to send this
  letter; and I saw not my lord last night by reason of his
  grandfather my Lord Arundel sending to fetch me unto his house in
  the Strand. His goodness to me is so great, that nothing more can be
  desired; and his daughter my Lady Lumley is the greatest comfort I
  have in the world. She showed me a fair picture of my lord's mother,
  who died the day he was born, not then full seventeen years of age.
  She was of so amiable a disposition, so prudent, virtuous, and
  religious, that all who knew her could not but love and esteem her.
  And I read a letter which this sweet lady had written in Latin to
  her father on his birthday, to his great contentment, who had
  procured her to be well instructed in that language, as well as in
  her own and in all commendable learning. Then I played at primero
  with my Lord Arundel and my Lady Lumley and my uncle Francis. The
  knave of hearts was fixed upon for the quinola, and I won the flush.
  My uncle Francis cried the winning card should be titled Dudley.
  'Not so,' quoth the earl; 'the knave that would match with the queen
  in the suit of hearts should never win the game.' And further talk
  ensued; from which I learnt that my Lord Arundel and the Duke of
  Norfolk mislike my Lord Leicester, and would not he should marry the
  queen; and my uncle laughed, and said, 'My lord, no good Englishman
  is there but must be of your lordship's mind, though none have so
  good reason as yourself to hinder so base a contract; for if my Lord
  of Leicester should climb unto her majesty's throne, beshrew me if
  he will not remember the box on the ear your lordship ministered to
  him some time since;' at which the earl laughed, too; but my Lady
  Lumley cried, 'I would to God my brother of Norfolk were rid of my
  Lord Leicester's friendship, which has, I much fear me, more danger
  in it than his enmity. God send he does not lead his grace into
  troubles greater than can well be thought of!' Alack, Mistress
  Constance, what uneasy times are these which we have fallen on! for
  methinks 'troubles' is the word in every one's mouth. As I was about
  to step into the chair at the hall-door at Arundel House, I heard
  one of my lord's guard say to another, 'I trust the white horse will
  be in quiet, and so we shall be out of trouble.' I have asked Mr.
  Martin what these words should mean; whereupon he told me the white
  horse, which indeed I might have known, was the Earl of Arundel's
  cognisance; and that the times were very troublesome, and plots were
  spoken of in the North anent the Queen of Scots, her majesty the
   queen's cousin, who is at Chatesworth; and when he said that,
  all of a sudden I grew red, and my cheeks burned like two hot coals;
  but he took no heed, and said, 'A true servant might well wish his
  master out of trouble, when troubles were so rife.' And now shame
  take me for taking up so much of your time, which should be spent in
  more profitable ways than the reading of my poor letters; and I must
  needs beg you to write soon, and hold me as long as I have held you,
  and love me, sweet one, as I love you. My Lady Margaret, who is in a
  sense twice my sister, says she is jealous of Mistress Constance
  Sherwood, and would steal away my heart from her; but, though she is
  a winsome and cunning thief in such matters, I warrant you she shall
  fail therein. And so, commending myself to your good prayers, I
  remain

  "Your true friend and loving servant,
  "ANN SURREY."

As I finished and was folding up my letter the clock struck nine. It
was waning darker without by reason of a cloud which had obscured the
moon. I heard my father still pacing up and down the gravel-walk, and
ever and anon staying his footsteps awhile, as if watching. After a
short space the moon shone out again, and I saw the shadows of two
persons against the wall of the kitchen garden. Presently the
hall-door was fastened and bolted, as I knew by the rattling of the
chain which hung across it. Then my father looked in at the door and
said, "'Tis time, goodwife, for young folks to be abed." Upon which my
mother rose and made as if she was about to withdraw to her
bed-chamber. Edmund followed us up stairs, and, wishing us both
good-night, went into the closet where he slept. Then my mother,
taking me by the hand, led me into my father's study.


CHAPTER III.

As I entered the library, which my father used for purposes of
business as well as of study, I saw a gentleman who had often been at
our house before, and whom I knew to be a priest, though he was
dressed as a working-man of the better sort and had on a riding coat
of coarse materials. He beckoned me to him, and I, kneeling, received
his blessing.

"What, up yet, little one?" he said; "and yet thou must bestir thyself
betimes to-morrow for prayers. These are not days in which priests may
play the sluggard and be found abed when the sun rises."

"At what hour must you be on foot, reverend father?" my mother asked,
as sitting down at a table by his side she filled his plate with
whatever might tempt him to eat, the which he seemed little inclined
to.

"Before dawn, good Mrs. Sherwood," he answered; "and across the fields
into the forest before ever the laboring men are astir; and you know
best when that is."

"An if it be so, which I fear it must," my father said, "we must e'en
have the chapel ready by two o'clock. And, goodwife, you should
presently get that wench to bed."

"Nay, good mother," I cried, and threw my arms round her waist,
"prithee let me sit up to-night; I can lie abed all to-morrow." So
wistfully and urgently did I plead, that she, who had grown of late
somewhat loth to deny any request of mine, yielded to my entreaties,
and only willed that I should lie down on a settle betwixt her chair
and the chimney, in which a fagot was blazing, though it was
summer-time, but the weather was chilly. I gazed by turns on my
mother's pale face and my father's, which was thoughtful, and on the
good priest's, who was in an easy-chair, wherein they had compelled
him to sit, opposite to me on the other side of the chimney. He
looked, as I remember him then, as if in body and in mind he had
suffered more than he could almost bear.

After some discourse had been ministered betwixt him and my father of
the journey he had been taking, and the friends he had seen since last
he had visited our house, my mother said, in a tremulous voice, "And
now, good Mr. Mush, an if it would not pain you too sorely, tell us if
it be true that your dear daughter in Christ, Mrs. Clitherow, as
indeed won the martyr's crown, as some letters from York reported to
us a short time back?"

Upon this Mr. Mush raised his head, which had sunk on his breast, and
said, "She that was my spiritual daughter in times past, and now, as I
humbly hope, my glorious mother in heaven, the gracious martyr Mrs.
Clitherow, has overcome all her enemies, and passed from this mortal
life with rare and marvellous triumph into the peaceable city of God,
there to receive a worthy crown of endless immortality and joy." His
eye, that had been before heavy and dim, now shone with sudden light,
and it seemed as if the cord about his heart was loosed, and his
spirit found vent at last in words after a long and painful silence.
More eloquent still was his countenance than his words as he
exclaimed, "Torments overcame her not, nor the sweetness of life, nor
her vehement affection for  husband and children, nor the
flattering allurements and deceitful promises of the persecutors.
Finally, the world, the flesh, and the devil overcame her not. She, a
woman, with invincible courage entered combat against them all, to
defend the ancient faith, wherein both she and her enemies were
baptized and gave their promise to God to keep the same until death. O
sacred martyr!" and, with clasped hands and streaming eyes, the good
father went on, "remember me, I beseech thee humbly, in thy perfect
charity, whom thou hast left miserable behind thee, in time past thy
unworthy father and now most unworthy servant, made ever joyful by thy
virtuous life, and now lamenting thy death and thy absence, and yet
rejoicing in thy glory."

A sob burst from my mother's breast, and she hid her face against my
father's shoulder. There was a brief silence, during which many
quickly-rising thoughts passed through my mind. Of Daniel in the
lions' den, and the Machabees and the early Christians; and of the
great store of blood which had been shed of late in this our country,
and of which amongst the slain were truly martyrs, and which were not;
of the vision in the sky which had been seen at Lichfield; and chiefly
of that blessed woman Mrs. Clitherow, whose virtue and good works I
had often before heard of, such as serving the poor and harboring
priests, and loving God's Church with a wonderful affection greater
than can be thought of. Then I heard my father say, "How was it at the
last, good Mr. Mush?" I oped my eyes, and hung on the lips of the good
priest even as if to devour his words as he gave utterance to them.

"She refused to be tried by the country," he answered, in a tremulous
voice; "and so they murthered her."

"How so?" my mother asked, shading her eyes with her hand, as if to
exclude the mental sight of that which she yet sought to know.

"They pressed her to death," he slowly uttered; "and the last words
she was heard to say were 'Jesu, Jesu, Jesu! have mercy on me!' She
was in dying about a quarter of an hour, and then her blessed spirit
was released and took its flight to heaven. May we die the death of
the righteous, and may our last end be like hers!"

Again my mother hid her face in my father's bosom, and methought she
said not "Amen" to that prayer; but turning to Mr. Mush with a flushed
cheek and troubled eye, she asked, "And why did the blessed Mrs.
Clitherow refuse to be tried by the country, reverend father, and
thereby subject herself to that lingering death?"

"These were her words when questioned and urged on that point," he
answered, "which sufficiently clear her from all accusation of
obstinacy or desperation, and combine the rare discretion and charity
which were in her at all times: 'Alas!' quoth she, 'if I should have
put myself on the country, evidence must needs have come against me
touching my harboring of priests and the holy sacrifice of the mass in
my house, which I know none could give but only my children and
servants; and it would have been to me more grievous than a thousand
deaths if I should have seen any of them brought forth before me, to
give evidence against me in so good a cause and be guilty of my blood;
and, secondly,' quoth she, 'I know well the country must needs have
found me guilty to please the council, who so earnestly seek my blood,
and then all they had been accessory to my death and damnably offended
God. I therefore think, in the way of charity, for my part to hinder
the country from such a sin; and seeing it must needs be done, to
cause as few to do it as might be; and that was the judge himself.' So
she thought, and thereupon she acted, with that single view to God's
glory and the good of men's souls that was ever the passion of her
fervent spirit."

"Her children?" my mother murmured in a faint voice, still hiding her
face from him. "That little Agnes  you used to tell us of, that
was so dear to her poor mother, how has it fared with her?"

Mr. Mush answered, "Her _happy_ mother sent her hose and shoes to her
daughter at the last, signifying that she should serve God and follow
her steps of virtue. She was committed to ward because she would not
betray her mother, and there whipped and extremely used for that she
would not go to the church and hear a sermon. When her mother was
murthered, the heretics came to her and said that unless she would go
to the church, her mother should be put to death. The child, thinking
to save the life of her who had given her birth, went to a sermon, and
thus they deceived her."

"God forgive them!" my father ejaculated; and I, creeping to my
mother's side, threw my arms about her neck, upon which she, caressing
me, said:

"Now thou wilt be up to their deceits, Conny, if they should practice
the same arts on thee."

"Mother," I cried, clinging to her, "I will go with thee to prison and
to death; but to their church I will not go who love not our Blessed
Lady."

"So help thee God!" my father cried, and laid his hand on my head.

"Take heart, good Mrs. Sherwood," Mr. Mush said to my mother, who was
weeping; "God may spare you such trials as those which that sweet
saint rejoiced in, or he can give you a like strength to hers. We have
need in these times to bear in mind that comfortable saying of holy
writ, 'As your day shall your strength be.'"

"'Tis strange," my father observed, "how these present troubles seem
to awake the readiness, nay the wish, to suffer for truth's sake. It
is like a new sense in a soul heretofore but too prone to eschew
suffering of any sort: 'tis even as the keen breezes of our own
Cannock Chase stimulate the frame to exertions which it would shrink
from in the duller air of the Trent Valley."

"Ah! and is it even so with you, my friend?" exclaimed Mr. Mush. "From
my heart I rejoice at it: such thoughts are oftentimes forerunners of
God's call to a soul marked out for his special service."

My mother, against whom I was leaning since mention had been made of
Mrs. Clitherow's daughter, began to tremble; and rising said she would
go to the chapel to prepare for confession. Taking me by the hand, she
mounted the stairs to the room which was used as such since the
ancient faith had been proscribed. One by one that night we knelt at
the feet of the good shepherd, who, like his Lord, was ready to lay
down his life for his sheep, and were shriven. Then, at two of the
clock, mass was said, and my parents and most of our servants
received, and likewise some neighbors to whom notice had been sent in
secret of Mr. Mush's coming. When my mother returned from the altar to
her seat, I marvelled at the change in her countenance. She who had
been so troubled before the coming of the Heavenly Guest into her
breast, wore now so serene and joyful an aspect, that the looking upon
her at that time wrought in me a new and comfortable sense of the
greatness of that divine sacrament. I found not the thought of death
frighten me then; for albeit on that night I for the first time fully
arrived at the knowledge of the peril and jeopardy in which the
Catholics of this land do live; nevertheless this knowledge awoke in
me more exultation than fear. I had seen precautions used, and
reserves maintained, of which I now perceived the cause. For some time
past my parents had prepared the way for this no-longer-to-be-deferred
enlightenment. The small account they had taught me to make of the
wealth and comforts of this perishable world, and the histories they
had recounted to me of the sufferings of Christians in the early times
of the Church, had been directed unto this end. They had, as it were,
laid the wood on the altar of my heart, which they prayed might one
day burn into  a flame. And now when, by reason of the discourse
I had heard touching Mrs. Clitherow's blessed but painful end for
harboring of priests in her house, and the presence of one under our
roof, I took heed that the danger had come nigh unto our own doors, my
heart seemed to beat with a singular joy. Childhood sets no great
store on life: the passage from this world to the next is not terrible
to such as have had no shadows cast on their paths by their own or
others' sins. Heaven is not a far-off region to the pure in heart; but
rather a home, where God, as St. Thomas sings,

    "Vitam sine termino
  Nobis donet in patria."

But, ah me! how transient are the lights and shades which flit across
the childish mind! and how mutable the temper of youth, never long
impressed by any event, however grave! Not many days after Mr. Mush's
visit to our house, another letter from the Countess of Surrey came
into my hand, and drove from my thoughts for the time all but the
matters therein disclosed.

  "SWEET MISTRESS CONSTANCE"
  (my lady wrote),--"In my last letter I made mention, in an obscure
  fashion, of a secret which my lord had told me touching a matter of
  great weight which Higford, his grace's steward, had let out to him;
  and now that the whole world is speaking of what was then in hand,
  and that troubles have come of it, I must needs relieve my mind by
  writing thereof to her who is the best friend I have in the world,
  if I may judge by the virtuous counsel and loving words her letters
  do contain. 'Tis like you have heard somewhat of that same matter,
  Mistress Constance; for much talk has been ministered anent it since
  I wrote, amongst people of all sorts, and with various intents to
  the hindering or the promoting thereof. I mean touching the marriage
  of his grace the Duke of Norfolk with the Queen of Scots, which is
  much desired by some, and very little wished for by others. My lord,
  as is reasonable in one of his years and of so noble a spirit, and
  his sister, who is in all things the counterpart of her brother,
  have set their hearts thereon since the first inkling they had of
  it; for this queen had so noted a fame for her excellent beauty and
  sweet disposition that it has wrought in them an extraordinary
  passionate desire to title her mother, and to see their father so
  nobly mated, though not more than he deserves; for, as my lord says,
  his grace's estate in England is worth little less than the whole
  realm of Scotland, in the ill state to which the wars have reduced
  it; and when he is in his own tennis-court at Norwich, he thinks
  himself as great as a king.

  "As a good wife, I should wish as my lord does; and indeed this
  marriage, Mistress Constance, would please me well; for the Queen of
  Scots is Catholic, and methinks if his grace were to wed her, there
  might arise some good out of it to such as are dependent on his
  grace touching matters of religion; and since Mr. Martin has gone
  beyond seas, 'tis very little I hear in this house but what is
  contrary to the teaching I had at my grandmother's. My lord saith
  this queen's troubles will be ended if she doth marry his grace, for
  so Higford has told him; but when I spoke thereof to my Lady Lumley,
  she prayed God his grace's might not then begin, but charged me to
  be silent thereon before my Lord Arundel, who has greatly set his
  heart on this match. She said words were in every one's mouth
  concerning this marriage which should never have been spoken of but
  amongst a few. 'Nan,' quoth she, 'if Phil and thou do let your
  children's tongues wag anent a matter which may well be one of life
  and death, more harm may come of it than can well be thought of.' So
  prithee, Mistress Constance, do you be silent as the grave on what I
  have herein written, if so be you have not heard  of it but
  from me. My lord had a quarrel with my Lord Essex, who is about his
  own age, anent the Queen of Scots, a few days since, when he came to
  spend his birthday with him; for my lord was twelve years old last
  week, and I gave him a fair jewel to set in his cap, for a
  love-token and for remembrance. My lord said that the Queen of Scots
  was a lady of so great virtue and beauty that none else could be
  compared with her; upon which my lord of Essex cried it was high
  treason to the queen's majesty to say so, and that if her grace held
  so long a time in prison one who was her near kinswoman, it was by
  reason of her having murthered her husband and fomented rebellion in
  this kingdom of England, for the which she did deserve to be
  extremely used. My lord was very wroth at this, and swore he was no
  traitor, and that the Queen of Scots was no murtheress, and he would
  lay down his head on the block rather than suffer any should style
  her such; upon which my lord of Essex asked, 'Prithee, my Lord
  Surrey, were you at Thornham last week when the queen's majesty was
  on a visit to your grandfather, my Lord Arundel?' 'No,' cried my
  lord, 'your lordship being there yourself in my Lord Leicester's
  suite, must needs have noticed I was absent; for if I had been
  present, methinks 'tis I and not your lordship would have waited
  behind her majesty's chair at table and held a napkin to her.' 'And
  if you had, my lord,' quoth my Lord Essex, waxing hot in his speech,
  'you would have noticed how her grace's majesty gave a nip to his
  grace your father, who was sitting by her side, and said she would
  have him take heed on what pillow he rested his head.' 'And I would
  have you take heed,' cries my lord, 'how you suffer your tongue to
  wag in an unseemly manner anent her grace's majesty and his grace my
  father and the Queen of Scots, who is kinswoman to both, and even
  now a prisoner, which should make men careful how they speak of her
  who cannot speak in her own cause; for it is a very inhuman part, my
  lord, to tread on such as misfortune has cast down.' There was a
  nobleness in these words such as I have often taken note of in my
  lord, though so young, and which his playmate yielded to; so that
  nothing more was said at that time anent those matters, which indeed
  do seem too weighty to be discoursed upon by young folks. But I have
  thought since on the lines which 'tis said the queen's majesty wrote
  when she was herself a prisoner, which begin,

    'O Fortune! how thy restless, wavering state
    Hath fraught with cares my troubled wit;
    Witness this present prison, whither fate
    Could bear me, and the joys I quit'--

  and wondered she should have no greater pity on those in the same
  plight, as so many be at this time. Ah me! I would not keep a bird
  in a cage an I could help it, and 'tis sad men are not more tender
  of such as are of a like nature with themselves!

  "My lord was away some days after this at Oxford, whither he had
  been carried to be present at the queen's visit, and at the play of
  _Palamon and Arcite_, which her majesty heard in the common hall of
  Christ's Church. One evening, as my lady Margaret and I (like two
  twin cherries on one stalk, my lord would say, for he is mightily
  taken with the stage-plays he doth hear, and hath a trick of framing
  his speech from them) were sitting at the window near unto the
  garden practising our lutes and singing madrigals, he surprised us
  with his sweet company, in which I find an ever increasing content,
  and cried out as he approached, 'Ladies, I hold this sentence of the
  poet as a canon of my creed, that whom God loveth not, they love not
  music.' And then he said that albeit Italian was a very harmonious
  and sweet language which pleasantly tickleth the ear, he for his
  part loved English best, even in singing. Upon which, finding him in
  the humor for discreet  and sensible conversation, which,
  albeit he hath good parts and a ready wit, is not always the case,
  by reason of his being, as boys mostly are, prone to wagging, I took
  occasion to relate what I had heard my Lord of Arundel say touching
  his visit to the court of Brussels, when the Duchess of Parma
  invited him to a banquet to meet the Prince of Orange and most of
  the chief courtiers. The discourse was carried on in French; but my
  lord, albeit he could speak well in that language, nevertheless made
  use of an interpreter. At the which the Prince of Orange expressed
  his surprise to Sir John Wilson, who was present, that an English
  nobleman of so great birth and breeding should be ignorant of the
  French tongue, which the earl presently hearing, said, 'Tell the
  prince that I like to speak in that language in which I can best
  utter my mind and not mistake.' And I perceive, my lord,' I said,
  'that you are of a like mind with his lordship, and no lover of
  new-fangled and curious terms.'

  "Upon which my dear earl laughed, and related unto us how the queen
  had been pleased to take notice of him at Oxford, and spoke merrily
  to him of his marriage. 'And prithee, Phil, what were her highness's
  words?' quoth his prying sister, like a true daughter of Eve. At
  which my lord stroked his chin, as if to smooth his beard which is
  still to come, and said her majesty had cried, 'God's pity, child,
  thou wilt tire of thy wife afore you have both left the nursery.'
  'Alack,' cried Meg, 'if any but her highness had said it, thy hand
  would have been on thy sword, brother, and I'll warrant thou didst
  turn as red as a turkey-cock, when her majesty thus titled thee a
  baby. Nay, do not frown, but be a good lord to us, and tell Nan and
  me if the queen said aught else.' Then my lord cleared his brow, and
  related how in the hunting scene in the play, when the cry of the
  hounds was heard outside the stage, which was excellently well
  imitated, some scholars who were seated near him, and he must
  confess himself also, did shout, 'There, there--he's caught, he's
  caught!' upon which her grace's majesty laughed, and merrily cried
  out from her box, 'Those boys in very troth are ready to leap out of
  the windows!' 'And had you such pleasant sports each day, brother?'
  quoth our Meg. 'No, by my troth,' my lord answered; 'the more's the
  pity; for the next day there was a disputation held in physic and
  divinity from two to seven; and Dr. Westphaling held forth at so
  great length that her majesty sent word to him to end his discourse
  without delay, to the great relief and comfort of all present. But
  he would not give over, lest, having committed all to memory, he
  should forget the rest if he omitted any part of it, and be brought
  to shame before the university and the court.' 'What said her
  highness when she saw he heeded not her commands?' Meg asked. 'She
  was angered at first,' quoth my lord, 'that he durst go on with his
  discourse when she had sent him word presently to stop, whereby she
  had herself been prevented from speaking, which the Spanish
  Ambassador had asked her to do; but when she heard the reason it
  moved her to laughter, and she titled him a parrot.'

  "'And spoke not her majesty at all?' I asked; and my lord said, 'She
  would not have been a woman, Nan, an she had held her tongue after
  being once resolved to use it. She made the next day an oration in
  Latin, and stopped in the midst to bid my Lord Burleigh be seated,
  and not to stand painfully on his gouty feet. Beshrew me, but I
  think she did it to show the poor dean how much better her memory
  served her than his had done, for she looked round to where he was
  standing ere she resumed her discourse. And now, Meg, clear thy
  throat and tune thy pipe, for not another word will I speak till
  thou hast sung that ditty good Mr. Martin set to music for thee.' I
  have set it down here, Mistress Constance, with the notes as
  she sung it, that you may sing it also; and not like it the less that
  my quaint fancy pictures the maiden the poet sings of, in her 'frock
  of frolic green,' like unto my sweet friend who dwells not far from
  one of the fair rivers therein named.

    A knight, as antique stories tell,
    A daughter had named Dawsabel,
        A maiden fair and free;
    She wore a frock of frolic green,
    Might well become a maiden queen,
        Which seemly was to see.

    The silk well could she twist and twine,
    And make the fine March pine,
    And with the needle work;
    And she could help the priest to say
    His matins on a holy day,
    And sing a psalm in kirk.

    Her features all as fresh above
    As is the grass that grows by Dove,
    And lythe as lass of Kent;
    Her skin as soft as Leinster wool,
    And white as snow on Penhisk Hull,
    Or swan that swims on Trent.

    This maiden on a morn betime
    Goes forth when May is in its prime,
    To get sweet setywall,
    The honeysuckle, the hurlock,
    The lily and the lady-smock,
    To deck her father's hall.

  "'Ah,' cried my lord, when Meg had ended her song, beshrew me, if
  Monsieur Sebastian's madrigals are one-half so dainty as this
  English piece of harmony.' And then,--for his lordship's head is at
  present running on pageants such as he witnessed at Nonsuch and at
  Oxford,--he would have me call into the garden Madge and Bess,
  whilst he fetched his brothers to take part in a May game, not
  indeed in season now, but which, he says, is too good sport not to
  be followed all the year round. So he must needs dress himself as
  Robin Hood, with a wreath on his head and a sheaf of arrows in his
  girdle, and me as Maid Marian; and Meg, for that she is taller by an
  inch than any of us, though younger than him and me, he said should
  play Little John, and Bess Friar Tuck, for that she looks so
  gleesome and has a face so red and round. 'And Tom,' he cried, 'thou
  needst not be at pains to change thy name, for we will dub thee Tom
  the piper.' 'And what is Will to be?' asked my Lady Bess, who, since
  I be titled Countess of Surrey, must needs be styled My Lady William
  Howard.' 'Why, there's only the fool left,' quoth my lord, 'for thy
  sweetheart to play, Bess.' At the which her ladyship and his
  lordship too began to stamp and cry, and would have sobbed outright,
  but sweet Madge, whose face waxes so white and her eyes so large and
  blue that methinks she is more like to an angel than a child, put
  out her little thin hands with a pretty gesture, and said, 'I'll be
  the fool, brother Surrey, and Will shall be the dragon, and Bess
  ride the hobby-horse, an it will please her.' 'Nay, but she is Friar
  Tuck,' quoth my lord, 'and should not ride.' 'And prithee wherefore
  no?' cried the forward imp, who, now she no more fears her grandam's
  rod, has grown very saucy and bold; 'why should not the good friar
  ride, an it doth pleasure him?'

  "At the which we laughed and fell to acting our parts with no little
  merriment and noise, and sundry reprehensions from my lord when we
  mistook our postures or the lines he would have us to recite. And at
  the end he set up a pole on the grass-plat for the Maying, and we
  danced and sung around it to a merry tune, which set our feet flying
  in time with the music:

    Now in the month of maying,
    When the merry lads are playing,
        Fa, la, la.

    Each with his bonny lasse,
    Upon the greeny grasse,
        Fa, la, la.

  Madge was not strong enough to dance, but she stole away to gather
  white and blue violets, and made a fair garland to set on my head,
  to my lord's great content, and would have me unloose my hair on my
  shoulders, which fell nearly to my feet, and waved in the wind in a
  wild fashion; which he said was beseeming for a bold outlaw's bride,
  and what he had seen in the Maid Marian, who had played in the
  pageant at Nonsuch. Mrs. Fawcett misdoubted that this sport of ours
  should be approved by Mr. Charke, who calls all  stage-playing
  Satan's recreations, and a sure road unto hell; and that we shall
  hear on it in his next preachment; for he has held forth to her at
  length on that same point, and upbraided her for that she did suffer
  such foolish and profane pastimes to be carried on in his grace's
  house. Ah me! I see no harm in it; and if, when my lord visits me, I
  play not with him as he chooses, 'tis not a thing to be expected
  that he will come only to sing psalms or play chess, which Mr.
  Charke holds to be the only game it befits Christians to entertain
  themselves with. 'Tis hard to know what is right and wrong when
  persons be of such different minds, and no ghostly adviser to be
  had, such as I was used to at my grandmother's house.

  "All, Mistress Constance! when I last wrote unto you I said troubles
  was the word in every one's mouth, and ere I had finished this
  letter--which I was then writing, and have kept by me ever
  since--what, think you, has befallen us? 'Tis anent the marriage of
  his grace with the Queen of Scots; which I now do wish it had
  pleased God none had ever thought of. Some weeks since my lord had
  told me, with great glee, that the Spanish ambassador was about to
  petition her majesty the queen for the release of her highness's
  cousin; and Higford and Bannister, and the rest of his grace's
  household--whom, since Mr. Martin went beyond seas, my lord spends
  much of his time with, and more of it methinks than is beseeming or
  to the profit of his manners and advancement of his behavior--have
  told him that this would prepare the way for the
  greatly-to-be-desired end of his grace's marriage with that queen;
  and my lord was reckoning up all the fine sports and pageants and
  noble entertainments would be enacted at Kenninghall and Thetford
  when that right princely wedding should take place; and how he
  should himself carry the train of the queen-duchess when she went
  into church; who was the fairest woman, he said, in the whole world,
  and none ever seen to be compared with her since the days of Grecian
  Helen. But when, some days ago, I questioned my lord touching the
  success of the ambassador's suits, and the queen's answer thereto,
  he said: 'By my troth, Nan, I understand that her highness sent away
  the gooseman, for so she entitled Senor Guzman, with a flea in his
  ear; for she said he had come on a fool's errand, and gave him for
  her answer that she would advise the Queen of Scots to bear her
  condition with less impatience, or she might chance to find some of
  those on whom she relied shorter by a head.' Oh, my lord,' I cried;
  'my dear Phil! God send she was not speaking of his grace your
  father!' 'Nan,' quoth he, 'she looked at his grace the next day with
  looks of so great anger and disdain, that my lord of Leicester--that
  false and villainous knave--gave signs of so great triumph as if his
  grace was even on his way to the Tower. Beshrew me, if I would not
  run my rapier through his body if I could!' 'And where is his grace
  at present?' I asked. 'He came to town night,' quoth my lord, 'with
  my Arundel, and this morning went Kenninghall.' After this for some
  days I heard no more, for a new tutor came to my lord, who suffers
  him not to stay in the waiting-room with his grace's gentlemen, and
  keeps so strict a hand over him touching his studies, that in his
  brief hours of recreation he would rather play at quoits, and other
  active pastimes, than converse with his lady. Alack! I wish he were
  a few years older, and I should have more comfort of him than now,
  when I must needs put up with his humors, which be as changeful, by
  reason of his great youth, as the lights and shades on the grass
  'neath an aspen-tree. I must be throwing a ball for hours, or
  learning a stage-part, when I would fain speak of the weighty
  matters which be on hand, such as I have told you of. Howsoever, as
  good luck would have it, my Lady Lumley sent for me to spend
  the day with her; and from her ladyship I learnt that his grace had
  written to the queen that he had withdrawn from the court because of
  the pain he felt at her displeasure, and his mortification at the
  treatment he had been subjected to by the insolence of his foes, by
  whom he has been made a common table talk; and that her majesty had
  laid upon him her commands straightway to return to court. That was
  all was known that day; but at the very time that I was writing the
  first of these woeful tidings to you, Mistress Constance, his grace--
  whom I now know that I do love dearly, and with a true daughter's
  heart, by the dreadful fear and pain I am in--was arrested at
  Burnham, where he had stopped on his road to Windsor, and committed
  to the Tower. Alack! alack! what will follow? I will leave this my
  letter open until I have further news to send.

  "His grace was examined this day before my Lord-keeper Bacon, and my
  Lords Northampton, Sadler, Bedford, and Cecil; and they have
  reported to her majesty that the duke had not put himself under
  penalty of the law by any overt act of treason, and that it would be
  difficult to convict him without this. My Lord of Arundel, at whose
  house I was when these tidings came, said her majesty was so angered
  at this judgment, that she cried out in a passion, 'Away! what the
  law fails to do my authority shall effect;' and straightway fell
  into a fit, her passion was so great; and they were forced to apply
  vinegar to restore her. I had a wicked thought come into my mind,
  Mistress Constance, that I should not have been concerned if the
  queen's majesty had died in that fit, which I befear me was high
  treason, and a mortal sin, to wish for one to die in a state of sin.
  But, alack! since I have left going to shrift I find it hard to
  fight against bad thoughts and naughty tempers; and when I say my
  prayers, and the old words come to my lips, which the preachments I
  hear do contradict, I am sometimes well-nigh tempted to give over
  praying at all. But I pray to God I may never be so wicked; and
  though I may not have my beads (which were taken from me), that the
  good Bishop of Durham gave me when I was confirmed, I use my fingers
  in their stead; and whilst his grace was at the Tower I did say as
  many 'Hail Maries' in one day as I ever did in my life before; and
  promised him, who is God's own dear Son and hers, if his grace came
  out of prison, never to be a day of my life without saying a prayer,
  or giving an alms, or doing a good turn to those which be in the
  same case, near at hand or throughout the world; and I ween there
  are many such of all sorts at this time.

  "Your loving servant to command, whose heart is at present heavier
  than her pen,
            "ANN SURREY."

  "P. S. My Lord of Westmoreland has left London, and his lady is in a
  sad plight. I hear such things said on all sides touching Papists as
  I can scarce credit, and I pray to God they be not true. But an if
  they be so bad as some do say, why does his grace run his head into
  danger for the sake of the Popish queen, as men do style her? They
  have arrested Higford and Bannister last night, and they are to
  taste of the rack to-day, to satisfy the queen, who is so urgent on
  it. My lord is greatly concerned thereat, and cried when he spoke of
  it, albeit he tried to hide his tears. I asked him to show me what
  sort of pain it was; whereupon he twisted my arm till I cried out
  and bade him desist. God help me! I could not have endured the pain
  an instant longer; and if they have naught to tell anent these plots
  and against his grace, they needs must speak what is false when
  under the rack. Oh, 'tis terrible to think what men do suffer and
  cause others to suffer!"

This letter came into my hand on a day when my father had gone into
Lichfield touching some business; and  he brought with it the
news of a rising in the north, and that his Grace of Northumberland
and my Lord of Westmoreland had taken arms on hearing of the Duke of
Norfolk's arrest; and the Catholics, under Mr. Richard Norton and Lord
Latimer, had joined their standard, and were bearing the cross before
the insurgents. My father was sore cast down at these tidings; for he
looked for no good from what was rebellion against a lawful sovereign,
and a consorting with troublesome spirits, swayed by no love of our
holy religion but rather contrary to it, as my Lord of Westmoreland
and some others of those leading lords. And he hence foreboded fresh
trials to all such as were of the ancient faith all over England;
which was not long in accruing even in our own case; for a short time
after, we were for the first time visited by pursuivants, on a day and
in such a manner as I will now briefly relate.

CHAPTER IV.

On the Sunday morning which followed the day on which the news had
reached us of the rising in Northumberland, I went, as was my wont,
into my mother's dressing-room, to crave her blessing, and I asked of
her if the priest who came to say mass for us most Sundays had
arrived. She said he had been, and had gone away again, and that she
greatly feared we should have no prayers that day, saving such as we
might offer up for ourselves; "together," she added after a pause,
"with a bitter sacrifice of tears and of such sufferings as we have
heard of, but as yet not known the taste of ourselves."

Again I felt in my heart a throbbing feeling, which had in it an
admixture of pain and joy--made up, I ween, of conflicting
passions--such as curiosity feeding on the presentment of an
approaching change; of the motions of grace in a soul which faintly
discerns the happiness of suffering for conscience sake; and the fear
of suffering natural to the human heart.

"Why are we to have no mass, sweet mother?" I asked, encircling her
waist in my arms; "and wherefore has good Mr. Bryan gone away?"

"We received advice late last evening," she answered, "that the
queen's pursuivants have orders to search this day the houses of the
most noted recusants in this neighborhood; and 'tis likely they may
begin with us, who have never made a secret of our faith, and never
will."

"And will they kill us if they come?" I asked, with that same
trembling eagerness I have so often known since when danger was at
hand.

"Not now, not to-day, Conny," she answered; "but I pray to God they do
not carry us away to prison; for since this rising in the north, to be
a Catholic and a traitor is one and the same in their eyes who have to
judge us. We must needs hide our books and church furniture; so give
me thy beads, sweet one, and the cross from thy neck."

I waxed red when my mother bade me unloose the string, and tightly
clasped the cross in both my hands "Let them kill me, mother," I
cried; "but take not off my cross."

"Maybe," she said, "the queen's officers would trample on it, and
injure their own souls in dishonoring a holy symbol." And as she spoke
she took it from me, and hid it in a recess behind the chimney; which
no sooner was done, than we heard a sound of horses' feet in the
approach; and going to the window, I cried out, "Here is a store of
armed men on horseback!" Ere I had uttered the words, one of them had
dismounted and loudly knocked at the door with his truncheon; upon
which my mother, taking me by the hand, went down stairs into the
parlor where my father was. It seemed as if those knocks had struck on
her heart, so great a trembling came over her. My father bade the
servants throw  open the door; and the sheriff came in, with two
pursuivants and some more men with him, and produced a warrant to
search the house; which my father having read, he bowed his head, and
gave orders not to hinder them in their duty. He stood himself the
while in the hall, his face as white as a smock, and his teeth almost
running through his lips.

One of the men came into the library,  and pulling down the books,
scattered them on the floor, and cried:

"Look ye here, sirs, what Popish stuff is this, fit for the hangman's
burning!" At the which another answered:

"By my troth, Sam, I misdoubt that thou canst read. Methinks thou dost
hunt Popery as dogs do game, by the scent. Prithee spell me the title
of this volume."

"I will have none of thy gibing, Master Sevenoaks," returned the
other. "Whether I be a scholar or not, I'll warrant no honest
gospeller wrote on those yellow musty leaves, which be two hundred
years old, if they be a day."

"And I'll warrant thee in that credence, Master Samuel, by the same
token that the volume in thy hand is a treatise on field-sports, writ
in the days of Master Caxton; a code of the laws to be observed in the
hunting and killing of deer, which I take to be no Popish sport, for
our most gracious queen--God save her majesty!--slew a fat buck not
long ago in Windsor Forest with her own hand, and remembered his grace
of Canterbury with half her prey;" and so saying, he drew his comrade
from the room; I ween with the intent to save the books from his rough
handling, for he seemed of a more gentle nature than the rest and of a
more moderate disposition.

When they had ransacked all the rooms below, they went upstairs, and
my father followed. Breaking from my mother's side, who sat pale and
still as a statute, unable to move from her seat, I ran after him, and
on the landing-place I heard the sheriff say somewhat touching the
harboring of priests; to the which he made answer that he was ready to
swear there was no priest in the house. "Nor has been?" quoth the
sheriff; upon which my father said:

"Good sir, this house was built in the days of Her majesty's
grandfather, King Henry VII.; and on one occasion his majesty was
pleased to rest under my grandfather's roof, and to hear mass in that
room," he said, pointing to what was now the chapel, "the church being
too distant for his majesty's convenience: so priests have been within
these walls many times ere I was born."

The sheriff said no more at that time, but went into the room, where
there were only a few chairs, for that in the night the altar and all
that appertained to it had been removed. He and his men were going out
again, when a loud knocking was heard against the wall on one side of
the chamber; at the sound of which my father's face, which was white
before, became of an ashy paleness.

"Ah!" cried one of the pursuivants, "the lying Papist! The egregious
Roman! an oath is in his mouth that he has no priest in his house, and
here is one hidden in his cupboard."

"Mr. Sherwood!" the sheriff shouted, greatly moved, "lead the way to
the hiding-place wherein a traitor is concealed, or I order the house
to be pulled down about your ears."

My father was standing like one stunned by a sudden blow, and I heard
him murmur, "'Tis the devil's own doing, or else I am stark, staring
mad."

The men ran to the wall, and knocked against it with their sticks,
crying out in an outrageous manner to the priest to come out of his
hole. "We'll unearth the Jesuit fox," cried one; "we'll give him a
better lodging in Lichfield gaol," shouted another; and the sheriff
kept threatening to set fire to the house. Still the knocking from
within went on, as if  answering that outside, and then a voice
cried out, "I cannot open: I am shut in."

"'Tis Edmund!" I exclaimed; "'tis Edmund is in the hiding-place." And
then the words were distinctly heard, "'Tis I; 'tis Edmund Genings.
For God's sake, open; I am shut in." Upon which my father drew a deep
breath, and hastening forward, pressed his finger on a place in the
wall, the panel slipped, and Edmund came out of the recess, looking
scared and confused. The pursuivants seized him; but the sheriff cried
out, surprised, "God's death, sirs! but 'tis the son of the worshipful
Mr. Genings, whose lady is a mother in Israel, and M. Jean de Luc's
first cousin! And how came ye, Mr. Edmund, to be concealed in this
Popish den? Have these recusants imprisoned you with some foul intent,
or perverted you by their vile cunning?" Edmund was addressing my
father in an agitated voice.

"I fear me, sir," he cried, clasping his hands, "I befear me much I
have affrighted you, and I have been myself sorely affrighted. I was
passing through this room, which I have never before seen, and the
door of which was open this morn. By chance I drew my hand along the
wall, where there was no apparent mark, when the panel slipped and
disclosed this recess, into which I stepped, and straightway the
opening closed and I remained in darkness. I was afraid no one might
hear me, and I should die of hunger."

My father tried to smile, but could not. "Thank God," he said, "'tis
no worse;" and sinking down on a chair he remained silent, whilst the
sheriff and the pursuivants examined the recess, which was deep and
narrow, and in which they brandished their swords in all directions.
Then they went round the room, feeling the walls; but though there was
another recess with a similar mode of aperture, they hit not on it,
doubtless through God's mercy; for in it were concealed the altar
furniture and our books, with many other things besides, which they
would have seized on.

Before going away, the sheriff questioned Edmund concerning his faith,
and for what reason he abode in a Popish house and consorted with
recusants. Edmund answered he was no Papist, but a kinsman of Mrs.
Sherwood, unto whose house his father had oftentimes sent him. Upon
which he was counselled to take heed unto himself and to eschew evil
company, which leads to horrible defections, and into the straight
road to perdition. Whereupon they departed; and the officer who had
enticed his companion from the library smiled as he passed me, and
said:

"And wherefore not at prayers, little mistress, on the Lord's day, as
all Christian folks should be?"

I ween he was curious to see how I should answer, albeit not moved
thereunto by any malicious intent. But at the time I did not bethink
myself that he spoke of Protestant service; and being angered at what
passed, I said:

"Because we be kept from prayers by the least welcome visit ever made
to Christian folks on a Lord's morning." He laughed and cried:

"Thou hast a ready tongue, young mistress; and when tried for
recusancy I warrant thou'lt give the judge a piece of thy mind."

"And if I ever be in such a presence, and for such a cause," I
answered, "I pray to God I may say to my lord on the bench what the
blessed apostle St. Peter spoke to his judges: 'If it be just in the
sight of God to hear you rather than God, judge ye.'" At which he
cried:

"Why, here is a marvel indeed--a Papist to quote Scripture!" And
laughing again, he went his way; and the house was for that time rid
of these troublesome guests.

Then Edmund again sued for pardon to my father, that through his rash
conduct he had been the occasion of so great fear and trouble to him.


"I warrant thee, my good boy," quoth my father, "thou didst cause me
the most keen anguish, and the most sudden relief from it, which can
well be thought of; and so no more need be said thereon. And as thou
must needs be going to the public church, 'tis time that thou bestir
thyself; for 'tis a long walk there and back, and the sun waxing hot."

When Edmund was gone, and I alone with him, my father clasped me in
his arms, and cried:

"God send, my wench, thou mayest justify thy sponsors who gave thee
thy name in baptism; for 'tis a rare constancy these times do call
for, and such as is not often seen, saving in such as be of a noble
and religious spirit; which I pray to God may be the case with thee."

My mother did not speak, but went away with her hand pressed against
her heart; which was what of late I had often seen her to do, as if
the pain was more than she could bear.

One hour later, as I was crossing the court, a man met me suited as a
farmer; who, when I passed him, laid his hand on my shoulder; at the
which I started, and turning round saw it was Father Bryan; who,
smiling as I caught his hand, cried out:

"Dost know the shepherd in his wolf's clothing, little mistress?" and
hastening on to the chapel he said mass, at the which only a few
assisted, as my parents durst not send to the Catholics so late in the
day. As soon as mass was over, Mr. Bryan said he must leave, for there
was a warrant issued for his apprehension; and our house famed for
recusancy, so as he might not stay in it but with great peril to
himself and to its owners. We stood at the door as he was mounting his
horse, and my father said, patting its neck:

"Tis a faithful servant this, reverend father; many a mile he has
carried thee to the homes of the sick and dying since our troubles
began."

"Ah! good Mr. Sherwood," Mr. Bryan replied, as he gathered up the
bridle, "thou hast indeed warrant to style the poor beast faithful. If
I were to shut my eyes and let him go, no doubt but he would find his
way to the doors of such as cleave to the ancient faith, in city or in
hamlet, across moor or through thick wood. If a pursuivant bestrode
him, he might discover through his means who be recusants a hundred
miles around. But I bethink me he would not budge with such a burthen
on his back; and that he who made the prophet's ass to speak, would,
give the good beast more sense than to turn informer, and to carry the
wolf to the folds of the lambs. And prithee, Mistress Constance," said
the good priest, turning to me, "canst keep a secret and be silent,
when men's lives are in jeopardy?"

"Aye," cried my father quickly, "'tis as much as worthy Mr. Bryan's
life is worth that none should know he was here to-day."

"More than my poor life is worth," he rejoined; "that were little to
think of, my good friends. For five years I have made it my prayer
that the day may soon come--and I care not how soon--when I may lay it
down for his sake who gave it. But we must e'en have a care for those
who are so rash as to harbor priests in these evil times. So Mistress
Constance must e'en study the virtue of silence, and con the meaning
of the proverb which teacheth discretion to be the best part of
valor."

"If Edmund Genings asketh me, reverend father, if I have heard mass
to-day, what must I answer?"

"Say the queen's majesty has forbidden mass to be said in this her
kingdom; and if he presseth thee more closely thereon, why then tell
him the last news from the poultry-yard, and that the hares have eat
thy mignonette; which they be doing even now, if my eyes deceive me
not," said the good father, pointing with his whip to the
flower-garden.

So, smiling, he gave us a last blessing, and rode on toward the Chase,
and I went to drive the hares away  from the flower-beds, and
then to set the chapel in fair order. And ever and anon, that day and
the next, I took out of my pocket my sweet Lady Surrey's last letter,
and pictured to myself all the scenes therein related; so that I
seemed to live one-half of my life with her in thought, so greatly was
my fancy set upon her, and my heart concerned in her troubles.

CHAPTER V.

Not many days after the sheriff and the pursuivants had been at our
house, and Mr. Bryan, by reason of the bloody laws which had been
enacted against Papists and such as harbor priests, had left us,--
though intending to return at such times as might serve our commodity,
and yet not affect our safety,--I was one morning assisting my mother
in the store-room, wherein she was setting aside such provisions as
were to be distributed to the poor that week, together with salves,
medicines, and the like, which she also gave out of charity, when a
spasm came over her, so vehement and painful, that for the moment she
lost the use of speech, and made signs to me to call for help. I ran
affrighted into the library for my father, and brought him to her,
upon which, in a little time, she did somewhat recover, but desired he
would assist her to her own chamber, whither she went leaning on his
arm. When laid on her bed she seemed easier; and smiling, bade me
leave them for awhile, for that she desired to have speech with my
father alone.

For the space of an hour I walked in the garden, with so oppressive a
grief at my heart as I had never before experienced. Methinks the
great stillness in the air added thereunto some sort of physical
disorder; for the weather was very close and heavy; and if a leaf did
but stir, I started as if danger was at hand; and the noise of the
chattering pies over my head worked in me an apprehensive melancholy,
foreboding, I doubt not, what was to follow. At about eleven o'clock,
hearing the sound of a horse's feet in the avenue, I turned round, and
saw Edmund riding from the house; upon which I ran across the grass to
a turning of the road where he would pass, and called to him to stop,
which he did; and told me he was going to Lichfield for his father,
whom my mother desired presently to see. "Then thou shouldst not
tarry," I said; and he pushed on and left me standing where I was; but
the bell then ringing for dinner, I went back to the house, and, in so
doing, took notice of a bay-tree on the lawn which was withered and
dried-up, though the gardener had been at pains to preserve it by
sundry appliances and frequent watering of it. Then it came to my
remembrance what my nurse used to say, that the dying of that sort of
tree is a sure omen of a death in a family; which thought sorely
disturbed me at that time. I sat down with my father to a brief and
silent meal; and soon after the physician he had sent for came, whom
he conducted to my mother's chamber, whereunto I did follow, and
slipped in unperceived. Sitting on one side of the bed, behind the
curtains, I heard her say, in a voice which sounded hollow and weak,
"Good Master Lawrenson, my dear husband was fain to send for you, and
I cared not to withstand him, albeit persuaded that I am hastening to
my journey's end, and that naught that you or any other man may
prescribe may stay what is God's will. And if this be visible to you
as it is to me, I pray you keep it not from me, for it will be to my
much comfort to be assured of it."

When she had done speaking, he did feel her pulse; and the while my
heart beat so quick and, as it seemed to me, so loud as if it must
needs impede my hearing; but in a moment I heard him say: "God defend,
good madam, I should deceive you. While there is life, there is hope.
Greater  comfort I dare not urge. If there be any temporal matter
on your mind, 'twere better settled now, and likewise of your soul's
health, by such pious exercises as are used by those of your way of
thinking."

At the hearing of these his words, my father fetched a deep sigh; but
she, as one greatly relieved, clasped her hands together, and cried,
"My God, I thank thee!"

Then, stealing from behind the curtain, I laid my head on the pillow
nigh unto hers, and whispered, "Sweet mother, prithee do not die, or
else take me with thee."

But she, as one not heeding, exclaimed, with her hands uplifted, "O
faithless heart! O selfish heart! to be so glad of death!"

The physician was directing the maids what they should do for her
relief when the pain came on, and he himself stood compounding some
medicine for her to take. My father asked of him when he next would
come; and he answered, "On the morrow;" but methinks 'twas even then
his belief that there would be no morrow for her who was dying before
her time, like the bay-tree in our garden. She bade him farewell in a
kindly fashion; and when we were alone, I lying on the bed by her
side, and my father sitting at its head, she said, in a low voice,
"How wonderful be God's dealings with us, and how fatherly his care;
in that he takes the weak unto himself, and leaves behind the strong
to fight the battle now at hand! My dear master, I had a dream
yesternight which had somewhat of horror in it, but more methinks of
comfort." My father breaking out then in sighs and tears as if his
heart would break, she said, "Oh, but thou must hear and acknowledge,
my loved master, how gracious is God's providence to thy poor wife.
When thou knowest what I have suffered--not in body, though that has
been sharp too, but in my soul--it will reconcile thine own to a
parting which has in it so much of mercy. Thou dost remember the night
when Mr. Mush was here, and what his discourse did run on?"

"Surely do I, sweet wife," he answered; "for it was such as the mind
doth not easily lose the memory of; the sufferings and glorious end of
the blessed martyr Mrs. Clitherow. I perceived what sorrowful heed
thou didst lend to his recital; but has it painfully dwelt in thy mind
since?"

"By day and by night it hath not left me; ever recurring to my
thoughts, ever haunting my dreams, and working in me a fearful
apprehension lest in a like trial I should be found wanting, and prove
a traitor to God and his Church, and a disgrace and heartbreak to thee
who hast so truly loved me far beyond my deserts. I have bragged of
the dangers of the times, even as cowards are wont to speak loud in
the dark to still by the sound of their own voices the terrors they do
feel. I have had before my eyes the picture of that cruel death, and
of the children extremely used for answering as their mother had
taught them, till cold drops of sweat have stood on my brow, and I
have knelt in my chamber wringing my hands and praying to be spared a
like trial. And then, maybe an hour later, sitting at the table, I
spake merrily of the gallows, mocking my own fears, as when Mr. Bryan
was last here; and I said that priests should be more welcome to me
than ever they were, now that virtue and the Catholic cause were made
felony; and the same would be in God's sight more meritorious than
ever before: upon which, 'Then you must prepare your neck for the
rope,' quoth he, in a pleasant but withal serious manner; at the which
a cold chill overcame me, and I very well-nigh faulted, though
constraining my tongue to say, 'God's will be done; but I am far
unworthy of so great an honor.' The cowardly heart belied the
confident tongue, and fear of my own weakness affrighted me, by the
which I must needs have offended God, who helps such as trust  in
him. But I hope to be forgiven, inasmuch as it has ever been the wont
of my poor thoughts to picture evils beforehand in such a form as to
scare the soul, which, when it came to meet with them, was not shaken
from its constancy. When Conny was an infant I have stood nigh unto a
window with her in my arms, and of a sudden a terror would seize me
lest I should let her fall out of my hands, which yet clasped her; and
methinks 'twas somewhat of alike feeling which worked in me touching
the denying of my faith, which, God is my witness, is dearer to me
than aught upon earth."

"'Tis even so, sweet wife," quoth my father; "the edge of a too keen
conscience and a sensitive apprehension of defects visible to thine
own eyes and God's--never to mine, who was ever made happy by thy love
and virtue--have worn out the frame which enclosed them, and will rob
me of the dearest comfort of my life, if I must lose thee."

She looked upon him with so much sweetness, as if the approach of
death had brought her greater peace and joy than life had ever done,
and she replied: "Death comes to me as a compassionate angel, and I
fain would have thee welcome with me the kindly messenger who brings
so great relief to the poor heart thou hast so long cherished. Now,
thou art called to another task; and when the bruised, broken reed is
removed from thy side, thou wilt follow the summons which even now
sounds in thine ears."

"Ah," cried my father, clasping her hand, "art thou then already a
saint, sweet wife, that thou hast read the vow slowly registered as
yet in the depths of a riven heart?" Then his eyes turned on me; and
she, who seemed to know his thoughts, that sweet soul who had been so
silent in life, but was now spending her last breath in
never-to-be-forgotten words, answered the question contained in that
glance as if it had been framed in a set speech.

"Fear not for her," she said, laying her cheek close unto mine. "As
her days, so shall her strength be. Methinks Almighty God has given
her a spirit meet for the age in which her lot is cast. The early
training thou hast had, my wench; the lack of such memories as make
the present twofold bitter; the familiar mention round thy cradle of
such trials as do beset Catholics in these days, have nurtured thee a
stoutness of heart which will stand thee in good stead amidst the
rough waves of this troublesome world. The iron will not enter into
thy soul as it hath done into mine." Upon which she fell back
exhausted and for a while no sound was heard in or about the house
save the barking of our great dog.

My father had sent a messenger to a house where we had had notice days
before Father Ford was staying but with no certain knowledge he still
there, or any other priest in neighborhood, which occasioned him no
small disquietude, for my mother's strength seemed to be visibly
sinking which was what the doctor's words had led him to expect. The
man he sent returned not till the evening; in the afternoon Mr.
Genings and son came from Lichfield, which, when my mother heard, she
said God was gracious to permit her once more to see John, which was
Mr. Genings' name. They had been reared in the same house; and a
kindness had always continued betwixt them. For some time past he had
conformed to the times; and since his marriage with the daughter of a
French Huguenot who lived in London, and who was a lady of very
commendable character and manners, and strenuous in her own way of
thinking, he had left off practising his own religion in secret, which
for a while he used to do. When he came in, and saw death plainly writ
in his cousin's face, he was greatly moved, and knelt down by her side
with a very sorrowful countenance; upon which she straightly looked at
him, and said: "Cousin John, my  breath is very short, as my time
is also like to be. But one word I would fain say to thee before I
die. I was always well pleased with my religion, which was once thine
and that of all Christian people one hundred years ago; but I have
never been so well pleased with it as now, when I be about to meet my
Judge."

Mr. Genings' features worked with a strange passion, in which was more
of grief than displeasure, and grasping his son's shoulder, who was
likewise kneeling and weeping, he said: "You have wrought with this
boy, cousin, to make him a Catholic."

"As heaven is my witness," she answered, "not otherwise but by my
prayers."

"Hast thou seen a priest, cousin Constance?" he then asked: upon which
my mother not answering, the poor man burst into tears, and cried:
"Oh, cousin--cousin Constance, dost count me a spy, and at thy
death-bed?"

He seemed cut to the heart; whereupon she gave him her hand, and said
she hoped God would send her such ghostly assistance as she stood in
need of; and praying God to bless him and his wife and children, and
make them his faithful servants, so she might meet them all in
perpetual happiness, she spoke with such good cheer, and then bade him
and Edmund farewell with so pleasant a smile, as deceived them into
thinking her end not so near. And so, after a while, they took their
leave; upon which she composed herself for a while in silence,
occupying her thoughts in prayer; and toward evening, through God's
mercy, albeit the messenger had returned with the heavy news that
Father Ford had left the county some days back, it happened that Mr.
Watson, a secular priest who had lately arrived in England, and was on
his way to Chester, stopped at our house, whereunto Mr. Orton, whom he
had seen in prison at London, had directed him for his own convenience
on the road, and likewise our commodity, albeit little thinking how
great our need would be at that time of so opportune a guest, through
whose means that dear departing soul had the benefit of the last
sacraments with none to trouble or molest her, and such ghostly aid as
served to smooth her passage to what has proved, I doubt not, the
beginning of a happy eternity, if we may judge by such tokens as the
fervent acts of contrition she made both before and after shrift, such
as might have served to wash away ten thousand sins through his blood
who cleansed her, and her great and peaceable joy at receiving him
into her heart whom she soon trusted to behold. Her last words were
expressions of wonder and gratitude at God's singular mercy shown unto
her in the quiet manner of her death in the midst of such troublesome
times. And methinks, when the silver cord was loosed, and naught was
left of her on earth save the fair corpse which retained in death the
semblance it had had in life, that together with the natural grief
which found vent in tears, there remained in the hearts of such as
loved her a comfortable sense of the Divine goodness manifested in
this her peaceable removal.

How great the change which that day wrought in me may be judged of by
such who, at the age I had then reached to, have met with a like
affliction, coupled with a sense of duties to be fulfilled, such as
then fell to my lot, both as touching household cares, and in respect
to the cheering of my father in his solitary hours during the time we
did yet continue at Sherwood Hall, which was about a year. It waxed
very hard then for priests to make their way to the houses of
Catholics, as many now found it to their interest to inform against
them and such as harbored them; and mostly in our neighborhood,
wherein there were at that time no recusants of so great rank and note
that the sheriff would not be lief to meddle with them. We had
oftentimes had secret advices to beware of such and such of our
servants who might betray our hidden conveyances of safety; and my
father scarcely durst  be sharp with them when they offended by
slacking their duties, lest they might bring us into danger if they
revealed, upon any displeasure, priests having abided with us. Edmund
we saw no more since my mother's death; and after a while the news did
reach us that Mr. Genings had died of the small-pox, and left his wife
in so distressed a condition, against all expectation, owing to debts
he had incurred, that she had been constrained to sell her house and
furniture, and was living in a small lodging near unto the school
where Edmund continued his studies.

I noticed, as time went by, how heavily it weighed on my father's
heart to see so many Catholics die without the sacraments, or fall
away from their faith, for lack of priests to instruct them, like so
many sheep without a shepherd; and I guessed by words he let fall on
divers occasions, that the intent obscurely shadowed forth in his
discourse to my mother on her deathbed was ripening to a settled
purpose, and tending to a change in his state of life, which only his
love and care for me caused him to defer. What I did apprehend must
one day needs occur, was hastened about this time by a warning he did
receive that on an approaching day he would be apprehended and carried
by the sheriff before the council at Lichfield, to be examined
touching recusancy and harboring of priests; which was what he had
long expected. This message was, as it were, the signal he had been
waiting for, and an indication of God's will in his regard. He made
instant provision for the placing of his estate in the hands of a
friend of such singular honesty and so faithful a friendship toward
himself, though a Protestant, that he could wholly trust him. And next
he set himself to dispose of her whom he did term his most dear
earthly treasure, and his sole tie to this perishable world, which he
resolved to do by straightway sending her to London, unto his sister
Mistress Congleton, who had oftentimes offered, since his wife's
death, to take charge of this daughter, and to whom he now despatched
a messenger with a letter, wherein he wrote that the times were now so
troublesome, he must needs leave his home, and take advantage of the
sisterly favor she had willed to show him in the care of his sole
child, whom he now would forthwith send to London, commending her to
her good keeping, touching her safety and religious and virtuous
training, and that he should be more beholden to her than ever brother
was to sister, and, as long as he lived, as he was bound to do, pray
for her and her good husband. When this letter was gone, and order had
been taken for my journey, which was to be on horseback, and in the
charge of a maiden gentlewoman who had been staying some months in our
neighborhood, and was now about in two days to travel to London, it
seemed to me as if that which I had long expected and pictured unto
myself had now come upon me of a sudden, and in such wise as for the
first time to taste its bitterness. For I saw, without a doubt, that
this parting was but the forerunner of a change in my father's
condition as great and weighty as could well be thought of. But of
this howbeit our thoughts were full of it, no talk was ministered
between us. He said I should hear from him in London; and that he
should now travel into Lancashire and Cheshire, changing his name, and
often shifting his quarters whilst the present danger lasted. The day
which was to be the last to see us in the house wherein himself and
his fathers for many centuries back, and I his unworthy child, had
been born, was spent in such fashion as becometh those who suffer for
conscience sake, and that is with so much sorrow as must needs be felt
by a loving father and a dutiful child in a first and doubtful
parting, with so much regret as is natural in the abandonment of a
peaceful earthly home, wherein God had been served in a Catholic
manner for many generations and up to that time without
discontinuance, only of late years as it were by  night and
stealth, which was linked in their memories with sundry innocent joys
and pleasures, and such griefs as do hallow and endear the visible
scenes wherewith they be connected, but withal with a stoutness of
heart in him, and a youthful steadiness in her whom he had infected
with a like courage unto his own, which wrought in them so as to be of
good cheer and shed no more tears on so moving an occasion than the
debility of her nature and the tenderness of his paternal care
extorted from their eyes when he placed her on her horse, and the
bridle in the hand of the servant who was to accompany her to London.
Their last parting was a brief one, and such as I care not to be
minute in describing; for thinking upon it even now 'tis like to make
me weep; which I would not do whilst writing this history, in the
recital of which there should be more of constancy and thankful
rejoicing in God's great mercies, than of womanish softness in looking
back to past trials. So I will even break off at this point; and in
the next chapter relate the course of the journey which was begun on
that day.

CHAPTER VI.

I was to travel, as had been ordered for our mutual convenience and
protection, with Mistress Ward, a gentlewoman who resided some months
in our vicinity, and had heard mass in our chapel on such rare
occasions as of late had occurred, when a priest was at our house, and
we had commodity to give notice thereof to such as were Catholic in
the adjacent villages. We had with us on the journey two serving-men
and a waiting-woman, who had been my mother's chambermaid; and so
accompanied, we set out on our way, singing as we went, for greater
safety, the litanies of our Lady; to whom we did commend ourselves, as
my father had willed us to do, with many fervent prayers. The
gentlewoman to whose charge I was committed was a lady of singular
zeal and discretion, as well as great virtue; albeit, where religion
was not concerned, of an exceeding timid disposition; which, to my no
small diversion then, and great shame since, I took particular notice
of on this journey. Much talk had been ministered in the county
touching the number of rogues and vagabonds which infested the public
roads, of which sundry had been taken up and whipped during the last
months, in Lichfield, Stafford, and other places. I did perceive that
good Mistress Ward glanced uneasily as we rode along at every
foot-passenger or horseman that came in sight. Albeit my heart was
heavy, and may be also that when the affections are inclined to tears
they be likewise prone to laughter, I scarce could restrain from
smiling at these her fears and the manner of her showing them.

"Mistress Constance," she said at last, as we came to the foot of a
steep  ascent, "methinks you have a great heart concerning the
dangers which may befall us on the road, and that the sight of a
robber would move you not one whit more than that of an honest pedler
or hawker, such as I take those men to be who are mounting the hill in
advance of us. Doth it not seem to you that the box which they do
carry betokens them to be such worthy persons as I wish them to
prove?"

"Now surely," I answered, "good Mistress Ward, 'tis my opinion that
they be not such honest knaves as you do suppose. I perceive somewhat
I mislike in the shape of that box. What an if it be framed to entice
travellers to their ruin by such displays and shows of rare ribbons
and gewgaws as may prove the means of detaining them on the road, and
a-robbing of them in the end?"

Mistress Ward laughed, and commended my jesting, but was yet ill at
ease; and, as a mischievous and thoughtless creature, I did somewhat
excite and maintain her fears, in order to set her on asking questions
of our attendants touching the perils of the road, which led them to
relate such fearful stories of what they had seen of this sort as
served to increase her apprehensions, and greatly to divert me, who
had not the like fears; but rather entertained myself with hers, in a
manner such as I have been since ashamed to think of, who should have
kissed the ground on which she had trodden.

The fairness of the sky, the beauty of the fields and hedges, the
motion of the horse, stirred up my spirits; albeit my heart was at
moments so brimful of sorrow that I hated my tongue for its
wantonness, my eyes for their curious gazing, and my fancy for its
eager thoughts anent London and the new scenes I should behold there.
What mostly dwelt in them was the hope to see my Lady Surrey, of whom
I had had of late but brief and scanty tidings. The last letter I had
from her was writ at the time when the Duke of Norfolk was for the
second time thrown in the Tower, which she said was the greatest
sorrow that had befallen her since the death of my Lady Mounteagle,
which had happened at his grace's house a few months back, with all
the assistance she desired touching her religion. She had been urged,
my Lady Surrey said, by the duke some time before to do something
contrary to her faith; but though she much esteemed and respected him,
her answer was so round and resolute that he never mentioned the like
to her any more. Since then I had no more tidings of her, who was
dearer to me than our brief acquaintance and the slender tie of such
correspondence as had taken place between us might in most cases
warrant; but whether owing to some congeniality of mind, or to a
presentiment of future friendship, 'tis most certain my heart was
bound to her in an extraordinary manner; so that she was the continual
theme of my thoughts and mirror of my fancy.

The first night of our journey we lay at a small inn, which was held
by persons Mistress Ward was acquainted with, and by whom we were
entertained in a decent chamber, looking on unto a little garden, and
with as much comfort as the fashion of the place might afford, and
greater cleanliness than is often to be found in larger hostelries.
After supper, being somewhat weary with travel, but not yet inclined
for bed, and the evening fine, we sat out of doors in a bower of
eglantine near to some bee-hives, of which our hostess had a great
store; and methinks she took example from them, for we could see her
through the window as busy in the kitchen amongst her maids as the
queen-bee amidst her subjects. Mistress Ward took occasion to observe,
as we watched one of these little commonwealths of nature, that she
admired how they do live, laboring and swarming, and gathering honey
together so neat and finely, that they abhor nothing so much as
uncleanliness, drinking pure and clear water, even the dew-drops on
the leaves and flowers,  and delighting in sweet music, which if
they hear but once out of tune they fly out of sight.

"They live," she said, "under a law, and use great reverence to their
elders. Every one hath his office; some trimming the honey, another
framing hives, another the combs. When they go forth to work, they
mark the wind and the clouds, and whatsoever doth threaten their ruin;
and having gathered, out of every flower, honey, they return loaded in
their mouths and on their wings, whom they that tarried at home
receive readily, easing their backs of their great burthens with as
great care as can be thought of."

"Methinks," I answered, "that if it be as you say, Mistress Ward, the
bees be wiser than men."

At the which she smiled; but withal, sighing, made reply:

"One might have wished of late years rather to be a bee than such as
we see men sometimes to be. But, Mistress Constance, if they are
indeed so wise and so happy, 'tis that they are fixed in a condition
in which they must needs do the will of him who created them; and the
like wisdom and happiness in a far higher state we may ourselves
enjoy, if we do but choose of our free will to live by the same rule."

Then, after some further discourse on the habits of these little
citizens, I inquired of Mistress Ward if she were acquainted with mine
aunt, Mistress Congleton; at the which question she seemed surprised,
and said,

"Methought, my dear, you had known my condition in your aunt's family,
having been governess for many years to her three daughters, and only
by reason of my sister's sickness having stayed away from them for
some time."

At the which intelligence I greatly rejoiced; for the few hours we had
rode together, and our discourse that evening, had wrought in me a
liking for this lady as great as could arise in so short a period. But
I minded me then of my jests at her fears anent robbers, and also of
having been less dutiful in my manners than I should have been toward
one who was like to be set over me; and I likewise bethought me this
might be the cause that she had spoken of the bees having a reverence
for their elders, and doubted if I should crave her pardon for my want
of it. But, like many good thoughts which we give not entertainment to
by reason that they be irksome, I changed that intent for one which
had in it more of pleasantness, though less of virtue. Kissing her, I
said it was the best news I had heard for a long time that I should
live in the same house with her, and, as I hoped, under her care and
good government. And she answered, that she was well pleased with it
too, and would be a good friend to me as long as she lived. Then I
asked her touching my cousins, and of their sundry looks and
qualities. She answered, that the eldest, Kate, was very fair, and
said nothing further concerning her. Polly, she told me, was
marvellous witty and very pleasant, and could give a quick answer,
full of entertaining conceits.

"And is she, then, not fair?" I asked.

"Neither fair nor foul," was her reply; "but well favored enough, and
has an excellent head."

"Then," I cried, letting my words exceed good behavior, "I shall like
her better than the pretty fool her sister." For the which speech I
received the first, but not the last, chiding I ever had from Mistress
Ward for foolish talking and pert behavior, which was what I very well
deserved. When she had done speaking, I put my arm round her neck--for
it put me in mind of my mother to be so gravely yet so sweetly
corrected--and said, "Forgive me, dear Mistress Ward, for my saucy
words, and tell me somewhat I beseech you touching my youngest cousin,
who must be nearest to mine own age."

"She is no pearl to hang at one's ear," quoth she, "yet so gifted with
a well-disposed mind that in her grace  seems almost to supersede
nature. Muriel is deformed in body, and slow in speech; but in
behavior so honest, in prayer so devout, so noble in all her dealings,
that I never heard her speak anything that either concerned not good
instruction or godly mirth."

"And doth she not care to be ugly?" I asked.

"So little doth she value beauty," quoth Mistress Ward, "save in the
admiring of it in others, that I have known her to look into a glass
and smiling cry out, 'This face were fair if it were turned and every
feature the opposite to what it is;' and so jest pleasantly at her own
deformities, and would have others do so too. Oh, she is a rare
treasure of goodness and piety, and a true comfort to her friends!"

With suchlike pleasant discourse we whiled away the time until going
to rest; and next day were on horseback betimes on our way to
Coventry, where we were to lie that night at the house of Mr. Page, a
Catholic, albeit not openly, by reason of the times. This gentleman is
for his hospitality so much haunted, that no news stirs but comes to
his ears, and no gentlefolks pass his door but have a cheerful welcome
to his house; and 'tis said no music is so sweet to his ears as
deserved thanks. He vouchsafed much favor to us, and by his merry
speeches procured us much entertainment, provoking me to laughter
thereby more than I desired. He took us to see St. Mary's Hall, which
is a building which has not its equal for magnificence in any town I
have seen, no, not even in London. As we walked through the streets he
showed us a window in which was an inscription, set up in the reign of
King Richard the Second, which did run thus:

  "I, Luriche, for the love of thee
  Do make Coventry toll free."

And further on, the figure of Peeping Tom of Coventry, that false
knave I was so angry with when my father (ah, me! how sharp and sudden
was the pain which went through my heart as I called to mind the hours
I was wont to sit on his knee hearkening to the like tales) told me
the story of the Lady Godiva, who won mercy for her townsfolk by a
ride which none had dared to take but one so holy as herself. And, as
I said before, being then in a humor as prone to tears at one moment
as laughter at another, I fell to weeping for the noble lady who had
been in so sore a strait that she must needs have chosen between
complying with her savage lord's conditions or the misery of her poor
clients. When Mr. Page noticed my tears, which flowed partly for
myself and partly for one who had been long dead, but yet lived in the
hearts of these citizens, he sought to cheer me by the recital of the
fair and rare pageant which doth take place every year in Coventry,
and is of the most admirable beauty, and such as is not witnessed in
any other city in the world. He said I should not weep if I were to
see it, which he very much desired I should; and he hoped he might be
then alive, and ride by my side in the procession as my esquire; at
the which I smiled, for the good gentleman had a face and figure such
as would not grace a pageant, and methought I might be ashamed some
years hence to have him for my knight; and I said, "Good Mr. Page, be
the shutters closed on those days as when the Lady Godiva rode?" at
the which he laughed, and answered,

"No; and that for one Tom who then peeped, there were a thousand eyes
to gaze on the show as it passed."

"Then if it please you, sir, when the time comes," I said, "I would
like to look on and not to ride;" and he replied, it should be as I
pleased; and with such merry discourse we spent the time till supper
was ready. And afterward that good gentleman slackened not his efforts
in entertaining us; but related so many laughable stories, and took so
great notice of me, that I was moved to answer him sometimes in a
manner too forward for my years. He told us of the queen's visit to
that  city, and that the mayor, who had heard her grace's majesty
considered poets, and herself wrote verses, thought to commend himself
to her favor by such rare rhymes as these, wherewith he did greet her
at her entrance into the town:

  "We, the men of Coventry,
  Be pleased to see your majesty,
  Good Lord! how fair you be!"

at the which her highness made but an instant's pause, and then
straightway replied,

  "It pleaseth well her majesty
  To see the men of Coventry.
  Good Lord! what fools you be!"

"But," quoth Mr. Page, "the good man was so well pleased that the
Queen had answered his compliment, that 'tis said he has had her
majesty's speech framed, and hung up in his parlor."

"Pity 'tis not in the town-hall," I cried; and he laughing commended
me for sharpness; but Mistress Ward said:

"A sharp tongue in a woman's head was always a stinging weapon; but in
a queen's she prayed God it might never prove a murtherous one." Which
words somewhat checked our merriment, for that they savored of rebuke
to me for forward speech, and I ween awoke in Mr. Page thoughts of a
graver sort.

When we rode through the town next day, he went with us for the space
of some miles, and then bade us farewell with singular courtesy, and
professions of good will and proffered service if we should do him the
good at any time to remember his poor house; which we told him he had
given us sufficient reason not to forget. Toward evening, when the sun
was setting, we did see the towers of Warwick Castle; and I would fain
have discerned the one which doth bear the name of the great earl who
in a poor pilgrim's garb slew the giant Colbrand, and the cave 'neath
Guy's Cliff where he spent his last years in prayer. But the light was
declining as we rode into Leamington, where we lay that night, and
darkness hid from us that fair country, which methought was a meet
abode for such as would lead a hermit's life.

The next day we had the longest ride and the hottest sun we had yet
met with; and at noon we halted to rest in a thicket on the roadside,
which we made our pavilion, and from which our eyes did feast
themselves on a delightful prospect. There were heights on one side
garnished with stately oaks, and a meadow betwixt the road and the
hill enamelled with all sorts of pleasing flowers, and stored with
sheep, which were feeding in sober security. Mistress Ward, who was
greatly tired with the journey, fell asleep with her head on her hand,
and I pulled from my pocket a volume with which Mr. Page had gifted me
at parting, and which contained sundry tales anent Amadis de Gaul,
Huon de Bordeaux, Palmerin of England, and suchlike famous knights,
which he said, as I knew how to read, for which he greatly commended
my parents' care, I should entertain myself with on the road. So,
one-half sitting, one-half lying on the grass, I reclined in an easy
posture, with my head resting against the trunk of a tree, pleasing my
fancy with the writers' conceits; but ever and anon lifting my eyes to
the blue sky above my head, seen through the green branches, or fixed
them on the quaint patterns the quivering light drew on the grass, or
else on the valley refreshed with a silver river, and the fair hills
beyond it. And as I read of knights and ladies, and the many perils
which befel them, and passages of love betwixt them, which was new to
me, and what I had not met with in any of the books I had yet read, I
fell into a fit of musing, wondering if in London the folks I should
see would discourse in the same fashion, and the gentlemen have so
much bravery and the ladies so great beauty as those my book treated
of. And as I noticed it was chiefly on the high-roads they did come
into such dangerous adventures,  I gazed as far as I could
discern on the one I had in view before me with a foolish kind of
desire for some robbers to come and assail us, and then a great
nobleman or gallant esquire to ride up and fall on them, and to
deliver us from a great peril, and may be to be wounded in the
encounter, and I to bind up those wounds as from my mother's teaching
I knew how to do, and then give thanks to the noble gentleman in such
courteous and well-picked words as I could think of. But for all my
gazing I could naught perceive save a wain slowly ascending the hill
loaden with corn, midst clouds of dust, and some poorer sort of
people, who had been gleaning, and were carrying sheaves on their
heads. After an hour Mistress Ward awoke from her nap; and methinks I
had been dozing also, for when she called to me, and said it was time
to eat somewhat, and then get to horse, I cried out, "Good sir, I wait
your pleasure;" and rubbed my eyes to see her standing before me in
her riding-habit, and not the gentleman whose wounds I had been
tending.

That night we slept at Northampton, at Mistress Engerfield's house.
She was a cousin of Mr. Congleton's, and a lady whose sweet affability
and gravity would have extorted reverence from those that least loved
her. She was then very aged, and had been a nun in King Henry's reign;
and, since her convent had been despoiled, and the religious driven
out of it, having a large fortune of her own, which she inherited
about that time, she made her house a secret monastery, wherein God
was served in a religious manner by such persons as the circumstances
of the time, and not their own desires, had forced back into the
world, and who as yet had found no commodity for passing beyond seas
into countries where that manner of life is allowed. They dressed in
sober black, and kept stated hours of prayer, and went not abroad
unless necessity compelled them thereunto. When we went into the
dining-room, which I noticed Mistress Engerfield called the refectory,
grace was said in Latin; and whilst we did eat one lady read out loud
out of a book, which methinks was the life of a saint; but the fatigue
of the journey, and the darkness of the room, which was wainscotted
with oak-wood, so overpowered my senses with drowsiness, that before
the meal was ended I had fallen asleep, which was discovered, to my
great confusion, when the company rose from table. But that good lady,
in whose face was so great a kindliness that I never saw one to be
compared with it in that respect before or since, took me by the hand
and said, "Young eyes wax heavy for lack of rest, and travellers
should have repose. Come to thy chamber, sweet one, and, after
commending thyself by a brief prayer to him who sleepeth not nor
slumbereth, and to her who is the Mother of the motherless, get thee
to bed and take thy fill of the sleep thou hast so great need of, and
good angels will watch near thee."

Oh, how I did weep then, partly from fatigue, and partly from the dear
comfort her words did yield me, and, kneeling, asked her blessing, as
I had been wont to do of my dear parents. And she, whose countenance
was full of majesty, and withal of most attractive gentleness, which
made me deem her to be more than an ordinary woman, and a great
servant of God, as indeed she was, raised me from the ground, and
herself assisted to get me to bed, having first said my prayers by her
side, whose inflamed devotion, visible in her face, awakened in me a
greater fervor than I had hitherto experienced when performing this
duty. After I had slept heavily for the space of two or three hours I
awoke, as is the wont of those who be over-fatigued, and could not get
to sleep again, so that I heard the clock of a church strike twelve;
and as the last stroke fell on my ear, it was followed by a sound of
chanting, as if close unto my chamber, which resembled what on rare
occasions I had heard performed  by two or three persons in our
chapel; but here, with so full a concord of voices, and so great
melody and sweetness, that methought, being at that time of night and
every one abed, it must be the angels that were singing. But the next
day, questioning Mrs. Ward thereupon as of a strange thing which had
happened to me, she said, the ladies in that house rose always at
midnight, as they had been used to do in their several convents, to
sing God's praises and give him thanks, which was what they did vow to
do when they became religious. Before we departed, Mistress Engerfield
took me into her own room, which was small and plainly furnished, with
no other furniture in it but a bed, table, and kneeling-stool, and
against the wall a large crucifix, and she bestowed upon me a small
book in French, titled "The Spiritual Combat," which she said was a
treasury of pious riches, which she counselled me by frequent study to
make my own; and with many prayers and blessings she then bade us
God-speed, and took leave of us. Our last day's lodging on the road
was at Bedford; and there being no Catholics of note in that town wont
to entertain travellers, we halted at a quiet hostelry, which was kept
by very decent people, who showed us much civility; and the landlady,
after we had supped, the evening being rainy (for else she said we
might have walked through her means into the fair grounds of the Abbey
of Woburn, which she thanked God was not now a hive for drones, as it
had once been, but the seat of a worthy nobleman; which did more
credit to the town, and drew customers to the inn), brought us for our
entertainment a huge book, which she said had as much godliness in
each of its pages as might serve to convert as many Papists--God save
the mark!--as there were leaves in the volume. My cheeks glowed like
fire when she thus spoke, and I looked at Mistress Ward, wondering
what she would say. But she only bowed her head, and made pretence to
open the book, which, when the good woman was gone,

"Mistress Constance," quoth she, "this is a book writ by Mr. Fox, the
Duke of Norfolk's old schoolmaster, touching those he doth call
martyrs, who suffered for treason and for heresy in the days of Queen
Mary,--God rest her soul!--and if it ever did convert a Papist, I do not
say on his deathbed, but at any time of his life, except it was
greatly for his own interest, I be ready . . ."

"To be a martyr yourself, Mistress Ward," I cried, with my ever too
great proneness to let my tongue loose from restraint. The color rose
in her cheek, which was usually pale, and she said:

"Child, I was about to say, that in the case I have named, I be ready
to forego the hope of that which I thank God I be wise enough to
desire, though unworthy to obtain; but for which I do pray each day
that I live."

"Then would you not be afraid to die on a scaffold," I asked, "or to
be hanged, Mistress Ward?"

"Not in a good cause," she said.

But before the words were out of her mouth our landlady knocked at the
door, and said a gentleman was in the house with his two sons, who
asked to pay their compliments to Mistress Ward and the young lady
under her care. The name of this gentleman was Rookwood, of Rookwood
Hall in Suffolk, and Mistress Ward desired the landlady presently to
bring them in, for she had often met them at my aunt's house, as she
afterward told me, and had great contentment we should have such good
company under the same roof with us; whom when they came in she very
pleasantly received, and informed Mr. Rookwood of my name and
relationship to Mistress Congleton; which when he heard, he asked if I
was Mr. Henry Sherwood's daughter; which being certified of, he
saluted me, and said my father was at one time, when both were at
college, the closest friend that ever he had, and his esteem for him
was so great that he would be better  pleased with the news that
he should see him but once again, than if any one was to give him a
thousand pounds. I told him my father often spake of him with singular
affection, and that the letter I should write to him from London would
be more welcome than anything else could make it, by the mention of
the honor I had had of his notice. Mistress Ward then asked him what
was the news in London, from whence he had come that morning. He
answered that the news was not so good as he would wish it to be; for
that the queen's marriage with monsieur was broke off, and the King of
France greatly incensed at the favor M. de Montgomeri had experienced
at her hands; and that when he had demanded he should be given up, she
had answered that she did not see why she should be the King of
France's hangman; which was what his father had replied to her sister,
when she had made the like request anent some of her traitors who had
fled to France.

"Her majesty," he said, "was greatly incensed against the Bishop of
Ross, and had determined to put him to death; but that she was
dissuaded from it by her council; and that he prayed God Catholics
should not fare worse now that Ridolfi's plot had been discovered to
declare her highness illegitimate, and place the Queen of Scots on the
throne, which had moved her to greater anger than even the rising in
the north.

"And touching the Duke of Norfolk," Mistress Ward did ask, "what is
like to befal him?"

Mr. Rookwood said, "His grace had been removed from the Tower to his
own house on account of the plague; but it is reported the queen is
more urgent against him than ever, and will have his head in the end."

"If her majesty will not marry monsieur," Mistress Ward said, "it will
fare worse with recusants."

Upon which one of the young gentlemen cried out, "'Tis not her majesty
will not have him; but monsieur will not have her. My Lord of Oxford,
who is to marry my Lord Burleigh's daughter, said yesterday at the
tennis court, that that matter of monsieur is grieviously taken on her
grace's part; but that my lord is of opinion that where amity is so
needful, her majesty should stomach it; and so she doth pretend to
break it off herself by reason of her religious scruples."

At the which both brothers did laugh, but Mr. Rookwood bade them have
a care how they did suffer their tongues to wag anent her grace and
such matters as her grace's marriage; which although in the present
company might be without danger, was an ill habit, which in these
times was like to bring divers persons into troubles.

"Hang it!" cried the eldest of his sons, who was of a well-pleasing
favor and exceeding goodly figure; "recusants be always in trouble,
whatsoever they do; both taxed for silence and checked for speech, as
the play hath it. For good Mr. Weston was racked for silence last week
till he fainted, for that he would not reveal what he had heard in
confession from one concerned in Ridolfi's plot; and as to my Lord
Morley, he hath been examined before the council, touching his having
said he would go abroad poorly and would return in glory, which he did
speak concerning his health; but they would have it meant treason."

"Methinks, Master Basil," said his father, "thou art not like to be
taxed for silence; unless indeed on the rack, which the freedom of thy
speech may yet bring thee to, an thou hast not more care of thy words.
See now, thy brother keeps his lips closed in modest silence."

"Ay, as if butter would not melt in his mouth," cried Basil, laughing.

And I then noticed the countenance of the younger brother, who was
fairer and shorter by a head than Basil, and had the most beautiful
eyes imaginable, and a high forehead betokening thoughtfulness. Mr.
Rookwood drew his chair further from the table, and conversed in a low
voice with Mrs. Ward,  touching matters which I ween were of too
great import to be lightly treated of. I heard the name of Mr. Felton
mentioned in their discourse, and somewhat about the Pope's Bull, in
the affixing of which at the Bishop of London's gate he had lent a
hand; but my ears were not free to listen to them, for the young
gentlemen began to entertain me with divers accounts of the shows in
London; which, as they were some years older than myself, who was then
no better than a child, though tall of mine age, I took as a great
favor, and answered them in the best way I could. Basil spoke mostly
of the sights he had seen, and a fight between a lion and three dogs,
in which the dogs were victorious; and Hubert of books, which he said,
for his part, he had always a care to keep handsome and well bound.

"Ay," quoth his brother, "gilding them and stringing them like the
prayer-books of girls and gallants, which are carried to church but
for their outsides. I do hate a book with clasps, 'tis a trouble to
open them."

"A trouble thou dost seldom take," quoth Hubert. "Thou art ready
enough to unclasp the book of thy inward soul to whosoever will read
in it, and thy purse to whosoever begs or borrows of thee; but with
such clasps as shut in the various stores of thought which have issued
forth from men's minds thou dost not often meddle."

"Beshrew me if I do! The best prayer-book I take to be a pair of
beads; and the most entertaining reading, the 'Rules for the Hunting
of Deer;' which, by what I have heard from Sir Roger Ashlon, my Lord
Stafford hath grievously transgressed by assaulting Lord Lyttleton's
keepers in Teddesley Haye."

"What have you here?" Hubert asked, glancing at Mr. Fox's _Book of
Martyrs_, and another which the landlady had left on the table; _A
profitable New Year's Gift to all England._

"They are not mine," I answered, "nor such as I do care to read; but
this," I said, holding out Mr. Page's gift, which I had in my pocket,
"is a rare fund of entertainment and very full of pleasant tales."

"But," quoth he, "you should read the _Morte d'Arthur_ and the _Seven
Champions of Christendom."_

Which I said I should be glad to do when I had the good chance to meet
with them. He said, "My cousin Polly had a store of such pleasant
volumes, and would, no doubt, lend them to me. She has such a sharp
wit," he added, "that she is ever exercising it on herself or on
others; on herself by the bettering of her mind through reading; and
on others by such applications, of what she thus acquires as leaves
them no chance in discoursing with her but to yield to her superior
knowledge."

"Methinks," I said, "if that be her aim in reading, may be she will
not lend to others the means of sharpening their wits to encounter
hers."

At the which both of them laughed, and Basil said he hoped I might
prove a match for Mistress Polly, who carried herself too high, and
despised such as were slower of speech and less witty than herself.
"For my part," he cried, "I am of opinion that too much reading doth
lead to too much thinking, and too much thinking doth consume the
spirits; and often it falls out that while one thinks too much of his
doing, he leaves to do the effect of his thinking."

At the which Hubert smiled, and I bethought myself that if Basil was
no book-worm neither was he a fool. With such like discourse the
evening sped away, and Mr. Rookwood and his sons took their leave with
many civilities and pleasant speeches, such as gentlemen are wont to
address to ladies, and hopes expressed to meet again in London, and
good wishes for the safe ending of our journey thither.

Ah, me! 'tis passing strange to sit here and write in this little
chamber, after so many years, of that first meeting with those
brothers, Basil and Hubert; to call to mind how they did look and
speak, and of the pretty kind  of natural affection there was
betwixt them in their manner to each other. Ah, me! the old trick of
sighing is coming over me again, which I had well-nigh corrected
myself of, who have more reason to give thanks than to complain. Good
Lord, what fools you be! sighing heart and watering eyes! As great
fools, I ween, as the Mayor of Coventry, whose foolish rhymes do keep
running in my head.

The day following we came to London, which being, as it were, the
beginning of a new life to me, I will defer to speak of until I find
myself, after a night's rest and special prayers unto that end, less
heavy of heart than at present.

CHAPTER VII.

Upon a sultry evening which did follow an exceeding hot day, with no
clouds in the sky, and a great store of dust on the road, we entered
London, that great fair of the whole world, as some have titled it.
When for many years we do think of a place we have not seen, a picture
forms itself in the mind as distinct as if the eye had taken
cognizance thereof, and a singular curiosity attends the actual vision
of what the imagination hath so oft portrayed. On this occasion my
eyes were slow servants to my desires, which longed to embrace in the
compass of one glance the various objects they craved to behold.
Albeit the sky was cloudless above our heads, I feared it would rain
in London, by reason of a dark vapor which did hang over it; but
Mistress Ward informed me that this appearance was owing to the smoke
of sea-coal, of which so great a store is used in the houses that the
air is filled with it. "And do those in London always live in that
smoke?" I inquired, not greatly contented to think it should be so;
but she said Mr. Congleton's house was not in the city, but in a very
pleasant suburb outside of it, close unto Holborn Hill and Ely Place,
the bishop's palace, in whose garden the roses were so plentiful that
in June the air is perfumed with their odor. I troubled her not with
further questions at that time, being soon wholly taken up with the
new sights which then did meet us at every step. So great a number of
gay horsemen, and litters carried by footmen with fine liveries, and
coaches drawn by horses richly caparisoned and men running alongside
of them, and withal so many carts, that I was constrained to give over
the guiding of mine own horse by reason of the confusion which the
noise of wheels and men's cries and the rapid motion of so many
vehicles did cause in me, who had never rode before in so great a
crowd.

At about six o'clock of the afternoon we did reach Ely Place, and
passing by the bishop's palace stopped at the gate of Mr. Congleton's
house, which doth stand somewhat retired from the high-road, and the
first sight of which did greatly content me. It is built of fair and
strong stone, not affecting fineness, but honorably representing a
firm stateliness, for it was handsome without curiosity, and homely
without negligence. At the front of it was a well-arranged ground
cunningly set with trees, through which we rode to the foot of the
stairs, where we were met by a gentleman dressed in a coat of black
satin and a quilted waistcoat, with a white beaver in his hand, whom I
guessed to be my good uncle. He shook Mistress Ward by the hand,
saluted me on both cheeks, and vowed I was the precise counterpart of
my mother, who at my age, he said, was the prettiest Lancashire witch
that ever he had looked upon. He seemed to me not so old as I did
suppose him to be, lean of body and something low of stature, with a
long visage and a little sharp beard upon the chin of a brown color; a
countenance not very grave, and, for his age, wanting the authority of
gray hairs. He conducted me to mine aunt's chamber, who was seated in
an easy-chair near unto the window, with a cat upon her knees and
 a tambour-frame before her. She oped her arms and kissed me with
great affection, and I, sliding down, knelt at her feet and prayed her
to be a good mother to me, which was what my father had charged me to
do when I should come into her presence. She raised me with her hand
and made me sit on a stool beside her, and stroking my face gently,
gazed upon it, and said it put her in mind of both of my parents, for
that I had my father's brow and eyes, and my mother's mouth and
dimpling smiles.

"Mr. Congleton," she cried, "you do hear what this wench saith. I pray
you to bear it in mind, and how near in blood she is to me, so that
you may show her favor when I am gone, which may be sooner than you
think for."

I looked up into her face greatly concerned that she was like so soon
to die. Methought she had the semblance of one in good health and a
reasonable good color in her cheeks, and I perceived Mr. Congleton did
smile as he answered:

"I will show favor to thy pretty niece, good Moll, I promise thee, be
thou alive or be thou dead; but if the leeches are to be credited, who
do affirm thou hast the best strength and stomach of the twain, thou
art more like to bury me than I thee."

Upon which the good lady did sigh deeply and cast up her eyes and
lifted up her hands as one grievously injured, and he cried:

"Prithee, sweetheart, take it not amiss, for beshrew me if I be not
willing to grant thee to be as diseased as will pleasure thee, so that
thou wilt continue to eat and sleep as well as thou dost at the
present and so keep thyself from dying."

Upon which she said that she did admire how a man could have so much
cruelty as to jest and jeer at her ill-health, but that she would
spend no more of her breath upon him; and turning toward me she asked
a store of questions anent my father, whom for many years she had not
seen, and touching the manner of my mother's death, at the mention of
which my tears flowed afresh, which caused her also to weep; and
calling for her women she bade one of them bring her some hartshorn,
for that sorrow, she said, would occasion the vapors to rise in her
head, and the other she sent for to fetch her case of trinkets, for
that she would wear the ring her brother had presented her with some
years back, in which was a stone which doth cure melancholy. When the
case was brought she displayed before my eyes its rich contents, and
gifted me with a brooch set with turquoises, the wearing of which, she
said, doth often keep persons from falling into divers sorts of peril.
Then presently kissing me she said she felt fatigued, and would send
for her daughters to take charge of me; who, when they came, embraced
me with exceeding great affection, and carried me to what had been
their schoolroom and was now Mrs. Ward's chamber, who no longer was
their governess, they said, but as a friend abode in the house for to
go abroad with them, their mother being of so delicate a constitution
that she seldom left her room. Next to this chamber was a closet,
wherein Kate said I should lie, and as it is one I inhabited for a
long space of time, and the remembrance of which doth connect itself
with very many events which, as they did take place, I therein mused
on, and prayed or wept, or sometimes laughed over in solitude, I will
here set down what it was like when first I saw it.

The bed was in an alcove, closed in the day by fair curtains of
taffety; and the walls, which were in wood, had carvings above the
door and over the chimney of very dainty workmanship. The floor was
strewn with dried neatly-cut rushes, and in the projecting space where
the window was, a table was set, and two chairs with backs and seats
cunningly furnished with tapestry. In another recess betwixt the
alcove and the chimney stood a praying stool and a desk with a cushion
for a book to lie on. Ah, me! how often has my head  rested on
that cushion and my knees on that stool when my heart has been too
full to utter other prayers than a "God ha' mercy on me!" which at
such times broke as a cry from an overcharged breast. But, oh! what a
vain pleasure I did take on that first day in the bravery of this
little chamber, which Kate said was to be mine own! With what great
contentment I viewed each part of it, and looked out of the window on
the beds of flowers which did form a mosaical floor in the garden
around the house, in the midst of which was a fair pond whose shaking
crystal mirrored the shrubs which grew about it, and a thicket beyond,
which did appear to me a place for pleasantness and not unfit to
flatter solitariness, albeit so close unto the city. Beyond were the
bishop's grounds, and I could smell the scent of roses coming thence
as the wind blew. I could have stood there many hours gazing on this
new scene, but that my cousins brought me down to sup with them in the
garden, which was not fairer in natural ornaments than in artificial
inventions. The table was set in a small banqueting-house among
certain pleasant trees near to a pretty water-work; and now I had
leisure to scan my cousins' faces and compare what I did notice in
them with what Mistress Ward had said the first night of our journey.

Kate, the eldest of the three, was in sooth a very fair creature,
proportioned without any fault, and by nature endowed with the most
delightful colors; but there was a made countenance about her mouth,
between simpering and smiling, and somewhat in her bowed-down head
which seemed to languish with over-much idleness, and an inviting look
in her eyes as if they would over-persuade those she spoke to, which
betokened a lack of those nobler powers of the mind which are the
highest gifts of womanhood. Polly's face fault-finding wits might
scoff at as too little for the rest of the body, her features as not
so well proportioned as Kate's, and her skin somewhat browner than
doth consist with beauty; but in her eyes there was a cheerfulness as
if nature smiled in them, in her mouth so pretty a demureness, and in
her countenance such a spark of wit that, if it struck not with
admiration, filled with delight. No indifferent soul there was which,
if it resisted making her its princess, would not long to have such a
playfellow. Muriel, the youngest of these sisters, was deformed in
shape, sallow in hue, in speech, as Mistress Ward had said, slow; but
withal in her eyes, which were deep-set, there was lacking neither the
fire which betokens intelligence, nor the sweetness which commands
affection, and somewhat in her plain face which, though it may not be
called beauty, had some of its qualities. Methought it savored more of
heaven than earth. The ill-shaped body seemed but a case for a soul
the fairness of which did shine through the foul lineaments which
enclosed it. Albeit her lips opened but seldom that evening, only
twice or thrice, and they were common words she uttered and fraught
with hesitation, my heart did more incline toward her than to the
pretty Kate or the lively Polly.

An hour before we retired to rest, Mr. Congleton came into the garden,
and brought with him Mr. Swithin Wells and Mr. Bryan Lacy, two
gentlemen who lived also in Holborn; the latter of which, Polly
whispered in mine ear, was her sister Kate's suitor. Talk was
ministered among them touching the queen's marriage with Monsieur;
which, as Mr. Rookwood had said, was broken off; but that day they had
heard that M. de la Motte had proposed to her majesty the Due
d'Alençon, who would be more complying, he promised, touching religion
than his brother. She inquired of the prince's age, and of his height;
to the which he did answer, "About your majesty's own height." But her
highness would not be so put off, and willed the ambassador to write
for the precise measurement of the prince's stature.

"She will never marry," quoth Mr. Wells, "but only amuse the French
 court and her council with further negotiations touching this
new suitor, as heretofore anent the archduke and Monsieur. But I would
to God her majesty were well married, and to a Catholic prince; which
would do us more good than anything else which can be thought of."

"What news did you hear, sir, of Mr. Felton?" Mistress Ward asked.
Upon which their countenances fell; and one of them answered that that
gentleman had been racked the day before, but steadily refused, though
in the extremity of torture, to name his accomplices; and would give
her majesty no title but that of the Pretender; which they said was
greatly to be regretted, and what no other Catholic had done. But when
his sentence was read to him, for that he was to die on Friday, he
drew from his finger a ring, which had diamonds in it, and was worth
four hundred pounds, and requested the Earl of Sussex to give it to
the queen, in token that he bore her no ill-will or malice, but rather
the contrary.

