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Title: Arabella Stuart - A Romance from English History
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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Arabella Stuart
[Frontispiece]



                              THE WORKS
                                  OF
                         G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.


                 REVISED AND CORRECTED BY THE AUTHOR,


                    WITH AN INTRODUCTORY PREFACE.


"D'autres auteurs l'ont encore plus avili, (le roman,) en y mêlant les
tableaux dégoutant du vice; et tandis que le premier avantage des
fictions est de rassembler autour de l'homme tout ce qui, dans la
nature, peut lui servir de leçon ou de modèle, on a imaginé qu'on
tirerait une utilité quelconque des peintures odieuses de mauvaises
m[oe]urs; comme si elles pouvaient jamais laisser le c[oe]ur qui les
repousse, dans une situation aussi pure que le c[oe]ur qui les aurait
toujours ignorées. Mais un roman tel qu'on peut le concevoir, tel que
nous en avons quelques modèles, est une des plus belles productions de
l'esprit humain, une des plus influentes sur la morale des individus,
qui doit former ensuite les m[oe]urs publiques."--MADAME DE STAEL.
_Essai sur les Fictions_.

         "Poca favilla gran nomma seconda:
          Forse diretro a me, con miglior voci
          Si pregherà, perché Cirra risponda."
                         DANTE. _Paradiso_, Canto I.



                              VOL. XIX.

                           ARABELLA STUART.



                               LONDON:
                      SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
                       STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
                             M DCCC XLIX.



                           ARABELLA STUART:



                              A Romance


                        FROM ENGLISH HISTORY.


                                  BY


                         G. P. R. JAMES, ESQ.


                              ----------

                               LONDON:
                      SIMPKIN, MARSHALL, AND CO.
                       STATIONERS' HALL COURT.
                             M DCCC XLIX.



                               CONTENTS

     CHAPTER

     Preface.
     I.
     II.
     III.
     IV.
     V.
     VI.
     VII.
     VIII.
     IX.
     X.
     XI.
     XII.
     XIII.
     XIV.
     XV.
     XVI.
     XVII.
     XVIII.
     XIX.
     XX.
     XXI.
     XXII.
     XXIII
     XXIV.
     XXV.
     XXVI.
     XXVII.
     XXVIII.
     XXIX.
     XXX.
     XXXI.
     XXXII.
     XXXIII.
     XXXIV.
     XXXV.
     XXXVI.
     XXXVII.
     XXXVIII.
     XXXIX.
     XL.
     XLI.
     XLII.
     XLIII.
     XLIV.
     XLV.
     XLVI.


                           TO REAR-ADMIRAL

                  SIR GEORGE F. SEYMOUR, C.B. G.C.H.

                             &c. &c. &c.

                                -----

MY DEAR SIR,

If the dedication of a work like the present could afford any adequate
expression of high respect and regard, I should feel greater pleasure
than I do in offering you these pages; but such things have become so
common, that, though every one who knows you will understand the
feelings which induce me to present you with this small tribute, yet I
cannot but be aware that it is very little worthy of your acceptance.
You will receive it, however, I know, with the same kindness which you
have frequently displayed towards me, as a mark, however slight, of my
gratitude for the interest you have always shown in myself and my
works, and as a testimony of unfeigned esteem from one, who can fully
appreciate in others higher qualities than he can pretend to himself.

Although I am inclined to believe that the public may judge this one
of the most interesting tales I have written, I can take but little
credit to myself on that account; for all the principal events are so
strictly historical, that little was left to the author but to tell
them as agreeably as he could. The story of the fair and unfortunate
Arabella Stuart is well known to every one at all acquainted with
English history; and has called forth more than one poem of
considerable merit, though, I believe, as yet, has never been made the
foundation of a romance. From that story, as it has been told by
contemporaries, I have had but very little occasion to deviate, merely
supplying a few occasional links to connect it with other events of
the time.

In depicting the characters of the various persons who appear upon the
scene, however, I have had a more difficult task to perform, being
most anxious to represent them as they really were, and not on any
account to distort and caricature them. The rudeness of the age,--the
violent passions that were called into action,--the bold and erratic
disregard which thus reigned of all those principles which have now
been universally recognised for many years, rendered it not easy to
give the appearance of truth and reality to events that did actually
happen, and to personages who have indeed existed; for to the age of
James I. may well be applied the often repeated maxim, that "Truth is
stranger than Fiction."

Difficulties as great, and many others of a different description,
have been overcome in the extraordinary romance called "Ferrers;" but
it is not every one who possesses the powers of vigorous delineation
which have been displayed by the Author of that remarkable work; and I
have been obliged to trust to the reader's knowledge of history, to
justify me in the representation which I have given of characters and
scenes, which might seem overstrained and unnatural, to those who have
been only accustomed to travel over the railroad level of modern
civilization.

The character of James I. himself has been portrayed by Sir Walter
Scott with skill to which I can in no degree pretend--but with a very
lenient hand. He here appears under a more repulsive aspect, as a
cold, brutal, vain, frivolous tyrant. Nevertheless, every act which I
have attributed to him blackens the page of history, with many others,
even more dark and foul, which I have not found necessary to
introduce. Indeed, I would not even add one deed which appeared to me
in the least degree doubtful; for I do believe that we have no right
to charge the memory of the dead with anything that is not absolutely
proved against them. We must remember, that we try them in a court
where they cannot plead, before a jury chosen by ourselves, and
pronounce a sentence against which they can make no appeal: and I
should be as unwilling to add to the load of guilt which weighs down
the reputation of a bad man, as to detract from the high fame and
honour of a great and good one. My conviction, however, is
unalterable, that James I. was at once one of the most cruel tyrants,
and one of the most disgusting men, that ever sat upon a throne.

In the account I have given of Lady Essex, I shall probably be accused
of having drawn an incarnate fiend; but I reply, that I have not done
it. Her character is traced in the same colours by the hand of
History. Fortunately, it so happens that few have ever been like her;
for wickedness is generally a plant of slow growth, and we rarely find
that extreme youth is totally devoid of virtues, though it may be
stained with many vices. Such as I have found her, so have I painted
her; suppressing, indeed, many traits and many actions which were
unfit for the eye of a part, at least, of my readers. Dark as her
character was, however, its introduction into this tale afforded me a
great advantage, by the contrast it presented to that of Arabella
Stuart herself; bringing out the brightness of that sweet lady's mind,
and the gentleness of her heart, in high relief; and I hope and trust,
tending to impress upon the minds of those who peruse these pages, the
excellence of virtue and the deformity of vice.

Upon the character and fate of Sir Thomas Overbury there has always
hung a degree of mystery. I do not know whether these pages may tend
at all to dispel it; but, at all events, I have not written them
without examining minutely into all the facts; and, probably, the
conclusions at which I have arrived are as accurate as those of
others. I must reserve, however, one statement, for which I find no
authority, but which was necessary to the construction of my story,
namely, that which refers to Overbury's proposal of a marriage between
Rochester and the Lady Arabella.

I need not tell one so intimately acquainted with English History as
yourself, that all the other characters here introduced, with one or
two exceptions amongst the inferior personages, are historical; and I
have endeavoured, to the best of my power, to represent them such as
they really were.

Having said thus much, I shall add no more; for, in submitting the
work to you, though I know I shall have an acute judge, yet I shall
have a kind one; and trusting that you will, at all events, derive
some amusement from these pages, I will only further beg you to
believe me,

                         My dear Sir,

                    Your most faithful servant,

                                   G. P. R. JAMES.

_The Oaks, near Walmer, Kent_,
     1_st December_, 1843.



                           ARABELLA STUART.



                              CHAPTER I.


There was a small, old-fashioned, red brick house, situated just upon
the verge of Cambridgeshire, not in the least peculiar in its aspect,
and yet deserving a description. The reader shall know why, before we
have done. As you came along the road from London you descended a
gentle hill, not very long, and yet long enough to form, with an
opposite rise, one of those sweet, calm valleys which are
peculiarly characteristic of the greater part of this country. When
you were at the top of the hill, in looking down over some hedge-rows
and green fields, the first thing your eye lighted upon in the bottom
of the dale was a quick-running stream, which seemed to have a
peculiar art of catching the sunshine wherever it was to be found. Its
course, though almost as rapid as if it had come down from a
mountain,--having had, it is true, a pretty sharp descent about a mile
to the westward,--was nevertheless, at this spot, directed through
soft green meadows, and between flat and even banks. The water was of
some depth also, not less in general than from five to six feet,
though not in most places above four or five yards in width. Where it
crossed the road, however, there being no bridge, and the highway
somewhat raised, it spread itself out into a good broad shallow
stream, which, in the deepest part, only washed your horse's feet a
little above the pastern.

Having carried it thus far, reader, we will leave it, without pursuing
its course on towards the sea, which it reached somehow, and
somewhere, by ways and through channels with which we have nothing to
do.

The eye of the traveller, however, on the London road, in tracing this
stream farther up, came upon a clump of tall old trees disencumbered
of all brushwood, spreading wide at the top, but ungarnished by boughs
or green leaves below, and affording habitation to a multitude of busy
rooks, whose inharmonious voices--when joined together in full chorus,
and heard from a distance--formed a peculiar kind of melody,
connecting itself with many memories in the hearts of almost every
one, and rousing soft and pensive imaginations from its intimate
connexion with those country scenes, and calm pleasures, amongst which
must lie all man's sweetest associations. From the top of the hill on
which we have placed ourselves, a number of chimney tops, somewhat
quaint and fantastic in their forms, appeared to be actually rising
from the very heart of the rookery; but if you stopped to let your
horse drink at the stream in the bottom of the valley, and looked up
its course to the left, you perceived that the house to which those
chimneys belonged, lay at the distance of more than two hundred yards
from the trees, and had a large garden with a long terrace, and a low
wall between it and them.

The mansion was of no great extent, as we have already hinted, and
might belong to a gentleman of limited means, though moving in the
better ranks of life; the windows were principally of that peculiar
form which was first introduced under the Tudors, as the pointed arch
of a preceding epoch began to bow itself down towards the straight
line in which it was extinguished not long after. The whole building
might have risen from the ground somewhat more than half a century
before the period of which we now speak, perhaps in the reign of Mary
Tudor, perhaps in that of her brother Edward; and yet I will not take
upon myself to say that the bloody and ferocious monster, their
father, might not have seen it as he travelled down into
Cambridgeshire. The colouring, indeed, was of that soiled and sombre
hue, which bespoke long acquaintance with the weather; and though
originally the glowing red bricks might have shown as rubicund a face
as any newly painted Dutch house at the side of a canal, they were now
sobered down with age, and grey with the cankering hand of time.
Although the garden was neatly kept, and somewhat prim, according to
the fashion of the day, and a bowling-green just within the terrace
was as trim and neatly shaved as if the scythe passed over it every
morning, nevertheless about the building itself were some signs and
symptoms of decay, the work of neglect, rather than of time. Instead
of neat and orderly pointing, the brickwork displayed, in various
places, many an unstopped joint; and though, doubtless, weather-tight
within, the stone coping was here and there broken, while one or two
of the chimneys, which were gathered into groups of four set
angularly, displayed the want of a brick in various places, which
destroyed their fair proportions, without perhaps affecting their
soundness.

It was in the year 1603, two hundred and forty years ago; reader, a
long time for you and me to look back to, but yet the men and women of
those days were the same creatures that we see moving round us at
present, with this slight difference, that they had been less inured
to restrain their passions, and conceal their feelings, than we are in
a more polished and civilized state of society. Two hundred and forty
years! What a lapse of time it seems; and yet to each of the many
whose lives have filled up the intervening period, their own allotted
portion, when they have looked back from the end of existence to the
beginning, has seemed but a mere point--a moment out of the long
eternity. To each, too, the changes which have taken place, and which
to us in the aggregate appear vast and extraordinary, have been so
slow and gradual, that he has scarcely perceived them, any more than
we notice the alteration which fashion effects in our garments as we
go on from year to year. Customs and manners, indeed, were very
different in those days, though human beings were the same; but we
must not stop to dwell upon minute particulars, or to detail forms and
ceremonies, for it is not so much our object to depict the fashions
and habits of that age, as to sketch a sad and extraordinary part of
its history.

Between six and seven o'clock on an evening in the month of May, while
the sky overhead was just beginning to be tinged with the hues of the
declining sun, and the old trees of the rookery, covered with their
young green leaves, looked almost autumnal in the various tints with
which spring had decked them, a gentleman of fifty-eight or fifty-nine
years of age walked slowly up and down upon the terrace which ran
along before the building. He was upright in figure, well made though
spare in form, rather below than above the middle height, calm and
sedate in his step, thoughtful and perhaps sad in the expression of
his countenance. His hair was quite white, soft, silky, and hanging,
as was then customary, in curls upon his neck. His eyebrows, which
like his hair and beard were colourless, were somewhat bushy and
arched. His mustachios were neatly trimmed, and his beard pointed, not
very long, but yet not cut round, as was the fashion with the younger
men of the day. He was dressed in black velvet, with shoes bearing
large black rosettes, a small hat with a single feather, and had no
ornament whatsoever about his person, unless the buttons of jet which
studded his doublet, and the clasp of the same material which fastened
his short cloak, deserved that name.

He was, indeed, altogether a very grave and serious looking personage,
with much mildness and benevolence as well as sagacity in his
countenance; and yet there was a certain slight turn of the lip, an
occasional twinkle of the eye, and a drawing up of the nostril, which
seemed to indicate the slightest possible touch of a sarcastic spirit,
which had, perhaps, at an earlier period been more unruly, though it
was now chastened by the cares, the sorrows, the anxieties, and the
experience of life.

He walked up and down, then, upon the terrace for some minutes, each
time he turned, whether at the one end or the other, gazing down the
course of the stream between the slopes of the hills towards the spot
where the road from London crossed the valley, and then again bending
his eyes upon the ground in meditation. Occasionally, however, he
would look up to the sky, or down into the bowling-green; and, after
one of the latter contemplations, he descended a flight of four stone
steps which led down to the greensward, with the same calm and sedate
step which had distinguished his promenade above; and taking up the
large, round, wooden ball which lay on the grass, he held it in his
hand for a moment, and then bowled it deliberately at a set of
skittles which had remained standing at the other end of the green.
The ball hit the pin at which it was aimed, which in its fall
overthrew a number of others, while the gentleman whose hand had
despatched the messenger of mischief on its errand, looked on with a
grave smile. There was evidently something more in the expression of
his countenance than mere amusement at seeing the heavy pieces of wood
tumble over one another, and he murmured to himself as he turned
away,----

"Thus it is with human projects--ay, the best intended and most firmly
founded; some accidental stroke overthrows one of our moral ninepins,
and down go the whole nine!"

So saying, he returned to the terrace, and raising his voice he cried,
"Lakyn, Lakyn!" upon which a stout old serving-man, with a badge upon
his arm, came out unbonneted to receive his master's commands.

"Take away those ninepins, Lakyn," said the gentleman, "they have no
business on the bowling-green; and put the bowls, too, under shelter.
It will rain before morning."

"God bless your worship," replied the servant, looking up to the sky,
"you are as weatherwise as a conjuror."

"Or a shepherd," replied the gentleman, resuming his walk; and the old
man proceeded to gather up the implements of the good old game of our
ancestors, muttering to himself, "Who would have thought it would rain
before morning with such a sky as that. He knows more than other men,
that's certain."

While he was busy with the bowls, his master's eye, glancing down
again as before to the spot where the road and the stream met, rested
on the figure of a single horseman coming from the direction of
London.

"There, Lakyn, Lakyn!" he exclaimed; "run in, and never mind the
bowls. Tell Sharpe to go round and take Mr. Seymour's horse at the
garden gate. I will meet him there."

The old man hastened to obey, and, with his usual composed step, Sir
Harry West--for such was the gentleman's name--proceeded from the
terrace, through the garden which we have mentioned, to the angle next
to the rookery, where he waited, leaning upon a little gate, till the
horseman he had seen on the road arrived at the spot. At the same
moment another old servant dressed in grey ran down panting, and
doffing his bonnet to the stranger with lowly reverence, held the
bridle while he dismounted.

The horseman then at a quick pace advanced to the gate, which was by
this time open to receive him, and with a look of glad and well
satisfied reverence kissed the hand of the master of the house. Sir
Harry West, however, threw his arm around him affectionately, and
gazed in his face, saying, "Welcome, my dear William, welcome! So you
are back from Flanders at length. 'Tis eighteen months since I have
seen you."

"'Tis a long time indeed, sir," replied the visitor; "but time has
made no change in you, I am glad to see."

"It has in you, William," answered Sir Harry West; "a great change,
but a good one--though why in our boyhood we should desire man's
estate I know not. 'Tis but a step to the grave. However, you are a
man now both in years and appearance, though you left me but a youth;"
and once more he gazed over the young gentleman's face and form, as we
look at a country we have known in our early years on returning after
a long absence, tracing the changes that have been made therein, and
sometimes perhaps regretting even the improvements.

The countenance and the form that he looked upon were not indeed ill
calculated to bear inspection, being those of an English gentleman of
about one or two and twenty years of age, and of the best class and
character. Now there can be little doubt to any one who has travelled
far and wide over distant lands, that the English people are, on the
whole--with the exception, perhaps, of some small tribes in the Tyrol,
and of one or two districts in Spain, where the Moorish blood has been
mixed with the Gothic--the handsomest race that this quarter of the
world called Europe can produce; and the young stranger was certainly
not inferior to any of his countrymen in personal appearance. He was
tall and evidently powerful in form, though some of the slightness of
youth was still there, and all its graces. His hair was dark brown and
curling in large waves, and his features were as fine as those of any
of the faces that poet, painter, or sculptor have ever dreamed or
portrayed.

There was, moreover, a peculiar expression in his countenance which
struck the eye more than even the beauty of the lines. It was an
expression of depth, of intensity, which sometimes may be seen in very
ugly faces, but which is sure to give them a charm which nothing can
take away. His manner, too, harmonized with the expression, and gave
it force. Before he spoke, especially when, as in the present case, he
was intimate with the person with whom he conversed, he paused for a
single moment, looking at him thoughtfully, as if seeking the spirit
within and addressing himself to it; so that it seemed that there was
a communication established between himself and those he loved
distinct from that of speech.

These things, though they be slight, have a considerable influence on
the intercourse of ordinary life; and as the sum of human existence is
made up of small things, (the greater events being but the accidents,)
all that affects their course has its importance.

Nor is dress, in general, altogether unworthy of attention. Somebody
has called it the habitual expression of a man's mind; and, though I
cannot agree to that definition in the full sense, yet, certainly,
where there is no impediment to his following his own wishes, a man's
dress affords strong indications of his tastes and habits of thought.
That of William Seymour was not studied, but yet it was such as well
became him; there was a certain degree of carelessness about the
slashed doublet, of dark green cloth, showing the white satin with
which it was lined here and there; but yet it fitted well. The cloak
of the same colour, with its edging of gold, was thrown lightly on the
shoulder, and the hat and plume not quite straight upon the head. As
if fond of the same hues, no other colours were used in any part of
his dress, even to the sheath of his sword and dagger, with the
exception of the large riding boots of untanned leather, which were
those commonly worn by all gentlemen in travelling. These of course
bore their own russet hue, and displayed marks of a long ride. The
rest of his dress also was somewhat dusty, for the day had been warm
and dry; and the roads of England were in those times not of the same
firm and solid consistence of which they may boast at present, so that
the garments of the traveller were generally more powdered with sand
in the summer, and more splashed with mud in the winter, though his
horse might display less frequently a pair of broken knees, and his
own head find a softer resting-place if he chanced to meet with a
fall.

Of the conversation which ensued at the garden gate between Sir Harry
West and William Seymour, I shall not stop to give the details.
Suffice it that the words of the traveller merely evinced his
satisfaction at seeing again one who had been the guide of his youth,
under whom he had first tried his arms in Ireland against Tyrone, and
who was, moreover, nearly related to him, being his mother's first
cousin; while those of Sir Harry West displayed little less pleasure
at seeing the boy whom he had educated in the way of honour, than if
he had been his only child. Talking over the events of the last
eighteen months, and mingling their conversation with many a reference
to former years, they passed through the garden and over the terrace
into the house.

There, over pleasant memories, amidst which there was but little to
forget,--for even pains and anxieties, strifes and fatigues, which
pass away, gain through the softening glass of memory a rosy hue,
mellowed yet warm,--they enjoyed an hour of that sweet intercourse
which can only be known to hearts conscious of high and upright
purposes; for the things on which remembrance dare not rest, are only
follies and vices. All accidental sorrows may be dwelt upon with
calmness, or recollected with gratitude to him who sent them; the
sorrows that spring from ourselves preserve their unmitigated
bitterness. But here there were none such to recal; and, though they
spoke of perils, ay, and disasters, of the loss of friends well loved,
of bright expectations disappointed, and of aspirations for their
country's good unfruitful, yet, in that old hall, no self-reproach
mingled with the theme of their discourse; and it was pleasant and
soothing both to the young man and the old.

There we will leave them for a certain time, to return to them ere
long.



                             CHAPTER II.


There was a large fire blazing in the wide, open chimney of a little
village inn, although it was, as we have said, the month of May, and
the temperature during the day had been warm. Towards evening,
however, it had grown colder, and small drops of rain had begun to
descend, ending in a heavy shower as night fell. The fire, however,
had not been piled up with the logs of which it was principally
composed, altogether for the purpose of keeping out the chilly air of
evening--though several of the neighbouring peasantry had taken
advantage of the cheerful blaze to warm themselves while they drank
their jug of ale; and mine host, with his fair white apron, took care
to give them every encouragement to remain, and showed not the
slightest disinclination to make as many journeys to the hogshead as
his guests desired. His wife, however, and his daughter, both of whom
were busily engaged in basting some provision, which turned upon two
large spits before the cracking wood, seemed much less disposed to the
society of the villagers, giving them many a hint that they
interrupted them in the care of the capons, distracted their attention
from the sirloin, and had well-nigh made them spoil "the dumplings and
all" by letting the pot boil over. In the end, the elder dame, warm by
nature, and heated still farther by the fire, gave one of the boors a
push with her broad hand, which brought him from his stool to the
floor, exclaiming,

"Get thee gone, Cobbler Hodge; 'tis time for thee to be home with thy
wife. The gentry will be here anon, and we must have the place
cumbered with the like of thee, must we!"

"Nay, nay, Maude," said her husband, "the great people ever say
half-an-hour before they intend to come. Let the man remain, I tell
thee; they wont be here for this hour."

"And we will stay till they come," cried Hodge, rising up, and
resuming his seat a little farther from the fair virago of the inn.
"We want to see who are these gentry that arrive so late at night.
These are perilous times, Master Millpond, when the Queen is just
dead, and the King's Majesty not arrived from the North."

"It may be the King himself, God bless his Grace!" said another of the
boors; but even as he spoke, to prove the conjecture false, as well as
the prognostications of the landlord, the sound of horses' feet, and
persons speaking, was heard approaching the door; and, the moment
after, a voice was added, calling loudly, and in a tone of great
authority, for host, ostlers, and horseboys.

The landlord rushed out with all speed; his wife abused her humble
neighbours in no very gentle and tender terms; the peasants themselves
drew back in awe, the greater because the object of it was undefined;
and, after a few moments of confusion, clatter, and talking without,
mine host reappeared, bowing to the ground, as he ushered in his
guests.

The first who entered--nearly a minute before any of the rest--was
certainly not the sort of being the persons assembled within expected
to see, for the door only gave admission to a beautiful girl of some
nineteen or twenty years of age, with her rich, clustering hair, wet
with the rain, falling from its bands about her face and shoulders,
and with a look of laughing, yet half-rueful, satisfaction on her face
as she turned to one of those behind, saying in a sweet, though
jesting tone,

"Good faith, my friend, if thou art as wet as I am, the lowliness of
the roof will not mar your joy in taking shelter under it."

"Lord love you, sweet lady!" cried the hostess, advancing. "Well, you
are wet indeed! What a night for such a beautiful lady as you to be
out in. Why, all the rich velvet and the gold lace is spoiled. Heart
of grace! and your yellow riding-coat is all draggled with mud above
your knees!"

"Ay! good truth," replied the lady, advancing toward the fire, "it is
so, indeed, dame. Forty sterling marks cast away upon a miserable
shower of rain, and a weary ride from Walden. But here seems the
comfort of plentiful food, and a good fire to dry one."

"Oh, yes, lady; oh, yes," replied the hostess, "everything is quite
ready; let me take out that buckle, lady.--Get you home to your beds,
fellows! what do you stand staring at there, as if you never saw a
young gentlewoman before?--It's all because you're so beautiful,
ma'am, that puts them out of their manners. 'Tisn't every day they see
a skin like that, I trow."

The lady tossed her head with a gay laugh. "I thought such words were
the coin of courts," she said, "not current in the country; but I am
overburdened with such small change, good dame, so tell me no more of
my beauty, and do not drive these good people from the fire, where
they have as much right as I have. Now, Maltby and Adams, bring in all
the bags here, or they will soon be as wet as we are; and do not let
the girl Marian stay out there all night to look after goods and
chattels which will not melt as easily as herself, I warrant. We must
stay here this night, that's clear. Why, what's the matter, Marian:
you seemed scared?"

The girl whom she addressed, and who was evidently the maid of a
person of quality, ran up to her mistress with somewhat frightened and
mysterious looks, whispering something in her ear; while the hostess,
on the other side, assailed her with assurances that everything was
quite right and prepared "for her bedchamber, and guest-chamber, and
all," muttering between whiles to herself, "Stay here?--To be sure!
Marry, when all is made ready, why should she not?"

The lady might be somewhat embarrassed by the discourses of the two
who addressed her at once; but, nevertheless, she seemed to catch the
words of each, and replied to both.

"Four men?" she said, speaking to the maid. "Well, what of that, girl?
They will do thee no harm, though they be on horseback. You say, my
good dame, that all is made ready for me; but, in good truth, I fear
there is some mistake, which, I trust, may not deprive me of my supper
and a lodging. I intended to have gone farther to-night,--perhaps to
Royston; and it was the rain that drove me hither. Mayhap thy good
things are made ready for some other person."

"For me, madam," said a gentleman, advancing from the door, the
threshold of which he had crossed the moment before. "But, right happy
am I," he added, "that what was prepared for me may be used by you,
whom all men are bound to honour and obey."

The lady had turned, with some surprise, at first sound of the
speaker's voice, and, certainly, his words did not diminish her
astonishment. He was a tall, thin, bony man, dark in complexion,
somewhat sharp in features, with a cold, calm, steady eye, but a bland
and a pleasant smile about the mouth. He was dressed in the style of a
military man of some rank, and affected the bushy beard and long
mustachios of the swaggering adventurers of the day. Nothing else,
however, in his appearance or manner indicated that he belonged to
that somewhat disagreeable and dangerous race of animals. But no line
or feature in his face called up any recollection of him in the lady's
mind; and, after a momentary pause to consider his countenance, she
replied, "You seem to know me, sir, and yet may be mistaken. I am a
very humble person, whom no one is bound to obey that I know of, but
my good girl, Marian, here, and one or two trusty servants, who find
the bond more in their affection than their duty."

"The Lady Arabella Stuart," answered the stranger, "is not to be
mistaken; and surely one so near the crown of England may well command
our duty."

"I am the king's most humble subject, though his kinswoman, sir,"
replied the Lady Arabella, coldly; for, young as she was, she had
already been the object of ambitious designs on the part of some, and
needless jealousy on the part of others. "I claim no duty from any one
but my own people, and would fain make that as light as may be."

"Your ladyship is wise and right," said the stranger; "and love makes
duty light to all men. What I would say is, madam, I rejoice that I
yesterday commanded preparations in this poor inn, as all is ready for
you, which it might not otherwise have done. Come, dame hostess, show
the lady to a chamber where she may change her dress; and, in the
meantime, good master, serve the supper, to be ready when she returns.
Have you the vacant room prepared which I ordered? With her
permission, I will be the Lady Arabella's humble carver."

The lady bowed her head, gave a quick glance round three or four other
faces, which were now gathered together at the farther side of the
room, and, accompanied by her maid, retired, with the landlady's
daughter lighting her, and one of the two men-servants carrying a pair
of ponderous leathern bags, such as were then commonly used for
conveying the various articles of dress which a traveller might need
upon his journey.

As soon as she was gone, the gentleman who had been speaking to her,
turned to three other personages, who seemed to have arrived in his
company, and held a low and earnest conversation with them for some
minutes. The landlord's ears were sharp, and he had his own share of
shrewdness; but although he man[oe]uvred skilfully to come nearer to
the strangers, and used his facility of hearing to the utmost, he
could only catch two or three words.

One said, somewhat louder than the rest, "'Tis most fortunate;"
another, "We should have passed them in the night, and missed our
mark. Good luck to the rain!"

The landlord could gather no more; and seeing the eye of the principal
visitor upon him, he thought it best to apply himself seriously to
carry in the supper into an adjoining chamber, which had been prepared
according to directions received beforehand. When he returned from his
first expedition with trenchers and drinking-cups, he found the
stranger, who seemed the leader of the rest, standing before the fire,
while the villagers, who had lingered till they received a very sharp
and definite hint from the landlady, were no longer apparent.

As soon as the landlord came in, his guest made a slight and scarcely
perceptible motion across his breast. The host instantly crossed
himself, bowing his head low, and from that moment a sort of
confidential intercourse was established between him and the stranger,
which made them both understand each other perfectly, without a word
of explanation being spoken.

In the meanwhile the lady had been shown into a room, low in the roof,
with the large dark rafters protruding from the ceiling. It contained
two beds, a small mirror, not much larger than one's hand, a table,
some chairs, and a large brazen sconce against the wall, with lamps
not lighted. While the serving-man laid the large leathern bags across
a stool, and the landlady's daughter bustled about in setting things
to rights, Arabella Stuart, seated before the table, had fallen into a
deep reverie.

We must look into her thoughts: for she spoke not, though she was
carrying on an argument with herself.

"I know not his face," she said; "I know not his face, and yet I must
doubt the man--and that other face over his shoulder? Methinks I have
seen it before--can it have been with the Jesuit, Parsons?--else why
did it bring up that wicked, cunning man to my mind, who would fain
have entangled me in things for my destruction? Well, well, I will
treat it lightly--ay, lightly. The shaft that may hit the heavy-flying
crow misses the light-winged swallow. Yet I will be upon my guard; and
if I find new plotters, I will not house with them through the
night--I will no plots, not I. If they will but let me live my little
life in peace, and die with an innocent spirit, I ask no more. Marian,
girl!" she added, aloud, and then whispered to the maid for a moment,
who instantly quitted the room.

"Come hither, pretty maiden," continued the lady, addressing the
landlord's daughter, "and help me to put off this dress. It seems a
fair country this round your village, as well as I could judge through
the rain. Now, there is many a gentleman's house in the neighbourhood,
I'll warrant."

"Good heart, no," replied the girl; "we are but poorly off in such
commodities."

"Why, faith, I thought I saw several large houses as I came along,"
rejoined the lady. "Who's was that large mansion on the top of the
hill, about a mile hence?"

The girl laughed. "That's the great black barn," she said. "It does
look like a castle by night, with the trees round it. No, madam: the
only large house we have near is Sir Harry West's."

"I must have passed it as I came," answered the lady. "Undo this knot,
good girl. I know Sir Harry West well. He showed himself a gallant
gentleman in the Irish wars, though as mild as he is brave. Which was
his house?"

"If you are journeying from London," said the girl, "you passed it two
miles hence, on the left up the valley, by the side of the stream. But
I doubt if you could see it by night."

The lady made no reply, and the moment after her maid re-entered the
room, and took the place of the landlady's daughter in assisting the
Lady Arabella at her toilet. The dress was soon changed--at least as
far as she would suffer it to be; for the long riding-skirt, in which
she had come thither, she retained over her other garments, though it
was soiled, and somewhat wet. In this plight, however, she returned to
the kitchen of the inn, where she found the strange cavalier ready to
receive her, and was by him led, with courtier-like formality, into an
adjoining chamber, where a table was placed, groaning under the
abundant supper which had been prepared. But only one cover was laid
upon the board, apparently intended for herself. To this place the
stranger conducted her, and seemed literally about to take upon
himself the office of carver, as he had proposed; but Arabella paused,
without sitting down, saying,

"Nay, my good sir, I should surely be wanting in courtesy to let you
stand and carve, while I, like the wild beast, which loves to feast
without company, devour your supper. You have more gentlemen, too, I
think, with you--though I know neither their name nor yours, to ask
you to be seated."

"Oh, my followers, madam, will find supper without," replied the
stranger; "and as to my name, lady, I am called the Baron de
Mardyke,--a foreign name, as you will see, but having been born in
England, in King Edward's time, I am more than half an Englishman."

"Pray, then, be seated," said the Lady Arabella; and the stranger,
drawing a stool to the table, did as she bade him.

Before he took his place, however, he crossed himself reverently, in
rather an ostentatious manner, very different from that which he had
used in making the same sign before the landlord. The lady could not
help noticing the gesture; but she took no notice, and, after a brief
grace murmured to herself, sat down at table.

The gentleman, as in duty bound, carved for her; and, as she made no
observation, the meal was silent for several minutes, while the
landlord and one of the stranger's servants came in and out, and
caused a bustle amongst the plates and trenchers.

"In Spain," said the stranger, breaking silence, with a smile, "the
host of an inn so near the capital as this, would have been ashamed to
send up capons of last year to a lady's table."

"You have been in Spain, then," said the Lady Arabella. "It is a fair
country, is it not?--rich in song and romance?"

"Rich in everything," replied the baron; "beautiful to the eye,
delicious in climate, full of splendid cities and courteous
gentlemen--a land of princes, lady."

"Good truth, then, it must be but a dull place," exclaimed Arabella,
with a gay laugh. "I have seen some princes since my birth, and I must
say that they are the dullest specimens of mortal man I ever met
with."

"You have known few Spanish princes, madam," said her companion, "or
you would judge differently."

"No," answered the lady; "the only one I ever met with, who bore his
dignity with modesty and elevated it by grace, was a German."

"True," rejoined the Baron, "some of the Royal and Electoral Houses
have produced men not easily to be banished from a lady's memory--or
her heart."

"Nay," said Arabella, with a careless smile, "my little heart is all
too narrow to take in so great a thing as a prince."

Her companion cast a quick glance around the room to see that no one
was near, and then replied in a low but emphatic tone, "I hope not--I
hope not."

The blood came up into the lady's cheek, and after gazing in his face
for an instant, she cast down her eyes again, and remained silent.
Several of the dishes were removed, now others put upon the table; and
then, as if accidentally, both the landlord and the serving-man
quitted the room.

"How strange are the events of life," said the Baron de Mardyke.

"They are indeed," answered the Lady Arabella, "almost as strange as
man's own heart."

"Here was I," continued her companion, not appearing to heed her
words, "riding on an errand of much importance to visit a fair and
noble lady, whom I should have missed seeing till it was too late, had
it not been for a shower of rain."

"If you mean me, sir," said the fair girl beside him, "you must have
made some mistake in your errand; for I am a being of so little
consequence myself that nothing of importance can have reference to
me."

"You may in a few weeks be of much more," replied the Baron.

"Nay, heaven forbid!" cried Arabella, resuming the gay and jesting
tone which she had laid aside for a moment. "I can conceive no fate
more perverse than that which would make me of any consequence at all.
I never knew a bird that cared, so that his wings were tied, whether
the threads that tied them were golden or hempen. Greatness is a snare
from which one never escapes, once having fallen into it.--But, good
truth, I am curious who you can be, sir," she continued, stopping him
as he was about to speak; "I am shrewd at divining; but yet men take
such disguises now-a-days, a poor woman can hardly discover them. Nay,
tell me not, tell me not! I love to puzzle out a mystery, and I would
fain guess for myself who and what you may be."

"Who think you, madam?" asked the stranger.

"Baron de Mardyke!" said Arabella, thoughtfully; "that may be some
assumed title of a great man who would fain appear less than he
is,--you may be one of those Spanish princes you talk of."

"Or his envoy," answered the other.

"Hush, hush!" cried the lady in the same tone of raillery, "let me
see,--Baron de Mardyke! That, on the contrary, may be a name taken by
some lesser man who wishes to seem greater than he is,--you may be a
Jesuit in disguise, a disciple of Loyola, or Lainez," and she looked
keenly at him as she spoke.

There was a slight contraction of the lips, and a passing shade upon
the brow of the gentleman whom she addressed; but he replied in an
unaltered tone, "You will guess right ere long, madam; for when you
have exhausted conjecture, you will come back to simple truth, and
leave the Baron de Mardyke just what he was before.--But ere we are
interrupted, let me say that I have matter of much importance for your
private ear after this meal be over,--secrets of great moment!"

"Trust them not to me then!" cried the young lady, "for I have a
strange habit of dropping jewels by the way. I never could keep
anything that was precious in my life--'tis but yesterday I lost a
diamond; and as for secrets, I am so conscious of my carelessness,
that I always give them to the next person I meet with, being quite
sure that any one will preserve them better than myself."

The stranger bit his lip; but the host entering the moment after,
stopped him in his reply. When the supper was over, however, he kept
his eyes fixed upon the lady, while the host and the servant were
clearing away all that encumbered the table: and it was evident that
he was waiting impatiently for them to be gone. But just as the
landlord was about to retire, Arabella addressed him in a quiet tone,
saying, "Send my girl Marian hither, mine host; I wish to speak with
her."

The Baron made him a quick and scarcely perceptible sign; and by some
accident the landlord quite forgot to obey the lady's behest, taking
the opportunity of scolding his daughter for something that had gone
amiss, and then aiding the rest of the party who were assembled in the
kitchen to consume the remains of the supper which he had brought out
of the neighbouring room.

In that chamber the Lady Arabella and the Baron de Mardyke, as we must
call him for the time, remained for nearly twenty minutes, while the
host and the Baron's followers talked loud, and passed many a joke and
many a cup of good strong ale round the table. The girl Marian and one
of the Lady Arabella's servants were seated with the rest: but the
other serving-man had remained at the stable tending the horses. At
the end of the time we have mentioned, however, he made his appearance
again; and the voices of the horse-boys of the inn were heard without
the door. Marian started up as soon as she saw him; and the man, who
was a bluff English servant of some forty-five, or fifty years of age,
walked straight up to the chamber where his mistress was, and opening
the door, said aloud, "The horses are waiting, lady!"

The cheek of Lady Arabella Stuart was somewhat flushed and her face
grave; but she instantly resumed her sweet and playful smile, while
her companion exclaimed, "You surely are not going on, in such a night
as this, madam?"

"As surely as I live," replied the lady; "you know, good sir, I could
not plunder you of your lodging as well as your supper; and so I will
even wish you a fair good night, and take my leave, beseeching you to
bear in mind what I have said, as on that score I change not, and it
may be well to be careful. I thank you for your courtesy," she
continued, "though, if I had known one part of my entertainment here,
I should have found shelter elsewhere."

Thus saying, she adjusted her head-gear, while moving across the
kitchen towards the door of the inn; and, taking a piece of gold from
a silken purse which she carried in her bosom, she gave it to the
host, saying, "That's for your fee, my friend; but remember, another
time when I tell you to send my woman to me, do as you are directed."

The host made a thousand apologies, laying the blame upon a bad
memory; and the Lady Arabella, without heeding him, issued forth into
the night with her servants following, the landlady and her daughter
curtseying, and the host holding a lantern snatched up in haste.

In the meantime, the personage who had borne her company at supper,
was surrounded by his three companions, asking him questions in a low,
but rapid voice.

"She is a fool," he replied, "and yet not a fool either,--keen enough
as to what concerns her not, but blind to her own interest. She casts
away a crown," he added, in a lower tone, "as a child does a long-used
plaything."

"Will she betray us?" asked one of his companions.

"I think not," replied the other.

"Think not?" said a third, "we had better make sure of that!" But, at
the same moment, the sound of horses' feet trotting away was heard;
and the landlord and his family came back from the door.



                             CHAPTER III.


The old hall was warm and comfortable; the great, wide, open hearth
displayed some half-dozen logs of blazing wood; and the fitful flame
of the fire, outshining the two candles that stood upon the table,
flickered round the whole room, glancing upon the quaint old carvings
that surrounded the panels, prying into the deep bays of the windows,
and catching here and there upon some well-polished casque,
breastplate, or other piece of ancient armour, which, suspended by
hooks and brackets, ornamented the walls. The ceiling, which was of
old oak, like the wainscot, was lost in the obscurity above; but the
rich mantelpiece was fully seen by the light of the candles near it,
and was the pride of the room and that part of the country. It had
been carved by a famous Flemish artist, and presented by him to good
Sir Harry West for some kindly service rendered during the time of the
Low Country wars. What was the deed that merited the gift we do not,
indeed, know; but it is probable that the oaken sculpture had some
reference to the cause of the sculptor's gratitude, as on either side
of the chimney stood the figure of an armed knight, in full relief,
bearing upon his shoulder a corner of the entablature, on which was
represented, in a smaller size, the history of the good Samaritan.

Before the fire-place, at a convenient distance, stood a round table,
covered with the relics of the evening-meal. Drinking-cups are there,
and flagons, and it would seem that in that squat, flat-sided,
long-necked bottle, there is some precious and much-esteemed liquor,
from the tall glasses, gilt and bedizened, which stand by, and can
never be destined for the conveyance of any unworthy fluid. Between
the table and the fire, so near the former that the elbow could rest
comfortably upon it, sat the good knight the master of the house, and
his young kinsman; and between them, again, and the chimney, lay a
large, shaggy hound, such as would have delighted the soul of a
Landseer, or a Scott, and who may have been a remote connexion of one
of those immortalized by Rubens. Stretched out like a trussed hare,
with his paws before him, and his long muzzle gracefully leaning over
the ankle next to the fire, the good dog seemed to be asleep; and,
perhaps, had his head been in a position to accomplish such a feat, he
might have nodded from time to time; but, nevertheless, he was
evidently only in a state of pleasant drowsiness, for ever and anon he
opened his keen eyes, and gazed into the fire, as if wondering what
that extraordinary element could be, and twice lifted up his head, and
looked in his master's face, to see that all was right, speedily
settling himself down to his doze again.

It is a sweet and pleasant thing for two old, familiar friends to
spend together a long hour after the sun has gone down, and when all
the world is quiet, in a warm room, with a blazing fire, and with the
moderate use of the pure juice of the grape to fill the intervals of
conversation. No haste is upon them, no hurry, no hateful pressure of
importunate business; there they can sit as long as they choose; it
matters not whether they rise the next minute, or three hours hence.
They are free--in short, free from the bondage of worldly affairs, and
can do what they think fit with their little treasure of time. No
liberty is more pleasant than the emancipation, from all the chains,
and shackles, and bars, and bonds of business; and there, when Memory,
sweet Memory, takes us by the hand, and leads us back into the flower
garden of other years, and points out all the blossoming things that
we loved, looking as fresh and beautiful as ever, how sweet are the
sensations, how entrancing would they be, were it not for the subdued
consciousness that it is all a part of the dream that is passing away.

Nor is the pleasure of such intercourse lessened when there exists
some difference in age between the two companions. Youth brings its
eager fancy, its bright expectations, its energetic rashness, to the
mithridate; and Age its sober reason, its bright remembrances, its
calm knowledge, and its tried powers. The party must never extend
beyond two, however; a dog, indeed, you may admit, a friendly,
faithful dog, the image of unbought attachment and unvarying love; but
there must be no one else.

Thus had Sir Harry West and his young friend been passing the last
hour--now turning their thoughts to the days when William Seymour was
a mere boy, and, as the second son of a noble family, had been left
greatly to the care of his maternal relations; now talking of those
days of strange adventure, when, under the guardianship of the good
knight, he had first mounted horse for the battle-field in that
beautiful neighbouring island to which England has been "little more
than kin, and less than kind"--when about half-past nine o'clock,
which was, indeed, half an hour later than Sir Harry West's usual bed
time in the country, the dog, who lay upon the hearth, gave signs of
being awake by raising one ear perpendicularly from his head, without,
however, moving from his place, or lifting his muzzle from his paw.

"He hears some sound without," observed his master, whose eyes had
been fixed contemplative upon him.

"And yet," said William Seymour, who understood that he spoke of the
dog, for he had been looking in the same direction, without any
visible cause for his eyes being turned towards the animal, except
that those of his friend were resting upon it, "and yet the rain is
dropping so hard and heavily that I should suppose no sound from
without but a very loud one, would drown its noise and the crackling
of the fire, for ears that lie so near the blaze as his."

"They are quicker than our own even in youth," replied his friend; "it
is wonderful how dogs will catch the lightest sound, and distinguish
in a moment whether it is one they are accustomed to or not. They are
learned in sounds, these triangular-headed gentry. See! he looks up;
if it were a moonlight night, I should think some of the young
neighbouring vagabonds had come to plunder the rookery or the
dovecot."

As he spoke, the dog gazed in his master's face for a moment, as if
for encouragement, and then gave a short growl.

"What is the matter, Mark'em?" asked the old knight, patting his head;
and instantly the dog sprang forward into one of the bay-windows, with
a loud, angry bark, which was repeated more fiercely still the next
moment, when a thundering heavy blow upon the door of the house
announced that some visitor sought admission.

"Down, Mark'em!--down!" cried Sir Harry West. "On my life, this is a
stormy night for any one to venture out. Those blue-bottles of mine
must not keep the man waiting, whoever he be;" and, advancing to the
door of the room, he called loudly to several of the servants by name.

Before they could come, however, he himself had crossed to the
hall-door, and opened it, saying, "Come in, whoever you are!--What is
it you want, good fellow? I know your face. Whose servant are you?"

"The Lady Arabella's, Sir Harry," replied the man; "but we want help
quickly. Her horse has fallen in this dark night; and, though she says
she is not hurt, yet we all fear it is but to give us comfort."

"Bring lanterns! bring lanterns!" cried Sir Harry, vehemently. "Lakyn!
Matthew! Dick! Here, William Seymour, come with me. Here is that dear,
beautiful girl, with her horse down, and herself hurt. Patience and
mercy! what made her ride out in such a night as this?"

But William Seymour was by this time at the hall-door.

"I will go, I will go!" he exclaimed. "Stay you, Sir Harry. Send down
the lanterns. I will go."

And, without waiting to catch up cloak or hat, he ran out over the
terrace and through the garden, passed the little gate, and hurried on
down the narrow road which kept along the stream. He had not far to
go, however; for about half way between the house and the London road,
he came suddenly upon a group of three human beings and five horses
standing together, with the rain pouring down upon them in as heavy a
stream as our somewhat weeping and uncertain skies ever let flow upon
a hapless traveller.

"Are you hurt?--are you hurt?" exclaimed the young gentleman,
addressing the taller of the two women who formed parts of the group.

"No, indeed," replied the lady; "very little, if at all. I know your
voice, sir, though I see you are not my old friend, Sir Harry West.
Good heaven! can it be Mr. Seymour?"

"The same, lady, and ever the humblest of your servants," replied the
young gentleman. "Pray, let me assist you to the house. There are
people coming with lanterns directly. Let me support you."

Arabella gave him her hand without any sign of unwillingness; and he
led her on with care, asking again, in a low voice, as soon as they
were some ten or twenty steps from her attendants, "Are you hurt?"

The question was put in one of those tones that give peculiar value
and meaning to words, otherwise of no import,--those tones that may be
called a second language, an universal tongue, in which all the
comments of the heart are written upon the colder and more abstruse
dialect in which we carry on our conversation with the ordinary world.
He had asked her before the same question, and received an answer.
What was it, then, he now said? A vast deal more, though without using
any other than the words he had first employed. He told her, then,
with the thrilling anxiety of deep interest, that he feared she was
more hurt than she would allow; that he was alarmed, grieved, pained
by what had happened; that he was rejoiced to see her again; that the
lightest injury to her was of deep importance to him. Yes, although he
only used those few words, that brief question, like Lord Burleigh's
famous shake of the head, meant all this. Luckily, it so happens that
there is no instruction required to learn the language of which we
speak; the key to the cipher is in the hearts of every one, but more
especially in the breast of woman; and Arabella, whatever were her own
feelings, easily translated the tone of William Seymour into express
terms. Not that he had ever said one word to her which the most
distant acquaintance might not justify; not that one phrase had ever
passed between them which the ear of the whole world might not have
heard, but he had often spoken as he now spoke, and the tones had
often made her heart thrill. She was, however, accustomed to inspire
interest and excite admiration; she could not but know it; and, though
in many cases she cared little about it, perhaps William Seymour's was
not the instance in which she valued it the least.

Arabella Stuart fancied herself in no degree ambitious. She had seen
princes at her feet, without estimating them in the least by the
crowns they offered, or the territories they possessed. She had
willingly seen the proposals of some of the highest men in Europe
rejected by those who ruled her fate; and yet she was perhaps the most
ambitious person that it is possible to conceive; for she sought to
obtain that which is the most difficult for any human being to
gain--especially of royal blood. The object of her ambition was
happiness! that glorious crown which all the jewels of the world
cannot enrich, which, studded with the diamonds of the heart, can
receive no additional lustre from such paltry things as power, or
wealth, or station.

In reply, she assured her companion that she was not hurt, and in her
tone she thanked him much more than by mere words. She even let him
know in some degree that she understood the interest he felt towards
her, and was grateful to him for it.

Not much time, however, was allowed them for conversation of any kind;
for ere they had proceeded a hundred yards they were met by Sir Harry
West, with his servants bearing lanterns; and the good knight, with
William Seymour, accompanied her back to the house, while the
attendants went on to give assistance to the party left behind.

The same question which she had already answered, was of course
addressed to Arabella by her old friend, and he too showed almost as
deep an interest as his companion had displayed, though it was of a
different sort. Satisfied on that head, he put a number of other
inquiries to her: whence she last came--whither she was going--how she
happened to be riding forth at such a time of night, especially as it
had been raining hard for several hours.

"Nay, nay, Sir Harry," cried the lady, gaily, "this is a catechism,
and I will not answer you on all these heads now. You shall give me
lodging in your castle for the night, if you be a gallant gentleman
and true; and when I have once more cast off my wet garments, I will
come and reply to all interrogatories as faithfully and discreetly as
if I were before the Star Chamber."

"So shall it be, dear lady; so shall it be," replied Sir Harry West.
"My good old housekeeper, Dame Cicely, has been called out of the
still-room to tend upon you; and, thanks to this young gentleman's
arrival this afternoon, the best chamber is ready prepared for your
reception."

The lady, of course, said something apologetic for the trouble that
she gave. "She was sorry, too," she said, "to deprive Mr. Seymour of
his chamber." But the young gentleman assured her that he would sleep
more sweetly for knowing that she was lodged in safety and in comfort;
and Sir Harry answered laughingly, that he had taught the boy, in
years long past, to put up with hard beds and scanty lodging.

Thus talking, they soon reached the house, where a good matronly old
woman, in a long stiff bodice, serge petticoat, and flowered gown,
whose years would have had to roll back again some way to reach the
age of sixty, accompanied by a handmaiden, who prided herself upon
being at least five years younger than Dame Cicely, were waiting in
the hall to give whatever help and tendance might be needed by the
Lady Arabella. To their hands her two male companions consigned her,
and then returned into the chamber where they had been passing the
evening, when their conversation had been interrupted by the events
which we have described. Without sitting down, both took their places
before the fire again; and William Seymour brushed the wet with his
hand from the curls of his hair, murmuring to himself,

"I trust she will not suffer from this."

"It is, indeed, a terrible night," said his old friend, "for such
frail creatures as womankind to be out. There is nothing, William,
that I thank God for more, amongst all the blessings he has showered
upon me, than for not making me a woman."

"And yet, my dear sir," replied William Seymour, "you were always a
most devoted admirer and humble servant of the fair."

"At a respectful distance, William, at a respectful distance," said
the old knight, smiling. "When I was of your age, it is true, I had
some impulses of matrimony upon me, which, like other diseases of
children, by a strong constitution and good management, I got over
easily."

"Nay," cried William Seymour, "surely you do not call love a disease."

"Just as much the disease of youth," answered Sir Harry, with
that slight touch of sarcasm in his look which we have already
noticed--"just as much a disease of youth as measles, or chin-cough,
or mumps amongst children, or the distemper amongst dogs. True, it
sometimes attacks us in mature age, and even in later life; but the
cases are rare, and then it goes hard with the patient. Take care of
thyself, my dear boy. Thou art just about the age to catch it; but if
ever you do, come to me, and I will be your physician. Ha! Lakyn.
Bring them in, bring them in! Show that pretty maiden to her
mistress's chamber. Is the horse much hurt?"

"Both his knees as full of holes as a beggar's coat, Sir Harry,"
replied the old man.

"That is bad, that is bad," said Sir Harry West. "Have them well
bathed with hot water, Lakyn; then take a gill of Bordeaux wine, an
ounce of salt, and a little sweet oil to anoint them with."

"I know, I know, Sir Harry," answered the man. "'Tis a marvellous
receipt; but this horse is a mighty deal worse than the grey gelding."

Thus saying he withdrew, taking with him to the buttery the two
servants of the Lady Arabella, with the hospitable design of
comforting each with a cup of humming ale; and the conversation was
renewed between Sir Harry West and his young friend, much in the same
strain as before, till the lady herself made her appearance in the old
hall.

She was somewhat paler than usual, and her step had less of its
buoyant lightness, as she was led by her good host with ceremonious
respect to a chair by the fire. She owned, too, that she felt somewhat
bruised with her fall, and expressed her determination soon to retire
to rest.

"I am afraid, Sir Harry," she said, "that I cannot say my catechism
to-night; but, to satisfy you on one head before I go, I will tell you
the cause of my journey. The king, you know, is already on his way
from Scotland, and has crossed the border, I understand, some days.
'Twas only yesterday, however, that my aunt of Shrewsbury gave me
notice that such was the case, and urged me strongly, by her letters,
to hasten to meet his majesty, my royal cousin, and offer him my loyal
duty. As she knew I was but poorly attended, she told me that some ten
of her own people should meet me at Stamford, if I would come thither
with all speed. Thus, you see, I set out but with two men and my girl,
Marian; and, as the day was fine, I hoped to have a moonlight ride for
an hour or two during the night."

"I fear, dear lady," answered the knight, "that the good Countess has
led you to a needless, as well as unlucky, journey. She does not seem
to know that the king has issued a proclamation, forbidding all
persons resort to the court during its progress towards London. It
were wise of you, ere you proceed, to send a messenger to his majesty,
asking permission to wait upon him."

"Nay," exclaimed the Lady Arabella, "surely he will not refuse to
receive his poor kinswoman?"

"Dear lady," replied her old counsellor, "you surely should know
something of royal personages; and yet, methinks, you are ignorant of
how small a thing with them may turn love into disliking. A light word
spoken, an act of deference forgotten, the slightest disobedience,
even when it springs from affection, may deprive one of favour, and
never be forgiven. No after devotion, no penitence will wipe away the
impression; and dark looks and a cloudy brow, whenever you appear,
will be all that you can expect for life."

"Oh!" cried Arabella, "how differently would I act if I were a queen!
Love should to me stand in place of duty, truth should well supply
respect, honour should be the courtesy that I would prize, and merit
have its reward, not fawning. I would be bountiful,--not only in
deeds, but in words and looks,--would break no promise that I made,
and never inflict upon hope the agony of delay. When I refused, it
should be with gentleness; when I gave, it should be at once. I should
be loath to punish, punishing my own heart at the same time. I would
be careful of my lightest word, knowing that no words are light upon a
monarch's lips."

"I am sure you would," exclaimed William Seymour, in a tone that made
Arabella raise her eyes to his face, with a slight increase of colour
in her cheek.

But good Sir Harry West did not seem to enter into the enthusiasm of
his young friend.

"You would be a very sweet lady, then," he said; "but perhaps not a
good queen. Royalty is a rough thing, lady; it has to deal with hard
matters, and must be somewhat hard itself. True, sovereigns often
think that they are exempt from the milder duties of mankind, and in
that are wrong; for they require more qualities than other men, not
less. They should want no kindly affections of the heart, but have the
greater strength to rule them, from the greater need. The acts of
ordinary men affect but a narrow circle; the acts of sovereigns spread
round to every human being throughout their whole dominions. An
individual may make any sacrifice he pleases of that which is his own
property, without injuring any one; a monarch is the property of his
people, and can make no sacrifice without affecting all. Stern facts,
lady, stern facts; but no less true than stern."

"Thank God I am not a queen!" said Arabella, after a moment's pause.
"But, to return," she continued; "what would you have me do, Sir
Harry, in this business with the king? He may take offence if I go not
forward to meet him, and think me wanting in duty; and, as you say, if
I do approach the court, after the proclamation, I may be held as
disobedient. What shall I do? I will be guided by your advice."

"Stay here, dear lady," replied Sir Harry West, "and send a messenger
to ask permission of the king. You will thus show both obedience and
duty. Here is our young friend, William Seymour, doubtless he will
willingly perform your behest, and be back in a day or two."

William Seymour, however, did not look so well satisfied as the old
knight expected; and Arabella Stuart paused for a few moments without
reply, as if not quite willing to take advantage at once of the
proposal.

"I could scarcely venture to ask Mr. Seymour," she said, at length,
raising her soft eyes to his face; "and perhaps he may not be inclined
to go."

William Seymour could not find in his heart so far to belie his own
feelings as to say he was willing, and yet he dared not explain what
those feelings were. Perhaps Arabella was not willing to send him; but
of that we know nothing, although, if she was very anxious that he
should be her messenger, she did not quite display a woman's skill in
carrying her point. On the contrary, indeed, she was the first to
furnish him with a fair excuse for declining the commission.

"On second thoughts," she continued, after the young gentleman had
made a somewhat hesitating tender of his services,--"on second
thoughts, I must not even ask Mr. Seymour; for, if disobedience to the
proclamation might bring the king's anger upon me, the same act would,
of course, affect him in the like manner. There is the royal blood,"
she added, with a smile, "flowing in his veins as well as mine; and,
of course, our sovereign's indignation would fall more heavily upon a
man than upon a poor girl like me."

"True," said the old man, "true; I had forgotten that; you must send
some inferior person, lady. If you will write a letter to his majesty
to-night, I will despatch it by a messenger to-morrow, who shall put
into the hands of Sir Robert Cecil, to be laid before the King."

"I will do it at once," replied Arabella, "and then hie me to my bed;
for, to speak truth, I am somewhat weary with my journey, with the
rain, and with my fall."

The letter was accordingly written in all due form, beseeching the
king to suffer his poor cousin to pay her duty to him, by meeting him
on the road to London; and on the following morning, before Arabella
had left her bed, a trusty messenger was bearing it towards the north.

Whether the fair writer slept well that night matters not to our
history; William Seymour scarcely closed an eye, and for two long
hours after he had sought his chamber, he sat almost in the same
attitude, with his head resting on his hand, in deep thought. As his
meditation ended, he murmured a few words to himself. "Now or never,"
he said. "Oh! golden opportunity! I will not suffer doubt or dismay to
snatch thee from me."



                             CHAPTER IV.


Although duty and propriety, and a number of other considerations,
should lead us to follow the messenger of Sir Harry West to the busy
and bustling scene which was taking place at Newark-upon-Trent, on the
occasion of King James's entrance into that very respectable city,
yet, yielding to temptation like other men, we feel ourselves so well
pleased in the company of Arabella Stuart and William Seymour in the
old knight's house, that we cannot resist our inclination to remain a
little longer with them, and to shun the noise and hurry of the court.

Oh, how sweetly, when we think of all that noise and hurry, do the
calm and tranquil scenes of the country come upon the heart!--the
sunshine slumbering upon the green field, the waving branches of the
old trees, the free and dancing brightness of the rapid stream, the
whispering of the soft-breathed wind, the singing of the joyous birds,
how sweet they all fall upon the eye and ear--ay, even the cawing of
the glossy rooks amongst the tall elms, heard through the open
casement in which Seymour and Arabella now stand together, gazing out
upon the bright aspect of the valley, as it glistens in the morning
sunshine after the heavy rains of night.

The mild air of the May morning is wooing her soft cheek, the tender
graces of the spring are saluting her bright eye, the music of the
woodland songsters is thrilling on her ear, the harmony of all is
sinking into her heart.

They are alone together; the old knight in his justice room, busy in
reconciling differences, and in spreading peace, has left them to
themselves; there is no ear to listen but that of nature; no eye to
mark the emotions of their bosoms but His who made them to feel and to
enjoy. Have a care, have a care, you two young and inexperienced
beings! Have a care of the gulf that is before you, and stand no
longer on the giddy brink! Oh, perilous hour! Why could it not be
averted? Why could the words spoken never be blotted out from the
record of things done? But it is all in vain to wish, or to regret.
Fate was before them, and hand in hand they went upon the way that led
them to destruction.

There had been a long, silent pause, after some words of common
courtesy; a pause such as takes place when people feel and know that
they are upon the eve of things which may affect their whole future
life. Arabella was anxious to say something upon matters totally
indifferent to them both; but, busy with deeper thoughts, could find
no such indifferent topic. Seymour, on the contrary, longed to talk of
thoughts and feelings which had rested in his heart unchanged since
last he saw her, but hesitated how to begin, lest the very first word
should alarm her.

At length, however, Arabella spoke, for she felt that such long
silence might seem to have more meaning than any words.

"It is nearly two years, I think," she said, "since you went to
Flanders?"

"Fully," he replied; "and a long, dull time it has been."

"Nay," answered the lady, "I think that, were I a young man, nothing
I should like so much as seeing foreign lands and mingling with
strange people. There must be a great delight in watching all their
habits, and in the adventures one meets with amongst them."

"When the heart is at ease," replied William Seymour; "but mine was
not so."

"Indeed!" said Arabella, fixing her eyes upon him. "I should have
thought no heart more light."

"Truly, then, you have never seen it," rejoined the young gentleman,
"for it is often heavy enough."

"I grieve to hear it," replied the lady, with a look of interest; and
then in a gayer tone she added, with that attraction towards dangerous
subjects which is to woman as the light to the moth, "Come, what is it
weighs it down? Make me your father confessor. Woman's wit will often
find a way to attain that which man's wisdom fails to reach."

"Well then, I will," said William Seymour. "I could not have a fairer
confessor, nor one who has more right to assign the penance for my
sins. Lady, my heart is heavy, from an hereditary disease, which has
caused much mischief and much grief amongst my race already. You may
probably have heard of it."

"Nay, never," answered Arabella, with real astonishment. "I always
thought the very name of Seymour implied health and strength, and long
life.--What is this sad malady?"

"That of loving above our station," replied William Seymour; and
instantly her face became deadly pale, her frame trembled, and her
eyes sought the ground.

He proceeded, however. "This sad ambition," he said, "cost my
grandfather nine years' imprisonment, and well nigh his head; but he,
as you well know, little cared or sorrowed for what he had suffered,
though grieved deeply for the sweet lady on whom their mutual love had
brought so severe a punishment."

"And she,"--replied Arabella, looking up, with the colour mounting in
her cheek,--"and she grieved for him, not for herself. The Greys were
an unfortunate race, however. How strange is the will of God, that of
two so beautiful and excellent, Jane should perish on the scaffold,
and Catherine waste her best days in prison! Yet methinks they must
have been both happy even in their misfortunes, both suffering for
those they loved."

"'Twas a sad trial and test of affection," said William Seymour.

"Yet one that any woman would take who truly loves," replied Arabella.

"Ay, that is the point," he answered, looking down. "Such love may, to
her who feels it, compensate for all suffering, and, to him who
possesses it, repay the sacrifice of all, even of life itself. But,
what must be the fate, lady, of one who loves as deeply as man can
love, yet sees the object far above his reach, without one cheering
hope to lead him on, one cause to think the passion in his own heart
has awakened any return in the being, for whom he could cast away his
life, as a gambler does his coin?"

"It must be sad, indeed," said Arabella, in a low and hesitating
tone,--"sad, indeed," she repeated. "But yet, perhaps--" and there she
paused, leaving the sentence incomplete, while her colour varied like
the morning sky as the sun rises in the east.

"Yet such is my fate," rejoined her companion; "such has been the
weight upon my heart, which has crushed its energies, quelled its
hopes, made the gay scenes of other lands all dull and empty, and even
in the field deprived my arm of one-half its vigour. Oh! had the light
of happy love been but before me, what deeds would I have done, what
things accomplished--Arabella," he continued, taking her hand, and
gazing in her face--"Arabella?"

She did not withdraw it; but she turned away her head, and with the
fair fingers of the other hand chased away a bright drop from her dark
eyelashes.

It was enough; his arm stole round her slight waist. She did not move.
His lips pressed her soft cheek. A gasping sob was her only reply.
"Arabella, Arabella! speak to me!" he said; "leave me not in doubt and
misery!"

One moment more she remained still and silent; then, starting from his
arms, she brushed her hair back from her forehead, with a sad and
bewildered look, exclaiming, "Oh, Seymour, spare me!--This takes me by
surprise--this is unkind;--think--think of all the risk, the danger,
the sorrow----"

"I have thought, beloved," he replied, "through many a long and weary
night, through many a heavy and irksome day. I have paused, and
pondered, and doubted, and trembled, and accused myself of base
selfishness, and asked if I could bring danger, and perhaps
unhappiness, on her whom I love far, far before myself. Arabella, I
have sought you not. I would never have sought you! But we have met;
and in your presence, I am a poor, weak, irresolute creature,
powerless against the mastery of the passion in my heart. Rebuke,
revile, contemn, tread upon me, if you will; I am at your feet, to do
with as it pleases you."

She shook her head with a sorrowful smile, murmuring, "It is for you I
fear!" But, then, suddenly raising her eyes towards heaven, while her
lips moved for a moment, she added, "No, Seymour, no; I will not
plunge you in misery or danger. Your bright career shall not be cut
off or stayed by me. No, no; it is better not to speak or think of
such thing. My life may pass, cold and cheerless, in the hard bonds of
a fate above my wishes; but you must cast off such feelings.--You must
forget me, and in the end----"

"Forget you, Arabella?" he interrupted,--"forget you? You little know
the man who loves you. Whether you be mine or another's, I will
remember you till life's latest hour;" and he kept his word.

"I will never be another's," replied Arabella. "Fear not that,
Seymour. Happily, all the interests, and all the jealousies of
whatever monarch may sit upon the throne of this realm, are certain to
combine in withholding my hand from any one. I have no sufficient
dower to make me worthy of the suit of princes; the only attraction in
their eyes might be some very distant and unreasonable claim to a
crown I covet not; and I shall find it no difficult task to persuade
the King to refuse this poor person to any one to whom it might convey
a dangerous, though merely contingent right. I will live on," she
continued, resuming her lighter tone--though there was ever a certain
degree of melancholy ran through her gayest moods,--"I will live on in
single freedom, with a heart, perhaps, not unsusceptible of affection,
had fate blessed me with a humble station, but one which will never
load itself with the guilt of bringing sorrow and destruction upon the
head of another.--Nay, Seymour, nay, say no more! I esteem you highly,
regard you much--perhaps if out of all the world----But let that pass!
Why should I make you share regrets I myself may feel? It is in vain,
it is impossible; so you must utter no farther words upon this matter,
if you would have my company, for I must hear no more.--Come, let us
walk out and talk of other things. We will go watch the rivulet that
dances along, like the course of a happy life, sparkling as it goes,
to find repose, at length, in the bosom of that vast, immeasurable
ocean, where all streams end.--Nay, not a word more, if you love me!"

"I do! I do!" cried William Seymour, pressing his eager and burning
lips upon her hand,--"I do! I do, Arabella! better than anything else
on earth."

"Well, then, peace!" she said, "peace! for your sake and for mine; for
nothing is so hopeless on earth as the love we feel."

_We feel!_ The confession was made! the words were spoken; and, though
Seymour feared to urge her farther then, they sunk into his heart, a
sweet solace for the years to come.

Poor Arabella Stuart! If she thought, by the walk along that gentle
stream, through those soft fields, amidst the old trees waving over
head, listening to the voices of the birds, feeling the tender air of
spring, talking over a thousand subjects, in which the ever-present
impression of their love was only repressed in words to find utterance
in vague and fanciful allusions,--if she thought by such means to cure
her lover or herself of the disastrous passion which he had so boldly,
she so timidly, acknowledged, alas! she was very, very much mistaken.
Like the spirit of the Universal Deity of the Pagans, their love was
all around them in everything they saw, or heard, or felt, in every
word they uttered, unseen, but powerful, throughout the whole
creation.

Yet she thought she was seeking safety; and her spirits rose in the
unconsciousness of danger, and the certainty of present happiness.
Thus, when, some time after, they were joined by the master of the
mansion, there was nothing whatsoever in her manner to show that she
had been agitated or alarmed; and when they returned to the early
dinner of those days, her heart seemed so light, that one might have
thought not a drop of royal blood was running in her veins.

"You are very gay," said William Seymour, in a tone almost
reproachful, as they entered the hall.

"So gay," she answered, "that I could sit down and sing;--but I fancy
cold Sir Harry West," she continued, turning playfully to the old
knight, "whose heart no fair lady could ever bring into tune with her
own, has not an instrument of music in all his house--no virginals, no
lute?"

"Nay," replied the old knight, "you do me great injustice, fairest
lady. I have all my life been the devoted servant of bright eyes. 'Tis
but that I have loved them all so well, I never could be such a
niggard of my heart as to bind myself to one; and, as to instruments
of music--that sweetest of all the many modes of poetry--though
virginals, God bless the mark! with their dull tinkling, I have none,
yet I possess a lute in my own chamber, such as all the rest of
England cannot boast, framed with great skill in Venice, by the famous
Mallesini, who taught me how to use it, too, when I was in the City of
the Sea, and used to serenade all the Venetian dames."

"All?" exclaimed Arabella, shaking her finger at him. "Fie upon such
democracy in love! In that, at least, I would be a monarch, and reign
alone, or not at all. But, pray send for this rare instrument, Sir
Harry; I would fain try how it will sound under my weak fingers."

"Add but your voice, and the music will be sweet enough," said William
Seymour, while the old knight went himself to bring the lute. But
Arabella replied not; and a shade of deep sadness passed across her
fair face for a moment.

"He is tuning it," she said, the instant after, bending her ear to
listen to some sounds which came from a neighbouring chamber. "He is a
kind and excellent man." When Sir Harry re-entered the room, she took
the lute, and after running her hand for a moment over the strings,
sang one of those little ballads which perhaps obtained for her a
place in Evelyn's list of fair poets.


                                SONG.

         "Who is the boy comes stealing here,
            With looks demure and mild?
          Keep off! keep off! Let him not near!
            There's malice in that child.

         "Yet, see, he plays amidst the flowers,
            As innocent as they;
          His smile as bright as summer hours,
            His eyes as soft as May.

         "Beauty and Grace his vestments are;
            To sport seems all his joy.
          Gaze if thou wilt, but keep him far,
            There's danger in the boy.

         "How various are his gladsome smiles,
            His every look is bright;
          Sure there can be no wicked wiles
            Within that thing of light!

         "Lo, he holds out a flower to me,
            A rosebud like a gem!
          Keep him afar! Dost thou not see
            The thorns upon the stem?

         "Vain was the warning given; the maid
            Clasped to her heart the boy;
          But could not pluck him thence. He stayed,
            And stayed but to destroy.

         "Sweet Love, let others be beguiled,
            Thy treacherous arts I fear,
          Keep afar off, thou dangerous child!
            Thou shalt not come too near!"


She ended, and turned a gay look upon Sir Harry West, saying, "That is
your history, noble friend, is it not?" and then, ere he could answer,
fell into a deep fit of thought, which gave to William Seymour the
assurance, and it was a sweet one, that her heart was not so free as
she would fain have made it appear. The rest of the day went by in
varied and pleasant conversation, though over the mind of William
Seymour and the Lady Arabella deep fits of thought, not unmingled with
anxiety, came shadowy from time to time, like the clouds of an
autumnal sky. Sir Harry West quitted them no more that day; and
Seymour began to imagine that he had some suspicion of all that was
passing in their hearts. But on the following day, again, they were
once more left alone together for some hours; another and another day
succeeded; and words were spoken that nothing could recal.



                              CHAPTER V.


Neither good soldier nor good man was ever without love for his horse,
if he had one; and the reader may have already divined, from certain
words let fall by good Sir Harry West, that he was peculiarly careful
and attentive to the four-hoofed creatures under his care. Every man
on earth, probably, has his particular point of coxcombry, and Sir
Harry West was not without his. It showed itself in his garden and his
bowling green, in his old hall and in his old wine. In a slight degree
it was apparent in the studious simplicity of his dress; but it was
more evident than anywhere else in his stable, where six as fine
horses as England could produce, two of them being old chargers who
had borne him in battle, had as much care bestowed on their toilet and
their meals as ever court-lady and reverend alderman.

Mounted on one of the stoutest of these well-fed animals, Matthew
Lakyn, an old soldier, and an old servant, sped on towards the fair
town of Newark-upon-Trent, intrusted by the knight, as his most
confidential attendant, to carry the letter of the Lady Arabella to
the Court of King James, which was then on its progress from the land
of the monarch's birth towards the capital of his new kingdom. As
usual in those days, the good old man bore upon his arm a badge to
distinguish the family to which he belonged, representing, to use
heraldic terms, on a field, argent, a fesse dancettée, sable. A
buckler was on his shoulder, a stout sword by his side; and although,
as we have said, he was not young, yet he was hale and hearty, and
looked well capable of dealing a blow or biding a buffet.

His first day's journey went by quietly enough. For ten miles of his
road he only saw one person whom he did not know, and that was a
stout, dark-browed horseman, who passed him within five minutes after
he had left his master's gate. They exchanged a word of salutation on
the road, a courteous custom of those days, which, with many another,
has gone by in our more civilized times; and then the stranger rode
on, while old Lakyn pursued his course more slowly.

Towards three o'clock on the evening of the second day, the good
knight's messenger turned into a small village-house of entertainment,
in order to give his horse some food, and apply some of the good
things of this life to his own support. The room which Lakyn entered,
after seeing to his beast's accommodation, was not exactly like that
in which we first introduced the reader to the Lady Arabella Stuart;
but it was a small parlour, approached by two descending steps from
the road side; and this he found tenanted by two men, sitting on
either side of a small table, with a stoup of wine between them, and
their heads close together, in earnest conversation.

One of these men we shall not describe, having done so on a former
occasion, when he gave himself the name of Baron de Mardyke. The other
was one of the personages who were with him at that time, whom he had
then called his servants, and whom we did not honour with any
particular remark. We must now, however, be more particular, and state
that he was a tall, thin, black-bearded man, close-shaved, except a
small mustachio, and a tuft of hair upon the chin, neither of which
seemed to be the growth of many months. His dress, which was plain,
consisted entirely of black and grey; but he wore sword and dagger,
though there was a slouch in the shoulders, and an awkward
disjointedness about the limbs, which spoke of no long military
training. Both he and his companion were booted and spurred as if for
a journey; and the moment that Lakyn entered the room they ceased
their conversation abruptly, and looked round, as if not well pleased
with his presence. The old man, however, was in no way disturbed by
theirs; but, seating himself at another table, he stretched out his
limbs, to rest them more conveniently, and waited patiently till the
flagon was brought him. The strangers, in the meantime, sipped their
wine together, and talked of the weather, of the appearance of the
crops, and various other things, which were somewhat too evidently
distant from their thoughts.

This had gone on some quarter of an hour, when suddenly the door of
the room was again thrown open, and in strode the dark-browed horseman
who had passed the old servant on the road. He cast a glance round the
chamber as he entered, and his eye rested upon Lakyn for an instant;
after which he passed on to the table where the other two were seated,
and, bending over it, spoke with them for a few minutes in a low tone.

Sir Harry West's good servant was an old soldier, as we have said,
and had many of the qualities of his class. He recognised his
fellow-traveller immediately; but, seeing either that the other did
not remember him, or affected not to do so, he gave not the slightest
indication of having himself a better memory. He applied himself, on
the contrary, diligently to his ale; and, though it must be confessed
that he listened with all his ears, from a curious sort of mistrust or
dislike which he felt towards the whole party, yet he heard nothing
but the last words of their conversation, which were, "Find out!"

The moment these two monosyllables were pronounced by the Baron de
Mardyke, the last-comer quitted the room. After being absent for about
five minutes, he returned, and again spoke to the other two in as low
a voice as before. Matthew Lakyn, however, thought that he caught the
words, "Going on immediately;" and he said to himself, "If they are
talking of me, they speak the truth. Neither shall I lose any time
upon the road."

Thus thinking, he rose, quitted the room, paid his score, and, having
tightened his horse's girths, and replaced the bit in his mouth, he
rode on upon his way, at a more rapid pace than he had heretofore
employed during his journey. He was now just entering Rutlandshire;
and in those days a great quantity of common land, waste and dreary
enough, lay between Stamford and Grantham, especially about Witham,
where a large extent of dreary ground, some four miles across,
according to the course of the high road, and spreading to five or six
miles on either hand, presented not a single house, cottage, or hut,
as far as the eye could reach. After riding on for about an hour and a
half, Lakyn saw this wide heath extending before him, with nothing to
relieve its bare monotony but a clump of tall trees, about two miles
in advance.

Now, he was anything but a man of a faint heart; but still so many
charges had been given him regarding the letter which he bore, that he
had conceived that document to be of much greater importance than it
really was; and, as the bearer thereof, he had risen to considerable
importance in his own eyes. Those were somewhat lawless times, it must
be remembered, when, notwithstanding the wisdom with which Elizabeth
had ruled, the comparative thinness of the population, and the general
state of society, left many opportunities for violent acts, of which
there were not wanting persons to take advantage. Why or wherefore
good Matthew Lakyn had taken a strong dislike to the party he had just
left, we shall not attempt to explain to the reader, as, in truth, the
good man could not explain it to himself; but certainly he had thought
of them more than once as he rode along the highway; and, when he
reached the edge of the common which we have mentioned, he turned in
the saddle and gave a look behind him.

As he had been slightly ascending for some time, his view comprised
nearly a mile of the road, and at about half that distance he
perceived two horsemen following him at a very rapid rate.
Recollecting a warning of his master, in times of old, to be always
prepared for whatever might happen, the old man assured himself that
his sword played easily in the sheath, and then spurred on, disdaining
to quicken his pace to any great degree, but still keeping his horse
at his very quickest trot, in the hopes of coming near some house
before he was overtaken. Those who followed, however, whether out of
sport or any more serious intention, did not spare the speed or wind
of their beasts; and the moment they came upon the common ground, they
quitted the sandy road for the turf at the side, and put their horses
into a gallop. This pace soon brought them to the side of Sir Harry
West's good servant, where they seemed inclined to pull up, giving him
time to recognise the dark-browed gentleman whom he had twice before
met with, and the tall, thin, ungainly man whom he had seen in the
inn. The former now thought fit to give him a nod of recognition; and
Lakyn, whose wit was upon the stretch, exclaimed, with a laugh,

"Ah! good evening, sir. If you are riding races, my masters, I'll beat
you across the common for a stoup of wine;" and, without waiting for a
reply, he struck his spurs into his good horse's sides, and was soon
several lengths ahead. The others spurred after for some way, but did
not succeed in catching him; and he was still going at the same rapid
rate, when he approached the clump of oaks which we have already
mentioned. There, however, he drew in his rein suddenly on the little
knoll from which trees sprang, and which was covered with dry green
turf. To his very great comfort and satisfaction, he had perceived as
he approached a large party of men and women, in gay attire, seated
with baskets and panniers in the shade, apparently resting their
horses and asses--for several of both were there--and at the same time
indulging their own appetites, at the expense of sundry pasties and
cold joints of meat.

"Hallo!" cried one of the travellers, as the old servant approached,
"are you riding for your life, or has your horse run away with you?"

"Neither, neither," cried Lakyn; "'tis but a race for a stoup of wine
with those two gentlemen behind;" and with some difficulty he kept his
horse from dashing forward, determined, now that he had met with
company, not to lose sight of it again if he could help it.

"Why, you seem mighty happy, ladies and gentlemen," he continued. "May
I ask which way your steps are bent?"

"We are going to meet the king as he comes from Newark," said a
jolly-looking man. "We have got an address and petition from the town
of Oakham, drawn up by our good clerk."

"Then, by your leave," cried Lakyn, springing to the ground, "I will
go on with you. 'Tis not good riding alone in such days as these."

"Alone!" exclaimed the other. "Why, you have a queer notion of
solitude, having two companions with you."

"One may have companions that are not comrades," answered Lakyn; "and,
to say sooth, these are no friends of mine."

"Why, how now!" cried the black-browed man, riding up at this moment,
about fifty yards in advance of his fellow-traveller; "why, how now,
master serving-man, you have soon come to an end of your race. We
shall be at the other side of the common first, and make you pay your
losings."

"Ride on, then," said Lakyn, in a jeering tone. "With two such jades
as yours I don't fear you. I'll give you a start half-way to the other
side, and beat you, notwithstanding."

The man turned a grim look of a somewhat menacing character upon him,
and replied, "We will make you pay, if you lose, depend upon it."

"No fear, no fear," answered Lakyn; "ride on, and spare your horses'
wind till I come up with you. I'll make you use whip and spur before I
have done with you."

As he spoke, the other stranger joined them; but he took no part in
the conversation, only saying to his companion, "Come on, Slingsby,
come on!" and forward they rode together.

"Why, you will lose your stoup of wine," said the jolly traveller
under the trees, addressing Lakyn, while the others proceeded on their
way.

"Small payment for good deliverance," rejoined the serving-man. "I
love not the looks of those two gentlemen; and, as I am going on an
errand from good Sir Harry West, my master, to his highness the king,
I must risk nothing till it is accomplished.

"What, Sir Harry West, of Bourne?" cried a grave-looking gentleman in
ruff. "If you be one of his people, right gladly will we have you in
our company; for, in the question of the meadow at Merton, he decided
in favour of Oakham, like a worthy good gentleman, as he is."

"Those are his arms, I think," said Matthew Lakyn, pointing with pride
to the badge upon his sleeve.

"To be sure! to be sure!" replied the grave personage, putting a pair
of large horn spectacles upon the bridge of his nose. "Polly, my dear,
look, those are Sir Harry West's arms. Don't you remember how he said
to me, 'Thou art a very sedate and reverend person, Master Smallit,
and have given your evidence in a devout and proper manner?'"

The girl confirmed her father's recollection; and the good townspeople
of Oakham seemed to think that they could not show too much civility
and attention to the servant of Sir Harry West. They were rather slow,
it is true, in their motions; but, nevertheless, Matthew Lakyn was
willing to put up with a little tardiness, for the sake of the
security their company afforded, and, accordingly, he not only
proceeded in their company to Grantham that night, but begged leave to
make one of the party to Newark the next day. His patience was
somewhat tried, it is true, in the morning, by the very different
proceedings of the good people of Oakham, from the military rapidity
and precision which usually attended his master's journeys when they
took place. The hour appointed for setting out was in itself somewhat
late, being no earlier than nine; but Mrs. Polty, the wife of one of
the principal personages in the company, had a queasy stomach, and
could not travel till she had broken her fast. The morning-meal took
more time than had been expected, and half an hour was spent in
settling the landlord's score; then it was discovered that one of the
horses had a shoe loose; and then half the baskets and panniers were
still unpacked. Thus, what between eating, and drinking, and scolding,
and grumbling, and shoeing the horse, and packing the panniers, and
loading the asses, and mounting the steeds, the hand of Grantham dial
pointed to twenty minutes past eleven; and then ten minutes more were
spent in bidding good-bye to the host and hostess of the inn, and
laughing and tittering at the parting jests.

The fourteen or fifteen miles which lay between Grantham and Newark
occupied much more time than was required even by the slow pace at
which they marched, for numerous parties were on the road, either
coming or going to the good town upon Trent, where the king had
arrived during the preceding morning, and with each person who would
stop to indulge them, the good townsfolk of Oakham paused to gossip,
making manifold inquiries as to the court, and the king's appearance
and demeanour; on all of which points they received the same sort of
satisfactory information which is usually afforded by common rumour.
By some persons they were informed that the king was tall, and thin,
and fair; by another, that he was a fat, swarthy man, with trunk-hose
of prodigious dimensions, and a large Spanish hat upon his head.
Again, they were assured that the court displayed great pomp, and was
very unapproachable; and again, that all was freedom, and gaiety, and
rejoicing.

Thus proceeding, it was near four o'clock before the little party
entered Newark, and then it was with the greatest difficulty that they
found accommodation in a fourth-rate inn, at the extreme verge of the
town, on the side of Nottingham. All was bustle and confusion in the
place, notwithstanding the proclamation; the court-yard was crowded
with horses; and eating and drinking, which had begun at five in the
morning, was still going on with undiminished voracity. A buzz of
manifold voices came from every room in the house, above which arose,
from time to time, various loud and angry calls for tapsters, ostlers,
and landlord. Margery, the host's pretty daughter, had had more kisses
ravished from her in one day than ever she bestowed willingly in her
life; and the landlord, bustling about, and vowing that he should be
ruined and undone by the confusion that reigned in his establishment,
took ample care that if any one did, indeed, escape his vigilant eyes
without paying their scores, the more honest, or less fortunate,
should abundantly make up for the deficiency.

For some time it seemed, though the citizens of Oakham had acquired a
somewhat importunate appetite on the road, that no provisions were to
be had for love or money; and, leaving Masters Smallit and Polty to
settle that affair as they might, and get all ready against his
return, Matthew Lakyn, with due reverence for the business with which
he was intrusted, went out at once on feet, to deliver the letter to
Sir Robert Cecil.

Well aware of the difficulty of getting to a great man's presence in
the midst of a court, Lakyn determined, in the first place, to inquire
for one of the servants of the famous minister, with several of whom
he had been acquainted when his master had frequented the gay scenes
of the capital. On this errand he was bustling along through the
crowds which nearly blocked up the principal street of the town, when,
in a group of persons at one of the doors, he caught sight of the
well-known colours of the Cecil family, and the badge, with its barry
and escutcheoned field; and making his way through, he was soon
shaking hands with an old compotator, whom he had not seen for several
years. His business was easily explained; but, on hearing of the
letter, the serving-man put on a wise and diplomatic look, such as
official personages assume to nip a request in the bud before being
driven actually to refuse it.

"Is it a petition?" he asked; "for 'tis not easy to bring petitions to
my good master. He abhors them as a love-sick maiden hates cheese."

"Oh, dear, no," replied Lakyn, with a proud toss of the head. "My
master is much too great a man, as you well know, to make petitions.
If any one wants his services they must petition him, and are very
likely to get refused even then. I do not know, for I have not seen,
what the letter contains; but I rather think it is a civil excuse for
not coming to wait upon the King. But, you know, he is tired of
courts, and wishes to spend the rest of his life in peace, doing good
to all around him by his wonderful wisdom."

"Oh, if that be all," cried the servant, "it will soon be done. It is
of those who come to court great men are afraid, not those who stay
away from it. Come away up with me to the house yonder; and, as Sir
Robert gets off his horse after the hunting, you may deliver him the
letter yourself."

Lakyn was in the midst of his reply, telling the servant that there
was a party waiting for him at the inn, and that he would but give
them notice, and return in a minute, when there was a sudden cry of
"The King! the King!"

All was in a moment bustle and confusion. Some men on horseback,
riding forward, drove back the crowd on either side of the road,
making a lane for the royal cavalcade to pass; and, in the change of
movements which took place,--as these harbingers were careful to treat
more roughly those they did not know than those they did, it naturally
happened that the servant of Sir Robert Cecil and his friend obtained
a position in front of the rest.

"Now," said the man, "now! My master is coming just behind the King,
on this side. Step forward with me as he passes, and give him the
letter. I will tell him who you are."

Lakyn looked down the street, and, at the distance of about thirty
yards beheld a somewhat corpulent and heavy-looking man, on horseback,
riding with a slouching and uneasy air, coarse in feature, clumsy in
person, with his broad lips partly open, and the tip of his tongue
visible beneath his teeth. He had a small cap or bonnet on his head,
and a long feather, clasped by a large jewel. His dress was of a
bright, and somewhat glaring green; a hunting-horn hung at his side,
and a long knife, but no sword; and ever and anon, as the people
shouted, "God save the King! God save King James!" he bowed his head
with a sidelong inclination, which was anything but graceful, though
he seemed by his self-satisfied look to fancy it very gracious. Behind
him came a crowd of gentlemen, amongst the first of whom appeared a
personage, who, though slightly deformed, displayed the dignified
carriage of an English gentleman, and sat his fiery horse with ease
and grace. Lakyn immediately recognised Cecil, and was in the act of
stepping forward to speak to him, when, putting his hand to the black
velvet pouch, which, suspended by a belt over his shoulder, contained
the important letter, he found the fingers of a stranger, armed with a
knife, busily employed in cutting it away from his side.

Turning suddenly round, the old man caught the cut-purse by the
throat, instantly recognising the black-browed Master Slingsby. Sir
Robert Cecil's servant threw himself upon him also, having been
watching quietly for the last half minute the man's proceedings in
regard to his companion, Lakyn. Slingsby endeavoured to cast off his
opponents and make his escape, while the people gathered round,
exclaiming, "A cut-purse!--a cut-purse!--Away with him to prison, away
with him!"

The tumult thus occasioned right in the King's path could not fail to
attract his attention as he rode on; and, though several of the
officers of the court hurried up to see what was the matter, and to
remove the obstruction by driving back the crowd, in not the most
ceremonious or temperate manner, the King himself rode forward,
exclaiming, "What is it they cry? what is it?--A cut-purse?--Let the
man be brought before us: we are the best judge of such matters."

These words were pronounced with a strong Scottish accent, and many an
interjection peculiar to the monarch himself; but albeit we are not
ourselves without drops of Scottish blood in our veins, we do not
possess the tongue in sufficient purity to venture upon giving the
monarch's expressions in their original dialect.

"Hold him fast," continued the King, "hold him fast; and let him be
brought before us, with the witnesses against him. We will inquire
into the case ourselves at nine o'clock this night, after we have had
time to repose ourselves, and take some necessary sustenance."

Plenty of hands were ready to secure the unfortunate Master Slingsby,
who, seeing that he was detected in the fact, affected to treat the
matter as a jest, acknowledging that he cut the strap of the man's
pouch, but only for the purpose of seeing what it contained. He was
hurried away to prison, notwithstanding; and Sir Robert Cecil's
servant remained in the midst of the crowd with Lakyn, answering the
innumerable inquiries of the multitude, which were as vague and wide
of the point as usual.

One man demanded, in a serious tone, if the culprit did not wear a
brown beaver; and, on receiving a reply in the affirmative, shook his
head ruefully, exclaiming, "Ah, the villain!"

Another made particular inquiries as to his beard; and a third was
sure he had seen him somewhere, but could not tell where. A fourth
wished to know whether he had cut the strap with a knife or a pair of
shears, and opined that it would make a great difference in the
judgment of the King.

Drawing his friend away from the mob as soon as he could, Sir Harry
West's messenger asked in a doubtful tone, "Do you think the King will
really examine him himself?"

"Ay, that he will, Matthew," answered the servant, "and perhaps judge
him too. Nay, shake not your head: we have seen strange things done
since the court crossed the border. So, at all events, you be ready to
give your evidence; and I will call in for you at half-past eight, so
that we be not late if his Majesty inquires for us."

Lakyn promised to be ready, and, with this appointment, they parted.



                             CHAPTER VI.


The recital of the adventure which had just taken place in the streets
of Newark, and the apprehension of Slingsby, may well be supposed to
have produced considerable excitement amongst the party from Oakham,
who had seen that worthy gentleman pursuing their good friend Matthew
Lakyn over the heath near Witham; and Messrs. Smallit and Polty were
extremely anxious to accompany Sir Harry West's servant to the
presence of the King as witnesses. To this suggestion, however,
Matthew Lakyn gave no encouragement, and Sir Robert Cecil's man, who
made his appearance exactly at the hour appointed, put a decided
negative upon it, saying that the court was already more crowded than
it would bear.

Hurrying through the dark streets of Newark, Lakyn and his companion
were soon in the King's ante-chamber, where they found good Master
Slingsby guarded by some of the constables of the place. The few hours
of imprisonment which he had undergone, and perhaps the conversation
of those who held him in custody, had worked a great change in the
demeanour of that personage; and he was now evidently inclined to
treat the charge as a more serious affair than he had thought it at
first. He would fain have spoken to Lakyn, and beckoned him to come
across the room; but the constables rebuked him sharply, and one of
the attendants of the King exclaimed, "No, no; no cogging here!"

A minute or two after, the door of the King's chamber, against which
was stationed a halberdier, was thrown open by some one within, and a
voice called, "Bring in the prisoner and the witnesses;" and entering
the adjoining room, after Slingsby had been led forward by the
officers, Lakyn found himself in the presence of the King. James was
seated in a large arm-chair, dressed in the same garments which he had
worn in the morning, with hands and face not particularly well washed,
and an air of slovenly untidiness about his whole person. In fact, he
was distinguished from the rest of the court principally by being more
unlike a gentleman than any one present. On his right hand stood Sir
Robert Cecil, on his left, some other officers of the crown. A bishop,
and two or three clergymen, were also in the room; and the circle on
the King's right was extended by the mayor and corporation of Newark,
who had that night been graciously admitted to his presence. Before
him, at the moment Lakyn entered, stood the tall dark man whom we have
seen as Slingsby's companion on the road; and with him the monarch
seemed conversing in a familiar tone, though his eye wandered
constantly from the person whom he was addressing to those who came in
at the door, following them round the room, till they had taken their
stations at the opposite side.

