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Title: Hildebrand - or, The Days of Queen Elizabeth, An Historic Romance, Vol. 2 of 3
Author: Anonymous
Language: English
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HILDEBRAND.



                  NEW WORK, BY THE SAME AUTHOR.

          _Preparing for Publication, in 3 vols. 8vo._,

                         THE OLD TEMPLE:
                     AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE.

                               BY
                   THE AUTHOR OF “HILDEBRAND,”
                            _&c. &c._

            “Within the Temple hall we were too loud,
              The garden here is more convenient.”
                                            SHAKSPEARE.

                             LONDON:
                 JOHN MORTIMER, ADELAIDE STREET,
                        TRAFALGAR SQUARE.



                           HILDEBRAND:
                  THE DAYS OF QUEEN ELIZABETH.

                     AN HISTORICAL ROMANCE.

                               BY
                 THE AUTHOR OF “THE KING’S SON.”

         Frugal and wise, a Walsingham is thine;
         A Drake, who made thee mistress of the sea,
         And bore thy name in thunder round the world.
         Then flamed thy spirit high; but who can speak
         The numerous worthies of the maiden reign?
         In Raleigh mark their every glory mix’d;
         Raleigh, the scourge of Spain! THOMSON.

                        IN THREE VOLUMES.

                            VOL. II.

                             LONDON:
                 JOHN MORTIMER, ADELAIDE STREET,
                        TRAFALGAR SQUARE.
                           MDCCCXLIV.



               LONDON: PRINTED BY HENRY RICHARDS,
                 BRYDGES-STREET, COVENT-GARDEN.



HILDEBRAND.



CHAPTER I.


Life is subject to certain moral influences, arising from
external impressions, which are no less mysterious than its
elements and progress. Under the operation of these influences,
we are prone to overlook them; and instead of watching their
workings, and tracing them through all their wonderful and
extensive ramifications, we yield unresisting to their pressure,
and, without one interposition of our own will, become the
passive agents of their effects.

Allowing the existence and constant presence of an overruling
Providence, it is not too much to say, that there is no possible
situation in which a man can be placed, in this sublunary world,
that he will be wholly incompetent to sustain. There is not one
influence, whether exciting or depressing, that the human mind
cannot check, although it may be unable, in some instances, to
reduce it to complete subjection. It is our prostration that
gives the sharpest bitterness to sorrow; and prosperity has its
greatest dangers (for prosperity is not without dangers, and
great ones) from our unwary self-reliance. If we could meet
success in a sober spirit, and, while we drink from the cup of
fortune, curb its intoxicating inspirations with a recollection
of the instability and mere temporariness of worldly possessions,
prosperity would have no power to disturb the evenness of our
mind, or to contract and freeze up the dignity of our nature. In
the same way, if we would but bear in remembrance how unavoidable
and transient are our troubles, how utterly pointless the scoffs
and contempt and mockery of a selfish world, and, finally, how
soon we shall “shuffle off this mortal coil,” adversity would
lose its chill, and even the anguish of the sorrowing heart would
be materially and sensibly mitigated.

It is by ourselves that the auxiliary and sustaining qualities
of our nature are created. It is from our voluntary will, that
leading distinction between man and brute (which makes us
rational and accountable creatures) that these qualities mainly
spring; and it is by the same will alone, humanly speaking, that
we can look from the heights of fortune with composure, and meet
tribulation without despair.

Nevertheless, the weakness of the human mind is such, on
occasions of severe trial, that its will cannot be brought thus
to act of its own self, or continue to act unaided. The rightful
operation of nature cannot be maintained, or its functions be
duly and efficiently discharged, but in perfect and unvarying
conformity with her unalterable laws. As it is not the summer
alone, but the other seasons also, in their regular rotation,
that is necessary to bring forth the fruits of the earth, so the
health of the human heart depends on the effective administration
of the whole system. Not only our free will, but that sense of
right and wrong by which our free will should be governed, and
which can always be called up from the lucid depths of the bosom,
is an essential support against every trial. Mighty of itself, it
leads us, as an unfailing consequence, to rely principally for
aid on a still mightier Auxiliary--the eternal and beneficent
Dispenser of good and evil.

Even the savage, to whom the wild humanity of the desert offers
no law but that of might, and the restraints of civilised life
are unknown, is endowed by nature with a perfect consciousness of
his free agency; and though, from his degraded position, he is
no way subject to any artificial prompture, the attendant sense
of a supreme and over-ruling genius is ever before him. Much
more sensibly does this intuitive monitor press itself on the
faculties of the cultivated mind. In reclaimed man, surrounded by
the light of civilization, it inspires at once a confidence and a
dread; and, if heedfully and properly regarded, renders him proof
to every temptation, and dignified under every sorrow.

When, on the morning after her parting from Hildebrand, Evaline
de Neville learned that her father had been removed from the gaol
of Exeter to the metropolis, and the cup of pleasure which she
had been about to drink was thus dashed unexpectedly from her
lips, her grief was deep and bitter; but, excessive as it was,
it did not reduce her to despair. She did not, it is true, hear
the intelligence with composure, but she met it with fortitude.
Her mind seemed suddenly to acquire additional nerve; and through
all its varied faculties, and beautiful proportions, to be
strengthened and braced up against the pressure of the occasion.

She was alone; and she naturally gave a thought to those
estimable friends--for such she considered them--who had been
with her on the previous night, and whose presence and assurances
had filled her with hope and joy. The reflection served only
to render her present loneliness and solitude more painfully
apparent. Her bosom was pierced by a new anguish, apart from the
grief she felt for her father, as she asked herself where were
those friends now? Where was Hildebrand, whose arm, undeterred
by the presence of danger, had before lent her such effectual
succour? Her eyes filled with tears as she reflected that he was
no longer within her call.

Yet, in the midst of all her troubles, she could not but look
with tenderness on his welcome image. Even under the hand of
affliction, she drew from it the comfort of cheering memories;
and (which may appear surprising, if not anomalous) it revived
in her heart the thrills of her native buoyancy. She called
to mind the significant manner in which he had pressed her
hand at parting; and the thought struck her, on the track of
this reminiscence, that she might have made an impression on
his affections. The first idea which woman conceives of a
reciprocated love, under whatever circumstances it may arise,
must always be productive of a deep sense of fruition; and,
in this instance, it raised in the breast of Evaline a sweet
tranquillity, that her passing sorrow could not overcome.
After-thoughts might anticipate disappointments, or conjure up
fears; but the first felicitous conjecture, springing unbidden to
her eye, had none of the gloom of laborious reflection, and was
one of unmingled joy and ecstasy.

But if the time had allowed Evaline to pause on Hildebrand’s
image, mature meditation, perhaps, would have impressed her with
a less favourable view of his disposition, and rendered her
expectations less fixed and sanguine. The time, however, was not
thus opportune. Her love was no more than a passing thought,
though it was sufficient, notwithstanding, to unveil to her eye a
new sphere, and make her fully sensible that she did love.

She regarded the situation of her father with the most lively
anguish. She knew little of the world, but she was aware, from
the little that she did know, that his cause would be tried
before prejudiced judges, and a court that regarded every Roman
Catholic with avowed distrust. The persecuted will naturally ever
speak harshly and bitterly of their oppressors; and she had heard
strange stories, at various periods, of outrages perpetrated on
Roman Catholics without any provocation, and in violation of
every principle of law and right. According to these tales, men
were never wanting, at the bidding of the government, to support
charges against them by the most barefaced perjury; and, on such
corrupt testimony, judges would unscrupulously condemn them to
the block or the gibbet. As she thought how easy it would be, by
means such as these, and before a partial and bigoted judge, to
make her father appear guilty, and so bring his declining life
to a violent end, her heart turned cold with horror; and she
began to perceive the full extent of the calamity that had so
unexpectedly fallen upon her.

Nevertheless she did not despair--not for a moment. She saw, from
the very first, that it was no time to hesitate, or to suffer
the energies of her mind to be wasted in repining, or crushed
by depression. Her heart was sad, and her spirit dejected; but,
though she was so deeply and sensibly moved, she met the trying
crisis with decision, and a reliance on the protection of Heaven,
whatever might be the result, that could not fail to prove a
source of cheer and hope.

Her heart was considerably lightened after she had laid its plea
before God. On rising from her knees, her bosom became alive to
a soothing calmness, which cannot be described; and her brimming
eyes were again raised to heaven, with tears of deep and
heartfelt gratitude, as she felt that this was but the leading
effect of her hardly-uttered prayers.

Reflecting how she could be of service to her father, her first
thought naturally inclined her, as a preliminary measure, to
repair to London, and make her way to his presence. But she felt
that, in consequence of his being a state-prisoner, there might
be some difficulty in obtaining access to him; and, therefore,
on further consideration, she determined to seek some means of
aiding him before she visited his prison. She had a confident
hope of succour from Sir Walter Raleigh, but, unfortunately for
its realization, she knew not where to apply to that personage,
or how to inform him of her father’s situation. While she was
pondering on these circumstances, she thought of the letter, or
packet--for it evidently contained some enclosures--which had
been given to her by Hildebrand; and, in this possession, a new
and felicitous resource seemed to open to her. Drawing it from
beneath her vest, she proceeded to examine it, and to ascertain,
from the evidence furnished by its exterior, what room it would
afford her for any hope. But she could form no opinion from the
cover; and if she had been disposed to seek further (which she
was not), the search would have been equally fruitless. The
packet, indeed, had been folded with the greatest care, and,
moreover, was secured with two fair seals; and, consequently, she
had no ground for conjecture but the direction. It was inscribed,
in a bold and distinct hand, to “Master Bernard Gray, at the sign
of the Angel alehouse, Lantwell;” and these words, which she
deciphered at a glance, were all that its exterior revealed.

She raised the packet to her lips before she re-placed it in her
vest. While her lips still rested on it, however, the kiss they
were about to exhale was arrested; and a deep blush spread over
her face and neck. It was a beautiful manifestation, and showed
that, in the bosom of innocence, true modesty is ever alert, and
requires no overlooking eye to excite its sweet sensibilities.

After a moment’s deliberation, she resolved to deliver the packet
to its direction without delay. Pursuant to this design, she
called for Martha Follett; and through that faithful adherent,
gave orders to her other servants, who had charge of the carriage
and horses, to prepare for their return to Neville Grange. While
she was herself preparing to depart, Martha again entered her
presence, and, with some appearance of agitation, informed her
that her cousin, Don Felix, was without, and sought to speak with
her.

“Bid him come in, good Martha,” answered Evaline.

Martha, with a silent curtsy, withdrew; and, the next moment, Don
Felix entered.

Evaline did not meet him with her usual friendliness. His conduct
towards Hildebrand, with a knowledge of the service that the
latter had rendered her and her father, had led her to look upon
him in a new light, and, though she was not disposed to judge him
harshly, had shown a meanness of spirit that she could not but
condemn. On glancing at his face, however, and perceiving that he
looked dejected and anxious, her coldness began to relax, and,
yielding to the generous impulses of her nature, she extended him
her hand.

“’Tis well,” said Don Felix, taking her hand. “I have come to bid
thee adieu, Evaline.”

“How meanest thou?” asked Evaline, with some alarm.

“There is a warrant out to arrest me,” answered Don Felix. “It
arrived at the Grange last night, with a power from the sheriff;
but, by good fortune, I got out by the back way and escaped.”

“Surely, it were better, Sir, to surrender,” said Evaline. “Thou
canst not long evade the law.”

“I will evade it altogether,” returned Don Felix. “There is a
ship in Topsham harbour, which sails this evening for France; and
I will get me aboard her, and flee the country. I can make my way
to Spain overland.”

“Oh, no! prithee leave us not now, Felix,” cried Evaline,
forgetting all her dislike in her extreme distress, “Thou art
innocent of any crime. Wherefore shouldst thou flee?”

“An’ my stay could avail thee, Evaline, or good Sir Edgar, no
hazard of mine own self should make me flee,” answered the
Spaniard; “but thou knowest that it would not.”

“None, none!” said Evaline. “Yet to be alone--Oh! I have now no
comforter on earth!”

There was a brief pause. Though Evaline knew that the stay of
Don Felix would afford her no direct advantage, his desertion of
her at this moment, when, for aught he knew, she stood alone,
afflicted her severely. The world was new to her, and she was
not yet aware, what she was so soon to experience, that, in the
season of trouble and adversity, friends fall off, and avoid our
fallen and declining estate as they would a pestilent contagion.
He is, indeed, a friend, above the ordinary meaning of the term,
who will meet us in adversity with the same cordiality and
welcome, not to say eagerness, that we called forth in the day of
our prosperity.

If Evaline had imagined that Don Felix was really in danger, she
would have been the first, at any risk to herself, to have urged
him to flee. But she was firmly of opinion that the hazard he
incurred would be but small; and, which was probably the case,
that his fears, as he had expressed them, were more urgent and
startling than the occasion would warrant. The conclusion she
arrived at was decidedly to his disadvantage; and, comparing
his conduct with that of Hildebrand, to whom she and her father
were perfect strangers, but who, nevertheless, had befriended
them at their need, and his own imminent peril, her unfavourable
impression of his character was confirmed, and her previous
regard for him entirely alienated.

She had paused in her reply to his last remark; but her
hesitation, if such it might be called, was only momentary,
and, before Don Felix could make it available, she resumed her
interrupted speech.

“But thou mayst go, Sir,” she said, in an indignant tone. “I have
no right to keep thee here, an’ it bring thee into danger.”

“How could my staying avail thee, Evaline?” replied Don Felix.

“I tell thee, Sir, thou canst go,” rejoined Evaline.

“Ay,” returned Don Felix, knitting his brows, “I hear that the
nameless stranger has returned, and he, mayhap, will win from
thee more gracious words.”

Evaline, without shrinking before his glance, coloured deeply at
this insinuation.

“I would have thee be guarded in what thou sayest, Don Felix,”
she said, angrily, “or thou mayst rue it.”

“Well, let it pass! let it pass!” answered Don Felix. “Tell me
only, dost thou love him?”

“This is not to be borne,” cried Evaline. “What warrant hast
thou, Sir, to ask me such a question?”

“Thy father hath promised me thy hand,” said Don Felix. “But the
time presses on me now. When we meet again, we shall be more at
liberty. Adieu!”

Evaline, overpowered by her resentment, rendered no reply to his
farewell. His announcement that her father designed to make him
her husband, instead of conciliating her, furnished her with a
new reason for holding him in dislike; and, under the pressure of
that dislike, she suffered him to depart without a word.

Her horror at the prospect which would arise from a marriage with
him was unbounded. To be wedded to a man whom she could never
love, and be inforced by her conscience to thoughts and feelings
that, cling to them as she might, would be negatived by her
heart, was nothing less than utter ruin and destruction. That her
own father, whom she loved so tenderly, and for whose advantage
she would gladly lay down her very life, would consign her to
such a fate, she felt to be impossible. He might, it is true,
have such a marriage in contemplation; but he would allow its
settlement to rest with herself; and her resolution to oppose it,
by the adoption of every means that equity would sanction, was
fixed and unalterable.

She was still pondering on the subject, when she was informed
that, conformably to her orders, the carriage was in waiting, and
everything had been prepared for her departure. She had effected
all her personal arrangements, and, having nothing further to
detain her, she quitted her chamber, and proceeded to take her
seat in the carriage. Martha, at her desire, seated herself by
her side, and, after a brief interval, the carriage was put in
motion, and they set out on their return to the Grange.

It was evening by the time they arrived at their destination.
The melancholy light of the hour, which was just beginning to
be tinged with the gloom of night, and its solemn stillness,
undisturbed by the least breeze, had a depressing effect on the
spirits; and Evaline felt it severely. As she passed through the
avenue-gate, and caught a glimpse of the dejected countenance
of the old porter, who, with his gray locks floating on the
air, stood uncovered to receive her, she could not but remember
what different feelings had animated her when she last entered
that avenue, and how the happiness of that time was greater
than the misery of the present. The anguish and bitterness of
the reflection, in the gloom of the surrounding scene, made her
shudder; and, for a moment, unbraced her fortitude, and clouded
her every hope.

The whole household had assembled to receive her at the
hall-door. On entering the hall, she looked round upon them
separately, intending, with her customary forgetfulness of
herself, to give a kind word to each. But observing that anxiety
for her was impressed on every face, and sympathy in every eye,
her words stuck in her throat; and she was obliged to turn away
without speaking.

As she was passing to an inner room, she discerned two strangers,
of whom she had no knowledge, and who appeared to be at variance
with the household, standing in the rear. Their appearance
somewhat surprised her, and, with a view of ascertaining who they
were, she came to a pause, and looked round for an explanation.
One of the servants, perceiving her object, hereupon stepped
forward, and, in a hesitating voice, proceeded to give her the
information she sought.

“These be two of the sheriff’s folk, lady,” he said. “Near a
dozen of them are here, with a warrant to apprehend Don Felix.”

On thus learning that the house was in possession of the officers
of the law, Evaline felt a thrill of fear shoot through her
bosom, apparently arising from no defined source, that she could
by no means repress. Anxious to conceal her discomposure, she
resumed her steps, and passed straight to her chamber.

The faithful Martha, with a heart no less dejected, attended
her thither, and, without waiting her directions, assisted her
to take off her walking-dress. Having effected her divesture,
she left her to herself for a while, and proceeded to procure
her some refreshments. In expectation of her arrival, a slight
repast, such as she was thought most likely to favour, had been
prepared for her; and this was shortly set out on the table of
her chamber.

Evaline mechanically partook of the meal; but, eating without
appetite, and merely to support nature, was no way invigorated
thereby. By the time that her repast was finished, the evening
had sunk into night; and, aroused by the increasing darkness, she
began to meditate how she could deliver Hildebrand’s packet, on
which she rested such great hopes, without further delay.

She did not like to trust its delivery to any third party.
Although the walk to Lantwell was not a short one, she would
not have hesitated, at another time, to have carried it thither
herself; but to undertake such a mission at night, over a lonely
and secluded route, was a task of danger. It is true, she might
secure ample protection against any harm, in the shape of insult
or violence, by taking with her one of the servants; but the
presence of the sheriff’s minions required that she should
make her egress unobserved. Indeed, she doubted not that she
was herself closely watched; and that her own movements, even
when she was unattended by any servant, would be observed with
suspicion, and followed with jealousy.

Considering all these circumstances, she ultimately resolved to
venture out on the undertaking herself. At first, indeed, she
thought of securing the companionship of Martha, but, on further
consideration, she reflected that, if need were, that individual
could not afford her any protection, and that two persons would
not pass unseen so easily as one; and, on these grounds, the
project appeared impolitic. She could not conceal from herself
that the company of Martha would render her more confident, but
she was aware, nevertheless, that this confidence would not bear
a scrutiny, since the resolution of Martha was even less than her
own. The trial, to a girl of her habits and disposition, was a
great one; but the emergency also was a great one; and, as has
been stated, she finally determined to set out on the mission
herself.

Having come to this conclusion, the next object that engaged her
attention, preparatory to carrying it into effect, was how to
pass out unobserved. After a short pause, she resolved to don
an old cloak of Martha’s, with a long hood, that was lying on a
contiguous chair; and, thus disguised, watch for a favourable
moment to steal forth. No sooner did the idea occur to her, than,
catching up the cloak, she proceeded to put it in execution.

Throwing the cloak over her fair shoulders, she drew the hood,
which was round and full, close over her brow, and then sallied
forth. She descended the stairs beyond without seeing any one,
or, as far as she could tell, being seen herself. She had no
light; but the night, though it was now growing late, was not
dark; and, on reaching the hall, she was easily able to make her
way to the rearward door.

The door, which was fortunately unfastened, led into a small
porch, opening into the park. Evaline, gratified that she had so
far escaped notice, entered the porch with tolerable composure;
and, briefly commending herself to the protection of Heaven, she
ventured to pass into the park.

There was no one about. Drawing her cloak closely round her, she
directed her steps to that walk which, it may be remembered, has
been before mentioned in this history, and which opened into the
public footpath to Lantwell. She had just entered the walk,
when, pausing to look round, she heard a voice calling to her to
stop.

She resumed her progress at her utmost speed. Her heart beat
audibly, and her fears, which the abruptness of the alarm had
raised beyond endurance, almost arrested her breath, but she
ran on still. She imagined every successive shrub to be an
ambushed enemy, and, as she passed along, she was afraid to look
about her, but kept her eyes straight on her path, lest she
should discern on either hand some terror. At last, wearied and
breathless, she arrived at the public footway, and there ventured
to pause.

A full minute elapsed before she had completely recovered her
breath. Meanwhile, her ears were on the alert, and her attention
alive to the least noise. To her surprise, however, no sounds
of pursuit were audible, and, after a brief interval, she set
forwards again.

Once in the footpath, which lay across an open part of the park,
her view was less interrupted; and consequently, though the
night was somewhat cloudy, and prevented her seeing any great
distance, she was able to satisfy herself that no person was
about. She pursued her way, therefore, with more confidence,
though still with a hasty step; and shortly arrived at the
park-boundary.

As she was mounting the stile that divided the park from the
high-road, at the foot of Lantwell-hill, she remembered that the
“Angel” alehouse, where her mission was to end, was not situate
within the village, but on its extreme limit, where the road fell
into Lantwell-wood. Unless, therefore, she made a considerable
_detour_, she would have to pass through the churchyard, over the
path we have had occasion to mention before, in order to arrive
at her destination; and, remembering this, she paused to consider
which of the two routes she should pursue.

Though endued with uncommon good sense, she had some spice of the
superstitious qualms and fears that mark her religion, and, to
speak the truth, were rather allowed and encouraged by the age;
and it was not without hesitation that she ultimately resolved
on taking the route by the churchyard. Having thus made up her
mind, she once more set forward, and proceeded at a quick pace up
Lantwell-hill.

She paused a while on gaining the churchyard-gate. She almost
felt inclined, indeed, at one moment, to turn into the road
again, and pursue the route through the village. But her
irresolution quickly subsided, and though her fears, with the
terrible excitement they gave rise to, remained, she devoutly
crossed herself, and passed into the churchyard.

She scarcely dared to breathe during her progress onward.
Nevertheless, she reached the further angle of the old church,
where the path took another direction, without seeing anything to
alarm her. She was just turning the angle, when, looking on one
side, towards an abutting portion of the church, she descried
a tall figure, arrayed in white, rising slowly from behind a
grave-post; and she was instantly rooted to the spot.

There are sources of terror which, though they may impend no
peril to the person, will affect the spirit of the most resolute,
and involve the liveliest faculties in fright and consternation.
Yet, whether it is that we are sustained by despair, or that
those superior and invisible intelligences, which some believe
to attend upon us, like ministering angels, from the cradle to
the grave, lend the soul a new influence, this extreme of dread
generally finds the mind self-possessed, and the senses more than
ever active.

Evaline, on observing the object described, lost all power over
her limbs and person, but her senses were perfectly collected.
She felt her hair rising on end, and a cold perspiration, which
seemed to chill and freeze up every source of motion, spread
itself over her whole frame; but, for all this, her mind was
painfully alert. She distinguished every individual outline of
the fearful and ghostly figure. It rose gradually upright, and
then, standing quite still, looked her straight in the face.

“The cross of Christ surround us!” exclaimed Evaline, in a
hollow, solemn voice.

“Ho, there! have no fear!” cried the cause of her horror. “’Tis
I--Bernard Gray!”

The weight of death was lifted off the heart of Evaline. With the
velocity of thought, her hands clasped themselves together, and
her eyes were raised gratefully to heaven.

Nevertheless, it was not without some fear that she found herself
in the presence of the singular man whom she had come to seek,
and who, ignorant of her mission, was now advancing towards her.
Her fear increased as he drew nearer; and when she was able to
survey him closely, which a lighted lanthorn that he carried well
enabled her to do, it almost deprived her of speech.

His appearance, certainly, was far from being prepossessing. His
face was deadly pale, and this, perhaps, was the more remarkable,
in the gloomy light that prevailed, from the unnatural lustre
of his eyes, the rays of which could almost be seen. The upper
part of his body, above his waist, appeared to have no covering
but his shirt; but, from his having a large sheet turned over
his head and shoulders, in the fashion of a penance-garment,
which hid it from observation, his precise dress could not be
ascertained. The arm that sustained the lanthorn, however, and
which was pushed out of the folds of the sheet, displayed only
his shirt-sleeve, and, all things considered, this gave the
conjecture warranty. His feet were bare; and his murrey-coloured
hose and hanse-lines, or trousers, which could be seen through
the sheet, with his drapery, and his pale features, formed
altogether a figure that, remembering the locality, could not be
viewed without great discomposure.

Evaline waited his approach in the utmost trepidation.

“Who have we here?” he demanded, on coming up with her.

He raised his lanthorn as he spoke, and, holding it out before
him, glanced inquiringly in her face.

“Be not afeard! be not afeard!” he said, perceiving that she met
his gaze with the greatest alarm. “Thou wilt have no hurt at my
hands.”

These words, and the tone in which they were uttered, which was
kind and gentle, somewhat reassured Evaline; and after a brief
pause, she ventured to reply.

“If thou be Bernard Gray,” she said, in a tremulous tone, “I have
a packet for thee, from Master Hildebrand Clifford.”

“Ah!” cried Bernard, eagerly, “where is he?”

“Alas, he is far away now!” answered Evaline. “Howbeit, before
his departure, he bade me, if I should need succour, to give this
packet to thee, and thou wouldst thenceforward stand my friend.”

Bernard, without making a reply, took from her hand the proffered
packet, and, at the same time, again gazed earnestly in her
face. As he did so, his eyes gradually lit up with anger, and
he seemed, from his altered manner, and the change that passed
over his pale face, suddenly to regard her with a rooted enmity.
Indeed, he was now sensible who she was, and, in her pallid but
lovely features, he recognized the Popish heiress of Neville
Grange.

“Well,” he said, on making this discovery, “thou shall hear how
he commends thee to me.”

Thus speaking, he tore open the packet, and proceeded to give
his promise effect. There were three enclosures; but the upmost
one, though carefully folded, was unsealed, and engaged his
attention first. Thrusting the others under his arm, he held the
one specified up to the light; and in a tone which was originally
bitter, but which gradually grew mild and agitated, read these
words:--

“To my right trusty and singular good friend, Master Bernard
Gray, at the sign of the Angel, these:--

“Worthy Bernard.--Herein thou wilt find my last will and
testament, bequeathing to thee, in case I should hap to die,
the whole of my effects, with my entire right and interest, in
the entail of Clifford Place; and a letter of trust to my noble
friend and patron, the renowned Sir Walter Raleigh. And now, good
Bernard, I prefer to thee the bearer hereof, and I beseech thee,
by the duty thou owest God, and thy love for my murdered mother,
to give her the hand of faith and fellowship, and in all things,
to the very death, to stand her abettor, as thou wouldst do
service to thy loving friend,

                                         “HILDEBRAND CLIFFORD.”

The last few lines of the letter, which he read in a tremulous
voice, awakened in Bernard’s bosom the deepest emotion. It was
evident, too, that his emotion was of a conflicting character,
and did not leave him in full possession of his judgment.
The passions were mingled in his face; and his naturally kind
impulses, which the sex and loveliness of Evaline, no less than
his attachment to Hildebrand, and the pathetic appeal of the
letter, had not failed to invoke, were restrained and pressed
down by his prejudices, and his intentions lost by indecision.

It was a full minute before he spoke. By that time, however, he
seemed to have made up his mind, and the hesitation described was
no longer manifest.

“I cannot help thee,” he said: “thou art a Papist.”

Evaline, whom his altered manner had already greatly disturbed,
heard these words with a thrill of despair.

“Then, I will bid thee farewell, Sir,” she replied, in an
agitated voice.

“Hold!” exclaimed Bernard. “He hath charged me close--close--by
my love for his mother. And, faith, thou art a most fair lady,
even in the guise thou wearest now. I would thou wast aught but a
Papist!”

“The blessed Virgin keep my faith whole!” ejaculated Evaline.

“Couldst thou hold it through the fire?” asked Bernard, earnestly.

“With God’s help, Sir,” answered Evaline.

“I fell short!” cried Bernard, in a tone of anguish. “They had me
up; they fixed me to the stake; the fagots, steaming with pitch,
were set about me; and, before a spark was kindled, my faith gave
way! Like Peter, I denied my creed; I swore I knew not the man;
and they let me go! Oh, that the trial might come again! Oh, that
I might meet the fire, with its thousand torments, only once
more!”

His voice sank into a murmur of supplication as he thus spoke,
and his agitation, though it was still excessive, was of a kind
more calculated to excite compassion. Evaline, as he ceased
speaking, could not repress an exclamation of sympathy.

“Dost pity me?” said Bernard. “If thou knew’st how I have
mourned it, thou wouldst think me reclaimed. Summer and winter,
every night, do I come to that grave barefoot, and pray God’s
pardon. Not the last fire that shall ever blaze, I heartily
believe, could make me again deny my sweet Saviour.”

“God keep thee in a good mind!” answered Evaline. “Farewell!”

“Hold!” cried Bernard, laying his hand on her arm. “Dost know I
could save thy father?”

“Canst thou?” inquired Evaline, with great earnestness. “But if
even thou canst,” she added, mournfully, “thou wilt not.”

“What of him that sent thee to me?” said Bernard. “Dost thou not
know, from the opposition of your creeds, that there is between
you a great bar, and that thou shalt never wed him?”

“Wed him?” echoed Evaline, tremulously.

“Thou lovest him!” answered Bernard.

Notwithstanding her excessive alarm, Evaline, whether because she
was taken by surprise, or from some more secret cause, could not
repress a slight blush, and her eyes sank before the earnest gaze
of her interlocutor.

“Thou lovest him!” repeated the latter. “And for thy sake, lady,
I will even befriend a Papist. Thy father shall be set free.”

“Alas, Sir!” answered Evaline, “he is now, I fear me, beyond thy
help. He has been removed to London.”

“Go thou also to London, then,” returned Bernard. “I will follow
thee; and again I promise thee, on my troth, he shall be given
his liberty.”

The confident tone in which he spoke, with the assurance she
had received from Hildebrand, on his first naming him to her,
that he would be able to render her the most eminent services,
and which assurance now came to her recollection, did not pass
Evaline unheeded. His altered manner, too, which had suddenly
become kind and compassionate, had an effect upon her; and, being
so different from what she had looked for, called up in her bosom
the liveliest expectations. Nevertheless, her voice faltered in
her reply.

“Oh, thank you! thank you!” was all she said.

“Didst thou come hither by thyself, lady?” resumed Bernard.

“Even so,” answered Evaline. “The sheriff’s men are at the
Grange, waiting to apprehend my cousin, Don Felix di Corva; and I
thought it best to steal out unnoticed.”

“Thou didst well, and bravely,” returned Bernard. “But ’tis a
lonely road, and, if thou wilt give me leave, I will be thy
conductor home.”

“Thou wilt make my heart light, an’ thou wilt,” said Evaline,
eagerly.

“No more!” answered Bernard. “Let us on!”

They set forward accordingly, and, without resuming their
discourse, proceeded to the road. Thence they passed down the
adjoining hill, at the extremity of the churchyard, into Neville
Park, and so on to the vicinity of the mansion.

Bernard drew up when they came nigh the mansion.

“I will stay here, lady,” he said, “and watch thee in. When dost
thou purpose to go to London?”

“To-morrow,” answered Evaline. “I know not where I shall be
lodged; but thou canst learn that, if thou wilt take the trouble
to inquire, of Master Gilbert, the attorney, in the Inner Temple.”

“I will not fail thee,” returned Hildebrand. “God give thee a
good night!”

“And thee also,” replied Evaline.

They parted with this benediction. Evaline, wrapping her cloak
close round her, passed at a quick step towards the house; and
Bernard watched her progress from the mouth of the walk. After
a little time, he saw her arrive at the hall-door, and, without
meeting any obstacle, effect an entrance.

Although she had thus obtained ingress, however, Evaline did not
enter the hall unobserved. On opening the door, she encountered
no less than three persons. One of these, who held a lighted lamp
in his hand, was a domestic; but the other two were of the party
of the sheriff. They did not, however, as she had apprehended,
offer her any interruption; and, having procured a light from
the servant, and bade him go in quest of Martha, she passed
unmolested to her chamber.

There, to her great satisfaction, she was shortly joined by
Martha. She immediately discovered to that person, in a few
words, the adventure that she had just been engaged in; and this
preliminary being achieved, they discussed together its probable
results.



CHAPTER II.