Mr. Wells said he was a gentleman of very great heart and noble
disposition, but for his part he would as lief this ring had been
sold, and the money bestowed on the poorer sort of prisoners in
Newgate, than see it grace her majesty's finger; who would thus play
the hangman's part, who inherits the spoils of such as he doth put to
death. But the others affirmed it was done in a Christian manner, and
so greatly to be commended; and that Mr. Felton, albeit he was
somewhat rash in his actions, and by some titled Don Magnifico, by
reason of a certain bravery in his style of dress and fashion of
speaking, which smacked of Monsieur Traveller, was a right worthy
gentleman, and his death a blow to his friends, amongst whom there
were some, nevertheless, to be found who did blame him for the act
which had brought him into trouble. Mistress Ward cried, that such as
fell into trouble, be the cause ever so good, did always find those
who would blame them. Mr. Lacy said, one should not cast himself into
danger wilfully, but when occasion offered take it with patience.
Polly replied, that some were so prudent, occasions never came to
them. And then those two fell to disputing, in a merry but withal
sharp fashion. As he did pick his words, and used new-fangled terms,
and she spoke roundly and to the point, methinks she was the nimblest
in this encounter of wit.

Meanwhile Mr. Wells asked Mr. Congleton if he had had news from the
north, where much blood was spilt since the rising; and he apprehended
that his kinsmen in Richmondshire should suffer under the last orders
sent to Sir George Bowes by my Lord Sussex. But Mr. Congleton did
minister to him this comfort, that if they were noted wealthy, and had
freeholds, it was the queen's special commandment they should not be
executed, but two hundred of the commoner sort to lose their lives in
each town; which was about one to each five.

"But none of note?" quoth Mr. Wells.

"None which can pay the worth of their heads," Mr. Congleton replied.

"And who, then, doth price them?" asked Kate, in a languishing voice.

"Nay, sister," quoth Polly, "I warrant thee they do price themselves;
for he that will not pay well for his head must needs opine he hath a
worthless one."

Upon which Mr. Lacy said to Kate, "One hundred angels would not pay
for thine, sweet Kate."

"Then she must needs be an archangel, sir," quoth Polly, "if she be of
greater worth than one hundred angels."

"Ah, me!" cried Kate, very earnestly, "I would I had but half one
hundred gold-pieces to buy me a gown with!"

"Hast thou not gowns enough, wench?" asked her father. "Methought thou
wert indifferently well provided in that respect."

"Ah, but I would have, sir, such a  velvet suit as I did see some
weeks back at the Italian house in Cheapside, where the ladies of the
court do buy their vestures. It had a border the daintiest I ever
beheld, all powdered with gold and pearls. Ruffiano said it was the
rarest suit he had ever made; and he is the Queen of France's tailor,
which Sir Nicholas Throgmorton did secretly entice away, by the
queen's desire, from that court to her own."

"And what fair nymph owns this rare suit, sweetest Kate?" Mr. Lacy
asked. "I'll warrant none so fair that it should become her, or rather
that she should become it, more than her who doth covet it."

"I know not if she be fair or foul," quoth Kate, "but she is the Lady
Mary Howard, one of the maids of honor of her majesty, and so may wear
what pleaseth her."

"By that token of the gold and pearls," cried Mr. Wells, "I doubt not
but 'tis the very suit anent which the court have been wagging their
tongues for the last week; and if it be so, indeed, Mistress Kate, you
have no need to envy the poor lady that doth own it."

Kate protested she had not envied her, and taxed Mr. Wells with
unkindness that he did charge her with it; and for all he could say
would not be pacified, but kept casting up her eyes, and the tears
streaming down her lovely cheeks. Upon which Mr. Lacy cried:

"Sweet one, thou hast indeed no cause to envy her or any one else,
howsoever rare or dainty their suits may be; for thy teeth are more
beauteous than pearls, and thine hair more bright than the purest
gold, and thine eyes more black and soft than the finest velvet, which
nature so made that we might bear their wonderful shining, which else
had dazzled us:" and so went on till her weeping was stayed, and then
Mr. Wells said:

"The lady who owned that rich suit, which I did falsely and
feloniously advance Mistress Kate did envy, had not great or long
comfort in its possession; for it is very well known at court, and
hence bruited in the city, what passed at Richmond last week
concerning this rare vesture. It pleased not the queen, who thought it
did exceed her own. And one day her majesty did send privately for it,
and put it on herself, and came forth into the chamber among the
ladies. The kirtle and border was far too short for her majesty's
height, and she asked every one how they liked her new fancied suit.
At length she asked the owner herself if it was not made too short and
ill-becoming; which the poor lady did presently consent to. Upon which
her highness cried: 'Why, then, if it become me not as being too
short, I am minded it shall never become thee as being too fine, so it
fitteth neither well.' This sharp rebuke so abashed the poor lady that
she never adorned her herewith any more."

"Ah," cried Mr. Congleton, laughing, "her majesty's bishops do come by
reproofs as well as her maids. Have you heard how one Sunday, last
April, my Lord of London preached to the queen's majesty, and seemed
to touch on the vanity of decking the body too finely. Her grace told
the ladies after the sermon, that if the bishop held more discourse on
such matters she would fit him for heaven, but he should walk thither
without a staff and leave his mantle behind him."

"Nay," quoth Mr. Wells, "but if she makes such as be Catholics taste
of the sharpness of the rack, and the edge of the axe, she doth then
treat those of her own way of thinking with the edge of her wit and
the sharpness of her tongue. 'Tis reported, Mr. Congleton, I know not
with what truth, that a near neighbor of yours has been served with a
letter, by which a new sheep is let into his pastures."

"What," cried Polly, "is Pecora Campi to roam amidst the roses, and go
in and out at his pleasure through the bishop's gate? The 'sweet lids'
have then danced away a large slice of the Church's acres. But what, I
pray you, sir, did her majesty write?"

"Even this," quoth her father, "I  had it from Sir Robert
Arundell: 'Proud Prelate! you know what you were before I made you,
and what you are now. If you do not immediately comply with my
request, I will unfrock you, by God!--ELIZABETH R.'"

"Our good neighbor," saith Polly, "must show a like patience with Job,
and cry out touching his bishopric, 'The queen did give it; the queen
doth take it away; the will of the queen be done.'"

"He is like to be encroached upon yet further by yon cunning Sir
Christopher," Mr. Wells said; "I'll warrant Ely Place will soon be
Hatton Garden."

"Well, for a neighbor," answered Polly, "I'd as soon have the queen's
lids as her hedge-bishop, and her sheep as her shepherd. 'Tis not all
for love of her sweet dancer her majesty doth despoil him. She never,
'tis said, hath forgiven him that he did remonstrate with her for
keeping a crucifix and lighted tapers in her own chapel, and that her
fool, set on by such as were of the same mind with him, did one day
put them out."

In suchlike talk the time was spent; and when the gentlemen had taken
leave, we retired to rest; and being greatly tired, I slept heavily,
and had many quaint dreams, in which past scenes and present objects
were curiously blended with the tales I had read on the journey, and
the discourse I had heard that evening. When I awoke in the morning,
my thoughts first flew to my father, of whom I had a very passionate
desire to receive tidings. When my waiting-woman entered, with a
letter in her hand, I foolishly did fancy it came from him, which
could scarcely be, so soon after our coming to town; but I quickly
discerned, by the rose-colored string which it was bounden with, and
then the handwriting, that it was not from him, but from her whom,
next to him, I most desired to hear from, to wit, the Countess of
Surrey. That sweet lady wrote that she had an exceeding great desire
to see me, and would be more beholden to my aunt than she could well
express, if she would confer on her so great a benefit as to permit me
to spend the day with her at the Charter House, and she would send her
coach for to convey me there, which should never have done her so much
good pleasure before as in that service. And more to that effect, with
many kind and gracious words touching our previous meeting and
correspondence.

When I was dressed, I took her ladyship's letter to Mrs. Ward, who was
pleased to say she would herself ask permission for me to wait upon
that noble lady; but that her ladyship might not be at the charge of
sending for me, she would herself, if my aunt gave her license, carry
me to the Charter House, for that she was to spend some hours that day
with friends in the city, and "it would greatly content her," she
added, "to further the expressed wish of the young countess, whose
grandmother, Lady Mounteagle, and so many of her kinsfolk, were
Catholics, or at the least, good friends to such as were so." My aunt
did give leave for me to go, as she mostly did to whatsoever Mrs. Ward
proposed, whom she trusted entirely, with a singular great affection,
only bidding her to pray that she might not die in her absence, for
that she feared some peaches she had eaten the day before had
disordered her, and that she had heard of one who had died of the
plague some weeks before in the Tower. Mrs. Ward exhorted her to be of
good cheer, and to comfort herself both ways, for that the air of
Holborn was so good, the plague was not likely to come into it, and
that the kernels of peaches being medicinal, would rather prove an
antidote to pestilence than an occasion to it; and left her better
satisfied, insomuch that she sent for another dish of peaches for to
secure the benefit. Before I left, Kate bade me note the fashion of
the suit my Lady Surrey did wear, and if she had on her own hair, and
if she dyed it, and if she covered her bosom, or wore plaits, and if
her stomacher was straight  and broad, or formed a long waist,
extending downward, and many more points touching her attire, which I
cannot now call to mind. As I went through the hall to the steps where
Mistress Ward was already standing, Muriel came hurrying toward me,
with a faint color coming and going in her sallow cheek, and twice she
tried to speak and failed. But when I kissed her she put her lips
close to my ear and whispered,

"Sweet little cousin, there be in London prisoners in a very bad
plight, in filthy dungeons, because of their religion. The noble young
Lady Surrey hath a tender heart toward such if she do but hear of
them. Prithee, sweet coz, move her to send them relief in food, money,
or clothing."

Then Mistress Ward called to me to hasten, and I ran away, but Muriel
stood at the window, and as we passed she kissed her hand, in which
was a gold angel, which my father had gifted me with at parting.

"Mrs. Ward," I said, as we went along, "my cousin Muriel is not fair,
and yet her face doth commend itself to my fancy more than many fair
ones I have seen; it is so kindly."

"I have even from her infancy loved her," she answered, "and thus much
I will say of her, that many have been titled saints who had not,
methinks, more virtue than I have noticed in Muriel."

"Doth she herself visit the prisoners she spoke of?"

"She and I do visit them and carry them relief when we can by any
means prevail with the gaolers from compassion or through bribing of
them to admit us. But it is not always convenient to let this be
known, not even at home, but I ween, Constance, as thou wilt have me
to call thee so, that Muriel saw in thee--for she has a wonderful
penetrative spirit--that thou dost know when to speak and when to keep
silence."

"And may I go with you to the prisons?" I asked with a hot feeling in
my heart, which I had not felt since I had left home.

"Thou art far too young," she answered. "But I will tell thee what
thou canst do. Thou mayst work and beg for these good men, and not be
ashamed of so doing. None may visit them who have not made up their
minds to die, if they should be denounced for their charity."

"But Muriel is young," I answered. "Hath she so resolved?"

"Muriel is young," was the reply; "but she is one in whom wisdom and
holiness have forestalled age. For two years that she hath been my
companion on such occasions, she has each day prepared for martyrdom
by such devout exercises as strengthen the soul at the approach of
death."

"And Kate and Polly," I asked, "are they privy to the dangers that you
do run, and have they no like ambition?"

"Rather the contrary," she answered; "but neither they nor any one
else in the house is fully acquainted with these secret errands save
Mr. Congleton, and he did for a long time refuse his daughter license
to go with me, until at last, by prayers and tears, she won him over
to suffer it. But he will never permit thee to do the like, for that
thy father hath intrusted thee to his care for greater safety in these
troublesome times."

"Pish!" I cried pettishly, "safety has a dull mean sound in it which I
mislike. I would I were mine own mistress."

"Wish no such thing, Constance Sherwood," was her grave answer.
"Wilfulness was never nurse to virtue, but rather her foe; nor ever
did a rebellious spirit prove the herald of true greatness. And now,
mark my words. Almighty God hath given thee a friend far above thee in
rank, and I doubt not in merit also, but whose faith, if report saith
true, doth run great dangers, and with few to advise her in these evil
days in which we live. Peradventure he hath appointed thee a work in a
palace as weighty as that of  others in a dungeon. Set thyself to
it with thy whole heart, and such prayers as draw down blessings from
above. There be great need in these times to bear in remembrance what
the Lord says, that he will be ashamed in heaven before his angels of
such as be ashamed of him on earth. And many there are, I greatly
fear, who though they be Catholics, do assist the heretics by their
cowardice to suppress the true religion in this land; and I pray to
God this may never be our case. Yet I would not have thee to be rash
in speech, using harsh words, or needlessly rebuking others, which
would not become thy age, or be fitting and modest in one of inferior
rank, but only where faith and conscience be in question not to be
afraid to speak. And now God bless thee, who should be an Esther in
this house, wherein so many true confessors of Christ some years ago
surrendered their lives in great misery and torments, rather than
yield up their faith."

This she said as we stopped at the gate of the Charter House, where
one of the serving-men of the Countess of Surrey was waiting to
conduct me to her lodgings, having had orders to that effect. She left
me in his charge, and I followed him across the square, and through
the cloisters and passages which led to the gallery, where my lady's
chamber was situated. My heart fluttered like a frightened caged bird
during that walk, for there was a solemnity about the place such as I
had not been used to, and which filled me with apprehension lest I
should be wanting in due respect where so much state was carried on.
But when the door was opened at one end of the gallery, and my sweet
lady ran out to meet me with a cry of joy, the silly heart, like a
caught bird, nestled in her embrace, and my lips joined themselves to
hers in a fond manner, as if not willing to part again, but by fervent
kisses supplying the place of words, which were lacking, to express
the great mutual joy of that meeting, until at last my lady raised her
head, and still holding my hands, cried out as she gazed on my face:

"You are more welcome, sweet one, than my poor words can say. I pray
you, doff your hat and mantle, and come and sit by me, for 'tis a
weary while since we have met, and those are gone from us who loved us
then, and for their sakes we must needs love one another dearly, if
our hearts did not of themselves move us unto it, which indeed they
do, if I may judge of yours, Mistress Constance, by mine own."

Then we kissed again, and she passed her arm around my neck with so
many graceful endearments, in which were blended girlish simplicity
and a youthful yet matronly dignity, that I felt that day the love
which, methinks, up to that time had had its seat mostly in the fancy,
take such root in mine heart, that it never lost its hold on it.

At the first our tongues were somewhat tied by joy and lack of
knowledge how to begin to converse on the many subjects whereon both
desired to hear the other speak, and the disuse of such intercourse as
maketh it easy to discourse on what the heart is full of. Howsoever,
Lady Surrey questioned me touching my father, and what had befallen us
since my mother's death. I told her that he had left his home, and
sent me to London by reason of the present troubles; but without
mention of what I did apprehend to be his further intent. And she then
said that the concern she was in anent her good father the Duke of
Norfolk did cause her to pity those who were also in trouble.

"But his grace," I answered, "is, I hope, in safety at present, and in
his own house?"

"In this house, indeed," she did reply, "but a strait prisoner in Sir
Henry Neville's custody, and not suffered to see his friends without
her majesty's especial permission. He did send for his son and me last
evening, having obtained leave for to see us, which he had not done
since the day my lord and I were married again, by  his order,
from the Tower, out of fear lest our first marriage, being made before
Phil was quite twelve years old, it should have been annulled by order
of the queen, or by some other means. It grieved me much to notice how
gray his hair had grown, and that his eyes lacked their wonted fire.
When we entered he was sitting in a chair, leaning backward, with his
head almost over the back of it, looking at a candle which burnt
before him, and a letter in his hand. He smiled when he saw us, and
said the greatest comfort he had in the world was that we were now so
joined together that nothing could ever part us. You see, Mistress
Constance," she said, with a pretty blush and smile, "I now do wear my
wedding-ring below the middle joint."

"And do you live alone with my lord now in these grand chambers?" I
said, looking round at the walls, which were hung with rare tapestry
and fine pictures.

"Bess is with me," she answered, "and so will remain I hope until she
is fourteen, when she will be married to my Lord William, my lord's
brother. Our Moll is likewise here, and was to have wedded my Lord
Thomas when she did grow up; but she is not like to live, the
physicians do say."

The sweet lady's eyes filled with tears, but, as if unwilling to
entertain me with her griefs, she quickly changed discourse, and spoke
of my coming unto London, and inquired if my aunt's house were a
pleasant one, and if she was like to prove a good kinswoman to me. I
told her how comfortable had been the manner of my reception, and of
my cousins' goodness to me; at the which she did express great
contentment, and would not be satisfied until I had described each of
them in turn, and what good looks or what good qualities they had;
which I could the more easily do that the first could be discerned
even at first sight, and touching the last, I had warrant from Mrs.
Ward's commendations, which had more weight than my own speerings,
even if I had been a year and not solely a day in their company. She
was vastly taken with what I related to her of Muriel, and that she
did visit and relieve poor persons and prisoners, and wished she had
liberty to do the like; and with a lovely blush and a modest
confusion, as of one who doth not willingly disclose her good deeds,
she told me all the time she could spare she did employ in making
clothes for such as she could hear of, and also salves and cordials
(such as she had learnt to compound from her dear grandmother), and
privately sent them by her waiting-maid, who was a young gentlewoman
of good family, who had lost her parents, and was most excellently
endowed with virtue and piety.

"Come to my closet, Miss Constance," she said, "and I doubt not but we
shall find Milicent at work, if so be she has not gone abroad to-day
on some such errand of charity." Upon which she led the way through a
second chamber, still more richly fitted up than the first, into a
smaller one, wherein, when she opened the door, I saw a pretty living
picture of two girls at a table, busily engaged with a store of
bottles and herbs and ointments, which were strewn upon it in great
abundance. One of them was a young maid, who was measuring drops into
a phial, with a look so attentive upon it as if that little bottle had
been the circle of her thoughts. She was very fair and slim, and had a
delicate appearance, which minded me of a snow-drop; and indeed, by
what my lady said, she was a floweret which had blossomed amidst the
frosts and cold winds of adversity. By her side was the most gleesome
wench, of not more than eight years, I ever did set eyes on; of a
fatness that at her age was comely, and a face so full of waggery and
saucy mirth, that but to look upon it drove away melancholy. She was
compounding in a cup a store of various liquids, which she said did
cure shrewishness, and said she would pour some into her nurse's
night-draught, to mend her of that disorder.


"Ah, Nan," she cried, as we entered, "I'll help thee to a taste of
this rare medicine, for methinks thou art somewhat shrewish also and
not so conformable to thy husband's will, my lady, as a good wife
should be. By that same token that my lord willed to take me behind
him on his horse a gay ride round the square, and, forsooth, because I
had not learnt my lesson, thou didst shut me up to die of melancholy.
Ah, me! My mother had a maid called Barbara--

  'Sing willow, willow, willow.'

That is one of Phil's favorite songs. Milicent, methinks I will call
thee Barbara, and thou shalt sing with me--

  'The poor soul sat sighing by a sycamore tree,--
  Sing all a green willow;
  Her hand on her bosom,'--

There, put thy hand in that fashion--

  'her head on her knee,'--

Nay, prithee, thou must bend thy head lower--

  'Sing willow, willow, willow.'"

"My lady," said the gentlewoman, smiling, "I promise you I dare not
take upon me to fulfil my tasks with credit to myself or your
ladyship, if Mistress Bess hath the run of this room, and doth prepare
cordials after her fashion from your ladyship's stores."

"Ah, Bess!" quoth my lady, shaking her finger at the saucy one; "I'll
deliver thee up to Mrs. Fawcett, who will give thee a taste of the
place of correction; and Phil is not here to-day to beg thee off. And
now, good Milicent, prithee make a bundle of such clothes as we have
in hand, and such comforts as be suitable to such as are sick and in
prison, for this sweet young lady hath need of them for some who be in
that sad plight."

"And, my lady," quoth the gentlewoman, "I would fain learn how to
dress wounds when the flesh is galled; for I do sometimes meet with
poor men who do suffer in that way, and would relieve them if I
could."

"I know," I cried, "of a rare ointment my mother used to make for that
sort of hurt; and if my Lady Surrey gives me license, I will remember
you, mistress, with the receipt of it."

My lady, with a kindly smile and expressed thanks, assented; and when
we left the closet, I greatly commending the young gentlewoman's
beauty, she said that beauty in her was the worst half of her merit.

"But, Mistress Constance," she said, when we had returned to the
saloon, "I may not send her to such poor men, and above all, priests,
who be in prison for their faith, as I hear, to my great sorrow, there
be so many at this time, and who suffer great hardships, more than can
be easily believed, for she is Protestant, and not through conforming
to the times, but so settled in her way of thinking, and earnest
therein, having been brought up to it, that she would not so much as
open a Catholic book or listen to a word in defence of papists."

"But how, then, doth she serve a Catholic lady?" I asked, with a
beating heart; and oh, with what a sad one did hear her answer, for it
was as follows:

"Dear Constance, I must needs obey those who have a right to command
me, such as his grace my good father and my husband; and they are both
very urgent and resolved that by all means I shall conform to the
times. So I do go to Protestant service; but I use at home my prayers,
as my grandmother did teach me; and Phil says them too, when I can get
him to say any."

"Then you do not hear mass," I said, sorrowfully, "or confess your
sins to a priest?"

"No," she answered, in a sad manner; "I once asked my Lady Lumley, who
is a good Catholic, if she could procure I should see a priest with
that intent at Arundel House; but she turned pale as a sheet, and said
that to get any one to be reconciled who had  once conformed to
the Protestant religion, was to run danger of death; and albeit for
her own part she would not refuse to die for so good a cause, she
dared not bring her father's gray hairs to the block."

As we were holding this discourse--and she so intent in speaking, and
I in listening, that we had not heard the door open--Lord Surrey
suddenly stood before us. His height made him more than a boy, and his
face would not allow him a man; for the rest, he was
well-proportioned, and did all things with so notable a grace, that
nature had stamped him with the mark of true nobility. He made a
slight obeisance to me, and I noticed that his cheek was flushed, and
that he grasped the handle of his sword with an anger which took not
away the sweetness of his countenance, but gave it an amiable sort of
fierceness. Then, as if unable to restrain himself, he burst forth,

"Nan, an order is come for his grace to be forthwith removed to the
Tower, and I'll warrant that was the cause he was suffered to see us
yesterday. God send it prove not a final parting!"

"Is his grace gone?" cried the countess, starting to her feet, and
clasping her hands with a sorrowful gesture.

"He goes even now," answered the earl; and both went to the window,
whence they could see the coach in which the duke was for the third
time carried from his home to the last lodging he was to have on this
earth. Oh, what a sorrowful sight it was for those young eyes which
gazed on the sad removal of the sole parent both had left! How her
tears did flow silently like a stream from a deep fount, and his with
wild bursts of grief, like the gushings of a torrent over rocks! His
head fell on her shoulder, and as she threw her arms round him, her
tears wetted his hair. Methought then that in the pensive tenderness
of her downcast face there was somewhat of motherly as well as of
wifely affection. She put her arm in his, and led him from the room;
and I remained alone for a short time entertaining myself with sad
thoughts anent these two young noble creatures, who at so early an age
had become acquainted with so much sorrow, and hoping that the
darkness which did beset the morning of their lives might prove but as
the clouds which at times deface the sky before a brilliant sunshine
doth take possession of it, and dislodge these deceitful harbingers,
which do but heighten in the end by contrast the resplendency they did
threaten to obscure.


CHAPTER VIII.

After I had been musing a little while, Mistress Bess ran into the
room, and cried to some one behind her:

"Nan's friend is here, and she is mine too, for we all played in a
garden with her when I was little. Prithee, come and see her." Then
turning to me, but yet holding the handle of the door, she said: "Will
is so unmannerly, I be ashamed of him. He will not so much as show
himself."

"Then, prithee, come alone," I answered. Upon which she came and sat
on my knee, with her arm round my neck, and whispered in mine ear:

"Moll is very sick to-day; will you not see her, Mistress Sherwood?"

"Yea, if so be I have license," I answered; and she, taking me by the
hand, offered to lead me up the stairs to the room where she lay. I,
following her, came to the door of the chamber, but would not enter
till Bess fetched the nurse, who was the same had been at Sherwood
Hall, and who, knowing my name, was glad to see me, and with a curtsey
invited me in. White as a lily was the little face resting on a
pillow, with its blue eyes half shut, and a store of golden hair about
it, which minded me of the glories round angels' heads in my mother's
missal.

"Sweet lamb!" quoth the nurse, as I stooped to kiss the pale forehead.
"She be too good for this world. Ofttimes she doth babble in her sleep
of heaven, and angels, and saints, and a wreath of white roses
wherewith a bright lady will crown her."

"Kiss my lips," the sick child softly whispered, as I bent over her
bed. Which when I did, she asked, "What is your name? I mind your
face." When I answered, "Constance Sherwood," she smiled, as if
remembering where we had met. "I heard my grandam calling me last
night," she said; "I be going to her soon." Then a fit of pain came
on, and I had to leave her. She did go from this world a few days
after; and the nurse then told me her last words had been "Jesu!
Mary!"

That day I did converse again alone with my Lady Surrey after dinner,
and walked in the garden; and when we came in, before I left, she gave
me a purse with some gold pieces in it, which the earl her husband
willed to bestow on Catholics in prison for their faith. For she said
he had so tender and compassionate a spirit, that if he did but hear
of one in distress he would never rest until he had relieved him; and
out of the affection he had for Mr. Martin, who was one while his
tutor, he was favorably inclined toward Catholics, albeit himself
resolved to conform to the queen's religion. When Mistress Ward came
for me, the countess would have her shown into her chamber, and would
not be contented without she ordered her coach to carry us back to
Holborn, that we might take with us the clothes and cordials which she
did bestow upon us for our poor clients. She begged Mrs. Ward's
prayers for his grace, that he might soon be set at liberty; for she
said in a pretty manner, "It must needs be that Almighty God takes
most heed of the prayers of  such as visit him in his affliction
in the person of poor prisoners; and she hoped one day to be free to
do so herself." Then she questioned of the wants of those Mistress
Ward had at that time knowledge of; and when she heard in what sore
plight they stood, it did move her to so great compassion, that she
declared it would be now one of her chiefest cares and pleasures in
life to provide conveniences for them. And she besought Mistress Ward
to be a good friend to her with mine aunt, and procure her to permit
of my frequent visits to Howard House, as the Charter House is now
often called: which would be the greatest good she could do her; and
that she would be most glad also if she herself would likewise favor
her sometimes with her company; which, "if it be not for mine own
sake, Mistress Ward," she sweetly said, "let it be for his sake who,
in the person of his afflicted priests, doth need assistance."

When we reached home, we hid what we had brought under our mantles,
and then in Mistress Ward's chamber, where Muriel followed us. When
the door was shut we displayed these jewelled stores before her
pleased eyes, which did beam with joy at the sight.

"Ah, Muriel," cried Mistress Ward, "we have found an Esther in a
palace; and I pray to God there may be other such in this town we ken
not of, who in secret do yet bear affection to the ancient faith."

Muriel said in her slow way: "We must needs go to the Clink to-morrow;
for there is there a priest whose flesh has fallen off his feet by
reason of his long stay in a pestered and infected dungeon. Mr. Roper
told my father of him, and he says the gaoler will let us in if he be
reasonably dealt with."

"We will essay your ointment, Mistress Sherwood," said Mistress Ward,
"if so be you can make it in time."

"I care not if I sit up all night," I cried, "if any one will buy me
the herbs I have need of for the compounding thereof." Which Muriel
said she would prevail on one of the servants to do.

The bell did then ring for supper; and when we were all seated, Kate
was urgent with me for to tell her how my Lady Surrey was dressed;
which I declared to her as follows: "She had on a brown juste au corps
embroidered, with puffed sleeves, and petticoat braided of a deeper
nuance; and on her head a lace cap, and a lace handkerchief on her
bosom."

"And, prithee, what jewels had she on, sweet coz?"

"A long double chain of gold and a brooch of pearls," I answered.

"And his grace of Norfolk is once more removed to the Tower," said Mr.
Congleton sorrowfully. "'Tis like to kill him soon, and so save her
majesty's ministers the pains to bring him to the block. His
physician, Dr. Rhuenbeck, says he is afflicted with the dropsy."

Polly said she had been to visit the Countess of Northumberland, who
was so grievously afflicted at her husband's death, that it was feared
she would fall sick of grief if she had not company to divert her from
her sad thoughts.

"Which I warrant none could effect so well as thee, wench," her father
said; "for, beshrew me, if thou wouldst not make a man laugh on his
way to the scaffold with thy mad talk. And was the poor lady of better
cheer for thy company?"

"Yea, for mine," Polly answered; "or else for M. de la Motte's, who
came in to pay his devoirs to her, for the first time, I take it,
since her lord's death. And after his first speech, which caused her
to weep a little, he did carry on so brisk a discourse as I never
noticed any but a Frenchman able to do. And she was not the worst
pleased with it that the cunning gentleman did interweave it with
anecdotes of the queen's majesty; which, albeit he related them with
gravity, did carry somewhat of ridicule in them. Such as of her
grace's dancing on Sunday before last at Lord Northampton's wedding,
and calling him to witness  her paces, so that he might let
monsieur know how high and disposedly she danced; so that he would not
have had cause to complain, in case he had married her, that she was a
boiteuse, as had been maliciously reported of her by the friends of
the Queen of Scots. And also how, some days since, she had flamed out
in great choler when he went to visit her at Hampton Court; and told
him, so loud that all her ladies and officers could hear her
discourse, that Lord North had let her know the queen-mother and the
Duke of Guise had dressed up a buffoon in an English fashion, and
called him a Milor du Nord; and that two female dwarfs had been
likewise dressed up in that queen's chamber, and invited to mimic her,
the queen of England, with great derision and mockery. 'I did assure
her,' M. de la Motte said, 'with my hand on my heart, and such an
aggrieved visage, that she must needs have accepted my words as true,
that Milor North had mistaken the whole intent of what he had
witnessed, from his great ignorance of the French tongue, which did
render him a bad interpreter between princes; for that the
queen-mother did never cease to praise her English majesty's beauty to
her son, and all her good qualities, which greatly appeased her grace,
who desired to be excused if she, likewise out of ignorance of the
French language, had said aught unbecoming touching the queen-mother.'
'Tis a rare dish of fun, fit to set before a king, to hear this
Monsieur Ambassador speak of the queen when none are present but such
as make an idol of her, as some do."

"For my part," said her father, when she paused in her speech, "I
mislike men with double visages and double tongues; and methinks this
monseer hath both, and withal a rare art for what courtiers do call
diplomacy, and plain men lying. His speeches to her majesty be so
fulsome in her praise, as I have heard some say who are at court, and
his flattery so palpable, that they have been ashamed to hear it; but
behind her back he doth disclose her failings with an admirable
slyness."

"If he be sly," answered Polly, "I'll warrant he finds his match in
her majesty."

"Yea," cried Kate, "even as poor Madge Arundell experienced to her
cost."

"Ay," quoth Polly, "she catcheth many poor fish, who little know what
snare is laid for them."

"And how did her highness catch Mistress Arundell?" I asked.

"In this way, coz," quoth Polly: "she doth often ask the ladies round
her chamber, 'If they love to think of marriage?' and the wise ones do
conceal well their liking thereunto, knowing the queen's judgment in
the matter. But pretty, simple Madge Arundell, not knowing so deeply
as her fellows, was asked one day hereof, and said, 'She had thought
much about marriage, if her father did consent to the man she loved.'
'You seem honest, i' fait said the queen; 'I will sue for you your
father.' At which the dam was well pleased; and when father, Sir
Robert Arundell, came court, the queen questioned him his daughter's
marriage, and pressed him to give consent if the match were discreet.
Sir Robert, much astonished, said, 'He never had heard his daughter
had liking to any man; but he would give his free consent to what was
most pleasing to her highness's will and consent.' Then I will do the
rest,' saith the queen. Poor Madge was called in, and told by the
queen that her father had given his free consent. 'Then,' replied the
simple one, 'I shall be happy, an' it please your grace.' 'So thou
shalt; but not to be a fool and marry,' said the queen. 'I have his
consent given to me, and I vow thou shalt never get it in thy
possession. So go-to about thy business. I see thou art a bold one to
own thy foolishness so readily.'"

"Ah me!" cried Kate, "I be glad not to be a maid to her majesty; for I
would not know how to answer her  grace if she should ask me a
like question; for if it be bold to say one hath a reasonable desire
to be married, I must needs be bold then, for I would not for two
thousand pounds break Mr. Lacy's heart; and he saith he will die if I
do not marry him. But, Polly, thou wouldst never be at a loss to
answer her majesty."

"No more than Pace her fool," quoth Polly, "who, when she said, as he
entered the room, 'Now we shall hear of our faults,' cried out, 'Where
is the use of speaking of what all the town doth talk of?'"

"The fool should have been whipped," Mistress Ward said.

"For his wisdom, or for his folly, good Mistress Ward?" asked Polly.
"If for wisdom, 'tis hard to beat a man for being wise. If for folly,
to whip a fool for that he doth follow his calling, and as I be the
licensed fool in this house--which I do take to be the highest
exercise of wit in these days, when all is turned upside down--I do
wish you all good-night, and to be no wiser than is good for your
healths, and no more foolish than suffices to lighten the heart;" and
so laughing she ran away, and Kate said in a lamentable voice,

"I would I were foolish, if it lightens the heart."

"Content thee, good Kate," I said; but in so low a voice none did
hear. And she went on,

"Mr. Lacy is gone to Yorkshire for three weeks, which doth make me
more sad than can be thought of."

I smiled; but Muriel, who had not yet oped her lips whilst the others
were talking, rising, kissed her sister, and said, "Thou wilt have,
sweet one, so great a contentment in his letters as will give thee
patience to bear the loss of his good company."

At the which Kate brightened a little. To live with Muriel was a
preachment, as I have often had occasion since to find.

On the first Sunday I was at London, we heard mass at the Portuguese
ambassador's house, whither many Catholics of his acquaintance
resorted for that purpose from our side of the city. In the afternoon
a gentleman, who had travelled day and night from Staffordshire on
some urgent business, brought me a letter from my father, writ only
four days before it came to hand, and about a week after my departure
from home. It was as follows:

  "MINE OWN DEAR CHILD,--The bearer of this letter hath promised to do
  me the good service to deliver it to thee as soon as he shall reach
  London; which, as he did intend to travel day and night, I compute
  will be no later than the end of this week, or on Sunday at the
  furthest. And for this his civility I do stand greatly indebted to
  him; for in these straitened times 'tis no easy matter to get
  letters conveyed from one part of the kingdom to another without
  danger of discovering that which for the present should rather be
  concealed. I received notice two days ago from Mistress Ward's
  sister of your good journey and arrival at London; and I thank God,
  my very good child, that he has had thee in his holy keeping and
  bestowed thee under the roof of my good sister and brother; so that,
  with a mind at ease in respect to thee, my dear sole earthly
  treasure, I may be free to follow whatever course his providence may
  appoint to me, who, albeit unworthy, do aspire to leave all things
  to follow him. And indeed he hath already, at the outset of my
  wanderings, sweetly disposed events in such wise that chance hath
  proved, as it were, the servant of his providence; and, when I did
  least look for it, by a divine ordination furnished me, who so short
  a time back parted from a dear child, with the company of one who
  doth stand to me in lieu of her who, by reason of her tender sex and
  age, I am compelled to send from me. For being necessitated, for the
  preservation of my life, to make seldom any long stay in one place,
  I had need of a youth to ride with me on those frequent journeys,
  and keep me company in such places  as I may withdraw unto for
  quietness and study. So being in Stafford some few days back, I
  inquired of the master of the inn where I did lay for one night, if
  it were not possible to get in that city a youth to serve me as a
  page, whom I said I would maintain as a gentleman if he had
  learning, nurture, and behavior becoming such a person. He said his
  son, who was a schoolmaster, had a youth for a pupil who carried
  virtue in his very countenance; but that he was the child of a
  widow, who, he much feared, would not easily be persuaded to part
  from him. Thereupon I expressed a great desire to have a sight of
  this youth and charged him to deal with his master so that he should
  be sent to my lodgings; which, when he came there, lo and behold, I
  perceived with no small amazement that he was no other than Edmund
  Genings, who straightway ran into my arms, and with much ado
  restrained himself from weeping, so greatly was he moved with
  conflicting passions of present joy and recollected sorrow at this
  our unlooked-for meeting; and truly mine own contentment therein was
  in no wise less than his. He told me that his mother's poverty
  increasing, she had moved from Lichfield, where it was more bitter
  to her, by reason of the affluence in which she had before lived in
  that city, to Stafford, where none did know them; and she dwelt in a
  mean lodging in a poor sort of manner. And whereas he had desired to
  accept the offer of a stranger, with a view to relieve his mother
  from the burden of his support, and maybe yield her some assistance
  in her straits, he now passionately coveted to throw his fortune
  with mine, and to be entered as a page in my service. But though she
  had been willing before, from necessity, albeit averse by
  inclination, to part with him, when she knew me it seemed awhile
  impossible to gain her consent. Methinks she was privy to Edmund's
  secret good opinion of Catholic religion, and feared, if he should
  live with me, the effect thereof would follow. But her necessities
  were so sharp, and likewise her regrets that he should lack
  opportunities for his further advance in learning, which she herself
  was unable to supply, that at length by long entreaty he prevailed
  on her to give him license for that which his heart did prompt him
  to desire for his own sake and hers. And when she had given this
  consent, but not before, lest it should appear I did seek to bribe
  her by such offers to so much condescension as she then evinced, I
  proposed to assist her in any way she wished to the bettering of her
  fortunes, and said I would do as much whether she suffered her son
  to abide with me or no: which did greatly work with her to conceive
  a more favorable opinion of me than she had heretofore held, and to
  be contented he should remain in my service, as he himself so
  greatly desired. After some further discourse, it was resolved that
  I should furnish her with so much money as would pay her debts and
  carry her to La Rochelle, where her youngest son was with her
  brother, who albeit he had met with great losses, would
  nevertheless, she felt assured, assist her in her need. Thus has
  Edmund become to me less a page than a pupil, less a servant than a
  son. I will keep a watchful eye over his actions, whom I already
  perceive to be tractable, capable, willing to learn, and altogether
  such as his early years did promise he should be. I thank God, who
  has given me so great a comfort in the midst of so great trials, and
  to this youth in me a father rather than a master, who will ever
  deal with him in an honorable and loving manner, both in respect to
  his own deserts and to her merits, whose prayers have, I doubt not,
  procured this admirable result of what was in no wise designed, but
  by God's providence fell out of the asking a simple question in an
  inn and of a stranger.

  "And now, mine only and very dear child, I commend thee to
  God's holy keeping; and I beseech thee to be as mindful of
  thy duty to him as thou  hast been
  (and most especially of late) of thine to me; and imprint
  in thy heart those words of holy writ, 'Not to fear those
  that kill the body, but cannot destroy the soul;' but
  withal, in whatever is just and reasonable, and not
  clearly against Catholic religion, to observe a most exact
  obedience to such as stand to thee at present in place of
  thy unworthy father, and who, moreover, are of such virtue
  and piety as I doubt not would move them rather to give
  thee an example how to suffer the loss of all things for
  Christ his sake than to offend him by a contrary
  disposition. I do write to my good brother by the same
  convenience to yield him and my sister humble thanks for
  their great kindness to me in thee, and send this written
  in haste; for I fear I shall not often have means
  hereafter. Therefore I desire Almighty God to protect,
  bless, and establish thee. So in haste, and _in
  visceribus Christi_, adieu."

The lively joy I received from this letter was greater than I can
rehearse, for I had now no longer before my eyes the sorrowful vision
of my dear father with none to tend and comfort him in his wanderings;
and no less was my contentment that Edmund, my dearly-loved playmate,
was now within reach of his good instructions, and free to follow that
which I was persuaded his conscience had been prompting him to seek
since he had attained the age of reason.

I note not down in this history the many visits I paid to the Charter
House that autumn, except to notice the growing care Lady Surrey did
take to supply the needs of prisoners and poor people, and how this
brought her into frequent occasions of discourse with Mistress Ward
and Muriel, who nevertheless, as I also had care to observe, kept
these interviews secret, which might have caused suspicion in those
who, albeit Catholic, were ill-disposed to adventure the loss of
worldly advantages by the profession of what Protestants do term
perverse and open papistry. Kate and Polly were of this way of
thinking--prudence was ever the word with them when talk of religion
was ministered in their presence; and they would not keep as much as a
prayer-book in their chambers for fear of evil results. They were
sometimes very urgent with their father for to suffer them to attend
Protestant service, which they said would not hinder them from hearing
mass at convenient times, and saying such prayers as they listed; and
Polly the more so that a young gentleman of good birth and high
breeding, who conformed to the times, had become a suitor for her
hand, and was very strenuous with her on the necessity of such
compliance, which nevertheless her father would not allow of. Much
company came to the house, both Protestant and Catholic; for my aunt,
who was sick at other times, did greatly mend toward the evening. When
I was first in London for some weeks, she kept me with her at such
times in the parlor, and encouraged me to discourse with the visitors;
for she said I had a forwardness and vivacity of speech which, if
practised in conversation, would in time obtain for me as great a
reputation of wit as Polly ever enjoyed. I was nothing loth to study
in this new school, and not slow to improve in it. At the same time I
gave myself greatly to the reading of such books as I found in my
cousins' chambers; amongst which were some M. de la Motte had lent to
Polly, marvellous witty and entertaining, such as _Les Nouvelles de la
Reine de Navarre_ and the _Cents Histoires tragiques;_ and others done
in English out of French by Mr. Thomas Fortescue; and a poem, writ by
one Mr. Edmund Spenser, very beautiful, and which did so much bewitch
me, that I was wont to rise in the night to read it by the light of
the moon at my casement window; and the _Morte d' Arthur_, which Mr.
Hubert Rookwood had willed me to read, whom I met at Bedford, and
which so filled my head with fantastic images and imagined scenes,
that I did, as it were, fall in love with  Sir Launcelot, and
would blush if his name were but mentioned, and wax as angry if his
fame were questioned as if he had been a living man, and I in a
foolish manner fond of him.

This continued for some little time, and methinks, had it proceeded
further, I should have received much damage from a mode of life with
so little of discipline in it, and so great incitements to faults and
follies which my nature was prone to, but which my conscience secretly
reproved. And among the many reasons I have to be thankful to Mistress
"Ward, that never-to-be-forgotten friend, whose care restrained me in
these dangerous courses, partly by compulsion through means of her
influence with my aunt and her husband, and partly by such admonitions
and counsel as she favored me with, I reckon amongst the greatest
that, at an age when the will is weak, albeit the impulses be good,
she lent a helping hand to the superior part of my soul to surmount
the evil tendencies which bad example on the one hand, and weak
indulgence on the other, fostered in me, whose virtuous inclinations
had been, up to that time, hedged in by the strong safeguards of
parental watchfulness. She procured that I should not tarry, save for
brief and scanty spaces of time, in my aunt's parlor when she had
visitors, and so contrived that it should be when she herself was
present, who, by wholesome checks and studied separation from the rest
of the company, reduced my forwardness with just restraints such as
became my age. And when she discovered what books I read, oh, with
what fervent and strenuous speech she drove into my soul the edge of a
salutary remorse; with what tearful eyes and pleading voice she
brought before me the memory of my mother's care and my father's love,
which had ever kept me from drinking such empoisoned draughts from the
well-springs of corruption which in our days books of entertainment
too often prove, and if not altogether bad, yet be such as vitiate the
palate and destroy the appetite for higher and purer kinds of mental
sustenance. Sharp was her correction, but withal so seasoned with
tenderness, and a grief the keenness of which I could discern was
heightened by the thought that my two elder cousins (one time her
pupils) should be so drawn aside by the world and its pleasures as to
forget their pious habits, and minister to others the means of such
injury as their own souls had sustained, that every word she uttered
seemed to sink into my heart as if writ with a pen of fire; and mostly
when she thus concluded her discourse:

"There hath been times, Constance, when men, yea and women also, might
play the fool for a while, without so great danger as now, and dally
with idle folly like children who do sport on a smooth lawn nigh to a
running stream, under their parents' eyes, who, if their feet do but
slip, are prompt to retrieve them. But such days are gone by for the
Catholics of this land. I would have thee to bear in mind that 'tis no
common virtue--no convenient religion--faces the rack, the dungeon, and
the rope; that wanton tales and light verses are no _viaticum_ for a
journey beset with such perils. And thou--thou least of all--whose
gentle mother, as thou well knowest, died of a broken heart from the
fear to betray her faith--thou, whose father doth even now gird
himself for a fight, where to win is to die on a scaffold--shouldst
scorn to omit such preparation as may befit thee to live, if it so
please God, or to die, if such be his will, a true member of his holy
Catholic Church. O Constance, it doth grieve me to the heart that thou
shouldst so much as once have risen from thy bed at night to feed thy
mind with the vain words of profane writers, in place of nurturing thy
soul by such reasonable exercises and means as God, through the
teaching of his Church, doth provide for the spiritual growth of his
children, and by prayer and penance make ready for coming conflicts.
Bethink thee of the many holy priests, yea and laymen also, who be in
uneasy  dungeons at this time, lying on filthy straw, with chains
on their bruised limbs, but lately racked and tormented for their
religion, whilst thou didst offend God by such wanton conduct. Count
up the times thou hast thus offended; and so many times rise in the
night, my good child, and say the psalm 'Miserere,' through which we
do especially entreat forgiveness for our sins."

I cast myself in her arms, and with many bitter tears lamented my
folly; and did promise her then, and, I thank God, ever after did keep
that promise, whilst I abode under the same roof with her, to read no
books but such as she should warrant me to peruse. Some days after she
procured Mr. Congleton's consent, who also went with us, to carry me
to the Marshalsea, whither she had free access at that time by reason
of her acquaintanceship with the gaoler's wife, who, when a maid, had
been a servant in her family, and who, having been once Catholic, did
willingly assist such prisoners as came there for their religion.
There we saw Mr. Hart, who hath been this long while confined in a
dark cell, with nothing but boards to lie on till Mistress Ward gave
him a counterpane, which she concealed under her shawl, and the gaoler
was prevailed on by his wife not to take from him. He was cruelly
tortured some time since, and condemned to die on the same day as Mr.
Luke Kirby and some others on a like charge, that he did deny the
queen's supremacy in spiritual matters; but he was taken off the
sledge and returned to prison. He did take it very quietly and
patiently; and when Mr. Congleton expressed a hope he might soon be
released from prison, he smiled and said:

"My good friend, my crosses are light and easy; and the being deprived
of all earthly comfort affords a heavenly joy, which maketh my prison
happy, my confinement merciful, my solitude full of blessings. To God,
therefore, be all praise, honor, and glory, for so unspeakable a
benefit bestowed upon his poor, wretched, and unworthy servant."

So did he comfort those who were more grieved for him than he for
himself; and each in turn we did confess; and after I had disburdened
my conscience in such wise that he perceived the temper of my mind,
and where to apply remedies to the dangers the nature of which his
clearsightedness did foresee, he thus addressed me:

"The world, my dear daughter, soon begins to seem insipid, and all its
pleasures grow bitter as gall; all the fine shows and delights it
affords appear empty and good for nothing to such as have tasted the
happiness of conversing with Christ, though it be amidst torments and
tribulations, yea and in the near approach of death itself. This joy
so penetrates the soul, so elevates the spirit, so changes the
affections, that a prison seems not a prison but a paradise, death a
goal long time desired, and the torments which do accompany it jewels
of great price. Take with thee these words, which be the greatest
treasure and the rarest lesson for these times: 'He that loveth his
life in this world shall lose it, and he that hateth it shall find
it;' and remember the devil is always upon the watch. Be you also
watchful. Pray you for me. I have a great confidence that we shall see
one another in heaven, if you keep inviolable the word you have given
to God to be true to his Catholic Church and obedient to its precepts,
and he gives me the grace to attain unto that same blessed end."

These words, like the sower's seed, fell into a field where thorns
oftentimes threatened to choke their effect; but persecution, when it
arose, consumed the thorns as with fire, and the plant, which would
have withered in stony ground, bore fruit in a prepared soil.

As we left the prison, it did happen that, passing by the gaoler's
lodge, I saw him sitting at a table drinking ale with one whose back
was to the door. A suspicion came over me, the most unlikely in the
world, for it was against all credibility, and I had not seen so much
as that person's face; but in the shape of his head and the manner of
 his sitting, but for a moment observed, there was a resemblance
to Edmund Genings, the thought of which I could not shake off. When we
were walking home, Mr. Congleton said Mr. Hart had told him that a
short time back a gentleman had been seized, and committed to close
confinement, whom he believed, though he had not attained to the
certainty thereof, to be Mr. Willisden; and if it were so, that much
trouble might ensue to many recusants, by reason of that gentleman
having dealt in matters of great importance to such persons touching
lands and other affairs whereby their fortunes and maybe their lives
might be compromised. On hearing of this, I straightway conceived a
sudden fear lest it should be my father and not Mr. Willisden was
confined in that prison; and the impression I had received touching
the youth who was at table with the gaoler grew so strong in
consequence, that all sorts of fears founded thereon ran through my
mind, for I had often heard how persons did deceive recusants by
feigning themselves to be their friends, and then did denounce them to
the council, and procured their arrest and oftentimes their
condemnation by distorting and false swearing touching the speech they
held with them. One Eliot in particular, who was a man of great
modesty and ingenuity of countenance, so as to defy suspicion (but a
very wicked man in more ways than one, as has been since proved), who
pretended to be Catholic, and when he did suspect any to be a Jesuit,
or a seminary priest, or only a recusant, he would straightway enter
into discourse with him, and in an artful manner cause him to betray
himself; whereupon he was not slow to throw off the mask, whereby
several had been already brought to the rope. And albeit I would not
credit that Edmund should be such a one, the evil of the times was so
great that my heart did misgive me concerning him, if indeed he was
the youth whom I had espied on such familiar terms with that ruffianly
gaoler. I had no rest for some days, lacking the means to discover the
truth of that suspicion; for Mrs. Ward, to whom I did impart it, dared
not adventure again that week to the Marshalsea, by reason of the
gaoler's wife having charged her not to come frequently, for that her
husband had suddenly suspected her to be a recusant, and would by no
means allow of her visits to the prisoners; but that when he was drunk
she could sometimes herself get his keys and let her in, but not too
often. Mr. Congleton would have it the prisoner must be Mr. Willisden
and no other, and took no heed of my fears, which he said had no
reasonable grounds, as I had not so much as seen the features of the
youth I took to be my father's page. But I could by no means be
satisfied, and wept very much; and I mind me how, in the midst of my
tears that evening, my eyes fell on the frontispiece of a volume of
the _Morte d' Arthur_ which had been loosened when the book was in my
chamber, and in which was picture of Sir Launcelot, the present mirror
of my fancy. I had pinned it to my curtain, and jewelled it as a
treasure and fund of foolish musings, even after yielding up, with
promise to read no more therein, the book which had once held it. And
thus were kept alive the fantastic imaginings wherewith I clothed a
creature conceived in a writer's brain, whose nobility was the
offspring of his thoughts and the continual entertainment of mine own.
But, oh, how just did I now find the words of a virtuous friend, and
how childish my folly, when the true sharp edge of present fear
dispersed these vapory clouds, even as the keen blast of a north wind
doth drive away a noxious mist! The sight of the dismal dungeon that
day visited, the pallid features of that true confessor therein
immured, his soul-piercing words, and the apprehensions which were
wringing my heart--banished of a sudden an idle dream engendered by
vain readings and vainer musings, and Sir Launcelot held henceforward
no higher, or not so high, a  place in my esteem as the good Sir
Guy of Warwick, or the brave Hector de Valence.

A day or two after, my Lady Surrey sent her coach for me; and I found
her in her dressing-room seated on a couch with her waiting-women and
Mistress Milicent around her, who were displaying a great store of
rich suits and jewels and such-like gear drawn from wardrobes and
closets, the doors of which were thrown open, and little Mistress Bess
was on tiptoe on a stool afore a mirror with a diamond necklace on,
ribbons flaring about her head, and a fan of ostrich-feathers in her
hand.

"Ah, sweet one," said my lady, when I came in, "thou must needs be
surprised at this show of bravery, which ill consorts with the
mourning of our present garb or the grief of our hearts; but, i'
faith, Constance, strange things do come to pass, and such as I would
fain hinder if I could."

"Make ready thine ears for great news, good Constance," cried Bess,
running toward me encumbered with her finery, and tumbling over sundry
pieces of head-gear in her way, to the waiting-woman's no small
discomfiture. "The queen's majesty doth visit upon next Sunday the
Earl and Countess of Surrey; and as her highness cannot endure the
sight of dool, they and their household must needs put it off and
array themselves in their costliest suits; and Nan is to put on her
choicest jewels, and my Lady Bess must be grand too, to salute the
queen."

"Hush, Bessy," said my lady; and leading me into the adjoining
chamber, "'tis hard," quoth she, holding my hand in hers,--"'tis hard
when his grace is in the Tower and in disgrace with her majesty, and
only six weeks since our Moll died, that she must needs visit this
house, where there be none to entertain her highness but his grace's
poor children; 'tis hard, Constance, to be constrained to kiss the
hand which threatens his life who gave my lord his, and mostly to
smile at the queen's jesting, which my Lord Arundel saith we must of
all things take heed to observe, for that she as little can endure
dool in the face as in the dress."

A few tears fell from those sweet eyes upon my hand, which she still
held, and I said, "Comfort you, my sweet lady. It must needs be that
her majesty doth intend favor to his grace through this visit. Her
highness would never be minded to do so much honor to the children if
she did not purpose mercy to the father."

"I would fain believe it were so," said the countess, thoughtfully;
"but my Lord Arundel and my Lady Lumley hold not, I fear, the same
opinion. And I do hear from them that his grace is much troubled
thereat, and hath written to the Earl of Leicester and my Lord
Burleigh to lament the queen's determination to visit his son, who is
not of age to receive her."  [Footnote 1]

  [Footnote 1: Calendar of State Papers, Domestic Series, 1547 to
  1580: "Duke of Norfolk to the Earl of Leicester and Lord Burleigh;
  laments the queen's determination to visit his son's house, who is
  not of age to receive her."]

"And doth my Lord of Surrey take the matter to heart?"

"My lord's disposition doth incline him to conceive hope where others
see reason to fear," she replied. "He saith he is glad her majesty
should come to this house, and that he will take occasion to petition
her grace to release his father from the Tower; and he hath drawn up
an address to that effect, which is marvellous well expressed; and,
since 'tis written, he makes no more doubt that her majesty will
accede to it than if the upshot was not yet to come, but already past.
And he hath set himself with a skill beyond his years, and altogether
wonderful in one so young, to prepare all things for the queen's
reception; so that when his grandfather did depute my Lord Berkeley
and my Lady Lumley to assist us (he himself being too sick to go out
of his house) in the ordering of the collation in the banqueting-room,
and the music wherewith to greet her highness on her arrival, as well
as the ceremonial to be observed during her visit, they did find that
my lord had so  disposedly and with so great taste ordained the
rules to be observed, and the proper setting forth of all things, that
little remained for them to do. And he will have me to be richly
dressed, and to put on the jewels which were his mother's, which,
since her death, have not been worn by the two Duchesses of Norfolk
which did succeed her. Ah me, Mistress Constance, I often wish my lord
and I had been born far from the court, in some quiet country place,
where there are no queens to entertain, and no plots which do bring
nobles into so great dangers."

"Alack," I cried, "dear lady, 'tis not the highest in the land that be
alone to suffer. Their troubles do stand forth in men's eyes; and when
a noble head is imperilled all the world doth know of it; but blood is
spilt in this land, and torments endured, which no pen doth chronicle,
and of which scant mention is made in palaces."

"There is a passion in thy speech," my lady said, "which betrayeth a
secret uneasiness of heart. Hast thou had ill news, my Constance?"

"No news," I answered, "but that which my fears do invent and
whisper;" and then I related to her the cause of my disturbance, which
she sought to allay by kind words, which nevertheless failed to
comfort me.

Before I left she did propose I should come to the Charter House on
the morning of the queen's visit, and bring Mistress Ward and my
cousins also, as it would pleasure them to stand in the gallery and
witness the entertainment, and albeit my heart was heavy, methought it
was an occasion not to be overpast to feast my eyes with the sight of
majesty, and to behold that great queen who doth hold in her hands her
subjects' lives, and who, if she do but nod, like the god of the
heathen which books do speak of, such terrible effects ensue, greater
than can be thought of; and so I gave my lady mine humble thanks, and
also for that she did gift me with a dainty hat and a well-embroidered
suit to wear on that day; which, when Kate saw, she fell into a
wonderful admiration of the pattern, and did set about to get it
copied afore the day of the royal visit to Howard House. As I returned
to Holborn in my lady's coach there was a great crowd in the Cornhill,
and the passage for a while arrested by the number of persons on their
way to what is now called the Royal Exchange, which her majesty was to
visit in the evening. I sat very quietly with mine eyes fixed on the
foot-passengers, not so much looking at their faces as watching their
passage, which, like the running of a river, did seem endless. But at
last it somewhat slackened, and the coach moved on, when, at the
corner of a street, nigh unto a lamp over a shop, which did throw a
light on his face, I beheld Edmund Genings. Oh, how my heart did beat,
and with what a loud cry I did call to the running footmen to stop!
But the noise of the street was so great they did not hear me, and I
saw him turn and pursue his way down another street toward the river.
My good uncle, when he heard I had verily seen my father's new page in
the city, gave more heed to my suspicions, and did promise to go
himself unto the Marshalsea on the next day, and seek to verify the
name of the prisoner Mr. Hart had made mention of.


CHAPTER IX.

On the next morning Mr. Congleton called me into the library from the
garden, where I was gathering for Muriel a few of such hardy flowers
as had survived the early frost. She was wont to carry them with her
to the prisons; for it was one of her kindly apprehensions of the
sufferings of others to divide the comfort wherewith things seemingly
indifferent do affect those that be shut out of all kinds of
enjoyments; and where a less tender nature should have been content to
provide necessaries, she, through a more delicate acquaintanceship and
light touch, as it were, on the strings of the human heart, ever
bethought herself when it was possible to minister if but one minute's
pleasure to those who had often well-nigh forgotten the very taste of
it. And she hath told me touching that point of flowers, how it had
once happened that the scent of some violets she had concealed in her
bosom with a like intent did move to tears an aged man, who for many
years past had not seen, no not so much as one green leaf in his
prison; which tears, he said, did him more good than anything else
which could have happened to him.

I threw down on a bench the chrysanthemums and other bold blossoms I
had gathered, and running into the house, opened the door of the
library, where, lo and behold, to my no small agitation and amaze, I
discovered Edmund Genings, who cried out as I entered:

"O my dear master's daughter and well-remembered playmate, I do greet
you with all mine heart; and I thank God that I see you in so good a
condition, as I may with infinite gladness  make report of to
your good father, who through me doth impart to you his paternal
blessing and most affectionate commendations."

"Edmund," I cried, scarce able to speak for haste, "is he in London?
is he in prison?"

"No, forsooth," quoth Mr. Congleton.

"No, verily," quoth Edmund; both at the same time.

"Thy fears, silly wench," added the first, "have run away with thy
wits, and I do counsel thee another time to be at more pains to
restrain them; for when there be so many occasions to be afraid of
veritable evils, 'tis but sorry waste to spend fears on present
fancies."

By which I did conjecture my uncle not to be greatly pleased with
Edmund's coming to his house, and noticed that he did fidget in his
chair and ever and anon glanced at the windows which opened on the
garden in an uneasy manner.

"And wherefore art thou then in London?" I asked of Edmund; who thus
answered:

"Because Mr. James Fenn, who is also called Williesden, was taken and
committed close prisoner to the Marshalsea a short time back; which,
when my dear master did hear of, he was greatly disturbed and
turmoiled thereby, by reason of weighty matters having passed betwixt
him and that gentleman touching lands belonging to recusants, and that
extraordinary damage was likely to ensue to several persons of great
merit, if he could not advertise him in time how to answer to those
accusations which would be laid against him; and did seek if by any
means he could have access to him; but could find no hope thereof
without imminent danger not to himself only, but to many beside, if he
had come to London and been recognized."

"Wherein he did judge rightly," quoth my uncle; and then Edmund--

"So, seeing my master and others of a like faith with him in so great
straits touching their property and their lives also, I did most
earnestly crave his licence, being unknown and of no account in the
world, and so least to be suspected, to undertake this enterprise,
which he could not himself perform; which at last he did grant me,
albeit not without reluctance. And thus resolved I came to town."

"And has your hope been frustrated?" Mr. Congleton asked. To whom
Edmund--"I thank God, the end hath answered my expectations. I
committed the cause to him to whom nothing is impossible, and
determined, like a trusty servant, to do all that in me did lie
thereunto. And thinking on no other means, I took up my abode near to
the prison, hoping in time to get acquainted with the keeper; for
which purpose I had to drink with him each day, standing the cost,
beside paying him well, which I was furnished with the means to do. At
last I did, by his means, procure to see Mr. Fenn, and not only come
to speak to him, but to have access to his cell three or four times
with pen and ink and paper to write his mind. So I have furnished him
with the information he had need of, and likewise brought away with me
such answers to my master's questions as should solve his doubts how
to proceed in the aforesaid matters."

"God reward thee, my good youth," Mr. Congleton said, "for this thing
which thou hast done; for verily, under the laws lately set forth,
recusants be in such condition that, if not death, beggary doth stare
them in the face, and no remedy thereunto except by such assistance as
well-disposed Protestants be willing to yield to them."

"And where doth my father stay at this present time?" I asked; and
Edmund answered:

"Not so much as to you, Mistress Constance, am I free to reply to that
question; for when I left, 'Edmund,' quoth my master, 'it is a part of
prudence in these days to guard those that be dear to us from dangers
ensuing on what men do call our perversity; and as these new laws
enact  that he which knoweth any one which doth hear mass, be it
ever so privately, or suffers a priest to absolve him, or performs any
other action appertaining to Catholic religion, and doth not discover
him before some public magistrate within the space of twenty days next
following, shall suffer the punishment of high treason, than which
nothing can be more horrible; and that neither sex nor age be a cause
of exemption from the like penalties, so that father must accuse son,
and sister brother, and children their parents;--it is, I say, a
merciful part to hide from our friends where we do conceal ourselves,
whose consciences do charge us with these novel crimes, lest theirs be
also burdened with the choice either to denounce us if called upon to
testify thereon, or else to speak falsely. Therefore I do charge thee,
my son Edmund' (for thus indeed doth my master term me, his unworthy
servant), 'that thou keep from my good child, and my dear sister, and
her no less dear husband, the knowledge of my present, but indeed
ever-shifting, abode; and solely inform them, by word of mouth, that I
am in good health, and in very good heart also, and do most earnestly
pray for them, that their strength and patience be such as the times
do require.'"

"And art thou reconciled, Edmund?" I asked, ever speaking hastily and
beforehand with prudence. Mr. Congleton checked me sharply; whereupon,
with great confusion, I interrupted my speech; but Edmund, albeit not
in words yet by signs, answered my question so as I should be
certified it was even as I hoped. He then asked if I should not be
glad to write a letter to my father,--which he would carry to him, so
that it was neither signed nor addressed,--which letter I did sit down
to compose in a hurried manner, my heart prompting my pen to utter
what it listed, rather than weighing the words in which those
affectionate sentiments were expressed. Mr. Congleton likewise did
write to him, whilst Edmund took some food, which he greatly needed;
for he had scarce eaten so much as one comfortable meal since he had
been in London, and was to ride day and night till he reached his
master. I wept very bitterly when he went away; for the sight of him
recalled the dear mother I had lost, the sole parent whose company I
was likewise reft of, and the home I was never like to see again. But
when those tears were stayed, that which at the time did cause sadness
ministered comfort in the retrospect, and relief from worse fears made
the present separation from my father more tolerable. And on the next
Sunday, when I went to the Charter House, with my cousins and Mistress
Ward, I was in such good cheer that Polly commended my prating; which
she said for some days had been so stayed that she had greatly feared
I had caught the infectious plague of melancholy from Kate, whom she
vowed did half kill her with the sound of her doleful sighing since
Mr. Lacy was gone, which she said was a dismal music brought into
fashion by love-sick ladies, and such as she never did intend to
practise; "for," quoth she, "I hold care to be the worst enemy in
life; and to be in love very dull sport, if it serve not to make one
merry." This she said turning to Sir Ralph Ingoldby, the
afore-mentioned suitor for her hand, who went with us, and thereupon
cried out, "Mercy on us, fair mistress, if we must be merry when we be
sad, and by merriment win a lady's love, the lack of which doth so
take away merriment that we must needs be sad, and so lose that which
should cure sadness;" and much more he in that style, and she
answering and making sport of his discourse, as was her wont with all
gentlemen.

When we reached the house, Mrs. Milicent was awaiting us at the door
of the gallery for to conduct us to the best place wherein we could
see her majesty's entrance. There were some seats there and other
persons present, some of which were of Polly's acquaintance, with whom
she did keep up a  brisk conversation, in which I had occasion to
notice the sharpness of her wit, in which she did surpass any woman I
have since known, for she was never at a loss for an answer; as when
one said to her--

"Truly, you have no mean opinion of yourself, fair mistress."

"As one shall prize himself," quoth she, "so let him look to be valued
by others."

And another: "You think yourself to be Minerva."

Whereupon she: "No, sir, not when I be at your elbow;" meaning he was
no Ulysses.

And when one gentleman asked her of a book, if she had read it:

"The epistle," she said, "and no more."

"And wherefore no more," quoth he, "since that hath wit in it?"

"Because," she answered, "an author who sets all his wit in his
epistle is like to make his book resemble a bankrupt's doublet."

"How so?" asked the gentleman.

"In this wise," saith she, "that he sets the velvet before, though the
back be but of buckram."

"For my part," quoth a foppish young man, "I have thoughts in my mind
should fill many volumes."

"Alack, good sir," cries she, "is there no type good enough to set
them in?"

He, somewhat nettled, declares that she reads no books but of one
sort, and doats on _Sir Bevis and Owlglass_, or _Fashion's Mirror_,
and such like idle stuff, wherein he himself had never found so much
as one word of profitable use or reasonable entertainment.

"I have read a fable," she said, "which speaks of a pasture in which
oxen find fodder, hounds, hares, storks, lizards, and some animals
nothing."

"To deliver you my opinion," said a lady who sat next to Polly's
disputant, "I have no great esteem for letters in gentlewomen. The
greatest readers be oft the worst doers."

"Letters!" cries Polly; "why, surely they be the most weighty things
in creation; for so much as the difference of one letter mistaken in
the order in which it should stand in a short sentence doth alter the
expression of a man's resolve in a matter of life and death."

"How prove you that, madam?" quoth the lady.

"By the same token," answered Polly, "that I once did hear a gentleman
say, 'I must go die a beggar,' who willed to say, 'I must go buy a
dagger.'"

They all did laugh, and then some one said, "There was a witty book of
emblems made on all the cardinals at Rome, in which these scarlet
princes were very roughly handled. Bellarmine, for instance, as a
tiger fast chained to a post, and a scroll proceeding from the beast's
mouth--'Give me my liberty; you shall see what I am.' I wish," quoth
the speaker, "he were let loose in this island. The queen's judges
would soon constrain him to eat his words."

"Peradventure," answered Polly, "his own words should be too good food
for a recusant in her majesty's prisons."

"Maybe, madam, you have tasted of that food," quoth the aforesaid
lady, "that you be so well acquainted with its qualities."

Then I perceived that Mistress Ward did nudge Polly for to stay her
from carrying on a further encounter of words on this subject; for, as
she did remind us afterward, many persons had been thrown into prison
for only so much as a word lightly spoken in conversation which should
be supposed even in a remote manner to infer a favorable opinion of
Catholic religion; as, for instance, a bookseller in Oxford, for a
jest touching the queen's supremacy in ecclesiastical matters, had
been a short time before arrested, pilloried, whipped, and his ears
nailed to a counter, which with a knife he had himself to cut through
to free himself; which maybe had not been taken much notice of, as
nothing singular in these days, the man being a Catholic and of no
great note, but that much talk had  been ministered concerning a
terrible disease which broke out immediately after the passing of that
sentence, by which the judge which had pronounced it, the jury, and
many other persons concerned in it, had died raving mad; to the no
small affright of the whole city. I ween, howsoever, no nudging should
have stopped Polly from talking, which indeed was a passion with her,
but that a burst of music at that time did announce the queen's
approach, and we did all stand up on the tiptoe of expectation to see
her majesty enter.

My heart did beat as fast as the pendulum of a clock when the cries
outside resounded, "Long live Queen Elizabeth!" and her majesty's
voice was distinctly heard answering, "I thank you, my good people;"
and the ushers crying out, "La Royne!" as the great door was thrown
open; through which we did see her majesty alight from her coach,
followed by many nobles and lords, and amongst them one of her
bishops, and my Lord and my Lady Surrey, kneeling to receive her on
the steps, with a goodly company of kinsfolks and friends around them.
Oh, how I did note every lineament of that royal lady, of so great
power and majesty, that it should seem as if she were not made of the
same mould as those of whom the Scriptures do say, that dust they are,
and to dust must they return. Very majestic did she appear; her
stature neither tall nor low, but her air exceedingly stately. Her
eyes small and black, her face fair, her nose a little hooked, and her
lips narrow. Upon her head she had a small crown, her bosom was
uncovered; she wore an oblong collar of gold and jewels, and on her
neck an exceeding fine necklace. She was dressed in white silk
bordered with pearls, and over it a mantle of black silk shot with
silver threads; her train, which was borne by her ladies, was very
long. When my lord knelt, she pulled off her glove, and gave him her
right hand to kiss, sparkling with rings and jewels; but when my lady,
in as sweet and modest a manner as can be thought of, advanced to pay
her the same homage, she did withdraw it hastily and moved on. I can
even now, at this distance of time, call to mind the look of that
sweet lady's face as she rose to follow her majesty, who leant on my
lord's arm with a show of singular favor, addressing herself to him in
a mild, playful, and obliging manner. How the young countess's cheek
did glow with a burning blush, as if doubting if she had offended in
the manner of her behavior, or had anyways merited the repulse she had
met with! How she stood for one moment irresolute, seeking to catch my
lord's eye, so as to be directed by him; and failing to do so, with a
pretty smile, but with what I, who loved her, fancied to be a
quivering lip, addressed herself to the ladies of the queen, and
conducted them through the cloisters to the garden, whither her
highness and my lord had gone.

In a brief time Mistress Milicent came to fetch us to a window which
looked on the square, where a great open tent was set for a collation,
and seats all round it for the concert which was to follow. As we went
along, I took occasion to ask of her the name of a waiting-gentleman,
who ordered about the servants with no small alacrity, and met her
majesty with many bows and quirks and a long compliment in verse.

"Tis Mr. Churchyard," she said; "a retainer of his grace's, and a poet
withal."

"Not a _grave_ one, I hope," said Polly.

"Nay," answered the simple gentlewoman, "but one well versed in
pageants and tournaments and suchlike devices, as well as in writing
of verses and epigrams very fine and witty. Her majesty doth sometimes
send for him when any pageant is on hand."

"Ah, then, I doubt not," quoth Polly, "he doth take himself to be no
mean personage in the state, and so behaves accordingly."


Pretty Milicent left us to seek for Mistress Bess, whom she had charge
of that day; and now our eyes were so intent on watching the spectacle
before us that even Polly for a while was silent. The queen did sit at
table with a store of noblemen waiting on her; and a more goodly sight
and a rarer one is not to be seen than a store of men famed for so
much bravery and wit and arts of state, that none have been found to
surpass them in any age, who be so loyal to a queen and so reverent to
a woman as these to this lady, who doth wear the crown of so great a
kingdom, so that all the world doth hold it in respect, and her hand
sought by so many great princes. But all this time I could not
perceive that she so much as once did look toward my Lady Surrey, or
spoke one single word to her or to my Lady Lumley, or little Bess, and
took very scanty notice also of my Lady Berkeley, his grace's sister,
who was a lady of so great and haughty a stomach, and of speech so
eloquent and ready, that I have heard the queen did say, that albeit
Lady Berkeley bent her knee when she made obeisance to her, she could
very well see she bent not her will to love or serve her, and that she
liked not such as have a man's heart in a woman's body. 'Tis said that
parity breedeth not affection, or affinity respect, of which saying
this opinion of the queen's should seem a notable example. But to see
my Lady Surrey so treated in her own husband's father's house worked
in me such effects of choler, mingled with sadness, that I could
scarce restrain my tears. Methought there was a greater nobleness and
a more true queenly greatness in her meek and withal dignified
endurance of these slights who was the subject, than in the sovereign
who did so insult one who least of all did deserve it. What the queen
did, others took pattern from; and neither my Lord Burleigh, nor my
Lord Leicester, or Sir Christopher Hatton, or young Lord Essex (albeit
my lord's own friend ), or little Sir John Harrington, her majesty's
godson, did so much as speak one civil word or show her the least
attention; but she did bear herself with so much sweetness, and,
though I knew her heart was full almost to bursting, kept up so brave
an appearance that none should see it except such as had their own
hearts wounded through hers, that some were present that day who since
have told me that, for promise of future distinction and true nobility
of aspect and behavior, they had not in their whole lives known one to
be compared with the young Countess of Surrey.

Polly did point out to us the aforesaid noblemen and gentlemen, and
also Dr. Cheney, the bishop of Gloucester, who had accompanied her
majesty, and M. de la Motte, the French ambassador, whom she did seem
greatly to favor; but none that day so much as my Lord Surrey, on whom
she let fall many gracious smiles, and used playful fashions with him,
such as nipping him once or twice on the forehead, and shaking her
fan, as if to reprove him for his answers to her questions, which
nevertheless, if her countenance might be judged of, did greatly
content her; albeit I once observed her to frown (and methought, then,
what a terror doth lie in a sovereign's frown) and speak sharply to
him; at the which a high color came into his cheek, and rose up even
to his temples, which her majesty perceiving, she did again use the
same blandishments as before; and when the collation was ended, and
the concert began, which had been provided for her grace's
entertainment, she would have him sit at her feet, and gave him so
many tokens of good-will, that I heard Sir Ralph Ingoldby, who was
standing behind me, say to another gentleman:

"If that young nobleman's father is like to be shorter by the head,
his father's son is like to have his own raised higher than ever his
father's was, so he doth keep clear of papistry and overmuch fondness
for his wife, which be the two things her majesty doth most abhor
in her courtiers."

My heart moving me to curiosity, I could not forbear to ask:

"I pray you, sir, wherefore doth not her majesty like her courtiers to
love their wives?"

At the which question he laughed, and said:

"By reason, Mistress Constance, that when they be in that case they do
become stayers at home, and wait not on her majesty with a like
diligence as when they are unmarried, or leastways love not their
ladies. The Bible saith a man cannot serve God and mammon. Now her
grace doth opine men cannot serve the queen and their wives also."

"Then," I warmly cried, "I hope my Lord Surrey shall never serve the
queen!"

"I' faith, say it not so loud, young Mistress Papist," said Sir Ralph,
laughing, "or we shall have you committed for high treason. Some are
in the Tower, I warrant you, for no worse offence than the uttering of
such like rash words. How should you fancy to have your pretty ears
bored with a rougher instrument than Master Anselm's the jeweller?"

And so he; but Polly, who methinks was not well pleased that he should
notice mine ears, which were little and well-shaped, whereas hers were
somewhat larger than did accord with her small face, did stop his
further speech with me by asking him if he were an enemy to papists;
for if so, she would have naught to say to him, and he might become a
courtier to the queen, or any one else's husband, for anything she did
care, yea, if she were to lose her ears for it.

And he answered, he did very much love some papists, albeit he hated
papistry when it proved not conformable to reason and the laws of the
country.

And so they fell to whispering and suchlike discourses as lovers hold
together; and I, being seated betwixt this enamored gentleman and the
wall on the other side, had no one then to talk with. But if my tongue
and mine ears also, save for the music below, were idle, not so mine
eyes; for they did stray from one point to another of the fair
spectacle which the garden did then present, now resting on the queen
and those near unto her, and anon on my Lady Surrey, who sat on a
couch to the left of her majesty's raised canopy, together with Lady
Southwell, Lady Arundell (Sir Robert's wife), and other ladies of the
queen, and on one side of her the bishop of Gloucester, whom, by
reason of his assiduous talking with her, I took more special note of
than I should otherwise have done; albeit he was a man which did
attract the eye, even at the first sight, by a most amiable suavity of
countenance, and a sweet and dignified behavior both in speech and
action such as I have seldom observed greater in any one. His manners
were free and unconstrained; and only to look at him converse, it was
easy to perceive he had a most ready wit tempered with benevolence. He
seemed vastly taken with my Lady Surrey; and either had not noticed
how others kept aloof from her, or was rather moved thereby to show
her civility; for they soon did fall into such eager, and in some sort
familiar, discourse, as it should seem to run on some subject of like
interest to both. Her color went and came as the conversation
advanced; and when she spoke, he listened with such grave suavity,
and, when she stayed her speech, answered in so obliging a manner, and
seemed so loth to break off, that I could not but admire how two
persons, hitherto strangers to each other, and of such various ages
and standing, should be so companionable on a first acquaintanceship.

When the queen rose to depart, in the same order in which she came,
every one kneeling as she passed, I did keenly watch to see what
visage she would show to my Lady Surrey, whom she did indeed this time
salute; but in no gracious manner, as one who looks without looking,
notices without  heeding, and in tendering of thanks thanketh
not. As my lord walked by her majesty's side through the cloisters to
the door, he suddenly dropped on one knee, and drawing a paper from
his bosom, did present it to her highness, who started as if
surprised, and shook her head in a playful manner--(oh, what a cruel
playfulness methought it was, who knew, as her majesty must needs also
have done, what that paper did contain)--as if she would not be at that
time troubled with such grave matters, and did hand it to my Lord
Burleigh; then gave again her hand to my lord to kiss, who did kneel
with a like reverence as before; but with a shade of melancholy in his
fair young face, which methought became it better than the smiles it
had worn that day.

After the queen had left, and all the guests were gone save such few
as my lord had willed to stay to supper in his private apartments, I
went unto my lady's chamber, where I found Mistress Milicent, who said
she was with my lord, and prayed me to await her return; for that she
was urgent I should not depart without speaking with her, which was
also what I greatly desired. So I took a book and read for the space
of an hour or more, whilst she tarried with my lord. When she came in,
I could see she had been weeping. But her women being present, and
likewise Mistress Bess, she tried to smile, and pressed my hand,
bidding me to stay till she was rid of her trappings, as she did term
them; and, sitting down before her mirror,--though I ween she never
looked at her own face, which that evening had in it more of the
whiteness of a lily than the color of the rose,--she desired her women
to unbraid her hair, and remove from her head the diamond circlet, and
from her neck the heavy gold chain with a pearl cross, which had
belonged to her husband's mother. Then stepping out of her robe, she
put on a silk wrapper, and so dismissed them, and likewise little
Bess, who before she went whispered in her ear:

"Nan, methinks the queen is foul and red-haired, and I should not care
to kiss her hand for all the fine jewels she doth wear."

And so hugged her round the neck and stopped her mouth with kisses.
When they were gone,

"Constance," quoth she, "we be full young, I ween, for the burden laid
upon us, my lord and me."

"Ay, sweet one," I cried; "and God defend thou shouldst have to carry
it alone;" for my heart was sore that she had had so little favor
shown to her and my lord so much. A faint color tinged her cheek as
she replied:

"God knows I should be well cotent that Phil should stand so well in
her majesty's good graces as should be convenient to his honor and the
furtherance of his fortunes, if so be his father was out of prison;
and 'tis little I should reck of such slights as her highness should
choose to put upon me, if I saw him not so covetous of her favor that
he shall think less well of his poor Nan hereafter by reason of the
lack of her majesty's good opinion of her, which was so plainly showed
to-day. For, good Constance, bethink thee what a galling thing it is
to a young nobleman to see his wife so meanly entreated; and for her
majesty to ask him, as she did, if the pale-faced chit by his side,
when she arrived, was his sister or his cousin. And when he said it
was his wife who had knelt with him to greet her majesty"--"Wife!"
quoth the queen; "i' faith, I had forgotten thou wast married--if
indeed that is to be called a marriage which children do contract
before they come to the age of reason; and said she would take
measures for that a law should be passed which should make such
foolish marriages unlawful. And when my lord tried to tell her we had
been married a second time a few months since, she pretended not to
hear, and asked M. de la Motte if, in his country, children were made
to marry in their infancy. To which he gave answer, that the like
practice did sometimes take place  in France; and that he had
himself been present at a wedding where the bridegroom was whipped
because he did refuse to open the ball with the bride. At the which
her majesty very much laughed, and said she hoped my lord had not been
so used on his wedding-day. I promise you Phil was very angry; but the
wound these jests made was so salved over with compliments, which
pleasantly tickle the ears when uttered by so great a queen, and marks
of favor more numerous than can be thought of, in the matter of
inviting him to hunt with her in Marylebone and Greenwich park, and
telling him he deserved better treatment than he had, as to his
household and setting forward in the world, that methinks the scar was
not long in healing; albeit in the relating of these passages the pain
somewhat revived. But what doth afflict me the most is the refusal her
highness made to read my lord's letter, lamenting the unhappy position
of the duke his father, and hoping the queen, by his means and those
of other friends, should mitigate her anger. I would have had Phil not
only go down on his knees as he did, but lie on the threshold of the
door, so that she should have walked over the son's body if she
refused to show mercy to the father; but he yet doth greatly hope from
the favor showed him that he may sue her majesty with better effect
some other time; and I pray God he may be right."

Here did the dear lady break off her speech, and, hiding her face in
her hands, remained silent for a short space; and I, seeing her so
deeply moved, with the intent to draw away her thoughts from painful
musings, inquired of her if the good entertainment she had found in
conversing with the bishop had been attributable to his witty
discourse, or to the subjects therein treated of.

"Ah, good Constance," she answered, "our talk was of one whom you have
often heard me speak of--Mr. Martin's friend, Master Campion,
[Footnote 2] who is now beyond seas at Douay, and whom this bishop
once did hold to be more dear to him than the apple of his eye. He
says his qualifications were so excellent, and he so beloved by all
persons in and outside of his college at Oxford, that none more so;
and that he did himself see in him so great a present merit and
promise of future excellence, that it had caused him more grief than
anything else which had happened to him, and been the occasion of his
shedding more tears than he had ever thought to have done, when he who
had received from him deacon's orders, and whom he had hoped should
have been an honor and a prop to the Church of England, did forsake it
and fly in the face of his queen and his country: first, by going into
Ireland; and then, as he understood, beyond seas, to serve the bishop
of Rome, against the laws of God and man. But that he did yet so
dearly affection him that, understanding we had sometimes tidings of
Mr. Martin, by whose means he had mostly been moved to this lamentable
defection, he should be contented to hear somewhat of his whilom son,
still dear to him, albeit estranged. I told him we did often see
Master Campion when Mr. Martin was here; and that, from what I had
heard, both were like to be at Douay, but that no letters passed
between Mr. Martin and ourselves; for that his grace did not allow of
such correspondence since he had been reconciled and gone beyond seas.
Which the bishop said was a commendable prudence in his grace, and the
part of a careful father; and added, that then maybe he knew more of
what had befallen Master Campion than I did; for that he had a long
epistle from him, so full of moving arguments and pithy remonstrances
as might have shaken one not well grounded and settled in his
religion, and which also contained a recital of his near arrest in
Dublin, where the queen's officers would have arrested him, if a
friend had not privately warned him of his danger. And I do know, good
 Constance, who that friend was; for albeit I would not tell the
bishop we had seen Master Campion since he was reconciled, he, in
truth, was here some months ago: my lord met him in the street,
disguised as a common travelling man, and brought him into the garden,
whither he also called me; and we heard then from him how he would
have been taken in Ireland, if the viceroy himself, Sir Henry Sydney,
who did greatly favor him,--as indeed all who know him incline to do,
for his great parts, and nobleness of mind and heart, and withal most
attractive manners,--had not sent him a message, in the middle of the
night, to the effect that he should instantly leave the city, and take
measures for to escape abroad. So, under the name of Patrick, and
wearing the livery of the Earl of Kildare, he travelled to a port
twenty miles from Dublin, and there embarked for England. The queen's
officers, coming on board the ship whereon he had taken his passage,
before it sailed, searched it all over; but through God's mercy, he
said, and St. Patrick's prayers, whose name he had taken, no one did
recognize him, and he passed to London; and the day after, my lord
sent him over to Flanders. So much as the bishop did know thereon, he
related unto me, and stinted not in his praise of his great merits,
and lamentations for what he called his perversion; and hence he took
occasion to speak of religion. And when I said I had been brought up
in the Catholic religion, albeit I now conformed to the times, he said
he would show me the way to be Catholic and still obey the laws, and
that I might yet believe for the most part what I had learnt from my
teachers, so be I renounced the Pope, and commended my saying the
prayers I had been used to; which, he doubted not, were more pleasing
to God than such as some ministers do recite out of their own heads,
whom he did grieve to hear frequented our house, and were no better
than heretics, such as Mr. Fox and Mr. Fulke and Mr. Charke, and the
like of them. But what did much content me was, that he mislikes the
cruel usage recusants do meet with; and he said, not as if boasting of
it, but to declare his mind thereon, that he had often sent them alms
who suffered for their conscience' sake, as many do at this time. But
that I was to remember many Protestants were burnt in the late queen's
time, and that if Papists were not kept under by strict laws, the like
might happen again."

  [Footnote 2: State Papers.]

"You should have told him," I cried, who had been silent longer than I
liked, "that Protestants are burnt also in this reign, by the same
token that some Anabaptists did so suffer a short time back, to your
Mr. Fox's no small disgust, who should will none but Catholics to be
put to death."

"Content thee, good Constance," my lady answered; "I be not so
furnished with arguments as thou in a like case wouldst be. So I only
said, I would to God none were burnt, or hanged, or tortured any more
in this country, or in the world at all, for religion; and my lord of
Gloucester declared he was of the same mind, and would have none so
dealt with, if he could mend it, here or abroad. Then the queen rising
to go, our discourse came to an end; but this good bishop says he will
visit me when he next doth come to London, and make that matter plain
to me how I can remain Catholic, and obey the queen, and content his
grace."

"Then he will show you," I cried, "how to serve God and the world,
which the gospel saith is a thing not to be thought of, and full of
peril to the soul."

My Lady Surrey burst into tears, and I was angered with myself that I
had spoken peradventure over sharply to her who had too much trouble
already; but it did make me mad to see her so beset that the faith
which had been once so rooted in her, and should be her sure and only
stay in the dangerous path she had entered on, should be in such wise
shaken as her words did indicate.  But she was not angered, the
sweet soul; and drawing me to herself, laid her head on my bosom, and
said:

"Thou art a true friend, though a bold one; and I pray God I may never
lack the benefit of such friendship as thine, for he knoweth I have
great need thereof."

And so we parted with many tender embraces, and our hearts more
strictly linked together than heretofore.


CHAPTER X.

In the month of November of the same year in which the queen did visit
Lord and Lady Surrey at the Charter House, a person, who mentioned not
his name, delivered into the porter's hands at our gate a letter for
me, which I found to be from my good father, and which I do here
transcribe, as a memorial of his great piety toward God, and tender
love for me his unworthy child.

  "MY DEARLY BELOVED DAUGHTER (so he),--Your comfortable letter has
  not a little cheered me; and the more so that this present one is
  like to be the last I shall be able to write on this side of the
  sea, if it so happen that it shall please God to prosper my intent,
  which is to pass over into Flanders at the first convenient
  opportunity: for the stress of the times, and mine own earnest
  desire to live within the compass of a religious life, have moved me
  to forsake for a while this realm, and betake myself to a place
  which shall afford opportunity and a sufficiency of leisure for the
  prosecution of my design. The comfortable report Edmund made of thy
  health, increased height, and good condition, as also of thy
  exceeding pleasant and affectionate behavior to him, as deputed from
  thy poor father to convey to thee his paternal blessing, together
  with such tokens as a third person may exhibit of that most natural
  and tender affection which he bears to thee, his sole child, whom
  next to God he doth most entirely value and love,--of which charge
  this good youth assured me he did acquit himself as my true son in
  Christ, which indeed he now is,--and my good brother's letter and
  thine, which both do give proof of the exceeding great favor shown
  toward thee in his house, wherein he doth reckon my Constance not so
  much a niece (for such be his words) as a most cherished daughter,
  whose good qualities and lively parts have so endeared her to his
  family, that the greatest sorrow which could befal them should be to
  lose her company; which I do not here recite for to awaken in thee
  motions of pride or a vain conceit of thine own deserts, but rather
  gratitude to those whose goodness is so great as to overlook thy
  defects and magnify thy merits;--Edmund's report, I say, coupled with
  these letters, have yielded me all the contentment I desire at this
  time, when I am about to embark on a perilous voyage, of which none
  can foresee the course or the end; one in which I take the cross of
  Christ as my only staff; his words, "Follow me," for my motto; and
  his promise to all such as do confess him before men, as the assured
  anchor of my hope.

  "Our ingenuous youth informed thee (albeit I doubt not in such wise
  as to conceal, if it had been possible, his own ability, which, with
  his devotedness, do exceed praise) how he acquitted both me and
  others of much trouble and imminent danger by his fortunate despatch
  with that close prisoner. I had determined to place him with some of
  my acquaintance, lest perhaps he should return, not without some
  danger of his soul, to his own friends; but when he understood my
  resolution, he cried out with like words to those of St. Lawrence,
  'Whither goeth my master without his servant? Whither goeth my
  father without his son?' and with tears distilling from his eyes, he
  humbly entreated he might go together with me, saying, as it were
  with St. Peter, 'Master, I am  ready to go with you to prison,
  yea to death;' but, forecasting his future ability, as also to try
  his spirit a little further, I made him answer it was impossible; to
  which our Edmund replied, 'Alas! and is it impossible? Shall my
  native soil restrain free will? or home-made laws alter devout
  resolutions? Am I not young? Can I not study? May I not in time get
  what you now have got--learning for a scholar? yea, virtue for a
  priest, perhaps; and so at length obtain that for which you now are
  ready? Direct me the way, I beseech you; and let me, if you please,
  be your precursor. Tell me what I shall do, or whither I must go;
  and for the rest, God, who knows my desire, will provide and supply
  the want. Can it be possible that he who clothes the lilies of the
  field, and feeds the fowls of the air, will forsake him who forsakes
  all to fulfil his divine precept, "Seek first the kingdom of God and
  his justice, and all other things shall be given to you?"' Finally,
  he ended, to my no small admiration, by reciting the words of our
  Saviour, 'Whosoever shall forsake home, or brethren, or sisters, or
  father, or mother, for my sake and the gospel's, shall receive a
  hundredfold and possess life everlasting.'

  "By these impulses, often repeated with great fervor of spirit, I
  perceived God Almighty's calling in him, and therefore at last
  condescended to let him take his adventures, procuring him
  commendations to such friends beyond seas as should assist him in
  his purpose, and furnishing him with money sufficient for such a
  journey; not judging it to be prudent to keep him with me, who have
  not ability to warrant mine own passage; and so noted a recusant,
  that I run a greater risk to be arrested in any port where I embark.
  And so, in all love and affection, we did part; and I have since had
  intelligence, for the which I do return most humble and hearty
  thanks to God, that he hath safely crossed the seas, and has now
  reached a sure harbor, where his religious desires may take effect.
  And now, daughter Constance, mine own good child, fare thee well!
  Pray for thy poor father, who would fain give thee the blessing of
  the elder as of the younger son--Jacob's portion and Esau's also.
  But methinks the blessings of this world be not at the present time
  for the Catholics of this land; and so we must needs be content, for
  our children as for ourselves (and a covetous man he is which should
  not therewith be satisfied), with the blessings our Lord did utter
  on the mountain, and mostly with that in which he doth say, 'Blessed
  are ye when men shall persecute you, and revile you, and say all
  manner of evil against you falsely, for my name's sake; for great is
  your reward in heaven.'

  "Your loving father in natural affection and ten thousand times more
  in the love of Christ,   H. S."

Oh, what a gulf of tenfold separation did those words "beyond seas"
suggest betwixt that sole parent and his poor child! Thoughts travel
not with ease beyond the limits which nature hath set to this isle;
and what lies beyond the watery waste wherewith Providence hath
engirdled our shores offers no apt images to the mind picturing the
invisible from the visible, as it is wont to do with home-scenes,
where one city or one landscape beareth a close resemblance to
another. And if, in the forsaking of this realm, so much danger did
lie, yea, in the very ports whence he might sail, so that I, who
should otherwise have prayed that the winds might detain him, and the
waves force him back on his native soil, was constrained to supplicate
that they should assist him to abandon it,--how much greater,
methought, should be the perils of his return, when, as he indeed
hoped, a mark should be set on him which in our country dooms men to a
cruel death! Many natural tears I shed at this parting, which until
then had not seemed so desperate and final;  and for a while
would not listen to the consolations which were offered by the good
friends who were so tender to me, but continued to wander about in a
disconsolate manner in the garden, or passionately to weep in my own
chamber, until Muriel, the sovereign mistress of comfort to others,
albeit ever ailing in her body, and contemned by such as dived not
through exterior deformity into the interior excellences of her soul,
with sweet compulsion and authoritative arguments drawn from her
admirable faith and simple devotion, rekindled in mine the more noble
sentiments sorrow had obscured, not so much through diverting, as by
elevating and sweetening, my thoughts to a greater sense of the
goodness of God in calling my father, and peradventure Edmund also, to
so great an honor as the priesthood, and never more honorable than in
these days, wherein it oftentimes doth prove the road to martyrdom.

In December of that year my Lord and my Lady Surrey, by the Duke of
Norfolk's desire, removed for some weeks to Kenninghall for change of
air, and also Lady Lumley, his grace judging them to be as yet too
young to keep house alone. My lord's brothers and Mistress Bess, with
her governess, were likewise carried there. Lady Surrey wrote from
that seat, that, were it not for the duke's imprisonment and constant
fears touching his life, she should have had great contentment in that
retirement, and been most glad to have tarried there, if it had
pleased God, so long as she lived, my lord taking so much pleasure in
field-sports, and otherwise so companionable, that he often offered to
ride with her; and in the evenings they did entertain themselves with
books, chiefly poetry, and sometimes played at cards. They had but few
visitors, by reason of the disgrace and trouble his grace was in at
that time; only such of their neighbors as did hunt and shoot with the
earl her husband; mostly Sir Henry Stafford and Mr. Rookwood's two
sons, whom she commended; the one for his good qualities and honest
carriage, and the other for wit and learning; as also Sir Hammond
l'Estrange, a gentleman who stayed no longer away from Kenninghall,
she observed, than thereunto compelled by lack of an excuse for
tarrying if present, or returning when absent. He often procured to be
invited by my lord, who used to meet him out of doors, and frequently
carried him back with him to dine or to sup, and often both.

"And albeit" (so my lady wrote) "I doubt not but he doth set a
reasonable value on my lord's society,--who, although young enough to
be his son, is exceedingly conversable and pleasant, as every one who
knows him doth testify,--and mislikes not, I ween, the good cheer, or
the wine from his grace's cellar; yet I warrant thee, good Constance,
'tis not for the sake only of our poor company or hospitable table
that this good knight doth haunt us, but rather from the passion I
plainly see he hath conceived for our Milicent since a day when he
hurt his arm by a fall not far from hence, and I procured she should
dress it with that rare ointment of thine, which verily doth prove of
great efficacy in cases where the skin is rubbed off. Methinks the
wound in his arm was then transplanted into his heart, and the good
man so bewitched with the blue eyes and dove-like countenance of his
chirurgeon, that he has fallen head-over-ears in love, and is, as I
hope, minded to address her in a lawful manner. His wound did take an
exceeding long time in healing, to the no small discredit of thy
ointment; for he came several days to have it dressed, and I could not
choose but smile when at last our sweet practitioner did ask him, in
an innocent manner, if the wound did yet smart, for indeed she could
see no appearance in it but what betokened it to be healed. He
answered, 'There be wounds, Mistress Milicent, which smart, albeit no
outward marks of such suffering do show themselves.'  'Ay,' quoth
Milicent, 'but for such I be of opinion further dressing is needless;
and with my lady's licence, I will furnish you, sir, with a liquid
which shall strengthen the skin, and so relieve the aching, if so you
be careful to apply it night and morning to the injured part, and to
cork the bottle after using it.' 'My memory is so bad, fair
physician,' quoth the knight, 'that I am like to forget the
prescription.' She answered, he should stand the bottle so as it
should meet his eyes when he rose, and then he must needs remember it.

"And so broke off the discourse. But when he is here I notice how his
eyes do follow her when she sets the table for primero, or works at
the tambour-frame, or plays with Bess, to whom he often talks as she
sits on _her_ knees, who, if I mistake not, shall be, one of these
days, Lady l'Estrange, and is as worthy to be so well married as any
girl in the kingdom, both as touching her birth and her exceeding
great virtue and good disposition. He is an extreme Protestant, and
very bitter against Catholics; but as she, albeit mild in temper, is
as firmly settled in the new religion as he is, no difference will
exist between them on a point in which 'tis most of all to be desired
husbands and wives should be agreed. Thou mayst think that I have been
over apt to note the signs of this good knight's passion, and to draw
deductions from such tokens as have appeared of it, visible maybe to
no other eyes than mine; but, trust me, Constance, those who do
themselves know what 'tis to love with an engrossing affection are
quick to mark the same effects in others. When Phil is in the room, I
find it a hard matter at times to restrain mine eyes from gazing on
that dear husband, whom I do so entirely love that I have no other
pleasure in life but in his company. And not to seem to him or to
others too fond, which is not a beseeming thing even in a wife, I
study to conceal my constant thinking on him by such devices as
cunningly to provoke others to speak of my lord, and so appear only to
follow whereunto my own desire doth point, or to propose questions,--a
pastime wherein he doth excel,--and so minister to mine own pride in
him without direct flattery, or in an unbecoming manner setting forth
his praise. And thus I do grow learned in the tricks of true
affection, and to perceive in such as are in love what mine own heart
doth teach me to be the signals of that passion."

