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´╗┐Title: St. George and St. Michael Volume I
Author: MacDonald, George
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "St. George and St. Michael Volume I" ***

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ST. GEORGE AND ST. MICHAEL

BY GEORGE MACDONALD

IN THREE VOLUMES

VOL. I.

LONDON

1876



CONTENTS OF VOL. I.



CHAPTER I. DOROTHY AND RICHARD.

CHAPTER II. RICHARD AND HIS FATHER.

CHAPTER III. THE WITCH.

CHAPTER IV. A CHAPTER OF FOOLS.

CHAPTER V. ANIMADVERSIONS.

CHAPTER VI. PREPARATIONS.

CHAPTER VII. REFLECTIONS.

CHAPTER VIII. AN ADVENTURE.

CHAPTER IX. LOVE AND WAR.

CHAPTER X. DOROTHY'S REFUGE.

CHAPTER XI. RAGLAN CASTLE.

CHAPTER XII. THE TWO MARQUISES.

CHAPTER XIII. THE MAGICIAN'S VAULT.

CHAPTER XIV. SEVERAL PEOPLE.

CHAPTER XV. HUSBAND AND WIFE.

CHAPTER XVI. DOROTHY'S INITIATION.



ST. GEORGE AND ST. MICHAEL.

CHAPTER I.

DOROTHY AND RICHARD.



It was the middle of autumn, and had rained all day. Through the
lozenge-panes of the wide oriel window the world appeared in the
slowly gathering dusk not a little dismal. The drops that clung
trickling to the dim glass added rain and gloom to the landscape
beyond, whither the eye passed, as if vaguely seeking that help in
the distance, which the dripping hollyhocks and sodden sunflowers
bordering the little lawn, or the honeysuckle covering the wide
porch, from which the slow rain dropped ceaselessly upon the
pebble-paving below, could not give--steepy slopes, hedge-divided
into small fields, some green and dotted with red cattle, others
crowded with shocks of bedraggled and drooping corn, which looked
suffering and patient.

The room to which the window having this prospect belonged was large
and low, with a dark floor of uncarpeted oak. It opened immediately
upon the porch, and although a good fire of logs blazed on the
hearth, was chilly to the sense of the old man, who, with his feet
on the skin of a fallow-deer, sat gazing sadly into the flames,
which shone rosy through the thin hands spread out before them. At
the opposite corner of the great low-arched chimney sat a lady past
the prime of life, but still beautiful, though the beauty was all
but merged in the loveliness that rises from the heart to the face
of such as have taken the greatest step in life--that is, as the
old proverb says, the step out of doors. She was plainly yet rather
richly dressed, in garments of an old-fashioned and well-preserved
look. Her hair was cut short above her forehead, and frizzed out in
bunches of little curls on each side. On her head was a covering of
dark stuff, like a nun's veil, which fell behind and on her
shoulders. Close round her neck was a string of amber beads, that
gave a soft harmonious light to her complexion. Her dark eyes looked
as if they found repose there, so quietly did they rest on the face
of the old man, who was plainly a clergyman. It was a small, pale,
thin, delicately and symmetrically formed face, yet not the less a
strong one, with endurance on the somewhat sad brow, and force in
the closed lips, while a good conscience looked clear out of the
grey eyes.

They had been talking about the fast-gathering tide of opinion
which, driven on by the wind of words, had already begun to beat so
furiously against the moles and ramparts of Church and kingdom. The
execution of lord Strafford was news that had not yet begun to 'hiss
the speaker.'

'It is indeed an evil time,' said the old man. 'The world has seldom
seen its like.'

'But tell me, master Herbert,' said the lady, 'why comes it in this
our day? For our sins or for the sins of our fathers?'

'Be it far from me to presume to set forth the ways of Providence!'
returned her guest. 'I meddle not, like some that should be wiser,
with the calling of the prophet. It is enough for me to know that
ever and again the pride of man will gather to "a mighty and a
fearful head," and, like a swollen mill-pond overfed of rains, burst
the banks that confine it, whether they be the laws of the land or
the ordinances of the church, usurping on the fruitful meadows, the
hope of life for man and beast. Alas!' he went on, with a new
suggestion from the image he had been using, 'if the beginning of
strife be as the letting out of water, what shall be the end of that
strife whose beginning is the letting out of blood?'

'Think you then, good sir, that thus it has always been? that such
times of fierce ungodly tempest must ever follow upon seasons of
peace and comfort?--even as your cousin of holy memory, in his
verses concerning the church militant, writes:

"Thus also sin and darkness follow still The church and sun, with
all their power and skill."'

'Truly it seems so. But I thank God the days of my pilgrimage are
nearly numbered. To judge by the tokens the wise man gives us, the
mourners are already going about my streets. The almond-tree
flourisheth at least.'

He smiled as he spoke, laying his hand on his grey head.

'But think of those whom we must leave behind us, master Herbert.
How will it fare with them?' said the lady in troubled tone, and
glancing in the direction of the window.

In the window sat a girl, gazing from it with the look of a child
who had uttered all her incantations, and could imagine no abatement
in the steady rain-pour.

'We shall leave behind us strong hearts and sound heads too,' said
Mr. Herbert. 'And I bethink me there will be none stronger or
sounder than those of your young cousins, my late pupils, of whom I
hear brave things from Oxford, and in whose affection my spirit
constantly rejoices.'

'You will be glad to hear such good news of your relatives,
Dorothy,' said the lady, addressing her daughter.

Even as she said the words, the setting sun broke through the mass
of grey cloud, and poured over the earth a level flood of radiance,
in which the red wheat glowed, and the drops that hung on every ear
flashed like diamonds. The girl's hair caught it as she turned her
face to answer her mother, and an aureole of brown-tinted gold
gleamed for a moment about her head.

'I am glad that you are pleased, madam, but you know I have never
seen them--or heard of them, except from master Herbert, who has,
indeed, often spoke rare things of them.'

'Mistress Dorothy will still know the reason why,' said the
clergyman, smiling, and the two resumed their conversation. But the
girl rose, and, turning again to the window, stood for a moment rapt
in the transfiguration passing upon the world. The vault of grey was
utterly shattered, but, gathering glory from ruin, was hurrying in
rosy masses away from under the loftier vault of blue. The ordered
shocks upon twenty fields sent their long purple shadows across the
flush; and the evening wind, like the sighing that follows departed
tears, was shaking the jewels from their feathery tops. The
sunflowers and hollyhocks no longer cowered under the tyranny of the
rain, but bowed beneath the weight of the gems that adorned them. A
flame burned as upon an altar on the top of every tree, and the very
pools that lay on the distant road had their message of light to
give to the hopeless earth. As she gazed, another hue than that of
the sunset, yet rosy too, gradually flushed the face of the maiden.
She turned suddenly from the window, and left the room, shaking a
shower of diamonds from the honeysuckle as she passed out through
the porch upon the gravel walk.

Possibly her elders found her departure a relief, for although they
took no notice of it, their talk became more confidential, and was
soon mingled with many names both of rank and note, with a
familiarity which to a stranger might have seemed out of keeping
with the humbler character of their surroundings.

But when Dorothy Vaughan had passed a corner of the house to another
garden more ancient in aspect, and in some things quaint even to
grotesqueness, she was in front of a portion of the house which
indicated a far statelier past--closed and done with, like the rooms
within those shuttered windows. The inhabited wing she had left
looked like the dwelling of a yeoman farming his own land; nor did
this appearance greatly belie the present position of the family.
For generations it had been slowly descending in the scale of
worldly account, and the small portion of the house occupied by the
widow and daughter of sir Ringwood Vaughan was larger than their
means could match with correspondent outlay. Such, however, was the
character of lady Vaughan, that, although she mingled little with
the great families in the neighbourhood, she was so much respected,
that she would have been a welcome visitor to most of them.

The reverend Mr. Matthew Herbert was a clergyman from the Welsh
border, a man of some note and influence, who had been the personal
friend both of his late relative George Herbert and of the famous
Dr. Donne. Strongly attached to the English church, and recoiling
with disgust from the practices of the puritans--as much, perhaps,
from refinement of taste as abhorrence of schism--he had never yet
fallen into such a passion for episcopacy as to feel any cordiality
towards the schemes of the archbishop. To those who knew him his
silence concerning it was a louder protest against the policy of
Laud than the fiercest denunciations of the puritans. Once only had
he been heard to utter himself unguardedly in respect of the
primate, and that was amongst friends, and after the second glass
permitted of his cousin George. 'Tut! laud me no Laud,' he said. 'A
skipping bishop is worse than a skipping king.' Once also he had
been overheard murmuring to himself by way of consolement, 'Bishops
pass; the church remains.' He had been a great friend of the late
sir Ringwood; and although the distance from his parish was too
great to be travelled often, he seldom let a year go by without
paying a visit to his friend's widow and daughter.

Turning her back on the cenotaph of their former greatness, Dorothy
dived into a long pleached alley, careless of the drip from
overhead, and hurrying through it came to a circular patch of thin
grass, rounded by a lofty hedge of yew-trees, in the midst of which
stood what had once been a sun-dial. It mattered little, however,
that only the stump of a gnomon was left, seeing the hedge around it
had grown to such a height in relation to the diameter of the
circle, that it was only for a very brief hour or so in the middle
of a summer's day, when, of all periods, the passage of Time seems
least to concern humanity, that it could have served to measure his
march. The spot had, indeed, a time-forsaken look, as if it lay
buried in the bosom of the past, and the present had forgotten it.

Before emerging from the alley, she slackened her pace,
half-stopped, and, stooping a little in her tucked-up skirt, threw a
bird-like glance around the opener space; then stepping into it, she
looked up to the little disc of sky, across which the clouds, their
roses already withered, sailed dim and grey once more, while behind
them the stars were beginning to recall their half-forgotten message
from regions unknown to men. A moment, and she went up to the dial,
stood there for another moment, and was on the point of turning to
leave the spot, when, as if with one great bound, a youth stood
between her and the entrance of the alley.

'Ah ha, mistress Dorothy, you do not escape me so!' he cried,
spreading out his arms as if to turn back some runaway creature.

But mistress Dorothy was startled, and mistress Dorothy did not
choose to be startled, and therefore mistress Dorothy was dignified,
if not angry.

'I do not like such behaviour, Richard,' she said. 'It ill suits
with the time. Why did you hide behind the hedge, and then leap
forth so rudely?'

'I thought you saw me,' answered the youth. 'Pardon my heedlessness,
Dorothy. I hope I have not startled you too much.'

As he spoke he stooped over the hand he had caught, and would have
carried it to his lips, but the girl, half-pettishly, snatched it
away, and, with a strange mixture of dignity, sadness, and annoyance
in her tone, said--

'There has been something too much of this, Richard, and I begin to
be ashamed of it.'

'Ashamed!' echoed the youth. 'Of what? There is nothing but me to be
ashamed of, and what can I have done since yesterday?'

'No, Richard; I am not ashamed of you, but I am ashamed of--of--this
way of meeting--and--and----'

'Surely that is strange, when we can no more remember the day in
which we have not met than that in which we met first! No, dear
Dorothy----'

'It is not our meeting, Richard; and if you would but think as
honestly as you speak, you would not require to lay upon me the
burden of explanation. It is this foolish way we have got into of
late--kissing hands--and--and--always meeting by the old sun-dial,
or in some other over-quiet spot. Why do you not come to the house?
My mother would give you the same welcome as any time these
last--how many years, Richard?'

'Are you quite sure of that, Dorothy?'

'Well--I did fancy she spoke with something more of ceremony the
last time you met. But, consider, she has seen so much less of you
of late. Yet I am sure she has all but a mother's love in her heart
towards you. For your mother was dear to her as her own soul.'

'I would it were so, Dorothy! For then, perhaps, your mother would
not shrink from being my mother too. When we are married, Dorothy--'

'Married!' exclaimed the girl. 'What of marrying, indeed!' And she
turned sideways from him with an indignant motion. 'Richard,' she
went on, after a marked and yet but momentary pause, for the youth
had not had time to say a word, 'it has been very wrong in me to
meet you after this fashion. I know it now, for see what such things
lead to! If you knew it, you have done me wrong.'

'Dearest Dorothy!' exclaimed the youth, taking her hand again, of
which this time she seemed hardly aware, 'did you not know from the
very vanished first that I loved you with all my heart, and that to
tell you so would have been to tell the sun that he shines warm at
noon in midsummer? And I did think you had a little--something for
me, Dorothy, your old playmate, that you did not give to every other
acquaintance. Think of the houses we have built and the caves we
have dug together--of our rabbits, and urchins, and pigeons, and
peacocks!'

'We are children no longer,' returned Dorothy. 'To behave as if we
were would be to keep our eyes shut after we are awake. I like you,
Richard, you know; but why this--where is the use of all this--new
sort of thing? Come up with me to the house, where master Herbert is
now talking to my mother in the large parlour. The good man will be
glad to see you.'

'I doubt it, Dorothy. He and my father, as I am given to understand,
think so differently in respect of affairs now pending betwixt the
parliament and the king, that--'

'It were more becoming, Richard, if the door of your lips opened to
the king first, and let the parliament follow.'

'Well said!' returned the youth with a smile. 'But let it be my
excuse that I speak as I am wont to hear.'

The girl's hand had lain quiet in that of the youth, but now it
started from it like a scared bird. She stepped two paces back, and
drew herself up.

'And you, Richard?' she said, interrogatively.

'What would you ask, Dorothy?' returned the youth, taking a step
nearer, to which she responded by another backward ere she replied.

'I would know whom you choose to serve--whether God or Satan;
whether you are of those who would set at nought the laws of the
land----'

'Insist on their fulfilment, they say, by king as well as people'
interrupted Richard.

'They would tear their mother in pieces----'

'Their mother!' repeated Richard, bewildered.

'Their mother, the church,' explained Dorothy.

'Oh!' said Richard. 'Nay, they would but cast out of her the wolves
in sheep's clothing that devour the lambs.'

The girl was silent. Anger glowed on her forehead and flashed from
her grey eyes. She stood one moment, then turned to leave him, but
half turned again to say scornfully--

'I must go at once to my mother! I knew not I had left her with such
a wolf as master Herbert is like to prove!'

'Master Herbert is no bishop, Dorothy!'

'The bishops, then, are the wolves, master Heywood?' said the girl,
with growing indignation.

'Dear Dorothy, I am but repeating what I hear. For my own part, I
know little of these matters. And what are they to us if we love one
another?'

'I tell you I am a child no longer,' flamed Dorothy.

'You were seventeen last St. George's Day, and I shall be nineteen
next St. Michael's.'

'St. George for merry England!' cried Dorothy.

'St. Michael for the Truth!' cried Richard.

'So be it. Good-bye, then,' said the girl, going.

'What DO you mean, Dorothy?' said Richard; and she stood to hear,
but with her back towards him, and, as it were, hovering midway in a
pace. 'Did not St. Michael also slay his dragon? Why should the
knights part company? Believe me, Dorothy, I care more for a smile
from you than for all the bishops in the church, or all the
presbyters out of it.'

'You take needless pains to prove yourself a foolish boy, Richard;
and if I go not to my mother at once, I fear I shall learn to
despise you--which I would not willingly.'

'Despise me! Do you take me for a coward then, Dorothy?'

'I say not that. I doubt not, for the matter of swords and pistols,
you are much like other male creatures; but I protest I could never
love a man who preferred my company to the service of his king.'

She glided into the alley and sped along its vaulted twilight, her
white dress gleaming and clouding by fits as she went.

The youth stood for a moment petrified, then started to overtake
her, but stood stock-still at the entrance of the alley, and
followed her only with his eyes as she went.

When Dorothy reached the house, she did not run up to her room that
she might weep unseen. She was still too much annoyed with Richard
to regret having taken such leave of him. She only swallowed down a
little balloonful of sobs, and went straight into the parlour, where
her mother and Mr. Herbert still sat, and resumed her seat in the
bay window. Her heightened colour, an occasional toss of her head
backwards, like that with which a horse seeks ease from the bearing-
rein, generally followed by a renewal of the attempt to swallow
something of upward tendency, were the only signs of her
discomposure, and none of them were observed by her mother or her
guest. Could she have known, however, what feelings had already
begun to rouse themselves in the mind of him whose boyishness was an
offence to her, she would have found it more difficult to keep such
composure.

Dorothy's was a face whose forms were already so decided that,
should no softening influences from the central regions gain the
ascendancy, beyond a doubt age must render it hard and unlovely. In
all the roundness and freshness of girlhood, it was handsome rather
than beautiful, beautiful rather than lovely. And yet it was
strongly attractive, for it bore clear indication of a nature to be
trusted. If her grey eyes were a little cold, they were honest eyes,
with a rare look of steadfastness; and if her lips were a little too
closely pressed, it was clearly from any cause rather than bad
temper. Neither head, hands, nor feet were small, but they were fine
in form and movement; and for the rest of her person, tall and
strong as Richard was, Dorothy looked further advanced in the
journey of life than he.

She needed hardly, however, have treated his indifference to the
politics of the time with so much severity, seeing her own
acquaintance with and interest in them dated from that same
afternoon, during which, from lack of other employment, and the
weariness of a long morning of slow, dismal rain, she had been
listening to Mr. Herbert as he dwelt feelingly on the arrogance of
puritan encroachment, and the grossness of presbyterian insolence
both to kingly prerogative and episcopal authority, and drew a
touching picture of the irritant thwartings and pitiful insults to
which the gentle monarch was exposed in his attempts to support the
dignity of his divine office, and to cast its protecting skirt over
the defenceless church; and if it was with less sympathy that he
spoke of the fears which haunted the captive metropolitan, Dorothy
at least could detect no hidden sarcasm in the tone in which he
expressed his hope that Laud's devotion to the beauty of holiness
might not result in the dignity of martyrdom, as might well be
feared by those who were assured that the whole guilt of Strafford
lay in his return to his duty, and his subsequent devotion to the
interests of his royal master: to all this the girl had listened,
and her still sufficiently uncertain knowledge of the affairs of the
nation had, ere the talk was over, blossomed in a vague sense of
partizanship. It was chiefly her desire after the communion of
sympathy with Richard that had led her into the mistake of such a
hasty disclosure of her new feelings.

But her following words had touched him--whether to fine issues or
not remained yet poised on the knife-edge of the balancing will. His
first emotion partook of anger. As soon as she was out of sight a
spell seemed broken, and words came.

'A boy, indeed, mistress Dorothy!' he said. 'If ever it come to what
certain persons prophesy, you may wish me in truth, and that for the
sake of your precious bishops, the boy you call me now. Yes, you are
right, mistress, though I would it had been another who told me so!
Boy indeed I am--or have been--without a thought in my head but of
her. The sound of my father's voice has been but as the wind of the
winnowing fan. In me it has found but chaff. If you will have me
take a side, though, you will find me so far worthy of you that I
shall take the side that seems to me the right one, were all the
fair Dorothies of the universe on the other. In very truth I should
be somewhat sorry to find the king and the bishops in the right,
lest my lady should flatter herself and despise me that I had chosen
after her showing, forsooth! This is master Herbert's doing, for
never before did I hear her speak after such fashion.'

While he thus spoke with himself, he stood, like the genius of the
spot, a still dusky figure on the edge of the night, into which his
dress of brown velvet, rich and sombre at once in the sunlight, all
but merged. Nearly for the first time in his life he was
experiencing the difficulty of making up his mind, not, however,
upon any of the important questions, his inattention to which had
exposed him to such sudden and unexpected severity, but merely as to
whether he should seek her again in the company of her mother and
Mr. Herbert, or return home. The result of his deliberation,
springing partly, no doubt, from anger, but that of no very virulent
type, was, that he turned his back on the alley, passed through a
small opening in the yew hedge, crossed a neglected corner of
woodland, by ways better known to him than to any one else, and came
out upon the main road leading to the gates of his father's park.



CHAPTER II.

RICHARD AND HIS FATHER.



Richard Heywood, as to bodily fashion, was a tall and already
powerful youth. The clear brown of his complexion spoke of plentiful
sunshine and air. A merry sparkle in the depths of his hazel eyes
relieved the shadows of rather notably heavy lids, themselves
heavily overbrowed--with a suggestion of character which had not
yet asserted itself to those who knew him best. Correspondingly, his
nose, although of a Greek type, was more notable for substance than
clearness of line or modelling; while his lips had a boyish fulness
along with a definiteness of bow-like curve, which manly resolve had
not yet begun to compress and straighten out. His chin was at least
large enough not to contradict the promise of his face; his
shoulders were square, and his chest and limbs well developed:
altogether it was at present a fair tabernacle--of whatever sort the
indwelling divinity might yet turn out, fashioning it further after
his own nature.

His father and he were the only male descendants of an old Monmouthshire
family, of neither Welsh nor Norman, but as pure Saxon blood as might be
had within the clip of the ocean. Roger, the father, had once only or
twice in his lifetime been heard boast, in humorous fashion, that
although but a simple squire, he could, on this side the fog of
tradition, which nearer or further shrouds all origin, count a longer
descent than any of the titled families in the county, not excluding the
earl of Worcester himself. His character also would have gone far to
support any assertion he might have chosen to make as to the purity of
his strain. A notable immobility of nature--his friends called it
firmness, his enemies obstinacy; a seeming disregard of what others
might think of him; a certain sternness of manner--an unreadiness, as it
were, to open his door to the people about him; a searching regard with
which he was wont to peruse the face of anyone holding talk with him,
when he seemed always to give heed to the looks rather than the words of
him who spoke; these peculiarities had combined to produce a certain awe
of him in his inferiors, and a dislike, not unavowed, in his equals.
With his superiors he came seldom in contact, and to them his behaviour
was still more distant and unbending. But, although from these causes he
was far from being a favourite in the county, he was a man of such known
and acknowledged probity that, until of late, when party spirit ran high
and drew almost everybody, whether of consequence or not, to one side or
the other, there was nobody who would not have trusted Roger Heywood to
the uttermost. Even now, foes as well as friends acknowledged that he
was to be depended upon; while his own son looked up to him with a
reverence that in some measure overshadowed his affection. Such a
character as this had necessarily been slow in formation, and the
opinions which had been modified by it and had reacted upon it, had been
as unalterably as deliberately adopted. But affairs had approached a
crisis between king and parliament before one of his friends knew that
there were in his mind any opinions upon them in process of
formation--so reserved and monosyllabic had been his share in any
conversation upon topics which had for a long time been growing every
hour of more and more absorbing interest to all men either of
consequence, intelligence, property, or adventure. At last, however, it
had become clear, to the great annoyance of not a few amongst his
neighbours, that Heywood's leanings were to the parliament. But he had
never yet sought to influence his son in regard to the great questions
at issue.

His house was one of those ancient dwellings which have grown under
the hands to fit the wants of successive generations, and look as if
they had never been other than old; two-storied at most, and
many-gabled, with marvellous accretions and projections, the haunts
of yet more wonderful shadows. There, in a room he called his study,
shabby and small, containing a library more notable for quality and
selection than size, Richard the next morning sought and found him.

'Father!' he said, entering with some haste after the usual request
for admission.

'I am here, my son,' answered Roger, without lifting his eyes from
the small folio in which he was reading.

'I want to know, father, whether, when men differ, a man is bound to
take a side.'

'Nay, Richard, but a man is bound NOT to take a side save upon
reasons well considered and found good.'

'It may be, father, if you had seen fit to send me to Oxford, I
should have been better able to judge now.'

'I had my reasons, son Richard. Readier, perhaps, you might have
been, but fitter--no. Tell me what points you have in question.'

'That I can hardly say, sir. I only know there are points at issue
betwixt king and parliament which men appear to consider of
mightiest consequence. Will you tell me, father, why you have never
instructed me in these affairs of church and state? I trust it is
not because you count me unworthy of your confidence.'

'Far from it, my son. My silence hath respect to thy hearing and to
the judgment yet unawakened in thee. Who would lay in the arms of a
child that which must crush him to the earth? Years did I take to
meditate ere I resolved, and I know not yet if thou hast in thee the
power of meditation.'

'At least, father, I could try to understand, if you would unfold
your mind.'

'When you know what the matters at issue are, my son,--that is, when
you are able to ask me questions worthy of answer, I shall be ready
to answer thee, so far as my judgment will reach.'

'I thank you, father, In the meantime I am as one who knocks, and
the door is not opened unto him.'

'Rather art thou as one who loiters on the door-step, and lifts up
neither ring nor voice.'

'Surely, sir, I must first know the news.'

'Thou hast ears; keep them open. But at least you know, my son, that
on the twelfth day of May last my lord of Strafford lost his head.'

'Who took it from him, sir? King or parliament?'

'Even that might be made a question; but I answer, the High Court of
Parliament, my son.'

'Was the judgment a right one or a wrong, sir? Did he deserve the
doom?'

'Ah, there you put a question indeed! Many men say RIGHT, and many
men say WRONG. One man, I doubt me much, was wrong in the share HE
bore therein.'

'Who was he, sir?'

'Nay, nay, I will not forestall thine own judgment. But, in good
sooth, I might be more ready to speak my mind, were it not that I
greatly doubt some of those who cry loudest for liberty. I fear that
had they once the power, they would be the first to trample her
under foot. Liberty with some men means MY liberty to do, and THINE
to suffer. But all in good time, my son! The dawn is nigh.'

'You will tell me at least, father, what is the bone of contention?'

'My son, where there is contention, a bone shall not fail. It is but
a leg-bone now; it will be a rib to-morrow, and by and by doubtless
it will be the skull itself.'

'If you care for none of these things, sir, will not master
Flowerdew have a hard name for you? I know not what it means, but it
sounds of the gallows,' said Richard, looking rather doubtful as to
how his father might take it.

'Possibly, my son, I care more for the contention than the bone, for
while thieves quarrel honest men go their own ways. But what
ignorance I have kept thee in, and yet left thee to bear the
reproach of a puritan!' said the father, smiling grimly. 'Thou
meanest master Flowerdew would call me a Gallio, and thou takest the
Roman proconsul for a gallows-bird! Verily thou art not destined to
prolong the renown of thy race for letters. I marvel what thy cousin
Thomas would say to the darkness of thy ignorance.'

'See what comes of not sending me to Oxford, sir: I know not who is
my cousin Thomas.'

'A man both of learning and wisdom, my son, though I fear me his
diet is too strong for the stomach of this degenerate age, while the
dressing of his dishes is, on the other hand, too cunningly devised
for their liking. But it is no marvel thou shouldest be ignorant of
him, being as yet no reader of books. Neither is he a close kinsman,
being of the Lincolnshire branch of the Heywoods.'

'Now I know whom you mean, sir; but I thought he was a writer of
stage plays, and such things as on all sides I hear called foolish,
and mummery.'

'There be among those who call themselves the godly, who will endure
no mummery but of their own inventing. Cousin Thomas hath written a
multitude of plays, but that he studied at Cambridge, and to good
purpose, this book, which I was reading when you entered, bears good
witness.'

'What is the book, father?'

'Stay, I will read thee a portion. The greater part is of learning
rather than wisdom--the gathered opinions of the wise and good
concerning things both high and strange; but I will read thee some
verses bearing his own mind, which is indeed worthy to be set down
with theirs.'

He read that wonderful poem ending the second Book of the Hierarchy,
and having finished it looked at his son.

'I do not understand it, sir,' said Richard.