Great and notable events, involving consequences of the
highest importance, often arise from circumstances seemingly
insignificant. If, in life’s decline, we look back on its first
and earlier stages, it will not unfrequently appear that the
incident which gave the deciding bend and direction to our
fortunes, and, in the end, fixed our prospects and position in
the world, was itself so excessively trifling that it passed
unheeded. The reflection ought to afford us a high and invaluable
lesson. As we believe that nothing has been created without a
purpose, so we may suppose, on the same grounds, that every
prompture of the human heart has its effects, and that the very
least of man’s acts accomplishes a certain object. In the onward
progress of the mind, this may be too slight to incur notice, or
it may, as has been remarked, give the leading tone and impulse
to our life; but the issue is the same, and is alike infallible
and decisive.

If Shedlock had paid Sir Walter Raleigh the sum he engaged to
contribute towards his expedition to America, on the conditions
stipulated between them, at the time their agreement was drawn
up, Sir Walter would have had no occasion to visit Shedlock’s
countinghouse, and thus, in all probability, would not have been
brought in contact with Hildebrand Clifford. If this providential
circumstance had not ultimately led him to Hildebrand’s prison,
and, pursuing its train of consequences, subsequently caused
him to regard Sir Edgar and Evaline de Neville as that person’s
particular friends, and the victims of a vile persecution, he
might have beheld Sir Edgar suffer without sympathy, and with a
conviction that he was guilty of the heinous crime imputed to him.

But the course of events was destined to operate otherwise.
On discovering Hildebrand in the prison, he learned from that
cavalier, in answer to his inquiries, how he had been engaged
since he left his ship, and thus ascertained the facts of the
affair which had led to Sir Edgar’s arrest. From that moment he
became Sir Edgar’s fast friend. As has been shown, he accompanied
Hildebrand in his visit to his prison; and there, preparatory
to taking more effective measures in his behalf, revealed his
friendly intentions by promising to procure his liberation.

The excitement arising from the departure of his favourite ship,
which was described heretofore, did not banish from his mind his
generous promise. On returning to Topsham Quay, after bidding
farewell to Hildebrand, and seeing his gallant bark sail on her
voyage, he began to consider how he could carry it out; and, as
a first step towards this end, communicated it to the two friends
who accompanied him.

One of the individuals referred to appeared to be not incompetent
to give him good counsel. His countenance, though not handsome,
was strikingly intelligent; and only for a scornful curl of the
nether lip, which frequently expanded into a haughty and decided
sneer, and was always repulsive, would have been prepossessing.
His gait, however, on which the appearance so greatly depends,
was careless and clumsy, and was by no means set off by his
attire, which was shabby in the extreme. His years, judging from
his hair and complexion, could not have been more than thirty, if
they were even so many; yet his forehead was crossed, immediately
below his hair, with several distinct wrinkles, and his bushy
brows were already overlaid with the weight and cares of age.

The other cavalier had just attained that interesting period
of life which lies between youth and manhood. His proud and
graceful step, and elegant dress, which was arranged with the
most perfect accuracy, engaged attention at once; yet they were
less remarkable than his personal beauty. He possessed this,
indeed, in such an extraordinary degree, that Nature seemed to
have endowed him with all her charms, and to have left nothing
undone that could make him an object of admiration.

They both listened to Sir Walter’s communication with earnest
attention; but the younger cavalier, whether from natural warmth
of heart, or personal attachment to the narrator, evidently was
the more interested of the two.

“By my word,” he cried, when Sir Walter had finished his
narrative, “I pity the knight’s fair daughter! Cannot his worship
be set free at once?”

“Faith, my Lord of Essex,” said the other cavalier, “thou
wouldst make marvellous quick work on’t, as a fair lady is
concerned. An’ the knight have no better evidence of his
innocence than we have heard from Sir Walter, I doubt if he will
be set free at all.”

“Dost thou really think so, Sir Robert Cecil?” asked Sir Walter.

“Faith, Sir Walter, I think he will be hanged,” answered Sir
Robert Cecil, with a smile. “But it gives one no good odour, in
these days of peril, to be mixed up with such folk; and I would
have thee wash thy hands of them.”

Sir Walter, whether from surprise, or sheer vexation, bit his lip
on hearing this remark, but said nothing. His companion, however,
with the unguarded impetuosity of youth, cast all considerations
of policy aside, and gave his feelings utterance.

“Shame on thee, Sir Robert Cecil!” he exclaimed, angrily, “for
giving such counsel. I hold Popery to be a damnable error; but,
’fore God, I would no more see a Papist wronged than I would do
wrong to a true Christian.”

“And dost thou know, my fair Lord of Essex, if wrong hath been
done to this Papist?” demanded Sir Robert Cecil. “By my troth,
one would think, from the discourse followed by thee, that
justice held not an even course in the land. Thou shouldst
measure thy words more prudently, or, in some evil hour, they may
be reported to the Queen’s Highness.”

“What I have a mind to say,” cried the young Earl, petulently,
“I would say in her Highness’s presence--ay, or in her father’s
either, were he living.”

Sir Walter Raleigh, alarmed at the Earl’s indiscreet expressions,
here laid his hand gently on his arm, and, having thus induced
him to pause, sought to give his words a harmless interpretation.

“So might any one, an’ their thoughts were as loyal and dutiful
as thine,” he said. “But let us have no more hard words. I must
help this knight; for, besides that I am inclined thereto by
my will, he hath security for my aid in my plighted word. Thou
art with me, I know, my Lord Essex; and if thou wilt make it a
request to Sir Robert Cecil here, we will even have him also;
for I dare swear, from the regard he hath for thee, that he can
refuse thee nothing.”

“That can I not,” murmured Sir Robert Cecil.

Whether he intended it, or not, his words, though hardly
distinguishable, reached the ears of the young Earl; and the
haughty look that had just mounted to his face, as if to say it
was out of the question for him to make any request, immediately
vanished.

“Faith,” he said, laying his hand familiarly on Sir Robert’s
shoulder, which, from his superior height, he could do
easily,--“Faith, I verily believe thou lovest me. Give us thy
hand in this matter, then, as thou wouldst do me a service.”

“Have with thee, my hopeful Earl!” exclaimed Sir Robert. “But
before we can further the design, we must to London.”

“I fear me, it is even so,” observed Sir Walter Raleigh. “I will
but write a word of cheer to the imprisoned knight, and, with
your good leave, we will then on to London.”

His two friends agreed to his proposal, and their discourse,
which they did not allow to stop, thereupon passed to other
topics. They were still conversing, when they arrived in front
of an hostel, at the extremity of the long, straggling town,
where, on the previous night, they had baited their horses.
After a short conference, they entered the hostel, and proceeded
to a room in its rear. Here, by the direction of Sir Walter,
they were speedily supplied with a substantial breakfast, which
they discussed at their leisure, and with all that hilarity and
enjoyment, springing from a pursuit of the passing moment, which
attend on health and appetite.

On the conclusion of their meal, Sir Walter, according to his
previously-expressed intention, wrote to Sir Edgar de Neville,
repeating his promise to procure him his liberty, and informing
him, in a few words, how he purposed to pursue it. He entrusted
the delivery of the note to one of his servants, and, not knowing
that Sir Edgar had been removed, charged him to leave it at the
gaol of Exeter, and then ride after him to London.

He and his two friends did not tarry long after the servant’s
departure. Interchanging a few remarks on the subject of his
mission, they rose from the breakfast-table, and proceeded to
arrange the preliminaries of their journey to town. These were
soon settled; and, after a short interval, they sallied forth
from the hostel; and, mounting their horses, and attended by
their several grooms, they set out for the metropolis.

Three days elapsed before they arrived at that place. On the
third evening subsequent to their departure from Exeter, they
came to Durham House, in the Strand, where Sir Walter Raleigh
resided. There, after partaking of a light supper, his two
friends took leave of Sir Walter, and, with the understanding
that they were to meet again on the morrow, departed to their
respective lodgings.

It was at the palace of Queen Elizabeth, at Westminster, that the
friends had arranged to meet; and the following morning found
Sir Walter on his way to the court at an early hour. Early as it
was, however (and the clock of Westminster had not yet struck
ten), the road to the palace was already a scene of bustle, and
presented to view passengers of every order. From these persons
Sir Walter received many a hearty cheer as he passed along, which
he acknowledged with a graceful bow, and occasionally, when
the cheering was accompanied by the waving of some fair one’s
handkerchief (which was several times the case), by doffing his
plumed hat, and bowing to his saddle-pow. Thus he rode along for
some distance, when, just as he came in sight of the palace, he
was overtaken by another horseman, who appeared to be almost
equally in favour with the passing people.

The stranger was a slender young man, seemingly about eighteen
years of age. He might, indeed, be two or three years older;
but the freshness of his complexion, and his exceedingly slight
figure (though the mould of his figure was unexceptionable),
would hardly support such a conjecture. He was dressed with great
splendour; but it was not his costly habits, but the charms which
he derived from nature, that made his appearance imposing; and he
needed no meretricious attractions to prepossess every unenvious
eye in his favour.

“A fair morning to your worship!” he cried, on coming up with
Sir Walter. “What fell and desperate design hast thou now in
hand, that thus thou bearest down, equipped with all the art of a
lover, on the court of our virgin Queen?”

“Now, fair befall thee!” replied Sir Walter, with a merry smile;
“but thy love for worthy Will Shakspear, an’ it go on at this
length, will one day turn thy head, and thou shalt finally sink
into an absolute player. But, what news? what news, I prithee?”

“News?” cried his companion. “News that will make thy heart glad,
renowned knight! Sweet Will Shakspear--”

“By my lady’s hand,” exclaimed Sir Walter, laughing, “I would
have wagered my good steed against an old wife’s thimble, which
to me were as nothing, that the sum and burthen of thy news would
be only Will Shakspear! But let us hear it--let us hear it, my
trusty Southampton; for, after all, what concerns Will, concerns
the whole world.”

“Now, do I love thee for those words!” cried the young nobleman,
his cheeks mantling with a flush of pleasure. “But, to tell thee
my news, renowned knight! Thou must know, first, that Master
Shakspear will this day bring out a new play, at his noble
playhouse of the Globe; and, secondly, that the Queen’s Highness,
on my special petition, purposes to grace the performance with
her royal presence.”

“That is right welcome news, indeed,” answered Sir Walter; “but
tell me, I prithee, what is the theme and burthen of the play?”

“An admirable good theme,” replied the Earl of Southampton: “no
other, indeed, than the most pathetic history of Imogen, which
was first made known to the world by old Boccaccio, in his right
famous Decameron.”

“I mind the story well,” observed Sir Walter, “and, in good
sooth, ’tis a marvellous excellent one. But see! yonder is Master
Harrington, an’ I be not mistaken.”

“Faith, is it!” answered the Earl. “Let us on.”

Without more ado, they spurred forward, and soon came up with
the individual who, at the distance of some hundred yards, had
attracted their attention. When they first distinguished him,
he was standing at the palace gate; but, hearing the clatter
of their horses’ hoofs, he turned round, and observed them
approaching. As they drew nigh, he advanced a few paces to meet
them; and with the air of a courtier, which his elegant apparel,
and youthful and engaging features, well supported, exchanged
with them a cordial and friendly greeting. Sir Walter and the
Earl then alighted; and, resigning their steeds to the care of
their grooms, who had ridden up to receive them, took Master
Harrington by the arm, and thus passed together into the palace.

As they entered the palace-hall, they encountered a large circle
of courtiers, with most of whom, if one might form a conjecture
from their polite greetings, they appeared to be on the footing
of friends. With some, however, they exchanged only a formal
bow, and evidently sought to avoid acquaintance. They were about
to press forward to the great staircase, when the entrance
of another cavalier, who seemed to be an object of general
respect, led them to prolong their pause. He was an elderly
man--indeed, an old one; and his habits, which were grave and
homely, corresponded with his advanced years. There was, however,
no trace of slovenliness in his appearance, and his deportment
was still noble and dignified. A smile rose to his lips as he
discovered Sir Walter Raleigh; and with more of the gait of
a soldier, than the light air of a courtier, which ruled the
movements of those around, he advanced to salute him.

“Knight! knight, I have been discoursing of thee the whole
morning!” he cried, shaking Sir Walter by the hand. “I promise
thee, that staid Cecil, with whom my converse was carried on,
hath given me such a report of thy brave expedition to America,
as hath pleased me mightily. Ah, my Lord Southampton! the good
time of the day to your Lordship! Master Harrington, give thee a
fair morning! how go the sports at the Paris-garden?”

“Faith, my Lord Sussex, I have changed my bent,” answered
Harrington. “’Tis Shakspear now, my Lord--Shakspear is your
modern vogue.”

“I had rather see a good bear-fight,” said the Earl of Sussex.
“Yet, for my Lord Southampton’s sake, I will even go see this
notable player to-day. But do you attend her Highness?”

“We are with you, my Lord,” replied Sir Walter Raleigh.

The Earl, availing himself of the precedence which his friends
opened for him, hereupon stepped forward, and led the way to an
upper saloon. There, in the course of a little time, as they
waited for the appearance of the Queen, his party associated with
several other courtiers, and were shortly afterwards joined by
Essex and Robert Cecil. They had just received this accession,
when another party, headed by an elderly, but still very elegant
cavalier, entered the saloon, and proceeded to its further end.
They passed by the friends of Sussex, who were standing in the
centre of the saloon, without extending to them the slightest
notice; and seemingly so intent on the discourse of their leader,
which the light laugh that occasionally broke from them announced
to be of a lively nature, that the personages around did not
incur their observation. For all his fluent discourse, however,
there was a settled melancholy on the handsome countenance of
their leader, and, whenever his eye could be viewed observantly,
a tameness and restlessness in his gaze, that spoke his mirth to
be hollow, and his ease and lightness of heart merely affected.
As he passed along, no few eyes regarded him with scorn and
contempt; and it was evident that, though he might yet enjoy the
favour of the Queen, the wretch who had murdered one wife, and
attempted the life of a second,--who had submitted to be abused
by Arundel, and cuffed by Norfolk,--no longer swayed at will the
destinies of the court.

“Methinks, my Lord of Leicester looks somewhat grim at thee, my
fair Lord,” whispered Sir Robert Cecil to Essex.

“I marked it not,” replied Essex. “An’ thou art sure he did, I
will presently make him say wherefore.”

“Hist, my dear Lord!” returned Cecil. “Her Highness approaches!”

While he was yet speaking, the doors at the end of the saloon,
where Leicester and his party had posted themselves, were
thrown open, and the ladies of the Queen’s household made their
appearance at the aperture. Following them, a few paces in their
wake, came the Queen herself, walking under a canopy, borne by
the four ladies of her chambers, and attended, in the rearward,
by four more ladies, who probably were maids of honour.

The ladies were all dressed, according to the practice of the
royal household, with great simplicity; but this did not contract
or reduce the effect of their beauty, but rather served, by its
freedom from meretricious attractions, to exhibit their personal
charms to advantage. Their simplicity of attire, however, had
not been adopted by the Queen; and, whether that she wished to
be singular, or had really a love for finery, she was dressed
with extravagant splendour. Her ruff, or frill, of the most
costly lace, was raised almost to the level of her mouth; but
its excessive height, it must be acknowledged, was not unsuited
to her aspect, and it lent the commanding tone of her features
a visible support. Her stomacher of white satin, sprinkled with
diamonds, was enclosed by a robe of blue velvet, descending into
a long train; and, as if the rich velvet were not itself costly
enough, this robe, or gown, was loaded with pieces of gold,
wrought into the shape of various animals.

Though she was now long past her fiftieth year, Elizabeth, on
the whole, did not misbecome her magnificent apparel. Her form,
though impaired, was still graceful, and, as much from her habits
as from nature, full of dignity; and her face presented very many
traces of its former charms.

A murmur of “God save your Highness!” not loud, but deep,
ran through the assembly as she entered, but she rendered no
acknowledgment of the salutation, if such it may be called,
till she had passed to a high seat, raised a step or two from
the floor, near the middle of the saloon. Then, sitting down,
she bowed gracefully round, and, as her eye fell on the Earl of
Leicester, accompanied her bow with a kind smile.

There was a pause for a moment, when the Queen broke the silence.

“Is my Lord of Sussex in presence?” she asked.

“At your Highness’s command,” answered Sussex.

“We have a charge for thee, then,” pursued the Queen. “The
captain of our guard, after urgent importunity, obtained our
licence to be absent for a week, which expired on the morn
of yesterday. As he did not then return, we direct thee, in
our name, to have him diligently sought for, and, when found,
attached as a deserter.”

“That will I do straightway, my liege,” answered Sussex, smiling.
And, turning round, he laid his hand on Sir Walter Raleigh,
who was standing directly behind him, and added:--“Sir Walter
Raleigh, I attach thee, in the name of our Sovereign Lady, as a
false knight, and a deserter.”

“I appeal from thee to the clemency of her Highness!” cried Sir
Walter Raleigh.

And pushing past the Earl, who seemed willingly to give way to
him, he sprang towards the Queen’s chair, and threw himself on
one knee at her feet.

“A boon! a boon, dread Sovereign!” he exclaimed.

“By my father’s hand, no!” answered Elizabeth. “No! no!
Thou shalt be punished, deserter, to the very stretch of
my prerogative. Henceforth thou shalt forfeit thy liberty
altogether. To prove that I speak earnestly, I now charge thee,
first, to attend me to the Globe playhouse; thence to Greenwich;
afterwards--”

“Oh, thanks! thanks, my gracious Queen!” cried Sir Walter.

“By my faith, the knave takes his sentence as a great boon!”
exclaimed the Queen, with a look of gratification. “I would be
sworn, now, instead of putting on him a heavy punishment, I have
even dealt him a guerdon.”

“Indeed, my liege,” cried one of the ladies, “I have heard him
say, more times than one, that he could not live out of your
Highness’s presence.”

“I have heard him swear to ’t,” cried another lady.

“And, what your Highness will regard more,” said the Earl of
Sussex, “I believe he swore true.”

“A word from my Lord Sussex makes up the game,” observed the Earl
of Leicester.

“My Lord Leicester,” began Sussex, haughtily--

“Hold!” cried the Queen. “Dare any to bandy words here? Soft
answers, an’ you please, my Lords! As for thee, knight,” she
added, in her former bantering tone, to Sir Walter, “thou mayst
now rise, but thy sentence must have full force. Now for the
playhouse, my lords! the playhouse!”

With a murmur of “Room for the Queen! room for her Highness!”
the courtiers swept back on either side; and Elizabeth, leaning
on the arm of the Earl of Leicester, and followed by her ladies,
passed down the saloon between them. As she proceeded, her eye
glanced wistfully round, and seemed, in the course of its survey,
to take note of every face. Thus progressing to the door, she
came opposite to the Earl of Essex, whom the crafty Cecil, not
doubting that he would catch her eye, and divert her attention
from Leicester, whom he hated, had pushed into the front.

“Aha!” cried Elizabeth, suddenly pausing, “here is this fair
youth grown into a man, and we have hardly marked him. By my
troth, a proper man, too--a marvellous proper man!”

“What an exceeding sweet face!” whispered one of the ladies of
the bedchamber, loud enough to be heard by all.

“The eye of Mars!” observed another, in the same tone.

“Hush, for shame!” resumed Elizabeth. “Do ye not see,” she added,
as her eye fell on a light gold chain, of the most chaste and
delicate workmanship, which was turned into the Earl’s vest, “he
hath lost his heart, and hath his lady’s image guarding it? By my
troth, I will know who this fair one is!”

“Your pardon, my liege,” replied Essex, with some confusion.

“Nay, Sir Earl, I will know it,” returned Elizabeth, angrily.
And, seeing that the Earl was not inclined to satisfy her, she
rudely seized the chain herself, and drew it forth. The portrait
of a female, set in diamonds, was appended to the end of the
chain, and, as the Queen drew it forth, all pressed round to see
who it represented. A deep blush mantled the face of the Queen,
and her eyes, which had just before worn an angry expression,
sparkled with pleasure: it was a portrait of herself.

“A true lover! a true lover!” she cried. “Now could I swear, by
bell and candle, the fair youth would have died of his love ere
he could have spoken it! Dost think us so cruel? Well, well, we
must not leave thee hopeless. My Lord of Leicester, how awkwardly
thou walkest of late! There, there, drop thine arm! Give me
thine, my fair Lord Essex! give me thine!”

“My heart fails me, my gracious liege,” replied Essex, at the
same time drawing the Queen’s arm through his:--“yet what marvel,
since I have lost it?”

“Faith, now, an’ thou speakest so soothly, I will think thee
false,” answered the Queen. “But, no! no! I’ll believe thee! Now
for the barge! the barge!”

Leaning fondly on the arm of Essex, she led the way, down the
adjacent staircase, and through the hall below, to the shore
of the river, where the royal barge, with a number of private
barges, belonging to the several members of the court, waited her
approach. In these conveyances the whole party embarked, and in a
short time, being favoured by the tide, arrived at Milbank, and
there landed.

The Globe playhouse, where their excursion was to end, was now
close at hand, and, by the Queen’s direction, they proceeded
thither on foot. The house was already well filled; but two
spacious boxes, opening on to the stage, one on either side, had
been reserved for the court, and in one of these, to which she
was conducted by the Earl of Southampton, the Queen bestowed
herself. Her maids of honour stationed themselves on her left
hand; and, at her command, the Earls of Southampton, Essex,
Leicester, and Sussex, with Sir Walter Raleigh, and one or two
others, took their places on her right. The rest of the court,
including many ladies, and some few peeresses, were dispersed
over the theatre.

The public acclamations excited by the Queen’s appearance had
hardly subsided, when the curtain, which hitherto had kept the
stage from view, was drawn up, and the performances commenced.
The early passages of the play passed off tamely, till the
entrance of Cymbeline, the father of the heroine, and king of
Britain, and who gave the play its name, drew from all parts of
the theatre one burst of applause.

The actor thus welcomed showed a fair augury for his powers in
his majestic person. Though not very tall, his figure, whatever
quarter it was viewed from, was faultless, and sufficiently high
to be commanding. But it was in his countenance that Nature had
exhibited her greatest skill. Here one could see, at a mere
glance, that he had been cast in Heaven’s most select mould,
and was marked out for a wonder. Thought sat on every feature,
and his brow, which was lofty and expansive, and chiselled
with a singular accuracy, was almost luminous with expression.
Corresponding with this appearance, his eyes, when their gaze was
once fixed, almost spoke; and, withal, revealed in their beams
such a kind and gentle spirit, that they won the heart of every
beholder.

Such was the master-genius whose works are to endure through
all time, and open to posterity, through every successive age,
the loftiest flights of speculation and philosophy. The “poor
player,” who looked “every inch a king,” was the immortal, the
incomparable Shakspear.

When the cheering called forth by his appearance had subsided,
the play proceeded, and, in its progress, was watched by every
spectator with the liveliest interest. Occasionally, as some
passage of more striking excellence was delivered, even the Queen
would relax her dignity to applaud, and the waving of the royal
handkerchief would invariably be attended by the plaudits of the
whole house.

During the interval between each act, the Earl of Southampton,
with a discrimination which did as much honour to his intellect,
as his attachment to the poet reflected credit on his heart,
pointed out to the Queen more distinctly the various merits and
beauties of the play, and, at the same time, commended the
bearing of the several actors. The Queen and her courtiers (for
the latter had no opinion of their own) generally concurred in
his observations; but during the interval between the fourth and
fifth acts, he expressed one sentiment which Elizabeth disputed.

“Hath your Highness marked,” he inquired, “how marvellously well
Master Shakspear doth enact the king? I dare make a good wager,
an’ he were so placed by circumstances, he would play to the same
purpose with real sovereigns.”

“There we be at difference,” answered Elizabeth. “Though he have
an excellent good judgment, I will venture to maintain, on my
part, that ’twould scarce match such a task. What say’st thou,
Sir Walter Raleigh?”

“I’faith, my liege,” replied Sir Walter, “an’ anything could
make me doubt Master Shakspear’s judgment, ’twould be the
judgment of your Highness. Howbeit, in this instance, I must even
hold against thee, and take part with my Lord Southampton.”

“Fie on thee, traitor!” said the Queen, smiling. “But I will put
the matter out of question. I will even test Master Shakspear’s
self-possession.”

“How? how, your Highness?” asked several voices.

“Ye shall see!” answered the Queen, with the same quiet smile.

The courtiers, either from curiosity, or a desire to make the
Queen believe that they took a great interest in the matter,
would probably have pressed her further; but, at this moment, the
curtain drew up, and the performance was resumed.

The play proceeded without seeming to dispose the Queen to pursue
her design; and, as the last scene opened, Lord Southampton began
to think, from the delay, that, in the interest excited by the
performance, it had escaped her memory. Just as the play was
about to close, however, the Queen leaned over on the front of
the box, and it became evident that she was preparing to carry
her intention into effect.

As she rested her arms on the barrier of the box, which divided
it from the stage, her eye, seeming intent on the performance,
fixed itself on that of Shakspear. The poet at once discerned
that she had in view some object, and when, as if by accident,
she dropped her costly handkerchief on the stage, he caught her
purpose and motive directly. He did not allow them, however, to
interrupt his speech, which was that that Cymbeline delivers at
the close of the play; and for some moments, the part he would
take in the matter was left open to conjecture. At length he set
it at rest, in the opinion of the Queen, by giving utterance to
that decisive sentence--

                    “Set we forward!”

Proud of her triumph, Elizabeth was about to turn to Lord
Southampton, and claim his submission, when the poet, after only
a moment’s pause, resumed--

                            “But,
  Before we go, yet hold a little space,
  Till we pick up our sister’s handkerchief.”

Thus speaking, he advanced, with a stately step, towards the
royal box, and, bending on one knee, presented the Queen with
her handkerchief. Amidst loud and earnest plaudits, which were
again and again renewed, he then turned to his former place, and
concluded his speech. Thus was the play closed, and another bay,
of unfading verdure, strung on the poet’s brow.

The Queen, though never willing to allow that her judgment was
at fault, was very well pleased with this adventure, and spoke
of the poet’s gallantry in terms of admiration. Before leaving
the theatre, she directed Lord Southampton to bring him to court,
and, at the same time, remarked, with considerable emphasis, that
he might there teach manners to some of her courtiers. Still
dwelling on the subject, she quitted the theatre, and repaired,
under the escort of the court, to the water-side. There she took
barge, and, with the turn of the tide, passed down the river to
Greenwich.

Among those who accompanied the Queen to Greenwich palace was
our friend Sir Walter Raleigh. As captain of her household
guard, he was the most nearly associated with her; and his fine
person, and agreeable and polished manners, in which he was
excelled by few, with his many admirable endowments, were thus
ever under her eye. A princess of such eminent discernment,
and so observant of merit, naturally regarded the possessor of
these advantages with great favour; but being ever open to the
approaches of the talebearer, and the attacks of the secret
slanderer, it was variable and precarious. Moreover, there was
hardly one person of the court, with the exception of the Earls
of Sussex and Southampton, and, perhaps, the Earl of Essex, but
saw in Raleigh a stumbling-block to himself, and was desirous
and anxious to promote his downfall. He was, therefore, after
all, in no enviable position; and the least dereliction of duty,
or deviation from propriety, would be sure to involve him in
disgrace and ruin.

These particulars being borne in mind, it will not excite
surprise, on reflection, that he had allowed so much time to pass
without making an effort to liberate Sir Edgar de Neville. Though
he had originally thought it would be easy to effect this object,
his conversation with Essex and Cecil, related heretofore, had
led him to another conclusion; and he now began to think that it
would be attended with difficulty. He was, however, not the less
determined to pursue it; and, during his progress to Greenwich,
he meditated how he could best interfere.

He landed at Greenwich without coming to any decision.
Nevertheless, the subject still engaged his consideration, and,
though the court passed straight to the palace, he remained
at the water-side, meditating how he should act. While he was
thus deliberating, an individual who was standing by, and whose
vicinity he had not observed, advanced to his side, and brought
his meditation to a close.

“Art thou Sir Walter Raleigh?” he inquired, respectfully raising
his hat.

“No other,” answered Sir Walter.

“Then, have I a billet for thee, Sir,” said the other, presenting
Sir Walter with a letter.

Sir Walter, whom the appearance of the stranger had somewhat
interested, eagerly accepted the letter, and tore it open. It was
written in a fair and legible hand, and ran as follows:--

“To the worshipful and most famous knight, Sir Walter Raleigh,
Captain of her Highness’s Guard, these.--

“Right worthy Sir Walter.--Hereby thou wilt be advertised of my
coming unto London, and of the sudden removal of my father, Sir
Edgar de Neville, to the gaol of Newgate, by warrant of Secretary
Walsingham. On thy promise of service, I make bold to solicit
thy counsel, and, if need be, thine aid, towards effecting his
release. The bearer hereof may be trusted.

“Worthy knight, thou hast my hearty prayers for thy welfare.

“Given under my hand and seal, this thirteenth day of August, in
the year of our Lord God 1579, at the Three Compasses, near the
Temple, London.

                                        “EVALINE DE NEVILLE.”

Sir Walter paused a moment after he had perused the letter. Then,
thrusting it into his vest, he turned to the messenger, and
proceeded to break his silence.

“This letter tells me thou art trustworthy,” he said. “What is
thy name?”

“Bernard Gray, your worship,” answered the person addressed.

“I have heard the name afore somewhere,” observed Sir Walter,
musing. “Ay, I remember; but it could not be thee.”

“It might be,” replied Bernard. “What doth your worship refer to?”

“The discoverer of the Popish plot in the North,” returned Sir
Walter. “God’s mercy, ’twas a wondrous escape of the Queen and
state!”

“It was so, blessed be God!” exclaimed Bernard. “Ah, I see thou
doubtest me! Well, we will no more of this.”

“I’faith, I did not mind me thou wast a Papist,” said Sir
Walter, “or I would have mentioned no such matter. But God be
with thee! Tell thy mistress, in answer to her right welcome
letter, that I will meet her in Greenwich Park, under the third
tree from the Blackheath-gate, at seven of the clock this even. I
would even wait upon her at her lodgings, but in my present case
I dare not. Dost understand?”

“Right well, Sir,” answered Bernard.

“Be wary, then,” rejoined Sir Walter; “and keep thy lips close
locked. With this caution, I give thee a good day.”

“Good day to your worship,” returned Bernard.

They parted with this valediction. Bernard, turning on one side,
pursued his way to the road, and Sir Walter passed straight to
the palace.



CHAPTER III.


Sir Robert Cecil had paved the way for the downfall of the Earl
of Leicester, and, at the same time, achieved one step towards
the advancement of Essex; but these measures, though great and
momentous of their own selves, were but preliminary to what he
meditated. His next object, according to the plan he had laid
out, was to create a dissension between Essex and Raleigh; and,
while he pretended to be a friend to each of those personages,
to act really as an enemy to them both. This duplicity was not
motiveless, although, on a cursory view, its purpose may not be
apparent. He foresaw that Raleigh and Essex would henceforward
divide the favour of the Queen between them; and if, by pursuing
the policy specified, he could lead each to look upon the other
as a rival, and yet regard him as a friend, he would himself be
the real favourite, and they only his instruments.

The unsuspecting disposition of the impetuous Essex promised
him an easy prey; but the sagacious Raleigh, whose knowledge
of the world rendered him less unwary, would require more
tangible evidence of friendship than mere professions. It became
necessary, therefore, in order to secure his confidence, to
entangle him in some more complicated snare, and then work out
the issue as circumstances should dictate.

The man of policy had already laid his first toils, when Sir
Walter Raleigh, unconscious of danger, and still thinking of
the appointment that he had just made with Evaline de Neville,
entered the outer hall of Greenwich palace. At the same moment
that he entered on one side, an aged-looking man, of a grave and
venerable appearance, made his ingress on the other. The old man
was dressed in a long blue robe, embroidered, on the left breast,
about half-way down, with the royal arms; a high ruff, or frill;
and a black velvet cap, fitted close to his head. He walked very
lame, and leaned on a stout staff, headed with gold, which seemed
to bow beneath the weight of his age and infirmities.

Though somewhat discomposed, Sir Walter’s first impulse, on
observing the old man’s approach, would have led him to spring to
his side, and proffer him the support of his arm. Before he could
realize his intention, however, he caught the old man’s eye, and
it dealt him such a glance as forbade approach.

After his eye had thus rested on him for near a moment, the old
man, seeming suddenly to recollect himself, dropped him a formal
bow, and prepared to pass on. Sir Walter, however, though he saw
that he bore him no good-will, was not disposed to suffer him
to pass thus; and before he had yet taken a step forward, he
accosted him.

“Give thee good day, my Lord Burleigh,” he said. “I grieve to see
your Lordship walk so lame.”