So far my lady; and not long after, on the first day of February, I
had a note from her, written in great distraction of mind at the
Charter House, where she and all his grace's children had returned in
a sudden manner on the hearing that the queen had issued a warrant for
the duke's execution on the next Monday. Preparations were made with
the expectation of all London, and a concourse of many thousands to
witness it, the tread of whose feet was heard at night, like to the
roll of muffled drums, along the streets; but on the Sunday, late in
the night, the queen's majesty entered into a great misliking that the
duke should die the next day, and sent an order to the sheriffs to
forbear until they should hear further. His grace's mother, the
dowager countess, and my Lady Berkeley his sister (now indeed lowering
her pride to most humble supplication), and my Lord Arundel from his
sick-bed, and the French ambassador, together with many others, sued
with singular earnestness to her majesty for his life, who, albeit she
had stayed the execution of his sentence, would by no means recall it.
I hasted to the Charter House, Mistress Ward going with me, and both
were admitted into her ladyship's chamber, with whom did sit that day
the fairest picture of grief I ever beheld--the Lady Margaret Howard,
who for some months had resided with the Countess of Sussex, who was a
very good lady to her and all these afflicted children. Albeit Lady
Surrey had often greatly commended this young lady, and styled her so
rare a piece of perfection that no one  could know and not admire
her, the loveliness of her face, nobility of her figure, and
attractiveness of her manners exceeded my expectations. The sight of
these sisters minded me then of what Lady Surrey had written when they
were yet children, touching my Lord Surrey, styling them "two twin
cherries on one stalk;" and methought, now that the lovely pair had
ripened into early maturity, their likeness in beauty (though
differing in complexion) justified the saying. Lady Margaret greeted
us as though we had not been strangers, and in the midst of her great
and natural sorrow showed a grateful sense of the share we did take in
a grief which methinks was deeper in her than in any other of these
mourners.

Oh, what a period of anxious suspense did follow that first reprieve!
what alternations of hope and fear! what affectionate letters were
exchanged between that loving father and good master and his sorrowful
children and servants; now writing to Mr. Dyx, his faithful steward:

  "Farewell, good Dyx! your service hath been so faithful unto me, as
  I am sorry that I cannot make proof of my good-will to recompense
  it. I trust my death shall make no change in you toward mine, but
  that you will faithfully perform the trust that I have reposed in
  you. Forget me, and remember me in mine. Forget not to counsel and
  advise Philip and Nan's unexperienced years; the rest of their
  brothers' and sisters' well-doing resteth much upon their virtuous
  and considerate dealings. God grant them his grace, which is able to
  work better in them than my natural well-meaning heart can wish unto
  them. Amen. And so, hoping of your honesty and faithfulness when I
  am dead, I bid you this my last farewell. T. H."

Now to another trusty friend and honest dependent:

  "Good friend George, farewell. I have no other tokens to send my
  friends but my books; and I know how sorrowful you are, amongst the
  rest, for my hard hap, whereof I thank God; because I hope his
  merciful chastisement will prepare me for a better world. Look well
  throughout this book, and you shall find the name of duke very
  unhappy. I pray God it may end with me, and that others may speed
  better hereafter. But if I might have my wish, and were in as good a
  state as ever you knew me, yet I would wish for a lower degree. Be a
  friend, I pray you, to mine; and do my hearty commendations to your
  good wife and to gentle Mr. Dennye. I die in the faith that you have
  ever known me to be of. Farewell, good friend.

  "Yours dying, as he was living,

  "NORFOLK."

These letters and some others did pass from hand to hand in that
afflicted house; and sometimes hope and sometimes despair prevailed in
the hearts of the great store of relatives and friends which often
assembled there to confer on the means of softening the queen's anger
and moving her to mercy; one time through letters from the king of
France and other princes, which was an ill shot, for to be so
entreated by foreign potentates did but inflame her majesty's anger
against the duke; at others, by my Lord Sussex and my Lord Arundel, or
such persons in her court as nearly approached her highness and could
deal with her when she was merry and chose to condescend to their
discourse. But the wind shifts not oftener than did the queen's mind
at that time, so diverse were her dispositions toward this nobleman,
and always opposed to such as appeared in those who spoke on this
topic, whether as pressing for his execution, or suing for mercy to be
extended to him. I heard much talk at that time touching his grace's
good qualities: how noble had been his spirit; how moderate his
disposition; how plain his attire; how bountiful his alms.


As the fates of many do in these days hang on the doom of one, much
eagerness was shown amongst those who haunted my uncle's house to
learn the news afloat concerning the issue of the duke's affair. Some
Catholics of note were lying in prison at that time in Norwich, most
of them friends of these gentlemen; of which four were condemned to
death at that time, and one to perpetual imprisonment and loss of all
his property for reconcilement; but whilst the Duke of Norfolk was yet
alive, they held the hope he should, if once out of prison, recover
the queen's favor and drive from their seats his and their mortal
enemies, my Lords Burleigh and Leicester. And verily the axe was held
suspended on the head of that duke for four months and more, to the
unspeakable anguish of many; and, amongst others, his aged and
afflicted mother, the Dowager Countess of Surrey, who came to London
from the country to be near her son in this extremity. Three times did
the queen issue a warrant for his death and then recalled it; so that
those trembling relatives and well-wishers in and out of his house did
look each day to hear the fatal issue had been compassed, In the month
of March, when her majesty was sick with a severe inflammation and
agonizing pain, occasioned, some said, by poison administered by
papists, but by her own physicians declared to arise from her contempt
of their prescriptions, there was a strange turmoil, I ween, in some
men's breasts, albeit silent as a storm brewing on a sultry day. Under
their breath, and with faces shaped to conceal the wish which bred the
inquiry, they asked of the queen's health; whilst others tore their
hair and beat their breasts with no affected grief, and the most part
of the people lamented her danger. Oh, what five days were those when
the shadow of death did hover over that royal couch, and men's hearts
failed them for fear, or else wildly whispered hopes such as they
durst not utter aloud,--not so much as to a close friend,--lest the
walls should have ears, or the pavement open under their feet! My God,
in thy hands lie the issues of life and death. Thou dost assign to
each one his space of existence, his length of days. Thy ways are not
as our ways, nor thy thoughts as our thoughts. She lived who was yet
to doom so many princely heads to the block, so many saintly forms to
the dungeon and the rack. She lived whose first act was to stretch
forth a hand yet weakened by sickness to sign, a fourth time, a
warrant for a kinsman's death, and once again recalled it. Each day
some one should come in with various reports touching the queen's
dispositions. Sometimes she had been heard to opine that her dangers
from her enemies were so great that justice must be done. At others
she vehemently spoke of the nearness of blood to herself, of the
superiority in honor of this duke; and once she wrote to Lord Burleigh
(a copy of this letter Lord Surrey saw in Lord Oxford's hands), "that
she was more beholden to the hinder part of her head than she dared
trust the forward part of the same;" and expressed great fear lest an
irrevocable deed should be committed. But she would not see Lord
Surrey, or suffer him to plead in person for his father's life. Yet
there were good hopes amongst his friends he should yet be released,
till one day--I mind it well, for I was sitting with Lady Surrey,
reading out loud to her, as I was often used to do--my Lord Berkeley
burst into the chamber, and cried, throwing his gloves on the table
and swearing a terrible oath:

"That woman has undone us!"

"What, the queen?" said my lady, white as a smock.

"Verily a queen," he answered gloomily. "I warrant you the Queen of
Scots hath ended as she did begin, and dragged his grace into a pit
from whence I promise you he will never now rise. A letter writ in her
cipher to the Duke of Alva hath been intercepted, in which that
luckless royal  wight, ever fatal to her friends as to herself,
doth say, 'that she hath a strong party in England, and lords who
favor her cause; some of whom, albeit prisoners, so powerful, that the
Queen of England should not dare to touch their lives.' Alack! those
words, 'should not dare,' shall prove the death-warrant of my noble
brother. Cursed be the day when he did get entangled in that popish
siren's plots!"

"Speak not harshly of her, good my lord," quoth Lady Surrey, in her
gentle voice. "Her sorrows do bear too great a semblance to our own
not to bespeak from us patience in this mishap."

"Nan," said Lord Berkeley, "thou art of too mild a disposition. 'Tis
the only fault I do find with thee. Beshrew me, if my wife and thee
could not make exchange of some portion of her spirit and thy meekness
to the advantage of both. I warrant thee Phil's wife should hold a
tight hand over him."

"I read not that precept in the Bible, my lord," quoth she, smiling.
"It speaketh roundly of the duty of wives to obey, but not so much as
one word of their ruling."

"Thou hadst best preach thy theology to my Lady Berkeley," he
answered; "and then she--"

"But I pray you, my lord, is it indeed your opinion that the queen
will have his grace's life?"

"I should not give so much as a brass pin, Nan, for his present chance
of mercy at her hands," he replied sadly. And his words were justified
in the event.

Those relentless enemies of the duke, my Lords Burleigh and Leicester,
--who, at the time of the queen's illness, had stood three days and
three nights without stirring from her bedside in so great terror lest
she should die and he should compass the throne through a marriage
with the Queen of Scots, that they vowed to have his blood at any cost
if her majesty did recover,--so dealt with parliament as to move it to
send a petition praying that, for the safety of her highness and the
quieting of her realm, he should be forthwith executed. And from that
day to the mournful one of his death, albeit from the great reluctance
her majesty had evinced to have him despatched, his friends, yea unto
the last moment, lived in expectancy of a reprieve; he himself made up
his mind to die with extraordinary fortitude, not choosing to
entertain so much as the least hope of life.

One day at that time I saw my Lady Margaret mending some hose, and at
each stitch she made with her needle tears fell from her eyes. I
offered to assist her ladyship; but she said, pressing the hose to her
heart, "I thank thee, good Constance; but no other hands than mine
shall put a stitch in these hose, for they be my father's, who hath
worn them with these holes for many months, till poor Master Dyx
bethought himself to bring them here to be patched and mended, which
task I would have none perform but myself. My father would not suffer
him to procure a new pair, lest it should be misconstrued as a sign of
his hope or desire of a longer life, and with the same intent he
refuseth to eat flesh as often as the physicians do order; 'for,'
quoth he, 'why should I care to nourish a body doomed to such near
decay?'" Then, after a pause, she said, "He will not wear clothes
which have any velvet on them, being, he saith, a condemned person."

Lady Surrey took one of the hose in her hand, but Lady Margeret, with
a filial jealousy, sadly smiling, shook her head: "Nay, Nan," quoth
she, "not even to thee, sweet one, will I yield one jot or tittle of
this mean, but, in relation to him who doth own these poor hose,
exalted labor." Then she asked her sister if she had heard of the
duke's request that Mr. Fox, his old schoolmaster, should attend on
him in the Tower, to whom he desired to profess that faith he did
first ground him in.

And my Lady Surrey answered yea, that my lord had informed her of
 it, and many other proofs beside that his grace sought to
prepare for death in the best manner he could think of.

"Some ill-disposed persons have said," quoth Lady Margaret, "that it
is with the intent to propitiate the queen that my father doth show
himself to be so settled in his religion, and that he is not what he
seems; but tis a slander on his grace, who hath been of this way of
thinking since he attained to the age of reason, and was never at any
time reconciled, as some have put forth."

This was the last time I did see these afflicted daughters until long
after their father's death, who was beheaded in the chapel of the
Tower shortly afterward. When the blow fell which, striking at him,
struck a no less fatal blow to the peace and well-doing of his
children, they all left the Charter House, and removed for a time into
the country, to the houses of divers relatives, in such wise as before
his death the duke had desired. A letter which I received from Lady
Surrey a few weeks after she left London doth best serve to show the
manner of this disposal, and the temper of the writer's mind at that
melancholy time.

  "My OWN DEAR CONSTANCE,--It may like you to hear that your afflicted
  friend is improved in bodily health, and somewhat recovered from the
  great suffering of mind which the duke, their good father's death,
  has caused to all his poor children--mostly to Megg and Phil and me;
  for their brothers and my sister are too young greatly to grieve. My
  Lord Arundel is sorely afflicted, I hear, and hath writ a very
  lamentable letter to our good Lady Sussex concerning this sad
  mishap. My Lady Berkeley and my Lady Westmoreland are almost
  distracted with grief for the death of a brother they did singularly
  love. That poor lady (of Westmoreland) is much to be pitied, for
  that she is parted from her husband, maybe for ever, and has lost
  two fair daughters in one year.

  "My lord hath shown much affection for his father, and natural
  sorrow in this sad loss; and when his last letters written a short
  time before he suffered, and addressed "To my loving children,"
  specially the one to Philip and Nan, reached his hands, he wept so
  long and bitterly that it seemed as if his tears should never cease.
  My lord is forthwith to make his chief abode at Cambridge for a year
  or two; and Meg and I, with Lady Sussex, and I do hope Bess
  also--albeit his grace doth appear in his letter to be otherwise
  minded. But methinks he apprehended to lay too heavy a charge on
  her, who is indeed a good lady to us all in this our unhappy
  condition, and was loth Megg should be out of my company.

  "The parting with my lord is a sore trial, and what I had not looked
  to; but God's will be done; and if it be for the advantage of his
  soul, as well as the advancement of his learning, he should reside
  at the university, it should ill befit me to repine. And now
  methinks I will transcribe, if my tears do not hinder me, his
  grace's letters, which will inform thee of his last wishes better
  than I could explain them; for I would have thee know how tender and
  forecasting was his love for us, and the good counsel he hath left
  unto his son, who, I pray to God, may always follow it. And I would
  have thee likewise note one point of his advice, which indeed I
  should have been better contented he had not touched upon, forasmuch
  as his having done so must needs hinder that which thy fond love for
  my poor self, and resolved adherence to what he calls 'blind
  papistry,' doth so greatly prompt thee to desire; for if on his
  blessing he doth charge us to beware of it, and then I should move
  my lord to so much neglect of his last wishes as at any time to be
  reconciled, bethink thee with what an ill grace I should urge on
  him, in other respects, obedience to his commands, which indeed are
  such as do commend themselves to any Christian soul as most wise and
  profitable.  And now, breaking off mine own discourse to
  transcribe his words--a far more noble and worthy employment of my
  pen--and praying God to bless thee, I remain thy tender and loving
  friend,
  "ANN SURREY."

"The Duke of Norfolk's letters to his children:

  "DEAR CHILDREN,--This is the last letter that ever I think to write
  to you; and therefore, if you loved me, or that you will seem
  grateful to me for the special love that I have ever borne unto you,
  then remember and follow these my last lessons. Oh, Philip, serve
  and fear God, above all things. I find the fault in myself, that I
  have (God forgive me!) been too negligent in this point. Love and
  make much of your wife; for therein, considering the great adversity
  you are now in, by reason of my fall, is your greatest present
  comfort and relief, beside your happiness in having a wife which is
  endued with so great towardness in virtue and good qualities, and in
  person comparable with the best sort. Follow these two lessons, and
  God will bless you; and without these, as you may see by divers
  examples out of the Scripture, and also by ordinary worldly proof,
  where God is not feared, all goeth to wreck; and where love is not
  between the husband and wife, there God doth not prosper. My third
  lesson is, that you show yourself loving and natural to your
  brothers and sister and sister-in-law. Though you be very young in
  years, yet you must strive with consideration to become a man; for
  it is your own presence and good government of yourself that must
  get friends; and if you take that course, then have I been so
  careful a father unto you, as I have taken such order as you, by
  God's grace, shall be well able, beside your wife's lands, to
  maintain yourself like a gentleman. Marry! the world is greedy and
  covetous; and if the show of the well government of yourself do not
  fear and restrain their greedy appetite, it is like that, by
  undirect means, they will either put you from that which law layeth
  upon you, or else drive you to much trouble in trying and holding
  your right. When my grandfather died, I was not much above a year
  elder than you are now; and yet, I thank God, I took such order with
  myself, as you shall reap the commodity of my so long passed travel,
  if you do now imitate the like. Help to strengthen your young and
  raw years with good counsel. I send you herewith a brief schedule,
  whom I wish you to make account of as friends, and whom as servants;
  and I charge you, as a father may do, to follow my direction
  therein; my experience can better tell what is fit for you than your
  young years can judge of. I would wish you for the present to make
  your chief abode at Cambridge, which is the place fittest for you to
  promote your learning in; and beside, it is not very far hence,
  whereby you may, within a day's warning, be here to follow your own
  causes, as occasion serveth. If, after a year or two, you spend some
  time in a house of the law, there is nothing that will prove more to
  your commodity, considering how for the time you shall have
  continual business about your own law affairs; and thereby also, if
  you spend your time well, you shall be ever after better able to
  judge in your own causes. I too late repent that I followed not this
  course that now I wish to you; for if I had, then my case perchance
  had not been in so ill state as now it is.

  "When God shall send you to those years as that it shall be fit for
  you to keep house with your wife (which I had rather were sooner,
  than that you should fall into ill company), then I would wish you
  to withdraw yourself into some private dwelling of your own. And if
  your hap may be so good as you may so live without being called to
  higher degree, oh, Philip, Philip, then shall you enjoy that blessed
  life which your woful father would fain have done, and never could
  be so happy. Beware of high degree. To a vain-glorious, proud
  stomach it seemeth at the first sweet. Look into all
  chronicles, and you shall find that in the end it brings heaps of
  cares, toils in the state, and most commonly in the end utter
  overthrow. Look into the whole state of the nobility in times past,
  and into their state now, and then judge whether my lessons be true
  or no. Assure yourself, as you may see by the book of my accounts,
  and you shall find that my living did hardly maintain my expenses;
  for all the help that I had by Tom's lands, and somewhat by your
  wife's and sister's-in-law, I was ever a beggar. You may, by the
  grace of God, be a great deal richer and quieter in your low degree,
  wherein I once again wish you to continue. They may, that shall wish
  you the contrary, have a good meaning; but believe your father, who
  of love wishes you best, and with the mind that he is at this
  present fully armed to God, who sees both states, both high and low,
  as it were even before his eyes. Beware of the court, except it be
  to do your prince service, and that, as near as you can, in the
  lowest degree, for that place hath no certainty; either a man, by
  following thereof, hath too much of worldly pomp, which, in the end,
  throws him down headlong, or else he liveth there unsatisfied;
  either that he cannot attain for himself that he would, or else that
  he cannot do for his friends as his heart desireth. Remember these
  notes, and follow them; and then you, by God's help, shall reap the
  commodity of them in your old years.

  "If your brothers may be suffered to remain in your company, I would
  be most glad thereof, because continuing together should still
  increase love between you. But the world is so catching of
  everything that falls, that Tom being, as I believe, after my death,
  the queen's majesty's ward, shall be begged by one or another. But
  yet you are sure to have your brother William left still with you,
  because, poor boy, he hath nothing to feed cormorants withal; to
  whom you will as well be a father as a brother; for upon my blessing
  I commit him to your charge to provide for, if that which I have
  assured him by law shall not be so sufficient as I mean it. If law
  may take place, your sister-in-law will be surely enough conveyed to
  his behoof, and then I should wish her to be brought up with some
  friend of mine; as for the present I allow best of Sir Christopher
  Heydon, if he will so much befriend you as to receive her to sojourn
  with him; if not there in some other place, as your friends shall
  best allow of. And touching the bestowing of your wife and Megg, who
  I would be loth should be out of your wife's company; for as she
  should be a good companion for Nan, so I commit Megg of especial
  trust to her. I think good, till you keep house together, if my Lady
  of Sussex might be entreated to take them to her as sojourners,
  there were no place so fit considering her kindred unto you, and the
  assured friend that I hope you shall find of her; beside she is a
  good lady. If it will not be so brought to pass, then, by the advice
  of your friends, take some other order; but in no case I would wish
  you to keep any house except it be together with your wife.

  "Thus I have advised you as my troubled memory can at present suffer
  me. Beware of pride, stubbornness, taunting, and sullenness, which
  vices nature doth somewhat kindle in you; and therefore you must
  with reason and discretion make a new nature in yourself. Give not
  your mind too much and too greedily to gaming; make a pastime of it,
  and no toil. And lastly, delight to spend some time in reading of
  the Scriptures; for therein is the whole comfort of man's life; all
  other things are vain and transitory; and if you be diligent in
  reading of them, they will remain with you continually, to your
  profit and commodity in this world, and to your comfort and
  salvation in the world to come, whither, in grace of God, I am now
  with joy and consolation preparing myself. And, upon my blessing,
  beware of blind papistry, which brings nothing but bondage to men's
  consciences.  Mix your prayers with fasting, not thinking
  thereby to merit; for there is nothing that we ourselves can do that
  is good,--we are but unprofitable servants; but fast, I say, thereby
  to tame the wicked affection of the mind, and trust only to be saved
  by Christ's precious blood; for without a perfect faith therein,
  there is no salvation. Let works follow your faith; thereby to show
  to the world that you do not only say you have faith, but that you
  give testimony thereof to the full satisfaction of the godly. I
  write somewhat the more herein, because perchance you have
  heretofore heard, or perchance may hereafter hear, false bruits that
  I was a papist;   [Footnote 3] but trust unto it, I never, since I
  knew what religion meant (I thank God) was of other mind than now
  you shall hear that I die in; although (I cry God mercy) I have not
  given fruits and testimony of my faith as I ought to have done; the
  which is the thing that I do now chiefliest repent.

    [Footnote 3: There would seem to be no doubt that the Duke of
    Norfolk was a sincere Protestant. The strenuous advice to his
    children to beware of Popery affords evidence of it. Greatly,
    however, as it would have tended to their worldly prosperity to
    have followed their father's last injunctions in this respect, all
    but one of those he thus counselled were subsequently reconciled
    to the Catholic Church.

    The Duke's letters in this chapter are all authentic. See the Rev.
    M. Tierney's History of Arundel, and the Appendix to Nott's
    edition of Lord Surrey's poems.]

  "When I am gone, forget my condemning, and forgive, I charge you, my
  false accusers, as I protest to God I do; but have nothing to do
  with them if they live. Surely, Bannister dealt no way but honestly
  and truly. Hickford did not hurt me in my conscience, willingly; nor
  did not charge me with any great matter that was of weight otherways
  than truly. But the Bishop of Ross, and specially Barber, did
  falsely accuse me, and laid their own treasons upon my back. God
  forgive them, and I do, and once again I will you to do; bear no
  malice in your mind. And now, dear Philip, farewell. Read this my
  letter sometimes over; it may chance make you remember yourself the
  better; and by the same, when your father is dead and rotten, you
  may see what counsel I would give you if I were alive. If you follow
  these admonitions, there is no doubt but God will bless you; and I,
  your earthly father, do give you God's blessing and mine, with my
  humble prayers to Almighty God that it will please him to bless you
  and your good Nan; that you may both, if it be his will, see your
  children's children, to the comfort of you both; and afterward that
  you may be partakers of the heavenly kingdom. Amen, amen. Written by
  the hand of your loving father. T. H."

"And to Tom his grace did write:

  "Tom, out of this that I have written to your brother, you may learn
  such lessons as are fit for you. That I write to one, that I write
  to all, except it be somewhat which particularly touches any of you.
  To fear and serve God is generally to you all; and, on my blessing,
  take greatest care thereof, for it is the foundation of all
  goodness. You have, even from your infancy, been given to be
  stubborn. Beware of that vice, Tom, and bridle nature with wisdom.
  Though you be her majesty's ward, yet if you use yourself well to my
  Lord Burleigh, he will, I hope, help you to buy your own wardship.
  Follow your elder brother's advice, who, I hope, will take such a
  course as may be to all your comforts. God send him grace so to do,
  and to you too! I give you God's blessing and mine, and I hope he
  will prosper you."

  "And to Will he saith (whom methinks his heart did incline to, as
  Jacob's did to Benjamin):

  "Will, though you be now young, yet I hope, if it shall please God
  to send you life, that you will then consider of the precepts
  heretofore written to your brethren. I have committed the charge of
  your bringing-up to your elder brother; and therefore I charge you
  to be obedient to him, as you would have been to me if I had been
   living. If you shall have a liking to my daughter-in-law, Bess
  Dacres, I hope you shall have it in your own choice to marry her. I
  will not advise you otherways than yourself, when you are of fit
  years, shall think good; but this assure yourself, it will be a good
  augmentation to your small living, considering how chargeable the
  world groweth to be. As you are youngest, so the more you ought to
  be obedient to your elders. God send you a good younger brother's
  fortune in this world, and his grace, that you may ever be his, both
  in this world and in the world to come."

"To me, his unworthy daughter, were these lines written, which I be
ashamed to transcribe, but that his goodness doth appear in his good
opinion of me rather than my so poor merits:

  "Well-beloved Nan, that hath been as dear to me as if you had been
  my own daughter, although, considering this ill hap that has now
  chanced, you might have had a greater marriage than now your husband
  shall be; yet I hope that you will remember that, when you were
  married, the case was far otherways; and therefore I hope your
  dutiful dealings shall be so to your husband, and your sisterly love
  to your brothers-in-law and sister-in-law, as my friends that shall
  see it may think that my great affection to you was well bestowed.
  Thanks be to God, you have hitherto taken a good course; whereby all
  that wish you well take great hope rather of your going forward
  therein than backward--which God forbid! I will request no more at
  your hands, now that I am gone, in recompense of my former love to
  you, but that you will observe my three lessons: to fear and serve
  God, flying idleness; to love faithfully your husband; and to be
  kind to your brothers and sisters--specially committing to your care
  mine only daughter Megg, hoping that you will not be a sister-in-law
  to her, but rather a natural sister, yea even a very mother; and
  that as I took care for the well bestowing of you, so you will take
  care for the well bestowing of her, and be a continual caller on
  your husband for the same. If this mishap had not chanced, you and
  your husband might have been awhile still young, and I would, by
  God's help, have supplied your wants. But now the case is changed,
  and you must, at your years of fifteen, attain to the consideration
  and discretion of twenty; or else, if God send you to live in your
  age, you shall have cause to repent your folly in youth, beside the
  endangering the casting away of those who do wholly depend upon your
  two well-doings. I do not mistrust that you will be mindful of my
  last requests; and so doing God bless you, and send you to be old
  parents to virtuous children, which is likeliest to be if you give
  them good example. Farewell! for this is the last that you shall
  ever receive from your loving father. Farewell, my dear Nan!"

  "And to his own sweet Megg he subjoined in the same letter these
  words:

  "Megg, I have, as you see, committed you to your loving sister. I
  charge you therefore, upon my blessing, that you obey her in all
  things, as you would do me or your own mother, if we were living;
  and then I doubt not but by her good means you shall be in fit time
  bestowed to your own comfort and contentment. Be good; no babbler,
  and ever be busied and doing of somewhat; and give your mind to
  reading in the Bible and such other good books, whereby you may
  learn to fear God; and so you shall prove, by his help, hereafter
  the better wife, and a virtuous woman in all other respects. If you
  follow these my lessons, then God's blessing and mine I give you,
  and pray that you may both live and die his servant. Amen."

When I read these letters, and my Lady Surrey's comments upon them,
what pangs seized my heart! Her  messenger was awaiting an
answer, which he said must be brief, for he had to ride to Bermondsey
with a message for my Lord Sussex, and had been long delayed in the
city. I seized a pen, and hastily wrote:

  "Oh, my dear and honored lady, what grief, what pain, your letter
  hath caused me! Forgive me if, having but brief time in which to
  write a few lines by your messenger, I dwell not on the sorrow which
  doth oppress you, nor on the many excellences apparent in those
  farewell letters, which give token of so great virtue and wisdom in
  the writer, that one should be prompted to exclaim he did lack but
  one thing to be perfect, that being a true faith,--but rather
  direct my answer to that passage in yours which doth work in me such
  regret, yea such anguish of heart, as my poor words can ill express.
  For verily there can be no greater danger to a soul than to be lured
  from the profession of a true Catholic faith, once firmly received
  and yet inwardly held, by deceptive arguments, whereby it doth
  conceal its own weakness under the garb of respect for the dead and
  duty to the living. For, I pray you, mine own dear lady, what
  respect and what duty is owing to men which be not rather due to him
  who reads the heart, and will ask a strict account of such as,
  having known his will, yet have not done it? Believe me, 'tis a
  perilous thing to do evil that good may come. Is it possible you
  should resolve never to profess that religion which, in your
  conscience, you do believe to be true, nor to move your lord
  thereunto, for any human respect, however dear and sacred? I hope
  other feelings may return, and God's hand will support, uphold, and
  never fail you in your need. I beseech him to guard and keep you in
  the right way.

  "Your humble servant and truly loving poor friend,

  "CONSTANCE SHERWOOD."


CHAPTER XI.

During the two years which followed the Duke of Norfolk's death I did
only see my Lady Surrey once, which was when she came to Arundel
House, on a visit to her lord's grandfather; and her letters for a
while were both scanty and brief. She made no mention of religion, and
but little of her husband; and chiefly touched on such themes as Lady
Margaret's nuptials with Mr. Sackville (Lord Dorset's heir) and
Mistress Milicent's with Sir Hammond l'Estrange. She had great
contentment, she wrote, to see them both so well married according to
their degree; but that for herself she did very much miss her good
sister's company and her gentlewoman's affectionate services, who
would now reside all the year at her husband's seat in Norfolk; but
she looked when my lord and herself should be at Kenninghall, when he
left the university, that they might yet, being neighbors, spend some
happy days together, if it so pleased God. Once she wrote in exceeding
great joy, so that she said she hardly knew how to contain herself,
for that my lord was coming in a few days to spend the long vacation
at Lord Sussex's house at Bermondsey. But when she wrote again,
methought--albeit her letter was cheerful, and she did jest in it
somewhat more than was her wont--that there was a silence touching her
husband, and her own contentment in his society, which betokened a
reserve such as I had not noticed in her before. About that time it
was bruited in London that my Lord Surrey had received no small
detriment by the bad example he had at Cambridge, and the liberty
permitted him.

And now, forsaking for a while the theme of that noble pair, whose
mishaps and felicities have ever saddened and rejoiced mine heart
almost equally with mine own good or evil fortune, I here purpose to
set down such occurrences as should be worthy of note in the more
obscure sphere in which my lot was cast.

When I was about sixteen, my cousin Kate was married to Mr. Lacy;
first in a secret manner, in the night, by Mr. Plasden, a priest, in
her father's library, and the next day at the parish church at
Holborn. Methinks a fairer bride never rode to church than our Kate.
Her mother went with her, which was the first time she had been out of
doors for a long space of time, for she feared to catch cold if the
wind did blow from the north or the east; and if from the south she
feared it should bring noxious vapors from the river; and the west,
infection from the city, and so stayed at home for greater safety. But
on Kate's wedding day we did all protest the wind blew not at all, so
that from no quarter of the sky should mischief arise; and in a closed
litter, which she reckoned to be safer than a coach, she consented to
go to church.

"Marry, good wife," cried Mr. Congleton, when she had been magnifying
all the dangers she mostly feared, "thou dost forget the greatest of
all in these days, which doth hold us all by the neck, as it were. For
hearing mass, as we did in this room last night, we do all run the
risk of being hanged, which should be a greater peril methinks than a
breath of foul air."


She, being in a merry mood, replied: "Twittle twattle, Mr. Congleton;
the one may be avoided, the other not. 'Tis no reason I should get a
cold to-day because I be like to be hanged to-morrow."

"I' faith," cried Polly, "my mother hath well parried your thrust,
sir; and methinks the holy Bishop of Rochester was of the same mind
with her."

"How so, Polly?" quoth her father; and she, "There happened a false
rumor to rise suddenly among the people when he was in the prison, so
I have heard Mr. Roper relate, that he should be brought to execution
on a certain day; wherefore his cook, that was wont to dress his
dinner and carry it daily unto him, hearing of his execution, dressed
him no dinner at all that day. Wherefore, at the cook's next repair
unto him, he demanded the cause why he brought him not his dinner.
'Sir,' said the cook, 'it was commonly talked all over the town that
you should have died to-day, and therefore I thought it but vain to
dress anything for you.' 'Well,' quoth the bishop merrily, 'for all
that report, thou seest me yet alive; and therefore, whatsoever news
thou shalt hear of me hereafter, prithee let me no more lack my
dinner, but make it ready; and if thou see me dead when thou comest,
then eat it thyself. But I promise thee, if I be alive, by God's
grace, to eat never a bit the less.'"

"And on the day he was verily executed," said Mistress Ward, "when the
lieutenant came to fetch him, he said to his man, 'Reach me my furred
tippet, to put about my neck.' 'O my lord!' said the lieutenant, 'what
need you be so careful of your health for this little time, being not
much above in hour?' 'I think no otherwise,' said this blessed father;
'but yet, in he mean time, I will keep myself as well as I can; for I
tell you truth, though I have, I thank our Lord, a very good desire
and a willing mind to die at this present, and so I trust of his
infinite mercy and goodness he will continue it, yet I will not
willingly hinder my health one minute of an hour, but still prolong
the same as long as I can by such reasonable ways as Almighty God hath
provided for me.'" Upon which my good aunt fastened her veil about her
head, and said the holy bishop was the most wise saint and
reasonablest martyr she had yet heard of.

Kate was dressed in a kirtle of white silk, her head attired with an
habiliment of gold, and her hair, brighter itself than gold, woven
about her face in cunningly wrought tresses. She was led to church
between two gentlemen--Mr. Tresham and Mr. Hogdson--friends of the
bridegroom, who had bride-laces and rosemary tied about their silken
sleeves. There was a fair cup of silver gilt carried before her,
wherein was a goodly branch of rosemary, gilded very fair, and hung
about with silken ribbons of all colors. Musicians came next; then a
group of maidens bearing garlands finely gilded; and thus we passed on
to the church. The common people at the door cheered the bride, whose
fair face was a passport to their favor; but as Muriel crept along,
leaning on my arm, I caught sound of murmured blessings.

"Sweet saint," quoth an aged man, leaning on his staff, near the
porch, "I ween thine espousals be not of earth." A woman, with a child
in her arms, whispered to her as she past, "He thou knowest of is
dead, and died praying for thee." A man, whose eyes had watched her
painfully ascending the steps, called her an angel; whereupon a beggar
with a crutch cried out, "Marry, a lame angel!" A sweet smile was on
her face as she turned toward him; and drawing a piece of silver from
her pocket, she bestowed it on him, with some such words as
these--that she prayed they might both be so happy, albeit lame, as to
hobble to heaven, and get there in good time, if it should please God.
Then he fell to blessing her so loud, that she hurried me into the
church, not content to be thanked in so public a manner.


After the ceremony, we returned in the same order to Ely Place. The
banquet which followed, and the sports succeeding it, were conducted
in a private and somewhat quiet fashion, and not many guests invited,
by reason of the times, and Mr. Congleton misliking to draw notice to
his house, which had hitherto been but little molested, partly for
that Sir Francis Walsingham had a friendship for him, and also for his
sister, Lady Egerton of Ridley, which procured for them greater favor,
in the way of toleration, than is extended to others; and likewise the
Portuguese ambassador was his very good friend, and his chapel open to
us at all times; so that priests did not need to come to his house for
the performance of any religious actions, except that one of the
marriage, which had taken place the night before in his library.
Howsoever, he was very well known to be a recusant, for that neither
himself, nor any belonging to him, attended Protestant worship; and
Sir Francis sometimes told him that the clemency with which he was
treated was shown toward him with the hope that, by mild courses, he
might be soon brought to some better conformity.

Mr. Lacy's house was in Gray's Inn Lane, a few doors from Mr. Swithin
Wells's; and through this proximity an intimate acquaintanceship did
arise between that worthy gentleman and his wife and Kate's friends.
He was very good-natured, pleasant in conversation, courteous, and
generous; and Mrs. Wells a most virtuous gentlewoman. Although he (Mr.
Swithin) much delighted in hawking, hunting, and other suchlike
diversions, yet he so soberly governed his affections therein, as to
be content to deprive himself of a good part of those pleasures, and
retire to a more profitable employment of training up young gentlemen
in virtue and learning; and with such success that his house has been,
as it were, a fruitful seminary to many worthy members of the Catholic
Church. Among the young gentlemen who resided with him at that time
was Mr. Hubert Rookwood, the youngest of the two sons of Mr. Rookwood,
of Euston, whom I had seen at the inn at Bedford, when I was
journeying to London. We did speedily enter into a somewhat close
acquaintanceship, founded on a similarity of tastes and agreeable
interchange of civilities, touching the lending of books and likewise
pieces of music, which I did make fair copies of for him, and which we
sometimes practiced in the evening; for he had a pleasant voice and an
aptness to catch the trick of a song, albeit unlearned in the art,
wherein he styled me proficient; and I, nothing loth to impart my
knowledge, became his instructor, and did teach him both to sing and
play the lute. He was not much taller than when I had seen him before;
but his figure was changed, and his visage had grown pale, and his
hair thick and flowing, especially toward the back of the head,
discovering in front a high and thoughtful forehead. There was a great
deal of good young company at that time in Mr. Wells's house; for some
Catholics tabled there beside those that were his pupils, and others
resorted to it by reason of the pleasant entertainment they found in
the society of ingenuous persons, well qualified, and of their own
religion. I had most days opportunities of conversing with Hubert,
though we were never alone; and, by reason of the friendship which had
existed between his father and mine, I allowed him a kindness I did
not commonly afford to others.

Mr. Lacy had had his training in that house, and, albeit his natural
parts did not title him to the praise of an eminent scholar, he had
thence derived a great esteem for learning, a taste for books, of the
which he did possess a great store (many hundred volumes), and a
discreet manner of talking, though something tinctured with
affectation, inasmuch as he should seem to be rather enamored of the
words he uttered, than careful of the  substance. Hubert was wont
to say that his speech was like to the drawing of a leaden sword out
of a gilded sheath. He was a very virtuous young man; and his wife had
never but one complaint to set forth, which was that his books took up
so much of his time that she was almost as jealous of them as if they
had been her rivals. She would have it he did kill himself with study;
and, in a particular manner, with the writing of the life of one
Thomas à Kempis, which was a work he had had a long time on hand. One
day she comes into his library, and salutes him thus: "Mr. Lacy, I
would I were a book; and then methinks you would a little more respect
me." Polly, who was by, cried out, "Madam, you must then be an
almanac, that he might change every year;" whereat she was not a
little displeased. And another time, when her husband was sick, she
said, if Mr. Lacy died, she would burn Thomas a Kempis for the killing
of her husband. I, hearing this, answered that to do so were a great
pity; to whom she replied, "Why, who was Thomas a Kempis?" to which I
answered, "One of the saintliest men of the age wherein he lived."
Wherewith she was so satisfied, that she said, then she would not do
it for all the world.

Methinks I read more in that one year than in all the rest of my life
beside. Mine aunt was more sick than usual, and Mistress Ward so taken
up with the nursing of her, that she did not often leave her room.
Polly was married in the winter to Sir Ralph Ingoldby, and went to
reside for some months in the country. Muriel prevailed on her father
to visit the prison with her, in Mistress Ward's stead, so that
sometimes they were abroad the whole of the day; by reason of which, I
was oftener in Gray's Inn Lane than at home, sometimes at Kate's
house, and sometimes at Mistress Wells's mansion, where I became
infected with a zeal for learning, which Hubert's example and
conversation did greatly invite me to. He had the most winning tongue,
and the aptest spirit in the world to divine the natural inclinations
of those he consorted with. The books he advised me to read were
mostly such as Mistress Ward, to whom I did faithfully recite their
titles, accounted to be not otherwise than good and profitable, having
learned so much from good men she consulted thereon, for she was
herself no scholar; but they bred in me a great thirst for knowledge,
a craving to converse with those who had more learning than myself,
and withal so keen a relish for Hubert's society, that I had no
contentment so welcome as to listen to his discourse, which was
seasoned with a rare kind of eloquence and a discursive fancy, to
which, also, the perfection of his carriage, his pronunciation of
speech, and the deportment of his body lent no mean lustre. Naught
arrogant or affected disfigured his conversation, in which did lie so
efficacious a power of persuasion, and at times, when the occasion
called for it, so great a vehemency of passion, as enforced admiration
of his great parts, if not approval of his arguments. I made him at
that time judge of the new thoughts which books, like so many keys
opening secret chambers in the mind, did unlock in mine; and I mind me
how eagerly I looked for his answers--how I hung on his lips when he
was speaking, not from any singular affection toward his person, but
by reason of the extraordinary fascination of his speech, and the
interest of the themes we discoursed upon; one time touching on the
histories of great men of past ages, at another on the changes wrought
in our own by the new art of printing books, which had produced such
great changes in the world, and yet greater to be expected. And as he
was well skilled in the Italian as well as the French language, I came
by his means to be acquainted with many great writers of those
nations. He translated for me sundry passages from the divine play of
Signor Dante Alighieri, in which  hell and purgatory and heaven
are depicted, as it were by an eye-witness, with so much pregnancy of
meaning and force of genius, that it should almost appear as if some
special revelation had been vouchsafed to the poet beyond his natural
thoughts, to disclose to him the secrets of other spheres. He also
made me read a portion of that most fine and sweet poem on the
delivery of the holy city Jerusalem, composed by Signor Torquato
Tasso, a gentleman who resided at that time at the court of the Duke
of Ferrara, and which one Mr. Fairfax has since done into English
verse. The first four cantos thereof were given to Mr. Wells by a
young gentleman, who had for a while studied at the University of
Padua. This fair poem, and mostly the second book thereof, hath
remained imprinted in my memory with a singular fixity, by reason that
it proved the occasion of my discerning for the first time a special
inclination on Hubert's side toward myself, who thought nothing of
love, but was only glad to have acquired a friend endowed with so much
wit and superior knowledge, and willing to impart it. This book, I
say, did contain a narration which bred in me so great a resentment of
the author's merits, and so quick a sympathy with the feigned subjects
of his muse, that never before or since methinks has a fiction so
moved me as the story of Olindo and Sophronisba.

Methinks this was partly ascribable to a certain likeness between the
scenes described by the poet and some which take place at this time in
our country. In the maiden of high and noble thoughts, fair, but
heedless of her beauty, who stood in the presence of the soldan, once
a Christian, then a renegade, taking on herself the sole guilt,--O
virtuous guilt! O worthy crime!--of which all the Christians were
accused, to wit, of rescuing sacred Mary's image from the hands of the
infidels who did curse and blaspheme it, and, when all were to die for
the act of one unknown, offered herself a ransom for all, and with a
shamefaced courage, such as became a maid, and a bold modesty
befitting a saint--a bosom moved indeed, but not dismayed, a fair but
not pallid cheek--was content to perish for that the rest should
live;--in her, I say, I saw a likeness in spirit to those who suffer
nowadays for a like faith with hers, not at the hands of infidels, but
of such whose parents did for the most part hold that same belief
which they do now make out to be treason.

Hubert, observing me to be thus moved, smiled, and asked if, in the
like case, I should have willed to die as Sophronisba.

"Yes," I answered, "if God did give me grace;" and then, as I uttered
the words, I thought it should not be lawful to tell a lie, not for to
save all the lives in the world; which doubt I imparted to him, who
laughed and said he was of the poet's mind, who doth exclaim, touching
this lie, "O noble deceit! worthier than truth itself!" and that he
thought a soul should not suffer long in purgatory for such a sin.
"Maybe not," I answered; "yet, I ween, there should be more faith in a
sole commitment to God of the events than in doing the least evil so
that good should come of it."

He said, "I marvel, Mistress Constance, what should be your thoughts
thereon if the life of a priest was in your hands, and you able to
save him by a lie."

"Verily," I answered, "I know not, Master Rookwood; but I have so much
trust in Almighty God that he would, in such a case, put words into my
mouth which should be true, and yet mislead evil-purposed men, or that
he shall keep me from such fearful straits, or forgive me if, in the
stress of a great peril, I unwittingly should err."

"And I pray you," Hubert then said, as if not greatly caring to pursue
the theme, "what be your thought concerning the unhappy youth Olindo,
who did so dote on this maiden that, fearful of offending there where
above  all he desired to please, had, greatly as he loved, little
hoped, nothing asked, and not so much as revealed his passion until a
common fate bound both to an equal death?"

"I thought not at all on him," I answered; "but only on Sophronisba."

At which he sighed and read further: "That all wept for her who,
albeit doomed to a cruel death, wept not for herself, but in this wise
secretly reproved the fond youth's weeping: 'Friend,' quoth she,
'other thoughts, other tears, other sighs, do beseem this hour. Think
of thy sins, and God's great recompense for the good. Suffer for his
sole sake, and torment shall be sweet. See how fair the heavens do
show, the sun how bright, as it were to cheer and lure us onward!'"

"Ah!" I exclaimed, "shame on him who did need to be so exhorted, who
should have been the most valiant, being a man!" To the which he
quickly replied:

"He willed to die of his own free will rather than to live without her
whom he jewelled more than life: but in the matter of grieving love
doth make cowards of those who should else have been brave."

"Me thinks, rather," I answered, "that in noble hearts love's effects
should be noble."

"Bethink you, Mistress Constance," he then asked, "that Sophronisba
did act commendably, insomuch that when an unlooked-for deliverance
came, she refused not to be united in life to him that had willed to
be united to her in death."

"You may think me ungrateful, sir," answered; "but other merits
methinks than fondness for herself should have won so great a heart."

"You be hard to content, Mistress Constance," he answered somewhat
resentfully. "To satisfy you, I perceive one should have a hard as
well as a great heart."

"Nay," I cried, "I praise not hardness, but love not softness either.
You that be so learned, I pray you find the word which doth express
what pleaseth me in a man."

"I know not the word," he answered; "I would I knew the substance of
your liking, that I might furnish myself with it."

Whereupon our discourse ended that day; but it ministered food to my
thoughts, and I fear me also to a vain content that one so gifted with
learning and great promise of future greatness should evince something
of regard beyond a mutual friendship for one as ignorant and young as
I then was.

Some months after Kate's marriage, matters became very troublesome, by
reason of the killing of a great store, as was reported, of French
Huguenots in Paris on St. Bartholomew's day, and afterward in many
cities of France, which did consternate the English Catholics for more
reasons than one, and awoke so much rage in the breasts of
Protestants, that the French ambassador told Lady Tregony, a friend,
of Mistress Wells, that he did scarce venture to show his face; and
none, save only the queen herself, who is always his very good friend,
would speak to him. I was one evening at the house of Lady Ingoldby,
Polly's mother-in-law, some time after this dismal news had been
bruited, and the company there assembled did for the most part
discourse on these events, not only as deploring what had taken place,
and condemning the authors thereof,--which, indeed, was what all good
persons must needs have done,--but took occasion thence to use such
vile terms and opprobrious language touching Catholic religion, and
the cruelty and wickedness of such as did profess it, without so much
as a thought of the miseries inflicted on them in England, that--albeit
I had been schooled in the hard lesson of silence--so strong a passion
overcame me then, that I had well nigh, as the Psalmist saith, spoken
with my tongue, yea, young as I was, uttered words rising hot from my
heart, in the midst of that adverse company, which I did know, them to
be, if one had not at  that moment lifted up his voice, whose
presence I had already noted, though not acquainted with his name; a
man of reverent and exceedingly benevolent aspect; aged, but with an
eye so bright, and silvery hair crowning a noble forehead, that so
much excellence and dignity is seldom to be observed in any one as was
apparent in this gentleman.

"Good friends," he said, and at the sound of his voice the speakers
hushed their eager discoursing, "God defend I should in any way differ
with you touching the massacres in France; for verily it has been a
lamentable and horrible thing that so many persons should be killed,
and religion to be the pretence for it; but to hear some speak of it,
one should think none did suffer in this country for their faith, and
bloody laws did not exist, whereby Papists are put to death in a
legal, cold-blooded fashion, more terrible, if possible, than the
sudden bursts of wild passions and civil strife, which revenge for
late cruelties committed by the Huguenots, wherein many thousand
Catholics had perished, the destruction of churches, havoc of fierce
soldiery, and apprehension of the like attempts in Paris, had stirred
up to fury; so that when the word went forth to fall on the leaders of
the party, the savage work once begun, even as a fire in a city built
of wood, raged as a madness for one while, and men in a panic struck
at foes, whose gripe they did think to feel about their throats."

Here the speaker paused an instant. This so bold opening of his speech
did seem to take all present by surprise, and almost robbed me of my
breath; for it is well known that nowadays a word, yea a piece of a
word, or a nod of the head, whereby any suspicion may arise of a
favorable disposition toward Catholics, is often-times a sufficient
cause for a man to be accused and cast into prison; and I waited his
next words (which every one, peradventure from curiosity, did likewise
seem inclined to hear) with downcast eyes, which dared not to glance
at any one's face, and cheeks which burned like hot coals.

"It is well known," quoth he, "that the sufferings which be endured by
recusants at this time in our country are such, that many should
prefer to die at once than to be subjected to so constant a fear and
terror as doth beset them. I speak not now of the truth or the falsity
of their religion, which, if it be ever so damnable and wicked, is no
new invention of their own, but what all Christian people did agree
in, one hundred years ago; so that the aged do but abide by what they
were taught by undoubted authority in their youth, and the young have
received from their parents as true. But I do solely aver that Papists
are subjected to a thousand vexations, both of bonds, imprisonments,
and torments worse than death, yea and oftentimes to death itself; and
that so dreadful, that to be slain by the sword, or drowned, yea even
burned at the stake, is not so terrible; for they do hang a man and
then cut him down yet alive, and butcher him in such ways--plucking out
his heart and tearing his limbs asunder--that nothing more horrible can
be thought of."

"They be traitors who are so used," cried one gentleman, somewhat
recovering from the surprise which these bold words had caused.

"If to be of a different religion from the sovereign of the country be
a proof of treason," continued the venerable speaker, "then were the
Huguenots, which have perished in France, a whole mass and nest of
traitors."

A gentleman seated behind me, who had a trick of sleeping in his
chair, woke up and cried out, "Not half a one, sirs; not so much as
half a one is allowed," meaning the mass, which he did suppose to have
been spoken of.

"And if so, deserved all to die,' continued the speaker.

"Ay, and so they do, sir," quoth the sleeper. "I pray you let them all
be hanged." Upon which every one  laughed, and the aged gentleman
also; and then he said,

"Good my friends, I ween 'tis a rash thing to speak in favor of
recusants nowadays, and what few could dare to do but such as cannot
be suspected of disloyalty to the queen and the country, and who,
having drunk of the cup of affliction in their youth, even to the
dregs, and held life for a long time as a burden which hath need to be
borne day by day, until the wished for hour of release doth come--and
the sooner, the more welcome--have no enemies to fear, and no object
to attain. And if so be that you will bear with me for a few moments,
yea, if ye procure me to be hanged to-morrow" (this he said with a
pleasant smile; and, "Marry, fear not, Mr. Roper," and "I' faith,
speak on, sir," was bruited round him by his astonished auditors), "I
will recite to you some small part of the miseries which have been
endured of late years by such as cannot be charged with the least
thought of treason, or so much as the least offence against the laws,
except in what touches the secret practice of their religion. Women
have, to my certain knowledge, been hung up by the hands in prisons
(which do overflow with recusants, so that at this time there
remaineth no room for common malefactors), and cruelly scourged, for
that they would not confess by which priest they had been reconciled
or absolved, or where they had heard mass. Priests are often tortured
to force them to declare what they hear in confession, who harbor
priests and Papists, where such and such recusants are to be found,
and the like questions; and in so strenuous a manner, that needles
have been thrust under their nails, and one man, not long since, died
of his racking. O sirs and gentle ladies, I have seen with mine own
eyes a youth, the son of one of my friends--young Mark Typper, born of
honest and rich parents, skilful in human learning, having left his
study for a time, and going home to see his friends--whipped through
the streets of London, and burnt in the ear, because, forsooth, a
forward judge, to whom he had been accused as a Papist, and finding no
proof thereof, condemned him as a vagabond. And what think you, good
people, of the death of Sir Robert Tyrwit's son, who was accused for
hearing of a mass at the marriage of his sister, and albeit at the
time of his arrest in a grievous fever, was pulled out of the house
and thrust into prison, even as he then was, feeble, faint, and
grievously sick? His afflicted parents entreat, make intercession, and
use all the means they can to move the justices to have consideration
of the sick; not to heap sorrow upon sorrow, nor affliction on the
afflicted; not to take away the life of so comely a young gentleman,
whom the physicians come and affirm will certainly die if he should be
removed. All this is nothing regarded. They lay hold on the sick man,
pull him away, shut him up in prison, and within two days next after
he dies. They bury him, and make no scruple or regard at all. O sirs,
bethink you what these parents do feel when they hear Englishmen speak
of the murders of Protestants in France as an unheard of crime. If, in
these days, one in a family of recusants doth covet the inheritance of
an elder brother--yea, of a father--he hath but to conform to the now
established religion (I leave you to think with how much of piety and
conscience), and denounce his parent as a Papist, and straightway he
doth procure him to be despoiled, and his lands given up to him. Thus
the seeds of strife and bitter enmity have been sown broadcast through
the land, the bands of love in families destroyed, the foundations of
honor and beneficence blown up, the veins and sinews of the common
society of men cut asunder, and a fiendly force of violence and a
deadly poison of suspicion used against such as are accused of no
other crime than their religion, which they yet adhere to; albeit
their fortunes be ruined by fines and their lives in  constant
jeopardy from strenuous laws made yet more urgent by private malice.
My friends, I would that not one hair of the head of so much as one
Huguenot had been touched in France; that not one Protestant had
perished in the flames in the late queen's reign, or in that of her
present majesty; and also that the persecution now framed in this
country against Papists, and so handled as to blind men's eyes and
work in them a strange hypocrisy, yea and in some an innocent belief
that freedom of men's souls be the offspring of Protestant religion,
should pass away from this land. I care not how soon (as mine honored
father-in-law, and in God too, I verily might add, was wont to say),--I
care not how soon I be sewn up in a bag and cast into the Thames, if
so be I might first see religious differences at an end, and men of
one mind touching God's truth."

Here this noble and courageous speaker ceased, and various murmurs
rose among the company. One lady remarked to her neighbor: "A
marvellous preacher that of seditious doctrines, methinks."

And one gentleman said that if such talk were suffered to pass
unpunished in her majesty's subjects, he should look to see massing
and Popery to rear again their heads in the land.

And many loudly affirmed none could be Papists, or wish them well, and
be friends to the queen's government, and so it did stand to reason
that Papists were traitors.

And another said that, for his part, he should desire to see them less
mercifully dealt with; and that the great clemency shown to such as
did refuse to come to church, by only laying fines on them, and not
dealing so roundly as should compel them to obedience, did but
maintain them in their obstinacy; and he himself would as lief shoot
down a seminary priest as a wolf, or any other evil beast.

I noticed this last speaker to be one of those who had spoken with
most abhorrence of the massacres in France.

One lady called out in a loud voice that Papists, and such as take
their part, among which she did lament to see Mr. Roper, should be
ashamed so much as to speak of persecution; and began to relate the
cruelties practised upon Protestants twenty years back, and the
burning at Oxford of those excellent godly men, the bishops of London
and Worcester.

Mr. Roper listened to her with an attentive countenance, and then
said:

"I' faith, madam, I cannot choose but think Dr. Latimer, if it be he
you speak of, did somewhat approve of such a method of dealing with
persons obstinate touching religion, when others than himself and
those of his own way of thinking were the subjects of it, if we judge
by a letter he wrote in 1538 to his singular good friend the Lord
Privy Seal Cromwell, at the time he was appointed to preach at the
burning at Smithfield of Friar Forest of Greenwich, a learned divine I
often did converse with in my young years."

"What wrote the good bishop?" two or three persons asked; and the lady
who had spoken before said she should warrant it to be something
pious, for a more virtuous Protestant never did live than this holy
martyr.

Whereupon Mr. Roper: "This holy bishop did open his discourse right
merrily, for in a pleasant manner he thus begins his letter: 'And,
sir, if it be your pleasure, as it is, that I shall play the fool in
my customable manner when Forest shall suffer, I would wish my stage
stood near unto Forest; for I would endeavor myself so to content the
people that therewith I might also convert Forest, God so helping.'
And further on he doth greatly lament that the White Friars of
Doncaster had access to the prisoner, and through the fault of the
sheriff or jailers, or both, he should be allowed to hear mass and
receive the sacrament, by which he is rather comforted in his way than
discouraged. And _such is his foolishness_, this good  doth
humbly say, that if Forest would abjure his religion, he should yet
(for all his past obstinacy) wish him pardoned. O sirs, think you that
when at Oxford this aged man, seventeen years after, did see the
flames gather round himself, that he did not call to mind what time he
preached, playing the fool, as he saith, before a man in like agonies,
and never urged so much as one word against his sentence?"

"Marry, if he did not," said one, whom I take to have been Sir
Christopher Wray, who had been a silent listener until then, "if his
conscience pricked him not thereon, it must needs have been by the
same rule as the lawyer used to the countryman, who did put to him
this question: 'Sir, if my cow should stray into your field and feed
there one whole day, what should be the law touching compensation
therefor?' 'Marry, friend, assuredly to pay the damage to the full,
which thou art bounden at once to do.' 'Ay,' quoth the countryman;
'but 'tis your cow hath strayed into my field.' Upon which, 'Go to, go
to,' cries the lawyer; 'for I warrant thee that doth altogether alter
the law.'"

Some smiled, and others murmured at this story; and meanwhile one of
the company, who from his dress I perceived to be a minister, and
moreover to hold some dignity in the Protestant Church, rose from his
place, and crossing the room, came up to Mr. Roper (for that bold
speaker was no other than Sir Thomas More's son-in--law, whose great
charity and goodness I had often heard of), and, shaking hands with
him, said: "I be of the same mind with you, friend Roper, in every
word you have uttered tonight. And I pray to God my soul may be with
yours after this life, and our end in heaven, albeit I should not sail
there in the same boat with thou."

"Good Mr. Dean," quoth Mr. Roper, "I do say amen to your prayer." and
then he added somewhat in a low voice, and methinks it was that there
is but one ship chartered for safety in such a voyage.

At the which the other shook his head and waved his hand, and then
calling to him a youth not more than twelve or thirteen years old, his
son, he did present him to Mr. Roper. I had observed this young
gentleman to listen, with an eagerness betokening more keenness for
information than is usually to be found in youths of his years, to the
discourses held that evening. His father told Mr. Roper that this his
son's parts and quick apprehension in learning did lead him to hope he
should be one day, if it pleased God, an ornament to the church. Mr.
Roper smiled as he saluted the youth, and said a few words to him,
which he answered very readily. I never saw again that father or that
son. The one was Dr. Mathews, whom the queen made Bishop of Durham;
and the other, Toby Mathews, his son, who was reconciled some years
ago, and, as I have heard from some, is now a Jesuit.

The venerable aspect of the good Mr. Roper so engaged my thoughts,
that I asked Lady Tregony, by whose side I was sitting, if she was
acquainted with him, and if his virtue was as great as his appearance
was noble. She smiled, and answered that his appearance, albeit
honorable and comely, was not one half so honorable as his life had
been, or so comely as his mind. That he had been the husband of Sir
Thomas More's never-to-be-forgotten daughter, Margaret, whose memory
he so reverently did cherish that he had never so much as thought of a
second marriage; and of late years, since he had resigned the office
of sub-notary in the Queen's Bench to his son, he did give his whole
substance and his time to the service of the poor, and especially to
prisoners, by reason of which he was called the staff of the
sorrowful, and sure refuge of the afflicted. Now, then, I looked on
the face of this good aged man with a deeper reverence than
heretofore. Now I longed to be favored with so  much of his
notice as one passing word. Now I watched for an opportunity to
compass my desire, and I thank God not without effect; for I do count
it as a chief blessing to have been honored, during the remaining
years of this virtuous gentleman's life, with so much of his
condescending goodness, that if the word friendship may be used in
regard to such affectionate feelings as can exist between one verging
on four-score years of age and of such exalted merit, and a foolish
creature yet in her teens, whom he honored with his notice, it should
be so in this instance; wherein on the one side a singular reverence
and humble great affection did arise almost on first acquaintance, and
on the other so much benignity and goodness shown in the pains taken
to cultivate such good dispositions as had been implanted in this
young person's heart by careful parents, and to guard her mind against
the evils of the times, that nothing could be greater.

Mr. Roper chancing to come near us, Lady Tregony said somewhat, which
caused him to address me in this wise:

"And are there, then, maidens in these days not averse to the sight of
gray hairs, and who mislike not to converse with aged men?"

This was said with so kindly a smile that timidity vanished, and
confidence took its place.

"Oh, sir," I cried, "when I was not so much as five years old, my good
father showed me a picture of Sir Thomas More, and told me he was a
man of such angelic wit as England never had the like before, nor is
ever like to have again, and of a most famous and holy memory; and
methinks, sir, that you, being his son-in-law, who knew his doings and
his mind so well, and lived so long in his house, must needs in many
things resemble him."

"As to his doings and his mind," Mr. Roper replied, "no man living
knoweth them so well, and if my mean wit, memory, and knowledge could
serve me now, could declare so much thereof. But touching resemblance,
alas! there was but one in all the world that represented the likeness
of his virtues and perfections; one whom he loved in a particular
manner, and who was worthiest of that love more than any creature God
has made."

Here the good man's voice faltered a little, and he made a stop in his
discourse; but in a little while said that he had thought it behoved
him to set down in writing such matters concerning Sir Thomas's life
as he could then call to remembrance, and that he would lend me the
manuscript to read, which I did esteem an exceeding great favor, and
one I could not sufficiently thank him for. Then he spoke somewhat of
the times, which were waxing every day more troublesome, and told me
he often called to mind a conversation he once had with Sir Thomas,
walking along the side of the Thames at Chelsea, which he related in
these words:

"'Now would to God, my son Roper,' quoth Sir Thomas, 'I were put in a
sack, and presently cast into the Thames, upon condition that three
things were well established throughout Christendom.' 'And what mighty
things are those, sir?' I asked. Whereupon he: 'Wouldst thou know, son
Roper, what they be?' 'Yea, marry, sir, with a good will, if it please
you,' quoth I. 'I' faith, son, they be these,' he said: 'The first is
that, whereas the most part of Christian princes are at mortal wars,
they were all at peace; the second that, whereas the church of Christ
is at present sorely afflicted with so many heresies, it were settled
in perfect uniformity of religion; the third that, where the matter of
the king's marriage is now come in question, it were, to the glory of
God and the quietness of all parties, brought to a good conclusion.'
'Ay, sir,' quoth I, 'those were indeed three things greatly to be
desired; but'--I continued with a certain joy--'where shall one see a
happier state than in this realm, that has so Catholic a prince that
no heretic  durst show his face; so virtuous and learned a
clergy; so grave and sound a nobility; and so loving, obedient
subjects, all in one faith agreeing together?' 'Truth it is indeed,
son Roper,' quoth he; and in all degrees and estates of the same went
far beyond me in commendation thereof. 'And yet, son Roper, I pray
God,' said he, 'that some of us, as high as we seem to sit on the
mountains, treading heretics under our feet like ants, live not the
day that we would gladly be at league and composition with them, to
let them have their churches quietly to themselves, so that they would
be contented to let us have ours quietly to ourselves.' After I had
told him many considerations why he had no cause to say so: 'Well,'
said he, 'I pray God, son Roper, some of us will live not to see that
day.' To whom I replied: 'By my troth, sir, it is very desperately
spoken.' These vile terms, I cry God mercy, did I give him, who,
perceiving me to be in a passion, said merrily unto me, 'It shall not
be so; it shall not be so.' In sixteen years and more, being in the
house conversing with him, I could not perceive him to be so much as
once out of temper."

This was the first of many conversations I held, during the years I
lived in Holborn, with this worthy gentleman, who was not more pleased
to relate, than I to hear, sundry anecdotes concerning Sir Thomas
More, his house, and his family.

Before he left me that day, I did make bold to ask him if he feared
not ill consequences from the courageous words he had used in a mixed,
yea rather, with few exceptions, wholly adverse, company.

"Not much," he answered. "Mine age; the knowledge that there are those
who would not willingly see me roughly handled, and have power to
prevent it; and withal no great concern, if it should be so, to have
my liberty constrained, yea, my life shortened by a few years, or
rather days,--doth move me to a greater freedom of speech than may
generally be used, and a notable indifference to the results of such
freedom."

Having whispered the like fears I had expressed to him to Lady
Tregony, she did assure me his confidence was well based, and that he
had connexions which would by no means suffer him to be thrown into
prison, which should be the fate of any one else in that room who had
spoken but one half, yea one tenth part, as boldly as he had ventured
on.


CHAPTER XII.

It was some time before I could restore myself to my countenance,
after so much moving discourse, so as to join with spirit in the
sports and the dancing which did ensue among the young people that
evening. But sober thoughts and painful themes after a while gave
place to merriment; and the sound of music, gay tattle, and cheerful
steps lured me to such enjoyment as youth is wont to take in these
kinds of pastimes. It was too much my wont to pursue with eagerness
the present humor, and drink deeply of innocent pleasure wherein no
harm should exist if enjoyed with moderation. But like in a horse on
whose neck the bridle is cast, what began in a gentle ambling ends in
wild gallopping; so lawful merriment, if unrestrained, often ends in
what is unbeseeming, and in some sort blameable. So this time, when
dancing tired, a ring was formed for conversation, and the choice of
the night's pastime yielded to my discretion; alack, rather to my
imprudence and folly, methinks I might style it. I chose that
arguments should be held by two persons of the company, turn by turn,
and that a judge should be named to allot a reward to the worthiest,
and a penance to the worst. This liked them all exceedingly, and by
one consent they appointed me to be judge, and to summon such as
should dispute.  There were there two young gentlemen which
haunted our house, and Lady Ingoldby's also. One was Martin Tregony,
Lady Tregony's nephew, an ill-favored young man, with manners worse
than his face, and so apish and foppish in his dress and behavior,
that no young woman could abide him, much less would receive his
addresses, or if she did entertain him in conversation, it was to make
sport of his so great conceit. He had an ill-natured kind of wit, more
sharp than keen, more biting than sarcastic. He studied the art of
giving pain, and oftentimes did cause shamefaced merit to blush. The
other was Mr. Thomas Sherwood, who, albeit not very near in blood to
my father, was, howsoever, of the same family as ourselves. He had
been to the English College in Douay, and had brought me tidings a
short time back of my father and Edmund Genings' safe arrival thither,
and afterward came often to see us, and much frequented Lady Tregony's
house. He had exceedingly good parts, but was somewhat diffident and
bashful. Martin Tregony was wont to make him a mark, as it were, of
his ill-natured wit, and did fancy himself to be greatly his superior
in sharpness, partly because Mr. Sherwood's disposition was retiring,
and partly that he had too much goodness and sense to bandy words with
so ill-mannered a young man. I pray you who read this, could aught be
more indiscreet than, in a thoughtless manner, to have summoned these
two to dispute? which nevertheless I did, thinking some sport should
arise out of it, to see Master Martin foisted in argument by one he
despised, and also from his extravagant gestures and affected
countenances. So I said:

"Master Tregony, your task shall be to dispute with Master Sherwood;
and this the theme of your argument, 'The Art of Tormenting.' He who
shall describe the nicest instances of such skill, when exercised by a
master toward his servant, a parent to his child, a husband to his
wife, a wife to her husband, a lover to his mistress, or a friend to
his friend, shall be proclaimed victorious; and his adversary submit
to such penance as the court shall inflict."

Master Sherwood shook his head for to decline to enter these lists;
but all the young gentlemen and ladies cried, he should not be
suffered to show contempt of the court, and forced him to stand up.

Master Martin was nothing loth, and in his ill-favored countenance
there appeared a made smile, which did indicate an assurance of
victory; so he began:

"The more wit a man hath, the better able he shall be at times to
torment another; so I do premise, and at the outset of this argument
declare, that to blame a man for the exercise of a talent he doth
possess is downright impiety, and that to wound another by the
pungency of home-thrusts in conversation is as just a liberty in an
ingenious man, as the use of his sword in a battle is to a soldier."

Mr. Sherwood upon this replied, that he did allow a public
disputation, appointed by meet judges, to come under the name of a
fair battle; but even in a battle (he said) generous combatants aim
not so much at wounding their adversaries, as to the disarming of
them; and that he who in private conversation doth make a weapon of
his tongue is like unto the man who provokes another to a single
combat, which for Christians is not lawful, and pierces him easily who
has less skill in wielding the sword than himself.

"Marry, sir," quoth Master Martin, "if you do bring piety into your
discourse, methinks the rules of just debate be not observed; for it
is an unfair thing for to overrule a man with arguments he doth not
dare to reply to under pain of spiritual censures."

"I cry you mercy, Master Martin," quoth the other; "you did bring in
_im_piety, and so methought piety should not be excluded." At the which
we all applauded, and Martin began to perceive his adversary to be
less  contemptible than he had supposed.

"Now to the point," I cried; "for exordiums be tedious. I pray you,
gentlemen, begin, and point out some notable fashion wherewith a
master might torment his servant."

Upon which quoth Martin: "If a man hath a sick servant, and doth note
his fancy to be set on some indulgence not of strict necessity, and
should therefore deny it to him, methinks that should be a rare
opportunity to exercise his talent."

"Nay," cried Master Sherwood, "a nicer one, and ever at hand
afterward, should be to show kindness once to a dependent when sick,
and to use him ten times the worse for it when he is well, upbraiding
him for such past favors, as if one should say: 'Alack, be as kind as
you will, see what return you do meet with!'"

This last piece of ingenuity was allowed by the court to surpass the
first. "Now," I cried, "what should be the greatest torment a parent
could inflict on a child?"

Martin answered: "If it should be fond of public diversion, to confine
it in-doors. If retirement suits its temper, to compel it abroad. If
it should delight in the theatre, to take it to see a good play, and
at the moment when the plot shall wax most moving, to say it must be
tired, and procure to send it home. Or, in more weighty matters,--a
daughter's marriage, for instance,--to detect if the wench hath set her
heart on one lover, and if so, to keep from her the knowledge of this
gentleman's addresses; and when she hath accepted another, to let her
know the first had sued for her hand, and been dismissed."

Here all the young gentlewomen did exclaim that Master Sherwood could
by no means think of a more skilful torment than this should prove. He
thought for an instant, and then said:

"It should be a finer and more delicate torment to stir up in a young
gentlewoman's mind suspicions of one she loved, and so work on her
natural passions of jealousy and pride, that she should herself, in a
hasty mood, discard her lover; and ever after, when the act was not
recallable, remind her she herself had wrought her own unhappiness,
and wounded one she loved."

"Yea, that should be worse than the first torment," all but one young
lady cried out; who, for her part, could better endure, she said, to
have injured herself than to be deceived, as in the first case.

"Then do come husbands," quoth Mr. Martin; "and I vow," he cried, "I
know not how to credit there be such vile wretches in the world as
should wish to torment their wives; but if such there be, methinks the
surest method they may practise is, to loving wives to show
indifferency; to such as be jealous, secrecy; to such as be pious,
profaneness; and the like in all the points whereon their affections
are set."

"Alack!" cried Mistress Frances Bellamy, "what a study the man hath
made of this fine art! Gentlewomen should needs beware of such a one
for a husband. What doth Master Sherwood say?"

Whereupon he: "Methinks the greatest torment a husband might inflict
on a worthy wife should be to dishonor her love by his baseness; or if
he had injured her, to doubt her proneness to forgive."

"And wives," quoth Mistress Southwell,--"what of their skill therein,
gentlemen?"

"It be such," cried Martin, "as should exceed men's ability thereof to
speak. The greatest instance of talent of this sort I have witnessed
is in a young married lady, whose husband is very willing to stay in
his house or go abroad, or reside in town, or at his seat in the
country, as should most please her, so she would let him know her
wishes. But she is so artful in concealing them, that the poor man can
never learn so much as should cause him to guess what they may be; but
with a meek voice she doth reply to his asking, 'An it please you,
sir, let it  be as you choose, for you very well know I never do
oppose your will.' Then if he resolve to leave town, she maketh not
much ado till they have rode twenty or thirty miles out of London.
Then she doth begin to sigh and weep, for that she should be a most
ill-used creature, and her heart almost broken for to leave her
friends, and be shut up for six months in a swamp, for such she doth
term his estate; and if she should not have left London that same day,
she should have been at the Lord Mayor's banquet, and seen the French
princes, which, above all things, she had desired. But some husbands
be so hard-hearted, if they can hunt and hawk, 'tis little count they
make of their wives' pleasures. Then when she hath almost provoked the
good man to swear, she hangeth down her head and saith, 'Content you,
sir--content you; 'tis your good fortune to have an obedient wife.'
And so mopes all the time of the journey."

Whilst Martin was speaking, I noted a young gentlewoman who did deeply
blush whilst he spoke, and tears came into her eyes. I heard afterward
she had been lately married, and that he counterfeited her voice in so
precise a manner, so that all such as knew her must needs believe her
to be the wife he spoke of; and that there was so much of truth in the
picture he had drawn, as to make it seem a likeness, albeit most
unjust toward one who, though apt to boast of her obedience, and to
utter sundry trifling complaints, was a fond wife and toward lady to
her dear husband; and that this malice in Mr. Tregony, over and above
his wonted spite, was due to her rejection of his hand some short time
before her marriage. Master Sherwood, seeing the ungracious
gentleman's ill-nature and the lady's confusion, stood up the more
speedily to reply, and so cut him short. "I will relate," he said, "a
yet more ingenious practice of tormenting, which should seem the
highest proof of skill in a wife, albeit also practised by husbands,
only not so aptly, or peradventure so often. And this is when one hath
offered to another a notable insult or affront, so to turn the tables,
even as a conjuror the cards he doth handle, that straightway the
offended party shall seem to be the offender, and be obliged to sue
forgiveness for that wherein he himself is hurt. I pray you, gentlemen
and ladies, can anything more ingenious than this practice be thought
on?"

All did admit it to be a rare example of ability in tormenting; but
some objected it was not solely exercised by wives and husbands, but
that friends, lovers, and all sorts of persons might use it. Then one
gentleman called for some special instance of the art in lovers. But
another said it was a natural instinct, and not an art, in such to
torment one another, and likewise their own selves, and proposed the
behavior of friends in that respect as a more new and admirable theme.

"Ah," quoth Master Martin, with an affected wave of his hand, "first
show me an instance of a true friendship betwixt ladies, or a sincere
affection betwixt gentlemen; and then it will be time for to describe
the arts whereby they do plague and torment each other."

Mr. Sherwood answered, "A French gentleman said, a short time since,
that it should be a piece of commendable prudence to live with your
friend as looking that he should one day be your enemy. Now we be
warranted, by Master Tregony's speech, to conclude his friendships to
be enmities in fair disguise; and the practices wherewith friends
torment each other no doubt should apply to this case also; and so his
exceptions need in no wise alter the theme of our argument. I pray
you, sir, begin, and name some notable instance in which, without any
apparent breach of friendship, the appearance of which is in both
instances supposed, one may best wound his friend, or, as Mr. Tregony
hath it, the disguised object of his hatred."

I noticed that Master Martin glanced  maliciously at his
adversary, and then answered, "The highest exercise of such ability
should be, methinks, to get possession of a secret which your friend,
_or disguised enemy_, has been at great pains to conceal, and to let
him know, by such means as shall hold him in perpetual fear, but never
in full assurance of the same, that you have it in your power to
accuse him at any time of that which should procure him to be thrown
into prison, or maybe hanged on a gibbet."

A paleness spread over Master Sherwood's face, not caused, I ween, by
fear so much as by anger at the meanness of one who, from envy and
spite, even in the freedom of social hours, should hint at secrets so
weighty as would touch the liberty, yea, the life, of one he called
his friend; and standing up, he answered, whilst I, now too late
discerning mine own folly in the proposing of a dangerous pastime,
trembled in every limb.

"I know," quoth he,--"I know a yet more ingenious instance of the
skill of a malicious heart. To hang a sword over a friend's head, and
cause him to apprehend its fall, must needs be a well-practised
device; but if it be done in so skilful a manner that the weapon shall
threaten not himself alone, but make him, as it were, the instrument
of ruin to others dearer to him than his own life,--if, by the
appearance of friendship, the reality of which such a heart knoweth
not, he hath been to such confidence as shall be the means of sorrow
to those who have befriended him in another manner than this false
friend, this true foe,--the triumph is then complete. Malice and hatred
can devise naught beyond it."

Martin's eyes glared so fearfully, and his voice sounded so hoarse, as
he hesitated in answering, that, in a sort of desperation, I stood up,
and cried, "Long enough have these two gentlemen had the talk to
themselves. Verily, methinks there be no conqueror, but a drawn game
in this instance."

But a murmur rose among the company that Master Sherwood was
victorious, and Master Tregony should do penance.

"What shall it be?" was asked; and all with one voice did opine Master
Sherwood should name it, for he was as much beloved as Master Tregony
was misliked. He (Sherwood), albeit somewhat inwardly moved, I ween,
had restrained his indignation, and cried out merrily, "Marry, so will
I! Look me in the face, Martin, and give me thy hand. This shall be
thy penance."

The other did so; but a fiendly look of resentment was in his eyes;
and methinks Thomas Sherwood must needs have remembered the grasp of
his hand to forgive it, I doubt not, even at the foot of the scaffold.

From that day Martin Tregony conceived an implacable hatred for Master
Sherwood, whom he had feigned a great friendship for on his first
arrival in London, because he hoped, by his means and influence with
his aunt, to procure her to pay his debts. But after he had thrown off
the mask, he only waited for an opportunity to denounce him, being
privy to his having brought a priest to Lady Tregony's house, who had
also said mass in her chapel. So one day meeting him in the streets,
he cried out, "Stop the traitor! stop the traitor!" and so causing him
to be apprehended, had him before the next justice of the peace;
where, when they were come, he could allege nothing against him, but
that he suspected him to be a Papist. Upon which he was examined
concerning his religion, and, refusing to admit the queen's
church-headship, he was cast into a dungeon in the Tower. His lodgings
were plundered, and £25, which he had amassed, as I knew, who had
assisted him to procure it, for the use of his aged and sick father,
who had been lately cast into prison in Lancaster, was carried off
with the rest. He was cruelly racked, we heard, for that he would not
reveal where he had heard mass; and kept  in a dark filthy hole,
where he endured very much from hunger, stench, and cold. No one being
allowed to visit him--for the Tower was not like some other prisons
where Mistress Ward and others could sometimes penetrate--or afford
him any comfort, Mr. Roper had, by means of another prisoner, conveyed
to his keeper some money for his use; but the keeper returned it the
next day, because the lieutenant of the Tower would not suffer him to
have the benefit of it. All he could be prevailed upon to do was to
lay out one poor sixpence for a little fresh straw for him to lie on.
About six months after, he was brought to trial, and condemned to die,
for denying the queen's supremacy, and was executed at Tyburn,
according to sentence, being cut down whilst he was yet alive,
dismembered, bowelled, and quartered.

Poor Lady Tregony's heart did almost break at this his end and her
kinsman's part in it; and during those six months--for she would not
leave London whilst Thomas Sherwood was yet alive--I did constantly
visit her, almost every day, and betwixt us there did exist a sort of
fellowship in our sorrow for this worthy young man's sufferings; for
that she did reproach herself for lack of prudence in not sufficient
distrust of her own nephew, whom now she refused to see, at least, she
said, until he had repented of his sin, which he, glorying in, had
told her, the only time they had met, he should serve her in the same
manner, and if he could ever find out she heard mass, should get her a
lodging in the Tower, and for himself her estate in Norfolk, whither
she was then purposing to retire, and did do so after Master
Sherwood's execution. For mine own part, as once before my father's
apprehended danger had diverted my mind from childish folly, so did
the tragical result of an entertainment, wherein I had been carried
away by thoughtless mirth, somewhat sicken me of company and sports. I
went abroad not much the next year; only was often at Mr. Wells's
house, and in Hubert's society, which had become so habitual to me
that I was almost persuaded the pleasure I took therein proceeded from
a mutual inclination, and I could observe with what jealousy he
watched any whom I did seem to speak with or allow of any civility at
their hands. Even Master Sherwood he would jalouse, if he found me
weeping over his fate; and said he was happier in prison, for whom
such tears did flow, than he at liberty, for whom I showed no like
regard. "Oh," I would answer, "he is happy because, Master Rookwood,
his sufferings are for his God and his conscience' sake, and not such
as arise from a poor human love. Envy him his faith, his patience, his
hope, which make him cry out, as I know he doth, 'O my Lord Jesu! I am
not worthy that I should suffer these things for thee;' and not the
compassionate tears of a paltry wench that in some sort was the means
to plunge him in these straits."

In the spring of the year which did follow, I heard from my father,
who had been ordained at the English College at Rheims, and was on the
watch, he advertised me, for an opportunity to return to England, for
to exercise the sacred ministry amongst his poor Catholic brethren.
But at which port he should land, or whither direct his steps, if he
effected a safe landing, he dared not for to commit to paper. He said
Edmund Genings had fallen into a most dangerous consumption, partly by
the extraordinary pains he took in his studies, and partly in his
spiritual exercises, insomuch that the physicians had almost despaired
of his recovery, and that the president had in consequence resolved to
send him into England, to try change of air. That he had left Rheims
with great regret, and went on his journey, as far as Havre de Grace,
and, after a fortnight's stay in that place, having prayed to God very
heartily for the recovery of his health, so that he might return, and,
without further  delay, continue his studies for the priesthood,
he felt himself very much better, almost as well as ever he was in his
life; upon which he returned to his college, and took up again, with
exceeding great fervor, his former manner of life; "and," my father
added, "his common expression, as often as talk is ministered of
England and martyrdom there, is this: _'Vivamus in spe! Vivamus in
spe!_'"

This letter did throw me into an exceeding great apprehension that my
father might fall into the hands of the queen's officers at any time
he should land, and the first news I should hear of him to be that he
was cast into prison. And as I knew no Catholic priest could dwell in
England with out he did assume a feigned name, and mostly so one of
his station, and at one time well noted as a gentleman and a recusant,
I now never heard of any priest arrested in any part of England but I
feared it should be him.

Hubert Rookwood was now more than ever at Mr. Lacy's house, and in his
library, for they did both affection the same pursuits, albeit with
very different abilities; and I was used to transcribe for them divers
passages from manuscripts and books, taking greater pleasure, so to
spend time, than to embroider in Kate's room, the compass of whose
thoughts became each day more narrow, and her manner of talk more
tasteless. Hubert seemed not well pleased when I told him my father
had been ordained abroad. I gathered this from a troubled look in his
eyes, and an increasing paleness, which betokened, to my now observant
eyes, emotions which he gave not vent to in words at all, or leastways
in any that should express strong resentment. His silence always
frighted me more than anger in others. He had acquired a great
influence over me, and, albeit I was often ill at ease in his company,
I ill brooked his absence. He was a zealous Catholic, and did adduce
arguments and proofs in behalf of his religion with rare ability. Some
of his writings which I copied at that time had a cogency and
clearness in their reasons and style, which in my poor judgment
betokened a singular sharp understanding and ingenuity of learning;
but in his conversation, and writings also, was lacking the fervency
of spirit, the warmth of devout aims, the indifferency to worldly
regards, which should belong to a truly Christian soul, or else the
nobleness and freedom of speech which some do possess from natural
temper. But his attainments were far superior to those of the young
men I used to see at Mr. Wells's, and such as gave him an
extraordinary reputation amongst the persons I was wont to associate
with, which contributed not a little to the value I did set on his
preference, of which no proofs were wanting, save an open paying of
his addresses to me, which by reason of his young age and mine, and
the poorness of his prospects, being but a younger son of a country
gentleman, was easy of account. He had a great desire for wealth and
for all kind of greatness, and used to speak of learning as a road to
it.

In the spring of that year, my Lord Surrey left Cambridge, and came to
live at Howard House with his lady. They were then both in their
eighteenth years, and a more comely pair could not be seen. The years
that had passed since she had left London had greatly matured her
beauty. She was taller of stature than the common sort, and very fair
and graceful. The earl was likewise tall, very straight, long-visaged,
but of a pleasant and noble countenance. I could not choose but admire
her perfect carriage, toward her lord, her relatives, and her
servants; the good order she established in her house; the care she
took of her sister's education, who in two years was to be married to
Lord William Howard; and her great charity to the poor, which she then
began to visit herself, and to relieve in all sorts of ways, and was
wont to say the angels of that old house where God had been served by
so many prayers and alms must needs assist her in her care for
those in trouble. My lord appeared exceedingly fond of her then. One
day when I was visiting her ladyship, he asked me if I had read the
life of that sweet holy Queen Elizabeth of Hungary; and as I said I
had not met with it, he gifted me with a copy fairly printed and well
ornamented, which Mr. Martin had left behind him when he went beyond
seas, and said:

"Mistress Sherwood, see if in this book you find not the likeness of a
lady which you mislike not any more than I do. Beshrew me, but I fear
I may find some day strange guests in mine house if she do copy the
pattern herein set down; and so I will e'en send the book out of the
house, for my lady is too good for me already, and I be no fitting
husband for a saint, which a very little more of virtue should make
her."

And so he laughing, and she prettily checking his wanton speech, and
such sweet loving looks and playful words passing between them as
gladdened my heart to see.

Some time after, I found one day my Lady Surrey looking somewhat grave
and thoughtful. She greeted me with an affectionate kiss, and said,

"Ah, sweet Constance, I be glad thou art come; for methinks we shall
soon leave London."

"So soon?" I answered.

"Not _too_ soon, dear Constance," she said somewhat sadly.

I did look wistfully in her sweet face. Methought there was trouble in
it, and doubt if she should further speak or not; for she rested her
head on her hand, and her dark eyes did fix themselves wistfully on
mine, as if asking somewhat of me, but what I knew not. "Constance,"
she said at last, "I have no mother, no sister of mine own age, no
brother, no ghostly father, to speak my mind to. Methinks it should
not be wrong to unbosom my cares to thee, who, albeit young, hast a
thoughtful spirit, and, as I have often observed, an aptness to give
good counsel. And then thou art of that way of thinking wherein I was
brought up, and though in outward show we now do differ, I am not
greatly changed therein, as thou well knowest."

"Alack!" I cried, "too well I do know it, dear lady; and, albeit my
tongue is silent thereon, my heart doth grieve to see you comfortless
of that which is the sole source of true comfort."

"Tis not that troubles me," she answered, a little impatiently. "Thou
art unreasonable, Constance. My duty to my lord shapes my outward
behavior; but I have weighty cares, nevertheless. Dost thou mind that
passage in the late duke our father's letter to his son and me?--that
we should live in a lower degree, and out of London and from the
court. Methinks a prophetic spirit did move him thus to write. My lord
has a great heart and a generous temper, and loves to spend money in
all sorts of ways, profitable and unprofitable, as I too well observe
since we have been in London. And the queen sent him a store of
messages by my Lord Essex, and others of his friends, that she was
surprised not to see him at court; and that it was her highness's
pleasure he should wait upon her, and she shall show him so much favor
as he deserves, and such like inducements."

"And hath my lord been to court?" I asked.

"Yea, he hath been," she answered, sighing deeply. "He hath been
forced to kiss the hand which signed his father's death-warrant.
Constance, it is this which doth so pain me, that her majesty should
think he hath in his heart no resentment of that mishap. She said to
my Lady Berkeley some days since, when she sued for some favor at her
hands, 'No, no, my Lady Berkeley; you love us not, and never will. You
cannot forgive us your brother's death.' Why should her grace think a
son hath less resentment of a father's loss than a sister?"

Willing to minister comfort to her touching that on which I did,
nevertheless, but too much consent to her thinking, I said, "In my
lord's case, he must have needs appeared to mislike  the queen
and her government if he stayed away from court, and his duty to his
sovereign compelleth him to render her so much homage as is due to her
majesty."

"Yea," cried my lady, "I be of the same mind with thee, that if my
lord do live in London he is in a manner forced to swim with the tide,
and God only knoweth into what a flood of troubles he may thus be led.
But I have prevailed on him to go to Kenninghall, and there to enjoy
that retired life his father passionately wished him to be contented
with. So I do look, if it please God, to happy days when we leave this
great city, where so many and great dangers beset us."

"Have you been to court likewise, dear lady?" I asked; and she
answered,

"No; her majesty doth deny me that privilege which the wife of a
nobleman should enjoy without so much as the asking for it. My Lord
Arundel and my Lord Sussex are mad thereon, and swear 'tis the gipsy's
doing, as they do always title Lord Leicester, and a sign of his
hatred to my lord. But I be not of their mind; for methinks he doth
but aid my lord to win the queen's favor by the slights which are put
on his wife, which, if he doth take patiently, must needs secure for
him such favor as my Lord Leicester should wish, if report speaks
truly, none should enjoy but himself."

"But surely," I cried, "my lord's spirit is too noble to stomach so
mean a treatment of his lady?"

A burning blush spread over the countess's face, and she answered,

"Constance, nobility of soul is shaped into action by divers motives
and influences. And, I pray thee, since his father's death and the
loss of his first tutor, who hath my lord had to fashion the aims of
his eager spirit to a worthy ambition, and teach him virtuous
contentment with a meaner rank and lower fortunes than his birth do
entitle him to? He chafes to be degraded, and would fain rise to the
heights his ancestors occupied; and, alas! the ladder which those who
beset him--for that they would climb after him--do ever set before his
eyes is the queen's majesty's favor. 'Tis the breath of their
nostrils, the perpetual theme of their discourse. Mine ears sometimes
ache with the sound of their oft-repeated words."

Then she broke off her speech for an instant, but soon asked me if to
consult fortune-tellers was not a sin.

"Yea," I answered, "the Church doth hold it to be unlawful."

"Ah!" she replied, "I would to God my lord had never resorted to a
person of that sort, which hath filled his mind with an apprehension
which will work us great evil, if I do mistake not."

"Alas!" I said, "hath my lord been so deluded?"

"Thou hast heard, I ween," my lady continued, "of one Dr. Dee, whom
the queen doth greatly favor, and often charge him to cast her
horoscope. Some time ago my lord was riding with her majesty and the
most part of her court near unto this learned gentleman's house at
Mortlake, which her highness, taking notice of, she must needs propose
to visit him with all her retinue, in order, she said, to examine his
library and hold conference with him. But learning that his wife had
been buried only four hours, her majesty would not enter, but desired
my Lord Leicester to take her down from her horse at the church-wall
at Mortlake and to fetch the doctor unto her, who did bring out for
her grace's inspection his magic-glass, of which she and all those
with her did see some of the properties. Several of the noblemen
thereunto present were greatly contented and delighted with this
cunning witchery, and did agree to visit again, in a private manner,
this learned man, for to have their nativities calculated; and my
lord, I grieve to say, went with them. And this cheat or wizard, for
methinks one or other of those names must needs belong to him,
predicted to my lord that he should be in great danger to be
overthrown by a woman. And, I  ween, good Constance, there was a
craft in this most deep and deceptive, for doth it not tend, whichever
way it be understood, to draw and urge onward my lord to a careful
seeking to avoid this danger by a diligent serving and waiting on her
majesty, if she be the woman like to undo him, or else to move him to
the thought that his marriage--as I doubt not many endeavor to
insinuate into his mind--should be an obstacle to her favor such as
must needs mar his fortunes? Not that my lord hath breathed so much as
one such painful word in my hearing, or abated in his kind behavior;
but there are others who be not slow to hint so much to myself; and, I
pray you, shall they not then deal with him in the same manner, albeit
he is too noble and gentle to let me hear of it? But since that day he
is often thoughtful when we are alone, and his mind ever running on
means to propitiate her majesty, and doth send her many presents, the
value of which should rather mark them as gifts from one royal person
to another than from a subject to his prince. O Constance, I would
Kenninghall were a thousand miles from London, and a wild sea to run
between it and the court, such as could with difficulty be crossed;
but 'tis vain wishing; and I thank God my lord should be willing to
remove there, and so we shall be in quiet."

"God send it!" I answered; "and that you, my sweet lady, may find
there all manner of contentment." Then I asked her ladyship if she had
tidings of my Lady l'Estrange.

"Yea," she answered; "excellent good tidings, for that she was a
contented wife to a loving husband. Sir Hammond," she said, "hath a
most imperious temper, and, as I hear, doth not brook the least
contradiction; so that a woman less mild and affectionate than
Milicent should not, I ween, live at peace with him. But her sweet
temper doth move her to such strict condescension to his humors, that
she doth style herself most fortunate in marriage and a singular happy
wife. Dost mind Master Chaucer's tale of the patient Grizzel, which
Phil read to me some years back, soon after our first marriage, for to
give me a lesson on wifely duty, and which I did then write to thee
the story of?"

"Yea, well," I cried; "and that I was so angered at her patience,
which methought was foolish, yea, wicked in its excess, that it did
throw me into a passion."

My lady laughed and said, indeed she thought so too; but Milicent, in
her behavior and the style of her letters, did mind her so much of
that singular obedient wife, that she did sometimes call her Grizzel
to her face. "She is now gone to reside with her husband," she said,
"at a seat of his not very far from Lynn. 'Tis a poor and wild
district; and the people, I hear, do resort to her in great numbers
for assistance in the way of medicine and surgery, and for much help
of various sorts. She is greatly contented that her husband doth in
nowise impede her in these charitable duties, but rather the contrary.
She is a creature of such natural good impulses and compassionate
spirit that must needs show kindness to all who do come in her way."

Then my lady questioned me touching Muriel and Mistress Ward, and Kate
and Polly, who were now both married; and I told her Kate had a fair
son and Polly a little daughter, like to prove as sharp as her mother
if her infant vivacity did not belie her. As to Muriel and her guide
and friend, I told her ladyship that few were like to have speech with
them, save such as were in so destitute a condition that nothing could
exceed it. Now that my two elder cousins had left home, mine uncle's
house was become a sort of refuge for the poor, and an hospital for
distressed Catholics.

"And thou, Constance," my lady said, "dost thou not think on
marriage?"

I smiled and answered I did sometimes; but had not yet met with any
one altogether conformable to my liking.


"Not Mr. Hubert Rookwood?" she said smiling; "I have been told he
haunts Mrs. Lacy's house, and would fain be admitted as Mistress
Sherwood's suitor."

"I will not deny," I answered, "but that he doth testify a vast regard
for me, or that he is a gentleman of such great parts and exceedingly
winning speech that a gentlewoman should be flattered to be addressed
by him; but, dear lady," I continued, opening my heart to her, "albeit
I relish greatly his society, mine heart doth not altogether incline
to his suit; and Mr. Congleton hath lately warned me to be less free
in allowing of his attentions than hath hitherto been my wont; for, he
said, his means be so scanty, that it behoveth him not to think of
marriage until his fortunes do improve; and that his father would not
be competent to make such settlements as should be needful in such a
case, or without which he should suffer us to marry. As Hubert had
never opened to me himself thereon in so pointed a fashion as to
demand an answer from me, I was somewhat surprised at mine uncle's
speech; but I found he had often ministered talk of his passion for
me--for so he termed it--to Kate and her husband."

"And did it work in thee, sweet one, no regrets," my lady asked, "that
the course of this poor gentleman's true love should be marred by his
lack of wealth?"

"In truth no, dear lady," I replied; "except that I did notice, with
so much of pain as a good heart must needs feel in the sufferings of
another, that he was both sad and wroth at the change in my manner.
And indeed I had always seen--and methinks this was the reason that my
heart inclined not warmly toward his suit--that his affection was of
that sort that doth readily breed anger; and that if he had occasion
to misdoubt a return from me of such-like regard as he professed, his
looks of love sometimes changed into a scowl, or something nearly
resembling one. Yet I had a kindness toward him, yea, more than a
kindness, an attachment, which methinks should have led me to
correspond to his affection so far as to be willing to marry him, if
mine uncle had not forbade me to think on it; but since he hath laid
his commands upon me on that point, methinks I have experienced a
freedom of soul and a greater peace than I had known for some time
past."

"'Tis well then as it is," my lady said; and after some further
discourse we parted that day.

It had been with me even as I had said to her. My mind had been more
at ease since the contending would and would not, the desire to please
Hubert and the fear to be false in so doing, had been stayed,--and
mostly since he had urged me to entertain him as a friend, albeit
defended to receive him as a lover. And that peace lasted until a
day--ay, a day which began like other days with no perceptible
presentiment of joy or sorrow, the sun shining as brightly, and no
more, at its rise than on any other morning in June; and the
thunder-clouds toward noon overshadowing its glory not more darkly
than a storm is wont to do the clear sky it doth invade; nor yet
evening smiling again more brightly and peacefully than is usually
seen when nature's commotion is hushed, and the brilliant orb of day
doth sink to rest in a bed of purple glory; and yet that day did
herald the greatest joys, presage the greatest anguish, mark the most
mighty beginnings of most varied endings that can be thought of in the
life of a creature not altogether untried by sorrow, but on the brink
of deeper waters than she had yet sounded, on the verge of such
passages as to have looked forward to had caused her to tremble with a
two-fold resentment of hope and of fear, and to look back to doth
constrain her to lay down her pen awhile for to crave strength to
recount the same.


CHAPTER XIII.

One day there was a great deal of company at Mistress Wells's house,
which was the only one I then haunted, being as afore said, somewhat
sickened of society and diversions. The conversation which was mostly
ministered amongst such as visited there related to public affairs and
foreign countries, and not so much as in some other houses to private
scandals and the tattle of the town. The uncertainty I was in
concerning my father's present abode and his known intent soon to
cross over the sea from France worked in me a constant craving for
news from abroad, and also an apprehensive curiosity touching reports
of the landing of seminary priests at any of the English ports. Some
would often tarry at Mr. Wells's house for a night who had lately come
from Rheims or Paris, and even Rome, or leastways received letters
from such as resided in those distant parts. And others I met there
were persons who had friends at court; and they often related
anecdotes of the queen and the ministers, and the lords and ladies of
her household, which it also greatly concerned me to hear of, by
reason of my dearest friend having embarked her whole freight of
happiness in a frail vessel launched on that stormy sea of the court,
so full of shoals and quicksands, whereby many a fair ship was daily
chanced to be therein wrecked.