'I did not expect you would,' returned his father. 'Here, take the
book, and read for thyself. If light should dawn upon the page, as
thou readest, perhaps thou wilt understand what I now say--that I
care but little for the bones concerning which king and parliament
contend, but I do care that men--thou and I, my son--should be free
to walk in any path whereon it may please God to draw us. Take the
book, my son, and read again. But read no farther save with caution,
for it dealeth with many things wherein old Thomas is too readily
satisfied with hearsay for testimony.'

Richard took the small folio and carried it to his own chamber,
where he read and partly understood the poem. But he was not ripe
enough either in philosophy or religion for such meditations. Having
executed his task, for as such he regarded it, he turned to look
through the strange mixture of wisdom and credulity composing the
volume. One tale after another, of witch, and demon, and magician,
firmly believed and honestly recorded by his worthy relative, drew
him on, until he sat forgetful of everything but the world of
marvels before him--to none of which, however, did he accord a
wider credence than sprung from the interest of the moment. He was
roused by a noise of quarrel in the farmyard, towards which his
window looked, and, laying aside reading, hastened out to learn the
cause.



CHAPTER III.

THE WITCH.



It was a bright Autumn morning. A dry wind had been blowing all
night through the shocks, and already some of the farmers had begun
to carry to their barns the sheaves which had stood hopelessly
dripping the day before. Ere Richard reached the yard, he saw, over
the top of the wall, the first load of wheat-sheaves from the
harvest-field, standing at the door of the barn, and high-uplifted
thereon the figure of Faithful Stopchase, one of the men, a
well-known frequenter of puritan assemblies all the country round,
who was holding forth, and that with much freedom, in tones that
sounded very like vituperation, if not malediction, against some one
invisible. He soon found that the object of his wrath was a certain
Welshwoman, named Rees, by her neighbours considered objectionable
on the ground of witchcraft, against whom this much could with truth
be urged, that she was so far from thinking it disreputable, that
she took no pains to repudiate the imputation of it. Her dress, had
it been judged by eyes of our day, would have been against her, but
it was only old-fashioned, not even antiquated: common in Queen
Elizabeth's time, it lingered still in remote country places--a gown
of dark stuff, made with a long waist and short skirt over a huge
farthingale; a ruff which stuck up and out, high and far, from her
throat; and a conical Welsh hat invading the heavens. Stopchase,
having descried her in the yard, had taken the opportunity of
breaking out upon her in language as far removed from that of
conventional politeness as his puritanical principles would permit.
Doubtless he considered it a rebuking of Satan, but forgot that,
although one of the godly, he could hardly on that ground lay claim
to larger privilege in the use of bad language than the archangel
Michael. For the old woman, although too prudent to reply, she
scorned to flee, and stood regarding him fixedly. Richard sought to
interfere and check the torrent of abuse, but it had already
gathered so much head, that the man seemed even unaware of his
attempt. Presently, however, he began to quail in the midst of his
storming. The green eyes of the old woman, fixed upon him, seemed to
be slowly fascinating him. At length, in the very midst of a volley
of scriptural epithets, he fell suddenly silent, turned from her,
and, with the fork on which he had been leaning, began to pitch the
sheaves into the barn. The moment he turned his back, Goody Rees
turned hers, and walked slowly away.

She had scarcely reached the yard gate, however, before the cow-boy,
a delighted spectator and auditor of the affair, had loosed the
fierce watch-dog, which flew after her. Fortunately Richard saw what
took place, but the animal, which was generally chained up, did not
heed his recall, and the poor woman had already felt his teeth, when
Richard got him by the throat. She looked pale and frightened, but
kept her composure wonderfully, and when Richard, who was prejudiced
in her favour from having once heard Dorothy speak friendlily to
her, expressed his great annoyance that she should have been so
insulted on his father's premises, received his apologies with
dignity and good faith. He dragged the dog back, rechained him, and
was in the act of administering sound and righteous chastisement to
the cow-boy, when Stopchase staggered, tumbled off the cart, and
falling upon his head, lay motionless. Richard hurried to him, and
finding his neck twisted and his head bent to one side, concluded he
was killed. The woman who had accompanied him from the field stood
for a moment uttering loud cries, then, suddenly bethinking herself,
sped after the witch. Richard was soon satisfied he could do nothing
for him.

Presently the woman came running back, followed at a more leisurely
pace by Goody Rees, whose countenance was grave, and, even to the
twitch about her mouth, inscrutable. She walked up to where the man
lay, looked at him for a moment or two as if considering his case,
then sat down on the ground beside him, and requested Richard to
move him so that his head should lie on her lap. This done, she laid
hold of it, with a hand on each ear, and pulled at his neck, at the
same time turning his head in the right direction. There came a
snap, and the neck was straight. She then began to stroke it with
gentle yet firm hand. In a few moments he began to breathe. As soon
as she saw his chest move, she called for a wisp of hay, and having
shaped it a little, drew herself from under his head, substituting
the hay. Then rising without a word she walked from the yard.
Stopchase lay for a while, gradually coming to himself, then
scrambled all at once to his feet, and staggered to his pitchfork,
which lay where it had fallen. 'It is of the mercy of the Lord that
I fell not upon the prongs of the pitchfork,' he said, as he slowly
stooped and lifted it. He had no notion that he had lain more than a
few seconds; and of the return of Goody Rees and her ministrations
he knew nothing; while such an awe of herself and her influences had
she left behind her, that neither the woman nor the cow-boy ventured
to allude to her, and even Richard, influenced partly, no doubt, by
late reading, was more inclined to think than speak about her. For
the man himself, little knowing how close death had come to him, but
inwardly reproached because of his passionate outbreak, he firmly
believed that he had had a narrow escape from the net of the great
fowler, whose decoy the old woman was, commissioned not only to
cause his bodily death, but to work in him first such a frame of
mind as should render his soul the lawful prey of the enemy.



CHAPTER IV.

A CHAPTER OF FOOLS.



The same afternoon, as it happened, a little company of rustics, who
had just issued from the low hatch-door of the village inn, stood
for a moment under the sign of the Crown and Mitre, which swung
huskily creaking from the bough of an ancient thorn tree, then
passed on to the road, and took their way together.

'Hope you then,' said one of them, as continuing their previous
conversation, 'that we shall escape unhurt? It is a parlous
business. Not as one of us is afeard as I knows on. But the old
earl, he do have a most unregenerate temper, and you had better look
to't, my masters.'

'I tell thee, master Upstill, it's not the old earl as I'm afeard
on, but the young lord. For thou knows as well as ere a one it be
not without cause that men do call him a wizard, for a wizard he be,
and that of the worst sort.'

'We shall be out again afore sundown, shannot we?' said another.
'That I trust.'

'Up to the which hour the High Court of Parliament assembled will
have power to protect its own--eh, John Croning?'

'Nay, that I cannot tell. It be a parlous job, and for mine own
part, whether for the love I bear to the truth, or the hatred I
cherish toward the scarlet Antichrist, with her seven tails--'

'Tush, tush, John! Seven heads, man, and ten horns. Those are the
numbers master Flowerdew read.'

'Nay, I know not for your horns; but for the rest I say seven tails.
Did not honest master Flowerdew set forth unto us last meeting that
the scarlet woman sat upon seven hills--eh? Have with you there,
master Sycamore!'

'Well, for the sake of sound argument, I grant you. But we ha'got to
do with no heads nor no tails, neither--save and except as you may
say the sting is in the tail; and then, or I greatly mistake, it's
not seven times seven as will serve to count the stings, come of the
tails what may.'

'Very true,' said another; 'it be the stings and not the tails we
want news of. But think you his lordship will yield them up without
gainsaying to us the messengers of the High Parliament now
assembled?'

'For mine own part,' said John Croning, 'though I fear it come of
the old Adam yet left in me, I do count it a sorrowful thing that
the earl should be such a vile recusant. He never fails with a
friendly word, or it may be a jest--a foolish jest--but honest, for
any one gentle or simple he may meet. More than once has he boarded
me in that fashion. What do you think he said to me, now, one day as
I was a mowin' of the grass in the court, close by the white horse
that spout up the water high as a house from his nose-drills? Says
he to me--for he come down the grand staircase, and steps out and
spies me at the work with my old scythe, and come across to me, and
says he, "Why, Thomas," says he, not knowin' of my name, "Why,
Thomas," says he, "you look like old Time himself a mowing of us all
down," says he. "For sure, my lord," says I, "your lordship reads it
aright, for all flesh is grass, and all the glory of man is as the
flower of the field." He look humble at that, for, great man as he
be, his earthly tabernacle, though more than sizeable, is but a
frail one, and that he do know. And says he, "Where did you read
that, Thomas?" "I am not a larned man, please your lordship," says
I, "and I cannot honestly say I read it nowheres, but I heerd the
words from a book your lordship have had news of: they do call it
the Holy Bible. But they tell me that they of your lordship's
persuasion like it not." "You are very much mistaken there, Thomas,"
says he. "I read my Bible most days, only not the English Bible,
which is full of errors, but the Latin, which is all as God gave
it," says he. And thereby I had not where to answer withal.'

'I fear you proved a poor champion of the truth, master Croning.'

'Confess now, Cast-down Upstill, had he not both sun and wind of
me--standing, so to say, on his own hearth-stone? Had it not been
so, I could have called hard names with the best of you, though that
is by rights the gift of the preachers of the truth. See how the
good master Flowerdew excelleth therein, sprinkling them abroad from
the watering-pot of the gospel. Verily, when my mind is too feeble
to grasp his argument, my memory lays fast hold upon the hard names,
and while I hold by them, I have it all in a nutshell.'

Fortified occasionally by a pottle of ale, and keeping their spirits
constantly stirred by much talking, they had been all day occupied
in searching the Catholic houses of the neighbourhood for arms. What
authority they had for it never came to be clearly understood.
Plainly they believed themselves possessed of all that was needful,
or such men would never have dared it. As it was, they prosecuted it
with such a bold front, that not until they were gone did it occur
to some, who had yielded what arms they possessed, to question
whether they had done wisely in acknowledging such fellows as
parliamentary officials without demanding their warrant. Their day's
gleanings up to this point--of swords and pikes, guns and pistols,
they had left in charge of the host of the inn whence they had just
issued, and were now bent on crowning their day's triumph with a
supreme act of daring--the renown of which they enlarged in their
own imaginations, while undermining the courage needful for its
performance, by enhancing its terrors as they went.

At length two lofty hexagonal towers appeared, and the consciousness
that the final test of their resolution drew nigh took immediate
form in a fluttering at the heart, which, however, gave no outward
sign but that of silence; and indeed they were still too full of the
importance of unaccustomed authority to fear any contempt for it on
the part of others.

It happened that at this moment Raglan Castle was full of
merry-making upon occasion of the marriage of one of lady Herbert's
waiting-gentlewomen to an officer of the household; and in these
festivities the earl of Worcester and all his guests were taking a
part.

Among the numerous members of the household was one who, from being
a turnspit, had risen, chiefly in virtue of an immovably lugubrious
expression of countenance, to be the earl's fool. From this
peculiarity his fellow-servants had given him the nickname of The
Hangman; but the man himself had chosen the role of a puritan
parson, as affording the best ground-work for the display of a
humour suitable to the expression of countenance with which his
mother had endowed him. That mother was Goody Rees, concerning whom,
as already hinted, strange things were whispered. In the earlier
part of his career the fool had not unfrequently found his mother's
reputation a sufficient shelter from persecution; and indeed there
might have been reason to suppose that it was for her son's sake she
encouraged her own evil repute, a distinction involving considerable
risk, seeing the time had not yet arrived when the disbelief in such
powers was sufficiently advanced for the safety of those reported to
possess them. In her turn, however, she ran a risk somewhat less
than ordinary from the fact that her boy was a domestic in the
family of one whose eldest son, the heir to the earldom, lay under a
similar suspicion; for not a few of the household were far from
satisfied that lord Herbert's known occupations in the Yellow Tower
were not principally ostensible, and that he and his man had nothing
to do with the black art, or some other of the many regions of
occult science in which the ambition after unlawful power may
hopefully exercise itself.

Upon occasion of a family fete, merriment was in those days carried
further, on the part of both masters and servants, than in the
greatly altered relations and conditions of the present day would be
desirable, or, indeed, possible. In this instance, the fun broke out
in the arranging of a mock marriage between Thomas Rees, commonly
called Tom Fool, and a young girl who served under the cook. Half
the jest lay in the contrast between the long face of the
bridegroom, both congenitally and wilfully miserable, and that of
the bride, broad as a harvest moon, and rosy almost to purple. The
bridegroom never smiled, and spoke with his jaws rather than his
lips; while the bride seldom uttered a syllable without grinning
from ear to ear, and displaying a marvellous appointment of huge and
brilliant teeth. Entering solemnly into the joke, Tom expressed
himself willing to marry the girl, but represented, as an
insurmountable difficulty, that he had no clothes for the occasion.
Thereupon the earl, drawing from his pocket his bunch of keys,
directed him to go and take what he liked from his wardrobe. Now the
earl was a man of large circumference, and the fool as lank in
person as in countenance.

Tom took the keys and was some time gone, during which many
conjectures were hazarded as to the style in which he would choose
to appear. When he re-entered the great hall, where the company was
assembled, the roar of laughter which followed his appearance made
the glass of its great cupola ring again. For not merely was he
dressed in the earl's beaver hat and satin cloak, splendid with
plush and gold and silver lace, but he had indued a corresponding
suit of his clothes as well, even to his silk stockings, garters,
and roses, and with the help of many pillows and other such farcing,
so filled the garments which otherwise had hung upon him like a
shawl from a peg, and made of himself such a 'sweet creature of
bombast' that, with ludicrous unlikeness of countenance, he bore in
figure no distant resemblance to the earl himself.

Meantime lady Elizabeth had been busy with the scullery-maid, whom
she had attired in a splendid brocade of her grandmother's, with all
suitable belongings of ruff, high collar, and lace wings, such as
Queen Elizabeth is represented with in Oliver's portrait. Upon her
appearance, a few minutes after Tom's, the laughter broke out
afresh, in redoubled peals, and the merriment was at its height,
when the warder of one of the gates entered and whispered in his
master's ear the arrival of the bumpkins, and their mission
announced, he informed his lordship, with all the importance and
dignity they knew how to assume. The earl burst into a fresh laugh.
But presently it quavered a little and ceased, while over the
amusement still beaming on his countenance gathered a slight shade
of anxiety, for who could tell what tempest such a mere whirling of
straws might not forerun?

A few words of the warder's had reached Tom where he stood a little
aside, his solemn countenance radiating disapproval of the
tumultuous folly around him. He took three strides towards the earl.

'Wherein lieth the new jest?' he asked, with dignity.

'A set of country louts, my lord,' answered the earl, 'are at the
gate, affirming the right of search in this your lordship's house of
Raglan.'

'For what?'

'Arms, my lord.'

'And wherefore? On what ground?'

'On the ground that your lordship is a vile recusant--a papist, and
therefore a traitor, no doubt, although they use not the word,' said
the earl.

'I shall be round with them,' said Tom, embracing the assumed
proportions in front of him, and turning to the door.

Ere the earl had time to conceive his intent, he had hurried from
the hall, followed by fresh shouts of laughter. For he had forgotten
to stuff himself behind, and, when the company caught sight of his
back as he strode out, the tenuity of the foundation for such a
'huge hill of flesh' was absurd as Falstaff's ha'p'orth of bread to
the 'intolerable deal of sack.'

But the next moment the earl had caught the intended joke, and
although a trifle concerned about the affair, was of too
mirth-loving a nature to interfere with Tom's project, the result of
which would doubtless be highly satisfactory--at least to those not
primarily concerned. He instantly called for silence, and explained
to the assembly what he believed to be Tom Fool's intent, and as
there was nothing to be seen from the hall, the windows of which
were at a great height from the floor, and Tom's scheme would be
fatally imperilled by the visible presence of spectators, from some
at least of whom gravity of demeanour could not be expected, gave
hasty instructions to several of his sons and daughters to disperse
the company to upper windows having a view of one or the other
court, for no one could tell where the fool's humour might find its
principal arena. The next moment, in the plain dress of rough
brownish cloth, which he always wore except upon state occasions, he
followed the fool to the gate, where he found him talking through
the wicket-grating to the rustics, who, having passed drawbridge and
portcullises, of which neither the former had been raised nor the
latter lowered for many years, now stood on the other side of the
gate demanding admittance. In the parley, Tom Fool was imitating his
master's voice and every one of the peculiarities of his speech to
perfection, addressing them with extreme courtesy, as if he took
them for gentlemen of no ordinary consideration,--a point in his
conception of his part which he never forgot throughout the whole
business. To the dismay of his master he was even more than
admitting, almost boasting, that there was an enormous quantity of
weapons in the castle--sufficient at least to arm ten thousand
horsemen!--a prodigious statement, for, at the uttermost, there was
not more than the tenth part of that amount--still a somewhat larger
provision no doubt than the intruders had expected to find! The
pseudo-earl went on to say that the armoury consisted of one strong
room only, the door of which was so cunningly concealed and secured
that no one but himself knew where it was, or if found could open
it. But such he said was his respect to the will of the most august
parliament, that he would himself conduct them to the said armoury,
and deliver over upon the spot into their safe custody the whole
mass of weapons to carry away with them. And thereupon he proceeded
to open the gate.

By this time the door of the neighbouring guard-room was crowded
with the heads of eager listeners, but the presence of the earl kept
them quiet, and at a sign from him they drew back ere the men
entered. The earl himself took a position where he would be covered
by the opening wicket.

Tom received them into bodily presence with the notification that,
having suspected their object, he had sent all his people out of the
way, in order to avoid the least danger of a broil. Bowing to them
with the utmost politeness as they entered, he requested them to
step forward into the court while he closed the wicket behind them,
but took the opportunity of whispering to one of the men just inside
the door of the guardhouse, who, the moment Tom had led the rustics
away, approached the earl, and told him what he had said.

'What can the rascal mean?' said the earl to himself; but he told
the man to carry the fool's message exactly as he had received it,
and quietly followed Tom and his companions, some of whom,
conceiving fresh importance from the overstrained politeness with
which they had been received, were now attempting a transformation
of their usual loundering gait into a martial stride, with the
result of a foolish strut, very unlike the dignified progress of the
sham earl, whose weak back roused in them no suspicion, and who had
taken care they should not see his face. Across the paved court, and
through the hall to the inner court, Tom led them, and the earl
followed.

The twilight was falling. The hall was empty of life, and filled
with a sombre dusk, echoing to every step as they passed through it.
They did not see the flash of eyes and glimmer of smiles from the
minstrel's gallery, and the solitude, size, and gloom had, even on
their dull natures, a palpable influence. The whole castle seemed
deserted as they followed the false earl across the second
court--with the true one stealing after them like a knave--little
imagining that bright eyes were watching them from the curtains of
every window like stars from the clear spaces and cloudy edges of
heaven. To the north-west corner of the court he led them, and
through a sculptured doorway up the straight wide ascent of stone
called the grand staircase. At the top he turned to the right, along
a dim corridor, from which he entered a suite of bedrooms and
dressing-rooms, over whose black floors he led the trampling
hob-nailed shoes without pity either for their polish or the labour
of the housemaids in restoring it.

In this way he reached the stair in the bell-tower, ascending which
he brought them into a narrow dark passage ending again in a
downward stair, at the foot of which they found themselves in the
long picture-gallery, having entered it in the recess of one of its
large windows. At the other end of the gallery he crossed into the
dining-room, then through an ante-chamber entered the drawing-room,
where the ladies, apprised of their approach, kept still behind
curtains and high chairs, until they had passed through, on their
way to cross the archway of the main entrance, and through the
library gain the region of household economy and cookery. Thither I
will not drag my reader after them. Indeed the earl, who had been
dogging them like a Fate, ever emerging on their track but never
beheld, had already began to pay his part of the penalty of the joke
in fatigue, for he was not only unwieldy in person, but far from
robust, being very subject to gout. He owed his good spirits to a
noble nature, and not to animal well-being. When they crossed from
the picture-gallery to the dining-room, he went down the stair
between, and into the oak-parlour adjoining the great hall. There he
threw himself into an easy chair which always stood for him in the
great bay window, looking over the moat to the huge keep of the
castle, and commanding through its western light the stone bridge
which crossed it. There he lay back at his ease, and, instructed by
the message Tom had committed to the serjeant of the guard, waited
the result.

As for his double, he went stalking on in front of his victims,
never turning to show his face; he knew they would follow, were it
but for the fear of being left alone. Close behind him they kept,
scarce daring to whisper from growing awe of the vast place. The
fumes of the beer had by this time evaporated, and the heavy
obscurity which pervaded the whole building enhanced their growing
apprehensions. On and on the fool led them, up and down, going and
returning, but ever in new tracks, for the marvellous old place was
interminably burrowed with connecting passages and communications of
every sort--some of them the merest ducts which had to be all but
crept through, and which would have certainly arrested the progress
of the earl had he followed so far: no one about the place
understood its "crenkles" so well as Tom. For the greater part of an
hour he led them thus, until, having been on their legs the whole
day, they were thoroughly wearied as well as awe-struck. At length,
in a gloomy chamber, where one could not see the face of another,
the pseudo-earl turned full upon them, and said in his most solemn
tones:--

'Arrived thus far, my masters, it is borne in upon me with rebuke,
that before undertaking to guide you to the armoury, I should have
acquainted you with the strange fact that at times I am myself
unable to find the place of which we are in search; and I begin to
fear it is so now, and that we are at this moment the sport of a
certain member of my family of whom it may be your worships have
heard things not more strange than true. Against his machinations I
am powerless. All that is left us is to go to him and entreat him to
unsay his spells.'

A confused murmur of objections arose.

'Then your worships will remain here while I go to the Yellow Tower,
and come to you again?' said the mock earl, making as if he would
leave them.

But they crowded round him with earnest refusals to be abandoned;
for in their very souls they felt the fact that they were upon
enchanted ground--and in the dark.

'Then follow me,' he said, and conducted them into the open air of
the inner court, almost opposite the archway in its buildings
leading to the stone bridge, whose gothic structure bestrid the moat
of the keep.

For Raglan Castle had this peculiarity, that its keep was surrounded
by a moat of its own, separating it from the rest of the castle, so
that, save by bridge, no one within any more than without the walls
could reach it. On to the bridge Tom led the way, followed by his
dupes--now full in the view of the earl where he sat in his parlour
window. When they had reached the centre of it, however, and
glancing up at the awful bulk of stone towering above them, its
walls strangely dented and furrowed, so as to such as they, might
well suggest frightful means to wicked ends, they stood stock-still,
refusing to go a step further; while their chief speaker, Upstill,
emboldened by anger, fear, and the meek behaviour of the supposed
earl, broke out in a torrent of arrogance, wherein his intention was
to brandish the terrors of the High Parliament over the heads of his
lordship of Worcester and all recusants. He had not got far,
however, before a shrill whistle pierced the air, and the next
instant arose a chaos of horrible, appalling, and harrowing noises,
'such a roaring,' in the words of their own report of the matter to
the reverend master Flowerdew, 'as if the mouth of hell had been
wide open, and all the devils conjured up'--doubtless they meant by
the arts of the wizard whose dwelling was that same tower of fearful
fame before which they now stood. The skin-contracting chill of
terror uplifted their hair. The mystery that enveloped the origin of
the sounds gave them an unearthliness which froze the very fountains
of their life, and rendered them incapable even of motion. They
stared at each other with a ghastly observance, which descried no
comfort, only like images of horror. 'Man's hand is not able to
taste' how long they might have thus stood, nor 'his tongue to
conceive' what the consequences might have been, had not a more
healthy terror presently supervened. Across the tumult of sounds,
like a fiercer flash through the flames of a furnace, shot a
hideous, long-drawn yell, and the same instant came a man running at
full speed through the archway from the court, casting
terror-stricken glances behind him, and shouting with a voice
half-choked to a shriek--

'Look to yourselves, my masters; the lions are got loose!'

All the world knew that ever since King James had set the fashion by
taking so much pleasure in the lions at the Tower, strange beasts
had been kept in the castle of Raglan.

The new terror broke the spell of the old, and the parliamentary
commissioners fled. But which was the way from the castle? Which the
path to the lions' den? In an agony of horrible dread, they rushed
hither and thither about the court, where now the white horse, as
steady as marble, should be when first they crossed it, was, to
their excited vision, prancing wildly about the great basin from
whose charmed circle he could not break, foaming, at the mouth, and
casting huge water-jets from his nostrils into the perturbed air;
while from the surface of the moat a great column of water shot up
nearly as high as the citadel, whose return into the moat was like a
tempest, and with all the elemental tumult was mingled the howling
of wild beasts. The doors of the hall and the gates to the bowling
green being shut, the poor wretches could not find their way out of
the court, but ran from door to door like madmen, only to find all
closed against them. From every window around the court--from the
apartments of the waiting gentlewomen, from the picture-gallery,
from the officers' rooms, eager and merry eyes looked down on the
spot, themselves unseen and unsuspected, for all voices were hushed,
and for anything the bumpkins heard or saw they might have been in a
place deserted of men, and possessed only by evil spirits, whose
pranks were now tormenting them. At last Upstill, who had fallen on
the bridge at his first start, and had ever since been rushing about
with a limp and a leap alternated, managed to open the door of the
hall, and its eastern door having been left open, shot across and
into the outer court, where he made for the gate, followed at varied
distance by the rest of the routed commissioners of search, as each
had discovered the way his forerunner fled. With trembling hands
Upstill raised the latch of the wicket, and to his delight found it
unlocked. He darted through, passed the twin portcullises, and was
presently thundering over the draw-bridge, which, trembling under
his heavy steps, seemed on the point of rising to heave him back
into the jaws of the lion, or, worse still, the clutches of the
enchanter. Not one looked behind him, not even when, having passed
through the white stone gate, also purposely left open for their
escape, and rattled down the multitude of steps that told how deep
was the moat they had just crossed, where the last of them nearly
broke his neck by rolling almost from top to bottom, they reached
the outermost, the brick gate, and so left the awful region of
enchantment and feline fury commingled. Not until the castle was out
of sight, and their leader had sunk senseless on the turf by the
roadside, did they dare a backward look. The moment he came to
himself they started again for home, at what poor speed they could
make, and reached the Crown and Mitre in sad plight, where, however,
they found some compensation in the pleasure of setting forth their
adventures--with the heroic manner in which, although vanquished by
the irresistible force of enchantment, they had yet brought off
their forces without the loss of a single man. Their story spread
over the country, enlarged and embellished at every fresh stage in
its progress.

When the tale reached mother Rees, it filled her with fresh awe of
the great magician, the renowned lord Herbert. She little thought
the whole affair was a jest of her own son's. Firmly believing in
all kinds of magic and witchcraft, but as innocent of conscious
dealing with the powers of ill as the whitest-winged angel betwixt
earth's garret and heaven's threshold, she owed her evil repute
amongst her neighbours to a rare therapeutic faculty, accompanied by
a keen sympathetic instinct, which greatly sharpened her powers of
observation in the quest after what was amiss; while her touch was
so delicate, so informed with present mind, and came therefore into
such rapport with any living organism, the secret of whose suffering
it sought to discover, that sprained muscles, dislocated joints, and
broken bones seemed at its soft approach to re-arrange their
disturbed parts, and yield to the power of her composing will as to
a re-ordering harmony. Add to this, that she understood more of the
virtues of some herbs than any doctor in the parish, which, in the
condition of general practice at the time, is not perhaps to say
much, and that she firmly believed in the might of certain charms,
and occasionally used them--and I have given reason enough why,
while regarded by all with disapprobation--she should be by many
both courted and feared. For her own part she had a leaning to the
puritans, chiefly from respect to the memory of a good-hearted,
weak, but intellectually gifted, and, therefore, admired husband;
but the ridicule of her yet more gifted son had a good deal shaken
this predilection, so that she now spent what powers of
discrimination and choice she possessed solely upon persons,
heedless of principles in themselves, and regarding them only in
their vital results. Hence, it was a matter of absolute indifference
to her which of the parties now dividing the country was in the
right, or which should lose, which win, provided no personal evil
befel the men or women for whom she cherished a preference. Like
many another, she was hardly aware of the jurisdiction of
conscience, save in respect of immediate personal relations.



