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



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. III.

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



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



HILDEBRAND.



CHAPTER I.


It was on the same evening that closed the preceding chapter of
this history, and while the dusk was hardly yet apparent, that
the maiden Abigail passed up the principal staircase of the
mansion of Master Shedlock, known as New Bethlehem, to a chamber
on the upper floor.

Whatever might be her reason, she affected to step forward with
excessive gentleness; but her shoes, being of the very strongest
material, and hobnailed withal, were not the best adapted to
give her purpose effect, and, in her way upward, her foot made a
heavy stamp at every step. But, judging from the expression of
her face, she appeared to be insensible of this, and to consider
that her progress was unattended by any intimation of her tread.

On reaching the summit of the stairs, she hastened along the
passage beyond, on which the stairs opened, to a neighbouring
door, leading to an inner chamber. She opened the door with great
caution; and after a moment’s pause, as if for the purpose of
listening, made a step forward, and passed into the chamber.

It was a bed-room, and, from various appearances around, was
evidently occupied by an invalid. Indeed, such a person was, on
a close survey, observed to be in possession of the bed; and
her peculiar head-gear announced her to be a woman. It was Dame
Shedlock.

That poor lady’s ardent powers of endurance had been overwhelmed,
at last. And what powers, of mere earthly constitution, could
bear up unshaken against one uninterrupted tide of oppression
and persecution? Since she last appeared on the stage of our
history, her trials had, in point of bitterness and violence,
even increased, and she was now subject to even more galling
mortifications. The temper and habits of the hypocritical
Shedlock had become more tyrannical than ever, and, as his
passive and uncomplaining victim, she was the only object on
which his spleen could fall.

We are told, that “the wicked shall flourish,” not only in a
great degree, but with such marked and decided vigour, that their
progress shall be compared to the rapid growth and prosperity
of “a green bay-tree.” We see this remarkable declaration so
effectively and exactly fulfilled, on looking out on the open
stage of the world, that, if borne well in mind, it must lend
the troubled heart the most soothing assurance. If the wicked
are so to flourish here, how inconceivably happier must be the
portion of the good man, relying on perfect equity, and love
beyond the apprehension of human sense, in the world to come!
The future reward is promised as surely, as decidedly, and as
distinctly, as the present advantage; and we have, even in a
temporal respect, a more attractive incitement to virtue, than
all the glory and riches of the world can insure to vice.

But, in our progress onward, we often see the man of crime,
after a long course of prosperity and success, suddenly checked
in his career, and overwhelmned with disaster even in the
present life. His subtlety, his craft, his cunning, and his
shrewd calculations, on which he had relied with such advantage
hitherto, all at once fail of their end; one after the other, his
schemes and pursuits bring him only disappointment; and events
which fall with lightness on others, and the general effect of
which is scarcely noticeable, act with surprising accuracy to
work his utter ruin.

Shedlock’s course of uninterrupted prosperity had seemed to meet
a sudden and sensible check. From the moment that, in the manner
described heretofore, he had sought to effect the destruction
of Sir Edgar de Neville, his fortunes had taken a new turn,
and had brought him nothing but crosses. Instead of advancing
in favour of the minister, which he conceived that his show
of zeal would certainly prefer him to, and which, indeed, was
the expectation that led to his interference, the part he had
taken in the affair of Sir Edgar appeared to have given offence;
and he had, moreover, the mortification to see the prosecution
quashed, and Sir Edgar cleared from all imputation. His vexation
at this result was increased, if possible, by other incidents.
Sir Edgar had hardly returned to the Grange, when one of the
new functionaries called _concealers_, appointed to investigate
suspected tenures, challenged him to show by what right and
authority he held possession of Clifford Place. Although, after
considerable trouble, he appeared to satisfy the official of
the integrity and validity of his possession, the fact of his
tenure being even questioned, when no claimant to it seemed to
have come forward, showed him to be a marked and doubted holder.
Some serious losses in his commercial pursuits, from which he
had expected to reap an enormous profit, happened about the same
time; and, altogether, his affairs assumed a very gloomy and
unpromising aspect.

Shedlock’s temper was not of the kind that would be subdued by
these reverses. The adverse influence that they involved, instead
of arousing in him the voice of remorse, only rendered him
more stubbornly vile; and he became more morose, violent, and
tyrannical at each visitation. His bitter temper was a torment
to all who were any way connected with him; at home, it plagued
his household; abroad, it haunted his tenants; but more than all,
sleeping or waking, day or night, it dealt its fullest violence
on his loving and patient wife.

Dame Shedlock sank under it fast. Long suffering, through years
of unmitigated tribulation, had already introduced disease into
her delicate frame; and increased persecution gave it strength
and root. As it continued to press upon her, she gradually grew
feebler and more feeble; and ultimately, yet without drawing from
her one complaint, or any way impairing that abject love and
submission which she invariably rendered its heartless minister,
it reduced her to the melancholy and cheerless helplessness of a
sick-bed.

At the moment that it has been deemed necessary to recall her
to the stage of our history, she was lying awake, yet perfectly
still, with her eyes turned towards heaven. Her general
complexion was deadly pale; but on either cheek, crowning the
surrounding whiteness, there was a bright spot of red, looking
more like fever than genuine bloom. Her eyes, too, though
wearing a serene expression, sparkled like fire, and, on a close
inspection, seemed to ache with their own light.

She retained the rapt look described for a full minute, when,
hearing a step approach, she turned her glance towards the door,
and discerned Abigail. That eccentric domestic, having continued
her progress, had by this time made good way, and come close to
the bed. She caught the glance of her mistress on the instant;
and in a manly voice, and with her accustomed brevity, but more
kindness than her face promised, proceeded to explain what had
brought her to her presence.

“The man’s come,” she said.

“What man?” asked Dame Shedlock, anxiously. “Ah! I remember me!
Thou meanest Bernard Gray?”

Abigail nodded her head, affirmatively. “And where is _he_?”
faltered the dame.

“A-reading the Word,” answered Abigail.

“The Lord lend him light!” ejaculated the dame, in faint accents.
“Be thou watchful, Abigail; and bring the man hither!”

Abigail, merely nodding her head in reply, hereupon turned
away, and stepped slowly from the chamber. In a few minutes she
returned, and, in the same cautious manner, ushered into the room
the already announced visiter.

Bernard Gray--for it was no other--did not wear his usual aspect.
There was, indeed, still a degree of sadness on his brow; but his
air of profound melancholy, which formerly he presented at all
times, and which was far from becoming, had quite disappeared.
Moreover, his eyes, if regarded closely, revealed a softer
expression, and, in their more natural and subdued light, looked
kindlier and more gentle. An improvement was also visible in his
attire. Though his habits, if examined attentively, were still
very unpretending, they were arranged with more taste, and had
evidently been put on with some regard to appearance. For all
this, he still looked mournful; and as he entered fairly into the
room, and observed the position of Dame Shedlock, the expression
of his face became heavier, and seemed even more sad and gloomy.

He waved Abigail to retire after he had glanced at the bed; and
that ancient maiden, though somewhat sulkily, accordingly passed
out, and left him alone with her mistress.

Having carefully closed the door, Bernard turned round, and
advanced silently to the bed.

Dame Shedlock, though still lying down (for, as there was no
drapery to the bed, the view was uninterrupted), had kept her
eyes upon him from the first moment of his entry, and, to all
appearance, without being the least disturbed. As he drew nigh,
however, her serenity gave way, and she became visibly agitated.

“No! no!” she said, in faltering accents: “not now! I cannot tell
thee now!”

“Well, well, mistress, be it anon, then,” answered Bernard,
mildly. “Whatever it affect, give thyself no care, I prithee. How
is it with thee?”

“Grievous! grievous!” rejoined Dame Shedlock. “I am dying!”

“Alack!” exclaimed Bernard.

“’Tis even so,” resumed the dame. “The Lord calls me; and must
not I, his servant, give his voice good heed? So be it; for as
grass we are green in the morning, and at night are cut down, and
withered.”

Bernard’s eyes brightened. “Set thy lamp in order, then,” he
said, “that, when the bridegroom comes, thou be not like the
foolish virgins, but have thine oil ready.”

“’Twas for that I bid thee hither,” replied the dame, faintly.
“And, verily, I must despatch, while life yet serves me, or I
shall be as the condemned of the parable.”

She paused here; and the short, strained breaths which she
exhaled, with her increased paleness, showed that she had exerted
herself beyond her powers. After a brief interval, however,
during which Bernard regarded her anxiously, but made no oral
observation, she appeared to recover herself, and resumed.

“The boy--the man, now,” she said--“Hildebrand Clifford; ’twas of
him I would speak.”

“He is well,” answered Bernard, “and, as I am advised, in
England--in Lantwell.”

Though she had hitherto seemed quite helpless, his auditor, on
hearing this unexpected intelligence, abruptly raised herself in
the bed, and gazed doubtingly in his face.

“In Lantwell?” she said.

“Even so,” returned Bernard.

“Then, can I not ease my poor conscience,” observed the dame,
feebly wringing her hands. “No! no! ’twere a greater sin to wrong
_him_, old and lonely as I shall leave him.”

“Yet wrong not thyself, or thy precious soul,” suggested Bernard,
with his wonted sternness.

The dame shuddered.

“Take comfort!” said Bernard, more kindly.

“I have it!” resumed the dame, eagerly, yet in subdued accents.
“An’ I give thee that will establish young Clifford’s rights,
wilt thou suffer _him_, who is now old, and near his time, to
hold them till he depart?”

“By my soul, will I!” exclaimed Bernard. “But what canst thou
give me will do this?”

“I will tell thee,” answered the dame; “yet first swear the
offence shall be held secret!”

“I swear it, by the Lord!” said Bernard, devoutly.

“Old Master Clifford, as thou knowest, held his dame in lawful
wedlock,” replied the dame, “but there is no record thereof in
the parish book. The page that did record it was torn out.”

“Ah!” cried Bernard.

“Forbear a while,” pursued the dame. “’Twas torn from the book
by--by _him_. The Enemy urged him to ’t; and in an evil hour,
when the Lord had forsaken him, he sought to destroy it.”

“Is it lost?” cried Bernard vehemently.

“’Twas in the blue chamber,” continued the dame, in a less
distinct and more tremulous voice; “and as he raised it to the
lamp, the man Zedekiah, on some errand, called him to the door.
The Lord put it into his heart to lay the folded paper on the
table; and while he conferred with Zedekiah at the door, I caught
it up, and placed in its stead one of no import. The change
passed, and he burned the false paper.”

Bernard breathed more freely. “The Lord reward thee!” he said.

The dame, breathless and exhausted, paused a space, when, with
a convulsive effort, but in a very low and agitated tone, she
resumed.

“I hold the right one still,” she said.

And, as she spoke, she raised her hand, and pointed tremulously
over her shoulder. With this last effort, all her strength, if
such it might be called, was exhausted, and she fell gasping to
her pillow.

Bernard, who had been watching her intently, and was now greatly
alarmed, sprang forward a pace, and sought to raise her head
in his arms. But before he could accomplish his purpose, the
chamber-door, which was right opposite to where he stood, was
suddenly thrown open, and Abigail rushed in.

“The master’s coming!” she said to Bernard.

“He comes at an ill time,” answered Bernard. “I fear me, the
mistress hath swooned.”

“An’ he see thee, he will kill her,” cried Abigail, hastily
stepping up to him.

Thus speaking, she glanced anxiously round the room; and her
eye, after running over several objects, rested on the door
of a closet, or wardrobe, behind the bed-head. Her sulky and
ill-natured-looking features, which had just before appeared so
anxious, contracted a broad grin as she discerned this covert;
and she pointed it out to Bernard.

“Get thee in there,” she said. “I will look to her.”

Albeit, as the approaching step of Shedlock was now audible,
there was no time to be lost, Bernard still paused to glance
anxiously at the face of Dame Shedlock; and it was not till
Abigail again warned him of his peril, and the greater peril
in which he involved the dame, that he turned to his retreat.
Scarcely had he entered the wardrobe, and closed the door in his
front, when Shedlock made his appearance.

Abigail, no longer apprehensive of a surprise, had just placed
one of her arms under the dame’s neck, and was gently raising her
head, when Shedlock entered. The dame, it now appeared, was not
in a swoon, and, as Abigail raised her head, and thus facilitated
her respiration, she looked up. There was, however, no sense in
her gaze, or thought in her aspect.

“Art better?” asked Abigail.

“I have it safe!” cried the dame, hysterically. “I have it safe!
He burned it not!”

Shedlock, who had paused at the chamber-door, here sprang
forward, and rushed to the side of the bed.

“What says she?” he demanded. “Verily, her name is Legion, and
she hath a devil.”

He sought to push Abigail aside as he spoke, but that individual,
to his great surprise, turned round on him, and maintained her
position unmoved.

“What wouldst thou?” she inquired.

“Back, woman!” cried Shedlock; “and tempt me not!”

“Back thou, man!” answered Abigail. “Seest thou not she be
distract?”

“Verily, an’ thou move not aside, the Lord shall make thee
as chaff in my hands, and as beaten stubble,” said Shedlock,
threateningly.

“Go to!” cried Abigail. “Thou art as the Levite in the parable,
which left the wounded man on the way-side.”

“I will have thee burned for a witch,” cried Shedlock, furiously,
and, at the same time, pushing violently against her.

Abigail, throwing all her strength into her hold, caught him by
both his arms, and, apparently with but little effort, thrust him
bodily back.

“An’ thou be not gone, I will noise thy doings abroad,” she said.
“She will be dead anon; and, verily, her ghost shall haunt thee,
like thine own shadow, all the days of thy life.”

Shedlock’s pale visage quivered at these words. Though he was an
atheist, and believed neither in GOD nor hereafter, but conceived
that the beautiful world, and all its perfect and universal
animation, with the thousands of occult worlds above, were the
work and offspring of chance, his soul was bound in the grossest
superstition. He fairly shuddered at the horrible image with
which Abigail had threatened him; and though his rage, in the
main, was no way abated, it was not equal to his base fear, and
he shrank back appalled.

“Take off the curse, and I will be gone,” he said.

“Begone, then!” exclaimed Abigail; “and repent, for the kingdom
of heaven is at hand!”

The hypocrite, with his heart burning with malice, yet afraid to
speak a word, turned slowly away, and passed in silence from the
chamber.

Meantime, his helpless and suffering wife, left to herself, had
remained in the same state of delirium, and continued to give
utterance to her incoherent ravings. When he had passed out of
sight, Abigail turned to her; but quickly discerned, from her
haggard and unconscious aspect, and the burning fever of her
eyes, that she could afford her no relief. She then turned to the
neighbouring wardrobe, and, drawing open the door, called forth
Bernard.

“Get thee hence, now,” she said; “and be wary, on thy way out,
that he sees thee not. I must tarry here with _her_.”

“I would I could speak a word more with her,” answered Bernard.
“I covet some paper she told me of, of great import, that she
hath hidden away.”

“Hear’st thou not how she raves?” returned Abigail. “Get thee
gone!”

Bernard, whether because he saw that his staying would be of no
avail, or feared to offend Abigail, said no more; but, though
with evident reluctance, turned silently away. Softly crossing
the chamber, he passed into the passage without; and thence,
after a cautious _reconnoissance_, proceeded to the staircase,
and descended to the porch without being observed.

Abigail remained in the chamber with Dame Shedlock. After a
time, the dame, though she seemed to be still insensible, ceased
to rave; and Abigail ventured to leave her for a while, and
descend to the kitchen for a light. When she returned, she found
the dame lying in the same position; but, to her mind, looking
less unconscious, and more at ease. Seemingly much pleased at
this, the eccentric servant, as a precaution against accidents,
set the light down on the hearth, and then threw herself into a
contiguous chair. She had sat thus but a short time, when she
fell into a profound sleep.



CHAPTER II.


It was broad day when Abigail awoke. On arousing herself, she
found that the dame, whom she had left so disordered, looked
now less feverish, and was locked in repose. Apparently much
gratified by a glance at her aspect, she rose to her feet;
and proceeded, with the stealthy step which she had all along
maintained, but which was not so noiseless as she supposed, to
make her egress from the chamber.

On reaching the passage without, she softly closed the door
of the chamber, and descended straight to the kitchen. There,
preparatory to other household arrangements, she shortly kindled
a fire, and set everything in order for an early breakfast.

Various and arduous were the duties that she had to discharge.
To scrub here, and sweep there--to rub this, and wash that,
employed her continually; and a not very encouraging feature in
her performance, on a close examination, was, that it appeared to
have little effect, and that, after undergoing a very extensive
process of cleansing, everything appeared to be quite as dirty as
at first.

But she was clearly not aware that her industry was so
unprofitable. A much more important idea, indeed--and even a more
singular one--engaged her attention. She felt convinced that she
was bewitched!

Several things, it must be owned, had gone wrong during the
morning. In the first place, she had had some difficulty,
beyond what she could reasonably have looked for, in kindling a
fire; secondly, she had afterwards cut her hand; and thirdly,
in washing the earthenware, she had nearly broken a drinking-mug.
Now, philosophers have discovered, among other great and
mysterious truths, that there can be no effect without a
cause; and though Abigail was not well read in philosophy,
or in anything else (being unable to read at all), her shrewd
mind acquired this information instinctively. She thus became
sensible, on consideration, that her unlucky mishaps were not
spontaneous, but were the effect and issue of some unseen cause.

What could it be? Some people would have thought, on a
superficial review of the subject, that her difficulty in
kindling the fire arose from the fact of its being carelessly
laid; that she had cut her hand through having misguided the
knife; and that she had nearly broken the drinking-mug, which was
her crowning mishap, because she had had but a slight hold of
it. But Abigail was not so simple. She knew, from experience, a
teacher not to be slighted, that the prevailing influence was of
a higher origin; and she hastened to search around for some trace
of its presence.

A brief investigation distinctly elicited its malignant source.
It lay on the shelf of a neighbouring cupboard, in one corner;
and presented to her doubting eyes, on their very first glance,
the fragment of an onion!

Who has not heard what a tide of misfortune the retention of this
esculent, in a broken state, will bring on a household? Abigail
knew its evil effects but too well. But how to counteract them,
without some way injuring herself (which she feared that her
personal interposition would do), was a matter which she was not
so promptly or easily resolved on.

At last, she determined to seek Zedekiah; and endeavour, by a
little excusable cajolery, and the exercise of those arts which
are the chief attribute of her sex, and of which Zedekiah was an
impassioned admirer, to prevail on him to remove the infectious
vegetable. Although he had not yet appeared in the kitchen, she
doubted not that he was up; and the stable, over which he slept,
seemed to her to be the place where she was most likely to find
him.

Zedekiah had, indeed, been up for some time, and, as she
supposed, was really engaged in the stable. But far other
thoughts than his horses engrossed his attention--more melancholy
functions than a groom’s, or even a clerk’s, claimed his
administration.

The great aim of his ambition had at length been attained, and,
in a few days more, he was to officiate at a funeral, not as an
humble follower, but in the honourable capacity of chief mourner.
How to qualify himself for this distinguished post was a matter
which had pressed on his consideration the whole of the previous
night. On rising in the morning, his first thought, in pursuing
the melancholy theme, prompted him to enact the contemplated
obsequies at home, and thus prepare himself for his part by a
rehearsal. Accordingly, he caught up a spade, and proceeded, with
much jocularity of aspect, to dig a hole in the stable-yard,
in the form of a grave. This preliminary measure achieved, his
next step was to provide a coffin and pall; and an old broom,
with a tattered horse-cloth, which lay in one corner of the
stable, furnished him with both those auxiliaries. But here he
was brought to a stand: he had provided the funeral furniture;
his arrangements for interment, as far as referred to personal
particulars, were complete; but there was no mournful bearer to
carry the broom to its grave!

While Zedekiah was meditating on the deficiency, the grave but
impassioned Abigail, marked with the grime of her avocations,
made her appearance in the stable. Here was a bearer for him
every way suitable. Zedekiah, transported with joy, greeted her
eagerly, and at once explained to her how he was situated. But
it required all his rhetoric, supported by his entreaties, to
remove her objection to undertake the office he proposed to her;
and it was not till he consented, in requital, to aid her in the
matter of the onion, which she considered far more weighty and
important, that he was able to win her to his purpose.

Her compliance once gained, the broom and horse-cloth, arranged
in due form, were raised to her shoulder, and she set out for the
grave. Zedekiah followed, “with solemn step and slow,” and with a
dirty napkin, as a substitute for a handkerchief, raised to his
lugubrious visage.

A funereal pace being maintained, the mournful procession
progressed but slowly; but as the grave, though on the extreme
confines of the yard, was no great distance from the stable, it
shortly arrived thither. As it drew up at the brink of the grave,
Zedekiah’s grief became excessive; and several minutes more
elapsed, to the manifest irritation of Abigail, before he could
finally resolve himself to consign the poor broom to its last
home. Then, having stripped it of the horse-cloth, he lifted it
carefully from Abigail’s shoulder, and lowered it into the grave.

The solemn moment of final separation had now arrived; and
Zedekiah, to all appearance, felt it severely. But after one
passionate outburst, his composure gradually returned; and he
proceeded, in a whining tone, and with a stern expression of
countenance, to utter his last farewell, in these words:--

    “Ashes to ashes,
      And dust to dust!
    If death don’t keep thee,
      The devil must!”

The funeral thus despatched, the afflicted chief mourner,
pursuant to the arrangement already set forth, was obliged
to tear himself away from the grave, and enter on the design
enforced on him by Abigail. Resolved to carry that design into
execution, he forthwith accompanied Abigail, who was heartily
weary of mourning, and glad to escape, to the kitchen, and
prepared to order himself as she should direct.

But both he and Abigail were unexpectedly interrupted in their
project. As the latter was deliberating, according to her custom
on such occasions, how they could best proceed, they were
confounded by the entrance of Shedlock.

His face was as pale as death; his eyes were almost starting from
their sockets; and he appeared, at first sight, to be hardly able
to stand. His two domestics gazed on him with a feeling of awe;
and the communication that he was about to make to them, and
which we shall have to record hereafter, was not calculated to
compose them.



CHAPTER III.


Providence always watches over its votaries. Asleep or awake,
the heart that strives against evil, whether in its own erring
nature, or the world around, may lean safely on its presence,
and depend on its protection. And, if we view the matter truly,
we shall find, on reflection, that we all continually recline
on this influence, even when we seem to act under our own
prompture. Pause on the unfathomable mystery of our nature! The
muscular frame, glowing with health--the wonderful mechanism of
the senses--the sight, that reflects on the hidden fabric of the
mind, which knows not its own seat, the form and pressure of
outward images--the hearing, that conveys to the same untraceable
centre the slightest sound--the memory, that records and recalls
the past--the active, profound, and undying thought--all may
be paralysed in a moment. At what time, then, and in what
enterprise, can we rely confidently on our own resources? If
never, we are as secure from harm in our sleep, when its approach
cannot be seen, as in the wariest period of healthful action.

Don Rafaele, as we have seen, had found Evaline asleep, and,
with a trembling but seemingly resolute hand, had raised his
dagger against her life. But though asleep, Evaline was more
secure under the shadow of that Power to which she had commended
herself, on retiring to rest, than if she had been able to see
his design, and to wrest the dagger from his hand.

And could Don Rafaele strike her? Oh, no! However headlong might
be the passion that boiled in his heart, it could not hurry him,
at this last pass, over the bound between his thought and the
act. It had carried him to the verge of crime; but there, on the
very point of its consummation, the tenderness of his nature came
to the rescue, and he drew back appalled.

Withdrawing his dagger, he reeled to the door, and passed on to
the outer landing. As he gained that place, a faintness came over
him; and he was obliged, when he had acquired a firm footing, to
come to a pause, and lean back against the wall for support. But
the weakness was only momentary, though it evidently required an
effort--and one of no common or limited vigour--to overcome it.
On recovering himself, he caught up the light, which, previous to
entering the chamber, he had left on the landing, and darted up
the stairs to his own dormitory.

The powerful excitement under which he had been labouring, and
which had nigh hurried him into such monstrous guilt, seemed
rather to abate when he arrived in his chamber; but the abatement
arose more from physical exhaustion, than moral alleviation. His
passion, however, though not a whit less bitter, was not quite
so overpowering. After a little time, indeed, it appeared to be
somewhat subdued; and, as reason regained its empire, he burst
into tears.

He wept long and bitterly; but though his tears, in the end, made
his head ache again, they materially relieved his overcharged
heart, and did more to assuage his passion than his most soothing
reflections. But whatever might be its nature, that passion was
too deeply rooted, and, withal, too intimately associated with
his heart’s most cherished aspirations, to be quite overcome;
and, though it breathed a less fervid and desperate spirit, it
was still resistless, and occasionally shot promptures through
his ardent nerves that made him shudder.

Daylight found him still sitting by his toilet-table, brooding
over his fortunes. He never thought of seeking repose; he was
more wakeful, more animated, more truly and vitally active,
except in the single respect of bodily motion, than he had ever
been before.

As he observed the morning to grow later, he suddenly resolved to
descend to the family sitting-room. Accordingly, he started up,
and, turning round to the table, first despatched his ablutions,
and achieved a brief toilet. He then turned slowly from the
chamber, and descended to the lower floor.

On his arrival at the family sitting-room, the first object that
met his view, on pushing open the door, was Evaline. She had
clearly heard his step; and whether she had recognised it as his,
or supposed it to be that of Hildebrand, a flush of pleasure
had mounted to her face, and her eyes glistened with eagerness.
But her agitation became less buoyant when her eye encountered
his. Perhaps, she remembered, with the native delicacy of her
character, that he had seen her accept the love and first caress
of Hildebrand, or she might be moved by his wan and afflictive
aspect; but, whatever might be the cause, her beaming cheeks
were suffused with a deep blush, and the soft swell of her bosom
increased to a heave. Don Rafaele, on first discerning her, was
not unmoved himself. He even started as he entered the chamber;
but when, on a second glance, he perceived the agitation of
Evaline, he seemed to recover himself, and passed in with a firm
step.

Evaline rose as he approached, and, though still deeply moved,
extended him her hand.

“I need not to ask of thy health, Senhor,” she said; “for I see,
by thy sad and heavy aspect, ’t is no way mended.”

“But slightly,” replied Don Rafaele, taking her hand, and
attempting to smile. “Yet it was not me, I am right sure, that
thou wast looking for but now.”

Evaline blushed even deeper than before.

“In sooth, now, ’t was not,” pursued Don Rafaele. “And wherefore
should it be, when, if I be not deluded, thou art so bound to
_him_?”

“I looked not for Captain Clifford just now,” faltered Evaline.
“He hath gone into the park for a while.”

“Thou lovest him well!” returned Don Rafaele. “Yet hadst thou
seen him, as I have, in the heat of action, daring peril,
displaying his prowess, and overcoming his foes, thou wouldst
love him even yet more.”

“Oh, no! I could not love him more!” cried Evaline, with
overpowering eagerness.

Don Rafaele made no reply for a moment.

“I have heard of maids,” he then said, “whose love did so
entirely sway them, that it hath led them into adventures
surpassing belief. So exceeding hath been their devotion, that I
have oft doubted, on pondering thereon, if it were indeed love,
and thought it might be madness.”

While he thus spoke, his tone grew so sad and mournful, as if in
sympathy for the infatuated beings he referred to, that Evaline
was moved to the soul.

“These maids loved indeed,” she said, with a deep sigh.

“Some of them followed their lovers unknown,” pursued Don
Rafaele; “and, for their sakes, did bear with great troubles,
with fatigues, watchings, dangers, and divers singular hardships.
An’ it be true that I have heard, there are no such maids now.”

Evaline sighed.

“But, to speak simple sooth, methinks I heard but fables,”
continued Don Rafaele; “and such maids have never been.”

“Oh, say not that, Senhor!” answered Evaline, earnestly. “Be
assured, though these maids certainly sustained marvellous
trials, the love of woman, which urged them thereto, was well
able to bear them up, and requite them for their misadventures.”

“To give up country, kindred, and fortune,” said Don Rafaele;
“and, in strange lands, encounter notable perils:--i’faith, ’tis
exceeding singular! Couldst thou do as much for _him_?”

Evaline made no reply.

“Thou couldst! thou couldst!” resumed Don Rafaele. “’Tis visible
on thy face! But, an’ I be not misled, I hear his step coming;
and I will leave you alone.”

“Nay, stay! stay, I beseech thee!” said Evaline, blushing, and,
at the same time, laying her hand gently on his arm.

Don Rafaele acquiesced, and, with a half-suppressed sigh, turned
to a contiguous chair, and sat down. The step which he had heard
approaching was really Hildebrand’s; and that cavalier, though
he had paused at the chamber-door, made his appearance the next
moment, and entered the chamber.

His first greeting was addressed to Evaline; but when that was
despatched, he saluted Don Rafaele also, and inquired anxiously
after his health. Though the young Spaniard, in his reply,
assured him that he ailed nothing, his looks lent no confirmation
to his words, and Hildebrand could not but regard him with the
liveliest solicitude. Before he could give expression to his
concern, however, they were joined by Sir Edgar; and, after a few
words more, the whole party sat down to breakfast.

Their meal was still in progress, when Adam Green, who was
waiting in attendance without, entered the chamber with a letter,
which he forthwith delivered to Hildebrand.

“A serving-man brought it hither, Sir,” he said, “and is now
waiting below.”

“Prithee, bid him tarry a while,” answered Hildebrand, accepting
the letter.