“I would ye could all walk straight!” answered Burleigh, with a
sour and significant look. “Thy new friends, the Papists, be ever
walking lame.”

The gouty minister passed on with these words. His look and
manner, being so unusually churlish, had not been unobserved by
Sir Walter; and, taken in connexion with his words, they seemed
to him to menace him with some serious mischief.

He did not doubt that the pointed expressions of the minister
alluded to his friendly disposition towards Sir Edgar de Neville.
But, allowing his supposition to be correct, how had he been made
acquainted with this disposition, or how, in the present stage
of the affair, could it excite his enmity? This was a mystery--a
question which, with all his experience of courts and courtiers,
Sir Walter could not at the moment unravel.

Nothing transpired during the day to lend the uneasiness he began
to feel any additional incitement. The evening came at last; and
as the hour at which he had arranged to meet Evaline drew nigh,
with seeming reluctance and tardiness, he sallied into the park,
intending to proceed straight to the spot he had appointed.

Just as he entered the park, he observed the Queen, attended by
a train of lords and ladies, pacing a neighbouring walk. Though
the hour of his appointment was now fast approaching, this
circumstance induced him to pause, and, while thus stationary,
to reflect whether it would be advisable, when the Queen was so
close at hand, to seek to pass unobserved. While he was pondering
how he should proceed, the Queen, who had hitherto been walking
away from the palace, suddenly turned round, and discerned him.

It was not without gratification that the great Princess
observed herself to be watched by a man whom every unenvious
person admired. She did not doubt, from his mournful and
hesitating posture, that he was watching her with the deepest
interest, though awe of her rank induced him to do so by
stealth. There was something touching, as well as pleasing,
in this prostrate affection; and when it was revealed by an
individual of such eminent merit, its appeal to the sympathies
was irresistible. Elizabeth, supposing Sir Walter to be thus
influenced, resolved to lighten his misery, and graciously
beckoned him to approach.

As he drew nigh, her quick eye readily perceived that, though
he strove to conceal it, his manner was embarrassed, and his
countenance greatly dejected. These appearances, however, tended
to confirm the impressions she had conceived, and her yet fair
face became flushed with triumph.

“Why, knight! knight!” she cried, extending him her small hand;
“what hath happed?--I prithee, what hath happed?”

While she was yet speaking, she turned her head away, and dealt
what (notwithstanding its exceeding brevity) appeared to be a
significant look at one of the ladies in waiting. In a moment
afterwards, the crowd of courtiers who had been attending her
passed into another walk, and she and Sir Walter stood alone.

“Thou hast not told me what hath befallen thee,” remarked the
Queen, at this juncture.

“Methought your Highness looked coldly on me to-day,” answered
Sir Walter, at a loss for an excuse.

“Thy thought was false, then, knight,” returned Elizabeth. “But
even an’ it were true, could that make thee so melancholy?”

“Alas, your Highness, no evil could afflict me more!” said Sir
Walter. “But your Highness looks wearied. Shall I escort you to
the palace?”

“No!” answered the Queen. “I will rest me here a while.”

Here she turned towards an adjacent summer-house, on one side of
the walk, and, still leaning on Sir Walter’s arm, passed to its
interior. The summer-house, which was open in front, looked on to
the walk; but, as its seat was at the back, which was covered in,
they were perfectly private, and no one could approach without
first incurring their observation.

When Elizabeth had seated herself in the summer-house, she
beckoned Sir Walter, who had taken his station at the entrance,
to come forward, and seat himself by her side. The knight,
without further ceremony, obeyed the command, well knowing that
she liked such manifestations of confidence to be as slightly
dwelt upon as possible.

There was a moment’s pause after he had taken his seat. Sir
Walter, however, though a fear that he would have to neglect
his appointment with Evaline de Neville greatly disturbed him,
was too polished and experienced a courtier, and, what was a
greater advantage, too well acquainted with the character and
temperament of the Queen, to suffer this pause to continue.
Quickly collecting himself, he proceeded to thank her, in a
somewhat hyperbolical strain, but which was not unsuited to her
taste, for her marked and flattering condescension, and to pray
that her royal favour might ever stand immoveable between him and
his enemies.

“Enemies?” cried the Queen: “what enemies, my chosen knight?”

“Legion, legion, dread Sovereign!” answered Sir Walter. “And as
I know, and do heartily confess, that my merits be most pitiful,
and that ’tis only the gracious eyes of your Highness that view
them favourably, so I do often fear, in my hours of solitude,
that my enemies may sometime triumph with your Highness, and
compass my disgrace.”

“Have a better heart,” said the Queen, kindly. “But come! come,
I will secure thee! Take this ring”--here she drew a light ring
from her finger, and placed it in his hand--“and, whenever thou
shalt need my favour, let this be thy token to me, and thy suit
shall not fail.”

Sir Walter, with real and unfeigned gratitude, here dropped on
one knee at her feet, and, in this posture, respectfully caught
up her hand, and raised it to his lips.

“An’ our dearest thoughts be at any time visible,” he said, “when
I die, my liege, the pattern of this ring will be found graven on
my heart.”

“Aroynt thee, flatterer!” replied Elizabeth, with a smile, at the
same time turning away her head.

“Then, let me die, dread Sovereign,” pursued Sir Walter, in a
plaintive tone, “an’ I am to be shut out from the light of those
beauteous eyes! Take from me all thy favours; deprive me of my
high and unmerited fortunes; but suffer me, I beseech thee, still
to live in thy presence, for there only is life supportable.”

“Is it even so?” rejoined the Queen, turning back her head, and
regarding him tenderly. “Well, well--but who is this approaches?”

While she was yet speaking, the expression of her features
changed, and she darted an angry glance at the neighbouring
walk. As she did so, Sir Walter sprang to his feet; and, hastily
wheeling round, and turning his eyes in the same direction as the
Queen’s, confronted the Earl of Essex and Sir Robert Cecil.

“Your pardon, my liege,” said Essex to Elizabeth; “for, by my
sacred honour, I knew not you were here. Sir Robert and I,
crossing the park from Blackheath, came here by absolute chance,
and saw none about to intimate the vicinity of your Highness.”

“Enough, gentle Essex,” cried Elizabeth. “But we will homeward
now. Give us thine arm! Now, knight!” she added to Raleigh,
“where is thine?”

“At your Highness’s command,” answered Sir Walter, drawing the
arm she had extended through one of his.

Thus escorted, Elizabeth passed into the walk, and thence, at a
leisurely pace, into the walk adjoining. There she was joined by
the lords and ladies in waiting, and, after a brief promenade,
the whole party, following in the wake of the Queen, proceeded
thence to the palace.

It was a part of the household policy of Elizabeth, at this
period of her life, to extend her favour to several persons at
once, so that only herself should be supreme. By such a policy,
which seemed to open the way of preferment to every one, she
retained in her court all the most distinguished cavaliers of
the country, and, whenever she appeared in public, secured the
attendance and service of a train of handsome admirers. She did
not depart from her usual practice on the present occasion.
Throughout her progress to the palace, she divided her favour
between Essex and Raleigh so equally, that it was impossible to
say, from her manner and bearing, which had the higher place in
her regard, and the courtiers were quite at a loss to know whom
they were to pay their respects to.

Nearly half an hour elapsed before Sir Walter Raleigh could leave
the royal presence. Notwithstanding that the delay caused him
some annoyance, he was still highly elated, on reflection, at the
manner in which the time had been spent; and though he had no
hope that Evaline would wait so long a period over the hour he
had engaged to meet her, he resumed his design of proceeding to
the locality of the appointment with considerable complacency.

He passed into the first walk of the park without meeting
anything to repel this feeling. Before turning into the walk
adjoining, which led straight to his destination, he happened
to cast a glance around, and his quick eye detected the figure
of a man stealing behind one of the rearward trees. Though he
did not suppose that any one would make it a special business
to follow and watch him, he was anxious, lest he should be made
the subject of any scandalous reports, to pursue his present
object unobserved; and, therefore, the presence of an overlooker
disturbed him exceedingly. It did not, however, induce him to
halt. Still passing on, he thought that, if the person in his
rear were really watching him, his best course would be to turn
out of the walk, and proceed to the scene of his appointment
through the open park. Accordingly, after taking a few paces
in the walk, he made a short turn into the adjoining area, and
slanted off towards his destination.

In a short time, he reached the summit of a neighbouring hill,
from which he could view the lower park, except where it was
screened by the trees, to the very door of the palace. There,
looking round, he effected this survey, and satisfied himself
that no person was in sight.

On one side of the hill, a broad walk, running between two rows
of fine old trees, which almost met in the middle, led directly
to the Blackheath-gate; and, on ascertaining that no one was in
view, he turned hitherwards, and pursued his way towards the gate.

As he approached the gate, he distinguished the figure of a
female, with a long veil drawn over her face, standing under the
tree he had named to the messenger of Evaline. He came up with
her a few moments afterwards, and, to his great satisfaction,
discovered that the fair loiterer was Evaline herself.

Their greeting was cordial and sincere. Their salutations
interchanged, Sir Walter apologised to Evaline, in a few earnest
words, for having kept her waiting, and assured her that his
delay was not wilful, but had been owing to his unavoidable
attendance on the Queen.

“Indeed,” he added, with a somewhat mournful smile, “after my
duty to her Highness was fulfilled, I could not repair hither
straight; for on my way, happening to glance behind, I descried
some evil-minded dastard dogging me; and, to avoid him, I had to
make a great round.”

On hearing these words, Evaline, though she saw that Sir Walter
no longer apprehended that he was watched, could not refrain from
glancing wistfully down the walk, with the view of ascertaining
if any one was in sight. She discerned no person in the walk;
but, turning her gaze on the further side, she fancied that
she distinguished some object, not unlike the figure of a man,
leaning against one of the trees. Though she was not certain of
this, it caused her some alarm; and she pointed it out to Sir
Walter.

“Mayhap, thou art still followed, Sir,” she said. “Is not that a
man’s head yonder?”

Sir Walter turned an earnest glance on the spot she pointed out.

“No, ’tis not a man,” he answered. Then, with recovered
composure, he again confronted her, and pursued his speech.

“I have yet been unable, dear lady,” he said, “to compass thy
father’s liberation; but I hope to bring it to pass anon. There
be more difficulties in the way than I had looked for.”

“Alas!” sighed Evaline, her dark eyes filling with tears.

“Nay, be of good cheer!” resumed Sir Walter, in a tone of deep
sympathy. “A day or two, at furthest, will set him at liberty.”

“An’ I could see him,” answered the fair girl, in a voice broken
with emotion--“an’ I could be with him in prison, and whisper him
a few words of cheer, it would ease my heart of half its sorrow.”

“Thou rather needest comfort thyself,” observed Sir Walter,
tenderly.

“No, I am young, and able to bear much--very much,” returned
Evaline. “If he saw me hopeful, he would not mourn; for all his
care is for me.”

“Hast thou sought access to him?” asked Sir Walter.

“Twice,” answered Evaline; “but fruitlessly.”

“’Tis a most cruel persecution,” said Sir Walter. “But fear not
for the issue, dear lady. To-morrow, an’ events be not notably
adverse, I will unfold the matter to the Queen, and secure you
her protection.”

“I cannot thank thee,” faltered Evaline, turning away her head.

Sir Walter, not without emotion, gently pressed her hand, and
suffered her to weep a few moments in silence. After a brief
interval, he again addressed her; and in a soft, soothing tone,
which fell on her depressed spirit with the most assuasive
effect, exhorted her to take comfort, and to look to the morrow
with confidence and hope.

Whether from his words, or from some other cause, Evaline became
more composed in a short time, and, though she spoke in an
agitated voice, was able to answer him.

“Thou art very, very kind,” she said. “We must bow to God’s will:
and with His blessing, and thy help, we will even bear up. But I
will not detain thee longer, brave Sir!”

“I will attend thee to thy horse, dear lady,” replied Sir Walter.

“Thou mayst then be observed,” returned Evaline, “and ’twere
running a risk, under passing circumstances, for which there is
no need. The man who bore thee my letter waits without the gate;
and my servants, with our horses, which I thought it best not to
bring so far, wait us on the heath.”

“Thou hast in all things done well,” rejoined Sir Walter. “Be
sure, I will bear thy business fairly in mind. Meantime, I bid
thee farewell!”

“Farewell, worthy Sir Walter!” answered Evaline.

Sir Walter, doffing his plumed hat, raised her hand to his lips,
and then suffered her to depart. He watched her till she had
passed out of the gate, when, with a somewhat thoughtful step, he
turned away, and proceeded slowly down the walk.

He had gone but a short way down the walk, when he broke off
into the park, on the side where, after following the line of
the outer heath for some distance, it takes a sweep round to
the river. It was a beautiful evening, and the hour, which was
approaching eight, was not so advanced but that it was quite
light. Everything looked gay, and buoyant, and cheerful; and,
though the splendour of the day had passed off, the verdure of
the grass and foliage, which had now attained its most perfect
tint, had lost none of its freshness, or looked a whit less green
in the mild light of the evening. The nimble fawns, too, which
were scattered in groups over the prairie, evidently met the
evening with a welcome, and sported and raced about with unwonted
spirit. Now in groups, anon in pairs, or singly, they shot
across the park, or, like trusty sentinels, watched the solitary
passenger who had intruded on their domain, as though his
vicinity and progress caused them alarm. But Sir Walter, absorbed
in meditation, noted none of these things. He pursued his way
over the area without looking round; and the sweet tranquillity
of the scene, which, in its diversity of wood, and hill, and
dale, all clothed with verdure, embraced a hundred beautiful
accidents, quite escaped his perception.

Thus progressing, he came to the top of a high hill, looking down
on the river, and crowned, about the centre of its summit, with
a solitary oak. This fair tree, which gives the hill its name,
was then arrayed in foliage, and, in its upland situation, looked
truly like the monarch of the realm below.

Pausing on the crown of the hill, he seemed, for the first time
during his ramble, to understand his local position, and to
look with interest and pleasure on the objects around. In its
peculiar features, the landscape which those objects constituted
had no peer in the world. In his rear lay the noble park, with
its surface varied by fair valleys, and gentle eminences, topped
with trees; and, here and there, traversed by broad avenues, to
which unbroken lines of oak and elm, but principally oak, were
appropriate landmarks. On his side, at the verge of the park,
rose the stately palace, with a flag, on which was emblazoned
the royal arms, floating from each of its two dome-capped towers,
and marking it as the residence of the Sovereign. Beyond could be
seen a forest of tall masts, which a glance on his further side,
down the river, would change for a view of Kent, extending as
far as Shooter’s Hill. Opposite to him was spread the low coast
of Essex, creeping back, from where its turfy limit was laved by
the river, to inland heights, which tall woods seemed to mark as
its natural boundary. Before him flowed the matchless Thames,
coursing along, on either hand, as far as the eye could reach, in
twenty graceful sweeps; and bearing on its calm bosom hundreds of
barks, with their white sails swelling under the volume of the
evening breeze.

No one could contemplate such a scene with indifference, and,
though he had often viewed it before, Sir Walter Raleigh, on
waking from his reverie, scanned its varied features with the
liveliest enjoyment. He did not, however, tarry long on the
hill. After a brief pause, he set forward again, and--for the
steepness of the descent obliged him to pick his steps--passed
slowly, but not mournfully, towards the further park.

Whether it be true, or not, what some assert, that men sometimes
have an instinctive foreboding of a coming ill, there certainly
are moments when we are more inclined to look forward to
calamity, than to anticipate success. And, perhaps, it may not be
difficult, on a close survey, to make this dejection appear to be
really the work of instinct. As the guiding influence of man is
distinguished from that of brutes by its attribute of reason, so
all its promptures, though without our perception, regard more
than the passing time, and are tempered by a look at the future.
When the judgment is healthy, this look, however closely pursued,
will ever have some savour of hope; and if we cast hope aside,
the judgment loses its distinguishing characteristic, and sinks
to the level of an unrestrained instinct.

During his progress to the palace, the cheerfulness which Sir
Walter had derived from external nature, in contemplating the
prospect from One-Tree Hill, subsided, and his melancholy
returned. The depression seemed to weigh him down, and, despite
his efforts to repel it, to take the shape of a presentiment.
Though his strong mind wrestled with the feeling, he found
himself, every now and then, anticipating some evil, and looking
forward to misfortune as if it were actually in view.

His dejection increased as he approached the palace. As he was
advancing to the palace-door, a pursuivant, who was standing by,
came up to him, and delivered to him a sealed billet. Sir Walter,
glancing at the superscription, perceived that it was from the
Queen, and eagerly tore it open.

The billet ran thus:--

“To Sir Walter Raleigh, knight, these:--

“Sir Knight,--On the receipt hereof, we will that thou retire,
with thy most convenient speed, to thy house in the Strand, and
there hold thyself a prisoner during our pleasure.

“Given under our hand and seal, at our palace of Greenwich.

                                                   “ELIZA, R.”



CHAPTER IV.


When the Spanish cavalier had entered the boat, Hildebrand seated
him beside him, and then, in a low tone, directed the rowers to
give way, and make for the ship.

Though a fresh breeze was abroad, the water, sheltered by the
high land around, was calm and placid, and laved over the muffled
oars in soothing silence. The boat glided over the quiet waves
like an arrow, yet, in the stillness and darkness that prevailed,
seemingly without propulsion, and as though it moved by its own
unaided will through the rolling element.

After a brief interval, they came in sight of the ship, and
shortly hove alongside of her. The look-out man, who was
standing in the gangway of the ship, then threw them a rope, and,
with cautious and noiseless steps, they severally mounted to the
deck.

On gaining the deck, Hildebrand’s first proceeding, in resuming
the command of his ship, was to ascend to the forecastle, and,
by a glance around, ascertain the ship’s exact position. He
distinguished the low hull of the gun-boat, which Halyard had
described to be lying alongside, somewhat ahead, at about a
gun-shot distance. He could not discern any one on her deck, and
he thought that, if the darkness continued, he might be able,
with a little management, to pass her unobserved. If he succeeded
so far, he had no fear but he would pass the puntals, or forts,
which guarded the mouth of the harbour, with the same result.
Once at sea, he might bid pursuit defiance.

He formed his plan in a moment. Descending to the quarter-deck,
he called for Halyard, and explained to that person, for the
guidance of himself and the crew, what he contemplated.

“We must first slip our cable,” he said. “Let the men unbend the
sails, and make the yards square; and when we once get headway,
the breeze, I doubt not, will carry us on. Meantime, have the
guns charged, and the deck cleared for action; for the gun-boat,
if they observe our purpose, will give us some trouble.”

“Ay, ay, Sir,” answered Halyard.

“I will just see my young friend safe below,” pursued Hildebrand,
“when I will rejoin you. Have everything done in silence.”

“Ay, ay, Sir,” repeated Halyard.

Hildebrand, leaving him to carry his injunctions into effect,
here turned away, and passed forward to the young Spaniard.
Taking that person by the arm, he led him aft, where a hatchway,
opening on a close ladder, allowed them to descend to the cabin.
A lighted lamp, which was fastened with a screw to a stout
oak table, on one side of the cabin, enabled the Spaniard
to survey this apartment, and its snug aspect seemed to take
him by surprise. Though not more than ten feet square, it was
arranged with so much compactness, and such excellent taste,
that it looked quite roomy. There were no settles or stools,
but a locker, or projecting box, ran round the sides; and the
top of this, which abutted about a foot from the main wainscot,
served for seats. Both the locker and wainscot, which lined the
cabin throughout, were of fine-grained oak, polished very high,
and capped by a moulding of the same material. The wainscot
opened on either side, about halfway up, with a panelled slide,
and exhibited, within, a small recess, or, to borrow a nautical
phrase, berth, which a mattress and blankets intimated to be a
sleeping-place. In the quarter that faced the door, or entrance,
which opened towards the fore part of the ship, an attempt had
been made, by a not untasteful hand, to lend the sombre hue of
the wainscot some degree of decoration; and on a panel at either
end, four pistols had been ranged in a circle, with their barrels
turned towards each other, which had a very pleasing effect. On
the opposite side of the cabin, shooting up from the hold, a part
of the ship’s mainmast was visible; and in front of this, fitting
to its abutting round, was the cabin-table, which, like the
wainscot, was of oak, and exhibited a fine and brilliant polish.

While the young Spaniard was noting these several particulars,
Hildebrand drew forth from his vest, with a somewhat tremulous
hand, the note he had brought him from Inez. Inclining his head
towards the light, he tore it open, and read therein these
words:--

“The bearer hereof, my fair cousin, Don Rafaele, being now here
in peril of his life, must needs accompany thee to England. Thou
canst not see me now; but as thou bearest thyself towards him,
whom I give over to thy protection, so shalt thou hereafter be
regarded by

                                                      “INEZ.”

Hastily raising his eyes, Hildebrand saw that, while he was
reading the letter, Don Rafaele had been watching him, but that
he had averted his gaze directly he raised his head. Concerned at
his discomposure, he hastened to give him such a welcome as, in
the hurry of the moment, he thought might re-assure him.

“Fair Sir, be of better heart;” he said, cordially clasping his
hand. “Thine own good parts would make me glad to be thy friend;
but for her sake who wrote this note, and whom we may never see
more, I will hold thee dearer than mine own self.”

“I thank you,” faltered the cavalier, without raising his eyes.

“Thou art very, very young,” continued Hildebrand, as he observed
his bosom swell with his emotion. “But fear not! The world is not
so perilous as we are apt to suppose.”

“No more,” returned Don Rafaele, in a firmer tone. “I doubt thee
not, and have no fear. But I am sad--very sad.”

“That gives me more grief that I must leave thee,” said
Hildebrand. “We may have some fighting above, and I, of course,
as captain, must brave it awhile. Do thou promise me thou wilt
stay here.”

“I will,” answered Don Rafaele.

“Then, I will leave thee awhile,” rejoined Hildebrand.

So speaking, he dropped the cavalier’s hand, and turned away. The
next moment he had mounted to the deck.

As he set his foot on the deck, the ship, which hitherto had been
pretty steady, began to move, and he saw that his injunction to
cut the cable had been fulfilled. Casting a glance around, he
perceived that the sails, according to his instructions, had been
all unbent and squared, and the men assembled at their several
quarters. He was still looking round, when he was joined by
Halyard.

“All’s ready, Sir!” said that person.

“Who is at the helm?” asked Hildebrand.

“Tom Tarpaulin.”

“Then, I will post myself beside him,” resumed Hildebrand. “Do
thou look out for’ard.”

Without further discourse, he ascended to the poop, or stern
of the vessel, and stationed himself beside the helmsman.
Tarpaulin--for the helmsman was no other--was steering straight
before the wind’s eye, in a slanting direction, under the stern
of the gun-boat, which was about two ships’ lengths ahead. From
their superior elevation, they were able to view the deck of the
gun-boat; but whether from the darkness, or that the deck was
really unoccupied, they could not distinguish any of the crew.
Gradually they drew closer and closer to the gun-boat’s stern.
They scarcely ventured to breathe at this critical juncture; and
the silence of so many men, all prompt for action, and within
view of each other, augmented its terrible interest. The creaking
of the tall masts, bowing before the breeze, and the hoarse
murmur of the waves, as they turned aside before the ship’s
bows, only made the silence more apparent, and the ear returned
no echo to their inanimate noise.

A brief interval brought them right athwart the gun-boat’s stern.
There was no alarm. They still passed on, as at first, without
interruption, though now in a more direct course. The turn of
the helm, by which their course had been changed, brought them
abreast of their enemy, at about twenty feet distance. The
death-like silence still prevailed: every ear still thrilled with
excitement; when the full, deep voice of Hildebrand, raised to
its highest pitch, rang through the vessel.

“Master Halyard!” he cried, “put out all our canvas, man the
after guns, and prepare for boarders!”

The silence was now at an end. The naked feet of the sailors,
obedient to the orders of Halyard, were heard rushing in various
directions over the deck; the hauling of ropes, the flapping of
canvas, the creaking of spars, bending under the weight of sail,
rendered a response to the whistling breeze; and, above all, the
voices of some half-dozen men, as they set the mainsail, were
heard merrily singing--

  “Hoy, hoy, hoy!
  Mainsail, lads, hoy!
  Mainsail, mainsail, hoy!”

The crew of the gun-boat were equally alive. Men were seen
scrambling over her deck fore and aft; several lights flamed
on her forecastle; and it was evident that, though not yet in
motion, she was actively preparing to give them chase.

They had scarcely begun to make good way through the water, when
Hildebrand discerned the gun-boat following. Propelled by a
score of oars, she gained upon them quickly, and it was clear,
on regarding her progress, that a conflict would be unavoidable.
Though the Englishman sailed gallantly on, she drew nearer and
nearer every moment. At last, she fired a gun, and the charge,
which the report seemed to indicate as a twenty-four-pounder,
struck the fugitive’s stern, just above the water.

Still the latter vessel held on her course. The gun-boat, whether
doubtful of the effect of her shot, or more desirous to push the
pursuit, did not fire again for several minutes. By that time,
having thrown her whole force into the chase, she had come nearly
abreast of the fugitive, at a distance of about a dozen yards.

The Englishman was well prepared to receive her. His lower-deck
guns, embracing six long twenty-fours, were all manned, and, as
he was much higher in the water than she was, sunk to her level.
To avert observation, however, the lower deck was left without
a light, and, consequently, his readiness for action was not
discernible. Being unable to distinguish the open port-holes, the
Spaniard, under the guidance of his rowers, approached without
suspicion. While he was yet scarcely abreast of the fugitive,
he fired two guns, of the same calibre as his first, right into
her bulwarks. The lower deck of the fugitive was lighted up in
a moment; before the smoke, which issued like a fog from the
two discharged guns, had cleared away, her gunners had raised
their portfire, and she swept the Spaniard’s deck with her whole
broadside.

The report of the guns was still booming over the water, when
a heartrending shriek, even more startling than the roar of
the artillery, rose from the deck of the gun-boat. At the same
moment, the smoke, which now rendered the darkness almost
tangible, was broken with bright red flames, shooting up from her
deck like waving rockets, and her hull was circled with volumes
of fire.

The breeze that insured her destruction served to shoot the
Englishman ahead. Though thus pushing forward, however, the crew
of the latter vessel, now released from action, still heard
the cries of her doomed company. They were audible for several
minutes, when, all at once, they became perfectly hushed. The
next moment, the gun-boat blew up, and shot into the air in a
thousand fragments.

A buzz of horror arose from the crew of the “Eliza” at this
consummation of the catastrophe. The shock was so great, that,
though now a good distance from its locality, their own ship was
shaken by it, and bumped on the waves as if they were a rock.
After the unanimous buzz specified, however, no one ventured to
speak, and they pursued their course in solemn silence.

Hildebrand was the first to collect himself. Like his men, he
had turned, almost mechanically, to view the explosion, and was
wheeling round again to the binnacle, or box before the helm
(which, it may be explained, contained the compass), when a small
and trembling hand was laid on his arm. Labouring under intense
excitement, this slight incident made him start; but his face,
though it remained pale, betrayed no anger as his glance fell on
Don Rafaele.

“In the name of God, what hath happened?” asked that person, with
terrible calmness.

“We are safe yet, Senhor,” answered Hildebrand. “Be of good
heart, and go below again.”

“I had rather die here,” rejoined Don Rafaele.

“An’ thou wilt not go below, sit thee down on the deck,” said
Hildebrand. “A short space more will discover our fate.”

The Spaniard, without a word more--for he saw that Hildebrand
was not inclined for further discourse--disposed himself in the
manner recommended, on the further side of the binnacle. As he
did so, the ship entered the narrow channel of the harbour, and
the crisis which Hildebrand had mentioned approached.

On one side of the channel stood the principal puntal, or fort,
called St. Lorenzo, which guarded the harbour’s mouth, and the
garrison of which had evidently been alarmed by the explosion of
the gun-boat, and were now on the alert. The other side was the
mainland, and presented a lee shore, lined with breakers, which
the sea, in its progress to the strand, covered with boiling
surf, whiter than snow. In order to avoid the cannon of the
fort, Hildebrand was obliged to steer straight for the breakers,
and (to use a nautical phrase) “hug” a shore that threatened
destruction. After a hasty survey of his position, he resolved
on this course without a moment’s hesitation. The breeze,
though fresh, was not violent, and he thought that, if the ship
were tacked on the instant he directed, they might weather the
breakers successfully. In this belief, he ordered every man to
his post, and directed that all things should be arranged, as
they progressed onward, to tack with promptitude.

All eyes were turned towards the fort as the ship entered the
narrow channel. The moon was now up, and the tall masts of the
cruizer, with every stitch of canvas expanded, and puffed out
with the wind, seemed to offer a good mark to the puntal’s guns.
The crew were not left long to conjecture whether those guns
would be brought to bear upon them. Directly they got fairly
into the channel, a bright flash, like a tongue of fire, shot
out from the nearest battery, and the ear shook under the boom
of cannon. The shot fell short of the ship, on its larboard bow;
but on the starboard, the lee shore, at less than a gun-shot
distance, seemed to menace her with instant destruction. Though
cannon after cannon was now discharged from the fort, every eye
turned involuntarily to the opposite shore, where the roar of the
breakers, and the thundering din of the surf, which shot into
the air in a thousand fountains, almost silenced the report of
the artillery. The stoutest heart quailed as the milky foam drew
nearer and nearer: lips that had never uttered the name of God,
from their childhood upward, except to profane it, convulsively
gasped to Him in prayer: eyes that had often looked down steadily
from the trembling topmast, through the rage and conflict of a
tempest, turned giddy before the prospect; and the most stubborn
bosoms were sensible of a thrill of dismay. They approached
closer and closer to the shore: it seemed impossible, when one
ventured to glance to leeward, that they could ever weather it,
even if they did not strike immediately. The stillness of death
was over the crew, when, just as destruction appeared inevitable,
the voice of Hildebrand rang through the ship.

“All hands, jibe ship!” he cried.

The wind thundered through the canvas; the “hoy, hoy” of the
sailors, pulling the halyards, pierced the ear like a fife; the
tall masts groaned again; and the rush of feet over the deck, the
hauling of ropes, the shrill whistle of the pulleys, the boom
of the cannon, and the hoarse roar of the breakers, all mingled
together, constituted a din too terrible to dwell upon.

For a brief space the fate of the anxious crew was uncertain. It
was an awful interval, though so brief, and the most resolute
hearts felt a thousand fears. The sails, right through the ship,
fore and aft, had been veered instantaneously; but for a moment
they backed to the wind. In this fearful juncture, all eyes were
turned towards the ship’s stern. The tall figure of Hildebrand,
towering over that of Tarpaulin, who was standing before him,
was there distinguished at the helm, and the hopes of the crew
revived as they saw their destiny in the hands of their commander.

The gallant ship answered her helm. After a short pause, the
canvas caught the breeze, and gradually bellied out. The ship
bore away from the breakers, and, in less than a quarter of an
hour, gained the clear water.

The change in her position brought her in front of the mainland
puntal, called Metagorda, which opened fire upon her directly.
Having passed the narrow channel, however, she was far out of its
range, and the shot fell harmlessly into the water. In a short
time she reached the mouth of the harbour, and a loud “hurrah”
from the crew, rising unbidden from every lip, announced all
danger to be past.



CHAPTER V.


On clearing the harbour of Cadiz, Hildebrand put his ship on a
southward course, intending, while he was yet favoured by the
wind, to run for the Azores. He had previously learned from
Halyard, on discussing the policy of such a step, that the
Mexican fleet was still at sea, and he was in hopes that he would
come up with it about that quarter, if he should not meet it on
the way. In this expectation, he set everything in order to carry
the design which led him to seek it practicably out.

Meantime, Don Rafaele, on coming on the open water, was attacked
with sea-sickness, and was obliged to be carried to the cabin.
Having seen the watch set, and directed a good look-out to be
posted for’ard, Hildebrand followed him thither, purposing to
attend to his requirements himself. He found him bestowed in
bed, in one of the two sleeping-berths, but, as may be imagined,
far from being disposed for sleep. He was, however, equally
indisposed for conversation, and, when Hildebrand approached
to greet him, he waved him back, and buried his head under the
bedclothes.

For three successive days, he remained in the same state, without
taking any food, or uttering a single word. In the mean time,
the wind, which had originally been no more than what is called
“fresh,” gradually grew boisterous, and, on the second day,
increased to a gale. Owing to this circumstance, Hildebrand was
obliged to be constantly on deck, superintending the changes
which, conformably to the cautious navigation then followed,
were continually being made in the disposition of the ship.
Nevertheless, he made it a point, every now and then, when he
could be spared for a moment from his duties, to visit the
cabin, and inquire if his friend’s sickness had abated. With all
his unfailing attention, however, he could draw from the sick
Spaniard only a monosyllable answer, and his recommendations of
refreshment were always wholly unheeded.

