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´╗┐Title: Unknown to History: A Story of the Captivity of Mary of Scotland
Author: Yonge, Charlotte M. (Charlotte Mary), 1823-1901
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Unknown to History: A Story of the Captivity of Mary of Scotland" ***

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Unknown to History

A Story of the Captivity of Mary of Scotland


Charlotte M. Yonge


In p. 58 of vol. ii. of the second edition of Miss Strickland's Life of
Mary Queen of Scots, or p. 100, vol. v. of Burton's History of
Scotland, will be found the report on which this tale is founded.

If circumstances regarding the Queen's captivity and Babington's plot
have been found to be omitted, as well as many interesting personages
in the suite of the captive Queen, it must be remembered that the art
of the story-teller makes it needful to curtail some of the incidents
which would render the narrative too complicated to be interesting to
those who wish more for a view of noted characters in remarkable
situations, than for a minute and accurate sifting of facts and

                                               C. M. YONGE.

February 27, 1882.
















































  Poor scape-goat of crimes, where,--her part what it may,
  So tortured, so hunted to die,
  Foul age of deceit and of hate,--on her head
  Least stains of gore-guiltiness lie;
  To the hearts of the just her blood from the dust
  Not in vain for mercy will cry.

  Poor scape-goat of nations and faiths in their strife
  So cruel,--and thou so fair!
  Poor girl!--so, best, in her misery named,--
  Discrown'd of two kingdoms, and bare;
  Not first nor last on this one was cast
  The burden that others should share.
                 Visions of England, by F. T. Palgrave



On a spring day, in the year 1568, Mistress Talbot sat in her lodging
at Hull, an upper chamber, with a large latticed window, glazed with
the circle and diamond leading perpetuated in Dutch pictures, and
opening on a carved balcony, whence, had she been so minded, she could
have shaken hands with her opposite neighbour.  There was a richly
carved mantel-piece, with a sea-coal fire burning in it, for though it
was May, the sea winds blew cold, and there was a fishy odour about the
town, such as it was well to counteract.  The floor was of slippery
polished oak, the walls hung with leather, gilded in some places and
depending from cornices, whose ornaments proved to an initiated eye,
that this had once been the refectory of a small priory, or cell,
broken up at the Reformation.

Of furniture there was not much, only an open cupboard, displaying two
silver cups and tankards, a sauce-pan of the same metal, a few tall,
slender, Venetian glasses, a little pewter, and some rare shells.  A
few high-backed chairs were ranged against the wall; there was a tall
"armory," i.e. a linen-press of dark oak, guarded on each side by the
twisted weapons of the sea unicorn, and in the middle of the room stood
a large, solid-looking table, adorned with a brown earthenware
beau-pot, containing a stiff posy of roses, southernwood, gillyflowers,
pinks and pansies, of small dimensions.  On hooks, against the wall,
hung a pair of spurs, a shield, a breastplate, and other pieces of
armour, with an open helmet bearing the dog, the well-known crest of
the Talbots of the Shrewsbury line.

On the polished floor, near the window, were a child's cart, a little
boat, some whelks and limpets.  Their owner, a stout boy of three years
old, in a tight, borderless, round cap, and home-spun, madder-dyed
frock, lay fast asleep in a big wooden cradle, scarcely large enough,
however, to contain him, as he lay curled up, sucking his thumb, and
hugging to his breast the soft fragment of a sea-bird's downy breast.
If he stirred, his mother's foot was on the rocker, as she sat
spinning, but her spindle danced languidly on the floor, as if "feeble
was her hand, and silly her thread;" while she listened anxiously, for
every sound in the street below.  She wore a dark blue dress, with a
small lace ruff opening in front, deep cuffs to match, and a white
apron likewise edged with lace, and a coif, bent down in the centre,
over a sweet countenance, matronly, though youthful, and now full of
wistful expectancy; not untinged with anxiety and sorrow.

Susan Hardwicke was a distant kinswoman of the famous Bess of
Hardwicke, and had formed one of the little court of gentlewomen with
whom great ladies were wont to surround themselves.  There she met
Richard Talbot, the second son of a relative of the Earl of Shrewsbury,
a young man who, with the indifference of those days to service by land
or sea, had been at one time a gentleman pensioner of Queen Mary; at
another had sailed under some of the great mariners of the western
main.  There he had acquired substance enough to make the offer of his
hand to the dowerless Susan no great imprudence; and as neither could
be a subject for ambitious plans, no obstacle was raised to their

He took his wife home to his old father's house in the precincts of
Sheffield Park, where she was kindly welcomed; but wealth did not so
abound in the family but that, when opportunity offered, he was
thankful to accept the command of the Mastiff, a vessel commissioned by
Queen Elizabeth, but built, manned, and maintained at the expense of
the Earl of Shrewsbury.  It formed part of a small squadron which was
cruising on the eastern coast to watch over the intercourse between
France and Scotland, whether in the interest of the imprisoned Mary, or
of the Lords of the Congregation.  He had obtained lodgings for
Mistress Susan at Hull, so that he might be with her when he put into
harbour, and she was expecting him for the first time since the loss of
their second child, a daughter whom he had scarcely seen during her
little life of a few months.

Moreover, there had been a sharp storm a few days previously, and
experience had not hardened her to the anxieties of a sailor's wife.
She had been down once already to the quay, and learnt all that the old
sailors could tell her of chances and conjectures; and when her boy
began to fret from hunger and weariness, she had left her serving-man,
Gervas, to watch for further tidings.  Yet, so does one trouble drive
out another, that whereas she had a few days ago dreaded the sorrow of
his return, she would now have given worlds to hear his step.

Hark, what is that in the street?  Oh, folly!  If the Mastiff were in,
would not Gervas have long ago brought her the tidings?  Should she
look over the balcony only to be disappointed again?  Ah! she had been
prudent, for the sounds were dying away.  Nay, there was a foot at the
door!  Gervas with ill news!  No, no, it bounded as never did Gervas's
step!  It was coming up.  She started from the chair, quivering with
eagerness, as the door opened and in hurried her suntanned sailor!  She
was in his arms in a trance of joy.  That was all she knew for a
moment, and then, it was as if something else were given back to her.
No, it was not a dream!  It was substance.  In her arms was a little
swaddled baby, in her ears its feeble wail, mingled with the glad shout
of little Humfrey, as he scrambled from the cradle to be uplifted in
his father's arms.

"What is this?" she asked, gazing at the infant between terror and
tenderness, as its weak cry and exhausted state forcibly recalled the
last hours of her own child.

"It is the only thing we could save from a wreck off the Spurn," said
her husband.  "Scottish as I take it.  The rogues seem to have taken to
their boats, leaving behind them a poor woman and her child.  I trust
they met their deserts and were swamped.  We saw the fluttering of her
coats as we made for the Humber, and I sent Goatley and Jaques in the
boat to see if anything lived.  The poor wench was gone before they
could lift her up, but the little one cried lustily, though it has
waxen weaker since.  We had no milk on board, and could only give it
bits of soft bread soaked in beer, and I misdoubt me whether it did not
all run out at the corners of its mouth."

This was interspersed with little Humfrey's eager outcries that little
sister was come again, and Mrs. Talbot, the tears running down her
cheeks, hastened to summon her one woman-servant, Colet, to bring the
porringer of milk.

Captain Talbot had only hurried ashore to bring the infant, and show
himself to his wife.  He was forced instantly to return to the wharf,
but he promised to come back as soon as he should have taken order for
his men, and for the Mastiff, which had suffered considerably in the
storm, and would need to be refitted.

Colet hastily put a manchet of fresh bread, a pasty, and a stoup of
wine into a basket, and sent it by her husband, Gervas, after their
master; and then eagerly assisted her mistress in coaxing the infant to
swallow food, and in removing the soaked swaddling clothes which the
captain and his crew had not dared to meddle with.

When Captain Talbot returned, as the rays of the setting sun glanced
high on the roofs and chimneys, little Humfrey stood peeping through
the tracery of the balcony, watching for him, and shrieking with joy at
the first glimpse of the sea-bird's feather in his cap.  The spotless
home-spun cloth and the trenchers were laid for supper, a festive capon
was prepared by the choicest skill of Mistress Susan, and the little
shipwrecked stranger lay fast asleep in the cradle.

All was well with it now, Mrs. Talbot said.  Nothing had ailed it but
cold and hunger, and when it had been fed, warmed, and dressed, it had
fallen sweetly asleep in her arms, appeasing her heartache for her own
little Sue, while Humfrey fully believed that father had brought his
little sister back again.

The child was in truth a girl, apparently three or four months old. She
had been rolled up in Mrs. Talbot's baby's clothes, and her own long
swaddling bands hung over the back of a chair, where they had been
dried before the fire.  They were of the finest woollen below, and
cambric above, and the outermost were edged with lace, whose quality
Mrs. Talbot estimated very highly.

"See," she added, "what we found within.  A Popish relic, is it not?
Colet and Mistress Gale were for making away with it at once, but it
seemed to me that it was a token whereby the poor babe's friends may
know her again, if she have any kindred not lost at sea."

The token was a small gold cross, of peculiar workmanship, with a
crystal in the middle, through which might be seen some mysterious
object neither husband nor wife could make out, but which they agreed
must be carefully preserved for the identification of their little
waif.  Mrs. Talbot also produced a strip of writing which she had found
sewn to the inmost band wrapped round the little body, but it had no
superscription, and she believed it to be either French, Latin, or High
Dutch, for she could make nothing of it.  Indeed, the good lady's
education had only included reading, writing, needlework and cookery,
and she knew no language but her own.  Her husband had been taught
Latin, but his acquaintance with modern tongues was of the nautical
order, and entirely oral and vernacular.  However, it enabled him to
aver that the letter--if such it were--was neither Scottish, French,
Spanish, nor High or Low Dutch.  He looked at it in all directions, and
shook his head over it.

"Who can read it, for us?" asked Mrs. Talbot.  "Shall we ask Master
Heatherthwayte? he is a scholar, and he said he would look in to see
how you fared."

"At supper-time, I trow," said Richard, rather grimly, "the smell of
thy stew will bring him down in good time."

"Nay, dear sir, I thought you would be fain to see the good man, and he
lives but poorly in his garret."

"Scarce while he hath good wives like thee to boil his pot for him,"
said Richard, smiling.  "Tell me, hath he heard aught of this gear?
thou hast not laid this scroll before him?"

"No, Colet brought it to me only now, having found it when washing the
swaddling-bands, stitched into one of them."

"Then hark thee, good wife, not one word to him of the writing."

"Might he not interpret it?"

"Not he!  I must know more about it ere I let it pass forth from mine
hands, or any strange eye fall upon it-- Ha, in good time!  I hear his
step on the stair."

The captain hastily rolled up the scroll and put it into his pouch,
while Mistress Susan felt as if she had made a mistake in her
hospitality, yet almost as if her husband were unjust towards the good
man who had been such a comfort to her in her sorrow; but there was no
lack of cordiality or courtesy in Richard's manner when, after a short,
quick knock, there entered a figure in hat, cassock, gown, and bands,
with a pleasant, though grave countenance, the complexion showing that
it had been tanned and sunburnt in early youth, although it wore later
traces of a sedentary student life, and, it might be, of less genial
living than had nourished the up-growth of that sturdily-built frame.

Master Joseph Heatherthwayte was the greatly underpaid curate of a
small parish on the outskirts of Hull.  He contrived to live on some
(pounds)10 per annum in the attic of the house where the Talbots
lodged,--and not only to live, but to be full of charitable deeds,
mostly at the expense of his own appetite.  The square cut of his
bands, and the uncompromising roundness of the hat which he doffed on
his entrance, marked him as inclined to the Puritan party, which, being
that of apparent progress, attracted most of the ardent spirits of the

Captain Talbot's inclinations did not lie that way, but he respected
and liked his fellow-lodger, and his vexation had been merely the
momentary disinclination of a man to be interrupted, especially on his
first evening at home.  He responded heartily to Master
Heatherthwayte's warm pressure of the hand and piously expressed
congratulation on his safety, mixed with condolence on the grief that
had befallen him.

"And you have been a good friend to my poor wife in her sorrow," said
Richard, "for the which I thank you heartily, sir."

"Truly, sir, I could have been her scholar, with such edifying
resignation did she submit to the dispensation," returned the
clergyman, uttering these long words in a broad northern accent which
had nothing incongruous in it to Richard's ears, and taking advantage
of the lady's absence on "hospitable tasks intent" to speak in her

Little Humfrey, on his father's knee, comprehending that they were
speaking of the recent sorrow, put in his piece of information that
"father had brought little sister back from the sea."

"Ah, child!" said Master Heatherthwayte, in the ponderous tone of one
unused to children, "thou hast yet to learn the words of the holy
David, 'I shall go to him, but he shall not return to me.'"

"Bring not that thought forward, Master Heatherthwayte," said Richard,
"I am well pleased that my poor wife and this little lad can take the
poor little one as a solace sent them by God, as she assuredly is."

"Mean you, then, to adopt her into your family?" asked the minister.

"We know not if she hath any kin," said Richard, and at that moment
Susan entered, followed by the man and maid, each bearing a portion of
the meal, which was consumed by the captain and the clergyman as
thoroughly hungry men eat; and there was silence till the capon's bones
were bare and two large tankards had been filled with Xeres sack,
captured in a Spanish ship, "the only good thing that ever came from
Spain," quoth the sailor.

Then he began to tell how he had weathered the storm on the
Berwickshire coast; but he was interrupted by another knock, followed
by the entrance of a small, pale, spare man, with the lightest possible
hair, very short, and almost invisible eyebrows; he had a round ruff
round his neck, and a black, scholarly gown, belted round his waist
with a girdle, in which he carried writing tools.

"Ha, Cuthbert Langston, art thou there?" said the captain, rising.
"Thou art kindly welcome.  Sit down and crush a cup of sack with Master
Heatherthwayte and me."

"Thanks, cousin," returned the visitor, "I heard that the Mastiff was
come in, and I came to see whether all was well."

"It was kindly done, lad," said Richard, while the others did their
part of the welcome, though scarcely so willingly.  Cuthbert Langston
was a distant relation on the mother's side of Richard, a young
scholar, who, after his education at Oxford, had gone abroad with a
nobleman's son as his pupil, and on his return, instead of taking Holy
Orders, as was expected, had obtained employment in a merchant's
counting-house at Hull, for which his knowledge of languages eminently
fitted him.  Though he possessed none of the noble blood of the
Talbots, the employment was thought by Mistress Susan somewhat
derogatory to the family dignity, and there was a strong suspicion both
in her mind and that of Master Heatherthwayte that his change of
purpose was due to the change of religion in England, although he was a
perfectly regular church-goer.  Captain Talbot, however, laughed at all
this, and, though he had not much in common with his kinsman, always
treated him in a cousinly fashion.  He too had heard a rumour of the
foundling, and made inquiry for it, upon which Richard told his story
in greater detail, and his wife asked what the poor mother was like.

"I saw her not," he answered, "but Goatley thought the poor woman to
whom she was bound more like to be nurse than mother, judging by her
years and her garments."

"The mother may have been washed off before," said Susan, lifting the
little one from the cradle, and hushing it. "Weep not, poor babe, thou
hast found a mother here."

"Saw you no sign of the crew?" asked Master Heatherthwayte.

"None at all.  The vessel I knew of old as the brig Bride of Dunbar,
one of the craft that ply between Dunbar and the French ports."

"And how think you?  Were none like to be saved?"

"I mean to ride along the coast to-morrow, to see whether aught can be
heard of them, but even if their boats could live in such a sea, they
would have evil hap among the wreckers if they came ashore.  I would
not desire to be a shipwrecked man in these parts, and if I had a
Scottish or a French tongue in my head so much the worse for me."

"Ah, Master Heatherthwayte," said Susan, "should not a man give up the
sea when he is a husband and father?"

"Tush, dame!  With God's blessing the good ship Mastiff will ride out
many another such gale.  Tell thy mother, little Numpy, that an English
sailor is worth a dozen French or Scottish lubbers."

"Sir," said Master Heatherthwayte, "the pious trust of the former part
of your discourse is contradicted by the boast of the latter end."

"Nay, Sir Minister, what doth a sailor put his trust in but his God
foremost, and then his good ship and his brave men?"

It should be observed that all the three men wore their hats, and each
made a reverent gesture of touching them.  The clergyman seemed
satisfied by the answer, and presently added that it would be well, if
Master and Mistress Talbot meant to adopt the child, that she should be

"How now?" said Richard, "we are not so near any coast of Turks or
Infidels that we should deem her sprung of heathen folk."

"Assuredly not," said Cuthbert Langston, whose quick, light-coloured
eyes had spied the reliquary in Mistress Susan's work-basket, "if this
belongs to her.  By your leave, kinswoman," and he lifted it in his
hand with evident veneration, and began examining it.

"It is Babylonish gold, an accursed thing!" exclaimed Master
Heatherthwayte.  "Beware, Master Talbot, and cast it from thee."

"Nay," said Richard, "that shall I not do.  It may lead to the
discovery of the child's kindred.  Why, my master, what harm think you
it will do to us in my dame's casket?  Or what right have we to make
away with the little one's property?"

His common sense was equally far removed from the horror of the one
visitor as from the reverence of the other, and so it pleased neither.
Master Langston was the first to speak, observing that the relic made
it evident that the child must have been baptized.

"A Popish baptism," said Master Heatherthwayte, "with chrism and taper
and words and gestures to destroy the pure simplicity of the sacrament."

Controversy here seemed to be setting in, and the infant cause of it
here setting up a cry, Susan escaped under pretext of putting Humfrey
to bed in the next room, and carried off both the little ones.  The
conversation then fell upon the voyage, and the captain described the
impregnable aspect of the castle of Dumbarton, which was held for Queen
Mary by her faithful partisan, Lord Flemyng.  On this, Cuthbert
Langston asked whether he had heard any tidings of the imprisoned
Queen, and he answered that it was reported at Leith that she had
well-nigh escaped from Lochleven, in the disguise of a lavender or
washerwoman.  She was actually in the boat, and about to cross the
lake, when a rude oarsman attempted to pull aside her muffler, and the
whiteness of the hand she raised in self-protection betrayed her, so
that she was carried back.  "If she had reached Dumbarton," he said,
"she might have mocked at the Lords of the Congregation.  Nay, she
might have been in that very brig, whose wreck I beheld."

"And well would it have been for Scotland and England had it been the
will of Heaven that so it should fall out," observed the Puritan.

"Or it may be," said the merchant, "that the poor lady's escape was
frustrated by Providence, that she might be saved from the rocks of the

"The poor lady, truly!  Say rather the murtheress," quoth

"Say rather the victim and scapegoat of other men's plots," protested

"Come, come, sirs," says Talbot, "we'll have no high words here on what
Heaven only knoweth.  Poor lady she is, in all sooth, if sackless;
poorer still if guilty; so I know not what matter there is for falling
out about.  In any sort, I will not have it at my table." He spoke with
the authority of the captain of a ship, and the two visitors, scarce
knowing it, submitted to his decision of manner, but the harmony of the
evening seemed ended.  Cuthbert Langston soon rose to bid good-night,
first asking his cousin at what hour he proposed to set forth for the
Spurn, to which Richard briefly replied that it depended on what had to
be done as to the repairs of the ship.

The clergyman tarried behind him to say, "Master Talbot, I marvel that
so godly a man as you have ever been should be willing to harbour one
so popishly affected, and whom many suspect of being a seminary priest."

"Master Heatherthwayte," returned the captain, "my kinsman is my
kinsman, and my house is my house.  No offence, sir, but I brook not

The clergyman protested that no offence was intended, only caution, and
betook himself to his own bare chamber, high above.  No sooner was he
gone than Captain Talbot again became absorbed in the endeavour to
spell out the mystery of the scroll, with his elbows on the table and
his hands over his ears, nor did he look up till he was touched by his
wife, when he uttered an impatient demand what she wanted now.

She had the little waif in her arms undressed, and with only a woollen
coverlet loosely wrapped round her, and without speaking she pointed to
the little shoulder-blades, where two marks had been indelibly made--on
one side the crowned monogram of the Blessed Virgin, on the other a
device like the Labarum, only that the upright was surmounted by a

Richard Talbot gave a sort of perplexed grunt of annoyance to
acknowledge that he saw them.

"Poor little maid! how could they be so cruel?  They have been branded
with a hot iron," said the lady.

"They that parted from her meant to know her again," returned Talbot.

"Surely they are Popish marks," added Mistress Susan.

"Look you here, Dame Sue, I know you for a discreet woman.  Keep this
gear to yourself, both the letter and the marks.  Who hath seen them?"

"I doubt me whether even Colet has seen this mark."

"That is well.  Keep all out of sight.  Many a man has been brought
into trouble for a less matter swelled by prating tongues."

"Have you made it out?"

"Not I.  It may be only the child's horoscope, or some old wife's charm
that is here sewn up, and these marks may be naught but some sailor's
freak; but, on the other hand, they may be concerned with perilous
matter, so the less said the better."

"Should they not be shown to my lord, or to her Grace's Council?"

"I'm not going to run my head into trouble for making a coil about what
may be naught.  That's what befell honest Mark Walton.  He thought he
had seized matter of State, and went up to Master Walsingham, swelling
like an Indian turkey-cock, with his secret letters, and behold they
turned out to be a Dutch fishwife's charm to bring the herrings.  I can
tell you he has rued the work he made about it ever since.  On the
other hand, let it get abroad through yonder prating fellow,
Heatherthwayte, or any other, that Master Richard Talbot had in his
house a child with, I know not what Popish tokens, and a scroll in an
unknown tongue, and I should be had up in gyves for suspicion of
treason, or may be harbouring the Prince of Scotland himself, when it
is only some poor Scottish archer's babe."

"You would not have me part with the poor little one?"

"Am I a Turk or a Pagan?  No.  Only hold thy peace, as I shall hold
mine, until such time as I can meet some one whom I can trust to read
this riddle.  Tell me--what like is the child?  Wouldst guess it to be
of gentle, or of clownish blood, if women can tell such things?"

"Of gentle blood, assuredly," cried the lady, so that he smiled and
said, "I might have known that so thou wouldst answer."

"Nay, but see her little hands and fingers, and the mould of her dainty
limbs.  No Scottish fisher clown was her father, I dare be sworn.  Her
skin is as fair and fine as my Humfrey's, and moreover she has always
been in hands that knew how a babe should be tended. Any woman can tell
you that!"

"And what like is she in your woman's eyes?  What complexion doth she

"Her hair, what she has of it, is dark; her eyes--bless them--are of a
deep blue, or purple, such as most babes have till they take their true
tint.  There is no guessing.  Humfrey's eyes were once like to be
brown, now are they as blue as thine own."

"I understand all that," said Captain Talbot, smiling.  "If she have
kindred, they will know her better by the sign manual on her tender
flesh than by her face."

"And who are they?"

"Who are they?" echoed the captain, rolling up the scroll in despair.
"Here, take it, Susan, and keep it safe from all eyes.  Whatever it may
be, it may serve thereafter to prove her true name.  And above all, not
a word or breath to Heatherthwayte, or any of thy gossips, wear they
coif or bands."

"Ah, sir! that you will mistrust the good man."

"I said not I mistrust any one; only that I will have no word of all
this go forth!  Not one!  Thou heedest me, wife?"

"Verily I do, sir; I will be mute."



After giving orders for the repairs of the Mastiff, and the disposal of
her crew, Master Richard Talbot purveyed himself of a horse at the
hostel, and set forth for Spurn Head to make inquiries along the coast
respecting the wreck of the Bride of Dunbar, and he was joined by
Cuthbert Langston, who said his house had had dealings with her owners,
and that he must ascertain the fate of her wares.  His good lady
remained in charge of the mysterious little waif, over whom her tender
heart yearned more and more, while her little boy hovered about in
serene contemplation of the treasure he thought he had recovered.  To
him the babe seemed really his little sister; to his mother, if she
sometimes awakened pangs of keen regret, yet she filled up much of the
dreary void of the last few weeks.

Mrs. Talbot was a quiet, reserved woman, not prone to gadding abroad,
and she had made few acquaintances during her sojourn at Hull; but
every creature she knew, or might have known, seemed to her to drop in
that day, and bring at least two friends to inspect the orphan of the
wreck, and demand all particulars.

The little girl was clad in the swaddling garments of Mrs. Talbot's own
children, and the mysterious marks were suspected by no one, far less
the letter which Susan, for security's sake, had locked up in her
nearly empty, steel-bound, money casket.  The opinions of the gossips
varied, some thinking the babe might belong to some of the Queen of
Scotland's party fleeing to France, others fathering her on the
refugees from the persecutions in Flanders, a third party believing her
a mere fisherman's child, and one lean, lantern-jawed old crone,
Mistress Rotherford, observing, "Take my word, Mrs. Talbot, and keep
her not with you.  They that are cast up by the sea never bring good
with them."

The court of female inquiry was still sitting when a heavy tread was
heard, and Colet announced "a serving-man from Bridgefield had ridden
post haste to speak with madam," and the messenger, booted and spurred,
with the mastiff badge on his sleeve, and the hat he held in his hand,
followed closely.

"What news, Nathanael?" she asked, as she responded to his greeting.

"Ill enough news, mistress," was the answer.  "Master Richard's ship be
in, they tell me."

"Yes, but he is rid out to make inquiry for a wreck," said the lady.
"Is all well with my good father-in-law?"

"He ails less in body than in mind, so please you.  Being that Master
Humfrey was thrown by Blackfoot, the beast being scared by a flash of
lightning, and never spoke again."

"Master Humfrey!"

"Ay, mistress.  Pitched on his head against the south gate-post.  I saw
how it was with him when we took him up, and he never so much as lifted
an eyelid, but died at the turn of the night.  Heaven rest his soul!'

"Heaven rest his soul!" echoed Susan, and the ladies around chimed in.
They had come for one excitement, and here was another.

"There!  See but what I said!" quoth Mrs. Rotherford, uplifting a
skinny finger to emphasise that the poor little flotsome had already
brought evil.

"Nay," said the portly wife of a merchant, "begging your pardon, this
may be a fat instead of a lean sorrow.  Leaves the poor gentleman
heirs, Mrs. Talbot?"

"Oh no!" said Susan, with tears in her eyes.  "His wife died two years
back, and her chrisom babe with her.  He loved her too well to turn his
mind to wed again, and now he is with her for aye."  And she covered
her face and sobbed, regardless of the congratulations of the
merchant's wife, and exclaiming, "Oh! the poor old lady!"

"In sooth, mistress," said Nathanael, who had stood all this time as if
he had by no means emptied his budget of ill news, "poor old madam fell
down all of a heap on the floor, and when the wenches lifted her, they
found she was stricken with the dead palsy, and she has not spoken, and
there's no one knows what to do, for the poor old squire is like one
distraught, sitting by her bed like an image on a monument, with the
tears flowing down his old cheeks.  'But,' says he to me, 'get you to
Hull, Nat, and take madam's palfrey and a couple of sumpter beasts, and
bring my good daughter Talbot back with you as fast as she and the
babes may brook.'  I made bold to say, 'And Master Richard, your
worship?' then he groaned somewhat, and said, 'If my son's ship be come
in, he must do as her Grace's service permits, but meantime he must
spare us his wife, for she is sorely needed here.'  And he looked at
the bed so as it would break your heart to see, for since old Nurse
Took hath been doited, there's not been a wench about the house that
can do a hand's turn for a sick body."

Susan knew this was true, for her mother-in-law had been one of those
bustling, managing housewives, who prefer doing everything themselves
to training others, and she was appalled at the idea of the probable
desolation and helplessness of the bereaved household.

It was far too late to start that day, even had her husband been at
home, for the horses sent for her had to rest.  The visitors would fain
have extracted some more particulars about the old squire's age, his
kindred to the great Earl, and the amount of estate to which her
husband had become heir.  There were those among them who could not
understand Susan's genuine grief, and there were others whose
consolations were no less distressing to one of her reserved character.
She made brief answer that the squire was threescore and fifteen years
old, his wife nigh about his age; that her husband was now their only
child; that he was descended from a son of the great Earl John, killed
at the Bridge of Chatillon, that he held the estate of Bridgefield in
fief on tenure of military service to the head of his family.  She did
not know how much it was worth by the year, but she must pray the good
ladies to excuse her, as she had many preparations to make.  Volunteers
to assist her in packing her mails were made, but she declined them
all, and rejoiced when left alone with Colet to arrange for what would
be probably her final departure from Hull.

It was a blow to find that she must part from her servant-woman, who,
as well as her husband Gervas, was a native of Hull.  Not only were
they both unwilling to leave, but the inland country was to their
imagination a wild unexplored desert.  Indeed, Colet had only entered
Mrs. Talbot's service to supply the place of a maid who bad sickened
with fever and ague, and had to be sent back to her native Hallamshire.

Ere long Mr. Heatherthwayte came down to offer his consolation, and
still more his advice, that the little foundling should be at once
baptized--conditionally, if the lady preferred it.

The Reformed of imperfect theological training, and as such Joseph
Heatherthwayte must be classed, were apt to view the ceremonial of the
old baptismal form, symbolical and beautiful as it was, as almost
destroying the efficacy of the rite.  Moreover, there was a further
impression that the Church by which the child was baptized, had a right
to bring it up, and thus the clergyman was urgent with the lady that
she should seize this opportunity for the little one's baptism.

"Not without my husband's consent and knowledge," she said resolutely.

"Master Talbot is a good man, but somewhat careless of sound doctrine,
as be the most of seafaring men."

Susan had been a little nettled by her husband's implied belief that
she was influenced by the minister, so there was double resolution, as
well as some offence in her reply, that she knew her duty as a wife too
well to consent to such a thing without him.  As to his being careless,
he was a true and God-fearing man, and Mr. Heatherthwayte should know
better than to speak thus of him to his wife.

Mr. Heatherthwayte's real piety and goodness had made him a great
comfort to Susan in her lonely grief, but he had not the delicate tact
of gentle blood, and had not known where to stop, and as he stood half
apologising and half exhorting, she felt that her Richard was quite
right, and that he could be both meddling and presuming. He was
exceedingly in the way of her packing too, and she was at her wit's end
to get rid of him, when suddenly Humfrey managed to pinch his fingers
in a box, and set up such a yell, as, seconded by the frightened baby,
was more than any masculine ears could endure, and drove Master
Heatherthwayte to beat a retreat.

Mistress Susan was well on in her work when her husband returned, and
as she expected, was greatly overcome by the tidings of his brother's
death.  He closely questioned Nathanael on every detail, and could
think of nothing but the happy days he had shared with his brother, and
of the grief of his parents.  He approved of all that his wife had
done; and as the damage sustained by the Mastiff could not be repaired
under a month, he had no doubt about leaving his crew in the charge of
his lieutenant while he took his family home.

So busy were both, and so full of needful cares, the one in giving up
her lodging, the other in leaving his men, that it was impossible to
inquire into the result of his researches, for the captain was in that
mood of suppressed grief and vehement haste in which irrelevant inquiry
is perfectly unbearable.

It was not till late in the evening that Richard told his wife of his
want of success in his investigations.  He had found witnesses of the
destruction of the ship, but he did not give them full credit.  "The
fellows say the ship drove on the rock, and that they saw her boats go
down with every soul on board, and that they would not lie to an
officer of her Grace.  Heaven pardon me if I do them injustice in
believing they would lie to him sooner than to any one else.  They are
rogues enough to take good care that no poor wretch should survive even
if he did chance to come to land."

"Then if there be no one to claim her, we may bring up as our own the
sweet babe whom Heaven hath sent us."

"Not so fast, dame.  Thou wert wont to be more discreet.  I said not
so, but for the nonce, till I can come by the rights of that scroll,
there's no need to make a coil.  Let no one know of it, or of the
trinket--Thou hast them safe?"

"Laid up with the Indian gold chain, thy wedding gift, dear sir."

"'Tis well.  My mother!--ah me," he added, catching himself up; "little
like is she to ask questions, poor soul."

Then Susan diffidently told of Master Heatherthwayte's earnest wish to
christen the child, and, what certainly biased her a good deal, the
suggestion that this would secure her to their own religion.

"There is something in that," said Richard, "specially after what
Cuthbert said as to the golden toy yonder.  If times changed
again--which Heaven forfend--that fellow might give us trouble about
the matter."

"You doubt him then, sir!" she asked.

"I relished not his ways on our ride to-day," said Richard.  "Sure I am
that he had some secret cause for being so curious about the wreck.  I
suspect him of some secret commerce with the Queen of Scots' folk."

"Yet you were on his side against Mr. Heatherthwayte," said Susan.

"I would not have my kinsman browbeaten at mine own table by the
self-conceited son of a dalesman, even if he have got a round hat and
Geneva band!  Ah, well! one good thing is we shall leave both of them
well behind us, though I would it were for another cause."

Something in the remonstrance had, however, so worked on Richard
Talbot, that before morning be declared that, hap what hap, if he and
his wife were to bring up the child, she should be made a good
Protestant Christian before they left the house, and there should be no
more ado about it.

It was altogether illogical and untheological; but Master
Heatherthwayte was delighted when in the very early morning his
devotions were interrupted, and he was summoned by the captain himself
to christen the child.

Richard and his wife were sponsors, but the question of name had never
occurred to any one.  However, in the pause of perplexity, when the
response lagged to "Name this child," little Humfrey, a delighted
spectator, broke out again with "Little Sis."

And forthwith, "Cicely, if thou art not already baptized," was uttered
over the child, and Cicely became her name.  It cost Susan a pang, as
it had been that of her own little daughter, but it was too late to
object, and she uttered no regret, but took the child to her heart, as
sent instead of her who had been taken from her.

Master Heatherthwayte bade them good speed, and Master Langston stood
at the door of his office and waved them a farewell, both alike
unconscious of the rejoicing with which they were left behind. Mistress
Talbot rode on the palfrey sent for her use, with the little stranger
slung to her neck for security's sake.  Her boy rode "a cock-horse"
before his father, but a resting-place was provided for him on a sort
of pannier on one of the sumpter beasts.  What these animals could not
carry of the household stuff was left in Colet's charge to be
despatched by carriers; and the travellers jogged slowly on through
deep Yorkshire lanes, often halting to refresh the horses and supply
the wants of the little children at homely wayside inns, their entrance
usually garnished with an archway formed of the jawbones of whales,
which often served for gate-posts in that eastern part of Yorkshire.
And thus they journeyed, with frequent halts, until they came to the
Derbyshire borders.

Bridgefield House stood on the top of a steep slope leading to the
river Dun, with a high arched bridge and a mill below it.  From the
bridge proceeded one of the magnificent avenues of oak-trees which led
up to the lordly lodge, full four miles off, right across Sheffield

The Bridgefield estate had been a younger son's portion, and its owners
had always been regarded as gentlemen retainers of the head of their
name, the Earl of Shrewsbury.  Tudor jealousy had forbidden the
marshalling of such a meine as the old feudal lords had loved to
assemble, and each generation of the Bridgefield Talbots had become
more independent than the former one.  The father had spent his younger
days as esquire to the late Earl, but had since become a justice of the
peace, and took rank with the substantial landowners of the country.
Humfrey, his eldest son, had been a gentleman pensioner of the Queen
till his marriage, and Richard, though beginning his career as page to
the present Earl's first wife, had likewise entered the service of her
Majesty, though still it was understood that the head of their name had
a claim to their immediate service, and had he been called to take up
arms, they would have been the first to follow his banner.  Indeed, a
pair of spurs was all the annual rent they paid for their estate, which
they held on this tenure, as well as on paying the heriard horse on the
death of the head of the family, and other contributions to their
lord's splendour when he knighted his son or married his daughter.  In
fact, they stood on the borderland of that feudal retainership which
was being rapidly extinguished.  The estate, carved out of the great
Sheffield property, was sufficient to maintain the owner in the
dignities of an English gentleman, and to portion off the daughters,
provided that the superfluous sons shifted for themselves, as Richard
had hitherto done.  The house had been ruined in the time of the Wars
of the Roses, and rebuilt in the later fashion, with a friendly-looking
front, containing two large windows, and a porch projecting between
them.  The hall reached to the top of the house, and had a waggon
ceiling, with mastiffs alternating with roses on portcullises at the
intersections of the timbers.  This was the family sitting and dining
room, and had a huge chimney never devoid of a wood fire.  One end had
a buttery-hatch communicating with the kitchen and offices; at the
other was a small room, sacred to the master of the house, niched under
the broad staircase that led to the upper rooms, which opened on a
gallery running round three sides of the hall.

Outside, on the southern side of the house, was a garden of potherbs,
with the green walks edged by a few bright flowers for beau-pots and
posies.  This had stone walls separating it from the paddock, which
sloped down to the river, and was a good deal broken by ivy-covered
rocks.  Adjoining the stables were farm buildings and barns, for there
were several fields for tillage along the river-side, and the mill and
two more farms were the property of the Bridgefield squire, so that the
inheritance was a very fair one, wedged in, as it were, between the
river and the great Chase of Sheffield, up whose stately avenue the
riding party looked as they crossed the bridge, Richard having become
more silent than ever as he came among the familiar rocks and trees of
his boyhood, and knew he should not meet that hearty welcome from his
brother which had never hitherto failed to greet his return.  The house
had that strange air of forlornness which seems to proclaim sorrow
within.  The great court doors stood open, and a big, rough deer-hound,
at the sound of the approaching hoofs, rose slowly up, and began a
series of long, deep-mouthed barks, with pauses between, sounding like
a knell.  One or two men and maids ran out at the sound, and as the
travellers rode up to the horse-block, an old gray-bearded serving-man
came stumbling forth with "Oh!  Master Diccon, woe worth the day!"

"How does my mother?" asked Richard, as he sprang off and set his boy
on his feet.

"No worse, sir, but she hath not yet spoken a word--back, Thunder--ah!
sir, the poor dog knows you."

For the great hound had sprung up to Richard in eager greeting, but
then, as soon as he heard his voice, the creature drooped his ears and
tail, and instead of continuing his demonstrations of joy, stood
quietly by, only now and then poking his long, rough nose into
Richard's hand, knowing as well as possible that though not his dear
lost master, he was the next thing!

Mistress Susan and the infant were lifted down--a hurried question and
answer assured them that the funeral was over yesterday.  My Lady
Countess had come down and would have it so; my lord was at Court, and
Sir Gilbert and his brothers had been present, but the old servants
thought it hard that none nearer in blood should be there to lay their
young squire in his grave, nor to support his father, who, poor old
man, had tottered, and been so like to swoon as he passed the hall
door, that Sir Gilbert and old Diggory could but, help him back again,
fearing lest he, too, might have a stroke.

It was a great grief to Richard, who had longed to look on his
brother's face again, but he could say nothing, only he gave one hand
to his wife and the other to his son, and led them into the hall, which
was in an indescribable state of confusion.  The trestles which had
supported the coffin were still at one end of the room, the long tables
were still covered with cloths, trenchers, knives, cups, and the
remains of the funeral baked meats, and there were overthrown tankards
and stains of wine on the cloth, as though, whatever else were lacking,
the Talbot retainers had not missed their revel.

One of the dishevelled rough-looking maidens began some hurried
muttering about being so distraught, and not looking for madam so
early, but Susan could not listen to her, and merely putting the babe
into her arms, came with her husband up the stairs, leaving little
Humfrey with Nathanael.

Richard knocked at the bedroom door, and, receiving no answer, opened
it.  There in the tapestry-hung chamber was the huge old bedstead with
its solid posts.  In it lay something motionless, but the first thing
the husband and wife saw was the bent head which was lifted up by the
burly but broken figure in the chair beside it.

The two knotted old hands clasped the arms of the chair, and the squire
prepared to rise, his lip trembling under his white beard, and emotion
working in his dejected features.  They were beforehand with him.  Ere
he could rise both were on their knees before him, while Richard in a
broken voice cried, "Father, O father!"

"Thank God that thou art come, my son," said the old man, laying his
hands on his shoulders, with a gleam of joy, for as they afterwards
knew, he had sorely feared for Richard's ship in the storm that had
caused Humfrey's death.  "I looked for thee, my daughter," he added,
stretching out one hand to Susan, who kissed it.  "Now it may go better
with her!  Speak to thy mother, Richard, she may know thy voice."

Alas! no; the recently active, ready old lady was utterly stricken, and
as yet held in the deadly grasp of paralysis, unconscious of all that
passed around her.

Susan found herself obliged at once to take up the reins, and become
head nurse and housekeeper.  The old squire trusted implicitly to her,
and helplessly put the keys into her hands, and the serving-men and
maids, in some shame at the condition in which the hall had been found,
bestirred themselves to set it in order, so that there was a chance of
the ordinary appearance of things being restored by supper-time, when
Richard hoped to persuade his father to come down to his usual place.

Long before this, however, a trampling had been heard in the court, and
a shrill voice, well known to Richard and Susan, was heard demanding,
"Come home, is she--Master Diccon too?  More shame for you, you
sluttish queans and lazy lubbers, never to have let me know; but none
of you have any respect--"

A visit from my Lady Countess was a greater favour to such a household
as that of Bridgefield than it would be to a cottage of the present
day; Richard was hurrying downstairs, and Susan only tarried to throw
off the housewifely apron in which she had been compounding a cooling
drink for the poor old lady, and to wash her hands, while Humfrey,
rushing up to her, exclaimed "Mother, mother, is it the Queen?"

Queen Elizabeth herself was not inaptly represented by her namesake of
Hardwicke, the Queen of Hallamshire, sitting on her great white mule at
the door, sideways, with her feet on a board, as little children now
ride, and attended by a whole troop of gentlemen ushers, maidens,
prickers, and running footmen.  She was a woman of the same type as the
Queen, which was of course enough to stamp her as a celebrated beauty,
and though she had reached middle age, her pale, clear complexion and
delicate features were well preserved.  Her chin was too sharp, and
there was something too thin and keen about her nose and lips to
promise good temper.  She was small of stature, but she made up for it
in dignity of presence, and as she sat there, with her rich embroidered
green satin farthingale spreading out over the mule, her tall ruff
standing up fanlike on her shoulders, her riding-rod in her hand, and
her master of the horse standing at her rein, while a gentleman usher
wielded an enormous, long-handled, green fan, to keep the sun from
incommoding her, she was, perhaps, even more magnificent than the
maiden queen herself might have been in her more private expeditions.
Indeed, she was new to her dignity as Countess, having been only a few
weeks married to the Earl, her fourth husband. Captain Talbot did not
feel it derogatory to his dignity as a gentleman to advance with his
hat in his hand to kiss her hand, and put a knee to the ground as he
invited her to alight, an invitation his wife heard with dismay as she
reached the door, for things were by no means yet as they should be in
the hall.  She curtsied low, and advanced with her son holding her
hand, but shrinking behind her.

"Ha, kinswoman, is it thou!" was her greeting, as she, too, kissed the
small, shapely, white, but exceedingly strong hand that was extended to
her; "So thou art come, and high time too.  Thou shouldst never have
gone a-gadding to Hull, living in lodgings; awaiting thine husband,
forsooth.  Thou art over young a matron for such gear, and so I told
Diccon Talbot long ago."

"Yea, madam," said Richard, somewhat hotly, "and I made answer that my
Susan was to be trusted, and truly no harm has come thereof."

"Ho! and you reckon it no harm that thy father and mother were left to
a set of feckless, brainless, idle serving-men and maids in their
trouble?  Why, none would so much as have seen to thy brother's poor
body being laid in a decent grave had not I been at hand to take order
for it as became a distant kinsman of my lord.  I tell thee, Richard,
there must be no more of these vagabond seafaring ways. Thou must serve
my lord, as a true retainer and kinsman is bound--Nay," in reply to a
gesture, "I will not come in, I know too well in what ill order the
house is like to be.  I did but take my ride this way to ask how it
fared with the mistress, and try if I could shake the squire from his
lethargy, if Mrs. Susan had not had the grace yet to be here.  How do
they?"  Then in answer, "Thou must waken him, Diccon--rouse him, and
tell him that I and my lord expect it of him that he should bear his
loss as a true and honest Christian man, and not pule and moan, since
he has a son left--ay, and a grandson.  You should breed your boy up to
know his manners, Susan Talbot," as Humfrey resisted an attempt to make
him do his reverence to my lady; "that stout knave of yours wants the
rod.  Methought I heard you'd borne another, Susan!  Ay! as I said it
would be," as her eye fell on the swaddled babe in a maid's arms.  "No
lack of fools to eat up the poor old squire's substance.  A maid, is
it?  Beshrew me, if your voyages will find portions for all your
wenches!  Has the leech let blood to thy good-mother, Susan?  There!
not one amongst you all bears any brains.  Knew you not how to send up
to the castle for Master Drewitt?  Farewell!  Thou wilt be at the lodge
to-morrow to let me know how it fares with thy mother, when her brain
is cleared by further blood-letting.  And for the squire, let him know
that I expect it of him that he shall eat, and show himself a man!"

So saying, the great lady departed, escorted as far as the avenue gate
by Richard Talbot, and leaving the family gratified by her
condescension, and not allowing to themselves how much their feelings
were chafed.



Death and sorrow seemed to have marked the house of Bridgefield, for
the old lady never rallied after the blood-letting enjoined by the
Countess's medical science, and her husband, though for some months
able to creep about the house, and even sometimes to visit the fields,
had lost his memory, and became more childish week by week.

Richard Talbot was obliged to return to his ship at the end of the
month, but as soon as she was laid up for the winter he resigned his
command, and returned home, where he was needed to assume the part of
master.  In truth he became actually master before the next spring, for
his father took to his bed with the first winter frosts, and in spite
of the duteous cares lavished upon him by his son and daughter-in-law,
passed from his bed to his grave at the Christmas feast. Richard Talbot
inherited house and lands, with the undefined sense of feudal
obligation to the head of his name, and ere long he was called upon to
fulfil those obligations by service to his lord.

There had been another act in the great Scottish tragedy.  Queen Mary
had effected her escape from Lochleven, but only to be at once
defeated, and then to cross the Solway and throw herself into the hands
of the English Queen.

Bolton Castle had been proved to be too perilously near the Border to
serve as her residence, and the inquiry at York, and afterwards at
Westminster, having proved unsatisfactory, Elizabeth had decided on
detaining her in the kingdom, and committed her to the charge of the
Earl of Shrewsbury.

To go into the history of that ill-managed investigation is not the
purpose of this tale.  It is probable that Elizabeth believed her
cousin guilty, and wished to shield that guilt from being proclaimed,
while her councillors, in their dread of the captive, wished to enhance
the crime in Elizabeth's eyes, and were by no means scrupulous as to
the kind of evidence they adduced.  However, this lies outside our
story; all that concerns it is that Lord Shrewsbury sent a summons to
his trusty and well-beloved cousin, Richard Talbot of Bridgefield, to
come and form part of the guard of honour which was to escort the Queen
of Scots to Tutbury Castle, and there attend upon her.

All this time no hint had been given that the little Cicely was of
alien blood.  The old squire and his lady had been in no state to hear
of the death of their own grandchild, or of the adoption of the orphan
and Susan was too reserved a woman to speak needlessly of her griefs to
one so unsympathising as the Countess or so flighty as the daughters at
the great house.  The men who had brought the summons to Hull had not
been lodged in the house, but at an inn, where they either had heard
nothing of Master Richard's adventure or had drowned their memory in
ale, for they said nothing; and thus, without any formed intention of
secrecy, the child's parentage had never come into question.

Indeed, though without doubt Mrs. Talbot was very loyal in heart to her
noble kinsfolk, it is not to be denied that she was a good deal more at
peace when they were not at the lodge.  She tried devoutly to follow
out the directions of my Lady Countess, and thought herself in fault
when things went amiss, but she prospered far more when free from such

She had nothing to wish except that her husband could be more often at
home, but it was better to have him only a few hours' ride from her, at
Chatsworth or Tutbury, than to know him exposed to the perils of the
sea.  He rode over as often as he could be spared, to see his family
and look after his property; but his attendance was close, and my Lord
and my Lady were exacting with one whom they could thoroughly trust,
and it was well that in her quiet way Mistress Susan proved capable of
ruling men and maids, farm and stable as well as house, servants and
children, to whom another boy was added in the course of the year after
her return to Bridgefield.

In the autumn, notice was sent that the Queen of Scots was to be lodged
at Sheffield, and long trains of waggons and sumpter horses and mules
began to arrive, bringing her plenishing and household stuff in
advance.  Servants without number were sent on, both by her and by the
Earl, to make preparations, and on a November day, tidings came that
the arrival might be expected in the afternoon.  Commands were sent
that the inhabitants of the little town at the park gate should keep
within doors, and not come forth to give any show of welcome to their
lord and lady, lest it should be taken as homage to the captive queen;
but at the Manor-house there was a little family gathering to hail the
Earl and Countess. It chiefly consisted of ladies with their children,
the husbands of most being in the suite of the Earl acting as escort or
guard to the Queen.  Susan Talbot, being akin to the family on both
sides, was there with the two elder children; Humfrey, both that he
might greet his father the sooner, and that he might be able to
remember the memorable arrival of the captive queen, and Cicely,
because he had clamoured loudly for her company.  Lady Talbot, of the
Herbert blood, wife to the heir, was present with two young
sisters-in-law, Lady Grace, daughter to the Earl, and Mary, daughter to
the Countess, who had been respectively married to Sir Henry Cavendish
and Sir Gilbert Talbot, a few weeks before their respective parents
were wedded, when the brides were only twelve and fourteen years old.
There, too, was Mrs. Babington of Dethick, the recent widow of a
kinsman of Lord Shrewsbury, to whom had been granted the wardship of
her son, and the little party waiting in the hall also numbered
Elizabeth and William Cavendish, the Countess's youngest children, and
many dependants mustered in the background, ready for the reception.
Indeed, the castle and manor-house, with their offices, lodges, and
outbuildings, were an absolute little city in themselves.  The castle
was still kept in perfect repair, for the battle of Bosworth was not
quite beyond the memory of living men's fathers; and besides, who could
tell whether any day England might not have to be contested inch by
inch with the Spaniard?  So the gray walls stood on the tongue of land
in the valley, formed by the junction of the rivers Sheaf and Dun, with
towers at all the gateways, enclosing a space of no less than eight
acres, and with the actual fortress, crisp, strong, hard, and
unmouldered in the midst, its tallest square tower serving as a
look-out place for those who watched to give the first intimation of
the arrival.

The castle had its population, but chiefly of grooms, warders, and
their families.  The state-rooms high up in that square tower were so
exceedingly confined, so stern and grim, that the grandfather of the
present earl had built a manor-house for his family residence on the
sloping ground on the farther side of the Dun.

This house, built of stone, timber, and brick, with two large courts,
two gardens, and three yards, covered nearly as much space as the
castle itself.  A pleasant, smooth, grass lawn lay in front, and on it
converged the avenues of oaks and walnuts, stretching towards the gates
of the park, narrowing to the eye into single lines, then going
absolutely out of sight, and the sea of foliage presenting the utmost
variety of beautiful tints of orange, yellow, brown, and red.  There
was a great gateway between two new octagon towers of red brick, with
battlements and dressings of stone, and from this porch a staircase led
upwards to the great stone-paved hall, with a huge fire burning on the
open hearth.  Around it had gathered the ladies of the Talbot family
waiting for the reception.  The warder on the tower had blown his horn
as a signal that the master and his royal guest were within the park,
and the banner of the Talbots had been raised to announce their coming,
but nearly half an hour must pass while the party came along the avenue
from the drawbridge over the Sheaf ere they could arrive at the lodge.

So the ladies, in full state dresses, hovered over the fire, while the
children played in the window seat near at hand.

Gilbert Talbot's wife, a thin, yellow-haired, young creature, promising
to be like her mother, the Countess, had a tongue which loved to run,
and with the precocity and importance of wifehood at sixteen, she
dilated to her companions on her mother's constant attendance on the
Queen, and the perpetual plots for that lady's escape.  "She is as
shifty and active as any cat-a-mount; and at Chatsworth she had a
scheme for being off out of her bedchamber window to meet a traitor
fellow named Boll; but my husband smelt it out in good time, and had
the guard beneath my lady's window, and the fellows are in gyves, and
to see the lady the day it was found out! Not a wry face did she make.
Oh no!  'Twas all my good lord, and my sweet sir with her.  I promise
you butter would not melt in her mouth, for my Lord Treasurer Cecil
hath been to see her, and he has promised to bring her to speech of her
Majesty.  May I be there to see.  I promise you 'twill be diamond cut
diamond between them."

"How did she and my Lord Treasurer fare together?" asked Mrs. Babington.

"Well, you know there's not a man of them all that is proof against her
blandishments.  Her Majesty should have women warders for her. 'Twas
good sport to see the furrows in his old brow smoothing out against his
will as it were, while she plied him with her tongue. I never saw the
Queen herself win such a smile as came on his lips, but then he is
always a sort of master, or tutor, as it were, to the Queen.  Ay," on
some exclamation from Lady Talbot, "she heeds him like no one else.
She may fling out, and run counter to him for the very pleasure of
feeling that she has the power, but she will come round at last, and
'tis his will that is done in the long run.  If this lady could beguile
him indeed, she might be a free woman in the end."

"And think you that she did?"

"Not she!  The Lord Treasurer is too long-headed, and has too strong a
hate to all Papistry, to be beguiled more than for the very moment he
was before her.  He cannot help the being a man, you see, and they are
all alike when once in her presence--your lord and father, like the
rest of them, sister Grace.  Mark me if there be not tempests brewing,
an we be not the sooner rid of this guest of ours.  My mother is not
the woman to bear it long."

Dame Mary's tongue was apt to run on too fast, and Lady Talbot
interrupted its career with an amused gesture towards the children.

For the little Cis, babe as she was, had all the three boys at her
service.  Humfrey, with a paternal air, was holding her on the
window-seat; Antony Babington was standing to receive the ball that was
being tossed to and fro between them, but as she never caught it, Will
Cavendish was content to pick it up every time and return it to her,
appearing amply rewarded by her laugh of delight.

The two mothers could not but laugh, and Mrs. Babington said the brave
lads were learning their knightly courtesy early, while Mary Talbot
began observing on the want of likeness between Cis and either the
Talbot or Hardwicke race.  The little girl was much darker in colouring
than any of the boys, and had a pair of black, dark, heavy brows, that
prevented her from being a pretty child.  Her adopted mother shrank
from such observations, and was rejoiced that a winding of horns, and a
shout from the boys, announced that the expected arrival was about to
take place.  The ladies darted to the window, and beholding the avenue
full of horsemen and horsewomen, their accoutrements and those of their
escort gleaming in the sun, each mother gathered her own chicks to
herself, smoothed the plumage somewhat ruffled by sport, and advanced
to the head of the stone steps, William Cavendish, the eldest of the
boys, being sent down to take his stepfather's rein and hold his
stirrup, page fashion.

Clattering and jingling the troop arrived.  The Earl, a stout, square
man, with a long narrow face, lengthened out farther by a
light-coloured, silky beard, which fell below his ruff, descended from
his steed, gave his hat to Richard Talbot, and handed from her horse a
hooded and veiled lady of slender proportions, who leant on his arm as
she ascended the steps.

The ladies knelt, whether in respect to the heads of the family, or to
the royal guest, may be doubtful.

The Queen came up the stairs with rheumatic steps, declaring, however,
as she did so, that she felt the better for her ride, and was less
fatigued than when she set forth.  She had the soft, low, sweet
Scottish voice, and a thorough Scottish accent and language, tempered,
however, by French tones, and as, coming into the warmer air of the
hall, she withdrew her veil, her countenance was seen. Mary Stuart was
only thirty-one at this time, and her face was still youthful, though
worn and wearied, and bearing tokens of illness. The features were far
from being regularly beautiful; there was a decided cast in one of the
eyes, and in spite of all that Mary Talbot's detracting tongue had
said, Susan's first impression was disappointment.  But, as the Queen
greeted the lady whom she already knew, and the Earl presented his
daughter, Lady Grace, his stepdaughter, Elizabeth Cavendish, and his
kinswoman, Mistress Susan Talbot, the extraordinary magic of her eye
and lip beamed on them, the queenly grace and dignity joined with a
wonderful sweetness impressed them all, and each in measure felt the

The Earl led the Queen to the fire to obtain a little warmth before
mounting the stairs to her own apartments, and likewise while Lady
Shrewsbury was dismounting, and being handed up the stairs by her
second stepson, Gilbert.  The ladies likewise knelt on one knee to
greet this mighty dame, and the children should have done so too, but
little Cis, catching sight of Captain Richard, who had come up bearing
the Earl's hat, in immediate attendance on him, broke out with an
exulting cry of "Father! father! father!" trotted with outspread arms
right in front of the royal lady, embraced the booted leg in ecstasy,
and then stretching out, exclaimed "Up! up!"

"How now, malapert poppet!" exclaimed the Countess, and though at some
distance, uplifted her riding-rod.  Susan was ready to sink into the
earth with confusion at the great lady's displeasure, but Richard had
stooped and lifted the little maid in his arms, while Queen Mary
turned, her face lit up as by a sunbeam, and said, "Ah, bonnibell, art
thou fain to see thy father?  Wilt thou give me one of thy kisses,
sweet bairnie?" and as Richard held her up to the kind face, "A goodly
child, brave sir.  Thou must let me have her at times for a playfellow.
Wilt come and comfort a poor prisoner, little sweeting?"

The child responded with "Poor poor," stroking the soft delicate cheek,
but the Countess interfered, still wrathful.  "Master Richard, I marvel
that you should let her Grace be beset by a child, who, if she cannot
demean herself decorously, should have been left at home. Susan
Hardwicke, I thought I had schooled you better."

"Nay, madam, may not a babe's gentle deed of pity be pardoned?" said

"Oh! if it pleasures you, madam, so be it," said Lady Shrewsbury,
deferentially; "but there be children here more worthy of your notice
than yonder little black-browed wench, who hath been allowed to thrust
herself forward, while others have been kept back from importuning your

"No child can importune a mother who is cut off from her own," said
Mary, eager to make up for the jealousy she had excited.  "Is this
bonnie laddie yours, madam?  Ah! I should have known it by the

She held her white hand to receive the kisses of the boys: William
Cavendish, under his mother's eye, knelt obediently; Antony Babington,
a fair, pretty lad, of eight or nine, of a beautiful pink and white
complexion, pressed forward with an eager devotion which made the Queen
smile and press her delicate hand on his curled locks; as for Humfrey,
he retreated behind the shelter of his mother's farthingale, where his
presence was forgotten by every one else, and, after the rebuff just
administered to Cicely, there was no inclination to bring him to light,
or combat with his bashfulness.

The introductions over, Mary gave her hand to the Earl to be conducted
from the hall up the broad staircase, and along the great western
gallery to the south front, where for many days her properties had been
in course of being arranged.

Lady Shrewsbury followed as mistress of the house, and behind, in order
of precedence, came the Scottish Queen's household, in which the dark,
keen features of the French, and the rufous hues of the Scots, were
nearly equally divided.  Lady Livingstone and Mistress Seaton, two of
the Queen's Maries of the same age with herself, came next, the one led
by Lord Talbot, the other by Lord Livingstone. There was also the
faithful French Marie de Courcelles, paired with Master Beatoun,
comptroller of the household, and Jean Kennedy, a stiff Scotswoman,
whose hard outlines did not do justice to her tenderness and fidelity,
and with her was a tall, active, keen-faced stripling, looked on with
special suspicion by the English, as Willie Douglas, the contriver of
the Queen's flight from Lochleven.  Two secretaries, French and
Scottish, were shrewdly suspected of being priests, and there were
besides, a physician, surgeon, apothecary, with perfumers, cooks,
pantlers, scullions, lacqueys, to the number of thirty, besides their
wives and attendants, these last being "permitted of my lord's

They were all eyed askance by the sturdy, north country English, who
naturally hated all strangers, above all French and Scotch, and viewed
the band of captives much like a caged herd of wild beasts.

When on the way home Mistress Susan asked her little boy why he would
not make his obeisance to the pretty lady, he sturdily answered, "She
is no pretty lady of mine.  She is an evil woman who slew her husband."

"Poor lady! tongues have been busy with her," said his father.

"How, sir?" asked Susan, amazed, "do you think her guiltless in the

"I cannot tell," returned Richard.  "All I know is that many who have
no mercy on her would change their minds if they beheld her patient and
kindly demeanour to all."

This was a sort of shock to Susan, as it seemed to her to prove the
truth of little Lady Talbot's words, that no one was proof against
Queen Mary's wiles; but she was happy in having her husband at home
once more, though, as he told her, he would be occupied most of each
alternate day at Sheffield, he and another relation having been
appointed "gentlemen porters," which meant that they were to wait in a
chamber at the foot of the stairs, and keep watch over whatever went in
or out of the apartments of the captive and her suite.

"And," said Richard, "who think you came to see me at Wingfield? None
other than Cuthbert Langston."

"Hath he left his merchandise at Hull?"

"Ay, so he saith.  He would fain have had my good word to my lord for a
post in the household, as comptroller of accounts, clerk, or the like.
It seemed as though there were no office he would not take so that he
might hang about the neighbourhood of this queen."

"Then you would not grant him your recommendation?"

"Nay, truly.  I could not answer for him, and his very anxiety made me
the more bent on not bringing him hither.  I'd fain serve in no ship
where I know not the honesty of all the crew, and Cuthbert hath ever
had a hankering after the old profession."

"Verily then it were not well to bring him hither."

"Moreover, he is a lover of mysteries and schemes," said Richard. "He
would never be content to let alone the question of our little wench's
birth, and would be fretting us for ever about the matter."

"Did he speak of it?"

"Yes.  He would have me to wit that a nurse and babe had been put on
board at Dumbarton.  Well, said I, and so they must have been, since on
board they were.  Is that all thou hast to tell me?  And mighty as was
the work he would have made of it, this was all he seemed to know.  I
asked, in my turn, how he came to know thus much about a vessel sailing
from a port in arms against the Lords of the Congregation, the allies
of her Majesty?"

"What said he?"

"That his house had dealings with the owners of the Bride of Dunbar. I
like not such dealings, and so long as this lady and her train are near
us, I would by no means have him whispering here and there that she is
a Scottish orphan."

"It would chafe my Lady Countess!" said Susan, to whom this was a
serious matter.  "Yet doth it not behove us to endeavour to find out
her parentage?"

"I tell you I proved to myself that he knew nothing, and all that we
have to do is to hinder him from making mischief out of that little,"
returned Richard impatiently.

The honest captain could scarcely have told the cause of his distrust
or of his secrecy, but he had a general feeling that to let an
intriguer like Cuthbert Langston rake up any tale that could be
connected with the party of the captive queen, could only lead to
danger and trouble.



The oaks of Sheffield Park were one of the greatest glories of the
place.  Giants of the forest stretched their huge arms over the turf,
kept smooth and velvety by the creatures, wild and tame, that browsed
on it, and made their covert in the deep glades of fern and copse wood
that formed the background.

There were not a few whose huge trunks, of such girth that two men
together could not encompass them with outstretched arms, rose to a
height of more than sixty feet before throwing out a horizontal branch,
and these branches, almost trees in themselves, spread forty-eight feet
on each side of the bole, lifting a mountain of rich verdure above
them, and casting a delicious shade upon the ground beneath them.
Beneath one of these noble trees, some years after the arrival of the
hapless Mary Stuart, a party of children were playing, much to the
amusement of an audience of which they were utterly unaware, namely, of
sundry members of a deer-hunting party; a lady and gentleman who,
having become separated from the rest, were standing in the deep
bracken, which rose nearly as high as their heads, and were further
sheltered by a rock, looking and listening.

"Now then, Cis, bravely done!  Show how she treats her ladies--"

"Who will be her lady?  Thou must, Humfrey!"

"No, no, I'll never be a lady," said Humfrey gruffly.

"Thou then, Diccon."

"No, no," and the little fellow shrank back, "thou wilt hurt me, Cis."

"Come then, do thou, Tony!  I'll not strike too hard!"

"As if a wench could strike too hard."

"He might have turned that more chivalrously," whispered the lady to
her companion.  "What are they about to represent?  Mort de ma vie, the
profane little imps!  I, believe it is my sacred cousin, the Majesty of
England herself!  Truly the little maid hath a bearing that might serve
a queen, though she be all too black and beetle-browed for Queen
Elizabeth.  Who is she, Master Gilbert?"

"She is Cicely Talbot, daughter to the gentleman porter of your
Majesty's lodge."

"See to her--mark her little dignity with her heather and bluebell
crown as she sits on the rock, as stately as jewels could make her! See
her gesture with her hands, to mark where the standing ruff ought to
be.  She hath the true spirit of the Comedy--ah! and here cometh young
Antony with mincing pace, with a dock-leaf for a fan, and a mantle for
a farthingale!  She speaks! now hark!"

"Good morrow to you, my young mistress," began a voice pitched two
notes higher than its actual childlike key.  "Thou hast a new
farthingale, I see!  O Antony, that's not the way to curtsey--do it
like this.  No no! thou clumsy fellow--back and knees together."

"Never mind, Cis," interposed one of the boys--"we shall lose all our
play time if you try to make him do it with a grace.  Curtsies are
women's work--go on."

"Where was I?  O--" (resuming her dignity after these asides) "Thou
hast a new farthingale, I see."

"To do my poor honour to your Grace's birthday."

"Oh ho!  Is it so?  Methought it had been to do honour to my fair
mistress's own taper waist.  And pray how much an ell was yonder
broidered stuff?"

"Two crowns, an't please your Grace," returned the supposed lady,
making a wild conjecture.

"Two crowns! thou foolish Antony!"  Then recollecting herself, "two
crowns! what, when mine costs but half!  Thou presumptuous, lavish
varlet--no, no, wench! what right hast thou to wear gowns finer than
thy liege?--I'll teach you."  Wherewith, erecting all her talons, and
clawing frightfully with them in the air, the supposed Queen Bess leapt
at the unfortunate maid of honour, appeared to tear the imaginary robe,
and drove her victim on the stage with a great air of violence, amid
peals of laughter from the other children, loud enough to drown those
of the elders, who could hardly restrain their merriment.

Gilbert Talbot, however, had been looking about him anxiously all the
time, and would fain have moved away; but a sign from Queen Mary
withheld him, as one of the children cried,

"Now! show us how she serves her lords."

The play seemed well understood between them, for the mimic queen again
settled herself on her throne, while Will Cavendish, calling out, "Now
I'm Master Hatton," began to tread a stately measure on the grass,
while the queen exclaimed, "Who is this new star of my court? What
stalwart limbs, what graceful tread!  Who art thou, sir?"

"Madam, I am--I am.  What is it?  An ef--ef--"

"A daddy-long-legs," mischievously suggested another of the group.

"No, it's Latin.  Is it Ephraim?  No; it's a fly, something like a
gnat" (then at an impatient gesture from her Majesty) "disporting
itself in the beams of the noontide sun."

"Blood-sucking," whispered the real Queen behind the fern.  "He is not
so far out there.  See! see! with what a grace the child holds out her
little hand for him to kiss.  I doubt me if Elizabeth herself could be
more stately.  But who comes here?"

"I'm Sir Philip Sydney."

"No, no," shouted Humfrey, "Sir Philip shall not come into this
fooling.  My father says he's the best knight in England."

"He is as bad as the rest in flattery to the Queen," returned young

"I'll not have it, I say.  You may be Lord Leicester an you will! He's
but Robin Dudley."

"Ah!" began the lad, now advancing and shading his eyes.  "What
burnished splendour dazzles my weak sight?  Is it a second Juno that I
behold, or lovely Venus herself?  Nay, there is a wisdom in her that
can only belong to the great Minerva herself!  So youthful too. Is it
Hebe descended to this earth?"

Cis smirked, and held out a hand, saying in an affected tone, "Lord
Earl, are thy wits astray?"

"Whose wits would not be perturbed at the mere sight of such exquisite

"Come and sit at our feet, and we will try to restore them," said the
stage queen; but here little Diccon, the youngest of the party, eager
for more action, called out, "Show us how she treats her lords and
ladies together."

On which young Babington, as the lady, and Humfrey, made demonstrations
of love-making and betrothal, upon which their sovereign lady descended
on them with furious tokens of indignation, abusing them right and
left, until in the midst the great castle bell pealed forth, and caused
a flight general, being, in fact, the summons to the school kept in one
of the castle chambers by one Master Snigg, or Sniggius, for the
children of the numerous colony who peopled the castle.  Girls, as well
as boys, were taught there, and thus Cis accompanied Humfrey and
Diccon, and consorted with their companions.

Queen Mary was allowed to hunt and take out-of-door exercise in the
park whenever she pleased, but Lord Shrewsbury, or one of his sons,
Gilbert and Francis, never was absent from her for a moment when she
went beyond the door of the lesser lodge, which the Earl had erected
for her, with a flat, leaded, and parapeted roof, where she could take
the air, and with only one entrance, where was stationed a "gentleman
porter," with two subordinates, whose business it was to keep a close
watch over every person or thing that went in or out. If she had any
purpose of losing herself in the thickets of fern, or copsewood, in the
park, or holding unperceived conference under shelter of the chase,
these plans were rendered impossible by the pertinacious presence of
one or other of the Talbots, who acted completely up to their name.

Thus it was that the Queen, with Gilbert in close attendance, had found
herself an unseen spectator of the children's performance, which she
watched with the keen enjoyment that sometimes made her forget her
troubles for the moment.

"How got the imps such knowledge?" mused Gilbert Talbot, as he led the
Queen out on the sward which had been the theatre of their mimicry.

"Do _you_ ask that, Sir Gilbert?" said the Queen with emphasis, for
indeed it was his wife who had been the chief retailer of scandal about
Queen Elizabeth, to the not unwilling ears of herself and his mother;
and Antony Babington, as my lady's page, had but used his opportunities.

"They are insolent varlets and deserve the rod," continued Gilbert.

"You are too ready with the rod, you English," returned Mary.  "You
flog all that is clever and spirited out of your poor children!"

"That is the question, madam.  Have the English been found so deficient
in spirit compared with other nations?"

"Ah! we all know what you English can say for yourselves," returned the
Queen.  "See what Master John Coke hath made of the herald's argument
before Dame Renown, in his translation.  He hath twisted all the other

"Yea, madam, but the French herald had it all his own way before.  So
it was but just we should have our turn."

Here a cry from the other hunters greeted them, and they found Lord
Shrewsbury, some of the ladies, and a number of prickers, looking
anxiously for them.

"Here we are, good my lord," said the Queen, who, when free from
rheumatism, was a most active walker.  "We have only been stalking my
sister Queen's court in small, the prettiest and drollest pastime I
have seen for many a long day."

Much had happened in the course of the past years.  The intrigues with
Northumberland and Norfolk, and the secret efforts of the unfortunate
Queen to obtain friends, and stir up enemies against Elizabeth, had
resulted in her bonds being drawn closer and closer. The Rising of the
North had taken place, and Cuthbert Langston had been heard of as
taking a prominent part beneath the sacred banner, but he had been
wounded and not since heard of, and his kindred knew not whether he
were among the unnamed dead who loaded the trees in the rear of the
army of Sussex, or whether he had escaped beyond seas.  Richard Talbot
still remained as one of the trusted kinsmen of Lord Shrewsbury, on
whom that nobleman depended for the execution of the charge which
yearly became more wearisome and onerous, as hope decayed and plots

Though resident in the new lodge with her train, it was greatly
diminished by the dismissal from time to time of persons who were
regarded as suspicious; Mary still continued on intimate terms with
Lady Shrewsbury and her daughters, specially distinguishing with her
favour Bessie Pierrepoint, the eldest grandchild of the Countess, who
slept with her, and was her plaything and her pupil in French and
needlework.  The fiction of her being guest and not prisoner had not
entirely passed away; visitors were admitted, and she went in and out
of the lodge, walked or rode at will, only under pretext of courtesy.
She never was unaccompanied by the Earl or one of his sons, and they
endeavoured to make all private conversation with strangers, or persons
unauthorised from Court, impossible to her.

The invitation given to little Cicely on the arrival had not been
followed up.  The Countess wished to reserve to her own family all the
favours of one who might at any moment become the Queen of England, and
she kept Susan Talbot and her children in what she called their meet
place, in which that good lady thoroughly acquiesced, having her hands
much too full of household affairs to run after queens.

There was a good deal of talk about this child's play, a thing which
had much better have been left where it was; but in a seclusion like
that of Sheffield subjects of conversation were not over numerous, and
every topic which occurred was apt to be worried to shreds.  So Lady
Shrewsbury and her daughters heard the Queen's arch description of the
children's mimicry, and instantly conceived a desire to see the scene
repeated.  The gentlemen did not like it at all: their loyalty was
offended at the insult to her gracious Majesty, and besides, what might
not happen if such sports ever came to her ears? However, the Countess
ruled Sheffield; and Mary Talbot and Bessie Cavendish ruled the
Countess, and they were bent on their own way. So the representation
was to take place in the great hall of the manor-house, and the actors
were to be dressed in character from my lady's stores.

"They will ruin it, these clumsy English, after their own fashion,"
said Queen Mary, among her ladies.  "It was the unpremeditated grace
and innocent audacity of the little ones that gave the charm.  Now it
will be a mere broad farce, worthy of Bess of Hardwicke.  Mais que
voulez vous?"

The performance was, however, laid under a great disadvantage by the
absolute refusal of Richard and Susan Talbot to allow their Cicely to
assume the part of Queen Elizabeth.  They had been dismayed at her
doing so in child's play, and since she could read fluently, write
pretty well, and cipher a little, the good mother had decided to put a
stop to this free association with the boys at the castle, and to keep
her at home to study needlework and housewifery.  As to her acting with
boys before the assembled households, the proposal seemed to them
absolutely insulting to any daughter of the Talbot line, and they had
by this time forgotten that she was no such thing.  Bess Cavendish, the
special spoilt child of the house, even rode down, armed with her
mother's commands, but her feudal feeling did not here sway Mistress

Public acting was esteemed an indignity for women, and, though Cis was
a mere child, all Susan's womanhood awoke, and she made answer firmly
that she could not obey my lady Countess in this.

Bess flounced out of the house, indignantly telling her she should rue
the day, and Cis herself cried passionately, longing after the fine
robes and jewels, and the presentation of herself as a queen before the
whole company of the castle.  The harsh system of the time made the
good mother think it her duty to requite this rebellion with the rod,
and to set the child down to her seam in the corner, and there sat Cis,
pouting and brooding over what Antony Babington had told her of what he
had picked up when in his page's capacity, attending his lady, of Queen
Mary's admiration of the pretty ways and airs of the little mimic Queen
Bess, till she felt as if she were defrauded of her due.  The captive
Queen was her dream, and to hear her commendations, perhaps be kissed
by her, would be supreme bliss. Nay, she still hoped that there would
be an interference of the higher powers on her behalf, which would give
her a triumph.

No!  Captain Talbot came home, saying, "So, Mistress Sue, thou art a
steadfast woman, to have resisted my lady's will!"

"I knew, my good husband, that thou wouldst never see our Cis even in
sport a player!"

"Assuredly not, and thou hadst the best of it, for when Mistress Bess
came in as full of wrath as a petard of powder, and made your refusal
known, my lord himself cried out, 'And she's in the right o't!  What a
child may do in sport is not fit for a gentlewoman in earnest.'"

"Then, hath not my lord put a stop to the whole?"

"Fain would he do so, but the Countess and her daughters are set on
carrying out the sport.  They have set Master Sniggius to indite the
speeches, and the boys of the school are to take the parts for their
autumn interlude."

"Surely that is perilous, should it come to the knowledge of those at

"Oh, I promise you, Sniggius hath a device for disguising all that
could give offence.  The Queen will become Semiramis or Zenobia, I know
not which, and my Lord of Leicester, Master Hatton, and the others,
will be called Ninus or Longinus, or some such heathenish long-tailed
terms, and speak speeches of mighty length.  Are they to be in Latin,

"Oh no, sir," said Humfrey, with a shudder.  "Master Sniggius would
have had them so, but the young ladies said they would have nothing to
do with the affair if there were one word of Latin uttered.  It is bad
enough as it is.  I am to be Philidaspes, an Assyrian knight, and have
some speeches to learn, at least one is twenty-five lines, and not one
is less than five!"

"A right requital for thy presumptuous and treasonable game, my son,"
said his father, teasing him.

"And who is to be the Queen?" asked the mother.

"Antony Babington," said Humfrey, "because he can amble and mince more
like a wench than any of us.  The worse luck for him.  He will have
more speeches than any one of us to learn."

The report of the number of speeches to be learnt took off the sting of
Cis's disappointment, though she would not allow that it did so,
declaring with truth that she could learn by hearing faster than any of
the boys.  Indeed, she did learn all Humfrey's speeches, and Antony's
to boot, and assisted both of them with all her might in committing
them to memory.

As Captain Talbot had foretold, the boys' sport was quite sufficiently
punished by being made into earnest.  Master Sniggius was far from
merciful as to length, and his satire was so extremely remote that
Queen Elizabeth herself could hardly have found out that Zenobia's fine
moral lecture on the vanities of too aspiring ruffs was founded on the
box on the ear which rewarded poor Lady Mary Howard's display of her
rich petticoat, nor would her cheeks have tingled when the Queen of the
East--by a bold adaptation--played the part of Lion in interrupting the
interview of our old friends Pyramus and Thisbe, who, by an awful
anachronism, were carried to Palmyra. It was no plagiarism from
"Midsummer Night's Dream," only drawn from the common stock of

So, shorn of all that was perilous, and only understood by the
initiated, the play took place in the Castle Hall, the largest
available place, with Queen Mary seated upon the dais, with a canopy of
State over her head, Lady Shrewsbury on a chair nearly as high, the
Earl, the gentlemen and ladies of their suites drawn up in a circle,
the servants where they could, the Earl's musicians thundering with
drums, tooting with fifes, twanging on fiddles, overhead in a gallery.
Cis and Diccon, on either side of Susan Talbot, gazing on the stage,
where, much encumbered by hoop and farthingale, and arrayed in a yellow
curled wig, strutted forth Antony Babington, declaiming--

          "Great Queen Zenobia am I,
           The Roman Power I defy.
           At my Palmyra, in the East,
           I rule o'er every man and beast"

Here was an allusion couched in the Roman power, which Master Antony
had missed, or he would hardly have uttered it, since he was of a Roman
Catholic family, though, while in the Earl's household, he had to
conform outwardly.

A slender, scholarly lad, with a pretty, innocent face, and a voice
that could "speak small, like a woman," came in and announced himself

          "I'm Thisbe, an Assyrian maid,
           My robe's with jewels overlaid."

The stiff colloquy between the two boys, encumbered with their dresses,
shy and awkward, and rehearsing their lines like a task, was no small
contrast to the merry impromptu under the oak, and the gay, free grace
of the children.

Poor Philidaspes acquitted himself worst of all, for when done up in a
glittering suit of sham armour, with a sword and dagger of lath, his
entire speech, though well conned, deserted him, and he stood
red-faced, hesitating, and ready to cry, when suddenly from the midst
of the spectators there issued a childish voice, "Go on, Humfrey!

          "Philidaspes am I, most valorous knight,
           Ever ready for Church and Queen to fight.

"Go on, I say!" and she gave a little stamp of impatience, to the
extreme confusion of the mother and the great amusement of the
assembled company.  Humfrey, once started, delivered himself of the
rest of his oration in a glum and droning voice, occasioning fits of
laughter, such as by no means added to his self-possession.

The excellent Sniggius and his company of boys had certainly, whether
intentionally or not, deprived the performance of all its personal
sting, and most likewise of its interest.  Such diversion as the
spectators derived was such as Hippolyta seems to have found in
listening to Wall, Lion, Moonshine and Co.; but, like Theseus, Lord
Shrewsbury was very courteous, and complimented both playwright and
actors, relieved and thankful, no doubt, that Queen Zenobia was so
unlike his royal mistress.

There was nothing so much enforced by Queen Elizabeth as that strangers
should not have resort to Sheffield Castle.  No spectators, except
those attached to the household, and actually forming part of the
colony within the park, were therefore supposed to be admitted, and all
of them were carefully kept at a distant part of the hall, where they
could have no access to the now much reduced train of the Scottish
Queen, with whom all intercourse was forbidden.

Humfrey was therefore surprised when, just as he had come out of the
tiring-room, glad to divest himself of his encumbering and gaudy
equipments, a man touched him on the arm and humbly said, "Sir, I have
a humble entreaty to make of you.  If you would convey my petition to
the Queen of Scots!"

"I have nothing to do with the Queen of Scots," said the
ex-Philidaspes, glancing suspiciously at the man's sleeve, where,
however, he saw the silver dog, the family badge.

"She is a charitable lady," continued the man, who looked like a groom,
"and if she only knew that my poor old aunt is lying famishing, she
would aid her.  Pray you, good my lord, help me to let this scroll
reach to her."

"I'm no lord, and I have naught to do with the Queen," repeated
Humfrey, while at the same moment Antony, who had been rather longer in
getting out of his female attire, presented himself; and Humfrey,
pitying the man's distress, said, "This young gentleman is the
Countess's page.  He sometimes sees the Queen."

The man eagerly told his story, how his aunt, the widow of a huckster,
had gone on with the trade till she had been cruelly robbed and beaten,
and now was utterly destitute, needing aid to set herself up again.
The Queen of Scots was noted for her beneficent almsgiving, and a few
silver pieces from her would be quite sufficient to replenish her

Neither boy doubted a moment.  Antony had the entree to the presence
chamber, where on this festival night the Earl and Countess were sure
to be with the Queen.  He went straightway thither, and trained as he
was in the usages of the place, told his business to the Earl, who was
seated near the Queen.  Lord Shrewsbury took the petition from him,
glanced it over, and asked, "Who knew the Guy Norman who sent it?"
Frank Talbot answered for him, that he was a yeoman pricker, and the
Earl permitted the paper to be carried to Mary, watching her carefully
as she read it, when Antony had presented it on one knee.

"Poor woman!" she said, "it is a piteous case.  Master Beatoun, hast
thou my purse?  Here, Master Babington, wilt thou be the bearer of this
angel for me, since I know that the delight of being the bearer will be
a reward to thy kind heart."

Antony gracefully kissed the fair hand, and ran off joyously with the
Queen's bounty.  Little did any one guess what the career thus begun
would bring that fair boy.



The huckstering woman, Tibbott by name, was tended by Queen Mary's
apothecary, and in due time was sent off well provided, to the great
fair of York, whence she returned with a basket of needles, pins (such
as they were), bodkins, and the like articles, wherewith to circulate
about Hallamshire, but the gate-wards would not relax their rules so
far as to admit her into the park.  She was permitted, however, to
bring her wares to the town of Sheffield, and to Bridgefield, but she
might come no farther.

Thither Antony Babington came down to lay out the crown which had been
given to him on his birthday, and indeed half Master Sniggius's
scholars discovered needs, and came down either to spend, or to give
advice to the happy owners of groats and testers.  So far so good; but
the huckster-woman soon made Bridgefield part of her regular rounds,
and took little commissions which she executed for the household of
Sheffield, who were, as the Cavendish sisters often said in their
spleen, almost as much prisoners as the Queen of Scots. Antony
Babington was always her special patron, and being Humfrey's great
companion and playfellow, he was allowed to come in and out of the
gates unquestioned, to play with him and with Cis, who no longer went
to school, but was trained at home in needlework and housewifery.

Match-making began at so early an age, that when Mistress Susan had
twice found her and Antony Babington with their heads together over the
lamentable ballad of the cold fish that had been a lady, and which sang
its own history "forty thousand fathom above water," she began to
question whether the girl were the attraction.  He was now an orphan,
and his wardship and marriage had been granted to the Earl, who, having
disposed of all his daughters and stepdaughters, except Bessie
Cavendish, might very fairly bestow on the daughter of his kinsman so
good a match as the young squire of Dethick.

"Then should we have to consider of her parentage," said Richard, when
his wife had propounded her views.

"I never can bear in mind that the dear wench is none of ours," said
Susan.  "Thou didst say thou wouldst portion her as if she were our own
little maid, and I have nine webs ready for her household linen. Must
we speak of her as a stranger?"

"It would scarce be just towards another family to let them deem her of
true Talbot blood, if she were to enter among them," said Richard;
"though I look on the little merry maid as if she were mine own child.
But there is no need yet to begin upon any such coil; and, indeed, I
would wager that my lady hath other views for young Babington."

After all, parents often know very little of what passes in children's
minds, and Cis never hinted to her mother that the bond of union
between her and Antony was devotion to the captive Queen.  Cis had only
had a glimpse or two of her, riding by when hunting or hawking, or
when, on festive occasions, all who were privileged to enter the park
were mustered together, among whom the Talbots ranked high as kindred
to both Earl and Countess; but those glimpses had been enough to fill
the young heart with romance, such as the matter-of-fact elders never
guessed at.  Antony Babington, who was often actually in the gracious
presence, and received occasional smiles, and even greetings, was
immeasurably devoted to the Queen, and maintained Cicely's admiration
by his vivid descriptions of the kindness, the grace, the charms of the
royal captive, in contrast with the innate vulgarity of their own

Willie Douglas (the real Roland Graeme of the escape from Lochleven)
had long ago been dismissed from Mary's train, with all the other
servants who were deemed superfluous; but Antony had heard the details
of the story from Jean Kennedy (Mrs. Kennett, as the English were
pleased to call her), and Willie was the hero of his emulative

"What would I not do to be like him!" he fervently exclaimed when he
had narrated the story to Humfrey and Cis, as they lay on a nest in the
fern one fine autumn day, resting after an expedition to gather
blackberries for the mother's preserving.

"I would not be him for anything," said Humfrey.

"Fie, Humfrey," cried Cis; "would not you dare exile or anything else
in a good cause?"

"For a good cause, ay," said Humfrey in his stolid way.

"And what can be a better cause than that of the fairest of captive
queens?" exclaimed Antony, hotly.

"I would not be a traitor," returned Humfrey, as he lay on his back,
looking up through the chequerwork of the branches of the trees towards
the sky.

"Who dares link the word traitor with my name?" said Babington, feeling
for the imaginary handle of a sword.

"Not I; but you'll get it linked if you go on in this sort."

"For shame, Humfrey," again cried Cis, passionately.  "Why, delivering
imprisoned princesses always was the work of a true knight."

"Yea; but they first defied the giant openly," said Humfrey.

"What of that?" said Antony.

"They did not do it under trust," said Humfrey.

"I am not under trust," said Antony.  "Your father may be a sworn
servant of the Earl and, the Queen--Queen Elizabeth, I mean; but I have
taken no oaths--nobody asked me if I would come here."

"No," said Humfrey, knitting his brows, "but you see we are all trusted
to go in and out as we please, on the understanding that we do nought
that can be unfaithful to the Earl; and I suppose it was thus with this
same Willie Douglas."

"She was his own true and lawful Queen," cried Cis.  "His first duty
was to her."

Humfrey sat up and looked perplexed, but with a sudden thought
exclaimed, "No Scots are we, thanks be to Heaven! and what might be
loyalty in him would be rank treason in us."

"How know you that?" said Antony.  "I have heard those who say that our
lawful Queen is there," and he pointed towards the walls that rose in
the distance above the woods.

Humfrey rose wrathful.  "Then truly you are no better than a traitor,
and a Spaniard, and a Papist," and fists were clenched on both aides,
while Cis flew between, pulling down Humfrey's uplifted hand, and
crying, "No, no; he did not say he thought so, only he had heard it."

"Let him say it again!" growled Antony, his arm bared.

"No, don't, Humfrey!" as if she saw it between his clenched teeth. "You
know you only meant if Tony thought so, and he didn't.  Now how can you
two be so foolish and unkind to me, to bring me out for a holiday to
eat blackberries and make heather crowns, and then go and spoil it all
with folly about Papists, and Spaniards, and grown-up people's nonsense
that nobody cares about!"

Cis had a rare power over both her comrades, and her piteous appeal
actually disarmed them, since there was no one present to make them
ashamed of their own placability.  Grown-up people's follies were
avoided by mutual consent through the rest of the walk, and the three
children parted amicably when Antony had to return to fulfil his page's
duties at my lord's supper, and Humfrey and Cis carried home their big
basket of blackberries.

When they entered their own hall they found their mother engaged in
conversation with a tall, stout, and weather-beaten man, whom she
announced--"See here, my children, here is a good friend of your
father's, Master Goatley, who was his chief mate in all his voyages,
and hath now come over all the way from Hull to see him!  He will be
here anon, sir, so soon as the guard is changed at the Queen's lodge.
Meantime, here are the elder children."

Diccon, who had been kept at home by some temporary damage to his foot,
and little Edward were devouring the sailor with their eyes; and
Humfrey and Cis were equally delighted with the introduction,
especially as Master Goatley was just returned from the Western Main,
and from a curious grass-woven basket which he carried slung to his
side, produced sundry curiosities in the way of beads, shell-work,
feather-work, and a hatchet of stone, and even a curious armlet of
soft, dull gold, with pearls set in it.  This he had, with great
difficulty, obtained on purpose for Mistress Talbot, who had once cured
him of a bad festering hurt received on board ship.

The children clustered round in ecstasies of admiration and wonder as
they heard of the dark brown atives, the curious expedients by which
barter was carried on; also of cruel Spaniards, and of savage fishes,
with all the marvels of flying-fish, corals, palm-trees, humming
birds--all that is lesson work to our modern youth, but was the most
brilliant of living fairy tales at this Elizabethan period.  Humfrey
and Diccon were ready to rush off to voyage that instant, and even
little Ned cried imitatively in his imperfect language that he would be
"a tailor."

Then their father came home, and joyfully welcomed and clasped hands
with his faithful mate, declaring that the sight did him good; and they
sat down to supper and talked of voyages, till the boys' eyes glowed,
and they beat upon their own knees with the enthusiasm that their
strict manners bade them repress; while their mother kept back her
sighs as she saw them becoming infected with that sea fever so dreaded
by parents.  Nay, she saw it in her husband himself.  She knew him to
be grievously weary of a charge most monotonously dull, and only varied
by suspicions and petty detections; and that he was hungering and
thirsting for his good ship and to be facing winds and waves.  She
could hear his longing in the very sound of the "Ays?" and brief
inquiries by which he encouraged Goatley to proceed in the story of
voyages and adventures, and she could not wonder when Goatley said,
"Your heart is in it still, sir.  Not one of us all but says it is a
pity such a noble captain should be lost as a landsman, with nothing to
do but to lock the door on a lady."

"Speak not of it, my good Goatley," said Richard, hastily, "or you will
set me dreaming and make me mad."

"Then it is indeed so," returned Goatley.  "Wherefore then come you
not, sir, where a crew is waiting for you of as good fellows as ever
stepped on a deck, and who, one and all, are longing after such a
captain as you are, sir?  Wherefore hold back while still in your

"Ask the mistress, there," said Richard, as he saw his Susan's white
face and trembling fingers, though she kept her eyes on her work to
prevent them from betraying their tears and their wistfulness.

"O sweet father," burst forth Humfrey, "do but go, and take me.  I am
quite old enough."

"Nay, Humfrey, 'tis no matter of liking," said his father, not wishing
to prolong his wife's suspense.  "Look you here, boy, my Lord Earl is
captain of all of his name by right of birth, and so long as he needs
my services, I have no right to take them from him.  Dost see, my boy?"

Humfrey reluctantly did see.  It was a great favour to be thus argued
with, and admitted of no reply.

Mrs. Talbot's heart rejoiced, but she was not sorry that it was time
for her to carry off Diccon and Ned to their beds, away from the
fascinating narrative, and she would give no respite, though Diccon
pleaded hard.  In fact, the danger might be the greatest to him, since
Humfrey, though born within the smell of the sea, might be retained by
the call of duty like his father.  To Cis, at least, she thought the
sailor's conversation could do no harm, little foreboding the words
that presently ensued.  "And, sir, what befell the babe we found in our
last voyage off the Spurn?  It would methinks be about the age of this
pretty mistress."

Richard Talbot endeavoured to telegraph a look both of assent and
warning, but though Master Goatley would have been sharp to detect the
least token of a Spanish galleon on the most distant horizon, the
signal fell utterly short.  "Ay, sir.  What, is it so?  Bless me! The
very maiden!  And you have bred her up for your own."

"Sir!  Father!" cried Cis, looking from one to the other, with eyes and
mouth wide open.

"Soh!" cried the sailor, "what have I done?  I beg your pardon, sir, if
I have overhauled what should have been let alone.  But," continued the
honest, but tactless man, "who could have thought of the like of that,
and that the pretty maid never knew it?  Ay, ay, dear heart.  Never
fear but that the captain will be good father to you all the same."

For Richard Talbot had held out his arm, and, as Cis ran up to him, he
had seated her on his knee, and held her close to him.  Humfrey
likewise started up with an impulse to contradict, which was suddenly
cut short by a strange flash of memory, so all he did was to come up to
his father, and grasp one of the girl's hands as fast as he could. She
trembled and shivered, but there was something in the presence of this
strange man which choked back all inquiry, and the silence, the
vehement grasp, and the shuddering, alarmed the captain, lest she might
suddenly go off into a fit upon his hands.

"This is gear for mother," said he, and taking her up like a baby,
carried her off, followed closely by Humfrey.  He met Susan coming
down, asking anxiously, "Is she sick?"

"I hope not, mother," he said, "but honest Goatley, thinking no harm,
hath blurted out that which we had never meant her to know, at least
not yet awhile, and it hath wrought strangely with her."

"Then it is true, father?" said Humfrey, in rather an awe-stricken
voice, while Cis still buried her face on the captain's breast.

"Yes," he said, "yea, my children, it is true that God sent us a
daughter from the sea and the wreck when He had taken our own little
maid to His rest.  But we have ever loved our Cis as well, and hope
ever to do so while she is our good child.  Take her, mother, and tell
the children how it befell; if I go not down, the fellow will spread it
all over the house, and happily none were present save Humfrey and the
little maiden."

Susan put the child down on her own bed, and there, with Humfrey
standing by, told the history of the father carrying in the little
shipwrecked babe.  They both listened with eyes devouring her, but they
were as yet too young to ask questions about evidences, and Susan did
not volunteer these, only when the girl asked, "Then, have I no name?"
she answered, "A godly minister, Master Heatherthwayte, gave thee the
name of Cicely when he christened thee."

"I marvel who I am?" said Cis, gazing round her, as if the world were
all new to her.

"It does not matter," said Humfrey, "you are just the same to us, is
she not, mother?"

"She is our dear Heaven-sent child," said the mother tenderly.

"But thou art not my true mother, nor Humfrey nor Diccon my brethren,"
she said, stretching out her hands like one in the dark.

"If I'm not your brother, Cis, I'll be your husband, and then you will
have a real right to be called Talbot.  That's better than if you were
my sister, for then you would go away, I don't know where, and now you
will always be mine--mine--mine very own."

And as he gave Cis a hug in assurance of his intentions, his father,
who was uneasy about the matter, looked in again, and as Susan, with
tears in her eyes, pointed to the children, the good man said, "By my
faith, the boy has found the way to cut the knot--or rather to tie it.
What say you, dame?  If we do not get a portion for him, we do not have
to give one with her, so it is as broad as it is long, and she remains
our dear child.  Only listen, children, you are both old enough to keep
a secret.  Not one word of all this matter is to be breathed to any
soul till I bid you."

"Not to Diccon," said Humfrey decidedly.

"Nor to Antony?" asked Cis wistfully.

"To Antony?  No, indeed!  What has he to do with it?  Now, to your
beds, children, and forget all about this tale."

"There, Humfrey," broke out Cis, as soon as they were alone together,
"Huckstress Tibbott _is_ a wise woman, whatever thou mayest say."

"How?" said Humfrey.

"Mindst thou not the day when I crossed her hand with the tester father
gave me?"

"When mother whipped thee for listening to fortune-tellers and wasting
thy substance.  Ay, I mind it well," said Humfrey, "and how thou didst
stand simpering at her pack of lies, ere mother made thee sing another

"Nay, Humfrey, they were no lies, though I thought them so then.  She
said I was not what I seemed, and that the Talbots' kennel would not
always hold one of the noble northern eagles.  So Humfrey, sweet
Humfrey, thou must not make too sure of wedding me."

"I'll wed thee though all the lying old gipsy-wives in England wore
their false throats out in screeching out that I shall not," cried

"But she must have known," said Cis, in an awestruck voice; "the
spirits must have spoken with her, and said that I am none of the

"Hath mother heard this?" asked Humfrey, recoiling a little, but never
thinking of the more plausible explanation.

"Oh no, no! tell her not, Humfrey, tell her not.  She said she would
whip me again if ever I talked again of the follies that the
fortune-telling woman had gulled me with, for if they were not deceits,
they were worse.  And, thou seest, they are worse, Humfrey!"

With which awe-stricken conclusion the children went off to bed.