"Your petition, man," he said, speaking to the man who stood before
him, "shall have all due consideration; and, depend upon it, rightful
and even justice shall be done; but I would fain ask you a question or
two thereanent. You call yourself an English gentleman, and your
petition smacks of the humanities. I dare to say, now, you have had a
good education?"

"Much pains have been bestowed upon it, sire," replied the stranger.

"And, if a king may be so bold as to ask," said James, with the same
broad Scottish accent of which he found it difficult to divest
himself, "where was it carried on, Master Winter, if such be your
name?"

The man hesitated for a moment or two, and then replied, "At Oxford,
sire."

"And at what college, man?" demanded the King, turning a shrewd look
towards Cecil.

"At Corpus Christi College, your majesty," answered the personage to
whom the question was addressed.

"A very learned place," replied James, "though somewhat given, we have
heard, to the doctrines of popery. But our memory, man, is very long
and troublesome; and, as we take great delight in the progress of our
subjects, especially in those studies which are vulgarly called the
humanities, we have diligently perused the names of all the scholars
at our two universities in the kingdom of England, and we cannot just
readily recollect the name of Winter amongst those who matriculated at
Oxford within the last five-and-twenty years. It is true that the
memory of a king ought, by God's grace, to be better than that of a
subject. However, we may fail, as all men; so just recollect yourself,
and see if you have not studied also in Rome, France, or Brabant. It
is not so easy to deceive us, man, as some folks think; and you have
so much the look of what is profanely termed a seminary priest, that
we would fain take further informations concerning you."

Master Winter, as he called himself, turned as pale as ashes, and
began in a hesitating manner to acknowledge that he had studied some
time on the Continent.

"Doubtless, doubtless," cried the King, "and have taken all the
degrees and orders. Are you ready, sir, to receive the oath of
supremacy, acknowledging that in this realm of England the supreme
rule and governance of affairs ecclesiastical are in the king alone?
What! you make no answer! Well, then, you see you are found out. My
Lord Bishop,--having now opened the examination of this man, so that
your lordship may clearly see and learn the course in which we would
have it conducted, we give the case over to you for farther
investigation; and should it turn out, as we believe, that a
papistical priest has dared to intrude himself into our sacred
presence, we will have him committed to be dealt with according to
law. Let him be put in charge of a pursuivant, and perhaps to-morrow
we may hold farther discourse with him, in the hope of opening his
blinded eyes, and reclaiming him from his errors. Stand down, sir. Let
the other fellow be brought forward--not so near, not so near. He is
as ill-looking a body as ever I set eyes on. Where are the witnesses?"

While the man Winter was removed to the other side of the room, Lakyn,
Sir Robert Cecil's servant, and two other persons, who had been
standing near in the crowd when the attempt to cut off the pouch was
made, advanced, and were examined by the King touching the whole
transaction. The facts were clearly proved beyond a doubt; and it was
also shown that the man had not denied the attempt.

"Well, sir, and what have you to say for yourself now?" demanded
James. "Have you any evidence to rebut this charge?"

"May it please your majesty," replied Slingsby, "I do not deny that I
attempted to cut off the pouch; but----"

"What! then you make confession, man?" said the King. "This is the
eighth or ninth time since we left Berwick that robbery has been
committed upon persons attending our court, and, now we have got you,
we will make an example, depend upon it."

"I wished but to see what the pouch contained, your majesty,"
exclaimed Slingsby, in a dolorous tone.

"Just like all other robbers and plunderers," answered James; "they
all want to see what the purses they take contain, and the more the
better."

"But, but," cried the man, "it was only curiosity."

"Hout tout!" exclaimed James, "such curiosity as that must be stopped
with a rope," (or, as the King expressed it, with a "wuudie,") "and
being the sovereign judge, to whom all other judges in this realm are
merely subservient, or assistant, having tried the case ourselves, and
finding this man taken in the act, and not making denial of his guilt,
we shall proceed to pass sentence upon him according to law, ordering
him to be taken back to prison, and thence, to-morrow morning, at six
of the clock, to the place of public execution, there to be hanged by
the neck until he be dead. Let a warrant be prepared, directed to our
Recorder of the town of Newark, for due execution of our sentence."

Every person in the room looked almost as much aghast as the unhappy
prisoner; for such a gross and unheard-of violation of the laws of
England seemed to every one more dangerous than if a thousand
cut-purses had escaped.

"But, sire----" exclaimed Cecil, stepping forward.

"Not a word, Sir Robert--not a word," cried the King. "We will have no
pleading for him. He is taken in the fact, confesses his crime, and it
is but right and befitting to make our English subjects know that we
hold the sword of Justice with a firm hand, and will not fail to
strike at all offenders against the law. Take the man away--let the
warrant be made out and executed without fail. As we are a crowned
king, we will not bate a tittle of our sentence."

The courtiers looked in each other's faces, and the unhappy Slingsby
was dragged away, endeavouring to stammer forth some appeal to the
King's mercy and to the laws of the land. But no one attended to him;
and so great was the popular excitement in favour of a new monarch,
that, although such an act had not been committed since the darkest
period of British history, no one ventured to oppose it, and the
warrant was made out according to the King's command.

James himself seemed not to entertain the slightest doubt or
hesitation in regard to his own proceedings, nor indeed any sorrow or
compunction for the fate of the unhappy man whom he had just doomed to
death.

"Well, now," he cried, addressing Lakyn, "the cut-purse being disposed
of, let us see the pouch, man."

Lakyn, who held it in his hand--for the strap by which it was
suspended had been quite cut through--immediately presented it to the
King upon his knee; and James, taking it from him, without further
ceremony undid the loop and button, and put his hand into the inside.
Feeling, however, that some degree of ridicule might attach to him for
displaying the same curiosity which he had condemned so severely the
minute before, he began a discourse in justification of his own
proceeding, full of all those quaint niceties and hair's-breadth
distinctions on which he prided himself. He explained, in the first
place, in broad general terms, that conduct which might be criminal in
a subject was perfectly justifiable in a king. He then went on to show
more at large that the impropriety or propriety of a man's actions
depended entirely upon the circumstances and the position of the man
himself, exemplifying his truisms with various homely and strangely
contrasted instances, from the rights of a schoolmaster in birch and
cane to the rights of a monarch on the throne; and certainly in both
cases he was inclined to stretch prerogative sometimes beyond its just
limits. He ended, however, after a discourse of a quarter of an hour,
during which time his fingers still remained in the bag, by declaring
that evidently the man's pretext of curiosity was false and absurd.
"For why," asked the King, "should he have a greater desire to see
what was in one bag than in another?"

"Why, may it please your majesty," replied Lakyn, "I do think the man
said true in that, for knowing that I was bearing a letter to your
Majesty's Court from the Lady Arabella Stuart,--that is, not to
say that he did know it, but he might, for all I can say to the
contrary.--However, he followed me all the way down from
Cambridgeshire, and as there were more people with him, I can't help
thinking it was a plot to get the letter and see the contents."

"Ha!" cried the King, turning pale--"a plot already? Did we not tell
you, Sir Robert, did we not tell you, Taylor, that it would not be
long first?--Why, what's the matter there? The man seems to have
tumbled down," and he pointed with his hand to the other side of the
room, where there was a good deal of bustle about the spot where the
personage who called himself Winter had been standing in custody of a
pursuivant.

"What's the matter there, I say?" cried the King. "Will nobody answer
their Sovereign Lord and Master?"

"It is the priest, your Majesty," said the pursuivant; "he has fallen
down in a swoon, after complaining much of the heat."

"Let him take care that he get not to a hotter place," answered James;
"but take him out, man, take him out, and keep him in the ante-room
till further orders.--Now, man, what is this you tell me?" he
continued, turning to Lakyn; "a plot, did you say?"

Lakyn, according to the King's command, and in answer to his manifold
questions, detailed all that had occurred since he had left Sir Harry
West's house, and the reasons which made him suspect that he had been
watched and pursued. On one point, however, it must be acknowledged,
he was not quite sincere with the King, never hinting the slightest
suspicion that the man whom he had seen in the King's presence under
the name of Winter, was one of those by whom he had been dogged.

The truth is, however, that good Matthew Lakyn had, in common with
other Englishmen, a great respect for the laws of the land, and loved
not to see them violated, whether by King or commoner. James's dealing
with the man Slingsby had shocked all his notions of an Englishman's
rights and privileges; and he was resolved that he would not willingly
bring another under the rod of a monarch who seemed inclined to make
such an arbitrary use of his power. His account seemed to give the
King great satisfaction, however; for there are many men whose minds,
like the body of a ferret, are so constituted as to find themselves
most at ease when twisting in and out, through long and intricate
holes; and nothing pleased the first of our Stuart race so much as
tracing the small lines and narrow connexions of any plot or intrigue.

While making these inquiries, the King had drawn forth the letter of
the Lady Arabella, and kept turning it in his hand with an evident
inclination to open it, although he must have seen clearly that it was
not addressed to himself. The presence of Cecil, however, restrained
him from the pitiful act; and after one or two woful looks of
irresolution, after thrusting his hand once or twice into his pocket,
and twitching the ties of his stuffed doublet, he gave the letter to
his English councillor, saying, "There, Sir Robert, there! This
epistle is addressed to you, though by my soul, man,--" and he added
an oath which for so pious a monarch was neither very reverent nor
cleanly,--"I know not why our cousin has not addressed herself to us.
Read, read, man; and let us hear the contents as far as may be in
discretion."

Cecil immediately took the letter, and without displaying in any
degree the hesitation which he really felt, he merely opened it, and
having spread it forth, put it into the king's hand.

"Well and dutifully done, Sir Robert," said James, with a gracious
inclination of the head, and then commenced reading as follows in a
tone which, though somewhat subdued, rendered the words audible to
those who were immediately about his person, commenting from time to
time, as he proceeded, after his own peculiar fashion.

"'Sir Robert, my very good friend,--This is to let you know, that
being on my way, as in duty bound, to present my humble services to
his Majesty the King, and to congratulate him on his accession to the
throne of this realm of England,'--Rightly said, for we were in full
possession of Scotland before; but she should have added Ireland and
France. She is but a young thing, however, and the letter is not that
ill written.--'I have been informed that his Majesty at York published
a proclamation, forbidding the approach of any to his court except
those specially called. Knowing that obedience to the commands of our
Sovereign Lord is the first duty of a subject, I have stopped at the
house of my old and respected friend, Sir Harry West.'--A wise and
elderly person, I trust, ha, Sir Robert? For it does not do for
maidens of the blood-royal to sojourn at the house of flaunting
courtiers."

"A very wise and reverend gentleman, sire," replied Cecil, "of three
score years, or thereabouts."

"That is right--that is right," continued the King, "and, indeed, she
shows a just discretion in all things. Would that all our subjects
would take example by her implicit obedience to our best commands. But
what says she farther?" and he proceeded to read,--"'Sir Harry West,
where I was driven to take refuge, as I shall shortly explain to you.
I do beseech you, therefore, Sir Robert, to lay my humble duty before
the King, and to petition him that I may be permitted to approach him
in person, not alone to pay respect and reverence to him, of which he
must be well assured, both on my part and that of all his subjects,
but also to communicate to him certain discourses which were held to
me in an inn near this place, where I had thought to spend the night.
Now, though these discourses were light and foolish, and unworthy the
attention of so great a King, yet, as they seemed to me of a
treasonable kind of folly, and were also Popish, and contrary to the
established religion of the realm, I did not choose to abide under the
same roof with the strangers who had held them; but, notwithstanding,
it being a dark night, and tempestuous weather, came on to this house
of Bourne, where I have been kindly and hospitably entreated. Judging
that the matter which drove me from the inn should be revealed to his
Majesty before any other person, I will not enter into farther
particulars; but beg you to solicit for me his gracious permission,
not venturing to write to him myself, to present myself in his court,
according to my duty. Yours, most assuredly,

                                  'ARABELLA STUART.

'From the house of Sir Harry West, at
   Bourne, this ---- of May, 1603.'"

"A well composed and very judicious letter," said the King;
"though in her inexperience this young lady has committed one error,
which we shall, notwithstanding, freely pardon, as it was not of
malice,--namely, that she did not cause the immediate arrest of these
persons, but in all others she has conducted herself discreetly. You
will be pleased to answer her, Sir Robert, telling her that as we tend
towards your good house of Theobald's, we shall be glad to see her
there, and hear more from her, letting her know that we commend her
prudence and obedience, and do her grace accordingly. Now, man,
where's the warrant? Please God, we will sign it without farther
delay."

"It is usual, sire," said Cecil, resolved to make one effort, "to put
a man upon his trial before----"

"Hout! puddings' ends!" cried the King. "What! taken _flagrante
delicto_, and making confession of his crime? Give me the warrant,
man; if I am a crowned king, and there be hemp in England, he shall
end his days in a tow before noon to-morrow."

The warrant was accordingly placed before the King, whose face had
grown somewhat red at even the slight opposition he had met with. A
small table, with pen and ink, was brought forward, and with a quick
and determined hand James signed a paper, which might at any other
time have shaken the throne of England.

"There!" he said, when he had done. "Convey that to the Recorder of
Newark, and let him disobey at his peril. Answer the lady's letter
to-night, Sir Robert, and take good care of her messenger, who seems a
sober and prudent person."

"Your Majesty was pleased to say," replied Cecil, "that there was
another letter to be remembered; but, whether you will be pleased to
answer it yourself, or commit the task to a secretary, I know not?"

"What talk you of? what talk you of?" exclaimed the King, somewhat
impatiently. "By my soul! I will write no more letters to-night."

"It was concerning that excellent good soldier and politic gentleman,
Sir Walter Raleigh," replied the courtier, "and his application to be
permitted to wait upon your Majesty."

"Fie now, Sir Robert, to trouble me with such matters," replied the
King. "Let the man wait. He has no title, I trow, to be importunate."

"Certainly not, sire," replied Cecil; "but persons who have been
greatly favoured by monarchs do sometimes presume, and Sir Walter, as
you know, was a prime favourite of the late queen, as, indeed, his
merits well deserved. Doubtless her majesty gave no heed to the charge
of atheism against him, and forgave his hatred against my Lord of
Essex. But, as your Majesty knows, being captain of the guard, he may
think he has some claim----"

"None but our pleasure, man! none but our pleasure!" cried the King.
"His malice at Essex, poor fellow! will be no grace in our eyes; and
as to his atheism, that shall be inquired into. We will have none such
about the Court. Tell him to mind the proclamation; and, hark ye,
gossip, there may be a new captain of the guard some day. Make the
letter short, and do not say too much; we will do everything civilly,
but I am thinking we can find a captain of the guard amongst our own
friends;" and with these words began the ruin of Raleigh.

The King soon after rose, and retired to rest; the courtiers remained
for a few minutes conversing with apparent frankness over the strange
scene which they had just witnessed, yet none of them venturing to
give his real opinion to his neighbour; but Sir Robert Cecil afforded
no one an opportunity of misrepresenting his words, for, after merely
ordering his son to take care of Lakyn, he quitted the room, to write
the letters, according to the King's command.



                             CHAPTER VII.


In a house not far from the Strand, there was a dark room, of somewhat
large dimensions, lined with small square panels of black oak. The
mantelpiece was of the same wood, richly carved with monkeys, and
devils, and many a wild creature of the imagination, supporting the
various cornices and crowning the three-twisted columns on either
side, while, on a sort of entablature, appeared, in marquetry of
sandal-wood and ebony, the whole history of King David, from his first
encounter with Goliath of Gath to the death of Absalom. The figure of
the Psalmist king, it is true, was not in the most harmonious
proportions, his head being somewhat larger than his body, and his
crown, after he had attained the dignity of empire, rather larger than
his head. Goliath, from his protuberance before, must decidedly have
taken but little exercise, and appeared to have had a fondness for
turtle and venison, so that he might be strongly suspected of having
sat as an alderman at the civic festivals of Gath. About Absalom,
however, there could be no mistake, for his hair, which was of black
ebony, could have belonged to nobody else on earth but himself, and
greatly resembled the contents of an unpicked mattress. Some bears and
stags were introduced, for reasons unassigned, and there were harps
enough in various parts of the piece to have served David for twenty
more books of psalms than ever he composed.[1] Nevertheless, it was a
very splendid piece of sculpture in its way, and was the only thing
that enlivened the room, if we except a silver sconce of three
branches, with the lights which they contained.


---------------

[Footnote 1: A similar mantelpiece is still to be seen in the house of
J. Wood, Esq., of Sandwich, in which Queen Elizabeth resided during
her visit to that ancient town.]

---------------


In this chamber, not many days after the events which we have lately
related, sat a very respectable personage, about the middle age,
dressed in costly, but serious-coloured apparel, of the Spanish cut,
while near him appeared a gentleman considerably younger, in the
highest mode of the English fashion. The countenance of the latter
bore a quick, impatient, and somewhat discontented air, and while he
spoke he continued to trifle with the roses in his shoes, stirring
them from side to side with the point of his sword. The language that
they both used was French; in which tongue, however, the elder
gentleman was much more fluent than the other, although he himself did
not speak it with perfect purity, mingling, from time to time, several
Spanish expressions, and several Dutch ones also, with his
conversation.

At the moment which we choose for the purpose of introducing them to
the reader, a short pause had taken place, and each seemed buried in
thought. At length the elder looked round at his companion, saying,
"Well, my Lord?"

"Well, Count?" replied the other, and both fell again into thought.

"It is not impossible, I repeat, Lord Cobham," continued the elder at
length, "though the sum required be large--I say it is not impossible,
upon the conditions I have mentioned; but, if you look at the matter
rightly, you will find that it is not less for your safety than for
the security of the King my master, that these three points should be
ascertained. First, at the head of the party must be one who can lay a
good title to the crown of England. There is but one that I know of,
and she must be ours--of course, not to rule and guide us till she be
actually upon the throne, but as the colour and pretence of our
opposition to the King of Scotland, the rallying-point of the party,
and our justification in the eyes of Europe. Her title is better than
his, inasmuch as she is directly descended from Henry the Seventh. She
is also English by birth and education, which he is not; and long ago
the English nation pronounced that they would not have a foreigner sit
upon the throne. But not only that, I find that the law of England
declares no alien can inherit landed property in the realm. How, then,
can an alien, like this King James, inherit the crown, with all the
domain attached to it? This I have explained to you all before, and
this is absolutely necessary as the first condition. In the next
place, my very good Lord, I must see some commander of great
distinction engaged in the cause. Not that you are otherwise yourself
than a good and skilful soldier, in whom we could have all confidence,
and for whom----"

"Pooh! pooh!" cried Lord Cobham, "let us cease compliments, Count
Aremberg. What you want, of course, is some man whose name and
reputation, as well as his valour and skill, will inspire the whole
party with trust. But I will pledge myself for such a man."

"For whom?" demanded Count Aremberg.

"None other than my old and dear friend, Sir Walter Raleigh," replied
Lord Cobham. "He will never hang back when Cobham asks him to draw the
sword; and, moreover, he has already received disgust which makes his
blood boil. I saw him this morning, with a letter from Cecil in his
hand. The King refuses to see him, and he has a cool and complacent
hint that he had better resign his honourable post of captain of the
guard. An auspicious commencement of a new monarch's reign, to slight
and injure the best servants of the crown. What! you look dark, my
noble Count, remembering whose good sword has been so often drawn
against the power of Spain. But let not that be a stumbling-block.
Raleigh will serve his country when Spain is our friend as well as he
served her when Spain was her enemy; and whoever wishes to pull down
this slovenly Scotch tyrant--whose first act in England was to violate
the laws of the land he came to govern, must be a friend to our native
country."

"Nay," answered Count Aremberg, "you misinterpret my looks. Courage
and high qualities deserve respect as much in an enemy as in a friend;
and assuredly Sir Walter Raleigh has shown all the great points of a
distinguished captain. It is a pity, only, that his Queen gave him no
other occupation than that of a pirate."

He could not refrain from the sarcasm; but, seeing the colour come up
in Lord Cobham's cheek, he proceeded hastily, "I shall be right glad
to see him draw his sword in a nobler career. But, can you be sure of
him?--Have you sounded him?"

"Not yet," replied Lord Cobham,--"not yet; but I will undertake for
him; only he must have money to equip his forces. That is the first
necessity, and without it he is too wise to act. Now, Sir Count, to
your third demand. I forget what it was--something of less importance
than the others, I think."

"Not in my estimation," answered Count Aremberg. "It is, that the
heads of the Catholic party in England give you their adhesion; and
herein, my Lord, seems the greatest difficulty, for the favour which
the King has shown to the two Lords Howard has greatly divided the
feelings of those who in this country adhere to the true faith."

"Pshah!" cried Lord Cobham; "a piece of paper and a lump of wax will
soon set all that to rights. I mean a papa brief, my Lord. 'Odds life!
you zealous Catholics ought to know right well that there is not
a man of you who will venture to refuse his aid and assistance in
re-establishing the old ecclesiastical rule in England; and, I have
little doubt that, were it necessary, a brief of his Holiness would be
found, ere to-morrow at noon, within the limits of this good city of
London, commanding all true children of the Apostolic Church to give
their aid in excluding the heretic Scotchman from the throne."

"Indeed!" said Aremberg, with a doubtful look. "If it be so, his
Holiness has not made his intentions known to the Court of Spain."

"Pshah! most excellent sir!" replied Lord Cobham. "Use not your
diplomatic qualities on me, for it will only lengthen our discussion
without attaining any end. You know of the Pope's bull right well; and
your only object is to save the claim of the Infanta. But, be assured,
that no alien will ever sit upon the throne of England, if James be
rejected."

Count Aremberg smiled, and it must be remarked that his smile was
always a coarse and unpleasant one.

"Well," he said, "granting that it be as you declare, and that the
King of Spain be willing to aid in the great and laudable object of
re-establishing the Catholic religion in these realms, still, as he
must make a sacrifice of the claims of the Infanta, he is entitled to
some compensation. What have you to propose on that head?"

"We will first terminate the question of the three conditions you
require, worthy Count," replied Lord Cobham. "Two of them are disposed
of: you have the Lady Arabella as the head of the party, Sir Walter
Raleigh as its military leader; and I have shown you good means of
insuring that the Catholics of England will readily draw the sword for
a lady, whom we have every reason to believe well disposed to that
church. However, if you want more proof, I can bring you the head of
one of our chief Catholic families, and two excellent priests of your
religion, named Fathers Watson and Clarke, who will pledge themselves
for the rest of their community. The good fathers are below even now,
and Sir Griffin Markham will be here in a few minutes."

He rose as he spoke, as if to call the priests into the room; but
Count Aremberg stopped him, saying, "Stay, my Lord, stay. Give me yet
one minute of your private company. The last point is perhaps the most
important of all."

"Ay, so I thought," cried Lord Cobham.

"What is the King of Spain to receive as an equivalent," continued
Count Aremberg, "for relinquishing the claims of the Infanta?"

"I will show you what her claims are worth," said Lord Cobham, putting
his hand in his pocket: "thus much, and no more, most excellent
Count;" and he laid a silver groat upon the table, pointing to it with
the fore-finger of his right hand.

"'Tis a small sum," observed the Count, "for very great claims. But I
did think that something was mentioned about the loan or gift of six
hundred thousand Spanish crowns. Now this, my noble Lord, is a
considerable amount for any prince to give, especially when it is to
be employed for the purpose of doing away the claim of his own family,
though that claim be but worth a groat. Your Lordship must see," he
added, with a dry laugh, "that something as an equivalent must be
assigned to the King before he can entertain your proposals."

Cobham frowned, and bit his lip. He could not but feel that there was
much force in what the Spanish ambassador said; that he had no right
to expect, indeed, that the King of Spain, whatever might be his
bigotry in favour of the Church of Rome, would give so large a sum of
money, and at the same time resign long-cherished, though chimerical
hopes, without some strong human consideration totally independent of
religious zeal. He was not prepared, however, with any proposal to
meet Count Aremberg's objection, and consequently remained silent,
turning the matter moodily in his mind. Here the conference might have
broken off, perhaps; but a quick step was heard upon the stairs, and
he exclaimed,

"Here comes Sir Griffin Markham! It were as well to be silent with him
regarding this difficulty. The Catholics are easily discouraged. I
will discuss this question in secret with you hereafter."

As he spoke, the door was thrown open, and in came, booted and
spurred, a cavalier younger than either of the other two, with a frank
and somewhat reckless bearing, and an air of affected indifference, as
if he were entering some gay drawing-room.

"Ha! George," cried Lord Cobham, "is that you? I thought it was
Markham. When did you arrive?"

"Five minutes and a half ago," replied Sir George Brooke. "I saw the
King safely housed at Theobald's, and rode on hither with all speed.
Monday will see him at the Charter House, my good brother, where you
need not show yourself unless you like, for you will not have too
gracious a reception."

"You know Count Aremberg, I think?" rejoined Lord Cobham. "Count, you
know my brother?"

The Spanish ambassador bowed; and taking up the cover of a
richly-chased cup which stood upon the table, he said, "This is
exquisitely wrought, my Lord. Pray, are your goldsmiths in England
equal to such nice work as this?"

"Nay, that came from Italy," replied Lord Cobham, impatiently. "But,
to return to the matter before us, your Excellency need not fear my
brother. He is the soul of our party."

"I have nought to say more than I have said," replied Count Aremberg.
"I am here but to learn your wishes, and to hear your proposals; very
willing to give you any aid and assistance in my power--with due
regard for the interests of my master, the King of Spain."

"Well, Count, what does the King want?" cried George Brooke, casting
himself nonchalantly into a chair. "There is excellent brawn at
Oxford, excellent cheese in the county of Cheshire, capital venison
all over England; but, bating these articles, we have nothing else to
give that I know of."

"Except, it would seem, a crown," replied Count Aremberg; "for that
trifle you appear profusely disposed to deal withal, taking it from
one, denying it to another, bestowing it upon a third. What I ask,
sir, is, when you require his most Catholic Majesty to resign the
claims of the Infanta, and to bestow upon you six hundred thousand
crowns, for the purpose of raising a young lady of your own country to
the throne, what inducement have you to offer him?"

"Hum!" said George Brooke, pursing up his lips; "various things that
his Majesty has sought for many a year. First, a great deal of
confusion in England--perhaps a civil war. What a splendid set-off
against the destruction of the Armada! Secondly, the re-establishment
of the Roman-catholic religion. We may throw in a few fires at
Smithfield; and, if the matter be fully completed, perhaps we may
grant a touch or two of the Inquisition, at least as far as the rack
and thumb-screws go; though, as to the whole order of St. Dominic, and
other piebald gentry of the kind, I cannot exactly promise;--that must
depend upon circumstances."

"Weighty considerations these, certainly," answered Count Aremberg,
gravely; "but I do not think that they would figure well in a
dispatch."

"Better in a private and confidential letter," said George Brooke, in
the same easy tone. "However, for the public document, we will have a
firm and lasting peace between England and Spain,--an alliance
offensive and defensive, if you will."

"A treaty!" exclaimed Count Aremberg, shaking his head; "we have too
much parchment in Spain already. The kingdom is covered with
sheepskin."

"Can you get no wool off it?" asked George Brooke. "Methinks just now,
with the most Christian King of France and Navarre on the one side,
Meynheer Van Barneveldt on the other, and the unpleasant aspect of the
Emperor on a third, the Court of Spain, and more especially that of
Brussels, might be very well pleased to have the helping hand of
England, and rather see Raleigh thundering on the coast of Holland,
than setting the Indies in a flame, and sweeping the sea of your
galleons."

"Were England at peace with herself," said the Spanish ambassador,
"this proposal might have some weight."

"But she shall be at peace within a year, most excellent Count,"
replied George Brooke. "Let us but harpoon this Scotch porpoise, and
confine him for a season in the Tower, and then the very hem of sweet
Arabella's satin petticoat shall sweep the land clear of all
contention."

"But what," asked Count Aremberg, "if she choose to give her fair hand
to some enemy of Spain?"

Lord Cobham smiled, saying, "You are wondrous cautious, Count."

"Ha! are you there?" cried George Brooke. "Well, there we are prepared
to meet you. We will engage that the lady shall be guided in her
choice by the King of Spain."

"Now you speak reason," replied Count Aremberg; "but yet I will tell
you that it will be more satisfactory to me and to my master, if the
lady herself make the engagement. In a word, as these are your
proposals and not mine, if you can gain me the assurance under the
lady's own hand, guaranteed by yourselves, that she, when Queen of
England, will grant full toleration to the Catholic faith, will sign a
lasting peace between England and Spain, and be guided by the
sovereign I represent in her choice of a husband, the matter may go
forward: if not, I must pause."

"It shall be done," said George Brooke, and Lord Cobham echoed the
same words. "But," continued the former, "are you ready to give us
assurance that if we do, our request is granted?

"Nay," replied the ambassador, "I cannot give a definite promise. That
must depend upon the King himself."

"Then this is all foolery," said Lord Cobham. "The opportunity will be
lost sending between London and Madrid."

"You know right well, my Lord," replied Count Aremberg, "that I was
not sent to England on this matter, and consequently I have no
instructions."

He saw a cloud come over the brow of George Brooke, the bolder and
less cautious negotiator of the two, and added a few words to soften
the disappointment which was evidently felt, and to give such hopes as
might prevent the conspiracy from being abandoned in despair.

"I can but speak my own individual opinion," continued Count Aremberg,
"but, such as it is, you shall have it frankly."

"Frankly?" cried George Brooke, with a bitter laugh.

"Yes, on my life," answered the ambassador; "and it is, that there
cannot be the slightest doubt his Majesty the King will at once
consent to supply the money you require, if you give him the
assurances which I have pointed out. Nay, more," he added, in a quiet
tone, "should need be, he will, I, feel very sure, furnish you with a
body of soldiers sufficient to take the field at once."

"No, no," cried George Brooke, "no Spanish soldiers in England, noble
Count. The people have not yet forgot some late passages, in which the
Spanish soldiers and the English were less friendly than is pleasant.
They did nothing, it is true, but cut each other's throats; but still
that does not cement amity."

"They need not be Spanish soldiers," said Count Aremberg, in reply;
"they may be from Flanders."

"Still they will be the troops of a foreign sovereign," answered Lord
Cobham.

"Not if you raise and pay them yourselves," said Count Aremberg,
always bearing in view the strong inclination of the Spanish crown to
regain a hold upon England.

"That might be done, it is true," said George Brooke; "but that is an
after consideration; the present question is about the money. If we
once have means of engaging a sufficient number, by showing them that
we have strong support, and that the enterprise is feasible, we may
seize upon James, confine him in the Tower, and, with the command of
the capital, which we shall certainly possess, we have little
resistance to fear. An outbreak may take place here or there amongst
the Scotchman's friends in the country, but they will be speedily
suppressed. The two Howards _must_ remain neuter; for, though their
inclination would lead them to James, their religion will bind them to
us. Northumberland, though he will not begin the strife, will go with
us heart and soul when it is begun; and so will a thousand other noble
gentlemen, who have long suffered in their faith, or in their persons.
Others, again, will be upon our side, from hatred to the Scotch, and
disgust at the swine that Scotland has sent us. The great body of the
church will go with us; for ambition is the great vice of the
ecclesiastics, and the reestablishment of the Romish hierarchy must
naturally open to them a thousand new roads to their end. Many a sober
Protestant parson regrets the confessional, and the mass, and the
procession, and the embroidered garments, and the lordly rule of each
priest in his parish; and we should have thousands gladly coming back
to the good old days of Rome. But the question is now, how are we to
get the means of setting the enterprise agoing? James's movements are
uncertain; on Monday he will be at the Charter House; on Wednesday or
Thursday at the Tower; where he may be a fortnight hence no one can
tell. You cannot count upon a reply from Spain under six weeks, and it
is necessary to secure the bird while he is in the net. Six weeks'
delay will be ruinous."

Count Aremberg paused and mused, and, after waiting for a minute or
two, in expectation of his reply, Lord Cobham exclaimed, "Unless we
can have some certainty in less time than that, it were better to give
the whole thing up, and think no more of it."

"If the question be but regarding the money," said the Count, "I doubt
not the Archduke can settle that point at once. I believe that, sooner
than suffer a scheme for delivering his fellow Catholics from the yoke
under which they now groan, to fail, he would advance the sum out of
his private treasury."

"Although that may cause some delay," said George Brooke, "still it
will not present such an obstacle as the other plan. If this can be
done, then, and your Excellency is enabled by the next courier from
Brussels to treat definitely, we will go on, and obtain for you the
assurances you require from the Lady Arabella. If not, I fear the
enterprise must fall to the ground."

"I will write immediately," replied Aremberg, "and send the dispatch
by a trusty messenger."

"It were well," said George Brooke, "that he were accompanied by some
one on our part. What think you, Cobham--will Watson go?"

"Nay, Clarke is the shrewder of the two," replied his brother.

"Settle that between yourselves as you like, gentlemen," said Count
Aremberg, with the appearance of perfect indifference--though, to say
truth, he was not at all disinclined that a great part of the
responsibility of the transaction should be removed from his own
shoulders, and that he should escape the necessity of committing
himself on some delicate points in writing. "Choose your messenger
discreetly, and in my dispatch I will refer to him as intrusted by
certain English lords and gentlemen to convey their opinions upon
various points to the Archduke. Now, however, I will hie me home, for
I have been some time absent; and it must not be forgotten that I am
at this moment sick in bed."

"I wish your Excellency a happy delivery," cried George Brooke, with
one of his light laughs. "I shall come and inquire after the baby in a
day or two."

"I trust it may be a stout and healthy child," replied Count Aremberg,
in the same tone, "and at all events we will baptize it in the
Catholic faith."

Thus saying, he took up a large cloak which lay on the back of one of
the chairs, enveloped himself completely in its folds, and, lighted by
George Brooke, descended the stairs, at the bottom of which he was
joined by a man dressed as a servant, who was called from a little
room at the side. Without a farther word, but "Good night," the
ambassador issued forth into the street, and walked along for some
way, with the man close beside him.

"What have you learnt, Gonzalez?" he asked at length, in Spanish,
looking up and down the street by the moonlight, and seeing that no
one was near.

"According to their showing, your Excellency, full one-third of the
inhabitants of London are prepared to rise, and more than one-half of
the country. Making a little allowance for exaggeration, the
discontent seems to be very extensive, and likely to spread."

"What did they give you?" demanded Count Aremberg.

"Fifty gold angels," replied the man, after a short pause.

"Ha!" said the Count, "are you sure they did not discover you for what
you are?"

"Quite certain," he replied; "for though they were civil in the matter
of the money, the two priests kept me standing all the time."

"Then his Holiness is determined the matter shall proceed," said
Aremberg. "Fifty angels to a serving-man do not come from two poor
conspirators, or two persecuted Catholic priests. It may, perhaps,
turn out something of importance, after all."



                            CHAPTER VIII.


On the confines of Hampshire and Wiltshire, at the distance of about
twenty miles from Salisbury, was a good house belonging formerly to
the Dowager Countess of Lennox, surrounded by a park of nearly a
thousand acres, paled in from the neighbouring country on account of
some very fine deer which it contained. The hand of nature had done
far more for it than art, and nothing could be more beautiful than the
variety of hill and dale, of forest, fell and mead, which it
displayed. It is true no mountains were there, no bold and rocky
scenery; but it was full of rich old woods, deep ferny dells, and
constant heights and falls of ground, which compelled a considerable
stream swarming with fine trout to wander in a thousand turns and
bends, so that its course through the park, if traced along its
meanderings, could not extend to less than many miles in length.

The woodpecker and the squirrel found there a home to their utmost
satisfaction; multitudes of hares, whose possession was only disputed
by the herds of deer, might be found sleeping in their forms on the
sunny sides of the hill, or seen galloping along when disturbed, ever
and anon standing raised upon their hind feet, and listening with
erected ear for any sound of pursuit; while towards the close of
evening, the rabbits, in a part especially called the Warren, came out
to play in thousands, like schoolboys issuing forth for sport after
the tasks of the day are ended.

In this park, in the month of June, and towards the hour of nine in
the morning, a lady was sitting on the grass under the trees, at a
considerable distance from the house. The spot she had chosen was the
side of one of the little hills, which was crowned by a clump of old
oaks, and looking down over a considerable extent of scene, both in
front and on either hand. It was, in fact a sort of spur or promontory
from the high ground to the westward of the park, on which ran the
paling, bounding a high road. The distance between the hill and the
public way, however, was at least four hundred yards; and the
intervening space was filled with wide-spreading trees, devoid of
underwood, so that it was from that side alone that any one could
approach the spot chosen by the lady for her seat without being
perceived by her, even at a considerable distance.

The sun was rising bright over the fair landscape beneath her eyes,
the wanderings of the stream were in every direction seen, like the
beneficent hand of the Almighty in all his works, to the eye of the
thoughtful believer giving light and brightness to the whole; and
while the long shadows of the trees moved slowly as the morning sun
got up in heaven, like the tardy progress of the world's affairs, the
deep blue shadow of some passing clouds floated rapidly over the
bright scene, resembling the free thoughts of man when his heart is at
rest.

For several minutes the lady sat and gazed around her, leaning lightly
on her rounded arm, and fixing her soft and thoughtful eyes, from time
to time, upon each fair spot in the glowing landscape. Was she merely
drinking in the flood of beauty that poured upon the eye,
contemplating the magnificence of nature, feeling with delight and awe
the perfection of God's works? Or were her thoughts turned inward to
her own fate and circumstances, and her eye roving inattentive over
things familiar to her? Neither was exactly the case; she felt the
loveliness of the scene, she marked with pleasure many a fair object
in the view, she looked "through Nature up to Nature's God," but still
her own hopes and wishes, her own fears and anxieties intruded
themselves, whether she would or not, upon her attention with
importunate appeal, and connected her own fate with all her
contemplations, deriving from the objects before her eyes, sometimes
fanciful illustrations, sometimes consolations higher and holier than
any that man can give.

Thus she sat for several minutes, and why or wherefore matters not
much, nor can we indeed tell--for who can trace the wanderings of a
quick and imaginative mind?--but that fit of her reverie ended with a
bright drop upon her eyelids. The next moment, however, sweet Arabella
Stuart roused herself, though with a sigh, to other thoughts. Oh, how
hard it is when the mind, like a young bird, has soared forth at
liberty, into the face of heaven, and tried its wing at large, amongst
all the joyous things of nature, to be called back to the close cage
of the dull world's doings, the strifes, the cares, the meannesses,
which form the bars that prison in the heart. Such was her fate,
however, continually through life.

As if to make the transition more easy, however, she repeated--we may
call it sung, for she preserved, though her voice rose scarcely above
a murmur, the air of the song--the lines of some long-forgotten poet,
which were but too applicable to herself.


         "I must not love where I would love,
          I must not dwell where I would stay."


"Alas, it is all in vain," she added. "And now to the letter."

Thus saying, she drew forth from her bosom a note, the seal of which
had been broken, but of the contents of which she had, as yet, only
read the first words. Unfolding it, her eye ran over the lines it
contained, and her cheek grew very pale; a look of anxiety and
apprehension rose in her countenance; and at length, clasping her
hands together, she exclaimed, "The King and all the Court live in
daily dread of the plague; but if these rash men did but know how much
more I dread the plague of their ambitious designs, they would not
surely try to communicate the infection to me by such letters as this.
What is to be done with this thing now? If I reveal it, I bring the
poor wretch to the block. If I conceal it, I make myself a sharer of
their treasons."

She paused and meditated for a moment or two, and then exclaimed
aloud, "Oh, that I had some one to advise me!"

The words were scarcely uttered, when there was a step amongst the
trees behind; and starting up with a look of alarm, she turned round.
The blood rose in her cheek, her eye sparkled, though she would fain
have quenched its light, and her voice faltered with emotion, as she
exclaimed, "Oh, Seymour! rash, rash young man, your imprudence will be
the ruin of yourself and me!"

"Nay, dearest Arabella," he replied, with a gay smile, "neither rash
nor imprudent--bold, perhaps, to watch you as you sat here musing; but
I claim but the privilege of the sun, who looks at you through the
green leaves, even whilst you fancy yourself hidden from his bright
eye."

"Nay, but you _are_ rash, William," she answered, "rash to come hither
at all."

"I could not help it, Arabella," he said in reply, kissing her hand.
"You would not have me a traitor or a rebel?"

"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed Arabella, her imagination immediately
connecting his words with the letter she had just been reading. "Oh,
William, of all things, if you would not break my heart, avoid all
dealings with the many dangerous men who are striving for things
impossible. But you are laughing--I have mistaken you. Nay, if you
smile so, I shall call back again all my old careless gaiety, which,
to say truth, has been somewhat disturbed. If you could not help
coming, tell me what brings you?"

"The King's commands," replied William Seymour. "The King's commands,
to bid you to Wilton on Wednesday next."

"Oh, then, the King's commands shall be obeyed," said Arabella, "and
his messenger is right welcome. But how got you in? You could not come
hither from the house without my seeing you."

"I sent on horses and servants," answered William Seymour, "letter and
all--for there is an epistle, brightest Arabella, writ by the King's
own hand, in very choice Latin, as I understand, judging you a learned
lady."

"Heaven help the mark!" interrupted Arabella. "But still, how got you
in, William Seymour? 'Tis very rude of you to take me so by surprise."
But her smiles, as the reader has already supposed, contradicted her
words.

"Nay," said Seymour, "'tis worse than that, for I did so on purpose.
Dismounting on the road, I sent my men and horses on, and leaped the
paling, telling them that I would fain take a walk through the park;
but, in truth, having an intimation from a good enchanter that I
should find Arabella beneath these trees."

"Fie, fie!" cried Arabella, "you are an impostor, Seymour, and would
have me think that love can work miracles, in order to cheat me into
the belief that ours can be happy. How was it, in sober truth, you
knew that I was here?"

"Well, then, in sober truth," replied Seymour, pointing to the country
beyond the park, which was seen over a break in the trees--"Well,
then, in sober truth, beloved, as I rode along yonder bridle-way which
you perceive crossing the country beyond the fence, I turned my eyes
hither. Now, love is an enchanter, whatever you may think, who
strangely lengthens men's sight, ay, better than the best perspective
glass; and by his aid, I saw something beautiful walk slowly through
the park up to this spot, and knew it was Arabella. Then, riding on
till I came near, I parted with my company, as I have told you, and,
like a deer-stealer, leaped the paling; then, creeping quietly through
the trees, I stood and watched you as you lay, wishing that I were a
sculptor, and had power to carry away an image of that lovely form in
all its thoughtful grace."

"Hush, flatterer! hush!" cried Arabella; "I would only have my image
in the heart of those who love me. But it was not fair."

"Oh, yes," answered Seymour; "for whatever I saw or heard would be to
me as sacred as my conscience."

"Heard!" exclaimed Arabella. "What! did I speak?"

"Yes, in truth," replied her lover; "first you sat musing; then took
out a letter--this which you have dropped;" and, lifting it from the
ground, he gave it to her, while she turned somewhat pale to see how
nearly she had lost it. "Then you murmured something indistinctly, and
then you cried, 'Oh, that I had some one to advise me!'--But you turn
pale, Arabella!"

"Not at what you think," she answered, with a smile. "Now would
Seymour give a purse of gold to know what is in this epistle, and has
jealous thoughts of rivals, and half doubts that Arabella plays him
false. Is it not so?"

"No, on my life," replied William Seymour; "I might as well be jealous
of the sun for shining on other lands than mine. Why should Arabella
give me one smile, but from her pure bounty? I have no claim, I have
no right, and 'twere a needless policy to let me think you love me, if
you did not. One frown, one word, one cold look, were enough to crush
out all the hopes you have raised, and snatch the blessing from me.
Why should you deceive me? Oh, no--I am as confident of you as Heaven,
and nothing shall ever make me doubt."

Arabella put her hand in his, and gazed upon him with a look of
melancholy tenderness that, had there been a doubt, would have
banished it for ever.

"Oh, no!" she said; "though I may never be yours, I shall never love
but you; and whom should I trust but him I love? Yet before I do trust
you fully, Seymour, and ask for your advice, you must promise me--for
you men are sad, headstrong creatures, and we must ever bind you with
some chain--that you will never reveal what I have told, or shown, or
asked you--nay, even if I follow not your counsel."

"That promise is soon made, Arabella," he replied; "indeed, I should
feel the engagement binding on me were no promise given; and, as to
advice, you shall have the best my mind will afford, though in times
so difficult as these, it is sometimes hard to say what is the wisest
course."

"Well, then, read that," said the lady, "and tell me how I should
act."

Seymour took the letter which she placed in his hand, opened it, and
read. The effect upon him was scarcely less strong than it had been
upon Arabella. His brow contracted, his lip quivered, his eye took an
eager and anxious expression; and, at the end, he turned back again
and read it through once more. Then gazing in the lady's face, he
exclaimed, "Oh, Arabella! Have you ever given encouragement to such
designs as these?"

"Never, never!" cried Arabella, "not even in my most secret thoughts."

"There may be men," continued Seymour, in a musing tone, "who think
that in offering you a crown they would increase your happiness; and
had I one to bestow, out of all the world I would choose you to wear
it. But far, far rather, did I possess one myself, would I lay it down
to share with you a humbler and a happier lot than raise you to the
golden misery which ever rests upon a throne. Your virtues may deserve
the highest station, Arabella; but believe me, dearest, power is not
happiness."

"Except the power of blessing those we love," she answered, laying her
hand on his arm.

"But were you England's queen to-morrow," he continued, "you never
could be mine. Remember Elizabeth herself, despotic as ever eastern
sovereign was, ventured not to raise a subject to the throne, though
no one doubts her wishes; and, besides, see what these men propose,
that you should give pledges to a foreign potentate to be guided by
him in the disposal of your hand. Here is evidently a bar to your free
choice. Even if their schemes were feasible, or had a probability of
success, which they have not, what would you become? A slave of a
foreign prince, and not a queen. But why smile you, Arabella?"

"To see William Seymour argue," she replied, "as if such vain schemes
and treasonable folly could wake in my breast one idle thought in
favour of that which you justly call a golden misery. Besides,
Seymour, I am neither unjust, a traitor, nor a fool. I would not be a
usurper for the diadem of the whole world. James's is the right; he is
next in blood to the last monarch, and I have no claim at all. As to
what Lord Cobham says regarding exclusion of aliens from the throne,
'tis but a pretence as empty as the wind. I never can hold that man to
be an alien who is born within these isles. Nature made them one,
marked them out for one empire, and rolled the barrier of the sea
around them to separate them from all the rest of the earth, as the
habitation of one people under one monarch. It is vain to struggle
against the plans of God. Men may mark out frontiers, and draw lines,
and strive for a mile or two of barren border land this way or that;
but the limits fixed by nature will stand fast, and ultimately be
recognised by all. No, no; James is no alien; and though, to say
sooth, I never was more disappointed in the aspect of a man, yet he is
King of England, and, for me, shall ever remain so. Besides," she
continued, "do you suppose that I would give up my humble freedom for
the gemmed thraldom of a throne; to have no privacy; to live with the
thousand eyes of policy upon me; to have my very thoughts watched; to
make my very mind a slave to others; my heart, with all its
affections, a bondman to the petty policies of state. Oh, no, Seymour,
no!--if they were here before me, with the crown at my feet, ay, and
could add France to England, and take in Spain, with all the golden
Indies and their mines, I would not, if a choice were left me, give
them another look.--It was not that on which I asked advice."

"What then?" said Seymour, who had been gazing on her with love and
admiration in his eyes.

"It is what I am to do with this treasonable paper, that I seek to
know," she answered, taking it from his hand, and gazing vacantly upon
it. "It is, I fear, my duty to send it to the King; and yet I would
not for all the world bring on my head the blood of those who sought
to serve me even wrongfully; and yet----"

"If you do not," replied Seymour, "you peril your own life. Nay, more;
should any attempt be made in consequence of this scheme--should they,
notwithstanding a cold and reproving answer from you, seize on the
King, put him to death, involve the land in civil war, and cause all
the bloodshed and confusion which little more than a century ago
stained all our fair fields and desolated our happy homes, what would
Arabella feel, when she remembered that, from the fear of bringing bad
men to punishment, she suffered all these things to arise, when she
could have averted them? Shut our eyes how we will, he who conceals
treason is a traitor. Besides, my beloved, you must not think that it
is love for you that moves these men. It is their own selfish
interests, their own passions, their own ambition. 'Tis that the King
has slighted Cobham, done some wrong to Raleigh, offended this man,
disappointed that, hurt the pride of another--'tis this that moves
them--no deep devotion to Arabella Stuart."

"Say no more, say no more," said the lady; "I fear it is my duty; and,
however grievous, I must perform it. What you urge is true; did I
conceal this, and the plot take effect, even so far as bringing civil
war into the land, I should never know peace again. But tell me,
Seymour--counsel me, how I may treat the matter so as to move the
indignation of the King as little as possible against these misguided
men. It is not long since I had to tell him of other overtures, not so
distinct in truth as these, but still evidently treasonable in their
kind. He then took little heed; and perhaps, if I manage rightly, he
may deal with this scheme as lightly."

"I fear he will not," answered Seymour; "yet it is but wise to
calculate how you may follow the voice of duty, and yet excite as
little wrath as may be against those who have certainly deserved it."

He paused, and thought for several moments, adding at length, with a
faint smile, "Were I you, I would treat it lightly, Arabella. We often
by the tone and manner in which we speak of things, give them, in the
first impressions, such importance that they can never after be dealt
with as trifles. But if we speak of them as matters of small moment in
the beginning, they are sure, if they be really of weight, to find
their proper estimation in the end.--I would treat it lightly. My
Arabella has a custom, with a gay and laughing humour, to cover from
the eyes of most men the deeper treasures of her heart, like those
bright streams I have seen in another land, which, under the sparkling
ripple of their waters, conceal their sands of gold. This art which
you have used----"

"Have you found out that?" she asked. "Love must, indeed, be a
diviner, then; for never, even to the companions of my youth, have I
shown, by word or hint, that my gaiety was more upon the lip than in
the heart."

"But you have shown me the heart, too," replied Seymour; "and as I was
saying, this art, which you have used to cover your feelings on many
subjects, may well be employed now, to hide what you think of this.
Treat the matter as an idle jest--a thing of no importance--too
foolish to be judged seriously; and thus, perhaps, the
King--especially if Cecil be not near him, which he was not when I
came away--may take measures to avert all danger, and yet not think
the subject so important as to require the sword of justice. He is of
a light and trifling disposition, given to the discussion of fine
subtleties, full of learned importance and self-satisfaction, but, I
should think, not cruel."

"I do not know," said Arabella, thoughtfully. "Placed amidst perilous
rocks, the pilot watches narrowly each ripple on the surface of the
sea. Thus, in the dangers of a position too high for safety, and too
low for power, I have scanned narrowly the actions and demeanours of
men, and I have always remarked, that those who are the fondest of
trifles, and give little weight to things of real importance, are
generally cruel, treating human suffering as a trifle also. But _that_
I must not think of; the only way for myself and them is, as you say,
to give the whole a laughing air. But come, Seymour, let us go--they
will think that we stay long."

"Nay, nay, dear Arabella," replied her lover; "the consciousness of
our own happiness makes us often think that others see through the
disguises we assume to conceal it. Let us not even lose a minute of
the time during which we may be to each other Arabella Stuart and
William Seymour. The time will come soon enough to be Madam and Sir
again. They who know not when or how we met, will not look at the
clock to see how long we have been together."

Arabella smiled. "Love's sophistry, Seymour!" she said: "but my good
aunt of Shrewsbury is at the house; and, let me tell you, her eyes are
quick, her thoughts keen, although she be kind and noble, and I do not
know that she would frown upon our affection, even were she aware of
it."

"I do not think she would," replied Seymour, eagerly; "she has ever
been a kind friend to me, and, though of as lofty a spirit as any
woman now on earth, yet she does not forget that there are human
passions in all hearts, and that they will be listened to."

"Yet we must confide in no one," answered Arabella, with a serious
air; "our secret is but safe in our own breasts. She has lately caught
me somewhat in a sighing mood; and but last night, vowing I was in
love, she reckoned over on her fingers some ten men of the court; but
happily your name was not amongst them, or perhaps the unruly colour
in my cheek might have betrayed the truth. Nay, let us go, we shall
soon meet again; and as we walk soberly towards the house, we can
speak all our thoughts to each other with whatever kind words we will,
looking all the while demure and grave as if we were solving some deep
problem of lines and angles. In good truth, William," she continued,
as they went on, "were it not as well to set up some apparent lover at
the court, to hide my rash friend's somewhat real suit?"

"Nay, I should be jealous, then, indeed," said Seymour.

"That would be pleasant," answered Arabella, laughing; "nothing but
jealousy is wanting, I think, to make your love perfect. But I fear
that he of whom I thought, is not capable of raising the sweet yellow
passion in your breast. What would you say to Fowler, the queen's
secretary?"

Seymour smiled. "Oh! the crack-brained fool," he cried, "he surely
would never raise his eyes so high."

"Nay, nay, you know not," answered Arabella; "I have had delicate
speeches about bright eyes and coral lips, and verses over and above
full of sighing swains and dying swans, and all the ammunition of
pastoral love. 'Tis a perilous case, I assure you."

Seymour laughed lightly. "In truth," he exclaimed, "this is a rival to
be feared. I shall go distracted, Arabella, if you give him but a
glance too much."

But the lady had fallen into thought again, and, looking up, she said,
"This letter, and the duty that it enforces on me, weigh down my
heart, Seymour. Lord Cobham, too, has ever been kind and courteous to
me--I cannot think that this treason is of his designing."

"Oh, no!" cried William Seymour, "he is but the tool, dear girl; and I
trust that so it will appear; in which case it will be easy for his
friends to gain his pardon. But here comes some one from the house;
and now for all due reverence."

Arabella cast down her eyes with a look of painful anxiety; and the
moment after they filled with tears.

"With all due reverence!" she repeated. "Alas! William, when and how
will this end?"

He gazed upon her with a look of deep and tender affection, but did
not reply; for a servant, evidently in search of the lady, was now
rapidly approaching. As the man's step came near, Arabella looked up
and said, "I suppose my aunt has sent you, Ralph, to tell me that
there are messengers from the King; but I have met this gentleman in
the park, and am returning to receive his Majesty's commands."

"Yes, madam," replied the man; "but I had charge to tell you also that
Sir Harry West is here; and I saw Master George Brooke ride up as I
came away."

Arabella turned a quick glance upon William Seymour, and seemed to
catch from his look what he would have her do.

"If he wants me," she replied, "tell him I must decline to see him."

The man looked surprised, and she repeated, "Exactly so--tell him I
must decline to see him. He will understand the reason--Mr. George
Brooke, I mean. Sir Harry West I shall be right happy to receive; and
as I do not wish to meet with any one displeasing to me, go forward,
good Ralph, and open the door into my aunt's cabinet. I will there
receive the King's letter, Mr. Seymour, and write my humble answer to
his Majesty."

The man obeyed, hurrying on with a quick footstep, while Arabella
raised her eyes to Seymour's face, inquiring in a low but eager voice,
"Have I done right?"

"Perfectly," replied her lover; "it were madness to receive him, my
Arabella. Whatever you might say, it would be proved that you had held
conference with one of these conspirators, and, if I judge right, with
the most dangerous of them all. But see, there is Lady Shrewsbury
herself upon the terrace--let us go forward straight towards her."

They did so accordingly; but, whatever were their intentions, that
high but kindly dame was not easily deceived; and while she held out
her fair hand to William Seymour, who pressed his lips upon it with
respectful gallantry, she turned a keen glance from his face to that
of Arabella.

"Welcome, Sir Truant, welcome," she said. "So you leaped the paling, I
find from your men, to take a walk in the park; but I doubt me,
poacher, that it was not without good expectation of meeting with a
deer."

William Seymour was not discomposed, however, though Arabella was; and
he replied, "If it was so, fair lady, you see I was not disappointed.
If I had sought for a _hart_, I might have been so."

Many a grave thing in those days was covered by an idle play upon
words; but the shrewd Countess shook her head, and a moment or two
after took an opportunity to whisper in her niece's ear, "I fear,
Arabel, I must reduce the list of lovers down to one;" and thus
saying, she led the way towards the house.

"Let us go in by your cabinet, dear aunt," said Arabella, whose cheek
was now glowing like a rose. "There is some one at the other side I
would fain not meet."

"Whatever course you please, fair maiden," answered the Countess; "I
will not thwart you;" and she turned across the terrace to the left.



                             CHAPTER IX.


"Not see me?" exclaimed George Brooke, with a flushed cheek and a
flashing eye. "Not see me, for reasons I will know! Body of Satan! but
the lady is courteous. Pray tell her, master lackey, that I know no
reason why any lady in the land should so forget that which is civil
as to send so rough a message by such a messenger. Now for my horses
and my people!--Ha! there she comes across the terrace; but I were
wanting as much as herself in courtesy, were I to force the audience
she refuses to request. My horses, sir, I say!"

"They are coming round, sir," replied the servant.

"What!" cried George Brooke, in the same angry tone, "you ordered them
round as you came? See how meanness can mimic the arrogance of its
masters. The cobbler's cur flies at the beggar to whom his master
refuses a farthing. But every dog has its day, sirrah, and I forgive
thee. There's a crown for thee, to buy thee better manners, if thou
canst find them--though, by my faith, I think they are all exported."

"No, sir," replied the man, putting away the crown piece with the back
of his hand; "I take not money and hard words together. Neither must
you say more against my lady, as sweet a one and gentle as any in the
land, who never said or did an unkind thing, nor refused her presence
to any who deserved it. There's not a man in this house, but will
break the pate of any one who dares say aught against her, be he
gentle or simple."

Brooke gave him a look of contempt, and put his foot into the stirrup,
his horses having by this time been brought round; and swinging
himself into the saddle, he rode slowly and sullenly away. His
thoughts were all on fire, however, and his heart filled with anything
but the dull sulkiness that he displayed upon the surface.

"What is to be done?" he asked himself; "the matter is clear; she has
betrayed us to the King. Cobham is an idiot, to write her a letter
under his own hand, when I had promised to speak to her by word of
mouth. See what it is to trust fools; and yet we could not well go
forward without him. Still what is to be done now? That is the
question. If Grey were ready, we might act at once, seize upon James
at Wilton, and complete the affair at a blow. If not, it were better
for all of us to fly. But I must show no haste, so long as there
are other eyes upon me. Once past the park gates, then spur on to
London, and let them know our misfortune. There is time yet; for this
fatal letter could but reach her late last night, or early this
morning.--Here, Jones!"

A servant rode up; and his master, after musing for a moment,
continued, "As soon as we are out of the gates, ride to Salisbury with
all speed; find out Dr. Watson, who is at the third house from the
gate near the city wall. Tell him to come to London with all speed;
say, that this being summer time, the swallows are beginning to fly;
then follow me to Cobham House. Baldock, you away to Wilton, and offer
my humble duty to Sir Robert Cecil, my good brother-in-law.--'A little
more than kin, and less than kind,' as the player has it. Ask after
his health; and tell my good sister that the gloves have come from
France, and I would send them if I feared not the infection; but they
have lain in London for some days. This done, come both of you and
join me at Cobham House. Let each use well his eyes, and tell me what
you see. You, Baldock, mark shrewdly Sir Robert's face, when you
compliment him on my part. I would fain know," he added, in a careless
tone, "whether I should have a good reception at the Court, were I to
venture thither. You are quick and keen, remark all things, and let me
know the result. You may, if you make haste, overtake me before I
reach London, as I shall go but slowly."

At the park gates, the men took leave of their master, and rode on in
the direction of Salisbury; while he pursued a narrow lane which
joined the high London road after winding through the country for
about five miles. The moment his servants were out of sight, he set
spurs to his horse, which was a powerful charger, and galloped on over
the sandy ground for about three miles without drawing a rein.
Suddenly, however, the animal showed symptoms of going lame, and on
dismounting to see what was the matter, he found that it had cast a
shoe.

"Now out upon fortune!" he cried; "if I could reach London ere
to-morrow morning, the affair might yet go forward; if I be delayed
another day, there's nothing for it but flight."

He had to blame his own folly, however, rather than the fortune that
awaited him; and had the delay which took place been no greater than
that which was necessary to repair the little accident that had
happened, all might have gone well with him. But small vices have more
frequently ruined vast enterprises than even great crimes. Ere he had
proceeded half a mile, leading his horse by the bridle, he came to a
little open spot, where an object attracted his attention, of which we
must give some account. On the left hand side of the road was a high
bank of sandstone, retiring about thirty yards from the path, and
topped with some feathery trees, which were waving their green
branches in the sunshine. The foot of the cliff was covered with soft
turf; and, hollowed out of the stone, was a little niche lined with
masonry, having a shallow basin at the bottom to receive the clear,
bright water of a spring, which issued from the bank, and, welling
over the edge, formed a little rivulet running at the side of the
lane.

Close to this well, which some kind hand had erected for the solace of
the thirsty traveller, was seated a young girl of seventeen or
eighteen years of age, dressed in a quaint and singular costume, very
different from that of the English peasantry. She had a tall pointed
hat upon her head, adorned with bugles, a black bodice and red
petticoat, bordered with a tinsel lace, a snowy apron of fine lawn,
and some gay bracelets on her arms. She was lightly but beautifully
made; and, though her complexion was somewhat dark, her skin seemed
smooth and soft, her features fine, her hair rich and luxuriant, and
her hands and feet small and delicate. The attitude in which she had
cast herself down was full of grace, but the whole expression of her
figure, as well as her face, was that of deep sorrow, and the tears
were running rapidly from her large dark eyes.

The attention of George Brooke was instantly, as we have said,
attracted towards her; and, although it is scarcely possible to
conceive that the sight of sorrow in a woman could fail to awaken
compassion in the breast of anything deserving the name of man,
certain it is that less than holy feelings mingled in the sensations
of him who now paused to regard her.

"Well," he thought, "I suppose Dame Fortune has determined that I
shall have to fly my country, and has sent me a fair companion to
cheer the hours of exile. By my life! she is a pretty creature, and as
enticing as a royal banquet.--What is the matter, I wonder? A quarrel
with a lover?--if so, I may help her to a better--or a lost
pigeon?--if so, I'll be her dove.--Why, pretty one, what ails thee?"
he continued, advancing towards her.

"I am very unhappy," sobbed the girl, with a strong foreign accent.

"I see that," replied George Brooke; "and I grieve that those bright
eyes should run over. But what is the cause?"

"I know not where to go to," exclaimed the girl, clasping her hands
together, and addressing her words rather to Heaven than him.

"Go to?" cried her companion, gazing at her with his wild and reckless
spirit ready for any folly or for any crime. "Why, come with me, sweet
one.--I will take good care of thee."

The girl looked up in his face with an inquiring glance; but there was
in it no look of that deep feeling, that kindhearted benevolence,
which gives confidence and hope. There was the light, half-serious,
half-jesting smile, which mocks at all things, even while they are
felt most weighty; the sort of scoffing carelessness with which the
wicked strive to alleviate the burden of their own conscience. There
was, moreover, that expression of habitual dissipation which always
soon marks the man who gives himself up to vice.

The girl shook her head mournfully, and made no answer.

"Nay, nay," continued George Brooke, assuming a more serious and more
feeling tone; "if any evil have really befallen you, tell me what it
is, and I will help you if I can."

"You cannot," said the girl, "you cannot. I have left a very wicked
old man, who brought me over to this country two years ago, to sing
before the gentry and play upon the lute; and I know not where to go
to."

"But why did you leave him?" asked George Brooke.

"Because he wanted me to do what is wrong," replied the girl, the
colour mounting in her face and temples; and again she burst into
tears. Alas! she spoke to one who had no respect for, scarcely any
belief in, virtue; and his evil purposes were but confirmed by what he
saw and heard.

"Nay," he said, "you shall tell me the whole story, and if it is as I
think, I will bring you to a place where you shall be well taken care
of and kindly treated. My horse has gone lame, so I will tie him to a
tree, and sit down by you to hear your little history."

The girl offered no opposition; and he did as he said, fully resolved
to take her with him to London, under the pretence of providing for
her, and then using his opportunities as he might think fit.

All the first part of her tale she told without hesitation, that she
was a Milanese by birth, and had been brought over--purchased, in
fact, from her parents, by an English perfumer and charlatan, who had
visited Italy in search of rare drugs and essences. For some time his
expectations of making money by her little talents had not been
disappointed. She had sung and played upon the lute, she said, before
the Lord Southampton, and even the Queen; but the state of agitation
at the English Court during the illness of Elizabeth put a stop to his
gains; and he had taken her from place to place through the country,
obtaining but little repayment for his trouble. Of the causes which
induced her suddenly to quit him, however, he could obtain no farther
account than that which she had already given, "that he wished her to
do what was wrong." But George Brooke put his own construction on her
words, and as she had described the charlatan as old and ugly,
expressing great personal disgust towards him, he fancied that she
might entertain very different feelings towards a younger and a
handsomer man. What farther took place may not require detail.
Notwithstanding the urgent necessity for his presence in London, he
sat talking with her for nearly an hour, and whither passion hurried
him on, matters not; but at the end of that time a loud scream and cry
for help rang along the lane, and reached the ears of a party of
horsemen coming slowly from the side of Salisbury.

"Ha! there is some violence going forward," cried Sir Harry West,
putting his horse into a gallop. "Come on, come on!--Why, how now,
Master Brooke?" he continued, as he rode up to the little well, beside
which the girl was standing, all trembling and in tears. "Offering
violence to a woman? Fie, sir, fie!"

"Ride on your way, Sir Harry West," replied Brooke, fiercely, "and
mind your own affairs." But even while he spoke, two or three men on
foot came down the lane, from the other side, exclaiming, "Ah, here
she is, here she is, and here's the fellow who has lured her
away.--Have them both before the justice; he will put the rogue in the
stocks, I warrant you, and give the wench an exhortation."

George Brooke would now have given his right hand that he had not been
tempted to lose time which was but too precious in his circumstances;
for he easily comprehended that he might now be detained somewhat
longer than would be pleasant to him. Indeed, the manner in which the
men approached him, and the words which they used, showed him clearly
that he himself was one of the objects of their constabular
indignation; and, if anything had been wanting, one of the rural
Dogberries exclaimed, running up to lay his hand upon the gentleman's
collar, "I comprehend you, sir, in the King's name, and charge you go
along with me."

At the same time, two of his companions took hold of the girl by the
arm, saying, "Come along, pretty mistress, come along to Justice
Scully."

George Brooke, however, grasped the hilt of his sword, exclaiming,
"Stand back, fellow--put a finger on me if you dare! You are a fool,
and know not what you are about. I am a gentleman, the brother of Lord
Cobham."

"Gentle or not gentle," replied the constable, "lord or no lord, I am
sent to comprehend you, and, please God, so I will, for enticing the
girl away from her master. Draw your sword against the law, if you
dare. All you standers-by, I charge you in the King's name, give me
help. You see he has got his sword out, and may do me a damage."

"You had better go quietly," said Sir Harry West; "it is your duty not
to resist the civil power."

"I have no time, Sir Harry, to spend upon such fooleries," said George
Brooke; "I am in haste for London, sir."

"You had plenty of time," replied Sir Harry West, "to offer violence
to an undefended girl. You were in no haste but now."

"Pshaw!" cried George Brooke, who saw that he had placed himself in an
unpleasant predicament, "my horse had cast a shoe, and it takes no
long time to snatch a kiss from a pair of ruddy lips by the roadside."

"Nor to do any other bad action," said Sir Harry West; "but you had
better go quietly, sir; for if the man requires us in the King's name,
we must give him aid to make you."

"I had thought," replied the other, thrusting his sword angrily into
the sheath, "that gentlemen were bound to aid gentlemen."

"When their deeds are those of gentlemen," replied Sir Harry West; "if
yours be such, you have nothing to fear; if they be not, you have no
right to apply to me for assistance: I will go with you, however, and
vouch for who you are. Do you intend to resist?"

"Not unless he puts his hand upon me," replied George Brooke; "if he
do, I will as surely send my sword through him as I live. Let him lead
on; there is no fear of my escaping, with Sir Harry West at the head
of the watch."

"You cannot make me angry, sir," replied the old knight. "Constable,
do not touch him, he will go quietly.--What is it, Lakyn?" he
continued, speaking to his worthy servant, who had dismounted, and,
after conversing for a minute or two with the girl, had approached his
master and pulled his sleeve.

"The poor thing would fain speak to your worship," said Matthew Lakyn,
in a low voice; "she seems even more afraid of this master they talk
of than of Mister Brooke, though she says he used her ill enough."

"Well, hold my horse then," replied the old knight; and dismounting,
he approached the girl, as she stood trembling between the two
constables, who continued to hold her tight by either graceful arm, as
if they had to do with some furious criminal.

"Nay, nay, good fellows," said Sir Harry West; "take off your hands,
she will go quietly enough. Now, what would you with me, my poor
thing?"

"Oh, don't give me back to that wicked old man," cried the girl. "You
must not; indeed, you must not."

"Are you an Italian?" asked Sir Harry West, remarking her accent. "If
so, I can speak your language; and you can tell me more of this affair
in your own tongue."

The joy of the poor girl at hearing this intelligence sparkled
brightly in her eyes; and she poured forth upon the old knight a
torrent of Italian, accompanied by a thousand wild but graceful
gestures, which made the sober constables of ungesticulating England
begin to fancy she was crazed. In five minutes, Sir Harry West was
acquainted with her whole history, and had learned that her name was
Ida Mara; that her father was a carver in Milan; her mother dead, a
step-mother acting towards her the step-mother's part; and her only
surviving parent careless and unfeeling enough to sell her for a sum
of ready money to the charlatan who had brought her to England. Not
even to the old knight, whose manner was certainly well calculated to
encourage confidence, would she enter into particulars of the conduct
of her master, as she called him. But Sir Harry West had no curiosity
on the subject; she assured him, with tears, that the man had wanted
her to do what was very wrong; and he easily conceived that she had
received just cause to quit him.

When her tale was ended, and she looked up in the old knight's face
with an appealing glance, he replied, with a kindly smile, "Do not be
alarmed. If it is all exactly as you say, this man can have no power
over you in England. We do not recognise here such purchases of our
fellow Christians. The case will be different, indeed, if you have
yourself signed any paper obliging you to serve him as an apprentice;
but even then the law will protect you against wrong."

"I have signed nothing!--I have signed nothing!" cried the girl,
vehemently; "it was all my father's doing, and I do not think he
signed anything either."

"Well, we shall soon see," said Sir Harry West; "the only difficulty
is, what is to become of you if you are taken from this man?"

The girl looked down thoughtfully and sadly; and then replied, raising
her eyes with a beam of hope in them, "I can knit, I can sew, I can
work all kind of things--I hate singing and playing on the lute--I
used to love it once; and it was my only comfort when my mother died;
but I hate it, now that I am obliged to do it for strange men to stare
at me."

"I dare say thou dost," replied the knight, with feelings of deep
interest growing upon him. "I will see what may be done for you, my
poor girl; so take comfort, for this is a land where it seldom happens
that those who are really good and in distress, do not find some one
to help them."

While they had been thus conversing, the whole party had proceeded on
their way, George Brooke walking first, with the constable keeping a
respectable distance, holding the gentleman's sword, it must be
confessed, in great reverence, after he had seen how readily it sprang
out of its sheath. The way was somewhat long, and quitting the lane in
which they were, they turned into another on the left, before they
reached the high road, upon which--as it led him in an opposite
direction to that in which he wished to go--George Brooke burst forth
with one of the blasphemous oaths so common in those days, adding to
the constable, "In the name of Satan, and all the devils, is this
never to come to an end? Why, you are taking me quite out of my way!"

"'Tis but a short mile farther to Browbury House, master," replied the
constable; "and there Justice Scully will soon settle your affair, I
warrant ye."

"Warrant!" exclaimed George Brooke; "I wish you and your warrants were
at the devil. If I have any say in the world to come, you shall be
kept sitting in a pair of red-hot stocks till the marrow fries in your
ankle bones."

"Where will you be then yourself?" asked the constable; and there
dropped the pleasant conversation.

At length they approached the house of the justice, which was a good
old country mansion, with a village round about it. All parties seemed
glad to see it, except poor Ida Mara, who, terrified at the thought of
meeting her tyrant, crept up to the side of the old knight's horse,
which he had remounted at the close of their conversation.

"Do not be afraid, my dear," he said; "I will see that justice is done
to you. Here, Lakyn, you look to her; and take care that she be well
treated. I will go in and speak to worshipful Master Scully."

"And so will I," cried George Brooke; "I am not to be kept like a
lackey waiting in a hall."

The knight's name soon procured admission, but Lord Cobham's brother
was kept for several minutes in the antechamber with the constables
and Ida Mara. At first he expressed some haughty indignation; but,
becoming calmer and more thoughtful by degrees, he turned to one of
the constables, saying, "Hark ye, good fellow, there's a crown for
you, tell some of the servants to have my horse shod, while I am kept
waiting."

The man took the crown readily enough, the sight of the well-filled
purse from which it came making a considerable difference in his
estimation of the prisoner's culpability.

"The smith lives two miles off, sir," he answered; "at the corner of
the high road; but they can run up with the beast in a minute."

"Let them do so, let them do so," replied the gentleman; "it will save
time, at all events."

He then approached the side of the poor girl, and spoke a few words to
her in a low tone.

"No," she cried, aloud; "no, I will die first!"

George Brooke bit his lip, murmuring, "You are an idiot;" and the
moment after the whole party were summoned before the justice.

He was a fat, good-humoured-looking man, who seemed to reckon his
years by barrels of ale, but on whose brow sat a slight frown of
habitual self-importance. Sir Harry West was seated beside him, with a
clerk at the end of the table; and standing on his right hand was a
tall, thin man, apparently about sixty years of age, of a very
unprepossessing countenance. His white hair was thrust back from his
forehead, which was narrow and low, but prominent over the eyes, which
were shaded by bushy grey brows. The eyes themselves were keen and
fiery; his lips were thin and in continual movement, even when he was
not speaking; and his ears unnaturally large, with a gold ring in one
of them, and a topaz in the other. His nose was aquiline, and
depressed at the point, his complexion sallow, but his teeth
brilliantly white and perfect, for a man of his age. He was dressed
more richly than his condition warranted, and with a degree of
extravagance in the colour and form of his habiliments which made
their costliness the more remarkable. His ruff was of the finest lace,
his coat of Genoa velvet; and his hands were covered with innumerable
rings.

"That is the girl," he cried, as soon as Ida Mara appeared; "that is
the girl; and I claim her as my property."

"Silence!" exclaimed worshipful Master Scully; "and let nobody speak
till they are spoken to. What were you saying, Sir Harry?"

"Merely that I thought it would be best," replied the knight, "to
enter into the charge against Mr. Brooke in the first instance, as I
understand that he is in haste."

"I am in haste," rejoined George Brooke; "and as to a charge, there is
none that I know of against me. Methinks I must have got into the
kingdom of jackasses, to be thus brought by one fool before another,
for no reason whatsoever but to gratify their mutual stupidity."

Mr. Justice Scully looked perfectly thunder-struck at the insolence of
this speech; and the clerk, who, having lost one of his fore-teeth,
whistled somewhat in the utterance, strongly recommended that the
gentleman should be committed. Sir Harry West, however, interposed;
and the regular course of proceeding was commenced.

"Now, sir, what is your name?" asked the justice, turning to the old
man on his right.

"My name is Jonas Weston," was the reply; "by trade a perfumer and
druggist."

"Well, Master Jonas," said the justice, "if you ever do get into the
whale's belly, you are just the man to give him an emetic."

The clerk and the constables laughed, but Sir Harry West looked grave,
though such jests were then not uncommon, even on serious occasions;
and the court proceeded to ask the perfumer what was his charge
against Master George Brooke.

"None that I know of," replied the perfumer; "I never saw the
gentleman before in my life, that I know of."

"Yes thou hast, thou imp of evil!" cried George Brooke, "when thou
wert playing deputy devil to Mrs. Turner, of Shore Lane. But if he has
no charge against me, why am I brought hither?"

"Why, your worship," said the chief constable, advancing, "that man
with the earrings swore he thought the girl had gone off with some
young man from the inn at Hadleigh, so as we found him with her, we
brought them both."

"You did right," said the magistrate, "there was just cause for
suspicion; and constables have a right to apprehend all suspicious
persons."

George Brooke burst into a loud laugh. "I have heard of Hampshire
hogs," he cried, "and this seems to be hog law. Sir Harry West, I wish
you joy of your company, and unto the whole court a very good morning.
As there is no charge against me, I shall go." Thus saying, he stuck
his beaver on his head, and walked towards the door.

"Shall I stop him?" cried the constable; but Mr. Justice Scully seemed
to be decidedly of the opinion of Dogberry, "The watch ought to offend
no man! and it is an offence to stay a man against his will;" so that
George Brooke was suffered to depart in peace, though not without
having lost nearly three hours of time, which to him and his fellows
was invaluable.

"Now then," cried the justice, as soon as he was gone, "Master Jonas
Weston, if you have nothing to say against the man, what have you to
say against the woman?"

"That she ran away without my consent," answered the perfumer.

"That is a very grave offence," said Master Scully; "is it not,
clerk?"

"That will depend upon the particulars of the case," replied the
clerk, with a grave look.

"How are we to proceed?" inquired the justice; and he turned his eyes
towards Sir Harry West.

"I do not presume to interfere," said the old knight; "but I think,
Master Scully, I have had some cases similar to this brought before
me, and if you will permit me to ask a few questions----"

"Pray do, pray do," cried the justice, delighted to be delivered from
an inquiry which he knew not how to conduct; "I always think it a
proper compliment, Sir Harry West, to a brother magistrate, when he
does me the honour to visit me, to let him do just as he likes in my
court."

"You are extremely polite and courteous, Master Scully," answered the
old knight. "Now, sir, upon your oath, what right have you to this
girl's services?"

"Why, I bought and paid for her with my own money," replied the man,
boldly.

"In this country?" asked Sir Harry.

"No," answered Weston, "in Italy."

"Lucky for yourself it is so," said the old knight; "otherwise, it
would have been a misdemeanour, for which you must have been instantly
committed."

"Please your worship," rejoined Weston, who was not one easily to lose
his hold, "the girl is my apprentice."

"Show me her indentures," said Sir Harry West; "we may have cause to
cancel them before we have done."

"I have them not here with me," answered the man, with a sullen look.

"Well, 'tis no great matter," replied Sir Harry West; "for, according
to your own statement, they are null in themselves, if they do exist.
You paid for her, you say, instead of receiving with her an apprentice
fee--the law of England recognises no such transactions."

"Well," said the man, "she is my servant, at least, and has no right
to quit me without due notice, that I might provide myself with
another. A runaway servant is punishable by all laws!"

"If they run away without due cause," answered Sir Harry West; "but if
there be cause, I think, Master Scully, we have no law to punish
them."

"Certainly not," replied his worship. "If any master requires his
servant to do what is against the law of God or man, the servant has a
right to run away. When you brought her to my house last night to play
on the lute, she seemed very well contented."

"No, she was not," answered Weston; "she told me a month ago that she
would leave me."

"But what made me tell you so?" cried Ida Mara, bursting forth; "why
don't you tell what you said to me? Will you tell what you wanted me
to do?"

"Nothing, you fool," cried Weston, with his sharp eyes flashing fire;
"you mistook what I said; but if ever I catch you, I'll take the skin
off your back."

"That you shall never do," said Sir Harry West. "I think your
worship," he continued, turning to the justice, "that the case is very
clear."

"So I think too, Sir Harry," replied the magistrate; "the girl must be
discharged--the girl must be discharged; and if he attempts to molest
her, we will punish him."

"I have some doubts whether he does not deserve punishment already,"
said Sir Harry West. "However, as we have no charge against him, I
suppose he must be suffered to depart for the present."

"I should think, your worships," observed the clerk, in a sweet tone,
while the perfumer took two or three steps towards the door, and then
paused, as if unwilling to depart without making another effort--"I
should think he might be put in the stocks, as a vagabond going about
from place to place, not in his lawful calling."

"He is a vagrant certainly, your worships," said the constable, "that
I can certify, for he does go from place to place."

Master Jonas Weston, seeing that he was in sufficiently distressed
circumstances to have an ill word from everybody, determined not to
provoke further hostility by his presence, and consequently made his
way out without loss of time, while Sir Harry West and the justice
consulted together for a moment, as to whether he should be suffered
to depart.

"It is better, perhaps," said the knight, "to let him go. I think I
have seen the man's face somewhere before; but as no one has made a
charge against him of which you can take cognizance, I do not know how
we could proceed with him--and now, my poor girl, what is to be done
with you, I wonder?"

"Oh, sir," cried Ida Mara, clasping her hands, and speaking in
Italian, "you said you would protect me. Do not, do not abandon me.
You think because I am in this strange dress, that I am a wild light
girl, and can do nothing but sing songs and play upon the lute; but I
can do a great many things, and will do anything to show how grateful
I am, if you but protect me. Think what I am to do, if you send me out
into the world, without money, without friends, without a home. Oh,
let me go with you, I am sure you are good and kind. I see it in your
face, I hear it in your voice. Let me be the lowest of your servants--
anything, rather than cast me out upon the world again. For the love
of God, have pity upon me!"

"I fear, my poor child," said the knight, "that in my sober and
homely house, we could find no occupation for hands like yours. On my
life, I believe that you are as good a girl as ever lived, and
something I will certainly do for you; but the only question is,
what,--I am very much perplexed, worshipful Master Scully," he
continued, turning to the magistrate, who was sitting with his eyes
very wide open at hearing such a torrent of a foreign language, which
had never met his ear before--"I am very much perplexed as to what
is to be done with this poor girl. I evidently saw she had been
ill-treated as I came along, and promised she should have protection."

"Oh, let her find her way back to her own country," replied Master
Scully; "I dare say she's a slut."

"I think not," replied Sir Harry West. "All I have seen of her, though
it is not much, to be sure, makes me think her a good and virtuous
girl; and at near sixty years, sir, after much mingling with the
world, one is not easily deceived in such things. At all events, to
turn her out and let her find her way back to Italy, will not be the
means to keep her good, if she be so."

"Oh, if she is a virtuous maiden," replied the justice, "that's
another thing. Come nearer to me, mistress, and let me look at you."

The girl approached timidly; but Sir Harry West, who had no great
confidence in the delicacy of the justice, determined to cut the
matter short, and take her away with him for the time. "Come," he
said, "Ida Mara; for the present, you shall go with me; and I will put
you under the care of the good landlady where I lodge, in the small
town of Andover. Methinks I recollect hearing a high lady say, that
one of her maids is going to leave her to be married. Now, if you be
really what you seem, I will tell her your history, and see whether
she will like to take you."

Ida Mara clasped her hands together, and gave a low cry of joy; but
the old knight continued, raising his finger--"Mark me, however, Ida
Mara. Before recommending you, I shall make the strictest inquiries at
every place where you say you have been; and if your conduct has not
been what it should be, in every respect, I can do nothing of the kind
for you."

The girl caught his hand and kissed it eagerly, saying, "Ask, ask! I
desire no better. If you can find I have ever done what is wrong, upon
good witness, cast me off altogether. But do not take that man's
word," she added, suddenly, "for he will tell you that I am
headstrong, and passionate, and disobedient, though I never refused to
do anything he told me that was right."

"Well," answered Sir Harry West, "so shall it be, then; but in the
meanwhile, I do not know well how to convey you to Andover, my poor
girl."

"Why, Sir Harry," said his servant Lakyn, who had been watching the
whole course of proceedings with some interest, looking upon Ida Mara
as a sort of protegée of his own, "why, Sir Harry, if we could get a
pillion, she could ride behind me, or one of the other men to
Andover--'tis but seven miles, and the horses are quite fresh."

"Oh, my worshipful friend," cried Mr. Justice Scully, "we can lend
you a pillion. Having a house full of women here, I am always ample
provided in that sort. You can send it back to me by the carrier who
passes to Winchester."

"Many thanks, many thanks," replied Sir Harry West. "I will gladly
accept your offer. Take her behind thee, thyself, Lakyn, for thou
art older, and more sedate than the other fellows; and make as much
haste as you can, for we have intruded too long upon Master Scully."

"Not at all, not at all," exclaimed the justice. "I count boldly that
you will stay and take your noon-meal with me; your people and the
girl shall be cared for in the buttery.--What, shaking your head?
No time, I'll warrant; your courtiers are always as busy as a
merchant.--Well, you must come in at least, and let me introduce you
to the ladies. You must break bread and taste a cup of wine; to that
there is no denial."

Feeling that, in courtesy, he could not refuse, Sir Harry West
accompanied the worthy justice to another part of the house, while the
servants and Ida Mara were taken to the buttery, and treated with true
old English hospitality. In about half an hour, however, the whole
party were once more on horseback, and riding slowly away towards
Andover.



                              CHAPTER X.


We must now accompany George Brooke on his way, not, indeed, stopping
to trace all his proceedings, but merely stating that the time thrown
away in consequence of his meeting with Ida Mara, and the loss of his
horse's shoe, was not altogether less than five hours. At the end of
that period, however, he once more found himself riding rapidly on
towards London, and, as is usual in such cases, cursing the folly
which induced him to forget great and important objects in pursuit of
petty gratifications.

By six o'clock his horse was quite knocked up; and leaving it at an
inn to be sent after him, he procured another, with which, at the end
of about four hours more, he approached the metropolis. His thoughts
had been in a wild and hurried state, and he had more than once asked
himself, "With whom shall I take counsel? If Clarke be come back from
Brussels," he continued, in the same train of thought, "he would be
the man, but of that I am not sure.--Cobham is such a fool, I cannot
trust to him; and Raleigh's coldness in the business has shaken his
constancy. It must be with Markham; he is bold and decided, though a
slippery knave, I fear.--We can go on to Cobham House afterwards. Ho
boy!" he continued, speaking to the post-boy who rode with him to take
back the horse, "which is the shortest cut to the village of Chelsea?"

"Down to the right, sir," replied the man; "the first turning, and
then the second to the left."

George Brooke accordingly rode on, and in a few minutes caught a
glimpse of the Thames, shining in the rising moon.

"Ay, now I know my way," he said, and rode straight on to the gates of
an old brick house, with a garden and orchard, looking towards the
river on one side, and on the other towards the road.

Ringing the great bell at the door, with his usual impetuous haste,
George Brooke speedily brought a porter to answer his summons, and
asked eagerly if Sir Griffin Markham were within.

"He is somewhat sick," replied the man, "and cannot see any one."

"Nay, were he sick to the death, I must see him," cried George Brooke;
"methinks, however, Master Porter, that there is somewhat loud talking
in the place for a sick man's house. Go, tell Sir Griffin that Master
George Brooke wishes to see him, and must too, immediately."

"Oh, sir, if you be Master Brooke, you may come in," said the man; and
the young gentleman sprang to the ground, giving the horse to the
post-boy, and bidding him wait. Then following the porter across an
old stone hall, he was admitted to a room on the other side, which he
found occupied by some twelve or fourteen persons, bearing the
appearance of gentlemen. A large table was in the midst, round which
some were sitting, and some were standing, while one or two were
looking out of the windows upon the silver Thames, as it glided along
in the moonlight, calm and tranquil, the image of a bright and a
peaceful life, offering a strange contrast to all the scenes of
contention and turbulence that daily take place on its banks. Seated
close together, so that they could whisper to each other from time to
time, were two Romish priests, named Watson and Clarke; and at the
head of the table, not far from them, with his cheek resting on his
hand, was the master of the house, whom the reader, if he could have
seen him, would instantly have recognised as no other than the Baron
de Mardyke. The moment the name of George Brooke was announced by the
porter, Father Clarke started up, and advancing towards him, took his
hand, whispering rapidly at the same time, "Not a word of our plans,
till you hear what is going on."

"Let it go off then as quickly as possible," answered George Brooke,
in the same tone, "for I have intelligence of deep importance,
affecting our lives."

Thus saying, he advanced into the room, shaking hands with one or two
persons whom he knew, and being welcomed by Sir Griffin Markham with
great cordiality.

"We are here, my dear Brooke," said Sir Griffin, aloud, after a
significant nod from the priest, "to discuss a petition to be
presented to the King for toleration in our religion, and equal
privileges with our fellow-subjects. We have just determined to set
forth our claims in the strongest possible language, to represent the
injustice that we have suffered, and to point out that, at least, two
millions of Englishmen are deprived of religious liberty, and
straitened in their conscience. Now, I know, that although your family
have unhappily given in to what we consider heresy, yet you are ready
and willing to join in obtaining for us that toleration which you
would fight for in your own case were it needful; and we shall be glad
of the signature of any Protestant gentlemen, who regard liberty of
conscience as the right of all men."

George Brooke was too shrewd not to smile at the assurance with which
zealous Roman Catholics, notwithstanding their utter intolerance of
every religion but their own, can assert the great principle of that
liberty of conscience which they deny to others, when they themselves
may benefit by it; but as he was very indifferent to religion of any
kind, he was quite ready to support the views of Sir Griffin Markham,
as he would have supported those of a puritan, for any object he had
in view.

"I perfectly agree with you, my good friend," he replied, "as to
religious toleration, and am quite ready to sign the paper, though,
remember, I am not quite so heretically disposed as you imagine, and
am quite ready to receive instruction in the Catholic faith on the
first convenient opportunity."

An exclamation of satisfaction broke from several of the gentlemen
around; and George Brooke, eager to have the business over as soon as
possible, took a pen and dipped it in the ink, saying, "Where shall I
sign?"

But one or two of the more bigoted of the party exclaimed, "Stay,
stay, there are some changes to be made;" and then a discussion
commenced regarding several paragraphs in the petition, some wishing
them stronger and more violent, others more moderate and mild.

George Brooke sat upon thorns; minute after minute passed by in vain
and often frivolous disquisitions, while he knew that the avenging
sword was suspended over his head but by a hair. The two priests
endeavoured to cut short the dispute, but without success. What was
too strong for one party, was too weak for the other; and at length
Lord Cobham's brother whispered to the master of the house, "On my
life, Markham, if you do not put a stop to this, I must ride on to
town. The petition is all nonsense, and can never be presented; and I
have life and death under my doublet."

"I know it can never be presented," said the shrewd knight, in the
same low tone; "but it has been agreed to get the petition drawn up,
and signed by everybody that we can, throughout the realm, as a sort
of muster-roll, that we may know those whom we can call upon in case
of need. That is why it is necessary to make it as violent as
possible: but what do you mean by having life and death under your
doublet?"

"I mean," replied George Brooke, still in a whisper, "that your head
and mine, and some dozen others, may depend upon my speaking to you,
without all your Popish rabble, ere five minutes be over. I do not
mind the two priests, they are men of sense, and had better hear what
I have to say; but our safety depends upon your getting rid of these
long-tongued gentry as fast as possible."

Markham mused for a minute or two, and then rose, saying, "Gentlemen,
as there seems a good deal of difference of opinion to-night, and as
Father Watson here has heard all your views, I should propose that he
make a fresh draught of the petition, and have it ready against
to-morrow night at nine. I dare say he can embody all your ideas; and,
for my part, whatsoever so reverend and devout a priest thinks fit for
the occasion, I am ready to sign."

"So am I," cried one; "and so are we all, I dare say; but--" and, as
usual on such occasions, there were half-a-dozen "buts" to be spoken
and commented upon, before it was finally settled that Sir Griffin
Markham's proposal should be agreed to, and the company had left the
house.

At length, however, the room was cleared, the door closed, and with
looks in which the full anxiety of their hearts was for the first time
fully displayed, the knight and the two priests surrounded George
Brooke, and eagerly inquired what was the intelligence he had to
communicate. In reply, he informed them that his brother, Lord Cobham,
had ventured to write to the Lady Arabella Stuart, giving her
intimation of the plans formed for raising her to the throne, and
requiring her consent to the conditions proposed by Count Aremberg. He
told them also, that as soon as he had heard of this rash step, he had
set off post haste to see the lady himself, and to ascertain her
feelings, in order to act immediately as the circumstances might
require. He then gave an account of the reception he had met with, and
ended by saying, "Now, gentlemen, you know the whole affair; what is
your judgment regarding it?"

"That we are ruined," replied Clarke.

"That she will communicate the whole to the King," said Sir Griffin
Markham; "she did so before regarding some overtures I made to her
while James was on his way to Scotland. Luckily, she neither knew me
nor Watson, who was with me; and I took the name of the Baron de
Mardyke, which put them upon the wrong scent, for Mardyke, who was
over just at the time, quitted England for Nieuport the day after I
saw her. Slingsby and Winter, who were sent to watch her messenger,
were caught; but Slingsby was hanged for endeavouring to filch the
letter, and died silent, knowing that it would do him no good, but
rather harm, to confess his object. Winter, as you all know, was
thrown into prison as a Catholic priest, but no other charge was made
against him. I fear this is a worse affair."