Towards the evening of the third day, the wind abated, and, as
a consequence of this change, the rocking of the ship, which
had hitherto been excessive, became less violent. The subdued
motion had a decidedly beneficial effect on the health of Don
Rafaele. He answered Hildebrand’s inquiries more fully, and
though, with that distaste for food which is a peculiar feature
of sea-sickness, he still declined to eat anything, Hildebrand
succeeded in prevailing on him to take a cup of wine. The wine
acted as a soporific, and, after a short interval, he sank into a
profound sleep.

It was broad day when he awoke, and, raising himself up in
his berth, he found the sickening qualms which he had lately
felt less oppressive, and the whirling sensation in his head,
which had been even more afflictive, sensibly mitigated. Owing
to the subsidence of the wind, the motion of the ship was now
comparatively gentle, and, as he found himself able to sit up, he
seemed to acquire more confidence, and ventured to look out on
the cabin.

There was no one in the cabin, and the sleeping-berth opposite,
which he knew to be appropriated to Hildebrand, was also
untenanted. The cabin was quite light; for though there were no
windows, a large skylight rose through the ship’s deck, about
the centre of the cabin, which enabled him to distinguish every
object. Under the skylight was the table, and, happening to
glance thitherwards, he perceived, to his great satisfaction,
that it was set out for a meal. The sight of the eatables,
arranged in tempting order, on a clean white table-cloth, excited
his appetite; and for the first time since he came on board, he
felt inclined to eat. He seemed to hesitate a moment; and then,
extending his arm, he reached his clothes, which were lying at
the foot of his bed, and proceeded to dress himself.

When he had donned his clothes, he stepped over the locker, which
was just below his berth, on to the deck, and looked round the
cabin more narrowly. In the furthermost corner, adjoining the
doorway, or entrance, and fitting in a small recess, there was a
wash-hand stand, furnished with a pewter bason; and above this,
a pewter water-vessel, which hung from a nail in the wainscot by
a string of oakum, tied securely round its long and broad-rimmed
neck. A looking-glass, and a towel, apparently fresh from the
laundry, hung on contiguous nails, and, remembering the locality,
formed altogether a toilet not to be despised.

The eyes of the young cavalier brightened as these several
articles incurred his observation. With a step which, considering
the motion of the ship, and his debilitated condition, was far
from being unsteady, he hastened to bring them into use. Before
he did so, however, he carefully closed the door; and, with the
aid of a bolt which he found under the lock, and which he shot
into the socket, secured himself against intrusion. This done, he
raised his hand to his lips, and--for they now proved to be only
an assumed feature--drew off his moustachios. His face displayed
quite another expression on the removal of the false moustachios.
His eyes, which were large and full, seemed to look softer, and
to assume a more melting and feminine beauty. His other features
also gained by the change, and their exquisite and faultless
outlines, running into each other in imperceptible gradation,
presented in every turn a new charm, and a more fascinating
sweetness. Even his complexion appeared less masculine and
vigorous; and its pure alabaster ground, rounded with deep red,
which a pensive but stirring animation almost illuminated, would
have more become the face of a mellow girl, than that of an
approaching man.

He soon despatched his ablutions, and, with the aid of the
napkin, and the looking-glass (but more especially the latter),
shortly fulfilled his toilet. This refreshing process completed,
he turned to the contiguous table, and regarded the various
eatables which there rose to view, in the order before described,
with augmented satisfaction and appetite.

Nevertheless, when he came to sit down, a very thin slice of
ham, with a fragment of biscuit, and a small cup of wine, served
to appease his hunger. Though he ate so sparingly, however, his
meal greatly refreshed him, and, on rising from the table, he
felt himself possessed of increased vigour, and animated by a new
spirit.

After pausing a moment at the table, he stepped towards the
door, and proceeded to ascend to the deck. The motion of the
ship, which otherwise might have retarded his progress, was now
very gentle, and, with the help of an accommodating side-rope,
he passed up the ladder with ease. As he stepped through
the hatchway to the deck, he observed Hildebrand, with his
lieutenant, Halyard, standing right before him, and, steadying
his foot against the combing, he stretched out his hand, and
seized him familiarly by the arm.

Hildebrand--whose face had been turned the other way--started
round directly.

“Well done, my brave Senhor!” he exclaimed, with an earnest
smile, at the same time clasping the cavalier’s extended hand, “I
am right merry to see thee up again.”

Before Don Rafaele could make any reply, Master Halyard, hearing
the salutation of his captain, also turned round, and caught up
his other hand.

“Shiver my topsail!” cried the honest tar, in an odd mixture of
Spanish and English phrases, “but I be heartily glad to see thee
afloat again, Master Don. ’Tis sheer idling to lay long on one’s
beam-ends. Life is but short; let us live well on the road, says
the gentle Shepherd of Salisbury Plain.”

“I thank you both, fair gentlemen,” answered Don Rafaele. “I now
feel quite strong again, though, having the heart of a landsman,
I still long for the shore. But have we the breeze with us?” he
added, with that curiosity about the wind, which, whatever may be
our situation, one always feels at sea, and is never inclined to
check.

“Right heartily,” replied Hildebrand. “Mark how gallantly we
buffet the waves!”

Don Rafaele, with a smile, raised his eyes, and swept them
eagerly around.

When we behold ourselves out of sight of land for the first
time, with no horizon, as far as the eye can any way pierce, but
the unbroken sky, rising from the water’s edge in gradual and
inseparable lines, and covering the vast circle we move in with
its eternal dome--which, shoot forward as we may, still presents
the same circuit, and seems to hold us ever in its centre;--when
we view such a prospect for the first time, the heart feels, in
the surrounding immensity, a keener sense of its own littleness,
and of its insignificance in the scale of the creation, than in
any other situation that life affords. The black waves, mounting
in a hundred heads, and then falling under one crowning swell,
which, rolling forward, is itself overtopped, and lost in its
successor:--the black waves, thus rushing by, remind one of the
onward course of life, of the mutability of human fortunes, and
the briefness of mortality.

Such was the reflection that rose in the mind of the young
Spaniard. But it passed away directly, and the more cheerful
features of the scene--for it was not without cheerful
features--engaged his whole attention.

The sun was high in the heavens, and a long line of dazzling
sunshine, looking more like light than reflection, was spread
out in the wake of the ship, making the white surf that marked
her course fairly sparkle. The sky, though so high over head,
was almost transparent, and the few clouds that broke its vast
arch were light and buoyant, and served rather to relieve its
sameness, than to contract its beauty. Nor were there wanting
objects of interest on the water. Looking over the ship’s side,
Don Rafaele beheld, at a little distance, squadrons of gulls,
not unvaried in their plumage, sailing gaily by, or occasionally
mounting into the air, and wheeling round and round towards the
sky. Alongside was the active porpoise, rolling over and over
on the waves, and seeming, by the regularity of his progress,
to measure his speed to that of the ship. Every now and then,
too, a lively bonito, either from mere sportiveness, or to
avoid some approaching and voracious enemy, would leap bodily
into the air, and, after performing a perfect summerset, drop
into the deep again, and be seen no more. If the eye pushed its
survey further, the ship herself, viewed from the quarter-deck,
presented much to arrest its attention. The white sails, spread
out before the wind, which filled them to the brim, were not its
most interesting feature. Sailors were perched in various parts
of the rigging, on the yards, and in the shrouds, gazing intently
for’ard, whose seemingly perilous situation was a more engrossing
object. Don Rafaele, unused to the economy of a ship, turned
pale as he observed them, and, wheeling round to Hildebrand, he
inquired if there was any reason for their being thus disposed.

“They are there of their own choice, Senhor,” answered
Hildebrand, with a smile.

“Surely, no!” returned the incredulous Spaniard.

“Indeed, it is even so,” said Hildebrand. “Those birds thou seest
yonder, and the scraps of trees and seaweed floating by, tell
them we are near land, and they are striving who shall hail it
first.”

“A merry conceit, truly,” observed Don Rafaele. “See!” he added,
pointing to the top-gallant mast, to which the stout frame of
Tarpaulin was clinging, “how yon frail stick, every now and anon,
bends with the weight of that sturdy man! Couldst thou thus
sustain thyself, Sir Lieutenant?”

“I am no ways particular, Master Don,” answered Halyard.

“No, in sooth?” replied Don Rafaele. “Well, I believe thee; and
yet, my life! ’tis a right perilous elevation. I’faith, a hair’s
turn would there take life away.”

His remark offered a tempting opportunity to Halyard to speak
with effect; and though, as Don Rafaele paused, he saw that
Hildebrand was about to reply, he interposed immediately, and
gave his sentiments utterance.

“Well,” he said, very quickly, in order that he might come in
before Hildebrand, “life is but short; let us live well on the
road, says the gentle Shepherd of Salisbury Plain.”

“Land, on the larboard bow!” cried Tom Tarpaulin, from the head
of the top-gallant mast.

“Land, on the larboard bow!” cried a dozen voices, from various
parts of the ship.

All was bustle and excitement in a moment. Even Don Rafaele, who
had scarcely been able to steady himself hitherto, comprehending
what the cry signified, sprang nimbly to the side of the ship,
and looked anxiously round the horizon. Trusting entirely to
instinct, however, he made a slight mistake in the direction,
and, instead of going to the larboard bow, posted straight to
the starboard. He was gazing earnestly round, when Hildebrand,
who had observed his error, came up with him, and led him to the
proper quarter.

Leaving the quarter-deck, they passed to the forecastle, where
they were able, from their greater elevation, to view the horizon
more fully. Some little time elapsed, however, before Hildebrand,
with all his quick sight, could fix the object which he wished to
point out to Don Rafaele. At last, he achieved his purpose, and
succeeded in bringing it under that person’s observation.

It was like a mist, rising out of the water, on the extreme verge
of the horizon; and appeared to be no larger than a man’s hand.
Gradually--but by very slow degrees--it grew more apparent,
and, after the eye had rested on it for a short space longer,
presented a bold and distinct outline.

On this simple object the inmates of the good ship “Eliza” gazed
earnestly for several successive minutes. The most protracted
gaze elicited no more than was seen by a first and cursory
glance; but, though they were not ignorant of this, every one
still looked upon it, after they had viewed it over and over
again, with unabated interest. It was a landmark, and, though it
was land that they were never to tread, it connected them, by
association, and by the train of images that it involuntarily
forced into their minds, with the world that they had left, and
showed that the wide waste of waters around was not their only
home.

For a little time, Hildebrand and Don Rafaele surveyed the
dim landmark in silence. After he had satisfied his curiosity
respecting its aspect, however, the latter person, in his usual
musical voice, proceeded to inquire its name.

“And what land may that be, Senhor?” he inquired of Hildebrand.

“’Tis the island of St. George, one of the Azores,” answered
Hildebrand.

“Be the Azores on the way to England?” asked Don Rafaele, with
some surprise.

Hildebrand, from whatever motive, made no reply at the moment;
but, turning round, first led him back to the quarter-deck. When
they had come to their former position, by the after-hatchway, he
rendered an explanation.

“Of a surety, they are not in the direct way to England, Senhor,”
he said, “for our purpose does not take us thither straight.
’Twas for this, and not that I liked not thy fair company, that I
hesitated to bring thee with us from Cadiz.”

“Oh, I care not! I care not!” answered Don Rafaele, with a
smile. “I’faith, I am quite a mariner now.”

“Ah, Senhor!” returned Hildebrand, “we may, perchance, never
tread the merry land again. And in this apprehension, I account
not the perils of the sea, but the more fatal perils of war.”

Don Rafaele looked downcast.

“To one bred up to war, these give no concern,” continued
Hildebrand; “but thou art of another mould, and, moreover, too
young to be exposed to them.”

“To speak fair sooth,” answered Don Rafaele, in a tremulous tone,
“I never cared to turn soldier. ’Tis a merry life, certes; but
commend me to a more peaceful one.”

So spiritless a sentiment was not calculated to excite a response
in the martial bosom of Hildebrand. Although, however, on its
first utterance, he originally deemed it mean and unmanly, a
moment’s reflection served to set the young Spaniard’s character
before him in more pleasing and favourable colours. His noble
heroism in the prison, in throwing himself between him and the
alguazil, when such interposition appeared to entail upon him
inevitable death, had not escaped his memory; and, though it
was but a momentary impulse, he considered that this act alone
answered for his courage, and denoted him to be the possessor of
many admirable qualities. He had, moreover, from the nature of
the events that had brought them together, and which had marked
their acquaintance up to the present moment, insensibly begun to
look upon him with regard, and so was further inclined to slight
anything that might arise to his disparagement. Thus influenced,
he replied to the cavalier in a soothing tone, and without taking
any exception, either by his words or manner, to his somewhat
irregular sentiment.

“In the passing instance, Senhor,” he said, “thou canst not even
have the excuse of a soldier for seeking to display thy courage.
The enemy we shall encounter will be thine own countrymen.”

“Alas!” sighed Don Rafaele.

“Wert thou not with us, I should look for the issue less
impatiently,” pursued Hildebrand; “but, as it is, I cannot
conceal from thee, in anticipation of the worst, that their force
will greatly surpass ours.”

“But we may miss them,” said Don Rafaele.

“But an’ we do not,” answered Hildebrand, more cheerfully, and
with some approach to a smile, “thou must promise me, if we go
into action, that thou wilt hold thyself below the while, and not
engage in a contest wherein thou hast no concern.”

“That do I promise heartily,” replied Don Rafaele, with much
earnestness.

“’Tis a wise resolve, and a brave,” said Hildebrand; “for
’twould become thee ill to take part against thy country. It
grieves me sorely to see thee in peril at all.”

“Nay, let it not deject thee,” rejoined Don Rafaele. “When thou
art at hand, I have no fear.”

The confidence breathed in his remark made Hildebrand smile.

“Thou leanest on me thus,” he observed, in a grave tone, “because
thou art young. Youth is trusting; but wert thou older, thou
wouldst look on me, who am known to thee for so brief a space,
with more wariness, and less reliance.”

“In sooth, no, never!” said Don Rafaele, earnestly. “Hardly could
thine own self make me ever doubt thee.”

He paused, and, as though he had just become sensible of
the eagerness with which he had spoken, and the warmth and
earnestness of his manner, and, for some reason or other,
considered such a manifestation unbecoming, looked confused.
Turning to avoid observation, his eye fell on the ship’s shrouds,
and he there discerned something that, seized on the instant,
furnished him with an excellent opening for retreat.

“Madonna! see your lieutenant, Senhor!” he said, pointing to the
shrouds, which Master Halyard, in order to show that what he had
asserted to him was a fact, and that he was really “no ways
particular,” had mounted barefooted, and was now ascending on his
way aloft. “In faith, he treads the rope to measure, as though
there were music playing.”

His astonishment was increased when, on approaching the summit
of the shrouds, Master Halyard, instead of pushing through the
lubbers’-hole, took the more venturous route upward, and drew
himself on to the topmast-landing over the outside. When he had
gained the landing, he came to a halt; and previous to pursuing
his progress, in which he had yet made but little way, swept his
eye round the horizon.

“A sail to leeward, Sir!” he cried to Hildebrand.

Hildebrand, thus addressed, turned his eye in the direction
specified; but, though he surveyed the horizon earnestly, could
discern no trace of the reported ship.

“Three more sail to leeward, Sir!” cried Halyard.

Again Hildebrand turned his eye on the horizon.

“Three more sail to leeward, Sir!” cried Halyard.

Hildebrand’s countenance became more grave.

“Ho there! at the helm!” he shouted: “Bear off a point to
windward!”

“Ay, ay, Sir!” was the ready answer of the helmsman.

“Now, Senhor, seize thee a grasp of that pin,” said Hildebrand to
Don Rafaele, at the same time pointing to a belaying-pin, or hold
for a rope, that stood out of the ship’s bulwark.

Don Rafaele, without inquiring the object of such a procedure,
grasped at the pin on the instant, and then looked to Hildebrand
for further instruction. While his eye yet rested on his face,
the helmsman, conformably to his recent orders, suddenly turned
the helm, and the ship gave a violent pitch on the water.

Don Rafaele turned pale as he felt the deck tremble under him;
but, having a firm hold of the belaying-pin, he maintained his
footing with ease.

“Two more sail to leeward, Sir!” cried Halyard.

Hildebrand, after another glance at the horizon, which revealed
no more than his former ones, raised himself on the ship’s
bulwark, and mounted into the shrouds. Thence he passed to the
topmast-landing, and there, coming to a halt, joined Halyard.

In this elevated position, he quickly discerned the topmasts of
the nine ships, like so many separate specks, scattered over the
verge of the horizon. His survey, however, did not satisfy him,
and, after a moment’s pause, he parted from Master Halyard, and
pushed up higher aloft.

It was curious, if any one had marked it, to see what an effect
his ascent from the deck produced on Don Rafaele. That cavalier
had watched the ascent of Master Halyard, described heretofore,
with evident interest, but without any show of anxiety; but no
sooner did Hildebrand mount the shrouds, than, all at once, he
became violently agitated. As he viewed his progress upward,
his face became pale and red by turns, as though his blood,
according as fear or hope predominated, advanced and receded with
the mariner’s every step. When Hildebrand had gained the topmast
landing, he seemed, by the deep breath he exhaled, to have quite
a burthen taken from his heart, and to become more composed.
But his composure lasted only while Hildebrand was stationary.
Directly that person mounted the upper shrouds, on his way to the
top-gallant mast, his emotion revived, and became even more and
more lively. He scarcely breathed till he saw him gain the foot
of the top-gallant mast. But when, with no help but the adjacent
tackle, which appeared to be hardly strong enough to hold up its
pulleys, Hildebrand hoisted himself to the yards above, he seemed
to lose himself in his excessive agitation. His face fairly
quivered; his lips parted, as it seemed, in speechless terror;
and, every now and then, he turned away his eyes, as though
their continued contemplation of Hildebrand’s giddy height could
not be endured.

At length he beheld Hildebrand clinging round the crowning
spar of the ship. As the ship rose and fell over the waves,
the slender mast, if it might be called a mast, rocked him to
and fro, and appeared on the point of snapping asunder every
moment. Don Rafaele would have been concerned for a bird in
such a dizzying situation. He could look up no longer: if he
raised his eyes, he felt giddy himself, and his head swam again.
Apprehensive that his agitation might excite remark, which,
whatever was his motive, he evidently desired earnestly to avoid,
he was about to turn away, when he heard Hildebrand call out.

“Ho, Master Halyard!”

“Ay, ay, Sir!”

“Four more sail to leeward, Sir!”

Don Rafaele, overcome with terror, covered his eyes with his
hand. He felt as though the fate of Hildebrand depended on him,
and that, if he looked up, the giddiness he would feel would
seize on Hildebrand, and cast him down headlong. With this
feeling, he remained perfectly still for several successive
minutes. The brief interval seemed an age; and the uninterrupted
rise and fall of his noble chest, which his declining attitude
only revealed more fully, showed that it stirred within him the
deepest emotion. While he was yet thus agitated, he felt some
one’s hand laid gently on his arm, and, starting round, he found
Hildebrand at his side.

His soft black eyes sparkled again as he beheld him in safety.

“In sooth, now,” he said, with a bright smile, “I never thought
to see thee here again. Madonna! but thy dexterity is exceeding
marvellous!”

“Thou thinkest so,” answered Hildebrand, “but mariners, who go
aloft for mere sport, hold it lightly. But I grieve to say, we
shall even need to have marvellous dexterity afore to-morrow.”

“Is danger so nigh?” asked Don Rafaele.

“Within sight, Senhor,” returned Hildebrand. “But I care not for
it myself: my only care is for thee.”

“In faith, I thank thee,” said Don Rafaele, in an earnest tone.
“But let thy heart be light. I am right content to be with thee;
and, ’fore God, could I be safe back again at Cadiz, I would
prefer me to be in peril at thy side. Be of good heart, then. I
am no way afeard.”

“Beshrew me, but thou makest me love thee,” said Hildebrand.

“Would God I did!” murmured the cavalier. But, seeing that
Hildebrand was about to reiterate his declaration of attachment,
he added quickly, with some embarrassment,--“Well, well, I
believe it. But I must below. This change of motion makes me
reel.”

“Thou wilt be more at ease below, then,” observed Hildebrand.
“Moreover, my pantler, by his presence at the hatchway here,
invites us down to dinner.”

The pantler, or steward, whose appearance on the deck was thus
considered introductory to dinner, was standing in the contiguous
hatchway; but on the instant that he was sensible of having
incurred Hildebrand’s attention, he receded from the aperture,
and retired to the cabin. Thither he was quickly followed by
Hildebrand and Don Rafaele, and, in a short time afterwards, by
Master Halyard, who also was in the secret of his noonday visit
to the after-hatchway.

Their meal was soon despatched. When they had brought it to a
close, Master Halyard, rising from the table, announced it to be
his intention to “turn-in,” as he conjectured that they would
that night have little opportunity of taking their usual rest.

“I’faith, no!” answered Hildebrand. “And with thy good leave,
Senhor,” he added, to Don Rafaele, “I will even commend me to an
hour’s sleep myself.”

“Prithee do,” said Don Rafaele, with an appearance of
solicitude. “Thou wilt be the better for ’t.”

“’Twould not be amiss for thee,” replied Hildebrand. “Afore
midnight, we may, if this breeze continue, be all confusion.”

“Well, well, I will lay me down,” returned the young cavalier;
“for though I be in no mind for sleep, my giddiness doth ill
qualify me to sit up.”

With these words, he rose from the table, and turned round to his
berth. Planting his feet on the locker, and holding on by the
panel above, he easily raised himself to his berth, and scrambled
on to the bed within. Hildebrand disposed himself in the berth
opposite, and Master Halyard, to use his own phrase, “hove-to” in
a hammock, in the steerage, without the cabin-door.

Although Don Rafaele had not retired to his berth with the
intention of seeking repose, but had thrown himself down without
undressing, he had not been long in a recumbent posture,
reflecting on the various circumstances of his situation, before
he was overtaken by sleep. It was, however, a restless slumber,
broken by repeated starts, and was not calculated to refresh or
invigorate him. Still he slept on; and an increased violence in
the ship’s motion, and a variety of noises that prevailed on the
deck above, with other adverse incidents, alike failed to awake
him.

It was quite dark when he did awake. The ship was pitching a
little; and this, with the darkness that prevailed, and the
solemn silence, broken only by a solitary footfall overhead,
pacing the quarter-deck, or an occasional creaking of the
mainmast, depressed him severely. He was soon to have more
serious cause for dejection. While he was musing what course he
should pursue, and whether it would be better, as the night had
now set in, to remain in his berth, or to take a turn on the
deck, the silence that prevailed was suddenly interrupted by the
clamour of several voices. Footsteps were then heard passing over
the deck, and, after a brief pause, the rolling of a drum broke
on his ear.

The stirring call to arms rolled through the ship like thunder.
Scarcely had its echoing voice been awakened, when sounds of
stir and bustle, including all manner of noises, rose from every
part of the ship. In a few minutes, however, both the rolling
of the drum, and the din that it created, and which was even
more spirit-stirring, died away; and except for the passage of
an occasional footstep over the deck, or the sound of a voice,
raised somewhat above the ordinary pitch, all was quiet.

It might reasonably be expected, from his youth, and his gallant
appearance, which one could hardly separate from ideas of
manliness, that Don Rafaele could not hear the martial rolling
of the drum without feeling some of those animating impulses
which it was so eminently calculated to excite. But, however
reasonable such an expectation might be, the issue no way bore it
out. Far from inspiring him with courage, the stirring alarum,
with the various and conflicting noises that ensued, struck him
with a panic; and he felt more inclined to cover himself with
the bedclothes, than eager for action. His excitement was so
intense, that it pervaded his whole frame; and, as the din on
deck continued, he trembled in every limb. He grew more composed
after a while; but whether from fear, or that the excitement he
sustained had affected his nerves, and so was beyond his control,
he was still excessively agitated. Nevertheless, he no longer
seemed disposed to remain in his berth. As the restored silence
was prolonged, he planted his two hands firmly on his bed, and
made an effort to rise. Just as he had raised himself up, the
roar of artillery burst on his ear; and the ship, which had been
sailing pretty steadily a moment previous, reeled under the shock
of a dozen cannon.



CHAPTER VI.


How uncertain is our tenure of any one possession! We stand in
the midst of accidents, their top and vane. Constantly looking
forward, we yet hardly enjoy what is actually passing, and the
substantial advantages which we see in perspective, and conceive
ourselves almost certain to attain, often present to the grasp
only unmeaning shadows.

What prospect can be so distinctly apparent that we may calculate
on its fulfilment with unmingled confidence? However certain it
may appear at the passing moment, a few brief hours, stealing
silently and unheeded by, may render it one of the most unlikely
things imaginable. In that short interval, the auxiliaries on
which we rely, and from which our expectations mainly spring,
may be subjected to influences that will entirely change their
relations, or, should they themselves remain unchanged, they may
fail in their resources, or the onward progress of Providence may
have operated in a hundred other ways to bring us disappointment.

On the morning after Evaline de Neville had met Sir Walter
Raleigh in Greenwich Park, she arose from her bed with a
confident expectation that, by bringing her case under the notice
of the Queen, Sir Walter would speedily release her from her
present distress, and effect the liberation of her father. From
what Sir Walter had said the previous night, this expectation, on
the whole, was far from being unreasonable, and, though depending
on various provisos, offered itself to view with the assurance of
certainty. Nevertheless, one short hour had hardly elapsed ere it
fell utterly to the ground.

She had just seated herself at the breakfast-table, with Martha,
who was now her only and constant companion, seated at its lower
end, when old Adam Green, her father’s valet, entered the chamber
with a letter.

“There is a serving-man below, my lady,” he said, presenting the
letter to Evaline, “who charged me to bring thee this; but he
holds the name of the writer a secret. Master Gray is also below.”

“Bid Master Gray come to me, Adam,” answered Evaline, at the same
time accepting the letter.

Her countenance fell as she tore the letter open. It was from Sir
Walter Raleigh; and informed her, in a few cautious words, of
that person’s loss of the Queen’s favour, and forced retirement
from the court. Thus, in one brief moment, were all her hopes
blighted,--all her expectations overthrown.

After she had once learned the tenor of the letter, she hardly
retained sufficient perception to carry her to its close. As her
eye arrived at the concluding signature, she felt her head whirl
again; and, dropping the letter, she fell back in her chair in a
swoon.

Martha, who had been anxiously watching for the effect which the
letter would produce on her features, and, seeing her become
dejected, was preparing to console her, sprang to her assistance
in a moment. But, unused to see her so deeply moved, the fair
girl was herself so agitated, and, withal, so ignorant of what
would be serviceable in such a case, that she could do no more
than catch her in her arms, and call for more efficient succour.

Aid was nearer than she supposed. While she was yet calling out,
the door of the chamber, which was right opposite to where she
stood, was pushed open, and Bernard Gray rushed in.

“What hath happened?” he cried, with a look of concern, at the
same time springing to her side.

He needed no explanation when he had once glanced at the face of
Evaline. Without saying a word, he caught up a jug of water from
the table, and proceeded, with all the tenderness of a nurse, to
lave it gently over her temples. He watched the effect of his
application with the most intense anxiety. No one, indeed, could
have gazed on that fair face, now void of bloom and expression,
without feeling an almost equal degree of interest and sympathy.
Its surpassing beauty looked all the purer and more refined for
its lack of animation. Her black hair, falling loosely back, in
a dozen fairy ringlets, seemed almost to sparkle in its contrast
with her alabaster forehead. The long, raven fringe of her
eyelids, which, from their exquisite sphericity, were themselves
invested with a charm, was equally striking, and nearly as
fascinating as her veiled eyes. Her every feature, indeed, from
her brow downwards, still held out some attraction, which would
not have been apparent in the animation of the whole, and would
have lost its softness under the touch of expression.

Earnestly as Bernard surveyed these several particulars, his
contemplation of Evaline did not engage him so entirely, above
every other object, as to make him quite overlook the less
striking beauty of Martha. In the present disposition of that
person, this was, indeed, exhibited to the highest advantage.
Beaming with solicitude for her mistress, her pure and dazzling
complexion, rounded with the brightest red, seemed to reflect and
illustrate the amiability of her heart. Though her light-brown
locks did not offer the same contrast to the forehead that was
afforded by those of her mistress, they were still lovely, and
in perfect keeping with her complexion. The same might be said
of her eyes, which were of a deep blue, and though, from her
ardent anxiety for Evaline, now dimmed with tears, endued with a
depth and lustre beyond expression. Being so young, her figure,
though tall, was not yet matured, but its outlines were full of
promise, and revealed the most chaste and exact proportions.
This was particularly apparent in the mould of her shoulders,
which, in her agitation, had just pushed themselves above her
frock, and were thus partly visible. As they incurred Bernard’s
notice, he could not but mark, by a hasty but searching glance,
their faultless symmetry, and the grace and accuracy with which
they were turned. But his sympathies, though deep and ardent, and
now peculiarly alert, were too exclusively engaged by Evaline to
allow him to pause on Martha’s charms, and, after he had cast
a rapid glance over her person, his attention became wholly
engrossed by her mistress.

The application of the cold water to Evaline’s forehead, in the
manner described, quickly had a beneficial result. In a brief
space, she opened her eyes; and the delicate lines of colour,
which were previously quite dormant, again mounted to her cheeks.
She was still very dejected; but as her eye, on looking up,
encountered the anxious gaze of Bernard, her face became more
animated.

“All is over, my friend,” she said. And again drooping her head,
she burst into tears.

“Lady, hold thee up,” said Bernard, in a gentle tone, “and look
before thee hopefully! Was not Lazarus dead yet four days, and
locked in his grave, ere our sweet Lord came to help him?”

“Alack! alack!” sobbed Evaline.

“Sweet mistress, be of good cheer!” cried Martha, in a broken
voice.

“Sir Walter Raleigh, who, under Heaven, was my tower of hope, is
disgraced,” said Evaline. “What can we look for now?”

There was a pause.

“I’faith, I grieve as much for good Sir Walter, as for
ourselves,” observed Bernard, at length. “But stand to ’t
bravely, lady. Thy cause is not yet hopeless.”

“No!” answered Evaline, raising her brimming eyes to heaven: “we
have still a Friend above!”

As she pronounced these words, the tone of her voice, always
musical, was so soft, that it seemed to embody the soothing
influence of the sentiment, and in its full, deep cadences, to
hold out an assurance of support to the speaker’s self. Nor was
it without a very decided effect on the feelings of Bernard.
His emotion was apparent on his face, which, besides turning
very pale, looked more than usually melancholy. His eyes, in
particular, reflected this expression very distinctly, and, by
their quick but subdued light, afforded a clue to the fierce
struggle that was passing within.

“Art advised o’ that?” he said, respectfully taking up Evaline’s
hand. “Go to, then; I tell thee, thy father shall be set free!”

“Oh! that I could see him!” cried Evaline, in broken accents.
“Could I once more hear his voice, which hath so oft bade God
bless me, methinks I could even die happy.”

“Sweet lady, talk not of dying, I prithee,” said Martha, in a
faltering voice.

“Go to! she shall see him!” exclaimed Bernard. “I will about it
straight.”

He turned away while he spoke, as though he would pass to the
door. Ere he had taken a step forward, however, Evaline sprang
after him, and, laying her hand on his arm, induced him to pause.

“Whither goest thou, Master Gray?” she asked, with deep
earnestness.

Her trembling hand rested on his arm as tenderly as it might
have clung to a brother’s. Her pale face, lit up with a sudden
animation, was pushed round before his; and her eyes ran over his
features with the most intense anxiety. A deep flush spread over
his countenance, and, with a slight but abrupt effort, he threw
off her grasp, and broke away.

“Anon, anon,” he said, in a thick voice.

Without looking round, or uttering a word more, he stepped
hastily to the door, and passed out of the chamber.

After he had closed the door behind him, he resumed his progress,
and proceeded down the stairs to the hall. Thence he pursued his
way to the street.

On reaching the street, he pushed forward again, and did not
abate his pace, which was remarkably quick and vigorous, till he
had passed through Temple-bar. Here, though the road was more
open, and the passers-by offered much less opposition to his
progress, his pace gradually slackened; and he seemed to be lost
in a maze of thought.

Remorse had come upon him at last. The true goodness of his
nature, which a pursuit of retaliation had so long pressed
under foot, was no more to be dormant; and a voice rang in his
ear--“Vengeance is mine: I will repay, saith the Lord!”