A glance at the superscription, which was written in a bold and
legible hand, informed him that it was from Sir Walter Raleigh;
and, impatient to know its purport, Hildebrand begged leave of
his friends, and tore it open. It ran thus:--

  “To my right trusty and singular good friend, Hildebrand
  Clifford, Esquire, at the house of my worshipful friend and
  neighbour, Sir Edgar de Neville, Knt., Lantwell, Devon, these:--

  “Worthy Master Clifford.--Thou art hereby required, in the face
  of love, and the fickle dame, Fortune, of whom thou art so
  excellently favoured, to come hither to me with all despatch, and
  take to thine old courses at sea. And herein thou wilt bear the
  commission of our most gracious and dread sovereign, the high and
  mighty princess, Elizabeth, by whom I have it in command, on
  mine allegiance, to call thee hither straightway.

  “I prithee commend me to fair Mistress de Neville, to my
  worshipful friend Sir Edgar, and, with no less heartiness, to the
  fair youth, Don Rafaele, whom it doth grievously afflict me to
  pronounce a Spaniard.

  “By the hand of my groom, Robert Wilmay, who hath it in charge to
  ride posthaste.

  “Given under my hand and seal, at my lodging of Durham House, in
  the Strand, this 16th day of February, in the year of our Lord
  God 1588.
                                                  “WALTER RALEIGH.”

Hildebrand smiled, though seemingly not with hilarity, as he
ceased reading the letter, and appeared to deliberate a moment
how he should disclose its contents to his friends. A brief
consideration served to resolve him, and, when his resolution
was once fixed, he entered on the delicate task without further
delay.

Both Sir Edgar and Evaline, having fully reckoned on his company
for the remainder of the month, received his communication with
great disappointment; and, though it was not remarked by any eye
but his, Evaline’s distress was particularly deep. Don Rafaele
alone seemed to hear of their departure with pleasure, though he
too, out of courtesy to their host, disguised his real feelings,
and affected to look forward to it with regret.

Hildebrand’s concern in the matter arose chiefly from an
apprehension that, besides injuring his connexion with Evaline,
his early departure would prevent his communicating with Bernard
Gray. He was resolved, however, though he did not expect that he
would succeed, to make another attempt to seek out and confer
with that person, and, if he could find him, even inform him
of his engagement with Evaline. But, before he could carry his
purpose into effect, it was necessary that he should first reply
to the letter of Sir Walter. With the view of despatching this at
once, he shortly desired leave of his friends; and retired to the
library, on the floor above where they were sitting, to set it
in progress. He had already determined to depart on the morrow;
and therefore, on proceeding to give Sir Walter a reply, he had
no question for consideration, but merely to state his purpose.
In a short space, he accomplished that object; and, having folded
and addressed his letter, hastened to give it to Sir Walter’s
messenger. That person, in spite of the urgent entreaties of Adam
Green, who had exhausted all his rhetoric in imploring him to
dismount and refresh himself, had remained mounted at the door,
and was ready to set out on the instant. Accordingly, directly
Hildebrand appeared, he took charge of the letter, and posted off.

Hildebrand watched him till he had gone out of sight, when, with
a quick step, he turned abruptly round, and passed towards the
walk that led to the Lantwell foot-path. Maintaining his quick
pace, he soon reached that locality, and thence directed his
steps to the lodging of Bernard Gray.

The distance was considerable, but, urged by impatience, he never
slackened his pace; and, in about half an hour, the “Angel”
alehouse, at which his journey was to end, rose to the view. A
slight knock on the door brought out the proprietress, and, to
his great satisfaction, he learned from that individual that
Bernard was at home.

Without further ado, he passed to Bernard’s chamber. As he opened
the chamber-door, Bernard, who was sitting within, caught a
glimpse of his figure, and sprang to meet him with unaffected
eagerness.

“I was meditating how I should seek thee,” he said, after their
first greetings had been despatched. “I have that to say will
make thee glad.”

“They be famous good tidings, then, Bernard,” answered
Hildebrand. “But before thou discoverest them, I must tell thee
wherefore I kept not my promise with thee, in the matter we
debated at our last meeting; and, therewithal, thank thee for thy
kindness to Mistress de Neville, whom I so commended to thy good
favour.”

“Spare the thanks, and deliver the matter,” returned Bernard.

“Were it but to have bid thee farewell, then, I would have seen
thee before I departed,” replied Hildebrand; “but the truth is, I
was kidnapped again.”

“Ah?” cried Bernard. “But I interrupt thee.”

“After I had left thee in the park,” pursued Hildebrand,
“somewhat held me abroad a space longer, and ’twas dark ere I
took me homewards. While I walked carelessly on, some one in my
rear, who had been dogging me unseen, struck me a blow with a
bludgeon, and I fell stunned to the earth.”

“’Twas Shedlock!” cried Bernard, starting up.

“Not himself, but two sturdy ruffians, whom he had hired,” said
Hildebrand, in continuation. “They had bound me when I regained
my senses; and were, I found, carrying me off. On clearing the
park, they made for the highway; and there, after a little time,
they came to an old farm-waggon; and in this they incontinently
bestowed me. One of them, who seemed the bolder of the two,
posted himself by me as a watch; and the other mounted the shaft,
and straight drove off.”

“Whither drove he?” inquired Bernard.

“We kept on all night,” answered Hildebrand; “and, while it was
yet dark in the morning, we came to Topsham. They drove direct to
the gaol; and, on their instigation, the keeper thereof took me
in charge. But I lay not long in a dungeon. After two or three
days, my right worthy friend and patron, Sir Walter Raleigh, of
whom I have heretofore rendered thee fair mention, came to take
me for a runaway from his plantation, and straight set me free.”

“This Shedlock is a foul villain,” said Bernard; “yet the Lord is
a jealous God, and thou must not avenge.”

“I am right glad thou think’st so,” returned Hildebrand.

“Wilt thou forgive him, then?” cried Bernard. “Nay, more! An’ I
give thee that will insure thee thy name, and restore thy sweet
mother’s honour, wilt thou suffer him, during the brief while he
has to live, to continue the holder of thy heritage, and thou be
only his heir?”

Hildebrand bit his lips, and was silent.

“Thou hesitatest!” observed Bernard. “Oh, how holy are the ways
of the Lord, who is able, of his own heavenly will, to make the
heart know its malice, and sweeten its thoughts with charity!
Blessed be the Lord, who hath had mercy on his servant!”

As he thus spoke, the eyes of the penitent, no longer gleaming
with enthusiasm, brimmed with tears, and turned gratefully
towards heaven. Hildebrand was moved.

“I consent, good Bernard,” he said, “and will even try to forgive
him. But how will my acquiescence herein prevail in the matter of
my succession?”

“I will tell thee,” answered Bernard.

And, without further preface, he proceeded, in a low but distinct
tone, to inform him of his recent interview with Dame Shedlock,
and of all the particulars which the dame had then disclosed
to him. Although, as his narrative progressed, Hildebrand was
frequently visibly affected by his words, he interposed no
remark, but heard him to an end without interruption. When he had
brought his communication to a close, however, he broke into a
passionate exclamation.

“I’faith, I owe thee a deep debt of thanks, good Bernard,” he
added, “and not in this matter only, but in respect to thy
service to Mistress de Neville. From all I have heard, I know
it was thee, more than my right worthy friend Sir Walter, that
finally set Sir Edgar at liberty. Prithee, how didst thou compass
it?”

“I had done some service to my Lord Treasurer,” replied Bernard,
“and I revealed to him the whole business. He threatened me at
first; but for my service sake, and because he had hushed all
inquiry, he let me go free.”

“Yet is he esteemed marvellous strict in matters of law,”
observed Hildebrand.

“And so is he,” answered Bernard. “When he had extended me
pardon, I told him the sad outlines of thy history; and, I
promise thee, he straight set the _Concealers_, who have been
very active of late, to inquire into Shedlock’s title to Clifford
Place.”

“How accountedst thou to him for Shedlock’s possession?” inquired
Hildebrand.

“With the true narration!” answered Bernard. “I told him that,
in the days of Popish Mary, Shedlock was thy father’s steward;
and that thy father and his house were of the church of God. Then
set I forth how Shedlock, like a second Judas, joined himself
with the persecutors; how he bargained with them for thy father’s
life; and how his treachery was requited with thy father’s land.
Further, I discovered to him, what he knew already, how our sweet
sovereign’s revival of the faith had made Shedlock repent, and
turned him into a Puritan.”

“Oh, Bernard, how can I ever requite thee?” cried Hildebrand,
seizing his hand, and grasping it earnestly. “Should we get the
land, ’twill be my first joy to see thee lord of it; and my
children, an’ I ever have any, shall hold thee as their father.”

“Wilt thou wed, then?” inquired Bernard, at the same time
looking steadfastly in his face.

“I fear to tell thee,” answered Hildebrand.

“No, no!” cried Bernard, shaking his head mournfully, “I will
avenge no more! The Lord hath visited his servant; and my heart,
which used to burn so, as if the memories of martyrdoms were
themselves fires, hath won the refreshing savour of peace. Thou
shalt have her!”

“Who?” cried Hildebrand. “Evaline de Neville?”

“Even so,” answered Bernard.

Hildebrand was silent for a brief space. His joy arrested his
speech; for in Bernard’s assent to his marriage with Evaline, he
conceived that the greatest obstacle to their union, even at an
early period, was now removed. Yet, at that very moment, events
were in progress, in the hidden course of Providence, which were
to render all his hopes a perfect mockery.

When he was sufficiently composed to speak, he failed not to
reveal to Bernard, without disguise or reservation, all that was
passing in his heart. Bernard entered into his every sympathy;
and thus, though they were only speculating on the future, the
time passed in the liveliest intercourse, till Hildebrand rose to
depart.

So much time had been occupied in replying to Sir Walter
Raleigh’s letter, and walking to Lantwell, that it was past noon
when he had arrived at Bernard’s lodging, and, the season being
winter, it was now quite dark. He still hoped, however, to arrive
at the Grange while the night was early; and having taken leave
of Bernard, he set out with more than his average speed, and bent
his steps straight homewards.

Though he had just heard so much to exhilarate him, he was not,
on the whole, free from melancholy. As he began to calculate
with more confidence on ultimately winning Evaline, his
thoughts would, in spite of himself, turn to other images,
and involuntarily remind him of Donna Inez. Had he nothing to
reproach himself with in his acquaintance with that lady? On
putting the question to his conscience, he sought, though almost
without his own perception, to evade it, and to laugh at the
compunctious qualms which it excited. What cavalier of the age
would treat such a gallantry seriously but himself? Regarded in
its very worst light, it was no more than a momentary peccadillo;
and Inez, no doubt, had by this time quite forgotten it herself,
and him also.

Such was the conclusion he came to as he stepped hastily into
Lantwell churchyard. The night was yet early; but all around, as
far as the ear could reach, was still as death, and, though it
was cold, the frosty air scarcely stirred. The moon, which was
in its first quarter, and had been up for some time, was behind
a cloud at the moment, but the darkness was not dense; and, as
he passed along, he could plainly distinguish the white tops of
the several grave-posts, scattered here and there over the area.
A few rapid strides brought him abreast of the church vestry, in
front of which, in the angle between it and the transept, was the
grave of his parents. Full of filial feelings, he was about to
turn a glance on that quarter, when a low, broken sound, like a
half-suppressed sob, broke on his ear. The sound came from his
parental grave, and, though not without some trepidation, he
hastily turned his eyes thitherwards.

The figure of a female was standing by the grave-post, with her
back towards him, arrayed in deep black. As Hildebrand observed
it, a feeling of awe, which the superstitions prevalent among
mariners were well calculated to induce, rose in his bosom; and
something whispered him, in a tone that thrilled through his
soul, that the figure was the spirit of his mother.

Would his mother appear to him in enmity? Would she who had
given him birth--who, during her life, had nursed and cherished
and sustained him, and who could no longer be influenced by any
earthly passion, burst the iron laws of nature to injure her
only son? Surely, not! Yet his heart, which had been unmoved by
the roar of hostile cannon, and had braved death in a hundred
dreadful shapes, ran cold with horror; his hair rose on end; and
his lips quivered so excessively that he could hardly bring them
to pronounce, in an intelligible and distinct tone, that terrible
and resistless name, which both the quick and the dead must obey.

A cold perspiration broke through his skin, as he observed that
his exclamation, though indistinctly uttered, had been heard by
the mysterious figure, and caused her to turn round. At the same
moment, the moon, bursting from the cloud which had obscured it,
poured forth its full light, and disclosed to him, in the pale
face of the woman, not the scarcely-remembered features of his
mother--but those of Donna Inez!

A dimness came over his eyes at this discovery; and the chill
of horror that crted over his brain, like a rush of cold blood,
fairly made him reel. But, by a desperate effort, he got the
mastery of his weakness; and his eyes, again effective, turned on
the grave once more. The figure had disappeared!

Was it an illusion? Had he, for all the testimony of his senses,
been the sport of a mere imagination, and really seen nothing?
With a beating heart, he turned his head hastily on either side,
and glanced over his shoulders. No! The phantom--if such it
were--had disappeared, and there was no trace of it to be seen.

A load was raised from his heart as he acquired this assurance.
Nevertheless, it was with a heaving bosom, and an unsteady and
hasty step, far different from his usual bearing, that he set
forward, and once more bent his way homeward.

He paused when he had passed out of the churchyard, and, with
unabated awe, again turned a glance around. Nothing but the white
grave-posts was visible; and he resumed his progress.

A flood of bitterness opened on his heart as he pursued his
way. He felt that, though it had appeared so substantially
and distinctly to his eye, what he had seen was no more than
imaginary; and was the natural effect of that previous meditation
on Inez, which, notwithstanding that he could have no expectation
of ever seeing her again, he had been so simple as to indulge
in. He felt angry with himself, too, that he should allow so
slight a matter to root itself in his memory--that his feelings
should be so childishly tender, and his conscience so egregiously
scrupulous, in the full vigour and thoughtless era of youth, as
to make him writhe under the remembrance of a brief gallantry.
Inez, no doubt, had by this time forgotten it herself. To dwell
seriously on what he fancied he had seen would be absurd; and
would, if it should ever be known, expose him to the constant
ridicule and contempt of all his acquaintance.

And did these conclusions really compose him? Was he, in his
heart, satisfied with the crafty and specious sophistry in which
he had taken refuge? Oh, no! He roused himself into a temporary
stubbornness of spirit; he lashed himself into a constrained
levity; but every now and then, when his self-upbraidings seemed
to be sinking into silence, the sting of conscience still pushed
itself in, and made his heart start again.

But, for all this, when he arrived at the Grange, his excitement
had driven from his aspect all trace of melancholy, and, far from
looking depressed, he appeared to be in good spirits. Evaline
and Sir Edgar received him joyfully. Don Rafaele, who would
doubtless have viewed his return with equal pleasure, was not
in the sitting-room when he entered, and nearly an hour elapsed
before he did make his appearance. Then, however, though he
looked somewhat flurried, he seemed to be in good spirits, and
joined in the pending conversation with unwonted promptitude.

But though that conversation was animated, and never once
flagged, it was easy, on observing them closely, to see that
two, at least, of the party were far from being at their ease.
Though they affected to be the gayest of the gay, both Evaline
and Hildebrand, in reality, were stirred more by excitement, than
a healthy animation; and, in their eager participation of the
passing discourse, they were not seeking to amuse others, but
to run away from themselves. Neither Sir Edgar nor Don Rafaele,
however, as far as could be seen, noticed their uneasiness; and
the evening passed off tranquilly.

The next morning found them all early at the breakfast-table.
The horses, which were to convey Hildebrand and Don Rafaele to
London, with a hired groom, whom Hildebrand had brought with him,
were ready at the hall-door; and it remained only to despatch
breakfast, and to part.

They ate their meal almost in silence. Even Don Rafaele, as
the moment of departure drew nigh, quite lost his flow of
spirits, and looked sad and dejected. Sir Edgar said hardly a
word; and Evaline, who had passed the night in mourning, and in
apprehending all manner of unhappiness, was almost heart-broken.

The moment of departure arrived, at last. Don Rafaele, with a
mournful brow, shook hands with Sir Edgar and Evaline, and turned
to the door. Hildebrand could linger no longer; and accordingly,
with a forced smile, he caught up Sir Edgar’s hand, and bade
him farewell. The smile was still on his lips when he turned to
Evaline. She, too, was smiling, though her eyes were filled with
tears.

“God ever have thee in ward!” said Hildebrand, in a low voice, at
the same time gently pressing her small hand.

Dropping her hand, he turned to the door, and passed into the
passage beyond. Sir Edgar, determined to see the last of him,
sprang after him, and followed him to the hall.

Evaline was alone. Her tears, which she had restrained hitherto,
but which had already mounted to her eyes, would be checked no
longer, and, as her father left her to herself, they burst forth
in a torrent.

Her heart’s hope was gone; and it was as if her heart itself,
by which she lived and moved, had also gone. She felt all that
anguish which, in the overflow of an ardent temperament, has
been so pathetically described by Bishop Heber:--

    “How bitter, bitter is the smart
    Of them that bid ’farewell!’”

Nevertheless, as she heard Sir Edgar returning, she endeavoured,
and not in vain, to assume an appearance of composure. But though
she was able to conceal her emotion, she was still, in her heart,
far from being composed. Sir Edgar, on his entry, even noticed
that she was greatly dejected, but he had no suspicion that her
grief was so rooted; but rather thought, from the character of
his own feelings, that it was but the temporary depression which
the parting from an esteemed friend would naturally occasion, and
which a few short hours would wear away.

But time only served to confirm the sadness of Evaline. Her
accustomed fortitude, which had borne her up under visitations
more trying, failed her now, and left her to struggle with her
thoughts unaided. It might be the effect of a restless night, or
it might be solely the impression of her parting from Hildebrand,
but, whencesoever it arose, a thrilling but undefined fear, like
a presentiment of some coming ill, had fixed and rooted itself in
her mind. As the night drew on, she became even more depressed;
and Sir Edgar, who had latterly regarded her more closely,
began to view her melancholy with seriousness. Before he could
take any measures to soothe her, however, a hasty step without,
approaching the door, induced him to pause. The next moment, the
door opened, and both he and Evaline started up in surprise. The
person who entered was Don Felix di Corva.



CHAPTER IV.


After all, employment, next to a clear conscience, is the best
antidote to a brown-study. Hildebrand, it is true, did not
possess the one, but he was soon to forget his uneasiness in
the bustle of the other. On his arrival in London, he proceeded
straight to the residence of Sir Walter Raleigh, in the Strand;
and there, to his great contentment, found a sphere opened
to him, which promised to leave him little opportunity for
melancholy.

Sir Walter received both him and Don Rafaele with the utmost
warmth and eagerness. Their greetings being despatched, he
acquainted Hildebrand, in a few words, with the object and nature
of the service in which he was to be employed. From what he said,
Hildebrand learned that these particulars were yet secret, but
that it was understood, among the few who were informed on such
matters, that he would be directed to sail immediately for the
coast of Spain, and collect information relative to the expected
armada. He told him, further, that he would sail with the Queen’s
commission, in his own ship, which had been taken up by the
Government for the public service, and was now perfectly ready to
put to sea.

“And now that I have told thee all,” he concluded, “let us
straight to horse, and ride off to Deptford, to my Lord Admiral.
I know he waits us with some impatience.”

“We will to him out of hand, then,” answered Hildebrand. “Don
Rafaele will wait our return here.”

The personage referred to, understanding what was said, at once
agreed to the proposal, and the two friends thereupon prepared to
set forth. Their horses were soon ready; and, taking leave of Don
Rafaele, who followed them to the door, and waited to see them
depart, they quickly mounted, and set forward for Deptford.

Hitherto Hildebrand had seen little preparation against the
formidable armada of which he had brought the first intimation
to England, and which threatened not only the independence, but
the religion, and even the very existence of the empire. On
his way through the city, however, nothing was to be seen but
martial costumes, and warlike provisions. The staid citizens,
who had never known any parade but Sir Thomas Gresham’s new
“Bourse,” bore themselves like soldiers, and looked fresh from
the drill-ground; and even the ’prentices walked erect, and
aspired to look like Cæsars. Cutlers’ marts seemed to be the
popular places of resort; and the lucky shop that, among other
weapons, could exhibit to public view one of the clumsy firelocks
then in use, and which are to this day called after the reigning
sovereign, by the name of “Brown Bess,” was more frequented than
the Paris Garden. London-bridge and the Borough looked no less
alive to the crisis; and beyond, in St. George’s-fields, and
through the whole line of road to Deptford, were seen companies
of recruits, arrayed in the most motley habits, undergoing the
initiatory and vexatious process of drill.

But it was at Deptford, the principal depôt of the marine,
that the greatest preparations against the expected invasion
were in progress. Here were clearly at work the master-spirits
of the age. Artificers, engineers, officers, mariners, and
labourers were seen engaged in their various departments with the
regularity of machines. The burring of furnaces, the ringing of
anvils, the rattling of hammers, and the hilloing of sailors,
as cannon were cast, balls moulded, and ships laid down or
re-rigged, created so loud and confused a din, that sounds could
hardly be distinguished, and the voice could only be heard when
raised to its highest pitch.

Pushing past various groups of officers and mariners, Sir Walter
and Hildebrand proceeded straight to the office of the Lord
Admiral, Lord Howard of Effingham, in the chief dock-yard. On
sending that officer his name, Sir Walter was ordered to be
admitted; and under the guidance of the porter, he repaired,
together with Hildebrand, to the Admiral’s presence.

There were two personages in the room to which they were
conducted. One of them, who was no other than the Lord Admiral,
was an elderly man, of rather tall stature, and a grave, but
commanding presence. The other was little beyond the middle
age; and but for his laced jerkin, which spoke him an officer,
would hardly have been looked upon as a gentleman. Although,
however, his stature was mean, and his manners far from graceful,
there was a certain touch of daring in his face, especially
in his eye, that quickly won him attention, and even gave him
a look of authority. His features, moreover, were so familiar
to Englishmen, from the respect which was paid to them by the
sign-boards of taverns, and other places of resort, that they
required no beauty to recommend them to notice, but commanded
admiration by their very plainness. He was Sir Francis Drake.

The two admirals rose as Sir Walter entered, and extended their
hands to welcome him.

“My Lord Admiral, how is it with you?” cried Sir Walter, taking
his proffered hand. “Sir Francis,” he added, as he extended that
personage his other hand, “give thee the fair time of day!”

“Fair time enough, Sir Walter,” replied Drake. “’Tis but little
past six bells.”

“Sir Walter wishes thee a fair day,” said the Lord Admiral, in
explanation of Sir Walter’s greeting.

“Marry, come up, but methought he spoke to the clock!” cried
Drake. “Howsomever, the day is a fair one, though it blows
marvellous slack. I’ve seen windier days.”

“Ay, ay, doubtless,” observed Sir Walter, laughing. “But, my Lord
Admiral,” he continued, turning to that officer, “I have brought
thee the captain of the ‘Eliza,’ who was so heartily preferred to
thy favour by her Highness.”

Here Hildebrand, who had hitherto remained at the door, stepped
somewhat forward, and prepared to pay the Lord Admiral his
respects. Before he could effect his purpose, however, he was
arrested by Drake, who, springing forward, came between him and
the Lord Admiral, and caught him by the hand.

“Harkye, in your ear, tip us thy grappling-iron!” he cried. “Blow
me taught, but thou’rt a fair-weather fellow, too, to overhaul
the Don’s shiners! Harkye, in your ear, we’ll have a jorum of
liquor anon, at the ‘Three Jolly Mariners,’ in the town yonder.”

“I am marvellous grieved to stop good entertainment,” cried the
Lord Admiral, laughing; “but worthy Master Clifford (methinks, I
have his name right) must even to sea straight.”

“Though I would fain have spent an hour with good Sir Francis, my
Lord, I am ready to set forth incontinently,” smiled Hildebrand.

“Marry, and splice my timbers, well spoken!” exclaimed Drake.
“Harkye, in your ear, I be moored at ‘The Three Jolly Mariners;’
and, sink me, but better liquor can be had nowhere!”

“I’faith, I will speak it fair,” cried Sir Walter Raleigh, “by
the same token that your worship once nigh choked me with a cup
on’t, which did cause my Lady Nottingham, and divers other ladies
of note, to laugh right heartily. But my Lord Admiral grows
impatient.”

“The matter is urgent,” replied the Lord Admiral. “Captain
Clifford,” he added to Hildebrand, “canst thou away to-night?”

“I fear me, no, my Lord,” answered Hildebrand; “for I have not
yet been aboard.”

“Oh, all is ready aboard,” returned the Admiral. “Further, thy
ship lies off the dock here, and can away at once.”

“Some time to-night, then, my Lord, we will go!” answered
Hildebrand.

“You will find your orders aboard, not to be opened till you are
off the Start,” said the Lord Admiral. “And now, not to detain
thee longer, when thou hast so little time, give thee farewell,
and God speed thee!”

He extended his hand as he spoke, and Hildebrand, with a
profound bow, caught it up, and clasped it earnestly. He next
bade farewell to Sir Francis Drake, who, as he clasped his hand,
implored him, “in his ear,” but in a very loud voice, to remember
the sign of “The Three Jolly Mariners,” and to be sure to “bear
up” thither on his return. Hildebrand promised compliance, as
did Sir Walter Raleigh also; and he and Hildebrand, without more
words, then departed.

Although Hildebrand had expressed his readiness to leave England
immediately, he was not so fully prepared, in regard to his
personal affairs, as he at first conceived. However he might
manage respecting himself, he could not so easily resolve how
to dispose of Don Rafaele. It would be impossible, he felt, to
take that person with him, as the enterprise he was about to
embark in would doubtless be attended with great peril; and to
leave him in England, where he was unknown, and where his youth
and inexperience would have no protector, was almost equally
repugnant to him. Unable to determine how he should act in the
matter, he disclosed his embarrassing position to Sir Walter; and
asked that cavalier, to whose opinion he invariably deferred, for
his counsel thereon.

“Prithee, let it give thee no concern, good Clifford,” answered
Sir Walter. “He shall take up his abode with me; and, I promise
thee, in case thou incur any mishap, he shall find in me a warm
and hearty friend.”

“That I am right sure of,” rejoined Hildebrand, “and heartily
thank thee withal. But let us to the ship.”

“Nay, we will send thither my groom,” said Sir Walter, “to
notify to Master Halyard, whom the Lord Admiral has retained as
thy lieutenant, that thou wilt be aboard at eventide. We will
straight to town.”

Hildebrand acquiesced in this arrangement; and it was,
accordingly, on their arrival at the dock-yard gate, carried
into execution. When the groom had been despatched to Master
Halyard, Sir Walter and Hildebrand, without further delay,
mounted their horses, and set out for town.

On reaching Durham House, they were hailed with eagerness by Don
Rafaele, who inquired as curiously after the news, especially
in the matter which had taken them forth, as though he were an
Englishman.

“The news is, that I am straightway to take to the seas again, my
fair Rafaele,” answered Hildebrand. “But be not thou discomposed
thereat. Our right noble friend, Sir Walter here, will stand to
thee in my stead, and provide thee a homestead ashore.”

Don Rafaele changed colour.

“I’faith, he likes not me for a host so well as thou,” cried Sir
Walter, laughing. “I entreat thee, fair Senhor, look not on me
with disfavour. By my lady’s hand, thou shalt find me a right
faithful friend.”

Don Rafaele, whether he credited Sir Walter’s protestation, or
not, turned his head aside, and made no reply. That he was moved,
however, and even deeply, was apparent; for his broad chest
heaved again, and his face retained no trace of colour.

“Nay, nay, be not downcast, Rafaele!” cried Hildebrand, yet in a
voice far from cheering. “By my soul, the only grief that I know
in this matter is, that I shall leave thee behind.”

“Then, wherefore not take me with thee?” asked Don Rafaele, in a
tone of reproach.

“That were not reasonable,” answered Hildebrand. “I go on a
mission of singular and exceeding peril.”

“Peril?” echoed Don Rafaele, raising his eyes, which, to
his surprise, Hildebrand now perceived were dashed with
tears:--“Peril, saidst thou? We had peril, methinks, on our way
hither--ay, and singular and exceeding peril, too. Did I make any
plaint thereat? Did I--did I shrink?”

“By my faith, no!” exclaimed Hildebrand.

“I would be surety for thee, that thy valour is above question,”
cried Sir Walter.

“Thanks, thanks, noble Sir!” said Don Rafaele. “I hold thy hearty
assurances right welcome; yet is thy face, for all that, not
familiar to me as Master Clifford’s. I beseech thee, forget not
I am in a strange land, where I have no kindred. Remember thee,
furthermore, how notably young I am; and I was reared right
tenderly, I dare affirm. Prithee, then, let me with thee!”

“I’faith, I can refuse thee no further, my Rafaele,” cried
Hildebrand; “and only for the hazard to thyself, I were right
content to have thy fair company. We will even fix it so.”

Don Rafaele was overjoyed at this answer. At Hildebrand’s
suggestion, he immediately proceeded, with more cheerfulness than
one might have looked for, to prepare himself for their meditated
voyage. His preparations were soon completed; but those of
Hildebrand, which were of a more varied character, and not so
much at command, occupied a longer time. They, too, however,
were quite accomplished before the evening, and everything was
arranged for their instant departure.

It was with evident discomposure that they achieved the final
step of taking leave of Sir Walter. That cavalier, indeed, would
have accompanied them to the ship; but as he would have to come
back alone, and the night promised to be a dirty one, they
would by no means suffer him to do so. Having, after manifold
hesitating pauses, ultimately resolved to depart, they took leave
of him at the door, and set forward for Deptford by themselves.