CHAPTER V.

ANIMADVERSIONS.



From the time when the conversation recorded had in some measure
dispelled the fog between them, Roger and Richard Heywood drew
rapidly nearer to each other. The father had been but waiting until
his son should begin to ask him questions, for watchfulness of
himself and others had taught him how useless information is to
those who have not first desired it, how poor in influence, how soon
forgotten; and now that the fitting condition had presented itself,
he was ready: with less of reserve than in the relation between them
was common amongst the puritans, he began to pour his very soul into
that of his son. All his influence went with that party which,
holding that the natural flow of the reformation of the church from
popery had stagnated in episcopacy, consisted chiefly of those who,
in demanding the overthrow of that form of church government, sought
to substitute for it what they called presbyterianism; but Mr.
Heywood belonged to another division of it which, although less
influential at present, was destined to come by and by to the front,
in the strength of the conviction that to stop with presbyterianism
was merely to change the name of the swamp--a party whose
distinctive and animating spirit was the love of freedom, which
indeed, degenerating into a passion among its inferior members,
broke out, upon occasion, in the wildest vagaries of speech and
doctrine, but on the other hand justified itself in its leaders,
chief amongst whom were Milton and Cromwell, inasmuch as they
accorded to the consciences of others the freedom they demanded for
their own--the love of liberty with them not meaning merely the love
of enjoying freedom, but that respect for the thing itself which
renders a man incapable of violating it in another.

Roger Heywood was, in fact, already a pupil of Milton, whose
anonymous pamphlet of 'Reformation touching Church Discipline' had
already reached him, and opened with him the way for all his
following works.

Richard, with whom my story has really to do, but for the
understanding of whom it is necessary that the character and mental
position of his father should in some measure be set forth, proved
an apt pupil, and was soon possessed with such a passion for justice
and liberty, as embodied in the political doctrines now presented
for his acceptance, that it was impossible for him to understand how
any honest man could be of a different mind. No youth, indeed, of
simple and noble nature, as yet unmarred by any dominant phase of
selfishness, could have failed to catch fire from the enthusiasm of
such a father, an enthusiasm glowing yet restrained, wherein party
spirit had a less share than principle--which, in relation to such a
time, is to say much. Richard's heart swelled within him at the
vistas of grandeur opened by his father's words, and swelled yet
higher when he read to him passages from the pamphlet to which I
have referred. It seemed to him, as to most young people under
mental excitement, that he had but to tell the facts of the case to
draw all men to his side, enlisting them in the army destined to
sweep every form of tyranny, and especially spiritual usurpation and
arrogance, from the face of the earth.

Being one who took everybody at the spoken word, Richard never
thought of seeking Dorothy again at their former place of meeting.
Nor, in the new enthusiasm born in him, did his thoughts for a good
many days turn to her so often, or dwell so much upon her, as to
cause any keen sense of their separation. The flood of new thoughts
and feelings had transported him beyond the ignorant present. In
truth, also, he was a little angry with Dorothy for showing a
foolish preference for the church party, so plainly in the wrong was
it! And what could SHE know about the question by his indifference
to which she had been so scandalised, but to which he had been
indifferent only until rightly informed thereon! If he had ever
given her just cause to think him childish, certainly she should
never apply the word to him again! If he could but see her, he would
soon convince her--indeed he MUST see her--for the truth was not
his to keep, but to share! It was his duty to acquaint her with the
fact that the parliament was the army of God, fighting the great red
dragon, one of whose seven heads was prelacy, the horn upon it the
king, and Laud its crown. He wanted a stroll--he would take the path
through the woods and the shrubbery to the old sun-dial. She would
not be there, of course, but he would walk up the pleached alley and
call at the house.

Reasoning thus within himself one day, he rose and went. But, as he
approached the wood, Dorothy's great mastiff, which she had reared
from a pup with her own hand, came leaping out to welcome him, and
he was prepared to find her not far off.

When he entered the yew-circle, there she stood leaning on the dial,
as if, like old Time, she too had gone to sleep there, and was
dreaming ancient dreams over again. She did not move at the first
sounds of his approach; and when at length, as he stood silent by
her side, she lifted her head, but without looking at him, he saw
the traces of tears on her cheeks. The heart of the youth smote him.

'Weeping, Dorothy?' he said.

'Yes,' she answered simply.

'I trust I am not the cause of your trouble, Dorothy?'

'You!' returned the girl quickly, and the colour rushed to her pale
cheeks. 'No, indeed. How should you trouble me? My mother is ill.'

Considering his age, Richard was not much given to vanity, and it
was something better that prevented him from feeling pleased at
being thus exonerated: she looked so sweet and sad that the love
which new interests had placed in abeyance returned in full tide.
Even when a child, he had scarcely ever seen her in tears; it was to
him a new aspect of her being.

'Dear Dorothy!' he said, 'I am very much grieved to learn this of
your beautiful mother.'

'She IS beautiful,' responded the girl, and her voice was softer
than he had ever heard it before; 'but she will die, and I shall be
left alone.'

'No, Dorothy! that you shall never be,' exclaimed Richard, with a
confidence bordering on presumption.

'Master Herbert is with her now,' resumed Dorothy, heedless of his
words.

'You do not mean her life is even now in danger?' said Richard, in a
tone of sudden awe.

'I hope not, but, indeed, I cannot tell. I left master Herbert
comforting her with the assurance that she was taken away from the
evil to come. "And I trust, madam," the dear old man went on to say,
"that my departure will not long be delayed, for darkness will cover
the earth, and gross darkness the people." Those were his very
words.'

'Nay, nay!' said Richard, hastily; 'the good man is deceived; the
people that sit in darkness shall see a great light.'

The girl looked at him with strange interrogation.

'Do not be angry, sweet Dorothy,' Richard went on. 'Old men may
mistake as well as youths. As for the realm of England, the sun of
righteousness will speedily arise thereon, for the dawn draws nigh;
and master Herbert may be just as far deceived concerning your
mother's condition, for she has been but sickly for a long time, and
yet has survived many winters.'

Dorothy looked at him still, and was silent. At length she spoke,
and her words came slowly and with weight.

'And what prophet's mantle, if I may make so bold, has fallen upon
Richard Heywood, that the word in his mouth should outweigh that of
an aged servant of the church? Can it be that the great light of
which he speaks is Richard Heywood himself?'

'As master Herbert is a good man and a servant of God,' said
Richard, coldly, stung by her sarcasm, but not choosing to reply to
it, 'his word weighs mightily; but as a servant of the church his
word is no weightier than my father's, who is also a minister of the
true tabernacle, that wherein all who are kings over themselves are
priests unto God--though truly he pretends to no prophecy beyond the
understanding of the signs of the times.'

Dorothy saw that a wonderful change, such as had been incredible
upon any but the witness of her own eyes and ears, had passed on her
old playmate. He was in truth a boy no longer. Their relative
position was no more what she had been of late accustomed to
consider it. But with the change a gulf had begun to yawn between
them.

'Alas, Richard!' she said, mistaking what he meant by the signs of
the times, 'those who arrogate the gift of the Holy Ghost, while
their sole inspiration is the presumption of their own hearts and an
overweening contempt of authority, may well mistake signs of their
own causing for signs from heaven. I but repeat the very words of
good master Herbert.'

'I thought such swelling words hardly sounded like your own,
Dorothy. But tell me, why should the persuasion of man or woman hang
upon the words of a fellow-mortal? Is not the gift of the Spirit
free to each who asks it? And are we not told that each must be
fully persuaded in his own mind?'

'Nay, Richard, now I have thee! Hang you not by the word of your
father, who is one, and despise the authority of the true church,
which is many?'

'The true church were indeed an authority, but where shall we find
it? Anyhow, the true church is one thing, and prelatical episcopacy
another. But I have yet to learn what authority even the true church
could have over a man's conscience.'

'You need to be reminded, Richard, that the Lord of the church gave
power to his apostles to bind or loose.'

'I do not need to be so reminded, Dorothy, but I do not need to be
shown first that that power was over men's consciences; and second,
that it was transmitted to others by the apostles waiving the
question as to the doubtful ordination of English prelates.'

Fire flashed from Dorothy's eyes.

'Richard Heywood,' she said, 'the demon of spiritual pride has
already entered into you, and blown you up with a self-sufficiency
which I never saw in you before, or I would never, never have
companied with you, as I am now ashamed to think I have done so
long, even to the danger of my soul's health.'

'In that case I may comfort myself, mistress Dorothy Vaughan,' said
Richard, 'that you will no longer count me a boy! But do you then no
longer desire that I should take one part OR the other and show
myself a man? Am I man enough yet for the woman thou art, Dorothy?
--But, Dorothy,' he added, with sudden change of tone, for she had
in anger turned to leave him, 'I love you dearly, and I am truly
sorry if I have spoken so as to offend you. I came hither eager to
share with you the great things I have learned since you left me
with just contempt a fortnight ago.'

'Then it is I whose foolish words have cast you into the seat of the
scorner! Alas! alas! my poor Richard! Never, never more, while you
thus rebel against authority and revile sacred things, will I hold
counsel with you.'

And again she turned to go.

'Dorothy!' cried the youth, turning pale with agony to find on the
brink of what an abyss of loss his zeal had set him, 'wilt thou,
then, never speak to me more, and I love thee as the daylight?'

'Never more till thou repent and turn. I will but give thee one
piece of counsel, and then leave thee--if for ever, that rests with
thee. There has lately appeared, like the frog out of the mouth of
the dragon, a certain tractate or treatise, small in bulk, but large
with the wind of evil doctrine. Doubtless it will reach your
father's house ere long, if it be not, as is more likely, already
there, for it is the vile work of one they call a puritan, though
where even the writer can vainly imagine the purity of such work to
lie, let the pamphlet itself raise the question. Read the evil
thing--or, I will not say read it, but glance the eye over it. It is
styled "Animadversions upon--." Truly, I cannot recall the
long-drawn title. It is filled, even as a toad with poison, so full
of evil and scurrilous sayings against good men, rating and abusing
them as the very off-scouring of the earth, that you cannot yet be
so far gone in evil as not to be reclaimed by seeing whither such
men and their inspiration would lead you. Farewell, Richard.'

With the words, and without a look, Dorothy, who had been standing
sideways in act to go, swept up the pleached alley, her step so
stately and her head so high that Richard, slowly as she walked
away, dared not follow her, but stood 'like one forbid.' When she
had vanished, and the light shone in full at the far end, he gave a
great sigh and turned away, and the old dial was forsaken.

The scrap of title Dorothy had given was enough to enable Richard to
recognise the pamphlet as one a copy of which his father had
received only a few days before, and over the reading of which they
had again and again laughed unrestrainedly. As he walked home he
sought in vain to recall anything in it deserving of such
reprobation as Dorothy had branded it withal. Had it been written on
the other side no search would have been necessary, for party spirit
(from which how could such a youth be free, when the greatest men of
his time were deeply tainted?), while it blinds the eyes in one
direction, makes them doubly keen in another. As it was, the abuse
in the pamphlet referred to, appeared to him only warrantable
indignation; and, the arrogance of an imperfect love leading him to
utter desertion of his newly-adopted principles, he scorned as
presumptuous that exercise of her own judgment on the part of
Dorothy which had led to their separation, bitterly resenting the
change in his playmate, who, now an angry woman, had decreed his
degradation from the commonest privileges of friendship, until such
time as he should abjure his convictions, become a renegade to the
truth, and abandon the hope of resulting freedom which the strife of
parties held out--an act of tyranny the reflection upon which raised
such a swelling in his throat as he had never felt but once before,
when a favourite foal got staked in trying to clear a fence. Having
neither friend nor sister to whom to confess that he was in
trouble--have confided it he could not in any case, seeing it
involved blame of the woman his love for whom now first, when on the
point of losing her for ever, threatened to overmaster him--he
wandered to the stables, which he found empty of men and nearly so
of horses, half-involuntarily sought the stall of the mare his
father had given him on his last birthday, laid his head on the neck
bent round to greet him, and sighed a sore response to her soft,
low, tremulous whinny.

As he stood thus, overcome by the bitter sense of wrong from the one
he loved best in the world, something darkened the stable-door, and
a voice he knew reached his ear. Mistaking the head she saw across
an empty stall for that of one of the farm-servants, Goody Rees was
calling aloud to know if he wanted a charm for the toothache.

Richard looked up.

'And what may your charm be, mistress Rees?' he asked.

'Aha! is it thou, young master?' returned the woman. 'Thou wilt
marvel to see me about the place so soon again, but verily desired
to know how that godly man, Faithful Stopchase, found himself after
his fall.'

'Nay, mistress Rees, make no apology for coming amongst thy friends.
I warrant thee against further rudeness of man or beast. I have
taken them to task, and truly I will break his head who wags tongue
against thee. As for Stopchase, he does well enough in all except
owing thee thanks which he declines to pay. But for thy charm, good
mistress Rees, what is it--tell me ?'

She took a step inside the door, sent her small eyes peering first
into every corner her sight could reach, and then said:

'Are we alone--we two, master Richard?'

'There's a cat in the next stall, mistress: if she can hear, she
can't speak.'

'Don't be too sure of that, master Richard. Be there no one else?'

'Not a body; soul there may be--who knows?'

'I know there is none. I will tell thee my charm, or what else I may
that thou would wish to know; for he is a true gentleman who will
help a woman because she is a woman, be she as old and ugly as Goody
Rees herself. Hearken, my pretty sir: it is the tooth of a corpse,
drawn after he hath lain a se'en-night in the mould: wilt buy, my
master? Or did not I see thee now asking comfort from thy horse for
the--'

She paused a moment, peered narrowly at him from under lowered
eyebrows, and went on:

'--heartache, eh, master Richard? Old eyes can see through velvet
doublets.'

'All the world knows yours can see farther than other people's,'
returned Richard. 'Heaven knows whence they have their sharpness.
But suppose it were a heartache now, have you got e'er a charm to
cure that?'

'The best of all charms, my young master, is a kiss from the maiden;
and what would thou give me for the spell that should set her by thy
side at the old dial, under a warm harvest moon, all the long hours
'twixt midnight and the crowing of the black cock--eh, my master?
What wilt thou give me?'

'Not a brass farthing, if she came not of her own good will,'
murmured Richard, turning towards his mare. 'But come, mistress
Rees, you know you couldn't do it, even if you were the black witch
the neighbours would have you--though I, for my part, will not hear
a word against you--never since you set my poor old dog upon his
legs again--though to be sure he will die one of these days, and
that no one can help--dogs have such short lives, poor fools!'

'Thou knows not what old mother Rees can do. Tell me, young master,
did she ever say and not do--eh, now?'

'You said you would cure my dog, and you did,' answered Richard.

'And I say now, if thou will, I will set thee and her together by
the old dial to-morrow night, and it shall be a warm and moonlit
night on purpose for ye, an ye will.'

'It were to no good purpose, mistress Rees, for we parted this
day--and that for ever, I much fear me,' said Richard with a deep
sigh, but getting some little comfort even out of a witch's
sympathy.

'Tut, tut, tut! Lovers' quarrels! Who knows not what they mean?
Crying and kissing--crying and kissing--that's what they mean. Come
now--what did thou and she quarrel about?'

The old woman, if not a witch, at least looked very like one, with
her two hands resting on the wide round ledge of her farthingale,
her head thrown back, and from under her peaked hat that pointed
away behind, her two greenish eyes peering with a half-coaxing, yet
sharp and probing gaze into those of the youth.

But how could he make a confidante of one like her? What could she
understand of such questions as had raised the wall of partition
betwixt him and Dorothy? Unwilling to offend her, however, he
hesitated to give her offer a plain refusal, and turning away in
silence, affected to have caught sight of something suspicious about
his mare's near hock.

'I see, I see!' said the old woman grimly, but not ill-naturedly,
and nodded her head, so that her hat described great arcs across the
sky; 'thou art ashamed to confess that thou lovest thy father's
whims more than thy lady's favours. Well, well! Such lovers are
hardly for my trouble!'

But here came the voice of Mr. Heywood, calling his groom. She
started, glanced around her as if seeking a covert, then peered from
the door, and glided noiselessly out.



CHAPTER VI.

PREPARATIONS.



Great was the merriment in Raglan Castle over the discomfiture of
the bumpkins, and many were the compliments Tom received in parlour,
nursery, kitchen, guard-room, everywhere, on the success of his
hastily-formed scheme for the chastisement of their presumption. The
household had looked for a merry time on the occasion of the
wedding, but had not expected such a full cup of delight as had been
pressed out for them betwixt the self-importance of the overweening
yokels and the inventive faculties of Tom Fool. All the evening, one
standing in any open spot of the castle might have heard, now on the
one, now on the other side, renewed bursts of merriment ripple the
air; but as the still autumn night crept on, the intervals between
grew longer and longer, until at length all sounds ceased, and
silence took up her ancient reign, broken only by the occasional
stamp of a horse or howl of a watch-dog.

But the earl, who, from simplicity of nature and peace of conscience
combined, was perhaps better fitted for the enjoyment of the joke,
in a time when such ludifications were not yet considered unsuitable
to the dignity of the highest position, than any other member of his
household, had, through it all, showed a countenance in which,
although eyes, lips, and voice shared in the laughter, there yet
lurked a thoughtful doubt concerning the result. For he knew that,
in some shape or other, and that certainly not the true one, the
affair would be spread over the country, where now prejudice against
the Catholics was strong and dangerous in proportion to the unreason
of those who cherished it. Now, also, it was becoming pretty plain
that except the king yielded every prerogative, and became the
puppet which the mingled pride and apprehension of the Parliament
would have him, their differences must ere long be referred to the
arbitration of the sword, in which case there was no shadow of doubt
in the mind of the earl as to the part befitting a peer of the
realm. The king was a protestant, but no less the king; and not this
man, but his parents, had sinned in forsaking the church--of which
sin their offspring had now to bear the penalty, reaping the
whirlwind sprung from the stormy seeds by them sown. For what were
the puritans but the lawfully-begotten children of the so called
reformation, whose spirit they inherited, and in whose footsteps
they so closely followed? In the midst of such reflections, dawned
slowly in the mind of the devout old man the enchanting hope that
perhaps he might be made the messenger of God to lead back to the
true fold the wandering feet of his king. But, fail or speed in any
result, so long as his castle held together, it should stand for the
king. Faithful catholic as he was, the brave old man was English to
the backbone.

And there was no time to lose. This visit of search, let it have
originated how it might, and be as despicable in itself as it was
ludicrous in its result, showed but too clearly how strong the
current of popular feeling was setting against all the mounds of
social distinction, and not kingly prerogative alone. What
preparations might be needful, must be prudent.

That same night, then, long after the rest of the household had
retired, three men took advantage of a fine half-moon to make a
circuit of the castle, first along the counterscarp of the moat, and
next along all accessible portions of the walls and battlements.
They halted often, and, with much observation of the defences, held
earnest talk together, sometimes eagerly contending rather than
disputing, but far more often mutually suggesting and agreeing. At
length one of them, whom the others called Caspar, retired, and the
earl was left with his son Edward, lord Herbert, the only person in
the castle who had gone to neither window nor door to delight
himself with the discomfiture of the parliamentary commissioners.

They entered the long picture gallery, faintly lighted from its
large windows to the court, but chiefly from the oriel which formed
the northern end of it, where they now sat down, the earl being, for
the second time that night, weary. Behind them was a long dim line
of portraits, broken only by the great chimney-piece supported by
human figures, all of carved stone, and before them, nearly as dim,
was the moon-massed landscape--a lovely view of the woodland,
pasture, and red tilth to the northward of the castle.

They sat silent for a while, and the younger said:

'I fear you are fatigued, my lord. It is late for you to be out of
bed; nature is mortal.'

'Thou sayest well; nature is mortal, my son. But therein lies the
comfort--it cannot last. It were hard to say whether of the two
houses stands the more in need of the hand of the maker.'

'Were it not for villanous saltpetre, my lord, the castle would hold
out well enough.'

'And were it not for villanous gout, which is a traitor within it, I
see not why this other should not hold out as long. Be sure,
Herbert, I shall not render the keep for the taking of the
outworks.'

'I fear,' said his son, wishing to change the subject, 'this part
where we now are is the most liable to hurt from artillery.'

'Yes, but the ground in front is not such as they would readiest
plant it upon,' said the earl. 'Do not let us forecast evil, only
prepare for it.'

'We shall do our best, my lord--with your lordship's good counsel to
guide us.'

'You shall lack nothing, Herbert, that either counsel or purse of
mine may reach unto.'

'I thank your lordship, for much depends upon both. And so I fear
will his majesty find--if it conies to the worst.'

A brief pause followed.

'Thinkest thou not, Herbert,' said the earl, slowly and
thoughtfully, 'it ill suits that a subject should have and to spare,
and his liege go begging?'

'My father is pleased to say so.'

'I am but evil pleased to say so. Bethink thee, son--what man can be
pleased to part with his money? And while my king is poor, I must be
rich for him. Thou wilt not accuse me, Herbert, after I am gone to
the rest, that I wasted thy substance, lad?'

'So long as you still keep wherewithal to give, I shall be content,
my lord.'

'Well, time will show. I but tell thee what runneth in my mind, for
thou and I, Herbert, have bosomed no secrets. I will to bed. We must
go the round again to-morrow--with the sun to hold as a candle.'

The next day the same party made a similar circuit three times--in
the morning, at noon, and in the evening--that the full light might
uncover what the shadows had hid, and that the shadows might show
what a perpendicular light could not reveal. There is all the
difference as to discovery whether a thing is lying under the shadow
of another, or casting one of its own.

After this came a review of the outer fortifications--if, indeed,
they were worthy of the name--enclosing the gardens, the old tilting
yard, now used as a bowling-green, the home-farmyard, and other such
outlying portions under the stewardship of sir Ralph Blackstone and
the governorship of Charles Somerset, the earl's youngest son. It
was here that the most was wanted; and the next few days were
chiefly spent in surveying these works, and drawing plans for their
extension, strengthening, and connection--especially about the
stables, armourer's shop, and smithy, where the building of new
defences was almost immediately set on foot.

A thorough examination of the machinery of the various portcullises
and drawbridges followed; next an overhauling of the bolts, chains,
and other defences of the gates. Then came an inspection of the
ordnance, from cannons down to drakes, through a gradation of names
as uncouth to our ears, and as unknown to the artillery descended
from them, as many of the Christian names of the puritans are to
their descendants of the present day. At length, to conclude the
inspection, lord Herbert and the master of the armoury held
consultation with the head armourer, and the mighty accumulation of
weapons of all sorts was passed under the most rigid scrutiny; many
of them were sent to the forge, and others carried to the
ground-floor of the keep.

Presently, things began to look busy in a quiet way about the place.
Men were at work blasting the rocks in a quarry not far off, whence
laden carts went creeping to the castle; but this was oftener in the
night. Some of them drove into the paved court, for here and there a
buttress was wanted inside, and of the battlements not a few were
weather-beaten and out of repair. These the earl would have let
alone, on the ground that they were no longer more than ornamental,
and therefore had better be repaired AFTER the siege, if such should
befall, for the big guns would knock them about like cards; but
Caspar reminded him that every time the ball from a cannon,
culvering, or saker missed the parapet, it remained a sufficient bar
to the bullet that might equally avail to carry off the defenceless
gunner. The earl, however, although he yielded, maintained that the
flying of the wall when struck was a more than counterbalancing
danger.

The stock of provisions began to increase. The dry larder, which lay
under the court, between the kitchen and buttery, was by degrees
filled with gammons and flitches of bacon, well dried and smoked.
Wheat, barley, oats, and pease were stored in the granary, and
potatoes in a pit dug in the orchard.

Strange faces in the guard-room caused wonderings and questions
amongst the women. The stables began to fill with horses, and 'more
man' to go about the farmyard and outhouses.



CHAPTER VII.

REFLECTIONS.



Left alone with Lady, his mare, Richard could not help
brooding--rather than pondering--over what the old woman had said.
Not that for a moment he contemplated as a possibility the
acceptance of the witch's offer. To come himself into any such close
relations with her as that would imply, was in repulsiveness second
only to the idea of subjecting Dorothy to her influences. For
something to occupy his hands, that his mind might be restless at
will, he gave his mare a careful currying, then an extra feed of
oats, and then a gallop; after which it was time to go to bed.

I doubt if anything but the consciousness of crime will keep healthy
youth awake, and as such consciousness is generally far from it,
youth seldom counts the watches of the night. Richard soon fell fast
asleep, and dreamed that his patron saint--alas for his
protestantism!--appeared to him, handed him a lance headed with a
single flashing diamond, and told him to go and therewith kill the
dragon. But just as he was asking the way to the dragon's den, that
he might perform his behest, the saint vanished, and feeling the
lance melting away in his grasp, he gradually woke to find it gone.

After a long talk with his father in the study, he was left to his
own resources for the remainder of the day; and as it passed and the
night drew on, the offer of the witch kept growing upon his
imagination, and his longing to see Dorothy became stronger and
stronger, until at last it was almost too intense to be borne. He
had never before known such a possession, and was more than half
inclined to attribute it to the arts of mother Rees.

His father was busy in his study below, writing letters--an
employment which now occupied much of his time; and Richard sat
alone in a chamber in the upper part of one of the many gables of
the house, which he had occupied longer than he could remember. Its
one small projecting lozenge-paned window looked towards Dorothy's
home. Some years ago he had been able to see her window, from it
through a gap in the trees, by favour of which, indeed, they had
indulged in a system of communications by means of coloured
flags--so satisfactory that Dorothy not only pressed into the
service all the old frocks she could find, but got into trouble by
cutting up one almost new for the enlargement of the somewhat
limited scope of their telegraphy. In this window he now sat,
sending his soul through the darkness, milky with the clouded light
of half an old moon, towards the ancient sun-dial, where Time stood
so still that sometimes Richard had known an hour there pass in a
moment.

Never until now had he felt enmity in space: it had been hitherto
rather as a bridge to bear him to Dorothy than a gulf to divide him
from her presence; but now, through the interpenetrative power of
feeling, their alienation had affected all around as well as within
him, and space appeared as a solid enemy, and darkness as an
unfriendly enchantress, each doing what it could to separate betwixt
him and the being to whom his soul was drawn as--no, there was no AS
for such drawing. No opposition of mere circumstances could have
created the feeling; it was the sense of an inward separation taking
form outwardly. For Richard was now but too well convinced that he
had no power of persuasion equal to the task of making Dorothy see
things as he saw them. The dividing influence of imperfect opposing
goods is potent as that of warring good and evil, with this
important difference, that the former is but for a season, and will
one day bind as strongly as it parted, while the latter is
essential, absolute, impassible, eternal.