Evaline’s pale face still confronted him. He had gazed on it
often before; and the inward sorrow that it had revealed, more
touching in its calm look of endurance, had invoked his deepest
sympathy. Now, however, its influence had sunk deeper; it had led
him to look at himself; and, on the unveiled tablet of his own
conscience, he found the deed recorded that had covered Evaline
with affliction.

In vain did he seek to justify himself, by recalling to mind,
in all their hideous and infernal frightfulness, the appalling
abominations of the Popish reign of terror. Still a voice within
denounced his pursuit of retaliation; the Divine commandment,
to “return good for evil,” which he had previously hardly ever
thought of, still thrust itself before him; and he writhed under
the whispers of his accusing conscience.

His strong frame was convulsed with the violence of his inward
commotion. For years he had had but one object; almost his whole
life, since he had been able to exercise his judgment, had
been devoted to one all-engrossing pursuit; and he had had no
thought, no hope, no wish, but for vengeance--vengeance which
should know no scruple, and spare neither age nor sex. If he
had ever paused--if the tenderness of his earlier disposition
ever revived, and sought to interpose--the image of her he had
loved, and whose beauty, excellence, and piety, unmoved by a
thousand distresses, had only seemed to excite more fully the
enmity of her Popish persecutors, rose up before him; and he
cast all pity aside, and called for vengeance still. But in the
last sad, patient look of Evaline, his long-departed mistress,
far from urging him to avenge her, had seemed to appeal to him
in Evaline’s behalf. It was the self-same look that he had so
often adored on the lovely face of Dame Clifford. It showed that,
though a Papist, Evaline was equally loveable; that she was
endued with the same noble endurance, the same deep sensibility,
and the same ardent affections. His heart, which had so long
disdained the restraining scruples of pity, turned cold at the
reflection, and all its native tenderness revived.

When he averted his head from Evaline’s appealing look, a project
had occurred to him, without premeditation or forethought, by
which he might bring her troubles to a happy issue. Though
it threatened danger to himself, he resolved on it without
hesitation, and forthwith hastened to carry it into effect.

After he had passed through Temple-bar, his pace, as has been
observed, gradually slackened, but he did not come to a halt.
Still moving on, he came to Somerset House, and thence pushed
forward to the Strand.

A short distance past the entrance to the Savoy, or western
sanctuary, he broke off from the Strand, and turned down towards
the river. The road lay between two walls, in one of which, on
his right hand, and about half-way down the road, there was a
gateway, opening into an adjoining garden. On coming before
the gateway, he seized the handle of a contiguous bell, which
protruded from an indenture in the gate-post; and proceeded, with
a steady hand, to draw it forth.

Just within the gate, on one side of the avenue on which it
opened, was a small lodge, from which his summons quickly drew
forth the vigilant porter.

“So, soh!” cried that functionary, in a pompous voice, as
he cast a contemptuous glance at Bernard’s somewhat worn
habiliments: “who have we here?”

“Is my Lord Burleigh abroad yet, master?” asked Bernard, without
deigning any answer to his inquiry.

“Oh!” said the porter, opening his hands and rubbing them
together: “Ah! truly!”

“Thou wilt have no fee from me,” pursued Bernard. “See here!”
And thrusting his hand within his vest, he drew forth a slip
of paper, and held it under the porter’s eye. Glancing at the
unfolded paper, that person, to his great dismay, read thereon
these words:

  “The bearer is in my employ.

                      “W. BURLEIGH.”

His whole manner altered in a moment.

“Fair Sir,” he said, in a fawning tone, “my Lord is up, but not
abroad yet. Wilt please thee to enter, Sir? I will have thee
conducted to his presence incontinently.”

Bernard, without a word of reply, pushed through the gateway,
and passed up the avenue towards the house. The porter followed
him, but, on their arrival before the house, passed to the front,
and led the way into a spacious hall. There, as he expected, he
encountered one of the household servants, whom he charged to
lead Bernard to their master.

“Tell my Lord that one Master Gray would speak with him,” said
Bernard.

The servant, warned of Bernard’s influence by the recommendation
of the porter, and awed by his authoritative bearing, promised
compliance, and passed to his master’s presence with that view.
In a few minutes he returned, and informed Bernard, in the same
respectful manner, that his master would see him, and waited his
approach in an upper chamber. Bernard, with a taciturnity not
unusual to him, and which he maintained on the most inopportune
occasions, signed to him to lead the way; and thus instructed,
the servant marshalled him up the stairs to the minister’s
closet. There, stepping back to the gallery without, he left him
and the minister to themselves.

That sagacious personage, from whatever cause, took no notice of
Bernard’s respectful salute, although, from his very first entry,
he fixed his eyes on his face with apparent interest. His gaze,
however, though it was prolonged beyond his wont, had no effect
on the pale features of Bernard, and he met it perfectly unmoved.
Whether his insensibility, or, to speak more accurately, his
unconcern, satisfied the wily premier, or because he had gazed
his fill, he dropped his glance after a while; and signed to
Bernard to possess himself of a neighbouring chair.

Lord Burleigh was never disposed to say more than was absolutely
necessary. On the present occasion, he was not disposed to say
anything; but intended, in the first place, to allow Bernard
to deliver all he had to say, and, when he was master of his
business, regulate his demeanour as circumstances might dictate.
Bernard, however, knew him too well to be thus entrapped; and,
remaining silent, the minister was ultimately compelled to speak
first.

“Well,” he said.

“I am glad on’t, my Lord,” answered Bernard.

There was a pause.

“Hem!” said Lord Burleigh.

Bernard looked up, but continued silent.

“There is a rumour of a new plot toward,” said Lord Burleigh.
“Hast thou heard aught concerning it?”

“Thou knowest I have not been an idler, my Lord,” answered
Bernard, “and have well earned the small allowance thou makest
me, and which thou hast thyself oft wanted to double. Moreover--”

“Good!” exclaimed Lord Burleigh, testily. “But the matter!”

“Thou wilt doubtless recollect, my Lord,” pursued Bernard,
“that ’twas I first informed thee of the great conspiracy in the
North, which cost my Lord Westmoreland his head. Afterwards, I
told thee of the plot to wed the Duke of Norfolk to the Queen of
Scots.”

“Well, well,” muttered Burleigh.

“Did not I refuse the rich guerdons thou wouldst have dealt me,
my Lord, and give all my pains for nought?” asked Bernard.

“Thou didst so, and thereby approved thyself a right loyal
subject,” said the minister.

“I say nothing, my Lord, of the early tidings I gave thee of my
Lord Leicester’s marriage with my Lady Sheffield,” continued
Bernard, “because I sought therein to gratify your Lordship,
rather than serve the state.”

“What doth all this preface portend?” demanded the minister, in
an abrupt tone.

“Thou hast thyself said, my Lord, that I have approved myself a
right loyal subject,” answered Bernard. “Thou knowest, too, that
I have served the state, not for gain’s sake, but oft at mine own
proper cost, out of pure love. Will it be ever thought, then,
that I, having these merits, would seek your Lordship’s ear for
one of the state’s enemies?”

“’Twould never be so thought by me,” replied Burleigh, less
impatiently.

“There is now in Newgate, my Lord, on a state warrant, one whom I
know to have done no crime,” said Bernard. “I would humbly sue to
your Lordship, on the strength of my good services, that he may
be set free.”

“Innocent, is he?” returned Burleigh. “Well, I would not deny
thee a small thing. How doth he name himself?”

“Sir Edgar de Neville,” answered Bernard.

The minister’s brow darkened. “Ah!” he cried.

Bernard, looking up, met his scowl with an unruffled brow, but
ventured no reply.

“Innocent, is he?” reiterated Burleigh. “These are bold speeches,
Master Gray. Why, the man hath murderously slain one of thy
fellows, is bound up with the Spaniard, and, to crown all, is a
pestilent Papist. I have this on the word of--”

“A rank knave, my Lord,” said Bernard, seeing him hesitate to
name his authority: “even of Master Shedlock, his inveterate
enemy.”

The enlarged observation displayed by his answer, showing that,
wherever he might be placed, his eyes were always on the alert,
was far from drawing upon him the minister’s displeasure. Indeed,
it reminded him how serviceable he had been to the state, and to
himself personally, in time past, and determined him to retain
him in his service at whatever cost. Unfortunately, however, the
charge against Sir Edgar de Neville was of so serious a cast,
and had been urged with such an appearance of truth, that it
could not be dismissed without a full investigation; and though
policy and state-craft inclined him to comply with his emissary’s
request, his sense of justice, which he rarely disregarded,
forbad him to interpose, and suggested that he should allow the
law to take its course. But on one point he was resolved, and
that was, that, come what might, he would in no case offend his
emissary.

In this frame of mind, he shortly replied to that person’s
remark.

“I knew not Master Shedlock was a knave,” he said, “but rather
thought otherwise, seeing that, from whatever cause, he hath
acted with much zeal in this matter, professing it to evidence
a new plot. But even an’ he be what thou call’st him, how doth
that, which concerns only him, certify the innocence of the
prisoner?”

“The prisoner, my Lord, says that he was journeying peaceably on
the highway, when he was wantonly assailed by two armed men,”
answered Bernard. “While he was beating these men back, there
came that way a certain traveller, who, seeing him hard pressed,
straight rode up to his succour. By this cavalier was the man
deceased put to the sword; and the other, without waiting a
further issue, thereupon made off.”

“Wherefore, then, hath this cavalier, whoever he be, not been
brought forward?” asked Lord Burleigh. “Hath no one any knowledge
of him?”

“He is well known to Sir Walter Raleigh, my Lord,” replied
Bernard.

“Ah!” said Burleigh, knitting his brows.

Bernard was silent.

“’Tis a most strange story,” resumed Burleigh, after a pause.
“Could not this doughty cavalier, who slew one ruffian, arrest
the other?”

“An’ that ruffian were produced, would the knight be set free, my
Lord?” asked Bernard.

“Of a surety he would,” answered Burleigh.

“Then, my Lord, I am he,” said Bernard.

Lord Burleigh drew back. If he were displeased at Bernard’s
audacity, his displeasure, in the first instance, was lost in
his surprise; and, for once in his life, he was unprepared to
express his sentiments. Nevertheless, he was too accustomed to
restrain and repress his feelings, on occasions more trying than
the present, to be thrown off his guard; and as he desired to
meditate before he spoke with Bernard further, he determined to
dismiss him till the following day.

“Come to me at this hour to-morrow,” he said. “We will then talk
further of the matter.”

“I commend me to your Lordship’s kind thoughts,” said Bernard.
“Meantime, as I take all the blame of the outrage to myself, I
would pray your Lordship to do me a grace therein so far, as to
suffer the innocent prisoner to be visited by his daughter.”

The minister hesitated a moment. Then, with more composure, he
caught up a slip of paper from the table, and, laying it down
before him, proceeded to write thereon. After he had crossed
it with a few lines, he folded it in the form of a letter, and
(for he had wax and a lighted taper ready at hand), sealing it
up, superscribed it to the Governor of Newgate. This done, he
presented it to Bernard.

“Here is a pass for her,” he said. “And remember thee,” he added,
in a significant tone, “thou art in great peril thyself. No more!
we will talk on’t to-morrow.”

Bernard, thus admonished, made no reply, but accepted the letter
in silence. Thrusting it into his vest, he dropped a humble bow
to the premier, and turned from the chamber.

Having passed out of the chamber, he did not linger without, but
pushed forward, under the guidance of the servant, who was in
waiting there, to the hall, and thence to the street.

The bitter passion which he had felt on entering the mansion
of the minister, as described heretofore, had passed away, and
his heart was weighed down no longer. Indeed, he felt more
cheerful and composed than he had been for many years. He was
still melancholy, but his melancholy was more rational, and
less despondent, and nearer to that which arises from ordinary
causes, than was its wont. The world seemed to open to him a new
and more material sphere. The cloud that had so long pressed on
his spirit, overshadowing and distorting every perception, was
now dispelled, and, in the light which it unveiled, he discerned
every individual object in its own proper colours.

Nevertheless, he was not altogether free from anxiety. It
is true, he felt comparatively easy concerning Sir Edgar de
Neville, as he conceived, however prematurely, that he had quite
cleared that personage from the crime and purposes imputed to
him. But in achieving this vindication, on which he raised such
a promising and felicitous perspective, he had brought great
danger on himself. Though he had rendered Burleigh such important
services, he was not so sure that, in a case like the present,
they would receive that consideration which was necessary to
his safety, as to feel perfectly confident respecting the
issue. But if, in this respect, his solicitude was painful, the
consciousness that it was the effect of an act of reparation was
soothing, and, in the “exceeding great reward” of an appeased
conscience, he was strengthened against the evil of the impendent
consequence.

Returning by the same route that had led him to the mansion, he
walked at a quick pace till he came to Fleet-street, when, with
whatever view, he suddenly adopted a slower step. But he did not
pause; and in a short time, passing steadily along, he arrived at
Evaline’s lodging.

This tenement, which was distinguished by the sign of “The Three
Compasses,” was a cutler’s shop; but, besides the entrance to
the shop, there was a private door, which was appropriated
exclusively to the fair lodger. It was before the latter door
that Bernard came to a halt; and a cumbrous clicket, or knocker,
just above its lower panels, enabled him to inflict thereon a
summons to the inmates.

The door was shortly opened, and Adam Green, the old valet,
presented himself at the aperture.

It will be remembered that Adam was the servant who, as was
set forth heretofore, had assisted Sir Edgar de Neville in his
contest with the robbers, and had afterwards named Bernard as
his adversary on that occasion. Although a great alteration in
Bernard’s appearance, and the friendly relations which were
maintained with him by Evaline, with the earnest zeal which he
invariably manifested in that lady’s service, had since led him
to refrain from reiterating this assertion, he did not feel
assured that it was wholly unfounded. His suspicion, indeed,
though he was silent, occurred to him often, and time rather lent
it confirmation, than wore it away. On the present occasion,
Bernard’s disordered manner, which his haste and agitation had
led him to overlook, reminded Adam so forcibly of the bearing of
his adversary in the affair of the robbers, that his suspicion
burst all restraint, and he quite started under its resistless
pressure.

Bernard, though he had observed him closely, took no notice of
his embarrassment at the moment; but first passed into the hall,
and closed the street-door.

“What ails thee?” he then demanded of Adam.

“Art thou he?” inquired Adam, in reply.

“No other,” answered Bernard, calmly.

“What brings thee here, then?” asked Adam, passionately. “Hast
thou not harmed us enow?”

“Hold thee there!” answered Bernard. “I have repented me. As
thou keepest peace in this matter, so shall it be measured to thy
master. Will that content thee?”

The eyes of the aged domestic filled with tears, and a look of
anxious indecision, which was even more distressing than his
tears, crossed his pale face. Bernard was moved.

“’Fore God,” he said, catching up Adam’s hand, “I am true, old
man! Mark thou how it will end!”

Adam looked up, and, raising his hand, devoutly crossed himself.

“So God deal between me and thee, as thou art true or false!” he
said, in an agitated voice. “But no more now, Sir! My mistress
hath been asking for thee earnestly.”

“Lead the way!” answered Bernard. “I have that for her will make
her glad.”

With a quick step, the old man, now quite composed again, led the
way up the stairs, and shortly brought him to Evaline’s presence.

She was sitting exactly as he had left her, with Martha, still
seeking to cheer her, at her side. They both rose, however, when
he entered, and Evaline gazed inquiringly in his face.

“God be with thee, lady!” he said, with a smile. “What wouldst
thou have?”

His smile, and the tone in which he spoke, which was more
cheerful than his wont, brought a flush of animation to Evaline’s
face, and the look of inquiry that she had fixed upon him became
more intense.

“Thou hast heard somewhat, Master Gray,” she said. “Is Sir Walter
Raleigh at large again?”

“I fear me, no!” answered Bernard. “But be of good cheer, fair
mistress. I have brought thee a pass to visit thy father.”

And, with another cheering smile, he drew forth the letter which
he had received from Lord Burleigh, and placed it in her hands.

As Evaline accepted the letter, her small white hands, though
they clasped closely over it, quivered like aspens. Drawing the
letter to her heaving bosom, she raised her eyes towards heaven,
and burst into tears.



CHAPTER VII.


The darkness is often greatest just before morning. At the moment
that all hope seems to be lost, the course of events, rolling
providently on, takes a new turn, and opens a brighter and more
cheering prospect. The worst, with all its tissue of terrors, is
frequently followed close by the better; and the wave which we
expect to engulf and overwhelm us, leaves us high and dry on the
shore.

The most trying crisis is not without some assurance of
amelioration or relief. If all else fail, the nobleness of man’s
own heart, bearing him up against the tide, is a resource and
comforter. In that he is provided against all evils, and armed
against every calamity. If he properly exercise his own innate
resources, affliction can never subdue him, but will rather
serve, by its searching and varied influences, to enlarge his
intellect, and unveil the treasures of his heart.

Sir Edgar de Neville had now been a whole week a close prisoner
in Newgate. The man who had inherited from his ancestors
thousands of broad acres, teeming with produce, had no other
habitation than a small room, some dozen feet square. The bare
stone walls, black with age, were broken only by the door and
window, the latter of which was far above his reach, and, as if
that precaution were not sufficient, was defended by several iron
bars. A pallet-bed, with a table, and two settles, or chairs,
embraced the whole furniture of the room, and served but to
render its nakedness more apparent.

He was a prisoner! As he paced the narrow limits of his cell, and
found himself, after a few brief strides, brought abruptly to a
halt, he felt as though he could tear down the stone walls with
his hands, and thus sally forth. The window aforenamed, though
small, admitted a free current of air; yet, whenever he thought
of his situation, he felt as if he were stifling, and could not
draw his breath. If he sat down, he became eager for action; if
he sought relief in exercise, his humour changed; and while he
had yet, in obedience to one prompture, taken but a turn or two
round the chamber, his restlessness forced him to his seat again.

Thus did he pass the first day of his incarceration in Newgate.
Night brought him no relief; and though, as the hour advanced,
he stretched his limbs on his humble pallet, he never thought of
disposing himself for sleep.

If he turned from the more immediate details of his situation,
his extended reflections, though more varied, were not less
distracting. His fair child was alone in the world. There was
no one to prompt her inexperience; no one to defend her from
aggression; no one, in her own sphere of life, with whom she
could “take sweet counsel,” and maintain the relations of a
friend.

In his sympathy for his daughter, his own situation presented
its most pressing hardship. He could have borne it alone: for
conscience sake, he could have sustained persecution, have
submitted to oppression, and have uttered no complaint. But to
be torn from his darling--his dear, loving child--was more than
nature could endure.

The promised support of Sir Walter Raleigh did not inspire him
with much expectation. It is true, he hoped, but doubtfully; and
the varying humour of his reflections, rolling back into the
past, and calling to mind all the grievances which the followers
of the Romish persuasion were subject to, represented succour
from a pillar of the Protestant church to be extremely uncertain.
Sir Walter, too, was involved in the intrigues of the court; was
an aspirant to royal favour; a partizan of particular interests;
and, more than all, an avowed and approved enemy to the very
existence of Popery.

Hildebrand was gone. On him, indeed, if the past could be relied
on, he might have placed dependence; but he was beyond recall.
It might have been so ordered wilfully. Hildebrand, with all
his seeming honesty, might be a malignant impostor, suborned to
betray him to the Government; and, at this momentous juncture,
possibly absented himself with a perfect foreknowledge of the
evil his absence would occasion. But, no! the thought wronged
him! it could not be!

He thought of his daughter seeking to effect his deliverance.
He fancied her, under the prompture of affection, throwing off
the reserve and timidity of her nature, and pushing to his aid
through all the shuffling influences of the world. He saw her
submit to the frown of scornful authority; he observed her suing
the interference of the powerful courtier; and he traced her,
at the last, to her own chamber, supplicating the protection of
her patron saint, or the countenance and support of the blessed
Virgin. As he pursued the imagined picture, he marked her pale
countenance, her pensive eyes, and her still bosom; and though
the surface was all placid, though her sweet disposition revealed
no shade of impatience, he knew how deeply she was stirred, and
that her heart was bursting.

The following day, he learned that, in conformity with his
expectations, Evaline had sought access to him, but had been
denied. He would have written to her; but the gaoler, in a
surly tone, informed him that this would not be permitted. He
remonstrated; but, wrapped in the arrogance of authority, the
gaoler made him no reply, but passed in silence from the cell,
and secured the door behind him.

Sir Edgar now contemplated his situation in its worst terrors.
He was like one in his grave, shut out from the world, and cut
off, in every individual relation, from his suffering child! What
might not happen to her during their separation, and he, walled
in that chamber, not even hear of it! How might she not pine, how
might she not be oppressed, or how insulted; and no one be nigh
to bid her be comforted!

His own troubles, for which he had furnished no provocation, had
made him violent; but in contemplating the affliction of his
daughter, exposed to all the contumely of the unfeeling world, he
was subdued. In _her_ loneliness, he saw no resource; and as he
fancied her struggling with her fate, alone and unfriended, and
without one certain auxiliary, his eyes filled with tears.

Day followed day without bringing him relief. Each successive
morning, as its first light visited his cell, found him still in
expectancy; and each night left him still despondent. The tedious
hours were only one round of racking conjectures, which, as they
seized his attention, occasional sparks of hope, dying as they
rose, served but to confirm in despair.

Of all the ills of our brief but troublous pilgrimage, there is
none like this--the terrible agony of suspense! As its fearful
ramifications develop themselves, the horror of one thought,
which has made our blood curdle, is lost under the sting of
its successor, and each consecutive reflection inflicts a more
excruciating pang. A host of melancholy images are embraced by
one thought. Hopes and fears and anxieties, the very antagonists
of each other, seem to be banded together, and to unite in an
inroad on the prostrate heart. Each particular idea involves a
crowd of apprehensions; and the troubled spirit, endued with an
unnatural sensibility, which catches at the veriest shadow, is
overwhelmed with bewilderment and distraction.

Sir Edgar had endured this appalling mental conflict for nearly
a week. The seventh day found him quite prostrate, and almost
reckless. All hope had gone; and he looked forward to night, not
as to a season of rest, but as to another stage, which should
bring him nearer his end. When night should arrive, he would
lie down, nervous and wretched, with the same prospect as on
the previous night--a morrow of apprehension, solicitude, and
hopelessness.

While he was thus pondering on his situation, he heard his
cell-door pushed open; and mechanically--for he really acted
without motive--he looked up. As his eye fell on one of the two
persons who appeared at the aperture, its sight grew dim, and he
felt his head whirl again. But, though he was stirred so deeply,
he did not give way to his emotion, and he recovered himself in
an instant. Starting up, he caught the person referred to in his
arms.

It was Evaline!--sweet, noble, excellent Evaline! After all her
affliction--after all her terrible fears, which had wrung her
heart to the quick, and pursued her like her shadow--she was in
his embrace at last! Again she hung round his neck; again she
leaned on his bosom; and, thus embraced, was fatherless no more.

Neither of them spoke. Their hearts were too full, and, in the
overflow of joy, feeling only could reveal itself. And what
tongue, however eloquent, could have told their emotion so
forcibly as their silence? what could manifest their affection so
distinctly and clearly as its own voiceless self?

Sir Edgar was the first to speak. After a time, seeing that the
gaoler had left them to themselves, his reserve vanished, and he
gave his feelings utterance.

“My own darling Eve!” he said, passionately: “I knew thou wouldst
not desert me!”

Evaline looked up; and though her eyes, as they met his, brimmed
with tears, a smile played upon her lips, that rendered him a
sufficient answer.

“I know--I know,” said her father, in an agitated voice, yet
smiling, “thou wouldst give thy life first.”

Evaline could not speak, but she raised herself up in his arms,
and kissed him.

“Bless thee, my sweet!” said Sir Edgar, in a tremulous tone: “all
the saints bless thee!”

“And thee! and thee!” faltered Evaline, in broken, but earnest
accents.

Sir Edgar was silent for a moment; but, meantime, his eyes,
though dimmed with tears, ran proudly over his daughter’s face.
As he marked its exceeding loveliness, his discontent and apathy
vanished, and he resolved, if only to assure _her_, he would bear
up still, and assume the fortitude that he did not feel.

“And thou hast come at last!” he said. “Well, now I have thee
again, I care not what befalls.”

“Be of good heart!” answered Evaline, with more composure. “We
have a friend now, who will carry us through.”

“Sir Walter hath not failed thee, then,” returned Sir Edgar. “I
thought him noble; and right glad I am, in this eleventh hour, to
be assured on’t.”

“Alas, he is undone!” replied Evaline. “He hath lost the Queen’s
favour, and been banished the court.”

“Poor gentleman!” exclaimed Sir Edgar. “But where is Don Felix,
dear?”

“Fled to Spain,” answered Evaline. “A warrant was out to attach
him; and, fearing the issue, he took flight directly.”

“’Twas not well done to forsake thee, Eve,” remarked Sir Edgar,
mournfully. He paused a moment, and then resumed. “But, certes,
being under fear of imprisonment, his staying would not have
availed thee.”

“I needed him not,” said Evaline. “Captain Clifford, on parting
with me, gave me a billet to a friend of his, one Bernard Gray;
and he it is that got me a pass here.”

“I’faith, Captain Clifford hath befriended us well,” rejoined Sir
Edgar. “Who is this cavalier?”

“I know not,” replied Evaline, “nor what is his influence, but
he hath stood by me right nobly. He got me the pass yesterday;
but he urged me, for some reason of his own, not to use it till
to-day.”

“Well, Heaven bless him, any way, for letting me see thee,”
answered Sir Edgar. “I grieve sorely for poor Sir Walter.”

“A right noble gentleman!” remarked Evaline. “He hath well
proved the saying of the wise man,--‘Put not your trust in
princes!’ But sit thee down, Sir. I will even be thy keeper
myself to-day, and abide here till night.”

Sir Edgar smiled, though mournfully; and suffered her, as she
ceased speaking, to lead him to a contiguous seat. Drawing
the other chair near, she seated herself, without more ado,
by his side; and, with her hand clasped in his, resumed their
conversation.

“Now am I happier here with thee,” she said, smiling, “than I
could be in a court without thee.”

Sir Edgar pressed her hand. “Such love as thine, dear,” he said,
“more oft visits the prison than the palace; and, faith, it makes
this cold cell, with its walls of stone, brighter than a court.”

“And we may see fairer days yet,” rejoined Evaline. “Master
Gilbert tells me they must put thee on thy trial shortly.”

“I would I could see Gilbert!” remarked Sir Edgar. “Think’st
thou, thy new friend, Master Gray, can compass such a thing?”

“I will speak to him on’t,” answered Evaline. “An’ his means
equal his good will, he will do it.”

Sir Edgar was about to reply, when, while the words were yet on
his lips, he heard the fastenings of the cell-door drawn back,
and he paused. As he did so, the door was thrown open; and two
persons, one of whom he recognised as the Governor of the gaol,
entered the cell.

“Thou hast given us but a short time, Sir,” said Sir Edgar,
supposing he had come to part him from Evaline. “Howbeit, my
daughter will speedily be ready.”

“When she is ready, Sir,” answered the Governor, with a smile,
“thou mayst bear her company.”

“How mean’st thou?” asked Sir Edgar, in amaze.

The Governor, without saying a word, but still smiling, stepped
a pace or two nearer, and presented him with a folded paper. He
seized it eagerly, and, with a trembling hand, drew it open:--it
was an order from Sir Francis Walsingham, the Secretary of State,
directing him to be set at liberty.



CHAPTER VIII.


Soon after Queen Elizabeth had entered Greenwich Palace, on the
occasion before described, she parted from her two favourites,
Raleigh and Essex, and retired to her boudoir. In a short time,
however, she again appeared in the private hall, and there looked
for those personages among the assembled courtiers. Essex,
observing her glance, and conjecturing its object, was by her
side in a moment; but Raleigh was nowhere to be seen. Elizabeth
looked displeased at his absence; and, as Essex came up, she
inquired if he had seen him.

“Indeed, no, your Highness,” replied Essex. “But he will be here
anon, no doubt.”

“I’faith, I fear, not,” said a voice behind him, loud enough to
be heard by the Queen.

The Queen turned round; and her eye, now marked with displeasure,
fell on the face of Sir Robert Cecil.

“An’ it prove so, and thou art a friend of his, thou mayst fear
in right earnest, Sir Knight,” she said. “By God! an’ he be not
back shortly, it shall be the worse for him.”

“Consider me not his friend, then, my gracious liege, an’ he
forfeit thy good will,” replied Cecil. “Still,” he added, in a
hesitating tone, which seemed to belie what he said, “I scarce
can think he intends your Highness a wilful disrespect.”

The Queen coloured.

“I will give my word,” said the Earl of Essex, with much warmth,
“he hath no such thought.”

Unfortunately, however, the circle immediately round the Queen,
to which the conversation was confined, included none of Sir
Walter’s friends, and whispers and looks were interchanged,
which far from confirmed the manly and straightforward
declaration of Essex. The Queen, whom the bare appearance of a
slight exasperated, was easily led into the general impression,
and it became evident that Sir Walter was no longer to be looked
upon as one of her chief favourites.

“Thou must know where he is,” she said to Cecil, somewhat
sharply, “or how couldst thou fear, as thou didst but lately
profess, he would not attend us shortly?”

“Good sooth, my liege, I spoke on mere conjecture,” said Cecil.
“When he betook him hence, I marked that he looked marvellously
impatient; and as his step was hasty withal, I doubted not, in my
own mind, that he was taken away by some grave business, which
could be despatched only at leisure.”

“By my troth, thou art right prompt at conjecture,” remarked the
Queen, sneeringly. “A good fellow, I warrant you, to back out a
friend. But go and seek out Sir Walter Raleigh, and let us hear
what this grave business is.”

Cecil, though taken somewhat aback, replied with a bow, and
instantly proceeded to give the Queen’s injunctions effect.
Shambling along at his quickest pace, he came to the central
hall; and though, having failed to watch his route, he knew not
what direction had been pursued by Sir Walter, passed straight to
the park.

As he stepped into the nearest walk, he observed Sir Walter,
with his hat pulled over his brow, some distance ahead, striking
off towards Blackheath. Wondering what he could possibly have
in view, he determined, instead of calling him back, to steal
secretly after him, and, if possible, ascertain his purpose.

He pursued his intention for several minutes, when Sir Walter,
suddenly turning round, became sensible that he was followed, and
struck off in another direction. Still, however, Cecil kept him
in view, and at length, after a diligent and arduous pursuit,
fairly traced him to the avenue to Blackheath.

A few brief minutes served to discover the object of his
excursion. A lady--no other, indeed, than Evaline de Neville--was
standing near the end of the avenue; and on reaching that
locality, Sir Walter accosted her, and made it apparent that she
was waiting there for him. Sir Robert Cecil watched them for a
short space, when, with a glavering smile, he turned away, and
passed back to the palace.

On entering the royal presence, he found the courtiers dispersed
over the hall, and the circle round the Queen, which he had left
pretty full, greatly diminished. Elizabeth, though still somewhat
discomposed, was talking apart with Essex; and the four or five
ladies around her had fallen a few paces back, and with many
smiles, and tossings of the head, and other significant gestures,
discussed the scandal of the day together. Silently noting these
particulars, Sir Robert Cecil, fearful of being thought an
intruder, approached with great circumspection, and, while he
was yet some paces distant, _hemmed_ several times to attract the
Queen’s notice. It was not till he was close at hand, however,
that that personage thought fit to observe him.

“Well, Sir!” she then cried, in an abrupt tone, “where is thy
marauding friend?”

“Most gracious liege, an’ thou mean’st Sir Walter Raleigh,”
replied Cecil, fawningly, “I give thee my word, that, were he
mine own brother, he should not hold my regard when he had lost
thine. God forefend I should ever lack in duty to your Highness,
who hath loaded me and mine, of thine own free and unsolicited
will, with thy most precious bounty.”

“Nay, nay, I question not thee, gentle Cecil,” rejoined the
Queen, with more kindness. “There be few I deem so loyal, or hold
in equal respect.”

“Oh, thanks! thanks, most dread sovereign!” answered Cecil, with
well-feigned emotion. “An’ I could tell how thou hast moved
me, I would make thy most piteous and compassionate heart to
run distract. But no tongue, unless it were thine own, whose
eloquence passes man’s, and ravishes while it commands, could
give utterance to my most hearty sentiments. Indeed, my Lord
Essex, that was a right apt conceit of thine, which likened her
Grace’s voice to the song of Philomel.”