It was growing late by the time they arrived at the tavern where
they were to leave their horses. Thence they walked to Deptford
Creek, where Hildebrand’s message to Halyard, conveyed by the
groom in the morning, had directed him to provide them a boat.
Their luggage, which, as the greater part of their personal
effects had never been removed from the ship, consisted of only
two boxes, was, by the alertness of their groom, brought down
with them by two porters, and thus they had no care but to
transport themselves to the ship.

As they expected, they found a boat, manned by a picked crew,
waiting at the creek for their reception. Amidst a loud hurrah,
which made their hearts spring again, they took their seats in
the stern; their luggage was safely bestowed in the midships; and
they shoved off for the cruizer.

She was lying but a little way out, with just water enough at low
tide, which was now turning, to keep her afloat. Everything was
arranged for her captain’s reception; and Master Halyard himself,
with Tom Tarpaulin, now towering in the elevated quality of
mate, were seen in the gangway, keeping a look-out. As the
anxiously expected boat began to be distinguished, the merry
whistle of the boatswain, which the prevailing stillness rendered
audible at a good distance, was heard piping to quarters; the
seamen were seen scrambling up the rigging, manning the yards;
and a picked squad, under the orders of Master Halyard, fell
in file at the gangway, ready to receive their captain on his
arrival. Loud and renewed cheers broke from the crew, as, with
his head uncovered, in compliment to the national flag, which
was flying aloft, Hildebrand stepped on to the deck. As he did
so, Master Halyard, who also was uncovered, presented him with
a sealed packet, stamped with the royal arms. Advancing to a
contiguous light, Hildebrand tore the packet open; and found
within, in two separate envelopes, his sealed orders, and the
Queen’s commission. He immediately ordered the crew to be piped
to the quarter-deck, and there, in their presence, read his
commission aloud. This done, he proceeded to set his ship on her
way.

The wind, though somewhat light, was favourable; and as the
tide turned, and the ship was cast off from her buoy, the sails
soon spread out, and carried her on gallantly. It was morning,
however, before she cleared the river, and three days had
elapsed when she came off the Start. There, agreeably to the
Lord Admiral’s injunction, Hildebrand opened the packet which
contained his orders. By these he was directed, in the first
place, to sail for the Mediterranean, and endeavour to ascertain
the precise force and organization of the Spanish Armada. Should
he be unable to ascertain this information in that quarter, he
was to exercise his own judgment, though circumspectly, as to
where else he should seek it; but, at any hazard, he was to leave
nothing undone that could lead to its acquisition.

He sailed for the Mediterranean direct. The wind, however,
occasionally varied, and, after he had cleared the channel, was
not decidedly in his favour the whole voyage. Upwards of three
weeks elapsed, therefore, before he arrived at the Straits. There
the wind took a turn, and carried him on, with occasional lulls,
till he came in sight of Cape de Gatte. What wind ever doubled
that point? As the good ship “Eliza,” with her crew full of
hope, expecting to sustain no impediment, made it her landmark,
the wind suddenly lulled, and left them off the eternal Cape
becalmed. There they lay for three whole weeks, broiling in the
sun, and rolling in sickening agitation on the long, swollen sea.

But the wind came, at last--a scorching sirocco. Away scudded the
ship, like a water-witch, and, in a fortnight’s time, arrived off
the Bay of Naples. Mounting the Danish flag, Hildebrand ventured,
though against the advice of Master Halyard, to enter the bay,
and there come to an anchor. But though it was one of the chief
ports of the Spanish empire, he saw nothing in the bay, as far
as his observation could push itself, in the shape of warlike
preparation. After several days’ interval, finding that he was
not noticed by the authorities, and, furthermore, that he could
gain no information without some greater risk, he determined to
hazard a visit to the shore, and seek for information among the
disaffected natives. Accordingly, one night, when it came on
very dark, he manned his boat with a picked crew, and set out
for a neighbouring fishing village. He found the inhabitants
more favourable to his design than he had even expected. Without
incurring much risk, he learned, in answer to his inquiries, that
the Neapolitan division of the armada had sailed for Lisbon,
and that the Tagus was to be the rendezvous of the whole force.
Satisfied that he could learn nothing further, he instantly
returned to his ship; and resolved, if possible, to slip out
of the harbour, and take a cruize off the Tagus. The night was
dark; the wind was as fair as could be wished; and the proverbial
indolence of the Spanish authorities, which no emergency could
induce them to discard, made him hopeful that he would be able
to get away unmolested. His expectations were realised, and he
cleared the harbour without difficulty.

When he had gained the open sea, the wind carried him on very
steadily, and at more than an average speed, till he came off the
everlasting Cape, when, of course, it dropped. After the usual
interval of three weeks, however, it returned, and bore him on
to the Straits. Thence he had a fair passage to the north of
Portugal.

The Bay of Biscay is by no means a pleasant district for a
cruizer; and after pitching about there for two whole days, in
the hope of picking up some venturous fisherman, and finally
despairing of such a result, Hildebrand made the bold resolution
of entering the Tagus. With the knowledge that there was
collected there an armada pronounced invincible, which had been
equipped for the purpose of subjugating his country, and effacing
its name from the map of nations--with a perfect conviction that,
if detected, escape, through hosts of foes, and in the face of
a hundred batteries, would be an utter impossibility--sensible
that a mere suspicion of his being an Englishman would lead to
his immediate execution as a spy--this intrepid and fearless man,
without one qualm of hesitation, without one apprehension of
the result, turned his ship about, and steered straight for the
Tagus.



CHAPTER V.


It was near midnight when the English cruizer, with the wind in
her stern, approached the mouth of the noble Tagus. A bar of
sand, which renders the navigation dangerous at low water, runs
across the mouth; and the island-fort of Belem, which divides
the stream into two channels, stands in its centre. It was on
the eastern side of the fort that Hildebrand steered his ship;
and he hoped, though it was not very dark, that she would pass
unobserved. Whether she was observed by any of the sentries, or
not, or whether, being observed, she was supposed to be a ship
of the king’s, and so not looked after, it is impossible to say;
but such was the remissness of the sluggish Spaniards that she
was allowed to pass unquestioned. Having cleared the fort, she
kept her way straight on to Lisbon, which was about ten miles
farther. Hildebrand remained on deck the whole time, as did
Master Halyard also; but Don Rafaele, at their suggestion, betook
himself to the cabin, and there retired to rest. When he arose
in the morning, the ship had come to an anchor. On mounting to
the deck, he saw the old city, which stood on the opposite shore
to the present one, stretched out before him, about a quarter
of a mile distant. The fair bay in its front, which had hardly
opened where he stood, was crowded with tall ships, of dimensions
greater than any he had ever seen, and so closely packed withal,
that he no longer feared that the solitary English ship would
attract notice. It was as animated a scene as one could wish to
behold. There was the old city, with its black monasteries, its
prison-like convents, its towering churches, and its close-packed
streets, all sloping up from the water, as distinctly displayed
as in a map. Then came the forest of men-of-war, each a floating
castle, and populous as a city. The wide, bright river, as far
as the eye could penetrate, was ploughed by vessels of every
order--ships, gun-boats, and galleys, all bearing down towards
the city, and destined to join the tremendous armada. On the
opposite shore, where stands the present city, rose a chain of
verdant hills, stretching far beyond the site of the modern
palace of Necessidades, which now crowns one of them. The hills
were green to the water’s edge, and, here and there, were topped
with smiling white windmills, or, rather, wine-presses, which,
sparkling in the sun, made the verdure of the hills even more
apparent. Over all, and high above all, was spread the soft, blue
sky, free from the least speck, and making the river look azure
from mere reflection.

Don Rafaele was still surveying the scene, when he felt a
hand, the touch of which he seemed to recognise directly, laid
gently on his shoulder. With a glad smile, he turned round, and
perceived Hildebrand.

“’Tis a fair scene,” remarked that person, gaily, “yet thou
wouldst hardly think, from our placid appearance, that we stand
on the very threshold of almost certain destruction. By my faith,
’tis nearer even than I looked for. Ho, there! aft! Hoist the
Danish flag half-mast high!”

His order was obeyed on the instant; and the crew now, for the
first time, observed that the flag of each ship of the armada
hung in the same way. Who was dead they could not conjecture; but
that it was an officer of the highest rank, if not a member of
the royal family, they did not doubt, as the national flag would
not be thus degraded but for some great public personage.

Notwithstanding that a general apprehension prevailed among
the crew that they would shortly be overhauled by the Spanish
officials, they now thought of nothing, in their conversation
with each other, but the new topic for conjecture, and exhausted
speculation as to which of the Dons had become defunct. Their
interest in the matter was increased towards evening, when
Hildebrand, who had been below all day, making up his log,
appeared again on the deck, and displayed on his slouched hat
the mournful memorial of a black band. As he stepped on to the
quarter-deck, he was joined by Don Rafaele, who, previous to his
appearance, had been pacing the poop, but had no sooner discerned
him in the hatchway, than he hurried to his side.

“Urge me no further, fair Rafaele,” said Hildebrand, before Don
Rafaele could speak to him. “’Twere running thee into a needless
peril, and would impede me grievously.”

“’Tis because, by my aspect and port, I would be a great aid to
thee, making thee pass more reasonably for a Spaniard, that I
seek to attend thee,” said Don Rafaele.

“I’faith, that might be,” answered Hildebrand; “yet not even to
make mine own risk less, will I bring hazard on thee.”

“I see, thou art resolved to gainsay me, Senhor,” returned Don
Rafaele. “I fear me, thou beginn’st to regard me troublesome.”

“Art in earnest, Rafaele?” asked Hildebrand, taking up his hand.
“Know’st thou not that certain death, without an instant’s
respite, will follow our detection? Thou art resolved! Then, will
I refuse thee no further. Get thee a black band, and, when the
night falls, we will off.”

It was now evening, but, though cloudy, it was yet quite light.
The brightness of the scene, however, had passed away, and the
night threatened to be a rough one. The wind increased every
moment, and the noble river, which had lately looked so placid,
was lashed into high waves, topped with foam, and raging like
breakers. After a little time, it began to rain, first like
sleet, and then in torrents. Moreover, the night, though it
was the summer season, set in early, and it was quite dark by
nine o’clock. Shortly after that hour, a small boat, scarcely
larger than a punt, was manned by two seamen, and lowered from
the stern of the English ship. Some doubt existed whether, to
use a nautical term, it would “live” on the agitated water;
but so adroitly did its two navigators bestow themselves, in
anticipation of a mishap, that it maintained its equilibrium,
and rode the waves gallantly. Still it was not without some
difficulty that it was skulled round to the gangway. Hildebrand
and Don Rafaele, muffled in long cloaks, which both the weather
and their expedition required, and with their heads well
protected by their slouched hats, there waited its approach.
When it came alongside, Hildebrand, seizing a firm hold of the
side-rope, lowered himself cautiously into its centre, and then
helped Don Rafaele to descend. After that person had reached the
boat, they both took their places in the stern, and the boat
shoved off.

The storm now raged furiously, and it was only by the greatest
efforts, aided by long experience, and unshaken intrepidity,
that the navigators of the boat could shoot clear of the ship.
When they did clear her, their danger was even augmented, and
the wind, being no longer intercepted by the ship, threatened
to capsize their frail bark every moment. The water roared
again; and, withal, shot up in such high waves, boiling with
spray, that they were almost blinded. To add to the terrors of
their situation, the rain still descended in torrents; and the
darkness, which had all along been excessive, seemed even to
increase, and, like that of Egypt, could almost be felt. Nothing
could be seen on the water as far as the eye could extend, but
streaks of white foam; and on the shore, only a few lights were
visible, now and then, like twinkling stars. Occasionally the
boat almost whirled round. It required all Hildebrand’s strength,
which was no little, to maintain his hold of the rudder, and even
then the boat scarcely answered it. The waves beat under her as
if they would knock in her bottom; and its inmates frequently
bounced up in their seats, in spite of their utmost resistance,
with the violence of the shock. Moreover, the wind blew right in
their teeth, and, as they struggled forward, they shipped water
every moment. Though the city, judging from the aforementioned
lights, was little more than a quarter of a mile distant, it
seemed impossible that they could ever reach it, and absolute
madness to pursue the attempt. Indeed, they expected, almost
with certainty, that they would be swamped by each wave. Still
the bold man who held the helm retained his firmness; his iron
nerves, as if they were strung for the occasion, never once
flinched; and he seemed to dare peril, and defy the storm.

The boat pushed on; now shooting up the curl of a long, whistling
wave; then, with reckless violence, dashing into the gaping
trough below, which appeared to yawn even more under its bottom,
and to let it sink yet deeper and deeper. Then the rain, and
the wind, and the dashing spray, all blended together, beat
down in it from above, and the little boat groaned again. How
human beings could move through such horrors, where death was
in every object, and retain their presence of mind, was truly
amazing. Yet Hildebrand maintained his place at the rudder; and
the two hardy seamen, though keenly alive to their situation,
and fully expecting that every successive wave would swamp or
overturn the boat, held on at their oars. Still they made but
little progress; for, owing to the excessive agitation of the
water, their oars, though so skilfully and adroitly worked, did
not always dip, and, even when they did, the violence of the
storm half counteracted the impulse. Nor was it by the tempest
alone that all their terror was inspired. As they progressed,
their ears were saluted by heart-rending shrieks; and thundering
noises, like the clashing together of some immense bodies,
and which they rightly conjectured to be collisions among the
closely-packed shipping, silenced even the roar of the elements.
Then a sharp, rushing sound broke on the ear; and the black hulls
of two gigantic vessels, looking like the spirits of the storm,
flew past together, amidst a terrible chorus of mortal shrieks.

The terrors of death hung around the cruizer’s little boat;
but its fearless captain, however he might be moved inwardly,
appeared to be still undaunted.

“Now, cheerily, my lads! cheerily!” he cried, to the two rowers,
at this appalling juncture. “The lights are close at hand: three
strokes more, and ye have the beach.”

But, strive as the rowers might, the oars would not dip: the
long, curling waters troughed under the boat more deeply than
ever: then a roaring wave, curling higher and higher as it came
on, caught it under the stern, and shot it high on the shore.

The boat capsized as the wave receded; but fortunately, having
foreseen what would be its effect, the two seamen had leaped out
as she grounded, and so were able to prevent her being swamped.
As they held on to the boat, Hildebrand also was about to leap
out, when, turning to help up Don Rafaele, he perceived that that
person had fallen into a swoon. There was no time to hesitate,
and, quick as thought, he caught him up in his arms, and stepped
with him on to the shore.

While the men were hauling the boat up on the beach, so as to
place it beyond the influence of the waves, Hildebrand sought,
by chafing his cold temples, to revive Don Rafaele. Whether from
this cause, or because he had been insensible for some time,
and the paroxysm was exhausted, Don Rafaele recovered almost
directly, and, with a low, deep sigh, opened his eyes.

“Where are we?” he cried: “_still?_ not whirling round? Oh! my
heart will burst!”

“We are safe now, my fair Rafaele,” answered Hildebrand.
“Here”--he added, drawing from under his cloak a small flask, and
holding it to his lips,--“take thee a taste of this.”

Don Rafaele tasted of the contents of the flask; but the spirit,
in its raw state, was too powerful for him, and he could not take
above a mouthful. Even that, however, had a reviving effect upon
him, and, as he withdrew his lips from the flask, he smiled, and
looked quite composed again.

Hildebrand took a good draught from the flask. By the time that
he had thus refreshed himself, the two seamen, having secured the
boat, came up with him.

“My lads,” said Hildebrand, handing them the flask, “here is that
will keep this pelting rain out of your jackets. Now, hold ye a
good watch on the boat! Pray God the wind lull, or we shall never
find the ship!”

“We shall never find the ship to-night, your honour,” said one of
the sailors, hitching up his trousers.

“How know’st that, Ben Hatchway?” demanded the other sailor, who
had just taken a good pull from the brandy-flask, and now thought
that he could find any object. “His honour knows what we can do
better than an old log-boat like thee, I should ween.”

“For the matter o’ that,” remarked Ben.--But here he paused,
and, previous to explaining further, took a deep draught from
the flask, which his comrade had just handed to him. Having
thus recruited himself, he resumed:--“For the matter o’ that,
Will Bowsprit, here’s his honour to the fore, and, as I was
a-saying--beshrew my topsail!--I’ve been in the Portingales afore
to-day; and, sink me! as I was a-say”--

“Why, look-ye!” interrupted Will Bowsprit; “an’ I leaves my
old hull in that there Portugee fish-pond, look-ye! blow me to
shivers, that’s all! Here’s your honour’s health! I’ll drink to
young Master Don’s anon.”

“My lads, we must back to-night, at all hazards,” said
Hildebrand. “Stand you to the boat; and when you hear ‘Boat
ahoy!’ cried, give a holloa. Yonder light is the last towards the
ship, and is almost in a line with the boat. That shall be my
mark!”

As he ceased speaking, a vivid flash of lightning, of the kind
called “forked,” struck through the darkness; and all “the
artillery of heaven” burst forth overhead. The din among the
black masses of shipping, in the river before them, which here
opened into a noble bay (for it was too large to be called a
basin), seemed to increase, yet the whistling of the wind and
rain was heard above it. Hildebrand paused a moment: then,
wrapping his cloak around him, he turned about, and led Don
Rafaele towards the city.

A flight of steps brought them to a quay, whence they passed
into a long, dirty street. Not a living creature was to be
seen: nothing was to be seen, indeed, but the black houses,
which gave forth no sign of being inhabited. After going along
some distance, they came to another street, turning out of the
main thoroughfare, in which they espied a light. Whispering Don
Rafaele to be of good heart, and (for he had become very faint)
helping him along with one hand, Hildebrand immediately made for
the light, and shortly came up with it. As he had expected, it
issued from the lower casement of a tavern, the outermost door
of which, opening into a close passage, was fastened back, and
thus invited whoever might be passing to enter.

On coming before the open door, Hildebrand paused, and turned to
speak to his companion.

“Be of good cheer, Rafaele!” he said. “The storm favours us, and,
methinks, we have no great cause for fear.”

“How can I be afeard when with thee?” answered Don Rafaele. “I
fear nought, but I am grievously faint.”

“That we will amend within here,” rejoined Hildebrand. “Let us
enter.”

He led the way as he spoke, and, followed by Don Rafaele, passed
to the end of the passage, where a door admitted them into the
inn. On their entry, they found themselves in a large room,
which served the purpose of a modern bar. A cheerful light hung
from the roof; and a long table, on which were displayed several
dishes of cold viands, and divers goodly flasks, stood in its
centre. Behind the table, in one corner of the room, was a fire
of logs, at which stood mine host and hostess. At the moment that
our friends entered, those two worthies seemed, by their looks,
to be in a state of great tribulation; but mine host was revived
by the appearance of two guests, and quickly proceeded to bid
them welcome.

“Senhors, welcome, i’ God’s name!” he cried. Here a tremendous
peal of thunder threw him on his knees. “_Sancta Johannes
Baptista, ora pro nobis, peccatoribus!_” he added.

“_Sancta Maria, ora pro nobis!_” exclaimed his wife, also falling
on her knees.

The thunder was, indeed, awful, and shook the very house. As
it roared over his head, Don Rafaele, whether from terror, or
the higher impulse of devotion, was almost inclined to follow
the example of mine host and hostess, and fall on his knees in
prayer. While he yet hesitated, however, Hildebrand caught him
by the arm, and led him forward to the fire.

The thunder ceased as they came up to the fire; and mine host and
hostess, somewhat assured by their seeming composure, and more by
the cessation of the thunder, began to collect themselves. Slowly
rising to his feet, mine host turned to his guests once more.

“A right dread peal that, Senhors,” he remarked, in tremulous
accents. “Good St. Jago defend us! What would you, now, to keep
up your hearts withal?”

“A good bowl of warm Oporto, Senhor host,” answered Hildebrand.
“Prithee, let it be hot, now, and stint not the lemon and
spice; for, by my troth, they give it a most heartening savour.
Despatch, despatch, good host! and thou mayst then set cups for
thyself and spouse.”

“Will I?” rejoined mine host. “’Tis done!”

And though, literally speaking, it was not yet done, the bowl of
mulled port did appear speedily, steaming hot. While Hildebrand
discussed a cup of it, he meditated how he should discover, by
oblique and indirect inquiries, that information respecting the
armada which he had come to seek. Before he could resolve what
course to pursue in the matter, however, mine host, rendered
loquacious by the wine, proceeded to satisfy his curiosity
spontaneously.

“Right good Oporto, that, Senhor Captain?” he remarked. “’Twill
cheer thy noble heart, I promise thee, under the mishap you
mariners have incurred. Truly, my Lord Marquis, the Admiral, died
at an ill time.”

Hildebrand’s heart beat quick as, without risking an inquiry, he
thus learned that the renowned Admiral of the armada was no more.

“I question much,” he said, in reply to mine host, “an’ his
successor will be his equal.”

“’Tis the common report,” returned mine host, “for though my Lord
Duke, to be sure, hath served in the wars”--

“What duke, I prithee?” asked Hildebrand, somewhat off his guard.

Mine host looked surprised. “What! art thou in Lisbon,” he cried,
“and know’st not who hath been commissioned Lord Admiral?”

“By my troth,” cried Hildebrand, laughing, “an’ I knew it, good
Senhor host, I would not require to ask news of thee. But, to
speak sooth, I am but just come to Lisbon, designing, with my
fair brother here, to offer for the armada as volunteers.”

“Truly, then, thou art but in the nick of time,” rejoined mine
host; “for the armada weighs for England to-morrow.”

“To-morrow?” cried Hildebrand. “Surely, no!”

“’Twas notified to-day by proclamation,” said mine host.

“Well, well, take another cup of Oporto,” replied Hildebrand,
replenishing his cup, and presenting it to him. “Who, saidst
thou, is appointed Lord Admiral?”

“The Duke de Medina Sidonia,” answered mine host, smacking his
lips after his draught. “Good Oporto, that!”

“Right excellent!” said Hildebrand. “But hark! ye have more
guests coming!”

The tread of several feet, indeed, was heard close at hand; and
Hildebrand, and Don Rafaele, who, in all things followed his
example, had hardly turned round to the fire, with their backs
to the door, when the door was pushed open, and five cavaliers
rushed in. Like Hildebrand and Don Rafaele, they were dripping
with wet; and, without heeding mine host, they straight made
for the fire. On coming thither, one of them, in striving to
get nearer the fire, pushed against Don Rafaele, and that
cavalier turned to make room for him. As he did so, he glanced
in the intruder’s face, and both he and that person, as by a
simultaneous impulse, uttered an exclamation of surprise. Ever
on the alert, Hildebrand now turned round, and pushed himself
foremost. Glancing in his face, he recognised, to his great
confusion, the features of Don Gonzalez, the uncle and guardian
of Donna Inez.

Don Gonzalez was collected in a moment.

“Ho, spies!” he exclaimed: “English spies!”

Hildebrand aimed a blow at him as he spoke, and, striking him in
the face, felled him to the floor. At the same moment he threw
his left arm round Don Rafaele; and with a quick step, yet facing
the enemy, made for the door. The four cavaliers who accompanied
Don Gonzalez sprang up directly; but the adventure had opened so
unexpectedly, and was of such a singular and surprising nature,
that they were off their guard, and Hildebrand arrived unmolested
at the door. As he drew the door open, however, one of the
Spaniards, more collected than his comrades, levelled a pistol at
him, and fired.



CHAPTER VI.


The ball struck Don Rafaele, who, being held in Hildebrand’s left
arm, above his shoulder, offered the Spaniard the best mark.
With a low moan, he fell back on Hildebrand’s shoulder; but that
person, though thus rendered sensible that he had been wounded,
did not suffer this incident to arrest his flight, but still
pushed on for the street.

Although he had some paces headway, he had no time to spare. He
had hardly gained the outer passage, when the Spaniards, now
fully collected, were joined by Don Gonzalez, and they set after
him amain. Before they arrived at the doorway, however, he had
gained the street.

The storm was still raging; and the darkness promised, by its
excessive density, to screen his steps from observation. As he
turned into the street, he seemed to acquire new vigour, yet his
long, heavy cloak, though it shielded him from the weather, was
a great incumbrance to him, and embarrassed him exceedingly.
Feeling this, he slipped it off as he gained the street, and
suffered it to fall behind him. The voices and steps of his
pursuers were now close at his heels. Undaunted, yet alive to
every incident, he ran swiftly on, and, as he progressed, looked
about for some projection, behind which he might conceal himself.
The darkness was so dense, that he could not, by the utmost
stretch of his vision, distinguish any such covert; but, keeping
close against the side of the street, he came to an aperture in
one of the houses, opening to a retired door. Without a moment’s
hesitation, he drew back into the recess, and there ventured to
take breath.

As Hildebrand thus came to a halt, his pursuers, who, having
been joined by Don Gonzalez, were now five in number, made their
appearance in the street. For one brief moment, Hildebrand was
in hopes that, having no trace of him to guide them, they would
take the opposite direction, and so leave open the only route by
which he could retreat. But whether they supposed that he would
flee towards the river, or acted from mere impulse, they took the
right path, and followed close in his steps. Hildebrand repressed
his breath as their tread announced them to be approaching the
small recess. Don Rafaele was as still as death; but Hildebrand
felt his heart, which was pressed against his, fairly quivering.
His hand, too, dripped with his blood.

The steps of the Spaniards came close up to the recess. The four
stranger cavaliers, being young men, had outrun Don Gonzalez,
and were nearly a dozen paces in his advance. Hildebrand fully
expected to be discovered when they came abreast of the recess.
It seemed next to impossible, indeed, that he could elude
observation, or that they could pass without seeing him. But
in their haste, the pursuers did not look about them; but,
supposing him to be ahead, pushed straight forward. Hildebrand
was congratulating himself on his good fortune, when another
step, less hasty than its forerunners, struck on his ear, and
Don Gonzalez came in sight. As he came abreast of the recess,
the darkness was dispelled, for one brief moment, by a prolonged
flash of lightning. The flash was so fearfully vivid, that it
quite made him stagger, and, in seeking to avoid it, his eyes
mechanically turned on the recess, where the lightning now
distinctly revealed the two fugitives.

“Ho, Senhors! we have them here!” he cried to his companions.

While he was yet speaking, Hildebrand drew forth a pistol; and
with a steady hand, and an aim that never erred, levelled it at
his breast. As his companions turned to his succour, he uttered a
low groan, and fell back lifeless.

Still bearing Don Rafaele with his left arm, which was almost
numbed with the weight, Hildebrand sprang into the street the
instant he had fired. The Spaniards, hearing the report of a
pistol, were running back for Don Gonzalez, and were coming
towards him with all speed. But, besides that he was greatly
favoured by the darkness, the rain, which had all along fallen in
heavy showers, was now succeeded by a torrent of hail, which beat
right in their faces; and he was thus able to steal across the
street unobserved. There, keeping close to the wall, he allowed
them to pass him, and then set off boldly for the river.

Saturated with rain, breathless with running, and with the arm
which supported Don Rafaele sweating with pain, he shortly
arrived at the beach. To attempt to look for his two boatmen,
or any other object, however close it might be, while the hail
was pouring down so furiously, would have been the height of
folly, and was a project that did not once occur to him. When
he recovered his breath, however, he called out, according to
the preconcerted arrangement, at the top of his voice; and then
listened anxiously for an answer.

“Holloa, ho!” was the prompt reply.

Catching the direction of the voice, which was close at hand, he
sprang forward amain, and shortly came up with the two boatmen.

“Hurrah, Captain! what cheer?” cried the two sailors, discerning
him.

“No good, lads!” answered Hildebrand. And, bending a little, he
spoke in a lower tone to Don Rafaele. “Where art thou hurt, my
Rafaele?” he said.

“I’ the arm,” replied Don Rafaele, faintly. “Moreover, the wound
bleeds apace.”

“Here, my lads, hold him up!” cried Hildebrand. “We cannot go off
while this hail lasts, and, meantime, I must tie up his wound.”

The two rough mariners caught Don Rafaele in their arms directly,
and held him up, with more tenderness than one would have looked
for, while Hildebrand bandaged his wound. This he did with a
scarf, which he took out of his hat; and though, being afraid to
expose him any way to the cold, he was obliged to tie it over
his coat, the stay which it afforded the arm lent Don Rafaele
immediate ease.

The violent shower of hail had ceased by the time that the
sufferer’s arm was tied up. The darkness, however, remained
impenetrable; and as Hildebrand glanced anxiously down the river,
he began to entertain the same fear as Ben Hatchway, expressed
heretofore, that they would be unable to make out the ship. The
thought shook him somewhat; but the thrill which it started had
hardly entered his breast, when a flash of light, which looked
like electric fluid in the darkness, crossed his vision, and the
report of a cannon boomed over the water. At the same moment,
three lights were hauled into the air, and offered the eye a
mark, now that the hail had ceased, sufficiently commanding to be
seen at some distance.

“Well done, ho!” exclaimed Hildebrand, rightly divining that the
lights were a provision of Master Halyard’s, and were intended
to guide him to the ship. “Now, lads, place Don Rafaele in the
stern, and shove off! May God be merciful to our souls!”

The two sailors, without the slightest hesitation, hastened to
obey him; and, having bestowed Don Rafaele carefully in the stern
of the boat, proceeded to set her afloat. Hildebrand assisted
them to shove the boat into the water, and then, not without
getting well soaked by the waves, leaped with them aboard of her,
and took his place at the rudder.