Nothing notable of this kind had been mentioned on the day I speak of,
which, howsoever, proved a very notable one to me. For after I had
been in the house a short time there came there one not known, and yet
it should seem not wholly unknown to me; for that I did discover in
his shape and countenance something not unfamiliar, albeit I could not
call to mind that I had ever seen this gentleman before. I asked his
name of a young lady who sat near to me, and she said she thought he
should be the elder brother of Mr. Hubert Rookwood, who was lodging in
the house, and that she heard he tabled there also since he had come
to town, and that he was a very commendable person, above the common
sort, albeit not one of such great parts as his brother. Then I did
instantly take note of the likeness between the brothers which had
made the elder's face not strange to me, as also perhaps that one
sight of him I had at Bedford some years before. Their visages were
very like; but their figures and mostly their countenances different.
I cannot say wherein that great differency did lie; but methinks every
one must have seen, or rather felt it. Basil was the tallest and the
handsomest of the twain. I will not be so great a prodigal of time as
to bestow it on commendations of his outward appearance whose inward
excellences were his chiefest merit. Howsoever, I be minded to set
down in this place somewhat touching his appearance; as it may so
happen that some who read this history, and who have known and loved
Basil in his old years, should take as much pleasure in reading as I
do in writing the description of his person, and limning as it were
the resemblance of him at a period in this history wherein the
hitherto separate currents of his life and mine do meet, like a noble
river  and a poor stream, for to flow onward in the same channel.

Basil Rookwood was of a tall stature, and well-proportioned shape in
all parts. His hair of light brown, very thickly set, and of a sunny
hue, curled with a graceful wave. His head had many becoming motions.
His mouth was well-made, and his lips ruddy. His forehead not very
high, in which was a notable dissemblance from his brother. His nose
raised and somewhat sharply cut. His complexion clear and rosy; his
smile so full of cheer and kindliness that it infected others with
mirthfulness. He was very nimble and active in all his movements, and
well skilled in riding, fencing, and dancing. I pray you who have
known him in his late years, can you in aught, save in a never-altered
sweetness mixing with the dignity of age, trace in this picture a
likeness to Basil, your Basil and mine?

I care not, in writing this plain showing of mine own life, to use
such disguises as are observed in love-stories, whereby the reader is
kept ignorant of that which is to follow until in due time the course
of the tale doth unfold it. No, I may not write Basil's name as that
of a stranger. Not for the space of one page; nay, not with so much as
one stroke of my pen can I dissemble the love which had its dawn on
the day I have noted. It was sudden in its beginnings, yet steady in
its progress. It deepened and widened with the course of years, even
as a rivulet doth start with a lively force from its source, and,
gathering strength as it flows, grows into a broad and noble river. It
was ardent but not idolatrous; sudden, as I have said, in its rise,
but not unconsidered. It was founded on high esteem on the one side,
on the other an inexpressible tenderness and kindness. Religion,
honor, and duty were the cements of this love. No blind dotage; but a
deathless bond of true sympathy, making that equal which in itself was
unequal; for, if a vain world should have deemed that on the one side
there did appear some greater brilliancy of parts than showed in the
other, all who could judge of true merit and sound wisdom must needs
have allowed that in true merit Basil was as greatly her superior whom
he honored with his love, as is a pure diamond to the showy setting
which encases it.

Hubert presented to me his brother, who, when he heard my name
mentioned, would not be contented till he had got speech of me; and
straightway, after the first civilities had passed between us, began
to relate to me that he had been staying for a few days before coming
to town at Mr. Roper's house at Richmond, where I had often visited in
the summer. It so befel that I had left in the chamber where I slept
some of my books, on the margins of which were written such notes as I
was wont to make whilst reading, for so Hubert had advised me, and his
counsel in this I found very profitable; for this method teaches one
to reflect on what he reads, and to hold converse as it were with
authors whose friendship and company he thus enjoys, which is a source
of contentment more sufficient and lasting than most other pleasures
in this world.

Basil chanced to inhabit this room, and discovered on an odd by-shelf
these volumes so disfigured, or, as he said, so adorned; and took such
delight in the reading of them, but mostly in the poor reflections an
unknown pen had affixed to these pages, that he rested not until he
had learnt from Mr. Roper the name of the writer. When he found she
was the young girl he had once seen at Bedford, he marvelled at the
strong impulse he had toward her, and pressed the venerable gentleman
with so many questions relating to her that he feared he should have
wearied him  but his inquiries met with such gracious answers that he
perceived Mr. Roper to be as well pleased with the theme of his
discourse as himself, and as glad to set  forth her excellences (I
be ashamed to write the words which should indeed imply the speaker to
have been in his dotage, but for the excuse of a too great kindness to
an unworthy creature) as he had to listen to them. And here I must
needs interrupt my narrative to admire that one who was no scholar,
yea, no great reader at any time, albeit endowed with excellent good
sense and needful information, should by means of books have been
drawn to the first thoughts of her who was to enjoy his love which
never was given to any other creature but herself. But I pray you,
doth it not happen most often, though it is scarce to be credited,
that dissemblance in certain matters doth attract in the way of love
more than resemblance? That short men do choose tall wives; lovers of
music women who have no ear to discern one tune from another; scholars
witless housewives; retired men ambitious helpmates; and gay ladies
grave husbands? This should seem to be the rule, otherways the
exception; and a notable instance of the same I find in the first
motions which did incline Basil to a good opinion of my poor self.

But to return. "Mistress Sherwood," quoth Basil, "Mr. Roper did not
wholly praise you; he recited your faults as well as your virtues."

I answered, it did very much content me he should have done so, for
that then more credit should be given to his words in that wherein he
did commend me, since he was so true a friend as to note my defects.

"But what," quoth he, archly smiling, "if the faults he named are such
as pleased me as well as virtues?"

"Then," I replied, "methinks, sir, the fault should be rather in you
than in her who doth commit them, for she may be ignorant, or else
subject to some infirmity of temper; but to commend faults should be a
very dangerous error."

"But will you hear," quoth he, "your faults as Mr. Roper recited
them?"

"Yea, willingly," I answered, "and mend them also if I can."

"Oh, I pray you mend them not," he cried.

At which I laughed, and said he should be ashamed to give such wanton
advice. And then he:

"Mr. Roper declares you have so much inability to conceal your
thoughts that albeit your lips should be forcibly closed, your eyes
would speak them so clearly that any one who listed should read them."

"Methinks," I said, willing to excuse myself like the lawyer in the
gospel, "that should not be my fault, who made not mine own eyes."

"Then he also says, that you have so sharp an apprehension of wrongs
done to others, that if you hear of an injustice committed, or some
cruel treatment of any one, you are so moved and troubled, that he has
known you on such occasions to shed tears, which do not flow with a
like ease for your own griefs. Do you cry mercy to this accusation,
Mistress Sherwood?"

"Indeed," I answered, "God knoweth I do, and my ghostly father also.
For the strong passions of resentment touching the evil usage our
Catholics do meet with work in me so mightfully, that I often am in
doubt if I have sinned therein. And concerning mine own griefs, they
have been but few as yet, so that 'tis little praise I deserve for not
overmuch resentment in instances wherein, if others are afflicted, I
have much ado to restrain wrath."

"Ah," he said, "methinks if you answer in so true and grave a manner
my rude catechizing. Mistress Sherwood, I be not bold enough to
continue the inventory of your faults."

"I pray you do," I answered; for I felt in my soul an unusual liking
for his conversation, and the more so when, leaving off jesting, he
said, "The last fault Mr. Roper did charge you with was lack of
prudence in matters wherein prudence is most needed in these days."


"Alas!" I exclaimed; "for that also do I cry mercy; but indeed, Master
Rookwood, there is in these days so much cowardice and time-serving
which doth style itself prudence, that methinks it might sometimes
happen that a right boldness should be called rashness."

Raising my eyes to his, I thought I saw them clouded by a misty dew;
and he replied, "Yea, Mistress Constance, and if it is so, I had
sooner that myself and such as I have a friendship for should have to
cry mercy on their death-beds for too much rashness in stemming the
tide, than for too much ease in yielding to it. And now," he added,
"shall I repeat what Mr. Roper related of your virtues?"

"No," I answered, smiling. "For if the faults he doth charge me with
be so much smaller than the reality, what hope have I that he should
speak the truth in regard to my poor merits?"

Then some persons moving nearer to where we were sitting, some general
conversation ensued, in which several took part; and none so much to
my liking as Basil, albeit others might possess more ready tongues and
a more sparkling wit. In all the years since I had left my home, I had
not found so much contentment in any one's society. His mind and mine
were like two instruments with various chords, but one key-note, which
maintained them in admirable harmony. The measure of our agreement
stood rather in the drift of our desires and the scope of our
approval, than in any parity of tastes or resemblance of disposition.
Acquaintanceship soon gave way to intimacy, which bred a mutual
friendship that in its turn was not slow to change into a warmer
feeling. We met very often. It seemed so natural to him to affection
me, and to me to reciprocate his affection, that if our love began
not, which methinks it did, on that first day of meeting, I know not
when it had birth. But if it be difficult precisely to note the
earliest buddings of the sweet flower love, it was easy to discern the
moment when the bitter root of jealousy sprang up in Hubert's heart.
He who had been suspicious of every person whose civilities I allowed
of, did not for some time appear to mislike the intimacy which had
arisen betwixt his brother and me. I ween from what he once said, when
on a later occasion anger loosened his tongue, that he held him in
some sort of contempt, even as a fox would despise a nobler animal
than himself. His subtle wit disdained his plainness of speech. His
confiding temper he derided; and he had methinks no apprehension that
a she-wit, as he was wont to call me, should prove herself so witless
as to prefer to one of his brilliant parts a man notable for his
indifferency to book learning, and to his smooth tongue and fine
genius the honest words and unvarnished merits of his brother.

Howsoever, one day he either did himself notice some sort of
particular kindness to exist between us, or he was advertised thereof
by some of the company we frequented, and I saw him fix his eyes on us
with so arrested a persistency, and his frame waxed so rigid, that
methought Lot's wife must have so gazed when she turned toward the
doomed city. I was more frighted at the dull lack of expression in his
face than at a thousand frowns or even scowls. His eyes were reft of
their wonted fire; the color had flown from his lips; his always pale
cheek was of a ghastly whiteness; and his hand, which was thrust in
his bosom, and his feet, which seemed rooted to the ground, were as
motionless as those of a statue. A shudder ran through me as he stood
in this guise, neither moving nor speaking, at a small distance from
me. I rose and went away, for his looks freezed me. But the next time
I met him this strangeness of behavior had vanished, and I almost
misdoubted the truth of what I had seen. He was a daily witness, for
several succeeding weeks, of what neither Basil nor I  cared much
to conceal--the mutual confidence and increasing tenderness of
affection, which was visible in all our words and actions at that
time, which was one of greater contentment than can be expressed. That
summer was a rare one for fineness of the weather and its great store
of sun-shiny days. We had often pleasant divertisements in the
neighborhood of London, than which no city is more famous for the
beauty of its near scenery. One while we ascended the noble river
Thames as far as Richmond, England's Arcadia, whose smooth waters,
smiling meads, and hills clad in richest verdure, do equal whatsoever
poets have ever sung or painters pictured. Another time we disported
ourselves in the gardens of Hampton, where, in the season of roses,
the insects weary their wings over the flower-beds--the thrifty bees
with the weight of gathered honey--and the gay butterflies, idlers as
ourselves, with perfume and pleasure. Or we went to Greenwich Park,
and underneath the spreading trees, with England's pride of shipping
in sight, and barges passing to and fro on the broad stream as on a
watery highway, we whiled away the time in many joyous pastimes.

On an occasion of this sort it happened that both brothers went with
us, and we forecasted to spend the day at a house in the village of
Paddington, about two miles from London, where Mr. Congleton's sister,
a lady of fortune, resided. It stood in a very fair garden, the gate
of which opened on the high road; and after dinner we sat with some
other company which had been invited to meet us under the large cedar
trees which lined a broad gravel-walk leading from the house to the
gate. The day was very hot, but now a cooling air had risen, and the
young people there assembled played at pastimes, in which I was
somewhat loth to join; for jesting disputations and framing of
questions and answers, an amusement then greatly in fashion, minded
one of that fatal encounter betwixt Martin Tregony and Thomas
Sherwood, the end of which had been the death of the one and a fatal
injury to the soul of the other. Hubert was urgent with me to join in
the arguments proposed; but I refused, partly for the aforesaid
reason, and methinks, also, because I doubted that Basil should acquit
himself so admirably as his brother in these exercises of wit, wherein
the latter did indeed excel, and I cared not to shine in a sport
wherein he took no part. So I set myself to listen to the disputants,
albeit with an absent mind; for I had grown to be somewhat thoughtful
of late, and to forecast the future with such an admixture of hope and
fear touching the issue of those passages of love I was engaged in,
that the trifles which entertained a disengaged mind lacked ability to
divert me. I ween Polly, if she had been then in London, should have
laughed at me for the symptoms I exhibited of what she styled the
sighing malady.

A little while after the contest had begun, a sound was heard at a
distance as of a trampling on the road, but not discernible as yet
whether of men or horses' feet. There was mixed with it cries of
hooting and shouts, which increased as this sort of procession (for so
it should seem to be) approached. All who were in the garden ran to
the iron railing for to discover the cause. From the houses on both
sides the road persons came out and joined in the clamor. As the crowd
neared the gate where we stood, the words, "Papists--seditious
priests--traitors," were discernible, mixed with oaths, curses, and
such opprobrious epithets as my pen dares not write. At the hearing of
them the blood rushed to my head, and my heart began to beat as if it
should burst from the violence with which it throbbed; for now the mob
was close at hand, and we could see the occasion of their yells and
shoutings. About a dozen persons were riding without bridle or spur or
other furniture, on lean and bare horses, which were fastened  one
to the other's tails, marching slowly in a long row, each man's feet
tied under his horse's belly and his arms bound hard and fast behind
him. A pursuivant rode in front and cried aloud that those coming
behind him were certain papists, foes to the gospel and enemies to the
commonwealth, for that they had been seized in the act of saying and
hearing mass in disobedience to the laws. And as he made this
proclamation, the rabble yelled and took up stones and mud to cast at
the prisoners. One man cried out, "Four of them be vile priests." O ye
who read this, have you taken heed how, at some times in your lives,
in a less space than the wink of an eye, thought has outrun sight? So
did mine with lightning speed apprehend lest my father should be one
of these. I scanned the faces of the prisoners as they passed, but he
was not amongst them; however I recognized, with a sharp pain, the
known countenance of the priest who had shriven my mother on her
death-bed. He looked pale and worn to a shadow, and hardly able to sit
on his horse. I sunk down on my knees, with my head against the
railings, feeling very sick. Then the gate opened, and with a strange
joy and trembling fear I saw Basil push through the mob till he stood
close to the horse's feet where the crowd had made a stoppage. He
knelt and took off his hat, and the lips of the priests moved, as they
passed, for to bless him. Murmurs rose from the rabble, but he took no
heed of them. Till the last horseman had gone by he stood with his
head uncovered, and then slowly returned, none daring to touch him.
"Basil, dear Basil!" I cried, and, weeping, gave him my hand. It was
the first time I had called him by his name. Methinks in that moment
as secure a troth-plight was passed between us as if ten thousand
bonds had sealed it. When, some time afterward, we moved toward the
house, I saw Hubert standing at the door with the same stony rigid
look which had frighted me once before. He said not one word as I
passed him. I have since heard that a lady, endowed with more
sharpness than prudence or kindness, had thus addressed him on this
occasion: "Methinks, Master Hubert Rookwood, that you did perform your
part excellently well in that ingenious pastime which procured us so
much good entertainment awhile ago; but beshrew me if your brother did
not exceed you in the scene we have just witnessed, and if Mistress
Sherwood's looks do not belie her, she thought so too. I ween his
tragedy hath outdone your comedy." Then he (well-nigh biting his lips
through, as the person who related it to me observed) made answer: "If
this young gentlewoman's taste be set on tragedy, then will I promise
her so much of it another day as should needs satisfy her."

This malicious lady misliked Hubert, by reason of his having denied
her the praise of wit, which had been reported to her by a third
person. She was minded to be revenged on him, and so the shaft
contained in her piercing jest had likewise hit those she willed not
to injure. It is not to be credited how many persons have been ruined
in fortune, driven into banishment, yea, delivered over to death, by
careless words uttered without so much as a thought of the evil which
should ensue from them.

And now upon the next day Basil was to leave London. Before he went he
said he hoped not to be long absent, and that Mr. Congleton should
receive a letter, if it pleased God, from his father; which, if it
should be favorably received, and I willed it not to be otherwise,
should cause our next meeting to be one of greater contentment than
could be thought of.

I answered, "I should never wish otherwise than that we should meet
with contentment, or will anything that should hinder it." Which he
said did greatly please him to hear, and gave him a comfortable hope
of a happy return.


He conversed also with Mistress Ward touching the prisoners we had
seen the day before, and left some money with her in case she should
find means to see and assist them, which she strove to do with the
diligence used by her in all such managements. In a few days she
discovered Mr. Watson to be in Bridewell, also one Mr. Richardson in
the Marshalsea, and three laymen in the Clink. Mr. Watson had a sister
who was a Protestant, and by her means she succeeded in relieving his
wants, and dealt with the gaolers at the other prisons so as to convey
some assistance to the poor men therein confined, whose names she had
found out.

One morning when I was at Kate's house Hubert came there; and she, the
whole compass of whose thoughts was now circled in her nursery, not
minding the signs I made she should not leave us alone, rose and said
she must needs go and see if her babe was awake, for Hubert must see
him, and he should not go away without first he had beheld him walk
with his new leading-strings, which were the tastefullest in the world
and fit for a king's son; and that she doubted not we could find good
enough entertainment in each other's company, or in Mr. Lacy's books,
which must be the wittiest ever written, if she judged by her
husband's fondness for them. As soon as the door was shut on her,
Hubert began to speak of his brother, and to insinuate that my
behavior to himself was changed since Basil had come to London, which
I warmly denied.

"If," I said, "I have changed--"

"_If_," he repeated, stopping my speaking with an ironical and
disdainful smile, and throwing into that one little word as he uttered
it more of meaning than it would seem possible it should express.

"Yes!" I continued, angered at his defiant looks. "Yes, if my behavior
to you has changed, which, I must confess, in some respects it has,
the cause did lie in my uncle's commands, laid on me before your
brother's coming to London. You know it, Master Rookwood, by the same
token that you charged me with unkindness for not allowing of your
visits, and refusing to read Italian with you, some weeks before ever
he arrived."

"You have a very obedient disposition, madam," he answered in a
scornful manner, "and I doubt not have attended with a like readiness
to the behest to favor the _elder_ brother's suit as to that which
forbade the receiving of the younger brother's addresses."

"I did not look upon you as a suitor," I replied.

"No!" he exclaimed, "and not as on a lover? Not as on one whose lips,
borrowing words from enamored poets twenty times in a day, did avow
his passion, and was entertained on your side with so much good-nature
and apparent contentment with this mode of disguised worship, as
should lead him to hope for a return of his affection? But why
question of that wherein my belief is unshaken? I know you love me,
Constance Sherwood, albeit you peradventure love more dearly my
brother's heirship of Euston and its wide acres. Your eyes deceived
not, nor did your flushing cheek dissemble, when we read together
those sweet tales and noble poems, wherein are set forth the dear
pains and tormenting joys of a mutual love. No, not if you did take
your oath on it will I believe you love my brother!"

"What warrant have you, sir," I answered with burning cheek, "to
minister such talk to one who, from the moment she found you thought
of marriage, did plainly discountenance your suit?"

"You were content, then, madam, to be worshipped as an idol," he
bitterly replied, "if only not sued for in marriage by a poor man."

My sin found me out then, and the hard taunt awoke dormant pangs in my
conscience for the pleasure I had taken and doubtless showed in the
disguised professions of an undisguised admiration; but anger yet
prevailed,  and I cried, "Think you to advance your interest in my
friendship, sir, by such language and reproaches as these?"

"Do you love my brother?" he said again, with an implied contempt
which made me mad.

"Sir," I answered, "I entertain for your brother so great a respect
and esteem as one must needs feel toward one of so much virtue and
goodness. No contract exists between us; nor has he made me the tender
of his hand. More than that it behoves you not to ask, or me to
answer."

"Ah! the offer of marriage is then the condition of your regard, and
love is to follow, not precede, the settlements, I' faith, ladies are
very prudent in these days; and virtue and goodness the new names for
fortune and lands. Beshrew me, if I had not deemed you to be made of
other metal than the common herd. But whatever be the composition of
your heart, Constance Sherwood, be it hard as the gold you set so much
store on, or, like wax, apt to receive each day some new impress, I
will have it; yea, and keep it for my own. No rich fool shall steal it
from me."

"Hubert Rookwood," I cried in anger, "dare not so to speak of one
whose merit is as superior to thine as the sun outshines a
torchlight."

"Ah!" he exclaimed, turning pale with rage, "if I thought thou didst
love him!" and clenched his hand with a terrible gesture, and ground
his teeth. "But 'tis impossible," he added bitterly smiling. "As soon
would I believe Titania verily to doat on the ass's head as for thee
to love Basil!"

"Oh!" I indignantly replied, "you do almost constrain me to avow that
which no maiden should, unasked, confess. Do you think, sir, that
learning and scholarship, and the poor show of wit that lies in a
ready tongue, should outweigh honor, courage, and kindliness of heart?
Think you that more respect should be paid to one who can speak, and
write also, if you will, fair sounding words, than to him who in his
daily doings shows forth such nobleness as others only inculcate, and
God only knoweth if ever they practise it?"

"Lady!" he exclaimed, "I have served you long; sustained torments in
your presence; endured griefs in your absence; pining thoughts in the
day, and anguished dreams in the night; jealousies often in times
past, and now--"

He drew in his breath; and then not so much speaking the word
"despair" as with a smothered vehemence uttering it, he concluded his
vehement address.

I was so shaken by his speech that I remained silent: for if I had
spoken I must needs have wept. Holding my head with both hands, and so
shielding my eyes from the sight of his pale convulsed face, I sat
like one transfixed. Then he again: "These be not times, Mistress
Sherwood, for women to act as you have done; to lift a man's heart one
while to an earthly heaven, and then, without so much as a thought, to
cast him into a hellish sea of woes. These be the dealings which drive
men to desperation; to attempt things contrary to their own minds, to
religion, and to honesty; to courses once abhorred--"

His violence wrung my heart then with so keen a remorse that I cried
out, "I cry you mercy, Master Rookwood, if I have dealt thus with you;
indeed I thought not to do it. I pray you forgive me, if unwittingly,
albeit peradventure in a heedless manner, I have done you so much
wrong as your words do charge me with." And then tears I could not
stay began to flow; and for awhile no talk ensued. But after a little
time he spoke in a voice so changed and dissimilar in manner, that I
looked up wholly amazed.

"Sweet Constance," he said, "I have played the fool in my customable
fashion, and by such pretended slanders of one I should rather incline
to commend beyond his deserts, if that were possible, than to give him
vile terms, have sought--I cry you  mercy for it--to discover your
sentiments, and feigned a resentment and a passion which indeed has
proved an excellent piece of acting, if I judge by your tears. I pray
you pardon and forget my brotherly device. If you love Basil--as I
misdoubt not he loves you--where shall a more suitable match be found,
or one which every one must needs so much approve? Marry, sweet lady;
I will be his best man when he doth ride to church with you, and cry
'Amen' more loudly than the clerk. So now dart no more vengeful
lightnings from thine eyes, sweet one; and wipe away the pearly drops
my unmannerly jesting hath caused to flow. I would not Basil had
wedded a lady in love with his pelf, not with himself."

"I detest tricks," I cried, "and such feigning as you do confess to. I
would I had not answered one word of your false discourse."

Now I wept for vexation to have been so circumvented and befooled as
to own some sort of love for a man who bad not yet openly addressed
me. And albeit reassured in some wise, touching what my conscience had
charged me with when I heard Hubert's vehement reproaches, I
misdoubted his present sincerity. He searched my face with a keen
investigation, for to detect, I ween, if I was most contented or
displeased with his late words. I resolved, if he was false, I would
be true, and leave not so much as a suspicion in his mind that I did
or ever had cared for him. But Kate, who should not have left us
alone, now returned, when her absence would have been most profitable.
She had her babe in her aims, and must needs call on Hubert to praise
its beauty and list to its sweet crowing. In truth, a more winsome,
gracious creature could not be seen; and albeit I had made an
inpatient gesture when she entered, my arms soon eased hers of their
fair burthen, and I set to playing with the boy, and Hubert talking
and laughing in such good cheer, that I began to credit his passion
had been feigning, and his indifferency to be true, which contented me
not a little.

A few days afterward Mr. Congleton received a letter, in the evening,
when we were sitting in my aunt's room, and a sudden fluttering in my
heart whispered it should be from Basil's father. Mine eyes affixed
themselves on the cover, which had fallen on the ground, and then
travelled to my uncle's face, wherein was a smile which seemed to say,
"This is no other than what I did expect." He put it down on the
table, and his hand over it. My aunt said he should tell us the news
he had received, to make us merry; for that the fog had given her the
vapors, and she had need of some good entertainment.

"News!" quoth he. "What news do you look for, good wife?"

"It would not be news, sir," she answered, "if I expected it."

"That is more sharp than true," he replied. "There must needs come
news of the queen of France's lying-in; but I pray you how will it be?
Shall she live and do well? Shall it be a prince or a princess?"

"Prithee, no disputings, Mr. Congleton," she said. "We be not playing
at questions and answers."

"Nay, but thou dost mistake," he cried out, laughing. "Methinks we
have here in hand some game of that sort if I judge by this letter."

Then my heart leapt, I knew not how high or how tumultuously; for I
doubted not now but he had received the tidings I hoped for.

"Constance," he said, "hast a mind to marry?"

"If it should please you, sir," I answered; "for my father charged me
to obey you."

"Good," quoth he. "I see thou art an obedient wench. And thou wilt
marry who I please?"

"Nay, sir; I said not that."

"Oh, oh!" quoth he. "Thou wilt marry so as to please me, and yet--"

"Not so as to displease myself, sir," I answered.

"Come," he said, "another question.  Here is a gentleman of
fortune and birth, and excellent good character, somewhat advanced in
years indeed, but the more like to make an indulgent husband, and to
be prudent in the management of his affairs, hath heard so good a
report from two young gentlemen, his sons, of thy abilities and proper
behavior, that he is minded to make thee a tender of marriage, with so
good a settlement on his estate in Suffolk as must needs content any
reasonable woman. Wilt have him, Conny?"

"Who, sir?" I asked, waxing, I ween, as red as a field-poppy.

"Mr. Rookwood, wench--Basil and Hubert's father."

Albeit I knew my uncle's trick of jesting, my folly was so great just
then, hope and fear working in me, that I was seized with fright, and
from crimson turned so white, that he cried out:

"Content thee, child! content thee! 'Tis that tall strapping fellow
Basil must needs make thee an offer of his hand; and by my troth,
wench, I warrant thee thou wouldst go further and fare worse; for the
gentleman is honorably descended, heir-apparent to an estate worth
yearly, to my knowledge, three thousand pounds sterling, well disposed
in religion, and of a personage without exception. Mr. Rookwood
declares he is more contented with his son's choice than if he married
Mistress Spencer, or any other heiress; and beshrew me, if I be not
contented also."

Then he bent his head close to mine ear, and whispered, "And so art
thou, methinks, if those tell-tale eyes of thine should be credited.
Yea, yea, hang down thy head, and stammer 'As you please, sir!' And
never so much as a _Deo gratias_ for thy good fortune! What thankless
creatures women be!" I laughed and ran out of the room before mine
aunt or Mistress Ward had disclosed their lips; for I did long to be
in mine own chamber alone, and, from the depths of a heart over full
of, yea overflowing with, such joy as doth incline the knees to bend
and the eyes to raise themselves to the Giver of all good--he whom
all other goodness doth only mirror and shadow forth--pour out a hymn
of praise for the noble blessing I had received. For, I pray you,
after the gift of faith and grace for to know and love God, is there
aught on earth to be jewelled by a woman like to the affection of a
good man; or a more secure haven for her to anchor in amid the present
billows of life, except that of religion, to which all be not called,
than an honorable contract of marriage, wherein reason, passion, and
duty do bind the soul in a triple cord of love?

And oh! with what a painful tenderness I thought in that moving hour
on mine own dear parents--my mother, now so many years dead; my
father, so parted from his poor child, that in the most weighty
concernment of her life--the disposal of her in marriage--his consent
had to be presumed; his authority, for so he had with forecasting care
ordained, being left in other hands. But albeit a shade of melancholy
from such a retrospect as the mind is wont to take of the past, when
coming events do cast, as it should seem, a new light on what has
preceded them, I could not choose but see, in this good which had
happened to me, a reward to him who had forsaken all things--lands,
home, kindred, yea his only child, for Christ's dear sake. It minded
me of my mother's words concerning me, when she lay dying, "Fear not
for her."

I was somewhat loth to return to mine aunt's chamber, and to appear in
the presence of Kate and Polly, who had come to visit their mother,
and, by their saucy looks when I entered, showed they were privy to
the treaty in hand. Mine aunt said she had been thinking that she
would not go to church when I was married, but give me her blessing at
home; for she had never recovered from the chilling she had when Kate
was married, and  had laid abed on Polly' wedding-day, which she
liked better. Mistress Ward had great contentment, she said, that I
should have so good an husband. Kate was glad Basil was not too fond
of books, for that scholars be not as conversable as agreeable
husbands should be. Polly said, for her part, she thought the less wit
a man had, the better for his wife, for she would then be the more
like to have her own way. But that being her opinion, she did not
wholly wish me joy; for she had noticed Basil to be a good thinker,
and a man of so much sense, that he would not be ruled by a wife more
than should be reasonable. I was greatly pleased that she thus
commended him, who was not easily pleased, and rather given to despise
gentlemen than to praise them. I kissed her, and said I had always
thought her the most sensible woman in the world. She laughed, and
cried, "That was small commendation, for that women were the
foolishest creatures in the world, and mostly such as were in love."

Ah me! The days which followed were full of sweet waiting and pleasant
pining for the effects of the letter mine uncle wrote to Mr. Rookwood,
and looking for one Basil should write himself, when licence for to
address me had been yielded to him. When it came, how unforeseen, how
sad were the contents! Albeit love was expressed in every line, sorrow
did so cover its utterance, that my heart overflowed through mine
eyes, and I could only sigh and weep that the beginning of so fair a
day of joy should have set in clouds of so much grief. Basil's father
was dead. The day after he wrote that letter, the cause of all our
joy, he fell sick and never bettered any more, but the contrary: time
was allowed him to prepare his soul for death, by all holy rites and
ghostly comforts. One of his sons was on each side of his bed when he
died; and Basil closed his eyes.


CHAPTER XIV.

Basil came to London after the funeral, and methought his sadness then
did become him as much as his joyfulness heretofore. His grief was
answerable to the affection he had borne unto his father, and to that
gentlemen's most excellent deserts. He informed Mr. Congleton that in
somewhat less than one year he should be of age, and until then his
wardship was committed to Sir Henry Stafford. It was agreed betwixt
them, that in respect of his deep mourning and the greater commodity
his being of age would afford for the drawing up of settlements, our
marriage should be deferred until he returned from the continent in a
year's time. Sir Henry was exceeding urgent he should travel abroad
for the bettering as he affirmed of his knowledge of foreign
languages, and acquirement of such useful information as should
hereafter greatly benefit him; but methinks, from what Basil said, it
was chiefly with the end that he should not be himself troubled during
his term of guardianship with proceedings touching his ward's
recusancy, which was so open and manifest, no persuasions dissuading
him from it, that he apprehended therefrom to meet with difficulties.

So with heavy hearts and some tears on both sides, a short time after
Mr. Rookwood's death, we did part, but withal with so comfortable a
hope of a happy future, and so great a security of mutual affection,
that the pangs of separation were softened, and a not unpleasing
melancholy ensued. We forecasted to hold converse by means of letters,
of which he made me promise I should leastways write two for his one;
for he argued, as I always had a pen in my hand, it should be no
trouble to me to write down my thoughts as they arose, but as for
himself, it would cost him much time and labor for to compose such a
letter as it would content me to receive. But herein he was too
modest;  for, indeed, in everything he wrote, albeit short and
mostly devoid of such flowers of the fancy as some are wont to scatter
over their letters, I was always excellently well pleased with his
favors of this kind.

Hubert remained in London for to commence his studies in a house of
the law; but when my engagement with his brother became known, he left
off haunting Mr. Lacy's house, and even Mr. Wells's, as heretofore.
His behavior was very mutable; at one time exceedingly obliging, and
at another more strange and distant than it had yet been; so that I
did dread to meet him, not knowing how to shape mine own conduct in
his regard; for if on the one hand I misliked to appear estranged from
Basil's brother, yet if I dealt graciously toward him I feared to
confirm his apprehension of some sort of unusual liking on my part
toward himself.

One month, or thereabouts, after Basil had gone to France, Lady Surrey
did invite me to stay with her at Kenninghall, which greatly delighted
me, for it was a very long time then since I had seen her. The reports
I heard of her lord's being a continual waiter on her majesty, and
always at court, whereas she did not come to London so much as once in
the year, worked in me a very uneasy apprehension that she should not
be as happy in her retirement as I should wish. I long had desired to
visit this dear lady, but durst not be the first to speak of it. Also
to one bred in the country from her infancy, the long while I had
spent in a city, far from any sights or scents of nature, had created
in me a great desire for pure air and green fields, of which the
neighborhood of London had afforded only such scanty glimpses as
served to whet, not satisfy, the taste for such-like pleasures. So
with much contentment I began my journey into Norfolk, which was the
first I had taken since that long one from Sherwood Hall to London
some years before. A coach of my Lord Surrey's, with two new pairs of
horses, was going from the Charter-house to Kenninghall, and a
chamber-woman of my lady's to be conveyed therein; so for conveniency
I travelled with her. We slept two nights on the road (for the horses
were to rest often), in very comfortable lodgings; and about the
middle of the third day we did arrive at Kenninghall, which is a place
of so great magnitude and magnificence, that to my surprised eyes it
showed more like unto a palace, yea, a cluster of palaces, than the
residence of a private though illustrious nobleman. The gardens which
we passed along-side of, the terraces adorned with majestic trees, the
woods at the back of the building, which then wore a gaudy dress of
crimson and golden hues,--made my heart leap for joy to be once more
in the country. But when we passed through the gateway, and into one
court and then another, methought we left the country behind, and
entered some sort of city, the buildings did so close around us on
every side. At last we stopped at a great door, and many footmen stood
about me, and one led me through long galleries and a store of empty
chambers; I forecasting in my mind the while how far it should be to
the gardens I had seen, and if the birds could be heard to sing in
this great house, in which was so much fine tapestry, and pictures in
high-gilt frames, that the eye was dazzled with their splendor. A
little pebbly brook or a tuft of daisies would then have pleased me
more than these fine hangings, and the grass than the smooth carpets
in some of the rooms, the like of which I had never yet seen. But
these discontented thoughts vanished quickly when my Lady Surrey
appeared; and I had nothing more to desire when I received her
affectionate embrace, and saw how joyful was her welcome. Methought,
too, when she led me into the chamber wherein she said her time was
chiefly spent, that its rich adornment became her, who had verily a
queenly beauty, and a  presence so sweetly majestic that it alone
was sufficient to call for a reverent respect from others even in her
young years. There was an admirable simplicity in her dress; so that I
likened her in my mind, as she sat in that gilded room, to a pare fair
diamond enchased in a rich setting. In the next chamber her
gentlewoman and chambermaids were at work--some at frames, and others
making of clothes, or else spinning; and another door opened into her
bed-chamber, which was very large, like unto a hall, and the canopy of
the bed so high and richly adorned that it should have beseemed a
throne. The tapestry on the wall, bedight with fruits and flowers,
very daintily wrought, so that nature itself hath not more fair hues
than therein were to be seen.

"When my lord is not at home, I mislike this grand chamber, and do lie
here," she said, and showed me an inner closet; which I perceived to
be plainly furnished, and in one corner of it, which pleased me most
for to see, a crucifix hung against the wall, over above a
kneeling-stool. Seeing my eyes did rest on it, she colored a little,
and said it had belonged to Lady Mounteagle, who had gifted her with
it on her death-bed; upon which account she did greatly treasure the
possession thereof.

I answered, it did very much content me that she should set store on
what had been her grandmother's, for verily she was greatly indebted
to that good lady for the care she had taken of her young years; "but
methinks," I added, "the likeness of your Saviour which died for you
should not need any other excuse for the prizing of it than what
arises from its being what it is, his own dear image."

She said she thought so too; but that in the eyes of Protestants she
must needs allege some other reason for the keeping of a crucifix in
her room than that good one, which nevertheless in her own thinking
she allowed of.

Then she showed me mine own chamber, which was very commodious and
pleasantly situated, not far from hers. From the window was to be seen
the town of Norwich, and an extensive plain intersected with trees;
and underneath the wall of the house a terrace lined with many fair
shrubs and strips of flower-beds, very pleasing to the eye, but too
far off for a more familiar enjoyment than the eyesight could afford.

When we had dined, and I was sitting with my lady in her dainty
sitting-room, she at her tambour-frame, and I with a piece of
patch-work on my knees which I had brought from London, she began
forthwith to question me touching my intended marriage, Mr. Rookwood's
death, and Basil's going abroad, concerning which she had heard many
reports. I satisfied her thereon; upon which she expressed great
contentment that my prospects of happiness were so good; for all which
knew Basil thought well on him, she said; and mostly his neighbors,
which have the chiefest occasions for to judge of a man's disposition.
And Euston, she thought, should prove a very commendable residence,
albeit the house was small for so good an estate; but capable, she
doubted not, of improvements, which my fine taste would bestow on it;
not indeed by spending large sums on outward show, but by small
adornments and delicate beautifying of a house and gardens, such as
women only do excel in; the which kind of care Mr. Rookwood's seat had
lacked for many years. She also said it pleased her much to think that
Basil and I should agree touching religion, for there was little
happiness to be had in marriage where consent doth not exist in so
important a matter. I answered, that I was of that way of thinking
also. But then this consent must be veritable, not extorted; for in so
weighty a point the least shadow of compulsion on the one side, and
feigning on the other, do end by destroying happiness, and virtue
also, which is more urgent. She made no answer; and I then asked her
if she  liked Kenninghall more than London, and had found in a
retired life the contentment she had hoped for. She bent down her head
over her work-frame, so as partly to conceal her face; but how
beautiful what was to be seen of it appeared, as she thus hid the
rest, her snowy neck supporting her small head, and the shape of her
oval cheek just visible beneath the dark tresses of jet-black hair!
When she raised that noble head methought it wore a look of becoming,
not unchristian, pride, or somewhat better than should be titled
pride; and her voice betokened more emotion than her visage betrayed
when she said, "I am more contented, Constance, to inhabit this my
husband's chiefest house than to dwell in London or anywhere else.
Where should a wife abide with so much pleasure as in a place where
she may be sometimes visited by her lord, even though she should not
always be so happy as to enjoy his company? My Lord Arundel hath often
urged me to reside with him in London, and pleaded the comfort my Lady
Lumley and himself, in his declining years, should find in my filial
care; but God helping me--and I think in so doing I fulfill his
will--naught shall tempt me to leave my husband's house till he doth
himself compel me to it; nor by resentment of his absence lose one day
of his dear company I may yet enjoy."

"O my dear lady," I exclaimed, "and is it indeed thus with you? Doth
my lord so forget your love and his duty as to forsake one he should
cherish as his most dear treasure?"

"Nay, nay," she hastily replied; "Philip doth not forsake me; a little
neglectful he is" (this she said with a forced smile), "as all the
queen's courtiers must needs be of their wives; for she is so
exacting, that such as stand in her good graces cannot be stayers at
home, but ever waiters on her pleasure. If Philip doth only leave
London or Richmond for three or four days, she doth suspect the cause
of his absence; her smiles are turned to frowns, and his enemies
immediately do take advantage of it. I tried to stay in London one
while this year, after Bess was married; but he suffered so much in
consequence from the loss of her good graces when she heard I was at
the Charter-house, that I was compelled to return here."

"And hath my lord been to see you since?" I eagerly asked.

"Once," she answered; "for three short days. O Constance, it was a
brief, and, from its briefness, an almost painful joy, to see him in
his own princely home, and at the head of his table, which he doth
grace so nobly; and when he went abroad saluted by every one with so
much reverence, that he should be taken to be a king when he is here;
and himself so contented with this show of love and homage, that his
face beamed with pleasant smiles; and when he observed what my poor
skill had effected in the management of his estates, which do greatly
suffer from the prodigalities of the court, he commended me with so
great kindness as to say he was not worthy of so good a wife."

I could not choose but say amen in mine own soul to this lord's true
estimation of himself, and of her, one hair of whose head did, in my
thinking, outweigh in merit his whole frame; but composed my face lest
she should too plainly read my resentment that the like of her should
be so used by an ungrateful husband.

"Alas," she continued, "this joy should be my constant portion if an
enemy robbed me not of my just rights. 'Tis very hard to be hated by a
queen, and she so great and powerful that none in the compass of her
realm can dare to resent her ill treatment. I had a letter from my
lord last week, in which he says if it be possible he will soon visit
me again; but he doth add that he has so much confidence in my
affection, that he is sure I would not will him to risk that which may
undo him, if the queen should hear of it. 'For, Nan,' he writes, 'I
resemble a man scrambling up unto a slippery rock, who, if he
gaineth not the topmost points, must needs fall backward into a
precipice; for if I lose but an inch of her majesty's favor, I am like
to fall as my fathers have done, and yet lower. So be patient, good
Nan, and bide the time when I shall have so far ascended as to be in
less danger of a rapid descent, in which thine own fortunes would be
involved."

She folded this letter, which she had taken out of her bosom, with a
deep sigh, and I doubt not with the same thought which was in mine own
mind, that the higher the ascent, the greater doth prove the peril of
an overthrow, albeit to the climber's own view the further point doth
seem the most secured. She then said she would not often speak with me
touching her troubles; but we should try to forget absent husbands and
lovers, and enjoy so much pleasure in our mutual good company as was
possible, and go hawking also and riding on fine days, and be as merry
as the days were long. And, verily, at times youthful spirits assumed
the lead, and like two wanton children we laughed sometimes with
hearty cheer at some pleasantry in which my little wit but fanciful
humor did evince itself for her amusement. But the fair sky of these
sunshiny hours was often overcast by sudden clouds; and weighty
thoughts, ill assorting with soaring joylity, wrought sad endings to
merry beginnings. I restrained the expression of mine own sorrow at my
father's uncertain fate and Basil's absence, not to add to her
heaviness; but sometimes, whilst playing in some sort the fool to make
her smile, which smiles so well became her, a sharp aching of the
heart caused me to fail in the effort; which when she perceived, her
arm was straightway thrown round my neck, and she would speak in this
wise:

"O sweet jester! poor dissembler! the heart will have its say, albeit
not aided by the utterance of the tongue. Believe me, good Constance,
I am not unmindful of thy griefs, albeit somewhat silent concerning
them, as also mine own; for that I eschew melancholy themes, having a
well-spring of sorrow in my bosom which doth too readily overflow if
the sluices be once opened."

Thus spake this sweet lady; but her unconscious tongue, following the
current of her thoughts more frequently than she did credit, dwelt on
the theme of her absent husband; and on whichever subject talk was
ministered between us, she was ingenious to procure it should end with
some reference to this worshipped object. But verily, I never
perceived her to express, in speaking of that then unworthy husband,
but what, if he had been present, must needs have moved him to regret
his negligent usage of an incomparable, loving, and virtuous wife,
than to any resentment of her complaints, which were rather of others
who diverted his affections from her than of him, the prime cause of
her grief. One day that we walked in the pleasaunce, she led the way
to a seat which she said during her lord's last visit he had commended
for the fair prospect it did command, and said it should be called "My
Lady's Arbor."

"He sent for the head-gardener," quoth she, "and charged him to plant
about it so many sweet flowers and gay shrubs as should make it in
time a most dainty bower fit for a queen. These last words did, I
ween, unwittingly escape his lips, and, I fear me, I was too shrewish;
for I exclaimed, 'O no, my lord; I pray you let it rather be
_un_fitted for a queen, if so be you would have me to enjoy it!' He
made no answer, and his countenance was overcast and sad when he
returned to the house. I misdoubted my hasty speech had angered him;
but when his horse came to the door for to carry him away to London
and the court, he said very kindly, as he embraced me, 'Farewell, dear
heart! mine own good Nan!' and in a letter he since wrote he inquired
if his orders had been obeyed touching his sweet countess's
pleasure-house."


I always noticed Lady Surrey to be very eager for the coming of the
messenger which brought letters from London mostly twice in the week,
and that in the untying of the strings which bound them her hand
trembled so much that she often said, "Prithee, Constance, cut this
knot. My fingers be so cold I have not so much patience as should
serve to the undoing thereof."

One morning I perceived she was more sad than usual after the coming
of this messenger. The cloud on her countenance chased away the joy I
had at a letter from Basil, which was written from Paris, and wherein
he said he had sent to Rheims for to inquire if my father was yet
there, for in that case he should not so much fail in his duty as to
omit seeking to see him; and so get at once, he trusted, a father and
a priest's blessing."

"What ails you, sweet lady?" I asked, seeing her lips quiver and her
eyes to fill with tears.

"Nothing should ail me," she answered more bitterly than was her wont.
"It should be, methinks, the part of a wife to rejoice in her
husband's good fortune; and here is one that doth write to me that my
lord's favor with the queen is so great that nothing greater can be
thought of: so that some do say, if he was not married he would be
like to mount, not only to the steps, but on to the throne itself.
Here should be grand news for to rejoice the heart of the Countess of
Surrey. Prithee, good wench, why dost thou not wish thy poor friend
joy?"

I felt so much choler that any one should write to my lady in this
fashion, barbing with cruel malice, or leastways careless lack of
thought, this wanton arrow, that I exclaimed in a passion it should be
a villain had thus written. She smiled in a sad manner and answered:

"Alas, an innocent villain I warrant the writer to be, for the letter
is from my Bess, who has heard others speak of that which she doth
unwittingly repeat, thinking it should be an honor to my lord, and to
me also, that he should be spoken of in this wise. But content thee;
'tis no great matter to hear that said again which I have had hints of
before, and am like to hear more of it, maybe."

Then hastily rising, she prepared to go abroad; and we went to a lodge
in the park, wherein she harbored a great store of poor children which
lacked their parents; and then to a barn she had fitted up for to
afford a night's lodging to travellers; and to tend sick
people--albeit, saving herself, she had no one in her household at
that time one half so skilful in this way as my Lady l'Estrange. I
ween this was the sole place wherein her thoughts were so much
occupied that she did for a while forget her own troubles in curing
those of others. A woman had stopped there the past night, who, when
we went in, craved assistance from her for to carry her to her native
village, which was some fifteen miles north of Norwich. She was
afraid, she said, for to go into the town; for nowadays to be poor was
to be a wicked person in men's eyes; and a traveller without money was
like to be whipt and put into the stocks for a vagabond, which she
should die of if it should happen to her, who had been in the service
of a countess, and had not thought to see herself in such straits,
which she should never have been reduced to if her good lady had not
been foully dealt with. Lady Surrey, wishing, I ween, by some sort of
examination, to detect the truth of her words, inquired in whose
service she had lived.

"Madam," she answered, "I was kitchen maid in the Countess of
Leicester's house, and never left her service till she was murthered
some years back by a black villain in her household, moved by a
villain yet more black than himself."

"Murthered!" my lady exclaimed. "It was bruited at the time that lady
had died of a fall."

"Ay, marry," quoth the beggar,  shaking her head, "I warrant you,
ladies, that fall was compassed by more hands than two, and more minds
than one. But it be not safe for to say so; as Mark Hewitt could
witness if he was not dead, who was my sweetheart and a scullion at
Cumnor Place, and was poisoned in prison for that he offered to give
evidence touching his lady's death which would have hanged some which
deserved it better than he did--albeit he had helped to rob a coach in
Wales after he had been discharged, as we all were, from the old
place. Oh, if folks dared to tell all they do know, some which ride at
the queen's side should swing on a gibbet before this day
twelvemonth."

Lady Surrey sat down by this woman; and albeit I pulled her by the
sleeve and whispered in her ear to come away--for methought her talk
was not fitting for her to hear, whose mind ran too much already on
melancholy themes--she would not go, and questioned this person very
much touching the manner of Lady Leicester's life, and what was
reported concerning her death. This recital was given in a homely but
withal moving manner, which lent a greater horror to it than more
studied language should have done. She said her lady bad been ill some
time and never left her room; but that one day, when one of her lord's
gentlemen had come from London, and had been examining of the house
with the steward for to order some repairing of the old walls and
staircases, and the mason had been sent for also late in the evening,
a so horrible shriek was heard from the part of the house wherein the
countess's chamber was, that it frighted every person in the place, so
that they did almost lose their senses; but that she herself had run
to the passage on which the lady's bed-chamber did open, and saw some
planking removed, and many feet below the body of the countess lying
quite still, and by the appearance of her face perceived her to be
gone. And when the steward came to look also (this the woman said,
lowering her voice, with her hollow eyes fixed on Lady Surrey's
countenance, which did express fear and sorrow), "I'll warrant you, my
lady, he did wear a murtherer's visage, and I noticed that the corpse
bled at his approach. But methinketh if that earl which rides by the
queen's side, and treads the world under his feet, had then been nigh,
the mangled form should have raised itself and the cold dead lips
cried out, 'Thou art the man!' Marry, when poor folks do steal a
horse, or a sheep, or shoot the fallow-deer in a nobleman's park, they
straightway do suffer and lose their life; but if a lord which is a
courtier shall one day choose to put his wife out of his way for the
bettering of his fortunes, even though it be by a foul murther, no
more ado is made than if he had shot a pigeon in his woods."

Then changing her theme, she asked Lady Surrey to dress a wound in her
leg, for that she did hear from some in that place that she often did
use such kindness toward poor people. Without such assistance, she
said, to walk the next day would be very painful. My lady straightway
began to loosen the bandages which covered the sore, and inquired how
long a time it should be since it had been dressed.

"Four days ago," the beggar answered, "Lady l'Estrange had done her so
much good as to salve the wound with a rare ointment which had greatly
assuaged the pain, until much walking had inflamed it anew."

We both did smile; and my lady said she feared to show herself less
skilful than her old pupil; but if the beggar should be credited, she
did acquit herself indifferently well of her charitable task; and the
bounty she bestowed upon her afterward, I doubt not, did increase her
patient's esteem of her ability. But I did often wish that evening my
lady had not heard this woman's tale, for I perceived her to harp upon
it with a very notable persistency; and when I urged no credit should
attach itself to her  report, and it was most like to be untrue,
she affirmed that some similar surmises had been spoken of at the time
of Lady Leicester's death; and that Lord Sussex and Lord Arundel had
once mentioned, in her hearing, that the gypsy was infamed for his
wife's death, albeit never openly accused thereof. She had not taken
much heed of their discourse at the time, she said; but now it came
back into her mind with a singular distinctness, and it was passing
strange she should have heard from an eye-witness the details of this
tragedy. She should, she thought, write to her husband what the woman
had related; and then she changed her mind, and said she would not.

All my pleadings to her that she should think no more thereon were
vain. She endeavored to speak of other subjects, but still this one
was uppermost in her thoughts. Once, in the midst of an argument
touching the uses of pageants, which she maintained to be folly and
idle waste, but which I defended, for that they sometimes served to
exercise the wit and memory of such as contrive them, carrying on the
dispute in a lively fashion, hoping thus to divert her mind, she broke
forth in these exclamations: "Oh, what baneful influences do exist in
courts, when men, themselves honorable, abhor not to company with such
as be accused of foul crimes never disproved, and if they will only
stretch forth their blood-stained hands to help them to rise, disdain
not to clasp them!"

Then later, when I had persuaded her to play on the guitar, which she
did excellently well, she stopped before the air was ended to ask if I
did know if Lady Leicester was a fair woman, and if her husband was at
any time enamored of her. And when I was unable to resolve these
questions, she must needs begin to argue if it should be worse never
to be loved, or else to lose a husband's affection; and then asked me,
if Basil should alter in his liking of me, which she did not hold to
be possible, except that men be so wayward and inconstant that the
best do sometimes change, if I should still be glad he had once loved
me.

"If he did so much alter," I answered, "as no longer to care for me,
methinks I should at once cast him out of my heart; for then it would
not have been Basil, but a fancied being coined by mine own
imaginings, I should have doted on."

"Tut, tut!" she cried; "thou art too proud. If thou dost speak truly,
I misdoubt that to be love which could so easily discard its object."

"For my part," I replied, somewhat nettled, "I think the highest sort
of passion should be above suspecting change in him which doth inspire
it, or resenting a change which should procure it freedom from an
unworthy thrall."

"I ween," she answered, "we do somewhat misconceive each one the
other's meaning; and moreover, no parallel can exist between a wife's
affection and a maiden's liking." Then she said she hoped the poor
woman would stay another day, so that she might speak with her again;
for she would fain learn from her what was Lady Leicester's behavior
during her sorrowful years, and the temper of her mind before her so
sudden death.

"Indeed, dear lady," I urged, "what likelihood should there be that a
serving-wench in her kitchen should be acquainted with a noble lady's
thoughts?"

"I pray God," my lady said, "our meanest servants do not read in our
countenance, yea in the manner of our common and indifferent actions,
the motions of our souls when we be in such trouble as should only be
known to God and one true friend."

Lady Surrey sent in the morning for to inquire if the beggar was gone.
To my no small content she had departed before break of day. Some days
afterward a messenger from London brought to my lady, from Arundel
House, a letter from my  Lady Lumley, wherein she urged her to
repair instantly to London, for that the earl, her grandfather, was
very grievously sick, and desired for to see her. My lady resolved to
go that very day, and straightway gave orders touching the manner of
her journey, and desired her coach to be made ready. She proposed that
the while she was absent I should pay a visit to Lady l'Estrange,
which I had promised for to do before I left Norfolkshire; "and then,"
quoth my lady, "if my good Lord Arundel doth improve in his health, so
that nothing shall detain me at London, I will return to my
banishment, wherein my best comfort shall ever be thy company, good
Constance. But if peradventure my lord should will me to stay with
him" (oh, how her eyes did brighten! and the fluttering of her heart
could be perceived in her quick speech and the heaving of her bosom as
she said these words), "I will then send one of my gentlewomen to
fetch thee from Lynn Court to London; and if that should happen, why
methinks our meeting may prove more merry than our parting."

She then dispatched a messenger on horseback to Sir Hammond
l'Estrange's house, which did return in some hours with a very
obliging answer; for his lady did write that she almost hoped my Lady
Surrey would be detained in London, if so be it would not discontent
her, and so she should herself have the pleasure of my company for a
longer time, which was what she greatly desired.

For some miles, when she started, I rode with my lady in her coach,
and then mounted on a horse she had provided for my commodity, and,
accompanied by two persons of her household, went to Sir Hammond
l'Estrange's seat. It stood in a bleak country without scarce so much
as one tree in its neighborhood, but a store of purple heath, then in
flower, surrounding it on all sides. As we approached unto it, I for
the first time beheld the sea. The heath had minded me of Cannock
Chase and my childhood. I ween not what the sea caused me to think of;
only I know that the waves which I heard break on the shore had, to my
thinking, a wonderful music, so exceeding sweet and pleasant to mine
ears that one only sound of it were able to bring, so it did seem to
me, all the hearts of this world asleep. Yet although I listed
thereunto with a quiet joy, and mine eyes rested on those vasty depths
with so much contentment, as if perceiving therein some image of the
eternity which doth await us, the words which rose in my mind, and
which methinks my lips also framed, were these of Holy Writ: "Great as
the sea is thy destruction." If it be not that some good angel
whispered them in mine ear for to temper, by a sort of forecasting of
what was soon to follow, present gladness, I know not what should have
caused so great a dissimilarity between my then thinking and the words
I did unwittingly utter.

Lady l'Estrange met me on the steps of her house, which was small, but
such as became a gentleman of good fortune, and lacking none of the
commodities habitual to such country habitations. The garden at the
back of it was a true labyrinth of sweets; and an orchard on one side
of it, and a wood of fir-trees beyond the wall, shielded the shrubs
which grew therein from the wild sea-blasts. Milicent was delighted
for to show me every part of this her home. The bettering of her
fortunes had not wrought any change in the gentle humility of this
young lady. The attractive sweetness of her manner was the same,
albeit mistress of a house of her own. She set no greater store on
herself than she had done at the Charter-house, and paid her husband
as much respect and timid obedience as she had ever done her mistress.
Verily, in his presence I soon perceived she scarce held her soul to
be her own; but studied his looks with so much diligence, and framed
each word she uttered to his liking with so much  ingenuity, that
I marvelled at the wit she showed therein, which was not very apparent
in other ways. He was a tall man, of haughty carriage and
well-proportioned features. His eyes were large and gray; his nose of
a hawkish shape; his lips very thin. I never in any face did notice
the signs of so set a purpose or such unyielding lineaments as in this
gentleman. Milicent told me he was pious, liberal, an active
magistrate, and an exceeding obliging and indulgent husband; but
methought her testimony on this score carried no great weight with it,
for that her meekness would read the most ordinary kindnesses as rare
instances of goodness. She seemed very contented with her lot; and I
heard from Lady Surrey's waiting-maid (which she had sent with me from
Kenninghall) that all the servants in her house esteemed her to be a
most virtuous and patient lady; and so charitable, that all who knew
her experience her bounty. On the next day she showed me her garden,
her dairy, poultry-yard, and store-room; and also the closet where she
kept the salves and ointments for the dressing of wounds, which she
said she was every morning employed in for several hours. I said, if
she would permit me, I would try to learn this art under her
direction, for that nothing could be thought of more useful for such
as lived in the country, where such assistance was often needed. Then
she asked me if I was like to live in the country, which, from my
words, she hoped should be the case; and I told her, if it pleased
God, in one year I would be married to Mr. Rookwood, of Euston Hall;
which she was greatly rejoiced to learn.

Then, as we walked under the trees, talk ensued between us touching
former days at the Charter-house; and when the sun was setting amidst
gold and purple clouds, and the wind blew freshly from the sea, whilst
the barking of Sir Hammond's dogs, and the report of his gun as he
discharged it behind the house, minded me more than ever of old
country scenes in past time, my thoughts drew also future pictures of
what mine own home should be, and the joy with which I should meet
Basil, when he returned from the field-sports in which he did so much
delight. And a year seemed a long time to wait for so much happiness
as I foresaw should be ours when we were once married. "If Lady
l'Estrange is so contented," I thought, "whose husband is somewhat
churlish and stem, if his countenance and the reports of his neighbors
are to be credited, how much enjoyment in her home shall be the
portion of my dear Basil's wife! than which a more sweet-tempered
gentleman cannot be seen, nor one endued with more admirable qualities
of all sorts, not to speak of youth and beauty, which are perishable
advantages, but not without attractiveness."

Mrs. l'Estrange, an unmarried sister of Sir Hammond, lived in the
house, and some neighbors which had been shooting with him came to
supper. The table was set with an abundance of good cheer; and
Milicent sat at the head of it, and used a sweet cordiality toward all
her guests, so that every one should seem welcome to her hospitality;
but I detected looks of apprehension in her face, coupled with hasty
glances toward her husband, if any one did bring forward subjects of
discourse which Sir Hammond had not first broached, or did appear in
any way to differ with him in what he himself advanced. Once when Lord
Burleigh was mentioned, one of the gentleman said somewhat in
disparagement of this nobleman, as if he should have been to blame in
some of his dealings with the parliament, which brought a dark cloud
on Sir Hammond's brow. Upon which Milicent, the color coming into her
cheeks, and her voice trembling a little, as she seemed to cast about
her for some subject which should turn the current of this talk, began
to tell what a store of patients she had  seen that day, and to
describe them, as if seeking to stop the mouths of the disputants.
"One," quoth she, "hath been three times to me this week to have his
hands dressed, and I be verily in doubt what his station should be. He
hath a notable appearance of good breeding, albeit but poorly
apparelled, and his behavior and discourse should show him to be a
gentleman. The wounds of his hands were so grievously galled for want
of proper dressing, when he first came, I feared they should mortify,
and the curing of them to exceed my poor skill. The skin was rubbed
off the whole palms, as if scraped off by handling of ropes. A more
courageous patient could not be met with. Methought the dressing
should have been very painful, but he never so much as once did wince
under it. He is somewhat reserved in giving an account of the manner
in which he came by those wounds, and answered jestingly when I
inquired thereof. But to-morrow I will hear more on it, for I charged
him to come for one more dressing of his poor hands."

"Where doth this fellow lodge?" Sir Hammond asked across the table in
a quick eager manner.

"At Master Rugeley's house, I have heard," quoth his wife.

Then his fist fell on the table so that it shook.

"A lewd recusant, by God!" he cried. "I'll be sworn this is the popish
priest escaped out of Wisbeach, for whom I have this day received
orders to make diligent search. Ah, ah! my lady hath trapped the
Jesuit fox."

I looked at Milicent, and she at me. O my God, what looks those were!


CHAPTER XV.

Then methought was witnessed (I speak of the time when Sir Hammond
l'Estrange made the savage speech which caused his lady and me to
exchange affrighted looks) a rare instance of the true womanly courage
which doth sometimes lie at the core of a timid heart. The meek wife,
which dared not so much as to lift up her eyes to her lord if he did
only frown, or to oppose his will in any trifling matter; whose color
I had seen fly from her cheek if he raised his voice, albeit not in
anger against herself, now in the presence of those at table, with a
face as pale as ashes, but a steady voice, and eyes fixed on him, thus
addressed her husband:

"Sir, since we married I have never opposed your will, or in anything
I wot of offended you, or ever would if I could help it. Do not,
therefore, displeasure me so much, I beseech you, in this grave
instance, as to make me an instrument in the capture. And God knoweth
what should follow of one which came to me for help, and to whom the
service I rendered him would prove the means of his ruin if you
persist therein."

"Go to, madam, go to," cries Sir Hammond; "your business doth lie with
poor people, mine with criminals. Go your way, and intrude not
yourself in weightier matters than belong to your sex."

"Sir," she answers, braving his frowning looks, albeit her limbs began
to tremble, "I humbly crave your patience; but I will not leave you,
neither desist from my suit, except thereunto compelled by force. I
would to God my tongue had been plucked out rather than that it should
utter words which should betray to prison, yea, perhaps to death, the
poor man whose wounds I tended."

The cloud on Sir Hammond's brow waxed darker as she spoke. He glanced
at me, and methinks perceived my countenance to be as much disturbed
as his lady's. A sudden thought, I ween, then passed through his mind;
and with a terrible oath he swore that he misliked this strenuous
urging in favor of a vile popish priest, and yet more the manner of
this intercession.

"Heaven shield, madam," he cried, "you have not companied with
recusants so as to become infected with a lack of zeal for the
Protestant religion!"

The color returned for a moment to Lady l'Estrange's cheeks as she
answered:

"Sir, I have never, from the time my mother did teach me my prayers,
been of any other way of thinking than that wherein she then
instructed me, or so much as allowed myself one thought contrary to
true Protestant religion; or ever lent an ear, and with God's help
never will, to what papists do advance; but nevertheless, if this
priest do fall into any grievous trouble through my speeches, I shall
be a most unhappy woman all my life."

And then the poor soul, rising from her seat, went round to her
husband's side, and, kneeling, sought to take his hands, beseeching
him in such moving and piteous terms to change his purpose as I could
see did visibly affect some present. But I also noticed in Sir
Hammond's face so resolved an intent as if nothing in earth or heaven
should alter it. A drowning wretch  would as soon have moved a
rock to advance toward him as she succeeded in swerving his will by
her entreaties.

A sudden thought inspired me to approach her where she had sunk down
on her knees at her husband's feet, he seeking angrily to push her
away. I took her by the hand and said:

"I pray you, dear lady, come with me. These be indeed matters wherein,
as Sir Hammond saith, women's words do not avail."

Both looked at me surprised; and she, loosing her hold of him,
suffered me to lead her away. We went into the parlor, Mrs. l'Estrange
following us. But as I did try to whisper in her ear that I desired to
speak with her alone, the bell in the dining-room began to ring
violently; upon which she shuddered and cried out:

"Let me go back to him, Mistress Sherwood.  I'll warrant you he is
about to send for the constables; but beshrew me if I die not first at
his feet; for if this man should be hung, peace will be a stranger to
me all my life."

Mistress l'Estrange essayed to comfort her; but failing therein, said
she was very foolish to be so discomposed at what was no fault of
hers, and she should think no more thereon, for in her condition to
fret should be dangerous; and if people would be priests and papists
none could help if they should suffer for it. And then she left the
parlor somewhat ruffled, like good people sometimes feel when they
perceive their words to have no effect. When we were alone, "Lady
l'Estrange," I said, "where is Master Rugeley's house?"

"One mile, or thereabouts, across the heath," she answered.

"And the way to it direct?" I asked.

"Yea, by the footpath," she replied; "but much longer by the high
road."

I went to the window and opened the shutter and the lattice also. The
moon was shining very brightly.

"Is it that cottage near to the wood?" I inquired, pointing to a
thatched roof nigh unto the darksome line of trees against the sky.

"Yea," she answered, "how near it doth seem seen in this light!
Constance, what think you to do?" she exclaimed, when I went to her
cupboard and took out the keys she had showed me that morning opened
the doors of the kitchen garden and the orchard.

"Did you not say," I answered, "that the gentleman now in so great
peril did lodge with Master Rugeley?"

"Would you go there?" she said, looking aghast. "Not alone; you durst
not do it!"

"Twenty times over," I answered, "for to save a man's life, and he--he
a--" But there I stopped; for it was her fellow-creature she desired
to save. Her heart bled not like mine for the flock which should be
left without a shepherd; and albeit our fears were the same, we felt
not alike. I went into the hall, and she pursued me--one-half striving
to stay me from my purpose, one-half urging me to fulfil it; yet
retracting her words as soon as uttered.

"When I issue from the door of the orchard unto the heath," I said,
the while wrapping round me a cloak with a hood to it, "and pursue the
path in front, by what token may I find Master Rugeley's house if the
moon should be obscured?"

"Where two roads do meet," she said, "at the edge of the heath, a tall
oak doth stand near to a gate; a few steps to the right should then
lead to it. But verily, Mistress Constance, I be frightened to let you
go; and oh, I do fear my husbands's anger."

"Would you, then, have a man die by your means?" I asked, thinking for
to cure one terror by another, as indeed it did; for she cried,

"Nay, I will speed you on your way, good Constance; and show so brave
a face during your absence as God shall help me to do; yea, and open
the door for you myself, if my husband should kill me for it!"


Then she took the keys in her hand, and glided like unto a pale ghost
before me through the passage into the hall, so noiselessly that I
should have doubted if aught of flesh and blood could have moved so
lightly, and undid the bars of the back door without so much as a
sound. Then she would fetch some thick shoes for me to wear, which I
did entreat her not to stay me for; but nothing else would content the
poor soul, and, as she had the keys in her hand, I was forced to wait
her return with so much impatience as may be guessed. I heard the
voices of the gentlemen still carousing after supper; and then a
servant's below in the hall, who said the constables had been sent
for, and a warrant issued for the apprehension of a black papist at
Master Rugeley's. Then Milicent returned, and whilst I put on the
shoes she had brought, and she was tying with trembling fingers the
hood of my cloak, the rustling of Mrs. l'Estrange's silk gown was
heard on the stair above our heads, from whence we were like to be
seen; and, fear awakening contrivance, I said aloud,

"Oh, what a rare pastime it should be to dress as a ghost, and
frighten the good lady your sister-in-law! I pray you get me some
white powder to pale my face. Methinks we need some kind of sport to
drive away too much thinking on that dismal business in hand."

The steps over our head sounded more hurried, and we heard the door of
the parlor close with a bang, and the lattice also violently shut.

"Now," I whispered, "give me the keys, good Lady l'Estrange, and go to
your sister yourself. Say I was ashamed to have been overheard to plan
so rank a piece of folly (and verily you will be speaking no other
than the truth), and that you expect I shall not so much as show my
face in the parlor this evening; and lock also my chamber-door, that
none may for a surety know me for to be absent."

"Yea," answered the poor lady, with so deep a sigh as seemed to rend
her heart; "but, God forgive me, I never did think to hide anything
from my husband! And who shall tell me if I be doing right or wrong?"

I could not stay, though I grieved for her; and the sound of her voice
haunted me as I went through the garden, and then the orchard, unto
the common, locking the doors behind me. When this was done, I did
breathe somewhat more freely, and began to run along the straight path
amidst the heath. I wot not if my speed was great--the time seemed
long; yet methinks I did not slacken my pace once, but rather
increased it, till, perceiving the oak, and near it the gate Lady
l'Estrange had mentioned, I stopped to consider where to turn; and
after I had walked a little to the right I saw a cottage and a light
gleaming inside. Then my heart beat very fast; and when I knocked at
the door I felt scarce able to stand. I did so three times, and no
answer came. Then I cried as loudly as I could, "Master Rugeley, I
beseech you open the door." I heard some one stirring within, but no
one came. Then I again cried out, "Oh, for our Blessed Lady's sake,
some one come." At last the lattice opened, and a man's head appeared.

"Who are you?" he said, in a low voice.

"A friend," I answered, in a whisper; "a Catholic. Are yon Master
Rugeley?"

"Yea," he answered.

"Oh, then, if Mr. Tunstall is here, hide him quickly, or send him
away. I am a friend of Lady l'Estrange's and staying in her house. Sir
Hammond hath received tidings that a priest is in this neighborhood,
and a warrant is issued for to apprehend him. His lady unwittingly,
and sorely troubled she is thereat, showed by her speeches touching
your guest, that he is like to be Mr. Tunstall; and the constables
will soon be here."

"Thank you," he replied whom I was addressing; "but Mr. Tunstall is
not the name of my friend."

Then I feared he did take me for a spy, and I cried out, greatly
moved, "As I do hope to go to heaven one  day, and not to hell,
Master Rugeley, I speak the truth, and my warning is an urgent one."

Then I heard some one within the house, who said, "Open the door,
Master Rugeley. I should know that voice. Let the speaker in."

Methought I, too, knew the voice of the person who thus spoke. The
door was opened, and I entered a room dimly lighted by one candle.

"Oh, for God's sake," I cried, "if a priest is here, hide him
forthwith."

"Are you a Catholic, my child?"

I looked up to the person who put this question to me, and gave a
sudden cry, I know not whether of terror or joy; for great as was the
change which the lapse of years, and great inward and outward changes,
had wrought in his aspect, I saw it was my father.

"I am Constance," I cried; "Constance Sherwood! Oh, my dear father!"
and then fell at his feet weeping.

After an instant's, astonishment and fixed gazing on my face, he
recognized me, who was, I doubt not, more changed than himself, and
received me with a great paternal kindness and the tenderest greeting
imaginable, yet tempered with reserve and so much of restraint as
should befit one who, for Christ's sake, had dissevered himself from
the joys, albeit not from the affections, of the natural heart.

"Oh, my good child, my own dear Constance," he said; "hath God in his
bounty given thy poor father a miraculous sight of thee before his
death, or art thou come verily in flesh and blood to warn him of his
danger?"

"My dear and honored father," I replied, "time presses; peril is
indeed at hand, if you and Mr. Tunstall are the same person."

"The wounds in my hands," he answered, "must prove me such, albeit now
healed by the care of that good Samaritan, Lady l'Estrange. But
prithee, my good child, whence comest thou?"

"Alas!" I said; "and yet not alas, if God should be so good to me as
by my means to save you, I am Sir Hammond's guest, being a friend of
his lady's. I came there yesterday."

"Oh, my good child, I thought not to have seen thee in these thy
grown-up years. Master Rugeley," he added, turning to his host, "this
is the little girl I forsook four years ago, for to obtain the
hundredfold our Lord doth promise."

"My very dear father," I said, "joy is swallowed up in fear. God help
me, I came to warn a stranger (if so be any priest in these times
should be a stranger to a Catholic), and I find you."

"Oh, but I am mightfully pleased," quoth he, "to see thee, my child,
even in this wise, and to hear thee speak like a true daughter of Holy
Church. And Lady l'Estrange is then thy friend?"

"Yea, my dear father; but for God and our lady's sake hide yourself. I
warrant yon the constables may soon be here. Master Rugeley, where can
he be concealed, or whither fly, and I with him?"

"Nay, prithee not so fast," quoth he. "Flight would be useless; and in
the matter of hiding, one should be more easily concealed than two;
beside that, the hollow of a tree, which Master Rugeley will, I ween,
appoint me for a bed-chamber to-night, should hardly lodge us both
with comfort."

"Oh, sir," said Rugeley, "do not tarry."

"For thy sake, no; not for more than one minute, Thomas; but ere I
part from this wench, two questions I must needs ask her."

Then he drew me aside and inquired what facilities I continued to have
in London for the exercise of Catholic religion, and if I was punctual
in the discharge of my spiritual duties. When I had satisfied him
thereon, he asked if the report was true which he heard from a
prisoner for recusancy in Wisbeach Castle, concerning my troth-plight
with Mr. Rookwood.

"Yea," I said, "it is true, if so be you now do add your consent to
it."


He answered he should do so with all his heart, for he knew him to be
a good Catholic and a virtuous gentleman; and as we might lack the
opportunity to receive his blessing later, he should now give it unto
me for both his most dear children. Which he did, laying his hand on
my head with many fervent benisons, couched in such words as these,
that he prayed for us to be stayed up with the shore of God's grace in
this world; and after this transitory life should end, to ascend to
him, and appear pure and unspotted before his glorious seat. Then he
asked me if it was Lady l'Estrange who had detected him; whereupon I
briefly related to him what had occurred, and how sore her grief was
therein.

"God bless her," he answered; "and tell her I do thank her and pray
for her with all mime heart."

And more he would have added, but Master Rugeley opened the door
impatiently. So, after kissing once more my father's hand, I went
away, compelled thereunto by fears for his safety, if he should not at
once conceal himself.

Looking back, I saw him and his guide disappear in the thicket, and
then, as I walked on toward Lynn Court, it did almost seem to me as if
the whole of that brief but pregnant interview should have been a
dream; nor could I verily persuade myself that it was not a half
habitant of another world I had seen and spoken with rather than mine
own father; and in first thinking on it I scarcely did fully apprehend
the danger he was in, so as to feel as much pain as I did later, when
the joy and astonishment of that unexpected meeting had given way to
terrifying thoughts. Ever and anon I turned round to gaze on the dark
wood wherein his hopes of safety did lie, and once I knelt down on the
roadside to pray that the night should be also dark and shield his
escape. But still the sense of fear was dulled, and woke not until the
sound of horses' feet on the road struck on my ear, and I saw a party
of men riding across the common. The light in the cottage was
extinguished, but the cruel moon shone out then more brightly than
heretofore. Now I felt so sick and faint that I feared to sink down on
the path, and hurried through the orchard-door and the garden to the
house. When I had unlocked the back door and stood in the hall where a
lately kindled fire made a ruddy light to glow, I tried again to think
I had been dreaming, like one in a nightmare strives to shake off an
oppressive fancy. I could not remain alone, and composed my
countenance for to enter the parlor, when the door thereof opened and
Mrs. l'Estrange came out, who, when she perceived me standing before
her, gave a start, but recovering herself, said, good-naturedly:

"Marry, if this be not the ghost we have been looking for; now
ashamed, I ween, to show itself. I hope, Mistress Sherwood, you do not
haunt quiet folks in their beds at night; for I do, I warn you,
mislike living ghosts, and should be disposed to throw a jug of water
at the head of such a one." And laughing, she took my hand in a kind
manner, which when she did, almost a cry broke from her: "How now,
Milicent! she is as cold as a stone figure. Where has she been
chilling herself?"

Milicent pressed forward and led me to my chamber, wherein a fire had
been lighted, and would make me drink a hot posset. But when I thought
of the cold hollow of a tree wherein my father was enclosed, if it
pleased God no worse mishap had befallen him, little of it could I
force myself to swallow, for now tears had come to my relief, and
concealing my face in the pillow of the bed whereon for weariness I
had stretched myself, I wept very bitterly.

"Is that poor man gone from Rugeley's house?" Milicent whispered.

Alas! she knew not who that poor man was to me, nor with what anguish
I answered: "He is not in the  cottage, I hope; but God only
knoweth if his pursuers shall not discover him." The thought of what
would then follow overcame me, and I hid my face with mine hands.

"Oh, Constance," she exclaimed, "was this poor man known to thee, that
thy grief is so great, whose conscience doth not reproach thee as mine
doeth?"

I held out my hand to her without unshading my face with the other,
and said: "Dear Milicent! thou shouldst not sorrow so mach for thine
own part in this sore trial. It was not thy fault. He said so. He
blest thee, and prays for thee."

Uncomforted by my words, she cried again, what she had so often
exclaimed that night, "If this man should die, my happiness is over."

Then once more she asked me if I know this priest, and I was froward
with her (God forgive me, for the suspense and fear overthrew better
feelings for a moment), and I cried, angrily, "Who saith he is a
priest? Who can prove it?"

"Think you so?" she said joyfully; "then all should be right."

And once more, with some misdoubting, I ween, that I concealed
somewhat from her, she inquired touching my knowledge of this
stranger. Then I spoke harshly, and bade her leave me, for I had
sorrow enough without her intermeddling with it; but then grieving for
her, and also afraid to be left alone, I denied my words, and prayed
her to stay, which she did, but did not speak much again. The silence
of the night seemed so deep as if the rustling of a leaf could be
noticed; only now and then the voices of the gentlemen below, and some
loud talking and laughter from some of them was discernible through
the closed doors. Once Lady l'Estrange said: "They be sitting up very
late;  I suppose till the constables return. Oh, when will that be?"

The great clock in the hall then struck twelve; and soon after,
starting up, I cried, "What should be that noise?"

"I do hear nothing," she answered, trembling as a leaf.

"Hush," I replied, and going to the window, opened the lattice. The
sound in the road on the other side of the house was now plain. On
that we looked on naught was to be seen save trees and grass, with the
ghastly moonlight shining on them. A loud opening and shutting of
doors and much stir now took place within the house, and, moved by the
same impulse, we both went out into the passage and half way down the
stairs. Milicent was first. Suddenly she turned round, and falling
down on her knees, with a stifled exclamation, she hid her face
against me, whisperings "He is taken!"

We seemed both turned to stone. O ye which have gone through a like
trial, judge ye; and you who have never been in such straits, imagine
what a daughter should feel who, after long years' absence, beholdeth
a beloved father for one instant, and in the next, under the same roof
where she is a guest, sees him brought in a prisoner and in jeopardy
of his life. Every word which was uttered we could hear where we sat
crouching, fearful to advance--she not daring to look on the man she
had ruined, and I on the countenance of a dear parent, lest the sight
of me should distract him from his defence, if that could be called
such which he was called on to make. They asked him touching his name,
if it was Tunstall. He answered he was known by that name. Then
followed the murtherous question, if he was a Romish priest? To which
he at once assented. Then said Sir Hammond:

"How did you presume, sir, to return into England contrary to the
laws?"

"Sir," he answered, "as I was lawfully ordained a priest by a Catholic
bishop, by authority derived from the see of Rome" (one person here
exclaimed, "Oh, audacious papist! his  tongue should be cat out;"
but Sir Hammond imposed silence), "so likewise," he continued, "am I
lawfully sent to preach the word of God, and to administer the
sacraments to my Catholic countrymen. As the mission of priests
lawfully ordained is from Christ, who did send his apostles even as
his Father sent him, I do humbly conceive no human laws can justly
hinder my return to England, or make it criminal; for this should be
to prefer the ordinances of man to the commands of the supreme
legislator, which is Christ himself."

Loud murmurs were here raised by some present, which Sir Hammond again
silencing, he then inquired if he would take the oath of allegiance to
the queen? He answered (my straining ears taking note of every word he
uttered) that he would gladly pay most willing obedience to her
majesty in all civil matters; but the oath of allegiance, as it was
worded, he could not take, or hold her majesty to possess any
supremacy in spiritual matters. He was beginning to state the reasons
thereof, but was not suffered to proceed, for Sir Hammond,
interrupting him, said he was an escaped prisoner, and by his own
confession condemned, so he should straightway commit him to the gaol
in Norwich. Then I lost my senses almost, and seizing Lady
l'Estrange's arm, I cried, "Save him! he is mine own father, Mr.
Sherwood!" She uttered a sort of cry, and said, "Oh, I have feared
this, since I saw his face!" and running forward, I following her,
affrighted at what should happen, she called out, "It shall not be! He
shall not do it!" and with a face as white as any smock, runs to her
husband, and perceiving the constables to be putting chains on my
father's hands and feet, which I likewise beheld with what feelings
you who read this may think, she falls on her knees and gasps out
these words in such a mournful tone, that I shuddered to hear her,
"Oh, sir! if this man leaves this house a chained prisoner, I shall
never be the like of my-self again. There shall be no more joy for me
in life." And then faints right away, and Sir Hammond carries her in
his arms out of the hall. Mine eyes the while met my father's; who
smiled on me with kind cheer, but signed for me to keep away. I
stretched my arms toward him, and with his chained hand he contrived
yet once more for to bless me; then was hurried out of my sight. Far
more time than I ever did perceive or could remember the length of I
remained in that now deserted hall, motionless, alone, near to the
dying embers, the darkness still increasing, too much confused to
recall at once the comforts which sacred thoughts do yield in such
mishaps, only able to clasp my hand and utter broken sentences of
prayer, such as "God, ha' mercy on us," and the like; till about the
middle of the night, Sir Hammond comes down the stairs, with a lamp in
his hand, and a strange look in his face.

"Mistress Sherwood," he says, "come to my lady. She is very ill, and
hath been in labor for some time. She doth nothing but call for you,
and rave about that accursed priest she will have it she hath
murthered. Come and feign to her he hath escaped."

"O God!" I cried, "my words may fall on her ear, Sir Hammond, but my
face cannot deceive her."

He looked at me amazed and angry. "What meaneth this passion of grief?
What is this old man to you, that his misfortune should thus disorder
you?" And as I could not stay my weeping, he asked in a scornful
manner, "Do papists so dote on their priests as to die of sorrow when
they get their deserts?" This insulting speech did so goad me, that,
unable to restrain myself, I exclaimed, "Sir Hammond, he whom you have
sent to a dungeon, and perhaps to death also (God pardon you for it!),
is my true father!--the best parent and the noblest gentleman that
ever breathed, which for many years I had not seen; and here under
your roof, myself your guest, I  have beheld him loaded with
chains, and dared not to speak for fear to injure him yet further,
which I pray God I have not now done, moved thereunto by your cruel
scoffs."

"Your father!" he said amazed; "Mr. Sherwood! These cursed feignings
do work strange mishaps. But he did own himself a priest."

Before I had time to answer, a serving woman ran into the hall, crying
out, "Oh, sir, I pray you come to my lady. She is much worse; and the
nurse says, if her mind is not eased she is like to die before the
child is born."

"Oh, Milicent! sweet Milicent!" I cried, wringing my hands; and when I
looked at that unhappy husband's face, anger vanished and pity took
its place. He turned to me with an imploring countenance as if he
should wish to say, "None but you can save her." I prayed to Our Lady,
who stood and fainted not beneath the Rood, to get me strength for to
do my part in that sick chamber whither I signed to him to lead the
way. "God will help me," I whispered in his ear, "to comfort her."

"God bless you!" he answered in a hoarse voice, and opened the door of
the room in which his sweet lady was sitting in her bed, with a wild
look in her pale blue eyes, which seemed to start out of her head.

"Sir," I heard her say, as he approached, "what hath befallen the poor
man you would not dismiss?"

I took a light in my hand, so that she should see my face, and smiled
on her with such good cheer, as God in his mercy gave me strength to
do even amidst the two-fold anguish of that moment. Then she threw her
arms convulsively round my neck, and her pale lips gasped the same
question as before. I bent over her, and said, "Trouble yourself no
longer, dear lady, touching this prisoner. He is safe (in God's
keeping, I added, internally). He is where he is carefully tended (by
God's angels, I mentally subjoined); he hath no occasion to be afraid
(for God is his strength), and I warrant you is as peaceful as his
nearest friends should wish him to be."

"Is this the truth?" she murmured in my ear.

"Yea," I said, "the truth, the very truth," and kissed her flushed
cheek. Then feeing like to faint, I went away, Sir Hammond leading me
to my chamber, for I could scarce stand.

"God bless you!" he again said, when he left me, and I think he was
weeping.

I fell into a heavy, albeit troubled, sleep, and when I awoke it was
broad daylight. When the waiting-maid came in, she told me Lady
l'Estrange had been delivered of a dead child and Sir Hammond was
almost beside himself with grief. My lady's mind had wandered ever
since; but she was more tranquil than in the night. Soon after he sent
to ask if he could see me, and I went down to him into the parlor. A
more changed man, in a few hours, I ween, could not be seen, than this
poor gentleman. He spoke not of his lady; but briefly told me he had
sent in the night a messenger on horseback to Norwich, with a letter
to the governor of the gaol, praying him to show as much
consideration, and allow so much liberty as should consist with
prudence, to the prisoner in his custody, sent by him a few hours
before, for that he had discovered him not to be one of the common
sort, nor a lewd person, albeit by his own confession amenable to the
laws, and escaped from another prison. Then he added, that if I wished
to go to Norwich, and visit this prisoner, he would give me a letter
to the governor, and one to a lady, who would conveniently harbor me
for a while in that city, and his coach should take me there, or he
would lend me a horse and a servant to attend me. I answered, I should
be glad to go, and then said somewhat of his lady, hoping she should
now do well. He made no reply for a moment, and then only said,

"God knoweth! she is not like herself at the present."

The words she had so mournfully  spoken the day before came into
my mind, "I shall never be like myself again, and there shall be no
more joy in this house." And, methinks, they did haunt him also.

I sat for some time by her bedside that day. She seemed not ill at
ease, but there was something changed in her aspect, and her words
when she spoke had no sense or connection. And here I will set down,
before I relate the events which followed my brief sojourn under their
roof, what I have heard touching the sequel of Sir Hammond and his
wife's lives.

In that perilous and sorely troubled childbirth understanding was
alienated, and the art of the best physicians in England could never
restore it. She was not frantic; but had such a pretty deliration,
that in her ravings there was oftentimes more attractiveness than in
many sane persons' conversation. They mostly ran on pious themes, and
she was wont to sing psalms, and talk of heaven, and that she hoped to
see God there; and in many things she showed her old ability, such as
fine embroidery and the making of preserves. One day her waiting-woman
asked her to dress a person's wounds, which did greatly need it, and
she set herself to do it in her accustomed manner; but at the sight of
the wounds, she was seized with convulsions, and became violently
delirious, so that Sir Hammond sharply reprehended the imprudent
attendant, and forbade the like to be ever proposed to her again. He
gave himself up to live retired with her, and ceased to be a
magistrate, nor ever, that I could hear of, took any part again in the
persecution of Catholics. The distemper which had estranged her mind
in all things else, had left her love and obedience entire to her
husband; and he entertained a more visible fondness, and evinced a
greater respect for her after she was distempered than he had ever
done in the early days of their marriage. Methinks, the gentleness of
her heart, and delicacy of her conscience, which till that misfortune
had never, I ween, been burdened by any, even the least,
self-reproach, and the lack of strength in her mind to endure an
unusual stress, made the stroke of that accidental harm done to
another through her means too heavy for her sufferance, and, as the
poet saith, unsettled reason on her throne. For mine own part, but let
others consider of it as they list, I think that had she been a
Catholic by early training and distinct belief, as verily I hope she
was in rightful intention, albeit unconsciously to herself (as I make
no doubt many are in these days, wherein persons are growing up with
no knowledge of religion except what Protestant parents do instill
into them), that she would have had a greater courage for to bear this
singular trial; which to a feeling natural heart did prove unbearable,
but which to one accustomed to look on suffering as not the greatest
of evils, and to hold such as are borne for conscience sake as great
and glorious, would not have been so overwhelming. But herein I write,
methinks, mine own condemnation, for that in the anguish of filial
grief I failed to point out to her during those cruel moments of
suspense that which in retrospection I do so clearly see. And so, may
God accept the blighting of her young life, and the many sufferings of
mine which I have still to record, as pawns of his intended mercies to
both her and to me in his everlasting kingdom!

When I was about to set out for Norwich, late in the afternoon of that
same day, Sir Hammond's messenger returned from thence with a letter
from the governor of the gaol; wherein he wrote that the prisoner he
had sent the night before was to proceed to London in a few hours with
some other priests and recusants which the government had ordered to
be conveyed thither and committed to divers prisons. He added, that he
had complied with Sir Hammond's request, and shown so much favor to
Mr. Tunstall as to transfer him, as soon as he  received his
letter, from the common dungeon to a private cell, and to allow him to
speak with another Catholic prisoner who had desired to see him. Upon
this I prayed Sir Hammond to forward me on my journey to London, as
now I desired nothing so much as to go there forthwith; which he did
with no small alacrity and good disposition. Then, with so much speed
as was possible, and so much suffering from the lapse of each hour
that it seemed to me the journey should never end, I proceeded to what
was now the object of my most impatient pinings--the place where I
should bear tidings of my father, and, if it should be possible,
minister assistance to him in his great straits. At last I reached
Holborn; and, to the no small amazement of my uncle, Mrs. Ward, and
Muriel, revealed to them who Mr. Tunstall was, whose arrival at the
prison of Bridewell Mrs. Ward had had notice of that morning, when she
had been to visit Mr. Watson, which she had contrived to do for some
time past in the manner I will soon relate.

CHAPTER XVI.

One of the first persons I saw in London was Hubert Rookwood, who,
when he heard (for being Basil's brother I would not conceal it from
him) that my father was in prison at Bridewell, expressed so much
concern therein and resentment of my grief, that I was thereby moved
to more kindly feelings toward him than I had of late entertained. He
said that in the houses of the law which he frequented he had made
friends which he hoped would intercede in his behalf, and therein
obtain, if not his release, yet so much alleviation of the hardships
of a common prison as should render his condition more tolerable, and
that he would lose no time in seeking to move them thereunto; but that
our chief hope would lie in Sir Francis Walsingham, who, albeit much
opposed to papists, had always showed himself willing to assist his
friends of that way of thinking, and often procured for them some
relief, which indeed none had more experienced than Mr. Congleton
himself. Hubert commended the secrecy which had been observed touching
my father's real name; for if he should be publicly known to be
possessed of lands and related to noble families, it should be harder
for any one to get him released than an obscure person; but
nevertheless he craved license to intimate so much of the truth to Sir
Francis as should appear convenient, for he had always observed that
gentlemen are more compassionate to those of their own rank than to
others of meaner birth. Mr. Congleton prayed him to use his own
discretion therein, and said he should acquaint no one himself of it
except his very good friend the Portuguese ambassador, who, if all
other resources failed, might yet obtain of the queen herself some
mitigation of his sentence. Thereupon followed some days of weary
watching and waiting, in which my only comfort was Mistress Ward, who,
by means of the gaoler's wife, who had obliged her in the like manner
before, did get access from time to time to Mr. Watson, and brought
him necessaries. From him she discovered that the prisoner in the
nearest cell to his own was the so-called Mr. Tunstall, and that by
knocks against the wall, ingeniously numbered so as to express the
letters of the alphabet, as one for _a_, two for _b_, and so to the
end thereof, they did communicate. So she straightway began to
practice this management; but time allowed not of many speeches to
pass between them. Yet in this way he sent me his blessing, and that
he was of very good cheer; but that none should try for to visit him,
for he had only one fear, which was to bring others into trouble; and,
for himself, he was much beholden to her majesty, which had provided
him with a quiet lodging and time to look to his soul's welfare;
which evidence of his cheerful and pious spirit comforted me not a
little. Then that dear friend which had brought me this good comfort
spoke of Mr. Watson, and said she desired to procure his escape from
prison more than that of any other person in the same plight, not
excepting my father. "For, good Constance," quoth she, "when a man is
blest with a stout heart and cheerful mind, except it be for the sake
of others, I pray you what kind of service do you think we render him
by delaying the victory he is about to gain, and peradventure
depriving him of the long-desired crown of martyrdom? But this good
Mr. Watson, who as you well know was a zealous priest and pious
missioner, nevertheless, some time after his apprehension and
confinement in Bridewell, by force of torments and other miseries of
that place, was prevailed upon to deny his faith so far as to go once
to the Protestant service--not dragged there by force as some have
been, but compelled thereunto by fear of intolerable sufferings, and
was then set at liberty. But the poor man did not thus better his
condition; for the torments of his mind, looking on himself as an
apostate and traitor to the Church, he found to be more insupportable
than any sufferings his gaolers put upon him. So, after some miserable
weeks, he went to one of the prisons where some other priests were
confined for to seek comfort and counsel from them; and, having
confessed his fault with great and sincere sorrow, he received
absolution, and straightway repaired to that church in Bridewell
wherein he had in a manner denied his faith, and before all the people
at that time therein assembled, declared himself a Catholic, and
willing to go to prison and to death sooner than to join again in
Protestant worship. Whereupon he was laid hold of, dragged to prison,
and thrown into a dungeon so low and so straight that he could neither
stand up in it nor lay himself down at his full length to sleep. They
loaded him with irons, and kept him one whole month on bread and
water; nor would suffer any one to come near him to comfort or speak
with him."

"Alas!" I cried, "and is this, then, the place where my father is
confined?'

"No,", she answered; "after the space of a month Mr. Watson was
translated to a lodging at the top of the house, wherein the prisoners
are leastways able to stretch their limbs and to see the light; but he
having been before prevailed on to yield against his conscience
touching that point of going to Protestant worship, no peace is left
to him by his persecutors, which never cease to urge on him some sort
of conformity to their religion. And, Constance, when a man hath once
been weak, what security can there be, albeit I deny not hope, that he
shall always after stand firm?"

"But by what means," I eagerly asked, '"do you forecast to procure his
escape?"

"I have permission," she answered, "to bring him necessaries, which I
do in a basket, on condition that I be searched at going in and coming
out, for to make sure I convey not any letter unto him or from him;
and this was so strictly observed the first month that they must needs
break open the loaves or pies I take to him lest any paper should be
conveyed inside. But they begin now to weary of this strict search,
and do not care at ways to hearken when I speak with him; so he could
tell me the last time I did visit him that he had found a way by which
if he had but a cord long enough for his purpose, he could let himself
down from the top of the house, and so make his escape in the night."

"Oh," I cried, "dear Mistress Ward, but this is a perilous venture, to
aid a prisoner's escape. One which a daughter might run for her
father, oh, how willingly, but for a stranger--"

"A stranger!" she answered. "Is he a stranger for whom Christ died,
and whose precious soul is in danger,  even if not a priest; and
being so, is he not entitled to more than common reverence, chiefly in
these days when God's servants minister to us in the midst of such
great straits to both soul and body?'

"I cry God mercy," I said; "I did term him a stranger who gave ghostly
comfort to my dear mother on her death-bed; but oh, dear Mistress
Ward, I thought on your peril, who, he knoweth, hath been as a mother
to me for these many years. And then-if you are resolved to run this
danger, should it not be possible to save my father also by the same
means? Two cords should not be more difficult to convey, methinks,
than one, and the peril not greater."

"If I could speak with him," she replied, "it would not be impossible.
I will tell Muriel to make two instead of one of these cords, which
she doth twine in some way she learnt from a Frenchman, so strong as,
albeit slight, to have the strength of a cable. But without we do
procure two men with a boat for to fetch the prisoners when they
descend, 'tis little use to make the attempt. And it be easier, I
warrant thee, Constance, to run one's self into a manifest danger than
to entice others to the like."

"Should it be safe," I asked, "to speak thereon to Hubert Rookwood? He
did exhibit this morning much zeal in my father's behalf, and promised
to move Sir Francis Walsingham to procure his release."

"How is he disposed touching religion? she asked, in a doubtful
manner.

"Alas!" I answered, "there is a secrecy in his nature which in more
ways than one doth prove unvestigable, leastways to me; but when he
comes this evening I will sound him thereon. Would his brother were in
London! Then we should not lack counsel and aid in this matter."

"We do sorely need both," she answered; "for your good uncle, than
which a better man never lived, wanes feeble in body, and hence easily
overcome by the fears such enterprises involve. Mr. Wells is not in
London at this tune, or he should have been a very palladium of
strength in this necessity. Hubert Rookwood hath, I think, a good
head."

"What we do want is a brave heart," I replied, thinking on Basil.

"But wits also," she said.

"Basil hath them too," I answered, forgetting that only in mine own
thinking had he been named.

"Yea," she cried, "who doth doubt it? but, alas! he is not here."

Then I prayed her not to be too rash in the prosecution of her design.
"Touching my father," I said, "I have yet some hope of his release;
and as long as any remaineth, flight should be methinks a too
desperate attempt to be thought of."

"Yea," she answered, "in most cases it would be so." But Mr. Watson's
disposition she perceived to be such as would meet a present danger
and death itself, she thought, with courage, but not of that stamp
which could endure prolonged fears or infliction of torments.

Since my coming to London I had been too much engaged in these weighty
cares to go abroad; but on that day I resolved, if it were possible,
to see my Lady Surrey. A report had reached me that the breach between
her and her husband had so much deepened that a separation had ensued,
which if true, I, which knew her as well almost as mine own self,
could judge what her grief must be. I was also moved to this endeavor
by the hope that if my Lord Arundel was not too sick to be spoken
with, she should perhaps obtain some help through his means for that
dear prisoner whose captivity did weigh so heavily on my heart.