“By my word, now, ’twas beggarly,” said the Earl of Essex,
earnestly. “’Twas likening the meridian sun to a mere star.”

“Go to, thou flatterer!” exclaimed the Queen, laughing. “The
conceit was a right good one. But what keeps this recreant
knight, gentle Cecil?”

Cecil hesitated.

“Soh!” said the Queen, with revived displeasure. And rising from
her seat, she stepped a pace or two forward (so that, if they
spoke in a low tone, their conversation could not be heard by
those around), and whispered Cecil apart.

“What holds him away?” she said.

“Only the great duty I owe your Highness could ever make me say,”
replied Cecil, falteringly. “In obedience to your Grace’s orders,
I followed him to the Park; and there, in a retired spot, I
beheld him in earnest converse with a lady.”

“Aha!” muttered Elizabeth. “By my father’s hand, he shall answer
for ’t! Wait thee here a space!”

With this injunction, she turned away, and fell back to the Earl
of Essex.

“Essex, give thee a good night!” she said, extending him her hand.

The young Earl, with the eagerness of a lover, caught up her
proffered hand, and, dropping on one knee, raised it respectfully
to his lips. As he did so, his graceful bearing, and manly and
handsome countenance, beaming with expression, appeared to new
advantage, and presented additional charms. While she glanced
hastily over him, Elizabeth, though in no tender mood, deigned to
smile; but, whatever were her feelings, she broke away directly.

“Ho, there!” she cried to her ladies; “we will away!”

The bevy of beauties gathered round her in a moment; the
hall-door, leading to the private apartments of the palace, was
thrown open; and, attended by her train, the Queen passed to her
chamber.

Her retirement was the signal for the whole court to take
their departure. Essex and Cecil, however, though with no
common object, remained behind, and manifested no intention of
immediately retiring.

Though the Queen had passed out of sight, and the door by which
she had made her egress, in the manner and order described, was
now closed, the eyes of Essex were still turned in the direction
she had taken, and seemed to look for or behold her in the
unbroken vacuity. But he did not gaze thus for any protracted
period. After a short interval, he dropped his gaze, and turned
to retire. He was stepping forward with this view, when, raising
his eyes again, he encountered those of Sir Robert Cecil.
That person, with whatever motive, had been watching him from
the first, and now looked him straight in the face. But the
familiarity which he seemed to assume, and which was marked very
strikingly in his penetrating gaze, drew from the proud Earl no
apparent response; for, instead of pausing, he dropped his glance
on the instant, and passed straight on.

Cecil bit his lips; but his self-possession, if disturbed, was
not seriously affected, and he recovered himself immediately.

“My Lord Essex, I would speak with thee a space,” he said, in an
obsequious tone.

“Be brief, then,” answered Essex, still passing forward, though
more slowly; “for I would be gone.”

“Nay, ’tis no great matter, my fair Lord,” observed Cecil, with
affected indifference. “’Twas but to give thee a warning.”

Essex paused. “And what may it be?” he asked.

“I will tell thee more anon,” he said. “Now, my Lord, I would
simply counsel thee to beware of Sir Walter Raleigh.”

“And wherefore of him?” demanded Essex. “I know not that I have
in aught offended him.”

“Oh, dost thou not?” returned the crafty courtier. “Art not his
rival, then? Has he not in thee, and thy good parts, which men do
so worthily admire, an obstacle to her Grace’s favour? Trust me,
he hates thee, my good Lord!”

“I can well believe he bears me no good will,” answered the Earl.
“Howbeit, I care not for him, or any other, though, to speak
sooth, I want the enmity of no man. Let that, with more right and
justice, fall to time-servers and knaves.”

So speaking, the haughty young nobleman, without raising his
cap, dropped him a proud nod, and passed on his way. Before he
reached the lower outlet from the hall, the door at the upper
end, leading to the apartments of the Queen, was thrown open, and
a lady appeared on the threshold.

“Hither, Sir Robert Cecil!” she said.

Cecil, though somewhat disconcerted at the altered demeanour of
Essex, quickly composed himself, and answered her call with the
liveliest promptitude. On his coming up with her, the lady, with
some appearance of agitation, presented him with a sealed billet,
addressed to Sir Walter Raleigh; and the alert eyes of Cecil
readily observed that it was in the handwriting of the Queen.

“Her Highness,” said the lady, “charged me to bring thee this
billet, which thou art to convey to Sir Walter Raleigh, through
a pursuivant, without loss of time. I fear me,” she added, in a
tone of sympathy, “it bodes the noble gentleman no good.”

Sir Robert gave a mournful shake of his head.

“Dost know how he hath displeased her, Sir Robert?” pursued the
lady.

“Faith, no, my Lady Nottingham!” answered Cecil. “It grieves
me sorely. But, whatever come of it, I must even do her Grace’s
errand; and so, I heartily wish your Ladyship god-den.”

“God-den to you, Sir!” replied the Countess of Nottingham.

Thus returning his valediction, she passed to the inner chamber
again; and Sir Robert, without further delay, bent his steps to
the lower hall. There, after a little time, which it required all
his discretion to endure patiently, he procured a pursuivant;
and, in obedience to the injunctions he had received, charged him
with the delivery of the Queen’s letter. Having informed him that
he would probably meet with Sir Walter in the park, he directed
him, when he had delivered the letter, to come back to him, in
the apartment called “the Hall of Virgins,” and privately let him
know where Sir Walter was to be found. With these instructions,
he parted from the pursuivant, and repaired to the apartment
wherein, according to their arrangement, he was to await his
return.

Some time elapsed before the pursuivant re-appeared. But, though
the interval was a long one, he returned at last, and briefly
furnished Cecil with the information he required.

“I have presented Sir Walter with the letter, your worship,”
he said. “I would have returned straight; but he bade me, as a
favour, to order his barge, and I could not cry him nay. He hath
since gone off to London.”

Cecil, being desirous of an early interview with Sir Walter,
was somewhat disappointed by this intelligence; but he did not
suffer his chagrin to reveal itself. Dismissing the pursuivant,
he determined, as he could not see him that night, to visit Sir
Walter early in the morning; and thus resolved, he quietly took
his departure.

The following morning found him an early visiter at the door of
Durham House. The noble proprietor of that mansion, however, had
been astir for several hours, and was now busily engaged in the
various employments of his study. He sat at a long table, in the
middle of the room, with his face, which rested on one of his
hands, turned towards the window, and his back towards the door.
On the table, within reach of his hand, were divers papers and
books, and one volume lying open, which, on a close view, proved
to be a collection of the plays of Shakspear. The open page
presented, on one side, the faint trace of a pencil, marking some
reader’s admiration of the following passage:--

                        “Oh, how wretched
  Is that poor man, that hangs on princes’ favours!
  There is, betwixt that smile we would aspire to,
  That sweet aspect of princes, and their ruin,
  More pangs and fears than wars and women have;
  And when he falls, he falls like Lucifer,
  Never to hope again.”

The pencil-mark might have been made by Sir Walter himself;
but, whether it had been, or not, that personage was not now
meditating, under the prompture of his own experience, on its
high and incontrovertible philosophy. Before him was spread a
large chart, representing, in rude but accurate outlines, the
continent of North America; and on this he seemed to bend his
undivided attention.

Ever and anon, as his eye fixed itself on some more striking
point of the broken shore, indicating a safe bay, or favourable
commercial situation, he raised his pen, and, by a slight tick,
marked it as the site of a future settlement. Gradually, breaking
away from the shore, he moved his pen inland, and, after a
deliberate pause, traced on the centre of the chart, in bold
characters, these magic words:--

                         =_El Dorado._=

As he thus fixed the site of his imagined Canaan, a smile rose to
the lips of the philosopher, and seemed, on a cursory glance, to
shed a sort of light over his every feature. There was, however,
whether from intense thought, or secret anxiety, still a touch
of melancholy on his brow; and it shortly spread itself further,
and became, what it was in the first instance, the dominant
expression of his countenance. Nevertheless, he continued to
bend over the chart, and would, perhaps, ultimately have resumed
the employment he had been engaged in; but, while he yet paused,
a slight knock on the chamber-door brought his meditation to a
close.

“Enter!” he cried, turning towards the door.

He had hardly turned round, when the door was pushed open, and a
servant, attired in a plain but tasteful livery, the colours of
his household, entered the chamber.

“Sir Robert Cecil would speak a while with your worship,” said
the lackey.

It is often imagined, that, in the hour of adversity, a visit
from one whom we consider a friend, unsolicited by ourselves, is
among the most welcome things that we would aspire to. But let
the cold hand of misfortune only seize us; and, in this conceived
relief, the proud heart, which sorrow could not subdue, will
be most effectually humbled. It has to own its fair prospects
blighted; it has to acknowledge, in its own degradation, the
superiority of its consoler; it has to smart under his inquiries,
and writhe under his expressions of pity. What torture!--what
excruciating torment! To be recommended, in our low estate, to
take another path, to confess that we have failed--that our
best efforts, our mightiest energies, our long suffering, our
glorious and surpassing struggles, which embraced our every
thought, hope, and wish, and the bare memory of which makes us
even to commiserate our own selves--to confess that all these
have been thrown away, that we have been poor, lost, thoughtless
dreamers--oh! this is the very bound and extreme of human anguish!

Yet Sir Walter could endure the trial. He knew that, in his
course upward, the man who seeks an uncommon fortune, must meet
and surmount uncommon difficulties; and though acutely sensible
to the bitter influences referred to, he was manned for the
ordeal. Keenly as he felt every mortification, how utterly
pointless and contemptible, on reflection, did the disdainful
slights and opinions of the world appear to him! The galling
sneer of envy, the cutting look of pride, or the thoughtless
inquisitiveness of pity, itself an affront, might affect him at
the moment; but how soon did his heart recover its dignity, and
his mind its evenness! He felt the pang, but he did not shrink
from its minister; and in the nobleness of his own feelings, and
the purity of his motives, he found a most soothing consolation.

On the present occasion, he paused a space before he replied to
the servant’s announcement. His hesitation, however, was but
momentary, and he then directed him to bring Sir Robert Cecil to
his presence.

The servant, with a dutiful bow, proceeded to obey him, and
shortly introduced Sir Robert to the study. He thereupon retired,
and left the two courtiers, whose characters were so widely
different, and so opposed to each other, to themselves.

There was a thoughtful melancholy on Cecil’s brow, whether real
or assumed, that at once informed Sir Walter that his fall in the
royal favour was known to that person. This was a relief; and
though Sir Robert, on the whole, had no great hold of his esteem,
he was rather cheered than otherwise by the sympathy expressed in
his countenance. A mere glance served him to survey Sir Robert’s
aspect; and by the time that the servant, on his way out, had
closed the door behind him, and left them to themselves, he was
prepared to accost him.

“Give thee a fair morning, Sir Robert!” he cried. “Thou art with
me betimes; and yet, by my lady’s hand, I scarce looked for any
visiters to-day!”

“An’ that were thy thought, thou didst wrong to me, at the least,
Sir Walter Raleigh,” answered Cecil, with much earnestness. “’Tis
not in thy reverses that I would forsake thee.”

“Kind! kind! more than I looked for, worthy Sir Robert,” answered
Raleigh; “for, I see, by thy sad face, thou art advertised of my
downfall!”

“Nay, call it not that!” rejoined Cecil. “Albeit thou art accused
of a grave excess, I heartily hope, when the Queen’s anger
abates, she will overlook it.”

“Grave excess!” exclaimed Sir Walter. “Dost know what I am
charged withal, then?”

“I’faith, I have heard, though I vouch not how truly, thou art
accused of leaving thy duties at the palace, as captain of her
Highness’s guard, to loiter with some dame in the park,” answered
Cecil. “Nay, I know not an’ it be so, but I am thus advised.”

“’Tis most like,” returned Sir Walter; “for, of a surety, I
did visit the park last even, after her Highness had retired,
purposely to meet a fair lady.”

Cecil bit his lips, and meditated a moment.

“Wilt thou own this to her Highness?” he said, at length.

“Will I?” cried Sir Walter: “without question, I will!”

“Then is thy case hopeless!” said Cecil, turning away.

“Hold!” exclaimed Sir Walter. “Hast thou a mind to serve me in
the matter?”

“By my faith, I have!” answered Cecil, solemnly.

“Then, at thy speediest convenience, get me leave from her
Highness to see her privily,” returned Sir Walter. “An’ she
refuse thine urgent entreaty, do thou”--here he thrust his hand
into his vest, and drew forth a sealed letter--“then give her
this billet, and say, with my humble prayers, and reverend love,
I lay it at her feet.”

“That will I,” answered Sir Robert, accepting the letter. “Her
Highness, if I be advised truly, hath by this time returned to
Westminster, and I will seek her ear straightway. I would have
had more heart for the business, though, an’ thou hadst not given
such offence to my Lord Essex.”

“I offended him?” cried Raleigh. “What mean’st thou?”

“Hast thou, in plain verity, done him no wrong, then?” inquired
Cecil. “This is most strange! But I have thy word for secrecy?”

“Without question!” answered Sir Walter.

“Then, believe me, worthy Sir Walter,” pursued Cecil, “Essex is
thine enemy.”

Sir Walter turned pale. “Now, afore God!” he exclaimed, “I have
never given his Lordship a shade of cause! I have ever held him
in good report, and thought him, above most men, noble, honest,
and true.”

“Well, he hates thee!” resumed Cecil. “But look cheerful on’t,
nevertheless. I will seek her Highness out of hand.”

Sir Walter expressed his acknowledgments of his kindness, and,
at the same time, revealed his love for the Queen, to whom
his mission was addressed, in many flattering and dutiful
expressions. Cecil readily caught at these, though seemingly
inattentive, as calculated to win him the Queen’s favour, and
after a while, having heard Sir Walter out, took his leave, and
set forth for the palace.

He was really earnest in the interest he professed in Sir
Walter’s behalf. He saw now, after a trial, that he would be
unable to play upon Essex as he had imagined; and that, in
fact, Essex was more likely to play upon _him_. Under these
circumstances, he conceived that it would be advisable to
attract the Queen’s favour to Raleigh again; and if he could
any way compass this, he would be able, in building his own
fortune, to counteract the overbearing pride of the one, in the
friendly aid of the other. The seeds of dissension which he had
sown between them, by reporting them to each other as enemies,
would prevent their ever coming to an explanation; and in the
division of their interests, he would find means and opportunity
to advance himself.

Full of these speculations, the crafty double-dealer reached the
palace. The Queen, he found, had already arrived thither, and was
now in one of the private chambers of the palace. Having sent to
her to desire an interview, she ordered him to be admitted, and
he was thereupon conducted to her presence.

The Queen was alone; and, to judge from the expression of her
countenance, in a humour not unfavourable to the design he had in
hand. She even smiled as he bent his knee before her, and, in a
gentle tone, ordered him to rise.

“Still must I kneel, most gracious liege,” answered Cecil; “for
I come as a suppliant from one who, could he but see thee, would
kneel here for ever, unless thou wouldst grant him thy royal
pardon.”

“Ah!” cried the Queen. “What offence hath thy client committed?”

“He hath sworn by thy hand, which he holds an inviolable oath,
that he hath done none wilfully, my liege,” replied Cecil. “In
good sooth, he swore to ’t so movingly, ’twas quite piteous to
hear him.”

“Prithee, who may he be?” inquired the Queen.

“Sir Walter Raleigh, your Highness,” said Cecil, hesitatingly.

“How now, sirrah?” cried the Queen, rising, with her eyes
flashing with anger. “What assurance hast thou of my forbearance,
that thus thou darest to plead for him?”

“The frown of your Highness bows me to the earth,” answered
Cecil, dropping his gaze to the floor, and really feeling very
great terror. “Indeed, indeed, my liege, I had determined to cast
him utterly from me, but when I heard his right eloquent tongue,
which certainly hath few peers, discourse of your Highness’s
captivating charms--of your admirable learning, politics, piety,
and matchless goodness, my heart warmed to him in despite of me,
and, from being his enemy, I became his friend.”

“Well, well, I pardon thee for once,” said the Queen; “but speak
of him no more. Certes, he hath as winning a discourse as I have
ever heard.”

“To hear him,” observed Cecil, with more confidence, “likening
your Highness in authority to Semiramis, in resolution to
Zenobia, in piety to Helena, and in beauty to Cleopatra. In good
faith, ’twas moving!”

“Did he do this?” asked the Queen, in a low voice.

“With more earnestness than I can speak of, my liege,” replied
Cecil. “But when he did enlarge on your Highness’s bountiful
disposition, and, with piteous sighs, set forth how many great
things your Highness had done for his poor self--saying, ’twas
she gained me this, or ’twas her raised me to that, and ’twas her
royal hand (and thereat he would look so grievously sorrowful)
that presented me with such a thing; and, withal, delivering
himself with such admirable tenderness--i’faith, mine eyes were
almost moved to tears.”

The Queen made no reply for a brief space. “By my troth,” she
said, at length, “I can well believe thee. But I will not
pardon him. No--not a jot! Still, an’ thou likest, on thine own
conjecture, to tell him not to be of desperate mind, thou mayst.”

“Knowing the royal nature of your Highness, I will even advise
him so,” answered Cecil. “But if thou wouldst suffer me, as
’twere without thy privity, to place him behind some screen, where,
unseen by thee, he might behold thee pass by, and so once more
view thy face, ’twould be more comfortable to his poor heart
than aught that can be said by me.”

“By my troth, thou movest me!” returned the Queen. “But I will
not pardon him! He knoweth a mode may persuade me, though.
Counsel him to think on’t.”

“I will, my liege,” replied Cecil; “but before I go, I would
humbly sue your Highness, in your great goodness, to accept this
poor billet, which he charged me, with many protestations of
love, to lay at your Highness’s feet.”

The Queen, though evidently no way displeased, hesitated a
moment, and then accepted the proffered letter. Her eyes
brightened, as, with a careful hand, she drew it open, and found
within a small gold ring.

“What request did he bid thee make of me?” she asked, looking up.

“That thou wouldst be pleased to see him privily, my liege,”
answered Cecil.

“Let him attend me out of hand,” returned the Queen. “No more
now; but hie to him at once!”

Sir Robert, pleased beyond measure, did not linger on his errand,
but took a hasty leave of the Queen, and departed. Walking at
a quick pace, he soon arrived at Durham House, and, on gaining
admittance, was immediately conducted to the presence of Raleigh.

That personage received him with an unaffected welcome. His
account of his interview with the Queen, and its result, which
was so much more favourable than he had anticipated, afforded Sir
Walter the highest gratification; and he prepared to embrace the
advantage it held out without delay.

Nevertheless, nearly half an hour elapsed before he was fully
equipped for his meditated visit to the court. When he had once
fulfilled his toilet, however, he made no pause; but, accompanied
by Cecil, set out for the palace.

On their arrival at that structure, they found that the Queen
was on the point of attending a council; but, though the moment
seemed unfavourable, Sir Walter determined, for all this, to
seek an audience on the instant. His pursuit of that object
was successful; and, leaving Cecil in the hall, he was shortly
ushered to the royal presence.

The Queen was still alone; but her brow, under the shadow of a
light gold crown, which she had donned to attend the council,
no longer looked kindly, but rather cold and severe. Sir Walter
approached her in silence, and, on drawing nigh her chair, threw
himself at her feet.

Nearly a minute elapsed before the Queen spoke; but, in the mean
time, her eyes, which were remarkably penetrating, ran over the
cavalier with a glance of displeasure. Sir Walter, however, kept
his eyes on the floor, and never looked up once.

“By my father’s head,” cried the Queen, at length, “I have a
right good mind to drive thee hence again! What can palliate thy
gross perjury? Knowest thou aught, in the conception of mortal
wit, that can afford thee a reasonable excuse?”

Sir Walter was silent.

“Ay, think it over and over,” resumed the Queen, angrily; “and
mark if thy subtlety frame a sufficient plea! Yet do I not blame
thee, after all, so much as the hussey by whom thou wast decoyed.
By the Lord, ’twere better for her, in this instance, that she
had never seen a man. Which of my women was it?”

“My gracious liege,” said Raleigh, in a soft voice, “I were a
traitor to profess, as I might, that I know not whereof I am
charged withal; for Sir Robert Cecil hath advised me on’t at
full. Nevertheless, I do solemnly protest, by thy fair hand, and
mine own honour, ’tis utterly without ground.”

“How?” cried the Queen, starting up. “Wilt thou dare to tell me a
lie?”

“Now, God forefend, dread sovereign!” said Sir Walter, his cheeks
mantling with a deep flush. “’Tis true, I met a lady in the park
last even; but, by all I regard sacred, she was no mistress of
mine, nor any lady of the court. She was simply a poor friend--a
poor, defenceless maid, who sought me with a suit to your
Highness.”

“Ah!” exclaimed the Queen.

“’Twas even so, your Highness,” answered Raleigh: “a maid (let me
speak in pure sooth) whom I would perish rather than wrong.”

“Rise, Sir!” said the Queen; “we pardon thee! Let us hear this
maiden’s suit.”

Sir Walter, re-assured by the Queen’s tone, entered on the task
enjoined him with hearty good will; and, without concealing one
particular, set forth how he had first become acquainted with
Evaline de Neville, how her father had been arrested on a charge
of murder, how Hildebrand Clifford, the captain of his expedition
to America, had convinced him of Sir Edgar’s innocence, and how
that person was now confined in Newgate. As he proceeded with his
narrative, he expatiated at length, and in terms of the highest
commendation, on the beauty, virtue, and modesty of Evaline, and
showed how her affection for her father had induced her to share
his prison at Exeter, and had since brought her to London. In
conclusion, he implored the Queen, in consideration of her rare
merits, to interfere personally in her behalf, and take her under
her special protection.

“We will see to ’t,” answered the Queen, in a gracious tone. “The
council will be sitting anon; and I will then, if occasion serve,
have the matter diligently investigated. Now, see who waits
without!”

Sir Walter, with a dutiful bow, turned quickly to the
chamber-door, and drew it open. An officer was waiting without,
with two ushers; and, supposing the Queen would speak with them,
Sir Walter beckoned them forward.

“Sir Ferdinand Georges is here, your Highness,” he said, turning
to the Queen.

Sir Ferdinand, who was the officer referred to, entered at this
moment.

“The council awaits your Highness,” he said.

“We will attend it,” replied the Queen. “Ho, Sir Knight!” she
added to Raleigh, “give me thine arm!”

Thus speaking, she placed her arm on that of Raleigh; and,
followed by Sir Ferdinand and the two ushers, passed to the
council-chamber.

On arriving at the door of that apartment, she paused, and
withdrew her arm from that of Raleigh.

“Wait thou here a while,” she said. “Thou mayst be called for
anon.”

Raleigh, catching her hand as it fell, dropped on one knee, and,
bowing his head, raised her hand to his lips. The Queen smiled,
and, without more ado, passed into the council-chamber.

Like Raleigh, Sir Ferdinand Georges and the two ushers, by
whom she had been escorted thither, remained without, waiting
her return. On her entry into the chamber, however, the two
ushers fell back a few paces, and only Sir Walter and Sir
Ferdinand stood near the door. Thus left to themselves, those two
cavaliers, who evidently were no way ill-disposed to each other,
were able to enter into discourse, and they availed themselves of
the opportunity forthwith.

Nearly an hour elapsed before their conversation sustained any
interruption. At the end of that time, however, the door behind
them was pushed open, and Raleigh was summoned to appear before
the council.

It was a bar that might have daunted even a more resolute mind;
but Raleigh presented himself before it, in obedience to its
summons, with a countenance and heart perfectly undisturbed.
There were, notwithstanding, several sitting round, on the right
of the Queen, whom he knew to be his enemies, and several whom
he believed to bear him no great good will. Among the first, the
Earl of Leicester, sitting on the Queen’s right hand, was the
principal; and in the latter class he included Burleigh and
Walsingham. To counterbalance the enmity or ill will of these,
however, the venerable faces of Knollys, Egerton, Sussex, and
the Lord Justice Popham, with the not unkindly brow of Secretary
Herbert, assured him of favour and support. Moreover, the Queen
herself, as if to inspire him with confidence, smiled on him as
he entered; and, in that one smile, he had a tower of strength
and hope.

A slight pause followed his entry, when the Earl of Leicester,
turning towards the Queen, broke the silence.

“Your Highness,” he said, “hath been pleased to order Sir Walter
Raleigh hither, in order that he may himself deliver, in his own
words, what he hath already reported to you. I do profess, as the
matter hath been said to involve a new Popish plot, that I hold
it should be inquired into with the utmost diligence.”

“I am so minded myself,” answered the Queen. “Advise us what
thou know’st of the business, Sir Walter.”

Thus addressed, Raleigh proceeded, in a low but distinct tone,
to narrate the several particulars exculpatory of Sir Edgar de
Neville, in reference to the charge he had been arrested on,
which he had already made known to the Queen. As his narrative
progressed, he remarked that Lord Burleigh paid especial
attention, above that awarded by the other councillors, to
its various details; and he was at a loss to conjecture what
his marked notice might lead to. Nevertheless, he was no way
embarrassed, and he brought his account to a close without once
hesitating.

“A passing strange tale, by my faith!” said Lord Leicester,
sneeringly, when his narrative was finished. “I marvel, Sir
Walter Raleigh, ’twould ever win an advocate in thee.”

“’Tis anent all reason,” said Sir Francis Walsingham.

“Methinks, fair gentlemen, these argue more for its thorough
investigation,” remarked the Earl of Sussex. “I will even avow,
on my part, that, if it win credit from Sir Walter Raleigh, it
will be credited by me.”

“Certes, the word of so loyal a gentleman deserves a fair
inquiry,” observed the Queen, with a frown. “What sayst thou to
it, my Lord Burleigh?”

“That the statement of Sir Walter Raleigh is true, my liege,”
answered Burleigh.

The Queen looked surprised, and the councillors, on either side
of the table, and Sir Walter Raleigh, also, turned a glance of
inquiry on his venerable face.

“It is even so, my liege,” resumed Burleigh, after a pause. “A
similar account, wherein fair mention was made of Sir Walter,
was rendered me yesterday, by a person of high trust; and I had
purposed to have reported it to your Highness to-day. Howbeit,
when Sir Walter was summoned hither, methought I would first
hear his testimony, and then leave it for the judgment of your
Highness.”

“Enough, my Lord,” answered the Queen. “Let the prisoner be
released incontinently. And my Lord Leicester,” she added, with a
frown, “I may ask thee, in the words of Master Shakspear, ‘where
be your gibes now?’ Go to! Thy counsel grows dull.”

With these cutting words, the Queen arose, and, bowing to the
council, extended her arm to Sir Walter Raleigh. That personage,
ever on the alert, attended her promptly, and, with her arm drawn
through his, conducted her from the chamber.

Leicester sat still for a while, as if he were perfectly
stupified. Then, resuming all his natural haughtiness, he
abruptly rose, and passed out of the chamber. He never entered it
again!

The council seemed to be taken by surprise at the final fall of
the once powerful favourite. Their surprise, however, was but
momentary; and when he was no longer in view, all thought of him
or his fate appeared to have subsided.

“Hast thou made out the warrant, Sir Francis, for Sir Edgar
de Neville’s release?” asked Burleigh of Walsingham, at this
juncture.

“I have, my Lord,” answered Walsingham.

“Trust its delivery to me, then, worthy Sir Francis,” returned
Burleigh. “I will see to it myself.”

Sir Francis, facetiously bidding him to make good speed, handed
him the warrant; and the gouty premier then arose. His rising was
the signal for the council to break up.



CHAPTER IX.


Hildebrand Clifford had not (to borrow the nautical phrase of
his lieutenant) “hove-to” above three hours, on the occasion
described in a former chapter, before he was called to the deck
again. On repairing thither, he found his lieutenant, Halyard,
had been up for some time, and was waiting his approach at the
after-hatchway.

“A strange sail seen from the masthead, Sir,” he said, as
Hildebrand made his appearance.

“What like is she?” asked Hildebrand.

“A large vessel, Sir,” answered Halyard. “One of the Dons, no
doubt!”

“She must be a marvellous heavy sailer, then,” rejoined
Hildebrand, “to be so far leeward of the fleet, which I see is
now out of sight. Are we bearing towards her?”

“Right ahead, captain,” replied Halyard.

“I will go have a look for her,” said Hildebrand.

Accordingly, he broke away from Master Halyard, and, with a
quick but steady step, passed towards the forecastle. A crowd of
seamen, some score in number, were gathered in the bows, looking
ahead; but they fell back directly he appeared, and thus opened
to him a view of the remote horizon.

“Can ye see her from here, my lads?” he asked.

“Ay, Sir!” answered a half-dozen of voices:--“right ahead, Sir!”

Hildebrand, thus instructed, raised his hand over his eyes, and
gazed in the direction specified with all his might. After a
brief survey, he discerned a small slim object, like the trunk of
a tree, on the edge of the horizon, which he readily recognised
as the masts of a ship. On bringing it into view, he turned away
from the forecastle, and stepped back to the quarter-deck.

“Thou mayst see her from the deck, now,” he said to Master
Halyard, on coming up with that person. “Howbeit, I will even
overhaul her from the mast-head.”

Without more words, he mounted into the shrouds, and proceeded,
as on a previous occasion, to pass up aloft. He did not pause
on his way, but ascended right up, over the topmast, and the
top-gallant mast; and only stopped when he had gained the
mast-head.

He remained in his elevated position for several minutes, and, as
it seemed from the deck, gazed intently for’ard the whole time.
At last, his curiosity appeared to be satisfied; and, step by
step (yet not over-carefully), he descended to the deck again.

Master Halyard waited his return with some impatience.

“What cheer, Sir?” he inquired, as Hildebrand set his foot on the
deck.

“A large galleon, Sir, big enough to eat us,” answered
Hildebrand. “By my troth, she will have a store of doubloons
aboard!”

Master Halyard involuntarily thrust his hands into his pockets;
and, quite forgetful of his situation, began to hum a song.

“An’ she be well in the wake of the fleet,” observed Hildebrand,
after a moment’s reflection, “methinks we might even venture it.”

“Let me perish else,” answered Halyard, whom the result of his
search in his pockets, now that an attack on the galleon appeared
uncertain, rendered desperate. “Hang me up, an’ I would not
venture it in an old hen-coop.”

“We will see to ’t, then,” rejoined Hildebrand. “Let all the
spare hands turn in, and take an hour’s rest. We will be up with
her by ten o’clock!”

Reassured by a prospect so promising, Master Halyard thrust his
hands into his pockets again; and hastened, in compliance with
Hildebrand’s instructions, to order all the men that were not
required for the navigation of the ship to take an hour’s rest.
Having seen his order obeyed, he returned to the quarter-deck;
and there, with becoming gravity, but not with any dread or
apprehension of the result, arranged with Hildebrand how they
could best realize their project of attacking the supposed
galleon.

Meantime, the ship, favoured by the wind, made good way ahead,
and bid fair to fulfil her commander’s expectations. As the time
slipped by, the galleon became more distinct, and her hull,
which hitherto had been invisible, or only distinguishable
from the mast-head, was apparent from the forecastle by the
evening. It was, however, far from being viewed by our friends
with satisfaction; for the hull of the galleon could not be
visible to them, unless their ship, and its hostile bearings,
which were indicated by its course, were visible to her. On
discovering these particulars, she might alter her course; and
so, under cover of the night, escape them altogether. But though
Hildebrand thought such a result was not unlikely, he determined,
after deliberate reflection, to bear down on her still, and
pursue the course he had entered on without deviation.

The issue justified his mode of proceeding. About three hours
after nightfall, which (for it was now winter) was near the time
that he had predicted, the look-out man in the weather-bow gave
the anxiously-expected alarm.

“A large ship ahead, Sir!” he cried to Hildebrand, who, together
with Halyard, was still pacing the quarter-deck.

The announcement drew a low buzz from the crew, who, though many
of them were yet at liberty to remain below, had all assembled
on the deck of their own accord; and a general rush, sounding
like the roar of a cataract, was made to the forecastle. Loud as
the noise was, however, the voice of Hildebrand, raised to its
highest tone, was heard above it.

“Silence there! fore and aft!” he cried.

All was still in a moment--so entirely and distinctly still, that
one would have thought it impossible, on observing their profound
silence, that the crowd of men around could be living creatures,
much less that they were on the eve of a fierce and deadly
struggle.

Hildebrand paused till his order was obeyed, when he resumed.--

“Pass the word for the drummer!” he cried.

