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Title: Arrah Neil - or, Times of Old
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainfield)
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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     1. Page scan source https://books.google.com/books?id=4qdEAAAAYAAJ
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     2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].
     3. Missing pages were provided by the 1844 edition.



                              ARRAH NEIL

                                  BY

                            G. P. R. JAMES



                                LONDON
                  GEORGE ROUTLEDGE AND SONS LIMITED
                              MDCCCCIII



[Illustration: Logo]



_The Introduction is written by_ LAURIE MAGNUS, M.A.; _the Title-page
is designed by_ IVOR I. J. SYMES.



                            INTRODUCTION.


George Payne Rainsford James, Historiographer Royal to King William
IV., was born in London in the first year of the nineteenth century,
and died at Venice in 1860. His comparatively short life was
exceptionally full and active. He was historian, politician and
traveller, the reputed author of upwards of a hundred novels, the
compiler and editor of nearly half as many volumes of letters,
memoirs, and biographies, a poet and a pamphleteer, and, during the
last ten years of his life, British Consul successively in
Massachusetts, Norfolk (Virginia), and Venice. He was on terms of
friendship with most of the eminent men of his day. Scott, on whose
style he founded his own, encouraged him to persevere in his career as
a novelist; Washington Irving admired him, and Walter Savage Landor
composed an epitaph to his memory. He achieved the distinction of
being twice burlesqued by Thackeray, and two columns are devoted to an
account of him in the new "Dictionary of National Biography." Each
generation follows its own gods, and G. P. R. James was, perhaps, too
prolific an author to maintain the popularity which made him "in some
ways the most successful novelist of his time." But his work bears
selection and revival. It possesses the qualities of seriousness and
interest; his best historical novels are faithful in setting and free
in movement. His narrative is clear, his history conscientious, and
his plots are well-conceived. English learning and literature are
enriched by the work of this writer, who made vivid every epoch in the
world's history by the charm of his romance.


"Arrah Neil; or, Times of Old" is a characteristic mixture of history
and sentimental romance. The historical matters are concerned with an
early episode in the Great Civil War, which centred in the destinies
of the important town of Hull, the "magazine of the North." Sir John
Hotham was governor at the time that the King hoisted the Royal
Standard at Nottingham, and though he closed the gates against his
Majesty, it was felt by both sides that his defection from the
Parliament was not at all unlikely, especially if they persisted in
extreme measures. This doubtful attitude of Sir John, the strained
relations between him and his son, Colonel Hotham, and the hopes and
fears of the Royalist party as to the possession of Hull, are the
historical elements in the plot, and give rise to an intricate series
of extremely entertaining as well as exciting events. The plot is
hardly well put together; James does not trouble himself much about
his "loose ends," and it looks as though the French mission, on which
the King sends the Earl of Beverly and Captain Barecolt, were merely a
pretext for their subsequent adventures. On the other hand, the novel
contains one singular and striking success. James often attempts low
comedy and frequently fails, but in the boasting, swaggering, and
resourceful Barecolt, the indomitable Royalist soldier, who "might
have become almost as great a man as he fancied himself if it had not
been for his swaggering, drinking, drabbing, and lying propensities,"
he has given us what, according to the limits of his genius,
corresponds to Scott's Captain Dalgetty. Barecolt is a character in
every sense of the word, and his sayings and doings are as amusing as
the strange events that befall him are exciting. The story of Arrah
Neil is--a rare thing for James--a tragic one; the mystery of the plot
is happily solved, yet the end is pathetic. But the pathos is by no
means bitter or unmitigated, since the parallel half of the story ends
satisfactorily, and due retribution falls on the offenders. James
takes up the story of the Civil War again in "The Cavalier" and "Henry
Masterton," both of which deal with a more disastrous period in the
career of the Royalists. Sir John Hotham and his son ultimately paid
the penalty of their indecision, with their heads.



                             ARRAH NEIL.



                              CHAPTER I.


About two centuries ago, in times with which we are all familiar, as
they comprised a period of English history, the events of which have
affected the social condition of the British people more than almost
any which have preceded or followed that period--about two centuries
ago, there stood upon the slope of a gentle hill, in a picturesque
part of England, an old brick mansion of considerable extent, and of a
venerable though flourishing exterior. On the right hand and on the
left there was a wood of various trees, amidst which Evelyn might have
delighted to roam, choice children of the British forest, mingled with
many a stranger grown familiar with the land, though not long
denizened in it. In front was a terrace flanked with quaintly-carved
flower-pots of stone; and beyond that stretched a lawn several roods
in extent, leaving the mansion fully exposed to the eye of every one
who wandered through the valley below. Beyond the lawn again a wide
view was obtained over a pleasant scene of hill and dale, with the top
of a village church and its high tower peeping over the edge of the
first earth-wave; and far off, faint and grey, were seen the lines of
a distant city, apparently of considerable extent. The house itself
had nothing very remarkable in its appearance, and yet circumstances
compel us to give some account of it, although it is but building up
to pull down, as the reader will soon perceive. The middle part
consisted of a large square mass of brickwork, rising somewhat higher,
and projecting somewhat farther, than the rest of the building. It had
in the centre a large hall-door, with a flight of stone steps, and on
each side of the entrance were three windows in chiselled frames of
stone. On either side of this centre was a wing flanked with a small
square tower, and in each wing and each tower was a small door opening
upon the terrace. Manifold lattices, too, with narrow panes set in
lead, ornamented these inferior parts of the building in long straight
rows, and chimneys nearly as numerous towered up from the tall peaked
roofs, not quite in keeping with the trim regularity of the other
parts of the edifice. The whole, however, had a pleasant and yet
imposing effect when seen from a distance; and to any one who looked
near, there was an air of comfort and cheerfulness about the mansion
which well compensated for the want of grace. The view, too, from the
terrace and the windows was in itself a continual source of calm and
high-toned pleasure to the minds that dwelt within, for they were
those that could appreciate all that is lovely, more especially in the
works of God; and over the wide scene came a thousand varying aspects,
as the clouds and sunshine chased each other along, like the poetical
dreams of a bright and varying imagination. Morning and sunset, too,
and moonlight and mid-day, each wrought a change in the prospect, and
brought out something new and fair on which the eye rested with
delight.

It was evening: the lower limb of the large round sun rested on a dark
line of trees which filled up one of the slopes of the ground about
six miles off; and above the bright and glowing disc, which seemed to
float in a sea of its own glory, were stretched a few small dark
clouds, edged with gold, which hung over the descending star like a
veil thrown back to afford one last look of the bright orb of day
before the reign of night began. Higher still, the sky was blushing
like a bride; and woods and fields, and distant spires and hills, all
seemed penetrated with the purple splendour of the hour. Nothing could
be fairer or more peaceful than the whole scene, and it was scarcely
possible to suppose that the violent passions of man could remain
untamed and unchastened by the aspect of so much bright tranquillity.

Winding along at the foot of the hill, and marking the commencement of
what might be called the plain--though, to say the truth, the wide
space to which we must give that name was broken by innumerable
undulations--appeared a hard but sandy road, from which a carriage-way
led by a circuit up to the mansion. In some places high banks, covered
with shrubs and bushes, overhung the course of the road, though in
others it passed unsheltered over the soft, short grass of the hill;
but just at the angle where the two paths separated, the ground rose
almost to a cliff, and at the bottom was a spring of very clear water
gathered into a little stone basin.

By the side of the fountain, at the time we speak of, sat a figure
which harmonised well with the landscape. It was that of a young girl,
not yet apparently sixteen years of age. Her garb appeared to be that
of poverty, her head uncovered by anything but rich and waving locks
of warm brown hair, her face and neck tanned with the sun, her feet
bare, as well as her hands and her arms above the elbows, and her
apparel scanty, and in some places torn, though scrupulously clean.
She seemed, in short, a beggar, and many a one would have passed her
by as such without notice; but those who looked nearer saw that her
features were very beautiful, her teeth of a dazzling whiteness, her
limbs rounded and well formed, and her blue eyes under their long
jetty eyelashes as bright, yet soft, as ever beamed on mortal man. Yet
there was something wanting in her face, an indefinable something, not
exactly intellect, for there was often a keen and flashing light
spread over the whole countenance. Neither was it expression, for of
that there was a great deal. Neither was it steadiness, for there
frequently came a look of deep thought, painfully deep, intense,
abstracted, unsatisfied, as if the mind sought something within itself
that it could not discover. What it was it is difficult, nay,
impossible to say; yet there was something wanting, and all those who
looked upon her felt that it was so.

She sat by that little fountain for a long time, sometimes gazing into
the water as if her heart were at the bottom of the brook; sometimes,
suddenly looking up, with her head bent on one side, and her ear
inclined, listening to the notes of a lark that rose high in air from
the neighbouring fields, and trilled the joy-inspired hymn under the
glowing sky; and as she did so, a smile, sweet, and bland, and happy,
came upon her lip, as if to her the song of the lark spoke hope and
comfort from a higher source than any of the earth.

While she was thus sitting, more than one horseman passed along the
road; but the poor girl gave them only a casual glance, and then
resumed her meditations. One or two villagers, too, on foot, walked on
their way, some of them giving her a nod, to which she answered
nothing. A thin and gloomy-looking personage, too, with a tall hat and
black coat and doublet, rode down from the mansion, followed by two
men of somewhat less staid and abstinent appearance; and as he passed
by he first gazed on her with not the most holy smile, but the moment
after gave her a sour look, and muttered something about the stocks.
The girl paid him no attention, however.

At length a horse trotting briskly was heard coming along the
high-road; and a moment after, a gay cavalier, well mounted and armed,
with feather in his hat and gold upon his doublet, long curling locks
hanging on his shoulders, and heavy gilt  spurs buckled over his
boots, appeared at the angle of the bank. There he pulled up, however,
as if doubtful which path to take; and seeing the girl, he exclaimed
in a loud but not unkindly tone, "Which is the way to Bishop's Merton,
sweetheart?"