A child's point of view is so different from that of a grown person,
that the discovery did not make half so much difference to Cis as her
adopted parents expected.  In fact it was like a dream to her.  She
found her daily life and her surroundings the same, and her chief
interest was--at least apparently--how soon she could escape from
psalter and seam, to play with little Ned, and look out for the elder
boys returning, or watch for the Scottish Queen taking her daily ride.
Once, prompted by Antony, Cis had made a beautiful nosegay of lilies
and held it up to the Queen when she rode in at the gate on her return
from Buxton.  She had been rewarded by the sweetest of smiles, but
Captain Talbot had said it must never happen again, or he should be
accused of letting billets pass in posies.  The whole place was
pervaded, in fact, by an atmosphere of suspicion, and the vigilance,
which might have been endurable for a few months, was wearing the
spirits and temper of all concerned, now that it had already lasted for
seven or eight years, and there seemed no end to it.  Moreover, in
spite of all care, it every now and then became apparent that Queen
Mary had some communication with the outer world which no one could
trace, though the effects endangered the life of Queen Elizabeth, the
peace of the kingdom, and the existence of the English Church.  The
blame always fell upon Lord Shrewsbury; and who could wonder that he
was becoming captiously suspicious, and soured in temper, so that even
such faithful kinsmen as Richard Talbot could sometimes hardly bear
with him, and became punctiliously anxious that there should not be the
smallest loophole for censure of the conduct of himself and his family?

The person on whom Master Goatley's visit had left the most impression
seemed to be Humfrey.  On the one hand, his father's words had made him
enter into his situation of trust and loyalty, and perceive something
of the constant sacrifice of self to duty that it required, and, on the
other hand, he had assumed a position towards Cis of which he in some
degree felt the force.  There was nothing in the opinions of the time
to render their semi-betrothal ridiculous. At the Manor house itself,
Gilbert Talbot and Mary Cavendish had been married when no older than
he was; half their contemporaries were already plighted, and the only
difference was that in the present harassing state of surveillance in
which every one lived, the parents thought that to avow the secret so
long kept might bring about inquiry and suspicion, and they therefore
wished it to be guarded till the marriage could be contracted.  As Cis
developed, she had looks and tones which so curiously harmonised, now
with the Scotch, now with the French element in the royal captive's
suite, and which made Captain Richard believe that she must belong to
some of the families who seemed amphibious between the two courts; and
her identification as a Seaton, a Flemyng, a Beatoun, or as a member of
any of the families attached to the losing cause, would only involve
her in exile and disgrace.  Besides, there was every reason to think
her an orphan, and a distant kinsman was scarcely likely to give her
such a home as she had at Bridgefield, where she had always been looked
on as a daughter, and was now regarded as doubly their own in right of
their son.  So Humfrey was permitted to consider her as peculiarly his
own, and he exerted this right of property by a certain jealousy of
Antony Babington which amused his parents, and teased the young lady.
Nor was he wholly actuated by the jealousy of proprietorship, for he
knew the devotion with which Antony regarded Queen Mary, and did not
wholly trust him.  His sense of honour and duty to his father's trust
was one thing, Antony's knight-errantry to the beautiful captive was
another; each boy thought himself strictly honourable, while they moved
in parallel lines and could not understand one another; yet, with the
reserve of childhood, all that passed between them was a secret, till
one afternoon when loud angry sounds and suppressed sobs attracted
Mistress Susan to the garden, where she found Cis crying bitterly, and
little Diccon staring eagerly, while a pitched battle was going on
between her eldest son and young Antony Babington, who were pommelling
each other too furiously to perceive her approach.

"Boys! boys! fie for shame," she cried, with a hand on the shoulder of
each, and they stood apart at her touch, though still fiercely looking
at one another.

"See what spectacles you have made of yourselves!" she continued. "Is
this your treatment of your guest, Humfrey?  How is my Lord's page to
show himself at Chatsworth to-morrow with such an eye?  What is it all

Both combatants eyed each other in sullen silence.

"Tell me, Cis.  Tell me, Diccon.  I will know, or you shall have the
rod as well as Humfrey."

Diccon, who was still in the era of timidity, instead of secretiveness,
spoke out.  "He," indicating his brother, "wanted the packet."

"What packet?" exclaimed the mother, alarmed.

"The packet that _he_ (another nod towards Antony) wanted Cis to give
that witch in case she came while he is at Chatsworth."

"It was the dog-whistle," said Cis.  "It hath no sound in it, and
Antony would have me change it for him, because Huckster Tibbott may
not come within the gates.  I did not want to do so; I fear Tibbott,
and when Humfrey found me crying he fell on Antony.  So blame him not,

"If Humfrey is a jealous churl, and Cis a little fool, there's no help
for it," said Antony, disdainfully turning his back on his late

"Then let me take charge of this whistle," returned the lady, moved by
the universal habit of caution, but Antony sprang hastily to intercept
her as she was taking from the little girl a small paper packet tied
round with coloured yarn, but he was not in time, and could only
exclaim, "Nay, nay, madam, I will not trouble you.  It is nothing."

"Master Babington," said Susan firmly, "you know as well as I do that
no packet may pass out of the park unopened.  If you wished to have the
whistle changed you should have brought it uncovered.  I am sorry for
the discourtesy, and ask your pardon, but this parcel may not pass."

"Then," said Antony, with difficulty repressing something much more
passionate and disrespectful, "let me have it again."

"Nay, Master Babington, that would not suit with my duty."

The boy altogether lost his temper.  "Duty! duty!" he cried.  "I am
sick of the word.  All it means is a mere feigned excuse for prying and
spying, and besetting the most beautiful and unhappy princess in the
world for her true faith and true right!"

"Master Antony Babington," said Susan gravely, "you had better take
care what you are about.  If those words of yours had been spoken in my
Lord's hearing, they would bring you worse than the rod or bread and

"What care I what I suffer for such a Queen?" exclaimed Antony.

"Suffering is a different matter from saying 'What care I,'" returned
the lady, "as I fear you will learn, Master Antony."

"O mother! sweet mother," said Cis, "you will not tell of him!"--but
mother shook her head.

"Prithee, dear mother," added Humfrey, seeing no relenting in her
countenance, "I did but mean to hinder Cis from being maltreated and a
go-between in this traffic with an old witch, not to bring Tony into

"His face is a tell-tale, Humfrey," said Susan.  "I meant ere now to
have put a piece of beef on it.  Come in, Antony, and let me wash it."

"Thank you, madam, I need nothing here," said Antony, stalking proudly
off; while Humfrey, exclaiming "Don't be an ass, Tony!--Mother, no one
would care to ask what we had given one another black eyes for in a
friendly way," tried to hold him back, and he did linger when Cis added
her persuasions to him not to return the spectacle he was at present.

"If this lady will promise not to betray an unfortunate Queen," he
said, as if permission to deal with his bruises were a great reward.

"Oh! you foolish boy!" exclaimed Mistress Talbot, "you were never meant
for a plotter! you have yourself betrayed that you are her messenger."

"And I am not ashamed of it," said Antony, holding his head high.
"Madam, madam, if you have surprised this from me, you are the more
bound not to betray her.  Think, lady, if you were shut up from your
children and friends, would you not seek to send tidings to them?"

"Child, child!  Heaven knows I am not blaming the poor lady within
there.  I am only thinking what is right."

"Well," said Antony, somewhat hopefully, "if that be all, give me back
the packet, or tear it up, if you will, and there can be no harm done."

"Oh, do so, sweet mother," entreated Cis, earnestly; "he will never bid
me go to Tibbott again."

"Ay," said Humfrey, "then no tales will be told."

For even he, with all his trustworthiness, or indeed because of it,
could not bear to bring a comrade to disgrace; but the dilemma was put
an end to by the sudden appearance on the scene of Captain Richard
himself, demanding the cause of the disturbance, and whether his sons
had been misbehaving to their guest.

"Dear sir, sweet father, do not ask," entreated Cis, springing to him,
and taking his hand, as she was privileged to do; "mother has come, and
it is all made up and over now."

Richard Talbot, however, had seen the packet which his wife was
holding, and her anxious, perplexed countenance, and the perilous
atmosphere of suspicion around him made it incumbent on him to turn to
her and say, "What means this, mother?  Is it as Cis would have me
believe, a mere childish quarrel that I may pass over? or what is this

"Master Babington saith it is a dog-whistle which he was leaving in
charge with Cis to exchange for another with Huckstress Tibbott," she

"Feel,--nay, open it, and see if it be not, sir," cried Antony.

"I doubt not that so it is," said the captain; "but you know, Master
Babington, that it is the duty of all here in charge to let no packet
pass the gate which has not been viewed by my lord's officers."

"Then, sir, I will take it back again," said Antony, with a vain
attempt at making his brow frank and clear.

Instead of answering.  Captain Talbot took the knife from his girdle,
and cut in twain the yarn that bound the packet.  There was no doubt
about the whistle being there, nor was there anything written on the
wrapper; but perhaps the anxiety in Antony's eye, or even the old
association with boatswains, incited Mr. Talbot to put the whistle to
his lips.  Not a sound would come forth.  He looked in, and saw what
led him to blow with all his force, when a white roll of paper
protruded, and on another blast fell out into his hand.

He held it up as he found it, and looked full at Antony, who exclaimed
in much agitation, "To keep out the dust.  Only to keep out the dust.
It is all gibberish--from my old writing-books."

"That will we see," said Richard very gravely.

"Mistress, be pleased to give this young gentleman some water to wash
his face, and attend to his bruises, keeping him in the guest-chamber
without speech from any one until I return.  Master Babington, I
counsel you to submit quietly.  I wish, and my Lord will wish, to spare
his ward as much scandal as possible, and if this be what you say it
is, mere gibberish from your exercise-books, you will be quit for
chastisement for a forbidden act, which has brought you into suspicion.
If not, it must be as my Lord thinks good."

Antony made no entreaties.  Perhaps he trusted that what was
unintelligible to himself might pass for gibberish with others; perhaps
the headache caused by Humfrey's fists was assisting to produce a state
of sullen indifference after his burst of eager chivalry; at any rate
he let Mistress Talbot lead him away without resistance.  The other
children would have followed, but their father detained them to hear
the particulars of the commission and the capture.  Richard desired to
know from his son whether he had any reason for suspecting underhand
measures; and when Humfrey looked down and hesitated, added, "On your
obedience, boy; this is no slight matter."

"You will not beat Cis, father?" said Humfrey.

"Wherefore should I beat her, save for doing errands that yonder lad
should have known better than to thrust on her?"

"Nay, sir, 'tis not for that; but my mother said she should be beaten
if ever she spake of the fortune yonder Tibbott told her, and we are
sure that she--Tibbott I mean--is a witch, and knows more than she

"What mean'st thou?  Tell me, children;" and Cis, nothing loath, since
she was secured from the beating, related the augury which had left so
deep an impression on her, Humfrey bearing witness that it was before
they knew themselves of Cicely's history.

"But that is not all," added Cicely, seeing Mr. Talbot less impressed
than she expected by these supernatural powers of divination.  "She can
change from a woman to a man!"

"In sooth!" exclaimed Richard, startled enough by this information.

"Yea, father," said Cicely, "Faithful Ekins, the carrier's boy, saw
her, in doublet and hose, and a tawny cloak, going along the road to
Chesterfield.  He knew her by the halt in her left leg."

"Ha!" said Richard, "and how long hast thou known this?"

"Only yestermorn," said Cis; "it was that which made me so much afraid
to have any dealings with her."

"She shall trouble thee no more, my little wench," said Richard in a
tone that made Humfrey cry out joyously,

"O father! sweet father! wilt thou duck her for a witch?  Sink or swim!
that will be rare!"

"Hush, hush! foolish lad," said Richard, "and thou, Cicely, take good
heed that not a word of all this gets abroad.  Go to thy mother,
child,--nay, I am not wroth with thee, little one.  Thou hast not done
amiss, but bear in mind that nought is ever taken out of the park
without knowledge of me or of thy mother."



Richard Talbot was of course convinced that witchcraft was not likely
to be the most serious part of the misdeeds of Tibbott the huckstress.
Committing Antony Babington to the custody of his wife, he sped on his
way back to the Manor-house, where Lord Shrewsbury was at present
residing, the Countess being gone to view her buildings at Chatsworth,
taking her daughter Bessie with her.  He sent in a message desiring to
speak to my lord in his privy chamber.

Francis Talbot came to him.  "Is it matter of great moment, Dick?" he
said, "for my father is so fretted and chafed, I would fain not vex him
further to-night.--What! know you not?  Here are tidings that my lady
hath married Bess--yes, Bess Cavendish, in secret to my young Lord
Lennox, the brother of this Queen's unlucky husband!  How he is to
clear himself before her Grace of being concerned in it, I know not,
for though Heaven wots that he is as innocent as the child unborn, she
will suspect him!"

"I knew she flew high for Mistress Bess," returned Richard.

"High! nothing would serve her save royal blood!  My poor father says
as sure as the lions and fleur-de-lis have come into a family, the
headsman's axe has come after them."

"However it is not our family."

"So I tell him, but it gives him small comfort," said Frank, "looking
as he doth on the Cavendish brood as his own, and knowing that there
will be a mighty coil at once with my lady and these two queens.  He is
sore vexed to-night, and saith that never was Earl, not to say man, so
baited by woman as he, and he bade me see whether yours be a matter of
such moment that it may not wait till morning or be despatched by me."

"That is for you to say, Master Francis.  What think you of this for a
toy?" as he produced the parcel with the whistle and its contents. "I
went home betimes to-day, as you know, and found my boy Humfrey had
just made young Master Babington taste of his fists for trying to make
our little wench pass this packet to yonder huckster-woman who was
succoured some months back by the Queen of Scots."

Francis Talbot silently took the whistle and unrolled the long narrow
strip of paper.  "This is the cipher," said he, "the cipher used in
corresponding with her French kin; Phillipps the decipherer showed me
the trick of it when he was at Tutbury in the time of the Duke of
Norfolk's business.  Soh! your son hath done good service, Richard.
That lad hath been tampered with then, I thought he was over thick with
the lady in the lodge.  Where is he, the young traitor?"

"At Bridgefield, under my wife's ward, having his bruises attended to.
I would not bring him up here till I knew what my Lord would have done
with him.  He is but a child, and no doubt was wrought with by sweet
looks, and I trust my Lord will not be hard with him."

"If my father had hearkened to me, he should never have been here,"
said Francis.  "His father was an honest man, but his mother was, I
find, a secret recusant, and when she died, young Antony was quite old
enough to have sucked in the poison.  You did well to keep him,
Richard; he ought not to return hither again, either in ward or at

"If he were mine, I would send him to school," said Richard, "where the
masters and the lads would soon drive out of him all dreams about
captive princesses and seminary priests to boot.  For, Cousin Francis,
I would have you to know that my children say there is a rumour that
this woman Tibbott the huckstress hath been seen in a doublet and hose
near Chesterfield."

"The villain!  When is she looked for here again?"

"Anon, I should suppose, judging by the boy leaving this charge with
Cis in case she should come while he is gone to Chatsworth."

"We will take order as to that," said Francis, compressing his lips; "I
know you will take heed, cousin, that she, or he, gets no breath of
warning.  I should not wonder if it were Parsons himself!" and he
unfolded the scroll with the air of a man seeking to confirm his

"Can you make anything of it?" asked Richard, struck by its resemblance
to another scroll laid up among his wife's treasures.

"I cannot tell, they are not matters to be read in an hour," said
Francis Talbot, "moreover, there is one in use for the English
traitors, her friends, and another for the French.  This looks like the
French sort.  Let me see, they are read by taking the third letter in
each second word."  Francis Talbot, somewhat proud of his proficiency,
and perfectly certain of the trustworthiness of his cousin Richard,
went on puzzling out the ciphered letters, making Richard set each
letter down as he picked it out, and trying whether they would make
sense in French or English.  Both understood French, having learned it
in their page days, and kept it up by intercourse with the French
suite.  Francis, however, had to try two or three methods, which, being
a young man, perhaps he was pleased to display, and at last he hit upon
the right, which interpreted the apparent gibberish of the
scroll--excepting that the names of persons were concealed under
soubriquets which Francis Talbot could not always understand--but the
following sentence by and by became clear:--"Quand le matelot vient des
marais, un feu peut eclater dans la meute et dans la melee"--"When the
sailor lands from the fens, a fire might easily break out in the
dog-kennel, and in the confusion" (name could not be read) "could carry
off the tercel gentle."

"La meute," said Francis, "that is their term for the home of us
Talbots, and the sailor in the fens is this Don John of Austria, who
means, after conquering the Dutchmen, to come and set free this tercel
gentle, as she calls herself, and play the inquisitor upon us. On my
honour, Dick, your boy has played the man in making this discovery.
Keep the young traitor fast, and take down a couple of yeomen to lay
hands on this same Tibbott as she calls herself."

"If I remember right," said Richard, "she was said to be the sister or
aunt to one of the grooms or prickers."

"So it was, Guy Norman, methinks.  Belike he was the very fellow to set
fire to our kennel.  Yea, we must secure him.  I'll see to that, and
you shall lay this scroll before my father meantime, Dick.  Why, to
fall on such a trail will restore his spirits, and win back her Grace
to believe in his honesty, if my lady's tricks should have made her

Off went Francis with great alacrity, and ere long the Earl was present
with Richard.  The long light beard was now tinged with gray, and there
were deep lines round the mouth and temples, betraying how the long
anxiety was telling on him, and rendering him suspicious and querulous.
"Soh!  Richard Talbot," was his salutation, "what's the coil now?  Can
a man never be left in peace in his own house, between queens and
ladies, plots and follies, but his own kinsfolk and retainers must come
to him on every petty broil among the lads!  I should have thought your
boy and young Babington might fight out their quarrels alone without
vexing a man that is near driven distracted as it is."

"I grieve to vex your lordship," said Richard, standing bareheaded,
"but Master Francis thought this scroll worthy of your attention. This
is the manner in which he deciphered it."

"Scrolls, I am sick of scrolls," said the Earl testily.  "What! is it
some order for saying mass,--or to get some new Popish image or a skein
of silk?  I wear my eyes out reading such as that, and racking my
brains for some hidden meaning!"

And falling on Francis's first attempt at copying, he was scornful of
the whole, and had nearly thrown the matter aside, but when he lit at
last on the sentence about burning the meute and carrying off the
tercel gentle, his brow grew dark indeed, and his inquiries came
thickly one upon the other, both as to Antony Babington and the
huckstering woman.

In the midst, Frank Talbot returned with the tidings that the pricker
Guy Norman was nowhere to be found.  He had last been seen by his
comrades about the time that Captain Richard had returned to the
Manor-house.  Probably he had taken alarm on seeing him come back at
that unusual hour, and had gone to carry the warning to his supposed
aunt.  This last intelligence made the Earl decide on going down at
once to Bridgefield to examine young Babington before there was time to
miss his presence at the lodge, or to hold any communication with him.
Frank caused horses to be brought round, and the Earl rode down with
Richard by a shaded alley in an ordinary cloak and hat.

My Lord's appearance at Bridgefield was a rarer and more awful event
than was my Lady's, and if Mistress Susan had been warned beforehand,
there is no saying how at the head of her men and maids she would have
scrubbed and polished the floors, and brushed the hangings and
cushions.  What then were her feelings when the rider, who dismounted
from his little hackney as unpretendingly as did her husband in the
twilight court, proved to have my Lord's long beard and narrow face!

Curtseying her lowest and with a feeling of consternation and pity, as
she thought of the orphan boy, she accepted his greeting with duteous
welcome as he said, "Kinswoman, I am come to cumber you, whilst I
inquire into this matter.  I give your son thanks for the honesty and
faithfulness he hath shown in the matter, as befitted his father's son.
I should wish myself to examine the springald."

Humfrey was accordingly called, and, privately admonished by his father
that he must not allow any scruples about bringing his playmate into
trouble to lead him to withhold his evidence, or shrink from telling
the whole truth as he knew it, Humfrey accordingly stood before the
Earl and made his replies a little sullenly but quite
straightforwardly.  He had prevented the whistle from being given to
his sister for the huckstress because the woman was a witch, who
frightened her, and moreover he knew it was against rules.  Did he
suspect that the whistle came from the Queen of Scots?

He looked startled, and asked if it were so indeed, and when again
commanded to say why he had thought it possible, he replied that he
knew Antony thought the Queen of Scots a fair and gracious lady.

Did he believe that Antony ever had communication with her or her
people unheard by others?

"Assuredly!  Wherefore not, when he carried my Lady Countess's

Lord Shrewsbury bent his brow, but did not further pursue this branch
of the subject, but demanded of Humfrey a description of Tibbott,
huckster or witch, man or woman.

"She wears a big black hood and muffler," said Humfrey, "and hath a
long hooked stick."

"I asked thee not of her muffler, boy, but of her person."

"She hath pouncet boxes and hawks' bells, and dog-whistles in her
basket," proceeded Humfrey, but as the Earl waxed impatient, and
demanded whether no one could give him a clearer account, Richard bade
Humfrey call his mother.

She, however, could say nothing as to the woman's appearance.  She had
gone to Norman's cottage to offer her services after the supposed
accident, but had been told that the potticary of the Queen of Scots
had undertaken her cure, and had only seen her huddled up in a heap of
rags, asleep.  Since her recovery the woman had been several times at
Bridgefield, but it had struck the mistress of the house that there was
a certain avoidance of direct communication with her, and a preference
for the servants and children.  This Susan had ascribed to fear that
she should be warned off for her fortune-telling propensities, or the
children's little bargains interfered with.  All she could answer for
was that she had once seen a huge pair of grizzled eyebrows, with light
eyes under them, and that the woman, if woman she were, was tall, and
bent a good deal upon a hooked stick, which supported her limping
steps.  Cicely could say little more, except that the witch had a deep
awesome voice, like a man, and a long nose terrible to look at.
Indeed, there seemed to have been a sort of awful fascination about her
to all the children, who feared her yet ran after her.

Antony was then sent for.  It was not easy to judge of the expression
of his disfigured countenance, but when thus brought to bay he threw
off all tokens of compunction, and stood boldly before the Earl.

"So, Master Babington, I find you have been betraying the trust I
placed in you--"

"What, trust, my Lord?" said Antony, his bright blue eyes looking back
into those of the nobleman.

"The cockerel crows loud," said the Earl.  "What trust, quotha!  Is
there no trust implied in the coming and going of one of my household,
when such a charge is committed to me and mine?"

"No one ever gave me any charge," said Antony.

"Dost thou bandy words, thou froward imp?" said the Earl.  "Thou hast
not the conscience to deny that there was no honesty in smuggling forth
a letter thus hidden.  Deny it not.  The treasonable cipher hath been

"I knew nought of what was in it," said the boy.

"I believe thee there, but thou didst know that it was foully disloyal
to me and to her Majesty to bear forth secret letters to disguised
traitors.  I am willing to believe that the smooth tongue which hath
deluded many a better man than thou hath led thee astray, and I am
willing to deal as lightly with thee as may be, so thou wilt tell me
openly all thou knowest of this infamous plot."

"I know of no plot, sir."

"They would scarce commit the knowledge to the like of him," said
Richard Talbot.

"May be not," said Lord Shrewsbury, looking at him with a glance that
Antony thought contemptuous, and which prompted him to exclaim, "And if
I did know of one, you may be assured I would never betray it were I
torn with wild horses."

"Betray, sayest thou!" returned the Earl.  "Thou hast betrayed my
confidence, Antony, and hast gone as far as in thee lies to betray thy

"My Queen is Mary, the lawful Queen of us all," replied Antony, boldly.

"Ho!  Sayest thou so?  It is then as thou didst trow, cousin, the
foolish lad hath been tampered with by the honeyed tongue.  I need not
ask thee from whom thou hadst this letter, boy.  We have read it and
know the foul treason therein.  Thou wilt never return to the castle
again, but for thy father's sake thou shalt be dealt with less sternly,
if thou wilt tell who this woman is, and how many of these toys thou
hast given to her, if thou knowest who she is."

But Antony closed his lips resolutely.  In fact, Richard suspected him
of being somewhat flattered by being the cause of such a commotion, and
actually accused of so grand and manly a crime as high treason.  The
Earl could extract no word, and finally sentenced him to remain at
Bridgefield, shut up in his own chamber till he could be dealt with.
The lad walked away in a dignified manner, and the Earl, holding up his
hands, half amused, half vexed, said, "So the spell is on that poor lad
likewise.  What shall I do with him?  An orphan boy too, and mine old
friend's son."

"With your favour, my Lord," said Richard, "I should say, send him to a
grammar school, where among lads of his own age, the dreams about
captive princesses might be driven from him by hard blows and merry

"That may scarce serve," said the Earl rather severely, for public
schools were then held beneath the dignity of both the nobility and
higher gentry.  "I may, however, send him to study at Cambridge under
some trusty pedagogue.  Back at the castle I cannot have him, so must I
cumber you with him, my good kinswoman, until his face have recovered
your son's lusty chastisement.  Also it may be well to keep him here
till we can lay hands on this same huckster-woman, since there may be
need to confront him with her.  It were best if you did scour the
country toward Chesterfield for her, while Frank went to York."

Having thus issued his orders, the Earl took a gracious leave of the
lady, mounted his horse, and rode back to Sheffield, dispensing with
the attendance of his kinsman, who had indeed to prepare for an early
start the next morning, when he meant to take Humfrey with him, as not
unlikely to recognise the woman, though he could not describe her.

"The boy merits well to go forth with me," said he.  "He hath done
yeoman's service, and proved himself staunch and faithful."

"Was there matter in that scroll?" asked Susan.

"Only such slight matter as burning down the Talbots' kennel, while Don
John of Austria is landing on the coast."

"God forgive them, and defend us!" sighed Susan, turning pale.  "Was
that in the cipher?"

"Ay, in sooth, but fear not, good wife.  Much is purposed that ne'er
comes to pass.  I doubt me if the ship be built that is to carry the
Don hither."

"I trust that Antony knew not of the wickedness?"

"Not he.  His is only a dream out of the romances the lads love so
well, of beauteous princesses to be freed, and the like."

"But the woman!"

"Yea, that lies deeper.  What didst thou say of her?  Wherefore do the
children call her a witch?  Is it only that she is grim and ugly?"

"I trow there is more cause than that," said Susan.  "It may be that I
should have taken more heed to their babble at first; but I have
questioned Cis while you were at the lodge, and I find that even before
Mate Goatley spake here, this Tibbott had told the child of her being
of lofty race in the north, alien to the Talbots' kennel, holding out
to her presages of some princely destiny."

"That bodeth ill!" said Richard, thoughtfully.  "Wife, my soul misgives
me that the hand of Cuthbert Langston is in this."

Susan started.  The idea chimed in with Tibbott's avoidance of her
scrutiny, and also with a certain vague sense she had had of having
seen those eyes before.  So light-complexioned a man would be easily
disguised, and the halt was accounted for by a report that he had had a
bad fall when riding to join in the Rising in the North.  Nor could
there now be any doubt that he was an ardent partisan of the imprisoned
Mary, while Richard had always known his inclination to intrigue.  She
could only agree with her husband's opinion, and ask what he would do.

"My duty must be done, kin or no kin," said Richard, "that is if I find
him; but I look not to do that, since Norman is no doubt off to warn

"I marvel whether he hath really learnt who our Cis can be?"

"Belike not!  The hint would only have been thrown out to gain power
over her."

"Said you that you read the cipher?"

"Master Frank did so."

"Would it serve you to read our scroll?"

"Ah, woman! woman!  Why can thy kind never let well alone?  I have
sufficient on my hands without reading of scrolls!"

Humfrey's delight was extreme when he found that he was to ride forth
with his father, and half-a-dozen of the earl's yeomen, in search of
the supposed witch.  They traced her as far as Chesterfield; but having
met the carrier's waggon on the way, they carefully examined Faithful
Ekins on his report, but all the youth was clear about was the halt and
the orange tawny cloak, and after entering Chesterfield, no one knew
anything of these tokens.  There was a large village belonging to a
family of recusants, not far off, where the pursuers generally did lose
sight of suspicious persons; and, perhaps, Richard was relieved, though
his son was greatly chagrined.

The good captain had a sufficient regard for his kinsman to be
unwilling to have to unmask him as a traitor, and to be glad that he
should have effected an escape, so that, at least, it should be others
who should detect him--if Langston indeed it were.

His next charge was to escort young Babington to Cambridge, and deliver
him up to a tutor of his lordship's selection, who might draw the
Popish fancies out of him.

Meantime, Antony had been kept close to the house and garden, and not
allowed any intercourse with any of the young people, save Humfrey,
except when the master or mistress of the house was present; but he did
not want for occupation, for Master Sniggius came down, and gave him a
long chapter of the Book of Proverbs--chiefly upon loyalty, in the
Septuagint, to learn by heart, and translate into Latin and English as
his Saturday's and Sunday's occupation, under pain of a flogging, which
was no light thing from the hands of that redoubted dominie.

Young Babington was half-flattered and half-frightened at the commotion
he had excited.  "Am I going to the Tower?" he asked, in a low voice,
awestricken, yet not without a certain ring of self-importance, when he
saw his mails brought down, and was bidden to put on his boots and his
travelling dress.

And Captain Talbot had a cruel satisfaction in replying, "No, Master
Babington; the Tower is not for refractory boys.  You are going to your

But where the school was to be Richard kept an absolute secret by
special desire, in order that no communication should be kept up
through any of the household.  He was to avoid Chatsworth, and to
return as soon as possible to endeavour to trace the supposed
huckster-woman at Chesterfield.

When once away from home, he ceased to treat young Babington as a
criminal, but rode in a friendly manner with him through lanes and over
moors, till the young fellow began to thaw towards him, and even went
so far as to volunteer one day that he would not have brought Mistress
Cicely into the matter if there had been any other sure way of getting
the letter delivered in his absence.

"Ah, boy!" returned Richard, "when once we swerve from the open and
direct paths, there is no saying into what tangles we may bring
ourselves and others."

Antony winced a little, and said, "Whoever says I lied, lies in his

"No one hath said thou wert false in word, but how as to thy deed?"

"Sir," said Antony, "surely when a high emprise and great right is to
be done, there is no need to halt over such petty quibbles."

"Master Babington, no great right was ever done through a little wrong.
Depend on it, if you cannot aid without a breach of trust, it is the
sure sign that it is not the will of God that you should be the one to
do it."

Captain Talbot mused whether he should convince or only weary the lad
by an argument he had once heard in a sermon, that the force of Satan's
temptation to our blessed Lord, when showing Him all the kingdoms of
the world, must have been the absolute and immediate vanishing of all
kinds of evil, by a voluntary abdication on the part of the Prince of
this world, instead not only of the coming anguish of the strife, but
of the long, long, often losing, battle which has been waging ever
since.  Yet for this great achievement He would not commit the moment's
sin.  He was just about to begin when Antony broke in, "Then, sir, you
do deem it a great wrong?"

"That I leave to wiser heads than mine," returned the sailor.  "My duty
is to obey my Lord, his duty is to obey her Grace.  That is all a plain
man needs to see."

"But an if the true Queen be thus mewed up, sir?" asked Antony. Richard
was too wise a man to threaten the suggestion down as rank treason,
well knowing that thus he should never root it out.

"Look you here, Antony," he said; "who ought to reign is a question of
birth, such as neither of us can understand nor judge.  But we know
thus much, that her Grace, Queen Elizabeth, hath been crowned and
anointed and received oaths of fealty as her due, and that is quite
enough for any honest man."

"Even when she keeps in durance the Queen, who came as her guest in
dire distress?"

"Nay, Master Antony, you are not old enough to remember that the
durance began not until the Queen of Scots tried to form a party for
herself among the English liegemen.  And didst thou know, thou simple
lad, what the letter bore, which thou didst carry, and what it would
bring on this peaceful land?"

Antony looked a little startled when he heard of the burning of the
kennel, but he averred that Don John was a gallant prince.

"I have seen more than one gallant Spaniard under whose power I should
grieve to see any friend of mine."

All the rest of the way Richard Talbot entertained the young gentleman
with stories of his own voyages and adventures, into which he managed
to bring traits of Spanish cruelty and barbarity as shown in the Low
Countries, such as, without actually drawing the moral every time,
might show what was to be expected if Mary of Scotland and Don John of
Austria were to reign over England, armed with the Inquisition.

Antony asked a good many questions, and when he found that the captain
had actually been an eye-witness of the state of a country harried by
the Spaniards, he seemed a good deal struck.

"I think if I had the training of him I could make a loyal Englishman
of him yet," said Richard Talbot to his wife on his return.  "But I
fear me there is that in his heart and his conscience which will only
grow, while yonder sour-faced doctor, with whom I had to leave him at
Cambridge, preaches to him of the perdition of Pope and Papists."

"If his mother were indeed a concealed Papist," said Susan, "such
sermons will only revolt the poor child."

"Yea, truly.  If my Lord wanted to make a plotter and a Papist of the
boy he could scarce find a better means.  I myself never could away
with yonder lady's blandishments.  But when he thinks of her in
contrast to yonder divine, it would take a stronger head than his not
to be led away.  The best chance for him is that the stir of the world
about him may put captive princesses out of his head."



Where is the man who does not persuade himself that when he gratifies
his own curiosity he does so for the sake of his womankind?  So Richard
Talbot, having made his protest, waited two days, but when next he had
any leisure moments before him, on a Sunday evening, he said to his
wife, "Sue, what hast thou done with that scroll of Cissy's?  I trow
thou wilt not rest till thou art convinced it is but some lying
horoscope or Popish charm."

Susan had in truth been resting in perfect quietness, being extremely
busy over her spinning, so as to be ready for the weaver who came round
periodically to direct the more artistic portions of domestic work.
However, she joyfully produced the scroll from the depths of the casket
where she kept her chief treasures, and her spindle often paused in its
dance as she watched her husband over it, with his elbows on the table
and his hands in his hair, from whence he only removed them now and
then to set down a letter or two by way of experiment.  She had to be
patient, for she heard nothing that night but that he believed it was
French, that the father of deceits himself might be puzzled with the
thing, and that she might as well ask him for his head at once as
propose his consulting Master Francis.

The next night he unfolded it with many a groan, and would say nothing
at all; but he sat up late and waked in early dawn to pore over it
again, and on the third day of study he uttered a loud exclamation of
dismay, but he ordered Susan off to bed in the midst, and did not utter
anything but a perplexed groan or two when he followed her much later.

It was not till the next night that she heard anything, and then, in
the darkness, he began, "Susan, thou art a good wife and a discreet

Perhaps her heart leapt as she thought to herself, "At last it is
coming, I knew it would!" but she only made some innocent note of

"Thou hast asked no questions, nor tried to pry into this unhappy
mystery," he went on.

"I knew you would tell me what was fit for me to hear," she replied.

"Fit!  It is fit for no one to hear!  Yet I needs must take counsel
with thee, and thou hast shown thou canst keep a close mouth so far."

"Concerns it our Cissy, husband?"

"Ay does it Our Cissy, indeed!  What wouldst say, Sue, to hear she was
daughter to the lady yonder."

"To the Queen of Scots?"

"Hush! hush!" fairly grasping her to hinder the words from being
uttered above her breath.

"And her father?"

"That villain, Bothwell, of course.  Poor lassie, she is ill fathered!"

"You may say so.  Is it in the scroll?"

"Ay! so far as I can unravel it; but besides the cipher no doubt much
was left for the poor woman to tell that was lost in the wreck."

And he went on to explain that the scroll was a letter to the Abbess of
Soissons, who was aunt to Queen Mary, as was well known, since an open
correspondence was kept up through the French ambassador.  This letter
said that "our trusty Alison Hepburn" would tell how in secrecy and
distress Queen Mary had given birth to this poor child in Lochleven,
and how she had been conveyed across the lake while only a few hours
old, after being hastily baptized by the name of Bride, one of the
patron saints of Scotland.  She had been nursed in a cottage for a few
weeks till the Queen had made her first vain attempt to escape, after
which Mary had decided on sending her with her nurse to Dumbarton
Castle, whence Lord Flemyng would despatch her to France. The Abbess
was implored to shelter her, in complete ignorance of her birth, until
such time as her mother should resume her liberty and her throne.  "Or
if," the poor Queen said, "I perish in the hands of my enemies, you
will deal with her as my uncles of Guise and Lorraine think fit, since,
should her unhappy little brother die in the rude hands of yonder
traitors, she may bring the true faith back to both realms."

"Ah!" cried Susan, with a sudden gasp of dismay, as she bethought her
that the child was indeed heiress to both realms after the young King
of Scots.  "But has there been no quest after her?  Do they deem her

"No doubt they do.  Either all hands were lost in the Bride of Dunbar,
or if any of the crew escaped, they would report the loss of nurse and
child.  The few who know that the little one was born believe her to
have perished.  None will ever ask for her.  They deem that she has
been at the bottom of the sea these twelve years or more."

"And you would still keep the knowledge to ourselves?" asked his wife,
in a tone of relief.

"I would I knew it not myself!" sighed Richard.  "Would that I could
blot it out of my mind."

"It were far happier for the poor maid herself to remain no one's child
but ours," said Susan.

"In sooth it is!  A drop of royal blood is in these days a mere drop of
poison to them that have the ill luck to inherit it.  As my lord said
the other day, it brings the headsman's axe after it."

"And our boy Humfrey calls himself contracted to her!"

"So long as we let the secret die with us that can do her no ill.
Happily the wench favours not her mother, save sometimes in a certain
lordly carriage of the head and shoulders.  She is like enough to some
of the Scots retinue to make me think she must take her face from her
father, the villain, who, someone told me, was beetle-browed and

"Lives he still?"

"So 'tis thought, but somewhere in prison in the north.  There have
been no tidings of his death; but my Lady Queen, you'll remember,
treats the marriage as nought, and has made offer of herself for the
misfortune of the Duke of Norfolk, ay, and of this Don John, and I know
not whom besides."

"She would not have done that had she known that our Cis was alive."

"Mayhap she would, mayhap not.  I believe myself she would do anything
short of disowning her Popery to get out of prison; but as matters
stand I doubt me whether Cis--"

"The Lady Bride Hepburn," suggested Susan.

"Pshaw, poor child, I misdoubt me whether they would own her claim even
to that name."

"And they might put her in prison if they did," said Susan.

"They would be sure to do so, sooner or later.  Here has my lord been
recounting in his trouble about my lady's fine match for her Bess, all
that hath come of mating with royal blood, the very least disaster
being poor Lady Mary Grey's!  Kept in ward for life!  It is a cruel
matter.  I would that I had known the cipher at first.  Then she might
either have been disposed of at the Queen's will, or have been sent
safe to this nunnery at Soissons."

"To be bred a Papist!  Oh fie, husband!"

"And to breed dissension in the kingdoms!" added her husband.  "It is
best so far for the poor maiden herself to have thy tender hand over
her than that of any queen or abbess of them all."

"Shall we then keep all things as they are, and lock this knowledge in
our own hearts?" asked Susan hopefully.

"To that am I mightily inclined," said Richard.  "Were it blazed abroad
at once, thou and I might be made out guilty of I know not what for
concealing it; and as to the maiden, she would either be put in close
ward with her mother, or, what would be more likely, had up to court to
be watched, and flouted, and spied upon, as were the two poor
ladies--sisters to the Lady Jane--ere they made their lot hopeless by
marrying.  Nay, I have seen those who told me that poor Lady Katherine
was scarce worse bested in the Tower than she was while at court."

"My poor Cis!  No, no!  The only cause for which I could bear to yield
her up would be the thought that she would bring comfort to the heart
of the poor captive mother who hath the best right to her."

"Forsooth!  I suspect her poor captive mother would scarce be pleased
to find this witness to her ill-advised marriage in existence."

"Nor would she be permitted to be with her."

"Assuredly not.  Moreover, what could she do with the poor child?"

"Rear her in Popery," exclaimed Susan, to whom the word was terrible.

"Yea, and make her hand secure as the bait to some foreign prince or
some English traitor, who would fain overthrow Queen and Church."

Susan shuddered.  "Oh yes! let us keep the poor child to ourselves. I
_could_ not give her up to such a lot as that.  And it might imperil
you too, my husband.  I should like to get up instantly and burn the

"I doubt me whether that were expedient," said Richard.  "Suppose it
were in the course of providence that the young King of Scots should
not live, then would this maid be the means of uniting the two kingdoms
in the true and Reformed faith!  Heaven forefend that he should be cut
off, but meseemeth that we have no right to destroy the evidence that
may one day be a precious thing to the kingdom at large."

"No chance eye could read it even were it discovered?" said Susan.

"No, indeed.  Thou knowest how I strove in vain to read it at first,
and even now, when Frank Talbot unwittingly gave me the key, it was
days before I could fully read it.  It will tell no tales, sweet wife,
that can prejudice any one, so we will let it be, even with the baby
clouts.  So now to sleep, with no more thoughts on the matter."

That was easy to say, but Susan lay awake long, pondering over the
wonder, and only slept to dream strange dreams of queens and
princesses, ay, and worse, for she finally awoke with a scream,
thinking her husband was on the scaffold, and that Humfrey and Cis were
walking up the ladder, hand in hand with their necks bared, to follow

There was no need to bid her hold her tongue.  She regarded the secret
with dread and horror, and a sense of something amiss which she could
not quite define, though she told herself she was only acting in
obedience to her husband, and indeed her judgment went along with his.

Often she looked at the unconscious Cis, studying whether the child's
parentage could be detected in her features.  But she gave promise of
being of larger frame than her mother, who had the fine limbs and
contour of her Lorraine ancestry, whereas Cis did, as Richard said,
seem to have the sturdy outlines of the Borderer race from whom her
father came.  She was round-faced too, and sunburnt, with deep gray
eyes under black straight brows, capable of frowning heavily.  She did
not look likely ever to be the fascinating beauty which all declared
her mother to be--though those who saw the captive at Sheffield,
believed the charm to be more in indefinable grace than in actual
features,--in a certain wonderful smile and sparkle, a mixed pathos and
archness which seldom failed of its momentary effect, even upon those
who most rebelled against it.  Poor little Cis, a sturdy girl of twelve
or thirteen, playing at ball with little Ned on the terrace, and coming
with tardy steps to her daily task of spinning, had little of the
princess about her; and yet when she sat down, and the management of
distaff and thread threw her shoulders back, there was something in the
poise of her small head and the gesture of her hand that forcibly
recalled the Queen.  Moreover, all the boys around were at her beck and
call, not only Humfrey and poor Antony Babington, but Cavendishes,
Pierrepoints, all the young pages and grandsons who dwelt at castle or
lodge, and attended Master Sniggius's school.  Nay, the dominie
himself, though owning that Mistress Cicely promoted idleness and
inattention among his pupils, had actually volunteered to come down to
Bridgefield twice a week himself to prevent her from forgetting her
Lilly's grammar and her Caesar's Commentaries, an attention with which
this young lady would willingly have dispensed.

Stewart, Lorraine, Hepburn, the blood of all combined was a perilous
inheritance, and good Susan Talbot's instinct was that the young girl
whom she loved truly like her own daughter would need all the more
careful and tender watchfulness and training to overcome any tendencies
that might descend to her.  Pity increased her affection, and even
while in ordinary household life it was easy to forget who and what the
girl really was, yet Cis was conscious that she was admitted to the
intimacy and privileges of an elder daughter, and made a companion and
friend, while her contemporaries at the Manor-house were treated as
children, and rated roundly, their fingers tapped with fans, their
shoulders even whipped, whenever they transgressed.  Cis did indeed
live under equal restraint, but it was the wise and gentle restraint of
firm influence and constant watchfulness, which took from her the wish
to resist.



Bridgefield was a peaceable household, and the castle and manor beyond
might envy its calm.

From the time of the marriage of Elizabeth Cavendish with the young
Earl of Lennox all the shreds of comfort which had remained to the
unfortunate Earl had vanished.  First he had to clear himself before
Queen Elizabeth from having been a consenting party, and then he found
his wife furious with him at his displeasure at her daughter's
aggrandisement.  Moreover, whereas she had formerly been on terms of
friendly gossiphood with the Scottish Queen, she now went over to the
Lennox side because her favourite daughter had married among them; and
it was evident that from that moment all amity between her and the
prisoner was at an end.

She was enraged that her husband would not at once change his whole
treatment of the Queen, and treat her as such guilt deserved; and with
the illogical dulness of a passionate woman, she utterly scouted and
failed to comprehend the argument that the unhappy Mary was, to say the
least of it, no more guilty now than when she came into their keeping,
and that to alter their demeanour towards her would be unjust and

"My Lady is altogether beyond reason," said Captain Talbot, returning
one evening to his wife; "neither my Lord nor her daughter can do ought
with her; so puffed up is she with this marriage!  Moreover, she is
hotly angered that young Babington should have been sent away from her
retinue without notice to her, and demands our Humfrey in his stead as
a page."

"He is surely too old for a page!" said his mother, thinking of her
tall well-grown son of fifteen.

"So said I," returned Richard.  "I had sooner it were Diccon, and so I
told his lordship."

Before Richard could speak for them, the two boys came in, eager and
breathless.  "Father!" cried Humfrey, "who think you is at Hull? Why,
none other than your old friend and shipmate, Captain Frobisher!"

"Ha!  Martin Frobisher!  Who told thee, Humfrey?"

"Faithful Ekins, sir, who had it from the Doncaster carrier, who saw
Captain Frobisher himself, and was asked by him if you, sir, were not
somewhere in Yorkshire, and if so, to let you know that he will be in
Hull till May-day, getting men together for a voyage to the northwards,
where there is gold to be had for the picking--and if you had a likely
son or two, now was the time to make their fortunes, and show them the
world.  He said, any way you might ride to see an old comrade."

"A long message for two carriers," said Richard Talbot, smiling, "but
Martin never was a scribe!"

"But, sir, you will let me go," cried Humfrey, eagerly.  "I mean, I
pray you to let me go.  Dear mother, say nought against it," entreated
the youth.  "Cis, think of my bringing thee home a gold bracelet like

"What," said his father, "when my Lady has just craved thee for a page."

"A page!" said Humfrey, with infinite contempt--"to hear all their
tales and bickerings, hold skeins of silk, amble mincingly along
galleries, be begged to bear messages that may have more in them than
one knows, and be noted for a bear if one refuses."

The father and Cis laughed, the mother looked unhappy.

"So Martin is at Hull, is he?" said Richard, musingly.  "If my Lord can
give me leave for a week or fortnight, methinks I must ride to see the
stout old knave."

"And oh, sweet father! prithee take me with you," entreated Humfrey,
"if it be only to come back again.  I have not seen the sea since we
came here, and yet the sound is in my ears as I fall asleep.  I entreat
of you to let me come, good my father."

"And, good father, let me come," exclaimed Diccon; "I have never even
seen the sea!"

"And dear, sweet father, take me," entreated little Ned.

"Nay," cried Cis, "what should I do?  Here is Antony Babington borne
off to Cambridge, and you all wanting to leave me."

"I'll come home better worth than he!" muttered Humfrey, who thought he
saw consent on his father's brow, and drew her aside into the deep

"You'll come back a rude sailor, smelling of pitch and tar, and Antony
will be a well-bred, point-device scholar, who will know how to give a
lady his hand," said the teasing girl.

"And so the playful war was carried on, while the father, having
silenced and dismissed the two younger lads, expressed his intention of
obtaining leave of absence, if possible, from the Earl."

"Yea," he added to his wife, "I shall even let Humfrey go with me. It
is time he looked beyond the walls of this place, which is little
better than a prison."

"And will you let him go on this strange voyage?" she asked wistfully,
"he, our first-born, and our heir."

"For that, dame, remember his namesake, my poor brother, was the one
who stayed at home, I the one to go forth, and here am I now!  The
lad's words may have set before thee weightier perils in yonder park
than he is like to meet among seals and bears under honest old Martin."

"Yet here he has your guidance," said Susan.

"Who knows how they might play on his honour as to talebearing?  Nay,
good wife, when thou hast thought it over, thou wilt see that far
fouler shoals and straits lie up yonder, than in the free open sea that
God Almighty made.  Martin is a devout and godly man, who hath matins
and evensong on board each day when the weather is not too foul, and
looks well that there be no ill-doings in his ship; and if he have a
berth for thy lad, it will be a better school for him than where
two-thirds of the household are raging against one another, and the
third ever striving to corrupt and outwit the rest.  I am weary of it
all!  Would that I could once get into blue water again, and leave it
all behind!"

"You will not!  Oh! you will not!" implored Susan.  "Remember, my dear,
good lord, how you said all your duties lay at home."

"I remember, my good housewife.  Thou needst not fear for me.  But
there is little time to spare.  If I am to see mine old friend, I must
get speech of my Lord to-night, so as to be on horseback to-morrow.
Saddle me Brown Dumpling, boys."

And as the boys went off, persuading Cis, who went coyly protesting
that the paddock was damp, yet still following after them, he added,
"Yea, Sue, considering all, it is better those two were apart for a
year or so, till we see better what is this strange nestling that we
have reared.  Ay, thou art like the mother sparrow that hath bred up a
cuckoo and doteth on it, yet it mateth not with her brood."

"It casteth them out," said Susan, "as thou art doing now, by your
leave, husband."

"Only for a flight, gentle mother," he answered, "only for a flight, to
prove meanwhile whether there be the making of a simple household bird,
or of a hawk that might tear her mate to pieces, in yonder nestling."

Susan was too dutiful a wife to say more, though her motherly heart was
wrung almost as much at the implied distrust of her adopted daughter as
by the sudden parting with her first-born to the dangers of the
northern seas.  She could better enter into her husband's fears of the
temptations of page life at Sheffield, and being altogether a wife,
"bonner and boughsome," as her marriage vow held it, she applied
herself and Cis to the choosing of the shirts and the crimping of the
ruffs that were to appear in Hull, if, for there was this hope at the
bottom of her heart, my Lord might refuse leave of absence to his
"gentleman porter."

The hope was fallacious; Richard reported that my Lord was so much
relieved to find that he had detected no fresh conspiracy, as to be
willing to grant him a fortnight's leave, and even had said with a sigh
that he was in the right on't about his son, for Sheffield was more of
a school for plotting than for chivalry.

It was a point of honour with every good housewife to have a store of
linen equal to any emergency, and, indeed, as there were no washing
days in the winter, the stock of personal body-linen was at all times
nearly a sufficient outfit; so the main of Humfrey's shirts were to be
despatched by a carrier, in the trust that they would reach him before
the expedition should sail.

There was then little to delay the father and son, after the mother,
with fast-gathering tears resolutely forced back, had packed and
strapped their mails, with Cis's help, Humfrey standing by, booted and
spurred, and talking fast of the wonders he should see, and the gold
and ivory he should bring home, to hide the qualms of home-sickness,
and mother-sickness, he was already beginning to feel; and maybe to get
Cis to pronounce that then she should think more of him than of Antony
Babington with his airs and graces.  Wistfully did the lad watch for
some such tender assurance, but Cis seemed all provoking brilliancy and
teasing.  "She knew he would be back over soon.  Oh no, _he_ would
never go to sea!  She feared not.  Mr. Frobisher would have none of
such awkward lubbers.  More's the pity. There would be some peace to
get to do her broidery, and leave to play on the virginals when he was

But when the horsemen had disappeared down the avenue, Cis hid herself
in a corner and cried as if her heart would break.

She cried again behind the back of the tall settle when the father came
back alone, full of praises of Captain Frobisher, his ship, and his
company, and his assurances that he would watch over Humfrey like his
own son.

Meantime the domestic storms at the park were such that Master Richard
and his wife were not sorry that the boy was not growing up in the
midst of them, though the Countess rated Susan severely for her

Queen Elizabeth was of course much angered at the Lennox match, and the
Earl had to write letter after letter to clear himself from any
participation in bringing it about.  Queen Mary also wrote to clear
herself of it, and to show that she absolutely regretted it, as she had
small esteem for Bess Cavendish.  Moreover, though Lady Shrewsbury's
friendship might not be a very pleasant thing, it was at least better
than her hostility.  However, she was not much at Sheffield.  Not only
was she very angry with her husband, but Queen Elizabeth had strictly
forbidden the young Lord Lennox from coming under the same roof with
his royal sister-in-law.  He was a weakly youth, and his wife's health
failed immediately after her marriage, so that Lady Shrewsbury remained
almost constantly at Chatsworth with her darling.

Gilbert Talbot, who was the chief peacemaker of the family, went to and
fro, wrote letters and did his best, which would have been more
effective but for Mary, his wife, who, no doubt, detailed all the
gossip of Sheffield at Chatsworth, as she certainly amused Sheffield
with stories of her sister Bess as a royal countess full of airs and
humours, and her mother treating her, if not as a queen, at least on
the high road to become one, and how the haughty dame of Shrewsbury ran
willingly to pick up her daughter's kerchief, and stood over the fire
stirring the posset, rather than let it fail to tempt the appetite
which became more dainty by being cossetted.

The difference made between Lady Lennox and her elder sisters was not a
little nettling to Dame Mary Talbot, who held that some consideration
was her due, as the proud mother of the only grandson of the house of
Shrewsbury, little George, who was just able to be put on horseback in
the court, and say he was riding to see "Lady Danmode," and to drink
the health of "Lady Danmode" at his meals.

Alas! the little hope of the Talbots suddenly faded.  One evening after
supper a message came down in haste to beg for the aid of Mistress
Susan, who, though much left to the seclusion of Bridgefield in
prosperous days, was always a resource in trouble or difficulty. Little
George, then two and a half years old, had been taken suddenly ill
after a supper on marchpane and plum broth, washed down by Christmas
ale.  Convulsions had come on, and the skill of Queen Mary's apothecary
had only gone so far as to bleed him.  Susan arrived only just in time
to see the child breathe his last sigh, and to have his mother, wild
with tumultuous clamorous grief, put into her hands for such soothing
and comforting as might be possible, and the good and tender woman did
her best to turn the mother's thoughts to something higher and better
than the bewailing at one moment "her pretty boy," with a sort of
animal sense of bereavement, and the next with lamentations over the
honours to which he would have succeeded. It was of little use to speak
to her of the eternal glories of which he was now secure, for Mary
Talbot's sorrow was chiefly selfish, and was connected with the loss of
her pre-eminence as parent to the heir-male.

However, the grief of those times was apt to expend itself quickly, and
when little George's coffin, smothered under heraldic devices and
funeral escutcheons, had been bestowed in the family vault, Dame Mary
soon revived enough to take a warm interest in the lords who were next
afterwards sent down to hold conferences with the captive; and her
criticism of the fashion of their ruffs and doublets was as animated as
ever.  Another grief, however, soon fell upon the family. Lady Lennox's
ailments proved to be no such trifles as her sisters and sisters-in-law
had been pleased to suppose, and before the year was out, she had
passed away from all her ambitious hopes, leaving a little daughter.
The Earl took a brief leave of absence to visit his lady in her
affliction at Chatsworth, and to stand godfather to the motherless

"She will soon be fatherless, too," said Richard Talbot on his return
to Bridgefield, after attending his lord on this expedition.  "My young
Lord Lennox, poor youth, is far gone in the wasting sickness, as well
as distraught with grief, and he could scarcely stand to receive my

"Our poor lady!" said Susan, "it pities me to think what hopes she had
fixed upon that young couple whom she had mated together."

"I doubt me whether her hopes be ended now," quoth Richard.  "What
think you she hath fixed on as the name of the poor puling babe yonder?
They have called her Arbel or Arabella."

"Arabella, say you?  I never heard such a name.  It is scarce
Christian.  Is it out of a romaunt?"

"Better that it were.  It is out of a pedigree.  They have got the
whole genealogy of the house of Lennox blazoned fair, with crowns and
coronets and coats of arms hung up in the hall at Chatsworth, going up
on the one hand through Sir AEneas of Troy, and on the other hand
through Woden to Adam and Eve!  Pass for all before the Stewart line
became Kings of Scots!  Well, it seems that these Lennox Stewarts
sprang from one Walter, who was son to King Robert II., and that the
mother of this same Walter was called Anhild, or as the Scots here call
it Annaple, but the scholars have made it into Arabella, and so my
young lady is to be called.  They say it was a special fancy of the
young Countess's."

"So I should guess.  My lady would fill her head with such thoughts,
and of this poor youth being next of kin to the young Scottish king,
and to our own Queen."

"He is not next heir to Scotland even, barring a little one we wot of,
Dame Sue.  The Hamiltons stand between, being descended from a daughter
of King James I."

"So methought I had heard.  Are they not Papists?"

"Yea!  Ah ha, sweetheart, there is another of the house of Hardwicke as
fain to dreams of greatness for her child as ever was the Countess,
though she may be more discreet in the telling of them."

"Ah me, dear sir, I dreamt not of greatness for splendour's
sake--'twere scarce for the dear child's happiness.  I only thought of
what you once said, that she may be the instrument of preserving the
true religion."

"And if so, it can only be at a mighty cost!" said her husband.

"Verily," said Susan, "glad am I that you sent our Humfrey from her.
Would that nought had ever passed between the children!"

"They were but children," said Richard; "and there was no contract
between them."

"I fear me there was what Humfrey will hold to, or know good reason
why," said his mother.

"And were the young King of Scots married and father to a goodly heir,
there is no reason he should not hold to it," rejoined Richard.

However Richard was still anxious to keep his son engaged at a distance
from Sheffield.  There was great rejoicing and thankfulness when one of
the many messengers constantly passing between London and Sheffield
brought a packet from Humfrey, whose ship had put into the Thames
instead of the Humber.

The packet contained one of the black stones which the science of the
time expected to transmute into gold, also some Esquimaux trinkets made
of bone, and a few shells.  These were for the mother and Cis, and
there were also the tusks of a sea-elephant which Humfrey would lay up
at my Lord's London lodgings till his father sent tidings what should
be done with them, and whether he should come home at once by sea to
Hull, or if, as he much desired to do, he might join an expedition
which was fitting out for the Spanish Main, where he was assured that
much more both of gold and honour was to be acquired than in the cold
northern seas, where nothing was to be seen for the fog at most times,
and when it cleared only pigmies, with their dogs, white bears, and
seals, also mountains of ice bigger than any church, blue as my lady's
best sapphires, green as her emeralds, sparkling as her diamonds, but
ready to be the destruction of the ships.

"One there was," wrote Humfrey, "that I could have thought was no other
than the City that the blessed St. John saw descending from Heaven, so
fair was it to look on, but they cried out that it was rather a City of
Destruction, and when we had got out of the current where it was
bearing down on us, our noble captain piped all hands up to prayers,
and gave thanks for our happy deliverance therefrom."

Susan breathed a thanksgiving as her husband read, and he forbore to
tell her of the sharks, the tornadoes, and the fevers which might make
the tropical seas more perilous than the Arctic.  No Elizabethan
mariner had any scruples respecting piracy, and so long as the captain
was a godly man who kept up strict discipline on board, Master Richard
held the quarterdeck to be a much more wholesome place than the
Manor-house, and much preferred the humours of the ship to those of any
other feminine creature; for, as to his Susan, he always declared that
she was the only woman who had none.

So she accepted his decision, and saw the wisdom of it, though her
tender heart deeply felt the disappointment.  Tenderly she packed up
the shirts which she and Cis had finished, and bestrewed them with
lavender, which, as she said, while a tear dropped with the gray
blossoms, would bring the scent of home to the boy.

Cis affected to be indifferent and offended.  Master Humfrey might do
as he chose.  She did not care if he did prefer pitch and tar, and
whale blubber and grease, to hawks and hounds, and lords and ladies.
She was sure she wanted no more great lubberly lads--with a sly cut at
Diccon--to tangle her silk, and torment her to bait their hooks. She
was well quit of any one of them.

When Diccon proposed that she should write a letter to Humfrey, she
declared that she should do no such thing, since he had never attempted
to write to her.  In truth Diccon may have made the proposal in order
to obtain a companion in misfortune, since Master Sniggius, emulous of
the success of other tutors, insisted on his writing to his brother in
Latin, and the unfortunate epistle of Ricardus to Onofredus was revised
and corrected to the last extremity, and as it was allowed to contain
no word unknown to Virgilius Maro, it could not have afforded much
delectation to the recipient.

But when Mrs. Susan had bestowed all the shirts as neatly as possible,
on returning to settle them for the last time before wrapping them up
for the messenger, she felt something hard among them.  It was a tiny
parcel wrapped in a piece of a fine kerchief, tied round with a tress
of dark hair, and within, Susan knew by the feeling, a certain chess
rook which had been won by Cis when shooting at the butts a week or two



After several weary months of languishing, Charles Stewart was saved
from the miseries which seemed the natural inheritance of his name by
sinking into his grave.  His funeral was conducted with the utmost
magnificence, though the Earl of Shrewsbury declined to be present at
it, and shortly after, the Countess intimated her purpose of returning
to Sheffield, bringing with her the little orphan, Lady Arabella
Stewart.  Orders came that the best presence chamber in the Manor-house
should be prepared, the same indeed where Queen Mary had been quartered
before the lodge had been built for her use.  The Earl was greatly
perturbed.  "Whom can she intend to bring?" he went about asking.  "If
it were the Lady Margaret, it were be much as my head were worth to
admit her within the same grounds as this Queen."

"There is no love lost between the mother-in-law and daughter-in-law,"
observed his son Gilbert in a consolatory tone.

"Little good would that do to me, if once it came to the ears of her
Grace and the Lord Treasurer that both had been my guests!  And if I
had to close the gates--though in no other way could I save my life and
honour--your mother would never forget it.  It would be cast up to me
for ever.  What think you, daughter Talbot?"

"Mayhap," said Dame Mary, "my lady mother has had a hint to make ready
for her Majesty herself, who hath so often spoken of seeing the Queen
of Scots, and might think well to take her unawares."

This was a formidable suggestion.  "Say you so," cried the poor Earl,
with an alarm his eye would never have betrayed had Parma himself been
within a march of Sheffield, "then were we fairly spent.  I am an
impoverished man, eaten out of house and lands as it is, and were the
Queen herself to come, I might take at once to the beggar's bowl."

"But think of the honour, good my lord," cried Mary.  "Think of all
Hallamshire coming to do her homage.  Oh, how I should laugh to hear
the Mayor stumbling over his address."

"Laugh, ay," growled the Earl; "and how will you laugh when there is
not a deer left in the park, nor an ox in the stalls?"

"Nay, my Lord," interposed Gilbert, "there is no fear of her Majesty's
coming.  That post from M. de la Mauvissiere reported her at Greenwich
only five days back, and it would take her Majesty a far longer time to
make her progress than yonder fellow, who will tell you himself that
she had no thoughts of moving."

"That might only be a feint to be the more sudden with us," said his
wife, actuated in part by the diversion of alarming her father-in-law,
and in part really fired by the hope of such an effectual enlivenment
of the dulness of Sheffield.

They were all in full family conclave drawn up in the hall for the
reception, and Mistress Susan, who could not bear to see the Earl so
perplexed and anxious, ventured to say that she was quite sure that my
Lady Countess would have sent warning forward if indeed she were
bringing home such a guest, and at that moment the blare of trumpets
announced that the cavalcade was approaching.  The start which the Earl
gave showed how much his nerves had become affected by his years of
custody.  Up the long avenue they came, with all the state with which
the Earl had conducted Queen Mary to the lodge before she was
absolutely termed a prisoner.  Halberdiers led the procession, horse
and foot seemed to form it.  The home party stood on the top of the
steps watching with much anxiety.  There was a closed litter visible,
beside which Lady Shrewsbury, in a mourning dress and hood, could be
seen riding her favourite bay palfrey.  No doubt it contained the Lady
Margaret, Countess of Lennox; and the unfortunate Earl, forgetting all
his stately dignity, stood uneasily moving from leg to leg, and pulling
his long beard, torn between the instincts of hospitality and of loyal
obedience, between fear of his wife and fear of the Queen.

The litter halted at the foot of the steps, the Earl descended.  All he
saw was the round face of an infant in its nurse's arms, and he turned
to help his wife from the saddle, but she waved him aside. "My son
Gilbert will aid me, my Lord," said she, "your devoir is to the

Poor Lord Shrewsbury, his apologies on his tongue, looked into the
litter, where he saw the well-known and withered countenance of the
family nurse.  He also beheld a buxom young female, whose dress marked
her as a peasant, but before he had time to seek further for the
princess, the tightly rolled chrysalis of a child was thrust into his
astonished arms, while the round face puckered up instantly with terror
at sight of his bearded countenance, and he was greeted with a loud
yell.  He looked helplessly round, and his lady was ready at once to
relieve him.  "My precious!  My sweetheart!  My jewel!  Did he look
sour at her and frighten her with his ugsome beard?" and the like
endearments common to grandmothers in all ages.

"But where is the princess?"

"Where?  Where should she be but here?  Her grandame's own precious,
royal, queenly little darling!" and as a fresh cry broke out, "Yes,
yes; she shall to her presence chamber.  Usher her, Gilbert."

"Bess's brat!" muttered Dame Mary, in ineffable disappointment.

Curiosity and the habit of obedience to the Countess carried the entire
troop on to the grand apartments on the south side, where Queen Mary
had been lodged while the fiction of her guestship had been kept up.
Lady Shrewsbury was all the time trying to hush the child, who was
quite old enough to be terrified by new faces and new scenes, and who
was besides tired and restless in her swaddling bands, for which she
was so nearly too old that she had only been kept in them for greater
security upon the rough and dangerous roads. Great was my lady's
indignation on reaching the state rooms on finding that no nursery
preparations had been made, and her daughter Mary, with a giggle hardly
repressed by awe of her mother, stood forth and said, "Why, verily, my
lady, we expected some great dame, my Lady Margaret or my Lady Hunsdon
at the very least, when you spoke of a princess."

"And who should it be but one who has both the royal blood of England
and Scotland in her veins?  You have not saluted the child to whom you
have the honour to be akin, Mary!  On your knee, minion; I tell you she
hath as good or a better chance of wearing a crown as any woman in

"She hath a far better chance of a prison," muttered the Earl, "if all
this foolery goes on."

"What!  What is that?  What are you calling these honours to my orphan
princess?" cried the lady, but the princess herself here broke in with
the lustiest of squalls, and Susan, who was sorry for the child,
contrived to insert an entreaty that my lady would permit her to be
taken at once to the nursery chamber that had been made ready for her,
and let her there be fed, warmed, and undressed at once.

There was something in the quality of Susan's voice to which people
listened, and the present necessity overcame the Countess's desire to
assert the dignity of her granddaughter, so she marched out of the room
attended by the women, while the Earl and his sons were only too glad
to slink away--there is no other word for it, their relief as to the
expected visitor having been exchanged for consternation of another

There was a blazing fire ready, and all the baby comforts of the time
provided, and poor little Lady Arbell was relieved from her swathing
bands, and allowed to stretch her little limbs on her nurse's lap, the
one rest really precious to babes of all periods and conditions--but
the troubles were not yet over, for the grandmother, glancing round,
demanded, "Where is the cradle inlaid with pearl?  Why was it not
provided?  Bring it here."

Now this cradle, carved in cedar wood and inlaid with mother-of-pearl,
had been a sponsor's gift to poor little George, the first male heir of
the Talbots, and it was regarded as a special treasure by his mother,
who was both wounded and resentful at the demand, and stood pouting and
saying, "It was my son's.  It is mine."

"It belongs to the family.  You," to two of the servants, "fetch it
here instantly!"

The ladies of Hardwicke race were not guarded in temper or language,
and Mary burst into passionate tears and exclamations that Bess's brat
should not have her lost George's cradle, and flounced away to get
before the servants and lock it up.  Lady Shrewsbury would have sprung
after her, and have made no scruple of using her fists and nails even
on her married daughter, but that she was impeded by a heavy table, and
this gave time for Susan to throw herself before her, and entreat her
to pause.

"You, you, Susan Talbot!  You should know better than to take the part
of an undutiful, foul-tongued vixen like that.  Out of my way, I say!"
and as Susan, still on her knees, held the riding-dress, she received a
stinging box on the ear.  But in her maiden days she had known the
weight of my lady's hand, and without relaxing her hold, she only
entreated: "Hear me, hear me for a little space, my lady. Did you but
know how sore her heart is, and how she loved little Master George!"

"That is no reason she should flout and miscall her dead sister, of
whom she was always jealous!"

"O madam, she wept with all her heart for poor Lady Lennox.  It is not
any evil, but she sets such store by that cradle in which her child
died--she keeps it by her bed even now, and her woman told me how, for
all she seems gay and blithe by day, she weeps over it at night, as if
her heart would break."

Lady Shrewsbury was a little softened.  "The child died in it?" she

"Yea, madam.  He had been on his father's knee, and had seemed a little
easier, and as if he might sleep, so Sir Gilbert laid him down, and he
did but stretch himself out, shiver all over, draw a long breath, and
the pretty lamb was gone to Paradise!"

"You saw him, Susan?"

"Yea, madam.  Dame Mary sent for me, but none could be of any aid where
it was the will of Heaven to take him."

"If I had been there," said the Countess, "I who have brought up eight
children and lost none, I should have saved him!  So he died in yonder
cedar cradle!  Well, e'en let Mary keep it.  It may be that there is
infection in the smell of the cedar wood, and that the child will sleep
better out of it.  It is too late to do aught this evening, but
to-morrow the child shall be lodged as befits her birth, in the
presence chamber."

"Ah, madam!" said Susan, "would it be well for the sweet babe if her
Majesty's messengers, who be so often at the castle, were to report her
so lodged?"

"I have a right to lodge my grandchild where and how I please in my own

"Yea, madam, that is most true, but you wot how the Queen treats all
who may have any claim to the throne in future times; and were it
reported by any of the spies that are ever about us, how royal honours
were paid to the little Lady Arbell, might she not be taken from your
ladyship's wardship, and bestowed with those who would not show her
such loving care?"

The Countess would not show whether this had any effect on her, or else
some sound made by the child attracted her.  It was a puny little
thing, and she had a true grandmother's affection for it, apart from
her absurd pride and ambition, so that she was glad to hold counsel
over it with Susan, who had done such justice to her training as to be,
in her eyes, a mother who had sense enough not to let her children
waste and die; a rare merit in those days, and one that Susan could not
disclaim, though she knew that it did not properly belong to her.

Cis had stood by all the time like a little statue, for no one, not
even young Lady Talbot, durst sit down uninvited in the presence of
Earl or Countess; but her black brows were bent, her gray eyes intent.

"Mother," she said, as they went home on their quiet mules, "are great
ladies always so rudely spoken to one another?"

"I have not seen many great ladies, Cis, and my Lady Countess has
always been good to me."

"Antony said that the Scots Queen and her ladies never storm at one
another like my lady and her daughters."

"Open words do not always go deep, Cis," said the mother.  "I had
rather know and hear the worst at once."  And then her heart smote her
as she recollected that she might be implying censure of the girl's
true mother, as well as defending wrath and passion, and she added, "Be
that as it may, it is a happy thing to learn to refrain the tongue."



The storm that followed on the instalment of the Lady Arbell at
Sheffield was the precursor of many more.  Her grandmother did
sufficiently awake to the danger of alarming the jealousy of Queen
Elizabeth to submit to leave her in the ordinary chambers of the
children of the house, and to exact no extraordinary marks of respect
towards the unconscious infant; but there was no abatement in the
Countess's firm belief that an English-born, English-bred child, would
have more right to the crown than any "foreign princes," as she
contemptuously termed the Scottish Queen and her son.

Moreover, in her two years' intercourse with the elder Countess of
Lennox, who was a gentle-tempered but commonplace woman, she had
adopted to the full that unfortunate princess's entire belief in the
guilt of Queen Mary, and entertained no doubt that she had been the
murderer of Darnley.  Old Lady Lennox had seen no real evidence, and
merely believed what she was told by her lord, whose impeachment of
Bothwell had been baffled by the Queen in a most suspicious manner.
Conversations with this lady had entirely changed Lady Shrewsbury from
the friendly hostess of her illustrious captive, to be her enemy and
persecutor, partly as being convinced of her guilt, partly as regarding
her as an obstacle in the path of little Arbell to the throne.  So she
not only refused to pay her respects as usual to "that murtheress," but
she insisted that her husband should tighten the bonds of restraint,
and cut off all indulgences.

The Countess was one of the women to whom argument and reason are
impossible, and who was entirely swayed by her predilections, as well
as of so imperious a nature as to brook no opposition, and to be almost
always able to sweep every one along with her.

Her own sons always were of her mind, and her daughters might fret and
chafe, but were sure to take part with her against every one else
outside the Cavendish family.  The idea of being kinsfolk to the future
Queen excited them all, and even Mary forgot her offence about the
cradle, and her jealousy of Bess, and ranked herself against her
stepfather, influencing her husband, Gilbert, on whom the unfortunate
Earl had hitherto leant.  On his refusal to persecute his unfortunate
captive beyond the orders from the Court, Bess of Hardwicke, emboldened
by the support she had gathered from her children, passionately
declared that it could only be because he was himself in love with the
murtheress.  Lord Shrewsbury could not help laughing a little at the
absurdity of the idea, whereupon my lady rose up in virtuous
indignation, calling her sons and daughters to follow her.

All that night, lights might have been seen flitting about at the
Manor-house, and early in the morning bugles sounded to horse.  A huge
procession, consisting of the Countess herself, and all her sons and
daughters then at Sheffield, little Lady Arbell, and the whole of their
attendants, swept out of the gates of the park on the way to Hardwicke.
When Richard Talbot went up to fulfil his duties as gentleman porter at
the lodge the courts seemed well-nigh deserted, and a messenger
summoned him at once to the Earl, whom he found in his bed-chamber in
his morning gown terribly perturbed.

"For Heaven's sake send for your wife, Richard Talbot!" he said. "It is
her Majesty's charge that some of mine household, or I myself, see this
unhappy Queen of Scots each day for not less than two hours, as you
well know.  My lady has broken away, and all her daughters, on this
accursed fancy--yea, and Gilbert too, Gilbert whom I always looked to
to stand by me; I have no one to send.  If I go and attend upon her
alone, as I have done a thousand times to my sorrow, it will but give
colour to the monstrous tale; but if your good wife, an honourable lady
of the Hardwicke kin, against whom none ever breathed a word, will go
and give the daily attendance, then can not the Queen herself find
fault, and my wife's heated fancy can coin nothing suspicious.  You
must all come up, and lodge here in the Manor-house till this tempest
be overpast.  Oh, Richard, Richard! will it last out my life?  My very
children are turned against me.  Go you down and fetch your good Susan,
and take order for bringing up your children and gear.  Benthall shall
take your turn at the lodge.  What are you tarrying for?  Do you doubt
whether your wife have rank enough to wait on the Queen?  She should
have been a knight's lady long ago, but that I deemed you would be glad
to be quit of herald's fees; your service and estate have merited it,
and I will crave license by to-day's courier from her Majesty to lay
knighthood on your shoulder."

"That was not what I thought of, my Lord, though I humbly thank you,
and would be whatever was best for your Lordship's service, though, if
it would serve you as well, I would rather be squire than knight; but I
was bethinking me how we should bestow our small family.  We have a
young damsel at an age not to be left to herself."

"The black-browed maid--I recollect her.  Let her e'en follow her
mother.  Queen Mary likes a young face, and is kindly disposed to
little maids.  She taught Bess Pierrepoint to speak French and work
with her needle, and I cannot see that she did the lass any harm, nay,
she is the only one of them all that can rule her tongue to give a soft
answer if things go not after her will, and a maid might learn worse
things.  Besides, your wife will be there to look after the maiden, so
you need have no fears.  And for your sons, they will be at school, and
can eat with us."

Richard's doubts being thus silenced he could not but bring his wife to
his lord's rescue, though he well knew that Susan would be greatly
disturbed on all accounts, and indeed he found her deep in the ironing
that followed the great spring wash, and her housewifely mind was as
much exercised as to the effects of her desertion, as was her maternal
prudence at the plunge which her unconscious adopted child was about to
make.  However, there was no denying the request, backed as it was by
her husband, looking at her proudly, and declaring she was by general
consent the only discreet woman in Sheffield.  She was very sorry for
the Earl's perplexity, and had a loyal pity for the Countess's vexation
and folly, and she was consoled by the assurance that she would have a
free time between dinner and supper to go home and attend to her wash,
and finish her preparations.  Cis, who had been left in a state of
great curiosity, to continue compounding pickle while the mother was
called away, was summoned, to don her holiday kirtle, for she was to
join in attendance on the Queen of Scots while Lady Shrewsbury and her
daughters were absent.

It was unmixed delight to the girl, and she was not long in
fresh-binding up her hair--black with a little rust-coloured
tinge--under her stiff little cap, smoothing down the front, which was
alone visible, putting on the well-stiffened ruff with the dainty
little lace edge and close-fitting tucker, and then the gray home-spun
kirtle, with the puffs at the top of the tight sleeves, and the slashes
into which she had persuaded mother to insert some old pink satin, for
was not she sixteen now, and almost a woman?  There was a pink
breast-knot to match, and Humfrey's owch just above it, gray stockings,
home-spun and worked with elaborate pink clocks, but knitted by Cis
herself; and a pair of shoes with pink roses to match were put into a
bag, to be assumed when she arrived at the lodge. Out of this simple
finery beamed a face, bright in spite of the straight, almost bushy,
black brows.  There was a light of youth, joy, and intelligence, about
her gray eyes which made them sparkle all the more under their dark
setting, and though her complexion had no brilliancy, only the
clearness of health, and her features would not endure criticism, there
was a wonderful lively sweetness about her fresh, innocent young mouth;
and she had a tall lithe figure, surpassing that of her stepmother.
She would have been a sonsie Border lass in appearance but for the
remarkable carriage of her small head and shoulders, which was
assuredly derived from her royal ancestry, and indeed her air and
manner of walking were such that Diccon had more than once accused her
of sailing about ambling like the Queen of Scots, an accusation which
she hotly denied.  Her hands bad likewise a slender form and fine
texture, such as none of the ladies of the houses of Talbot or
Hardwicke could rival, but she was on the whole viewed as far from
being a beauty.  The taste of the day was altogether for light,
sandy-haired, small-featured women, like Queen Elizabeth or her
namesake of Hardwicke, so that Cis was looked on as a sort of crow, and
her supposed parents were pitied for having so ill-favoured a daughter,
so unlike all their families, except one black-a-vised Talbot
grandmother, whose portrait had been discovered on a pedigree.

Much did Susan marvel what impression the daughter would make on the
true mother as they jogged up on their sober ponies through the long
avenues, whose branches were beginning to wear the purple shades of
coming spring.

Lord Shrewsbury himself met them in front of the lodge, where, in spite
of all his dignity, he had evidently been impatiently awaiting them.
He thanked Susan for coming, as if he had not had a right to order,
gave her his ungloved hand when she had dismounted, then at the single
doorway of the lodge caused his gentleman to go through the form of
requesting admission for himself and Mistress Talbot, his dear
kinswoman, to the presence of the Queen.  It was a ceremony daily
observed as an acknowledgment of Mary's royalty, and the Earl was far
too courteous ever to omit it.

Queen Mary's willingness to admit him was notified by Sir Andrew
Melville, a tall, worn man, with the typical Scottish countenance and a
keen steadfast gray eye.  He marshalled the trio up a circular
staircase, made as easy as possible, but necessarily narrow, since it
wound up through a brick turret at the corner, to the third and
uppermost story of the lodge.

There, however, was a very handsome anteroom, with tapestry hangings, a
richly moulded ceiling, and wide carved stone chimneypiece, where a
bright fire was burning, around which sat several Scottish and French
gentlemen, who rose at the Earl's entrance.  Another wide doorway with
a tapestry curtain over the folding leaves led to the presence chamber,
and Sir Andrew announced in as full style as if he had been marshalling
an English ambassador to the Court of Holyrood, the most high and
mighty Earl of Shrewsbury.  The room was full of March sunshine, and a
great wood fire blazed on the hearth.  Part of the floor was carpeted,
and overhung with a canopy, proceeding from the tapestried wall, and
here was a cross-legged velvet chair on which sat Queen Mary.  This was
all that Cis saw at first, while the Earl advanced, knelt on one step
of the dais, with bared head, exchanging greetings with the Queen.  He
then added, that his wife, the Countess, and her daughter, having been
called away from Sheffield, he would entreat her Grace to accept for a
few days in their stead the attendance of his good kinswoman, Mrs.
Talbot, and her daughter, Mistress Cicely.

Mary graciously intimated her consent, and extended her hand for each
to kiss as they knelt in turn on the step; Susan either fancied, or
really saw a wonderful likeness in that taper hand to the little one
whose stitches she had so often guided.  Cis, on her part, felt the
thrill of girlhood in the actual touch of the subject of her dreams.
She stood, scarcely hearing what passed, but taking in, from under her
black brows, all the surroundings, and recognising the persons from her
former glimpses, and from Antony Babington's descriptions. The presence
chamber was ample for the suite of the Queen, which had been reduced on
every fresh suspicion.  There was in it, besides the Queen's four
ladies, an elderly one, with a close black silk hood--Jean Kennedy, or
Mrs. Kennett as the English called her; another, a thin slight figure,
with a worn face, as if a great sorrow had passed over her, making her
look older than her mistress, was the Queen's last remaining Mary,
otherwise Mrs. Seaton.  The gossip of Sheffield had not failed to tell
how the chamberlain, Beatoun, had been her suitor, and she had half
consented to accept him when he was sent on a mission to France, and
there died.  The dark-complexioned bright-eyed little lady, on a
smaller scale than the rest, was Marie de Courcelles, who, like the two
others, had been the Queen's companion in all her adventures; and the
fourth, younger and prettier than the rest, was already known to Cis
and her mother, since she was the Barbara Mowbray who was affianced to
Gilbert Curll, the Queen's Scottish secretary, recently taken into her
service.  Both these were Protestants, and, like the Bridgefield
family, attended service in the castle chapel.  They were all at work,
as was likewise their royal lady, to whom the girl, with the youthful
coyness that halts in the fulfilment of its dreams, did not at first
raise her eyes, having first taken in all the ladies, the several
portions of one great coverlet which they were all embroidering in
separate pieces, and the gentleman who was reading aloud to them from a
large book placed on a desk at which he was standing.

When she did look up, as the Queen was graciously requesting her mother
to be seated, and the Earl excusing himself from remaining longer, her
first impression was one of disappointment.  Either the Queen of Scots
was less lovely seen leisurely close at hand than Antony Babington and
Cis's own fancy had painted her, or the last two or three years had
lessened her charms, as well they might, for she had struggled and
suffered much in the interval, had undergone many bitter
disappointments, and had besides endured much from rheumatism every
winter, indeed, even now she could not ride, and could only go out in a
carriage in the park on the finest days, looking forward to her annual
visit to Buxton to set her up for the summer.  Her face was longer and
more pointed than in former days, her complexion had faded, or perhaps
in these private moments it had not been worth while to enhance it;
though there was no carelessness in the general attire, the black
velvet gown, and delicate lace of the cap, and open ruff always
characteristic of her.  The small curls of hair at her temples had
their auburn tint softened by far more white than suited one who was
only just over forty, but the delicate pencilling of the eyebrows was
as marked as ever; and the eyes, on whose colour no one ever agreed,
melted and sparkled as of old.  Cis had heard debates as to their hue,
and furtively tried to form her own opinion, but could not decide on
anything but that they had a dark effect, and a wonderful power of
expression, seeming to look at every one at once, and to rebuke,
encourage, plead, or smile, from moment to moment. The slight cast in
one of them really added to their force of expression rather than
detracted from their beauty, and the delicate lips were ready to second
the glances with wondrous smiles.  Cis had not felt the magic of her
mere presence five minutes without being convinced that Antony
Babington was right; the Lord Treasurer and all the rest utterly wrong,
and that she beheld the most innocent and persecuted of princesses.

Meantime, all due formalities having been gone through, Lord Shrewsbury
bowed himself out backwards with a dexterity that Cis breathlessly
admired in one so stately and so stiff, forgetting that he had daily
practice in the art.  Then Queen Mary courteously entreated her
visitors to be seated, near herself, asking with a smile if this were
not the little maiden who had queened it so prettily in the brake some
few years since.  Cis blushed and drew back her head with a pretty
gesture of dignified shyness as Susan made answer for her that she was
the same.

"I should have known it," said the Queen, smiling, "by the port of her
head alone.  'Tis strange," she said, musing, "that maiden hath the
bearing of head and neck that I have never seen save in my own mother,
the saints rest her soul, and in her sisters, and which we always held
to be their inheritance from the blood of Charlemagne."

"Your grace does her too much honour," Susan contrived to say, thankful
that no less remote resemblance had been detected.

"It was a sad farce when they tried to repeat your pretty comedy with
the chief performer omitted," proceeded the Queen, directing her words
to the girl, but the mother replied for her.

"Your Grace will pardon me, I could not permit her to play in public,
before all the menie of the castle."

"Madame is a discreet and prudent mother," said the Queen.  "The
mistake was in repeating the representation at all, not in abstaining
from appearing in it.  I should be very sorry that this young lady
should have been concerned in a spectacle a la comtesse."

There was something in the intonation of "this young lady" that won
Cis's heart on the spot, something in the concluding words that hurt
Susan's faithful loyalty towards her kinswoman, in spite of the
compliment to herself.  However Mary did not pursue the subject,
perceiving with ready tact that it was distasteful, and proceeded to
ask Dame Susan's opinion of her work, which was intended as a gift to
her good aunt, the Abbess of Soissons.  How strangely the name fell
upon Susan's ear.  It was a pale blue satin coverlet, worked in large
separate squares, innumerable shields and heraldic devices of Lorraine,
Bourbon, France, Scotland, etc., round the border, and beautiful
meandering patterns of branches, with natural flowers and leaves
growing from them covering the whole with a fascinating regular
irregularity.  Cis could not repress an exclamation of delight, which
brought the most charming glance of the winning eyes upon her.  There
was stitchery here that she did not understand, but when she looked at
some of the flowers, she could not help uttering the sentiment that the
eyes of the daisies were not as mother could make them.

So, as a great favour, Queen Mary entreated to be shown Mrs. Talbot's
mode of dealing with the eyes of the daisies.  No, her good Seaton
would not learn so well as she should; Madame must come and sit by her
and show her.  Meantime here was her poor little Bijou whimpering to be
taken on her lap.  Would not he find a comforter in sweet Mistress--ah,
what was her name?

"We named her Cicely, so please your Grace," said Susan, unable to help

"Cecile, a fair name.  Ah! so the poor Antoine called her.  I see my
Bijou has found a friend in you, Mistress Cecile"--as the girl's idle
hands were only too happy to caress the pretty little shivering Italian
greyhound rather than to be busy with a needle.  "Do you ever hear of
that young Babington, your playfellow?" she added.

"No, madam," said Cis, looking up, "he hath never been here!"

"I thought not," said Queen Mary, sighing.  "Take heed to manifest no
pity for me, maiden, if you should ever chance to be inspired with it
for a poor worn-out old prisoner.  It is the sure sentence of
misfortune and banishment."

"In his sex, madam," here put in Marie de Courcelles.  "If it were so
in ours, woe to some of us."

"That is true, my dear friends," said Mary, her eyes glistening with
dew.  "It is the women who are the most fearless, the most faithful,
and whom the saints therefore shield."

"Alas, there are some who are faithful but who are not shielded!"

It was merely a soft low murmur, but the tender-hearted Queen had
caught it, and rising impulsively, crossed the room and gathered Mary
Seaton's hands into hers, no longer the queen but the loving friend of
equal years, soothing her in a low fond voice, and presently sending
her to the inner chamber to compose herself.  Then as the Queen
returned slowly to her seat it would be seen how lame she was from
rheumatism.  Mrs. Kennedy hurried to assist her, with a nurse-like word
of remonstrance, to which she replied with a bewitching look of
sweetness that she could not but forget her aches and pains when she
saw her dear Mary Seaton in trouble.

Most politely she then asked whether her visitors would object to
listening to the conclusion of her day's portion of reading.  There was
no refusing, of course, though, as Susan glanced at the reader and knew
him to be strongly suspected of being in Holy Orders conferred abroad,
she had her fears for her child's Protestant principles.  The book,
however, proved to be a translation of St. Austin on the Psalms, and,
of course, she could detect nothing that she disapproved, even if Cis
had not been far too much absorbed by the little dog and its mistress
to have any comprehending ears for theology.  Queen Mary confidentially
observed as much to her after the reading, having, no doubt, detected
her uneasy glance.

"You need not fear for your child, madam," she said; "St. Augustine is
respected by your own Queen and her Bishops.  At the readings with
which my good Mr. Belton favours me, I take care to have nothing you
Protestants dispute when I know it."  She added, smiling, "Heaven knows
that I have endeavoured to understand your faith, and many a minister
has argued with me.  I have done my best to comprehend them, but they
agreed in nothing but in their abuse of the Pope.  At least so it
seemed to my poor weak mind.  But you are satisfied, madam, I see it in
your calm eyes and gentle voice.  If I see much of you, I shall learn
to think well of your religion."

Susan made an obeisance without answering.  She had heard Sir Gilbert
Talbot say, "If she tries to persuade you that you can convert her, be
sure that she means mischief," but she could not bear to believe it
anything but a libel while the sweet sad face was gazing into hers.

Queen Mary changed the subject by asking a few questions about the
Countess's sudden departure.  There was a sort of guarded irony
suppressed in her tone--she was evidently feeling her way with the
stranger, and when she found that Susan would only own to causes Lord
Shrewsbury had adduced on the spur of the moment, she was much too wary
to continue the examination, though Susan could not help thinking that
she knew full well the disturbance which had taken place.

A short walk on the roof above followed.  The sun was shining
brilliantly, and lame as she was, the Queen's strong craving for free
air led her to climb her stairs and creep to and fro on Sir Andrew
Melville's arm, gazing out over the noble prospect of the park close
below, divided by the winding vales of the three rivers, which could be
traced up into the woods and the moors beyond, purple with spring
freshness and glory.  Mary made her visitors point out Bridgefield, and
asked questions about all that could be seen of the house and
pleasance, which, in truth, was little enough, but she contrived to set
Cis off into a girl's chatter about her home occupations, and would not
let her be hushed.

"You little know the good it does a captive to take part, only in
fancy, in a free harmless life," returned Mary, with the wistful look
that made her eyes so pathetic.  "There is no refreshment to me like a
child's prattle."

Susan's heart smote her as she thought of the true relations in which
these two stood to one another, and she forbore from further
interference; but she greatly rejoiced when the great bell of the
castle gave notice of noon, and of her own release.  When Queen Mary's
dinner was served, the Talbot ladies in attendance left her and
repaired to the general family meal in the hall.



A period now began of daily penance to Mrs. Talbot, of daily excitement
and delight to Cis.  Two hours or more had to be spent in attendance on
Queen Mary.  Even on Sundays there was no exemption, the visit only
took place later in the day, so as not to interfere with going to

Nothing could be more courteous or more friendly than the manner in
which the elder lady was always received.  She was always made welcome
by the Queen herself, who generally entered into conversation with her
almost as with an equal.  Or when Mary herself was engaged in her privy
chamber in dictating to her secretaries, the ladies of the suite showed
themselves equally friendly, and told her of their mistress's
satisfaction in having a companion free from all the rude and
unaccountable humours and caprices of my Lady Countess and her
daughters.  And if Susan was favoured, Cis was petted.  Queen Mary
always liked to have young girls about her.  Their fresh, spontaneous,
enthusiastic homage was pleasant to one who loved above all to attract,
and it was a pleasure to a prisoner to have a fresh face about her.

Was it only this, or was it the maternal instinct that made her face
light up when the young girl entered the room and return the shy
reverential kiss of the hand with a tender kiss on the forehead, that
made her encourage the chatter, give little touches to the deportment,
and present little keepsakes, which increased in value till Sir Richard
began to look grave, and to say there must be no more jewels of price
brought from the lodge?  And as his wife uttered a word that sounded
like remonstrance, he added, "Not while she passes for my daughter."

Cis, who had begun by putting on a pouting face, burst into tears. Her
adopted parents had always been more tolerant and indulgent to her than
if she had been a child over whom they felt entire rights, and instead
of rewarding her petulance with such a blow as would have fallen to the
lot of a veritable Talbot, Richard shrugged his shoulders and left the
room--the chamber which had been allotted to Dame Susan at the
Manor-house, while Susan endeavoured to cheer the girl by telling her
not to grieve, for her father was not angry with her.

"Why--why may not the dear good Queen give me her dainty gifts?" sobbed

"See, dear child," said Susan, "while she only gave thee an orange
stuck with cloves, or an embroidery needle, or even a puppy dog, it is
all very well; but when it comes to Spanish gloves and coral clasps,
the next time there is an outcry about a plot, some evil-disposed
person would be sure to say that Master Richard Talbot had been taking
bribes through his daughter."

"It would be vilely false!" cried Cis with flashing eyes.

"It would not be the less believed," said Susan.  "My Lord would say we
had betrayed our trust, and there never has been one stain on my
husband's honour."

"You are wroth with me too, mother!" said Cis.

"Not if you are a good child, and guard the honour of the name you

"I will, I will!" said Cis.  "Never will I take another gift from the
Queen if only you and he will call me your child, and be--good to me--"
The rest was lost in tears and in the tender caresses that Susan
lavished on her; all the more as she caught the broken words, "Humfrey,
too, he would never forgive me."

Susan told her husband what had passed, adding, "She will keep her

"She must, or she shall go no more to the lodge," he said.

"You would not have doubted had you seen her eye flash at the thought
of bringing your honour into question.  There spoke her kingly blood."

"Well, we shall see," sighed Richard, "if it be blood that makes the
nature.  I fear me hers is but that of a Scottish thief!  Scorn not
warning, mother, but watch thy stranger nestling well."

"Nay, mine husband.  While we own her as our child, she will do
anything to be one with us.  It is when we seem to put her from us that
we wound her so that I know not what she might do, fondled as she
is--by--by her who--has the best right to the dear child."

Richard uttered a certain exclamation of disgust which silenced his
discreet wife.

Neither of them had quite anticipated the result, namely, that the next
morning, Cis, after kissing the Queen's hand as usual, remained
kneeling, her bosom heaving, and a little stammering on her tongue,
while tears rose to her eyes.

"What is it, mignonne," said Mary, kindly; "is the whelp dead? or is
the clasp broken?"

"No, madam; but--but I pray you give me no more gifts.  My father says
it touches his honour, and I have promised him--Oh, madam, be not
displeased with me, but let me give you back your last beauteous gift."

Mary was standing by the fire.  She took the ivory and coral trinket
from the hand of the kneeling girl, and dashed it into the hottest
glow.  There was passion in the action, and in the kindling eye, but it
was but for a moment.  Before Cis could speak or Susan begin her
excuses, the delicate hand was laid on the girl's head, and a calm
voice said, "Fear not, child.  Queens take not back their gifts.  I
ought to have borne in mind that I am balked of the pleasure of
giving--the beat of all the joys they have robbed me of.  But tremble
not, sweetheart, I am not chafed with thee.  I will vex thy father no
more.  Better thou shouldst go without a trinket or two than deprive me
of the light of that silly little face of thine so long as they will
leave me that sunbeam."

She stooped and kissed the drooping brow, and Susan could not but feel
as if the voice of nature were indeed speaking.

A few words of apology in her character of mother for the maiden's
abrupt proceeding were met by the Queen most graciously.  "Spare thy
words, good madam.  We understand and reverence Mr. Talbot's point of
honour.  Would that all who approached us had held his scruples!"

Perhaps Mary was after this more distant and dignified towards the
matron, but especially tender and caressing towards the maiden, as if
to make up by kindness for the absence of little gifts.

Storms, however, were brewing without.  Lady Shrewsbury made open
complaints of her husband having become one of Mary's many victims,
representing herself as an injured wife driven out of her house.  She
actually in her rage carried the complaint to Queen Elizabeth, who sent
down two commissioners to inquire into the matter.  They sat in the
castle hall, and examined all the attendants, including Richard and his
wife.  The investigation was extremely painful and distressing, but it
was proved that nothing could have been more correct and guarded than
the whole intercourse between the Earl and his prisoner.  If he had
erred, it had been on the side of caution and severity, though he had
always preserved the courteous demeanour of a gentleman, and had been
rejoiced to permit whatever indulgences could be granted.  If there had
been any transgressions of the strict rules, they had been made by the
Countess herself and her daughters in the days of their intimacy with
the Queen; and the aspersions on the unfortunate Earl were, it was soon
evident, merely due to the violent and unscrupulous tongues of the
Countess and her daughter Mary.  No wonder that Lord Shrewsbury wrote
letters in which he termed the lady "his wicked and malicious wife,"
and expressed his conviction that his son Gilbert's mind had been
perverted by her daughter.

The indignation of the captive Queen was fully equal to his, as one
after another of her little court returned and was made to detail the
points on which he or she had been interrogated.  Susan found her
pacing up and down the floor like a caged tigress, her cap and veil
thrown back, so that her hair--far whiter than what was usually
displayed--was hanging dishevelled, her ruff torn open, as if it choked
back the swelling passion in her throat.

"Never, never content with persecuting me, they must insult me!  Is it
not enough that I am stripped of my crown, deprived of my friends; that
I cannot take a step beyond this chamber, queen as I am, without my
warder?  Must they attaint me as a woman?  Oh, why, why did the doom
spare me that took my little brothers?   Why did I live to be the most
wretched, not of sovereigns alone, but of women?"

"Madam," entreated Marie de Courcelles, "dearest madam, take courage.
All these horrible charges refute themselves."

"Ah, Marie! you have said so ten thousand times, and what charge has
ever been dropped?"

"This one is dropped!" exclaimed Susan, coming forward.  "Yes, your
Grace, indeed it is!  The Commissioner himself told my husband that no
one believed it for a moment."

"Then why should these men have been sent but to sting and gall me, and
make me feel that I am in their power?" cried the Queen.

"They came," said the Secretary Curll, "because thus alone could the
Countess be silenced."

"The Countess!" exclaimed Mary.  "So my cousin hath listened to her

"Backed by her daughter's," added Jean Kennedy.

"It were well that she knew what those two dames can say of her Majesty
herself, when it serves them," added Marie de Courcelles.