While his command was being fulfilled, he quitted the
quarter-deck, and ascended to the forecastle. Then, looking
right ahead, he distinguished the galleon, scarcely a gun-shot
in his front, and on the point of veering to windward. From the
purposed change in her course, he was satisfied that, like him,
she had suddenly become aware of the proximity of an enemy, and
was seeking to avoid him. All prospect of surprise, therefore,
was at an end, and he returned to the quarter-deck with the
determination of steering straight alongside of her.

On the quarter-deck, by the side of the capstan, he found Halyard
and the drummer.

“Beat to quarters!” he said, to the latter.

The drummer obeyed; and while his spirit-stirring summons rolled
through the ship, Hildebrand laid his hand on Halyard’s arm, and
drew him aside.

“Man the three boats,” he said. “I will run straight for the
galleon, and, as we come alongside, drop you all astern. When
I think ye are fairly on your way, I will give the enemy a
broadside, and, in the confusion, do you board her, all with one
mind, on her nearer quarter. I will thereafter lend thee what
succour I can.”

“A right noble project!” observed Halyard, feeling his pockets
with both his hands. “How many men shall I muster, Sir?”

“Forty!” answered Hildebrand, “which, as thou knowest, is half
the crew. Now,” he added, in a deeper tone, as he grasped Halyard
by the hand, “give thee farewell!”

Halyard did not reply on the instant. His pause, however--only
that the crisis rendered the briefest pause perceptible--was
hardly apparent, albeit, when he did speak, his voice was
somewhat shaken.

“Farewell, noble captain!” he said. “Life is but short; let us
live well on the road, says the gentle Shepherd of Salisbury
Plain.”

During the short interval that the commander and his lieutenant
thus conversed, the drummer had beaten his summons, which was
to lead so many to a bloody end, with unabated assiduity. Short
as the interval was--and it embraced but a few minutes--it
sufficed to assemble on the deck the whole of the crew, and to
cover every arrangement for entering into action. Each man’s
bed, tied up taught in his hammock like a sack, was placed in
the hammock-nettings, along the top of the ship’s bulwarks; the
decks were cleared of all lumber; the guns were all manned; and
the powder, with the portfires, sponges, and other implements for
charging them, handed up the hatchways. Every man was armed;
the flag of Old England was hoisted in the mizen; and nothing
remained, for the furtherance and completion of the design they
had in hand, but to come up with the enemy.

In this state of things, Hildebrand struck off the men who,
according to his previous arrangement, were to accompany Halyard,
and ordered them to the boats. There, by his directions, they
were all supplied with boarding-pikes, in addition to their
cutlasses and pistols; and, though it was not quite likely that
it would be required, an extra allowance of ammunition. The other
men were ordered to their respective quarters of the ship.

So promptly had all these arrangements been conceived, determined
on, and executed, that, from the first alarm of the galleon
being in sight, as given by the look-out man for’ard, up to the
moment at which every preparation was completed, scarcely five
brief minutes had elapsed. In the interim, the ship, with the
wind still aft, advanced steadily towards the galleon, a little
to leeward of her bows, and drew close upon her. Hildebrand,
standing at the helm, whence he could command a view ahead,
observed that she had prepared to receive him, and would probably
meet him with a broadside. Expecting no less, he ordered the
sails to be hauled up; and passed the word to the gunners, who
were all posted at their several guns, to count ten before they
answered the salute, which would cover the auxiliary attack of
Halyard and the boarders. His orders had scarcely been delivered,
when the ship, floating on the waves, came alongside of the enemy.

Scarcely a breath was exhaled on board the “Eliza” as she thus
breasted the galleon. The terrible pause, however, was but
momentary. As she came fairly alongside, looking like a little
pleasure-boat in comparison with her huge adversary, the latter,
conformably to Hildebrand’s expectations, poured into her her
whole broadside. But the shot did little damage, and that, as it
turned out, only to the ship’s hull--the crew having sheltered
themselves behind the bulwarks. Hildebrand alone had maintained
his exposed position, and now, free from injury, looked anxiously
round. The ship was enveloped in smoke; but sternwards, whither
his glance first turned, the prospect was clearer; and he
perceived that the boats had departed. He could distinguish
nothing for’ard; but, with the aid of a speaking-trumpet, he
could reach the crew with his voice, and he delivered his orders
without hesitation.

“For’ard there!” he cried. “Grapple on to the enemy’s stern; and
prepare to board!”

As the order fell from his lips, the deck below him, conformably
to his previous order, opened its fire, and poured a broadside
into the enemy. The report was yet booming over the water, when a
loud “hurrah” broke on the ear, and afforded a cheering assurance
that the boats under Halyard had arrived at their destination.

Covered by the smoke of the galleon’s fire, Halyard had advanced
towards her near quarter, according to his instructions, without
being observed; and, protected by the fire of his own ship,
gained it unscathed. The broadside of the “Eliza” had caused a
momentary confusion among the enemy, and, at this auspicious
juncture, he pulled alongside, and led the way up her bulwarks.
The crew on the lower-decks, at the several port-holes, observed
him instantly, but, taken by surprise, their opposition did
not impede him; and the disorder on the upper deck, where he
was not yet visible, prevented it from spreading further.
Before the alarm became general, he and his men had gained the
hammock-nettings; and there, with a loud hurrah, prepared to make
their way on the deck.

It was a terrible moment. Amidst the volumes of smoke which still
rolled about, the stout little band, glancing quickly round,
discerned hosts of grim adversaries, all armed to the teeth, and
crowding towards them with the most fixed determination. But
after the one rapid glance mentioned, they hardly paused to
draw a breath. Led on by Halyard, they sprang on the deck, and
pressed forward in a mass. The charge was resistless; and the
long boarding-pikes, propelled at double quick time, and with
the whole force of each individual, swept over the quarter-deck
like an avalanche. Nevertheless, the success, though so decided,
lasted only a moment. As their small force became apparent,
the Spaniards took courage; and joining together, under the
guidance of one of their officers, pressed upon them bodily,
front and rear. The English were forced together again in an
instant. Falling into two ranks, they backed to each other, and
thus, by a ready evolution, fronted the enemy either way. But
the force opposed to them was overpowering. No sooner had each
file, pressing resolutely forward, cleared the deck in their
front, than the Spaniards rushed in between them, and renewed
the struggle. The two files were now divided, and when, in
obedience to a shout from Halyard, they sought to join again,
the Spaniards pressed down behind them, and attacked them both
in front and rear. It soon became evident that they could not
hold out much longer. Their ranks began to be thinned, and there
was hardly one of them, not excepting Halyard, but had received
some hurt. They still bore up, but, compared with their first
assault, their efforts were feeble, and were rather the result
of desperation, or a wild and reckless animosity, than genuine
courage. They fought singly, too--back to back; and seemed more
desirous to die hard, and, in their fall, to destroy as many of
the enemy as they could, than to look for conquest. While all
their energies were thus required for their defence, the Spanish
commander had mustered a strong force, composed of the flower of
his crew, to rush upon them simultaneously, and so overwhelm them
at a blow. The overpowering reinforcement was already in motion,
and the fate of the heroic Englishmen, after all their efforts,
and their noble and glorious resistance, appeared to be now
decided, when a loud hurrah broke from the stern of the ship.

“Hurrah!” responded Master Halyard; and each of his comrades
caught up the cheer.

The help that was approaching might well tend to reanimate
them. As the English ship approached the galleon’s poop, the
helmsman, under Hildebrand’s direction, ran her bowsprit against
that vessel’s stern, and, pursuant to the orders they had
received, the sailors instantly fastened on to her with the
grappling-irons. Hildebrand joined them the next moment, and,
led on by him, they sprang on to her poop. The resistance they
encountered was terrible, but, though they scarcely numbered
thirty, they swept onward undaunted, driving all before them. As
they became masters of the poop, a panic fell on the Spaniards,
and they fled for’ard, past the little band of Halyard, without
a struggle. When they pushed by that weakened body, they forced
on with them, in one confused mass, those of the enemy with whom
they were contending, and so left Halyard at liberty. He had
hardly time to recover his breath, however, when he was joined by
Hildebrand.

“Now, then, my lads!” cried that person: “on them all at once!
Now! Hurrah!”

“Hurrah!” answered his men.

But the Spaniards, now utterly disheartened, did not tarry
for the charge. As the tall form of Hildebrand was seen to
spring forward, they pressed back, and made a rush for the
fore-hatchway. Hildebrand loitered as he discerned their object,
and, checking the impetuosity of his men, only gave the Spaniards
an impulse forward, without inflicting on them any hurt. Assured
by his forbearance, some of the rearmost Spaniards, after a
brief interval, turned round to him, and offered him their arms.
Hildebrand ordered them to throw them down, and, when they had
obeyed his injunctions, passed them behind him, and there placed
them under guard. He had scarcely seen them secured, when,
following their example, the remainder of the galleon’s crew
surrendered, and he was now the undisputed master of the ship.

The Spaniards having thrown down their arms, the only care of the
conqueror, in securing his victory, was to provide them a prison.
The ready mind of Hildebrand quickly decided where they could be
best placed under restraint. After a moment’s pause, he ordered
them to be passed down the main-hatchway; and the hatch, which
was of stout oak, and, consequently, could not be easily forced
up, to be well secured above them. When his directions were
fulfilled, he posted a sentry over the hatchway, and felt that
his conquest was now secure.



CHAPTER X.


We left Don Rafaele in a state of great excitement. After
hesitating a moment, he stepped out on the locker, outside his
berth, and so to the deck. All was confusion above, and even on
the same deck, in the steerage; and feet were heard rushing to
and fro, as if the whole crew had gone distracted. Stretching
out one of his hands, he steadied himself against the table, and
paused to consider what he should do. As he did so, the ship,
without the least forewarning, returned the broadside of the
galleon; and, by the rebound she made in the water, threw him
fairly off his feet.

Though his head fell with some violence against the locker, the
excitement he laboured under, and the hurry and distraction of
his thoughts, with the hundred terrors around, did not admit of
his feeling any pain, or, if he were sensible of a slight aching,
did not suffer him to give it heed. He sprang to his feet in an
instant, and, stretching his hands out before him, so that he
should not run against the table, made for the cabin-door.

After a little time, he found the door, and succeeded in
drawing it open. The steerage was full of smoke, here black,
and there white, according as it was near to or removed from
several prospective portfires; and, through the gloom, he
distinguished the figures of a dozen men, darting towards
the main-hatchway, about thirty feet for’ard. The stench of
gunpowder, emitted by the discharged guns, with the dense smoke,
was almost suffocating; but, as the hatchways were open, the
fresh air rushed in from above, and soon made the atmosphere
more supportable. Before the smoke was dispelled, however, the
gunners, who were the men that had figured in it, had passed up
the main hatchway; and Don Rafaele stood on the lower deck alone.

A lighted lanthorn was standing on the deck, a few feet in his
front; and, when he found himself alone, he sprang forward a
pace, and caught it up. The din that now prevailed was quite
stunning; and the report of fire-arms, the clashing of weapons,
and the tramp of feet, mingled with loud hurrahs, shouts, and
deep groans, made his heart quake, and seemed to rivet him to
the spot. Nevertheless, he did not remain stationary. As the din
grew more confounding, he sprang back to the cabin, and, with
a trembling step, passed inward. Securing the lanthorn on the
table, he sat down on the locker, and there resolved to await
whatever was to betide.

But he did not keep his resolution. It would, indeed, have been a
stout heart, or an inordinately insensible one, that could have
met such an ordeal so passively. The din that prevailed was
absolutely appalling, and, unless actively engaged, with danger
to animate, and action to support him, no man even, much less
a stripling, could have sustained it with unshaken nerves. Yet
overhead all was quiet, and the noise seemed, as was actually the
case, to come from one side, rather than to prevail in the ship.
Don Rafaele was perfectly bewildered for a while: at length,
burying his face in his hands, he burst into tears.

He remained thus for several minutes, when, still weeping, he
threw himself on his knees, and raised his hands and eyes towards
heaven. Long and fervent was his prayer, as was evident, not by
his words (for he uttered none), but by his deep emotion, and the
stirring and varied expressions of his face. At last, he rose
from his knees, and, sitting down on the locker, near his former
position, again buried his face in his hands.

He had been disposed in this manner but a short time, when the
sounds of strife and turmoil ceased, and all became perfectly
quiet. He was amazed. What could have happened? How had
Hildebrand, whose voice he had distinguished so often in the
recent din, or fancied he had distinguished, come off. He might
be slain!

The heart of the young Spaniard turned cold as the bare
possibility of such a catastrophe occurred to him. Shuddering
with horror, he again turned his beautiful face upward, and
his full eyes, brimmed with tears, seconded his prayer for
his friend’s safety. But some time elapsed before he was to
be assured of that happy circumstance. Though the tramp of
feet overhead was now once more audible, no one approached the
cabin; and he was too much agitated, not only with his fears,
but by sorrow, to seek for information on the deck. Near an
hour intervened before any one drew nigh. Then, however, with a
beating heart, he heard a step descending through the contiguous
hatchway. It paused at the cabin-door; the latch, which he had
fixed in its socket, was then quickly raised; and Hildebrand
burst into the cabin.

Don Rafaele sprang to meet him with the ardour of a mistress,
and, as he came up with him, caught him affectionately by the
hand.

“Thou art safe, then?” he cried, at the same time gazing
earnestly in his face.

Hildebrand had removed from his face and apparel all trace of
his participation in the recent conflict; but, notwithstanding
this, his look, on his entry into the cabin, was pale and sad.
As he met the warm welcome of his youthful friend, however, his
countenance brightened; and if his eyes did not actually sparkle,
they looked cheerful, and even lively. It was so inspiriting
to receive such an earnest welcome, and, after encountering a
strife so deadly, to find himself the object of such a devoted
attachment, that the deepest affections of his heart were
aroused, and, through their soothing influence, the strong
excitement he had been labouring under was assuaged. A bright
smile suffused his lip as he replied to Don Rafaele.

“Ay, and unhurt, Senhor,” he said. “’Twill please thee less,
mayhap (since the enemy were thy countrymen), to be told that we
have conquered.”

“Now, by Madonna, I am right glad on’t!” answered Don Rafaele,
with sparkling eyes. “I would the foe had been any other than
Spaniards, but, since it was not so ordered, I am heartily
pleased that thou hast beaten them off.”

“I have even captured them,” observed Hildebrand.

“Alack!” sighed Don Rafaele.

“Nay, be of good heart, fair Senhor!” returned Hildebrand.
“Because thy country war with mine, it follows not, in my
conceit, that we two be adversaries. I’faith, no! Ere thou
shouldst suffer wrong, I would perish in defending thee!”

Don Rafaele pressed his hand.

“Be of good cheer, then!” pursued Hildebrand. “I will straight
minister thee a potion”--here he smiled again--“will give thee a
new heart.”

“An’ ’twill do that,” smiled Don Rafaele, “prithee let us have
it with all convenience; for, by my sooth, my heart is now so
marvellously low, I have a mind to think I have even lost it. In
such case, a new one will be right welcome.”

“Have at thee, then,” said Hildebrand. And, raising his voice, he
added--“Without, there!”

His summons was answered by the silent steward, whose connexion
with the cabin, in all matters of eating and drinking, has
already been noticed. On his appearance, Hildebrand directed
him, in English, to bring in some goblets, sugar, and hot water,
which, though he made no answer, he did promptly. When these
were supplied, he turned to the adjacent locker, and extracted
therefrom a small _boutique_, or leather flask, filled with
spirit. Mingling its contents with some hot water and sugar, he
shortly compounded a sufficient quantity of the potion he had
so eulogised, in recommending it to Don Rafaele, to fill two
goblets. On thus completing its preparation, he handed one of the
goblets to Don Rafaele.

“Men boast of wine,” he said, as he placed the sparkling goblet
in his hand; “and, to speak the simple sooth, wine hath much
excellent virtue; but, when the heart is low, commend me to old
Cognac. It hath a sweeter perfume than the rose, and excels
honey in its savour. As a medicament, no drug may be held in
its comparison, and ’twill remedy more ills than the cunningest
apothecary. Beseech thee, take it to thy heart, fair Senhor!”

Don Rafaele, with a light smile, accepted the proffered goblet,
and raised it to his lips.

“By my sooth, ’tis an admirable good liquor!” he exclaimed. “Yet
do I marvel, Senhor Captain, when thou holdest it in such hearty
estimation, thou drinkest of it so sparingly; for, if I be of
true remembrance, this is the first time I have ever seen thee
partake of it.”

“Thou art right!” answered Hildebrand; “for, if it be drunk for
mere sport, its notable good properties become of no account. But
when the heart is faint after battle, the body weary with action,
or the spirit oppressed with heaviness, or when, in an hour of
joyfulness, we would ‘kill the fatted calf,’ it lendeth our
inward man a ministering cheerfulness, which it is right pleasant
to behold.”

“In sooth, it hath made me merry,” replied Don Rafaele, “yet will
I, at the present pass, take no more on’t.”

“Thou wilt pledge me to thy mistress?” said Hildebrand.

Don Rafaele made no answer.

“Ah! thou art fearful of thy head,” resumed Hildebrand. “Well,
well, ’tis a wise fear, and becomes thee happily. It minds me of
the saying of a notable poet, a countryman of mine, whom thou
mayst one day see--‘O, that men should put an enemy in their
mouths, to steal away their brains!’”

Don Rafaele still sat silent, with his eyes, which had before
been raised to those of Hildebrand, turned towards the floor, and
his brow looking sad and mournful. After a brief space, however,
he spoke, though in a low voice, and with his eyes still downcast.

“Didst not say thou wouldst pledge me to thy mistress?” he asked.

“An’ thou art minded to take my pledge, I will,” answered
Hildebrand, smiling, though mournfully.

“Prithee advise me first what like are her eyes?” replied Don
Rafaele.

“Black--black as death,” said Hildebrand, “yet sparkling as day.”

Don Rafaele looked up. “What like are her cheeks?” he asked.

“Of a dark complexion,” answered Hildebrand. “I cannot tell how
lovely.”

A smile stole over the face of Don Rafaele, and, though he still
spoke low, the tone of his voice was more cheerful, as he
added--“What like is her hair?”

“In hue, ’twould shame the raven,” returned Hildebrand.
“Moreover, it hath such an excellent fair curl, and is so
admirably dressed withal--”

“Hold thee there,” cried Don Rafaele, with a merry laugh, “or
thou wilt presently make her an angel. I will even take thy
pledge without further description.”

“To her health, then!” exclaimed Hildebrand.

Don Rafaele, still smiling, caught up his goblet, and raised it
to his lips. After just sipping of it contents, he laid it down
again, and once more turned to Hildebrand.

“Thou art assured of her love: art thou not?” he said.

“I rather hold it in doubt,” answered Hildebrand.

“Thou art grievously in the wrong, trust me,” returned Don
Rafaele. “Look on’t more cheerfully. The maiden lives not would
refuse thee!”

“Speak on’t no more, I prithee,” said Hildebrand; “for it makes
me sorrowful.”

“Let it not do that,” replied Don Rafaele. “Give me thine ear a
while, and, if thou think’st ’twill disperse thy melancholy, I
will straight sing thee a song.”

“An’ thou lovest me, let us have it,” returned Hildebrand. “An’
it be a love-song, ’twill soothe me right speedily.”

Don Rafaele, without making a reply, leaned back against the
wainscot, and, after a moment’s consideration, sang a song which
may be thus translated:--

         =_SONG._=

  O! love is like a summer flower,
    As fragrant and as fair;
  And thus it flourishes an hour,
    And braves the hostile air:
  But, like a flower, its bloom will fade,
    Its life is but a span;
  And soon it shows the hapless maid
    There is no faith in man.

  O! ’tis a mournful thing to see
    The flowers of summer fade!
  How more than mournful must it be
    To view the blighted maid!
  Then, let no thought of present joy
    A future sorrow sow--
  That bliss must surely have alloy
    That is another’s woe.

Though the images and sentiments of the song were not very
striking, Hildebrand listened to it with the deepest attention,
and, as it progressed, with no little emotion. Yet it was not the
song--although, in its Spanish dress, it was well calculated to
win and arrest the ear--but the singer, that moved him. His voice
was so soft, its range so comprehensive, and its full and varied
cadences so exquisitely delivered, that it sank to his very
heart, and rapt him in wonder and admiration. He could hardly
believe that the human voice was capable of such surpassing
delicacy of expression. Even when Don Rafaele had ceased singing,
his delicious tones still rang in his ear, and his ample chest,
as if unable to command itself, still heaved with emotion.
Gradually he became more composed, but he did not speak, and he
seemed, by his silence, and the deep lines of thought that marked
his brow, to be no way disposed to speak. Whatever it might be
that he meditated on, his reverie, far from dispersing, became
deeper and more deep, and appeared to increase in gloom as it
advanced. His complexion grew pale and sad; his eyes, heavy; and,
in the expression of his whole countenance, he revealed distinct
and unquestionable traces of an uneasy mind.

After thus meditating for nearly half an hour, he seemed to
arouse himself, and suddenly turned round to his companion.

Don Rafaele had fallen asleep.

“Fair, sweet youth!” said Hildebrand, in a low voice, as he
looked on his lovely countenance, “this is a hard life for
thee--and on me lies the blame. But I will be tender of thee.
Albeit, in my thoughtless folly, I have unwittingly done wrong to
_her_, she shall leave no charge on me concerning thee.”

So speaking, he caught the sleeping Spaniard in his arms, and,
without loosening his clothes, raised him up, and carried him to
his berth. There, with a deep sigh, he laid him gently on the
bed, and left him to his repose.

He now proposed to take an hour’s rest himself. His duties did
not debar him from this indulgence, as he had already, previous
to leaving the galleon, made every arrangement that his ship
and prize required. The command of the latter he had intrusted
to Halyard, with a crew of forty men; and the watch of his own
ship, during his stay below, was consigned to the able governance
of Tom Tarpaulin. Both ships were bound straight for England,
and, though the “Eliza” was a far better sailer than the heavy
galleon, were so navigated, with the help of fair weather, as
to keep constantly in company. Thus associated, they arrived, in
about three weeks’ time, safe in the river Thames.



CHAPTER XI.


It was a fair morning in the January of the year Wonderful, or
Admirable year, as it had been forenamed by Doctor Dee, and other
knowing astrologers, that two cavaliers, mounted on gallant
steeds, rode up to the Strand entrance to Durham House, and
there alighted. The taller of the two, and, it may be said, the
senior also, then stepped up to the door, and inflicted thereon a
loud rap. His summons was promptly answered, and a servant, who
appeared uncapped at the door, inquired his business.

“I would see Sir Walter Raleigh, an’ he be within,” replied the
taller cavalier.

“Will it please your worship to advertise me of your name,”
answered the servant.

“Master Hildebrand Clifford, of his worship’s cruizer, the
‘Eliza,’” rejoined the cavalier.

“His worship will be heartily glad to see thee, Sir,” said the
servant. “An’ it please thee, prithee follow me to his presence.”

Hildebrand and his companion, who was no other than Don Rafaele,
immediately entered the house, and were led by the servant to the
library. There, agreeably to a premonition of the servant, they
found Sir Walter Raleigh.

As they presented themselves in the doorway, and Sir Walter’s
eyes, glancing thitherwards, caught a glimpse of their features,
he sprang to meet them, and caught Hildebrand by both his hands.

“My right trusty Clifford,” he cried, “give thee a hearty
welcome home! I need not inquire of thy health; for ’tis manifest
in thy face.”

“An’ the face offer such credible testimony, I have a fair
assurance of thine, Sir Walter,” said Hildebrand. “But,” he
added, with a smile, “wert thou ever so ailing, I have news for
thee would make thee right merry.”

“The matter! the matter!” cried Sir Walter, eagerly.

“We have brought home with us a fair galleon,” answered
Hildebrand, “and, among other choice freights, she hath aboard
of her, under a goodly guard, five hundred bars of gold, of the
esteemed worth of thirty thousand doubloons.”

As Hildebrand thus briefly made known the successful result of
his voyage, Sir Walter’s face became brighter and more bright at
each word. So great was his joy, and, as it appeared afterwards,
his surprise, that for a brief space he could not speak, and
it was only by the sparkle of his eyes that Hildebrand became
sensible of his gratification. In a moment or two, however, he
recovered himself, and gave his sentiments utterance.

“Fair befall thee, my noble Clifford, for thy news,” he said;
“and, to requite it, mayst thou never hear ill tidings thyself!
Albeit I had a brave hope of thee, I looked not that thy report
should bear such an excellent complexion. Sooth to speak, indeed,
I had begun to fear thee lost.”

“I fear me, the chartered bark, which was designed to be mine
abettor, is lost of a verity,” observed Hildebrand.

“Not so,” answered Sir Walter, smiling. “She hath returned safe,
but hath been seized by the creditors. On reaching Roanoke, she
was advised of thy visit and departure; and thereupon, having no
hope of rejoining thee, came straight back. But who is this brave
friend of thine, Master Clifford?”

“I’faith, Sir,” returned Hildebrand, “I may say, with a friend
of thine, in one of his right famous plays, ‘thereby hangs a
tale.’ He hath come with me from Cadiz, his native city; and I
beseech thee, if my poor commendations can win him thy favour, to
look upon him graciously; for I hold him even as myself.”

“No more,” said Sir Walter. “I would be friends with him.”

And, so speaking, he caught up Don Rafaele’s hand, and clasped it
cordially.

“Fair Senhor, I give thee welcome to England!” he said, in
Spanish. “While thou art here, beseech thee, as thou wouldst do
me a courtesy, to make thy stay in my house.”

“I thank you, Senhor,” answered Don Rafaele, in a low voice.

Sir Walter was about to address him further, when Hildebrand,
with more abruptness than his wont, interposed.

“I have another matter to tell thee of, Sir Walter,” he said,
“which requires to be considered with all despatch.”

“What may it be?” inquired Sir Walter.

“There is a great expedition on foot at Cadiz,” answered
Hildebrand, “and, as I am advised, in all the other ports of
Spain; and men report (I know not how truly) ’tis designed
against England. Moreover, the ambassador at Madrid has been
placed in durance.”

“This is strange news, indeed,” observed Sir Walter. “How wast
thou advertised of it?”

Hildebrand, in a few comprehensive words, informed him, by way of
reply, how he had been arrested in Cadiz, and, without going into
particulars, of his dialogue on that occasion with Don Felix di
Corva. Sir Walter heard him to an end with the deepest interest,
when, without a moment’s pause, he announced his intention
of repairing instantly to the palace, and communicating his
intelligence to the Queen.

“Thou must with me,” he added to Hildebrand. “Thy friend, who
must be mine also henceforth, can tarry our return here.”

Don Rafaele, on being made acquainted with the proposition,
and the fact that they were about to wait on the Queen, readily
agreed to tarry there till they should return; and, at the same
time, suggested that, if their business required despatch, Sir
Walter could make use of his horse, which, as it was still
saddled at the door, would prevent any delay. Sir Walter embraced
his offer, and, together with Hildebrand, thereupon took leave
of Don Rafaele, and departed. On reaching the exterior of the
house, they paused only to commend Don Rafaele to the care of the
servant, and then, with a prompt spring, mounted their horses,
and set out for the palace.

Putting their horses to a brisk pace, they shortly arrived at
that structure. They found, however, on inquiry, that the Queen
was then in council, and, consequently, was not likely to grant
them an audience. But Sir Walter, notwithstanding this, insisted
that his message should be conveyed to her; and Sir Ferdinand
Georges, to whom his communication was made, and who was the
officer attending on the council, ultimately undertook to be its
bearer.

Sir Walter waited the Queen’s answer with some impatience. At
last (and, to say the truth, before very long), Sir Ferdinand
returned, and informed him that the Queen would not see him till
she rose from the council.

“I must even ask thee to seek her Highness once more, then,
worthy Sir Ferdinand,” answered Sir Walter; “and advise her,
that what I have to deliver withal is of exceeding moment, and
involves the honour, safety, and welfare of her crown.”

“On such a message, Sir Walter, I dare not pause,” answered Sir
Ferdinand. “Though it should bring me to the block, I will even
advise her thereof.”

So answering, he turned away, and repaired once more to the
Queen. While our two friends were speculating on the result of
his mission, he reappeared, and, in a low voice, summoned Sir
Walter to appear before the council.

Sir Walter entered the council-chamber with a firm step, and,
making a low bow, advanced to the Queen’s chair, when he dropped
gracefully on one knee, at her feet.

“Rise, Sir Walter Raleigh,” said the Queen, graciously. “We have
received thy most alarming message; and as it comes from thee,
whom we know to be wise above most men, and, withal, a right
loyal gentleman, we may say truly, it is alarming.”

“Not less so than your Highness conceives,” answered Raleigh. “I
am informed, from a sure quarter, that the Spaniard is preparing
to invade us.”

An exclamation of surprise broke from several of the council.

“This news finds us unprepared,” observed the Queen. “Let a
messenger be despatched for my Lord Burleigh.”

While Secretary Herbert, who sat nearest to the door, sprang to
obey her injunction, the Queen resumed.--

“Whence derivedst thou these tidings, Sir Walter?” she asked.

“From the captain of my expedition to America, my liege,”
answered Sir Walter. “He hath just returned, after capturing,
with only one poor ship, a rich galleon, laden to the brim with
Spanish gold.”

“By my troth, I give thee joy!” exclaimed the Queen, with
sparkling eyes. “Let this brave adventurer, whoever he be, attend
us at his convenience, and”----

While she was yet speaking, the chamber-door was thrown open, and
Lord Burleigh, leaning on a crutch, and bearing in one hand a
capacious green bag, appeared in the doorway.

All eyes were turned on the aged nobleman as he entered the
chamber, and, with a slow and tottering step, advanced to his
seat. His countenance, always grave, was now unusually dark
and heavy, and seemed to intimate that he also was the bearer
of important tidings. The Queen only replied to his bow with
a smile, and all waited his first words in silent but eager
expectation.

He did not keep them waiting long. On gaining his seat, he paused
only to turn an inquiring glance on Sir Walter Raleigh, and then,
in a grave tone of voice, proceeded to deliver himself.

“I met your Grace’s messenger on the stair,” he said, addressing
the Queen. “I should have attended the council afore; but I was
stayed, as I was mounting to my litter, by a courier from Madrid.”

“The news?” cried the Queen, anxiously.

“A scandal to Christendom!” exclaimed Burleigh. “Your Grace’s
ambassador, Master Mason, had been placed under restraint, and
was only just released. Further, a large armada, numbering one
hundred and thirty ships of war, was preparing to invade your
Highness’s realm. The ordering and force of the armada hath been
boastingly set down in a book, as if it were above resistance;
and certes, an’ we rely only on our earthly means, we are as
Ichabod, and our glory hath departed. The courier”--here he
put his hand into his large green bag, and drew forth a small
book--“hath brought over one of these books, and I here offer it
for your Grace’s inspection.”

The Queen, as he ceased speaking, eagerly caught up the book,
and, drawing it open, glanced anxiously at its contents. As
she turned hastily from page to page, the council watched
the changing expressions of her countenance with the deepest
earnestness; and for nearly half an hour, during which she never
once looked up, or removed her eyes from the book, maintained the
most profound silence. At length, the Queen laid the book down,
and, in a somewhat agitated voice, broke the protracted pause.

“As the Lord liveth, we must to arms straight!” she cried.
“Antichrist is up; and our fair realm, which hath been his
greatest eyesore, is to be his first victim. The force is a
hundred and thirty ships, commanded by the Marquis of Santa Cruz,
who, we all know, is reputed both brave and skilful. Admiral
Paliano, Don Amadius of Savoy, Don John of Medicis, the Duke of
Medina Sidonia, the Duke of Sabionetta, with many others, the
most renowned lords and princes of Spain and Italy, have a part
in the expedition. Twenty thousand men, under that bloody man,
the Duke of Parma, join it from Flanders. And--which shows its
devilish origin--the Pope lays on its standard his most solemn
benediction.”

As she ceased speaking, the several members of the council broke
into various exclamations, which revealed, in distinct and
forcible colours, both their surprise and their concern; but not
one of them displayed the least indecision. Glancing hastily at
their respective faces, the Queen seemed, by a sudden change in
her demeanour, to derive from them a new confidence, which made
her naturally stout heart even more determined, and put all her
fears and apprehensions to flight.

“We must discuss this matter anon,” she said, after a pause.
“Meantime, let each of you, in your several departments,
ascertain our means and capabilities of defence, and be prepared
promptly to settle what order and provision can be made in that
regard. My Lord Burleigh, be it your business to summon together
the Parliament. To-night, at nine of the clock, I will meet you
all here again.”