The girl rose and dropped him a graceful curtsey, but for her only
reply she smiled.

"Which is the way to Bishop's Merton, pretty maid?" the stranger
repeated, bringing his horse closer to her.

"The village is out there," replied the girl, pointing, with her hand
along the road; "the house is up there," she added, turning towards
the mansion on the hill; and then she immediately seated herself again
with a deep sigh, and began once more to gaze into the fountain.

The stranger wheeled his horse as if to ride up to the house, but then
paused, and springing to the ground, he turned to the girl once more,
asking, "What is the matter with you, my poor girl? Has any one
injured you? Is there anything ails you? What makes you so sad?"

She looked in his face for a moment with a countenance totally void of
expression, and then, gazing down into the water again, she resumed
her meditations without making any reply.

"She must be a fool," the stranger said, speaking to himself. "All the
better for her, poor girl; I wish I were a fool too. One would escape
half the sorrows of this life if he did not understand them, and half
the sins, too, if he did not know what he were about. What a happy
thing it must be to be a rich fool! but she is a poor one, that is
clear, and the case is not so fortunate. Here, sweetheart; there's a
crown for thee. Good faith! I am likely, ere long, to thank any man
for one myself, so it matters not how soon the few I have are gone."

The girl took the money readily, and dropped the giver a low curtsey,
saying, "Thank your worship; God bless you, sir!"

"He had need, my pretty maid," replied the stranger, "for never man
wanted a blessing more than I do, or has been longer without one." And
thus speaking, he sprang upon his horse's back again, and rode up
towards the house.

When he was gone, she to whom he had spoken continued standing where
he had left her, meditating sadly, as it seemed, for several minutes;
and at length she said in a low tone, "Alas! he does not come--he does
not come. Perhaps he will never come again--oh, how I wish he would
stay away!"

The whole speech was as contradictory as a speech could be, especially
when the look and manner were taken as part and parcel thereof. But
there was nothing extraordinary in the fact; for man is a mass of
contradictions, and there is scarce one enjoyment that does not
partake of pain, one apprehension that is not mingled with a hope, one
hope that is not chequered by a fear. Antagonistic principles are ever
warring within us, and many of the greatest contests result in a drawn
battle. If, however, the girl's first words and the last had been
evidently in opposition to each other, the wish with which she
concluded was instantly belied by the glow upon her cheek, and the
light in her eye, when she once more heard the sound of a horse's feet
coming from the direction of the little town of Bishop's Merton.

"It is he!" she cried, with a smile, "it is he! I know the pace, I know
the pace!" and running into the middle of the road, she gazed down it,
while a horseman, followed by three servants, came on at a rapid rate,
with a loose rein and an easy seat. He was a young man of seven or
eight-and-twenty, with long fair hair, and pointed beard, tall and
well made, though somewhat slight in form, with a grave and even stern
cast of features, but a broad high forehead, clear but well-marked
brows, and lips full but not large. His face, as I have said, was
grave, and seemed as he rode forward, unsusceptible of any but a cold
thoughtful expression, till suddenly his eyes lighted on the poor girl
who was watching him, when a bright and beaming smile broke over his
whole countenance, and a complete change took place, like that which
spreads over a fine country when the storm gives place to sunshine.

"Ah, Arrah Neil!" he cried, "my poor Arrah Neil, is that you come
back? Where is your grandfather, poor child? have they set him free?"
And he, too sprang from his horse, taking the girl's hand with a look
of tender compassion.

"No, he is not free," replied Arrah Neil; "he never will be free."

"Oh, yes," answered the gentleman; "these things cannot last for ever,
Arrah. Time will bring about changes, I doubt not, which will deliver
him from whatever prison they have taken him to."

"Not from that prison," answered the girl, with tears rising in her
eyes; "it is a low and narrow prison, Lord Walton. I told them he
would die when they took him, and he only reached Devizes. But they
are happy who sleep--they are happy who sleep;" and sitting down by
the side of the well, she fell into thought again.

The stranger stood and gazed at her for a moment without uttering a
word. There are times when silence is more eloquent of sympathy than
the choicest words of condolence. One of the servants, however, who
had ridden up, and was holding his lord's horse, burst forth with an
oath, "The Roundhead rascals! I wish I had my sword in their stomachs!
The good old man was worth a score of them."

"Hush!" said his master, sternly; "hush! no such words in my hearing,
Langan!"

"Then, faith, my lord, I must speak them behind your back," murmured
the man; but his master had taken a step forward, and was bending down
his head to speak to the poor girl. "Come up to the house Arrah," he
said; "you must not stay here alone, nor go back to the cottage
either. Come up to the house, and my sister will comfort and be kind
to you."

The girl gazed in his face for a moment, and then, suddenly starting
up, as if some remembrance flashed across her mind, she exclaimed,
"No, no! do not go home, sir! Do not go there. Misfortune will happen
to you if you go there--I am sure it will--I am quite sure it will."

"But why, Arrah?" asked her companion, with an incredulous smile;
"what makes you think that there is any danger? Have you seen any of
the parliament people there?"

"There was Dry, of Longsoaken," replied Arrah Neil; "but he came down
again, and it is not that. But I must not say what it is. Yet do not
go up--do not go up! kind, good Charles Walton, do not go up!"

The young nobleman looked at her with an expression of much
commiseration for her sorrows, but no reliance on her words. "I must
go, Arrah," he said; "you know my sister is there; and even if there
be danger I most go. Come up, Arrah, there's a good girl, and we will
do the best we can for you in these sad times."

The poor girl shook her head sadly, and, after a moment's pause,
replied, "Ah! you think me a fool; and so I am, perhaps, for
things trouble me much here," and she laid her finger on her brow;
"memories--memories that haunt me, but are like dreams that we try to
recall distinctly after sleep is gone, and yet have but faint images
of them, as of trees in a mist. But I am not a fool in this, sir; and
I beseech you not to go."

"Stay with her, Langan," said Lord Walton, "and bring her up to the
house. The fit is upon the poor girl, and her grandfather's death may
make it worse. You loved him well, and will be kind to her. Stay with
her, good fellow, and persuade her to come up. I must go now, Arrah,"
he continued; "but come up with Langan, for Annie will be glad to see
you again, and will try to comfort you."

Thus saying, he remounted his horse, and rode onward up the hill.



                             CHAPTER II.


In the well-sanded parlour of a small but neat inn, called the "Rose
of Sharon," on the evening of the same day whereof we have just been
speaking, and in the village, or town, as perhaps we should call it,
of Bishop's Merton--for it was beginning to give itself the airs of a
great place--sat two personages finishing their supper, about
half-past nine o'clock. Their food was a cold sirloin of roast
beef--for the English nation were always fond of that plain and
substantial commodity--and their drink was good English ale, the most
harmonious accompaniment to the meat. The elder of the two was a
hard-featured, somewhat morose-looking personage, but of a hale, fresh
complexion, with a quick grey eye. There was a great deal of thought
upon the brow; and round the mouth were some strongly defined lines,
we might almost call them furrows. He was as thin and spare, too, as a
pair of tongs, but apparently strong and active for his age, and his
long limbs and breadth of chest spoke considerable original powers. He
was dressed altogether in black; and though a tall steeple-crowned hat
lay on a chair by his side, he wore while sitting at meat, a small
round cap of dark cloth, in the shape of a half pumpkin, on the top of
his head. He had also a good strong sword leaning on the chair beside
him, habited like himself in black, with steel points and hilt.

The other was a younger man, very different in appearance; a good deal
taller than his companion, and apparently more vigorous; his face
decorated with an immense pair of moustaches, and a somewhat pointed
beard, both of that indistinct hue which may be called whey-colour.
His hair floated upon his shoulders in the style of the Cavaliers;
but, to say the truth, it seemed somewhat unconscious of the comb; and
his dress, too, displayed that sort of dirty finery which by no means
prepossesses the wary usurer or experienced tradesman with the idea of
great funds at command on the part of the wearer. His doublet of
soiled leather displayed a great number of ornamented buttons, and
shreds of gold lace; his collar and hand-ruffles were of lace which
had once been of high price, but had seen service probably with more
masters than one, and had borne away in the conflict with the world
many a hole and tear, more honourable in flag or standard than in
human apparel. Ranging by his side, and ready for action, was an
egregious rapier, with a small dagger placed beside it, as if to set
off its length to greater advantage. On his legs were a large pair of
jack-boots, which he seldom laid aside, and there is even reason to
suppose that they covered several deficiencies; and hanging on a peg
behind was a broad beaver, very unlike the hats usually worn in
England at the time, ornamented with a long red feather.

As to his countenance and its expression, both were very peculiar. The
features in themselves were not bad--the eyes large, and somewhat
prominent. The nose, which was so pre-eminent as to form the chief
object in the expanse of his countenance, whichever way his face was
turned, was not altogether ill-shaped, and might have passed muster
amongst the ordinary noses of the world, had it not been that it was
set in the midst of a patch of red, which seemed to have transferred
itself from the cheeks to unite in the centre of the face. The
expression was bold, swaggering, and impudent; but a touch of shrewd
cunning was there, diversified every now and then by a quick, furtive
look around, which seemed to show that the worthy gentleman himself,
like a careful sentinel, was always upon the watch.

Certainly, seldom were there ever seen companions more opposite than
were there seated at supper on the present occasion; and yet it not
unfrequently happens, in this strange life of ours, that
circumstances, inclination, or wayward fortune, makes our comrade of
the way the man, of all others, least like one's self; and of all the
great general principles which are subject to exceptions, that which
has the most is the fact of birds of a feather flocking together.

"I have done," said the elder of the two, laying down his knife.