"That shall she!" exclaimed Mary.  "She shall have it from mine own
hand!  Ha! ha!  Elizabeth shall know the choice tales wherewith Mary
Talbot hath regaled us, and then shall she judge how far anything that
comes from my young lady is worth heeding for a moment. Remember you
all the tales of the nips and the pinches?  Ay, and of all the
endearments to Leicester and to Hatton?  She shall have it all, and try
how she likes the dish of scandal of Mary Talbot's cookery, sauced by
Bess of Hardwicke.  Here, nurse, come and set this head-gear of mine in
order, and do you, my good Curll, have pen, ink, and paper in readiness
for me."

The Queen did little but write that morning.  The next day, on coming
out from morning prayers, which the Protestants of her suite attended,
with the rest of the Shrewsbury household, Barbara Mowbray contrived to
draw Mrs. Talbot apart as they went towards the lodge.

"Madam," she said, "they all talk of your power to persuade.  Now is
the time you could do what would be no small service to this poor
Queen, ay, and it may be to your own children."

"I may not meddle in any matters of the Queen's," returned Susan,
rather stiffly.

"Nay, but hear me, madam.  It is only to hinder the sending of a

"That letter which her Grace was about to write yesterday?"

"Even so.  'Tis no secret, for she read fragments of it aloud, and all
her women applauded it with all their might, and laughed over the
stings that it would give, but Mr. Curll, who bad to copy it, saith
that there is a bitterness in it that can do nothing but make her
Majesty of England the more inflamed, not only against my Lady
Shrewsbury, but against her who writ the letter, and all concerned.
Why, she hath even brought in the comedy that your children acted in
the woodland, and that was afterwards repeated in the hall!"

"You say not so, Mistress Barbara?"

"Indeed I do.  Mr. Curll and Sir Andrew Melville are both of them sore
vexed, and would fain have her withdraw it; but Master Nau and all the
French part of the household know not how to rejoice enough at such an
exposure of my Lady, which gives a hard fling at Queen Elizabeth at the
same time!  Nay, I cannot but tell you that there are things in it that
Dame Mary Talbot might indeed say, but I know not how Queen Mary could
bring herself to set down--"

Barbara Mowbray ventured no more, and Susan felt hopeless of her task,
since how was she by any means to betray knowledge of the contents of
the letter?  Yet much that she had heard made her feel very uneasy on
all accounts.  She had too much strong family regard for the Countess
and for Gilbert Talbot and his wife to hear willingly of what might
imperil them, and though royal indignation would probably fly over the
heads of the children, no one was too obscure in those Tudor times to
stand in danger from a sovereign who might think herself insulted.  Yet
as a Hardwicke, and the wife of a Talbot, it was most unlikely that she
would have any opening for remonstrance given to her.

However, it was possible that Curll wished to give her an opening, for
no sooner were the ladies settled at work than he bowed himself forward
and offered his mistress his copy of the letter.

"Is it fair engrossed, good Curll?" asked Mary.

"Thanks.  Then will we keep your copy, and you shall fold and prepare
our own for our sealing."

"Will not your Majesty hear it read over ere it pass out of your
hands?" asked Curll.

"Even so," returned Mary, who really was delighted with the pungency of
her own composition.  "Mayhap we may have a point or two to add."

After what Mistress Barbara had said, Susan was on thorns that Cis
should hear the letter; but that good young lady, hating the
expressions therein herself, and hating it still more for the girl,
bethought her of asking permission to take Mistress Cicely to her own
chamber, there to assist her in the folding of some of her laces, and
Mary consented.  It was well, for there was much that made the
English-bred Susan's cheeks glow and her ears tingle.

But, at least, it gave her a great opportunity.  When the letter was
finished, she advanced and knelt on the step of the canopied chair,
saying, "Madam, pardon me, if in the name of my unfortunate children, I
entreat you not to accuse them to the Queen."

"Your children, lady!  How have I included them in what I have told her
Majesty of our sweet Countess?"

"Your Grace will remember that the foremost parts in yonder farce were
allotted to my son Humfrey and to young Master Babington.  Nay, that
the whole arose from the woodland sport of little Cis, which your Grace
was pleased to admire."

"Sooth enough, my good gossip, but none could suspect the poor children
of the malice my Lady Countess contrived to put into the matter."

"Ah, madam! these are times when it is convenient to shift the blame on
one who can be securely punished."

"Certes," said Mary, thoughtfully, "the Countess is capable of making
her escape by denouncing some one else, especially those within her own

"Your Grace, who can speak such truth of my poor Lady," said Susan,
"will also remember that though my Lord did yield to the persuasions of
the young ladies, he so heedfully caused Master Sniggins to omit all
perilous matter, that no one not informed would have guessed at the
import of the piece, as it was played in the hall."

"Most assuredly not," said Mary, laughing a little at the recollection.
"It might have been played in Westminster Hall without putting my
gracious cousin, ay, or Leicester and Hatton themselves, to the blush."

"Thus, if the Queen should take the matter up and trace it home, it
could not but be brought to my poor innocent children!  Humfrey is for
the nonce out of reach, but the maiden--I wis verily that your Highness
would be loath to do her any hurt!"

"Thou art a good pleader, madam," said the queen.  "Verily I should not
like to bring the bonnie lassie into trouble.  It will give Master
Curll a little more toil, ay and myself likewise, for the matter must
stand in mine own hand; but we will leave out yonder unlucky farce."

"Your Highness is very good," said Susan earnestly.

"Yet you look not yet content, my good lady.  What more would you have
of me?"

"What your Majesty will scarce grant," said Susan.

"Ha! thou art of the same house thyself.  I had forgotten it; thou art
so unlike to them.  I wager that it is not to send this same letter at

"Your Highness hath guessed my mind.  Nay, madam, though assuredly I do
desire it because the Countess bath been ever my good lady, and bred me
up ever since I was an orphan, it is not solely for her sake that I
would fain pray you, but fully as much for your Majesty's own."

"Madame Talbot sees the matter as I do," said Sir Andrew Melville. "The
English Queen is as like to be irate with the reporter of the scandal
as with the author of it, even as the wolf bites the barb that pierces
him when he cannot reach the archer."

"She is welcome to read the letter," said Mary, smiling; "thy semblance
falleth short, my good friend."

"Nay, madam, that was not the whole of my purport," said Susan,
standing with folded hands, looking from one to another.  "Pardon me.
My thought was that to take part in all this repeating of thoughtless,
idle words, spoken foolishly indeed, but scarce so much in malice as to
amuse your Grace with Court news, and treasured up so long, your
Majesty descends from being the patient and suffering princess, meek,
generous, and uncomplaining, to be--to be--"

"No better than one of them, wouldst thou add?" asked Mary, somewhat
sharply, as Susan paused.

"Your Highness has said it," answered Susan; then, as there was a
moment's pause, she looked up, and with clasped hands added, "Oh,
madam! would it not be more worthy, more noble, more queenly, more
Christian, to refrain from stinging with this repetition of these vain
and foolish slanders?"

"Most Christian treatment have I met with," returned Mary; but after a
pause she turned to her almoner.  Master Belton, saying, "What say you,

"I say that Mrs. Talbot speaks more Christian words than are often
heard in these parts," returned he.  "The thankworthiness of suffering
is lost by those who return the revilings upon those who utter them."

"Then be it so," returned the Queen.  "Elizabeth shall be spared the
knowledge that some ladies' tongues can be as busy with her as with her
poor cousin."

With her own hands Mary tore up her own letter, but Curll's copy
unfortunately escaped destruction, to be discovered in after times.
Lord and Lady Shrewsbury never knew the service Susan had rendered them
by causing it to be suppressed.



The Countess was by no means pacified by the investigation, and both
she and her family remained at Court, maligning her husband and his
captive.  As the season advanced, bringing the time for the Queen's
annual resort to the waters of Buxton, Lord Shrewsbury was obliged to
entreat Mrs. Talbot again to be her companion, declaring that he had
never known so much peace as with that lady in the Queen's chambers.

The journey to Buxton was always the great holiday of the imprisoned
Court.  The place was part of the Shrewsbury property, and the Earl had
a great house there, but there were no conveniences for exercising so
strict a watch as at Sheffield, and there was altogether a relaxation
of discipline.  Exercise was considered an essential part of the
treatment, and recreations were there provided.

Cis had heard so much of the charms of the expedition, that she was
enraptured to hear that she was to share it, together with Mrs. Talbot.
The only drawback was that Humfrey had promised to come home after this
present voyage, to see whether his little Cis were ready for him; and
his father was much disposed to remain at home, receive him first, and
communicate to him the obstacles in the way of wedding the young lady.
However, my Lord refused to dispense with the attendance of his most
trustworthy kinsman, and leaving Ned at school under charge of the
learned Sniggius, the elder and the younger Richard Talbot rode forth
with the retinue of the Queen and her warder.

Neither Cicely nor Diccon had ever left home before, and they were in
raptures which would have made any journey delightful to them, far more
a ride through some of the wildest and loveliest glades that England
can display.  Nay, it may be that they would better have enjoyed
something less like Sheffield Park than the rocks, glens, and woods,
through which they rode.  Their real delight was in the towns and
villages at which there was a halt, and every traveller they saw was
such a wonder to them, that at the end of the first day they were
almost as full of exultation in their experiences, as if, with Humfrey,
they had been far on the way to America.

The delight of sleeping at Tideswell was in their eyes extreme, though
the hostel was so crowded that Cis had to share a mattress with Mrs.
Talbot, and Diccon had to sleep in his cloak on the floor, which he
persuaded himself was high preferment.  He woke, however, much sooner
than was his wont, and finding it useless to try to fall asleep again,
he made his way out among the sleeping figures on the floor and hall,
and finding the fountain in the midst of the court, produced his soap
and comb from his pocket, and made his morning toilet in the open air
with considerable satisfaction at his own alertness.  Presently there
was a tap at the window above, and he saw Cicely making signals to him
to wait for her, and in a few minutes she skipped out from the door
into the sunlight of the early summer morning.

"No one is awake yet," she said.  "Even the guard before the Queen's
door is fast asleep.  I only heard a wench or two stirring.  We can
have a run in the fields and gather May dew before any one is afoot."

"'Tis not May, 'tis June," said matter-of-fact Diccon.  "But yonder is
a guard at the yard gate; will he let us past?"

"See, here's a little wicket into a garden of pot-herbs," said Cis. "No
doubt we can get out that way, and it will bring us the sooner into the
fields.  I have a cake in my wallet that mother gave me for the
journey, so we shall not fast.   How sweet the herbs smell in the
dew--and see how silvery it lies on the strawberry leaves.  Ah! thou
naughty lad, think not whether the fruit be ripe.  Mayhap we shall find
some wild ones beyond."

The gate of the garden was likewise guarded, but by a yeoman who well
knew the young Talbots, and made no difficulty about letting them out
into the broken ground beyond the garden, sloping up into a little
hill.  Up bounded the boy and girl, like young mountaineers, through
gorse and fern, and presently had gained a sufficient height to look
over the country, marking the valleys whence still were rising
"fragrant clouds of dewy steam" under the influence of the sunbeams,
gazing up at the purple heights of the Peak, where a few lines of snow
still lingered in the crevices, trying to track their past journey from
their own Sheffield, and with still more interest to guess which wooded
valley before them contained Buxton.

"Have you lost your way, my pretty mistress?" said a voice close to
them, and turning round hastily they saw a peasant woman with a large
basket on her arm.

"No," said Cicely courteously, "we have only come out to take the air
before breakfast."

"I crave pardon," said the woman, curtseying, "the pretty lady belongs
to the great folk down yonder.  Would she look at my poor wares?  Here
are beads and trinkets of the goodly stones, pins and collars,
bracelets and eardrops, white, yellow, and purple," she said,
uncovering her basket, where were arranged various ornaments made of
Derbyshire spar.

"We have no money, good woman," said Cicely, rising to return, vaguely
uncomfortable at the woman's eye, which awoke some remembrance of
Tibbott the huckster, and the troubles connected with her.

"Yea, but if my young mistress would only bring me in to the Great Lady
there, I know she would buy of me my beads and bracelets, of give me an
alms for my poor children.  I have five of them, good young lady, and
they lie naked and hungry till I can sell my few poor wares, and the
yeomen are so rough and hard.  They would break and trample every poor
bead I have in pieces rather than even let my Lord hear of them.  But
if even my basket could be carried in and shown, and if the good Earl
heard my sad tale, I am sure he would give license."

"He never does!" said Diccon, roughly; "hold off, woman, do not hang on
us, or I'll get thee branded for a vagabond."

The woman put her knuckles into her eyes, and wailed out that it was
all for her poor children, and Cicely reproved him for his roughness,
and as the woman kept close behind them, wailing, moaning, and
persuading, the boy and girl were wrought upon at last to give her
leave to wait outside the gate of the inn garden, while they saw
whether it was possible to admit her or her basket.

But before they reached the gate, they saw a figure beyond it, scanning
the hill eagerly.  They knew him for their father even before he
shouted to them, and, as they approached, his voice was displeased:
"How now, children; what manners are these?"

"We have only been on the hillside, sweet father," said Cis, "Diccon
and I together.  We thought no harm."

"This is not Sheffield Chase, Cis, and thou art no more a child, but a
maiden who needs to be discreet, above all in these times.  Whom did I
see following you?"

"A poor woman, whom--Ha, where is she?" exclaimed Cis, suddenly
perceiving that the woman seemed to have vanished.

"A troublesome begging woman who beset us with her wares," said Diccon,
"and would give us no peace, praying that we would get them carried in
to the Queen and her ladies, whining about her children till she made
Cis soft-hearted.  Where can she have hidden herself?"

The man who was stationed as sentry at the gate said he had seen the
woman come over the brow of the hill with Master Diccon and Mistress
Cicely, but that as they ran forward to meet Captain Talbot she had
disappeared amid the rocks and brushwood.

"Poor woman, she was afraid of our father," said Cicely; "I would we
could see her again."

"So would not I," said Richard.  "It looks not well, and heed me well,
children, there must be no more of these pranks, nor of wandering out
of bounds, or babbling with strangers.  Go thou in to thy mother, Cis,
she hath been in much trouble for thee."

Mistress Susan was unusually severe with the girl on the indiscretion
of gadding in strange places with no better escort than Diccon, and of
entering into conversation with unknown persons.  Moreover, Cicely's
hair, her shoes, and camlet riding skirt were all so dank with dew that
she was with difficulty made presentable by the time the horses were
brought round.

The Queen, who had not seen the girl that morning, made her come and
ride near her, asking questions on the escapade, and giving one of her
bewitching pathetic smiles as she said how she envied the power of thus
dancing out on the greensward, and breathing the free and fresh morning
air.  "My Scottish blood loves the mountains, and bounds the more
freely in the fresh breeze," she said, gazing towards the Peak.  "I
love the scent of the dew.  Didst get into trouble, child?  Methought I
heard sounds of chiding?"

"It was no fault of mine," said Cis, inclined to complain when she
found sympathy, "the woman would speak to us."

"What woman?" asked the Queen.

"A poor woman with a basket of wares, who prayed hard to be allowed to
show them to your Grace or some of the ladies.  She said she had five
sorely hungered children, and that she heard your Grace was a
compassionate lady."

"Woe is me, compassion is full all that I am permitted to give," said
the Queen, sadly; "she brought trinkets to sell.  What were her wares,
saidst thou?"

"I had no time to see many," said Cis, "something pure and white like a
new-laid egg, I saw, and a necklet, clouded with beauteous purple."

"Ay, beads and bracelets, no doubt," said the Queen.

"Yes, beads and bracelets," returned Cicely, the soft chime of the
Queen's Scottish accent bringing back to her that the woman had twice
pressed on her beads and bracelets.

"She dwelt on them," said the Queen lightly.  "Ay, I know the chant of
the poor folk who ever hover about our outskirts in hopes to sell their
country gewgaws, beads and bracelets, collars and pins, little guessing
that she whom they seek is poorer than themselves.  Mayhap, our
Argus-eyed lord may yet let the poor dame within his fence, and we may
be able to gratify thy longing for those same purple and white beads
and bracelets."

Meantime the party were riding on, intending to dine at Buxton, which
meant to reach it by noonday.  The tall roof of the great hall erected
by the Earl over the baths was already coming in sight, and by and by
they would look into the valley.  The Wye, after coming down one of
those lovely deep ravines to be found in all mountainous countries,
here flowed through a more open space, part of which had been
artificially levelled, but which was covered with buildings, rising out
amongst the rocks and trees.

Most conspicuous among them was a large freshly-built erection in Tudor
architecture, with a wide portal arch, and five separate gables
starting from one central building, which bore a large clock-tower, and
was decorated at every corner with the Talbots' stout and sturdy form.
This was the great hall, built by the present Earl George, and
containing five baths, intended to serve separately for each sex,
gentle and simple, with one special bath reserved for the sole use of
the more distinguished visitors.  Besides this, at no great distance,
was the Earl's own mansion, "a very goodly house, four square, four
stories high," with stables, offices, and all the requisites of a
nobleman's establishment, and this was to be the lodging of the
Scottish Queen.

Farther off was another house, which had been built by permission of
the Earl, under the auspices of Dr. Jones, probably one of the first of
the long series of physicians who have made it their business to
enhance the fame of the watering-places where they have set up their
staff.  This was the great hostel or lodging-house for the patients of
condition who resorted to the healing springs, and nestled here and
there among the rocks were cottages which accommodated, after a
fashion, the poorer sort, who might drag themselves to the spot in the
hope of washing away their rheumatic pains and other infirmities. In a
distant and magnificent way, like some of the lesser German potentates,
the mighty Lord of Shrewsbury took toll from the visitors to his baths,
and this contributed to repair the ravages to his fortune caused by the
maintenance of his royal captive.

Arriving just at noontide, the Queen and her escort beheld a motley
crowd dispersed about the sward on the banks of the river, some playing
at ball, others resting on benches or walking up and down in groups,
exercise being recommended as part of the cure.  All thronged together
to watch the Earl and his captive ride in with their suite, the
household turning out to meet them, while foremost stood a dapper
little figure with a short black cloak, a stiff round ruff, and a
square barrett cap, with a gold-headed cane in one hand and a paper in
the other.

"Prepare thy patience, Cis," whispered Barbara Mowbray, "now shall we
not be allowed to alight from our palfreys till we have heard his full
welcome to my Lord, and all his plans for this place, how--it is to be
made a sanctuary for the sick during their abode there, for all causes
saving sacrilege, treason, murder, burglary, and highway robbery, with
a license to eat flesh on a Friday, as long as they are drinking the

It was as Mistress Mowbray said.  Dr. Jones's harangue on the progress
of Buxton and its prospects had always to be endured before any one was
allowed to dismount; but royalty and nobility were inured to listening
with a good grace, and Mary, though wearied and aching, sat patiently
in the hot sunshine, and was ready to declare that Buxton put her in
good humour.  In fact the grandees and their immediate attendants
endured with all the grace of good breeding; but the farther from the
scene of action, the less was the patience, and the more restless and
confused the movements of the retinue.

Diccon Talbot, hungry and eager, had let his equally restless pony
convey him, he scarce knew where, from his father's side, when he saw,
making her way among the horses, the very woman with the basket whom he
had encountered at Tideswell in the early morning.  How could she have
gone such a distance in the time? thought the boy, and he presently
caught the words addressed to one of the grooms of the Scottish Queen's
suite.  "Let me show my poor beads and bracelets." The Scotsman
instantly made way for her, and she advanced to a wizened thin old
Frenchman, Maitre Gorion, the Queen's surgeon, who jumped down from his
horse, and was soon bending over her basket exchanging whispers in the
lowest possible tones; but a surge among those in the rear drove Diccon
up so near that he was absolutely certain that they were speaking
French, as indeed he well knew that M. Gorion never could succeed in
making himself understood in English.

The boy, bred up in the perpetual caution and suspicion of Sheffield,
was eager to denounce one who he was sure was a conspirator; but he was
hemmed in among horses and men, so that he could not make his way out
or see what was passing, till suddenly there was a scattering to the
right and left, and a simultaneous shriek from the ladies in front.

When Diccon could see anything, his father was pressing forward to a
group round some one prostrate on the ground before the house, and
there were exclamations, "The poor young lady! The chirurgeon!  To the
front, the Queen is asking for you, sir," and Cicely's horse with loose
bridle passed before his eyes.

"Let me through! let me through!" cried the boy; "it is my sister."

He threw his bridle to a groom, and, squeezing between horses and under
elbows, succeeded in seeing Cis lying on the ground with her eyes shut
and her head in his mother's lap, and the French surgeon bending over
her.  She gave a cry when he touched her arm, and he said something in
his mixture of French and English, which Diccon could not hear.  The
Queen stood close by, a good deal agitated, anxiously asking questions,
and throwing out her hands in her French fashion.  Diccon, much
frightened, struggled on, but only reached the party just as his father
had gathered Cicely up in his arms to carry her upstairs.  Diccon
followed as closely as he could, but blindly in the crowd in the
strange house, until he found himself in a long gallery, shut out,
among various others of both sexes.  "Come, my masters and mistresses
all," said the voice of the seneschal, "you had best to your chambers,
there is naught for you to do here."

However, he allowed Diccon to remain leaning against the balustrade of
the stairs which led up outside the house, and in another minute his
father came out.  "Ha, Diccon, that is well," said he.  "No, thou canst
not enter.  They are about to undress poor little Cis.  Nay, it seemed
not to me that she was more hurt than thy mother could well have dealt
with, but the French surgeon would thrust in, and the Queen would have
it so.  We will walk here in the court till we hear what he saith of
her.  How befell it, dost thou ask?  Truly I can hardly tell, but I
believe one of the Frenchmen's horses got restless either with a fly or
with standing so long to hear yonder leech's discourse.  He must needs
cut the beast with his rod, and so managed to hit White Posy, who
starts aside, and Cis, sitting unheedfully on that new-fangled French
saddle, was thrown in an instant."

"I shall laugh at her well for letting herself be thrown by a Frenchman
with his switch," said Diccon.

"I hope the damage hath not been great," said his father, anxiously
looking up the stair.  "Where wast thou, Dick?  I had lost sight of

"I was seeking you, sir, for I had seen a strange sight," said Dick.
"That woman who spoke with us at Tideswell was here again; yea, and she
talked with the little old Frenchman that they call Gorion, the same
that is with Cis now."

"She did!  Folly, boy!  The fellow can hardly comprehend five words of
plain English together, long as he hath been here!  One of the Queen's
women is gone in even now to interpret for him."

"That do I wot, sir.  Therefore did I marvel, and sought to tell you."

"What like was the woman?" demanded Richard.

Diccon's description was lame, and his father bade him hasten out of
the court, and fetch the woman if he could find her displaying her
trinkets to the water-drinkers, instructing him not to alarm her by
peremptory commands, but to give her hopes of a purchaser for her
spars.  Proud of the commission entrusted to him, the boy sallied
forth, but though he wandered through all the groups on the sward, and
encountered two tumblers and one puppet show, besides a bear and
monkey, he utterly failed in finding the vendor of the beads and



When Cicely had been carried into a chamber by Master Talbot, and laid
half-conscious and moaning on the grand carved bed, Mrs. Talbot by word
and gesture expelled all superfluous spectators.  She would have
preferred examining alone into the injury sustained by the maiden,
which she did not think beyond her own management; but there was no
refusing the services of Maitre Gorion, or of Mrs. Kennedy, who indeed
treated her authoritatively, assuming the direction of the sick-room.
She found herself acting under their orders as she undid the boddice,
while Mrs. Kennedy ripped up the tight sleeve of the riding dress, and
laid bare the arm and shoulder, which had been severely bruised and
twisted, but neither broken nor dislocated, as Mrs. Kennedy informed
her, after a few rapid words from the Frenchman, unintelligible to the
English lady, who felt somewhat impatient of this invasion of her
privileges, and was ready to say she had never supposed any such thing.

The chirurgeon skipped to the door, and for a moment she hoped that she
was rid of him, but he had only gone to bring in a neat case with which
his groom was in waiting outside, whence he extracted a lotion and
sponge, speaking rapidly as he did so.

"Now, madam," said Jean Kennedy, "lift the lassie, there, turn back her
boddice, and we will bathe her shouther.  So!  By my halidome!"

"Ah!  Mort de ma vie!"

The two exclamations darted simultaneously from the lips of the
Scottish nurse and the French doctor.  Susan beheld what she had at the
moment forgotten, the curious mark branded on her nursling's shoulder,
which indeed she had not seen since Cicely had been of an age to have
the care of her own person, and which was out of the girl's own sight.
No more was said at the moment, for Cis was reviving fast, and was so
much bewildered and frightened that she required all the attention and
soothing that the two women could give, but when they removed the rest
of her clothing, so that she might be laid down comfortably to rest,
Mrs. Kennedy by another dexterous movement uncovered enough of the
other shoulder to obtain a glimpse of the monogram upon it.

Nothing was spoken.  Those two had not been so many years attendants on
a suspected and imprisoned queen without being prudent and cautious;
but when they quitted the apartment after administering a febrifuge,
Susan felt a pang of wonder, whether they were about to communicate
their discovery to their mistress.  For the next quarter of an hour,
the patient needed all her attention, and there was no possibility of
obeying the summons of a great clanging bell which announced dinner.
When, however, Cis had fallen asleep it became possible to think over
the situation.  She foresaw an inquiry, and would have given much for a
few words with her husband; but reflection showed her that the one
point essential to his safety was not to betray that he and she had any
previous knowledge of the rank of their nursling.  The existence of the
scroll might have to be acknowledged, but to show that Richard had
deciphered it would put him in danger on all hands.

She had just made up her mind on this point when there was a knock at
the door, and Mrs. Kennedy bore in a salver with a cup of wine, and
took from an attendant, who remained outside, a tray with some more
solid food, which she placed on the broad edge of the deep-set window,
and coming to the bedside, invited Mrs. Talbot to eat, while she
watched the girl.  Susan complied, though with little appetite, and
Mrs. Kennedy, after standing for a few minutes in contemplation, came
to the window.  She was a tall woman, her yellow hair softened by an
admixture of gray, her eyes keen and shrewd, yet capable of great
tenderness at times, her features certainly not youthful, but not a
whit more aged than they had been when Susan had first seen her
fourteen years ago.  It was a quiet mouth, and one that gave a sense of
trust both in its firmness, secrecy, and kindness.

"Madam," said she, in her soft Scotch voice, lowered considerably, but
not whispering, and with her keen eyes fixed on Susan--"Madam, what
garred ye gie your bit lassie yonder marks?  Ye need not fear, that
draught of Maister Gorion's will keep her sleeping fast for a good hour
or two longer, and it behoves me to ken how she cam by yonder brands."

"She had them when she came to us," said Susan.

"Ye'll no persuade me that they are birth marks," returned Mistress
Jean.  "Such a thing would be a miracle in a loyal Scottish Catholic's
wean, let alone an English heretic's."

"No," said Susan, who had in fact only made the answer to give herself
time to think whether it were possible to summon her husband. "They
never seemed to me birth marks."

"Woman," said Jean Kennedy, laying a strong, though soft hand, on her
wrist, "this is not gear for trifling.  Is the lass your ain bairn? Ha!
I always thought she had mair of the kindly Scot than of the Southron
about her.  Hech! so they made the puir wean captive!  Wha gave her
till you to keep?  Your lord, I trow."

"The Lord of heaven and earth," replied Susan.  "My husband took her,
the only living thing left on a wreck off the Spurn Head."

"Hech, sirs!" exclaimed Mrs. Kennedy, evidently much struck, but still
exercising great self-command.  "And when fell this out?"

"Two days after Low Sunday, in the year of grace 1568," returned Susan.

"My halidome!" again ejaculated Jean, in a low voice, crossing herself.
"And what became of honest Ailie--I mean," catching herself up, "what
befell those that went with her?"

"Not one lived," said Susan, gravely.  "The mate of my husband's ship
took the little one from the arms of her nurse, who seemed to have been
left alone with her by the crew, lashed to the wreck, and to have had
her life freshly beaten out by the winds and waves, for she was still
warm.  I was then lying at Hull, and they brought the babe to me, while
there was still time to save her life, with God's blessing."

"And the vessel?" asked Jean.

"My husband held it to be the Bride of Dunbar, plying between that port
and Harfleur."

"Ay! ay!  Blessed St. Bride!" muttered Jean Kennedy, with an
awe-stricken look; then, collecting herself, she added, "Were there no
tokens, save these, about the little one, by which she could be known?"

"There was a gold chain with a cross, and what you call a reliquary
about her little neck, and a scroll written in cipher among her
swaddling bands; but they are laid up at home, at Bridgefield."

It was a perplexing situation for this simple-hearted and truthful
woman, and, on the other hand, Jean Kennedy was no less devoted and
loyal in her own line, a good and conscientious woman, but shrewder,
and, by nature and breeding, far less scrupulous as to absolute truth.

The one idea that Susan, in her confusion, could keep hold of was that
any admission of knowledge as to who her Cis really was, would be a
betrayal of her husband's secret; and on the other hand she saw that
Mrs. Kennedy, though most keen to discover everything, and no doubt
convinced that the maiden was her Queen's child, was bent on not
disclosing that fact to the foster-mother.

She asked anxiously whether Mistress Cicely knew of her being only an
adopted child, and Susan replied that they had intended that she never
should learn that she was of alien birth; but that it had been revealed
by the old sailor who had brought her on board the Mastiff, though no
one had heard him save young Humfrey and the girl herself, and they had
been, so far as she knew, perfectly reserved on the subject.

Jean Kennedy then inquired how the name of Cicely had been given, and
whether the child had been so baptized by Protestant rites.

"Wot you who the maid may be, madam?" Susan took courage to ask; but
the Scotswoman would not be disconcerted, and replied,

"How suld I ken without a sight of the tokens?  Gin I had them, maybe I
might give a guess, but there was mony a leal Scot sairly bestead, wife
and wean and all, in her Majesty's cause that wearie spring."

Here Cis stirred in her sleep, and both women were at her side in a
moment, but she did not wake.

Jean Kennedy stood gazing at the girl with eagerness that she did not
attempt to conceal, studying each feature in detail; but Cis showed in
her sleep very little of her royal lineage, which betrayed itself far
more in her gait and bearing than in her features.  Susan could not
help demanding of the nurse whether she saw any resemblance that could
show the maiden's parentage.

The old lady gave a kind of Scotch guttural sound expressive of
disappointment, and said, "I'll no say but I've seen the like
beetle-broo.  But we'll waken the bairn with our clavers.  I'll away
the noo.  Maister Gorion will see her again ere night, but it were ill
to break her sleep, the puir lassie!"

Nevertheless, she could not resist bending over and kissing the
sleeper, so gently that there was no movement.  Then she left the room,
and Susan stood with clasped hands.

"My child! my child!  Oh, is it coming on thee?  Wilt thou be taken
from me!  Oh, and to what a fate!  And to what hands!  They will never
never love thee as we have done!  O God, protect her, and be her

And Susan knelt by the bed in such a paroxysm of grief that her
husband, coming in unshod that he might not disturb the girl,
apprehended that she had become seriously worse.

However, his entrance awoke her, and she found herself much better, and
was inclined to talk, so he sat down on a chest by the bed, and related
what Diccon had told him of the reappearance of the woman with the
basket of spar trinkets.

"Beads and bracelets," said Cicely.

"Ay?" said he.  "What knowest thou of them?"

"Only that she spake the words so often; and the Queen, just ere that
doctor began his speech, asked of me whether she did not sell beads and

"'Tis a password, no doubt, and we must be on our guard," said Richard,
while his wife demanded with whom Diccon had seen her speaking.

"With Gorion," returned he.  "That was what made the lad suspect
something, knowing that the chirurgeon can barely speak three sentences
in any tongue but his own, and those are in their barbarous Scotch.  I
took the boy with me and inquired here, there, and everywhere this
afternoon, but could find no one who had ever seen or heard of any one
like her."

"Tell me, Cis," exclaimed Susan, with a sudden conviction, "was she
like in any fashion to Tibbott the huckster-woman who brought young
Babington into trouble three years agone?"

"Women's heads all run on one notion," said Richard.  "Can there be no
secret agents save poor Cuthbert, whom I believe to be beyond seas?"

"Nay, but hear what saith the child?" asked Susan.

"This woman was not nearly so old as Tibbott," said Cis, "nor did she
walk with a staff, nor had she those grizzled black brows that were
wont to frighten me."

"But was she tall?" asked Susan.

"Oh yes, mother.  She was very tall--she came after Diccon and me with
long strides--yet it could never have been Tibbott!"

Susan had reasons for thinking otherwise, but she could not pursue the
subject at that time, as she had to go down to supper with her husband,
and privacy was impossible.  Even at night, nobody enjoyed extensive
quarters, and but for Cicely's accident she would have slept with Dyot,
the tirewoman, who had arrived with the baggage, which included a
pallet bed for them.  However, the young lady had been carried to a
chamber intended for one of Queen Mary's suite; and there it was
decreed that she should remain for the night, the mother sleeping with
her, while the father and son betook themselves to the room previously
allotted to the family.  Only on the excuse of going to take out her
husband's gear from the mails was Susan able to secure a few words with
him, and then by ordering out Diccon, Dyot, and the serving-man.  Then
she could succeed in saying, "Mine husband, all will soon out--Mistress
Kennedy and Master Gorion have seen the brands on the child's
shoulders.  It is my belief that she of the 'beads and bracelets' bade
the chirurgeon look for them. Else, why should he have thrust himself
in for a hurt that women-folk had far better have tended?  Now, that
kinsman of yours knew that poor Cis was none of ours, and gave her a
hint of it long ago--that is, if Tibbott were he, and not something

Richard shook his head.  "Give a woman a hint of a seminary priest in
disguise, and she would take a new-born baby for one.  I tell thee I
heard that Cuthbert was safe in Paris.  But, be that as it may, I trust
thou hast been discreet."

"So I strove to be," said Susan.  "Mrs. Kennedy questioned me, and I
told her."

"What?" sharply demanded her husband.

"Nought but truth," she answered, "save that I showed no knowledge who
the maid really is, nor let her guess that you had read the scroll."

"That is well.  Frank Talbot was scarce within his duty when he gave me
the key, and it were as much as my head were worth to be known to have
been aware of the matter."  To this Susan could only assent, as they
were interrupted by the serving-man coming to ask directions about the
bestowal of the goods.

She was relieved by this short colloquy, but it was a sad and wakeful
night for her as Cicely slept by her side.  Her love was too truly
motherly not to be deeply troubled at the claim of one of differing
religion and nation, and who had so uncertain and perilous a lot in
which to place her child.  There was also the sense that all her
dearest, including her eldest son, were involved in the web of intrigue
with persons far mightier and more unscrupulous than themselves; and
that, however they might strive to preserve their integrity, it would
be very hard to avoid suspicion and danger.

In this temporary abode, the household of the Queen and of the Earl ate
together, in the great hall, and thus while breaking their fast in the
morning Jean Kennedy found opportunity to examine Richard Talbot on all
the circumstances of the wreck of the Bride of Dunbar, and the finding
of the babe.  She was much more on her guard than the day before, and
said that she had a shrewd suspicion as to who the babe's parents might
be, but that she could not be certain without seeing the reliquary and
the scroll.  Richard replied that they were at home, but made no offer
of sending for them.  "Nor will I do so," said he to his wife, "unless
I am dealt plainly with, and the lady herself asks for them.  Then
should I have no right to detain them."

M. Gorion would not allow his patient to leave her room that day, and
she had to remain there while Susan was in attendance on the Queen, who
did not appear to her yet to have heard of the discovery, and who was
entering with zest into the routine of the place, where Dr. Jones might
be regarded as the supreme legislator.

Each division of the great bath hall was fitted with drying and
dressing room, arranged commodiously according to the degree of those
who were to use them.  Royalty, of course, enjoyed a monopoly, and
after the hot bath, which the Queen took immediately after rising, she
breakfasted in her own apartments, and then came forth, according to
the regimen of the place, by playing at Trowle Madame.  A board with
arches cut in, just big enough to permit the entrance of the balls used
in playing at bowls was placed on the turf at a convenient distance
from the player.  Each arch was numbered, from one to thirteen, but the
numbers were irregularly arranged, and the game consisted in rolling
bowls into the holes in succession, each player taking a single turn,
and the winner reaching the highest number first,--being, in fact, a
sort of lawn bagatelle.  Dr. Jones recommended it as good to stretch
the rheumatic joints of his patients, and Queen Mary, an adept at all
out-of-door games, delighted in it, though she had refused an offer to
have the lawn arranged for it at Sheffield, saying that it would only
spoil a Buxton delight.  She was still too stiff to play herself, but
found infinite amusement in teaching the new-comers the game, and poor
Susan, with her thoughts far away, was scarcely so apt a pupil as
befitted a royal mistress, especially as she missed Mrs. Kennedy.

When she came back, she found that the dame had been sitting with the
patient, and had made herself very agreeable to the girl by drawing out
from her all she knew of her own story from beginning to end, having
first shown that she knew of the wreck of the Bride of Dunbar.

"And, mother," said Cis, "she says she is nearly certain that she knows
who my true parents were, and that she could be certain if she saw the
swaddling clothes and tokens you had with me.  Have you, mother?  I
never knew of them."

"Yes, child, I have.  We did not wish to trouble and perturb your mind,
little one, while you were content to be our daughter."

"Ah, mother, I would fain be yours and father's still.  They must not
take me from you.  But suppose I was some great and noble lord's
daughter, and had a great inheritance and lordship to give Humfrey!"

"Alas, child!  Scottish inheritances are wont to bring more strife than

Nevertheless, Cis went on supposing and building castles that were pain
and grief to her foreboding auditor.  That evening, however, Richard
called his wife.  It was late, but the northern sunset was only just
over, and Susan could wander out with him on the greensward in front of
the Earl's house.

"So this is the tale we are to be put off with," he said, "from the
Queen herself, ay, herself, and told with such an air of truth that it
would almost make me discredit the scroll.  She told me with one of her
sweetest smiles how a favourite kinswoman of hers wedded in secret with
a faithful follower of hers, of the clan Hepburn.  Oh, I assure you it
might have been a ballad sung by a harper for its sadness.  Well, this
fellow ventured too far in her service, and had to flee to France to
become an archer of the guard, while the wife remained and died at
Lochleven Castle, having given birth to our Cis, whom the Queen in due
time despatched to her father, he being minded to have her bred up in a
French nunnery, sending her to Dunbar to be there embarked in the Bride
of Dunbar."

"And the father?"

"Oh, forsooth, the father!  It cost her as little to dispose of him as
of the mother.  He was killed in some brawl with the Huguenots; so that
the poor child is altogether an orphan, beholden to our care, for which
she thanked me with tears in her eyes, that were more true than mayhap
the poor woman could help."

"Poor lady," said Susan.  "Yet can it not be sooth indeed?"

"Nay, dame, that may not be.  The cipher is not one that would be used
in simply sending a letter to the father."

"Might not the occasion have been used for corresponding in secret with
French friends?"

"I tell thee, wife, if I read one word of that letter, I read that the
child was her own, and confided to the Abbess of Soissons!  I will read
it to thee once more ere I yield it up, that is if I ever do.
Wherefore cannot the woman speak truth to me?  I would be true and
faithful were I trusted, but to be thus put off with lies makes a man
ready at once to ride off with the whole to the Queen in council."

"Think, but think, dear sir," pleaded Susan, "how the poor lady is
pressed, and how much she has to fear on all sides."

"Ay, because lies have been meat and drink to her, till she cannot
speak a soothfast word nor know an honest man when she sees him."

"What would she have?"

"That Cis should remain with us as before, and still pass for our
daughter, till such time as these negotiations are over, and she
recover her kingdom.  That is--so far as I see--like not to be till
latter Lammas--but meantime what sayest thou, Susan?  Ah!  I knew,
anything to keep the child with thee!  Well, be it so--though if I had
known the web we were to be wound into, I'd have sailed for the Indies
with Humfrey long ago!"



Cicely was well enough the next day to leave her room and come out on
the summer's evening to enjoy the novel spectacle of Trowle Madame, in
which she burned to participate, so soon as her shoulder should be
well.  It was with a foreboding heart that her adopted mother fell with
her into the rear of the suite who were attending Queen Mary, as she
went downstairs to walk on the lawn, and sit under a canopy whence she
could watch either that game, or the shooting at the butts which was
being carried on a little farther off.

"So, our bonnie maiden," said Mary, brightening as she caught sight of
the young girl, "thou art come forth once more to rejoice mine eyes, a
sight for sair een, as they say in Scotland," and she kissed the fresh
cheeks with a tenderness that gave Susan a strange pang. Then she asked
kindly after the hurt, and bade Cis sit at her feet, while she watched
a match in archery between some of the younger attendants, now and then
laying a caressing hand upon the slender figure.

"Little one," she said, "I would fain have thee to share my pillow. I
have had no young bed-fellow since Bess Pierrepoint left us.  Wilt thou
stoop to come and cheer the poor old caged bird?"

"Oh, madam, how gladly will I do so if I may!" cried Cicely, delighted.

"We will take good care of her, Mistress Talbot," said Mary, "and
deliver her up to you whole and sain in the morning," and there was a
quivering playfulness in her voice.

"Your Grace is the mistress," answered Susan, with a sadness not quite

"Ah! you mock me, madam.  Would that I were!" returned the Queen. "It
is my Lord's consent that we must ask.  How say you, my Lord, may I
have this maiden for my warder at night?"

Lord Shrewsbury was far from seeing any objection, and the promise was
given that Cis should repair to the Queen's chamber for at least that
night.  She was full of excitement at the prospect.

"Why look you so sadly at me, sweet mother?" she cried, as Susan made
ready her hair, and assisted her in all the arrangements for which her
shoulder was still too stiff; "you do not fear that they will hurt my

"No, truly, my child.  They have tender and skilful hands."

"May be they will tell me the story of my parents," said Cis; "but you
need never doubt me, mother.  Though I were to prove to be ever so
great a lady, no one could ever be mine own mother like you!"

"Scarcely in love, my child," said Susan, as she wrapped the little
figure in a loose gown, and gave her such a kiss as parents seldom
permitted themselves, in the fear of "cockering" their children, which
was considered to be a most reprehensible practice.  Nor could she
refrain from closely pressing Cicely's hand as they passed through the
corridor to the Queen's apartments, gave the word to the two yeomen who
were on guard for the night at the head of the stairs, and tapped at
the outmost door of the royal suite of rooms.  It was opened by a
French valet; but Mrs. Kennedy instantly advanced, took the maiden by
the hand, and with a significant smile said: "Gramercy, madam, we will
take unco gude tent of the lassie.  A fair gude nicht to ye."  And Mrs.
Talbot felt, as she put the little hand into that of the nurse, and saw
the door shut on them, as if she had virtually given up her daughter,
and, oh! was it for her good?

Cis was led into the bedchamber, bright with wax tapers, though the sky
was not yet dark.  She heard a sound as of closing and locking double
doors, while some one drew back a crimson, gold-edged velvet curtain,
which she had seen several times, and which it was whispered concealed
the shrine where Queen Mary performed her devotions.  She had just
risen from before it, at the sound of Cis's entrance, and two of her
ladies, Mary Seaton and Marie de Courcelles, seemed to have been
kneeling with her.  She was made ready for bed, with a dark-blue velvet
gown corded round her, and her hair, now very gray, braided beneath a
little round cap, but a square of soft cambric drapery had been thrown
over her head, so as to form a perfectly graceful veil, and shelter the
features that were aging.  Indeed, when Queen Mary wore the exquisite
smile that now lit up her face as she held out her arms, no one ever
paused to think what those lineaments really were.  She held out her
arms as Cis advanced bashfully, and said: "Welcome, my sweet
bed-fellow, my little Scot--one more loyal subject come to me in my

Cis's impulse was to put a knee to the ground and kiss the hands that
received her.  "Thou art our patient," continued Mary.  "I will see
thee in bed ere I settle myself there."  The bed was a tall, large,
carved erection, with sweeping green and silver curtains, and a huge
bank of lace-bordered pillows.  A flight of low steps facilitated the
ascent; and Cis, passive in this new scene, was made to throw off her
dressing-gown and climb up.

"And now," said the Queen, "let me see the poor little shoulder that
hath suffered so much."

"My arm is still bound, madam," said Cis.  But she was not listened to;
and Mrs. Kennedy, much to her discomfiture, turned back her
under-garment.  The marks were, in fact, so placed as to be entirely
out of her own view, and Mrs. Susan had kept them from the knowledge or
remark of any one.  They were also high enough up to be quite clear
from the bandages, and thus she was amazed to hear the exclamation,
"There! sooth enough."

"Monsieur Gorion could swear to them instantly."

"What is it?  Oh, what is it, madam?" cried Cis, affrighted; "is there
anything on my back?  No plague spot, I hope;" and her eyes grew round
with terror.

The Queen laughed.  "No plague spot, sweet one, save, perhaps, in the
eyes of you Protestants, but to me they are a gladsome sight--a token I
never hoped to see."

And the bewildered girl felt a pair of soft lips kiss each mark in
turn, and then the covering was quickly and caressingly restored, and
Mary added, "Lie down, my child, and now to bed, to bed, my maids.
Patent the lights."  Then, making the sign of the cross, as Cis had
seen poor Antony Babington do, the Queen, just as all the lights save
one were extinguished, was divested of her wrapper and veil, and took
her place beside Cis on the pillows.  The two Maries left the chamber,
and Jean Kennedy disposed herself on a pallet at the foot of the bed.

"And so," said the Queen, in a low voice, tender, but with a sort of
banter, "she thought she had the plague spot on her little white
shoulders.  Didst thou really not know what marks thou bearest, little

"No, madam," said Cis.  "Is it what I have felt with my fingers?"

"Listen, child," said Mary.  "Art thou at thine ease; thy poor shoulder
resting well?  There, then, give me thine hand, and I will tell thee a
tale.  There was a lonely castle in a lake, grim, cold, and northerly;
and thither there was brought by angry men a captive woman.  They had
dealt with her strangely and subtilly; they had laid on her the guilt
of the crimes themselves had wrought; and when she clung to the one man
whom at least she thought honest, they had forced and driven her into
wedding him, only that all the world might cry out upon her, forsake
her, and deliver her up into those cruel hands."

There was something irresistibly pathetic in Mary's voice, and the
maiden lay gazing at her with swimming eyes.

"Thou dost pity that poor lady, sweet one?  There was little pity for
her then!  She had looked her last on her lad--bairn; ay, and they had
said she had striven to poison him, and they were breeding him up to
loathe the very name of his mother; yea, and to hate and persecute the
Church of his father and his mother both.  And so it was, that the lady
vowed that if another babe was granted to her, sprung of that last
strange miserable wedlock, these foes of hers should have no part in
it, nor knowledge of its very existence, but that it should be bred up
beyond their ken--safe out of their reach.  Ah! child; good Nurse
Kennedy can best tell thee how the jealous eyes and ears were
disconcerted, and in secrecy and sorrow that birth took place."

Cis's heart was beating too fast for speech, but there was a tight
close pressure of the hand that Mary had placed within hers.

"The poor mother," went on the Queen in a low trembling voice, "durst
have scarce one hour's joy of her first and only daughter, ere the
trusty Gorion took the little one from her, to be nursed in a hut on
the other side of the lake.  There," continued Mary, forgetting the
third person, "I hoped to have joined her, so soon as I was afoot
again.  The faithful lavender lent me her garments, and I was already
in the boat, but the men-at-arms were rude and would have pulled down
my muffler; I raised my hand to protect myself, and it was all too
white.  They had not let me stain it, because the dye would not befit a
washerwoman.  So there was I dragged back to ward again, and all our
plans overthrown.  And it seemed safer and meeter to put my little one
out of reach of all my foes, even if it were far away from her mother's
aching heart.  Not one more embrace could I be granted, but my good
chaplain Ross--whom the saints rest--baptized her in secret, and Gorion
had set two marks on the soft flesh, which he said could never be
blotted out in after years, and then her father's clanswoman, Alison
Hepburn, undertook to carry her to France, with a letter of mine bound
up in her swathing clothes, committing her to the charge of my good
aunt, the Abbess of Soissons, in utter secrecy, until better days
should come.  Alas! I thought them not so far off. I deemed that were I
once beyond the clutches of Morton, Ruthven, and the rest, the loyal
would rally once more round my standard, and my crown would be mine
own, mine enemies and those of my Church beneath my feet.  Little did I
guess that my escape would only be to see them slain and routed, and
that when I threw myself on the hospitality of my cousin, her tender
mercies would prove such as I have found them. 'Libera me, Dominie,
libera me.'"

Cis began dimly to understand, but she was still too much awed to make
any demonstration, save a convulsive pressure of the Queen's hand, and
the murmuring of the Latin prayer distressed her.

Presently Mary resumed.  "Long, long did I hope my little one was
safely sheltered from all my troubles in the dear old cloisters of
Soissons, and that it was caution in my good aunt the abbess that
prevented my hearing of her; but through my faithful servants, my Lord
Flemyng, who had been charged to speed her from Scotland, at length let
me know that the ship in which she sailed, the Bride of Dunbar, had
been never heard of more, and was thought to have been cast away in a
tempest that raged two days after she quitted Dunbar. And I--I shed
some tears, but I could well believe that the innocent babe had been
safely welcomed among the saints, and I could not grieve that she was,
as I thought, spared from the doom that rests upon the race of Stewart.
Till one week back, I gave thanks for that child of sorrow as cradled
in Paradise."

Then followed a pause, and then Cis said in a low trembling voice, "And
it was from the wreck of the Bride of Dunbar that I was taken?"

"Thou hast said it, child!  My bairn, my bonnie bairn!" and the girl
was absorbed in a passionate embrace and strained convulsively to a
bosom which heaved with the sobs of tempestuous emotion, and the
caresses were redoubled upon her again and again with increasing
fervour that almost frightened her.

"Speak to me!  Speak to me!  Let me hear my child's voice."

"Oh, madam--"

"Call me mother!  Never have I heard that sound from my child's lips. I
have borne two children, two living children, only to be stripped of
both.  Speak, child--let me hear thee."

Cis contrived to say "Mother, my mother," but scarcely with effusion.
It was all so strange, and she could not help feeling as if Susan were
the mother she knew and was at ease with.  All this was much too like a
dream, from which she longed to awake.  And there was Mrs. Kennedy too,
rising up and crying quite indignantly--"Mother indeed! Is that all
thou hast to say, as though it were a task under the rod, when thou art
owned for her own bairn by the fairest and most ill-used queen in
Christendom?  Out on thee!  Have the Southron loons chilled thine heart
and made thee no leal to thine ain mother that hath hungered for thee?"

The angry tones, and her sense of her own shortcomings, could only make
Cis burst into tears.

"Hush, hush, nurse! thou shalt not chide my new-found bairn.  She will
learn to ken us better in time if they will leave her with us," said
Mary.  "There, there; greet not so sair, mine ain.  I ask thee not to
share my sorrows and my woes.  That Heaven forefend.  I ask thee but to
come from time to time and cheer my nights, and lie on my weary bosom
to still its ache and yearning, and let me feel that I have indeed a

"Oh, mother, mother!" Cis cried again in a stifled voice, as one who
could not utter her feelings, but not in the cold dry tone that had
called forth Mrs. Kennedy's wrath.  "Pardon me, I know not--I cannot
say what I would.  But oh! I would do anything for--for your Grace."

"All that I would ask of thee is to hold thy peace and keep our
counsel.  Be Cicely Talbot by day as ever.  Only at night be mine--my
child, my Bride, for so wast thou named after our Scottish patroness.
It was a relic of her sandals that was hung about thy neck, and her
ship in which thou didst sail; and lo, she heard and guarded thee, and
not merely saved thee from death, but provided thee a happy joyous home
and well-nurtured childhood.  We must render her our thanks, my child.
Beata Brigitta, ora pro nobis."

"It was the good God Almighty who saved me, madam," said Cis bluntly.

"Alack!  I forgot that yonder good lady could not fail to rear thee in
the outer darkness of her heresy; but thou wilt come back to us, my ain
wee thing!  Heaven forbid that I should deny Whose Hand it was that
saved thee, but it was at the blessed Bride's intercession.  No doubt
she reserved for me, who had turned to her in my distress, this
precious consolation!  But I will not vex thy little heart with debate
this first night.  To be mother and child is enough for us. What art
thou pondering?"

"Only, madam, who was it that told your Grace that I was a stranger?"

"The marks, bairnie, the marks," said Mary.  "They told their own tale
to good Nurse Jeanie; ay, and to Gorion, whom we blamed for his cruelty
in branding my poor little lammie."

"Ah! but," said Cicely, "did not yonder woman with the beads and
bracelets bid him look?"

If it had been lighter, Cicely would have seen that the Queen was not
pleased at the inquiry, but she only heard the answer from Jean's bed,
"Hout no, I wad she knew nought of thae brands.  How should she?"

"Nay," said Cicely, "she--no, it was Tibbott the huckster-woman told me
long ago that I was not what I seemed, and that I came from the
north--I cannot understand!  Were they the same?"

"The bairn kens too much," said Jean.  "Dinna ye deave her Grace with
your speirings, my lammie.  Ye'll have to learn to keep a quiet sough,
and to see mickle ye canna understand here."

"Silence her not, good nurse," said the Queen, "it imports us to know
this matter.  What saidst thou of Tibbott?"

"She was the woman who got Antony Babington into trouble," explained
Cicely.  "I deemed her a witch, for she would hint strange things
concerning me, but my father always believed she was a kinsman of his,
who was concerned in the Rising of the North, and who, he said, had
seen me brought in to Hull from the wreck."

"Ay?" said the Queen, as a sign to her to continue.

"And meseemed," added Cicely timidly, "that the strange woman at
Tideswell who talked of beads and bracelets minded me of Tibbott,
though she was younger, and had not her grizzled brows; but father says
that cannot be, for Master Cuthbert Langston is beyond seas at Paris."

"Soh! that is well," returned Mary, in a tone of relief.  "See, child.
That Langston of whom you speak was a true friend of mine. He has done
much for me under many disguises, and at the time of thy birth he lived
as a merchant at Hull, trading with Scotland.  Thus it may have become
known to him that the babe he had seen rescued from the wreck was one
who had been embarked at Dunbar.  But no more doth he know.  The secret
of thy birth, my poor bairn, was entrusted to none save a few of those
about me, and all of those who are still living thou hast already seen.
Lord Flemyng, who put thee on board, believed thee the child of James
Hepburn of Lillieburn, the archer, and of my poor Mary Stewart, a
kinswoman of mine ain; and it was in that belief doubtless that he, or
Tibbott, as thou call'st him, would have spoken with thee."

"But the woman at Tideswell," said Cis, who was getting
bewildered--"Diccon said that she spake to Master Gorion."

"That did she, and pointed thee out to him.  It is true.  She is
another faithful friend of mine, and no doubt she had the secret from
him.  But no more questions, child.  Enough that we sleep in each
other's arms."

It was a strange night.  Cis was more conscious of wonder, excitement,
and a certain exultation, than of actual affection.  She had not been
bred up so as to hunger and crave for love.  Indeed she had been
treated with more tenderness and indulgence than was usual with
people's own daughters, and her adopted parents had absorbed her
undoubting love and respect.

Queen Mary's fervent caresses were at least as embarrassing as they
were gratifying, because she did not know what response to make, and
the novelty and wonder of the situation were absolutely distressing.

They would have been more so but for the Queen's tact.  She soon saw
that she was overwhelming the girl, and that time must be given for her
to become accustomed to the idea.  So, saying tenderly something about
rest, she lay quietly, leaving Cis, as she supposed, to sleep. This,
however, was impossible to the girl, except in snatches which made her
have to prove to herself again and again that it was not all a dream.
The last of these wakenings was by daylight, as full as the heavy
curtains would admit, and she looked up into a face that was watching
her with such tender wistfulness that it drew from her perforce the
word "Mother."

"Ah! that is the tone with the true ring in it.  I thank thee and I
bless thee, my bairn," said Mary, making over her the sign of the
cross, at which the maiden winced as at an incantation.  Then she
added, "My little maid, we must be up and stirring.  Mind, no word of
all this.  Thou art Cicely Talbot by day, as ever, and only my child,
my Bride, mine ain wee thing, my princess by night.  Canst keep

"Surely, madam," said Cis, "I have known for five years that I was a
foundling on the wreck, and I never uttered a word."

Mary smiled.  "This is either a very simple child or a very canny one,"
she said to Jean Kennedy.  "Either she sees no boast in being of royal
blood, or she deems that to have the mother she has found is worse than
the being the nameless foundling."

"Oh! madam, mother, not so!  I meant but that I had held my tongue when
I had something to tell!"

"Let thy secrecy stand thee in good stead, child," said the Queen.
"Remember that did the bruit once get abroad, thou wouldest assuredly
be torn from me, to be mewed up where the English Queen could hinder
thee from ever wedding living man.  Ay, and it might bring the head of
thy foster-father to the block, if he were thought to have concealed
the matter.  I fear me thou art too young for such a weighty secret."

"I am seventeen years old, madam," returned Cis, with dignity; "I have
kept the other secret since I was twelve."

"Then thou wilt, I trust, have the wisdom not to take the princess on
thee, nor to give any suspicion that we are more to one another than
the caged bird and the bright linnet that comes to sing on the bars of
her cage.  Only, child, thou must get from Master Talbot these tokens
that I hear of.  Hast seen them?"

"Never, madam; indeed I knew not of them."

"I need them not to know thee for mine own, but it is not well that
they should be in stranger hands.  Thou canst say--But hush, we must be
mum for the present."

For it became necessary to admit the Queen's morning draught of spiced
milk, borne in by one of her suite who had to remain uninitiated; and
from that moment no more confidences could be exchanged, until the time
that Cis had to leave the Queen's chamber to join the rest of the
household in the daily prayers offered in the chapel.  Her dress and
hair had, according to promise, been carefully attended to, but she was
only finished and completed just in time to join her adopted parents on
the way down the stairs.  She knelt in the hall for their blessing--an
action as regular and as mechanical as the morning kiss and greeting
now are between parent and child; but there was something in her face
that made Susan say to herself, "She knows all."

They could not speak to one another till not only matins but breakfast
were ended, and then--after the somewhat solid meal--the ladies had to
put on their out-of-door gear to attend Queen Mary in her daily
exercise.  The dress was not much, high summer as it was, only a loose
veil over the stiff cap, and a fan in the gloved hand to act as
parasol.  However the retirement gave Cicely an interval in which to
say, "O mother, she has told me," and as Susan sat holding out her
arms, the adopted child threw herself on her knees, hiding her face on
that bosom where she had found comfort all her life, and where, her
emotion at last finding full outlet, she sobbed without knowing why for
some moments, till she started nervously at the entrance of Richard,
saying, "The Queen is asking for you both.  But how now?  Is all told?"

"Ay," whispered his wife.

"So!  And why these tears?  Tell me, my maid, was not she good to thee?
Doth she seek to take thee into her own keeping?"

"Oh no, sir, no," said Cis, still kneeling against the motherly knee
and struggling with her sobs.  "No one is to guess.  I am to be Cicely
Talbot all the same, till better days come to her."

"The safer and the happier for thee, child.  Here are two honest hearts
that will not cast thee off, even if, as I suspect, yonder lady would
fain be quit of thee."

"Oh no!" burst from Cicely, then, shocked at having committed the
offence of interrupting him, she added, "Dear sir, I crave your pardon,
but, indeed, she is all fondness and love."

"Then what means this passion?" he asked, looking from one to the other.

"It means only that the child's senses and spirits are overcome," said
Susan, "and that she scarce knows how to take this discovery. Is it not
so, sweetheart?"

"Oh, sweet mother, yes in sooth.  You will ever be mother to me indeed!"

"Well said, little maid!" said Richard.  "Thou mightest search the
world over and never hap upon such another."

"But she oweth duty to the true mother," said Susan, with her hand on
the girl's neck.

"We wot well of that," answered her husband, "and I trow the first is
to be secret."

"Yea, sir," said Cis, recovering herself, "none save the very few who
tended her, the Queen at Lochleven, know who I verily am.  Such as were
aware of the babe being put on board ship at Dunbar, thought me the
daughter of a Scottish archer, a Hepburn, and she, the Queen my mother,
would, have me pass as such to those who needs must know I am not

"Trust her for making a double web when a single one would do,"
muttered Richard, but so that the girl could not hear.

"There is no need for any to know at present," said Susan hastily,
moved perhaps by the same dislike to deception; "but ah, there's that
fortune-telling woman."

Cis, proud of her secret information, here explained that Tibbott was
indeed Cuthbert Langston, but not the person whose password was "beads
and bracelets," and that both alike could know no more than the story
of the Scottish archer and his young wife, but they were here
interrupted by the appearance of Diccon, who had been sent by my Lord
himself to hasten them at the instance of the Queen.  Master Richard
sent the boy on with his mother, saying he would wait and bring Cis, as
she had still to compose her hair and coif, which had become somewhat

"My maiden," he said, gravely, "I have somewhat to say unto thee. Thou
art in a stranger case than any woman of thy years between the four
seas; nay, it may be in Christendom.  It is woeful hard for thee not to
be a traitor through mere lapse of tongue to thine own mother, or else
to thy Queen.  So I tell thee this once for all.  See as little, hear
as little, and, above all, say as little as thou canst."

"Not to mother?" asked Cis.

"No, not to her, above all not to me, and, my girl, pray God daily to
keep thee true and loyal, and guard thee and the rest of us from
snares.  Now have with thee.  We may tarry no longer!"

All went as usual for the rest of the day, so that the last night was
like a dream, until it became plain that Cicely was again to share the
royal apartment.

"Ah, I have thirsted for this hour!" said Mary, holding out her arms
and drawing her daughter to her bosom.  "Thou art a canny lassie, mine
ain wee thing.  None could have guessed from thy bearing that there was
aught betwixt us."

"In sooth, madam," said the girl, "it seems that I am two maidens in
one--Cis Talbot by day, and Bride of Scotland by night."

"That is well!  Be all Cis Talbot by day.  When there is need to
dissemble, believe in thine own feigning.  'Tis for want of that art
that these clumsy Southrons make themselves but a laughing-stock
whenever they have a secret."

Cis did not understand the maxim, and submitted in silence to some
caresses before she said, "My father will give your Grace the tokens
when we return."

"Thy father, child?"

"I crave your pardon, madam, it comes too trippingly to my tongue thus
to term Master Talbot."

"So much the better.  Thy tongue must not lose the trick.  I did but
feel a moment's fear lest thou hadst not been guarded enough with
yonder sailor man, and had let him infer over much."

"O, surely, madam, you never meant me to withhold the truth from father
and mother," cried Cis, in astonishment and dismay.

"Tush! silly maid!" said the Queen, really angered.  "Father and
mother, forsooth!  Now shall we have a fresh coil!  I should have known
better than to have trusted thy word."

"Never would I have given my word to deceive them," cried Cis, hotly.

"Lassie!" exclaimed Jean Kennedy, "ye forget to whom ye speak."

"Nay," said Mary, recovering herself, or rather seeing how best to
punish, "'tis the poor bairn who will be the sufferer.  Our state
cannot be worse than it is already, save that I shall lose her
presence, but it pities me to think of her."

"The secret is safe with them," repeated Cis. "O madam, none are to be
trusted like them."

"Tell me not," said the Queen.  "The sailor's blundering loyalty will
not suffer him to hold his tongue.  I would lay my two lost crowns that
he is down on his honest knees before my Lord craving pardon for having
unwittingly fostered one of the viper brood.  Then, via! off goes a
post--boots and spurs are no doubt already on--and by and by comes
Knollys, or Garey, or Walsingham, to bear off the perilous maiden to
walk in Queen Bess's train, and have her ears boxed when her Majesty is
out of humour, or when she gets weary of dressing St. Katherine's hair,
and weds the man of her choice, she begins to taste of prison walls,
and is a captive for the rest of her days."

Cis was reduced to tears, and assurances that if the Queen would only
broach the subject to Master Richard, she would perceive that he
regarded as sacred, secrets that were not his own; and to show that he
meant no betrayal, she repeated his advice as to seeing, hearing, and
saying as little as possible.

"Wholesome counsel!" said Mary.  "Cheer thee, lassie mine, I will
credit whatever thou wilt of this foster-father of thine until I see it
disproved; and for the good lady his wife, she hath more inward, if
less outward, grace than any dame of the mastiff brood which guards our
prison court!  I should have warned thee that they were not excepted
from those who may deem thee my poor Mary's child."

Cicely did not bethink herself that, in point of fact, she had not
communicated her royal birth to her adopted parents, but that it had
been assumed between them, as, indeed, they had not mentioned their
previous knowledge.   Mary presently proceeded--"After all, we may not
have to lay too heavy a burden on their discretion.  Better days are
coming.  One day shall our faithful lieges open the way to freedom and
royalty, and thou shalt have whatever boon thou wouldst ask, even were
it pardon for my Lady Shrewsbury."

"There is one question I would fain ask, Madam mother: Doth my real
father yet live?  The Earl of--"

Jean Kennedy made a sound of indignant warning and consternation,
cutting her short in dismay; but the Queen gripped her hand tightly for
some moments, and then said: "'Tis not a thing to speir of me, child,
of me, the most woefully deceived and forlorn of ladies. Never have I
seen nor heard from him since the parting at Carbery Hill, when he left
me to bear the brunt!  Folk say that he took ship for the north.
Believe him dead, child.  So were it best for us both; but never name
him to me more."

Jean Kennedy knew, though the girl did not, what these words conveyed.
If Bothwell no longer lived, there would be no need to declare the
marriage null and void, and thus sacrifice his daughter's position; but
supposing him to be in existence, Mary had already shown herself
resolved to cancel the very irregular bonds which had united them,--a
most easy matter for a member of her Church, since they had been
married by a Reformed minister, and Bothwell had a living wife at the
time.  Of all this Cicely was absolutely ignorant, and was soon eagerly
listening as the Queen spoke of her hopes of speedy deliverance.  "My
son, my Jamie, is working for me!" she said. "Nay, dost not ken what is
in view for me?"

"No, madam, my good father, Master Richard, I mean, never tells aught
that he hears in my Lord's closet."

"That is to assure me of his discretion, I trow! but this is no secret!
No treason against our well-beloved cousin Bess!  Oh no! But thy
brother, mine ain lad-bairn, hath come to years of manhood, and hath
shaken himself free of the fetters of Knox and Morton and Buchanan, and
all their clamjamfrie.  The Stewart lion hath been too strong for them.
The puir laddie hath true men about him, at last,--the Master of Gray,
as they call him, and Esme Stewart of Aubigny, a Scot polished as the
French know how to brighten Scottish steel.  Nor will the lad bide that
his mother should pine longer in durance.  He yearns for her, and hath
writ to her and to Elizabeth offering her a share in his throne.  Poor
laddie, what would be outrecuidance in another is but duteousness in
him.  What will he say when we bring him a sister as well as a mother?
They tell me that he is an unco scholar, but uncouth in his speech and
manners, and how should it be otherwise with no woman near him save my
old Lady Mar?  We shall have to take him in hand to teach him fair

"Sure he will be an old pupil!" said Cis, "if he be more than two years
my elder."

"Never fear, if we can find a winsome young bride for him, trust
mother, wife, and sister for moulding him to kingly bearing.  We will
make our home in Stirling or Linlithgow, we two, and leave Holyrood to
him.  I have seen too much there ever to thole the sight of those
chambers, far less of the High Street of Edinburgh; but Stirling,
bonnie Stirling, ay, I would fain ride a hawking there once more.
Methinks a Highland breeze would put life and youth into me again.
There's a little chamber opening into mine, where I will bestow thee,
my Lady Bride of Scotland, for so long as I may keep thee.  Ah! it will
not be for long.  They will be seeking thee, my brave courtly faithful
kindred of Lorraine, and Scottish nobles and English lords will vie for
this little hand of thine, where courses the royal blood of both

"So please you, madam, my mother--"

"Eh?  What is it?  Who is it?  I deemed that yonder honourable dame had
kept thee from all the frolics and foibles of the poor old profession.
Fear not to tell me, little one.  Remember thine own mother hath a
heart for such matters.  I guess already.  C'etait un beau garcon, ce
pauvre Antoine."

"Oh no, madam," exclaimed Cicely.  "When the sailor Goatley disclosed
that I was no child of my father's, of Master Richard I mean, and was a
nameless creature belonging to no one, Humfrey Talbot stood forth and
pledged himself to wed me so soon as we were old enough."

"And what said the squire and dame?"

"That I should then be indeed their daughter."

"And hath the contract gone no farther?"

"No, madam.  He hath been to the North with Captain Frobisher, and
since that to the Western Main, and we look for his return even now."

"How long is it since this pledge, as thou callest it, was given?"

"Five years next Lammas tide, madam."

"Was it by ring or token?"

"No, madam.  Our mother said we were too young, but Humfrey meant it
with all his heart."

"Humfrey!  That was the urchin who must needs traverse the
correspondence through the seeming Tibbott, and so got Antony removed
from about us.  A stout lubberly Yorkshire lad, fed on beef and
pudding, a true Talbot, a mere English bull-dog who will have lost all
the little breeding he had, while committing spulzie and piracy at sea
on his Catholic Majesty's ships.  Bah, mon enfant, I am glad of it.
Had he been a graceful young courtly page like the poor Antony, it
might have been a little difficult, but a great English carle like
that, whom thou hast not seen for five years--" She made a gesture with
her graceful hands as if casting away a piece of thistledown.

"Humfrey is my very good--my very good brother, madam," cried Cicely,
casting about for words to defend him, and not seizing the most

"Brother, quotha?  Yea, and as good brother he shall be to thee, and
welcome, so long as thou art Cis Talbot by day--but no more, child.
Princesses mate not with Yorkshire esquires.  When the Lady Bride takes
her place in the halls of her forefathers, she will be the property of
Scotland, and her hand will be sought by princes.  Ah, lassie! let it
not grieve thee.  One thing thy mother can tell thee from her own
experience.  There is more bliss in mating with our equals, by the
choice of others, than in following our own wild will. Thou gazest at
me in wonder, but verily my happy days were with my gentle young
king--and so will thine be, I pray the saints happier and more enduring
than ever were mine.  Nothing has ever lasted with me but captivity, O
libera me."

And in the murmured repetition the mother fell asleep, and the
daughter, who had slumbered little the night before, could not but
likewise drop into the world of soothing oblivion, though with a dull
feeling of aching and yearning towards the friendly kindly Humfrey, yet
with a certain exultation in the fate that seemed to be carrying her on
inevitably beyond his reach.



It was quite true that at this period Queen Mary had good hope of
liberation in the most satisfactory manner possible--short of being
hailed as English Queen.  Negotiations were actually on foot with James
VI. and Elizabeth for her release.  James had written to her with his
own hand, and she had for the first time consented to give him the
title of King of Scotland.  The project of her reigning jointly with
him had been mooted, and each party was showing how enormous a
condescension it would be in his or her eyes!  Thus there was no great
unlikelihood that there would be a recognition of the Lady Bride, and
that she would take her position as the daughter of a queen.
Therefore, when Mary contrived to speak to Master Richard Talbot and
his wife in private, she was able to thank them with gracious
condescension for the care they had bestowed in rearing her daughter,
much as if she had voluntarily entrusted the maiden to them, saying she
trusted to be in condition to reward them.

Mistress Susan's heart swelled high with pain, as though she had been
thanked for her care of Humfrey or Diccon, and her husband answered.
"We seek no reward, madam.  The damsel herself, while she was ours, was
reward enough."

"And I must still entreat, that of your goodness you will let her
remain yours for a little longer," said Mary, with a touch of imperious
grace, "until this treaty is over, and I am free, it is better that she
continues to pass for your daughter.  The child herself has sworn to me
by her great gods," said Mary, smiling with complimentary grace, "that
you will preserve her secret--nay, she becomes a little fury when I
express my fears lest you should have scruples."

"No, madam, this is no state secret; such as I might not with honour
conceal," returned Richard.

"There is true English sense!" exclaimed Mary.  "I may then count on
your giving my daughter the protection of your name and your home until
I can reclaim her and place her in her true position.  Yea, and if your
concealment should give offence, and bring you under any displeasure of
my good sister, those who have so saved and tended my daughter will
have the first claim to whatever I can give when restored to my

"We are much beholden for your Grace's favour," said Richard, somewhat
stiffly, "but I trust never to serve any land save mine own."

"Ah! there is your fierete," cried Mary.  "Happy is my sister to have
subjects with such a point of honour.  Happy is my child to have been
bred up by such parents!"

Richard bowed.  It was all a man could do at such a speech, and Mary
further added, "She has told me to what bounds went your goodness to
her.  It is well that you acted so prudently that the children's hearts
were not engaged; for, as we all know but too well royal blood should
have no heart."

"I am quite aware of it, madam," returned Richard, and there for the
time the conversation ended.  The Queen had been most charming, full of
gratitude, and perfectly reasonable in her requests, and yet there was
some flaw in the gratification of both, even while neither thought the
disappointment would go very hard with their son. Richard could never
divest himself of the instinctive prejudice with which soft words
inspire men of his nature, and Susan's maternal heart was all in revolt
against the inevitable, not merely grieving over the wrench to her
affections, but full of forebodings and misgivings as to the future
welfare of her adopted child.  Even if the brightest hopes should be
fulfilled; the destiny of a Scottish princess did not seem to Southern
eyes very brilliant at the best, and whether poor Bride Hepburn might
be owned as a princess at all was a doubtful matter, since, if her
father lived (and he had certainly been living in 1577 in Norway), both
the Queen and the Scottish people would be agreed in repudiating the
marriage.  Any way, Susan saw every reason to fear for the happiness
and the religion alike of the child to whom she had given a mother's
love. Under her grave, self-contained placid demeanour, perhaps Dame
Susan was the most dejected of those at Buxton.  The captive Queen had
her hopes of freedom and her newly found daughter, who was as yet only
a pleasure, and not an encumbrance to her, the Earl had been assured
that his wife's slanders had been forgotten.  He was secure of his
sovereign's favour, and permitted to see the term of his weary
jailorship, and thus there was an unusual liveliness and cheerfulness
about the whole sojourn at Buxton, where, indeed, there was always more
or less of a holiday time.

To Cis herself, her nights were like a perpetual fairy tale, and so
indeed were all times when she was alone with the initiated, who were
indeed all those original members of her mother's suite who had known
of her birth at Lochleven, people who had kept too many perilous
secrets not to be safely entrusted with this one, and whose finished
habits of caution, in a moment, on the approach of a stranger, would
change their manner from the deferential courtesy due to their
princess, to the good-natured civility of court ladies to little Cicely

Dame Susan had been gratified at first by the young girl's sincere
assurances of unchanging affection and allegiance, and, in truth, Cis
had clung the most to her with the confidence of a whole life's
danghterhood, but as the days went on, and every caress and token of
affection imaginable was lavished upon the maiden, every splendid
augury held out to her of the future, and every story of the past
detailed the charms of Mary's court life in France, seen through the
vista of nearly twenty sadly contrasted years, it was in the very
nature of things that Cis should regard the time spent perforce with
Mistress Talbot much as a petted child views its return to the strict
nurse or governess from the delights of the drawing-room.  She liked to
dazzle the homely housewife with the wonderful tales of French
gaieties, or the splendid castles in the air she had heard in the
Queen's rooms, but she resented the doubt and disapproval they
sometimes excited; she was petulant and fractious at any exercise of
authority from her foster-mother, and once or twice went near to betray
herself by lapsing into a tone towards her which would have brought
down severe personal chastisement on any real daughter even of
seventeen.  It was well that the Countess and her sharp-eyed daughter
Mary were out of sight, as the sight of such "cockering of a malapert
maiden" would have led to interference that might have brought matters
to extremity.  Yet, with all the forbearance thus exercised, Susan
could not but feel that the girl's love was being weaned from her; and,
after all, how could she complain, since it was by the true mother?  If
only she could have hoped it was for the dear child's good, it would
not have been so hard!  But the trial was a bitter one, and not even
her husband guessed how bitter it was.

The Queen meantime improved daily in health and vigour in the splendid
summer weather.  The rheumatism had quitted her, and she daily rode and
played at Trowle Madame for hours after supper in the long bright July
evenings.  Cis, whose shoulder was quite well, played with great
delight on the greensward, where one evening she made acquaintance with
a young esquire and his sisters from the neighbourhood, who had come
with their father to pay their respects to my Lord Earl, as the head of
all Hallamshire.  The Earl, though it was not quite according to the
recent stricter rules, ventured to invite them to stay to sup with the
household, and afterwards they came out with the rest upon the lawn.

Cis was walking between the young lad and his sister, laughing and
talking with much animation, for she had not for some time enjoyed the
pleasure of free intercourse with any of her fellow-denizens in the
happy land of youth.

Dame Susan watched her with some uneasiness, and presently saw her
taking them where she herself was privileged to go, but strangers were
never permitted to approach, on the Trowle Madame sward reserved for
the Queen, on which she was even now entering.

"Cicely!" she called, but the young lady either did not or would not
hear, and she was obliged to walk hastily forward, meet the party, and
with courteous excuses turn them back from the forbidden ground. They
submitted at once, apologising, but Cis, with a red spot on her cheek,
cried, "The Queen would take no offence."

"That is not the matter in point, Cicely," said Dame Susan gravely.
"Master and Mistress Eyre understand that we are bound to obedience to
the Earl."

Master Eyre, a well-bred young gentleman, made reply that he well knew
that no discourtesy was intended, but Cis pouted and muttered,
evidently to the extreme amazement of Mistress Alice Eyre; and Dame
Susan, to divert her attention, began to ask about the length of their
ride, and the way to their home.

Cis's ill humour never lasted long, and she suddenly broke in, "O
mother, Master Eyre saith there is a marvellous cavern near his
father's house, all full of pendants from the roof like a minster, and
great sheeted tables and statues standing up, all grand and ghostly on
the floor, far better than in this Pool's Hole.  He says his father
will have it lighted up if we will ride over and see it."

"We are much beholden to Master Eyre," said Susan, but Cis read refusal
in her tone, and began to urge her to consent.

"It must be as my husband wills," was the grave answer, and at the same
time, courteously, but very decidedly, she bade the strangers farewell,
and made her daughter do the same, though Cis was inclined to
resistance, and in a somewhat defiant tone added, "I shall not forget
your promise, sir.  I long to see the cave."

"Child, child," entreated Susan, as soon as they were out of hearing,
"be on thy guard.  Thou wilt betray thyself by such conduct towards me."

"But, mother, they did so long to see the Queen, and there would have
been no harm in it.  They are well affected, and the young gentleman is
a friend of poor Master Babington."

"Nay, Cis, that is further cause that I should not let them pass
onward.  I marvel not at thee, my maid, but thou and thy mother queen
must bear in mind that while thou passest for our daughter, and hast
trust placed in thee, thou must do nothing to forfeit it or bring thy
fa--, Master Richard I mean, into trouble."

"I meant no harm," said Cis; rather crossly.

"Thou didst not, but harm may be done by such as mean it the least."

"Only, mother, sweet mother," cried the girl, childlike, set upon her
pleasure, "I will be as good as can be.  I will transgress in nought if
only thou wilt get my father to take me to see Master Eyre's cavern."

She was altogether the home daughter again in her eagerness, entreating
and promising by turns with the eager curiosity of a young girl bent on
an expedition, but Richard was not to be prevailed on. He had little or
no acquaintance with the Eyre family, and to let them go to the cost
and trouble of lighting up the cavern for the young lady's amusement
would be like the encouragement of a possible suit, which would have
been a most inconvenient matter.  Richard did not believe the young
gentleman had warrant from his father in giving this invitation, and if
he had, that was the more reason for declining it.  The Eyres, then
holding the royal castle of the Peak, were suspected of being secretly
Roman Catholics, and though the Earl could not avoid hospitably bidding
them to supper, the less any Talbot had to do with them the better, and
for the present Cis must be contented to be reckoned as one.

So she had to put up with her disappointment, and she did not do so
with as good a grace as she would have shown a year ago.  Nay, she
carried it to Queen Mary, who at night heard her gorgeous description
of the wonders of the cavern, which grew in her estimation in
proportion to the difficulty of seeing them, and sympathised with her
disappointment at the denial.

"Nay, thou shalt not be balked," said Mary, with the old queenly habit
of having her own way.  "Prisoner as I am, I will accomplish this.  My
daughter shall have her wish."

So on the ensuing morning, when the Earl came to pay his respects, Mary
assailed him with, "There is a marvellous cavern in these parts, my
Lord, of which I hear great wonders."

"Does your grace mean Pool's Hole?"

"Nay, nay, my Lord.  Have I not been conducted through it by Dr. Jones,
and there writ my name for his delectation?  This is, I hear, as a
palace compared therewith."

"The Peak Cavern, Madam!" said Lord Shrewsbury, with the distaste of
middle age for underground expeditions, "is four leagues hence, and a
dark, damp, doleful den, most noxious for your Grace's rheumatism."

"Have you ever seen it, my Lord?"

"No, verily," returned his lordship with a shudder.

"Then you will be edified yourself, my Lord, if you will do me the
grace to escort me thither," said Mary, with the imperious suavity she
well knew how to adopt.

"Madam, madam," cried the unfortunate Earl, "do but consult your
physicians.  They will tell you that all the benefits of the Buxton
waters will be annulled by an hour in yonder subterranean hole."

"I have heard of it from several of my suite," replied Mary, "and they
tell me that the work of nature on the lime-droppings is so marvellous
that I shall not rest without a sight of it.  Many have been instant
with me to go and behold the wondrous place."

This was not untrue, but she had never thought of gratifying them in
her many previous visits to Buxton.  The Earl found himself obliged
either to utter a harsh and unreasonable refusal, or to organise an
expedition which he personally disliked extremely, and moreover
distrusted, for he did not in the least believe that Queen Mary would
be so set upon gratifying her curiosity about stalactites without some
ulterior motive.  He tried to set on Dr. Jones to persuade Messieurs
Gorion and Bourgoin, her medical attendants, that the cave would be
fatal to her rheumatism, but it so happened that the Peak Cavern was
Dr. Jones's favourite lion, the very pride of his heart. Pool's Hole
was dear to him, but the Peak Cave was far more precious, and the very
idea of the Queen of Scots honouring it with her presence, and leaving
behind her the flavour of her name, was so exhilarating to the little
man that if the place had been ten times more damp he would have
vouched for its salubrity.  Moreover, he undertook that fumigations of
fragrant woods should remove all peril of noxious exhalations, so that
the Earl was obliged to give his orders that Mr. Eyre should be
requested to light up the cave, and heartily did he grumble and pour
forth his suspicions and annoyance to his cousin Richard.

"And I," said the good sailor, "felt it hard not to be able to tell him
that all was for the freak of a silly damsel."

Mistress Cicely laughed a little triumphantly.  It was something like
being a Queen's daughter to have been the cause of making my Lord
himself bestir himself against his will.  She had her own way, and
might well be good-humoured.  "Come, dear sir father," she said, coming
up to him in a coaxing, patronising way, which once would have been
quite alien to them both, "be not angered.  You know nobody means
treason!  And, after all, 'tis not I but you that are the cause of all
the turmoil.  If you would but have ridden soberly out with your poor
little Cis, there would have been no coil, but my Lord might have paced
stately and slow up and down the terrace-walk undisturbed."

"Ah, child, child!" said Susan, vexed, though her husband could not
help smiling at the arch drollery of the girl's tone and manner, "do
not thou learn light mockery of all that should be honoured."

"I am not bound to honour the Earl," said Cis, proudly.

"Hush, hush!" said Richard.  "I have allowed thee unchecked too long,
maiden.  Wert thou ten times what thou art, it would not give thee the
right to mock at the gray-haired, highly-trusted noble, the head of the
name thou dost bear."

"And the torment of her whom I am most bound to love," broke from
Cicely petulantly.

Richard's response to this sally was to rise up, make the young lady
the lowest possible reverence, with extreme and displeased gravity, and
then to quit the room.  It brought the girl to her bearings at once.
"Oh, mother, mother, how have I displeased him?"

"I trow thou canst not help it, child," said Susan, sadly; "but it is
hard that thou shouldst bring home to us how thine heart and thine
obedience are parted from us."

The maiden was in a passion of tears at once, vowing that she meant no
such thing, that she loved and obeyed them as much as ever, and that if
only her father would forgive her she would never wish to go near the
cavern.  She would beg the Queen to give up the plan at once, if only
Sir Richard would be her good father as before.

Susan looked at her sadly and tenderly, but smiled, and said that what
had been lightly begun could not now be dropped, and that she trusted
Cis would be happy in the day's enjoyment, and remember to behave
herself as a discreet maiden.  "For truly," said she, "so far from
discretion being to be despised by Queen's daughters, the higher the
estate the greater the need thereof."

This little breeze did not prevent Cicely from setting off in high
spirits, as she rode near the Queen, who declared that she wanted to
enjoy _through_ the merry maiden, and who was herself in a gay and
joyous mood, believing that the term of her captivity was in sight,
delighted with her daughter, exhilarated by the fresh breezes and rapid
motion, and so mirthful that she could not help teasing and bantering
the Earl a little, though all in the way of good-humoured grace.

The ride was long, about eight miles; but though the Peak Castle was a
royal one, the Earl preferred not to enter it, but, according to
previous arrangement, caused the company to dismount in the valley, or
rather ravine, which terminates in the cavern, where a repast was
spread on the grass.  It was a wonderful place, cool and refreshing,
for the huge rocks on either side cast a deep shadow, seldom pierced by
the rays of the sun.  Lofty, solemn, and rich in dark reds and purples,
rose the walls of rock, here and there softened by tapestry of ivy or
projecting bushes of sycamore, mountain ash, or with fruit already
assuming its brilliant tints, and jackdaws flying in and out of their
holes above.  Deep beds of rich ferns clothed the lower slopes, and
sheets of that delicate flower, the enchanter's nightshade, reared its
white blossoms down to the bank of a little clear stream that came
flowing from out of the mighty yawning arch of the cavern, while above
the precipice rose sheer the keep of Peak Castle.

The banquet was gracefully arranged to suit the scene, and comprised,
besides more solid viands, large bowls of milk, with strawberries or
cranberries floating in them.  Mr. Eyre, the keeper of the castle, and
his daughter did the honours, while his son superintended the lighting
and fumigation of the cavern, assisted, if not directed by Dr. Jones,
whose short black cloak and gold-headed cane were to be seen almost
everywhere at once.

Presently clouds of smoke began to issue from the vast archway that
closed the ravine.  "Beware, my maidens," said the Queen, merrily, "we
have roused the dragon in his den, and we shall see him come forth
anon, curling his tail and belching flame."

"With a marvellous stomach for a dainty maiden or two," added Gilbert
Curll, falling into her humour.

"Hark!  Good lack!" cried the Queen, with an affectation of terror, as
a most extraordinary noise proceeded from the bowels of the cavern,
making Cis start and Marie de Courcelles give a genuine shriek.

"Your Majesty is pleased to be merry," said the Earl, ponderously. "The
sound is only the coughing of the torchbearers from the damp whereof I
warned your Majesty."

"By my faith," said Mary, "I believe my Lord Earl himself fears the
monster of the cavern, to whom he gives the name of Damp.  Dread
nothing, my Lord; the valorous knight Sir Jones is even now in conflict
with the foul worm, as those cries assure me, being in fact caused by
his fumigations."

The jest was duly received, and in the midst of the laughter, young
Eyre came forward, bowing low, and holding his jewelled hat in his
hand, while his eyes betrayed that he had recently been sneezing

"So please your Majesty," he said, "the odour hath rolled away, and all
is ready if you will vouchsafe to accept my poor guidance."

"How say you, my Lord?" said Mary.  "Will you dare the lair of the
conquered foe, or fear you to be pinched with aches and pains by his
lurking hobgoblins?  If so, we dispense with your attendance."

"Your Majesty knows that where she goes thither I am bound to attend
her," said the rueful Earl.

"Even into the abyss!" said Mary.  "Valiantly spoken, for have not
Ariosto and his fellows sung of captive princesses for whom every cave
held an enchanter who could spirit them away into vapour thin as air,
and leave their guardians questing in vain for them?"

"Your Majesty jests with edged tools," sighed the Earl.

Old Mr. Eyre was too feeble to act as exhibitor of the cave, and his
son was deputed to lead the Queen forward.  This was, of course, Lord
Shrewsbury's privilege, but he was in truth beholden to her fingers for
aid, as she walked eagerly forward, now and then accepting a little
help from John Eyre, but in general sure-footed and exploring eagerly
by the light of the numerous torches held by yeomen in the Eyre livery,
one of whom was stationed wherever there was a dangerous pass or a
freak of nature worth studying.

The magnificent vaulted roof grew lower, and presently it became
necessary to descend a staircase, which led to a deep hollow chamber,
shaped like a bell, and echoing like one.  A pool of intensely black
water filled it, reflecting the lights on its surface, that only
enhanced its darkness, while there moved on a mysterious flat-bottomed
boat, breaking them into shimmering sparks, and John Eyre intimated
that the visitors must lie down flat in it to be ferried one by one
over a space of about fourteen yards.

"Your Majesty will surely not attempt it," said the Earl, with a

"Wherefore not?  It is but a foretaste of Charon's boat!" said Mary,
who was one of those people whose spirit of enterprise rises with the
occasion, and she murmured to Mary Seaton the line of Dante--

          "Quando noi fermerem li nostri passi
           Su la triate riviera a' Acheronte."

"Will your Majesty enter?" asked John Eyre.  "Dr. Jones and some
gentlemen wait on the other side to receive you."

"Some gentlemen?" repeated Mary.  "You are sure they are not Minos and
Rhadamanthus, sir?  My obolus is ready; shall I put it in my mouth?"

"Nay, madam, pardon me," said the Earl, spurred by a miserable sense of
his duties; "since you will thus venture, far be it from me to let you
pass over until I have reached the other aide to see that it is fit for
your Majesty!"

"Even as you will, most devoted cavalier," said Mary, drawing back; "we
will be content to play the part of the pale ghosts of the unburied
dead a little longer.  See, Mary, the boat sinks down with him and his
mortal flesh!  We shall have Charon complaining of him anon."

"Your Highness gars my flesh grue," was the answer of her faithful Mary.

"Ah, ma mie! we have not left all hope behind.  We can afford to smile
at the doleful knight, ferried o'er on his back, in duteous and loyal
submission to his task mistress.  Child, Cicely, where art thou?  Art
afraid to dare the black river?"

"No, madam, not with you on the other side, and my father to follow me."

"Well said.  Let the maiden follow next after me.  Or mayhap Master
Eyre should come next, then the young lady.  For you, my ladies, and
you, good sirs, you are free to follow or not, as the fancy strikes
you.  So--here is Charon once more--must I lie down?"

"Ay, madam," said Eyre, "if you would not strike your head against
yonder projecting rock."

Mary lay down, her cloak drawn about her, and saying, "Now then, for
Acheron.  Ah! would that it were Lethe!"

"Her Grace saith well," muttered faithful Jean Kennedy, unversed in
classic lore, "would that we were once more at bonnie Leith.  Soft
there now, 'tis you that follow her next, my fair mistress."

Cicely, not without trepidation, obeyed, laid herself flat, and was
soon midway, feeling the passage so grim and awful, that she could
think of nothing but the dark passages of the grave, and was shuddering
all over, when she was helped out on the other side by the Queen's own

Some of those in the rear did not seem to be similarly affected, or
else braved their feelings of awe by shouts and songs, which echoed
fearfully through the subterranean vaults.  Indeed Diccon, following
the example of one or two young pages and grooms of the Earl's, began
to get so daring and wild in the strange scene, that his father became
anxious, and tarried for him on the other side, in the dread of his
wandering away and getting lost, or falling into some of the fearful
dark rivers that could be heard--not seen--rushing along.  By this
means, Master Richard was entirely separated from Cicely, to whom,
before crossing the water, he had been watchfully attending, but he
knew her to be with the Queen and her ladies, and considered her
natural timidity the best safeguard against the chief peril of the
cave, namely, wandering away.

Cicely did, however, miss his care, for the Queen could not but be
engrossed by her various cicerones and attendants, and it was no one's
especial business to look after the young girl over the rough descent
to the dripping well called Roger Rain's House, and the grand
cathedral-like gallery, with splendid pillars of stalagmite, and
pendants above.  By the time the steps beyond were reached, a toilsome
descent, the Queen had had enough of the expedition, and declined to go
any farther, but she good-naturedly yielded to the wish of Master John
Eyre and Dr. Jones, that she would inscribe her name on the farthest
column that she had reached.

There was a little confusion while this was being done, as some of the
more enterprising wished to penetrate as far as possible into the
recesses of the cave, and these were allowed to pass forward--Diccon
and his father among them.  In the passing and repassing, Cicely
entirely lost sight of all who had any special care of her, and went
stumbling on alone, weary, frightened, and repenting of the wilfulness
with which she had urged on the expedition.  Each of the other ladies
had some cavalier to help her, but none had fallen to Cicely's lot, and
though, to an active girl, there was no real danger where the
torchbearers lined the way, still there was so much difficulty that she
was a laggard in reaching the likeness of Acheron, and could see no
father near as she laid herself down in Charon's dismal boat, dimly
rejoicing that this time it was to return to the realms of day, and yet
feeling as if she should never reach them.  A hand was given to assist
her from the boat by one of the torchbearers, a voice strangely
familiar was in her ears, saying, "Mistress Cicely!" and she knew the
eager eyes, and exclaimed under her breath, "Antony, you here?  In
hiding?  What have you done?"

"Nothing," he answered, smiling, and holding her hand, as he helped her
forward.  "I only put on this garb that I might gaze once more on the
most divine and persecuted of queens, and with some hope likewise that
I might win a word with her who deigned once to be my playmate. Lady, I
know the truth respecting you."

"Do you in very deed?" demanded Cicely, considerably startled.

"I know your true name, and that you are none of the mastiff race,"
said Antony.

"Did--did Tibbott tell you, sir?" asked Cicely.

"You are one of us," said Antony; "bound by natural allegiance in the
land of your birth to this lady."

"Even so," said Cis, here becoming secure of what she had before
doubted, that Babington only knew half the truth he referred to.

"And you see and speak with her privily," he added.

"As Bess Pierrepoint did," said she.

These words passed during the ascent, and were much interrupted by the
difficulties of the way, in which Antony rendered such aid that she was
each moment more impelled to trust to him, and relieved to find herself
in such familiar hands.  On reaching the summit the light of day could
be seen glimmering in the extreme distance, and the maiden's heart
bounded at the sight of it; but she found herself led somewhat aside,
where in a sort of side aisle of the great bell chamber were standing
together four more of the torch-bearers.

One of them, a slight man, made a step forward and said, "The Queen
hath dropped her kerchief.  Mayhap the young gentlewoman will restore

"She will do more than that!" said Antony, drawing her into the midst
of them.  "Dost not know her, Langston?  She is her sacred Majesty's
own born, true, and faithful subject, the Lady--"

"Hush, my friend; thou art ever over outspoken with thy names,"
returned the other, evidently annoyed at Babington's imprudence.

"I tell thee, she is one of us," replied Antony impatiently.  "How is
the Queen to know of her friends if we name them not to her?"

"Are these her friends?" asked Cicely, looking round on the five
figures in the leathern coats and yeomen's heavy buskins and shoes, and
especially at the narrow face and keen pale eyes of Langston.

"Ay, verily," said one, whom Cicely could see even under his disguise
to be a slender, graceful youth.  "By John Eyre's favour have we come
together here to gaze on the true and lawful mistress of our hearts,
the champion of our faith, in her martyrdom."  Then taking the kerchief
from Langston's hand, Babington kissed it reverently, and tore it into
five pieces, which he divided among himself and his fellows, saying,
"This fair mistress shall bear witness to her sacred Majesty that
we--Antony Babington, Chidiock Tichborne, Cuthbert Langston, John
Charnock, John Savage--regard her as the sole and lawful Queen of
England and Scotland, and that as we have gone for her sake into the
likeness of the valley of the shadow of death, so will we meet death
itself and stain this linen with our best heart's blood rather than not
bring her again to freedom and the throne!"

Then with the most solemn oath each enthusiastically kissed the white
token, and put it in his breast, but Langston looked with some alarm at
the girl, and said to Babington, "Doth this young lady understand that
you have put our lives into her hands?"

"She knows! she knows!  I answer for her with my life," said Antony.

"Let her then swear to utter no word of what she has seen save to the
Queen," said Langston, and Cicely detected a glitter in that pale eye,
and with a horrified leap of thought, recollected how easy it would be
to drag her away into one of those black pools, beyond all ken.

"Oh save me, Antony!" she cried clinging to his arm.

"No one shall touch you.  I will guard you with my life!" exclaimed the
impulsive young man, feeling for the sword that was not there.

"Who spoke of hurting the foolish wench?" growled Savage; but Tichborne
said, "No one would hurt you, madam; but it is due to us all that you
should give us your word of honour not to disclose what has passed,
save to our only true mistress."

"Oh yes! yes!" cried Cicely hastily, scarcely knowing what passed her
lips, and only anxious to escape from that gleaming eye of Langston,
which had twice before filled her with a nameless sense of the
necessity of terrified obedience.  "Oh! let me go.  I hear my father's

She sprang forward with a cry between joy and terror, and darted up to
Richard Talbot, while Savage, the man who looked most entirely unlike a
disguised gentleman, stepped forward, and in a rough, north country
dialect, averred that the young gentlewoman had lost her way.