So, with a servant to attend on me, I went through the city to the
Chapter-house, and with a misgiving mind heard from the porter that
Lady Surrey lodged not there, but at Arundel House, whither she had
removed soon after her coming to London.  Methought that in the
telling of it this man exhibited a sorrowful countenance; but not
choosing to question one of his sort on so weighty a matter, I went on
to Arundel House, where, after some delay, I succeeded in gaining
admittance to Lady Surrey's chamber, whose manner, when she first saw
me, lacked the warmth which I was used to in her greetings. There
seemed some fear in her lest I should speak unadvisedly that which she
would be loth to hear; and her strangeness and reserve methinks arose
from reluctance to have the wound in her heart probed,--too sore a
one, I ween, even for the tender handling of a friend. I inquired of
her if my Lord Arundel's health had improved. She said he was better,
and like soon to be as well as could be hoped for now-a-days, when his
infirmities had much increased.

"Then you will return to Kenninghall?" I said, letting my speech
outrun discretion.

"No," she replied; "I purpose never more to leave my Lord Arundel or
my Lady Lumley as long as they do live, which I pray God may be many
years."

And then she sat without speaking, biting her lips and wringing the
kerchief she held in her hands, as if to keep her grief from
outbursting. I dared not to comment on her resolve, for I foresaw that
the least word which should express some partaking of her sorrow, or
any question relating to it, would let loose a torrent weakly stayed
by a mightful effort, not like to be of long avail. So I spoke of mine
own troubles, and the events which had occasioned my sudden departure
from Lynn Court. She had heard of Lady l'Estrange's mishap, and that
the following day I had journeyed to London; but naught of the causes
thereof, or of the apprehension of any priest by Sir Hammond's orders.
Which, when she learnt the manner of this misfortune, and the poor
lady's share therein, and that it was my father she had thus
unwittingly discovered, her countenance softened, and throwing her
arms round my neck, she bitterly wept, which at that moment methinks
did her more good than anything else.

"Oh, mine own good Constance," she said, "I doubt not nature riseth
many passionate workings in your soul at this time; but, my dear
wench, when good men are in trouble our grief for them should be as
noble as their virtues. Bethink thee what a worst sorrow it should be
to have a vile father, one that thou must needs love,--for who can
tear out of his heart affection strong as life?--and he should then
prove unworthy. Believe me, Constance, God gives to each, even in this
world, a portion of their deserts. Such griefs as thy present one I
take to be rare instances of his favor. Other sorts of trials are meet
for cowardly souls which refuse to set their lips to a chalice of
suffering, and presently find themselves submerged in a sea of woes.
But can I help thee, sweet one? Is there aught I can do to lighten thy
affliction? Hast thou license for to see thy father?"

"No, dear lady," I answered; "and his name being concealed, I may not
petition as his daughter for this permission; but if my Lord Arundel
should be so good a lord to me as to obtain leave for me to visit this
prisoner, without revealing his name and condition, he should do me
the greatest benefit in the world."

"I will move him thereunto," my lady said. "But he who had formerly no
equal in the queen's favor, and to whom she doth partly owe her crown,
is now in his sickness and old age of so little account in her eyes,
that trifling favors are often denied him to whom she would once have
said: 'Ask of me what thou wilt, and I will give it unto thee.' But
what my poor endeavors can effect through him or others shall not be
lacking in this thy need. But I am not in that condition I was once
like to have enjoyed." Then with her eyes cast on the ground she
seemed for to doubt if she should  speak plainly, or still shut
up her grief in silence. As I sat painfully expecting her next words,
the door opened, and two ladies were announced, which she whispered in
mine ear she would fain not have admitted at that time, but that Lord
Arundel's desire did oblige her to entertain them. One was Mistress
Bellamy, and the other her daughter, Mistress Frances, a young
gentlewoman of great beauty and very lively parts, which I had once
before seen at Lady Ingoldsby's house. She was her parents' sole
daughter, and so idolized by them that they seemed to live only to
minister to her fancies. Lord Arundel was much bounden to this family
by ancient ties of friendship, which made him urgent with his
granddaughter that she should admit them to her privacy. I admired in
this instance how suddenly those which have been used to exercise such
self-command as high breeding doth teach can school their exterior to
seem at ease, and even of good cheer, when most ill at ease
interiorly, and with hearts very heavy. Lady Surrey greeted these
visitors with as much courtesy, and listened to their discourse with
as much civility and smiles when called for, as if no burthensome
thoughts did then oppress her.

Many and various themes were touched upon in the random talk which
ensued. First, that wonted one of the queen's marriage, which some
opined should verily now take place with Monsieur d'Alençon; for that
since his stealthy visits to England, she did wear in her bosom a
brooch of jewels in a frog's shape.

"Ay," quoth Mistress Frances, "that stolen visit which awoke the ire
of the poor soul Stubbs, who styled it 'an unmanlike, unprincelike,
French kind of wooing,' and endeth his book of 'The Gaping Gulph' in a
loyal rage: 'Here is, therefore, an imp of the crown of France, to
marry the crowned nymph of England,'--a nymph indeed well stricken in
years. My brother was standing by when Stubbs' hand was cut off; for
nothing else would content that sweet royal nymph, albeit the lawyers
stoutly contended the statute under which he suffered to be null and
void. As soon as his right hand is off, the man takes his hat off with
the left, and cries 'God bless the queen!'"

"Here is a wonder," I exclaimed; "I pray you, what is the art this
queen doth possess by which she holdeth the hearts of her subjects in
so great thrall, albeit so cruel to them which do offend her?"

"Lady Harrington hath told me her majesty's own opinion thereon," said
Mrs. Bellamy; "for one day she did ask her in a merry sort, 'How she
kept her husband's good-will and love?' To which she made reply that
she persuaded her husband of her affection, and in so doing did
command his. Upon which the queen cries out, 'Go to, go to, Mistress
Moll! you are wisely bent, I find. After such sort do I keep the good
wills of all my husbands, my good people; for if they did not rest
assured of some special love toward them, they would not readily yield
me such good obedience.'"

"Tut, tut!" cried Mistress Frances; "all be not such fools as John
Stubbs; and she knoweth how to take rebukes from such as she doth not
dare to offend. By the same token that Sir Philip Sydney hath written
to dissuade her from this French match, and likewise Sir Francis
Walsingham, which last did hint at her advancing years; and her
highness never so much as thought of striking off their hands. But I
warrant you a rebellion shall arise if this queen doth issue such
prohibitions as she hath lately done."

"Of what sort?" asked Lady Surrey.

"First, to forbid," Mrs. Bellamy said, "any new building to be raised
within three thousand paces of the gates of London on pain of
imprisonment, and sundry other penalties; or for more than one family
to inhabit in one house. For her majesty holds it  should be an
impossible thing to govern or maintain order in a city larger than
this London at the present time."

Mistress Frances declared this law to be more tolerable than the one
against the size of ladies' ruffs, which were forsooth not to exceed a
certain measure; and officers appointed for to stand at the comers of
streets and to clip such as overpassed the permitted dimensions, which
sooner than submit to she should die.

Lady Surrey smiled, and said she should have judged so from the size
of her fine ruff.

"But her majesty is impartial," quoth Mrs. Bellamy; "for the
gentlemen's rapiers are served in the same manner. And verily this law
hath nearly procured a war with France; for in Smithfield Lane some
clownish constables stayed M. de Castelnau, and laid hands on his
sword for to shorten it to the required length. I leave you to judge.
Lady Surrey, of this ambassador's fury. Sir Henry Seymour, who was
tidying the air in Smithfield at the time, perceived him standing with
the drawn weapon in his hand, threatening to kill whosoever should
approach him, and destruction on this realm of England if the officers
should dare to touch his sword again; and this with such frenzy of
speech in French mixed with English none could understand, that God
knoweth what should have ensued if Sir Henry had not interfered. Her
majesty was forced to make an apology to this mounseer for that her
officers had ignorantly attempted to clip the sword of her good
brother's envoy."

"Why doth she not clip," Mistress Frances said, "if such be her
present humor, the orange manes of her gray Dutch horses, which are
the frightfullest things in the world?"

"Tis said," quoth Mrs. Bellamy, "that a new French embassy is soon
expected, with the dauphin of Auvergne at its head."

"Yea," cried her daughter, "and four handsome English noblemen to meet
them at the Tower stairs, and conduct them to the new banqueting-house
at Westminster,--my Lord Surrey, Lord Windsor, Sir Philip Sydney, and
Sir Fulke Greville. Methinks this should be a very fine sight, if rain
doth not fall to spoil it."

I saw my Lady Surrey's countenance change when her husband was
mentioned; and Mrs. Bellamy looked at her daughter forasmuch as to
check her thoughtless speeches, which caused this young lady to glance
round the room, seeking, as it seemed, for some other topic of
conversation.

Methinks I should not have preserved so lively a recollection of the
circumstances of this visit if some dismal tidings which reached me
afterward touching this gentlewoman, then so thoughtless and innocent,
had not revived in me the memory of her gay prattle, bright unabashed
eyes, and audacious dealing with subjects so weighty and dangerous,
that any one less bold should have feared to handle them. After the
pause which ensued on the mention of Lord Surrey's name, she took for
her text what had been said touching the prohibitions lately issued
concerning ruffs and rapiers, and began to mock at her majesty's
favorites; yea, and to mimic her majesty herself with so much humor
that her well-acted satire must have needs constrained any one to
laugh. Then, not contented with these dangerous jests, she talked such
direct treason against her highness as to say she hoped to see her
dethroned, and a fair Catholic sovereign to reign in her stead, who
would be less shrewish to young and handsome ladies. Then her mother
cried her, for mercy's sake, to restrain her mad speech, which would
serve one day to bring them all into trouble, for all she meant it in
jest.

"Marry, good mother," she answered, "not in jest at all; for I do
verily hold myself bound to no allegiance to this queen, and would
gladly see her get her deserts."

Then Lady Surrey prayed her not to speak so rashly; but methought in
 her heart, and somewhat I could perceive of this in her eyes,
she misliked not wholly this young lady's words, who then spoke of
religion; and oh, how zealous therein she did appear, how boldly
affirmed (craving Lady Surrey's pardon, albeit she would warrant, she
said, there was no need to do so, her ladyship she had heard being
half a papist herself) that she had as lief be racked twenty times
over and die also, or her face to be so disfigured that none should
call her ever after anything but a fright--which martyrdom she held
would exceed any yet thought of--than so much as hold her tongue
concerning her faith, or stay from telling her majesty to her face, if
she should have the chance to get speech with her, that she was a foul
heretic, and some other truths beside, which but once to utter in her
presence, come of it what would, should be a delicious pleasure. Then
she railed at the Catholics which blessed the queen before they
suffered for their religion, proving them wrong with ingenious reasons
and fallacious arguments mixed with pleasantries not wholly becoming
such grave themes. But it should have seemed as reasonable to be angry
with a child babbling at random of life and death in the midst of its
play, as with this creature, the lightest of heart, the fairest in
face, the most winsome in manner, and most careless of danger, that
ever did set sail on life's stream.

Oh, how all this rose before me again, when I heard, two years
afterward, that for her bold recusancy--alas! more bold, as the
sequel proved, than deep, more passionate than fervent--this only
cherished daughter, this innocent maiden, the mirror of whose fame no
breath had sullied, and on whose name no shadow had rested, was torn
by the pursuivants from her parents' home, and cast into a prison with
companions at the very aspect of which virtue did shudder. And the
unvaliant courage, the weak bravery, of this indulged and wayward
young lady had no strength wherewith to resist the surging tides of
adversity. No voice of parent, friend, or ghostly father reached her
in that abode of despair. No visible angel visited her, but a fiend in
human form haunted her dungeon. Liberty and pleasure he offered in
exchange for virtue, honor, and faith. She fell; sudden and great was
that fall.

There is a man the name of which hath blenched the cheeks and riven
the hearts of Catholics, one who hath caused many amongst them to lose
their lands and to part from their homes, to die on gibbets and their
limbs to be torn asunder--one Richard Topcliffe. But, methinks, of all
the voices which shall be raised for to accuse him at Christ's
judgment-seat, the loudest will be Frances Bellamy's. Her ruin was his
work; one of those works which, when a man is dead, do follow him;
whither, God knoweth!

Oh, you who saw her, as I did, in her young and innocent years, can
you read this without shuddering? Can you think on it without weeping?
As her fall was sudden, so was the change it wrought. With it vanished
affections, hopes, womanly feelings, memory of the past; nay, methinks
therein I err. Memory did yet abide, but linked with hatred; Satan's
memory of heaven. From depths to depths she hath sunk, and is now
wedded to a mean wretch, the gaoler of her old prison. So rank a
hatred hath grown in her against recusants and mostly priests, that it
rages like a madness in her soul, which thirsts for their blood. Some
months back, about the time I did begin to write this history, news
reached me that she had sold the life of that meek saint, that sweet
poet, Father Southwell, of which even an enemy, Lord Mountjoy, did
say, when he had seen him suffer, "I pray God, where that man's soul
now is, mine may one day be." Her father had concealed him in that
house where she had dwelt in her innocent days. None but the family
knew the secret of its hiding-place.
She did reveal it, and took gold for her wages! What shall be that
woman's death-bed? What trace doth remain on her soul of what was once
a share in the divine nature? May one of God's ministers be nigh unto
her in that hour for to bid her not despair! If Judas had repented,
Jesus would have pardoned him. Peradventure, misery without hope of
relief overthrew her brain. I do pray for her always. 'Tis a vain
thought perhaps, but I sometimes wish I might, though I see not how to
compass it, yet once speak with her before she or I die. Methinks I
could say such words as should touch some old chord in her dead heart.
God knoweth! That day I write of, little did I ween what her end would
be. But yet it feared me to hear one so young and of so frail an
aspect speak so boastfully; and it seemed even then to my
inexperienced mind, that my Lady Surrey, who had so humbly erewhile
accused herself of cowardice and lamented her weakness, should be in a
safer plight, albeit as yet unreconciled.

The visit I have described had lasted some time, when a servant came
with a message to her ladyship from Mr. Hubert Rookwood, who craved to
be admitted on an urgent matter. She glanced at me somewhat surprised,
upon which I made her a sign that she should condescend to his
request; for I supposed he had seen Sir Francis Walsingham, and was in
haste to confer with me touching that interview; and she ordered him
to be admitted. Mrs. Bellamy and her daughter rose to go soon after
his entrance; and whilst Lady Surrey conducted them to the door he
asked me if her ladyship was privy to the matter in hand. When I had
satisfied him thereof, he related what had passed in an interview he
had with Sir Francis, whom he found ill-disposed at first to stir in
the matter, for he said his frequent remonstrances in favor of
recusants had been like to bring him into odium with some of the more
zealous Protestants, and that he must needs, in every case of that
sort, prove it to be his sole object to bring such persons more
surely, albeit slowly, by means of toleration, to a rightful
conformity; and that with regard to priests he was very loth to
interfere.

"I was compelled," quoth Hubert, "to use such arguments as fell in
with the scope of his discourse, and to flatter him with the hope of
good results in that which he most desired, if he would procure Mr.
Sherwood's release, which I doubt not he hath power to effect. And in
the end he consented to lend his aid therein, on condition he should
prove on his side so far conformable as to suffer a minister to visit
and confer with him touching religion, which would then be a pretext
for his release, as if it were supposed he was well disposed toward
Protestant religion, and a man more like to embrace the truth when at
liberty than if driven to it by stress of confinement. Then he would
procure," he added, "an order for his passage to France, if he
promised not to return, except he should be willing to obey the laws."

"I fear me much," I answered, "my father will not accept these terms
which Sir Francis doth offer. Methinks he will consider they do
involve some lack of the open profession of his faith."

"It would be madness for one in his plight to refuse them," Hubert
exclaimed, and appealed thereon to Lady Surrey, who said she did
indeed think as he did, for it was not like any better could be
obtained.

It pained me he should refer to her, who from conformity to the times
could not well conceive how tender a Catholic conscience should feel
at the least approach to dissembling on this point.

"Wherein," he continued, "is the harm for to confer with a minister,
or how can it be construed into a denial of a man's faith to listen to
his arguments, unless, indeed, he feels himself to be in danger of
being shaken by them?"

"You very well know," I exclaimed  with some warmth, "that not to
be my meaning, or what I suppose his should be. Our priests do
constantly crave for public disputations touching religion, albeit
they eschew secret ones, which their adversaries make a pretext of to
spread reports of their inability to defend their faith, or
willingness to abandon it. But heaven forbid I should anyways prejudge
this question; and if with a safe conscience--and with no other I am
assured will he do it--my father doth subscribe to this condition,
then God be praised for it!"

"But you will move him to it, Mistress Constance?" he said.

"If I am so happy," I answered, "as to get speech with him, verily I
will entreat him not to throw away his life, so precious to others, if
so be he can save it without detriment to his conscience."

"Conscience!" Hubert exclaimed, "methinks that word is often
misapplied in these days."

"How so?" I asked, investigating his countenance, for I misdoubted his
meaning. Lady Surrey likewise seemed desirous to hear what he should
say on that matter.

"Conscience," he answered, "should make persons, and mostly women,
careful how they injure others, and cause heedless suffering, by a too
great stiffness in refusing conformity to the outward practices which
the laws of the country enforce, when it affects not the weightier
points of faith, which God forbid any Catholic should deny. There is
often as much of pride as of virtue in such rash obstinacy touching
small yieldings as doth involve the ruin of a family, separation of
parents and children, and more evils than can be thought of."

"Hubert," I said, fixing mine eyes on him with a searching look he
cared not, I ween, to meet, for he cast his on a paper he had in his
hand, and raised them not while I spoke, "'sit is by such reasonings
first, and then by such small yieldings as you commend, that some have
been led two or three times in their lives, yea, oftener perhaps, to
profess different religions, and to take such contradictory oaths as
have been by turns prescribed to them under different sovereigns, and
God each time called on to witness their perjuries, whereby truth and
falsehood in matters of faith shall come in time to be words without
any meaning."

Then he: "You do misapprehend me, Mistress Constance, if you think I
would counsel a man to utter a falsehood, or feign to believe that
which in his heart he thinketh to be false. But, in heaven's name, I
pray you, what harm will your father do if he listens to a minister's
discourse, and suffers it to be set forth he doth ponder thereon, and
in the meantime escapes to France? whereas, if he refuses the loophole
now offered to him, he causeth not to himself alone, but to you and
his other friends, more pain and sorrow than can be thought of, and
deprives the Church of one of her servants, when her need of them is
greatest."

I made no reply to this last speech; for albeit I thought my father
would not accede to these terms, I did not so far trust mine own
judgment thereon as to predict with certainty what his answer should
be. And then Hubert said he had an order from Sir Francis that would
admit me on the morrow to see my father; and he offered to go with me,
and Mistress Ward too, if I listed, to present it, albeit I alone
should enter his cell. I thanked him, and fixed the time of our going.

When he had left  us,  Lady Surrey commended his zeal, and also his
moderate spirit, which did charitably allow, she said, for such as
conformed to the times for the sake of others which their
reconcilement would very much injure.

Before I could reply she changed this discourse, and, putting her
hands on my shoulders and kissing my forehead, said,

"My Lady Lumley hath heard so much from her poor niece of one
Mistress Constance Sherwood, that she doth greatly wish to see this
young gentlewoman and very resolved papist." And then taking me by the
arm she led me to that lady's chamber, where I had as kind a welcome
as ever I received from any one from her ladyship, who said "her dear
Nan's friends should be always as dear to her as her own," and added
many fine commendations greatly exceeding my deserts.

CHAPTER XVII.

When I had been a short time in my Lady Lumley's chamber, my Lord
Arundel sent for his granddaughter, who was wont, she told me, at that
hour to write letters for him; and I stayed alone with her ladyship,
who, as soon as Lady Surrey left us, thus broke forth in her praise:

"Hath any one, think you. Mistress Sherwood, ever pictured or imagined
a creature more noble, more toward in disposition, more virtuous in
all her actions, of greater courage in adversity or patience under
ill-usage than this one, which God hath sent to this house to cheer
two lonely hearts, whilst her own is well-nigh broken?"

"Oh, my Lady Lumley!" I exclaimed, "I fear some new misfortune hath
befallen this dear lady, who is indeed so rare a piece of goodness
that none can exceed in describing her deserts. Hitherto she hath
condescended to impart her sorrows to her poor friend; but to-day she
shut up her griefs in her own bosom, albeit I could read unspoken
suffering in every lineament of her sweet countenance."

"God forgive me," her ladyship replied, "if in speaking of her wrongs
I should entertain over-resentful feelings toward her ungracious
husband, whom once I did love as a mother, and very loth hath my heart
been to condemn him; but now, if it were not that I myself received
him in my arms what time he was born, whose life was the cause of my
sweet young sister's death, I should doubt he could be her son."

"What fresh injury," I timidly asked, "hath driven Lady Surrey from
her house?"

"_Her_ house no longer," quoth Lady Lumley. "She hath no house, no
home, no husband worthy of the name, and only an old man nigh unto the
grave, alas! and a poor feeble woman such as I am to raise a voice in
her behalf, who is spurned by one who should have loved and cherished
her, as twice before God's altar he vowed to do. Oh," cried the poor
lady, weeping, "she hath borne all things else with a sweet fortitude
which angels looking down on her must needs have wondered at. She
would ever be excusing this faithless husband with many pretty wiles
and loving subterfuges, making, sweet sophist, the worst appear the
better reason. 'Men must needs be pardoned,' she would say, when my
good father waxed wroth at his ill-usage of her, 'for such outward
neglect as many practice in these days toward their wives, for that it
was the fashion at the court to appear unhusbandly; but if women would
be patient, she would warrant them their love should be requited at
last.' And when news came that Phil had sold an estate for to
purchase--God save the mark!--a circlet of black pearls for the queen;
and Lord Arundel swore he should leave him none of his lands but what
by act of parliament he was compelled to do, she smiled winsomely, and
said: 'Yea, my lord, I pray you, let my dear Phil be a poor man as his
father wished him to be, and then, if it please God, we may live in a
cottage and be happy.' And so turned away his anger by soft words, for
he  laughed and answered: 'Heaven help thee. Nan! but I fear that
cottage must needs be Arundel Castle, for my hands are so tied therein
that thy knavish husband cannot fail to inherit it. And beshrew me if
I would either rob thee of it, mine own good Nan, or its old walls of
thy sweet presence when I shall be dead.' And so she always pleaded
for him, and never lost heart until . . . Oh, Mistress Sherwood, I
shall never forget the day when her uncle, Francis Dacre--wisely or
unwisely I know not, but surely meaning well--gave her to read in this
house, where she was spending a day, a letter which had fallen into
his hands, I wot not how, in the which Philip--God forgive
him!--expressed some kind of doubt if he was truly married to her or
not. Some wily wretch had, I ween, whispered to him, in an evil hour,
this accursed thought. When she saw this misdoubt written in his hand
she straightway fell down in a swoon, which recovering from, the first
thing she did was to ask for her cloak and hat, and would have walked
alone to her house if I had not stayed her almost by force, until Lord
Arundel's coach could be got ready for her. In less than two hours she
returned with so wan and death-like a countenance that it frighted me
to see her, and for some time she would not speak of what had passed
between her lord and herself; only she asked for to stay always in
this house, if it should please her grandfather, and not to part from
us any more. At the which speech I could but kiss her, and with many
tears protest that this should be the joyfullest news in the world to
Lord Arundel and to me, and what he would most desire, if it were not
for her grief, which, like an ill wind, yet did blow us this good.
'Yea,' she answered, with the deepest sigh which can be thought of, 'a
cold, withering blast which driveth me from the shelter which should
be mine! I have heard it said that when Cardinal Wolsey lay a-dying he
cried, "It were well with me now if I had served my God with the like
zeal with which I have served my king," or some words of that sort.
Oh, my Lady Lumley!' the poor child exclaimed, 'if I had not loved
Philip more than God and his Church, methinks I should not thus be
cast off!' 'Cast off,' I cried; 'and has my graceless nephew, then,
been so wicked?' 'Oh, he is changed,' she answered--'he is changed.
In his eyes, in his voice, I found not Philip's looks, nor Philip's
tones. Nought but harshness and impatience to dismiss me. The queen,
he said, was coming to rest at his house on her way to the city, and
he lacked leisure to listen to my complaints. Then I felt grief and
anger rise in my breast with such vehemency that I charged him, maybe
too suddenly, with the doubt he had expressed in his letter to my Lord
Oxford. His face flushed deeply; but drawing up haughtily, as one
aggrieved, he said the manner of our marrying had been so unusual that
there were some, and those persons well qualified to judge, who
misdoubted if there did not exist a flaw in its validity. That he
should himself be loth to think so, but that to seek at that moment to
prove the contrary, when his fortunes hung on a thread, would be to
ruin him.'

"There she paused, and clasped her hands together as if scarce able to
proceed; but soon raising her head, she related in a passionate manner
how her heart had then swelled well-nigh to bursting, pride and
tenderness restraining the utterance of such resentful thoughts as
rose in her when she remembered his father's last letter, wherein he
said his chief prop and stay in his fallen estate should be the wife
he had bestowed on him; of her own lands sold for the supply of his
prodigal courtiership; of her long patience and pleading for him to
others; and this his present treatment of her, which no wife could
brook, even if of mean birth and virtue, much loss one his equal in
condition, as well dowered as any in the land,  and as faithful
and tender to him as he did prove untoward to her. But none of these
reproaches passed her lips; for it was an impossible thing to her, she
said, to urge her own deserts, or so much as mention the fortune she
had brought him. Only twice she repeated, 'Ruin your fortunes, my
lord! ruin your fortunes! God help me, I had thought rather to mend
them!' And then, when he tried to answer her in some sort of evading
fashion, as if unsaying, and yet not wholly denying his former speech,
she broke forth (and in the relation of this scene the passion of her
grief renewed itself) in vehement adjurations, which seemed somewhat
to move him, not to be so unjust to her or to himself as to leave that
in uncertainty which so nearly touched both their honors; and if the
thought of a mutual love once existing between them, and a firm bond
of marriage relied on with unshaken security, and his father's dying
blessing on it, and the humble duty she had shown him from the time
she had borne his name, sufficed not to resolve him thereunto, yet for
the sake of justice to one fatherless and brotherless as herself, she
charged him without delay to make that clear which, left uncertain,
concerned her more nearly than fortune or state, and without which no,
not one day, would she abide in his house. Then the sweet soul said
she hoped, from his not ungracious silence and the working of his
features, which visibly revealed an inward struggle, that his next
words should have been of comfort to her; but when she had drawn nigh
to him, and, taking his hand, called him by his name with so much of
reproachful endearment as could be expressed in the utterance of it, a
gentleman broke into the room crying out: 'My lord, my lord, the
trumpets do sound! The queen's coach is in sight.' Upon which, she
said that, with a muttered oath, he started up and almost thrust her
from him, saying, 'For God's sake, be gone!' And by a back-door,' she
added, 'I went out of mine own house into the street, where I had left
my Lord Arundel's coach, and crept into it, very faint and giddy, the
while the queen's coach did enter the court with gay banners waving,
and striking-up of music, and the people crying out, "God bless the
queen!" I cry God mercy for it,' she said, 'but I could not say amen.'
Now she is resolved," my Lady Lumley continued, "never to set her foot
again in any of her husband's houses, except he doth himself entreat
her to it, and makes that matter clear touching his belief in the
validity of their marriage; and methinks she is right therein. My Lord
Arundel hath written to remonstrate with his grandson touching his
ill-usage of his lady, and hath also addressed her majesty thereupon.
But all the comment she did make on his letter, I have been told, was
this: 'That she had heard my Lord Arundel was in his dotage; and
verily she did now hold it to be so, for that she had never received a
more foolish letter; and she did pity the old white horse, which was
now only fit to be turned out to grass;' and other biting jests,
which, when a sovereign doth utter them, carry with them a rare
poignancy."

Then my Lady Lumley wiped her eyes, and bade me to be of good cheer,
and not to grieve overmuch for Lady Surrey's troubles (but all the
while her own tears continued to flow), for that she had so noble and
religious a disposition, with germs of so much virtue in it, that she
thought her to be one of those souls whom Almighty God draws to
himself by means of such trials as would sink common natures; and that
she had already marked how, in much prayer, ever-increasing good
works, and reading of books which treat of wholesome doctrine and
instruction, she presently recalled the teachings of her childhood,
and took occasion, when any Catholics came to the house, to converse
with them touching religion. Then, with many kind expressions, she
dismissed me; and on the stairs, as I went out, I met  Lady
Surrey, who noticed mine eyes to be red with weeping, and, embracing
me, said:

"I ween Lady Lumley hath been no hider of my griefs, good Constance,
and, i' faith, I am obliged to her if she hath told thee that which I
would fain not speak of, even to thee, dear wench. There are sorrows
best borne in silence; and since the last days we talked together mine
have grown to be of that sort. And so farewell for to-day, and may God
comfort thee in thy nobler troubles, and send his angels to thine
aid."

When I returned to Holborn, Mistress Ward met me with the news that
she had been to the prison, and heard that Mr. Watson was to be
strenuously examined on an approaching day--and it is well known what
that doth signify--touching the names of the persons which had
harbored him since his coming to England. And albeit he was now
purposed steadily to endure extreme torments sooner than to deny his
faith or injure others, she did so much apprehend the weakness of
nature should betray him, that her resolve was taken to attempt the
next day, or rather on the following night, to further his escape. But
how, she asked, could my father be dealt with in time touching that
matter? I told her I was to see him on the morrow, by means of an
order from Sir Francis Walsingham, and should then lay before him the
issues offered unto his election. She said she was very much contented
to hear it; and added, she must now secure boatmen to assist in the
escape who should be reliable Catholic men; and if in this she did
succeed, she feared not to fail in her design.

At the hour I had fixed upon with Hubert, on the next day, he came to
carry me to the prison at Bridewell. Mistress Ward prevailed on Mr.
Congleton to go thither with us, for she was loth to be seen there in
company with known persons, and added privily in mine ear, "The more
so at a time when it may happen I should get into trouble touching the
matter I have in hand." When we reached the place, Hubert presented to
the gaoler Sir Francis's letter, which was also signed by the
governor, and I was forthwith conducted to my father's cell. When I
entered it, and advanced toward that dear prisoner, I dared not in the
man's presence to show either the joy or grief I felt at that meeting,
but stood by his side like one deprived of the power of speech, and
only struggling to restrain my tears. I feared we should not have been
left alone, and then this interview should have proved of little use
or comfort; but after setting for me a chair, which he had sent
for--for there was only one small bench in the cell--this officer
withdrew, and locked the door on me and that dear parent, whose face
was very white and wan, but who spoke in as cheerful and kind a manner
as can be thought of, albeit taxing me with wilfulness for that I had
not complied with his behest that none should come to visit him. I
would not have the chair which had been sent for me--for I did hold
it to be an unbecoming thing for a daughter to sit down in her
father's presence (and he a priest), who had only a poor bench to rest
his limbs on--but placed myself on the ground at his feet; which at
first he misliked, but afterward said it should be as I pleased. Then,
after some affectionate speeches, wherein his great goodness toward me
was shown, and my answers to them, which disburthened my heart of some
of the weight which oppressed it, as did likewise the shedding of a
few tears on his hand, which was clasped in mine, I spoke, in case
time should press, of Sir Francis's offer, and the condition thereunto
attached, which I did with a trembling voice, and yet such indifferent
tones as I could affect, as if showing no leaning to one way of
thinking or the other, touching his acceptance of these terms. In the
brief time which did elapse between my speaking and his reply,
methinks I had an equal fear lest he should  assent or dissent
therein--filial love mightfully prompting me to desire his acceptance
of this means of deliverance, yet coupled with an apprehension that in
that case he should stand one degree less high in the favor of God and
the eyes of men. But I was angered with myself that I should have mine
own thoughts therein, or in any way form a judgment forestalling his,
which peradventure would see no evil in this concession; and
forecasting also the consequences which should ensue if he refused, I
resolved to move him thereunto by some such words as these: "My dearly
beloved father, if it be possible, I pray you yield this small matter
to those that seek to save your life. Let the minister come to satisfy
Sir Francis, and all shall be well, yea, without your speaking one
word, or by so much as one look assenting to his arguments."

I dared not to meet his eyes, which he fixed on me, but kept kissing
his hand whilst he said: "Daughter Constance, labor not to move me in
this matter; for far above all other things I may have to suffer,
nothing would touch me so near, or be so grievous to me, as to see
you, my well-beloved child, try to persuade me unto that which in
respect of my soul I will never consent to. For, I pray you, first as
regards religion, can I suffer any to think, albeit I should give no
cause for it but silence, that my faith is in any wise shaken, which
peradventure would prove a stumbling-block to others? or, touching
truth and honesty, shall I accept life and freedom on some such
supposition as that I am like to change my religion, when I should as
soon think to cast myself into hell of mine own free will as to deny
one point of Catholic belief? No, no, mine own good child; 'tis a
narrow path which doth lead to heaven, and maybe it shall prove
exceeding narrow for me ere I reach its end, and not over easy to the
feet or pleasant to the eye; but God defend I should by so much as one
hair's-breadth overpass a narrowness which tendeth to so good a
conclusion; and verily, to be short, my good child, tender my thanks
to Sir Francis Walsingham--who I doubt not meaneth excellently well by
me--and to young Master Rookwood, who hath dealt with him therein;
but tell them I am very well pleased with my present abode as long as
it shall please God to keep me in this world; and when he willeth me
to leave it, believe me, daughter Constance, the quickest road to
heaven shall be the most pleasing to me."

His manner was so resolved that I urged him no further, and only
heaved a deep sigh. Then he said, kindly: "Come, mine own good child,
give me so much comfort as to let me hear that thou art of the same
way of thinking in this matter as thy unworthy but very resolved
father."

"My dear father," I replied, "methinks I never loved you so well, or
honored you one half so much as now, when you have cast off all human
consolation, yea, and a certain hope of deliverance, rather than give
occasion to the enemies of our faith to boast they had prevailed on
you, in ever so small a matter, to falter in the open profession
thereof; and I pray God, if ever I should be in a like plight, I may
not prove myself to be otherwise than your true child in spirit as in
nature. As to what shall now follow your refusal, it lieth in God's
hands, and I know he can deliver you, if he doth will it, from this
great peril you are in."

"There's my brave wench," quoth he then, laying his scarred hand on my
head; "thy mother had a prophetic spirit, I ween, when she said of
thee when yet a puling girl, 'As her days, so shall her strength be.'
Verily God is very good, who hath granted us these moments of peaceful
converse in a place where we had once little thought for to meet."

As I looked upon him, sitting on a poor bench in that comfortless
cell, his noble fair visage oldened by hardships and toils rather than
years, his eyes so full of peace, yea of contentment, that  joy
seemed to beam in them, I thought of the words of Holy Writ, which do
foretell which shall be said hereafter of the just by such as have
afflicted them and taken away their labors: "There are they whom we
had some time in derision and for a parable of reproach. We fools
esteemed their life madness and their end without honor. Behold, how
they are numbered with the children of God, and their lot amongst the
saints."

At that time a knock against the wall was heard, and my father set his
ear against it, counting the number of such knocks; for it was Mr.
Watson, he said, beginning to converse with him in their wonted
fashion. "I will tell him I am engaged," quoth he, in his turn tapping
in the same manner. "But peradventure he hath somewhat to
communicate," I said.

"No," he answered, "for in that case he would have knocked three times
at first, for on this signal we have agreed." Smiling, he added, "We
do confess to each other in this way. 'Tis somewhat tedious, I do
admit; but thanks be to God we lack not leisure here for such duties."

Then I briefly told him of Mistress Ward's intent to procure Mr.
Watson's escape.

"Ay," he said, "I am privy to it, and I do pray God it may succeed. It
should be to me the greatest joy in the world to hear that good man
was set free, or made free by any good means."

"Then," I added, "will you not join in the attempt, if so be she can
convey to you a cord? and the same boat should carry you both off."

"Nay," he replied; "for more reasons than one I am resolved against
that in mine own case which in Mr. Watson's I do commend. This
enterprise must needs bring that good woman, Mrs. Ward, into some sort
of danger, which she doth well to run for his sake, and which he doth
not wrong to consent unto, she being of a willing mind to encounter
it. For if the extremity of torture should extort the admissions they
do seek from him, many should then grievously suffer, and mostly his
own soul. But I have that trust in God, who hath given me in all my
late perils what nature had verily not furnished me with, an undaunted
spirit to meet sufferings with somewhat more than fortitude, with a
very great joy such as his grace can only bestow, that he will
continue to do so, whatever straits I do find myself in; and being so
minded, I am resolved not again by mine own doing to put mine own and
others' lives in jeopardy; but to take what he shall send in the
ordinary course of things, throwing all my care on him, without whose
knowledge and will not so much as one hair of our heads doth fall to
the ground. But I am glad to be privy to the matter in hand for Mr.
Watson, so as to pray for him this day and night, and also for that
noble soul who doth show herself so true a Christian in her care for
his weal and salvation."

Then, changing to other themes, he inquired of me at some length
touching the passages of my life since he had parted with me, and my
dispositions touching the state of life I was about to embrace,
concerning which he gave me the most profitable instructions which can
be thought of, and rules of virtue, which, albeit imperfectly
observed, have proved of so great and wholesome guidance to my
inexperienced years that I do stand more indebted to him for this fine
advice, there given me, than for all other benefits besides. He then
spoke of Edmund Genings, who, by a special dispensation of the Pope,
had lately been ordained priest, being but twenty-three years of age,
and said the preparation he had made for receiving this holy order was
very great, and the impression the greatness of the charge made upon
his mind so strong, that it produced a wonderful effect in his very
body, affecting for a time his health. He was infirmarian at Rheims,
and labored among the sick students, a very model of piety and
humility; but _vivamus in spe_ was still, as heretofore, his motto,
and that hope in which he lived was to be sent upon the English
mission. These, my father said, were the last tidings he had heard of
him. His mother he did believe was dead, and his younger brother had
left La Rochelle and was in Paris, leading a more gay life than was
desirable. "And now I pray you, mine own dear honored father," I said,
"favor me, I beseech you, with a recital of your own haps since you
landed in England, and I ceased to receive letters from you." He
condescended to my request, in the words which do follow:

"Well, my good child, I arrived in this country one year and five
months back, having by earnest suit and no small difficulty obtained
from my superiors to be sent on the English mission; for by reason of
the weakness of my health, and some use I was of in the college, owing
to my acquaintanceship with the French and the English languages, Dr.
Allen was loth to permit my departure. I crossed the seas in a small
merchant-vessel, and landed at Lynn. The port-officers searched me to
the skin, and found nothing on me; but one Sledd, an informer, which
had met me in an inn at Honfleur, where I had lodged for some days
before sailing for England, had taken my marks very precisely; and
arriving in London some time before I landed in Norfolk, having been
stayed by contrary winds in my longer passage, he there presented my
name and marks; upon which the queen's council sent to the searchers
of the ports. These found the said marks very apparent in me; but for
the avoiding of charges, the mayor of the place, one Mr. Alcock, and
Rawlins the searcher, requested a gentleman which had landed at the
same time with me, and who called himself Haward, to carry me as a
prisoner to the lord-lieutenant of the county. He agreed very easily
thereunto; but as soon as we were out of the town, 'I cannot,' says
this gentleman, 'in conscience, nor will not, being myself a Catholic,
deliver you, a Catholic priest, prisoner to the lord-lieutenant. But
we will go straight to Norwich, and when we come there, shift for
yourself, as I will do for myself.'

"Coming to Norwich, I went immediately to one of the gaols, and
conferred with a Catholic, a friend of mine, which by chance I found
out to be there imprisoned for recusancy. I recounted to him the order
of my apprehension and escape; and he told me that in conscience I
could not make that escape, and persuaded me I ought to yield myself
prisoner; whereupon I went to my friend Haward, whom, through the
aforesaid Catholic prisoner, I found to be no other than Dr. Ely, a
professor of canon and civil law at Douay. I requested him to deliver
to me the mayor's letter to the lord-lieutenant. 'Why, what will you
do with it?' said he. 'I will go,' I said, 'and carry it to him, and
yield myself a prisoner; for I am not satisfied I can make this escape
in conscience, having had a contrary opinion thereon.' And I told him
what that prisoner I had just seen had urged. 'Why,' said Haward,
'this counsel which hath been given you proceedeth, I confess, from a
zealous mind; but I doubt whether it carrieth with it the weight of
knowledge. You shall not have the letter, nor you may not in
conscience yield yourself to the persecutors, having so good means
offered to escape their cruelty.' But as I still persisted in my
demand, 'Well,' said Mr. Haward, 'seeing you will not be turned by me
from this opinion, let us go first and consult with such a man,' and
he named one newly come over, who was concealed at the house of a
Catholic not very far off. This was a man of singular wit aid
learning, and of such rare virtues that I honored and reverenced him
greatly, which Mr. Haward perceiving, he said, with a smile, 'If he be
of your opinion, you shall have the letter, and go in God's name!'
When we came  to him, he utterly disliked of my intention, and
dissuaded me from what he said was a fond cogitation. So being
assuaged, I went quietly about my business, and travelled for the
space of more than a year from one Catholic house to another in
Norfolk and Suffolk, ministering the sacraments to recusants, and
reconciling many to the Church, which, from fear or lack of
instruction or spiritual counsel, or only indifferency, had conformed
to the times. Methinks, daughter Constance, for one such year a man
should be willing to lay down a thousand lives, albeit, or rather
because, as St. Paul saith, he be 'in journeyings often, in perils
from his own nation, in perils from false brethren' (oh, how true and
applicable do these words prove to the Catholics of this land!), 'in
perils in the city, in perils of the wilderness, in perils of the
sea.' And if it pleases God now to send me labors of another sort, so
that I may be in prisons frequently, in stripes above measure, and,
finally, in death itself, his true servant,--oh, believe me, my good
child, the right fair house I once had, with its library and garden
and orchard, and everything so handsome about us, and the company of
thy sweet mother, and thy winsome childish looks of love, never gave
me so much heartfelt joy and comfort as the new similitude I
experience, and greater I hope to come, to my loved and only Master's
sufferings and death!"

At this time of his recital my tears flowed abundantly; but with an
imparted sweetness, which, like a reflected light, shone from his soul
on mine. But to stay my weeping he changed his tone, and said with
good cheer:

"Come now, my wench, I will presently make thee merry by the recital
of a strait in which I once found myself, and which maketh me to laugh
to think on it, albeit at the time, I warrant thee, it was like to
prove no laughable matter. It happened that year I speak of that I was
once secretly sent for by a courtlike gentleman of good wealth that
had lived in much bravery, and was then sick and lying in great pain.
He had fallen into a vehement agitation and deep study of the life to
come; and thereupon called for a priest--for in mind and opinion he
was Catholic--that he might learn from him to die well. According to
the custom of the Church, I did admonish him, among other things, that
if he had any way hurt or injured any man, or unjustly possessed other
men's goods, he should go about by-and-by to make restitution
according to his ability. He agreed to do so, and called to mind that
he had taken away something from a certain Calvinist, under pretence
of law indeed, but not under any good assurance for a Catholic
conscience to trust to. Therefore, he took order for restitution to be
made, and died. The widow, his wife, was very anxious to accomplish
her husband's will; but being afraid to commit the matter to any one,
her perplexed mind was entangled in briers of doubtfulness. She one
day declared her grief unto me, and beseeched me, for God's sake, to
help her with my counsel and travail. So, seeing her distress, I
proffered to put myself in any peril that might befall in the doing of
this thing; but, indeed, persuaded myself that no man would be so
perverse as of a benefit to desire revengement. Therefore committing
the matter to God, I mounted on horseback, and away I went on my
journey. When I came to the town where the man did dwell to whom the
money was to be delivered, I set up my horse in the next inn, that I
might be readier at hand to scape immediately after my business was
despatched. I then went to the creditor's house, and called the man
forth alone, taking him by the hand and leading him aside from the
company of others. Then I declared to him that I had money for him,
which I would deliver into his hands with this condition, that he
inquired no further either who sent or who brought it unto him, or
what  the cause and matter was, but only receive the money and
use it as his own. The old fellow promised fair, and with a good will
gave his word faithfully so to do, and with many thanks sent me away.
With all the speed I was able to make, I hastened to mine host's
house, for to catch hold of my horse and fly away. But forthwith the
deceitful old fellow betrayed me, and sent men after to apprehend me,
not supposing me this time to be a priest, but making the surmise
against me that forsooth I was not a man but a devil, which had
brought money of mine own making to bewitch him. All the people of the
town, when they heard the rumor, confirmed the argument, with this
proof among others, that I had a black horse, and gave orders for to
watch the animal diligently, whether he did eat hay as other horses,
or no. As for me, they put a horse-lock about my leg, shut me up close
in a strong chamber, and appointed a fellow to be with me continually,
night and day, which should watch if I did put off my boots at any
time, and if my feet were like horses' feet, or that I was
cloven-footed, or had feet slit and forked as beasts have; for this
they affirmed to be a special mark whereby to know the devil when he
lieth lurking under the shape and likeness of a man. Then the people
assembled about the house in great numbers, and proffered money
largely that they might see this monster with their own eyes; for by
this time they were persuaded that I was indeed an ill spirit, or the
very devil. 'For what man was ever heard of,' said they, 'which, if he
had the mind, understanding, and sense of a man, would, of his own
voluntary will, and without any respect or consideration at all, give
or proffer such a sum of money to a man utterly unknown?' God knowcth
what should have ensued if some hours later it had not chanced that
Sir Henry Stafford did ride into the town, and, seeing a great
concourse of people at the door of the inn, he stopped to inquire into
the cause; which when it was related to him, he said he was a
magistrate, and should himself examine, face to face, this limb of
Satan. So I was taken before him into the parlor; and being alone with
him, and knowing him to be well-disposed in religion, albeit
conforming to the times, I explained in a general manner what sort of
an errand had brought me to that place. Methinks he guessed me to be a
priest, although he said nothing thereon, but only licensed me to
depart and go away whither I would, himself letting me out of the
house through a back-door. I have heard since that he harangued the
people from the balcony, and told them, that whilst he was examining
me a strong smell of sulphur had come into the chamber, and a pack of
devils carried me off through the window into the air; and he doubted
not I had by that time returned to mine own lodging in hell. Which he
did, I knew, for to prevent their pursuing me and using such violence
as he might not have had means to hinder."

"It was not, then," I asked, "on this occasion you were apprehended
and taken to Wisbeach?"

"No," he answered; "nor indeed can I be said to have been apprehended
at all, for it happened in this wise that I became a prisoner. I was
one day in Norwich, whither I had gone to baptize a child, and, as
Providence would have it, met with Haward, by whose means I had been
set at liberty one year before. After ordinary salutations, he said to
me, 'Mr. Tunstall' (for by that name only he knew me), 'the host of
the inn where you were taken last year says I have undone him, by
suffering the prisoner I had promised to deliver to escape; for he
having been my surety with the mayor, he is threatened with eight
months' imprisonment, or the payment of a large fine. He hath come to
this town for to seek me, and hath seized upon me on this charge; so
that I be only at liberty for six hours, for I  promised that I
would bring you to him by four o'clock (a Catholic merchant yielding
him security thereof), or else that I should deliver him my body
again. 'I am content,' he said, 'so that I have one of you two.' So
either you, Mr. Tunstall, or I, must needs go to prison. You know my
state and condition, and may guess how I shall be treated, if once I
appear under my right name before them. You know, also, your own
state. Now, it is in your choice whether of us shall go; for one must
go; there is no remedy; and to force you I will not, for I had rather
sustain any punishment whatsoever.' 'Now God be blessed,' I cried,
'that he hath thrown me in your way at this time, for I should never
while I lived have been without scruple if you had gone to prison in
my stead. Nothing grieveth me in this but that I have not finished off
some business I had in this town touching a person in some distress of
mind.' 'Why,' said Haward, 'it is but ten o'clock yet; you may
despatch your business by four of the clock, and then you may go to
the sign of the Star and inquire for one Mr. Andrews, the
lord-lieutenant's deputy, and to him you may surrender yourself.' 'So
I will,' I said; and so we parted. At four of the clock I surrendered
myself, and was straightway despatched to Wisbeach Castle, where I
remained for three months. A message reached me there that a Catholic
which had led a very wicked life, and was lying on his death-bed, was
almost beside himself for that he could get no priest to come to him.
The person which delivered this advertisement left some ropes with me,
by which means I escaped out of the window into the moat with such
damage to my hands that I was like to lose the use of them, and
perhaps of my life, if these wounds had mortified before good Lady
l'Estrange dressed them. But I reached the poor sinner, which had
proved the occasion of my escaping, in time for to give him
absolution, and from Mr. Rugeley's house visited many Catholics in
that neighborhood. The rest is well known to thee, my good child. . . ."

As he was speaking these words the door of the cell opened, and the
gaoler advertised me I could tarry no longer; so, with many blessings,
my dear father dismissed me, and I went home with Mr. Congleton and
Hubert, who anxiously inquired what his answer had been to the
proposal I had carried to him.

"A most resolved denial of the conditions attached to it," I said,
"joined to many grateful acknowledgments to Sir Francis and to you
also for your efforts in his favor."

"'Tis madness!" he exclaimed.

"Yea," I answered, "such madness as the heathen governor did charge
St. Paul with."

And so no more passed between us whilst we rode back to Holborn. Mr.
Congleton put questions to me touching my father's health and his
looks,--if he seemed of good cheer, and spoke merrily as he used to
do; and then we all continued silent. When we arrived at Ely Place,
Hubert refused to come into the house, but detained me on the outward
steps, as if desirous to converse with me alone. Thinking I had spoken
to him in the coach in an abrupt manner which savored of ingratitude,
I said more gently, "I am very much beholden to you, Hubert, for your
well-meaning toward my father."

"I would fain continue to help you," he answered in an agitated voice.
"Constance," he exclaimed, after a pause, "your father is in a very
dangerous plight."

"I know it," said I, quickly; "but I know, too, he is resolved and
content to die rather than swerve an inch from his duty to God and his
Church."

"But," quoth he then, "do you wish to save him?"

I looked at him amazed. "Wish it! God knoweth that to see him in
safety I would have my hand cut off,--yea, and my head also."


"What, and rob him of his expectant crown--the martyr's palm, and all
the rest of it?" he said, with a perceptible sneer.

"Hubert!" I passionately exclaimed, "you are investigable to me; you
chill my soul with your half-uttered sentences and uncertain meanings!
Once, I remember, you could speak nobly,--yea, and feel so too, as
much as any one. Heaven shield you be not wholly changed!"

"Changed!" quoth he, in a low voice, "I am changed;" and then abruptly
altering his manner, and leaving me in doubt as to the change he did
intend to speak of, he pressed me to take no measures touching my
father's release till he had spoken with me again; for he said if his
real name became known, or others dealt in the matter, all hope on Sir
Francis's side should be at an end. He then asked me if I had heard of
Basil lately. I told him of the letter I had had from him at
Kenninghall some weeks back. He said a report had reached him that he
had landed at Dover and was coming to London; but he hoped it was not
true, for that Sir Henry Stafford was very urgent he should continue
abroad till the expiration of his wardship.

I said, "If he was returned, it must surely be for some sufficient
cause, but that I had heard nothing thereof, and had no reason to
expect it."

"But you would know it, I presume, if he was in London?" he urged. I
misliked his manner, which always put me in mind of one in the dark,
which feeleth his way as he advances, and goeth not straight to the
point.

"_Is_ Basil in England?" I inquired, fixing mine eyes on him, and with
a flutter at my heart from the thought that it should be possible.

"I heard he was," he answered in a careless tone; "but I think it not
to be true. If he should come whilst this matter is in hand, I do
conjure you, Constance, if you value your father's existence and
Basil's also, let him not into this secret."

"Wherefore not?" I quickly answered. "Why should one meet to be
trusted, and by me above all other persons in the world, be kept
ignorant of what so nearly doth touch me?"

"Because," he said, "there is a rashness in his nature which will
assuredly cause him to run headlong into danger if not forcibly
withheld from the occasions of it."

"I have seen no tokens of such rashness as you speak of in him," I
replied; "only of a boldness such as well becomes a Christian and a
gentleman."

"Constance Sherwood!" Hubert exclaimed, and seized hold of my hand
with a vehemency which caused me to start, "I do entreat you, yea, on
my bended knees, if needs be, I will beseech you to beware of that
indomitable and resolved spirit which sets at defiance restraint,
prudence, pity even; which leads you to brave your friends, spurn
wholesome counsel, rush headlong into perils which I forewarn you do
hang thickly about your path. If I can conjure them, I care not by
what means, I will do so; but for the sake of all you do hold dear,
curb your natural impetuosity, which may prove the undoing of those
you most desire to serve."

There was a plausibility in this speech, and in mine own knowledge of
myself some sort of a confirmation of what he did charge me with,
which inclined me somewhat to diffide of mine own judgment in this
matter, and not to turn a wholly deaf ear to his advertisement. He had
the most persuasive tongue in the world, and a rare art at
representing things under whatever aspect he chose. He dealt so
cunningly therein with me that day, and used so many ingenious
arguments, that I said I should be very careful how I disclosed
anything to Basil or any one else touching my father's imprisonment,
who Mr. Tunstall was, and my near concern in his fate; but would give
no promise thereupon: so he was forced to content himself with as much
as he could obtain, and  withdrew himself for that day, he said;
but promised to return on the morrow.


CHAPTER XVIII.

When at last I entered the house I sought Mistress Ward; for I desired
to hear what assistance she had procured for the escape of the
prisoners, and to inform her of my father's resolved purpose not
himself to attempt this flight, albeit commending her for moving Mr.
Watson to it and assisting him therein. Not finding her in the parlor,
nor in her bed-chamber, I opened the door of my aunt's room, who was
now very weak, and yet more so in mind than in body. She was lying
with her eyes shut, and Mistress Ward standing by her bedside. I
marked her intent gaze on the aged, placid face of the poor lady, and
one tear I saw roll down her cheek. Then she stooped to kiss her
forehead. A noise I made with the handle of the door caused her to
turn round, and hastening toward me, she took me by the hand and led
me to her chamber, where Muriel was folding some biscuits and cakes in
paper and stowing them in a basket. The thought came to me of the
first day I had arrived in London, and the comfort I had found in this
room, when all except her were strangers to me in that house. She sat
down betwixt Muriel and me, and smiling, said: "Now, mine own dear
children, for such my heart holds you both to be, and ever will whilst
I live, I am come here for to tell you that I purpose not to return to
this house to-night, nor can I foresee when, if ever, I shall be free
to do so."

"O, what dismal news!" I exclaimed, "and more sad than I did expect."

Muriel said nothing, but lifting her hand to her lips kissed it.

"You both know," she continued, "that in order to save one in cruel
risk and temptation of apostasy, and others perhaps, also, whom his
possible speaking should imperil, I be about to put myself in some
kind of danger, who of all persons in the world possess the best right
to do so, as having neither parents, or husband, or children, or any
on earth who depend on my care. Yea, it is true," she added, fixing
her eyes on Muriel's composed, but oh how sorrowful, countenance,
"none dependent on my care, albeit some very dear to me, and which
hang on me, and I on them, in the way of fond affection. God knoweth
my heart, and that it is very closely and tenderly entwined about each
one in this house. Good Mr. Congleton and your dear mother, who hath
clung to me so long, though I thank God not so much of late by reason
of the weakening of her mind, which hath ceased greatly to notice
changes about her, and you, Constance, my good child, since your
coming hither a little lass commended to my keeping. . . . ." There
she stopped; and I felt she could not name Muriel, or then so much as
look on her; for if ever two souls were bound together by an
unperishable bond of affection, begun on earth to last in heaven,
theirs were so united. I ween Muriel was already acquainted with her
purpose, for she asked no questions thereon; whereas I exclaimed, "I
do very well know, good Mistress Ward, what perils you do run in this
charitable enterprise; but wherefore, I pray you, this final manner of
parting? God's providence may shield you from harm in this passage,
and, indeed, human probability should lead us to hope for your safety
if becoming precautions be observed. Then why, I say, this certain
farewell?"

"Because," she answered, "whatever comes of this night's enterprise, I
return not to this house."

"And wherefore not?" I cried; "this is indeed a cruel resolve, a hard
misfortune."

"Heretofore," she answered, "I had noways offended against the laws of
the country, except in respect  of recusancy, wherein all here
are alike involved; but by mine act tonight I do expose myself to so
serious a charge (conscience obliging me to prefer the law of divine
charity to that of human authority), that I may at any time and
without the least hope of mercy be exposed to detection and
apprehension; and so am resolved not to draw down sorrow and obloquy
on the gray hairs of my closest friends and on your young years such
perils as I do willingly in mine own person incur, but would not have
others to be involved in. Therefore I will lodge, leastwise for a
time, with one who feareth not any more than I do persecution, who
hath no ties and little or nothing on earth to lose, and if she had
would willingly yield it a thousand times over for to save a soul for
whom Christ died. Nor will I have you privy, my dear children, to the
place of mine abode, that if questioned on it you may with truth aver
yourselves to be ignorant thereof. And now," she said, turning to me,
"is Mr. Sherwood willing for to try to escape by the same means as Mr.
Watson? for methinks I have found a way to convey to him a cord, and,
by means of the management he knoweth of instructions how to use it."

"Nay," I answered, "he will not himself avail himself of this means,
albeit he is much rejoiced you have it in hand for Mr. Watson's
deliverance from his tormentors; and he doth pray fervently for it to
succeed."

"Everything promiseth well," she replied. "I dealt this day with an
honest Catholic boatman, a servant of Mr. Hodgson, who is willing to
assist in it. Two men are needed for to row the boat with so much
speed as shall be necessary to carry it quickly beyond reach of
pursuers. He knoweth none of his own craft which should be reliable or
else disposed to risk the enterprise; but he says at a house of resort
for Catholics which he doth frequent, he chanced to fall in with a
young gentleman, lately landed from France, whom he doth make sure
will lend his aid in it. As dextrous a man," he saith, "to handle an
oar, and of as courageous a spirit, as can be found in England."

As soon as she had uttered these words, I thought of what Hubert had
said touching a report of Basil being in London and of his rashness in
plunging into dangers; a cold shiver ran through me. "Did he tell you
this gentleman's name?" I asked.

"No," she answered, "he would not mention it; but only that he was one
who could be trusted with the lives of ten thousand persons, and so
zealous a Catholic he would any day risk his life to do some good
service to a priest."

"And hath this boatman promised," I inquired, "to wait for Mr. Watson
and convey him away?"

"Yea, most strictly," she answered, "at twelve o'clock of the night he
and his companion shall approach a boat to the side of some
scaffolding which lieth under the wall of the prison; and when the
clock of the tower striketh, Mr. Watson shall open his window, the
bars of which he hath found it possible to remove, and by means of the
cord, which is of the length he measured should be necessary, he will
let himself down on the planks, whence he can step into the boat, and
be carried to a place of concealment in a close part of the city till
it shall be convenient for him to cross the sea to France."

"Must you go?" I said, seeing her rise, and feeling a dull hard
heaviness at my heart which did well-nigh impede my utterance. I was
not willing to let her know the fear I had conceived; "of what use
should it be," I inwardly argued, "to disturb her in the discharge of
her perilous task by a surmise which might prove groundless; and,
indeed, were it certainly true, could she, nay, would she, alter her
intent, or could I so much as ask her to do it?" Whilst, with Muriel's
assistance, she concluded the packing of her basket, wherein the
weighty cord was concealed in an ingenious  manner, I stood by
watching the doing of it, fearing to see her depart, yet unable to
think of any means by which to delay that which I could not, even if I
had willed it, prevent. When the last contents were placed in the
basket, and Muriel was pressing down the lid, I said: "Do you,
peradventure, know the name of the inn where you said that gentleman
doth tarry which the boatman spake of?"

"No," she replied; "nor so much as where the good boatman himself
lodgeth. I met with him at Mr. Hodgson's house, and there made this
agreement."

"But if," I said, "it should happen by any reason that Mr. Watson
changed his mind, how should you, then, inform him of it?"

"In that case," she answered, "he would hang a white kerchief outside
his window, by which they should be advertised to withdraw themselves.
And now," she added, "I have always been of the way of thinking that
farewells should be brief; and 'God speed you,' and 'God bless you,'
enough for those which do hope, if it shall please God, on earth, but
for a surety in heaven, to meet again."

So, kissing us both somewhat hurriedly, she took up her basket on her
arm, and said she should send a messenger on the morrow for her
clothes; at which Muriel, for the first time, shed some tears, which
was an instance of what I have often noticed, that grief, howsoever
heavy, doth not always overflow in the eyes unless some familiar words
or homely circumstance doth substantiate the verity of a sorrow known
indeed, but not wholly apparent till its common effects be seen. Then
we two sat awhile alone in that empty chamber--empty of her which for
so long years had tenanted it to our no small comfort and benefit.
When the light waned, Muriel lit a candle, and said she must go for to
attend on her mother, for that duty did now devolve chiefly on her;
and I could see in her sad but composed face the conquering peace
which doth exceed all human consolation.

For mine own part, I was so unhinged by doubtful suspense that I
lacked ability to employ my mind in reading or my fingers in
stitch-work; and so descended for relief into the garden, where I
wandered to and fro like an uneasy ghost, seeking rest but finding
none. The dried shaking leaves made a light noise in falling, which
caused me each time to think I heard a footstep behind me. And despite
the increasing darkness, after I had paced up and down for near unto
an hour, some one verily did come walking along the alley where I was,
seeking to overtake me. Turning round I perceived it to be mine own
dear aged friend, Mr. Roper. Oh, what great comfort I experienced in
the sight of this good man! How eager was my greeting of him! How full
my heart as I poured into his ear the narrative of the passages which
had befallen me since we had met! Of the most weighty he knew
somewhat; but nothing of the last haunting fear I had lest my dear
Basil should be in London, and this very night engaged in the perilous
attempt to carry off Mr. Watson. When I told him of it, he started and
exclaimed:

"God defend it!" but quickly corrected himself and cried, "God's
mercy, that my first feeling should have led me to think rather of
Basil's safety than of the fine spirit he showed in all instances
where a good action had to be done, or a service rendered to those in
affliction."

"Indeed, Mr. Roper," I said, as he led me back to the house and into
the solitary parlor (where my uncle now seldom came, but remained
sitting alone in his library, chiefly engaged in praying and reading),
"I do condemn mine own weakness in this, and pray God to give me
strength for what may come upon us; but I do promise you 'tis no easy
matter to carry always so high a heart that it shall not sink with
human fears and griefs in such passages as these."


"My dear," the good man answered, "God knoweth 'tis no easy matter to
attain to the courage you speak of. I have myself seen the sweetest,
the lovingest, and the most brave creature which ever did breathe give
marks of extraordinary sorrow when her father, that generous martyr of
Christ, was to die."

"I pray you tell me," I answered, "what her behavior was like in that
trial; for to converse on such themes doth allay somewhat the torment
of suspense, and I may learn lessons from her example, who, you say,
joined to natural weakness so courageous a spirit in like straits."

Upon which he, willing to divert and yet not violently change the
current of my thoughts, spake as followeth:

"On the day when Sir Thomas More came from Westminster to the
Tower-ward, my wife, desirous to see her father, whom she thought she
should never see in this world after, and also to have his final
blessing, gave attendance about the wharf where she knew he should
pass before he could enter into the Tower. As soon as she saw him,
after his blessing upon her knees reverently received, hastening
toward him without care or consideration of herself, passing in
amongst the throng and company of the guard, she ran to him and took
him about the neck and kissed him; who, well liking her most natural
and dear daughterly affection toward him, gave her his fatherly
blessing and godly words of comfort beside; from whom, after she was
departed, not satisfied with the former sight of him, and like one
that had forgotten herself, being all ravished with the entire love of
her father, suddenly turned back again, ran to him as before, took him
about the neck, and divers times kissed him lovingly, till at last,
with a full and heavy heart, she was fain to depart from him; the
beholding thereof was to many that were present so lamentable, and
mostly so to me, that for very sorrow we could not forbear to weep
with her. The wife of John Harris, Sir Thomas's secretary, was moved
to such a transport of grief, that she suddenly flew to his neck and
kissed him, as he had reclined his head on his daughter's shoulder;
and he who, in the midst of the greatest straits, had ever a merry
manner of speaking, cried, 'This is kind, albeit rather unpolitely
done.'"

"And the day he suffered," I asked, "what was this good daughter's
behavior?"

"She went," quoth he, "to the different churches, and distributed
abundant alms to the poor. When she had given all her money away, she
withdrew to pray in a certain church, where she on a sudden did
remember she had no linen in which to wrap up her father's body. She
had heard that the remains of the Bishop of Rochester had been thrown
into the ground, without priest, cross, lights, or shroud, for the
dread of the king had prevented his relations from attempting to bury
him. But Margaret resolved her father's body should not meet with such
unchristian treatment. Her maid advised her to buy some linen in the
next shop, albeit having given away all her money to the poor, there
was no likelihood she should get credit from strangers. She ventured,
howsoever, and having agreed about the price, she put her hand in her
pocket, which she knew was empty, to show she forgot the money, and
ask credit under that pretence. But to her surprise, she found in her
purse the exact price of the linen, neither more or less; and so
buried the martyr of Christ with honor, nor was there any one so
inhuman found as to hinder her."

"Mr. Roper," I said, when he had ended his recital, "methinks this
angelic lady's trial was most hard: but how much harder should it yet
have been if you, her husband, had been in a like peril at that time
as her father?"


A half kind of melancholy, half smiling look came into the good old
man's face as he answered:

"Her father was Sir Thomas More, and he so worthy of a daughter's
passionate love, and the affection betwixt them so entire and
absolute, compounded of filial love on her part, unmitigated
reverence, and unrestrained confidence, that there was left in her
heart no great space for wifely doating. But to be moderately
affectioned by such a woman, and to stand next in her esteem to her
incomparable father, was of greater honor and worth to her unworthy
husband, than should have been the undivided, yea idolatrous, love of
one not so perfect as herself."

After a pause, during which his thoughts, I ween, reverted to the
past, and mine investigated mine own soul, I said to Mr. Roper:

"Think you, sir, that love to be idolatrous which is indeed so
absolute that it should be no difficulty to die for him who doth
inspire it; which would prefer a prison in his company, howsoever dark
and loathsome (yea consider it a very paradise), to the beautifullest
palace in the world, which without him would seem nothing but a vile
dungeon; which should with a good-will suffer all the torments in the
world for to see the object of its affection enjoy good men's esteem
on earth, and a noble place in heaven; but which should be,
nevertheless, founded and so wholly built up on a high estimate of his
virtues; on the quality he holdeth of God's servant; on the likeness
of Christ stamped on his soul, and each day exemplified in his manner
of living, that albeit to lose his love or his company in this world
should be like the uprooting of all happiness and turning the
brightness of noonday to the darkness of the night, it should a
thousand times rather endure this mishap than that the least shade or
approach of a stain should alter the unsullied opinion till then held
of his perfections?"

Mr. Roper smiled, and said that was a too weighty question to answer
at once; for he should be loth to condemn or yet altogether to absolve
from some degree of overweeningness such an affection as I described,
which did seem indeed to savor somewhat of excess; but yet if noble in
its uses and held in subjection to the higher claims of the Creator,
whose perfections the creature doth at best only imperfectly mirror,
it might be commendable and a means of attaining ourselves to the like
virtues we doated on in another.

As he did utter these words a servant came into the parlor, and
whispered in mine ear:

"Master Basil Rookwood is outside the door, and craves--"

I suffered him not to finish his speech, but bounded into the hall,
where Basil was indeed standing with a traveller's cloak on him, and a
slouched hat over his face. After such a greeting as may be conceived
(alas, all greetings then did seem to combine strange admixtures of
joy and pain!), I led him into the parlor, where Mr. Roper in his turn
received him with fatherly words of kindness mixed with amazement at
his return.

"And whence," he exclaimed, "so sudden a coming, my good Basil?
Verily, you do appear to have descended from the skies!"

Basil looked at me and replied: "I heard in Paris, Mr. Roper, that a
gentleman in whom I do take a very lively interest, one Mr. Tunstall,
was in prison at London; and I bethought me I could be of some service
to him by coming over at this time."

"O Basil," I cried, "do you then know he is my father?"

"Yea," he joyfully answered, "and I am right glad you do know it also,
for then there is no occasion for any feigning, which, albeit I deny
it not to be sometimes useful and necessary, doth so ill agree with my
bluntness, that it keepeth me in constant fear of stumbling in my
speech. I was in a manner forced to come over secretly; because if Sir
Henry Stafford, who willeth me to remain abroad till I have  got
out of my wardship, should hear of my being in London, and gain scent
of the object of my coming, he should have dealt in all sorts of ways
to send me out of it. But, prithee, dearest love, is Mrs. Ward in this
house?"

"Alas!" I said, "she is gone hence. Her mind is set on a very
dangerous enterprise."

"I know it," he saith (at which word my heart began to sink); "but,
verily, I see not much danger to be in it; and methinks if we do
succeed in carrying off your good father and that other priest
to-night in the ingenious manner she hath devised, it will be the best
night's work done by good heads, good arms, and good oars which can be
thought of."

"Oh, then," I exclaimed, "it is even as I feared, and you, Basil, have
engaged in this rash enterprise. O woe the day you came to London, and
met with that boatman!"

"Constance," he said reproachfully, "should it be a woful day to thee
the one on which, even at some great risk, which I deny doth exist in
this instance, I should aid in thy father's rescue?"

"Oh, but, my dear Basil," I cried, "he doth altogether refuse to stir
in this matter. I have had speech with him to-day, and he will by no
means attempt to escape again from prison. He hath done it once for
the sake of a soul in jeopardy; but only to save his life, he is
resolved not to involve others in peril of theirs. And oh, how
confirmed he would be in his purpose if he knew who it was who doth
throw himself into so great a risk! I' faith, I cannot and will not
suffer it!" I exclaimed impetuously, for the sudden joy of his
presence, the sight of his beloved countenance, lighted up with an
inexpressible look of love and kindness, more beautiful than my poor
words can describe, worked in me a rebellion against the thought of
more suffering, further parting, greater fears than I had hitherto
sustained.

He said, "He could wish my father had been otherwise disposed, for to
have aided in his escape should have been to him the greatest joy he
could think of; but that having promised likewise to assist in Mr.
Watson's flight, he would never fail to do so, if he was to die for
it."

"'Tis very easy," I cried, "to speak of dying, Basil, nor do I doubt
that to one of your courage and faith the doing of it should have
nothing very terrible in it. But I pray you remember that that life,
which you make so little account of, is not now yours alone to dispose
of as you list. Mine, dear Basil, is wrapped up with it; for if I lose
you, I care not to live, or what becomes of me, any more."

Mr. Roper said he should think on it well before he made this venture;
for, as I had truly urged, I had a right over him now, and he should
not dispose of himself as one wholly free might do.

"Dear sir," quoth he in answer, "my sweet Constance and you also might
perhaps have prevailed with me some hours ago to forego this
intention, before I had given a promise to Mr. Hodgson's boatman, and
through him to Mistress Ward and Mr. Watson; I should then have been
free to refuse my assistance if I had listed; and albeit methinks in
so doing I should have played a pitiful part, none could justly have
condemned me. But I am assured neither her great heart nor your
honorable spirit would desire me so much as to place in doubt the
fulfilment of a promise wherein the safety of a man, and he one of
God's priests, is concerned. I pray thee, sweetheart, say thou wouldst
not have me do it."

Alas! this was the second time that day my poor heart had been called
upon to raise itself higher than nature can afford to reach. But the
present struggle was harder than the first. My father had long been to
me as a distant angel, severed from my daily life and any future hope
in this world. His was an expectant martyrdom, an exile from his true
home, a daily  dying on earth, tending but to one desired end.
Nature could be more easily reconciled in the one case than in the
other to thoughts of parting. Basil was my all, my second self, my
sole treasure,--the prop on which rested youth's hopes, earth's joys,
life's sole comfort; and chance (as it seemed, and men would have
called it), not a determined seeking, had thrust on him this danger,
and I must needs see him plunged into it, and not so much as say a
word to stay him or prevent it. . . . . I was striving to constrain my
lips to utter the words my rebelling heart disavowed, and he kneeling
before me, with his dear eyes fixed on mine, awaiting my consent, when
a loud noise of laughter in the hall caused us both to start up, and
then the door was thrown open, and Kate and Polly ran into the room so
gaily attired, the one in a yellow and the other in a crimson gown
bedecked with lace and jewels, that nothing finer could be seen.

"Lackaday!" Polly cried, when she perceived Basil; "who have we here?
I scarce can credit mine eyes! Why, Sir Lover, methought you were in
France. By what magic come you here? Mr. Roper, your humble servant.
'Tis like you did not expect so much good company to-night, Con, for
you have but one poor candle or two to light up this dingy room, and I
fear there will not be light enough for these gentlemen to see our
fine dresses, which we do wear for the first time at Mrs. Yates's
house this evening."

"I thought you were both in the country," I said, striving to disguise
how much their coming did discompose me.

"Methinks," answered Polly, laughing, "your wish was father to that
thought, Con, and that you desired to have the company of this fine
gentleman to yourself alone, and Mr. Roper's also, and no one else for
to disturb you. But, in good sooth, we were both at Mr. Benham's seat
in Berkshire when we heard of this good entertainment at so great a
friend's house, and so prevailed on our lords and governors for to
hire a coach and bring us to London for one night. We lie at Kate's
house, and she and I have supped on a cold capon and a veal pie we
brought with us, and Sir Ralph and Mr. Lacy do sup at a tavern in the
Strand, and shall fetch us here when it shall be convenient to them to
carry us to this grand ball, which I would not have missed, no, not
for all the world. So I pray you let us be merry till they do come,
and pass the time pleasantly."

"Ay," said Kate, in a lamentable voice, "you would force me to dress
and go abroad, when I would sooner be at home; for John's stomach is
disordered, and baby doth cut her teeth, and he pulled at my ribbons
and said I should not leave him; and beshrew me if I would have done
so, but for your overpersuading me. But you are always so absolute! I
wonder you love not more to stay at home, Polly."

Basil smiled with a better heart than I could do, and said he would
promise her John should sleep never the less well for her absence, and
she should find baby's tooth through on the morrow; and sitting down
by her side, talked to her of her children with a kindliness which
never did forsake him. Mr. Roper set himself to converse with Polly; I
ween for to shield me from the torrent of her words, which, as I sat
between them, seemed to buzz in mine ear without any meaning; and yet
I must needs have heard them, for to this day I remember what they
talked of;--that Polly said, "Have you seen the ingenious poesy which
the queen's saucy godson, the merry wit Harrington, left behind her
cushion on Wednesday, and now 'tis in every one's hands?"

"Not in mine," quoth Mr. Roper; "so, if your memory doth serve you,
Lady Ingoldsby, will you rehearse it?" which she did as follows; and
albeit I only did hear those lines  that once, they still remain
in my mind:

  "For ever dear, for ever dreaded prince,
  You read a verse of mine a little since,
  And so pronounced each word and every letter,
  Your gracious reading graced my verse the better;
  Sith then your highness doth by gift exceeding
  Make what you read the better for your reading,
  Let my poor muse your pains thus far importune,
  Like as you read my verse--so read my fortune!"

"Tis an artful and witty petition," Mr. Roper observed; "but I have
been told her majesty mislikes the poet's satirical writings, and
chiefly the metamorphosis of Ajax."

"She signified," Polly answered, "some outward displeasure at it, but
Robert Markham affirms she likes well the marrow of the book, and is
minded to take the author to her favor, but sweareth she believes he
will make epigrams on her and all her court. Howsoever, I do allow she
conceived much disquiet on being told he had aimed a shaft at
Leicester. By the way, but you, cousin Constance, should best know the
truth thereon" (this she said turning to me), "'tis said that Lord
Arundel is exceeding sick again, and like to die very soon. Indeed his
physicians are of opinion, so report speaketh, that he will not last
many days now, for as often as he hath rallied before."

"Yesterday," I said, "when I saw Lady Surrey, he was no worse than
usual."

"Oh, have you heard," Polly cried, running from one theme to another,
as was her wont, "that Leicester is about to marry Lettice Knollys, my
Lady Essex?"

"'Tis impossible," Basil exclaimed, who was now listening to her
speeches, for Kate had finished her discourse touching her Johnny's
disease in his stomach. The cause thereof, she said, both herself
thought, and all in Mr. Benham's house did judge to have been, the
taking in the morning a confection of barley sodden with water and
sugar, and made exceeding thick with bread. This breakfast lost him
both his dinner and supper, and surely the better half of his sleep;
but God be thanked, she hoped now the worst was past, and that the
dear urchin would shortly be as merry and well-disposed as afore he
left London. Basil said he hoped so too; and in a pause which ensued,
he heard Polly speak of Lord Leicester's intended marriage, which
seemed to move him to some sort of indignation, the cause of which I
only learnt many years later; for that when Lady Douglas Howard's
cause came before the Star-Chamber, in his present majesty's reign, he
told me he had been privy, through information received in France, of
her secret marriage with that lord.

"'Tis not impossible," Polly retorted, "by the same token that the new
favorite, young Robert Devereux, maketh no concealment of it, and
calleth my Lord Leicester his father elect. But I pray you, what is
impossible in these days? Oh, I think they are the most whimsical,
entertaining days which the world hath ever known; and the merriest,
if people have a will to make them so."

"Oh, Polly," I cried, unable to restrain myself, "I pray God you may
never find cause to change your mind thereon."

"Yea, amen to that prayer," quoth she; "I'll promise you, my grave
little coz, that I have no mind to be sad till I grow old--and there
be yet some years to come before that shall befall me. When Mistress
Helen Ingoldsby shall reach to the height of my shoulder, then,
methinks, I may begin to take heed unto my ways. What think you the
little wench said to me yesterday? 'What times is it we do conform to,
mother? dinner-times or bed-times?'" "She should have been answered,
'The devil's times,'" Basil muttered; and Kate told Polly she should
be ashamed to speak in her father's house of the conformity she
practised when others were suffering for their religion.  And,
methought, albeit I had scarcely endured the jesting which had
preceded it, I could less bear any talk of religion, least-ways of
that kind, just then. But, in sooth, the constraint I suffered almost
overpassed my strength. There appeared no hope of their going, and
they fell into an eager discourse concerning the bear-baiting they had
been to see in Berkshire, and a great sort of ban-dogs, which had been
tied in an outer court, let loose on thirteen bears that were baited
in the inner; and my dear Basil, who doth delight in all kinds of
sports, listened eagerly to the description they gave of this
diversion. Oh, how I counted the minutes! what a pressure weighted my
heart! how the sound of their voices pained mine ears! how long an
hour seemed! and yet too short for my desires, for I feared the time
must soon come when Basil should go, and lamented that these
unthinking women's tarrying should rob me of all possibility to talk
with him alone. Howsoever, when Mr. Roper rose to depart, I followed
him into the hall and waited near the door for Basil, who was bidding
farewell to Kate and Polly. I heard him beseech them to do him so much
favor as not to mention they had seen him; for that he had not
informed Sir Henry Stafford of his coming over from France, which if
he heard of it otherwise than from himself, it should peradventure
offend him. They laughed, and promised to be as silent as graves
thereon; and Polly said he had learnt French fashions she perceived,
and taken lessons in wooing from mounseer; but she hoped his stealthy
visit should in the end prove more conformable to his desires than
mounseer's had done. At last they let him go; and Mr. Roper, who had
waited for him, wrung his hand, and the manner of his doing it made my
eyes overflow. I turned my face away, but Basil caught both my hands
in his and said, "Be of good cheer, sweetheart. I have not words
wherewith to express how much I love thee, but God knoweth it is very
dearly."

"O Basil! mine own dear Basil," I murmured, laying my forehead on his
coat-sleeve, and could not then utter another word. Ere I lifted it
again, the hall-door opened, and who, I pray you, should I then see
(with more affright, I confess, than was reasonable) but Hubert? My
voice shook as he said to Basil, whose back was turned from the door,
"Here is your brother."

"Ah, Hubert!" he exclaimed; "I be glad to see thee!" and held out his
hand to him with a frank smile, which the other took, but in the doing
of it a deadly paleness spread over his face.

"I have no leisure to tarry so much as one minute," Basil said; "but
this sweet lady will tell thee what weighty reasons I have for
presently remaining concealed; and so farewell, my dear love, and
farewell, my good brother. Be, I pray you, my bedes-woman this night,
Constance; and you too, Hubert,--if you do yet say your prayers like a
good Christian, which I pray God you do,--mind you say an ave for me
before you sleep."

When the door closed on him I sunk down on a chair, and hid my face
with my hands.

"You have not told him anything?" Hubert whispered; and I, "God help
you, Hubert! he hath come to London for this very matter, and hath
already, I fear, albeit not in any way that shall advantage my father,
yet in seeking to assist him, run himself into danger of death, or
leastways banishment."

As I said this mine eyes raised themselves toward him; and I would
they had not, for I saw in his visage an expression I have tried these
many years to forget, but which sometimes even now comes back to me
painfully.

"I told you so," he answered. "He hath an invariable aptness to miss
his aim, and to hurt himself by the shafts he looseth. What plan hath
he now formed, and what shall come of it?"


But, somewhat recovered from my surprise, I bethought myself it
should not be prudent, albeit I grieved to think so, to let him know
what sort of enterprise it was Basil had in hand; so I did evade his
question, which indeed he did not show himself very careful to have
answered. He said he was yet dealing with Sir Francis Walsingham, and
had hopes of success touching my father's liberation, and so prayed me
not to yield to despondency; but it would take time to bring matters
to a successful issue, and patience was greatly needed, and likewise
prudence toward that end. He requested me very urgently to take no
other steps for the present in his behalf, which might ruin all. And
above all things not to suffer Basil to come forward in it, for that
he had made himself obnoxious to Sir Francis by speeches which he had
used, and which some one had reported to him, touching Lady Ridley's
compliance with his (Sir Francis's) request that she should have a
minister in her house for to read Protestant prayers to her household,
albeit herself, being bedridden, did not attend; and if he should now
stir in this matter, all hope would be at an end. So he left me, and I
returned to the parlor, and Kate and Polly declared my behavior to
them not to be over and above civil; but they supposed when folks were
in love, they had a warrant to treat their friends as they pleased.
Then finding me very dull and heavy, I ween, they bethought themselves
at the last of going to visit their mother in her bed, and paying
their respects to their father, whom they found asleep in his chair,
his prayer-book, with which he was engaged most of the day, lying open
by his side. Polly kissed his forehead, and then the picture of our
Blessed Lady in the first page of this much-used volume; which sudden
acts of hers comforted me not a little.

Muriel came out of her mother's chamber to greet them, but would not
suffer them to see her at this unexpected time, for that the least
change in her customable habits disordered her; and then whispered to
me that she had often asked for Mistress Ward, and complained of her
absence.

At the last Sir Ralph came, but not Mr. Lacy, who he said was tired
with his long ride, and had gone home to bed. Thereupon Kate began to
weep; for she said she would not go without him to this fine ball, for
it was an unbecoming thing for a woman to be seen abroad when her
husband was at home, and a thing she had not yet done, nor did intend
to do. But that it was a very hard thing she should have been at the
pains to dress herself so handsomely, and not so much as one person to
see her in this fine suit; and she wished she had not been so foolish
as to be persuaded to it, and that Polly was very much to blame
therein. At the which, "I' faith, I think so too," Polly exclaimed;
"and I wish you had stayed in the country, my dear."

Kate's pitiful visage and whineful complaint moved me, in my then
apprehensive humor, to an unmerry but not to be resisted fit of
laughter, which she did very much resent; but I must have laughed or
died, and yet it made me angry to hear her utter such lamentations who
had no true cause for displeasure.

When they were gone,--she, still shedding tears, in a chair Sir Ralph
sent for to convey her to Gray's Inn Lane, and he and Polly in their
coach to Mrs. Yates's,--the relief I had from their absence proved so
great that at first it did seem to ease my heart. I went slowly up to
mine own chamber, and stood there a while at the casement looking at
the quiet sky above and the unquiet city beneath it, and chiefly in
the distant direction where I knew the prison to be, picturing to
myself my father in his bare cell. Mistress Ward regaining her obscure
lodging, Mr. Watson's dangerous descent, and mostly the boat which
Basil was to row,--that boat freighted with so perilous a burthen.
These scenes seemed to rise before mine eyes as I remained motionless,
straining  their sight to pierce the darkness of the night and of
the fog which hung over the town. When the clock struck twelve, a
shiver ran through me, for I thought of the like striking at Lynn
Court, and what had followed. Upon which I betook myself to my
prayers, and thinking on Basil, said, "Speak for him, O Blessed Virgin
Mary! Entreat for him, O ye apostles! Make intercession for him, all
ye martyrs! Pray for him, all ye confessors and all ye company of
heaven, that my prayers for him may take effect before our Lord Jesus
Christ!" Then my head waxed heavy with sleep, and I sank on the
cushion of my kneeling-stool. I wot not for how many hours I slumbered
in this wise; but I know I had some terrible dreams.

When I awoke it was daylight. A load knocking at the door of the house
had aroused me. Before I had well bethought me where I was, Muriel's
white face appeared at my door. The pursuivants, she said, were come
to seek for Mistress Ward.


CHAPTER XIX.

My first thought, when Muriel had announced to me the coming of the
pursuivants in search of Mistress Ward, was to thank God she was
beyond their reach, and with so much prudence had left us in ignorance
of her abode. Then making haste to dress--for I apprehended these
officers should visit every chamber in the house--I quickly repaired
to my aunt's room, who was persuaded by Muriel that they had sent for
to take an inventory of the furniture, which she said was a very
commendable thing to do, but she wished they had waited until such
time as she had had her breakfast. By an especial mercy, it so
happened that these officers--or, leastways, two out of three of
them--were quiet, well-disposed men, who exercised their office with
as much mildness as could be hoped for, and rather diminished by their
behavior than in any way increased the hardships of this invasion of
domestic privacy. We were all in turns questioned touching Mistress
Ward's abode except my aunt, whose mental infirmity was pleaded for to
exempt her from this ordeal. The one officer who was churlish said,
"If the lady's mind be unsound, 'tis most like she will let the cat
out of the bag," and would have forced questions on her; but the
others forcibly restrained him from it, and likewise from openly
insulting us, when we denied all knowledge of the place she had
resorted to. Howsoever, he vented his displeasure in scornful looks
and cutting speeches. They carried away sundry prayer-books, and
notably the "Spiritual Combat," which Mrs. Engerfield had gifted me
with, when I slept at her house at Northampton, the loss of which
grieved me not a little, but yet not so much as it would have done at
another time, for my thoughts were then wholly set on discovering who
had betrayed Mistress Ward's intervention, and what had been Mr.
Watson's fate, and if Basil also had been implicated. I addressed
myself to the most seemly of the three men, and asked him what her
offence had been.

"She assisted," he answered, "in the escape of a prisoner from
Bridewell."

"In what manner?" I said, with so much of indifferency as I could
assume.

"By the smuggling of a rope into his cell," he answered, "which was
found yet hanging unto his window, and which none other than that
pestilent woman could have furnished him with."

Alas! this was what I feared would happen, when she first formed this
project; but she had assured us Mr. Watson would let himself down,
holding the two ends of the cord in his hands, and so would be enabled
to carry it away with him after he had got down, and so it would never
be discovered by what means he had made his escape.

"And this prisoner hath then escaped?" I said, in a careless manner.

"Marry, out of one cage," he answered; "but I'll warrant you he is by
this time lodged in a more safe dungeon, and with such bracelets on
his hands and feet as shall not suffer him again to cheat the
gallows."

I dared not question him further;  and finding nothing more to
their purpose, the pursuivants retired.

When Mr. Congleton, Muriel, and I afterward met in the parlor, none of
us seemed disposed to speak. There be times when grief is loquacious,
but others when the weight of apprehension doth check speech. At last
I broke this silence by such words as "What should now be done?" and
"How can we learn what hath occurred?"

Then Mr. Congleton turned toward me, and with much gravity and unusual
vehemency,

"Constance," quoth he, "when Margaret Ward resolved on this bold
action, which in the eyes of some savored of rashness, I warned her to
count the cost before undertaking it, for that it was replete with
many dangers, and none should embark in it which was not prepared to
meet with a terrible death. She told me thereupon that for many past
years her chief desire had been to end her life by such a death, if it
should be for the sake of religion, and that the day she should be
sentenced to it would prove the joyfullest she had yet known. This she
said in an inflamed manner, and I question not but it was her true
thinking. I do not gainsay the merit of this pining, though I could
wish her virtue had been of a commoner sort. But such being her aim,
her choice, and desire, I am not of opinion that I should now disturb
the peace of my wife's helpless days or mine own either (who have not,
I cry God mercy for it, the same wish to suffer the pains reserved to
recusants, albeit I hope in him he would give me strength, to do so if
conscience required it), not to speak of you and Muriel and my other
daughters, for the sake of unavailing efforts in her so desperate
case, who hath made her own bed (and I deny it not to be a glorious
one) and, as she hath made it, must lie on it. So I will betake myself
to prayer for her, which she said was the whole scope of the favor she
desired from her friends, if she fell into trouble, and dreaded
nothing so much as any other dealings in her behalf; and if Mr. Roper,
or Brian Lacy, or young Rookwood, have any means by which to send her
money for her convenience in prison, I will give it; but other
measures I will not take, nor by any open show of interest in her fate
draw down suspicions on us as parties and abettors in her so-called
treason."

Neither of us replied to this speech; and after that our short meal
was ended, Muriel went to her mother's chamber, and I set myself to
consider what I should do; for to sit and wait in this terrible
ignorance of what had happened seemed an impossible thing. So taking
my maid with me, albeit it rained a little, I walked to Kate's house,
and found she and her husband had left it an hour before for to return
to Mr. Benham's seat. Polly and Sir Ralph, who slept there also, were
yet abed, and had given orders, the servant said, not to be disturbed.
So I turned sorrowfully from the door, doubting whither to apply
myself; for Mr. Roper lived at Richmond, and Mr. and Mrs. Wells were
abroad. I thought to go to Mr. Hodgson, whose boatman had drawn Basil
into this enterprise, and was standing forecasting which way to turn,
when all of a sudden who should I see but Basil himself coming down
the lane toward me! I tried to go for to meet him, but my legs failed
me, and I was forced to lean against my maid till he came up to us and
drew my arm in his. Then I felt strong again, and bidding her to go
home, walked a little way with him. The first words he said were:

"Mr. Watson is safe, but hath broke his leg and his arm. Know you
aught of Mistress Ward?"

"There is a warrant out against her," I answered, and told him of the
pursuivants coming to seek for her at our house.

"God shield," he said, "she be not apprehended! for sentence of death
would then be certainly passed upon her."


"Oh, Basil," I exclaimed, "why was the cord left?"

"Ah, the devil would have it," he began; but chiding himself, lifted
off his hat, and said, "Almighty God did so permit it to happen that
this mishap occurred. But I see," he subjoined, "you are not fit to
walk or stand, sweetheart. Come into Mr. Wells's house. Albeit they
are not at home, we may go and sit in the parlor; and it may be more
prudent I should not be  seen abroad to-day. I pray God Mr. Watson and
I will sail to-night for Calais."

So we rang the bell at the door of Mr. Wells's house; and his
housekeeper, who opened it, smiled when she saw Basil, for he was a
great favorite with her, as, indeed, methinks he always was with all
kinds of people. She showed us into Mr. Wells's study, which she said
was the most comfortable room and best aired in the house, for that,
for the sake of the books, she did often light a fire in it; and
nothing would serve her but she must do so now. And then she asked if
we had breakfasted, and Basil said i' faith he had not, and should be
very glad of somewhat to eat, if she would fetch it for him. So when
the fire was kindled--and methought it never would burn, the wood was
so damp--she went away for a little while, and he then told me the
haps of the past night.

"Tom Price (Hodgson's boatman) and I," he said, "rowed his boat close
onto the shore, near to the prison, and laid there under the cover of
some penthouses which stood betwixt the river and the prison's wall.
When the clock struck twelve, I promise you my heart began to beat as
any girl's, I was so frightened lest Mr. Watson should not have
received the cord, or that his courage should fail. Howsoever, in less
than one minute I thought I perceived something moving about one of
the windows, and then a body appeared sitting at first on the ledge,
but afterward it turned itself round, and, facing the wall, sank down
slowly, hanging on by a cord."

"Oh, Basil!" I exclaimed, "could you keep on looking?"

"Yea," he answered; "as if mine eyes should start out of my head. He
came down slowly, helping himself, I ween, with his feet against the
wall; but when he got to about twenty or thirty feet, I guess it to
have been, from the roof of the shed, he stopped of a sudden, and hung
motionless. 'He is out of breath,' I said to Tom. 'Or the rope proves
too short,' quoth he. We watched him for a moment. He swung to and
fro, then rested again, his feet against the wall. 'Beshrew me, but I
will climb on to that roof myself, and get nigh to him,' I whispered
to Tom, and was springing out of the boat, when we heard a noise more
loud than can be thought of. 'I'll warrant you he hath fallen on the
planks,' quoth Tom. 'Marry, but we will pick him up then,' quoth I;
and found myself soon on the edge of the roof, which was broken in at
one place, and, looking down, I thought I saw him lying on the ground.
I cried as loud as I durst, 'Mr. Watson, be you there? Hist! Are you
hurt? Speak if you can.' Methinks he was stunned by the fall, for he
did not answer; so there remained nothing left to do but to leap
myself through the opening into the shed, where I found him with his
eyes shut, and moaning. But when I spake to him he came to himself,
'and tried to rise, but could not stand, one of his legs being much
hurt. 'Climb on to my back, reverend sir,' I said 'and with God's help
we shall get out.' Howsoever, the way out did not appear manifest, and
mostly with another beside one's self to carry. But glancing round the
inside of the shed, I perceived a door, the fastening of which, when I
shook it, roughly enough I promise you, gave way; and the boat lay,
God be praised, close to it outside. I gave one look up to the prison,
and saw lights flashing in some of the windows. 'They be astir,' I
said to Tom. 'Hist! lend a hand, man, and take the reverend gentleman
from off my back and into  the boat.' Mr. Watson uttered a groan.
He most have suffered cruel pain; for, as we since found, his leg and
also his arm were broken, and he looked more dead than alive.

"We began to row as fast as we could; but now he, coming to himself,
feels in his coat, and cries out:

"'Oh, kind sirs--the cord, the cord! Stop, I pray you; stop, turn
back.'

"'Not for the world,' I cried, 'reverend sir.'

"Then he, in a lamentable voice:

"'Oh, if you turn not back and bring away the cord, the poor
gentlewoman which did give it unto me must needs fall into sore
trouble. Oh, for God's sake, turn back!'

"I gave a hasty glance at the prison, where increasing stir of lights
was visible, and resolved that to return should be certain ruin to
ourselves and to him for whom Mistress Ward had risked her life, and
little or no hope in it for her, as it was not possible there should
be time to get the cord and then escape, which with best speed now
could with difficulty be effected. So I turned a deaf ear to Mr.
Watson's pleadings, with an assured conscience she should have wished
no otherwise herself; and by God's mercy we made such way before they
could put out a boat, landing unseen beyond the next bridge, that we
could secretly convey him to the house of a Catholic not far from the
river on the other side, where he doth lie concealed. I promise you,
sweetheart, we did row hard. Albeit I strove very much last year when
I won the boat-match at Richmond, by my troth it was but child's play
to last night's racing. Poor Mr. Watson fainted before we landed, and
neither of us dared venture to stop from pulling for to assist him.
But, God be praised, he is now in a good bed; and I fetched for him at
daybreak a leech I know in the Borough, who hath set his broken limbs;
and to-night if the weather be not foul, when it gets dark, we will
convey him in a boat to a vessel at the river's mouth, which I have
retained for to take us to Calais. But I would Mistress Ward was on
board of it also."

"Oh, Basil," I exclaimed, "if we can discover where she doth lodge, it
would not then be impossible. If we had forecasted this yesterday, she
would be saved. Yet she had perhaps refused to tell us."

"Most like she would," he answered; "but if you do hit by any means
upon her abode to-day, forthwith despatch a trusty messenger unto me
at Mr. Hodgson's, and I promise you, sweetheart, she shall, will she
nill she, if I have to use force for it, be carried away to France,
and stowed with a good madame I know at Calais."

The housekeeper then came in with bread and meat and beer, which my
dear Basil did very gladly partake of, for he had eat nothing since
the day before, and was greatly in want of food. I waited on him,
forestalling housewifely duties, with so great a contentment in this
quiet hour spent in his company that nothing could surpass it. The
fire now burned brightly; and whilst he ate, we talked of the time
when we should be married and live at Euston, so retired from the busy
world without as should be most safe and peaceful in these troublesome
times, even as in that silent house we were for a short time shut out
from the noisy city, the sounds of which reached without disturbing
us. Oh how welcome was that little interval of peace which we then
enjoyed! I ween we were both very tired; and when the good housekeeper
came in for to fetch away his plate he had fallen asleep, with his
head resting on his hands; and I was likewise dozing in a high-backed
chair opposite to him. The noise she made awoke me, but not him, who
slept most soundly. She smiled, and in a motherly manner moved him to
a more comfortable position, and said she would lay a wager on it he
had not been abed at all that night.


"Well, I'll warrant you to be a good guesser, Mistress Mason," I
answered. "And if you did but know what a hard and a good work he hath
been engaged in, methinks you would never tarry in his praise."