"Pooh, nonsense!" cried the other; "you haven't eaten half-a-pound. I
shan't have done this half-hour. I am like a camel, Master Randal.
Whenever I have an opportunity, I lay in a store in my own stomach for
the journey."

"Or like an ass," replied the other gentleman, "who takes more upon
his back than he can carry."

"No, not like an ass either," replied the man with the great
moustaches, "for an ass bears the food for other people--I for myself.
How can you or I tell whether we shall get another meal for the next
three days? 'Tis always right to prepare for the worst; and therefore,
so long as my stomach will hold and the beef endure, I will go on."

"The man who never knows when he has enough," answered his companion,
"is sure, sooner or later, either to want or have too much, and one is
as bad as the other."

"Oh, your pardon, your pardon!" cried the tall man; "give me the too
much. I will always find means to dispose of it--I am of the _too much
faction_. It's my battle-cry, my rallying word. Give me the too much
by all means. Did you ever see a carpenter cut out a door? Did you
ever see a tailor cut out a coat? Did you ever see a blacksmith forge
a horse-shoe? They always take too much to begin with. There are
plenty of bags in the world always wide open for superfluities; but,
to say truth, I never found I had too much yet: that's an epoch in my
history which is to come."

"Because, like other fools, you never know when you have enough,"
replied the man called Randal; "and as for your future history, it
will form but a short tale, easily told."

"I know what you would say--I know what you would say," replied the
other: "that the last act will find me in the most elevated situation
I have ever filled, though I may still be a dependant. But I can tell
you, my good friend, that in my many dangerous expeditions and
important occupations, I have escaped the cross piece of timber and
the line perpendicular so often, that I fear I am reserved for another
fate, and am in great dread every time I go upon the water."

"You are quite safe," replied the other, with a grim smile: "I'll
wager a thousand pounds upon your life, in a worm-eaten boat, with a
hole in the bottom. But hemp, hemp, I would have you beware of hemp!
'Oddslife! to hear you talk of your dangerous expeditions and
important occupations---- Cease, cease! I would sleep in peace,
to-night and you will give me an indigestion."

"Pshaw!" cried the other; "you have no more stomach than a pipped hen;
and as to my exploits, what land have I not visited? what scenes have
I not seen? To whom, if not to me, was owing the defence of Rochelle?
To whom----"

"Hush, hush!" said his companion; "tell the tale to others. I would as
soon drink vinegar, or eat stale cabbage, as hear lies four times
repeated, even with a variation."

"Lies!" cried the other; "thunder and lightning, sir----"

"There, there," cried his companion, quietly waving his hand: "that
will do; no more of it. Thunder and lightning will do nothing at your
bidding; so the less you have to do with them the better, lest you
burn your fingers. Try to be an honest man, leave off lying; don't
swagger but when you are drunk; and perchance you may be permitted to
hold the horses while other men fight."

"Well, there is no use in quarrelling with a maggot," replied his tall
comrade; and, taking to his knife again, he commenced a new inroad on
the beef, in assailing which, at least, he kept his word with a
laudible degree of fidelity.

In the mean while, the gentleman in black turned his shoulder to the
table, and fell into deep thought. But after a moment or two he opened
his lips, with an oracular shake of the head, not exactly addressing
his speech to his companion, but more apparently to the hilt of his
own sword, the point of which he had brought round between his feet,
and the blade of which he twirled round and round with his hands while
he was speaking.

"Nine out of ten of them," he said, "are either rank fools or
cold-hearted knaves, presumptuous blockheads, who think they have a
right to command, because they have not wit enough to obey; or cunning
scoundrels, who aim alone at their own interests, when they are
affecting to serve only their country, and yet are fools enough not to
see that the good of the whole is the good of every part."

"Who, who, who? Whom do you mean?" answered the other.

"English gentlemen," replied the man in black; "English gentlemen, I
say."

"Complimentary, certainly," remarked his comrade; "and by no means too
general or comprehensive. I dare say it's very, true, though. So
here's to your health, Master Randal."

"Let my health alone," said Randal, "and take care of your own; for if
you drink much more of that old ale, your head to-morrow morning will
be as heavy as the barrel from which it comes, and I shall have to
pump upon you to make you fit for any business whatsoever. Come,
finish your supper, and take a walk with me upon the hill. But whom
have we here? One of the rebels, I take it. Now, mind your part, but
do not lie more than your nature absolutely requires."

The last words of this speech were, as may be supposed, spoken in a
low voice, an addition having been suddenly made to the party in the
room where they were sitting.

The personage who entered was the same thin, self-denying-looking
gentleman who had passed poor Arrah Neil, as she sat by the fountain
in the morning, and had in his own mind, charitably furnished her with
a lodging in the stocks. That we may not have to return in order to
relate this gentleman's previous history hereafter, we may as well
pause here for a moment to say the few words that are needed on the
subject, especially as some reference may be made to his former life
in another place.

Master Dry, of Longsoaken, as he was now called, had risen from an
humble origin, and, though now a wealthy man, had commenced his career
as the errand-boy of a grocer, or rather general dealer, in the
village of Bishop's Merton. His master was a rigid man, a Puritan of
the most severe cast, and his master's wife a buxom dame, given
somewhat to the good things of life, especially of a fluid kind, which
she employed the ingenuity of young Ezekiel Dry in obtaining for her,
unknown to her more abstemious better-half. He thus acquired some
small skill in deceiving sharp eyes; and it was whispered that his
worthy patron did not fail to give him further improvement in this
peculiar branch of science, by initiating him into the mystery of the
difference between a yard measure and a yard of tape or ribbon,
between a pound weight and a pound of sugar or butter; between which,
as the learned reader is aware, there is a great and important
distinction.

As worthy Ezekiel Dry grew up into a young man, his master settled
down into an old one; and at length Death, who, like his neighbours in
a country town, is compelled occasionally to go to the chandler's
shop, called one morning at the door of Ezekiel's master, and would
not be satisfied without his full measure.

The usual course of events then took place. There was a widow, and a
shopman; the widow was middle-aged and wealthy, the shopman young and
poor; and Mr. Dry became a married man, and master of the shop. During
a probation of twenty years, which his state of matrimony lasted, he
did not altogether escape scandal; but in those times, as in others,
very rigid piety (at least in appearance) was not always accompanied
by very rigid morality; and those people who conceived that they might
exist separately, looked upon the latter as of very little consequence
where the former was pre-eminent.

At length, after having resisted time and strong waters (which her
second husband never denied her in any quantity) to the age of nearly
seventy, Mrs. Dry slept with her ancestors; and Mr. Dry went on
flourishing, till at length he sold his house and shop to another
pillar of the conventicle, and bought a good estate in the near
neighbourhood, called Longsoaken. He still kept up his connection with
his native town, however, became a person of the highest consideration
therein, took part in all its councils, managed many of its affairs,
was acquainted with all its news, and was the stay of the Puritans,
the terror of the parson, and the scorn of the Cavaliers.

It was his usual custom, as he still remained a widower, to look into
the "Rose of Sharon" every fine afternoon--less, as he said, to take
even the needful refreshment of the body, than to pause and meditate
for half-an-hour, before he retired to his own house; but it was
remarked that, on these occasions, he invariably had a small measure
of some kind of liquid put down beside him, and consulted the host
upon the affairs of everybody in the place.

In the present instance, Mr. Dry had received immediate information
that two strangers had appeared at the "Rose of Sharon" between eight
and nine, and he had hastened up from Longsoaken without loss of time;
but he had spent nearly half-an-hour with the landlord in an inner
chamber, inquiring into all the particulars of their appearance and
demeanour. Now, the landlord had lost more than one good customer in
consequence of the unpleasant interference of his respected neighbour,
who had occasionally caused some of the most expensive visiters at his
house to be committed as "malignants;" but as he dared not show any
resistance or make any remonstrance to a person so high in authority
as Master Dry, of Longsoaken, his only course was to defend the
characters of his guests as far as was safe. But the worthy host was a
timid man, and never ventured to pronounce a decided opinion in the
presence of his betters.

In answer, therefore, to the questions now addressed to him, he
replied, "Oh dear, no, worshipful sir! That is to say--for one cannot
be certain of anything in this ungodly world--they do not look like it
at all. Malignants are always gay in their apparel, and the gentleman
is dressed just like yourself, all in black. He has got a Geneva
skullcap, too, I should not wonder if he were a gifted man like
yourself."

"That may be a mere disguise," said Mr. Dry.

"Then, malignants are always roystering blades," continued the
landlord; "calling for all manner of things, beginning with wine, and
ending with strong waters. Now, these good people have nought but beef
and ale; though, doubtless, as all godly men may do for the comfort of
the inner man, they will take something more warming before they go;
but, as yet, one tankard of ale is all they have had."

"That looks well," said Mr. Dry, oracularly; "not that I would condemn
any man for using creature comforts in moderation, according to his
necessity. Some men's complexion, if of a cold and melancholy nature,
does require such helps. I myself am driven to it--but what more, my
friend? Are they grave in their discourse?"

"As heart could wish," replied the landlord. "I should take them
rather for the most pious and humble----"

"I will see them myself," interrupted Dry, who began to suspect the
landlord. "It is not easy to deceive my eyes."

But the worthy host contrived to detain his worshipful fellow-townsman
for some five minutes longer, in order that the guests might finish
their meal in peace, by opening a conversation relative to the return
of "the poor silly girl, Arrah Neil," as he called her, in regard to
whom he had shrewd suspicions that Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, entertained
sentiments not quite so rigid as those which his words in the morning
might seem to imply.