"Well--now, having heard your opinions," said George Brooke, "I will
tell you mine. It is that this sweet lady sent Cobham's letter to the
King as soon as ever she received it, some of James's people were with
her when even I was there, doubtless sent over to inquire farther. We
shall hear more of it ere long; and the only question is, have we any
chance of success by going forward, striking a bold stroke at once,
hurrying down with what men we can raise, this very night, to Wilton,
seizing James's person, Cecil's, Pembroke's, the Howards', and
conveying them all prisoners to the Tower? If you judge so, I am ready
to draw the sword and throw away the scabbard. I am even willing to
put all the Scotch vermin to death, if need should be.--It is timidity
alone that ruins great enterprises. If not, the sooner we begin our
travels the better, for we shall be much improved by a continental
tour."

"I am for flight," cried Watson; "if the matter have gone as far as
you think, depend upon it all precautions are already taken at the
Court."

"So say I!" exclaimed Clarke; "the case is hopeless."

"I do not know," said Sir Griffin Markham, thoughtfully; and laying
his finger on his forehead, he paused for a moment or two in
consideration. Ere his reflections came to an end, however, there was
a gentle ring at the great bell, and all the conspirators started and
looked towards the door. The next instant there was a sound of
scuffling, and voices speaking in the hall. George Brooke threw up the
window, and jumped out into the garden upon the banks of the Thames;
but he had not taken two steps when his collar was seized on either
side, and he was thrown down upon the turf.

"In the King's name!" said a loud voice; and without making the
slightest resistance, he was led back into the house.

He there found the two priests and Sir Griffin Markham in the hands of
the officers, with terror and dismay in the countenances of all.
Brooke, however, had by this time recovered from his first
consternation and surprise, and turning to one of the men who held
him, he said, "May I request, sir, if not inconvenient to you, that
you would take your hand from my collar? It is, as you will remark, a
Spanish cut, delicately laced, ingenious collar,--most likely to
suffer from rough fingers. I would not for the world put you to any
inconvenience, but still it would be more convenient to me to have my
throat at my own command."

"May it long be so, sir," said the man, bluffly, taking off his hand:
"I have some doubts of its being so, though."

"I am sorry to hear that," replied George Brooke; "it is a part of my
property which, being the great channel of communication between the
custom-house and the receiver-general, I shall be sorry to see stopped
or cut off."

"Ha, ha, ha!" exclaimed the sergeant, who had some turn for the dry
and far-fetched jests of the day; "I suppose you mean your stomach and
your mouth--God send that they may not have a long separation.
However, I must do my duty, and carry you to London. We must tie your
hands, gentlemen,--there's no help for it."

"Nay," said George Brooke; "what there's no help for, must be
submitted to.--Did you ever see a pig killed on a scouring table?"

"No, sir," answered the man.

"I am sorry for it," said George Brooke; "it is an instructive sight.
This fat gentleman submits with all patience, because, as you say,
there is no help for it; but he has his squeak, notwithstanding.
Nevertheless, you will let us have a cup of wine before we go. On my
faith, I am both hungry and thirsty; and if you look at the
countenances of those three fair gentlemen opposite, you will see that
they are somewhat incommoded at the stomach."

"Come, come, I can't stay," replied the officer. "You may have some
wine when you get to the Tower."

"Oh, the Tower!" said George Brooke: "we are to be taken there first,
are we?"

"No, sir--first to Cobham House," answered their captor.

"Cobham House?" exclaimed George Brooke, with an affectation of
surprise. "What, is poor Cobham in the scrape too? I have sins enough
to answer for, so that my only puzzle is, which I am arrested for. But
Cobham, poor fellow, is as innocent as a sucking dove."

"I have a warrant against him for high treason, however," replied the
officer; "and I thought to find him here. But we have been deceived,
it seems."

"Heaven send you the like good fortune for the future!" replied
Brooke; "but if I must ride, the sooner the better, and if you could
spare me the gay bracelets you talk of, I would give you my word of
honour neither to make use of my own two legs, nor the horse's four in
anything less seemly than a slow and quiet procession to the Tower."

"No, no, Master Lightheart, I can't trust you," replied the officer;
"come, go to business, my masters!" and, in about five minutes more,
Brooke and his companions were mounted, and on their way to London,
guarded by a strong party of officers and soldiers.

The streets of the great city were dull and desolate; for the plague
was raging sadly in the English capital, and not a soul ventured
beyond the threshold of his own door, unless driven to do so by urgent
business. Passing along one of the once thronged thoroughfares, they
at length reached Cobham House; and, pausing at a little distance from
the door, the officer in command dismounted, with two or three of his
men, and, approaching with a quiet step, rang the bell. A burly porter
instantly appeared; and two other servants were seen slumbering on
either side of the empty fire-place. Everything betokened feelings of
security; but when the porter saw by the dresses of those without, the
nature of their calling and object, he would fain have banged the door
to, in the chief officer's face.

Experience, however, had taught the latter to provide against all such
contingencies; and the moment that the large mass of wood rolled back,
he had put his foot against it, so as to frustrate the porter's
efforts at once.

"Here, Harrington," he said, "keep these good fellows under arrest,
while I and the others go up to speak to my Lord Cobham."

His orders were obeyed immediately; and several of his followers
entered and took possession of the hall, forbidding any one to stir on
pain of death. The chief officer and three others in the meantime
advanced straight up stairs to the small room where we have seen a
conference held between Lord Cobham and Count Aremberg. The chamber
was vacant, however, and walking on to a door that was ajar on the
opposite side, the officers passed through an ante-room to another
door, which they opened unceremoniously. There they found the nobleman
they sought, sitting quietly reading in a dressing-gown.

"Good evening, my Lord," said the chief officer; "I am afraid you must
come with us. I have a warrant to convey you to the Tower."

Cobham started up with a face as pale as death. "This is Raleigh's
doing!" he cried: "the villain--the traitor--this is all Raleigh's
doing! I thought he would betray me--out upon the false-hearted
knave!'

"Well, my Lord," replied the man; "you and he must settle that
together. He's by this time safe enough; and now you had better put on
your coat, for we have no time to spare."

Cobham obeyed slowly, pausing every minute to pour forth invectives
upon Raleigh, and to give way to all the wild and incoherent
exclamations that rage and despair could suggest. At the end of about
a quarter of an hour, however, he was conveyed into the street, and,
being taken down to the bank of the river, was placed in a boat with
the other prisoners, and borne rapidly onward to the dark and fatal
Tower of London. Cobham would fain have spoken with his brother; and
George Brooke tried more than once to give the peer a hint for his
guidance; but silence was imposed upon them by the guard, and they
were placed as far from each other as possible, till at length the
barge was rowed slowly towards the landing-place.



                             CHAPTER XI.


"I must see the King, Master Graves," said William Seymour, on the
afternoon of the day, some of the events of which we have just
recorded, "and that immediately, if it be possible."

"You cannot have speech of him now, sir," replied the usher. "His
Majesty is deep in consultation with Lord Essendon."

"Lord Essendon!" exclaimed William Seymour; "who may that be? Oh, Sir
Robert Cecil, I suppose; but, nevertheless, Master Graves, I must beg
you to inform his Majesty that I am here, and have something important
to communicate to him."

After considerable hesitation, the usher quitted the antechamber and
entered the King's closet. The door was partly left open behind him,
and Seymour heard the monarch's voice engaged in instructing Cecil in
the art and mystery of removing the dew-claws of deer-hounds.
Nevertheless, he appeared not a little disturbed by the interruption
of this important disquisition, said first, that the gentleman must
wait, asked what need he had to be in such a hurry; and at length,
being informed that his business was of importance, he bade the usher
show him in, adding, with a horribly blasphemous oath, "Let him come
in, then, let him come in; but if I find he interrupts my council
without cause, I will have his ears slit."

The blood came up into Seymour's face as he heard those words, and he
walked slowly and with a stern brow into the King's presence, as soon
as the usher threw back the door to give him admission.

"Well now, man, well," cried James, shuffling himself impatiently to
the other side of his chair, "what's the matter now, that you must
disturb us when in deep consultation on matters of importance? What,
is this all?" he continued, taking up a letter which Seymour placed
before him. "The lassie's epistle might well have waited for a more
convenient season. We will criticise it at our leisure. Her style is
not amiss, and deserves correction. You may go, sir; but you must
learn not to intrude with trifles upon a King who has more serious
matters to think of."

"The lady informed me, sire," replied Seymour, "that the letter was of
the utmost consequence. She bade me promise to deliver it into your
Majesty's own hand, and not to lose a moment till I did so."

"That's the way with all these women," said James, throwing down the
letter upon the table; "they think that the merest trifle about
them--a pair of gloves, or a pot of perfume--is as much as the safety
of a kingdom, or a fundamental point of doctrine."

"The Lady Arabella Stuart said, sire," answered Seymour, taking a step
towards the door, "that the letter concerned your Majesty's safety,
and the welfare of the state."

"Ha!--what? What's that ye say, sir!" exclaimed the King, snatching up
the letter again, with a nervous twitching of the face. "Our immediate
safety? Stay, man, stay," and he opened the letter in haste.

"Odds life!" he cried, when he had read it, and before he had opened
the enclosure, "she's a good lassie, and has a tender regard for our
sacred person, with all due humility on her part. Read what she says,
my Lord, while we peruse the enclosed."

Cecil took the letter from the King's hand, and examined the contents
attentively, but with his usual cool and impenetrable look, showing
not the slightest emotion of any kind. In the meanwhile, the King read
through from beginning to end the letter from Lord Cobham which
Arabella had enclosed, without making any remark till he came to the
conclusion, when he said, "Just so, just so; this is full
confirmation."

"Perhaps, sire, Mr. Seymour had better retire for a little," observed
Cecil.

"No need, man, no need," replied James; "he's a discreet young man,
and will not divulge the King's counsel. What think ye of this affair,
my Lord?"

"The lady seems to treat it very lightly, sire," replied his
councillor; "she evidently looks upon the whole matter as a scurvy
jest."

"Ay, does she? and rightly," said the King, "as far as she is
personally concerned; but ye see when she comes to speak of our
safety, she takes up a very different tone, saying, 'Whatever affects
your Majesty, however, immediately grows into a matter of such
importance, that although I cannot help regarding what this Lord has
written to me as even more foolish than wicked, and in fact only to be
laughed at, yet I will venture to send the letter to your Majesty.'
She might have spared that word," observed the King, looking up to
William Seymour. "You must tell her, sir, always to attend to the
euphony of her sentences; and there is nothing that destroys it so
much as tautology, producing a cacophony very unpleasant to the
ear"--and turning to the letter again, he read on, "'trusting that you
will rather forgive an over zeal, though it be troublesome, than a
neglect of duty.' That's not amiss, my Lord; we have nothing to
reprove in that phrase. Now, sir, what think ye ought to be done?" and
he looked slily in Cecil's face, with an expression which the minister
did not comprehend.

"I should suggest, your Majesty," replied Cecil, "under correction of
your wisdom, that a warrant should be immediately issued for the
apprehension of this Lord Cobham. Though it is usual to call the
council together upon such an occasion, yet your Majesty's undoubted
prerogative, and the necessity of haste, well overstep such
ceremonies."

"True, my Lord, true," said James; "for if a rat-catcher lets all his
dogs run on before him, he'll not gripe many of the long-tailed gentry
that frequent the holes and corners of old houses."

"Assuredly, sire," replied Cecil, gravely.

"Do ye not think it's better," continued the King, "for him to go
quietly and secretly to work, peering into this hole, and that, and
catching a beast here, and a beast there, and baiting his traps
artificially with a piece of cheese, or a piece of bacon; as the case
may be, without even whispering in the cat's ear to take care where
she puts her paws!"

"Beyond all doubt, sire," answered Cecil, "that is the most expedient
course."

"Well, man, well," cried James, bursting into a fit of laughter; "I am
the rat-catcher, and by this time, I trust, I have gotten all the
brutes safe in the trap."

Practised as Cecil was in the ways of a court, powerful as was his
command over his own countenance, he could not refrain from an
expression of some surprise, not unmingled with curiosity, as to the
monarch's meaning. As the intention of James, however, was evidently
to astonish him, the courtier may have perhaps displayed even more
than he felt, when he exclaimed aloud, "Your Majesty fills me with
wonder--I cannot tell what you mean."

"We will tell thee, we will tell thee," cried James; "we will expound
the matter, my good lord secretary. Here is a list of certain
gentlemen," and he produced a paper, not the most cleanly in
appearance, which he proceeded to read, saying, "The Lord Cobham, the
Lord Grey de Wilton, Sir Walter Raleigh, knight, Sir Griffin Markham,
Sir Edward Parham, both knights, Master George Brooke, Master Copely,
Fathers Watson and Clarke. There's a goodly list, containing some of
the most ill-ordered men in the kingdom. Two popish priests, a
puritan, an atheist, three or four free-thinkers and libertines, and
all traitors. Now, if God have any mercy left for this poor realm of
ours, all these rats, man, are by this time in the Tower, by virtue of
a warrant under our hand, despatched yesterday evening at four of the
clock."

"I can scarcely believe my ears, sire," exclaimed Cecil. "How might
your Majesty's wisdom discover this affair?"

"Ay, that's a secret, man; that's a secret," cried the King, "and
by--" and he used one of his usual blasphemous oaths of a very
terrible and disgusting sort, "I will never tell how I discovered it.
But it is just so, Cecil; and had this girl not thought fit to let us
know the treasonable practices of these men towards her, she might
have brought suspicion on herself. You see, my Lord, that this letter
of the Lord Cobham is dated the evening before last, at five, post
meridian. Now she could not well get it till this morning."

"I found her in great tribulation, sire," said William Seymour, "and
she said she was glad to find a messenger she could trust. Master
George Brooke, too, whom your majesty has just named, called while I
was there, but the Lady Arabella refused to see him, and sent him away
with a short answer."

"Ha!" exclaimed the King, "she should not have done that, she should
have admitted him to her presence, given him soft words, and lured him
gently to display all his evil intentions and secret machinations."

"Perhaps, sire," said William Seymour, with more respect in his tone
than he really felt in his heart, "she might think that therein she
might have trenched upon your Majesty's peculiar province; for nobody
I should think is so competent to carry on such a keen and subtle
investigation as yourself."

Cecil gave a sharp glance at him, to see if he felt the keen satire of
his own speech, or if, on the contrary, he had uttered it in
simplicity. William Seymour's face, however, was perfectly calm and
grave; and the King, according to his custom, took nothing but the
complimentary part to himself.

"True, sir, true," he cried, "a very discreet observation, and
doubtless the young lady judged rightly in leaving the matter in our
hands. We are, it must be confessed, not insignificantly astute in
discovering the designs of conspirators. We have had, to our sorrow,
much experience in such matters, our good people of Scotland being a
somewhat unruly and self-willed race, with very little reverence for
anything, especially for kings, though they should know that a
monarch, being anointed of the Lord, is, in fact, God's Vicegerent on
earth, to whom all men owe obedience and honour."

Seymour merely bowed his head; but Cecil enlarged upon the theme, and
expressed without any reservation his wish that people would a little
more consider whence the authority of kings was derived.

"Wait a little, wait a little," cried James, "we will indoctrinate
them, and, if there be any sense left in the world, will show them
from Scripture on what the prerogative of a monarch is founded. And
so, Cecil, I can see you would fain know whence came our information
regarding this plot--Ye'll never divine, man. It's a secret for our
own keeping. But this much I'll tell ye, that it came from neither an
Englishman nor a Scot, a Frenchman nor an Italian, a Spaniard nor a
Hollander. Now go to and con your riddle."

"It is beyond my capacity, sire," replied Cecil, "and it only remains
for me to inquire what your Majesty would have further done."

"They must all be tried, man; they must all be tried," said King
James; "but the plague being still in London, we will have them
brought to Winchester. Though it may be as well to have the man called
Markham and the two priests fetched hither; for we would fain ask our
fair cousin Arabella whether they are the men she saw in
Cambridgeshire."

"May not that be better done at the trial, sire?" asked Cecil, who
would fain have prevented the King, if possible, from stepping out of
the usual course of proceeding.

"No, no, man," cried James, "we will have it so. A little preliminary
investigation by ourselves will save the lawyers a great deal of
trouble. And you, sir," he continued, addressing William Seymour, "as
you have behaved yourself very discreetly in this affair, shall go
over on the Wednesday morning,--was it not Wednesday, we said?--with
another gentleman, to escort the Lady Arabella to our court. What,
sir, you do not look pleased!"

William Seymour, who, to say truth, was only displeased at having any
one else joined with him in the commission, immediately replied, "I am
here only to obey your Majesty's command, and am always well pleased
to do so."

"That is right, sir, that is right," said the King; "always act as
wisely as you have done in this, and you shall have advancement;--you
may now retire."

Seymour gladly obeyed the monarch's commands; for though he was of a
loyal race and disposition, it was very difficult to keep up a
remembrance of what is always due to a monarch for his very office
sake, in the presence of one whose character as well as his demeanour,
whose acts as well as his person, had so little in them to secure
respect. He had pleasant anticipations before him, however; and the
rest of the evening was passed in thinking of the sweet task appointed
for the following Wednesday, or in building airy structures, with the
aid of those master architects, Hope and Imagination.

Alas! how often does it happen that the events to which we look
forward with the brightest expectations, which seem to our eyes full
of coming joy, are fraught with sorrow and disaster! We must not
exactly say, that the day to which Seymour stretched the longing eyes
of love and hope, proved the most unfortunate in his life, for such
was not the case. There was a far darker and more fatal one beyond;
but still the events it brought forth were amongst the most unpleasant
which had yet befallen him in life.

The morning of that Wednesday dawned brightly; the sky was clear and
serene; there was sufficient air to refresh the traveller as he rode
along; and William Seymour, followed by his own servants, and
accompanied by Sir Lewis Lewkenor, who held the office of master of
the ceremonies at the King's court, proceeded at a quick pace to the
temporary residence of the Lady Arabella Stuart.

They found her dressed and waiting for them, her servants all
prepared, and her own horse saddled, and at the door. She could not
refrain from greeting Seymour with more warmth than a mere stranger;
and, to say the truth, her countenance fell a little at the sight of
his companion; for she had hoped that they might enjoy, during their
two hours' ride, some of that private conversation which they had now
but too few opportunities of obtaining. Sir Lewis, perhaps, remarked
this difference of manner towards himself and Seymour, with whom he
had been giving himself some airs of importance as they came along, to
which the young gentleman, occupied with his own thoughts, had paid
but little attention. The knight, at all events, chose the moment of
their departure for the display of his official consequence; and when
Arabella, after taking leave of her aunt, approached the side of her
horse, in order to mount, he advanced as of right to assist her. But
Seymour took one step forward between him and the lady, and, with a
light and easy hand, lifted her at once to the saddle.

"Sir, I do not understand what you mean by this!" exclaimed Sir Lewis;
"you take too much upon yourself, and forget that it is my right to
place the lady on her horse, as one of the chief officers of his
Majesty's household."

Seymour turned towards him with a look of surprise, not unmingled with
anger and scorn.

"It is you who forget yourself, Sir Lewis Lewkenor," he replied: "pray
remember to whom you speak, and do not forget that you are but a petty
gentleman, somewhat honoured by the King, but not fitted to put
yourself upon a par with the old nobility of this realm."

"Sir," exclaimed the knight, in a fierce tone, which he strove in vain
to moderate, "it is on the rights of my office that I stand; and I
tell you that you have done what you ought not to have done, even had
you been a much more important person than you are or ever will be."

"The question of the rights of your office, sir," answered Seymour,
"will easily be settled by a reference to his Majesty. In regard to my
own station, I should think I lowered it, even by bringing it into
comparison with Sir Lewis Lewkenor. But to end this dispute, as you
must see it is painful to the lady, let me say that to me first the
King assigned the task of escorting her to Wilton; and I should be
neglecting my duty to myself and her, and forgetting that the same
blood runs in my veins and those of his Majesty, as well as showing
myself wanting in respect to him who gave me the commission, if I
yielded precedence to any simple knight.--If you think I do wrong, you
can report the case to his Majesty."

While he had been speaking, he had put his foot in the stirrup; and
now, springing into the saddle, he placed himself on Arabella's right.
The lady paused a moment for Sir Lewis to mount, and the whole party
then issued forth from the gates. For about two miles they continued
in the same order, Seymour speedily forgetting the little dispute that
had occurred, and talking at first gravely, but after a time more
gaily with Arabella; while Sir Lewis Lewkenor, on her left, maintained
a sombre and angry silence, working himself up into fury at the
indignity which he supposed was put upon him.

At length, however, he suddenly brought round his horse, pushed it
violently between that of Seymour and the lady's jennet, and
exclaimed, "My post is on the right, sir; and I will not give it up to
any man--though he be the grandson of a saucy Earl, who once well nigh
lost his head for his presumption."

Seymour's eyes flashed fire; and he had seized the bridle of the
knight's horse, when Arabella interposed. "I beseech--I entreat!" she
cried. "Oh, Mr. Seymour, do not show yourself so intemperate as this
person, who certainly strangely forgets himself, to do such things in
my presence."

William Seymour was calm in a moment. The angry light passed away from
his eyes; he let go the bridle of Sir Lewis Lewkenor's horse, and
turning his own rein, rode round upon Arabella's left hand. A painful
pause of a few minutes then succeeded; but, after a slight effort, the
lover mastered the feelings of indignation in his heart, and resumed
his conversation with her he loved, gradually returning to the easy
and unconstrained tone in which he had before been speaking; so that
the lady fancied he would easily forget all the offence which had been
given. Women's hearts are generally forgiving, except on one or two
points; and they are ever inclined to believe that those of men are
equally placable with their own. It is, perhaps, a happy error, and
yet it is a great one. William Seymour felt himself insulted; and he
was not one to pass over an insult, though he might forget an injury.

The ride onward, on his part, passed in perfect tranquility; while, on
the side of Sir Lewis Lewkenor, nought was displayed but that silent
and dogged sullenness, which rarely fails to mark the conduct of one
who feels that he has been both wrong and disagreeable.

They at length reached the splendid mansion of Wilton, to which their
steps were directed, and Seymour, springing from his horse, lifted
Arabella from the saddle. Their angry companion did not interfere, but
bowed low as she turned to depart; while Seymour kissed her hand, with
the admitted gallantry of the time, and followed her to the door, as
if he were going to enter with her. The moment he saw her within the
hall, and led forward by the royal servants, however, he turned
hastily upon his steps, and approached Sir Lewis Lewkenor, who was
talking to one of the grooms.

"I must have the honour of speaking to you for a moment, sir," he
said, with a low inclination of the head.

The knight looked somewhat surprised, but followed him to a little
distance, and then paused, demanding in a much more placable tone,
"What is it, Mr. Seymour?"

"Simply, sir," replied the young gentleman, "that you must be aware
such conduct as you have displayed towards me this day must be
accounted for."

"I protest, sir," replied the knight, "that I have stood but upon the
prerogative of my office; and of that his Majesty must decide."

"Certainly," replied Seymour; "but you have also used words with which
the King can have no concern. You termed me the grandson of a saucy
Earl, who had once nearly lost his head for his presumption. The man
who used such terms was a liar; and the man who ventures to be
insolent under the protection of a lady's presence, but shrinks from
the weight of what he has said when she is gone, is a coward. I trust,
sir, you are not of the latter class, and I maintain you to be of the
former. It will, therefore, become you to follow me, if you have no
urgent business that may detain you."

Sir Lewis Lewkenor was by no means a timid man; and though perhaps he
would have given not a little to have been able with propriety to
retract his words, yet the false laws of honour would not permit him
to do so; and he consequently replied, "I am with you, sir; but
perhaps you are unaware, that any one who draws a sword within the
precincts of the royal residence, subjects himself to severe
punishment."

"I am fully aware of the fact," replied William Seymour; "and I
neither intend to expose you nor myself to such consequences; but a
short walk after our long ride will do us no harm; and if you do not
object, we will retread our steps towards a solitary oak, which you
may remember we passed but now. It is beyond the limits, I think; and
though I must certainly apologize for the trouble I give you, in
making so long an excursion, I trust you will forgive me, seeing that
I have no choice."

"Well, sir, well! I will not disappoint you," said the knight. "It is
certainly beyond the precincts of the Court, and I am with you when
you please."

"I will accompany you this moment," replied Seymour; "we shall be
missed if we stay long,--my sword, I think, is somewhat shorter than
yours; so that there is no advantage on my side."

"Nor any on mine," answered the knight. "Shall we go on foot or on
horseback?"

"On foot, by all means," replied Seymour; "our beasts are too much
exhausted to do good service. Will you walk? I am ready."

"Your most humble servant," answered Sir Lewis; and with these
courteous words, they set out side by side, forbidding the servants to
follow, and taking their way towards the oak-tree Seymour had
mentioned, with every appearance of amity and good-will upon their
countenances.



                             CHAPTER XII.


In the great drawing-room of Lord Pembroke's house at Wilton sat the
King and Queen of England, offering a strange contrast to each other,
both in person and manners; she, in the beauty, grace, and suavity,
for which she was famous, and which won the hearts of her husband's
people; and he, in the ungainly ugliness, awkwardness, and pride,
which regal state only served to render more prominent and remarkable.
They were surrounded by a brilliant court, though not a very ample
one; for the fears entertained of the plague, which was then raging in
England, induced the monarch to keep at a distance a great number of
the principal nobles of the land. But the taste of the Queen for
splendour, and the love of the King for fine clothing, not on his own
person, but on his favourites, ensured that the most costly stuffs and
the richest hues should be displayed around him, as if for a contrast
to his own slovenly and ill-fashioned garments.

With all her popular qualities, Anne of Denmark had, as is well-known,
not only a strong, but a somewhat passionate spirit; and there was a
heightened spot in her fair cheek which showed to those who knew her,
that something had gone wrong between her husband and herself. Nothing
had, indeed, occurred in public to indicate what was the occasion of
quarrel, for the Court was merely assembled to receive the address of
some neighbouring town, the King having been induced to admit the
deputation, not without much persuasion and argument.

His demeanour to the worthy mayor and aldermen had been cold and
repulsive, while that of Anne had been full of gracious condescension
and kindness. The King had made an harangue after his style, in which
he set forth the rights of kings, and dwelt much more upon his own
authority and dignity, than upon the loyalty of his people generally,
or that of the corporation before him in particular; and the
deputation retired, delighted with the manners and appearance of the
Queen, but somewhat sick and disgusted with his Majesty, and utterly
at a loss to know what he meant by the long disquisition into which he
had entered.

The moment they were gone, James began to fidget in his seat, looked
twice round to the face of Arabella Stuart, who stood on the left hand
of the Queen's chair, and then gave a nod to one of the gentlemen of
the bedchamber, saying, in a low voice, "Now, bring them in, bring
them in."

"I wonder what nonsense is to be enacted now!" said Anne of Denmark,
addressing Arabella in a whisper, and in the Italian tongue, which,
notwithstanding her northern extraction, she spoke much more fluently
than English. "The King has some surprise in store--he is too fond of
this stage effect."

"I really do not know," replied Arabella, whose cheek was pale, and
her voice faint. "I hope and trust he is not going to enter upon the
affair of that unfortunate quarrel, which I mentioned to your Majesty.
I fear it may be so, for he insisted upon my being present to-day,
though I felt unwell, and little equal to the task. Neither do I see
Sir Lewis Lewkenor nor Mr. Seymour present."

"We shall soon know," answered the Queen; "but don't be alarmed, poor
child; I'll quiet the matter. But who are these they are bringing in?
No, this is some other affair."

As she spoke, two officers, with several halberdiers, entered the
room, escorting three men, evidently prisoners, for though their limbs
were at liberty, they wore neither sword nor dagger, as was customary
for all gentlemen in those days, while before and after each walked an
armed soldier of the guard.

"There, there!" cried the King, "bring them not too near--that will
do; let them stand there. Show your faces, sirs, so that this lady may
see them. Now, Lady Arabella, look at these men well, and tell me
if any of them were amongst those who accompanied the Baron de
Mardyke--whom you once told me of, and who has since fled from
England--when he began broaching to you treason, at a time when we had
scarce crossed the border to take possession of the throne, which
descended to us by hereditary right. Why, what ails the lassie? She's
as white as a Holland sheet, and shaking like a man in an ague!"

"Oh, sire, I do beseech you!" exclaimed Arabella, "do not force me to
become a witness against any of these misguided men. I did hope and
trust that, in dealing openly with your Majesty, as in duty bound, and
in concealing nothing, even when it seemed to me trifling, which
affected your Majesty's sacred rights, you would spare me, and not
force me to take any farther part in matters that might doom them to
death. Surely, your Majesty's own wisdom and judgment are sufficient
to condemn or exculpate them, without my having any share in it."

As she spoke, she held her eyes resolutely down, while Sir Griffin
Markham, who stood in the front, fixed on her a keen and anxious
glance, knowing how much it would aggravate his crime, if it could be
proved that he was the very first to move in the treason, for which he
was now a prisoner, and that he had twice put himself forward to
oppose the King's title to the crown.

"Nonsense!" cried the King; "we must first know the truth, madam,
before we can judge of it. Look at them this minute, I say. We have
examined them ourselves this morning, and must hear whether their
story be true. What are you afraid of?"

"She is afraid, to be sure," said Anne of Denmark, interposing, of
"being called hereafter into a rude court of justice, questioned by
brutal lawyers, exposed to the gaze of the rabble, and all those
things to which a lady of her rank and age ought not to be subjected."

"If that be all," said Cecil, taking a step forward, "I know his
Majesty does not propose that the Lady Arabella should be called as a
witness on the trial; and, of course, to satisfy his Majesty upon the
point in question, here in private, she can have no hesitation. The
King will not be satisfied," he added, in a low tone, to Anne of
Denmark, while James called one of the ushers to him, and made him
arrange the prisoners in a line--"the King will not be satisfied
without an answer; and the sooner this scene is over the better."

"Now look at the men, lady," said James, as soon as he saw that the
culprits were disposed according to his pedantic notions of
regularity, "and answer my question."

"I did not hear it rightly, sire," answered Arabella, still hesitating
and trembling.

"Then you should make better use of your luggs," cried the monarch,
sharply. "I told you to look at these three men, and say whether you
saw either of them with the Baron de Mardyke, who has fled from
England, what time he held some conversation with you in
Cambridgeshire, for I find by faithful witnesses that they were all in
those parts about that time."

Arabella raised her eyes timidly, and gazed at the three prisoners,
while Sir Griffin Markham turned as pale as death, and the two priests
looked sternly down upon the ground. The lady's eyes first turned upon
Watson, and then upon Clarke, the latter of whom had, indeed, been at
the inn on the occasion referred to. Being one of those, however, who
had remained behind in the kitchen, while she had conversed with the
knight in the next room, and had sat with his back towards her, as she
passed out again, the glance she had had of his features was very
slight. She then turned towards Markham, and her heart beat quick when
she recognised the person who had assumed the name of the Baron de
Mardyke. Immediately after, however, the terms of the King's question
came back to her mind, and though her pure, high heart dreaded the
thought of prevarication, she did not feel herself bound to do more
than answer it exactly as it stood.

"I do not see any one, sire," she replied, after a moment's
consideration, "who I can be sure was with the Baron de Mardyke on the
occasion to which your Majesty refers. Two of their faces I have seen
somewhere before, but----"

"Come, come," cried the King, interrupting her; "we must have a
clearer answer, Mistress Arabel. Take them one by one. Stand forward,
Father Watson--though why we should call you Father, I don't know.
Now, lady, is this man one of them?"

"I never saw his face before," replied Arabella.

"Now, Father Clarke," continued the King, "it's your turn now;" and as
the priest came forward, James turned his eyes to Arabella's face.

"Somewhere I have seen this gentleman," she said, after gazing at him
attentively; "but I do not by any means know that it was there--it
might have been anywhere else as well."

The King looked dissatisfied, and lolled his tongue about in his
mouth.

"Now, Sir Griffin Markham," he cried; and at the sound of his name
Arabella started with a feeling of relief, while the King turned to
her, inquiring, "Well, what do you say to him?"

Arabella gazed on him steadfastly, and then replied, "In this case I
am quite sure, sire, that this gentleman, who you say is Sir Griffin
Markham, was not with the Baron de Mardyke at that time."

The lips of the prisoner moved without giving utterance to any sound,
but he said in his heart, "If I live, lady, I will not forget your
conduct this day, and will repay it."

Arabella felt her heart sink; for though what she said was literally
true, yet it was calculated to mislead; and she loved not to do so,
even to save a fellow-creature's life.

"There, take them away, take them away," cried the King, disappointed;
for he had fancied that his skill and dexterity had puzzled out a
connexion between the schemes formerly revealed to him by his fair
cousin, and those in which Lord Cobham had been lately engaged. "Away
with them! away with them!--and now we will proceed to that other
business."

"I beseech you, sir," said Anne of Denmark, as the prisoners were
removed from the room; "to suffer me and these ladies to retire, if
you have any more such matters to inquire into. They neither please
nor befit us; and our fair cousin here is not so well as to endure
such things with safety."

"Ay, but she must stay--she must stay," cried the King; "for this is a
matter regarding which she only can speak. Call Mr. Seymour here, and
Sir Lewis Lewkenor. We must hear how all this befel."

"I beseech you, sire, let me go," said Arabella. "I have been
frightened and agitated already this morning, by the quarrel of these
gentlemen. I have been also agitated by the questions your Majesty has
asked. I have told you all that occurred."

"No, no, that wont do," cried James; "you must repeat it here in
order."

"Then let me do so, sire, at once," said Arabella. "The first dispute
was, which should place me on my horse, and Mr. Seymour having done
so, Sir Lewis reproached him for taking what he called his place,
saying that his office in your Majesty's court entitled him to it. Mr.
Seymour replied, however, that your commands to escort me were first
given to him: that his rank, and the fact of his bearing in his veins
the same blood as your Majesty, however distantly, gave him precedence
over any simple knight, and that he should think he was wanting even
in duty to you if he did not take upon him the post which you had
assigned him."

"Well, what more, what more?" cried the King, just as William Seymour,
followed by an usher, entered the drawing-room, and approached the
circle. "There were after words, I think?"

"But few, sire," replied Arabella, the warm blood coming up into her
cheek; "Mr. Seymour rode for some way on my right hand, while Sir
Lewis on the left seemed sullen and discontented. At length, however,
he came round and insisted that Mr. Seymour should give up that place
to him."

"There he was wrong," cried the King; "there he was wrong. What more,
lady?"

"Really, I cannot justly tell, sire," replied Arabella; "I was much
frightened, and not a little displeased; and after some sharp words
between the two gentlemen, Mr. Seymour yielded, I think out of pity to
me, and came to the other side."

"There he was right," said James. "But where is Sir Lewis Lewkenor!
Have you called him, usher?"

"He is in bed, your Majesty," said the other, "and humbly begged your
Majesty would excuse him."

"In bed?" exclaimed the King; "why, what ails him? He has not got the
plague, has he?"

"No, your Majesty," replied the usher; "he's somewhat badly wounded in
the shoulder."

"I found myself bound, sire," said William Seymour, taking a step
forward, "to punish a personage who thought fit to use towards me
words unbecoming a gentleman to give or to receive; and who had,
moreover, paid no respect either to my rank or station, to my distant
relationship to your Majesty, or to your own will in naming me the
first to escort the Lady Arabella hither."

"And so ye have fought?" cried the King, opening his large eyes, and
gaping upon him with his mouth, as if in utter astonishment; "and so
ye have fought.--My truly! ye are a graceless pack; and if ye have
drawn your swords within the precincts of our court, ye shall both
suffer accordingly."

"No, sire," replied Seymour; "we took care not so to offend. But
immediately on our return, we went beyond the park walls to a spot
about a mile and a half distant, and there ended our quarrel as became
us."

"Became you?" cried the King; "I'd have you to know, that nothing of
the kind becomes you at all--I will have a stop put to such things,
and no more bickering, and quarrelling, and taking to the strong hand
in my dominions. As ye punished him, as ye call it, I'll punish you
and banish you from our realm, not to return till our pleasure. Ye
take much upon you, sir, on the strength of a very distant
relationship to ourselves; ye set great store by a small matter."

"No small matter, sire, in my eyes, to be ever so distantly related to
your Majesty," replied the young gentleman, who, though grieved and
indignant, was anxious if possible to conciliate the King, and obtain
a reversal of his sentence.

"That's not ill-spoken, sir," answered James; "but, nevertheless, we
will have you take the air of the continent for a couple of years; the
warmer climate may suit your warm blood, and when we have sure proof
that it has grown cooler, we will let you come back again, but not
before; for we are resolved that such strife shall no longer go on."

William Seymour stood before the King for a moment without reply.
There was, indeed, an answer springing to his lips; that it was not in
the power of any King, by his mere word, to banish a British subject
from the land of his birth. But he recollected that by such conduct he
might blast all his own dearest hopes for ever; that there were means,
too, within the reach of those in authority to change the fate which
seemed to await him even for a worse; and in the mood which apparently
reigned throughout the whole court and kingdom, the King's will, he
feared, would be taken for law.

A hope, too, might enter into his breast, that by using the influence
of his family and friends he might shake the monarch's decision; and,
amongst the multitude of hurrying thoughts that crossed his mind,
during the single moment that he stood there silent, there came a
sweet, delusive dream, full of romance and love,--for it could not be
called a plan,--which made him fancy that, under some circumstances,
his exile might be converted into the brightest of blessings.

After a brief pause, then, he bowed and retired, thinking that he
caught upon the countenance of Cecil a slight smile, as if the
minister were not altogether displeased at the course which events had
taken, but unable to comprehend whence arose the enmity which that
look betrayed.



                            CHAPTER XIII.


With a pale check, and a faint heart, and limbs from which all
strength seemed gone, Arabella followed the Queen when she rose, and
with slow steps accompanied Anne of Denmark to the door of her own
apartments. There, with a low reverence, she left her, and hurried
back to her own chamber, where, sinking on her knees by the side of
the bed, she gave way to a violent burst of tears.

She did not perceive that any one was in the room, but the moment
after, she heard something move, and a voice say, "Oh, lady!" and
looking round she saw the girl Ida Mara, whom she had consented to
receive at the entreaty of Sir Harry West.

Arabella instantly started up and tried to wipe away the tears; but
the girl looked down, as if she wished not to see them flow, and said
in a quiet but sad tone, "Shall I leave you, madam? I know too well
that, when one is sorrowful, it is better to be alone."

"No," replied Arabella, "no, you may stay. It is but that I have been
agitated by the quarrel you saw this morning between those two
gentlemen, and by hearing just now that they have fought since their
arrival."

"Fought?" cried the girl, eagerly; "I hope he has punished him, them."

"Which do you mean?" asked Arabella, with a sad smile.

"Oh, the tall one, with the clear open brow and gentle look," replied
the girl. "The other was so insolent and rude, I could have struck him
on the spot, if I had been a man."

Arabella shook her head sadly. "All do not judge as you do, Ida Mara,"
she replied. "Would that they did; the one who gave the offence has
escaped with a wound, which perhaps may be but a scratch; the other is
banished from the realm."

Ida clasped her hands vehemently over her eyes, exclaiming, "This is
man's justice!--When will it come to an end?"

Arabella cast herself into a chair, and mused for a minute or two. Her
tears flowed as she thought; but at length wiping them away, she said,
"Perhaps it is better. God knows how it would have ended.--Come, Ida
Mara, sit down here upon this stool beside me, and let me hear your
tale from your own lips. Sir Harry West has told me something of it;
but I would hear more."

The girl obeyed; and sitting down at her mistress's feet, and raising
her large Italian eyes to the lady's countenance, she told her little
history in plain and simple language, which carried the conviction of
truth along with it.

To that tale, as the reader knows it, we have little if anything to
add. She recounted how miserable she had been in her own home after
her mother's death, and her father's marriage to another wife; how she
felt even a sort of relief when he sold her to the old English
traveller; how she thought it would be a happy and a tranquil life
merely to sing as she had been accustomed, and to play upon her lute;
and how she soon found that it was full of sorrow, and insult, and
discomfort. She told the lady, too, that when her wanderings began,
the man Weston was accompanied by his wife, a very shrew, who ruled
him with a rod of iron, and whenever he proved the least refractory,
threatened to disclose some secrets of which she seemed to have gained
possession. This always had the effect of cowing him completely; but
his wife had died in London, the girl said, some two months before.
After this woman's death, whom Ida Mara represented as little less
wicked than her husband, he sought to take advantage of the poor
girl's unprotected state, not only for the gratification of his own
passions, but for the purposes of gain.

"I must not say," continued Ida Mara, "all that I think he wanted me
to do, for his words were dark and doubtful; but this I know, lady,
that, unless the misery of life was so great that I wished it speedily
to end, I would not eat of food which his hand had come near, nor
drink of a cup that had been within his reach, for the world."

Arabella smiled incredulously. "Those are your Italian notions," she
said; "we never hear of such things in England, Ida Mara. But now you
are safe from him, and may banish fear; and if you show yourself a
good girl, and are faithful to me, you shall never want a friend and a
protector as long as I live."

"I will love you to my last hour," replied Ida Mara, kissing her hand,
"and that good old knight too. He is the first man who ever showed me
kindness in the world,--real kindness, I mean,--kindness without
guile; and I would give my life to prove to him how grateful the poor
Italian girl can be."

"I am sure you would," replied Arabella; "but now leave me, Ida Mara;
and if you wish to behold the splendour of a Court, go down and stand
in the vestibule. You see, the King and Queen are going forth. There
stand the King's horses and her Majesty's coach, for their evening
airing. I am calmer now, Ida Mara; and I would fain have time to
think."

The girl accordingly left her; and Arabella continued leaning her head
upon her hand and gazing out of the window, without giving much note
to the objects which were passing before her eyes. The expression of
her countenance was sad, and yet it varied continually, without,
however, becoming, even for a moment, cheerful. A smile indeed crossed
it more than once; but that smile was so tinged with melancholy, that
it afforded no indication of the rise of one hope, of the existence of
one joy. The changes that passed over her beautiful face were merely
signs of the rapid movement of thought and fancy; but all her ideas
were gloomy, all her imaginations sad.

In the meanwhile, the Queen entered her carriage and drove away, the
King mounted his horse, and rode out, with almost all the gentlemen of
the Court. Arabella gazed upon the train as it departed, and murmured
to herself what she would not, knowingly, have spoken to the ears of
any one, "What a sad thing it is to be a tyrant! And yet it is less
dangerous to oneself, to one's realm, and to one's children, to be a
fierce tyrant like Harry the Eighth, than a weak and vain one like
this man.--They are very late this evening. It will be dark in an
hour;" and again she fell into thought.

The course of her meditations seemed now more sad than before, for the
tears rose in her bright eyes, and trembled amidst the dark lashes as
if they would run over. But just as she was wiping them away, there
was a slight noise at her chamber door; and, thinking it was one of
her maids, she said, "Come in," without turning her head.

The next instant she started up and looked round; for she knew the
step, and it was not that which she expected. She could not restrain
her feelings, however, in that hour of bitter sorrow; and in another
moment she was in Seymour's arms.

"Oh, William!" she cried, "how could you think of coming
here?--Suppose you were discovered, what would they think? what would
they say?"

"Nothing, nothing, my beloved," he replied; "you do not yet know all
the changes that our good Queen has brought into the court. She has
banished all those idle ceremonies and vain restraints with which
every movement was formerly shackled, and declares that she will have
all Italians sent out of England, lest they should introduce those
fanciful doubts and jealousies of the ladies of the land, which they
entertain towards their own women.[2] However, sweet Arabel, if there
had been lions and dragons at the door, I must have come. Do you think
that I could quit my native country, and leave you for months--perhaps
for years, without the sad solace of a farewell."


----------
[Footnote 2: She made use of very nearly the same expressions herself
to Cardinal Bentivoglio.]


----------


"Oh! but we shall have time," cried Arabella; "surely it will not be
so soon."

William Seymour shook his head. "Cecil is against me," he said,
"though I know not what offence I have given; and before he rode out
with the King, he came to me with a smooth face, telling me, that to
mitigate the expression of his Majesty's anger, and not to let it seem
that I was sent from my own country in disgrace, he had obtained the
King's consent to my being appointed to the nominal embassy at one of
the small Italian Courts, that of Parma, but only on condition that I
set out immediately. I am to leave Wilton this very night."

"This is cruel, indeed!" cried Arabella; and the tears ran rapidly
from her eyes, while William Seymour held both her hands in his, and
gazed upon that fair but sorrowful face with looks of love and deep
emotion.

"It is, indeed, cruel," he said, "and no less cruel than unjust. But
what can I do, Arabella?--I have no power to resist. If I refuse to
go, a thousand to one, I find my way into the Tower. Pretences are
never wanting in these days, and the liberty of Englishmen seems but
to have become an idle name. I care not, indeed, for quitting England.
Although it be the country of my birth, and of my love, it loses all
its charms for me, when I see security and right trampled under foot,
and the vain name of prerogative raised above law and justice. I care
not for quitting England; but to quit Arabella is anguish indeed. My
enemies do not know all that they inflict upon me, or they would
rejoice, even more than they do."

"Is there no way to prevent it?" exclaimed Arabella. "Will not your
grandfather interfere?"

"The King has not yet received him at the court," replied Seymour;
"and it was thought a great mark of grace that I was permitted to
attend upon him here at Wilton.--No, no, Arabella; there is but one
way of preventing our separation."

"Is there one?" cried Arabella, eagerly. "Oh! take it then, Seymour,
take it."

"Nay, it is you must take it, sweetest," he replied. "'Tis that
Arabella goes with me--that she flies with him she loves, from this
hated court. Nay, turn not pale, beloved, or I shall fear to urge all
the arguments which love has ready to persuade you. Here, seat you
here, dear Arabella, and listen. I know all that it is I ask of you. I
know the sacrifice, the great sacrifice that is required."

"It is not that, Seymour," she said, earnestly; "what sacrifice should
I think too great to make you happy, and to free myself from the state
of bondage in which I live?--But how, Seymour, how can we fly?"
continued Arabella, "the moment the Queen returns, most likely she
will send for me. Nothing is prepared. We should be caught, and
brought back again with shame."

"Oh! not to-night, dear one," replied William Seymour, "but if you
consent, the matter is quite easy. You will, you will, Arabella! The
joy of that hope nearly turns my brain. Say, say you will!"

Arabella bent down her glowing face upon his shoulder, but gave no
reply except by silence; and Seymour, drawing her closer to him,
strove to banish the doubts and fears which he knew would arise before
her imagination, at the thought of the rash enterprise he proposed.

"Listen, dearest, listen," he said, "and you will see it is all fair
and feasible. The Court goes to London in three days for the ceremony
of the coronation. As many persons will be left out of the procession,
on account of the plague, you must feign great apprehensions. They
will easily let you go back into Cambridgeshire to your aunt Emily's.
I, in the meantime, must hasten to London, where I will make
preparations; for I cannot go upon an embassy without some sort of
splendour. When all is ready, I will let you know; and sailing away
from London, will anchor my ship in the Thames' mouth, opposite the
small town of Leigh. An easy journey by Chelmsford will bring you near
the shore, where a boat shall be waiting for you night and day. Then
sailing away together, long ere any one knows that you have departed,
we shall be safe, beyond pursuit, and linked together for life by that
sweet and blessed bond which confirms and sanctifies the contract of
two hearts that love. Is not this easy, Arabella? Where is the
difficulty? Long ere the news can reach the capital, we shall be
across the sea; and my going from London alone will render it weeks,
perhaps months, a matter of doubt what has become of you. See you any
obstacle, dearest? Is there any danger?"

"I know not," answered Arabella, "I know not; and yet I doubt and
fear. But hark! They are come back again. There comes the Queen's
coach. Leave me, Seymour, leave me--oh, in pity, leave me!"

"Will you, then, dearest--will you?" he cried, hastily; "I cannot
leave you till you say you will."

"Yes, yes," she answered; "I will do anything to make you happy;" and
catching her to his bosom for a moment, he took one embrace, and left
her.

The agony of parting is with those that remain. The changing scene,
the hurry of preparation, the bustle of the journey, the incidents on
the road, the very excitement of action, are all causes of diversion
from sadder thoughts; and though every hour, nay, every moment,
Seymour's mind reverted to Arabella, the difference was, that through
the live-long day, she sat and dwelt upon no other image but his. Yet
her fancies were as chequered as the light and shade of the grim
foliage in the sunshine; and for many an hour, her thoughts wandered
first to dark pictures of danger, and difficulty, discovery, and
disappointment; and then, with trembling hope, glanced towards the
brighter scene, and she drew for herself airy sketches of escape, and
freedom, and love, and joy. But in all that her imagination called up,
Seymour was by her side, sharing the peril, and so rendering it doubly
terrible, or partaking the happiness, and making it more intensely
bright.



                             CHAPTER XIV.


It may be doubted whether Arabella Stuart would have played her part
well, in feigning apprehensions that she did not experience, regarding
the plague which was then raging in London; for by nature she was not
a dissembler, and the very quickness of her feelings and of her
imagination would have made her fearful at every turn lest the deceit
should be discovered. But luckily she was saved the trouble of
assuming anything. The agitation and apprehensions that she felt
whenever her mind turned to the fulfilment of her promise to Mr.
Seymour; the emotion, the anxiety, the fear, could not be concealed
from the eyes of those who surrounded her; but, as she had shared her
secret with no one, the principal persons of the Court, as well as the
Queen herself, attributed the whole to terror at the idea of the
plague, and Anne of Denmark was the first to propose that she should
take no part at the coronation.

Arabella gladly caught at the offer, and asked the royal permission to
cross the country into Cambridgeshire, and to take up her residence at
the house where she had lately spent much of her time, till the
coronation was over, and the Court once more in an uninfected place.
Permission was readily given; and, as it was evident to the Queen that
her young cousin's health had somewhat suffered, one of the royal
coaches was appointed to convey her to the place of her destination.
All these arrangements were made on the day preceding the removal of
the Court to London; and Arabella retired to her chamber to meditate
upon her future plans.

"In whom shall I confide?" she thought; "my girl Marian, though
faithful and true, is herself about to wed the man of her choice;
doubtless she would go with me if I asked her, but it were cruel to
put her attachment towards me to such a test. Ida Mara?" she
continued; "I think the girl is honest and good--I am sure she is;
there is something in her manner, and even in her look, that cannot
deceive one. Yet I have known her but a short time. She has no tie to
me, and perhaps it were rash to trust her. Nevertheless, I must either
tell Marian my secret, or send her home. She is jealous of the Italian
girl, that is clear; and perhaps it were better to leave her by the
way, at her own parents' house, as she is to become a wife, it seems,
in three weeks. Then I must see what can be done. I will watch Ida
Mara keenly. My old and faithful servant Adams I can trust, at all
events--he will go with me to the death. But I must conceal my plans
from Emily Cavendish--she is too light and giddy to be confided in,
though she would not injure me for the world."

The morning was somewhat dull and showery when the Lady Arabella, with
her two maids, entered the coach which was to convey them into
Cambridgeshire. To Marian she had already communicated her purpose of
leaving her at her father's house as they passed, and had, according
to the good old custom, added to the girl's dower as large a marriage
present as her own somewhat scantily furnished purse could afford.

"As we go, Ida Mara," she said, "we will stop for one night at good
Sir Harry West's, if he be yet returned, so that you may see your
friend and benefactor; and if he be not returned as yet, he will
doubtless soon come over to see us when he does come back."

As Arabella expected, the poor girl's eyes were instantly lighted up
with joy; and, in her eager Italian manner, she declared that she
would go down upon her knees to him, and kiss his hand a thousand
times, for having befriended her in the hour of need, and placed her
with a lady whom she could love so well. The girl Marian listened with
somewhat of a curling lip; and, though she did not venture to make any
comment aloud, in her heart she called the poor Italian's warm
expressions of gratitude and attachment "nothing but flattery and
servility."

It was about five o'clock on the evening of the following day that,
after having deposited the girl Marian safely at her father's house,
the carriage containing Arabella wound up the little road which led to
the mansion of Sir Harry West. Passing by the garden gate, it
proceeded to the great doors; and there the bell was rung; but for
some minutes no one came to answer its summons. At length old Lakyn
and another man appeared, and if Arabella had remarked their faces,
she would have seen that both were somewhat grave. But she took no
heed to their looks, and merely said, "Sir Harry has returned, I
suppose. Is he within?"

"Yes, lady," replied Lakyn, "he is within. He has not been out all
day; for he feels somewhat unwell."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Arabella, in a grieved tone. "Is he in bed?"

"No, my lady, he is in the hall," answered Lakyn.

"Oh, then, I will go and try to cheer him," replied the lady. "Come,
Ida Mara, it will do him good to hear that you are happy with me;" and
stepping out of the carriage, followed by the girl, with a light step,
she walked quickly along the passage before the servants, and opened
the door of the old hall.

Though it was the month of July, a large fire was blazing in the
chimney; and seated beside it, with his head resting on his hand,
appeared Sir Harry West, wrapped in a large cloak of sables. His face
was very pale, and his eyes bright and fiery, with a dark line beneath
them. The heaviness of severe sickness was evidently upon him; but the
moment the Lady Arabella appeared, he started up and took a step or
two towards her, then paused and said, "Lakyn, you should not have
done this. Dear lady, I am ill!--Do not come too near. It may be
infectious."

"Oh, I am not afraid," replied Arabella, advancing and taking his
hand, which felt dry and burning. "What is the matter, dear Sir
Harry?" she continued; "we have come to comfort and console you."

"Nay, nay," cried the knight, drawing his hand quickly away, and
retreating a step: "I cannot have you stay here, dear lady. Through a
long life I have never felt as I feel now; and I fear that this may be
even worse than it seems. You must go on with all speed; and stop not
at the village; the landlord of the inn is lying sick--of the plague,
they tell me. I saw him the day before yesterday, and he was then past
hope."

"He is dead, sir," said Lakyn, who had lingered at the door; "I wish
to Heaven you would take some antidote!"

"I will, I will," replied Sir Harry West; "but you must hurry away,
lady. I will not have you stay a minute longer. They say the disease
is not so infectious till the spots appear. Of that, I am still free,
thank God, for your sake; but you must away at once. I beseech you,
not another word."

Arabella turned towards the door; but ere she reached it, Ida Mara
caught her hand and kissed it, saying, "I must stay with him,
lady!--He was the first that ever befriended me on earth.--I cannot, I
cannot leave him!"

"Good girl!" cried Arabella.

"She must not stay--she shall not!" exclaimed Sir Harry West. "I
beseech you, madam, take her with you."

But Ida Mara darted back, and kneeling before him, cast her arms round
him, exclaiming, "Here I will stay! Now send me with her if you will,
to carry the infection with me."

"Ah! my poor girl," exclaimed the old man, putting his hand upon her
head, while the tears rose in his eyes, "you know not what you do."

"I do--I do!" cried Ida Mara, kissing his hand; "for whom could I give
my life so well as you?--But God will protect me, never fear; and I
will save you, too."

"Well, lady," said Sir Harry West, sinking into his chair again, "I
suppose, if you will consent, she _must_ stay now; but I do beseech
you go yourself as quickly as may be--God send it be not too late
already. Go, pray go----"

"I will," said Arabella; "and may Heaven protect and restore you, Sir
Harry. I will go, though I do feel that this poor girl's devotion is
almost a reproach to me. However, fare you well; I fear I ought not to
risk my life, although Heaven knows I wish it were at an end."

Thus saying, she retired and re-entered the carriage, which was soon
turned, and on its way to the house of the Lady Emily Cavendish. After
driving on for an hour or two, night fell, and Arabella, alone in the
vehicle, gave herself up to melancholy thoughts.

"This is a dreadful disease," she said to herself--"a dreadful
disease, indeed; so fierce in its nature, that few who approach the
sick escape the contagion, and few who are once stricken ever cast off
the malady. It is so easily conveyed too--I wonder if Emily will
receive me. It is hardly right to carry the danger to her house,--with
all her children too,--and I know she dreads it terribly. I may have
it upon me at this moment;" and she asked herself, what if it were so?
Her frame was weakened, her spirits depressed by all the grief and
anxiety she had lately gone through; and care, and apprehension took
possession of her entirely, as the carriage rolled slowly on, through
the darkness of the night. The horses were tired, the coachman
somewhat sullen at being disappointed of his expected place of repose,
so that the journey was rendered longer in point of time than it
needed to have been, by the dulness of both man and beast. Arabella
grew impatient, anxious, heated, her head began to ache violently, her
lips grew dry; and again she asked herself, "What, if I have caught
the disease?"

At length, at the little village of St. Neot's, the coachman stopped
at the door of a clean looking little inn, saying that he must water
his horses, though the mansion towards which their steps were
directed, was now within five miles. Arabella, descending from the
vehicle, entered the house; and being known to the people of the
place, she was received with all the reverence due to her station.

"Bless me, madam," said the landlady, as she led her to her chamber up
stairs, "you do not look well!"

"I am fatigued," replied Arabella, "and have so violent a headache,
that I think I shall stay here for the night. Pray call my servant,
Adams, to me, and bid him bring the paper-case which lies upon the
seat of the carriage."

As soon as the man appeared, Arabella told him, that she had
determined to remain there the night, but that he must ride on with a
note to Lady Emily, and bring her back an answer. She then, in a few
brief lines, explained to her cousin that she had been in a house
where she feared there was a case of plague, and that not feeling
well, she had stopped at the inn at St. Neot's to see what would be
the result. She begged her, moreover, to send her back by the
messenger any letters that might be waiting for her, and then gave the
note to the man, telling him to use all speed and return.

When he was gone, the landlady, with officious care, bustled about to
provide for the comfort of her distinguished guest; but Arabella sat
silent at the table, with her temples throbbing, and her heart faint.
All she asked for was citron juice and water to quench her thirst; and
at length the good hostess, beginning to feel alarmed, ran down to her
husband, to tell him that the young lady looked very ill, and that she
should not wonder if she had got the plague.

At the end of as short a space of time as it was possible to make the
journey and return in, Arabella's servant came back, and, entering the
room, gazed anxiously upon his fair mistress's countenance, while he
said, "Here is this letter from the Lady Emily, madam, but I found a
messenger waiting at the house, who would deliver his packet to none
but yourself. He has come hither with me; but I fear you are not well
enough to see him."

"Let him come up--let him come up," cried Arabella, eagerly, and
before she had finished reading the few wild and apprehensive lines of
her cousin, the stranger was in the room.

"I have charge to deliver this letter, madam, into your own hands," he
said, "and to receive your answer."

Arabella took the packet and looked at the address. It was in the
handwriting of William Seymour, and eagerly tearing it open, she read,

"I am driven to set out from London," he wrote, "two days before I
intended; for if I stay even till Wednesday, I shall have the company
of Sir George Carew forced upon me, and all our hopes are at an end.
The ship will lie off Leigh all day to-morrow, and all the following
night. Come then, my beloved, come with all speed, and give me back
the happiness that I have not known since I left you."

Arabella pressed her hand tightly upon her brow, and gazed wildly into
vacancy. Every wish of her heart induced her to fly to him. The very
despairing feeling of being alone, sick, and perhaps stricken by the
pestilence, made her heart yearn to seek the arms of him who loved
her, and find shelter, and comfort, and gentle tendance there. "But,"
she asked herself, "shall I take it to him I love? Shall I carry
disease and death to one for whom I would willingly sacrifice my own
life? Shall any selfish longing for the blessing of his presence,
induce me to destroy him? Oh, no, no!"

"If you will wait below for a moment," she said, addressing the
messenger, as soon as she could collect her thoughts, "I will write an
answer;" and, seating herself at the table, she drew the writing
materials towards her. Her brain whirled, her heart felt faint, she
feared that she would never be able to accomplish the task; but
dipping the pen in the ink, she proceeded with a hurried and unsteady
hand.

"I cannot come," she said; "otherwise nothing should induce me to
break my promise, however rash that promise might be. But I cannot
come, for I am ill, and unequal to the journey. Even did I feel
strength enough to undertake it, I could not bear to join you; for I
have been in a house infected by the plague; and, although I will not
deny that to see you would be the greatest blessing on earth, yet I
would not purchase even that blessing, at the risk of carrying the
pestilence to you. Go on your way then, William, and may God bless and
prosper you. I will not tell you to forget me; I will not tell you to
remember me. Do as your heart dictates; but believe me, in life or in
death, yours, Arabella."

After she had done, she gazed at the letter for a moment, and then
said to herself,

"It will alarm him--perhaps it will make him come here, and that would
be his ruin;" and, taking the pen again, she added, "Though I feel
very ill, I do not think it is the plague. I am sure, indeed, it is
not--there has not yet been time. Heaven bless you. Adieu!" and
bending her head over the letter, she let the tears which were in her
eyes drop upon the page. Then folding and sealing it, she called the
man who had brought it, and putting some money into his hand, bid him
make all speed.

Without delay, he set off upon his errand, and, riding all night,
reached, early the next morning, the little port of Leigh, off which
the ship that bore William Seymour had been moored on the preceding
evening. The ship's boat was at the shore, and the messenger, entering
it without delay, was soon rowed to the vessel, where, in the cabin,
waiting for him alone, he found his young master.

"The lady is very ill, sir," he said, in a low voice; "she looked very
ill, indeed."

"Ill!" exclaimed her lover, with a look full of grief and
disappointment. "Good Heaven, how unfortunate!" and taking the letter,
he opened it and read it. The colour left his cheek, as he did so, and
his hand shook with agitation. "I cannot go," he cried, "I cannot go
and leave her.--Hark you, Williams, hark you! Quick, pack up some
things in the saddlebags.--Can I get a horse at Leigh?"

"None but the one that brought me, sir," replied the man; "and that is
well nigh knocked up.--We have no saddle-bags with us, sir."

"Row on shore, then," said his master. "Do the best you can to refresh
your horse, and send back the boat for me. I will join you in a couple
of hours. By that time he will be able to go on."

The man shook his head. "Part of the way, at least, till I can get
another," added the young gentleman; "he must--he shall."

The man knew it was useless to argue, and retiring from the cabin,
mounted the ladder to the deck.

William Seymour pressed his lips upon the letter again and again. "She
was weeping when she wrote it," he said, gazing at the blotted page.
"Dear girl, I will see thee, if it be for an hour."

But scarcely had the words passed his lips, when, through the little
window in the stern, he saw one of the gilded barges of the day come
rushing along with full wind and tide; and the next moment a good deal
of shouting and noise was heard above. An instant after, his servant
ran down, and closing the door behind him, said, "Sir George Carew is
alongside, sir, asking if this is your vessel."

"Curses upon him!" cried Seymour, striking the table. "But it is not
his fault, either.--It is impossible now;" and folding up the letter,
he placed it in his bosom, while a number of voices were heard talking
upon deck, and some steps descending the ladder.

"Stay, Williams, stay," he said; "I must write an answer to this,
which you must bear back again. If you can see the lady, tell her what
has happened. Tell her I was coming to see her, but,"--the door opened
as he spoke, and he added, in an altered tone,--"then join me at
Brussels with all speed.--Ah, Carew! so you have caught me."

"Yes, Seymour," replied Sir George, shaking him by the hand; "it was
very kind of you to lay to for me all night."

"Nay," answered the young gentleman, "I cannot take credit for such
courtesy. I wished much to have news of a friend who is very ill."

"Some fair lady, I will swear," replied Sir George Carew. "God send
her better, Seymour; and now, as soon as my packages are in, I am
ready to sail; for the King's commands are strict upon both you and me
to lose no time."

"I must write a letter first," said William Seymour; "then I am
yours."

The letter was written, and the servant having received it, returned
to Leigh, well furnished with money for his journey. As soon as his
horse was in condition to travel, he once more set out for St. Neot's,
which he reached about ten o'clock on the following morning. It was
not without some apprehensions, to say the truth, that he asked for
the Lady Arabella, for the suspicions which had been entertained
regarding the plague had reached his ears on his former visit. The
countenance of the hostess, however, was more cheerful, and the usual
bustle of the inn was going on in full activity.

"She has got the doctors from Cambridge with her," replied the
landlady, "and I doubt that she will see you, master, for she is to be
kept very quiet they say."

"But how goes it with her?" asked the man. "Is it as you fancied?"

"No, no, God forbid!" cried the landlady, "they say she has had poison,
but not enough to kill, and she is somewhat better already."



                             CHAPTER XV.


Weeks, months, and years passed away like a tale that is told; and on
their passing we shall not pause, dear reader, for to say truth we
should have little to relate, which in a work such as this would be
pleasing to your ear. What satisfaction could you derive from pictures
of a court full of venality and corruption?--What satisfaction would
it be either to the writer or the reader to look into the pruriences
of the most disgusting monarch that ever sat upon the English throne?
We will not, therefore, attempt to paint him to you, either in his
villanous efforts to crush the liberties of his people, and to
establish the tyranny of prerogative upon the ruins of the English
constitution; or, in his pitiful pedantry, erecting himself into an
ecclesiastical judge, and setting himself up as the Pope of Great
Britain. We will not represent him in his unjust and illiberal
prodigality, stripping the crown of its wealth, robbing his
subjects of their property, and despoiling the best servants of the
state of their just reward, to bestow with a lavish and a thoughtless
hand the plunder of the people upon the unworthy heads of base and
ill-deserving favourites. We will not display him in his cold,
fanatical cruelties, more horrible than the wildest excesses of
passionate tyranny; we will not show him dangling with his upstart
minions, in those sickening scenes which have caused not unreasonable
suspicions of the most horrible crimes.

We will leave the course of James I. to the page of history, where it
remains a foul blot, which not all the blood and horrors of the great
rebellion--of which it was the origin and cause--have been able to
efface. If ever the sins of the fathers were, according to the
unshakeable decree of the Almighty, visited upon the children, such
was most strikingly the case in the destiny of the unhappy race which
sprang from his loins.

We must, however, touch upon some points affecting the fate of several
of those whom we have brought upon the scene; and first we must
conclude the sad tale of the conspirators. We shall do so, however, as
briefly as possible; for this, too, is a matter of mere history, and
only one or two of those personages lived to take part in the
succeeding events.

As the plague still raged in London, the judges met at Maidenhead to
inquire into the case against the prisoners, and examinations were
entered into of a very irregular character, which were succeeded by a
special commission, the chief end and object of which seemed to be, to
set every principle of law and justice at defiance, to trample out the
last sparks of liberty and security, and to show the British people
that they were quite at the mercy of a vain and vicious king.

At the head of this special commission were Cecil and the Earl of
Suffolk, with two chief justices; but two other judges sat in the
court. The trials took place at Winchester, and George Brooke, Sir
Griffin Markham, with several of the inferior conspirators, were first
put to the bar. They were all found guilty, principally upon their own
confessions, which were probably made in the hope of obtaining pardon;
and upon all the severe sentence of high treason was pronounced. The
two priests, Watson and Clarke, were also condemned; and then Cobham,
Grey, and Raleigh were severally brought to trial.

The demeanour of these three gentlemen in court excited not a little
attention at the time, the deportment of each being very different
from that of the others, and each marked with strong characteristic
traits. Lord Cobham displayed nothing but weakness, imbecility, and
fear; he trembled violently during the reading of the indictment,
endeavoured to excuse himself by casting the blame upon his friends,
made a confession more ample, it is generally supposed, than even
truth warranted, and ended by begging hard for life, when sentence of
death was pronounced upon him.

A very different scene was displayed at the trial of Lord Grey de
Wilton. He defended himself with courage, vigour, and eloquence,
without the slightest sign of fear or anxiety; showed himself learned
in the law of the land, and by his gallant bearing and skilful
reasoning both won the favour, and shook the opinion, of many of his
judges. Nevertheless, the confessions of George Brooke and Sir Griffin
Markham, in which his name was mentioned, were received as conclusive
evidence against him, and he likewise was pronounced guilty of high
treason. When asked if he had anything to say why sentence of death
should not be passed upon him, he replied at first, "Nothing!" but
then added, "Non eadem omnibus decora. The house of the Wiltons have
spent many lives in their princes' service, and Grey cannot beg his."

Raleigh was the next to undergo the torture of a public trial, and
against him there was arrayed the envy of inferior minds, the hatred
of a king, the malice of private enemies, the prepossession of his
judges, and all the virulence of legal insolence. The conduct of the
attorney-general, Sir Edward Coke, stamped him for posterity as one of
the greatest villains, as well as one of the greatest lawyers, that
ever lived; and his speech against the illustrious prisoner offers a
model, too frequently imitated in France, of all that the counsel for
the prosecution should not say.

Raleigh displayed upon this terrible occasion all those powers of mind
which distinguished him through life; and he also showed much temper
and moderation in reply to the virulent abuse of Coke. The evidence
upon which he was condemned--namely, a vague and unsatisfactory
confession of Lord Cobham, unsigned, taken down from word of mouth,
and recanted in the most solemn manner by a letter to Raleigh himself,
and the testimony of a man named Dyer, who swore that a stranger in
Lisbon had said to him, that the King would never be crowned, for Don
Raleigh and Don Cobham would first cut his throat--would of course
never be even heard in a court of justice, in the present day; and yet
this was all that could be brought against him. But it was found
sufficient in the minds of the judges; and, although Raleigh demanded
that Lord Cobham should be confronted with him, and urged that no man
could be condemned upon the written testimony of only one witness, he
was found guilty of high treason, and condemned to death. All that the
prisoner required, after the verdict was given, was, that the King
should be requested that his death might be an honourable and not an
ignominious one. He hinted, however, a desire that his execution
should be delayed till after Cobham's, probably in the hope that on
the scaffold itself his former friend would do him justice, and
declare his innocence with his dying breath.

After the trials, the Court and the country were all eager to know,
what would be the conduct of the King, with whom alone the fate of the
prisoners now remained; but James, following the usual principles of
his kingcraft, kept his determinations to his own bosom, suffering not
even his most favourite counsellors to know whether he would show
lenity or severity. The crimes proved against George Brooke, and his
general bad reputation, decided his fate, and he suffered the full
penalties of high treason in the month of November, 1603. He died in
the same bold and careless manner in which he had lived, apparently
without either fear or regret; and the whole country seems to have
approved of the firmness of the King in carrying his sentence into
execution.

Different feelings, however, were entertained in regard to the two
priests, Watson and Clarke, who suffered nearly at the same time.
Neither of them showed the slightest want of courage, and Clarke
boldly proclaimed on the scaffold, that he was a martyr to his
religious faith. The Roman Catholics of course exalted their virtues
and their devotion, and cried out against the severity with which they
were treated by a monarch who had flattered the Papists with false
hopes of toleration.

These three executions, however, created great alarm amongst the
friends of the other prisoners; and various efforts were made to avert
their fate by petition and solicitation. Still James remained silent
and unmoved, the day appointed for the punishment of Cobham, Grey, and
Markham approached rapidly, and at length the death-warrant was sent
down to Winchester, and another was signed for the execution of
Raleigh on the Monday following, three days after the period appointed
for the fate of his fellow-prisoners. Markham received some reason to
hope, from private friends at the Court, that his life would be
spared, but the two peers and Raleigh were directed to prepare
themselves for certain death. The Bishop of Chichester and the Bishop
of Winchester remained constantly with Lord Cobham and Sir Walter
Raleigh, having been instructed by the King not only to give them
religious consolation, but to induce them to make a full confession,
with a view, it would appear, of reconciling the discrepancy of their
statements.

If this was the monarch's object, however, no success was obtained;
for while the weak and imbecile Lord Cobham once more varied in his
statements, and re-asserted all that he had previously laid to the
charge of Raleigh, the knight firmly maintained his innocence, and
varied not in the least from his former account.

At length, on the Friday appointed for the execution, Markham was
brought out of the castle, at ten o'clock in the morning, to the
scaffold erected on the green. Finding all the preparations for the
work of death ready, he complained bitterly of having been deluded
with false hopes, admitted that he had listened but little to the
exhortations of the priests, having been always assured that he would
receive a pardon, and added that he was in no degree prepared to die.

Nevertheless, he displayed no want of courage, but calmly took leave
of some of his friends who stood near the scaffold; but one of them
having given him a handkerchief to cover his eyes, he threw it
indignantly from him, saying that he could look death in the face
without blushing. He then crossed himself, knelt, and prayed; after
which he stripped off his doublet, and turned back the collar of his
shirt, that his neck might receive the blow of the axe unimpeded.
Whilst he was performing this last sad ceremony, a Scotch gentleman,
of the name of John Gibb, groom of the bedchamber to the king,
approached the scaffold from the side of the castle, and called the
sheriff down to speak with him. Their conversation seemed long to the
spectators, and probably not less so to the unfortunate Markham, who
remained with his neck and shoulders bare, waiting for the order to
lay his head upon the block. At length Sir Benjamin Tichborne, the
sheriff, returned, and addressing the prisoner, said, "Sir, since you
tell me that you are so ill-prepared for death, having been led by
false hopes that your life would be spared, I take upon me, after
consultation with a gentleman attached to the king, to grant you two
hours' respite, that you may reconcile yourself, if possible, to God
before you die.--Follow me."

Hastily covering his throat, and resuming his garments, with his whole
brain whirling and his heart full of doubt and uncertainty, Markham
followed the sheriff from the scaffold, and was conducted to the wide
old stone chamber known in those days as Prince Arthur's Hall, where,
the door being locked, he was left to meditate in solitude, without
even the presence of a priest to afford him consolation, or encourage
him to hope.

In the meanwhile, Lord Grey de Wilton was led to the scaffold,
accompanied by a Puritan minister of the name of Field, and a large
troop of noble friends. His countenance was gay and smiling, his whole
demeanour easy and unaffected; and after Field had prayed for some
time, the young lord addressed the people in an eloquent speech, full
of deep religious feeling, and confidence in the mercy of God. He
looked, says one of the authors of that day, more like a bridegroom
than a condemned criminal.

In the midst of his speech, however, he was interrupted by the
sheriff, who informed him that he had the king's command to stay the
order of the execution, and to behead Lord Cobham first. With much
surprise, and with no expression of satisfaction, Lord Grey, whose
mind was perfectly made up to his fate, suffered himself to be led
back to the castle, where he also was locked up in Prince Arthur's
Hall, to converse with Sir Griffin Markham upon their strange
situation. Lord Cobham was next brought upon the scene, and he also
went through the same ceremony of prayer and preparation for the
block. He showed none of that timidity and want of resolution, now
that his fate was decided, which he had displayed while it seemed
doubtful, but maintained that what he had said of Sir Walter Raleigh
was true, though, as some writers have justly observed, no one could
tell what he did really wish to impute and what he did not, as,
amongst his various confessions and retractions, there was no one part
that did not contradict another.

As he was about to kneel down to receive the stroke of the axe, the
sheriff stopped him, saying, that he had orders to confront him, even
at that last hour, with some of the other conspirators; and a message
having been sent into the castle, Lord Grey and Sir Griffin Markham
were brought back to the scaffold, where Sir Benjamin Tichborne
addressed them in a long speech, inquiring whether they did not
confess they were justly condemned, and merited death.

To this they assented, without reserve, and the sheriff announced to
them that the king, in his great mercy, had determined to spare their
lives. A full pardon, however, was not given; and Lords Cobham and
Grey were destined to endure a long and painful imprisonment,
terminated in the case of the first by his escape being connived at,
and he himself allowed to drag out a few years in the most abject
poverty and misery, till a wretched death, hastened by actual want,
filth, and wretchedness, terminated the sorrows of a man who not long
before had been one of the most wealthy peers of the realm. The proud
and eager spirit of Lord Grey brought his career to an earlier close;
and that most common of all diseases, which has obtained--why or
wherefore I know not--the name of a broken heart, terminated his
sufferings a few years after. Markham and several of the inferior
conspirators were banished from the realm; and of one of them, at
least, we shall have to speak hereafter. Raleigh, as all the world
knows, was suffered to languish in prison for many years, with a
capital sentence hanging over his head, and destined in the end to be
one of the most illustrious victims to the tyranny and injustice of a
base and low-minded king.

Thus did James contrive even with mercy to mingle tyranny, to deprive
apparent clemency of all real lenity, and to display the pitiful
frivolity of his nature in the solemn exercise of his holiest and his
highest prerogative. There were not one of those, except Markham, whom
he reprieved at Winchester, to whom immediate death would not have
been pity, compared with the fate for which he reserved them; and yet
the country rang with applause even while the spirit of historic truth
stamped the act with the infamous brand it deserves.



                             CHAPTER XVI.


Such, then, as we have seen in the last chapter, was the termination
of the conspiracy in which the name of Arabella Stuart was employed by
bad men, for their own purposes, without her own will or consent. But
what had in the meantime become of that sweet girl herself, whom we
left at the inn at St. Neot's, ill in body and in mind. Several days
passed before she recovered entirely, and the learned physicians who
had been called from Cambridge to attend upon her, asserted that she
had undoubtedly partaken of some poisonous substance.

Arabella herself was incredulous, and attributed in her own mind the
fit of sickness which had overtaken her, to the care and anxiety which
she had previously endured. But the learned doctors assured her that
perhaps it might be a fortunate event she had taken this poison, as,
under the good management with which she had been treated, it would
act as an antidote against the infection of the plague, which in all
probability she would otherwise have caught, as the case of Sir Harry
West was undoubtedly one of a pestilential character.

In the meantime, at the old Manor House at Bourne, the good knight lay
upon a bed of sickness: and in the close and heated room, watching the
death-like countenance, bathing the burning brow with the essences
used in those days, holding the refreshing cup to the parched lip, and
smoothing the rough pillow of fever, day and night, sleepless,
tearless, noiseless, sat Ida Mara, repaying with devotion unto death
the first benefit that she had received at the hands of man. And he
felt all her kindness; he would gaze in her face with almost the
tenderness of a father, and, could he have shed tears, his eyes would
often have filled, as he thought that, in a few short days, she might
be lying in the same burning agony that he then felt, or that fair
form might be blighted, and given up to the corruption of the grave,
as the consequence of her efforts to save him. It was not alone that
he saw she mingled skill with kindness--that with her own hands she
made drinks for him which tasted grateful even to his parched tongue,
that he seemed to obtain relief from many of the simples that she
prepared, and that it was evident that she had learned not a little of
the best part of the healing art while in the house of the
Druggist--it was not this alone which made him willingly take all that
she administered, and obey her lightest word, as if she were old and
he were young; but it was that he would not give her an instant's pain
or uneasiness in the course of her anxious attendance; and even in the
delirium which at length came on, her voice would soothe him, her
entreaties keep him tranquil, when no effect was produced by either
those of his old servant Lakyn, or those of the good housekeeper Dame
Cicely, who were the only persons that would venture to remain in the
house as soon as it was discovered that the disease was really the
plague.

At first, when the poor Italian girl was left behind by Arabella, the
housekeeper had shown some indignation at what she considered the
intrusion of a stranger, and had ventured upon more than one, "Marry
come up!" with the word "Minx!" muttered in a low tone, so that her
good master could not hear it.

A short conversation, however, with Matthew Lakyn a good deal
mitigated her anger, and when she witnessed the anxious care of Ida
Mara for the old knight, and saw her wipe the tears of apprehension
from her eyes, when sometimes she quitted his chamber for an instant,
she could not help saying to herself, "Well, thou art a good creature,
and a devout. There are not many like thee in thy country, I'll
warrant. Thou art almost as kind as if thou wert English bred and
born."

At length came the climax of the disease; and during a long and
fearful night, Ida Mara knelt by the bedside of her benefactor,
pouring forth low murmured prayers in her own tongue to the great
Physician who alone can cure. The old man was no longer sensible to
anything that was said, and though he talked continually, it was but
with the mutterings of delirium, while his eye ranged coldly round the
chamber, and seemed to see strange sights. Often Ida Mara held his
hand in hers, and often put her small fingers on the pulse, till at
length, towards morning, she ran down to Lakyn, who had left the room
about half an hour, and said, "He must have wine!"

"What, girl," cried the old housekeeper, "in the plague?"

"Ay," said Ida Mara, "he must have wine!--The change has come on, his
pulse is low and faint, if he have not wine now, he will be dead ere
six hours be over. Little, and that cautiously, must be given; but he
must have it, if you would save him."

Dame Cicely looked at the old servant, and the old servant at her; but
the girl spoke in a tone of authority, and Lakyn answered, "I had
better give it her; wine is a good thing at all times, and if that
wont save him I fear nothing will.--What shall it be, my dear,--sack?"

"No, no," cried the girl, "no fiery wine; neither sack nor Burgundy."

"Good soft wine of Bordeaux," replied the old man; "I will fetch it in
a minute."

"Why, where learned you all this leechcraft?" asked Dame Cicely, while
he ran down into the cellar.

"In part from the bad man from whom my benefactor delivered me,"
answered Ida Mara; "but it was of the plague my mother died; and a
good and great mediciner of my native town afterwards told me, what we
should have done to save her.--Oh, here is the wine. Now give me one
of those spoons--that one, that one."

"What matters it, girl?" said the old housekeeper, reaching the spoon
to gratify her.

"Do you not see," said Ida Mara, "this has got the image of St. Luke,
the good physician, upon it?" and while the old housekeeper called her
a poor benighted papist, the girl hastened back to the bedside of the
old knight, and from time to time moistened his lips with the wine.

Just as the day dawned fully in the sky, Sir Harry West closed his
eyes, and fell into a gentle sleep, and when the housekeeper stole in,
about an hour after, she found him still in the same, while Ida Mara,
kneeling by his bedside, and utterly exhausted by long watching, had
suffered her fair head to droop forward on the bed clothes, and was
buried in slumber also.

She withdrew without waking them, and till nearly noon the knight
remained asleep. When he woke, all delirium was gone, and, though
reduced to infant weakness, he was evidently better. His amendment was
steady though slow, but would probably have been more rapid had it not
been for the apprehensions he felt for his tender nurse, on whose
cheek the rose had become somewhat pale, and whose eye had grown dim
and heavy. These, however, were only the natural effects of anxiety
and watching; and as soon as she could leave him, to enjoy the breath
of the free air, her colour and her health returned.

It is a curious fact, indeed, but one not by any means rare in cases
of pestilential disease, that none of those who remained with the old
knight during his sickness, and saw him continually during the whole
course of the malady, were infected by it; while three of the
servants, who fled from the house after seeing their master only for a
few minutes, were stricken with the plague, and died in the
neighbouring hamlets, carrying the disease with them to the cottages
of their relations. A firm and steadfast mind is one of the best
preservatives against pestilence, as well as against many another
evil.

For some months the house was shunned; and it was not till the plague
began to disappear from England, that Ida Mara ventured to return to
her fair mistress. She did not do so, however, without being rendered
by the act of Harry West independent of human caprice. He could,
indeed, have found it in his heart never to part with her; but
evil-tongues were as prevalent in those days as in our own, and even
age and respectability cannot hope for impunity from the malice or
folly of men. He thought, too, that it would be better for the devoted
girl herself to be about the person of one so kind and good as
Arabella Stuart; and by settling upon her, with all legal form, a
hundred crowns a year--then a considerable sum--he secured her against
any change in the favour or fortunes of her mistress.

Arabella welcomed her back with great satisfaction, and never from
that moment ceased to regard her with affection and esteem. The deep
and fearless devotion which she had displayed, was of a character to
touch most powerfully the heart of one, who knew how much such sincere
attachment is needed by persons in high stations, and how seldom it is
found. She was no longer considered as her servant; but more as her
companion and her friend, in all those circumstances in which her
inferior rank suffered her to take a part; and great was the
consolation and comfort to Arabella herself, in all the pains, and
cares, and anxieties of a Court, to have one always near her, on whose
truth, sincerity, and regard she could fully rely.

The reader, learned in the history of those times, will know that, to
a high-toned mind and feeling heart, the Court of England, under the
reign of James I., was a place of constant trial, anxiety, and grief.
Even had not the sickening selfishness, vulgarity, and wickedness of
the King himself, affected greatly the comfort of all around him, the
lightness of the Queen's manners, though perhaps not running to
criminality, and the encouragement given to vice of every kind,
rendered the palace a painful as well as disgusting abode, for any one
of a pure spirit.[3] The freedom, indeed, from all those formal
restraints which are, in fact, the shackles that vice imposes upon
virtue, might prove not disagreeable, even to a noble mind like that
of Arabella Stuart. To go whithersoever she would, unwatched and
uncensured; to see whomsoever she would, without care or without fear;
to be as free in her actions as her own principles would admit, could
never be productive of any harm in one who sought not to abuse such
liberty. But it was remarked of her, that unless when obliged to do
so, as one of the Queen's train, she rarely, if ever, adopted the much
misused habit of the day, in wearing a mask when travelling, or
walking abroad. She wished her actions to be as free as the sunshine,
but as open also.


----------

[Footnote 3: I need only cite the instance of Lady Rich, who was one
of the public and favourite companions of Anne of Denmark, while
undergoing the ordeal of the ecclesiastical courts on the charge of
notorious adultery, fully established against her.]

----------


In the meantime, a number of important events occurred, which require
but brief notice here.

The quarrels of the King with his Parliament, his efforts to tread
under foot the right of his people, his persecution of the Puritans,
his bad faith with the Roman Catholics, the rise and discovery of the
famous gunpowder plot, and the well merited execution of the
diabolical conspirators, are all matters irrelevant to this history.

Not so, however, the advance in favour of one of the first minions
whom the King thought fit to honour in England, Robert Carr,
afterwards Earl of Rochester, one of the most despicable of those who
were proud to fill the infamous place of king's favourite. This man,
by birth a Scotchman, had passed some time in France, and had added
the advantages of a graceful carriage, and good taste and skill in
dress, to that of a remarkably handsome person. He was first
introduced to the court of England by the Lord Dingwall, who selected
him as his esquire at one of the tilting matches of the day. Some have
supposed that he was purposely brought into such a situation, in order
to attract the attention of the king, whose fondness for handsome and
well-dressed minions was notorious. However that may be, Carr, in
presenting to the king, according to custom, the shield and device of
his knight, was thrown, in descending from his horse, at the monarch's
feet, and broke his leg by the fall. James had previously noticed with
great admiration the handsome squire of the Lord Dingwall, and showed
the utmost concern for his accident. The young Scotchman was removed
to the palace, attended by the King's own surgeon, visited daily by
James himself, and during the long hours of his convalescence won
every hour upon the weak monarch's regard, till he rose from the bed
of sickness in the full glow of royal favour.

The dignity of knighthood was almost immediately profaned to do honour
to this deedless and unworthy person; revenues were assigned to him;
the king's ear was completely in his power; and many an hour was spent
by the monarch every day in teaching him the Latin language, of which
he had no knowledge, though, as Lord Thomas Howard justly observed,
"it would have been better to teach him English, as he was sadly
deficient in that tongue."

Leaning on his arm, pinching his cheek, smoothing his ruffled
garments, James displayed himself to his court, with his new
favourite, in a most painful and degrading point of view. But,
fortunately for Carr himself, he was enabled to escape for some time
the enmity which his unenviable position, and his own worthlessness,
must have much sooner called upon him, had not a piece of real
good-fortune happened to him, in the rise of a friendship between
himself, and one whose experience, moderation, talents, and
discrimination, supplied all that was wanting in the mind of the
favourite.

It would appear that Sir Thomas Overbury, the person of whom we speak,
had first been greatly noticed by Cecil, (now become Earl of
Salisbury,) an unquestionable proof that he possessed real talents for
business. After a time, however, either because he saw in the favour
of Robert Carr the more speedy means of his own advancement, or from
some other cause that we do not know, Overbury sincerely attached
himself to the favourite; and, gaining a great ascendancy over his
mind, he guided him in all his proceedings with a remarkable degree of
wisdom and sagacity.

By degrees, the minion rose from the condition of a poor Scotch
gentleman, unknown and unheard of, to the station of Viscount
Rochester, and the ruler of the court of England. He affected to
behave himself with good moderation and modesty, and suffered all the
power and authority which was poured into his hands, to proceed
apparently more from the monarch's spontaneous act than from his
solicitation. The office of Lord Treasurer of Scotland was bestowed
upon him, and a number of other inferior posts; but still Carr
laboured assiduously to divert the envious jealousy of the English
courtiers from himself; and, as the best means of satisfying them, he
excluded from his household all persons of his own nation, except one
who was attached to him by the ties of blood.

At length, however, an event occurred which changed his views, his
conduct, and his destiny. There appeared at the court a lady, who,
though yet in her extreme youth, had been for some years married to
the son of the unfortunate Earl of Essex. She was second daughter of
Thomas Howard, Earl of Suffolk. Her elder sister having married the
son of the famous Robert Cecil, the alliance between the families of
Suffolk and Essex was brought about by Lord Salisbury, with a view of
healing the breach between himself and the house of Devereux, to the
memory of whose late chief he knew the King, his master, to be
devotedly attached. But as the son of the unfortunate Essex was but
fifteen years of age at the time the marriage was proposed, and the
Lady Frances Howard, the bride, had not yet completed her thirteenth
year, the young Earl was sent abroad to travel for some time,
immediately after the ceremony, leaving his childish bride to be
educated in her paternal house.

The Countess of Essex was not yet sixteen when she was introduced to
the court of James; and, possessed of youth, extraordinary beauty, and
some talent, she soon attracted universal admiration, to which she
showed herself not at all indifferent. According to the libertine
manners of the day, the object of admiration became immediately an
object of pursuit, whatever obstacles morality might interpose; and
Prince Henry himself, the eldest son of the King, appeared as one the
suitors of the fair Countess. She, on her part, showed herself cold
and indifferent to the solicitations of the prince; not, indeed, that
her bosom was the abode of any pure feelings or high principles, but
because she had already conceived a passion for another, to which she
was ready not only to sacrifice every moral obligation, but to violate
common decency, which is sometimes powerful over minds that do not
scruple to cast off every other restraint.

Rochester, however, the object of her criminal love, courted and
flattered for his power, either did not see the views of the Countess
in endeavouring to attract his attention, or was really indifferent
towards her, and for some time escaped her wiles; but ere long she
found a disgraceful means of making him acquainted with the passion he
had inspired, and it soon not only became reciprocal, but rose to a
height in the bosoms of both, which led them to the commission of some
of the most terrible crimes with which the soul of man can be stained.

It was about the time at which the preference of the Countess of Essex
for the King's favourite first began to master every consideration of
virtue and propriety in her bosom, that those events occurred in the
history of Arabella Stuart which recall us to the narration of
adventures more immediately connected with this tale; and, merely
begging the reader to remember that several years had passed since
William Seymour sailed from England, without his obtaining permission
to return from the honourable banishment to which he had been
condemned, we shall here end this brief sketch of the intervening
period.



                            CHAPTER XVII.


It was the afternoon of a bright summer day, and a grand tilting match
had been held on a piece of ground adjoining the park at St. James's.
All the world of the Capital had been admitted to the sight, and as
two or three foreign princes, amongst whom was the King of Denmark,
were present on the occasion, numbers of the grave citizens had left
their shops and counting-houses in London, and travelled to
Westminster to look on during the royal sports.

As soon as the games were over, the crowds dispersed; and, while some
sauntered through those parts of the park which were open to the
public, others hurried home to resume their more important affairs;
and in every thoroughfare, leading from Westminster to different parts
of the city, groups of men and women, in holiday attire, were seen
hastening on, some laughing and talking over the events of the
morning,--some with busy faces evidently considering the business they
were about to resume.

Amongst the rest, appeared a man of a very showy exterior, richly
clothed, and distinguished by a light and tripping step, though he was
far past even the middle age. He had a boy behind him carrying his
sword; his mustachio and hair, which, if one might judge by the
shrivelled state of his skin, and the long wrinkles round his eyes,
ought to have been grey some twenty years before, were now of a very
peculiar cast of black; and though his legs were thin as well as long,
his chest seemed full and powerful, owing, perhaps, the appearance of
swelling muscle which it displayed to a process as foreign to that of
nature, as the method he had employed to restore the swarthiness of
his hair.

While he was hurrying down the Strand--then a wide open road, flanked
on one side by the houses and gardens of the nobility--amidst a cloud
of dust which the manifold feet were raising from the dry and
unwatered ground, a young man, carrying in his hand a large fan and an
essence bottle, singled him out from the other persons who were
proceeding in the same direction, and pulled him gently by the cloak.
The man started and turned round, asking what the stranger wanted,
with a foreign accent, which by practised ears might have been
detected as assumed rather than natural.

"My mistress wishes to speak to you, sir," said the servant, "and will
thank you to step across the road to her."

"I am at her devotion," replied the person addressed, laying his hand
upon his heart; "which is your mistress, my friend?"

"That lady, sir, in the black mantle and mask," answered the serving
man; "she is waiting for you, you see, at the corner of the lane."

Now, the lady whom the man pointed out was of a very rotund make, and
though her dress was rich enough, yet there was a sad lack of grace in
the wearing of it. There were also several indescribable indications,
which clearly informed the beholder that she had passed what is called
the prime of life. Nevertheless, the smart gentleman, whom we have
described, seemed to value her attention fully as much as if she had
been the youngest and most graceful of the realm, and, with the same
dancing-master-like step with which he had been walking homeward, he
crossed the road at her invitation, and made her a profound bow.

"Come with me, come with me," said the masked lady; "I have a turn for
your hand which may be worth your while."

"Most happy shall I be, madam," replied the gentleman, with a stronger
foreign accent than ever, "to accompany you any where, and do my
little possible to serve you. But, perhaps you may be mistaken in your
humble servant?"

The lady burst out into a loud fit of laughter. "You can't cosen me,"
she cried. "Hark ye, master, and I'll whisper a secret word in your
ear which will show you that we know one another."

The gentleman bent down his head, heard what his fair companion had to
say, and then, turning again towards her, looked at her from head to
foot. "It can be no other," exclaimed he, at length, "than Mrs.
Turner!"