To Dorothy, Richard seemed guilty of overweening arrogance and its
attendant, presumption; she could not see the form ethereal to which
he bowed. To Richard, Dorothy appeared the dupe of superstition; he
could not see the god that dwelt within the idol. To Dorothy,
Richard seemed to be one who gave the holy name of truth to nothing
but the offspring of his own vain fancy. To Richard, Dorothy
appeared one who so little loved the truth that she was ready to
accept anything presented to her as such, by those who themselves
loved the word more than the spirit, and the chrysalis of safety
better than the wings of power. But it is only for a time that any
good can to the good appear evil, and at this very moment, Nature,
who in her blindness is stronger to bind than the farthest-seeing
intellect to loose, was urging him into her presence; and the heart
of Dorothy, notwithstanding her initiative in the separation, was
leaning as lovingly, as sadly after the youth she had left alone
with the defaced sun-dial, the symbol of Time's weariness. Had they,
however, been permitted to meet as they would, the natural result of
ever-renewed dissension would have been a thorough separation in
heart, no heavenly twilights of loneliness giving time for the love
which grows like the grass to recover from the scorching heat of
intellectual jar and friction.

The waning moon at length peered warily from behind a bank of cloud,
and her dim light melting through the darkness filled the night with
a dream of the day. Richard was no more of a poet or dreamer of
dreams than is any honest youth so long as love holds the bandage of
custom away from his eyes. The poets are they who all their life
long contrive to see over or through the bandage; but they would, I
doubt, have but few readers, had not nature decreed that all youths
and maidens shall, for a period, be it long or short, become aware
that they too are of the race of the singers--shall, in the journey
of their life, at least pass through the zone of song: some of them
recognise it as the region of truth, and continue to believe in it
still when it seems to have vanished from around them; others scoff
as it disappears, and curse themselves for dupes. Through this zone
Richard was now passing. Hence the moon wore to him a sorrowful
face, and he felt a vague sympathy in her regard, that of one who
was herself in trouble, half the light of her lord's countenance
withdrawn. For science had not for him interfered with the shows of
things by a partial revelation of their realities. He had not
learned that the face of the moon is the face of a corpse-world;
that the sadness upon it is the sadness of utter loss; that her
light has in it no dissolved smile, is but the reflex from a
lifeless mirror; that of all the orbs we know best she can have
least to do with lovers' longings and losses, she alone having no
love left in her--the cold cinder of a quenched world. Not an
out-burnt cinder, though! she needs but to be cast again into the
furnace of the sun.

As it was, Richard had gazed at her hardly for a minute when he
found the tears running down his face, and starting up, ashamed of
the unmanly weakness, hardly knew what he was doing before he found
himself in the open air. From the hall clock came the first stroke
of twelve as he closed the door behind him. It was the hour at which
mother Rees had offered him a meeting with Dorothy; but it was
assuredly with no expectation of seeing her that he turned his steps
towards her dwelling.



CHAPTER VIII.

AN ADVENTURE.



When he reached the spot at which he usually turned off by a gap in
the hedge to NEEDLE his way through the unpathed wood, he yielded
to the impulses of memory and habit, and sought the yew-circle,
where for some moments he stood by the dumb, disfeatured stone,
which seemed to slumber in the moonlight, a monument slowly
vanishing from above a vanished grave. Indeed it might well have
been the grave of buried Time, for what fitter monument could he
have than a mutilated sun-dial, what better enclosure than such a
hedge of yews, and more suitable light than that of the dying moon?
Or was it but that the heart of the youth, receiving these things as
into a concave mirror, reprojected them into space, all shadowy with
its own ghostliness and gloom? Close by the dial, like the dark way
into regions where time is not, yawned the mouth of the pleached
alley. Beyond that was her window, on which the moon must now be
shining. He entered the alley, and walked softly towards the house.
Suddenly, down the dark tunnel came rushing upon him Dorothy's
mastiff, with a noise as of twenty soft feet, and a growl as if his
throat had been full of teeth--changing to a boisterous welcome
when he discovered who the stranger was. Fearful of disturbing the
household, Richard soon quieted the dog, which was in the habit of
obeying him almost as readily as his mistress, and, fearful of
disturbing sleepers or watchers, approached the house like a thief.
To gain a sight of Dorothy's window he had to pass that of the
parlour, and then the porch, which he did on the grass, that his
steps might be noiseless. But here the dog started from his heel,
and bounded into the porch, leading after him the eyes of Richard,
who thereupon saw what would have else remained undiscovered--two
figures, namely, standing in its deep shadow. Judging it his part,
as a friend of the family, to see who, at so late an hour, and so
near the house, seemed thus to avoid discovery, Richard drew nearer,
and the next moment saw that the door was open behind them, and that
they were Dorothy and a young man.

'The gates will be shut,' said Dorothy.

'It is no matter; old Eccles will open to me at any hour,' was the
answer.

'Still it were well you went without delay,' said Dorothy; and her
voice trembled a little, for she had caught sight of Richard.

Now not only are anger and stupidity near of kin, but when a man
whose mental movements are naturally deliberate, is suddenly
spurred, he is in great danger of acting like a fool, and Richard
did act like a fool. He strode up to the entrance of the porch, and
said,

'Do you not hear the lady, sir? She tells you to go.'

A voice as cool and self-possessed as the other was hasty and
perturbed, replied,

'I am much in the wrong, sir, if the lady do not turn the command
upon yourself. Until you have obeyed it, she may perhaps see reason
for withdrawing it in respect of me.'

Richard stepped into the porch, but Dorothy glided between them, and
gently pushed him out.

'Richard Heywood!' she said.

'Whew!' interjected the stranger, softly.

'You can claim no right,' she went on, 'to be here at this hour.
Pray go; you will disturb my mother.'

'Who is this man, then, whose right seems acknowledged?' asked
Richard, in ill-suppressed fury.

'When you address me like a gentleman, such as I used to believe
you--'

'May I presume to ask when you ceased to regard me as a gentleman,
mistress Dorothy?'

'As soon as I found that you had learned to despise law and
religion,' answered the girl. 'Such a one will hardly succeed in
acting the part of a gentleman, even had he the blood of the
Somersets in his veins.'

'I thank you, mistress Dorothy,' said the stranger, 'and will profit
by the plain hint. Once more tell me to go, and I will obey.'

'He must go first,' returned Dorothy.

Richard had been standing as if stunned, but now with an effort
recovered himself.

'I will wait for you,' he said, and turned away.

'For whom, sir?' asked Dorothy, indignantly.

'You have refused me the gentleman's name,' answered Richard:
'perhaps I may have the good fortune to persuade himself to be more
obliging.'

'I shall not keep you waiting long,' said the young man
significantly, as Richard walked away.

To do Richard justice, and greatly he needs it, I must make the
remark that such had been the intimacy betwixt him and Dorothy, that
he might well imagine himself acquainted with all the friends of her
house. But the intimacy had been confined to the children; the heads
of the two houses, although good neighbours, had not been drawn
towards each other, and their mutual respect had not ripened into
friendship. Hence many of the family and social relations of each
were unknown to the other; and indeed both families led such a
retired life that the children knew little of their own relatives
even, and seldom spoke of any.

Lady Scudamore, the mother of the stranger, was first cousin to lady
Vaughan. They had been very intimate as girls, but had not met for
years--hardly since the former married sir John, the son of one of
King James's carpet-knights. Hearing of her cousin's illness, she
had come to visit her at last, under the escort of her son. Taken
with his new cousin, the youth had lingered and lingered; and in
fact Dorothy had been unable to get rid of him before an hour
strange for leave-taking in such a quiet and yet hospitable
neighbourhood.

Richard took his stand on the side of the public road opposite the
gate; but just ere Scudamore came, which was hardly a minute after,
a cloud crept over the moon, and, as he happened to stand in a line
with the bole of a tree, Scudamore did not catch sight of him. When
he turned to walk along the road, Richard thought he avoided him,
and, making a great stride or two after him, called aloud--

'Stop, sir, stop. You forget your appointments over easily, I
think.'

'Oh, you ARE there!' said the youth, turning.

'I am glad you acknowledge my presence,' said Richard, not the
better pleased with his new acquaintance that his speech and
behaviour had an easy tone of superiority, which, if indefinably
felt by the home-bred lad, was not therefore to be willingly
accorded. His easy carriage, his light step, his still shoulders and
lithe spine, indicated both birth and training.

'Just the night for a serenade,' he went on, heedless of Richard's
remark, '--bright, but not too bright; cloudy, but not too cloudy.'

'Sir!' said Richard, amazed at his coolness.

'Oh, you want to quarrel with me!' returned the youth. 'But it takes
two to fight as well as to kiss, and I will not make one to-night. I
know who you are well enough, and have no quarrel with you, except
indeed it be true--as indeed it must, for Dorothy tells me so--that
you have turned roundhead as well as your father.'

'What right have you to speak so familiarly of mistress Dorothy?'
said Richard.

'It occurs to me,' replied Scudamore, airily, 'that I had better ask
you by what right you haunt her house at midnight. But I would not
willingly cross you in cold blood. I wish you good a night, and
better luck next time you go courting.'

The moon swam from behind a cloud, and her over ripe and fading
light seemed to the eyes of Richard to gather upon the figure before
him and there revive. The youth had on a doublet of some reddish
colour, ill brought out by the moonlight, but its silver lace and
the rapier hilt inlaid with silver shone the keener against it. A
short cloak hung from his left shoulder, trimmed also with silver
lace, and a little cataract of silver fringe fell from the edges of
his short trousers into the wide tops of his boots, which were
adorned with ruffles. He wore a large collar of lace, and cuffs of
the same were folded back from his bare hands. A broad-brimmed
beaver hat, its silver band fastened with a jewel holding a plume of
willowy feathers, completed his attire, which he wore with just the
slightest of a jaunty air. It was hardly the dress for a walk at
midnight, but he had come in his mother's carriage, and had to go
home without it.

Alas now for Richard's share in the freedom to which he had of late
imagined himself devoted! No sooner had the words last spoken
entered his ears than he was but a driven slave ready to rush into
any quarrel with the man who spoke them. Ere he had gone three paces
he had stepped in front of him.

'Whatever rights mistress Dorothy may have given you,' he said, 'she
had none to transfer in respect of my father. What do you mean by
calling him a roundhead?'

'Why, is he not one?' asked the youth, simply, keeping his ground,
in spite of the unpleasant proximity of Richard's person. 'I am
sorry to have wronged him, but I mistook him for a ringleader of the
same name. I heartily beg your pardon.'

'You did not mistake,' said Richard stupidly.

'Then I did him no wrong,' rejoined the youth, and once more would
have gone his way.

But Richard, angrier than ever at finding he had given him such an
easy advantage, moved with his movement, and kept rudely in front of
him, provoking a quarrel--in clownish fashion, it must be confessed.

'By heaven,' said Scudamore, 'if Dorothy had not begged me not to
fight with you--,' and as he spoke he slipped suddenly past his
antagonist, and walked swiftly away. Richard plunged after him, and
seized him roughly by the shoulder. Instantaneously he wheeled on
the very foot whence he was taking the next stride, and as he turned
his rapier gleamed in the moonlight. The same moment it left his
hand, he scarce knew how, and flew across the hedge. Richard, who
was unarmed, had seized the blade, and, almost by one and the same
movement of his wrist, wrenched the hilt from the grasp of his
adversary, and flung the thing from him. Then closing with the
cavalier, slighter and less skilled in such encounters, the
roundhead almost instantly threw him upon the turf that bordered the
road.

'Take that for drawing on an unarmed man,' he said.

No reply came. The youth lay stunned.

Then compassion woke in the heart of the angry Richard, and he
hastened to his help. Ere he reached him, however, he made an
attempt to rise, but only to stagger and fall again.

'Curse you for a roundhead!' he cried; 'you've twisted some of my
tackle. I can't stand.'

'I'm sorry,' returned Richard, 'but why did you bare bilbo on a
naked man? A right malignant you are !'

'Did I?' returned Scudamore. 'You laid hands on me so suddenly! I
ask your pardon.'

Accepting the offered aid of Richard, he rose; but his right knee
was so much hurt that he could not walk a step without great pain.
Full of regret for the suffering he had caused, Richard lifted him
in his arms, and seated him on a low wall of earth, which was all
that here inclosed lady Vaughan's shrubbery; then, breaking through
the hedge on the opposite side of the way, presently returned with
the rapier, and handed it to him. Scudamore accepted it courteously,
with difficulty replaced it in its sheath, rose, and once more
attempted to walk, but gave a groan, and would have fallen had not
Richard caught him.

'The devil is in it!' he cried, with more annoyance than anger. 'If
I am not in my place at my lord's breakfast to-morrow, there will be
questioning. That I had leave to accompany my mother makes the
mischief. If I had stole away, it would be another matter. It will
be hard to bear rebuke, and no frolic.'

'Come home with me,' said Richard. 'My father will do his best to
atone for the wrong done by his son.'

'Set foot across the threshold of a roundhead fanatic! In the way of
hospitality! Not if the choice lay betwixt that and my coffin!'
cried the cavalier.

'Then let me carry you back to lady Vaughan's,' said Richard, with a
torturing pang of jealousy, which only his sense of right, now
thoroughly roused, enabled him to defy.

'I dare not. I should terrify my mother, and perhaps kill my
cousin.'

'Your mother! your cousin!' cried Richard.

'Yes,' returned Scudamore; 'my mother is there, on a visit to her
cousin lady Vaughan.'

'Alas, I am more to blame than I knew!' said Richard.

'No,' Scudamore went on, heedless of Richard's lamentation. 'I must
crawl back to Raglan as I may. If I get there before the morning, I
shall be able to show reason why I should not wait upon my lord at
his breakfast.'

'You belong to the earl's household, then?' said Richard.

'Yes; and I fear I shall be grey-headed before I belong to anything
else. He makes much of the ancient customs of the country: I would
he would follow them. In the good old times I should have been a
squire at least by now, if, indeed, I had not earned my spurs; but
his lordship will never be content without me to hand him his
buttered egg at breakfast, and fill his cup at dinner with his
favourite claret. And so I am neither more nor less than a page,
which rhymes with my age better than suits it. But the earl has a
will of his own. He is a master worth serving though. And there is
my lady Elizabeth and my lady Mary--not to mention my lord
Herbert!--But,' he concluded, rubbing his injured knee with both
hands, 'why do I prate of them to a roundhead?'

'Why indeed?' returned Richard. 'Are they not, the earl and all his
people, traitors, and that of the worst? Are they not the enemies of
the truth--worshippers of idols, bowing the knee to a woman, and
kissing the very toes of an old man so in love with ignorance, that
he tortures the philosopher who tells him the truth about the world
and its motions?'

'Go on, master Roundhead! I can chastise you, and that you know.
This cursed knee--'

'I will stand unarmed within your thrust, and never budge a foot,'
said Richard. 'But no,' he added, 'I dare not, lest I should further
injure one I have wronged already. Let there be a truce between us.'

'I am no papist,' returned Scudamore. 'I speak only as one of the
earl's household--true men all. For them I cast the word in your
teeth, you roundhead traitor! For myself I am of the English
church.'

'It is but the wolf and the wolf's cub,' said. Richard. 'Prelatical
episcopacy is but the old harlot veiled, or rather, forsooth, her
bloody scarlet blackened in the sulphur fumes of her coming
desolation.'

'Curse on, roundhead,' sighed the youth; 'I must crawl home.'

Once more he rose and made an effort to walk. But it was of no use:
walk he could not.

'I must wait till the morning,' he said, 'when some Christian
waggoner may be passing. Leave me in peace.'

'Nay, I am no such boor!' said Richard. 'Do you think you could
ride?'

'I could try.'

'I will bring you the best mare in Gwent. But tell me your name,
that I may know with whom I have the honour of a feud.'

'My name is Roland Scudamore,' answered the youth. 'Yours I know
already, and round-head as you are, you have some smatch of honour
in you.'

With an air of condescension he held out his hand, which his
adversary, oppressed with a sense of the injury he had done him, did
not refuse.

Richard hurried home, and to the stable, where he saddled his mare.
But his father, who was still in his study, heard the sound of her
hoofs in the paved yard, and met him as he led her out on the road,
with an inquiry as to his destination at such an hour. Richard told
him that he had had a quarrel with a certain young fellow of the
name of Scudamore, a page of the earl of Worcester, whom he had met
at lady Vaughan's: and recounted the result.

'Was your quarrel a just one, my son?'

'No sir. I was in the wrong.'

'Then you are so far in the right now. And you are going to help him
home?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Have you confessed yourself in the wrong?'

'Yes, sir.'

'Then go, my son, but beware of private quarrel in such a season of
strife. This youth and thyself may meet some day in mortal conflict
on the battle-field; and for my part--I know not how it may be with
another--in such a case I would rather slay my friend than my
enemy.'

Enlightened by the inward experience of the moment, Richard was able
to understand and respond to the feeling. How different a sudden
action flashed off the surface of a man's nature may be from that
which, had time been given, would have unfolded itself from its
depths!

Bare-headed, Roger Heywood walked beside his son as he led the mare
to the spot where Scudamore perforce awaited his return. They found
him stretched on the roadside, plucking handfuls of grass, and
digging up the turf with his fingers, thus, and thus alone,
betraying that he suffered. Mr. Heywood at first refrained from any
offer of hospitality, believing he would be more inclined to accept
it after he had proved the difficulty of riding, in which case a
previous refusal might stand in the way. But although a slight groan
escaped as they lifted him to the saddle, he gathered up the reins
at once, and sat erect while they shortened the stirrup-leathers.
Lady seemed to know what was required of her, and stood as still as
a vaulting horse until Richard took the bridle to lead her away.

'I see!' said Scudamore; 'you can't trust me with your horse!'

'Not so, sir,' answered Mr. Heywood. 'We cannot trust the horse with
you. It is quite impossible for you to ride so far alone. If you
will go, you must submit to the attendance of my son, on which I am
sorry to think you have so good a claim. But will you not yet change
your mind and be our guest--for the night at least? We will send a
messenger to the castle at earliest dawn.'

Scudamore declined the invitation, but with perfect courtesy, for
there was that about Roger Heywood which rendered it impossible for
any man who was himself a gentleman, whatever his judgment of him
might be, to show him disrespect. And the moment the mare began to
move, he felt no further inclination to object to Richard's company
at her head, for he perceived that, should she prove in the least
troublesome, it would be impossible for him to keep his seat. He did
not suffer so much, however, as to lose all his good spirits, or
fail in his part of a conversation composed chiefly of what we now
call chaff, both of them for a time avoiding all such topics as
might lead to dispute, the one from a sense of wrong already done,
the other from a vague feeling that he was under the protection of
the foregone injury.

'Have you known my cousin Dorothy long?' asked Scudamore.

'Longer than I can remember,' answered Richard.

'Then you must be more like brother and sister than lovers.'

'That, I fear, is her feeling,' replied Richard, honestly.

'You need not think of me as a rival,' said Scudamore. 'I never saw
the young woman in my life before, and although anything of yours,
being a roundhead's, is fair game--'

'Your humble servant, sir Cavalier!' interjected Richard. 'Pray use
your pleasure.'

'I tell you plainly,' Scudamore went on, without heeding the
interruption, 'though I admire my cousin, as I do any young woman,
if she be but a shade beyond the passable--'

'The ape! The coxcomb!' said Richard to himself.

'I am not, therefore, dying for her love; and I give you this one
honest warning that, though I would rather see mistress Dorothy in
her winding-sheet than dame to a roundhead, I should be--yes, I MAY
be a more dangerous rival in respect of your mare, than of any lady
YOU are likely to set eyes upon.'

'What do you mean?' said Richard gruffly.

'I mean that, the king having at length resolved to be more of a
monarch and less of a saint--'

'A saint!' echoed Richard, but the echo was rather a loud one, for
it startled his mare and shook her rider.

'Don't shout like that!' cried the cavalier, with an oath. 'Saint or
sinner, I care not. He is my king, and I am his soldier. But with
this knee you have given me, I shall be fitter for garrison than
field-duty--damn it.'

'You do not mean that his majesty has declared open war against the
parliament?' exclaimed Richard.

'Faithless puritan, I do,' answered Scudamore. 'His majesty has at
length--with reluctance, I am sorry to hear--taken up arms against
his rebellious subjects. Land will be cheap by-and-by.'

'Many such rumours have reached us,' returned Richard, quietly. 'The
king spares no threats; but for blows--well!'

'Insolent fanatic!' shouted Vaughan, 'I tell you his majesty is on
his way from Scotland with an army of savages; and London has
declared for the king.'

Richard and his mare simultaneously quickened their pace.

'Then it is time you were in bed, Mr Scudamore, for my mare and I
will be wanted,' he cried. 'God be praised! I thank you for the good
news. It makes me young again to hear it.'

'What the devil do you mean by jerking this cursed knee of mine so?'
shouted Scudamore. 'Faith, you were young enough in all conscience
already, you fool! You want to keep me in bed, as well as send me
there! Well out of the way, you think! But I give you honest warning
to look after your mare, for I vow I have fallen in love with her.
She's worth three, at least, of your mistress Dorothies.'

'You talk like a Dutch boor,' said Richard.

'Saith an English lout,' retorted Scudamore. 'But, all things being
lawful in love and war, not to mention hate and rebellion, this
mare, if I am blessed with a chance, shall be--well, shall be
translated.'

'You mean from Redware to Raglan.'

'Where she shall be entertained in a manner worthy of her, which is
saying no little, if all her paces and points be equal to her walk
and her crest.'

'I trust you will be more pitiful to my poor Lady,' said Richard,
quietly. 'If all they say be true, Raglan stables are no place for a
mare of her breeding.'

'What do you mean, roundhead?'

'Folk say your stables at Raglan are like other some Raglan
matters--of the infernal sort.'

Scudamore was silent for a moment.

'Whether the stables be under the pavement or over the leads,' he
returned at last, 'there are not a few in them as good as she--of
which I hope to satisfy my Lady some day,' he added, patting the
mare's neck.

'Wert thou not hurt already, I would pitch thee out of the saddle,'
said Richard.

'Were I not hurt in the knee, thou couldst not,' said Scudamore.

'I need not lay hand upon thee. Wert thou as sound in limb as thou
art in wind, thou wouldst feel thyself on the road ere thou knewest
thou hadst taken leave of the saddle--did I but give the mare the
sign she knows.'

'By God's grace,' said the cavalier, 'she shall be mine, and teach
me the trick of it.'

Richard answered only with a grim laugh, and again, but more gently
this time, quickened the mare's pace. Little more had passed between
them when the six-sided towers of Raglan rose on their view.

Richard had, from childhood, been familiar with their aspect,
especially that of the huge one called the Yellow Tower, but he had
never yet been within the walls that encircled them. At any time
during his life, almost up to the present hour, he might have
entered without question, for the gates were seldom closed and never
locked, the portcullises, sheathed in the wall above, hung moveless
in their rusty chains, and the drawbridges spanned the moat from
scarp to counterscarp, as if from the first their beams had rested
there in solid masonry. And still, during the day, there was little
sign of change, beyond an indefinable presence of busier life, even
in the hush of the hot autumnal noon. But at night the drawbridges
rose and the portcullises descended--each with its own peculiar
creak, and jar, and scrape, setting the young rooks cawing in reply
from every pinnacle and tree-top--never later than the last moment
when the warder could see anything larger than a cat on the brow of
the road this side the village. For who could tell when, or with
what force at their command, the parliament might claim possession?
And now another of the frequent reports had arrived, that the king
had at length resorted to arms. It was altogether necessary for such
as occupied a stronghold, unless willing to yield it to the first
who demanded entrance, to keep watch and ward.

Admitted at the great brick gate, the outermost of all, and turning
aside from the steps leading up to the white stone gate and main
entrance beyond, with its drawbridge and double portcullis, Richard,
by his companion's directions, led his mare to the left, and,
rounding the moat of the citadel, sought the western gate of the
castle, which seemed to shelter itself under the great bulk of the
Yellow Tower, the cannon upon more than one of whose bastions
closely commanded it, and made up for its inferiority in defence of
its own.

Scudamore had scarcely called, ere the warder, who had been waked by
the sound of the horse's feet, began to set the machinery of the
portcullis in motion.

'What! wounded already, master Scudamore!' he cried, as they rode
under the archway.

'Yes, Eccles,' answered Scudamore, '--wounded and taken prisoner,
and brought home for ransom!'

As they spoke, Richard made use of his eyes, with a vague notion
that some knowledge of the place might one day or other be of
service, but it was little he could see. The moon was almost down,
and her low light, prolific of shadows, shone straight in through
the lifted portcullis, but in the gateway where they stood, there
was nothing for her to show but the groined vault, the massy walls,
and the huge iron-studded gate beyond.

'Curse you for a roundhead!' cried Scudamore, in the wrath
engendered of a fierce twinge, as Heywood sought to help his lamed
leg over the saddle.

'Dismount on this side then,' said Richard, regardless of the
insult.

But the warder had caught the word.

'Roundhead!' he exclaimed.

Scudamore did not answer until he found himself safe on his feet,
and by that time he had recovered his good manners.

'This is young Mr. Heywood of Redware,' he said, and moved towards
the wicket, leaning on Richard's arm.

But the old warder stepped in front, and stood between them and the
gate.

'Not a damned roundhead of the pack shall set foot across this
door-sill, so long as I hold the gate,' he cried, with a fierce
gesture of the right arm. And therewith he set his back to the
wicket.

'Tut, tut, Eccles !' returned Scudamore impatiently. 'Good words are
worth much, and cost little.'

'If the old dog bark, he gives counsel,' rejoined Eccles, immovable.

Heywood was amused, and stood silent, waiting the result. He had no
particular wish to enter, and yet would have liked to see what could
be seen of the court.

'Where the doorkeeper is a churl, what will folk say of the master
of the house?' said Scudamore.

'They may say as they list; it will neither hurt him nor me,' said
Eccles.

'Make haste, my good fellow, and let us through,' pleaded Scudamore.
'By Saint George! but my leg is in great pain. I fear the knee-cap
is broken, in which case I shall not trouble thee much for a week of
months.'

As he spoke, he stood leaning on Richard's arm, and behind them
stood Lady, still as a horse of bronze.

'I will but drop the portcullis,' said the warder, 'and then I will
carry thee to thy room in my arms. But not a cursed roundhead shall
enter here, I swear.'

'Let us through at once,' said Scudamore, trying the imperative.

'Not if the earl himself gave the order,' persisted the man.

'Ho! ho! what is that you say? Let the gentlemen through,' cried a
voice from somewhere.

The warder opened the wicket immediately, stepped inside, and held
it open while they entered, nor uttered another word. But as soon as
Richard had got Scudamore clear of the threshold, to which he lent
not a helping finger, he stepped quietly out again, closed the
wicket behind him, and taking Lady by the bridle, led her back over
the bridge towards the bowling-green.

Scudamore had just time to whisper to Heywood, 'It is my master, the
earl himself,' when the voice came again.

'What! wounded, Rowland? How is this? And who have you there?'

But that moment Richard heard the sound of his mare's hoofs on the
bridge, and leaving Scudamore to answer for them both, bounded back
to the wicket, darted through, and called her by name. Instantly she
stood stock still, notwithstanding a vicious kick in the ribs from
Eccles, not unseen of Heywood. Enraged at the fellow's insolence, he
dealt him a sudden blow that stretched him at the mare's feet,
vaulted into the saddle, and had reached the outer gate before he
had recovered himself. The sleepy porter had just let him through,
when the warder's signal to let no one out reached him. Richard
turned with a laugh.