"Poor maid," said kind Richard, gathering the two trembling little
hands into one of his own broad ones.  "How was it?  Thanks, good
fellow," and he dropped a broad piece into Savage's palm; "thou hast
done good service.  What, Cis, child, art quaking?"

"Hast seen any hobgoblins, Cis?" said Diccon, at her other side. "I'm
sure I heard them laugh."

"Whist, Dick," said his father, putting a strong arm round the girl's
waist.  "See, my wench, yonder is the goodly light of day.  We shall
soon be there."

With all his fatherly kindness, he helped the agitated girl up the
remaining ascent, as the lovely piece of blue sky between the
retreating rocks grew wider, and the archway higher above them.  Cis
felt that infinite repose and reliance that none else could give, yet
the repose was disturbed by the pang of recollection that the secret
laid on her was their first severance.  It was unjust to his kindness;
strange, doubtful, nay grisly, to her foreboding mind, and she shivered
alike from that and the chill of the damp cavern, and then he drew her
cloak more closely about her, and halted to ask for the flask of wine
which one of the adventurous spirits had brought, that Queen
Elizabeth's health might be drunk by her true subjects in the bowels of
the earth.  The wine was, of course, exhausted; but Dr. Jones bustled
forward with some cordial waters which he had provided in case of
anyone being struck with the chill of the cave, and Cicely was made to
swallow some.

By this time she had been missed, and the little party were met by some
servants sent by the Earl at the instance of the much-alarmed Queen to
inquire for her.  A little farther on came Mistress Talbot, in much
anxiety and distress, though as Diccon ran forward to meet her, and she
saw Cicely on her husband's arm, she resumed her calm and staid
demeanour, and when assured that the maiden had suffered no damage, she
made no special demonstrations of joy or affection. Indeed, such would
have been deemed unbecoming in the presence of strangers, and
disrespectful to the Queen and the Earl, who were not far off.

Mary, on the other hand, started up, held out her arms, received the
truant with such vehement kisses, as might almost have betrayed their
real relationship, and then reproached her, with all sorts of endearing
terms, for having so terrified them all; nor would she let the girl go
from her side, and kept her hand in her own, Diccon meanwhile had
succeeded in securing his father's attention, which had been wholly
given to Cicely till she was placed in the women's hands. "Father," he
said, "I wish that one of the knaves with the torches who found our Cis
was the woman with the beads and bracelets, ay, and Tibbott, too."

"Belike, belike, my son," said Richard.  "There are folk who can take
as many forms as a barnacle goose.  Keep thou a sharp eye as the
fellows pass out, and pull me by the cloak if thou seest him."

Of course he was not seen, and Richard, who was growing more and more
cautious about bringing vague or half-proved suspicions before his
Lord, decided to be silent and to watch, though he sighed to his wife
that the poor child would soon be in the web.

Cis had not failed to recognise that same identity, and to feel a
half-realised conviction that the Queen had not chosen to confide to
her that the two female disguises both belonged to Langston.  Yet the
contrast between Mary's endearments and the restrained manner of Susan
so impelled her towards the veritable mother, that the compunction as
to the concealment she had at first experienced passed away, and her
heart felt that its obligations were towards her veritable and most
loving parent.  She told the Queen the whole story at night, to Mary's
great delight.  She said she was sure her little one had something on
her mind, she had so little to say of her adventure, and the next day a
little privy council was contrived, in which Cicely was summoned again
to tell her tale.  The ladies declared they had always hoped much from
their darling page, in whom they had kept up the true faith, but Sir
Andrew Melville shook his head and said: "I'd misdoot ony plot where
the little finger of him was.  What garred the silly loon call in the
young leddy ere he kenned whether she wad keep counsel?"



Cicely's thirst for adventures had received a check, but the Queen,
being particularly well and in good spirits, and trusting that this
would be her last visit to Buxton, was inclined to enterprise, and
there were long rides and hawking expeditions on the moors.

The last of these, ere leaving Buxton, brought the party to the hamlet
of Barton Clough, where a loose horseshoe of the Earl's caused a halt
at a little wayside smithy.  Mary, always friendly and free-spoken,
asked for a draught of water, and entered into conversation with the
smith's rosy-cheeked wife who brought it to her, and said it was sure
to be good and pure for the stream came from the Ebbing and Flowing
Well, and she pointed up a steep path.  Then, on a further question,
she proceeded, "Has her ladyship never heard of the Ebbing Well that
shows whether true love is soothfast?"

"How so?" asked the Queen.  "How precious such a test might be.  It
would save many a maiden a broken heart, only that the poor fools would
ne'er trust it."

"I have heard of it," said the Earl, "and Dr. Jones would demonstrate
to your Grace that it is but a superstition of the vulgar regarding a
natural phenomenon."

"Yea, my Lord," said the smith, looking up from the horse's foot; "'tis
the trade of yonder philosophers to gainsay whatever honest folk
believed before them.  They'll deny next that hens lay eggs, or blight
rots wheat.  My good wife speaks but plain truth, and we have seen it
o'er and o'er again."

"What have you seen, good man?" asked Mary eagerly, and ready answer
was made by the couple, who had acquired some cultivation of speech and
manners by their wayside occupation, and likewise as cicerones to the

"Seen, quoth the lady?" said the smith.  "Why, he that is a true man
and hath a true maid can quaff a draught as deep as his gullet can
hold--or she that is true and hath a true love--but let one who hath a
flaw in the metal, on the one side or t'other, stoop to drink, and the
water shrinks away so as there's not the moistening of a lip."

"Ay: the ladies may laugh," added his wife, "but 'tis soothfast for all

"Hast proved it, good dame?" asked the Queen archly, for the pair were
still young and well-looking enough to be jested with.

"Ay! have we not, madam?" said the dame.  "Was not my man yonder, Rob,
the tinker's son, whom my father and brethren, the smiths down yonder
at Buxton, thought but scorn of, but we'd taken a sup together at the
Ebbing Well, and it played neither of us false, so we held out against
'em all, and when they saw there was no help for it, they gave Bob the
second best anvil and bellows for my portion, and here we be."

"Living witnesses to the Well," said the Queen merrily.  "How say you,
my Lord?  I would fain see this marvel.  Master Curll, will you try the

"I fear it not, madam," said the secretary, looking at the blushing

Objections did not fail to arise from the Earl as to the difficulties
of the path and the lateness of the hour but Bob Smith, perhaps
wilfully, discovered another of my Lord's horseshoes to be in a
perilous state, and his good wife, Dame Emmott, offered to conduct the
ladies by so good a path that they might think themselves on the
Queen's Walk at Buxton itself.

Lord Shrewsbury, finding himself a prisoner, was obliged to yield
compliance, and leaving Sir Andrew Melville, with the grooms and
falconers, in charge of the horses, the Queen, the Earl, Cicely, Mary
Seaton, Barbara Mowbray, the two secretaries, and Richard Talbot and
young Diccon, started on the walk, together with Dr. Bourgoin, her
physician, who was eager to investigate the curiosity, and make it a
subject of debate with Dr. Jones.

The path was a beautiful one, through rocks and brushwood, mountain ash
bushes showing their coral berries amid their feathery leaves, golden
and white stars of stonecrop studding every coign of vantage, and in
more level spots the waxy bell-heather beginning to come into blossom.
Still it was rather over praise to call it as smooth as the
carefully-levelled and much-trodden Queen's path at Buxton, considering
that it ascended steeply all the way, and made the solemn,
much-enduring Earl pant for breath; but the Queen, her rheumatics for
the time entirely in abeyance, bounded on with the mountain step
learned in early childhood, and closely followed the brisk Emmott.  The
last ascent was a steep pull, taking away the disposition to speak, and
at its summit Mary stood still holding out one hand, with a finger of
the other on her lips as a sign of silence to the rest of the suite and
to Emmott, who stood flushed and angered; for what she esteemed her
lawful province seemed to have been invaded from the other side of the

They were on the side of the descent from the moorlands connected with
the Peak, on a small esplanade in the midst of which lay a deep clear
pool, with nine small springs or fountains discharging themselves,
under fern and wild rose or honeysuckle, into its basin. Steps bad been
cut in the rock leading to the verge of the pool, and on the lowest of
these, with his back to the new-comers, was kneeling a young man, his
brown head bare, his short cloak laid aside, so that his well-knit form
could be seen; the sword and spurs that clanked against the rock, as
well as the whole fashion and texture of his riding-dress, showing him
to be a gentleman.

"We shall see the venture made," whispered Mary to her daughter, who,
in virtue of youth and lightness of foot, had kept close behind her.
Grasping the girl's arm and smiling, she heard the young man's voice
cry aloud to the echoes of the rock, "Cis!" then stoop forward and
plunge face and head into the clear translucent water.

"Good luck to a true lover!" smiled the Queen.  "What! starting, silly
maid?  Cisses are plenty in these parts as rowan berries."

"Nay, but--" gasped Cicely, for at that moment the young man, rising
from his knees, his face still shining with the water, looked up at his
unsuspected spectators.  An expression of astonishment and ecstasy
lighted up his honest sunburnt countenance as Master Richard, who had
just succeeded in dragging the portly Earl up the steep path, met his
gaze.  He threw up his arms, made apparently but one bound, and was
kneeling at the captain's feet, embracing his knees.

"My son!  Humfrey!  Thyself!" cried Richard.  "See! see what presence
we are in."

"Your blessing, father, first," cried Humfrey, "ere I can see aught

And as Richard quickly and thankfully laid his hand on the brow, so
much fairer than the face, and then held his son for one moment in a
close embrace, with an exchange of the kiss that was not then only a
foreign fashion.  Queen and Earl said to one another with a sigh, that
happy was the household where the son had no eyes for any save his

Mary, however, must have found it hard to continue her smiles when,
after due but hurried obeisance to her and to his feudal chief, Humfrey
turned to the little figure beside her, all smiling with startled
shyness, and in one moment seemed to swallow it up in a huge
overpowering embrace, fraternal in the eyes of almost all the
spectators, but not by any means so to those of Mary, especially after
the name she had heard.  Diccon's greeting was the next, and was not
quite so visibly rapturous on the part of the elder brother, who
explained that he had arrived at Sheffield yesterday, and finding no
one to welcome him but little Edward, had set forth for Buxton almost
with daylight, and having found himself obliged to rest his horse, he
had turned aside to---.  And here he recollected just in time that Cis
was in every one's eyes save his father's, his own sister, and lamely
concluded "to take a draught of water," blushing under his brown skin
as he spoke.  Poor fellow! the Queen, even while she wished him in the
farthest West Indian isle, could not help understanding that strange
doubt and dread that come over the mind at the last moment before a
longed-for meeting, and which had made even the bold young sailor glad
to rally his hopes by this divination. Fortunately she thought only
herself and one or two of the foremost had heard the name he gave, as
was proved by the Earl's good-humoured laugh, as he said,

"A draught, quotha?  We understand that, young sir.  And who may this
your true love be?"

"That I hope soon to make known to your Lordship," returned Humfrey,
with a readiness which he certainly did not possess before his voyage.

The ceremony was still to be fulfilled, and the smith's wife called
them to order by saying, "Good luck to the young gentleman.  He is a
stranger here, or he would have known he should have come up by our
path!  Will you try the well, your Grace?"

"Nay, nay, good woman, my time for such toys is over!" said the Queen
smiling, "but moved by such an example, here are others to make the
venture, Master Curll is burning for it, I see."

"I fear no such trial, an't please your Grace," said Curll, bowing,
with a bright defiance of the water, and exchanging a confident smile
with the blushing Mistress Barbara--then kneeling by the well, and
uttering her name aloud ere stooping to drink.  He too succeeded in
obtaining a full draught, and came up triumphantly.

"The water is a flatterer!" said the Earl.  "It favours all."

The French secretary, Monsieur Nau, here came forward and took his
place on the steps.  No one heard, but every one knew the word he spoke
was "Bessie," for Elizabeth Pierrepoint had long been the object of his
affections.  No doubt he hoped that he should obtain some encouragement
from the water, even while he gave a little laugh of affected
incredulity as though only complying with a form to amuse the Queen.
Down he went on his knees, bending over the pool, when behold he could
not reach it!  The streams that fed it were no longer issuing from the
rock, the water was subsiding rapidly.  The farther he stooped, the
more it retreated, till he had almost fallen over, and the guide
screamed out a note of warning, "Have a care, sir!  If the water flees
you, flee it will, and ye'll not mend matters by drowning yourself."

How he was to be drowned by water that fled from him was not clear, but
with a muttered malediction he arose and glanced round as if he thought
the mortification a trick on the part of the higher powers, since the
Earl did not think him a match for the Countess's grandchild, and the
Queen had made it known to him that she considered Bess Pierrepoint to
have too much of her grandmother's conditions to be likely to be a good
wife.  There was a laugh too, scarce controlled by some of the less
well-mannered of the suite, especially as the Earl, wishing to punish
his presumption, loudly set the example.

There was a pause, as the discomfited secretary came back, and the
guide exclaimed, "Come, my masters, be not daunted!  Will none of you
come on?  Hath none of you faith in your love?  Oh, fie!"

"We are married men, good women," said Richard, hoping to put an end to
the scene, "and thus can laugh at your well."

"But will not these pretty ladies try it?  It speaks as sooth to lass
as to lad."

"I am ready," said Barbara Mowbray, as Curll gave her his hand to bound
lightly down the steps.  And to the general amazement, no sooner had
"Gilbert" echoed from her lips than the fountains again burst forth,
the water rose, and she had no difficulty in reaching it, while no one
could help bursting forth in applause.  Her Gilbert fervently kissed
the hand she gave him to aid her steps up the slope, and Dame Emmott,
in triumphant congratulation, scanned them over and exclaimed, "Ay,
trust the well for knowing true sweetheart and true maid.  Come you
next, fair mistress?"  Poor Mary Seaton shook her head, with a look
that the kindly woman understood, and she turned towards Cicely, who
had a girl's unthinking impulse of curiosity, and had already put her
hand into Humfrey's, when his father exclaimed, "Nay, nay, the maid is
yet too young!" and the Queen added, "Come back, thou silly little one,
these tests be not for babes like thee."

She was forced to be obedient, but she pouted a little as she was
absolutely held fast by Richard Talbot's strong hand.  Humfrey was
disappointed too; but all was bright with him just then, and as the
party turned to make the descent, he said to her, "It matters not,
little Cis!  I'm sure of thee with the water or without, and after all,
thou couldst but have whispered my name, till my father lets us speak
all out!"

They were too much hemmed in by other people for a private word, and a
little mischievous banter was going on with Sir Andrew Melville, who
was supposed to have a grave elderly courtship with Mistress Kennedy.
Humfrey was left in the absolute bliss of ignorance, while the old
habit and instinct of joy and gladness in his presence reasserted
itself in Cis, so that, as he handed her down the rocks, she answered
in the old tone all his inquiries about his mother, and all else that
concerned them at home, Diccon meantime risking his limbs by scrambling
outside the path, to keep abreast of his brother, and to put in his
word whenever he could.

On reaching the smithy, Humfrey had to go round another way to fetch
his horse, and could hardly hope to come up with the rest before they
reached Buxton.  His brother was spared to go with him, but his father
was too important a part of the escort to be spared.  So Cicely rode
near the Queen, and heard no more except the Earl's version of Dr.
Jones's explanation of the intermitting spring.  They reached home only
just in time to prepare for supper, and the two youths appeared almost
simultaneously, so that Mistress Talbot, sitting at her needle on the
broad terrace in front of the Earl's lodge, beheld to her amazement and
delight the figure that, grown and altered as it was, she recognised in
an instant.  In another second Humfrey had sprung from his horse,
rushed up the steps, he knew not how, and the Queen, with tears
trembling in her eyes was saying, "Ah, Melville! see how sons meet
their mothers!"

The great clock was striking seven, a preposterously late hour for
supper, and etiquette was stronger than sentiment or perplexity. Every
one hastened to assume an evening toilette, for a riding-dress would
have been an insult to the Earl, and the bell soon clanged to call them
down to their places in the hall.  Even Humfrey had brought in his
cloak-bag wherewithal to make himself presentable, and soon appeared, a
well-knit and active figure, in a plain dark blue jerkin, with white
slashes, and long hose knitted by his mother's dainty fingers, and
well-preserved shoes with blue rosettes, and a flat blue velvet cap,
with an exquisite black and sapphire feather in it fastened by a
curious brooch.  His hair was so short that its naturally strong curl
could hardly be seen, his ruddy sunburnt face could hardly be called
handsome, but it was full of frankness and intelligence, and beaming
with honest joy, and close to him moved little Diccon, hardly able to
repress his ecstasy within company bounds, and letting it find vent in
odd little gestures, wriggling with his body, playing tunes on his
knee, or making dancing-steps with his feet.

Lord Shrewsbury welcomed his young kinsman as one who had grown from a
mere boy into a sturdy and effective supporter.  He made the new-comer
sit near him, and asked many questions, so that Humfrey was the chief
speaker all supper time, with here and there a note from his father,
the only person who had made the same voyage.  All heard with eager
interest of the voyage, the weeds in the Gulf Stream, the strange birds
and fishes, of Walter Raleigh's Virginian colony and its ill success,
of the half-starved men whom Sir Richard Grenville had found only too
ready to leave Roanoake, of dark-skinned Indians, of chases of Spanish
ships, of the Peak of Teneriffe rising white from the waves, of
phosphorescent seas, of storms, and of shark-catching.

Supper over, the audience again gathered round the young traveller, a
perfect fountain of various and wonderful information to those who had
for the most part never seen a book of travels.  He narrated simply and
well, without his boyish shy embarrassment and awkwardness, and
likewise, as his father alone could judge, without boasting, though, if
to no one else, to Diccon and Cis, listening with wide open eyes, he
seemed a hero of heroes.  In the midst of his narration a message came
that the Queen of Scots requested the presence of Mistress Cicely.
Humfrey stared in discomfiture, and asked when she would return.

"Not to-night," faltered the girl, and the mother added, for the
benefit of the bystanders, "For lack of other ladies of the household,
much service hath of late fallen to Cicely and myself, and she shares
the Queen's chamber."

Humfrey had to submit to exchange good-nights with Cicely, and she made
her way less willingly than usual to the apartments of the Queen, who
was being made ready for her bed.  "Here comes our truant," she
exclaimed as the maiden entered.  "I sent to rescue thee from the
western seafarer who had clawed thee in his tarry clutch. Thou didst
act the sister's part passing well.  I hear my Lord and all his meine
have been sitting, open-mouthed, hearkening to his tales of savages and

"O madam, he told us of such lovely isles," said Cis.  "The sea, he
said, is blue, bluer than we can conceive, with white waves of dazzling
surf, breaking on islands fringed with white shells and coral, and with
palms, their tops like the biggest ferns in the brake, and laden with
red golden fruit as big as goose eggs.  And the birds!  O madam, my
mother, the birds!  They are small, small as our butterflies and
beetles, and they hang hovering and quivering over a flower so that
Humfrey thought they were moths, for he saw nothing but a whizzing and
a whirring till he smote the pretty thing dead, and then he said that I
should have wept for pity, for it was a little bird with a long bill,
and a breast that shines red in one light, purple in another, and
flame-coloured in a third.  He has brought home the little skin and
feathers of it for me."

"Thou hast supped full of travellers' tales, my simple child."

"Yea, madam, but my Lord listened, and made Humfrey sit beside him, and
made much of him--my Lord himself!  I would fain bring him to you,
madam.  It is so wondrous to hear him tell of the Red Men with crowns
of feathers and belts of beads.  Such gentle savages they be, and their
chiefs as courteous and stately as any of our princes, and yet those
cruel Spaniards make them slaves and force them to dig in mines, so
that they die and perish under their hands."

"And better so than that they should not come to the knowledge of the
faith," said Mary.

"I forgot that your Grace loves the Spaniards," said Cis, much in the
tone in which she might have spoken of a taste in her Grace for
spiders, adders, or any other noxious animal.

"One day my child will grow out of her little heretic prejudices, and
learn to love her mother's staunch friends, the champions of Holy
Church, and the representatives of true knighthood in these degenerate
days.  Ah, child! couldst thou but see a true Spanish caballero, or
again, could I but show thee my noble cousin of Guise, then wouldst
thou know how to rate these gross clownish English mastiffs who now
turn thy silly little brain.  Ah, that thou couldst once meet a true

"The well," murmured Cicely.

"Tush, child," said the Queen, amused.  "What of that?  Thy name is not
Cis, is it?  'Tis only the slough that serves thee for the nonce. The
good youth will find himself linked to some homely, housewifely Cis in
due time, when the Princess Bride is queening it in France or Austria,
and will own that the well was wiser than he."

Poor Cis!  If her inmost heart declared Humfrey Talbot to be prince
enough for her, she durst not entertain the sentiment, not knowing
whether it were unworthy, and while Marie de Courcelles read aloud a
French legend of a saint to soothe the Queen to sleep, she lay longing
after the more sympathetic mother, and wondering what was passing in
the hall.

Richard Talbot had communed with his wife's eyes, and made up his mind
that Humfrey should know the full truth before the Queen should enjoin
his being put off with the story of the parentage she had invented for
Bride Hepburn; and while some of the gentlemen followed their habit of
sitting late over the wine cup, he craved their leave to have his son
to himself a little while, and took him out in the summer twilight on
the greensward, going through the guards, for whom he, as the gentleman
warder, had the password of the night.  In compliment to the expedition
of the day it had been made "True love and the Flowing Well."  It
sounded agreeable in Humfrey's ears; he repeated it again, and then
added "Little Cis! she hath come to woman's estate, and she hath caught
some of the captive lady's pretty tricks of the head and hands.  How
long hath she been so thick with her?"

"Since this journey.  I have to speak with thee, my son."

"I wait your pleasure, sir," said Humfrey, and as his father paused a
moment ere communicating his strange tidings, he rendered the matter
less easy by saying, "I guess your purpose.  If I may at once wed my
little Cis I will send word to Sir John Norreys that I am not for this
expedition to the Low Countries, though there is good and manly work to
be done there, and I have the offer of a command, but I gave not my
word till I knew your will, and whether we might wed at once."

"Thou hast much to hear, my son."

"Nay, surely no one has come between!" exclaimed Humfrey.  "Methought
she was less frank and more coy than of old.  If that sneaking traitor
Babington hath been making up to her I will slit his false gullet for

"Hush, hush, Humfrey! thy seafaring boasts skill not here.  No _man_
hath come between thee and yonder poor maid."

"Poor!  You mean not that she is sickly.  Were she so, I would so tend
her that she should be well for mere tenderness.  But no, she was the
very image of health.   No man, said you, father?  Then it is a woman.
Ah! my Lady Countess is it, bent on making her match her own way?  Sir,
you are too good and upright to let a tyrannous dame like that sever
between us, though she be near of kin to us.  My mother might scruple
to cross her, but you have seen the world, sir."

"My lad, you are right in that it is a woman who stands between you and
Cis, but it is not the Countess.  None would have the right to do so,
save the maiden's own mother."

"Her mother!  You have discovered her lineage!  Can she have ought
against me?--I, your son, sir, of the Talbot blood, and not ill

"Alack, son, the Talbot may be a good dog but the lioness will scarce
esteem him her mate.  Riddles apart, it is proved beyond question that
our little maid is of birth as high as it is unhappy.  Thou canst be
secret, I know, Humfrey, and thou must be silent as the grave, for it
touches my honour and the poor child's liberty."

"Who is she, then?" demanded Humfrey sharply.

His father pointed to the Queen's window.  Humfrey stared at him, and
muttered an ejaculation, then exclaimed, "How and when was this known?"

Richard went over the facts, giving as few names as possible, while his
son stood looking down and drawing lines with the point of his sword.

"I hoped," ended the father, "that these five years' absence might have
made thee forget thy childish inclination;" and as Humfrey, without
raising his face, emphatically shook his head, he went on to add-- "So,
my dear son, meseemeth that there is no remedy, but that, for her peace
and thine own, thou shouldest accept this offer of brave Norreys, and
by the time the campaign is ended, they may be both safe in Scotland,
out of reach of vexing thy heart, my poor boy."

"Is it so sure that her royal lineage will be owned?" muttered Humfrey.
"Out on me for saying so!  But sure this lady hath made light enough of
her wedlock with yonder villain."

"Even so, but that was when she deemed its offspring safe beneath the
waves.  I fear me that, however our poor damsel be regarded, she will
be treated as a mere bait and tool.  If not bestowed on some foreign
prince (and there hath been talk of dukes and archdukes), she may serve
to tickle the pride of some Scottish thief, such as was her father."

"Sir! sir! how can you speak patiently of such profanation and cruelty?
Papist butchers and Scottish thieves, for the child of your hearth!
Were it not better that I stole her safely away and wedded her in
secret, so that at least she might have an honest husband?"

"Nay, his honesty would scarce be thus manifest," said Richard, "even
if the maid would consent, which I think she would not.  Her head is
too full of her new greatness to have room for thee, my poor lad. Best
that thou shouldest face the truth.  And, verily, what is it but her
duty to obey her mother, her true and veritable mother, Humfrey? It is
but making her ease harder, and adding to her griefs, to strive to
awaken any inclination she may have had for thee; and therefore it is
that I counsel thee, nay, I might command thee, to absent thyself while
it is still needful that she remain with us, passing for our daughter."

Humfrey still traced lines with his sword in the dust.  He had always
been a strong-willed though an obedient and honourable boy, and his
father felt that these five years had made a man of him, whom, in spite
of mediaeval obedience, it was not easy to dispose of arbitrarily.

"There's no haste," he muttered.  "Norreys will not go till my Lord of
Leicester's commission be made out.  It is five years since I was at

"My son, thou knowest that I would not send thee from me willingly. I
had not done so ere now, but that it was well for thee to know the
world and men, and Sheffield is a mere nest of intrigue and falsehood,
where even if one keeps one's integrity, it is hard to be believed.
But for my Lord, thy mother, and my poor folk, I would gladly go with
thee to strike honest downright blows at a foe I could see and feel,
rather than be nothing better than a warder, and be driven distracted
with women's tongues.  Why, they have even set division between my Lord
and his son Gilbert, who was ever the dearest to him.  Young as he is,
methinks Diccon would be better away with thee than where the very air
smells of plots and lies."

"I trow the Queen of Scots will not be here much longer," said Humfrey.
"Men say in London that Sir Ralf Sadler is even now setting forth to
take charge of her, and send my Lord to London."

"We have had such hopes too often, my son," said Richard.  "Nay, she
hath left us more than once, but always to fall back upon Sheffield
like a weight to the ground.  But she is full of hope in her son, now
that he is come of age, and hath put to death her great foe, the Earl
of Morton."

"The poor lady might as well put her faith in--in a jelly-fish," said
Humfrey, falling on a comparison perfectly appreciated by the old

"Heh?  She will get naught but stings.  How knowest thou?"

"Why, do none know here that King James is in the hands of him they
call the Master of Gray?"

"Queen Mary puts in him her chief hope."

"Then she hath indeed grasped a jelly-fish.  Know you not, father,
those proud and gay ones, with rose-coloured bladders and long blue
beards--blue as the azure of a herald's coat?"

"Ay, marry I do.  I remember when I was a lad, in my first voyage,
laying hold on one.  I warrant you I danced about till I was nearly
overboard, and my arm was as big as two for three days later.  Is the
fellow of that sort?  The false Scot."

"Look you, father, I met in London that same Johnstone who was one of
this lady's gentlemen at one time.  You remember him.  He breakfasted
at Bridgefield once or twice ere the watch became more strict."

"Yea, I remember him.  He was an honest fellow for a Scot."

"When he made out that I was the little lad he remembered, he was very
courteous, and desired his commendations to you and to my mother.  He
had been in Scotland, and had come south in the train of this rogue,
Gray.  I took him to see the old Pelican, and we had a breakfast aboard
there.  He asked much after his poor Queen, whom he loves as much as
ever, and when he saw I was a man he could trust, your true son, he
said that he saw less hope for her than ever in Scotland--her friends
have been slain or exiled, and the young generation that has grown up
have learned to dread her like an incarnation of the scarlet one of
Babylon.  Their preachers would hail her as Satan loosed on them, and
the nobles dread nothing so much as being made to disgorge the lands of
the Crown and the Church, on which they are battening.  As to her son,
he was fain enough to break forth from one set of tutors, and the
messages of France and Spain tickled his fancy--but he is nought.  He
is crammed with scholarship, and not without a shrewd apprehension;
but, with respect be it spoken, more the stuff that court fools are
made of than kings. It may be, as a learned man told Johnstone, that
the shock the Queen suffered when the brutes put Davy to death before
her eyes, three months ere his birth, hath damaged his constitution,
for he is at the mercy of whosoever chooses to lead him, and hath no
will of his own. This Master of Gray was at first inclined to the
Queen's party, thinking more might be got by a reversal of all things,
but now he finds the king's men so strong in the saddle, and the
Queen's French kindred like to be too busy at home to aid her, what
doth he do, but list to our Queen's offers, and this ambassage of his,
which hath a colour of being for Queen Mary's release, is verily to
make terms with my Lord Treasurer and Sir Francis Walsingham for the
pension he is to have for keeping his king in the same mind."

"Turning a son against a mother!  I marvel that honourable counsellors
can bring themselves to the like."

"Policy, sir, policy," said Humfrey.  "And this Gray maketh a fine show
of chivalry and honour, insomuch that Sir Philip Sidney himself hath
desired his friendship; but, you see, the poor lady is as far from
freedom as she was when first she came to Sheffield."

"She is very far from believing it, poor dame.  I am sorry for her,
Humfrey, more sorry than I ever thought I could be, now I have seen
more of her.  My Lord himself says he never knew her break a promise.
How gracious she is there is no telling."

"That we always knew," said Humfrey, looking somewhat amazed, that his
honoured father should have fallen under the spell of the "siren
between the cold earth and moon."

"Yes, gracious, and of a wondrous constancy of mind, and evenness of
temper," said Richard.  "Now that thy mother and I have watched her
more closely, we can testify that, weary, worn, and sick of body and of
heart as she is, she never letteth a bitter or a chiding word pass her
lips towards her servants.  She hath nothing to lose by it. Their
fidelity is proven.  They would stand by her to the last, use them as
she would, but assuredly their love must be doubly bound up in her when
they see how she regardeth them before herself.  Let what will be said
of her, son Humfrey, I shall always maintain that I never saw woman,
save thine own good mother, of such evenness of condition, and
sweetness of consideration for all about her, ay, and patience in
adversity, such as, Heaven forbid, thy mother should ever know."

"Amen, and verily amen," said Humfrey.  "Deem you then that she hath
not worked her own woe?"

"Nay, lad, what saith the Scripture, 'Judge not, and ye shall not be
judged'?  How should I know what hath passed seventeen years back in

"Ay, but for present plots and intrigues, judge you her a true woman?"

"Humfrey, thou hadst once a fox in a cage.  When it found it vain to
dash against the bars, rememberest thou how it scratched away the earth
in the rear, and then sat over the hole it had made, lest we should see

"The fox, say you, sir?  Then you cannot call her ought but false."

"They tell me," said Sir Richard, "that ever since an Italian named
Machiavel wrote his Book of the Prince, statecraft hath been craft
indeed, and princes suck in deceit with the very air they breathe. Ay,
boy, it is what chiefly vexes me in the whole.  I cannot doubt that she
is never so happy as when there is a plot or scheme toward, not merely
for her own freedom, but the utter overthrow of our own gracious
Sovereign, who, if she hath kept this lady in durance, hath shielded
her from her own bloodthirsty subjects.  And for dissembling, I never
saw her equal.  Yet she, as thy mother tells me, is a pious and devout
woman, who bears her troubles thus cheerfully and patiently, because
she deems them a martyrdom for her religion. Ay, all women are riddles,
they say, but this one the most of all!"

"Thinkest thou that she hath tampered with--with that poor maiden's
faith?" asked Humfrey huskily.

"I trow not yet, my son," replied Richard;  "Cis is as open as ever to
thy mother, for I cannot believe she hath yet learnt to dissemble, and
I greatly suspect that the Queen, hoping to return to Scotland, may be
willing to keep her a Protestant, the better to win favour with her
brother and the lords of his council; but if he be such a cur as thou
sayest, all hope of honourable release is at an end.  So thou seest,
Humfrey, how it lies, and how, in my judgment, to remain here is but to
wring thine own heart, and bring the wench and thyself to sore straits.
I lay not my commands on thee, a man grown, but such is my opinion on
the matter."

"I will not disobey you, father," said Humfrey, "but suffer me to
consider the matter."



  Buxtona, quae calidae celebraris nomine lymphae
  Forte mihi post hac non adeunda, Vale.

  (Buxton of whose warm waters men tell,
  Perchance I ne'er shall see thee more, Farewell.)

Thus wrote Queen Mary with a diamond upon her window pane, smiling as
she said, "There, we will leave a memento over which the admirable Dr.
Jones will gloat his philosophical soul.  Never may I see thee more,
Buxton, yet never thought I to be so happy as I have here been."

She spoke with the tenderness of farewell to the spot which had always
been the pleasantest abode of the various places of durance which had
been hers in England.  Each year she had hoped would be her last of
such visits, but on this occasion everything seemed to point to a close
to the present state of things, since not only were the negotiations
with Scotland apparently prosperous, but Lord Shrewsbury had obtained
an absolute promise from Elizabeth that she would at all events relieve
him from his onerous and expensive charge.  Thus there was general
cheerfulness, as the baggage was bestowed in carts and on beasts of
burthen, and Mary, as she stood finishing her inscription on the
window, smiled sweetly and graciously on Mistress Talbot, and gave her
joy of the arrival of her towardly and hopeful son, adding, "We
surprised him at the well!  May his Cis, who is yet to be found, I
trow, reward his lealty!"

That was all the notice Mary deigned to take of the former relations
between her daughter and young Talbot.  She did not choose again to beg
for secrecy when she was sure to hear that she had been forestalled,
and she was too consummate a judge of character not to have learnt
that, though she might despise the dogged, simple straightforwardness
of Richard and Susan Talbot, their honour was perfectly trustworthy.
She was able for the present to keep her daughter almost entirely to
herself, since, on the return to Sheffield, the former state of things
was resumed.  The Bridgefield family was still quartered in the
Manor-house, and Mistress Talbot continued to be, as it were, Lady
Warder to the captive in the place of the Countess, who obstinately
refused to return while Mary was still in her husband's keeping.
Cicely, as Mary's acknowledged favourite, was almost always in her
apartments, except at the meals of the whole company of Shrewsbury
kinsfolk and retainers, when her place was always far removed from that
of Humfrey.  In truth, if ever an effort might have obtained a few
seconds of private conversation, a strong sense of embarrassment and
perplexity made the two young people fly apart rather than come
together.  They knew not what they wished.  Humfrey might in his secret
soul long for a token that Cis remembered his faithful affection, and
yet he knew that to elicit one might do her life-long injury.  So,
however he might crave for word or look when out of sight of her, an
honourable reluctance always withheld him from seeking any such sign in
the short intervals when he could have tried to go beneath the surface.
On the other hand, this apparent indifference piqued her pride, and
made her stiff, cold, and almost disdainful whenever there was any
approach between them.  Her vanity might be flattered by the knowledge
that she was beyond his reach; but it would have been still more
gratified could she have discovered any symptoms of pining and
languishing after her. She might peep at him from under her eyelashes
in chapel and in hall; but in the former place his gaze always seemed
to be on the minister, in the latter he showed no signs of flagging as
a trencher companion. Both mothers thought her marvellously discreet;
but neither beheld the strange tumult in her heart, where were surging
pride, vanity, ambition, and wounded affection.

In a few days, Sir Ralf Sadler and his son-in-law Mr. Somer arrived at
Sheffield in order to take the charge of the prisoner whilst Shrewsbury
went to London.  The conferences and consultations were endless, and
harassing, and it was finally decided that the Earl should escort her
to Wingfield, and, leaving her there under charge of Sadler, should
proceed to London.  She made formal application for Mistress Cicely
Talbot to accompany her as one of her suite, and her supposed parents
could not but give their consent, but six gentlewomen had been already
enumerated, and the authorities would not consent to her taking any
more ladies with her, and decreed that Mistress Cicely must remain at

"This unkindness has made the parting from this place less joyous than
I looked for," said Mary, "but courage, ma mignonne.  Soon shall I send
for thee to Scotland, and there shalt thou burst thine husk, and show
thyself in thy true colours;" and turning to Susan, "Madam, I must
commit my treasure to her who has so long watched over her."

"Your Grace knows that she is no less my treasure," said Susan.

"I should have known it well," returned the Queen, "from the innocence
and guilelessness of the damsel.  None save such a mother as Mistress
Talbot could have made her what she is.  Credit me, madam, I have
looked well into her heart, and found nought to undo there.  You have
bred her up better than her poor mother could have done, and I gladly
entrust her once more to your care, assured that your well-tried honour
will keep her in mind of what she is, and to what she may be called."

"She shall remember it, madam," said Susan.

"When I am a Queen once more," said Mary, "all I can give will seem too
poor a meed for what you have been to my child.  Even as Queen of
Scotland or England itself, my power would be small in comparison with
my will.  My gratitude, however, no bounds can limit out to me."

And with tears of tenderness and thankfulness she kissed the cheeks and
lips of good Mistress Talbot, who could not but likewise weep for the
mother thus compelled to part with her child.

The night was partly spent in caresses and promises of the brilliant
reception preparing in Scotland, with auguries of the splendid marriage
in store, with a Prince of Lorraine, or even with an Archduke.

Cis was still young enough to dream of such a lot as an opening to a
fairy land of princely glories.  If her mother knew better, she still
looked tenderly back on her beau pays de France with that halo of
brightness which is formed only in childhood and youth.  Moreover, it
might be desirable to enhance such aspiration as might best secure the
young princess from anything derogatory to her real rank, while she was
strongly warned against betraying it, and especially against any
assumption of dignity should she ever hear of her mother's release,
reception, and recognition in Scotland.  For whatever might be the
maternal longings, it would be needful to feel the way and prepare the
ground for the acknowledgment of Bothwell's daughter in Scotland, while
the knowledge of her existence in England would almost surely lead to
her being detained as a hostage.  She likewise warned the maiden never
to regard any letter or billet from her as fully read till it had been
held--without witnesses--to the fire.

Of Humfrey Talbot, Queen Mary scorned to say anything, or to utter a
syllable that she thought a daughter of Scotland needed a warning
against a petty English sailor.  Indeed, she had confidence that the
youth's parents would view the attachment as quite as undesirable for
him as for the young princess, and would guard against it for his sake
as much as for hers.

The true parting took place ere the household was astir.  Afterwards,
Mary, fully equipped for travelling, in a dark cloth riding-dress and
hood, came across to the great hall of the Manor-house, and there sat
while each one of the attendants filed in procession, as it were,
before her.  To each lady she presented some small token wrought by her
own hands.  To each gentleman she also gave some trinket, such as the
elaborate dress of the time permitted, and to each serving man or maid
a piece of money.  Of each one she gravely but gently besought pardon
for all the displeasures or offences she might have caused them, and as
they replied, kissing her hand, many of them with tears, she returned a
kiss on the brow to each woman and an entreaty to be remembered in
their prayers, and a like request, with a pressure of the hand, to each
man or boy.

It must have been a tedious ceremony, and yet to every one it seemed as
if Mary put her whole heart into it, and to any to whom she owed
special thanks they were freely paid.

The whole was only over by an hour before noon.  Then she partook of a
manchet and a cup of wine, drinking, with liquid eyes, to the health
and prosperity of her good host, and to the restoration of his family
peace, which she had so sorely, though unwittingly, disturbed.

Then she let him hand her out, once more kissing Susan Talbot and Cis,
who was weeping bitterly, and whispering to the latter, "Not over much
grief, ma petite; not more than may befit, ma mignonne."

Lord Shrewsbury lifted her on her horse, and, with him on one side and
Sir Ralf Sadler on the other, she rode down the long avenue on her way
to Wingfield.

The Bridgefield family had already made their arrangements, and their
horses were waiting for them amid the jubilations of Diccon and Ned.
The Queen had given each of them a fair jewel, with special thanks to
them for being good brothers to her dear Cis.  "As if one wanted thanks
for being good to one's own sister," said Ned, thrusting the delicate
little ruby brooch on his mother to be taken care of till his days of
foppery should set in, and he would need it for cap and plume.

"Come, Cis, we are going home at last," said Diccon.  "What! thou art
not breaking thine heart over yonder Scottish lady--when we are going
home, home, I say, and have got rid of watch and ward for ever?
Hurrah!" and he threw up his cap, and was joined in the shout by more
than one of the youngsters around, for Richard and most of the elders
were escorting the Queen out of the park, and Mistress Susan had been
summoned on some question of household stuff.  Cis, however, stood
leaning against the balustrade, over which she had leant for the last
glance exchanged with her mother, her face hidden in her hands and
kerchief, weeping bitterly, feeling as if all the glory and excitement
of the last few weeks had vanished as a dream and left her to the
dreary dulness of common life, as little insignificant Cis Talbot again.

It was Humfrey who first came near, almost timidly touched her hand,
and said, "Cheer up.  It is but for a little while, mayhap.  She will
send for thee.  Come, here is thine old palfrey--poor old Dapple. Let
me put thee on him, and for this brief time let us feign that all is as
it was, and thou art my little sister once more."

"I know not which is truth and which is dreaming," said Cis, waking up
through her tears, but resigning her hand to him, and letting him lift
her to her seat on the old pony which had been the playfellow of both.
If it had been an effort to Humfrey to prolong the word Cis into
sister, he was rewarded for it.  It gave the key-note to their
intercourse, and set her at ease with him; and the idea that her
present rustication was but a comedy instead of a reality was consoling
in her present frame of mind.  Mistress Susan, surrounded with
importunate inquirers as to household matters, and unable to escape
from them, could only see that Humfrey had taken charge of the maiden,
and trusted to his honour and his tact.  This was, however, only the
beginning of a weary and perplexing time.  Nothing could restore Cis to
her old place in the Bridgefield household, or make her look upon its
tasks, cares, and joys as she had done only a few short months ago.
Her share in them could only be acting, and she was too artless and
simple to play a part.  Most frequently she was listless, dull, and
pining, so much inclined to despise and neglect the ordinary household
occupations which befitted the daughter of the family, that her adopted
mother was forced, for the sake of her incognito, to rouse, and often
to scold her when any witnesses were present who would have thought
Mrs. Talbot's toleration of such conduct in a daughter suspicious and

Such reproofs were dangerous in another way, for Humfrey could not bear
to hear them, and was driven nearly to the verge of disrespect and
perilous approaches to implying that Cis was no ordinary person to be
sharply reproved when she sat musing and sighing instead of sewing
Diccon's shirts.

Even the father himself could not well brook to hear the girl blamed,
and both he and Humfrey could not help treating her with a kind of
deference that made the younger brothers gape and wonder what had come
to Humfrey on his travels "to make him treat our Cis as a born

"You irreverent varlets," said Humfrey, "you have yet to learn that
every woman ought to be treated as a born princess."

"By cock and pie," said spoilt Ned, "that beats all!  One's own sister!"

Whereupon Humfrey had the opportunity of venting a little of his
vexation by thrashing his brother for his oath, while sharp Diccon
innocently asked if men never swore by anything when at sea, and
thereby nearly got another castigation for irreverent mocking of his
elder brother's discipline.

At other times the girl's natural activity and high spirits gained the
upper hand, and she would abandon herself without reserve to the old
homely delights of Bridgefield.  At the apple gathering, she was
running about, screaming with joy, and pelting the boys with apples,
more as she had done at thirteen than at seventeen, and when called to
order she inconsistently pleaded, "Ah, mother! it is for the last time.
Do but let me have my swing!" putting on a wistful and caressing look,
which Susan did not withstand when the only companions were the three
brothers, since Humfrey had much of her own unselfishness and
self-command, resulting in a discretion that was seldom at fault.

And that discretion made him decide at a fortnight's end that his
father had been right, and that it would be better for him to absent
himself from where he could do no good, but only added to the general
perplexity, and involved himself in the temptation of betraying the
affection he knew to be hopeless.

Before, however, it was possible to fit out either Diccon or the four
men who were anxious to go under the leadership of Master Humfrey of
Bridgefield, the Earl and Countess of Shrewsbury were returning fully
reconciled.  Queen Elizabeth had made the Cavendishes ask pardon on
their knees of the Earl for their slanders; and he, in his joy, had
freely forgiven all.  Gilbert Talbot and his wife had shared in the
general reconciliation.  His elder brother's death had made him the
heir apparent, and all were coming home again, including the little
Lady Arbell, once more to fill the Castle and the Manor-house, and to
renew the free hospitable life of a great feudal chief, or of the
Queen's old courtier, with doors wide open, and no ward or suspicion.

Richard rejoiced that his sons, before going abroad, should witness the
return to the old times which had been at an end before they could
remember Sheffield distinctly.  The whole family were drawn up as usual
to receive them, when the Earl and Countess arrived first of all at the

The Countess looked smaller, thinner, older, perhaps a trifle more
shrewish, but she had evidently suffered much, and was very glad to
have recovered her husband and her home.

"So, Susan Talbot," was her salutation, "you have thriven, it seems.
You have been playing the part of hostess, I hear."

"Only so far as might serve his Lordship, madam."

"And the wench, there, what call you her?  Ay, Cicely.  I hear the
Scottish Queen hath been cockering her up and making her her bedfellow,
till she hath spoilt her for a reasonable maiden.  Is it so?  She looks

"I trust not, madam," said Susan.

"She grows a strapping wench, and we must find her a good husband to
curb her pride.  I have a young man already in my eye for her."

"So please your Ladyship, we do not think of marrying her as yet,"
returned Susan, in consternation.

"Tilly vally, Susan Talbot, tell me not such folly as that.  Why, the
maid is over seventeen at the very least!  Save for all the coil this
Scottish woman and her crew have made, I should have seen her well
mated a year ago."

Here was a satisfactory prospect for Mistress Susan, bred as she had
been to unquestioning submission to the Countess.  There was no more to
be said on that occasion, as the great lady passed on to bestow her
notice on others of her little court.

Humfrey meantime had been warmly greeted by the younger men of the
suite, and one of them handed him a letter which filled him with
eagerness.  It was from an old shipmate, who wrote, not without
sanction, to inform him that Sir Francis Drake was fitting out an
expedition, with the full consent of the Queen, to make a descent upon
the Spaniards, and that there was no doubt that if he presented himself
at Plymouth, he would obtain either the command, or at any rate the
lieutenancy, of one of the numerous ships which were to be
commissioned.  Humfrey was before all else a sailor.  He had made no
engagement to Sir John Norreys, and many of the persons engaged on this
expedition were already known to him.  It was believed that the attack
was to be upon Spain itself, and the notion filled him with ardour and
excitement that almost drove Cicely out of his mind, as he laid the
proposal before his father.

Richard was scarcely less excited.  "You young lads are in luck," he
said.  "I sailed for years and never had more than a chance brush with
the Don; never the chance of bearding him on his own shores!"

"Come with us, then, father," entreated Humfrey.  "Sir Francis would be
overjoyed to see you.  You would get the choicest ship to your share."

"Nay, nay, my boy, tempt me not; I cannot leave your mother to meet all
the coils that may fall in her way!  No; I'm too old.  I've lost my sea
legs.  I leave thee to win the fame, son Humfrey!"

The decision was thus made, and Humfrey and Diccon were to start
together for London first, and then for Plymouth, the second day after
a great festival for the wedding of the little Alethea, daughter of
Gilbert, Lord Talbot--still of very tender age--to the young heir of
Arundel.  The Talbot family had been precluded from holding festival
for full fourteen years, or indeed from entertaining any guests, save
the Commissioners sent down to confer from time to time with the
captive Queen, so that it was no wonder that they were in the highest
possible spirits at their release, and determined to take the first
opportunity of exercising the gorgeous hospitality of the Tudor times.

Posts went out, riding round all the neighbourhood with invitations.
The halls were swept and adorned with the best suit of hangings.  All
the gentlemen, young and old, all the keepers and verdurers, were put
in requisition to slaughter all the game, quadruped and biped, that
fell in their way, the village women and children were turned loose on
the blackberries, cranberries, and bilberries, and all the ladies and
serving-women were called on to concoct pasties of many stories high,
subtilties of wonderful curiosity, sweetmeats and comfits, cakes and
marchpanes worthy of Camacho's wedding, or to deck the halls with green
boughs, and weave garlands of heather and red berries.

Cis absolutely insisted, so that the heads of the household gave way,
on riding out with Richard and Humfrey when they had a buck to mark
down in Rivelin Chase.  And she set her heart on going out to gather
cranberries in the park, flinging herself about with petulant
irritation when Dame Susan showed herself unwilling to permit a
proceeding which was thought scarcely becoming in any well-born damsel
of the period.  "Ah, child, child! thou wilt have to bear worse
restraints than these," she said, "if ever thou comest to thy

Cis made no answer, but threw herself into a chair and pouted.

The next morning she did not present herself at the usual hour; but
just as the good mother was about to go in quest of her to her chamber,
a clear voice came singing up the valley--

          "Berries to sell! berries to sell!
           Berries fresh from moorland fell!"

And there stood a girl in peasant dress, with short petticoats, stout
shoes soaked in dew, a round face under black brows, and cheeks glowing
in morning freshness; and a boy swung the other handle of the basket
overflowing with purple berries.

It was but a shallow disguise betrayed by the two roguish faces, and
the good mother was so pleased to see Cis smile merrily again, that she
did not scold over the escapade.

Yet the inconsistent girl hotly refused to go up to the castle and help
to make pastry for her mother's bitter and malicious foe, and Sir
Richard shook his head and said she was in the right on't, and should
not be compelled.  So Susan found herself making lame excuses, which
did not avert a sharp lecture from the Countess on the cockering of her



Festivals in the middle ages were conducted by day rather than by
night, and it was a bright noonday sun that shone upon the great hall
at Sheffield, bedecked with rich tapestry around the dais, where the
floor was further spread with Eastern carpets.  Below, the garniture of
the walls was of green boughs, interspersed between stag's antlers, and
the floor was strewn, in ancient fashion, with the fragrant rush.

All the tables, however, were spread with pure white napery, the
difference being only in texture, but the higher table rejoiced in the
wonderful extravagance of silver plates, while the lower had only
trenchers. As to knives, each guest brought his or her own, and forks
were not yet, but bread, in long fingers of crust, was provided to a
large amount to supply the want.  Splendid salt-cellars, towering as
landmarks to the various degrees of guests, tankards, gilt and parcel
gilt or shining with silver, perfectly swarmed along the board, and the
meanest of the guests present drank from silver-rimmed cups of horn,
while for the very greatest were reserved the tall, slender, opal
Venice glasses, recently purchased by the Countess in London.

The pies, the glory of Yorkshire, surpassed themselves.  The young
bride and bridegroom had the felicity of contemplating one whose crust
was elevated into the altar of Hymen, with their own selves united
thereat, attended by numerous Cupids, made chiefly in paste and sugar,
and with little wings from the feathers of the many slaughtered fowl
within.  As to the jellies, the devices and the subtilties, the pen
refuses to describe them!  It will be enough to say that the wedding
itself was the least part of the entertainment. It was gone through
with very few spectators in the early morning, and the guests only
assembled afterwards to this mighty dinner at a somewhat earlier hour
than they would now to a wedding breakfast. The sewer marshalled all
the guests in pairs according to their rank, having gone through the
roll with his mistress, just as the lady of the house or her
aide-de-camp pairs the guests and puts cards in their plates in modern
times.  Every one was there who had any connection with the Earl; and
Cis, though flashes of recollection of her true claims would come
across her now and then, was unable to keep from being eager about her
first gaiety.  Perhaps the strange life she had led at Buxton, as it
receded in the distance, became more and more unreal and shadowy, and
she was growing back into the simple Cicely she had always believed
herself.  It was with perfectly girlish natural pleasure that she
donned the delicate sky-blue farthingale, embroidered with white lilies
by the skilful hands of the captive Queen, and the daintily-fashioned
little cap of Flanders lace, and practised the pretty dancing steps
which the Queen had amused herself with teaching her long ere they knew
they were mother and daughter.

As Talbots, the Bridgefield family were spectators of the wedding,
after which, one by one, the seneschal paired them off.  Richard was
called away first, then a huge old Yorkshire knight came and bore away
Mrs. Susan, and after an interval, during which the young people
entertained hopes of keeping together in enviable obscurity, the
following summons to the board was heard in a loud voice--

"Master Antony Babington, Esquire, of Dethick; Mistress Cicely Talbot,
of Bridgefield."

Humfrey's brow grew dark with disappointment, but cleared into a
friendly greeting, as there advanced a tall, slender gentleman, of the
well-known fair, pink and white colouring, and yellow hair, apparelled
point device in dark green velvet, with a full delicately crimped ruff,
bowing low as he extended his hand to take that of the young lady,
exchanging at the same time a friendly greeting with his old comrade,
before leading Cis to her place.

On the whole, she was pleased.  Tete-a-tetes with Humfrey were
dreadfully embarrassing, and she felt life so flat without her
nocturnal romance that she was very glad to have some one who would
care to talk to her of the Queen.  In point of fact, such conversation
was prohibited.  In the former days, when there had been much more
intercourse between the Earl's household and the neighbourhood, regular
cautions had been given to every member of it not to discuss the
prisoner or make any communication about her habits.  The younger
generation who had grown up in the time of the closer captivity had
never been instructed in these laws, for the simple reason that they
hardly saw any one.  Antony and Cicely were likewise most comfortably
isolated, for she was flanked by a young esquire, who had no eyes nor
ears save for the fair widow of sixteen whom he had just led in, and
Antony, by a fat and deaf lady, whose only interest was in tasting as
many varieties of good cheer as she could, and trying to discover how
and of what they were compounded. Knowing Mistress Cicely to be a
member of the family, she once or twice referred the question to her
across Antony, but getting very little satisfaction, she gave up the
young lady as a bad specimen of housewifery, and was forced to be
content with her own inductions.

There was plenty of time for Antony to begin with, "Are there as many
conies as ever in the chase?" and to begin on a discussion of all the
memories connected with the free days of childhood, the blackberry and
bilberry gatherings, the hide-and-seek in the rocks and heather, the
consternation when little Dick was lost, the audacious comedy with the
unsuspected spectators, and all the hundred and one recollections, less
memorable perhaps, but no less delightful to both.  It was only thus
gradually that they approached their recent encounter in the Castleton
Cavern, and Antony explained how he had burnt to see his dear Queen and
mistress once again, and that his friends, Tichborne and the rest, were
ready to kiss every footstep she had taken, and almost worshipped him
and John Eyre for contriving this mode of letting them behold the
hitherto unknown object of their veneration.

All that passionate, chivalrous devotion, which in Sidney, Spenser, and
many more attached itself to then-great Gloriana, had in these young
men, all either secretly or openly reconciled to Rome, found its object
in that rival in whom Edmund Spenser only beheld his false Duessa or
snowy Florimel.  And, indeed, romance had in her a congenial heroine,
who needed little self-blinding so to appear.  Her beauty needed no
illusion to be credited.  Even at her age, now over forty, the glimpse
they had had in the fitful torchlight of the cavern had been ravishing,
and had confirmed all they had ever heard of her witching loveliness;
nor did they recollect how that very obscurity might have assisted it.

To their convictions, she was the only legitimate sovereign in the
island, a confessor for their beloved Church, a captive princess and
beauty driven from her throne, and kept in durance by a usurper. Thus
every generous feeling was enlisted in her cause, with nothing to
counterbalance them save the English hatred of the Spaniard, with whom
her cause was inextricably linked; a dread of what might be inflicted
on the country in the triumph of her party; and in some, a strange
inconsistent personal loyalty to Elizabeth; but all these they were
instructed to believe mere temptations and delusions that ought to be
brushed aside as cobwebs.

Antony's Puritan tutor at Cambridge had, as Richard Talbot had
foreboded, done little but add to his detestation of the Reformation,
and he had since fallen in with several of the seminary priests who
were circulating in England.  Some were devoted and pious men, who at
the utmost risk went from house to house to confirm the faith and
constancy of the old families of their own communion.  The saintly
martyr spirit of one of these, whom Antony met in the house of a
kinsman of his mother, had so wrought on him as to bring him heart and
soul back to his mother's profession, in which he had been secretly
nurtured in early childhood, and which had received additional
confirmation at Sheffield, where Queen Mary and her ladies had always
shown that they regarded him as one of themselves, sure to return to
them when he was his own master.  It was not, however, of this that he
spoke to Cis, but whatever she ventured to tell him of the Queen was
listened to with delight as an extreme favour, which set her tongue off
with all the eager pleasure of a girl, telling what she alone can tell.

All through the banquet they talked, for Babington had much to ask of
all the members of the household whom he had known.  And after the
feast was over and the hall was cleared for dancing, Antony was still,
by etiquette, her partner for the evening.  The young bride and
bridegroom had first to perform a stately pavise before the whole
assembly in the centre of the floor, in which, poor young things, they
acquitted themselves much as if they were in the dancing-master's
hands.  Then her father led out his mother, and vice verse. The
bridegroom had no grandparents, but the stately Earl handed forth his
little active wiry Countess, bowing over her with a grand stiff
devotion as genuine and earnest as at their wedding twenty years
previously, for the reconciliation had been complete, and had restored
all her ascendency over him.  Theirs, as Mistress Susan exultingly
agreed with a Hardwicke kinsman not seen for many years, was the
grandest and most featly of all the performances.  All the time each
pair were performing, the others were awaiting their turn, the ladies
in rows on benches or settles, the gentlemen sometimes standing before
them, sometimes sitting on cushions or steps at their feet, sometimes
handing them comfits of sugar or dried fruits.

The number of gentlemen was greatly in excess, so that Humfrey had no
such agreeable occupation, but had to stand in a herd among other young
men, watching with no gratified eye Antony Babington, in a graceful
attitude at Cicely's feet, while she conversed with him with untiring

Humfrey was not the only one to remark them.  Lady Shrewsbury nodded
once or twice to herself as one who had discovered what she sought, and
the next morning a mandate arrived at Bridgefield that Master Richard
and his wife should come to speak with my Lady Countess.

Richard and his son were out of reach, having joined a party of the
guests who had gone out hunting.  Susan had to go alone, for she wished
to keep Cicely as much as possible out of her Ladyship's sight, so she
left the girl in charge of her keys, so that if father brought home any
of the hunters to the midday meal, tankards and glasses might not be

The Countess's summons was to her own bower, a sort of dressing-room,
within her great state bed-room, and with a small glazed window looking
down into the great hall where her ladies sat at work, whence she could
on occasion call down orders or directions or reproofs. Susan had known
what it was to stand in dread of such a window at Chatsworth or
Hardwicke, whence shrill shrieks of objurgation, followed sometimes by
such missiles as pincushions, shoes, or combs. However the window was
now closed, and my Lady sat in her arm-chair, as on a throne, a stool
being set, to which she motioned her kinswoman.

"So!  Susan Talbot," she said, "I have sent for you to do you a good
turn, for you are mine own kinswoman of the Hardwicke blood, and have
ever been reasonably humble and dutiful towards me and my Lord."

Mrs. Talbot did not by any means view this speech as the insult it
would in these days appear to a lady of her birth and position, but
accepted it as the compliment it was intended to be.

"Thus," continued Lady Shrewsbury, "I have always cast about how to
marry that daughter of yours fitly.  It would have been done ere now,
had not that Scottish woman's tongue made mischief between me and my
Lord, but I am come home to rule my own house now, and mine own blood
have the first claim on me."

The alarm always excited by a summons to speak with my Lady Countess
began to acquire definite form, and Susan made answer, "Your Ladyship
is very good, but I doubt me whether my husband desires to bestow
Cicely in marriage as yet."

"He hath surely received no marriage proposals for her without my
knowledge or my Lord's," said Bess of Hardwicke, who was prepared to
strain all feudal claims to the uttermost.

"No, madam, but--"

"Tell me not that you or he have the presumption to think that my son
William Cavendish or even Edward Talbot will ever cast an eye on a mere
portionless country maid, not comely, nor even like the Hardwickes or
the Talbots.  If I thought so for a moment, never shouldst thou darken
these doors again, thou ungrateful, treacherous woman."

"Neither of us ever had the thought, far less the wish," said Susan
most sincerely.

"Well, thou wast ever a simple woman, Susan Talbot," said the great
lady, thereby meaning truthful, "so I will e'en take thy word for it,
the more readily that I made contracts for both the lads when I was at
court.  As to Dick Talbot not being fain to bestow her, I trow that is
because ye have spent too much on your long-legged sons to be able to
lay down a portion for her, though she be your only daughter. Anan?"

For though this was quite true, Susan feeling that it was not the whole
truth, made but faint response.  However, the Countess went on,
expecting to overpower her with gratitude.  "The gentleman I mean is
willing to take her in her smock, and moreover his wardship and
marriage were granted to my Lord by her Majesty.  Thou knowest whom I

She wanted to hear a guess, and Susan actually foreboded the truth, but
was too full of dismay and perplexity to do anything but shake her head
as one puzzled.

"What think'st thou of Mr. Babington?" triumphantly exclaimed the

"Mr. Babington!" returned Susan.  "But he is no longer a ward!"

"No.  We had granted his marriage to a little niece of my Lord
Treasurer's, but she died ere coming to age.  Then Tom Ratcliffe's wife
would have him for her daughter, a mere babe.  But for that thou and
thine husband have done good service while evil tongues kept me absent,
and because the wench comes of our own blood, we are willing to bestow
her upon him, he showing himself willing and content, as bents a lad
bred in our own household."

"Madam, we are much beholden to you and my Lord, but sure Mr. Babington
is more inclined to the old faith."

"Tush, woman, what of that?  Thou mayst say the same of half our
Northern youth!  They think it grand to dabble with seminary priests in
hiding, and talk big about their conscience and the like, but when
they've seen a neighbour or two pay down a heavy fine for recusancy,
they think better of it, and a good wife settles their brains to jog to
church to hear the parson with the rest of them."

"I fear me Cis is over young to settle any one's mind," said Susan.

"She is seventeen if she is a day," said my Lady, "and I was a wedded
wife ere I saw my teens.  Moreover, I will say for thee, Susan, that
thou hast bred the girl as becomes one trained in my household, and
unless she have been spoiled by resort to the Scottish woman, she is
like to make the lad a moderately good wife, having seen nought of the
unthrifty modes of the fine court dames, who queen it with standing
ruffs a foot high, and coloured with turmeric, so please you, but who
know no more how to bake a marchpane, or roll puff paste, than yonder
messan dog!"

"She is a good girl," said Susan, "but--"

"What has the foolish wife to object now?" said the Countess.  "I tell
you I marked them both last eve, and though I seldom turn my mind to
such follies, I saw the plain tokens of love in every look and gesture
of the young springald.  Nay, 'twas his countenance that put it into my
mind, for I am even too good-natured--over good-natured, Susan Talbot.
How now," at some sound below, springing to the little window and
flinging it back, "you lazy idle wenches--what are you doing there?  Is
my work to stand still while you are toying with yon vile whelp?  He is
tangling the yarn, don't you see, thou purblind Jane Dacre, with no
eyes but for ogling.  There! there! Round the leg of the chair, don't
you see!" and down flew a shoe, which made the poor dog howl, and his
mistress catch him up.  "Put him down! put him down this instant!
Thomas!  Davy!  Here, hang him up, I say," cried this over good-natured
lady, interspersing her commands with a volley of sixteenth century
Billingsgate, and ending by declaring that nothing fared well without
her, and hurrying off to pounce down on the luckless damsels who had
let their dog play with the embroidery yarn destined to emblazon the
tapestry of Chatsworth with the achievements of Juno.  The good nature
was so far veritable that when she found little harm done, and had
vented her wrath in strong language and boxes on the ear, she would
forget her sentence upon the poor little greyhound, which Mrs. Jane
Dacre had hastily conveyed out of sight during her transit downstairs.
Susan was thus, to her great relief, released for the present, for
guests came in before my Lady had fully completed her objurgations on
her ladies, the hour of noon was nigh at hand, sounds in the court
betokened the return of the huntsmen, and Susan effected her escape to
her own sober old palfrey--glad that she would at least be able to take
counsel with her husband on this most inconvenient proposition.

He came out to meet her at the court door, having just dismounted, and
she knew by his face that she had not to give him the first
intelligence of the difficulty in which they stood.

My Lord had himself spoken to him, like my Lady expecting him to be
enchanted at the prospect of so good a match for his
slenderly-portioned daughter, for Dethick was a fair estate, and the
Babington family, though not ennobled, fully equal to a younger branch
of the Talbots.  However, Richard had had a less uncomfortable task
than his wife, since the Earl was many degrees more reasonable than the
Countess.  He had shown himself somewhat offended at not meeting more
alacrity in the acceptance of his proposal, when Richard had objected
on account of the young gentleman's Popish proclivities; but boldly
declared that he was quite certain that the stripling had been entirely

This point of the narrative had just been reached when it was
interrupted by a scream, and Cicely came flying into the hall, crying,
"O father, father, stop them!  Humfrey and Mr. Babington! They are
killing one another."

"Where?" exclaimed Richard, catching up his sword.

"In the Pleasance, father!  Oh, stop them!  They will slay one another!
They had their swords!" and as the father was already gone, she threw
herself into the mother's arms, hid her face and sobbed with fright as
scarce became a princess for whom swords were for the first time
crossed.  "Fear not!  Father will stop them," said the mother, with
confidence she could only keep up outwardly by the inward cry, "God
protect my boy.  Father will come ere they can hurt one another."

"But how came it about?" she added, as with an arm round the trembling
girl, she moved anxiously forward to know the issue.

"Oh!  I know not.  'Twas Humfrey fell on him.  Hark!"

"'Tis father's voice," said Susan.  "Thank God!  I know by the sound no
harm is done!  But how was it, child?"

Cis told with more coherence now, but the tears in her eyes and colour
deepening: "I was taking in Humfrey's kerchiefs from the bleaching on
the grass, when Master Babington--he had brought me a plume of
pheasant's feathers from the hunting, and he began.  O mother, is it
sooth?  He said my Lord had sent him."

"That is true, my child, but you know we have no choice but to refuse

"Ay, mother, and Antony knows."

"Not thy true birth, child?"

"Not that, but the other story.  So he began to say that if I were
favourable--Mother, do men always do like that?"  Hiding her face
against the trusty breast, "And when I drew back, and said I could not
and would not hearken to such folly--"

"That was well, dear child."

"He would have it that I should have to hear him, and he went down on
his knee, and snatched at my hand.  And therewith came a great howl of
rage like an angry lion, and Humfrey bounded right over the sweetbrier
fence, and cried out, 'Off, fellow!  No Papist traitor knave shall
meddle with her.'  And then Antony gave him back the lie for calling
him traitor, and they drew their swords, and I ran away to call father,
but oh! mother, I heard them clash!" and she shuddered again.

"See," said Susan, as they had reached the corner of a thick screen of
yew-trees, "all is safe.  There they stand, and father between them
speaking to them.  No, we will not go nearer, since we know that it is
well with them.  Men deal with each other better out of women's
earshot.  Ah, see, there they are giving one another their hands. All
is over now."

"Humfrey stands tall, grave, and stiff!  He is only doing it because
father bids him," said Cicely.  "Antony is much more willing."

"Poor Humfrey! he knows better than Antony how vain any hope must be of
my silly little princess," said Susan, with a sigh for her boy. "Come
in, child, and set these locks in order.  The hour of noon hath long
been over, and father hath not yet dined."

So they flitted out of sight as Richard and his son turned from the
place of encounter, the former saying, "Son Humfrey, I had deemed thee
a wiser man."

"Sir, how could a man brook seeing that fellow on his knee to her? Is
it not enough to be debarred from my sweet princess myself, but I must
see her beset by a Papist and traitor, fostered and encouraged too?"

"And thou couldst not rest secure in the utter impossibility of her
being given to him?  He is as much out of reach of her as thou art."

"He has secured my Lord and my Lady on his side!" growled Humfrey.

"My Lord is not an Amurath, nor my Lady either," said Richard, shortly.
"As long as I pass for her father I have power to dispose of her, and I
am not going to give another woman's daughter away without her consent."

"Yet the fellow may have her ear," said Humfrey.  "I know him to be
popishly inclined, and there is a web of those Romish priests all over
the island, whereof this Queen holds the strands in her fingers,
captive though she be.  I should not wonder if she had devised this
fellow's suit."

"This is the very madness of jealousy, Humfrey," said his father. "The
whole matter was, as thy mother and thy Lord have both told me, simply
a device of my Lady Countess's own brain."

"Babington took to it wondrous naturally," muttered Humfrey.

"That may be; but as for the lady at Wingfield, her talk to our poor
maid hath been all of archdukes and dukes.  She is far too haughty to
think for a moment of giving her daughter to a mere Derbyshire esquire,
not even of noble blood.  You may trust her for that."

This pacified Humfrey for a little while, especially as the bell was
clanging for the meal which had been unusually deferred, and he had to
hurry away to remove certain marks, which were happily the result of
the sweetbrier weapons instead of that of Babington.

That a little blood had been shed was shown by the state of his sword
point, but Antony had disclaimed being hurt when the master of the
house came up, and in the heat of the rebuke the father and son had
hardly noticed that he had thrown a kerchief round his left hand ere he
moved away.

Before dinner was over, word was brought in from the door that Master
Will Cavendish wanted to speak to Master Humfrey.  The ladies' hearts
were in their mouths, as it were, lest it should be to deliver a
cartel, and they looked to the father to interfere, but he sat still,
contenting himself with saying, as his son craved license to quit the
board, "Use discretion as well as honour."

They were glad that the next minute Humfrey came back to call his
father to the door, where Will Cavendish sat on horseback.  He had come
by desire of Babington, who had fully intended that the encounter
should be kept secret, but some servant must have been aware of it
either from the garden or the park, and the Countess had got wind of
it.  She had summoned Babington to her presence, before the castle
barber had finished dealing with the cut in his hand, and the messenger
reported that "my Lady was in one of her raging fits," and talked of
throwing young Humfrey into a dungeon, if not having him hung for his

Babington, who had talked to his friends of a slip with his
hunting-knife while disembowelling a deer, was forced to tell the fact
in haste to Cavendish, the nearest at hand, begging him to hurry down
and advise Humfrey to set forth at once if he did not wish his journey
to be unpleasantly delayed.

"My Lord is unwilling to cross my mother at the present," said young
Cavendish with half a smile; "and though it be not likely that much
harm should come of the matter, yet if she laid hands on Humfrey at the
present moment, there might be hindrance and vexation, so it may be
well for him to set forth, in case Tony be unable to persuade my Lady
that it is nought."

Will Cavendish had been a friendly comrade of both Humfrey and Antony
in their boyish days, and his warning was fully to be trusted.

"I know not why I should creep off as though I had done aught that was
evil," said Humfrey, drawing himself up.

"Well," said Will, "my Lord is always wroth at brawling with swords
amongst us, and he might--my mother egging him on--lay you by the heels
in the strong room for a week or so.  Nay, for my part, methinks 'twas
a strange requital of poor Babington's suit to your sister!  Had she
been your love instead of your sister there might have been plainer
excuse, but sure you wot not of aught against Tony to warrant such

"He was importuning her when she would have none of him," said Humfrey,
feeling the perplexity he had drawn on himself.

"Will says well," added the father, feeling that it by all means
behoved them all to avert inquiry into the cause of Humfrey's passion,
since neither Cicely's birth nor Antony's perilous inclinations could
be pleaded.  "To be detained a week or two might hinder thy voyage.  So
we will speed thee on thy way instantly."

"Tell me not where he halts for the night," said Cavendish
significantly.  "Fare thee well, Humfrey.  I would return ere I am
missed.  I trust thou wilt have made the Spaniard's ships smoke, and
weighted thy pouch with his dollars, before we see thee again."

"Fare thee well, Will, and thank thee kindly," returned Humfrey, as
they wrung each other's hands.  "And tell Antony that I thank him
heartily for his thought, and owe him a good turn."

"That is well, my son," said Richard, as Cavendish rode out of the
court.  "Babington is both hot and weak-headed, and I fear me is in the
toils of the Scottish lady; but he would never do aught that he held as
disloyal by a comrade.  I wish I could say the same of him anent the

"And you will guard her from him, sir?" earnestly said Humfrey.

"As I would from--I would have said Frenchman or Spaniard, but, poor
maid, that may only be her hap, if her mother should come to her throne
again;" and as Humfrey shrugged his shoulders at the improbability,
"But we must see thee off, my boy.  Poor mother! this hurries the
parting for her.  So best, mayhap."

It was hastily arranged that Humfrey should ride off at once, and try
to overtake a squire who had been at the festival, and had invited him
to turn a little out of his road and spend a day or two at his house
when leaving home.  Humfrey had then declined, but hospitality in those
days was elastic, and he had no doubt of a welcome.  His father would
bring Diccon and his baggage to join him there the next day.

Thus there were only a very few minutes for adieux, and, as Richard had
felt, this was best for all, even the anxious mother.  Cicely ran about
with the rest in the stress of preparation, until Humfrey, hurrying
upstairs, met her coming down with a packet of his lace cuffs in her

He caught the hand on the balusters, and cried, "My princess, my
princess, and art thou doing this for me?"

"Thou hast learnt fine compliments, Humfrey," said Cis, trying to do
her part with quivering lips.

"Ah, Cis! thou knowest but too well what hath taught me no fine words
but plain truth.  Fear me not, I know what is due to thee.  Cis, we
never used to believe the tales and ballads that told of knights
worshipping princesses beyond their reach, without a hope of more than
a look--not even daring to wish for more; Cis, it is very truth. Be
thou where thou wilt, with whom thou wilt, there will be one ready to
serve thee to the uttermost, and never ask aught--aught but such
remembrance as may befit the brother of thy childhood--"

"Mistress Cis," screamed one of the maids, "madam is waiting for those

Cis ran down, but the squeeze and kiss on the hand remained, as it
were, imprinted on it, far more than the last kiss of all, which he
gave, as both knew and felt, to support his character as a brother
before the assembled household.



The drawing of swords was not regarded as a heinous offence in
Elizabethan days.  It was not likely, under ordinary circumstances, to
result in murder, and was looked on much as boxing is, or was recently,
in public schools, as an evidence of high spirit, and a means of
working off ill-blood.

Lady Shrewsbury was, however, much incensed at such a presumptuous
reception of the suitor whom she had backed with her would-be despotic
influence; and in spite of Babington's making extremely light of it,
and declaring that he had himself been too forward in his suit, and the
young lady's apparent fright had made her brother interfere over
hastily for her protection, four yeomen were despatched by her Ladyship
with orders instantly to bring back Master Humfrey Talbot to answer for

They were met by Mr. Talbot with the sober reply that Master Humfrey
was already set forth on his journey.  The men, having no orders, never
thought of pursuing him, and after a short interval Richard thought it
expedient to proceed to the Manor-house to explain matters.

The Countess swooped upon him in one of her ungovernable furies--one of
those of which even Gilbert Talbot avoided writing the particulars to
his father--abusing his whole household in general, and his son in
particular, in the most outrageous manner, for thus receiving the
favour she had done to their beggarly, ill-favoured, ill-nurtured
daughter.  Richard stood still and grave, his hat in his hand, as
unmoved and tranquil as if he had been breasting a stiff breeze on the
deck of his ship, with good sea-room and confidence in all his tackle,
never even attempting to open his lips, but looking at the Countess
with a steady gaze which somehow disconcerted her, for she demanded
wherefore he stared at her like one of his clumsy hinds.

"Because her Ladyship does not know what she is saying," he replied.

"Darest thou!  Thou traitor, thou viper, thou unhanged rascal, thou
mire under my feet, thou blot on the house!  Darest thou beard me--me?"
screamed my Lady.  "Darest thou--I say--"

If the sailor had looked one whit less calm and resolute, my Lady would
have had her clenched fist on his ear, or her talons in his beard, but
he was like a rock against which the billows expended themselves, and
after more of the tempest than need stain these pages, she deigned to
demand what he meant or had to say for his son.

"Solely this, madam, that my son had never even heard of Babington's
suit, far less that he had your Ladyship's good-will.  He found him
kneeling to Cicely in the garden, and the girl, distressed and dismayed
at his importunity.  There were hot words and drawn blades. That was
the whole.  I parted them and saw them join hands."

"So saith Master Babington.  He is willing to overlook the insult, so
will I and my Lord, if you will atone for it by instantly consenting to
this espousal."

"That, madam, I cannot do."

She let him say no more, and the storm had begun to rage again, when
Babington took advantage of an interval to take breath, and said, "I
thank you, madam, and pray you peace.  If a little space be vouchsafed
me, I trust to show this worthy gentleman cause wherefore he should no
longer withhold his fair damsel from me."

"Indeed!" said the Countess.  "Art thou so confident?  I marvel what
better backer thou wouldst have than me!  So conceited of themselves
are young men now-a-days, they think, forsooth, their own merits and
graces should go farther in mating them than the word and will of their
betters.  There, you may go!  I wash my hands of the matter. One is as
ingrate as the other."

Both gentlemen accepted this amiable dismissal, each hoping that the
Countess might indeed have washed her hands of their affairs.  On his
departure Richard was summoned into the closet of the Earl, who had
carefully kept out of the way during the uproar, only trusting not to
be appealed to.  "My good cousin," he asked, "what means this broil
between the lads?  Hath Babington spoken sooth?"

"He hath spoken well and more generously than, mayhap, I thought he
would have done," said Richard.

"Ay; you have judged the poor youth somewhat hardly, as if the folly of
pagedom never were outgrown," said the Earl.  "I put him under
governorship such as to drive out of his silly pate all the wiles that
he was fed upon here.  You will see him prove himself an honest
Protestant and good subject yet, and be glad enough to give him your
daughter.  So he was too hot a lover for Master Humfrey's notions, eh?"
said my Lord, laughing a little.  "The varlet!  He was over prompt to
protect his sister, yet 'twas a fault on the right side, and I am sorry
there was such a noise about it that he should have gone without

"He will be glad to hear of your Lordship's goodness.  I shall go after
him to-morrow and take his mails and little Diccon to him."

"That is well," said the Earl.  "And give him this, with his kinsman's
good wishes that he may win ten times more from the Don," pushing
towards Richard a packet of twenty broad gold pieces, stamped with
Queen Bess in all her glory; and then, after receiving due thanks for
the gift, which was meant half as friendly feudal patronage from the
head of the family, half as a contribution to the royal service, the
Earl added, "I would crave of thee, Richard, to extend thy journey to
Wingfield.  Here are some accounts of which I could not sooner get the
items, to be discharged between me and the lady there--and I would fain
send thee as the man whom I can most entirely trust.  I will give thee
a pass, and a letter to Sadler, bidding him admit thee to her presence,
since there are matters here which can sooner be discharged by one word
of mouth than by many weary lines of writing."

Good Master Richard's conscience had little occasion to wince, yet he
could not but feel somewhat guilty when this opportune commission was
given to him, since the Earl gave it unaware of his secret
understanding with the captive.  He accepted it, however, without
hesitation, since he was certainly not going to make a mischievous use
of it, and bent all his mind to understand the complicated accounts
that he was to lay before the Queen or her comptroller of the household.

He had still another interview to undergo with Antony Babington, who
overtook him on his way home through the crackling leaves that strewed
the avenue, as the October twilight fell.  His recent conduct towards
Humfrey gave him a certain right to friendly attention, though, as the
frank-hearted mariner said to himself, it was hard that a plain man,
who never told a lie, nor willingly had a concealment of his own,
should be involved in a many-sided secret like this, a sort of web,
where there was no knowing whether straining the wrong strand might not
amount to a betrayal, all because he had rescued an infant, and not at
once proclaimed her an alien.

"Sir," said Antony, "if my impatience to accost the maiden we wot of,
when I saw her alone, had not misled me, I should have sought you first
to tell you that no man knows better than I that my Lady Countess's
good will is not what is wanting to forward my suit."

"Knowing then that it is not in my power or right to dispose of her,
thine ardent wooing was out of place," said Richard.

"I own it, sir, though had I but had time I should have let the maiden
know that I sought her subject to other approval, which I trust to
obtain so as to satisfy you."

"Young man," said Richard, "listen to friendly counsel, and meddle not
in perilous matters.  I ask thee not whether Dethick hath any commerce
with Wingfield; but I warn thee earnestly to eschew beginning again
that which caused the trouble of thy childhood.  Thou mayst do it
innocently, seeking the consent of the lady to this courtship of thine;
but I tell thee, as one who knows more of the matter than thou canst,
that thou wilt only meet with disappointment."

"Hath the Queen other schemes for her?" asked Babington, anxiously; and
Richard, thinking of the vista of possible archdukes, replied that she
had; but that he was not free to speak, though he replied to
Babington's half-uttered question that his son Humfrey was by no means

"Ah!" cried Antony, "you give me hope, sir.  I will do her such service
that she shall refuse me nothing!  Sir! do you mock me!" he added, with
a fierce change of note.

"My poor lad, I could not but laugh to think what a simple plotter you
are, and what fine service you will render if thou utterest thy vows to
the very last person who should hear them!  Credit me, thou wast never
made for privy schemes and conspiracies, and a Queen who can only be
served by such, is no mistress for thee.  Thou wilt but run thine own
neck into the noose, and belike that of others."

"That will I never do," quoth Antony.  "I may peril myself, but no

"Then the more you keep out of secrets the better.  Thou art too
open-hearted and unguarded for them!  So speaks thy well-wisher,
Antony, whose friendship thou hast won by thine honourable conduct
towards my rash boy; though I tell thee plainly, the maiden is not for
thee, whether as Scottish or English, Cis or Bride."

So they parted at the gate of the park, the younger man full of hope
and confidence, the elder full of pitying misgiving.

He was too kind-hearted not to let Cicely know that he should see her
mother, or to refuse to take a billet for her,--a little formal note
necessarily silent on the matter at issue, since it had to be laid
before the Earl, who smiled at the scrupulous precaution, and let it

Thus the good father parted with Humfrey and Diccon, rejoicing in his
heart that they would fight with open foes, instead of struggling with
the meshes of perplexity, which beset all concerned with Queen Mary,
and then he turned his horse's head towards Wingfield Manor, a grand
old castellated mansion of the Talbots, considered by some to excel
even Sheffield.  It stood high, on ground falling very steeply from the
walls on three sides, and on the south well fortified, court within
court, and each with a deep-arched and portcullised gateway, with
loopholed turrets on either side, a porter's lodge, and yeomen guards.

Mr. Talbot had to give his name and quality, and show his pass, at each
of these gates, though they were still guarded by Shrewsbury retainers,
with the talbot on their sleeves.  He was, however, received with the
respect and courtesy due to a trusted kinsman of their lord; and Sir
Ralf Sadler, a thin, elderly, careworn statesman, came to greet him at
the door of the hall, and would only have been glad could he have
remained a week, instead of for the single night he wished to spend at

Sadler was one of Mary's most gentle and courteous warders, and he
spoke of her with much kindness, regretting that her health had again
begun to suffer from the approach of winter, and far more from

The negotiation with Scotland on her behalf was now known to have been
abortive.  James had fallen into the hands of the faction most hostile
to her, and though his mother still clung with desperate hope to the
trust that he, at least, was labouring on her behalf, no one else
believed that he cared for anything but his own security, and even she
had been forced to perceive that her liberation was again adjourned.

"And what think you was her thought when she found that road closed
up?" said Sir Ralf.  "Why, for her people!  Her gentlewoman, Mrs.
Mowbray, hath, it seems, been long betrothed."

"Ay, to Gilbert Curll, the long-backed Scotch Secretary.  They were to
be wed at Stirling so soon as she arrived there again."

"Yea; but when she read the letter that overthrew her hopes, what did
she say but that 'her servants must not grow gray-headed with waiting
till she was set free'!  So she would have me make the case known to
Sir Parson, and we had them married in the parish church two days
since, they being both good Protestants."

"There is no doubt that her kindness of heart is true," said Richard.
"The poor folk at Sheffield and Ecclesfield will miss her plentiful

"Some say it ought to be hindered, for that it is but a purchasing of
friends to her cause," said Sadler; "but I have not the heart to check
it, and what could these of the meaner sort do to our Queen's
prejudice?  I take care that nothing goes among them that could hide a
billet, and that none of her people have private speech with them, so
no harm can ensue from her bounty."

A message here came that the Queen was ready to admit Mr. Talbot, and
Richard found himself in her presence chamber, a larger and finer room
than that in the lodge at Sheffield, and with splendid tapestry
hangings and plenishings; but the windows all looked into the inner
quadrangle, instead of on the expanse of park, and thus, as Mary said,
she felt more entirely the prisoner.  This, however, was not
perceptible at the time, for the autumn evening had closed in; there
were two large fires burning, one at each end of the room, and tall
tapestry-covered screens and high-backed settles were arranged so as to
exclude the draughts around the hearth, where Mary reclined on a
couch-like chair.  She looked ill, and though she brightened with her
sweet smile to welcome her guest, there were dark circles round her
eyes, and an air of dejection in her whole appearance.  She held out
her hand graciously, as Richard approached, closely followed by his
host; he put his knee to the ground and kissed it, as she said, "You
must pardon me, Mr. Talbot, for discourtesy, if I am less agile than
when we were at Buxton.  You see my old foe lies in wait to plague me
with aches and pains so soon as the year declines."

"I am sorry to see your Grace thus," returned Richard, standing on the

"The while I am glad to see you thus well, sir.  And how does the good
lady, your wife, and my sweet playfellow, your daughter?"

"Well, madam, I thank your Grace, and Cicely has presumed to send a
billet by mine hand."

"Ah! the dear bairnie," and all the Queen's consummate art could not
repress the smile of gladness and the movement of eager joy with which
she held out her hand for it, so that Richard regretted its extreme
brevity and unsatisfying nature, and Mary, recollecting herself in a
second, added, smiling at Sadler, "Mr. Talbot knows how a poor prisoner
must love the pretty playfellows that are lent to her for a time."

Sir Ralf's presence hindered any more intimate conversation, and
Richard had certainly committed a solecism in giving Cicely's letter
the precedence over the Earl's.  The Queen, however, had recalled her
caution, and inquired for the health of the Lord and Lady, and, with a
certain sarcasm on her lips, trusted that the peace of the family was
complete, and that they were once more setting Hallamshire the example
of living together as household doves.

Her hazel eyes meantime archly scanned the face of Richard, who could
not quite forget the very undovelike treatment he had received, though
he could and did sturdily aver that "my Lord and my Lady were perfectly
reconciled, and seemed most happy in their reunion."

"Well-a-day, let us trust that there will be no further disturbances to
their harmony," said Mary, "a prayer I may utter most sincerely. Is the
little Arbell come back with them?"

"Yea, madam."

"And is she installed in my former rooms, with the canopy over her
cradle to befit her strain of royalty?"

"I think not, madam.  Meseems that my Lady Countess hath seen reason to
be heedful on that score.  My young lady hath come back with a grave
gouvernante, who makes her read her primer and sew her seam, and save
that she sat next my Lady at the wedding feast there is little
difference made between her and the other grandchildren."

The Queen then inquired into the circumstances of the wedding
festivities with the interest of one to whom most of the parties were
more or less known, and who seldom had the treat of a little feminine
gossip.  She asked who had been "her little Cis's partner," and when
she heard of Babington, she said, "Ah ha, then, the poor youth has made
his peace with my Lord?"

"Certes, madam, he is regarded with high favour by both my Lord and my
Lady," said Richard, heartily wishing himself rid of his host.

"I rejoice to hear it," said Mary; "I was afraid that his childish
knight-errantry towards the captive dame had damaged the poor
stripling's prospects for ever.  He is our neighbour here, and I
believe Sir Ralf regards him as somewhat perilous."

"Nay, madam, if my Lord of Shrewsbury be satisfied with him, so surely
ought I to be," said Sir Ralf.

Nothing more of importance passed that night.  The packet of accounts
was handed over to Sir Andrew Melville, and the two gentlemen dismissed
with gracious good-nights.

Richard Talbot was entirely trusted, and when the next morning after
prayers, breakfast, and a turn among the stables, it was intimated that
the Queen was ready to see him anent my Lord's business, Sir Ralf
Sadler, who had his week's report to write to the Council, requested
that his presence might be dispensed with, and thus Mr. Talbot was
ushered into the Queen's closet without any witnesses to their
interview save Sir Andrew Melville and Marie de Courcelles. The Queen
was seated in a large chair, leaning against cushions, and evidently in
a good deal of pain, but, as Richard made his obeisance, her eyes shone
as she quoted two lines from an old Scotch ballad--

          "'Madame, how does my gay goss hawk?
            Madame, how does my doo?'

Now can I hear what I hunger for!"

"My gay gosshawk, madam, is flown to join Sir Francis Drake at
Plymouth, and taken his little brother with him.  I come now from
speeding them as far as Derby."

"Ah! you must not ask me to pray for success to them, my good
sir,--only that there may be a time when nations may be no more
divided, and I fear me we shall not live to see it.  And my doo--my
little Cis, did she weep as became a sister for the bold laddies?"

"She wept many tears, madam, but we are sore perplexed by a matter that
I must lay before your Grace.  My Lady Countess is hotly bent on a
match between the maiden and young Babington."

"Babington!" exclaimed the Queen, with the lioness sparkle in her eye.
"You refused the fellow of course?"

"Flatly, madam, but your Grace knows that it is ill making the Countess
accept a denial of her will."

Mary laughed  "Ah ha! methought, sir, you looked somewhat as if you had
had a recent taste of my Lord of Shrewsbury's dove.  But you are a man
to hold your own sturdy will, Master Richard, let Lord or Lady say what
they choose."

"I trust so, madam, I am master of mine own house, and, as I should
certainly not give mine own daughter to Babington, so shall I guard
your Grace's."

"You would not give the child to him if she were your own?"

"No, madam."

"And wherefore not?  Because he is too much inclined to the poor
prisoner and her faith?  Is it so, sir?"

"Your Grace speaks the truth in part," said Richard, and then with
effort added, "and likewise, madam, with your pardon, I would say that
though I verily believe it is nobleness of heart and spirit that
inclines poor Antony to espouse your Grace's cause, there is to my mind
a shallowness and indiscretion about his nature, even when most in
earnest, such as would make me loath to commit any woman, or any
secret, to his charge."

"You are an honest man, Mr. Talbot," said Mary; "I am glad my poor maid
is in your charge.  Tell me, is this suit on his part made to your
daughter or to the Scottish orphan?"

"To the Scottish orphan, madam.  Thus much he knows, though by what
means I cannot tell, unless it be through that kinsman of mine, who, as
I told your Grace, saw the babe the night I brought her in."

"Doubtless," responded Mary.  "Take care he neither knows more, nor
hints what he doth know to the Countess."

"So far as I can, I will, madam," said Richard, "but his tongue is not
easy to silence; I marvel that he hath not let the secret ooze out

"Proving him to have more discretion than you gave him credit for, my
good sir," said the Queen, smiling.  "Refuse him, however, staunchly,
grounding your refusal, if it so please you, on the very causes for
which I should accept him, were the lassie verily what he deems her, my
ward and kinswoman.  Nor do you accede to him, whatever word or token
he may declare that he brings from me, unless it bear this mark," and
she hastily traced a peculiar-twisted form of M.  "You know it?" she

"I have seen it, madam," said Richard, gravely, for he knew it as the
letter which had been traced on the child's shoulders.

"Ah, good Master Richard," she said, with a sweet and wistful
expression, looking up to his face in pleading, and changing to the
familiar pronoun, "thou likest not my charge, and I know that it is
hard on an upright man like thee to have all this dissembling thrust on
thee, but what can a poor captive mother do but strive to save her
child from an unworthy lot, or from captivity like her own?  I ask thee
to say nought, that is all, and to shelter the maid, who hath been as
thine own daughter, yet a little longer.  Thou wilt not deny me, for
her sake."

"Madam, I deny nothing that a Christian man and my Queen's faithful
servant may in honour do.  Your Grace has the right to choose your own
daughter's lot, and with her I will deal as you direct me.  But, madam,
were it not well to bethink yourself whether it be not a perilous and a
cruel policy to hold out a bait to nourish hope in order to bind to
your service a foolish though a generous youth, whose devotion may,
after all, work you and himself more ill than good?"

Mary looked a good deal struck, and waved back her two attendants, who
were both startled and offended at what Marie de Courcelles described
as the Englishman's brutal boldness.

"Silence, dear friends," said she.  "Would that I had always had
counsellors who would deal with me with such honour and
disinterestedness.  Then should I not be here."

However, she then turned her attention to the accounts, where Sir
Andrew Melville was ready to question and debate every item set down by
Shrewsbury's steward; while his mistress showed herself liberal and
open-handed.  Indeed she had considerable command of money from her
French dowry, the proceeds of which were, in spite of the troubles of
the League, regularly paid to her, and no doubt served her well in
maintaining the correspondence which, throughout her captivity, eluded
the vigilance of her keepers.  On taking leave of her, which Richard
Talbot did before joining his host at the mid-day meal, she reiterated
her thanks for his care of her daughter, and her charges to let no
persuasion induce him to consent to Babington's overtures, adding that
she hoped soon to obtain permission to have the maiden amongst her
authorised attendants.  She gave him a billet, loosely tied with black
floss silk and unsealed, so that if needful, Sadler and Shrewsbury
might both inspect the tender, playful, messages she wrote to her
"mignonne," and which she took care should not outrun those which she
had often addressed to Bessie Pierrepoint.

Cicely was a little disappointed when she first opened the letter, but
ere long she bethought herself of the directions she had received to
hold such notes to the fire, and accordingly she watched, waiting even
till the next day before she could have free and solitary access to
either of the two fires in the house, those in the hall and in the

At last, while the master was out farming, Ned at school, and the
mistress and all her maids engaged in the unsavoury occupation of
making candles, by repeated dipping of rushes into a caldron of melted
fat, after the winter's salting, she escaped under pretext of attending
to the hall fire, and kneeling beside the glowing embers, she held the
paper over it, and soon saw pale yellow characters appear and deepen
into a sort of brown or green, in which she read, "My little jewel must
share the ring with none less precious.  Yet be not amazed if
commendations as from me be brought thee.  Jewels are sometimes useful
to dazzle the eyes of those who shall never possess them.  Therefore
seem not cold nor over coy, so as to take away all hope.  It may be
much for my service.  Thou art discreet, and thy good guardians will
hinder all from going too far.  It might be well that he should deem
thee and me inclined to what they oppose.  Be secret.  Keep thine own
counsel, and let them not even guess what thou hast here read.  So fare
thee well, with my longing, yearning blessing."

Cicely hastily hid the letter in the large housewifely pocket attached
to her girdle, feeling excited and important at having a real secret
unguessed by any one, and yet experiencing some of the reluctance
natural to the pupil of Susan Talbot at the notion of acting a part
towards Babington.  She really liked him, and her heart warmed to him
as a true friend of her much-injured mother, so that it seemed the more
cruel to delude him with false hopes.  Yet here was she asked to do a
real service to her mother!

Poor Cis, she knelt gazing perplexed into the embers, now and then
touching a stick to make them glow, till Nat, the chief of "the old
blue bottles of serving-men," came in to lay the cloth for dinner,
exclaiming, "So, Mistress Cis!  Madam doth cocker thee truly, letting
thee dream over the coals, till thy face be as red as my Lady's new
farthingale, while she is toiling away like a very scullion."



It was a rainy November afternoon.  Dinner was over, the great wood
fire had been made up, and Mistress Talbot was presiding over the
womenfolk of her household and their tasks with needle and distaff. She
had laid hands on her unwilling son Edward to show his father how well
he could read the piece de resistance of the family, Fabyan's
Chronicle; and the boy, with an elbow firmly planted on either side of
the great folio, was floundering through the miseries of King Stephen's
time; while Mr. Talbot, after smoothing the head of his largest hound
for some minutes, had leant back in his chair and dropped asleep.
Cicely's hand tardily drew out her thread, her spindle scarcely
balanced itself on the floor, and her maiden meditation was in an
inactive sort of way occupied with the sense of dulness after the
summer excitements, and wonder whether her greatness were all a dream,
and anything would happen to recall her once more to be a princess.
The kitten at her feet took the spindle for a lazily moving creature,
and thought herself fascinating it, so she stared hard, with only an
occasional whisk of the end of her striped tail; and Mistress Susan was
only kept awake by her anxiety to adapt Diccon's last year's jerkin to
Ned's use.

Suddenly the dogs outside bayed, the dogs inside pricked their ears,
Ned joyfully halted, his father uttered the unconscious falsehood, "I'm
not asleep, lad, go on," then woke up as horses' feet were heard; Ned
dashed out into the porch, and was in time to hold the horse of one of
the two gentlemen, who, with cloaks over their heads, had ridden up to
the door.  He helped them off with their cloaks in the porch,
exchanging greetings with William Cavendish and Antony Babington.

"Will Mrs. Talbot pardon our riding-boots?" said the former.  "We have
only come down from the Manor-house, and we rode mostly on the grass."

Their excuses were accepted, though Susan had rather Master William had
brought any other companion.  However, on such an afternoon, almost any
variety was welcome, especially to the younger folk, and room was made
for them in the circle, and according to the hospitality of the time, a
cup of canary fetched for each to warm him after the ride, while
another was brought to the master of the house to pledge them in--a
relic of the barbarous ages, when such a security was needed that the
beverage was not poisoned.