"Hush!" cried she, raising her finger, "I am not so indiscreet as to
mention any names. Come down the lane with me; there is a wherry
waiting; we will go down the river, and have some supper at my house.
I have an affair in hand, which may make a fortune for two if properly
managed, and I was even puzzling my brain, as I walked down the
Strand, to find a serviceable friend who had courage and wit enough to
carry through a delicate affair."

"I'm your man," replied the gentleman, in good plain English,
accompanying her down the lane, "and I can assure you, sweet woman,
that, since I have been attached to a Spanish Ambassador, I have had
many a curious operation to perform which required nice handling."

"I doubt it not,--I doubt it not, Weston," answered worthy Mrs.
Turner. "And so you have been attached to a Spanish Ambassador, have
you? That is the reason I have not seen you for so long, I suppose?"

"Did you not know," he asked, "that the Count de Taxis did me the
honour of appointing me his domestic perfumer, and carried me abroad
with him after he left England? I won the post by composing an odour
such as was never smelt by the nose of man before. It had the delicacy
of the violet, the power of the rose; and I combined with it a soft
ethereal essence which lulled the person who scented it into a soft
languor predisposing to love and repose."

"That's just the thing we may want, Master Weston," said the lady,
"for we have got to do with love, I assure you."

"Can I doubt it," cried Weston, "when you have a share in the
business?"

"Come, no nonsense, Master Weston," rejoined the lady; "this is a
serious affair, I can assure you, by which much may be gained or
lost."

"Do not call me Weston," replied her companion, in an imploring tone;
"I have abandoned that name long ago, as one casts off an old coat
when it is worn threadbare. There was a hole or two in it also, it
must be confessed; and I received a severe fright, which made me
tremble so that it shook me out of my name."

"Why, how was that? how was that?" asked Mrs. Turner; "you are a man
not easily alarmed."

"In general not," answered her companion, sinking his voice to a
whisper; "but I'll tell you what occurred. One day at an inn, where I
was lodging, I saw accidentally a young girl, an Italian, who had once
been in my service."

"I remember her quite well," replied Mrs. Turner, "and thought you had
parted with her to some nobleman."

"No, no, she parted from me," rejoined the charlatan, in the same low
tone, "and took some secrets of mine with her. Seeing her in the inn,
and thinking she was still with an old foolish knight, who had
maltreated me and carried her off from me, I took occasion to pass
through the kitchen as her dinner was preparing. I know not how it
was, but by this time she was in the service of one of the highest
ladies of the land. The broth that was intended for the maid, was
taken by the mistress; and a fit of illness came on, which the doctors
from Cambridge were fools enough to ascribe to poison. She recovered
in the end, but I was in a great fright, for you know how scandalous
the tongue of the world is; so, dropping the name of Weston, and
giving my hair another hue, I attached myself to the Count de Taxis,
and gave out that I had come to England with him."[4]


----------

[Footnote 4: The perfumer of the Count de Taxis is mentioned by
Arabella Stuart herself, in one of her letters to her uncle, the Earl
of Shrewsbury.]

----------


"And pray what may be your name now?" asked Mrs. Turner; "I must tutor
my lips not to call you Weston, I suppose."

"The name I took," replied the man, "was Dr. Foramen, out of honour to
a hole in my crucible, in which I once was fortunate enough to obtain
a small quantity of the powder of projection. But the fools here have
changed it at once into a vulgar English name, and call me Doctor
Foreman."

"Odds life!" cried Mrs. Turner; "are you the Doctor Foreman skilled in
magic and astrology, who lives just beyond the walls, by the Inns of
Court?"

"The same, sweet lady, the same," replied Weston, with a low bow; "and
a very pretty traffic I carry on, let me assure you."

"I'll better it--I'll better it," said Mrs. Turner; "but here we are
at the boat."

A very neat wherry was waiting, with a boatman well dressed, bearing
his badge upon his arm; and handing her in, Weston took his seat by
Mrs. Turner's side, while the boy who carried his sword, and the
lady's serving-man, sat in the stern behind them. The proximity of the
two latter personages prevented all private conversation, but the
lady, taking off her mask for the sake of the cool air, displayed what
had once been a very pretty face, and which still, considering her
age, was in a high state of preservation. Cutting rapidly over the
water, the boat stopped some short way before it reached the Tower;
and, being handed out with great gallantry by her companion, Mrs.
Turner led him through several narrow lanes to a small house, between
which and the public street was a little paved yard, with an elm-tree
growing in the midst of the smoke.

"This is my house now," said the lady; "and you see I, too, have
prospered in the world."

"I see, I see," answered Weston; "some friend who has become sensible
to your merits."

"Not alone that," replied the lady; "for though Sir Arthur Manwaring
bestowed the house upon me, I owe him little more. No, no, I have many
a good friend at Court, who, for the services I can render them, are
right liberal in their payments. But come in, come in, and take a
glass of Malmsey with me."

Thus saying, she led him up a long narrow flight of stairs, to a small
well-furnished sitting-room, in which was hung up a viol da gamba, and
several other musical instruments, while on the table lay one or two
books in velvet covers, which, when taken up, displayed to the curious
eye any other subjects than those which men might have supposed formed
the studies of the mistress of the mansion. One was a book of
canticles, very neatly written; another was a volume of meditations by
some pious divine; and a third was a still holier book, which it was
almost profanation to bring into such a place.

By the orders of his mistress, the serving-man fetched some wine and
sweetmeats upon a silver salver, and retired, closing the door. The
lady helped her guest, and took some wine herself, smacking her lips
at the flavour thereof with more unction than was quite seemly.
Weston, however, was intent upon his business; and, after he had half
drained the long measure with its twisted stalk, he set it down,
inquiring, "Now, sweet Mrs. Turner, what is this great affair?"

"I will tell you, I will tell you," said the lady, drawing her
high-backed chair nearer to him--"You must know--take some sweetmeats,
Weston--Doctor Foreman, I mean. You must know that there is a great
personage at the Court, of my own sex, and consequently one I am bound
to assist in the way of friendship, who is in a very lamentable
case--Fill your glass, Doctor, it will bear repeating. This lady is
the daughter of one of the King's great friends, and the niece of
another--"

"Hum!" cried Weston, laying his finger on the side of his nose; "Lady
Cranbourne?"

Mrs. Turner shook her head; "Wrong," she replied, "wrong; but not far
wrong either."

"I have it," said Weston,--"the Countess of Essex?"

"I name no names as yet," answered Mrs. Turner, with a look of
affected discretion; "but the lady I mentioned is young, beautiful,
and very unhappy, and consequently deserves the compassion and
charitable assistance of every one, both man and woman."

"She shall have it," said Weston, solemnly,--"if she be rich enough
to pay for it."

"That she is, beyond all manner of doubt," replied Mrs. Turner; "and
will pay well, too, I can assure you."

"Ay, but expound, expound," cried the charlatan; "what is her ailment?
We must know the disease before we can find a cure."

"Love!" said Mrs. Turner; "love! ay, and hate, too. She is in love
with an object who shows himself indifferent to her charms."

"The hard-hearted tiger!" exclaimed Weston; "we must soften him, Mrs.
Turner."

"That is the very point," replied the lady. "But her affliction is
greatly increased by her having a husband, to whom she was married in
her childhood, who has just returned to England, and to whom she must
go home in a few days, if something be not done to prevent it.'

"A perilous case," said Weston; "yet there is a remedy for all things.
Now, what does the lady require?"

Before Mrs. Turner could answer, a quick foot was heard running up the
stairs; and the next moment a maid servant, entering the room,
exclaimed, "Madam, madam, there's a lady must see you instantly!"

Mrs. Turner started up, crying, "Into the other room behind there!"
But while these words were still upon her tongue, another figure
presented itself at the door; and a lady with a large Spanish mantilla
over her shoulders, and the ordinary black velvet mask upon her face,
entered, with a step, hasty indeed, but full of grace, pausing
suddenly when she saw that there was a stranger in the room.

"Who is that?" she asked, in the tone of a princess, pointing to
Weston, with her hand still covered by a rich glove of red and gold.
"Did you not get my message?"

"No, madam," replied Mrs. Turner, in humble accents; "I have been out
all the morning. This is Doctor Foreman, madam, the famous physician
and astrologer."

"What, the man we were talking of?" cried the lady. "Oh, then I am
very glad it so falls out. You may leave the room, girl," she
continued, addressing Mrs. Turner's maid; "what stand you there for?"

The servant instantly retired and closed the door, at the imperious
mandate she received; and the lady, casting her mantilla on a chair,
withdrew the mask from her face, displaying to the admiring eyes of
Weston one of the most beautiful creatures he had ever beheld. The
complexion was clear and resplendent, every feature beautifully cut,
the large dark eyes shining like living diamonds, the parted lips
showing the pearly teeth beneath, the neck, the shoulders, and every
rounded limb, full of grace and loveliness; but there was a certain
contraction of the marble brow, and keenness, almost fierceness in the
sparkling eyes, which spoke too plainly the eager and passionate
spirit within that exquisite form. The charlatan had risen when she
entered; and she now turned her bright unblenched eye upon him,
scanning his features, as if she thought by them to discover whether
the man before her possessed, in reality, the powers which were
attributed to him. Weston, however, was finished in his trade; and he
replied to her glance with one as keen; and, after having remained in
silence for a moment, he said, "Perhaps, madam, I had better retire.
You may have business with Mistress Turner?"

"No; stay," replied the lady, thoughtfully; "I want you. Has this good
woman told you who I am?"

"No, madam," answered Weston; "she has never mentioned your name to
me. I have but this instant arrived."

"Do you know me, then?" demanded the lady, quickly.

"No," he answered, in a decided tone: "I never saw any one so
beautiful before!"

"Pshaw!" said the lady, with a smile; "what is the use of beauty? Are
you a foreigner?"

"The country of my birth," answered the charlatan, "is unknown; but I
have studied long in foreign universities, and may have a Spanish or
Italian accent."

"A very strong one of some kind--I know not what," replied the lady.
"Hark ye, sirrah! are you a true man, or an impostor?"

"My sublime art, madam, does not permit of my telling an untruth,"
rejoined Weston. "The moment I did so, I should lose all power and
knowledge. Do not think, madam, that the height of science can be
obtained by deep study alone. The mind must subject itself to certain
rules, fixed and decided, amongst which the telling truth upon all
points of art is the great fundamental. I may refuse to answer you, if
I will; but, if I do answer, the nicest judging eye must not be able
to discover one grain of deceit in all I say."

"Well, then," exclaimed the lady, "tell me under what misfortunes I
suffer, if you would have me believe you skilful as you pretend."

"First, madam, let me know your name," said the artful man; "that, at
least, I ought to be made acquainted with."

"No, no," answered she to whom he spoke, "that were half the history.
My name you shall know, if you satisfy me."

"This is hard," cried Weston, with assumed mortification; "you must
not tax science more than it can bear--I will speak as I believe,
however; though mind, I tell you beforehand, that I cannot be so sure
as if I knew your name, and the hour of your nativity. Madam, will you
let me see your hand?--the right hand, if you please; and you, Mrs.
Turner, in the meanwhile, ask my boy for my sand-glass and square."

The lady drew the glove from her fair and beautiful hand, and
stretched it out for the inspection of the charlatan, who gazed upon
the few lines in the soft and glossy palm with an air of apparently
deep consideration.

"Ha!" he cried, "I see you are under eighteen years of age."

"A good guess," said the lady. "What more?"

"We will wait a little," answered Weston. "I could say more even now,
but I would fain consult the sand first."

As he spoke, Mrs. Turner, who had left them, returned, bearing in her
hand a small glass box filled with very fine sand, and a flat silver
ruler, with a moveable limb at a right angle, which she delivered into
the hands of her male companion.

"Bless my heart, doctor," she cried; "I hope there is going to be no
magic. I cannot suffer magic in my house for any one."

"Nothing but natural magic, Mrs. Turner," replied the impostor, "which
is quite lawful. Every part of nature has its secrets, which it is the
province of science to discover, and also its sympathies with every
other part, from which sympathies, when revealed in one instance, we
gain a knowledge of all that affects other beings, sympathised with by
the object under our hands. Thus this common sand, when brought under
certain influences, displays its relationships to different parts of
creation; and especially, as it is fluctuating and unsteady, light,
and blown about by every gust of wind, exactly like the course of
human life, so does it bear a near affinity to human beings, and
discovers, when compelled, their fate and circumstances!"

The lady had listened with deep attention to every word of the
rigmarole which the man uttered; and the reader must not be surprised
at a wild, passionate, ill-educated, unprincipled girl of eighteen
years of age being deceived by visionary nonsense, which has convinced
the mind, ay, and disturbed the brain, of persons otherwise deserving
the name of sages and philosophers. The charlatan next took the sand,
smoothed it exactly in the glass box, seemed to look anxiously for
every irregularity, ascertained that it was of an equal height on
either side, and then drew, with the sharp end of a silver ruler,
several signs and figures round the edges, leaving a space vacant in
the middle.

"Now, madam," he said, "take this instrument, and write the first
letter of the christian and surname of any person you think fit. It
may be either your own, or that of some one else; but you must have a
very deep interest in that person."

The lady considered for a moment, and then wrote lightly in the sand
the letters R. C. Weston then took the glass box, and raised it gently
from side to side, suffering a part of the sand to roll over the
figures that had been drawn. He next gazed at the surface attentively;
and, setting the instrument down with a look of surprise and respect,
he took a step back and bowed low to the lady.

"Why, what is the matter now?" she exclaimed, emphatically.

"I did not know your Ladyship's high rank," he replied; "and I fear
what I have to say may offend you."

"No, no; speak what you have to say," she answered. "If it be true, I
shall find no offence."

"The geomantic science can never speak aught but truth," answered the
charlatan; "and by its rules I tell you, that you love where you ought
not, and love not where you ought."

"Ought!" cried the lady, with her cheek reddening. "Am I to have
constantly that hateful bond thrust upon me, contracted in my infancy,
when I was incapable of judging for myself?"

"I feared you would be offended, madam," said Weston, well pleased to
see the effect of his words, but affecting a tone of grief and
apprehension. "Nevertheless, I told you that I must speak the truth,
if I spoke at all."

"Well, well," she replied; "I deny not that it is the truth. So much
for the present--now for the future. Can you speak of that? Shall I be
successful in my love--whether it be right or wrong?"

"Oh, yes, my lady, never fear," said Mrs. Turner, in a coaxing tone;
"every woman who sets her heart upon it can be successful in her love
if she chooses. Men are not such coy creatures as we are."

"Hush, woman! let him speak," cried the Countess, imperiously; "I hate
such wheedling. I would know by his science what fate has in store."

Again Weston approached the table, and scanned the sandglass
earnestly. "Madam," he said, "I think you will obtain all that you
desire; but it will be with great difficulty, the most skilful
management, and with the assistance of many curious and important
arts. You see, madam, that the sand has rolled completely over the
name of Robert Carr."

"Robert Carr!" exclaimed the lady, almost with a shriek. "That name
was not written there!"

"Oh, yes, madam, it was," replied the impostor; "you only traced R. C,
but other hands than yours filled up the names at once for the eyes of
science. But, as I was saying, you see the sand has rolled over that
name; while your sign, which is here, remains clear and uneffaced,
showing that you may obtain great power over him. But you will
perceive, also, that between it and the house of fortune--I wish it to
be all clear to you--a wave has grown up, which threatens great
obstacles; while these two stars, signifying two skilful and attached
servants of your ladyship, I know not whom, remain powerful over the
object of your wishes. Here are two or three others, all more or less
powerful in their degree; and here your nearest relation stands strong
in opposition."

"My father!" cried the lady.

"But, at the same time, his co-ordinate looks favourable; and the sign
of another near relation is not adverse. But still, after all, these
two small stars, though seemingly very inferior, are, as you see, most
powerful for your purposes."

The lady had leaned her elbow on the table, and was covering her eyes
with her hand. "This is very extraordinary," she murmured; "if I had
even told the woman who it is. Have you anything more to say?" she
continued, aloud.

"Nothing, madam," he answered; "this is all that geomancy can tell me;
but if you think fit to come to my house to-night, and the stars be
out, as most likely they will, I can give you more information; and
can only say that, as far as my poor skill extends in any way, either
as astrologer or physician, skilled in many arts unknown in this
country, I am right willing to serve so beautiful and high a lady
until death."

"I will employ you, I will employ you," replied the lady; "and, if you
do serve me, you shall be rewarded beyond your hopes. Now, tell me,
whom do these two stars indicate?"

"I know not, madam," replied Weston; "but, certainly, they must be two
very skilful persons. Perhaps I may myself be one."

"Perhaps so," said the lady; "come to me to-night, good Mrs. Turner,
to Northampton House, just as the clock strikes nine; it will then be
growing dark, and we will away to the good doctor's house. There is
some gold for you. Hark! a word in your ear! Explain to him all I told
you--the name he has divined is but too true. Tell him--tell him! For
though, I know not why, I feel no shame in this matter, yet I would
fain some other lips began the tale."

Thus saying, she fastened the mask upon her face again, threw the
mantle over her shoulders, and left the room.

Mrs. Turner approached the casement, gazed out for a minute through
the dim lozenges of glass, and then, turning round to Weston, burst
into a low but merry laugh.



                            CHAPTER XVIII.


We must now hurry the reader from the gay capital to a small hunting
seat at Royston, in which the King took peculiar delight, on account
of the woods and wild forest scenery in which that part of the country
abounded at the time we speak of, and which afforded him the
opportunity of enjoying at liberty his favourite pastime of the chase.

According as caprice dictated, the monarch would go either in private,
accompanied by his favourite, and a few of those whom he condescended
to look upon as his friends, or with the whole Court, which was then
packed into very narrow compass, many of the domestics and attendants
being lodged out in the cottages round about, and the whole country
swept by the King's purveyors to provide for the royal household, much
to the annoyance of the poor inhabitants, who saw their fowls, their
butter, their eggs, and their milk, carried away against their will.
Nor was this the only inconvenience they suffered. Had they received
full and ready payment for the food, which was taken, as it were, from
their very mouths, they might have contented themselves. But such was
not the case, and it was not till after long delays, and the deduction
of an enormous per centage to the greedy officers of the King, that
they obtained a scanty and illiberal compensation for the actual loss
they sustained.

On the present occasion, the whole Court were at Royston; and so many
human beings were crowded into the palace, that it was only when the
hounds were abroad, and the greater part of the courtiers following
the King to the chase, that anything like quiet and tranquillity was
to be found in the building.

Such, however, was the case one morning; when Arabella Stuart, who had
accompanied the Queen to Royston, after wandering out for a short
time, returned towards the house with a paper in her hand, followed a
step behind by an honest Hertfordshire farmer, to whom she spoke from
time to time.

On the terrace before the palace, she turned to the man, saying,
"Well, my good friend, I cannot undertake to give it to the King
himself, because he is easily offended at such matters; but I will
place it in the hands of those who can venture more boldly than I can,
and who, I doubt not, will see right done to you."

The man bowed and withdrew; and Arabella, entering the vestibule,
inquired of one of the servants, who sat there enjoying the usual
listlessness of a palace, if Lord Rochester had gone with the King.
The man replied in the affirmative; and she then asked, "Is Sir Thomas
Overbury in the house?"

"Yes, lady," replied the man; "I saw him a minute ago, writing letters
in the cabinet on the left hand, at the top of the stairs."

Arabella immediately proceeded thither, and, opening the door, went
into the cabinet, where she found a young man, of a handsome person
and agreeable expression of countenance, with a high forehead, dark
eyes, and a look of intense thought, not unmingled with melancholy, in
his face--that calm and thoughtful gloom which is generally found in
men of great ambition. He was writing with a rapid hand and eager eye,
and did not look round when the door first opened. The moment after,
however, the lady's step caught his ear; and, raising his face, he
instantly started up when he saw her.

"Good morning, Sir Thomas Overbury," said Arabella, advancing to the
table: "I have a favour to ask of you."

"To do so is to confer one, madam," replied the knight, advancing and
placing a chair: "pray be seated, and let me know your will. It has
but to be known to be obeyed by me."

"You are very kind, Sir Thomas," answered Arabella, taking his words
as a mere matter of compliment; "but I know you are always willing to
do the best in your power for those who suffer by any of the abuses
which occasionally follow every Court. This paper is a petition from a
poor farmer in the neighbourhood against some of the King's purveyors,
who have unnecessarily, it seems, swept off the whole stock of his
farm; and, because he remonstrated, have cut down the trees before his
dwelling.[5] Neither have they, as yet, paid him for anything, nor
even allowed his account."


----------

[Footnote 5: Such acts were not at all uncommon in the reign of James
I.]

----------

"Alas, madam!" replied Overbury, with a sorrowful expression of
countenance, "this is but one out of some twenty or thirty. What do
you wish me to do with it?"

"Merely to ask Lord Rochester," replied Arabella, "to deliver it into
the King's own hand, and, if possible, to obtain justice for the poor
man."

Sir Thomas Overbury took the paper, and looked at the amount claimed.
"I believe, madam," he answered, "that my Lord of Rochester would
rather pay the money out of his own purse, than present this to his
Majesty. The former I will undertake he shall do, at your request."

"Nay," replied the lady, "that is not what I could desire. It is the
King's own debt, not Lord Rochester's. Neither could I, as you may
easily understand, make any such a request to his Lordship."

Sir Thomas Overbury smiled: "You might make any request, madam, that
you pleased, and be quite assured," he said, "that your request would
immediately become his wish."

Arabella was somewhat surprised at the very courteous terms of Sir
Thomas Overbury; for, although he had always treated her with due
respect and attention, there was no intimacy subsisting between them,
and even less between herself and Lord Rochester.

"You are very kind," she answered; "but all I can desire is, that his
Lordship would present the petition to the King, who I feel very sure
will grant it at his request."

"Ah, madam!" replied the Knight, "you know not how difficult it is to
get petitions acceded to; but I hope, if my Lord Rochester succeeds in
this, he may be equally successful, should he some day be a petitioner
to your Ladyship."

Accustomed to flattering speeches, to praises of her beauty, and to
hints of deeper attachment, which her high rank prevented those who
felt it from declaring more openly, Arabella might have thought little
of the pointed expressions of Sir Thomas Overbury, had there not been
a seriousness in his tone and manner that alarmed her.

She rose then immediately, and again thanking him for his civility was
about to retire; but he stopped her, saying, "One moment, lady: I have
long wished for an opportunity of speaking a few words to you." He
then paused and hesitated, while Arabella remained silent, gazing upon
him with an anxious and inquiring look.

"Perhaps, madam," said the knight, at length, "you may think me very
officious and impertinent, but if I be so, it is from my sincere
regard to two high persons, whose fortunes much depend upon each
other."

"I really do not know, sir, what you mean," replied Arabella.

"I will explain myself," continued Sir Thomas Overbury. "My Lord of
Rochester, my kind master and very good friend, is noble, as you know,
by birth, but has risen from a very poor estate to the highest power
and authority in this realm, under the King. You are aware with what
favours his Majesty has loaded him, what wealth he has bestowed upon
him, and what confidence he places in him."

"I doubt not," replied Arabella, "that he is worthy of it all; and,
indeed, I know him to be liberal and kind to the poor, more modest
than most favourites would be in his household and demeanour, and,
moreover, devoted to the King, of which we have a striking instance,
as I hear, the other day, in giving five-and-twenty thousand pounds in
gold to the officers of the revenue, when he found the King's treasury
was empty. If you suppose, Sir Thomas, that I am one of those who envy
him his good fortune, or deny him good qualities, from jealousy of the
King's favour, you are quite mistaken."

"Madam, I know your noble heart too well," said Overbury, "to suspect
it of harbouring such pitiful feelings; and, dealing with you simply
in frankness and candour, I was about to lay before you the evils as
well as the advantages of my Lord Rochester's position, trusting to
your honour never to reveal that which I shall say."

"Of that you may be quite assured," replied Arabella.

"Well then, madam," continued the knight, "you see Lord Rochester, as
he now stands at the height of power and favour, courted and flattered
by all men, each day advancing in wealth and distinction, and having
every vacant office in the state at his disposal. Young, too, he is,
and certainly most strikingly handsome, with health unimpaired by the
various vices of the day--by drunkenness, or dissolute living; so
that, in all probability, his life will be long preserved. But, at the
same time, it must not be concealed that all this fabric of greatness
stands at present on a frail foundation. I do not mean the favour of
the King, for that, I believe, unless from some great fault on his
Lordship's part, will only be terminated with the King's life. But,
lady, I am now going to say what I would venture to no other ears than
yours: the King's life itself is uncertain--his physicians do not
augur that it will be a long one. The violent exercises of the chase,
to which he addicts himself so passionately, daily wear down the
powers of a constitution naturally feeble. A thousand accidents, too,
might happen to deprive us of our sovereign; and, were he gone, the
apparent enmity of the Prince would easily find means to effect my
Lord's ruin, unless his friends can contrive to fix his fortunes upon
a stronger foundation than at present. Now, lady, will you forgive me
if, leaving the picture of this nobleman's fate, I turn to paint that
of another--your own?"

"I fear," said Arabella, who felt her heart beating with apprehension
of what was to come next, "I fear the Queen may require me, I have
been absent long."

"I will not detain you many minutes," replied Sir Thomas Overbury;
"but indeed you must hear me out: it is but justice to me after what I
have said. You yourself, madam, as I know you feel, are placed in a
very peculiar and painful position."

Arabella seated herself, and leaned her head upon her hand.--"Of the
highest rank that subject can attain to," continued the knight, "the
next heir to the Crown, failing the King and his royal children, with
less wealth than your merits well deserve, and denied all power and
influence, the object of vain conspiracies to every idle traitor, and
of jealous apprehension to your royal cousin, you are denied the only
consolation that could be afforded to such a fate, by being shut out
from domestic happiness on motives of state policy."

"True!" said Arabella, with a sigh.

"You must have remarked, madam," continued Sir Thomas Overbury, "that
all the many applications for your hand by sovereign princes, who
could well pretend thereunto, have been rejected without consulting
you; and so it will ever be. You will be condemned to pass through
life without being permitted to bestow on any one in this country, or
elsewhere, the greatest blessing to which man can perhaps aspire on
earth--the possession of so charming and excellent a creature as
yourself."

Arabella had been somewhat moved by the first part of his discourse;
and she knew that there was but one way to cover her emotion, and to
avoid being forced to deal seriously with a matter, which she saw
might involve her in terrible difficulties if she treated it gravely.
She resolved, therefore, to assume that gay and playful lightness of
manner which had often been her resource under such circumstances; and
though, for a moment, it cost her a great effort, she replied,
laughingly, "You must not take it for granted, Sir Thomas, that I had
an inclination to accept any of these mighty potentates, even if the
King had wished it. The grapes, to be sure, are sour with me, as with
the fox in the fable; and I will own that it is always much more
agreeable to a woman to have her vanity flattered by the opportunity
of saying 'No' to such tender supplications, than to have them
dismissed without her interference. But, nevertheless, I can assure
you, upon my honour, that if I had been left to act according to my
own will and choice, not one of all these gentlemen who have asked the
King for my poor hand should have obtained it. You cannot say, Sir
Thomas, that you have ever seen on my part the least desire that their
suit should be approved--or the least disappointment at their
rejection."

"Certainly not, madam," answered the knight; "and I can easily
conceive that a heart like yours, knowing that domestic happiness is
rarely, if ever, obtained in a royal station, would gladly avoid such
a state. But still, lady, you must be convinced that, if the King
refuses you to foreign princes, he will be still more resolute in
denying you to almost any of his own subjects."

"To _any_, I should think," replied Arabella.

"To any but one," replied Sir Thomas Overbury, "to whom, in his
present mood, he can refuse nothing. Now, lady, listen to all in one
word. Your union with Lord Rochester would to him secure, first,
the inestimable blessing of a wife, whom he could both love and
respect--who could both make his home bright and happy, and, by her
experience of courts, guide, counsel, and support him; and, secondly,
would obtain for him such an alliance with those from whom he has most
to fear, as would ensure him against reverse in case of the decease of
the King. You would gain an affectionate, warm-hearted, and sincere
husband, who would be dependent upon yourself for the stability of his
position; and, instead of being condemned to see life pass by without
any of those ties which form a woman's happiness, would at once----"

"Stay, stay, Sir Thomas," cried Arabella, with a gay smile, "do not
make the picture too enchanting. Consider, my dear sir, you are wooing
for another, who has given no sign of love or hope.--Good faith! I
shall expect, if ever I am to be a wife, to be courted, and flattered,
and sought, just as much as other women, or perhaps more. Besides, the
king's consent is not gained.--That would be the first step before
asking mine, who, poor creature, have little power over my own
destiny. Not that the King would not give me every liberty to refuse,
I am sure. It is of my accepting only that he is afraid; and, depend
upon it, as this hand is the only boon on earth I have to give, I will
make the man who obtains it know its full value. Oh, I am a true
woman! You do not know me yet, Sir Thomas. I will have all my
caprices, too, according to rule and precedent; and I will make my
stipulations, like the heiress of an alderman. There must be my dower,
and my annual stipend, and my two coaches lined with velvet, and my
gentlewomen, and my gentlemen ushers, and my horses, and grooms, and
squires of the hand, and my ordinary maids and footmen, and my gowns
of apparel, and my common gowns; and then there must be carpets, and
hangings, and couches, and glass, and my sideboard of plate, and my
canopy; and, moreover, I must be a duke's wife, so that nobody may go
before me at the court.--Oh! you cannot imagine all the things that I
will require," she added, with a laugh; "but, some day, you shall have
an inventory of them: and now, good faith! I must fly to the Queen,
for indeed, Sir Thomas, if it were known that I had been talking with
you so long, and all about love and matrimony, we should both run a
great risk of finding our way to the Tower, Adieu, adieu, with many
thanks!" and thus saying, with a light step and gay air, she quitted
the room.

The moment she was in the corridor, however, her face resumed its
gravity, and she murmured, "Gracious heaven! when will men cease to
make me the object of their ambitious schemes?"

In the meanwhile, Sir Thomas Overbury stood by the side of the table,
and gazed down upon it with vacant eyes, "Yes," he said at length,
"yes, her consent is sure, and this lightness but assumed to cover
deeper things. That is clear enough. The rest must be done by
Rochester; for doubtless, as she says, she will require courting.--The
King, too, must be managed; but that can be done; and then, with his
fortunes fixed upon a basis that nothing can shake, allied to Royalty
itself, and with his doting monarch's whole life before him, he may
indeed do what he will. And I!--Why, is he not my creature, as the
King is his? When, too, he owes the rock on which his fortune is
planted to my counsels, he must surely show his gratitude.--He is
young, warmhearted--yet unhardened by a Court; and, even granted that,
in a few years, he be corrupted by the invariable selfishness and
baseness of such scenes as these, ere then the eagle shall have soared
on high, unless fate clip his wings. Give me three years--but three
years; and if with the powers of mind I feel within this brain, and
the resolution I know within this heart, I rule not in the council
chamber and the senate--why, let them kick me forth as a scurvy cur,
unfitted for high places."

Thus thinking, he sat himself down to write again, and did not rise
till the sound of the horns warned him that the King and Court were
returning.



                             CHAPTER XIX.


With shouts, and jests, and laughter of no very courtly and dignified
a sort, the royal party came up to the terrace; and James and his
favourite, with a number of attendants, mounted the staircase, passed
by the room in which Overbury had been writing, and swept on to the
royal apartments.

In a minute or two after, Rochester, tall, handsome, and glowing with
exercise and merriment, entered the chamber of his secretary,
convulsed with laughter, and casting himself into a seat, exclaimed,
"By the Lord! Overbury, here has been one of the best jests this
morning I have ever seen. Did you remark, yesterday, how the King
asked for Jowler, who was not with the pack?--his favourite hound, you
know, whose voice, he swears, is a deal sweeter than that of the
Italian music-master. Well--to-day, who should make his appearance but
Jowler, with a paper tied round his neck."

"A love-letter, perhaps," said Overbury.

"Nothing half so sweet," replied Rochester; "for if cakes and
gingerbread lie in a fair lady's eyes, and honey distils from her
lips, as we tell the pretty creatures, sure her pen must be dipped in
syrup and spice, but this was all gall and vinegar, though not without
spirit too. The King, as soon as he saw the dog, must needs jump off
his horse, to let the hound lick him. Maxwell and Boucher would have
fain made away with the paper, misdoubting what it contained, I fancy;
but the King would needs see it, and Chaloner, who loves a jest,
bitter or sweet, untied the string from under the dog's ears, and
humbly presented the paper on his knee to our royal master. At first
the King turned red in the face, and his brow pricked up like the back
of an old woman's wimple, but then he burst into a horse laugh,
exclaiming, 'On my life, Master Jowler, thou art a witty dog, if this
be thine own jest; but I doubt, like many another man's, it is but
laid upon thy shoulders, poor fellow,' and thereupon he began kissing
him again."

"But the paper, the paper," exclaimed Overbury, "what was written on
it?"

"Why, faith, these words; for the King handed it about," answered
Rochester,--"these words are something like them:--'Good Master
Jowler, we pray you speak to the King, for he hears you every day, and
he will not hear us, that it will please his Majesty to go back to
London, or else the country will be undone. All our provision is spent
already, and we are not able to maintain him any longer.'"

"On my life," said Overbury, holding up the petition which he had
received from Arabella, "I have here got another song to the same
tune."

"What is it, what is it?" asked Rochester.

"A petition from a farmer against the purveyors," replied Overbury,
"which your Lordship must needs present to the King."

"Not I," answered the Viscount, bursting into a laugh, "I will present
no more petitions, since that affair of the man Whitstable. You know
what the King said."

"No," said Sir Thomas, "I never heard."

"Well, then, I will tell you," rejoined his companion. "He first read
the petition, to please me, he said; then, when he saw it was about
money, he swore five large oaths, to which I cannot do justice, for
they were part Pagan philosophy, and part Christian blasphemy. Then he
chuckled for a minute, and then he asked what the man had _ge'en_ me.
I told him, nothing; and then he called me a _fule_, and said that
Whitstable was no better, and so he should not have his money, because
he did not know how to show himself thankful to those who asked it for
him. No, no, I will present no more petitions."

"But, in good sooth, you must do so in this case," said Sir Thomas
Overbury, "for it is at the request of a lady."

"Ay, indeed," cried Carr, somewhat more interested in the question.
"What lady, may I ask, Tom?"

"A very sweet and beautiful one," replied the knight, "and one that it
were better worth your while to please, than all the gerfalcons in the
King's mew, though that's one high road to his royal graces."

"Her name, man," cried Rochester; "you keep me with my wit galloping
all through the Court."

"Draw the bridle, then," replied Overbury; "it is the Lady Arabella
Stuart; and if you can contrive to fall from your horse at her feet,
with as much success as you did at the King's, you may so mend your
fortunes, as never to risk a fall again."

"Ay, she is very pretty," answered Rochester, in an indifferent tone,
"but hardly tall enough, to my mind."

"I do not know," replied Overbury, "how that can be; she could not be
well higher, without being Queen or Princess Royal of England."

"Yes, she is pretty," continued Rochester, in a musing tone; "but what
is that to me? There are many as handsome women in the court, not
quite so stiff and stately in their virtue. Why she and my Lady Rich
do not even speak; and, to my taste, Lady Rich is the prettier woman
of the two."

"Ay, for a mistress," exclaimed Overbury; "but which would you like
best for a wife?"

"Oh! the Lady Arabella," replied Rochester, in a decided tone, "but
that can be no question with either of them; for the Lady Rich is the
wife of two men already, and the Lady Arabella will never be the wife
of any one."

"Except, perhaps, of Robert Carr, Viscount Rochester, Earl of
Something, Duke of Something else," answered Sir Thomas Overbury; "and
I do confess," he added, "that I envy the man who shall have the good
fortune to put a ring upon that fair finger. Were it for nothing but
herself, her beauty, her grace, her virtues, and her sweet humour, I
would not barter her hand against the Indies. But when we think of her
rank, and the station she will give her husband----"

"Why, Overbury, you are in love with her," cried Carr, laughing.

"I wish you were," answered Overbury; "my care for your fate would
then be at an end."

"It would be of no use," rejoined Rochester; "but come, Overbury,
speak out, what is it that you mean? You know my brains are not worth
much, and what I have are sorely shaken with a long gallop. Speak,
man, speak, I am ever ready to follow counsel; and you know Bacon
says, that you are my loadstar, that ever guides me right."

"It often happens, my good Lord," replied Overbury, "that when you ask
me for advice in the very difficult affairs which surround you, I have
to consider long and carefully what is the best course for you to
pursue, and even then I may be at times doubtful of the result. But in
this case, I have not the slightest doubt. The way lies open before
you; and though you must tread it with care and caution, lest you
should meet with a rebuff, it will as certainly lead you to fortune,
as you advance upon it perseveringly and prudently."

"Come, come, Overbury," exclaimed Lord Rochester, "do not be eloquent!
A few plain facts, my good friend, and a word of explanation, are all
that is required. I don't mean to say positively that I will follow
your advice in this matter, though I partly see your aim; but I will
be reasonable, as I always am; and, if I see good cause and good hope,
I will go on."

"Well, then, my Lord," said Overbury, "I will just remind you of how
you stand. Though it may be an unpleasant task to do so, yet I have
never found you shrink from looking the matter in the face. The King's
favour is your only stay; the King's life is your term of office and
authority; for though, perhaps, some of your own countrymen would
rally round to support you--which, by the way, I doubt----"

"Oh yes, they would," cried Rochester; "a Scotchman will always
support a Scotchman, if his own interest don't come in the way."

"Yet depend upon it," continued Sir Thomas Overbury, "under a new
King, the jealousy of the English would soon clear the Court of your
countrymen, who, as you know, can scarce keep their footing in it
already."

"That's very true," cried Rochester; "why there's a new satire out
against us, Overbury, which made me laugh a good deal last night. It's
all the folly of Murray and Sanquhar, as you will see, for the verses
upon a Scotchman run--


         'They beg our lands, our goods, our lives,
          They switch our nobles, make love to their wives,
          They pinch our gentry, and send for our Benchers,
          They stab our sergeants, and pistol our fencers.'


Ha! ha! ha! it's not bad, on my life; but still the conduct of such
men as Sanquhar, in murdering the fencing-master, and Murray, in
stabbing the sergeant, can bring nothing but ruin upon themselves, and
disgrace upon all their countrymen."

"Both acts were done under the influence of strong passion," replied
Overbury; "and where is the man who shall say to what pitch strong
passion may lead him?"

"Never to murder a man in cold blood," cried Rochester; "no passion
would ever lead you or me to such deeds."

"I do not know," replied Overbury, thoughtfully; "no man can tell till
he is tried;" and he fell into a fit of musing.

It was a strange conversation. There they stood, the murderer and the
murdered--the one denying the possibility of acts, which, within a
very few short months he himself committed; the other even doubting
whether he might not be some time tempted to the deeds of which he was
to be soon a victim. As if the question impressed them more strongly
than any thing that had passed before, they both remained silent for
several minutes, and then Overbury proceeded, returning at once to the
former subject.

"Well, my good Lord," he said, "all this shows that, however firm you
may be in the King's favour,--of which I believe you possess, as I
have said, a lease for life,--a stumbling horse, a stag at bay, or a
defluxion on the chest, might cast you from the height of power at any
hour and day of the whole year, by his Majesty's death. He who fixes
his fortune on the favour of another, renders himself doubly mortal.
You must try to base yours, my good Lord, on something more stable."

"On what?" asked Rochester.

"On an alliance with the royal blood," replied Overbury.

His companion fell into thought, which the knight took care not to
interrupt; and at length Lord Rochester raised his head, saying, "I
understand you now, Overbury; but is it possible? I see two great
obstacles."

"Name them, name them," exclaimed Sir Thomas, "and I will demolish
them in a moment."

"The first lies with the King," answered Rochester. "'Tis but the
other day, when he refused one of the Electoral Princes for the Lady
Arabella, that he afterwards laughed with me in his closet, and said,
that though he might like to put two doves in a cage, he would never
put two eagles; meaning that he would never consent to her marriage
with any one; and of that I am quite sure."

"With no sovereign Prince, most assuredly," replied Overbury; "for you
may easily conceive what a handle might be made of her claims to the
throne, in the hands of a foreign power. To any of his own subjects he
will have nearly as much objection; for fear of breeding strife and
contention in the land. But you, my dear Lord, are somewhat different
from a common subject--you are his friend, his favourite, one on whom
he can fully rely.--Nay, nay, do not shake your head! You do not
suppose that if the Duke of York were of age sufficient, he would
hesitate to extinguish the claims of the Lady Arabella, by a union
with his own son? Does he consider you as less than his son? Has he
not often declared that he regards you as his own child? Does he not,
in fact, love you infinitely more than any of his own children?--Nay,
to speak boldly and openly to one who, I know, will not betray me, you
are right well assured that there is no principle of justice, no maxim
of state policy, that he would not violate to give you pleasure. Happy
for the country that you are not one ever to abuse such influence. No,
my noble Lord, you have nothing to do but to praise the Lady Arabella
to the King, to admire her eyes, to speak of her exquisite grace, the
loveliness of her form, the sweetness of her smile, to sigh often,
and look pale,--we can find means to make the complexion somewhat
change--to affect a melancholy, and be no longer cheerful, but as it
were by effort. Then, when the King inquires into your gloom, let him
wring from you by slow degrees that you love the lady, but yet have
never ventured to pay her the slightest court, or show her the least
attention, because you know his Majesty's views, and not for the
dearest object of your wishes would you cross his slightest purpose.
My life to a jerkin of Cordovan, the King proposes to you the marriage
himself.--Now, my Lord, what is your next difficulty?"

"That lies with the lady," answered Lord Rochester; "she has never
shown the slightest sign of distinguishing me from all the crowd of
the Court."

"Odds life! my Lord," interrupted Overbury, "do you expect a lady to
woo you? did she do so, she were not worth your having; and the Lady
Arabella is none such. Nay, more, my Lord, you will have to woo her,
and zealously too; but the more difficult the attainment, the more
worthy is the prize. You will have to make her love you, before you
can hope for her hand. But yet, as some sort of encouragement, I will
tell you that she and I have been talking about you just now, and you
already stand well with her. She spoke of you generously and kindly,
cited the gift you had lately made to the revenue, and praised your
deportment at the Court. Person, too, with all women is no light
matter; and to be married to the handsomest man in England, may
flatter a woman's vanity, which is the first way to win her love."

"But all flatterers do not succeed with women," said Rochester.

"Because their flattery is too gross, or those to whom they address it
too clear-sighted," replied Overbury; "the moment it is known to be
flattery, it ceases to flatter; and therefore it is that indirect
praise is so much more gratifying than any other. Few have such a
stomach as our royal master, who has been compared to many things, but
I wonder never to an ostrich, for he can digest iron, if it be well
spiced."

"But," asked Carr, in a tone of doubt, "can this lady love at all,
Overbury? Has she the feelings and passions of other women? I could
not content me with a cold and indifferent bride; and I have remarked
that, whatever proposals have been made for her hand, she has seemed
right glad and well pleased when they were rejected--I speak not alone
of men whom she has never seen, but when there was a question of
Northumberland's son; and the King took him to task for wooing her,
she seemed quite relieved when he retired from the Court, and said, I
understand, that of all the favours the King had conferred upon her,
that deliverance was the greatest."

Overbury smiled; "You have a right humble opinion of yourself, my Lord
of Rochester," he said, "to compare yourself to Northumberland's
clumsy boy, who courted the lady with large eyes and an open mouth,
like the whale that swallowed Jonas in the picture. No, no, a woman's
heart is like a magazine of powder, well defended and difficult to be
got at, but when once reached, ready to take fire in a minute. You
must work by the sap and mine, my Lord, and I can assure you the
ground is not so hard and rocky as you think. No woman was ever yet
insusceptible of love, and there is but one passion that I know of,
which can extinguish that magic fire. The blasts of adversity cannot
blow it out. It will burn beneath the cold waters of ill-treatment and
neglect. In the airless caverns of despair it shines by its own light;
and down to the grave it goes, blazing up, even in death. Nothing, I
say, nothing can extinguish it but another fierce flame in the same
lamp--that of ambition. It was this that taught Elizabeth to quench
the fire that was in her heart as strong as in any on the earth. This
made her hold back from Leicester, this guarded her against Essex."

"Ay," said Lord Rochester, thoughtfully; "she is very beautiful!"

"Who?" exclaimed Sir Thomas Overbury, in surprise; "Queen Elizabeth?"

"No, no," answered Rochester, laughing; "she never was, that I know
of; and heaven defend me from contemplating her beauty now--It was
Lady Essex I meant."

"Yes, so she is," said Overbury; "but to the subject, my Lord. What
say you to my scheme? If you win the lady, you gain security; you
build up a fortress round your fortunes which not all the malice of
your enemies can ever batter down. Methinks this alone were sufficient
to make you strive, like an eager horse at a race, to win the golden
prize, even were the lady less lovely and less charming than she is."

"Why, I say at once," replied Lord Rochester, "that I am yours to do
with as you like. The prize is certainly a great one; the only
question is--can I win it? You say I can, and as I never found you
wrong, I am willing to believe you right. I will therefore embark in
the adventure; but you must be the pilot and steer the ship, and, if
you bring it safely into port, the whole honour and one half the
profit shall be yours.--But first tell me how I am to deal with the
lady; for I am to say to the King, it seems, when I have acted the
part of a despairing lover long enough, that I have never moved her to
my wishes, for fear of giving him offence."

"Nor must you, nor must you;" cried Overbury, "it will be the safest
course both with him and her. You must woo as if you wooed not; never
affect in the King's presence to pay her much attention; but in those
moments which must often happen, and which you may make more frequent
if you will,--when, by the chances of the Court, you stand or sit
beside her, then ply her with soft words--breathe not the name of
love; but there are ways you know right well, to speak without a
tongue. Worship her beauty, descant on grace and symmetry, leaving her
to take the praises to herself. Tell her the colour of the eyes you
love the best, and be sure that the same hues shine under her dark
lashes. Have the same tastes; and, in opinions, only differ with her
to yield your own with faint resistance, and give her wit the triumph.
Let her perceive, without the slightest boast, that you are sought of
other lovely dames, but you seek her alone.--A thousand opportunities
must occur; but, as I have said, you may make many. When the King is
at the council, and during all those times at which he needs not your
presence, you can seek hers without seeming to do so. Often she walks
alone in the gardens or the park.--How easy to cross her solitary
ramble, and for a few minutes--but for a few--seize the occasion to
win regard. Even now, what prevents you from going to her at once,
with this petition in your hand, which she left with me for you! Tell
her that you had resolved never to present another, but that if it be
seriously her wish, your resolution must be broken. Then offer her
service, and express some regret that circumstances have not allowed
you hitherto to show her all the devotion which you feel. Follow this
line of conduct till the King's consent is gained; and leave it to me,
by hints and explanations, to give the true point to all you say."

"Well," said Rochester, rising, "I will go at once. Give me the
paper," and taking it from the hand of Overbury, he quitted the room.

"Heaven send," exclaimed his friend, "that, in striving to light this
flame in Arabella's breast, he may gain a spark of fire himself. Such
cold indifference never won a love-suit yet--I cannot believe he will
fail, with every advantage of person, youth, grace and beauty--the
King's favour--her only chance of marriage?--No, no, no! he cannot
fail, that is impossible;" and sitting down, he leant his head upon
his hand, in thought.

Two minutes after, however, Lord Rochester returned. "I cannot find
her," he said; "I saw her pretty Italian girl; and, by my life! the
maid's as lovely as the mistress.--I should not dislike to have such a
fair lute-player myself."

"Pshaw!" exclaimed Overbury, impatiently, "can she place you on the
steps of the throne? For heaven's sake, Rochester, take care," he
added, almost prophetically, "that some sweet mischief, such as this,
does not cast you down from where you already stand!"

"Oh, most grave and reverend youth," replied Rochester, laughing, "be
not afraid of my virtue. I will be as demure as a maid; and, though I
cannot promise thee to look at bright eyes without admiration, I'll
strangle the naughty sighs between my teeth, so that they reach not
fair Arabella's ears--I will now take the paper to the King, and leave
him not till I have got a warrant for the money. Then think with what
grace I will put it into her own soft hand, and say that I have
brought it to her, because I know it is her delight to make her
fellow-creatures happy.--I hope the hint is not too broad, companion,
that I look to her to make me happy too?"

"Seriously, seriously, Rochester, I pray you," said Sir Thomas
Overbury, "remember, this is no jesting matter, but one on which your
future fate depends."

"Grave as a judge will I be," replied Rochester, "in all the active
part of the drama; but the performers may laugh behind the scenes,
good Overbury. But I will away to the King. There we shall laugh
enough, I trow."

"Not with that in your hand," answered Overbury.

"Why, it may cause a storm at first," rejoined the favourite; "but if
I find the dear pedagogue is very poor, I will lend his Majesty the
money. Then he will call me a _fule_, and the farmer a gowk; and the
business will end in laughter, however it may begin."

Thus saying, he left his friend in the cabinet, giving him a gay nod
as he went out. But Overbury could not be cheerful: there was a
heaviness in his heart which he could not account for, which some
might think was a presentiment of coming evil; but it was only the
load of manifold cares and ever-frowning anxieties, which try the
muscles of ambition in its upward course.



                             CHAPTER XX.


Who has not heard of the masque at Theobalds--perhaps the most
disgraceful scene that ever took place in an English court? and yet it
is into the midst of that extraordinary spectacle of disgusting excess
that we must lead the reader for a short time, together with some of
the fairest and the best of the personages in our tale.

Not long after those conversations took place which we have in the
last chapter detailed, the King, the Queen, and the whole Court were
invited to spend a few days at the princely mansion of the Earl of
Salisbury, to revel with the King of Denmark, who was then visiting
England, and had just returned to the capital from a short tour
through some of our rural districts.

The presence of this monarch in England had tended to anything but to
improve the morality or decency of the people. A coarse-minded
barbarian, with some of the virtues, but almost all the vices of a
half-savage state, could not, indeed, be expected to aid the progress
of civilization in a court where he was courted, flattered, and looked
up to as the brother of a Queen, whose affability of manners, in
default of higher qualities, had rendered her undeservedly popular.

It must not be supposed, however, that the higher classes in Great
Britain were universally polished, or free from gross faults, at the
time he came. There were many, it is true, in England, as probably
will always be the case, who, in point of demeanour, as well as
virtue--of genius, as well as goodness, excelled any others on the
earth. But there was a great mass, as there is still and ever will be,
noble by birth, but not in heart; high by station, but not in
principle. The rude insolence which the Scottish courtiers had brought
to the English capital, filled it with feuds and bloodshed; the
example of some of the most distinguished women of the court spread
immorality abroad like a pestilence; and the Ordinary, so admirably
depicted by Sir Walter Scott, finished the education of the young
courtiers in gaming, and the excesses of the table. But it was not
alone the house of Monsieur de Beaujeu which was open for such orgies,
nor were they persons of high rank who alone frequented such abodes;
for, at the time I speak of, there were hundreds of these dens of
iniquity held in different parts of the town, where every man chose
his own scale of vice and indulgence, and ruined himself or his
neighbours, cut his own throat, or run his best friend though the
body, according as skill and inclination might combine.

It was to the King of Denmark, however, that the Court owed the gross
habit of intoxication, which now became general, and which lasted from
that time to a period not long before the present day. He first
revived the barbarous notion in the land, that excess of drinking can
be honourable; and it spread with extraordinary rapidity through all
classes, affecting not alone the men, but the women of the higher
ranks. Many lamentable scenes produced by this vice are to be found
depicted in the papers of Winwood, and other contemporaries, but
perhaps the most celebrated of all, from the disgusting excess to
which the beastly sin was carried, took place at Theobalds, on the
occasion to which we now refer.

Hospitality reigned in the mansion, even to profusion; the cellar was
free to any one who might choose to use it; the door of the buttery
stood open day and night; and the royal table actually flowed with
wine.

For the entertainments of the second day of the royal visit, a masque
had been prepared by the owner of the mansion; but it was
unfortunately appointed to succeed a grand banquet, at which all the
Court was present. As what was then considered a delicate compliment
to the King, who continued to affect, notwithstanding the bitter
sarcasm of Henry IV. of France, the title of the English Solomon, the
masque was intended to represent the visit of the Queen of Sheba to
the wise Sovereign of the Jews. The great hall, next to the
banqueting-room, was fitted up as the Temple of Jerusalem; and at the
upper end a dais and canopy were raised for the two Monarchs, the
Queen, and the principal ladies of the court.

The banquet I will not describe. Suffice it to say, it was over; and
with unsteady steps the Kings proceeded to take their seats with the
Queen, and all the principal ladies in attendance upon her. The
Princess Elizabeth was not present, and Arabella Stuart, from her
royal blood, was seated next to Anne of Denmark. Many of the followers
of the old court who had received but little encouragement from James,
had, with laudable feeling, been invited by the Earl of Salisbury; and
amongst the rest, was our good friend Sir Harry West. Though the King
took no notice of him, and many of the young courtiers thought fit to
wonder how such an antiquated specimen of the Elizabethan days had
come thither, the sweet lady whose tale we tell had stopped to speak
to him as she passed onward to her seat, giving him her hand, and
calling him cousin, from his distant relationship to the family of
Cavendish.

"I beseech you, Sir Harry," she said, in a low voice, after a few
words of courtesy, "stand behind me on the dais, and leave me not if
you can help it, It will be doing me a great service to let me
converse with you, rather than with one who, I fear, may be too near."

"I will be there," replied Sir Harry; and though there is always some
difficulty in making such arrangements in a crowded court, the old
knight, proceeding with his usual calm self-possession and firm
experience, had reached the back of Arabella's chair by the time she
was seated.

The moment after, the Viscount Rochester approached; and, though he
was not one to attempt to displace a gentleman of Sir Harry West's
years and reputation, he looked a little mortified, and took a
position on the other side of the lady, nearer to the Queen. Arabella
looked round to see if her old friend was there; and Rochester, who,
to his credit be it spoken, was quite sober, seized the opportunity to
bend over her, expressing in courteous terms, though somewhat
unpolished language, a hope that she did not suffer from the heat.

The lady replied with all due civility, but briefly; and, as she did
so, her eyes were brought to the opposite side of the circle, where
sat some other ladies of the court; and there, to her surprise, she
beheld the lovely countenance of the Countess of Essex gazing upon her
with an expression of fierce anger, which she could not at all
comprehend. Without much care to discover what was the cause, however,
and merely following her own plan, she turned instantly to the other
side, where Sir Harry West stood a step behind her, and said a few
words to him in a low tone. The knight answered, and Arabella
rejoined, but their conversation was speedily interrupted by the
commencement of the masque.

The gilded and painted pillars, intended for the columns of Solomon's
Temple, were suddenly illuminated by girandoles of lights round the
capitals, and a flourish of trumpets was heard without, when, followed
by numerous attendants, a masked lady, carrying a casket in her hand,
and representing the Queen of Sheba, entered the hall, and advanced
towards the two Kings. The casket was loaded with a variety of shining
things made in sugar, by the art of an Italian confectioner, which,
though assuming the form of jewels and precious stones, contained
within jellies, and syrups, and perfumes. It was remarked by those
persons in the court, who had not themselves paid their devotions too
deeply to the god of the grape, that the step of the Queen of Sheba
was quite as unsteady as that of her prototype might be supposed to
have been upon the sea of glass. She contrived, notwithstanding, to
reach the dais; but there, whether her feet failed her, or whether she
stumbled over the step does not appear, but she fell head foremost
into the lap of the King of Denmark, bespattering him with her
confectionery in a most unseemly manner. Confused and ashamed, she
started up, though not without assistance; and her mask falling off,
displayed the face of one of the first ladies of the court, with a
heightened colour, and eyes somewhat void of expression.

The Danish monarch himself, who was good-humoured in his cups,
instantly started up to console the overthrown lady; and calling
loudly to the musicians to begin an air which he named, he declared he
would dance a measure with the Queen of Sheba. Unfortunately, however,
he did not well calculate his own powers, and in the very first
effort, after reeling for a moment from side to side, he fell prone at
her feet, well nigh bringing her to the ground along with him.

A scene of confusion ensued, such as is happily seldom witnessed at a
court; in the midst of which, the Eastern Queen very wisely effected
her retreat, and his Danish Majesty was taken up by four stout ushers,
and carried into a neighbouring bed-chamber, dripping with the jellies
and syrups which his fair partner had so unceremoniously bestowed upon
his garments.

It is probable that the scene would have ended there, had not James,
who never chose to be disappointed in his amusements, insisted upon
the spectacle proceeding; and three ladies were introduced as Faith,
Hope and Charity, gorgeously dressed, though with no very light or
heavenly vestments.

The farther proceedings of the masque we shall describe in the words
of an eye-witness, in order to win the reader's belief for things
scarcely credible.

"Hope," says Sir John Harrington in his Nug[ae], "did essay to speak;
but wine rendered her endeavours so feeble, that she withdrew, and
hoped the King would excuse her brevity. Faith was then alone, for I
am certain she was not joined with Good Works, and left the Court in a
staggering condition. Charity came to the King's feet, and seemed to
cover the multitude of sins her sisters had committed. In some sort
she made obeisance and brought gifts, but said she would return home
again, as there was no gift which heaven has not already given his
Majesty. She then returned to Faith and Hope, who were both sick in
the lower hall. Next came Victory in bright armour, and, by a strange
medley of versification, did endeavour to make suit to the King; but
Victory did not triumph long, for, after much lamentable utterance,
she was led away like a silly captive, and laid to sleep in the outer
steps of the antechamber. Now Peace did make her entry, and strive to
get foremost to the King; but I grieve to tell now great wrath she did
discover unto those of her attendants, and much contrary to her
semblance, most rudely made war with her olive branch, and laid on the
pates of those who did oppose her coming."

Thus ended an exhibition, disgraceful to all concerned, and painful to
those who witnessed it. To Arabella Stuart it had, as the reader may
suppose, caused not a little grief and annoyance. She felt ashamed of
her sex, of her class, of her society; and during the last act of this
strange scene, she had turned her eyes away, suffering them to wander
over the crowd of persons who lined the hall on either side, and
occupied a considerable space at the end.

In the meanwhile, Lord Rochester, who, though not constantly
maintaining his position near her, always returned to it, had
endeavoured more than once to engage her in conversation, but, to say
truth, without much success. At last, however, he perceived that her
voice, in answering some question he addressed to her, suddenly
faltered, and her reply stopped abruptly.

"Is anything the matter, lady?" asked Sir Harry West, who saw her
cheek turn deadly pale.

"I am faint," replied Arabella, "--the heat, I think----"

"Will you go out into the air?" asked the old knight; but, at the same
time, his eyes followed hers to a spot at the farther extremity of the
hall, towards which they were turned, and an involuntary exclamation
of "Ha!" broke from his lips.

It was just at this moment, however, that the group representing Peace
and Abundance entered the hall; and the noise and confusion which
prevailed drew attention in another direction.

"Would you like to retire?" again asked the old knight.

"No," replied Arabella, "no, I shall be better in a moment--this
cannot last long. Would to Heaven it had never taken place!"

"It is, indeed, a disgusting affair," replied Sir Harry West. "My
Lord, I wonder if his Majesty would object to that window being
opened, for the lady is faint with the heat, and the King himself
looks over warm."

"Oh no," exclaimed Lord Rochester, "I will open it in a minute, and
give Solomon some air. Would your Majesty be pleased to let in a
little of the breath of heaven," he continued, moving to the King's
chair, "for it seems we have too much of the breath of earth here."

"Well flavoured with sack and canary," answered the King, "but we'll
soon get out of the _hotter_. Don't you see, Peace and Plenty are
retreating in confusion? and, methinks, it will be wise to go out upon
the terrace, and refresh ourselves in the evening air. The moon is
shining, is it not? Give me your arm, Carro. I-fegs, though our head
be as strong as that of most folk, the good wine of my Lord of
Salisbury is well nigh as much as we can carry."

The King and Queen then rose; and, according to the proposal of James,
the whole party issued forth into the wide ornamented grounds--with
one exception. Arabella Stuart, whispering to Anne of Denmark that she
was somewhat faint, but would rejoin her in a few minutes, darted away
to her own room, where, casting herself on her knees beside her bed,
she hid her face upon her hands, and prayed. Her prayers were not
unmingled with tears, however; and when she rose, her eyes were red.

"They may see that I have been weeping," she said to herself, "and I
may as well put a mask upon my face as upon my heart. There will be
others in similar guise;" and taking up the rarely-used black velvet
mask which lay upon her dressing table, she hurried down by the small
staircase, which led from her apartments, to rejoin the Queen on the
terrace. At the foot of the stairs, close to the doorway by which she
was going out, stood a tall and graceful figure leaning against the
pillar. He drew a step back as she approached, with a cold and
respectful air. But Arabella suddenly stopped, exclaiming, "Seymour!
Do you not know me?" and she put up her hand to remove her mask.

"Nay, nay," he said, stopping her; "I know you right well, sweet
lady,--no mask can hide Arabella from William Seymour."

"Then what is the matter?" she asked, in surprise; "why did you not
let me know that you were returned from exile?"

"Better, perhaps, not have returned at all," replied Seymour, in a
grave tone.

"Oh, Seymour!" exclaimed Arabella. But at that moment, a door on the
other side of the passage opened, giving admission to some servants
carrying plates and dishes from the banqueting room; and Arabella,
fearful of being recognised, hurried forward, and joined the Queen
upon the terrace.

She found that almost every lady had resumed her mask, on the
pretence, common in that day, of guarding her complexion from the air.
The company had broken up into various groups, and were scattered over
the grounds in the moonlight, with the liberty which Anne of Denmark
encouraged in the court; and as soon as the Queen saw Arabella, she
exclaimed, "Away, away, my pretty cousin! Find thee a mate for the
evening. We have cast off royal restraints, and for the next hour are
as free as the wind."

Arabella looked round, but the mate whom her heart would have fondly
sought for that hour, or for the whole of life, was not near; and,
fixing hastily upon good Sir Harry West, she advanced to the place
where he stood, saying, "Come, my dear good friend, the Queen wills
that I choose a partner for the evening's gossip, and so I will
inflict myself on you."

"Alas, lady," replied the old knight, walking on by her side; "you
might have chosen a younger and a gayer heart."

"A younger, but not a gayer," replied Arabella, in a cheerful tone;
"for we will be as merry as skylarks together. What is there in the
world worth being sad about?--When one has found out that love sooner
or later waxes cold; that hope goes out at last like an exhausted
lamp; that courtesy has its changes, like every other fashion; that
temperance and soberness can give up their place among the virtues to
drunkenness and excess--what is there in the world sufficiently
valuable to make us give it a sigh when we see it passing away?"

"Right gloomy merriment, dear lady!" answered the knight, with a shake
of the head; "but yet not of the sort that falls upon old age. The
shade upon you, is but that cast by some passing cloud, not the grey
twilight of declining day.--What has happened? Has your bird got out
of the cage, and flown away?

"No," replied Arabella, quickly, "he has come back again and pecked my
hand.--But here hurries Lord Rochester.--In pity leave me not.--Ha!
who is that sweet lady joins him now, and hangs upon his arm?" she
continued, speaking to herself "Many thanks, fair dame!--many thanks
for keeping him from me.--I pray thee hold him fast--and she does too!
Who can that be, Sir Harry?"

"The Countess of Essex, I think," answered the knight.

"Oh no," replied Arabella, "she had on a robe of amber and
silver--that is dark blue or green, I think."

"She has had time to change it," said the knight, "and she it
certainly is. That queenly, yet impetuous step is not to be mistaken,
nor that glorious form, harbouring--what?"

"I know not," replied Arabella; "we are but little acquainted."

"Ay, who shall say?" rejoined Sir Harry West, "at eighteen, who shall
say, whether it be angel or devil? for the fallen Morning Star shone
once as bright as the best in heaven."

"Fie, fie, Sir Harry!" cried Arabella. "I thought that beauty
now-a-days was the great good, the pledge and warrant of celestial
excellence--who ever speaks of aught but beauty? If a lover would
please me, he fixes on my fine points, as a jockey describing his
horse. My eyes are certain to put out the stars. It is my lip that
makes the roses blush with envy. Pearls have quite lost their price,
since my teeth came to court; and sculptors are quite ruined in
alabaster, trying to imitate my skin. Fie, fie, Sir Harry! If she be
beautiful, she must be an angel."

"She has not made her husband think so," replied Sir Harry West. "But
here comes another to join us--my young friend, William Seymour. Will
you fly from him, too, lady? or shall I leave you to his care?"

"Nay, stay," cried Arabella, eagerly--too eagerly; "stay, I beseech
you."

Was it her heart spoke? Yes, reader; or rather the agitation that was
in it. She feared herself at that moment--she feared to be left alone
with him she loved the best, at a time when her thoughts were all in
confusion--when her bosom was full of emotion, lest she should say or
do something rashly that could never be recalled. In another instant,
however, Seymour was by her side; but he, too, was agitated; and
though she had hidden, under her gay speeches to Sir Harry West, the
struggling sensation within her, she could do so no longer, with her
lover by her side. Thus, the few sentences first spoken on both parts
were incoherent--almost unintelligible.

The old knight came to their aid, however, asking his young friend, in
a quiet, conversational tone, when he had returned.

"But yesterday," replied William Seymour. "One fortnight ago, I
received the King's permission to come back; and, setting off next
morning, I have since ridden post through France and part of Italy,
taking not much time, as you may suppose, to admire the beauties of
the road."

"No, good faith, my young friend," replied Sir Harry West, "nor to
give yourself much repose either."

"True," answered Seymour, with a sigh; "I sought no repose. I was
winged with hope and expectation--going back to my native land, to all
I loved the best, in the full confidence of finding hearts unchanged,
and affections the same. But it was a boy-like error, Sir Harry. The
first rumour that met me showed that time, as well as fortune, changes
favour; and all that I have seen this night, makes me think that
everything on earth is, as the Jewish King has said, lighter than
vanity."

"Something like your own complaint, sweet lady," said Sir Harry West;
"a moment ago you were painting the world in the same gloomy colours."

"I said," replied Arabella, "that there is nothing on earth worth
sighing for--and, in truth, I think so still; for the events we long
for most eagerly, generally end in disappointment or anguish."

"Well, then, you are both agreed, it seems," said Sir Harry West.
"'Tis strange that you should come to the same conclusion on the same
night."

"Sir Harry, Sir Harry!" cried a voice from the terrace above; "his
Majesty wishes to speak with you. You must give judgment between him
and the Ambassador from Florence, on a passage in Dante, which his
Excellency pretends he can translate into English better than his
Majesty."

"Now, heaven defend me!" exclaimed the old knight. "Would that the
moon had not lighted them to look for me. But I must leave the lady
under your charge, Seymour," and away he sped, while Arabella stood
hesitating for a moment, whether to accompany him or not.

But woman's heart is always willing to leave a door open for
reconciliation, and though she said, "I think we had better follow to
the terrace," she took no step that way.

"As you please, lady," replied Seymour, without moving in that
direction.

Arabella turned round to go; but love conquered, and pausing suddenly,
she said, "No! The opportunity may never come again, and it shall not
be said, that I resented the first unkindness of a rash man. We will
go the other way."

"Unkindness, Arabella!" cried Seymour. "'Tis not I am unkind."

"Then you would say, it is I?" exclaimed Arabella.

"Nay," replied Seymour, in a sad tone, "I do not say so. I have no
title to charge you with unkindness. What right have I to expect that
you should remember me through several long years; that you should
neglect happier men with fairer fortunes, for the sake of one whom you
once condescended--may I say it now-a-days?--to love."

"What right?" said Arabella. "Oh, Seymour, do you ask me what right? I
might as well inquire of my own heart what right I have to feel this
anguish, when I see him to whom all my thoughts have been given for
years--for whose return I have looked with anxious hope and longing,
till delay did, indeed, make the heart sick, come back at length cold
and indifferent as if we had scarcely ever met. But I make no such
foolish inquiries. I have a right, the right of true affection, the
right of pledged and plighted faith, the right, if you will, of sorrow
and suffering--and by that right, I ask you, William Seymour, what is
it that has changed you thus?"

"Nay, Arabella," he replied, "'tis not I am changed--'tis you."

"Hush," she said, "here are people coming near;" but the other group
passed without noticing them; and she then added, "I will be coarse
with you, Seymour, and speak boldly, what no man, I think, would dare
to say, that you tell a falsehood. I am not changed."

"Oh, prove it to me!" cried Seymour, "and I will say it is the
sweetest insult ever I received. Is it not true, then, that you
encourage this minion of the King, this raw untutored Scot, whose
woman face and glittering apparel has turned all heads, it seems, and
perverted all hearts.

"I!" exclaimed Arabella, "I encourage him! Is it possible that that
mad-headed passion, jealousy, should so far take possession of a
sober-minded man, as to make him forget everything he has known of
one, whose heart he once pretended to think the most valuable thing he
could possess on earth? Oh, if that heart could be so hollow and so
false, what an empty, valueless gewgaw it would be! Come, I forgive
thee, Seymour; if the yellow fiend has got thee in his hands, he has
tormented thee too much already for me to add one punishment more. But
I will have full confession by whom, by what, where, and how, came
this outrageous fancy in thy head, my friend."

"That is told at once," exclaimed her lover. "I heard it last night in
London, from my brother. I saw the man this night beside you with my
eyes."

"Ay," replied the lady, "and might have seen, too, if you had used
them well, poor Arabella nearly fainting, when she caught the face of
an ungrateful man gazing at her from the far end of the hall. I will
not tell you it was with joy--it might be with fear, you know. Your
wife, your pledged and plighted wife, might well tremble and turn
pale, and nearly sink upon the ground, when you detected her listening
to sweet words from the king's fluttering favourite. Think so,
Seymour--think so, if you can! But hark! here are steps coming--Sir
Harry West--we must break off."

"But how--tell me how," cried Seymour, "I can see you again--how write
to you?"

"See me?" replied Arabella, hastily; "I know not; chance and fortune
must favour us. But as to writing, you may trust Ida Mara with
anything."

"Ida Mara!--who is she?" asked her lover.

"One of my gentlewomen," replied Arabella, in a gay tone; "the only
one, indeed, except two little maids that wait on her and me. But here
is Sir Harry West," she continued, turning towards the old knight as
he approached, "he will tell you more about her, for on my truth I
think the girl is in love with him, and he with her. Is it not so, Sir
Harry?--we speak of Ida Mara."

Good Sir Harry West made no denial of the fact, but told the lady that
the Queen was about to retire; and Arabella followed him towards the
terrace; but, as she went, she took care that Seymour should have so
full a description of the fair Italian, that he could find no
difficulty in distinguishing her from the other attendants at the
Court. Walking by her side, he crossed the terrace with her towards
the Queen, but took his leave before she joined the royal circle, and
was soon lost to her sight amongst the various groups that were
scattered over the ground.

The Court and the courtiers still, for several hours, prolonged their
revels in the halls of Theobalds; and cups of wine were drunk, and
scenes of folly enacted, which I will not pause to enumerate or
describe. Laughter, and song, and gaming, and many a vice, and many an
absurdity, had there to take place before morning; but for Arabella
Stuart, the day ended with the walk in the gardens.



                             CHAPTER XXI.


The reader does not require to be informed, that the aspect of London
in those days was very different from that which it shows at present.
The great fire had not yet swept away that foul nest of narrow streets
and tall houses, in which the plague lingered, almost as
pertinaciously as in the lanes of an Oriental city; nor had the
increasing population yet spread itself over the fields, or swallowed
up the villages, by which the great metropolis of England was
surrounded in former times, but which have been gradually covered with
the mansions of succeeding races of the fashionable world, and fringed
by the snug villas of commercial men, till the town is so gradually
blended with the country, that it is scarcely possible to say where
the one ends and the other begins.

Those large squares which have retained, in some instances to the
present day, the name of fields, were then fields indeed. Boys and
girls went a-Maying where balls and suppers are now held; and within
about a quarter of a mile of Lincoln's Inn, a small, tall-chimneyed
house, four stories high on one side, and two on another, with a round
tower of brick-work added to contain the staircase, which seemed to
have been forgotten in the original construction, rose in the midst of
a garden, very near the spot where gentlemen in curious wigs and black
gowns now hurry about to plead the cause of the rich, but not in
general of the poor, if they can help it.

At the garden gate of this house, in the beginning of August, a coach
stopped one day about three of the clock, and two ladies with the
usual masks on their faces descended, and walked with a quick pace
towards the door in the round tower. Before they reached it, however,
that door was opened by the small page whom we have seen accompanying
Master Weston, otherwise Doctor Foreman, and who, when at home, had
the office, which he performed most acutely, of looking through a
small loophole in the tower, to examine strictly all the personages
who approached the Doctor's house.

Without any question, the two ladies walked straight up stairs, and,
tapping at the door on the second floor, were answered by a voice from
within which bade them enter. The shorter and stouter immediately
lifted the latch, and then drew back, to suffer her taller and more
graceful companion to pass. The other lady did so, and, advancing
straight to the table, touched the worthy Doctor Foreman on the
shoulder, without, however, prevailing upon him to raise his head from
some strange and extraordinary figures, which he was tracing with a
pen upon a slip of parchment. His gay and glittering attire, as a
foreign cavalier, had now been cast aside, and he was robed in a black
gown trimmed with fur, having a small velvet cap upon his head. So
profoundly busy did he seem, that all he replied, when the Countess of
Essex touched him, was "Enter--enter, why do you not come in?"

"The man's mad," cried the Countess.

"No, no," replied Mrs. Turner; "does not your Ladyship see that he is
abstracted? You must let him finish what he is about; your own fate
may depend upon it, for aught you know."

With this warning the Countess stood silent; but her impatient spirit
still moved her to keep beating the ground with her small foot, till
at length Doctor Foreman exclaimed, as he drew two more new figures at
the bottom of the vellum--"Gimmel, Alsaneth;" and then looked round,
as if in surprise to see any one in the room but himself. As soon as
he perceived--or appeared to perceive--the Countess, he started up,
exclaiming, "Bless me, beautiful Lady! I beg your Ladyship's pardon.
Pray be seated. What is the news with you? 'Tis long since I have had
the honour of seeing you. Has all gone according to your wish?"

"Good faith, no: much to the contrary," replied the Countess, seating
herself, and taking off her mask;--and here it is to be remarked that
a great change had come over her, in her demeanour to the respectable
Doctor Foreman, since first she was introduced to that worthy and
scientific person. She had now seen him several times; all shame and
reserve had been cast off; her criminal love and its object were fully
avowed; and, entangled in the snares of the impostor and his
unprincipled associate, she was ready to engage in any rash act,
however disgraceful, to accomplish her dark and vicious purposes. Nor
let the reader for one moment doubt the truth of these assertions; let
him not, filled with the notions and enlightened by the knowledge of
the present day, ask himself if it be possible that a lady, of the
highest rank and education of the time, could be the dupe of such a
charlatan, and so low and infamous a woman? Let him not suppose that
the tale is invented or embellished by the writer; for it is
absolutely true, and stands based upon the evidence given before a
court of justice. There may be, indeed, particulars still more gross
than any here detailed--views still more wicked--follies still more
flagrant--for much must be suppressed that would offend a pure and
delicate mind--but let it be remembered that all these scenes are
rather undercoloured than overcharged.

"I thought at one time, indeed," continued the Countess, "that your
art was having its effect, for I met him at Theobalds, and, for the
first time, saw something like the light of love in his eyes. But all
has gone wrong since I returned to London. My father insists that I
shall go home to that hateful wretch, to whom I am tied by such cruel
bonds; and, if I do so, I shall die of grief and despair."

"Madam," said the Doctor, "I grieve for you deeply, but it is not in
my power to control destiny. All that I told you was, that by the use
of certain powders and drugs, such as William Shakespeare speaks of in
the Midsummer Night's Dream, where he says--

         'The juice of it on sleeping eyelids laid,
          Will make a man or woman madly doat
          Upon the next live creature that it sees;'

I can change hate or indifference into love, and love into hate, so
that he who now cares nought for you, may soon be at your feet; and he
who now loves you, may soon be as cold as ice."

"Then give me some--give me some of the latter," she cried, eagerly,
"that I may mix it with all the food of this half-husband of mine,
that he may learn to detest me as I detest him. Would he but consent,
the iron bond between us might soon be broken; but I cannot take the
ways that other women would to win my purpose. If I persuade and
soothe, it will but waken his love the more."

"No, no," said Foreman, "you must not do that!--You must repel him
coldly--show your dislike--look as if you loathed his sight."

"That were no great effort," cried the Countess; "it is my daily food
to hate him.--But hark! there is a noise. Look out, Turner, look out."

"Half-a-dozen gentlemen, as I live," exclaimed Mrs. Turner, "coming
straight along the path towards the house too.--I do believe they are
gentlemen of my Lord of Suffolk, your noble father, lady.--Yes, there
is Sir John Walters, as I live! Have you no hiding place, Doctor?"

"'Twere useless--'twere useless," answered the Countess, with a look
of disdain; "the coach is at the gate; and I am not a baby, to be
frightened at the look of my father's gentlemen. Come, quick, sirrah,
give me some of that powder of hate you talk of."

"We weigh it, madam," said Foreman, hesitating, "at the rate of one
gold noble per grain, but a small portion goes a great way."

"There, give me plenty," she cried, throwing a purse upon the table;
and Foreman, taking it up, hurried to a little cabinet at the side,
and took out several small packets.

At the same instant, the impostor's boy knocked at the door of the
room; and the Countess exclaimed boldly, "Come in."

"There be six gentlemen at the door," he said, "inquiring if the
Countess of Essex be here?"

"Tell them she is," replied the Countess, "and if they want her, they
must wait her pleasure below.--Come, sir, is that ready?"

"It is, madam," said the Doctor, giving her the powders.

"Ha!" exclaimed she, gazing at them with a triumphant smile, "if these
will make him hate me, he shall soon have them all, though it drove
him well nigh to murder me. Oh! if I could but make him strike me!
Now, sir, to you I must leave the task of working upon Lord Rochester;
he is now in London, and you can easily find means----"

"Fear not, madam, fear not," replied the impostor, who heard a heavy
step upon the stairs; and, to say the truth, was anxious to get rid of
his fair guest, for fear of inquiries not the most profitable to him.
"Fear not, madam; I will so manage it, that----"

"The gentlemen will come up!" cried the boy, thrusting in his head.
The moment after, he was pushed aside; and a stout middle-aged man
entered, on whom the bright eyes of the Countess flashed living fire.

"How dare you, Sir John Walters," she exclaimed, "intrude upon me in
this manner?"

"I have your father's orders, my Lady," replied Sir John, "to bring
you to him directly. He has something of importance to communicate."

"Well, sir," said the Countess, "I suppose I must obey; but be you
sure that I will soon break through this tutelage;" and, passing him
with a look of angry disdain, she descended the stairs, walked through
the midst of the gentlemen at the door, without noticing any of them,
and entered her coach.

The vehicle was driven immediately to the house of the Earl of
Suffolk; and an angry spot was still upon the cheek of the fair
Countess when she entered her father's gates. Fear and timidity were
not in her nature; and she walked at once to the room where she
expected to find him. She was surprised, however, and somewhat
dismayed, it must be confessed, not only to behold her two parents,
but her sister and the Earl of Essex. Her mother was in tears, and her
father's brow stern and dark, while her husband stood with his arms
folded on his chest, looking sad, rather than out of temper.

Passing him by, without the slightest notice, Lady Essex advanced
straight towards her father, saying, "You sent for me, sir?"

"I did, Frances," he replied; "it was to let you know my will. Here
stands your husband, madam, to whose house you have refused to go, on
one pretence or another, ever since he returned to England to claim
you as his bride. I beseech you, my child, in courteous decency, to
give your hand to this noble gentleman, and let him lead you
home;--for this is your home no longer."

"I dare say, my Lord," replied the Countess, unabashed, "that I could
find another without troubling him."

"You see," cried her father,--"bear witness all, that no remonstrance
or parental solicitation has any effect! Now, madam, hear! The coach,
which is to convey you with your husband to his seat of Chartley, is
at the door: your wardrobe is packed up to follow. From this room you
go to that conveyance.--Nay, not a word; for if you walk not soberly,
you shall be compelled; and down to Chartley with what grace you may.
I trust that, ere I see your face again, a change will be wrought in
your heart, and that I shall be enabled to welcome back the daughter
gladly, whom I now part with in displeasure."

Lady Essex made a great effort to speak; but it was in vain; and she
burst into a passionate flood of tears.

"Come, lady," said Lord Essex, in a gentle tone, taking her hand,
"believe me, I will do all that man can do to win your love, and to
secure your happiness."

"You can do neither, sir!" replied the Countess; "but I am your slave,
it seems. Have you no chains ready? Let us go!" and, without bidding
adieu to any one, she walked straight to the door.

We will pass over the journey to Chartley, the cold hatred with which
she repelled her husband's love by the way, and the first week of
their sojourn at that beautiful seat.

It was on the evening of a bright day in the same month, while the
whole world was looking gay and cheerful without, that the Earl
entered his wife's drawing-room, where all was dark and gloomy. The
windows were closed, the curtains drawn; for she had never suffered
them to be opened since her arrival. A single lamp stood upon the
table; and by its faint light the Countess sat and wept. She raised
neither her head nor her eyes when the step of her husband sounded in
the chamber, but continued fixed and motionless, like a beautiful
statue representing angry grief. Lord Essex drew a seat to the other
side of the table, and, sitting down, gazed at her for a moment or two
in silence.

"Dry your tears, madam," he said at length.

"That is at least a privilege you cannot take from me, sir," she
replied. "When in my childhood, now six years ago, I took a vow I did
not understand, I never promised not to weep."

"Dry your tears, I say, madam!" he rejoined, in a tone both of
sternness and sadness; "for the cause of their flowing is about to be
removed."

The Countess started, and looked up.

"I will claim your attention for a moment," he continued; "and you
shall hear the result of some consideration. You and I were married at
an early age, as the custom is----"

"It is a bad one," said the Countess. "Go on."

"But if you were not capable," continued her husband, "of loving and
esteeming at that age, I was; and I returned to England to claim you,
full of affection, which, as you may suppose, was not diminished when
I saw your beauty. I have now been here nearly two months; and I have
tried, by every means within man's power, to win you to return the
attachment I have felt. The effort has proved vain. I have learned to
know that you are unworthy of my love; that, instead of that fair form
containing a heart and mind as soft and beautiful as your looks, there
is nothing within but a proud, angry spirit--selfish, and cold, and
fierce;--a loathsome thing, that makes the glittering casket in which
it is enshrined all poor and valueless. I therefore cast you off,
madam; or, as you will term it, set you free to go whithersoever you
will--to do whatsoever you please. Your uncle, of Northampton, will
receive you, for my good Lord, your father, will not. From me you
shall enjoy such an income as may befit the Countess of Essex. I give
it in honour of my own name, and trust--but faintly--that you will
never disgrace it. To-morrow, at daybreak, your equipage will be at
the door to convey you back to London. You came down hither with me
against your will; but, if I were to go back again with you, it would
be against my own."

"Oh, joy, joy!" cried the Countess, starting up and clasping her
hands. "I am  a slave no longer!"

Her husband gave her one look of scorn and reprobation, and quitted
the room.



                            CHAPTER XXII.


Shakespeare assured his hearers, in the age of which we are now
writing, "the course of true love never did run smooth," and the
assertion is certainly as true as a proverb. When Arabella Stuart
retired to her chamber for the night, her heart was relieved of part
of the load which her lover's apparently strange conduct had brought
upon it; yet sufficient anxiety and grief remained in her mind, to
give her ample subject for thought and sorrowful meditation. She was
still a little angry, it must be confessed, that Seymour should even
have doubted her--her, whose whole thoughts and affections had been
with him during his absence. But yet, perhaps, there might be a
certain sort of gratification, too, in her bosom, to see that his love
for her still remained so powerful, that the least apprehension of
losing her should change his whole nature, and render one, so
uniformly kind, tender, and ardent,--cold, discourteous, and
repulsive. It was a little triumph of its sort, which even Arabella's
heart could not but be pleased with.

Hers, however, was not a character either to retain such anger, or
enjoy such triumph long; and the whole was soon swallowed up in joy at
his return, and grief for the uneasiness he had suffered. The more
painful part of her contemplations referred to the rumours which he
had heard; and she asked herself with fear,--what if the King should
have given encouragement to his favourite to pursue the suit for her
hand?--what would be her fate if James, won to the views of Rochester,
should insist upon her accepting him as her husband? How could such
rumours get abroad? she inquired likewise, unless some much more
marked approbation of Rochester's ambition than any of her own acts
had given, had been received from a quarter where will and authority
went together?

Women, however, have generally a happy art of putting aside the
consideration of painful probabilities. They have much greater faith
in the influence of time and accident in removing obstacles and
averting dangers than men; and Arabella consoled herself with the hope
of seeing William Seymour on the following morning, and enjoying an
interview, however short, during which all clouds would be swept away,
and their whole hearts opened to each other as before.

Such expectations were strengthened ere she retired to rest. Ida Mara,
who had not been in her chamber when she first returned, appeared not
long after, while one of the maids was combing their lady's beautiful
long hair, and, standing beside her, as was her wont when she was at
her toilet, talked gaily of all the pageants which Lord Salisbury's
mansion had presented during the day, and described the hall, through
which she had just passed, as displaying a lamentable, yet ludicrous
scene of drunkenness and folly.

When the lady was undressed, she told her attendants to leave her as
usual to her prayers; but the pretty Italian girl begged leave to
remain a moment, saying that she had something to tell her mistress;
and the moment the two maids were gone, she took a note from her
bosom, and put it into Arabella's hand.

"Dear lady," she cried at the same time, "do you know that the
gentleman who, with Sir Lewis Lewkenor, escorted you to Wilton long,
long ago, has come back again? I found him standing at the bottom of
the stairs just now; and, the moment he saw me, he asked if my name
was not Ida Mara, and then gave me that note, with directions to
deliver it when you were alone. Oh, you will be so glad to see him!"

"How know you that, Ida Mara?" exclaimed Arabella, with a smile.

"Because you wept when he went away," replied the girl, archly, "and
have sighed ever since, when I talked to you of Italy."

"Well, Ida Mara," answered her mistress, "you must tell no one that I
wept when he went away, for it might be dangerous to him and to me."

"Then I would die first," cried the girl; and Arabella, opening the
note, read a few hasty lines from William Seymour, beseeching her to
walk early in the park on the following morning, before the rest of
the Court was stirring. "I have a thousand things to say," continued
Seymour, "a thousand things to tell, a thousand things to ask
forgiveness for."

Arabella's heart fluttered; for, although she had no
hesitation,--though she looked upon herself as bound to him by every
tie, and believed that she had no right to refuse any reasonable
request, yet there was something in the idea of purposely going out to
meet him, which agitated, if it did not alarm her.

Telling Ida Mara to wake her early, she retired to rest; but little
sleep did poor Arabella gain that night, and by daybreak on the
following morning she was up and at her toilet. Scarcely had she
commenced, however, when Ida Mara entered, informing her that the
whole Court was on foot, the King having been ill in the night, and
about to set out immediately for London.

The lady finished dressing herself in haste, and, descending the
stairs, went out by the small postern door opening upon the terrace.
Leaving that exposed spot as soon as she could, she proceeded by a
flight of steps into the gardens below, and thence, by a long straight
walk, towards a long avenue, which, though now long cut down, was in
those days one of the greatest ornaments of the place. A step behind
her soon caught her ear; and the next instant Seymour was by her side.
But she had only time to learn that, there being no room in the house,
he was lodged in one of the villages near, and to tell him that all
were in the hurry of departure at the Court, when two Scotch
gentlemen, named Ramsay and Morton, appeared in the avenue, and
Arabella exclaimed eagerly, "We must part, Seymour, for the present.
Call often at Shrewsbury House; for if I have anything to tell, I will
leave a letter there for you. My aunt is all kindness, and in part
knows what is between us."

"Then I can communicate with you, there," cried Seymour.

"Yes, yes," replied Arabella. "Farewell, farewell," and she left him.

Had they been wise and practised in such meetings, instead of parting
and each turning back by a separate path--a proceeding which might
plainly indicate to any who watched them, that they had come thither
by agreement, and returned as soon as they had said what they wished
to communicate--William Seymour would have walked on towards the
house, and Arabella would have pursued her ramble, leaving those who
saw them to suppose that they had met accidentally.

They did not follow this plan, however, and their meeting was
accordingly marked and reported afterwards; for there was nothing in
which James found greater delight, than in learning all the secrets,
and investigating the private affairs, of those by whom he was
surrounded; and his courtiers took ample care to feed his appetite for
this sort of information with all the gossip of the Court.

From Theobalds to London, and from London to Hampton Court, Arabella
accompanied the Queen, with the interval of but one day; and during
the whole of the following week, she had no opportunity of seeing her
lover; for, without any apparent cause, events always took such a turn
as to prevent her from visiting London, even for an hour, as she had
proposed. She knew not how or why, but it seemed to her that she was
watched; nay, more, that her actions were overruled, without any
apparent stretch of authority. Wherever she proposed to go during the
day, a message from the Queen called her in another direction; and if
she walked out alone, she was sure to see some one at a distance,
walking step by step within view.

She tried to persuade herself that all this was accidental, and that
it was but the consciousness of her own wishes which made her suspect
other people had remarked them. But she was not allowed to remain long
in such a belief; for one morning, before she joined the Queen, Ida
Mara came into her chamber with her cheek glowing, and her bright eyes
full of light; and, sinking down on her knees beside her mistress, she
cried; "Oh, lady, lady dear, they wish me to betray you--to be a spy
upon you. That Sir Lewis Lewkenor sent for me this morning, and
commanded me, in the name of the King, to give him information daily
of all that you do."

Arabella turned somewhat pale;--"And what did you say, Ida Mara?" she
asked.

"I said at first, like a fool," replied the girl, "that I was your
servant, and not the King's. But I was sorry for it afterwards; for I
thought that if I showed them that they would get no tidings from me,
they might apply to some one else; so then I said as quietly as I
could, that I knew not there was anything to tell."

"What answered he to that?" demanded Arabella.

"Why he asked," replied the girl, "if Mr. Seymour had been to visit
you since he returned. I said boldly, No, as well I might; and he then
repeated that I must bring him intelligence every day; and, having by
this time bethought myself of what was best to do, I made him a low
courtesy, saying, that I trusted if I were to have such an office, I
should have some wages for it, otherwise I could not undertake it. He
replied that I should be well paid; and I answered that it must not be
like the officers of State who get their money when and how they can:
that I was too poor to wait. Whereupon he gave me a rose noble, which
I have got here."

Arabella shook her head. "I fear, Ida Mara," she said, "by taking the
man's money, you have committed yourself to give him information."

"Oh, he shall have it, he shall have it," cried Ida Mara, "as much as
he can desire. He shall know every gown you have put on, and how many
times you change your shoes, and what you say to your tailor when he
brings home your new suit. There shall not be a trifle of such a kind
that he shall not know."

"But if he questions you of other things?" asked Arabella.

"Oh, leave me to answer him, dear lady," cried the girl, "and be you
assured, that not one thing which you would keep secret shall he ever
discover from my lips. I will guard yours better than my own; and, as
he talks to me in villanous Italian, I shall have no difficulty in
leading his wit astray. But hark! there is some one knocks at the
door."

"See who it is," replied Arabella, in some agitation; "it is terrible
to be thus spied upon."

Ida Mara rose and went to the door of the chamber, which was in a deep
recess, leading from one of the towers, in which the room was
situated, to the main body of the building. The Italian girl opened
the door, and looked out upon the stairs, when, drawing back for a
moment, she turned an inquiring glance towards her mistress, to which
Arabella could make no reply, as she knew not who was there.

The girl then, acting upon her own judgment, opened the door wide,
without uttering a word; and with a light step, William Seymour
entered the room, Ida Mara quitting it at the same moment.

Arabella rose and sprang towards him; but before he could hold her to
his heart for a moment, she exclaimed, "Seymour, dear Seymour, you
must not stay--nay, not an instant! We are watched; suspicion is
aroused; and we may be both ruined if you remain.--I can bear this no
longer. I will find means to quit the Court within a few days. In the
meanwhile, I will write to you, and tell you all that has happened.
But now, you must leave me. Indeed, indeed you must!--Nay, surely you
have no jealousy of Arabella, now?"

"None, none, dearest," he cried, "but all I fear is, that they may
persecute you to wed this man."

"They would not succeed," answered Arabella; "besides, he seems to
have quitted the pursuit. I have seen nothing of him since we were
here. We have not exchanged a word for the last week.--But leave me,
Seymour, leave me, in pity.--You may frustrate your own hopes."

"I must at least give you this letter from my Lord of Shrewsbury,"
said Seymour. "Hearing that I was coming hither, he charged me with
it; but I know not what it contains."

"Well, well, I will read it afterwards," answered the lady. "Now,
Seymour, now you must go; but as you have been seen here, you had
better present yourself at the Court."

"I will," he answered, "I will. Adieu, then, dearest, if it must be
so;" and he left her.

Scarcely had he quitted the room, however, when some one again knocked
at the door, and, without much ceremony, entered, before the lady had
broken the seal of her uncle's letter. She was not a little surprised,
as she looked up, to see one of the keepers of the Council Chamber,
who advanced towards her with a low bow.