'When next you catch a roundhead,' he said, 'keep him;' and giving
Lady the rein, galloped off, leaving the porter staring after him
through the bars like a half-roused wild beast.

Not doubting the rumour of open hostilities, the warder's design had
been to secure the mare, and pretend she had run away, for a good
horse was now more precious than ever.

The earl's study was over the gate, and as he suffered much from
gout and slept ill, he not unfrequently sought refuge in the
night-watches with his friends Chaucer, Gower, and Shakspere.

Richard drew rein at the last point whence the castle would have
been visible in the daytime. All he saw was a moving light. The
walls whence it shone were one day to be as the shell around the
kernel of his destiny.



CHAPTER IX.

LOVE AND WAR.



When Richard reached home and recounted the escape he had had, an
imprecation, the first he had ever heard him utter, broke from his
father's lips. With the indiscrimination of party spirit, he looked
upon the warder's insolence and attempted robbery as the spirit and
behaviour of his master, the earl being in fact as little capable of
such conduct as Mr. Heywood himself.

Immediately after their early breakfast the next morning, he led his
son to a chamber in the roof, of the very existence of which he had
been ignorant, and there discovered to him good store of such armour
of both kinds as was then in use, which for some years past he had
been quietly collecting in view of the time--which, in the light of
the last rumour, seemed to have at length arrived--when strength
would have to decide the antagonism of opposed claims. Probably also
it was in view of this time, seen from afar in silent approach,
that, from the very moment when he took his education into his own
hands, he had paid thorough attention to Richard's bodily as well as
mental accomplishment, encouraging him in all manly sports, such as
wrestling, boxing, and riding to hounds, with the more martial
training of sword-exercises, with and without the target, and
shooting with the carbine and the new-fashioned flint-lock pistols.

The rest of the morning Richard spent in choosing a headpiece, and
mail plates for breast, back, neck, shoulders, arms, and thighs. The
next thing was to set the village tailor at work upon a coat of that
thick strong leather, dressed soft and pliant, which they called
buff, to wear under his armour. After that came the proper equipment
of Lady, and that of the twenty men whom his father expected to
provide from amongst his own tenants, and for whom he had already a
full provision of clothing and armour; they had to be determined on,
conferred with, and fitted, one by one, so as to avoid drawing
attention to the proceeding. Hence both Mr. Heywood and Richard had
enough to do, and the more that Faithful Stopchase, on whom was
their chief dependence, had not yet recovered sufficiently from the
effects of his fall to be equal to the same exertion as formerly--of
which he was the more impatient that he firmly believed he had been
a special object of Satanic assault, because of the present value of
his counsels, and the coming weight of his deeds on the side of the
well-affected. Thus occupied, the weeks passed into months.

During this time Richard called again and again upon Dorothy,
ostensibly to inquire after her mother. Only once, however, did she
appear, when she gave him to understand she was so fully occupied,
that, although obliged by his attention, he must not expect to see
her again.

'But I will be honest, Richard,' she added, 'and let you know
plainly that, were it otherwise in respect of my mother, I yet
should not see you, for you and I have parted company, and are
already so far asunder on different roads that I must bid you
farewell at once while yet we can hear each other speak.'

There was no anger, only a cold sadness in her tone and manner,
while her bearing was stately as towards one with whom she had never
had intimacy. Even her sadness seemed to Richard to have respect to
the hopeless condition of her mother's health, and not at all to the
changed relation between him and her.

'I trust, at least, mistress Dorothy,' he said, with some
bitterness, 'you will grant me the justice that what I do, I do with
a good conscience. After all that has been betwixt us I ask for no
more.'

'What more could the best of men ask for?'

'I, who am far from making any claim to rank with such--'

'I am glad to know it,' interjected Dorothy.

'--am yet capable of hoping that an eye at once keener and kinder
than yours may see conscience at the very root of the actions which
you, Dorothy, will doubtless most condemn.'

Was this the boy she had despised for indifference?

'Was it conscience drove you to sprain my cousin Rowland's knee?'
she asked.

Richard was silent for a moment. The sting was too cruel.

'Pray hesitate not to say so, if such be your conviction,' added
Dorothy.

'No,' replied Richard, recovering himself. 'I trust it is not such a
serious matter as you say; but any how it was not conscience but
jealousy and anger that drove me to that wrong.'

'Did you see the action such at the time?'

'No, surely; else I would not have been guilty of that for which I
am truly sorry now.'

'Then, perhaps, the day will come when, looking back on what you do
now, you will regard it with the like disapprobation.--God grant it
may!' she added, with a deep sigh.

'That can hardly be, mistress Dorothy. I am, in the matters to which
you refer, under the influence of no passion, no jealousy, no self-
seeking, no--'

'Perhaps a deeper search might discover in you each and all of the
bosom-sins you so stoutly abjure,' interrupted Dorothy. 'But it is
needless for you to defend yourself to me; I am not your judge.'

'So much the better for me!' returned Richard; 'I should else have
an unjust as well as severe one. I, on my part, hope the day may
come when you will find something to repent of in such harshness
towards an old friend whom you choose to think in the wrong.'

'Richard Heywood, God is my witness it is no choice of mine. I have
no choice: what else is there to think? I know well enough what you
and your father are about. But there is nothing save my own
conscience and my mother's love I would not part with to be able to
believe you honourably right in your own eyes--not in mine--God
forbid! That can never be--not until fair is foul and foul is fair.'

So saying, she held out her hand.

'God be between thee and me, Dorothy!' said Richard, with solemnity,
as he took it in his.

He spoke with a voice that seemed to him far away and not his own.
Until now he had never realized the idea of a final separation
between him and Dorothy; and even now, he could hardly believe she
was in earnest, but felt, rather, like a child whose nurse threatens
to forsake him on the dark road, and who begins to weep only from
the pitiful imagination of the thing, and not any actual fear of her
carrying the threat into execution. The idea of retaining her love
by ceasing to act on his convictions--the very possibility of
it--had never crossed the horizon of his thoughts. Had it come to
him as the merest intellectual notion, he would have perceived at
once, of such a loyal stock did he come, and so loyal had he himself
been to truth all his days, that to act upon her convictions instead
of his own would have been to widen a gulf at least measurable, to
one infinite and impassable.

She withdrew the hand which had solemnly pressed his, and left the
room. For a moment he stood gazing after her. Even in that moment,
the vague fear that she would not come again grew to a plain
conviction, and forcibly repressing the misery that rose in bodily
presence from his heart to his throat, he left the house, hurried
down the pleached alley to the old sun-dial, threw himself on the
grass under the yews, and wept and longed for war.

But war was not to be just yet. Autumn withered and sank into
winter. The rain came down on the stubble, and the red cattle waded
through red mire to and from their pasture; the skies grew pale
above, and the earth grew bare beneath; the winds grew sharp and
seemed unfriendly; the brooks ran foaming to the rivers, and the
rivers ran roaring to the ocean. Then the earth dried a little, and
the frost came, and swelled and hardened it; the snow fell and lay,
vanished and came again. But even out of the depth of winter,
quivered airs and hints of spring, until at last the mighty weakling
was born. And all this time rumour beat the alarum of war, and men
were growing harder and more determined on both sides--some from
self-opinion, some from party spirit, some from prejudice,
antipathy, animosity, some from sense of duty, mingled more and less
with the alloys of impulse and advantage. But he who was most
earnest on the one side was least aware that he who was most earnest
on the other was honest as himself. To confess uprightness in one of
the opposite party, seemed to most men to involve treachery to their
own; or if they were driven to the confession, it was too often
followed with an attempt at discrediting the noblest of human
qualities.

The hearts of the two young people fared very much as the earth
under the altered skies of winter, and behaved much as the divided
nation. A sense of wrong endured kept both from feeling at first the
full sorrow of their separation; and by the time that the tide of
memory had flowed back and covered the rock of offence, they had got
a little used to the dulness of a day from which its brightest hour
had been blotted. Dorothy learned very soon to think of Richard as a
prodigal brother beyond seas, and when they chanced to meet, which
was but seldom, he was to her as a sad ghost in a dream. To Richard,
on the other hand, she looked a lovely but scarce worshipful
celestial, with merely might enough to hold his heart, swelling with
a sense of wrong, in her hand, and squeeze it very hard. His
consolation was that he suffered for the truth's sake, for to
decline action upon such insight as he had had, was a thing as
impossible as to alter the relations between the parts of a sphere.
Dorothy longed for peace, and the return of the wandering chickens
of the church to the shelter of her wings, to be led by her about
the paled yard of obedience, picking up the barley of righteousness;
Richard longed for the trumpet-blast of Liberty to call her sons
together--to a war whose battles should never cease until men were
free to worship God after the light he had lighted within them, and
the dragon of priestly authority should breathe out his last fiery
breath, no more to drive the feebler brethren to seek refuge in the
house of hypocrisy.

At home Dorothy was under few influences except those of her mother,
and, through his letters, of Mr. Matthew Herbert. Upon the former a
lovely spiritual repose had long since descended. Her anxieties were
only for her daughter, her hopes only for the world beyond the
grave. The latter was a man of peace, who, having found in the
ordinances of his church everything to aid and nothing to retard his
spiritual development, had no conception of the nature of the
puritanical opposition to its government and rites. Through neither
could Dorothy come to any true idea of the questions which agitated
the politics of both church and state. To her, the king was a kind
of demigod, and every priest a fountain of truth. Her religion was
the sedate and dutiful acceptance of obedient innocence, a thing of
small account indeed where it is rooted only in sentiment and
customary preference, but of inestimable value in such cases as
hers, where action followed upon acceptance.

Richard, again, was under the quickening masterdom of a well-stored,
active mind, a strong will, a judgment that sought to keep its
balance even, and whose descended scale never rebounded, a
conscience which, through all the mists of human judgment, eyed ever
the blotted glimmer of some light beyond; and all these elements of
power were gathered in his own father, in whom the customary
sternness of the puritan parent had at length blossomed in
confidence, a phase of love which, to such a mind as Richard's, was
even more enchanting than tenderness. To be trusted by such a
father, to feel his mind and soul present with him, acknowledging
him a fit associate in great hopes and noble aims, was surely and
ought to be, whatever the sentimentalist may say, some comfort for
any sorrow a youth is capable of, such being in general only too
lightly remediable. I wonder if any mere youth ever suffered, from a
disappointment in love, half the sense of cureless pain which, with
one protracted pang, gnaws at the heart of the avaricious old man
who has dropt a sovereign into his draw-well.

But the relation of Dorothy and Richard, although ordinary in
outward appearance, was of no common kind; and while these two thus
fell apart from each other in their outer life, each judging the
other insensible to the call of highest rectitude, neither of them
knew how much his or her heart was confident of the other's
integrity. In respect of them, the lovely simile, in Christabel, of
the parted cliffs, may be carried a little farther, for, under the
dreary sea flowing between them, the rock was one still. Such a
faith may sometimes, perhaps often does, lie in the heart like a
seed buried beyond the reach of the sun, thoroughly alive though
giving no sign: to grow too soon might be to die. Things had indeed
gone farther with Dorothy and Richard, but the lobes of their loves
had never been fairly exposed to the sun and wind ere the swollen
clods of winter again covered them.

Once, in the cold noon of a lovely day of frost, when the lightest
step crackled with the breaking of multitudinous crystals, when the
trees were fringed with furry white, and the old spider-webs
glimmered like filigrane of fairy silver, they met on a lonely
country-road. The sun shone red through depths of half-frozen
vapour, and tinged the whiteness of death with a faint warmth of
feeling and hope. Along the rough lane Richard walked reading what
looked like a letter, but was a copy his father had procured of a
poem still only in manuscript--the Lycidas of Milton. In the glow to
which the alternating hot and cold winds of enthusiasm and
bereavement had fanned the fiery particle within him, Richard was
not only able to understand and enjoy the thought of which the poem
was built, but was borne aloft on its sad yet hopeful melodies as
upon wings of an upsoaring seraph. The flow of his feeling suddenly
broken by an almost fierce desire to share with Dorothy the
tenderness of the magic music of the stately monody, and then, ere
the answering waves of her emotion had subsided, to whisper to her
that the marvellous spell came from the heart of the same wonderful
man from whose brain had issued, like Pallas from Jove's,--
what?--Animadversions upon the Remonstrants Defence against
Smectymnus, the pamphlet which had so roused all the abhorrence her
nature was capable of--he lifted his head and saw her but a few
paces from him. Dorothy caught a glimpse of a countenance radiant
with feeling, and eyes flashing through a watery film of delight;
her own eyes fell; she said, 'Good morning, Richard!' and passed him
without deflecting an inch. The bird of song folded its wings and
called in its shining; the sun lost half his red beams; the
sprinkled seed pearls vanished, and ashes covered the earth; he
folded the paper, laid it in the breast of his doublet, and walked
home through the glittering meadows with a fresh hurt in his heart.

Dorothy's time and thoughts were all but occupied with the nursing
of her mother, who, contrary to the expectation of her friends,
outlived the winter, and revived as the spring drew on. She read
much to her. Some of the best books had drifted into the house and
settled there, but, although English printing was now nearly two
centuries old, they were not many. We must not therefore imagine,
however, that the two ladies were ill supplied with spiritual
pabulum. There are few houses of the present day in which, though
there be ten times as many books, there is so much strong food; if
there was any lack, it was rather of diluents. Amongst those she
read were Queen Elizabeth's Homilies, Hooker's Politie, Donne's
Sermons, and George Herbert's Temple, to the dying lady only less
dear than her New Testament.

But even with this last, it was only through sympathy with her
mother that Dorothy could come into any contact. The gems of the
mind, which alone could catch and reflect such light, lay as yet
under the soil, and much ploughing and breaking of the clods was
needful ere they could come largely to the surface. But happily for
Dorothy, there were amongst the books a few of those precious little
quartos of Shakspere, the first three books of the Faerie Queene,
and the Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia, then much read, if we may
judge from the fact that, although it was not published till after
the death of Sidney, the eighth edition of it had now been nearly
ten years in lady Vaughan's possession.

Then there was in the drawing-room an old spinnet, sadly out of
tune, on which she would yet, in spite of the occasional jar and
shudder of respondent nerves, now and then play at a sitting all the
little music she had learned, and with whose help she had sometimes
even tried to find out an air for words that had taken her fancy.

Also, she had the house to look after, the live stock to see to, her
dog to play with and teach, a few sad thoughts and memories to
discipline, a call now and then from a neighbour, or a longer visit
from some old friend of her mother's to receive, and the few
cottagers on all that was left of the estate of Wyfern to care for;
so that her time was tolerably filled up, and she felt little need
of anything more to occupy at least her hours and days.

Meanwhile, through all nature's changes, through calm and tempest,
rain and snow, through dull refusing winter, and the first passing
visits of open-handed spring, the hearts of men were awaiting the
outburst of the thunder, the blue peaks of whose cloud-built cells
had long been visible on the horizon of the future. Every now and
then they would start and listen, and ask each other was it the
first growl of the storm, or but the rumbling of the wheels of the
government. To the dwellers in Raglan Castle it seemed at least a
stormy sign--of which the news reached them in the dull November
weather--that the parliament had set a guard upon Worcester House in
the Strand, and searched it for persons suspected of high
treason--lord Herbert, doubtless, first of all, the direction and
strength of whose political drift, suspicious from the first because
of his religious persuasion, could hardly be any longer doubtful to
the most liberal of its members.

The news of the terrible insurrection of the catholics in Ireland
followed.

Richard kept his armour bright, his mare in good fettle, himself and
his men in thorough exercise, read and talked with his father, and
waited, sometimes with patience, sometimes without.

At length, in the early spring, the king withdrew to York, and a
body-guard of the gentlemen of the neighbourhood gathered around
him. Richard renewed the flints of his carbine and pistols.

In April, the king, refused entrance into the town of Hull,
proclaimed the governor a traitor. The parliament declared the
proclamation a breach of its privileges. Richard got new girths.

The summer passed in various disputes. Towards its close the
governor of Portsmouth declined to act upon a commission to organize
the new levies of the parliament, and administered instead thereof
an oath of allegiance to the garrison and inhabitants. Thereupon the
place was besieged by Essex; the king proclaimed him a traitor, and
the parliament retorted by declaring the royal proclamation a libel.
Richard had his mare new-shod.

On a certain day in August, the royal standard, with the motto,
'Give to Caesar his due,' was set up at Nottingham. Richard mounted
his mare, and taking leave of his father, led Stopchase and nineteen
men more, all fairly mounted, to offer his services to the
parliament, as represented by the earl of Essex.



CHAPTER X.

DOROTHY'S REFUGE.



With the decay of summer, lady Vaughan began again to sink, and
became at length so weak that Dorothy rarely left her room. The
departure of Richard Heywood to join the rebels affected her deeply.
The report of the utter rout of the parliamentary forces at
Edgehill, lighted up her face for the last time with a glimmer of
earthly gladness, which the very different news that followed
speedily extinguished; and after that she declined more rapidly.
Mrs. Rees told Dorothy that she would yield to the first frost. But
she lingered many weeks. One morning she signed to her daughter to
come nearer that she might speak to her.

'Dorothy,' she whispered, 'I wish much to see good Mr. Herbert.
Prithee send for him. I know it is an evil time for him to travel,
being an old man and feeble, but he will do his endeavour to come to
me, I know, if but for my husband's sake, whom he loved like a
brother. I cannot die in peace without first taking counsel with him
how best to provide for the safety of my little ewe-lamb until these
storms are overblown. Alas! alas! I did look to Richard Heywood--'

She could say no more.

'Do not take thought about the morrow for me any more than you would
for yourself, madam,' said Dorothy. 'You know master Herbert says
the one is as the other.'

She kissed her mother's hand as she spoke, then hastened from the
room, and despatched a messenger to Llangattock.

Before the worthy man arrived, lady Vaughan was speechless. By signs
and looks, definite enough, and more eloquent than words, she
committed Dorothy to his protection, and died.

Dorothy behaved with much calmness. She would not, in her mother's
absence, act so as would have grieved her presence. Little passed
between her and Mr. Herbert until the funeral was over. Then they
talked of the future. Her guardian wished much to leave everything
in charge of the old bailiff, and take her with him to Llangattock;
but he hesitated a little because of the bad state of the roads in
winter, much because of their danger in the troubled condition of
affairs, and most of all because of the uncertain, indeed perilous
position of the Episcopalian clergy, who might soon find themselves
without a roof to shelter them. Fearing nothing for himself, he must
yet, in arranging for Dorothy, contemplate the worst of threatening
possibilities; and one thing was pretty certain, that matters must
grow far worse before they could even begin to mend.

But they had more time for deliberation given them than they would
willingly have taken. Mr. Herbert had caught cold while reading the
funeral service, and was compelled to delay his return. The cold
settled into a sort of low fever, and for many weeks he lay
helpless. During this time the sudden affair at Brentford took
place, after which the king, having lost by it far more than he had
gained, withdrew to Oxford, anxious to re-open the treaty which the
battle had closed.

The country was now in a sad state. Whichever party was uppermost in
any district, sought to ruin all of the opposite faction. Robbery
and plunder became common, and that not only on the track of armies
or the route of smaller bodies of soldiers, for bands of mere
marauders, taking up the cry of the faction that happened in any
neighbourhood to have the ascendancy, plundered houses, robbed
travellers, and were guilty of all sorts of violence. Hence it had
become as perilous to stay at home in an unfortified house as to
travel; and many were the terrors which during the winter tried the
courage of the girl, and checked the recovery of the old man. At
length one morning, after a midnight alarm, Mr. Herbert thus
addressed Dorothy, as she waited upon him with his breakfast:

'It fears me much, my dear Dorothy, that the time will be long ere
any but fortified places will be safe abodes. It is a question in my
mind whether it would not be better to seek refuge for you--. But
stay; let me suggest my proposal, rather than startle you with it in
sudden form complete. You are related to the Somersets, are you
not?'

'Yes--distantly.'

'Is the relationship recognized by them?'

'I cannot tell, sir. I do not even distinctly know what the
relationship is. And assuredly, sir, you mean not to propose that I
should seek safety from bodily peril with a household which is, to
say the least, so unfriendly to the doctrines you and my blessed
mother have always taught me! You cannot, or indeed, must you not
have forgotten that they are papists?'

Dorothy had been educated in such a fear of the catholics, and such
a profound disapproval of those of their doctrines rejected by the
reformers of the church of England, as was only surpassed in
intensity by her absolute abhorrence of the assumptions and
negations of the puritans. These indeed roused in her a certain
sense of disgust which she had never felt in respect of what were
considered by her teachers the most erroneous doctrines of the
catholics. But Mr. Herbert, although his prejudices were nearly as
strong, and his opinions, if not more indigenous at least far better
acclimatised than hers, had yet reaped this advantage of a longer
life, that he was better able to atone his dislike of certain
opinions with personal regard for those who held them, and therefore
did not, like Dorothy, recoil from the idea of obligation to one of
a different creed--provided always that creed was catholicism and
not puritanism. For to the church of England, the catholics, in the
presence of her more rampant foes, appeared harmless enough now.

He believed that the honourable feelings of lord Worcester and his
family would be hostile to any attempt to proselytize his ward. But
as far as she was herself concerned, he trusted more to the strength
of her prejudices than the rectitude of her convictions, honest as
the girl was, to prevent her from being over-influenced by the
change of spiritual atmosphere; for in proportion to the simplicity
of her goodness must be her capacity for recognizing the goodness of
others, catholics or not, and for being wrought upon by the virtue
that went out from them. His hope was, that England would have again
become the abode of peace, long ere any risk to her spiritual
well-being should have been incurred by this mode of securing her
bodily safety and comfort.

But there was another fact, in the absence of which he would have
had far more hesitation in seeking for his ewe-lamb the protection
of sheep, the guardians of whose spiritual fold had but too often
proved wolves in sheep-dogs' clothing: within the last few days the
news had reached him that an old friend named Bayly, a true man, a
priest of the English church and a doctor of divinity, had taken up
his abode in Raglan castle as one of the household--chaplain
indeed, as report would have it, though that was hard of belief,
save indeed it were for the sake of the protestants within its
walls. However that might be, there was a true shepherd to whose
care to entrust his lamb; and it was mainly on the strength of this
consideration that he had concluded to make his proposal to
Dorothy--namely, that she should seek shelter within the walls of
Raglan castle until the storm should be so far over-blown, as to
admit either of her going to Llangattock or returning to her own
home. He now discussed the matter with her in full, and,
notwithstanding her very natural repugnance to the scheme, such was
Dorothy's confidence in her friend that she was easily persuaded of
its wisdom. What the more inclined her to yield was, that Mr.
Heywood had written her a letter, hardly the less unwelcome for the
kindness of its tone, in which he offered her the shelter and
hospitality of Redware 'until better days.'

'Better days!' exclaimed Dorothy with contempt. 'If such days as he
would count better should ever arrive, his house is the last place
where I would have them find me!'

She wrote a polite but cold refusal, and rejoiced in the hope that
he would soon hear of her having sought and found refuge in Raglan
with the friends of the king.

Meanwhile Mr. Herbert had opened communication with Dr. Bayly, had
satisfied himself that he was still a true son of the church, and
had solicited his friendly mediation towards the receiving of
mistress Dorothy Vaughan into the family of the marquis of
Worcester, to the dignity of which title the earl had now been
raised--the parliament, to be sure, declining to acknowledge the
patent conferred by his majesty, but that was of no consequence in
the estimation of those chiefly concerned.

On a certain spring morning, then, the snow still lying in the
hollows of the hills, Thomas Bayly came to Wyfern to see his old
friend Matthew Herbert. He was a courteous little man, with a
courtesy librating on a knife-edge of deflection towards
obsequiousness on the one hand and condescension on the other, for
neither of which, however, was his friend Herbert an object. His eye
was keen, and his forehead good, but his carriage inclined to the
pompous, and his speech to the formal, ornate, and prolix. The shape
of his mouth was honest, but the closure of the lips indicated
self-importance. The greeting between them was simple and genuine,
and ere they parted, Bayly had promised to do his best in
representing the matter to the marquis, his daughter-in-law, lady
Margaret, the wife of lord Herbert, and his daughter, lady Anne,
who, although the most rigid catholic in the house, was already the
doctor's special friend.

It would have been greatly unlike the marquis or any of his family
to refuse such a prayer. Had not their house been for centuries the
abode of hospitality, the embodiment of shelter? On the mere
representation of Dr. Bayly, and the fact of the relationship,
which, although distant, was well enough known, within two days
mistress Dorothy Vaughan received an invitation to enter the family
of the marquis, as one of the gentlewomen of lady Margaret's suite.
It was of course gratefully accepted, and as soon as Mr. Herbert
thought himself sufficiently recovered to encounter the fatigues of
travelling, he urged on the somewhat laggard preparations of
Dorothy, that he might himself see her safely housed on his way to
Llangattock, whither he was most anxious to return.

It was a lovely spring morning when they set out together on
horseback for Raglan. The sun looked down like a young father upon
his earth-mothered children, peeping out of their beds to greet him
after the long winter night. The rooks were too busy to caw,
dibbling deep in the soft red earth with their great beaks. The red
cattle, flaked with white, spotted the clear fresh green of the
meadows. The bare trees had a kind of glory about them, like old men
waiting for their youth, which might come suddenly. A few slow
clouds were drifting across the pale sky. A gentle wind was blowing
over the wet fields, but when a cloud swept before the sun, it blew
cold. The roads were bad, but their horses were used to such, and
picked their way with the easy carefulness of experience. The winter
might yet return for a season, but this day was of the spring and
its promises. Earth and air, field and sky were full of peace. But
the heart of England was troubled--troubled with passions both good
and evil--with righteous indignation and unholy scorn, with the love
of liberty and the joy of license, with ambition and aspiration.

No honest heart could yield long to the comforting of the fair
world, knowing that some of her fairest fields would soon be
crimsoned afresh with the blood of her children. But Dorothy's
sadness was not all for her country in general. Had she put the
question honestly to her heart, she must have confessed that even
the loss of her mother had less to do with a certain weight upon it,
which the loveliness of the spring day seemed to render heavier,
than the rarely absent feeling rather than thought, that the
playmate of her childhood, and the offered lover of her youth, had
thrown himself with all the energy of dawning manhood into the
quarrel of the lawless and self-glorifying. Nor was she altogether
free from a sense of blame in the matter. Had she been less
imperative in her mood and bearing, more ready to give than to
require sympathy,--but ah! she could not change the past, and the
present was calling upon her.

At length the towers of Raglan appeared, and a pang of apprehension
shot through her bosom. She was approaching the unknown. Like one on
the verge of a second-sight, her history seemed for a moment about
to reveal itself--where it lay, like a bird in its egg, within those
massive walls, warded by those huge ascending towers. Brought up in
a retirement that some would have counted loneliness, and although
used to all gentle and refined ways, yet familiar with homeliness
and simplicity of mode and ministration, she could not help feeling
awed at the prospect of entering such a zone of rank and stateliness
and observance as the household of the marquis, who lived like a
prince in expenditure, attendance, and ceremony. She knew little of
the fashions of the day, and, like many modest young people, was
afraid she might be guilty of some solecism which would make her
appear ill-bred, or at least awkward. Since her mother left her, she
had become aware of a timidity to which she had hitherto been a
stranger. 'Ah!' she said to herself, 'if only my mother were with
me!'