On this part of their conversation, however, I shall not dwell, as it
would be neither very instructive nor very amusing, but will return
once more to the parlour of the inn which Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken,
entered with a staid and stately step, his two eyes bent upon the
ground, as if he were in deep meditation. The younger of the two
guests in the parlour lolled in his chair and bit his lip. The elder
considered Mr. Dry attentively, but suffered him to enter the room and
approach the table without saying a word. Neither did he make any
movement of limb or feature, but remained cold, stiff, and dry, as if
his limbs and his countenance were made of wood. Mr. Dry, however,
always recollected that he was a man in authority; and great success
in life, where there is any weakness of character, is sure to produce
a confident self-importance, very comfortable to the possessor
thereof, though not particularly agreeable to his friends and
companions.

As neither of the others uttered a word, then, he began the
conversation himself without farther ado.

"I trust we are brethren, sir," he said, addressing the gentleman whom
we have called Randal.

"I trust we are so," replied the other.

"Ahem!" said Mr. Dry, "my name is Dry, sir; Dry, of Longsoaken."

"You may be soaked long enough," murmured the man at the table to
himself; not loud enough to be heard; "you may be soaked long enough
before you are moistened, Mr. Dry."

But his companion, who saw his lips move, gave him a grave look and
replied to the intruder, "I am happy to hear it, sir. It is a godly
name, which I have heard of before. Will you never have done with that
beef, Master Barecolt?"

"But this mouthful, but this mouthful," replied the gentleman at the
table, "and then I am with you."

"One word before you go," said Mr. Dry: "you seem, sir, a godly and
well-disposed man, and I doubt not have been led into the right way;
but there is an air of prelatic malignancy about this person at the
table."

"You are altogether mistaken, worthy Dry," said the good gentleman who
had been paying such devoted attention to the beef; "there is nothing
malignant about my nature, and the air you talk of is but a remnant of
French manners caught while I was serving our Calvinistic brethren in
that poor, benighted land. In me, sir, you behold him whom you may
have heard of--who in the morning preached to the people in the
beleaguered city of Rochelle, from the 2nd verse of the 24th chapter
of the book of Joshua, 'Your fathers dwelt on the other side of the
flood in old time;' and who in the evening led them out to battle, and
smote the Philistines hip and thigh. That is to say, broke through the
stockade, and defeated two regiments of the guards."

"I have heard of the deed," replied Mr. Dry.

"Then you must have heard likewise," said the gentleman at the table,
rising up at full length, and making the intruder a low bow, "of
Master Deciduous Barecolt."

"I think I have, I think I have," said Mr. Dry.

"Then, again," cried Barecolt, "when I defended the pass in the
Cevennes, with only two godly companions, against the Count de Suza
and a hundred and fifty bloodthirsty Papists--you must surely have
heard of that exploit."

"I cannot say I have," replied Mr. Dry.

"Then, sir, you are ignorant of the history of Europe," answered the
other with a look of high indignation; "for trust the name of
Deciduous Barecolt is known from the mouth of the Elbe to the mouth of
the Danube, and will descend to posterity upon the stream of time,
only rendered imperishable by that which destroys other things.
Goodnight, Mr. Dry. Now, Master Randal, I am ready to accompany you.
Shall we sing a psalm before we go?"

"No," replied Randal abruptly, and picking up his hat, he led the way
out of the room.

The inn was situated near the extremity of the town; and at the
distance of about two hundred paces from the door, the two strangers
emerged from between the lines of houses, and found themselves among
the hedgerows. Without any hesitation as to the track which he was to
pursue, the younger gentleman mounted a stile to the right, and took a
path which, crossing the fields, wound gradually up over one slope
after another till it reached the brow of the hill on which Bishop's
Merton House was placed.

It was a fine clear moonlight night; and at the distance of about a
mile from the mansion, they caught a sight of its wide front,
extending along the hill till the wings were concealed by a little
wood, behind which, as they walked on, the whole building was speedily
lost.

"It is a fine old place," said Barecolt to his companion; "it always
puts me in mind of the Escurial."

"More likely puts you in mind of the stocks," said Randal; "for you
have both seen and felt the one, and never set eyes upon the other."

"How can you tell that I never saw it?" exclaimed his companion; "you
have not had the dandling of me ever since I was a baby in arms."

"Heaven forbid!" cried Randal; "but I am sure you never have seen it,
because you say you have. However, you must either speak truth
to-night or hold your tongue. I did not stop you in your course of
gasconade with that roundheaded knave at the inn, because I knew that
you must void a certain quantity of falsehood in the day, and it was
necessary to get rid of it before you came up here; for this young
lord is not one to take counterfeit coin."

"The monster!" exclaimed Barecolt; "there is not a more cruel or
barbarous creature in the earth than the man who drives from his door
all the sweet little children of the imagination which you call lies.
He is wanting in all human charity. Give me the generous and confiding
soul who believes everything that is said to him, and enjoys the story
of a traveller who relates to him wild scenes in lands he never has
visited, just as much as if it were all as true as history----"

"Which is itself a lie," rejoined the other. "Had this young man's
father been alive, you would have found a person after your own heart.
He was a man of vast capabilities of belief. His mind was but a
looking-glass, always representing what was before it; his religion
was in the last sermon he had heard, his politics in the last
broadsheet, his opinions those of his companions for the hour, his
taste the newest mode that he had seen. He was the quintessence of an
ordinary-minded man; but his son is a very different being."

Barecolt made no rash promise of abstaining from his favourite
amusement, but walked on for about a hundred yards in silence, till
suddenly his companion exclaimed, "Do you not see a strange light
shining through the wood before us? Hark, there is an alarum-bell!"
And hurrying his pace, he issued forth from the wood some three
hundred yards farther on, where the cause of the light they had
remarked became too visible.

Rising up from one of the flanking towers of the old house, in large
white volumes, to the very sky, was a tall column of smoke, spreading
out towards the top, while from the building itself poured forth the
rushing flame like a huge beacon, illuminating all the country round.
Each window in that tower and the neighbouring wing emitted the same
blaze; and it was very evident--although a number of persons were seen
moving about upon the terrace, engaged apparently in the endeavour to
extinguish the fire--that it was making its way rapidly towards the
rest of the house.

The two strangers ran as fast as possible to give assistance. But
before I pursue their adventures on that night, I must turn to speak
of all that had taken place within the mansion of Bishop's Merton
during the evening preceding the disaster which I have described.



                             CHAPTER III.


There was in the mansion of Bishop's Merton one of those delightful
old chambers which, like a warm and benevolent heart, have a nook for
every one. It was a large wide room, with a recess on one side big
enough to have formed another room, and a lesser recess at each
corner, on the same side, made by two small square turrets, each
lighted by its own windows, and containing tables and chairs of its
own, so that the studious or the meditative, but not the unsociable,
could sit and read, or muse apart, without being actually cut off from
the society assembled. The walls were all covered with tapestry,
descended through many generations in the same family, and which had
covered the walls of a similar chamber in an old castle, partly
destroyed luring the civil wars of the Roses, and pulled down at the
commencement of the reign of Henry the Eighth.

Out from the tapestry, however, after an old fashion, which certainly
showed pictures to much greater advantage than when plastered upon the
face of the wall, stood a great many portraits of different degrees of
art, supported at the lower part by a gilt iron bracket, and upheld in
a slightly sloping position by an iron bar at the top. From the cold,
severe Holbein to the rich and juicy Rubens and the poetical Vandyke,
all the famous artists of the last two centuries had exercised their
pencils in pourtraying the features of a race which had always been
fruitful in beauty; and the history of the changeful mind of those two
ages was shadowed forth in the varying costume in which the characters
appeared. Nor is it, let me say, dear reader, in passing, a alight
indication of the state of the popular mind that is afforded by the
dress of the day. Look at the Chevalier in his long floating locks,
his silks and velvets, and at the Roundhead, in his steeple hat, his
straight-cut suit and prim cloak, each with his heavy-hilted sword and
large flapping gloves, and say whether Naseby Field and Marsden Moor,
and all the deeds on either part, do not naturally, and not purely
historically, connect themselves with such apparel; and then turn to
ourselves, with our straight-cut frock-coats, neat, close-fitting
boots, and other mathematical habiliments, which seem to have been
fashioned by the rules and compasses of a Laputan sage, and tell
me whether they do not plainly speak of an age of railroads and
steam-boats.

There, however, stood the pictures of the brave and beautiful of other
times, bending down over their once-familiar halls and the doings of
their descendants, as the spirits of the dead may be supposed to gaze
upon the actions of the children they have left behind; and there in
the oriel window, just about the time of day at which we commenced
this tale, sat a creature whom those long-gone bold warriors and
lovely dames might look upon with pride, and own her of their blood.

It was a lady of some twenty years of age, not very tall, but yet, if
anything, above the middle height of women. She was very beautiful too
in feature, with a skin as white as alabaster, and as smooth, yet with
the rose glowing in her cheek, and her arched lips red and full of
health.

I have long discovered that it is impossible to paint beauty with the
pen; and, therefore, I will say no more than may be sufficient merely
to give the reader some idea of what kind and sort hers was of, more
that the harmony which ought always, and generally does, in some
degree exist between the form and mind may be understood, than to draw
a picture of which imagination would still have to fill up half the
details. Though her skin, as I have said, was so fair, her hair, her
eyebrows, and her eyes were dark--not exactly black, for in them all
there was a gleam of sunny warmth which like the dawn brightened the
deep hue of night. The expression of her countenance was generally gay
and cheerful, but varying often, as a heart quickly susceptible of
strong feelings, and a mind full of imagination, were affected by the
events in which she took part, and the circumstances around her. Youth
and health, and bountiful nature, had endued her form with manifold
graces; and though her limbs were full and rounded in contour, yet
they displayed in every movement lines of exquisite symmetry, and,
like the brother of Joab, she was swift of foot as the wild roe. As is
often the case with persons of quick fancy, her mind, though naturally
of a cheerful and hopeful bent, was nevertheless not unfrequently
overshadowed by a cloud of passing melancholy; and a look of sadness
would occasionally come into her fair face, as if the consciousness
which is in most hearts that this world of glittering delusions has
its darker scenes, even for those of the brightest fate, made itself
painfully felt at times when no apparent cause for grief or
apprehension was near. But such shadows passed quickly away, and the
general tone of her heart and her expression was, as we have said,
bright and sunshiny.