The boat nearly capsized as they got fairly afloat. But
the dexterity of the two seamen, and the prompt manner in
which Hildebrand, on taking his seat, regulated her balance,
counteracted the influence of the waves, and enabled her to
recover herself. All now depended on the perfect preservation
of the boat’s equilibrium. Their route to the ship was not near
so dangerous, in other respects, as their progress to the shore
had been; for the wind had been then right in their teeth, and,
consequently, was now in their favour. Since the fall of hail,
too, it had lulled somewhat, and, though the waves ran as high
as ever, the boat rose to the water with less strain, and made
good way. In a short time, indeed, they brought the cruizer’s
lights close before their head, and were able to distinguish
her long black hull. As they did so, the two mariners uttered a
loud hurrah, and thus drew the attention of Master Halyard, who
happened to be on the look-out, in the gangway, to their perilous
situation.

A rope was thrown to them instantly; and in a few moments more,
the boat was hauled alongside; and Hildebrand, bearing Don
Rafaele in his arms, ascended to the deck.

The anxious group who had crowded to the gangway fell back at the
approach of their commander. Hildebrand, however, took no notice
of their silent welcome; he even overlooked Master Halyard, and,
thinking only of his wounded friend, who now seemed to cling
to him more than ever, he shot across the deck, and descended
straight to the cabin.

No one was in the cabin but the pantler, who, though of such a
taciturn disposition, fairly broke into an exclamation as he
entered.

“Hie thee for some hot water, sirrah,” cried Hildebrand; “and be
hither with it straightway.”

The pantler disappeared; and Hildebrand, preparatory to any
further measures, relieved Don Rafaele of his cloak and hat, and
laid him on his bed. Having thus bestowed him, he was turning to
look for the steward, when Don Rafaele, with a slight effort,
threw his free arm round his neck, and held him back.

“Leave me not to a stranger,” he said, in broken accents:
“I--I--AM INEZ.”



CHAPTER VII.


Abigail had not quitted her bed-chamber long, on the morning
heretofore specified, when Dame Shedlock, whom she had left in
a deep sleep, awoke. Judging from the expression of her eyes,
she awoke in the perfect possession of her senses; but, on being
closely surveyed, her face still displayed certain traces of
fever, which showed that her sleep had not been refreshing. The
bright red spot, too, which has been described as capping her
cheek, burned with unabated lustre; and in its contrast with her
white forehead, and her parched and colourless lips, made the
beauty of her complexion look truly terrible.

For some little time, she lay perfectly still, with her eyes,
which seemed brighter than usual, turned towards heaven, and
apparently rapt in prayer. As her eyes finally turned another
way, the expression of her face changed, and became so radiant
with patience, that it actually affected her complexion; and its
traces of physical suffering, which have been pointed out above,
were lost in the loveliness of its moral revelation.

After lying thus for some brief space longer, she suddenly
altered her position; and by planting her two hands firmly on the
bed, in the manner of props, raised herself up. The achievement
cost her all her strength; and when she had gained a sitting
posture, she was obliged to pause a while, and catch for breath
as if she were stifling.

Several minutes elapsed before she recovered her breath. Even
then, indeed, her respiration was not free, and was evidently
effected with an effort. But her difficulty of breathing did not
induce her to continue still. Once able to draw her breath, she
slowly turned her feet over the side of the bed, and alighted on
the floor. Then, supporting herself against the bed, and clinging
with one hand to the contiguous post of the bedstead, she raised
herself upright.

Her body felt very light, yet her knees and ankles were so weak
and feeble, that, notwithstanding her personal buoyancy, she
could hardly bring them to bear her up. A bright smile stole over
her face as she noted their inefficiency; and while the smile was
yet traceable, she raised her head, and once more turned her eyes
towards heaven. Quickly dropping her glance again, she planted
her left hand, which she had at liberty, steadily on the bed,
and, relaxing her hold of the bed-post, stepped slowly forward,
and thus moved along towards the chamber-door.

She was obliged to halt several times on her way; but, pausing
only to recover her breath, she persevered in her purpose, and
finally gained the door.

She appeared to hesitate somewhat as she drew the door open. But
her indecision, if such it were, endured but a brief period; and,
drawing a deep breath, she once more set forward, and passed into
the passage without.

On the same side of the passage, a little way in her front, there
was another door, opening into an adjoining bed-chamber. On her
entry into the passage, her eye, without looking for any other
object, turned straight here; and, leaning against the contiguous
wall, she bent her steps thitherwards on the instant.

Passing slowly along, she ultimately arrived at the door. She
then hesitated a moment; but, quickly recovering herself, raised
her small hand, and threw the door open.

Right before the doorway, at a few paces distance, was a
bedstead, which, like her own, had no drapery, and was every way
open. It was occupied by a man, who, at the moment that Dame
Shedlock made her appearance, had his face towards the door, and
was lying perfectly awake. It was her husband.

Shedlock started up at this unexpected visit from his wife. The
scowl, however, that mounted to his face, had hardly collected
itself, when the ghost-like dame drew back, and disappeared.

Now more surprised than before, and more enraged, the furious
Puritan sprang to the floor, determined to call her to an account
for her intrusion. Assured of being able to avenge himself,
however, his precipitation subsided when he gained his feet; and,
previous to starting in pursuit of her, he tarried to put on his
clothes. His toilet achieved, he set out for his wife’s chamber.

There was no one in the intermediate passage, and, passing
quickly forward, he shortly gained the chamber-door. Trembling
with rage, and muttering an indistinct execration, he threw the
door violently open, and rushed into the room.

The heavy tread of his feet, in his progress towards the bed, for
which he made directly, no way effected the disposition of his
wife, although, strange to say, she was lying on her side in the
bed, with her eyes fixed on his. As he came up to the bedside,
he thought that her appearance of composure, though it was
really and clearly unfeigned, had been put on to defy him; and,
exasperated by this suspicion, he shook his clenched fist in her
face. Still the dame was no way disturbed, and her glassy eyes,
far from appealing for mercy, did not even flinch. The ruffian
now grew furious, and, relaxing his fist, he seized her by the
arm, and dragged her forcibly up. _She was dead!_

A thrill of horror shot through the bosom of Shedlock as he made
this discovery. A sudden thought struck him, that she was dead
when, a few moments previous, she had visited him in his chamber,
and that what he had then seen in her form was not her mortal
self, but her immortal and disembodied spirit.

The appalling surmise struck him to the soul. His face, always
pale, became quite ghastly; his hair rose on end; and his frame
was so agitated, that he could hardly bring his unnerved and
trembling step to lend him obedience.

But his awe of his wife’s corpse quickly lent him sufficient
vigour to flee. Still keeping his eye on the corpse, lest, in
the course of his retreat, it should rise upon him unawares, he
sprang to the chamber-door, and darted out into the adjoining
passage. Thence, with unabated speed, he passed to the
neighbouring stairs, and pursued his flight to the hall below.

The hall opened into a porch, leading into the park; but, at
its lower end, there were two more doors, one of which, noticed
in a former chapter, led to the chamber called the blue room;
and the other, to the kitchen. It was to the latter door that
Shedlock directed his steps; and, maintaining his original pace,
he arrived thither speedily. Still overwhelmed with fear, he drew
it open; and, with even increased impatience, passed through the
aperture, and closed and bolted the door in his rear.

At the same moment that he thus disappeared, the door at the
upper end of the hall, leading into the porch, was cautiously
pushed open, and another man presented himself. On coming into
the doorway, he halted a while, and looked eagerly round.
Seemingly assured by his survey, he ventured to pass in; and with
a stealthy step, yet hasty withal, proceeded towards the doorway
by which Shedlock had just made his egress. It was Bernard Gray.

He shortly arrived at the lower door, and, raising his hand to
the latch, sought to draw it open. To his surprise, however, it
resisted his efforts, and he found that it was secured on the
other side.

“’Tis fast!” he muttered, at length. “Yet the paper must be
secured. I will even venture to her chamber.”

With these words, he turned to the contiguous stairs; and after
listening a moment, and again looking round, passed quickly up to
the floor above. Breathless with his haste, he halted before the
chamber which, from having been conducted there on the preceding
day, he conceived to be occupied by Dame Shedlock.

Though so anxious to avoid observation, he was afraid to enter
the chamber unannounced, or without some previous warning, lest
his sudden appearance should cause the dame alarm; and, to
prevent any ill effect, he knocked two or three times on the
panel of the door. But no answer was rendered; and, after a
short interval, he cautiously opened the door, and stepped into
the chamber.

Having once crossed the threshold, Bernard paused only to close
the door, and then, with a light but hasty step, made straight
for the bed. His first glance at its inmate told him she was a
corpse.

He gazed in her face for a full minute; and when, at the last, he
withdrew his glance, his eyes were filled with tears.

“Who shall question thy ways, O, thou most Highest?” he said,
clasping his wrinkled hands. “The Lord giveth, and the Lord
taketh away: blessed be the name of the Lord!”

When he ceased speaking, a thought struck him that, as he had
found her alone, the dame might have died unattended, and might
be supposed to be yet living by the inattentive household.
Impressed with this belief, he determined to give the alarm,
and took a step towards the door, which was only a few paces
distant, with that view. But he quickly changed his resolution,
and, retracing his step, turned to the bedside again. Here he
looked once more at the corpse, and then, with a tenderness which
his rugged appearance would hardly have prepared one to expect,
placed his fingers on the dead matron’s eyelids, and fulfilled
the last sad office of closing them.

He seemed now to recollect, for the first time since he had
entered the chamber, what was the business that had brought
him thither, and the recollection was certainly not calculated
to soothe or console him. He had come in search of the paper
which was to establish the legitimacy of Hildebrand Clifford;
but the demise of Dame Shedlock, who alone could furnish him
with that paper, and who had promised to place it in his hands,
rendered the prospect of his achieving such an acquisition quite
hopeless. What clue had he to the place in which it had been
deposited? With his forefinger pressed against his forehead, he
proceeded to recall, word by word, all that had passed at their
last meeting, between him and the dame; and pondered deliberately
on each syllable. At length, he recollected that, as she
concluded her disclosures, she had seemed to point at something
over her shoulders. Hastily glancing over the head of the bed,
his eye fell on the wardrobe, with which, it may be borne in
mind, the course of our history has shown him to have been
connected heretofore. With a beating heart, he sprang a pace or
two forward, and drew the wardrobe-door open. It revealed a small
recess, having no shelves, but a row of pegs, some four or five
in number, just below the ceiling, from which dangled several
articles of female apparel. Bernard examined these separately,
but, on the most searching investigation, they afforded him no
clue, in any one particular, to the document he so earnestly
sought.

Though he had scarcely expected a more favourable result, the
conviction that further search would be fruitless, however
closely he might pursue it, depressed him severely. Yet he
felt thoroughly assured that the document was somewhere in the
wardrobe. He was speculating where it could be concealed, when,
happening to look downwards, he perceived that the floor of the
wardrobe, from the door to the wall, was covered with a rush
matting; and it suddenly occurred to him that the paper might be
hidden beneath. On surveying it closer, he found that the matting
was nailed down; but this circumstance, as may be supposed,
offered him but a trifling obstacle. Once possessed of the idea
that the paper was hidden under the matting, he stooped down;
and, with the aid of a small clasp-knife (which, as he wore it at
his girdle, was probably used generally for eating purposes),
cut away the matting round the nails, and raised it up. There,
indeed, was the paper, covered with dust, yet more precious to
him than tissue of gold.

It was a leaf of the parish register; and was written over, in
characters not very distinct, on both sides. Several marriages
were recorded on it, but that which principally interested
Bernard, and most concerned our history, was the first of all,
and testified to the marriage of “Hildebrand Clifford, Esquire,
and Mistress Philippa Gray.” But even the testimony to the other
marriages was not unimportant, as many of the parties it referred
to, Bernard well knew, were yet living, and their evidence to the
fact of their having been married at the times set forth, while
no record of the marriages could be found in the parish register
(though they would be able to swear that it _was_ so recorded),
would establish the truth and authenticity of the whole document.

Bernard was overjoyed at its acquisition. Having glanced over it,
he folded it carefully up, and placed it, with a circumspection
commensurate with its value, within his vest, buttoning his
jerkin above. He then replaced the matting, and turned to retire.

He lingered a moment at the side of the bed; but he was too
anxious to get clear off, now that he held such an invaluable
possession, to protract his pause. After one farewell glance
at his deceased friend, he hastened on to the door, and thence
passed to the outer passage.

No one was about; and, with a light and hasty step, he proceeded
to the hall below, and onward to the porch. Thus he made his
egress unobserved.



CHAPTER VIII.


Although the sudden and unannounced arrival of Don Felix di
Corva, described in a former chapter, had overwhelmed Sir Edgar
de Neville with surprise, that cavalier quickly recovered
himself, and hastened to bid his relative welcome. Evaline,
however, continued discomposed, and met the greeting of Don Felix
with undisguised coldness. The Spaniard affected to be insensible
of her resentment; but it did, notwithstanding, mortify him
exceedingly, and he determined to avenge himself on her at the
very earliest opportunity.

Such an opportunity was not to be afforded him that evening.
Evaline, distracted with her anxieties, which the return of Don
Felix had greatly augmented, shortly announced herself to be too
indisposed to remain up longer, and retired to her chamber. Don
Felix was himself much fatigued, and, when Evaline had retired,
he professed to have no inducement to stay up further, and also
betook himself to his dormitory. But, fatigued as he was, it was
more to pursue reflection, than to seek repose, which he had
pretended to be his aim, that he thus withdrew. When he laid his
head on his pillow, he sought rather to conjure up the past, with
all the remembrances that a malignant disposition could draw from
it, than to recruit himself for the morrow. He could not say, in
his heart, that Evaline had at any time loved him; but there was
a time when she had not held him in dislike. Who had induced her
to alter her sentiments? There, indeed, was the touch-stone,
which searched and proved his nature!

The Spaniard was not, under ordinary circumstances, what would be
called a bad man; and if no strong influences had been at work
upon him, he might have passed through life, in its even and
untroubled channels, without developing a single evil quality.
Still he was, in reality, possessed of a quality fruitful in
evil, from which springs a host of bad and furious passions,
and which is generally called by the name of “self-conceit.”
He thought he was a _nonpareil_; and so long as, by the run
of circumstances, he could appear in that character, he was
perfectly inoffensive, and rather disposed to serve a friend,
than to crush a foe. But the man that, even involuntarily, dared
to appear in his sphere to greater advantage than himself,
did him an injury that he would never forgive. Then, on being
closely viewed, the quality that had appeared more deserving
of contempt, than worthy of fear, displayed its genuine and
native hideousness. It was bared to the root, and, in its naked
colours, showed itself to be fraught with “envy, malice, and all
uncharitableness.”

Up to the time that Sir Edgar and Evaline formed the acquaintance
of Hildebrand Clifford, Don Felix had lived with those persons,
in the seclusion of the Grange, in the style and position he
desired. But Hildebrand’s appearance on the stage was to open to
him a new and less auspicious era. A few days served to show him,
by the altered bearing of the household, that he had now a rival,
and that he could not enjoy the chief place in his sphere without
a struggle. His self-esteem quailed before the many superior
attractions of Hildebrand; but the superiority that, by throwing
him into the back-ground, quite obscured his moderate resources,
excited his envy. He soon began to regard Hildebrand as an enemy;
and, as has been already set forth, seized the first opportunity
that arose, in the absence of Sir Edgar and Evaline, to provoke
him to a quarrel. The fact of Hildebrand having spared his life
on that occasion, instead of invoking his gratitude, only made
him hate him the more; and the noble generosity that was above
his understanding, he ascribed to indecision and fear.

He now saw, what he had suspected before, that he had quite lost
the affections of Evaline, who had long been promised to him in
marriage, and firmly believed that they had been surrendered to
Hildebrand. This allowed, he had to consider how, in the eleventh
hour, he could withdraw her love from Hildebrand, and transfer
it to himself. The scheme by which he proposed to effect such a
change, stupendous as it might seem, was already devised.

The morning following his return to the Grange found him astir
early. Nevertheless, he was shortly joined by Sir Edgar, who
was, like himself, of matutinal habits, and wont to be early up.
They greeted each other cordially; and Sir Edgar then, though
unconsciously, opened the way for that communication concerning
Hildebrand, which Don Felix was so anxious to deliver.

“There is a proclamation out,” he said, “that all Spaniards
in this realm, of whatever degree, are either to quit it
straightway, or to give good and sufficient surety for their
behaviours. But thou need’st not to be troubled hereat; for I
will write off to London to-day, to my worshipful friend Sir
Walter Raleigh, and beseech him to act in this matter in my
behalf, and be thy surety.”

“’Tis a good thought, and should be despatched with all
convenience,” replied Don Felix.

“Yet there will be some delay in it, I dare affirm,” returned
Sir Edgar. “’Twould be executed out of hand, an’ my good friend
Captain Clifford were here.”

“Now, God forefend, Sir, I should ever take a service at his
hand!” exclaimed Don Felix, with a show of excessive indignation.

“And wherefore not, I prithee?” rejoined Sir Edgar. “But I
remember me, on second thought, you were at discord one time.
Beseech thee, let me make you friends.”

“Never!” cried Don Felix, vehemently.

“That is a hard word, Felix,” answered Sir Edgar, in a tone of
remonstrance. “Let me not fall in thy regard, an’ I hold him
dearly still; for the evil he hath done thee--if he have done
thee any evil--cannot mete with the good he hath done me.”

“He hath done no evil to mine own self,” replied Don Felix,
“yet hath he wronged a friend of mine, whom I hold next to
thee, beyond the utmost limit of forgiveness. But to make thee
understand his guilt, I should have to unfold to thee, at more
length than thou mightst choose, its sum and particulars.”

“’Fore God, thou makest me fairly marvel!” exclaimed Sir Edgar.
“’Twere wronging him to hear thy tale; for, believe me, thy
friend, be he who he will, hath but practised on thee, and told
thee what is without truth.”

“Then have mine own eyes deluded me!” cried Don Felix. “What I
believe, they saw!”

“I’faith, thou grievest me, Felix,” said Sir Edgar. “Yet can I
hardly look ill on my friend, or do him even a thought’s wrong.
But the matter! Leaven thy tale with kindness, and be brief.”

“When I was lately in Cadiz,” said Don Felix, “I saw there one
day, prowling about the streets, a man whose favour I knew. There
was with me the dear friend I spoke of--by name, Gonzalez; and
seeing the man aforesaid walked about curiously, like a spy, we
dogged him a while. He was no other than Captain Clifford.”

“He was in Cadiz, I know,” observed Sir Edgar.

“We followed him to the chapel of the cathedral,” resumed Don
Felix, “where, to our singular admiration, we observed him to be
in correspondence with a certain fair lady, my worthy friend’s
ward.”

“This is no great harm,” smiled Sir Edgar.

“Anon!” answered Don Felix. “Jealous of my friend’s reputation, I
kept a close watch on the young Donna; and, to be brief, on the
night following, while parading round the house, I nearly ran
against Captain Clifford and her duenna, and tracked them fairly
to the Donna’s lodging.”

“An’ this be the sum of his error, ’tis only matter for a little
raillery,” remarked Sir Edgar.

“Mark me!” pursued Don Felix. “Stung with passion, I alarmed my
friend; and after a rigid search, within and without, we found
the Donna and her seducer together. My tale must now be unfolded
in few. Don Gonzalez, reasonably enraged, committed Captain
Clifford to prison. Howbeit, he had not been there long, when,
as we have been advised since, on the confession of the duenna,
he was visited by his poor victim, disguised as a cavalier. In
that guise, she enabled him to escape; and, under the name of Don
Rafaele”--

Sir Edgar started. “By God’s suffering,” he cried, “she was with
him in this house! An’ I live to see him, I will call him to
account for ’t.”

“Thou must mistake,” answered Don Felix, with affected horror,
yet really transported with joy. “He would never so affront
thee, his friend, and my fair Evaline, as to bring his betrayed
belamour hither.”

Sir Edgar was so overcome with indignation, that for several
minutes, though he strove to repress his feelings, he could not
sufficiently calm himself to reply. Then, however, he spoke at
length, and with all the bitterness which, viewing Hildebrand’s
error in the light now laid down, might be expected from a man
of honour, and a parent. Though he had yet something to say, Don
Felix, with characteristic cunning, suffered Sir Edgar to talk
himself out, when he opened to him what he deemed a more exciting
subject.

“I fear me, he hath even done harm here,” he said. “An’ it be so,
my peace, which he hath already disturbed, is utterly lost, and
’twill scarcely go less grievous with Evaline.”

Sir Edgar’s cheeks burned again. “He hath never dared to trifle
with her,” he said, in tremulous accents.

“I am much afeard he hath,” answered Don Felix.

“Go to! I will see her on the matter,” returned Sir Edgar. “I
have promised her to thee of old, and, if she tender my honour,
thou shalt have her. I will write off to Sir Walter to be thy
surety to the Government; and directly his answer comes, allowing
of thy sojourn here, you shall be wedded. Let us despatch the
letter at once.”

Writing materials were ready at hand, and, as he ceased speaking,
Sir Edgar turned to them, and proceeded to write the proposed
letter. When it was finished, old Adam Green, whom he employed
before any in matters of trust, was summoned from without, and
directed to convey it to the next post-town. Adam entered on
the errand without delay; but his retirement from the chamber,
preparatory to setting out, afforded Sir Edgar and Don Felix no
opportunity of resuming their conversation; for just as he left
them to themselves, they were joined by Evaline.

The fair girl, to judge from her appearance, had passed a
restless night; but, seeing her father look sad, she smiled
on her entry, and greeted him with constrained cheerfulness.
To please him, too, she even relaxed her bearing towards Don
Felix, and saluted that cavalier with the utmost complaisance.
Nevertheless, her assumed composure was but short-lived, and she
sat down to their morning meal, which had been waiting for her
appearance, in thoughtful silence.

As none of them was disposed to converse, much less to extend
the appetite, their breakfast sustained no interruption, and was
speedily despatched. This done, Don Felix arose; and, stating
that he had some business at Exeter, which required his instant
attention, quitted the chamber, and left Sir Edgar and Evaline to
themselves.

They sat full of thought for several minutes, when Sir Edgar, in
a low voice, and agitated withal, broke the silence.

“Evaline, I have some ill tidings for thee,” he said.

Evaline started. “What may they import, Sir?” she asked, in a
faltering tone.

“’Twill grieve thee to hear, yet must I tell thee,
notwithstanding,” answered Sir Edgar. “God give thee grace to
bear them meetly!”

“Amen!” ejaculated Evaline, crossing herself.

Without saying a word more, she waited till Sir Edgar should
unfold, at his own prompture, whatever he might have to
communicate. Though Sir Edgar had before determined what he would
say, her patient bearing so moved him, that he now faltered,
and several minutes elapsed before he could proceed. At length,
however, he opened his communication; and, acquiring more
firmness as he progressed, disclosed to her all that he had just
learned from Don Felix.

Evaline heard him to an end without interruption. Occasionally,
indeed, as the more remarkable features of his tale were
unfolded, she raised her dim eyes, and fixed a momentary glance
on his face; but she never spoke a word. She knew that it was
all true; she would have given her life--ay, her very life--if
she could even have doubted it; but it carried conviction and
reality in every single particular.

She sat in her chair like a statue--as still, as composed, and
almost as unconscious. One would have thought, from her unruffled
look, that she was indifferent to her father’s tidings--that she
was quite calm and composed; but the calmness and composure were
despair!

Her father paused when he had finished his communication,
expecting, from the hint he had received from Don Felix, that
she would swoon with grief, or, at the least, burst into tears.
Deceived by her seeming composure, however, he supposed that it
affected her only as far as, being so contrary to what she had
looked for, it shook her opinion of a lately esteemed friend;
and, under this impression, he pursued his discourse less
tenderly.

“Didst thou love this man, Evaline?” he said.

“Love him?” exclaimed Evaline, wringing her clasped hands. “O!
God! how dearly!”

Sir Edgar turned pale with surprise.

“Thou shouldst have told me this afore,” he said, reproachingly.

“He besought me to conceal it for a time,” answered Evaline, “as
he had that in view, he said, which would make his fortune equal
mine, and insure him your favour.”

Sir Edgar bit his lips, and mused a moment. He then stepped up to
Evaline’s chair, and, there pausing, took her hand in his.

“Thou know’st I have thy welfare at heart, my child!” he said.

“Right well,” replied Evaline, calmly, yet without looking up.

“And if I ask thee to do a thing I have dreamed of for years, and
which will make my last days pass lightly, wilt thou cry me nay?”
asked Sir Edgar.

“God forbid, father?” returned Evaline.

“See, then!” resumed Sir Edgar. “I have long thought to wed thee
to thy brave friend and coz, Don Felix.”--Evaline started.--“Thou
wilt not, now I am old and lonely, deny me the joy of seeing thee
happy?”

Evaline looked up; and Sir Edgar, though he had observed that his
proposal moved her, was taken by surprise at the despair revealed
in her gaze, and shrank back apace.

“My heart is breaking, father,” she said. “Do not--oh! do not
thou pain it more! Beseech thee, as thou lovest me, name not this
match again!”

“Never!” exclaimed Sir Edgar, in a broken voice. “’Tis a thing I
had set my heart on. But never care, my darling! We will speak of
it no more!”

“Thank you! thank you!” cried Evaline.

She rose as she spoke, and, withdrawing her small hand from his
clasp, threw her arm round his neck, and kissed his cheek. Then,
with a deep sigh, she broke away from him, and passed out of the
chamber.

Sir Edgar watched her till the door, closing after her, hid her
from his view, when he turned mournfully away, and threw himself
into the chair which she had just vacated. His expectations, no
less than hers, were blighted; his peace also was gone; his and
his child’s sympathies were no longer concordant.

It is a bitter thing for a parent to find an obstacle to his
heart’s desire in his own child, even when, as in Sir Edgar’s
case, he feels that his child’s opposition is perfectly and
strictly legitimate. It is as if his hand, acting on a judgment
of its own, refused to answer the call of his mouth--as if his
body disdained to be swayed by his mind. Though he may distinctly
perceive and understand, that his child sees in his command an
object of abhorrence, and may mentally bleed at her every pang,
he yet feels, in his heart, that she ought to be persuaded that
it is really a path to happiness, and embrace it cheerfully. He
may know how the idea appals her; he may commiserate and writhe
under her deep sufferings; but for all this, he still thinks, in
his moments of retirement, that her terrors are foolish, that her
sufferings are the offspring of her own imagination, and that
obedience to him would insure her happiness and fruition.

Though he had promised never again to request Evaline to accept
the hand of Don Felix, Sir Edgar found, on reflection, that
he could not tear that project from his heart, or forego its
realization, without a bitter pang. He had conceived it when they
were yet children; it had, as it were, grown on his affections,
as his affections had grown with them; and he now saw a weak and
unhappy passion, which could never be pursued, and the mere
entertainment of which was degrading, step in to oppose it. He
was to see his child wither under the breath of a villain, when,
as he thought, a career of happiness was open to her, and the
height of earthly bliss was within her reach.

The last of his house would never wed: when he should be laid in
the cold grave, he would leave in the world, in which all men
seek a memorial, not a vestige of his race. The inheritance of
a score of ancestors, improved by his care, and extended by his
economy, would pass to strangers, and he would die unmourned, and
lie in his sepulchre unremembered.

Such were the bitter reflections that passed through his mind.
And yet, in the face of these reflections, at the very moment
that his disappointment pressed upon him most severely--even
while he was thinking, every now and then, that the opposition
to his wishes was unkind and unreasonable, his paternal heart
bled for his child. He imagined her looking on the wreck of her
bright dreams of promise--on lofty hopes overthrown, and deep
aspirations stifled; and he saw her, as the ruin still confronted
her, become paralysed at the view, and overwhelmed with the
terrors of despair.

All his own energy was depressed and lost. In his inability to
sway his child, he felt as though, in reality, he was no longer
master of himself. His disposition had suddenly undergone an
entire and radical change, and he now seemed, instead of being a
man of thought and action, to be a mere creature of circumstance,
and quite at the command of any influence that might approach him.

He was still meditating on his disappointment, when he was joined
by Don Felix. That person, finding him alone, inquired the result
of his conversation with Evaline, which he knew had concerned
himself, with affected eagerness, although, if the truth must be
told, he very well understood that there was no chance of its
being favourable. Sir Edgar’s reply, informing him of Evaline’s
determination not to wed him, appeared to overwhelm him with
affliction, and, though no more than he had expected, did really
fill him with the most bitter rage. Still, however, he did not
despair of one day achieving revenge. In deference to Sir Edgar,
he forbore to press the subject at that moment, but he looked
forward, in his heart, to a time when he might successfully recur
to it, and pursue it to a triumphant issue. Even at the passing
time, indeed, he did not virtually neglect it; but by frequent
piteous sighs, and his melancholy and dejected aspect, which
beamed with pious resignation, urged his suit on Sir Edgar with
unremitted assiduity.

Meantime, Evaline had shut herself up in her own chamber. On
first entering it, she threw herself on her knees, at her
bedside; and there, leaning forward, buried her face in her
hands. And what did she pray for? Could she suppose, on looking
out on the stupendous creation, which is too vast for human
thought to review, that so insignificant an atom as she could
appeal against and arrest the course of events, and draw from
Heaven miraculous succour? What, though even the hairs of her
head were all numbered--what, though the supreme Disposer, who
planted and moved every source and spring of action, had called
himself her Father--what, though he had himself said, “Come unto
ME, ye heavy-laden,”--was it to be thought, by any sane and
reasonable being, that He would recall the past, and obliterate
realized events, on her petition?

No such thought aroused the prayer of Evaline. She prayed, not
against what could not be averted, but for power to bear what God
should dispense--not for the reduction of her burden, but for
grace and strength to sustain it.