At length they reached the brick gate, were admitted within the
outer wall, and following the course taken by Scudamore and Heywood,
skirted the moat which enringed the huge blind citadel or keep, and
arrived at the western gate. The portcullis rose to admit them, and
they rode into the echoes of the vaulted gateway. Turning to
congratulate Dorothy on their safe arrival, Mr. Herbert saw that she
was pale and agitated.

'What ails my child?' he said in a low voice, for the warder was
near.

'I feel as if entering a prison,' she replied, with a shiver.

'Is thy God the God of the grange and not of the castle?' returned
the old man.

'But, sir,' said Dorothy, 'I have been accustomed to a liberty such
as few have enjoyed, and these walls and towers--'

'Heed not the look of things,' interrupted her guardian. 'Believe in
the Will that with a thought can turn the shadow of death into the
morning, give gladness for weeping, and the garment of praise for
the spirit of heaviness.'



CHAPTER XI.

RAGLAN CASTLE.



While he yet spoke, their horses, of their own accord, passed
through the gate which Eccles had thrown wide to admit them, and
carried them into the Fountain court. Here, indeed, was a change of
aspect! All that Dorothy had hitherto contemplated was the side of
the fortress which faced the world--frowning and defiant, although
here and there on the point of breaking into a half smile, for the
grim, suspicious, altogether repellent look of the old feudal castle
had been gradually vanishing in the additions and alterations of
more civilised times. But now they were in the heart of the
building, and saw the face which the house of strength turned upon
its own people. The spring sunshine filled half the court; over the
rest lay the shadow of the huge keep, towering massive above the
three-storied line of building which formed the side next it. Here
was the true face of the Janus-building, full of eyes and mouths;
for many bright windows looked down into the court, in some of which
shone the smiling faces of children and ladies peeping out to see
the visitors, whose arrival had been announced by the creaking
chains of the portcullis; and by the doors issued and entered, here
a lady in rich attire, there a gentlemen half in armour, and here
again a serving man or maid. Nearly in the centre of the quadrangle,
just outside the shadow of the keep, stood the giant horse, rearing
in white marble, almost dazzling in the sunshine, from whose
nostrils spouted the jets of water which gave its name to the court.
Opposite the gate by which they entered was the little chapel, with
its triple lancet windows, over which lay the picture-gallery with
its large oriel lights. Far above their roof, ascended from behind
that of the great hall, with its fine lantern window seated on the
ridge. From the other court beyond the hall, that upon which the
main entrance opened, came the sounds of heavy feet in intermittent
but measured tread, the clanking of arms, and a returning voice of
loud command: the troops of the garrison were being exercised on the
slabs of the pitched court.

From each of the many doors opening into the court they had entered,
a path, paved with coloured tiles, led straight through the finest
of turf to the marble fountain in the centre, into whose shadowed
basin the falling water seemed to carry captive as into a prison the
sunlight it caught above. Its music as it fell made a lovely but
strange and sad contrast with the martial sounds from beyond.

It was but a moment they had to note these things; eyes and ears
gathered them all at once. Two of the warder's men already held
their horses, while two other men, responsive to the warder's
whistle, came running from the hall and helped them to dismount.
Hardly had they reached the ground ere a man-servant came, who led
the way to the left towards a porch of carved stone on the same side
of the court. The door stood open, revealing a flight of stairs,
rather steep, but wide and stately, going right up between two
straight walls. At the top stood lady Margaret's gentleman usher,
Mr. Harcourt by name, who received them with much courtesy, and
conducting them to a small room on the left of the landing, went to
announce their arrival to lady Margaret, to whose private parlour
this was the antechamber. Returning in a moment, he led them into
her presence.

She received them with a frankness which almost belied the
stateliness of her demeanour. Through the haze of that reserve which
a consciousness of dignity, whether true or false, so often
generates, the genial courtesy of her Irish nature, for she was an
O'Brien, daughter of the earl of Thomond, shone clear, and justified
her Celtic origin.

'Welcome, cousin!' she said, holding out her hand while yet distant
half the length of the room, across which, upborne on slow firm
foot, she advanced with even, stately motion, 'And you also,
reverend sir,' she went on, turning to Mr. Herbert. 'I am told we
are indebted to you for this welcome addition to our family--how
welcome none can tell but ladies shut up like ourselves.'

Dorothy was already almost at her ease, and the old clergyman soon
found lady Margaret so sensible and as well as courteous--prejudiced
yet further in her favour, it must be confessed, by the pleasant
pretence she made of claiming cousinship on the ground of the
identity of her husband's title with his surname--that, ere he left
the castle, liberal as he had believed himself, he was nevertheless
astonished to find how much of friendship had in that brief space
been engendered in his bosom towards a catholic lady whom he had
never before seen.

Since the time of Elizabeth, when the fear and repugnance of the
nation had been so greatly and justly excited by the apparent
probability of a marriage betwixt their queen and the detested
Philip of Spain, a considerable alteration had been gradually
wrought in the feelings of a large portion of it in respect of their
catholic countrymen--a fact which gave strength to the position of
the puritans in asserting the essential identity of episcopalian
with catholic politics. Almost forty years had elapsed since the
Gunpowder Plot; the queen was a catholic; the episcopalian party was
itself at length endangered by the extension and development of the
very principles on which they had themselves broken away from the
church of Rome; and the catholics were friendly to the government of
the king, under which their condition was one of comfort if not
influence, while under that of the parliament they had every reason
to anticipate a revival of persecution. Not a few of them doubtless
cherished the hope that this revelation of the true spirit of
dissent would result in driving the king and his party back into the
bosom of the church.

The king, on the other hand, while only too glad to receive what aid
he might from the loyal families of the old religion, yet saw that
much caution was necessary lest he should alienate the most earnest
of his protestant friends by giving ground for the suspicion that he
was inclined to purchase their co-operation by a return to the creed
of his Scottish grand-mother, Mary Stuart, and his English
great-great-grand-mother, Margaret Tudor.

On the part of the clergy there had been for some time a
considerable tendency, chiefly from the influence of Laud, to
cultivate the same spirit which actuated the larger portion of the
catholic priesthood; and although this had never led to retrograde
movement in regard to their politics, the fact that both were
accounted by a third party, and that far the most dangerous to
either of the other two, as in spirit and object one and the same,
naturally tended to produce a more indulgent regard of each other
than had hitherto prevailed. And hence, in part, it was that it had
become possible for episcopalian Dr. Bayly to be an inmate of Raglan
Castle, and for good, protestant Matthew Herbert to seek refuge for
his ward with good catholic lady Margaret.

Eager to return to the duties of his parish, through his illness so
long neglected, Mr. Herbert declined her ladyship's invitation to
dinner, which, she assured him, consulting a watch that she wore in
a ring on her little finger, must be all but ready, seeing it was
now a quarter to eleven, and took his leave, accompanied by
Dorothy's servant to bring back the horse--if indeed they should be
fortunate enough to escape the requisition of both horses by one
party or the other. At present, however, the king's affairs
continued rather on the ascendant, and the name of the marquis in
that country was as yet a tower of strength. Dorothy's horse was
included in the hospitality shown his mistress, and taken to the
stables--under the mid-day shadow of the Library Tower.

As soon as the parson was gone, lady Margaret touched a small silver
bell which hung in a stand on the table beside her.

'Conduct mistress Dorothy Vaughan to her room, wait upon her there,
and then attend her hither,' she said to the maid who answered it.
'I would request a little not unneedful haste, cousin,' she went on,
'for my lord of Worcester is very precise in all matters of
household order, and likes ill to see any one enter the dining-room
after he is seated. It is his desire that you should dine at his
table to-day. After this I must place you with the rest of my
ladies, who dine in the housekeeper's room.'

'As you think proper, madam,' returned Dorothy, a little
disappointed, but a little relieved also.

'The bell will ring presently,' said lady Margaret, 'and a quarter
of an hour thereafter we shall all be seated.'

She was herself already dressed--in a pale-blue satin, with full
skirt and close-fitting, long-peaked boddice, fastened in front by
several double clasps set with rubies; her shoulders were bare, and
her sleeves looped up with large round star-like studs, set with
diamonds, so that her arms also were bare to the elbows. Round her
neck was a short string of large pearls.

'You take no long time to attire yourself, cousin,' said her
ladyship, kindly, when Dorothy returned.

'Little time was needed, madam,' answered Dorothy; 'for me there is
but one colour. I fear I shall show but a dull bird amidst the gay
plumage of Raglan. But I could have better adorned myself had not I
heard the bell ere I had begun, and feared to lose your ladyship's
company, and in very deed make my first appearance before my lord as
a transgressor of the laws of his household.'

'You did well, cousin Dorothy; for everything goes by law and order
here. All is reason and rhyme too in this house. My lord's father,
although one of the best and kindest of men, is, as I said, somewhat
precise, and will, as he says himself, be king in his own kingdom--
thinking doubtless of one who is not such. I should not talk thus
with you, cousin, were you like some young ladies I know; but there
is that about you which pleases me greatly, and which I take to
indicate discretion. When first I came to the house, not having been
accustomed to so severe a punctuality, I gave my lord no little
annoyance; for, oftener than once or twice, I walked into his
dining-room not only after grace had been said, but after the first
course had been sent down to the hall-tables. My lord took his
revenge in calling me the wild Irish-woman.'

Here she laughed very sweetly.

'The only one,' she resumed, 'who does here as he will, is my
husband. Even lord Charles, who is governor of the castle, must be
in his place to the moment; but for my husband--.'

The bell rang a second time. Lady Margaret rose, and taking
Dorothy's arm, led her from the room into a long dim-lighted
corridor. Arrived at the end of it, where a second passage met it at
right angles, she stopped at a door facing them.

'I think we shall find my lord of Worcester here,' she said in a
whisper, as she knocked and waited a response. 'He is not here,' she
said. 'He expects me to call on him as I pass. We must make haste.'

The second passage, in which were several curves and sharp turns,
led them to a large room, nearly square, in which were two tables
covered for about thirty. By the door and along the sides of the
room were a good many gentlemen, some of them very plainly dressed,
and others in gayer attire, amongst whom Dorothy, as they passed
through, recognised her cousin Scudamore. Whether he saw and knew
her she could not tell. Crossing a small antechamber they entered
the drawing-room, where stood and sat talking a number of ladies and
gentlemen, to some of whom lady Margaret spoke and presented her
cousin, greeting others with a familiar nod or smile, and yet others
with a stately courtesy. Then she said,

'Ladies, I will lead the way to the dining-room. My lord marquis
would the less willingly have us late that something detains
himself.'

Those who dined in the marquis's room followed her. Scarcely had she
reached the upper end of the table when the marquis entered,
followed by all his gentlemen, some of whom withdrew, their service
over for the time, while others proceeded to wait upon him and his
family, with any of the nobility who happened to be his guests at
the first table.

'I am the laggard to-day, my lady,' he said, cheerily, as he bore
his heavy person up the room towards her. 'Ah!' he went on, as lady
Margaret stepped forward to meet him, leading Dorothy by the hand,
'who is this sober young damsel under my wild Irishwoman's wing? Our
young cousin Vaughan, doubtless, whose praises my worthy Dr. Bayly
has been sounding in my ears?'

He held out his hand to Dorothy, and bade her welcome to Raglan.

The marquis was a man of noble countenance, of the type we are ready
to imagine peculiar to the great men of the time of queen Elizabeth.
To this his unwieldy person did not correspond, although his
movements were still far from being despoiled of that charm which
naturally belonged to all that was his. Nor did his presence owe
anything to his dress, which was of that long-haired coarse woollen
stuff they called frieze, worn, probably, by not another nobleman in
the country, and regarded as fitter for a yeoman. His eyes, though
he was yet but sixty-five or so, were already hazy, and his voice
was husky and a little broken--results of the constantly poor health
and frequent suffering he had had for many years; but he carried it
all 'with'--to quote the prince of courtesy, sir Philip
Sydney--'with a right old man's grace, that will seem livelier than
his age will afford him.'

The moment he entered, the sewer in the antechamber at the other end
of the room had given a signal to one waiting at the head of the
stair leading down to the hall, and his lordship was hardly seated,
ere--although the kitchen was at the corner of the pitched court
diagonally opposite--he bore the first dish into the room, followed
by his assistants, laden each with another.

Lady Margaret made Dorothy sit down by her. A place on her other
side was vacant.

'Where is this truant husband of thine, my lady?' asked the marquis,
as soon as Dr. Bayly had said grace. 'Know you whether he eats at
all, or when, or where? It is now three days since he has filled his
place at thy side, yet is he in the castle. Thou knowest, my lady, I
deal not with him, who is so soon to sit in this chair, as with
another, but I like it not. Know you what occupies him to day?'

'I do not, my lord,' answered lady Margaret. 'I have had but one
glimpse of him since the morning, and if he looks now as he looked
then, I fear your lordship would be minded rather to drive him from
your table than welcome him to a seat beside you.'

As she spoke, lady Margaret caught a glimpse of a peculiar
expression on Scudamore's face, where he stood behind his master's
chair.

'Your page, my lord,' she said, 'seems to know something of him: if
it pleased you to put him to the question--'

'Hey, Scudamore!' said the marquis without turning his head; 'what
have you seen of my lord Herbert?'

'As much as could be seen of him, my lord,' answered Scudamore. 'He
was new from the powder-mill, and his face and hands were as he had
been blown three times up the hall chimney.'

'I would thou didst pay more heed to what is fitting, thou monkey,
and knewest either place or time for thy foolish jests! It will be
long ere thou soil one of thy white fingers for king or country,'
said the marquis, neither angrily nor merrily. 'Get another flask of
claret,' he added, 'and keep thy wit for thy mates, boy.'

Dorothy cast one involuntary glance at her cousin. His face was red
as fire, but, as it seemed to her, more with suppressed amusement
than shame. She had not been much longer in the castle before she
learned that, in the opinion of the household, the marquis did his
best, or worst rather, to ruin young Scudamore by indulgence. The
judgment, however, was partly the product of jealousy, although
doubtless the marquis had in his case a little too much relaxed the
bonds of discipline. The youth was bright and ready, and had as yet
been found trustworthy; his wit was tolerable, and a certain gay
naivete of speech and manner set off to the best advantage what
there was of it; but his laughter was sometimes mischievous, and on
the present occasion Dorothy could not rid herself of the suspicion
that he was laughing in his sleeve at his master, which caused her
to redden in her turn. Scudamore saw it, and had his own fancies
concerning the phenomenon.



CHAPTER XII.

THE TWO MARQUISES.



Dinner over, lady Margaret led Dorothy back to her parlour, and
there proceeded to discover what accomplishments and capabilities
she might possess. Finding she could embroider, play a little on the
spinnet, sing a song, and read aloud both intelligibly and
pleasantly, she came to the conclusion that the country-bred girl
was an acquisition destined to grow greatly in value, should the day
ever arrive--which heaven forbid!--when they would have to settle
down to the monotony of a protracted siege. Remarking, at length,
that she looked weary, she sent her away to be mistress of her time
till supper, at half-past five.

Weary in truth with her journey, but still more weary from the
multitude and variety of objects, the talk, and the constant demand
of the general strangeness upon her attention and one form or other
of suitable response, Dorothy sought her chamber. But she scarcely
remembered how to reach it. She knew it lay a floor higher, and
easily found the stair up which she had followed her attendant, for
it rose from the landing of the straight ascent by which she had
entered the house. She could hardly go wrong either as to the
passage at the top of it, leading back over the room she had just
left below, but she could not tell which was her own door. Fearing
to open the wrong one, she passed it and went on to the end of the
corridor, which was very dimly lighted. There she came to an open
door, through which she saw a small chamber, evidently not meant for
habitation. She entered. A little light came in through a crossed
loophole, sufficient to show her the bare walls, with the plaster
sticking out between the stones, the huge beams above, and in the
middle of the floor, opposite the loop-hole, a great arblast or
crossbow, with its strange machinery. She had never seen one before,
but she knew enough to guess at once what it was. Through the
loophole came a sweet breath of spring air, and she saw trees
bending in the wind, heard their faint far-off rustle, and saw the
green fields shining in the sun.

Partly from having been so much with Richard, her only playmate, who
was of an ingenious and practical turn, a certain degree of interest
in mechanical forms and modes had been developed in Dorothy,
sufficient at least to render her unable to encounter such an
implement without feeling a strong impulse to satisfy herself
concerning its mechanism, its motion, and its action. Approaching it
cautiously and curiously, as if it were a live thing, which might
start up and fly from, or perhaps at her, for what she knew, she
gazed at it for a few moments with eyes full of unuttered questions,
then ventured to lay gentle hold upon what looked like a handle. To
her dismay, a wheezy bang followed, which seemed to shake the tower.
Whether she had discharged an arrow, or an iron bolt, or a stone, or
indeed anything at all, she could not tell, for she had not got so
far in her observations as to perceive even that the bow was bent.
Her heart gave a scared flutter, and she started back, not merely
terrified, but ashamed also that she should initiate her life in the
castle with meddling and mischief, when a low gentle laugh behind
her startled her yet more, and looking round with her heart in her
throat, she perceived in the half-light of the place a man by the
wall behind the arblast watching her. Her first impulse was to run,
and the door was open; but she thought she owed an apology ere she
retreated. What sort of person he was she could not tell, for there
was not light enough to show a feature of his face.

'I ask your pardon,' she said; 'I fear I have done mischief.'

'Not the least,' returned the man, in a gentle voice, with a tone of
amusement in it.

'I had never seen a great cross-bow,' Dorothy went on, anxious to
excuse her meddling. 'I thought this must be one, but I was so
stupid as not to perceive it was bent, and that that was the--the
handle--or do you call it the trigger?--by which you let it go.'

The man, who had at first taken her for one of the maids, had by
this time discovered from her tone and speech that she was a lady.

'It is a clumsy old-fashioned thing,' he returned, 'but I shall not
remove it until I can put something better in its place; and it
would be a troublesome affair to get even a demiculverin up here,
not to mention the bad neighbour it would be to the ladies'chambers.
I was just making a small experiment with it on the force of
springs. I believe I shall yet prove that much may be done with
springs--more perhaps, and certainly at far less expense, than with
gunpowder, which costs greatly, is very troublesome to make,
occupies much space, and is always like an unstable, half-
treacherous friend within the gates--to say nothing of the expense
of cannon--ten times that of an engine of timber and springs. See
what a strong chain your shot has broken! Shall I show you how the
thing works?'

He spoke in a gentle, even rapid voice, a little hesitating now and
then, more, through the greater part of this long utterance, as if
he were thinking to himself than addressing another. Neither his
tone nor manner were those of an underling, but Dorothy's startled
nerves had communicated their tremor to her modesty, and with a
gentle 'No, sir, I thank you; I must be gone,' she hurried away.

Daring now a little more for fear of worse, the first door she tried
proved that of her own room, and it was with a considerable sense of
relief, as well as with weariness and tremor, that she nestled
herself into the high window-seat, and looked out into the
quadrangle. The shadow of the citadel had gone to pay its afternoon
visit to the other court, and that of the gateway was thrown upon
the chapel, partly shrouding the white horse, whose watery music was
now silent, but allowing one red ray, which entered by the iron
grating above the solid gates, to fall on his head, and warm its
cold whiteness with a tinge of delicate pink. The court was more
still and silent than in the morning; only now and then would a
figure pass from one door to another, along the side of the
buildings, or by one of the tiled paths dividing the turf. A large
peacock was slowly crossing the shadowed grass with a stately strut
and rhythmic thrust of his green neck. The moment he came out into
the sunlight, he spread his wheeled fan aloft, and slowly
pirouetting, if the word can be allowed where two legs are needful,
in the very acme of vanity, turned on all sides the quivering
splendour of its hundred eyes, where blue and green burst in the
ecstasy of their union into a vapour of gold, that the circle of the
universe might see. And truly the bird's vanity had not misled his
judgment: it was a sight to make the hearts of the angels throb out
a dainty phrase or two more in the song of their thanksgiving. Some
pigeons, white, and blue-grey, with a lovely mingling and interplay
of metallic lustres on their feathery throats, but with none of that
almost grotesque obtrusion of over-driven individuality of kind, in
which the graciousness of common beauty is now sacrificed to the
whim of the fashion the vulgar fancier initiates, picked up the
crumbs under the windows of lady Margaret's nursery, or flew hither
and thither among the roofs with wapping and whiffling wing.

But still from the next court came many and various mingling noises.
The sounds of drill had long ceased, but those of clanking hammers
were heard the more clearly, now one, now two, now several together.
The smaller, clearer one was that of the armourer, the others those
of the great smithy, where the horse-shoes were made, the horses
shod, the smaller pieces of ordnance repaired, locks and chains
mended, bolts forged, and, in brief, every piece of metal about the
castle, from the cook's skillet to the winches and chains of the
drawbridges, set right, renewed, or replaced. The forges were far
from where she sat, outside the farthest of the two courts, across
which, and the great hall dividing them, the clink, clink, the
clank, and the ringing clang, softened by distance and
interposition, came musical to her ear. The armourer's hammer was
the keener, the quicker, the less intermittent, and yet had the most
variations of time and note, as he shifted the piece on his anvil,
or changed breastplate for gorget, or greave for pauldron--or it
might be sword for pike-head or halbert. Mingled with it came now
and then the creak and squeak of the wooden wheel at the draw-well
near the hall-door in the farther court, and the muffled splash of
the bucket as it struck the water deep in the shaft. She even
thought she could hear the drops dripping back from it as it slowly
ascended, but that was fancy. Everywhere arose the auricular vapour,
as it were, of action, undefined and indefinable, the hum of the
human hive, compounded of all confluent noises--the chatter of the
servants' hall and the nursery, the stamping of horses, the ringing
of harness, the ripping of the chains of kenneled dogs, the hollow
stamping of heavy boots, the lowing of cattle, with sounds besides
so strange to the ears of Dorothy that they set her puzzling in vain
to account for them; not to mention the chaff of the guard-rooms by
the gates, and the scolding and clatter of the kitchen. This last,
indeed, was audible only when the doors were open, for the walls of
the kitchen, whether it was that the builders of it counted cookery
second only to life, or that this had been judged, from the nature
of the ground outside, the corner of all the enclosure most likely
to be attacked, were far thicker than those of any of the other
towers, with the one exception of the keep itself.

As she sat listening to these multitudinous exhalations of life
around her, yet with a feeling of loneliness and a dim sense of
captivity, from the consciousness that huge surrounding walls rose
between her and the green fields, of which, from earliest memory,
she had been as free as the birds and beetles, a white rabbit,
escaped from the arms of its owner, little Mary Somerset, lady
Margaret's only child, a merry but delicate girl not yet three years
old, suddenly darted like a flash of snow across the shadowy green,
followed in hot haste a moment after by a fine-looking boy of
thirteen and two younger girls, after whom toddled tiny Mary.
Dorothy sat watching the pursuit, accompanied with sweet outcry and
frolic laughter, when in a moment the sounds of their merriment
changed to shrieks of terror, and she saw a huge mastiff come
bounding she knew not whence, and rush straight at the rabbit,
fierce and fast. When the little creature saw him, struck with
terror it stopped dead, cowered on the sward, and was stock still.
But Henry Somerset, who was but a few paces from it, reached it
before the dog, and caught it up in his arms. The rush of the dog
threw him down, and they rolled over and over, Henry holding fast
the poor rabbit.

By this time Dorothy was half-way down the stair: the moment she
caught sight of the dog she had flown to the rescue. When she issued
from the porch at the foot of the grand staircase, Henry was up
again, and running for the house with the rabbit yet safe in his
arms, pursued by the mastiff. Evidently the dog had not harmed
him--but he might get angry. The next moment she saw, to her joy and
dismay both at once, that it was her own dog.

'Marquis! Marquis!' she cried, calling him by his name.

He abandoned the pursuit at once, and went bounding to her. She took
him by the back of the neck, and the displeasure manifest upon the
countenance of his mistress made him cower at her feet, and wince
from the open hand that threatened him. The same instant a lattice
window over the gateway was flung open, and a voice said--

'Here I am. Who called me?'

Dorothy looked up. The children had vanished with their rescued
darling. There was not a creature in the court but herself, and
there was the marquis, leaning half out of the window, and looking
about.

'Who called me?' he repeated--angrily, Dorothy thought.

All at once the meaning of it flashed upon her, and she was
confounded--ready to sink with annoyance. But she was not one to
hesitate when a thing HAD to be done. Keeping her hold of the dog's
neck, for his collar was gone, she dragged him half-way towards the
gate, then turning up to the marquis a face like a peony, replied--

'I am the culprit, my lord.'

'By St. George! you are a brave damsel, and there is no culpa that I
know of, except on the part of that intruding cur.'

'And the cur's mistress, my lord. But, indeed, he is no cur, but a
true mastiff.'

'What! is the animal thy property, fair cousin? He is more than I
bargained for.'

'He is mine, my lord, but I left him chained when I set out from
Wyfern this morning. That he got loose I confess I am not
astonished, neither that he tracked me hither, for he has the eyes
of a gaze-hound, and the nose of a bloodhound; but it amazes me to
find him in the castle.'

'That must be inquired into,' said the marquis.

'I am very sorry he has carried himself so ill, my lord. He has put
me to great shame. But he hath more in him than mere brute, and
understands when I beg you to pardon him. He misbehaved himself on
purpose to be taken to me, for at home no one ever dares punish him
but myself.'

The marquis laughed.

'If you are so completely his mistress then, why did you call on me
for help?'

'Pardon me, my lord; I did not so.'

'Why, I heard thee call me two or three times!'

'Alas, my lord! I called him Marquis when he was a pup. Everybody
about Redware knows Marquis.'

The animal cocked his ears and started each time his name was
uttered, and yet seemed to understand well enough that ALL the talk
was about him and his misdeeds.

'Ah! ha!' said his lordship, with a twinkle in his eye, 'that begets
complications. Two marquises in Raglan? Two kings in England! The
thing cannot be. What is to be done?'

'I must take him back, my lord! I cannot send him, for he would not
go. I dread they will not be able to hold him chained; in which evil
case I fear me I shall have to go, my lord, and take the perils of
the time as they come.'

'Not of necessity so, cousin, while you can choose between
us;--although I freely grant that a marquis with four legs is to be
preferred before a marquis with only two.--But what if you changed
his name?'

'I fear it could not be done, my lord. He has been Marquis all his
life.'

'And I have been marquis only six months! Clearly he hath the better
right--. But there would be constant mistakes between us, for I
cannot bring myself to lay aside the honour his majesty hath
conferred upon me, "which would be worn now in its newest gloss, not
cast aside so soon," as master Shakspere says. Besides, it would be
a slight to his majesty, and that must not be thought of--not for
all the dogs in parliament or out of it. No--it would breed factions
in the castle too. No; one of us two must die.'

'Then, indeed, I must go,' said Dorothy, her voice trembling as she
spoke; for although the words of the marquis were merry, she yet
feared for her friend.

'Tut! tut! let the older marquis die: he has enjoyed the title; I
have not. Give him to Tom Fool: he will drown him in the moat. He
shall be buried with honour--under his rival's favourite apple-tree
in the orchard. What more could dog desire?'

'No, my lord,' answered Dorothy. 'Will you allow me to take my
leave? If I only knew where to find my horse!'

'What! would you saddle him yourself, cousin Vaughan?'

'As well as e'er a knave in your lordship's stables. I am very sorry
to displease you, but to my dog's death I cannot and will not
consent. Pardon me, my lord.'

The last words brought with them a stifled sob, for she scarcely
doubted any more that he was in earnest.