Will Cavendish then explained that a post had come that morning to his
stepfather from Wingfield, having been joined on the way by Babington
(people always preferred travelling in companies for security's sake),
and that, as there was a packet from Sir Ralf Sadler for Master
Richard, he had brought it down, accompanied by his friend, who was
anxious to pay his devoirs to the ladies, and though Will spoke to the
mother, he smiled and nodded comprehension at the daughter, who blushed
furiously, and set her spindle to twirl and leap so violently, as to
make the kitten believe the creature had taken fright, and was going to
escape.  On she dashed with a sudden spring, involving herself and it
in the flax.  The old watch-dog roused himself with a growl to keep
order.  Cicely flung herself on the cat, Antony hurried to the rescue
to help her disentangle it, and received a fierce scratch for his
pains, which made him start back, while Mrs. Talbot put in her word.
"Ah, Master Babington, it is ill meddling with a cat in the toils,
specially for men folk!  Here, Cis, hold her fast and I will soon have
her free.  Still, Tib!"

Cicely's cheeks were of a still deeper colour as she held fast the
mischievous favourite, while the good mother untwisted the flax from
its little claws and supple limbs, while it winked, twisted its head
about sentimentally, purred, and altogether wore an air of injured
innocence and forgiveness.

"I am afraid, air, you receive nothing but damage at our house," said
Mrs. Talbot politely.  "Hast drawn blood?  Oh fie! thou ill-mannered
Tib!  Will you have a tuft from a beaver to stop the blood?"

"Thanks, madam, no, it is a small scratch.  I would, I would that I
could face truer perils for this lady's sake!"

"That I hope you will not, sir," said Richard, in a serious tone, which
conveyed a meaning to the ears of the initiated, though Will Cavendish
only laughed, and said,

"Our kinsman takes it gravely!  It was in the days of our grandfathers
that ladies could throw a glove among the lions, and bid a knight fetch
it out for her love."

"It has not needed a lion to defeat Mr. Babington," observed Ned,
looking up from his book with a sober twinkle in his eye, which set
them all laughing, though his father declared that he ought to have his
ears boxed for a malapert varlet.

Will Cavendish declared that the least the fair damsel could do for her
knight-errant was to bind up his wounds, but Cis was too shy to show
any disposition so to do, and it was Mrs. Talbot who salved the scratch
for him.  She had a feeling for the motherless youth, upon whom she
foreboded that a fatal game might be played.

When quiet was restored, Mr. Talbot craved license from his guests, and
opened the packet.  There was a letter for Mistress Cicely Talbot in
Queen Mary's well-known beautiful hand, which Antony followed with
eager eyes, and a low gasp of "Ah! favoured maiden," making the good
mother, who overheard it, say to herself, "Methinks his love is chiefly
for the maid as something appertaining to the Queen, though he wots not
how nearly.  His heart is most for the Queen herself, poor lad."

The maiden did not show any great haste to open the letter, being aware
that the true gist of it could only be discovered in private, and her
father was studying his own likewise in silence.  It was from Sir Ralf
Sadler to request that Mistress Cicely might be permitted to become a
regular member of the household.  There was now a vacancy since, though
Mrs. Curll was nearly as much about the Queen as ever, it was as the
secretary's wife, not as one of the maiden attendants; and Sir Ralf
wrote that he wished the more to profit by the opportunity, as he might
soon be displaced by some one not of a temper greatly to consider the
prisoner's wishes.  Moreover, he said the poor lady was ill at ease,
and much dejected at the tenor of her late letters from Scotland, and
that she had said repeatedly that nothing would do her good but the
presence of her pretty playfellow. Sir Ralf added assurances that he
would watch over the maiden like his own daughter, and would take the
utmost care of the faith and good order of all within his household.
Curll also wrote by order of his mistress a formal application for the
young lady, to which Mary had added in her own hand, "I thank the good
Master Richard and Mrs. Susan beforehand, for I know they will not deny

Refusal was, of course, impossible to a mother who had every right to
claim her own child; and there was nothing to be done but to fix the
time for setting off: and Cicely, who had by this time read her own
letter, or at least all that was on the surface, looked up tremulous,
with a strange frightened gladness, and said, "Mother, she needs me."

"I shall shortly be returning home," said Antony, "and shall much
rejoice if I may be one of the party who will escort this fair maiden."

"I shall take my daughter myself on a pillion, sir," said Richard,

"Then, sir, I may tell my Lord that you purpose to grant this request,"
said Will Cavendish, who had expected at least some time to be asked
for deliberation, and knew his mother would expect her permission to be

"I may not choose but do so," replied Richard; and then, thinking he
might have said too much, he added, "It were sheer cruelty to deny any
solace to the poor lady."

"Sick and in prison, and balked by her only son," added Susan, "one's
heart cannot but ache for her."

"Let not Mr. Secretary Walsingham hear you say so, good madam," said
Cavendish, smiling.  "In London they think of her solely as a kind of
malicious fury shut up in a cage, and there were those who looked
askance at me when I declared that she was a gentlewoman of great
sweetness and kindness of demeanour.  I believe myself they will not
rest till they have her blood!"

Cis and Susan cried out with horror, and Babington with stammering
wrath demanded whether she was to be assassinated in the Spanish
fashion, or on what pretext a charge could be brought against her.
"Well," Cavendish answered, "as the saying is, give her rope enough,
and she will hang herself.  Indeed, there's no doubt but that she
tampered enough with Throckmorton's plot to have been convicted of
misprision of treason, and so she would have been, but that her most
sacred Majesty, Queen Elizabeth, would have no charge made against her.

"Treason from one sovereign to another, that is new law!" said

"So to speak," said Richard; "but if she claim to be heiress to the
crown, she must also be a subject.  Heaven forefend that she should
come to the throne!"

To which all except Cis and Babington uttered a hearty amen, while a
picture arose before the girl of herself standing beside her royal
mother robed in velvet and ermine on the throne, and of the faces of
Lady Shrewsbury and her daughter as they recognised her, and were

Cavendish presently took his leave, and carried the unwilling Babington
off with him, rightly divining that the family would wish to make their
arrangements alone.  To Richard's relief, Babington had brought him no
private message, and to Cicely's disappointment, there was no addition
in sympathetic ink to her letter, though she scorched the paper brown
in trying to bring one out.  The Scottish Queen was much too wary to
waste and risk her secret expedients without necessity.

To Richard and Susan this was the real resignation of their
foster-child into the hands of her own parent.  It was true that she
would still bear their name, and pass for their daughter, but that
would be only so long as it might suit her mother's convenience; and
instead of seeing her every day, and enjoying her full confidence (so
far as they knew), she would be out of reach, and given up to
influences, both moral and religious, which they deeply distrusted;
also to a fate looming in the future with all the dark uncertainty that
brooded over all connected with Tudor or Stewart royalty.

How much good Susan wept and prayed that night, only her pillow knew,
not even her husband; and there was no particular comfort when my Lady
Countess descended on her in the first interval of fine weather, full
of wrath at not having been consulted, and discharging it in all sorts
of predictions as to Cis's future.  No honest and loyal husband would
have her, after being turned loose in such company; she would be
corrupted in morals and manners, and a disgrace to the Talbots; she
would be perverted in faith, become a Papist, and die in a nunnery
beyond sea; or she would be led into plots and have her head cut off;
or pressed to death by the peine forte et dure.

Susan had nothing to say to all this, but that her husband thought it
right, and then had a little vigorous advice on her own score against
tamely submitting to any man, a weakness which certainly could not be
laid to the charge of the termagant of Hardwicke.

Cicely herself was glad to go.  She loved her mother with a romantic
enthusiastic affection, missed her engaging caresses, and felt her
Bridgefield home eminently dull, flat, and even severe, especially
since she had lost the excitement of Humfrey's presence, and likewise
her companion Diccon.  So she made her preparations with a joyful
alacrity, which secretly pained her good foster-parents, and made Susan
almost ready to reproach her with ingratitude.

They lectured her, after the fashion of the time, on the need of never
forgetting her duty to her God in her affection to her mother, Susan
trusting that she would never let herself be led away to the Romish
faith, and Richard warning her strongly against untruth and falsehood,
though she must be exposed to cruel perplexities as to the right-- "But
if thou be true to man, thou wilt be true to God," he said.  "If thou
be false to man, thou wilt soon be false to thy God likewise."

"We will pray for thee, child," said Susan.  "Do thou pray earnestly
for thyself that thou mayest ever see the right."

"My queen mother is a right pious woman.  She is ever praying and
reading holy books," said Cis.  "Mother Susan, I marvel you, who know
her, can speak thus."

"Nay, child, I would not lessen thy love and duty to her, poor soul,
but it is not even piety in a mother that can keep a maiden from
temptation.  I blame not her in warning thee."

Richard himself escorted the damsel to her new home.  There was no
preventing their being joined by Babington, who, being well acquainted
with the road, and being also known as a gentleman of good estate, was
able to do much to make their journey easy to them, and secure good
accommodation for them at the inns, though Mr. Talbot entirely baffled
his attempts to make them his guests, and insisted on bearing a full
share of the reckoning.  Neither did Cicely fulfil her mother's
commission to show herself inclined to accept his attentions.  If she
had been under contrary orders, there would have been some excitement
in going as far as she durst, but the only effect on her was
embarrassment, and she treated Antony with the same shy stiffness she
had shown to Humfrey, during the earlier part of his residence at home.
Besides, she clung more and more to her adopted father, who, now that
they were away from home and he was about to part with her, treated her
with a tender, chivalrous deference, most winning in itself, and making
her feel herself no longer a child.

Arriving at last at Wingfield, Sir Ralf Sadler had hardly greeted them
before a messenger was sent to summon the young lady to the presence of
the Queen of Scots.  Her welcome amounted to ecstasy. The Queen rose
from her cushioned invalid chair as the bright young face appeared at
the door, held out her arms, gathered her into them, and, covering her
with kisses, called her by all sorts of tender names in French and

"O ma mie, my lassie, ma fille, mine ain wee thing, how sweet to have
one bairn who is mine, mine ain, whom they have not robbed me of, for
thy brother, ah, thy brother, he hath forsaken me!  He is made of the
false Darnley stuff, and compacted by Knox and Buchanan and the rest,
and he will not stand a blast of Queen Elizabeth's wrath for the poor
mother that bore him.  Ay, he hath betrayed me, and deluded me, my
child; he hath sold me once more to the English loons!  I am set faster
in prison than ever, the iron entereth into my soul.  Thou art but
daughter to a captive queen, who looks to thee to be her one bairn, one
comfort and solace."

Cicely responded by caresses, and indeed felt herself more than ever
before the actual daughter, as she heard with indignation of James's
desertion of his mother's cause; but Mary, whatever she said herself,
would not brook to hear her speak severely of him.  "The poor laddie,"
she said, "he was no better than a prisoner among those dour Scots
lords," and she described in graphic terms some of her own experiences
of royalty in Scotland.

The other ladies all welcomed the newcomer as the best medicine both to
the spirit and body of their Queen.  She was regularly enrolled among
the Queen's maidens, and shared their meals.  Mary dined and supped
alone, sixteen dishes being served to her, both on "fish and flesh
days," and the reversion of these as well as a provision of their own
came to the higher table of her attendants, where Cicely ranked with
the two Maries, Jean Kennedy, and Sir Andrew Melville. There was a
second table, at which ate the two secretaries, Mrs. Curll, and
Elizabeth Curll, Gilbert's sister, a most faithful attendant on the
Queen.  As before, she shared the Queen's chamber, and there it was
that Mary asked her, "Well, mignonne, and how fares it with thine
ardent suitor?  Didst say that he rode with thee?"

"As far as the Manor gates, madam."

"And what said he?  Was he very pressing?"

"Nay, madam, I was ever with my father--Mr. Talbot."

"And he keeps the poor youth at arm's length.  Thine other swain, the
sailor, his son, is gone off once more to rob the Spaniards, is he
not?--so there is the more open field."

"Ay! but not till he had taught Antony a lesson."

The Queen made Cis tell the story of the encounter, at which she was
much amused.  "So my princess, even unknown, can make hearts beat and
swords ring for her.  Well done! thou art worthy to be one of the maids
in Perceforest or Amadis de Gaul, who are bred in obscurity, and set
all the knights a sparring together.  Tourneys are gone out since my
poor gude-father perished by mischance at one, or we would set thee
aloft to be contended for."

"O madame mere, it made me greatly afraid, and poor Humfrey had to go
off without leave-taking, my Lady Countess was so wrathful."

"So my Lady Countess is playing our game, is she!  Backing Babington
and banishing Talbot?  Ha, ha," and Mary again laughed with a merriment
that rejoiced the faithful ears of Jean Kennedy, under her bedclothes,
but somewhat vexed Cicely.  "Indeed, madam mother," she said, "if I
must wed under my degree, I had rather it were Humfrey than Antony

"I tell thee, simple child, thou shall wed neither.  A woman does not
wed every man to whom she gives a smile and a nod.  So long as thou
bear'st the name of this Talbot, he is a good watch-dog to hinder
Babington from winning thee: but if my Lady Countess choose to send the
swain here, favoured by her to pay his court to thee, why then, she
gives us the best chance we have had for many a long day of holding
intercourse with our friends without, and a hope of thee will bind him
the more closely."

"He is all yours, heart and soul, already, madam."

"I know it, child, but men are men, and no chains are so strong as can
be forged by a lady's lip and eye, if she do it cunningly.  So said my
belle mere in France, and well do I believe it.  Why, if one of the
sour-visaged reformers who haunt this place chanced to have a daughter
with sweetness enough to temper the acidity, the youth might be
throwing up his cap the next hour for Queen Bess and the Reformation,
unless we can tie him down with a silken cable while he is in the mind."

"Yea, madam, you who are beautiful and winsome, you can do such things,
I am homely and awkward."

"Mort de ma vie, child! the beauty of the best of us is in the man's
eyes who looks at us.  'Tis true, thou hast more of the Border lassie
than the princess.  The likeness of some ewe-milking, cheese-making
sonsie Hepburn hath descended to thee, and hath been fostered by
country breeding.  But thou hast by nature the turn of the neck, and
the tread that belong to our Lorraine blood, the blood of Charlemagne,
and now that I have thee altogether, see if I train thee not so as to
bring out the princess that is in thee; and so, good-night, my bairnie,
my sweet child; I shall sleep to-night, now that I have thy warm fresh
young cheek beside mine.  Thou art life to me, my little one."



James VI. again cruelly tore his mother's heart and dashed her hopes by
an unfeeling letter, in which he declared her incapable of being
treated with, since she was a prisoner and deposed.  The not
unreasonable expectation, that his manhood might reverse the
proceedings wrought in his name in his infancy, was frustrated.  Mary
could no longer believe that he was constrained by a faction, but
perceived clearly that he merely considered her as a rival, whose
liberation would endanger his throne, and that whatever scruples he
might once have entertained had given way to English gold and Scottish

"The more simple was I to look for any other in the son of Darnley and
the pupil of Buchanan," said she, "but a mother's heart is slow to give
up her trust."

"And is there now no hope?" asked Cicely.

"Hope, child?  Dum spiro, spero.  The hope of coming forth honourably
to him and to Elizabeth is at an end.  There is another mode of coming
forth," she added with a glittering eye, "a mode which shall make them
rue that they have driven patience to extremity."

"By force of arms?  Oh, madam!" cried Cicely.

"And wherefore not?  My noble kinsman, Guise, is the paramount ruler in
France, and will soon have crushed the heretics there; Parma is
triumphant in the Low Countries, and has only to tread out the last
remnants of faction with his iron boot.  They wait only the call, which
my motherly weakness has delayed, to bring their hosts to avenge my
wrongs, and restore this island to the true faith.  Then thou, child,
wilt be my heiress.  We will give thee to one who will worthily bear
the sceptre, and make thee blessed at home.  The Austrians make good
husbands, I am told.  Matthias or Albert would be a noble mate for
thee; only thou must be trained to more princely bearing, my little
home-bred lassie."

In spite--nay, perhaps, in consequence--of these anticipations, an
entire change began for Cicely.  It was as if all the romance of her
princely station had died out and the reality had set in.  Her freedom
was at an end.  As one of the suite of the Queen of Scots, she was as
much a prisoner as the rest; whereas before, both at Buxton and
Sheffield, she had been like a dog or kitten admitted to be petted and
played with, but living another life elsewhere, while now there was
nothing to relieve the weariness and monotony of the restraint.

Nor was the petting what it was at first.  Mary was far from being in
the almost frolicsome mood which had possessed her at Buxton; her hopes
and spirits had sunk to the lowest pitch, and though she had an
admirably sweet and considerate temper, and was scarcely ever fretful
or unreasonable with her attendants, still depression, illness, and
anxiety could not but tell on her mode of dealing with her
surroundings.  Sometimes she gave way entirely, and declared she should
waste away and perish in her captivity, and that she only brought
misery and destruction on all who tried to befriend her; or, again,
that she knew that Burghley and Walsingham were determined to have her

It was in these moments that Cicely loved her most warmly, for caresses
and endearments soothed her, and the grateful affection which received
them would be very sweet.  Or in a higher tone, she would trust that,
if she were to perish, she might be a martyr and confessor for her
Church, though, as she owned, the sacrifice would be stained by many a
sin; and she betook herself to the devotions which then touched her
daughter more than in any other respect.

More often, however, her indomitable spirit resorted to fresh schemes,
and chafed fiercely and hotly at thought of her wrongs; and this made
her the more critical of all that displeased her in Cicely.

Much that had been treated as charming and amusing when Cicely was her
plaything and her visitor was now treated as unbecoming English
rusticity.  The Princess Bride must speak French and Italian, perhaps
Latin; and the girl, whose literary education had stopped short when
she ceased to attend Master Sniggius's school, was made to study her
Cicero once more with the almoner, who was now a French priest named De
Preaux, while Queen Mary herself heard her read French, and, though
always good-natured, was excruciated by her pronunciation.

Moreover, Mary was too admirable a needlewoman not to wish to make her
daughter the same; whereas Cicely's turn had always been for the
department of housewifery, and she could make a castle in pastry far
better than in tapestry; but where Queen Mary had a whole service of
cooks and pantlers of her own, this accomplishment was uncalled for,
and was in fact considered undignified.  She had to sit still and learn
all the embroidery stitches and lace-making arts brought by Mary from
the Court of France, till her eyes grew weary, her heart faint, and her
young limbs ached for the freedom of Bridgefield Pleasaunce and
Sheffield Park.

Her mother sometimes saw her weariness, and would try to enliven her by
setting her to dance, but here poor Cicely's untaught movements were
sure to incur reproof; and even if they had been far more satisfactory
to the beholders, what refreshment were they in comparison with
gathering cranberries in the park, or holding a basket for Ned in the
apple-tree?  Mrs. Kennedy made no scruple of scolding her roundly for
fretting in a month over what the Queen had borne for full eighteen

"Ah!" said poor Cicely, "but she had always been a queen, and was used
to being mewed up close!"

And if this was the case at Wingfield, how much more was it so at
Tutbury, whither Mary was removed in January.  The space was far
smaller, and the rooms were cold and damp; there was much less outlet,
the atmosphere was unwholesome, and the furniture insufficient.  Mary
was in bed with rheumatism almost from the time of her arrival, but she
seemed thus to become the more vigilant over her daughter, and
distressed by her shortcomings.  If the Queen did not take exercise,
the suite were not supposed to require any, and indeed it was never
desired by her elder ladies, but to the country maiden it was absolute
punishment to be thus shut up day after day. Neither Sir Ralf Sadler
nor his colleague, Mr. Somer, had brought a wife to share the charge,
so that there was none of the neutral ground afforded by intercourse
with the ladies of the Talbot family, and at first the only variety
Cicely ever had was the attendance at chapel on the other side of the

It was remarkable that Mary discouraged all proselytising towards the
Protestants of her train, and even forbore to make any open attempt on
her daughter's faith. "Cela viendra," she said to Marie de Courcelles.
"The sermons of M. le Pasteur will do more to convert her to our side
than a hundred controversial arguments of our excellent Abbe; and when
the good time comes, one High Mass will be enough to win her over."

"Alas! when shall we ever again assist at the Holy Sacrifice in all its
glory!" sighed the lady.

"Ah, my good Courcelles! of what have you not deprived yourself for me!
Sacrifice, ah! truly you share it!  But for the child, it would give
needless offence and difficulty were she to embrace our holy faith at
present.  She is simple and impetuous, and has not yet sufficiently
outgrown the rude straightforward breeding of the good housewife, Madam
Susan, not to rush into open confession of her faith, and then! oh the
fracas!  The wicked wolves would have stolen a precious lamb from M. le
Pasteur's fold!  Master Richard would be sent for!  Our restraint would
be the closer!  Moreover, even when the moment of freedom strikes, who
knows that to find her of their own religion may not win us favour with
the English?"

So, from whatever motive, Cis remained unmolested in her religion, save
by the weariness of the controversial sermons, during which the young
lady contrived to abstract her mind pretty completely.  If in good
spirits she would construct airy castles for her Archduke; if
dispirited, she yearned with a homesick feeling for Bridgefield and
Mrs. Talbot.  There was something in the firm sober wisdom and steady
kindness of that good lady which inspired a sense of confidence, for
which no caresses nor brilliant auguries could compensate.

Weary and cramped she was to the point of having a feverish attack, and
on one slightly delirious night she fretted piteously after "mother,"
and shook off the Queen's hand, entreating that "mother, real mother,"
would come.  Mary was much pained, and declared that if the child were
not better the next day she should have a messenger sent to summon Mrs.
Talbot.  However, she was better in the morning; and the Queen, who had
been making strong representations of the unhealthiness and other
inconveniences of Tutbury, received a promise that she should change
her abode as soon as Chartley, a house belonging to the young Earl of
Essex, could be prepared for her.

The giving away large alms had always been one of her great
solaces--not that she was often permitted any personal contact with the
poor: only to sit at a window watching them as they flocked into the
court, to be relieved by her servants under supervision from some
officer of her warders, so as to hinder any surreptitious communication
from passing between them.  Sometimes, however, the poor would accost
her or her suite as she rode out; and she had a great compassion for
them, deprived, as she said, of the alms of the religious houses, and
flogged or branded if hunger forced them into beggary.  On a fine
spring day Sir Ralf Sadler invited the ladies out to a hawking party on
the banks of the Dove, with the little sparrow hawks, whose prey was
specially larks.  Pity for the beautiful soaring songster, or for the
young ones that might be starved in their nests, if the parent birds
were killed, had not then been thought of.  A gallop on the moors,
though they were strangely dull, gray, and stony, was always the best
remedy for the Queen's ailments; and the party got into the saddle
gaily, and joyously followed the chase, thinking only of the dexterity
and beauty of the flight of pursuer and pursued, instead of the deadly
terror and cruel death to which they condemned the created creature,
the very proverb for joyousness.

It was during the halt which followed the slaughter of one of the
larks, and the reclaiming of the hawk, that Cicely strayed a little
away from the rest of the party to gather some golden willow catkins
and sprays of white sloe thorn wherewith to adorn a beaupot that might
cheer the dull rooms at Tutbury.

She had jumped down from her pony for the purpose, and was culling the
branch, when from the copsewood that clothed the gorge of the river a
ragged woman, with a hood tied over her head, came forward with
outstretched hand asking for alms.

"Yon may have something from the Queen anon, Goody, when I can get back
to her," said Cis, not much liking the looks or the voice of the woman.

"And have you nothing to cross the poor woman's hand with, fair
mistress?" returned the beggar.  "She brought you fair fortune once;
how know you but she can bring you more?"

And Cicely recognised the person who had haunted her at Sheffield,
Tideswell, and Buxton, and whom she had heard pronounced to be no woman
at all.

"I need no fortune of your bringing," she said proudly, and trying to
get nearer the rest of the party, heartily wishing she was on, not off,
her little rough pony.

"My young lady is proud," said her tormentor, fixing on her the little
pale eyes she so much disliked.  "She is not one of the maidens who
would thank one who can make or mar her life, and cast spells that can
help her to a princely husband or leave her to a prison."

"Let go," said Cicely, as she saw a retaining hand laid on her pony's
bridle; "I will not be beset thus."

"And this is your gratitude to her who helped you to lie in a queen's
bosom; ay, and who could aid you to rise higher or fall lower?"

"I owe nothing to you," said Cicely, too angry to think of prudence.
"Let me go!"

There was a laugh, and not a woman's laugh.  "You owe nothing, quoth my
mistress?  Not to one who saw you, a drenched babe, brought in from the
wreck, and who gave the sign which has raised you to your present
honours?  Beware!"

By this time, however, the conversation had attracted notice, and
several riders were coming towards them.

There was an immediate change of voice from the threatening tone to the
beggar's whine; but the words were--"I must have my reward ere I speak

"What is this?  A masterful beggar wife besetting Mistress Talbot,"
said Mr. Somer, who came first.

"I had naught to give her," said Cicely.

"She should have the lash for thus frightening you," said Somer.
"Yonder lady is too good to such vagabonds, and they come about us in
swarms.  Stand back, woman, or it may be the worse for you.  Let me
help you to your horse, Mistress Cicely."

Instead of obeying, the seeming woman, to gain time perhaps, began a
story of woe; and Mr. Somer, being anxious to remount the young lady,
did not immediately stop it, so that before Cis was in her saddle the
Queen had ridden up, with Sir Ralf Sadler a little behind her.  There
were thus a few seconds free, in which the stranger sprang to the
Queen's bridle and said a few hasty words almost inaudibly, and as Cis
thought, in French; but they were answered aloud in English--"My good
woman, I know all that you can tell me, and more, of this young lady's
fortune.  Here are such alms as are mine to give; but hold your peace,
and quit us now."

Sir Ralf Sadler and his son-in-law both looked suspicious at this
interview, and bade one of the grooms ride after the woman and see what
became of her, but the fellow soon lost right of her in the broken
ground by the river-side.

When the party reached home, there was an anxious consultation of the
inner circle of confidantes over Cicely's story.  Neither she nor the
Queen had the least doubt that the stranger was Cuthbert Langston, who
had been employed as an agent of hers for many years past; his
insignificant stature and colourless features eminently fitting him for
it.  No concealment was made now that he was the messenger with the
beads and bracelets, which were explained to refer to some ivory beads
which had been once placed among some spare purchased by the Queen, and
which Jean had recognised as part of a rosary belonging to poor Alison
Hepburn, the nurse who had carried the babe from Lochleven.  This had
opened the way to the recovery of her daughter. Mary and Sir Andrew
Melville had always held him to be devotedly faithful, but there had
certainly been something of greed, and something of menace in his
language which excited anxiety.  Cicely was sure that his expressions
conveyed that he really knew her royal birth, and meant to threaten her
with the consequences, but the few who had known it were absolutely
persuaded that this was impossible, and believed that he could only
surmise that she was of more importance than an archer's daughter.

He had told the Queen in French that he was in great need, and expected
a reward for his discretion respecting what he had brought her.  And
when he perceived the danger of being overheard, he had changed it into
a pleading, "I did but tell the fair young lady that I could cast a
spell that would bring her some good fortune.  Would her Grace hear it?"

"So," said Mary, "I could but answer him as I did, Sadler and Somer
being both nigh.  I gave him my purse, with all there was therein. How
much was it, Andrew?"

"Five golden pieces, besides groats and testers, madam," replied Sir

"If he come again, he must have more, if it can be contrived without
suspicion," said the Queen.  "I fear me he may become troublesome if he
guess somewhat, and have to be paid to hold his tongue."

"I dread worse than that," said Melville, apart to Jean Kennedy; "there
was a scunner in his een that I mislikit, as though her Grace had
offended him.  And if the lust of the penny-fee hath possessed him,
'tis but who can bid the highest, to have him fast body and soul.
Those lads! those lads!  I've seen a mony of them.  They'll begin for
pure love of the Queen and of Holy Church, but ye see, 'tis lying and
falsehood and disguise that is needed, and one way or other they get so
in love with it, that they come at last to lie to us as well as to the
other side, and then none kens where to have them! Cuthbert has been
over to that weary Paris, and once a man goes there, he leaves his
truth and honour behind him, and ye kenna whether he be serving you, or
Queen Elizabeth, or the deil himsel'. I wish I could stop that loon's
thrapple, or else wot how much he kens anent our Lady Bride."



"Yonder woman came to tell this young lady's fortune," said Sir Ralf, a
few days later.  "Did she guess what I, an old man, have to bode for
her!" and he smiled at the Queen.  "Here is a token I was entreated by
a young gentleman to deliver to this young lady, with his humble suit
that he may pay his devoirs to her to-morrow, your Grace permitting."

"I knew not," said Mary, "that my women had license to receive

"Assuredly not, as a rule, but this young gentleman, Mr. Babington of
Dethick, has my Lord and Lady of Shrewsbury's special commendation."

"I knew the young man," said Mary, with perfectly acted heedlessness.
"He was my Lady Shrewsbury's page in his boyhood.  I should have no
objection to receive him."

"That, madam, may not be," returned Sadler.  "I am sorry to say it is
contrary to the orders of the council, but if Mr. and Mrs. Curll, and
the fair Mistress Cicely, will do me the honour to dine with me
to-morrow in the hall, we may bring about the auspicious meeting my
Lady desires."

Cicely's first impulse had been to pout and say she wanted none of Mr.
Babington's tokens, nor his company; but her mother's eye held her
back, and besides any sort of change of scene, or any new face, could
not but be delightful, so there was a certain leap of the young heart
when the invitation was accepted for her; and she let Sir Ralf put the
token into her hand, and a choice one it was.  Everybody pressed to
look at it, while she stood blushing, coy and unwilling to display the
small egg-shaped watch of the kind recently invented at Nuremberg.  Sir
Ralf observed that the young lady showed a comely shamefast
maidenliness, and therewith bowed himself out of the room.

Cicely laughed with impatient scorn.  "Well spoken, reverend seignior,"
she said, as she found herself alone with the Queen.  "I wish my Lady
Countess would leave me alone.  I am none of hers."

"Nay, mademoiselle, be not thus disdainful," said the Queen, in a gay
tone of banter; "give me here this poor token that thou dost so
despise, when many a maiden would be distraught with delight and
gratitude.  Let me see it, I say."

And as Cicely, restraining with difficulty an impatient, uncourtly
gesture, placed the watch in her hand, her delicate deft fingers opened
the case, disregarding both the face and the place for inserting the
key; but dealing with a spring, which revealed that the case was
double, and that between the two thin plates of silver which formed it,
was inserted a tiny piece of the thinnest paper, written from corner to
corner with the smallest characters in cipher.  Mary laughed joyously
and triumphantly as she held it up.  "There, mignonne!  What sayest
thou to thy token now?  This is the first secret news I have had from
the outer world since we came to this weary Tutbury.  And oh! the
exquisite jest that my Lady and Sir Ralf Sadler should be the bearers!
I always knew some good would come of that suitor of thine!  Thou must
not flout him, my fair lady, nor scowl at him so with thy beetle brows."

"It seems but hard to lure him on with false hopes," said Cicely,

"Hoots, lassie," as Dame Jean would say, "'tis but joy and delight to
men to be thus tickled.  'Tis the greatest kindness we can do them thus
to amuse them," said Mary, drawing up her head with the conscious
fascination of the serpent of old Nile, and toying the while with the
ciphered letter, in eagerness, and yet dread, of what it might contain.

Such things were not easy to make out, even to those who had the key,
and Mary, unwilling to trust it out of her own hands, leant over it,
spelling it out for many minutes, but at last broke forth into a clear
ringing burst of girlish laughter and clasped her hands together,
"Mignonne, mignonne, it is too rare a jest to hold back. Deem not that
your Highness stands first here!  Oh no!  'Tis a letter from Bernardo
de Mendoza with a proposition for whose hand thinkest thou?  For this
poor old captive hand!  For mine, maiden.  Ay, and from whom?  From his
Excellency, the Prince of Parma, Lieutenant of the Netherlands.  Anon
will he be here with 30,000 picked men and the Spanish fleet; and then
I shall ride once again at the head of my brave men, hear trumpets
bray, and see banners fly!  We will begin to work our banner at once,
child, and let Sir Ralf think it is a bed-quilt for her sacred Majesty,
Elizabeth.  Thou look'st dismayed, little maiden."

"Spanish ships and men, madam, ah! and how would it be with my
father--Mr. and Mrs. Talbot, I mean?"

"Not a hair of their heads shall be touched, child.  We will send down
a chosen troop to protect them, with Babington at its head if thou
wilt.  But," added the Queen, recollecting herself, and perceiving that
she had startled and even shocked her daughter, "it is not to be
to-morrow, nor for many a weary month.  All that is here demanded is
whether, all being well, he might look for my hand as his guerdon.
Shall I propose thine instead?"

"O madam, he is an old man and full of gout!"

"Well! we will not pull caps for him just yet.  And see, thou must be
secret as the grave, child, or thou wilt ruin thy mother.  I ought not
to have told thee, but the surprise was too much for me, and thou canst
keep a secret.  Leave me now, child, and send me Monsieur Nau."

The next time any converse was held between mother and daughter, Queen
Mary said,  "Will it grieve thee much, my lassie, to return this
bauble, on the plea of thy duty to the good couple at Bridgefield?"

After all Cicely had become so fond of the curious and ingenious egg
that she was rather sorry to part with it, and there was a little
dismal resignation in her answer, "I will do your bidding, madam."

"Thou shalt have a better.  I will write to Chateauneuf for the
choicest that Paris can furnish," said Mary, "but seest thou, none
other mode is so safe for conveying an answer to this suitor of mine!
Nay, little one, do not fear.  He is not at hand, and if he be so
gout-ridden and stern as I have heard, we will find some way to content
him and make him do the service without giving thee a stepfather, even
though he be grandson to an emperor."

There was something perplexing and distressing to Cis in this sudden
mood of exultation at such a suitor.  However, Parma's proposal might
mean liberty and a recovered throne, and who could wonder at the joy
that even the faintest gleam of light afforded to one whose captivity
had lasted longer than Cicely's young life?--and then once more there
was an alternation of feeling at the last moment, when Cicely, dressed
in her best, came to receive instructions.

"I ken not, I ken not," said Mary, speaking the Scottish tongue, to
which she recurred in her moments of deepest feeling, "I ought not to
let it go.  I ought to tell the noble Prince to have naught to do with
a being like me.  'Tis not only the jettatura wherewith the Queen
Mother used to reproach me.  Men need but bear me good will, and misery
overtakes them.  Death is the best that befalls them!  The gentle
husband of my girlhood--then the frantic Chastelar, my poor, poor good
Davie, Darnley, Bothwell, Geordie Douglas, young Willie, and again
Norfolk, and the noble and knightly Don John!  One spark of love and
devotion to the wretched Mary, and all is over with them! Give me back
that paper, child, and warn Babington against ever dreaming of aid to a
wretch like me.  I will perish alone!  It is enough!  I will drag down
no more generous spirits in the whirlpool around me."

"Madam! madam!" exclaimed De Preaux the almoner, who was standing,
"this is not like your noble self.  Have you endured so much to be
fainthearted when the end is near, and you are made a smooth and
polished instrument, welded in the fire, for the triumph of the Church
over her enemies?"

"Ah, Father!" said the Queen, "how should not my heart fail me when I
think of the many high spirits who have fallen for my sake?  Ay, and
when I look out on yonder peaceful vales and happy homesteads, and
think of them ravaged by those furious Spaniards and Italians, whom my
brother of Anjou himself called very fiends!"

"Fiends are the tools of Divine wrath," returned Preaux.  "Look at the
profaned sanctuaries and outraged convents on which these proud English
have waxen fat, and say whether a heavy retribution be not due to them."

"Ah, father!  I may be weak, but I never loved persecution.  King
Francis and I were dragged to behold the executions at Amboise.  That
was enough for us.  His gentle spirit never recovered it, and I--I see
their contorted visages and forms still in my restless nights; and if
the Spanish dogs should deal with England as with Haarlem or Antwerp,
and all through me!--Oh! I should be happier dying within these walls!"

"Nay, madam, as Queen you would have the reins in your own hand: you
could exercise what wholesome severity or well-tempered leniency you
chose," urged the almoner; "it were ill requiting the favour of the
saints who have opened this door to you at last to turn aside now in
terror at the phantasy that long weariness of spirit hath conjured up
before you."

So Mary rallied herself, and in five minutes more was as eager in
giving her directions to Cicely and to the Curlls as though her heart
had not recently failed her.

Cis was to go forth with her chaperons, not by any means enjoying the
message to Babington, and yet unable to help being very glad to escape
for ever so short a time from the dull prison apartments. There might
be no great faith in her powers of diplomacy, but as it was probable
that Babington would have more opportunity of conversing with her than
with the Curlls, she was charged to attend heedfully to whatever he
might say.

Sir Ralf's son-in-law, Mr. Somer, was sent to escort the trio to the
hall at the hour of noon; and there, pacing the ample chamber, while
the board at the upper end was being laid, were Sir Ralf Sadler and his
guest Mr. Babington.  Antony was dressed in green velvet slashed with
primrose satin, setting off his good mien to the greatest advantage,
and he came up with suppressed but rapturous eagerness, bowing low to
Mrs. Curll and the secretary, but falling on his knee to kiss the hand
of the dark-browed girl.  Her recent courtly training made her much
less rustically awkward than she would have been a few months before,
but she was extremely stiff, and held her head as though her ruff were
buckram, as she began her lesson.  "Sir, I am greatly beholden to you
for this token, but if it be not sent with the knowledge and consent of
my honoured father and mother I may not accept of it."

"Alas! that you will say so, fair mistress," said Antony, but he was
probably prepared for this rejection, for he did not seem utterly
overwhelmed by it.

"The young lady exercises a wise discretion," said Sir Ralf Sadler to
Mrs. Curll. "If I had known that mine old friend Mr. Talbot of
Bridgefield was unfavourable to the suit, I would not have harboured
the young spark, but when he brought my Lady Countess's commendation, I
thought all was well."

Barbara Curll had her cue, namely, to occupy Sir Ralf so as to leave
the young people to themselves, so she drew him off to tell him in
confidence a long and not particularly veracious story of the
objections of the Talbots to Antony Babington; whilst her husband
engaged the attention of Mr. Somer, and there was a space in which, as
Antony took back the watch, he was able to inquire "Was the egg-shell

"Ay," said Cis, blushing furiously and against her will, "the egg was
sucked and replenished."

"Take consolation," said Antony, and as some one came near them, "Duty
and discretion shall, I trust, both be satisfied when I next sun myself
in the light of those lovely eyes."  Then, as the coast became more
clear, "You are about shortly to move.  Chartley is preparing for you."

"So we are told."

"There are others preparing," said Antony, bending over her, holding
her hand, and apparently making love to her with all his might. "Tell
me, lady, who hath charge of the Queen's buttery?  Is it faithful old
Halbert as at Sheffield?"

"It is," replied Cis.

"Then let him look well at the bottom of each barrel of beer supplied
for the use of her household.  There is an honest man, a brewer, at
Burton, whom Paulett will employ, who will provide that letters be sent
to and fro.  Gifford and Langston, who are both of these parts, know
him well."  Cis started at the name.  "Do you trust Langston then?" she

"Wholly!  Why, he is the keenest and ablest of all.  Have you not seen
him and had speech with him in many strange shapes?  He can change his
voice, and whine like any beggar wife."

"Yea," said Cis, "but the Queen and Sir Andrew doubted a little if he
meant not threats last time we met."

"All put on--excellent dissembling to beguile the keepers.  He told me
all," said Antony, "and how he had to scare thee and change tone
suddenly.  Why, he it is who laid this same egg, and will receive it.
There is a sworn band, as you know already, who will let her know our
plans, and be at her commands through that means.  Then, when we have
done service approaching to be worthy of her, then it may be that I
shall have earned at least a look or sign."

"Alas! sir," said Cicely, "how can I give you false hopes?"  For her
honest heart burnt to tell the poor fellow that she would in case of
his success be farther removed from him than ever.

"What would be false now shall be true then.  I will wring love from
thee by my deeds for her whom we both alike love, and then wilt thou be
mine own, my true Bride!"

By this time other guests had arrived, and the dinner was ready.
Babington was, in deference to the Countess, allowed to sit next to his
lady-love.  She found he had been at Sheffield, and had visited
Bridgefield, vainly endeavouring to obtain sanction to his addresses
from her adopted parents.  He saw how her eyes brightened and heard how
her voice quivered with eagerness to hear of what still seemed home to
her, and he was pleased to feel himself gratifying her by telling her
how Mrs. Talbot looked, and how Brown Dumpling had been turned out in
the Park, and Mr. Talbot had taken a new horse, which Ned had insisted
on calling "Fulvius," from its colour, for Ned was such a scholar that
he was to be sent to study at Cambridge.  Then he would have wandered
off to little Lady Arbell's being put under Master Sniggius's tuition,
but Cicely would bring him back to Bridgefield, and to Ned's brothers.

No, the boasted expedition to Spain had not begun yet.  Sir Francis
Drake was lingering about Plymouth, digging a ditch, it was said, to
bring water from Dartmoor.  He would never get license to attack King
Philip on his own shores.  The Queen knew better than to give it.
Humfrey and Diccon would get no better sport than robbing a ship or two
on the way to the Netherlands.  Antony, for his part, could not see
that piracy on the high seas was fit work for a gentleman.

"A gentleman loves to serve his queen and country in all places," said

"Ah!" said Antony, with a long breath, as though making a discovery,
"sits the wind in that quarter?"

"Antony," exclaimed she, in her eagerness calling him by the familiar
name of childhood, "you are in error.  I declare most solemnly that it
is quite another matter that stands in your way."

"And you will not tell me wherefore you are thus cruel?"

"I cannot, sir.  You will understand in time that what you call cruelty
is true kindness."

This was the gist of the interview.  All the rest only repeated it in
one form or another; and when Cis returned, it was with a saddened
heart, for she could not but perceive that Antony was well-nigh crazed,
not so much with love of her, as with the contemplation of the wrongs
of the Church and the Queen, whom he regarded with equally passionate
devotion, and with burning zeal and indignation to avenge their
sufferings, and restore them to their pristine glory.  He did, indeed,
love her, as he professed to have done from infancy, but as if she were
to be his own personal portion of the reward.  Indeed there was
magnanimity enough in the youth almost to lose the individual hope in
the dazzle of the great victory for which he was willing to devote his
own life and happiness in the true spirit of a crusader.  Cicely did
not fully or consciously realise all this, but she had such a glimpse
of it as to give her a guilty feeling in concealing from him the whole
truth, which would have shown how fallacious were the hopes that her
mother did not scruple, for her own purposes, to encourage.  Poor
Cicely! she had not had royal training enough to look on all subjects
as simply pawns on the monarch's chess-board; and she was so evidently
unhappy over Babington's courtship, and so little disposed to enjoy her
first feminine triumph, that the Queen declared that Nature had
designed her for the convent she had so narrowly missed; and, valuable
as was the intelligence she had brought, she was never trusted with the
contents of the correspondence.  On the removal of Mary to Chartley the
barrel with the false bottom came into use, but the secretaries Nau and
Curll alone knew in full what was there conveyed.  Little more was said
to Cicely of Babington.

However, it was a relief when, before the end of this summer, Cicely
heard of his marriage to a young lady selected by the Earl.  She hoped
it would make him forget his dangerous inclination to herself; but yet
there was a little lurking vanity which believed that it had been
rather a marriage for property's than for love's sake.



It was in the middle of the summer of 1586 that Humfrey and his young
brother Richard, in broad grass hats and long feathers, found
themselves again in London, Diccon looking considerably taller and
leaner than when he went away.  For when, after many months' delay, the
naval expedition had taken place, he had been laid low with fever
during the attack on Florida by Sir Francis Drake's little fleet; and
the return to England had been only just in time to save his life.
Though Humfrey had set forth merely as a lieutenant, he had returned in
command of a vessel, and stood in high repute for good discipline,
readiness of resource, and personal exploits.  His ship had, however,
suffered so severely as to be scarcely seaworthy when the fleet arrived
in Plymouth harbour; and Sir Francis, finding it necessary to put her
into dock and dismiss her crew, had chosen the young Captain Talbot to
ride to London with his despatches to her Majesty.

The commission might well delight the brothers, who were burning to
hear of home, and to know how it fared with Cicely, having been
absolutely without intelligence ever since they had sailed from
Plymouth in January, since which they had plundered the Spaniard both
at home and in the West Indies, but had had no letters.

They rode post into London, taking their last change of horses at
Kensington, on a fine June evening, when the sun was mounting high upon
the steeple of St. Paul's, and speeding through the fields in hopes of
being able to reach the Strand in time for supper at Lord Shrewsbury's
mansion, which, even in the absence of my Lord, was always a harbour
for all of the name of Talbot.  Nor, indeed, was it safe to be out
after dark, for the neighbourhood of the city was full of roisterers of
all sorts, if not of highwaymen and cutpurses, who might come in
numbers too large even for the two young gentlemen and the two
servants, who remained out of the four volunteers from Bridgefield.

They were just passing Westminster where the Abbey, Hall, and St.
Stephen's Chapel, and their precincts, stood up in their venerable but
unstained beauty among the fields and fine trees, and some of the
Westminster boys, flat-capped, gowned, and yellow-stockinged, ran out
with the cry that always flattered Diccon, not to say Humfrey, though
he tried to be superior to it, "Mariners! mariners from the Western
Main!  Hurrah for gallant Drake!  Down with the Don!"  For the tokens
of the sea, in the form of clothes and weapons, were well known and
highly esteemed.

Two or three gentlemen who were walking along the road turned and
looked up, and the young sailors recognised in a moment a home face.
There was an exclamation on either side of "Antony Babington!" and
"Humfrey Talbot!" and a ready clasp of the hand in right of old

"Welcome home!" exclaimed Antony.  "Is all well with you?"

"Royally well," returned Humfrey.  "Know'st thou aught of our father
and mother?"

"All was well with them when last I heard," said Antony.

"And Cis--my sister I mean?" said Diccon, putting, in his
unconsciousness, the very question Humfrey was burning to ask.

"She is still with the Queen of Scots, at Chartley," replied Babington.

"Chartley, where is that?  It is a new place for her captivity."

"'Tis a house of my Lord of Essex, not far from Lichfield," returned
Antony.  "They sent her thither this spring, after they had well-nigh
slain her with the damp and wretched lodgings they provided at Tutbury."

"Who?  Not our Cis?" asked Diccon.

"Nay," said Antony, "it hurt not her vigorous youth--but I meant the
long-suffering princess."

"Hath Sir Ralf Sadler still the charge of her?" inquired Humfrey.

"No, indeed.  He was too gentle a jailer for the Council.  They have
given her Sir Amias Paulett, a mere Puritan and Leicestrian, who is as
hard as the nether millstone, and well-nigh as dull," said Babington,
with a little significant chuckle, which perhaps alarmed one of his
companions, a small slight man with a slight halt, clad in black like a
lawyer.  "Mr. Babington," he said, "pardon me for interrupting you, but
we shall make Mr. Gage tarry supper for us."

"Nay, Mr. Langston," said Babington, who was in high spirits, "these
are kinsmen of your own, sons of Mr. Richard Talbot of Bridgefield, to
whom you have often told me you were akin."

Mr. Langston was thus compelled to come forward, shake hands with the
young travellers, welcome them home, and desire to be commended to
their worthy parents; and Babington, in the exuberance of his welcome,
named his other two companions--Mr. Tichborne, a fine, handsome,
graceful, and somewhat melancholy young man; Captain Fortescue, a
bearded moustached bravo, in the height of the fashion, a long plume in
his Spanish hat, and his short gray cloak glittering with silver lace.
Humfrey returned their salute, but was as glad as they evidently were
when they got Babington away with them, and left the brothers to pursue
their way, after inviting them to come and see him at his lodgings as
early as possible.

"It is before supper," said Diccon, sagely, "or I should say Master
Antony had been acquainted with some good canary."

"More likely he is uplifted with some fancy of his own.  It may be only
with the meeting of me after our encounter," said Humfrey.  "He is a
brave fellow and kindly, but never did craft so want ballast as does
that pate of his!"

"Humfrey," said his brother, riding nearer to him, "did he not call
that fellow in black, Langston?"

"Ay, Cuthbert Langston.  I have heard of him.  No good comrade for his
weak brain."

"Humfrey, it is so, though father would not credit me.  I knew his halt
and his eye--just like the venomous little snake that was the death, of
poor Foster.  He is the same with the witch woman Tibbott, ay, and with
her with the beads and bracelets, who beset Cis and me at Buxton."

Young Diccon had proved himself on the voyage to have an unerring eye
for recognition, and his brother gave a low whistle.  "I fear me then
Master Antony may be running himself into trouble."

"See, they turn in mounting the steps to the upper fence of yonder
house with the deep carved balcony.  Another has joined them!  I like
not his looks.  He is like one of those hardened cavaliers from the

"Ay! who seem to have left pity and conscience behind them there," said
Humfrey, looking anxiously up at the fine old gabled house with its
projecting timbered front, and doubting inwardly whether it would be
wise to act on his old playfellow's invitation, yet with an almost sick
longing to know on what terms the youth stood with Cicely.

In another quarter of an hour they were at the gateway of Shrewsbury
House, where the porter proved to be one of the Sheffield retainers,
and admitted them joyfully.  My Lord Earl was in Yorkshire, he said,
but my Lord and Lady Talbot were at home, and would be fain to see
them, and there too was Master William Cavendish.

They were handed on into the courtyard, where servants ran to take
their horses, and as the news ran that Master Richard's sons had
arrived from the Indies, Will Cavendish came running down the hall
steps to embrace them in his glee, while Lord Talbot came to the door
of the hall to welcome them.  These great London houses, which had not
quite lost their names of hostels or inns, did really serve as free
lodgings to all members of the family who might visit town, and above
all such travellers as these, bringing news of grand national

Very soon after Gilbert's accession to the heirship, quarrels had begun
between his wife and her mother the Countess.

Lord Talbot had much of his father's stately grace, and his wife was a
finished lady.  They heartily welcomed the two lads who had grown from
boys to men.  My lady smilingly excused the riding-gear, and as soon as
the dust of travel had been removed they were seated at the board, and
called on to tell of the gallant deeds in which they had taken part,
whilst they heard in exchange of Lord Leicester's doings in the
Netherlands, and the splendid exploits of the Stanleys at Zutphen.

Lord Talbot promised to take Humfrey to Richmond the next day, to be
presented to her Majesty, so soon as he should be equipped, so as not
to lose his character of mariner, but still not to affront her
sensibilities by aught of uncourtly or unstudied in his apparel.

They confirmed what Babington had said of the Queen of Scots' changes
of residence and of keepers.  As to Cicely, they had been lately so
little at Sheffield that they had almost forgotten her, but they
thought that if she were still at Chartley, there could be no objection
to her brothers having an interview with her on their way home, if they
chose to go out of their road for it.

Humfrey mentioned his meeting with Babington in Westminster, and Lord
Talbot made some inquiries as to his companions, adding that there were
strange stories and suspicions afloat, and that he feared that the
young man was disaffected and was consorting with Popish recusants.
Diccon's tongue was on the alert with his observation, but at a sign
from his brother, who did not wish to get Babington into trouble, he
was silent.  Cavendish, however, laughed and said he was for ever in
Mr. Secretary's house, and even had a room there.

Very early the next morning the body servant of his Lordship was in
attendance with a barber and the fashionable tailor of the Court, and
in good time Humfrey and Diccon were arrayed in such garments as were
judged to suit the Queen's taste, and to become the character of young
mariners from the West.  Humfrey had a dainty jewel of shell-work from
the spoils of Carthagena, entrusted to him by Drake to present to the
Queen as a foretaste of what was to come.  Lady Talbot greatly admired
its novelty and beauty, and thought the Queen would be enchanted with
it, giving him a pretty little perfumed box to present it in.

Lord Talbot, well pleased to introduce his spirited young cousins, took
them in his boat to Richmond, which they reached just as the evening
coolness came on.  They were told that her Majesty was walking in the
Park, and thither, so soon as the ruffs had been adjusted and the fresh
Spanish gloves drawn on, they resorted.

The Queen walked freely there without guards--without even swords being
worn by the gentlemen in attendance--loving as she did to display her
confidence in her people.  No precautions were taken, but they were
allowed to gather together on the greensward to watch her, as among the
beautiful shady trees she paced along.

The eyes of the two youths were eagerly directed towards her, as they
followed Lord Talbot.  Was she not indeed the cynosure of all the
realm?  Did she not hold the heart of every loyal Englishman by an
invisible rein?  Was not her favour their dream and their reward? She
was a little in advance of her suite.  Her hair, of that light sandy
tint which is slow to whiten, was built up in curls under a rich stiff
coif, covered with silver lace, and lifted high at the temples.  From
this a light gauze veil hung round her shoulders and over her splendid
standing ruff, which stood up like the erected neck ornaments of some
birds, opening in front, and showing the lesser ruff or frill
encircling her throat, and terminating a lace tucker within her low-cut
boddice.  Rich necklaces, the jewel of the Garter, and a whole
constellation of brilliants, decorated her bosom, and the boddice of
her blue satin dress and its sleeves were laced with seed pearls.  The
waist, a very slender one, was encircled with a gold cord and heavy
tassels, the farthingale spread out its magnificent proportions, and a
richly embroidered white satin petticoat showed itself in front, but
did not conceal the active, well-shaped feet. There was something
extraordinarily majestic in her whole bearing, especially the poise of
her head, which made the spectator never perceive how small her stature
actually was.  Her face and complexion, too, were of the cast on which
time is slow to make an impression, being always pale and fair, with
keen and delicately-cut features; so that her admirers had quite as
much reason to be dazzled as when she was half her present age; nay,
perhaps more, for the habit of command had added to the regality which
really was her principal beauty.  Sir Christopher Hatton, with a
handsome but very small face at the top of a very tall and portly
frame, dressed in the extreme of foppery, came behind her, and then a
bevy of ladies and gentlemen.

As the Talbots approached, she was moving slowly on, unusually erect
even for her, and her face composed to severe majesty, like that of a
judge, the tawny eyes with a strange gleam in them fixed on some one in
the throng on the grass near at hand.  Lord Talbot advanced with a bow
so low that he swept the ground with his plume, and while the two
youths followed his example, Diccon's quick eye noted that she glanced
for one rapid second at their weapons, then continued her steady gaze,
never withdrawing it even to receive Lord Talbot's salutation as he
knelt before her, though she said, "We greet you well, my good lord.
Are not we well guarded, not having one man with a sword near me?"

"Here are three good swords, madam," returned he, "mine own, and those
of my two young kinsmen, whom I venture to present to your Majesty, as
they bear greetings from your trusty servant, Sir Francis Drake."

While he spoke there had been a by-play unperceived by him, or by the
somewhat slow and tardy Hatton.  A touch from Diccon had made Humfrey
follow the direction of the Queen's eye, and they saw it was fixed on a
figure in a loose cloak strangely resembling that which they had seen
on the stair of the house Babington had entered.  They also saw a
certain quailing and cowering of the form, and a scowl on the shaggy
red eyebrows, and Irish features, and Humfrey at once edged himself so
as to come between the fellow and the Queen, though he was ready to
expect a pistol shot in his back, but better thus, was his thought,
than that it should strike her,--and both laid their hands on their

"How now!" said Hatton, "young men, you are over prompt.  Her Majesty
needs no swords.  You are out of rank.  Fall in and do your obeisance."

Something in the Queen's relaxed gaze told Humfrey that the peril was
over, and that he might kneel as Talbot named him, explaining his
lineage as Elizabeth always wished to have done.  A sort of tremor
passed over her, but she instantly recalled her attention.  "From
Drake!" she said, in her clear, somewhat shrill voice.  "So, young
gentleman, you have been with the pirate who outruns our orders, and
fills our brother of Spain with malice such that he would have our life
by fair or foul means."

"That shall he never do while your Grace has English watch-dogs to
guard you," returned Talbot.

"The Talbot is a trusty hound by water or by land," said Elizabeth,
surveying the goodly proportion of the elder brother.  "Whelps of a
good litter, though yonder lad be somewhat long and lean.  Well, and
how fares Sir Francis?  Let him make his will, for the Spaniards one
day will have his blood."

"I have letters and a token from him for your Grace," said Humfrey.

"Come then in," said the Queen.  "We will see it in the bower, and hear
what thou wouldst say."

A bower, or small summer-house, stood at the end of the path, and here
she took her way, seating herself on a kind of rustic throne evidently
intended for her, and there receiving from Humfrey the letter and the
gift, and asking some questions about the voyage; but she seemed
preoccupied and anxious, and did not show the enthusiastic approbation
of her sailors' exploits which the young men expected. After glancing
over it, she bade them carry the letter to Mr. Secretary Walsingham the
next day; nor did she bid the party remain to supper; but as soon as
half a dozen of her gentlemen pensioners, who had been summoned by her
orders, came up, she rose to return to the palace.



Will Cavendish, who was in training for a statesman, and acted as a
secretary to Sir Francis Walsingham, advised that the letters should be
carried to him at once that same evening, as he would be in attendance
on the Queen the next morning, and she would inquire for them.

The great man's house was not far off, and he walked thither with
Humfrey, who told him what he had seen, and asked whether it ought not
at once to be reported to Walsingham.

Will whistled.  "They are driving it very close," he said.  "Humfrey;
old comrade, thy brains were always more of the order fit to face a
tough breeze than to meddle with Court plots.  Credit me, there is
cause for what amazed thee.  The Queen and her Council know what they
are about.  Risk a little, and put an end to all the plottings for
ever!  That's the word."

"Risk even the Queen's life?"

Will Cavendish looked sapient, and replied, "We of the Council Board
know many a thing that looks passing strange."

Mr. Secretary Walsingham's town house was, like Lord Talbot's, built
round a court, across which Cavendish led the way, with the assured air
of one used to the service, and at home there.  The hall was thronged
with people waiting, but Cavendish passed it, opened a little wicket,
and admitted his friends into a small anteroom, where he bade them
remain, while he announced them to Sir Francis.

He disappeared, shutting a door behind him, and after a moment's
interval another person, with a brown cloak round him, came hastily and
stealthily across to the door.  He had let down the cloak which muffled
his chin, not expecting the presence of any one, and there was a
moment's start as he was conscious of the young men standing there.  He
passed through the door instantly, but not before Humfrey had had time
to recognise in him no other than Cuthbert Langston, almost the last
person he would have looked for at Sir Francis Walsingham's.  Directly
afterwards Cavendish returned.

"Sir Francis could not see Captain Talbot, and prayed him to excuse
him, and send in the letter."

"It can't be helped," said Cavendish, with his youthful airs of
patronage.  "He would gladly have spoken with you when I told him of
you, but that Maude is just come on business that may not tarry.  So
you must e'en entrust your packet to me."

"Maude," repeated Humfrey, "Was that man's name Maude?  I should have
dared be sworn that he was my father's kinsman, Cuthbert Langston."

"Very like," said Will, "I would dare be sworn to nothing concerning
him, but that he is one of the greatest and most useful villains

So saying, Will Cavendish disappeared with the letters.  He probably
had had a caution administered to him, for when he returned he was
evidently swelling with the consciousness of a State secret, which he
would not on any account betray, yet of the existence of which he
desired to make his old comrade aware.

Humfrey asked whether he had told Mr. Secretary of the man in Richmond

"Never fear! he knows it," returned the budding statesman.  "Why, look
you, a man like Sir Francis has ten thousand means of intelligence that
a simple mariner like you would never guess at.  I thought it strange
myself when I came first into business of State, but he hath eyes and
ears everywhere, like the Queen's gown in her picture.  Men of the
Privy Council, you see, must despise none, for the lewdest and meanest
rogues oft prove those who can do the best service, just as the
bandy-legged cur will turn the spit, or unearth the fox when your
gallant hound can do nought but bay outside."

"Is this Maude, or Langston, such a cur?"

Cavendish gave his head a shake that expressed unutterable things,
saying: "Your kinsman, said you?  I trust not on the Talbot side of the

"No.  On his mother's side.  I wondered the more to see him here as he
got that halt in the Rising of the North, and on the wrong side, and
hath ever been reckoned a concealed Papist."

"Ay, ay.  Dost not see, mine honest Humfrey, that's the very point that
fits him for our purpose?"

"You mean that he is a double traitor and informer."

"We do not use such hard words in the Privy Council Board as you do on
deck, my good friend," said Cavendish.  "We have our secret
intelligencers, you see, all in the Queen's service.  Foul and dirty
work, but you can't dig out a fox without soiling of fingers, and if
there be those that take kindly to the work, why, e'en let them do it."

"Then there is a plot?"

"Content you, Humfrey!  You'll hear enough of it anon.  A most foul,
bloody, and horrible plot, quite enough to hang every soul that has
meddled in it, and yet safe to do no harm--like poor Hal's blunderbuss,
which would never go off, except when it burst, and blew him to pieces."

Will felt that he had said quite enough to impress Humfrey with a sense
of his statecraft and importance, and was not sorry for an interruption
before he should have said anything dangerous.  It was from Frank
Pierrepoint, who had been Diccon's schoolmate, and was enchanted to see
him.  Humfrey was to stay one day longer in town in case Walsingham
should wish to see him, and to show Diccon something of London, which
they had missed on their way to Plymouth.

St. Paul's Cathedral was even then the sight that all Englishmen were
expected to have seen, and the brothers took their way thither,
accompanied by Frank Pierrepoint, who took their guidance on his hands.
Had the lads seen the place at the opening of the century they would
have thought it a piteous spectacle, for desecration and sacrilege had
rioted there unchecked, the magnificent peal of bells had been gambled
away at a single throw of the dice, the library had been utterly
destroyed, the magnificent plate melted up, and what covetous
fanaticism had spared had been further ravaged by a terrible fire.  At
this time Bishop Bancroft had done his utmost towards reparation, and
the old spire had been replaced by a wooden one; but there was much of
ruin and decay visible all around, where stood the famous octagon
building called Paul's Cross, where outdoor sermons were preached to
listeners of all ranks.  This was of wood, and was kept in moderately
good repair.  Beyond, the nave of the Cathedral stretched its length,
the greatest in England.  Two sets of doors immediately opposite to one
another on the north and south sides had rendered it a thoroughfare in
very early times, in spite of the endeavours of the clergy; and at this
time "Duke Humfrey's Walk," from the tomb of Duke Humfrey Stafford, as
the twelve grand Norman bays of this unrivalled nave were called, was
the prime place for the humours of London; and it may be feared that
this, rather than the architecture, was the chief idea in the minds of
the youths, as a babel of strange sounds fell on their ears, "a still
roar like a humming of bees," as it was described by a contemporary,
or, as Humfrey said, like the sea in a great hollow cave.  A cluster of
choir-boys were watching at the door to fall on any one entering with
spurs on, to levy their spur money, and one gentleman, whom they had
thus attacked, was endeavouring to save his purse by calling on the
youngest boy to sing his gamut.

Near at hand was a pillar, round which stood a set of men, some rough,
some knavish-looking, with the blue coats, badges, short swords, and
bucklers carried by serving-men.  They were waiting to be hired, as if
in a statute fair, and two or three loud-voiced bargains were going on.
In the middle aisle, gentlemen in all the glory of plumed hats,
jewelled ears, ruffed necks, Spanish cloaks, silken jerkins, velvet
hose, and be-rosed shoes, were marching up and down, some
attitudinising to show their graces, some discussing the news of the
day, for "Paul's Walk" was the Bond Street, the Row, the Tattersall's,
the Club of London.  Twelve scriveners had their tables to act as
letter-writers, and sometimes as legal advisers, and great amusement
might be had by those who chose to stand listening to the blundering
directions of their clients.  In the side aisles, horse-dealing,
merchants' exchanges, everything imaginable in the way of traffic was
going on.  Disreputable-looking men, who there were in sanctuary from
their creditors, there lurked around Humfrey Stafford's tomb; and young
Pierrepoint's warning to guard their purses was evidently not wasted,
for a country fellow, who had just lost his, was loudly demanding
justice, and getting jeered at for his simplicity in expecting to
recover it.

"Seest thou this?" said a voice close to Humfrey, and he found a hand
on his arm, and Babington, in the handsome equipment of one of the
loungers, close to him.

"A sorry sight, that would grieve my good mother," returned Humfrey.

"My Mother, the Church, is grieved," responded Antony.  "This is what
you have brought us to, for your so-called religion," he added,
ignorant or oblivious that these desecrations had been quite as
shocking before the Reformation.  "All will soon be changed, however,"
he added.

"Sir Thomas Gresham's New Exchange has cleared off some of the traffic,
they say," returned Humfrey.

"Pshaw!" said Antony; "I meant no such folly.  That were cleansing one
stone while the whole house is foul with shame.  No.  There shall be a
swift vengeance on these desecrators.  The purifier shall come again,
and the glory and the beauty of the true Faith shall be here as of old,
when our fathers bowed before the Holy Rood, instead of tearing it
down."  His eye glanced with an enthusiasm which Humfrey thought
somewhat wild, and he said, "Whist! these are not things to be thus
spoken of."

"All is safe," said Babington, drawing him within shelter of the
chantry of Sir John Beauchamp's tomb.  "Never heed Diccon--Pierrepoint
can guide him," and Humfrey saw their figures, apparently absorbed in
listening to the bidding for a horse.  "I have things of moment to say
to thee, Humfrey Talbot.  We have been old comrades, and had that
childish emulation which turns to love in manhood in the face of

Humfrey, recollecting how they had parted, held out his hand in
recognition of the friendliness.

"I would fain save thee," said Babington.  "Heretic and rival as thou
art, I cannot but love thee, and I would have thee die, if die thou
must, in honourable fight by sea or land, rather than be overtaken by
the doom that will fall on all who are persecuting our true and lawful
confessor and sovereign."

"Gramercy for thy good will, Tony," said Humfrey, looking anxiously to
see whether his old companion was in his right mind, yet remembering
what had been said of plots.

"Thou deem'st me raving," said Antony, smiling at the perplexed
countenance before him, "but thou wilt see too late that I speak sooth,
when the armies of the Church avenge the Name that has been profaned
among you!"

"The Spaniards, I suppose you mean," said Humfrey coolly.  "You must be
far gone indeed to hope to see those fiends turned loose on this
peaceful land, but by God's blessing we have kept them aloof before, I
trust we may again."

"You talk of God's blessing.  Look at His House," said Babington.

"He is more like to bless honest men who fight for their Queen, their
homes and hearths, than traitors who would bring in slaughterers and
butchers to work their will!"

"His glory is worked through judgment, and thus must it begin!"
returned the young man.  "But I would save thee, Humfrey," he added.
"Go thou back to Plymouth, and be warned to hold aloof from that prison
where the keepers will meet their fit doom! and the captive will be set
free.  Thou dost not believe," he added.  "See here," and drawing into
the most sheltered part of the chantry, he produced from his bosom a
picture in the miniature style of the period, containing six heads,
among which his own was plainly to be recognised, and likewise a face
which Humfrey felt as if he should never forget, that which he had seen
in Richmond Park, quailing beneath the Queen's eye. Round the picture
was the motto--

          "Hi mihi sunt comites quos ipsa pericula jungunt."

"I tell thee, Humfrey, thou wilt hear--if thou dost live to hear--of
these six as having wrought the greatest deed of our times!"

"May it only be a deed an honest man need not be ashamed of," said
Humfrey, not at all convinced of his friend's sanity.

"Ashamed of!" exclaimed Babington.  "It is blest, I tell thee, blest by
holy men, blest by the noble and suffering woman who will thus be
delivered from her martyrdom."

"Babington, if thou talkest thus, it will be my duty to have thee put
in ward," said Humfrey.

Antony laughed, and there was a triumphant ring very like insanity in
his laughter.  Humfrey, with a moment's idea that to hint that the
conspiracy was known would blast it at once, if it were real, said, "I
see not Cuthbert Langston among your six.  Know you, I saw him only
yestereven going into Secretary Walsingham's privy chamber."

"Was he so?" answered Babington.  "Ha! ha! he holds them all in play
till the great stroke be struck!  Why! am not I myself in Walsingham's
confidence?  He thinketh that he is about to send me to France to watch
the League.  Ha! ha!"

Here Humfrey's other companions turned back in search of him; Babington
vanished in the crowd, he hardly knew how, and he was left in
perplexity and extreme difficulty as to what was his duty as friend or
as subject.  If Babington were sane, there must be a conspiracy for
killing the Queen, bringing in the Spaniards and liberating Mary, and
he had expressly spoken of having had the latter lady's sanction, while
the sight of the fellow in Richmond Park gave a colour of probability
to the guess.  Yet the imprudence and absurdity of having portraits
taken of six assassins before the blow was struck seemed to contradict
all the rest.  On the other hand, Cavendish had spoken of having all
the meshes of the web in the hands of the Council; and Langston or
Maude seemed to be trusted by both parties.

Humfrey decided to feel his way with Will Cavendish, and that evening
spoke of having met Babington and having serious doubts whether he were
in his right mind.  Cavendish laughed, "Poor wretch!  I could pity
him," he said, "though his plans be wicked enough to merit no
compassion.  Nay, never fear, Humfrey.  All were overthrown, did I
speak openly.  Nay, to utter one word would ruin me for ever.  'Tis
quite sufficient to say that he and his fellows are only at large till
Mr. Secretary sees fit, that so his grip may be the more sure."

Humfrey saw he was to be treated with no confidence, and this made him
the more free to act.  There were many recusant gentlemen in the
neighbourhood of Chartley, and an assault and fight there were not
improbable, if, as Cavendish hinted, there was a purpose of letting the
traitors implicate themselves in the largest numbers and as fatally as
possible.  On the other hand, Babington's hot head might only fancy he
had authority from the Queen for his projects.  If, through Cicely, he
could convey the information to Mary, it might save her from even
appearing to be cognisant of these wild schemes, whatever they might
be, and to hint that they were known was the surest way to prevent
their taking effect.  Any way, Humfrey's heart was at Chartley, and
every warning he had received made him doubly anxious to be there in
person, to be Cicely's guardian in case of whatever danger might
threaten her.  He blessed the fiction which still represented him as
her brother, and which must open a way for him to see her, but he
resolved not to take Diccon thither, and parted with him when the roads
diverged towards Lichfield, sending to his father a letter which Diccon
was to deliver only into his own hand, with full details of all he had
seen and heard, and his motives for repairing to Chartley.

"Shall I see my little Cis?" thought he.  "And even if she play the
princess to me, how will she meet me?  She scorned me even when she was
at home.  How will it be now when she has been for well-nigh a year in
this Queen's training?  Ah! she will be taught to despise me! Heigh ho!
At least she may be in need of a true heart and strong arm to guard
her, and they shall not fail her."

Will Cavendish, in the plenitude of the official importance with which
he liked to dazzle his old playfellow, had offered him a pass to
facilitate his entrance, and he found reason to be glad that he had
accepted it, for there was a guard at the gate of Chartley Park, and he
was detained there while his letter was sent up for inspection to Sir
Amias Paulett, who had for the last few months acted as warder to the

However, a friendly message came back, inviting him to ride up.  The
house--though called a castle--had been rebuilt in hospitable domestic
style, and looked much less like a prison than Sheffield Lodge, but at
every enclosure stood yeomen who challenged the passers-by, as though
this were a time of alarm.  However, at the hall-door itself stood Sir
Amias Paulett, a thin, narrow-browed, anxious-looking man, with the
stiffest of ruffs, over which hung a scanty yellow beard.

"Welcome, sir," he said, with a nervous anxious distressed manner.
"Welcome, most welcome.  You will pardon any discourtesy, sir, but
these are evil times.  The son, I think, of good Master Richard Talbot
of Bridgefield?  Ay, I would not for worlds have shown any lack of
hospitality to one of his family.  It is no want of respect, sir.  No;
nor of my Lord's house; but these are ill days, and with my charge,
sir--if Heaven itself keep not the house--who knows what may chance or
what may be laid on me?"

"I understand," said Humfrey, smiling.  "I was bred close to Sheffield,
and hardly knew what 'twas to live beyond watch and ward."

"Yea!" said Paulett, shaking his head.  "You come of a loyal house,
sir; but even the good Earl was less exercised than I am in the charge
of this same lady.  But I am glad, glad to see you, sir.  And you would
see your sister, sir?  A modest young lady, and not indevout, though I
have sometimes seen her sleep at sermon.  It is well that the poor
maiden should see some one well affected, for she sitteth in the very
gate of Babylon; and with respect, sir, I marvel that a woman, so godly
as Mistress Talbot of Bridgefield is reported to be, should suffer it.
However, I do my poor best, under Heaven, to hinder the faithful of the
household from being tainted.  I have removed Preaux, who is well known
to be a Popish priest in disguise, and thus he can spread no more of
his errors.  Moreover, my chaplain, Master Blunden, with other godly
men, preaches three times a week against Romish errors, and all are
enforced to attend.  May their ears be opened to the truth!  I am about
to attend this lady on a ride in the Park, sir.  It might--if she be
willing--be arranged that your sister, Mistress Talbot, should spend
the time in your company, and methinks the lady will thereto agree, for
she is ever ready to show a certain carnal and worldly complaisance to
the wishes of her attendants, and I have observed that she greatly
affects the damsel, more, I fear, than may be for the eternal welfare
of the maiden's soul."



It was a beautiful bright summer day, and Queen Mary and some of her
train were preparing for their ride.  The Queen was in high spirits,
and that wonderful and changeful countenance of hers was beaming with
anticipation and hope, while her demeanour was altogether delightful to
every one who approached her.  She was adding some last instructions to
Nau, who was writing a letter for her to the French ambassador, and
Cicely stood by her, holding her little dog in a leash, and looking
somewhat anxious and wistful.  There was more going on round the girl
than she was allowed to understand, and it made her anxious and uneasy.
She knew that the correspondence through the brewer was actively
carried on, but she was not informed of what passed.  Only she was
aware that some crisis must be expected, for her mother was ceaselessly
restless and full of expectation.  She had put all her jewels and
valuables into as small a compass as possible, and talked more than
ever of her plans for giving her daughter either to the Archduke
Matthias, or to some great noble, as if the English crown were already
within her grasp. Anxious, curious, and feeling injured by the want of
confidence, yet not daring to complain, Cicely felt almost fretful at
her mother's buoyancy, but she had been taught a good many lessons in
the past year, and one of them was that she might indeed be caressed,
but that she must show neither humour nor will of her own, and the
least presumption in inquiry or criticism was promptly quashed.

There was a knock at the door, and the usher announced that Sir Amias
Paulett prayed to speak with her Grace.  Her eye glanced round with the
rapid emotion of one doubtful whether it were for weal or woe, yet with
undaunted spirit to meet either, and as she granted her permission, Cis
heard her whisper to Nau, "A rider came up even now! 'Tis the tidings!
Are the Catholics of Derby in the saddle?  Are the ships on the coast?"

In came the tall old man with a stiff reverence: "Madam, your Grace's
horses attend you, and I have tidings"--(Mary started
forward)--"tidings for this young lady, Mistress Cicely Talbot.  Her
brother is arrived from the Spanish Main, and requests permission to
see and speak with her."

Radiance flashed out on Cicely's countenance as excitement faded on
that of her mother: "Humfrey!  O madam! let me go to him!" she
entreated, with a spring of joy and clasped hands.

Mary was far too kind-hearted to refuse, besides to have done so would
have excited suspicion at a perilous moment, and the arrangement Sir
Amias proposed was quickly made.  Mary Seaton was to attend the Queen
in Cicely's stead, and she was allowed to hurry downstairs, and only
one warning was possible:

"Go then, poor child, take thine holiday, only bear in mind what and
who thou art."

Yet the words had scarce died on her ears before she was oblivious of
all save that it was a familial home figure who stood at the bottom of
the stairs, one of the faces she trusted most in all the world which
beamed out upon her, the hands which she knew would guard her through
everything were stretched out to her, the lips with veritable love in
them kissed the cheeks she did not withhold.  Sir Amias stood by and
gave the kindest smile she had seen from him, quite changing his
pinched features, and he proposed to the two young people to go and
walk in the garden together, letting them out into the square walled
garden, very formal, but very bright and gay, and with a pleached alley
to shelter them from the sun.

"Good old gentleman!" exclaimed Humfrey, holding the maiden's hand in
his.  "It is a shame to win such pleasure by feigning."

"As for that," sighed Cis, "I never know what is sooth here, and what
am I save a living lie myself?  O Humfrey! I am so weary of it all."

"Ah I would that I could bear thee home with me," he said, little
prepared for this reception.

"Would that thou couldst!  O that I were indeed thy sister, or that the
writing in my swaddling bands had been washed out!--Nay," catching back
her words, "I meant not that!  I would not but belong to the dear Lady
here.  She says I comfort her more than any of them, and oh! she
is--she is, there is no telling how sweet and how noble. It was only
that the sight of thee awoke the yearning to be at home with mother and
with father.  Forget my folly, Humfrey."

"I cannot soon forget that Bridgefield seems to thee thy true home," he
said, putting strong restraint on himself to say and do no more, while
his heart throbbed with a violence unawakened by storm or Spaniard.

"Tell me of them all," she said.  "I have heard naught of them since we
left Tutbury, where at least we were in my Lord's house, and the dear
old silver dog was on every sleeve.  Ah! there he is, the trusty rogue."

And snatching up Humfrey's hat, which was fastened with a brooch of his
crest in the fashion of the day, she kissed the familiar token. Then,
however, she blushed and drew herself up, remembering the caution not
to forget who she was, and with an assumption of more formal dignity,
she said, "And how fares it with the good Mrs. Talbot?"

"Well, when I last heard," said Humfrey, "but I have not been at home.
I only know what Will Cavendish and my Lord Talbot told me.  I sent
Diccon on to Bridgefield, and came out of the way to see you, lady," he
concluded, with the same regard to actual circumstances that she had

"Oh, that was good!" she whispered, and they both seemed to feel a
certain safety in avoiding personal subjects.  Humfrey had the history
of his voyage to narrate--to tell of little Diccon's gallant doings,
and to exalt Sir Francis Drake's skill and bravery, and at last to let
it ooze out, under Cis's eager questioning, that when his captain had
died of fever on the Hispaniola coast, and they had been overtaken by a
tornado, Sir Francis had declared that it was Humfrey's skill and
steadfastness which had saved the ship and crew.

"And it was that tornado," he said, "which stemmed the fever, and saved
little Diccon's life.  Oh! when he lay moaning below, then was the time
to long for my mother."

Time sped on till the great hall clock made Cicely look up and say she
feared that the riders would soon return, and then Humfrey knew that he
must make sure to speak the words of warning he came to utter.  He
told, in haste, of his message to Queen Elizabeth, and of his being
sent on to Secretary Walsingham, adding, "But I saw not the great man,
for he was closeted--with whom think you?   No other than Cuthbert
Langston, whom Cavendish called by another name.  It amazed me the
more, because I had two days before met him in Westminster with Antony
Babington, who presented him to me by his own name."

"Saw you Antony Babington?" asked Cis, raising her eyes to his face,
but looking uneasy.

"Twice, at Westminster, and again in Paul's Walk.  Had you seen him
since you have been here?"

"Not here, but at Tutbury.  He came once, and I was invited to dine in
the hall, because he brought recommendations from the Countess." There
was a pause, and then, as if she had begun to take in the import of
Humfrey's words, she added, "What said you?  That Mr. Langston was
going between him and Mr. Secretary?"

"Not exactly that," and Humfrey repeated with more detail what he had
seen of Langston, forbearing to ask any questions which Cicely might
not be able to answer with honour; but they had been too much together
in childhood not to catch one another's meaning with half a hint, and
she said, "I see why you came here, Humfrey.  It was good and true and
kind, befitting you.  I will tell the Queen.  If Langston be in it,
there is sure to be treachery.  But, indeed, I know nothing or
well-nigh nothing."

"I am glad of it," fervently exclaimed Humfrey.

"No; I only know that she has high hopes, and thinks that the term of
her captivity is well-nigh over.  But it is Madame de Courcelles whom
she trusts, not me," said Cicely, a little hurt.

"So is it much better for thee to know as little as possible," said
Humfrey, growing intimate in tone again in spite of himself.  "She hath
not changed thee much, Cis, only thou art more grave and womanly, ay,
and thou art taller, yea, and thinner, and paler, as I fear me thou
mayest well be."

"Ah, Humfrey, 'tis a poor joy to be a princess in prison!  And yet I
shame me that I long to be away.  Oh no, I would not.  Mistress Seaton
and Mrs. Curll and the rest might be free, yet they have borne this
durance patiently all these years--and I think--I think she loves me a
little, and oh! she is hardly used.  Humfrey, what think'st thou that
Mr. Langston meant?  I wot now for certain that it was he who twice
came to beset us, as Tibbott the huckster, and with the beads and
bracelets!  They all deem him a true friend to my Queen."

"So doth Babington," said Humfrey, curtly.

"Ah!" she said, with a little terrified sound of conviction, then
added, "What thought you of Master Babington?"

"That he is half-crazed," said Humfrey.

"We may say no more," said Cis, seeing a servant advancing from the
house to tell her that the riders were returning.  "Shall I see you
again, Humfrey?"

"If Sir Amias should invite me to lie here to-night, and remain
to-morrow, since it will be Sunday."

"At least I shall see you in the morning, ere you depart," she said, as
with unwilling yet prompt steps she returned to the house, Humfrey
feeling that she was indeed his little Cis, yet that some change had
come over her, not so much altering her, as developing the capabilities
he had always seen.

For herself, poor child, her feelings were in a strange turmoil, more
than usually conscious of that dual existence which had tormented her
ever since she had been made aware of her true birth.  Moreover, she
had a sense of impending danger and evil, and, by force of contrast,
the frank, open-hearted manner of Humfrey made her the more sensible of
being kept in the dark as to serious matters, while outwardly made a
pet and plaything by her mother, "just like Bijou," as she said to

"So, little one," said Queen Mary, as she returned, "thou hast been
revelling once more in tidings of Sheffield!  How long will it take me
to polish away the dulness of thy clownish contact?"

"Humphrey does not come from home, madam, but from London.  Madam, let
me tell you in your ear--"

Mary's eye instantly took the terrified alert expression which had come
from many a shock and alarm.  "What is it, child?" she asked, however,
in a voice of affected merriment.  "I wager it is that he has found his
true Cis.  Nay, whisper it to me, if it touch thy silly little heart so

Cicely knelt down, the Queen bending over her, while she murmured in
her ear, "He saw Cuthbert Langston, by a feigned name, admitted to Mr.
Secretary Walsingham's privy chamber."

She felt the violent start this information caused, but the command of
voice and countenance was perfect.

"What of that, mignonne?" she said.  "What knoweth he of this Langston,
as thou callest him?"

"He is my--no--his father's kinsman, madam, and is known to be but a
plotter.  Oh, surely, he is not in your secrets, madam, my mother,
after that day at Tutbury?"

"Alack, my lassie, Gifford or Babington answered for him," said the
Queen, "and he kens more than I could desire.  But this Humfrey of
thine!  How came he to blunder out such tidings to thee?"

"It was no blunder, madam.  He came here of purpose."

"Sure," exclaimed Mary, "it were too good to hope that he hath become
well affected.  He--a sailor of Drake's, a son of Master Richard! Hath
Babington won him over; or is it for thy sake, child?  For I bestowed
no pains to cast smiles to him at Sheffield, even had he come in my

"I think, madam," said Cicely, "that he is too loyal-hearted to bear
the sight of treachery without a word of warning."

"Is he so?  Then he is the first of his nation who hath been of such a
mind!  Nay, mignonne, deny not thy conquest.  This is thy work."

"I deny not that--that I am beloved by Humfrey," said Cicely, "for I
have known it all my life; but that goes for naught in what he deems it
right to do."

"There spoke so truly Mistress Susan's scholar that thou makest me
laugh in spite of myself and all the rest.  Hold him fast, my maiden;
think what thou wilt of his service, and leave me now, and send
Melville and Curll to me."

Cicely went away full of that undefined discomfort experienced by
generous young spirits when their elders, more worldly-wise (or
foolish), fail even to comprehend the purity or loftiness of motive
which they themselves thoroughly believe.  Yet, though she had
infinitely more faith in Humfrey's affection than she had in that of
Babington, she had not by any means the same dread of being used to
bait the hook for him, partly because she knew his integrity too well
to expect to shake it, and partly because he was perfectly aware of her
real birth, and could not be gulled with such delusive hopes as poor
Antony might once have been.

Humfrey meantime was made very welcome by Sir Amias Paulett, who
insisted on his spending the next day, Sunday, at Chartley, and made
him understand that he was absolutely welcome, as having a strong arm,
stout heart, and clear brain used to command.  "Trusty aid do I need,"
said poor Sir Amias, "if ever man lacked an arm of flesh.  The Council
is putting more on me than ever man had to bear, in an open place like
this, hard to be defended, and they will not increase the guard lest
they should give the alarm, forsooth!"

"What is it that you apprehend?" inquired Humfrey.

"There's enough to apprehend when all the hot-headed Papists of
Stafford and Derbyshire are waiting the signal to fire the outhouses
and carry off this lady under cover of the confusion.  Mr. Secretary
swears they will not stir till the signal be given, and that it never
will; but such sort of fellows are like enough to mistake the sign, and
the stress may come through their dillydallying to make all sure as
they say, and then, if there be any mischance, I shall be the one to
bear the blame.  Ay, if it be their own work!" he added, speaking to
himself, "Murder under trust!  That would serve as an answer to foreign
princes, and my head would have to pay for it, however welcome it might
be!  So, good Mr. Talbot, supposing any alarm should arise, keep you
close to the person of this lady, for there be those who would make the
fray a colour for taking her life, under pretext of hindering her from
being carried off."

It was no wonder that a warder in such circumstances looked harassed
and perplexed, and showed himself glad of being joined by any ally whom
he could trust.  In truth, harsh and narrow as he was, Paulett was too
good and religious a man for the task that had been thrust on him,
where loyal obedience, sense of expediency, and even religious
fanaticism, were all in opposition to the primary principles of truth,
mercy, and honour.  He was, besides, in constant anxiety, living as he
did between plot and counterplot, and with the certainty that
emissaries of the Council surrounded him who would have no scruple in
taking Mary's life, and leaving him to bear the blame, when Elizabeth
would have to explain the deed to the other sovereigns of Europe.  He
disclosed almost all this to Humfrey, whose frank, trustworthy
expression seemed to move him to unusual confidence.

At supper-time another person appeared, whom Humfrey thought he had
once seen at Sheffield--a thin, yellow-haired and bearded man, much
marked with smallpox, in the black dress of a lawyer, who sat above the
household servants, though below the salt.  Paulett once drank to him
with a certain air of patronage, calling him Master Phillipps, a name
that came as a revelation to Humfrey.  Phillipps was the decipherer who
had, he knew, been employed to interpret Queen Mary's letters after the
Norfolk plot.  Were there, then, fresh letters of that unfortunate lady
in his hands, or were any to be searched for and captured?



  "What vantage or what thing
  Gett'st thou thus for to sting,
    Thou false and flatt'ring liar?
  Thy tongue doth hurt, it's seen
  No less than arrows keen
    Or hot consuming fire."

So sang the congregation in the chapel at Chartley, in the strains of
Sternhold and Hopkins, while Humfrey Talbot could not forbear from a
misgiving whether these falsehoods were entirely on the side to which
they were thus liberally attributed.  Opposite to him stood Cicely, in
her dainty Sunday farthingale of white, embroidered with violet buds,
and a green and violet boddice to match, holding herself with that
unconscious royal bearing which had always distinguished her, but with
an expression of care and anxiety drawing her dark brows nearer
together as she bent over her book.

She knew that her mother had left her bed with the earliest peep of
summer dawn, and had met the two secretaries in her cabinet.  There
they were busy for hours, and she had only returned to her bed just as
the household began to bestir itself.

"My child," she said to Cicely, "I am about to put my life into thy
keeping and that of this Talbot lad.  If what he saith of this Langston
be sooth, I am again betrayed, fool that I was to expect aught else.
My life is spent in being betrayed.  The fellow hath been a go-between
in all that hath passed between Babington and me. If he hath uttered it
to Walsingham, all is over with our hopes, and the window in whose
sunlight I have been basking is closed for ever! But something may yet
be saved.  Something?  What do I say?--The letters I hold here would
give colour for taking my life, ay, and Babington's and Curll's, and
many more.  I trusted to have burnt them, but in this summer time there
is no coming by fire or candle without suspicion, and if I tore them
they might be pieced together, nay, and with addition.  They must be
carried forth and made away with beyond the ken of Paulett and his
spies.  Now, this lad hath some bowels of compassion and generous
indignation.  Thou wilt see him again, alone and unsuspected, ere he
departs.  Thou must deal with him to bear this packet away, and when he
is far out of reach to drop it into the most glowing fire, or the
deepest pool he can find. Tell him it may concern thy life and liberty,
and he will do it, but be not simple enough to say ought of Babington."

"He would be as like to do it for Babington as for any other," said Cis.

The Queen smiled and said, "Nineteen years old, and know thus little of

"I know Humfrey at least," said Cis.

"Then deal with him after thy best knowledge, to make him convey away
this perilous matter ere a search come upon us.  Do it we must, maiden,
not for thy poor mother's sake alone, but for that of many a faithful
spirit outside, and above all of poor Curll.  Think of our Barbara!
Would that I could have sent her out of reach of our alarms and shocks,
but Paulett is bent on penning us together like silly birds in the net.
Still proofs will be wanting if thou canst get this youth to destroy
this packet unseen.  Tell him that I know his parents' son too well to
offer him any meed save the prayers and blessings of a poor captive, or
to fear that he would yield it for the largest reward Elizabeth's
coffers could yield."

"It shall be done, madam," said Cicely.  But there was a strong purpose
in her mind that Humfrey should not be implicated in the matter.

When after dinner Sir Amias Paulett made his daily visit of inspection
to the Queen, she begged that the young Talbots might be permitted
another walk in the garden; and when he replied that he did not approve
of worldly pastime on the Sabbath, she pleaded the celebrated example
of John Knox finding Calvin playing at bowls on a Sunday afternoon at
Geneva, and thus absolutely prevailed on him to let them take a short
walk together in brotherly love, while the rest of the household was
collected in the hall to be catechised by the chaplain.

So out they went together, but to Humfrey's surprise, Cicely walked on
hardly speaking to him, so that he fancied at first that she must have
had a lecture on her demeanour to him.  She took him along the broad
terrace beside the bowling-green, through some yew-tree walks to a
stone wall, and a gate which proved to be locked.  She looked much
disappointed, but scanning the wall with her eye, said, "We have scaled
walls together before now, and higher than this.  Humfrey, I cannot
tell you why, but I must go over here."

The wall was overgrown with stout branches of ivy, and though the
Sunday farthingale was not very appropriate for climbing, Cicely's
active feet and Humfrey's strong arm carried her safely to where she
could jump down on the other side, into a sort of wilderness where
thorn and apple trees grew among green mounds, heaps of stones and
broken walls, the ruins of some old outbuilding of the former castle.
There was only a certain trembling eagerness about her, none of the
mirthful exultation that the recurrence of such an escapade with her
old companion would naturally have excited, and all she said was,
"Stand here, Humfrey; an you love me, follow me not.  I will return

With stealthy stop she disappeared behind a mound covered by a thicket
of brambles, but Humfrey was much too anxious for her safety not to
move quietly onwards.  He saw her kneeling by one of those black
yawning holes, often to be found in ruins, intent upon fastening a
small packet to a stone; he understood all in a moment, and drew back
far enough to secure that no one molested her.  There was something in
this reticence of hers that touched him greatly; it showed so entirely
that she had learnt the lesson of loyalty which his father's influence
had impressed, and likewise one of self-dependence.  What was right for
her to do for her mother and Queen might not be right for him, as an
Englishman, to aid and abet; and small as the deed seemed in itself,
her thus silently taking it on herself rather than perplex him with it,
added a certain esteem and respect to the affection he had always had
for her.

She came back to him with bounding steps, as if with a lightened heart,
and as he asked her what this strange place was, she explained that
here were said to be the ruins of the former castle, and that beyond
lay the ground where sometimes the party shot at the butts.  A little
dog of Mary Seaton's had been lost the last time of their archery, and
it was feared that he had fallen down the old well to which Cis now
conducted Humfrey.  There was a sound--long, hollow, reverberating,
when Humfrey threw a stone down, and when Cecily asked him, in an
awestruck voice, whether he thought anything thrown there would ever be
heard of more, he could well say that he believed not.

She breathed freely, but they were out of bounds, and had to scramble
back, which they did undetected, and with much more mirth than the
first time.  Cicely was young enough to be glad to throw off her
anxieties and forget them.  She did not want to talk over the plots she
only guessed at; which were not to her exciting mysteries, but gloomy
terrors into which she feared to look.  Nor was she free to say much to
Humfrey of what she knew.  Indeed the rebound, and the satisfaction of
having fulfilled her commission, had raised Cicely's spirits, so that
she was altogether the bright childish companion Humfrey had known her
before he went to sea, or royalty had revealed itself to her; and Sir
Amias Paulett would hardly have thought them solemn and serious enough
for an edifying Sunday talk could he have heard them laughing over
Humfrey's adventures on board ship, or her troubles in learning to
dance in a high and disposed manner.  She came in so glowing and happy
that the Queen smiled and sighed, and called her her little milkmaid,
commending her highly, however, for having disposed of the dangerous
parcel unknown (as she believed) to her companion.  "The fewer who have
to keep counsel, the sickerer it is," she said.

Humfrey meantime joined the rest of the household, and comported
himself at the evening sermon with such exemplary discretion as
entirely to win the heart of Sir Amias Paulett, who thought him
listening to Mr. Blunden's oft-divided headings, while he was in fact
revolving on what pretext he could remain to protect Cicely.  The
Knight gave him that pretext, when he spoke of departing early on
Monday morning, offering him, or rather praying him to accept, the
command of the guards, whose former captain had been dismissed as
untrustworthy.  Sir Amias undertook that a special messenger should be
sent to take a letter to Bridgefield, explaining Humfrey's delay, and
asking permission from his parents to undertake the charge, since it
was at this very crisis that he was especially in need of God-fearing
men of full integrity.  Then moved to confidence, the old gentleman
disclosed that not only was he in fear of an attack on the house from
the Roman Catholic gentry in the neighbourhood, which was to take place
as soon as Parma's ships were seen on the coast, but that he dreaded
his own servants being tampered with by some whom he would not mention
to take the life of the prisoner secretly.

"It hath been mooted to me," he said, lowering his voice to a whisper,
"that to take such a deed on me would be good service to the Queen and
to religion, but I cast the thought from me.  It can be nought but a
deadly sin--accursed of God--and were I to consent, I should be the
first to be accused."

"It would be no better than the King of Spain himself," exclaimed

"Even so, young man, and right glad am I to find one who thinks with
me.  For the other practices, they are none of mine, and is it not
written 'In the same pit which they laid privily is their foot taken'?"

"Then there are other practices?"

"Ask me no questions, Mr. Talbot.  All will be known soon enough.  Be
content that I will lay nothing on you inconsistent with the honour of
a Christian man, knowing that you will serve the Queen faithfully."

Humfrey gave his word, resolving that he would warn Cicely to reckon
henceforth on nothing on his part that did not befit a man in charge.



Humfrey had been sworn in of the service of the Queen, and had been put
in charge of the guard mustered at Chartley for about ten days, during
which he seldom saw Cicely, and wondered much not to have heard from
home: when a stag-hunt was arranged to take place at the neighbouring
park of Tickhill or Tixall, belonging to Sir Walter Ashton.

The chase always invigorated Queen Mary, and she came down in cheerful
spirits, with Cicely and Mary Seaton as her attendants, and with the
two secretaries, Nau and Curll, heading the other attendants.

"Now," she said to Cicely, "shall I see this swain, or this brother of
thine, who hath done us such good service, and I promise you there will
be more in my greeting than will meet Sir Amias's ear."

But to Cicely's disappointment Humfrey was not among the horsemen
mustered at the door to attend and guard the Queen.

"My little maid's eye is seeking for her brother," said Mary, as Sir
Amias advanced to assist her to her horse.

"He hath another charge which will keep him at home," replied Paulett,
somewhat gruffly, and they rode on.

It was a beautiful day in early August, the trees in full foliage, the
fields seen here and there through them assuming their amber harvest
tints, the twin spires of Lichfield rising in the distance, the park
and forest ground through which the little hunting-party rode rich with
purple heather, illuminated here and there with a bright yellow spike
or star, and the rapid motion of her brisk palfrey animated the Queen.
She began to hope that Humfrey had after all brought a false alarm, and
that either he had been mistaken or that Langston was deceiving the
Council itself, and though Sir Amias Paulett's close proximity held her
silent, those who knew her best saw that her indomitably buoyant
spirits were rising, and she hummed to herself the refrain of a gay
French hunting-song, with the more zest perhaps that her warder held
himself trebly upright, stiff and solemn under it, as one who thought
such lively times equally unbefitting a lady, a queen, and a captive.
So at least Cis imagined as she watched them, little guessing that
there might be deeper reasons of compassion and something like
compunction to add to the gravity of the old knight's face.