She was somewhat soothed when she arose from her knees. But the
holy assurance which she derived from her prayer, though it
nerved her for the moment, was not lasting, and quickly sank
under her associations with the world. In time, she might be
resigned--_that_ was her hope; but now--O God! who could bear it
now?

If she did for a moment conjure up an assuasive reflection, the
bitterness of blighted passion--as if, like a stranded sea, it
had receded only to recruit its vigour--quickly rushed over her
again, and bore down all opposition. What an afflictive and
appalling spectacle did it present to her! Every hope washed
away--every bright thought overthrown--every dream and prospect
of happiness utterly obliterated!

And did she bear no animosity to the man who, whether directly
or otherwise, she supposed to have brought her to this dreadful
pass? Not so much as would weigh in the scale with a hair! She
loved him, indeed, as dearly as ever--loved him beyond the grasp
of expression--loved him with all the ardour, depth, and devotion
of her nature.

If she could only weep--if she could only soothe her overcharged
heart, in its bitter ecstacy, with a few tears--then, she
thought, her misery would be assuaged. But her distress was so
exquisite, that even this relief, wretched as it was, would not
rise at her wish, and she had not so much as a tear to console
her.

She thought herself perfectly resigned, but, paradoxical as it
may sound, she was, in reality, nerved by despair. Beyond the
pallor of her complexion, and the fixed stare of her eyes, she
showed no outward sign of emotion; but within, where no eye could
observe her, she was wrung to the soul. And what a glorious thing
it was, now all was gone, to be able to brood over her sorrow
unobserved! How grateful was it to her to be alone!--to sit
and think, hour by hour, over her heart-rooted affliction, her
crushed affections, and her indomitable but fatal attachment!

Several hours elapsed before she ventured to return to the family
sitting-room. Ultimately, however, she did repair thither, and
there joined Sir Edgar and Don Felix.

Sorrow had breathed a blight over the once happy circle; and the
sweet harmonies of family intercourse, if looked for in outward
evidences, were visible no more. When they spoke at all, the
father and daughter spoke in monosyllables; and Don Felix, though
really no way disturbed, did little else but sigh. But what
most distressed Evaline was, not the silence, but the seeming
prostration of her father. Nor was it in his face, dejected as it
was, or in the tones of his voice, that she conceived this to be
apparent. It was in his excessive tenderness to her that she saw
his affliction. He seemed to be afraid to speak, or even to move,
without first looking at her, as if he imagined it possible
that his words or motion might give her uneasiness. In short,
he appeared to be so subdued, that he had resigned all care for
himself, and had no thought that was not entirely hers.

She hoped this would wear off, and that a day or two, at
furthest, would bring him more fortitude. But the habit rather
grew upon him; and day followed day, in tedious succession, and
with the same melancholy monotony, without altering his manner in
the least.

His evident wretchedness materially aggravated the depression
of Evaline. Though her own cause of sorrow, contrary to her
expectations, was none the less bitter or poignant from being
familiar, it did become less absorbing, and gradually left her
open to other and more tender impressions. In the severance
of one tie, she felt those that remained, and which embraced
her earlier affections, drawn yet closer, and her surviving
attachments become more enlarged and endearing. To her father, in
particular, her heart opened new and more devoted sympathies. He
was now to be her sole care--in him was rooted her only remaining
hope; and to soothe the downhill of his life, which her sorrows
had rendered rugged, was to be her one solitary aim.

In what way was her holy object to be accomplished? Her heart,
already so prostrate, fairly ran cold at the inquiry. But if
she recoiled from it at first, she soon began to think of it,
in her solitary moments, with more calmness. Occasionally,
when she thought no eye was observing her, she would steal a
glance at her father’s face, and, as she there saw what he was
suffering within, she would accuse herself of disobedience, and
even of selfishness. Then she would reflect, with something like
pleasure, that she could not live long; and, if she soothed the
last days of her father, what could it matter how she sacrificed
herself? Don Felix, it was true, could never possess her love;
but his present devotion to her father had restored him to her
esteem; and if it would give happiness to the latter, whom she
had made unhappy, why should she hesitate to wed him? It would be
all the same to her; she could not be more wretched than she was;
and when the hour should come which would lead her to another
sphere, where the very fulness of peace would be opened to her,
she would be haunted by no remembrance of disobedience, or shadow
of reproach.

But though her heart could pause on such a reflection, it was
too weak and human, and attached too closely to the memories
and associations of the past, to approach it with resolution.
She pondered on it, indeed, very frequently; but never long,
and always with some degree of horror. One afternoon, however,
it occurred to her so forcibly, that, strive as she might, she
positively could not repel it. She was seated in the common room,
and its only other inmate, it so happened, was her father. He sat
with his side towards her; but his head, contrary to his wont,
was resting on his open hand, and, though she repeatedly turned
her glance upon him, she could not see his face. After a time,
she began to think he was asleep; and something prompted her,
now she could not be observed, to approach him, and take a close
survey of his features.

Light as her step was, Sir Edgar heard her approaching, and
looked up. For the first time since the morning following the
return of Don Felix, her eyes met his, and she observed, at her
first glance, that they were filled with tears.

She had paused when he raised his eyes; but now, banishing her
hesitation, she sprang hastily forward, and threw herself at his
feet.

“Father!” she said, in a deep voice; and, as she spoke, she
planted her arms on his knees, and caught his right hand in both
hers:--“Thou think’st I love thee not!”

Sir Edgar’s eyes overflowed. “My child! my darling! not love me!”
he cried. “Oh, I know thou dost! I know thou dost!”

“I have been self-willed, dear,” answered Evaline. “Wilt thou
forgive me?”

Sir Edgar, bending a little forward, threw his arm round her
neck, and pressed his lips to her cheek.

“Shall I forgive thee for being my comforter?” he said. “Thou
hast ever been my true darling, and most loving child! What can I
forgive thee more?”

“I have denied thee to wed Don Felix,” pursued Evaline. “In good
sooth, my heart was then distract, but I will deny it thee no
longer. Thou shalt give me to him, father.”

“Our Lady forbid, my poor child!” faltered Sir Edgar.

“Thou shalt! thou shalt!” cried Evaline, trying to smile. “What,
wouldst turn on me with mine own waywardness, and cross me for
being undutiful?”

Perhaps, Sir Edgar saw, in spite of her smile, which was really
more distressing than tears, how biting a sorrow was wringing
her tortured heart, and so determined to yield to whatever she
should propose. Whatever might be the motive that influenced him,
however, he caught her round the waist as she ceased speaking,
and, thus holding her, drew her up to his bosom.

“Be it as thou wilt!” he said, in a broken voice.

“First, I will write to Captain Clifford,” resumed Evaline, “and
advise him, with what brevity I can, what he is charged withal.
This were no more than common justice.”

“No more,” said Sir Edgar. “But where wilt thou write to him,
dear?”

“To the lodging of Sir Walter Raleigh,” answered Evaline.

“I had a missive from Sir Walter this morning,” said Sir Edgar,
“enclosing a pass for Felix, but he makes no mention, in the few
words he hath writ, of Captain Clifford.”

“No doubt, they be both much occupied with the new levies,
preparing against the armada,” observed Evaline. “I will
advertise him, if he do not clear himself of the charges in ten
days’ time, he shall never see me more. When that space has
passed, I will hold myself free from him, and be ready to wed
Felix.”

“’Tis resolved like thyself, and let it be so,” replied Sir
Edgar. “The letter should be despatched to him with all speed.”

“I will write it incontinently,” returned Evaline.

Accordingly, she repaired to the contiguous table, and there,
sitting down, entered on the task forthwith. Her despair, instead
of distracting her, marshalled her thoughts into order; her hand
was as steady as marble; and, writing straight on, she shortly
brought her letter to a close. When she had thus finished it,
she carefully read it over; and then, though without speaking,
offered it for the perusal of Sir Edgar.

“I cannot read it,” cried Sir Edgar. “Seal it up!”

She felt inclined to read it over again as she drew it back; but
fearful that, as he had observed her read it over once, Sir Edgar
might deem her irresolute, she forbore, and hastily sealed it up.
Then, with a hand much less steady, she superscribed it, and gave
it over to Sir Edgar.

“Art resolved on this, Evaline?” asked that person, as he
accepted the letter.

She could not trust herself to speak; for the effort she had
made to appear composed, and by which she had been sustained so
long, was now spent, and her heart was bursting. By a desperate
struggle, however, she forced her lips into a smile, and nodded
affirmatively.

“I will despatch the missive at once, then,” said Sir Edgar.

Thus speaking, he strode out of the chamber, and proceeded in
quest of Adam Green. He soon found that individual, and, calling
him aside, presented him the letter, and directed him to convey
it to the Devon postman. He then turned to rejoin Evaline.

The forlorn girl had quitted the chamber before he arrived
thither. He was not sorry, on reflection, that it had so
happened, as he thought that she would be the better for retiring
a while. He was himself quite elevated; for he supposed that, on
a dispassionate review of what had transpired, she had mastered
her unhappy passion for Hildebrand, and was really desirous to
wed Don Felix. As he was pondering on this gratifying conclusion,
Don Felix joined him.

Sir Edgar grasped his hand on his entry, and at once unfolded
to him, word for word, all that had passed between him and
Evaline. The subtle Spaniard appeared to be overjoyed at the
communication. On pursuing the subject further, however, he
expressed a doubt whether, in case no other obstacle should
intervene, they could find a priest to solemnize the contemplated
marriage.

“There are licensed priests enow, did we know where to look for
them,” answered Sir Edgar.

“That I am well advised of,” resumed Don Felix; “and, now I
bethink me, one came over with me from France, and is still
somewhere in Exeter.”

“He may be a seminary priest,” suggested Sir Edgar.

“That is he not, but duly licensed,” returned Don Felix. “I will
inquire him out anon.”

While he was thus discussing the last preliminary of the proposed
marriage, Evaline, who was to be its victim, was brooding
over it in her chamber. Strange as it may seem, the evidence
of Hildebrand’s inconstancy, whether from familiarity, or from
being reviewed with a too partial eye, now appeared to her to
be defective, and she began to hope that he would be able to
prove it false. It is true, her hope, if viewed closely, was
associated with a thousand fears, but still it was a hope. She
knew that he had introduced to her acquaintance, under the name
of Don Rafaele, a person of exceeding beauty, and whom only
the most skilful disguise could make to pass for a male, and
she recollected many particulars in the conduct of that person
that quite confirmed the statement advanced by Don Felix. But
would Hildebrand have brought his wretched victim into the
presence of one whose ruin he only meditated? She thought not;
and though harassed, every now and then, with the most bitter
and excruciating apprehensions, and occasionally horrified at
the thought of the sacrifice she had proposed to her father, she
still hoped for a satisfactory and happy issue.

The hope, limited as it was, inspired her with new spirits,
and, compared with her previous bearing, she was quite animated
when she rejoined her father. Sir Edgar was overjoyed, and, to
all appearance, Don Felix was no less so; and they both strove
their utmost, by engaging her constantly in conversation, to
maintain her in the equanimity she seemed to enjoy. For a week,
or so, while her hope retained its ascendency, their efforts were
successful; but as the time drew nigh at which, according to the
period she had fixed, she might expect a reply to her letter
to Hildebrand, her spirits drooped, and she again sank into
listlessness and apathy.

The mental fever that she now endured was beyond expression
excruciating. It would have been far better for her to be
without hope, than to hang, hour by hour, and minute by minute,
by such a pitiful thread, and look down on all the horrors of
despair. What poignant thoughts struck her every minute! Now she
would be comparatively composed, and then, quick as lightning, a
fear would spring from her heart, that would make her brow sweat
again. What fearful agony was that! Yet it was nothing, in force
and horror, compared with what she endured at night. Then, when
every other eye was sealed in sleep, she lay on her troubled
pillow in a raging fever--restless, racked, and burning. Even
when exhausted nature sank her into a brief sleep, she writhed
under horrible dreams, and was soon, in spite of her exhaustion,
startled into action by a monstrous nightmare.

Yet all this time, under all this suffering, she bent her knee
daily, in humble adoration, before the inscrutable providence
of her Maker; she never once questioned the equity of His
dispensations; she only asked for mercy, patience, and fortitude
to bear them meetly.

Never a breath of complaint once escaped her. She even tried to
look cheerful; to exhilarate her father, she would even smile,
when, God knows, her noble heart was bursting.

At length the day arrived which was to decide her fortune. What
a day! Every approaching step, if she did not recognise it
directly, made her start. Once, looking out of the casement, on
the side of the mansion nearest the lodge, she espied a horseman
coming up the avenue. What a host of hopes and fears rose in
her bosom, during the few minutes that, from the time she first
saw him, the horseman was occupied in riding to the house! Both
Sir Edgar and Don Felix were in the room; but though she felt
assured, from the very outset, that the horseman was a messenger
from Hildebrand, she was afraid to call their attention to his
appearance, lest they should perceive her agitation. She was
still looking out of the casement, when, with a beating heart,
she heard old Adam enter the chamber, and approach Don Felix.
The next moment, the voice of Don Felix, whispering her father,
brought all her bright and inspiriting speculations to the ground.

“It is the priest,” he said.

Sir Edgar started up at this announcement; and, together with Don
Felix, and Adam, who was waiting their commands in the matter,
passed out of the chamber. As she heard them make their egress,
Evaline, now perfectly hopeless, drew back from the casement,
and ventured to turn round. She stood still a moment, as if
her despair had deprived her of motion; and then, with frantic
energy, rushed through the open doorway, and repaired to her own
chamber.

There she remained for several hours, alone and undisturbed. At
last, when it had become quite dark, she was joined by Martha,
who came to assist her to bed. Just as she had effected that
object, a slight knock, yet evidently proceeding from an unsteady
hand, was inflicted on the chamber-door.

“’Tis my father,” cried Evaline. “Prithee advertise him, good
Martha, I am marvellous weary now, and would be alone; but I will
be well prepared to-morrow.”

Martha hastened to the door, and, drawing it open, perceived that
their visiter, as Evaline had foretold, was indeed Sir Edgar.
Holding the door in her hand, she informed him, in a low tone,
what Evaline had said, and desired to know his commands.

“’Tis well,” answered Sir Edgar. “Inquire at what hour to-morrow
she will be prepared.”

“At nine of the clock, father!” replied Evaline, distinguishing
what he said. “Till then, God and our Lady have thee in ward!”

“And thee! and thee!” cried Sir Edgar. “We will attend thee in
the morning.”

And on the following morning, precisely at nine o’clock, the
appointed hour, he and Don Felix were in attendance at her
chamber-door. They were not kept waiting long. Shortly after
they had taken their station, the door was opened, and Evaline,
supported by Martha, appeared in the doorway. She was attired in
her most costly habits; but their splendour, on being surveyed
closely, sorted ill with her pallid complexion, and her inflamed
and swollen eyes. Still she had constrained herself to look
somewhat animated. She even smiled as she greeted her father, and
readily accepted the support which, on her coming fairly into the
passage, was proffered to her by Don Felix.

Leaning on the arm of that person, and followed by Sir Edgar
and Martha, she passed on to the chapel, which was on the floor
beneath. But her resolution began to waver as she entered the
chapel. Don Felix, though she still held his arm, paused at the
chapel-door, and suffered Sir Edgar and Martha to pass on before
them. He then secured the door.

Wretched and horrified as she had been all along, Evaline now
felt, in the severance of the last association with hope, a new
and more terrible anguish, and the full wretchedness of her
situation seemed to reveal itself only at this moment. But she
had no time for reflection. The priest, who had entered the
chapel before them, was waiting her at the altar; her father
began to look pale and anxious; and Don Felix, though with more
gentleness than his wont, led her trembling forward.

She stood at the altar quite unconscious of the awful rite that
was in progress: she did not hear a word--she did not see a thing
that was passing: her whole sense and energy--her very principle
of life, were bound in the torpor of despair.

The priest took up her hand. The fearful horror and utter
hopelessness of her situation, to which she had for a moment
appeared insensible, now burst upon her again. Her heart seemed
to leap to her mouth, and to force her, in spite of herself, to
say aloud--“O, God! hast thou forsaken me?”

The words had hardly escaped her, when a loud and prolonged
knocking, that made the building ring, was inflicted on the
chapel-door.

“’Tis he! ’tis he!” screamed Evaline.

So speaking, she broke away from the priest, and darted towards
the chapel-door. Before she could reach it, however, Sir Edgar,
who was scarcely less agitated than she was, sprang after her,
and arrived at the door first.

“Who knocks?” he demanded.

“In the name of our sovereign lady the Queen, open the door,” was
the reply.

The voice was Bernard Gray’s.



CHAPTER IX.


Master Shedlock, on fastening the lower door of the hall behind
him, in the manner set forth heretofore, resumed his progress,
and passed on to the kitchen. There, as was already made
manifest, he found Abigail and Zedekiah, whom his appearance
quite diverted from their design of ejecting the cut onion.

Abigail was the first to recover herself.

“What ails thee, master?” she cried.

“She’s dead!” answered Shedlock. “I have seen her spirit.”

“Mean’st thou mistress?” demanded Abigail, earnestly.

“She’s dead!” repeated Shedlock.

“Go to! she was a good mistress!” cried Abigail, bursting into
tears. “I will go see her.”

Shedlock seized her by the arm. “Woman, she’s dead, I tell thee!”
he cried. “Go get some neighbours to lay her out.”

Abigail made no reply, but, as he dropped his hold of her arm,
stepped towards the rearward door, and proceeded on the errand
he had charged her with. He remained stationary himself, with
his eyes fixed on the open door, in evident abstraction and
bewilderment, for upwards of half an hour. After that interval,
Abigail returned, accompanied by two other women, tenants of
a neighbouring cottage, whom she had brought to assist her in
laying out her mistress.

“Shall we go see her now?” she asked of Shedlock.

“Ay,” replied the Puritan. “And let some one stay with her till
her burying.”

Zedekiah, who had hitherto stood perfectly still, as if he had
not understood what was passing, here gave a slight start.

“Look you this be minded,” continued Shedlock: “so shall my heart
be at rest.”

Rest? his heart was never to be at rest again! The fearful
visitation which he believed himself to have been subject to, in
the last farewell of his deceased wife, was impressed too vividly
on his mind, and had given too violent a shock to his long-sealed
conscience, to suffer him to rest a moment. What a terrible
retribution had one brief instant brought upon him! In the midst
of his pride, in the height of health, with every pleasure and
enjoyment that riches could purchase within his reach, and with
all the pomp and allurements of the seductive world open to him,
the man who believed himself to be only a creature of the time,
and entirely free from all responsibility, was a prey to the
liveliest pangs and terrors of remorse.

The tremendous mystery of nature was unveiled in his bosom, at
last. In vain did he strive to turn from it; in vain did he
strive to stifle, with the specious sophistries of atheism,
that ever-living and irradicable conviction of responsibility,
which it stamped in the very life-blood of his heart. He might
persuade himself that he believed it to be false; he might say,
as he had often said before, that it was the mere effect of early
impressions; but the awful inspiration rose up still, and, in
spite of all he could think, say, or do, would win and fasten on
his attention.

Whoever has looked close into his own heart, in the silence of
midnight, when its admirable machinery may be best observed,
will have noted how hard it is to fix it on any one thought, and
what a variety of ideas assail us at once. Can he see in this
distraction no trace of supernatural influences? When, in spite
of his very utmost exertion, the thought that he would pursue
is suddenly invaded by another--when the good intention he would
dwell upon becomes associated with corruption--when his virtuous
resolution is overtaken by an allurement to vice, his best and
most generous sympathies, as they are on the very eve of ripening
into effect, stifled by an egregious vanity--does he not, in this
situation, feel that he is of himself like a mariner without a
compass, and that his heart needs a higher and greater Power at
its helm? If he be a reasonable being, such must, beyond all
dispute, be his natural conclusion; and he will feel no less
assured, that that Power is at his hand, and only awaits his
invocation to lend him effectual succour.

Even Shedlock was not abandoned. Nature, bursting the trammels he
had imposed upon her, unfolded herself to his eye in her native
perfectness; conscience sought to arouse him to the truth; but
now, when a last hope was extended to him, he wished to believe
it false; and what should have prostrated him in adoration,
overwhelmed him with horror.

The awful adventure of the morning had unnerved him, and, in the
superstitious spirit already ascribed to him, he thought that the
apparition of his wife, which he believed it to have revealed,
was a warning that his own end was approaching. How could he
die?--he, whose whole life, as far as his memory could carry him
back, had been one course of guilt? Yet why could he not die,
if to die, as he persuaded himself he believed, were to end--to
dissolve into the elements, and be no more? There was a doubt--a
craven doubt,--and that withheld him.

When Abigail and her two helpmates proceeded to his deceased
wife’s chamber, and he was thus, as he believed, protected from a
repetition of his recent ghostly adventure, he ventured to return
to his dormitory. A bible was lying on his toilet-table, and,
on his entry, was the first object that, in his survey of the
chamber, seemed to interest him. It was open, and, after musing a
moment, something whispered him, in pursuance of the thoughts he
had been following, that it was a book of lies, and he determined
to shut it up. He approached it with that view; but, as he caught
up the cover, his eye involuntarily turned on the open page, and
there read these words--“Thou fool! this night thy soul shall be
required of thee!”

Shedlock drew back appalled. In the mood he was in, the passage
appeared to him like “the handwriting on the wall;” and yet, by a
singular and unaccountable infatuation, he rejected the authority
of the volume by which it was furnished. He tried to ponder on
other things, but, the more he sought to divert his thoughts,
the more did the one terrible fear of death, which had taken
possession of his heart, grow and twine round them, and taint
each individual reflection with its harrowing horror.

He became even more unnerved on the approach of night. Afraid to
remain alone, he directed Zedekiah, in a tone that admitted of
no question, to make up another bed in his chamber, and there
watch him during the night. His injunction was fulfilled, but the
precaution suggested by his fears, and from which he had hoped to
have derived a degree of assurance, had no effect on his mind,
and, however he might strive to compose it, it still would offer
no thought but the one racking anticipation of approaching death.

He was quite without hope: even life itself, if it should be
extended to him, had lost its charm--it could no more present to
him the image of reality. As this reflection occurred to him, his
heart burned again, and he asked himself why, if it were to bear
on him like a burden, he should continue to endure life. Only the
fear of what might succeed it could make it any way tolerable.
Did he believe, then, that it was but the prelude to another
existence? No! certainly not! For what reason, then, should he
cling to it?

Such were the speculations that, almost in spite of his own
will, shot through his fevered mind, over and over again, as he
tossed restlessly on his pillow. He tried to shake them off, but
they held to him, notwithstanding, with the grasp of giants.
Thus, sweating with horror, he continued till near midnight: the
burden then surpassed all endurance; and, muttering a blasphemous
execration, he sprang from the bed, and staggered out on the
floor.

As he came to a stand, he fell back against the toilet-table. He
was about to raise himself, when his hand, in moving round the
table, knocked against some extraneous substance, and he caught
it up. It was a razor.

“’Twere a good thing, now, to end all,” he said.

Thus speaking, he drew the razor open, and raised it to his
throat. He paused a moment, and then, with a perfectly steady
hand, dashed the deadly blade into his flesh, and cut his throat
right across. A loud yell rang in his ear, and he fell back a
corpse.



CHAPTER X.


On the evening following the suicide of Shedlock, shortly after
dusk, the mild and benevolent Master Craftall, the partner of
that ill-fated man, was sitting at the desk of his countinghouse,
evidently in expectation of some visiter. He had not been sitting
thus long, when a door behind him, leading into the street, was
suddenly pushed open, and the visiter he had been expecting
rushed in.

The stranger paused on his entry, and, previous to advancing into
the chamber, closed and bolted the door. He then turned round,
and confronted Craftall.

In the situation which he now took up, the light on the
neighbouring desk, at which Craftall had just before been
sitting, poured full upon him, and thus discovered his
proportions. He was a tall man; and his figure (for, as he
was habited in a long cloak, the precise fact could not be
ascertained) appeared to be stout, and to correspond with his
height. His features were sharp, and harsh; and his eyes, which
were remarkably small, emitted a bright and unnatural lustre,
such as might indicate a disposition to insanity. His years,
judging from his appearance, might be about fifty, but, as he
was now breathless, and, withal, seemed to be greatly agitated,
he might look older than he was, and be really some five years
younger.

Craftall had started up on his entry, and, observing him to be
discomposed, began to look somewhat agitated himself.

“What hath happed, holy father?” he asked.

“I have been dogged since I went forth,” answered the
priest--for, as will have been inferred, such he was; “and have
had but a near escape.”

“Wast thou followed hard by?” asked Craftall, alarmed.

“Almost to the door,” replied the priest. “And only that my hour
had not yet come, I had been well content, in my heart, to have
rendered me up, and found on the gibbet a crown of glory.”

“_Ave Maria!_” ejaculated Craftall, crossing himself.

“_Eripe me, Domine!_” cried the priest, also crossing himself.
“Shall we heed this corrupt body in the service of Holy Church?
Would the gibbet were now”----

Here a loud knock was inflicted on the door.

“Hush!” whispered Craftall, in a trembling voice.

The priest, whose countenance had just before beamed with the
loftiest resolution, crouched with terror.

“’Tis the persecutor!” he faltered.

“Hie thee within, then, holy father!” stammered Craftall,
beseechingly.

Whether it was that his hour had not yet come, or that the
persecutor, however contemptible in the distance, appeared
formidable at close quarters, the priest readily embraced this
advice, and passed through the inner door to another chamber.
When he had thus disappeared, Craftall, with more composure of
manner, proceeded to the outer door, and there demanded who was
without.

“The servants of the Lord,” answered a harsh voice.

This answer, though so indefinite, greatly disturbed Craftall,
and confirmed him in the impression he had conceived, that the
persons calling themselves the servants of the Lord were what he
considered the Lord’s enemies, and, in short, were no other than
the persecutors. But, whatever they might be, one thing he was
assured of, and that was, that it would be highly injudicious to
give them any offence; and, consequently, he determined to admit
them on the instant.

“I am not worthy that ye should come under my roof,” he cried;
“yet a good man, one worthy Master Chatter, cometh hither oft,
and telleth me glad tidings of Israel.”

With these conciliatory words, he drew open the door, when, to
his amazement, the servants of the Lord who entered were, not the
persons whom he had expected, but the servants of his partner
Shedlock.

Abigail and Zedekiah, without pausing at the door, pushed past
him to the light, and there turned to salute him. Before they
could carry their purpose into effect, however, Craftall,
recovering from his surprise, ventured to inquire their business.

“What seek ye here?” he demanded.

“They be both departed,” answered Abigail. “The crowner’s quest
sat this morning, and, by their law, _he’s a fellow at sea_.”

“The burying, forsooth, will be at night,” observed Zedekiah,
turning up the whites of his eyes. “Verily, a goodly sight!”

“Whom speak ye of, ye fools?” cried Craftall, enraged.

There lay the mystery. They were, indeed, willing to disclose
the items thereof, but who those items referred to was not to
be elicited so easily. Craftall, however, seeing that something
singular had happened, persevered in his inquiries; and, in the
end, learned from Abigail, who was the more communicative of the
two, that both Dame Shedlock and her husband had ceased to exist.

The tidings were melancholy, and, by his own account, grieved him
exceedingly, but they were not without consolatory points. If,
by the death of Shedlock, he had been bereaved of a dear friend,
his mental loss might still turn to his personal profit, and
he might augment his fortune with that friend’s possessions.
Shedlock, he knew, had left no heir; and, by a little management,
which no one would ever inquire into, he might seize on his
property, and appear to succeed to it by a lawful right and title.

“I must back with thee out of hand,” he said to Abigail. “We must
look after the good man’s chattels.”

“The man’s there, and he suffers no lookers,” replied Abigail.

“What man?” demanded Craftall.

“Master Bernard Gray,” answered Abigail.

Craftall changed colour. After a brief pause, however, he seemed
to recover himself, and resumed his conversation with Abigail.
He then learned, to his surprise, that Bernard had claimed all
the property of his late partner for some unknown heir, and,
in pursuance of that claim, had sealed up the papers of the
deceased, and taken possession of his house. His chagrin was
unbounded at this unexpected intelligence. Yet what could he do?
Bernard, it was to be feared, acted on authority; and even if he
did not, how could he, whom Bernard could impeach as a recusant,
dare to molest him?

While he was pondering how he should proceed, it suddenly
occurred to him, that, though he could not possess himself of
Shedlock’s estate, he might secure his share in their mercantile
investments, and so increase his wealth even yet more. But would
Bernard be blind to such a glaring fraud? As the inquiry struck
him, he conceived a scheme of aggrandizement also. He remembered,
with a smile, that a ship was about to be despatched from Topsham
to the plantations, and in her he could bestow all that he could
scrape together, and proceed to a shore beyond Bernard’s reach.

On conceiving this scheme, he briefly dismissed Abigail and
Zedekiah, and determined to put it on foot without delay. Several
days elapsed, however, before he could make any progress,
although, in the mean time, he spared no effort to carry it fully
out. He arranged with the captain of the vessel, a man after
his own heart, respecting his passage, and secured his aid in
removing his chattels. But, though the captain afforded him his
cordial support, his project still went on slowly, as it was
expedient, he thought, that it should be executed by night, so as
not to excite the suspicions of the townspeople. Moreover, the
assets of the firm, being invested in various ways, could not be
quickly converted into cash, and hence accrued to him another
source of delay. For a week, however, all went on smoothly
enough, when, one night, as he was sitting in his countinghouse,
speculating how he could best dispose of what assets remained, he
was startled by a knock at the door.

He hesitated a moment before he answered the summons, but then,
whatever had caused his hesitation, he became reassured, and,
without inquiring who was without, he drew the door open. A
cavalier, little taller than himself, and muffled in a long
cloak, appeared in the doorway, and demanded to know if that were
the residence of Master Craftall.