"Ah, Mistress Sherwood," she replied, "I have known Master Basil these
many years; and a more noble, kindly, generous heart never, I ween,
did beat in a man's bosom. He very often came here with his father and
his brother when both were striplings; and Master Hubert was the
sharpest and some said the most well-behaved of the twain. But beshrew
me if I liked not better Master Basil, albeit he was sometimes very
troublesome, but not techey or rude as some boys be. I remember it
well how I laughed one day when these young masters--methinks this
one was no more than five years and the other four--were at play
together in this room, and Basil had a new jerkin on, and colored hose
for the first time. Hubert wore a kirtle, which displeasured him, for
he said folks should take him to be a wench. So he comes to me,
half-crying, and says, 'Why hath Baz that fine new suit and me not the
same?' 'Because, little sir, he is the eldest,' I said. 'Ah,' quoth
the shrewd imp, 'the next time I be born methinketh I will push Baz
aside and be the eldest.' If I should live one hundred years I shall
never forget it, the little urchin looked so resolved and spiteful."

I smiled somewhat sadly, I ween, but with better cheer when she
related how tender a heart Basil had from his infant years toward the
poor, taking off his clothes for to give them to the beggars he met,
and one day, she said, praying very hard Mrs. Wells for to harbor a
strolling man which had complained he had no lodging.

"'Mistress,' quoth he, 'you have many chambers in your house, and he
hath not so much as a bed to lie in tonight;' and would not be
contented till she had charged a servant to get the fellow a lodging.
And me he once abused very roundly in his older years for the same
cause. There was one Jack Morris, an old man which worked sometimes in
Mr. Wells's stable, but did lie at a cottage out of the town. And one
day in winter, when it snowed, Master Basil would have me make this
fellow sleep in the house, because he was sick, he said, and he would
give him his own bed and lie himself on straw in the stable; and went
into so great a passion when I said he should not do so, for that he
was a mean person and could not lie in a gentleman's chamber, that my
young master cries out, 'Have a care. Mistress Mason, I do not come in
the night and shake you out of your own bed, for to give you a taste
of the cold floor, which yet is not, I promise you, so cold as the
street into which you would turn this poor diseased man.' And then he
fell to coaxing of me till I consented for to send a mattress and a
warm rug to the stable for this pestilent old man, who I warrant you
was not so sick as he did assume to be, but had sufficient cunning for
to cozen Master Basil out of his money. Lord bless the lad! I have
seen him run out with his dinner in his hand, if he did but see a
ragged urchin in the streets, and gift him with it; and then would
slug lustily about the house--methinks I do hear him now--

  'Dinner, O dinner's a rare good thing
  Alike for a beggar, alike for a king.'"

Basil opened then his eyes and stared about him.

"Why, Mistress Mason," he cried, "beshrew me if you are not rehearsing
a rare piece of poesy!--the only one I ever did indite." At the which
speech we all laughed; but our merriment was short; for time had sped
faster than we thought, and Basil said he must needs return to the
Borough to forecast with Mr. Hodgson and Tom Price means to convey Mr.
Watson to the ship, which was out at sea nigh unto the shore, and a
boat must be had to carry them there, and withal such appliances
procured as should ease his broken limbs.

"Is there not danger" I asked, "in moving him so soon?"


"Yea," he said, "but a less fearful danger than in long tarrying in
this country."

This was too true to be gainsayed; and so thanking the good
housekeeper we left the house, which had seemed for those few hours
like onto a harbor from a stormy sea, wherein both our barks,
shattered by the waves, had refitted in peace.

"Farewell, Basil," I mournfully said; "God knoweth for how long."

"Not for very long," he answered. "In three months I shall have crept
out of my wardship. Then, if it please God, I will return, and so deal
with your good uncle that we shall soon after that be married."

"Yea," I answered, "if so be that my father is then in safety."

He said he meant not otherwise, but that he had great confidence it
should then be so. When at last we parted he went down Holborn Hill
very fast, and I slowly to Ely Place, many times stopping for to catch
one more sight of him in the crowd, which howsoever soon hid him from
me.

When I arrived at home I found Muriel in great affliction, for news
had reached her that Mistress Ward had been apprehended and thrown
into prison. Methinks we had both looked for no other issue than this,
which she had herself most desired; but nevertheless, when the
certainty thereof was confirmed to us, it should almost have seemed as
if we were but ill-prepared for it. The hope I had conceived a short
time before that she should escape in the same vessel with Basil and
Mr. Watson, made me less resigned to this mishap than I should have
been had no means of safety been at hand, and the sword, as it were,
hanging over her head from day to day. The messenger which had brought
this evil news being warranted reliable by a letter from Mr. Hodgson,
I intrusted him with a few lines to Basil, in which I informed him not
to stay his departure on her account, who was now within the walls of
the prison which Mr. Watson had escaped from, and that her best
comfort now should be to know he was beyond reach of his pursuers. The
rest of the day was spent in great heaviness of spirit. Mr. Congleton
sent a servant to Mr. Roper for to request him to come to London, and
wrote likewise to Mr. Lacy for to return to his house in town, and
confer with some Catholics touching Mistress Ward's imprisonment.
Muriel's eyes thanked him, but I ween she had no hope therein and did
resign herself to await the worst tidings. Her mother's unceasing
asking for her, whose plight she dared not so much as hint at in her
presence, did greatly aggravate her sufferings. I have often thought
Muriel did then undergo a martyrdom of the heart as sharp in its kind
as that which Mistress Ward endured in prison, if the reports which
did reach us were true. But more of that anon. The eventful day, which
had opened with so much of fear and sorrow, had yet in store other
haps, which I must now relate.

About four of the clock Hubert came to Ely Place, and found me alone
in the parlor, my fingers busied with some stitching, my thoughts
having wandered far away, where I pictured to myself the mouth of the
river, the receding tide, the little vessel which was to carry Basil
away once more to a foreign land, with its sails flapping in the wind;
and boats passing to and fro, plying on the fair bosom of the broad
river, and not leaving so much as a trace of their passage. And his
boat with its freight more precious than gold--the rescued life bought
at a great price--methought I saw it glide in the dark amidst those
hundred other boats unobserved (so I hoped), unstayed on its course.
Methought that so little bark should be a type of some lives which
carry with them, unwatched, undiscerned, a purpose, which doth freight
them on their way to eternity--somewhat hidden, somewhat close to
their hearts, somewhat engaging their whole strength; and all the
 while they seem to be doing the like of what others do; and God
only knoweth how different shall be the end!

"Ah, Hubert," I exclaimed when the door opened, "is it you? Methinks
in these days I see no one come into this house but a fear or a hope
doth seize me. What bringeth you? or hath nothing occurred?"

"Something may occur this day," he answered, "if you do but will it to
be so, Constance."

"What?" I asked eagerly; "what may occur?"

"Your father's deliverance," he said.

"Oh, Hubert," I cried, "it is not possible!"

"Go to!" he said in a resolved manner. "Don your most becoming suit,
and follow my directions in all ways. Lady Ingoldsby, I thank God,
hath not left London, and will be here anon to carry you to Sir
Francis Walsingham's house, where her familiar friend, Lady Sydney,
doth now abide during Sir Philip's absence. You shall thus get speech
with Sir Francis; and if you do behave with diffidency, and beware of
the violence of your nature and exorbitancy of your tongue, checking
needless speeches, and answering his questions with as many words as
courtesy doth command, and as few as civility doth permit, I doubt not
but you may obtain your father's release in the form of a sentence of
banishment; for he is not ill-disposed thereunto, having received
notice that his health is sinking under the hardships of his
confinement, and his strength so impaired that, once beyond seas, he
is not like to adventure himself again in this country."

"Alas!" I cried, "mine eyes had discerned in his shrunken form and
hollow cheeks tokens of such a decay as you speak of; and I pray God
Mr. Secretary may deal mercifully with him before it shall be too
late."

"I'll warrant you," he replied, "that if you do rightly deal with him,
he win sign an order which shall release this very night your father
from prison, and send him safe beyond seas before the week is ended."

"Think you so?" I said, my heart beating with an uncertain kind of
hope mixed with doubting.

"I am assured of it," Hubert confidently replied.

"I must ask my uncle's advice," doubtfully said, "before I go with
Polly."

A contemptuous smile curled his lip. "Yea," he said, "Be directed in
these weighty matters, I do advise you, by your aunt also, and the
saintly Muriel, and twenty hundred others beside, if you list; and the
while this last chance shall escape, and your father be doomed to
death. I have done my part, God knoweth. If he perish, his blood will
not be on my head; but mark my words, if he be not presently released,
he will appear before the council in two days, and the oath be
tendered to him, which you best know if he will take, and his refusal
without fail will send him to the scaffold."

"God defend," I exclaimed, greatly moved, "I should delay to do that
which may yet save him. I will go, Hubert. But I pray you, who are
familiar with Sir Francis, what means should be best for to move him
to compassion? Is there a soft corner in his heart which a woman's
tears can touch? I will kneel to him if needful, yea, kiss his
feet--mind him of his own fair daughter. Lady Sydney, which, if he was
in prison, and my father held his fate in his hands, would doubtless
sue to him with the like ardor, yea, the like agony of spirit, for
mercy. Oh, tell me, Hubert, what to say which shall drive the edge of
pity into his soul."

"Silence will take effect in this case sooner than the most moving
speeches," he answered. "Steel your soul to it, whatever he may say.
Your tears, your eyes, will, I warrant you, plead more mightfully than
your words. He is as obliging to the softer but predominant parts of
the world as he is  serviceable to the more severe. To him men's
faces speak as much as their tongues, and their countenances are
indexes of their hearts. Judge if yours, the liveliest piece of
eloquence which ever displayed itself in a fair visage, shall fail to
express that which passionate words, missing their aim, would of a
surety ill convey. And mind you, Mistress Constance, this man is of
extreme ability in the school of policy, and albeit inclined to
recusants with the view of winning them over by means of kindness, yet
an extreme hater of the Pope and Church of Rome, and moreover very
jealous to be considered as such; so if he do intend to show you favor
in this matter, make your reckoning that he will urge you to
conformity with many strenuous exhortations, which, if you remain
silent, no harm shall ensue to yourself or others."

"And not to mine own soul, Hubert?" I mournfully cried. "Methinks my
father and Basil would not counsel silence in such a case."

"God in heaven give me patience!" he exclaimed. "Is it a woman's
calling, I pray you, to preach? When the apostles were dismissed by
the judges, and charged no longer to teach the Christian faith, went
they not forth in silence, restraining their tongues then, albeit not
their actions when once at liberty? Methinks modesty alone should
forbid one of your years from dangerous retorts, which, like a
two-edged sword, wound alike friend and foe."

I had no courage left to withstand the promptings of mine own heart
and his urgency.

"God forgive me," I cried, "if I fail in aught wherein truth or
honesty are concerned. He knoweth I would do right, and yet save my
father's life."

Then falling on my knees, unmindful of his presence, I prayed with an
intense vehemency, which overcame all restraint, that my tongue might
be guided aright when I should be in his presence who under God did
hold my father's life in his hands. But hearing Polly's voice in the
hall, I started up, and noticed Hubert leaning his head on his hand,
seemingly more pitifully moved than was his wont. When she came in, he
met her, and said:

"Lady Ingoldsby, I pray you see that Mistress Constance doth so attire
herself as shall heighten her natural attractions; for, beshrew me, if
grave Mr. Secretary hath not, as well as other men, more pity for a
fair face than a plain one; and albeit hers is always fair, nature
doth nevertheless borrow additional charms from art."

"Tut, tut," quoth Polly. "She is a perfect fright in that hat, and her
ruff hideth all her neck, than which no swan hath a whiter; and I pray
you what a farthingale is that! Methinks it savors of the fashions of
the late queen's reign. Come, Con, cheer up, and let us to thy
chamber. I'll warrant you, Master Rookwood, she will be twice as
winsome when I have exercised my skill on her attire."

So she led me away, and I suffered her to dress mine hair herself and
choose such ornaments as she did deem most becoming. Albeit she
laughed and jested all the while, methinks the kindness of her heart
showed through this apparent gaiety; and when her task was done, and
she kissed my forehead, I threw my arms round her neck and wept.

"Nay, nay!" she cried; "no tears, coz--they do serve but to swell the
eyelids and paint the nose of a reddish hue;" and shaping her own
visage into a counterfeit of mine, she set me laughing against my
will, and drew me by the hand down the stairs and into the parlor.

"How now, sir?" she cried to Hubert "Think you I have indifferently
well performed the task you set me?"

"Most excellently well," he answered, and handed us to her coach,
which was to carry us to Seething Lane. When we were seated in it, she
told  me Hubert had disclosed to her the secret of my father's
plight, and that she was more concerned than she could well express at
so great a mishap, but nevertheless entertained a comfortable hope
this day should presently see the end of our troubles. Howsoever, she
did know but half of the trouble I was in, weighty as was the part she
was privy to. Hubert, she told me, had dealt with a marvellous great
zeal and ability in this matter, and proved himself so good a
negotiator that she doubted not Sir Francis himself must needs have
appreciated his ingenuity.

"That young gentleman," she added, "will never spoil his own market by
lack of timely boldness or opportune bashfulness. My Lady Arundel
related to me last night at Mrs. Yates's what passed on Monday at the
banquet-hall at Whitehall. Hath he told you his hap on that occasion?"

"No," I answered. "I pray you, Polly, what befel him there?'

"Well, her majesty was at dinner, and Master Hubert comes there to see
the fashion of the court. His handsome features and well-set shape
attract the queen's notice. With a kind of an affected frown she asks
Lady Arundel what he is. She answers she knows him not. Howsoever, an
inquiry is made from one to another who the youth should be, till at
length it is told the queen he is young Rookwood of Euston, in
Suffolk, and a ward of Sir Henry Stafford's."

"Mistaking him then for Basil?" I said.

Then she: "I think so; but howsoever this inquisition with the eye of
her majesty fixed upon him (as she is wont to fix it, and thereby to
daunt such as she doth make the mark of her gazing), stirred the blood
of our young gentleman, Lady Arundel said, insomuch that a deep color
rose in his pale cheek and straightway left it again; which the queen
observing, she called him unto her, and gave him her hand to kiss,
encouraging him with gracious words and looks; and then diverting her
speech to the lords and ladies, said that she no sooner observed him
than she did note there was in him good blood, and she ventured to
affirm good brains also; and then said to him, 'Fail not to come to
court, sir, and I will bethink myself to do you good.' Now I warrant
you, coz, this piece of a scholar lacked not the wit to use this his
hap in the furtherance of his and your suit to Sir Francis, whom he
adores as his saint, and courts as his Maecenas."

This recital of Polly's worked a tumultuous conflict in my soul; for
verily it strengthened hope touching my father's release; but methinks
any other channel of such hope should have been more welcome. A
jealousy, an unsubstantial fear, an uneasy misdoubt oppressed this
rising hope. I feared for Hubert the dawn of such favor as was shown
to him by her whose regal hand doth hold a magnet which hath
oftentimes caused Catholics to make shipwreck of their souls. And then
truth doth compel me to confess my weakness. Albeit God knoweth I
desired not for my true and noble sweetheart her majesty's gracious
smiles, or a higher fortune than Providence hath by inheritance
bestowed on him, a vain humane feeling worked in me some sort of
displeasure that his younger brother should stand in the queen's
presence as the supposed head of the house of Rookwood, and no more
mention made of him than if he had been outlawed or dead. Not that I
had then reason to lay this error to Hubert's door, for verily naught
in Polly's words did warrant such a suspicion; but my heart was sore,
and my spirits chafed with apprehensions. God forgive me if I then did
unjustly accuse him, and, in the retrospect of this passage in his
life, do suffer subsequent events to cast backward shadows on it,
whereby I may wrong him who did render to me (I write it with a
softened--yea, God is my witness--a truly loving, albeit sorrowing,
heart) a great service in a needful time. Oh, Hubert, Hubert! my heart
acheth for  thee. Methinks God will show thee great mercy yet,
but, I fear me, by such means only as I do tremble to think of.

CHAPTER XX.

When we reached Seething Lane, Polly bade me be of good heart, for
that Lady Sydney was a very affable and debonnaire lady, and Sir
Francis a person of toward and gentle manners, and exceedingly polite
to women. We were conducted to a neat parlor, where my Lady Sydney was
awaiting us. A more fair and accomplished lady is not, I ween, to be
found in England or any other country, than this daughter of a great
statesman, and wife at that time of Sir Philip Sydney, as she hath
since been of my Lords Essex and St. Albans. Methinks the matchless
gentleman, noble knight, and sweet writer, her first husband, who did
marry her portionless, not like as is the fashion with so many in our
days carrying his love in his purse, must have needs drawn from the
fair model in his own house the lovely pictures of beauteous women he
did portray in his "Arcadia." She greeted us with so much heartfelt
politeness, and so tempered gay discoursing with sundry marks of
delicate feeling, indicative, albeit not expressive, of a sense of my
then trouble, that, albeit a stranger, methinks her reserved
compassion and ingenious encouragements served to tranquillize my
discomposed mind more than Polly's efforts toward the same end. She
told us Lord Arundel had died that morning; which tidings turned my
thoughts awhile to Lady Surrey, with many cogitations as to the issue
of this event in her regard.

After a short space of time, a step neared the door, and Lady Sydney
smiled and said, "Here is my father." I had two or three times seen
Sir Francis Walsingham in public assemblies, but his features were
nevertheless not familiar to me. Now, after he had saluted Polly and
me, and made inquiry touching our relatives, while he conversed with
her on indifferent topics, I scanned his face with such careful
industry as if in it I should read the issue of my dear father's fate.
Methinks I never beheld so unreadable a countenance, or one which bore
the impress of so refined a penetration, so piercing an
inquisitiveness, so keen a research into others' thoughts, with so
close a concealment of his own. I have since heard what his son-in-law
did write of him, that he impoverished himself by the purchase of dear
intelligence; that, as if master of some invisible spring, all the
secrets of Christendom met in his closet, and he had even a key to
unlock the Pope's cabinet. His mottoes are said to be _video et
taceo_, and that knowledge can never be bought at too high a price.
And verily methinks they were writ in his face, in his quick-turning
eyes, his thin, compressed lips, and his soft but resolved accents,
minding one of steel cased in velvet. 'Tis reported he can read any
letter without breaking the seal. For mine own part, I am of opinion
he can see through parchment, yea, peradventure, through stone walls,
when bent on some discovery. After a few minutes he turned to me with
a gracious smile, and said he was very glad to hear that I was a young
gentlewoman of great prudence, and well disposed in all respects, and
that he doubted not that, if her majesty should by his means show me
any favor, I should requite it with such gratitude as should appear in
all my future conduct.

"God knoweth," I stammered, mine eyes filling with tears, "I would be
grateful to you, sir, if it should please you to move her majesty to
grant my prayer, and to her highness for the doing of it."

"And how would you show such gratitude, fair Mistress Constance?" he
said, smiling in an encouraging manner.


"By such humble duty," I answered, "as a poor obscure creature can pay
to her betters."

"And I hope, also," he said, "that such dutifulness will involve no
unpleasing effort, no painful constraint on your inclinations; for I
am assured her majesty will never desire from you anything but what
will well accord with your advantage in this world and in the next."

These words caused me some kind of uneasiness; but as they called for
no answer, I took refuge in silence; only methinks my face, which he
did seem carefully to study, betrayed anxiety.

"Providence," Sir Francis then said, "doth oftentimes marvellously
dispose events. What a rare instance of its gracious workings should
be seen in your case, Mistress Constance, if what your heart doth
secretly incline to should become a part of that dutifulness which you
do intend to practice in future!"

Before I had clearly apprehended the sense of his words, Lady Sydney
said to Polly:

"My father hath greatly commended to Sir Philip and me a young
gentleman which I understand. Lady Ingoldsby, to be a friend of yours,
Mr. Hubert Rookwood, of Euston. He says the gracefulness of his
person, his excellent parts, his strong and subtle capacity, do
excellently fit him to learn the discipline and garb of the times and
court."

"Ay," then quoth Sir Francis, "he hath as large a portion of gifts and
endowments as I have ever noticed in one of his age, and I'll warrant
he proves no mere vegetable of the court, springing up at night and
sinking at noon."

Polly did warmly assent to these praises of Hubert, for whom she had
always entertained a great liking; but she merrily said he was not gay
enough for her, which abhorred melancholy as cats do water.

"Oh, fair lady," quoth Sir Francis, "God defend we should be
melancholy; verily 'tis fitting we should be sometimes serious, for
while we laugh all things are serious round about us. The whole
creation is serious in serving God and us. The holy Scriptures bring
to our ears the most serious things in the world. All that are in
heaven and hell are serious. Then how should we be always gay?"

Polly said--for when had she not, I pray you, somewhat to say?--that
certain things in nature had a propensity to gaiety which naught could
quell, and instanced birds and streamlets, which never cease to sing
and babble as long as they do live or flow. And to be serious, she
thought, would kill her. The while this talk was ministered between
them, my Lady Sydney, on a sign from her father, I ween, took my hand
in hers, and offered to show me the garden; for the heat of the room,
she said, was like to give me the headache. Upon which I rose, and
followed her into a court planted with trees, and then on to an alley
of planes strewed with gravel. As we entered it I perceived several
persons walking toward us. When the first thought came into my mind
who should be the tall personage in the centre, of hair and complexion
fair, and of so stately and majestic deportment, I marvel my limbs
gave not way, but my head swam and a mist obscured mine eyes.
Methinks, as one dreaming, I heard Lady Sydney say, "The queen,
Mistress Sherwood; kneel down, and kiss her majesty's hand." Oh, in
the brief moment of time when my lips pressed that thin, white,
jewelled hand, what multiplied thoughts, resentful memories, trembling
awe, and instinctive, homage to royal greatness, met in my soul, and
worked confusion in my brain!

"Ah, mine own good Sydney," I heard her majesty exclaim; "is this the
young gentlewoman your wise father did speak of at Greenwich
yesterday? The daughter of one Sherwood now in prison for popish
contumacy?"


"Even so," said Lady Sydney; "and your sacred majesty hath it now in
her power to show

  "The quality of mercy is not strained--'"

  "'But droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven
  Upon the place beneath,'"

interrupted the queen, taking the words out of her mouth. "We be not
ignorant of those lines. Will Shakespeare hath it,

  'Tis mightiest in the mightiest; it becomes
  The throned monarch better than his crown.'

And i' faith we differ not from him, for verily mercy is our habit and
the propension of our soul; but, by God, the malice and ingratitude of
recusant traitors doth so increase, with manifold dangers to our
person and state, that mercy to them doth turn into treason against
ourselves, injury to religion, and an offence to God. Rise," her
majesty then said to me; and as I stood before her, the color, I ween,
deepening in my cheeks, "Thou hast a fair face, wench," she cried;
"and if I remember aright good Mr. Secretary's words, hast used it to
such purpose that a young gentleman we have of late taken into our
favor is somewhat excessive in his doting on it. Go to, go to; thou
couldst go further and fare worse. We ourselves are averse to
marriage; but if a woman must needs have a husband (and that deep
blushing betokeneth methinks thy bent thereon), she should set her
heart wisely, and govern it discreetly."

"Alas, madam!" I cried, "'tis not of marriage I now do think; but, on
my knees" (and falling again at her feet, I clasped them, with tears),
"of my father's release; I do crave your majesty's mercy."

"Content thee, wench; content thee. Mr. Secretary hath obtained from
us the order for that foolish man's banishment from our realm."

"Oh, madam!" I cried, "God bless you!"

Then my heart did smite me I should with so great vehemency bless her
who, albeit in this nearest instance pitiful to me, did so
relentlessly deal with others; and I bethought me of Mistress Ward,
and the ill-usage she was like to meet with. And her words touching
Hubert, and silence concerning Basil, weighed like lead on my soul;
yet I taxed myself with folly therein, for verily at this time the
less he was thought of the greater should be his safety. Sir Francis
had now approached the queen, and I did hear her commend to him his
garden, which she said was very neat and trim, and the pattern of it
most quaint and fanciful. Polly did also kiss her hand, and Sir Walter
Raleigh and Sir Christopher Hatton, which accompanied her majesty,
whilst she talked with Sir Francis, conversed with Lady Sydney. I ween
my Lord Leicester and many other noblemen and gentlemen were also in
her train, but mine eyes took scant note of what passed before them;
the queen herself was the only object I could contemplate, so
marvellous did it seem I should thus have approached her, and had so
much of her notice as she did bestow on me that day. And here I cannot
choose but marvel how strangely our hearts are made. How favors to
ourselves do alter the current of our feelings; how a near approach to
those which at a distance we do think of with unmitigated enmity, doth
soften even just resentments; and what a singular fascination doth lie
in royalty for to win unto itself a reverence which doth obliterate
memories which in common instances should never lose their sting.

The queen's barge, which had moored at the river-side of Sir Francis's
garden, was soon filled again with the goodly party it had set down;
and as it went up the stream, and I stood gazing on it, methought the
whole scene had been a dream.

Lady Sydney and Polly moved Sir Francis to repeat the assurance her
majesty had given me touching the commutation of my father's
imprisonment into an order of banishment. He satisfied me thereon, and
did promise to procure for me permission to see  him once more
before his departure; which interview did take place on the next day;
and when I observed the increased paleness of his face and feebleness
of his gait, the pain of bidding that dear parent farewell equalled
not the joy I felt in the hope that liberty and the care of those good
friends to whose society he would now return, should prolong and cheer
the remaining days of his life. Methinks there was some sadness in him
that the issue he had so resolutely prepared for, and confidently
looked to, should be changed to one so different, and that only by
means of death would he have desired to leave the English mission; but
he meekly bowed his will to that of God, and said in an humble manner
he was not worthy of so exalted an end as he had hoped for, and he
refused not to live if so be he might yet serve God in obscure and
unnoticed ways.

When I returned home after this comfortable, albeit very sad, parting,
I was too weary in body and in mind for to do aught but lie down for a
while on a settle, and revolve in my mind the changes which had taken
place around me. Hubert came for a brief time that evening; and
methinks he had heard from Polly the haps at Seething Lane. He strove
for to move me to speak of the queen, and to tell him the very words
she had uttered. The eager sparkling of his eyes, the ill-repressed
smilingness of his countenance, the manner of his questioning, worked
in me a secret anger, which caused the thanks I gave him for his
successful dealings in my father's behalf to come more coldly from
mine heart than they should otherwise have done, albeit I strove to
frame them in such kind terms as were befitting the great service he
had rendered us. But to disguise my thoughts my tongue at last
refused, and I burst forth:

"But, for all that I do thank you, Hubert, yea, and am for ever
indebted to you, which you will never have reason, from my conduct and
exceedingly kind sisterly love, to doubt: bear with me, I pray you,
when I say (albeit you may think me a very foolish creature) that I
wish you not joy, but rather for your sake do lament, the new favor
you do stand in with the queen. O Hubert, bethink you, ere you set
your foot on the first step of that slippery ladder, court favor, that
no man can serve two masters."

"Marry," he answered in a light manner, "by that same token or text,
papists can then not serve the queen and also the Pope!"

There be nothing which so chilleth or else cutteth the heart as a
jesting retort to a fervent speech.

I hid my face on my arm to hide some tears.

"Constance," he softly said, seeing me moved, "do you weep for me?"

"Yea," I murmured; "God knoweth what these new friendships and this
dangerous favor shall work in you contrary to conscience, truth, and
virtue. Oh! heaven shield Basil's brother should be a favorite of the
queen!"

"Talk not of Basil," he fiercely cried, "I warrant you the day may be
at hand when his fate shall hang on my favor with those who can make
and mar a man, or ruin and mend his fortunes, as they will, by one
stroke of a pen!"

"Yea," I replied; "I doubt not his fortune is at their mercy. His
soul, God be praised, their arts cannot reach."

"Constance," he then said, fixedly gazing on me, "if you only love me,
there is no ambition too noble, no heights of virtue too exalted, no
sacrifices too entire, but I will aim at, aspire to, resolve on, at
your bidding."

"Love _you_!" I said, raising mine eyes to his, somewhat scornfully I
fear, albeit not meaning it, if I judge by his sudden passion.

"God defend," he cried, "I do not arrive at hating you with as great
fervency as I have, yea, as even yet I do love you! O Constance, if I
should one day be what I do yet abhor to think  of, the guilt
thereof shall lie with you if there be justice on Earth or in heaven!"

I shook my head, and laying my hand on his, sadly answered:

"I choose not to bandy words with you, Hubert, or charge you with
what, if I spoke the truth, would be too keen and resentful reproaches
for your unbrotherly manner of dealing with Basil and me; for it would
ill become the close of this day, on which I do owe you, under God, my
dear father's life, to upbraid where I would fain only from my heart
yield thanks. I pray you, let us part in peace. My strength is
well-nigh spent and my head acheth sorely."

He knelt down by my side, and whispered, "One word more before I go.
You do hold in your keeping Basil's fate and mine. I will not forsake
the hope that alone keepeth me from desperation. Hush! say not the
word which would change me from a friend to a foe, from a Catholic to
an apostate, from a man to a fiend. I have gone well-nigh into the
gate of hell; a slender thread yet holds me back; snap it not in
twain."

I spoke not, for verily my tongue clove to the roof of my mouth, and a
fainting sensation of a sudden came over me. I felt his lips pressed
on my hand, and then he left me; and that night I felt very ill, and
for nigh unto a fortnight could by no means leave my bed.

One morning, being somewhat easier, I sat up in a high-backed chair,
in what had once been our school-room; and when Muriel, who had been a
most diligent nurse to me in that sickness, came to visit me, I
pressed her for to tell me truly if she had heard aught of Basil or of
Mistress Ward; for every day when I had questioned her thereon she had
denied all knowledge of their haps, which now began to work in me a
suspicion she did conceal from me some misfortune, which doubt, I told
her, was more grievous to me than to be informed what had befallen
them; and so constrained her to admit that, albeit of Basil she had in
truth no tidings, which she judged to be favorable to our hopes, of
Mistress Ward she had heard, in the first instance, a report, eight or
ten days before, that she had been hung up by the hands and cruelly
scourged; which torments she was said by the jailors, which Mr. Lacy
had spoken with, to have borne with exceeding great courage, saying
they were the preludes of martyrdom, with which, by the grace of God,
she hoped she should be honored. Then Mr. Roper and Mr. Wells, who was
now returned to London, had brought tidings the evening before that on
the preceding day she had been brought to the bar, where, being asked
by the judges if she was guilty of that treachery to the queen and to
the laws of the realm of furnishing the means by which a traitor of a
priest had escaped from justice, she answered with a cheerful
countenance in the affirmative; and that she never in her life had
done anything of which she less repented than of the delivering that
innocent lamb from the wolves which should have devoured him.

"Oh, Muriel," I cried, "cannot you see her dear resolved face and the
lighting up of her eyes, and the quick fashion of her speech, when she
said this?"

"I do picture her to myself," Muriel answered in a low voice, "at all
hours of the day, and marvel at mine own quietness therein. But I
doubt not her prayers do win for me the grace of resignation. They
sought to oblige her to confess where Mr. Watson was, but in vain; and
therefore they proceeded to pronounce sentence upon her. But withal
telling her that the queen was merciful, and that if she would ask
pardon of her majesty, and would promise to go to church, she should
be set at liberty; otherwise that she must look for nothing but
certain death."

I drew a deep breath then, and said, "The issue is, then, not
doubtful."

"She answered," Muriel said, "that  as to the queen, she had
never offended her majesty; that as to what she had done in favoring
Mr. Watson's escape, she believed the queen herself, if she had the
bowels of a woman, would have done as mach if she had known the
ill-treatment he underwent; and as to going to church, she had for
many years been convinced that it was not lawful for her so to do, and
that she found no reason now for to change her mind, and would not act
against her conscience; and therefore they might proceed to the
execution of the sentence pronounced against her; for that death for
such a cause would be very welcome, and that she was willing to lay
down not one life only, but many, if she had them, rather than act
against her religion."

"And she is then condemned to death without any hope?" I said.

Muriel remained silent.

"Oh, Muriel!" I cried; "it is not done? it is not over?"

She wiped one tear that trickled down her cheek, and said, "Yesterday
she suffered at Tyburn with a wonderful constancy and alacrity."

I hid my face in my hands; for the sight of the familiar room, of the
chair in which she was sitting what time she took leave of us, of a
little picture pinned to the wall, which she had gifted me with, moved
me too much. But when I closed mine eyes, there arose remembrances of
my journeying with her; of my foolish speeches touching robbers; of
her motherly reproofs of my so great confidence, and comfort in her
guidance; and I was fain to seek comfort from her who should have
needed it rather than me, but who indeed had it straight from heaven,
and thereby could impart some share of it to others.

"Muriel," I said, resting my tired head on her bosom, "the day you say
she suffered, I now mind me, I was most ill, and you tended me as
cheerfully as if you had no grief."

"Oh, 'tis no common grief," she answered, "no casting-down sorrow, her
end doth cause me; rather some kind of holy jealousy, some over-eager
pining to follow her."

A waiting-woman then came in, and I saw her give a letter to Muriel,
who I noticed did strive to hide it from me. But I detected it in her
hand, and cried, "'Tis from Basil; how hath it come?" and took it from
her; but trembling so much, my fingers could scarce untie the strings,
for I was yet very unwell from my sickness.

"Mr. Hodgson hath sent it," quoth Muriel; "God yield it be good news!"

Then my eyes fell on the loved writing, and read what doth follow:

"DEAR HEART AND SWEET WIFE
soon to be--God be praised, we are now safe in port at Calais, but
have not lacked dangers in our voyage. But all is well, I ween, that
doth end well; and I do begin my letter with the tokens of that good
ending that mine own sweet love should have no fears, only much
thankfulness to God, whilst she doth read of the perils we have
escaped. We carried Mr. Watson--Tom and I and two others--into the
boat, on the evening of the day when I last saw you, and made for the
Dutch vessel out at sea near the river's mouth. The light was waning,
but not yet so far gone but that objects were discernible; and we had
not rowed a very long time before we heard a splashing of oars behind
us, and turning round what should we see but one of the Queen's
barges, and by the floating pennon at the stem discerned her majesty
to be on board! We hastily turned our boat, and I my back toward the
bank; threw a cloak over Mr. Watson, who, by reason of his broken
limbs, was lying on a mattress at the bottom of it; and Tom and the
others feigned to be fishing. When the royal barge passed by, some one
did shout, railing at us for that we did fish in the dark, and a storm
coming up the river; and verily it did of a sudden begin to blow very
strong. Sundry small craft were coming from the sea into the river for
shelter; and as they did meet as, expressed marvel we  should
adventure forth, jeering us for our thinking to catch fish and a storm
menacing. None of us, albeit good rowers, were much skilled in the
mariner's art; but we commended ourselves to God and went onward all
the night; and when the morning was breaking, to our unspeakable
comfort, we discovered the Dutch vessel but a few strokes distant at
anchor, when, as we bethought ourselves nearly in safety, a huge
rolling wave (for now the weather had waxed exceedingly rough) upset
our boat."

"O Muriel," I exclaimed, "that night I tossed about in a high fever,
and saw Basil come dripping wet at the foot of my bed: I warrant you
'twas second sight."

"Read on, read on," Muriel said; "nor delude yourself touching
visions."

"Tom, the other boatman, and I, being good swimmers, soon regained the
boat, the which floated keel upwards, whereon we climbed, but
well-nigh demented were we to find Mr. Watson could nowhere be seen.
In desperation I plunged again into the sea, swimming at hazard, with
difficulty buffeting the waves; when nearly spent I descried the good
priest, and seized him in a most unmannerly fashion by the collar, and
dragging him along, made shift to regain the floating keel; and Tom,
climbing to the top, waved high his kerchief, hoping to be seen by the
Dutchman, who by good hap did espy our signal. Soon had we the joy to
see a boat lowered and advance toward us. With much difficulty it
neared us, by reason of the fury of the waves; but, God be thanked, it
did at last reach us; and Mr. Watson, insensible and motionless, was
hoisted therein, and soon in safety conveyed on board the vessel. I
much feared for his life; for, I pray you, was such a cold, long bath,
succeeding to a painful exposed night, meet medicine for broken limbs,
and the fever which doth accompany such hurts? I wot not; but yet, God
be praised, he is now in the hospital of a monastery in this town,
well tended and cared for, and the leeches do assure me like to do
well. Thou mayest think, sweetheart, that after seeing him safely
stowed in that good lodgment, I waited not for to change my clothes or
break my fast, before I went to the church; and on my knees blessed
the Almighty for his protection, and hung a thank-offering on to our
Lady's image; for I warrant you, when I was fishing for Mr. Watson in
that raging sea, I missed not to put up Hail Marys as fast as I could
think them, for beshrew me if I had breath to spare for to utter. I do
now pen this letter at my good friend Mr. Wells's brother's, and Tom
will take it with him to London, and Mr. Hodgson convey it to thee.
Thy affectionate and humble obedient (albeit intending to lord it over
thee some coming day) servant and lover, BASIL ROOKWOOD.

"Oh, how the days do creep till I be out of my wardship! Methinks I do
feel somewhat like Mrs. Helen Ingoldsby, who doth hate patience, she
saith, by reason that it doth always keep her waiting. I would not be
patient, sweet one, I fear, if impatience would carry me quicker to
thy dear side."

"Well," said Muriel, sweetly smiling when I had finished reading this
comfortable letter, "the twain which we have accompanied this past
fortnight with our thoughts and prayers have both, God be praised,
escaped from a raging sea into a safe harbor, albeit not of the same
sort--the one earthly, the other heavenly. Oh, but I am very glad,
dear Constance, thou art spared a greater trial than hath yet touched
thee!" and so pure a joy beamed in her eyes, that methought no one
more truly fulfilled that bidding, "to rejoice with such as rejoice,
as well as to weep with such as weep."

This letter of my dear Basil hastened my recovery; and three days
later, having received an invitation thereunto, I went to visit the
Countess of Surrey, now also of Arundel, at Arundel House. The trouble
she was in by  reason of her grandfather's death, and of my Lady
Lumley's, who had preceded her father to the grave, exceeded anything
she had yet endured. The earl her husband continued the same hard
usage toward her, and never so much as came to visit her at that time
of her affliction, but remained in Norfolk, attending to his sports of
hunting and the like. Howsoever, as he had satisfied her uncles, Mr.
Francis and Mr. Leonard Dacre, Mr. James Labourn, and also Lord
Montague, and his own sister Lady Margaret Sackville, and likewise
Lord Thomas and Lord William Howard, his brothers, that he put not in
any doubt, albeit words to that effect had once escaped him, the
validity of his marriage, she, with great wisdom and patience, and
prudence very commendable in one of her years, being destitute of any
fitting place to dwell in, resolved to return to his house in London.
At the which at first he seemed not a little displeased, but yet took
no measures for to drive her from it. And in the ordering of the
household and care of his property manifested the same zeal, and
obtained the same good results, as she had procured whilst she lived
at Kenninghall. Methought she had waxed older by some years, not
weeks, since I had seen her, so staid and composed had become the
fashion of her speech and of her carriage. She conversed with me on
mine own troubles and comforts, and the various and opposite haps
which had befallen me; which I told her served to strengthen in me my
early thinking, that sorrows are oftentimes so intermixed with joys
that our lives do more resemble variable April days than the cloudless
skies of June, or the dark climate of winter.

Whilst we did thus discourse, mine eyes fell on a quaint piece of work
in silk and silver, which was lying on a table, as if lately unfolded.
Lady Arundel smiled in a somewhat sad fashion, and said:

"I warrant thou art curious, Constance, to examine that piece of
embroidery; and verily as regards the hands which hath worked it, and
the kind intent with which it was wrought, a more notable one should
not easily be found. Look at it, and see if thou canst read the
ingenious meaning of it."

This was the design therein executed with exceeding great neatness and
beauty: there was a tree framed, whereon two turtle-doves sat, on
either side one, with this difference, that by that on the right hand
there were two or three green leaves remaining, by the other none at
all--the tree on that side being wholly bare. Over the top of the tree
were these words, wrought in silver: "Amoris sorte pares." At the
bottom of the tree, on the side where the first turtle-dove did sit by
the green leaves, these words were also embroidered: "Haec ademptum,"
with an anchor under them. On the other side, under the other dove,
were these words, in like manner wrought: "Illa peremptum," with
pieces of broken board underneath.

"See you what this doth mean?" the countess asked.

"Nay," I answered; "my wit is herein at fault."

"You will," she said, "when you know whence this gift comes to me.
Methought, save by a few near to me in blood, or by marriage
connected, and one or two friends--thou, my Constance, being the
chiefest--I was unknown to all the world; but a sad royal heart having
had notice, in the midst of its own sore griefs, how the earl my
husband doth, through evil counsel, absent and estrange himself from
me, partly to comfort, and partly to show her love to one she once
thought should be her daughter-in-law, for a token thereof she sent me
this gift, contrived by her own thinking, and wrought with her own
hands. Those two doves do represent herself and me. On my side an
anchor and a few green leaves (symbols of hope), show I may yet
flourish, because my lord is alive; though, by reason of his absence
and unkindness, I mourn as a  lone turtle-dove. But the bare
boughs and broken boards on her side signify that her hopes are wholly
wrecked by the death of the duke, for whom she doth mourn without hope
of comfort or redress."

The pathetic manner in which Lady Arundel made this speech moved me
almost to tears.

"If Philip," she said, "doth visit me again at any time, I will hang
up this ingenious conceit where he should see it. Methinks it will
recall to him the past, and move him to show me kindness. Help me,
Constance," she said after a pause, "for to compose such an answer as
my needle can express, which shall convey to this royal prisoner both
thanks, and somewhat of hope also, albeit not of the sort she doth
disclaim.'"

I mused for a while, and then with a pencil drew a pattern of a like
tree to that of the Scottish queen's design; and the dove which did
typify the Countess of Arundel I did represent fastened to the branch,
whereon she sat and mourned, by many strings wound round her heart,
and tied to the anchor of an earthly hope, whereas the one which was
the symbol of the forlorn royal captive did spread her wings toward
the sky, unfettered by the shattered relics strewn at her feet. Lady
Arundel put her arm round my neck, and said she liked well this
design; and bade me for to pray for her, that the invisible strings,
which verily did restrain in her heavenward motions, should not always
keep her from soaring thither where only true joys are to be found.

During some succeeding weeks I often visited her, and we wrought
together at the same frame in the working of this design, which she
had set on hand by a cunning artificer from the rough pattern I had
drawn. Much talk the while was ministered between us touching
religion, which did more and more engage her thoughts; Mr. Bayley, a
Catholic gentleman who belonged to the earl her husband, and whom she
did at that time employ to carry relief to sick and poor persons,
helping her greatly therein, being well instructed himself, and
haunting such priests as did reside secretly in London at that time.

About the period when Basil was expected to return, my health was
again much affected, not so sharply as before, but a weakness and
fading of strength did show the effects of such sufferings as I had
endured. Hubert's behavior did tend at that time for to keep me in
great uneasiness. When he came to the house, albeit he spake but
seldom to me, if we ever were alone he gave sundry hints of a
persistent hope and a possible desperation, mingled with vague
threats, which disturbed me more than can be thought of. Methinks
Kate, Polly, and Muriel held council touching my health; and thence
arose a very welcome proposal, from my Lady Tregony, that I should
visit her at her seat in Norfolk, close on the borders of Suffolk,
whither she had retired since Thomas Sherwood's death. Polly, who had
a good head and a good heart albeit too light a mind, forecasted the
comfort it should be to Basil and me, when he returned, to be so near
neighbors until we were married (which could not be before some months
after he came of age), that we could meet every day; Lady Tregony's
seat being only three miles distant from Euston. They wrote to him
thereon; and when his answer came, the joy he expressed was such that
nothing could be greater. And on a fair day in the spring, when the
blossoms of the pear and apple-trees were showing on the bare
branches, even as my hopes of coming joys did bud afresh after long
pangs of separation, I rode from London, by slow journeys, to Banham
Hall, and amidst the sweet silence of rural scenes, quiet fields, and
a small but convenient house, where I was greeted with maternal
kindness by one in whom age retained the warmth of heart of youth, I
did regain so much strength and good looks, that when, one day, a
 horsemen, when I least thought of it, rode to the door, and I
turned white and red in turns, speechless with delight, perceiving it
to be Basil, he took me by both hands, looked into my face and cried:

"Hang the leeches! Suffolk air was all thou didst need, for all they
did so fright me."

"Norfolk air, I pray you," quoth my Lady Tregony, smiling.

"Nay, nay," quoth Basil. "It
doth blow over the border from Suffolk."

"Happiness, leastways, bloweth thence," I whispered.

"Yea," he answered; for he was not one for to make long speeches.

But, ah me! the sight of him was a cure to all mine ailments.


CHAPTER XXI.

It is not to be credited with how great an admixture of pleasure and
pain I do set myself to my daily task of writing, for the thought of
those spring and summer months spent in Lady Tregony's house doth stir
up old feelings, the sweetness of which hath yet some bitterness in
it, which I would fain separate from the memories of that happy time.

Basil had taken up his abode at Euston, whither I so often went and
whence he so often came, that methinks we could both have told (for
mine own part I can yet do it, even after the lapse of so many years)
the shape of each tree, the rising of each bank, the every winding of
the fair river Ouse betwixt one house and the other. Yea, when I now
sit down on the shore, gazing on the far-off sea, bethinking myself it
doth break on the coast of England, I sometimes newly draw on memory's
tablet that old large house, the biggest in all Suffolk, albeit homely
in its exterior and interior plainness, which sitteth in a green
hollow between two graceful swelling hills. Its opposite meadows
starred in the spring-tide with so many daisies and buttercups that
the grass scantily showeth amidst these gay intruders; the ascending
walk, a mile in length, with four rows of ash-trees on each side, the
tender green of which in those early April days mocked the sober tints
of the darksome tufts of fir; and the noble deer underneath the old
oaks, carrying in a stately manner their horned heads, and darting
along the glades with so swift a course that the eye could scarce
follow them. But mostly the little wooden bridge where, when Basil did
fish, I was wont to sit and watch the sport, I said, but verily him,
of whose sight I was somewhat covetous after his long absence. And I
mind me that one day when we were thus seated, he on the margin of the
stream and I leaning against the bridge, we held an argument touching
country diversions, which began in this wise:

"Methinks," I said, "of all disports fishing hath this advantage, that
if one faileth in the success he looketh for, he hath at least a
wholesome walk, a sweet air, a fragrant savor of the mead flowers. He
seeth the young swans, herons, ducks, and many other fowls with their
broods, which is surely better than the noise of hounds, the blast of
horns, and the cries the hunters make. And if it be in part used for
the increasing of the body's health and the solace of the mind, it can
also be advantageously employed for the health of the soul, for it is
not needful in this diversion to have a great many persons with you,
and this solitude doth favor thought and the serving of God by
sometimes repeating devout prayers."

To this Basil replied: "That as there be many men, there be also many
minds; and, for his part, when the woods and fields and skies seemed
in all one loud cry and confusion with the earning of the hounds, the
gallopping of the horses, the hallowing of the huntsmen, and the
excellent echo resounding from the hills and valleys, he did not think
there could be a  more delectable pastime or a more tuneable
sound by any degree than this, and specially in that place which is
formed so meet for the purpose. And if he should wish anything, it
would be that it had been the time of year for it, and for me to ride
by his side on a sweet misty mornings to hear this goodly music and to
be recreated with this excellent diversion. And for the matter of
prayers," he added, smiling, "I warrant thee, sweet preacher, that as
wholesome cogitations touching Almighty God and his goodness, and
brief inward thanking of him for good limbs and an easy heart, have
come into my mind on a horse's back with a brave westerly wind blowing
about my head, as in the quiet sitting by a stream listing to the
fowls singing."

"Oh, but Basil," I rejoined, "there are more virtues to be practised
by an angler than by a hunter."

"How prove you that, sweetheart?" he asked.

Then I: "Well, he must be of a well-settled and constant belief to
enjoy the benefit of his expectation. He must be full of love to his
neighbor, that he neither give offence in any particular, nor be
guilty of any general destruction; then he must be exceeding patient,
not chafing in losing the prey when it is almost in hand, or in
breaking his tools, but with pleased sufferance, as I have witnessed
in thyself, amend errors and think mischances instructions to better
carefulness. He must be also full of humble thoughts, not disdaining
to kneel, lie down, or wet his fingers when occasion commands. Then
must he be prudent, apprehending the reasons why the fish will not
bite; and of a thankful nature, showing a large gratefulness for the
least satisfaction."

"Tut, tut," Basil replied, laughing; "thinkest thou no patience be
needful when the dogs do lose the scent, or your horse refuseth to
take a gate; no prudence to forecast which way to turn when the issue
be doubtful; no humility to brook a fall with twenty fellows passing
by a-jeering of you; no thankfulness your head be not broken; no love
of your neighbor for to abstain in the heat of the chase from treading
down his corn, or for to make amends when it be done? Go to, go to,
sweetheart; thou art a dextrous pleader, but hast failed to prove thy
point. Methinks there doth exist greater temptations for to swear or
to quarrel in hunting than in fishing, and, if resisted, more
excellent virtues then observed. One day last year, when I was in
Cheshire, Sir Peter Lee of Lime did invite me to hunt the stag, and
there being a great stag in chase and many gentlemen hot in the
pursuit, the stag took soil, and divers, whereof I was one, alighted
and stood with sword drawn to have a cut at him."

"Oh, the poor stag!" I cried; "I do always sorely grieve for him."

"Well," he continued, "the stags there be wonderfully fierce and
dangerous, which made us youths more eager to be at him. But he
escaped us all; and it was my misfortune to be hindered in my coming
near him, the way being slippery, by a fall which gave occasion to
some which did not know me to speak as if I had failed for fear; which
being told me, I followed the gentleman who first spoke it, intending
for to pick a quarrel with him, and, peradventure, measure my sword
with his, so be his denial and repentance did not appear. But, I thank
God, afore I reached him my purpose had changed, and in its stead I
turned back to pursue the stag, and happened to be the only horseman
in when the dogs set him up at bay; and approaching near him, he broke
through the dogs and ran at me, and took my horse's side with his
horns. Then I quitted my horse, and of a sudden getting behind him,
got on his back and cut his throat with my sword."

"Alack!" I cried, "I do mislike these bloody pastimes, and love not to
think of the violent death of any living creature."


"Well, dear heart," he answered, "I will not make thee sad again by
the mention of the killing of so much as a rat, if it displeaseth
thee. But truly I mislike not to think of that day, for I warrant
thee, in turning back from the pursuit of that injurious gentleman,
somewhat more of virtue did exist than it hath been my hap often to
practice. For, look you, sweet one, to some it doth cause no pain to
forgive an injury which toucheth not their honor, or to plunge into
the sea to fish out a drowning man; but to be styled a coward, and yet
to act as a Christian man should do, not seeking for to be revenged,
why, methinks, there should be a little merit in it."

"Yea," I said, "much in every way; but truly, sir, if your thinking is
just that easy virtue is little or no virtue, I shall be the least
virtuous wife in the world."

Upon this he laughed so loud that I told him he would fright all the
fishes away.

"I' faith, let them go if they list," he cried, and cast away his rod.
Then coming to where I was sitting, he invited me to walk with him
alongside the stream, and then asked me for to explain my last speech.

"Why, Basil," I said, "what, I pray you, should be the duty of a
virtuous wife but to love her husband?"

So then he, catching my meaning, smiled and replied,

"If that duty shall prove easy to thy affectionate heart, I doubt not
but others will arise which shall call for the exercise of more
difficult virtue."

When we came to a sweet nook, where the shade made it too dark for
grass to grow, and only moss yielded a soil carpet for the feet, we
sat down on a shelving slope of broken stones, and I exclaimed,

"Oh, Basil, methinks we shall be too happy in this fair place; and I
do tax myself presently with hardness of heart, that in thy company,
and the forecasting of a blissful time to come, I lose the sense of
recent sorrows."

"God doth yield thee this comfort," he answered, "for to refresh thy
body and strengthen thy soul, which have both been verily sorely
afflicted of late. I ween he doth send us breathing-times with this
merciful intent."

By such discourses as these we entertained ourselves at sundry times;
but some of the sweetest hours we spent were occupied in planning the
future manner of our lives, the good we should strive to do amongst
our poor neighbors, and the sweet exercise of Catholic religion we
should observe.

Foreseeing the frequent concealing of priests in his house, Basil sent
one day for a young carpenter, one Master Owen, who hath since been so
noted for the contriving of hiding-places in all the recusants' houses
in England; and verily what I noticed in him during the days he was at
work at Euston did agree with the great repute of sanctity he hath
since obtained. His so small stature, his trick of silence, his
exceeding recollected and composed manner filled me with admiration;
and Basil told me nothing would serve him, the morning he arrived,
when he found a priest was in the house, but to go to shrift and holy
communion, which was his practice, before ever he set to work at his
good business. I took much pleasure in watching his progress. He
scooped out a cell in the walls of the gallery, contriving a door such
as I remembered at Sherwood Hall, which none could see to open unless
they did know of the spring. All the time he was laboring thereat, I
could discern him to be praying; and when he wot not any to be near
him, sang hymns in a loud and exceeding sweet voice. I have never
observed in any one a more religious behavior than in this youth, who,
by his subtle and ingenious art, hath saved the lives of many priests,
and procured mass to be said in houses where none should have durst
for to say or hear it if a refuge of this kind did not exist, wherein
a man may lie ensconced for years, and none can find him, if he come
not forth himself.


When he was gone, other sort of workmen were called in, for to make
more habitable and convenient a portion of this large house. For in
this the entire consenting of our minds did appear, that neither of us
desired for to spend money on showy improvements, or to inhabit ten
chambers when five should suffice. What one proposed, the other always
liked well; and if in tastes we did sometimes differ, yet no
disagreement ensued. For, albeit Basil cared not as much as I did for
the good ordering of the library, his indulgent kindness did
nevertheless incline him to favor me with a promise that one hundred
fair, commendable books should be added to those his good father had
collected. He said that Hubert should aid us to choose these goodly
volumes, holy treatises, and histories in French and English, if it
liked me, and poetry also. One pleasant chamber he did laughingly
appoint for to be the scholar's room, in the which he should never so
much as show his face, but Hubert and I read and write, if we listed,
our very heads off. The ancient chapel was now a hall; and, save some
carving on the walls which could not be recovered, no traces did
remain of its old use. But at the top-most part of the house, at the
head of a narrow staircase, was a chamber wherein mass was sometimes
said; and since Basil's return, he had procured that each Saturday a
priest should come and spend the night with him, for the convenience
of all the neighboring Catholics who resorted there for to go to their
duty. Lady Tregony and her household--which were mostly Catholic, but
had not the same commodities in her house, where to conceal any one
was more hard, for that it stood almost in the village of Fakenham,
and all comers and goers proved visible to the inhabitants--did repair
on Sundays, at break of day, to Euston. How sweet were those rides in
the fair morning light, the dew bespangling every herb and tree, and
the wild flowers filling the air with their fresh fragrance! The pale
primroses, the azure harebell, the wood-anemone, and the dark-blue
hyacinth--what dainty nosegays they furnished us with for our Blessed
Lady's altar! of which the fairest image I ever beheld stood in the
little secret chapel at Euston. Basil did much affection this image of
Blessed Mary; for as far back as he could remember he had been used to
say his prayers before it; and when his mother died, he being only
seven years of age, he knelt before this so lively representation of
God's Mother, beseeching of her to be a mother to him also; which
prayer methinks verily did take effect, his life having been marked by
singular tokens of her maternal care.

In the Holy Week, which fell that year in the second week of April, he
procured the aid of three priests, and had all the ceremonies
performed which do appertain to that sacred season. On Wednesday,
toward evening began _Tenebrae_, with the mysterious candlestick of
fifteen lights, fourteen of them representing, by the extinguishing of
them, the disciples which forsook Christ; the fifteenth on the top,
which was not put out, his dear Mother, who from the crib to the
cross, was not severed from him. On Thursday we decked the sepulchre
wherein the Blessed Sacrament reposed with flowers and all such jewels
as we possessed, and namely with a very fair diamond cross which Basil
had gifted me with, and reverently attended it day and night. "God
defend," I said to Basil, when the sepulchre was removed, "I should
retain for vain uses what was lent to our Lord yester eve!" and
straightway hung on the cross to our Lady's neck. On Friday we all
crept to the crucifix, and kissing, bathed it with our tears. On
Saturday every fire was extinguished in the house, and kindled again
with hallowed fire. Then ensued the benediction of the paschal candle,
and the rest of the divine ceremonies, till mass. At mass, as soon as
the priest pronounced "Gloria in excelsis," a cloth, contrived by Lady
Tregony and me,  and which veiled the altar, made resplendent
with lights and flowers, was suddenly snatched away, and many little
bells we had prepared for that purpose rung, in imitation of what was
done in England in Catholic times, and now in foreign countries. On
Easter Sunday, after mass, a benediction was given to divers sorts of
meat, and, in remembrance of the Lamb sacrificed two days before, a
great proportion of lamb. Nigh one hundred recusants had repaired to
Euston that day for their paschal communion. Basil did invite them all
to break Lent's neck with us, in honor of Christ's joyful
resurrection; and many blessings were showered that day, I ween, on
Master Rookwood, and for his sake, I ween, on Mistress Sherwood also.
The sun did shine that Easter morning with more than usual brightness.
The common people do say it danceth for joy at this glorious tide. For
my part, methought it had a rare youthful brilliancy, more cheering
than hot, more lightsome than dazzling. All nature seemed to rejoice
that Christ was risen; and pastoral art had devised arches of flowers
and gay wreaths hanging from pole to pole and gladdening every
thicket.

Verily, if the sun danced in the sky, my poor heart danced in my
bosom. At Basil's wishing, anticipating future duties, I went to the
kitchen for to order the tansy-cakes which were to be prizes at the
hand-ball playing on the next day. Like a foolish creature, I was
ready to smile at every jest, howsoever trifling; and when Basil put
in his head at the door and cried, "Prithee, let each one that eateth
of tansy-cake to-morrow, which signifieth bitter herbs, take also of
bacon, to show he is no Jew," the wenches and I did laugh till the
tears ran down our cheeks. Ah me! when the heart doth overflow with
joy 'tis marvellous how the least word maketh merriment.

One day late in April I rode with Basil for to see some hawking, which
verily is a pleasure for high and mounting spirits; howsoever, I wore
not the dress which the ladies in this country do use on such
occasions, for I have always thought it an unbecoming thing for women
to array themselves in male attire, or ride in fashion like a man, and
Basil is of my thinking thereon. It was a dear, calm, sun-shiny
evening, about an hour before the sun doth usually mask himself, that
we went to the river. There we dismounted and, for the first time, I
did behold this noble pastime. For is it not rare to consider how a
wild bird should be so brought to hand and so well managed as to make
us such pleasure in the air; but most of all to forego her native
liberty and feeding, and return to her servitude and diet? And what a
lesson do they read to us when our wanton wills and thoughts take no
heed of reason and conscience's voices luring us back to duty's perch.

When we had stood a brief time watching for a mallard, Basil perceived
one and whistled off his falcon. She flew from him as if she would
never have turned her head again, yet upon a shout came in. Then by
degrees, little by little, flying about and about, she mounted so high
as if she had made the moon the place of her flight, but presently
came down like a stone at the sound of his lure. I waxed very eager in
the noticing of these haps, and was well content to be an eye-witness
of this sport. Methought it should be a very pleasant thing to be
Basil's companion in it, and wear a dainty glove and a gentle tasel on
my fist which should never cast off but at my bidding, and when I let
it fly would return at my call. And this thought minded me of a
faithful love never diverted from its resting-place save by heavenward
aspirations alternating betwixt earthly duties and ghostly soarings.
But oh, what a tragedy was enacted in the air when Basil, having
detected by a little white feather in its tail a cock in a brake, cast
off a tasel gentle, who never ceased his circular motion till he had
recovered his place. Then suddenly  upon the flushing of the cock
he came down, and missing of it in that down-come, lo what working
there was on both sides! The cock mounting as if he would have pierced
the skies; the hawk flying a contrary way until he had made the wind
his friend; what speed the cock made to save himself! What hasty
pursuit the hawk made of the fugitive! after long flying killing of
it, but alack in killing of it killing himself!

"Ah, a fatal ending to a fatal strife!" exclaimed a known voice close
unto mine ear, a melodious one, albeit now harsh to my hearing. Mine
eyes were dazzled with gazing upward, and I confusedly discerned two
gentlemen standing near me, one of which I knew to be Hubert. I gave
him my hand, and then Basil turning round and beholding him and his
companion, came up to them with a joyful greeting:

"Oh, Sir Henry," he exclaimed, "I be truly glad to see you; and you,
Hubert, what a welcome surprise is this!"

Then he introduced me to Sir Henry Jemingham; for he it was who,
bowing in a courteous fashion, addressed to me such compliments as
gentlemen are wont to pay to ladies at the outset of their
acquaintanceship.

These visitors had left their horses a few paces off, and then Sir
Henry explained that Hubert had been abiding with him at his seat for
a few days, and that certain law-business in which Basil was concerned
as well as his brother, and himself also, as having been for one year
his guardian, did necessitate a meeting wherein these matters should
be brought to a close.

"So," quoth he then, "Master Basil, I proposed we should invade your
solitude in place of withdrawing you from it, which methought of the
two evils should be the least, seeing what attractions do detain you
at Euston at this time."

I foolishly dared not look at Hubert when Sir Henry made this speech,
and Basil with hearty cheer thanked him for his obliging conduct and
the great honor he did him for to visit him in this amicable manner.
Then he craved his permission for to accompany me to Lady Tregony's
house, trusting, he said, to Hubert to conduct him to Euston, and to
perform there all hospitable duties during the short time he should be
absent himself.

"Nay, nay," quoth Sir Henry, "but, with your license, Master Basil, we
will ride with you and this lady to Banham Hall. Methinks, seeing you
are such near neighbors, that Mistress Sherwood lacketh not
opportunities to enjoy your company, and that you should not deprive
me of the pleasure of a short conversation with her whilst Hubert and
you entertain yourselves for the nonce in the best way you can."

Basil smiled, and said it contented him very much that Sir Henry
should enjoy my conversation, which he hoped in future should make
amends to his friends for his own deficiencies. So we all mounted our
horses, and Sir Henry rode alongside of me, and Basil and Hubert
behind us; for only two could hold abreast in the narrow lane which
led to Fakenham. A chill had fallen on my heart since Hubert's
arrival, which I can only liken to the sudden overcasting of a bright
sun-shiny day by a dark, cold cloud.

At first Sir Henry entered into discourse with me touching hawking,
which he talked of in a merry fashion, drawing many similitudes
betwixt falconers and lovers, which he said were the likest people in
the world.

"For, I pray you," said he "are not hawks to the one what his mistress
is to the other? the objects of his care, admiration, labor, and all.
They be indeed his idols. To them he consecrates his amorous ditties,
and courts each one in a peculiar dialect. Oh, believe me, Mistress
Sherwood, that lady may style herself fortunate in love who shall meet
with so much thought, affection, and solicitude from a lover or a
husband as his birds do from a good ostringen."


Then diverting his speech to other topics, he told me it was bruited
that the queen did intend to make a progress in the eastern counties
that summer, and that her majesty should be entertained in a very
splendid manner at Kenninghall by my Lord Arundel and also at his
house in Norwich.

"It doth much grieve me to hear it," I answered.

Then he: "Wherefore, Mistress Sherwood?"

"Because," I said, "Lord Arundel hath already greatly impaired his
fortune and spent larger sums than can be thought of in the like
prodigal courtly expenses, and also lost a good part of the lands
which his grandfather and my Lady Lumley would have bequeathed to him
if he had not turned spendthrift and so greatly displeased them."

"But and if it be so," quoth he again, "wherefore doth this young
nobleman's imprudence displeasure you, Mistress Sherwood?"

I answered, "By reason of the pain which his follies do cause to his
sweet lady, which for many years hath been more of a friend to my poor
self, than unequal rank and, if possible, still more unequal merit
should warrant."

"Then I marvel not," replied Sir Henry, "at your resentment of her
husband's folly, for by all I have ever seen or heard of this lady she
doth show herself to be the pattern of a wife, the model of high-born
ladies; and 'tis said that albeit so young, there doth exist in her so
much merit and dignity that some noblemen confess that when they come
into her presence they dare not swear, as at other times they are wont
to do before the best of the kingdom. But I have heard, and am verily
inclined to believe it, that he is much changed in his dispositions
toward his lady; though pride, it may be, or shame at his ill-usage of
her, or fear that it should seem that, now his favor with the queen
doth visibly decline, he should turn to her whom, when fortune smiled
upon him, he did keep aloof from, seeking her only when clouds gather
round him, do hinder him from showing these new inclinations."

"How much he would err," I exclaimed, "and wrong his noble wife if he
misdoubted her heart in such a case! Methinks most women would be
ready to forgive one they loved when misfortune threatened them, but
she beyond all others, who never at any time allowed jealousy or
natural resentments to draw away her love from him to whom she hath
vowed it. But is Lord Arundel then indeed in less favor with her
majesty? And how doth this surmise agree with the report of her visit
to Kenninghall?"

"Ah, Mistress Sherwood," he answered, "declines in the human body
often do call for desperate remedies, and the like are often required
when they occur in court favor. 'Tis a dangerous expedient to spend
two or three thousands of pounds in one or two days for the
entertainment of the queen and the court; but if, on the report of her
intended progress, one of such high rank as Lord Arundel had failed to
place his house at her disposal, his own disgrace and his enemies'
triumph should have speedily ensued. I pray God my Lord Burleigh do
not think on Cottessy! Egad, I would as lief pay down at once one
year's income as to be so uncertainly mulcted. I warrant you Lord
Arundel shall have need to sell an estate to pay for the honor her
majesty will do him. He hath a spirit will not stop half-way in
anything he doth pursue."

"Then think you, sir," I said, "he will be one day as noted for his
virtues as now for his faults?"

Sir Henry smiled as he answered, "If Philip Howard doth set himself
one day to serve God, I promise you his zeal therein will far exceed
what he hath shown in the devil's service."

"I pray you prove a true prophet, sir," I said; and, as we now had
reached the door of Lady Tregony's house, I took leave of this
courteous gentlemen, and hastily turned toward  Basil--with an
uneasy desire to set him on his guard to use some reserve in his
speeches with Hubert, but withal at a loss how to frame a brief
warning, or to speak without being overheard. Howsoever, I drew him a
little aside, and whispered, "Prithee, be silent touching Owen's work,
even to Hubert."

He looked at me so much astonished, and methought with so great a look
of pain, that my heart smote me. We exchanged a brief farewell; and
when they had all ridden away, I felt sad. Our partings were wont to
be more protracted; for he would most times ask me to walk back with
him to the gate, and then made it an excuse that it should be
unmannerly not to see me home, and so three or four times we used to
walk to and fro, till at last I did laughingly shut the door on him,
and refused to open it again. But, ah me! that evening the chill I
spoke of had fallen on our simple joys like a blight on a fair
landscape.

On the next day two missives came to me from Euston, sent by private
hand, but not by the same messenger. I leave the reader to judge what
I felt in reading these proofs of the dispositions of two brothers, so
alike in features, so different in soul. This was Basil's letter:

"MINE OWN DEAR HEART--
The business which hath brought Sir Henry and Hubert here will, I be
frightened, hold me engaged all to-morrow. But, before I sleep, I must
needs write thee (poor penman as I be) how much it misliketh me to see
in thee an ill opinion of mine only and dear brother, and such
suspicion as verily no one should entertain of a friend, but much less
of one so near in blood. I do yield thee that he is not as zealous as
I could wish in devout practices, and something too fond of worldly
pleasures; but God is my witness, I should as soon think of doubting
mine own existence as his fidelity to his religion, or his kindness to
myself. So, prithee, dear love, pain me not again by the utterance of
such injurious words to Hubert as that I should not trust him with any
secrets howsoever weighty, or should observe any manner of restraint
in communicating with him touching common dangers and interests.
Methinks he is very sad at this time, and that the sight of his
paternal home hath made him melancholy. Verily, his lot hath in it
none of the brightness which doth attend mine, and I would we could
anyways make him a partaker in the happiness we do enjoy. I pray God
he may help me to effect this, by the forwarding of any wish he hath
at heart; but he was always of a very reserved habit of mind, and not
prone to speak of his own concernments. Forgive, sweetheart, this
loving reproof, from thy most loving friend and servant,"
"BASIL ROOKWOOD."

Hubert's was as followeth:

"MADAM--
My presumption toward you hath doubtless been a sin calling
for severe punishment; but I pray you leave not the cause of it
unremembered. The doubtful mind you once showed in my regard, and of
which the last time I saw you some marks methought did yet appear,
should be my excuse if I have erred in a persistency of love, which
most women would less deserve indeed, but would more appreciate than
you have done. If this day no token doth reach me of your changed
mind, be it so. I depart hence as changed as you do remain unchanged.
It may be for mine own weal, albeit passion deems of it otherwise, if
you finally reject me whom once you did look upon with so great favor,
that the very thought of it works in me a revived tenderness as should
be mine own undoing if it prevailed, for this country hath laws which
are not broken in vain, and faithful loyal service is differently
requited than traitorous and obstinate malignity. I shall be the
greater for lacking your love, proud lady; but to have it I would
forego all a sovereign can bestow--all that ambition can desire.
These, then, are my last words. If we meet not to-day, God
knoweth with what sentiments we shall one day meet, when justice hath
overtaken you, and love in me hath turned to hatred!"

"HUBERT ROOKWOOD."

"Ay," I bitterly exclaimed, laying the two letters side by side before
me, "one endeth with love, the other with hate. The one showeth the
noble fruits of true affection, the other the bitter end of selfish
passion." Then I mused if I should send Basil, or show him later
Hubert's letter, clearing myself of any injustice toward him, but
destroying likewise for ever his virtuous confidence his brother's
honor. A short struggle with myself ensued, but I soon resolved, for
the present at least, on silence. If danger did seem to threaten
Basil, which his knowledge of his brother's baseness could avert, then
I must needs speak; but God defend I should without constraint pour a
poisoned drop into the dear fount of his undoubting soul. Passion may
die away, hatred may cease, repentance arise; but the evil done by the
revealing of another's sin worketh endless wrong to the doer and the
hearer.

The day on which I received these two letters did seem the longest I
had ever known. On the next Basil came to Banham Hall, and told me his
guests were gone. A load seemed lifted from my heart But, albeit we
resumed our wonted manner of life, and the same mutual kindness and
accustomed duties and pleasures filled our days, I felt less secure in
my happiness, less thoughtless of the world without, more subject to
sudden sinkings of heart in the midst of greatest merriment, than
before Hubert's visit.

In the early part of June, Mr. Congleton wrote in answer to Basil's
eager pressings that he would fix the day of our marriage, that he was
of opinion a better one could not be found than that of our Lady's
Visitation, on the 2d of July, and that, if it pleased God, he should
then take the first journey he had made for five-and-twenty years; for
nothing would serve Lady Tregony but that the wedding should take
place in her house, where a priest would marry us in secret at break
of day, and then we should ride to the parish church at Euston for the
public ceremony. He should, he added, carry Muriel with him, howsoever
reluctant she should be to leave London; but he promised us this
should be a welcome piece of constraint, for that she longed to see me
again more than can be told.

Verily, pleasant letters reached me that week; for my father wrote he
was in better health, and in great peace and contentment of mind at
Rheims, albeit somewhat sad, when he saw younger and more fortunate
men (for so he styled them) depart for the English mission; and by a
cypher we had agreed on he gave me to understand Edmund Genings was of
that number. And Lady Arundel, to whom I had reported the conversation
I had with Sir Henry Jemingham, sent me an answer which I will here
transcribe:

"MY WELL-BELOVED CONSTANCE
--You do rightly read my heart, and the hope you express in my regard,
with so tender a friendship and solicitous desire for my happiness,
hath indeed a better foundation than idle surmises. It hath truly
pleased God that Philip's disposition toward me should change; and
albeit this change is not as yet openly manifested, he nevertheless
doth oftentimes visit me, and testifies much regret for his past
neglect of one whom he doth now confess to be his truest friend, his
greatest lover, and best comfort. O mine own dear friend! my life has
known many strange accidents, but none greater or more strange than
this, that my so long indifferent husband should turn into a secret
lover who doth haunt me by stealth, and looking on me with new eyes,
appears to conceive so much admiration for my worthless beauty, and to
find such pleasure in my poor company, that it would seem as if a new
face and person had been given to me wherewith  to inspire him
with this love for her to whom he doth owe it. Oh, I promise thee this
husbandly wooing liketh me well, and methinks I would not at once
disclose to the world this new kindness he doth show me and revival of
conjugal affection, but rather hug it and cherish it like a secret
treasure until it doth take such deep root that nothing can again
separate his heart from me. His fears touching the queen's
ill-conception of him increase, and his enemies do wax more powerful
each day. The world hath become full of uneasiness to him. Methinks he
would gladly break with it; but like to one who walketh on a narrow
plank, with a precipice on each side of him, his safety lieth only in
advancing. The report is true--I would it were false--of the queen's
progress, and her intended visit to Kenninghall. I fear another fair
estate in the north must needs pay the cost thereof; but avoidance is
impossible. I am about to remove from London to Arundel Castle, where
my lord doth will me for the present to reside. The sea-breezes on
that coast, and the mild air of Sussex, he thinks should improve my
health, which doth at this time require care. Touching religion, I
have two or three times let fall words which implied an increased
inclination to Catholic religion. Each time his countenance did very
much alter, and assumed a painful expression. I fear he is as greatly
opposed to it as heretofore. But if once resolved on what conscience
doth prescribe, with God's help, I hope that neither new-found joys
nor future fears shall stay me from obeying its voice.

"And so thou art to be married come the early days of July! I' faith
thy Basil and thou have, like a pair of doves, cooed long enough, I
ween, amidst the tall trees of Euston; which, if you are to be
believed, should be the most delectable place in the whole world. And
yet some have told me it is but a huge plain building, and the country
about it, except for its luxuriant trees, of no notable beauty. The
sunshine of thine own heart sheddeth, I ween, a radiancy on the plain
walls and the unadorned gardens greater than nature or art can bestow.
I cry thee mercy for this malicious surmise, and give thee license,
when I shall write in the same strain touching my lord's castle at
Arundel to flout me in a like manner. Some do disdainfully style it a
huge old fortress; others a very grand and noble pile. If that good
befalleth me that he doth visit me there, then I doubt not but it will
be to me the cheerfullest place in existence. Thy loving servant to
command,

    "ANN ARUNDEL AND SURREY."

This letter came to my hand at Whitsuntide, when the village folks
were enacting a pastoral, the only merit of which did lie in the
innocent glee of the performers. The sheep-shearing feast, a very
pretty festival, ensued a few days later. A fat lamb was provided, and
the maidens of the town permitted to run after it, and she which took
hold of it declared the lady of the lamb. 'Tis then the custom to kill
and carry it on a long pole before the lady and her companions to the
green, attended with music and morisco dances. But this year I
ransomed the lamb, and had it crowned with blue corn-flowers and
poppies, and led to a small paddock, where for some time I visited and
fed it every day. Poor little lamb! like me, it had one short happy
time that summer.

In the evening I went with the lasses to the banks of the Ouse, and
scattered on the dimpling stream, as is their wont at the lamb-ale, a
thousand odorous flowers--new-born roses, the fleur-de-luce,
sweet-williams, and yellow coxcombs, the small-flowered
lady's-slipper, the prince's-feather and the clustered bell-flower,
the sweet-basil (the saucy wenches smiled when they furnished me with
a bunch thereof), and a great store of midsummer daisies. When, with
due observance, I threw on the water a handful of these golden-tufted
and  silver-crowned flowerets, I thought of Master Chaucer's
lines:

  "Above all the flowers in the mead
  These love I most--these flowers white and red.
      And in French called _la belle Marguerite_.
  O commendable flower, and most in mind!
  O flower and gracious excellence!
      O amiable Marguerite."

The great store of winsome and graciously-named flowers used that day
set me to plan a fair garden, wherein each month should yield in its
turn to the altar of our secret chapel a pure incense of nature's own
furnishing. Basil was helping me thereto, and my Lady Tregony smiling
at my quaint devices, when Mr. Cobham, a cousin of her ladyship,
arrived, bringing with him news of the queen's progress, which quickly
diverted us from other thoughts, and caused my pencil to stand idle in
mine hand.

CHAPTER XXII.

"Ah, ladies," exclaimed Mr. Cobham--pleased, I ween, to see how
eagerly we looked for his news--"I promise you the eastern counties do
exhibit their loyalty in a very commendable fashion, and so report
saith her majesty doth think. The gallant appearance and brave array
of the Suffolk esquires hath drawn from her highness sundry marks of
her approval. What think you, my Lady Tregony, of two hundred
bachelors, all gaily clad in white-velvet coats, and those of graver
years in black-velvet coats and fair gold chains, with fifteen hundred
men all mounted on horseback, and Sir William le Spring of Lavenham at
their head. I warrant you a more comely troop and a nobler sight
should not often be seen. Then, in Norfolk, what great sums of money
have been spent! Notably at Kenninghall, where for divers days not
only the queen herself was lodged and feasted, with all her household,
council, courtiers, and all their company, but all the gentlemen also,
and people of the country who came thither upon the occasion, in such
plentiful, bountiful, and splendid manner, as the like had never been
seen before in these counties. Every night she hath slept at some
gentleman's seat. At Holdstead Hall I had the honor to be presented to
her highness, and to see her dance a minuet. But an unlucky accident
did occur that evening."

"No lives were lost, I hope?" Lady Tregony said.

"No lives," Master Cobham answered; "but a very precious fan which her
majesty let drop into the moat--one of white and red feathers, which
Sir Francis Drake had gifted her with on New Year's day. It was
enamelled with a half-moon of mother-o'-pearl and had her majesty's
picture within it."

"And at Norwich, sir?" I asked. "Methinks, by some reports we heard,
the pageants there must have proved exceeding grand."

"Rare indeed," he replied. "On the 16th she did enter the town at
Harford Bridge. The mayor received her with a long Latin oration, very
tedious; and, moreover, presented her with a fair cup of silver,
saying, 'Here is one hundred pounds pure gold.' To my thinking, the
cup was to her liking more than the speech, and the gold most of all;
for when one of her footmen advanced for to take the cup, she said
sharply, 'Look to it: there is one hundred pounds.' Lord! what a
number of pageants were enacted that day and those which followed!
Deborah, Judith, Esther at one gate; Queen Martia at another; on the
heights near Blanche-flower Castle, King Gurgunt and his men. Then all
the heathen deities in turn: Mercury driving full speed through the
city in a fantastic car; Jupiter presenting her with a riding-rod, and
Venus with a white dove.  But the rarest of all had been designed
by Master Churchyard. Where her majesty was to take her barge, at the
back-door of my Lord Arundel's town-house, he had prepared a goodly
masque of water-nymphs concealed in a deep hole, and covered with
green canvas, which suddenly opening as if the ground gaped, first one
nymph was intended to pop up and make a speech to the queen, and then
another; and a very complete concert to sound secretly and strangely
out of the earth. But when the queen passed in her coach, a
thunder-shower came down like a water-spout, and great claps of
thunder silenced the concert; which some did presage to be an evil
omen of the young lord's fortunes."

"I' faith," cried Basil, "I be sorry for the young nobleman, and yet
more for the poor artificer of this ingenious pageant, to whom his
nymphs turned into drowned rats must needs have been a distressing
sight."

"He was heard to lament over it," Master Cobham said, "in very
pathetic terms: 'What shall I say' (were his words) 'of the loss of
velvets, silks, and cloths of gold? Well, nothing but the old
adage--Man doth purpose, but God dispose.' Well, the mayor hath been
knighted; and her majesty said she should never forget his city. On
her journey she looked back, and, with water in her eyes, shaked her
riding whip, and cried, 'Farewell Norwich!' Yesterday she was to sleep
at Sir Henry Jerningham's at Cottessy, and hunt in his park to-day."

"Oh, poor Sir Henry!" I said laughing. "Then he hath not escaped this
dear honor?"

"Notice of it was sent to him but two days before, from Norwich,"
Master Cobham rejoined; "and I ween he should have been glad for to be
excused."

Lady Tregony then reminded us that supper was ready, and we removed to
the dining-hall; but neither did this good gentleman weary of relating
nor we of listening to the various haps of the royal progress, which
he continued to describe whilst we sat at meat.

He was yet talking when the sound of a horse gallopping under the
windows surprised us, and we had scarce time to turn our heads before
Basil's steward came tumbling into the room head foremost, like one
demented.

"Sir, sir!" he cried, almost beside himself; "in God's name, what do
you here, and the queen coming for to sleep at your house to-morrow?"

Methinks a thunder-clap in the midst of the stilly clear evening
should not have startled us so much. Basil's face flushed very deeply;
Lady Tregony looked ready to faint; my heart beat as if it should
burst; Master Cobham threw his hat into the air, and cried, "Long live
Queen Elizabeth, and the old house of Rookwood!"

"Who hath brought these tidings?" Basil asked of the steward.

"Marry," replied the man, "one of her majesty's gentlemen and two
footmen have arrived from Cottessy, and brought this letter from Lord
Burleigh for your honor."

Basil broke the seal, read the missive, and then quietly looking up,
said, "It is true; and I must lose no time to prepare my poor house
for her majesty's abode in it."

He looked not now red, but somewhat pale. Methinks he was thinking of
the chapel, and what it held; and the queen's servants now in the
house. I would not stay him; but, taking my hand whilst he spoke, he
said to Lady Tregony,

"Dear lady, I shall lack yours and Constance's aid to-morrow. Will you
do me so much good as to come with her to Euston as early before
dinner as you can?"

"Yea, we will be with you, my good Basil," she answered, "before ten
of the clock."

"'Tis not," he said, "that I intend to cast about for fine silks and
cloths of gold, or contrive pageants--God  defend it!--or ransack
the country for rare and costly meats; but such honorable cheer and so
much of comfort as a plain gentleman's house can afford, I be bound to
provide for my sovereign when she deigneth to use mine house."

"Master Cobham, I do crave the honor of your company also," he added,
turning to that gentleman, who, with many acknowledgments of his
courtesy, excused himself on the plea that he must needs be at his own
seat the next day.

Then Basil, mounting his horse which the steward had brought with him,
rode away so fast that the old man could scarce keep up with him.

Not once that night did mine eyes close themselves. Either I sat bolt
upright in my bed counting each time the clock struck the number of
chimes, or else, unable to lie still, paced up and down my chamber.
The hours seemed to pass so slowly, more than in times of deep grief.
It seemed so strange a hap that the queen should come to Euston, I
almost fancied at moments the whole thing to be a dream, so fantastic
did it appear. Then a fear would seize me lest the chapel should have
been discovered before Basil could arrive. Minor cares likewise
troubled me; such as the scantiness and bad state of the furniture,
the lack of household conveniences, the difficulty that might arise to
procure sufficient food at a brief notice for so great a number of
persons. Oh, how my head did work all night with these various
thinkings! and it seemed as if the morning would never come, and when
it did that Lady Tregony would never ring her bell. Then I bethought
myself of the want of proper dresses for her and myself to appear in
before her majesty, if so be we were admitted to her presence.
Howsoever, I found she was indifferently well provided in that
respect, for her old good gowns stood in a closet where dust could not
reach them, and she bethought herself I could wear my wedding-dress,
which had come from the seamstress a few days before; and so we should
not be ashamed to be seen. I must needs confess that, though many
doubts and apprehensions filled me touching this day, I did feel some
contentment in the thought of the honor conferred on Basil. If there
was pride in this, I do cry God mercy for it. As we rode to Euston,
the fresh air, the eager looks of the people on the road--for now the
report had spread of the queen's coming--the stir which it caused, the
puttings up of flags, and buildings of green arches, strengthened this
gladness. Basil was awaiting us with much impatience, and immediately
drew me aside.

"I have locked," he said, "all the books and church furniture, and our
Blessed Lady's image, in Owen's hiding place; so methinks we be quite
secure. Beds and food I have sent for, and they keep coming in.
Prithee, dear love, look well thyself to her majesty's chamber, for to
make it as handsome and befitting as is possible with such poor means
thereunto. I pray God the lodging may be to her contentation for one
night."

So I hasted to the state-chamber--for so it was called, albeit except
for size it had but small signs of state about it. Howsoever, with the
maids' help, I gathered into it whatsoever furniture in the house was
most handsome, and the wenches made wreaths of ivy and laurel, which
we hung round the bare walls. Thence I went to the kitchen, and found
her majesty's cook was arrived, with as many scullions as should have
served a whole army; so, except speaking to him civilly, and inquiring
what provisions he wanted, I had not much to do there. Then we went
round the house with Mr. Bowyer, the gentleman-usher, for to assign
the chambers to the queen's ladies, and the lords and gentlemen and
the waiting-women. There was no lack of room, but much of proper
furniture; albeit chairs and tables were borrowed on all sides from
the neighboring cottages, and Lady  Tregony sent for a store from
her house. Mr. Bowyer held in his hand a list of the persons of the
court now journeying with the queen; Lord Burleigh, Sir Francis
Walsingham, Sir Christopher Hatton, Sir Walter Raleigh, and many other
famous courtiers were foremost in it. When their lodgings were fixed,
he glanced down the paper, and, mine eyes following his, I perceived
among the minor gentlemen there set down Hubert's name, which moved me
very much; for we did not of a surety know at that time he did belong
to the court, and I would fain he had not been present on this
occasion, and new uneasy thoughts touching what had passed at Sir
Francis Walsingham's house, and the words the queen had let fall
concerning him and me, crossed my mind in consequence. But in that
same list I soon saw another name which caused me so vehement an
emotion that Basil, noticing it, pulled me by the hand into another
room for to ask me the cause of that sudden passion.

"Basil," I whispered, "mine heart will break if that murthering
Richard Topcliffe must sleep under your roof."

"God defend it!" he exclaimed. But pausing in his speech leant his arm
against the chimney and his head on it for a brief space. Then raising
it, said, in an altered tone, "Mine own love, be patient. We must
needs drink this chalice to the dregs" (which showed me his thoughts
touching this visit had been from the first less hopeful than mine).
Taking my pencil out of mine hand, he walked straight to the door
before which Mr. Bowyer was standing, awaiting us, and wrote thereon
Master Topcliffe's name. Methought his hand shook a little in the
doing of it. I then whispered again in his ear:

"Know you that Hubert is in the queen's retinue?"

"No, indeed!" he exclaimed; and then with his bright winning smile,
"Prithee now, show him kindness for my sake. He had best sleep in my
chamber to-night. It will make room, and mind us of our boyish days."

The day was waning and long shadows falling on the grass when tidings
came that her majesty had been hunting that morning, and would not
arrive till late. About dusk warning was given of her approach. She
rode up on horseback to the house amidst the loud cheering of the
crowd, with all her train very richly attired. But it had waxed so
dark their countenances could not be seen. Her master of the horse
lifted her from the saddle, and she went straight to her own
apartments, being exceeding tired, it was said, with her day's sport
and long riding. Notice was given that her highness would admit none
to her presence that evening. Howsoever, she sent for Basil, and,
giving him her hand to kiss, thanked him in the customary manner for
the use of his house. It had not been intended that Lady Tregony and I
should sleep at Euston, where the room did scarcely suffice for the
queen's suite. So when it was signified her majesty should not leave
her chamber that night, but, after a slight refection, immediately
retire to rest, and her ladies likewise, who were almost dead with
fatigue, she ordered our horses to be brought to the back-door. Basil
stole away from the hall where the lords and gentlemen were assembled
for to bid us good-night. After he had lifted me on the saddle, he
threw his arm round the horse's neck as if for to detain him, and
addressing me very fondly, called me his own love, his sole comfort,
his best treasure, with many other endearing expressions.

Then I, loth to leave him alone amidst false friends and secret
enemies, felt tenderness overcome me, and I gave him in return some
very tender and passionate assurances of affection; upon which he
kissed mine hands over and over again, and our hearts, overcharged
with various emotions, found relief in this interchange of loving
looks and words. But, alas! this brief interview had an unthought
 of witness more than good Lady Tregony, who said once or twice,
"Come, children, bestir yourselves," or "Tut, tut, we should be off;'"
but still lingered herself for to pleasure us. I chanced to look up,
whilst Basil was fastening my horse's bit, and by the light of a lamp
projecting from the wall, I saw Hubert at an open window right over
above our heads. I doubt not but that he had seen the manner of our
parting, and heard the significant expressions therein used; for a
livid hue, and the old terrible look which I had noticed in him
before, disfigured his countenance. I am of opinion that until that
time he had not believed with certainty that my natural, unbiassed
inclination did prompt me to marry Basil, or that I loved him with
other than a convenient and moderate regard, which, if circumstances
reversed their positions, should not be a hindrance to his own suit.
Basil having finished his management with my bridle stepped back with
a smile and last good-night, all unconscious of that menacing visage
which my terrified eyes were now averted from, but which I still
seemed pursued by. It made me weep to think that these two brothers
should lie in the same chamber that coming night; the one so confiding
and guileless of heart, the other so full of envy and enmity.

I was so tired when I reached home that I fell heavily asleep for some
hours. But, awaking between five and six of the clock, and not able to
rest in my chamber, dressed myself and went into the garden. Not far
from the house there was an arbor, with a seat in it. Passing
alongside of it, I perceived, with no small terror, a man lying asleep
on this bench. And then, with increased affright, but not believing
mine own eyes, but rather thinking it to be a vision, saw Basil, as it
seemed to me, in the same dress he wore the day before, but with his
face much paler. A cry burst from me, for methought perhaps he should
be dead. But he awoke at my scream, looked somewhat wildly about him
for a minute, rubbed his eyes, and then with a kind of smile, albeit
an exceeding sad one, said,

"Is it you, my good angel?"

"O Basil," I cried, sitting down by his side, and taking hold of his
chilled hand, "what hath happened? Why are you here?"

He covered his face with his hands. Methinks he was praying. Then he
raised his pale, noble visage and said:

"About one hour after your departure, supper being just ended, I was
talking with Sir Walter Raleigh and some other gentlemen, when a
message was brought unto me from Lord Burleigh, who had retired to his
chamber, desiring for to speak with me. I thought it should be
somewhat anent the queen's pleasure for the ordering of the next day,
and waited at once on his lordship. When I came in, he looked at me
with a very severe and harsh countenance. 'Sir,' he said in an abrupt
manner, 'I am informed that you are excommunicated for papistry. How
durst you then attempt the royal presence, and to kiss her majesty's
hand? You--unfit to company with any Christian person--you are fitter
for a pair of stocks, and are forthwith commanded not to appear again
in her sight, but to hold yourself ready to attend her council's
pleasure.' Constance, God only knoweth what I felt; and oh, may he
forgive me that for one moment I did yield to a burning resentment,
and forgot the prayers I have so often put up, that when persecution
fell on me I might meet it, as the early Christians did, with
blessings, not with curses. But look you, love, a judicial sentence,
torture, death methinks, should be easier to bear than this insulting,
crushing, brutal tone, which is now used toward Catholics. Yet if
Christ was for us struck by a slave and bore it, we should also be
able for to endure their insolent scorn. Bitter words escaped me, I
think, albeit I know not very well what I said; but  his lordship
turned his back on the man he had insulted, and left the room without
listening to me. I be glad of it now. What doth it avail to
remonstrate against injuries done under pretence of law, or bandy
words with a judge which can compel you to silence?"

"Basil," I cried, "you may forgive that man; I cannot'.'

"Yea, but if you love me, you shall forgive him," he cried. "God
defend mine injuries should work in thee an unchristian resentment!
Nay, nay, love, weep not; think for what cause I am ill-used, and thou
wilt presently rejoice thereat rather than grieve."

"But what happened when that lord had left you?" I asked, not yet able
to speak composedly.

Then he: "I stood stock-still for a while in a kind of bewilderment,
hearing loud laughter in the hall below, and seeing, as it did happen,
a man the worse for liquor staggering about the court. To my heated
brain it did seem as if hell had been turned loose in my house, where
some hours before--" Then he stopped, and again sinking his head on
his hands, paused a little, and then continued without looking up:
"Well, I came down the stairs and walked straight out at the front
door. As I passed the hall I heard some one ask, 'Which is the master
of this huge house?' and another, whom by his voice I knew to be
Topcliffe, answered, 'Rookwood, a papist, newly crept out of his
wardship. As to his house, 'tis most fit for the blackguard, but not
for her gracious majesty to lodge in. But I hope she will serve God
with great and comfortable examples, and have all such notorious
papists presently committed to prison.' This man's speech seemed to
restore me to myself, and a firmer spirit came over me. I resolved not
to sleep under mine own roof, where, in the queen's name, such
ignominious treatment had been awarded me,' and went out of my house,
reciting those verses of the Psalms, 'O God, save me in thy name, and
in thy strength judge me. Because strangers have risen up against me,
and the strong have sought my soul.' I came here almost unwittingly,
and not choosing to disturb any one in the midst of the night, lay
down in this place, and, I thank God, soon fell asleep."

"You did not see Hubert?" I timidly inquired.

"No," he said, "neither before nor after my interview with Lord
Burleigh. I hope no one hath accused him of papistry, and so this time
he may escape."

"And who did accuse you?" I asked.

"I know not," he answered; "we are never safe for one hour. A
discontented groom or covetous neighbor may ruin us when they list."

"But are you not in danger of being called before the council?" I
said.

"Yea, more than in danger," he answered. "But I should hope a heavy
fine shall this time satisfy the judges; which, albeit we can ill
afford it, may yet be endured."

Then I drew him into the house, and we continued to converse till good
Lady Tregony joined us. When I briefly related to her what Basil had
told me, the color rose in her pale, aged cheek; but she only clasped
her hands and said,

"God's holy will be done."

"Constance," Basil exclaimed, whilst he was eating some breakfast we
had set before him, "prithee get me paper and ink for to write to
Hubert."

I looked at him inquiringly as I gave him what he asked for.

"I am banished from mine own house," he said; "but as long as it is
mine the queen should not lack anything I can supply for her comfort.
She is my guest, albeit I am deemed unworthy to come into her
presence; I must needs charge Hubert to act the host in my place, and
see to all hospitable duties."

My heart swelled at this speech. Methought, though I dared not utter
 my thinking for more reasons than one, that Hubert had most like
not waited for his brother's licence to assume the mastership of his
house. The messenger was despatched, and then a long silence ensued,
Basil walking to and fro before the house, and I embroidering, with
mine eyes often raised from my work to look toward him. When nine
o'clock struck I joined him, and we strolled outside the gate, and
without forecasting to do so walked along the well-known path leading
to Euston. When we reached a turn of the road whence the house is to
be seen, we stopped and sat down on a bank under a sycamore tree. We
could discern from thence persons going in and out of the doors, and
the country-folk crowding about the windows for to catch a glimpse of
the queen, the guard ever and anon pushing them back with their
halberds. The numbers of them continually increased, and deputations
began to arrive with processions and flags. It was passing strange for
to be sitting there gazing as strangers on this turmoil, and folks
crowding about that house the master of which was banished from it. At
last we noticed an increased agitation amongst the people which seemed
to presage the queen's coming out. Sounds of shouting proceeded from
inside the building, and then a number of men issued from the front
door, and pushing back the crowd advanced to the centre of the green
plot in front and made a circle there with ropes.

"What sport are they making ready for?" I said, turning to Basil.

"God knoweth," he answered in a despondent tone. Then came others
carrying a great armed-chair, which they placed on one side of the
circle and other chairs beside it, and some country people brought in
their arms loads of fagots, which they piled up in the midst of the
green space. A painful suspicion crossed my mind, and I stole a glance
at Basil for to see if the same thought had come to him. He was
looking another way. I cast about if it should be possible on some
pretence to draw him off from that spot, whence it misgave me a
sorrowful sight should meet his eyes. But at that moment both of us
were aroused by loud cries of "God save the queen!" "Long live Queen
Elizabeth!" and we beheld her issue from the house bowing to the
crowd, which filled the air with their cries and vociferous cheering.
She seated herself in the armed-chair, her ladies and the chief
persons of her train on each side of her. On the edge of this
half-circle I discerned Hubert. The straining of mine eyes was very
painful; they seemed to burn in their sockets. Basil had been watching
the forth-coming of the queen, but his sight was not so quick as mine,
and as yet no fear such as I entertained had struck him.

"What be they about?" he said to me with a good-natured smile. Before
I could answer--"Good God!" he exclaimed in an altered voice; "what
sound is that?" for suddenly yells and hooting noises arose, such as a
mob do salute criminals with, and a kind of procession issued from the
front door. "What, what is it?" cried Basil, seizing my hand with a
convulsive grasp; "what do they carry?--not Blessed Mary's image?"

"Yea," I said, "I see Topcliffe walking in front of them. They will
burn it. There, there--they do lift it in the air in mockery. Oh, some
people do avoid and turn away; now they lay it down and light the
fagots." Then I put my hand over his eyes for that he should not see a
sort of dance which was performed around the fire, mixed with yells
and insulting gestures, and the queen sitting and looking on. He
forced my hand away; and when I said, "Oh, prithee, Basil, stay not
here--come with me," he exclaimed.

"Let me go, Constance! let me go! Shall I stand aloof when at mine own
door the Blessed Mother of God is outraged? Am I a Jew or a heretic
that I should endure this sight and not smite this queen of earth,
which dareth  to insult the Queen of Saints? Yea, if I should be
torn to pieces, I will not suffer them to proceed."

I clung to him affrighted, and cried out, "Basil, you shall not go.
Our Blessed Lady forbids it; your passion doth blind you. You will
offend God and lose your soul if you do. Basil, dearest Basil, 'tis
human anger, not godly sorrow only, moves you now." Then he cast
himself down with his face on the ground and wept bitterly; which did
comfort me, for his inflamed countenance had been terrible, and these
tears came as a relief.

Meantime this disgusting scene ended, and the queen withdrew; after
which the crowd slowly dispersed, smouldering ashes alone remaining in
the midst of the burnt-up grass. Then Basil rose, folded his arms, and
gazed on the scene in silence. At last he said:

"Constance, this house shall no longer be mine. God knoweth I have
loved it well since my infancy. More dearly still since we forecasted
together to serve God in it. But this scene would never pass away from
my mind. This outrage hath stained the home of my fathers. This
people, whose yells do yet ring in mine ears, can no longer be to me
neighbors as heretofore, or this queen my queen. God forgive me if I
do err in this. I do not curse her. No, God defend it! I pray that on
her sad deathbed--for surely a sad one it must be--she shall cry for
mercy and obtain it; but her subject I will not remain. I will
compound my estate for a sum of money, and will go beyond seas, where
God is served in a Catholic manner and his Holy Mother not dishonored.
Wilt thou follow me there, Constance?"