“Before we take our leaves, my liege,” said Lord Burleigh, “it
were advisable, methinks, that a measure should be resolved on
for delivering these heavy tidings to your loyal people. Shall it
be done by proclamation?”

There was a brief pause, when the Queen, in a happy spirit of
invention, directed that the intelligence should be dispersed
abroad through the medium of a public journal, to be published
periodically; and which, at a merely nominal charge, should
put the people in possession of every particular. The council
unanimously approved of the project; and thus, at the dictation
of the great princess, arose the first idea of an English
newspaper.

As this grave and important point was settled, the Queen,
happening to look on one side, let her glance fall on Sir Walter
Raleigh, and she thereupon called that personage forward.

“We owe thee some thanks,” she said, “yet will we not pay thee
now. We will see thee anon, when thou shalt deliver to us, as
largely as thou canst, the several particulars of thy late
expedition. Meantime, give thee farewell!”

Sir Walter caught up her proffered hand, and, with a lowly
and graceful bow, raised it to his lips. He then bowed to the
council, and retired.

He found Hildebrand without, looking anxiously for his return.
Nevertheless, before he informed him how his intelligence
respecting the Spanish armada had been confirmed, and what
measures were meditated in consequence, he led him down the
contiguous stairs, and brought him forth from the palace. There,
being no way pledged to secrecy, he briefly acquainted him with
all that had taken place at the council-board.

Hildebrand heard him to an end without interruption, when he
suggested that, as he had yet a great deal to learn from him,
and much to tell him, they had better ride off to the ships, at
Deptford; and they would then be able to converse freely on
their way. Sir Walter agreed to his proposal, and, accordingly,
without further discussion, they mounted their horses, and set
off in the direction of Deptford.

As they rode along, Hildebrand inquired anxiously after his
friends the Nevilles, and how they had fared, subsequent to
his departure for America, in their suit with the Government.
Sir Walter’s reply called up in his bosom the most discordant
and conflicting feelings. If the picture it presented of the
sufferings of Sir Edgar, under the mortifications and indignities
that he had been subject to, excited his indignation, he was
moved to a softer sympathy by its detail of the patience,
fortitude, and filial devotion of the incomparable Evaline. Nor
was he indifferent to the favourable mention that was made of
Bernard Gray, though, as Sir Walter’s knowledge of that person
was limited, and derived only from the grateful remarks of
Evaline, he was spoken of but briefly. He was silent for a short
time after Sir Walter had put him in possession of the several
particulars of the transaction, when he delivered himself at
large.

“I do heartily admire Mistress Evaline’s dutiful bearing,” he
said. “Of a verity, she hath a store of notable good qualities,
and very excellent virtues. More have I never noted in any one
maiden, in England or elsewhere. But, to hear thy tale out, Sir
Walter, hast thou had no advice of her since her worshipful
father was set at large?”

“I’faith, have I!” answered Sir Walter. “Sir Edgar and she
came to me together, on the same day that he was enlarged; and
discoursed with me concerning his liberation right familiarly.
In especial did they dwell on their obligations to thee, and, as
I failed not to confess, not without reason. Further, Sir Edgar
did importune me, with many hearty fair words, to speed thee to
him on thy return; and, albeit sweet Mistress Neville said not
a word, methought she did second his invitation with her sweet
looks, whereunto I tendered my whole allegiance.”

Hildebrand sighed. “I will even hold me to the good knight’s
invitation with all despatch,” he said.

“Well,” smiled Sir Walter, “I would have thee do no less. But,
now that I have made thy heart light (nay, look not at me so
grievously amazed), prithee unfold to me at large the particulars
of thy late voyage.”

Glad to escape from a subject which he began to think could
not be pursued, at the passing moment, without subjecting him
to Sir Walter’s raillery, though he could not remember that he
had ever laid himself open to such a consequence, Hildebrand
readily complied with this request, and proceeded to deliver
a succinct history of his voyage. He touched as lightly as
possible, however, on his personal adventures, and, in relating
what had passed at Cadiz, entirely skipped over the romantic
incident of his connexion with Donna Inez, which was, in reality,
the liveliest reminiscence that the voyage presented to him. By
the time that he had finished his narrative, they arrived at
Deptford, and they then made straight for the ships.

They found that Master Halyard, impatient to have a turn ashore,
had already begun to unload the galleon. The precious cargo of
that vessel was now being raised up, and carted, under a guard
of armed seamen, to the Queen’s warehouse. In the course of the
day, the whole of the boxes of metal, the most valuable portion
of the cargo, were thus secured, and every arrangement made for
effecting a perfect clearance. When they had seen matters brought
to this satisfactory stage, Sir Walter and Hildebrand, taking a
hearty leave of Master Halyard, quitted the ship, and, mounting
their horses, returned straight to town.



CHAPTER XII.


It was in the same month of January, and on a morning equally
fair with that which opened our preceding chapter, that Evaline
de Neville, and her father, Sir Edgar, having just finished their
morning meal, were seated together in a commodious chamber, on
the upper floor of Neville Grange. A light frost was in progress;
but a fire blazed in the andirons, under the large chimney,
that communicated a comfortable degree of warmth to every part
of the room. Surrounded by this influence, the two inmates of
the chamber, though seated some distance from the fire, were
perfectly at their ease, and seemed to be no way sensible of the
cold without.

Sir Edgar was reading, and, from the smile that, every now and
then, suffused his lips, the work he was perusing appeared to be
a light one. Evaline, like an assiduous housewife, was engaged
in working some embroidery, and her ardent mind was labouring as
earnestly with varied threads of thought.

Her appearance had undergone a great alteration during the last
few months. The outlines of her exquisite person, as she sat
erect in her chair, looked more matured, and revealed the most
bewitching traces of female loveliness. Viewed separately, the
mould of each limb, in its turn round, presented some unexpected
attraction, and, while it lay perfectly still and motionless,
was yet more charming from its look of life and elasticity,
than from its numberless graces. Not the least of these lay in
the uninterrupted accuracy which was followed by the outline
of her whole figure. In pursuing this, the eye expected, as
an ascertained consequence, each successive and varied turn,
and followed the _contour_ spontaneously through every line.
But no eye could glance at her fair shoulders and neck, falling
imperceptibly into the upper region of her bosom, which was just
visible above the frilled edging of her bodice, without making
an admiring pause. Here the very _beau ideal_ of proportion,
marked with a hundred beautiful shades, was displayed in full,
and, withal, was so bright and lively, that one could almost see
the animation that it protected and veiled over. The delicate
rounding of her chin wooed the gaze on further; and in her fresh
and dazzling complexion, yet only relieved, not overcast, by
various touches of thought, and teeming with health and buoyancy,
opened to view a still more captivating object. Her large, deep
eyes, beaming with tenderness, yet pregnant with reflection,
seemed to shed over it actual and distinct rays, and to crown
its bloom with an atmosphere of light. The soft, mellow tint,
that, like “the red morning,” surmounted her cheeks, looked
deeper than the skin, and, in its fulness of thought and feeling,
led one to dive to the heart, to which, in pure truth, it was
a mere tributary. Nor did the arch of her brows, or the long,
glossy fringe of her eyelids, though of the deepest black, impair
this effect; but rather served, by their varied colouring, to
heighten and confirm it. Her luxuriant black hair was yet hardly
dressed, and was pushed behind her small ears, on to her neck and
shoulders, in numberless light curls, that one could not regard
without the liveliest admiration.

Though she sat silent, her face, as has been remarked, was full
of thought, and intimated that the mind was busy within. Yet
there was nothing of melancholy in her aspect, or of gloom in her
reflections. The theme of her meditation, indeed, to a girl of
her age and temper, was rather enlivening:--it was love!

How often, since her return to the Grange, free from all care and
embarrassment, had she sought to ascertain whether she really
did love! How often had the fact of her pondering on such an
inquiry assured her, on a moment’s consideration, that her love
was beyond all dispute! Love!--she had no thought, no hope, no
feeling, apart from the tender relations of her position, that
was not inseparably associated and bound up with the one ardent
and absorbing passion!

And to whom had she thus surrendered the deepest and most
precious sympathies of her nature? How earnest must have been
that suit, how persuasively eloquent that plea, that could win,
in so short a time, such a priceless treasure!

No plea had been urged; no suit had been proffered; and all was
placed on the die, on which depended the tenor and interests of
a life, on mere hazard! She loved; she surrounded her love with
all the sweet sensibilities of her nature; she clung to it as to
life; and yet, in plain reality, it had sprung up unsolicited,
and might wither unmourned.

She never thought of this--not once! Her passion had risen
insensibly, and, when it incurred notice, it was too hopeful--it
was too headlong, to be arrested. She rather discerned it
with pleasure; and with all the confidence and tenderness of
innocence, which judges the motives of others by its own, and
has no notion of the frauds and deceits of the world, nursed and
buoyed it up.

She never doubted that Hildebrand--for it was that person she
loved--reciprocated her attachment. The tones of his voice, his
looks, and even his sentiments, viewed together, and with a close
and searching eye, evinced his love distinctly. It is true, she
had not thought so at the time; but that, she imagined, in the
innocence of her confiding nature, was because she was not on her
guard, and consequently, had not given them particular heed. She
did not know, or, if she knew, she did not bear in mind, that a
partial eye might attach to this evidence too much importance;
that she might recall Hildebrand’s voice in other tones than it
had adopted; and give his looks, on which she dwelt so fondly,
more force and meaning than they would warrant. If she did fall
into such an error, she never once gave it a thought; but, with
all the earnestness of her passionate and ardent nature, clung
only to the bright hopes it raised, and the flattering prospects
of which it was the fount.

Poor thing! she had no conception of the hypocrisy and knavery
of the treacherous world. And, to say the truth, her ignorance
of its usages, in purely moral matters, might well be excused.
What possible motive could any one have, when no way offended
with her, in stealing her affections, and then casting them to
the winds? Surely, no one could find enjoyment--no one could feel
any pleasure--in inflicting on an unoffending fellow-creature
so foul a wrong! It was an outrage on the divine sensibilities
of nature to suppose such a thing. For one of her own kind to
seduce her every thought, to take possession of her every hope,
to impress himself on the deep springs of her immortal soul, and
then, in return, to cast on her an eternal blight, which should
make solitude a torture, society a desert, and life a burden,
was quite beyond the utmost verge and limit of apprehension.
Hildebrand was, to all appearance, noble, frank, and humane:
how could she suppose that he was capable of such enormous and
motiveless turpitude?

The only fear that her love ever dwelt upon, when reviewing its
various expectations, referred to Don Felix di Corva. It is true,
that person was not at present in England; but her father,
being now under no apprehension for his safety, had written for
him, and he was expected at the Grange every day. It cannot be
denied that she looked forward to his return with no feelings of
pleasure. On consideration, however, she did not apprehend that
her father would insist, beyond a certain limit, in carrying
out his project of uniting her to him in marriage. Her fear,
therefore, after all, was but a slight one, and no way arrested
the ripening fulness of her love.

The anxious moments that the timid tenderness of her disposition
founded on Hildebrand’s absence, though not few, were but
short-lived, and sank and dispersed under the influence of
her expectations. Her sanguine mind dwelt more on the hope of
fruition, than the possibility of disaster; and though, in
her solitary moments, she often pondered on the dangers which
she imagined Hildebrand to be exposed to, and the hazardous
character of his profession, it was always with a hopeful eye,
and a confident belief that he was equal to any emergency that he
might have to encounter.

She was pondering on his position at the period which opened this
chapter, and, as she thought over the several causes of anxiety
which she supposed it to embrace, a low sigh, that broke from
her--perhaps, unconsciously--showed that he carried with him her
fullest sympathy. The sigh reached the ears of Sir Edgar, and,
dropping his book, he looked up, and gazed inquiringly on her
face. Before he could make any remark, however, his attention was
drawn to the chamber-door, at which his valet, old Adam Green, at
this moment presented himself.

There was a smile on the old man’s lip, and a flush on his face,
enforcing and supporting his smile, that announced him to be the
bearer of more than ordinary tidings.

“What news, Adam?” cried Sir Edgar.

“Captain Clifford, and another cavalier, named Don Rafaele, are
in the hall, your worship,” answered Adam.

Both Sir Edgar and Evaline sprang to their feet directly.
Evaline, however, was so much agitated, though purely with her
excessive joy, that she was obliged to sit down again, and
endeavour to compose herself. Fortunately, neither Sir Edgar
nor Adam noticed her discomposure. Having communicated his
intelligence, Adam disappeared immediately, and Sir Edgar,
without looking round, passed on after him, and hastened to meet
his visiter in the hall.

Several minutes elapsed before Evaline could any way quell
the deep and exquisite emotion into which she had been so
unexpectedly betrayed. Even when her feelings were somewhat
subdued, her fair bosom, for all her efforts to restrain it,
still heaved slightly, and her face retained its glow of
unmingled joy. Before she could quite recover herself, she heard
the tread of feet approaching, and, as she hastened to gain her
feet, the chamber-door was opened, and Sir Edgar and his two
visiters passed in.

Evaline saw no one but Hildebrand. It would have been vain, if
she had striven ever so, to seek to keep her feelings under
perfect restraint when Hildebrand had once appeared. But, to
record the plain fact, she did not seek such an object--indeed,
she did not even give it a thought.

Hildebrand stepped hastily up to her directly he had opened the
door, and, as his purpose became apparent, she advanced to meet
him. In a moment, they had clasped hands, and greeted each other
with undisguised cordiality.

Scarcely had the two young friends (for in that relation we must
still view them) thus interchanged their greetings, when Sir
Edgar stepped forward with Don Rafaele.

“I’faith, Eve,” he cried, in Spanish, “thou hast so overlooked
me in the instance of Captain Clifford, that I am half minded to
play the chamberlain no further. Howbeit, out of regard for thy
maiden estate, I will even pursue mine office, and here commend
to thee Captain Clifford’s friend, and henceforth ours--Don
Rafaele.”

“I give you welcome to England, fair Senhor,” said Evaline, to
Don Rafaele.

The young Spaniard, who now seemed to have discarded his
light and graceful bearing, and to have assumed all the rigid
stateliness of a Castilian grandee, returned a formal answer,
and showed no desire to speak further. But, well aware of the
reserved manners that prevailed in his native country, Evaline
was not surprised at his demeanour, but supposed it to be
no other than he maintained usually. His apparent coldness,
therefore, no way embarrassed her, and, in the excitement of the
moment, it was unnoticed by Hildebrand and Sir Edgar. The latter
person, indeed, soon drew Don Rafaele a little on one side, and
engaged him in conversation with himself. Hildebrand and Evaline
were thus left to discourse apart.

They had much to tell each other; at least, Evaline, in the
fulness of her confidence, had much to tell Hildebrand, and
much to ask of him in return. And, in telling him all that she
had suffered during his absence, she sought not to talk of
herself, but to show, by her fervid and delicate expressions, her
gratitude to him, and how his services were fixed and rooted in
her memory.

The account which Hildebrand gave her of his recent voyage,
though it omitted several important incidents, and forbore all
reference to her cousin, Don Felix di Corva, inspired her with
the deepest interest. As it described his perils, hardships, and
sufferings, and ended, at last, with his capture of the costly
galleon, it stirred within her the most conflicting feelings,
though they all, in the main, flowed from one source--love and
admiration of him.

Meantime, Sir Edgar and Don Rafaele, though they spoke in the
Spanish language, seemed to converse together quite as earnestly,
and on subjects equally interesting. Don Rafaele’s dignity had
evidently relaxed under the attentive courtesy of the Englishman.
Although, however, he conversed freely, he was still far from
being at his ease; and he occasionally darted glances at Evaline,
unobserved by Sir Edgar, that indicated anything but composure.
But, whatever might be his real feelings, his demeanour had
no effect on the company, and, to say the truth, was not even
remarked. The morning, consequently, passed lightly over, and
left the general harmony undisturbed.

In the afternoon, soon after the meal of dinner had been
despatched, Hildebrand broke away from Evaline, and, sallying
forth, proceeded in quest of Bernard Gray. On arriving at that
person’s retreat, however, he found that he was abroad, and, from
what he had said on setting out, was not expected to return for
several weeks. As Hildebrand had already, on the invitation of
Sir Edgar, arranged to remain at the Grange for a month, this
news did not give him much concern, and, having determined to see
Bernard before he should repair to town, he walked back to the
Grange in undisturbed hilarity.

The little circle at the mansion hailed his return with
unaffected pleasure. Their sprightly conversation, which
his absence had somewhat interrupted, was resumed on his
reappearance; their spirits acquired a new buoyancy; and, as the
hours sped fleetly on, their fellowship seemed to become more and
more confirmed.

Not the least singular feature in their intercourse was the
intimacy which appeared to subsist between Sir Edgar and
Don Rafaele. The extreme youth and extraordinary personal
attractions of Don Rafaele, though somewhat overcast by his
reserved manners, had preferred him to Sir Edgar’s regard at the
very outset; but his interest in the young Spaniard deepened on
acquaintance, and, after a very brief intercourse, increased
to attachment. Associated with his country, in respect to his
deceased wife, by a tie that he could never overlook, he was
predisposed to this feeling, and the winning appearance of Don
Rafaele insensibly led him to give it free rein. The warmth and
kindness of his manner was not without a due effect on the young
Spaniard. As his desire to please him became more apparent,
he cast off his formal dignity, and became less reserved.
Still, however, he was not at his ease, and his eyes betrayed a
restlessness and discomposure, which his utmost efforts could
hardly enable him to disguise.

No restraint of this sort existed in the bosoms of Hildebrand
and Evaline. Their intercourse, if not founded on the same
sympathies, was free and open, and full of ardent and generous
feelings. In a correspondence so happy, the day sped lightly by,
and left them anxious only for the promise of the morrow.

A fortnight passed over in the same uninterrupted harmony.
Yet, at its expiration, Evaline, it must be owned, was not
so uniformly composed, if she were even so happy, as at the
commencement of that period. It is true, while she was actually
in correspondence with Hildebrand, interchanging those social
relations which constitute one of the brightest features of
life, she was supremely happy, but her solitary moments were not
unattended by a certain degree of solicitude. She noticed that,
at times, Hildebrand’s brow was sad and overcast, and, if come
upon unexpectedly, or without some previous intimation, that he
was often taken by surprise; and, from these evidences of mental
uneasiness, she inferred that he was too seriously occupied to
think of love, even if he could ever be inspired with love for
_her_. It was not improbable, indeed, in her opinion, that he
loved another. Her fair bosom thrilled with anguish when she
pondered on such a possibility. And how often, in the dead of the
night, when every other eye was fastened in sleep, did she ponder
on it! How often and often did she ask herself, with all the
bitterness of disappointed passion, whether she had really built
her affections, and the peace and tenor of her precious life, on
the crazy foundations of a shadow!

But, as has been observed, these reflections never occurred to
her when she was in communication with Hildebrand. Then, indeed,
she had no apprehension--no anxiety: she had not even a thought
beyond the felicity of the moment.

So deep--so inconceivably ardent, was her passion, that, when its
object was really and personally present, her delight almost
made her giddy. Every look that he assumed, every sentiment that
he uttered, called up in her, on the instant, and, as it were, by
an instinctive sympathy, a silent but visible response. The very
springs and depths of her soul answered to his touch. She might
be silent, yet--so closely was she knit to him--she was speaking
in his voice, and even thinking in his breast. Every moment threw
over her a new fascination; protracted intercourse, which so
often robs society of its charm, only enhanced her delight; and,
as time hurried on, her heart fixed its whole hope and aim on her
all-absorbing attachment.

Yet she and Hildebrand were rarely together alone. Whether
walking, or riding, or within doors, they were generally (and, to
be precise in our remark, most frequently) attended by both Sir
Edgar and Don Rafaele, and almost always by one or the other.
One afternoon, however, it so happened, that those two persons
sallied out by themselves, and left Hildebrand and Evaline alone.

They were sitting in the library, and, at the moment that Sir
Edgar and Don Rafaele passed out, Hildebrand was engaged with
a book, and Evaline, more lightly inclined, was inspecting the
illuminations of a roll of manuscript. As she turned smilingly
from one illumination to another, she seemed, for a moment, to
enter into the full spirit of her pursuit, and to glance at
the antique figures with interest and curiosity. All at once,
however, she came to an abrupt pause, and looked up. A deep sigh
had broken on her ear, and, forgetting everything else, she
turned her eyes on Hildebrand, and glanced inquiringly in his
face.

Hildebrand’s glance met hers: a slight flush mounted to his face;
and a smile, though a mournful one, rose to his lips.

“What wouldst thou, fair mistress?” he asked, supposing, from the
look of eager inquiry that sat on her face, that the manuscript
she was inspecting presented some difficulty, which she sought
his assistance to unravel. “What wouldst thou?” he repeated, and,
as he spoke, he rose to his feet, and advanced to her side.

“I’faith,” answered Evaline, with affected displeasure, yet
slightly smiling the while, “now I bethink me, I will not tell
thee; for I hold thee to be scarce worthy.”

“As how?” cried Hildebrand, with some earnestness. “But,” he
added, in a low voice, “’tis true! ’tis true!”

“Now, were I a man, and of degree and condition suitable, I would
hold some question with thee on its truth,” answered Evaline.
“But, as it is, I will even impeach thee on the items of thy
demerit, and bring thee to a full confession.”

“Then, deal with me tenderly, fair mistress, I prithee,” cried
Hildebrand.

“That will I not, but with horrible anger,” replied Evaline, with
a smile. “Yet, not to enter into items, which I first purposed, I
will only accuse thee of doing wrong to two trusty friends.”

“Then, will I not confess the charge,” answered Hildebrand.

“Are not my father and my poor self thy friends, then?” asked
Evaline.

“There be few I tender so lovingly,” returned Hildebrand. “But
what meanest thou?”

“We cannot help thee, thou thinkest?” said Evaline.

“In what matter, fair mistress?”

“In the matter that moved thee to that sorrowful sigh,” returned
Evaline, in a low but earnest tone, and, at the same time,
looking anxiously in his face.

Hildebrand changed colour. “No! no!” he said:--“that is past
help. But did I sigh? Trust me, ’twas unknowingly.”

“In good sooth, it makes me sad that we can lend thee no help,”
observed Evaline.

“I pitched my every thought on a shadow,” said Hildebrand, in
a low voice. “Henceforth, the world, with its fair train of
accidents, will be no more than a desert in my regard, and life
but a dream. I am lost in it!”

“Alas!” sighed Evaline, deeply moved.

“Thou art too pitiful,” pursued Hildebrand. “Yet are those sweet
tears, which my dejection hath brought to thine eyes, most
soothing balsam to me, and more inspiring than new hope. By my
troth, they make my heart swell again!”

“That do I not credit,” faltered Evaline.

“Wilt thou credit that thou art my heart’s hope and keeper?”
asked Hildebrand, taking up her hand, and pressing it in his.
“Nay, turn not away, sweet mistress! Remind thee, thou holdest in
thy hands a human life--thy lips are to pass judgment on a soul!
But wherefore do I discourse thus? It does thee wrong, sweet
Evaline! I will”----

“Oh, hold! hold!” said Evaline, in broken accents.

“Dost thou--canst thou love me, then?” cried Hildebrand.

“Oh, yes! yes!” faltered Evaline, hiding her burning face on his
shoulder.

Hildebrand, trembling with passion, turned his arm round her
waist, and pressed her to his bosom. All his fears had now
vanished, and, in the fervid kiss that he imprinted on her cheek,
he had a foretaste of the felicity that he was yet to look
forward to.

How brief are our moments of unmingled happiness! As Hildebrand,
with the ardour and eagerness of a welcomed lover, pressed his
lips to the glowing cheek of his mistress, he thought he heard
some one open the chamber-door; and, turning quickly round, his
eye met that of Don Rafaele.



CHAPTER XIII.


There was something in the look of Don Rafaele that made
Hildebrand’s very heart quake again. Yet it was but momentary;
for no sooner did the Spaniard, in the manner already set forth,
meet his glance, than he withdrew his observation, and turned
abruptly away. Stepping back through the doorway, he drew the
door, which he still held in his hand, close after him, and left
the lovers to themselves.

Scarcely had he thus passed into the outer passage, however,
when he heard Hildebrand’s step, which he seemed instantly
to recognise, approaching within. Thereupon, with anxious
eagerness, he looked round for an eligible opening for retreat,
and, after a brief pause, passed hesitatingly up the adjoining
stairs, in the direction of his chamber.

He had taken but a few steps, when, as he had expected, the
library-door was hastily opened, and Hildebrand presented himself
in the passage. He caught sight of Don Rafaele on the instant,
and, staying only to close the door in his rear, passed on after
him. Stepping out quickly, a few paces brought him to the stairs;
and there, though Don Rafaele had made no pause, he shortly
overtook him.

On thus effecting his purpose, he laid his hand gently on his
arm, and turned an anxious glance on his pale face.

“Thou ailest somewhat, my fair Rafaele?” he said. “Prithee what
hath moved thee to this most grievous and disconsolate look?”

Don Rafaele, without saying a word, mournfully shook his head,
and turned his eyes on the floor.

“The matter?” pursued Hildebrand, anxiously. “Come, now, an’ thou
lovest me, tell me the matter.”

“’Tis melancholy!--nought but melancholy!” answered Don Rafaele,
with perfect calmness. “The mood visits me oft, and, to speak
sooth, hath been mine infirmity, every now and anon, from my
early boyhood. Give me leave awhile, and, if I be left to mine
own self, I will be better anon.”

“God be with thee!” exclaimed Hildebrand. “Methinks, an’ thou
wouldst bear with it, good fellowship were better for thee than
solitude. But be it as thou wilt.”

Don Rafaele, with whatever motive, still desired to be left
to himself, and Hildebrand pressed his suggestion no further.
Dropping his hold of Don Rafaele’s arm, he turned back to the
passage, and suffered him to pursue his way to his chamber alone.

Don Rafaele did not linger on his route. Proceeding at a quick
pace, he shortly gained his chamber; and with a hasty step, but
agitated withal, passed to the interior, and closed and fastened
the door behind him.

Whatever might be his ailment, it would seem that his energy,
which hitherto had appeared even more than ordinary, was only to
last till he had secured himself against intrusion. Scarcely had
he turned the key in the door, when a dimness came over his eyes,
and a searching and nipping chill, like a rush of cold blood,
swept over his brain. As he threw himself into a contiguous
chair, he was overtaken by a swoon.

There he sat, helpless and insensible, with no ministering hand
to attend on him, for a considerable period. His beauty, his
virtue, his tenderness of heart, and his many noble and estimable
qualities, which had but to be revealed to be applauded, had
raised for him no barrier against the very extreme of loneliness
and necessity.

His senses returned, at last. Nevertheless, the mental anguish
that had produced his swoon (if its cause really were mental)
was clearly still alert; for, when he opened his eyes, a violent
shudder shook his whole frame. His cheeks, too, were pale and
thought-sick; his lips, colourless; and his large eyes, when
they were not turned on the floor (which was most frequently the
case), looked wild and desperate.

The sorrow that he laboured under must have been most acute,
yet, amidst all the traits of dejection that have been noticed,
he wore a look of dogged and stern resolution, which, in one so
youthful and prepossessing, it was harrowing to behold. Moreover,
he occasionally knitted his arched brows, and once, as the
paroxysm worked him deeper, he bit his lips till the blood came.

It was dusk before he was able any way to subdue his bitter
passion. Even then, though the amelioration was decided, he
manifested some traces of discomposure; and his feelings appeared
to be under a forced constraint, rather than actual and certain
control. His energies, however, were perfectly restored, and, on
rising from his chair, he turned to the chamber-door with a firm
step, and so passed out.

He did not pause at the door of the library; but pursued his way,
with the same decided step, to the family sitting-room. There, as
he had expected, he found Hildebrand and Evaline, together with
Sir Edgar, each of whom inquired after his health with unfeigned
solicitude. As the evening progressed, they strove their utmost
to arouse and inspirit him; and Evaline, in particular, though
somewhat confused on his entrance, exerted all her powers to
inspire him with hilarity. But though he sought to appear
cheerful, his mind was evidently too seriously unhinged, if one
may use such a term, to be so easily and promptly soothed; and
his present affectation of complacency was even more distressing
than his former melancholy. Moreover, he was frequently lost in
thought, and there was an apparent excitement in all he did and
said, and even in his very aspect, that was quite incompatible
with cheerfulness, and subversive of equanimity.

Thus he remained till the hour arrived for retiring to rest.
Then, having procured a light from one of the servants, he bade
his friends a hasty good-night, and passed back to his chamber.

His discomposure was greatly augmented when he reached that
apartment. Having set the light down on his toilet-table, he
proceeded to pace the floor, from one end of the chamber to the
other, with a hurried step, and with his hands clasped tightly
over his brow. His thoughts seemed to rise so rapidly, and in
such disorderly array, that he could not bend himself to consider
them, but became lost in perplexity and distraction. After a
time--but not before a good hour had elapsed--he came to a pause,
and, if one might form a conclusion from his altered manner,
made an effort to collect himself. As he did so, he suddenly
looked up; and a contiguous toilet-glass, which was standing
right before him, and which the light on the table served to
illuminate, presented to his eye the melancholy reflection of his
aspect.

A spasm passed over his face as he viewed this spectacle; and
certainly, compared with his usual appearance, or even that which
he wore but recently, it was touching in the extreme. There
was not a line of colour in any one feature, and the unnatural
lustre of his large full eyes, staring with horror, imparted to
the pallor and despairing look of his complexion a terrible and
appalling distinctness.

He cast but one glance at the glass, when he turned away; and
again, though with a slower step, and a look which, if no less
wild, was not so bewildered as his recent one, proceeded to pace
the chamber.

After he had thus perambulated the apartment for some time,
he stepped once more, at a slow and deliberate pace, towards
the toilet-table, and drew from a sheath at his side a small
stiletto. On drawing it fully forth, he held its point to one
of his fingers, as though he would ascertain, by this searching
and personal experiment, whether it were any way defective. His
inspection appeared to satisfy him of its perfectness; and, with
a trembling hand, he replaced it in its sheath.

A quiver suffused his lips as he was turning away from the table,
and he paused once more. But his hesitation, if such it were,
was but momentary, and, almost as he came to a stand, he caught
up the light from the table, and turned resolutely towards the
chamber-door.

Still bearing the light, he cautiously opened the door, and
looked out. No one was in sight; and from the stillness which
prevailed, and which was unbroken by the least sound, he rightly
conjectured that all the inmates of the mansion were now locked
in sleep. On arriving at this conclusion, he stepped out into the
passage, and proceeded, with a quick but noiseless tread, down
a contiguous flight of stairs, where a broad landing opened to
another flight. He halted on the landing, and, holding up the
light, turned his eye on a neighbouring door, which led from the
landing to an inner chamber. The chamber was Evaline’s.

The cavalier gazed on the door for a full minute, when, with a
tremulous hand, he set down the light, and softly stepped close
up to the door. Raising his hand, he cautiously lifted the latch;
and the door, which he had expected to find locked, yielded to
his pressure, and admitted him to the chamber.

Right opposite to the door was a casement, through which,
though it was partly veiled by a curtain, the moon could be
distinguished, and thus sufficient light prevailed to reveal
every object in the room. On discerning this, Don Rafaele, though
he had left his light on the landing, turned quickly round, and,
previous to taking any further step, softly closed the door. He
was now in comparative darkness, but the objects of the room
were still visible, and, when he turned round from the door,
he glanced over them all separately, and then stepped lightly
towards the bed.

The deep breathing of its occupant assured him that she was
asleep before he drew back the drapery. As he did draw the
drapery back, the moonlight--for it was on the same side of the
chamber with the casement--spread itself out before him, and
revealed to him the sleeper’s face.

He cast but one hasty look at her scarcely distinguishable
features. Then, with breathless eagerness, he silently drew down
the bedclothes, and raised his dagger over her bosom.

                         END OF VOL. II.

London: HENRY RICHARDS, Brydges-street, Covent-garden.



Transcriber’s Notes:


Obvious punctuation errors corrected.

Period spelling retained, but apparent printing errors corrected.

Changed “crid” to “cried” on page 62. (cried Sir Walter Raleigh)

Changed “returnd” to “returned” on page 78. (returned Bernard)

Added missing “h” to “hope” on page 96. (with confidence and hope)

Changed “progess” changed to “progress” on page 102. (During his
progress to the palace)

Changed “scarely” to “scarcely” on page on 113. (They had
scarcely begun to make good way)

Changed “happnd” to “happened” on page 116. (In the name of God,
what hath happened?)

Changed “succesive” to “successive” on page 123. (For three
successive days)

Added missing “n” to “begun” on page 277. (had begun to fear thee
lost)





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