“It is,” answered Craftall: “I am he.”

“I would speak with thee apart, then,” replied the cavalier.

And though Craftall proffered him no invitation to enter, he
pushed rudely by him, and passed into the chamber.

“Be not afeard,” he said; “but close the door. I am a friend.”

There was something in the stranger’s manner that, in spite of
himself, overawed Craftall, and he obeyed his injunction without
hesitation.

“Now, prithee lead me to holy father Paul,” pursued the stranger,
when Craftall had closed the door.

The recusant merchant started.

“I tell thee, I am a friend,” continued the stranger. “Were I
aught else, would I come to thee by night, and alone? I am a
foreigner, a true son of the church, by name Felix di Corva.”

Craftall pointed to the inner door of the room. “Thou wilt find
him in the chamber beyond,” he said.

Don Felix--for the stranger was indeed he--made no reply, but
hastened towards the door pointed at. He did not pause to knock,
but, on arriving at the door, opened it at once, and passed in.
As he crossed the threshold, he drew the door close behind him.

Craftall remained perfectly still till the door was closed, when,
with a stealthy step, he also proceeded thitherwards. On reaching
it, however, he did not draw it open, but, bending on one knee,
knelt down before it, and applied his ear to the keyhole. He
continued in this posture till, after an interval of about half
an hour, a noise within induced him to rise, and retreat to the
contiguous desk. Just as he arrived at the desk, the door was
opened from within, and Don Felix reappeared.

Craftall pretended to be startled on his entry; but the Spaniard,
full of other thoughts, took no heed of him, but passed across
the chamber in silence. On reaching the outer door, he turned
round, and bade the wondering merchant a good-night.

“God-den, Sir!” replied Craftall. “May our Lady and St. Bridget”--

He paused; for Don Felix, not looking for a response, had passed
out, and closed the door in his rear.

On being thus left to himself, Craftall mused a few moments,
when, though it was contrary to his habit, he began to deliver
his thoughts aloud.

“A week hence,” he said; “and the holy father is to go the night
afore. ’Twill just serve me. We shall sail the same night.”

Whatever he might refer to, he dismissed the subject with these
words, and directed his attention to a contiguous heap of
accounts. He was engaged at the accounts till the night was far
advanced; and the next morning, after having taken only a few
hours’ rest, he turned to them again. Thus he laboured, night and
day, with unceasing vigilance, till he found that his scheme was
almost accomplished, and that he had now only to remove his last
treasures to the ship.

It was on the sixth morning after the visit of Don Felix that
this issue came fairly before him. While he was pondering
thereon, he was joined by father Paul, the priest, booted and
cloaked for a journey.

“Whither goest thou, holy father?” cried Craftall, with affected
surprise--for he well knew the priest’s destination.

“To a fold of the faithful,” answered Paul. “But I cannot tarry
to speak further; for, by my appointment, a man awaits me now,
with a horse, at the city-gate. _Benedicite!_”

“Good morrow!” rejoined Craftall.

The priest had passed out of hearing; and Craftall, now quit of
all impediment, rubbed his hands with glee.

He had the day before him, and he failed not to turn it to
account. In the first place, he arranged with the captain, whom
he had completely bought over to his interests, to have some
sailors at hand that night, at an early hour, to carry off his
last luggage; and, in the mean time, he spared no effort to get
the luggage ready. He laboured so earnestly, that shortly after
nightfall, at which time he had appointed the captain to be
prepared, his object was achieved, and he only waited the arrival
of the sailors to take his departure. It seemed that fortune
favoured him, for hardly had he finished packing, when, to his
great satisfaction, a knock on the outer door, in his rear, led
him to believe that the sailors were at hand.

“Enter!” he cried.

The door opened, and there entered--not the sailors, but Bernard
Gray.

Craftall drew back as, after throwing-to the door, Bernard
approached him. They had not met since the occasion described
in a former chapter; and though, contrary to his expectations,
Bernard had never denounced him to the Government, he had lived
in constant apprehension of such a result ever since. Bernard’s
appearance at this moment, just as he was on the point of
absconding, completely took him aback, and he saw him draw nigh
without the power of accosting him.

“Be under no fear!” cried Bernard, perceiving his discomposure.
“I have kept thy secret, and will never betray thee!”

Craftall was reassured by these words, albeit, judging of
Bernard by himself, he had no notion that they sprang from any
sentiment of compassion, but supposed that, though it did not
appear on the instant, Bernard was making him an overture,
under which he sought to advance some interest of his own. At
another time he would gladly have associated with Bernard, while
it should serve his purpose, on terms so favourable; but his
object now was, at any hazard, to get him out of the way, and
so have the stage clear for his departure. There was only one
way, he thought, in which such an object could be accomplished;
and that was, by betraying his ghostly friend, the priest. He
would have shrunk from this alternative, indeed, under ordinary
circumstances--not from any feeling of honour, but, what weighed
more with him, from the scruples of superstition; but his dread
of ulterior retribution, if it occurred to him at all, now sank
under his apprehension of present detection.

“I thank thee, good Master Gray,” he said. “’Tis what I looked
for at thy hands; for a certain friend of mine, one Master
Pry, hath commended thee to me in this wise very oft. Truly, I
have repented me of the evil, and will sin no more. I see thou
doubtest me! But”----

“Peace! peace!” cried Bernard. “I sought thee on another matter,
concerning the affairs of thy sometime partner.”

“Anon; we will discourse of them anon,” replied Craftall. “Now,
to give thee assurance of my amendment, let me tell thee where,
to my knowledge, a seminary-priest is in hiding.”

“Let him be!” returned Bernard. “He hath a licence, no doubt; and
even if he have not, ’twould be a hard matter, I dare affirm, to
seize him in the discharge of his functions.”

“I tell thee, he hath no licence,” said Craftall,
impatiently--for he expected to be visited by the sailors every
moment. “Moreover, an’ thou wilt be guided by me, thou shalt
seize him in the exercise of his office. To-morrow morning, he
marries a cavalier of Spain, one Felix di Corva, to Mistress
Evaline de Neville.”

Bernard started.

“Art advised of this?” he cried.

“An’ it be not true, denounce me!” exclaimed Craftall, solemnly.

“I must to horse straight, then!” said Bernard. “Here is some
devilry at work!”

He turned away with these words, and, without further speech,
made for the door, and darted into the street.

“Ha! ha!” cried Craftall. “’Tis a good deed! ’Tis well done!”

That night he sailed for America.



CHAPTER XI.


It was the eighth hour of the morning before Bernard arrived at
Lantwell. Though his horse was jaded, he did not draw up before
his own house, but proceeded, at a pretty brisk canter, to the
upper end of the village. There, a short distance from the
church, he came to a small cottage, similar to his own, before
which he reined up, and alighted.

“So ho, there!” he cried, knocking at the door. “Gaffer Peters!
So ho!”

“Anon! anon!” cried a voice within.

Several minutes intervened, however, before the door was
opened. A short, stout man, about the middle age, then made his
appearance, and, discerning Bernard, hastily stepped out to the
road.

“Give thee good morrow, fair master!” he cried. “What hath gone
wrong?”

“Never thou heed what, Master Headborough!” replied Bernard; “but
don thy cap, and mount thee up behind me.”

“But the law, Master Gray--the law of the matter?” inquired the
constable. “Look you, an’ it be a simple matter of robbery, thou
must needs have a warrant, as I take it, ere thou mayst take the
thief.”

“Wilt thou come?” demanded Bernard.

“Prithee, be advised as to the law,” urged the constable. “We
have adjudged in the instance of robbery. Now, look you, if it be
a matter of battery by assault”--

“’Tis neither robbery nor assault,” cried Bernard. “’Tis
an offence against the state; and if thou don not thy cap
incontinently, I must even take thee without it.”

“Go to!” remonstrated the constable. “An’ it were but robbery and
battery, the law, as thou sayest, were easy enough; but”--

He was still speaking, when, overcome with impatience, Bernard
caught him up in his arms, and threw him, perforce, across the
shoulders of his horse.

“Go to, thou!” he cried. “Settle thee afore the saddle, or, while
thou pratest here, the offender will escape. Thou hadst better be
hanged than that should be!”

The tone of his voice, and the dread which, in common with all
his neighbours, he entertained of Bernard’s character, reduced
the loquacious constable to immediate obedience, and, without
further parley, he disposed himself in the manner directed.
Bernard sprang up behind him, and then, seizing the bridle,
clapped spurs to his horse, and set forward for Neville Grange.

By the carriage-road, which was circuitous, the distance was
considerable, and occupied him nearly an hour. Ultimately,
however, he got over it, and, spurring through the gateway, and
up the adjoining avenue, reined up before the hall-door.

The tramp of the horse’s feet, which the hard, dry road carried
some distance, quickly brought out several of the servants, and,
among them, old Adam Green. That person, to the surprise of the
others, recognised Bernard as an acquaintance, and hastened to
salute him.

“Are they wedded yet, Master Adam?” asked Bernard, on his
approach.

“’Tis now in course,” answered Adam.

Bernard alighted at a bound.

“Down with thee, thou loon!” he cried to the astonished
constable, seizing him by the arm:--“down, I say!”

There was no use in resisting, and the constable, maugre the
dignity and state of his office, was obliged to give way, and
descend to the ground.

“Now, Master Adam, lead us to them!” said Bernard.

“For her sake, I will!” answered Adam. “Follow!”

He turned towards the hall-door; and Bernard, and the constable,
grasped by Bernard’s hand, followed in his wake. Entering the
hall, he passed up the contiguous stairs, and led the way to the
chapel.

On arriving at the chapel-door, Bernard, who now came first,
tried to open it, but found that it was secured within. He
then inflicted on it that summons which, as was set forth in
a preceding chapter, called Sir Edgar to a parley, and so
opportunely interrupted the progressing marriage.

His demand to be admitted in the name of the Queen, couched in
the terms already recorded, raised in the breasts of the several
inmates the wildest and most conflicting feelings. Sir Edgar,
however, being unconscious of having transgressed the law, would
have opened the door without hesitation; but, as he placed his
hand on the bolt, the priest called to him to forbear.

“Let me first don my cloak and peruke,” the priest said, drawing
those articles of disguise from behind the altar. “My hour is not
yet come.”

Though he appeared to be palsied with fear, he lost no time,
after he had caught the cloak and wig up, in donning his
disguise, and quickly set it in order.

“Now,” he said to Sir Edgar, as he quitted the suspicious
vicinity of the altar, and sprang into the middle of the chapel,
“thou mayst admit them.”

Sir Edgar withdrew the bolt, and, stepping back a pace, the door
was pushed open. The next moment, Bernard, and Master Peters, the
constable, with Adam Green, passed into the chapel.

Bernard’s eye swept round the chapel at a glance. But on the face
of Evaline, who was standing right before him, a pace or two
removed from the door, it came to a pause, and seemed to dive to
her very heart. It needed little penetration, when thus viewing
her features, to see how her heart was moved, and how completely
it had given itself over to despair. Even shame could not shake
that despair; and though, it is true, she could not endure to
meet and answer his glance, and had turned her eyes on the floor,
her complexion displayed no shade of confusion, but continued
locked in impenetrable pallor.

Bernard’s bosom swelled as he gazed upon her, and his manly
features, which had just before been flushed with rage, assumed a
softer expression, and beamed with tenderness and sympathy.

“Which of ye hath done this?” he cried, pointing at Evaline.

Don Felix, who had hitherto been perfectly passive, here stepped
forward a pace, and interposed.

“By what right, Sir, dost thou ask?” he demanded. “Nay, by what
right art thou here at all?”

“Hold thee quiet, Sir Spaniard!” answered Bernard. “I could
approve my right, an’ it so contented me, out of hand, and on no
other person than thine own.”

Don Felix started.

“Whoever thou mayst be,” cried Sir Edgar, stepping in to his
kinsman’s rescue, “it is but meet”--

“Give me leave a while,” interrupted Bernard. “’Tis with thee I
would speak, Mistress de Neville. I ask thee here, afore God and
man, is this marriage to proceed?”

He paused for a reply; but Evaline, whether she was sensible of
what he said, or not, was silent as marble.

“Is the marriage to proceed, mistress?” repeated Bernard.

Evaline, without lifting her eyes from the floor, sank on her
knees before him, and raised her clasped hands in the air.

“I am a poor, lost maid!” she said, in a hollow voice.

“Enough!” exclaimed Bernard.

Without a word more, he pushed past her, and turned towards the
priest. On coming up with him, he first glanced earnestly in his
face; and then, as if assured that he was not mistaken, extended
his hand, and slapped him lustily on his shoulder.

“John Paul,” he said, “I attach thee, as a seminary priest, of
high treason! Master Headborough do thine office!”

A dead silence followed the utterance of these words, and the
awful fate with which they threatened the priest, and which was
no less than an ignominious death, seemed to strike each of the
auditors with dejection and terror. But the silence was of brief
duration. The priest then, as if all resolution had failed him,
fell on his knees, and raised his hands in supplication.

“Oh, spare me!” he cried, with chattering teeth. “I did it from
no harm, but for the love of God. The spirit which moved me
thereto is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

“Thou shouldst have thought of that afore,” said Bernard. “Thou
hast come hither, at thine own peril, to war against our anointed
Queen, and thou must abide by the issue.”

As he thus delivered himself, a cry of agony, which made his
heart thrill again, broke on his ear. Turning round, he perceived
(what his fears had led him to anticipate) that it had proceeded
from Evaline, who was now stretched senseless on the floor.

Sir Edgar and Don Felix, who were only a pace or two distant,
quickly sprang to the assistance of the forlorn girl, as did
Martha also. Lifting her up, they discovered that she had
swooned.

“Let us bear her to her chamber,” said Sir Edgar. “If she recover
here, the scene may shock her again.”

Accordingly, they caught her in their arms, and, without further
speech, raised her up between them, and bore her from the chapel.
Adam Green, who had assisted them to raise her, was about to
follow them, when Bernard called him back.

“Master Adam,” said Bernard, with a significant look, “hast
thou never a cup of liquor, in this noble mansion, for Master
Headborough here. Prithee, an’ thou lovest me, take him to thy
larder, and let him refresh awhile.”

“A right excellent instance,” remarked the constable. “The law
stands, sirs”--

“Come thou with me,” interposed Adam.

The constable, seeing in the “instance” the promise of a cup of
liquor, to which even law might be considered a secondary matter,
readily agreed, and suffered Adam to lead him forth. When they
had passed out, Bernard appeared to muse a moment, and then,
arousing himself, glanced anxiously round the chapel.

His eye, after it had once swept round, rested on a large window,
immediately behind the altar. As he regarded it closely, he
discerned that, in the centre, on the main bar of the frame,
there was a small asp, or brace, by withdrawing which the window
could be opened. When he perceived this, he stepped up to the
window, and surveyed it more accurately. The result, to his great
satisfaction, confirmed his expectations; and on raising his hand
to the asp, he was able to throw the window open, and look out.
His _reconnoissance_, though it was brief, evidently afforded him
considerable pleasure, and he turned away from the window with a
bright smile.

Meantime, the priest, thinking that his fate was decided, lay
trembling on the floor, quite speechless with despair. Bernard’s
eye fell upon him as he turned round; but he had no opportunity,
if he had been even inclined, to contemplate him long; for just
as his glance dropped upon him, a slight knock called him to the
chapel-door.

Hastily drawing the door open, he found, as he had expected, that
the person without was Adam Green.

“I have bestowed away the constable,” whispered Adam. “What
wouldst thou further?”

“Hast thou ever a horse for the priest here?” answered Bernard.

“His own is i’ the stable,” replied Adam.

“Saddle it quick, then,” said Bernard; “and leave it under the
chapel-window.”

“Our Lady reward thee!” returned Adam. “I will do ’t.”

He entered on the task thereupon. In about a quarter of an hour,
he returned, and informed Bernard, who had waited for him in the
passage, that the horse was bestowed according to his directions.

“Then go thou now, and bring me word how it fares with thy
mistress,” said Bernard. “Meantime, I will start the priest.”

Without a word more, he broke away, and passed into the chapel.
The priest, though still prostrate, looked up as he entered, and
Bernard beckoned him to rise.

“Come to the window a space,” he said, “and I will show thee
somewhat.”

The priest, trembling with fear, raised himself up, and followed
him to the window. It was still open, and, through the aperture,
he descried, at a little distance, on a contiguous lawn, his own
horse, saddled for service.

“Is that thy horse?” asked Bernard.

“It is,” faltered the priest.

“I’faith, thou couldst almost mount him from here,” said
Bernard. “In a matter of life and death, a man could leap twenty
feet, methinks, any day.”

“Would I might do it!” cried the priest.

He raised his eyes as he spoke, and glanced imploringly in
Bernard’s face.

“Thou shouldst understand the Word,” said Bernard; “and ’tis now
afore thee:--‘And Michal told David, saying, “If thou save not
thy life to-night, to-morrow thou shalt be slain.” So Michal let
David down through a window; and he went and fled and escaped.’”

A light flashed across the mind of the priest, and, as Bernard
turned towards the door, his despair subsided.

Whatever might be Bernard’s meaning, he passed straight out, and
closed the chapel-door behind him. He found Adam Green in the
passage.

“How is it with Mistress Evaline?” he asked.

“She hath recovered,” answered Adam.

“Then, prithee, go tell her suitor, Don Felix, I would speak
with him awhile,” said Bernard. “But, hold! here comes Master
Headborough.”

The constable, having regaled himself to his heart’s content, was
indeed in view, and shortly came up with them.

“Soh, Master Headborough!” Bernard then cried, “thou hast been
refreshing with a witness! Is ’t thus thou requitest my care of
thee? But no more words! Let us now look to our charge!”

Here he pushed back the door, and, followed by the constable and
Adam, passed into the chapel.

“Soh! what’s here?” he cried.

The window was open, and the priest, whom they were about to
remove to prison, had escaped.



CHAPTER XII.


As the time drew nigh at which the great armada, boastingly
denominated “invincible” might be looked for in the English seas,
Europe stood on the tiptoe of expectation, impatient for the
result. That it would effect the subjugation of England was never
once doubted. But though such was the general expectation, the
world was seized with surprise, no less than admiration, at the
indomitable resolution by which the doomed English were inspired.
They were a nation in arms! The noble and the peasant, the old
man and the boy, the Protestant and the Catholic, forgetting all
differences of rank, age, and religion, had alike risen against
the emergency, and were all alike prepared to stand and die in
defence of their country.

Yet it was on their great Queen, and her able minister, Burleigh,
that admiration was especially fixed. To them, no exertion seemed
too arduous--no amount of effort wearisome. While Burleigh,
in his closet, struck out the resources of the country, or
negotiated for aid with the Prince of Orange and the King of
Scotland, Elizabeth’s perseverance and activity brought those
resources into play. The effect of her example might be traced in
the very meanest of the preparations for the national defence.
She would be seen in the drill-grounds as early as six in the
morning; in the dockyards, where the din of workmen, the smoke
of forges, and a hundred pestilent vapours, seemed to forbid
her approach, she would attend continually, encouraging the
artificers by the most gracious and animating words, and where
fortifications were in progress, she would go among the engineers
unattended, and cheer them to renewed exertion by her words and
presence.

The good effect of her activity was soon apparent; and in less
than four months from the time that the invasion was first
threatened, when the country was almost defenceless, she was
prepared to sustain its onset. A fleet of thirty sail, commanded
by Lord Effingham, with Drake, Hawkins, and Frobisher for his
rear-admirals, was ready for sea at Portsmouth; and about
twenty ships more, under Lord Henry Seymour, were stationed off
Yarmouth, for the purpose of intercepting the Duke of Parma.
A regular army, fifty thousand strong, was encamped in the
neighbourhood of Portsmouth; and one of the same force, including
the flower of the nobility and gentry, serving without pay, was
encamped on the banks of the Thames, near Tilbury. Added to
this, every district had raised a regiment of volunteers; and the
King of Scotland, if his aid should be required, was ready to
cross the border with an army of Scots, and co-operate with the
Queen in her defence of the Protestant faith.

Affairs were thus situated, when it became whispered abroad, from
some unknown source, that, if the expected enemy should effect
a landing, the Queen intended to take the field in person. The
rumour soon acquired confirmation; for a day was fixed, to the
delight of the whole nation, on which the Queen would review
the metropolitan army at Tilbury, and take order in the purpose
ascribed to her.

The extensive level adjoining Tilbury Fort, on the banks of
the Thames, and on the London side of the fort, was appointed
for the scene of the review. There, on the day fixed, the army
assembled, under the command of its general, Lord Hunsdon, at
an early hour. It was a fair morning in June, and the fineness
of the weather, no less than the spectacle itself, and the
expected presence of the idolized sovereign, drew to the spot,
not only all the denizens of the surrounding country, but almost
all the population of the metropolis. Great as the area was,
it hardly sufficed, after the army had taken up its position,
to accommodate the multitude of spectators. The crowd was so
excessive, indeed, that thousands who had come to view the sight,
despairing of obtaining so much as standing-room, would not
venture to land, but sought to obtain a glimpse of the review
from the opposite shore. The little hamlet of Gravesend, which
was right opposite, was crowded with such adventurers, and even
Windmill Hill, a mile to the rearward, was not overlooked, but
was capped by masses of eager spectators.

It was a scene such as the eye had rarely beheld. On one side
appeared the shore of Kent, backed by the height of Windmill
Hill, and falling down towards Gravesend, when it swept round a
graceful curve of the river, in a long, verdant level, towards
the point since called Milton. Then came the river, bright as
a mirror, with its broad bosom, here seeming to expand into a
noble bay, covered with every description of craft, all filled
with passengers, and decked with a thousand streamers. The
grim fortress, bristling with cannon, yet scarcely rising from
the low ground on which it was situated, then prepared one for
the warlike scene beyond. There the spirit thrilled before the
interest and singularity of the expansive prospect. The verdant
heights in the background, running from the village of Tilbury
towards London, sparkled with white tents, and streamer-capped
marquees, forming the army’s camp. On the extensive level in
their front stood the army, fifty thousand strong, and embracing,
as was before stated, the strength and flower of England’s
chivalry. To conclude, the vast area was enclosed, beyond
a picket of volunteer cavalry, by one impenetrable mass of
spectators, men, women, and children, all dressed in their gayest
apparel, and animated by one common feeling of nationality and
patriotism.

Such was the aspect of the locality at the time that, amidst
deafening and renewed acclamations, the royal barges, on board of
which were the Queen and her court, approached the landing-place
of the fortress. A guard of honour was waiting to receive them;
and the commander-in-chief, Lord Hunsdon, with his staff, were
also in attendance. A troop of sumpter-horses, too, under the
charge of the royal equerries, waited close by, and everything
was prepared to convey the Queen to the field.

A salute of one hundred guns was opened as Elizabeth stepped on
the shore. She bowed her head to the guard, who had presented
arms; and then, with a bright smile, extended her hand to the
general, Lord Hunsdon.

“A fair day to you, my Lord General,” she cried. “Are we for the
field to-day?”

“An’ it shall please your Highness to be our leader,” replied the
old warrior.

“That will it, heartily!” returned the Queen. “Ho, for a horse!”

A noble steed, white as snow, and brilliantly caparisoned,
was brought forward immediately, and drawn up before her. She
paused to survey him a moment, and, seemingly pleased with his
appearance, then caught up the rein, and suffered herself to
be raised to the saddle. When she had settled herself on the
saddle, she turned to Lord Hunsdon, and, with a smile, directed
him, as her lieutenant, to mount a horse at her side. The ladies
and cavaliers of her train mounted in her rear, and, the whole
party being horsed, the Queen led the way, in company with Lord
Hunsdon, towards the neighbouring field.

The gate of the fort on the London side, leading to Tilbury
Level, had been thrown wide open, in order that the cavalcade
might sustain no delay; and a strong force of archers, selected
from the Queen’s guard, walled the avenue on either side, so as
to keep it clear of the crowd. But the appearance of the Queen
in the gateway quickly altered this state of things. The guard
of archers was broken through in a moment; the people covered
the lately open avenue like dust; and the roar of the artillery
itself, though proceeding from the adjacent batteries, was lost
in a tremendous shout of “God save the Queen!”

Never before or since were subjects so intoxicated at the
presence of their sovereign. Men threw themselves down before
her, in the dust, to be trampled on by her horse; young gallants
threw up their plumed caps, when, from the density of the crowd,
they could never hope to recover them, merely to show how they
held everything to be hers; and afar off, above a thousand heads,
were seen young children, waving their tiny arms, and invoking
Heaven’s benison on their matchless monarch.

Again and again did the Queen acknowledge, by bowing her head,
and waving her fair hand, the gratification she felt at the
popular greeting; but her courteous responses only prolonged the
enthusiasm of the multitude. To attempt to penetrate the dense
mass seemed to be a project that no one would ever think of: the
poor archers, after one vain effort, relinquished all hope of
opening the Queen a passage, and were content to be jammed up
helpless: only the Queen herself, whose resolution nothing could
subdue, knew how to clear the broken avenue.

Availing herself of a moment when all eyes were fixed on her,
she raised her hand in the air, and the loud acclamations of the
multitude, which had just before made the welkin shake, subsided
into a dead silence.

“Good people, my loving children,” the Queen then cried, “you
must needs let me pass!”

Her words fell on the crowd like magic; a road was opened for her
on the instant; and amidst renewed acclamations, and the thunder
of the contiguous batteries, the monarch and her train passed
forward, and entered the area of the level.

The trumpets and drums sounded a stirring flourish as the
cavalcade appeared before the army. The royal party, after riding
forward a little distance, stationed themselves on the bound of
the area, about half way to Tilbury Hills. There, bowing to the
pommel of his saddle, Lord Hunsdon took a temporary leave of the
Queen, and, together with his staff, spurred to the front, and
advanced to the immediate vicinity of the troops.

The army was drawn up in a line, in order of battle. On the
approach of the general, however, the trumpets sounded for a new
evolution, and the whole body immediately wheeled into companies.
The trumpets and drums then broke into a march, and the gallant
army, still ordered in companies, simultaneously moved forward,
and marched round the area before the Queen.

It was a brilliant spectacle, and there was not one person
present, among the countless thousands of spectators, that it did
not inspire with the noblest determination. The martial music
was itself inspiriting; but the glittering arms of the soldiers,
their varied costumes, and their gallant and fearless bearing,
made the heart bound again, and one derived ardour and courage
from the mere exhibition of war.

Having marched round the area, the army was, by another flourish
of trumpets, wheeled once more into line. It formed close at
first, but quickly took open order. As it did so, the Queen and
her train, attended by Lord Hunsdon, galloped to the front, and
rode along before the first rank. Thus passing forward, she came
to the end of the line, and then, wheeling about, turned between
the open files, and proceeded to inspect the rear rank. This,
though not so select, appeared to satisfy her no less than the
foremost one, and she spurred to the front again with a bright
smile.

A loud flourish was sounded as she once more appeared in the
front. A dead pause ensued, when the Queen, raising her voice to
its highest pitch, broke the silence.

“Soldiers!” she cried--“You have heard that the enemy you are
to meet, from his surpassing numbers, and long acquaintance
with war, is deemed invincible; but let not that give you
discouragement. I, a woman, here throw by my sex, and all care
for my own person, to be your leader. Yes, I myself, your Queen,
will be your general, your judge, and the rewarder of every one
of your virtues in the field. Your alacrity has already deserved
its rewards, and, on the word of a prince, they shall be duly
paid to you. Persevere, then, in your obedience to command; and
we shall soon have a victory over those enemies of my God, my
kingdom, and my people.”

Her words fell on the ears of the soldiers like an electric
shock; there was a pause for an instant; then rose one tremendous
shout, from the whole fifty thousand voices, of--“We will! we
will.” The shout was caught up by the surrounding spectators; it
was reverberated from the opposite shore; and from the summit of
Windmill Hill, above two miles distant, thousands of voices were
heard in chorus, saluting their sovereign with hearty hurrahs.

But the popular enthusiasm suddenly sustained an unexpected
check. As the Queen, after receiving the greeting of the army,
turned her horse to retire, the acclamations of the people
startled the horse, and caused him to rear furiously in the air.
Dropping his feet again, he was about to throw the Queen off,
when two cavaliers, quick as lightning, sprang from the rearward,
and secured his rein. The Queen recovered herself instantly; but,
being seated sideways, she saw but one of the cavaliers who had
rescued her, and supposed that he had done it alone.

“Now, fair befall thee, Raleigh!” she cried, smiling. “Since thou
hast been so prompt, be my equerry as far as the fort, and thou
shalt afterwards, in requital, be my master of the horse.”

“Let me say but a word, my gracious liege,” said Sir Walter
Raleigh. “My Lord Essex”--

“Psha!” cried the Queen, laughing. “Lead on my horse, Sir Groom!”

Sir Walter, with seeming discomposure, led on the horse, which
was now quite pacified, towards the gate of the fort; and the
cavalier who had helped him to rescue the Queen, and who had
unfortunately been overlooked, followed in silence. It was the
Earl of Essex.



CHAPTER XIII.


The discovery that the reputed Don Rafaele, whom he had
supposed to be a gay young bachelor, was no other than his
whilome mistress, Donna Inez, struck Hildebrand Clifford with
consternation. For a moment, indeed, he was perfectly paralysed,
and lost all power of motion. His whole soul and faculties were
bowed before the devoted passion for him which the discovery
revealed. His every spring of thought, as if turned for one only
aim, started under the shock, and, as they thrilled through his
bosom, overwhelmed him with the terrors of remorse.