"What would you with me, sir?" she asked.

"The King, madam," he replied, "requires your Ladyship's presence
before the Council."

Arabella turned pale; but there was no means of avoiding whatever was
before her; and she replied at once, "I am ready to accompany you,
sir. Pray call my gentlewoman from that room on the left."

The keeper obeyed; and Arabella, after covering her head with a veil,
put her arm through that of Ida Mara, and followed the keeper to the
royal apartments.

In the ante-room to the council-chamber, her guide asked her to wait
for a moment, and opening the door, went in. As he did so, she heard
her lover's voice, answering aloud, "I carried her a letter from the
Earl of Shrewsbury, your Majesty."

The next moment the keeper again appeared, and ushered her into the
presence of the King. James was seated at the head of the table, with
a black velvet hat, looped with a large emerald, on his head, and
three or four noblemen, bare headed, on his right hand and on his
left. The moment he beheld Arabella, he said, with the broad Scottish
accent which he never lost, "Put the lady a chair, sirrah.--Now, young
gentleman, answer me again--and mind that you tell me the truth, for
there were eyes upon you, sir,--there were eyes upon you. How long did
you stay upon this visit?"

"I have no desire, your Majesty," replied Seymour, with some
haughtiness in his tone, "to speak aught but the truth; it is not my
custom. I might have stayed with the Lady Arabella some two minutes
and a half, or three minutes."

"The man says five, sir," cried the King.

"About five, your Majesty," said one of the councillors; "he is not
precise."

"It may have been five, sire," answered Seymour, slightly smiling;
"pleasant society makes the time pass quick, and unpleasant things
will make it seem tardy--methinks I have been here an hour."

"As bold as ever, I see," cried the King; "you will make yourself a
hot nest of it, sir, if you go on at this rate. When did you visit the
Lady Arabella before?"

"Some years ago, sir," replied William Seymour, "and then by your
Majesty's command."

"Do you mean to say, sir," asked the King, "that you have not seen her
since you had our gracious permission to return?"'

"Seen her I have, your Majesty," replied Seymour, "at Theobalds, the
night of the masque; and on the following morning I met her as she was
walking in the park. She is herself witness, however, that I did not
then detain her long; and I protest, upon my honour, that I have never
visited her since my return, except on this one occasion, when I
carried her the letter of my Lord Shrewsbury. Then I stayed not longer
than any gentleman might be expected to do in common courtesy--not
knowing," he added, bitterly, "that there was a spy at my heels;" and
he went on in a murmur to himself, "I would have cut off his ears, if
I had."

"Sir, you speak rashly and unadvisedly," replied the King: "spies are
necessary in all civilized states, and not to be lightlied by such
gallants as you. It is in some sort, sir, an holy ordinance. Did not
Joshua the prophet send out spies, who were received by that excellent
woman Rahab, the harlot, who let them down secretly from the wall? and
it is right that Kings and Judges should be informed, by discreet and
dutiful subjects, of all that is taking place around them, especially
in what concerns their near relations, sirrah. You hear, madam, what
this gentleman says; and I charge you, upon your allegiance, to tell
me if it be true?"

"Perfectly, sire," said Arabella, in a low voice, "as far as I have
heard it.--He brought me a letter from my uncle of Shrewsbury."

"Ay, is it even so?" cried the King; "you both sing the same song; but
I would fain see this letter."

Arabella hesitated. She knew not what her uncle might have said.
Besides the risk of his alluding to the messenger in such a way as
might excite suspicion, there was many a jest current upon the manners
of the Court which might not be very well fitted for the King's eye;
and, holding the letter in her hand, she replied, "This was not
written, sir, to be made public. I should think the letter of an uncle
to his niece might be----"

"Hout, nonsense!" cried James. "Is not a King God's Vicegerent upon
earth, and above all uncles or fathers either? Is he not Pater
Patri[ae]? I command you, madam, lay the letter on the board."

Arabella did so with a trembling hand; and one of the Councillors
handed it to the King, who took it and examined it closely.

"It cannot have been falsified," he said, "for the seal is not
broken."

He then, without ceremony, opened it, and read aloud, making his usual
comments as he did so.

"'My sweet niece,'" it proceeded, "'your good aunt and I are about
soon to go to our place called Malvoisy, in Buckinghamshire; and we
would fain have you with us, if you can get the King's permission to
come, not as much for our own sakes, to have the company of an idle
girl, whom we do not love, as for yours, to get you out of the foul
and unsavoury atmosphere of a court, where, from all we hear, you are
likely to be quite corrupted by bad example."

"Heard you ever the like of that?" cried the King, laughing till the
tears ran over his cheeks.

"'I do not know,'" he proceeded, reading Lord Shrewsbury's letter,
"'whether you, too, my niece, were as drunk as the rest at Theobalds.
I hope not; for if you were, your head must have ached the next
morning; but I do hear that his Majesty of Denmark emptied two pottles
and a half of heavy Burgundy after the repast, and our great King the
same.'

"The false loon!" cried the King, with a tremendous oath, "I declare,
he's like a dishonest tapster, and put down three gills too much to my
score. But we will see farther," and he went on to read,--"'and our
great King the same. But happily for the State, his brains are too
good to swim with any quantity of wine; and so he 'scaped falling,
though I hear, in the contest, Burgundy overthrew Denmark. However, if
you would come with us, and live in quiet for a time, seeing none but
your aunt and me, wheedle his Majesty, as you know how, and join us
here to-morrow or the next day. I shall send this by Sir John
Harrington--that merry soul. Yours, as you shall behave yourself,
'SHREWSBURY.'

"'Postscriptum. William Seymour has just come in; and he goes down to
Hampton Court to-morrow;--I give him charge of this letter.'

"Ha!" cried the King, "by my soul, though he puts his fingers somewhat
too near Majesty, he knows how to do so with distinctions, this good
Earl of Shrewsbury; and a wise and sapient man he is, if he had but a
little knowledge of the Greek tongue, in respect of which he is
illiterate, as I once proved. But of that more hereafter. I cannot but
say, lady, that it might be as well for you to accept your uncle's
invitation."

"I shall do so most willingly, your Majesty," replied Arabella, "and
the more, from the perfect solitude he promises me. The Court has been
so thronged of late, that I feel as if I had been living in a crowd,
and shall be glad to see the air thinner of human beings."

"Well, so shall it be then," said James; "and you shall have our full
leave and royal permission to spend a fortnight, or perchance a month,
with your good uncle at his manor at Malvoisy. But before either of
you depart, remember, for the future, that we will have no love
passages.--Ay, madam, you may redden, but we may know more than
perhaps we choose to say. We have our own views with regard to the
disposal of your hand, which shall be announced to you in due time;
and we shall expect to find you duly obedient and complying. You, sir,
too, will understand us; and if you proceed farther with any follies
you may have gotten into your head, you will incur our heavy
displeasure, which is not a light matter for any man to bear. So be
wise, if wisdom can enter into so young a pate. Now you may retire,
sir."

Seymour bowed, and withdrew; and, to say the truth, had not the matter
so much affected his happiness, he might have inclined to laugh at the
reprimand of the King. James's broad Scottish accent, which sounded
uncouth enough in his moments of uproarious jocularity, became even
more ludicrous when delivering any of his solemn harangues, especially
as he had an inveterate habit of interlarding, even his most studied
sentences, with the peculiar idioms and phraseology of his own nation,
and with illustrations often the most homely and absurd--and often the
most profane, not to say blasphemous. To these we cannot attempt to do
justice; but it is well known that the sudden utterance of such words
and figures, in the midst of an oration delivered with mock majesty
and solemnity, has overset the gravity, even of an indignant House of
Commons, and caused the members to shrink behind each other, lest
their laughter should be too apparent.

Arabella remained before the Council, in anxious expectation of what
was to come next; but, much to her gratification, as the King was
commencing a long admonition, he was drawn away by some word which he
himself made use of--we believe it was _callant_--to enter into a
tedious discussion upon the derivation thereof, which occupied him for
the space of nearly twenty minutes, at the end of which time he
dismissed her, without returning to the original subject.

Retiring gladly to her own chamber, the lady gave way to the feelings
she had feared to display before the eyes of the heartless monarch and
his cold councillors. The storm had passed away for the time, but it
left clouds behind it; and though she felt relieved, there was enough
of agitation and apprehension remaining to bring the tears into her
eyes.



                            CHAPTER XXIII.


As with the ancient walls of palaces and halls, as with the dungeon
and the court of law--so with the old hawthorn tree of the wide chase,
the yew tree of the churchyard, or the broad oak of the park:--many a
tale could be told by the silent witnesses of man's passions, joys,
and sufferings, had they but a voice to speak that which they have
seen; and how instructive might the homily be, if, as we have reason
to believe, vice seldom goes without its punishment on earth, though
virtue may have to look to Heaven for its reward!

In the wildest part of that tract of ground called Bushy Park, which,
in the days we speak of, showed far less trace of man's handywork than
at present, amidst fern, and whitethorn, and starting deer, walked
along a lady and gentleman, both exquisitely beautiful in person,
whatever they might be in heart. With her two fair hands clasped
together, she hung upon his arm, gazing up through her mask at his
face, while he looked down at her with admiration, of a kind to which
it would be almost profane to give the name of love.

"Nay," she said, in a laughing tone, "I did not send it. You do not
suppose that I need to court any man."

"Nay, sweetest lady," replied Rochester, "I do not suppose you do; but
I thought that fortune and yourself might have so favoured me, to let
me know the right track to follow."

"Not I," answered the Countess; "and in good truth, if I had the other
night thought, when you first talked of love, that you but did so
because you thought it would please me, I would have been as cruel as
a step-dame, to cure you of such vanity. If I knew the writer of the
letter, too, methinks I would have him punished for a scandal."

"Not so," answered Rochester, labouring to frame some graceful speech,
at which he was not dexterous. "You surely would not punish him for
giving me the first hope of happiness, which I scarcely ventured to
dream of."

"In truth I would," replied the lady; "how dare he stand sponsor for
my affections, and promise and vow so many things in my name? I
declare there is not a word of truth in it, whatsoever you may think.
I love you not at all, and never shall. 'Tis but your vanity that
makes you believe so."

"Nay, I call all these trees to witness," cried Rochester, "of what
you acknowledged half an hour ago."

"Oh, women will say what they do not mean," replied the Countess. "I
hope no one but the trees did hear me; for I would not have too many
witnesses to such a falsehood.--And so you showed the letter to Sir
Thomas Overbury, and he it was, I suppose, who said I had written it?"

"No," replied Rochester, "he divined that you were the person spoken
of; but he said that it was a man's hand."

"I wish it were burnt off!" cried the Countess, in a tone of affected
anger. "I don't like this Sir Thomas Overbury."

"And why not?" asked Carr. "He says that you are by far the most
beautiful woman in the Court, perhaps in the world."

"In that he is wise," answered the Countess, with a laugh; "but I hate
him because you love him. I shall hate all that you love now."

"That is kind," said Carr; "I thought the proverb ran, 'Love me, love
my dog.'"

"Ay," said the Countess, still in the same jesting tone; "if you will
treat him as a dog. But I can tell you, henceforth and for ever, I
will have you love nobody but me, or I will have nought to do with
your love. I will have you all mine; you shall not give one grain of
your affection to aught else on earth, whether the breath of life be
warm in it, or it be but the cold production of art or nature; I will
not have thee stand and gaze at a picture of Rubens, or of Titian;
thou shalt not stand upon Richmond Hill, and high over the fair
prospect before thee; thou shalt not listen to a bird singing in a
spray, and praise its melody. Thine eyes, thine ears, thy heart, shall
be all mine, or I will be jealous. There can be no partnership in
love."

"You must not bring a bill into Parliament for all this," replied
Carr, "or it will be called monopoly, and we shall have a petition and
remonstrance."

"No," cried the Countess; "these are but my rights over mine
own--these are the royalties of my estate; every rich metal beneath
the surface is mine, as well as the soil above; and no one shall
trespass on my right."

In such conversation they walked on, idle enough, it is true, and
vicious enough, considering the situation of the parties; but yet it
seemed necessary to display before the reader's eyes this scene, which
may save us farther details into which we would fain not enter; and
doubtless it has suggested, as we desired, a question to the
mind,--almost a charge against our veracity. "Can this be the Countess
of Essex?" the reader may well ask;--"the same harsh, repulsive,
fiery, passionate being, who has been already exhibited in scenes with
her father and her husband, which make the pure and honest heart glow
with indignation and contempt?--this soft, playful jesting creature,
the same bold impetuous being whom we have seen casting from her the
most sacred obligations?"

Yes, reader, it is the same, only under another aspect; the same
spoiled child--all remorseless fire when contradicted, now sporting,
in her unwise hours of gratification, with the same carelessness of
right which distinguished her in her darker moments. Have you not seen
a tiger in its cage, unmoved by hunger or by rage, gambolling like a
kitten, smoothing its glossy fur, and stretching out, in graceful
sport, its limbs, both beautiful and strong? Who would suppose that it
is the same fierce, devouring beast that rends the unhappy traveller
in its fury, and gorges itself in blood and carnage?--Unrestrained
passion is still the tiger--sportful when gratified, but terrible when
thwarted.

They had turned back towards the palace from which they had wandered
forth, Rochester thinking that, during his long absence, the King
might have required his presence, and the Countess knowing well that
her ultimate objects could not be attained, unless her lover
cultivated assiduously the favour of the Monarch. She could not
refrain from saying, however, "Why do you not tell your dog,"--for so
she henceforth called Overbury,--"to go and fawn in your place?"

Though there was something sarcastic in her tone, Rochester was not
offended, for he was now completely the slave of her charms. Weak and
unprincipled himself, the same personal beauty which at first raised
him to distinction, was all that he thought valuable in others. The
heart, the mind, virtue, even talent,--so often esteemed where
goodness is neglected,--he cared little for, he thought little of,
indeed; and in Frances Howard he certainly had found all that he
sought for most in woman,--resplendent beauty, eager passions, and
deep and vehement attachment to himself. That loveliness and that love
had, for the first time, kindled within him the eager fire of which
his own nature was susceptible. It seemed as if the insane passion
with which she was possessed were in its nature infectious, and had
seized upon him also. For her he was ready to dare anything,--to
sacrifice anything, however sacred or however good; and it but wanted
occasion to call forth all the power of the evil spirit, which had
slumbered for want of object.

They had reached an alley leading back towards the palace, when
suddenly they perceived the figure of a man advancing towards them,
with his head bent down, and his arms folded upon his chest. He was
tall, stately, and commanding in air, but seemed absorbed in a deep
reverie; and Rochester paused, looking forward and saying, "Who can
that be?"

"Do you not know?" asked the Countess, in a stern tone. "No," he
replied; "do you?"

"Right well," she answered; "it is that very noble gentleman, the Earl
of Essex----"

Rochester's left hand fell upon the hilt of his sword; but the
Countess proceeded,--"Do you think that, at any distance, I should not
know that form, the hateful shadow of which has haunted me, waking and
sleeping, for so long a time?"

"Shall we avoid him?" said Rochester, who, though as ready as any one
to draw the sword, was not, to do him but justice, inclined to wrangle
in the presence of a woman.

"No," answered the Countess, calmly, "I have no wish to shun him.
Methinks I will take off my mask."

"No, no!" cried Rochester, "not so,--give him the opportunity of not
seeming to know thee, if he will;" and, with a deliberate step, they
proceeded along the alley, up which the Earl of Essex advanced in the
same thoughtful mood.

When he was within a few steps of them he raised his head. His brow
contracted, but that was the only sign of emotion he displayed. With a
firm, steady look, he gazed at Rochester from head to foot, and then
turned his eyes upon the Countess, fixing them upon her masked face
sternly and sadly. It was evident that he knew her; and, indeed, the
beauty of her form, and the queenly grace of her step, were not to be
mistaken.

Not the slightest quivering of her hand, nor any clinging to the arm
of Rochester, indicated agitation or alarm on her part. She trod, as
she passed the man whose happiness she had wrecked, with a foot as
bold and unwavering as if her path were one of virtue and honour. It
seemed as if she wished him to see and know, how completely she had
cast off all sense of right and decency; and perhaps it was indeed so,
for her object was to drive him to have their incomplete marriage
annulled, and set her free to wed the man for whom she had disgraced
herself.

"I shall cut that man's throat some day," said Rochester, after they
had passed; "saw you the glance he gave me? That cannot be long
borne."

"I beseech you do nothing of the kind," replied the Countess, the few
better points in whose character require to be displayed as well as
the darker ones. "'Tis not that I am afraid for you, Rochester; but
you must not spill his blood. I hate, abhor, loathe him; but still I
have brought upon him much misery, and I wish not to do more. Did he
stand in my way, did he still persist in his claims upon me, I know
not what I might not do to free myself from him. Anything, anything, I
believe. But such is not the case; thank God, he hates me as much as I
hate him, and therefore I would injure him no further. Were he even to
lash me with his tongue, instead of trying to look me down with his
eyes, I could forgive him. No; you must do nothing against him. But
now we are coming near the palace, and I must leave you; you can
follow in a few minutes. I shall be with the Queen all night."

From these last words, the reader will learn that the Countess still
strove to conceal her conduct from the eyes of the Court in general;
but in this, as might be expected, she was unsuccessful. Fond of
scandal and of gossip, King James showed no reprobation of the gross
immorality and vice that reigned in his Court, and seemed, indeed, to
tolerate it, for the sake of the amusement which it afforded him to
hear of all the intrigues that were going on around him. But the
encouragement he gave to every one of his confidential attendants, to
pry into and report to him all the secrets of the ladies and gentlemen
attached to the Queen and to himself, ensured that nothing should be
concealed which the cunning and acuteness of low-minded and
unscrupulous men could discover.

When Rochester entered the palace and passed through the antechamber,
where some five or six gentlemen were sitting, he found them all
laughing at something which one of their companions, who was Kneeling
on the window seat and gazing out, reported to them from time to time.

"You seem gay, gentlemen," he said, walking onward, unconscious,
perhaps, that he himself might have been the subject of their
merriment.

"Yes, my Lord," replied one of the jokers, "we are just laughing at
Bradshaw's observations from the window. You would think he was the
alderman's wife, who has a corner house in the market-place of a
country town, so cleverly does he settle the affairs of every one he
sees go in and out of the palace."

The King's favourite did not venture to ask any more questions; but,
replying, "I give him joy, both of his fine employment and your
pleasant comparison," he walked on, and passed through the opposite
door.

In a small cabinet to the right of the chamber beyond, he found Sir
Thomas Overbury, who looked not particularly well satisfied; and
Rochester felt an inclination to avoid any long discussion with him.

"Has the King asked for me?" he inquired.

"Oh, no," replied Overbury; "he has been well enough entertained
during your absence."

"What with?" demanded Rochester.

"Gossip," answered Overbury, "gossip, as usual."

"Well, then," rejoined Rochester, "I will go and knock at the old
lady's door."

"No, no," cried the Knight, "Lord Northampton is with him now, having
driven away Maxwell, who has been entertaining him with this affair
between you and Lady Essex. I wish to Heaven, my Lord----"

"Hush," cried Rochester, laughing, and taking him by the collar, "not
a word, or I will strangle you. She is the most charming creature in
the whole world; beauty, wit, grace, everything--I can no more give
her up than I can fly."

"I do not ask you to give her up, my Lord;" replied Sir Thomas
Overbury, whose morality was not very nice. "I only wish you to be
more careful. For a light love affair like this, you will never think
of marring your whole fortunes; and if you do not mend the rashness of
your passion, you will do so. Surely there was no need boldly to walk
out with her in the chase, when you have so many other opportunities
of being together."

"Oh, she longed for a walk with me, she said," replied Rochester, "and
how could I refuse her? Besides, nobody could see us. You knew where I
was gone; but we went out and came back separate, so that none of the
rest of the Court could----"

"Could do anything," interrupted Overbury, "but sit in the ante-room,
and make epigrams upon you by the hour. The last thing I heard
Bradshaw say was foolish enough; but it will show you the talk:


         "We soon shall see the Dane driven home,
            And Saxon knights in Wessex.
          Essex to Middlesex is come,
            And Rochester joins Essex."


"His bad lines," replied Rochester, angrily, "shall cost him his
place, or his ears."

"Ah, that's the way," cried Overbury, "that one rash act brings on
another. You must needs parade yourself in public with this lady, and
then you make an enemy of a man who has many powerful friends. But
hark!--There goes Lord Northampton from the King's closet. You had
better go now, and laugh off this affair."

"I will, I will," replied Rochester, and gladly left Sir Thomas
Overbury, whose friendly counsels, to say the truth, were no longer so
palatable to him as once they had been.

Those who direct us with skill towards the gratification of our
passions or our wishes are loved for their complaisance, and admired
for their ability, by the weak and unprincipled, by the ordinary and
the selfish--and, too often, by the wise and the great; for that
twofold exertion of reason is extraordinary indeed, which, when misled
by inclination, enables us to appreciate the wisdom which sees that we
are wrong, and to be grateful for the love that would guide us back to
right.



                            CHAPTER XXIV.


It was a bright and beautiful day upon the whole; though, from time to
time, over the deep blue sky, and through the sunshiny air, came some
large pelting drops of rain, though nothing worthy of the name of a
cloud was seen, and the shower lasted but a minute, fleeting away with
a rainbow on its wings, like some gay child tossing up a many-coloured
scarf into the wind. There was a bright party, too, upon the banks of
the Thames, in Buckinghamshire, fit for the pencil of a Landseer. It
consisted of a fine tall man, of noble presence, about fifty years of
age, mounted on a stout black horse, with a broad hat and feathers on
his head, and dressed in dark green, with a pair of tan-coloured boots
and red tops. Over his shoulder he wore a pouch of velvet, slung by a
broad band of leather, embroidered with gold, and reaching to the hilt
of his short sword. His hands were covered with large gloves of
buckskin, the flaps of which extended nearly to his elbow; and over
the first finger of the left were thrown some silken strings and
little globular bells. He had, too, a whistle of silver, suspended
round his neck by a green cord, with a tassel; and, as he sat there,
with his grey moustache and flowing grey hair, his bright and merry
brown eye, and easy seat upon his horse, one might judge him to be an
experienced sportsman, well satisfied with the success of the day.

On his right hand was a lady--a few years younger than himself,
perhaps, but not many--mounted upon a round, short-legged, but
powerful galloway, not deficient in fire or breeding, but chosen
apparently for its strength and courage. Its bright eye glanced, and
its ear quivered, while, held in by the rein, it seemed eager to go
on, and pawed the ground with its small delicate foot. The lady
herself was dressed in a rich riding suit; and the hooded hawk, which
she held upon one hand, and smoothed down from time to time with the
other, sufficiently announced her occupation. The expression of her
countenance was high and dignified; but, at the same time, there was a
certain degree of quickness of temper in the glance of her eye,
somewhat softened by a pleasant and good-humoured smile upon her lip.

On the other side of the gentleman we have mentioned appeared a
younger lady, with her beautiful brown hair escaping in rich curls
from a small black velvet cap, ornamented with a single black feather,
and her face glowing with exercise. She was mounted on a light grey
jennet, full of blood and spirit, but apparently well-trained and
good-tempered, who, with head down and extended neck, snuffed at a
low-legged spaniel dog, which, with open mouth and dropping tongue,
lay looking in the face of its master.

Near this group of falconers was seen a strong middle-aged man,
kneeling down beside a dead heron, which lay upon the grassy bank, and
fastening on a hood upon the head of a hawk, which he seemed to be
caressing and scolding at the same time.

"Ah, the haggard!" he cried, "ah, the haggard! thou art not half
reclaimed, art thou? My Lord, she will be a magnificent bird next
spring. Did you see that point she made at the pitch? and such a
stoop!--There is not a bird in the mew could do better. I told you,
sir, with her first feather.--Come, lady, come, no rustling.--Where's
the other glove, boy?" he continued, addressing a young man, who, with
two others, habited as falconers, stood near, with long poles in their
hands, "There's another bird not far off, my Lord."

"Ay, but here comes a boat," answered his master, "and they will put
him up.--I thought so; there he goes--there he goes!--Slip Margery, my
love!--Whoop! Sir Long Legs, whoop!--Off with her, off with her. Calm,
good Margery, calm! She has him, now she has him." And off flew the
falcon from the lady's hand; while the heron, apparently unwilling to
tower, flapped its heavy wings along over the water, rippling it for
some way with its feet.

"After her, after her!" cried the gentleman; "the brute will show us
no sport. As I live she will let Margery strike her in the water. No,
no, there she goes up!--After her, after her;" and away he galloped,
accompanied by the lady on the galloway, and the three lads with their
poles.

The younger lady paused, however, and reined in her jennet,
notwithstanding all its struggles to follow the rest. Her eyes were
fixed upon the boat, which, rowed by two stout men with the full
current of the stream, now rapidly approached the spot where she was.
The next minute she slipped from the saddle, her eyes bright, and her
whole face glowing; and with the bridle over her left arm, approached
the very brink of the water, holding out her hand, which in another
instant was clasped in that of William Seymour.

He sprang at once on shore; and, while Arabella strove to conceal from
the eyes of the boatmen the joy that was in her heart, there was quite
enough in her countenance to sweep away all jealousy for ever from the
heart of her lover, if ever he entertained it.

"Is this accident or design?" asked Arabella, in a low tone.--"It is
very pleasant, Seymour, whatever it is.--But where have you been
since?"

"Three days I was kept at Hampton Court," answered Seymour; "then took
my departure for Cambridge, cut across thence to Oxford, and then,
knowing well that I should have a welcome from the Countess, came down
the river with my two men in the boat.--Run her into the first creek
you can find," he continued, turning to the boatmen, "and come up to
Lord Shrewsbury's house at Malvoisie. Where can these men find a
creek, falconer, in which the boat will be in safety?"

"Not a quarter of a mile down, sir," replied a man, who was settling
the falcon, which had previously struck a heron, upon a perch formed
of four rollers of wood, in the shape of a square, which hung from the
neck of a boy, placed in the centre thereof, much like the pails of a
London milkwoman:--"they will find a creek, and a boat-house belonging
to my Lord too. There will be room enough for your boat beside the
Earl's barge. Then, if they follow the path, it will take them to the
house.--But I must run after the hawk, my Lady; 'twere a shame if she
struck the quarry, and I not there.--There they go over Lawson's lea."

"Go, go, Harry," cried Arabella; "and tell my uncle I am following."

The man and the boy hurried away; and after pausing to speak a word or
two more, Seymour replaced Arabella in her saddle; and then, with his
hand resting on the croup, walked slowly on beside her, gazing up into
her face, and drinking in sweet draughts of pure, and high, and holy
affection. It was a beautiful contrast to the dark scene of strong but
evil passion, which it has been lately our unpleasing task to paint.

"I am sure they will receive you kindly," said Arabella, after a short
pause, in answer to something Seymour had said; "but I doubt, William,
indeed I doubt, that either will approve of your staying long."

"Doubt not--doubt nothing, dearest Arabella," replied Seymour. "I saw
the Countess in London before I went down to Hampton Court. She taxed
me with my love; and I did not deny it; and she owned that such
constancy, on your part and on mine, deserved its reward. I have had a
letter from her, too, since she heard of that scene before the
Council, which she pronounces scandalous and wicked, and says it is
high time you should be freed from the thraldom in which you are kept,
and your heart suffered to have its liberty. 'Tis by her invitation,
indeed, that I came."

"But my uncle," said Arabella, "I fear my uncle; I do not think he
will countenance----"

She paused, and William Seymour asked, "What, my beloved?"

"What I believe you wish," replied Arabella, with her cheek glowing,
"our marriage in secret."

"My wishes go farther still, dear one," replied William Seymour; "I
could not be content--not half content, to see my Arabella only by
stealth, with long and frequent intervals. I must be able to pass the
whole livelong day with her, to sun myself in her smiles whenever I
will, to hear the music of her voice continually, to watch her eyes,
and trace every varying thought from day to day."

"Oh, that can never be here," answered Arabella, sadly.

"No, not here," replied William Seymour, "but in another land, where
this King's power will not reach us. In any of the Spanish
territories, in Flanders, in Italy, in Spain itself, we shall be quite
secure; and where thou art, is my country, Arabella. That climate will
be brightest where thy looks beam upon me--that scene the fairest
where thou art by my side."

A bright drop rose in Arabella's eye as he spoke, but she answered,
almost sadly, "You know, William, that I desire nothing but you; and
yet it seems to me hardly right that my love should banish you from
the land of your birth. You have many friends, good men and noble,
wise and honourable; and I should be proud to see the husband that I
love surrounded and admired by those he himself esteems. I would
enlarge all your sphere of enjoyment, Seymour, not diminish it. I
would not have you for me, if I could help it, give up one
friend--abandon one virtuous pleasure. Oh no, love is not a selfish
passion. On the contrary, it is a self-denying one; for I feel that
all I could desire to make me happy, would be the happiness of him I
love."

"Dear, noble girl," cried Seymour, bending down his head, and kissing
the hand that rested on her bridle rein, "I say so too; and therefore
is it that I give not one thought to the abandonment of everything
else, for the bright hope of making you happy in some distant country.
But still, my beloved, you need not think that we shall be condemned
to everlasting banishment. A few short years may pass, till the King
sees that he cannot break our union; and then he must perceive, that
it is for his own interest, as well as his honour, that we should
return, and enjoy our rights in our own land."

"I do not know," answered Arabella, in a doubtful tone; "he is hard
and resolute in his resentments. Do not you know how he treated the
Palatine who urged him, with continual prayers and entreaties, to set
free the unfortunate Lord Grey? All that the king replied was, 'When I
come to your dominions, son-in-law, I will ask for none of your
prisoners.'"

"Well, then, we will set him at defiance," replied Seymour; "we will
fix our happiness in our mutual love; we will form our high fortunes
in contentment, and leave him to rule, with his sceptre of parchment,
those whose fate hangs upon his smile. I would rather be the husband
of Arabella Stuart, in any land in all the world, where I may boldly
hold her to my heart, and call her mine, however poor be the pittance
that I have to share with her, than live in riches in my native
country, with the dread of an unjust monarch's frown darkening each
moment that I spent in her sweet company. But there stands my Lord of
Shrewsbury; his bird has brought the heron down, I see; so he will be
in good humour, and we must take the brightest moment we can find."

Thus saying, he advanced with Arabella to a little knoll, on which the
group of falconers had re-assembled. The Earl had by this time
dismounted from his horse, and was standing beside his wife, who was
bending her head, as if talking to him rapidly, but in an under tone;
and the bright yellow sky behind them showed clearly the fine
commanding features of the Countess of Shrewsbury, full of animation
and eagerness. The Earl shrugged his shoulders, with a laugh; and
then, advancing cordially towards William Seymour, he held out his
hand, saying,

"Welcome, welcome, thou man of wanderings! You have missed a rare
day's sport by not coming three hours sooner, and well nigh spoiled
our sport, too, by stirring this grey-coated gentleman from the reeds
with your boat. However, as Margery has avenged herself, and brought
him down from the skies with a fall--as should be the case with all
ambitious spirits when they soar too high--we will forgive you. Come,
we will back towards the house."

"I did not see what you were about, till it was too late, my Lord,"
replied William Seymour, grasping his hand. "Dear lady, how goes it
with you?" he continued, advancing to the Countess; and adding, in a
low tone, as he bent down to kiss her glove, "thanks for your
comfortable letter."

"You shall have more to thank me for than that," replied Lady
Shrewsbury. "Well, my pretty cousin," she continued, turning to
Arabella, with a smile, "we have struck our bird to-day, methinks."

"Not I," answered Arabella, innocently. "I had no hawk to fly, and
therefore have got no quarry."

"Ay, but you have," answered the Countess; "and the goodliest, it
seems. Come, Shrewsbury, deliver me of these jesses. I will have no
more birds upon my hand to-day."

"Take care, lady mine," replied the Earl, approaching, "that you do
not get more upon your hands than you can manage."

The Countess took him by the moustachio, saying, "Wilt thou be
silent?"

"See how she treats me!" cried the Earl, laughing; "and I have borne
this for twenty long years. Let no man say, that there is not meekness
amongst husbands! Come, I will walk back. Bring my horse, boy. You are
too fat to walk, good wife, and this poor thing is too delicate, so we
men will trudge a-foot, while the women keep the saddle. 'Twas not so
in the Queen's time, Seymour. With a woman on the throne, men ruled;
now the coif and the petticoat govern all."

The Countess and Arabella rode on, and Seymour and the Earl followed
on foot, leaving the hawks to the care of the falconers. Lord
Shrewsbury was gay and good-humoured, perfectly cordial in his manner
towards his young friend, and repeated, more than once, that he was
most happy to see him; but he touched not at all upon the subject
nearest to Seymour's thoughts, although the words he had let fall in
speaking to the Countess, induced his companion to believe that he was
not unaware of his love for Arabella.

The house of Malvoisie, which has long since disappeared from the face
of the earth, had been built in the last year of the reign of Henry
VIII., and, consequently, might be considered in those days a modern
erection. But our somewhat weeping climate soon stamps the mark of age
upon man's works; and, in the space of sixty years, the red brick had
become brown, and lichens had gathered here and there upon the walls.
The immense quantity of beech trees, from which Buckinghamshire takes
its name, and which there came close up to the house on three sides,
might have contributed to this effect; but, however that might be, the
house had already a very venerable appearance; and the four terraces,
one below the other, with their low walls and ornamented coping, gave
it likewise a magnificent air, although it was not of very great
extent.

Servants were waiting at the door to give admission to the lord of the
mansion and his guest; and the Earl conducted his young friend at once
into the Countess's drawing-room, which was furnished in a manner that
any one may see described, if they choose to look into Lady Compton's
letter to her husband after his recovery.

Lady Shrewsbury and Arabella, still in their riding dress, were
standing talking together eagerly; and Arabella's face was glowing,
while her eyes were cast down, so that Seymour easily conceived what
had been the nature of their conversation.

"Now, then, close the door, Shrewsbury," said the Countess, "and let
us hold a council together."

"Nonsense," replied the Earl; "suffer the poor youth to recover and
refresh himself a little, before you attack him. Besides, I tell you
fairly, I will have nothing to do with your plots and conspiracies,
even if their object be but the robbery of a wren's nest. You may do
what you like, lady mine. I never was powerful in my life in marital
rule; and my sway has waxed slenderer every year."

"Because you knew very well," answered the Countess, laughing, "that
you had got somebody who could manage her own affairs, and yours, too,
better than you could yourself; so, like a wise man as you are, you
proved yourself a most obedient husband."

"Well, well," said the Earl, good-humouredly, "I will have nothing to
do with your councils; but I do insist that it is better to let this
poor youth eat his supper, and not hear his fate fasting. So come
along to your chamber, Seymour, and wash your hands. When once my good
housewife gets hold of you, you may give yourself up; you will have no
power over your own actions afterwards, that I can tell you."

"After supper be it, then," answered the Countess. "Come, Bella, we
may as well put off these weeds, too," and thus saying, she led the
way from the room.

The Earl accompanied his young guest to his chamber, where he found
all the goods and chattels which his men had brought up from the boat;
and Lord Shrewsbury, closing the door, took his young friend's hand
kindly, saying, in a graver tone than he had hitherto used, "William,
I wish you well, believe me, and no man would do more to serve you, or
to see you happy. But let me advise you to think well what you are
about. A man, it is true, may well risk much for the sweetest lady in
all the land; but let not passion blind you, and induce you to take
any step of great importance without due consideration. Recollect that
this dear girl's fate is implicated as well as your own. Having said
this, my boy, I shall add no more; but, whatever you do, be sure that
I will stand by you when it is done, as the son of my old dear friend,
and the grandson of one of the noblest gentlemen in Europe. Now,
farewell for the present."

William Seymour sat down and meditated. What the Earl of Shrewsbury
had said, had the effect which words of good, plain, common sense,
mingled with frank and feeling kindness, is almost sure to have, on
the hearts of all but the vicious and the hardened. It made him think
deeply--intensely, of that which he was about to do. It did more--it
made him even doubt his own motives, and his own judgment; it made him
try, by every test that the powers of a strong mind could bring to
bear upon the subject, the course he was about to pursue, and to ask
himself, for Arabella's sake, whether his eyes were not blinded by
passion; whether he was really seeking that which was most likely to
conduce to her happiness; or whether he was risking her peace for his
own gratification.

Eagerly did he debate the question with himself; and he strove
resolutely to act as an impartial judge between desire and
self-denial; but love is the most eloquent of advocates; and it is not
to be wondered at, that, with so good a cause as that which he had to
plead, he overpowered all the arguments on the opposite side. To a
mind not very sensible to fear, or alive to danger, the risks and
inconveniences seemed small--the probabilities of success great; and
happiness, if their escape could be effected, certain. He recollected
all that Arabella herself had said; the frank confession of her love,
the deep devotion which she showed towards him, her readiness to
abandon everything for him. He asked himself, if his whole happiness
for life was staked upon his union with her, could he doubt that hers
was equally dependent upon it also. And then he went on to think of
what would be her fate, if, neglecting the opportunity--if, abandoning
the chance of uniting themselves together for ever, she were left
still in the same situation at the Court of England, in which she had
lived for the last two or three years. The argument which that
question called forth was conclusive. Could he, for any consideration,
leave her to wither under the cold and icy tyranny of a monarch like
James I.,--the sport of all his caprices, the victim of whatever a
harsh policy, or a weak complacence with the views of his vicious
favourites, might require. He pictured her, day after day, suffering
from unjust severity, or chilling neglect; he thought of her, forced
to mingle in scenes of vicious excess with those whom her pure heart
contemned and abhorred; he saw her urged, commanded, forced to give
her hand to some base minion of an unprincipled king; living a short
life of misery and gloom; and dying with blighted hope and
disappointed love. Could he suffer this? Ought he to suffer it? For
her sake, as well as his own, if there were but a bare chance of
delivering her, could he stand coldly by, and abandon her to such a
fate as this?

Love, as may well be supposed, easily won the day, and proved, to his
conviction, that the only hope of happiness for himself, and her he
loved, was in speedy flight; and, after a few moments given to the
arrangement of his dress, he again sought Arabella and the Countess,
determined to persevere.

He found them both with the Earl; and, by common consent, nothing was
said upon the subject, which occupied all thoughts, for about an hour
and a half, over which space of time we will pass, as the conversation
of persons, whose minds are filled with one engrossing theme, upon
every day topics in which they feel no interest, would be as tedious
to the reader as to themselves.

The supper was over; the windows were closed; the lights were lighted;
and the party had once more assembled in the Countess's drawing-room.
The Earl, however, stood beside one of the tables, and, taking up a
light, he said, "I am going to the book room. When this plot is
hatched, you can come and tell me, sweetheart; and then you shall play
me an air on the virginals, or sing me a song to the lute."

"Dear uncle," said Arabella, laying her hand upon his arm, and looking
up in his face, as if she wished him to stay. But Lord Shrewsbury
merely bent down his head and kissed her cheek, saying, "God protect
thee, in all circumstances, my dear girl!" and, without waiting for
farther reply, quitted the room.

Arabella leaned her arm upon the table, and placed her hand over her
eyes, while the Countess demanded, as soon as the door was closed,
"Well, Seymour, what are your plans? It is high time that all this
should come to some conclusion; or you two, unable to restrain your
love from appearing, and not having taken care to shelter it against
storms, will get into misery, from which we shall not be able to
rescue you."

"I think so too, dear lady," replied Seymour; "and I have come hither,
certain of your kind support and assistance, to arrange what is to be
done."

"You are both agreed I suppose?" said the Countess; "you love each
other dearly, I know.--Is it not so, Bella?"

Arabella looked up with a smile, but made no answer, and the Countess
proceeded.

"That will do," she said; "and I do not see why your affection should
be barred by the swine King we have now upon the throne. Seymour, you
have got some plan in your head, I am sure. Let us hear what it is."

"That this dear girl should fly with me," replied her lover; "that is
the plain truth, Countess. I care not much to what country we go,
provided it be one that will keep us free, for a time, from the
persecution of the King, so long as his anger lasts."

"I thought so," said Lady Shrewsbury; "and I suppose that must be the
event. But I cannot consent, Seymour, to let her go without being
first your wife."

"But how can that be accomplished, dear lady?" asked William Seymour.
"You know, if we were to apply to any of the bishops, they would carry
the tidings forthwith to the King; and if we have the banns published,
the fact will be soon all over the Court. We can be married the moment
we are across the Channel."

"No, no," answered the Countess, in her usual decided tone; "she goes
with you as your wife, or not at all. Do not suppose I think you would
wrong her, Seymour; for I am sure you would lose your own life first;
but if diamonds are valuable because they are rare--I am sure, so in
these days is a good name; and she must not lose hers--no, not for
love itself. Nor is the matter difficult, as I shall manage it. We
have got a parson here who, though he looks upon us all as what he
calls Papists, is my very humble and good servant; and would be a
Catholic too, if it was not for fear of losing his living, God wot.
Thanks be to heaven, he mumbles like an old woman chewing a crust; and
I never yet could discover the person who, when he publishes what he
calls the bands of matrimony, could find out who were the people he
was going to tie in them. Thus, then, I will have it. You shall stay
here three nights, and speed away again on the third morning. You
shall show yourself at the Court, and in other places; and after the
third Sunday you shall come down hither, where, in this quiet little
church, perched up amongst the woods, without a house but the parson's
for a mile round, you may take each other for better for worse,
without any one knowing aught about it. In the meantime, Seymour, you
make all your preparations for departure. Have your ship ready, and
your money prepared. My Lord of Hertford will not love you the less
for marrying secretly a lady of the Blood Royal; and he is never
unwilling to open his purse, for any generous purpose. Shrewsbury and
I will give you some help, such as it is, though the times are hard
ones; and as, doubtless, the little that our poor Arabella has will be
lost for love of you, it must be made up by your love for her. Let
there be no writing, in the meantime, till you come again; for we know
well enough there are spies abroad."

Seymour kissed the Countess's hand, with many thanks, acknowledging
that her plan was the wisest and the best. "But, dear lady," he added,
"I almost fear that, if this takes place in your house, it may draw
upon you and my good Lord of Shrewsbury the indignation of the King."

"Good faith," answered the Countess, "his Majesty had better not
meddle with me. 'Tis such poor timid things as this that he can
intimidate and overawe. But, even if he should try, I have a hold upon
him which will keep him silent--at least, I think so. 'Tis not many
months ago that he said to me, when the marriage proposed with the
Duke of Gueldres was refused, that Arabella might choose one of his
own subjects if she liked; he consented to it freely."

Arabella started up, and gazed upon her aunt with doubt and surprise.
"Oh, why did you not tell me?" she exclaimed.

"Because I did not think fit, poor bird," replied the Countess; "and
something more.--I assured the King that you had no thought of
marriage then--that you were indisposed to give your hand to any but a
man of princely birth.--I knew right well," she added, abruptly, "that
he was wishing to tie you to his minion, Carr, and I was resolved to
shield you from such degradation. In wedding this youth here, you wed
one of princely birth; for in his veins is flowing the blood of our
Seventh Harry; and though you, sweet maid, may be nearest akin to this
present King, I am not sure that he is not nearest to the throne of
England. But so it is, Bella, the King did give this consent; and I
see not why we may not use it now as well as then."

"Oh, this is indeed joyful!" exclaimed Arabella; "he cannot--he dare
not treat us ill after this."

"Trust him not, trust him not," replied the Countess; "his word is as
unstable as a quicksand; and, if you think to rest upon it, you will
be swallowed up alive. The course I have laid before you, is the only
one you can pursue; though this consent that he has given may perhaps
shame him into moderation, and enable you to return sooner to your
native land. Now I shall leave you together, pretty birds, in your
cage, to talk over your plans; and then you shall sing your uncle a
song, if you have any voice left. While you are here, Seymour, we must
keep you somewhat close. Our woods, and parks, and fields, may give
you space enough; but you must avoid the towns and villages, lest our
secret be carried to the court."



                             CHAPTER XXV.


One half the world does not know how the other half live, is an old
English proverb, and a true one; but there is something more to be
said upon the subject than even that,--not one-millionth part of the
world know what the rest are doing. Happy were it for them if they
did; for how many a base and criminal design would be frustrated; how
many an anxious and careful thought would be avoided; how many a wise
and prudent scheme would find success; how many a good man, struggling
with poverty, would meet relief and honour; how many a great man,
crushed under the cold obstruction of circumstances, would be taken by
the hand, and led up to the high places of the world, if the actions
of all were open to the eyes of all!

The days passed sweetly with Arabella Stuart and William Seymour, for
the time during which the Countess of Shrewsbury permitted him to
stay. They laid out their plans; they made their arrangements; they
talked over the future; and imagination, that pleasant painter,
represented the coming days in all the glittering colours of hope and
light. Even when he had left Malvoisie, and was deprived of the
society of her he loved, still the sweet recollection and the bright
expectation gladdened the present, and cheered him while he made all
the preparations which were necessary for the execution of his scheme.
But, in the meantime, the views and designs of others, with little, if
any reference to himself, were proceeding on a course calculated to
frustrate all his hopes for a time, if not for ever; and while he, in
total ignorance that such things were taking place, was rejoicing at
the near approach of happiness, a hand was stretched out to snatch it
from him, just as the cup was being raised to his lip. Oh! could he
but have seen the events that were occurring at the Court of England;
could he have heard the words that were spoken, and divined the plans
that were formed, he might have found matter for anxiety and
apprehension, it is true, but love would certainly have found some
stratagem to frustrate those purposes, which now marched calmly on to
their accomplishment.

We nave said that the designs and views of which we have spoken had
little direct reference to Seymour, and to the schemes for his escape
with Arabella. The eyes of the King and his courtiers had been
completely blinded by the precautions he had taken; his visit to
Malvoisie had not been even whispered amongst the scandal-mongers of
the Court; and although the preparations which he had been making
after his return to London were not altogether unnoticed, the tongue
of calumny had assigned to them a very different motive from the real
one, and most unintentionally favoured his purposes, by screening the
truth under a falsehood. The suspicion which had been so strongly
entertained of the attachment existing between Arabella and himself
had almost altogether died away; and rumour had falsely attributed to
him some tender connexion in the native land of intrigue--Italy, which
was supposed to be once more leading him away from the shores of his
own country.

In the meantime, the King's favourite, Rochester, was pursuing, with
all the vehemence of strong and overpowering passion, the guilty
course which he had entered upon with the beautiful fiend who had got
him in her toils. His criminal intimacy with Lady Essex was no longer
whispered with a smile, or pointed at in an epigram. It was the open
talk of the whole Court, the subject of grave and painful reprehension
to the few good and wise who were admitted to the royal circle, and of
laughter and merriment to the gay, the unthinking, and vicious
multitude which thronged the palaces of James I.

To one of those, however, who could not be classed amongst the most
strict in their notions of morality, his open and daring violation of
even common decency was a subject of bitter and anxious thought. Sir
Thomas Overbury could not shut out the conviction, that this
disgraceful connexion might prove a serious obstacle in the way of his
favourite project, of allying his patron to the Blood Royal of England
by a marriage with Arabella Stuart; and every jest he heard upon the
subject came painfully to his ear. Sometimes he thanked heaven that
Arabella was absent, and hoped that Rochester's passion would be as
short-lived as it was fierce; but when he saw that, on the contrary,
it became every day more and more ardent and outrageous, he asked
himself if it might not be better to hurry on the marriage with
Arabella without any farther delay; and, by engaging the King to
exercise his full authority, to carry it through as rapidly as
possible, in order to bind her for ever to Rochester, before she had
such good cause to allege for refusing him her hand.

Doubts and perplexities, indeed, surrounded him; for although Carr
still talked to him on the subject of his marriage, and, in order to
blind his friends to the designs which he knew Overbury would oppose,
affected to look upon his union with Arabella, whether he loved her or
not, as a thing absolutely necessary to his security and advancement,
yet he showed himself occasionally cold and captious, reserved and
insincere, towards one who, for a long period, had possessed his
fullest confidence, and guided him at will.

Many a deep and anxious fit of thought did all these considerations
cause Sir Thomas Overbury; and he resolved, after a long deliberation,
to try whether, by art, he could not establish a new hold upon the
favourite, more firm and tenacious than that of mere gratitude.

"I must have some power over him," he said; "I must have something in
my hands to give, in order that I may demand that in return which
might be otherwise denied, notwithstanding all the services I have
rendered him."

Such were his thoughts and feelings at the period when the Court
removed from Hampton; and we shall now proceed to show the manner in
which he endeavoured to effect his object, premising that for some
months he had been labouring to bring the King's mind to the
particular tone he wanted.

It was in the King's closet at the palace of Greenwich. The Monarch
was dressed in hunting costume; and, as the season was rapidly
approaching when he could no longer venture to hunt the hart, he was
somewhat eager and impatient to set out upon his sport.

Something, however, had gone wrong in the stables; his horse had not
been brought to the door at which he was to mount; and he had sent one
after another, first a page, then a gentleman of the Privy Chamber,
and then Lord Rochester himself, to see what had become of the grooms
and huntsmen, upon whose heads he bestowed a torrent of condemnation,
in very profane and unkingly language.

To ordinary observers it would have appeared that a more unpropitious
moment could not have been selected for pressing a suit or asking a
favour; but Sir Thomas Overbury knew King James as well as any one who
was about him, and was aware that requests, which he would have denied
flatly and resolutely when he had time for consideration, might often
be wrung from him by importunity, in a moment of impatience and haste.
The moment, then, that he saw Lord Rochester pass through the
antechamber, he hurried to the King,--whom he knew to be now
alone,--with a small slip of paper in hand half covered with writing.

"Well, sir, well, where are the horses?" cried James, as soon as he
saw him. "Those heathen fellows will let the fresh of the morning go
by; and the sun's peeping out as hot as a kitchen fire, to drink up
all the dew off the grass."

"I think they mistook the hour your Majesty named," replied Overbury,
"and, instead of a quarter before, made ready for a quarter after
nine."

"Body o' sin! did you ever hear the like of that?" cried James; "did
they never go out to track a stag in the early morning? What have you
got there? But if that's a supplication, man, you may as well spare
your pains.--I'll have nothing to do with it.--Take it away."

"It is not a supplication, may it please your Majesty," replied
Overbury, "but a paper which your Majesty was pleased to say you would
sign. You may remember the matter in which I moved you, sire,
regarding my Lord Rochester and my Lady Arabella."

"I'll not sign it, sir, I'll not sign it," cried the King, "I told you
so before. She's got a hankering, sir, after that fellow Seymour, and
I'll not sign it. If I was sure she would use it only to marry Carro,
I don't say but that I might. But I will not have the other! Now look
ye, young gentleman," he added, falling, imperceptibly to himself,
into a disquisitional tone, "you are not without sense, and good
parts, and judgment; and, while we have a minute to spare, we will
condescend to instruct you as to our motives, which with kings--who
are bound to exercise their sagacity upon fine points, that altogether
escape the attention of ordinary men--are very different from the
common motives of the people, or even of councillors, and men
accustomed to broad and general state affairs."

"I hear your Majesty with reverence and gratitude," replied Sir Thomas
Overbury, in the fulsome style then used towards the Monarch, "and
will lay to heart every word that falls from your lips, as the most
precious guide to wisdom."

"Well, sir, that's right," rejoined James. "Now listen, then. Ordinary
men will think--and, most like, you amongst them--that it is a strange
thing that I should let this lady wed Rochester, and refuse her to the
fellow Seymour. The vulgar people will think that it is because
Rochester is, what they call, with their profane tongues, the King's
favourite. I know their gabble right well. Others will think that it
is because I judge ill of this lad Seymour, or well of Rochester, as
the case may be; and in this they will be reverent, though not
altogether wise. You yourself may think that you have had a finger in
the pie, and brought the matter about by smooth words and
representations; but these opinions are altogether wrong. As my Lord
Rochester is now a man of great estate, the match may be a suitable
one. As his fortunes depend upon us, we shall always have the staff in
our own hands: and it is not unexpedient that she should be married to
some one over whom we have the greatest authority, to prevent her from
wedding another who might cause confusion. But these are all
collateral or subsidiary considerations, and go no farther than to
affect her marriage with Lord Rochester. But there are reasons why we
will not have her marry the fellow Seymour, which are these:--that he,
failing his elder brother, who is but a puny lad, is the immediate
representative of that Lady Catharine Grey, descended from King Henry
VII., by Mary, Queen Dowager of France; and the lady, as you well
know, being of the Blood Royal of England, and next to the throne,
after ourself and our children, has been the object, as you well know,
of many dark conspiracies and treacherous designings, both amongst the
subjects of our crown and foreign princes. Now were the two lines
blended more by her marriage with this Seymour, there is no knowing
what might come of it--wars, and rumours of wars, tumults, and
confusion, sir. If they two were to lay their heads together, and take
up either with the Papists or the Puritans, they might blow up a flame
in a minute that would be difficult to put out again."

"I see your Majesty's wisdom," replied Overbury, with a low bow, and a
well-assorted face; "and it shows clearly that her marriage with Lord
Rochester should be brought about as soon as possible. If you will
sign this permission, sir, for her to marry any of your Majesty's
subjects, it will doubtless greatly facilitate the affair."

"Well, then, put in his name," said the King; "why should he not be
the person expressed?"

"Because your Majesty is well aware," answered Overbury, "the lady has
always shown herself coy and captious, never willing to give her hand
where she supposed it was wished. At all events, sir, the paper could
only be used according to your Majesty's directions;--and as to Mr.
Seymour," he continued, "he is now paying not the slightest attention
to the lady, since your Majesty so severely reprimanded him."

"It was due and merciful severity," answered the King, "like that
of----"

But we cannot venture to go on with the blasphemous parallel which he
drew between himself and the Almighty. He ended, however, by asking,
"Where is the lad now?"

"He is at the house of his father, the Lord Beauchamp, in London,"
replied Overbury. "He spent a week at Cambridge, sire, then came back
direct, and has been in town ever since, preparing, they say, for
another journey to Italy, where, it is rumoured, he has some love
amongst the Italian ladies."

The King began to chuckle at what he called, "the fule boy going a
thousand miles for a woman;" and he laid his commands strongly on
Overbury to find out all about it, and give him information.

The Knight promised diligent compliance, and then added, "If your
Majesty is gracious enough to sign this paper, it will give my Lord of
Rochester the strongest possible claim to the lady's gratitude and
regard; and it will not be necessary to present it to her, but merely
to intimate that it exists; so that all danger of a misuse of it will
be avoided."

"Foul fall thee, man!" exclaimed the King, hesitating, and taking him
by the ear; "what a pertinacious hound thou art!"

"I know your Majesty is fond of a staunch dog," answered Overbury;
"and you will never blame me for hunting upon the right track."

"Well, well," cried the King, "I'll not sign it, man.--That's to say,
not just at present."

"Well then, sire," replied Overbury, determined to make one more
effort, "I had better tell my Lord of Rochester at once, not to keep
him any longer in suspense. I hear his foot upon the stairs."

"No, no," cried the King, hesitating; "let's see, let's see. Give me
the paper."

Overbury gave him the paper, repeating, "I had better let him know
your Majesty's resolution at once."

Rochester's step was now distinctly heard coming along the corridor,
and James looked round with a sort of nervous glance, exclaiming,--

"Where's the pen? where's the pen?"

"There, your Majesty," answered Overbury, putting one into his hand.

James wrote his name rapidly at the bottom of the paper, and gave it
to Overbury, saying, "There, there, let him have it. But do not stop
him now; and hark ye, you need not say that we refused to do it."

"I shall tell him, sire," replied Overbury, "that nothing but your
Majesty's great regard for him induced you to consent."

"Well, well, that will do--but do not stop him now," answered James,
hastily; and then exclaimed, as Rochester entered the closet, "The
horses, man! the horses!"

"Are at the door, your Majesty," replied the favourite; "and the
hounds and huntsmen gone to the north gate."

"Foul fall the loons," cried James; "I'll make them mind words another
time. Come away, Bobby, come away! We have lost much time already;"
and thus saying, he shuffled out of the closet, followed by Rochester;
while Overbury paused, gazing with a look of thoughtful satisfaction
at the paper he held in his hand.

"Ay," now he cried, "the way to fortune is open before him, and the
road to power open before me. And yet," he added, thoughtfully,
"Rochester has become somewhat cold, even when I am serving him the
most zealously. Such is the usual course of the world. I wonder how
far he will push his ingratitude?"

Thus is it ever with men blindfolded by their own selfishness.
Overbury fancied that he was entitled to deep gratitude from
Rochester, because he schemed and laboured to serve him; but he forgot
to ask himself, whether all that he did was not with a view to the
gratification of his own ambition.

The man who, purely for the sake of another, sacrifices his own peace,
his own repose, his own purposes, may well be entitled to
thankfulness. Nay, he who at no sacrifice does a kindly act, may have
merit likewise; but the man who, in labouring for another, has his own
interests, immediate or remote, still before his eyes, can claim but
little gratitude from him whom he may benefit in reaching his own
objects.

Had anything been wanting to show what were the principles upon which
Sir Thomas Overbury acted, his next thoughts would have displayed
them: "I will guard against ingratitude," he said; "I will keep this
paper in my own hands. His fortune will be then in my power, and hers
too will be of my making.--It will be better to have her recalled to
the Court at once. There is no fear of this Seymour now. He thinks not
of her. As far as I can hear from Maxwell, he has neither been to see
her since she went, nor even deigned to write.--No, no; 'twas but a
common visit of courtesy; and these tale-bearers have magnified it
into a matter of importance.--It is not there I have my fear; but I
doubt that daring, impassioned, unprincipled Countess of Essex. I must
break through that folly, or Rochester is lost; and yet it must be
done skilfully, for it is no light thing to bring down upon one's head
the anger of a fierce and ruthless woman. Still it must be done; and
though Rochester be bound hand and foot in the chains of this Delilah,
we will see whether ambition will not give him strength to break them.
It was but an allegory, that tale of Samson. Pleasure was the fair
Philistine; ambition the strength-giving hair of the Nazarite, which
might be cut off for a time, but grew again in the lap of satiety; and
though they blinded him, he slew them all.--He plucked ruin on his own
head, it is true; and such may be the case with this man.--Well, we
shall see!"



                            CHAPTER XXVI.


It was a fine clear morning in September, when, mounted on a powerful
horse, and quite alone, William Seymour began his journey towards
Buckinghamshire. Seldom were more joyful feelings in the heart of any
one; he was going to unite for ever his fate to her he loved best on
earth; nothing had occurred to interrupt his proceedings; the eyes of
policy seemed blinded; the very prying spirit of courtly scandal had
not penetrated his secret. All his preparations were made. The ring
upon the finger, and the benediction of the Church, was all that was
wanted to render Arabella his own. On, on he sped, then, with an eager
spur, and with little apprehension of meeting any one who was likely
to carry intelligence of his journey to the Court, which had now
removed to Greenwich.

Taking the shortest way as it then lay, he crossed the Thames by the
Horseferry,--which, at that time, existed about a mile beyond
Sunbury,--recrossed it again some miles higher up, and then spurred on
into Buckinghamshire through the deep beech woods, whose green leaves
were beginning to show the bronzing hand of time. He did not now
approach the house of Lord Shrewsbury from the side of the river, but
passing by Burnham and Hedsor, took a circuit round towards the great
gates of the park.

He was still about a mile distant, and the day had not yet reached the
tenth hour, when he observed a man on horseback, apparently looking
out for something in one of the neighbouring woods, about a quarter of
a mile in advance. Taking it for one of the keepers watching the game,
he rode on at the same quick pace; but the moment after, the person
whom he had perceived put his horse into a quick trot, and advanced
towards him.

The figure was familiar to his eye, and in a minute after, as they
approached nearer to each other, Seymour recognised Sir Harry West. An
undefined feeling of apprehension seized upon him; though he had
expected to find the old knight at Malvoisie; for it had been agreed
that he should be invited to act as father to the bride, as the Earl
of Shrewsbury declined to take any part in the business. But then,
what brought him out at that early hour, if nothing had gone wrong?
and the first question William Seymour asked as they met, was, "Is
anything the matter?"

"Quick, quick," cried Sir Harry, laying his hand upon his young
friend's bridle rein. "Come with me as fast as possible down this
lane. There is not an instant to lose;" and, turning Seymour's horse,
he led him a prisoner to the mouth of a narrow green cart-road through
the wood. Then freeing his bridle, he spurred on at a gallop,
beckoning to the young gentleman to follow. Seymour did so in some
consternation; and on they went as if they were hunting the deer,
till, at the first turning to the right, where the woods concealed
them from the high road, Sir Harry quitted the path he was following,
and somewhat slackened his pace.

"Now, in heaven's name, tell me what is the matter!" exclaimed William
Seymour, much alarmed.

"Why you have just escaped, by five minutes, the discovery of the
whole," said Sir Harry West. "Late last night arrived at Malvoisie Sir
Thomas Overbury and Chaloner, with the King's commands for the Lady
Arabella to join the Court at Greenwich. Not knowing when you would
arrive, or by what road, we have been most anxious, as you may
suppose; and they, as if they had some suspicion, and were determined
to detect you, have arranged, that as the lady chose to go by water in
the Earl's barge, Chaloner should accompany her; while Overbury, who
says his complexion is delicate, is to proceed with his men by the
high road. The Countess has promised to detain him as long as
possible, in order that he might not meet you at the gates; and while
your own two men have been sent, one upon the river, and the other by
the lower road, to give you warning, I came out here to watch for you,
expecting every moment to see Overbury at my heels."

"How often disappointment meets us at the gates of expectation!"
exclaimed Seymour. "What is to be done now, Sir Harry?--Do you imagine
they have discovered anything?"

"In truth I cannot say," answered Sir Harry West; "I hope and trust
not, for no hint has been given, even of a suspicion. But, at all
events, the Countess will let us know when we see her, for she is
determined to gain some intelligence from Overbury; and you may trust
to her shrewd wit for arriving at the truth."

"But what is to be done now?" cried Seymour again, in a tone of
despair. "What is to be done now?"

"The first thing to be done," replied Sir Harry West, "is for you to
come with me to the gamekeeper's cottage, and there to lie concealed,
till the Countess sends us word that these people are gone. As for the
rest, William, this is but a silly business. Methinks the world is
losing its wits; and that for this same idle passion of love, men are
casting from them all those great considerations which are, in fact,
the first in life. Here is the Earl of Devonshire breaks down the
noblest name that any man in his own day has created for himself, and
all for what?--A harlot!"

"Oh, name her not," exclaimed Seymour, indignantly, "name her not in
the same breath with Arabella. If that woman be not worth--as she is
not--the lightest thought of an honourable man, she whom I love is
surely, by her virtues as well as graces, an object for which any man
might sacrifice the highest fortunes of the world without a sign. What
is it that we seek on earth, but happiness, Sir Harry? All other
objects of ambition are but means to that great end; and it is but in
estimating well that in which happiness consists, that men show the
difference of their natures. Where--I ask you, my good friend--where
could I find any object equal to that I should lose in her, if she be
lost?--to that which I shall gain in her, if she be gained? What can
one win by the unfruitful glory of the sword, but the malediction of
thousands, if we make it the object of ambition? The only just cause
is our country's good; and noble love has always strengthened, rather
than depressed, the powers and energies of those who fight in an
honest quarrel. What are the poor contentions of the cabinet, or the
small and mean ambitions of a Court? The weights under which all good
things are pressed out of the felon spirit. But such love as I feel
for her, and she for me, will not only give happiness to both, but,
founded in high and honourable passion, will strengthen and support us
in every principle of right, and every worthy endeavour."

"'Tis all very true, my young friend," replied Sir Harry West, "and I
never for a moment thought of comparing this sweet lady with that bad
woman, Rich. Nevertheless, with the impediments that have stared you
in the face from the beginning, with the danger of bringing misery
upon her as well as yourself, I cannot but say it would have been
wiser far to have refrained, to have nipped the growing passion in the
bud, and never to have let it take such firm root that it could not be
plucked up. It is a silly business, Seymour, I repeat; and God send it
prove not sad as well as silly.--However, as it has gone thus far, it
must needs now go on; and I must help it, I suppose; for it is never
fear for myself that urges me, when I strive to dissuade a friend
from a dangerous course, which may involve me with him. We can
determine upon nothing yet, till we hear what news the Countess has
obtained.--On my life, I know not well my way to this gamekeeper's
house, but as we are out of sight of the road it does not so much
matter."

They wandered near half a mile out of their way; but at length, after
considerable search, came to a keeper's dwelling in the wood, where
the first question of Sir Harry West was, whether any message had been
sent to him from the house.

"No, sir," replied the keeper's wife, who was busily preparing her
husband's dinner against his return. "There has been nobody from the
house at all. Shall I send up the little boy to see?"

Sir Harry answered in the negative, and only begged leave to remain
there for a while with his friend, as he expected a messenger
speedily.

Casting himself down on a chest in the window, Seymour gave himself
up to his melancholy thoughts, while Sir Harry West stood in the
door-way, watching against accident or surprise. We need not picture
to the reader the state of mind of the disappointed lover as he sat
there, with memory brooding over his broken hopes, and imagination
darkening the future. One half hour passed by after another, and no
one appeared, till at length the keeper himself came in, and instantly
recognised the old knight and his young companion, both of whom he had
previously seen.

"Which way did you come, Harding?" demanded Sir Harry.

"I came across the horse road from the water, sir," replied the man,
"and should have been here before; but I just stopped for a minute, to
give a clout on the head to one of those courtier fellows, who was
teasing Lady Arabella's gentlewoman."

"Ha," cried Sir Harry West, with a look of immediate interest, "what
gentlewoman was that?"

"She they call the Signora," answered the man, "and a nice young lady
she is, though she do speak English with a queer outlandish twang."

"Where was this?" exclaimed the old knight, with his eyes sparkling
with unwonted fire. "By Heaven! I will crop his ears for him, if he be
one of the best of them."

"No need of that, sir," answered the man, "he's but a poor creature,
and can't do any one much harm. I saw him run after the young lady
from the lower terrace, and thought not much about it; but taking
across the covert, to see after the game as I went, I came upon him a
quarter of a mile up there, teasing her sadly. So I told him to let
her alone; upon which he called me clown; and I gave him a touch--just
a little touch,--with the flat of my hand upon the side of his head,
when down he went like a ninepin. He got up again, however, and went
off towards the house; so after that I said good day, ma'am, and came
away--I hate those courtiers."

"So do I," replied the knight; "but this shows us, Seymour, that some
of them are there still. So we must even share your pottage with you,
Harding, for neither Mr. Seymour nor I will go, while they are there."

"Right welcome, sir, right welcome," replied the keeper; "this being
Thursday, we always make plenty, to last till the end of the week."

As he spoke, a hand was laid upon the latch, and the next instant Ida
Mara entered. As soon as she saw the old knight, who advanced to meet
her, she put her hand in his with a look of deep and grateful
affection, saying, "I have been stopped and troubled, sir, or I would
have been here half an hour ago.--The Countess has sent me to tell
you, that they are not gone. They stay over the noon meal. As soon as
they are away, she will send to you."

As she spoke, she made a low inclination of the head to Seymour, but
addressed herself to Sir Harry West.

"Who was this that troubled you?" asked the old knight; "the keeper
has been telling me about him. Who was he, Ida? Old as I am, I am
young enough to slit a coxcomb's ears."

"Mind him not, mind him not, dear Sir Harry," cried the girl,
laughing. "At the Court I am obliged, very often, to give rude answers
to such idle things as that. All I cared for was, that he followed me
wherever I turned, and stopped me from coming hither."

"Then the Lady Arabella is not gone?" asked Seymour, somewhat
impatient at this episode.

"Oh yes, sir," replied Ida Mara, "she went near two hours ago, leaving
me to follow with one of the maids and her apparel."

Seymour cast down his eyes, and clasped one hand tight upon the other;
and the girl, turning to the keeper, thanked him in as courteous terms
and graceful language, as if she had been bred amongst the highest of
the land. Then, looking to Sir Harry, she said, "I will go back now,
sir, for fear they should track me here."

"You must not go alone," replied the old knight. "You may meet with
insult by the way, my dear. I will go with you, till you are near the
house."

"Let me go, sir," cried the keeper; "the jackanape will run fast
enough if he sees me."

"That he will," replied Ida Mara; "but you struck him too hard. I
thought you had killed him."

"Pooh!" answered the man, "I only gave him a touch. Those things
ar'n't so easily killed,--they've got nine lives, like a cat. I'll be
back again in a minute, good wife, so don't wait for me."

In about an hour and a half after Ida Mara's visit, a loud whoop was
heard on the outside of the cottage, and Harding started up to open
the door, crying "That's my Lord." "Come, Sir Harry, come," exclaimed
the Earl of Shrewsbury, entering. "Come, Seymour, come, the land is
clear of the enemy.--Bring their horses up, Harding.--How are you,
William, how are you?" and he shook his young friend's hand cordially.
"Nay, look not so sad," he continued, as they walked along; "all is not
lost that is delayed. With such a politician behind your hand, as my
good wife, you have nothing to fear. Whatever Mary Cavendish makes up
her mind to have done, depend upon it will be done. If she were to set
her heart upon marrying me to the prettiest lady of all the Court, I
should expect that she would carry me to the altar within a week, and
get an act of parliament for bigamy. It's lucky enough that what she
determines is generally right, otherwise the world would soon be in
confusion."

"But what has she discovered, my dear lord?" demanded Sir Harry West.

"Good faith, she must tell you all about it herself," replied the
Earl. "I wish you could have been there to see how she twisted this
politic boy, Overbury, round her finger; and without telling him
anything but what was true, made him believe exactly what she liked.
All I know is, that she is now his confidant, is aware of all his
plans and purposes; and that he looks to her for help to carry them
into execution, when, good life, if she does not thwart them all, I am
not Shrewsbury.--Come, cheer thee up, William, cheer thee up, or my
lady will call thee the melancholy man; she has had no name for poor
Arabella since last night but Wheyface; and certainly the girl, what
with fright at the thought of matrimony, and then fear of no
matrimony, has lost half her roses. But as the Countess vows that you
shall be married ere a fortnight pass, be you sure it will be so, if
all the kings between this and Bagdad were to say you nay."

"That is some consolation at least, replied Seymour, with the first
smile that had lighted his countenance since his arrival: and in such
conversation they proceeded till they came within sight of the house,
when, seeing the Countess walking upon the terrace, the young
gentleman hurried his pace, and joined her before the other two came
up.

"We have had a narrow escape, William," said Lady Shrewsbury, after
the first salutation. "If these coxcombs had but waited a few hours,
we should have had some unwelcome wedding guests."

"A most unfortunate event, indeed," replied Seymour, who could not
master his disappointment. "Have you discovered how this accident
befel?"

"Nay, call it not unfortunate, foolish fellow," replied the lady. "You
young men, the moment they cannot have all their own way, look at
nothing but the evil, though it be no bigger than a grain of seed, and
forget to thank God for the good, though there be a mountain of it. We
have more need to rejoice at our luck, than cry out upon fortune, even
if it were but that we have escaped detection. But there's a great
deal more than that; and it is altogether the luckiest turn that
matters could have taken. I wish to heaven you could have seen this
upstart Overbury, this minion's minion, with his wit and his wisdom,
and how he helped to take himself in, both last night and this
morning. 'Twas a rare sight, I can assure you. Here's my lord will
tell you how I played the youth, as a skilful angler does a mighty
trout; and how he floundered and spent his strength, till he was fain
to let me land him on the bank, completely at my mercy. We spoke of
all things, Arabella and you, and his own plans and purposes; and I
explained to him in good set terms what I should expect for my niece,
if ever she condescended to give her hand to Robert Carr. First, he
must make her a duchess. There he was ready to meet me; he was sure
the King would consent to that. Did he not make Philip Herbert knight,
baron, viscount, and earl, in one day? and what could he refuse to
Carr? Then I declared that I must have three thousand pounds per annum
settled on the lady. This staggered him a little, the treasury being
empty; but he ended by saying, that my Lord of Rochester's estates
might well bear that; whereat I smiled upon him most graciously, fell
into thought, and smiled again; after which he asked the meaning of my
looks. I answered that he brought to my mind a bold ambassador, who,
once suing to a king for something on which his master had set his
heart, made no scruple to promise everything required as an
equivalent. First, it was the hand of his sovereign's daughter; then
an enormous dowry; then a province of the kingdom; and, when the other
party asked in jest an island in the Indian Ocean, belonging to heaven
knows whom, he replied, it too should be given--if it could be
procured. Thereat he laughed, and said that he could assure me all he
promised he could perform."

"What answered you to that, lady?" asked Seymour.

"I said--now for the island in the Indian Ocean," answered the
Countess; "there is one thing more, good Sir Thomas Overbury, before I
suffer my niece to be moved in this suit: I must see her freed
entirely from the shackles with which the King has been pleased to
fetter her. I must have in my hand the King's consent to her marrying
a subject; otherwise she may be trifled with, her expectations raised,
her affections gained, and then a flat refusal come at length, and all
her hopes be blighted."

"But, dear lady," exclaimed Seymour; "methinks you were but showing
him the road to travel to his object."

"Hush, silly youth," cried the Countess. "Do you recollect the story
of that Grecian wench, who threw golden apples in the way of those
with whom she ran a race? What did she want but time? and so did I.
But the scheme answered better than my hopes. He replied, that I
should have that too; to which I answered in a mocking tone, 'if it
can be procured.' He hesitated a little, thought deeply, and then
said, 'Madam, it has been procured.' This startled me; but I rejoined,
'For my own justification, sir, before I take one step, I must have it
in my hand. Lord Rochester must send it to me.' Then came a longer fit
of hesitation still, at the end of which, he answered, 'Lord Rochester
has not got it, madam; but I have.' I felt so angry that I was afraid
of myself, knowing right well that a look, or a word, might betray me;
but I mastered it all, and ere he could see how frightened I was to
find the matter had gone so far, I had got a look of sudden
satisfaction on my face, which would have cheated the wicked One
himself if he had been there. 'Indeed,' I cried; 'well, then, you have
the game in your own hand; whenever you like to play that card, you
may. But recollect, sir,' I added, in a lower tone, so that my good
husband might not hear, for he might have spoiled all--'but recollect,
sir, if I do give my consent, and bring this thing about--I do not say
I will, remember--but if I do, I shall expect something for my Lord of
Shrewsbury.' Could you have seen his face, William--he thought he had
the whole secret now, as clearly as if I had laid my heart in his
hand. He fancied Mary Cavendish one of his own greedy and exacting
tribe, who would sell their soul's salvation for a rose noble; and he
answered that what I wished would be easily accomplished. 'The Earl's
rank and station,' he said, 'would ensure him anything he thought fit
to ask,' and he added, 'if my playing that card, lady, be all that is
required to win the game, here is the ace of trumps;' and thereupon,
out of a silken book kept snugly in his pouch, he took a paper, and
held it forth between his finger and thumb. Good faith, if I had known
what it was, I would have clutched it in an instant; but I thought to
see the name of Robert Carr staring me full in the face; and I cast
about in my own mind what I should say to parry that, without
undeceiving him; so I answered, 'We have not settled yet what the Earl
is to receive; when you let me know what the King's bounty may be
pleased to confer, it will be time for me to take the paper;' and I
put it away with the back of my hand, as C[ae]sar did the crown. My
very unwillingness deceived him more: had I longed for it, he would
not have given it; but now he thrust it on me, 'Take it, madam, take
it,' he said, 'and within a week you shall hear what can be done. I am
sure your Ladyship will be moderate in your views, recollecting what a
claim the union of your niece with a gentleman standing so high in the
King's favour may establish for the future, even though you do not
obtain all that you can desire at once.' I answered, proudly, that
neither the House of Cavendish nor Talbot had ever showed themselves
greedy or exacting. But that, of course, we should consult our own
dignity; and so I took the paper--thinking that by accident it might
fall into the fire. I did not look at it till he was gone. Luckily I
did not, for I think I should have screamed with joy."

"What did you find?" cried Seymour, "what did you find?"

"His Majesty's full and despotic consent," exclaimed the Countess, "to
Arabella's marriage with any subject she may choose in the realm. I
clapped my hands till Shrewsbury thought me mad; and I have it safe,
good youth, I have it safe."[6]


----------

[Footnote 6: It is proved incontrovertibly by Mr. Lodge, from papers
amongst the Harleian manuscripts, that such a permission had been
obtained from the King, and that upon it the Lady Arabella acted.]

----------


The first expression on Seymour's countenance was joy, but the second
was doubt and apprehension. "That is indeed something gained," he
said, "yet I cannot but fear that you have pledged yourself, dear
Countess, to aid in bringing about Arabella's marriage with this
upstart minion of the King."

"And so I will," cried Lady Shrewsbury; "so I will, if she do not
first give her hand to some one else. I know all you would say, so
hold your tongue, for 'tis but folly. Granted that, with the
encouragement he has received, this deputy love-maker may hurry on the
affair; cannot I refuse whatever he offers? Leave woman's wit to
frustrate man's policy. Believe me, you are no match for us in that.
'Tis only force we fear. Come hither, my good lord," she continued,
raising her voice to the Earl, who stood talking with Sir Harry West
upon the terrace below, "come hither, and give us your counsel; and
you, good knight, come too."

The Earl mounted the steps with a good-humoured, but determined look,
replying, as he came up, "I tell thee, housewife, I will have nought
to do with it. Though you think you have gained a step, I see no great
advantage; and all I say is, if the matter must go forward, the sooner
it is done the better."

"It must go forward now, my Lord, I believe," said Sir Harry West; "I
could have wished it had never been begun; but, as the lady's heart is
fully engaged, as Seymour is mad upon this theme, and as--if I
understand you right--she must either marry him, or that pitiful
creature Carr, there is no choice. On my life! I would rather wed her
myself than she should give her hand to that poor minion."

"Out, misanthrope!" exclaimed the Countess; "we will call him the
woman-hater. He talks of wedding the sweetest lady in the land, as if
it were giving himself over to purgatory."

"I should have said," replied Sir Harry; "it were better for her to
marry me than Carr; for although, up to this present time, he has
demeaned himself somewhat moderately, yet I see the seeds of strong,
bad passions in him just shooting, and also that weakness of nature,
which is, perhaps, more dangerous in a man placed at the height of
power, than the worst qualities in one who has vigorous sense to guide
or to restrain them. Miserable indeed will the woman be who links her
fate with his."

"Arabella shall neither marry you nor him," replied the Countess,
laughing. "Here stands the worshipful bridegroom elect; and the thing
for us now to consider is, what is next to be done? It is now two of
the clock; the good youth has ridden five-and-thirty miles; he must
have some rest, and some food; but yet I would give a great deal, that
he could show himself in Hertford to-night."

"That is easily done," replied William Seymour; "my horse will carry
me well. 'Tis not more than forty miles, I think. But what is the
object?"

"Nay," answered the Countess, "you can pause at Hatfield, then write
me a short letter to my Lord of Salisbury, requesting permission to
attend the Court. Send it off the instant you arrive: so will your
visit here this day be concealed; and what I have said to Overbury
will banish all fear."

"I rather fancy, fair dame," said the Earl, "your own plots and
conspiracies make you think that the people suspect more than they do.
When I was at the Court on Thursday last, the rumour of that business
before the Council had blown by. Nobody thought of it any more; or if
they did, 'twas but to laugh at it. Cecil said that the King seemed as
jealous of the Lady Arabella as an Italian of his mistress, fancying
people in love with her who never thought of her."

"Well, well," cried the Countess, impatiently, "we cannot be too
secure. The lad shall have some dinner, and then set off. You must
mount one of his servants, Shrewsbury; and if he follow my directions,
ere four days be over Arabella shall be his. Come hither, come hither
with me, William. You give orders about the horses, my Lord,--that is
no part of the plot, you know;" and leaning upon Seymour's arm, she
walked with him into the hall, where preparations for a meal were
already made.

"There, sit down and refresh yourself," said Lady Shrewsbury, "and
listen to me while you eat and drink. You need not stay in the room,
Jonah."

The servant to whom she spoke withdrew, closing the door behind him,
and the Countess then remained in thought for a moment, after which
she exclaimed, "All we shall want is a parson; the banns have been
duly published; I will bring up a certificate to that effect, and meet
you at Greenwich to-morrow, or the next day. You must find some good
serviceable priest, who will not scruple to join your hand and
Arabella's in her own chamber or mine. Sir Harry West shall give her
away; and you must provide yourself with another witness whom you can
trust; for the dear girl's fair name must not suffer."

"Oh, Rodney, Rodney is the man," replied Seymour; "he is full of all
excesses of love and honour; and there is no chance of his betraying
our secret, if it be not in a sonnet addressed to my fair
grandmother."

The Countess laughed, and her young friend proceeded: "He, too, I
doubt not, can find me a clergyman, who will do all that is needful.
Will you, dear lady, prepare Arabella? for it may so happen, that I
have no opportunity of speaking to her alone."

"All that shall be done," answered the Countess; "and I, too, will
take care to fix upon some day when the Court shall have business on
its hands; so that our proceedings be unwatched. However, you must
both get out of the country as fast as possible. Are you prepared with
means?'

"All is done," answered Seymour. "Lord Hertford gave me a thousand
pounds to pay our first expenses; the ship is in the mouth of the
river, only waiting for us to sail. Now, lady, I am ready," he
continued, rising.

"Nay, take another cup of wine," said the Countess; "have the priest,
with a friend, prepared at Greenwich, and leave all the rest to me."

Seymour promised, with right good will, to fail in nothing that
depended on him; and then, taking his leave of Lady Shrewsbury, he
bade farewell to the Earl and Sir Harry West, mounted on his horse,
and, followed by one servant, rode away across the country. So far the
scheme proved successful: he reached Hertford in time to despatch a
note to Lord Salisbury that night; and no one in the Court suspected
that he had been in Buckinghamshire for many a month. Even Arabella
herself heard on the following morning that he had been seen during
the preceding evening, at a great distance from the spot where she had
fancied he must be, and concluded that he must have obtained
intelligence of Overbury's visit to Malvoisie.



                            CHAPTER XXVII.


There was a grand pageant at the Court, on some one of those many
occasions which, in that day, afforded the excuse for revelling and
merriment, not of the most refined and intellectual kind. The morning
had passed in tilting; there was a masque and dancing in the evening;
and all the state rooms of the old palace at Greenwich had been thrown
open, for the reception of guests invited from London and the
neighbourhood, and for the multitude of noble persons, who usually
thronged the royal residence.

There was music and dancing going on in the great hall; and beyond,
through a vista of rooms and corridors, groups were seen moving about,
glittering in all the splendid costume of that day; while the faces of
servants and attendants might be caught peeping in at doorways and
open windows, or hurrying about, either carrying refreshments to those
who needed them, or to prepare for a grand banquet in the farthest
hall of the suite, with which the pleasures of the night were to
close.

Arabella Stuart, who had been dancing, in order not to seem unlike the
rest, now stood in the group near the Queen; and to say the truth,
although William Seymour was not present, she looked gayer and more
cheerful than she had done for several days. Nor was the brightness of
her aspect assumed, as had been too frequently the case in her short
life; but it had a cause in the conduct of others. It was not that any
particular attention or kindness had been shown to her, but rather the
reverse; for she was well inclined to be as little noticed as
possible. The truth is, however, that a scene was taking place before
her eyes, which, however much it might offend the pure delicacy of her
feelings, relieved her from a great apprehension.

Twice since she had been at the palace, Sir Thomas Overbury had found
occasion to hint at Lord Rochester's suit; and although she had been
but once seen by that personage himself, she had dreaded, when she
entered the hall, that she might be the object of painful attentions.
He was now before her, however, and seemed scarcely to know that she
was in the room. His whole thoughts, his whole feelings, his looks,
his conversation were absorbed by the bright and beautiful Countess of
Essex; and never, perhaps, on any occasion was such a wild and
shameless display of illicit love offered to the eyes of a multitude,
as was now afforded by those two unhappy people.

The King looked on and laughed; but the Queen, even light as she was,
felt pained and indignant; and Sir Thomas Overbury from time to time
grasped his sword belt with an involuntary movement, nearly tearing it
from his side.

His irritation was not particularly allayed by some words of the
Countess of Shrewsbury, who, in passing near him, paused for a moment,
and said, "You see, Sir Thomas! What must the Lady Arabella think of
this?"

She waited for no answer, but walked on: and the young Knight turned
to one of the windows, which were open to admit the air, for the night
was hot and sultry.

Scarcely had the Countess quitted him, when a gentleman of two or
three-and-thirty years of age, tall, graceful, and dressed in splendid
but somewhat fantastic habiliments of sky-blue silk and gold,
approached her, and asked if she would dance a measure.

"I am an old woman, Sir George," replied Lady Shrewsbury, looking
round to several persons who stood near, "and though your taste may
run in that way, I cannot favour you. Give me your arm, however; I
will walk down the hall with you to get some breath, for here I am
stifled."

They walked on beyond the dancers; and, as soon as they were somewhat
clear of the numbers which thronged the hall, the Countess gave her
companion an inquiring look.

"Now or never, beautiful lady," said Sir George Rodney; "the priest
and Seymour are in the little antechamber, between the Lady Arabella's
apartments and your own. Sir Harry West and the dark-eyed Italian girl
are watching them, lest, like two lions, they should devour each
other."

"But it is before the time," replied Lady Shrewsbury, "and I
determined that I would not tell her a word, till the last moment. I
have not an instant to do so."

"Nay, it is the time to a minute," answered Sir George Rodney; "they
were long ere they began the dance. Seize the opportunity, lady, seize
the opportunity. The happy moment always has swallow's wings. So catch
it while you can."

"I will try and speak with her now," said the Countess, "and bring her
away if possible; but we must have a little time. Come with me; I know
you will be ready to play your part, whatever it may be;" and moving
slowly back to the spot where Arabella stood, she placed herself next
to her niece, while Sir George Rodney contrived to insinuate himself
on the other side, between her and the Earl of Montgomery, who stood
near.

"This gay gallant, Arabella," said the Countess, aloud, "wishes me to
make myself ridiculous by dancing with him. Will you take compassion
on him, fair niece?"

"It is too warm and close to be compassionate," replied Arabella, with
a smile; "I will wait a little, Sir George, by your good leave."

At that moment, Lord Montgomery turned to answer some question of the
Queen; and the Countess, approaching her lips close to Arabella's ear,
whispered a few words in a hurried manner.

She had not calculated the degree of her niece's firmness well. A
sudden paleness spread itself over Arabella's face; and after gasping
a moment for breath, she sank down upon one of the low stools, while
Lady Shrewsbury had just time to catch her drooping head upon her arm.

An immediate bustle took place around the spot; but Sir George Rodney
exclaimed, "'Tis nothing but a swoon from the heat! She will be better
in an instant, your Majesty. I will carry her into the ante-chamber
for air;" and raising her, stool and all, he bore her through a door
behind the throne, while the Countess supported her head.

Several persons followed, but returned one by one, saying that the
lady was somewhat better; and some of the light wits began to laugh,
and say that it was more the warmth of Lord Rochester's manner to the
Countess of Essex, than the warmth of the room, that had affected the
Lady Arabella. In a minute or two Lady Shrewsbury reappeared, and in a
low tone told the Queen that her niece had somewhat recovered, but she
feared would not be able to rejoin the royal party.

"We will take her to her own room," she said, "and, by your Majesty's
gracious permission, I will sit with her for half-an-hour."

She then rejoined Arabella, who was seated in the antechamber, with
Sir George Rodney still beside her, together with a young lady
belonging to the Court.

"She will do well now, Lady Lucy," said the Countess; "pray go back to
the Queen. Rodney and I will take care of her. Repeat her some of your
verses, Sir George, and make her laugh.--Nay, indeed, I will not have
you stay, sweet girl," she continued, taking her young friend by the
hand, and leading her back to the door of the ball-room; "I will bring
you a good account of her in half-an-hour.--Now Arabella," she added,
in a low voice, when the door was closed, "be firm, my dear. Remember
for what a stake we all play."

Arabella turned her eyes with a look of timid apprehension from the
face of her aunt to that of Sir George Rodney.

"He knows all, my sweet niece," said the Countess; "he is to be one of
the witnesses. Be resolute, my love, be resolute."

"I will, I will, dear aunt," replied Arabella, faintly; "but I was not
prepared."

"The less preparation the better," answered the Countess. "Give her
your arm, Sir George. Take mine on this side, Arabel.--Can you go?"

"One moment, one moment!" said Arabella, putting her hand before her
eyes, while her lips moved in silence for an instant, as if the heart
uttered some prayer unheard.

"Now I am ready," she added; and rising with their assistance, she
suffered them to lead her slowly to her room. They entered by the door
from the staircase; and she looked round anxiously, while the colour
mounted into her cheek. Then seeing no one there but Ida Mara, who ran
towards her and kissed her hand, she sank into a seat and bent down
her fair head.

"Now lock that door," said the Countess, pointing to the one by which
they had just come in.

Ida Mara hastened to obey; and Lady Shrewsbury continued, for a minute
or two, to whisper words of comfort and support. She then made a sign
to Ida Mara, who therefore opened the other door at the farther side
of the chamber, and spoke for an instant to some persons behind. The
moment after, there were steps heard in the room; but Arabella raised
not her head, and remained with her cheek pale, and her eyes bent down
upon the ground.

"Will you not speak to me, my beloved?" asked William Seymour, taking
her hand.

"She has been ill, Seymour--she fainted," said the Countess of
Shrewsbury. "I told her of the matter too abruptly."

"But have you any doubt or hesitation?" inquired William Seymour,
still addressing Arabella; "if you have, speak, my beloved. I will
never exact the fulfilment of a promise, from which you may wish
yourself released. Have you any doubt or hesitation?"

"Oh, no, no, William," replied Arabella, with the colour mounting in
her cheek: "none, none, whatsoever. Agitated I must be--apprehensive I
cannot help being, but doubt or hesitation, I have none. With the same
free heart wherewith I promised you my hand, I will give it now; and
it is all I have to give. I wish it were a jewel worth an Emperor's
crown, for your sake."

"It is worth more to me," answered Seymour, "than the brightest crown
that ever graced this earth. Come, Arabella, all is ready, dear one."

"But tell me," asked Arabella, anxiously, "are we to fly to-night,--I
fear I have scarcely strength."

"Oh, no," replied William Seymour, "'tis but that the indissoluble
bond may bind us to each other, Arabella. We must choose the moment
for flight afterwards, when opportunity serves."

Arabella still paused in thought, but the Countess took her hand,
saying, "Come, dear girl, come! You must recollect that if I and Sir
George Rodney are much longer away from the Court, it may be
remarked."

The lady looked round; and seeing good Sir Harry West standing near,
she held out her hand to him, saying, "Thank you, Sir Harry, this is
very kind of you. You have indeed been a father to me often."

At that moment some one tried the door, which had been locked, and
then knocked for admission; and, at a sign from the Countess, the
whole party of gentlemen retired into the ante-room, between that
chamber and her own apartments, while Ida Mara went slowly to the
door, and asked who was there.

"It is I," answered the voice of one of Anne of Denmark's ladies.

"Open the door, girl, open the door," cried the Countess, aloud; and
the moment after, a young and pretty woman entered, and, approaching
Arabella, said, "Her Majesty has sent me to ask how you fare, dear
lady."

"Present my humble duty to her," replied Arabella, whose frame
trembled with agitation and alarm, "and pray tell her I am somewhat
better. My aunt will stay with me a little while, I hope; but I fear I
shall not be able to come down again to-night."

"She does not expect you," said the lady; "but I may tell her Majesty
you are really better, may I not?"

"Oh, yes! much, much," answered Arabella; and with a kind nod and
look, the girl hastened back to the gay scene, in which her young
light heart found its pleasure, the door was once more locked, and the
rest of the marriage party recalled to the room.

"I will not keep you any longer," said Arabella Stuart, rising, "it
might be dangerous to you, Seymour.--I am quite ready," she added,
raising her eyes to his face, while a warm blush covered her cheek.
"This marriage is legal, sir, I suppose?" she continued, turning her
eyes to the clergyman, who had come in with her lover and Sir Harry
West.

"Quite, madam," he replied; "once celebrated, no power on earth can
dissolve it, so long as the marriage-vow be kept."

Arabella bowed her head; and the parties being arranged in order, the
ceremony proceeded, and concluded uninterrupted. Arabella answered
firmly and confidently, and pledged herself for ever to William
Seymour, with the fullest assurance of happiness, so far as it was in
his power to bestow it.

"Now, Rodney, away," cried the Countess of Shrewsbury; "go round by
the passages below, and in by the other door. Say, if any one asks,
that you left the lady much better; and that I will be down in a few
minutes. Away! away! Sir George!"

Sir George Rodney advanced a step, took Arabella's hand, and bending
gracefully, pressed his lips upon it, and then retired by the Countess
of Shrewsbury's apartments.

He was followed in a moment or two by the clergyman, and Sir Harry
West; and in about half an hour, Lady Shrewsbury reappeared in the
hall of the palace, and mingled with the gay crowd below.

Many were the inquiries after the Lady Arabella, from those who could
love and appreciate virtue and excellence, though they might tolerate
vice and folly. But Lady Shrewsbury answered, with her usual
self-possession, that her niece was better, indeed quite well, but
that she feared to encounter the heat again; and the subject soon
dropped and was forgotten.



                           CHAPTER XXVIII.