As they came in sight of the gate of Tickhill Park, they became aware
of a company whose steel caps and shouldered arquebuses did not look
like those of huntsmen.  Mary bounded in her saddle, she looked round
at her little suite with a glance of exultation in her eye, which said
as plainly as words, "My brave friends, the hour has come!" and she
quickened her steed, expecting, no doubt, that she might have to
outride Sir Amias in order to join them.

One gentleman came forward from the rest.  He held a parchment in his
hand, and as soon as he was alongside of the Queen thus read:--

"Mary, late Queen of Scots and Queen Dowager of France, I, Thomas
Gorges, attaint thee of high treason and of compassing the life of our
most Gracious Majesty Queen Elizabeth, in company with Antony
Babington, John Ballard, Chidiock Tichborne, Robert Barnwell, and

Mary held up her hands, and raised her eyes to Heaven, and a protest
was on her lips, but Gorges cut it short with, "It skills not denying
it, madam.  The proofs are in our hands.  I have orders to conduct you
to Tickhill, while seals are put on your effects."

"That there may be proofs of your own making," said the Queen, with
dignity.  "I have experience of that mode of judgment.  So, Sir Amias
Paulett, the chase you lured me to was truly of a poor hunted doe whom
you think you have run down at last.  A worthy chase indeed, and of
long continuance!"

"I do but obey my orders, madam," said Paulett, gloomily.

"Oh ay, and so does the sleuth-hound," said Mary.

"Your Grace must be pleased to ride on with me," said Mr. Gorges,
laying his hand on her bridle.

"What are you doing with those gentlemen?" cried Mary, sharply reining
in her horse, as she saw Nau and Curll surrounded by the armed men.

"They will be dealt with after her Majesty's pleasure," returned

Mary dropped her rein and threw up her hands with a gesture of despair,
but as Gorges was leading her away, she turned on her saddle, and
raised her voice to call out, "Farewell, my true and faithful servants!
Betide what may, your mistress will remember you in her prayers.
Curll, we will take care of your wife."

And she waved her hand to them as they were made, with a strong guard,
to ride off in the direction of Lichfield.  All the way to Tickhill,
whither she was conducted with Gorges and Paulett on either side of her
horse, Cis could hear her pleading for consideration for poor Barbara
Curll, for whose sake she forgot her own dignity and became a suppliant.

Sir Walter Ashton, a dull heavy-looking country gentleman of burly form
and ruddy countenance, stood at his door, and somewhat clownishly
offered his services to hand her from her horse.

She submitted passively till she had reached the upper chamber which
had been prepared for her, and there, turning on the three gentlemen,
demanded the meaning of this treatment.

"You will soon know, madam," said Paulett.  "I am sorry that thus it
should be."

"Thus!" repeated Mary, scornfully.  "What means this?"

"It means, madam," said Gorges, a ruder man of less feeling even than
Paulett, "that your practices with recusants and seminary priests have
been detected.  The traitors are in the Counter, and will shortly be
brought to judgment for the evil purposes which have been frustrated by
the mercy of Heaven."

"It is well if treason against my good sister's person have been
detected and frustrated," said Mary; "but how doth that concern me?"

"That, madam, the papers at Chartley will show," returned Gorges.
"Meantime you will remain here, till her Majesty's pleasure be known."

"Where, then, are my women and my servants?" inquired the Queen.

"Your Grace will be attended by the servants of Sir Walter Ashton."

"Gentlemen, this is not seemly," said Mary, the colour coming hotly
into her face.  "I know it is not the will of my cousin, the Queen of
England, that I should remain here without any woman to attend me, nor
any change of garments.  You are exceeding your commission, and she
shall hear of it."

Sir Amias Paulett here laid his hand on Gorges' arm, and after
exchanging a few words with him, said--

"Madam, this young lady, Mistress Talbot, being simple, and of a loyal
house, may remain with you for the present.  For the rest, seals are
put on all your effects at Chartley, and nothing can be removed from
thence, but what is needful will be supplied by my Lady Ashton.  I bid
your Grace farewell, craving your pardon for what may have been hasty
in this."

Mary stood in the centre of the floor, full of her own peculiar injured
dignity, not answering, but making a low ironical reverence. Mary
Seaton fell on her knees, clung to the Queen's dress, and declared that
while she lived, she would not leave her mistress.

"Endure this also, ma mie," said the Queen, in French.  "Give them no
excuse for using violence.  They would not scruple--" and as a
demonstration to hinder French-speaking was made by the gentlemen,
"Fear not for me, I shall not be alone."

"I understand your Grace and obey," said Mary Seaton, rising, with a
certain bitterness in her tone, which made Mary say-- "Ah! why must
jealousy mar the fondest affection?  Remember, it is their choice, not
mine, my Seaton, friend of my youth.  Bear my loving greetings to all.
And take care of poor Barbara!"

"Madam, there must be no private messages," said Paulett.

"I send no messages save what you yourself may hear, sir," replied the
Queen.  "My greetings to my faithful servants, and my entreaty that all
care and tenderness may be shown to Mrs. Curll."

"I will bear them, madam," said the knight, "and so I commend you to
God's keeping, praying that He may send you repentance.  Believe me,
madam, I am sorry that this has been put upon me."

To this Mary only replied by a gesture of dismissal.  The three
gentlemen drew back, a key grated in the lock, and the mother and
daughter were left alone.

To Cicely it was a terrible hopeless sound, and even to her mother it
was a lower depth of wretchedness.  She had been practically a captive
for nearly twenty years.  She had been insulted, watched, guarded,
coerced, but never in this manner locked up before.

She clasped her hands together, dropped on her knees at the table that
stood by her, and hid her face.  So she continued till she was roused
by the sound of Cicely's sobs.  Frightened and oppressed, and new to
all terror and sorrow, the girl had followed her example in kneeling,
but the very attempt to pray brought on a fit of weeping, and the
endeavour to restrain what might disturb the Queen only rendered the
sobs more choking and strangling, till at last Mary heard, and coming
towards her, sat down on the floor, gathered her into her arms, and
kissing her forehead, said, "Poor bairnie, and did she weep for her
mother?  Have the sorrows of her house come on her?"

"O mother, I could not help it!  I meant to have comforted you," said
Cicely, between her sobs.

"And so thou dost, my child.  Unwittingly they have left me that which
was most precious to me."

There was consolation in the fondness of the loving embrace, at least
to such sorrows as those of the maiden; and Queen Mary had an
inalienable power of charming the will and affections of those in
contact with her, so that insensibly there came into Cicely's heart a
sense that, so far from weeping, she should rejoice at being the one
creature left to console her mother.

"And," she said by and by, looking up with a smile, "they must go to
the bottom of the old well to find anything."

"Hush, lassie.  Never speak above thy breath in a prison till thou
know'st whether walls have ears.  And, apropos, let us examine what
sort of a prison they have given us this time."

So saying Mary rose, and leaning on her daughter's arm, proceeded to
explore her new abode.  Like her apartment at the Lodge, it was at the
top of the house, a fashion not uncommon when it was desirable to make
the lower regions defensible; but, whereas she had always hitherto been
placed in the castles of the highest nobility, she was now in that of a
country knight of no great wealth or refinement, and, moreover, taken
by surprise.

So the plenishing was of the simplest.  The walls were covered with
tapestry so faded that the pattern could hardly be detected.  The
hearth yawned dark and dull, and by it stood one chair with a
moth-eaten cushion.  A heavy oaken table and two forms were in the
middle of the room, and there was the dreary, fusty smell of want of
habitation.  The Queen, whose instincts for fresh air were always a
distress to her ladies, sprang to the mullioned window, but the heavy
lattice defied all her efforts.

"Let us see the rest of our dominions," she said, turning to a door,
which led to a still more gloomy bedroom, where the only articles of
furniture were a great carved bed, with curtains of some undefined dark
colour, and an oaken chest.  The window was a mere slit, and even more
impracticable than that of the outer room.  However, this did not seem
to horrify Mary so much as it did her daughter.  "They cannot mean to
keep us here long," she said; "perhaps only for the day, while they
make their search--their unsuccessful search--thanks to--we know whom,
little one."

"I hope so!  How could we sleep there?" said Cicely, looking with a
shudder at the bed.

"Tush!  I have seen worse in Scotland, mignonne, ay and when I was
welcomed as liege lady, not as a captive.  I have slept in a box like a
coffin with one side open, and I have likewise slept on a plaidie on
the braw purple blossoms of freshly pulled heather!  Nay, the very
thought makes this chamber doubly mouldy and stifling!  Let the old
knight beware.  If he open not his window I shall break it!  Soft. Here
he comes."

Sir Walter Ashton appeared, louting low, looking half-dogged,
half-sheepish, and escorting two heavy-footed, blue-coated serving-men,
who proceeded to lay the cloth, which at least had the merit of being
perfectly clean and white.  Two more brought in covered silver dishes,
one of which contained a Yorkshire pudding, the other a piece of
roast-beef, apparently calculated to satisfy five hungry men.  A flagon
of sack, a tankard of ale, a dish of apples, and a large loaf of bread,
completed the meal; at which the Queen and Cicely, accustomed daily to
a first table of sixteen dishes and a second of nine, compounded by her
Grace's own French cooks and pantlers, looked with a certain amused
dismay, as Sir Walter, standing by the table, produced a dagger from a
sheath at his belt, and took up with it first a mouthful of the
pudding, then cut off a corner of the beef, finished off some of the
bread, and having swallowed these, as well as a draught of each of the
liquors, said, "Good and sound meats, not tampered with, as I hereby
testify.  You take us suddenly, madam; but I thank Heaven, none ever
found us unprovided.  Will it please you to fall to?  Your woman can
eat after you."

Mary's courtesy was unfailing, and though she felt all a Frenchwoman's
disgust at the roast-beef of old England, she said, "We are too close
companions not to eat together, and I fear she will be the best
trencher comrade, for, sir, I am a woman sick and sorrowful, and have
little stomach for meat."

As Sir Walter carved a huge red piece from the ribs, she could not help
shrinking back from it, so that he said with some affront, "You need
not be queasy, madam, it was cut from a home-fed bullock, only killed
three days since, and as prime a beast as any in Stafford."

"Ah! yea, sir.  It is not the fault of the beef, but of my feebleness.
Mistress Talbot will do it reason.  But I, methinks I could eat better
were the windows opened."

But Sir Walter replied that these windows were not of the new-fangled
sort, made to open, that honest men might get rheums, and foolish maids
prate therefrom.  So there was no hope in that direction.  He really
seemed to be less ungracious than utterly clownish, dull, and untaught,
and extremely shy and embarrassed with his prisoner.

Cicely poured out some wine, and persuaded her to dip some bread in,
which, with an apple, was all she could taste.  However, the fare,
though less nicely served than by good Mrs. Susan, was not so alien to
Cicely, and she was of an age and constitution to be made hungry by
anxiety and trouble, so that--encouraged by the Queen whenever she
would have desisted--she ended by demolishing a reasonable amount.

Sir Walter stood all the time, looking on moodily and stolidly, with
his cap in his hand.  The Queen tried to talk to him, and make
inquiries of him, but he had probably steeled himself to her
blandishments, for nothing but gruff monosyllables could be extracted
from him, except when he finally asked what she would be pleased to
have for supper.

"Mine own cook and pantler have hitherto provided for me.  They would
save your household the charge, sir," said Mary, "and I would be at
charges for them."

"Madam, I can bear the charge in the Queen's service.  Your black guard
are under ward.  And if not, no French jackanapes shall ever brew his
messes in my kitchen!   Command honest English fare, madam, and if it
be within my compass, you shall have it.  No one shall be stinted in
Walter Ashton's house; but I'll not away with any of your outlandish
kickshaws.  Come, what say you to eggs and bacon, madam?"

"As you will, sir," replied Mary, listlessly.  And Sir Walter, opening
the door, shouted to his serving-man, who speedily removed the meal, he
going last and making his clumsy reverence at the door, which he locked
behind him.

"So," said Mary, "I descend!  I have had the statesman, the earl, the
courtly knight, the pedantic Huguenot, for my warders.  Now am I come
to the clown.  Soon will it be the dungeon and the headsman."

"O dear madam mother, speak not thus," cried Cicely.  "Remember they
can find nothing against you."

"They can make what they cannot find, my poor child.  If they thirst
for my blood, it will cost them little to forge a plea.  Ah, lassie!
there have been times when nothing but my cousin Elizabeth's
conscience, or her pity, stood between me and doom.  If she be brought
to think that I have compassed her death, why then there is naught for
it but to lay my head on the same pillow as Norfolk and More and holy
Fisher, and many another beside.  Well, be it so!  I shall die a martyr
for the Holy Church, and thus may I atone by God's mercy for my many
sins!  Yea, I offer myself a sacrifice," she said, folding her hands
and looking upward with a light on her face.  "O do Thou accept it, and
let my sufferings purge away my many misdeeds, and render it a pure and
acceptable offering unto Thee.  Child, child," she added, turning to
Cicely, "would that thou wert of my faith, then couldst thou pray for

"O mother, mother, I can do that.  I do pray for thee."

And hand in hand with tears often rising, they knelt while Mary
repeated in broken voice the Miserere.



Humfrey had been much disappointed, when, instead of joining the hunt,
Sir Amias Paulett bade him undertake the instruction of half a dozen
extremely awkward peasants, who had been called in to increase the
guard, but who did not know how to shoulder, load, or fire an arquebus,
had no command of their own limbs, and, if put to stand sentry, would
quite innocently loll in the nearest corner, and go to sleep.  However,
he reflected that if he were resident in the same house as Cicely he
could not expect opportunities to be daily made for their meeting, and
he addressed himself with all his might to the endeavour to teach his
awkward squad to stand upright for five minutes together.  Sturdy
fellows as they were, he had not been able to hinder them from lopping
over in all directions, when horses were heard approaching.  Every man
of them, regardless of discipline, lumbered off to stare, and Humfrey,
after shouting at them in vain, and wishing he had them all on board
ship, gave up the endeavour to recall them, and followed their example,
repairing to the hall-door, when he found Sir Amias Paulett
dismounting, together with a clerkly-looking personage, attended by
Will Cavendish.  Mary Seaton was being assisted from her horse,
evidently in great grief; and others of the personal attendants of Mary
were there, but neither herself, Cicely, nor the Secretaries.

Before he had time to ask questions, his old companion came up to him.
"You here still, Humfrey?  Well.  You have come in for the outburst of
the train you scented out when you were with us in London, though I
could not then speak explicitly."

"What mean you?  Where is Cicely?  Where is the Queen of Scots?" asked
Humfrey anxiously.

Sir Amias Paulett heard him, and replied, "Your sister is safe, Master
Talbot, and with the Queen of Scots at Tixall Castle.  We permitted her
attendance, as being young, simple, and loyal; she is less like to
serve for plots than her elders in that lady's service."

Sir Annas strode on, conducting with him his guest, whom Cavendish
explained to be Mr. Wade, sworn by her Majesty's Council to take
possession of Queen Mary's effects, and there make search for evidence
of the conspiracy.  Cavendish followed, and Humfrey took leave to do
the same.

The doors of the Queen's apartment were opened at the summons of Sir
Amias Paulett, and Sir Andrew Melville, Mistress Kennedy, Marie de
Courcelles, and the rest, stood anxiously demanding what was become of
their Queen.  They were briefly and harshly told that her foul and
abominable plots and conspiracies against the life of the Queen, and
the peace of the Kingdom, had been brought to light, and that she was
under secure ward.

Jean Kennedy demanded to be taken to her at once, but Paulett replied,
"That must not be, madam.  We have strict commands to keep her secluded
from all."

Marie de Courcelles screamed aloud and wrung her hands, crying, "If ye
have slain her, only tell us quickly!"  Sir Andrew Melville gravely
protested against such a barbarous insult to a Queen of Scotland and
France, and was answered, "No queen, sir, but a State criminal, as we
shall presently show."

Here Barbara Curll pressed forward, asking wildly for her husband; and
Wade replying, with brutal brevity, that he was taken to London to be
examined for his practices before the Council, the poor lady, well
knowing that examination often meant torture, fell back in a swoon.

"We shall do nothing with all these women crying and standing about,"
said Wade impatiently; "have them all away, while we put seals on the

"Nay, sirs," said Jean Kennedy.  "Suffer me first to send her Grace
some changes of garments."

"I tell thee, woman," said Wade, "our orders are precise!  Not so much
as a kerchief is to be taken from these chambers till search hath been
made.  We know what practices may lurk in the smallest rag."

"It is barbarous!  It is atrocious!  The King of France shall hear of
it," shrieked Marie de Courcelles.

"The King of France has enough to do to take care of himself, my good
lady," returned Wade, with a sneer.

"Sir," said Jean Kennedy, with more dignity, turning to Sir Amias
Paulett, "I cannot believe that it can be by the orders of the Queen of
England, herself a woman, that my mistress, her cousin, should be
deprived of all attendance, and even of a change of linen.  Such
unseemly commands can never have been issued from herself."

"She is not without attendance," replied the knight, "the little Talbot
wench is with her, and for the rest, Sir Walter and Lady Ashton have
orders to supply her needs during her stay among them. She is treated
with all honour, and is lodged in the best chambers," he added,

"We must dally no longer," called out Wade.  "Have away all this throng
into ward, Sir Amias.  We can do nothing with them here."

There was no help for it.  Sir Andrew Melville did indeed pause to
enter his protest, but that, of course, went for nothing with the
Commissioners, and Humfrey was ordered to conduct them to the upper
gallery, there to await further orders.  It was a long passage, in the
highly pointed roof, with small chambers on either side which could be
used when there was a press of guests.  There was a steep stair, as the
only access, and it could be easily guarded, so Sir Amias directed
Humfrey to post a couple of men at the foot, and to visit and relieve
them from time to time.

It was a sad procession that climbed up those narrow stairs, of those
faithful followers who were separated from their Queen for the first
time.  The servants of lower rank were merely watched in their kitchen,
and not allowed to go beyond its courtyard, but were permitted to cook
for and wait on the others, and bring them such needful furniture as
was required.

Humfrey was very sorry for them, having had some acquaintance with them
all his life, and he was dismayed to find himself, instead of watching
over Cicely, separated from her and made a jailer against his will.
And when he returned to the Queen's apartments, he found Cavendish
holding a taper, while Paulett and Wade were vigorously affixing cords,
fastened at each end by huge red seals bearing the royal arms, to every
receptacle, and rudely plucking back the curtains that veiled the ivory
crucifix.  Sir Amias's zeal would have "plucked down the idol," as he
said, but Wade restrained him by reminding him that all injury or
damage was forbidden.

Not till all was sealed, and a guard had been stationed at the doors,
would the Commissioners taste any dinner, and then their conversation
was brief and guarded, so that Humfrey could discover little.  He did,
indeed, catch the name of Babington in connection with the "Counter
prison," and a glance of inquiry to Cavendish, with a nod in return,
showed him that his suspicions were correct, but he learnt little or
nothing more till the two, together with Phillipps, drew together in
the deep window, with wine, apples, and pears on the ledge before them,
for a private discussion.  Humfrey went away to see that the sentries
at the staircase were relieved, and to secure that a sufficient meal
for the unfortunate captives in the upper stories had been allowed to
pass.  Will Cavendish went with him.  He had known these ladies and
gentlemen far more intimately than Humfrey had done, and allowed that
it was harsh measure that they suffered for their fidelity to their
native sovereign.

"No harm will come to them in the end," he said, "but what can we do?
That very faithfulness would lead them to traverse our purposes did we
not shut them up closely out of reach of meddling, and there is no
other place where it can be done."

"And what are these same purposes?" asked Humfrey, as, having fulfilled
his commission, the two young men strolled out into the garden and
threw themselves on the grass, close to a large mulberry-tree, whose
luscious fruit dropped round, and hung within easy reach.

"To trace out all the coils of as villainous and bloodthirsty a plot as
ever was hatched in a traitor's brain," said Will; "but they little
knew that we overlooked their designs the whole time.  Thou wast
mystified in London, honest Humfrey, I saw it plainly; but I might not
then speak out," he added, with all his official self-importance.

"And poor Tony hath brought himself within compass of the law?"

"Verily you may say so.  But Tony Babington always was a fool, and a
wrong-headed fool, who was sure to ruin himself sooner or later.  You
remember the decoy for the wild-fowl?  Well, never was silly duck or
goose so ready to swim into the nets as was he!"

"He always loved this Queen, yea, and the old faith."

"He sucked in the poison with his mother's milk, you may say.  Mrs.
Babington was naught but a concealed Papist, and, coming from her, it
cost nothing to this Queen to beguile him when he was a mere lad, and
make him do her errands, as you know full well.  Then what must my Lord
Earl do but send him to that bitter Puritan at Cambridge, who turned
him all the more that way, out of very contradiction.  My Lord thought
him cured of his Popish inclinations, and never guessed they had only
led him among those who taught him to dissemble."

"And that not over well," said Humfrey.  "My father never trusted him."

"And would not give him your sister.  Yea, but the counterfeit was good
enough for my Lord who sees nothing but what is before his nose, and
for my mother who sees nothing but what she _will_ see.  Well, he had
fallen in with those who deem this same Mary our only lawful Queen, and
would fain set her on the throne to bring back fire and faggot by the
Spanish sword among us."

"I deemed him well-nigh demented with brooding over her troubles and
those of his church."

"Demented in verity.  His folly was surpassing.  He put his faith in a
recusant priest--one John Ballard--who goes ruffling about as Captain
Fortescue in velvet hose and a silver-laced cloak."


"Hast seen him?"

"Ay, in company with Babington, on the day I came to London, passing
through Westminster."

"Very like.  Their chief place of meeting was at a house at Westminster
belonging to a fellow named Gage.  We took some of them there.  Well,
this Ballard teaches poor Antony, by way of gospel truth, that 'tis the
mere duty of a good Catholic to slay the enemies of the church, and
that he who kills our gracious Queen, whom God defend, will do the
holiest deed; just as they gulled the fellow, who murdered the Prince
of Orange, and then died in torments, deeming himself a holy martyr."

"But it was not Babington whom I saw at Richmond."

"Hold, I am coming to that.  Let me tell you the Queen bore it in mind,
and asked after you.  Well, Babington has a number of friends, as
hot-brained and fanatical as himself, and when once he had swallowed
the notion of privily murdering the Queen, he got so enamoured of it,
that he swore in five more to aid him in the enterprise, and then what
must they do but have all their portraits taken in one picture with a
Latin motto around them.  What!  Thou hast seen it?"

"He showed it to me in Paul's Walk, and said I should hear of them, and
I thought one of them marvellously like the fellow I had seen in
Richmond Park."

"So thought her Majesty.  But more of that anon.  On the self-same day
as the Queen was to be slain by these sacrilegious wretches, another
band was to fall on this place, free the lady and proclaim her, while
the Prince of Parma landed from the Netherlands and brought fire and
sword with him."

"And Antony would have brought this upon us?" said Humfrey, still slow
to believe it of his old comrade.

"All for the true religion's sake," said Cavendish.  "They were ringing
bells and giving thanks, for the discovery and baffling thereof, when
we came down from London."

"As well they might," said Humfrey.  "But how was it detected and
overthrown?  Was it through Langston?"

"Ah, ha! we had had the strings in our hands all along.  Why, Langston,
as thou namest him, though we call him Maude, and a master spy called
Gifford, have kept us warned thoroughly of every stage in the business.
Maude even contrived to borrow the picture under colour of getting it
blessed by the Pope's agent, and lent it to Mr. Secretary Walsingham,
by whom it was privily shown to the Queen. Thereby she recognised the
rogue Barnwell, an Irishman it seems, when she was walking in the Park
at Richmond with only her women and Sir Christopher Hatton, who is
better at dancing than at fighting.  Not a sign did she give, but she
kept him in check with her royal eye, so that he durst not so much as
draw his pistol from his cloak; but she owned afterwards to my Lady
Norris that she could have kissed you when you came between, and all
the more, when you caught her meaning and followed her bidding
silently.  You will hear of it again, Humps."

"However that may be, it is a noble thing to have seen such courage in
a woman and a queen.  But how could they let it go so near?  I could
shudder now to think of the risk to her person!"

"There goes more to policy than you yet wot of," said Will, in his
patronising tone.  "In truth, Barnwell had started off unknown to his
comrades, hoping to have the glory of the achievement all to himself by
forestalling them, or else Mr. Secretary would have been warned in time
to secure the Queen."

"But wherefore leave these traitors at large to work mischief?"

"See you not, you simple Humfrey, that, as I said methinks some time
since, it is well sometimes to give a rogue rope enough and he will
hang himself?  Close the trap too soon, and you miss the biggest rat of
all.  So we waited until the prey seemed shy and about to escape.
Babington had, it seems, suspected Maude or Langston, or whatever you
call him, and had ridden out of town, hiding in St. John's Wood with
some of his fellows, till they were starved out, and trying to creep
into some outbuildings at Harrow, were there taken, and brought into
London the morning we came away.  Ballard, the blackest villain of all,
is likewise in ward, and here we are to complete our evidence."

"Nay, throughout all you have said, I have heard nothing to explain
this morning's work."

Will laughed outright.  "And so you think all this would have been done
without a word from their liege lady, the princess they all wanted to
deliver from captivity!   No, no, sir!  'Twas thus. There's an honest
man at Burton, a brewer, who sends beer week by week for this house,
and very good ale it is, as I can testify.  I wish I had a tankard of
it here to qualify these mulberries.  This same brewer is instructed by
Gifford, whose uncle lives in these parts, to fit a false bottom to one
of his barrels, wherein is a box fitted for the receipt of letters and
parcels.  Then by some means, through Langston I believe, Babington and
Gifford made known to the Queen of Scots and the French ambassador that
here was a sure way of sending and receiving letters.  The Queen's
butler, old Hannibal, was to look in the bottom of the barrel with the
yellow hoop, and one Barnes, a familiar of Gifford and Babington,
undertook the freight at the other end.  The ambassador, M. de
Chateauneuf, seemed to doubt at first, and sent a single letter by way
of experiment, and that having been duly delivered and answered, the
bait was swallowed, and not a week has gone by but letters have come
and gone from hence, all being first opened, copied, and deciphered by
worthy Mr. Phillipps, and every word of them laid before the Council."

"Hum!  We should not have reckoned that fair play when we went to
Master Sniggius's," observed Humfrey, as he heard his companion's tone
of exultation.

"Fair play is a jewel that will not pass current in statecraft,"
responded Cavendish.  "Moreover, that the plotter should be plotted
against is surely only his desert.  But thou art a mere sailor, my
Talbot, and these subtilties of policy are not for thee."

"For the which Heaven be praised!" said Humfrey.  "Yet having, as you
say, read all these letters by the way, I see not wherefore ye are come
down to seek for more."

Will here imitated the Lord Treasurer's nod as well as in him lay, not
perhaps himself knowing the darker recesses of this same plot. He did
know so much as that every stage in it had been revealed to Walsingham
and Burghley as it proceeded.  He did not know that the entire scheme
had been hatched, not by a blind and fanatical partisan of Mary's,
doing evil that what he supposed to be good, might come, but by Gifford
and Morgan, Walsingham's agents, for the express purpose of causing
Mary totally to ruin herself, and to compel Elizabeth to put her to
death, and that the unhappy Babington and his friends were thus
recklessly sacrificed.  The assassin had even been permitted to appear
in Elizabeth's presence in order to terrify her into the conviction
that her life could only be secured by Mary's death.  They, too, did
evil that good might come, thinking Mary's death alone could ensure
them from Pope and Spaniard; but surely they descended into a lower
depth of iniquity than did their victims.

Will himself was not certain what was wanted among the Queen's papers,
unless it might be the actual letters, from Babington, copies of which
had been given by Phillips to the Council, so he only looked sagacious;
and Humfrey thought of the Castle Well, and felt the satisfaction there
is in seeing a hunted creature escape.  He asked, however, about
Cuthbert Langston, saying, "He is--worse luck, as you may have
heard--akin to my father, who always pitied him as misguided, but
thought him as sincere in his folly as ever was this unlucky Babington."

"So he seems to have been till of late.  He hovered about in sundry
disguises, as you know, much to the torment of us all; but finally he
seems to have taken some umbrage at the lady, thinking she flouted his
services, or did not pay him high enough for them, and Gifford bought
him over easily enough; but he goes with us by the name of Maude, and
the best of it is that the poor fools thought he was hoodwinking us all
the time.  They never dreamt that we saw through them like glass.
Babington was himself with Mr. Secretary only last week, offering to go
to France on business for him--the traitor! Hark! there are more sounds
of horse hoofs.  Who comes now, I marvel!"

This was soon answered by a serving-man, who hurried out to tell
Humfrey that his father was arrived, and in a few moments the young man
was blessed and embraced by the good Richard, while Diccon stood by,
considerably repaired in flesh and colour by his brief stay under his
mother's care.

Mr. Richard Talbot was heartily welcomed by Sir Amias Paulett, who
regretted that his daughter was out of reach, but did not make any
offer of facilitating their meeting.

Richard explained that he was on his way to London on behalf of the
Earl.  Reports and letters, not very clear, had reached Sheffield of
young Babington being engaged in a most horrible conspiracy against the
Queen and country, and my Lord and my Lady, who still preserved a great
kindness for their former ward, could hardly believe it, and had sent
their useful and trustworthy kinsman to learn the truth, and to find
out whether any amount of fine or forfeiture would avail to save his

Sir Amias thought it would be a fruitless errand, and so did Richard
himself, when he had heard as much of the history as it suited Paulett
and Wade to tell, and though they esteemed and trusted him, they did
not care to go beneath that outer surface of the plot which was filling
all London with fury.

When, having finished their after-dinner repose, they repaired to make
farther search, taking Cavendish to assist, they somewhat reluctantly
thought it due to Mr. Talbot to invite his presence, but he declined.
He and his son had much to say to one another, he observed, and not
long to say it in.

"Besides," he added, when he found himself alone with Humfrey, having
despatched Diccon on some errand to the stables, "'tis a sorry sight to
see all the poor Lady's dainty hoards turned out by strangers.  If it
must be, it must, but it would irk me to be an idle gazer thereon."

"I would only," said Humfrey, "be assured that they would not light on
the proofs of Cicely's birth."

"Thou mayst be at rest on that score, my son.  The Lady saw them, owned
them, and bade thy mother keep them, saying ours were safer hands than
hers.  Thy mother was sore grieved, Humfrey, when she saw thee not; but
she sends thee her blessing, and saith thou dost right to stay and
watch over poor little Cis."

"It were well if I were watching over her," said Humfrey, "but she is
mewed up at Tixall, and I am only keeping guard over poor Mistress
Seaton and the rest."

"Thou hast seen her?"

"Yea, and she was far more our own sweet maid than when she came back
to us at Bridgefield."

And Humfrey told his father all he had to tell of what he had seen and
heard since he had been at Chartley.  His adventures in London had
already been made known by Diccon.  Mr. Talbot was aghast, perhaps most
of all at finding that his cousin Cuthbert was a double traitor.  From
the Roman Catholic point of view, there had been no treason in his
former machinations on behalf of Mary, if she were in his eyes his
rightful sovereign, but the betrayal of confidence reposed in him was
so horrible that the good Master Richard refused to believe it, till he
had heard the proofs again and again, and then he exclaimed,

"That such a Judas should ever call cousin with us!"

There could be little hope, as both agreed, of saving the unfortunate
victims; but Richard was all the more bent on fulfilling Lord
Shrewsbury's orders, and doing his utmost for Babington.  As to
Humfrey, it would be better that he should remain where he was, so that
Cicely might have some protector near her in case of any sudden
dispersion of Mary's suite.

"Poor maiden!" said her foster-father, "she is in a manner ours, and we
cannot but watch over her; but after all, I doubt me whether it had not
been better for her and for us, if the waves had beaten the little life
out of her ere I carried her home."

"She hath been the joy of my life," said Humfrey, low and hoarsely.

"And I fear me she will be the sorrow of it.  Not by her fault, poor
wench, but what hope canst thou have, my son?"

"None, sir," said Humfrey, "except of giving up all if I can so defend
her from aught."  He spoke in a quiet matter-of-fact way that made his
father look with some inquiry at his grave settled face, quite calm, as
if saying nothing new, but expressing a long-formed quiet purpose.

Nor, though Humfrey was his eldest son and heir, did Richard Talbot try
to cross it.

He asked whether he might see Cicely before going on to London, but Sir
Amias said that in that case she would not be allowed to return to the
Queen, and that to have had any intercourse with the prisoners might
overthrow all his designs in London, and he therefore only left with
Humfrey his commendations to her, with a pot of fresh honey and a
lavender-scented set of kerchiefs from Mistress Susan.



During that close imprisonment at Tixall Cicely learnt to know her
mother both in her strength and weakness.  They were quite alone;
except that Sir Walter Ashton daily came to perform the office of
taster and carver at their meals, and on the first evening his wife
dragged herself upstairs to superintend the arrangement of their
bedroom, and to supply them with toilette requisites according to her
own very limited notions and possessions.  The Dame was a very homely,
hard-featured lady, deaf, and extremely fat and heavy, one of the old
uncultivated rustic gentry who had lagged far behind the general
civilisation of the country, and regarded all refinements as effeminate
French vanities.  She believed, likewise, all that was said against
Queen Mary, whom she looked on as barely restrained from plunging a
dagger into Elizabeth's heart, and letting Parma's hell-hounds loose
upon Tixall.  To have such a guest imposed on her was no small
grievance, and nothing but her husband's absolute mandate could have
induced her to come up with the maids who brought sheets for the bed,
pillows, and the like needments.  Mary tried to make her requests as
moderate as necessity would permit; but when they had been shouted into
her ears by one of the maids, she shook her head at most of them, as
articles unknown to her.  Nor did she ever appear again.  The
arrangement of the bed-chamber was performed by two maidservants, the
Knight himself meanwhile standing a grim sentinel over the two ladies
in the outer apartment to hinder their holding any communication
through the servants.  All requests had to be made to him, and on the
first morning Mary made a most urgent one for writing materials, books,
and either needlework or spinning.

Pen and ink had been expressly forbidden, the only book in the house
was a thumbed and torn primer, but Dame Joan, after much grumbling at
fine ladies' whims, vouchsafed to send up a distaff, some wool, a piece
of unbleached linen, and a skein of white thread.

Queen Mary executed therewith an exquisite piece of embroidery, which
having escaped Dame Joan's first impulse to burn it on the spot,
remained for many years the show and the wonder of Tixall.  Save for
this employment, she said she should have gone mad in her utter
uncertainty about her own fate, or that of those involved with her. To
ask questions of Ashton was like asking them of a post.  He would give
her no notion whether her servants were at Chartley or not, whether
they were at large or in confinement, far less as to who was accused of
the plot, and what had been discovered.  All that could be said for him
was that his churlishness was passive and according to his ideas of
duty.  He was a very reluctant and uncomfortable jailer, but he never
insulted, nor wilfully ill-used his unfortunate captive.

Thus Mary was left to dwell on the little she knew, namely, that
Babington and his fellows were arrested, and that she was supposed to
be implicated; but there her knowledge ceased, except that Humfrey's
warning convinced her that Cuthbert Langston had been at least one of
the traitors.  He had no doubt been offended and disappointed at that
meeting during the hawking at Tutbury.

"Yet I need scarcely seek the why or the wherefore," she said.  "I have
spent my life in a world of treachery.  No sooner do I take a step on
ground that seems ever so firm, than it proves a quicksand. They will
swallow me at last."

Daily--more than daily--did she and Cicely go over together that
hurried conversation on the moor, and try to guess whether Langston
intended to hint at Cicely's real birth.  He had certainly not
disclosed her secret as yet, or Paulett would never have selected her
as sprung of a loyal house, but he might guess at the truth, and be
waiting for an opportunity to sell it dearly to those who would regard
her as possessed of dangerous pretensions.

And far more anxiously did the Queen recur to examining Cicely on what
she had gathered from Humfrey.  This was in fact nothing, for he had
been on his guard against either telling or hearing anything
inconsistent with loyalty to the English Queen, and thus had avoided
conversation on these subjects.

Nor did the Queen communicate much.  Cicely never understood clearly
what she dreaded, what she expected to be found among her papers, or
what had been in the packet thrown into the well.  The girl did not
dare to ask direct questions, and the Queen always turned off indirect
inquiries, or else assured her that she was still a simple happy child,
and that it was better for her own sake that she should know nothing,
then caressed her, and fondly pitied her for not being admitted to her
mother's confidence, but said piteously that she knew not what the
secrets of Queens and captives were, not like those of Mistress Susan
about the goose to be dressed, or the crimson hose to be knitted for a
surprise to her good husband.

But Cicely could see that she expected the worst, and believed in a set
purpose to shed her blood, and she spent much time in devotion, though
sorely distressed by the absence of all those appliances which her
Church had taught her to rest upon.  And these prayers, which often
began with floods of tears, so that Cicely drew away into the window
with her distaff in order not to seem to watch them, ended with
rendering her serene and calm, with a look of high resignation, as
having offered herself as a sacrifice and martyr for her Church.

And yet was it wholly as a Roman Catholic that she had been hated,
intrigued against, and deposed in her own kingdom?  Was it simply as a
Roman Catholic that she was, as she said, the subject of a more cruel
plot than that of which she was accused?

Mysterious woman that she was, she was never more mysterious than to
her daughter in those seventeen days that they were shut up together!
It did not so much strike Cicely at the time, when she was carried
along with all her mother's impulses and emotions, without reflecting
on them, but when in after times she thought over all that then had
passed, she felt how little she had understood.

They suffered a good deal from the heat and closeness of the rooms, for
Mary was like a modern Englishwoman in her craving for free air, and
these were the dog-days.  They had contrived by the help of a diamond
that the Queen carried about with her, after the fashion of the time,
to extract a pane or two from the lattices so ingeniously that the
master of the house never found it out.  And as their two apartments
looked out different ways, they avoided the full sunshine, for they had
neither curtains nor blinds to their windows, by moving from one to the
other; but still the closeness was very oppressive, and in the heat of
the day, just after dinner, they could do nothing but lie on the table,
while the Queen told stories of her old life in France, till sometimes
they both went to sleep.  Most of her dainty needlework was done in the
long light mornings, for she hardly slept at all in the hot nights.
Cis scarcely saw her in bed, for she prayed long after the maiden had
fallen asleep, and was up with the light and embroidering by the window.

She only now began to urge Cicely to believe as she did, and to join
her Church, taking blame to herself for never having attempted it more
seriously.  She told of the oneness and the glory of Roman Catholicism
as she had seen it in France, held out its promises and professions,
and dwelt on the comfort of the intercession of the Blessed Virgin and
the Saints; assuring Cicely that there was nothing but sacrilege,
confusion, and cruelty on the other side.

Sometimes the maiden was much moved by the tender manner and persuasive
words, and she really had so much affection and admiration for her
mother as to be willing to do all that she wished, and to believe her
the ablest and most clear-sighted of human beings; but whenever Mary
was not actually talking to her, there was a curious swaying back of
the pendulum in her mind to the conviction that what Master Richard and
Mistress Susan believed must be the right thing, that led to
trustworthy goodness.  She had an enthusiastic love for the Queen, but
her faith and trust were in them and in Humfrey, and she could see
religious matters from their point of view better than from that of her

So, though the Queen often felt herself carrying her daughter along,
she always found that there had been a slipping back to the old
standpoint every time she began again.  She was considering with some
anxiety of the young maiden's future.

"Could I but send thee to my good sister, the Duchess of Lorraine, she
would see thee well and royally married," she said.  "Then couldst thou
be known by thine own name, and rank as Princess of Scotland.  If I can
only see my Courcelles again, she would take thee safely and prove
all--and thy hand will be precious to many.  It may yet bring back the
true faith to England, when my brave cousin of Guise has put down the
Bearnese, and when the poor stumbling-block here is taken away."

"Oh speak not of that, dear madam, my mother."

"I must speak, child.  I must think how it will be with thee, so
marvellously saved, and restored to be my comfort.  I must provide for
thy safety and honour.  Happily the saints guarded me from ever
mentioning thee in my letters, so that there is no fear that Elizabeth
should lay hands on thee, unless Langston should have spoken--the which
can hardly be.  But if all be broken up here, I must find thee a
dwelling with my kindred worthy of thy birth."

"Mr. and Mrs. Talbot would take me home," murmured Cicely.

"Girl!  After all the training I have bestowed on thee, is it possible
that thou wouldst fain go back to make cheeses and brew small beer with
those Yorkshire boors, rather than reign a princess? I thought thy
heart was nobler."

Cicely hung her head ashamed.  "I was very happy there," she said in

"Happy--ay, with the milkmaid's bliss.  There may be fewer sorrows in
such a life as that--just as those comely kine of Ashton's that I see
grazing in the park have fewer sorrows than human creatures.  But what
know they of our joys, or what know the commonalty of the joy of
ruling, calling brave men one's own, riding before one's men in the
field, wielding counsels of State, winning the love of thousands? Nay,
nay, I will not believe it of my child, unless 'tis the base Border
blood that is in her which speaks."

Cicely was somewhat overborne by being thus accused of meanness of
tastes, when she had heard the Queen talk enviously of that same homely
life which now she despised so heartily.  She faltered in excuse,
"Methought, madam, you would be glad to think there was one loving
shelter ever open to me."

"Loving!  Ah!  I see what it is," said the Queen, in a tone of disgust.
"It is the sailor loon that has overthrown it all.  A couple of walks
in the garden with him, and the silly maid is ready to throw over all
nobler thoughts."

"Madam, he spoke no such word to me."

"'Twas the infection, child--only the infection."

"Madam, I pray you--"

"Whist, child.  Thou wilt be a perilous bride for any commoner, and let
that thought, if no other, keep thee from lowering thine eyes to such
as he.  Were I and thy brother taken out of the way, none would stand
between thee and both thrones!  What would English or Scots say to find
thee a household Joan, wedded to one of Drake's rude pirate fellows?  I
tell thee it would be the worse for him.  They have made it treason to
wed royal blood without Elizabeth's consent.  No, no, for his sake, as
well as thine own, thou must promise me never thus to debase thy royal

"Mother; neither he nor I have thought or spoken of such a matter since
we knew how it was with me.

"And you give me your word?"

"Yea, madam," said Cicely, who had really never entertained the idea of
marrying Humfrey, implicit as was her trust in him as a brother and

"That is well.  And so soon as I am restored to my poor servants, if I
ever am, I will take measures for sending the French remnant to their
own land; nor shall my Courcelles quit thee till she hath seen thee
safe in the keeping of Madame de Lorraine or of Queen Louise, who is
herself a kinswoman of ours, and, they say, is piety and gentleness

"As you will, madam," said Cicely, her heart sinking at the thought of
the strange new world before her, but perceiving that she must not be
the means of bringing Humfrey into trouble and danger.

Perhaps she felt this the more from seeing how acutely her mother
suffered at times from sorrow for those involved in her disaster. She
gave Babington and his companions, as well as Nau and Curll, up for
lost, as the natural consequence of having befriended her; and she
blamed herself remorsefully, after the long experience of the fatal
consequences of meddling in her affairs, for having entered into
correspondence with the bright enthusiastic boy whom she remembered,
and having lured him without doubt to his death.

"Alack! alack!" she said, "and yet such is liberty, that I should
forget all I have gone through, and do the like again, if the door
seemed opened to me.  At least there is this comfort, cruel child, thy
little heart was not set on him, gracious and handsome though he
were--and thy mother's most devoted knight!  Ah! poor youth, it wrings
my soul to think of him.  But at least he is a Catholic, his soul will
be safe, and I will have hundreds of masses sung for him. Oh that I
knew how it goes with them!  This torture of silent suspense is the
most cruel of all."

Mary paced the room with impatient misery, and in such a round the
weary hours dragged by, only mitigated by one welcome thunderstorm, for
seventeen days, whose summer length made them seem the more endless.
Cicely, who had never before in her life been shut up in the house so
many hours, was pale, listless, and even fretful towards the Queen, who
bore with her petulance so tenderly as more than once to make her weep
bitterly for very shame.  After one of these fits of tears, Mary
pleaded earnestly with Sir Walter Ashton for permission for the maiden
to take a turn in the garden every day, but though the good gentleman's
complexion bore testimony that he lived in the fresh air, he did not
believe in its efficacy; he said he had no orders, and could do nothing
without warrant.  But that evening at supper, the serving-maid brought
up a large brew of herbs, dark and nauseous, which Dame Ashton had sent
as good for the young lady's megrim.

"Will you taste it, sir?" asked the Queen of Sir Walter, with a revival
of her lively humour.

"The foul fiend have me if a drop comes within my lips," muttered the
knight.  "I am not bound to taste for a tirewoman!" he added, leaving
it in doubt whether his objection arose from distaste to his lady's
messes, or from pride; and he presently said, perhaps half-ashamed of
himself, and willing to cast the blame on the other side,

"It was kindly meant of my good dame, and if you choose to flout at,
rather than benefit by it, that is no affair of mine."

He left the potion, and Cicely disposed of it by small instalments at
the windows; and a laugh over the evident horror it excited in the
master, did the captives at least as much good as the camomile,
centaury, wormwood, and other ingredients of the bowl.

Happily it was only two days later that Sir Walter announced that his
custody of the Queen was over, and Sir Amias Paulett was come for her.
There was little preparation to make, for the two ladies had worn their
riding-dresses all the time; but on reaching the great door, where Sir
Amias, attended by Humfrey, was awaiting them, they were astonished to
see a whole troop on horseback, all armed with head-pieces, swords and
pistols, to the number of a hundred and forty.

"Wherefore is this little army raised?" she asked.

"It is by order of the Queen," replied Ashton, with his accustomed
surly manner, "and need enough in the time of such treasons!"

The Queen turned to him with tears on her cheeks.  "Good gentlemen,"
she said, "I am not witting of anything against the Queen.  Am I to be
taken to the Tower?"

"No, madam, back to Chartley," replied Sir Amias.

"I knew they would never let me see my cousin," sighed the Queen.
"Sir," as Paulett placed her on her horse, "of your pity tell me
whether I shall find all my poor servants there."

"Yea, madam, save Mr. Nau and Mr. Curll, who are answering for
themselves and for you.  Moreover, Curll's wife was delivered two days

This intelligence filled Mary with more anxiety than she chose to
manifest to her unsympathising surroundings; Cis meanwhile had been
assisted to mount by Humfrey, who told her that Mrs. Curll was thought
to be doing well, but that there were fears for the babe.  It was
impossible to exchange many words, for they were immediately behind the
Queen and her two warders, and Humfrey could only tell her that his
father had been at Chartley, and had gone on to London; but there was
inexpressible relief in hearing the sound of his voice, and knowing she
had some one to think for her and protect her.  The promise she had
made to the Queen only seemed to make him more entirely her brother by
putting that other love out of the question.

There was a sad sight at the gate,--a whole multitude of
wretched-looking beggars, and poor of all ages and degrees of misery,
who all held out their hands and raised one cry of "Alms, alms,
gracious Lady, alms, for the love of heaven!"

Mary looked round on them with tearful eyes, and exclaimed, "Alack,
good folk, I have nothing to give you!  I am as much a beggar as

The escort dispersed them roughly, Paulett assuring her that they were
nothing but "a sort of idle folk," who were only encouraged in laziness
by her bounty, which was very possibly true of a certain proportion of
them, but it had been a sore grief to her that since Cuthbert
Langston's last approach in disguise she had been prevented from giving

In due time Chartley was reached, and the first thing the Queen did on
dismounting was to hurry to visit poor Barbara Curll, who had--on her
increasing illness--been removed to one of the guest-chambers, where
the Queen now found her, still in much distress about her husband, who
was in close imprisonment in Walsingham's house, and had not been
allowed to send her any kind of message; and in still more immediate
anxiety about her new-born infant, who did not look at all as if its
little life would last many hours.

She lifted up her languid eyelids, and scarcely smiled when the Queen
declared, "See, Barbara, I am come back again to you, to nurse you and
my god-daughter into health to receive your husband again.  Nay, have
no fears for him.  They cannot hurt him.  He has done nothing, and is a
Scottish subject beside.  My son shall write to claim him," she
declared with such an assumed air of confidence that a shade of hope
crossed the pale face, and the fear for her child became the more
pressing of the two griefs.

"We will christen her at once," said Mary, turning to the nearest
attendant.  "Bear a request from me to Sir Amias that his chaplain may
come at once and baptize my god-child."

Sir Amias was waiting in the gallery in very ill-humour at the Queen's
delay, which kept his supper waiting.  Moreover, his party had a strong
dislike to private baptism, holding that the important point was the
public covenant made by responsible persons, and the notion of the
sponsorship of a Roman Catholic likewise shocked him. So he made
ungracious answer that he would have no baptism save in church before
the congregation, with true Protestant gossips.

"So saith he?" exclaimed Mary, when the reply was reported to her.
"Nay, my poor little one, thou shalt not be shut out of the Kingdom of
Heaven for his churlishness."  And taking the infant on her knee, she
dipped her hand in the bowl of water that had been prepared for the
chaplain, and baptized it by her own name of Mary.

The existing Prayer-book had been made expressly to forbid lay baptism
and baptism by women, at the special desire of the reformers, and Sir
Amias was proportionately horrified, and told her it was an offence for
the Archbishop's court.

"Very like," said Mary.  "Your Protestant courts love to slay both body
and soul.  Will it please you to open my own chambers to me, sir?"

Sir Amias handed the key to one of her servants but she motioned him

"Those who put me forth must admit me," she said.

The door was opened by one of the gentlemen of the household, and they
entered.  Every repository had been ransacked, every cabinet stood open
and empty, every drawer had been pulled out.  Wearing apparel and the
like remained, but even this showed signs of having been tossed over
and roughly rearranged by masculine fingers.

Mary stood in the midst of the room, which had a strange air of
desolation, an angry light in her eyes, and her hands clasped tightly
one into the other.  Paulett attempted some expression of regret for
the disarray, pleading his orders.

"It needs not excuse, sir," said Mary, "I understand to whom I owe this
insult.  There are two things that your Queen can never take from
me--royal blood and the Catholic faith.  One day some of you will be
sorry for what you have now put upon me!  I would be alone, sir," and
she proudly motioned him to the door, with a haughty gesture, showing
her still fully Queen in her own apartments. Paulett obeyed, and when
he was gone, the Queen seemed to abandon the command over herself she
had preserved all this time.  She threw herself into Jean Kennedy's
arms, and wept freely and piteously, while the good lady, rejoicing at
heart to have recovered "her bairn," fondled and soothed her with soft
Scottish epithets, as though the worn woman had been a child again.
"Yea, nurse, mine own nurse, I am come back to thee; for a little
while--only a little while, nurse, for they will have my blood, and oh!
I would it were ended, for I am aweary of it all."

Jean and Elizabeth Curll tried to cheer and console her, alarmed at
this unwonted depression, but she only said, "Get me to bed, nurse, I
am sair forfaughten."

She was altogether broken down by the long suspense, the hardships and
the imprisonment she had undergone, and she kept her bed for several
days, hardly speaking, but apparently reposing in the relief afforded
by the recovered care and companionship of her much-loved attendants.

There she was when Paulett came to demand the keys of the caskets where
her treasure was kept.  Melville had refused to yield them, and all the
Queen said was, "Robbery is to be added to the rest," a sentence which
greatly stung the knight, but he actually seized all the coin that he
found, including what belonged to Nau and Curll, and, only retaining
enough for present expenses, sent the rest off to London.



In the meantime the two Richard Talbots, father and son, had safely
arrived in London, and had been made welcome at the house of their
noble kinsman.

Nau and Curll, they heard, were in Walsingham's house, subjected to
close examination; Babington and all his comrades were in the Tower.
The Council was continually sitting to deliberate over the fate of the
latter unhappy men, of whose guilt there was no doubt; and neither Lord
Talbot nor Will Cavendish thought there was any possibility of Master
Richard gaining permission to plead how the unfortunate Babington had
been worked on and deceived.  After the sentence should be pronounced,
Cavendish thought that the request of the Earl of Shrewsbury might
prevail to obtain permission for an interview between the prisoner and
one commissioned by his former guardian.  Will was daily attending Sir
Francis Walsingham as his clerk, and was not by any means unwilling to
relate anything he had been able to learn.

Queen Elizabeth was, it seemed, greatly agitated and distressed.  The
shock to her nerves on the day when she had so bravely overawed
Barnwell with the power of her eye had been such as not to be easily
surmounted.  She was restless and full of anxiety, continually starting
at every sound, and beginning letters to the Queen of Scots which were
never finished.  She had more than once inquired after the brave sailor
youths who had come so opportunely to her rescue; and Lord Talbot
thought it would be well to present Diccon and his father to her, and
accordingly took them with him to Greenwich Palace, where they had the
benefit of looking on as loyal subjects, while her Majesty, in royal
fashion, dined in public, to the sound of drums, trumpets, fifes, and
stringed instruments.  But though dressed with her usual elaborate
care, she looked older, paler, thinner, and more haggard than when
Diccon had seen her three weeks previously, and neither her eye nor
mouth had the same steadiness.  She did not eat with relish, but almost
as if she were forcing herself, lest any lack of appetite might be
observed and commented upon, and her looks continually wandered as
though in search of some lurking enemy; for in truth no woman, nor man
either, could easily forget the suggestion which had recently been
brought to her knowledge, that an assassin might "lurk in her gallery
and stab her with his dagger, or if she should walk in her garden, he
might shoot her with his dagg, or if she should walk abroad to take the
air, he might assault her with his arming sword and make sure work."
Even though the enemies were safe in prison, she knew not but that
dagger, dagg, or arming sword might still be ready for her, and she
believed that any fatal charge openly made against Mary at the trial
might drive her friends to desperation and lead to the use of dagg or
dagger.  She was more unhinged than ever before, and commanded herself
with difficulty when going through all the scenes of her public life as

The Talbots soon felt her keen eye on them, and a look of recognition
passed over her face as she saw Diccon.  As soon as the meal was over,
and the table of trestles removed, she sent a page to command Lord
Talbot to present them to her.

"So, sir," she said, as Richard the elder knelt before her, "you are
the father of two brave sons, whom you have bred up to do good service;
but I only see one of them here.  Where is the elder?"

"So please your Majesty, Sir Amias Paulett desired to retain him at
Chartley to assist in guarding the Queen of Scots."

"It is well.  Paulett knows a trusty lad when he sees him.  And so do
I.  I would have the youths both for my gentlemen pensioners--the elder
when he can be spared from his charge, this stripling at once."

"We are much beholden to your Majesty," said Richard, bending his head
the lower as he knelt on one knee; for such an appointment gave both
training and recommendation to young country gentlemen, and was much
sought after.

"Methinks," said Elizabeth, who had the royal faculty of remembering
faces, "you have yourself so served us, Mr. Talbot?"

"I was for three years in the band of your Majesty's sister, Queen
Mary," said Richard, "but I quitted it on her death to serve at sea,
and I have since been in charge at Sheffield, under my Lord of

"We have heard that he hath found you a faithful servant," said the
Queen, "yea, so well affected as even to have refused your daughter in
marriage to this same Babington.  Is this true?"

"It is, so please your Majesty."

"And it was because you already perceived his villainy?"

"There were many causes, Madam," said Richard, catching at the chance
of saying a word for the unhappy lad, "but it was not so much villainy
that I perceived in him as a nature that might be easily practised upon
by worse men than himself."

"Not so much a villain ready made as the stuff villains are made of,"
said the Queen, satisfied with her own repartee.

"So please your Majesty, the metal that in good hands becomes a brave
sword, in evil ones becomes a treacherous dagger."

"Well said, Master Captain, and therefore, we must destroy alike the
dagger and the hands that perverted it."

"Yet," ventured Richard, "the dagger attempered by your Majesty's
clemency might yet do noble service."

Elizabeth, however, broke out fiercely with one of her wonted oaths.

"How now?  Thou wouldst not plead for the rascal!  I would have you to
know that to crave pardon for such a fellow is well-nigh treason in
itself.  You have license to leave us, sir."

"I should scarce have brought you, Richard," said Lord Talbot, as soon
as they had left the presence chamber, "had I known you would venture
on such folly.  Know you not how incensed she is?  Naught but your
proved loyalty and my father's could have borne you off this time, and
it would be small marvel to me if the lad's appointment were forgotten."

"I could not choose but run the risk," said Richard.  "What else came I
to London for?"

"Well," said his cousin, "you are a brave man, Richard Talbot.  I know
those who had rather scale a Spanish fortress than face Queen Elizabeth
in her wrath.  Her tongue is sharper than even my stepdame's, though it
doth not run on so long."

Lord Talbot was not quite easy when that evening a gentleman, clad in
rich scarlet and gold, and armed to the teeth, presented himself at
Shrewsbury House and inquired for Mr. Talbot of Bridgefield. However,
it proved to be the officer of the troop of gentlemen pensioners come
to enroll Diccon, tell him the requirements, and arrange when he should
join in a capacity something like that of an esquire to one of the
seniors of the troop.  Humfrey was likewise inquired for, but it was
thought better on all accounts that he should continue in his present
situation, since it was especially needful to have trustworthy persons
at Chartley in the existing crisis.  Master Richard was well satisfied
to find that his son's immediate superior would be a gentleman of a
good Yorkshire family, whose father was known to him, and who promised
to have a care of Master Richard the younger, and preserve him, as far
as possible, from the perils of dicing, drinking, and running into bad

Launching a son in this manner and equipping him for service was an
anxious task for a father, while day after day the trial was deferred,
the examinations being secretly carried on before the Council till, as
Cavendish explained, what was important should be disclosed.

Of course this implied what should be fatal to Queen Mary.  The priest
Ballard was racked, but he was a man of great determination, and
nothing was elicited from him.  The other prisoners, and Nau and Curll,
were questioned again and again under threats and promises before the
Council, and the letters that had been copied on their transit through
the beer barrels were read and made the subject of
cross-examination--still all in private, for, as Cavendish said,
"perilous stuff to the Queen's Majesty might come out."

He allowed, however, day after day, that though there was quite enough
to be fatal to Ballard, Babington, Savage, and Barnwell, whatever else
was wanting was not forthcoming.  At last, however, Cavendish returned
full of a certain exultation: "We have it," he said,--"a most undoubted
treasonable letter, which will catch her between the shoulders and the

He spoke to Lord Talbot and Richard, who were standing together in a
window, and who knew only too well who was referred to, and what the
expression signified.  On a further query from his step-brother,
Cavendish explained that it was a long letter, dated July 16, arranging
in detail the plan for "the Lady's" own rescue from Chartley at the
moment of the landing of the Spaniards, and likewise showing her privy
to the design of the six gentlemen against the life of the Queen, and
desiring to know their names.  Nau had, he said, verified the cipher as
one used in the correspondence, and Babington, when it was shown to
him, had declared that it had been given to him in the street by a
stranger serving-man in a blue coat, and that it had removed all doubt
from his mind, as it was an answer to a letter of his, a copy of which
had been produced, but not the letter itself.

"Which we have not found," said Cavendish.

"Not for all that search of yours at Chartley?" said Richard.
"Methought it was thorough enough!"

"The Lady must have been marvellously prudent as to the keeping of
letters," said Will, "or else she must have received some warning; for
there is absolutely naught to be found in her repositories that will
serve our purpose."

"Our purpose!" repeated Richard, as he recollected many little
kindnesses that William Cavendish when a boy had received from the
prisoner at Sheffield.

"Yea, Master Richard," he returned, unabashed.  "It is absolutely
needful that we should openly prove this woman to be what we know her
to be in secret.  Her Majesty's life will never be safe for a moment
while she lives; and what would become of us all did she overlive the

"Well, Will, for all your mighty word _we_, you are but the pen in Mr.
Secretary's hand, so there is no need to argue the matter with you,"
said Richard.

The speech considerably nettled Master William, especially as it made
Lord Talbot laugh.

"Father!" said Diccon afterwards, "Humfrey tried to warn Mr. Babington
that we had seen this Langston, who hath as many metamorphoses as there
be in Ovidius Naso, coming privily forth from Sir Francis Walsingham's
closet, but he would not listen, and declared that Langston was holding
Mr. Secretary in play."

"Deceiving and being deceived," sighed his father.  "That is ever the
way, my son!  Remember that if thou playest false, other men will play
falser with thee and bring thee to thy ruin.  I would not leave thee
here save that the gentlemen pensioners are a more honest and manly
sort of folk than yonder gentlemen with their state craft, wherein they
throw over all truth and honour as well as mercy."

This conversation took place as the father and son were making their
way to a house in Westminster, where Antony Babington's wife was with
her mother, Lady Ratcliffe.  It had been a match made by Lady
Shrewsbury, and it was part of Richard's commission to see and confer
with the family.  It was not a satisfactory interview.  The wife was a
dull childish little thing, not yet sixteen; and though she cried, she
had plainly never lived in any real sympathy or companionship with her
husband, who had left her with her parents, while leading the life of
mingled amusement and intrigue which had brought him to his present
state; and the mother, a hard-featured woman, evidently thought herself
cheated and ill used.  She railed at Babington and at my Lady Countess
by turns; at the one for his ruinous courses and neglect of her
daughter, at the other for having cozened her into giving her poor
child to a treacherous Papist, who would be attainted in blood, and
thus bring her poor daughter and grandchild to poverty. The old lady
really seemed to have lost all pity for her son-in-law in indignation
on her daughter's account, and to care infinitely less for the saving
of his life than for the saving of his estate.  Nor did the young wife
herself appear to possess much real affection for poor Antony, of whom
she had seen very little.  There must have been great faults on his
side; yet certainly Richard felt that there was some excuse for him in
the mother-in-law, and that if the unfortunate young man could have
married Cicely his lot might have been different.  Yet the good Captain
felt all the more that if Cis had been his own he still would never
have given her to Babington.



Beneath the noble roof of Westminster Hall, with the morning sun
streaming in high aloft, at seven in the morning of the 14th of
September, the Court met for the trial of Antony Babington and his
confederates.  The Talbot name and recommendation obtained ready
admission, and Lord Talbot, Richard, and his son formed one small party
together with William Cavendish, who had his tablets, on which to take
notes for the use of his superior, Walsingham, who was, however, one of
the Commissioners.

There they sat, those supreme judges, the three Chief-Justices in their
scarlet robes of office forming the centre of the group, which also
numbered Lords Cobham and Buckhurst, Sir Francis Knollys, Sir
Christopher Hatton, and most of the chief law officers of the Crown.

"Is Mr. Secretary Walsingham one of the judges here?" asked Diccon.
"Methought he had been in the place of the accuser."

"Peace, boy, and listen," said his father; "these things pass my

Nevertheless Richard had determined that if the course of the trial
should offer the least opportunity, he would come forward and plead his
former knowledge of young Babington as a rash and weak-headed youth,
easily played upon by designing persons, but likely to take to heart
such a lesson as this, and become a true and loyal subject.  If he
could obtain any sort of mitigation for the poor youth, it would be
worth the risk.

The seven conspirators were brought in, and Richard could hardly keep a
rush of tears from his eyes at the sight of those fine, high-spirited
young men, especially Antony Babington, the playfellow of his own

Antony was carefully dressed in his favourite colour, dark green, his
hair and beard trimmed, and his demeanour calm and resigned.  The fire
was gone from his blue eye, and his bright complexion had faded, but
there was an air of dignity about him such as he had never worn before.
His eyes, as he took his place, wandered round the vast assembly, and
rested at length on Mr. Talbot, as though deriving encouragement and
support from the look that met his.  Next to him was another young man
with the same look of birth and breeding, namely Chidiock Tichborne;
but John Savage, an older man, had the reckless bearing of the
brutalised soldiery of the Netherlandish wars.  Robert Barnwell, with
his red, shaggy brows and Irish physiognomy, was at once recognised by
Diccon.  Donne and Salisbury followed; and the seventh conspirator,
John Ballard, was carried in a chair.  Even Diccon's quick eye could
hardly have detected the ruffling, swaggering, richly-clad Captain
Fortescue in this tonsured man in priestly garb, deadly pale, and
unable to stand, from the effects of torture, yet with undaunted,
penetrating eyes, all unsubdued.

After the proclamation, Oyez, Oyez, and the command to keep silence,
Sandys, the Clerk of the Crown, began the proceedings.  "John Ballard,
Antony Babington, John Savage, Robert Barnwell, Chidiock Tichborne,
Henry Donne, Thomas Salisbury, hold up your hands and answer."  The
indictment was then read at great length, charging them with conspiring
to slay the Queen, to deliver Mary, Queen of Scots, from custody, to
stir up rebellion, to bring the Spaniards to invade England, and to
change the religion of the country.  The question was first put to
Ballard, Was he guilty of these treasons or not guilty?

Ballard's reply was, "That I procured the delivery of the Queen of
Scots, I am guilty; and that I went about to alter the religion, I am
guilty; but that I intended to slay her Majesty, I am not guilty."

"Not with his own hand," muttered Cavendish, "but for the rest--"

"Pity that what is so bravely spoken should be false," thought Richard,
"yet it may be to leave the way open to defence."

Sandys, however, insisted that he must plead to the whole indictment,
and Anderson, the Chief-Justice of Common Pleas, declared that he must
deny the whole generally, or confess it generally; while Hatton put in,
"Ballard, under thine own hand are all things confessed, therefore now
it is much vanity to stand vaingloriously in denying it."

"Then, sir, I confess I am guilty," he said, with great calmness,
though it was the resignation of all hope.

The same question was then put to Babington.  He, with "a mild
countenance, sober gesture," and all his natural grace, stood up and
spoke, saying "that the time for concealment was past, and that he was
ready to avow how from his earliest infancy he had believed England to
have fallen from the true religion, and had trusted to see it restored
thereto.  Moreover, he had ever a deep love and compassion for the
Queen of Scots.  Some," he said, "who are yet at large, and who are yet
as deep in the matter as I--"

"Gifford, Morgan, and another," whispered Cavendish significantly.

"Have they escaped?" asked Diccon.

"So 'tis said."

"The decoy ducks," thought Richard.

Babington was explaining that these men had proposed to him a great
enterprise for the rescue and restoration of the Queen of Scots, and
the re-establishment of the Catholic religion in England by the sword
of the Prince of Parma.  A body of gentlemen were to attack Chartley,
free Mary, and proclaim her Queen, and at the same time Queen Elizabeth
was to be put to death by some speedy and skilful method.

"My Lords," he said, "I swear that all that was in me cried out against
the wickedness of thus privily slaying her Majesty."

Some muttered, "The villain! he lies," but the kindly Richard sighed
inaudibly, "True, poor lad!  Thou must have given thy conscience over
to strange keepers to be thus led astray."

And Babington went on to say that they had brought this gentleman,
Father Ballard, who had wrought with him to prove that his scruples
were weak, carnal, and ungodly, and that it would be a meritorious deed
in the sight of Heaven thus to remove the heretic usurper.

Here the judges sternly bade him not to blaspheme, and he replied, with
that "soberness and good grace" which seems to have struck all the
beholders, that he craved patience and pardon, meaning only to explain
how he had been led to the madness which he now repented, understanding
himself to have been in grievous error, though not for the sake of any
temporal reward; but being blinded to the guilt, and assured that the
deed was both lawful and meritorious.  He thus had been brought to
destruction through the persuasions of this Ballard.

"A very fit author for so bad a fact," responded Hatton.

"Very true, sir," said Babington; "for from so bad a ground never
proceed any better fruits.  He it was who persuaded me to kill the
Queen, and to commit the other treasons, whereof I confess myself

Savage pleaded guilty at once, with the reckless hardihood of a soldier
accustomed to look on death as the fortune of war.

Barnwell denied any intention of killing the Queen (much to Diccon's
surprise), but pleaded guilty to the rest.  Donne said that on being
told of the plot he had prayed that whatever was most to the honour and
glory of Heaven might be done, and being pushed hard by Hatton, turned
this into a confession of being guilty.  Salisbury declared that he had
always protested against killing the Queen, and that he would not have
done so for a kingdom, but of the rest he was guilty. Tichborne showed
that but for an accidental lameness he would have been at his home in
Hampshire, but he could not deny his knowledge of the treason.

All having pleaded guilty, no trial was permitted, such as would have
brought out the different degrees of guilt, which varied in all the

A long speech was, however, made by the counsel for the Crown,
detailing the plot as it had been arranged for the public knowledge,
and reading aloud a letter from Babington to Queen Mary, describing his
plans both for her rescue and the assassination, saying, "he had
appointed six noble gentlemen for the despatch of the wicked

Richard caught a look of astonishment on the unhappy young man's face,
but it passed into hopeless despondency, and the speech went on to
describe the picture of the conspirators and its strange motto,
concluding with an accusation that they meant to sack London, burn the
ships, and "cloy the ordnance."

A shudder of horror went through the assembly, and perhaps few except
Richard Talbot felt that the examination of the prisoners ought to have
been public.  The form, however, was gone through of asking whether
they had cause to render wherefore they should not be condemned to die.

The first to speak was Ballard.  His eyes glanced round with an
indomitable expression of scorn and indignation, which, as Diccon
whispered, he could have felt to his very backbone.  It was like that
of a trapped and maimed lion, as the man sat in his chair with crushed
and racked limbs, but with a spirit untamed in its defiance.

"Cause, my Lords?" he replied.  "The cause I have to render will not
avail here, but it may avail before another Judgment-seat, where the
question will be, who used the weapons of treason, not merely against
whom they were employed.  Inquiry hath not been made here who suborned
the priest, Dr. Gifford, to fetch me over from Paris, that we might
together overcome the scruples of these young men, and lead them
forward in a scheme for the promotion of the true religion and the
right and lawful succession.  No question hath here been put in open
court, who framed the conspiracy, nor for what purpose.  No, my Lords;
it would baffle the end you would bring about, yea, and blot the
reputation of some who stand in high places, if it came to light that
the plot was devised, not by the Catholics who were to be the
instruments thereof, nor by the Lady in whose favour all was to be
done,--not by these, the mere victims, but by him who by a triumph of
policy thus sent forth his tempters to enclose them all within his
net--above all the persecuted Lady whom all true Catholics own as the
only lawful sovereign within these realms.  Such schemes, when they
succeed, are termed policy.  My Lords, I confess that by the justice of
England we have been guilty of treason against Queen Elizabeth; but by
the eternal law of the justice of God, we have suffered treachery far
exceeding that for which we are about to die."

"I marvel that they let the fellow speak so far," was Cavendish's

"Nay, but is it so?" asked Diccon with startled eyes.

"Hush! you have yet to learn statecraft," returned his friend.

His father's monitory hand only just saved the boy from bursting out
with something that would have rather astonished Westminster Hall, and
caused him to be taken out by the ushers.  It is not wonderful that no
report of the priest's speech has been preserved.

The name of Antony Babington was then called.  Probably he had been too
much absorbed in the misery of his position to pay attention to the
preceding speech, for his reply was quite independent of it.  He prayed
the Lords to believe, and to represent to her Majesty, that he had
received with horror the suggestion of compassing her death, and had
only been brought to believe it a terrible necessity by the persuasions
of this Ballard.

On this Hatton broke forth in indignant compassion,--"O Ballard!
Ballard! what hast thou done?  A sort of brave youth, otherwise endowed
with good gifts, by thy inducement hast thou brought to their utter
destruction and confusion!"

This apparently gave some hope to Babington, for he answered--"Yes, I
protest that, before I met this Ballard, I never meant nor intended for
to kill the Queen; but by his persuasions I was induced to believe that
she being excommunicate it was lawful to murder her."

For the first time Ballard betrayed any pain.  "Yes, Mr. Babington," he
said, "lay all the blame upon me; but I wish the shedding of my blood
might be the saving of your life.  Howbeit, say what you will, I will
say no more."

"He is the bravest of them all!" was Diccon's comment.

"Wot you that he was once our spy?" returned Cavendish with a sneer;
while Sir Christopher, with the satisfaction of a little nature in
uttering reproaches, returned--"Nay, Ballard, you must say more and
shall say more, for you must not commit treasons and then huddle them
up.  Is this your Religio Catholica?  Nay, rather it is Diabolica."

Ballard scorned to answer this, and the Clerk passed on to Savage, who
retained his soldierly fatalism, and only shook his head. Barnwell
again denied any purpose of injuring the Queen, and when Hatton spoke
of his appearance in Richmond Park, he said all had been for conscience
sake.  So said Henry Donne, but with far more piety and dignity,
adding, "fiat voluntas Dei;" and Thomas Salisbury was the only one who
made any entreaty for pardon.

Speeches followed from the Attorney-General, and from Sir Christopher
Hatton, and then the Lord Chief Justice Anderson pronounced the
terrible sentence.

Richard Talbot sat with his head bowed between his hands.  His son had
begun listening with wide-stretched eyes and mouth, as boyhood hearkens
to the dreadful, and with the hardness of an unmerciful time, too apt
to confound pity with weakness; but when his eye fell on the man he had
followed about as an elder playmate, and realised all it conveyed, his
cheek blanched, his jaw fell, and he hardly knew how his father got him
out of the court.

There was clearly no hope.  The form of the trial was such as to leave
no chance of escape from the utmost penalty.  No witnesses had been
examined, no degrees of guilt acknowledged, no palliations admitted.
Perhaps men who would have brought the Spanish havoc on their native
country, and have murdered their sovereign, were beyond the pale of
compassion.  All London clearly thought so; and yet, as Richard Talbot
dwelt on their tones and looks, and remembered how they had been
deluded and tempted, and made to believe their deed meritorious, he
could not but feel exceeding pity for the four younger men.  Ballard,
Savage, and Barnwell might be justly doomed; even Babington had, by his
own admission, entertained a fearfully evil design; but the other three
had evidently dipped far less deeply into the plot, and Tichborne had
only concealed it out of friendship. Yet the ruthless judgment
condemned all alike!  And why?  To justify a yet more cruel blow!  No
wonder honest Richard Talbot felt sick at heart.



"Here is a letter from Mr. Secretary to the Lieutenant of the Tower,
Master Richard, bidding him admit you to speech of Babington," said
Will Cavendish.  "He was loath to give it, and nothing but my Lord
Shrewsbury's interest would have done it, on my oath that you are a
prudent and discreet man, who hath been conversant in these matters for
many years."

"Yea, and that long before you were, Master Will," said Richard, always
a little entertained by the young gentleman's airs of patronage.
"However, I am beholden to you."

"That you may be, for you are the only person who hath obtained
admission to the prisoners."

"Not even their wives?"

"Mrs. Tichborne is in the country--so best for her--and Mrs. Babington
hath never demanded it.  I trow there is not love enough between them
to make them seek such a meeting.  It was one of my mother's matches.
Mistress Cicely would have cleaved to him more closely, though I am
glad you saw through the fellow too well to give her to him.  She would
be a landless widow, whereas this Ratcliffe wife has a fair portion for
her child."

"Then Dethick will be forfeited?"

"Ay.  They say the Queen hath promised it to Raleigh."

"And there is no hope of mercy?"

"Not a tittle for any man of them!  Nay, so far from it, her Majesty
asked if there were no worse nor more extraordinary mode of death for

"I should not have thought it of her."

"Her Majesty hath been affrighted, Master Richard, sorely affrighted,
though she put so bold a face upon it, and there is nothing a woman,
who prides herself on her courage, can so little pardon."

So Richard, sad at heart, took boat and ascended the Thames for his
melancholy visit.  The gateway was guarded by a stalwart yeoman,
halbert in hand, who detained him while the officer of the guard was
called.  On showing the letter from Sir Francis Walsingham, Mr. Talbot
was conducted by this personage across the first paved court to the
lodgings of the Lieutenant under so close a guard that he felt as if he
were about to be incarcerated himself, and was there kept waiting in a
sort of guard-room while the letter was delivered.

Presently the Lieutenant, Sir Owen Hopton, a well-bred courteous
knight, appeared and saluted him with apologies for his detention and
all these precautions, saying that the orders were to keep a close
guard and to hinder all communication from without, so that nothing
short of this letter would have obtained entrance for the bearer, whom
he further required to set down his name and designation in full.
Then, after asking how long the visitor wished to remain with the
prisoners--for Tichborne and Babington were quartered together--he
called a warder and committed Mr. Talbot to his guidance, to remain for
two hours locked up in the cell.

"Sir," added Sir Owen, "it is superfluous to tell you that on coming
out, you must either give me your word of honour that you convey
nothing from the prisoners, or else submit to be searched."

Richard smiled, and observed that men were wont to trust his word of
honour, to which the knight heartily replied that he was sure of it,
and he then followed the warder up stone stairs and along vaulted
passages, where the clang of their footsteps made his heart sink. The
prisoners were in the White Tower, the central body of the grim
building, and the warder, after unlocking the door, announced, with no
unnecessary rudeness, but rather as if he were glad of any comfort to
his charges, "Here, sirs, is a gentleman to visit you."

They had both risen at the sound of the key turning in the lock, and
Antony Babington's face lighted up as he exclaimed, "Mr. Talbot!  I
knew you would come if it were possible."

"I come by my Lord's desire," replied Richard, the close wringing of
his hand expressing feeling to which he durst not give way in words.

He took in at the moment that the room, though stern and strong, was
not squalid.  It was lighted fully by a window, iron-barred, but not
small, and according to custom, the prisoners had been permitted to
furnish, at their own expense, sufficient garniture for comfort, and as
both were wealthy men, they were fairly provided, and they were not
fettered.  Both looked paler than when Richard had seen them in
Westminster Hall two days previously.  Antony was as usual neatly
arrayed, with well-trimmed hair and beard, but Tichborne's hung
neglected, and there was a hollow, haggard look about his eyes, as if
of dismay at his approaching fate.  Neither was, however, forgetful of
courtesy, and as Babington presented Mr. Talbot to his friend, the
greeting and welcome would have befitted the halls of Dethick or

"Sirs," said the young man, with a sad smile irradiating for a moment
the restless despair of his countenance, "it is not by choice that I am
an intruder on your privacy; I will abstract myself so far as is

"I have no secrets from my Chidiock," cried Babington.

"But Mr. Talbot may," replied his friend, "therefore I will only first
inquire whether he can tell us aught of the royal lady for whose sake
we suffer.  They have asked us many questions, but answered none."

Richard was able to reply that after the seclusion at Tixall she had
been brought back to Chartley, and there was no difference in the
manner of her custody, moreover, that she had recovered from her attack
of illness, tidings he had just received in a letter from Humfrey.  He
did not feel it needful to inflict a pang on the men who were to die in
two days' time by letting them know that she was to be immediately
brought to trial on the evidence extracted from them.  On hearing that
her captivity was not straitened, both looked relieved, and Tichborne,
thanking him, lay down on his own bed, turned his face to the wall, and
drew the covering over his head.

"Ah!" sighed Babington, "is there no hope for him--he who has done
naught but guard too faithfully my unhappy secret?  Is he to die for
his faith and honour?"

"Alas, Antony! I am forbidden to give thee hope for any.  Of that we
must not speak.  The time is short enough for what needs to be spoken."

"I knew that there was none for myself," said Antony, "but for those
whom--" There was a gesture from Tichborne as if he could not bear
this, and he went on, "Yea, there is a matter on which I must needs
speak to you, sir.  The young lady--where is she?"--he spoke earnestly,
and lowering his voice as he bent his head.

"She is still at Chartley."

"That is well.  But, sir, she must be guarded.  I fear me there is one
who is aware of her parentage."

"The Scottish archer?"

"No, the truth."

"You knew it?"

"Not when I made my suit to her, or I should never have dared to lift
my eyes so far."

"I suppose your knowledge came from Langston," said Richard, more
perturbed than amazed at the disclosure.

"Even so.  Yet I am not certain whether he knows or only guesses; but
at any rate be on your guard for her sake.  He has proved himself so
unspeakable a villain that none can guess what he will do next.  He--he
it is above all--yea, above even Gifford and Ballard, who has brought
us to this pass."

He was becoming fiercely agitated, but putting a force upon himself
said, "Have patience, good Mr. Talbot, of your kindness, and I will
tell you all, that you may understand the coilings of the serpent who
led me hither, and if possible save her from them."

Antony then explained that so soon as he had become his own master he
had followed the inclinations which led him to the church of his mother
and of Queen Mary, the two beings he had always regarded with the most
fervent affection and love.  His mother's kindred had brought him in
contact with the Roman Catholic priests who circulated in England, at
the utmost peril of their lives, to keep up the faith of the gentry,
and in many cases to intrigue for Queen Mary.  Among these plotters he
fell in with Cuthbert Langston, a Jesuit of the third order, though not
a priest, and one of the most active agents in corresponding with Queen
Mary.  His small stature, colourless complexion, and insignificant
features, rendered him almost a blank block, capable of assuming any
variety of disguise.  He also knew several languages, could imitate
different dialects, and counterfeit male and female voices so that very
few could detect him.  He had soon made himself known to Babington as
the huckster Tibbott of days gone by, and had then disclosed to him
that Cicely was certainly not the daughter of her supposed parents,
telling of her rescue from the wreck, and hinting that her rank was
exalted, and that he knew secrets respecting her which he was about to
make known to the Queen of Scots.  With this purpose among others,
Langston had adopted the disguise of the woman selling spars with the
password "Beads and Bracelets," and being well known as an agent of
correspondence to the suite of the captive Queen, he had been able to
direct Gorion's attention to the maiden, and to let him know that she
was the same with the infant who had been put on board the Bride of
Dunbar at Dunbar.

How much more did Langston guess?  He had told Babington the story
current among the outer circle of Mary's followers of the maiden being
the daughter of the Scotch archer, and had taught him her true name,
encouraging too, his aspirations towards her during the time of his
courtship.  Babington believed Langston to have been at that time still
a sincere partizan of Queen Mary, but all along to have entertained a
suspicion that there was a closer relationship between Bride Hepburn
and the Queen than was avowed, though to Babington himself he had only
given mysterious hints.

But towards the end of the captivity at Tutbury, he had made some
further discovery, which confirmed his suspicions, and had led to
another attempt to accost Cicely, and to make the Queen aware of his
knowledge, perhaps in order to verify it, or it might be to gain power
over her, a reward for the introduction, or to extort bribes to
secrecy.  For looking back, Antony could now perceive that by this time
a certain greed of lucre had set in upon the man, who had obtained
large sums of secret service money from himself; and avarice, together
with the rebuff he had received from the Queen, had doubtless rendered
him accessible to the temptations of the arch-plotters Gifford and
Morgan.  Richard could believe this, for the knowledge had been forced
on him that there were an incredible number of intriguers at that time,
spies and conspirators, often in the pay of both parties, impartially
betraying the one to the other, and sometimes, through miscalculation,
meeting the fate they richly deserved.  Many a man who had begun
enthusiastically to work in underground ways for what he thought the
righteous cause, became so enamoured of the undermining process, and
the gold there to be picked up, that from a wrong-headed partizan he
became a traitor--often a double-faced one--and would work secretly in
the interest of whichever cause would pay him best.

Poor Babington had been far too youthfully simple to guess what he now
perceived, that he had been made the mere tool and instrument of these
traitors.  He had been instructed in Gifford's arrangement with the
Burton brewer for conveying letters to Mary at Chartley, and had been
made the means of informing her of it by means of his interview with
Cicely, when he had brought the letter in the watch.  The letter had
been conveyed to him by Langston, the watch had been his own device.
It was after this meeting, of which Richard now heard for the first
time, that Langston had fully told his belief respecting the true birth
of Bride Hepburn, and assured Babington that there was no hope of his
wedding her, though the Queen might allow him to delude himself with
the idea of her favour in order to bind him to her service.

It was then that Babington consented to Lady Shrewsbury's new match
with the well-endowed Eleanor Ratcliffe.  If he could not have Cicely,
he cared not whom he had.  He had been leading a wild and extravagant
life about town, when (as poor Tichborne afterwards said on the
scaffold) the flourishing estate of Babington and Tichborne was the
talk of Fleet Street and the Strand, and he had also many calls for
secret service money, so that all his thought was to have more to spend
in the service of Queen Mary and her daughter.

"Oh, sir!  I have been as one distraught all this past year," he said.
"How often since I have been shut up here, and I have seen how I have
been duped and gulled, have your words come back to me, that to enter
on crooked ways was the way to destruction for myself and others, and
that I might only be serving worse men than myself!  And yet they were
priests who misled me!"

"Even in your own religion there are many priests who would withhold
you from such crimes," said Richard.

"There are!  I know it!  I have spoken with them.  They say no priest
can put aside the eternal laws of God's justice.  So these others,
Chidiock here, Donne and Salisbury, always cried out against the
slaying of the Queen, though--wretch that I was--and gulled by Ballard
and Savage, I deemed the exploit so noble and praiseworthy that I even
joined Tichborne with me in that accursed portraiture! Yea, you may
well deem me mad, but it was Gifford who encouraged me in having it
made, no doubt to assure our ruin.  Oh, Mr. Talbot! was ever man so
cruelly deceived as me?"

"It is only too true, Antony.  My heart is full of rage and indignation
when I think thereof.  And yet, my poor lad, what concerns thee most is
to lay aside all such thoughts as may not tend to repentance before

"I know it, I know it, sir.  All the more that we shall die without the
last sacraments.  Commend us to the prayers of our Queen, sir, and of
her.  But to proceed with what imports you to know for her sake, while
I have space to speak."

He proceeded to tell how, between dissipation and intrigue, he had
lived in a perpetual state of excitement, going backwards and forwards
between London and Lichfield to attend to the correspondence with Queen
Mary and the Spanish ambassador in France, and to arrange the details
of the plot; always being worked up to the highest pitch by Gifford and
Ballard, while Langston continued to be the great assistant in all the
correspondence.  All the time Sir Francis Walsingham, who was really
aware of all, if not the prime mover in the intrigue, appeared
perfectly unsuspicious; often received Babington at his house, and
discussed a plan of sending him on a commission to France, while in
point of fact every letter that travelled in the Burton barrels was
deciphered by Phillipps, and laid before the Secretary before being
read by the proper owners.  In none of these, however, as Babington
could assure Mr. Talbot, had Cicely been mentioned,--the only danger to
her was through Langston.

Things had come to a climax in July, when Babington had been urged to
obtain from Mary such definite approbation of his plans as might
satisfy his confederates, and had in consequence written the letter and
obtained the answer, copies of which had been read to him at his
private examination, and which certainly contained fatal matter to both
him and the Queen.

They had no doubt been called forth with that intent, and a doubt had
begun to arise in the victim's mind whether the last reply had been
really the Queen's own.  It had been delivered to him in the street,
not by the usual channel, but by a blue-coated serving-man.  Two or
three days later Humfrey had told him of Langston's interview with
Walsingham, which he had at the time laughed to scorn, thinking himself
able to penetrate any disguise of that Proteus, and likewise believing
that he was blinding Walsingham.

He first took alarm a few days after Humfrey's departure, and wrote to
Queen Mary to warn her, convinced that the traitor must be Langston.
Ballard became himself suspected, and after lurking about in various
disguises was arrested in Babington's own lodgings.  To disarm
suspicion, Antony went to Walsingham to talk about the French Mission,
and tried to resume his usual habits, but in a tavern, he became aware
that Langston, under some fresh shape, was watching him, and hastily
throwing down the reckoning, he fled without his cloak or sword to
Gage's house at Westminster, where he took horse, hid himself in St.
John's Wood, and finally was taken, half starved, in an outhouse at
Harrow, belonging to a farmer, whose mercy involved him in the like

This was the substance of the story told by the unfortunate young man
to Richard Talbot, whom he owned as the best and wisest friend he had
ever had--going back to the warnings twice given, that no cause is
served by departing from the right; no kingdom safely won by
worshipping the devil: "And sure I did worship him when I let myself be
led by Gifford," he said.

His chief anxiety was not for his wife and her child, who he said would
be well taken care of by the Ratcliffe family, and who, alas! had never
won his heart.  In fact he was relieved that he was not permitted to
see the young thing, even had she wished it; it could do no good to
either of them, though he had written a letter, which she was to
deliver, for the Queen, commending her to her Majesty's mercy.

His love had been for Cicely, and even that had never been, as Richard
saw, such purifying, restraining, self-sacrificing affection as was
Humfrey's.  It was half romance, half a sort of offshoot from his one
great and absorbing passion of devotion to the Queen of Scots, which
was still as strong as ever.  He entrusted Richard with his humblest
commendations to her, and strove to rest in the belief that as many a
conspirator before--such as Norfolk, Throckmorton, Parry--had perished
on her behalf while she remained untouched, that so it might again be,
since surely, if she were to be tried, he would have been kept alive as
a witness.  The peculiar custom of the time in State prosecutions of
hanging the witnesses before the trial had not occurred to him.

But how would it be with Cicely?  "Is what this fellow guessed the very
truth?" he asked.

Richard made a sign of affirmation, saying, "Is it only a guess on his

Babington believed the man stopped short of absolute certainty, though
he had declared himself to have reason to believe that a child must
have been born to the captive queen at Lochleven; and if so, where else
could she be?  Was he waiting for clear proof to make the secret known
to the Council?  Did he intend to make profit of it and obtain in the
poor girl a subject for further intrigue?  Was he withheld by
consideration for Richard Talbot, for whom Babington declared that if
such a villain could be believed in any respect, he had much family
regard and deep gratitude, since Richard had stood his friend when all
his family had cast him off in much resentment at his change of purpose
and opinion.

At any rate he had in his power Cicely's welfare and liberty, if not
the lives of her adopted parents, since in the present juncture of
affairs, and of universal suspicion, the concealment of the existence
of one who stood so near the throne might easily be represented as high
treason.  Where was he?

No one knew.  For appearance sake, Gifford had fled beyond seas,
happily only to fall into a prison of the Duke of Guise: and they must
hope that Langston might have followed the same course. Meantime,
Richard could but go on as before, Cicely being now in her own mother's
hands.  The avowal of her identity must remain for the present as might
be determined by her who had the right to decide.

"I would I could feel hope for any I leave behind me," said poor
Antony.  "I trow you will not bear the maiden my message, for you will
deem it a sin that I have loved her, and only her, to the last, though
I have been false to that love as to all else beside.  Tell Humfrey how
I long that I had been like him, though he too must love on without

He sent warm greetings to good Mistress Susan Talbot and craved her
prayers.  He had one other care, namely to commend to Mr. Talbot an old
body servant, Harry Gillingham by name, who had attended on him in his
boyhood at Sheffield, and had been with him all his life, being
admitted even now, under supervision from the warders, to wait on him
when dressing and at his meals.  The poor man was broken-hearted, and
so near desperation that his master wished much to get him out of
London before the execution.  So, as Mr. Talbot meant to sail for Hull
by the next day's tide in the Mastiff, he promised to take the poor
fellow with him back to Bridgefield.

All this had taken much time.  Antony did not seem disposed to go
farther into his own feelings in the brief space that remained, but he
took up a paper from the table, and indicating Tichborne, who still
affected sleep, he asked whether it was fit that a man, who could write
thus, should die for a plot against which he had always protested.
Richard read these touching lines:--

          My prime of youth is but a frost of care,
            My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
          My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
            And all my goods is but vain hope of gain.
          The day is fled, and yet I saw no sun;
          And now I live, and now my life is done.

          My spring is past, and yet it hath not sprung;
            The fruit is dead, and yet the leaves are green;
          My youth is past, and yet I am but young;
            I saw the world, and yet I was not seen.
          My thread is cut, and yet it is not spun;
          And now I live, and now my life is done.

          I sought for death, and found it in the wombe;
            I lookt for life, and yet it was a shade;
          I trode the ground, and knew it was my tombe,
            And now I dye, and now I am but made.
          The glass is full, and yet my glass is run;
          And now I live, and now my life is done.

Little used to poetry, these lines made the good man's eyes fill with
tears as he looked at the two goodly young men about to be cut off so
early--one indeed guilty, but the victim of an iniquitous act of
deliberate treachery.

He asked if Mr. Tichborne wished to entrust to him aught that could be
done by word of mouth, and a few commissions were given to him. Then
Antony bethought him of thanks to Lord and Lady Shrewsbury for all they
had done for him, and above all for sending Mr. Talbot; and a message
to ask pardon for having so belied the loyal education they had given
him.  The divided religion of the country had been his bane: his
mother's charge secretly to follow her faith had been the beginning,
and then had followed the charms of stratagem on behalf of Queen Mary.

Perhaps, after all, his death, as a repentant man still single minded,
saved him from lapsing into the double vileness of the veteran
intriguers whose prey he had been.

"I commend me to the Mercy Master Who sees my heart," he said.

Herewith the warder returned, and at his request summoned Gillingham, a
sturdy grizzled fellow, looking grim with grief.  Babington told him of
the arrangement made, and that he was to leave London early in the
morning with Mr. Talbot, but the man immediately dropped on his knees
and swore a solemn oath that nothing should induce him to leave the
place while his master breathed.

"Thou foolish knave," said Antony, "thou canst do me no good, and wilt
but make thyself a more piteous wretch than thou art already. Why, 'tis
for love of thee that I would have thee spared the sight."

"Am I a babe to be spared?" growled the man.  And all that he could be
induced to promise was that he would repair to Bridgefield as soon as
all was over--"Unless," said he, "I meet one of those accursed rogues,
and then a halter would be sweet, if I had first had my will of them."

"Hush, Harry, or Master Warder will be locking thee up next," said

And then came the farewell.  It was at last a long, speechless,
sorrowful embrace; and then Antony, slipping from it to his knees,
said--"Bless me!  Oh bless me: thou who hast been mine only true
friend.  Bless me as a father!"

"May God in Heaven bless thee!" said Richard, solemnly laying his hand
on his head.  "May He, Who knoweth how thou hast been led astray,
pardon thee!  May He, Who hath felt the agonies and shame of the Cross,
redeem thee, and suffer thee not for any pains of death to fall from

He was glad to hear afterwards, when broken-hearted Gillingham joined
him, that the last words heard from Antony Babington's lips
were--"Parce mihi, Domine JESU!"



"Is this my last journey?" said Queen Mary, with a strange, sad smile,
as she took her seat in the heavy lumbering coach which had been
appointed for her conveyance from Chartley, her rheumatism having set
in too severely to permit her to ride.

"Say not so; your Grace has weathered many a storm before," said Marie
de Courcelles.  "This one will also pass over."

"Ah, my good Marie, never before have I felt this foreboding and
sinking of the heart.  I have always hoped before, but I have exhausted
the casket of Pandora.  Even hope is flown!"

Jean Kennedy tried to say something of "Darkest before dawn."

"The dawn, it may be, of the eternal day," said the Queen.  "Nay, my
friends, the most welcome tidings that could greet me would be that my
weary bondage was over for ever, and that I should wreck no more
gallant hearts.  What, mignonne, art thou weeping?  There will be
freedom again for thee when that day comes."

"O madam, I want not freedom at such a price!"  And yet Cicely had
never recovered her looks since those seventeen days at Tickhill. She
still looked white and thin, and her dark eyebrows lay in a heavy line,
seldom lifted by the merry looks and smiles that used to flash over her
face.  Life had begun to press its weight upon her, and day after day,
as Humfrey watched her across the chapel, and exchanged a word or two
with her while crossing the yard, had he grieved at her altered mien;
and vexed himself with wondering whether she had after all loved
Babington, and were mourning for him.

Truly, even without the passion of love, there had been much to shock
and appal a young heart in the fate of the playfellow of her childhood,
the suitor of her youth.  It was the first death among those she had
known intimately, and even her small knowledge of the cause made her
feel miserable and almost guilty, for had not poor Antony plotted for
her mother, and had not she been held out to him as a delusive
inducement?  Moreover, she felt the burden of a deep, pitying love and
admiration not wholly joined with perfect trust and reliance.  She had
been from the first startled by untruths and concealments.  There was
mystery all round her, and the future was dark.  There were terrible
forebodings for her mother; and if she looked beyond for herself, only
uncertainty and fear of being commanded to follow Marie de Courcelles
to a foreign court, perhaps to a convent; while she yearned with an
almost sick longing for home and kind Mrs. Talbot's motherly tenderness
and trustworthiness, and the very renunciation of Humfrey that she had
spoken so easily, had made her aware of his full worth, and wakened in
her a longing for the right to rest on his stout arm and faithful
heart.  To look across at him and know him near often seemed her best
support, and was she to be cut off from him for ever?  The devotions of
the Queen, though she had been deprived of her almoner had been much
increased of late as one preparing for death; and with them were
associated all her household of the Roman Catholic faith, leaving out
Cicely and the two Mrs. Curlls.  The long oft-repeated Latin orisons,
such as the penitential Psalms, would certainly have been wearisome to
the girl, but it gave her a pang to be pointedly excluded as one who
had no part nor lot with her mother.  Perhaps this was done by
calculation, in order to incline her to embrace her mother's faith; and
the time was not spent very pleasantly, as she had nothing but
needlework to occupy her, and no society save that of the sisters
Curll.  Barbara's spirits were greatly depressed by the loss of her
infant and anxiety for her husband.  His evidence might be life or
death to the Queen, and his betrayal of her confidence, or his being
tortured for his fidelity, were terrible alternatives for his wife's
imagination.  It was hard to say whether she were more sorry or glad
when, on leaving Chartley, she was forbidden to continue her attendance
on the Queen, and set free to follow him to London.  The poor lady knew
nothing, and dreaded everything.  She could not help discussing her
anxieties when alone with Cicely, thus rendering perceptible more and
more of the ramifications of plot and intrigue--past and present--at
which she herself only guessed a part.  Assuredly the finding herself a
princess, and sharing the captivity of a queen, had not proved so like
a chapter of the Morte d'Arthur as it had seemed to Cicely at Buxton.