I leant my head on his shoulder, weeping. "O, Basil," I cried, "I can
answer only in the words of Ruth: 'Whithersoever thou shalt go, I will
go; and where thou shalt dwell, I also will dwell. Thy people shall be
my people, and thy God my God.'"

He drew my arm in his, and we walked slowly away toward Fakenham.
Wishing to prepare his mind for a possible misfortune, I said: "We be
a thousand times happier than those which shall possess thy lands."

"What say you?" he quickly answered; "who shall possess them?"

"God knoweth," I replied, afraid to speak further.

"Good heavens!" he exclaimed: "a dreadful thought cometh to me; where
was Hubert this morning?"

I remained silent.

"Speak, speak! O Constance, God defend he was there!"

His grief and horror were so great I durst not reveal the truth, but
made some kind of evasive answer. To this day methinks he is ignorant
on that point.

The queen and the court departed from Euston soon after two of the
clock; not before, as I since heard, the church furniture and books
had been all destroyed, and a malicious report set about that a piece
of her majesty's plate was missing, as an excuse for to misuse the
poor servants which had showed grief at the destruction carried on
before their eyes. When notice of their departure reached Banham Hall,
whither we had returned, Basil immediately went back to Euston. I much
lamented he should be alone that evening, in the midst of so many sad
sights and thoughts as his house now should afford him, little
forecasting the event which, by a greater mishap, surmounted minor
subjects of grief.

About six of the clock, Sir Francis Walsingham, attended by an esquire
and two grooms, arrived at Lady Tregony's seat, and was received by
her with the courtesy she was wont to observe with every one. After
some brief discoursing with her on indifferent matters, he said his
business was with young Mistress Sherwood, and he desired to see her
alone. Thereupon I was fetched to him, and straightway he began to
speak of the queen's good opinion of me, and that her highness had
been well contented  with my behavior when I had been admitted
into her presence at his house; and that it should well please her
majesty I should marry a faithful subject of her majesty's, whom she
had taken into her favor, and then she would do us both good.

I looked in a doubtful manner at Sir Francis, feigning to misapprehend
his meaning, albeit too clear did it appear to me. Seeing I did not
speak, he went on:

"It is her majesty's gracious desire, Mistress Sherwood, that you
should marry young Rookwood, her newly appointed servant, and from
this time possessor of Euston House, and all lands appertaining unto
it, which have devolved upon him in virtue of his brother's recusancy
and his own recent conformity."

"Sir," I answered, "my troth is plighted to his brother, a good man
and an honorable gentleman, up to this time master of Euston and its
lands; and whatever shall betide him or his possessions, none but him
shall be my husband, if ten thousand queens as great as this one
should proffer me another."

"Madam," said Sir Francis, "be not too rash in your pledges. I should
be loth to think one so well trained in virtue and loyalty should
persist in maintaining a troth-plight with a convicted recusant, an
exceeding malignant papist, who is at this moment in the hands of the
pursuivants, and by order of her majesty's council committed to
Norwich gaol. If he should (which is doubtful) escape such a sentence
as should ordain him to a lasting imprisonment or perpetual banishment
from this realm, his poverty must needs constrain him to relinquish
all pretensions to your hand: for his brother, a most learned,
well-disposed, commendable young gentleman, with such good parts as
fit him to aspire to some high advancement in the state and at court,
having conformed some days ago to the established religion and given
many proofs of his zeal and sincerity therein, his brother's estates,
as is most just, have devolved on him, and a more worthy and, I may
add, from long and constant devotion and fervent humble passion long
since entertained for yourself, more desirable candidate for your hand
could not easily be found."

I looked fixedly at Sir Francis, and then said, subduing my voice as
much as possible, and restraining all gestures:

"Sir, you have, I ween, a more deep knowledge of men's hearts and a
more piercing insight into their thoughts than any other person in the
world. You are wiser than any other statesman, and your wit and
sagacity are spoken of all over Christendom. But methinketh, sir,
there are two things which, wise and learned as you are, you are yet
ignorant of, and these are a woman's heart and a Catholic's faith. I
would as soon wed the meanest clown which yelled this day at Blessed
Mary's image, as the future possessor of Euston, the apostate Hubert
Rookwood. Now, sir, I pray you, send for the pursuivants, and let me
be committed to gaol for the same crime as my betrothed husband, God
knoweth I will bless you for it."

"Madam," Sir Francis coldly answered, "the law taketh no heed of
persons out of their senses. A frantic passion and an immoderate
fanaticism have distracted your reason. Time and reflection will, I
doubt not, recall you to better and more comfortable sentiments; in
which case I pray you to have recourse to my good offices, which shall
ever be at your service."

Then bowing, he left me; and when he was gone, and the tumult of my
soul had subsided, I lamented my vehemency, for methought if I had
been more cunning in my speech, I could have done Basil some good; but
now it was too late, and verily, if again exposed to the same
temptation, I doubt if I could have dissembled the indignant feelings
which Sir Francis's advocacy of Hubert's suit worked in me.

Lady Tregony, pitying my unhappy plight, proposed to travel with me to
 London, where I was now desirous to return, for there I thought
some steps might be taken to procure Basil's release, with more hope
of success than if I tarried in the scene of our late happiness. She
did me also the good to go with me in the first place to Norwich,
where, by means of that same governor to whom Sir Hammond l'Estrange
had once written in my father's behalf, we obtained for to see Basil
for a few minutes. His brother's apostasy, and the painful suspicion
that it was by his means the secret of Owen's cell at Euston had been
betrayed, gave him infinite concern; but his own imprisonment and
losses he bore with very great cheerfulness; and we entertained
ourselves with the thought of a small cottage beyond seas, which
henceforward became the theme of such imaginings as lovers must needs
cherish to keep alive the flame of hope. Two days afterward I reached
London, having travelled very fast, and only slept one night on the
road.

It sometimes happens that certain misfortunes do overtake us which,
had we foreseen, we should well-nigh have despaired, and misdoubted
with what strength we should meet them; but God is very merciful, and
fitteth the back to the burthen. If at the time that Basil left me at
four of the clock to return to Euston, without any doubt on our minds
to meet the next day, I should have known how long a parting was at
hand, methinks all courage would have failed me. But hope worketh
patience, and patience in return breedeth hope, and the while the soul
is learning lessons of resignation, which at first would have seemed
too hard. At the outset of this trouble, I expected he should have
soon been set at liberty on the payment of a fine; but I had forgot he
was now a poor man, well-nigh beggared by the loss of his inheritance.
Mr. Swithin Wells, one of the best friends he and myself had--for,
alas! good Mr. Roper had died during my absence--told me that, when
Hubert heard of his brother's arrest, he fell into a great anguish of
mind, and dealt earnestly with his new patrons to procure his release,
but with no effect. Then, in a letter which he sent him, he offered to
remit unto him whatever moneys he desired out of his estates; but
Basil steadfastly refused to receive from him so much as one penny,
and to this day has persisted in this resolve. I have since seen the
letter which he wrote to him on this occasion, in which this
resolution was expressed, but in no angry or contumelious terms,
freely yielding him his entire forgiveness for his offence against
him, if indeed any did exist, but such as was next to nothing in
comparison of the offence toward God committed in the abandonment of
his faith; and with all earnestness beseeching him to think seriously
upon his present state, and to consider if the course he had taken,
contrary to the breeding and education he had received, should tend to
his true honor, reputation, contentment of mind, and eternal
salvation. This he said he did plainly, for the discharge of his own
conscience, and the declaration of an abiding love for him.

For the space of a year and two months he remained in prison at
Norwich, Mr. Wells and Mr. Lacy furnishing him with assistance,
without which he should have lacked the necessaries of life; leastways
such conveniences as made his sufferings tolerable. At the end of that
time, it may be by Hubert's or some other friend's efforts, a sentence
of banishment was passed upon him, and he went beyond seas. I would
fain have then joined him, but it pleased not God it should be at that
time possible. Some moneys which were owing to him by a well-disposed
debtor he looked for to recover, but till that happened he had not
means for his own subsistence, much less wherewith to support a wife
in howsoever humble a fashion. Dr. Allen (now cardinal) invited him to
Rheims, and received him there with open arms. My father, during the
last years of his life, found in him a most dutiful and affectionate
son,  who closed his eyes with a true filial reverence. Our love
waxed not for this long separation less ardent or less tender; only
more patient, more exalted, more inwardly binding, now so much the
more outwardly impeded. The greatest excellency I found in myself was
the power of apprehending and the virtue of loving his. If his name
appear not so frequently in this my writing as it hath hitherto done,
even as his visible presence was lacking in that portion of my life
which followed his departure, the thought of him never leaves me. If I
speak of virtue in any one else, my mind turns to him, the most
perfect exemplar I have met with of self-forgetting goodness; if of
love, my heart recalls the perfect exchange of affection which doth
link his soul with mine; if of joy, the memory of that pure happiness
I found in his society; if of sorrow, of the perpetual grief his
absence did cause me; if of hope, the abiding anchor whereon I rested
mine during the weary years of separation. Yea, when I do write the
words faith, honor, nobility, firmness, tenderness, then I think I am
writing my dear Basil's name.


CHAPTER XXIII.

The year which followed Basil's arrest, and during which he was in the
prison at Norwich, I wholly spent in London; not with any success
touching the procuring of his release, as I had expected, but with a
constant hope thereof which had its fulfilment later, albeit not by
any of the means I had looked to. I shared the while with Muriel the
care of her now aged and very infirm parents, taking her place at home
when she went abroad on her charitable errands, or employed by her in
the like good works when my ability would serve. A time cometh in most
persons' lives, when maturity doth supplant youthfulness. I say most
persons, because I have noticed that there are some who never do seem
to attain unto any maturity of mind, and do live and die with the same
childish spirit they had in youth. To others this change, albeit real,
is scarcely perceptible, so gradual are its effects; but some again,
either from a natural thoughtfulness, or by the influence of
circumstances tending to sober in them the exuberance of spirits which
appertaineth to early age, do wax mature in disposition before they
grow old in years; and this befel me at that time. The eager temper,
the intent desire and pursuit of enjoyment (of a good and innocent
sort, I thank God) which had belonged to me till then, did so much and
visibly abate, that it caused me some astonishment to see myself so
changed. Joyful hours I have since known, happy days wherein mine
heart hath been raised in adoring thankfulness to the Giver of all
good; but the color of my mind hath no more resembled that of former
years, than the hues of the evening sky can be likened to the roseate
flush of early morning. The joys have been tasted, the happiness
relished, but not with the same keenness as heretofore. Mine own
troubles, the crowning one of Basil's misfortune, and what I continued
then to witness in others of mine own faith, wrought in me these
effects. The life of a Catholic in England in these days must needs, I
think, produce one of two frames of mind. Either he will harbor angry
passions, which religion reproves, which change a natural indignation
into an unchristian temper of hatred, and lead him into plots and
treasons; or else he becomes detached from the world, very quiet,
given to prayer, ready to take at God's hands, and as from him at
men's also, sufferings of all kinds; and even those as yet removed
from so great perfection learn to be still, and to bethink themselves
rather of the next world than of the present one, more than even good
people did in old tunes.

The only friends I haunted at that time were Mr. and Mrs. Swithin
Wells.  In the summer of that year I heard one day, when in their
company, that Father Edmund Campion was soon to arrive in London.
Father Parsons was then lodging at Master George Gilbert's house, and
much talk was ministered touching this other priest's landing, and how
he should be conducted thither in safety. Bryan Lacy, Thomas James,
and many others, took it by turns to watch at the landing-place where
he was expected to disembark. Each evening Mr. Wells's friends came
for to hear news thereof. One day, when no tidings of it had yet
transpired, and the company was leaving, Mr. James comes in, and
having shut the door, and glanced round the room before speaking,
says, with a smile,

"What think you, sirs and ladies?"

"Master Campion is arrived," cries Mistress Wells.

"God be praised!" cries her husband, and all giving signs of joy do
gather round Mr. James for to hear the manner of his landing.

"Well," quoth he, "I had been pacing up and down the quay for
well-nigh five hours, when I discerned a boat, which (God only knoweth
wherefore) I straightway apprehended to be the one should bring Master
Campion. And when it reached the landing-place, beshrew me if I did
not at once see a man dressed in some kind of a merchant suit, which,
from the marks I had of his features from Master Parsons, I made sure
was the reverend father. So when he steps out of the boat I stand
close to him, and in an audible voice, 'Good morrow, Edmund,' says I,
which he hearing, turns round and looks me in the face. We both smile
and shake hands, and I lead him at once to Master Gilbert's house. Oh,
I promise you, it was with no small comfort to myself I brought that
work to a safe ending. But now, sir," he continued, turning to Mr.
Wells, "what think you of this? Nothing will serve Master Campion but
a place must be immediately hired, and a spacious one also, for him to
begin at once to preach, for he saith he is here but for that purpose,
and that he would not the pursuivants should catch him before he hath
opened his lips in England; albeit, if God will grant him for the
space of one year to exercise his ministry in this realm, he is most
content to lay down his life afterward. And methinks he considers
Almighty God doth accept this bargain, and is in haste for to begin."

"Hath Master Gilbert called his friends together for to consider of
it?" asked Mr. Wells.

"Yea," answered Mr. James. "Tomorrow, at ten of the clock, a meeting
will be held, not at his house, for greater security, but at Master
Brown's shop in Southwark, for this purpose, and he prayeth you to
attend it, sir, and you, and you, and you," he continued, turning to
Bryan Lacy, William Gresham, Godfrey Fuljambe, Gervase Pierpoint, and
Philip and Charles Bassett, which were all present.

The next day I heard from Mrs. Wells that my Lord Paget, at the
instigation of his friends which met at Mr. Brown's, had hired, in his
own name, Noel House, in the which one very large chamber should serve
as a chapel, and that on the feast of St. Peter and St. Paul, which
fell on the coming Sunday, Father Campion would say mass there, and
for the first time preach. She said the chief Catholics in London had
combined for to send there, in the night, some vestments, some
ornaments for the altar, books, and all that should be needful for
divine worship. And the young noblemen and gentlemen which had been at
her house the night before, and many others also, such as Lord Vaux,
William and Richard Griffith, Arthur Cresswell, Charles Tilvey,
Stephen Berkeley, James Hill, Thomas de Salisbury, Thomas Fitzherbert,
Jerom Bellamy, Thomas Pound, Richard Stanyhurst, Thomas Abington, and
Charles Arundel (this was one of the Queen's pages, but withal a
zealous Catholic), had joined themselves in a  company, for to
act, some as sacristans of this secret chapel, some as messengers, to
go round and give notice of the preachments, and some as porters,
which would be a very weighty office, for one unreliable person
admitted into that oratory should be the ruin of all concerned.

Muriel and I, with Mr. Wells, went at an early hour on the Sunday to
Noel House. Master Philip Bassett was at the door. He smiled when he
saw us, and said he supposed he needed not to ask us for the password.
The chamber into which we went was so large, and the altar so richly
adorned, that the like, I ween, had not been seen since the queen had
changed the religion of the country.

Mass was said by Father Campion, and that noble company of devout
gentlemen aforementioned almost all communicated thereat, and many
others beside, an ladies not a few. When mass was ended, and Father
Campion stood up for to begin his sermon, so deep a silence reigned in
that crowded assembly--for the chamber was more full than it could
well hold--that a pin should have been heard to drop. Some thirsting
for to hear Catholic preaching, so rare in these days, some eager to
listen to the words of a man famous for his learning and parts, both
before and after his conversion, beyond any other in this country. For
mine own part, methought his very countenance was a preachment. When
his eyes addressed themselves to heaven, it seemed as if they did
verily see God, so piercing, so awed, so reverent was their gaze. He
took for his text the words, "Thou art Peter, and on this rock I will
build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."
My whole soul was fastened on his words; and albeit I have had but
scant occasion to compare one preacher with another, I do not think it
should be possible for a more pathetic and stirring eloquence to flow
from human lips than his who that day gave God's message to a
suffering and persecuted people. I had not taken mine eyes off his
pale and glowing face not for so much as one instant, until, near the
close of his discourse, I chanced to turn them to a place almost
hidden by the curtain of an altar, where some gentlemen were standing,
concealing themselves from sight. Alas! in one instant the fervent
glowing of my heart, the staid, rapt intentness with which I had
listened, the heavenward lifting up of my soul, vanished as if a
vision of death had risen before me. I had seen Hubert Rookwood's
face, that face so like--oh, what anguish was that likeness to me
then!--to my Basil's. No one but me could perceive him, he was so hid
by the curtain; but where I sat it opened a little, and disclosed the
stern, melancholy, beautiful visage of the apostate, the betrayer of
his own brother, the author of our ruin, the destroyer of our
happiness. I thank God that I first beheld him again in that holy
place, by the side of the altar whereon Jesus had lately descended,
whilst the words of his servant were in mine ears, speaking of love
and patience. It was not hatred, God knoweth it, I then felt for
Basil's brother, but only terror for all present, and for him also, if
peradventure he was there with an evil intent. Mine eyes were fixed as
by a spell on his pale face, the while Father Campion's closing words
were uttered, which spoke of St. Peter, of his crime and of his
penance, of his bitter tears and his burning love. "If," he cried,
"there be one here present on whose soul doth lie the guilt of a like
sin; one peradventure yet more guilty than Peter; one like Judas in
his crime; one like Judas in his despair--to him I say, There is mercy
for thee; there is hope for thee, there is heaven for thee, if thou
wilt have it. Doom not thyself, and God will never doom thee." These
or the like words (for memory doth ill serve me to recall the fervent
adjurations of that apostolical man) he used; and, lo, I beheld tears
running down like rain from Hubert's eyes--an unchecked,
vehement torrent which seemed to defy all restraint. How I blessed
those tears! what a yearning pity seized me for him who did shed them!
How I longed to clasp his hand and to weep with him! I lost sight of
him when the sermon was finished; but in the street, when we
departed--which was done slowly and by degrees, for to avoid notice,
four or five only going out at a time--I saw him on the other side of
the pavement. Our eyes met; he stopped in a hesitating manner, and I
also doubted what to do, for I thought Mistress Wells and Muriel would
be averse to speak to him. Then he rapidly crossed over, and said, in
a whisper:

"Will you see me, Constance, if I come to you this evening?"

I pondered; I feared to quench, it might be, a good resolve, or
precipitate an evil one by a refusal; and building hopes of the former
on the tears I had seen him shed, I said:

"Yea, if you come as Basil's brother and mine."

He turned and walked hastily away.

Mistress Wells and Muriel asked me with some affright if it was Hubert
who had spoken to me, for they had scarce seen his face, although from
his figure they had judged it was him; and when I told them he had
been at Noel House, "Then we are undone!" the one exclaimed; and
Muriel said, "We must straightway apprise Mr. Wells thereof; but there
should be hopes, I think, he came there in some good disposition."

"I think so too," I answered, and told them of the emotion which I had
noticed in him at the close of the sermon, which comforted them not a
little. But he came not that evening; and Mr. Wells discovered the
next day that it was Thomas Fitzherbert, who had lately arrived in
London, and was not privy to his late conformity, which had invited
him to come to Noel House. Father Campion continued to preach once a
day at the least, often twice, and sometimes thrice, and very
marvellous effects ensued. Each day greater crowds did seek admittance
for to hear him, and Noel House was as openly frequented as if it had
been a public church. Numbers of well-disposed Protestants came for to
hear him, and it was bruited at the time that Lord Arundel had been
amongst them. He converted many of the best sort, beside young
gentlemen students, and others of all conditions, which by day, and
some by night, sought to confer with him. I went to the preachments as
often as possible. We could scarce credit our eyes and ears, so
singular did it appear that one should dare to preach, and so many to
listen to Catholic doctrine, and to seek to be reconciled in the midst
of so great dangers, and under the pressure of tyrannic laws. Every
day some newcomer was to be seen at Noel House, sometimes their faces
concealed under great hats, sometimes stationed behind curtains or
open doors for to escape observation.

After some weeks had thus passed, when I ceased to expect Hubert
should come, he one day asked to see me, and having sent for Kate, who
was then in the house, I did receive him. Her presence appeared
greatly to displease him, but he began to speak to me in Italian; and
first he complained of Basil's pride, which would not suffer him to
receive any assistance from him who should be so willing to give it.

"Would you--" I said, and was about to add some cutting speech, but I
resolved to restrain myself and by no indiscreet words to harden his
soul against remorse, or perhaps endanger others. Then, after some
other talking, he told me in a cunning manner, making his meaning
clear, but not couching it in direct terms, that if I would conform to
the Protestant religion and marry him, Basil should be, he could
warrant it, set at liberty, and he would make over to him more than
one-half of the income of his estates yearly, which, being done in
secret, the law could not then touch him. I made no answer thereunto,
but fixing mine eyes on him, said, in English:


"Hubert, what should be your opinion of the sermon on St. Peter and
St. Paul's Day?" He changed color. "Was it not," I said, "a moving
one?" Biting his lip, he replied:

"I deny not the preacher's talent."

"O Hubert," I exclaimed, "fence not yourself with evasive answers. I
know you believe as a Catholic."

"The devils believe," he answered.

"Hubert," I then said, with all the energy of my soul, "if you would
not miserably perish--if you would not lose your soul--promise me this
night to retrace your steps; to seek Father Campion and be
reconciled." His lip quivered; methought I could almost see his good
angel on one side of him and a tempting fiend on the other. But the
last prevailed, for with a bitter sneer he said:

"Yea, willingly, fair saint, if you will marry me."

Kate, who till then had not much understood what had passed, cried
out, "Fie, Hubert, fie on thee to tempt her to abandon Basil, and he a
prisoner."

"Madam," he said, turning to her, "recusants should not be so bold in
their language. The laws of the land are transgressed in a very daring
manner now-a-days, and those who obey them taunted for the performance
of their duty to the queen and the country."

Oh, what a hard struggle it proved to be patient; to repress the
vehement reproaches which hovered on my lips. Kate looked at me
affrighted. I trembled from head to foot. Father Campion's life and
the fate of many others, it might be, were in the hands of this man,
this traitor, this spy. To upbraid him I dared not, but wringing my
hands, exclaimed:

"O Hubert, Hubert! for thy mother's sake, who looks down on us from
heaven, listen to me. There be no crimes which may not be forgiven;
but some there be which if one doth commit them he forgiveth not
himself, and is likely to perish miserably."

"Think you I know this not?" he fiercely cried; "think you not that I
suffer even now the torment you speak of, and envy the beggar in the
street his stupid apathy?" He drew a paper from his bosom and unfolded
it. A terrible gleam shot through his eyes. "I could compel you to be
my wife."

"No," I said, looking him in the face, "neither man nor fiends can
give you that power. God alone can do it, and he will not."

"Do you see this paper?" he asked. "Here are the names of all the
recusants who have been reconciled by the Pope's champion. I have but
to speak the word, and to-morrow they are lodged in the Marshalsea or
the Tower, and the priest first and foremost."

"But you will not do it," I said, with a singular calmness. "No,
Hubert; as God Almighty liveth, you will not. You cannot commit this
crime, this foul murther."

"If it should come to that," he fiercely cried, "if blood should be
shed, on your head it will fall. You can save them if you list."

"Would you compel me by a bloody threat to utter a false vow?" I said.
"O Hubert, Hubert! that you, you should threaten to betray a priest,
to denounce Catholics! There was a day--have you forgot it?--when at
the chapel at Euston, your father at your side, you knelt, an innocent
child, at the altar's rail, and a priest came to you and said,
'_Corpus Domini nostri Jesu Christi custodiat animam tuam ad vitam
aeternam_.' If any one had then told you"--

"Oh, for God's sake speak not of it!" he wildly cried; "that way
madness doth lie."

"No, no," I cried; "not madness, but hope and return."

A change came over his face; he thrust the paper in my hand. "Destroy
it," he cried; "destroy it, Constance!" And then bursting into tears,
"God knoweth I never meant to do it."

"O Hubert, you have been mad, dear brother, more mad than guilty.
Pray, and God will bless you."

"Call me not brother, Constance Would to God I had been _only_ mad!
But it is too late now to think on it."


"Nay, nay," I cried, "it never is too late."

"Pray for me then," he said, and went to the door: but, turning
suddenly, whispered in a scarce audible manner, "Ask Father Campion to
pray for me," and then rushed out.

Kate had now half-fainted, and would have it we were all going to be
killed. I pacified and sent her home, lest she should fright her
parents with her rambling speeches.

Albeit Hubert's last words had seemed to be sincere, I could not but
call to mind how, after he had been apparently cut to the heart and
moved even to tears by Father Campion's preaching, he had soon uttered
threats which, howsoever recalled, left me in doubt if it should be
safe to rely on his silence; so I privately informed Mr. Wells, and he
Master George Gilbert and Father Parsons, of what had passed between
us. At the same time, I have never known whether by Hubert's means, or
in any other way, her majesty's council got wind of the matter, and
gave out that great confederacies were made by the Pope and foreign
princes for the invasion of this country, and that Jesuits and
seminary priests were sent to prepare their ways. Exquisite diligence
was used for the apprehension of all such, but more particularly the
Pope's champion, as Master Campion was called. So in the certainty
that Hubert was privy to the existence of the chapel at Noel House,
and that many Protestants were also acquainted with it, and likewise
with his lodging at Master Elliot's, where not a few resorted to him
in the night, he was constrained by Father Parsons to leave London, to
the no small regret of Catholics and others also which greatly admired
his learning and eloquence, the like of which was not to be found in
any other person at that time. None of those which had attended the
preachments at Noel House were accused, nor the place wherein they had
met disclosed, which inclineth me to think Hubert did not reveal to
her majesty's government his knowledge thereof.

About two months afterward Basil's release and banishment happened. I
would fain have seen him on his way to the coast; but the order for
his departure was so sudden and peremptory, the queen's officers not
losing sight of him until he was embarked on a vessel going to France,
that I was deprived of that happiness. That he was no longer a
prisoner I rejoiced; but it seemed as if a second and more grievous
separation had ensued, now that the sea did divide me from the dear
object of my love.

Lady Arundel, whose affectionate heart resented with the most tender
pity the abrupt interruption of our happiness, had often written to me
during this year to urge my coming to Arundel Castle; "for," said she,
"methinks, my dear Constance, a third turtle-dove might now be added
to the two on the Queen of Scotland's design; and on thy tree, sweet
one, the leaves are, I warrant thee, very green yet, and future joys
shall blossom on its wholesome branches, which are pruned but not
destroyed, injured but not withered." She spoke with no small
contentment of her then residence, that noble castle, her husband's
worthiest possession (as she styled it), and the grandest jewel of his
earldom. For albeit (thus she wrote) "Kenninghall is larger in the
extent it doth cover and embrace, and far more rich in its decorations
and adornments, I hold it not to be comparable in true dignity to this
castle, which, for the strength of its walls, the massive grandeur of
its keep, the vast forests which do encircle it, the river which
bathes its feet, the sea in its vicinity and to be seen from its
tower, the stately trees about it, and the clinging ivy which softens
with abundant verdure the stern, frowning walls, hath not its like in
all England." But a letter I had from this dear lady a few months
after this one contained the most joyful news I could receive, as will
be seen by those who read it:

"My good Constance" (her ladyship wrote), "I would I had you a
prisoner in this fortress, to hold and detain at  my pleasure.
Methinks I will present thee as a recusant, and sue for the privilege
of thy custody. Verily, I should keep good watch over thee. There be
dungeons enough, I warrant you, in the keep, wherein to imprison
runaway friends. Master Bayley doth take great pains to explain to me
the names and old uses of the towers, chapels, and buildings within
and without the castle, which do testify to the zeal and piety of past
generations: the Chapel of St. Martin, in the keep, which was the
oratory of the garrison; the old collegiate buildings of the College
of the Holy Trinity; the b Maison-Dieu, designed by Richard, Earl of
Arundel, and built by his son on the right bank of the river, for the
harboring of twenty aged and poor men, either unmarried or widowers,
which, from infirmity, were unable to provide for their own support;
the Priory of the Friars Preachers, with the rising gardens behind it;
the Chapel of Blessed Mary, over the gate; that of St. James ad
Leprosos, which was attached to the Leper's Hospital; and St.
Lawrence's, which standeth on the hill above the tower; and in the
valley below, the Priory of St. Bartholomew, built by Queen Adeliza
for the monks of St. Austin. Verily the poor were well cared for when
all these monasteries and hospitals did exist; and it doth grieve me
to think that the moneys which were designed by so many pious men of
past ages for the good of religion should now be paid to my lord, and
spent in worldly and profane uses. Howsoever, I have better hopes than
heretofore that he will one day serve God in a Christian manner. And
now, methinks, after much doubting if I should dare for to commit so
weighty a secret unto paper, that I must needs tell thee, as this time
I send my letter by a trusty messenger, what, if I judge rightly, will
prove so great a comfort to thee, my dear Constance, that thine own
griefs shall seem the lighter for it. Thou dost well know how long I
have been well-affected to Catholic religion, increasing therein daily
more and more, but yet not wholly resolved to embrace and profess it.
But by reading a book treating of the danger of schism, soon after my
coming here, I was so efficaciously moved, that I made a firm purpose
to become a member of the Catholic and only true Church of God. I
charged Mr. Bayley to seek out a grave and ancient priest, and to
bring him here privately; for I desired very much that my
reconciliation, and meeting with this priest to that intent, should be
kept as secret as was possible, for the times are more troublesome
than ever, and I would fain have none to know of it until I can
disclose it myself to my lord in a prudent manner. I have, as thou
knoweth, no Catholic women about me, nor any one whom I durst acquaint
with this business; so I was forced to go alone at an unseasonable
hour from mine own lodging in the castle, by certain dark ways and
obscure passages, to the chamber where this priest (whose name, for
greater prudence, I mention not here) was lodged, there to make my
confession--it being thought, both by Mr. Bayley and myself, that
otherwise it could not possibly be done without discovery, or at least
great danger thereof. Oh, mine own dear Constance, when I returned by
the same way I had gone, lightened of a burthen so many years endured,
cheered by the thought of a reconcilement so long desired,
strengthened and raised, leasts ways for a while, above all worldly
fears, darkness appeared light, rough paths smooth; the moon, shining
through the chinks of the secret passage, which I thought had shed
before a ghastly light on the uneven walls, now seemed to yield a mild
and pleasant brightness, like unto that of God's grace in a heart at
peace. And this exceeding contentment and steadfastness of spirit have
not--praise him for it--since left me; albeit I have much cause for
apprehension in more ways than one; for what in these days is so
secret it becometh not known? But whatever now shall befal me--public
dangers or private sorrows--my  feet do rest on a rock, not on
the shifting sands of human thinkings, and I am not afraid of what man
can do unto me. Yea, Philip's displeasure I can now endure, which of
all things in the world I have heretofore most apprehended."

The infinite contentment this letter gave me distracted me somewhat
from the anxious thoughts that filled my mind at the time it reached
me, which was soon after Hubert's visit. A few days afterward Lady
Arundel wrote again:

"My lord has been here, but stayed only a brief time. I found him very
affectionate in his behavior, but his spirits so much depressed that I
feared something had disordered him. Conversation seemed a burthen to
him, and he often shut himself up in his own chamber or walked into
the park with only his dog. When I spoke to him he would smile with
much kindness, uttering such words as 'sweet wife,' or 'dearest Nan,'
and then fall to musing again, as if his mind had been too oppressed
with thinking to allow of speech. The day before he left I was sorting
flowers at one end of the gallery in a place which the wall projecting
doth partly conceal. I saw him come from the hall up the stairs into
it, and walk to and fro in an agitated manner, his countenance very
much troubled, and his gestures like unto those of a person in great
perplexity of mind. I did not dare so much as to stir from where I
stood, but watched him for a long space of time with incredible
anxiety. Sometimes he stopped and raised his hand to his forehead.
Another while he went to the window and looked intently, now at the
tower and the valley beyond it, now up to the sky, on which the last
rays of the setting sun were throwing a deep red hue, as if the world
had been on fire. Then turning back, he joined his hands together and
anon sundered them again, pacing up and down the while more rapidly
than before, as if an inward conflict urged this unwitting speed. At
last I saw him stand still, lift up his hands and eyes to heaven, and
move his lips as if in prayer. What passed in his mind then, God only
knowcth. He is the most reluctant person in the world to disclose his
thoughts.

"When an hour afterward we met in the library his spirits seemed
somewhat improved. He spoke of his dear sister Meg with much
affection, and asked me if I had heard from Bess. Lord William, he
said, was the best brother a man ever had; and that it should like him
well to spend his life in any corner of the world God should appoint
for him, so that he had to keep him company Will and Meg and his dear
Nan, 'which I have so long ill-treated,' he added, 'that as long as I
live I shall not cease to repent of it; and God he knoweth I deserve
not so good a wife;' with many other like speeches which I wish he
would not use, for it grieveth me he should disquiet himself for what
is past, when his present kindness doth so amply recompense former
neglect. Mine own Constance, I pray you keep your courage alive in
your afflictions. There be no lane so long but it hath a turning, the
proverb saith. My sorrows seemed at one time without an issue. Now
light breaketh through the yet darksome clouds which do environ us. So
will it be with thee. Burn this letter, seeing it doth contain what
may endanger the lives of more persons than one.--Thy loving, faithful
friend,
   "ANN, ARUNDEL AND SURREY."

A more agitated letter followed this one, written at different times,
and detained for some days for lack of a safe messenger to convey it.

"What I much fear," so it began, "is the displeasure of my lord when
he comes to know of my reconcilement, for it cannot, I think, be long
concealed from him. This my fear, dear Constance, hath been much
increased by the coming down from London of one of his chaplains, who
affirms he was sent on purpose by the earl to read prayers and to
preach to me and my family; and on last  Sunday he came into the
great chamber of the castle, expecting and desiring to know my
pleasure therein. I thought best for to send for him to my chamber,
and I desired him not to trouble himself nor me in that matter, for I
would satisfy the earl therein. But oh, albeit I spoke very
composedly, my apprehensions are very great. For see, my dear friend,
Philip hath been but lately reconciled to me, and his fortunes are in
a very desperate condition, so that he may think I have given the last
blow to them by this act, which his enemies will surely brave at.
Think not I do repent of it. God knoweth I should as soon repent of my
baptism as of my return to his true Church; but though the spirit is
steadfast, the flesh is weak, and the heart also. What will he say to
me when he cometh? He did once repulse me, but hath never upbraided
me. How shall I bear new frowns after recent caresses?--peradventure
an eternal parting after a late reunion? O Constance, pray for me. But
I remember I have no means for to send this letter. But God be
praised, I have now friends in heaven which I may adjure to pray for
me who have at hand no earthly ones."

Four or live days later, her ladyship thus finished her letter:

"God is very merciful; oh, let his holy name be praised and magnified
for ever! Now the weight of a mountain is off my heart. Now I care not
for what man may do unto me. Phil has been here, and I promise thee,
dear Constance, when his horse stopped at the castle-door, my heart
almost stopped its beating, so great was my apprehension of his anger.
But, to my great joy and admiration, he kissed me very tenderly, and
did not speak the least word of the chaplain's errand. And when we did
walk out in the evening, and, mounting to the top of the keep, stood
there looking on the fine trees and the sun sinking into the sea, my
dear lord, who had been some time silent, turned to me and said, 'Meg
has become Catholic.' Joy and surprise almost robbed me of my breath;
for next to his reconcilement his sister's was what I most desired in
the world, and also I knew what a particular love he had ever shown
for her, as being his only sister, by reason whereof he would not seem
to be displeased with her change, and consequently he could not in
reason be much offended with myself for being what she was; so when he
said, 'Meg has become Catholic,' I leant my face against his shoulder,
and whispered, 'So hath Nan.' He spoke not nor moved for some minutes.
Methinks he could have heard the beatings of my heart. I was comforted
that, albeit he uttered not so much as one word, he made no motion for
to withdraw himself from me, whose head still rested against his
bosom. Suddenly he threw his arms about me, and strained me to his
breast. So tender an embrace I had never before had from him, and I
felt his tears falling on my head. But speech there was none touching
my change. Howsoever, before he left me I said to him 'My dear Phil,
Holy Scripture doth advise those who enter into the service of
Almighty God to prepare themselves for temptation. As soon as I
resolved to become Catholic, I did deeply imprint this in my mind; for
the times are such that I must expect to suffer for that cause.' 'Yea,
dearest Nan,' he answered, with great kindness, 'I doubt not thou hast
taken the course which will save thy soul from the danger of
shipwreck, although it doth subject thy body to the peril of
misfortune.' Then waxing bolder, I said, 'And thou, Phil--' and there
stopped short, looking what I would speak. He seemed to struggle for a
while with some inward difficulty of speaking his mind, but at last he
began, 'Nan, I will not become Catholic before I can resolve to live
as a Catholic, and I defer the former until I have an intent and
resolute purpose to perform the latter. O Nan, when I  think of
my vile usage of thee, whom I should have so much loved and esteemed
for thy virtue and discretion; of my wholly neglecting, in a manner,
my duty to the earl my grandfather, and my aunt Lady Lumley; of my
wasting, by profuse expenses, of great sums of money in the following
of the courts, the estate which was left me, and a good quantity of
thine own lands also; but far more than all, my total forgetting of my
duty to Almighty God--for, carried away with company, youthful
entertainments, pleasures, and delights, my mind being wholly
possessed with them, I did scarce so much as think of God, or of
anything concerning religion or the salvation of my soul--I do feel
myself unworthy of pardon, and utterly to be contemned.'

"So much goodness, humility, and virtuous intent was apparent in this
speech, and such comfortable hopes of future excellence, that I could
not forbear from exclaiming, 'My dear Phil, I ween thou wilt be one of
those who shall love God much, forasmuch as he will have forgiven thee
much.' And then I asked him how long it was since this change in his
thinking, albeit not yet acted upon, had come to him? He said, it so
happened that he was present, the year before, at a disputation held
in the Tower of London, between Mr. Sherwin and some other priests on
the one part, Charles Fulk, Whittakers, and some other Protestant
ministers on the other; and, by what he heard and saw there, he had
perceived, he thought, on which side the truth and true religion was,
though at the time he neither did intend to embrace or follow it. But,
he added, what had moved him of late most powerfully thereunto was a
sermon of Father Campion's, which he had heard at Noel House, whither
Charles Arundel had carried him, some days before his last visit to
me. 'The whole of those days,' he said, 'my mind was so oppressed with
remorse and doubt, that I knew no peace, until one evening, by a
special grace of God, when I was walking alone in the gallery, I
firmly resolved--albeit I knew not how or when to accomplish this
purpose--to become a member of his Church, and to frame my life
according to it; but I would not acquaint thee, or any other person
living, with this intention, until I had conferred thereof with my
brother William. Thou knowest, Nan, the very special love I bear him,
and which he hath ever shown to me. Well, a few days after I returned
to London, I met him accidentally in the street, he having come from
Cumberland touching some matter of Bess's lands; and taking him home
with me, I discovered to him my determination, somewhat covertly at
first; and after I lent him a book to read, which was written not long
ago by Dr. Allen, and have dealt with him so efficaciously that he has
also resolved to become Catholic. He is to meet me again next week,
for further conference touching the means of putting this intent into
execution, which verily I see not how to effect, being so watched by
servants and so-called friends, which besiege my doors and haunt mine
house in London on all occasions.'

"This difficulty, dear Constance, I sought to remedy by acquainting my
lord that his secretary, Mr. Mumford, was Catholic, and he could,
therefore, disclose his thought with safety to him. And I also advised
him to seek occasion to know Mr. Wells and some other zealous persons,
which would confirm him in his present resolution and aid him in the
execution thereof. It may be, therefore, you will soon see him, and
fervently do I commend him to thy prayers and whatever service in the
one thing needful should be in thy power to procure for him. My heart
is so transported with joy that I never remember the like emotions to
have filled it. My most hope for this present time at least had been
he should show no dislike to my being Catholic; and lo, I find him to
be one in heart, and soon to be so in effect;  and the great gap
between us, which so long hath been a yawing chasm of despair, now
filled up with a renewed love, and yet more by a parity of thinking
touching what it most behoveth us to be united in. _Deo gratias!_"

Here this portion of my lady's manuscript ended, but these few hasty
lines were written below, visibly by a trembling hand, and the whole
closed, I ween, abruptly. Methinks it was left for me at Mr. Wells's,
where I found it, by Mr. Mumford, or some other Catholic in the earl's
household:

"The inhabitants of Arundel have presented me for a recusant, and Mr.
Bayley has been committed and accused before the Bishop of Chichester
as a seminary priest. He hath, of course, easily cleared himself of
this; but because he will not take the oath of supremacy, he is forced
to quit the country. He hath passed into Flanders."

And then for many weeks I had no tidings of the dear writer, until one
day it was told us that when the queen had notice of her reconcilement
she disliked of it to such a degree that presently she ordered her,
being then with child, to be taken from her own house and carried to
Wiston, Sir Thomas Shirley's dwelling-place, there to be kept prisoner
till further orders. Alas! all the time she remained there I received
not so much as one line from her ladyship, nor did her husband either,
as I afterward found. So straitly was she confined and watched that
none could serve or have access to her but the knight and his lady,
and such as were approved by them. Truly, as she since told me, they
courteously used her; but special care was taken that none that was
suspected for a priest should come within sight of the house, which
was no small addition to her sufferings. Lady Margaret Sackville was
at that time also thrown into prison.


CHAPTER XXIV.

During the whole year of Lady Arundel's imprisonment, neither her
husband, nor her sister, nor her most close friends, such as my poor
unworthy self, had tidings from her, in the shape of any letter or
even message, so sharply was she watched and hindered from
communicating with any one. Only Sir Thomas Shirley wrote to the earl
her husband to inform him of his lady's safe delivery, and the birth
of a daughter, which, much against her will, was baptized according to
the Protestant manner. My Lord Arundel, mindful of her words in the
last interview he had with her before her arrest, began to haunt Mr.
Wells's house in a private way, and there I did often meet with him,
who being resolved, I ween, to follow his lady's example in all
things, began to honor me with so much of his confidence that I had
occasion to discern how true had been Sir Henry Jerningham's
forecasting, that this young nobleman, when once turned to the ways of
virtue and piety, should prove himself by so much the more eminent in
goodness as he had heretofore been distinguished for his reckless
conduct. One day that he came to Holborn, none others being present
but Mr. and Mrs. Wells and myself, he told us that he and his brother
Lord William, having determined to become Catholics, and apprehending
great danger in declaring themselves as such within the kingdom, had
resolved secretly to leave the land, to pass into Flanders, and there
to remain till more quiet times.

"What steps," Mr. Wells asked, "hath your lordship disposed for to
effect this departure?"

"In all my present doings," quoth the earl, "the mind of my dear wife
doth seem to guide me. The last time I was with her she informed me
that my secretary, John Mumford, is a Catholic, and I have since
greatly benefited by this knowledge. He is gone to Hull, in Yorkshire,
for to take  order for our passage to Flanders, and I do wait
tidings from him before I leave London."

Then, turning to me, he inquired in a very earnest manner if my
thinking agreed with his, that his sweet lady should be contented he
should forsake the realm, for the sake of the religious interests
which moved him thereunto, joined with the hope that when he should be
abroad and his lands confiscated, which he doubted not would follow,
she would be presently set at liberty, and with her little wench join
him in Flanders. I assented thereunto, and made a promise to him that
as soon as her ladyship should be released I would hasten to her, and
feast her ears with the many assurances of tender affection he had
uttered in her regard, and aid her departure; which did also Mr.
Wells. Then, drawing me aside, he spoke for some time, with tears in
his eyes, of his own good wife, as he called her.

"Mistress Sherwood," he said, "I do trust in God that she shall find
me henceforward as good a husband, to my poor ability, by his grace,
as she has found me bad heretofore. No sin grieves me anything so much
as my offences against her. What is past is a nail in my conscience.
My will is to make satisfaction; but though I should live never so
long, I can never do so further than by a good desire to do it, which,
while I have any spark of breath, shall never be wanting."

And many words like these, which he uttered in so heartfelt a manner
that I could scarce refrain from weeping at the hearing of them. And
so we parted that day; he with a confident hope soon to leave the
realm; I with some misgivings thereon, which were soon justified by
the event. For a few days afterward Mr. Lacy brought us tidings he had
met Mr. Mumford in the street, who had told him--when he expressed
surprise at his return--that before he could reach Hull he had been
apprehended and carried before the Earl of Huntingdon, president of
York, and examined by him, without any evil result at that time,
having no papers or auspicious things about him; but being now
watched, he ventured not to proceed to the coast, but straightway came
to London, greatly fearing Lord Arundel should have left it.

"He hath not done so?" I anxiously inquired.

"Nay," answered Mr. Lacy, "so far from it, that I pray you to guess
how the noble earl--much against his will, I ween--is presently
employed."

"He is not in prison?" I cried.

"God defend it!" he replied. "No; he is preparing for to receive the
queen at Arundel House; upon notice given him that her majesty doth
intend on Thursday next to come hither for her recreation."

"Alack!" I cried, "her visits to such as be of his way of thinking
bode no good to them. She visited him and his wife at the Charterhouse
at the time when his father was doomed to death, and now when she is a
prisoner her highness doth come to Arundel House. When she set her
foot in Euston, the whole fabric of my happiness fell to the ground.
Heaven shield the like doth not happen in this instance; but I do
greatly apprehend the issue of this sudden honor conferred on him."

On the day fixed for the great and sumptuous banquet which was
prepared for the queen at Arundel House, I went thither, having been
invited by Mrs. Fawcett to spend the day with her on this occasion,
which minded me of the time when I went with my cousins and mine own
good Mistress Ward for to see her majesty's entertainment at the
Charterhouse, wherein had been sowed the seeds of a bitter harvest,
since reaped by his sweet lady and himself. Then pageants had charms
in mine eyes; now, none--but rather the contrary. Howsoever, I was
glad to be near at hand on that day, so as to hear such reports as
reached us from time to time of her majesty's behavior to the earl.
From all I could find, she seemed very well  contented; and Mr.
Mumford, with whom I was acquainted, came to Mrs. Fawcett's chamber,
hearing I was there, and reported that her highness had given his
lordship many thanks for her entertainment, and showed herself
exceeding merry all the time she was at table, asking him many
questions, and relating anecdotes which she had learnt from Sir Fulke
Greville, whom the maids-of-honor were wont to say brought her all the
tales she heard; at which Mrs. Fawcett said that gentleman had once
declared that he was like Robin Goodfellow; for that when the
dairy-maids upset the milk-pans, or made a romping and racket, they
laid it all on Robin, and so, whatever gossip-tales the queen's ladies
told her, they laid it all upon him, if he was ever so innocent of it.

"Sir," I said to Mr. Mumford, "think you her majesty hath said aught
to my lord touching his lady or his lately-born little daughter?"

"Once," he answered, "when she told of the noble trick she hath played
Sir John Spencer touching his grandson, whom he would not see because
his daughter did decamp from his house in a baker's basket for to
marry Sir Henry Compton, and her majesty invited him to be her gossip
at the christening of a fair boy to whom she did intend to stand
godmother, for that he was the first-born child of a young couple who
had married for love and lived happily; and so the old knight said, as
he had no heir, he should adopt this boy, for he had disinherited his
daughter. So then, at the font, the queen names him Spencer, and when
she leaves the church, straightway reveals to Sir John that his godson
is his grandson, and deals so cunningly with him that a reconciliation
doth ensue. Well, when she related this event, my lord said in a low
voice, 'Oh madame, would it might please your majesty for to place
another child, now at its mother's breast, a first-born one also, in
its father's arms! and as by your gracious dealing your highness
wrought a reconciliation between a father and a daughter, so likewise
now to reunite a parted husband from a wife which hath too long
languished under your royal displeasure.'"

"What answered her grace?" I asked.

"A few words, the sense of which I could not catch," Mr. Mumford
answered; "being placed so as to hear my lord's speaking more
conveniently than her replies. He said again, 'The displeasure of a
prince is a heavy burden to bear.' And then, methinks, some other talk
was ministered of a lighter sort. But be of good heart. Mistress
Sherwood; I cannot but think our dear lady shall soon be set at
liberty."

Mr. Mumford's words were justified in a few days; for, to my
unspeakable joy, I heard Lady Arundel had been released by order of
the queen, and had returned to Arundel Castle. It was her lord himself
who brought me the good tidings, and said he should travel thither in
three days, when his absence from court should be less noted, as then
her majesty would be at Richmond. He showed me a letter he had
received from his lady, the first she had been able to write to him
for a whole year. She did therein express her contentment, greater,
she said, than her pen could describe, at the sight of the gray ivied
walls, the noble keep, her own chamber and its familiar furniture, and
mostly at the thought of his soon coming; and that little Bess had so
much sense already, that when she heard his name, nothing would serve
her but to be carried to the window, "whence, methinks," the sweet
lady said, "she doth see me always looking toward the entrance-gate,
through which all my joy will speedily come to me. When, for to cheat
myself and her, I cry, 'Hark to my lord's horse crossing the bridge,'
she coos, so much as to say she is glad also, and stretcheth her arms
out, the pretty fool, as if to welcome her unseen father, who,
methinks,  when he doth come, will be no stranger to her, so
often doth she kiss the picture which hangeth about her mother's
neck."

But, alas! before the queen went to Richmond, she sent a command that
my Lord Arundel should not go anywhither out of his house (so Mr.
Mumford informed me), but remain there a prisoner; and my Lord
Hunsdon, who had been in former times his father's page, and now was
his great enemy, was given commission to examine him about his
religion, and also touching Dr. Allen and the Queen of Scots. Now was
all the joy of Lady Arundel's release at an end. Now the sweet cooings
of her babe moved her to bitter tears. "In vain," she wrote to me
then, "do we now look for him to come! in vain listen for the sound of
his horse's tread, or watch the gateway which shall not open to admit
him! I sigh for to be once more a prisoner, and he, my sweet life, at
liberty. Alas! what kind of a destiny does this prove, if one is free
only when the other is shut up, and the word 'parting' is written on
each page of our lives?"

About a month afterward, Mr. Mumford was sent for by Sir Christopher
Hatton, who asked him divers dangerous questions concerning the earl,
the countess, and Lord William Howard, and also himself--such as, if
he was a priest or no; which indeed I did not wonder at, so staid and
reverend was his appearance. But he answered he never knew or ever
heard any harm of these honorable persons, and that he himself was not
a priest, nor worthy of so great a dignity. He hath since told me that
on the third day of his examination the queen, the Earl of Leicester,
and divers others of the council came into the house for to understand
what he had confessed. Sir Christopher told them what answers he had
made; but they, not resting satisfied therewith, caused him, after
many threats of racking and other tortures, to be sent prisoner to the
Gate-house, where he was kept for some months so close that none might
speak or come to him. But by the steadfastness of his answers he at
last so cleared himself, and declared the innocency of the earl, and
his wife and brother, that they were set at liberty.

Soon after her lord's release, I received this brief letter from Lady
Arundel:

"MINE OWN GOOD CONSTANCE,--I have seen my lord, who came here the day
after he was set free. He very earnestly desires to put into execution
his reconciliation to the Church now that his troubles are a little
overpast. I have bethought myself that, since Father Campion hath left
London, diligence might be used for to procure him a meeting with
Father Edmonds, whom I have heard commended for a very virtuous and
religious priest, much esteemed both in this and other countries.
Prithee, ask Mr. Wells if in his thinking this should be possible, and
let my lord know of the means and opportunities thereunto. I shall
never be so much indebted, nor he either, to any one in this world, my
dear Constance, as to thee and thy good friends, if this interview
shall be brought to pass, and the desired effect ensue.

"My Bess doth begin to walk alone, and hath learned to make the sign
of the cross; but I warrant thee I am sometimes frightened that I did
teach her to bless herself, until such time as she can understand not
to display her piety so openly as she now doeth. For when many lords
and gentlemen were here last week for to consider the course her
majesty's progress should take through Kent and Sussex, and she,
sitting on my knee, was noticed by some of them for her pretty ways,
the clock did strike twelve; upon which, what doth she do but
straightway makes the sign of the cross before I could catch her
little hand? Lord Cobham frowned, and my Lord Burleigh shook his head;
but the Bishop of Chichester stroked  her head, and said, with a
smile, _'Honi soit qui mal y pense;'_ for which I pray God to bless
him. Oh, but what fears we do daily live in! I would sometimes we were
beyond seas. But if my lord is once reconciled, methinks I can endure
all that may befal us. Thy true and loving friend,
  "ANN, ARUNDEL AND SURREY."

I straightway repaired to Mr. Wells, and found him to be privy to
Father Edmonds's abode. At my request, he acquainted Lord Arundel with
this secret, who speedily availed himself thereof, and after a few
visits to this good man's garret, wherein he was concealed, was by him
reconciled, as I soon learnt by a letter from his lady. She wrote in
such perfect contentment and joy thereunto, that nothing could exceed
it. She said her dear lord had received so much comfort in his soul as
he had never felt before in all his life, and such directions from
Father Edmonds for the amending and ordering of it as did greatly help
and further him therein. Ever after that time, from mine own hearing
and observation, his lady's letters, and the report of such as haunted
him, I learnt that he lived in such a manner that he seemed to be
changed into another man, having great care and vigilance over all his
actions, and addicting himself much to piety and devotion. He procured
to have a priest ever with him in his own house, by whom he might
frequently receive the holy sacrament, and daily have the comfort to
be present at the holy sacrifice, whereto, with great humility and
reverence, he himself in person many times would serve. His visits to
his wife were, during the next years, as frequent as he could make
them and as his duties at the court and the queen's emergencies would
allow of; who, albeit she looked not on him with favor as heretofore,
did nevertheless exact an unremitting attendance on his part on all
public occasions, and jealously noted every absence he made from
London. Each interview between this now loving husband and wife was a
brief space of perfect contentment to both, and a respite from the
many cares and troubles which did continually increase upon him; for
the great change in his manner of life had bred suspicion in the minds
of some courtiers and potent men, who therefore began to think him
what he was indeed, but of which no proof could be alleged.

During the year which followed these haps mine aunt died, and Mr.
Congleton sold his house in Ely Place, and took a small one in Gray's
Inn Lane, near to Mr. Wells's and Mr. Lacy's. It had no garden, nor
the many conveniences the other did afford; but neither Muriel nor
myself did lament the change, for the vicinity of these good friends
did supply the place of other advantages; and it also liked me more,
whilst Basil lived in poverty abroad, to inhabit a less sumptuous
abode than heretofore, and dispense with accustomed luxuries. Of
Hubert I could hear but scanty tidings at that time--only that he had
either lost or resigned his place at court? Mr. Hodgson was told by
one who had been his servant that he had been reconciled; others said
he did lead a very disordered life, and haunted bad persons. The truth
or falsity of these statements I could not then discern; but methinks,
from what I have since learnt, both might be partly true; for he
became subject to fits of gloom, and so discomfortable a remorse as
almost unsettled his reason; and then, at other times, plunged into
worldly excesses for to drown thoughts of the past. He was frightened,
I ween, or leastways distrustful of the society of good men, but
consorted with Catholics of somewhat desperate character and fortunes,
and such as dealt in plots and treasonable schemes.

Father Campion's arrest for a very different cause--albeit his enemies
did seek to attach to him the name traitor--occurred this year at
Mrs. Yates's house in Worcestershire, and  consternated the
hearts of all recusants; but when he came to London, and speech was
had of him by many amongst them which gained access to him in prison,
and reported to others his great courage and joyfulness in the midst
of suffering, then, methinks, a contagious spirit spread amongst
Catholics, and conversions followed which changed despondency into
rejoicing. But I will not here set down the manner of his trial, nor
the wonderful marks of patience and constancy which he showed under
torments and rackings, nor his interview with her majesty at my lord
Leicester's house, nor the heroic patience of his death; for others
with better knowledge thereof, and pens more able for to do it, have
written this martyr's life and glorious end. But I will rather relate
such events as took place, as it were, under mine own eye, and which
are not, I ween, so extensively known. And first, I will speak of a
conversation I held at that time with a person then a stranger, and
therefore of no great significancy when it occurred, but which later
did assume a sudden importance, when it became linked with succeeding
events.

One day that I was visiting at Lady Ingoldsby's, where Polly and her
husband had come for to spend a few weeks, and much company was going
in and out, the faces and names of which were new to me, some
gentlemen came there whose dress attracted notice from the French
fashion thereof. One of them was a young man of very comely appearance
and pleasant manners, albeit critical persons might have judged
somewhat of' the bravado belonged to his attitudes and speeches, but
withal tempered with so much gentleness and courtesy, that no sooner
had the eye and mind taken note of the defect than the judgment was
repented of. What in one of less attractive face and behavior should
have displeased, in this youth did not offend. It was my hap to sit
beside him at supper, which lasted a long time; and as his behavior
was very polite, I freely conversed with him, and found him to be
English, though from long residence abroad his tongue had acquired a
foreign trick. When I told him I had thought he was a Frenchman, he
laughed, and said if the French did ever try to land in England, they
should find him to be a very Englishman for to fight against them; but
in the matter of dinners and beds, and the liking of a dear sunny sky
over above a dim cloudy one, he did confess himself to be so much of a
traitor as to prefer France to England, and he could not abide the
smoke of coal fires which are used in this country.

"And what say you, sir," I answered, "to the new form of smoke which
Sir Walter Raleigh hath introduced since his return from the late
discovered land of Virginia?"

He said he had learnt the use of it in France, and must needs confess
he found it to be very pleasant. Monsieur Nicot had brought some seeds
of tobacco into France, and so much liking did her majesty Queen
Catharine conceive for this practice of smoking, that the new plant
went by the name of the queen's herb. "It is not gentlemen alone who
do use a pipe in France," he said, "but ladies also. What doth the
fair sex in England think on it?"

"I have heard," I answered, "that her majesty herself did try for to
smoke, but presently gave it up, for that it made her sick. Her
highness is also reported to have lost a wager concerning that same
smoking of tobacco."

"What did her grace bet?" the gentleman asked.

"Why, she was one day," I replied, "inquiring very exactly of the
various virtues of this herb, and Sir Walter did assure her that no
one understood them better than himself, for he was so well acquainted
with all its qualities, that he could even tell her majesty the weight
of the smoke of every pipeful he consumed. Her highness upon this
said, 'Monsieur  Traveller, you do go too far in putting on me
the license which is allowed to such as return from foreign parts;'
and she laid a wager of many pieces of gold he should not be able to
prove his words. So he weighed in her presence the tobacco before he
put it into his pipe, and the ashes after he had consumed it, and
convinced her majesty that the deficiency did proceed from the
evaporation thereof. So then she paid the bet, and merrily told him
'that she knew of many persons who had turned their gold into smoke,
but he was the first who had turned smoke into gold.'"

The young gentleman being amused at this story, I likewise told him of
Sir Walter's hap when he first returned to England, and was staying in
a friend's house: how a servant coming into his chamber with a tankard
of ale and nutmeg toast, and seeing him for the first time with a
lighted pipe in his mouth puffing forth clouds of smoke, flung the ale
in his face for to extinguish the internal conflagration, and then
running down the stairs alarmed the family with dismal cries that the
good knight was on fire, and would be burnt into ashes before they
could come to his aid.

My unknown companion laughed, and said he had once on his travels been
taken for a sorcerer, so readily doth ignorance imagine wonders. "Near
unto Metz, in France," quoth he, "I fell among thieves. My money I had
quilted within my doublet, which they took from me, howsoever leaving
me the rest of my apparel, wherein I do acknowledge their courtesy,
since thieves give all they take not; but twenty-five French crowns,
for the worst event, I had lapped in cloth, and whereupon did wind
divers-colored threads, wherein I sticked needles, as if I had been so
good a husband as to mend mine own clothes. Messieurs the thieves were
not so frugal to take my ball to mend their hose, but did tread it
under their feet. I picked it up with some spark of joy, and I and my
guide (he very sad, because he despaired of my ability to pay him his
hire) went forward to Chalons, where he brought me to a poor
ale-house, and when I expostulated, he replied that stately inns were
not for men who had never a penny in their purses; but I told him that
I looked for comfort in that case more from gentlemen than clowns;
whereupon he, sighing, obeyed me, and with a dejected and fearful
countenance brought me to the chief inn, where he ceased not to bewail
my misery as if it had been the burning of Troy; till the host,
despairing of my ability to pay him, began to look disdainfully on me.
The next morning, when, he being to return home, I paid him his hire,
which he neither asked nor expected, and likewise mine host for
lodgings and supper, he began to talk like one mad for joy, and
professed I could not have had one penny except I were an alchemist or
had a familiar spirit."

I thanked the young gentleman for this entertaining anecdote, and
asked him if France was not a very disquieted country, and nothing in
it but wars and fighting.

"Yea," he answered; "but men fight there so merrily, that it appears
more a pastime than aught else. Not always so, howsoever. When
Frenchman meets Frenchman in the fair fields of Provence, and those of
the League and those of the Religion--God confound the first and bless
the last!--engage in battle, such encounters ensue as have not their
match for fierceness in the world. By my troth, the sight of dead
bodies doth not ordinarily move me; but the valley of Allemagne on the
day of the great Huguenot victory was a sight the like of which I
would not choose to look on again, an I could help it."

"Were you, then, present at that combat, sir?" I asked.

"Yea," he replied; "I was at that time with Lesdiguières, the
Protestant general, whom I had known at La Rochelle, and beshrew me if
a more valiant soldier doth live, or a worthier  soul in a
stalwart frame. I was standing by his side when Tourves the butcher
came for to urge him, with his three hundred men, to ride over the
field and slay the wounded papists. 'No, sir,' quoth the general, 'I
fight men, but hunt them not down.' The dead were heaped many feet
thick on the plain, and the horses of the Huguenots waded to their
haunches in blood. Those of the Religion were mad at the death of the
Baron of Allemagne, the general of their southern churches, brave
castellane, who, when the fight was done, took off his helmet for to
cool his burning forehead; and lo, a shot sent him straight into
eternity."

"The Catholics were then wholly routed?" I asked.

"Yea," he answered; "mowed down like grass in the hay-harvest. De
Vins, however, escaped. He thought to have had a cheap victory over
those of the Religion; but the saints in heaven, to whom he trusted,
never told him that Lesdiguières on the one side and d'Allemagne on
the other were hastening to the rescue, nor that his Italian horsemen
should fail him in his need. So, albeit the papists fought like
devils, as they are, his pride got a fall, which well-nigh killed him.
He was riding frantically back into the fray for to get himself slain,
when St. Cannat seized his bridle, and called him a coward, so I have
heard, to dare for to die when his scattered troops had need of him;
and so carried him off the field. D'Oraison, Janson, Pontmez, hotly
pursued them, but in vain; and all the Protestant leaders, except
Lesdiguières, returned that night to the castle of Allemagne for to
bury the baron."

A sort of shiver passed through the young gentleman's frame as he
uttered these last words.

"A sad burial you then witnessed?" I said.

"I pray God," he answered, "never to witness another such."

"What was the horror of it?" I asked.

"Would you hear it?" he inquired.

"Yea," I said, "most willingly; for methinks I see what you describe."

Then he: "If it be so, peradventure you may not thank me for this
describing; for I warrant you it was a fearful sight. I had lost mine
horse, and so was forced to spend the night at the castle. When it
grew dark I followed the officers, which, with a great store of the
men, also descended into the vault, which was garnished all round with
white and warlike sculptured forms on tombstones, most grim in their
aspect; and amidst those stone imager, grim and motionless, the
soldiers ranged themselves, still covered with blood and dust, and
leaning on their halberds. In the midst was the uncovered coffin of
the baron, his livid visage exposed to view--menacing even in death.
Torches threw a fitful, red-colored light over the scene. A minister
which accompanied the army stood and preached at the coffin's head,
and when he had ended his sermon, sang in a loud voice, in French
verse, the psalm which doth begin,

  'Du fond de ma pensée,
  Du fond de tous enuuis,
  A tol s'est adressé
  Ma clamear jour et nult.'

When this singing began two soldiers led up to the tomb a man with
bound hands and ghastly pale face, and, when the verse ended, shot him
through the head. The corpse fell upon the ground, and the singing
began anew. Twelve times this did happen, till my head waxed giddy and
I became faint. I was led out of that vault with the horrible singing
pursuing me, as if I should never cease to hear it."

"Oh, 'tis fearful," I exclaimed, "that men can do such deeds, and the
while have God's name on their lips."

"The massacre of St. Bartholomew," he answered, "hath driven those of
the Religion mad against the papists."

"But, sir," I asked, "is it not true that six thousand Catholics in
Languedoc had been murthered in cold blood,  and a store of them
in other places, before that massacre?"

"May I be so," he answered in a careless tone. "The shedding of blood,
except in a battle or lawful duel, I abhor; but verily I do hate
papists with as great a hate as any Huguenot in France, and most of
all those in this country--a set of knavish traitors, which would
dethrone the queen and sell the realm to the Spaniards."

I could not but sigh at these words, for in this young man's
countenance a quality of goodness did appear which made me grieve that
he should utter these unkind words touching Catholics. But I dared not
for to utter my thinking or disprove his accusations, for, being
ignorant of his name, I had a reasonable fear of being ensnared into
some talk which should show me to be a papist, and he should prove to
be a spy. But patience failed me when, after speaking of the clear
light of the gospel which England enjoyed, and to lament that in
Ireland none are found of the natives to have cast off the Roman
religion, he said:

"I ween this doth not proceed from their constancy in religion, but
rather from the lenity of Protestants, which think that the conscience
must not be forced, and seek rather to touch and persuade than to
oblige by fire and sword, like those of the south, who persecute their
own subjects differing from them in religion."

"Sir," I exclaimed, "this is a strange thing indeed, that Protestants
do lay a claim to so great mildness in their dealings with recusants,
and yet such strenuous laws against such are framed that they do live
in fear of their lives, and are daily fined and tormented for their
profession."

"How so?" he said, quickly. "No papist hath been burnt in this
country."

"No, sir," I answered; "but a store of them have been hanged and cut
to pieces whilst yet alive."

"Nay, nay," he cried, "not for their religion, but for their many
treason."

"Sir," I answered, "their religion is made treason by unjust laws, and
then punished with the penalties of treason; and they die for no other
cause than their faith, by the same token that each of those which
have perished on the scaffold had his life offered to him if so he
would torn Protestant."

In the heat of this argument I had forgot prudence; and some unkindly
ears and eyes were attending to my speech, which this young stranger
perceiving, he changed the subject of discourse--I ween with a
charitable intent--and merrily exclaimed, "Now I have this day
transgressed a wise resolve."

"What resolve?" I said, glad also to retreat from dangerous subjects.

'"This," he answered: "that after my return I would sparingly, and not
without entreaty, relate my journeys and observations."

"Then, sir," I replied, "methinks you have contrariwise observed it,
for your observations have been short and pithy, and withal uttered at
mine entreaty."

"Nothing," he said, "I so much fear as to resemble men--and many such
I have myself known--who have scarce seen the lions of the Tower and
the bears of Parish Garden, but they must engross all a table in
talking of their adventures, as if they had passed the Pillars of
Hercules. Nothing could be asked which they could not resolve of their
own knowledge."

"Find you, sir," I said, "much variety in the manners of French people
and those you see in this country?"

He smiled, and answered, "We must not be too nice observers of men and
manners, and too easily praise foreign customs and despise our own
--not so much that we may not offend others, as that we may not be
ourselves offended by others. I will yield you an example. A
Frenchman, being a curious observer of ceremonious compliments, when
he hath saluted one, and began to entertain him with speech, if he
chance to espy another  man, with whom he hath very great
business, yet will he not leave the first man without a solemn excuse.
But an Englishman discoursing with any man--I mean in a house or
chamber of presence, not merely in the street--if he spy another man
with whom he hath occasion to speak, will suddenly, without any
excuse, turn from the first man and go and converse with the other,
and with like negligence will leave and take new men for discourse;
which a Frenchman would take in ill part, as an argument of
disrespect. This fashion, and many other like niceties and curiosities
in use in one country, we must forget when we do pass into another.
For lack of this prudence I have seen men on their return home tied to
these foreign manners themselves, and finding that others observe not
the like toward them, take everything for an injury, as if they were
disrespected, and so are often enraged."

"What think you of the dress our ladies do wear?" I inquired of this
young traveller.

He smiled, and answered:

"I like our young gentlewomen's gowns, and their aprons of fine linen,
and their little hats of beaver; but why have they left wearing the
French sleeves, borne out with hoops of whalebone, and the French hood
of velvet, set with a border of gold buttons and pearls? Methinks
English ladies are too fond of jewels and diamond rings. They scorn
plain gold rings, I find, and chains of gold."

"Yea," I said, "ladies of rank wear only rich chains of pearl, and all
their jewels must needs be oriental and precious. If any one doth
choose to use a simple chain or a plain-set brooch, she is marked for
wearing old-fashioned gear."

"This remindeth me," he said, "of a pleasant fable, that Jupiter sent
a shower, wherein whosoever was wet became a fool, and that all the
people were wet in this shower, excepting one philosopher, who kept
his study; but in the evening coming forth into the market-place, and
finding that all the people marked him as a fool, who was only wise,
he was forced to pray for another shower, that he might become a fool,
and so live quietly among fools rather than bear the envy of his
wisdom."

With this pleasant story our conversation ended, for supper was over,
and the young gentleman soon went away. I asked of many persons who he
should be, but none could tell me. Polly, the next day, said he was a
youth lately returned from France (which was only what I knew before),
and that Sir Nicholas Throckmorton had written a letter to Lady
Ingoldsby concerning him, but his name she had forgot. O what strange
haps, more strange than any in books, do at times form the thread of a
true history! what presentiments in some cases, what ignorance in
others, beset us touching coming events!

The next pages will show the ground of these reflections.


CHAPTER XXV.

One day that Mrs. Wells was somewhat disordered, and keeping her room,
and I was sitting with her, her husband came to fetch me into the
parlor to an old acquaintance, he said, who was very desirous for to
see me. "Who is it?" I asked; but he would not tell me, only smiled;
my foolish thinking supposed for one instant that it might be Basil he
spoke of, but the first glance showed me a slight figure and pale
countenance, very different to his whom my witless hopes had expected
for to see, albeit without the least shadow of reason. I stood looking
at this stranger in a hesitating manner, who perceiving I did not know
him, held out his hand, and said,

"Has Mistress Constance forgotten her old playfellow?"

"Edmund Genings!" I exclaimed, suddenly guessing it to be him.


"Yea," he said, "your old friend Edmund."

"Mr. Ironmonger is this reverend gentleman's name now-a-days," Mr.
Wells said; and then we all three sat down, and by degrees in Edmund's
present face I discerned the one I remembered in former years. The
same kind and reflective aspect, the pallid hue, the upward-raised
eye, now with less of searching in its gaze, but more, I ween, of
yearning for an unearthly home.

"O dear and reverend sir," I said, "strange it doth seem indeed thus
to address you, but God knoweth I thank him for the honor he hath done
my old playmate in the calling of him unto his service in these
perilous times."

"Yea," he answered, with emotion, "I do owe him much, which life
itself should not be sufficient to repay."

"My good father," I said, "some time before his death gave me a token
in a letter that you were in England. Where have you been all this
time?"

"Tell us the manner of your landing," quoth Mr. Wells; "for this is
the great ordeal which, once overpassed, lets you into the vineyard,
for to work for one hour only sometimes, or else to bear many years
the noontide heat and nipping frosts which laborers like unto yourself
have to endure."

"Well," said Edmund, "ten months ago we took shipping at Honfleur,
and, wind and weather being propitious, sailed along the coast of
England, meaning to have landed in Essex; but for our sakes the master
of the bark lingered, when we came in sight of land, until two hours
within night, and being come near unto Scarborough, what should happen
but that a boat with pirates or rovers in it comes out to surprise us,
and shoots at us divers times with muskets! But we came by no harm;
for the wind being then contrary, the master turned his ship and
sailed back into the main sea, where in very foul weather we remained
three days, and verily I thought to have then died of sea-sickness;
which ailment should teach a man humility, if anything in this world
can do it, stripping him as it does of all boastfulness of his own
courage and strength, so that he would cry mercy if any should offer
only to move him."

"Ah!" cried Mr. Wells, laughing, "Topcliffe should bethink himself of
this new torment for papists, for to leave a man in this plight until
he acknowledged the queen's supremacy should be an artful device of
the devil."

"At last," quoth Mr. Genings, "we landed, with great peril to our
lives, on the side of a high cliff near Whitby, in Yorkshire, and
reached that town in the evening. Going into an inn to refresh
ourselves, which I promise you we sorely needed, who should we meet
with there but one Radcliff?"

"Ah! a noted pursuivant," cried Mr. Wells, "albeit not so topping a
one as his chief."

"Ah!" I cried, "good Mr. Wells, that is but a poor pun, I promise you.
A better one you must frame before night, or you will lose your
reputation. The queen's last effort hath more merit in it than yours,
who, when she was angry with her envoy to Spain, said, 'If her royal
brother had sent her a goose-man,  [Footnote 4] she had sent him in
return a man-goose.'"

  [Footnote 4: Guzman.]

Mr. Genings smiled, and said:

"Well, this same Radcliff took an exact survey of us all, questioned
us about our arrival in that place, whence we came, and whither we
were going. We told him we were driven thither by the tempest, and at
last, by evasive answers, satisfied him. Then we all went to the house
of a Catholic gentleman in the neighborhood, which was within two or
three miles of Whitby, and by him were directed some to one place,
some to another, according to our own desires. Mr. Plasden and I kept
together; but, for fear of suspicion, we determined at last to
separate also, and singly to commit ourselves to the protection of God
and his good angels. Soon after we had thus  resolved, we came to
two fair beaten was, the one leading north-east, the other south-east,
and even then and there, it being in the night, we stopped and both
fell down on our knees and made a short prayer together that God of
his infinite mercy would vouchsafe to direct us, and send us both a
peaceable passage into the thickest of his vineyard."

Here Mr. Genings paused, a little moved by the remembrance of that
parting, but in a few minutes exclaimed:

"I have not seen that dear friend since, rising from our knees, we
embraced each other with tears trickling down our cheeks; but the
words he said to me then I shall never, methinks, forget. 'Seeing,'
quoth, he, 'we must now part through fear of our enemies, and for
greater security, farewell, sweet brother in Christ and most loving
companion. God grant that, as we have been friends in one college and
companions in one wearisome and dangerous journey, so we may have one
merry meeting once again in this world, to our great comfort, if it
shall please him, even amongst our greatest adversaries; and that as
we undertake, for his love and holy name's sake, this course of life
together, so he will of his infinite goodness and clemency make us
partakers of one hope, one sentence, one death, and one reward. And
also as we began, so may we end together in Christ Jesus.' So he; and
then not being able to speak one word more for grief and tears, we
departed in mutual silence; he directing his journey to London, where
he was born, and I northward."

"Then you have not been into Staffordshire?" I said.

"Yea," he answered, "later I went to Lichfield, in order to try if I
should peradventure find there any of mine old friends and kinsfolks."

"And did you succeed therein?" I inquired.

"The only friends I found," he answered, with a melancholy smile,
"were the gray cloisters, the old cathedral walls, the trees of the
close; the only familiar voices which did greet me were the chimes of
the tower, the cawing of the rooks over mine head as I sat in the
shade of the tall elms near unto the wall where our garden once
stood."

"Oh, doth that house and that garden no more exist?" I cried.

"No, it hath been pulled down, and the lawn thereof thrown into the
close."

"Then," I said, "the poor bees and butterflies must needs fare badly.
The bold rooks, I ween, are too exalted to suffer from these changes.
Of Sherwood Hall did you hear aught, Mr. Genings?"

"Mr. Ironmonger," Mr. Wells said, correcting me.

"Alas!" Edmund replied, "I  dared not so much as to approach unto it,
albeit I passed along the high road not very far from the gate
thereof. But the present inhabitants are famed for their hatred unto
recusants, and like to deal rigorously with any which should come in
their way."

I sighed, and then asked him how long he had been in London.

"About one month," he replied. "As I have told you. Mistress
Constance, all my kinsfolk that I wot of are now dead, except my young
brother John, whom I doubt not you yet do bear in mind--that fair,
winsome, mischievous urchin, who was carried to La Rochelle about one
year before your sweet mother died."

"Yea," I said, "I can see him yet gallopping on a stick round the
parlor at Lichfield."

"'Tis to look for him," Edmund said, "I am come to London. Albeit I
fear much inquiry on my part touching this youth should breed
suspicion, I cannot refrain, brotherly love soliciting me thereunto,
from seeking him whom report saith careth but little for his soul, and
who hath no other relative in the world than myself. I have warrant
for to suppose he should be in London; but these four weeks,
with useless diligence, I have made search for him, leaving no place
unsought where I could suspect him to abide; and as I see no hopes of
success, I am resolved to leave the city for a season."

Then Mr. Wells proposed to carry Edmund to Kate's house, where some
friends were awaiting him; and for some days I saw him not again. But
on the next Sunday evening he came to our house, and I noticed a
paleness in him I had not before perceived. I asked him if anything
had disordered him.

"Nothing," he answered; "only methinks my old shaking malady doth
again threaten me; for this morning, walking forth of mine inn to
visit a friend on the other side of the city, and passing by St.
Paul's church, when I was on the east side thereof, I felt suddenly a
strange sensation in my body, so much that my face glowed, and it
seemed to me as if mine hair stood on end; all my joints trembled, and
my whole body was bathed in a cold sweat. I feared some evil was
threatening me, or danger of being taken up, and I looked back to see
if I could perceive any one to be pursuing me; but I saw nobody near,
only a youth in a brown-colored cloak; and so, concluding that some
affection of my head or liver had seized me, I thought no more on it,
but went forward to my intended place to say mass."

A strange thinking came into mine head at that moment, and I doubted
if I should impart to him my sudden fancy.

"Mr. Edmund," I said, unable to refrain myself, "suppose that youth in
the brown cloak should have been your brother!"

He started, but shaking of his head said:

"Nay, nay, why should it have been him rather than a thousand others I
do see every day?"

"Might not that strange effect in yourself betoken the presence of a
kinsman?"

"Tut, tut, Mistress Constance," he cried, half kindly, half
reprovingly; "this should be a wild fancy lacking ground in reason."

Thus checked, I held my peace, but could not wholly discard this
thought. Not long after--on the very morning before Mr. Genings
proposed to depart out of town--I chanced to be walking homeward with
him and some others from a house whither we had gone to hear his mass.
As we were returning along Ludgate Hill, what should he feel but the
same sensations he had done before, and which were indeed visible in
him, for his limbs trembled and his face turned as white as ashes!

"You are sick," I said, for I was walking alongside of him.

"Only affected as that other day," he answered, leaning against a post
for to recover himself.

I had hastily looked back, and, lo and behold I a youth in a brown
cloak was walking some paces behind us. I whispered in Mr. Genings's
ear:

"Look, Edmund; is this the youth you saw before?"

"O my good Lord!" he cried, turning yet more pale, "this is strange
indeed! After all, it may be my brother. Go on," he said quickly; "I
must get speech with him alone to discover if it should be so."

We all walked on, and he tarried behind. Looking back, I saw him
accost the stranger in the brown cloak. And in the afternoon he came
to tell us that this was verily John Genings, as I had with so little
show of reason guessed.

"What passed between you?" I asked.

He said:

"I courteously saluted the young man, and inquired what countryman he
was; and hearing that he was a Staffordshireman, I began to conceive
hopes it should be my brother; so I civilly demanded his name.
Methought I should have betrayed myself at once when he answered
Genings; but as quietly as I could, I told him I was  his
kinsman, and was called Ironmonger, and asked him what had become of
his brother Edmund. He then, not suspecting aught, told me he had
heard that he was gone to Rome to the Pope, and was become a notable
papist and a traitor both to God and his country, and that if he did
return he should infallibly be hanged. I smiled, and told him I knew
his brother, and that he was an honest man, and loved both the queen
and his country, and God above all. 'But tell me,' I added, 'good
cousin John, should you not know him if you saw him?' He then looked
hard at me, and led the way into a tavern not far off, and when we
were seated at a table, with no one nigh enough to overhear us, he
said: 'I greatly fear I have a brother that is a priest, and that you
are the man,' and then began to swear that if it was so, I should
discredit myself and all my friends, and protested that in this he
would never follow me; albeit in other matters he might respect me. I
promise you that whilst these harsh words passed his lips I longed to
throw my arms round his neck. I saw my mother's face in his, and his
once childish loveliness only changed into manly beauty. His young
years and mine rose before me, and I could have wept over this
new-found brother as Joseph over his dear Benjamin. I could no longer
conceal myself, but told him truly I was his brother indeed, and for
his love had taken great pains to seek him, and begged of him to keep
secret the knowledge of my arrival; to which he answered: 'He would
not for the world disclose my return, but that he desired me to come
no more unto him, for that he feared greatly the danger of the law,
and to incur the penalty of the statute for concealing of it.' I saw
this was no place or time convenient to talk of religion; but we had
much conversation about divers things, by which I perceived him to be
far from any good affection toward Catholic religion, and persistent
in Protestantism, without any hope of a present recovery. Therefore I
declared unto him my intended departure out of town, and took my
leave, assuring him that within a month or little more I should return
and see him again, and confer with him more at large touching some
necessary affairs which concerned him very much. I inquired of him
where a letter should find him. He showed some reluctance for to give
me any address, but at last said if one was left for him at Lady
Ingoldsby's, in Queen street, Holborn, he should be like to get it."

After Mr. Genings had left, I considered of this direction his brother
had given him, which showed him to be acquainted with Polly's
mother-in-law, and then remembering the young gentleman I had met at
her house, I suspected him to be no other than John Genings. And
called back to mind all his speeches for to compare them with this
suspicion, wherein they did all tally; and some days afterward, when I
was walking on the Mall with Sir Ralph and Polly, who should accost
them but this youth, which they presently introduced to me, and Polly
added, she believed we had played at hide-and-seek together when we
were young. He looked somewhat surprised, and as if casting about for
to call to mind old recollections; then spoke of our meeting at Lady
Ingoldsby's; and she cried out,

"Oh, then, you do know one another?"

"By sight," I said, "not by name."

Some other company joining us, he came alongside of me, and began for
to pay me compliments in the French manner.

"Mr. John Genings," I said, "do you remember Lichfield and the close,
and a little; girl, Constance Sherwood, who used to play with you,
before you went to La Rochelle?"

"Like in a dream," he answered, his comely face lighting up with a
smile.

"But your brother," I said, "was my chiefest companion then; for at
that age we do always aspire to the notice of such as be older than
 condescend to such as be younger than ourselves."

When I named his brother a cloud darkened his face, and he abruptly
turned away. He talked to Polly and some other ladies in a gay,
jesting manner, but I could see that ever and anon he glanced toward
me, as if to scan my features, and, I ween, compare them with what
memory depicted; but he kept aloof from me, as if fearing I should
speak again of one he would fain forget.

On the 7th of November, Edmund returned to London, and came in the
evening to Kate's house. He had been laboring in the country,
exhorting, instructing, and exercising his priestly functions amongst
Catholics with all diligence. It so happened that his friend, Mr.
Plasden, a very virtuous priest, which had landed with him at Whitby,
and parted with him soon afterward, was there also; and several other
persons likewise which did usually meet at Mr. Wells's house; but,
owing to that gentleman's absence, who had gone into the country for
some business, and his wife's indisposition, had agreed for to spend
the evening at Mr. Lacy's. Before the company there assembled parted,
the two priests treated with him where they should say mass the
following day, which was the Octave of All Saints. They agreed to say
their matins together, and, by Bryan's advice, to celebrate it at the
house of Mr. Wells, notwithstanding his absence; for that Mistress
Wells, who could not conveniently go abroad, would be exceeding glad
for to hear mass in her own lodging. I told Edmund of my meeting with
his brother on the Mall, and the long talk ministered between us some
weeks ago, when neither did know the other's name. Methought in his
countenance and conversation that night there appeared an unwonted
consolation, a sober joy, which filled me almost with awe. When he
wished me good-night, he added,  "I pray you, my dear child, to lift
up your soul to heaven ere yon sleep and when you wake, and recommend
to heaven our good purpose, and then come and attend at the holy
sacrifice with the crowd of angels and saints which do always assist
thereat." When the light faintly dawned in the dull sky, Muriel and I
stole from our beds, quietly dressed ourselves, and slipping out
unseen, repaired as fast as we could, for the ground was wet and
slippery, to Mr. Wells's house. We found assembled in one room Mr.
Genings, Mr. Plasden, another priest, Mr. White, Mr. Lacy, Mistress
Wells, Sydney Hodgson, Mr. Mason, and many others. Edmund Genings
proceeded to say mass. There was so great a stillness in the room a
pin should have been heard to drop. Albeit he said the prayers in a
very low voice, each word was audible. Mine ears, which are very quick
were stretched to the utmost. Each sound in the street caused me an
inward flutter. Methought, when he was reading the gospel I discerned
a sound as of the hall-door opening, and of steps. Then nothing more
for a little while; but just at the moment of the consecration there
was a loud rush up the stairs, and the door of the chamber burst open.
The gentlemen present rose from their knees. Mistress Wells and I
contrariwise sunk on the ground. I dared not for to look, or move, or
breathe, but kept inwardly calling on God, then present, for to save
us. I heard the words behind me: "Topcliffe! keep him back!" "Hurl him
down the stairs!" and then a sound of scuffling, falling, and rolling,
followed by a moment's silence.

The while the mass went forward, ever and anon noises rose without;
but the gentlemen held the door shut by main force all the time. They
kept the foe at bay, these brave men, each word uttered at the altar
resounding, I ween, in their breasts. O my God, what a store of
suffering was heaped into a brief space of time! What a viaticum was
that communion then received by thy doomed priest!  "_Domine, non
sum dignus_," he thrice said, and then his Lord rested in his soul.
"_Deo gratias_" None could now profane the sacred mysteries; none
could snatch his Lord from him. "_Ite missa est_." The mass was said,
the hour come, death at hand. All resistance then ceased. I saw
Topcliffe hastening in with a broken head, and threatening to raise
the whole street. Mr. Plasden told him that, now the mass was ended,
we would all yield ourselves prisoners, which we did; upon which he
took Mr. Genings as he was, in his vestments, and all of us, men and
women, in coaches he called for, to Newgate. Muriel and I kept close
together, and, with Mistress Wells, were thrust into one cell.
Methinks we should all have borne with courage this misfortune but for
the thinking of those without--Muriel of her aged and infirm father;
Mistress Wells of her husband's return that day to his sacked house,
robbed of all its church furniture, books, and her the partner of his
whole life. And I thought of Basil, and what he should feel if he knew
of me in this fearful Newgate, near to so many thieves and wicked
persons; and a trembling came over me lest I should be parted from my
companions. I had much to do to recall the courageous spirit I had
heretofore nurtured in foreseeing such a hap as this. If I had had to
die at once, I think I should have been more brave; but terrible
forebodings of examinations--perchance tortures, long solitary hours
in a loathsome place--caused me inward shudderings; and albeit I said
with my lips over and over again, "Thy will be done, my God," I
passionately prayed this chalice might pass from me which often before
in my presumption--I cry mercy for it--I had almost desired to drink.
Oh, often have I thought since of what is said in David's Psalms, "It
is good for me that thou hast humbled me." From my young years a hot
glowing feeling had inflamed my breast at the mention of suffering for
conscience sake, and the words "to die" had been very familiar ones
to my lips; "rather to die," "gladly to die," "proudly to die;" alas,
how often had I uttered them! O my God, when the foul smells, the
faint light of that dreadful place, struck on my senses, I waxed very
weak. The coarse looks of the jailers, the disgusting food set before
us, the filthy pallets, awoke in me a loathing I could not repress.
And then a fear also, which the sense of my former presumption did
awaken. "Let he that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall,"
kept running in mine head. I had said, like St. Peter, that I was
ready for to go to prison and to death; and now, peradventure, I
should betray my Lord if too great pain overtook me. Muriel saw me
wringing mine hands; and, sitting down by my side on the rude
mattress, she tried for to comfort me. Then, in that hour of bitter
anguish, I learnt that creature's full worth. Who should have thought,
who did not then hear her, what stores of superhuman strength, of
heavenly knowledge, of divine comfort, should have flowed from her
lips? Then I perceived the value of a wholly detached heart,
surrendered to God alone. Young as she was, her soul was as calm in
this trial as that of the aged resigned woman which shared it with us.
Mine was tempest-tossed for a while. I could but lie mine head on
Muriel's knee and murmur, "Basil, O Basil!" or else, "If, after all, I
should prove an apostate, which hath so despised others for it!"

"'Tis good to fear," she whispered, "but withal to trust. Is it not
written, mine own Constance, 'My strength is sufficient for thee?' and
who saith this but the Author of all strength--he on whom the whole
world doth rest? He permitteth this fear in thee for humility's sake,
which lesson thou hast need to learn. When that of courage is needed,
be not affrighted; he will give it thee. He bestoweth not graces
before they be needed."


Then she minded me of little St. Agnes, and related passages of her
life; but mostly spoke of the cross and the passion of Christ, in such
piercing and moving tones, as if visibly beholding the scene on
Calvary, that the storm seemed to subside in my breast as she went on.

"Pray," she gently said, "that, if it be God's will, the extremity of
human suffering should fall on thee, so that thy love for him should
increase. Pray that no human joy may visit thee again, so that heaven
may open its gates to thee and thy loved ones. Pray for Hubert, for
the queen, for Topcliffe, for every human soul which thou hast ever
been tempted to hate; and I promise thee that a great peace shall
steal over thy soul, and a great strength shall lift thee up."

I did what she desired, and her words were prophetic. Peace came
before long, and joy too, of a strange unearthly sort. A brief
foretaste of heaven was showed forth in the consolations then poured
into mine heart. When since I have desired for to rekindle fervor and
awaken devotion, I recall the hours which followed that great anguish
in the cell at Newgate.

Late in the evening an order came for to release Muriel and me, but
not Mrs. Wells. When this dear friend understood what had occurred,
she raised her hands in fervent gratitude to God, and dismissed us
with many blessings.

The events which, followed I will briefly relate. When we reached home
Mr. Congleton was very sick; and then began the illness which ended
his life. Kate was almost wild with grief at her husband's danger, and
we fetched her and her children to her father's house for to watch
over them. On the next day all the prisoners which had been taken at
Mr. Wells's house (we only having been released by the dealings of
friends with the chief secretary) were examined by Justice Young, and
returned to prison to take their trials the next session. Mr. Wells,
at his return finding his house ransacked and his wife carried away to
prison, had been forthwith to Mr. Justice Young for to expostulate
with him, and to demand his wife and the key of his lodgings; but the
justice sent him to bear the rest company, with a pair of iron bolts
on his legs. The next day he examined him in Newgate; and upon Mr.
Wells saying he was not privy to the mass being said that day in his
house, but wished he had been present, thinking his name highly
honored by having so divine a sacrifice offered in it, the justice
told him "that though he was not at the feast, he should taste of the
same."

The evening I returned home from the prison a great lassitude overcame
me, and for a few days increased so much, joined with pains in the
head and in the limbs, that I could scarcely think, or so much as
stand. At last it was discerned that I was sickening with the
small-pox, caught, methinks, in the prison; and this was no small
increase to Muriel's trouble, who had to go to and fro from my chamber
to her father's, and was forced to send Kate and her children to the
country to Sir Ralph Ingoldsby's house; but methinks in the end this
proved for the best, for when Mr. Lacy was, with the other prisoners,
found guilty, and condemned to death on the 4th of December, some for
having said, and the others for having heard, mass at Mr. Wells's
house, Kate came to London but for a few hours, to take leave of him,
and Polly's care of her afterward cheered the one sister in her great
but not very lasting affliction, and sobered the other's spirits in a
beneficial manner, for since she hath been a stayer at home, and very
careful of her children and Kate's also, and, albeit very secretly,
doth I hear practise her religion. Mr. Congleton never heard of his
son-in-law and his friend Mr. Wells's danger, the palsy which affected
him having numbed his senses so that he slowly sunk in his grave
without suffering of body or mind. From Muriel I heard the course of
the trial. How many bitter words and scoffs were used by the
judges and others upon the bench, particularly to Edmund Genings,
because of his youth, and that he angered them with his arguments! The
more to make him a scoff to the people, they vested him in a
ridiculous fool's coat which they had found in Mr. Wells's house, and
would have it to be a vestment. It was appointed they should all die
at Tyburn, except Mr. Genings and Mr. Wells, who were to be executed
before Mr. Wells's own door in Gray's Inn Fields, within three doors
of our own lodging. The judges, we were told, after pronouncing
sentence, began to persuade them to conform to the Protestant
religion, assuring them that by so doing they should obtain mercy, but
otherwise they must certainly expect to die. But they all answered
"that they would live and die in the true Roman and Catholic faith,
which they and all antiquity had ever professed, and that they would
by no means go to the Protestant churches, or for one moment think
that the queen could be head of the Church in spirituals." They dealt
most urgently with Edmund Genings in this matter of conformity, giving
him hopes not only of his life, but also of a good living, it he would
renounce his faith; but he remained, God be praised, constant and
resolute; upon which he was thrust into a dark hole within the prison,
where he remained in prayer, without food or sustenance, till the hour
of his death. Some letters we received from him and Mr. Wells, which
have become revered treasures and almost relics in our eyes. One did
write (this was Edmund): "The comforts which captivity bringeth are so
manifold that I have rather cause to thank God highly for his fatherly
dealings with me than to complain of any worldly misery whatsoever.
Custom hath caused that it is no grief to me to be debarred from
company, desiring nothing more than solitude. When I pray, I talk with
God--when I read, he talketh with me; so that I am never alone." And
much more in that strain. Mr. Wells ended his letter thus: "I am bound
with gyves, yet I am unbound toward God, and far better I account it
to have the body bound than the soul to be in bondage. I am threatened
hard with danger of death; but if it be no worse, I will not wish it
to be better. God send me his grace, and then I weigh not what flesh
and blood can do unto me. I have answered to many curious and
dangerous questions, but I trust with good advisements, not offending
my conscience. What will come of it God only knoweth. Through prison
and chains to glory. Thine till death." This letter was addressed to
Basil, with a desire expressed we should read it before it was sent to
him.

On the day before the one of the execution, Kate came to take leave of
her husband. She could not speak for her tears; but he, with his usual
composure, bade her be of good comfort, and that death was no more to
him than to drink off the caudle which stood there ready on his table.
And methinks this indifferency was a joint effect of nature and of
grace, for none had ever seen him hurried or agitated in his life with
any matter whatsoever. And when he rolled Topcliffe down the stairs
and fell with him--for it was he which did this desperate action--his
face was as composed when he rose up again, one of the servants who
had seen the scuffle said, as if he had never so much as stirred from
his study; and in his last speeches before his death it was noticed
that his utterance was as slow and deliberate, and his words as
carefully picked, as at any other time of his life. Ah me! what days
were those when, hardly recovered from my sickness, only enough for to
sit up in an armed-chair and be carried from one chamber to another,
all the talk ministered about me was of the danger and coming death of
these dear friends. I had a trouble of mine own, which I be truly
ashamed to speak of; but in this narrative I have resolved above all
things to be truthful; and if I have ever had  occasion, on the
one hand, to relate what should seem to be to mine own credit, on the
other also I desire to acknowledge my weaknesses and imperfections, of
which what I am about to relate is a notable instance. The small-pox
made me at that time the most deformed person that could be seen, even
after I was recovered; and the first time I beheld my face in a glass,
the horror which it gave me was so great that I resolved Basil should
never be the husband of one whom every person which saw her must needs
be affrighted to look on; but, forecasting he would never give me up
for this reason, howsoever his inclination should rebel against the
kindness of his heart and his true affection for me, I hastily sent
him a letter, in which I said I could give him no cause for the change
which had happened in me, but that I was resolved not to marry him,
acting in my old hasty manner, without thought or prudence. No sooner
had I done so than I grew very uneasy thereat, too late reflecting on
what his suspicions should be of my inconstancy, and what should to
him appear faithless breach of promise.

It grieved me, in the midst of such grave events and noble sufferings,
to be so concerned for mine own trouble; and on the day before the
execution I was sitting musing painfully on the tragedy which was to
be enacted at our own doors as it were, weeping for the dear friends
which were to suffer, and ever and anon chewing the cud of my wilful
undoing of mine own, and it might prove of Basil's, future peace by my
rash letter to him, and yet more rash concealment of my motives.
Whilst I was thus plunged in grief and uneasiness, the door of my
chamber of a sudden opened, and the servant announced Mr. Hubert
Rookwood. I hid my face hastily with a veil, which I now did generally
use, except when alone with Muriel. He came in, and methought a change
had happened in his appearance. He looked somewhat wild and
disordered, and his face flushed as one used to drinking.

"Constance," he said abruptly, "tidings have reached me which would
not suffer me to put off this visit. A man coming from France hath
brought me a letter from Basil, and one directed to you, which he
charged me to deliver into your hands. If it tallies with that which
he doth write to me--and I doubt not it must be so, for his dealings
are always open and honorable, albeit often rash--I must needs hope
for so much happiness from it as I can scarce credit to be possible
after so much suffering."

I stretched out mine hand for Basil's letter. Oh, how the tears gushed
from mine eyes on the reading of it! He had received mine, and having
heard some time before from a friend he did not name of his brother's
passion for me, he never misdoubted but that I had at last yielded to
his solicitations, and given him the love which I withdrew from him.