We must once more introduce the reader into that school for idle
speculation, the ante-chamber of a palace, where four young men were
sitting, amusing themselves at the expense of their neighbours, and of
each other. One of the principal personages was he whom we have
denominated Bradshaw; another was an esquire, called Graham, of about
twenty years of age; another, a youth of the name of Blount, a distant
relation of the celebrated Earl of Devonshire; and the fourth was the
young Sir Charles Ramsay.

The day was wearing towards its close, and already the sky, which,
during the whole afternoon, had been clear and bright, was becoming
purple with the setting sun. The broad river, flowing on, glowed like
a ruby, in the light of evening; and the white sails of the boats, as
they flitted by, were tinged with the same rosy hue.

"Come, let us go out and have a sail upon the water," said Ramsay,
speaking to Blount; "here are Bradshaw and Graham, quite enough for
all the King's purposes, and I hate being stived up here for so many
hours together."

"Wait till Overbury comes out," said Bradshaw, "and I will go with
you. It is Graham's turn to wait; and after six, the old gossip
requires only one."

Princes little know how ill-chosen attendants speak of them, almost
within ear-shot. A king who suffers the licentious in his
ante-chamber, may be certain that their libertine tongues will make
free with himself.

"How long Overbury stays!" said another; "if Rochester does not mind,
he will supplant him in James's favour."

"He does not seem particularly high in Carr's favour just now,"
rejoined Graham; "for he has been hunting him all the morning, and the
noble lord favourite has avoided him vigorously and successfully."

"I saw them dodging each other through the courts this morning," said
Blount, "like boys playing at hide and seek."

"Ah, Rochester was dodging somebody else," answered Bradshaw; "for
there was Lady Essex, with a homely gown and servant's farthingale on,
a white satin mask, and a veil over her head, stole out by the west
gate, and through the water-port of the park. There was a barge
waiting; and Rochester drew off from Overbury like a sly old fox
breaking cover quietly, and glided down under the wall to the stairs,
then into the barge with my lady and away. She thought I did not know
her, but one of Essex's bright eyes is not to be mistaken, whether it
shines through black velvet or white satin."

"I'll bet you an angel to a pint of Burgundy," said Blount, "that
Overbury wanted to scold Rochester for the business of last night;
and, to say truth, it was somewhat gross, his going on so with
Mistress Essex before the Lady Arabella's eyes."

"I did not know that she was so far gone as to faint for him," said
Ramsay. "By Apollo, I think I have a better leg than he has!"

"The broken one was the best leg he ever had to stand upon," answered
Bradshaw. "But are you of those who fancy that beautiful Bella fainted
for him? I doubt it much, I doubt it much."

"Oh, the thing was very evident," cried Blount.

"It may be so," answered Bradshaw; "but if ever I saw man, William
Seymour was at the palace last night. He was wrapped up in a great
cloak, with his hat flapped over his face, just coming up from the
water-side when I walked down the arcade."

"You are in the luck of discovering people in disguise," said Ramsay;
"the King had better send you to the mouth of the Thames to inspect
all the vessels that pass, for this poor devil, Legate."

"Who is he? what of him?" asked Bradshaw.

"What! have you not seen the proclamation?" cried Blount, "commanding
all the King's subjects, and especially his officers of customs and
the ports, to examine strictly all outward-bound vessels, and
ascertain that one Bartholomew Legate, accused of heresy, does not
escape from the realm; and to bring him, and all other persons
attempting unlawfully to fly the kingdom, before his Majesty, or his
court of the Star Chamber."

"No," answered Bradshaw, "I have seen nothing about it. But I hope
they wont catch him soon."

"Why," demanded Graham; "are you a heretic, too?"

"No," replied Bradshaw; "but still I hope they will not catch
him soon; for this is too warm weather to enjoy a fire in
Smithfield.--Then there is a sort of embargo established?"

"Not quite that," rejoined Blount; "a strict search, that is all. But
here comes the favourite's favourite! I hear the King's door go. Let
us treat him with all due respect."

The moment after, Sir Thomas Overbury passed through the ante-chamber,
with a slow step and a gloomy brow. The four gentlemen drew back, two
on either side, and made him a low and formal bow as he went.
Overbury, knowing that they were mocking him, merely inclined his head
and walked on; but the instant he was gone, the four burst into a loud
laugh, and began to comment upon his character without much mercy.

In the meanwhile the Knight proceeded through the adjoining passage,
little caring what they said or thought, occupied with far more
unpleasant reflections. He descended a back staircase of the palace,
took one or two turns up and down in the open air of the nearest
court, and several times put his hand to his brow, as if it ached.

"If Arabella," he muttered to himself, "be but as infatuated with him
as the King, the matter may still go forward; but it will need
infatuation indeed to keep up his favour with either of them. The man
has gone mad, that is clear. I have often heard of the power of a bad
woman, but never knew it went to such an extent. Heaven and earth,
what a world this is!--I will go sail upon the Thames, and see whether
the cool air will take the fire out of my brain; the sun is just down,
and the moon will soon be up. I like the moonlight on the water; it
puts me in mind of my father's house.--I often wish I were a boy
again, and in my quiet home. Not all the glitter of courtly life, nor
the joy of successful ambition, is worth one hour of holiday boyhood's
pure, unalloyed happiness after all."

As he thus thought, he bent his steps towards the river, and at the
little stairs below those of the palace called a boat, which soon bore
him down the stream towards Woolwich. He felt refreshed and calmed,
and went sailing slowly on for near an hour. At the end of that time,
he told the boatmen to turn; and the wind being now against them, and
the tide in their favour, they pulled down the sail and took to their
oars.

The moon had by this time risen, nearly at the full, and was pouring a
flood of light over all things, tranquil and soft, like that which
seems to shine from another sphere upon a spirit weaned from this
earth's affections. The objects of the world around were all distinct
and clear to the eye, though without the warmth and brightness of the
day; and as the boat approached the stairs, another shot past it,
rowed by two stout watermen, with a gentleman sitting in the stern,
wrapped in a large cloak, and having his hat flapped over his eyes.
There was something in the figure, however, which caught the attention
of Sir Thomas Overbury, and he bade his rowers ply their oars. The
other gentleman reached the landing first, and had just stepped on
shore, when the knight's boat glided up; and he himself, resolving to
see who the stranger was, sprang up the steps, exclaiming, "My Lord,
my Lord, I would fain speak with you."

"You are mistaken, sir," replied a voice, in what he thought an
assumed tone; and the other gentleman walked on at a rapid pace.

Sir Thomas was about to follow as quickly; but one of the boatmen
caught him by the sleeve, demanding his fare. The Knight paid him
immediately, and then walked forward as fast as possible upon the only
road that led to the palace; but some minutes were lost, and by this
time the stranger had disappeared, apparently through the great gates,
into the outer court.

Overbury hurried on, and thought he caught a glimpse of the other's
cloak turning the corner, towards that part of the building which, for
some reason, was called the Ladies' lodging. In each floor of that
mass of brick-work were several suites of apartments, occupied by
different ladies of the Court, and amongst others, the Lady Arabella
Stuart. Below ran a low arcade, with a number of different doors, and
staircases, and passages through the building, like those which are
still to be seen at Hampton Court; and, as Overbury passed through the
little archway leading from the outer court, he distinctly saw the
figure of the stranger moving quickly along under the arcade.

It seemed to pause at the entrance of the staircase, which led first
to a suite of apartments occupied by Lady Walsingham, and then to
those of Arabella Stuart and the Countess of Shrewsbury, the latter of
whom had accepted the royal invitation for a week, on the occasion of
the festival of the preceding night. Overbury thought that the person
he pursued entered that doorway, which, as was then customary, stood
open. At all events, he did not see the figure proceed any farther;
and exclaiming, "Ha!" he advanced at once, entered the doorway,
mounted the stairs, and knocked at the door of the Lady Arabella's
chamber. It was opened almost immediately by Ida Mara, with a light.

"Can I speak for a few moments with the Lady Arabella?" said the
knight.

"This is her bedchamber, sir," answered the pretty Italian, standing
in the deep doorway, and only partially opening the door. "No one
comes in by this door. You must go round by the passage to Lady
Shrewsbury's. The Lady Arabella is with the Countess.--That way, sir;"
and she pointed with her hand along a passage before him.

Without a moment's delay, Sir Thomas sped onward, and knocked at Lady
Shrewsbury's door, making the same inquiry. He was instantly admitted,
and somewhat to his surprise,--for a strong suspicion had taken
possession of his mind,--he found Arabella calmly seated by the
Countess, at an embroidery frame. Lady Shrewsbury rose with a cold and
haughty air, saying, "Sir Thomas, after several things that have
passed, I can suffer no such conversation as that which has lately
taken place between you and me to be held in my niece's presence.
Arabella, my love, you had better retire to your own apartments."

The lady rose, and bowing slightly to the Knight, without speaking,
quitted the room.

We must now return, however, to the door of her chamber, at the top of
the staircase. Scarcely had Sir Thomas Overbury been admitted to Lady
Shrewsbury, when down the dark and winding steps leading to the
chambers above, came the person whom the Knight had pursued from the
bank of the river. He knocked thrice, separately and distinctly, at
the door, which was instantly opened, and without a word he went in.
In another moment, Arabella was in the arms of her husband. She held
up her finger to him, however, saying, "Hush, love, hush! Speak low,
Sir Thomas Overbury is with my aunt."

"Oh! he cannot hear, my beloved," replied William Seymour; "there is
the ante-room between us and him. Did he come in this moment? for some
one seemed to chase me from the water side, so that I concealed myself
upon the stairs above. He knocked at the door too,--did he not, Ida?"

The Italian answered in the affirmative, and then withdrew to another
room; and, after a few of the tender words of love, Seymour went on to
speak of their future prospects.

"I fear, dear one," he said; "that we must delay our projected flight.
A proclamation was issued this morning, ordering strict search at all
ports, for some less happy fugitives than ourselves; and, I
understand, it is already rigorously in force. But turn not pale, my
Arabella, there is no danger. Our marriage can be concealed easily for
some weeks, till these impediments have been removed."

"I shall never feel at ease," replied Arabella, "in these stolen
interviews. Every time you are with me, Seymour, I shall expect to see
you seized and dragged away--perhaps to a prison. At the first moment
that it is possible, let us go. I would rather do anything, bear
anything, than live in constant apprehension."

"And I would bear much," answered Seymour, "to call my Arabella mine
in open day, to be with her every hour, to be never separated from
her. But still, my beloved, it is very, very seldom that fate allows
man to know moments of unmixed happiness. Let us take that which
fortune gives us, without clouding our little hour of sunshine with
needless fears. If there be not one care, there is always another; and
surely the sweet moments that I can pass with you are enough, for me
at least, to compensate for all the rest of the dull day. The stars
look the brightest, dear one, when the sky is darkest round them; and
so may our nights of happiness be all the more delightful for the
heaviness of the time while we are parted."

With such words of tenderness and hope, William Seymour soothed her
apprehensions: and as several more days passed without any new cause
for fear, Arabella became accustomed to their secret meetings, and
looked for the hour of Seymour's coming with all the joy of expectant
love; while he forgot the little incident of his meeting with
Overbury, and gave himself up to a feeling of security.

At length, one morning, when he was sitting alone in his father's
house in London, Sir Harry West was ushered in, with an expression of
satisfaction in his countenance which spoke him the bearer of good
tidings.

"You seem joyful, Sir Harry," said Seymour; "and I am sure, by your
bringing your gladness here, that it has some reference to me. What is
it, my good and noble friend?"

"I must not rejoice," replied Sir Harry West, "at the capture of an
unfortunate wretch, whom the bigotry of an unfeeling monarch will
certainly doom to the stake, I fear. But Legate is taken; and this
searching of the ships suspended. Now follow my advice, William; lose
not a moment; but bear your fair lady to another land. Time, the
discoverer of all things, will tear away the veil from your connexion,
make it as thick as you will. Sooner or later it must be avowed; put
yourself beyond the reach of tyranny, and then proclaim it openly."

"I will not lose a day," replied Seymour; "it will take to-morrow to
get everything into a state of preparation again, but surely the next
day we can effect our escape."

"In whatever I can assist you, I will most gladly," said Sir Harry
West, "I have got a purse at my lodgings, my dear young friend, which
I need not, and you do; and if you will undertake to get everything
ready in London, and prepare your fair lady, I will go down the river
at once, and see that the ship be put in order, well furnished with
men, and an ostensible cargo, and ready to sail whenever you join
her."

All such matters were easily arranged; and when Seymour entered the
boat that night to go down the Thames to Greenwich, it was with the
bright hope of carrying Arabella, during the succeeding night, to a
place of security, where all apprehensions of separation would be at
an end. He reached the landing-place, walked up to the palace, and
knocked as usual at Arabella's chamber, without anything causing him
to suspect that he was watched.

Ida Mara came to give him admission as usual with a light; but just at
that moment somebody came down vehemently from above, and, as
if by accident, ran against him dexterously--for it was done on
purpose--knocking his hat off, and exposing his face to the light.

The man was a famous sword-player, who had come down from London to
Greenwich, to amuse the Prince and the Court; and catching Seymour by
both arms, as if to steady himself, and avoid falling headlong down
the narrow stair-case, he begged him a thousand pardons, assuring him
that he knew not any one was there.

Seymour was upon his guard, however; and after saying in a calm tone
that there was no need of apology, he turned, and with an air of
indifference told Ida Mara to inform the Lady Arabella that Sir Harry
West would have the honour of waiting upon her the next day at noon.

The girl understood his object in an instant, and saying, "Very well,
sir, I will tell her," shut the door. Seymour then followed the
sword-player down the stairs, and proceeded to call at the lodging of
one of the young lords of the Court with whom he was acquainted; but
after having ascertained the spy had quitted that part of the
building, he returned to the apartment of his wife, and was instantly
admitted.

In the meanwhile the sword-player hurried on; and passing through
various passages and courts, directed his course straight to the
lodgings of Sir Thomas Overbury, who was waiting impatiently for his
arrival.

"Now," cried the Knight; "now, have you discovered him?"

"I have discovered him," replied the sword-player, who dabbled in the
conceits of the day; "for I knocked his hat off, while a pretty waiting
gentlewoman from within held a light."

"And who was it, who was it?" demanded Overbury, with the rapid
iteration of impatience.

"It was and is," answered the sword-player, "the second son of a noble
Lord, the grandson of a noble Earl. His family is Hertford; his name
is William Seymour."

"That is enough, that is enough," cried Overbury; "you can swear that
it was he?"

"As surely as I can swear that I am myself," said the sword-player.
"But mark ye, most worshipful knight, my evidence will do you little
good, for the gentleman did but deliver a simple message, and came
away; after which he went to my Lord Ancram's."

"A trick, a trick," exclaimed Sir Thomas Overbury; "stay--tell me. Was
it before or after you knocked his hat of, that he gave this message?"

"After, most worshipful," replied his informant.

"A trick, a trick," repeated Overbury. "He was wrapped in a great
cloak, was he not?--with a broad slouched hat over his face?"

"To a point," answered the sword-player; "exactly as you have
described him to me."

"He comes every night," said Sir Thomas, thoughtfully; "and has been
appointed, I think, common courier between London and Greenwich.--I'll
to the King at once."

"Excuse me, fair knight," rejoined the sword-player, as his companion
was about to quit the room; "but you did promise me ten pieces of
gold, commonly called nobles; and my necessities are triumphant."

"There, there they lie, above the chimney," answered the Knight. "Now,
Master Wingfield, void the room; for I must to the King."

The man reached the money from the mantel-piece, and then, with a low
bow, passed the door, through which Sir Thomas followed him, locking
it behind him. He was disappointed in his purpose, however, for James
was busy in the composition of some recondite treatise, and refused to
admit him, appointing him, however, to come on the following morning
at nine o'clock. The Knight shut himself up in his chamber for the
rest of the evening; but early the next day he busied himself in
collecting farther information, and then hurried with it to the King.

James, with whom Lord Rochester's favourite and adviser stood very
high at this time, condescended to inform him why he had not received
him on the preceding occasion, and even did him the honour of reading
to him all that part of the treatise which he had composed the night
before. Overbury bore it with the patience of a martyr, and praised
and wondered so judiciously, that he rose considerably in the King's
opinion.

"Now, sir, what is it you want?" asked James; "if it be not a
petition, or remonstrance--an account, or a demand, we will hear you
graciously."

"It is neither of these things, sire," replied Overbury; "it is only
some information which, having accidentally obtained, I feel myself
bound, as your Majesty's most dutiful subject, to communicate to you
without delay, although it may give your Majesty pain. But as you
condescended to explain to me the wise and profound views which you
entertain regarding the marriage of your fair cousin, I should hold it
little short of treason to be silent;" and he proceeded to relate to
James all the facts he had discovered regarding Seymour's nightly
visits to Lady Arabella.

The King swore three or four most horrible oaths. "We'll soon stop
their love passages," he cried, "the undutiful rebel, the traitor;
after the solemn admonition that we gave him, he is no better than
Fawkes or Digby; nor is the lassie a whit less blameless. Call one of
the secretaries, sir, call one of the secretaries! The Privy Council
must be summoned without loss of time."

"It meets at noon, sire, by your Majesty's own order," replied
Overbury.

"Ay, truth, so it does," answered the King. "In the meantime have
warrants drawn up for apprehending this rebel boy and this headstrong
lassie.--Lose not a minute, sir; for by chance they may flee. Away
with you, away with you! Let the warrants be brought to ourself for
signature."

Sir Thomas Overbury bowed humbly, and withdrew; and the King, rising
from his seat, began to perambulate his closet, uttering many a
strange oath and exclamation, and walking with that shuffling gait
which he always assumed when suffering under any great agitation. To
see him, one would have supposed that the news he had just received
referred, at least, to the loss of a province, or a rebellion in his
kingdom, and not to the love of two persons, who sought nothing but
domestic peace.



                            CHAPTER XXIX.


Sir Thomas Overbury proceeded from the presence of the King, to give
those orders which were to make two happy hearts cold, two noble and
amiable beings wretched. Perhaps he felt some repugnance to the task,
some slight touch of remorse at an act which he could not reconcile to
his own conscience; for he had not been so seared and hardened in the
fire of worldly pursuits, as to be callous to the reproach of the
internal monitor.

Ambition, however, is a Moloch, which requires the sacrifice of the
sweetest children of the heart; and he went on to seek Lord Rochester,
thinking that he had swept a great obstacle from his path. How little
did he know--how little does man ever learn to know--that there is an
element always wanting in our calculations, one that we seldom think
of, and to which we never give weight enough--the will of God! That
which overrules the wise, conquers the mighty, frustrates the
persevering, and leaves human schemes and purposes but as bubbles
glittering in the sunshine, to break when they have had their hour.

He found Lord Rochester sitting in a rich dressing-gown of brocade,
with slippers on his feet, and a small purple cap upon his head,
partaking of a rich and luxurious breakfast, at an hour which was then
considered very late. Wine was before him; for the reader must
remember that those were days when the use of tea or coffee was
unknown; and the only difference between the refined man of pleasure
and the robust man of labour was, that the one seasoned his meal with
wine or mead, the other with ale or beer.

Of the potent contents of the flagon, the King's favourite had
partaken once or twice--not so deeply, indeed, as to have any effect
upon his understanding, but largely enough to give him a certain
feeling of decision and determination, which was in general wanting in
his character. There were matters which he had long wished to
communicate to Overbury; but in regard to which he had felt that sort
of timidity that a lad, lately emancipated from school, experiences in
the presence of his old preceptor; and now, feeling himself in the
mood to open his mind to his friend, he received him with greater
willingness and cordiality than he had displayed towards him for some
weeks.

"Well, Sir Thomas," he said, shaking his hand without rising, "have
you had breakfast? Come, sit down and take some."

"I broke my fast three hours ago," replied Overbury; "but I will sit
down and talk to you, my good Lord, while you go on with your meal,
for I have much to say to you."

"And I to you, Tom," rejoined the Peer; "I have hardly seen you for
this last week, and secrets accumulate, you know. First for your
business, however; for yours is always more important than mine;" and
he helped himself to another cup of wine.

"Mine is very important indeed," said Overbury; "I wish to speak to
you about the Lady Arabella."

"And I to you, too," interrupted Rochester; "that was the very subject
in my thoughts; and so perhaps I had better begin at once. As to that
marriage, Tom, we must hear no more of it."

Overbury started, and his brow contracted. "You are jesting,
Rochester!" he exclaimed. "Not hear any more of it?--Why not?"

"Faith, I am not jesting in the least," replied Lord Rochester; "and
as for the why not, I will tell you in a few words. I am going to
marry another woman; and this confounded English law does not permit
polygamy, you know."

"I have heard so," replied Sir Thomas Overbury, mastering his
indignation for the time; "but I am no great lawyer. We certainly see
a great deal of polygamy at the Court. May I ask who is the fair
object whom you intend to make Viscountess Rochester?"

The tone of indifference which he assumed delivered his friend from
the fear of opposition, and he replied at once, "My fair Countess of
Essex, good Knight."

"What, another man's wife!" exclaimed Overbury; "why that is polygamy
the wrong way. Nay, Rochester, now you are certainly jesting with me;
but I am not to be taken in."

"I am as serious as the dead," answered the favourite; "and let me
tell you, Overbury, she is not his wife, and very soon will be so no
longer even in name. The marriage is about to be dissolved, and then
her hand is mine. We have the consent and aid of Lord Northampton, the
fullest approbation and assistance of Lady Suffolk, and her father's
acquiescence. I will answer for the King's cordial co-operation. So
that the matter is settled and secured."

"Rochester! Rochester!" exclaimed Sir Thomas Overbury, giving way at
length to the feelings of his heart; "think, I beseech you; think what
you are about!"

"Oh, I have thought very well," replied the Viscount; "so there is no
use of saying a word about it, Tom."

"Nay, but you must hear me," said his friend, "and I do entreat you,
remember that I speak but from affection and devotion to yourself. I
say again, think, Rochester, what you are doing. Remember, this
woman's conduct is the common scandal of the Court and the City.
Recollect that she is but a ----" and he used a word which I dare not
write upon this page. "Her uncle and her mother are but panders to her
vices; and infamous must he become who dares to wed that woman, who
has without excuse broken through every sacred tie, and made herself
the impudent gazing-stock of Europe. I say, Rochester, think of the
disgrace, think of the shame that will fall upon you, when men point
to your wife, and tell her history. Remember how an act not half so
gross stained and degraded one of the noblest men that lived within
these seas,--I mean Charles Blount,--who raised himself by high and
daring actions against the enemy in the field, to the Earldom of
Devonshire; the conqueror of Tyrone, the pacificator of Ireland--I
say, recollect the disgrace that fell upon him, in consequence of a
marriage with the aunt of this very woman's husband, and do not forget
that in his case there were excuses that do not exist in yours. That
he was the lover of her youth, the man to whom her hand had been
promised, before she was compelled against her will to bestow it on
another; that she never from the first concealed her love towards him,
or promised aught but cold obedience to the man who was forced upon
her; and yet, from the hour that he so disgraced himself as to wed
Rich's divorced wife, he withered away, with shame, sorrow, and
despair, and died in his prime, leaving a blighted name, which, but
for that one act, would have lived for ever in renown. Oh, Rochester,
consider all this; consider the daily, hourly misery of knowing that
your wife is looked on as a harlot, when you might, were you so
minded, place yourself upon the topmost pinnacle of fortune, rise to
the highest rank that the state admits under royalty, and found a
family which might go on, and bear your name with honour to
posterity."

"I have considered all," answered Rochester, coldly; "and I am quite
determined. As to the marriage with the Lady Arabella, you are
deceiving yourself. I heard last night a whisper that she is already
married to William Seymour."

"Nonsense!" cried Overbury. "Your open love for this Dame of Essex may
have made her show some favour to another, but to pique you. But as to
her marriage, that is some idle report of the poor fools of the
ante-chamber. She is not married--she cannot be married."

"Pique me!" exclaimed Rochester, with a laugh; "that were vain sport,
Overbury; I am cased in proof. However, to marry another man would be
carrying the joke somewhat far; and she is married, depend upon it. It
is no court gossip; I had it from those who have sharp eyes, and
sharper ears. She is married to William Seymour, as sure as my name is
Rochester."

"Well, choose some one else, then," cried Sir Thomas; "choose any one
but this woman--choose anything but disgrace."

"But I do not see the disgrace," exclaimed Rochester, who had heard
him throughout with a heated cheek and contracted brow; "there is a
great difference between Lady Rich and Lady Frances Howard, whom they
call Lady Essex. I tell you, though some ceremony was performed in
their childhood, she is not his wife; and the pretended marriage may
be dissolved. Then, too, she has never loved any one but me; she has
never pretended to love this man; she abhors, she detests him; she has
always told him so. For me she is ready to sacrifice everything----"

"She has sacrificed too much already," answered Overbury. But seeing
by Rochester's angry look that he had gone much farther than was
politic, and that nothing he could say would change his resolution, he
added, after a moment's pause, "Well, Rochester, do me justice, and
remember that I have but spoken for your good, as I believe it to be.
I may be mistaken; probably am; but your happiness I wish sincerely."

"No man's happiness can be secured, but in his own way," replied
Rochester.

"True," rejoined Overbury; "but his fortunes may. To those, this sad
passion is the greatest bar; and you have yourself owned that, in
seeking them, I have always counselled you aright. It shall be my task
still, to do the best I can to promote them; and if this be, as I
imagine, a false step which you are about to take, nothing shall be
wanting on my part to avert all evil consequences."

"I dare say not," replied Rochester, drily; "and now to talk of some
more pleasant subject. What does the King propose for the day's
amusement?"

"A Privy Council," replied Overbury, forcing himself to speak in a
tone of raillery, which was but too evidently assumed; "and after that
to commit William Seymour to the Tower. Perhaps he may burn a heretic
in the afternoon by way of fireworks, and end by writing a
disquisition for the bishops upon the royal supremacy. You see the
bill of fare is various."

"Yes," answered Rochester, "but none of the dishes much to my taste.
But, good faith, I must get on my new suit of amber silk, and visit
his Majesty before the Council."

"Then I will leave you, my good Lord," replied Overbury, "and still
beg you to believe that anything I have said this day has been spoken
in duty, not in opposition; and so I take my leave."

From the apartments of Rochester he hurried back to his own; and then,
having closed the door, he gave himself up to the feelings of anger
and indignation which possessed him. He struck his hand upon his brow:
he walked vehemently up and down the room; he cursed the folly of
Rochester; he upbraided himself for taking any part in the rise of
such a man.

"And for this," he cried, "for this I have destroyed the peace,
and broken through the happiness of two good and noble people.
To be laughed at, to be made a fool of, to have my best schemes
thwarted--all for a base, licentious woman! And this sweet lady on
whom I have brought misery--can she be really married to William
Seymour? It is not improbable; the very conduct of this man may have
driven her on to give her hand clandestinely to another--and I have
gone and destroyed them! Would to God I had not been so hasty!" and he
sat down and meditated over the act with regret.

But the past--the irremediable past, the only one thing certain to
man's limited view, was set as a seal upon the deed, which nothing
could tear off; and yet he--as many other men would have done in his
circumstances--turned his thoughts to the retrieval of that which
could not be retrieved.

"What can be done?" he thought. "It may not yet be too late. If they
are prepared to fly, as the King suspected, and as is probably the
case, they may have time yet, if they have warning. I can delay the
warrants. Then the Council will have to assemble; there will be a long
and tiresome harangue of an hour--discussions, perhaps. The water is
near--the wind fair. She shall have warning at least;" and sitting
down, he wrote, in a feigned hand, the following few words to Arabella
Seymour.

"Lady, a friend gives you intimation that danger hangs over your head.
If you have the means to fly, and have aught that fears discovery in
this Court, go at once. You may count upon one hour, but not more."

He folded, sealed it, and hurried through the court towards the
apartments of the lady. Within a few steps of the door, he met one of
her inferior maids, not Ida Mara, apparently coming from her
mistress's room; and recognising her at once, he said, "Take this back
to your Lady directly, my good girl. I had it from a gentleman this
moment, who said that it was of urgent importance."

The girl took the billet, and saying that she would carry it to
Arabella at once, returned towards her mistresss chamber, while
Overbury bent his steps to the council-room, where he had left a young
clerk making out the warrants.

"Well, are they done?" said the Knight.

"One is ready, sir," replied the clerk, "and the other wants but a few
words."

Overbury took up the paper which was completed, and read it slowly
through.

"Good Heaven!" he exclaimed. "This will never do. Why, it is a warrant
against the Lady Arabella, as if she were a common felon. Recollect,
sir, that she is the King's cousin. It ought to have been a simple
summons to appear before the Council."

"You said two warrants, Sir Thomas," replied the clerk.

"Well, at all events," exclaimed the Knight, sharply, "this will not
do;" and he tore the paper, throwing the fragments under the table.
"There, leave that, leave that! and make out a summons. The Lady
Arabella's case is the most important. Remember you give her her
proper style, sir."

"I am sure I do not know what that is," answered the clerk.

"If you look in that book, sir, you will find it," rejoined the
Knight; "it is not very difficult to discover. You can finish the
warrant against Mr. Seymour afterwards; I will return for the summons
in half an hour;" and away he went to inform the King that there had
been a mistake in drawing out the papers, but that they would be ready
shortly.

He found James I. still in a high state of perturbation, which was
increased by the tidings that the warrants were not yet ready.

"The de'ils in the clerks!" he exclaimed. "The lazy loons are getting
daily more slow, though not more circumspect. Why, the lassie may take
wing, and be away afore the warrants are ready. Go your ways and
hasten him, Sir Thomas. You can write a good hand yourself, and need
not mind holding a pen at the King's command."

"I shall do so, as in duty bound, sire," replied Overbury, "and I can
make out that against Mr. Seymour, while the clerk finishes the one
against the Lady Arabella;" and he accordingly retired, mentally
resolving that the assistance which he was about to lend should not
greatly accelerate the drawing up of the papers.

When he was gone, the King continued for a minute or two to move about
in his cabinet, with the sort of irritable activity which has acquired
the name of fidgetting. Changing the place of this article and that,
pulling the points of his hose, buttoning and unbuttoning his
pourpoint, sitting down and then rising up, and displaying many signs
and symptoms of that state of ennui in which impatience is blended
with listlessness.

At the end of that time, however, there was a gentle tap at the door
of the cabinet, and, exclaiming pettishly, "Come in, come in!" the
King fixed his eyes upon the entrance, at which immediately appeared
the stout, raw-boned person, and broad, but somewhat coarse face, of
one of his Scotch attendants.

"Ah, Maxwell!" cried James, "why, where ha'e you been, man? I thought
all the world had forgotten their loyalty, and left their King,
without respect and decency. Here was Rochester came in and whiffled
me a jest, and out again, to put on a ruby he had forgotten. So he
said; but methinks it was to other purpose that he went; and no one
has been here but Sir Thomas Overbury, who seems to be the only man
that thinks his King's service worth attending to."

The querulous tone in which James spoke, indicated a mood ready to
receive evil impressions of any one; and as Maxwell was not
particularly well-inclined, any more than other courtiers, to make
favourable reports of his rivals in the King's power, he seized the
opportunity to damage the reputation of one who was rising too high
over the heads of the minor aspirants to escape jealousy.

"Oh, your Majesty has not a more faithful servant, I am sure, than Sir
Thomas Overbury," he said; "he is only a little dull in believing that
others will rebel against your will, or thwart your sagacious views.
Your Majesty recollects the business about Mr. Seymour and the Lady
Arabella."

"Hout tout! Maxwell," cried the King, interrupting him before he could
go further; "you're a jealous beast. But you've missed your fire, my
man. Your match has burnt out, and will not light the powder. Why,
Overbury has, this very morning, laid open to me all their doings; and
is now drawing up the warrants for their arrest."

"The warrants will take a long time drawing, then, your Majesty,"
replied Maxwell. "If I were a king, or you, sire, a poor Scotch
gentleman like myself, I'd bet you a stoup of wine that there will be
one mistake or another about drawing up the warrants, till a full hour
be lost; and then the messengers may whistle for the lady or her
lover."

"Ha, what's that?--what's that?" cried the King. "Why, there has been
one mistake already.--You're either a warlock, Maxwell, or you know
more about the affair than you tell. Speak plain, man! speak plain!
What have you seen?--what have you heard?"

"Why, if your Majesty really wishes to know," replied Maxwell, "and
will condescend to promise not to tell my Lord of Rochester, I will
relate all that has just happened; and you will soon see how faithful
a servant is this Sir Thomas Overbury, who must needs contradict what
I told you, sire, of Mr. Seymour and the Lady Arabella meeting in the
grounds at Theobalds."

"Speak, man, speak!" cried the King, "I'll keep counsel as close as a
wilk. You have our commands, sir; so you will be harmless."

"Well, then, sire, just now as I was walking along the
cloister----" answered Maxwell.

"Call it the arcade," said the King; "cloister is a popish word."

"Well, sire, as I was walking along the arcade," continued Maxwell, "I
saw a maid belonging to the Lady Arabella, carrying a note in her
hand. Now, I had just passed good Sir Thomas Overbury; and a fancy
struck me, I do not know why, that all was not right;--for all the
Court, you know, say he is playing double with your Majesty. So I
asked the girl to let me see the note; and, after much ado, I got her
to consent. Well, there, sire, I saw Sir Thomas's own writing,
somewhat twisted and turned to disguise it, but clear enough for all
that; and, in the inside, was written a warning to the lady to fly
from the Court with all speed. He engaged she should have an hour
clear; and therefore it was I said there would be mistakes enough, and
delays enough, before the warrants are ready."

"The false loon," cried the King, "the whelp of a traitor!--But we'll
circumvent him. Run, Maxwell, run! Put a guard at the foot of each
staircase that leads from her rooms and the Lady Shrewsbury's.--Fegs!
they might have put out the '_bury_,' and left the '_Shrew_.'--Tell
the guard to let no one pass out.--Run, man! run!--Speak not, but
away!"

Maxwell obeyed the King's command, and hurried out of the cabinet; and
James, casting himself into a chair, gave way to a fit of laughter, in
the first place, at the thought of having circumvented Overbury. He
soon returned, however, to the thought of the Knight's offences; and
he rolled himself about, with much of that awkward air of indignation
which the accounts of African travellers ascribe to the angry
hippopotamus.

"The deceitful pagan!" he cried; "the treacherous dog! I'll punish him
for forgetting his duty to God's anointed.--But softly, softly! He has
too many secrets. We will deal gently with him.--Those cunning Romans,
when they were about to punish a great malefactor, took him up to a
high place, before they hurled him headlong down, that he might break
his neck by the fall; which is a wise and good example to modern
Kings, who may make such men's ambition the Tarpeian rock, from the
highest point of which, they may get a fall when they least look for
it."



                             CHAPTER XXX.


With a pale face, and trembling limbs, Arabella entered the apartments
of the Countess of Shrewsbury, and, unable to speak, in her alarm she
laid Sir Thomas Overbury's note upon a small round table before her,
and pointed to it with her finger.

"What is the matter, child?" asked the Countess, taking it up.

The moment she saw the contents, however, she became agitated.

"Good faith!" she cried, "this is wise advice, Arabella; you had
better take it. Who brought this note?"

"One of my girls," faltered Arabella.

"Well, well," said Lady Shrewsbury, "a morning's sail upon the Thames
will do you no harm; and no one can say you have not a right to amuse
yourself with a water-party for an hour or two. Quick, girl; do not
tremble, but get some few clothes together. Let your gentlewoman go
down to the stairs with them. You and I will follow; and a barge in
two or three hours will carry you to your husband's ship."

"But Seymour--Seymour!" cried Arabella; "I fear more for him than for
myself."

"Leave that to me!" answered the Countess. "I will send off a
messenger instantly to warn him.--You get ready,--quick!"

In a few minutes Lady Shrewsbury joined her niece in her own room. Ida
Mara, with one small box in her hand, was already at the door when the
Countess entered.

"Where are the two maids, Ida?" asked Lady Shrewsbury.

"In the waiting-room, madam," replied Ida Mara.

"And the door shut?" said the Countess. "Quick, then, go down; and we
will follow you in two minutes."

Without reply, the girl quitted the chamber; and Lady Shrewsbury,
turning to her niece, kissed her cheek, whispering, "Take courage,
take courage, Arabel. I trust all will go well. 'Tis but a little
hurry."

The next instant, however, Ida Mara returned, with a pale cheek, and
the tears in her eyes.

"There is a guard at the foot of the stairs," she said, "who would not
let me pass. He has orders, he told me, to stop every one, and turn
them back."

Arabella sank into a seat, and covered her eyes with her hands, while
the Countess gazed down stedfastly upon the ground, in deep thought.
At length she exclaimed,--

"Call the girl hither, Ida, who came in a few minutes ago."

The fair Italian obeyed at once, and in a moment or two a
pretty-looking maid, somewhat vain and coquettish in her dress and
appearance, presented herself before the Countess.

"Now, answer me truly, girl," said Lady Shrewsbury. "To whom did you
show the note that was given to you a few minutes ago for your
mistress?"

The girl's cheek turned crimson, and she was silent.

"Answer me," exclaimed the Countess, sternly; "answer me. Your face
betrays you!"

The girl burst into tears. "He took it out of my hand," she said. "I
stopped a minute to speak with him; and he took it out of my hand."

"What is his name?" demanded the Countess, in the same tone.

"Maxwell," faltered the girl.

"From whom did you receive the note?" asked the Countess.

"From Sir Thomas Overbury," was the reply.

"Get thee gone, trait'ress," cried Lady Shrewsbury; "get thee gone!
and pray to God to pardon thee, for thou hast done much evil. Now,
Arabel," she continued, "take off your walking-dress, as I will mine,
and let us consider how we must act. You will soon be summoned before
the Council, be you sure. I will go with you, as is befitting. Were I
you, I would not deny the marriage; but, if they charge you with it as
a crime, be bold, dear girl, refuse to plead before any such tribunal.
Say, if you have offended, you have a right to public trial by your
country, and boldly declare that the laws of the land do not justify a
King in punishing, without the sentence of a jury."

"It will but make him furious," replied Arabella.

As she spoke, the door opened unceremoniously, and a keeper of the
council-chamber appeared.

"Madam," he said; but no sooner had he uttered the word, than he broke
off, and, turning to some one who was behind him, exclaimed, "You need
not go on, the Countess is here."

"Well, sir," said Lady Shrewsbury, "what now?"

"I am sent, madam," replied the keeper, "to summon you and the Lady
Arabella to appear before his Majesty in council, which I do by virtue
of these presents, under his Majesty's hand."

"Well--on, then! we are quite ready to accompany you," answered the
Countess, unmoved. "Come, Arabella, put on something to guard you from
the wind, as we have to go all along these courts and passages. His
Majesty, I presume, does not intend to make privy councillors of us;
if he did, I might give him some good advice. Give me that mantle,
Ida. Now, sweet niece, put your arm through mine. You are a timid
creature; and it is well that you should have something stronger
beside you."

Thus saying, she led the way to the royal apartments, followed by the
officers who had been sent to summon them.

In the ante-room of the council-room, however, they were detained;
and, at the end of a few minutes, Arabella was called in alone. During
nearly half an hour, Lady Shrewsbury remained alone; and when, at the
end of that time, the door opened, and Arabella came out, with her
fair face deluged in tears, the door-keeper pronounced aloud, "The
Countess of Shrewsbury!" That lady, however, paused to speak for a
moment to her niece.

"I have acknowledged all," said Arabella, sobbing, "and am ordered
back to my own chamber, and thence into custody of some persons to be
appointed by the King."

"The Countess of Shrewsbury!" exclaimed the doorkeeper again, and,
kissing her niece's cheek, Lady Shrewsbury advanced, and presented
herself at the end of the council-table.

There was a very full attendance at the board, and every countenance
was grave, and even sad, while that of the King was stern and heated.
Sitting on one side of his chair, he leaned over to the other, lolling
his tongue out of his mouth, as he was much accustomed to do when
excited.

"Now, madam," he said; "now, madam, answer my questions. Soul of my
body! we shall have nothing but rebellion in the land. Answer my
questions, I say."

"Anything that your Majesty asks in reason," replied the Countess, "I
am willing to answer."

"Well, then," said the King, "tell me, have you been conniving at the
marriage of your niece, a lady of the Blood Royal, with one William
Seymour, the second son of a pitiful family?"

"As good as your own, sire," replied Lady Shrewsbury, calmly, "only
not quite the head of the house."

"Heard ever man the like of that?" exclaimed the King. "As I am a
crowned King, I will commit her to the Tower."

"For telling the truth, sire?" asked Lady Shrewsbury; "that is a new
offence; I have not seen the proclamation to that effect."

"Madam, madam," said Lord Salisbury, "be careful what you do. Think
what a thing it is to incense his Majesty, who in a moment can commit
you, if you show him a contempt."

"If I show any contempt of a legally appointed court," replied the
Countess, "I know in what danger I stand, my Lord; but his Majesty
himself told me to answer his questions, and then asked if I had
connived at the marriage of my niece with the second son of a pitiful
family? I reply, No; the family into which she has married is as good
as his own, being descended from a long line of English nobles, and a
Princess of that blood, which alone gives him a title to the throne."

"Then you acknowledge conniving at the marriage?" said the Earl,
quickly, in order to stop the vehement and probably indecent torrent
that was hanging upon the King's lips.

"I acknowledge nothing, sir," replied the Countess. "That my niece may
be married to Mr. Seymour, I do not deny; but I am to learn if that be
a crime in her."

"We will soon teach you that it is a crime, woman!" exclaimed the
King. "Did you, or did you not connive at it, I say?"

"I will decline to answer that question," answered the Countess.

"Take care, Lady," said Lord Ellesmere, the Chancellor. "To refuse,
unreasonably, to answer interrogatories of the Privy Council, is a
contempt."

"I do not refuse unreasonably, my Lord Chancellor," replied the
Countess. "I have strong reasons for not answering."

"Speak them, speak them," said the King; "there can be no just reason
for not answering the King in Council."

"I have two reasons," replied the Countess, with a look of scorn;
"both of which are good and valid in the English law, whatever they
may be in Scotland. First, that being told by his Majesty the marriage
of my niece is a crime, I am then asked whether I connived at it. Now
the common law of England requires no man to criminate himself."

"Hout, tout," cried the King, "away with her and her common law. How
should we ever have got to the bottom of the frightful and diabolical
Papist plot, if the prisoners had not criminated themselves?"

"More fools they," replied the Countess of Shrewsbury. "But next I
have to say, that I will answer no questions in private. If I am
accused of a public crime, I will have a public trial, where my guilt
or innocence may appear. There I will answer all questions, and
perhaps tell more than those who sit in high places may like to hear.
I claim a public trial, I say. I appeal to my country, and claim my
privilege as a peeress, to plead my cause before my equals in an open
court. I will have no private interrogatories, which are but tricks
and entanglements unknown to the law of England."

"Lady, lady," cried one of the Councillors, "you are very rash. It is
a well-established principle, that a refusal to answer questions
before the Privy Council, touching matters wherein the interest of the
state is concerned, is a contempt of the King's prerogative."

"Show me a case," exclaimed the Countess. "You say it is well
established--produce an instance where it has been so adjudged; then
do with me as you will."

"If there be not a precedent," cried the King, while the Lord
Chancellor spoke to some of the Councillors near him, "if there be not
a precedent, it is high time we should make one; and you shall be the
first, my bonnie Dame."

"If your Majesty be fond of making precedents," said the Countess,
still undismayed, "I hope your successors may be found to reverse
them; for the dearest inheritance of an Englishman is the equal
protection of the law; and I would lose lands and honours, rather than
give up that right to any monarch that ever sat upon a throne."

"It is the opinion, sire, of all the Councillors here present," said
Lord Ellesmere, "that to refuse to answer is a distinct contempt of
your royal prerogative; and although your Majesty, in your sense of
clemency and justice, may be inclined to refer the question to the
Judges for their decision, yet in the meantime it is perfectly
competent for the Council to commit the lady, for safe custody, to the
Tower till such decision be pronounced."

"Will you answer, Lady?" asked the King; "once more I ask you, will
you answer, that you may not have occasion to accuse our royal mercy?"

"I will not, sir," answered Lady Shrewsbury. "Your Majesty's mercy
will stand upon its own foundation, and God grant it has a good one."

"Then commit her," exclaimed James, addressing the Clerk of the
Council; "draw out the warrant, sir!"

"And mark, Master Secretary," said Lady Shrewsbury, "let it be put
down on the record of this day that I claim my privilege of Peerage,
demanding open trial if I be culpable; and that, professing myself
willing to answer all lawful questions in a public court, I decline to
reply to secret interrogatories, unaided by any counsel or advice. And
now God be my defence!"

"Away with her, away with her!" cried the King. "Take her away in safe
custody to her own chamber, till the warrant is ready. Let her have
time to prepare what is needful, and then send her with a guard to the
Tower. We have not often been so bearded in our Council, and 'tis fit
that she should be made an example."

"Many such examples would do the Court some service," replied the
lady; "and with that I humbly take my leave of your Majesty."[7]


----------

[Footnote 7: The Countess was deceived in her expectations; for the
Judges confirmed the dictum, that a refusal to answer questions
proposed by the Privy Council in affairs of state is a contempt of the
King's prerogative. The best authority upon the law of evidence that
we possess, Mr. S. M. Phillips, does not even except cases in which
the person by his answer might criminate himself; although it is
remarked, in his notes upon the State Trials, that in such a case the
council would, probably, in the present day, allow the general
principle of the law to maintain, that no person is compellable to
criminate himself, or supply any information which would have that
tendency. I need hardly tell the reader that the accounts of this
celebrated scene vary in many particulars; but all agree that the
Countess refused to answer in private, appealing to a public court.]

----------


Thus saying, she withdrew, escorted to her own apartment by two of the
ushers, who treated her with all respect, but stationed themselves at
the door till a formal order for her removal to the Tower arrived.



                            CHAPTER XXXI.


There is something very curious in the great difference of feeling
with which we contemplate scenes of sorrow and those of vice. It might
be naturally supposed, that in the grief of the good, the wise, and
the noble, we should find matter only for sympathy and regret--that
pain alone would be elicited in beholding it, and that their anguish
would communicate nothing but a share of their suffering to ourselves;
while the contempt that we feel for vice, by depriving us of all
feeling for the vicious, would leave us sorrowless, though abhorrent
of their faults.

Such is not the case, however; and to hear tales of the great and
generous touched by the hand of undeserved adversity, excites, as is
the case in deep tragedy, a certain degree of strange and almost
unaccountable pleasure, even while we grieve for their fate, and take
part in their sufferings. It is, perhaps, in some degree, that
sympathy is in itself a pleasurable emotion; but I do believe that a
great part of that which gives sweetness to the tears which we shed
over the history of the afflicted good, is the inherent conviction in
the mind of man, that there is a state of being, yet to come, where
all shall have its compensation,--where woes undeserved, and unmerited
pangs, received with resignation and borne with fortitude, shall be
repaid by infinite joy and eternal happiness.

On the contrary, when we gaze upon the progress of the vicious and the
criminal, however successful and prosperous in their brief space of
action, to contempt and indignation, to disgust and horror, are added
the same consciousness of a hereafter, and the certainty of an awful
retribution. Thus, in these instances, all our feelings are dark and
sad; there is nothing to alleviate; there is nothing to give light.

Nevertheless we must turn for a short space to the more criminal
personages of our tale, and trace them in that rapid down-hill road
where vice treads upon the steps of vice, and iniquity upon iniquity,
till they are hurried on into the yawning gulf of destruction and
despair.

It was in a splendid room, at the princely mansion then called
Northampton House, but which has since assumed the name of other
possessors, of a purer fame than his who built it, that the Countess
of Essex, who had left the Court at Greenwich the day before, sat
alone with Lord Rochester--her relation, the Earl of Northampton,
being then absent. Her face was all smiles and happiness. It seemed as
if fortune and success lived in her eyes; and she was laughing gaily,
with her weak and criminal lover, over the misfortunes of others more
virtuous than herself.

"And so," she said, "he wanted thee to wed this moon-sick girl, and, I
dare say, would have made thee a sonnetteer to match her."

"Faith, he must have written the sonnets himself, then," answered
Rochester; "for, I thank my stars, I never could jingle two rhymes
together in my life; and, to say truth, I hate the whole race of these
beggarly poets and authors. I have never liked Francis Bacon since he
wrote a book."

"I never liked him at all," replied the Countess, "and that would
certainly not make me like him more. One never knows how soon one may
be put into one of these volumes, which is what makes all great
statesmen hold aloof from authors, and keep them down."

"They are not all wise enough to do so," answered Rochester; "but
Salisbury himself is beginning to see the folly of giving him any
encouragement, though he be such a friend of Sir John Harrington's. I
was telling him, the other day, what a fool I thought Bacon for
degrading himself by composing that book; and he replied, that it was
well to be able to write it, but foolish to write it."

"But poems are even worse than that," said the Countess. "I dare say
this friend of thine is a poet, if one knew the truth."

"No, I think not," replied Rochester; "with all his faults, he has not
that vice."

"Well, and what did you say to him?" continued the Countess, bringing
the conversation back to a subject on which her curiosity was
excited--"What did you say when he pressed you so vehemently to this
fine alliance?"

"I said I would none of it," answered Rochester; "for the best of all
reasons, because I was going to marry you."

"Did you tell him so?" asked the Countess, eagerly.

"Yes, sweet one," replied her lover; "I wished him to know it. 'Tis
too fair a fortune, my love, to be concealed."

"Now," cried the Countess, "I will wager this diamond against a flint
stone that he strove to dissuade you. Was it not so, Rochester?"

"Yes, good sooth," answered her lover, laughing.

"Ay, but eagerly," said the Countess,--"vehemently?"

"Even so," rejoined Rochester; "but he might have spared his
eloquence, my fair Frances; for he moved me no more than a gust of
wind."

"Nay, but what did he say?" demanded Lady Essex.

"Oh, that matters not," answered the favourite; "a great deal I have
forgotten."

"But I will hear," exclaimed his mistress. "I will never love you
more, Rochester, if you do not tell me. Now, do not smile and look
deceitful; for I will hear, word for word, all that he said."

"Nay, nay," cried Rochester, "that is hardly fair. What two men will
say to one another often bears no repeating."

"The man that cannot confide in me, does not love me," rejoined the
Countess, withdrawing her hand, and moving further from him.

"Well, but you know I love you," answered Rochester.

"Then prove it, by telling me what he said," cried the Countess. "If
you do not, I shall think you are false and forsworn, and are inclined
to follow his counsel and marry some one else.--Yes, yes, I see it
very well.--He has succeeded with thee, Rochester, and thou art
inclined to seek another bride.--Well, it matters not; I should soon
learn to forget the man who would not trust me."

"Nonsense, nonsense, sweet girl!" he replied; "you are jealous without
cause. I am all your own--your slave--your captive."

"Then tell me what he said," exclaimed the Countess, suffering a
portion of her natural vehemence to appear, even to him.

"But you will be angry," rejoined Rochester. "Why should I tell you
what will only pain, grieve, and offend you, and which had no more
effect upon me than the idle wind?"

"Because I wish to know," she exclaimed. "Because I must know, if I am
to have peace or rest. I will not be angry; and I will try to be as
little grieved as possible; for if I find men speak ill of me, and
bark at me with their foul tongue, I will recollect that it is all for
Rochester, and that shall be my consolation."

"Well, then," said Rochester, "if you will not be angry, he did oppose
my marriage with you in vehement and rough terms,"--and her lover went
on weakly to tell her almost all that his friend had said.

He strove to soften it, 'tis true--to put it in general terms, and to
conceal the harsh epithets that Overbury had used; but the Countess
would hear all, and with instant perception discovered whenever he
tried to deceive her in a word. She kept her temper, too, to the end,
sometimes urging him playfully, and affecting to laugh at the rude
terms which Overbury had used towards her--sometimes pressing him
gravely to deal fairly by her, and to speak the truth--sometimes
suggesting the words herself in a gay tone, as if she were sure that
those were the epithets he had given her, and cared little for them.
But when the whole story was told, her fierce indignation burst forth.

"The villain!" she exclaimed--"the base villain! Can you consider this
man as your friend, Rochester, after such words as those to your
affianced wife? Can you believe that he sought to serve you? Can you
suppose that anything but his own interest injured, and his schemes
for his own benefit defeated, could have induced him to speak thus of
a lady whom you love?--No, no, the man betrays himself!--It is evident
that he spoke with the rage of disappointment. It was for his own
advancement that he sought to marry you to the Lady Arabella, not for
your benefit. If it had been merely out of regard for you, would he
have thus abused her who has sacrificed all for you? If he really
loved you, would he have thus condemned her love? For whom have I made
myself all that he calls me?--for whom have I risked everything,
resigned everything? Did I ever give a thought to any other man on
earth? With all his hatred and malice, he dare not say that; and had
he possessed towards you one particle of true attachment, he would
have learned to estimate that, which flings every other consideration
but its love away,"--and, bursting into tears, she cast herself,
sobbing passionately, upon Rochester's bosom.

He had gazed at her with admiration, not unmixed with wonder, as he
beheld her lustrous eyes flashing, and all her beautiful features
lighted up with indignation; and when the shower followed the thunder,
he held her tenderly to his heart, and tried to soothe her with words
of love and promises of everlasting affection.

"No, Rochester, no!" she cried, at length, raising herself, and wiping
away the drops from her cheeks; "it is not for myself I care. Of me he
may say what he likes, but he must not deceive and betray you any
longer. He seeks but to make a tool of you for his own advancement;
and to it he will not fail to sacrifice you as soon as the opportunity
occurs. Your fortune and high favour, your noble qualities and
distinction, have, as they always do, created many enemies, all eager
to pull you down; and, in such circumstances, it needs but a faithless
friend to bring about a man's destruction."

"I do not think he would betray me," replied Rochester.

"Not, perhaps, exactly betray you," replied the Countess, "for
traitors are always despised even by those they serve; and he is too
cunning for that. But, step by step, he will undermine you with the
King, if he be not removed. He will first begin by opposing our
marriage----"

"If he do that, I will cut his throat," cried Rochester.

"Perhaps he will not do so openly," continued the Countess, "but he
will speak of me to James as he has to you, and will beseech him all
the time not to betray his words. He will teach the King to think you
weak, foolish, and intemperate, because you persevere in loving one
who has devoted herself to you. Let this Overbury,--let him, if he
can, or if he dare, make such sacrifices for you as I have made;
and then I will believe he is your friend. As it is, he must be
removed.--Yes, if you love me, if you would wed me, if you would be
safe yourself, if you would consult my peace, he must be removed."

"Not slain," said Rochester, in a low tone, "not slain--that I cannot
consent to."

"Nay," answered the Countess, with one of her bright and beaming
smiles again, at seeing that his apprehension of her meaning had so
far outrun the reality, that any minor act of vengeance or precaution
would seem moderate, "I meant not to slay him. You men are so vehement
and violent in all your passions, that the death of your adversary is
the only thing you think of. I am not so bloodthirsty, nor do I speak
from anger, Rochester. I could pardon him all that he has said of me,
did it not show me that he is dangerous to you, and that, if he be not
removed, his presence near the King will be the great stumbling-block
which will throw down our hopes and wishes. He must be sent to the
Tower, or into banishment."

"But there must be some pretext," said Rochester. "He cannot be
punished without a cause."

"Oh! fear not," cried the Countess; "a reason will not be wanting.
Shrewd must that man be, and virtuous beyond this earth, who, in the
courts of kings, can walk so scrupulously as not to give, each day,
pretexts for accusation. The wise and the good have fallen beneath the
axe, and the best that ever lived was crucified; there is no fear that
fair Sir Thomas Overbury has not abundance of such vices in his
composition as may well move a monarch's indignation, with a good word
to help."

"No," said Rochester, who had been thinking deeply, and was not yet
brought fully to that utter shamelessness at which his partner in evil
had arrived--"No, a means may be devised for attaining our object,
without bringing on my own head the charge of ingratitude. Let us give
him the embassy to some foreign court, where he may wear out his days
in peace and honour, neither obstructing our views, nor lost
altogether to his own."

"But I will not have him sent," exclaimed the Countess, "to some high
and honourable mission, which the best nobles of the land might strive
for. I will not have him so honoured, that men may say, 'See, what is
the reward of calumniating Frances Howard; the man who called her
harlot to her promised husband, makes that husband's favour the
stepping-stone to his own advancement. Lo! he is ambassador to France,
or to the great Spaniards, and goes to carry the tales of her love
for Rochester to the gay Court of France, or the graver one of
Spain.'--Stay, Rochester, you shall send him to Russia! Let him freeze
amongst the Muscovites, since his cold blood can never comprehend the
fire that burns in ours."

"He will refuse to go," said Rochester; "'tis but another name for
banishment."

"Let him refuse!" exclaimed Lady Essex; "and send him to the Tower.
The King will be ready enough so to deal with one who rejects his
offers.--Nay, Rochester, I will have it so," she continued, in a
caressing tone. "You must not refuse me, if you love me. I vow you
shall not see me more unless you consent. This shall be the price of
our next interview. I might well ask you, as a gallant knight and
true, to put that man to death who spoke against your lady's name; but
I forbear, you see; and in this you must obey my behest. Offer him
Russia. If he refuses, the offence is to the King, not to you, and
leave the King to deal with him. But be sure, unless he be far removed
from the English Court, he will so machinate as to separate you and
me, as he has parted those two unhappy lovers."

"It was, in truth, all his doing, I find," answered Rochester. "He
never left the affair alone, till he had discovered their marriage;
and he then incensed the King, against them."

"And they are really married?" said the Countess, in a tenderer tone
than she had used; "then they are happy; for though they may be
separate, they can yet think that there is that sweet bond between
them which no King's word can break.--That is a blessing that nothing
can take from them. Do you not hate the man who could step in, and
blast their happiness, Rochester?"

"I certainly do not love him for so doing," replied the Viscount, "and
thank him but little for mingling my name in the affair."

"As he has done by them, so will he do by you and me," said Lady
Essex, in a grave and sad tone, "unless you stop him, Rochester. We
stand in his way; our marriage is the obstacle to his ambitious views;
he will not cease till he has frustrated our hopes, or ruined us both.
There can be no terms with such an enemy; and till I hear that he is
gone, I shall never see you without apprehension."

"Well," answered Rochester; "well, it shall be done. I will ask the
King for the embassy to Russia on his behalf. I know he aims at much
higher things, indeed; and nothing less than a seat in the Council,
with some high office in the state or household, would satisfy his
ambition. But he shall be offered this embassy. If he refuse it, the
consequences be on his own head.

"What! then you do see he is ambitious?" cried the Countess. "I
wronged my Rochester's good judgment. I thought he had deceived you,
and that you did not perceive the tool that he would make of you."

"Oh, I have known his ambition long," replied Rochester, "and was
prepared to give it a check in due time. Perhaps as well now as
hereafter."

"Better, better far," replied the Countess. "Those who defend a
breach, fire on the men who begin to climb the ladder, lest when they
are at the top it be too late. Away then, Rochester, away! see that
thing done; and, when you can tell me that the embassy is offered him,
you may come back, and shall have smiles for your reward."

After those words they parted, Rochester hurrying to take that new
step in the wrong course which was to carry him forward to many
others; and the Countess of Essex remaining to brood over her hatred
and vengeance, till she worked herself into regret that she had not
exacted more of her weak and guilty paramour.



                            CHAPTER XXXII.


In the times of our Sovereign Lord, His Sacred Majesty King James I.,
of happy memory, that peculiar district of the world called Lambeth
was in a very different state and condition from that in which it is
beheld now-a-days. It was not then a close, thronged, noisy, and
somewhat turbulent parish, a borough in itself, sending members to
Parliament, and having vast objections to church-rates; but it was
actually almost a rural district, with an Archbishop's palace and
church, a few houses gathered in the episcopal neighbourhood, and
several fine old mansions, with their gardens extending down to the
water, occupying the whole bank of the river opposite to Westminster
and the Strand. Where now stand patent shot manufactories, and wharfs
and warehouses, were then smooth, green, shaven lawns, and tall trees,
and wildernesses, and terraces,--and the aspect of the whole place, as
far as the different style of architecture and gardening would permit,
was much more like Richmond, without its hill, than the famous borough
of Lambeth.

One of these houses, at a considerable distance from the archbishop's
palace, was remarkable for its beautiful gardens, and for its broad
terrace, edging the river, and overhung by tall trees. A flint wall,
with a lane on one side, and the grounds of another house on the
other, surrounded these gardens and shut them out from the vulgar,
leaving them only open to the view of those who passed upon the water,
on which side it was not more than three feet high. To the river,
there was a private stair for boats to land visitors; defended,
however, from intrusion by an iron gate as high as the terrace-wall;
and possessing a large bell, which, from time to time, gave notice of
applications for admission.

About five o'clock in the evening of a day towards the end of
September, a wherry, rowed by a single man, and containing no freight
but himself, glided close under the embankment of the terrace, it
being then high water; and there the rower paused for a moment or two
on his oars, looking into the grounds above, as if very much admiring
their trim propriety. After that short pause he rowed on again, and
his inquisitiveness passed unnoticed by any one, as the gardens were
vacant.

In about a quarter of an hour, however, the same boat and the same man
re-appeared; but this time he did not pause, for there were three
persons upon the terrace; a young lady of graceful and noble mien,
walking a step in advance; an elderly, stately dame, talking to her at
her shoulder; and a fair girl, with large bright eyes, and dark black
hair, dressed in the simple, but lady-like apparel, which, in those
days of splendid costume, generally denoted the waiting gentlewoman,
coming a pace or two behind, with an air of sadness, and her look bent
down upon the ground.

The rower, as we have said, pulled on; and about ten minutes after he
was gone, the young lady whom we have mentioned turned towards the
house, saying, "I shall go in, madam. Dear Ida," she continued, "you
can stay if you like; for you have been kept in all the morning and
want air."

"Not if I can help' you, dear Lady," replied Ida Mara, "or sing to
you, or amuse you. The best air I can have is your own looks, when you
are happy."

"That cannot be now," replied the Lady Arabella; "but I am going to
write to the King; so that I shall not want you for the next hour."

The girl bent her head, and remained upon the terrace; and the two
ladies returned through the trees to the house.

Ida Mara took one or two turns, pausing from time to time to gaze upon
the different boats, which, with sails or oars, as the wind favoured
them, skimmed fast over the shining surface of the water. In a minute
or two, the wherry we have mentioned cut across from the stairs at
Westminster, and passed close under the terrace, the man who was in it
raising his head as far as possible, and examining the fair Italian
with apparently curious eyes.

He went on some hundred yards beyond the garden wall, but then turned,
and suffered his boat to drop slowly down, the tide just beginning to
ebb, till it came opposite the centre of the gardens, where he
stopped, turning the head of the boat to the stream, and, like a trout
at the tail of a ripple, keeping himself from being carried further on
by a scarcely perceptible stroke of the oars.

In a minute after, Ida passed the spot in her walk; and the boatman
exclaimed, "Hist! hist!"

She started, and looked down upon him; but he was a man of middle age,
with his hair somewhat grey; and though he was dressed as a common
waterman, there was something distinguished in his appearance which
belied his apparel.

"What are your wishes, sir?' said Ida Mara, approaching the edge of
the terrace.

"Is this Sir Alexander Marchmont's house?" asked the man.

"No," replied Ida Mara; "it is Sir Thomas Parry's."

"Then this is where the Lady Arabella Stuart is confined," rejoined
the waterman.

"The Lady Arabella Seymour is here," replied Ida Mara. "Not exactly as
a prisoner, though by the King's order."

"You have a foreign accent," said the man; "methinks it sounds like
Italian."

"It may well do so," replied the girl; and was about to turn away; but
the rower asked immediately, "Is your name Ida Mara?"

She started, and replied "Yes; who are you?"

"A most unfortunate man," he answered; "but one devoted to your Lady,
who has never forgot an act of generosity by which she saved his life.
Tell her I have seen her husband, in the Tower, that he is well, and
as happy as he can be, absent from her. Add that he is under scarce
any restraint, can even go out within certain limits; and that I have
promised him to bring her a letter from him tomorrow, if she will be
here at his hour."

"Stay, stay," said Ida; "I will go tell the lady, if you will wait but
a moment."

"Nay, I will return in a quarter of an hour," replied the man. "I may
be discovered if I stay too long."

"What name shall I give the Lady Arabella," asked Ida Mara, "in case
she should wish to trust you with a billet?"

The man paused and seemed to hesitate, but then replied, "My name is
Markham, once Sir Griffin Markham. But tell her I have no schemes or
conspiracies on foot. I have done with those things for ever, and only
wish to serve her, and show her my gratitude before I die."

In about ten minutes after, Ida Mara was again walking on the terrace;
and before long, the boat once more shot over from the other side.

"Here is a note," she said; "here is a note. The lady gives you her
best thanks. Will you be back to-morrow?"

"I will," replied the man, bringing his boat as close up to the
terrace as he could. "Now, throw it over."

Ida, with a slight wave of her hand, tossed the note into the wherry;
and Markham then said, "It might be, that even if your lady or
yourself were here to-morrow when I come, it would be dangerous to
throw you the letter. You must give me some sign, if there be any
watchful eyes upon you. What shall it be?"

"If there be any risk," replied Ida Mara at once, "you will find me
singing. Whenever you find us silent, you may speak in safety.

"Enough, enough!" replied Markham, and rowed away.

Without landing at Westminster, as before, he directed his boat
straight towards the Tower Stairs; and leaving it with the waterman
from whom it had been hired, he hurried on through several lanes and
turnings, to a small lodging, amongst the manifold alleys by which
that part of London was intersected. He there put on a livery coat,
with the badge of the House of Seymour upon it, and making a small
bundle of three or four books and some writing materials, he once more
set out, and approached the Tower.

No opposition was made to his entrance, and he was permitted to
proceed to the very foot of the Tower where Seymour was lodged--for we
can scarcely call it confined, as, at this period of his imprisonment,
the restraint to which he was subjected was very slight. There,
however, he met the Deputy of the Lieutenant, who stopped him, asking,
"What have you got there?"

"Some books and paper, sir," replied Markham, "for Mr. Seymour."

"Let me see, let me see," said the officer; and the pretended servant
instantly untied, the handkerchief, and displayed the contents for
inspection.

The Deputy examined each article one by one, and finding nothing to
excite suspicion, he said, "You may go on."

When Markham entered the apartments of the prisoner, however, Seymour
was not alone. A gentleman in a clerical habit was sitting with him,
but rose almost immediately to take his leave.

"We may feel for each other, reverend sir," said William Seymour,
"though the cause of our imprisonment is so different. It is in both
cases most unjust."

"Nay," answered Melvin, the famous Nonconformist minister, with a
melancholy smile, "the cause is not so different as it seems." And
taking a pen, he wrote upon a slip of paper, which lay upon the table
the following quaint lines:--


         "Communis tecum mihi causa est carceris.
          Arabella tibi causa est; araque sacra mihi."


Seymour smiled, and shook his hand, saying, "May we both be able to
defend the altar that we love!" And bidding him adieu, Melvin left the
room.

"Have you seen her?" demanded William Seymour, eagerly, grasping
Markham's hand, as soon as his companion in captivity was gone.

"I have seen her," replied the other, "but have not been able to speak
with her. The woman Parry was with her. I afterwards saw her Italian
gentlewoman," he added, marking a look of disappointment that came
over Seymour's countenance, "and have brought you comfort, at all
events."

Thus saying, he took the note which he had received out of his pocket,
and placed it in the prisoner's hands. Seymour read it twice, and
pressed his lips upon it eagerly. "This is comfort indeed," he said.
"Stay, Markham, I will add a word or two to the letter I have written.
How can I ever thank you for what you have done for us?"

"How can I ever thank her," replied Markham, "for having refrained,
when a word from her lips would have sent me to the scaffold? My life
trembled in the balance! As it was, a grain more would have weighed
down the scale."

Seymour did as he proposed, and then handed the letter to his
companion. "Stay," he said, thoughtfully; "stay--were it not well for
you to tell that good girl, Ida Mara, who is truth and devotion
itself, where you are to be found, in case of need? The King may not
always leave my Arabella where she now is. In his caprices, he may
remove her suddenly to some other abode; and if Ida knew where to find
you, she might give you such intimations as are most needful."

"I will tell her," answered Markham, "if you think she can be fully
trusted.--But remember, Mr. Seymour, my own life is at stake if I am
found here. I came but to collect some small means together, and
return to the continent with all speed."

"You must not do for me anything you think rash," replied Seymour;
"but, for my own part, the dearest thing I had on earth I would trust
to that girl without a fear."

"So be it, then," answered Markham; and the next day, at the hour
appointed, he carried the letter to the terrace below Sir Thomas
Parry's house.

Arabella and Ida Mara were there alone, and as he approached they were
perfectly silent; but he had remarked a boat which followed him all
the way up the river, at the distance of some two or three hundred
yards; and merely saying, in a voice loud enough for them to hear,
"In an hour I will be back," he tossed the letter lightly on the
terrace and rowed on.

When he returned, he found the fair Italian there alone; and it being
by this time twilight, he paused to hold some conversation with her,
informing her where and how she was to find him, in case of need,
under his assumed name. On this occasion, as the night before, Ida
threw a note for her lady's husband into the boat; and during ten days
a constant communication between Seymour and Arabella was kept up by
the same means.

At length, one evening, the moment he came near, Ida Mara, who was
sitting beside her mistress, on one of the benches with which the
terrace was furnished, raised her rich melodious voice and began to
sing.


                                SONG.

         "Row on, row on! Another day
            May shine with brighter light;
          Ply, ply the oars, and pull away,
            Thou must not come to-night.

          Clouds are upon the summer sky,
            There's thunder on the wind;
          Pull on, pull on, and homeward hie;
            Nor give one look behind!

          Bear where thou go'st the words of love;
            Say all that words can say,
          Changeless affection's strength to prove;
            But speed upon the way.

          Oh! like yon river could I glide,
            To where my heart would be,
          My bark should soon outsail the tide,
            That hurries to the sea.

          But yet a star shines constant still,
            Through yonder cloudy sky,
          And hopes as bright my bosom fill,
            From faith that cannot die!

          Row on, then, row! God speed thy way!
            Thou must not linger here;
          Storms hang about the closing day;
            To-morrow may be clear."


The boat glided on; and that day Markham had no good news to carry
back to William Seymour; for though he rowed more than once past the
gardens, neither Arabella nor Ida Mara were on the terrace. When he
returned to the Tower, some difficulty was made in admitting him; and
the moment he entered the prisoner's room, when he had obtained
permission to see his master, as he called him, Seymour exclaimed,
"You have bad tidings, Markham; I am prepared to hear them."

"I have no tidings at all," was the reply. "The lady and the pretty
Italian were both upon the terrace, but they gave me the sign agreed
upon, to show that danger was near; and when I returned there was no
one there.

"Something has been discovered," said Seymour, "for I have had my
liberty, such as it was, abridged. I am now forbidden to pass the
gates. Something has been discovered, depend upon it."

"Perhaps not," answered Markham; "for, as I rowed down just now, I saw
a boat with a guard, evidently conveying a prisoner hither; and as to
the affair at Sir Thomas Parry's house, a thousand accidents might
have made them wish me to keep off. His stately old lady herself might
be walking in the garden; there might be some of the King's officers
there, or expected; but I will hie me home with all speed, and if
there be anything to communicate, depend upon it I shall either have a
message or a visit from Ida Mara. I know not how it is, that girl
seems to win the confidence of every one. I saw good Sir Harry West
yesterday, as I promised you. He said he had seen and conversed with
you, and so would say no more; but he spoke of that girl as if she
were an angel."

"Well he may so speak," replied William Seymour; "for she nursed him
through the plague, at a time when fathers fled from their children,
and children abandoned their parents. But I did see Sir Harry; and the
good old knight--though, heaven knows, in former times he tried to
dissuade me from what he called my rash love, as if he could have
foreseen all the wretchedness it has produced now--urges me strongly
to make my escape with Arabella at any risk, rather than linger here;
where, as he truly says, I may be shut up for years,--perhaps for
life, like Raleigh or Grey."

"He is right, too," said Markham; "and the sooner it is done, depend
upon it, the better. You have committed no offence against the law;
you are unjustly detained by the mere will of the King; and, if I had
been with Sir Harry, I should have joined my voice to his."

"But I showed him it was impossible even to attempt it," replied
Seymour; "for I had then pledged my word not to go beyond certain
limits, and that could not be broken. Now, however, I am free from
that bond; for they have taken from me the degree of freedom for which
I made the engagement; and, with whatever other fetters they may think
to enthral me, I may yet find means to cast them off when they least
expect it. However, my kind and devoted friend, do you return home,
and, if possible, see this excellent Italian girl. Let her tell her
mistress that, whatever happens, I am determined to attempt an escape.
Arabella must hold herself prepared to go with me, or to follow me;
and I will beseech all my friends, and you in particular, Markham, to
bend every thought and energy to secure her flight. Think not of me, I
will take care of myself; and free myself from this tyranny by some
means. Watch you over Arabella! I would fain, too, free the Countess
of Shrewsbury, who is, I find, imprisoned in the apartments next to
those of Raleigh; but they will not suffer me to hold the least
communication with her, which I grieve for deeply, as it is by
favouring me that she has brought this misfortune on her head."

"Think of yourself--think of yourself, good friend," said Markham;
"they will not keep the Countess long when you are gone. As for your
lady-wife, be sure, that to her safety I will sacrifice my own. She
once risked hers for me; and all the life I have is hers, to do with
me as she likes. I will ensure that, let them guard her how they will,
she shall be safely put on board a ship bound for some foreign
country. I am not new to stratagems; and, alas!--though for some years
now they have had meaner things to do with than monarchs' crowns, as
formerly,--in seeking a bare subsistence as a banished man, I have
been in constant practice, I assure you. Sir Harry West will help me,
too; and I think my good Lord Hertford will furnish us with means."

"That he will," replied Seymour, "to the utmost of his power. But, I
am not without some wealth myself, Markham; and, as you may be called
upon to act more suddenly than you expect, you had better take a part
of what I have here. There are two hundred nobles in this bag. Take
it, take it. I have more than I shall need; and now away, for I fear
every minute, lest Ida should seek you at your lodgings, and find you
absent."

Without further delay, Sir Griffin Markham left the prisoner and
hurried on towards his obscure lodging in the lanes not far off. But
ere we relate what occurred by the way, we must turn once more to the
courtly scenes of the palace, and, as is our custom occasionally,
retrograde for a few hours in point of time.



                            CHAPTER XXXIII.


"Now shall you see Sir Thomas Overbury, with pink roses in his shoes,
a rapier fit for a Castilian Don, mustachios curling to the moon, and
a beard of the most approved cut!" exclaimed Bradshaw, addressing
Graham. "The barber has been labouring upon him for an hour and a half
this morning. Sixteen new pairs of Spanish leather gloves, with pumps
of Cordova, and a new velvet jerkin, reached his lodging last night.
His ruff has broken the heart of the laundress; and his hose--Heaven
help us! saw ever man the like of his hose? One would suppose his
nether man a jewel of rare price, to be thrust into such an elaborate
casket. I will warrant you, he will trip by upon the tips of his toes,
with a 'Give you good den, dear Master Bradshaw! Good den, Master
Graham!--the King favours you both--you are likely young men;'" and he
mimicked the affected tone of some of the superfine courtiers of the
day.

"But what is the cause of all this?" asked Graham, who took him
literally. "What has happened to him?"

"Oh! sir; he is in the high way to fortune," answered Bradshaw. "As a
sconce in a corner of a room reflects suddenly the light of a candle
which the housemaid brings in her hand, and another sconce over the
chimney catches a gleam from it, so shines the King's favour upon
Rochester, and is reflected from Rochester to Overbury; and you may
argue from the premises, that they are both to be lighted up anon, as
far as the oil and wick will go; though, to say sooth, the reel and
cruse are both somewhat low in the royal closet. The people must be
pinched, sir; the people must be pinched. What is the nation but a
great gold sponge, to yield its juices under the King's pressure?
However, my mother whips me, and I whip my top; Rochester smiles upon
Overbury, and the King smiles upon Rochester. Did you not see how the
favourite took his favourite by the ear just now, led him to the royal
door, then thrust him in, so that he well nigh fell at the King's
feet, to thank him for his bounties before he knew what they were?"

"I thought Overbury was somewhat out of favour," replied Graham;
"there was a report of a quarrel between him and Rochester about the
Lady Essex; and don't you remember, when we were at Greenwich, people
said, the King suspected him of giving poor Lady Arabella a hint to
run away?"

"Bless your ignorance, Graham!" cried Bradshaw; "he is a carpenter--a
joiner, who saws things in two, and glues them together again with a
dexterity quite marvellous. No sooner is a hole made than it is
patched up again; and, for darning on new favours to old ones, he is
better than any tailor in the land. Have you not seen how Rochester
hangs upon him, and calls him Tom? and, moreover, the King gave his
good lordship five thousand pounds upon a hint from Overbury. No, no;
you will see him a great man soon; but whether it will be secretary,
or lord keeper, or lord mayor, who can tell?"

While such conversation was going on in the ante-room, the object of
it was in the king's closet with James, alone. He had been suddenly
called from his own chamber by Rochester, and hurried, without
information of what was the matter in hand, into the presence of the
King. Rochester then immediately closed the door, and left him there,
having previously brought the monarch to the exact pitch he desired.

The description of Overbury's entrance had, indeed, been somewhat
caricatured by Bradshaw; but though he did not exactly fall at the
King's feet, he made a profound obeisance; for James loved the
semblance of the most devoted respect, even while he was doing
everything in his power to root out the reality from the hearts of his
subjects; and we learn from Sully, that in the early part of his
reign, at least, he caused himself, upon all public occasions, to be
served at table on the knee.

The King's face was evidently made up for a speech; and Sir Thomas
Overbury, with his eyes cast down, waited in silence for what was to
come next.

"Sir Thomas," said the monarch, after a brief pause, "you are well
aware of the high estimation in which we hold your abilities; and we
now intend to give you a proof of the confidence which we have both in
your honesty and judgment, by placing you in a situation of high trust
and confidence, where you may have some matters of great difficulty to
handle, and some acts of great importance to perform. In the conduct
of these proceedings you will always have to bear in mind your duty to
God, which is best displayed in the service of the King. To that, sir,
you are bound to sacrifice every other consideration, and to show
yourself worthy of heaven and your sovereign, by diligence, devotion,
and faithfulness. Upon these three heads of diligence, devotion, and
faithfulness, we shall expatiate for a moment." And the King went on
to show what he considered to be the duty of a subject employed by a
monarch, which certainly left the poor instrument nothing but the
state and condition of a slave.

"You are not, sir, to undertake the ruling or governing of any matter
without my especial commands," continued James; "that is a part of my
craft, to which long experience, as well as the blessing of God, which
endows kings with qualities to fit them for the station of his
vice-regents on earth, has suited me especially. You may indeed
suggest, reverently, anything that may strike your own senses,
submitting your opinion wholly to the King for his decision and
judgment, and remembering that to do his will, is to do your duty,
without doubts, surmisings, and questionings, any farther than may be
necessary to assure yourself of his purposes."

We need not proceed farther with James's harangue; it was very similar
to many others upon record; but perhaps more strongly than on most
occasions, it enforced his claims to passive obedience from his
subjects; for which purpose he tortured several texts of Scripture in
such a manner as would have justified the purest despotism that ever
disgraced the earth. Five times he called himself the Lord's Anointed;
and there can be little doubt that, at that moment, his mind hesitated
as to which of the two famous monarchs he was, David or Solomon. He
inclined, perhaps, to the latter; but yet he had a strong hankering to
be David too, only that he knew himself not to be a man of valour,
mighty in war.

Sir Thomas Overbury heard him with every appearance of the most
profound devotion and respect; and although he knew that the most
pompous speeches did not always precede the most magnificent actions,
he had little doubt that the least honour the King was about to bestow
upon him, was that of raising him to the rank of Privy Councillor. The
monarch ended, however, without informing him what was the dignity
with which he was to be invested; but, raising a sealed packet from
the table, he placed it in his hands, saying,

"There, sir! there! go your way, and meditate upon what we have
addressed to you."

Sir Thomas bowed, kissed the King's hand; and expressing his deep
sense of James's goodness, though very little divining in what it
consisted, retired with the packet. The Knight hurried at once to his
own apartment, where he instantly broke the seal, and read. But though
the countenance with which he had passed through the ante-room had
been as full of buoyant satisfaction as Bradshaw had anticipated, the
expression now suddenly changed to one of mortification,
disappointment, and rage; and casting the paper violently down upon
the floor, he exclaimed--

"Curses upon the traitor! This is his machination. When I have
devoted my whole life to serve him, he goes about to ruin me.
Russia!--Russia!--Banishment!--Banishment to the farthest part of the
earth! cut off from all communication, from all chance or hope of
advancement; with no trust to execute, no negotiation to carry on, no
opportunity of distinction!--A nation of northern savages. Why not
send me to the Cham of Tartary, or to Prester John? Does he think that
I will accept such a mission?--Let him go himself, if he likes it; his
abilities are well fitted for the task:" and he laughed with bitter
and contemptuous merriment.

"Stay, I will write my answer," he continued; and he seated himself at
a table; but scarcely had he taken the pen in hand, when one of his
servants entered, announcing the Lord Rochester. A spasm of repressed
rage passed over Overbury's countenance, but instantly vanished; and
he received the favourite with a forced smile.

"Why, what are you about, Tom?" cried Rochester, entering, and casting
his well-dressed and graceful limbs into a chair. "I expected to find
you capering about the room, in joy at some gracious favour bestowed
upon you by his Majesty."

"Oh, no!" answered Overbury. "I am a grave and serious man, my Lord;
and, as to what I am about, I am writing to his most gracious Majesty,
to thank him for the honour conferred upon me, but begging to decline
it."

"Decline it?" exclaimed Rochester, with every appearance of surprise
and consternation: "pause and think a moment, Overbury. What, in the
name of fortune, can the king have offered, that any of his subjects
should dare to decline?"

"Nay, my lord, you know right well," replied Sir Thomas Overbury,
"that this is a thing I cannot accept."

"Really," replied Rochester, "the king has not told me what he was
going to offer you."

The reader already knows that this was false, but will not be
surprised that in this case, as in all others, one vice brought on a
second, or that lying should be consequent upon treachery.

Overbury gazed in his face for a single instant, and then replied, "I
am happy to hear it, my good lord; for the man who counselled this did
no friendly act to one who has ever striven to serve you."

"'Tis most likely the king's own act," replied Rochester. "You know
how often he determines on such things himself. But what is it,
Overbury? It cannot be so bad as you seem to think."

"As bad as may be, my good lord," answered the knight; "it is a
sentence of banishment--ay, and worse than the banishment of any
ordinary criminal. He who conspires against the good of the state, and
is yet cunning enough, as so many are, to go within an inch of
treason, yet not overstep the iron limit of the law, is exiled
reasonably to other lands, that his turbulence may no more disturb the
peace of England. But the whole world is left him to choose where he
will make his refuge. He may suit his whim, his tastes, or his
complexion, as best suits him; he may range from the damp pools of
Holland and the misty Rhine, to the far boundaries of Italy; may cross
the Adriatic or the Hellespont, and become pilgrim to the Sepulchre.
He is as free as the air to sweep over the whole world, except this
island, and may make himself a country where he pleases. But in my
case, I am shackled and tied down; my place of banishment is fixed in
the most sickly and unfriendly region of the earth, among cold
barbarians, unlettered, rough, and fierce, and all for the crime
of----"

"Of what?" asked Rochester, seeing him pause.

"Of serving my Lord of Rochester, I suppose," replied Sir Thomas
Overbury; "for I know of none other to charge myself withal."

"Nay, nay," answered Rochester; "you must be jesting, my good friend.
Speak in plain English. Remember, I never could make out a riddle in
my life."

"Well, then, the case stands thus," said Overbury. "His most gracious
majesty, from his particular favour to myself and you, proposes to
send me to the court of Russia as his ambassador in ordinary, there to
remain till in his good pleasure he recalls me. Now, I foresee, that
the day, as well as the distance, will be some what long. I love not
travelling; at least have had enough to cure me for all fondness for
such journeys, and, therefore, am even now sitting down to write to
his majesty, declining the cold honour thus intended for me."

"I fear you will offend the king," said Rochester.

"Better offend the king than destroy myself," replied Sir Thomas
Overbury; "but, in a word, I will not not go--I love not bears and
wolves--am somewhat chilly in my nature, too--and, though fur cloaks
are comfortable things, I had rather wear them for show than for
necessity. Let him turn Muscovite or Turk who will. I will have none
of such an embassy. So, if you will permit me, as this requires a
speedy decision, I will even finish my letter, that his majesty may
not say I made him wait."

"Well, well, if you are so headstrongly inclined," answered the
favourite, "write out the letter, and I will carry it to the king
myself, beseeching him to take your refusal in good part."

"Not so, indeed," cried Overbury; "I cannot think of making your
lordship my errand-boy."

"But I must insist on doing it," answered Rochester. "You have done
the same for me ere now; and no one can move the king in the matter
with such probable success as myself. Do you doubt me, Overbury?"

"Oh, not at all, my lord," replied the knight. "I doubt no man, much
less one to whom I have been so devoted;" and, seeing that he could
not avoid intrusting the letter to his former friend, he proceeded to
write an answer to the king.

"Pray make it humble and submissive," said Rochester.

"As a slave!" replied the knight, and wrote on.

When the letter was concluded, he folded it, called for wax, and
sealed it with his signet. Then, giving it to Rochester, he said, "I
really am ashamed of using you as a messenger; but I trust that, in
memory of the past, my good Lord,--from many friendly passages between
us,--and from my zeal and fidelity in your service,--which might have
been somewhat rude, but never wanting,---you will use your best
endeavours to obtain for me his Majesty's permission to decline the
honour he intended me."

"I will do the best I can," answered Rochester; "but you must not
attribute the bad success to me, if I fail. I fear, at best, you will
greatly injure yourself; but that is not my fault;" and away he went,
saying to himself, as he walked along the passages of the palace,
"That man must be disposed of somehow. He suspects me, and will find
some opportunity for revenge. I cannot trust him longer, and yet I
would not injure him, if I could help it. His own unruliness will be
his ruin."

In the meantime, Overbury sat with his head leaning upon his hand, in
meditation bitter enough.

"He goes to complete his treachery," he thought. "On my life, this
feeble-minded favourite is as base as shrewder men. 'Tis safer by far
to serve a sensible villain than a weak fool. One is sure of the
former, so long as his interest goes with ours: there is no security
with a creature like that. He will ruin himself; so 'tis no wonder
that he begins by ruining others."

With such reflections, the knight remained for about twenty minutes;
at the end of which time Lord Rochester returned, with a grave face,
accompanied by Sir Charles Blount. Overbury received them with
politeness somewhat too ceremonious; but Rochester immediately said,
"I have made no way with your petition--the King insists upon
obedience."

"He shall not have it!" exclaimed Overbury, hastily. "I have yet to
learn that an Englishman can be banished from the land, at a King's
will, without any crime committed. I will not go, my Lord; and
methinks, in his high favour, my Lord of Rochester, if right willing,
might have obtained a higher grace of the Sovereign than merely that
his poor friend should have leave to remain in his native land, rather
than to carry his bones to Russia but to leave them there."

"You do me wrong, sir," replied Rochester. "I have brought Sir Charles
Blount with me, who was present all the time, to inform you that I
urged his Majesty, as much as was decent, to grant your request."

"He did, in truth, Sir Thomas," said Blount.

"Then he has fallen, indeed!" cried Overbury. "I have known the time,
Sir Charles, when, if this noble gentleman had asked the King to give
him half a province, he would have had it, in land or money."

"That is a different thing," said Sir Charles Blount, drily, "from
asking a monarch to permit his subjects to disobey him. I doubt not
his Majesty would rather give half his kingdom, than bate a jot of his
prerogative."

Rochester had sat, while these few words were exchanged, with his eyes
fixed upon the ground; but at length raising them, he said, in an
earnest tone, "I do beseech you, Overbury, for your own sake, obey the
King; and be assured that I will do my best to shorten the period of
your absence, and to obtain your recal as speedily as may be."

This time he was sincere; for his heart somewhat smote him, and a
dread of the reproach of men, when it should be known that he had
dealt with such ingratitude to one by whose counsels and assistance he
had prospered, affected him not a little.

There is something that all great men feel, and even meaner persons
too, when raised to high station by accident or fortune, in the stamp
which history is to affix upon their name, which overawes many a bad
action rising up in their heart, and gives energy and vigour to nobler
purposes. Vague it is, and undefined, like all remote objects, like
fate--like death--like the judgment after death; but still it casts
its shadow over the present, and quells the dazzling brilliancy of
pettier objects near.

Weak and short-sighted as he was, Rochester experienced its influence
at that moment. To be branded with the stain of foul ingratitude for
coming times--to be marked out in the annals of the age as one who had
betrayed and ruined his friend--to be held up for scorn and
reprobation as a base and thankless villain, in the eyes of his
children and his children's children, somewhat appalled him; and he
wished that he had not taken the first step in a course so full of
shame.

But Overbury answered fiercely, with indignation and disappointment,
and the rage of a strong ambitious spirit mastering common prudence.

"It is vain--it is vain!" he said. "I am a freeborn Englishman! I will
not go! Let him make me if he can!"

"These words are unpleasant," cried Sir Charles Blount. "Sir Thomas, I
will take my leave. My Lord of Rochester, I must go."

"And so must I." rejoined Rochester. "It is useless to argue longer
with him."

"Good-bye, gentlemen both," said Overbury. "Rochester," he added, in a
meaning tone, "Rochester--take care!"

The favourite turned, and looked at him with a glance of anger and
contempt; and saying, in a low voice, "I will!" he quitted the room.

In about half an hour--it could not be more--a royal barge, containing
a gentleman, with his arms folded on his chest, his head bent down,
and his brow frowning, together with a small party of the guard, and a
messenger, was seen upon the Thames, close to the stairs; and as the
waterman pushed off towards the middle of the stream, the officer in
command said aloud, "To the Tower!"

The gentleman which that boat conveyed to the gloomy abode of
captivity and sorrow, was Sir Thomas Overbury!



                            CHAPTER XXXIV.


We must now return to pursue the homeward course of Sir Griffin
Markham, as he proceeded from the Tower of London to his little
lodgings, in one of the streets at the back of Petty Wales.

When he had walked about two-thirds of the way, he perceived a female
figure hurrying on before him, with a man carrying sword and buckler a
step behind him. She was wrapped in a large cloak; but there was
something about her light figure and easy walk which made Markham
instantly suppose that she was Ida Mara, and on passing by and looking
at her face, he saw that the supposition was correct.

He instantly stopped to speak to her; but the girl, who recognised
him, notwithstanding his change of dress, made him a sign to forbear
and go forward; and at the same moment, the servant with buckler and
broadsword told him in a sharp tone to walk on, and not stare into the
gentlewoman's face.

At length, at the shop of a silk merchant in a small way, Ida Mara
paused, while Markham hurried on to his own lodging. After a few
inquiries, and the purchase of some insignificant articles, Ida Mara
herself proceeded on her way, telling the man who accompanied her, to
wait where he was till her return, or till she called him. She was
soon in the entrance of Markham's lodging, the door of the passage
standing open; but just as she had passed the threshold, a hand was
laid upon her arm, and a voice exclaimed, in a tone of surprise,
"Ida!"

The fair Italian instantly turned round, and beheld Sir Harry West.

"In the name of fortune, my dear child, what are you doing here?" and,
perhaps, in the circumstances of those depraved times, the good old
Knight might have suspected any other of the attendants of the Court
of imprudent, if not criminal purposes, in coming thus, with some
degree of disguise, to such a part of the City.

But Ida Mara was not to be suspected; and, if a shade of doubt or
apprehension had crossed Sir Harry's mind, which it did not, the
beaming satisfaction which lighted up her face the moment she saw him,
would have dispelled it at once.

"Oh, I am so glad to see you, Sir Harry!" she cried; "I was coming to
seek you after I had been here. I have much to tell you; and if you
will wait one moment, I will be down directly."

"But where are you going to, my dear child?" asked the old Knight.
"Are you aware that this is not the most reputable part of London?"

"I did not know it," answered the girl, simply; "but at all events I
must go; for it is about our dear Lady's business, and I am to see a
person called Grey."

"I am going to visit the same man," replied Sir Harry, "so I will go
with you, if you have not any private conversation for his ear, my
fair Ida."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed the girl; "you may hear it all; for I have just
the same tidings to carry to you; and perhaps it may be better that
you should hear them together, for then you may devise some means of
remedying the new disasters which have befallen us."

"Stay a minute, Ida," said Sir Harry, seeing her about to mount the
stairs; "do you know the man you are about to visit? Do you really
know who he is?"

"He has carried several letters," replied Ida Mara, dropping her
voice, "from my lady to her husband, and from him to her. I know,
too," she added, in a still lower tone, "that his name is not Grey."

"That is enough--that is enough!" said Sir Harry. "Go on, my dear."