Her father had been a man who took his ideas greatly from those
amongst whom he lived. In short, he attributed too much importance to
the opinions of his fellow-men. We may attribute too little to them,
it is true, and even great men are bound to pay some deference to the
deliberate judgment of many; but it is usually--nay, invariably--a
sign of weak understanding, to depend for the tone of our own thoughts
upon those around. However, as he was thrown into the society of men
who set great value upon accomplishments, such as they were in those
days, he had made a point of having his daughter instructed in all the
lighter arts of the times. To sing, to dance, to play on various
instruments, to speak the two languages most in fashion at the court,
French and Italian, with the ease and accent of a native, had seemed
to him matters of vast importance; and as she showed every facility in
acquiring whatever he desired, he had no cause to be discontented with
her progress. She might, perhaps, have been taught to consider such
things of much importance too; but she had a mother--the safeguard of
God to our early years. That mother was a woman of a high and noble
mind, somewhat stern, perhaps, and rigid, yet not unkind or unfeeling;
and between a parent weak, though possessed of talent, and one keen
and powerful in intellect, though not quick or brilliant, it may
easily be guessed which gave the stronger impress to the mind of the
child. Thus Annie Walton learned somewhat to undervalue the
accomplishments which, to please her father, she acquired; and though
she possessed less of the stern, calm, determined character of her
mother than her brother Charles, and more of the pliant and easy
disposition of her father, yet she inherited a share of high
resolution and firm decision, which was requisite, even in a woman, to
enable her to encounter the dangers and difficulties of the times in
which she lived.

She sat then in the oriel window of the hall at Bishop's Merton,
reading a page printed roughly on coarse paper, while now a smile,
somewhat saddened, and now a look of anger, somewhat brightened by the
half-faded smile, passed over her sweet face, as, in one of the
broadsheets of the day which had been left with her a few minutes
before by Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, she saw the doings of a parliament
which began by asserting the rights of the people, and ended by
attacking the just prerogatives of the crown; which commenced by
opposing tyranny and deceit in the rulers of the land, and ended by
far exceeding all the tyranny and deceit it had opposed, and adding
the most beastly hypocrisy and violence, fraud, rapine, and cruelty,
to the crimes and follies which it had found existing. She read and
smiled--she read and sighed; for, though her family had taken no part
in the deeds of the last twelve months, and though her mother had been
through life rather attached to the doctrines of the Presbyterians
than their opponents, yet there was something in the cause of the
Cavaliers, with all their faults, in their very rashness and want of
all pretence--something in the cold-blooded hypocrisy and false
pretexts of the Parliamentarians--which had engaged her sympathies on
the losing side, and roused her indignation against the successful.

While she was thus occupied, a horseman passed rapidly before the
window towards the principal door of the house, crossing like a quick
bird in its flight; and, casting down the paper, Miss Walton ran out,
murmuring, "It is Charles!"

There was a large old-fashioned vestibule hung with pikes and arms,
corslets and head-pieces, and stags' antlers, and hunting horns, and
all the implements of real battle, and of the mimic warfare of the
chase. The door leading to the terrace stood wide open, with an old
servant on either side; and as she bounded forward with the
expectation of meeting her brother, her countenance beaming with
pleasure to greet him on his return, a stranger entered, and advanced
at once towards her.

Annie Walton's face suddenly became graver, and a blush rose into her
cheek; but the cavalier came forward with a frank and unembarrassed
air, walked straight up to her, and took her hand as if he had been an
old friend.

"You thought it was your brother," he said, with easy grace, saving
her all trouble of explanation, "and you are disappointed, Miss
Walton. Would that I had a sister to look so joyful on my return to my
old halls! but your disappointment will have no long life. Charles
Walton will be here ere the world be an hour older; and in the mean
time you must show me and my poor beast fair hospitality till the
master of the mansion comes himself to tell you more about his friend,
Sir Francis Clare."

He bowed as he thus introduced himself, and Annie Walton, with all
courtesy, but with a grave air, invited him to the hall where she had
been sitting, trying to call to mind the name he had mentioned amongst
those of all her brother's acquaintances. She could recollect no such
person, however, as Sir Francis Clare; and although there was in the
frankness of the stranger's manner something that pleased her, yet she
almost thought it too free in one whom she could not believe to be
very intimate with Lord Walton. Yet there was a grace as well as an
ease in his demeanour, a tone not easily described, but which can only
be acquired by long, intimate habits of familiarity with persons of
high mind and education, a self-possession, distinct from impudence,
which showed her at once that the visiter was not one of the wild and
reckless roysterers of the court and army of King Charles, who
presumed without merit, and endeavoured to cover vulgarity of spirit
with self-confidence.

Leading the way then to the hall, she begged the stranger to be
seated. He bowed, and let her take her place, while he remained
standing before her, calculating rapidly what was passing in her
thoughts, and, to say truth, somewhat struck with the beauty of this
cynosure of neighbouring eyes, who, whatever he might have expected to
find, went far in loveliness beyond his imagination.

There was a momentary pause while she thought of what was next to
come, but the stranger spoke first. "I must seem very bold, I fear,
and somewhat too free, Miss Walton," he said at length, "in thus
treating you as an old acquaintance; but the circumstances of these
days engender strange habits of rapidity in all our doings. Rough
times abridge ceremonies, and besides, when our thoughts are familiar
even with these whom we have never met, a sort of one-sided friendship
grows up in our breast towards them which makes us forget that it is
not reciprocal. I have so often heard your brother talk of you, so
often conversed, with him of you, that I may think myself lucky that
at our first meeting I did not offend you by calling you Annie."

"It would have surprised more than offended," replied his fair
companion, with a smile; "but Charles will, I trust, soon make us
better acquainted. Have you seen him lately?"

"Not for five years," answered Sir Francis Clare; "and yet, sweet
lady, know more of his proceedings than you do who parted with him but
a week ago; not that he is deep-dyed in plots and conspiracies kept
from his sister's ear; but simply, because he wrote to me yesterday
one of his brief but comprehensive notes, telling me what he purposed,
and giving me a rendezvous here today, which I, with my usual
impatience, have run before by near an hour. I heard of him too, as I
came along, and though I found that I should be before him, yet I
hurried on--not to surprise his sister all alone, and make her wonder
what strange rash man had come to visit her, believe me."

"Such an object were little worth the spur, Sir," replied the lady,
laughing: "but if I understand you right, your friendship with my
brother must have begun when he was in France."

"Long before that," replied the cavalier; "but when last I parted with
him he was in Italy, where he left me to return to his own house. We
bade each other farewell under the Logga de Lanzi, in the fair town of
Florence."

"Oh! how I long to see that place," cried Annie Walton--"it is one of
the dreams of my imagination which, perhaps, may never be realized."

"Few dreams of the imagination ever are," answered her companion. "He
who gives himself up to fancy is like a man led by a child, who tells
him of all the wonderful things that he will show him in the garden of
the world, and when he comes to see the marvels, finds them but May
blossoms and brier roses, that fade as soon as gathered, and leave a
bunch of thorns in his hand."

Annie Walton raised her eyes to the stranger's brow, and gazed at the
rich floating hair that covered it, to see if she could trace any of
the marks of that age which has proved the world and discovered its
delusions. But all was youthful and open; there was nothing grey or
grave, and she replied--

"You speak sadly of this earth and its enjoyments, sir; and yet I
would not part with Fancy and all her pleasant deceits if I could."

"Never! Never!" cried Sir Francis Clare, eagerly. "If I may use a
paradox, sweet lady, the deceits of reality are ten times more
dangerous than those of imagination. If all things are delusions
except the hopes of a higher and a holier world, let us keep the
pleasant delusions at least, and they are those of fancy--but what
have we here?--The last news from London?"

"The reply of the parliament to the king's message," answered the
lady; "and thirty-one good reasons for rejecting his majesty's offers,
with the godly and soul-saving declaration of several pious men
concerning Popery and Prelacy."

The stranger laughed.

"How easy is it," he cried, "to cover gross treason, not only to king,
but to country, with fair pretexts of freedom, or to hide what they
themselves call the most carnal self-seeking with a garb of religious
zeal, and to give the fairest names to the blackest passions of our
nature! 'Tis a trite remark, but one that forces itself upon us every
day; and yet this is the trade that succeeds in the world, so that
gross deceit raises itself to high places, and sits in purple and fine
linen, while Honesty is left to beg her bread, and plain Truth stands
shivering in a ragged blanket."

"But I should think such barefaced hypocrisy as this," answered the
lady, "would deceive no one. People may pretend to believe it, but it
must be mere affectation, as bad as the hypocrisy itself."

"Your pardon, madam," replied the cavalier: "there never yet was
falsehood, however impudent, which, often repeated and told with a
smooth face, would not find many to give it ready credence. Not a day
passes but we see some monstrous lie, decked out with strong
assurances of sincerity and zeal, pass current with the multitude. Oh,
lady! there is an appetite for falsehood in the world that makes the
many-headed monster gorge the food, however dirty, and, like a hungry
dog, pluck morsels from the very kennel. Yet there is some truth, too,
in what these people say. I am not one to cover them with bad names;
for, alas! however wrong they may be now, the king put himself in
fault at first. The man who suffers himself to be compelled to do
justice to others, will, some time or another, have to compel others
to do justice to him; and he who has abandoned his friends in time of
need, will surely have to lament their loss when he has to struggle
with enemies."

"And has the king done this?" asked Annie Walton.