'It is assuredly not gratifying to a marquis of the king's making to
have one of a damsel's dubbing take the precedence of him. I fear
you are a roundhead and hold by the parliament. But no--that cannot
be, for you are willing to forsake your new cousin for your old dog.
Nay, alas! it is your old cousin for your young dog. Puritan!
puritan! Well, it cannot be helped. But what! you would ride home
alone! Evil men are swarming, child. This sultry weather brings them
out like flies.'

'I shall not be alone, my lord. Marquis will take good care of me.'

'Indeed, my lord marquis will pledge himself to nothing outside his
own walls.'

'I meant the dog, my lord.'

'Ah! you see how awkward it is. However, as you will not choose
between us--and to tell the truth, I am not yet quite prepared to
die--we must needs encounter what is inevitable. I will send for
one of the keepers to take him to the smithy, and get him a proper
collar--one he can't slip like that he left at home--and a chain.'

'I must go with him myself, my lord. They will never manage him
else.'

'What a demon you have brought into my peaceable house! Go with him,
by all means. And mind you choose him a kennel yourself.--You do
not desire him in your chamber, do you, mistress?'

Dorothy secretly thought it would be the best place for him, but she
was only too glad to have his life spared.

'No, my lord, I thank you,' she said. '--I thank your lordship with
all my heart.'

The marquis disappeared from the window. Presently young Scudamore
came into the court from the staircase by the gate, and crossed to
the hall--in a few minutes returning with the keeper. The man would
have taken the dog by the neck to lead him away, but a certain form
of canine curse, not loud but deep, and a warning word from Dorothy,
made him withdraw his hand.

'Take care, Mr. Keeper,' she said, 'he is dangerous. I will go with
him myself, if thou wilt show me whither.'

'As it please you, mistress,' answered the keeper, and led the way
across the court.

'Have you not a word to throw at a poor cousin, mistress Dorothy?'
said Rowland, when the man was a pace or two in advance.

'No, Mr. Scudamore,' answered Dorothy; 'not until we have first
spoken in my lord Worcester's or my lady Margaret's presence.'

Scudamore fell behind, followed her a little way, and somewhere
vanished.

Dorothy followed the keeper across the hall, the size of which, its
height especially, and the splendour of its windows of stained
glass, almost awed her; then across the next court to the foot of
the Library Tower forming the south-east corner of it, near the two
towers flanking the main entrance. Here a stair led down, through
the wall, to a lower level outside, where were the carpenters' and
all other workshops, the forges, the stables, and the farmyard
buildings.

As it happened, when Dorothy entered the smithy, there was her own
little horse being shod, and Marquis and he interchanged a whine and
a whinny of salutation, while the men stared at the bright
apparition of a young lady in their dingy regions. Having heard her
business, the head-smith abandoned everything else to alter an iron
collar, of which there were several lying about, to fit the mastiff,
the presence of whose mistress proved entirely necessary. Dorothy
had indeed to put it on him with her own hands, for at the sound of
the chain attached to it he began to grow furious, growling
fiercely. When the chain had been made fast with a staple driven
into a strong kennel-post, and his mistress proceeded to take her
leave of him, his growling changed to the most piteous whining; but
when she actually left him there, he flew into a rage of indignant
affection. After trying the strength of his chain, however, by three
or four bounds, each so furious as to lay him sprawling on his back,
he yielded to the inevitable, and sullenly crept into his kennel,
while Dorothy walked back to the room which had already begun to
seem to her a cell.



CHAPTER XIII.

THE MAGICIAN'S VAULT.



Dorothy went straight to lady Margaret's parlour, and made her
humble apology for the trouble and alarm her dog had occasioned.
Lady Margaret assured her that the children were nothing the worse,
not having been even much terrified, for the dog had not gone a
hair's-breadth beyond rough play. Poor bunny was the only one
concerned who had not yet recovered his equanimity. He did not seem
positively hurt, she said, but as he would not eat the lovely clover
under his nose where he lay in Molly's crib, it was clear that the
circulation of his animal spirits had been too rudely checked.
Thereupon Dorothy begged to be taken to the nursery, for, being
familiar with all sorts of tame animals, she knew rabbits well. As
she stood with the little creature in her arms, gently stroking its
soft whiteness, the children gathered round her, and she bent
herself to initiate a friendship with them, while doing her best to
comfort and restore their favourite. Success in the latter object
she found the readiest way to the former. Under the sweet galvanism
of her stroking hand the rabbit was presently so much better that
when she offered him a blade of the neglected clover, the
equilateral triangle of his queer mouth was immediately set in
motion, the trefoil vanished, and when he was once more placed in
the crib he went on with his meal as if nothing had happened. The
children were in ecstasies, and cousin Dorothy was from that moment
popular and on the way to be something better.

When supper time came, lady Margaret took her again to the
dining-room, where there was much laughter over the story of the two
marquises, lord Worcester driving the joke in twenty different
directions, but so kindly that Dorothy, instead of being
disconcerted or even discomposed thereby, found herself emboldened
to take a share in the merriment. When the company rose, lady
Margaret once more led her to her own room, where, working at her
embroidery frame, she chatted with her pleasantly for some time.
Dorothy would have been glad if she had set her work also, for she
could ill brook doing nothing. Notwithstanding her quietness of
demeanour, amounting at times to an appearance of immobility, her
nature was really an active one, and it was hard for her to sit with
her hands in her lap. Lady Margaret at length perceived her
discomfort.

'I fear, my child, I am wearying you,' she said.

'It is only that I want something to do, madam,' said Dorothy.

'I have nothing at hand for you to-night,' returned lady Margaret.
'Suppose we go and find my lord;--I mean my own lord Herbert. I have
not seen him since we broke fast together, and you have not seen him
at all. I am afraid he must think of leaving home again soon, he
seems so anxious to get something or other finished.'

As she spoke, she pushed aside her frame, and telling Dorothy to go
and fetch herself a cloak, went into the next room, whence she
presently returned, wrapped in a hooded mantle. As soon as Dorothy
came, she led her along the corridor to a small lobby whence a stair
descended to the court, issuing close by the gate.

'I shall never learn my way about,' said Dorothy. 'If it were only
the staircases, they are more than my memory will hold.'

Lady Margaret gave a merry little laugh.

'Harry set himself to count them the other day,' she said. 'I do not
remember how many he made out altogether, but I know he said there
were at least thirty stone ones.'

Dorothy's answer was an exclamation.

But she was not in the mood to dwell upon the mere arithmetic of
vastness. Invaded by the vision of the mighty structure, its aspect
rendered yet more imposing by the time which now suited with it, she
forgot lady Margaret's presence, and stood still to gaze.

The twilight had deepened half-way into night. There was no moon,
and in the dusk the huge masses of building rose full of mystery and
awe. Above the rest, the great towers on all sides seemed by
indwelling might to soar into the regions of air. The pile stood
there, the epitome of the story of an ancient race, the precipitate
from its vanished life--a hard core that had gathered in the
vaporous mass of history--the all of solid that remained to witness
of the past.

She came again to herself with a start. Lady Margaret had stood
quietly waiting for her mood to change. Dorothy apologised, but her
mistress only smiled and said,

'I am in no haste, child. I like to see another impressed as I was
when first I stood just where you stand now. Come, then, I will show
you something different.'

She led the way along the southern side of the court until they came
to the end of the chapel, opposite which an archway pierced the line
of building, and revealed the mighty bulk of the citadel, the only
portion of the castle, except the kitchen-tower, continuing
impregnable to enlarged means of assault: gunpowder itself, as yet
far from perfect in composition and make, and conditioned by clumsy,
uncertain, and ill-adjustable artillery, was nearly powerless
against walls more than ten feet in thickness.

I have already mentioned that one peculiarity of Raglan was a
distinct moat surrounding its keep. Immediately from the outer end
of the archway, a Gothic bridge of stone led across this thirty-foot
moat to a narrow walk which encompassed the tower. The walk was
itself encompassed and divided from the moat by a wall with six
turrets at equal distances, surmounted by battlements. At one time
the sole entrance to the tower had been by a drawbridge dropping
across the walk to the end of the stone bridge, from an arched door
in the wall, whose threshold was some ten or twelve feet from the
ground; but another entrance had since been made on the level of the
walk, and by it the two ladies now entered. Passing the foot of a
great stone staircase, they came to the door of what had, before the
opening of the lower entrance, been a vaulted cellar, probably at
one time a dungeon, at a later period a place of storage, but now
put to a very different use, and wearing a stranger aspect than it
could ever have borne at any past period of its story--a look indeed
of mystery inexplicable.

When Dorothy entered she found herself in a large place, the form of
which she could ill distinguish in the dull light proceeding from
the chinks about the closed doors of a huge furnace. The air was
filled with gurglings and strange low groanings, as of some creature
in dire pain. Dorothy had as good nerves as ever woman, yet she
could not help some fright as she stood alone by the door and stared
into the gloomy twilight into which her companion had advanced. As
her eyes became used to the ruddy dusk, she could see better, but
everywhere they lighted on shapes inexplicable, whose forms to the
first questioning thought suggested instruments of torture; but
cruel as some of them looked, they were almost too strange,
contorted, fantastical for such. Still, the wood-cuts in a certain
book she had been familiar with in childhood, commonly called Fox's
Book of Martyrs, kept haunting her mind's eye--and were they not
Papists into whose hands she had fallen? she said to herself, amused
at the vagaries of her own involuntary suggestions.

Among the rest, one thing specially caught her attention, both from
its size and its complicated strangeness. It was a huge wheel
standing near the wall, supported between two strong uprights--some
twelve or fifteen feet in diameter, with about fifty spokes, from
every one of which hung a large weight. Its grotesque and threatful
character was greatly increased by the mingling of its one substance
with its many shadows on the wall behind it. So intent was she upon
it that she started when lady Margaret spoke.

'Why, mistress Dorothy!' she said, 'you look as if you had wandered
into St. Anthony's cave! Here is my lord Herbert to welcome his
cousin.'

Beside her stood a man rather under the middle stature, but as his
back was to the furnace this was about all Dorothy could discover of
his appearance, save that he was in the garb of a workman, with bare
head and arms, and held in his hand a long iron rod ending in a
hook.

'Welcome, indeed, cousin Vaughan!' he said heartily, but without
offering his hand, which in truth, although an honest, skilful, and
well-fashioned hand, was at the present moment far from fit for a
lady's touch.

There was something in his voice not altogether strange to Dorothy,
but she could not tell of whom or what it reminded her.

'Are you come to take another lesson on the cross-bow?' he asked
with a smile.

Then she knew he was the same she had met in the looped chamber
beside the arblast. An occasional slight halt, not impediment, in
his speech, was what had remained on her memory. Did he always dwell
only in the dusky borders of the light?

Dorothy uttered a little 'Oh!' of surprise, but immediately
recovering herself, said,

'I am sorry I did not know it was you, my lord. I might by this time
have been capable of discharging bolt or arrow with good aim in
defence of the castle.'

'It is not yet too late, I hope,' returned the workman-lord. 'I
confess I was disappointed to find your curiosity went no further. I
hoped I had at last found a lady capable of some interest in
pursuits like mine. For my lady Margaret here, she cares not a straw
for anything I do, and would rather have me keep my hands clean than
discover the mechanism of the primum mobile!

'Yes, in truth, Ned,' said his wife, 'I would rather have thee with
fair hands in my sweet parlour, than toiling and moiling in this
dirty dungeon, with no companion but that horrible fire-engine of
thine, grunting and roaring all night long.'

'Why, what do you make of Caspar Kaltoff, my lady?'

'I make not much of him.'

'You misjudge his goodfellowship then.'

'Truly, I think not well of him: he always hath secrets with thee,
and I like it not.'

'That they are secrets is thine own fault, Peggy. How can I teach
thee my secrets if thou wilt not open thine ears to hear them?'

'I would your lordship would teach me!' said Dorothy. 'I might not
be an apt pupil, but I should be both an eager and a humble one.'

'By St. Patrick! mistress Dorothy, but you go straight to steal my
husband's heart from me. "Humble," forsooth! and "eager" too! Nay!
nay! If I have no part in his brain, I can the less yield his
heart.'

'What would be gladly learned would be gladly taught, cousin,' said
lord Herbert.

'There! there!' exclaimed lady Margaret; 'I knew it would be so. You
discharge your poor dull apprentice the moment you find a clever
one!'

'And why not? I never was able to teach thee anything.'

'Ah, Ned, there you are unkind indeed!' said lady Margaret, with
something in her voice that suggested the water-springs were
swelling.

'My shamrock of four!' said her husband in the tenderest tone, 'I
but jested with thee. How shouldst thou be my pupil in anything I
can teach? I am yours in all that is noble and good. I did not mean
to vex you, sweet heart.'

''Tis gone again, Ned,' she answered, smiling. 'Give cousin Dorothy
her first lesson.'

'It shall be that, then, to which I sought in vain to make thee
listen this very morning--a certain great saying of my lord of
Verulam, mistress Dorothy. I had learnt it by heart that I might
repeat it word for word to my lady, but she would none of it.'

'May I not hear it, madam?' said Dorothy.

'We will both hear it, Herbert, if you will pardon your foolish wife
and admit her to grace.' And as she spoke she laid her hand on his
sooty arm.

He answered her only with a smile, but such a one as sufficed.

'Listen then, ladies both,' he said. 'My lord of Verulam, having
quoted the words of Solomon, "The glory of God is to conceal a
thing, but the glory of the king is to find it out," adds thus, of
his own thought concerning them,--"as if," says my lord, "according
to the innocent play of children, the divine majesty took delight to
hide his works, to the end to have them found out, and as if kings
could not obtain a greater honour than to be God's playfellows in
that game, considering the great commandment of wits and means,
whereby nothing needeth to be hidden from them."'

'That was very well for my lord of--what did'st thou call him, Ned?'

'Francis Bacon, lord Verulam,' returned Herbert, with a queer smile.

'Very well for my lord of Veryflam!' resumed lady Margaret, with a
mock, yet bewitching affectation of innocence and ignorance; 'but
tell me had he?--nay, I am sure he had not a wild Irishwoman sitting
breaking her heart in her bower all day long for his company. He
could never else have had the heart to say it.--Mistress Dorothy,'
she went on, 'take the counsel of a forsaken wife, and lay it to thy
heart: never marry a man who loves lathes and pipes and wheels and
water and fire, and I know not what. But do come in ere bed-time,
Herbert, and I will sing thee the sweetest of English ditties, and
make thee such a sack-posset as never could be made out of old
Ireland any more than the song.'

But her husband that moment sprang from her side, and shouting
'Caspar! Caspar!' bounded to the furnace, reached up with his iron
rod into the darkness over his head, caught something with the
hooked end of it, and pulled hard. A man who from somewhere in the
gloomy place had responded like a greyhound to his master's call,
did the like on the other side. Instantly followed a fierce,
protracted, sustained hiss, and in a moment the place was filled
with a white cloud, whence issued still the hideous hiss, changing
at length to a roar. Lady Margaret turned in terror, ran out of the
keep, and fled across the bridge and through the archway before she
slackened her pace. Dorothy followed, but more composedly, led by
duty, not driven by terror, and indeed reluctantly forsaking a spot
where was so much she did not understand.

They had fled from the infant roar of the 'first stock-father' of
steam-engines, whose cradle was that feudal keep, eight centuries
old.

That night Dorothy lay down weary enough. It seemed a month since she
had been in her own bed at Wyfern, so many new and strange things had
crowded into her house, hitherto so still. Every now and then the
darkness heaved and rippled with some noise of the night. The stamping
of horses, and the ringing of their halter chains, seemed very near her.
She thought she heard the howl of Marquis from afar, and said to
herself, 'The poor fellow cannot sleep! I must get my lord to let me
have him in my chamber.' Then she listened a while to the sweet flow of
the water from the mouth of the white horse, which in general went on
all night long. Suddenly came an awful sound--like a howl also, but such
as never left the throat of dog. Again and again at intervals it came,
with others like it but not the same, torturing the dark with a dismal
fear. Dorothy had never heard the cry of a wild beast, but the
suggestion that these might be such cries, and the recollection that she
had heard such beasts were in Raglan Castle, came together to her mind.
She was so weary, however, that worse noises than these could hardly
have kept her awake; not even her weariness could prevent them from
following her into her dreams.



CHAPTER XIV

SEVERAL PEOPLE



Lord Worcester had taken such a liking to Dorothy, partly at first
because of the good store of merriment with which she and her
mastiff had provided him, that he was disappointed when he found her
place was not to be at his table but the housekeeper's. As he said
himself, however, he did not meddle with women's matters, and indeed
it would not do for lady Margaret to show her so much favour above
her other women, of whom at least one was her superior in rank, and
all were relatives as well as herself.

Dorothy did not much relish their society, but she had not much of
it except at meals, when, however, they always treated her as an
interloper. Every day she saw more or less of lady Margaret, and
found in her such sweetness, if not quite evenness of temper, as
well as gaiety of disposition, that she learned to admire as well as
love her. Sometimes she had her to read to her, sometimes to work
with her, and almost every day she made her practise a little on the
harpsichord. Hence she not only improved rapidly in performance, but
grew capable of receiving more and more delight from music. There
was a fine little organ in the chapel, on which blind young
Delaware, the son of the marquis's master of the horse, used to play
delightfully; and although she never entered the place, she would
stand outside listening to his music for an hour at a time in the
twilight, or sometimes even after dark. For as yet she indulged
without question all the habits of her hitherto free life, as far as
was possible within the castle walls, and the outermost of these
were of great circuit, enclosing lawns, shrubberies, wildernesses,
flower and kitchen gardens, orchards, great fish-ponds, little lakes
with fountains, islands, and summer-houses--not to mention the
farmyard, and indeed a little park, in which were some of the finest
trees upon the estate.

The gentlewomen with whom Dorothy was, by her position in the
household, associated, were three in number. One was a rather
elderly, rather plain, rather pious lady, who did not insist on her
pretensions to either of the epithets. The second was a short,
plump, round-faced, good-natured, smiling woman of sixty,--excelling
in fasts and mortifications, which somehow seemed to agree with her
body as well as her soul. The third was only two or three years
older than Dorothy, and was pretty, except when she began to speak,
and then for a moment there was a strange discord in her features.
She took a dislike to Dorothy, as she said herself, the instant she
cast her eyes upon her. She could not bear that prim, set face, she
said. The country-bred heifer evidently thought herself superior to
every one in the castle. She was persuaded the minx was a sly one,
and would carry tales. So judged mistress Amanda Serafina Fuller,
after her kind. Nor was it wonderful that, being such as she was,
she should recoil with antipathy from one whose nature had a
tendency to ripen over soon, and stunt its slow orbicular expansion
to the premature and false completeness of a narrow and
self-sufficing conscientiousness.

Doubtless if Dorothy had shown any marked acknowledgment of the
precedency of their rights--any eagerness to conciliate the
aborigines of the circle, the ladies would have been more friendly
inclined; but while capable of endless love and veneration, there
was little of the conciliatory in her nature. Hence Mrs. Doughty
looked upon her with a rather stately, indifference, my lady
Broughton with a mild wish to save her poor, proud, protestant soul,
and mistress Amanda Serafina said she hated her; but then ever since
the Fall there has been a disproportion betwixt the feelings of
young ladies and the language in which they represent them. Mrs.
Doughty neglected her, and Dorothy did not know it; lady Broughton
said solemn things to her, and she never saw the point of them; but
when mistress Amanda half closed her eyes and looked at her in
snake-Geraldine fashion, she met her with a full, wide-orbed,
questioning gaze, before which Amanda's eyes dropped, and she sank
full fathom five towards the abyss of real hatred.

During the dinner hour, the three generally talked together in an
impregnable manner--not that they were by any means bosom-friends,
for two of them had never before united in anything except despising
good, soft lady Broughton. When they were altogether in their
mistress's presence, they behaved to Dorothy and to each other with
studious politeness.

The ladies Elizabeth and Anne, had their gentlewomen also, in all
only three, however, who also ate at the housekeeper's table, but
kept somewhat apart from the rest--yet were, in a distant way,
friendly to Dorothy.

But hers, as we have seen, was a nature far more capable of
attaching itself to a few than of pleasing many; and her heart went
out to lady Margaret, whom she would have come ere long to regard as
a mother, had she not behaved to her more like an elder sister. Lady
Margaret's own genuine behaviour had indeed little of the matronly
in it; when her husband came into the room, she seemed to grow
instantly younger, and her manner changed almost to that of a
playful girl. It is true, Dorothy had been struck with the dignity
of her manner amid all the frankness of her reception, but she soon
found that, although her nature was full of all real dignities, that
which belonged to her carriage never appeared in the society of
those she loved, and was assumed only, like the thin shelter of a
veil, in the presence of those whom she either knew or trusted less.
Before her ladies, she never appeared without some
restraint--manifest in a certain measuredness of movement, slowness
of speech, and choice of phrase; but before a month was over,
Dorothy was delighted to find that the reserve instantly vanished
when she happened to be left alone with her.

She took an early opportunity of informing her mistress of the
relationship between herself and Scudamore, stating that she knew
little or nothing of him, having seen him only once before she came
to the castle. The youth on his part took the first fitting
opportunity of addressing her in lady Margaret's presence, and soon
they were known to be cousins all over the castle.

With lady Margaret's help, Dorothy came to a tolerable understanding
of Scudamore. Indeed her ladyship's judgment seemed but a
development of her own feeling concerning him.

'Rowland is not a bad fellow,' she said, 'but I cannot fully
understand whence he comes in such grace with my lord Worcester. If
it were my husband now, I should not marvel: he is so much occupied
with things and engines, that he has as little time as natural
inclination to doubt any one who will only speak largely enough to
satisfy his idea. But my lord of Worcester knows well enough that
seldom are two things more unlike than men and their words. Yet that
is not what I mean to say of your cousin: he is no hypocrite--means
not to be false, but has no rule of right in him so far as I can
find. He is pleasant company; his gaiety, his quips, his readiness
of retort, his courtesy and what not, make him a favourite; and my
lord hath in a manner reared him, which goes to explain much. He is
quick yet indolent, good-natured but selfish, generous but counting
enjoyment the first thing,--though, to speak truth of him, I have
never known him do a dishonourable action. But, in a word, the star
of duty has not yet appeared above his horizon. Pardon me, Dorothy,
if I am severe upon him. More or less I may misjudge him, but this
is how I read him; and if you wonder that I should be able so to
divide him, I have but to tell you that I should be unapt indeed if
I had not yet learned of my husband to look into the heart of both
men and things.'

'But, madam,' Dorothy ventured to say, 'have you not even now told
me that from very goodness my lord is easily betrayed?'

'Well replied, my child! It is true, but only while he has had no
reason to mistrust. Let him once perceive ground for dissatisfaction
or suspicion, and his eye is keen as light itself to penetrate and
unravel.'

Such good qualities as lady Margaret accorded her cousin were of a
sort more fitted to please a less sedate and sober-minded damsel
than Dorothy, who was fashioned rather after the model of a puritan
than a royalist maiden. Pleased with his address and his behaviour
to herself as she could hardly fail to be, she yet felt a lingering
mistrust of him, which sprang quite as much from the immediate
impression as from her mistress's judgment of him, for it always
gave her a sense of not coming near the real man in him. There is
one thing a hypocrite even can never do, and that is, hide the
natural signs of his hypocrisy; and Rowland, who was no hypocrite,
only a man not half so honourable as he chose to take himself for,
could not conceal his unreality from the eyes of his simple country
cousin. Little, however, did Dorothy herself suspect whence she had
the idea,--that it was her girlhood's converse with real, sturdy,
honest, straight-forward, simple manhood, in the person of the
youth of fiery temper, and obstinate, opinionated, sometimes even
rude behaviour, whom she had chastised with terms of contemptuous
rebuke, which had rendered her so soon capable of distinguishing
between a profound and a shallow, a genuine and an unreal nature,
even when the latter comprehended a certain power of fascination,
active enough to be recognisable by most of the women in the castle.

Concerning this matter, it will suffice to say that lord
Worcester--who ruled his household with such authoritative wisdom
that honest Dr. Bayly avers he never saw a better-ordered
family--never saw a man drunk or heard an oath amongst his servants,
all the time he was chaplain in the castle,--would have been
scandalized to know the freedoms his favourite indulged himself in,
and regarded as privileged familiarities.

There was much coming and going of visitors--more now upon state
business than matters of friendship or ceremony; and occasional
solemn conferences were held in the marquis's private room, at which
sometimes lord John, who was a personal friend of the king's, and
sometimes lord Charles, the governor of the castle, with perhaps
this or that officer of dignity in the household, would be present;
but whoever was or was not present, lord Herbert when at home was
always there, sometimes alone with his father and commissioners from
the king. His absences, however, had grown frequent now that his
majesty had appointed him general of South Wales, and he had
considerable forces under his command--mostly raised by himself,
and maintained at his own and his father's expense.

It was some time after Dorothy had twice in one day met him
darkling, before she saw him in the light, and was able to peruse
his countenance, which she did carefully, with the mingled instinct
and insight of curious and thoughtful girlhood. He had come home
from a journey, changed his clothes, and had some food; and now he
appeared in his wife's parlour--to sun himself a little, he said.
When he entered, Dorothy, who was seated at her mistress's
embroidery frame, while she was herself busy mending some Flanders
lace, rose to leave the room. But he prayed her to be seated, saying
gayly,

'I would have you see, cousin, that I am no beast of prey that loves
the darkness. I can endure the daylight. Come, my lady, have you
nothing to amuse your soldier with? No good news to tell him? How is
my little Molly?'

During the conjugal talk that followed, his cousin had good
opportunity of making her observations. First she saw a fair,
well-proportioned forehead, with eyes whose remarkable clearness
looked as if it owed itself to the mingling of manly confidence with
feminine trustfulness. They were dark, not very large, but rather
prominent, and full of light. His nose was a little aquiline, and
perfectly formed. A soft obedient moustache, brushed thoroughly
aside, revealed right generous lips, about which hovered a certain
sweetness ever ready to break into the blossom of a smile. That and
a small tuft below was all the hair he wore upon his face. Rare
conjunction, the whole of the countenance was remarkable both for
symmetry and expression--the latter mainly a bright intelligence;
and if, strangely enough, the predominant sweetness and delicacy at
first suggested genius unsupported by practical faculty, there was a
plentifulness and strength in the chin which helped to correct the
suggestion, and with the brightness and prominence of the eyes and
the radiance of the whole, to give a brave, almost bold look to a
face which could hardly fail to remind those who knew them of the
lovely verses of Matthew Raydon, describing that of sir Philip
Sidney:

    A sweet attractive kinde of grace,
      A full assurance given by lookes,
    Continuall comfort in a face,
      The lineaments of Gospell-bookes;
    I trowe that countenance cannot lie
    Whose thoughts are legible in the eie.

Notwithstanding the disadvantages of the fashion, in the mechanical
pursuits to which he had hitherto devoted his life, he wore, like
Milton's Adam, his wavy hair down to his shoulders. In his youth, it
had been thick and curling; now it was thinner and straighter, yet
curled where it lay. His hands were small, with the taper fingers
that indicate the artist, while his thumb was that of the artizan,
square at the tip, with the first joint curved a good deal back.
That they were hard and something discoloured was not for Dorothy to
wonder at, when she remembered what she had both heard and seen of
his occupations.