But though he had been weak enough to err, though the passing
consequence of his error pressed severely on his mind, he was
of that temperament which, however trying the occasion, will
rebound from a shock, and suffer no visitation to shackle its
promptitude. His energies were depressed, but they were not
crushed; and, after the first blow had passed, they revived, and
impelled him to make the only reparation for his trespass, by his
present proceedings, that circumstances allowed of.

“And is it thou, indeed, my sweet lady?” he said, in a thick
voice. “Oh! I have wronged thee most cruelly!”

“Not a whit! not a whit!” faltered Inez. “’Tis rather I that have
wronged thee.”

“Would to God it had been so!” exclaimed Hildebrand. “But let us
not forget thy wound! How fares it with thee?”

While Donna Inez, in a low voice, was giving him a reply,
the silent pantler entered, with a bason of warm water, and
a napkin. Hildebrand then raised her a little; and, keeping
his back to the pantler, succeeded, after some difficulty, in
relieving her of her jacket, and baring her wound to view. He
turned paler as he beheld it:

“Bring hither the water,” he cried to the pantler, “and hold it
up to the berth. Now for thy sponge.”

The pantler, without making any oral answer, presented him with
the sponge, and held the bason of water in the manner directed.
Thus assisted, Hildebrand proceeded, with a tender hand, to wipe
away the blood from the Donna’s wound, and cleanse it thoroughly.
Having effected that object, he drew some lint and salve, such
as was then greatly in use, from the locker below, and therewith
supplied it with a soothing dressing. Over this, to keep off any
irritation, he laid a piece of dry lint, and bound all up with a
bandage.

“Now, will I not let thee speak more till to-morrow,” he said,
when he had thus attended her. “But our good pantler, whom thou
mayst trust in all things, will watch thee through the night, and
get thee whatsoever thou listest. For me, I must hie to the deck.”

Inez was about to reply, but Hildebrand, putting on a serious
look, raised his finger to his lips, and she forbore. Leaving the
pantler to watch her, Hildebrand turned on one side, and caught
up some dry clothes, which, during his absence from the ship, the
careful pantler had laid out against his return. As he had been
exposed to the storm without a cloak, he was wet to the skin;
and even the strong excitement he had been labouring under, and
the robustness and vigour of his frame, though equal to a trying
ordeal, did not render him insensible to the chilling influence
of his saturated garments. The greater need of Inez attended to,
he proceeded to throw them off, and to don those which, he now
discovered, had been set out for his use by the pantler.

He turned away when he had thus changed his attire, and, with a
quick step, passed to the contiguous hatchway, and ascended to
the deck.

The storm had subsided, and the excessive darkness, which had
been its leading and most terrible feature, had materially
diminished. The gale, it is true, continued high, but, as it
swept away the exhausted thunder-clouds, this served rather to
clear the atmosphere, than otherwise. One could now distinguish
the outlines of the shore, and, here and there, the broken sky,
with the clouds flying over it like wind. The water, too, though
not a whit calmer, could be viewed to a greater distance, and
looked a degree less boisterous under the increased light.

While Hildebrand noted these particulars, his eye, in looking
down the river, was attracted to two distinct flashes of light,
which were quickly followed by the report of cannon. Turning to
inquire what this could mean, his glance fell on Master Halyard.

“Save thee, Halyard!” he said. “Didst note yonder signals?”

“Ay, Sir!” answered Halyard. “Two of the enemy, who broke from
their moorings a while ago, have run ashore, and are firing guns
of distress.”

The firing was here repeated.

“It may be our lot soon,” rejoined Hildebrand; “for we must not
be found here at daylight. Think’st thou we can reach the bay?”

“The wind is right aft,” returned Halyard; “and we may,
peradventure, ride down safely. One thing is certain--that we
cannot hold our ground; for our cable, though no chamber-cord, is
dragging apace, and will speedily snap.”

“Slip it, then!” said Hildebrand. “Have up all the hands, and do
thou look out for’ard thyself. I will take the helm.”

“Ay, ay, Sir!” replied Halyard.

And so promptly did he bestir himself, that, in less than ten
minutes afterwards, Hildebrand’s injunctions were carried into
effect; Hildebrand had posted himself at the helm; and the ship
was riding down the river, as near the centre as he could keep
her, under bare poles.

It was a fearful position, but, as the river gradually widened,
the danger decreased every moment. The scene, however, was
still terrific, and sufficient to appal the stoutest heart. The
gloomy light, the black shore, the two stranded ships, which
the eye could now plainly distinguish, and the boom of the guns
of distress, with the furious bellowing of the wind, and the
raging waves, made one feel like a mite in the creation, and
perfectly at the mercy of the elements. Moreover, the wind
being right aft, and the waves, though not high, running in
what would technically be called a cross-sea, caused the ship
to pitch so violently, that the crew, notwithstanding they were
inured to such situations, could hardly maintain their places on
the deck, and were obliged to hold on for support to contiguous
belaying-pins, and well-secured halyards.

Still the indomitable captain, with one foot planted firmly
against a prostrate grating, which was pushed up to the ship’s
bulwark, maintained his place at the helm. It required his utmost
vigour to make the helm obey him, but so iron-bound was his
frame, and so unbending his promptitude, that, with the help of
the wind, he mastered all opposition, and kept the ship in the
mid-channel.

The gallant bark flew along like an arrow. She soon passed the
two wrecks, and, after an interval of about two hours, came in
sight of the fortress, described in a former chapter, which
guards the river’s mouth. The crew hardly ventured to breathe as
she arrived abreast of the all-commanding castle. But, to their
great relief, she encountered no molestation, but shot over the
bar unscathed.

The inspirited mariners burst into a hearty hurrah at this happy
deliverance; and Master Halyard, relieved from his look-out,
hastened to join Hildebrand, and congratulate him on their almost
miraculous escape.

To a landsman, by whom their position could not be understood,
there would have seemed but small ground for congratulation.
They were in the Bay of Biscay, and the wind, now unbroken by
any heights, which had bordered either side of the river, blew
a perfect gale. The ship, though running under bare poles, was
up in the air on one side, and almost touched the water on the
other; and the sea rose up beyond like a great wall. High as it
was reared, one could hear it curling at the top, with a long,
shrill roar; and what withheld it from at once dashing on the
ship, and overwhelming it in destruction, appeared to be a
singular and unfathomable mystery.

But, to the eyes of the mariners, these particulars, in reality,
presented little danger. They had a good ship, a fair offing,
and plenty of room; and though, of course, brighter weather
would have been more welcome, their present situation was not so
perilous, and gave them little serious concern.

Hildebrand resigned the helm to his mate, Tom Tarpaulin, as
Halyard came up. He received that person cordially, but, after a
few words’ greeting, tarried only to enjoin him to set a careful
watch, and then retired to his cabin.

Worn out as he was, and with every fibre aching with fatigue,
the first thought that assailed him, on fairly entering the
cabin, was solicitude for Inez. Moved by this feeling, he pushed
past the pantler, who sat watching on the locker, and, with a
stealthy step, approached the fair sufferer’s resting-place.

She was awake, and her eyes, looking up at his approach, met his.
He saw, at a glance, that she was burning with fever.

She did not offer to speak, and, after one hasty glance at her
face, Hildebrand turned away, and stepped back to the pantler.

“Be vigilant!” he said to that person. “She will want a drink
anon, and thou must give her something cool. I must to bed, or
sink.”

With these words, he turned to the adjacent berth; and without
taking off his clothes, which were perfectly dry and warm, threw
himself on the bed. Thus bestowed, he tried to meditate, and
to call up to his eye, in melancholy array, the several causes
for sorrow and dejection which his situation embraced. But,
however earnestly he sought to arouse himself, his energies
were so utterly prostrated, and his frame so wearied, that his
endeavours at meditation were unsuccessful, and he had hardly
laid fairly down, when he was overtaken by sleep.

It was daylight before he awoke. Springing to the floor, he found
that, after having been awake the whole night, Inez had at last
fallen into a slumber.

As he proceeded to achieve his toilet, he called to mind, with a
thrill of remorse, all that Inez had disclosed to him, and how
far he was responsible for the wretchedness of her position. What
a bitter retribution had one slight deviation from rectitude
brought upon him! After his escapes in the field, his dangers on
the seas, and his extraordinary vicissitudes as an adventurer,
his life was to be crossed by an error, just as it was opening
on a land of promise. Nor was it solely on this personal ground
that he looked on that error with remorse. His heart, though it
had committed a momentary excess, was stored with manly and
noble feelings, and, while it reproached him for his own conduct,
inspired him with the liveliest commiseration for Inez. He
thought of her beauty, her innocence, and her lofty spirit; but
above all, as referring more nearly to himself, he thought of the
deep and devoted love, which she had so unequivocally manifested
for him.

The heart, in matters concerning the affections, but especially
in a matter of love, is a dangerous thing to trifle with,
and should always be sounded with the nicest care. When our
sympathies are astir, we are liable to contract impressions,
under a sort of surprise, that will deceive our own selves, and,
though they are only superficial influences, sway us with the
force of passions. If we searched our hearts deeply, we would
find, on a closer view, that those impressions are not created
so much by external agents, as by innate feelings; and, further,
that we understand their nature very imperfectly, and entirely
mistake their tendency. What we conceive, for instance, to be
love, may really be no more than an elevated sympathy, though our
inclination to mistake it may give it the colouring and force of
love, and the strength of passion. If, in the outset, indeed, we
apply to it the tests which love should sustain--if we propose to
it the sacrifices that love would offer, or the mortifications
that love would brave--the delusion will vanish; but, in the
ecstacy of the moment, this course rarely occurs to us, and we
cling to the delusion till it appears real, and renders us as
giddy as absolute intoxication.

Hildebrand was a man of arms; but his heart, as has been said,
was full of strong feelings, and lofty affections. He was no
weakling, who would allow those affections and feelings to be
his master; but, at the same time, he allowed them their due and
legitimate influence. He thought of Inez, and, while he did think
of her, the deep and ardent sympathies of his nature, which
she had never touched before, insensibly associated with his
thoughts, and made the thread that ran through them assume the
appearance of love.

What a miserable infatuation! When he first discovered that he
loved Evaline, did the obstacles to a successful issue, though
their name was Legion, give his heart the slightest concern?
Was it not light, and springing, and buoyant as morning? And
now, without giving a thought to Evaline, he found that he loved
another; and his heart was heavy as death.

No! it was not love! It was pity, sympathy, and an utter
abandonment of his own self. It was the remorse of a noble
spirit, which prostrated itself, and all that it valued in the
world, at the feet of one whom it felt that it had wronged.

Nearly an hour elapsed before Inez awoke. Then, looking up, her
eyes met those of Hildebrand, who was watching over her.

“How farest thou, sweet lady?” Hildebrand asked, in a tremulous
tone.

“I’faith, marvellous thirsty,” answered Inez.

Hildebrand presented her with a draught, which, according to his
directions, the silent pantler, who had now retired to rest, had
laid ready on the table.

“I burn still,” pursued Inez, “and my wound is like fire.”

“We must look to it,” said Hildebrand.

He went in quest of some warm water, and shortly returned,
bearing a bason and napkin. Thus provided, he proceeded to
relieve her arm of the exhausted dressing, and bare its wound to
the view.

The wound was, as he had feared, greatly inflamed, and looked
angry in the extreme. He thought to subdue the inflammation, in
some measure, if not materially, by fomenting it with warm water;
but, whether because the ball was still lodged in her arm, and
irritated the wound, or that, owing to the high fever she was
in, the emollient was too gentle, his efforts with this view were
without effect. He was obliged, therefore, to content himself
with applying another soothing dressing, and recommending her to
keep perfectly still and quiet.

The weather had greatly moderated, and, therefore, he was able,
without neglecting his professional duties, to hold himself
continually at her call. For four or five days he hardly quitted
her side. His fine, animated features became pale with watching;
and the look of health and buoyancy, arising from a well-ordered
life, and a guarded temper, which had once illuminated his
cheeks, quite disappeared.

Meantime, the ship, favoured by the wind, made good progress, and
finally arrived in the English Channel. On the eighth morning
after her departure from Lisbon she reached the Downs. Skirting
that roadstead, she steered round the Foreland, and made
straight for the Thames.

It was just as they passed the Downs, about nine o’clock in the
morning, that Hildebrand made his customary inspection of the
wound of Donna Inez. It was fearfully inflamed; and on the verge
of the wound, contrasting strongly with its angry centre, there
was a small white speck; it was the seal of death!

The eyes of the young mariner filled with tears as he beheld
this trace of mortification. He tried to speak; but the words,
overwhelmed by his feelings, stuck in his throat, and his
volition and self-command were completely lost.

His emotion, though more inward than external, was not unobserved
by Inez.

“What aileth thee?” she said, tenderly. “Mournest thou for me?”

“I must not delude thee, sweet Inez,” answered Hildebrand, with a
convulsive effort. “Thou canst not live long.”

“That know I well,” replied Inez. “Yet weep not! Give me thy hand
awhile!”

Hildebrand, stepping a pace nearer the berth, put forth his hand,
and placed it in hers. As he did so, she raised it to her parched
lips.

“I have loved thee dearly,” she said.

Hildebrand made no answer; but the tears, which had already
mounted to his eyes, poured down his cheeks, and gave her a
response from his heart.

“And, look you!” she continued: “’tis more joy to me to die thus,
with thy love, than ’t were to have lived to fourscore, and not
have known thee.”

“Would thou couldst live to be mine!” exclaimed Hildebrand--and,
at the moment, he spoke from his heart.

“I know thee well!” resumed Inez. “Thy nature is wondrous
pitiful, and full of gentleness; and when I am agone, thou wilt
accuse thyself, mayhap, that I died through thee.”

“’Twill be my one thought,” cried Hildebrand; “but to show how I
repent me, I will be true to thy memory, and hold myself single
till death.”

“An’ thou wouldst have me die happy, say not that, sweet
Hildebrand!” returned Inez. “Nay, promise me, on thine honour,
that thou wilt wed--and no other than Evaline!”

Something whispered Hildebrand, that, even if he could overcome
his own scruples to such a course, a marriage with Evaline was
now out of the question. But, as this occurred to him, his
eyes happened to meet those of Inez, and they looked on him so
imploringly, and with such deep and pathetic solicitude, that
he resolved not to disturb her last moments by any selfish
apprehension, but to resign himself wholly to her wishes.

“I will be ordered by thy will,” he said.

“’Tis well, and I love thee the more for ’t,” pursued Inez--“yet
not more, for that were not possible.”

“No, i’faith,” said Hildebrand. “How else couldst thou relinquish
thy country, and the comforts of thy heritage, for a poor
stranger?”

“I did it not unknowingly,” answered Inez. “One Felix di Corva,
who had known thee in England, told me thou wast a cavalier of
fortune, and, further, that thou wast betrothed to a lady of
England. Methought, I would follow thee; and if his advertisement
proved false (which I believed it would), discover myself to
thee, and give thee my hand.”

“Would it had so turned out!” exclaimed Hildebrand.

“On our route to England,” continued Inez, “thou didst pledge me
to thy mistress’s health; and, in thy description of her, didst
laud her in such sort as, in my vain conceit, I fancied applied
to me. Hereupon, my love was more hopeful, and I looked for a
better issue.”

“I remember the time well,” observed Hildebrand.

“I held my hope good,” resumed Inez, “till I saw the fair
Evaline, and even then gave it not up directly. Yet thou mayst
remember, on consideration, that, one fair afternoon, I came on
you by surprise, and beheld what convinced me that thou lovedst
her.”

“Then knew I not how I was loved by thee,” said Hildebrand.

“’T is true,” said Inez; “and think not I blamed thee, but, in my
utter despair, I blamed and hated her. That night, I sought to
take her life.”

Hildebrand started.

“But better thoughts withheld me,” resumed Inez, “and, from
holding her in hate, I began to regard her in a more friendly
sort. Methought, if I could but bring myself before thee, in my
own proper person, my charms were as goodly as hers, and might
win thee to me again. One day, thou wast abroad till after
nightfall. I had followed thee in the morning, and, unobserved
by thee, noted the route thou hadst taken. It led me to a
churchyard, and there, to my singular admiration, I found thy
name inscribed on a grave-post.”

“’Twas the grave of my father,” said Hildebrand.

“So I divined,” continued Inez. “At night, as thou hadst not
returned, methought I would go forth to meet thee, in my own
proper attire. Thou wilt remember, thou didst see me that night,
at thy father’s grave.”

“I took thee for a spirit,” said Hildebrand; “and, on
after-thought, considered thee a mere imagination.”

“I saw that that was thy thought,” pursued Inez, “and, in the
darkness, availed myself thereof, before thou couldst recover,
to get clear away. I reached my chamber unperceived; but, at
thy father’s grave, other fancies had come upon me, and I chose
rather to dwell on them, than to go straight into thy presence.
Those fancies led me, on closer reflection, to make peace with
mine own bosom, and so be at peace with God.”

She had all along spoken with difficulty, and in a low tone; but
her last words, which had conveyed to her lover such a gratifying
intimation, seemed to have expended her last effort, and she
now sank panting on her pillow. She lay thus for some time; but
gradually, though by very slow degrees, she became less ruffled,
and respired freely. But she continued perfectly still; and,
whether because she was uncollected, or had nothing further to
say, made no attempt to speak again.

Hildebrand, no way impatient, remained standing by her side,
gazing anxiously in her face. Hour by hour did he thus watch her,
with his heart, and soul, and all his hopes of fruition, now
devoted entirely to her, locked and centred in his gaze.

It was the afternoon, and the sun, arrayed in the pride and glory
of summer, poured a stream of rays through the skylight, right
on to the sufferer’s face. Thinking that the light might annoy
her, Hildebrand was about to draw the curtain over the berth; but
before he could accomplish his purpose, she caught at his hand,
and clasped it in hers.

Her hand, which was so white and lovely to the eye, was cold as
ice, and felt like the touch of death. Hildebrand was unmanned.

“My love! my Hildebrand, prithee do not weep!” said Inez, in
faltering accents, and fixing her lustrous eyes on his. “I would
bid thee farewell!”

Hildebrand, with a bursting heart, leaned over her pillow, and
pressed his lips to hers.

“May God have mercy upon us!” he cried, with great devoutness,
“and, for his sweet Son’s sake, take thee to his everlasting joy!”

As he spoke, Inez, by a great effort, raised her hand, and held
up before her an ebony crucifix. Seeing that she could not hold
it herself, Hildebrand flew to her succour; and, clasping her
round the wrist, just below the crucifix, kept it up before her.
Her eyes grew less lustrous as it was thus fixed in their view.

“I am the Resurrection and the Life!” she murmured, in broken
words: “whosoever believeth on Me”--

She was yet speaking, when, all at once, her lips broke into a
bright smile, and Hildebrand felt her arm dropping down. Seeing
that she was nigh her last breath, he stooped to kiss her: _she
was dead!_



CHAPTER XIV.


On the day previous to the events described in the last chapter,
and the morning subsequent to the review at Tilbury, there sat
together, in Essex House, and in an upper chamber, looking out on
the river, two individuals, who conversed with each other with
great earnestness. One of these was the Earl of Essex himself;
and the other, though of a mean and slovenly appearance, which
(for he was yet scarcely thirty) assorted ill with his years,
was a person no less distinguished: it was the immortal but
despicable Francis Bacon.

They had been conversing for some time, and, at the moment
at which it is deemed advisable to take cognizance of their
conversation, the young Earl, irritated at something Bacon had
said, was speaking with some vehemence.

“Think’st thou, then, thy kinsman Burleigh shall thwart me,
Francis?” he said. “Be of good heart! An’ my voice can speed
thee, no other than thou shall be Attorney-General.”

“I thank your Lordship,” answered Bacon. “Yet do I know right
well, from what I have heard, that both my uncle Burleigh, and my
gentle cousin, Sir Robert, will plead hard for another.”

“Give them no heed,” returned Essex. “Thou shalt have the office;
but, meanwhile, as I do nought without requital, thou must render
me a small service.”

“That will I gladly, my dear Lord,” said Bacon.

“Thou must even let me present thee with my little manor at
Twickenham, then,” cried Essex. “Psha, now! no words! ’T is not
worth a word!”

He caught up the philosopher’s hand while he spoke, and, as a
princely smile suffused his lip, seconded his munificent proposal
with his looks.

“Oh, my Lord! ’t is worth full three thousand pounds!” said Bacon.

“Tut, a pin!” laughed the Earl. “’T is thine, an’ thou lovest me!
But some one comes. No more words, now!”

Master Bacon, though he was evidently greatly moved, would
probably have spoken further, notwithstanding the young Earl’s
request; but before he could give utterance to his sentiments,
a servant opened the chamber-door, and two cavaliers, about
the middle age, and of graceful and prepossessing appearance,
thereupon pushed in.

“See, see, my Lord Rutland,” cried the foremost cavalier to the
other; “if we have not caught him with philosophy, let me die!
Thou hast lost thy wager!”

“And prithee what doth the wager affect, my Lord Bedford?” cried
Essex, with a smile.

“Rutland here, in his exquisite conceit, wagered me thou hadst
departed for Portsmouth,” answered the Earl of Bedford. “The
wager is no less than ten angels.”

“Give thee joy of it!” said the Earl of Rutland. “I had rather
lose the angels, than lose my gossip’s company to Portsmouth.”

“I’faith, now,” cried Essex, “thou makest me sorry that thou hast
lost. I am simply waiting for Hal Tracey, and then I am off.”

“We will with thee, then,” cried the other two Earls together.

“Thanks, thanks!” returned Essex. “I volunteer with Drake. Who
serve you with?”

“Oh, Drake!” answered Rutland. “And if we fight bravely, he hath
promised us, by way of guerdon, a jorum of liquor anon, at the
sign of the ’Three Jolly Mariners.’”

This announcement drew from his auditors a loud laugh, but the
speaker himself, with a happy craft, looked quite grave, as
though he considered the promised guerdon a matter of moment.
While the laughter was yet in progress, the chamber-door, which
was right behind Rutland, was again opened, and another cavalier
entered.

“All hail, lag-behind!” cried Rutland, glancing at the new comer.

“Lag-behind in thy teeth, slanderous peer!” answered the person
addressed. “I should have been here an hour agone, only that that
gossiping wight, Squire Harrington, met me on the way; and who
could ever break from him?”

“None, none, I’ll warrant thee, good Cromwell!” said the Earl of
Bedford. “But, prithee, tell us Master Harrington’s news. How
many fair ladies hath he given over for lost?”

“As thou art courteous, I will even tell thee,” answered Lord
Cromwell. “He hath advised me, first, that fair Mistress
Throckmorton hath a mortal passion for Sir Walter Raleigh”----

“Oh! oh!” cried Rutland.

“Peace, brawler!” resumed Cromwell. “Second, that my Lady
Nottingham, for some hidden reason, is affronted with my Lord
Essex. Third, that my Lady Warwick hath given her lord”----

“What?” cried Rutland.

Lord Cromwell was silent.

“An heir, mayhap?” said the Earl of Essex.

“A _hare?_ fie!” answered Cromwell. “A deer would mark nearer.”

“Ha! ha! ha!” roared Bedford and Rutland.

“Now, fie on thee, talebearer!” cried Essex, yet smiling. “We
must be on our guard against thee. But who comes now?”

The door opened as he spoke, and loud cries of “Sweet Hal Tracey!
good Hal!” in which he himself joined, greeted the person who
entered.

Sir Henry Tracey--for such was the real designation of the new
comer--answered this welcome in the same spirit, and saluted each
of the company separately. That done, he turned to Essex, and,
with a familiarity that, of its single self, denoted them to be
on the most intimate relations, drew him aside.

“Art ready to depart?” he inquired.

“I wait only for thee, Hal,” answered Essex.

“Then, in good sooth, we will even go round by Durham House, and
call for Sir Walter Raleigh,” said Tracey.

The Earl changed colour. “What mean’st thou?” he demanded. “Have
not I told thee, over and over again, that Sir Walter likes me
not?”

“And have not I told thee, with the same perseverance, that thou
wast misled?” returned Tracey. “Let me tell thee what he did last
even. He was bidding farewell to her Highness, and she, with many
loving words, was thanking him that he had that morning done
her a good service, by helping her with her horse, when, to the
admiration of the court, Sir Walter denied the service was his,
and affirmed it was rendered by my Lord Essex. Nay, hear me out!
Her Highness, on the outset, would not have it so; but, by and
by, Sir Walter did make his words apparent, and righted thee at
his own cost. Was this like an enemy?”

“By my hand, no!” exclaimed the impetuous Earl. “Say no more
on’t. We will even call for him, and be friends.”

While he was engaged in preparing to carry his purpose into
effect, the distinguished personage whom he proposed to visit,
like himself, was meditating a journey to Portsmouth. He had just
equipped himself for his expedition, when, after a preliminary
knock on the door, a servant entered the library, where he was
sitting, and solicited access for Sir Robert Cecil.

“Bring him hither quickly,” answered Sir Walter.

Sir Robert Cecil, who had followed the servant unperceived up the
stairs, and was listening at the door, overheard what was said,
and thereupon entered unbidden.

“Worthy Sir Walter, give thee good morrow!” he cried, with a
smile. “I had feared thou hadst set forth for the fleet, and I
have that to tell thee, on the part of my Lady Nottingham, which
must hold thee here a space longer.”

“It must be a matter of moment, then, gentle Sir Robert,” said
Raleigh. “Prithee, what doth it import?”

“Briefly, then, last even,” replied Cecil, “young Henry Tracey,
being at court, advised her Ladyship he would this morning bring
hither the Earl of Essex, and make you friends again.”

Sir Walter Raleigh coloured. “I’faith, I thank good Tracey for
his friendly intents,” he said; “but be thou assured, gentle Sir
Robert, they will fail him. The Earl will not come.”

“Well, an’ he do, do thou make up with him,” answered Cecil; “and
I beseech thee, as I have lost favour with him in thy service,
commend me also to his Lordship. By my troth, his ill-report hath
done me grievous detriment.”

“An’ he come here, I will have you friends,” returned Raleigh.
“But he will not come.”

At this moment, the door opened, and a servant appeared in the
aperture.

“My Lord Essex would speak a word with your worship,” he said to
Raleigh.

Raleigh and Cecil exchanged glances. “Wait thou here, gentle Sir
Robert,” said Raleigh. “I will go meet his Lordship.”

Waving the servant on, he passed out of the chamber, and pushed
on for the adjacent stairs. As he was about to descend the
stairs, he perceived the Earl of Essex, marshalled by one of the
servants, coming up. He extended him his hand directly.

“Your Lordship’s fair presence makes me proud,” he said. “I hope
all is well with your Lordship.”

“Now that I hold thy hand, Sir Walter, all is well indeed,”
answered Essex. “I have come to thank thee for the good report
of me, which, in my absence, thou didst render her Highness
yesterday.”

“Tut! name it not, my Lord!” said Raleigh.

“I name it, and will remember it, good Sir Walter,” returned
Essex. “But here are a troop of gallants without, bound for the
fleet: may we have your worship’s company?”

“’Tis what I would heartily desire,” smiled Sir Walter. “Howbeit,
before we go, I must even present your Lordship to another
friend--gentle Sir Robert Cecil.”

“Name him not!” said Essex. “Whatever he may be to me, he is no
friend of thine.”

“Ah, my good Lord, I have approved him a right trusty one,”
answered Raleigh. “Beseech thee, let me make him friends with
thee.”

“Well, well, an’ thou art content, be it so!” smiled the young
nobleman.

Sir Walter said no more; but, with a bow, and a gay smile,
led the way up the stairs, and on to the library. There, in
accordance with the injunction of Sir Walter, Cecil awaited them,
but, to Sir Walter’s surprise, was taken quite aback at the
appearance of the Earl of Essex. Although, however, he seemed to
be so overwhelmed with astonishment to find the Earl of Essex an
inmate of Durham House, he was no way slow to avail himself of
Sir Walter’s offer, on their entry, to make him friends with that
personage; and, accordingly, such a reconciliation was thereupon
effected.

These matters being settled, both Essex and Raleigh prepared to
set out forthwith for Portsmouth. The appearance of a troop of
mounted gallants at Sir Walter’s door, equipped for a journey,
had caused a rumour to spread abroad, through all that part of
the town, that such was their intention; and an immense crowd had
collected to bid them farewell. Loud acclamations saluted them as
the two popular favourites appeared at the door. Again and again,
after the manner of the time, they bowed to their horses’ necks
in acknowledgment, but the popular applause no way diminished;
and they rode off, at last, amidst hearty and renewed cries of
“Hurrah for Raleigh! Long life to noble Essex! God speed you,
England’s glory!”



CHAPTER XV.


The night was just falling, about three hours after the death of
Inez, as the bark “Eliza” entered the Thames. Master Halyard,
who commanded the watch, was about to go in quest of Hildebrand,
in order to inform him of the ship’s position, when Hildebrand
appeared on the deck.

Halyard fairly started as he glanced in his face. Its complexion
was quite ghastly, and, though not inanimate, the expression that
it wore, like that which the cunning sculptor gives to marble,
was still and fixed, and wanted the spirit of motion. Moreover,
his eyes, which were naturally light and penetrating, were heavy
and swollen, and red with weeping.

“We must come to anchor at Leigh, Master Halyard!” he said. “Don
Rafaele is dead.”

“Dead, Sir?” echoed Halyard.

Hildebrand’s eyes filled with tears.

“By my life, I could have better spared an older friend!” said
Halyard, blowing his nose with great violence. “Dead!”--He was
silent a moment, when he added, in a loud voice--“Ho, there! aft!
hang the flag half-mast high!”