"Strafford, Strafford," said the cavalier, with a melancholy shake of
the head; "bold, firm-hearted, gallant Strafford. That fatal error was
the downfall of King Charles. Where is the hand that now shall raise
him up? Lady, when a general finds himself in a town about to be
besieged by the enemy, he strengthens his fortifications, and throws
down all the scattered houses and indefensible suburbs that might give
the foes advantage in their approach; but the king pursued a different
course: he threw down his defences, and maintained all the suburbs and
weak points. But this is sorry conversation for a lady's ears," he
continued. "What a fair scene does this window show! In riding through
the low ground I did not mark all the beauty around me."

"It is indeed as fine a view as any in the country round," replied
Annie Walton; "and often, when I feel sad at heart, I come and gaze
out here, and seem to find comfort and confidence from the sight."

"And are you ever sad at heart?" asked Sir Francis Clare, with a
smile.

"Not very often, it is true," she answered; "but still, in the present
disturbed state of the country, which is like one of those dark storms
through which one can see no glimpse of coming sunshine, I cannot but
sometimes feel fears and apprehensions--not for myself, indeed, for no
one would hurt a woman, I suppose, but for my brother; and when I am
thus depressed I need the sight of things which speak, with a voice
not to be misunderstood, of God's power, and his goodness too, to show
me that though the tempest may rage for a time, it will give place to
brighter hours at last, and perhaps in itself work benefit even while
it seems destined to destroy."

"Oh, may you ever feel thus!" cried the cavalier, eagerly; "for it was
such faith brought back the dove to the ark at length. Yet often, when
we see a world of roaring waters around us, and destruction on every
side, the heart will sink, and trust and confidence give way for a
time. But still," he added, laughing, "I am not one to entertain many
sombre thoughts; and if the gay companions of thoughtless hours could
know with what sad ideas I have entertained a fair lady, they would
recommend me a Geneva skull-cap and a straight black cloak. I can
assure you, our talk in the court is much less solemn. Except for an
hour in the morning, when we speak soberly of war and policy, as men
take a walk after breakfast for a good digestion, our days pass much
in the consideration of lace collars, the fashion of sword-knots, and
of how to get them. The world, I believe, and most of the things in
it, are not worth the waste of five minutes' heavy thought; and,
weighed in a just balance, perhaps, a madrigal and a charge of horse,
a sonnet of tiffany poetry, and the plan of a campaign, are matters
much more nearly of the same importance than we think.--But there
comes your brother, or I am mistaken."

"Yes, yes!" cried the lady, gladly, gazing out of the open window into
the valley, along which a small party of horsemen were riding: "he
will be here directly." And she and her companion, whose conversation
had greatly won upon her, continued watching the progress of the young
Lord Walton, as he rode rapidly along the valley, till he was hid
behind the high-wooded banks, near which, as we have already related,
he paused to hold a short conversation with poor Arrah Neil. They
wondered what detained him so long under the trees; but after a brief
pause he appeared again, and in a few minutes he sprang from his horse
at the hall-door.



                             CHAPTER IV.


"Ha, Francis!" exclaimed Lord Walton, grasping the cavalier's hand
with warm eagerness, as soon as he had received the embrace of his
sister, "are you here before me? You must have used the spur from
Worcester, if your letter left the good town before you."

"I have used the spur, Charles," replied his friend, "on purpose to
outrun you, and introduce myself to this fair lady without your
assistance. You know I was always the most impatient of mortals, and
strange, I fear, she thought me; for I could plainly see that she had
never heard the name of Francis Clare before." He spoke the last words
with a gay laugh and some emphasis.

"Perhaps not," answered Lord Walton, with a grave smile; "but she must
know you now, Francis, as one of her brother's dearest and oldest
friends. However, I must send her away from us for a minute, for I
have a task for her, sad, but pleasing to perform. I just now found
poor Arrah Neil, dear Annie," he continued; "she was sitting by the
Bishop's Well, dark and sorrowful, as well she may be. The poor old
man Neil is dead. They dragged him as far as Devizes, where the lamp
that has burned so faintly for the last two years went out, and the
poor girl has found her way back hither. Something must be done for
her, Annie; and till we can settle what, she must stay here. I left
Langan with her to bring her up; so see to her comfort, sister, for by
her dress I think they must have robbed her by the way."

"Poor child!" cried Annie Walton. "I was sure the old man would die.
Can these really be Christians, Charles--for a few rash words, spoken
in haste, to take a man of seventy from his sick bed?"

"His words meant more than they seemed, Annie," answered her brother;
"at least, so I gather from their answer to my application for his
release; but see to her comfort, dear girl, and then come back to us,
for the poor thing spoke of some evil hanging over me here, and,
though at times so strange, I have often remarked she speaks not
lightly."

"No indeed, Charles," replied his sister, with an anxious look. "Evil
hanging over you? What can she mean?"

"I know not, Annie," replied Lord Walton. "Nothing has happened to
cause you alarm, has there?"

"Nothing," she answered. "Dry, of Longsoaken, was here this morning,
but he was all smoothness and civility."

"That looks ill," said Sir Francis Clare. "He must be a Roundhead by
his name; and whenever they speak smoothly, beware of the serpent in
the grass."

"And he is a serpent, if ever the earth produced one," answered Lord
Walton, thoughtfully. "Did he speak smoothly and civilly? So, so! What
was the object of his visit, Annie? or had he any apparent object?"

"Purely, it seemed," replied Miss Walton, "to ask after my health
during what he called your long absence. I told him your absence had
not been long--only a week; and that you had already concluded your
business with the committee, and would return to-day. So then he left
that paper with me, which he said must be marrow and fatness to all
well-disposed noblemen like yourself. But, indeed, he seemed well
affected towards you, and said, I now recollect, something about the
people of Bishop's Merton having encroached upon your land at Sarham,
which he should be happy to set right for you, and which he could do,
if you pleased, without your name appearing in the matter, so as not
to affect your popularity with the God-fearing people of the place."

"Where did he learn I ever feared to have my name appear in any act I
did?" asked Charles Walton, proudly. "'Tis but such low and creeping
things as he is who do things they dare not own. He had some other
object; this is all a pretence. But go, dear Annie; there is Langan
with the poor girl: perhaps she will tell you more than she would say
to me; but do not press her, Annie, if she be unwilling.--And now,
Francis," he continued, as his sister left the room, "first, welcome
after so long an absence; next, what is this serious business that you
would speak with me upon?"

"Faith, but a little matter as this world goes," replied his friend;
"and yet one which would have been considered mighty some ten years
ago. Now men draw two straws for the longest, or toss up a crown-piece
to know, which party they will choose; whether they will fight for
their rightful king or his rebel parliament----"

"Not quite so, Francis," replied Charles Walton, seriously; "With me,
at least, the question would ever be a serious one, whether I should
draw my sword for the representatives of the people of England, when
fighting for the just liberties of the land, or for a sovereign who
has somewhat infringed them--even if the case stood exactly as the
parliament puts it; but----"

"I am glad you have added those words, Charles," interrupted the
cavalier; "for on them hangs all the rest. The king is willing to do
ample justice to all men. Granted that he has committed faults--and
who has greater cause to complain than I have?--granted that he has
had bad advisers--granted that he sacrificed Strafford----"

"A terrible fault indeed," replied Lord Walton.

"Granted that his exactions were unjust--ship-money a breach of the
best and soundest laws--the star-chamber an iniquitous tyranny; still
these errors were a part of his inheritance; and perhaps, if we looked
closely, we should find that our fathers who suffered, and by
suffering encouraged such things--who fawned upon the hand that
pressed them to the ground--who bowed readily to tyranny whenever it
stretched forth its rod--have as great a share of the responsibility
as he has who only used the powers transmitted to him by his
predecessors. But I came not to discuss such questions, Charles
Walton. The king has committed errors; he grieves for them; he is
ready to repair them; he has done all that man can do to remedy evils
past, and provide security against their recurrence. He calls upon
every loyal subject to aid him, not only in defending the throne
itself, but the country, from those who would evidently shake its
constitution to the ground, overthrow its best institutions, and
establish, if not the reign of anarchy, the rule of a many-headed
monster, which will, if tolerated, end in a despotism more terrible
than any we have yet seen within the land. And will Charles Walton,
gallant and chivalrous as he is known to be--will he refuse to obey
that call? Or is he, who was wont to be so clear-sighted and so keen,
one of those who believe that the pretences of the parliament are
true; that they seek but to reduce the power of the crown within due
limits, to lop the prerogative of those branches that bore oppression,
and secure the freedom of the people, yet leave the stability of the
throne? Or does he approve of hypocritical pretexts even to gain such
ends? No, no! I know him better."

"Certainly," replied the young nobleman; "I neither approve the
practices nor believe the pretences of the parliament. But I have
hitherto trusted, my dear friend, though they may be now intoxicated
with authority, the exercise of which is new to them, and in their
pride may encroach upon both the prerogative of the crown and the
liberty of the subject--for I can conceive a parliament to become a
more terrible tyrant than even a monarch--yet I say, I have trusted
that the wiser and the better members of that body will recover from
the drunkenness that some have felt, and the fears that have affected
others; and that, at all events, if any dangerous and outrageous
exercise of power should take place, those who have never favoured the
arbitrary use of the royal prerogative, or the licentious exactions of
the commons, may have sufficient weight to counterbalance that
authority which is but delegated by the people, and which the people
can again resume."

"Fatal confidence," exclaimed the cavalier, with a dark and melancholy
look, "which never has been, never will be justified! Yet it is one
that in all civil strifes many wise and many good men have
entertained, till they discovered, when too late, how cruelly they had
deceived themselves; till, hanging between two parties and supporting
neither, they saw the one sink lower and lower, and the other, which
perhaps they most condemned, rise into power, and go on in evil; and
then, when they strove to arrest the course of wrong, found themselves
either carried away by the current and involved in wickedness they
would fain have opposed, or sunk beneath the torrent with those who
endeavoured to divert it while it was yet feeble, and whose efforts
they might have rendered successful, had they joined therein in time.
Let me tell you, Charles, that in the history of all contentions such
as those that now shake the land, there is a time when the balance of
sincerity and right is clearly on one side, and that it is then true
lovers of their country should step in with their whole strength to
turn the balance of power upon that side also. There is such a time,
believe me; and now is the moment!"