I may here mention that what aided Dorothy much in the
interpretation of lord Herbert's countenance and the understanding
of his character--for it was not on this first observation of him
that she could discover all I have now set down--and tended largely
to the development of the immense reverence she conceived for him,
was what she saw of his behaviour to his father one evening not long
after, when, having been invited to the marquis's table, she sat
nearly opposite him at supper. With a willing ear and ready smile
for every one who addressed him, notably courteous where all were
courteous, he gave chief observance, amounting to an almost tender
homage, to his father. His thoughts seemed to wait upon him with a
fearless devotion. He listened intently to all his jokes, and
laughed at them heartily, evidently enjoying them even when they
were not very good; spoke to him with profound though easy respect;
made haste to hand him whatever he seemed to want, preventing
Scudamore; and indeed conducted himself like a dutiful youth, rather
than a man over forty. Their confident behaviour, wherein the
authority of the one and the submission of the other were
acknowledged with co-relative love, was beautiful to behold.

When husband and wife had conferred for a while, the former
stretched on a settee embroidered by the skilful hands of the
latest-vanished countess, his mother, and the latter seated near him
on a narrow tall-backed chair, mending her lace, there came a pause
in their low-toned conversation, and his lordship looking up seemed
anew to become aware of the presence of Dorothy.

'Well, cousin,' he said, 'how have you fared since we half-saw each
other a fortnight ago?'

'I have fared well indeed, my lord, I thank you,' said Dorothy, 'as
your lordship may judge, knowing whom I serve. In two short weeks my
lady loads me with kindness enough to requite the loyalty of a
life.'

'Look you, cousin, that I should believe such laudation of any less
than an angel?' said his lordship with mock gravity.

'No, my lord,' answered Dorothy.

There was a moment's pause; then lord Herbert laughed aloud.

'Excellent well, mistress Dorothy!' he cried. 'Thank your cousin, my
lady, for a compliment worthy of an Irishwoman.'

'I thank you, Dorothy,' said her mistress; 'although, Irishwoman as
I am, my lord hath put me out of love with compliments.'

'When they are true and come unbidden, my lady,' said Dorothy.

'What! are there such compliments, cousin?' said lord Herbert.

'There are birds of Paradise, my lord, though rarely encountered.'

'Birds of Paradise indeed! they alight not in this world. Birds of
Paradise have no legs, they say.

'They need them not, my lord. Once alighted, they fly no more.'

'How is it then they alight so seldom?'

'Because men shoo them away. One flew now from my heart to seek my
lady's, but your lordship frighted it.'

'And so it flew back to Paradise--eh, mistress Dorothy?' said lord
Herbert, smiling archly.

The supper bell rang, and instead of replying, Dorothy looked up for
her dismissal.

'Go to supper, my lady,' said lord Herbert. 'I have but just dined,
and will see what Caspar is about.'

'I want no supper but my Herbert,' returned lady Margaret. 'Thou
wilt not go to that hateful workshop?'

'I have so little time at home now--'

'That you must spend it from your lady?--Go to supper, Dorothy.'



CHAPTER XV

HUSBAND AND WIFE



'What an old-fashioned damsel it is!' said lord Herbert when Dorothy
had left the room.

'She has led a lonely life,' answered lady Margaret, 'and has read a
many old-fashioned books.'

'She seems a right companion for thee, Peggy, and I am glad of it,
for I shall be much from thee--more and more, I fear, till this
bitter weather be gone by.'

'Alas, Ned! hast thou not been more than much from me already? Thou
wilt certainly be killed, though thou hast not yet a scratch on thy
blessed body. I would it were over and all well!'

'So would I--and heartily, dear heart! In very truth I love fighting
as little as thou. But it is a thing that hath to be done, though
small honour will ever be mine therefrom, I greatly fear me. It is
one of those affairs in which liking goes farther than goodwill, and
as I say, I love it not, only to do my duty. Hence doubtless it
comes that no luck attends me. God knows I fear nothing a man ought
not to fear--he is my witness--but what good service of arms have I
yet rendered my king? It is but thy face, Peggy, that draws the
smile from me. My heart is heavy. See how my rascally Welsh yielded
before Gloucester, when the rogue Waller stole a march upon
them--and I must be from thence! Had I but been there instead of at
Oxford, thinkest thou they would have laid down their arms nor
struck a single blow? I like not killing, but I can kill, and I can
be killed. Thou knowest, sweet wife, thy Ned would not run.'

'Holy mother!' exclaimed lady Margaret.

'But I have no good luck at fighting,' he went on. 'And how again at
Monmouth, the hare-hearts with which I had thought to garrison the
place fled at the bare advent of that same parliament beagle,
Waller! By St. George! it were easier to make an engine that should
mow down a thousand brave men with one sweep of a scythe-and I could
make it-than to put courage into the heart of one runaway rascal. It
makes me mad to think how they have disgraced me!'

'But Monmouth is thine own again, Herbert!'

'Yes-thanks to the love they bear my father, not to my generalship!
Thy husband is a poor soldier, Peggy: he cannot make soldiers.'

'Then why not leave the field to others, and labour at thy engines,
love? If thou wilt, I tell thee what-I will doff my gown, and in
wrapper and petticoat help thee, sweet. I will to it with bare arms
like thine own.'

'Thou wouldst like Una make a sunshine in the shady place, Margaret.
But no. Poor soldier as I am, I will do my best, even where good
fortune fails me, and glory awaits not my coming. Thou knowest that
at fourteen days' warning I brought four thousand foot and eight
hundred horse again to the siege of Gloucester. It would ill befit
my father's son to spare what he can when he is pouring out his
wealth like water at the feet of his king. No, wife; the king shall
not find me wanting, for in serving my king, I serve my God; and if
I should fail, it may hold that an honest failure comes nigh enough
a victory to be set down in the chronicles of the high countries.
But in truth it presses on me sorely, and I am troubled at heart
that I should be so given over to failure.'

'Never heed it, my lord. The sun comes out clear at last maugre all
the region fogs.'

'Thanks, sweet heart! Things do look up a little in the main, and if
the king had but a dozen more such friends as my lord marquis, they
would soon be well. Why, my dove of comfort, wouldst thou believe
it?-I did this day, as I rode home to seek thy fair face, I did
count up what sums he hath already spent for his liege; and indeed I
could not recollect them all, but I summed up, of pounds already
spent by him on his majesty's behalf, well towards a hundred and
fifty thousand! And thou knowest the good man, that while he giveth
generously like the great Giver, he giveth not carelessly, but hath
respect to what he spendeth.'

'Thy father, Ned, is loyalty and generosity incarnate. If thou be
but half so good a husband as thy father is a subject, I am a happy
woman.'

'What! know'st thou not yet thy husband, Peggy?'

'In good soberness, though, Ned, surely the saints in heaven will
never let such devotion fail of its end.'

'My father is but one, and the king's foes are many. So are his
friends-but they are lukewarm compared to my father-the rich ones of
them, I mean. Would to God I had not lost those seven great
troop-horses that the pudding-fisted clothiers of Gloucester did
rob me of! I need them sorely now. I bought them with mine own-or
rather with thine, sweet heart. I had been saving up the money for a
carcanet for thy fair neck.'

'So my neck be fair in thine eyes, my lord, it may go bare and be
well clad. I should, in sad earnest, be jealous of the pretty stones
didst thou give my neck one look the more for their presence. Here!
thou may'st sell these the next time thou goest London-wards.'

As she spoke, she put up her hand to unclasp her necklace of large
pearls, but he laid his hand upon it, saying,

'Nay, Margaret, there is no need. My father is like the father in
the parable: he hath enough and to spare. I did mean to have the
money of him again, only as the vaunted horses never came, but were
swallowed up of Gloucester, as Jonah of the whale, and have not yet
been cast up again, I could not bring my tongue to ask him for it;
and so thy neck is bare of emeralds, my dove.'

    'Back and sides go bare, go bare,'

sang lady Margaret with a merry laugh;

    'Both foot and hand go cold;'

here she paused for a moment, and looked down with a shining
thoughtfulness; then sang out clear and loud, with bold alteration
of bishop Stills' drinking song,

    'But, heart, God send thee love enough,
      Of the new that will never be old.'

'Amen, my dove!'said lord Herbert.

'Thou art in doleful dumps, Ned. If we had but a masque for thee, or
a play, or even some jugglers with their balls!'

'Puh, Peggy! thou art masque and play both in one; and for thy
jugglers, I trust I can juggle better at my own hand than any troop
of them from furthest India. Sing me a song, sweet heart.'

'I will, my love,' answered lady Margaret.

Rising, she went to the harpsichord, and sang, in sweet unaffected
style, one of the songs of her native country, a merry ditty, with a
breathing of sadness in the refrain of it, like a twilight wind in a
bed of bulrushes.

'Thanks, my love,' said lord Herbert, when she had finished. 'But I
would I could tell its hidden purport; for I am one of those who
think music none the worse for carrying with it an air of such sound
as speaks to the brain as well as the heart.'

Lady Margaret gave a playful sigh.

'Thou hast one fault, my Edward--thou art a stranger to the tongue
in which, through my old nurse's tales, I learned the language of
love. I cannot call it my mother-tongue, but it is my love-tongue.
Why, when thou art from me, I am loving thee in Irish all day long,
and thou never knowest what my heart says to thee! It is a sad lack
in thy all-completeness, dear heart. But, I bethink me, thy new
cousin did sing a fair song in thy own tongue the other day, the
which if thou canst understand one straw better than my Irish, I
will learn it for thy sake, though truly it is Greek to me. I will
send for her. Shall I?'

As she spoke she rose and rang the bell on the table, and a little
page, in waiting in the antechamber, appeared, whom she sent to
desire the attendance of mistress Dorothy Vaughan.

'Come, child,' said her mistress as she entered, 'I would have thee
sing to my lord the song that wandering harper taught thee.'

'Madam, I have learned of no wandering harper: your ladyship means
mistress Amanda's Welsh song! shall I call her?' said Dorothy,
disappointed.

'I mean thee, and thy song, thou green linnet!' rejoined lady
Margaret. 'What song was it of which I said to thee that the singer
deserved, for his very song's sake, that whereof he made his moan?
Whence thou hadst it, from harper or bagpiper, I care not.'

'Excuse me, madam, but why should I sing that you love not to hear?'

'It is not I would hear it, child, but I would have my lord hear it.
I would fain prove to him that there are songs in plain English, as
he calls it, that have as little import, even to an English ear, as
the plain truth-speaking Irish ditties which he will not understand.
I say "WILL not," because our bards tell us that Irish was the
language of Adam and Eve while yet in Paradise, and therefore he
could by instinct understand it an' he would, even as the chickens
understand their mother-tongue.'

'I will sing it at your desire, madam; but I fear the worse fault
will lie in the singing.'

She seated herself at the harpsichord, and sang the following song
with much feeling and simplicity. The refrain of the song, if it may
be so called, instead of closing each stanza, preluded it.

    O fair, O sweet, when I do look on thee,
    In whom all joys so well agree,
    Heart and soul do sing in me.
      This you hear is not my tongue,
      Which once said what I conceived,
      For it was of use bereaved,
      With a cruel answer stung.
        No, though tongue to roof be cleaved,
        Fearing lest he chastis'd be,
        Heart and soul do sing in me.

    O fair, O sweet, &c.
      Just accord all music makes:
      In thee just accord excelleth,
      Where each part in such peace dwelleth,
      One of other beauty takes.
        Since then truth to all minds telleth
        That in thee lives harmony,
        Heart and soul do sing in me.

    O fair, O sweet, &c.
      They that heaven have known, do say
      That whoso that grace obtaineth
      To see what fair sight there reigneth,
      Forced is to sing alway;
        So then, since that heaven remaineth
        In thy face, I plainly see,
        Heart and soul do sing in me.

    O fair, O sweet, &c.
      Sweet, think not I am at ease,
      For because my chief part singeth;
      This song from death's sorrow springeth,
      As to Swan in last disease;
        For no dumbness nor death bringeth
        Stay to true love's melody:
        Heart and soul do sing in me.

'There!' cried lady Margaret, with a merry laugh. 'What says the
English song to my English husband?'

'It says much, Margaret,' returned lord Herbert, who had been
listening intently; 'it tells me to love you for ever.-What poet is
he who wrote the song, mistress Dorothy? He is not of our day-that I
can tell but too plainly. It is a good song, and saith much.'

'I found it near the end of the book called "The Countess of
Pembroke's Arcadia,"' replied Dorothy.

'And I knew it not! Methought I had read all that man of men ever
wrote,' said lord Herbert. 'But I may have read it, and let it slip.
But now that, by the help of the music and thy singing, cousin
Dorothy, I am come to understand it, truly I shall forget it no
more. Where got'st thou the music, pray?'

'It says in the book it was fitted to a certain Spanish tune, the
name of which I knew not, and yet know not how to pronounce; but I
had the look of the words in my head, and when I came upon some
Spanish songs in an old chest at home, and, turning them over, saw
those words, I knew I had found the tune to sir Philip's verses.'

'Tell me then, my lord, why you are pleased with the song,' said
lady Margaret, very quietly.

'Come, mistress Dorothy,' said lord Herbert, 'repeat the song to my
lady, slowly, line by line, and she will want no exposition
thereon.'

When Dorothy had done as he requested, lady Margaret put her arm
round her husband's neck, laid her cheek to his, and said,

'I am a goose, Ned. It is a fair and sweet song. I thank you,
Dorothy. You shall sing it to me another time when my lord is away,
and I shall love to think my lord was ill content with me when I
called it a foolish thing. But my Irish was a good song too, my
lord.'

'Thy singing of it proves it, sweet heart.--But come, my fair
minstrel, thou hast earned a good guerdon: what shall I give thee in
return for thy song?'

'A boon, a boon, my lord!' cried Dorothy.

'It is thine ere thou ask it,' returned his lordship, merrily
following up the old-fashioned phrase with like formality.

'I must then tell my lord what hath been in my foolish mind ever
since my lady took me to the keep, and I saw his marvellous array of
engines. I would glady understand them, my lord. Who can fail to
delight in such inventions as bring about that which before seemed
impossible?'

Here came a little sigh with the thought of her old companion
Richard, and the things they had together contrived. Already, on the
mist of gathering time, a halo had begun to glimmer about his head,
puritan, fanatic, blasphemer even, as she had called him.

Lord Herbert marked the soundless sigh.

'You shall not sigh in vain, mistress Dorothy,' he said, 'for
anything I can give you. To one who loves inventions it is easy to
explain them. I hoped you had a hankering that way when I saw you
look so curiously at the cross-bow ere you discharged it.'

'Was it then charged, my lord?'

'Indeed, as it happened, it was. A great steel-headed arrow lay in
the groove. I ought to have taken that away when I bent it. Some
passing horseman may have carried it with him in the body of his
plunging steed.'

'Oh, my lord!' cried Dorothy, aghast.

'Pray, do not be alarmed, cousin: I but jested. Had anything
happened, we should have heard of it. It was not in the least
likely. You will not be long in this house before you learn that we
do not speak by the card here. We jest not a little. But in truth I
was disappointed when I found your curiosity so easily allayed.'

'Indeed, my lord, it was not allayed, and is still unsatisfied. But
I had no thought who it was offered me the knowledge I craved. Had I
known, I should never have refused the lesson so courteously
offered. But I was a stranger in the castle, and I thought-I feared
I'

'You did even as prudence required, cousin Dorothy. A young maiden
cannot be too chary of unbuckling her enchanted armour so long as
the country is unknown to her. But it would be hard if she were to
suffer for her modesty. You shall be welcome to my cave. I trust you
will not find it as the cave of Trophonius to you. If I am not
there-and it is not now as it has been, when you might have found me
in it every day, and almost every hour of the day; but if I be not
there, do not fear Caspar Kaltoff, who is a worthy man, and as my
right hand to do the things my brain deviseth. I will speak to him
of thee. He is full of trust and worthiness, and, although not of
gentle blood, is sprung from a long race of artificers, the cloak of
whose gathered skill seems to have fallen on him. He hath been in my
service now for many years, but you will be the first lady, gentle
cousin, who has ever in all that time wished us good speed in our
endeavours. How few know,' he went on thoughtfully, after a pause,
'what a joy lies in making things obey thoughts! in calling out of
the mind, as from the vasty-deep, and setting in visible presence
before the bodily eye, that which till then had neither local
habitation nor name! Some such marvels I have to show--for marvels I
must call them, although it is my voice they have obeyed to come;
and I never lose sight of the marvel even while amusing myself with
the merest toy of my own invention.'

He paused, and Dorothy ventured to speak.

'I thank you, my lord, with all my heart. When have I leave to visit
those marvels?'

'When you please. If I am not there, Caspar will be. If Caspar is
not there, you will find the door open, for to enter that chamber
without permission would be a breach of law such as not a soul in
Raglan would dare be guilty of. And were it not so, there are few
indeed in the place who would venture to set foot in it if I were
absent, for it is not outside the castle walls only that I am looked
upon as a magician. The armourer firmly believes that with a word
uttered in my den there, I could make the weakest wall of the castle
impregnable, but that it would be at too great a cost. If you come
to-morrow morning you will find me almost certainly. But in case you
should find neither of us--do not touch anything; be content with
looking--for fear of mischance. Engines are as tickle to meddle with
as incantations them selves.'

'If I know myself, you may trust me, my lord,' said Dorothy, to
which he replied with a smile of confidence.



CHAPTER XVI.

DOROTHY'S INITIATION.



There was much about the castle itself to interest Dorothy. She had
already begun the attempt to gather a clear notion of its many parts
and their relations, but the knowledge of the building could not
well advance more rapidly than her acquaintance with its inmates,
for little was to be done from the outside alone, and she could not
bear to be met in strange places by strange people. So that part of
her education-I use the word advisedly, for to know all about the
parts of an old building may do more for the education of minds of a
certain stamp than the severest course of logic-must wait upon time
and opportunity.

Every day, often twice, sometimes thrice, she would visit the
stable-yard, and have an interview first with the chained Marquis,
and then with her little horse. After that she would seldom miss
looking in at the armourer's shop, and spending a few minutes in
watching him at his work, so that she was soon familiar with all
sorts of armour favoured in the castle. The blacksmiths' and the
carpenters' shops were also an attraction to her, and it was not
long before she knew all the artisans about the place. There were
the farm and poultry yards too, with which kinds of place she was
familiar--especially with their animals and all their ways. The
very wild beasts in their dens in the solid basement of the kitchen
tower--a panther, two leopards, an ounce, and a toothless old lion
had already begun to know her a little, for she never went near
their cages without carrying them something to eat. For all these
visits there was plenty of room, lady Margaret never requiring much
of her time in the early part of the day, and finding the reports
she brought of what was going on always amusing. And now the
orchards and gardens would soon be inviting, for the heart of the
world was already sending up its blood to dye the apple blossoms.

But all the opportunities she yet had were less than was needful for
the development of such a mind as Dorothy's, which, powerful in
itself, needed to be roused, and was slow in its movements except
when excited by a quick succession of objects, or the contact of a
kindred but busier nature. It was lacking not only in generative,
but in self-moving energy. Of self-sustaining force she had
abundance.

There was a really fine library in the castle, to which she had free
access, and whence, now and then, lady Margaret would make her bring
a book from which to read aloud, while she and her other ladies were
at work; but books were not enough to rouse Dorothy, and when
inclined to read she would return too exclusively to what she
already knew, making little effort to extend her gleaning-ground.

From this fragment of analysis it will be seen that the new resource
thus opened to her might prove of more consequence than, great as
were her expectations from it, she was yet able to anticipate. But
infinitely greater good than any knowledge of his mechanical
triumphs could bring her, was on its way to Dorothy along the path
of growing acquaintance with the noble-minded inventor himself.

The next morning, then, she was up before the sun, and, sitting at
her window, awaited his arrival. The moment he shone upon the gilded
cock of the bell tower, she rose and hastened out, eager to taste of
the sweets promised her; stood a moment to gaze on the limpid stream
ever flowing from the mouth of the white horse, and wonder whence
that and the whale-spouts he so frequently sent aloft from his
nostrils came; then passing through the archway and over the bridge,
found herself at the magician's door. For a moment she hesitated:
from within came such a tumult of hammering, that plainly it was of
no use to knock, and she could not at once bring herself to enter
unannounced and uninvited. But confidence in lord Herbert soon
aroused her courage, and gently she opened the door and peeped in.
There he stood, in a linen frock that reached from his neck to his
knees, already hard at work at a small anvil on a bench, while
Caspar was still harder at work at a huge anvil on the ground in
front of a forge. This, with the mighty bellows attached to it,
occupied one of the six sides of the room, and the great roaring,
hissing thing that had so frightened lady Margaret, now silent and
cold, occupied another. Neither of the men saw her. So she entered,
closed the door, and approached lord Herbert, but he continued
unaware of her presence until she spoke. Then he ceased his
hammering, turned, and greeted her with his usual smile of sincerity
absolute.

'Are you always as true to your appointments, cousin?' he said, and
resumed his hammering.

'It was hardly an appointment, my lord, and yet here I am,' said
Dorothy.

'And you mean to infer that----?'

'An appointment is no slight matter, my lord, or one that admits of
breaking.'

'Right,' returned his lordship, still hammering at the thin plate of
whitish metal growing thinner and thinner under his blows. Dorothy
glanced around her for a moment.

'I would not be troublesome, my lord,' she said; 'but would you tell
me in a few words what it is you make here?'

'Had I three tongues, and thou three ears,' answered lord Herbert,
'I could not. But look round thee, cousin, and when thou spiest the
thing that draws thine eye more than another, ask me concerning
that, and I will tell thee.'

Hardly had Dorothy, in obedience, cast her eyes about the place, ere
they lighted on the same huge wheel which had before chiefly
attracted her notice.

'What is that great wheel for, with such a number of weights hung to
it?' she asked.

'For a memorial,' replied lord Herbert, 'of the folly of the man who
placeth his hopes in man. That wonderful engine; it is now nearly
three years since I showed it to his blessed majesty in the Tower of
London, also with him to the dukes of Richmond and Hamilton, and two
extraordinary ambassadors besides, but of them all no man hath ever
sought to look upon it again. It is a form of the Proteus-like
perpetuum mobile-a most incredible thing if not seen.'

He then proceeded to show her how, as every spoke passed the highest
point, the weight attached to it immediately hung a foot farther
from the centre of the wheel, and as every spoke passed the lowest
point, its weight returned a foot nearer to the centre, thus causing
the leverage to be greater always on one and the same side of the
wheel. Few of my readers will regret so much as myself that I am
unable to give them the constructive explanation his lordship gave
Dorothy as to the shifting of the weights. Whether she understood it
or not, I cannot tell either, but that is of less consequence.
Before she left the workshop that morning, she had learned that a
thousand knowledges are needed to build up the pyramid on whose top
alone will the bird of knowledge lay her new egg.

When he had finished his explanation, lord Herbert returned to his
work, leaving Dorothy again to her own observations. And now she
would gladly have questioned him about the huge mass of brick and
iron, which, now standing silent, cold, and motionless as death, had
that night seemed alive with the fierce energy of flame, and yet
sorely driven, sighing, and groaning, and furiously hissing; but as
it was not now at work, she thought it would be better to wait an
opportunity when it should be in the agony of its wrestle with
whatever unseen enemy it coped withal. She did not know that, the
first of its race, it was not quite equal to the task the magician
had imposed upon it, but that its descendants would at length become
capable of doing a thousand times as much, with the swinging joy of
conscious might, with the pant of the giant, not the groan of the
overtasked stripling urging his last effort.

She was standing by a chest, examining the strangely elaborate and
mysterious-looking scutcheon of its lock, when his lordship's
hammering ceased, and presently she found that he was by her side.

'That escutcheon is the best thing of the kind I have yet made,' he
said. 'A humour I have, never to be contented to produce any
invention the second time, without appearing refined. The lock and
key of this are in themselves a marvel, for the little triangle
screwed key weighs no more than a shilling, and yet it bolts and
unbolts an hundred bolts through fifty staples round about the
chest, and as many more from both sides and ends, and at the self-
same time shall fasten it to a place beyond a man's natural strength
to take it away. But the best thing is the escutcheon; for the owner
of it, though a woman, may with her own delicate hand vary the ways
of coming to open the lock ten millions of times, beyond the
knowledge of the smith that made it, or of me who invented it. If a
stranger open it, it setteth an alarm agoing, which the stranger
cannot stop from running out; and besides, though none should .be
within hearing, yet it catcheth his hand, as a trap doth a fox; and
though far from maiming him, yet it leaveth such a mark behind it,
as will discover him if suspected; the escutcheon or lock plainly
showing what moneys he hath taken out of the box to a farthing, and
how many times opened since the owner hath been at it.'

He then showed her how to set it, left the chest open, and gave her
the key off his bunch that she might use it more easily. Ere she
returned it, she had made herself mistress of the escutcheon as far
as the mere working of it was concerned, as she proved to the
satisfaction of the inventor.

Her docility and quickness greatly pleased him. He opened a cabinet,
and after a search in its drawers, took from it a little thing, in
form and colour like a plum, which he gave her, telling her to eat
it. She saw from his smile that there was something at the back of
the playful request, and for a moment hesitated, but reading in his
countenance that he wished her at least to make the attempt, she put
it in her mouth.

She was gagged. She could neither open nor shut her mouth a hair's
breadth, could neither laugh, cry out, nor make any noise beyond an
ugly one she would not make twice. The tears came into her eyes, for
her position was ludicrous, and she imagined that his lordship was
making game of her. A girl less serious or more merry would have
been moved only to laughter.

But lord Herbert hastened to relieve her. On the application of a
tiny key, fixed with a joint in a finger-ring, the little steel
bolts it had thrown out in every direction returned within the plum,
and he drew it from her mouth.

'You little fool!' he said, with indescribable sweetness, for he saw
the tears in her eyes; 'did you think I would hurt you? '

'No, my lord; but I did fear you were going to make game of me. I
could not have borne Caspar to see me so.'

'Alas, my poor child!' he rejoined, 'you have come to the wrong
house if you cannot put up with a little chafing. There!' he added,
putting the plum in her hand, 'it is an untoothsome thing, but the
moment may come when you will find it useful enough to repay you for
the annoyance of a smile that had in it ten times more friendship
than merriment.'

'I ask your pardon, my lord,' said Dorothy, by this time blushing
deep with shame of her mistrust and over-sensitiveness, and on the
point of crying downright. But his lordship smiled so kindly that
she took heart and smiled again.

He then showed her how to raise the key hid in the ring, and how to
unlock the plum.

'Do not try it on yourself,' he said, as he put the ring on her
finger; 'you might find that awkward.'

'Be sure I shall avoid it, my lord,' returned Dorothy.

'And do not let any one know you have such a thing,' he said, 'or
that there is a key in your ring.'

'I will try not, my lord.'

The breakfast bell rang.

'If you will come again after supper,' he said, as he pulled off his
linen frock, 'I will show you my fire-engine at work, and tell you
all that is needful to the understanding thereof;--only you must
not publish it to the world,' he added, 'for I mean to make much
gain by my invention.'

Dorothy promised, and they parted--lord Herbert for the marquis's
parlour, Dorothy for the housekeeper's room, and Caspar for the
third table in the great hall.

After breakfast Dorothy practised with her plum until she could
manage it with as much readiness as ease. She found that it was made
of steel, and that the bolts it threw out upon the slightest
pressure were so rounded and polished that they could not hurt,
while nothing but the key would reduce them again within their
former sheath.

END OF VOL. I.





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