Never was the nobleness of his nature more evinced than in this
letter; never grief more heartfelt, combined with a more patient
endurance of the overthrow of his sole earthly happiness; never a
greater or more forgiving kindness toward a faithless creature, as he
deemed her, with a lingering care for her weal, whom he must needs
have thought so ill deserving of his love. So much sorrow without
repining, such strict charges not to marry Hubert if he was not a good
Catholic and truly reconciled to the Church. But if he was indeed
changed in this respect, an assent given to this marriage which had
cost him, he said, many tears and many prayers for to write, more than
if with his own heart's blood he had traced the words; but which,
nevertheless, he freely gave, and prayed God to bless us both, if with
a good conscience we could be wedded; and God forbid he should hinder
it, if I had ceased for to love him, and had given to Hubert--who had
already got his birthright--also a more precious treasure, the heart
once his own.


"What doth your brother write to you?" I coldly said; and then Hubert
gave me his letter to read.

Methinks he imagined I concealed my face from some sort of shame; and
God knoweth, had I acted the part he supposed, I might well have
blushed deeper than can be thought of.

This letter was like unto the other--the most touching proof of love
a man could give for a woman. Forgetting himself, my dearest Basil's
only care was my happiness; and firm remonstrances were blended with
touching injunctions to his brother to treasure every hair of the head
of one who was dearer to him than all the world beside, and to do his
duty to God and to her, which if he observed, he should, mindless of
all else, for ever bless him.

When I returned the missive to him, Hubert said, in a faltering voice,
"Now you are free--free to be mine--free before God and man."

"Yea," I answered; "free as the dead, for I am henceforward dead to
all earthly things."

"What!" he cried, startled; "your thinking is not, God shield it, to
be a nun abroad?"

"Nay," I answered; and then, laying my hand on Basil's letter, I said,
"If I had thought to marry you, Hubert; if at this hour I should say I
could love you, I ween you would leave the house affrighted, and never
return to it again."

"Is your brain turned?" he impatiently cried.

"No," I answered quietly, lifting my veil, "my face only is changed."

I had a sort of bitter pleasure in the sight of his surprise. He
turned as pale as any smock.

"Oh, fear not," I said; "my heart hath not changed with my face. I am
not in so merry a mood, God knoweth, as to torment you with any such
apprehensions. My love for Basil is the same; yea, rather at this
hour, after these noble proofs of his love, more great than ever. Now
you can discern why I should write to him I would never marry him."

Hiding his face in his hands, Hubert said, "Would I had not come here
to embitter your pain?"

"You have not added to my sorrow," I answered; "the chalice is indeed
full, but these letters have rather lightened than increased my
sufferings."

Then concealing again my face, I went on, "O Hubert, will you come
here to-morrow morning? Know you the sight which from that window
shall be seen? Hark to that noise! Look out, I pray you, and tell me
what it is."

He did as I bade him, and I marked the shudder he gave. His face, pale
before, had now turned of an ashy hue.

"Is it possible?" he said; "a scaffold in front of that house where we
were wont to meet those old friends! O Constance, are they there to
die?--that brave joyous old man, that kind pious soul his wife?"

"Yea," I answered; "and likewise the friend of my young years, good
holy Edmund Genings, who never did hurt a fly, much less a human
creature. And at Tyburn, Bryan Lacy, my cousin, once your friend, and
Sydney Hodgson, and good Mr. Mason, are to suffer."

Hubert clenched his hands, ground his teeth, and a terrible look shot
through his eyes. I felt affrighted at the passion my words had
awakened.

"Cursed," he cried, in a hoarse voice,--"cursed be the bloody queen
which reigneth in this land! Thrice accursed be the tyrants which hunt
us to death! Tenfold accursed such as lure us to damnation by the foul
baits they do offer to tempt a man to lie to God and to others, to
ruin those he loves, to become loathsome to himself by his mean
crimes! But if one hath been cheated of his soul, robbed of the hope
of heaven, debarred from his religion, thrust into the company of
devils, let them fear him, yea, let them fear him, I say. Revenge is
not impossible. What shall stay the  hand of such a man? What
shall guard those impious tempters if many such should one day league
for to sweep them from earth's face? If one be desperate of this
world's life, he becomes terrible. How should he be to be dreaded who
doth despair of heaven!"

With these wild words, he left me. He was gone ere I could speak.

CHAPTER XXVI.

On the night before the 10th of December neither Muriel nor I retired
to rest. We sat together by the rush-light, at one time saying
prayers, at another speaking together in a low voice. Ever and anon
she went to listen at her father's door, for to make sure he slept,
and then returned to me. The hours seemed to pass slowly; and yet we
should have wished to stay their course, so much we dreaded the first
rays of light presaging the tragedy of the coming day. Before the
first token of it did show, at about five in the morning, the
door-bell rung in a gentle manner.

"Who can be ringing?" I said to Muriel.

"I will go and see," she answered.

But I restrained her, and went, to call one of the servants, who were
beginning to bestir themselves. The man went down, and returned,
bringing me a paper, on which these words were written:

"MY DEAR CONSTANCE--My lord and myself have secretly come to join our
prayers with yours, and, if it should be possible, to receive the
blessing of the holy priest who is about to die, as he passeth by your
house, toward which, I doubt not, his eyes will of a surety turn. I
pray you, therefore, admit us."

I hurried down the stairs, and found Lord and Lady Arundel standing in
the hall; she in a cloak and hood, and he with a slouching hat hiding
his face. Leading them both into the parlor, which looketh on the
street, I had a fire hastily kindled; and for a space her ladyship and
myself could only sit holding each other's hands, our hearts being too
full to speak. After a while I asked her when she had come to London.
She said she had done so very secretly, not to increase the queen's
displeasure against her husband; her majesty's misliking of herself
continuing as great as ever.

"When she visited my lord last year, before his arrest," quoth she,
"on a pane of glass in the dining-room her grace perceived a distich,
writ by me in bygone days with a diamond, and which expressed hopes of
better fortunes."

"I mind it well," I replied. "Did it not run thus?

  'Not seldom doth the sun sink down In brightest light
  Which rose at early dawn disfigured quite outright;
  So shall my fortunes, wrapt so long in darkest night,
  Revive, and show ere long an aspect clear and bright.'"

"Yea," she answered. "And now listen to what her majesty, calling for
a like instrument, wrote beneath:

  'Not seldom do vain hopes deceive a silly heart
  Let all each witless dreams now vanish and depart;
  For fortune shall ne'er shine, I promise thee, on one
  Whose folly hath for aye all hopes thereof undone.'

"We do live," she added, "with a sword hanging over our heads; and it
is meet we should come here this day to learn a lesson how to die when
a like fate shall overtake us. But thou hast been like to die by
another means, my good Constance," her ladyship said, looking with
kindness but no astonishment on my swollen and disfigured face, which
I had not remembered to conceal; grave thoughts, then uppermost,
having caused me to forget it.

"My life," I answered, "God hath mercifully spared; but I have lost
the semblance of my former self."

"Tut, tut!" she replied, "only for a time."

And then we both drew near unto the fire, for we were shivering with
cold. Lord Arundel leant against the chimney, and watched the
timepiece.

"Mistress Wells," he said, "is like, I hear, to be reprieved at the
last moment."

"Alas!" I cried, "nature therein finds relief; yet I know not how much
to rejoice or yet to grieve thereat. For surely she will desire to die
with her husband. And of what good will life be to her if, like some
others, she doth linger for years in prison?"

"Of much good, if God wills her there to spend those years," Muriel
gently said; which words, I ween, were called to mind long afterward
by one who then heard them.

As the hour appointed for the execution approached, we became silent
again, and kneeling down betook ourselves to prayer. At eight o'clock
a crowd began to assemble in the street; and the sound of their feet
as they passed under the window, hurrying toward the scaffold, which
was hung with black cloth, became audible. About an hour afterward
notice was given to us by one of the servants that the sledge which
carried the prisoners was in sight. We rose from our knees and went to
the window. Mr. Wells's stout form and Mr. Genings's slight figure
were then discernible, as they sat bound, with their hands tied behind
their backs. I observed that Mr. Wells smiled and nodded to some one
who was standing amidst the crowd. This person, who was a friend of
his, hath since told me that as he passed he saluted him with these
words: "Farewell, dear companion! farewell, all hunting and hawking
and old pastimes! I am now going a better way." Mistress Wells not
being with them, we perceived that to be true which Lord Arundel had
heard. At that moment I turned round, and missed Muriel, who had been
standing close behind me. I supposed she could not endure this sight;
but, lo and behold, looking again into the street, I saw her threading
her way amongst the crowd as swiftly, lame though she was, as if an
angel had guided her. When she reached the foot of the scaffold, and
took her stand there, her aspect was so composed, serene, and
resolved, that she seemed like an inhabitant of another world suddenly
descended amidst the coarse and brutal mob. She was resolved, I
afterward found, to take note of every act, gesture, and word there
spoken; and by her means I can here set down what mine own ears heard
not, but much of which mine own eyes beheld. As the sledge passed our
door, Mr. Genings, as Lady Arundel had foreseen, turned his head
toward us; and seeing me at the window, gave us, I doubt not, his
blessing; for, albeit he could not raise his chained hand, we saw his
fingers and his lips move. On reaching the gibbet Muriel heard him cry
out with holy Andrew, "O good gibbet, long desired and now prepared
for me, much hath my heart desired thee; and now, joyful and secure, I
come to thee. Receive me, I beseech thee, as the disciple of him that
suffered on the cross!" Being put upon the ladder, many questions were
asked him by some standersby, to which he made clear and distinct
answers. Then Mr. Topcliffe cried out with a loud voice,

"Genings, Genings, confess thy fault, thy papist treason; and the
queen, no doubt, will grant thee pardon!"


To which he mildly answered, "I know not, Mr. Topcliffe, in what I
have offended my dear anointed princess; if I have offended her or any
other person in anything, I would willingly ask her and all the world
forgiveness. If she be offended with me without a cause, for
professing my faith and religion, or because I am a priest, or because
I will not turn minister against my conscience, I shall be, I trust,
excused and innocent before God. 'We must obey God,' saith St. Peter,
'rather than men;' and I must not in this case acknowledge a fault
where there is none. If to return to England a priest, or to say mass,
is popish treason, I here do confess I am a traitor. But I think not
so; and therefore I acknowledge myself guilty of these things not with
repentance and sorrow of heart, but with an open protestation of
inward joy that I have done so good deeds, which, if they were to do
again, I would, by the permission and assistance of God, accomplish
the same, though with the hazard of a thousand lives."

Mr. Topcliffe was very angry at this speech, and hardly gave him time
to say an "Our Father" before he ordered the hangman to turn the
ladder. From that moment I could not so much as once again look toward
the scaffold. Lady Arundel and I drew back into the room, and clasping
each other's hands, kept repeating, "Lord, help him! Lord, assist him!
Have mercy on him, O Lord!" and the like prayers.

We heard Lord Arundel exclaim, "Good God! the wretch doth order the
rope to be cut!" Then avoiding the sight, he also drew back and
silently prayed. What followeth I learnt from Muriel, who never lost
her senses, though she endured, methinks, at that scaffold's foot as
much as any sufferer upon it. Scarcely or not at all stunned, Mr.
Genings stood on his feet with his eyes raised to heaven, till the
hangman threw him down on the block where he was to be quartered.
After he was dismembered, she heard him utter with a loud voice, "Oh,
it smarts!" and Mr. Wells exclaim, "Alas! sweet soul, thy pain is
great indeed, but almost past. Pray for me now that mine may come."
Then when his heart was being plucked out, a faint dying whisper
reached her ear, "Sancte Gregori, ora pro me!" and then the voice of
the hangman crying, "See, his heart is in mine hand, and yet Gregory
in his mouth! O egregious papist!"

I marvel how she lived through it; but she assured us she was never
even near unto fainting, but stood immovable, hearing every sound,
listening to each word and groan, printing them on the tablet of her
heart, wherein they have ever remained as sacred memories.

Mr. Wells, so far from being terrified by the sight of his friend's
death, expressed a desire to have his own hastened; and, like unto Sir
Thomas More, was merry to the last; for he cried, "Despatch, despatch,
Mr. Topcliffe! Be you not ashamed to suffer an old man to stand here
so long in his shirt in the cold? I pray God make you of a Saul a
Paul, of a persecutor a Catholic." A murmur, hoarse and loud, from the
crowd apprised us when all was over.

"Where is Muriel?" I cried, going to the window. Thence I beheld a
sight which my pen refuseth to describe--the sledge which was
carrying away the mangled remains of those dear friends which so short
a time before we had looked upon alive! Like in a dream I saw this
spectacle; for the moment afterward I fainted. Many persons were
running after the cart, and Muriel keeping pace with what to others
would have been a sight full of horror, but to her were only relics of
the saintly dead. She followed, heedless of the mob, unmindful of
their jeers, intent on one aim--to procure some portion of those
sacred remains, which she at last achieved in an incredible manner;
one finger of Edmund Genings's hand, which she laid hold of, remaining
in hers. This secured, she hastened home, bearing away this her
treasure.


When I recovered from a long swoon, she was standing on one side of me
and Lady Arundel on the other. Their faces were very pale, but
peaceful; and when remembrance returned, I also felt a great and quiet
joy diffused in mine heart, such as none, I ween, could believe in who
have not known the like. For a while all earthly cares left me; I
seemed to soar above this world. Even Basil I could think of with a
singular detachment. It seemed as if angels were haunting the house,
whispering heavenly secrets. I could not so much as think on those
blessed departed souls without an increase of this joy sensibly
inflaming my heart.

After Lady Arundel had left us, which she did with many loving words
and tender caresses, Muriel and I conversed long touching the future.
She told me that when her duty to her father should end with his life,
she intended to fulfil the vow she long ago had made to consecrate
herself wholly to God in holy religion, and go beyond the seas, to
become a nun of the order of St. Augustine.

"May I not leave this world?" I cried; "may I not also, forgetting all
things else, live for God alone?"

A sweet sober smile illumined Muriel's face as she answered, "Yea, by
all means serve God, but not as a nun, good Constance. Thine I take to
be the mere shadow of a vocation, if even so much as that. A cloud
hath for a while obscured the sunshine of thy hopes and called up this
shadow; but let this thin vapor dissolve, and no trace shall remain of
it. Nay, nay, sweet one, 'tis not chafed, nor yet, except in rare
instances, riven hearts which God doth call to this special
consecration--rather whole ones, nothing or scantily touched by the
griefs and joys which this world can afford. But I warrant thee--nay,
I may not warrant," she added, checking herself, "for who can of a
surety forecast what God's designs should be? But I think thou wilt
be, before many years have past, a careful matron, with many children
about thy apron-strings to try thy patience."

"O Muriel," I answered, "how should this be? I have made my bed, and I
must lie on it. Like a foolish creature, unwittingly, or rather
rashly, I have deceived Basil into thinking I do not love him; and if
my face should yet recover its old fairness, he shall still think mine
heart estranged."

Muriel shook her head, and said more entangled skeins than this one
had been unravelled. The next day she resumed her wonted labors in the
prisons and amongst the poor. Having procured means of access to
Mistress Wells, she carried to her the only comfort she could now
taste--the knowledge of her husband's holy, courageous end, and the
reports of the last words he did utter. Then having received a charge
thereunto from Mr. Genings, she discovered John Genings's place of
residence, and went to tell him that the cause of his brother's coming
to London was specially his love for him; that his only regret in
dying had been that he was executed before he could see him again, or
commend him to any friend of his own, so hastened was his death.

But this much-loved brother received her with a notable coldness; and
far from bewailing the untimely and bloody end of his nearest kinsman,
he betrayed some kind of contentment at the thought that he was now
rid of all the persuasions which he suspected he should otherwise have
received from him touching religion.

About a fortnight afterward Mr. Congleton expired. Alas! so
troublesome were the times, that to see one, howsoever loved, sink
peacefully into the grave, had not the same sadness which usually
belongs to the like haps.

Muriel had procured a priest for to give him extreme unction--one Mr.
Adams, a friend of Mr. Wells, who had sometimes said mass in his
house. He also secretly came for to perform the funeral rites before
his burial in the cemetery of St. Martin's church.


When we returned home that day after the funeral, this reverend
gentleman asked us if we had heard any report touching the brother of
Mr. Genings; and on our denial, he said, "Talk is ministered amongst
Catholics of his sudden conversion."

"Sudden, indeed, it should be," quoth Muriel; "for a more indifferent
listener to an afflicting message could not be met with than he proved
himself when I carried to him Mr. Genings's dying words."

"Not more sudden," quoth Mr. Adams, "than St. Paul's was, and
therefore not incredible."

Whilst we were yet speaking, a servant came in, and said a young
gentleman was at the door, and very urgent for to see Muriel.

"Tell him," she said, raising her eyes, swollen with tears, "that I
have one hour ago buried my father, and am in no condition to see
strangers."

The man returned with a paper, on which these words were written:

"A penitent and a wanderer craveth to speak with you. If you shed
tears, his do incessantly flow. If you weep for a father, he grieveth
for one better to him than ten fathers. If your plight is sad, his
should be desperate, but for God's great mercy and a brother's prayers
yet pleading for him in heaven as once upon earth.
    "JOHN GENINGS."

"Heavens!" Muriel cried, "it is this changed man, this Saul become a
Paul, which stands at the door and knocks. Bring him in swiftly; the
best comfort I can know this day is to see one who awhile was lost and
is now found."

When John Genings beheld her and me, he awhile hid his face in his
hands, and seemed unable to speak. To break this silence Mr. Adams
said, "Courage, Mr. Genings; your holy brother rejoiceth in heaven
over your changed mind, and further blessings still, I doubt not, he
shall yet obtain for you."

Then this same John raised his head, and with as great and touching
sorrow as can be expressed, after thanking this unknown speaker for
his comfortable words, he begged of Muriel to relate to him each
action and speech in the dying scene she had witnessed; and when she
had ended this recital, with the like urgency he moved me to tell him
all I could remember of his brother's young years, all my father had
written of his life and virtues at college, all which we had heard of
his labors since he had come into the country, and lastly, in a manner
most simple and affecting, we all entreating him thereunto, he made
this narrative, addressing himself chiefly to Muriel:

"You, madam, are acquainted with what was the hardness of mine heart
and cruel indifference to my brother's fate; with what disdain I
listened to you, with what pride I received his last advice. But about
ten days after his execution, toward night, having spent all that day
in sports and jollity, being weary with play, I resorted home to
repose myself. I went into a secret chamber, and was no sooner there
sat down, but forthwith my heart began to be heavy, and I weighed how
idly I had spent that day. Amidst these thoughts there was presently
represented to me an imagination and apprehension of the death of my
brother, and, amongst other things, how he had not long before
forsaken all worldly pleasure, and for the sake of his religion alone
endured dreadful torments. Then within myself I made long discourses
concerning his manner of living and mine own; and finding the one to
embrace pain and mortification, and the other to seek pleasure--the
one to live strictly, and the other licentiously--I was struck with
exceeding terror and remorse. I wept bitterly, desiring God to
illuminate mine understanding, that I might see and perceive the
truth. Oh, what great joy and consolation did I feel at  that
instant! What reverence on the sudden did I begin to bear to the
Blessed Virgin and to the Saints of God, which before I had never
scarcely so much as heard of! What strange emotions, as it were
inspirations, with exceeding readiness of will to change my religion,
took possession of my soul! and what heavenly conception had I then of
my brother's felicity! I imagined I saw him--I thought I heard him. In
this ecstasy of mind I made a vow upon the spot, as I lay prostrate on
the ground, to forsake kindred and country, to find out the true
knowledge of Edmund's faith. Oh, sir," he ended by saying, turning to
Mr. Adams, which he guessed to be a priest, "think you not my brother
obtained for me in heaven what on earth he had not obtained? for here
I am become a Catholic in faith without persuasion or conference with
any one man in the world?"

"Ay, my good friend," Mr. Adams replied; "the blood of martyrs will
ever prove the seed of the Church. Let us then, in our private
prayers, implore the suffrages of those who in this country do lose
their lives for the faith, and take unto ourselves the words of
Jeremiah: 'O Lord, remember what has happened unto us. Behold and see
our great reproach; our inheritance is gone to strangers, our houses
to aliens. We are become as children without a father, our mothers are
made as it were widows.'"

These last words of Holy Writ brought to mine own mind private
sorrows, and caused me to shed tears. Soon after John Genings departed
from England without giving notice to us or any of his friends, and
went beyond seas to execute his promise. I have heard that he has
entered the holy order of St. Francis, and is seeking to procure a
convent of that religion at Douay, in hopes of restoring the English
Franciscan province, of which it is supposed he will be first
provincial. Report doth state him to be an exceeding strict and holy
religious, and like to prove an instrument in furnishing the English
mission with many zealous and apostolical laborers.

Muriel and I were solitary in that great city where so many
misfortunes had beset us; she with her anchor cast where her hopes
could not be deceived; I by mine own folly like unto a ship at sea
without a chart. Womanly reserve, mixed, I ween, with somewhat of
pride, restraining me from writing to Basil, though, as my face
improved each day, I deplored my hasty folly, and desired nothing so
much as to see him again, when, if his love should prove unchanged
(shame on that word _if!_ which my heart disavowed), we should be as
heretofore, and the suffering I had caused him and endured myself
would end. But how this might happen I foresaw not; and life was sad
and weary while so much suspense lasted.

Muriel would not forsake me while in this plight; but although none
could have judged it from her cheerful and amiable behavior, I well
knew that she sighed for the haven of a religions home, and grieved to
keep her from it. After some weeks spent in this fashion, with very
little comfort, I was sitting one morning dismally forecasting the
future, writing letter after letter to Basil, which still I tore up
rather than send them--for I warrant you it was no easy matter for to
express in writing what I longed to say. To tell him the cause of my
breaking our contract was so much as to compel him to the performance
of it; and albeit I was no longer so ill-favored as at the first, yet
the good looks I had before my sickness had by no means wholly
returned. Sometimes I wrote: "Your thinking, dear Basil, that I do
affection any but yourself is so false and injurious an imagination,
that I cannot suffer you to entertain it. Be sure I never can and
never shall love any but you; yet, for all that, I cannot marry you."
Then effacing this last sentence, which verily belied my true desire,
I would write another: "Methinks if you should see me now, yourself
would not wish otherwise than to dissolve a contract  wherein
your contentment should be less than it hath been." And then thinking
this should be too obscure, changed it to--"In sooth, dear Basil, my
appearance is so altered that you would yourself, I ween, not desire
for to wed one so different from the Constance you have seen and
loved." But pride whispered to restrain this open mention of my
suspicious fears of his liking me less for my changed face; yet
withal, conscience reproved this misdoubt of one whose affection had
ever shown itself to be of the nobler sort, which looketh rather to
the qualities of the heart and mind than to the exterior charms of a
fair visage.

Alas! what a torment doth perplexity occasion. I had let go my pen,
and my tears were falling on the paper, when Muriel opened the door of
the parlor.

"What is it?" I cried, hiding my face with mine hand that she should
not see me weeping.

"A letter from Lady Arundel," she answered.

I eagerly took it from her; and on the reading of it found it
contained an urgent request from her ladyship, couched in most
affectionate terms, and masking the kindness of its intent under a
show of entreating, as a favor to herself that I would come and reside
with her at Arundel Castle, where she greatly needed the solace of a
friend's company, during her lord's necessary absences.

  "Mine own dear, good Constance," she wrote, "come to me quickly. In
  a letter I cannot well express all the good you will thus do to me.
  For mine own part, I would fain say come to me until death shall
  part us. But so selfish I would not be; yet prithee come until such
  time as the clouds which have obscured the fair sky of thy future
  prospects have passed away, and thy Basil's fortunes are mended; for
  I will not cease to call him thine, for all that thou hast thyself
  thrust a spoke in a wheel which otherwise should have run smoothly,
  for the which thou art now doing penance: but be of good cheer; time
  will bring thee shrift. Some kind of comfort I can promise thee in
  this house, greater than I dare for to commit to paper. Lose no time
  then. From thy last letter methinks the gentle turtle-dove at whose
  side thou dost now nestle hath found herself a nest whereunto she
  longeth to fly. Let her spread her wings thither, and do thou hasten
  to the shelter of these old walls and the loving faithful heart of
  thy poor friend,
  "ANNE ARUNDEL AND SURREY."

Before a fortnight was overpast Muriel and I had parted; she for her
religious home beyond seas, I for the castle of my Lord Arundel,
whither I travelled in two days, resting on my way at the pleasant
village of Horsham. During the latter part of the journey the road lay
through a very wild expanse of down; but as soon as I caught sight of
the sea my heart bounded with joy; for to gaze on its blue expanse
seemed to carry me beyond the limits of this isle to the land where
Basil dwelt. When I reached the castle, the sight of the noble gateway
and keep filled me with admiration; and riding into the court thereof,
I looked with wonder on the military defences bristling on every side.
But what a sweet picture smiled from one of the narrow windows over
above the entrance-door!--mine own loved friend, yet fairer in her
matronly and motherly beauty than even in her girlhood's loveliness,
holding in her arms the pretty bud which had blossomed on a noble tree
in the time of adversity. Her countenance beamed on me like the
morning sun's; and my heart expanded with joy when, half-way up the
stairs which led to her chamber, I found myself inclosed in her arms.
She led me to a settle near a cheerful fire, and herself removed my
riding-cloak, my hat and veil, stroked my cheek with two of her
delicate white fingers, and said with a smile,

"In sooth, my dear Constance, thou art an arrant cheat."

"How so, most dear lady?" I said, likewise smiling.


"Why, thou art as comely as ever I thee; which, after all the torments
inflicted on poor Master Rookwood by thy prophetical vision of an
everlasting deformity, carefully concealed from him under the garb of
a sudden fit of inconstancy, is a very nefarious injustice. Go to, go
to; if he should see thee now, he never would believe but that that
management of thine was a cunning device for to break faith with him."

"Nay, nay," I cried; "if I should be ever so happy, which I deserve
not, for to see him again, there could never be for one moment a
mistrust on his part of a love which is too strong and too fond for
concealment. If the feebleness of sickness had not bred unreasonable
fears, methinks I should not have been guilty of so great a folly as
to think he would prize less what he was always wont most to treasure
far above their merits--the heart and mind of his poor Constance
--because the casket which held them had waxed unseemly. But when the
day shall come in which Basil and I may meet, God only knoweth. Human
foresight cannot attain to this prevision."

Lady Arundel's eyes had a smiling expression then which surprised me.
For mine own heart was full when I thus spoke, and I was wont to meet
in her with a more quick return of the like feelings I expressed than
at that time appeared. Slight inward resentments, painfully, albeit
not angrily, entertained, I was by nature prone to; and in this case
the effect of this impression suddenly checked the joy which at my
first arrival I had experienced. O, how much secret discipline should
be needed for to rule that little unruly kingdom within us, which many
look not into till serious rebellions do arise, which need fire and
sword to quell them for lack of timely repression! Her ladyship set
before me some food, and constrained me to eat, which I did merely for
to content her. She appeared to me somewhat restless: beginning a
sentence, and then breaking off suddenly in the midst thereof; going
in and out of the chamber; laughing at one time, and then seeming as
if about to weep. "When I had finished eating, and a servant had
removed the dishes, she sat down by my side and took my hand in hers.
Then the tears truly began to roll down her cheeks.

"O, for God's sake, what aileth you, dearest lady?" I said, uneasily
gazing on her agitated countenance.

"Nothing ails me," she answered; "only I fear to frighten thee, albeit
in a joyful manner."

"Frightened with joy!" I sadly answered. "O, that should be a rare
fright, and an unwonted one to me of late."

"Therefore," she said, smiling through her tears, "peradventure the
more to be feared."

"What joy do you speak of? I pray you, sweet lady, keep me not in
suspense."

"If, for instance," she said in a low voice, pressing my hands very
hard,--"if I was to tell thee Constance, that thy Basil was here,
shouldst thou not be affrighted?"

Methinks I must have turned very white; leastways, I began to tremble.

"Is he here?" I said, almost beside myself with the fearful hope her
words awoke.

"Yea," she said. "Since three days he is here."

For a moment I neither spoke nor moved.

"How comes it about? how doth it happen?" I began to say; but a
passion of tears choked my utterance. I fell into her arms, sobbing on
her breast; for verily I had no power to restrain myself. I heard her
say, "Master Rookwood, come in." Then, after those sad long weary
years, I again heard his cheerful voice; then I saw his kind eyes
speaking what words could never have uttered, or one-half so well
expressed. Then I felt the happiness which is most like,  I ween,
of any on earth to that of heaven: after long parting, to meet again
one intensely loved--each heart overflowing with an unspoken joy and
with an unbounded thankfulness to God. Amazement did so fill me at
this unlooked-for good, that I seemed content for a while to think of
it as of a dream, and only feared to be awoke. But oh, with how many
sweet tears of gratitude--with what bursts of wonder and admiration--I
soon learnt how Lady Arundel had formed this kind plot, to which
Muriel had been privy, for to bring together parted lovers, and
procure to others the happiness she so often lacked herself--the
company of the most loved person in the world. She had herself written
to Basil, and related the cause of my apparent change; a cause, she
said, at no time sufficient for to warrant a desperate action, and
even then passing away. But that had it forever endured, she was of
opinion his was a love would survive any such accident as touched only
the exterior, when all else was unimpaired. She added, that when Mr.
Congleton, who was then at the point of death, should have expired,
and Muriel gone beyond seas to fulfil her religious intent, she would
use all the persuasion in her power to bring me to reside with her,
which was the thing she most desired in the world; and that if he
should think it possible under another name for to cross the seas and
land at some port in Sussex, he should be the welcomest guest
imaginable at Arundel Castle, if even, like St. Alexis, he should hide
his nobility under the garb of rags, and come thither begging on foot;
but yet she hoped, for his sake, it should not so happen, albeit
nothing could be more honorable if the cause was a good one. It needed
no more inducement than what this letter contained for to move Basil
to attempt this secret return. He took the name of Martingale, and
procured a passage in a small trading craft, which landed him at the
port of a small town named Littlehampton, about three or four miles
from Arundel. Thence he walked to the castle, where the countess
feigned him to be a leech sent by my lord to prescribe remedies for a
pain in her head, which she was oftentimes afflicted with, and as such
entertained him in the eyes of strangers as long as he continued
there, which did often move us to great merriment; for some of the
neighbors which she was forced to see, would sometimes ask for to
consult the countess's physician; and to avoid misdoubts, Basil once
or twice made up some innocent compounds, which an old gentleman and a
maiden lady in the town vowed had cured them, the one of a fit of the
gout, and the other of a very sharp disorder in her stomach. But to
return to the blissful first day of our meeting, one of the happiest I
had yet known; for a paramount affection doth so engross the heart,
that other sorrows vanish in its presence like dewdrops in the
sunshine. I can never forget the smallest particle of its many joys.
The long talk between Basil and me, first in Lady Arundel's chamber,
and then in the gallery of the castle, walking up and down, and when I
was tired, I sitting and he standing by the window which looked on the
fair valley and silvery river Arun, running toward the sea, through
pleasant pastures, with woody slopes on both sides, a fair and a
peaceful scene; fair and peaceful as the prospect Basil unfolded to me
that day, if we could but once in safety cross the seas; for his
debtors had remitted to him in France the moneys which they owed him,
and he had purchased a cottage in a very commodious village near the
town of Boulogne-sur-Mer, with an apple-orchard and a garden stored
with gay flowers and beehives, and a meadow with two large
walnut-trees in it. "And then bethink thee," he added, "mine own dear
love, that right in front of this fine mansion doth stand the parish
church, where God is worshipped in a Catholic manner in  peace
and freedom; and nothing greater or more weighty need, methinks, to be
said in its praise."

I said I thought so too, and that the picture he drew of it liked me
well.

"But," quoth Basil suddenly, "I must tell thee, sweetheart, I liked
not well thy behavior touching thine altered face, and the misleading
letter thou didst send me at that time. No!" he exclaimed with great
vehemency, "it mislikes me sorely that thou shouldst have doubted my
love and faith, and dealt with me so injuriously. If I was now by some
accident disfigured, I must by that same token expect thine affection
for me should decay."

"O Basil!" I cried, "that would be an impossible thing!"

"Wherefore impossible?" he replied; "you thought such a change
possible in me?"

"Because," I said, smiling,  "women are the most constant creatures in
the world, and not fickle like unto men, or so careful of a good
complexion in others, or a fine set of features."

"Tut, tut!" he cried, "I do admire that thou shouldst dare to utter so
great a . . . ." then he stopped, and, laughing, added, "the last half
of Raleigh's name, as the queen's bad riddle doth make it."  [Footnote 5]

  [Footnote 5: "The bane of the stomach, and the word of disgrace.
  Is the name of the gentleman with the bold."]

Well, much talk of this sort was ministered between us; but albeit I
find pleasure in the recalling of it, methinks the reading thereof
should easily weary others; so I must check my pen, which, like unto a
garrulous old gossip, doth run on, overstepping the limits of
discretion.


CHAPTER XXVII.

Before I arrived, Lady Arundel had made Basil privy to a great secret,
with warrant to impart it to me. In a remote portion of the castle's
buildings was concealed at that time Father Southwell, a man who had
not his like for piety and good parts; a sweet poet also, whose pieces
of verse, chiefly written in that obscure chamber in Arundel Castle,
have been since done into print, and do win great praise from all
sorts of people. Adjoining to his room, which only one servant in the
house, who carried his meals to him, had knowledge of, and from which
he could not so much as once look out of the window for fear of being
seen, was a small oratory where he said mass every day, and by a
secret passage Lady Arundel went from her apartments for to hear it.
That same evening after supper she led me thither for to get this good
priest's blessing, and also his counsel touching my marriage; for both
her ladyship and Basil were urgent for it to take place in a private
manner at the castle before we left England. For, they argued, if
there should be danger in this departure, it were best encountered
together; and except we were married it should be an impossible thing
for me to travel in his company and land with him in France. Catholics
could be married in a secret manner now that the needs of the times,
and the great perils many were exposed to, gave warrant for it. After
some talk with Father Southwell and Lady Arundel, I consented to their
wishes with more gladness of heart, I ween, than was seemly to
exhibit; for verily I was better contented than can be thought of to
think I should be at last married to my dear Basil, and nevermore to
part from him, if it so pleased God that we should land safely in
France, which did seem to me then the land of promise.

The next days were spent in forecasting means for a safe departure, as
soon as these secret nuptials should have taken place; but none had
been yet resolved on, when one morning I was called to Lady Arundel's
chamber, whom I found in tears and greatly disturbed, for that she had
heard from Lady Margaret Sackville, who  was then in London, that
Lord Arundel was once more resolved to leave the realm, albeit Father
Edmunds did dissuade him from that course; but some other friend's
persuasions were more availing, and he had determined to go to France,
where he might live in safety and serve God quietly.

My lady's agitation at this news was very great. She said nothing
should content her but to go with him, albeit she was then with child;
and she should write to tell him so; but before she could send a
letter Lord Arundel came to the castle, and held converse for many
hours with her and Father Southwell. When I met her afterward in the
gallery, her eyes were red with weeping. She said my lord desired to
see Basil and me in her chamber at nine of the clock. He wished to
speak with us of his resolve to cross the seas, and she prayed God
some good should arise out of it. Then she added, "I am now going to
the chapel, and if thou hast nothing of any weight to detain thee,
then come thither also, for to join thy prayers with mine for the
favorable issue of a very doubtful matter."

When we repaired to her ladyship's chamber at the time appointed, my
lord greeted us in an exceeding kind manner; and after some talk
touching Basil's secret return to England, our marriage, and then as
speedy as possible going abroad, his lordship said: "I also am
compelled to take a like course, for my evil-willers are resolved to
work my ruin and overthrow, and will succeed therein by means of my
religion. Many actions which at the outset may seem rash and
unadvised, after sufficient consideration do appear to be just and
necessary; and, methinks, my dearest wife and Father Southwell are now
minded to recommend what at first they misliked, and to see that in
this my present intent I take the course which, though it imperils my
fortunes, will tend to my soul's safety and that of my children. Since
I have conceived this intent, I thank God I have found a great deal
more quietness in my mind; and in this respect I have just occasion to
esteem my past troubles as my greatest felicity, for they have been
the means of leading me to that course which ever brings perfect
quietness, and only procures eternal happiness. I am resolved, as my
dear Nan well knoweth, to endure any punishment rather than willingly
to decline from what I have begun; I have bent myself as nearly as I
could to continue in the same, and to do no act repugnant to my faith
and profession. And by means hereof I am often compelled to do many
things which may procure peril to myself, and be an occasion of
mislike to her majesty. For, look you, on the first day of this
parliament, when the queen was hearing of a sermon in the cathedral
church of Westminster, above in the chancel, I was driven to walk by
myself below in one of the aisles; and another day this last Lent,
when she was hearing another sermon in the chapel at Greenwich, I was
forced to stay all the while in the presence-chamber. Then also when
on any Sunday or holyday her grace goes to her great closet, I am
forced either to stay in the privy chamber, and not to wait upon her
at all, or else presently to depart as soon as I have brought her to
the chapel. These things, and many more, I can by no means escape, but
only by an open plain discovery of myself, in the eye and opinion of
all men, as to the true cause of my refusal; neither can it now be
long hidden, although for a while it may not have been generally noted
and observed."

Lady Arundel sighed and said:

"I must needs confess that of necessity it must shortly be discovered;
and when I remember what a watchful and jealous eye is carried over
all such as are known to be recusants, and also how their lodgings are
continually searched, and to how great danger they are subject if a
Jesuit or seminary priest be found within their house, I begin to see
that either you cannot serve God in such  sort as you have
professed, or else you must incur the hazard of greater sufferings
than I am willing you should endure."

"For my part," Basil said, "I would ask, my lord, those that hate you
most, whether being of the religion which you do profess, they would
not take that course for safety of their souls and discharge of their
consciences which you do now meditate? And either they must directly
tell you that they would have done the same, or acknowledge themselves
to be mere atheists; which, howsoever they be affected in their
hearts, I think they would be loth to confess with their mouths."

"What sayest thou, Constance, of my lord's intent?" Lady Arundel said,
when Basil left off speaking.

"I am ashamed to utter my thinking in his presence, and in yours,
dearest lady," I replied; "but if you command me to it, methinks that
having had his house so fatally and successfully touched, and finding
himself to be of that religion which is accounted dangerous and odious
to the present state, which her majesty doth detest, and of which she
is most jealous and doubtful, and seeing he might now be drawn for his
conscience into a great and continual danger, not being able to do any
act or duty whereunto his religion doth bind him without incurring the
danger of felony, he must needs run upon his death headlong, which is
repugnant to the law of God and flatly against conscience, or else he
must resolve to escape these perils by the means he doth propose."

"Yea," exclaimed his lordship, with so much emotion that his voice
shook in the utterance of the words, "long have I debated with myself
on the course to take. I do see it to be the safest way to depart out
of the realm, and abide in some other place where I may live without
danger of my conscience, without offence to the queen, without daily
peril of my life; but yet I was drawn by such forcible persuasions to
be of another opinion, as I could not easily resolve on which side to
settle my determination. For on the one hand my native, and oh how
dearly loved country, my own early friends, my kinsfolk, my home, and,
more than all, my wife, which I must for a while part with if I go, do
invite me to stay. Poverty awaits me abroad; but in what have state
and riches benefited us, Nan? Shall not ease of heart and freedom from
haunting fears compensate for vain wealth? When, with the sweet
burthen in thine arms which for a while doth detain thee here, thou
shalt kneel before God's altar in a Catholic land, methinks thou wilt
have but scanty regrets for the trappings of fortune."

"God is my witness," the sweet lady replied, "that should be the
happiest day of my life. But I fear--yea, much I do fear--the chasm
of parting which doth once more open betwixt thee and me. Prithee,
Phil, let me go with thee," she tearfully added.

"Nay, sweet Nan," he answered; "thou knowest the physicians forbid thy
journeying at the present time so much as hence to London. How should
it then behoove thee to run the perils of the sea, and nightly voyage,
and it may be rough usage? Nay, let me behold thee again, some months
hence, with a fair boy in thine arms, which if I can but once behold,
my joy shall be full, if I should have to labor with mine hands for to
support him and thee."

She bowed her head on the hand outstretched to her; but I could see
the anguish with which she yielded her assent to this separation.
Methinks there was some sort of presentiment of the future heightening
her present grief; she seemed so loth her lord should go, albeit
reason and expediency forced from her an unwilling consent.

Before the conversation in Lady Arundel's chamber ended, the earl
proposed that Basil and I should accompany him abroad, and cross the
sea in the craft he should privately  hire, which would sail from
Littlehampton, and carry us to some port of France, whence along the
coast we could travel to Boulogne. This liked her ladyship well. Her
eyes entreated our consent thereunto, as if it should have been a
favor she asked, which indeed was rather a benefit conferred on us;
for nothing would serve my lord but that he should be at the entire
charge of the voyage, who smiling said, for such good company as he
should thus enjoy he should be willing to be taxed twice as much, and
yet consider himself to be the obliged party in this contract.

"But we must be married first," Basil bluntly said.

Lady Arundel replied that Father Southwell could perform the ceremony
when we pleased--yea, on the morrow, if it should be convenient; and
that my lord should be present thereat.

I said this should be very short notice, I thought, for to be married
the next day; upon which Basil exclaimed,

"These be not times, sweetheart, for ceremonies, fashions, and nice
delays. Methinks since our betrothal there hath been sufficient
waiting for to serve the turn of the nicest lady in the world in the
matter of reserves and yeas and nays."

Which is the sharpest thing, I think, Basil hath uttered to me either
before or since we have been married. So, to appease him, I said not
another word against this sudden wedding; and the next day but one, at
nine of the clock, was then fixed for the time thereof.

On the following morning Lord Arundel and Basil (the earl had
conceived a very great esteem and good disposition toward him; as
great, and greater he told me, as for some he had known for as many
years as him hours) went out together, under pretence of shooting in
the woods on the opposite side of the river about Leominster, but
verily to proceed to Littlehampton, where the earl had appointed to
meet the captain of the vessel--a Catholic man, the son of an old
retainer of his family--with whom he had dealt for the hiring of a
vessel for to sail to France as soon as the wind should prove
favorable. Whilst they were gone upon this business, Lady Arundel and
I sat in the chamber which looked into the court, making such simple
preparations as would escape notice for our wedding, and the departure
which should speedily afterward ensue.

"I will not yield thee," her ladyship said, "to be married except in a
white dress and veil, which I shall hide in a chamber nigh unto the
oratory, where I myself will attire thee, dear love; and see, this
morning early I went out alone into the garden and gathered this store
of rosemary, for to make thee a nosegay to wear in thy bosom. Father
Southwell saith it is used at weddings for an emblem of fidelity. If
so, who should have so good a right to it as my Constance and her
Basil? But I will lay it up in a casket, which shall conceal it the
while, and aid to retain the scent thereof."

"O dear lady," I cried, seizing her hands, "do you remember the day
when you plucked rosemary in our old garden at Sherwood, and smiling,
said to me, 'This meaneth remembrance?' Since it signifieth fidelity
also, well should you affection it; for where shall be found one so
faithful in love and friendship as you?"

"Weep not," she said, pressing her fingers on her eyelids to stay her
own tears. "We must needs thank God and be joyful on the eve of thy
wedding-day; and I am resolved to meet my lord also with a cheerful
countenance, so that not in gloom but in hope he shall leave his
native land."

In converse such as this the hours went swiftly by. Sometimes we
talked of the past, its many strange haps and changes; sometimes of
the future, forecasting the manner of our lives abroad, where in
safety, albeit in poverty, we hoped to spend our days. In  the
afternoon there arrived at the castle my Lord William Howard and his
wife and Lady Margaret Sackville, who, having notice of their
brother's intent to go beyond seas on the next day, if it should be
possible, had come for to bid him farewell.

Leaving Lady Arundel in their company, I went to the terrace
underneath the walls of the castle, and there paced up and down,
chewing the cud of both sweet and sad memories. I looked at the soft
blue sky and fleecy clouds, urged along by a westerly breeze
impregnated with a salt savor; on the emerald green of the fields, the
graceful forms of the leafless trees on the opposite hills, on the
cattle peacefully resting by the river-side. I listed to the rustling
of the wind amongst the bare branches over mine head, and the bells of
a church ringing far off in the valley. "O England, mine own England,
my fair native land--am I to leave thee, never to return?" I cried,
speaking aloud, as if to ease my oppressed heart. Then mine eyes
rested on the ruined hospital of the town, the shut-up churches, the
profaned sanctuaries, and thought flying beyond the seas to a Catholic
land, I exclaimed, "The sparrow shall find herself a house, and the
turtle-dove a nest for herself--the altars of the Lord of hosts, my
king and my God."

When Basil returned, he told me that the vessel which was to take us
to France was lying out at sea near the coast. Lord Arundel and
himself had gone in a boat to speak with the captain, who did seem a
particular honest man and zealous Catholic; and the earl had bespoken
some needful accommodation for Mistress Martingale, he said, smiling;
not very commodious, indeed, but as good as on board the like craft
could be expected. If the wind remained in the same quarter in the
afternoon of the morrow, we should then sail; if it should change, so
as to be most unfavorable, the captain should send private notice of
it to the castle.

The whole of that evening the earl spent in writing a letter to her
majesty. He feared that his enemies, after his departure, would, by
their slanderous reports, endeavor to disgrace him with the people,
and cause the queen to have sinister surmises of him. He confided this
letter to the Lady Margaret, his sister, to be delivered unto her
after his arrival in France; by which it might appear, both to her and
all others, what were the true causes which had moved him to undertake
that resolution.

I do often think of that evening in the great chamber of the
castle--the young earl in the vigorous strength and beauty of manhood,
his comely and fair face now bending over his writing, now raised with
a noble and manly grief, as he read aloud portions of it, which,
methinks, would have touched any hearts to hear them; and how much the
more that loving wife, that affectionate sister, that faithful
brother, those devoted friends which seemed to be in some sort
witnesses of his last will before a final parting! I mind me of the
sorrowful, dove-like sweetness of Lady Arundel's countenance; the
flashing eyes of Lady Margaret; the loving expression, veiled by a
studied hardness, of Lord William's face; of his wife my Lady Bess's
reddening cheek and tearful eyes, which she did conceal behind the
coif of her childish namesake sitting on her knees. When he had
finished his letter, with a somewhat moved voice the earl read the
last passages thereof: "If my protestation, who never told your
majesty any untruth, may carry credit in your opinion, I here call God
and his angels to witness that I would not have taken this course if I
might have stayed in England without danger of my soul or peril of my
life. I am enforced to forsake my country, to forget my friends, to
leave my wife, to lose the hope of all worldly pleasures and earthly
commodities. All this is so grievous to flesh and blood, that I could
not desire to live if I  were not comforted with the remembrance
of his mercy for whom I endure all this, who endured ten thousand
times more for me. Therefore I remain in assured hope that myself and
my cause shall receive that favor, conceit, and rightful construction
at your majesty's hands which I may justly challenge. I do humbly
crave pardon for my long and tedious letter, which the weightiness of
the matter enforced me unto; and I beseech God from the bottom of my
heart to send your majesty as great happiness as I wish to mine own
soul."

A time of silence followed the reading of these sentences, and then
the earl said in a cheerful manner:

"So, good Meg, I commit this protestation to thy good keeping. When
thou hearest of my safe arrival in France, then straightway see to
have it placed in the queen's hands."

The rest of the evening was spent in affectionate converse by these
near kinsfolk. Basil and I repaired the while by the secret passage to
Father Southwell's chamber, where we were in turn shriven, and
afterward received from him such good counsel and rules of conduct as
he deemed fitting for married persons to observe. Before I left him,
this good father gave me, writ in his own hand, some sweet verses
which he had that day composed for us, and which I do here transcribe.
He, smiling, said he had made mention of fishes in his poem, for to
pleasure so famous an angler as Basil; and of birds, for that he knew
me to be a great lover of these soaring creatures:

  "The lopped tree in time may grow again.
  Most naked plants renew both fruit and flower;
  The sorest wight may find release of pain.
  The driest soil suck in some moistening shower;
  Times go by turn, and chances change by course.
  From foul to fair, from better hap to worse.

  "The sea of fortune doth not over flow,
  She draws her favors to the lowest ebb;
  Her time hath equal times to come and go.
  Her loom doth weave the fine and coarsest web;
  No joy so great but runneth to an end.
  No hap so hard but may in fine amend.

  "A chance may win that by mischance was lost.
  The well that holds no great, takes little fish;
  In some things all, in all things none are crossed.
  Few all they need, but none have all they wish;
  Unmeddled joys here to no man befal,
  Who least have some, who most have never all.

  "Not always fall of leaf, nor ever spring;
  No endless night, yet not eternal day;
  The saddest birds a season find to sing;
  The roughest storm a calm may soon allay;
  Thus with succeeding turns God tempereth all,
  That man may hope to rise, yet fear to fall."

The common sheet of paper which doth contain this his writing hath a
greater value in mine eyes than the most rich gift that can be thought
of.

On the next morning. Lady Arundel conducted me from mine own chamber,
first into a room where with her own hands she arrayed me in my bridal
dress, and with many tender kisses and caresses, such as a sister or a
mother would bestow, testified her affection for her poor friend; and
thence to the oratory, where the altar was prepared, and by herself in
secret decked with early primroses, which had begun to show in the
woods and neath the hedges. A small but noble company were gathered
round us that day. From pure and holy lips the Church's benison came
to us. The vows we exchanged have been faithfully observed, and long
years have set a seal on the promises then made.

Basil's wife! Oh, what a whole compass of happiness did lie in those
two words! Yea, the waves of the sea might now rage and the winds
blow. The haven might be distant and the way thither insecure. Man's
enmity or accident might yet rob us each of the other's visible
presence. But naught could now sever the cord, strong like unto a
cable chain, which bound our souls in one. Anchored in that wedded
unity, which is one of God's sacraments, till death, ay, and beyond
death also, this tie should last.

We have been young, and now are old. We have lost country, home, and
almost every friend known and affectioned in our young years; but
 that deepest, holiest love, the type of Christ's union with his
Church, still doth shed its light over the evening of life. My dear
Basil, I am assured, thinks me as fair as when we did sit together
fishing on the banks of the Ouse; and his hoary head and withered
cheeks are more lovely in mine eyes than ever were his auburn locks
and ruddy complexion. One of us must needs die before the other,
unless we should be so happy that that good should befal us as to end
our days as two aged married persons I have heard of. It was the
husband's custom, as soon as ever he unclosed his eyes, to ask his
wife how she did; but one night, he being in a deep sleep, she quietly
departed toward the morning. He was that day to have gone out
a-hunting, and it was his custom to have his chaplain pray with him
before he went out. The women, fearful to surprise him with the ill
news, had stolen out and acquainted the chaplain, desiring him to
inform him of it. But the gentleman waking did not on that day, as was
his custom ask for his wife, but called his chaplain to prayers, and,
joining with him, in the midst of the prayer expired, and both were
buried in the same grave. Methinks this should be a very desirable
end, only, if it pleased God, I would wish to have the last
sacraments, and then to die just before Basil, when his time cometh.
But God knoweth best; and any ways we are so old and so near of an
age, one cannot tarry very long behind when the other is gone.

Being at rest after our marriage touching what concerned ourselves,
compassion for Lady Arundel filled our hearts. Alas! how bravely and
how sweetly she bore this parting grief. Her intense love for her
lord, and sorrow at their approaching separation, struggled with her
resolve not to sadden their last hours, which were prolonged beyond
expectancy. For once on that day, and twice on that which followed,
when all was made ready for departure, a message came from the captain
for to say the wind, and another time the tide, would not serve; and
albeit each time, like a reprieved person, Lady Arundel welcomed the
delay, methinks these retardments served to increase her sufferings.
Little Bess hung fondly on her father's neck the last time he returned
from Littlehampton with the tidings the vessel would not sail for some
hours, kissing his face and playing with his beard.

"Ah, dearest Phil!" her mother cried, "the poor babe rejoiceth in the
sight of thee, all unwitting in her innocent glee of the shortness of
this joy. Howsoever, methinks five or six hours of it is a boon for to
thank God for;" and so putting her arm in his, she led him away to a
solitary part of the garden, where they walked to and fro, she, as she
hath since written to me, starting each time the clock did strike,
like one doomed to execution. Methinks there was this difference
between them, that he was full of hope and bright forecastings of a
speedy reunion; but on her soul lay a dead, mournful despondency,
which she hid by an apparent calmness. When, late in the evening, a
third message came for to say the ship could not depart that night, I
begun to think it would never go at all. I saw Basil looked at the
weathercock and shrugged his shoulders, as if the same thought was in
his mind. But when I spake of it, he said seafaring folks had a
knowledge in these matters which others did not possess, and we must
needs be patient under these delays. Howsoever, at three o'clock in
the morning the shipman signified that the wind was fit and all in
readiness. So we rose in haste and prepared for to depart. The
countess put her arms about my neck, and this was the last embrace I
ever had of her. My lord's brother and sisters hung about him awhile
in great grief. Then his wife put out her hands to him, and, with a
sorrow too deep for speech, fixed her eyes on his visage.


"Cheep up, sweetest wife," I heard him say. "Albeit nature suffers in
this severance from my native land, my true home shall be wherever it
shall please God to bring thee and me and our children together. God
defend the loss of this world's good should make us sad, if we be but
once so blessed as to meet again where we may freely serve him."

Then, after a long and tender clasping of her to his breast, he tore
himself away and getting on a horse rode to the coast. Basil and I,
with Mr. William Bray and Mr. Burlace, drove in a coach to the port.
It was yet dark, and a heavy mist hung on the valley. Folks were yet
abed, and the shutters of the houses closed, as we went down the hill
through the town. After crossing the bridge over the Arun the air felt
cold and chill. At the steep ascent near Leominster I put my head out
of the window for to look once more at the castle, but the fog was too
thick. At the port the coach stopped, and a boat was found waiting for
us. Lord Arundel was seated in it, with his face muffled in a cloak.
The savor of the sea air revived my spirits; and when the boat moved
off, and I felt the waves lifting it briskly, and with my hand in
Basil's I looked on the land we were leaving, and then on the watery
world before us, a singular emotion filled my soul, as if it was some
sort of death was happening to me--a dying to the past, a gliding on
to an unknown future on a pathless ocean, rocked peacefully in the
arms of his sheltering love, even as this little bark which carried us
along was lifted up and caressed by the waves of the deep sea.

When we reached the vessel the day was dawning. The sun soon emerged
from a bank of clouds, and threw its first light on the rippling
waters. A favoring wind filled our sails, and like a bird on the wing
the ship bounded on its way till the flat shore at Littlehampton and
the far-off white cliffs to the eastward were well-nigh lost sight of.
Lord Arundel stood with Basil on the narrow deck, gazing at the
receding coast.

"How sweet the air doth blow from England!" he said; "how blue the sky
doth appear to-day! and those saucy seagulls how free and happy they
do look!" Then he noticed some fishing-boats, and with a telescope he
had in his hand discerned various ships very far off. Afterward he
came and sat down by my side, and spoke in a cheerful manner of his
wife and the simple home he designed for her abroad. "Some years ago,
Mistress Constance," he said--and then smiling, added, "My tongue is
not yet used to call you Mistress Rookwood--when my sweet Nan, albeit
a wife, was yet a simple child, she was wont to say, 'Phil, would we
were farmers! You would plough the fields and cut wood in the forest,
and I should milk the cows and feed the poultry.' Well, methinks her
wish may yet come to pass. In Brittany or Normandy some little
homestead should shelter us, where Bess shall roll on the grass and
gather the fallen apples, and on Sundays put on her bravest clothes
for to go to mass. What think you thereof, Mistress Constance? and who
knoweth but you and your good husband may also dwell in the same
village, and some eighteen or twenty years hence a gay wedding for to
take place betwixt one Master Rookwood and one Lady Ann or Margaret
Howard, or my Lord Maltravers with one Mistress Constance or Muriel
Rookwood? And on the green on such a day, Nan and Basil and you and I
should lead the brawls."

"Methinks, my lord," I answered, smiling, "you do forecast too great a
condescension on your part, and too much ambition on our side, in the
planning of such a union."

"Well, well," he said; "if your good husband carrieth not beyond seas
with him the best earl's title in England, I'll warrant you in God's
sight he weareth a higher one far  away--the merit of an
unstained life and constant nobility of action; and I promise you,
beside, he will be the better farmer of the twain; so that in the
matter of tocher, Mistress Rookwood should exceed my Lady Bess or Ann
Howard."

With such-like talk as this time was whiled away; and whilst we were
yet conversing I noticed that Basil spoke often to the captain and
looked for to be watching a ship yet at some distance, but which
seemed to be gaining on us. Lord Arundel, perceiving it, then also
joined them, and inquired what sort of craft it should be. The captain
professed to be ignorant thereof; and when Basil said it looked like a
small ship-of-war, and as there were many dangerous pirates about the
Channel it should be well to guard against it, he assented thereto,
and said he was prepared for defence.

"With such unequal means," Basil replied, "as it is like we should
bring to a contest, speed should serve us better than defence."

"But," quoth Lord Arundel, "she is, 'tis plain, a swifter sailer than
this one we are in. God's will be done, but 'tis a heavy misfortune if
a pirate at this time do attack us, and so few moneys with us for to
spare!"

Now none of our eyes could detach themselves from this pursuing
vessel. The captain eluded further talk, on pretence for to give
orders and move some guns he had aboard on deck; but it was vain for
to think of a handful of men untrained to sea-warfare encountering a
superior force, such as this ship must possess, if its designs should
be hostile. As it moved nigher to us, we could perceive it to be well
manned and armed. And the captain then exclaimed:

"'Tis Keloway's ship!"

This man was of a notorious, infamous life, well known for his
sea-robberies and depredations in the Channel.

"God yield," murmured the earl, "he shall content himself with the
small sum we can deliver to him and not stay us any further."

A moment afterward we were boarded by this man, who, with his crew,
thrice as numerous as ours and armed to the teeth, comes on our deck
and takes possession of the ship. Straightway he walks to the earl and
tells him he doth know him, and had watched his embarkation, being
resolved to follow him and exact a good ransom at his hands, which if
he would pay without contention, he should himself, without further
stop or stay, pass him and his two gentlemen into France, adding, he
should take no less from him than one hundred pounds.

"I have not so much, or near unto it, with me," Lord Arundel said.

"But you can write a word or two to any friend of yours from whom I
may receive it." quoth Keloway.

"Well," said the earl, "seeing I have pressing occasion for to go to
France, and would not be willingly delayed, I must needs consent to
your terms, no choice therein being allowed me. Get me some paper," he
said to Mr. William Bray.

"Should this be prudent, my lord?" Basil whispered in his ear.

"There is no help for it, Master Rookwood," the earl replied. "Beside,
there is honor even amongst thieves. Once secure of his money, this
man hath no interest in detaining us, but rather the contrary."

And without further stopping, he hastily wrote a few lines to his
sister the Lady Margaret Sackville, in London, that she should speak
to Mr. Bridges, _alias_ Grately, a priest, to give one hundred pounds
to the bearer thereof, by the token that was between them, that _black
is white_, and withal assured her that he now certainly hoped to have
speedy passage without impediment. As soon as this paper was put into
Kelloway's hand, he read it, and immediately called on his men for to
arrest the Earl of Arundel, producing an order from the queen's
council for to prove he  was appointed to watch there for him,
and carry him back again to land where her majesty's officers did
await him.

An indescribable anguish seized my heart; an overwhelming grief, such
as methinks no other event, howsoever sad or tragical, or yet more
nearly touching me, had ever wrought in my soul, which I ascribe to a
presentiment that this should be the first link of that long chain of
woes which was to follow.

"O, my lord!" I exclaimed, almost falling at his feet, "God help you
to bear this too heavy blow!"

He took me by the hand; and never till I die shall I lose the memory
of the sweet serenity and noble steadfastness of his visage in this
trying hour.

"God willeth it," he gently said; "his holy will be done! He will work
good out of what seemeth evil to us." And then gaily added, "We had
thought to travel the same way; now we must needs journey apart. Never
fear, good friends, but both roads shall lead to heaven, if we do but
tread them piously. My chief sorrow is for Nan; but her virtue is so
great, that affliction will never rob her of such peace as God only
giveth."

Then this angelic man, forecasting for his friends in the midst of
this terrible mishap, passed into Basil's hands his pocket-book, and
said, "This shall pay your voyage, good friend; and if aught doth
remain afterward, let the poor have their share of it, for a
thank-offering, when you reach the shore in safety."

Basil, I saw, could not speak; his heart was too full. O, what a
parting ensued on that sad ocean whose waves had seemed to dance so
joyously a short space before! With what aching hearts we pressed the
young earl's hand, and watched him pass into the other ship,
accompanied by his two gentlemen, which were with him arrested! No
heed was taken of us; and Kelloway, having secured his prey, abandoned
our vessel, the captain of which seemed uneasy and ill-disposed to
speak with us. We did then suspect, which doubt hath been since
confirmed, that this seeming honest Catholic man had acted a traitor's
part, and that those many delays had been used for the very purpose of
staying Lord Arundel until such time as all was prepared for his
capture. The wind, which was in our favor, bore us swiftly toward the
French coast; and we soon lost sight of the vessel which carried the
earl back to the shores of England. Fancy, you who read, what pictures
we needs must then have formed of that return; of the dismal news
reaching the afflicted wife, the sad sister, the mournful brother, and
friends now scattered apart, so lately clustered round him! Alas! when
we landed in France, at the port of Calais, the sense of our own
safety was robbed of half its joy by fears and sorrowing for the dear
friends whose fortunes have proved so dissimilar to our own.


CHAPTER XXVIII.

The deep clear azure of the French sky, the lightsome pure air, the
quaint houses, and outlandish dresses of the people in Calais; the
sound of a foreign tongue understood, but not familiar, for a brief
time distracted my mind from painful themes. Basil led me to the
church for to give thanks to God for his mercies to us, and mostly did
it seem strange to me to enter an edifice in which he is worshipped in
a Catholic manner, which yet hath the form and appearance of a church,
and resembles not the concealed chambers in our country wherein mass
is said; an open visible house for the King of kings, not a
hiding-place, as in England. After we had prayed there a short time,
Basil put into a box at the entrance the money which Lord Arundel had
designed for the poor. A pale thin man stood at the door, which, when
we passed, said, "God  bless you!" Basil looked earnestly at him,
and then exclaimed, "As I live, Mr. Watson!" "Yea," the good man
answered, "the same, or rather the shadow of the same, risen at the
last from the bed of sickness. O Mr. Rookwood, I am glad to see you!"
"And so am I to meet with you, Mr. Watson," Basil answered; and then
told this dear friend who I was, and the sad hap of Lord Arundel,
which moved in him a great concern for that young nobleman and his
excellent lady. Many tokens of regard and interchange of information
passed between us. He showed us where he lived, in a small cottage
near unto the ramparts; and nothing would serve him but to gather for
me in the garden a nosegay of early flowerets which just had raised
their heads above the sod. He said Dr. Allen had sent him money in his
sickness, and an English lady married to a French gentleman provided
for his wants. "Ah! that was the good madame I told you of," Basil
cried, turning to me; "who would have harbored . . . ." Then he
stopped short; but Mr. Watson had caught his meaning, and with tears
in his eyes said: "Fear not to speak of her whose death bought my
life, and it may be also my soul's safety. For, God knoweth, the
thought of her doth never forsake me so much as for one hour;" and
thereupon we parted with much kindness on both sides. That night we
lay at a small hostelry in the town; and the next morning hired a cart
with one horse, which carried us to Boulogne in one day, and thence to
this village, where we have lived since for many years in great peace.
I thank God, and very much contentment of mind, and no regrets save
such as do arise in the hearts of exiles without hope of return to a
beloved native country.

The awaiting of tidings from England, which were long delayed, was at
the first a very sore trial, and those which reached us at last yet
more grievous than that suspense. Lord Arundel committed to the Tower;
his brother the Lord William and his sister the Lady Margaret not long
after arrested, which was more grief to him, his lady wrote to me,
than all his own troubles and imprisonment. But, O my God! how well
did that beginning match with what was to follow! Those ten years
which were spent amidst so many sufferings of all sorts by these two
noble persons, that the recital of them would move to pity the most
strong heart.

Mine own sorrows, leastways all sharp ones, ended with my passage into
France. If Basil showed himself a worthy lover, he hath proved a yet
better husband. His nature doth so delight in doing good that it wins
him the love of all our neighbors. His life is a constant exercise of
charity. He is most indulgent to his wife and kind to his children, of
which it hath pleased God to give him three--one boy and two girls, of
as comely visages and commendable dispositions as can reasonably be
desired. He hath a most singular affection for all such as do suffer
for their religion, and cherishes them with an extraordinary bounty to
the limits of his ability; his house being a common resort for all
banished Catholics which land at Boulogne, from whence he doth direct
them to such persons as can assist them in their need. His love toward
my unworthy self hath never decreased. Methinks it rather doth
increase as we advance in years. We have ever been actuated as by one
soul; and never have any two wills agreed so well as Basil's and mine
in all aims in this world and hopes for the next. If any, in the
reading of this history, have only cared for mine own haps, I pray
them to end their perusal of it here; but if, even as my heart hath
been linked from early years with Lady Arundel's, there be any in
which my poor writing hath awakened somewhat of that esteem for her
virtues and resentment of her sorrows which hath grown in me from long
experience of her singular worth;  if the noble atonement for
youthful offences and follies already shown in her lord's return to
his duty to her, and altered behavior in respect to God, hath also
moved them to desire a further knowledge of the manner in which these
two exalted souls were advanced by long affliction to a high point of
perfection--then to such the following pages shall not be wholly
devoid of that interest which the true recital of great misfortune
doth habitually carry with it. If none other had written the life of
that noble lady, methinks I must have essayed to do it; but having
heard that a good clergyman hath taken this task in hand, secretly
preparing materials whilst she yet lives wherewith to build her a
memorial at a future time, I have restrained myself to setting down
what, by means of her own writing or the reports of others, hath
reached my knowledge concerning the ten years which followed my last
parting with her. This was the first letter I received from this
afflicted lady after her lord's arrest:

  "O MY DEAR FRIEND--What days these have proved! Believe me, I
  never looked for a favorable issue of this enterprise. When I first
  had notice thereof, a notable chill fell on my soul, which never
  warmed again with hope. When I began to pray after hearing of it, I
  had what methinks the holy Juliana of Norwich (whose cell we did
  once visit together, as I doubt not thou dost remember) would have
  called a foreshowing, or, as others do express it, a presentiment of
  coming evil. But how soon the effect followed! I had retired to rest
  at nine of the clock; and before I was undressed Bertha came in with
  a most downcast countenance. 'What news is there?' I quickly asked,
  misdoubting some misfortune had happened. Then she began to weep.
  'Is my lord taken?' I cried, 'or worse befallen him?' 'He is taken,'
  she answered, 'and is now being carried to London for to be
  committed to the Tower. Master Ralph, the port-master, hath brought
  the news. A man, an hour ago, had reported as much in the town; but
  Mr. Fawcett would not suffer your ladyship to be told of it before a
  greater certainty thereof should appear. O woe be the day my lord
  ever embarked!' Then I heard sounds of wailing and weeping in the
  gallery; and opening the door, found Bessy's nurse and some other of
  the servants lamenting in an uncontrolled fashion. I could not shed
  one tear, but gave orders they should fetch unto me the man which
  had brought the tidings. From him I heard more fully what had
  happened; and then, in the same composed manner, desired my coach
  and horses for to be made ready to take me to London the next day at
  daybreak, and dismissed everybody, not suffering so much as one
  woman to sit up with me. When all had retired, I put on my cloak and
  hood; and listing first if all was quiet, went by the secret passage
  to the chapel-room. When I got there, Father Southwell was in it,
  saying his office. When he saw me enter at that unusual hour,
  methinks the truth was made known to him at once; for he only took
  me by the hand, and said: 'My child, this would be too hard to bear
  if it were not God's sweet will; but being so, what remaineth but to
  lie still under a Father's merciful infliction?' and then he took
  out the crucifix, which for safety was locked up, and set it on the
  altar. 'That shall speak to you better than I can,' he said; and
  verily it did; for at the sight of my dying Saviour I wept. The
  whole night was spent in devout exercises. At dawn of day Father
  Southwell said mass, and I received. Then, before any one was astir,
  I returned to mine own chamber, and, lying down for a few moments,
  afterward rung the bell, and ordered horses to be procured for to
  travel to London, whence I write these lines. I have here heard this
  report of my dear lord's journey from one which conversed with Sir
  George Carey,  who commanded the guard which conducted him, that he
  was nothing at all daunted with so unexpected a misfortune, and not
  only did endure it with great patience and courage, but, moreover,
  carried it with a joyful and merry countenance. One night in the way
  he lodged at Guildford, where seeing the master of the inn (who
  sometime was our servant, and who hath written it to one of my
  women, his sister), and some others who wished well unto him,
  weeping and sorrowing for his misfortunes, he comforted them all,
  and willed them to be of good cheer, because it was not for any
  crime--treason or the like--he was apprehended, but only
  for attempting to leave the kingdom, the which he had done only for
  his own safety. He is soon to be examined by some of the council
  sent to the Tower for this special purpose by the queen. I have
  sought to obtain access to him, but been flatly reused, and a hint
  ministered to me that albeit my residence at Arundel House is
  tolerated at the present, if the queen should come to stay at
  Somerset House, which she is soon like to do, my departure hence
  shall be enforced; but while I remain I would fain do some good to
  persons afflicted as myself. I pray you, my good Constance, when you
  find some means to despatch me a letter, therewith to send the names
  and addresses of some of the poor folks Muriel was wont to visit;
  for I am of opinion grief should not make us selfish, but rather
  move us to relieve in others the pains of which we feel the sharp
  edge ourselves. I have already met by accident with many necessitous
  persons, and they do begin in great numbers to resort to this house.
  God knoweth if the means to relieve them will not be soon lacking.
  But to make hay whilst the sun shines is a wise saying, and in some
  instances a precept. Alas! the sunshine of joy is already obscured
  for me. Except for these poor pensioners, that of fortune causeth me
  small concern.--
  Thy loving friend, A. A. and S."

"Will and Meg are at present in separate prisons. It is impossible but
that she shall be presently released; for against her nothing can be
alleged, so much as to give a pretence for an accusation. My lord and
Will's joint letter to Dr. Allen, sent by Mr. Brydges--who, out of
confidence, mentioned it to Mr. Gifford, a pretended priest, who lives
at Paris, and is now discovered to be a spy--is the ground of the
charges against them. How utterly unfounded thou well knowest; but so
much as to write to Dr. Allen is now a crime, howsoever innocent the
matter of such a correspondence should be. I do fear that in one of
his letters--but I wot not if of this they have possession--my lord,
who had just heard that the Earl of Leicester had openly vowed to make
the name of Catholic as odious in England as the name of Turk, did
say, in manner of a jest, that if some lawful means might be found to
take away this earl, it would be a great good for Catholics in
England; which careless sentence may be twisted by his enemies to his
disadvantage."

Some time afterward, a person passing from London to Rheims, brought
me this second letter from her ladyship, written at Rumford, in Essex:

"What I have been warned of verily hath happened. Upon the queen's
coming to London last month, it was signified to me I should leave it.
Now that Father Southwell hath been removed from Arundel Castle, and
no priest at this time can live in it, I did not choose to be
delivered there, without the benefit of spiritual assistance in case
of danger of death, and so hired a house in this town, at a short
distance of which a recusant gentleman doth keep one in his house. I
came from London without obtaining leave so much as once to see my
dear husband, or to send him a letter or message, or receive one from
him. But this I have learnt, that he cannot speak with any person
whatsoever but in the presence and hearing of his  keeper or the
lieutenant of the Tower, and that the room in which he is locked up
has no sight of the sun for the greatest part of the year; so that if
not changed before the winter cometh it shall prove very unwholesome;
and moreover the noisomeness thereof caused by a vault that is under
it is so great that the keeper can scarce endure to enter into it,
much less to stay there any time. Alas! what ravages shall this
treatment cause on a frame of great niceness and delicate habits, I
leave you to judge. By this time he hath been examined twice; and
albeit forged letters were produced, the falsity of which the council
were forced to admit, and he was charged with nothing which could be
substantiated, except leaving the realm without license of the queen,
and being reconciled to the Church of Rome, his sentence is yet
deferred, and his imprisonment as strict as ever. I pray God it may
not be deferred till his health is utterly destroyed, which, I doubt
not, is what his enemies would most desire.

"Last evening I had the exceeding great comfort of the coming hither
of mine own dear good Meg, who hath been some time released from
prison, with many vexatious restraints, howsoever, still laid upon
her. Albeit very much advanced in her pregnancy, nothing would serve
her when she had leave to quit London but to do me this good. This is
the first taste of joy I have had since my lord's commitment. In her
face I behold his; when she speaks I hear him. No talk is ministered
between us but of that beloved husband and brother; our common prayers
are put up for him. She hath spied his spies for to discover all which
relates to him, and hath found means to convey to him--I thank God for
it--some books of devotion, which he greatly needed. She is yet a-bed
this morning, for we sat up late yester-eve, so sweet, albeit sad, was
the converse we held after so many common sufferings. But methinks I
grudge her these hours of sleep, longing for to hear again those loved
accents which mind me of my dear Phil.

"My pen had hardly traced those last words, when a messenger arrived
from the council with an express command to Margaret from her majesty
not to stay with me another night, but forthwith to return to London.
The surprise and fear which this message occasioned hastened the event
which should have yet been delayed some weeks. A few hours after (I
thank God, in safety) a fair son was born; but in the mother's heart
and mine apprehension dispelled joy, lest enforced disobedience should
produce fresh troubles. Howsoever, she recovered quickly; and as soon
as she could be removed I lost her sweet company. Thine affectionate
friend to command,

"A. A. AND S."

Some time afterward, one Mr. Dixon, a gentleman I had met once or
twice in London, tarried a night at our house, and brought me the news
that God had given the Countess of Arundel a son, which she had
earnestly desired her husband should be informed of, but he heard it
had been refused. Howsoever, when he was urgent with his keepers to
let him know if she had been safely delivered, they gave him to
understand that she had another daughter; his enemies not being
willing he should have so much contentment as the birth of a son
should have yielded him.

"Doth the queen," I asked of this gentleman, "then not mitigate her
anger against these noble persons?"

"So far from it," he answered, "that when, at the beginning of this
trouble, Lady Arundel went to Sir Francis Knowles for to seek by his
means to obtain an audience from her majesty, in order to sue for her
husband, he told her she would sooner release him at once--which,
howsoever, she had no mind to do--than only once allow her to enter
her presence. He then, her ladyship told me, rated her exceedingly,
asking if she and her husband were not ashamed to make themselves
 papists, only out of spleen and peevish humor to cross and vex
the queen? She answered him in the same manner as her lord did one of
his keepers, who told him very many in the kingdom were of opinion
that he made show to be Catholic only out of policy; to whom he said,
with great mildness, that God doth know the secrets of all hearts, but
that he thought there was small policy for a man to lose his liberty,
hazard his estate and life, and live in that manner in a prison as he
then did."

A brief letter from Lady Tregony informed me soon after this that,
after a third examination, the court had fined Lord Arundel in £10,000
unto the queen and adjudged him to imprisonment during her pleasure.
What that pleasure proved, ten years of unmitigated suffering and slow
torture evinced; one of the most grievous of which was that his lady
could never obtain for to see him, albeit other prisoners' wives had
easy access to them. This touching letter I had from her three years
after he was imprisoned:

"MINE OWN GOOD FRIEND--Life doth wear on, and relief of one sort
leastways comes not; but God forbid I should repine. For such
instances I see in the letters of my dear lord--which when some of
his servants do leave the Tower, which, worn out as they soon become
by sickness, they must needs do to preserve their lives--he findeth
means to write to me or to Father Southwell, that I am ashamed to
grieve overmuch at anything which doth befal us--when his willingness
and contentment to suffer are so great. As when he saith to that good
father, 'For all crosses touching worldly matters, I thank God they
trouble me not much, and much the less for your singular good counsel,
which I beseech our Lord I may often remember; and to me this dear
husband writes thus: 'I beseech you, for the love of God, to comfort
yourself whatsoever shall happen, and to be best pleased with that
which shall please God best, and be his will to send. I find that
there is some intent to do me no good, but indeed to do me the most
good of all; but I am--and, thank God, doubt not but I shall be by his
grace--ready to endure the worst which flesh and blood can do unto
me.' O Constance, flesh and blood doth sometimes rebel against the
keen edge of suffering; but I pray you, my friend, how can I complain
when I hear of this much, long dearly cherished husband, ascending by
steps the ladder of perfection, advancing from virtue to virtue as the
psalm saith, never uttering one unsubmissive word toward God, or one
resentful one toward his worst enemies; making, in the most sublime
manner, of necessity virtue, and turning his loathsome prison into a
religious cell, wherein every exercise of devotion is duly practised,
and his soul trained for heaven?

"The small pittance the queen alloweth for his maintenance he so
sparingly useth, that most of it doth pass into the hands of the poor
or other more destitute prisoners than himself. But sickness and
disease prey on his frame. And the picture of him my memory draweth is
gradually more effaced in the living man, albeit vivid in mine own
portraying of it.

There is now a priest imprisoned in the Tower, not very far from the
chamber wherein my lord is confined; one of the name of Bennet. My
lord desired much to meet him, and speak with him for the comfort of
his soul, and I have found means to bring it to effect by mediation of
the lieutenant's daughter, to whom I have given thirty pounds for her
endeavors in procuring it. And moreover she hath assisted in conveying
into his chamber church-stuff and all things requisite for the saying
of mass, whereunto she tells me, to my indescribable comfort, he
himself doth serve with great humility, and therein receives the
blessed sacrament frequently. Sir Thomas Gerard, she saith, and Mr.
Shelly, which are likewise prisoners at this time, she introduces
secretly into his lodgings for to hear mass and have speech with
him. Alas! what should be a comfort to him, and so the greatest of
joys to me, the exceeding peril of these times causeth me to look upon
with apprehension; for these gentlemen, albeit well disposed, are not
famed for so much wisdom and prudence as himself, in not saying or
doing anything which might be an occasion of danger to him; and the
least lack of wariness, when there is so much discourse about the
great Spanish fleet which is now in preparation, should prove like to
be fatal. God send no worse hap befal us soon.

"In addition to these other troubles and fears, I am much molested by
a melancholy vapor, which ascends to my head, and greatly troubles me
since I was told upon a sudden of the unexpected death of Margaret
Sackville, whom, for her many great virtues and constant affection
toward myself, I did so highly esteem and affection."


From that time for a long while I had no direct news of Lady Arundel;
but report brought us woful tidings concerning her lord, who, after
many private examinations, had been brought from the Tower to the
King's Bench Court, in the hall of Westminster, and there publicly
arraigned on the charge of high treason, the grounds of which
accusation being that he had prayed and procured others to make
simultaneous prayer for twenty-four hours, and procured Mr. Bennet to
say a mass of the Holy Ghost, for the success of the Spanish fleet.
Whereas the whole truth of this matter consisted in this, that when a
report became current among the Catholics about London that a sudden
massacre of them all was intended upon the first landing of the
Spaniards, this coming to the earl's ear, he judged it necessary that
all Catholics should betake themselves to prayer, either for the
avoiding of the danger or for the better preparing themselves
thereunto, and so persuaded those in the Tower to make prayer together
for that end, and also sent to some others for the same purpose,
whereof one of greater prudence and experience than the rest signified
unto him that perhaps it might be otherwise interpreted by their
enemies than he intended, wishing him to desist, as presently
thereupon he did; but it was then too late. Some which he had trusted,
either out of fear or fair promises, testified falsely against him--of
which Mr. Bennet was one, who afterward retracted with bitter anguish
his testimony, in a letter to his lordship, which contained these
words: "With a fearful, guilty, unjust, and most tormented conscience,
only for saving of my life and liberty, I said you moved me to say a
mass for the good success of the Spanish fleet. For which unjust
confession, or rather accusation, I do again and again, and to my
life's end, most instantly crave God's pardon and yours; and for my
better satisfaction of this, my unjust admission, I will, if need
require, offer up both life and limbs in averring my accusation to be,
as it is indeed, and as I shall answer before God, angels, and men,
most unjust, and only done out of fear of the Tower, torments, and
death." Notwithstanding the earl's very stout and constant denial of
the charge, and pleading the above letter of Mr. Bennet, retracting
his false statement, he was condemned of high treason, and had
sentence pronounced against him. But the execution was deferred, and
finally the queen resolved to spare his life, but yet by no means to
release him. His estates, and likewise his lady's, were forfeited to
the crown, and he at that time dealt with most unkindly, as the
following letter will show:

"DEAR CONSTANCE--At last I have found the means of sending a packet by
a safe hand, which in these days, when men do so easily turn
traitors--notable instances of which, to our exceeding pain and
trouble, have lately occurred--is no easy matter. I doubt not but thy
fond affectionate heart hath followed with a sympathetic grief the
anguish of mine  during the time past, wherein my husband's life
hath been in daily peril; and albeit he is now respited, yet, alas! as
he saith himself, and useth the knowledge to the best purpose, he is
but a doomed man; reprieved, not pardoned; spared, not released. Mine
own troubles beside have been greater than can be thought of; by
virtue of the forfeiture of my lord's estates and mine, my home hath
been searched by justices, and no room, no corner, no trunk or coffer,
left unopened and unransacked. I have often been brought before the
council and most severely examined. The queen's officers and others in
authority--to whom I am sometimes forced to sue for favor, or some
mitigation of mine own or my lord's sufferings--do use me often very
harshly, and reject my petitions with scorn and opprobrious language.
All our goods are seized for the queen. They have left me nothing but
two or three beds, and these, they do say, but for a time. When
business requires, I am forced to go on foot, and slenderly attended;
my coach being taken from me. I have retained but two of my servants
--my children's nurse being one. I have as yet no allowance, as is
usual in such cases, for the maintenance of my family; so I am forced
to pay them and buy victuals with the money made by the sale of mine
own jewels; and I am sometimes forced to borrow and make hard shifts
to procure necessary provisions and clothes for the children; but if I
get eight pounds a week, which the queen hath been moved to allow me,
then methinks I shall think myself no poorer than a Christian woman
should be content to be; and I have promised Almighty God, if that
good shall befal us, to bestow one hundred marks out of it yearly on
the poor. I am often sent out of London by her majesty's commands,
albeit some infirmities I do now suffer from force me to consult
physicians there. Methinks when I am at Arundel House I am not wholly
parted from my lord, albeit my humble petition, by means of friends,
to see him is always denied. When I hear he is sick, mine anguish
increases. The like favor is often granted to Lady Latimore and others
whose husbands are at this time prisoners in the Tower, but I can
never obtain it. The lieutenant's daughter, whom I do sometimes see,
when she is in a conversible mood doth inform me of my dear husband's
condition, and relates instances of his goodness and patience which
wring and yet comfort mine heart. What think you of his never having
been heard so much as once to complain of the loss of his goods or the
incommodities of his prison; of his gentleness and humility where he
is himself concerned; of his boldness in defending his religion and
her ministers, which was alike shown, as well as his natural
cheerfulness, in a conversation she told me had passed between her
father, the lieutenant, and him, a few days ago? You have heard, I
ween, that good Father Southwell was arrested some time back at Mr.
Bellamy's house; it is reported by means of the poor unhappy soul his
daughter, whom I met one day at the door of the prison, attired in a
gaudy manner and carrying herself in a bold fashion; but when she met
mine eye hers fell. Alas! poor soul, God help her and bring her to
repentance. Well, now Father Southwell is in the Tower, my lord, by
Miss Hopton's melons, hath had once or twice speech with him, and doth
often inquire of the lieutenant about him, which when he did so the
other day he used the words 'blessed father' in speaking of him. The
lieutenant (she said) seemed to take exception thereat, saying, 'Term
you him blessed father, being as he is an enemy to his country?' My
lord answered: 'How can that be, seeing yourself hath told me
heretofore that no fault could be laid unto him but his religion?'
Then the lieutenant said: 'The last time I was in his cell your dog,
my lord, came in and licked his hand,' Then quoth my lord,
patting his dog fondly: 'I love him the better for it.' 'Perhaps,'
quoth the lieutenant in a scoffing manner, it might be he came thither
to have his blessing.' To which my lord replied, 'It is no new thing
for animals to seek a blessing at the hands of holy men, St. Jerome
writing how the lions which had digged St. Paul the hermit's grave
stood waiting with their eyes upon St. Anthony expecting his
blessing.'

'Is it not a strange trial, mine own Constance, and one which hath not
befallen many women, to have a fondly loved husband yet alive, and to
be sometimes so near unto him that it should take but a few moments to
cross the space which doth divide us, and yet never behold him; year
after year passing away, and the heart waxing sick with delays?
Howsoever, one sad firm hope I hold, which keepeth me somewhat careful
of my health, lest I should be disabled when that time cometh--one on
which I fix my mind with apprehension and desire to defer the approach
thereof, yet pray one day to see it--yea, to live long enough for this
and then to die, if it shall please God. When mine own Philip is on
his death-bed, when the slow consumptive disease which devoureth his
vitals obtaineth its end, then, I ween, no woman upon earth, none that
I ever heard of or could think of, can deny me to approach him and
receive his last embrace. Oh that this should be my best comfort, mine
only hope!"

I pass over many intervening letters from this afflicted lady which at
distant intervals I received, in one of which she expressed her sorrow
at the execution at Tyburn of her constant friend and guide, Father
Southwell, and likewise informed me of Mistress Wells's death in
Newgate, and transcribe this one, written about six months afterward,
in which she relates the closing scene of her husband's life:

"MINE OWN DEAR CONSTANCE--All is over now, and my overcharged heart
casteth about for some alleviation in its excessive grief, which may
be I shall find in imparting to one well acquainted with his virtues
and my love for him what I have learnt touching the closing scenes of
my dear lord's mortal life. For think not I have been so happy as to
behold him again, or that he should die in my arms. No; that which was
denied me for ten long years neither could his dying prayers obtain.
For many months notice had been given unto me by his servants and
others that his health was very fast declining. One gentleman
particularly told me he himself believed his end to be near. His
devout exercises were yet increased--the bent of his mind more and
more directed solely toward God and heaven. In those times which were
allotted to walking or other recreation, his discourse and
conversation either with his keeper or the lieutenant or his own
servant, was either tending to piety or some kind of profitable
discourse, most often of the happiness of those that suffer anything
for our Saviour's sake; to which purpose he had writ with his own hand
upon the wall of his chamber this Latin sentence, 'Quanto plus
afflictionis pro Christo in hoc saeculo, tanto plus gloriae cum
Christo in futuro;' the which he used to show to his servants,
inviting them, as well as himself, to suffer all with patience and
alacrity.

"In the month of August tidings were brought unto me that, sitting at
dinner, he had fallen so very ill immediately upon the eating of a
roasted teal, that some did suspect him to be poisoned. I sent him
some antidotes, and all the remedies I could procure; but all in vain.
The disease had so possessed him that it could not be removed, but by
little and little consumed his body, so that he became like an
anatomy, having nothing left but skin and bone. Much talk hath been
ministered anent his being poisoned. Alas! my thinking is, and ever
shall be, the slow poison he died of was lack of air, of sunshine, of
kindness,  of loving aid, of careful sympathy. When I heard his
case was considered desperate, the old long hopes, sustained for ten
years, that out of the extremity of grief one hour of comfort should
arise, woke up; but now I was advised not to stir in this matter
myself, for it should only incense the queen, who had always hated me;
whereas my lord she once had liked, and it might be, when she heard he
was dying, she should relent. She had made a kind of promise to some
of his friends that before his death his wife and children should come
unto him; whereupon, conceiving that now his time in the world could
not be long, he writ a humble letter to her petitioning the
performance of her promise. The lieutenant of the Tower carried this
letter, and delivered it with his own hands to the queen, and brought
him her answer by word of mouth. What think you, mine own Constance,
was the answer she sent that dying man? God forgave her! Philip did;
yea, and so do I--not fully at the time, now most fully. His crown
should have been less glorious but for the heart-martyrdom she
invented.

"This was her message: 'That if he would but once go to the Protestant
church his request should not only be granted, but he should moreover
be restored to his honor and estate with as much favor as she could
show.' Oh, what were estates and honors to that dying saint! what her
favor to that departing soul! One offering, one sacrifice, one final
withdrawing of affection's thirsty and parched lips from the chalice
of a supreme earthly consolation, and all was accomplished; the
bitterness of death overpast. He gave thanks to the lieutenant for his
pains; he said he could not accept her majesty's offers upon that
condition, and added withal that he was sorry he had but one life to
lose in that cause. A very worthy gentleman who was present at this
passage related it to me; and Lord Mountague I have also had it from,
which heard the same from his father-in-law, my Lord Dorset.
Constance, for a brief while a terrible tumult raged in my soul. Think
what it was to know one so long, so passionately loved, dying nigh
onto and yet apart from me, dying unaided by any priest--for though he
had a great desire to be assisted by Father Edmund, by whose means he
had been reconciled, it was by no means permitted that either he or
any other priest should come to him--dying without a kindred face to
smile on him, without a kinsman for to speak with him and list to his
last wishes. He desired to see his brother William or his uncle Lord
Henry; at least to take his last leave of them before his death; but
neither was that small request granted--no, not so much as to see his
brother Thomas, though both then and ever he had been a Protestant.
And all this misery was the fruit of one stem, cruel, unbending
hatred--of one proud human will; a will which was sundering what God
had joined together. Like a bird against the bars of an iron cage, my
poor heart dashed itself with wild throbbings against these human
obstacles. But not for very long, I thank God; brief was the storm
which convulsed my soul. I soon discerned his hand in this great
trial--his will above all human will; and while writhing under a
Father's merciful scourge, I could yet bless him who held it I pray
you, Constance, how should a woman have endured so great an anguish
which had not been helped by him? Methinks what must have sustained me
was that before-mentioned gentleman's report of my dear lord's great
piety and virtue, which made me ashamed of not striving to resemble
him in howsoever small a degree. Oh, what a work God wrought in that
chosen soul! What meekness, what humility, what nobleness of heart! He
grew so faint and weak by degrees that he was not able to leave his
bed. His physicians coming to visit him some days before his death, he
desired  them not to trouble themselves now any more, his case
being beyond their skill. They thereupon departing, Sir Michael
Blount, then lieutenant of the Tower, who had been ever very hard and
harsh unto him, took occasion to come and visit him, and, kneeling
down by his bedside, in humble manner desired my dear Phil to forgive
him. Whereto mine own beloved husband answered in this manner, 'Do you
ask forgiveness, Mr. Lieutenant? Why, then, I forgive you in the same
sort as I desire myself to be forgiven at the hands of God;' and then
kissed his hand, and offered it in most kind and charitable manner to
him, and holding his fast in his own said, 'I pray you also to forgive
me whatever I have said or done in anything offensive to you,' and he
melting into tears and answering 'that he forgave him with all his
heart;' my lord raised himself a little upon his pillow, and made a
brief, grave speech unto the lieutenant in this manner: 'Mr.
Lieutenant, you have showed both me and my men very hard measure.'
'Wherein, my lord?' quoth he. 'Nay,' said my lord, 'I will not make a
recapitulation of anything, for it is all freely forgiven. Only I am
to say unto you a few words of my last will, which being observed,
may, by the grace of God, turn much to your benefit and reputation. I
speak not for myself; for God of his goodness hath taken order that I
shall be delivered very shortly out of your charge; only for others I
speak who may be committed to this place. You must think, Mr.
Lieutenant, that when a prisoner comes hither to the Tower that he
bringeth sorrow with him. Oh, then do not add affliction to
affliction; there is no man whatsoever that thinketh himself to stand
surest but may fall. It is a very inhuman part to tread on him whom
misfortune hath cast down. The man that is void of mercy God hath in
great detestation. Your commission is only to keep in safety, not to
kill with severity. Remember, good Mr. Lieutenant, that God who with
his finger turneth the unstable wheel of this variable world, can in
the revolution of a few days bring you to be a prisoner also, and to
be kept in the same place where now you keep others. There is no
calamity that men are subject unto but you may also taste as well as
any other man. Farewell, Mr. Lieutenant; for the time of my short
abode come to me whenever you please, and you shall be heartily
welcome as my friend.' My dear lord, when he uttered these words,
should seem to have had some kind of prophetic foresight touching this
poor man's fate; for I have just heard this day, seven weeks only
after my husband's death, that Sir Michael Blount hath fallen into
great disgrace, lost his office, and is indeed committed close
prisoner in that same Tower where he so long kept others.

"And now my faltering pen must needs transcribe the last letter I
received from my beloved husband, for your heart, dear friend, is one
with mine. You have known its sufferings through the many years evil
influences robbed it of that love which, for brief intervals of
happiness afterward and this long separation since, hath, by its
steady and constant return, made so rich amends for the past. In these
final words you shall find proofs of his excellent humility and
notable affection for my unworthy self, which I doubt not, my dear
instance, shall draw water from your eyes. Mine yield no moisture now.
Methinks these last griefs have exhausted in them the fountain of
tears.

"'Mine own good wife, I must now in this world take my last farewell
of you; and as I know no person living whom I have so much offended as
yourself, so do I account this opportunity of asking your forgiveness
as a singular benefit of Almighty God. And I most humbly and heartily
beseech you, even for his sake and of your charity, to forgive me all
whereinsoever I have offended you; and the assurance I have of this
your  forgiveness is my greatest contentment at this present, and
will be a greater, I doubt not, when my soul is ready to depart out of
my body. I call God to witness it is no small grief unto me that I
cannot make you recompense in this world for the wrongs I have done
you. Affliction gives understanding. God, who knows my heart, and has
seen my true sorrow in that behalf, has, I hope, of his infinite
mercy, remitted all, I doubt not, as you have done in your singular
charity, to mine infinite comfort.

"Now what remaineth but in a few brief sentences to relate how this
loved husband spent his last hours, and the manner of his death? Those
were for the most part spent in prayer; sometimes saying his beads,
sometimes such psalms and prayers as he knew by heart. Seeing his
servants (one of which hath been the narrator to me of these his final
moments) stand by his bedside in the morning weeping in a mournful
manner, he asked them 'what o'clock it was? they answering that it was
eight or thereabout, 'Why, then,' said he, 'I have almost run out my
course, and come to the end of this miserable mortal life,' desiring
them not to weep for him, since he did not doubt, by the grace of God,
but all would go well with him; which being said he returned to his
prayers upon his beads again, though then with a very slow, hollow,
and fainting voice; and so continued as long as he was able to draw so
much breath as was sufficient to sound out the names of Jesus and
Mary, which were the last words he was ever heard to speak. The last
minute of his last hour being come, lying on his back, his eyes firmly
fixed toward heaven, his long, lean, consumed arms out of the bed, his
hands upon his breast, laid in cross one upon the other, about twelve
o'clock at noon, in a most sweet manner, without any sign of grief or
groan, only turning his head a little aside as one falling into a
pleasing sleep, he surrendered his soul into the hands of God who to
his own glory had created it. And she who writeth this letter, she who
loved him since her most early years--who when he was estranged from
her waited his return--who gloried in his virtues, doated on his
perfections, endured his afflictions, and now lamenteth his death,
hath nothing left but to live a widow; indeed with no other glory than
that which she doth borrow from his merits, until such time as it
shall please God to take her from this earth to a world where he hath
found, she doth humbly hope, rest unto his soul."

The Countess of Arundel is now aged. The virtues which have crowned
her mature years are such, as her youth did foreshadow. My pen would
run on too fast if it took up that theme. This only will I add, and so
conclude this too long piece of writing--she hath kept her constant
resolve to live and die a widow. I have seen many times letters from
both Protestants and Catholics which made unfeigned protestations that
they were never so edified by any as by her. As the Holy Scriptures do
say of that noble widow Judith, "Not one spoke an ill word of her,"
albeit these times are extremely malicious. For mine own part I never
read those words of Holy Writ, "Who shall find a valiant woman?" and
what doth follow, but I must needs think of Ann Dacre, the wife of
Philip Howard, earl of Arundel and Surrey.


After the lapse of some years, it hath been my hap to have a sight of
this manuscript, the reading of which, even as the writing of it in
former days, doth cause me to live over again my past life. This lapse
of time hath added nothing notable except the dreadful death of
Hubert, my dear Basil's only brother, who suffered last year for the
share he had, or leastways was judged to have, in the Gunpowder Plot
and treason. Alas! he which once, to improve his fortunes, denied his
faith, when fortune turned her back  upon him grew into a
virulent hatred of those in power, once his friends and tempters, and
consorted with desperate men; whether he was privy to their counsels,
or only familiar with them previous to their crimes, and so fell into
suspicion of their guilt, God knoweth. It doth appear from some good
reports that he died a true penitent. There is a better hope methinks
for such as meet in this world with open shame and suffering than for
secret sinners who go to their pompous graves unchastised and
unabsolved.

By his brother's death Basil recovered his lands; for his present
majesty hath some time since recalled the sentence of his banishment.
And many of his friends have moved him to return to England; but for
more reasons than one he refused so much as to think of it, and has
compounded his estate for £700, 8s. 6d.

Our children have now grown unto ripe years. Muriel (who would have
been a nun if she had followed her godmother's example) is now
married, to her own liking and our no small contentment, to a very
commendable young gentleman, the son of Mr. Yates, and hath gone to
reside with him at his seat in Worcestershire; and Ann, Lady Arundel's
god-daughter, nothing will serve but to be a "holy Mary," as the
French people do style those dames which that great and good prelate,
M. de Genève, hath assembled in a small hive at Annecy, like bees to
gather honey of devotion in the garden of religion. This should seem a
strange fancy, this order being so new in the Church, and the place so
distant; but time will show if this should be God's will; and if so,
then it must needs be ours also.

What liketh me most is that my son Roger doth prove the very image of
his father, and the counterpart of him in his goodness. I am of
opinion that nothing better can be desired for him than that he never
lose so good a likeness.

And now farewell, pen and ink, mine old companions, for a brief moment
resumed, but with a less steady hand than heretofore; now not to be
again used except for such ordinary purposes as housewifery and
friendship shall require.

[THE END]





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