It was as unlike as was riding a white palfrey through a forest, guided
by knights in armour, to the being packed with all the ladies into a
heavy jolting conveyance, guarded before and behind by armed servants
and yeomen, among whom Humfrey's form could only now and then be

The Queen had chosen her seat where she could best look out from the
scant amount of window.  She gazed at the harvest-fields full of
sheaves, the orchards laden with ruddy apples, the trees assuming their
autumn tints, with lingering eyes, as of one who foreboded that these
sights of earth were passing from her.

Two nights were spent on the road, one at Leicester; and on the fourth
day, the captain in charge of the castle for the governor Sir William
Fitzwilliam, who had come to escort and receive her, came to the
carriage window and bade her look up.  "This is Periho Lane," he said,
"whence your Grace may have the first sight of the poor house which is
to have the honour of receiving you."

"Perio! I perish," repeated Mary; "an ominous road."

The place showed itself to be of immense strength.  The hollow sound
caused by rolling over a drawbridge was twice heard, and the carriage
crossed two courts before stopping at the foot of a broad flight of
stone steps, where stood Sir William Fitzwilliam and Sir Amias Paulett
ready to hand out the Queen.

A few stone steps were mounted, then an enormous hall had to be
traversed.  The little procession had formed in pairs, and Humfrey was
able to give his hand to Cicely and walk with her along the vast space,
on which many windows emblazoned with coats of arms shed their
light--the western ones full of the bright September sunshine.  One of
these, emblazoned with the royal shield in crimson mantlings, cast a
blood-red stain on the white stone pavement.  Mary, who was walking
first, holding by the arm of Sir Andrew Melville, paused, shuddered,
pointed, and said, "See, Andrew, there will my blood be shed."

"Madam, madam! speak not thus.  By the help of the saints you will yet
win through your troubles."

"Ay, Andrew, but only by one fate;" and she looked upwards.

Her faithful followers could not but notice that there was no eager
assurance that no ill was intended her, such as they had often heard
from Shrewsbury and Sadler.

Cicely looked at Humfrey with widely-opened eyes, and the half-breathed
question, "What does it mean?"

He shook his head gravely and said, "I cannot tell," but he could not
keep his manner from betraying that he expected the worst.

Meanwhile Mary was conducted on to her apartments, up a stair as usual,
and forming another side of the inner court at right angles to the
Hall.  There was no reason to complain of these, Mary's furniture
having as usual been sent forward with her inferior servants, and
arranged by them.  She was weary, and sat down at once on her chair,
and as soon as Paulett had gone through his usual formalities with even
more than his wonted stiffness, and had left her, she said, "I see what
we are come here for.  It is that yonder hall may be the place of my

Cheering assurances and deprecations of evil augury were poured on her,
but she put them aside, saying, "Nay, my friends, trow you not that I
rejoice in the close of my weary captivity?"

She resumed her usual habits very calmly, as far as her increased
rheumatism would permit, and showed anxiety that a large piece of
embroidery should be completed, and thus about a fortnight passed. Then
came the first token of the future.  Sir Amias Paulett, Sir Walter
Mildmay, and a notary, sought her presence and presented her with a
letter from Queen Elizabeth, informing her that there were heavy
accusations against her, and that as she was residing under the
protection of the laws of England, she must be tried by those laws, and
must make answer to the commissioners appointed for the purpose. Mary
put on all her queenly dignity, and declared that she would never
condescend to answer as a subject of the Queen of England, but would
only consent to refer their differences to a tribunal of foreign
princes.  As to her being under the protection of English law, she had
come to England of her own free will, and had been kept there a
prisoner ever since, so that she did not consider herself protected by
the law of England.

Meanwhile fresh noblemen commissioned to sit on the trial arrived day
by day.  There was trampling of horses and jingling of equipments, and
the captive suite daily heard reports of fresh arrivals, and saw
glimpses of new colours and badges flitting across the court, while
conferences were held with Mary in the hope of inducing her to submit
to the English jurisdiction.  She was sorely perplexed, seeing as she
did that to persist in her absolute refusal to be bound by English law
would be prejudicial to her claim to the English crown, and being also
assured by Burghley that if she refused to plead the trial would still
take place, and she would be sentenced in her absence.  Her spirit rose
at this threat, and she answered disdainfully, but it worked with her
none the less when the treasurer had left her.

"Oh," she cried that night, "would but Elizabeth be content to let me
resign my rights to my son, making them secure to him, and then let me
retire to some convent in Lorraine, or in Germany, or wherever she
would, so would I never trouble her more!"

"Will you not write this to her?" asked Cicely.

"What would be the use of it, child?  They would tamper with the
letter, pledging me to what I never would undertake.  I know how they
can cut and garble, add and take away!  Never have they let me see or
speak to her as woman to woman.  All I have said or done has been

"Mother, I would that I could go to her; Humfrey has seen and spoken to
her, why should not I?"

"Thou, poor silly maid!  They would drive Cis Talbot away with scorn,
and as to Bride Hepburn, why, she would but run into all her mother's

"It might be done, and if so I will do it," said Cicely, clasping her
hands together.

"No, child, say no more.  My worn-out old life is not worth the risk of
thy young freedom.  But I love thee for it, mine ain bairnie, mon
enfant a moi.  If thy brother had thy spirit, child--"

"I hate the thought of him!  Call him not my brother!" cried Cicely
hotly.  "If he were worth one brass farthing he would have unfurled the
Scottish lion long ago, and ridden across the Border to deliver his

"And how many do you think would have followed that same lion?" said
Mary, sadly.

"Then he should have come alone with his good horse and his good sword!"

"To lose both crowns, if not life!  No, no, lassie; he is a pawky
chiel, as they say in the north, and cares not to risk aught for the
mother he hath never seen, and of whom he hath been taught to believe
strange tales."

The more the Queen said in excuse for the indifference of her son, the
stronger was the purpose that grew up in the heart of the daughter,
while fresh commissioners arrived every day, and further conversations
were held with the Queen.  Lord Shrewsbury was known to be summoned,
and Cicely spent half her time in watching for some well-known face, in
the hope that he might bring her good foster-father in his train.  More
than once she declared that she saw a cap or sleeve with the
well-beloved silver dog, when it turned out to be a wyvern or the royal
lion himself.  Queen Mary even laughed at her for thinking her mastiff
had gone on his hind legs when she once even imagined him in the
Warwick Bear and ragged staff.

At last, however, all unexpectedly, while the Queen was in conference
with Hatton, there came a message by the steward of the household, that
Master Richard Talbot had arrived, and that permission had been granted
by Sir Amias for him to speak with Mistress Cicely.  She sprang up
joyously, but Mrs. Kennedy demurred.

"Set him up!" quoth she.  "My certie, things are come to a pretty pass
that any one's permission save her Majesty's should be speired for one
of her women, and I wonder that you, my mistress, should be the last to
think of her honour!"

"O Mrs. Kennedy, dear Mrs. Jean," entreated Cicely, "hinder me not. If
I wait till I can ask her, I may lose my sole hope of speaking with
him.  I know she would not be displeased, and it imports, indeed it

"Come, Mrs. Kennett," said the steward, who by no means shared his
master's sourness, "if it were a young gallant that craved to see thy
fair mistress, I could see why you should doubt, but being her father
and brother, there can surely be no objection."

"The young lady knows what I mean," said the old gentlewoman with great
dignity, "but if she will answer it to the Queen--"

"I will, I will," cried Cicely, whose colour had risen with eagerness,
and she was immediately marshalled by the steward beyond the door that
closed in the royal captive's suite of apartments to a gallery.  At the
door of communication three yeomen were always placed under an officer.
Humfrey was one of those who took turns to command this guard, but he
was not now on duty.  He was, however, standing beside his father
awaiting Cicely's coming.

Eagerly she moved up to Master Richard, bent her knee for his blessing,
and raised her face for his paternal kiss with the same fond gladness
as if she had been his daughter in truth.  He took one hand, and
Humfrey the other, and they followed the steward, who had promised to
procure them a private interview, so difficult a matter, in the fulness
of the castle, that he had no place to offer them save the deep
embrasure of a great oriel window at the end of the gallery. They would
be seen there, but there was no fear of their being heard without their
own consent, and till the chapel bell rang for evening prayers and
sermon there would be no interruption.  And as Cicely found herself
seated between Master Richard and the window, with Humfrey opposite,
she was sensible of a repose and bien etre she had not felt since she
quitted Bridgefield.  She had already heard on the way that all was
well there, and that my Lord was not come, though named in the
commission as being Earl Marshal of England, sending his kinsman of
Bridgefield in his stead with letters of excuse.

"In sooth he cannot bear to come and sit in judgment on one he hath
known so long and closely," said Richard; "but he hath bidden me to
come hither and remain so as to bring him a full report of all."

"How doth my Lady Countess take that?" asked Humfrey.

"I question whether the Countess would let him go if he wished it. She
is altogether changed in mind, and come round to her first love for
this Lady, declaring that it is all her Lord's fault that the custody
was taken from them, and that she could and would have hindered all

"That may be so," said Humfrey.  "If all be true that is whispered,
there have been dealings which would not have been possible at

"So it may be.  In any wise my Lady is bitterly grieved, and they send
for thy mother every second day to pacify her."

"Dear mother!" murmured Cis; "when shall I see her again?"

"I would that she had thee for a little space, my wench," said Richard;
"thou hast lost thy round ruddy cheeks.  Hast been sick?"

"Nay, sir, save as we all are--sick at heart!  But all seems well now
you are here.  Tell me of little Ned.  Is he as good scholar as ever?"

"Verily he is.  We intend by God's blessing to bring him up for the
ministry.  I hope in another year to take him to Cambridge.  Thy mother
is knitting his hosen of gray and black already."

Other questions and answers followed about Bridgefield tidings, which
still evidently touched Cicely as closely as if she had been a born
Talbot.  There was a kind of rest in dwelling on these before coming to
the sadder, more pressing concern of her other life.  It was not till
the slow striking of the Castle clock warned them that they had less
than an hour to spend together that they came to closer matters, and
Richard transferred to Cicely those last sad messages to her Queen,
which he had undertaken for Babington and Tichborne.

"The Queen hath shed many tears for them," she said, "and hath writ to
the French and Spanish ambassadors to have masses said for them. Poor
Antony!  Did he send no word to me, dear father?"

The man being dead, Mr. Talbot saw no objection to telling her how he
had said he had never loved any other, though he had been false to that

"Ah, poor Antony!" said Cis, with her grave simplicity.  "But it would
not have been right for me to be a hindrance to the marriage of one who
could never have me."

"While he loved you it would," said Humfrey hastily.  "Yea," as she
lifted up her eyes to him, "it would so, as my father will tell you,
because he could not truly love that other woman."

Richard smiled sadly, and could not but assent to his son's honest
truth and faith.

"Then," said Cis, with the same straightforwardness, sprung of their
old fraternal intercourse, "you must quit all love for me save a
brother's, Humfrey; for my Queen mother made me give her my word on my
duty never to wed you."

"I know," returned Humfrey calmly.  "I have known all that these two
years; but what has that to do with my love?"

"Come, come, children," said Richard, hardening himself though his eyes
were moist; "I did not come here to hear you two discourse like the
folks in a pastoral!  We may not waste time.  Tell me, child, if thou
be not forbidden, hath she any purpose for thee?"

"O sir, I fear that what she would most desire is to bestow me abroad
with some of her kindred of Lorraine.  But I mean to strive hard
against it, and pray her earnestly.  And, father, I have one great
purpose.  She saith that these cruel statesmen, who are all below in
this castle, have hindered Queen Elizabeth from ever truly hearing and
knowing all, and from speaking with her as woman to woman. Father, I
will go to London, I will make my way to the Queen, and when she hears
who I am--of her own blood and kindred--she must listen to me; and I
will tell her what my mother Queen really is, and how cruelly she has
been played upon, and entreat of her to see her face to face and talk
with her, and judge whether she can have done all she is accused of."

"Thou art a brave maiden, Cis," exclaimed Humfrey with deep feeling.

"Will you take me, sir?" said Cicely, looking up to Master Richard.

"Child, I cannot say at once.  It is a perilous purpose, and requires
much to be thought over."

"But you will aid me?" she said earnestly.

"If it be thy duty, woe be to me if I gainsay thee," said Richard; "but
there is no need to decide as yet.  We must await the issue of this
trial, if the trial ever take place."

"Will Cavendish saith," put in Humfrey, "that a trial there will be of
some sort, whether the Lady consent to plead or not."

"Until that is ended we can do nothing," said his father.  "Meantime,
Cicely child, we shall be here at hand, and be sure that I will not be
slack to aid thee in what may be thy duty as a daughter.  So rest thee
in that, my wench, and pray that we may be led to know the right."

And Richard spoke as a man of high moral courage in making this
promise, well knowing that it might involve himself in great danger.
The worst that could befall Cicely might be imprisonment, and a life of
constraint, jealously watched; but his own long concealment of her
birth might easily be construed into treason, and the horrible
consequences of such an accusation were only too fresh in his memory.
Yet, as he said afterwards to his son, "There was no forbidding the
maiden to do her utmost for her own mother, neither was there any
letting her run the risk alone."

To which Humfrey heartily responded.

"The Queen may forbid her, or the purpose may pass away," added
Richard, "or it may be clearly useless and impossible to make the
attempt; but I cannot as a Christian man strive to dissuade her from
doing what she can.  And as thou saidst, Humfrey, she is changed. She
hath borne her modestly and discreetly, ay and truly, through all.  The
childishness is gone out of her, and I mark no lightness of purpose in

On that afternoon Queen Mary announced that she had yielded to Hatton's
representations so far as to consent to appear before the
Commissioners, provided her protest against the proceedings were put on

"Nay, blame me not, good Melville," she said. "I am wearied out with
their arguments.  What matters it how they do the deed on which they
are bent?  It was an ill thing when King Harry the Eighth brought in
this fashion of forcing the law to give a colour to his will!  In the
good old times, the blow came without being first baited by one and
another, and made a spectacle to all men, in the name of justice,

Mary Seaton faltered something of her Majesty's innocence shining out
like the light of day.

"Flatter not thyself so far, ma mie," said Mary.  "Were mine innocence
clearer than the sun they would blacken it.  All that can come of this
same trial is that I may speak to posterity, if they stifle my voice
here, and so be known to have died a martyr to my faith.  Get we to our
prayers, girls, rather than feed on vain hopes. De profundis clamavi."



Who would be permitted to witness the trial?  As small matters at hand
eclipse great matters farther off, this formed the immediate excitement
in Queen Mary's little household, when it was disclosed that she was to
appear only attended by Sir Andrew Melville and her two Maries before
her judges.

The vast hall had space enough on the ground for numerous spectators,
and a small gallery intended for musicians was granted, with some
reluctance, to the ladies and gentlemen of the suite, who, as Sir Amias
Paulett observed, could do no hurt, if secluded there.  Thither then
they proceeded, and to Cicely's no small delight, found Humfrey
awaiting them there, partly as a guard, partly as a master of the
ceremonies, ready to explain the arrangements, and tell the names of
the personages who appeared in sight.

"There," said he, "close below us, where you cannot see it, is the
chair with a cloth of state over it."

"For our Queen?" asked Jean Kennedy.

"No, madam. It is there to represent the Majesty of Queen Elizabeth.
That other chair, half-way down the hall, with the canopy from the beam
over it, is for the Queen of Scots."

Jean Kennedy sniffed the air a little at this, but her attention was
directed to the gentlemen who began to fill the seats on either side.
Some of them had before had interviews with Queen Mary, and thus were
known by sight to her own attendants; some had been seen by Humfrey
during his visit to London; and even now at a great distance, and a
different table, he had been taking his meals with them at the present

The seats were long benches against the wall, for the Earls on one
side, the Barons on the other.  The Lord Chancellor Bromley, in his red
and white gown, and Burghley, the Lord Treasurer, with long white beard
and hard impenetrable face, sat with them.

"That a man should have such a beard, and yet dare to speak to the
Queen as he did two days ago," whispered Cis.

"See," said Mrs. Kennedy, "who is that burly figure with the black eyes
and grizzled beard?"

"That, madam," said Humfrey, "is the Earl of Warwick."

"The brother of the minion Leicester?" said Jean Kennedy.  "He hath
scant show of his comeliness."

"Nay; they say he is become the best favoured," said Humfrey; "my Lord
of Leicester being grown heavy and red-faced.  He is away in the
Netherlands, or you might judge of him."

"And who," asked the lady, "may be yon, with the strangely-plumed hat
and long, yellow hair, like a half-tamed Borderer?"

"He?" said Humfrey.  "He is my Lord of Cumberland.  I marvelled to see
him back so soon.  He is here, there, and everywhere; and when I was in
London was commanding a fleet bearing victuals to relieve the Dutch in
Helvoetsluys.  Had I not other work in hand, I would gladly sail with
him, though there be something fantastic in his humour. But here come
the Knights of the Privy Council, who are to my mind more noteworthy
than the Earls."

The seats of these knights were placed a little below and beyond those
of the noblemen.  The courteous Sir Ralf Sadler looked up and saluted
the ladies in the gallery as he entered.  "He was always kindly," said
Jean Kennedy, as she returned the bow.  "I am glad to see him here."

"But oh, Humfrey!" cried Cicely, "who is yonder, with the short cloak
standing on end with pearls, and the quilted satin waistcoat, jewelled
ears, and frizzed head?  He looks fitter to lead off a dance than a

"He is Sir Christopher Hatton, her Majesty's Vice-Chamberlain," replied

"Who, if rumour saith true, made his fortune by a galliard," said Dr.

"Here is a contrast to him," said Jean Kennedy.  "See that figure, as
puritanical as Sir Amias himself, with the long face, scant beard,
black skull-cap, and plain crimped ruff.  His visage is pulled into so
solemn a length that were we at home in Edinburgh, I should expect to
see him ascend a pulpit, and deliver a screed to us all on the
iniquities of dancing and playing on the lute!"

"That, madam," said Humfrey, "is Mr. Secretary, Sir Francis Walsingham."

Here Elizabeth Curll leant forward, looked, and shivered a little. "Ah,
Master Humfrey, is it in that man's power that my poor brother lies?"

"'Tis true, madam," said Humfrey, "but indeed you need not fear.  I
heard from Will Cavendish last night that Mr. Curll is well.  They have
not touched either of the Secretaries to hurt them, and if aught have
been avowed, it was by Monsieur Nau, and that on the mere threat.  Do
you see old Will yonder, Cicely, just within Mr. Secretary's call--with
the poke of papers and the tablet?"

"Is that Will Cavendish?  How precise and stiff he hath grown, and why
doth he not look up and greet us?  He knoweth us far better than doth
Sir Ralf Sadler; doth he not know we are here?"

"Ay, Mistress Cicely," said Dr. Bourgoin from behind, "but the young
gentleman has his fortune to make, and knows better than to look on the
seamy side of Court favour."

"Ah! see those scarlet robes," here exclaimed Cis.  "Are they the
judges, Humfrey?"

"Ay, the two Chief-Justices and the Chief Baron of the Exchequer. There
they sit in front of the Earls, and three more judges in front of the

"And there are more red robes at that little table in front, besides
the black ones."

"Those are Doctors of Law, and those in black with coifs are the
Attorney and Solicitor General.  The rest are clerks and writers and
the like."

"It is a mighty and fearful array," said Cicely with a long breath.

"A mighty comedy wherewith to mock at justice," said Jean.

"Prudence, madam, and caution," suggested Dr. Bourgoin.  "And hush!"

A crier here shouted aloud, "Oyez, oyez, oyez!  Mary, Queen of Scotland
and Dowager of France, come into the Court!"

Then from a door in the centre, leaning on Sir Andrew Melville's arm,
came forward the Queen, in a black velvet dress, her long transparent
veil hanging over it from her cap, and followed by the two Maries, one
carrying a crimson velvet folding-chair, and the other a footstool.
She turned at first towards the throne, but she was motioned aside, and
made to perceive that her place was not there. She drew her slender
figure up with offended dignity.  "I am a queen," she said; "I married
a king of France, and my seat ought to be there."

However, with this protest she passed on to her appointed place,
looking sadly round at the assembled judges and lawyers.

"Alas!" she said, "so many counsellors, and not one for me."

Were there any Englishmen there besides Richard Talbot and his son who
felt the pathos of this appeal?  One defenceless woman against an array
of the legal force of the whole kingdom.  It may be feared that the
feelings of most were as if they had at last secured some wild,
noxious, and incomprehensible animal in their net, on whose struggles
they looked with the unpitying eye of the hunter.

The Lord Chancellor began by declaring that the Queen of England
convened the Court as a duty in one who might not bear the sword in
vain, to examine into the practices against her own life, giving the
Queen of Scots the opportunity of clearing herself.

At the desire of Burghley, the commission was read by the Clerk of the
Court, and Mary then made her public protest against its legality, or
power over her.

It was a wonderful thing, as those spectators in the gallery felt, to
see how brave and how acute was the defence of that solitary lady,
seated there with all those learned men against her; her papers gone,
nothing left to her but her brain and her tongue.  No loss of dignity
nor of gentleness was shown in her replies; they were always simple and
direct.  The difficulty for her was all the greater that she had not
been allowed to know the form of the accusation, before it was hurled
against her in full force by Mr. Serjeant Gawdy, who detailed the whole
of the conspiracy of Ballard and Babington in all its branches, and
declared her to have known and approved of it, and to have suggested
the manner of executing it.

Breathlessly did Cicely listen as the Queen rose up.  Humfrey watched
her almost more closely than the royal prisoner.  When there was a
denial of all knowledge or intercourse with Ballard or Babington, Jean
Kennedy's hard-lined face never faltered; but Cicely's brows came
together in concern at the mention of the last name, and did not clear
as the Queen explained that though many Catholics might indeed write to
her with offers of service, she could have no knowledge of anything
they might attempt.  To confute this, extracts from their confessions
were read, and likewise that letter of Babington's which he had written
to her detailing his plans, and that lengthy answer, brought by the
blue-coated serving-man, in which the mode of carrying her off from
Chartley was suggested, and which had the postscript desiring to know
the names of the six who were to remove the usurping competitor.

The Queen denied this letter flatly, declaring that it might have been
written with her alphabet of ciphers, but was certainly none of hers.
"There may have been designs against the Queen and for procuring my
liberty," she said, "but I, shut up in close prison, was not aware of
them, and how can I be made to answer for them?  Only lately did I
receive a letter asking my pardon if schemes were made on my behalf
without my privity, nor can anything be easier than to counterfeit a
cipher, as was lately proved by a young man in France. Verily, I
greatly fear that if these same letters were traced to their deviser,
it would prove to be the one who is sitting here. Think you," she
added, turning to Walsingham, "think you, Mr. Secretary, that I am
ignorant of your devices used so craftily against me?  Your spies
surrounded me on every side, but you know not, perhaps, that some of
your spies have been false and brought intelligence to me.  And if such
have been his dealings, my Lords," she said, appealing to the judges
and peers, "how can I be assured that he hath not counterfeited my
ciphers to bring me to my death? Hath he not already practised against
my life and that of my son?"

Walsingham rose in his place, and lifting up his hands and eyes
declared, "I call God to record that as a private person I have done
nothing unbeseeming an honest man, nor as a public person have I done
anything to dishonour my place."

Somewhat ironically Mary admitted this disavowal, and after some
unimportant discussion, the Court adjourned until the next day, it
being already late, according to the early habits of the time.

Cicely had been entirely carried along by her mother's pleading. Tears
had started as Queen Mary wept her indignant tears, and a glow had
risen in her cheeks at the accusation of Walsingham.  Ever and anon she
looked to Humfrey's face for sympathy, but he sat gravely listening,
his two hands clasped over the hilt of his sword, and his chin resting
on them, as if to prevent a muscle of his face from moving.  When they
rose up to leave the galleries, and there was the power to say a word,
she turned to him earnestly.

"A piteous sight," he said, "and a right gallant defence."

He did not mean it, but the words struck like lead on Cicely's heart,
for they did not amount to an acquittal before the tribunal of his
secret conviction, any more than did Walsingham's disavowal, for who
could tell what Mr. Secretary's conscience did think unbecoming to his

Cicely found her mother on her couch giving a free course to her tears,
in the reaction after the strain and effort of her defence. Melville
and the Maries were assuring her that she had most bravely confuted her
enemies, and that she had only to hold on with equal courage to the
end.  Mrs. Kennedy and Dr. Bourgoin came in to join in the same
encouragements, and the commendation evidently soothed her. "However it
may end," she said, "Mary of Scotland shall not go down to future ages
as a craven spirit.  But let us not discuss it further, my dear
friends, my head aches, and I can bear no farther word at present."

Dr. Bourgoin made her take some food and then lie down to rest, while
in an outer room a lute was played and a low soft song was sung.  She
had not slept all the previous night, but she fell asleep, holding the
hand of Cicely, who was on a cushion by her side.  The girl, having
been likewise much disturbed, slept too, and only gradually awoke as
her mother was sitting up on her couch discussing the next day's
defence with Melville and Bourgoin.

"I fear me, madam, there is no holding to the profession of entire
ignorance," said Melville.

"They have no letters from Babington to me to show," said the Queen. "I
took care of _that_ by the help of this good bairn.  I can defy them to
produce the originals out of all my ransacked cabinets."

"They have the copies both of them and of your Majesty's replies, and
Nan and Curll to verify them."

"What are copies worth, or what are dead and tortured men's confessions
worth?" said Mary.

"Were your Majesty a private person they would never be accepted as
evidence," said Melville; "but--"

"But because I am a Queen and a Catholic there is no justice for me,"
said Mary.  "Well, what is the defence you would have me confine myself
to, my sole privy counsellors?"

Here Cis, to show she was awake, pressed her mother's hand and looked
up in her face, but Mary, though returning the glance and the pressure,
did not send her away, while Melville recommended strongly that the
Queen should continue to insist on the imperfection of the evidence
adduced against her, which he said might so touch some of the lawyers,
or the nobles, that Burghley and Walsingham might be afraid to proceed.
If this failed her, she must allow her knowledge of the plot for her
own escape and the Spanish invasion, but strenuously deny the part
which concerned Elizabeth's life.

"That it is which they above all desire to fix on me," said the Queen.

Cicely's brain was in confusion.  Surely she had heard those letters
read in the hall.  Were they false or genuine?  The Queen had utterly
denied them there.  Now she seemed to think the only point was to prove
that these were not the originals.  Dr. Bourgoin seemed to feel the
same difficulty.

"Madame will pardon me," he said; "I have not been of her secret
councils, but can she not, if rightly dealt with, prove those two
letters that were read to have been forged by her enemies?"

"What I could do is this, my good Bourgoin," said Mary; "were I only
confronted with Nau and Curll, I could prove that the letter I received
from Babington bore nothing about the destroying the usurping
competitor.  The poor faithful lad was a fool, but not so great a fool
as to tell me such things.  And, on the other hand, hath either of you,
my friends, ever seen in me such symptoms of midsummer madness as that
I should be asking the names of the six who were to do the deed?  What
cared I for their names?  I--who only wished to know as little of the
matter as possible!"

"Can your Majesty prove that you knew nothing?" asked Melville.

Mary paused.  "They cannot prove by fair means that I knew anything,"
said she, "for I did not.  Of course I was aware that Elizabeth must be
taken out of the way, or the heretics would be rallying round her; but
there is no lack of folk who delight in work of that sort, and why
should I meddle with the knowledge?  With the Prince of Parma in
London, she, if she hath the high courage she boasteth of, would soon
cause the Spanish pikes to use small ceremony with her!  Why should I
concern myself about poor Antony and his five gentlemen?  But it is the
same as it was twenty years ago.  What I know will have to be, and yet
choose not to hear of, is made the head and front of mine offending,
that the real actors may go free!  And because I have writ naught that
they can bring against me, they take my letters and add to and garble
them, till none knows where to have them.  Would that we were in
France!  There it was a good sword-cut or pistol-shot at once, and one
took one's chance of a return, without all this hypocrisy of law and
justice to weary one out and make men double traitors."

"Methought Walsingham winced when your Majesty went to the point with
him," said Bourgoin.

"And you put up with his explanation?" said Melville.

"Truly I longed to demand of what practices Mr. Secretary in his
office,--not as a private person--would be ashamed; but it seemed to me
that they might call it womanish spite, and to that the Queen of Scots
will never descend!"

"Pity but that we had Babington's letter!  Then might we put him to
confusion by proving the additions," said Melville.

"It is not possible, my good friend.  The letter is at the bottom of
the Castle well; is it not, mignonne?  Mourn for it not, Andrew.  It
would have been of little avail, and it carried with it stuff that Mr.
Secretary would give almost his precious place to possess, and that
might be fatal to more of us.  I hoped that there might have been
safety for poor Babington in the destruction of that packet, never
guessing at the villainy of yon Burton brewer, nor of those who set him
on.  Come, it serves not to fret ourselves any more.  I must answer as
occasion serves me; speaking not so much to Elizabeth's Commission, who
have foredoomed me, as to all Christendom, and to the Scots and English
of all ages, who will be my judges."

Her judges?  Ay! but how?  With the same enthusiastic pity and
indignation, mixed with the same misgiving as her own daughter felt.
Not wholly innocent, not wholly guilty, yet far less guilty than those
who had laid their own crimes on her in Scotland, or who plotted to
involve her in meshes partly woven by herself in England. The evil done
to her was frightful, but it would have been powerless had she been
wholly blameless.  Alas! is it not so with all of us?

The second day's trial came on.  Mary Seaton was so overpowered with
the strain she had gone through that the Queen would not take her into
the hall, but let Cicely sit at her feet instead.  On this day none of
the Crown lawyers took part in the proceedings; for, as Cavendish
whispered to Humfrey, there had been high words between them and my
Lord Treasurer and Mr. Secretary; and they had declared themselves
incapable of conducting a prosecution so inconsistent with the forms of
law to which they were accustomed.  The pedantic fellows wanted more
direct evidence, he said, and Humfrey honoured them.

Lord Burghley then conducted the proceedings, and they had thus a more
personal character.  The Queen, however, acted on Melville's advice,
and no longer denied all knowledge of the conspiracy, but insisted that
she was ignorant of the proposed murder of Elizabeth, and argued most
pertinently that a copy of a deciphered cipher, without the original,
was no proof at all, desiring further that Nau and Curll should be
examined in her presence.  She reminded the Commissioners how their
Queen herself had been called in question for Wyatt's rebellion, in
spite of her innocence.  "Heaven is my witness," she added, "that much
as I desire the safety and glory of the Catholic religion, I would not
purchase it at the price of blood. I would rather play Esther than

Her defence was completed by her taking off the ring which Elizabeth
had sent to her at Lochleven.  "This," she said, holding it up, "your
Queen sent to me in token of amity and protection.  You best know how
that pledge has been redeemed."  Therewith she claimed another day's
hearing, with an advocate granted to her, or else that, being a
Princess, she might be believed on the word of a Princess.

This completed her defence, except so far that when Burghley responded
in a speech of great length, she interrupted, and battled point by
point, always keeping in view the strong point of the insufficient
evidence and her own deprivation of the chances of confuting what was
adduced against her.

It was late in the afternoon when he concluded.  There was a pause, as
though for a verdict by the Commissioners.  Instead of this, Mary rose
and repeated her appeal to be tried before the Parliament of England at
Westminster.  No reply was made, and the Court broke up.



"Mother, dear mother, do but listen to me."

"I must listen, child, when thou callest me so from your heart; but it
is of no use, my poor little one.  They have referred the matter to the
Star Chamber, that they may settle it there with closed doors and no
forms of law.  Thou couldst do nothing!  And could I trust thee to go
wandering to London, like a maiden in a ballad, all alone?"

"Nay, madam, I should not go alone.  My father, I mean Mr. Talbot,
would take me."

"Come, bairnie, that is presuming overmuch on the good man's kindness."

"I do not speak without warrant, madam.  I told him what I longed to
do, and he said it might be my duty, and if it were so, he would not
gainsay me; but that he could not let me go alone, and would go with
me.  And he can get access for me to the Queen.  He has seen her
himself, and so has Humfrey; and Diccon is a gentleman pensioner."

"There have been ventures enough for me already," said Mary.  "I will
bring no more faithful heads into peril."

"Then will you not consent, mother?  He will quit the castle to-morrow,
and I am to see him in the morning and give him an answer. If you would
let me go, he would crave license to take me home, saying that I look
paler than my wont."

"And so thou dost, child.  If I could be sure of ever seeing thee
again, I should have proposed thy going home to good Mistress Susan's
tendance for a little space.  But it is not to be thought of.  I could
not risk thee, or any honest loving heart, on so desperate a stake as
mine!  I love thee, mine ain, true, leal lassie, all the more, and I
honour him; but it may not be!  Ask me no more."

Mary was here interrupted by a request from Sir Christopher Hatton for
one of the many harassing interviews that beset her during the days
following the trial, when judgment was withheld, according to the
express command of the vacillating Elizabeth, and the case remitted to
the Star Chamber.  Lord Burghley considered this hesitation to be the
effect of judicial blindness--so utterly had hatred and fear of the
future shut his eyes to all sense of justice and fair play.

Cicely felt all youth's disappointment in the rejection of its grand
schemes.  But to her surprise at night Mary addressed her again, "My
daughter, did that true-hearted foster-father of thine speak in sooth?"

"He never doth otherwise," returned Cicely.

"For," said her mother, "I have thought of a way of gaining thee access
to the Queen, far less perilous to him, and less likely to fail.  I
will give thee letters to M. De Chateauneuf, the French Ambassador,
whom I have known in old times, with full credentials. It might be well
to have with thee those that I left with Mistress Talbot.  Then he will
gain thee admittance, and work for thee as one sent from France, and
protected by the rights of the Embassy.  Thus, Master Richard need
never appear in the matter at all, and at any rate thou wouldst be
secure.  Chateauneuf would find means of sending thee abroad if

"Oh! I would return to you, madam my mother, or wait for you in London."

"That must be as the wills above decree," said Mary sadly.  "It is
folly in me, but I cannot help grasping at the one hope held out to me.
There is that within me that will hope and strive to the end, though I
am using my one precious jewel to weight the line I am casting across
the gulf.  At least they cannot do thee great harm, my good child."

The Queen sat up half the night writing letters, one to Elizabeth, one
to Chateauneuf, and another to the Duchess of Lorraine, which Cis was
to deliver in case of her being sent over to the Continent.  But the
Queen committed the conduct of the whole affair to M. De Chateauneuf,
since she could completely trust his discretion and regard for her;
and, moreover, it was possible that the face of affairs might undergo
some great alteration before Cicely could reach London.  Mr. Talbot
must necessarily go home first, being bound to do so by his commission
to the Earl.  "And, hark thee," said the Queen, "what becomes of the
young gallant?"

"I have not heard, madam," said Cicely, not liking the tone.

"If my desires still have any effect," said Mary, "he will stay here. I
will not have my damosel errant squired by a youth under

"I promised you, madam, and he wots it," said Cicely, with spirit.

"He wots it, doth he?" said the Queen, in rather a provoking voice.
"No, no, mignonne; with all respect to their honour and discretion, we
do not put flint and steel together, when we do not wish to kindle a
fire.  Nay, little one, I meant not to vex thee, when thou art doing
one of the noblest deeds daughter ever did for mother, and for a mother
who sent thee away from her, and whom thou hast scarce known for more
than two years!"

Cicely was sure to see her foster-father after morning prayers on the
way from the chapel across the inner court.  Here she was able to tell
him of the Queen's consent, over which he looked grave, having secretly
persuaded himself that Mary would think the venture too great, and not
hopeful enough to be made.  He could not, however, wonder that the
unfortunate lady should catch at the least hope of preserving her life;
and she had dragged too many down in the whirlpool to leave room for
wonder that she should consent to peril her own daughter therein.
Moreover, he would have the present pleasure of taking her home with
him to his Susan, and who could say what would happen in the meantime?

"Thou hast counted the cost?" he said.

"Yea, sir," Cis answered, as the young always do; adding, "the Queen
saith that if we commit all to the French Ambassador, M. De
Chateauneuf, who is her very good friend, he will save you from any

"Hm!  I had rather be beholden to no Frenchman," muttered Richard, "but
we will see, we will see.  I must now to Paulett to obtain consent to
take thee with me.  Thou art pale and changed enough indeed to need a
blast of Hallamshire air, my poor maid."

So Master Richard betook him to the knight, a man of many charges, and
made known that finding his daughter somewhat puling and sickly, he
wished having, as she told him, the consent of the Queen of Scots, to
take her home with him for a time.

"You do well, Mr. Talbot," said Sir Amias.  "In sooth, I have only
marvelled that a pious and godly man like you should have consented to
let her abide so long, at her tender age, among these papistical,
idolatrous, and bloodthirsty women."

"I think not that she hath taken harm," said Richard.

"I have done my poor best; I have removed the priest of Baal," said the
knight; "I have caused godly ministers constantly to preach sound
doctrine in the ears of all who would hearken; and I have uplifted my
testimony whensoever it was possible.  But it is not well to expose the
young to touching the accursed thing, and this lady hath shown herself
greatly affected to your daughter, so that she might easily be seduced
from the truth.  Yet, sir, bethink you is it well to remove the maiden
from witnessing that which will be a warning for ever of the judgment
that falleth on conspiracy and idolatry?"

"You deem the matter so certain?" said Richard.

"Beyond a doubt, sir.  This lady will never leave these walls alive.
There can be no peace for England nor safety for our blessed and
gracious Queen while she lives.  Her guilt is certain; and as Mr.
Secretary said to me last night, he and the Lord Treasurer are
determined that for no legal quibbles, nor scruples of mercy from our
ever-pitiful Queen, shall she now escape.  Her Majesty, however her
womanish heart may doubt now, will rejoice when the deed is done.
Methinks I showed you the letter she did me the honour to write,
thanking me for the part I took in conveying the lady suddenly to

Richard had already read that letter three times, so he avowed his
knowledge of it.

"You will not remove your son likewise?" added Sir Amias.  "He hath an
acquaintance with this lady's people, which is useful in one so
thoroughly to be trusted; and moreover, he will not be tampered with.
For, sir, I am never without dread of some attempt being made to deal
with this lady privily, in which case I should be the one to bear all
the blame.  Wherefore I have made request to have another honourable
gentleman joined with me in this painful wardship."

Richard had no desire to remove his son.  He shared Queen Mary's
feelings on the inexpediency of Humfrey forming part of the escort of
the young lady, and thought it was better for both to see as little of
one another as possible.

Sir Amias accordingly, on his morning visit of inspection, intimated to
the Queen that Mr. Talbot wished his daughter to return home with him
for the recovery of her health.  He spoke as if the whole suite were at
his own disposal, and Mary resented it in her dignified manner.

"The young lady hath already requested license from us," she said, "and
we have granted it.  She will return when her health is fully restored."

Sir Amias had forbearance enough not to hint that unless the return
were speedy, she would scarcely find the Queen there, and the matter
was settled.  Master Richard would not depart until after dinner, when
other gentlemen were going, and this would enable Cicely to make up her
mails, and there would still be time to ride a stage before dark.  Her
own horse was in the stables, and her goods would be bestowed in cloak
bags on the saddles of the grooms who had accompanied Mr. Talbot; for,
small as was the estate of Bridgefield, for safety's sake he could not
have gone on so long an expedition without a sufficient guard.

The intervening time was spent by the Queen in instructing her daughter
how to act in various contingencies.  If it were possible to the French
Ambassador to present her as freshly come from the Soissons convent,
where she was to have been reared, it would save Mr. Talbot from all
risk; but the Queen doubted whether she could support the character, so
English was her air, though there were Scottish and English nuns at
Soissons, and still more at Louvaine and Douay, who _might_ have
brought her up.

"I cannot feign, madam," said Cicely, alarmed.  "Oh, I hope I need only
speak truth!" and her tone sounded much more like a confession of
incapacity than a moral objection, and so it was received: "Poor child,
I know thou canst not act a part, and thy return to the honest mastiffs
will not further thee in it; but I have bidden Chateauneuf to do what
he can for thee--and after all the eyes will not be very critical."

If there still was time, Cicely was to endeavour first of all to obtain
of Elizabeth that Mary might be brought to London to see her, and be
judged before Parliament with full means of defence.  If this were no
longer possible, Cicely might attempt to expose Walsingham's
contrivance; but this would probably be too dangerous.  Chateauneuf
must judge.  Or, as another alternative, Queen Mary gave Cicely the
ring already shown at the trial, and with that as her pledge, a solemn
offer was to be made on her behalf to retire into a convent in Austria,
or in one of the Roman Catholic cantons of Switzerland, out of the
reach of Spain and France, and there take the veil, resigning all her
rights to her son.  All her money had been taken away, but she told
Cicely she had given orders to Chateauneuf to supply from her French
dowry all that might be needed for the expenses that must be incurred.

Now that the matter was becoming so real, Cicely's heart quailed a
little.  Castles in the air that look heroic at the first glance would
not so remain did not they show themselves terrible at a nearer
approach, and the maiden wondered, whether Queen Elizabeth would be
much more formidable than my Lady Countess in a rage!

And what would become of herself?  Would she be detained in the bondage
in which the poor sisters of the Grey blood had been kept? Or would her
mother carry her off to these strange lands?....  It was all strange,
and the very boldness of her offer, since it had been thus accepted,
made her feel helpless and passive in the grasp of the powers that her
simple wish had set moving.

The letters were sewn up in the most ingenious manner in her dress by
Mary Seaton, in case any search should be made; but the only woman Sir
Amias would be able to employ in such a matter was purblind and
helpless, and they trusted much to his implicit faith in the Talbots.

There was only just time to complete her preparations before she was
summoned; and with an almost convulsive embrace from her mother, and
whispered benedictions from Jean Kennedy, she left the dreary walls of

Humfrey rode with them through the Chase.  Both he and Cicely were very
silent.  When the time came for parting, Cicely said, as she laid her
hand in his, "Dear brother, for my sake do all thou canst for her with

"That will I," said Humfrey.  "Would that I were going with thee,

"So would not I," she returned; "for then there would be one true heart
the less to watch over her."

"Come, daughter!" said Richard, who had engaged one of the gentlemen in
conversation so as to leave them to themselves.  "We must be jogging.
Fare thee well, my son, till such time as thy duties permit thee to
follow us."



"And have you brought her back again!  O my lass! my lass!" cried
Mistress Susan, surprised and delighted out of her usual staid
composure, as, going out to greet her husband, an unexpected figure was
seen by his side, and Cicely sprang into her arms as if they were truly
a haven of rest.

Susan looked over her head, even in the midst of the embrace, with the
eyes of one hungering for her first-born son, but her husband shook his
head.  "No, mother, we have not brought thee the boy.  Thou must
content thyself with her thou hast here for a little space."

"I hope it bodes not ill," said Susan.

"It bodes," said Richard, "that I have brought thee back a good
daughter with a pair of pale cheeks, which must be speedily coloured
anew in our northern breezes."

"Ah, how sweet to be here at home," cried Cicely, turning round in
rapturous greeting to all the serving men and women, and all the dogs.
"We want only the boys!  Where is Ned?"

Their arrival having been unannounced, Ned was with Master Sniggius,
whose foremost scholar he now was, and who kept him much later than the
other lads to prepare him for Cambridge; but it was the return to this
tender foster-mother that seemed such extreme bliss to Cicely. All was
most unlike her reluctant return two years previously, when nothing but
her inbred courtesy and natural sweetness of disposition had prevented
her from being contemptuous of the country home.  Now every stone,
every leaf, seemed precious to her, and she showed herself, even as she
ascended the steps to the hall, determined not to be the guest but the
daughter.  There was a little movement on the parents' part, as if they
bore in mind that she came as a princess; but she flew to draw up
Master Richard's chair, and put his wife's beside it, nor would she
sit, till they had prayed her to do so; and it was all done with such a
graceful bearing, the noble carriage of her head had become so much
more remarkable, and a sweet readiness and responsiveness of manner had
so grown upon her, that Susan looked at her in wondering admiration, as
something more her own and yet less her own than ever, tracing in her
for the first time some of the charms of the Queen of Scots.

All the household hovered about in delight, and confidences could not
be exchanged just then: the travellers had to eat and drink, and they
were only just beginning to do so when Ned came home.  He was of
slighter make than his brothers, and had a more scholarly aspect: but
his voice made itself heard before him.  "Is it true?  Is it true that
my father is come?  And our Cis too?  Ha!" and he rushed in, hardly
giving himself time for the respectful greeting to his father, before
he fell upon Cis with undoubting brotherly delight.

"Is Humfrey come?" he asked as soon as he could take breath.  "No?  I
thought 'twas too good to be all true."

"How did you hear?"

"Hob the hunter brought up word that the Queen's head was off. What?"
as Cicely gave a start and little scream.  "Is it not so?"

"No, indeed, boy," said his father.  "What put that folly into his

"Because he saw, or thought he saw, Humfrey and Cis riding home with
you, sir, and so thought all was over with the Queen of Scots.  My
Lady, they say, had one of her shrieking fits, and my Lord sent down to
ask whether I knew aught; and when he found that I did not, would have
me go home at once to bid you come up immediately to the Manor; and
before I had gotten out Dapple, there comes another message to say
that, in as brief space as it will take to saddle them, there will be
beasts here to bring up you and my mother and Cis, to tell my Lady
Countess all that has befallen."

Cis's countenance so changed that kind Susan said, "I will make thine
excuses to my Lady.  Thou art weary and ill at ease, and I cannot have
thee set forth at once again."

"The Queen would never have sent such sudden and hasty orders," said
Cicely.  "Mother, can you not stay with me?--I have so much to say to
you, and my time is short."

The Talbots were, however, too much accustomed to obedience to the
peremptory commands of their feudal chiefs to venture on such
disobedience.  Susan's proposal had been a great piece of audacity, on
which she would hardly have ventured but for her consciousness that the
maiden was no Talbot at all.

Yet to Cis the dear company of her mother Susan, even in the Countess's
society, seemed too precious to be resigned, and she had likewise been
told that Lady Shrewsbury's mind had greatly changed towards Mary, and
that since the irritation of the captive's presence had been removed,
she remembered only the happier and kindlier portion of their past
intercourse.  There had been plenty of quarrels with her husband, but
none so desperate as before, and at this present time the Earl and
Countess were united against the surviving sons, who, with Gilbert at
their head, were making large demands on them.  Cicely felt grateful to
the Earl for his absence from Fotheringhay, and, though disappointed of
her peaceful home evening, declared she would come up to the Lodge
rather than lose sight of "mother."  The stable people, more
considerate than their Lord and Lady, proved to have sent a horse
litter for the conveyance of the ladies called out on the wet dark
October evening, and here it was that Cis could enjoy her first
precious moment of privacy with one for whom she had so long yearned.
Susan rejoiced in the heavy lumbering conveyance as a luxury, sparing
the maiden's fatigue, and she was commencing some inquiries into the
indisposition which had procured this holiday, when Cicely broke in, "O
mother, nothing aileth me.  It is not for that cause--but oh! mother, I
am to go to see Queen Elizabeth, and strive with her for her--for my
mother's life and freedom."

"Thou! poor little maid.  Doth thy father--what am I saying?  Doth my
husband know?"

"Oh yes.  He will take me.  He saith it is my duty."

"Then it must be well," said Susan in an altered voice on hearing this.
"From whom came the proposal?"

"I made it," said Cicely in a low, feeble voice on the verge of tears.
"Oh, dear mother, thou wilt not tell any one how faint of heart I am?
I did mean it in sooth, but I never guessed how dreadful it would grow
now I am pledged to it."

"Thou art pledged, then, and canst not falter?"

"Never," said Cicely; "I would not that any should know it, not even my
father; but mother, mother, I could not help telling you.  You will let
no one guess?  I know it is unworthy, but--"

"Not unworthy to fear, my poor child, so long as thou dost not waver."

"It is, it is unworthy of my lineage.  My mother queen would say so,"
cried Cis, drawing herself up.

"Giving way would be unworthy," said Susan, "but turn thou to thy God,
my child, and He will give thee strength to carry through whatever is
the duty of a faithful daughter towards this poor lady; and my husband,
thou sayest, holds that so it is?"

"Yea, madam; he craved license to take me home, since I have truly
often been ailing since those dreadful days at Tixall, and he hath
promised to go to London with me."

"And is this to be done in thine own true name?" asked Susan, trembling
somewhat at the risk to her husband, as well as to the maiden.

"I trow that it is," said Cis, "but the matter is to be put into the
hands of M. de Chateauneuf, the French Ambassador.  I have a letter
here," laying her hand on her bosom, "which, the Queen declares, will
thoroughly prove to him who I am, and if I go as under his protection,
none can do my father any harm."

Susan hoped so, but she trusted to understand all better from her
husband, though her heart failed her as much as, or even perhaps more
than, did that of poor little Cis.  Master Richard had sped on before
their tardy conveyance, and had had time to give the heads of his
intelligence before they reached the Manor house, and when they were
conducted to my Lady's chamber, they saw him, by the light of a large
fire, standing before the Earl and Countess, cap in hand, much as a
groom or gamekeeper would now stand before his master and mistress.

The Earl, however, rose to receive the ladies; but the Countess, no
great observer of ceremony towards other people, whatever she might
exact from them towards herself, cried out, "Come hither, come hither,
Cicely Talbot, and tell me how it fares with the poor lady," and as the
maiden came forward in the dim light-- "Ha!  What!  Is't she?" she
cried, with a sudden start.  "On my faith, what has she done to thee?
Thou art as like her as the foal to the mare."

This exclamation disconcerted the visitors, but luckily for them the
Earl laughed and declared that he could see no resemblance in Mistress
Cicely's dark brows to the arched ones of the Queen of Scots, to which
his wife replied testily, "Who said there was?  The maid need not be
uplifted, for there's nothing alike between them, only she hath caught
the trick of her bearing so as to startle me in the dark, my head
running on the poor lady.  I could have sworn 'twas she coming in, as
she was when she first came to our care fifteen years agone.  Pray
Heaven she may not haunt the place!  How fareth she in health, wench?"

"Well, madam, save when the rheumatic pains take her," said Cicely.

"And still of good courage?"

"That, madam, nothing can daunt."

Seats, though only joint stools, were given to the ladies, but Susan
found herself no longer trembling at the effects of the Countess's
insolence upon Cicely, who seemed to accept it all as a matter of
course, and almost of indifference, though replying readily and with a
gentle grace, most unlike her childish petulance.

Many close inquiries from the Earl and Countess were answered by
Richard and the young lady, until they had a tolerably clear idea of
the situation.  The Countess wept bitterly, and to Cicely's great
amazement began bemoaning herself that she was not still the poor
lady's keeper.  It was a shame to put her where there were no women to
feel for her.  Lady Shrewsbury had apparently forgotten that no one had
been so virulent against the Queen as herself.

And when it was impossible to deny that things looked extremely ill,
and that Burghley and Walsingham seemed resolved not to let slip this
opportunity of ridding themselves of the prisoner, my Lady burst out
with, "Ah! there it is!  She will die, and my promise is broken, and
she will haunt me to my dying day, all along of that venomous toad and
spiteful viper, Mary Talbot."

A passionate fit of weeping succeeded, mingled with vituperations of
her daughter Mary, far more than of herself, and amid it all, during
Susan's endeavours at soothing, Cicely gathered that the cause of the
Countess's despair was that in the time of her friendship and amity,
she had uttered an assurance that the Queen need not fear death, as she
would contrive means of safety.  And on her own ground, in her own
Castle or Lodge, there could be little doubt that she would have been
able to have done so.  The Earl, indeed, shook his head, but repented,
for she laughed at him half angrily, half hysterically, for thinking he
could have prevented anything that she was set upon.

And now she said and fully believed that the misunderstanding which had
resulted in the removal of the prisoner had been entirely due to the
slanders and deceits of her own daughter Mary, and her husband Gilbert,
with whom she was at this time on the worst of terms.  And thus she
laid on them the blame of the Queen's death (if that was really
decreed), but though she outwardly blamed every creature save herself,
such agony of mind, and even terror, proved that in very truth there
must have been the conviction at the bottom of her heart that it was
her own fault.

The Earl had beckoned away Master Richard, both glad to escape; but
Cicely had to remain, and filled with compassion for one whom she had
always regarded previously as an enemy, she could not help saying,
"Dear madam, take comfort; I am going to bear a petition to the Queen's
Majesty from the captive lady, and if she will hear me all will yet be

"How!  What?  How!  Thou little moppet!  Knows she what she says, Susan

Susan made answer that she had had time to hear no particulars yet, but
that Cicely averred that she was going with her father's consent,
whereupon Richard was immediately summoned back to explain.

The Earl and Countess could hardly believe that he should have
consented that his daughter should be thus employed, and he had to
excuse himself with what he could not help feeling were only half

"The poor lady," he said, "is denied all power of sending word or
letter to the Queen save through those whom she views as her enemies,
and therefore she longed earnestly either to see her Majesty, or to
hold communication with her through one whom she knoweth to be both
simple and her own friend."

"Yea," said the Countess, "I could well have done this for her could I
but have had speech with her.  Or she might have sent Bess Pierrepoint,
who surely would have been a more fitting messenger."

"Save that she hath not had access to the Queen of Scots of late," said

"Yea, and her father would scarcely be willing to risk the Queen's
displeasure," said the Earl.

"Art thou ready to abide it, Master Richard?" said the Countess,
"though after all it could do you little harm."  And her tone marked
the infinite distance she placed between him and Sir Henry Pierrepoint,
the husband of her daughter.

"That is true, madam," said Richard, "and moreover, I cannot reconcile
it to my conscience to debar the poor lady from any possible opening of

"Thou art a good man, Richard," said the Earl, and therewith both he
and the Countess became extremely, nay, almost inconveniently, desirous
to forward the petitioner on her way.  To listen to them that night,
they would have had her go as an emissary of the house of Shrewsbury,
and only the previous quarrel with Lord Talbot and his wife prevented
them from proposing that she should be led to the foot of the throne by
Gilbert himself.

Cicely began to be somewhat alarmed at plans that would disconcert all
the instructions she had received, and only her old habits of respect
kept her silent when she thought Master Richard not ready enough to
refuse all these offers.

At last he succeeded in obtaining license to depart, and no sooner was
Cicely again shut up with Mistress Susan in the litter than she
exclaimed, "Now will it be most hard to carry out the Queen's orders
that I should go first to the French Ambassador.  I would that my Lady
Countess would not think naught can succeed without her meddling."

"Thou shouldst have let father tell thy purpose in his own way," said

"Ah! mother, I am an indiscreet simpleton, not fit for such a work as I
have taken in hand," said poor Cis.  "Here hath my foolish tongue
traversed it already!"

"Fear not," said Susan, as one who well knew the nature of her
kinswoman; "belike she will have cooled to-morrow, all the more because
father said naught to the nayward."

Susan was uneasy enough herself, and very desirous to hear all from her
husband in private.  And that night he told her that he had very little
hope of the intercession being availing.  He believed that the
Treasurer and Secretary were absolutely determined on Mary's death, and
would sooner or later force consent from the Queen; but there was the
possibility that Elizabeth's feelings might be so far stirred that on a
sudden impulse she might set Mary at liberty, and place her beyond
their reach.

"And hap what may," he said, "when a daughter offereth to do her utmost
for a mother in peril of death, what right have I to hinder her?"

"May God guard the duteous!" said Susan.  "But oh! husband, is she
worthy, for whom the child is thus to lead you into peril?"

"She is her mother," repeated Richard.  "Had I erred--"

"Which you never could do," broke in the wife.

"I am a sinful man," said he.

"Yea, but there are deeds you never could have done."

"By God's grace I trust not; but hear me out, wife.  Mine errors, nay,
my crimes, would not do away with the duty owed to me by my sons.  How,
then, should any sins of this poor Queen withhold her daughter from
rendering her all the succour in her power?  And thou, thou thyself,
Susan, hast taken her for thine own too long to endure to let her
undertake the matter alone and unaided."

"She would not attempt it thus," said Susan.

"I cannot tell; but I should thus be guilty of foiling her in a brave
and filial purpose."

"And yet thou dost hold her poor mother a guilty woman?"

"Said I so?  Nay, Susan, I am as dubious as ever I was on that head."

"After hearing the trial?"

"A word in thine ear, my discreet wife.  The trial convinced me far
more that place makes honest men act like cruel knaves than of aught

"Then thou holdest her innocent?"

"I said not so.  I have known too long how she lives by the weaving of
webs.  I know not how it is, but these great folks seem not to deem
that truth in word and deed is a part of their religion.  For my part,
I should distrust whatever godliness did not lead to truth, but a plain
man never knows where to have them.  That she and poor Antony Babington
were in league to bring hither the Spaniards and restore the Pope, I
have no manner of doubt on the word of both, but then they deem
it--Heaven help them--a virtuous act; and it might be lawful in her,
seeing that she has always called herself a free sovereign unjustly
detained.  What he stuck at and she denies, is the purpose of murdering
the Queen's Majesty."

"Sure that was the head and front of the poor young man's offending."

"So it was, but not until he had been urged thereto by his priests, and
had obtained her consent in a letter.  Heaven forgive me if I misjudge
any one, but my belief is this--that the letters, whereof only the
deciphered copies were shown, did not quit the hands of either the one
or the other, such as we heard them at Fotheringhay. So poor Babington
said, so saith the Queen of Scots, demanding vehemently to have them
read in her presence before Nau and Curll, who could testify to them.
Cis deemeth that the true letter from Babington is in a packet which,
on learning from Humfrey his suspicion that there was treachery, the
Queen gave her, and she threw down a well at Chartley."

"That was pity."

"Say not so, for had the original letter been seized, it would only
have been treated in the same manner as the copy, and never allowed to
reach Queen Elizabeth."

"I am glad poor Cicely's mother can stand clear of that guilt," said
Susan.  "I served her too long, and received too much gentle treatment
from her, to brook the thought that she could be so far left to

"Mind you, dame," said Richard, "I am not wholly convinced that she was
not aware that her friends would in some way or other bring about the
Queen's death, and that she would scarce have visited it very harshly,
but she is far too wise--ay, and too tender-hearted, to have entered
into the matter beforehand.  So I think her not wholly guiltless,
though the wrongs she hath suffered have been so great that I would do
whatever was not disloyal to mine own Queen to aid her to obtain

"You are doing much, much indeed," said Susan; "and all this time you
have told me nothing of my son, save what all might hear.  How fares
he? is his heart still set on this poor maid?"

"And ever will be," said his father.  "His is not an outspoken babbling
love like poor Master Nau, who they say was so inspired at finding
himself in the same city with Bess Pierrepoint that he could talk of
nothing else, and seemed to have no thought of his own danger or his
Queen's.  No, but he hath told me that he will give up all to serve
her, without hope of requital; for her mother hath made her forswear
him, and though she be not always on his tongue, he will do so, if I
mistake not his steadfastness."

Susan sighed, but she knew that the love, that had begun when the
lonely boy hailed the shipwrecked infant as his little sister, was of a
calm, but unquenchable nature, were it for weal or woe.  She could not
but be thankful that the express mandate of both the parents had
withheld her son from sharing the danger which was serious enough even
for her husband's prudence and coolness of head.

By the morning, as she had predicted, the ardour of the Earl and
Countess had considerably slackened; and though still willing to
forward the petitioner on her way, they did not wish their names to
appear in the matter.

They did, however, make an important offer.  The Mastiff was newly come
into harbour at Hull, and they offered Richard the use of her as a
conveyance.  He gladly accepted it.  The saving of expense was a great
object; for he was most unwilling to use Queen Mary's order on the
French Ambassador, and he likewise deemed it possible that such a means
of evasion might be very useful.

The Mastiff was sometimes used by some of the Talbot family on journeys
to London, and had a tolerably commodious cabin, according to the
notions of the time; and though it was late in the year, and poor Cis
was likely to be wretched enough on the voyage, the additional security
was worth having, and Cicely would be under the care of Goatley's wife,
who made all the voyages with her husband. The Earl likewise charged
Richard Talbot with letters and messages of conciliation to his son
Gilbert, whose estrangement was a great grief to him, arising as it did
entirely from the quarrels of the two wives, mother and daughter.  He
even charged his kinsman with the proposal to give up Sheffield to Lord
and Lady Talbot and retire to Wingfield rather than continue at enmity.
Mr. Talbot knew the parties too well to have much hope of prevailing,
or producing permanent peace; but the commission was welcome, as it
would give a satisfactory pretext for his presence in London.

A few days were spent at Bridgefield, Cicely making herself the most
loving, helpful, and charming of daughters, and really basking in the
peaceful atmosphere of Susan's presence; and then,--with many prayers
and blessings from that good lady,--they set forth for Hull, taking
with them two servants besides poor Babington's man Gillingham, whose
superior intelligence and knowledge of London would make him useful,
though there was a dark brooding look about him that made Richard
always dread some act of revenge on his part toward his master's foes.



The afternoon on which they were to enter the old town of
Kingston-upon-Hull closed in with a dense sea-fog, fast turning to
drizzling rain.  They could see but a little distance on either side,
and could not see the lordly old church tower.  The beads of dew on the
fringes of her pony's ears were more visible to Cicely than anything
else, and as she kept along by Master Richard's side, she rejoiced both
in the beaten, well-trodden track, and in the pealing bells which
seemed to guide them into the haven; while Richard was resolving, as he
had done all through the journey, where he could best lodge his
companion so as to be safe, and at the same time free from inconvenient

The wetness of the evening made promptness of decision the more
needful, while the bad weather which his experienced eye foresaw would
make the choice more important.

Discerning through the increasing gloom a lantern moving in the street
which seemed to him to light a substantial cloaked figure, he drew up
and asked if he were in the way to a well-known hostel. Fortune had
favoured him, for a voice demanded in return, "Do I hear the voice of
good Captain Talbot?  At your service."

"Yea, it is I--Richard Talbot.  Is it you, good Master Heatherthwayte?"

"It is verily, sir.  Well do I remember you, good trusty Captain, and
the goodly lady your wife.  Do I see her here?" returned the clergyman,
who had heartily grasped Richard's hand.

"No, sir, this is my daughter, for whose sake I would ask you to direct
me to some lodging for the night."

"Nay, if the young lady will put up with my humble chambers, and my
little daughter for her bedfellow, I would not have so old an
acquaintance go farther."

Richard accepted the offer gladly, and Mr. Heatherthwayte walked close
to the horses, using his lantern to direct them, and sending flashes of
light over the gabled ends of the old houses and the muffled
passengers, till they came to a long flagged passage, when he asked
them to dismount, bidding the servants and horses to await his return,
and giving his hand to conduct the young lady along the narrow slippery
alley, which seemed to have either broken walls or houses on either

He explained to Richard, by the way, that he had married the godly
widow of a ship chandler, but that it had pleased Heaven to take her
from him at the end of five years, leaving him two young children, but
that her ancient nurse had the care of the house and the little ones.

Curates were not sumptuously lodged in those days.  The cells which had
been sufficient for monks commissioned by monasteries were no homes for
men with families; and where means were to be had, a few rooms had been
added without much grace, or old cottages adapted--for indeed the
requirements of the clergy of the day did not soar above those of the
farmer or petty dealer.  Master Heatherthwayte pulled a string
depending from a hole in a door, the place of which he seemed to know
by instinct, and admitted the newcomers into a narrow paved entry,
where he called aloud, "Here, Oil!  Dust!  Goody!  Bring a light!  Here
are guests!"

A door was opened instantly into a large kitchen or keeping room,
bright with a fire and small lamp.  A girl of nine or ten sprang
forward, but hung back at the sight of strangers; a boy of twelve rose
awkwardly from conning his lessons by the low, unglazed lamp; an old
woman showed herself from some kind of pantry.

"Here," said the clergyman, "is my most esteemed friend Captain Talbot
of Bridgefield and his daughter, who will do us the honour of abiding
with us this night.  Do thou, Goody Madge, and thou, Oil-of-Gladness,
make the young lady welcome, and dry her garments, while we go and see
to the beasts.  Thou, Dust-and-Ashes, mayest come with us and lead the
gentleman's horse."

The lad, saddled with this dismal name, and arrayed in garments which
matched it in colour though not in uncleanliness, sprang up with
alacrity, infinitely preferring fog, rain, and darkness to his
accidence, and never guessing that he owed this relaxation to his
father's recollection of Mrs. Talbot's ways, and perception that the
young lady would be better attended to without his presence.

Oil-of-Gladness was a nice little rosy girl in the tightest and
primmest of caps and collars, and with the little housewifely
hospitality that young mistresses of houses early attain to.  There was
no notion of equal terms between the Curate's daughter and the
Squire's: the child brought a chair, and stood respectfully to receive
the hood, cloak, and riding skirt, seeming delighted at the smile and
thanks with which Cicely requited her attentions.  The old woman felt
the inner skirts, to make sure that they were not damp, and then the
little girl brought warm water, and held the bowl while her guest
washed face and hands, and smoothed her hair with the ivory comb which
ladies always carried on a journey.  The sweet power of setting people
at ease was one Cis had inherited and cultivated by imitation, and
Oil-of-Gladness was soon chattering away over her toilette.  Would the
lady really sleep with her in her little bed? She would promise not to
kick if she could help it.  Then she exclaimed, "Oh! what fair thing
was that at the lady's throat?  Was it a jewel of gold?  She had never
seen one; for father said it was not for Christian women to adorn
themselves.  Oh no; she did not mean--" and, confused, she ran off to
help Goody to lay the spotless tablecloth, Cis following to set the
child at peace with herself, and unloose the tongue again into hopes
that the lady liked conger pie; for father had bought a mighty conger
for twopence, and Goody had made a goodly pie of him.

By the time the homely meal was ready Mr. Talbot had returned from
disposing of his horses and servants at a hostel, for whose comparative
respectability Mr. Heatherthwayte had answered.  The clergyman himself
alone sat down to supper with his guests.  He would not hear of letting
either of his children do so; but while Dust-and-Ashes retired to study
his tasks for the Grammar School by firelight, Oil-of-Gladness assisted
Goody in waiting, in a deft and ready manner pleasant to behold.

No sooner did Mr. Talbot mention the name Cicely than Master
Heatherthwayte looked up and said--"Methinks it was I who spake that
name over this young lady in baptism."

"Even so," said Richard.  "She knoweth all, but she hath ever been our
good and dutiful daughter, for which we are the more thankful that
Heaven hath given us none other maid child."

He knew Master Heatherthwayte was inclined to curiosity about other
people's affairs, and therefore turned the discourse on the doings of
his sons, hoping to keep him thus employed and avert all further
conversation upon Cicely and the cause of the journey.  The good man
was most interested in Edward, only he exhorted Mr. Talbot to be
careful with whom he bestowed the stripling at Cambridge, so that he
might shed the pure light of the Gospel, undimmed by Popish obscurities
and idolatries.

He began on his objections to the cross in baptism and the ring in
marriage, and dilated on them to his own satisfaction over the tankard
of ale that was placed for him and his guest, and the apples and nuts
wherewith Cicely was surreptitiously feeding Oil-of-Gladness and
Dust-and-Ashes; while the old woman bustled about, and at length made
her voice heard in the announcement that the chamber was ready, and the
young lady was weary with travel, and it was time she was abed, and Oil

Though not very young children, Oil and Dust, at a sign from their
father, knelt by his chair, and uttered their evening prayers aloud,
after which he blessed and dismissed them--the boy to a shake-down in
his own room, the girl to the ecstasy of assisting the guest to
undress, and admiring the wonders of the very simple toilette apparatus
contained in her little cloak bag.

Richard meantime was responding as best he could to the inquiries he
knew would be inevitable as soon as he fell in with the Reverend Master
Heatherthwayte.  He was going to London in the Mastiff on some business
connected with the Queen of Scots, he said.

Whereupon Mr. Heatherthwayte quoted something from the Psalms about the
wicked being taken in their own pits, and devoutly hoped she would not
escape this time.  His uncharitableness might be excused by the fact
that he viewed it as an immediate possibility that the Prince of Parma
might any day enter the Humber, when he would assuredly be burnt alive,
and Oil-of-Gladness exposed to the fate of the children of Haarlem.

Then he added, "I grieved to hear that you and your household were so
much exposed to the witchcrafts of that same woman, sir."

"I hope she hath done them little hurt," said Richard.

"Is it true," he added, "that the woman hath laid claim to the young
lady now here as a kinswoman?"

"It is true," said Richard, "but how hath it come to your knowledge, my
good friend?  I deemed it known to none out of our house; not even the
Earl and Countess guess that she is no child of ours."

"Nay, Mr. Talbot, is it well to go on in a deceit?"

"Call it rather a concealment," said Richard.  "We have doubted it
since, but when we began, it was merely that there was none to whom it
seemed needful to explain that the babe was not the little daughter we
buried here.  But how did you learn it?  It imports to know."

"Sir, do you remember your old servant Colet, Gervas's wife?  It will
be three years next Whitsuntide that hearing a great outcry as of a
woman maltreated as I passed in the street, I made my way into the
house and found Gervas verily beating his wife with a broomstick. After
I had rebuked him and caused him to desist, I asked him the cause, and
he declared it to be that his wife had been gadding to a stinking
Papist fellow, who would be sure to do a mischief to his noble captain,
Mr. Talbot.  Thereupon Colet declares that she had done no harm, the
gentleman wist all before.  She knew him again for the captain's
kinsman who was in the house the day that the captain brought home the

"Cuthbert Langston!"

"Even so, sir.  It seems that he had been with this woman, and
questioned her closely on all she remembered of the child, learning
from her what I never knew before, that there were marks branded on her
shoulders and a letter sewn in her clothes.  Was it so, sir?"

"Ay, but my wife and I thought that even Colet had never seen them."

"Nothing can escape a woman, sir.  This man drew all from her by
assuring her that the maiden belonged to some great folk, and was even
akin to the King and Queen of Scots, and that she might have some great
reward if she told her story to them.  She even sold him some three or
four gold and ivory beads which she says she found when sweeping out
the room where the child was first undressed."

"Hath she ever heard more of the fellow?"

"Nay, but Gervas since told me that he had met some of my Lord's men
who told him that your daughter was one of the Queen of Scots' ladies,
and said he, 'I held my peace; but methought, It hath come of the
talebearing of that fellow to whom my wife prated.'"

"Gervas guessed right," said Richard. "That Langston did contrive to
make known to the Queen of Scots such tokens as led to her owning the
maiden as of near kin to her by the mother's side, and to her husband
on the father's; but for many reasons she entreated us to allow the
damsel still to bear our name, and be treated as our child."

"I doubt me whether it were well done of you, sir," said Mr.

"Of that," said Richard, drawing up into himself, "no man can judge for

"She hath been with that woman; she will have imbibed her Popish
vanities!" exclaimed the poor clergyman, almost ready to start up and
separate Oil-of-Gladness at once from the contamination.

"You may be easy on that score," said Richard drily.  "Her faith is
what my good wife taught her, and she hath constantly attended the
preachings of the chaplains of Sir Amias Paulett, who be all of your
own way of thinking."

"You assure me?" said Mr. Heatherthwayte, "for it is the nature of
these folk to act a part, even as did the parent the serpent."

Often as Richard had thought so himself, he was offended now, and rose,
"If you think I have brought a serpent into your house, sir, we will
take shelter elsewhere.  I will call her."

Mr. Heatherthwayte apologised and protested, and showed himself willing
to accept the assurance that Cicely was as simple and guileless as his
own little maid; and Mr. Talbot, not wishing to be sent adrift with
Cicely at that time of night, and certainly not to put such an affront
on the good, if over-anxious father, was pacified, but the cordial tone
of ease was at an end, and they were glad to separate and retire to

Richard had much cause for thought.  He perceived, what had always been
a perplexity to him before, how Langston had arrived at the knowledge
that enabled him to identify Cicely with the babe of Lochleven.

Mr. Talbot heard moanings and wailings of wind all night, which to his
experience here meant either a three days' detention at Hull, or a land
journey.  With dawn there were gusts and showers.  He rose betimes and
went downstairs.  He could hear his good host praying aloud in his
room, and feeling determined not to vex that Puritan spirit by the
presence of Queen Mary's pupil, he wrapped his cloak about him and went
out to study the weather, and inquire for lodgings to which he might
remove Cicely.  He saw nothing he liked, and determined on consulting
his old mate, Goatley, who generally acted as skipper, but he had first
to return so as not to delay the morning meal.  He found, on coming in,
Cicely helping Oil-of-Gladness in making griddle cakes, and buttering
them, so as to make Mr. Heatherthwayte declare that he had not tasted
the like since Mistress Susan quitted Hull.

Moreover, he had not sat down to the meal more than ten minutes before
he discovered, to his secret amusement, that Cicely had perfectly
fascinated and charmed the good minister, who would have shuddered had
he known that she did so by the graces inherited and acquired from the
object of his abhorrence.  Invitations to abide in their present
quarters till it was possible to sail were pressed on them; and though
Richard showed himself unwilling to accept them, they were so cordially
reiterated, that he felt it wiser to accede to them rather than spread
the mystery farther.  He was never quite sure whether Mr.
Heatherthwayte looked on the young lady as untainted, or whether he
wished to secure her in his own instructions; but he always described
her as a modest and virtuous young lady, and so far from thinking her
presence dangerous, only wished Oil to learn as much from her as

Cicely was sorely disappointed, and wanted to ride on at once by land;
but when her foster-father had shown her that the bad weather would be
an almost equal obstacle, and that much time would be lost on the road,
she submitted with the good temper she had cultivated under such a
notable example.  She taught Oil-of-Gladness the cookery of one of her
mothers and the stitchery of the other; she helped Dust-and-Ashes with
his accidence, and enlightened him on the sports of the Bridgefield
boys, so that his father looked round dismayed at the smothered
laughter, when she assured him that she was only telling how her
brother Diccon caught a coney, or the like, and in some magical way
smoothed down his frowns with her smile.

Mistress Cicely Talbot's visit was likely to be an unforgotten era with
Dust-and-Ashes and Oil-of-Gladness.  The good curate entreated that she
and her father would lodge there on their return, and the invitation
was accepted conditionally, Mr. Talbot writing to his wife, by the
carriers, to send such a load of good cheer from Bridgefield as would
amply compensate for the expenses of this hospitality.



People did not pity themselves so much for suspense when, instead of
receiving an answer in less than an hour, they had to wait for it for
weeks if not months.  Mrs. Talbot might be anxious at Bridgefield, and
her son at Fotheringhay, and poor Queen Mary, whose life hung in the
balance, more heartsick with what old writers well named 'wanhope' than
any of them; but they had to live on, and rise morning after morning
without expecting any intelligence, unable to do anything but pray for
those who might be in perils unknown.

After the strain and effort of her trial, Mary had become very ill, and
kept her bed for many days.  Humfrey continued to fulfil his daily
duties as commander of the guards set upon her, but he seldom saw or
spoke with any of her attendants, as Sir Andrew Melville, whom he knew
the best of them, had on some suspicion been separated from his
mistress and confined in another part of the Castle.

Sir Amias Paulett, too, was sick with gout and anxiety, and was much
relieved when Sir Drew Drury was sent to his assistance.  The new
warder was a more courteous and easy-mannered person, and did not fret
himself or the prisoner with precautions like his colleague; and on Sir
Amias's reiterated complaint that the guards were not numerous enough,
he had brought down five fresh men, hired in London, fellows used to
all sorts of weapons, and at home in military discipline; but, as
Humfrey soon perceived, at home likewise in the license of camps, and
most incongruous companions for the simple village bumpkins, and the
precise retainers who had hitherto formed the garrison.  He did his
best to keep order, but marvelled how Sir Amias would view their
excesses when he should come forth again from his sick chamber.

The Queen was better, though still lame; and on a fine November
noontide she obtained, by earnest entreaty, permission to gratify her
longing for free air by taking a turn in what was called the Fetterlock
Court, from the Yorkist badge of the falcon and fetterlock carved
profusely on the decorations.  This was the inmost strength of the
castle, on the highest ground, an octagon court, with the keep closing
one side of it, and the others surrounded with huge massive walls,
shutting in a greensward with a well.  There was a broad commodious
terrace in the thickness of the walls, intended as a station whence the
defenders could shoot between the battlements, but in time of peace
forming a pleasant promenade sheltered from the wind, and catching on
its northern side the meridian rays of this Martinmas summer day, so
that physician as well as jailer consented to permit the captive there
to take the air.

"Some watch there must be," said Paulett anxiously, when his colleague
reported the consent he had given.

"It will suffice, then," said Sir Drew Drury, "if the officer of the
guard--Talbot call you him?--stands at the angle of the court, so as to
keep her in his view.  He is a well-nurtured youth, and will not vex

"Let him have the guard within call," said Paulett, and to this Drury
assented, perhaps with a little amusement at the restless precautions
of the invalid.

Accordingly, Humfrey took up his station, as unobtrusively as he could,
at the corner of the terrace, and presently, through a doorway at the
other end saw the Queen, hooded and cloaked, come forth, leaning
heavily on the arm of Dr. Bourgoin, and attended by the two Maries and
the two elder ladies.  She moved slowly, and paused every few steps,
gazing round her, inhaling the fresh air and enjoying the sunshine, or
speaking a caressing word to little Bijou, who leaped about, and
barked, and whined with delight at having her out of doors again.
There was a seat in the wall, and her ladies spread cushions and cloaks
for her to sit on it, warmed as it was by the sun; and there she
rested, watching a starling running about on the turf, his
gold-bespangled green plumage glistening.  She hardly spoke; she seemed
to be making the most of the repose of the fair calm day. Humfrey would
not intrude by making her sensible of his presence, but he watched her
from his station, wondering within himself if she cared for the peril
to which she had exposed the daughter so dear to him.

Such were his thoughts when an angry bark from Bijou warned him to be
on the alert.  A man--ay, one of the new men-at-arms--was springing up
the ramp leading to the summit of the wall almost immediately in front
of the little group.  There was a gleam of steel in his hand. With one
long ringing whistle, Humfrey bounded from his place, and at the moment
when the ruffian was on the point of assailing the Queen, he caught him
with one hand by the collar, with the other tried to master the arm
that held the weapon.  It was a sharp struggle, for the fellow was a
trained soldier in the full strength of manhood, and Humfrey was a
youth of twenty-three, and unarmed.  They went down together, rolling
on the ground before Mary's chair; but in another moment Humfrey was
the uppermost.  He had his knee on the fellow's chest, and held aloft,
though in a bleeding hand, the dagger wrenched from him.  The victory
had been won in a few seconds, before the two men, whom his whistle had
brought, had time to rush forward.  They were ready now to throw
themselves on the assailant.  "Hold!" cried Humfrey, speaking for the
first time.  "Hurt him not!  Hold him fast till I have him to Sir

Each had an arm of the fallen man, and Humfrey rose to meet the eyes of
the Queen sparkling, as she cried, "Bravely, bravely done, sir! We
thank you.  Though it be but the poor remnant of a worthless life that
you have saved, we thank you.  The sight of your manhood has gladdened

Humfrey bowed low, and at the same time there was a cry among the
ladies that he was bleeding.  It was only his hand, as he showed them.
The dagger had been drawn across the palm before he could capture it.
The kerchiefs were instantly brought forward to bind it up, Dr.
Bourgoin saying that it ought to have Master Gorion's attention.

"I may not wait for that, sir," said Humfrey.  "I must carry this
villain at once to Sir Amias and report on the affair."

"Nay, but you will come again to be tended," said the Queen, while Dr.
Bourgoin fastened the knot of the temporary bandage.  "Ah! and is it
Humfrey Talbot to whom I owe my life?  There is one who will thank thee
for it more than even I.  But come back.  Gorion must treat that hand,
and then you will tell me what you have heard of her."

"Naught, alas, madam," said Humfrey with an expressive shake of the
head, but ere he turned away Mary extended her hand to him, and as he
bent his knee to kiss it she laid the other kindly on his dark curled
head and said, "God bless thee, brave youth."

She was escorted to the door nearest to her apartments, and as she sank
back on her day bed she could not help murmuring to Mary Seaton, "A
brave laddie.  Would that he had one drop of princely blood."

"The Talbot blood is not amiss," said the lady.

"True; and were it but mine own Scottish royalty that were in question
I should see naught amiss, but with this English right that hath been
the bane of us all, what can their love bring the poor children save

Meantime Humfrey was conducting his prisoner to Sir Amias Paulett. The
man was a bronzed, tough-looking ruffian, with an air of having seen
service, and a certain foreign touch in his accent.  He glanced
somewhat contemptuously at his captor, and said; "Neatly done, sir; I
marvel if you'll get any thanks."

"What mean you?" said Humfrey sharply, but the fellow only shrugged his
shoulders.  The whole affair had been so noiseless, that Humfrey
brought the first intelligence when he was admitted to the sick
chamber, where Sir Amias sat in a large chair by the fire.  He had left
his prisoner guarded by two men at the door.  "How now!  What is it?"
cried Paulett at first sight of his bandaged hand.  "Is she safe?"

"Even so, sir, and untouched," said Humfrey.

"Thanks be to God!" he exclaimed.  "This is what I feared.  Who was it?"

"One of the new men-at-arms from London--Peter Pierson he called
himself, and said he had served in the Netherlands."

And after a few further words of explanation, Humfrey called in the
prisoner and his guards, and before his face gave an account of his
attempt upon the helpless Queen.

"Godless and murderous villain!" said Paulett, "what hast thou to say
for thyself that I should not hang thee from the highest tower?"

"Naught that will hinder you, worshipful seignior," returned the man
with a sneer.  "In sooth I see no great odds between taking life with a
dagger and with an axe, save that fewer folk are regaled with the

"Wretch," said Paulett, "wouldst thou confound private murder with the
open judgment of God and man?"

"Judgment hath been pronounced," said the fellow, "but it needs not to
dispute the matter.  Only if this honest youth had not come blundering
in and cut his fingers in the fray, your captive would have been
quietly rid of all her troubles, and I should have had my reward from
certain great folk you wot of.  Ay," as Sir Amias turned still
yellower, "you take my meaning, sir."

"Take him away," said Paulett, collecting himself; "he would cloak his
crime by accusing others of his desperate wickedness."

"Where, sir?" inquired Humfrey.

Sir Amias would have preferred hanging the fellow without inquiry, but
as Fotheringhay was not under martial law, he ordered him off to the
dungeons for the present, while the nearest justice of the peace was
sent for.  The knight bade Humfrey remain while the prisoner was walked
off under due guard, and made a few more inquiries, adding, with a
sigh, "You must double the guard, Master Talbot, and get rid of all
those London rogues--sons of Belial are they all, and I'll have none
for whom I cannot answer--for I fear me 'tis all too true what the
fellow says."

"Who would set him on?"

"That I may not say.  But would you believe it, Humfrey Talbot, I have
been blamed--ay, rated like a hound, for that I will not lend myself to
a privy murder."

"Verily, sir?"

"Verily, and indeed, young man.  'Tis the part of a loyal subject, they
say, to spare her Majesty's womanish feelings and her hatred of
bloodshed, and this lady having been condemned, to take her off
secretly so as to save the Queen the pain and heart-searchings of
signing the warrant.  You credit me not, sir, but I have the letter--to
my sorrow and shame."

No wonder that the poor, precise, hard-hearted, but religious and
high-principled man was laid up with a fit of the gout, after receiving
the shameful letter which he described, which is still extant, signed
by Walsingham and Davison.

"Strange loyalty," said Humfrey.

"And too much after the Spanish sort for an English Protestant," said
Sir Amias.  "I made answer that I would lay down my life to guard this
unhappy woman to undergo the justice that is to be done upon her, but
murder her, or allow her to be slain in my hands, I neither can nor
will, so help me Heaven, as a true though sinful man."

"Amen," said Humfrey.

"And no small cause of thanks have I that in you, young sir, I have one
who may be trusted for faith as well as courage, and I need not say

As he spoke, Sir Drew Drury, who had been out riding, returned, anxious
to hear the details of this strange event.  Sir Amias could not leave
his room.  Sir Drew accompanied Humfrey to the Queen's apartments to
hear her account and that of her attendants.  It was given with praises
of the young gentleman which put him to the blush, and Sir Drew then
gave permission for his hurt to be treated by Maitre Gorion, and left
him in the antechamber for the purpose.

Sir Amias would perhaps have done more wisely if he had not detained
Humfrey from seeing the criminal guarded to his prison.  For Sir Drew
Drury, going from the Queen's presence to interrogate the fellow before
sending for a magistrate, found the cell empty.  It had been the turn
of duty of one of the new London men-at-arms, and he had been placed as
sentry at the door by the sergeant--the stupidest and trustiest of
fellows--who stood gaping in utter amazement when he found that sentry
and prisoner were both alike missing.

On the whole, the two warders agreed that it would be wiser to hush up
the matter.  When Mary heard that the man had escaped, she quietly
said, "I understand.  They know how to do such things better abroad."

Things returned to their usual state except that Humfrey had permission
to go daily to have his hand attended to by M. Gorion, and the Queen
never let pass this opportunity of speaking to him, though the very
first time she ascertained that he knew as little as she did of the
proceedings of his father and Cicely.

Now, for the first time, did Humfrey understand the charm that had
captivated Babington, and that even his father confessed.  Ailing,
aging, and suffering as she was, and in daily expectation of her
sentence of death, there was still something more wonderfully winning
about her, a sweet pathetic cheerfulness, kindness, and resignation,
that filled his heart with devotion to her.  And then she spoke of
Cicely, the rarest and greatest delight that he could enjoy.  She
evidently regarded him with favour, if not affection, because he loved
the maiden whom she could not but deny to him.  Would he not do
anything for her?  Ay, anything consistent with duty.  And there came a
twinge which startled him.  Was she making him value duty less? Never.
Besides, how few days he could see her.  His hand was healing all too
fast, and what might not come any day from London?  Was Queen Mary's
last conquest to be that of Humfrey Talbot?



The tragedies of the stage compress themselves into a few hours, but
the tragedies of real life are of slow and heavy march, and the
heart-sickness of delay and hope and dread alike deferred is one of
their chief trials.

Humfrey's hurt was quite well, but as he was at once trusted by his
superiors, and acceptable to the captive, he was employed in many of
those lesser communications between her and her keepers, for which the
two knights did not feel it necessary to harass her with their
presence.  His post, for half the twenty-four hours, was on guard in
the gallery outside her anteroom door; but he often knocked and was
admitted as bearer of some message to her or her household; and equally
often was called in to hear her requests, and sometimes he could not
help believing because it pleased her to see him, even if there were
nothing to tell her.

Nor was there anything known until the 19th of November, when the sound
of horses' feet in large numbers, and the blast of bugles, announced
the arrival of a numerous party.  When marshalled into the ordinary
dining-hall, they proved to be Lord Buckhurst, a dignified-looking
nobleman, who bore a sad and grave countenance full of presage, with
Mr. Beale, the Clerk of the Council, and two or three other officials
and secretaries, among whom Humfrey perceived the inevitable Will

The two old comrades quickly sought each other out, Will observing, "So
here you are still, Humfrey.  We are like to see the end of a long

"How so?" asked Humfrey, with a thrill of horror, "is she sentenced?"

"By the Commissioners, all excepting my Lord Zouch, and by both houses
of Parliament!  We are come down to announce it to her.  I'll have you
into the presence-chamber if I can prevail.  It will be a noteworthy
thing to see how the daughter of a hundred kings brooks such a

"Hath no one spoken for her?" asked Humfrey, thinking at least as much
of Cicely as of the victim.

"The King of Scots hath sent an ambassage," returned Cavendish, "but
when I say 'tis the Master of Gray, you know what that means.  King
James may be urgent to save his mother--nay, he hath written more
sharply and shrewishly than ever he did before; but as for this Gray,
whatever he may say openly, we know that he has whispered to the Queen,
'The dead don't bite.'"

"The villain!"

"That may be, so far as he himself is concerned, but the counsel is
canny, like the false Scot himself.  What's this I hear, Humfrey, that
you have been playing the champion, and getting wounded in the defence?"

"A mere nothing," said Humfrey, opening his hand, however, to show the
mark.  "I did but get my palm scored in hindering a villainous
man-at-arms from slaying the poor lady."

"Yea, well are thy race named Talbot!" said Cavendish.  "Sturdy
watch-dogs are ye all, with never a notion that sometimes it may be for
the good of all parties to look the other way."

"If you mean that I am to stand by and see a helpless woman--"

"Hush! my good friend," said Will, holding up his hand.  "I know thy
breed far too well to mean any such thing.  Moreover, thy precisian
governor, old Paulett there, hath repelled, like instigations of Satan,
more hints than one that pain might be saved to one queen and publicity
to the other, if he would have taken a leaf from Don Philip's book, and
permitted the lady to be dealt with secretly.  Had he given an ear to
the matter six months back, it would have spared poor Antony."

"Speak not thus, Will," said Humfrey, "or thou wilt make me believe
thee a worse man than thou art, only for the sake of showing me how
thou art versed in state policy.  Tell me, instead, if thou hast seen
my father."

"Thy father? yea, verily, and I have a packet for thee from him.  It is
in my mails, and I will give it thee anon.  He is come on a bootless
errand!  As long as my mother and my sister Mall are both living, he
might as well try to bring two catamounts together without hisses and

"Where is he lying?" asked Humfrey.

"In Shrewsbury House, after the family wont, and Gilbert makes him
welcome enough, but Mall is angered with him for not lodging his
daughter there likewise!  I tell her he is afraid lest she should get
hold of the wench, and work up a fresh web of tales against this lady,
like those which did so much damage before.  'Twould be rare if she
made out that Gravity himself, in the person of old Paulett, had been
entranced by her."

"Peace with thy gibes," said Humfrey impatiently, "and tell me where my
sister is."

"Where thinkest thou?  Of all strange places in the world, he hath
bestowed her with Madame de Salmonnet, the wife of one of the French
Ambassador's following, to perfect her French, as he saith.  Canst thou
conceive wherefore he doth it?  Hath he any marriage in view for her?
Mall tried to find out, but he is secret.  Tell me, Numps, what is it?"

"If he be secret, must not I be the same?" said Humfrey, laughing.

"Nay, thou owest me some return for all that I have told thee."

"Marry, Will, that is more like a maiden than a statesman!  But be
content, comrade, I know no more than thou what purposes there may be
anent my sister's marriage," he added.  "Only if thou canst give me my
father's letter, I should be beholden to thee."

They were interrupted, however, by a summons to Humfrey, who was to go
to the apartments of the Queen of Scots, to bear the information that
in the space of half an hour the Lord Buckhurst and Master Beale would
do themselves the honour of speaking with her.

"So," muttered Cavendish to himself as Humfrey went up the stairs,
"there _is_ then some secret.  I marvel what it bodes!  Did not that
crafty villain Langston utter some sort of warning which I spurned,
knowing the Bridgefield trustiness and good faith?  This wench hath
been mightily favoured by the lady.  I must see to it."

Meantime Humfrey had been admitted to Queen Mary's room, where she sat
as usual at her needlework.  "You bring me tidings, my friend," she
said, as he bent his knee before her.  "Methought I heard a fresh stir
in the Castle; who is arrived?"

"The Lord Buckhurst, so please your Grace, and Master Beale.  They
crave an audience of your Grace in half an hour's time."

"Yea, and I can well guess wherefore," said the Queen.  "Well, Fiat
voluntas tua!  Buckhurst? he is kinsman of Elizabeth on the Boleyn
side, methinks!  She would do me grace, you see, my masters, by sending
me such tidings by her cousin.  They cannot hurt me!  I am far past
that!  So let us have no tears, my lassies, but receive them right
royally, as befits a message from one sovereign to another! Remember,
it is not before my Lord Buckhurst and Master Beale that we sit, but
before all posterities for evermore, who will hear of Mary Stewart and
her wrongs.  Tell them I am ready, sir.  Nay but, my son," she added,
with a very different tone of the tender woman instead of the outraged
sovereign, "I see thou hast news for me.  Is it of the child?"

"Even so, madam.  I wot little yet, but what I know is hopeful.  She is
with Madame de Salmonnet, wife of one of the suite of the French

"Ah! that speaketh much," said Mary, smiling, "more than you know,
young man.  Salmonnet is sprung of a Scottish archer, Jockie of the
salmon net, whereof they made in France M. de Salmonnet.  Chateauneuf
must have owned her, and put her under the protection of the Embassy.
Hast thou had a letter from thy father?"

"I am told that one is among Will Cavendish's mails, madam, and I hope
to have it anon."

"These men have all unawares brought with them that which may well bear
me up through whatever may be coming."

A second message arrived from Lord Buckhurst himself, to say how
grieved he was to be the bearer of heavy tidings, and to say that he
would not presume to intrude on her Majesty's presence until she would
notify to him that she was ready to receive him.

"They have become courteous," said Mary.  "But why should we dally? The
sooner this is over, the better."

The gentlemen were then admitted: Lord Buckhurst grave, sad, stately,
and courteous; Sir Annas Paulett, as usual, grim and wooden in his
puritanical stiffness; Sir Drew Drury keeping in the background as one
grieved; and Mr. Beale, who had already often harassed the Queen
before, eager, forward, and peremptory, as one whose exultation could
hardly be repressed by respect for his superior, Lord Buckhurst.

Bending low before her, this nobleman craved her pardon for that which
it was his duty to execute; and having kissed her hand, in token of her
personal forgiveness, he bade Mr. Beale read the papers.

The Clerk of the Council stood forth almost without obeisance, till it
was absolutely compelled from him by Buckhurst.  He read aloud the
details of the judgment, that Mary had been found guilty by the
Commission, of conspiracy against the kingdom, and the life of the
Queen, with the sentence from the High Court of Parliament that she was
to die by being beheaded.

Mary listened with unmoved countenance, only she stood up and made
solemn protest against the authority and power of the Commission either
to try or condemn her.  Beale was about to reply, but Lord Buckhurst
checked him, telling him it was simply his business to record the
protest; and then adding that he was charged to warn her to put away
all hopes of mercy, and to prepare for death.  This, he said, was on
behalf of his Queen, who implored her to disburthen her conscience by a
full confession.  "It is not her work," added Buckhurst; "the sentence
is not hers, but this thing is required by her people, inasmuch as her
life can never be safe while your Grace lives, nor can her religion
remain in any security."

Mary's demeanour had hitherto been resolute.  Here a brightness and
look of thankful joy came over her, as she raised her eyes to Heaven
and joined her hands, saying, "I thank you, my lord; you have made it
all gladness to me, by declaring me to be an instrument in the cause of
my religion, for which, unworthy as I am, I shall rejoice to shed my

"Saint and martyr, indeed!" broke out Paulett.  "That is fine! when you
are dying for plotting treason and murder!"

"Nay, sir," gently returned Mary, "I am not so presumptuous as to call
myself saint or martyr; but though you have power over my body, you
have none over my soul, nor can you prevent me from hoping that by the
mercy of Him who died for me, my blood and life may be accepted by Him,
as offerings freely made for His Church."

She then begged for the restoration of her Almoner De Preaux.  She was
told that the request would be referred to the Queen, but that she
should have the attendance of an English Bishop and Dean. Paulett was
so angered at the manner in which she had met the doom, that he began
to threaten her that she would be denied all that could serve to her

"Yea, verily," said she calmly, "I am aware that the English have never
been noted for mercy."

Lord Buckhurst succeeded in getting the knight away without any more
bitter replies.  Humfrey and Cavendish had, of course, to leave the
room in their train, and as it was the hour of guard for the former, he
had to take up his station and wait with what patience he could until
it should please Master William to carry him the packet.  He opened it
eagerly, standing close beneath the little lamp that illuminated his
post, to read it: but after all, it was somewhat disappointing, for Mr.
Talbot did not feel that absolute confidence in the consciences of
gentlemen-in-place which would make him certain of that of Master
Cavendish, supposing any notion should arise that Cicely's presence in
London could have any purpose connected with the prisoner.

"To my dear son Humfrey, greeting--

"I do you to wit that we are here safely arrived in London, though we
were forced by stress of weather to tarry seven days in Hull, at the
house of good Master Heatherthwayte, where we received good and
hospitable entertainment.  The voyage was a fair one, and the old
Mastiff is as brave a little vessel as ever she was wont to be; but thy
poor sister lay abed all the time, and was right glad when we came into
smooth water.  We have presented the letters to those whom we came to
seek, and so far matters have gone with us more towardly than I had
expected.  There are those who knew Cicely's mother at her years who
say there is a strange likeness between them, and who therefore
received her the more favourably.  I am lying at present at Shrewsbury
House, where my young Lord makes me welcome, but it hath been judged
meet that thy sister should lodge with the good Madame de Salmonnet, a
lady of Scottish birth, who is wife to one of the secretaries of M. de
Chateauneuf, the French Ambassador, but who was bred in the convent of
Soissons.  She is a virtuous and honourable lady, and hath taken charge
of thy sister while we remain in London. For the purpose for which we
came, it goeth forward, and those who should know assure me that we do
not lose time here.  Diccon commendeth himself to thee; he is well in
health, and hath much improved in all his exercises.  Mistress Curll is
lodging nigh unto the Strand, in hopes of being permitted to see her
husband; but that hath not yet been granted to her, although she is
assured that he is well in health, and like ere long to be set free, as
well as Monsieur Nau.