The girl then ascended the steps, and knocked at a door on the
first landing. Markham instantly opened it himself and admitted
them--somewhat surprised, indeed, to see Sir Harry with the fair
Italian--into a small, low-roofed chamber, scantily furnished, but
strewed in all parts with various anomalous pieces of dress, from
those of a high-bred cavalier to those of an inferior artizan. Swords,
daggers, one or two curious articles of _virtù_, ten or fifteen
volumes of books in rich old bindings, two masks, a pair of fencing
foils, and the head-piece and breast-plate of a horse-arquebusier,
gave it the air of a second-hand warehouse, and left scarcely a chair
vacant for the knight and his beautiful companion to rest themselves
upon.

"I am glad you are come," cried Markham, addressing Ida Mara, after a
few words exchanged with Sir Harry West. "They have straitened Mr.
Seymour's captivity; and I fear something has gone wrong at your
house, too. What is your news, sweet Mistress Ida? Bad, I fear!"

"As bad as it can be," answered Ida Mara: "they have discovered that
letters are given and received; an angry message has been sent by the
King to my Lady; and tomorrow morning she is to be removed to
Highgate, to the house of one Mr. Conyers, there to remain till a
lodging is prepared for her at a place called Durham."

"Durham!" exclaimed Markham; "that is destruction indeed. She must not
go to Durham, if we can prevent it, Sir Harry."

"How is that to be done?" demanded Sir Harry West.

"Faith, if need be," replied Markham, "she must feign illness."

"There is no need of feigning," answered Ida Mara, in a sad tone;
"for, from the moment she heard that news, she drooped her head like a
gathered flower, and if they bear her to Highgate, it will be all that
they can do."

"Give me three days, and I will undertake for her escape," exclaimed
Markham. "I am wiser now than I was some years ago, Sir Harry; and
know how to make use of my time. Will you aid me, noble Sir?"

"With my heart, hand, and means," said Sir Harry West; "for this cruel
tyranny of the King, towards so sweet and unoffending a lady,
justifies what would be otherwise unjustifiable, to thwart him. What
is to be done, my good friend?"

"Much," answered Markham, "very much; and we must divide the labour. I
dare not show myself amongst the great of the land; so you, Sir Harry,
must see Lord Beauchamp, and the Earls of Hertford and Shrewsbury;
they must furnish us with men, horses, and money. Let them collect as
many servants and beasts as they can round about Highgate, suffering
no three of the knaves to know where the others are, but with orders
to obey you or me implicitly. I will provide the ship, and the
disguises; and if we can but delay her journey till such a time as
suspicion and vigilance be somewhat laid asleep, we are all safe. Tell
me, Mistress Ida, is there any man about the lady who may be trusted?
How many servants has she allowed her?"

"Three men," replied Ida; "but the only one to be trusted is Cobham,
who has been with her long. He is prudent, and would sacrifice his
life for her, I am sure."

"Then you must let him into our secret," said Markham; "first speaking
with the lady, and asking her consent. You must tell her, too, to be
prepared at any moment to put our scheme in execution; let nothing
take her by surprise; and, above all, give her some hint that it may
be needful she should put on man's attire. If I know her rightly, that
will be the greatest stumbling-block."

"It will not please her," answered Ida Mara; "but still, for her own
sake and her husband's, I am sure she will consent."

"Were it not better," asked Sir Harry, "that the one escaped first,
and the other followed?"

"No, no," replied Markham; "I have thought of that; but I am very
sure, that the durance of the other would be rendered ten times as
severe, the moment one was gone. Let them both go together, Sir Harry,
then there is but one risk for all."

"But there is a difficulty," said Sir Harry West, "which you have not
foreseen, good sir. Mr. Seymour has pledged himself not to go
beyond----"

"That is at an end," exclaimed Markham; "they have taken from him the
limits they allowed; and, consequently, he is freed from his promise.
He is willing enough now to escape, and, moreover, feels sure of
effecting it with little, if any, need of help: we shall but have to
let him know where the ship lies, and he will undertake the rest. I
will see you to-morrow at Highgate, lady fair, and tell you more when
all is arranged. Now, hie you home; for it is growing dark, and you
are too pretty a flower to bear the night air."

"I will go with you, Ida," said the old Knight.

"I have one of the men with me," answered Ida Mara; "and have but to
go down to the water-side. Have I anything else to tell the lady?"

"Nothing at present," replied Markham; "to-morrow I will visit you, as
I have said, in some shape or other; and if you should have occasion
to write, let it be in your native tongue; I shall understand you. We
will see you safe, till you have rejoined your companion. Go on, and
we will follow."

Thus saying, he opened the door of his room; and Ida Mara, descending
the stairs, with a quick pace, walked on to the spot where Arabella's
servant stood near the shop at which she had left him; Sir Harry West
and Markham keeping at the distance of a step or two behind. The old
Knight, however, was not satisfied, even when he saw her under the
protection of a single attendant; and still, accompanied by Markham,
continued to follow her.

At the end of the second street, he had occasion to be glad that he
did so, for by the small portion of light that was remaining, he saw a
very extravagantly dressed personage, with black hair and beard, take
hold of Ida Mara by the arm, while a stout man, who was with him,
thrust himself in between her and her attendant, seemingly inclined to
pick a quarrel with the latter.

"Ah! my dear; have I found you at last?" cried the man with the black
beard.

"What, in Satan's name, are you running over me for?" said his
companion, taking Arabella's servant by the throat.

"I will soon show you," answered the man, drawing his sword; while Ida
Mara struggled to disengage herself from the grasp of the other, who
only laughed, and exclaimed, "Ah! you cannot get away now!"


But just at that moment, Markham ran up to take part with Arabella's
servant, and Sir Harry West, who was still a powerful man for his time
of life, seized the fellow by the collar, who had got hold of his fair
protegée, and by one pull, with a kick against the bend of the knees
behind, laid him upon his back on the pavement. The man hallooed
piteously; but the Knight merely spurned him with his foot, saying,
"Get up, impostor, and be gone. I know thee."

It is probable that the old Knight would not have suffered him to
escape without further chastisement, had he not been afraid of
bringing a crowd about the party, which might have proved
inconvenient; and worthy Doctor Foreman, for he it was who had been
thus overthrown, scrambled upon his feet again, showing but little
inclination to bluster.

"Come away, come away," he cried, to the man who was with him, and
then took two or three steps towards the corner of another street.
Before he reached it, however, he turned, and exclaimed, with a
significant gesture of the hand, "I will have my day!"

"To be hanged," replied Sir Harry West; and seeing that the other man
was beating his retreat also, the old Knight took Ida Mara by the arm,
saying, "Come, my dear, I will see you safe to the boat." He
accordingly led her on to the water-side, and did not leave her till
she was safely embarked upon the Thames. Sir Harry then returned with
Markham to his lodging, more completely to define their plan of
operations, and to commence the carrying of them into effect at once.

In the meanwhile, Ida Mara returned to the house of Sir Thomas Parry,
from which her absence had passed unobserved, and bore with her some
hope of consolation to poor Arabella, who had given herself up to
despair at the prospect of being removed to such a distance from her
husband. She still remained so ill and weak, however, that the worthy
Knight who held her in his custody, judged it expedient to intimate to
the King, that it would be dangerous to force a long journey upon her
in her situation at the time.

The reply of the King was as cold and unfeeling as might be. He
believed she was feigning, he said; but that, at all events, she must
be removed to Highgate, where his physician should visit her.

Accordingly, on the following morning, she was placed in a litter, and
carried to a house pleasantly situated at a short distance from the
village, where she was received with much kindness by the master and
mistress of the mansion. Two of the King's physicians were already in
waiting, and Mr. Conyers, into whose charge she was now given, in
energetic language, pointed out to them the absolute necessity of
allowing the lady time to recover, before it was attempted to remove
her farther.

"If you suffer her, gentlemen," he said, "to undertake a journey in
her present state, and before she has completely regained her health,
her death be upon your heads; for you must see that she is totally
incapable of supporting it."

The physicians agreed to the justice of his remarks, and drew up their
report accordingly; assuring her, that she should be suffered to
remain for a week, at least, where she then was. As soon as they were
gone, Arabella thanked her host gently and sweetly for the kindness he
had shown her.

"Nay, dear lady," he answered, kissing her hand; "I and my good wife
are interested in the matter, for we shall thus retain you longer with
us; and we propose to ourselves the pleasure of comforting and
soothing you, which we do not estimate as a slight grace. For a few
days, perhaps, we shall be obliged to have the appearance of strict
gaolers; but, as we are not such by nature, we shall, I doubt not,
obtain permission to relax, especially if you would, when visited by
any of the King's officers, assume the appearance of being somewhat
reconciled to your situation, and submissive to the will of the King."

The brutal and ungentlemanly reply of James, when the physicians made
their report, is well known; but they adhered honestly to their
remonstrance against any attempt to move the lady to Durham for some
time; and when, on the following day, one of them visited her, he
brought her the glad tidings, that she was to remain at Highgate for a
month.

We must notice, however, before we proceed, an event which took place
on the day of Arabella's arrival at the house of Mr. Conyers.

After the hint which had been given by Markham, it may easily be
supposed Ida Mara was frequently on the watch during the day for his
promised visit; but the situation of the mansion, which was one
surrounded on all sides by extensive grounds, enclosed within high
brick walls, rendered any communication with those without extremely
difficult. At length, however, towards evening, she perceived, from
the window of her mistress's chamber, a man bearing a bundle on his
shoulder. He was apparently a porter, and seemed considerably advanced
in life, walking with slow steps, and bending under his load. When
half way along the gravel walk, which ran from the gates to the house,
he paused, laid down the packet, and wiped his brow.

"Lady, lady!" cried Ida Mara, addressing her mistress, who was lying
down to take some repose, "here is somebody coming whom I think I
know--I will run down and meet him."

"Be careful, be careful, Ida!" said Arabella; "if they were to
discover you, and drive you from me, what should I do?"

"Something must be risked, dear lady," answered her attendant. "I am
sure that is our friend." And away she went, with a light step, down
the stairs, and out by a side door. Knowing that she might be seen
from the windows, she walked slowly and deliberately along the path,
till she reached the spot where Markham stood with his bundle.

"What news?" she said, pausing beside him. "All is going on right," he
replied; "a ship is hired, and will be ready in a few days. 'Tis a
French vessel taking in a cargo, and may be known by the flag. It will
be at Leigh; but, in the meantime, let the lady know that friends,
with horses ready for her service, are always to be found at a small
inn, called the 'Rose,' on the road from this place to Newington."

"What have you got there?" asked Ida Mara. "Some woman's apparel at
the top," answered Markham, "sent by the Countess of Hertford; but,
underneath, there is a disguise for the lady, in case of need."

"Will they not open it at the house?" inquired Ida.

"No, no!" replied Markham; "the man's dress is so folded up that they
cannot see it, without cutting open the cloth it is wrapped in. But
here comes somebody from the house; have you any tidings to give me?"

"Not as yet," rejoined the pretty Italian, in haste; "when I have, I
will send it to the Rose."

"That will do, that will do," replied Markham. "Now, remember, I have
asked you if the Lady Arabella is here? That I have come with these
things from Sir Thomas Parry's, where they have been left by mistake.
You may pay me something for my labour if you will, for I am to be a
porter, you know."

"How much do you charge?" asked Ida Mara, with a smile, taking out her
purse.

"Not less than half-a-crown, Madam," answered her companion, as Mr.
Conyers approached; "remember, it is a long way."

"Oh, that is too much," said Ida, "for carrying such a package as
this--it is very light;" and she lifted it with her hand.

"Not so light, to bring seven miles, mistress," rejoined Markham,
acting his part with skill, acquired by long practice. "Ask this
gentleman if I charge too much."

"What is the matter?" demanded Mr. Conyers, coming up.

"He asks half-a-crown, sir," said Ida Mara, turning round, "for
carrying this parcel hither from Lambeth, where it was forgotten this
morning."

"You had better give it him," replied Mr. Conyers, smiling; "it is a
long way."

The fair Italian put the half-crown into Markham's hand, saying,
"Well, take it up to the house, then. I will come after you, and carry
it up to the lady's room."

"Stay a moment," said Mr. Conyers, as she was about to follow the
seeming porter, who took up the package and walked on; "a word with
you, pretty one. Remember, when you wish to speak with any of your
friends, it must be outside the wall. I have no orders to keep you
within--but nobody, except persons to myself, must for the future pass
the gates."

His tone, though not unkind, was grave and significant; and Ida Mara,
thinking it better to make no reply, merely bowed her head and
withdrew, following her confederate quickly, and taking his burden
from him at the door.

She watched him as he returned towards the gates, to which the master
of the mansion had bent his steps after leaving her, and from which he
was now coming back.

Mr. Conyers, however, passed the pretended porter without stopping,
and Ida Mara hurried with the packet up to her mistress's chamber. As
soon as she was there, she opened it, and, from the bottom, drew forth
a bundle sewed up in a linen cloth, which she instantly deposited in a
closet, and locked the door.

"What have you there, Ida?" asked Arabella. "A disguise for you, dear
lady," replied the faithful girl, in a whisper, approaching close to
her mistress's bedside. "I know not what it is, but we will not open
it to-night."

She had scarcely done speaking, when an elderly woman, an attendant of
Mrs. Conyers, tapped at the door and entered, asking if she could be
of any assistance.

"Yes, Mrs. Maude," replied Ida; "if you will help me to lay out these
things, which seem to have been somewhat tumbled in coming, I will
thank you;" and, aided by the maid, she took all the articles of
apparel sent by Lady Hertford out of the package, one by one,
spreading them forth with great care, though Arabella, who had never
employed her in any menial capacity since her act of devotion in
nursing Sir Harry West through the plague, told her it would be better
for her to send for the maid, Helen, to perform that office.

The servant of Mrs. Conyers, however, was for the time completely
deceived; and, on retiring, informed her mistress, who had sent her to
the lady's chamber, that there was nothing in the package which she
had seen brought to the house but ordinary clothing.

Good Mrs. Conyers was not a harsh or unkind personage, but she was one
who possessed few very gentle feelings; and those that she did possess
were so well sheltered by a considerable share of selfishness, that it
was somewhat difficult to get at them. She was of a prying
disposition, too; but it fortunately happened that, as is frequently
the case with persons of her character, the mind was as obtuse as the
feelings; and with every inclination to act the gaoler and the spy
upon the fair prisoner, she had not the wit to execute the task
effectually.



                            CHAPTER XXXV.


"All as we could wish, all as we could wish!" cried Rochester,
entering a room in Northampton House, in which the Countess of Essex
sat with her mother, Lady Suffolk. "We have the great majority of the
judges, delegates. In a few days the decree of nullity will be
pronounced, and we need not care a pin for that rank puritan, Abbot,
or the Bishop of London. They are the only two who hold out, for Ely
and Coventry have yielded to the King's arguments."

Lady Essex cast herself into his arms, with her face radiant with joy;
and the shameless Countess of Suffolk rose and congratulated the lover
of her criminal daughter, with as many expressions of satisfaction as
if he were about to raise her to a station of honour and fame.

"Get them to sign the decree quickly, Rochester," she said; "Abbott is
a powerful man, and the see of Canterbury has no light authority. He
may bring some of the rest over again; and it is as well to have as
many on our side as possible."

"There is no fear, there is no fear," replied Rochester. "They have
pledged themselves to the King, and cannot go back. Nevertheless, be
you assured, dear lady, I will lose no time. What I most fear is from
that villain, Overbury. He has written me this day a most insolent and
threatening letter; and he may make mischief."

"I wonder," said Lady Suffolk, in a jesting tone, "if there be no butts
of Malmsey now in that same Tower of London? But come, I will go and
tell Northampton of your good news. He is as eager in the business as
any of us."

"Not as I am," answered Rochester, casting himself into a seat by the
side of his paramour. "There I defy him."

"But what says your dear good friend, Sir Thomas Overbury?" asked Lady
Essex. "My mother is right, Rochester: we want Malmsey butt!"

"It were not safe," answered her lover, looking down; "the man may
drive me to punish him as he deserves; but how, is the question?"

"Oh, by a thousand means," answered the Countess.

"But what does he say, what does he say, Robert? let me see. Have you
got the letter with you?"

"Yes, here it is," answered Rochester; "a sweet composition, in truth,
and one which shows that he and I are henceforth sworn enemies. One or
the other must perish, that is clear."

"Let it be him, sweet Rochester, let it be him," said the Countess,
taking the letter, and running her eye over the contents.

"What says the villain?" she exclaimed, at length, with her face
burning as she read aloud some portions of Overbury's letter. "--'You
and I will come to public trial before all the friends I have?--They
shall know what words have passed betwixt us heretofore?--I have
wrote the story betwixt you and me from the first hour to this
day!'--Rochester, there is no time to be lost! He brings it on his own
head.--Let him take the consequences."

"But how? but how?" cried Rochester.

"How?" asked the Countess. "Is he not in the Tower?--Is not my father
Lord High Chamberlain?--Are you not a Privy Councillor?--Will the King
refuse you anything you ask in reason?--Rochester, Rochester! means
are not difficult if you will be firm. But place a secure man as
Lieutenant of the Tower, and leave the rest to me. What! would you
have yourself overthrown by a worm--by a viper?--Will you leave a
snake to sting you, when, by one stroke of your heel, you can tread it
into nothing? You have done all you have done, more than could be
expected, to avoid the necessity he forces on you. You offered him
rank, station, and high employment! He refused them all, and his own
obstinacy sent him to the Tower. Now he would charge and calumniate
you, knowing right well, that slander always leaves part of its venom
behind, whatever antidote we apply. He gives you no choice, he forces
you to declare that he or you must perish."

"It is but too true," replied Rochester, gazing on the ground somewhat
gloomily; "and yet I would to Heaven he did not force me to deal with
him harshly."

"Ay, but he does," exclaimed the Countess. "Tell me, if two men are in
a sinking boat that will but bear one, has not the strongest every
right to cast the other into the sea, and save himself?"

She paused for an answer, and her lover replied, "I think he has; but
still he may regret to do it."

"True," said Lady Essex, "true; and so do I, and so do you. But if
that man were an enemy, who had brought him there only to take his
life? He who weakly stands in fear of a man he can destroy, deserves
the fate that he spares the other. Had he been content to bear, even
for some short time, with meekness and forbearance, the punishment he
has called down on his own head, he might have lived on in peace, for
aught you would have said or I have done against him. But now,
Rochester," she added, laying her fair and beautiful hand upon his
arm, and speaking in a low but emphatic tone, "but now, he must die!
Do you mark me?--He must die! It is not hate that makes me speak; we
could have afforded to hate him, and yet let him live. I practise
nought against the life of Essex, though Heaven knows I have hated him
enough. But to dread is different--to live in continual fear of what a
fellow being may say--to know that our secrets are at the mercy of an
enemy--to see him strive to curb us at his will, like a groom upon a
managed horse, because he has got the bridle of fear between our jaws,
is not an existence to be tolerated for an hour. Fling me, I say, such
a rider to the dust and break his neck, or you are not half a man.
This letter, this base and insolent letter, is his death-warrant!" And
she struck it with the back of her fingers, with all the passion and
vehemence of her nature. "He has signed it with his own hand," she
added. "It is his own deed! and as he has planted the tree, so let him
eat the fruit."

"But the means! but the means!" cried Rochester. "Where shall we find
the means?--Remember, such deeds leave marks behind them that may
condemn us. Cold judges will not weigh the provocation, but only the
act; will not think of how he drove us to destroy him, but punish us
for his destruction. The King himself will suffer no private revenge;
remember the case of Sanquhar, where no prayers or entreaties would
move him."

"Ay, but remember, also," said the Countess, "that he was hated--you
are loved. James smiled when he signed Sanquhar's warrant. Know you
not why he looked so pleased? Was not Sanquhar a friend of that famous
King of France, who so eclipsed the pale light of the Scottish Star,
that he looked like Orion beside one of the little twinkling Pleiades?
Did not Sanquhar stand by, unmoved by aught but laughter, when Henry
vented a keen jest upon the birth of this British Solomon; and James
paid him well. Him he detested; you he adores.--Who does not that
knows you, Rochester?--And if this be so managed that no mighty hubbub
is made about it, I will undertake the King shall aid you to conceal
it, rather than punish you for an act most necessary. Besides, if I
judge right, there may be things within the scope of your knowledge
that this great monarch would not have told. I counsel you not to make
him dread you; for that is too perilous. Show him all devotion, and
there is no fear of his becoming an enemy to one who is so much his
friend. Then, as for the rest, lend me your power, and I will give you
the means. I will away, with all speed, to a certain serviceable woman
whom I know, who will afford me good counsel as to what is to be done.
But I must put off this gay apparel; and if you will be here to
supper, I will have news for you. Hark! I hear my mother coming, with
my good Lord Northampton. He shall lend me his barge; and I will
away."

"Let me go with you," said Rochester.

"What, in these fine feathers?" cried the Countess, laughing as
lightly as if her errand were but some pleasant scheme of momentary
diversion. "No, no, most noble Lord, that would betray all. Another
time you shall. Fair sir," she continued, turning to the Earl of
Northampton, as he entered, "I beseech you, as your poor kinswoman and
dependant, to lend me your lordship's barge for a short time. I have a
secret expedition to the city, to visit a certain goldsmith, who must
not know me, lest he charge his workmanship too dear. You will not
deny me?"

She spoke in a gay and mocking tone, calculated to discover rather
than to conceal the fact, that she had some more important scheme to
execute than that which she gave out; and the Earl of Northampton
replied at once: "It, as all else that I possess, fair lady, is at
your devotion. Stay; I must order it."

"Nay, nay," said the Countess, "I will do so as I pass through the
ante-room. Show him the letter, Rochester, and ask him simply what
that man deserves who wrote it."

Thus saying, she left the room, and Rochester placed the letter of Sir
Thomas Overbury in the hands of the Lord Northampton, who had by this
time become his chief friend and adviser at the Court. The Earl read
it twice, and then returning it, said, in a marked tone, "Death!--A
man," he added, "who can betray the secrets confided to him is the
worst sort of traitor; but he who can use them to intimidate another,
is lower than the common cut-purse upon the highway. Were this man out
of prison, I should say--call him into some quiet corner of the Park,
and draw your sword. As it is, I cannot so well advise you."

The Countess of Suffolk made Rochester a sign not to continue the
subject; and in; a few minutes more Lady Essex re-appeared, masked,
and habited with great simplicity.

"Now," she exclaimed, addressing Rochester, "you may have the honour
of handing me to the barge, or, if you like it better, may accompany
me till I land near the bridge, and wait for me, like a humble slave,
till I re-embark; for I will have no pert lover prying into where I
go."

Thus saying, she gave him her hand, and the Earl of Northampton,
smiling as benignly on their criminal attachment as the Countess of
Suffolk had done, conducted them to a door leading into the gardens,
where he left them to pursue their way to the private stairs, which
were then attached to all the great houses that lined the bank of the
Thames, from Whitehall to the City.

Rochester and the Countess proceeded through the gardens, toying and
jesting as they went, and then seated themselves in the barge, which
speedily bore them down nearly to London Bridge. There the lady left
her lover, and, followed by two men, entered upon the narrow streets
of the metropolis, which she threaded till she reached the well-known
house of Mrs. Turner. She paused in the little court, and sent up one
of the men to see if the respectable lady she came to visit was at
home, and alone.

"Say, a lady wishes to see her," said the Countess. "Mind, sirrah,
give no names--merely a lady."

"I know, my Lady," replied the man, who had accompanied his mistress
more than once upon a similar errand; and entering the door, which
stood open, he soon came back with tidings that good Mrs. Turner was
within, and disengaged.

"Bless me, my Lady!" exclaimed Mrs. Turner, as soon as she saw the
Countess, "I have not had the honour of a visit for I don't know how
long; but I see that all has gone well with you. You could not look so
fresh and so beautiful if you were not happy; though beautiful enough
you were always, even, when you were in the state of misery from which
I had some little share in relieving you."

"Thanks, thanks, Mrs. Turner," replied the Countess, "the relief is
not quite complete; but I think it will be soon. However, I have
another business on hand, perhaps more important still. See that there
is no one in that room, and lock the door."

"Oh, there is no one, I am sure, my Lady," said Mrs. Turner. "I take
good care against eaves-droppers; but you shall see." And opening the
door, which led to an inner chamber, she displayed a bedroom fitted up
in a style of luxury which would have shamed a palace.

She then locked a door which led from it to a back staircase; and
tripping back on the tips of her toes, she sat down opposite to Lady
Essex, saying, "Now, sweet lady, you see there is no one there; and,
if there be anything in all the world that I can do to serve you, I am
ready. I am sure, it is quite a pleasure to do anything for so great
and generous a person."

"That is all nonsense, Turner," replied the Countess; "what I have to
do now, cannot be a pleasure to any one concerned; but it is forced
upon me. Tell me, you who have such skilful means of gratifying hearts
that love, have you not means of satisfying hate, as well?"

"Really, my lady, I don't know what you mean," said Mrs. Turner. "You
must speak clearly; and I will give you a clear answer."

"Pshaw," cried the Countess, impatiently; "half of your trade, woman,
is to understand at a mere hint. Tell me, if you had an enemy, one
that you dreaded, one that rendered it necessary for your safety that
he should be removed, could you not find means--without much apparent
dealing with him--to free yourself from your danger, and from his
enmity?"

Mrs. Turner gazed silently in her face, for a moment, and then, in a
voice sunk to a whisper, asked, "Is it my lord your husband?"

"He!" cried the Countess, with a scoff. "But I have no husband," she
added, the moment after; "if you mean the Earl of Essex, poor
creature, my hate ceased as soon as he ceased to trouble me. The idle
bond between us will be soon snapped by the fingers of law; and
henceforward I care no more about him than about any of the thousands
who walk the streets of London, and whom I have never seen. No, no, it
is another, a much less person; for you might fear to put your fingers
in the peerage. But answer me my question. Were such your case, could
you not find means, I say?"

"Perhaps I could, my Lady," answered Mrs. Turner, in a grave tone.
"Perhaps I could."

"Then you must make my hatred yours," replied the Countess, "and work
against my enemies as if they were your own."

"That I will, madam, I am sure, with all my heart," answered her
worthy confederate. "But I must have help, my lady."

"You shall have such assistance as shall render all easy," replied the
Countess.

"Ay," rejoined Mrs. Turner; "but what I mean is, I cannot undertake
this thing alone. Good Doctor Foreman must give us assistance. I doubt
you would not like bloodshed?"

"No, no, no!" answered the Countess; "there must be no blood; nothing
to leave a trace of how the person died. Quietly and secretly, and yet
as speedily as may be."

"It will be difficult, madam," said Mrs. Turner; "a very difficult
thing indeed; for though one may get at their food so as to spice one
dish to their taste for ever, yet if it is to be slow poison----"

The Countess started, and her warm cheek turned somewhat pale. "Is
your Ladyship ill?" asked Mrs. Turner.

"No, no!" answered the Countess; "'twas the word poison. Often," she
added, slowly and thoughtfully, "we must make use of means we like not
to hear named, and the heart shrinks at a word that is most bold in
action. But it matters not;--poison--ay, poison!--So let it be!--Why
should the sound scare me?--Poison. Well, woman, what was it thou wert
saying?"

"Why, please you, my Lady, that if slow poison is to be used, we must
bribe some man who has constant access to the person, for it must be
given daily."

"None shall have access but yourself and those you send," replied the
Countess. "All food may pass through your hands--and yet I wish this
were not to be done. Would that it could be accomplished boldly and
openly, without such silent, secret dealings; but that is impossible
in this case."

"Oh dear, my Lady!" replied Mrs. Turner, in a soothing tone,--"you
need not distress yourself about it. You do not know how frequently
such things happen."

"Ay? Is it often done?" exclaimed the Countess.

"Daily, madam," said Mrs. Turner. "Many a rich old miser finds the way
to heaven by the tender love his heir bears to his money bags; many a
jealous husband troubles his lady's peace no more, after she has
learnt the secret of deliverance; many a wise man's secrets find a
quiet deposit in the churchyard, which otherwise might have been
noised abroad; many a poor girl, betrayed and wearied of, finds peace,
by the same hand that took it from her. But that's a shame, I say, and
such means should be only used against the strong and the dangerous."

The Countess smiled bitterly. "Yes!" she said, looking down, "there
are gradations even in such things as these; and dire necessity still
justifies the act that else were criminal. And so 'tis often done,
good Mrs. Turner? I have heard of it, but knew not it was frequent."

"Oh yes, my Lady," answered the fiend; "scarce a day--I am sure not a
week passes, without a stone being put up by mourning friends in
memory of those whom they would fain forget; and once the earth is
shovelled in, you know, it matters little how the dead man went. In
truth, to most men, 'tis a charity to cut them off from a few years of
sorrow. 'Tis a sad world, full of cares, my Lady; and I know that too,
poor creature as I am. Here they are pressing me hard for the rent of
my house; and where I am to get it I am sure I cannot tell."

"There!" said the Countess, throwing a purse upon the table; "and if
you skilfully accomplish that which is needed, you shall be rich."

The woman seized her hand to kiss it; but the Countess drew it away,
as if a serpent stung her. "Come, no foolery," she said. "You know I
pay well for services; but they must be rendered duly. I have told you
that this person shall be entirely in your power. You shall have every
opportunity to practise on him your skill. He shall be altogether in
your hands. Is there anything more you need?"

"Ha, ha, ha!" said Mrs. Turner, laughing with a low titter. "I thought
first it was a woman, till your ladyship said _he:_ for ladies have
not, in general, such enmities to men."

"My friendships are the friendships of my friends," cried the
Countess; "their hate my hate. 'Tis not that this man has injured me,
but he is dangerous to one I love. He must die! See you to the means.
I have heard that the late Queen Catherine, of France, was so well
served in cases such as these, that those whom she dreaded or
disliked, disappeared as if by magic. The smelling of a nosegay--a
pair of scented gloves--a cup of fragrant wine--would clear her Court
in a few hours of those who cumbered it."

"All tales! my Lady," replied Mrs. Turner; "except, perhaps, the wine.
I doubt not that she did deliver herself of enemies by such means, and
those the best, too, she could employ; but odours to kill, must be
strong scents, indeed; and, 'tis more like, some friendly valet helped
to season the soup of the good Monseigneur, than that he took the
poison by the nose. However, there is one thing I can say, that there
is no secret in the sciences with which my friend, good Doctor
Foreman, is unfurnished; and, moreover, that he will employ them all
to please your ladyship."

"Well, consult him, then," said Lady Essex; "let him know that his
reward is sure. Think you he has ever practised in this sort before?"

"I must not say that, my Lady," replied Mrs. Turner, with a shrewd
look; "but I know well, that in this country, and in many others, too,
he has served great men in various ways. Ay, kings and princes; and, I
suspect, their foes have had cause to know it, too. But he is as
secret as the grave, and never babbles of the things he has done."

"That is the man we want," said the Countess; "speak to him about the
matter, and let me know what he says."

"That I will, my Lady," answered Mrs. Turner. "But who is the
gentleman we have to deal with?"

"You shall know hereafter," replied Lady Essex: "what I have said, is
sufficient for the present."

"Nay, but dear lady," urged her infamous confederate, "I fear Dr.
Foreman may not like to engage in the matter without knowing who the
person is. I have no curiosity, for my part."

"Why should he hesitate?" demanded the Countess, sharply; "one man
must, to him, be the same as another, if what you have said of him be
true. The butcher asks not where the ox he slays was bred or fattened,
what green meadows fed it, from what streams it drank. The blow that
ends it is all he has to think of; and so let it be here."

"I doubt that will not satisfy him, my Lady," said Mrs. Turner; "there
are some great men he might not like to deal with--any of his kind
friends and patrons, would give him pain to injure. Perhaps this very
gentleman may have been favourable to him--may have employed him in
things of the same kind."

"'Tis not unlikely," answered the Countess, with a gloomy smile; "but,
if he have, he will employ him no farther. The walls of a prison are
round him, from which he will ne'er pass out alive. However, as your
friend cannot penetrate into the Tower, to tell the secret to him who
must die; and as he dare not, I think, betray it to any other, the man
is Sir Thomas Overbury;" and she fixed her beautiful eyes steadfastly
upon the countenance of Mrs. Turner, as if to read the effect which
her words produced upon the woman's mind.

It was not such as she expected; for the passion in her own heart gave
even her victim higher importance than he had possessed in the eyes of
others. "What! Sir Thomas Overbury!" exclaimed Mrs. Turner, in some
surprise; "the friend of my Lord of Rochester?"

"He _was_ his friend," replied the Countess, with marked emphasis;
"but now----"

She left the sentence unconcluded, and Mrs. Turner exclaimed, "Ah! I
see how it is; I understand it all, now! Such friends may become
dangerous, Lady. He may have secrets of my Lord of Rochester's, which
must not be betrayed; perhaps, some of the King's, too."

"Perhaps so," answered the Countess; "all we know, however, is, that
he lies a close prisoner in the Tower, by the King's own order; that
no man--except such as have licence from his Majesty himself--is
permitted to speak with him, on pain of high displeasure; and that it
were better for all parties that such things were brought to an end.
See to it, good Mrs. Turner, see to it! and come up to me at
Northampton House to-night at supper time. The Earl will then be in
the country; and you will find Lord Rochester and myself alone. If you
have seen this Doctor Foreman, then, you may bring him with you; and
so, farewell!"

Thus saying, the Countess left her, hurried to the barge, and seating
herself by her lover's side, was rowed back to Northampton House. But,
as she went, she vainly endeavoured to assume the light gaiety which
she had displayed as they came; for the terrible conversation which
she had just held with her instrument still cast its shadow upon her.
While the act was merely a matter of vague contemplation, she had felt
it but little; but, as with those who approach to climb a mountain,
which at a distance looked soft and easy of ascent, she found the task
more fearful than she had anticipated when she came to deal with the
details. Even her bold and resolute spirit felt oppressed with the
first steps to the terrible crime that was to be committed; the very
lowness and pettiness of the means to be employed had something
strangely horrible to her imagination which, she could not shake off.
She sat silent and gloomy then as the boat glided over the water; and
Rochester easily divined that preparations were already made for the
dark act they meditated.



                            CHAPTER XXXVI.


One wing of the old palace in the Tower, which has long since been
swept away, was, at this time, when the King's general residence was
at Whitehall, given up to those prisoners of state, who were not
committed to that close custody which debarred them from a general
communication with their fellow men. This was the habitation of
William Seymour about a week after the period when the Lady Arabella
was conveyed from Lambeth to Highgate. He had, in the first instance,
been placed in the Beauchamp tower, but had been removed to make way
for Sir Thomas Overbury; and he now had larger apartments and better
accommodation than before, as well as the range of the whole extent of
the Tower itself, though the liberty of passing the gates, which he
had at one time enjoyed, was denied him.

From time to time he received the visits of various friends; and
Markham was with him every day, bearing him tidings or short notes
from his beloved wife, though their correspondence could not be so
full as during the period of her confinement at the house of Sir
Thomas Parry.

The intervals of solitude to which he was subjected during various
parts of the day, were passed in writing, reading, and meditating
schemes of escape; and often, in deep reflection, he paced the old
halls and corridors of the palace, pausing from time to time, as the
sunshine penetrated through the tall windows, and fell upon mementos
of men and ages gone--to read the homily it afforded, of the
transitory nature of all human things.

He was one day standing thus employed, gazing at a spot on the wall
where some hand had carved the name of Edward Plantagenet, and
wondering to which of all the many distinguished persons who had borne
that appellation, the inscription referred, when a gentleman, whom he
well knew, named Sir Robert Killigrew, approached with the sauntering
and meditative step of a prisoner, and gave him the good morning.

"I was coming to seek you, sir," said Killigrew, "to pay you my
respects as your fellow captive, which I have been since last night."

"May I ask on what cause, Sir Robert?" demanded Seymour.

"You would be long in divining," answered the Knight.

"That I may well be," replied Seymour; "for as things now go on in
England, there is not an act in all the wide range of those which man
can perform, that may not, by the elastic stretching of the law, the
cunning of the bad, and the indifference of all the rest, be construed
into some crime worthy of imprisonment."

"It is but too true," replied Killigrew. "My crime was but speaking a
few words with poor Sir Thomas Overbury, who called to me when I
passed his window, as I was returning from a visit to my poor friend
Raleigh. For this mighty misdemeanour I was committed from the
council-table, and here I am, your servant at command,[8] so far as
services may be rendered within the walls of the Tower."


----------

[Footnote 8: Let it be remembered that this act of intolerable tyranny
was actually committed: and this, with the rest of James's conduct
towards Overbury, led men reasonably to suspect that the prisoner was
in possession of some horrible secret affecting the King himself.]

----------


"I must not welcome you, Sir Robert," replied Seymour; "for it were no
friendly act to see you gladly here. What news were stirring when you
left the Court?"

"Good faith, but little," answered the Knight, "except that Rochester
exceeds all bounds in favour, impudence, rapacity, and rashness. The
functions of all offices of the state are now monopolized by him;
there's not a privy-councillor can wag his beard, unless my Lord of
Rochester give leave; and if a suitor have ever so just a claim, good
faith his gold must flow into the favourite's purse, before he can
obtain a hearing. He rules the Court and the State, and were it not
for Abbott, would rule the church too, I believe. But the archbishop
frowns upon him, and holds out against the nullity of his fair
Countess's marriage with Lord Essex."

"What does he do for want of Overbury?" asked Seymour. "Good faith,
when I heard that the knight was arrested, I fancied that the
favourite's day was at an end."

"Heaven and the King forgive you," cried Killigrew. "Why, it was
Rochester himself did it. That is known to all the world now-a-days;
and as to how he does without him, he pins himself upon my Lord
Northampton, that learned piece of Popish craft. He is with him daily,
hourly, and by his advice rules all his actions, as he did by
Overbury's."

"Poor Overbury!" said Seymour; "I have no cause to love him; but yet I
cannot help pitying a man cast down by that bitterest stroke of
adversity, the falsehood and ingratitude of a friend."

"I pity him too," replied Killigrew, "which was the cause why I stayed
to speak to him. I know not what he has done to injure or offend you,
sir, that you say you have no cause to love him, but he seems most
anxious to see you, which, indeed, I was coming to tell you. Though I
cannot advise you to give way to his request, for by so doing,
perhaps, you may injure yourself with the Lieutenant of the Tower,
who, it seems, already dreads he shall be dismissed for the short
conversation I had with his prisoner."

"Oh, Wade is a good friend of mine," answered Seymour, "and is under
some obligations to my house. What did Sir Thomas say?"

"As near as I can recollect," replied Sir Robert Killigrew, "that it
would be a great consolation to him if he could speak with you or the
Lady Arabella. But take care what you do; for I cannot but think that
it is rash to make the attempt. The King's orders are most strict,
that no one, not his nearest friends, not his own father, should have
a moment's interview with him."

"I will see him, nevertheless, if it be possible," answered Seymour.
"The man who could refuse consolation, however small, to a poor
captive shut out from human intercourse, must have a cold heart
indeed, let the risk be what it may. I am sure you do not regret your
captivity for such a cause, Sir Robert?"

"I regret my captivity, whatever be the reason," replied the Knight;
"but yet I would do the same to-morrow, I confess."

"Well, I will go watch my opportunity," replied Seymour; "no one can
tell what changes may be made; but if they remove him to the Bell
Tower, beneath the lantern, or to one of the dungeons, the occasion
will be missed."

"Farewell, then, for the present," replied Sir Robert Killigrew; "I
had better not accompany you."

"Perhaps not," said Seymour.

Bidding him adieu, and then taking his way towards the tower in which
Sir Thomas Overbury was confined, he passed once or twice under the
windows without looking up, seeing that there were several persons in
the open space between the walls. At length, Overbury's window opened,
but Seymour marked what he did not, that there was a workman wheeling
a barrow round the other side of the tower, and, taking another turn,
he came back again, and looked around.

"Hist, hist!" cried the prisoner; "speak to me for a moment, Mr.
Seymour."

"I will be back in an instant," replied the other, "when I make sure
that we are not observed."

In a few minutes, he again paused beneath the window, the sill of
which was nearly level with his head, but a little above, and, looking
up, he said, "Now, Sir Thomas, the workmen have gone to dinner; there
is no one on the walls--what would you say?"

"Many things--many things," answered Overbury; "but the time is short,
and I cannot say all. I have injured you, Mr. Seymour,--you and the
Lady Arabella too. I would fain have your forgiveness, and beseech
hers. I did it to serve a faithless man, who has placed me within
these bars. I, it was, who informed the King of your meetings, and
brought about your ruin. Had I known that you were married, I would
have cut out my tongue ere I had uttered those words!"

"But did you not, likewise, Sir Thomas, write to warn her to escape?"
asked Seymour. "I have heard so on good authority, and that such was
one of your offences with the King."

"I did, I did," answered the Knight; "but it was too late."

"Well, then," rejoined Seymour, "the good act blots out the bad one.
You have my forgiveness freely, Sir Thomas; and I may well assure you
of my dear wife's also; for she it was who wrote to tell me you had
done so, with words of kindness and gratitude."

"God's blessing upon her!" cried the captive; "but I would fain do
more. You are aware, sir, doubtless, that a permission in due form,
under the King's own hand, was given for the lady's marriage to a
subject. Why not use it for a justification?"

"It has been urged already," replied Seymour; "but the King heeds it
not. It was given to the Lady Arabella by the Countess of Shrewsbury;
and we have demanded, all of us, if we have been guilty, that a public
trial should take place. But the laws are now the common mockery of
every idle fellow at the Court."

"It is so, indeed," replied Sir Thomas Overbury, in a sad tone; "I
know it but too feelingly. So, that is vain," he added, after a
moment's thought, "then, you have nothing left but flight."

"How can it be effected?" asked Seymour, in a doubtful tone.

"By you--as easily as the wind waves yonder flag," replied the Knight.
"Oh, had I but your liberty to walk about unwatched, I would place the
seas betwixt myself and England ere three days were over."

"But how--but how?" demanded Seymour. "If you show me how, I will
thank you indeed."

"In a thousand ways," answered the captive. "Why not, in a workman's
dress, at some unsuspected hour, take yonder barrow, and wheel it
through the gates? Who would stop you--who would ask a question? I
have seen it done a dozen times at least.--Why not, habited as a
carter, follow some empty waggon that has brought billets or
merchandize into the fortress?"

"The plan is not a bad one, in truth," said Seymour; "perhaps, if
driven to it, I may execute it."

"Driven to it!" exclaimed Sir Thomas Overbury. "Is not every man, who
is detained a captive here unjustly, driven to take measures for his
own deliverance? Or do you expect that the King will be mollified, and
give his kind consent to your re-union with your fair wife? Ah, my
good sir! you do not know the man. Were you aware of all that I could
tell, you would entertain no hope. Dark and dreadful, sir, dark and
dreadful are the secrets of that palace at Whitehall. But, if they
mind not what they do, and continue this persecution of an innocent
man, those secrets shall be told, let them affect whom they may."

"I beseech you, Sir Thomas Overbury," said Seymour, "be careful.
Remember, rash words may provoke revenge; and you are in the hands of
men both powerful and unscrupulous. Threats, I fear, will avail but
little."

"I have no other means!" exclaimed Sir Thomas, vehemently; "the hope
of truth, kindness, or justice from them is vain. 'Tis but from their
fears that I can entertain any expectations. But, hush!" he exclaimed,
"hush!--walk on, walk on! I see the Lieutenant coming along the wall."

Seymour, who was himself hidden by the tower, instantly proceeded in
the direction of another building, some way before him, with his arms
folded on his chest, and his eyes bent down to the ground, in
meditation on what he had just heard. He knew not that the Lieutenant
was coming in the opposite direction; but after he had walked forward
about a hundred yards, that officer came down by some steps from the
wall, and joined him, saying, "Give you good morning, sir; I hope you
are well to-day!"

"As well as one can be, Wade, in this place," replied Seymour, "and
that is not too well."

"Faith, sir, I do not know," answered Wade; "I feel myself very well
here, and do not wish to change."

"I am sure I hope you may remain, Wade," replied the prisoner; "as it
satisfies yourself; and your loss would be a sad stroke on me."

"Yet, Mr. Seymour, I am afraid we must both make up our mind to my
going," said the Lieutenant. "The crows of the Court are picking a
hole in my coat, because a gentleman, passing through, spoke for a few
moments with Sir Thomas Overbury, at his window, and I am to be
dismissed, it seems. Sir Gervase Elways has given the Lord Rochester a
thousand pounds, I hear, to have the post; so he is sure to get it. He
may have more to give before he has done, however."

"To what amount do you think?" asked Seymour, with a smile. "The
rapacity of these people is somewhat extensive."

"To the amount of his conscience and his soul, perhaps," replied the
officer, in a meaning tone. "But these things do not do to talk of, Mr.
Seymour, and if they drive me out so unjustly, I should much like to
take some who are within these walls along with me."

"Would to heaven you would make me of the number!" replied Seymour.

The Lieutenant gazed at him with a smile, and then answered: "You
know, sir, that there is not a man in the Tower whom I would sooner
see out of it than yourself, from gratitude to my good Lord of
Hertford. But in these matters, sir, every one must take care of
himself, and I fear I must not do anything to help you out."

"Thanks for your good wishes, Wade, at all events," replied Seymour.
"So poor Sir Thomas Overbury is kept a close prisoner?"

"Too close, sir," said the Lieutenant; "too close not to make men
think that the offence charged against him is but a pretext, and that
there is darker work below. I am not a man to serve their purposes,
however; and I fancy my crime is more refusing to let some persons
have access to him, than permitting others. My Lord of Rochester sent
a man here yesterday morning to wait upon him, as he said--a fellow
whose look I love not. So I told him that no one should wait upon a
close prisoner in my custody but my own servants. For them I can be
answerable, not for others. This is my true fault, sir. But you must
be good enough, in your walks, not to approach the Beauchamp Tower,
whatever you do, as, if any one is seen speaking with the poor man
again, I must place him in a less convenient room, and I do not wish
to deal harshly with one I so much pity."

"You are a good fellow, Wade," replied Seymour, shaking his hand; and,
leaving the Lieutenant, he walked on, saying to himself, "this is
something gained: Wade will shut his eyes as far as possible, that is
clear.--Escape, then, will be easy; but it must be executed before he
is removed."



                           CHAPTER XXXVII.


The morning meal was over at the house of Mr. Conyers; and the Lady
Arabella, rising from the table, approached one of the windows which
stood open, and gazed out upon the green lawn and the fine old trees,
while an expression of deep melancholy came over her face, which had
before been cheerful. As she thus stood, the master of the mansion
approached her, saying, "'Tis a beautiful day, lady; would you not
like to walk forth?"

"Not yet," answered Arabella. "I was thinking, Mr. Conyers, how
quietly life might pass in such a sweet place as this, without ever
stirring beyond those walls; and I was asking myself what it was that
made confinement within them so burdensome. Here I have almost all
that heart could desire,--a kind host and hostess, every luxury that
wealth can afford, fine sights before my eyes, sweet sounds for my
ear, the gentle breath of summer fanning my brow, and space as large
to roam through at my will as, to say sooth, a woman's feeble frame
can well wander over untired. And yet, I cannot school my heart to
content."

Mr. Conyers did not know well how to answer her. He was not willing to
jar a thoughtful mind with a trite common-place, and therefore he only
inquired, "Pray, how did you settle the question, dear lady?"

"I asked myself if liberty was all that I wanted," continued Arabella;
"that bright spectre, the reality of which man can never know on
earth; for, if we be not slaves to others, we are still slaves to our
own infirmities; and this flesh is the true prison after all. But I
have never sought much liberty. I have been right willing to bow my
designs to those of others, to yield ready obedience where, perhaps, I
had a right to resist, striving to make my own heart my world, where
no one can forbid the spirit from wandering in the garden which itself
has planted. I have sought little else but that. I will tell you what
it is that makes even this sweet spot a prison. It is not that I
cannot pass those gates; for, were I happier, I should never wish to
pass them. I have no desire for the wide world. But it is, that those
I love can never enter them,--that the friends who are dearest, the
hearts that cherish me, the souls with which mine is linked, have no
admission here. I will go weep," she cried, suddenly dashing a tear
from her dark eye-lashes--"I will go weep, and I shall be better
then."

Thus saying, she quitted the room, while Mr. Conyers stood in the
window with a sad and thoughtful brow.

"I will be gaoler no longer," he said, after a long pause; "this sweet
girl is shamefully ill-treated; and if an Englishman's rights and
liberties be really valuable, they should be as dear to me in the
person of another as of myself. I have served this King well enough,
without having this task thrust upon me. I will be a gaoler no longer,
and so I'll tell the King to-morrow when I see him."

"What are you muttering there, Conyers?" asked his wife, who was still
sitting at the table.

"I was saying, Joan," replied Mr. Conyers, "that I have had enough of
a bad and disgraceful task, which no one had a right to force upon me,
without even asking my consent. Let the servants know, that the strict
watch which I have seen kept up, without my orders, displeases me."

"But it was by the King's orders," replied the lady, "and you forget
that you lose all chance of promotion, if you disobey."

"Out upon promotion at such a price!" replied her husband. "I have
yielded to this too long. I am not a turnkey; my servants are not
spies, or, if they are, they shall stay no longer here. If the King
must have such vermin, let him keep them himself, I will not. What
right had he to impose such a trade upon me? and as I have never
promised to obey, I will do so no more. I even reproach myself that I
have done it so long already. The grief of the sweet lady touches me.
Were she harsh and vehement, proud and indignant under injustice, I
might feel it less; but she bears her wrongs with such gentle
meekness, even when she feels them most poignantly, that it were a
base heart indeed which did not share her sorrow and take its part
with her."

"Well, Conyers," answered the lady, "I grieve for her, too; but I see
no cause why you should sacrifice yourself for others; and you must
recollect that if she were anywhere else she might be treated still
more harshly."

"That comforts me for the past," answered her husband, "If I had
refused to receive her, others would have been found to undertake any
base work that a king may require of a subject; but I can bear it no
longer; and at all events none shall give orders in my house but
myself.--Baldock," he continued, as a servant entered to clear the
table, "call the men and women of the household hither. My own, I
mean, not the Lady Arabella's people."

The servant retired, and Mr. Conyers walked with a hasty step up and
down the room, still murmuring to himself, "It is too much."

In a few minutes the greater part of the household, which, as was the
case in every gentleman's establishment of those days, was about five
times as numerous as at present, was arrayed at the further end of the
room, displaying a number of somewhat anxious faces; for their
master's summons had been accompanied by an intimation from him who
bore it, that Mr. Conyers seemed somewhat angry.

"Shut the door," said that gentleman. "Now mark me, men and maids. I
have seen things that I dislike. No matter what. But a spy is a thing
I dislike, a base unworthy animal, which I will drive forth from my
house like mice or rats, or any other vermin. Let me have none of
them, or if I catch them, beware their ears.--You all know me well. I
love my people as my own family, while they are honest and true; but
no person, not the highest in the land, has a right to give orders in
this house but myself, and if those orders are disgraceful to a good
man of an upright heart, I will find means to punish him who obeys
them. You all understand me, so away without a word."

"Well, Conyers, you know best," replied his wife, as the servants
withdrew, "but I cannot help thinking----"

"Do not think at all, good wife," replied her husband, "except about
puddings and pies. In this matter I am determined, so take care that I
have no meddling. Tomorrow I go to the King, and shall tell him what I
think. He may send me to the Tower if he pleases; for it seems he may
put an English gentleman in gaol at his will, but he has no power to
make him a gaoler."

While these events were taking place below, Arabella retired to her
room, and for some time gave way to tears. She had just wiped away the
drops from her eyes, when Ida Mara entered and approached her in
silence, gazing upon that fair face, on which the recent marks of
grief were still evident.

"Dear lady, you are very sad," said Ida Mara, at length; "but
nevertheless I am in great hopes that in a few days you will be free.
I told you last night what I had heard, that the difficulties
respecting the papers of the ship were all removed, and that this day
she would be prepared to sail to whatever port you like."

"God send it," answered Arabella, "for though I am better in health,
Ida, I am very gloomy. This long absence from my husband, the
difficulties and dangers of this enterprise, the long, wide-spread,
misty blank of the future, all rise up before my mind, and agitate and
terrify me."

Ida Mara continued for some minutes in conversation with her mistress,
trying to soothe and cheer her; and when she had in some degree
succeeded, she added, "I hope I shall have more news for you in an
hour; for I must now go forth to see some one who has written, asking
me to come along the road to Hornsey. I do not know the hand, but it
is in good Italian, and may be from some of your friends."

"Well, go, then; go, Ida," replied the lady, "but take care. I always
fear for you, after that adventure you told me of in London; and what
should I do without you, my dear girl?"

"I have often thought of that, lady," replied Ida Mara; "but I have
less fear now. You have friends here, and there are fortunate
circumstances more than you know of."

"Indeed!" said Arabella. "What may they be?"

"First," answered Ida Mara, "Mr. Conyers has just told the servants
that he will have no spying into your actions, and is angry that you
have been so watched. This is a great point gained, for servants soon
learn to take the tone of their masters. But there is something more
which I have thought, for these three days, to speak to you about. I
often asked myself if the King's will, or anything else, were to take
me away from you, what you would do for assistance? Your maid Jane is
faithful enough, I believe; but she wants quickness, forethought, and
skill. A day or two ago, however, I found that you have another friend
in the house, the good woman Maude, who often comes in to see if she
can help you."

"Indeed!" cried Arabella; "I should not have thought it, for she is
somewhat rude and uncouth in speech."

"Ah, dearest lady!" replied Ida Mara, shaking her head, "they say, in
my country, that the sweetest oranges have the roughest rinds. She
came three days ago into my chamber, and talked long about you. The
good soul wept when she spoke of all that you have suffered, and said
such words of the King as would send her into prison, were they heard.
She said she was born upon the lands of your grandfather, Sir William
Cavendish, and I am sure, quite sure, from all she told me, that you
may trust to her entirely. She was sent here, it seems, the day of
your arrival, to see what was in the packet that Markham brought. She
laughed when she told me, saying, that, as it was, there was nothing
in it which might not be mentioned, but that if there had been, she
would have lost her eyes for the time, at all events. She is clever,
too, and shrewd, though in a homely way; but I am sure you might trust
her, lady, if anything should take me from you."

"Ida, tell me the truth," said Arabella, with an anxious look; "have
you heard anything that makes you suspect such a separation? Do you
believe that it is about to take place?"

"No, lady; no, dear lady," replied the fair Italian girl. "I have
heard nothing but what I have told you, in truth. I would not deceive
you on any account: no, not for your own good; for it is not right,
and I never saw anything but evil come of doing wrong. I know not how
it was, but when I saw this note written in a hand I did not know, a
foolish fancy came across my mind, I do not well know what,--a
fear--no, scarcely a fear,--a doubt; and I determined, ere I went, to
tell you what I thought of Maude."

"I wish you would not go, Ida," said the lady; "indeed, I wish you
would not go."

"Nay, but I must," answered Ida Mara; "they may wish to see me about
some point of vital consequence, on which your welfare would depend. I
must go, indeed; and the sun is getting high, so that I ought not to
tarry longer; I will be back again with all speed, dear lady. It was a
foolish fancy of mine,--idle and groundless, I am sure."

Thus saying, she kissed Arabella's hand, and withdrew.

For several minutes the lady sat in sad and apprehensive meditation,
with her eyes cast down towards the ground; but then she rose with a
sigh, and, covering her head, walked out into the grounds, sauntering
slowly along in the sunshine. After that, she sat herself down at the
foot of an old oak, the wide contorted branches of which, with their
thick covering of leaves, afforded a pleasant shade. Musing sadly, she
there remained for near an hour, raising her eyes from time to time
towards the gates, which she still kept within sight. Ida Mara,
however, did not appear, and Arabella became anxious.

In about a quarter of an hour, Mrs. Conyers came out and joined her,
trying to give her consolation, after her fashion; but she was not a
person with whom the poor captive's heart could feel at ease. She knew
her to be worldly and selfish; and though devoted to her husband, and
obedient to his wishes, there was a great difference in the manners of
the two, even when doing the same things, which Arabella felt with all
the sensitiveness of misfortune. Her presence, then, under the anxiety
which oppressed her, was a burden rather than a relief; and after
remaining, out of courtesy, for about a quarter of an hour, she rose,
and went back to her apartments.

Time passed, and Ida Mara did not come; and, at length, Arabella,
giving way to the feelings she could not restrain, wept long and
bitterly. Rousing herself, at length, she called her maid from a
neighbouring room, "Tell Cobham," she said, "to come to me instantly.
Ida has not returned?" she asked, with a last lingering hope.

"No, my lady," replied the maid; "Mistress Ida went out near three
hours ago, but has not yet come back. I wonder what can have become of
her."

"Send Cobham here," repeated Arabella, in a faint tone; and sitting
down again, she leaned her head upon her hand, with a sickening
feeling of desolation at her heart.

"Cobham," she said, as soon as the man appeared, "I am anxious about
my poor Ida Mara. She went out three hours ago to take a short walk
towards Hornsey, expecting to be back immediately, but she has never
returned, and I fear some evil has befallen her. I wish you would take
another man, and seek for her in that direction. Make inquiries of all
the people that you see, and bring me word what they say. You know how
dearly I love her."

"So does every body, madam," replied the man. "I would rather lose my
hand than that any ill should befal her. I will leave nothing undone
to find her, lady, and be back as soon as possible."

It was nearly evening when he returned, but he returned alone; and
Arabella, when from the window she saw him coming, hastened out
herself to meet him.

"Have you no news?" she cried; "have you no news?"

"Nothing satisfactory, lady," replied the man; "but I met a gentleman
about half an hour ago, who, when I made inquiries of him, drew me
aside from the other man, and asked me my name. I told him, and he
then gave me this note for you, telling me to bear it to you with all
speed, and to deliver it in secret. He said, moreover, that some of
the King's people had been about all the morning, adding, he doubted
not that they had taken the young gentlewoman--perhaps before the
Council. I came back to bring you the note, leaving my companion to
pursue the search; and now I will go back to help him, though I fear
it will be in vain."

"Go, go, good Cobham," replied Arabella, concealing the note in her
bosom with a trembling hand; "but be back at night, for I may need
you. And yet, no," she added, "I will not be so selfish. Seek my poor
Ida, wherever she is likely to be found. Bring me some tidings of her,
at all events.

"But if they have taken her away to the Court," answered the servant,
"they will never let me bring her back."

"It is not that I fear," said Arabella; "if she be at the Court, she
is at least in safety. But there are other things I dread, good
Cobham. She has enemies, as who has not? Seek for her, then, till
dark; and if you find her not, set out by day-break to-morrow for the
Court. To hear that she is there, will be a relief to me; but I
fear--I much fear it is not so. You will there gain tidings, however,
whether she has been brought before the King or not. If she have, I
shall be satisfied;--but indeed, indeed, I must have tidings of her."

"You shall, madam, if human power can gain them," replied the man;
and, while he proceeded to execute his task, Arabella returned to the
house.



                           CHAPTER XXXVIII.


"No news of her! no news of her!" said Arabella, addressing in a sad
tone the maid Jane, who was arranging some articles of dress in her
room.

"Indeed, lady," replied the maid, with a manner so much less earnest
than Arabella's own feelings, that it seemed to her harsh and cold,
"Indeed, lady, I am sorry to hear that; but I dare say the King's
people have got hold of her. They tried to question me one night at
Greenwich; and when I said I had nothing to tell, they threatened to
apprehend me, and bring me before the Council."

"I trust it is into their hands she has fallen," said her mistress,
"for then she has nothing to fear.--Now leave me, good girl, for I
would fain think over this matter."

The maid obeyed; and the moment she was gone Arabella locked the door,
drew forth the note from her bosom, and read it with eager eyes. As
she did so she trembled violently, and sank down into a chair,
murmuring, "Alone, alone!--All this to be done, and no one to help
me!--Oh, Ida, Ida, it was cruel to take you from me! What is to be
done? My thoughts are all in confusion. How can I ever carry this
through by myself?" And bending down her head, she leaned her forehead
upon her hand, and closed her eyes, as if seeking to still the busy
and hurrying images of danger and disaster which whirled through her
brain.

"But the good woman, Maude," she said, at length--"Ida told me she
would give me aid. Oh, can I trust her? And even if I can, 'tis sad to
have none but a stranger to rely on for support. Oh, Ida, dear, good
friend, where art thou now?--But it must be done. That girl Jane I can
place no trust in. She is cold and selfish; ay, and dull too. I must
speak to the woman Maude, and that directly." And rising, she unlocked
the door and called the maid.

"Jane," she said, "I wish you to remove all those things from the end
of the room into that little cabinet there, and----"

"Dear lady," exclaimed the girl, interrupting her, "I can never do it
by myself. I must have one of the men to help me."

"I was going to say you cannot do it by yourself," replied Arabella,
"but I will not have the men brought hither. Go and call good Mistress
Maude: she is strong and willing, and I know her."

The girl obeyed, and in a few minutes returned with the person she had
been sent to seek. Having received the directions of the lady, they
proceeded to execute them; and Arabella continued to gaze upon them as
they did so, with a hesitating, uncertain look, as if she wished to
speak, yet was afraid.

At length, however, when they had done, she broke silence, saying, "My
poor Ida, whom they have taken from me, tells me, Maude, that you were
born upon my grandfather's estate at Hardwick, in Derbyshire. I should
like much to talk with you about it, but have something to do just
now. Can you come to me in an hour?"

"Oh, yes, dear lady," replied the good woman. "I'll come without fail.
I often wished to tell you, but did not venture to speak to so great a
lady."

"A very poor one now," replied Arabella, "and never a very proud one,
Maude. Pray come."

"That I will, madam," answered the servant, and retired.

For half-an-hour more the maid Jane continued to bustle about the
chamber, doing but little, yet fancying herself very busy. At the end
of that time, however, she left the room, and before the hour was
fully gone, Maude was standing by the side of Arabella's chair. The
question of Hardwick and Sir William Cavendish was soon discussed; and
Arabella, looking up in the good servant's face, said, in a sad tone,
"My good mother, whom you talk of, never thought to see her child so
unhappy as I am; and she was spared the sight."

"'Tis a sad case, dear lady, 'tis a sad case," replied the servant.
"When I think of it, and how little you deserve such treatment, I
could tear the eyes out of that King, or cry."

"And now," said Arabella, "they have taken Ida Mara from me, at the
very moment I needed aid and comfort most; and I have none to help
me."

"Don't say that, lady; don't say that," cried the good woman; "I am
not like Mistress Ida, to be sure; for she is as gentle and clever a
young lady, as I am a rough and dull poor creature; but still I will
help you in any way that you may command, cost what it may."

"Will you, indeed?" asked Arabella, taking her hand, and gazing up
earnestly in her face.

"That I will, lady," replied the maid, "even if it goes with my head.
I never knew any one that would not help you; you get round
everybody's heart; and my poor master is half mad at being made your
gaoler. You have nothing to do but to command; I will obey you,
without one care for the rest."

Arabella covered her eyes with her hands, and burst into a violent and
sobbing fit of tears; for the words of affection and kindness, in
moments of deep sorrow and anxiety, seem, by their gentle touch, to
unfetter the strongest feelings of the heart, and leave them to break
forth in unrestrained emotion.

She soon recovered, however, and pressing the servant's hand in both
her own, she cried, "Thank you, thank you! Mr. Conyers said something
about going to the King tomorrow; do you know when he sets out?"

"At two, madam," said the good woman; "his horses are ordered at that
hour; and Mrs. Conyers goes with him."

"Oh, that will just do," exclaimed the lady, "for the hour named is
three. I must send the girl Jane away on some pretence."

"Oh, I will give her occupation, madam," replied Maude; "and if you
want people out of the way, that is the best time of all; for there is
a match of foot-ball on Highgate Green, and most of the men my master
does not take with him will be there, I dare say; for, when the cat's
away, the mice will play, you know, lady. Pray, have you any one you
love coming to see you? If you have, I will take care that gates shall
open, and doors be undone, without any one knowing aught about it."

"No," answered Arabella, timidly, and looking anxiously in the woman's
face to mark the effect produced by what she was about to say; "it is
not that, good Maude, but, on the contrary, I am going to see those I
love."

The woman looked surprised, and paused a moment thoughtfully, without
reply.

"Well, it does not matter," she said, at length, "whatever you wish I
will do, lady. But I hope you have friends without to take care of you
when you are there."

"Many," answered Arabella, "many, good Maude, watching for me
anxiously. If, therefore, you can contrive to give occupation to my
girl Jane, and come to me as soon as ever your master and mistress are
gone out, you will confer an everlasting obligation upon one, who will
never be unthankful, whether she have the means of showing her
gratitude or not."

"Fear not, lady; fear not, sweet lady," replied Maude; "nothing shall
stop me; and now I understand what you mean, all shall be ready. But I
suppose we shall have Master Cobham to help us?"

"Alas! no," replied the lady; "he is seeking for poor Ida; and I fear
will have occupation enough."

"Well, well, we can do without," rejoined Maude. "But I had better go
now, for fear people should suspect anything."

During the many hours which had yet to run ere Arabella's project of
escape could be executed, as may be well supposed, her mind continued
in a state of agitation and alarm, which would have overthrown her
corporeal powers, and rendered her unfit for the task, had not the
sweet hope of seeing him she so dearly loved given her support and
strength. Sleep visited her eyelids but little; and the very efforts
she made to overcome her apprehensions and invigorate herself for the
performance of her purpose, but tended to unnerve her.

She did her best, however, to appear cheerful and at ease in the
presence of Mr. and Mrs. Conyers; and Time, though his wings seemed
cut during the first hours of the morning, at length brought about the
moment she desired.

A little after two, she saw the coach, which contained her host and
hostess, roll away from the door of the house, followed by all the
train of servants and horses, which were the customary accompaniments
of ever so short a journey in those days, with people of wealth and
station. Almost immediately afterwards, while she was waiting in
agitated expectation for the coming of the good woman, Maude, her maid
Jane entered, and asked her mistress's permission to go out for a
short time, adding, in a deprecatory tone, "I have not been beyond the
gates for more than a fortnight."

Arabella gave the permission with almost too much readiness; and in
ten minutes after, she saw a gay party of men and maids take their way
up the gravel walk.

The next instant, there was a tap at the door; and Maude came in,
exclaiming, "Now, lady, now, the house is quite clear: there is nobody
left but the cook and myself, and the old butler, who is in the
buttery at the back of the house, corking the wine, and grumbling at
the young lads for leaving him alone, though he has given them
permission. I have brought you a cup of wine and a manchet, to
strengthen you for your walk."

"But I must dress first," cried Arabella, whose limbs would scarcely
support her. "I must not go in this garb."

"Take some wine, lady; take some wine," said her companion; "there is
much courage in the bottle. What dress shall I give you?"

Arabella put her lips to the cup which the woman held, and took a
small portion of the wine. "You will find it there, Maude," she said,
"in that cupboard. There is the key. It is wrapped in linen."

Her companion took the key, opened the closet, and brought out the
packet, which had by this time been opened; but, as she carried it to
the bed-side, a sword fell out, and starting she exclaimed, "Why,
goodness, lady, it is a man's dress!"

"Ay, good Maude," answered Arabella, while the colour rose warmly into
her cheek. "I could not hope for security in any other guise. You must
help me to put it on, for I am so little accustomed to such a thing
that I should never accomplish it alone."

"Oh, I have seen many a lady in a man's dress," answered Maude, "in
masques and mummings, in the Queen's time. Take heart, take heart,
dear lady; do not let that frighten you. It matters not much what be
the garb, so that you be safe under it. Here is a goodly doublet,
trimmed with bugles. You had better put this on first. Let me untie
your dress, lady--ay, it is pinned, I see. Come, come, let me help
you, I will do it as soon again; your hands tremble so."

Arabella's gown was soon stripped off; and, in its place, her fair
form was clothed in a velvet coat, though, to say truth, it needed
some artful filling out to make it in any degree fit her slender
waist.

"Why, these wide French hose," cried Maude, taking them up from the
bed upon which she had laid them, "are as good as a petticoat at any
time."

"Better for my purpose," answered Arabella, with a faint smile. "Yet I
think I should die with shame to be seen in them, were it not for so
great an object. That cloak is very large, however, and will nearly
hide me altogether."

Some farther progress was then made in dressing her, and a long pair
of russet boots with red tops, the least in size that Markham could
procure, were drawn over her small feet and slender limbs. She was
obliged to take them off again, however, for they were still too
large.

"In truth," she said, "they will take slippers and all. Give me the
shoes, good Maude. Now for the rapier," she continued, when the boots
were once more fitted on. "Heaven send I have not to draw it; for I
fear the sight of a sword well nigh as much as the King."

The cloak was then put on, and a large black hat, having some of the
long locks of hair--at that time in fashion amongst men--fastened into
the crown, was pulled over her fair brow.

"There now," cried Maude; "you are as gallant-looking a young cavalier
as I should wish to look at."

"A sad, faint-hearted one," answered Arabella. "Run, good Maude, run
and see if the way be clear. I fear my little strength will fail me,
if we stay long."

"Finish the wine, lady; finish the wine, and take some bread with it,"
answered her companion. "I will go and make sure that all is right.
Drink the wine, I beseech you. You need not think of your head. Fear
will take off the effect."

Thus saying, she sped away, and returned in a few minutes, saying,
"All is safe, the cook is by the kitchen fire, sound asleep; and I
hear old Jones thumping at his bottles. The door is wide open, and the
iron gates unlocked. Come, lady, come, you had better lose no time."

"Come with me to the iron gates, Maude," said Arabella, in a
beseeching tone; "I can scarcely keep my feet."

"That I will, lady," answered the good woman.--"Courage, courage! the
worst of the business is over."

"Would that it were," answered Arabella, leaning on her arm and
proceeding down the stairs.

Nothing occurred, however, to increase her apprehension; all was
silent in the house, the quiet sunshine sleeping on the hall-floor,
and the insect world buzzing without. Not a sound met the ear, but
that hum, and the sighing of a light wind through the trees. Making a
great effort, Arabella quitted the arm of her companion, when they
issued forth from the door, and, walking with an unsteady step along
the path, soon reached the gates. There, Maude drew one of the valves
back, and the lady put a ring into her hand.

"No, no," she said, "I will none of it. Keep diamonds for yourself,
lady; but if you will give me something, I will take your gloves which
lie upon the table, just to think of you by."

"Take anything, good Maude," replied Arabella; "and, above all, my
truest thanks."

Thus saying, she passed out, and the maid closed the gates, and
retreated.

Arabella stood alone, for a moment or two, in the open road, with her
heart faint, and her brain turning round. She felt lonely, desolate,
ashamed, terrified; she was like some domesticated bird just escaped
from its cage, not knowing which way to turn in the wide world around
her.

The next instant, however, her eye fell upon the form of a man, well
dressed, and of gentlemanly air, in the lane which ran under the walls
of the grounds. Her first impulse would have led her to push open the
gate and run back; but, the moment after, she thought she recognised
the person who was now approaching, though she had last seen him in a
very different garb.

"Oh! it is--it must be--I am sure it is Markham," she cried, panting
for breath; and then, running on, she met him and caught his arm for
support.

"Right! right! This is all right, lady," he said; "everything is
ready; I have horses at hand--a boat waits you at Blackwall--a ship at
Leigh."

"But my husband! my husband!" said Arabella.

"He is by this time free," replied Markham; "you will soon see him. My
Lord of Hertford commends himself to you, and has sent down men and
maids to meet you."

"But my poor Ida Mara," asked Arabella; "have you heard of her?"

"No, indeed," answered Markham; "she must have been apprehended; but
if so, she is quite safe. Come, lady, come."

Supporting her by the arm, Markham hurried on down the lane towards
Newington, and through several other intricate turnings and windings,
the rapid pace at which they went relieving the lady, in some degree,
from her fears, by preventing her thoughts from resting on her own
situation. She felt tired and exhausted, however; when, at the
distance of about a mile and a half from Mr. Conyers' house, they came
within sight of the small road-side inn, called "The Rose." Three
strong horses stood before the door, with a man holding them, and a
gentleman looking up the road.

"That is Crompton," said Markham; "an old friend of your family."

"How much I have to thank you all for," answered Arabella; and the
next minute Crompton, advancing, took her by the hand, exclaiming,
"How are you, sir? I am very happy to see you here."

The moment she paused, however, agitation and apprehension took
possession of her again.

"I feel sick and faint," she said; and the ostler, who was holding the
horses, remarking her face turn deadly pale, inquired, "Shall I call
for some wine? The young gentleman seems ill."

"No, no," answered Arabella; "some water. I am only fatigued with a
long quick walk."

Water was accordingly brought; and then Markham, approaching to assist
her, said, "We are rather late; we had better make haste."

He then aided her to mount, while Crompton paid the ostler, who shook
his head, observing, "The young gentleman will hardly hold out to
London, I think." But the moment after, her paleness disappeared,
blood mounted into her face, and, with a crimson cheek, she rode on
with Markham.

Crompton followed them immediately, and, pursuing the by-paths, with
which they were well acquainted, the two gentlemen led her at a quick
pace towards Blackwall. They reached the shore of the river about six
o'clock, and there they found waiting a boat with four oars,
containing two of her old men-servants, and two women.

"We will see you down the river," said Markham; "but Crompton and I
must there leave you. The boat behind contains your apparel and Mr.
Seymour's."

"But my husband!" asked Arabella, in a low voice; "Where is my
husband, sir?"

"He will follow, he will follow," answered Markham. "Sit here, sir,"
said Crompton, giving a sign to Markham to be cautious; "remember,
lady," he continued, in a whisper, "these boatmen know nothing of the
scheme;" and, ordering the rowers to pull away, they were soon
skimming over the bosom of the Thames.

The boat directed its course at once to Gravesend, which they reached
two or three hours after nightfall.

"We must land here for a moment or two," whispered Crompton to the
lady; "but Markham will arrange with the men to take you on, while you
get some refreshment."

Poor Arabella did all they wished; and though it was not without
difficulty that her companions persuaded the rowers to go on to Leigh,
a large bribe ultimately induced them to consent, and the lady and her
companions were soon once more upon the Thames. The night,
fortunately, was warm and clear; and although Arabella was wearied and
exhausted with anxiety, exertion and want of repose during the
preceding night, she closed not an eye, but watched the progress of
the boat, with her thoughts full of him she loved; the hope of soon
seeing him mingling with fears for his safety, and giving plentiful
occupation for the busy mind during the whole night.

At length the sky began to glow with the first beams of the morning;
and a ship of considerable size was seen lying about a mile farther
down the river.

"There is the vessel, lady," whispered Markham, "which I hope will
soon bear you and your husband safe to the shores of France."

"Perhaps he may be on board already," said Arabella, raising her head,
which had been drooping with pure lassitude. "That indeed would give
me new life."

"Perhaps he may be so," replied Markham, "but yet I doubt it. The wind
is freshening for your voyage, however."

"We must stay for him, at all events," cried Arabella; "if he has not
escaped, I cannot make up my mind to go."

"Indeed you are wrong," answered her companion, in the same low tone;
"recollect, it is you who are the subject of the King's persecution,
not Mr. Seymour. You once safe in a foreign land, his liberation would
soon follow. I doubt not, ere three months were over, the King's full
consent to your union would be given, in order to induce you to
return."

Arabella saw that there was some truth in what he said; but her mind
took instant alarm at Markham's words. "I think you are apprehensive
that he has not escaped," she said, in as firm a tone as she could
command.

"No, indeed I am not," he replied; "I feel confident he has; for Sir
George Rodney, Sir Harry West, and many faithful friends, are all
aiding him, and Wade, the Lieutenant of the Tower, disgusted at the
treatment of the Court, will keep no very watchful eye upon his
prisoner."

"God send it," cried Arabella.

"We shall soon know," rejoined Markham, "for he must be here in an
hour at the latest."

"I hope--I trust, he is on board already," answered Arabella. "I have
a fancy that it is so; and she went on buoying herself up with the
happy expectation, till they were alongside of the vessel, and she
could see the people upon deck."

Her husband was not amongst them. "He may be below," she thought, and
her first question, when lifted into the vessel was, "Has Mr. Seymour
arrived?"

The answer was in the negative; and the hope which had supported her
during the last two hours being taken away, she sank at once,
fainting, into the arms of Crompton, who was aiding her to her seat.

It was long ere she recovered herself sufficiently to speak; and then,
gazing around her, she found herself in the cabin of the vessel, with
the two maids who had been waiting for her at Blackwall, using means
to bring her to herself. She closed her eyes again, for Seymour was
not there. In about twenty minutes after, there was a knock at the
door; and starting up, she exclaimed in a weak tone, but eagerly,
"Open it, open it, perhaps he has come."

But it was only Markham who appeared.

"Dear lady," he said, approaching her side, "Mr. Seymour has not
arrived, and there is nothing to be seen of him, as far as we can see
up the river. Every moment that you stay endangers your safety. If he
has escaped, he has gone to some other port; if not, your remaining
here is ruinous to him and to yourself."

"Half an hour, yet half an hour," cried Arabella; "I beseech, entreat
you, my kind friend, stay but that short space."

"Be it as you will, madam," replied Sir Griffin Markham, in a grave
tone; "but that one half hour may be regretted bitterly hereafter,
when it cannot be recalled."

"Well then, half that time," said Arabella; and bowing, the gentleman
retired, giving orders to have everything ready to set sail the
instant the signal was given.

The quarter of an hour was barely at an end, when he again went down,
and approaching Arabella, said, "Now lady, now, remember, the safety
of many others is compromised, as well as your own."

Arabella closed her eyes, and a slight shudder passed over her; but
she made no reply.

Sir Griffin Markham, however, took her silence for a mark of
acquiescence, and going back to the foot of the ladder, exclaimed to
those on deck, "Away! Set sail!" and Arabella turned round upon the
couch and deluged it with tears.



                            CHAPTER XXXIX.


We must now turn to the events which were taking place in the City of
London on the same day, but a little before the hour at which the Lady
Arabella made her escape from the house of Mr. Conyers.

Anxiously William Seymour had counted every moment during that
morning, till he saw at length a large cart, loaded with billets of
wood, enter the open space before the old palace, and slowly approach
the door which led to the apartments he inhabited. He had nobody with
him, and descending himself to speak with the carter, he paid him for
the wood, showed him where to place it; and then saying, "I will send
one of my people back with you," he retired quickly to his chamber,
locked the door, and began hastily to change his dress. The entire
suit of a common mechanic had been already prepared for him, and was
soon put on, making a great change in his figure and appearance; but a
quantity of jet black hair had been also provided, which, with a beard
of the same colour, skilfully managed by the hands of a French artist
for some of the mummings of the Court, completed his disguise.

By the time that all this was arranged, the wood was unloaded; and,
going down, he addressed the carter, saying, "Now, my man, you had
better move away, they will not let you stay here long."

"The gentleman told me he would send down one of his people," replied
the man.

"Well, I am one of his people," answered Seymour. "What do you want? A
draught of beer I suppose? but we have none here for you in the Tower.
There's a groat for you, however, to buy some beer."

The man took the money, whipped his horses, and moved dully on at
their head, while Seymour, leaning his hand on the back part of the
cart, followed, as if he was one of those attached to it. Proceeding
at a slow pace onward, they soon reached the great western gate of the
Tower, where no question was asked, and the cart, with those who
accompanied it, was suffered to go out, though two or three persons
belonging to the fortress, and a guard, were under the archway at the
time. The carter then turned along the Tower wharf, but perversely
stopped for a minute to speak a word to one of the warders at the
south gate as he passed.

Seymour, however, though we must not say he felt no alarm, continued
carelessly to lean on the back of the vehicle, till the man had done,
and then followed as before, saying a word to him from time to time,
to keep up the appearance of companionship. The last point of danger
was the iron gate at the other end of the wharf; but it was opened to
let them out without inquiry, and in a moment after the prisoner felt
himself a free man again.

He was scarcely in the open street, when a gay-looking gentleman
touched him on the arm, saying aloud "Hollo, my man, are you not one
of Mr. Seymour's people?"

"I am Lord Beauchamp's cooper, sir," answered Seymour, with a low bow.
"Sir George Rodney, I think?"

"Yes," replied the Knight; "I want to speak with you, my good fellow;
come hither with me."

"I must go," said Seymour, addressing the carter; "good afternoon,
comrade;" and, following Rodney, he hurried on through a number of
narrow streets to a good-sized house on the other side of Tower Hill.
The door was instantly opened to receive him; and, a moment after, Sir
Harry West embraced him joyfully, exclaiming, "Welcome, welcome, my
dear William! your brother is within there. Take a hasty farewell, and
let us go."

"The boat is not come up," said Rodney.

"Where is Lady Arabella?" asked Seymour; "where is my dear wife?"

"On her way to Leigh by this time," answered Sir Harry West; "at least
so I hope and trust. Run down, and see for the boat, Sir George. For
Heaven's sake, let us not lose time!"

"I will be back ere you can wink," replied Rodney; and while he was
gone, Seymour proceeded to a small room, where several of his friends
and relations were assembled.

While they were still in the midst of their congratulations, Sir
George Rodney returned, saying the boat was ready, but that some of
the yeomen of the guard were walking about suspiciously upon Tower
Hill.

"Let me see, let me see!" exclaimed Sir Harry West; and he and Rodney
went to the door, with one of the servants who was in their
confidence.

In an instant he returned, however, saying that the men were merely
lounging about; and, taking leave of his friends, Seymour issued forth
with the servant we have mentioned, whose garb harmonized better with
the disguise he wore, than the dress of Rodney and the old Knight.

The two gentlemen followed only a step behind; but, ere they had gone
thirty yards upon Tower Hill, and just as they were passing a party
comprising two men, one walking on either side of a young and
lady-like woman, a quick cry burst from the girl's lips, and she
darted towards Sir Harry West.

The two men caught her instantly by the arm; but at the same moment
the old Knight threw himself directly in their way, exclaiming, "It is
Ida Mara!"

"Quick, quick!" said Rodney, in a low voice, to the servant; "take him
into the tobacconist's on the other side of the hill. We will be with
you in a minute;" and while Seymour, after whispering, "See to her
safety--see to her safety, for Heaven's sake," hurried on to a house
which then stood a little beyond the spot where the Royal Mint now
appears, Rodney returned to the old Knight, between whom and the men
that were holding Ida Mara, high and angry words were now passing.

"I tell you we have the King's orders," said one of the two;
"interrupt us if you dare!"

"I certainly shall dare," replied Sir Harry; "for I believe you to be
uttering a gross falsehood, sir. You are not one of the King's
servants, I know; and it is but a fortnight ago since I saw you
drawing cold iron upon a servant who was accompanying this very young
gentlewoman. Aid me, Rodney, to apprehend these men."

"Take care," whispered Rodney; "you will have the guard up."

"I fear there's no other course," answered Sir Harry, quickly; "we
must act boldly."

"Have with you, then," cried Rodney; and turning to the men, who were
whispering together, without losing their hold of Ida Mara, he
exclaimed, "Will you set the lady free, curs; or must I make the sun
shine through you?" and he laid his hand upon his sword.

At that moment, however, three of the stout yeomen of the guard were
seen coming from the gate towards them; and, perceiving that there was
no other resource, Sir Harry West called to them, and beckoned with
his hand. The yeomen instantly began to run, and the old Knight, as
they approached, exclaimed, "Here, guard! guard! These men are using
the King's name on a false pretence."

"What is the matter--what is the matter?" cried a warder, who was at
their head. "We will have no tumults on Tower Hill."

"The matter is," replied Sir Harry West, "that these two men are
detaining this young gentlewoman against her will, pretending that
they have the King's orders. Now, I am sure that is false. Look at
that fellow's face, how white it turns at the very sight of the yeomen
of the guard; and this other man I know for the servant of a quack
impostor, here about town."

"If it be so," said the burly warder, in a rough tone, "we will souse
them in the river; but we must carry them before the Lieutenant first.
Lay hands on them, my men; and you, sir, come along with us too; for
we must have proof against them."

"That man's face is proof enough," replied Sir Harry West, hesitating,
"and I was going with this gentleman on business of importance."

"See, see!" cried one of the men, who had been holding Ida Mara; "he
is afraid to make good his charge. He knows he cannot do it."

"Well, I will go," answered Sir Harry West. "Rodney, you must proceed
and finish the business alone. You can speak my sentiments to the
other gentlemen concerned, and explain to them the cause of my
absence. I will go with you, Ida," he continued. "Do not fear. In the
hands of the King's yeomen you are quite safe."

"I fear nothing when you are with me, kind Sir Harry," replied the
girl.

"Come along, then," said the warder. "Sir Harry?--I wonder if you are
Sir Harry West!" he continued, looking at the old Knight. "I am sure
you are, too. Why, I served with you, sir, in Ireland, against Tyrone.
Come along, sir--come along! We'll soon settle this matter. I would
take your word against a thousand;" and the whole party walked on
towards the gate of the Tower.

In the meanwhile Sir George Rodney hastened to rejoin Seymour, whom he
found with the servant in the shop to which they had been directed. A
few rapid questions were asked by Seymour in regard to the sudden
appearance of Ida Mara; for, as may well be supposed, he felt some
alarm respecting Arabella herself. Rodney, however, had been informed
by Markham, that the fair Italian had been missed from Highgate on the
day before; and, having satisfied his friend on this point, they
proceeded to the water-side. But half an hour had already been lost;
and when they reached the bank of the river, the boat, which had been
prepared, was not to be found. After some inquiries, they entered a
wherry, and rowed towards the stairs to which they were told it had
been removed. But more time was thus lost, and, in all, nearly an hour
and a half was consumed fruitlessly. It turned out, that the person
appointed to steer the barge, a faithful but timid man, attached to
the House of Hertford, had twice taken fright at some accidental
events which he thought suspicious.

When, at length, he saw his young master in the boat, however, he
regained confidence; and, steering boldly past a party of the Royal
officers who were going from Greenwich to Whitehall by water, he
guided the vessel skilfully through the shipping in the pool and down
the river. The rowers plied their oars diligently; but the time which
had been lost, deprived them of the tide; and by the time they came
opposite to Erith, it was running strong against them. Thus day broke
before they reached Tilbury, and the wind, freshening and considerably
agitating the water, retarded them still more. About nine o'clock, the
weary rowers came in sight of Leigh; but, to their disappointment, no
ship was seen at anchor there, though two or three vessels under sail
were apparent at some distance.

It was now evident, both to Seymour and Rodney, that the boatmen could
go no farther; and, landing at Leigh, they hired a fishing-smack to
convey them to a ship, which they had both fixed upon as the one that,
according to the account of the people on the shore, had been lying
there for two days, and had set sail about an hour before. The two
gentlemen were soon embarked, and in the light boat which they had
engaged, they overtook the larger and heavier vessel, still in the
mouth of the river. But it proved to be merely a Dutch brig, the
captain of which would alter his course for no man, and an eager
consultation was held between Seymour and his friend as to what was
next to be done.

"Here comes a large vessel, apparently light, and in full sail," said
Rodney; "if you will take my advice, you will board her at once, and
hire her, at any price, to carry you to France. The wind is fair, when
once you are out of the river; and your friends here will let you know
where to rejoin the Lady Arabella; for she has certainly escaped,
otherwise the Frenchman would not have set sail."

"That is my comfort," replied Seymour; "that is my comfort! She
sacrificed all for me; and, knowing that she is safe, I care little
what fate befals myself."

The plan proposed by the Knight was accordingly adopted. The vessel
towards which they now directed their course proved to be a collier
returning to Newcastle; and, for the sum of forty pounds, the skipper
consented to land Mr. Seymour on the French coast.

Taking leave of Rodney, then, with many expressions of gratitude, the
fugitive bade adieu to the shores of England, not to return for years.
The day was beautiful, the wind was fair and strong, and before
evening the faint white cliffs of France were visible over the blue
sea, spreading wider and wider as the ship sailed along. Shortly
after, the distant sound of a cannon struck the ears of those on
board; and Seymour asked, "What can that be? The day is fine, the wind
not high,--it cannot be a signal of distress!"

"It may be, sir," answered the master; "at sea, there is no knowing
when an accident may happen."

But another, and another gun was heard, and then came a short pause;
after which three more were fired in rapid succession; and Seymour,
gazing anxiously from the stern, perceived some vessels, at the
distance of seven or eight miles, in the direction of Pegwell Bay,
with a wreath of white smoke streaming from the farthest of them. The
next instant a flash crossed the cloud, and then a second; and after
the lapse of some short time, the report of cannon was again heard.
The smoke now nearly concealed the ships, but, to the number of
thirteen times, the same sounds reached the fugitive's ear; and then
all was still again.

His heart was ill at ease. He would fain have persuaded himself that
the event which gave him so much anxiety must be caused by some
accidental circumstance, unconnected with the fate of her who had
sacrificed so much for him; that Arabella must near that period have
well nigh reached the French coast; but apprehension, more strong than
argument, would not be stilled, and, sitting down by the helm, he
buried his eyes in his hands.

He felt then,--whatever joy he might experience at his own
escape--that the best right of man, the best gift of earth, was poor
without her he loved,--that liberty itself was nothing without
Arabella!



                             CHAPTER XL.


We must now return for a time to the party which we left upon
Tower-Hill. The warder and Sir Harry West walked on talking together,
with poor Ida Mara keeping close to the Knight's side, till they were
within about thirty yards of the gate of the Tower. Then, however, a
slight noise behind caused the good soldier to turn round, exclaiming,
"Look sharp to those two men!"

But his command came too late; for at the very same moment that it was
uttered, the personage who had been foremost in detaining the fair
Italian, darted past the yeoman next him, and, at full speed, ran away
in the direction of Petty Wales. The yeoman gave chase, while his
companion seized the collar of the other man; but the pursuit was
vain, for, embarrassed by his somewhat cumbrous clothing, and being
rather fat and pursy withal, the soldier lost ground every minute, and
the fugitive disappeared amidst the lanes and alleys, to which he
directed his steps.

In the meanwhile, the other man was dragged into the Tower by the
neck; and the good old Knight, following with Ida Mara, desired to see
the Lieutenant as speedily as possible, in order to ensure her
liberation. While the warder was gone for that purpose, Sir Harry West
inquired in a whisper, whether Ida really thought that the people, in
whose hands he found her, had authority from the King.

"I know not, indeed," she replied; "they always told me they had; but
I cannot help thinking that, if it were so, they would have brought me
before him yesterday. Instead of that, they took me to a lonely house
on a heath, which I heard them call Hampstead, and there they kept me
locked up till this morning. They then brought me down into the town,
and kept me for an hour in a house out in that direction,"--and she
pointed eastward with her hand, "where a woman, dressed in very fine
clothes, came and looked at me, but said nothing, and went away again.
After that, I was told they must take me to Whitehall: and they were
carrying me along thither, when I saw you; and I think," she added, in
a lower tone, "Mr. Seymour, too."

"Hush!" said the Knight; "not a word of that;" and as he was still
speaking, the warder returned to conduct him to the Lieutenant's
lodging.

The man who had been kept without, in the porch of the gateward tower,
was ordered to follow, with a yeoman to guard him; and making Ida
Mara, who seemed weary and faint, lean upon his arm, Sir Harry
accompanied the warder between the walls, and was soon in the presence
of Wade, the lieutenant.

That officer, at the first mention of Sir Harry's name, had ordered
him to be admitted, though he was in conversation at the time with a
gentleman from the Court, who had come upon the pretence of paying a
visit to Mr. Seymour, but in reality to smooth down the irritated
feelings of the Lieutenant, and induce him to resign his post quietly,
without calling attention to the transaction by remonstrance or
resistance. A servant had been sent to the apartments of Seymour, to
know whether he would admit Sir Charles Warner to speak with him; and
the man returned, almost at the same moment that the good old Knight
and his fair companion entered the Lieutenant's room.

Sir Harry might perhaps have felt a little alarmed, if he had known
the servant's errand; but the first words he heard were: "I have been
to Mr. Seymour's, sir, and there saw one of his gentlemen, who says
that his master is in bed with a raging headache, and cannot see any
one; he would not even go in to tell him."

"Oh! never mind, never mind," replied Warner; "I will see him another
day--Master Lieutenant, I will wait a little till you have dispatched
this other business, for our conversation was growing interesting.
Good morning, Sir Harry West."

"To me extremely so, sir," answered the Lieutenant. "Sir Harry, I am
your humble servant. What is this affair the warder tells me of? Pray
be seated, young lady. The case does not seem to come within my
cognizance."

"It is simply this, sir," replied the old knight. "This young lady I
have long known, and dearly love, as to her I owe my life, she having
nursed me through the plague some years ago. She is now a gentlewoman
attending on the Lady Arabella Seymour; and on crossing Tower-hill but
now, I met her, hurried along against her will by two men, one of whom
I know to be the servant of a rank impostor and conjurer, one Doctor
Foreman."

"Oh! I have seen him," replied the Lieutenant; "he is a knave, if ever
there was one."

"Ay, and has many ways of knavery," said Warner; "the report goes,
that many have suffered from his practices."

"But what excuse do the men urge," asked the Lieutenant, "for using
this violence to the lady?"

"They say they are commanded by the King to bring her before him,"
answered Sir Harry West.

"I never said so," exclaimed the man, who was standing guarded by a
yeoman near the door; "my comrade did, and so he told me, too."

"But where did they first lay hands upon the lady, and when?" asked
the Lieutenant, looking towards Ida Mara.