“We shall be at Leigh in an hour, Master Halyard,” resumed
Hildebrand. “I will then go ashore, and settle concerning our
friend’s funeral. That done, I must take to horse, and proceed,
with what haste I can, to my Lord Admiral. Thou must tarry at
Leigh till further orders.”

“Ay, ay, Sir!” said Halyard.

Hildebrand turned away, and, with a quick step, again descended
to the cabin. Halyard, who was himself deeply affected at his
friend’s demise, looked after him for a moment, with an eye
brimming with tears; and then proceeded to pace the deck.

“Dead!” he muttered. “Well, life is but short; let us live well
on the road, says the gentle Shepherd of Salisbury Plain.”

Meantime, the ship, favoured by a fresh breeze, progressed
towards the haven in which she was to anchor. This was but a
few miles from the river’s mouth, where a narrow islet, called
Canvey Island, forms a breakwater to what, at high tide, may be
called a small bay. A line of hills, or cliffs, covered with
verdure, run round one side of the mainland; and, at the bottom
of the bay, open on a vast extent of marsh, reaching almost to
Tilbury. Just before the marsh presents itself, a little village,
embracing some hundred houses, rises from the edge of the water,
and slopes upward on the rearward heights; and, crowning one
of these heights, beyond the verge of the village, a fine old
church attracts the eye, and forms a conspicuous landmark at some
distance.

The night had quite set in by the time that the cruizer reached
the haven. On passing a little way inward, the water became
very shallow, and Master Halyard began to doubt, for a brief
space, whether she would be able to proceed. But a group of
fishing-boats, some little distance in his advance, pointed out a
route by which he could approach the shore safely, and, pursuing
their track, he shortly effected that object.

It was right in front of the village, about a quarter of a mile
from the shore, that he determined to come to an anchor. While he
was superintending the unshipment of the anchor, he was joined by
Hildebrand, dressed for a visit to the shore.

“Halyard,” said Hildebrand, “an’ I can find a funeral-man here,
I shall send him aboard, and I have charged the pantler, who
will wait upon him, how he is to be attended. Let me have a boat
straightway.”

Accordingly, a boat, with two men at the oars, was quickly
lowered, and skulled round to the ship’s side. Thereupon,
Hildebrand took a brief leave of Halyard, and, without further
ado, descended to the boat, and set out for the shore.

The boat landed on a patch of gravel, stretching out into the
water, and falling back, in a long and gradual rise, on a row of
cottages, opening into the village. As he stepped to the shore,
Hildebrand ordered the boatmen, who were the same two that had
accompanied him on a former occasion, to wait his return, and
then set forward for the cottages. On approaching these, he was
not sorry to observe, by the help of the moonlight, that long
fishing-nets were hanging up on their exteriors, as that fact
informed him that they were inhabited by a class of people who
were associated with his profession, and with whom, consequently,
he could converse freely. His expectations were so far realized,
that he soon met with a fisherman, among the inmates of the
nearest cottage, who engaged to bring him an undertaker--what
he most needed; and immediately set off in quest of one. The
undertaker quickly made his appearance; and Hildebrand, taking
him aside, informed him what he required him for, and at once
engaged him to perform it.

“The person deceased,” he concluded, “is a woman; but only my
pantler, whom I have charged to attend thee, is advised hereof.
Thou wilt be secret?”

“As death!” answered the man of funerals.

“Here is gold for thee,” returned Hildebrand, thrusting a piece
of gold in his hand. “Get some dressers, and go aboard out of
hand.”

The fisherman’s wife, at the instance of the undertaker, agreed
to attend in the capacity specified, and, all being thus settled,
Hildebrand induced both her and the undertaker to accompany him
straight to the boat, and enter on their melancholy duties at
once. Having seen them bestowed in the boat, and the boat pushed
off for the ship, he turned away, and repaired to the village
again.

Through the medium of the friendly fisherman, he soon procured
a couple of horses (which were his next want), and a guide, to
convey him to London. These acquired, he made no further delay,
but set out for the metropolis on the instant.

Bitter and excruciating were the reflections that pressed upon
him during his journey. The death of Inez, though it had not
taken him by surprise, seemed both to have deprived his body of
its vigour, and his spirit of its powers of endurance. The poet
says,--

    “High minds, of native pride and force,
    Most deeply feel thy pangs, Remorse!”--

but, after a time, it was not only the upbraidings of an accusing
conscience, but the bitter reflection that he had utterly ruined
his fortunes, that he had to contend with. When the shock
arising from the death of Inez had somewhat subsided, he could
see in his connexion with that lady, on mature consideration,
many particulars calculated to soothe him, and to assuage that
remorse which he had sustained originally. But as this feeling
became less acute, the tender passion he entertained for Evaline,
and which it had for a time overwhelmed, gradually revived, and
tormented him with a flood of other reproaches. It never once
occurred to him that he should conceal his connexion with Inez
from Evaline. On the contrary, he felt a sort of melancholy
pleasure, if the term may be used, in resolving to disclose it to
her. But that it would utterly ruin his reputation with Evaline,
and be fatal to their attachment, he felt assured. Life appeared
like a dream to him as he thought so. His peace was gone; all his
prospects of happiness were blasted; and, in his course onward,
he would move through the world, and its busy and ever varying
accidents, like a mere machine--without choice, enjoyment, or
animation.

It was morning before he arrived in the metropolis. He stayed
at the inn at which he first arrived, in Aldgate, merely to
take some slight refreshment, and recruit his toilet; and then
repaired to the office of the Lord Admiral. That personage, to
whom he readily acquired access, received him cordially, and
heard his report of his recent expedition with the greatest
satisfaction. After complimenting him on his gallantry, he
directed him to remain in London, at the lodging he had engaged,
for a few days more, when he would send him orders for further
service. Hildebrand briefly assented, and then, with many thanks
for his favourable opinion, took leave of the Admiral, and
returned to his inn.

Reflecting how he should proceed, he determined to communicate
with Evaline, in reference to his acquaintance with Inez, through
the medium of Bernard Gray. He accordingly wrote to the latter,
informing him, at large, and without concealing one particular,
of the adventure which had first connected him with the ill-fated
Donna, and how she had become associated with him subsequently.
But while he took the whole blame of her imprudence on himself,
he failed not to set forth, fully and distinctly, that he was not
aware that she followed him in disguise, and that it was only in
her dying hour that he discovered she was not the person he had
represented her to be. He desired Bernard personally to explain
these particulars to Evaline, and, at the same time, to release
her, in his name, from the engagement she had contracted with
him, and urge her to seek one more deserving of her inestimable
worth.

His depression was no way alleviated when the important letter
was written and despatched. Having himself conveyed it to the
postmaster, he proceeded in quest of Sir Walter Raleigh; but
he found that that personage, as was recorded in a preceding
chapter, had left home, and gone to join the fleet. He had,
therefore, no means of dissipating his depression, but in looking
forward to a time of action, and he waited his orders for service
with the utmost impatience.

Three days elapsed before the orders of the Admiral were conveyed
to him. They simply directed him, on their receipt, to sail
immediately for Portsmouth, and there muster his ship with the
fleet. Having read them over, he made no stay in London, but
forthwith proceeded to carry them into force.

It was evening when he arrived at Leigh, but it had scarcely
opened, and, therefore (for the season was summer), it was
quite light. He found that, during his absence, everything had
been arranged for the funeral of Inez, and he determined to
have it performed without delay. His influence as captain of a
man-of-war, and the fact that he was to sail that night, at the
turn of the tide, to join the royal fleet, easily secured him the
services of the parochial authorities; and in less than two hours
after his arrival at Leigh, all things were prepared, both aboard
and ashore, for the accomplishment of his wishes.

It was yet quite light, when, responding to the boatswain’s
whistle, the topmen of the “Eliza,” attired in their white
frocks, mounted the rigging, and, preparatory to the appearance
of the corpse, proceeded to man the ship’s yards. Two boats lay
alongside, manned with picked crews; and the deck-men, also
clad in their white frocks, were drawn up on the deck, from
the after-hatch to the gangway. Just as these arrangements
were effected, the coffin, supported by four petty-officers,
and covered with a black pall, was brought on the deck, and
carried past the deck-men, to the gangway. Hildebrand and
Halyard, muffled in long cloaks, and having their hats bound with
mourning-bands, followed mournfully in its wake.

A salute of minute-guns was opened on the lower-deck as the
coffin was lowered into the first boat. This announced its
departure to the shore-people, and the solemn bell of the church,
riding, like the spirit of Melancholy, on the evening breeze, was
heard to invite its approach.

A large concourse had gathered on the shore, on the patch of
gravel before noticed, to view its debarkation, and watch its
progress to the grave. When the boats stranded, however, they
fell back; and suffered the coffin, and the mournful procession
that attended it, and which comprehended Hildebrand and the two
boats’ crews, to pass through the midst of them. Then, as by
common consent, they formed in irregular order in its rear, and
followed it up the hill to the churchyard.

The minister, robed in his gown and surplice, met the coffin at
the churchyard-gate, and preceded it to the grave. There, as
he read the sublime service of the church, a feeling of pious
resignation came over Hildebrand, and the terrors of earthly
frailty were lost in his loftier aspirations. He turned from the
grave, it is true, with a heavy heart, but not with despair; and,
as he passed out of the churchyard, his nature assumed its wonted
vigour, and he exclaimed to himself--“O! death! where is thy
sting? O! grave! where is thy victory?”



CHAPTER XVI.


Although the bark “Eliza,” in obedience to the orders of the Lord
Admiral, quitted Leigh a few hours after the interment of Inez,
several days intervened before she made Portsmouth. An account of
her daring exploit at Lisbon reached that place before her; and,
on her arrival at Spithead, she was hailed from the several ships
of the fleet, as she passed by them to her anchorage, with the
most stirring and hearty cheers.

Hildebrand’s instructions directed him, after he should arrive at
Portsmouth, to put himself under the orders of Admiral Hawkins;
and accordingly, when he had come to an anchor, he proceeded to
render them obedience. Having waited on the Admiral, he became
for a while his own master, and he then sought the presence of
Sir Walter Raleigh.

Sir Walter received him with his usual cordiality; but he had
no opportunity of conferring with him, as he had intended, on
the aspect of his private affairs, or taking his advice on his
recent troubles. He learned from him, however, the exact force
and position of the fleet, and what it would probably effect.
Hence he became aware, in the end, that it was quite ready for
sea, and, indeed, had been about to weigh the day previous; but
the intelligence that the enemy had sustained great damage from
a storm, of which he was himself the author, had induced the
Admiral to recall his order for sailing, and continue in port. He
learned, also, that a letter (which was, indeed, no other than
the one written by Evaline, informing him of the revelations
of Don Felix) was lying for him at Sir Walter’s house, in the
Strand; but, never thinking who had been its writer, he felt no
anxiety respecting it, but was content that it should remain
there till, whatever might be its issue to himself, the coming
engagement with the invading armada should be some way decided.

He had been at Portsmouth a full week before the signal was given
for the fleet to put to sea. It was a lovely summer’s morning,
but a fine, fresh breeze, that made one’s heart bound again, blew
from the shore, and carried the brave squadron past the Needles,
and on to the Channel. The several ships, by order of the
Admiral, here kept pretty close together, but still two or three
shot ahead, and the fairy-like “Eliza”, though under slack sail,
took the lead. She was thus sailing on, when, to the surprise of
the whole fleet, she suddenly tacked about, and fired a gun.

As the report boomed over the water, a gun from the ship of the
Admiral, Lord Effingham, rendered it a response, and a signal was
hoisted for the fleet to close. Before the order could be well
obeyed, a mass of tall masts, extending over an area of seven
miles, and looking like a forest in the distance, appeared on the
horizon, and announced the approach of the long-expected enemy.

The tremendous armament looked none the less formidable as it
drew more near. One hundred and thirty ships, larger than any
yet seen, bristling with cannon, and manned with armies, might
have struck terror into an assembled nation; and how could one
poor squadron array itself against them. The British navy looked
like a bevy of cock-boats in their proximity. Still, however, it
retreated orderly, and the Spaniards did not attempt to give it
chase. As night fell, the two armaments were scarcely five miles
apart. The night came on dark, and, covered by the darkness, the
English Admiral, by a dexterous manœuvre, suffered the Spanish
fleet to pass him, and slipped to the rearward. Sir Francis
Drake, to quote his own words, there “_fell foul_” of the heavier
sailers of the armada, and caused them great damage. The wind had
been pretty fresh hitherto, but towards daylight, which broke at
an early hour, it dropped, and the forward ships of the armada
were thus unable to return to the succour and relief of the rear,
or lend them any support. On the other hand, the English fleet,
being all smaller ships, could sail under a light wind, and
harassed the rear with continual assaults. Thus they progressed
for two days; but then, being more favoured by the wind, the
Spanish ships drew close together, and bade the English defiance.
The English Admiral began to apprehend that they would put into
Calais, and, after recruiting there, sally forth with augmented
force, and overpower him. He determined, therefore, to hazard a
battle.

The Spaniards were formed in such excellent order, right across
the channel, that it seemed impossible, on a first view, to find
a vulnerable point in their whole line. The daring and experience
of Drake, however, soon carried out a scheme by which such an
opening could be effected.[A] Taking eight old ships, filled with
combustibles, which he had brought with him from Portsmouth, he
drove them forward as if they had been fire-ships; and directed
them straight on the Spanish centre. As he had expected, the line
was broken in a moment. With a promptitude that, considering
his disparity of force, could not be too highly admired, he
immediately bore down on the opening with his whole division. His
manœuvre threw the entire line of the enemy into disorder; and
Lord Effingham and Hawkins, with the right line of the English
fleet, availed themselves of their confusion to fall on their
nearer extremity, while Sir Martin Frobisher bore down on its
offset.

[A] This stratagem was suggested by the Queen.

A terrible and deadly conflict hereupon ensued. The superior
calibre of the Spanish guns, though so much higher from the
water, threatened to blow the little squadron of Drake to atoms,
but that gallant mariner met them undaunted. Wherever the danger
was greatest, his puny figure was seen, like a shadow, flitting
before his men, and animating them to renewed efforts by his
example. But he did not continue long to fight with mere cannon.
After a time, his division advanced, under cover of dense masses
of smoke, to meet the enemy at closer quarters, and orders were
issued for each ship to prepare to board. Loud cheers emanated
from the little squadron as this injunction was carried into
force. In despite of a tremendous fire, they quickly ranged
alongside the enemy; and with the hardihood of English seamen,
which laughs at danger, and defies death, proceeded to board them
at the cannon’s mouth.

While these operations were in progress, the division of Lord
Effingham, as was before stated, had attacked the enemy’s outer
line. But, though an experienced mariner, the noble Admiral did
not, in the outset, proceed so successfully as his assistant, the
able and renowned Drake. In one respect, indeed, circumstances
were not so favourable to his progress; for the line here was
more compact, and not so easily entered. The consequence was,
that, in trying to force a passage, his division was scattered,
and each individual ship was left to itself. In this melancholy
juncture, he became entangled, by a sudden gust of wind, between
two of the enemy, each of which was sufficiently strong at once
to overwhelm him. Still the intrepid patrician maintained the
conflict, and determined, whatever should be the issue, to stand
to the last. The overpowering force opposed to him did not
suffer what would be the result to remain long doubtful. After a
brief interval, it became evident that, despairing of sinking his
vessel, they were preparing to board him. Just at this moment,
however, another English ship, almost as large as his own, bore
down to his rescue, and a thundering cry of “Raleigh! Raleigh!”
rang through the air. His leeward enemy, being nearest to his
ally, was hereupon obliged to defend her own self, but the foe
to windward still prepared to board him. In a few minutes, her
boarders, embracing a greater force than his original crew, of
which not half were now effective, poured down her sides, and
pushed on for his deck. The Lord Admiral received them hand
to hand. On his side, all distinctions of rank, not excepting
his own, were thrown aside, and every man fought under his own
unaided direction. But, struggle as he might, no degree of
heroism could withstand the imposing and constantly-increasing
superiority of the Spaniards. Step by step, he was driven to
the centre of the deck, and hardly enough of the ship remained
to him, notwithstanding the inroads on his ranks, on which to
maintain a stand. In this position, he was considering whether,
as all hope was now lost, it would not be better to blow the ship
up, when the whole vessel sustained a violent shock, and started
to her very centre. The dense smoke prevented him from discerning
what had occasioned the agitation, but he supposed, and truly,
that some other ship, not seeing her in the smoke, had run into
her bows, and so come in collision with her. The next moment, his
conjecture was established; and a tremendous cry of “Clifford
to the rescue!” with the rush of a host of feet, assured him of
coming succour.

The tall form of Hildebrand, looking still taller in the smoke,
soon incurred the Admiral’s notice, and filled his undaunted
bosom with new ardour. The rescue swept down the deck like a
thunderbolt. So rapid was its progress, that the Admiral scarcely
had time, in the confusion, to draw back his men, so that it had
nearly slaughtered friends and foes together. It cleared the
deck in a moment; and, in the hurry of retreat, not a few of
the Spaniards, rather than be captured, leaped overboard, and
perished in the sea. The leeward ship had kept up a fire till
just before, but she was now silent, and loud cries of “Raleigh!
a Raleigh!” which rose from her deck, indicated that she had been
boarded by the English. The cries were still in progress, when,
covered with grime and gore, and flushed with victory, Hildebrand
presented himself before the Admiral.

“Captain Clifford, thou hast done nobly!” cried the Admiral,
grasping his hand. “But let us not tarry to talk. We must push
our advantage to the utmost.”

“Mean’st thou to board the enemy, my Lord?” asked Hildebrand,
touching his helmet.

“On the instant,” answered the Admiral. “Now, my lads!” he added,
in a loud voice, “forward! for God and the Queen!”

A loud shout of “Hurrah for Effingham!” uttered by the whole
crew, responded to his appeal, and all hands sprang to windward,
and proceeded to clamber up the enemy’s bulwarks. They met no
opposition. The enemy, without making the slightest resistance,
struck his flag, and gave them quiet possession of the ship.

The atmosphere was now comparatively clear, and, from the more
elevated deck of the captured ship, the Admiral could view,
without interruption, the entire field of action. The battle was
over. From sixteen of the enemy, alone a match for the entire
fleet of England, proudly floated

    “The flag that’s braved a thousand years
      The battle and the breeze!”

Eight more had been sunk, five had been blown up, and the
remainder, including the redoubted Admiral, were seen in full
flight, followed closely by Drake. The invincible armada was
virtually annihilated, and, as he turned to the lower deck, the
Lord Admiral, with a proud smile, caught Hildebrand by the arm,
and bade him thank God for victory.

“’T is a right glorious one, my Lord,” answered Hildebrand.

“And as thou hast behaved nobly therein, thou shalt be its
harbinger to the Queen,” answered the Admiral. “Speed thee
straight to thy ship, and make for Dover. Thence take horse for
Westminster, and notify to her Highness, by word of mouth, what
hath happed, signifying that I will further advise her thereof
anon.”

“I will away incontinently, my Lord,” returned Hildebrand.



CHAPTER XVII.


About nine o’clock on the following morning, Hildebrand, covered
with dust, and mounted on a jaded and travel-worn horse,
having ridden all night, drew up at the gate of the palace of
Westminster. Announcing himself as a messenger from the Lord
Admiral, he was forthwith conducted to Sir Ferdinand Georges; and
by that personage, who officiated as Lord Chamberlain, marshalled
to the presence of the Queen.

“An officer from my Lord Admiral, your Highness!” said Sir
Ferdinand, on their entry.

The Queen started to her feet.

“What news, friend?” she cried to Hildebrand.

“God save your Highness!” replied Hildebrand, dropping on one
knee at her feet. “The Spanish armada is overcome!”

There was a pause for a moment, when a half-suppressed buzz, in
which the Queen herself joined, broke from every one present.

“Now, God be thanked!” the Queen then cried, in a fervent tone.
“Where is my Lord Admiral’s report?”

“His Lordship was so eager to advertise your Highness of the
victory,” answered Hildebrand, “that he deferred writing thereon,
and sends his report by word of mouth. Sixteen ships of the enemy
have been captured, eight blown into the air, and five, after
a hard struggle, dismasted and sunk. The remainder have been
dispersed.”

“’Tis a victory without parallel!” said the Queen. “What is thy
name?”

“Hildebrand Clifford, my liege.”

“Ah!” cried the Queen. “We have had a good report of thee afore,
and owe thee a meed. Give us thy sword, Sir!”

Hildebrand, still kneeling, drew forth his sword, and, with a
low bow, placed it in the Queen’s hand. As she caught its hilt,
the Queen raised it in the air, and slapped it lustily on his
shoulder.

“In the name of God, rise up, Sir Hildebrand Clifford, knight!”
she exclaimed.

Hildebrand, though without being elated--for he had now no savour
of earthly distinctions--received back his sword, and sprang to
his feet.

“I thank your Highness?” he said.

“Let us see thee here often,” replied the Queen, with a smile,
“and before long, too. But, for the present, get thee hence, and
betake thee to rest; for we must straight pen a proclamation of
thy news to our loving subjects.”

With these words, she extended him her small hand; and, again
bending his knee, he raised it to his lips. Then, with a low bow,
he rose to his feet, and made his egress.

His flattering reception at court, so much beyond what he could
have expected, had affected his spirits but very slightly,
and, though he was far from looking dejected, his countenance
presented no trace of that fine, healthful buoyancy, which
had once been its characteristic. The complexion of his mind
was no less grave and rigid. The oppressive sense of remorse,
indeed, which had arisen out of his connexion with Inez, had
now subsided, but it had left behind it a deep and settled
impression, very painful to endure. He looked at the issue of his
suit with Evaline, on which he had built his every hope, with a
sort of passionless sorrow--fixed and rooted, although free from
despair! He was not sunk in despair! His fine sense of enjoyment,
his elasticity of spirit, and his lightness of heart, it cannot
be denied, were lost; but his mind retained its vigour, and never
thought of bending before its bitter affliction.

On mounting his horse, he determined, as he knew no place
nearer, to repair to the inn he had formerly lodged at, at
Aldgate; and there take some repose. He rode along slowly, and
was not ignorant that, as he progressed, he became an object of
curiosity to the various passers-by, probably from his grave and
travel-worn aspect. But, however he might look in their eyes, the
several wayfarers, certainly, looked no way cheerful in his; for
every individual face seemed full of anxiety and concern.

Though the hour was now advanced, the princely city, usually so
lively and bustling, was hardly astir, and, in the terror of
the expected invasion, all business was at a standstill. The
unnatural repose became perfectly distressing as Hildebrand
entered the Strand. Anxious to escape the view of it, he was
about to spur on quicker, when, to his surprise, some one in his
rear called to him by name, and brought him to a stand. It was
Bernard Gray.

A thrill of pleasure, such as he had not felt for some time, shot
through Hildebrand’s bosom, as he discerned his well-approved
friend; and, quickly alighting, he caught him eagerly by the hand.

“What news from the fleet?” cried Bernard, before he could
address him.

“The armada is overcome!” answered Hildebrand.

“Go to! Blessed be the Lord!” ejaculated Bernard. “But why
lookest thou so mournful, Hildebrand?”

Hildebrand averted his head.

“Ah! is it even so?” cried Bernard. “Well, be of good heart!
Shedlock and his wife are dead; I have approved thy mother’s
marriage; and thy birthright, which thou fear’dst was lost, is
restored to thee. Thou art now the possessor of Clifford Place.”

“Ah, my good Bernard! what avail is it now?” answered Hildebrand.
“These toys can please me no more.”

“Be of better heart!” rejoined Bernard. “The Spaniard, Don Felix,
who was here of late, hath betook him to Spain, being advised by
me that I would otherwise attach him as a spy.”

Hildebrand made no reply.

“Further,” resumed Bernard, “I have read the letter thou didst
write me to Sir Edgar de Neville, and, I promise thee, his
worship’s bearing thereat was exceeding kind.”

“But what said Evaline?” asked Hildebrand.

“I saw not her,” answered Bernard, “but only the knight. As I
read thy letter to him, he would seize me, now and anon, eagerly
by the hand, and cry me--‘My poor boy! my brave Hildebrand!’
and, in conclusion, he said, ‘’t was well done--excellent well
done;’ and he would unfold it to his fair daughter, so he would.”

“And did he?” asked Hildebrand, anxiously.

“That know I not,” replied Bernard. “But let us forward! I have
some business in the Temple here, with one Master Gilbert, a
lawyer; and, afterwards, thou shalt command me. Let us thither
together!”

Hildebrand offered no objection to his proposal; and, remounting
his horse, they set forward, and proceeded towards the Temple.
They shortly arrived thither; and Hildebrand, by Bernard’s
direction, then gave his horse in care of one of the porters, and
alighted.

The lodgings of Master Gilbert, Bernard’s lawyer, were just
within the Temple-gate, on an upper floor, looking out on
Temple-bar. They soon gained access to the lower floor, the door
of which was open. Within, on their entry, they found three
individuals--one of whom was Master Gilbert’s scrivener, or
clerk; and the remaining two, who were no other than Abigail and
Zedekiah, have already appeared on the stage of our history.

The two servants, who had been sitting down just before, started
up on the appearance of Bernard, and advanced to accost him.

“Who are these?” inquired Hildebrand.

“The servants of the Lord,” answered Abigail.

Bernard smiled. “They are poor, honest clowns,” he said to
Hildebrand, “whom I would, with thy leave, provide for in thy
household.”

“Have it so!” returned Hildebrand. “But where didst thou pick
them up?”

“They were the servants of Shedlock,” replied Bernard.

“’Twas a goodly sight--a night-burying!” remarked Zedekiah.

“Ay, ay, but be of good cheer!” said Bernard. “You hear, you have
both a provision! Now, Master Hildebrand, let us on!”

Without more words, he led the way up a contiguous staircase,
followed by Hildebrand. On reaching the summit, he paused before
a neighbouring door, leading to Master Gilbert’s chamber, which,
without tarrying to solicit admittance, he immediately threw open.

As the door was thus thrown back, Hildebrand’s glance fell, not
on the hard countenance of the lawyer, but on the faces of Sir
Edgar and Evaline. It required but that one glance, brief as
it was, to assure him that he was forgiven--that the height of
earthly fruition was still his; and, with a heart overflowing
with joy, he darted into the chamber, and caught Evaline in his
arms.

“Mine!--my own true love!” he exclaimed, as he pressed the
blushing girl to his bosom.

“And with my free consent,” smiled Sir Edgar, in broken accents.

Hildebrand could not speak for a moment.

“When?” he said, at length.

“To-morrow, an’ it so like thee,” answered Sir Edgar.

Hildebrand, still holding Evaline to his bosom, bent down to her
ear.

“Shall it be so, sweet Evaline?” he whispered.

The fair girl, whether overcome with her emotion, or restrained
by those delicate scruples of her sex, which constitute the charm
of modesty, rendered him no oral reply, but gently pressed his
trembling hand. As she did so, a loud flourish of trumpets, that
made the ear ring again, was heard without.

“What have we here?” cried Bernard.

Thus speaking, he rushed forwards to the chamber-casement, and
threw it open.

A concourse of citizens were assembled below; and at Temple-bar,
under the archway of the gate, were a troop of mounted heralds,
sounding trumpets. As Bernard appeared at the window, the music
ceased, and one of the heralds, holding a written paper in his
hand, spurred to the front, and, amidst a profound silence,
delivered the following

                        =_Proclamation._=

  “Elizabeth, by the Grace of God, of England, France, and Ireland,
  Queen, Defender of the Faith, to our loyal citizens of London,
  and all others, our loving lieges, greeting:--

  “Whereas it is not unknown to us, that our right trusty and
  singular good subjects, throughout this our realm, look with
  exceeding alarm for the event and issue of that armada, which,
  as they are well advised, hath been directed against the peace
  of God’s Church, and the honour and security of our crown, by
  Philip, King of Spain, and others,--

  “And whereas, it hath ever been our royal care, since we espoused
  this crown and people, to deliver them, our aforesaid subjects,
  from all concern and tribulation, and make them and their hearts
  our happy and only husband,--

  “Be it known unto all men, by these presents, that we have this
  morning received an advertisement from our Admiral, my Lord
  Howard of Effingham, setting forth that he hath, with great
  slaughter of the enemy, entirely overcome, and utterly put to the
  rout, the said Armada, for which we humbly give God our hearty
  thanks.

  “Given under our hand and seal, at our court of Westminster,
  this 30th day of July, in the year of our Lord God 1588, and the
  thirtieth year of our reign.
                                                   “ELIZABETH, R.”

As the herald ceased speaking, the roar of the Tower guns, firing
a _feu de joie_, burst on the ear; and the voices of the populace
rose in one heart-thrilling shout of

                       GOD SAVE THE QUEEN!

                            THE END.

London: HENRY RICHARDS, Brydges street, Covent-garden.



Transcriber’s Notes:


Period spelling and hyphenation were retained. Missing
punctuation added; extraneous punctuation (quotation marks)
removed. However, the following apparent printing errors were
detected and corrected (where possible).

“accurary” changed to “accuracy” on page 5. (with surprising
accuracy)

“no” changed to “not” on page 24. (and a not very encouraging
feature)

“crted” on page 58 is probably a printing error, but the original
word could not be determined (the chill of horror that crted over
his brain)

“thoughs” changed to “thoughts” on page 68. (struggle with her
thoughts unaided)

“familar” changed to “familiar” on page 79. (familiar to me as
Master Clifford’s)

“exhilirate” changed to “exhilarate” on page 177, to match other
occurrences of the word. (to exhilarate her father)

“molestatation” changed to “molestation” on page 251. (she
encountered no molestation)





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