"Perhaps it is," answered Lord Walton, thoughtfully. "I said, my
friend, that I had hitherto felt the impressions I described. I did
not deny that they are somewhat shaken, perhaps more than I believe."

"When that time has come," continued the cavalier, without appearing
to mark his reply, "it is the duty of every man to ask himself, On
which side is now the right? on which side is now the danger? and,
casting away the memory of old faults and old grievances, to choose
boldly and conscientiously between the two. If he chooses well, it
will be easy for him at any after-time to guard against a renewal of
errors on the part of those whom he supports; but if from any fear of
such a renewal he turns to the side which he knows to be acting amiss,
he commits himself for ever to the errors he supports, and can never
hope to stop their course, or avert their consequences. What I ask you
then to do is, to choose! I say not, join the king: I say not, oppose
the parliament: I merely say, lay your hand upon your heart,
forgetting mistakes that are past, ask yourself, which is now right,
and which is now wrong? and choose as your conscience shall direct."

Lord Walton paused for a few moments in deep thought; then giving his
hand to his friend, he said, "I will! Ask me no more at present,
Francis; nor inquire whether, when I say, _I will_, I might not say,
_I have_. Resolutions such as these had better be spoken of as little
as possible till they can be executed. Stay till to-morrow morning:
then back to the king; your further presence here might be dangerous
to yourself and hurtful to your cause. And now to other things: how
long had you been here before I came?"

"Long enough to find it a dangerous abode, good friend," replied the
cavalier. "In truth, Walton, if you have not got an angel here, you
have what is more like one than any thing my eyes have yet seen."

"Oh! I know your gallant speeches," answered Charles Walton, with a
laugh, his face losing the grave cast which was habitual to it, and
brightening with cheerful light; "but Annie is well accustomed to hear
sweet things, and I fear not the effect of any high-flown southern
compliments on her little heart, which, however gentle, is firm enough
to stand a longer siege than any you will have time to give it. But,"
he added, while his brow grew sad again, "I will own to you, Francis,
it is her future fate that in these troublous times half makes a
coward of me; and, though knowing what is right, that will I do; yet
there is a hesitating fear within me, that in the course I am destined
to pursue, I may bring down sorrow and misfortune upon that bright,
kind being, who has been ever my sunshine and my hope."

"I can feel that it must be so, Charles," replied his friend, gravely.
"Had I a sister such as that, it would be so with me. Therein I can do
little to console, and perhaps less to counsel or to help you. But
yet, Charles Walton, you know I am something of the ancient knight: my
sword and heart for my king and my fair lady; and without any rash
promising of love for one whom I have only known an hour, such as
one-half of our gay courtiers would make, I promise you, that whatever
befalls you, so long as life and strength last, my next thought, after
my duty to God and my sovereign, shall be to care for the protection
and safety of my friend's sister."

Lord Walton smiled, with a look in which pleasure and grief were
strangely blended, but he replied nothing, merely once more pressing
Clare's hand.

"Why do you smile, Charles?" asked the cavalier. "Is it that you think
me too young, too light, too gay, to take such a task upon myself. My
honour, my regard, you do not doubt, I know, and as for the rest,
these are days when the old times of chivalry must revive, or the sun
will set in darkness indeed; and in these ancient periods men young as
I am have, with a holy devotion, been the safeguards and protectors of
dames well nigh as fair and bright as this, if we may believe the
tales we read."

"But those tales still ended in a marriage, Francis," said Lord
Walton.

"Well there let it!" cried the cavalier, gaily. "Here I dedicate my
heart and sword to her. Those bright eyes shall be my loadstars on the
road to glory, her smile give double vigour to my arm, and fresh
sharpness to my lance. There, Walton, is not that the true Orlando?
But seriously, what meant your somewhat rueful smile just now? Was it
that you thought the gay youth of former days but little fit to supply
a brother's place in time of need; or, perhaps, still less, to take a
husband's duties on him, if fate and circumstances should draw your
sister's heart towards him? But let me tell you, Charles, these are
times that make even the thoughtless think; and when I buckled me to
the cause I serve, I cast away and left in foreign lands all but the
higher purposes of the heart."

"No, no, Francis," replied Lord Walton, interrupting him; "it was
neither doubt, nor fear, nor mockery, that made me smile. You do not
suppose that, did I not know and see all that is noble and generous in
your nature, and bright and keen in your mind, I would have taken you
to my heart as I have done. That there might be some weeds in the
garden I will not deny; but they were only such as an hour's labour
would pluck out with ease, or such as would wither away under the
first hot sun, and leave the flowers and fruit behind uninjured. I
smiled but to think that some five years ago, when we were both in
happier days than these, I often thought that I would gladly give my
Annie to my early friend, but little dreamed that times might come
when he himself would offer, ere he had seen her twice, to be her
defender and protector in case of her brother's death: and who shall
say, Francis, how soon such loss may call for such support. But here
she comes again; let us say no more of this; but, thank you, thank you
from my heart for all you promise. I know right well that promise will
be kept, if it cost your last drop of blood."

The faces of both gentlemen were grave when Annie Walton joined them,
and on hers too there were traces of some tears. "Poor Arrah Neil!"
she said; "hers indeed has been a hard fate. She has made me weep with
the tale of the old man's sufferings, so mildly and so sweetly did she
tell it. But I could obtain no further information in regard to the
danger she apprehended might befall you, Charles; and I cannot but
think that her words were spoken in one of those strange dreamy moods
that sometimes fall upon her."

"I think so too," answered Lord Walton; "at least it may be so. Where
have you lodged her, Annie?"

"She is with good dame Rachel now," answered his sister; "but to-night
she is to have the little room near the west tower, and to-morrow you
must tell me more of your plans for her, Charles."

"I will, I will," replied Lord Walton, "to-morrow; ay, to-morrow," and
he fell into thought, without concluding the sentence.

The evening passed more cheerfully than the conversation which has
been detailed seemed to promise. All were anxious to snatch a few
hours from the gloomy thoughts that hung over the times, and few
allusions were made to the circumstances of the day; but any other
subject which minds full of rich stores could produce was chosen, as
if to exclude more sombre topics. From time to time, indeed, both
Annie Walton and their new companion would for a moment or two look
grave and sad, as some passing cloud of thought swept over them; but
the young lord, whose power over himself was great, kept the same even
tenor, not gay, for such was not his disposition; not gloomy or
meditative, for he did not choose to be so, but calm and easy,
conversing without apparent effort on a thousand varied things, and
never for an instant showing the least absence or forgetfulness. Yet,
perhaps, all felt that there were dangers and disasters abroad on
every side, though they sat there as a cheerful party, with the
windows of the heart closed against the storm that raged without.

There was but one moment when a shadow seemed to fall upon all, and
that too was produced by a song. Charles Walton had asked his sister
to sing before they parted for the night; and after some thought,
seeking in vain for a livelier strain, she chose--perhaps from the
irrepressible anxieties of her own heart--a little ballad, which had
been a favourite of her mother's, to the following effect:--


                              THE SONG.

          Hope sung a song of future years,
            Replete with sunny hours,
          When present sorrow's dew-like tears
            Should all be hid in flowers.

          But Memory backward turned her eyes,
            And taught the heart to fear
          More stormy clouds, more angry skies,
            With each succeeding year.

          But still Hope sung, as by that voice
            Such warnings sad were given,
          In louder strains bade Youth rejoice,
            And Age look on to heaven.


Each kept silence for a minute or two after the song was done, and
each gave a sigh; but then the cavalier would fain have persuaded Miss
Walton to sing again, for her voice was one of those full of native
music, which the ear longs for when once heard, as the weary heart of
manhood thirsts to taste again the fearless joys of infancy. But she
declined, saying she was somewhat weary; and shortly after the little
party separated for the night.

Charles Walton shook his friend's hand warmly as they parted, at a yet
early hour, and adding to the good-night, "We will speak more before
you go to-morrow," he himself retired to his chamber, to pass several
hours in meditation ere he lay down to rest.

As soon as he was alone, the young lord sent away a servant who was
waiting for him, and then leaned his head upon his hand for some ten
minutes without moving. At length he raised his eyes to a heavy sword
that hung above the old carved mantel-piece, rose, took it down, drew
it from the sheath, and gazed upon the blade. There were some dents
and notches in the edge; and saying in a low tone, "It has done good
service--it may do more," he thrust it back again, and hung it up as
before.

"I will go to my cabinet and write two lines to the king," he added,
after a short pause; but then again he stopped and meditated,
murmuring, "No, it were better not to write: such documents are
dangerous. I will send a message. I see they suspect me already. It
were as well to destroy the commission and those other papers, and, if
at all, at once. I will do it now. What is the matter?" he continued,
as some one knocked at the door.

"Charles, Charles!" cried his sister, coming into the room; and as he
sprang to meet her, he saw that her face was very pale.

"There is a terrible smoke," she exclaimed, "and a rushing sound like
fire."

"Where? where?" asked her brother, eagerly hurrying towards the door.

"In the corridor, beyond my room," answered Annie, "towards the west
wing. Oh, bid them ring the alarum-bell!"

"On no account! on no account!" cried her brother, darting out. "Call
all the servants, Annie! Run, Alice!" he continued, to one of his
sister's maids, who had followed her, pale and trembling; "send Hugh
and Roger here, and then call the rest. Smoke, indeed! There is fire
somewhere! Quick, girl! quick! Go back, my Annie, and dress yourself
again. I will soon tell you more." And thus saying, he hurried on
through the wide gallery, upon which the door of his bed-room opened,
and then along the corridor beyond.