"It was yesterday, somewhat before noon," she replied, in her sweet
musical Italian voice. "I had gone out for a short time from Mr.
Conyers' house, where the Lady Arabella now lodges, to walk amidst the
lanes in the neighbourhood, when these two men, with a third, whom I
did not well see, though I think I know him, seized upon me suddenly,
and, saying that it was in the King's name, carried me to a place
called Hampstead; where, in the midst of a wide heath, close by a deep
wood, they placed me in a lonely house, and kept me all the day. I
demanded to be brought immediately before the King, but they only
laughed at me; and when I would not eat the food they brought, they
said that hunger would soon teach me better."

"And why would you not eat, may I ask?" said the Lieutenant.

"Because I was afraid of poison," answered Ida Mara. "The man who I
think was with them, is one named Weston, who I know deals in such
drugs, and, I fear, fatally."

"Why, that was Weston who was with me just now," exclaimed the fellow
at the door. "Some say he is Dr. Foreman's son, and some his nephew."

"And do you pretend," asked the Lieutenant, "that you have any
commission from the King?"

"Not I, sir," replied the man; "'twas Weston said so, and he told me
the same story, engaging me to go with him, and promising me a noble
for my reward."

"The case seems very clear," said the Lieutenant; "the King would
never employ such instruments as these; and I think, Sir Harry, that I
had better keep the fellow for the stocks, and send the gentlewoman
away with you."

"It were the more prudent course," said Warner, interposing, "to
convey them both to the King. His Majesty's name having been used, we
cannot take upon ourselves to judge what people he, in his wisdom, may
think fit to employ; and, as the other man, it seems, is no longer
here, from what the warder said, to answer for himself, none is so fit
to investigate the matter as his Majesty."

"Of course, of course," said the Lieutenant; "and as your reasons seem
to me just, Sir Charles, I think I must act upon them.--Do you not
think so, Sir Harry West?"

"That you must decide yourself," replied Sir Harry; "but if such be
your determination, I will ask you to wait for half an hour, till I
can send two of my own men to accompany this fair lady to the Court,
and guard her back to my house, in case the King should not detain her
at the palace; for I have myself business which takes me in a
different direction."

"I must return to Highgate with all speed, dear Sir Harry," exclaimed
Ida Mara; "the Lady Arabella will, I know, be alarmed at my long
absence."

The old Knight mused, and then answered, "It will be too late to
return to-night; but I will let the lady know that you are safe, as
soon as letter or messenger can reach her. But you will need
refreshment, too, my poor child?"

"That she shall have while waiting for your men," replied the
Lieutenant; "and fatherly care, depend upon it. Come, fair lady, I
will take you to good Mrs. Wade, my maiden sister, who has a tender
compassion for all distressed damsels, and will show you all kindness
and courtesy."

"The servants shall be here with all speed," said Sir Harry, rising.
"Farewell, my dear child; we shall meet again, I trust, ere night.
Then you shall tell me more of your adventures."

The Lieutenant, according to his word, led poor Ida Mara to his
sister, who fulfilled his promise of showing her kindness; and, about
half an hour after, she was placed in a boat, with good Matthew Lakyn
and another servant of Sir Harry West's, as well as a yeoman of the
guard, and the man who had remained in custody. It took them near an
hour to reach Whitehall, for the tide had not yet turned in their
favour; and the fair Italian was kept waiting for an equal space of
time in a corridor, exposed to the gaze of all the passers by, and to
the coarse observations of several of them.

At length, however, an usher approached with a rapid but silent step,
and told her to follow to the presence of the King. She found the
Monarch in his closet with several gentlemen, some of whom she knew by
sight, while the rest were strangers to her. Accustomed as she had
been for some years to see the monarch daily, Ida Mara easily judged
that he was in no very placable humour, by the way in which he moved
about in his chair, and lolled his tongue out of his mouth.

"What's this, my woman, what's this?" he said, when she appeared. "No
sooner have we done with one pother about the Lady Arabella, our
headstrong kinswoman, than there comes another. Our Lieutenant at the
Tower sends us word that you have been carried off forcibly from
Highgate. What did these fellows say?"

"That it was by your majesty's commands," replied Ida Mara, "and
consequently I obeyed implicitly."

"The condemned liars!" cried the King; "but you did right, lassie; you
did right. What may this mean, my Lord Northampton? Why should any two
men seek to carry off this young gentlewoman, and use our name to
further their purposes?"

"In truth, sire," replied the Earl, "if your majesty's keen judgment
does not perceive the cause, it is vain for me to seek it; but I
cannot help thinking that the King has already judged of the matter,
and inquires but to show our want of skill."

"We have an inkling, we have an inkling," answered James, laughing,
"and will send off to Highgate this very afternoon. Tell me, pretty
mistress, have you ever given the Lady Arabella any offence?"

"None, may it please your majesty," replied Ida Mara, eagerly. "I have
ever striven to serve her faithfully and well, owing her my first
duty, after God and your majesty."

"Ay, but," demanded the King, "may she not think, that your first duty
was owing to her, before God and myself?"

"I trust not, sire; I trust not," replied Ida Mara, timidly, and not
knowing what was to come next. "I have always heard the Lady Arabella
express herself most submissively towards your majesty."

"That's right, that's right," said the King; "submission in words is
something, but we must have submission in deeds too, before we grant
favour. And so, she never complained to you of the restraint to which
we have thought it right, for her own good and that of the state, to
subject her?"

"Never, sire," replied Ida Mara, simply; "I have seen her weep often;
but never heard her complain."

"That's right, that's right," repeated James; "but yet it's just
possible, mistress, that she may have been deceiving you."

"Oh no," cried Ida Mara, with the blood mounting to her cheek. "I do
not think that she is capable of deceiving any one."

"We shall see, we shall see," answered the King. "And so these men
told you that I had commanded them to seize you. When was this,
lassie?"

"Yesterday morning, towards noon," replied Ida Mara, "and they
persisted in the same story to-day, when I met Sir Harry West on Tower
Hill, and asked his protection."

"And what did Sir Harry reply to them?" demanded James. "He is a wise
man, Sir Harry West, and not that unlearned in the humane letters. He
expounded one night a passage of the Italian poet, Dante, without
having heard an opinion upon the subject, in a manner quite
conformable to our own, and thereby put to shame a gentleman of that
country, who insisted upon it, in spite of our expressed opinion, to
which he might have reasonably bowed, that there was no latent or
hidden meaning in the poet's words, but a mere open and plain poetical
figure. What said the Knight, I ask?"

"He said, sire," replied Ida Mara, "that he was sure your majesty
would never use such instruments as they were, and he called up some
of the yeomen of the guard, who were standing before the gate, and
placed us all under their charge."

"The Knight was right, in fact, but wrong in inference," answered the
King; "we did not employ the men; but there is no telling what
instruments kings may sometimes see fit to use. That their own wisdom
must decide. Then, again, as to his conduct, Sir Harry displayed his
skill and judgment in a manner that deserves our approbation. Had he
taken upon him to deliver you with his own hand, besides the chance of
brawling, which is always an offence, he might have trespassed
unwittingly on his duty to us. But, in placing the matter in the hands
of our officers, he could not go wrong."

"It seems to me, sire," said the Earl of Northampton, "that these men,
who have dared to use your majesty's sacred name in an unlawful
manner, must lose their ears. I look upon this to be a very great
offence."

"Of that there can be no doubt," replied the King; "but we will
confront the man they have caught with this young gentlewoman, and
hear what he has to say. Let the fellow be brought hither."

The King's orders were immediately obeyed; and the personage who had
aided in carrying off Ida Mara from Highgate was brought, white and
trembling, into the King's presence. He was subjected by James himself
to a very close and keen examination; but he persisted in the story he
had told the Lieutenant of the Tower, saying, that the man by whom he
had been employed assured him that it was by the King's commands, and
declaring that he knew nothing further on the subject. He
acknowledged, indeed, that what Ida Mara had said was correct in all
points, but protested that nothing could be farther from his thoughts
than to use the King's name unauthorized.

When questioned as to the name and character of his employer, he
hesitated a little, but at length mentioned again the name of Weston,
adding, that he was attached to Doctor Foreman, the celebrated
Physician and _Naturalist_,--for such was the term which the charlatan
thought fit to apply to his more secret avocations, though he
certainly used it in a sense very different from that which is
attached to it at present.

The name of Doctor Foreman, however, created a little confusion in the
King's closet. Lord Rochester and the Earl of Northampton whispered
together for a moment behind the monarch's chair; and Rochester then
addressed a few words to James himself, in an under tone.

"Ay, what, are you there?" exclaimed James; "have you only just
arrived at it? I saw the matter from the beginning. This young
gentlewoman did not serve the people's turn, to carry on their
correspondences and communications; and so they have had her removed.
But the lady shall to Durham to-morrow, if I am a crowned King; and
you, my pretty mistress, shall be restored to her, with such other
maids as she shall choose, knowing right well how to select those that
will be faithful and true, and not plotters and contrivers. Who is
that knocking at the door? See, Carro! We will not have any one
admitted just now."

Lord Rochester quitted the closet for a moment, and then returned with
a face full of consternation.

"Mr. Conyers, may it please your majesty," he said, "is waiting
without. I have not spoken to him, but the page says he is in dreadful
agitation, on account of the Lady Arabella's escape."

"Ha! how! what!" exclaimed the King. "Her escape! Body o'me! Call him
in, call him in. How now, sir?" he continued, as Mr. Conyers appeared,
with strong marks of emotion on his countenance. "What's your news?"

"Such as I hardly dare to communicate, sire," replied Mr. Conyers,
"though I have ridden post-haste to tell them. On my return to
Highgate, after paying my respects to your majesty, I found
that--almost all the people of the house having been sent out of the
way during my absence, upon one pretence or another--the Lady Arabella
had made her escape."

"I told you so! I told you so!" exclaimed James: "the carrying off
this girl was the first step. This is a deep-laid conspiracy--a plot
as detestable as that of the Papists. Send for Cecil immediately--send
for Cecil. Let the Council be summoned within an hour. My Lords, we
must look to the safety of the state! There is no knowing where this
may end. We shall have a rebellion. If such a firebrand as this
kinswoman of ours falls into the hands of foreign potentates, what is
to become of us?"

The confusion which now took place in the royal closet was beyond
description. All order and regularity were lost in a moment. Every one
talked to his neighbour. Very little real reverence was shown to the
King. Some shrugged their shoulders and turned up their eyes; and
James himself was in the most pitiable state of agitation. He relieved
himself at length by five or six horrible oaths; and then, with
difficulty obtaining silence, he addressed Mr. Conyers in an angry
tone, interrupting his speech to that gentleman from time to time, to
make some observation to his favourite, or those around.

"Sir," he said, "you have betrayed our confidence, and misused our
trust.--Have you sent for Cecil, my Lord Northampton?--If you had been
vigilant, sir, this could not have happened. You do not know the
consequences, sir, of what has taken place.--The devil is in these
women, Carro; they are always making mischief, and there is never any
telling where it will stop.--You should have given us information of
the first suspicious circumstance."

"I saw none, your majesty," replied Mr. Conyers, boldly. "Don't
interrupt us, sir," exclaimed the King; "there are some men that have
no eyes to see with, and some that do not choose to use them when they
have got them. Now, I'll warrant you that you have come away without
any clue to this mystery. My Lord Northampton, send off directly to
the Tower and order that young ne'er-do-well, William Seymour, to be
put in close confinement; and he added a coarse allusion to the
probability of children springing from the marriage of that gentleman
with Arabella.

"Well, sir," he proceeded, turning to Mr. Convers again, "have you any
clue, I say?--I'll wager now you have come away without any
precautions at all, just to give the girl time to escape."

"No, sire," replied Mr. Conyers, "though I thought my first duty was
to make known to your majesty what had taken place during my absence,
I took care, while my horse was being brought, to give orders for
immediate pursuit in every direction; and very probably before I
return the Lady Arabella may have been brought back, or, at all
events, information may have been obtained as to what course she has
taken."

"Go and see; go and see," cried the King, "and let us have instant
tidings of what you discover. Present yourself to-morrow at ten before
the Council, and bring all whom you may judge to have participated in
this conspiracy along with you. Call a clerk, my Lord of Rochester; we
will ourselves immediately dictate a proclamation."

"What is to be done with this young gentlewoman, sire?' asked the Earl
of Northampton.

"Grey and Bradshaw will be very happy to take care of her," said Lord
Rochester; "they have long wanted an opportunity of showing her their
devotion."

"Hout, hold your silly tongue, with your gibing," cried James, "this
is a serious affair, young man. Where can the girl be bestowed,
Northampton?"

"May it please your majesty," said Ida Mara, "I would fain retire to
the house of Sir Harry West, who is my first friend in this country. I
can then wait your majesty's commands, if you should have anything
else to require of me."

"That is right; that is right," replied James; "you are a wise and
well-spoken young woman, and shall not be forgotten. The very fact of
their having you conveyed out of the way, when the conspirators were
about to execute the plot, is a proof that you did your duty
faithfully to your King. You may retire. Now, send that man to the
Fleet. By God's will, he shall stand on the pillory, unless he makes
full confession. Hold your tongue, sir! We have no time to deal with
you now. Sit down there, master clerk, and write."

The King then proceeded to dictate a proclamation, which was
afterwards modified by the advice of Cecil, but which in the first
draft displayed, in a most ludicrous manner, the trepidation into
which he was thrown by Arabella's escape. He worked himself into the
belief, and even contrived to impress the same idea upon the minds of
most of his councillors, that the flight of his kinswoman, instead of
being the mere effect of her attachment to her husband, originated in
some dark and sinister design against his throne and family. His
excited imagination pictured her throwing herself into the arms of
some inimical power, and, supported by fleets and armies, contesting
with him the Crown of England. He saw Papists and Protestants alike in
revolt against his authority, rebellion spreading over the land, and
his very person in danger. In fact, all the wild images that could
suggest themselves to the mind of a weak, cowardly, and tyrannical
prince, rose up before him in an instant, and displayed their effect
in every word and action.

Nor did his terrors fail to be greatly increased when information was
brought from the Tower, that William Seymour was no longer to be found
within its walls; and the whole Court was in a state of movement and
agitation during the greater part of that night and the succeeding
morning. Letters were despatched to every port of the kingdom, with
orders to stop the fugitives, and to send out vessels for their
pursuit, if already at sea. Each of these despatches was marked with
the superscription, common in those days on occasions of great
importance, "With haste--post haste! Ride for your life--your life!"
And one of them, still in existence, bears the figure of a gallows and
a halter, as an emblem of the King's wrath against any one who should
dare to disobey.



                             CHAPTER XLI.


It is a strange and terrible ordination that the vices and passions,
the follies and prejudices, the wickedness and the iniquity of man,
which run in threads through the whole web of society, spoiling a fair
and otherwise beautiful fabric, should chequer the fate of the most
virtuous and good with the dark lines of sorrow and misfortune, and
that in this strangely constituted world, the best feelings of the
best hearts, operated upon by the baseness of others, should be very
frequently the causes of disaster and distress to those who, if this
earth were the soul's abiding-place, might claim the brightest lot
that falls to the portion of humanity.

After leaving the mouth of the river, and rounding the North Foreland,
the Lady Arabella, somewhat recovered from the first effects of
disappointment, came upon deck, and stood for a few minutes gazing
over the world of waters. The wind, which had not been very favourable
for their course down the river, was now all that could be desired;
but Arabella, anxious for Seymour's safety, first expressed a wish,
and then entreated eagerly, that the captain would lay-to for a short
time, to afford a chance of the arrival of her husband.

The master, now free from the river, was willing to accede to her
wishes; and even her attendants, who had recovered from their
apprehensions, did not offer any opposition. Towards evening, however,
as the expected boat did not appear, it was determined once more to
sail on towards Calais; and the execution of this resolution was
carried on more eagerly, as a ship, then called a pinnace, but which
would now be called a sloop, was seen drawing towards them, with the
royal flag displayed. Scarcely were they under sail, however, when the
pinnace fired a shot across their bows, as a signal to bring-to.

"Ay, I thought so," cried the Captain, with a loud oath, in his native
tongue; "this comes of losing time. Go down below, lady--go down
below; your presence only cumbers us here. We shall reach Calais
before them yet."

"Oh, for Heaven's sake, make all sail," replied Arabella.

"Be you sure I will do that," replied the man; "she shall stick out
every inch of canvas she can carry. But go you down, and don't be
afraid;" and he turned to give orders to his crew.

The ship sailed on with all the speed that she could command; but,
though by no means a slow vessel, the pinnace gained perceptibly upon
her, and the only hope was, that they might be enabled to reach the
French coast before the English vessel actually came up with them.

In the meantime, Arabella went down into the cabin, and leaning her
head upon her hand, gave herself up to every sort of melancholy
anticipation. The women-servants, who had been sent to accompany her,
were well nigh strangers to her; and she had no one to whom she could
venture to display all the sorrowful feelings of her heart. The only
comfort that she felt was the rippling sound of the waves, as the ship
passed through them; but the hope of escape was faint, even though she
felt that they were going with tremendous speed. Her spirit was one
that had never through life indulged in sanguine expectations; and
with her brightest and most cheerful feelings there had always mingled
a shade of melancholy, as if she were forewarned by some internal
voice of the sad fate before her.

The rapid rate at which the vessel went, the eager cries of the
persons in command, the plunging of the ship, as she passed wave after
wave, for several minutes did, indeed, afford to the unfortunate lady
some hope of reaching the coast which she had seen in the faint
distance from the deck. But she was not permitted long to indulge in
such anticipations.

The report of a cannon soon reached her ear; another and another
followed. Still, however, the ship sailed on, and no sounds from
above, but the mere word of command, gave notice that the danger was
increased. A pause ensued; and then again the cannon were heard, she
thought, more distinctly. Still no unusual bustle displayed itself on
deck; and one of her women, looking through the small window in the
stern, remarked, in a low voice, that the pinnace seemed more distant.

A moment after a single gun was fired, and though there had been some
noise above previously, deep silence instantly succeeded. Immediately
after a rattling sound and a heavy fall upon the deck were heard,
followed by cries, and shouts, and exclamations, but the ship
continued on her course, and one of the servants coming in, informed
Arabella that a shot from the pinnace had struck the boat upon the
deck, but had done no farther mischief.

"It would be better for them to strike," she murmured. "What should I
feel if any of them were killed on my account? Better linger out my
life in prison, than be the cause of bloodshed."

"The captain says we shall get to Calais yet, lady," replied the man.

"God send it," she answered; and as she spoke, the guns of the pinnace
were again heard.

The next instant the little vessel shook, as something struck her;
and, tearing through the wood-work of the cabin, and casting splinters
far and wide, came a ball, which passed within a few feet of the lady,
and entered a beam beyond her. Arabella did not start or shrink, for
she had no fears for herself; but it seemed evident that the pursuers
were drawing nearer, and she was terrified for her companions. Rapid
steps now came down the ladder, and the captain of the ship ran in and
gazed around.

"Go forward, lady," he said; "go forward into that little room; you
will be safer there. Come, every one lend a hand, and pile up some
hammocks round the side."

"Do you think you can outsail them?" asked Arabella.

"I hope so, lady," he replied. "At all events, I will try."

"Strike when you like," said Arabella, "without considering me. I
would not have you risk yourself and your men on my account."

"Thank you, lady, thank you," answered the seaman. "We will risk
ourselves none the less for what you say, and strike I will not till I
am compelled. They have no right to fire at a ship of a friendly
country, and our King will have vengeance for such conduct."

Thus saying, he left her; and though the guns of the pinnace were
fired from time to time, no other event occurred for near a quarter of
an hour, when a tremendous crash was heard. The little vessel heeled
suddenly; and a rattling sound of falling timber and cordage showed
that some of the masts or yards had been carried away. Three or four
minutes elapsed, while all eyes in the cabin were fixed anxiously upon
the door, and the rate of the ship visibly diminished.

At length the captain of the vessel entered, with a sad and gloomy
countenance: "It is no use, lady, to try it any longer," he said;
"they have carried away our topmast; and we have no chance now. I have
done the best for you that I could, but it is vain. Have I your
consent to heave-to?"

"At once," answered Arabella; "do not let them fire at you again. Make
them some signal, my good friend. Now for my prison again," she
murmured, as the captain left her. "I have never yet known hope, but
to be disappointed;" and, bending down her head, she pressed her
handkerchief upon her eyes, while a low struggling sob or two told
that she was weeping, but strove to restrain her tears.

In a few minutes she had overcome her emotion, and, wiping her eyes,
sat calmly, till the sound of many voices speaking on the deck, and at
the side of the vessel, showed her that a boat from the pinnace was
alongside. After a short pause, steps were again heard coming down,
and an English gentleman appeared, completely armed, as was the custom
of that age.

"The Lady Arabella Stuart?" he said, advancing into the cabin, and
gazing around.

"My name is Arabella Seymour, sir," answered the lady; "but I suppose
you mean myself."

"I do, madam," he replied; "and I regret to say, that my orders are to
land you and convey you to London, as a prisoner. But before I do so,
I must beg you to answer me truly, whether Mr. Seymour be on board?"

Arabella started, and looked up, with an expression of joy.

"He has escaped, then!" she cried; "he has escaped. Thank God, thank
God! Pardon me, Lord, for murmuring at thy will! He has escaped, and I
am happy."

"Then I am to conclude, madam," said the officer, "that he is not on
board this ship?"

"Most assuredly he is not," replied Arabella; "of that I pledge you my
word. I trust that by this time he is safe in France."

"No one can tell, madam," was the answer; "he had escaped from the
Tower; but to escape from the country is another affair."

The only bitter thing that Arabella probably ever said in her life,
now rose to her lips. "I know it is," she replied; "it seems as if
England had become one great prison." And the chill which the
officer's words cast upon the hopes that she had entertained of her
husband's escape, depressed her more even than her own re-capture.

The ship was immediately taken into port, but all things seemed now
indifferent to her. Her mind, agitated by the past, uncertain at the
present, apprehensive of the future, became bewildered and confused.
She suffered those who were around her to do with her what they would;
and, during that evening and the following day, she appeared to be in
a dream, painful and terrible, but indistinct and misty. Nor was it
till she found herself passing the gloomy portals of the Tower, that
she awakened to all the stern reality of her fate. Then she burst into
tears again, and a cold shudder passed over her frame, as she gazed
around upon the grey walls which had witnessed the sorrows and the
death of so many of her race.

The next morning early, she was hurried before the Council, and
subjected to all the anguish of public examination and reproof, which
not even her gentleness could mitigate. But as she left the
council-chamber, to return to her sad captivity in the Tower, some
friendly heart afforded her the greatest alleviation that her grief
could receive. In passing through the mixed crowd that filled the
corridor, one of the persons present, she could not distinguish whom,
whispered in haste, "Mr. Seymour has arrived safe in France!"

Arabella started, and turned round; but, hurried on by those who
guarded her, she was unable to see any familiar face among the crowd;
and, uttering the words "Thank God!" she proceeded on her way.

On that one thought she pondered during the rest of the day, speaking
little to any one, and taking little nourishment, but often repeating
to herself, "He is safe!--Thank God, he is safe!"

Towards nightfall she was visited by the Lieutenant of the Tower, who
came to inform her that the two servants who had been captured with
her were to be removed--three others, a gentlewoman, a chambermaid,
and a man, having been sent to attend upon her by the King.

Arabella smiled sadly. "He need not envy me, Lieutenant," she said,
"the poor comfort of seeing faces that I know. I shall have few
consolations within these walls--but one, indeed; and that he cannot
take from me."

"And what is that, lady, may I ask?" said the Lieutenant.

"My trust in God, sir," replied Arabella; "there are justice and mercy
above, if not below. But pray let me see these people whom the King
has sent; I must welcome my fellow-prisoners."

"The man, madam," answered the Lieutenant, "tells me that he was in
your service at Highgate; but as it has been proved that he had no
hand in your escape, the King has restored him to you."

"Oh, poor Cobham!" exclaimed Arabella; "I shall be glad to see him,
though it is selfish, too, for he will have a dull life here."

"I trust, lady," replied the Lieutenant, "that neither he nor you will
be long within these walls. The King will, I hope, be satisfied with
submission, and set you at liberty ere long."

"I must not doubt it, Lieutenant," said Arabella; "for that were to
accuse him of injustice. I will try to make myself as cheerful under
the infliction as may be. I have heard that you are kind to your
prisoners, Lieutenant, and have to thank you for your treatment of one
whom I love better than myself."

"I owe a large debt of gratitude to that gentleman's house," answered
the officer; "and would gladly repay it, madam, by any courtesy to
you, but I shall not have the opportunity, I fear. To-morrow I am to
be removed from my office, to make way for another; but he is a
gentleman of good repute, and will, I trust, deal kindly with all
under his care. I will now send these people to you, lady, and take my
leave, wishing you happier with all my heart."

Thus saying, he quitted the room; and, in a few minutes, the door
again opened. Arabella raised her eyes, with as well-contented a smile
as she could assume, to welcome her old servant Cobham; but by the
faint light that streamed through the high window, she saw another
well-known form; and, starting up, with a look of joy she cast herself
upon Ida Mara's neck; and then, overwhelmed with various emotions,
burst into tears.

"Oh, Ida, Ida," she cried; "this is relief indeed."

"Hush, dear lady," whispered Ida Mara; "do not seem too glad to see
me. Speak to Cobham and the girl. I will explain all when they are
gone."

Arabella raised her head, and then saw that two of the King's officers
had followed the rest of the party.

"Ah, Cobham," she said, turning to her old servant; "I am right glad
to see you all once more;" and she held out her hand to him.

The man took and kissed it respectfully, saying aloud, "I would gladly
see you anywhere but here, madam; and if you had told me what you were
going to do, I would have taken care you should not be here at all."

"No rebellious words, sirrah," said one of the officers; "I will
report them to the King."

"You may report what you like," replied the man, bluntly.

But Arabella interposed, exclaiming, "Hush! hush! I beseech you, sir,
refrain; if you have any of the feelings of a gentleman, you will not
think of repeating, where it may do harm, the expression of a faithful
servant's attachment to his unhappy mistress. Jane, I am glad to see
you."

The girl replied with a discontented look, merely saying that she
hoped her mistress was well, and then retired with Cobham and the
King's officers to the rooms appropriated to the servants of the Lady
Arabella, which were contiguous to her own.

"Alas! dear lady," said Ida Mara, as soon as they were gone. "Alas! to
find you here! How eagerly did I watch and inquire for any tidings
respecting you; and then, when I heard that you were taken, I trembled
lest they should debar me from seeing you."

"But how came they to send you?" asked Arabella; "it is indeed an act
of favour which I did not expect."

"Why, lady, the King has deceived himself entirely respecting me,"
replied the fair Italian. "It is his own doing; for I said not one
word to mislead him, though I took good care not to contradict him."

"You were wise," said Arabella; "he is not one to bear opposition. But
how came it about, my Ida?"

Ida then related to the lady all that the reader already knows,
concerning the events which happened to her after quitting Mr.
Conyers' house at Highgate.

"What was their object," she said, "in taking me away I have no
precise means of knowing; but I am sore I saw that dreadful man's face
for a moment; and having once vowed revenge against me, I am certain
that he will not fail to seek it whenever the opportunity occurs. I
believed he was dead, till within the last week; for I had not seen
him before for several years. But I do not think I can deceive myself
now, and though the hair and beard are black instead of grey, the
features are the same. But I will not dwell upon that, dear lady; the
King cheated himself, as I have told you. He thought I had been
carried away by order of your friends, because you could not place
confidence in me; and to-day he sent for me, to ask if I would return
to attend upon you while you are a prisoner in the Tower. I took care
not to seem too ready, saying that I did not like imprisonment, nor
the Tower for a residence; but that if it were his majesty's wish, I
was ready to obey him implicitly. Thereupon he praised my submission,
and assured me that I should have as much liberty as possible while
here. He knew not how gladly my heart beat to have permission to come.
If he had, I think he would have forbidden it."

"And can you really find joy, Ida?" asked the lady, "in sharing a
prison with me?--Who can tell, my poor girl, how long it may last? Who
can tell that I may not here end my days?"

"Oh, Heaven forbid," cried Ida Mara; "we will soften these stones
first with our tears."

"Alas!" replied Arabella, "I fear that we shall not ever be able to
soften the heart of the King by any tears that we may shed. But at all
events, your being with me will be an alleviation of my sorrow."

"Perhaps you may be able to escape, lady," rejoined Ida Mara.

"No, Ida, no;" answered Arabella; "I will not try. The net is around
me, and it is of no use to flap my wings. On the contrary, I will make
a voluntary promise not to escape, if they will give me the full range
of my cage; and then, like many another poor bird, I will sit and sing
my life away between the bars. I only grieve to think that, for my
sake, you should be doomed to the same hard fate."

Ida Mara kissed the lady's hand, and gazed in her face, with a look of
deep sadness; but she only replied, "You forget, madam, that
imprisonment to me is not what it is to you. I have nothing in the
world without to sigh for. Oh, that they would but keep me and let you
go!"

Arabella answered her by tears.



                            CHAPTER XLII.


Never did human being, in a world of woe, strive with more patient
perseverance for contentment with his lot than did poor Arabella
Seymour. She called to her aid all the resources of a humble and a
faithful spirit. She trusted in God, she resigned herself to his will,
she tried to bear the chastening hand with cheerfulness; but it was in
vain she did so. Hours, days, weeks passed,--the heavy hours, days,
weeks of imprisonment, without one hope coming to lighten the burden
or assuage the pangs.

At first, she consoled herself with the knowledge that Seymour was
safe beyond the power of the vain tyrant who kept her within those
walls; but she soon found that even that consolation, when she
indulged in it, produced an evil effect upon her mind. The thought
that he was secure and free, brought with it the eager yearnings of a
warm and affectionate heart to be with him, to rest upon the bosom of
him she loved, to hear the music of his voice, to see his eyes beaming
upon her with tenderness and devotion.

She dared not trust herself with such meditations, for they were
dangerous to her tranquillity, and were sure to end in long and bitter
weeping. Then she strove to extract hope from some fruitless effort to
soften the cold and obdurate heart of the King,--as the alchymists of
the day attempted to draw gold from lead or iron. But yet, even in the
act, she knew it to be idle. She would gaze upon the letter she had
written, beseeching this person or that, who was supposed to have
influence over James, to intercede for her; and with a sad smile,
shake her head and sigh, exclaiming, "Vain, vain! it is all in vain!"

Then she would wander round the walls of the Tower, gaze on the busy
multitudes swarming freely without, picture to herself their thoughts,
feelings, and occupations; trace them, in her imagination, through
their daily labour, and follow them back again to the home of domestic
love; and the tears would rise in her eyes, as she thought that no
such home was ever to be hers.

Or, at other times, she would turn towards the river with its
shipping, and mark the light boats gliding over the waters, and
long--oh, with what a thirsty longing!--to pursue the course of that
stream once more, and over the wide sea, to find the free happiness
denied her there; and when she looked around on bars, and gates, and
guards, her heart would feel chilled and crushed; and again her tears
would rise, and drop upon the stones of the wall.

Often, when such was the case, some words which had been used by Ida
Mara came back to her mind; and she would ponder on them, and turn
them in her imagination a thousand ways; for sadness ever will sport
with fancy, and misery often dances in her chains.

One day, as she was sitting in her chamber, with the fair Italian
beside her singing to her, she wrote from time to time a word or two
on some paper which lay upon the table; and when the girl's song was
done, she said, "Give me your instrument, Ida; I will sing you a song
now;" and placing the paper upright before her, she proceeded to pour
forth, to a simple air of the time, the lines she had just written.


                                SONG.


         "Ye gloomy walls, that circling round,
            Oppress this form of clay,
          When shall my spirit spurn the bound
            Harsh men around it lay?
          Oh! were there power in tears,
          Shed through unnumbered years,
            To soften the hard stone,
          Long ere this weary day,
          Melting like snow away,
              Ye to the dust had gone.

         "Lo! wreathing round your hoary towers,
            Those who lie cold beneath,
          Entwine a coronal of flowers
            And honour you in death.
          Though were there power in tears,
          Dropp'd through unnumbered years,
            To soften the hard stone,
          The torrents that the dead
          Within these walls have shed,
            Had of those towers left none!

         "But all in vain, my heart would fly,
            Wide o'er the land and wave,
          To scenes of life and liberty
            From this, its prison grave.
          No! there's no power in tears,
          Shed through unnumbered years,
            To soften the hard stone.
          Else would I weep all day,
          And cease only to pray,
            Till ye to dust were gone.

         "But colder than these iron walls,
            Hardest of earthly things,
          Is that which dwells in courtly halls
            Within the breast of kings.
          Though there were power in tears,
          Shed through unnumbered years,
            To soften the hard stone,
          There, fruitless would they prove!
          Grief has no power to move
            The heart of man alone."


"Now run away, Ida, and fetch me a book," said Arabella; "I must not
let such thoughts stir within me any more; they render me
discontented, dear girl; and, they say, a contented heart makes a
garden of a wilderness."

"Ay, dear lady," answered Ida Mara, with a sigh; "but it is hard work
first plucking up the thorns. You have no books but those you have
read often;--which shall I bring you?"

"Run to Sir Gervase Elways," said Arabella, "and ask him to lend me
something new. He is a learned man, and very complaisant, and I know
amuses the tediousness of his charge with much reading. A blessing on
those who write for us! How many a heavy heart is lightened by reading
the tales of other men's endurance; how many a sick bed is smoothed by
the light hand of gentle poetry! Good faith, Ida--as it must be for
one or the other--I would rather weep for the gone-by sorrows of other
people than for my own, too truly present."

Ida Mara left her mistress to obey; but, in a moment after, she came
back pale and trembling.

"What is the matter, Ida? what is the matter?" cried the lady,
starting up.

"Ah, madam!" answered the girl, "I have just seen that terrible man,
Weston, tripping across to the Bell-tower, where poor Sir Thomas
Overbury is confined, and I shall now live in constant dread."

"Did he see you?" asked Arabella.

"I think not--I hope not," replied Ida Mara. "I was under the arch
below, and he was going the other way, dressed in black velvet, with
soft steps, like a cat creeping up to a bird."

Arabella mused. "Call Jane hither," she said. And when the girl
appeared, she added, "Go to the warder opposite there, and ask him the
name of the gentleman dressed in black velvet, who just now crossed to
the Bell-tower."

The girl retired without any answer; for she was of a somewhat sullen
disposition, and discontented at being kept so long in the Tower. She
returned in a few minutes, saying, "His name is Doctor Foreman, my
lady; and he has gone, by the King's order, to visit Sir Thomas
Overbury, who is sick."

Ida cast down her eyes thoughtfully on the ground; and Arabella, after
giving the maid a sign that she might retire, murmured, "Doctor
Foreman!--why, that is the man of whom there was so much talk at the
Court, a sort of wizard, a conjurer, and a cheat,--suspected, too, of
dealing in poisons. I heard the Queen say, his majesty would have him
hanged.--Can he be sent to Sir Thomas Overbury by the King?"

"Oh, lady, lady," cried Ida Mara, "it is the same man. Whatever name
he may now call himself by, that is Weston. And I will tell you," she
added, kneeling on the cushion at the lady's feet, "I will tell you
now what it was he wished me to do, that made me fly from him in such
terror, which I have never told you before. He wished me to go to a
young nobleman of the Court, who had been pleased with my music, to
live with him for a time in sin," and then she paused, and sunk her
voice to a whisper, adding, "and then--to put poison in his drink."

Arabella shuddered: "Good heaven!" she cried, "is it possible that
such iniquity should live and prosper?--But why did you not accuse
him, and bring him to punishment, Ida?"

"Because I had no proof," replied the girl: "at first I fled from him
in terror and consternation, knowing that if I did not do as he
required, after he had put his secret in my power, he would poison me;
and then, when good Sir Harry West delivered me from him, I reflected,
and saw that to bring such a charge might but call down destruction on
my own head. I was but a poor Italian girl--an alien, a stranger, with
no one to speak for me, nothing to corroborate what I said. He had
taken care to give me no proof against him; there was but my word
against his; and I knew he was supported by many great men, who were
more or less in his power, from secrets that they dared not see
divulged.--What could I do, lady?"

"You did right, you did right, dear Ida," answered Arabella: "but I
fear much that, even now, he goes to Sir Thomas Overbury for no good.
I will not believe that the King has sent him; or, if so, the King is
but a tool in the hands of others. This poor Knight has many enemies,
I fear. Are there no means of warning him against so dangerous a
physician?"

"Perhaps there may be," answered Ida Mara; "for though there is a
guard at each end of the walk on the top of the wall, to prevent his
passing farther on either side than for mere air and exercise, yet
they have never stopped me as I have passed that way; and one day I
saw his door open."

"Did you ever meet him?" asked Arabella.

"No, never," replied Ida Mara; "but I hear he is ill now, and confined
to his bed."

"Alas!" said Arabella, "who can tell how that illness has been brought
about? There were suspicions abroad from the very first. Men
discovered that Rochester, instead of being his friend, was his enemy;
and there is not such a rancorous hatred on this earth, Ida, as that
which dwells in the breast of the ungrateful. This poor man's
imprisonment is a living reproach to the King's favourite; and I have
many, many doubts."

"I shall not dare to turn my steps that way again," said Ida Mara,
"lest I should meet that dreadful man. The very sight of him seems to
curdle my whole blood, and makes my heart labour as if it would not
beat."

Arabella remained in thought for a few minutes, and then said, "I will
go myself, Ida; he must be warned, if possible."

"Nay, lady, nay," answered Ida Mara; "I meant not to say that; I will
go. We shall soon see him pass back, and then it will be safe." As she
spoke, she approached the window and looked out, keeping herself,
however, behind the stonework of the wall.

Arabella followed her, standing somewhat more forward, and gazing down
into the open space below. They remained thus, however, for nearly a
quarter of an hour, without seeing any one but an occasional labourer,
and a party of the guard, proceeding towards the outer gates.

At length Arabella cried, "Here is some one now, Ida;" and the girl,
leaning her head a little forward, exclaimed, "That is he, that is
he!" drawing back instantly from the window with a shudder.

Arabella watched him as he crossed towards the gate. "'Tis strange,"
she said, "I can discover in his appearance none of those deadly signs
you speak of. To me, he would seem but that pitiful thing, a vain old
coxcomb, affecting the air and step of youth, dressed in the butterfly
finery of early thoughtlessness, and banishing the comely gravity of
years. He trips along like some Court dancing master, fancying himself
a treasury of graces, which he bestows as a bounty on less gifted men.
But he is gone, Ida. Now we will set out together. Nay, I will go with
you; for if you are afraid of his company, I am afraid of my solitude.
Sometimes, when I am alone, I think I shall go mad."

In execution of their design, the lady and her attendant went out and
walked slowly along the wall, towards the tower in which the unhappy
Overbury was confined. But the orders of the guard were by this time
changed; and the man at the angle nearest to the Knight's prison
dropped his partizan, saying, "You cannot pass here, ladies, unless
you give the countersign."

"That we are not able to do," answered Arabella, pausing; "we are not
soldiers, my good sir, to take the fortress by surprise; and I think
they never furnish us poor women with signs or countersigns."

"You cannot pass here, madam, without," replied the man, bluffly;
"there are new orders given for the custody of the close prisoners; so
you must take your walk another way."

Arabella turned sadly back towards her room. But while she did so, we
must pursue, for a short time, the course of the dark and infamous
villain who had just left the chamber of Sir Thomas Overbury. Although
his step was as light as air, and debonair as ever, Doctor Foreman did
not feel altogether well satisfied and at ease.

"The man suspects something," he said, speaking evidently of Overbury;
"and I doubt this new Lieutenant does his duty well."

What the duty was which he spoke of would not be difficult to say, for
the most corrupt hearts apply to their own purposes, however dark and
horrible they may be, the highest and the holiest terms; and the
reluctant apprehension which, it would seem, Sir Gervase always felt
in yielding himself to the criminal designs of his patrons, was
construed by their less scrupulous accomplice into a lack of due
devotion to their cause.

"That girl, too," continued the charlatan to himself, pursuing his
way; "she must be provided for. She would make a cruel witness against
one, if anything were to come out. Weston's the man, however.--My boy
Dick has no scruples; he can settle both affairs at once; but he must
have full power, and not be always hampered by this knave of a
Lieutenant. I must see my Lord of Rochester, and get his authority,
otherwise we shall make no progress. To-morrow, I hear, is to be his
wedding-day with our fair Countess, so he will be in good humour."

Such reveries brought him to the water side, and calling one of the
wherries, which were, perhaps, more plentiful upon the Thames in those
days than in our own, he made the boatman conduct him at once to
Whitehall.

On his visit to Rochester, however, we will not pause, reluctant to
dwell upon scenes of such depravity one moment more than is absolutely
necessary to the history that we tell. It is well known that strict
orders were given to the Lieutenant of the Tower to admit, without
restriction, the persons selected for the execution of the designs
against the unhappy prisoner. Armed with these, Foreman returned to
hold a conference, in which he expected to encounter no obstacles; but
on that point he was somewhat disappointed.

The door of his house was opened for him by the little page, whom we
have seen on a former occasion carrying his sword; and in his
ante-room above he found the man, Weston, who had been engaged in
carrying off Ida Mara from Highgate. He was dressed as a servant,
though in somewhat gay attire; but his face was sullen and downcast;
and, when his worthy master told him to follow him into an inner
chamber, he obeyed slowly, and without reply.

"Now, Weston," cried Doctor Foreman, seating himself, "I have got a
great and important affair for you."

"I won't undertake it," replied the man.

"Won't undertake it?" repeated Foreman, with every mark of surprise.
"What do you mean?"

"I mean," he said; "that I will not undertake any great affair, unless
I am to be better rewarded than I was for the last."

"But you were not successful," said the doctor; "all people are paid
according to their success."

"I won't be paid so," rejoined Weston; "I run the same risk whether I
am successful or not, and so I have a right to the same recompence;
and I will have it before-hand too. I will trust to no man."

"There you are right," replied Weston; "and you shall have it
before-hand; nor will it be a trifle, I can tell you; for what you
have to do will make a great man of you. To set out with, the
gentleman who employs me will give you a hundred nobles."

"Come, this is speaking reason," cried Weston, rubbing his hands; "let
us hear what is to be done. For a hundred nobles I will go a good
way."

"The affair is very easy," answered Foreman, well pleased to bring him
so easily to compliance. "I am about to place you in the service of
poor Sir Thomas Overbury, who is a close prisoner in the Tower, you
know. No one will be admitted to him but yourself; and, as he is very
ill, you must be careful of him. Particularly, you must remark that,
as I am his physician, he is to take nothing but what I send him. You
must even, perhaps, cook his food for him; for there are sick people,
you know, who will eat things that are hurtful to them."

"I understand, I understand," said Weston, with a nod of the head; "is
there anything more?"

"Nothing," answered Foreman; "unless you like, by way of amusing
yourself, to be very civil to the pretty lady you carried off from
Highgate, who is there in the Tower, attending upon the Lady Arabella.
You may ask her to take a glass of wine with you; and I will give you
some glasses with twisted stalks, very beautiful to see, which I
brought from Venice."

"Anything more?" asked the man, in a tone that Dr. Foreman did not
altogether like.

"No," he replied; "no; you will have quite enough to do to effect this
properly, though my Lord of Rochester will furnish you with sufficient
powers, to prevent much trouble about it."

"Well," replied Weston; "I understand you, then, completely; but to be
sure that I make no mistake, in consequence of delicate phrases, I had
better repeat the whole in plain English."

"It may be as well," said Doctor Foreman, with a nod.

"Thus it is, then," answered Weston; "I am to go into the service of
Sir Thomas Overbury in the Tower, to have him quite in my own hands,
and to give him the poison that you give me for him?" (Doctor Foreman
nodded.) "Then am to make friends with the girl, and poison her too?"
(Doctor Foreman nodded again.) And Weston proceeded: "And for all this
I am to have a hundred nobles.--Come, come, dear doctor, it's time we
should understand each other. Very likely, if I were but a common
servant, such pay might be considered handsome. But people tell me you
are my papa."

"There may be some truth in that," said Foreman, with a grin.

"Well, then," rejoined Weston; "you would not have your dear son put
his neck in jeopardy for a hundred nobles?"

"I have often put mine in jeopardy for a less sum," answered Foreman,
"before I made the large fortune that I have made, and which I have
left to you at my death, if you behave well, Dick. I wish you to work
your way up, as I have worked mine: and as you are a shrewd youth,
with all the money that you will have from me, you may go much farther
than I have gone."

"I may go to the gallows, perhaps," replied Weston.

"Pooh, nonsense," answered his worthy father, "if you go to the
gallows, the Lord Rochester and the Countess of Essex must go first;
and the King would sooner go himself."

"Ay, that is a different affair," cried Weston. "But have you really
left me all you have got? for of course that must be a consideration."

"You shall see the will yourself," replied the learned doctor; and,
opening a strong box, he took out a parchment from amongst several
others, and placed it in the hands of his worshipful son.

The younger man ran his eyes over it with a look of vast satisfaction.
"That's enough," he said; "that's enough. I'll do anything you like.
Give me the powders."

"Nay," answered Foreman, taking down a bottle from one of the shelves,
and pouring a small quantity of the liquor it contained into a phial,
"you must give this to Sir Thomas Overbury, by a spoonful at a time.
Then, as for the girl, here is this powder. If you can ever get her to
eat or drink in your presence, you have nothing to do, but to hold the
contents between your finger and thumb--so--and drop it upon her food,
or into her cup. It will dissolve instantly; and in half an hour she
will be in Heaven.--Sudden deaths will happen; who can help it?"

"Nobody, to be sure," answered the young man, laughing; "but I don't
see why you should wish her out of the way."

"Oh, I have good reasons; I have good reasons," said Foreman, nodding
his head significantly.

"Ah, well; it's no business of mine," cried Weston. "I'll do the
business! Give me the drugs."

Foreman delivered them into his hands; then added several directions
as to his conduct, and furnished him with a letter from Lord Rochester
to the Lieutenant of the Tower.

To secure all, the hundred nobles were bestowed at once; and Weston
departed from the room to make ready for his expedition. But the first
thought that crossed his mind was, "No, no! Overbury, if you like; but
the girl is safe. This powder I'll keep for another occasion; and if
you play me false, old gentleman, look to yourself."

With this hint of his very filial intentions, he secured the drugs in
the heart of a bundle of clothes, and set out upon his errand with as
much alacrity as if he was going to a wedding feast.



                            CHAPTER XLIII.


There had been a good deal of bustle and confusion in the Tower during
the morning, three days after the events which we have related in the
last chapter. Two persons, bearing the appearance of physicians, had
crossed from the gate to the tower in which Overbury was imprisoned,
and visited him, in company with the Lieutenant, while, from the
window of the Lady Arabella's chamber, might be seen a group,
consisting of the notorious Doctor Foreman, Weston, and another man,
conversing together eagerly, and evidently waiting till the personages
who had been admitted to their victim returned.

The physicians soon passed by the spot where they stood, without
taking any other notice of them than by a contemptuous look, which the
younger of the two bestowed upon Foreman; and immediately after, Sir
Gervase Elways joined their evil council, and remained in conversation
with them nearly half an hour.

After the consultation was concluded, Foreman quitted the Tower; and
the rest of the party separated. Silence and solitude then took
possession of the walls and courts around; and during the rest of the
day, it was remarked that an unusual degree of stillness prevailed in
that part of the fortress, few, if any persons, being seen moving
about, and the only noises heard being those which rose from Tower
Hill and the streets adjacent.

In the meanwhile, since the day that we last spoke of, Arabella had
fallen into a state of deeper despondency than ever. Her efforts for
cheerfulness were all vain; and she sat for hours gazing listlessly
out of the window, with the tears rising from time to time in her
eyes, indicating the sad thoughts that were busy at her heart. It was
to no purpose that Ida Mara strove, by every means in her power, to
engage her mind with other things than her own hard fate. Books had
lost their charm for her; music seemed but to increase her grief; and,
though once or twice she tried to converse, she soon lost herself in
reveries again, from which it was difficult to rouse her.

"Leave me, Ida, leave me," she said, at length, as evening was
beginning to fall; "my heart is very heavy, and it is vain to try to
lighten it. You have stayed within with me all day, dear girl; go out
and breathe the fresh air now. A walk round the walls will do you
good."

"I do not like to leave you so sad," replied Ida Mara; "I wish you
would come with me. I am sure it were better for you than sitting here
alone."

"I will, I will presently," replied Arabella. "Come back in
half-an-hour, dear Ida, and I will go with you.--But leave me now."

Ida Mara saw that it was in vain to press her farther at that moment,
and leaving her, rambled through the vacant courts, and round the wide
wall of the Tower, meeting with few of its inhabitants; till, on her
return, in one of the narrow passages, she suddenly found herself face
to face with one of the men who had carried her off from Highgate. He
had evidently been drinking largely, and she made an effort to pass
him at once, hoping that he might not notice her.

He stopped her, however, though not uncivilly, saying, "Ah, pretty
lady, is that you? I am glad to see you here; for I once did you some
wrong; and I don't intend to do so any more, whatsoever they may
say.--You forgive me, pretty lady, don't you?"

The man, though not drunk, was not quite sober, and Ida Mara was
somewhat alarmed.

"Oh yes, I forgive you freely," she replied; "but I must go on; for
the Lady Arabella expects me."

"Nay, stop a bit," said Weston; "we are old acquaintances, you know. I
am Sir Thomas Overbury's servant now; but I shan't be long, I think."

Ida listened eagerly. "Poor man, he is very ill, I hear," she replied.

"Ay, that he is," answered Weston, "but he is a devilish long time
about it. He's too cunning to give up life easily; and so he makes a
hard struggle against death."

"Who would not?" said Ida Mara, with a shudder, for she put her own
interpretation on the man's words. "Pray what is his complaint?"

"Nay, I know not," answered Weston; "a multitude, I believe. He makes
nothing but complaints from morning till night. He'll be more at ease
when he's gone."

"As many others will," answered Ida Mara.

"Ay, ay," rejoined Weston, with a stupid look, "but you need not be
afraid.--I'll keep that for myself. I may have need of it."

Ida Mara did not comprehend what he meant; but she was interested in
the fate of Sir Thomas Overbury; and, knowing that her lady would
entertain the same feelings, she said, as the man seemed rather
loquacious in his wine, "Poor Sir Thomas is very strictly confined, I
believe. The guards will let no one pass even near his door?"

"Oh, the guards are gone now," replied Weston. "They are not much
wanted. Nobody sees him but myself and Franklyn; and we have admission
at all hours."

"Then he is so weak, I suppose," observed Ida Mara, "that he cannot
stir from his bed, so that escape is impossible?"

"He might as well try to escape from his grave," rejoined the other;
"and yet he lingers long."

"Well, I must go on now," said Ida. "Good night, sir, good night."

"Good night," answered Weston. "I don't suppose I shall see you in the
Tower again, pretty lady; for at nine I bring his supper to him, and
that is the last meal he will eat, I fancy."

Thus saying, he suffered the fair Italian to pass, and walked on his
own way.

Arabella was sitting in the same spot where Ida Mara left her, with
the last faint rays of day streaming in from the window upon that
face, once so beautiful, but now faded and worn with the anguish of
the heart, so that those who had loved her best would hardly have
known her. Her eyes were red with weeping; but the tears had been
wiped away; and when Ida entered, she turned round and tried to smile.

"Well," she said, "what hast thou seen, dear friend? Come, sit you
down beside me, Ida. I shall not go out to night, though the moon,
peeping up there, seems to ask me to come forth under her melancholy
light, which is but too like the complexion of my own thoughts, where
the only brightness is the reflection from a star that has set."

"I have met with something worth telling, lady," replied Ida Mara; "it
is not often one does so within these walls." And taking a seat beside
Arabella, according to her orders, she began, and in a low voice
recounted all that had occurred. Her tone was soft and quiet; but
there was an earnest sadness in her manner, which seemed to imply,
that she attached more importance to the conversation she
recapitulated, than the mere words would justify. When she had told
all, she dropped her voice still further, and added, "He is dying,
lady, that is clear; and I fear much, by poison!"

"Alas! alas!" said Arabella, "this is a terrible fate; and if he had
faults, as doubtless he had, they have been punished direfully. Oh,
Ida, Ida! what a horrible thing! To die in a gloomy prison, debarred
the support of kindred faces round one, or the comfort of the voices
that we love, or the touch of the hand of affection, or the
consolation of a good man's prayer--with assassins to tend our bed of
death, and the eyes that hate us gazing on our agony. Oh, Ida! it is
too terrible;--I will go to him,--a woman, a Christian, I cannot stay
here, and leave him to expire without any one to pity, or any one to
help. I must go to him, Ida. You say that the guards are gone; perhaps
the doors may be locked; but still I can speak to him through the
window. I can tell him that I grieve for him. I can bid him look to
God--to his Saviour, to atonement, to redemption--to a world where the
sorrows of this earth shall find compensation at last."

Her words were somewhat wild, and her manner unusually vehement; but
though Ida feared that Arabella might witness a scene which would only
tend to agitate and depress her still farther, she did not like to
remonstrate.

"I am ready, lady," she replied; "what shall I bring you?"

"Nothing but a veil," answered Arabella; "my temples burn, the cool
air will refresh me. Put on the black mantle, Ida, and draw the hood
over your head, then no one will see us as we glide along the walls;
or, if they do, they will take us for the spectres of some who have
been here murdered. How many! Oh, God, how many!"

Ida obeyed her directions, and then, issuing forth, but without
passing through the room in which the servants sat, they walked with
slow and silent steps towards the tower, in which Sir Thomas Overbury
was lingering out the last few hours of his miserable captivity. All
was silent and still. The sun was now fully set; the gibbous moon, a
few days short of her full, just shone over the parapet; the night was
cool, but clear, without a breath of air stirring in the heaven; the
murmur of the great city rose up around, like the sound of distant
waters rolling over a pebbly bed; and a red star, shining near the
earth's bright satellite, looked rather like an angry rival of the
Queen of Night, than her soft attendant train-bearer.

Stealing quietly on, Arabella and her companion reached the tower
where the poor captive lay, entered the open gateway which led to the
stairs, and tried the door on the right hand, which they knew to be
that of the sick man's chamber. It was locked, however.

"We must go to the window," said Arabella, in a low voice; and issuing
forth again, she walked round to a small loop-hole, at the height of
about four feet from the ground, the casement of which she found open.

"Keep where you can see if any one comes, Ida," said Arabella; and,
approaching close to the window, she looked in.

A lamp was standing on the table, shedding its faint and sickly light
around the narrow chamber in the tower; and a pale, emaciated form lay
stretched upon a pallet close beneath the lady's eyes, as she looked
through the loophole. Beside him, on a stool, was a cup containing
some liquid, and a book; but the fluid had not been tasted, and he
seemed but little in a condition to read. Every feature of the sick
man's face betokened pain; his eyes were turned towards the rafters
over head, his knees drawn up, his right arm under his head, and the
thin fingers of his hand grasping the pillow, as if in bitter agony. A
moan burst from his lips as Arabella watched him, and, without farther
pause, she said, in a low but distinct voice, "Sir Thomas--Sir Thomas
Overbury!"

The unhappy man started up, and looked round the room with faint and
weary eyes, but could see no one.

"Who is that?" he asked, turning his face at length towards the
window. "Some one called me. Whose face is that? I cannot see the
features."

"It is I," answered the lady--"it is I--a friend, Sir Thomas."

"A friend?" said Overbury, with a woful shake of the head. "God help
us!--Is there such a thing?"

"It is Arabella Seymour," replied the lady--"once Arabella Stuart, and
she comes to comfort you, as far as a weak fellow captive can."

"Ah, lady, lady," exclaimed Overbury, "does one whose misery I myself
have wrought, come now to comfort me, and generously call herself my
friend?"

"Yes, Sir Thomas," answered Arabella; "and I beseech you remember,
that not only a poor fallible creature like yourself, but the God whom
we have offended, the Saviour whom we crucified, comes likewise to the
sick bed of every sinner, calls himself his friend, and offers
comfort, hope, and consolation, if we will but accept it."

"Lady, I have been trying to think of such things," replied the dying
man; "I have been trying to turn my thoughts to my Saviour; but I am
tormented by fiends in human shape, that give me no rest. Lady, I am
dying of poison. For weeks I have taken nothing that is not drugged.
My food, my drink, the very salt,[9] which, once given by the wild
Arab, secures his bitterest enemy from his vengeance, is mingled with
deadly minerals."


----------

[Footnote 9: It was discovered afterwards that his salt was mingled
daily with white precipitate.]

----------


"Alas, alas!" cried Arabella, with the tears rising in her eyes, "how
can I help you.

"No way," he replied. "God has withdrawn his countenance from me,
perhaps to restore it when purified hereafter; but in this world there
is no more hope. Would it were over; for I am in torture. Not a limb,
not a muscle, is sound; and yet I will not make myself their
instrument,--I will not take more of anything they give me, than is
absolutely needful for the bare support of life."

"I can bring you food," exclaimed Arabella, eagerly; "the guards are
now away. Through this window I can supply you every night."

"Oh, blessings on you," cried the wretched man. "You are an angel
indeed."

Just as he spoke, Ida Mara ran up to Arabella, exclaiming, "Crouch
down, crouch down, lady! Here are two men coming with a light. They
will not see us in that corner."

Bending down in the angle of the wall, and covered by the deep shadow
that it cast, Arabella and the fair Italian waited, in the belief that
the men would pass. But though their steps were soon heard coming, the
sound ceased when they reached the gate of the tower, and the moment
after voices were distinguished speaking in the chamber of Sir Thomas
Overbury.

The first words did not clearly reach the ear of those without; but
Arabella crept somewhat nearer to the window, and then she heard the
unfortunate man reply, "I will not take anything. I do not want it."

"Ay, but you must take some supper, or a little wine at least," said a
rough voice.

"No, I will not," he answered, shortly. "I know your horrible devices.
I will take no more from your hands; I would rather die of starvation.
Put the supper down there; and when you are gone, I will cut from the
heart of the meat, which you cannot poison, sufficient to support
life. I have an antidote, too, that you know not of, which will make
what I do eat sure. But I will take nothing while you are here. The
very sight of such fiends destroys me."

"Come, come," said another voice, "this is all nonsense, Sir Thomas.
Take some wine, or I will pour it down your throat. You will die of
hunger; and then men will say that we have poisoned you."

"They will speak but too truly," cried Overbury. "Get you hence, get
you hence! I will drink nothing."

After these words came a low murmuring for several minutes, as if two
persons were speaking together in an under tone; and, unable to
refrain any longer, Arabella raised her head and looked in.

The two men, Weston and Franklyn, who had been appointed to attend
upon Sir Thomas Overbury in prison, were standing together near the
table, apparently in consultation, with their heads close together,
and far too eager in the dreadful occupation which they had
undertaken, to notice, at the dark window, the face gazing at them
from without. At length, the former approached the bedside of the
prisoner, while the other went round towards the head of the couch,
saying, in a civil tone, "I wish you would take something, Sir
Thomas."

"I will not," cried the unhappy man. "What are you doing there?" he
added.

"Only smoothing your bolster," replied the villain; but at the same
instant he snatched the pillow from beneath the dying man's head, and
cast it upon his face. The other murderer threw himself upon it, while
Weston held it tightly down; and, with a loud and piercing scream,
Arabella clasped her hands together, and darted away along the wall,
crying, "Murder, Murder!"

Ida Mara followed her as fast as possible, but she was not yet
concealed by the buildings, when one of the men looked out. He
instantly ran back, pale and trembling, and whispered to his
companion, who was still holding the pillow tightly down over the face
of their victim, "He is gone; you may take it off--I have seen his
spirit!"

Weston gazed at him with wild and haggard eyes for a moment, and then
removed the pillow. A slight convulsion passed across Overbury's
countenance, and then all was still.



                            CHAPTER XLIV.


Ida Mara sat by the bedside of Arabella during the whole of that
night, and a sad and terrible night it was. Her mind, agitated and
worn with her own cares, had given way at the terrible sight which she
had witnessed. The dark deed haunted her imagination; the forms of the
murderers still appeared before her eyes; she heard their voices
ringing in her ears; the last look of their wretched victim, before
they extinguished the lingering spark of life for ever, remained
present to her remembrance, hanging like a terrible picture before
her, and her thoughts and words were all confused and wild.

Ida Mara hoped and trusted that time would remove such horrible
images, and restore the sweet being she so dearly loved to
tranquillity and reason. But day went by after day, and although some
slight amendment was perceptible, Arabella's mind never recovered its
tone. At times, indeed, she would be quite collected and calm; would
speak, and reason, and lament, and weep over her fate, as she had been
accustomed to do before. But often, even in the midst of her most
quiet conversation, when no subject of a painful or exciting nature
engaged her thoughts, she would suddenly seem to lose herself; her
words would become rambling and unconnected; and she would pause and
put her hand to her head, as if she felt that all was not right there,
ending with a long deep fit of silence, afraid to speak, lest what she
uttered should be incoherent.

At other times, again, her mind would be quite astray; she would fancy
she saw strange faces, and heard dying groans; she would think that
she herself was to be murdered, and would cling to Ida in terror,
grievous to behold.

Then she would talk of former days; of him she loved; of their first
hours of affection; she would fancy that he was gone upon some embassy
to a foreign Court, and would return speedily; and she would sit and
sing the songs of peace and joy, till Ida wept at the contrast between
such wild but happy dreams of a disordered intellect, and the sad and
stern realities of that sweet lady's fate. All these various changes,
however, exhausted her strength and wore her frame; and even in the
lucid intervals, when her mind was completely itself, the gloomy sense
of her wretchedness undermined her health, and wrought a sad change in
her appearance.

At these times, she would often talk of the events of that dark and
terrible night when the designs against Overbury's life were
consummated; and though, at first, Ida strove to direct her attention
to some less horrible subject, she soon found it was in vain, and, on
the contrary, endeavoured to lead Arabella to discuss it quietly and
reasonably, in the hope that, by regulating her thoughts upon that
point, her mind might be restored to its tone.

Some indulgence was now shown to the poor captive; and though she was
only permitted to see her fellow-prisoner and kinswoman, Lady
Shrewsbury, upon one or two occasions, yet other friends from without
were frequently admitted to visit her, and two of the King's
physicians were instructed to watch over her health.

The greatest comfort, however, that Arabella received, was when some
post from France brought her messages from her husband, full of that
deep and tender affection which he never ceased to entertain for her
to the last hour of his life. She found that he generally hovered
about in the neighbourhood of the coast, still hoping, still praying,
that he might be permitted to rejoin her, and pass the rest of his
days in wiping the tears from her eyes, and blotting out sorrow in
happiness.

Those hopes and prayers were daily disappointed; but still they were a
comfort to his mind; and once or twice, when a letter, in his own
hand, was secretly introduced into the Tower, by some of those who
visited the lady, it would produce a great and manifest change. Though
it generally made her weep at first, she would become more cheerful
and more resigned, and often sitting down, would write an eloquent
appeal to the King, or to his ministers, trying to excite in them some
sense of justice and of compassion.

Sometimes, when news from Seymour had been delayed for a longer period
than usual, she would send Ida Mara forth--for which permission could
generally be obtained from the Lieutenant--to seek for intelligence at
the house of any one who was likely to receive communications from
France.

Generally these visits were to the Court of England, or to persons in
the city of London; but occasionally Ida was sent to different members
of the lady's own family, or of Seymour's, in order to obtain some
tidings, even though the persons she sought lived at some distance
from London. When this was the case, Arabella, who never forgot, even
when her intellect wandered most wildly, to think of the comfort and
safety of others, sent her old and faithful servant Cobham with her
fair companion; but still the most frequent channel of communication
between Seymour and his unhappy wife was our good old friend, Sir
Harry West, from whom she was generally sure to receive some news
every week, or at least some comforting assurance that nothing but
accidents had delayed the arrival of intelligence from across the
channel. While Ida was gone upon any of these errands, Arabella would
remain sad and gloomy, and often would take no nourishment for a whole
day, if she was absent so long; and the faithful girl always
reluctantly left her, even for a few hours, seeing that she invariably
became worse during her absence; but when the lady was once possessed
with the idea that news had been long delayed, that something
must have gone wrong with her husband, that he must be ill, or
dead--fancies which frequently assailed her--Ida, as the lesser of two
evils, was fain to go wherever there was any chance of obtaining
information.

Such had been the case one morning, when, for several days, they had
been without any communication with the Court or the City. A greater
degree of bustle and activity had been observable in the Tower than
usual; but, occupied with their own sad thoughts, neither Arabella nor
Ida Mara had given any attention to that which was passing around
them, although the servant Cobham had mentioned something of fresh
prisoners, of a high rank, being added to the number already within
the walls. When Ida Mara, however, returned from the house of the Earl
of Shrewsbury, to which she had been sent, she entered the lady's
chamber in a state of greater agitation than she generally displayed.
She strove, indeed, with anxious care for Arabella, to render her own
tone and manner as quiet as possible, while, sitting down beside her,
she proceeded to tell all she had gathered in her morning's walk.

The first news was, that contrary winds had prevented any vessels
arriving from France for nearly a week, but that intelligence was
expected every day. Arabella looked sadly disappointed, and Ida
hastened to turn her attention to another theme.

"The whole town is in a commotion, dear lady," she said, "with events
which, though terrible and painful, I cannot and will not regret. I
told you some days ago that the Lieutenant, Sir Gervase Elways, had
been removed and arrested, but I did not know the cause."

"And what may it be?" said Arabella, in an indifferent tone; "it
matters not to me who is my gaoler, Ida."

"No, lady," answered the young Italian; "but dark deeds have at length
been brought to light; and justice has been done upon the wicked."

"Then there has been a sad clearing of the streets of London, and of
the Court too," replied Arabella.

"Indeed there has," said Ida Mara; "and some who I cannot help
thinking were your worst enemies, are now close prisoners within these
walls."

"God have mercy on them!" rejoined the lady, without even inquiring
who they were; "for they will find none from man, unless they be very
wicked indeed."

"I hope they may not," answered Ida Mara; "for it is but fitting that
such crimes should be punished. The murderers of Sir Thomas Overbury,
lady----"

"Ha, what of them?" exclaimed Arabella, eagerly.

"They have been brought to justice, Madam," answered Ida Mara.
"Weston, the principal assassin, was tried some days ago, and executed
the day before yesterday, though he, it seems, was only a tool, though
a willing one. That dark and terrible man, who called himself Foreman,
but whom I knew long ago by the same name of Weston, was, it would
appear, the chief agent of the higher fiends who moved the whole."

"And what has become of him?" asked Arabella. "Has he escaped?"

"The vengeance of man he has, but not that of God," replied Ida Mara;
"he died suddenly at Lambeth about a fortnight ago, and there is
strong suspicion that some of his own poisons, administered to him by
the hand of his own son, for the purpose of sooner obtaining
possession of his wealth, saved him from public trial and execution.
But there are multitudes more involved in this terrible affair. A
woman, of the name of Turner, has been hanged this morning at Tyburn.
A number of people, I understand,--ay, ladies of high rank--went to
see her die; and Sir Gervase Elways himself was tried yesterday, and
condemned to death for murder.

"Heaven help us!" cried Arabella, "that men of station and education,
from amongst the once famed gentlemen of England, should dip their
hands in such foul and horrible things!"

"Ay, lady," continued Ida Mara, "but there are higher heads still
against which the charge is levelled. He who was lately my Lord of
Rochester, now Earl of Somerset, with his fair but wicked Countess,
are both imprisoned here, as those who set the others on to commit the
terrible deed. Their trial is expected every day, and the King vows
they shall have no mercy, though men think it somewhat strange that
Sir Thomas Monson, the chief agent of the Countess, was yesterday, in
the midst of his trial, carried from the bar by the yeomen of the
Tower, and the whole proceedings against him stopped."

"Indeed!" cried Arabella; "indeed! that is very strange. But when the
innocent are punished, as I have been, for no offence, we need not
wonder that the guilty escape. So will it be with Somerset, Ida," she
continued; "the King will not dare, I fear, to strike at one who may
possess more secrets than either you or I ever dreamed of."

"At all events, dear lady," answered Ida, "his favour at the Court is
gone; and, as I cannot but think that to him you owe much of the
persecution you have endured, your appeals to the King for justice may
have more attention, now that his influence is at an end."

"True, true," cried Arabella, starting up with a look of joy: "I never
thought of that. Oh, God of Heaven, grant it!--Quick, bring me paper,
dear girl. I will write to the King at once. Perhaps he will listen to
me now;" and she sat down and composed one of those touching epistles
to James, which have more than once brought tears into the eyes of
those who read them, even in these far-removed times.

For several days the events which we have mentioned gave her hope; but
the heartless tyrant whom she addressed paid no attention to her
petition. Days, hours, weeks slipped away without the slightest
change. The guilty Somerset and his beautiful fiend were brought to
trial, judged, and condemned; and then the favour of their vicious
sovereign stepped in, and saved them from the death they merited! But
poor Arabella derived no benefit from the fall of two beings, who, if
there had been justice in the land, should have expiated on the
scaffold the manifold crimes too clearly proved against them.

A more terrible fate than death, indeed, awaited them. Sent from the
Court to an estate in the country, to which they were bound to confine
themselves, their dark and criminal love was soon turned to the most
deadly hatred. The intense impression of each other's guilt rendered
their mutual abhorrence, and its consequences, almost as horrible as
their passion and the events which it produced. Living in the same
house, seeing each other daily, they dwelt together as strangers, and
when the one crossed the path of the other, looks of enmity and scorn
came upon those two fair countenances, where once had shone the eager
fire of vicious love. Thus passed many a year of painful existence,
with the awful prospect of death and retribution before them, till a
strange and terrible disease swept the woman from the earth, and her
husband fell lingering into the grave.

With Arabella the last hope faded away, when she found that no change
in the Court and councils of the King produced any favourable result
to her; and with it the powers of life seemed gradually to sink.
Slowly, but sadly, the last hour approached, with all the terrible
concomitants of weary sickness and wandering intellect; and the two or
three faithful friends, who now almost daily visited her, saw, with
mingled grief and relief, that the period of her sufferings would not
be long protracted.

One of the most constant of these was good Sir Harry West, in whose
conversation she seemed to find more consolation and comfort than in
that of any one else, except Ida Mara. With him she was always
tranquil, and generally collected. Their conversation was constantly
about her husband; and the good old Knight, though he did not strive
to buoy her up with those earthly hopes which he knew would prove
false, dwelt upon those higher and less frail assurances of happiness
at some future period, which suited well his years and character, and
harmonized also with Arabella's feelings.

On the subject of religion, which was her greatest blessing and
comfort now in the hour of her dark adversity, her mind was always as
clear and bright, as in those days when, in intellect and virtue, she
stood in the midst of a Court, superior to the allurements of the idle
vanity and pitiful ambition that characterized it; but on every other
subject, reason often failed.

To Sir Harry West she would frequently speak of that painful wandering
of thought, that want of control over her own mind, which now too
often came upon her.

"In those moments," she said one day, "when there is, as it were, a
cloud upon me, and all my ideas seem misty and indistinct, the weight
of my sorrow is the most burdensome. I cannot refrain from wishing for
death; and a voice, like that of a fiend, appears to urge me on to
seek the calm and tranquil resting-place, where no tyrant's hand can
reach, no persecution trouble my repose. I have only, however, to open
the page of this Holy Book, to look into the promises there given, to
remember how the only pure and holy One that ever lived and died,
suffered without a murmur, and the evil spirit flies, overmatched, and
my mind acquires its faculties again. I hope not for life, Sir Harry.
I long for death; and have only one wish that I venture to indulge,
which is, that I might see once more him whose love has cost me so
much misery, though I would not lose that love, if I might win a long
life of happiness in exchange."

Sir Harry West made her no reply, but turned the conversation to
another theme; and, aided by Ida Mara, who now never left Arabella
night nor day, he contrived to wile away another hour of the poor
captive's time, without any return of that sad wandering, which she
dreaded more herself than even the approach of death. Nevertheless,
the old Knight, as he turned him home again, pondered deeply over what
she had said, and that night visited several of the most influential
personages of the Court, with whom his own high character gave him
considerable influence.

Ten days passed afterwards, during which he visited the lady several
times, but spoke less of William Seymour than before. Perhaps it was
that he saw her strength was now rapidly failing, and feared to touch
upon a subject that moved and agitated her much.

The last time he came she was stretched upon a couch, which had been
brought into the chamber where she usually sat; and, holding out her
hand to him, with a faint smile, she said, "It is coming rapidly, Sir
Harry; and this unhappy heart will soon be at peace. I am sure of it,
for during the two last days my mind has been quite itself again. The
memories of past happiness have come around me sweetly and tenderly,
like children round a parent's death-bed; and I am quite prepared to
go where they will follow me, and nothing ever take them from me
again. Nay, I have made you weep, my friend, and poor Ida, too. I have
cost that dear girl many tears, but when I am gone I am sure you will
be a father to her.--Is it not so?"

"I will, indeed," answered Sir Harry West; "I owe her far more than
that, were it possible to repay the debt."

"There is something more," said Arabella. "When I am dead, Sir Harry,
tell my dear husband that I loved him to the last; cut off a lock of
my hair with your own hand, and give it to him. It is all that poor
Arabella has to send. Tell him that we shall meet hereafter, that I
wait for him; and then none shall separate us.--And now, farewell,
kind friend, I must not have you stay. I do believe that we shall
never meet again; for the impression rests upon my mind, that the sun
which sinks to-night will not rise again for me."



                             CHAPTER XLV.


On the morning of a rough and stormy day, a fishing boat, of a large
and heavy build, and filled principally with Frenchmen, touched the
low beach of the Kentish coast, at the distance of about a mile from
Folkstone, near the spot where now stands the pleasant little village
of Sandgate. The moment that the boat took ground, a tall and powerful
man, habited in dark, but well-fashioned garments, sprang at once in
the water, and waded to the shore; then paused for a moment, while one
of the fishermen followed him, carrying a small valise, counted out a
number of pieces of gold into the man's hand, took the valise from
him, and without another word, but "Remember," turned his steps
towards the Hythe. Striding on at a rapid pace, he soon reached that
place, and paused to look round for an inn. When he found one, he
asked for no refreshment, but inquired eagerly, if he could hire or
buy a horse. One was without difficulty procured to purchase; an old
saddle and bridle were added; and mounting, without exchanging one
word more than was necessary with any one, the stranger rode on at a
quick pace upon the road to London.

The people of the inn gazed after him, commenting as usual on his
demeanour; but whatever were their remarks, he troubled not his mind;
and at the fullest speed the beast could put forth, he urged the horse
on towards the capital. His eyes, as he rode, were generally bent down
upon the ground; and no change in the gloomy expression of his
countenance displayed itself, except when the horse slackened his
pace, and then he started, as if from a deep reverie, to urge it on as
quickly as before. Twice he stopped to give it water, and once to let
it feed; but, while he did so, he stood beside it, uttering not a
syllable to any one; and the moment the measure of corn was consumed,
he sprang upon its back again, and resumed his journey. On Wrotham
Heath, the animal's strength began to fail; and, at the village
beyond, the traveller inquired if he could buy another horse. But none
was to be found till he reached Farningham, where, at a little inn
which then stood by the roadside, he obtained a wretched beast, for
which he paid whatever was demanded, caused the saddle instantly to be
placed upon it, and leaving the other behind, with orders to feed it
well till the next day, he again rode on, and pursued his way to
London, without having tasted food since he touched the English shore,
though nearly twelve hours had elapsed, and the sun had long set.
Through the dark and gloomy streets of the capital he took his way
without pause or inquiry, till he stopped at the gate of a large
house, just beyond the city wall, where he sprang to the ground, and
rang the bell.

A man with a light opened the doors, and gazed upon the visitor's face
as on that of a stranger. But suddenly a gleam of recognition lighted
up the old servant's face, and exclaiming, "Ah! is that you, sir?" he
took the rein, threw it over a hook fixed into the wall for that
purpose, and lighted the new comer into the house.

It was towards eleven o'clock on the same night that two gentlemen
stood at the great western gate of the Tower, demanding admission.

"That cannot be, Sir Harry," said the warder on duty; "and though I
wish to show you all respect, it is against the rule."

"I know it," said Sir Harry West; "but here is an order from the
Constable, which supersedes all rule. You will perceive that it is for
any hour of the night or day."

"Ay, sir, that is a different affair," replied the man. "Follow me,
and I will pass you through the wards. 'Tis well I was not asleep; you
might have knocked long enough if I had been."

"Lead on, lead on, my good fellow," said the companion of Sir Harry
West, a tall man, wrapped in a large dark mantle.

The warder turned and looked at him; for there is nothing which
irritates a slow and deliberate person so much as impatience in
another; and perhaps the man might not have quickened his step in the
slightest degree, had there not been that look of stern, anxious grief
in the handsome countenance of the stranger, which almost always
exercises a certain degree of power, even over the cold and
indifferent.

Moving on without reply, then, he led the two late visitors through
the several doors and gates, till Sir Harry said, "Now I can pass on,
warder."

"Not without the word, sir," replied the soldier: and giving it, he
suffered the gentlemen to proceed alone.

They bent their way straight towards the apartments of Arabella
Seymour, and mounting the stairs, knocked at the door. No one
answered, and the taller of the two, though it seemed that his hand
trembled sadly, lifted the latch at once, and went in. It was a small
ante-room that he entered, which was tenanted by only one person, the
maid Jane, who was sitting in a chair so sound asleep by the fire,
that she had heard no noise. The stranger gave her a look almost
fierce; but Sir Harry put his hand upon his arm, saying, "This way,
William. We can enter this room, and most likely shall find Ida here."

Without uttering a word, the stranger strode on, and opened the door;
but, to the surprise of Sir Harry West, who had imagined that at that
late hour Arabella must have retired to her bed-chamber, they found
lights and several people there.

Stretched upon the same couch where she had been lying when the old
Knight visited her in the morning, was the pale form of the once
beautiful Arabella Stuart. Ida Mara was kneeling near her head,
supporting her, while an old man, dressed as a clergyman, was placing
a silver cup to her lips, and pronouncing the solemn words with which
the Sacramental wine is offered us in the Communion. At the lady's
feet knelt her good servant Cobham; and every one was so intently
occupied with the rite which was taking place, that the opening of the
door passed unnoticed.

Seymour paused, till the last prayer had been uttered by the chaplain,
and Arabella, placing her hand over her eyes, had murmured a few
words, which were not heard distinctly. The young gentleman then
advanced slowly, and as silently as possible; but the sound of his
footfall caught his poor wife's ear; and turning on the couch, she
exclaimed, "Whose step is that?--It is he! It is he--I am sure!--Oh,
Seymour!" and she stretched out her arms towards him.

Seymour rushed forward, and caught her to his heart.

"This is a blessing! This is a blessing!" cried Arabella; "now I am
ready to die. Speak to me, Seymour! Speak to your Arabella!"

But Seymour could not; for he had buried his eyes upon her bosom, and
tears drowned all utterance.

"Nay," she continued, "nay, Seymour, do not grieve so bitterly! I am
happy and contented now I have seen you once more! God has heard my
anxious prayer. I have nothing more to look for in life; I am ready to
obey His summons."

"Oh, live, live! my Arabella!" cried Seymour, raising his head and
kissing her eagerly; "live yet for happiness! The connivance which has
been given to my return, the order for my admission here, all make me
hope that the King will yet relent."

"He knows that I am dying, Seymour," replied Arabella; "otherwise he
had not consented. But still, William, I will live for happiness, and
happiness with you, in a world where real happiness only is known. We
may be parted once more for a brief space of time. To you, indeed, it
may seem long; for you will have to struggle with the cares and
sorrows of earth; but, when you arrive at the end, and look back, it
will seem but an hour. I know it by experience. But let me look at
you," she continued; "I thought I should never see that dear face
again. You are changed, my love, and worn; but I know that your heart
is unaltered. How much have I to be thankful for, that the hands I
love best will close my eyes, the lips I love best receive my parting
breath, and that soon I shall be gone from a world of misery, to wait
for you where misery is at an end!"

It was in vain that she sought to give him consolation; the very
resignation she displayed, the gentleness, the tenderness, but added
poignancy to his regret; and while the weak and dying girl was calm,
collected, and content, the strong man was overwhelmed with sorrow,
agony, and repining, terrible to witness.

For about half an hour, the unexpected arrival of her husband seemed
to have given Arabella new life; her voice had become strong and
clear; the dimness which had spread over her eyes was removed; even
the grey shade which coming dissolution had cast over the face, fled
for a short time, and during a few minutes a pale pink glow, like the
last which tinges the evening sky, arose in her cheek.

To Seymour those signs gave no hope, for the terrible change which had
taken place in her since last he had held her in his arms, had come
upon him suddenly, and spoke too plainly of speedy death for him to
entertain a doubt.

To Ida Mara, however, the alteration which had taken place, during the
last two or three years, in that sweet lady's appearance had been so
gradual, that she knew not how great it was; and the signs that she
saw of reviving life did give a faint and trembling hope, that the
fiat of the Almighty had not gone forth irrevocably.

It was soon extinguished, however; the effects of joy speedily passed
away; and, only the more rapidly for the temporary relief, the great
enemy of life made progress in his conquest. The voice sank low again,
the film came over the eyes, the colour faded from the cheek, the brow
and temples grew awfully pale, the greyness of the tomb once more
spread over the whole countenance.

"She is departing," said the chaplain, in a low voice.

Arabella's eyes sought her husband's face; but it seemed as if she did
not see him.

"William," she said; "William, keep close to me!--It is coming, my
beloved, it is coming! do not leave me!"

"I am here, dear one, I am here," replied Seymour, gazing in agony
upon her countenance. "My arms are round thee, Arabella. I will not
leave thee; would I could go with thee!"

"I am very cold, William," she said. "William,--William----"

Her voice ceased, and, with a slight shudder, the fair, pure spirit
passed from its earthly prison and a tyrant's will, to freedom, and
the presence of the King of kings.

"She is gone!" said Sir Harry West; "she is gone! God receive your
soul, sweet girl!"

But Seymour still held her in his arms, and bending down his eyes upon
the inanimate form of her he loved, wept long and bitterly. When he
raised them at length, and gazed upon her face, he was surprised to
see a smile upon her lips. He almost fancied that he had deceived
himself,--that she still lived. But it was fixed and immovable, only
to be changed by the slow decay of the tomb.

"How sweet she looks," said Sir Harry West, in a whisper, to the
chaplain. "I have often heard, that the look we bore in infancy comes
back upon us after death."

"With those who have lived a good life," replied the clergyman, in the
same tone; "and one has but to gaze upon that face, to see that she
has departed to peace and rest.--Be comforted, sir," he said,
advancing and taking William Seymour's hand; "be comforted. If ever
there was one for whose release from a life of care and sorrow, those
she has left behind should rejoice rather than mourn, it was this
sweet lady. Here on earth, she had nothing to expect but misery. Where
she is gone, she has nothing to meet with but joy and glory. Pure and
blameless in her life, full of faith and truth, relying on the
atonement of her Saviour to wipe out the only stain upon her--the
stain of Adam's fault, we cannot, we dare not doubt, that joy will be
her portion for evermore."

"It were worse than blasphemy!" said Sir Harry West.

"True, true," answered Seymour; "I know it is so; I know these tears
are selfish; but tell me, can a man lose the brightest possession that
God has given him, and remain to linger on through years, destitute of
that which made life valuable, and yet not mourn?--Bless thee, my
sweet wife!" he continued, bending down and kissing her cold brow.
"May I soon join thee! for did the Almighty's will give me back all
that I have lost but thee, ay, and add state and station, wealth and
high command, friends, honours, glory, all that earth can afford, I
still have lost the jewel of my soul, which nothing but another world
can restore.--I dare not, sir," he added, turning to the chaplain, "in
the presence of my departed saint, call down upon the heads of those
that wronged her, the vengeance which is their due; but sure I am that
the retributive hand of Heaven will not be idle; and that for such
deeds as these, when Almighty forbearance is exhausted, due payment
will be given.--Ay, I am sure of it, on him and on his race shall
descend the awful curse that plagues the wicked from generation to
generation. From father unto son it shall extend, and one shall lay
the foundation of the other's downfall. Blood and destruction, sorrow
and dishonour, defeat, disgrace and desolation, shall haunt them to
remote posterity; and the life and sufferings of Arabella Stuart shall
stand upon the page of history, to justify, even in the eyes of men,
the terrible vengeance of a righteous God."

"Hush, I beseech you, hush!" exclaimed the chaplain. "Remember, such
words repeated----"

"I fear him not," replied William Seymour, vehemently; "he has taken
from me the life of my life; and he can but send me to join her
somewhat sooner. Oh, that he would--the crime were his then, not mine;
and were it not for the fatal promise I have sealed with honour, to
stay but four and twenty hours within these realms, I would beard him
on his throne, and tell him of all his infamy.--Nay, my kind friend,"
he added, speaking to Sir Harry West, who advanced and took his hand,
"I will keep my word; but, had I not poured forth the indignation of
my heart, I think that it would have broken.--Now leave me here for a
short time; I would fain spend an hour in sad and solemn thought
beside her I so dearly loved. I shall be calmer then; for I will try
to pray, and seek submission to the will of God.--If you will wait for
me that time, Sir Harry, I will take my last leave of all I loved on
earth, and gladly quitting these hated shores, will seek in other
lands for some tranquillity."

No one opposed his request; but leaving him alone with the dead body
of Arabella, Sir Harry West and Ida Mara remained in the ante-room
till the clock struck one.

That sound seemed to rouse William Seymour; for a few minutes after he
came forth, with a countenance sad and stern, but calmer than before.

Advancing at once to Ida Mara, he took her hand, and gazed in her
face, for a moment or two, without being able to speak. At length,
however, he said, "How can I ever thank you? God will reward your
long-devoted love for her whom he has smitten. Leave her not, Ida;
leave her not, I beseech you, till she is committed to the earth; and
then remember, that I shall always believe whatsoever I can do to
protect and make you happy, is done for her. Sir Harry West, I know,
will watch over your fate; but there is nothing which you can require,
and he can ask on your behalf, that will not give me consolation to
perform.--Now, good friends, I am ready; my last adieu is said."



                            CHAPTER XLVI.


The funeral of Arabella was over; and her grave was made, amongst the
mighty of the land, in the Abbey of Westminster. Two months had
passed; and Ida Mara, in deep mourning, sat in the hall of Sir Harry
West's house, occupied in the usual task of embroidery. The good
Knight had left her about half an hour before.--Mr. Crompton, who, as
the reader may remember, had aided in the escape from Highgate, and
was a frequent visitor at the house, having desired to speak with him
alone.

Ida was still busily engaged upon her task, with her mind occupied
with sad and serious thoughts--though the deep grief which she felt
for the loss of her, to whom she had been so sincerely attached,
had naturally subsided, in some degree, under the balmy power of
time--when Sir Harry returned, with a grave and somewhat agitated air.

"Put down your needle, my dear Ida," said the old Knight, "and listen
to me. I have something to tell you of importance."

"What is the matter, dear Sir Harry?" she exclaimed, gazing at him
eagerly. "You are moved. Something has grieved you."

"No, indeed, Ida," replied Sir Harry West, "it is not exactly grief,
though, perhaps, I am going to lose you; but if it is for your
happiness, my dear child, I shall be content."

"To lose me?" cried Ida Mara, turning deadly pale. "Are you going to
send me away from you?"

"No, not to send you," replied Sir Harry; "but, perhaps, you may think
fit to go, when you hear what I have to say. You know Mr. Crompton; he
is a gentleman of good family, of honour, and high principles--kind
and generous in heart, and, though not very wealthy, has sufficient
for happiness. Often having seen you with the Lady Arabella, and
deeply touched with those high qualities which you have displayed
towards her, and, indeed, towards every one, he asks your hand."

"Oh, no, no, no!" cried Ida Mara, with all her Italian eagerness;
"tell him, I beseech you, Sir Harry, I am unworthy of the honour he
intends me. Explain to him that I spring from another class. Tell my
origin--tell him how you first found me, a poor Italian girl,
homeless, friendless, destitute."

"I have told him all," replied Sir Harry West. "I judged it right to
do so; and he thinks as I do, Ida, that such virtues, graces, and
goodness, as you possess, form a better inheritance than stored-up
gold, or even a noble name. The only question is, Ida, do you--can you
love him?"

Ida paused; and Sir Harry felt her hand, which he had taken, tremble
violently.

"No," she said, at length; "no, I cannot."

"But why," asked the old Knight. "He is handsome in person, gentle and
kind in demeanour."

She shook her head sorrowfully. "I cannot love him," she answered.
"You will think me wrong, I fear, Sir Harry, to wish rather to remain
dependent on your bounty, than change it for any other fate on earth."

"I do not think you wrong, my dear child," replied Sir Harry; "all I
have is yours; for to you I owe whatever remains to me of life. But
you must give me a decided answer; for I must deal plainly with this
gentleman."

"My answer is plain, my benefactor," replied Ida. "I cannot love
him--I cannot wed him."

"Good faith, then, dear Ida," said the old Knight, with a smile, "if
you will not wed any one else, I shall be fain to marry you myself."

"What is that you said!" exclaimed Ida, with the light coming into her
eyes. "What is that you said?"

"I was but jesting, Ida," answered the Knight; and immediately the
blood rushed up into her cheek, and spread rosy over her forehead. "I
was but jesting," repeated Sir Harry West; but Ida was very much
agitated, and thinking he had pained her, he added, "I am well aware,
my dear child, that however great may be the comfort and happiness to
me, to have you with me during my latter years--however deeply and
tenderly I may love you, I must not, and ought not, to desire that you
should sacrifice all for me."

"I would sacrifice all, everything for you," cried Ida Mara, eagerly.
"I never, never wish to quit you."

"Hear me, Ida, hear me," said Sir Harry West; "your sense of duty and
gratitude I know is unbounded, but the time may come when you will
find some one to love----"

"No," answered Ida; "no, I shall never love any one but you. If you
send me from you, I shall die;" and sinking down into a chair, with a
pale cheek and a quivering lip, she covered her eyes with her hand.

"What is the matter, dear Ida?" said the Knight, tenderly. "You seem
ill; what is it that you feel?"

"I do not know--I do not know," she answered. "Oh, leave me, Sir
Harry, and tell this gentleman that I grieve I cannot return his
affection."

"He is gone, Ida," answered the Knight; "but I have promised to write
to him. If I merely say that you cannot return his affection, he will
ask to be permitted to pursue his suit."

"Oh no, no!" cried Ida, clasping her hands, "he must not,--I
cannot,--tell him--tell him----"

"Tell him what?" asked Sir Harry West, not a little agitated himself.
"Shall I tell him that you love another?" he added, in a low and
serious voice.

The crimson again rushed into her face, and she paused for a moment,
casting down her eyes. Then, raising them suddenly, she exclaimed, in
Italian, with all the wild vehemence which, derived from her nation
and the climate of her birth, had characterized her demeanour, before
she had passed through so many scenes of sad and wearing anxiety.

"Yes, yes!--Tell him I love another!"

"Indeed?" cried Sir Harry West, with a cheek somewhat pale:--for,
strange to say, he could more readily have borne to hear her say that
she was ready to give her hand with indifference, than to listen to an
acknowledgment that she loved. "Ida must tell me whom it is she loves;
and I promise her, that nothing on earth shall be wanting on my part
to promote her happiness. Tell me, Ida, tell me," he continued, seeing
that she stood silent; "tell me, I adjure you. If you have any
consideration, regard, affection for me, keep me not in suspense, but
tell me who is this. Nay, Ida, I beseech, I entreat."

Ida gazed at him for a moment, with her trembling lips apart, then
cast herself into his arms, and with streaming eyes hid her glowing
face upon his shoulder.

"Who?" said the Knight.

She answered in a whisper. It was only one word; but Sir Harry West's
eyes brightened.

"Indeed, indeed, my Ida!" he cried, still holding her to his heart;
"and you willingly sacrifice all the bright and sunny part of life, to
be an old man's darling?"

"I would rather," answered the girl, looking up, "I would rather be an
old man's darling, than a young man's neglected wife. All I ask is, to
remain with you for ever; never to quit you; to see you always, hear
you always, and to give up my life to him who first protected me,
first was kind to me, whom I have ever loved, and ever shall love,
better than any one on earth. Call me what you will--your child, your
servant, anything!--But send me not from you."

"No, no, Ida," answered Sir Harry West, with a smile lighting up his
fine, though somewhat worn countenance; "you have chosen your part;
you have made up your mind. If you stay at all, it is as my wife."

"Oh, with what joy!" she cried. "But I forget.--Am I fit to be your
wife? What will your relations, your high friends, say, at your
marrying the poor Italian girl?"

"Let them say what they will," replied Sir Harry. "There will be gibes
and scoffs enow at the old man marrying a girl young enough to be his
daughter--ay, his granddaughter. They will say he is in his dotage,
Ida, and predict all sorts of evil results."

"They will speak false," she cried, vehemently: "and if they did but
know all that I owe to you----"

"And all I owe to you, Ida," rejoined the knight, "they might
comprehend the feelings that actuate us both. I look to you, dear one,
whatever be their prophecies, to give them the lie."

"I will do it," replied Ida Mara; and she kept her word, leaving on
record, that, for once, the marriage of a man of more than sixty with
a girl of two-and-twenty produced happiness to both.



                               THE END.



     Savill & Edwards, Printers, 4, Chandos street, Covent garden.





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