"We came to London the day after the Parliament had pronounced sentence
upon the Lady at Fotheringhay.  I promise you there was ringing of
bells and firing of cannon, and lighting of bonfires, so that we deemed
that there must have been some great defeat of the Spaniards in the Low
Countries; and when we were told it was for joy that the Parliament had
declared the Queen of Scots guilty of death, my poor Cicely had
well-nigh swooned to think that there could be such joy for the doom of
one poor sick lady.  There hath been a petition to the Queen that the
sentence may be carried out, and she hath answered in a dubious and
uncertain manner, which leaves ground for hope; and the King of Scots
hath written pressingly and sent the Master of Gray to speak in his
mother's behalf; also M. de Chateauneuf hath both urged mercy on the
Queen, and so written to France that King Henry is sending an
Ambassador Extraordinary, M. de Bellievre, to intercede for her.

"I send these presents by favour of Master Cavendish, who will tell
thee more than I have here space to set down, and can assure thee that
nothing hasty is like to be done in the business on which he hath come
down with these gentlemen.  And so no more at present from thy loving

                                       "Richard Talbot."

Humfrey had to gather what he could from this letter, but he had no
opportunity of speech with the prisoner on the remainder of that day,
nor on the next, until after Lord Buckhurst and his followers had left
Fotheringhay, bearing with them a long and most touching letter from
the prisoner to Queen Elizabeth.

On that day, Paulett worked himself up to the strange idea that it was
for the good of the unfortunate prisoner's soul, and an act of duty to
his own sovereign, to march into the prison chamber and announce to
Queen Mary that being a dead woman in the eye of the law, no royal
state could be permitted her, in token of which he commanded her
servants to remove the canopy over her chair.  They all flatly refused
to touch it, and the women began to cry "Out upon him," for being
cowardly enough to insult their mistress, and she calmly said, "Sir,
you may do as you please.  My royal state comes from God, and is not
yours to give or take away.  I shall die a Queen, whatever you may do
by such law as robbers in a forest might use with a righteous judge."

Intensely angered, Sir Amias came, hobbling and stumbling out to the
door, pale with rage, and called on Talbot to come and bring his men to
tear down the rag of vanity in which this contumacious woman put her

"The men are your servants, sir," said Humfrey, with a flush on his
cheek and his teeth set; "I am here to guard the Queen of Scots, not to
insult her."

"How, sirrah?  Do you know to whom you speak?  Have you not sworn
obedience to me?"

"In all things within my commission, sir; but this is as much beyond
it, as I believe it to be beyond yours."

"Insolent, disloyal varlet!  You are under ward till I can account with
and discharge you.  To your chamber!"

Humfrey could but walk away, grieved that his power of bearing
intelligence or alleviation to the prisoner had been forfeited, and
that he should probably not even take leave of her.  Was she to be left
to all the insults that the malice of her persecutor could devise?  Yet
it was not exactly malice.  Paulett would have guarded her life from
assassination with his own, though chiefly for his own sake, and, as he
said, for that of "saving his poor posterity from so foul a blot;" but
he could not bear, as he told Sir Drew Drury, to see the Popish,
bloodthirsty woman sit queening it so calmly; and when he tore down her
cloth of state, and sat down in her presence with his hat on, he did
not so much intend to pain the woman, Mary, as to express the triumph
of Elizabeth and of her religion.  Humfrey believed his service over,
and began to occupy himself with putting his clothes together, while
considering whether to seek his father in London or to go home.  After
about an hour, he was summoned to the hall, where he expected to have
found Sir Amias Paulett ready to give him his discharge.  He found,
however, only Sir Drew Drury, who thus accosted him--"Young man, you
had better return to your duty.  Sir Amias is willing to overlook what
passed this morning."

"I thank you, sir, but I am not aware of having done aught to need
forgiveness," said Humfrey.

"Come, come, my fair youth, stand not on these points.  'Tis true my
good colleague hath an excess of zeal, and I could wish he could have
found it in his heart to leave the poor lady these marks of dignity
that hurt no one.  I would have no hand in it, and I am glad thou
wouldst not.  He knoweth that he had no power to require such service
of thee.  He will say no more, and I trust that neither wilt thou; for
it would not be well to change warders at this time.  Another might not
be so acceptable to the poor lady, and I would fain save her all that I

Humfrey bowed, and thanked "him of milder mood," nor was any further
notice taken of this hasty dismissal.

When next he had to enter the Queen's apartments, the absence of all
the tokens of her royal rank was to him truly a shock, accustomed as he
had been, from his earliest childhood, to connect them with her, and
knowing what their removal signified.

Mary, who was writing, looked up as, with cap in hand, he presented
himself on one knee, his head bowed lower than ever before, perhaps to
hide the tear that had sprung to his eye at sight of her pale, patient

"How now, sir?" she said.  "This obeisance is out of place to one
already dead in law.  Don your bonnet.  There is no queen here for an

"Ah! madam, suffer me.  My reverence cannot but be greater than ever,"
faltered Humfrey from his very heart, his words lost in the kiss he
printed on the hand she granted him.

Mary bent "her gray discrowned head," crowned in his eyes as the Queen
of Sorrows, and said to Marie de Courcelles, who stood behind her, "Is
it not true, ma mie, that our griefs have this make-weight, namely,
that they prove to us whose are the souls whose generosity is above all
price!  And what saith thy good father, my Humfrey?"

He had not ventured on bringing the letter into the apartments, but he
repeated most of the substance of it, without, however, greatly raising
the hopes of the Queen, though she was gratified that her cause was not
neglected either by her son or by her brother-in-law.

"They, and above all my poor maid, will be comforted to have done their
utmost," she said; "but I scarcely care that they should prevail.  As I
have written to my cousin Elizabeth, I am beholden to her for ending my
long captivity, and above all for conferring on me the blessings and
glories of one who dies for her faith, all unworthy as I am!" and she
clasped her hands, while a rapt expression came upon her countenance.

Her chief desire seemed to be that neither Cicely nor her foster-father
should run into danger on her account, and she much regretted that she
had not been able to impress upon Humfrey messages to that effect
before he wrote in answer to his father, sending his letter by

"Thou wilt not write again?" she asked.

"I doubt its being safe," said Humfrey.  "I durst not speak openly even
in the scroll I sent yesterday."

Then Mary recurred to the power which he possessed of visiting Sir
Andrew Melville and the Almoner, the Abbe de Preaux, who were shut up
in the Fetterlock tower and court, and requested him to take a billet
which she had written to the latter.  The request came like a blow to
the young man.  "With permission--" he began.

"I tell thee," said Mary, "this concerns naught but mine own soul. It
is nothing to the State, but all and everything to me, a dying woman."

"Ah, madam!  Let me but obtain consent."

"What! go to Paulett that he may have occasion to blaspheme my faith
and insult me!" said the Queen, offended.

"I should go to Sir Drew Drury, who is of another mould," said Humfrey--

"But who dares not lift a finger to cross his fellow," said Mary,
leaning back resignedly.

"And this is the young gentleman's love for your Grace!" exclaimed Jean

"Nay, madam," said Humfrey, stung to the quick, "but I am sworn!"

"Let him alone, Nurse Jeanie!" said Mary.  "He is like the rest of the
English.  They know not how to distinguish between the spirit and the
letter!  I understand it all, though I had thought for a moment that in
him there was a love for me and mine that would perceive that I could
ask nothing that could damage his honour or his good faith. I--who had
almost a mother's love and trust in him."

"Madam," cried Humfrey, "you know I would lay down my life for you, but
I cannot break my trust."

"Your trust, fule laddie!" exclaimed Mrs. Kennedy.  "Ane wad think the
Queen speired of ye to carry a letter to Mendoza to burn and slay,
instead of a bit scart of the pen to ask the good father for his
prayers, or the like!  But you are all alike; ye will not stir a hand
to aid her poor soul."

"Pardon me, madam," entreated Humfrey.  "The matter is, not what the
letter may bear, but how my oath binds me!  I may not be the bearer of
aught in writing from this chamber.  'Twas the very reason I would not
bring in my father's letter.  Madam, say but you pardon me."

"Of course I pardon you," returned Mary coldly.  "I have so much to
pardon that I can well forgive the lukewarmness and precision that are
so bred in your nature that you cannot help them.  I pardon injuries,
and I may well try to pardon disappointments.  Fare you well, Mr.
Talbot; may your fidelity have its reward from Sir Amias Paulett."

Humfrey was obliged to quit the apartment, cruelly wounded, sometimes
wondering whether he had really acted on a harsh selfish punctilio in
cutting off the dying woman from the consolations of religion, and thus
taking part with the persecutors, while his heart bled for her.
Sometimes it seemed to him as if he had been on the point of earning
her consent to his marriage with her daughter, and had thrown it away,
and at other moments a horror came over him lest he was being beguiled
as poor Antony had been before him.  And if he let his faith slip, how
should he meet his father again?  Yet his affection for the Queen
repelled this idea like a cruel injury, while, day by day, it was
renewed pain and grief to be treated by her with the gentlest and most
studied courtesy, but no longer as almost one of her own inner circle
of friends and confidants.

And as Sir Andrew Melville was in a few days more restored to her
service, he was far less often required to bear messages, or do little
services in the prison apartments, and he felt himself excluded, and
cut off from the intimacy that had been very sweet, and even a little
hopeful to him.



Cicely had been living in almost as much suspense in London as her
mother at Fotheringhay.  For greater security Mr. Talbot had kept her
on board the Mastiff till he had seen M. d'Aubepine Chateauneuf, and
presented to him Queen Mary's letter.  The Ambassador, an exceedingly
polished and graceful Frenchman, was greatly astonished, and at first
incredulous; but he could not but accept the Queen's letter as genuine,
and he called into his counsels his Secretary De Salmonnet, an elderly
man, whose wife, a Scotswoman by birth, preferred her husband's society
to the delights of Paris.  She was a Hamilton who had been a
pensionnaire in the convent at Soissons, and she knew that it had been
expected that an infant from Lochleven might be sent to the Abbess, but
that it had never come, and that after many months of waiting, tidings
had arrived that the vessel which carried the babe had been lost at sea.

M. de Chateauneuf thereupon committed the investigation to her and her
husband.  Richard Talbot took them first to the rooms where Mrs.
Barbara Curll had taken up her abode, so as to be near her husband, who
was still a prisoner in Walsingham's house.  She fully confirmed all
that Mr. Talbot said of the Queen's complete acceptance of Cis as her
daughter, and moreover consented to come with the Salmonnets and Mr.
Talbot, to visit the young lady on board the Mastiff.

Accordingly they went down the river together in Mr. Talbot's boat, and
found Cicely, well cloaked and muffled, sitting under an awning, under
the care of old Goatley, who treated her like a little queen, and was
busy explaining to her all the different craft which filled the river.

She sprang up with the utmost delight at the sight of Mrs. Curll, and
threw herself into her arms.  There was an interchange of inquiries and
comments that--unpremeditated as they were--could not but convince the
auditor of the terms on which the young lady had stood with Queen Mary
and her suite.

Afterwards Cicely took the two ladies to her cabin, a tiny box, but not
uncomfortable according to her habits, and there, on Barbara's
persuasion, she permitted Madame de Salmonnet to see the monograms on
her shoulders.  The lady went home convinced of her identity, and came
again the next day with a gentleman in slouched hat, mask, and cloak.

As Cicely rose to receive him he uttered an exclamation of
irrepressible astonishment, then added, "Your Highness will pardon me.
Exactly thus did her royal mother stand when I took leave of her at

The Ambassador had thus been taken by storm, although the resemblance
was more in figure and gesture than feature, but Mrs. Curll could aver
that those who had seen Bothwell were at no loss to trace the
derivation of the dark brows and somewhat homely features, in which the
girl differed from the royal race of Scotland.

What was to be done?  Queen Mary's letter to him begged him so far as
was possible to give her French protection, and avoid compromising
"that excellent Talbot," and he thought it would be wisest for her to
await the coming of the Envoy Extraordinary, M. de Pomponne Bellievre,
and be presented by him.  In the meantime her remaining on board ship
in this winter weather would be miserably uncomfortable, and Richmond
and Greenwich were so near that any intercourse with her would be
dangerous, especially if Langston was still in England. Lodgings or
inns where a young lady from the country could safely be bestowed were
not easily to be procured without greater familiarity with the place
than Mr. Talbot possessed, and he could as little think of placing her
with Lady Talbot, whose gossiping tongue and shrewish temper were not
for a moment to be trusted.  Therefore M de Chateauneuf's proposal that
the young lady should become Madame de Salmonnet's guest at the embassy
was not unwelcome.  The lady was elderly, Scottish, and, as M. de
Chateauneuf with something of a shudder assured Mr. Talbot, "most
respectable."  And it was hoped that it would not be for long.  So,
having seen her safely made over to the lady's care, Richard ventured
for the first time to make his presence in London known to his son, and
to his kindred; and he was the more glad to have her in these quarters
because Diccon told him that there was no doubt that Langston was
lurking about the town, and indeed he was convinced that he had
recognised that spy entering Walsingham's house in the dress of a
scrivener.  He would not alarm Cicely, but he bade her keep all her
goods in a state ready for immediate departure, in case it should be
needful to leave London at once after seeing the Queen.

The French Ambassador's abode was an old conventual building on the
river-side, consisting of a number of sets of separate chambers, like
those of a college, opening on a quadrangle in the centre, and with one
side occupied by the state apartments and chapel.  This arrangement
eminently suited the French suite, every one of whom liked to have his
own little arrangements of cookery, and to look after his own marmite
in his own way, all being alike horrified at the gross English diet and
lack of vegetables.  Many tried experiments in the way of growing
salads in little gardens of their own, with little heed to the once
beautiful green grass-plot which they broke up.

Inside that gate it was like a new country, and as all the shrill thin
intonations of the French rang in her ears, Cicely could hardly believe
that she had--she said--only a brick wall between her and old England.

M. de Salmonnet was unmistakably a Scot by descent, though he had never
seen the land of his ancestors.  His grandfather bad been ennobled, but
only belonged to the lesser order of the noblesse, being exempted from
imposts, but not being above employment, especially in diplomacy.  He
had acted as secretary, interpreter, and general factotum, to a whole
succession of ambassadors, and thus his little loge, as he called it,
had become something of a home.  His wife had once or twice before had
to take charge of young ladies, French or English, who were confided to
the embassy, and she had a guest chamber for them, a small room, but
with an oriel window overhanging the Thames and letting in the southern
sun, so as almost to compensate for the bareness of the rest, where
there was nothing but a square box-bed, a chest, and a few toilette
essentials, to break upon the dulness of the dark wainscoted walls.
Madame herself came to sleep with her guest, for lonely nights were
regarded with dread in those times, and indeed she seemed to regard it
as her duty never to lose sight of her charge for a moment.

Madame de Salmonnet's proper bed-chamber was the only approach to this
little room, but that mattered the less as it was also the parlour!
The bed, likewise a box, was in the far-off recesses, and the family
were up and astir long before the November sun.  Dressed Madame could
scarcely be called--the costume in which she assisted Babette and queer
wizened old Pierrot in doing the morning's work, horrified Cicely, used
as she was to Mistress Susan's scrupulous neatness.  Downstairs there
was a sort of office room of Monsieur's, where the family meals were
taken, and behind it an exceedingly small kitchen, where Madame and
Pierrot performed marvels of cookery, surpassing those of Queen Mary's
five cooks.

Cicely longed to assist in them, and after a slight demur, she was
permitted to do so, chiefly because her duenna could not otherwise
watch her and the confections at the same time.  Cis could never make
out whether it was as princess or simply as maiden that she was so
closely watched, for Madame bristled and swelled like a mother cat
about to spring at a strange dog, if any gentleman of the suite showed
symptoms of accosting her.  Nay, when Mr. Talbot once brought Diccon in
with him, and there was a greeting, which to Cicely's mind was dismally
cold and dry, the lady was so scandalised that Cicely was obliged
formally to tell her that she would answer for it to the Queen.  On
Sunday, Mr. Talbot always came to take her to church, and this was a
terrible grievance to Madame, though it was to Cicely the one
refreshment of the week.  If it had been only the being out of hearing
of her hostess's incessant tongue, the walk would have been a
refreshment.  Madame de Salmonnet had been transported from home so
young that she was far more French than Scottish; she was a small woman
full of activity and zeal of all kinds, though perhaps most of all for
her pot au feu.  She was busied about her domestic affairs morning,
noon, and night, and never ceased chattering the whole time, till
Cicely began to regard the sound like the clack of the mill at
Bridgefield.  Yet, talker as she was, she was a safe woman, and never
had been known to betray secrets.  Indeed, much more of her
conversation consisted of speculations on the tenderness of the
poultry, or the freshness of the fish, than of anything that went much
deeper.  She did, however, spend much time in describing the habits and
customs of the pensioners at Soissons; the maigre food they had to eat;
their tricks upon the elder and graver nuns, and a good deal besides
that was amusing at first, but which became rather wearisome, and made
Cicely wonder what either of her mothers would have thought of it.

The excuse for all this was to enable the maiden to make her appearance
before Queen Elizabeth as freshly brought from Soissons by her mother's
danger.  Mary herself had suggested this, as removing all danger from
the Talbots, and as making it easier for the French Embassy to claim
and protect Cis herself; and M. de Chateauneuf had so far acquiesced as
to desire Madame de Salmonnet to see whether the young lady could be
prepared to assume the character before eyes that would not be over
qualified to judge.  Cis, however, had always been passive when the
proposal was made, and the more she heard from Madame de Salmonnet, the
more averse she was to it.  The only consideration that seemed to her
in its favour was the avoidance of implicating her foster-father, but a
Sunday morning spent with him removed the scruple.

"I know I cannot feign," she said.  "They all used to laugh at me at
Chartley for being too much of the downright mastiff to act a part."

"I am right glad to hear it," said Richard.

"Moreover," added Cicely, "if I did try to turn my words with the
Scottish or French ring, I wot that the sight of the Queen's Majesty
and my anxiety would drive out from me all I should strive to remember,
and I should falter and utter mere folly; and if she saw I was
deceiving her, there would be no hope at all.  Nay, how could I ask God
Almighty to bless my doing with a lie in my mouth?"

"There spake my Susan's own maid," said Richard.  "'Tis the joy of my
heart that they have not been able to teach thee to lie with a good
grace.  Trust my word, my wench, truth is the only wisdom, and one
would have thought they might have learnt it by this time."

"I only doubted, lest it should be to your damage, dear father.  Can
they call it treason?"

"I trow not, my child.  The worst that could hap would be that I might
be lodged in prison a while, or have to pay a fine; and liefer, far
liefer, would I undergo the like than that those lips of thine should
learn guile.  I say not that there is safety for any of us, least of
all for thee, my poor maid, but the danger is tenfold increased by
trying to deceive; and, moreover, it cannot be met with a good

"Moreover," said Cicely, "I have pleadings and promises to make on my
mother-queen's behalf that would come strangely amiss if I had to feign
that I had never seen her!  May I not seek the Queen at once, without
waiting for this French gentleman?  Then would this weary, weary time
be at an end!  Each time I hear a bell, or a cannon shot, I start and
think, Oh! has she signed the warrant?  Is it too late?"

"There is no fear of that," said Richard; "I shall know from Will
Cavendish the instant aught is done, and through Diccon I could get
thee brought to the Queen's very chamber in time to plead.  Meantime,
the Queen is in many minds.  She cannot bear to give up her kinswoman;
she sits apart and mutters, 'Aut fer aut feri,' and 'Ne feriare feri.'
Her ladies say she tosses and sighs all night, and hath once or twice
awoke shrieking that she was covered with blood. It is Burghley and
Walsingham who are forcing this on, and not her free will.  Strengthen
but her better will, and let her feel herself secure, and she will
spare, and gladly."

"That do I hope to do," said Cicely, encouraged.  The poor girl had to
endure many a vicissitude and heart-sinking before M. de Bellievre
appeared; and when he did come, he was a disappointment.

He was a most magnificent specimen of the mignons of Henri's court. The
Embassy rang with stories of the number of mails he had brought, of the
milk baths he sent for, the gloves he slept in, the valets who tweaked
out superfluous hairs from his eyebrows, the delicacies required for
his little dogs.

M. de Salmonnet reported that on hearing the story of "Mademoiselle,"
as Cicely was called in the Embassy, he had twirled the waxed ends of
his moustaches into a satirical twist, and observed, "That is well
found, and may serve as a last resource."

He never would say that he disbelieved what he was told of her; and
when presented to her, he behaved with an exaggerated deference which
angered her intensely, for it seemed to her mockery of her pretensions.
No doubt his desire was that Mary's life should be granted to the
intercession of his king rather than to any other consideration; and
therefore once, twice, thrice, he had interviews with Elizabeth, and
still he would not take the anxious suppliant, who was in an agony at
each disappointment, as she watched the gay barge float down the river,
and who began to devise setting forth alone, to seek the Queen at
Richmond and end it all!  She would have done so, but that Diccon told
her that since the alarm caused by Barnwell, it had become so much more
difficult to approach the Queen that she would have no hope.

But she was in a restless state that made Madame de Salmonnet's chatter
almost distracting, when at last, far on in January, M. de Salmonnet
came in.

"Well, mademoiselle, the moment is come.  The passports are granted,
but Monsieur the Ambassador Extraordinary has asked for a last private
audience, and he prays your Highness to be ready to accompany him at
nine of the clock to-morrow morning."

Cicely's first thought was to send tidings to Mr. Talbot, and in this
M. de Salmonnet assisted her, though his wife thought it very
superfluous to drag in the great, dull, heavy, English sailor.  The
girl longed for a sight and speech of him all that evening in vain,
though she was sure she saw the Mastiff's boat pass down the river, and
most earnestly did she wish she could have had her chamber to herself
for the prayers and preparations, on which Madame's tongue broke so
intolerably that she felt as if she should ere long be wild and
senseless, and unable to recollect anything.

She had only a little peace when Madame rose early in the morning and
left her, thinking her asleep, for a brief interval, which gave her
time to rally her thoughts and commend herself to her only Guide.

She let Madame dress her, as had been determined, in perfectly plain
black, with a cap that would have suited "a novice out of convent
shade."  It was certainly the most suitable garb for a petitioner for
her mother's life.  In her hand she took the Queen's letter, and the
most essential proofs of her birth.  She was cloaked and hooded over
all as warmly as possible to encounter the cold of the river: and
Madame de Salmonnet, sighing deeply at the cold, arranged herself to
chaperon her, and tried to make her fortify herself with food, but she
was too tremulous to swallow anything but a little bread and wine.
Poor child!  She felt frightfully alone amongst all those foreign
tongues, above all when the two ambassadors crossed the court to M. de
Salmonnet's little door.  Bellievre, rolled up in splendid sables from
head to foot, bowed down to the ground before her, almost sweeping the
pavement with his plume, and asked in his deferential voice of mockery
if her Royal Highness would do him the honour of accepting his escort.

Cicely bent her head and said in French, "I thank you, sir," giving him
her hand; and there was a grave dignity in the action that repressed
him, so that he did not speak again as he led her to the barge, which
was covered in at the stern so as to afford a shelter from the wind.

Her quick eye detected the Mastiff's boat as she was handed down the
stairs, and this was some relief, while she was placed in the seat of
honour, with an ambassador on each side of her.

"May I ask," demanded Bellievre, waving a scented handkerchief, "what
her Highness is prepared to say, in case I have to confirm it?"

"I thank your Excellency," replied Cicely, "but I mean to tell the
simple truth; and as your Excellency has had no previous knowledge of
me, I do not see how you can confirm it."

The two gentlemen looked at one another, and Chateauneuf said, "Do I
understand her Royal Highness that she does not come as the
pensionnaire from Soissons, as the Queen had recommended?"

"No, sir," said Cicely; "I have considered the matter, and I could not
support the character.  All that I ask of your Excellencies is to bring
me into the presence of Queen Elizabeth.  I will do the rest myself,
with the help of God."

"Perhaps she is right," said the one ambassador to the other.  "These
English are incomprehensible!"



In due time the boat drew up at the stairs leading to the palace of
Richmond.  Cicely, in the midst of her trepidation, perceived that
Diccon was among the gentlemen pensioners who made a lane from the
landing to receive them, as she was handed along by M. de Bellievre. In
the hall there was a pause, during which the mufflings were thrown off,
and Cicely appeared in her simple black, a great contrast to her
cavalier, who was clad from neck to knee in pale pink satin, quilted,
and with a pearl at each intersection, earrings in his ears, perfumed
and long-fringed gloves in his hand--a perfect specimen of the foppery
of the Court of France.  However, he might have been in hodden gray
without her perceiving it.  She had the sensation of having plunged
into deep, unknown waters, without rope or plank, and being absolutely
forced to strike out for herself; yet the very urgency of the moment,
acting on her high blood and recent training, made her, outwardly,
perfectly self-possessed and calm.  She walked along, holding her head
in the regal manner that was her inheritance, and was so utterly
absorbed in the situation that she saw nothing, and thought only of the

This was to be a private audience, and after a minute's demur with the
clerk of the chamber, when Chateauneuf made some explanation, a door
was opened, a curtain withdrawn, and the two ambassadors and the young
lady were admitted to Elizabeth's closet, where she sat alone, in an
arm-chair with a table before her.  Cicely's first glance at the Queen
reminded her of the Countess, though the face was older, and had an
intellect and a grandeur latent in it, such as Bess of Hardwicke had
never possessed; but it was haggard and worn, the eyelids red, either
with weeping, or with sleeplessness, and there was an anxious look
about the keen light hazel eyes which was sometimes almost pathetic,
and gave Cicely hope.  To the end of her days she never could recollect
how the Queen was arrayed; she saw nothing but the expression in those
falcon eyes, and the strangely sensitive mouth, which bewrayed the
shrewish nose and chin, and the equally inconsistent firmness of the

The first glance Cicely encountered was one of utter amazement and
wrath, as the Queen exclaimed, "Whom have you brought hither,

Before either could reply, she, whom they had thought a raw, helpless
girl, moved forward, and kneeling before Elizabeth said, "It is I, so
please your Majesty, I, who have availed myself of the introduction of
their Excellencies to lay before your Majesty a letter from my mother,
the Queen of Scots."

Queen Elizabeth made so vehement and incredulous an exclamation of
amazement that Cicely was the more reminded of the Countess, and this
perhaps made her task the easier, and besides, she was not an untrained
rustic, but had really been accustomed to familiar intercourse with a
queen, who, captive as she was, maintained full state and etiquette.

She therefore made answer with dignity, "If it will please your Majesty
to look at this letter, you will see the proofs of what I say, and that
I am indeed Bride Hepburn, the daughter of Queen Mary's last marriage.
I was born at Lochleven on the 20th of February of the year of grace
1567," (footnote--1568 according to our calendar) "and thence secretly
sent in the Bride of Dunbar to be bred up in France.  The ship was
wrecked, and all lost on board, but I was, by the grace of God, picked
up by a good and gallant gentleman of my Lord of Shrewsbury's
following, Master Richard Talbot of Bridgefield, who brought me up as
his own daughter, all unknowing whence I came or who I was, until three
years ago, when one of the secret agents who had knowledge of the
affairs of the Queen of Scots made known to her that I was the babe who
had been embarked in the Bride of Dunbar."

"Verily, thou must be a bold wench to expect me to believe such a mere
minstrel's tale," said Elizabeth.

"Nevertheless, madam, it is the simple truth, as you will see if you
deign to open this packet."

"And who or where is this same honourable gentleman who brought you
up--Richard Talbot?  I have heard that name before!"

"He is here, madam.  He will confirm all I say."

The Queen touched a little bell, and ordered Master Talbot of
Bridgefield to be brought to her, while, hastily casting her eyes on
the credentials, she demanded of Chateauneuf, "Knew you aught of this,

"I know only what the Queen of Scotland has written and what this
Monsieur Talbot has told me, madam," said Chateauneuf.  "There can be
no doubt that the Queen of Scotland has treated her as a daughter, and
owns her for such in her letter to me, as well as to your Majesty."

"And the letters are no forgery?"

"Mine is assuredly not, madam; I know the private hand of the Queen of
Scots too well to be deceived.  Moreover, Madame Curll, the wife of the
Secretary, and others, can speak to the manner in which this young lady
was treated."

"Openly treated as a daughter!  That passes, sir.  My faithful subjects
would never have left me uninformed!"

"So please your Majesty," here the maiden ventured, "I have always
borne the name of Cicely Talbot, and no one knows what is my real birth
save those who were with my mother at Lochleven, excepting Mrs. Curll.
The rest even of her own attendants only understood me to be a Scottish
orphan.  My true lineage should never have been known, were it not a
daughter's duty to plead for her mother."

By this time Mr. Talbot was at the door, and he was received by the
Queen with, "So ho! Master Talbot, how is this?  You, that have been
vaunted to us as the very pink of fidelity, working up a tale that
smacks mightily of treason and leasing!"

"The truth is oft stranger than any playwright can devise," said
Richard, as he knelt.

"If it be truth, the worse for you, sir," said the Queen, hotly. "What
colour can you give to thus hiding one who might, forsooth, claim royal
blood, tainted though it be?"

"Pardon me, your Grace.  For many years I knew not who the babe was
whom I had taken from the wreck, and when the secret of her birth was
discovered, I deemed it not mine own but that of the Queen of Scots."

"A captive's secrets are not her own, and are only kept by traitors,"
said Elizabeth, severely.

At this Cicely threw herself forward with glowing cheeks.  "Madam,
madam, traitor never was named in the same breath with Master Talbot's
name before.  If he kept the secret, it was out of pity, and knowing no
hurt could come to your Majesty by it."

"Thou hast a tongue, wench, be thou who thou mayst," said Elizabeth
sharply.  "Stand back, and let him tell his own tale."

Richard very briefly related the history of the rescue of the infant,
which he said he could confirm by the testimony of Goatley and of
Heatherthwayte.  He then explained how Langston had been present when
she was brought home, and had afterwards made communications to the
Queen of Scots that led to the girl, already in attendance on her,
being claimed and recognised; after which he confessed that he had not
the heart to do what might separate the mother and daughter by
declaring their relationship.  Elizabeth meanwhile was evidently
comparing his narrative with the letters of the Queen of Scots, asking
searching questions here and there.

She made a sound of perplexity and annoyance at the end, and said,
"This must be further inquired into."

Here Cicely, fearing an instant dismissal, clasped her hands, and on
her knees exclaimed, "Madam! it will not matter.  No trouble shall ever
be caused by my drop of royal blood; no one shall ever even know that
Bride of Scotland exists, save the few who now know it, and have kept
the secret most faithfully.  I seek no state; all I ask is my mother's
life.  O madam, would you but see her, and speak with her, you would
know how far from her thoughts is any evil to your royal person!"

"Tush, wench! we know better.  Is this thy lesson?"

"None hath taught me any lesson, madam.  I know what my mother's
enemies have, as they say, proved against her, and I know they say that
while she lives your Grace cannot be in security."

"That is what moves my people to demand her death," said Elizabeth.

"It is not of your own free will, madam, nor of your own kind heart,"
cried Cicely.  "That I well know!  And, madam, I will show you the way.
Let but my mother be escorted to some convent abroad, in France or
Austria, or anywhere beyond the reach of Spain, and her name should be
hidden from everyone!  None should know where to seek her. Not even the
Abbess should know her name.  She would be prisoned in a cell, but she
would be happy, for she would have life and the free exercise of her
religion.  No English Papist, no Leaguer, none should ever trace her,
and she would disquiet you no more."

"And who is to answer that, when once beyond English bounds, she should
not stir up more trouble than ever?" demanded Elizabeth.

"That do I," said the girl.  "Here am I, Bride Hepburn, ready to live
in your Majesty's hands as a hostage, whom you might put to death at
the first stirring on her behalf."

"Silly maid, we have no love of putting folk to death," said Elizabeth,
rather hurt.  "That is only for traitors, when they forfeit our mercy."

"Then, O madam, madam, what has been done in her name cannot forfeit
mercy for her!  She was shut up in prison; I was with her day and
night, and I know she had naught to do with any evil purpose towards
your Majesty.  Ah! you do not believe me!  I know they have found her
guilty, and that is not what I came to say," she continued, getting
bewildered in her earnestness for a moment.  "No.  But, gracious Queen,
you have spared her often; I have heard her say that you had again and
again saved her life from those who would fain have her blood."

"It is true," said Elizabeth, half softened.

"Save her then now, madam," entreated the girl.  "Let her go beyond
their reach, yet where none shall find her to use her name against you.
Let me go to her at Fotheringhay with these terms.  She will consent
and bless and pray for you for ever; and here am I, ready to do what
you will with me!"

"To hang about Court, and be found secretly wedded to some base groom!"

"No, madam.  I give you my solemn word as a Queen's daughter that I
will never wed, save by your consent, if my mother's life be granted.
The King of Scots knows not that there is such a being.  He need never
know it. I will thank and bless you whether you throw me into the
Tower, or let me abide as the humblest of your serving-women, under the
name I have always borne, Cicely Talbot."

"Foolish maid, thou mayest purpose as thou sayest, but I know what
wenches are made of too well to trust thee."

"Ah madam, pardon me, but you know not how strong a maiden's heart can
be for a mother's sake.  Madam! you have never seen my mother. If you
but knew her patience and her tenderness, you would know how not only
I, but every man or woman in her train, would gladly lay down life and
liberty for her, could we but break her bonds, and win her a shelter
among those of her own faith."

"Art a Papist?" asked the Queen, observing the pronoun.

"Not so, an't please your Majesty.  This gentleman bred me up in our
own Church, nor would I leave it."

"Strange--strange matters," muttered Elizabeth, "and they need to be
duly considered."

"I will then abide your Majesty's pleasure," said Cicely, "craving
license that it may be at Fotheringhay with my mother.  Then can I bear
her the tidings, and she will write in full her consent to these terms.
O madam, I see mercy in your looks.  Receive a daughter's blessing and

"Over fast, over fast, maiden.  Who told thee that I had consented?"

"Your Majesty's own countenance," replied Cicely readily.  "I see pity
in it, and the recollection that all posterity for evermore will speak
of the clemency of Elizabeth as the crown of all her glories!"

"Child, child," said the Queen, really moved, "Heaven knows that I
would gladly practise clemency if my people would suffer it, but they
fear for my life, and still more for themselves, were I removed, nor
can I blame them."

"Your Majesty, I know that.  But my mother would be dead to the world,
leaving her rights solemnly made over to her son.  None would know
where to find her, and she would leave in your hands, and those of the
Parliament, a resignation of all her claims."

"And would she do this?  Am I to take it on thy word, girl?"

"Your Majesty knows this ring, sent to her at Lochleven," said Cicely,
holding it up.  "It is the pledge that she binds herself to these
conditions.  Oh! let me but bear them to her, and you shall have them
signed and sealed, and your Majesty will know the sweet bliss of
pardoning.  May I carry the tidings to her?  I can go with this
gentleman as Cis Talbot returning to her service."

Elizabeth bent her head as though assenting thoughtfully.

"How shall I thank you, gracious Queen?" cried Cicely, joining hands in
a transport, but Elizabeth sharply cut her short.

"What means the wench?  I have promised nothing.  I have only said I
will look into this strange story of thine, and consider this
proposal--that is, if thy mother, as thou callest her, truly intend
it--ay, and will keep to it."

"That is all I could ask of your Majesty," said Cicely.  "The next
messenger after my return shall carry her full consent to these
conditions, and there will I abide your pleasure until the time comes
for her to be conducted to her convent, if not to see your face, which
would be best of all.  O madam, what thanks will be worthy of such a

"Wait to see whether it is a grace, little cousin," said Elizabeth, but
with a kiss to the young round cheek, and a friendliness of tone that
surprised all.  "Messieurs," she added to the ambassadors, "you came,
if I mistake not, to bring me this young demoiselle."

"Who has, I hope, pleaded more effectually than I," returned Bellievre.

"I have made no promises, sir," said the Queen, drawing herself up

"Still your Majesty forbids us not to hope," said Chateauneuf.

Wherewith they found themselves dismissed.  There was a great increase
of genuine respect in the manner in which Bellievre handed the young
lady from the Queen's chamber through the gallery and hall, and finally
to the boat.  No one spoke, for there were many standing around, but
Cicely could read in a glance that passed between the Frenchmen that
they were astonished at her success.  Her own brain was in a whirl, her
heart beating high; she could hardly realise what had passed, but when
again placed in the barge the first words she heard were from Bellievre.

"Your Royal Highness will permit me to congratulate you."  At the same
time she saw, to her great joy, that M. de Chateauneuf had caused her
foster-father to enter the barge with them.  "If the Queen of Scotland
were close at hand, the game would be won," said Bellievre.

"Ah!  Milord Treasurer and M. le Secretaire are far too cunning to have
let her be within reach," said Chateauneuf.

"Could we but have bound the Queen to anything," added Bellievre.

"That she always knows how to avoid," said the resident ambassador.

"At least," said Cicely, "she has permitted that I should bear the
terms to my mother at Fotheringhay."

"That is true," said Chateauneuf, "and in my opinion no time should be
lost in so doing.  I doubt," he added, looking at Richard, "whether,
now that her Highness's exalted rank is known, the embassy will be
permitted to remain a shelter to her, in case the Queen should demand
her of me."

"Your Excellency speaks my thought," said Richard.  "I am even disposed
to believe that it would be wiser to begin our journey this very day."

"I grieve for the apparent inhospitality and disrespect to one whom I
honour so highly," said Chateauneuf, "but I verily believe it would be
the wiser plan.  Look you, sir, the enemies of the unfortunate Queen of
Scotland have done all in their power to hinder my colleague from
seeing the Queen, but to-day the Lord Treasurer is occupied at
Westminster, and Monsieur le Secretaire is sick.  She sent for us in
one of those wilful moods in which she chooses to assert herself
without their knowledge, and she remains, as it were, stunned by the
surprise, and touched by her Royal Highness's pleading.  But let these
gentlemen discover what has passed, or let her recover and send for
them, and bah! they will inquire, and messengers will go forth at once
to stop her Highness and yourself.  All will be lost.  But if you can
actually be on the way to this castle before they hear of it--and it is
possible you may have a full day in advance--they will be unable to
hinder the conditions from being laid before the Queen of Scots, and we
are witnesses of what they were."

"Oh, let us go! let us go at once, dear sir," entreated Cicely.  "I
burn to carry my mother this hope."

It was not yet noon, so early had been the audience, and dark and short
as were the days, it was quite possible to make some progress on the
journey before night.  Cicely had kept the necessaries for her journey
ready, and so had Mr. Talbot, even to the purchase of horses, which
were in the Shrewsbury House stables.

The rest of the mails could be fetched by the Mastiff's crew, and
brought to Hull under charge of Goatley.  Madame de Salmonnet was a
good deal scandalised at Son Altesse Royale going off with only a male
escort, and to Cicely's surprise, wept over her, and prayed aloud that
she might have good success, and bring safety and deliverance to the
good and persecuted Queen for whom she had attempted so much.

"Sir," said Chateauneuf, as he stood beside Richard, waiting till the
girl's preparations were over, "if there could have been any doubts of
the royal lineage of your charge, her demeanour to-day would have
disproved them.  She stood there speaking as an equal, all undaunted
before that Queen before whom all tremble, save when they can cajole

"She stood there in the strength of truth and innocence," said Richard.

Whereat the Frenchman again looked perplexed at these incomprehensible

Cicely presently appeared.  It was wonderful to see how that one effort
had given her dignity and womanhood.  She thanked the two ambassadors
for the countenance they had given to her, and begged them to continue
their exertions in her mother's cause.  "And," she added, "I believe my
mother has already requested of you to keep this matter a secret."

They bowed, and she added, "You perceive, gentlemen, that the very
conditions I have offered involve secrecy both as to my mother's future
abode and my existence.  Therefore, I trust that you will not consider
it inconsistent with your duty to the King of France to send no word of

Again they assured her of their secrecy, and the promise was so far
kept that the story was reserved for the private ear of Henri III. on
Bellievre's return, and never put into the despatches.

Two days later, Cicely enjoyed some of the happiest hours of her life.
She stood by the bed where her mother was lying, and was greeted with
the cry, "My child, my child! I thought I never should see thee more.
Domine, nunc dimittis!"

"Nay, dearest mother, but I trust she will show mercy.  I bring you

Mary laid her head on her daughter's shoulder and listened.  It might
be that she had too much experience of Elizabeth's vacillations to
entertain much hope of her being allowed to retire beyond her grasp
into a foreign convent, and she declared that she could not endure that
her beloved, devoted child should wear away her life under Elizabeth's
jealous eye, but Cis put this aside, saying with a smile, "I think she
will not be hard with me.  She will be no worse than my Lady Countess,
and I shall have a secret of joy within me in thinking of you resting
among the good nuns."

And Mary caught hope from the anticipations she would not damp, and
gave herself to the description of the peaceful cloister life,
reviewing in turn the nunneries she had heard described, and talking
over their rules.  There would indeed be as little liberty as here, but
she would live in the midst of prayer and praise, and be at rest from
the plots and plans, the hopes and fears, of her long captivity, and be
at leisure for penitence.  "For, ah! my child, guiltless though I be of
much that is laid to my charge, thy mother is a sinful woman, all
unworthy of what her brave and innocent daughter has dared and done for

Almost equally precious with that mother's greeting was the grave
congratulating look of approval which Cicely met in Humfrey's eyes when
he had heard all from his father.  He could exult in her, even while he
thought sadly of the future which she had so bravely risked, watching
over her from a distance in his silent, self-restrained, unselfish

The Queen's coldness towards Humfrey had meantime diminished daily,
though he could not guess whether she really viewed his course as the
right one, or whether she forgave this as well as all other injuries in
the calm gentle state into which she had come, not greatly moved by
hope or fear, content alike to live or die.

Richard, in much anxiety, was to remain another day or two at
Fotheringhay, on the plea of his wearied horses and of the Sunday rest.

Meantime Mary diligently wrote the conditions, but perhaps more to
satisfy her daughter than with much hope of their acceptance.



"Yea, madam, they are gone!  They stole away at once, and are far on
the way to Fotheringhay, with these same conditions."  So spoke
Davison, under-secretary, Walsingham being still indisposed.

"And therefore will I see whether the Queen of Scots will ratify them,
ere I go farther in the matter," returned Elizabeth.

"She will ratify them without question," said the Secretary,
ironically, "seeing that to escape into the hands of one of your
Majesty's enemies is just what she desires."

"She leaves her daughter as a pledge."

"Yea, a piece of tinsel to delude your Majesty."

Elizabeth swore an oath that there was truth in every word and gesture
of the maiden.

"The poor wench may believe all she said herself," said Davison. "Nay,
she is as much deluded as the rest, and so is that honest, dull-pated
sailor, Talbot.  If your Majesty will permit me to call in a fellow I
have here, I can make all plain."

"Who is he?  You know I cannot abide those foul carrion rascals you
make use of," said Elizabeth, with an air of disgust.

"This man is gentleman born.  Villain he may be, but there is naught to
offend your Majesty in him.  He is one Langston, a kinsman of this
Talbot's; and having once been a Papist, but now having seen the error
of his ways, he did good service in the unwinding of the late horrible

"Well, if no other way will serve you but I must hear the fellow, have
him in."

A neatly-dressed, small, elderly man, entirely arrayed in black, was
called in, and knelt most humbly before the Queen.  Being bidden to
tell what he knew respecting the lady who had appeared before the Queen
the day before, calling herself Bride Hepburn, he returned for answer
that he believed it to be verily her name, but that she was the
daughter of a man who had fled to France, and become an archer of the
Scottish guard.

He told how he had been at Hull when the infant had been saved from the
wreck, and brought home to Mistress Susan Talbot, who left the place
the next day, and had, he understood, bred up the child as her own.  He
himself, being then, as he confessed, led astray by the delusions of
Popery, had much commerce with the Queen's party, and had learnt from
some of the garrison of Dunfermline that the child on board the lost
ship was the offspring of this same Hepburn, and of one of Queen Mary's
many namesake kindred, who had died in childbirth at Lochleven.  And
now Langston professed bitterly to regret what he had done when, in his
disguise at Buxton, he had made known to some of Mary's suite that the
supposed Cicely Talbot was of their country and kindred.  She had been
immediately made a great favourite by the Queen of Scots, and the
attendants all knew who she really was, though she still went by the
name of Talbot.  He imagined that the Queen of Scots, whose charms were
not so imperishable as those which dazzled his eyes at this moment,
wanted a fresh bait for her victims, since she herself was growing old,
and thus had actually succeeded in binding Babington to her service,
though even then the girl was puffed up with notions of her own
importance and had flouted him. And now, all other hope having
vanished, Queen Mary's last and ablest resource had been to possess the
poor maiden with an idea of being actually her own child, and then to
work on her filial obedience to offer herself as a hostage, whom Mary
herself could without scruple leave to her fate, so soon as she was
ready to head an army of invaders.

Davison further added that the Secretary Nau could corroborate that
Bride Hepburn was known to the suite as a kinswoman of the Queen, and
that Mr. Cavendish, clerk to Sir Francis Walsingham, knew that
Babington had been suitor to the young lady, and had crossed swords
with young Talbot on her account.

Elizabeth listened, and made no comment at the time, save that she
sharply questioned Langston; but his tale was perfectly coherent, and
as it threw the onus of the deception entirely on Mary, it did not
conflict either with the sincerity evident in both Cicely and her
foster-father, or with the credentials supplied by the Queen of Scots.
Of the ciphered letter, and of the monograms, Elizabeth had never
heard, though, if she had asked for further proof, they would have been
brought forward.

She heard all, dismissed Langston, and with some petulance bade Davison
likewise begone, being aware that her ministers meant her to draw the
moral that she had involved herself in difficulties by holding a
private audience of the French Ambassadors without their knowledge or
presence.  It may be that the very sense of having been touched
exasperated her the more.  She paced up and down the room restlessly,
and her ladies heard her muttering--"That she should cheat me thus!  I
have pitied her often; I will pity her no more!  To breed up that poor
child to be palmed on me!  I will make an end of it; I can endure this
no longer!  These tossings to and fro are more than I can bear, and all
for one who is false, false, false, false! My brain will bear no more.
Hap what hap, an end must be made of it. She or I, she or I must die;
and which is best for England and the faith?  That girl had well-nigh
made me pity her, and it was all a vile cheat!"

Thus it was that Elizabeth sent for Davison, and bade him bring the
warrant with him.

And thus it was that in the midst of dinner in the hall, on the Sunday,
the 5th of February, the meine of the Castle were startled by the
arrival of Mr. Beale, the Clerk of the Council, always a bird of
sinister omen, and accompanied by a still more alarming figure a strong
burly man clad in black velvet from head to foot.  Every one knew who
he was, and a thrill of dismay, that what had been so long expected had
come at last, went through all who saw him pass through the hall.  Sir
Amias was summoned from table, and remained in conference with the two
arrivals all through evening chapel time--an event in itself
extraordinary enough to excite general anxiety.  It was Humfrey's turn
to be on guard, and he had not long taken his station before he was
called into the Queen's apartments, where she sat at the foot of her
bed, in a large chair with a small table before her.  No one was with
her but her two mediciners, Bourgoin and Gorion.

"Here," she said, "is the list our good Doctor has writ of the herbs he
requires for my threatened attack of rheumatism."

"I will endeavour, with Sir Amias's permission, to seek them in the
park," said Humfrey.

"But tell me," said Mary, fixing her clear eyes upon him, "tell me
truly.  Is there not a surer and more lasting cure for all my ills in
preparation?  Who was it who arrived to-night?"

"Madame," said Humfrey, bowing his head low as he knelt on one knee,
"it was Mr. Beale."

"Ay, and who besides?"

"Madam, I heard no name, but"--as she waited for him to speak further,
he uttered in a choked voice--"it was one clad in black."

"I perceive," said Mary, looking up with a smile.  "A more effectual
Doctor than you, my good Bourgoin.  I thank my God and my cousin
Elizabeth for giving me the martyr's hope at the close of the most
mournful life that ever woman lived.  Nay, leave me not as yet, good
Humfrey.  I have somewhat to say unto thee.  I have a charge for thee."
Something in her tone led him to look up earnestly in her face.  "Thou
lovest my child, I think," she added.

The young man's voice was scarcely heard, and he only said, "Yea,
madam;" but there was an intensity in the tone and eyes which went to
her heart.

"Thou dost not speak, but thou canst do.  Wilt thou take her, Humfrey,
and with her, all the inheritance of peril and sorrow that dogs our
unhappy race?"

"Oh"--and there was a mighty sob that almost cut off his voice--"My
life is already hers, and would be spent in her service wherever,
whatever she was."

"I guessed it," said the Queen, letting her hand rest on his shoulder.
"And for her thou wilt endure, if needful, suspicion, danger, exile?"

"They will be welcome, so I may shield her."

"I trust thee," she said, and she took his firm strong hand into her
own white wasted one.  "But will thy father consent?  Thou art his
eldest son and heir."

"He loves her like his own daughter.  My brother may have the lands."

"'Tis strange," said Mary, "that in wedding a princess, 'tis no crown,
no kingdom, that is set before thee, only the loss of thine own
inheritance.  For now that the poor child has made herself known to
Elizabeth, there will be no safety for her between these seas.  I have
considered it well.  I had thought of sending her abroad with my French
servants, and making her known to my kindred there.  That would have
been well if she could have accepted the true faith, or if--if her
heart had not been thine; but to have sent her as she is would only
expose her to persecution, and she hath not the mounting spirit that
would cast aside love for the sake of rising.  She lived too long with
thy mother to be aught save a homely Cis.  I would have made a princess
of her, but it passes my powers.  Nay, the question is, whether it may
yet be possible to prevent the Queen from laying hands on her."

"My father is still here," said Humfrey, "and I deem not that any
orders have come respecting her.  Might not he crave permission to take
her home, that is, if she will leave your Grace?"

"I will lay my commands on her!  It is well thought of," said the
Queen.  "How soon canst thou have speech with him?"

"He is very like to come to my post," said Humfrey, "and then we can
walk the gallery and talk unheard."

"It is well.  Let him make his demand, and I will have her ready to
depart as early as may be to-morrow morn.  Bourgoin, I would ask thee
to call the maiden hither."

Cicely appeared from the apartment where she had been sitting with the
other ladies.

"Child," said the Queen, as she came in, "is thy mind set on wedding an

"Marriage is not for me, madam," said Cicely, perplexed and shaken by
this strange address and by Humfrey's presence.

"Nay, didst not once tell me of a betrothal now many years ago?  What
wouldst say if thine own mother were to ratify it?"

"Ah! madam," said Cicely, blushing crimson however, "but I pledged
myself never to wed save with Queen Elizabeth's consent."

"On one condition," said the Queen.  "But if that condition were not
observed by the other party--"

"How--what, mother!" exclaimed Cicely, with a scream.  "There is no
fear--Humfrey, have you heard aught?"

"Nothing is certain," said Mary, calmly.  "I ask thee not to break thy
word.  I ask thee, if thou wert free to marry, if thou wouldst be an
Austrian or Lorraine duchess, or content thee with an honest English
youth whose plighted word is more precious to him than gold."

"O mother, how can you ask?" said Cicely, dropping down, and hiding her
face in the Queen's lap.

"Then, Humfrey Talbot, I give her to thee, my child, my Bride of
Scotland.  Thou wilt guard her, and shield her, and for thine own sake
as well as hers, save her from the wrath and jealousy of Elizabeth.
Hark, hark!  Rise, my child.  They are presenting arms. We shall have
Paulett in anon to convey my rere-supper."

They had only just time to compose themselves before Paulett came in,
looking, as they all thought, grimmer and more starched than ever, and
not well pleased to find Humfrey there, but the Queen was equal to the

"Here is Dr. Bourgoin's list of the herbs that he needs to ease my
aches," she said.  "Master Talbot is so good as to say that, being
properly instructed, he will go in search of them."

"They will not be needed," said Paulett, but he spoke no farther to the
Queen.  Outside, however, he said to Humfrey, "Young man, you do not
well to waste the Sabbath evening in converse with that blinded woman;"
and meeting Mr. Talbot himself on the stair, he said, "You are going in
quest of your son, sir.  You would do wisely to admonish him that he
will bring himself into suspicion, if not worse, by loitering amid the
snares and wiles of the woman whom wrath is even now overtaking."

Richard found his son pacing the gallery, almost choked with agitation,
and with the endeavour to conceal it from the two stolid, heavy yeomen
who dozed behind the screen.  Not till he had reached the extreme end
did Humfrey master his voice enough to utter in his father's ear, "She
has given her to me!"

Richard could not answer for a moment, then he said, "I fear me it will
be thy ruin, Humfrey."

"Not ruin in love or faithfulness," said the youth.  "Father, you know
I should everywhere have followed her and watched over her, even to the
death, even if she could never have been mine."

"I trow thou wouldst," said Richard.

"Nor would you have it otherwise--your child, your only daughter, to be
left unguarded."

"Nay, I know not that I would," said Richard.  "I cannot but care for
the poor maid like mine own, and I would not have thee less
true-hearted, Humfrey, even though it cost thee thine home, and us our
eldest son."

"You have Diccon and Ned," said Humfrey.  And then he told what had
passed, and his father observed that Beale had evidently no knowledge
of Cicely's conference with the Queen, and apparently no orders to
seize her.  It had oozed out that a commission had been sent to five
noblemen to come and superintend the execution, since Sir Amias Paulett
had again refused to let it take place without witnesses, and Richard
undertook to apply at once to Sir Amias for permission to remove his
daughter, on the ground of saving her tender youth from the shock.

"Then," said he, "I will leave a token at Nottingham where I have taken
her; whether home or at once to Hull.  If I leave Brown Roundle at the
inn for thee, then come home; but if it be White Blossom, then come to
Hull.  It will be best that thou dost not know while here, and I cannot
go direct to Hull, because the fens at this season may not be fit for
riding.  Heatherthwayte will need no proofs to convince him that she is
not thy sister, and can wed you at once, and you will also be able to
embark in case there be any endeavour to arrest her."

"Taking service in Holland," said Humfrey, "until there may be safety
in returning to England."

Richard sighed.  The risk and sacrifice were great, and it was to him
like the loss of two children, but the die was cast; Humfrey never
could be other than Cicely's devoted champion and guardian, and it was
better that it should be as her husband.  So he repaired to Sir Amias,
and told him that he desired not to expose his daughter's tender years
and feeble spirits to the sight of the Queen's death, and claimed
permission to take her away with him the next day, saying that the
permission of the Queen had already been granted through his son, whom
he would gladly also take with him.

Paulett hemmed and hawed.  He thought it a great error in Mr. Talbot to
avoid letting his daughter be edified by a spectacle that might go far
to moderate the contagion of intercourse with so obstinate a Papist and
deceiver.  Being of pitiless mould himself, he was incapable of
appreciating Richard's observation that compassion would only increase
her devotion to the unfortunate lady.  He would not, or could not, part
with Humfrey.  He said that there would be such a turmoil and concourse
that the services of the captain of his yeomen would be indispensable,
but that he himself, and all the rest, would be free on the Thursday at

Mr. Talbot's desire to be away was a surprise to him, for he was in
difficulties how, even in that enormous hall, to dispose of all who
claimed by right or by favour to witness what he called the tardy
fulfilment of judgment.  Yet though he thought it a weakness, he did
not refuse, and ere night Mr. Talbot was able to send formal word that
the horses would be ready for Mistress Cicely at break of day the next

The message was transmitted through the ladies as the Queen sat writing
at her table, and she at once gave orders to Elizabeth Curll to prepare
the cloak bag with necessaries for the journey.

Cicely cried out, "O madam my mother, do not send me from you!"

"There is no help for it, little one.  It is the only hope of safety or
happiness for thee."

"But I pledged myself to await Queen Elizabeth's reply here!"

"She has replied," said Mary.

"How?" cried Cicely.  "Methought your letter confirming mine offers had
not yet been sent."

"It hath not, but she hath made known to me that she rejects thy terms,
my poor maid."

"Is there then no hope?" said the girl, under her breath, which came
short with dismay.

"Hope! yea," said Mary, with a ray of brightness on her face, "but not
earthly hope.  That is over, and I am more at rest and peace than I can
remember to have been since I was a babe at my mother's knee. But,
little one, I must preserve thee for thine Humfrey and for happiness,
and so thou must be gone ere the hounds be on thy track."

"Never, mother, I cannot leave you.  You bid no one else to go!" said
Cis, clinging to her with a face bathed in tears.

"No one else is imperilled by remaining as thy bold venture has
imperilled thee, my sweet maid.  Think, child, how fears for thee would
disturb my spirit, when I would fain commune only with Heaven. Seest
thou not that to lose thy dear presence for the few days left to me
will be far better for me than to be rent with anxiety for thee, and it
may be to see thee snatched from me by these stern, harsh men?"

"To quit you now!  It is unnatural!  I cannot."

"You will go, child.  As Queen and as mother alike, I lay my commands
on you.  Let not the last, almost the only commands I ever gave thee be
transgressed, and waste not these last hours in a vain strife."

She spoke with an authority against which Cis had no appeal, save by
holding her hand tight and covering it with kisses and tears.  Mary
presently released her hand and went on writing, giving her a little
time to restrain her agony of bitter weeping.  The first words spoken
were, "I shall not name thee in my will, nor recommend thee to thy
brother.  It would only bring on thee suspicion and danger.  Here,
however, is a letter giving full evidence of thy birth, and mentioning
the various witnesses who can attest it.  I shall leave the like with
Melville, but it will be for thy happiness and safety if it never see
the light.  Should thy brother die without heirs, then it might be thy
duty to come forward and stretch out thy hand for these two crowns,
which have more thorns than jewels in them. Alas! would that I could
dare to hope they might be exchanged for a crown of stars!  But lie
down on the bed, my bairnie.  I have much still to do, and thou hast a
long journey before thee."

Cicely would fain have resisted, but was forced to obey, though
protesting that she should not sleep; and she lay awake for a long time
watching the Queen writing, until unawares slumber overpowered her
eyes.  When she awoke, the Queen was standing over her saying, "It is
time thou wert astir, little one!"

"Oh! and have I lost all these hours of you?" cried Cicely, as her
senses awoke to the remembrance of the situation of affairs. "Mother,
why did you not let me watch with you?"

Mary only smiled and kissed her brow.  The time went by in the
preparations, in all of which the Queen took an active part.  Her money
and jewels had been restored to her by Elizabeth's orders during her
daughter's absence, and she had put twenty gold pieces in the silken
and pearl purse which she always used.  "More I may not give thee," she
said.  "I know not whether I shall be able to give my poor faithful
servants enough to carry them to their homes.  This thou must have to
provide thee.  And for my jewels, they should be all thine by right,
but the more valuable ones, which bear tokens, might only bring thee
under suspicion, poor child."

She wished Cicely to choose among them, but the poor girl had no heart
for choice, and the Queen herself put in her hand a small case
containing a few which were unobtrusive, yet well known to her, and
among them a ring with the Hepburn arms, given by Bothwell.  She also
showed her a gold chain which she meant to give to Humfrey.  In this
manner time passed, till a message came in that Master Richard Talbot
was ready.

"Who brought it?" asked the Queen, and when she heard that it was
Humfrey himself who was at the door, she bade him be called in.

"Children," she said, "we were interrupted last night.  Let me see you
give your betrothal kiss, and bless you."

"One word, my mother," said Cicely.  "Humfrey will not bear me ill-will
if I say that while there can still be any hope that Queen Elizabeth
will accept me for her prisoner in your stead, I neither can nor ought
to wed him."

"Thou mayst safely accept the condition, my son," said Mary.

"Then if these messengers should come to conduct my mother abroad, and
to take me as her hostage, Humfrey will know where to find me."

"Yea, thou art a good child to the last, my little one," said Mary.

"You promise, Humfrey?" said Cicely.

"I do," he said, knowing as well as the Queen how little chance there
was that he would be called on to fulfil it, but feeling that the agony
of the parting was thus in some degree softened to Cicely.

Mary gave the betrothal ring to Humfrey, and she laid her hands on
their clasped ones.  "My daughter and my son," she said, "I leave you
my blessing.  If filial love and unshaken truth can bring down
blessings from above, they will be yours.  Think of your mother in
times to come as one who hath erred, but suffered and repented.  If
your Church permits you, pray often for her.  Remember, when you hear
her blamed, that in the glare of courts, she had none to breed her up
in godly fear and simple truth like your good mother at Bridgefield,
but that she learnt to think what you view in the light of deadly sin
as the mere lawful instruments of government, above all for the weaker.
Condemn her not utterly, but pray, pray with all your hearts that her
God and Saviour will accept her penitence, and unite her sufferings
with those of her Lord, since He has done her the grace of letting her
die in part for His Church.  Now," she added, kissing each brow, and
then holding her daughter in her embrace, "take her away, Humfrey, and
let me turn my soul from all earthly loves and cares!"



Master Talbot had done considerately in arranging that Cicely should at
least begin her journey on a pillion behind himself, for her anguish of
suppressed weeping unfitted her to guide a horse, and would have
attracted the attention of any serving-man behind whom he could have
placed her, whereas she could lay her head against his shoulder, and
feel a kind of dreary repose there.

He would have gone by the more direct way to Hull, through Lincoln, but
that he feared that February Filldyke would have rendered the fens
impassable, so he directed his course more to the north-west. Cicely
was silent, crushed, but more capable of riding than of anything else;
in fact, the air and motion seemed to give her a certain relief.

He meant to halt for the night at a large inn at Nottingham.  There was
much stir in the court, and it seemed to be full of the train of some
great noble.  Richard knew not whether to be glad or sorry when he
perceived the Shrewsbury colours and the silver mastiff badge, and was
greeted by a cry of "Master Richard of Bridgefield!"  Two or three
retainers of higher degree came round him as he rode into the yard,
and, while demanding his news, communicated their own, that my Lord was
on his way to Fotheringhay to preside at the execution of the Queen of

He could feel Cicely's shudder as he lifted her off her horse, and he
replied repressively, "I am bringing my daughter from thence."

"Come in and see my Lord," said the gentleman.  "He is a woeful man at
the work that is put on him."

Lord Shrewsbury did indeed look sad, almost broken, as he held out his
hand to Richard, and said,  "This is a piteous errand, cousin, on which
I am bound.  And thou, my young kinswoman, thou didst not succeed with
her Majesty!"

"She is sick with grief and weariness," said Richard.  "I would fain
take her to her chamber."

The evident intimacy of the new-comers with so great a personage as my
Lord procured for them better accommodation than they might otherwise
have had, and Richard obtained for Cicely a tiny closet within the room
where he was himself to sleep.  He even contrived that she should be
served alone, partly by himself, partly by the hostess, a kind motherly
woman, to whom he committed her, while he supped with the Earl, and was
afterwards called into his sleeping chamber to tell him of his
endeavours at treating with Lord and Lady Talbot, and also to hear his
lamentations over the business he had been sent upon.  He had actually
offered to make over his office as Earl Marshal to Burghley for the
nonce, but as he said, "that of all the nobles in England, such work
should fall to the lot of him, who had been for fourteen years the poor
lady's host, and knew her admirable patience and sweet conditions, was
truly hard."

Moreover, he was joined in the commission with the Earl of Kent, a sour
Puritan, who would rejoice in making her drink to the dregs of the cup
of bitterness!  He was sick at heart with the thought. Richard
represented that he would, at least, be able to give what comfort could
be derived from mildness and compassion.

"Not I, not I!" said the poor man, always weak.  "Not with those harsh
yoke-fellows Kent and Paulett to drive me on, and that viper Beale to
report to the Privy Council any strain of mercy as mere treason.  What
can I do?"

"You would do much, my Lord, if you would move them to restore--for
these last hours--to her those faithful servants, Melville and De
Preaux, whom Paulett hath seen fit to seclude from her.  It is rank
cruelty to let her die without the sacraments of her Church when her
conscience will not let her accept ours."

"It is true, Richard, over true.  I will do what I can, but I doubt me
whether I shall prevail, where Paulett looks on a Mass as mere
idolatry, and will not brook that it should be offered in his house.
But come you back with me, kinsman.  We will send old Master Purvis to
take your daughter safely home."

Richard of course refused, and at the same time, thinking an
explanation necessary and due to the Earl, disclosed to him that Cicely
was no child of his, but a near kinswoman of the Scottish Queen, whom
it was desirable to place out of Queen Elizabeth's reach for the
present, adding that there had been love passages between her and his
son Humfrey, who intended to wed her and see some foreign service.
Lord Shrewsbury showed at first some offence at having been kept in
ignorance all these years of such a fact, and wondered what his
Countess would say, marvelled too that his cousin should consent to his
son's throwing himself away on a mere stranger, of perilous connection,
and going off to foreign wars; but the good nobleman was a placable
man, and always considerably influenced by the person who addressed
him, and he ended by placing the Mastiff at Richard's disposal to take
the young people to Scotland or Holland, or wherever they might wish to

This decided Mr. Talbot on making at once for the seaport; and
accordingly he left behind him the horse, which was to serve as a token
to his son that such was his course.  Cicely had been worn out with her
day's journey, and slept late and sound, so that she was not ready to
leave her chamber till the Earl and his retinue were gone, and thus she
was spared actual contact with him who was to doom her mother, and see
that doom carried out.  She was recruited by rest, and more ready to
talk than on the previous day, but she was greatly disappointed to find
that she might not be taken to Bridgefield.

"If I could only be with Mother Susan for one hour," she sighed.

"Would that thou couldst, my poor maid," said Richard.  "The mother
hath the trick of comfort."

"'Twas not comfort I thought of.  None can give me that," said the poor
girl; "but she would teach me how to be a good wife to Humfrey."

These words were a satisfaction to Richard, who had begun to feel
somewhat jealous for his son's sake, and to doubt whether the girl's
affection rose to the point of requiting the great sacrifice made for
his sake, though truly in those days parents were not wont to be
solicitous as to the mutual attachment between a betrothed pair.
However, Cicely's absolute resignation of herself and her fate into
Humfrey's hands, without even a question, and with entire confidence
and peace, was evidence enough that her heart was entirely his; nay,
had been his throughout all the little flights of ambition now so
entirely passed away, without apparently a thought on her part.

It was on the Friday forenoon, a day very unlike their last entrance
into Hull, that they again entered the old town, in the brightness of a
crisp frost; but poor Cicely could not but contrast her hopeful mood of
November with her present overwhelming sorrow, where, however, there
was one drop of sweetness.  Her foster-father took her again to good
Mr. Heatherthwayte's, according to the previous invitation, and was
rejoiced to see that the joyous welcome of Oil-of-Gladness awoke a
smile; and the little girl, being well trained in soberness and
discretion, did not obtrude upon her grief.

Stern Puritan as he was, the minister himself contained his
satisfaction that the Papist woman was to die and never reign over
England until he was out of hearing of the pale maiden who had--strange
as it seemed to him--loved her enough to be almost broken-hearted at
her death.

Richard saw Goatley and set him to prepare the Mastiff for an immediate
voyage.  Her crew, somewhat like those of a few modern yachts, were
permanently attached to her, and lived in the neighbourhood of the
wharf, so that, under the personal superintendence of one who was as
much loved and looked up to as Captain Talbot, all was soon in a state
of forwardness, and Gillingham made himself very useful.  When darkness
put a stop to the work and supper was being made ready, Richard found
time to explain matters to Mr. Heatherthwayte, for his honourable mind
would not permit him to ask his host unawares to perform an office that
might possibly be construed as treasonable.  In spite of the
preparation which he had already received through Colet's
communications, the minister's wonder was extreme.  "Daughter to the
Queen of Scots, say you, sir!   Yonder modest, shamefast maiden, of
such seemly carriage and gentle speech?"

Richard smiled and said--"My good friend, had you seen that poor
lady--to whom God be merciful--as I have done, you would know that what
is sweetest in our Cicely's outward woman is derived from her; for the
inner graces, I cannot but trace them to mine own good wife."

Mr. Heatherthwayte seemed at first hardly to hear him, so overpowered
was he with the notion that the daughter of her, whom he was in the
habit of classing with Athaliah and Herodias, was in his house, resting
on the innocent pillow of Oil-of-Gladness.  He made his guest recount
to him the steps by which the discovery had been made, and at last
seemed to embrace the idea.  Then he asked whether Master Talbot were
about to carry the young lady to the protection of her brother in
Scotland; and when the answer was that it might be poor protection even
if conferred, and that by all accounts the Court of Scotland was by no
means a place in which to leave a lonely damsel with no faithful
guardian, the minister asked--

"How then will you bestow the maiden?"

"In that, sir, I came to ask you to aid me.  My son Humfrey is
following on our steps, leaving Fotheringhay so soon as his charge
there is ended; and I ask of you to wed him to the maid, whom we will
then take to Holland, when he will take service with the States."

The amazement of the clergyman was redoubled, and he began at first to
plead with Richard that a perilous overleaping ambition was leading him
thus to mate his son with an evil, though a royal, race.

At this Richard smiled and shook his head, pointing out that the very
last thing any of them desired was that Cicely's birth should be known;
and that even if it were, her mother's marriage was very questionable.
It was no ambition, he said, that actuated his son, "But you saw
yourself how, nineteen years ago, the little lad welcomed her as his
little sister come back to him.  That love hath grown up with him.
When, at fifteen years old, he learnt that she was a nameless stranger,
his first cry was that he would wed her and give her his name.  Never
hath his love faltered; and even when this misfortune of her rank was
known, and he lost all hope of gaining her, while her mother bade her
renounce him, his purpose was even still to watch over and guard her;
and at the end, beyond all our expectations, they have had her mother's
dying blessing and entreaty that he would take her."

"Sir, do you give me your word for that?"

"Yea, Master Heatherthwayte, as I am a true man.  Mind you, worldly
matters look as different to a poor woman who knoweth the headsman is
in the house, as to one who hath her head on her dying pillow.  This
Queen had devised plans for sending our poor Cis abroad to her French
and Lorraine kindred, with some of the French ladies of her train."

"Heaven forbid!" broke out Heatherthwayte, in horror.  "The rankest of

"Even so, and with recommendations to give her in marriage to some
adventurous prince whom the Spaniards might abet in working woe to us
in her name.  But when she saw how staunch the child is in believing as
mine own good dame taught her, she saw, no doubt, that this would be
mere giving her over to be persecuted and mewed in a convent."

"Then the woman hath some bowels of mercy, though a Papist."

"She even saith that she doubteth not that such as live honestly and
faithfully by the light that is in them shall be saved.  So when she
saw she prevailed nothing with the maid, she left off her endeavours.
Moreover, my son not only saved her life, but won her regard by his
faith and honour; and she called him to her, and even besought him to
be her daughter's husband.  I came to you, reverend sir, as one who has
known from the first that the young folk are no kin to one another; and
as I think the peril to you is small, I deemed that you would do them
this office.  Otherwise, I must take her to Holland and see them wedded
by a stranger there."

Mr. Heatherthwayte was somewhat touched, but he sat and considered,
perceiving that to marry the young lady to a loyal Englishman was the
safest way of hindering her from falling into the clutches of a Popish
prince; but he still demurred, and asked how Mr. Talbot could talk of
the mere folly of love, and for its sake let his eldest son and heir
become a mere exile and fugitive, cut off, it might be, from home.

"For that matter, sir," said Richard, "my son is not one to loiter
about, as the lubberly heir, cumbering the land at home.  He would, so
long as I am spared in health and strength, be doing service by land or
sea, and I trust that by the time he is needed at home, all this may be
so forgotten that Cis may return safely.  The maid hath been our child
too long for us to risk her alone.  And for such love being weak and
foolish, surely, sir, it was the voice of One greater than you or I
that bade a man leave his father and mother and cleave unto his wife."

Mr. Heatherthwayte still murmured something about "youth" and "lightly
undertaken," and Master Talbot observed, with a smile, that when he had
seen Humfrey he might judge as to the lightness of purpose.

Richard meanwhile was watching somewhat anxiously for the arrival of
his son, who, he had reckoned, would make so much more speed than was
possible for Cis, that he might have almost overtaken them, if the
fatal business had not been delayed longer than he had seen reason to
anticipate.  However, these last words had not long been out of his
mouth when a man's footsteps, eager, yet with a tired sound and with
the clank of spurs, came along the paved way outside, and there was a
knock at the door.  Some one else had been watching; for, as the street
door was opened, Cicely sprang forward as Humfrey held out his arms;
then, as she rested against his breast, he said, so that she alone
could hear, "Her last words to me were, 'Give her my love and blessing,
and tell her my joy is come--such joy as I never knew before.'"

Then they knew the deed was done, and Richard said, "God have mercy on
her soul!"  Nor did Mr. Heatherthwayte rebuke him.  Indeed there was no
time, for Humfrey exclaimed, "She is swooning."  He gathered her in his
arms, and carried her where they lighted him, laying her on Oil's
little bed, but she was not entirely unconscious, and rallied her
senses so as to give him a reassuring look, not quite a smile, and yet
wondrously sweet, even in the eyes of others.  Then, as the lamp
flashed on his figure, she sprang to her feet, all else forgotten in
the exclamation.

"O Humfrey, thou art hurt!  What is it?  Sit thee down."

They then saw that his face was, indeed, very pale and jaded, and that
his dress was muddied from head to foot, and in some places there were
marks of blood; but as she almost pushed him down on the chest beside
the bed, he said, in a voice hoarse and sunk, betraying weariness--

"Naught, naught, Cis; only my beast fell with me going down a hill, and
lamed himself, so that I had to lead him the last four or five miles.
Moreover, this cut on my hand must needs break forth bleeding more than
I knew in the dark, or I had not frighted thee by coming in such sorry
plight," and he in his turn gazed reassuringly into her eyes as she
stood over him, anxiously examining, as if she scarce durst trust him,
that if stiff and bruised at all, it mattered not. Then she begged a
cup of wine for him, and sent Oil for water and linen, and Humfrey had
to abandon his hand to her, to be cleansed and bound up, neither of
them uttering a word more than needful, as she knelt by the chest
performing this work with skilful hands, though there was now and then
a tremor over her whole frame.

"Now, dear maid," said Richard, "thou must let him come with us and don
some dry garments: then shalt thou see him again."

"Rest and food--he needs them," said Cis, in a voice weak and
tremulous, though the self-restraint of her princely nature strove to
control it.  "Take him, father; methinks I cannot hear more to-night.
He will tell me all when we are away together.  I would be alone, and
in the dark; I know he is come, and you are caring for him.  That is
enough, and I can still thank God."

Her face quivered, and she turned away; nor did Humfrey dare to shake
her further by another demonstration, but stumbled after his father to
the minister's chamber, where some incongruous clerical attire had been
provided for him, since he disdained the offer of supping in bed.

Mr. Heatherthwayte was much struck with the undemonstrativeness of
their meeting, for there was high esteem for austerity in the Puritan
world, in contrast to the utter want of self-restraint shown by the
more secular characters.

When Humfrey presently made his appearance with his father's cloak
wrapped over the minister's clean shirt and nether garments, Richard
said, "Son Humfrey, this good gentleman who baptized our Cis would fain
be certain that there is no lightness of purpose in this thy design."

"Nay, nay, Mr. Talbot," broke in the minister, "I spake ere I had seen
this gentleman.  From what I have now beheld, I have no doubts that be
she who she may, it is a marriage made and blessed in heaven."

"I thank you, sir," said Humfrey, gravely; "it is my one hope

They spoke no more till he had eaten, for he was much spent, having
never rested more than a couple of hours, and not slept at all since
leaving Fotheringhay.  He had understood by the colour of the horse
left at Nottingham which road to take, and at the hostel at Hull had
encountered Gillingham, who directed him on to Mr. Heatherthwayte's.

What he brought himself to tell of the last scene at Fotheringhay has
been mostly recorded by history, and need not here be dwelt upon. When
Bourgoin and Melville fell back, unable to support their mistress along
the hall to the scaffold, the Queen had said to him, "Thou wilt do me
this last service," and had leant on his arm along the crowded hall,
and had taken that moment to speak those last words for Cicely.  She
had blessed James openly, and declared her trust that he would find
salvation if he lived well and sincerely in the faith he had chosen.
With him she had secretly blessed her other child.

Humfrey was much shaken and could hardly command his voice to answer
the questions of Master Heatherthwayte, but he so replied to them that,
one by one, the phrases and turns were relinquished which the worthy
man had prepared for a Sunday's sermon on "Go see now this accursed
woman and bury her, for she is a king's daughter," and he even began to
consider of choosing for his text something that would bid his
congregation not to judge after the sight of their eyes, nor condemn
after the hearing of their ears.

When Humfrey had eaten and drunk, and the ruddy hue was returning to
his cheek, Mr. Heatherthwayte discovered that he must speak with his
churchwarden that night.  Probably the pleasure of communicating the
tidings that the deed was accomplished added force to the consideration
that the father and son would rather be alone together, for he lighted
his lantern with alacrity, and carried off Dust-and-Ashes with him.

Then Humfrey had more to tell which brooked no delay.  On the day after
the departure of his father and Cicely, Will Cavendish had arrived, and
Humfrey had been desired to demand from the prisoner an immediate
audience for that gentleman.  Mary had said, "This is anent the child.
Call him in, Humfrey," and as Cavendish had passed the guard he had
struck his old comrade on the shoulder and observed, "What gulls we
have at Hallamshire."

He had come out from his conference fuming, and desiring to hear from
Humfrey whether he were aware of the imposture that had been put on the
Queen and upon them all, and to which yonder stubborn woman still chose
to cleave--little Cis Talbot supposing herself a queen's daughter, and
they all, even grave Master Richard, being duped.  It was too much for
Will!  A gentleman, so nearly connected with the Privy Council, was not
to be deceived like these simple soldiers and sailors, though it suited
Queen Mary's purposes to declare the maid to be in sooth her daughter,
and to refuse to disown her.  He supposed it was to embroil England for
the future that she left such a seed of mischief.

And old Paulett had been fool enough to let the girl leave the Castle,
whereas Cavendish's orders had been to be as secret as possible lest
the mischievous suspicion of the existence of such a person should
spread, but to arrest her and bring her to London as soon as the
execution should be over; when, as he said, no harm would happen to her
provided she would give up the pretensions with which she had been

"It would have been safer for you both," said poor Queen Mary to
Humfrey afterwards, "if I had denied her, but I could not disown my
poor child, or prevent her from yet claiming royal rights.  Moreover, I
have learnt enough of you Talbots to know that you would not owe your
safety to falsehood from a dying woman."

But Will's conceit might be quite as effectual.  He was under orders to
communicate the matter to no one not already aware of it, and as above
all things he desired to see the execution as the most memorable
spectacle he was likely to behold in his life, and he believed Cicely
to be safe at Bridgefield, he thought it unnecessary to take any
farther steps until that should be over.  Humfrey had listened to all
with what countenance he might, and gave as little sign as possible.

But when the tragedy had been consummated, and he had seen the fair
head fall, and himself withdrawn poor little Bijou from beneath his
dead mistress's garment, handing him to Jean Kennedy, he had--with
blood still curdling with horror--gone down to the stables, taken his
horse, and ridden away.

There would no doubt be pursuit so soon as Richard and Cicely were
found not to be at Bridgefield; but there was a space in which to act,
and Mr. Talbot at once said, "The Mastiff is well-nigh ready to sail.
Ye must be wedded to-morrow morn, and go on board without delay."

They judged it better not to speak of this to the poor bride in her
heavy grief; and Humfrey, having heard from their little hostess that
Mistress Cicely lay quite still, and sent him her loving greeting,
consented to avail himself of the hospitable minister's own bed,
hoping, as he confided to his father, that very weariness would hinder
him from seeing the block, the axe, and the convulsed face, that had
haunted him on the only previous time when he had tried to close his

Long before day Cicely heard her father's voice bidding her awake and
dress herself, and handing in a light.  The call was welcome, for it
had been a night of strange dreams and sadder wakenings to the sense
"it had come at last"--yet the one comfort, "Humfrey is near."  She
dressed herself in those plain black garments she had assumed in
London, and in due time came down to where her father awaited her. She
was pale, silent, and passive, and obeyed mechanically as he made her
take a little food.  She looked about as if for some one, and he said,
"Humfrey will meet us anon."  Then he himself put on her cloak, hood,
and muffler.  She was like one in a dream, never asking where they were
going, and thus they left the house.  There was light from a waning
moon, and by it he led her to the church.

It was a strange wedding in that morning moonlight streaming in at the
east window of that grand old church, and casting the shadows of the
columns and arches on the floor, only aided by one wax light, which, as
Mr. Heatherthwayte took care to protest, was not placed on the holy
table out of superstition, but because he could not see without it.
Indeed the table stood lengthways in the centre aisle, and would have
been bare, even of a white cloth, had not Richard begged for a
Communion for the young pair to speed them on their perilous way, and
Mr. Heatherthwayte--almost under protest--consented, since a sea voyage
and warlike service in a foreign land lay before them.  But, except
that he wore no surplice, he had resigned himself to Master Richard on
that most unnatural morning, and stifled his inmost sighs when he had
to pronounce the name Bride, given, not by himself, but by some Romish
priest--when the bridegroom, with the hand wounded for Queen Mary's
sake, gave a ruby ring, most unmistakably coming from that same
perilous quarter,--and above all when the pair and the father knelt in
deep reverence.  Yet their devotion was evidently so earnest and so
heartfelt that he knew not how to blame it, and he could not but bless
them with his whole heart as he walked down with them to the wharf.
All were silent, except that Cicely once paused and said she wanted to
speak to "Father."  He came to her side, and she took his arm instead
of Humfrey's.

"Sir," she said; "it has come to me that now my sweet mother is left
alone it would be no small joy to her, and of great service to our good
host's little daughter, if Oil-of-Gladness could take my place at home
for a year or two."

"None will do that, Cis; but there is much that would be well in the
notion, and I will consider of it.  She is a maid of good conditions,
and the mother is lonesome."

His consideration resulted in his making the proposal, much startling,
though greatly gratifying.  Master Heatherthwayte, who thanked him,
talked of his honour for that discreet and godly woman Mistress Susan,
and said he must ponder and pray upon it, and would reply when Mr.
Talbot returned from his voyage.

At the wharf lay the Mastiff's boat in charge of Gervas and Gillingham.
All three stepped into it together, the most silent bride and
bridegroom perhaps that the Humber had ever seen.  Only each of the
three wrung the hand of the good clergyman.  At that moment all the
bells in Hull broke forth with a joyous peal, which by the association
made the bride look up with a smile.  Her husband forced one in return;
but his father's eyes, which she could not see, filled with tears.  He
knew it was in exultation at her mother's death, and they hurried into
the boat lest she should catch the purport of the shouts that were
beginning to arise as the townsfolk awoke to the knowledge that their
enemy was dead.

The fires of Smithfield were in the remembrance of this generation. The
cities of Flanders were writhing under the Spanish yoke; "the richest
spoils of Mexico, the stoutest hearts of Spain," were already mustering
to reduce England to the condition of Antwerp or Haarlem; and only
Elizabeth's life had seemed to lie between them and her who was bound
by her religion to bring all this upon the peaceful land. No wonder
those who knew not the tissue of cruel deceits and treacheries that had
worked the final ruin of the captive, and believed her guilty of
fearful crimes, should have burst forth in a wild tumult of joy, such
as saddened even the Protestant soul of Mr. Heatherthwayte, as he
turned homewards after giving his blessing to the mournful young girl,
whom the boat was bearing over the muddy waters of the Hull.

They soon had her on board, but the preparations were hardly yet
complete, nor could the vessel make her way down the river until the
evening tide.  It was a bright clear day, and a seat on deck was
arranged for the lady, where she sat with Humfrey beside her, holding
her cloak round her, and telling her--strange theme for a bridal
day--all he thought well to tell her of those last hours, when Mary had
truly shown herself purified by her long patience, and exalted by the
hope that her death had in it somewhat of martyrdom.

His father meantime superintended the work of the crew, being extremely
anxious to lose no time, and to sail before night.  Mr.
Heatherthwayte's anxiety brought him on board again, for he wanted to
ask more questions about the Bridgefield doings ere beginning his
ponderings and his prayers respecting his decision for his little
daughter; nor had he taken his final leave when the anchor was at
length weighed, and the ship had passed by the strange old gables,
timbered houses, and open lofts, that bounded the harbour out from the
Hull river into the Humber itself, while both the Talbots breathed more
freely; but as the chill air of evening made itself felt, they
persuaded Cicely to let her husband take her down to her cabin.

It was at this moment, in the deepening twilight, that the ship was
hailed, and a boat came alongside, and there was a summons, "In the
Queen's name," and a slightly made lean figure in black came up the
side.  He was accompanied by a stout man, apparently a constable. There
was a moment's pause, then the new-comer said "Kinsman Talbot--"

"I count no kindred with betrayers, Cuthbert Langston," said Richard,
drawing himself up with folded arms.

"Scorn me not, Richard Talbot," was the reply; "you stood my friend
once when none other did so, and for that cause have I hindered much
hurt to you and yours.  But for me you had been in a London jail for
these three weeks past.  Nor do I come to do you evil now.  Give up the
wench, and your name shall never be brought forward, since the matter
is to be private.  Behold a warrant from the Council empowering me to
bring before them the person of Bride Hepburn, otherwise called Cicely

"Man of treacheries and violence," said Mr. Heatherthwayte, standing
forward, an imposing figure in his full black gown and white ruff, "go
back!  The lady is not for thy double-dealing, nor is there now any
such person as either Bride Hepburn or Cicely Talbot."

"I cry you mercy," sneered Langston.  "I see how it is!  I shall have
to bear your reverence likewise away for a treasonable act in
performing the office of matrimony for a person of royal blood without
consent of the Queen.  And your reverence knows the penalty."

At that instant there rang from the forecastle a never-to-be-forgotten
howl of triumphant hatred and fury, and with a spring like that of a
tiger, Gillingham bounded upon him with a shout, "Remember Babington!"
and grappled with him, dragging him backwards to the bulwark.  Richard
and the constable both tried to seize the fiercely struggling forms,
but in vain.  They were over the side in a moment, and there was a
heavy splash into the muddy waters of the Humber, thick with the
downcome of swollen rivers, thrown back by the flowing tide.

Humfrey came dashing up from below, demanding who was overboard, and
ready to leap to the rescue wherever any should point in the darkness,
but his father withheld him, nor, indeed, was there sound or eddy to be

"It is the manifest judgment of God," said Mr. Heatherthwayte, in a
low, awe-stricken voice.

But the constable cried aloud that a murder had been done in resisting
the Queen's warrant.

With a ready gesture the minister made Humfrey understand that he must
keep his wife in the cabin, and Richard at the same time called Mr.
Heatherthwayte and all present to witness that, murder as it
undoubtedly was, it had not been in resisting the Queen's warrant, but
in private revenge of the servant, Harry Gillingham, for his master
Babington, whom he believed to have been betrayed by this gentleman.

It appeared that the constable knew neither the name of the gentleman
nor whom the warrant mentioned.  He had only been summoned in the
Queen's name to come on board the Mastiff to assist in securing the
person of a young gentlewoman, but who she was, or why she was to be
arrested, the man did not know.  He saw no lady on deck, and he was by
no means disposed to make any search, and the presence of Master
Heatherthwayte likewise impressed him much with the belief that all was
right with the gentlemen.

Of course it would have been his duty to detain the Mastiff for an
inquiry into the matter, but the poor man was extremely ill at ease in
the vessel and among the retainers of my Lord of Shrewsbury; and in
point of fact, they might all have been concerned in a crime of much
deeper dye without his venturing to interfere.  He saw no one to
arrest, the warrant was lost, the murderer was dead, and he was
thankful enough to be returned to his boat with Master Richard Talbot's
assurance that it was probable that no inquiry would be made, but that
if it were, the pilot would be there to bear witness of his innocence,
and that he himself should return in a month at latest with the Mastiff.

Master Heatherthwayte consoled the constable further by saying he would
return in his boat, and speak for him if there were any inquiry after
the other passenger.

"I must speak my farewells here," he said, "and trust we shall have no
coil to meet you on your return, Master Richard."

"But for her," said Humfrey, "I could not let my father face it alone.
When she is in safety"--

"Tush, lad," said his father, "such plotters as yonder poor wretch had
become are not such choice prizes as to be inquired for.  Men are only
too glad to be rid of them when their foul work is done."

"So farewell, good Master Heatherthwayte," added Humfrey, "with thanks
for this day's work.  I have read of good and evil geniuses or angels,
be they which they may, haunting us for life, and striving for the
mastery.  Methinks my Cis hath found both on the same Humber which
brought her to us."

"Nay, go not forth with Pagan nor Popish follies on thy tongue, young
man," said Heatherthwayte, "but rather pray that the blessing of the
Holy One, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the God of thy father,
may be with thee and thine in this strange land, and bring thee safely
back in His own time.  And surely He will bless the faithful."

And Richard Talbot said Amen.



It was ten years later in the reign of Elizabeth, when James VI. was
under one of his many eclipses of favour, and when the united English
and Dutch fleets had been performing gallant exploits at Cadiz and
Tercera, that license for a few weeks' absence was requested for one of
the lieutenants in her Majesty's guard, Master Richard Talbot.

"And wherefore?" demanded the royal lady of Sir Walter Raleigh, the
captain of her guard, who made the request.

"To go to the Hague to look after his brother's widow and estate, so
please your Majesty; more's the pity," said Raleigh.

"His brother's widow?" repeated the Queen.

"Yea, madam.  For it may be feared that young Humfrey Talbot--I know
not whether your Majesty ever saw him--but he was my brave brother
Humfrey Gilbert's godson, and sailed with us to the West some sixteen
years back.  He was as gallant a sailor as ever trod a deck, and I
never could see why he thought fit to take service with the States. But
he did good work in the time of the Armada, and I saw him one of the
foremost in the attack on Cadiz.  Nay, he was one of those knighted by
my Lord of Essex in the market-place.  Then he sailed with my Lord of
Cumberland for the Azores, now six months since, and hath not since
been heard of, as his brother tells me, and therefore doth Talbot
request this favour of your Majesty."

"Send the young man to me," returned the Queen.

Diccon, to give him his old name, was not quite so unsophisticated as
when his father had first left him in London.  Though a good deal
shocked by what a new arrival from Holland had just told him of the
hopelessness of ever seeing the Ark of Fortune and her captain again,
he was not so overpowered with grief as to prevent him from being full
of excitement and gratification at the honour of an interview with the
Queen, and he arranged his rich scarlet and gold attire so as to set
himself off to the best advantage, that so he might be pronounced "a
proper man."

Queen Elizabeth was now some years over sixty, and her nose and chin
began to meet, but otherwise she was as well preserved as ever, and
quite as alert and dignified.  To his increased surprise, she was
alone, and as she was becoming a little deaf, she made him kneel very
near her chair.

"So, Master Talbot," she said, "you are the son of Richard Talbot of

"An it so please your Majesty."

"And you request license from us to go to the Hague?"

"An it so please your Majesty," repeated Diccon, wondering what was
coming next; and as she paused for him to continue--"There are grave
rumours and great fears for my brother's ship--he being in the Dutch
service--and I would fain learn the truth and see what may be done for
his wife."

"Who is his wife?" demanded the Queen, fixing her keen glittering eyes
on him, but he replied with readiness.

"She was an orphan brought up by my father and mother."

"Young man, speak plainly.  No tampering serves here.  She is the wench
who came hither to plead for the Queen of Scots."

"Yea, madam," said Diccon, seeing that direct answers were required.

"Tell me truly," continued the Queen.  "On your duty to your Queen, is
she what she called herself?"

"To the best of my belief she is, madam," he answered.

"Look you, sir, Cavendish brought back word that it was all an
ingenious figment which had deceived your father, mother, and the maid
herself--and no wonder, since the Queen of Scots persisted therein to
the last."

"Yea, madam, but my mother still keeps absolute proofs in the garments
and the letter that were found on the child when recovered from the
wreck.  I had never known that she was not my sister till her journey
to London; and when next I went to the north my mother told me the
whole truth."

"I pray, then, how suits it with the boasted loyalty of your house that
this brother of yours should have wedded the maid?"

"Madam; it was not prudent, but he had never a thought save for her
throughout his life.  Her mother committed her to him, and holding the
matter a deep and dead secret, he thought to do your Majesty no wrong
by the marriage.  If he erred, be merciful, madam."

"Pah! foolish youth, to whom should I be merciful since the man is
dead?  No doubt he hath left half a score of children to be puffed up
with the wind of their royal extraction."

"Not one, madam.  When last I heard they were still childless."

"And now you are on your way to take on you the cheering of your
sister-in-law, the widow," said the Queen, and as Diccon made a gesture
of assent, she stretched out her hand and drew him nearer. "She is then
alone in the world.  She is my kinswoman, if so be she is all she calls
herself.  Now, Master Talbot, go not open-mouthed about your work, but
tell this lady that if she can prove her kindred to me, and bring
evidence of her birth at Lochleven, I will welcome her here, treat her
as my cousin the Princess of Scotland, and, it may be, put her on her
way to higher preferment, so she prove herself worthy thereof.  You
take me, sir?"

Diccon did take in the situation.  He had understood how Cavendish,
partly blinded by Langston, partly unwilling to believe in any
competitor who would be nearer the throne than his niece Arabella
Stewart, and partly disconcerted by Langston's disappearance, had made
such a report to the Queen and the French Ambassador, that they had
thought that the whole matter was an imposture, and had been so ashamed
of their acquiescence as to obliterate all record of it.  But the
Queen's mind had since recurred to the matter, and as in these later
years of her reign one of her constant desires was to hinder James from
making too sure of the succession, she was evidently willing to play
his sister off against him.

Nay, in the general uncertainty, dreams came over Diccon of possible
royal honours to Queen Bridget; and then what glories would be
reflected on the house of Talbot!  His father and mother were too old,
no doubt, to bask in the sunshine of the Court, and Ned--pity that he
was a clergyman, and had done so dull a thing as marry that little
pupil of his mother's, Laetitia, as he had rendered her Puritan name.
But he might be made a bishop, and his mother's scholar would always
become any station.  And for Diccon himself--assuredly the Mastiff race
would rejoice in a new coronet!

Seven weeks later, Diccon was back again, and was once more summoned to
the Queen's apartment.  He looked crestfallen, and she began,--

"Well, sir?  Have you brought the lady?"

"Not so, an't please your Majesty."

"And wherefore?  Fears she to come, or has she sent no message nor

"She sends her deep and humble thanks, madam, for the honour your
Majesty intended her, but she--"

"How now?  Is she too great a fool to accept of it?"

"Yea, madam.  She prays your Grace to leave her in her obscurity at the

Elizabeth made a sound of utter amazement and incredulity, and then
said, "This is new madness!  Come, young man, tell me all!  This is as
good and new as ever was play.  Let me hear.  What like is she? And
what is her house to be preferred to mine?"

Diccon saw his cue, and began--

"Her house, madam, is one of those tall Dutch mansions with high roof,
and many small windows therein, with a stoop or broad flight of steps
below, on the banks of a broad and pleasant canal, shaded with fine
elm-trees.  There I found her on the stoop, in the shade, with two or
three children round her; for she is a mother to all the English
orphans there, and they are but too many.  They bring them to her as a
matter of course when their parents die, and she keeps them till their
kindred in England claim them.  Madam, her queenliness of port hath
gained on her.  Had she come, she would not have shamed your Majesty;
and it seems that, none knowing her true birth, she is yet well-nigh a
princess among the many wives of officers and merchants who dwell at
the Hague, and doubly so among the men, to whom she and her husband
have never failed to do a kindness.  Well, madam, I weary you.  She
greeted me as the tender sister she has ever been, but she would not
brook to hear of fears or compassion for my brother.  She would listen
to no word of doubt that he was safe, but kept the whole household in
perfect readiness for him to come.  At last I spake your Majesty's
gracious message; and, madam, pardon me, but all I got was a sound
rating, that I should think any hope of royal splendour or preferment
should draw her from waiting for Humfrey.  Ay, she knew he would come!
And if not, she would never be more than his faithful widow.  Had he
not given up all for her? Should she fail in patience because his ship
tarried awhile?  No; he should find her ready in his home that he had
made for her."

"Why, this is as good as the Globe Theatre!" cried the Queen, but with
a tear glittering in her eye.

"Your Majesty would have said so truly," said Diccon; "for as I sat at
evening, striving hard to make her give over these fantastic notions
and consult her true interest, behold she gave a cry--''Tis his foot!'
Yea, and verily there was Humfrey, brown as a berry, having been so far
with his mate as to the very mouth of the River Plate.  He had, indeed,
lost his Ark of Fortune, but he has come home with a carrack that
quadruples her burthen, and with a thousand bars of silver in her hold.
And then, madam, the joy, the kisses, the embraces, and even more--the
look of perfect content, and peace, and trust, were enough to make a
bachelor long for a wife."

"Long to be a fool!" broke out the Queen sharply.  "Look you, lad:
there may be such couples as this Humfrey and--what call you her?--here
and there."

"My father and mother are such."

"Yea, saucy cockerel as you are; but for one such, there are a hundred
others who fret the yoke, and long to be free!  Ay, and this brother of
thine, what hath he got with this wife of his but banishment and dread
of his own land?"

"Even so, madam; but they still count all they either could have had or
hoped for, nought in comparison with their love to one another."

"After ten years!  Ha!  They are no subjects for this real world of
ours; are they not rather swains in my poor Philip Sidney's Arcadia?
Ho, no; 'twere pity to meddle with them.  Leave them to their Dutch
household and their carracks.  Let them keep their own secret; I'll
meddle in the matter no more."

And so, though after Elizabeth's death and James's accession, Sir
Humfrey and Lady Talbot gladdened the eyes of the loving and venerable
pair at Bridgefield, the Princess Bride of Scotland still remained in
happy obscurity, "Unknown to History."


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