The smoke grew thicker at each step he took; the crackling and rushing
sound of fire soon became audible, and then a fitful flash broke
across the obscurity, like that of a signal-gun seen through a heavy
mist.

In a minute he was at a large door which closed the end of the
corridor, and, through the neighbouring window he could see the
projection of one of the flanking towers, with a small loophole
showing a red glare within.

"Here is the fire," he cried, "in my own cabinet! How can this have
happened?" and he laid his hand upon the latch. The door was locked.
He tried to turn the key, but it was embarrassed. "Bring me an axe!"
he exclaimed, hearing several of the servants following him rapidly.
"Bring me an axe directly--quick--quick!--all the papers will be
burned," and again he tried to turn the key.

"The charter chests were removed, my lord, to the next room," said the
good servant Langan. "I moved them myself by your own order, just
before we went, that the floor might be repaired."

The young lord laid his hand upon his brow for an instant, and then
said, "Let the rest perish then! It is no matter; and just as he
spoke, the alarum-bell rang loud and long.

"What fool has done that?" exclaimed Charles Walton. "Ah, Francis! is
that you?" he continued, speaking to Sir Francis Clare, who was up and
following him fully dressed. "A word in your ear: mount your horse
quickly and begone," he whispered. "We shall have all the country on
us in half-an-hour. See, there are some twenty on the terrace already.
Langan, here--go the round with this gentleman to the stables by the
back way, then through the wood with him till he is beyond the
grounds. Francis, say I am determined!" he added again, lowering his
voice. "You shall see me soon. Away, away, good friend! You know not
the people here."

By this time servants were hurrying up with buckets of water, and with
axes to break down the door; but before he suffered that to be done,
Lord Walton turned to one of those behind, saying, "See to poor Arrah
Neil; she is in the chamber just beneath us. Take her to your lady's
room. Now, Roger, you and Dick move out the chests from the place
where Langan says he put them. Take them down to the terrace; but set
some one to watch them. Hark! there is something fallen within."

"The great case of books, my lord, by the sound," said one of the men.

"Now give me an axe," cried the young nobleman, and with a few blows
he dashed the lock off the door, and pushed it open, bidding the men
throw in the water as he did so.

Out burst the flames and smoke, however, as soon as the obstruction
was removed, with such fury, that all were forced to run back; and as
it somewhat cleared away, the frightful scene of destruction that the
interior of the tower displayed, too plainly showed that there was no
possibility left of saving that part of the building.

"Now, my good men," cried the young lord, "let as many as can find
buckets keep pouring on the water. The others help me to cut away the
woodwork between the tower and the rest. Some of you run up to the
corridor above, break down the panelling, and throw it back away from
the flames. Fear not, but at all risks cut off the tower from the rest
of the house. Call some of those men up from below. Why do they stand
idle there?"

The scene of hurry and confusion that succeeded can be imagined by
those who have witnessed the consternation produced by a fire in a
rural district, where few of those means and appliances which in great
towns exist in plenty, but often are found ineffectual even there, are
to be met with at all. To prevent the flames from extending to the
rest of that wing was found impossible, notwithstanding all the
efforts of the noble master of the mansion, and the strenuous
exertions of his servants, who speedily recovered from the first
confusion of surprise, and recollected the old military habits which
they had acquired in former days. The tenantry, too, who flocked up at
the sound of the alarum-bell, gave eager but not very efficient help,
as well as a number of the townsfolk; but still the fire gained
ground, extended from the tower to the rooms in the wing, ran along
the cornices, caught the beams, and threatened the whole building with
destruction, when a tall, grave stranger in a black cloak and hat
walked calmly up to Lord Walton, who had come down to the terrace to
give directions to the people below, and said in a low tone--

"A few pounds of gunpowder, my lord, and a linen bag laid above that
doorway, and under the coping-stone, will separate the fire from the
building. The stone passage cuts it off below; there is but a narrow
gallery above, and if you can but break up the corridor----"

"I see! I see!" cried Lord Walton. "Thanks, sir, thanks. Run, Hugh, to
the armoury; you will find some powder there."

"I beg, sir, that I may be permitted to make the _saucisson_," cried a
tall man in flaunting apparel. "At the celebrated siege of Rochelle I
constructed the famous petard wherewith we blew in the----"

"I thank you, sir," replied the master of the mansion, looking at the
person who addressed him from head to foot with a quick but marking
gaze; "I will make it myself;" and without further notice he proceeded
to give the necessary orders, and to take precautions both to ensure
the safety of all persons near, and to guard the building as much as
possible from damage by the explosion.

When all was ready, he went into the house to bring his sister forth,
lest by any chance the rooms in which she had hitherto remained should
be shaken more than he expected; and then, after having placed her at
a distance, he himself fired the train, which, being unconfined,
except at one part, carried the flame in an instant to the bag of
powder, causing it to explode with a tremendous roar. A quantity of
brickwork was thrown into the air; the gallery above fell in the
moment after; and then, after a short pause, a tall neighbouring tower
between the place where the powder had taken effect, and that where
the fire was raging, bulged out about half-way up, and then crashed
down, strewing the terrace with a mass of broken ruins.

In the anxiety and excitement of the moment, Lord Walton had observed
little but what was passing immediately before him; but as he marked
the effect and was turning round to look for his sister, in order to
tell her that the rest of the mansion was saved, the stranger in black
who had spoken to him before, once more addressed him in a low voice,
saying--

"You had better look to those chests, my lord; Colonel Thistleton is
eyeing them somewhat curiously. As for me, I will wish you good-night;
I love not the neighbourhood of parliamentary commissioners; but if
you want good help at need, which perhaps may be the case soon, you
have only to send a trusty servant to inquire for Martin Randal at
Waterbourne, ten miles hence, and you will have fifty troopers with
you in two hours."

"I understand, I understand, major!" replied Lord Walton. "God speed
you with my best thanks Colonel Thistleton! What came he here for?"

"No good," replied Randal, walking away and beckoning to his tall
companion, who followed him with a pompous stride, while Lord Walton
turned towards the spot to which he had directed his attention. He
there perceived for the first time, three men on horseback, and one
who had dismounted and was speaking with a servant who had been placed
to watch the two large chests of papers which had been removed from
the wing of the building.

As Lord Walton gazed at him, he stooped down once more to look at the
chests with a curious and inquiring eye; and striding up to him at
once, the young nobleman demanded, in a stern tone--

"Who are you, sir? and what do you want with those cases?"

"My name, my lord, is Thistleton," replied the other; "a poor colonel,
by the permission of Providence, in the service of the parliament of
England; and when matters are a little more composed I will inform
your lordship, as my errand is with you, what excited my curiosity in
regard to these cumbrous packages."

"Oh, Colonel Thistleton! That is a different affair," answered Lord
Walton. "As soon as I have ascertained that all further danger of the
fire spreading is past, I will have the honour of entertaining you as
far as my poor house, half destroyed as it is, will admit."

The parliamentary colonel bowed gravely, and the young nobleman then
proceeded to give further directions to his people, mingling with
commands respecting the fire and the security of the rest of the
mansion, sundry orders spoken in a low tone to those servants on whom
he could most rely, and to some of his principal tenants.

When he had assured himself that all was safe, and had set a watch, he
returned to his sister's side, and led her back to the house,
whispering as he went--

"Keep two of your maids with you in your chamber tonight, Annie. See
to poor Arrah Neil; and at dawn tomorrow, dear girl, make preparations
for a journey. Ask no questions, sweet sister, but pack up all that
you most value--all trinkets, jewels, gold and silver, for we may,
perhaps, have to go far."

Annie Walton gazed at him with a look of sorrowful, half-bewildered
inquiry; but he added, "I cannot explain now, dear one; I will tell
you more to-morrow;" and she followed him silently into the house,
where he left her, and at once went back to show as much courtesy to
Colonel Thistleton and his companions as the feelings of his heart
would permit.



                              CHAPTER V.


"This is a lamentable and very sad visitation, my lord," said Colonel
Thistleton, as soon as he was seated with two companions in the large
room we have before described.

"It is indeed, colonel," replied Lord Walton, "and will cost me at
least ten thousand pounds to repair; so that I hope you have not come
for anything like a benevolence, such as our kings of old used
sometimes to levy upon their subjects, for I could ill spare one to
the honourable house just now.----Langan," he continued to the servant
who appeared at the door, "have wine and meat set out in the hall. We
shall all want refreshment."

"No, my lord," replied Colonel Thistleton, with some degree of
hesitation; "the houses of parliament resort to no illegal and
unjustifiable acts of taxation. Labouring but for the defence of
themselves, of the king's person, and the liberty and laws of the
kingdom, they take care to abide by the true rights and customs of the
country; but at the same time, my lord, they think it but proper and
necessary, as well for the safety of the state as for the exculpation
of persons unjustly accused, to inquire into and examine, either by
the judges appointed by law, or by a committee of their own body,
where any highly honourable and devout person is subjected to calumny,
into all charges of resistance to the authority of the two houses, or
of conspiracy for the purpose of levying war and further endangering
the condition of the poor distracted realm."

The colour somewhat increased in Lord Walton's cheek, but without
pause he replied, gravely--

"They are quite right, sir; and if, as I gather from what you say, you
are come into this part of the country upon such an errand, you will
find me very ready and willing to give you every assistance in my
power."

Now, the commission Colonel Thistleton had to perform was of a nature
somewhat delicate; for the demeanour of the Walton family, at the
first resistance shown to the arbitrary proceedings of the court, had
been favourable to the views of general freedom, which were then alone
apparent on the side of the parliament; and though it had become
evident that the young lord had grown cold as they stretched their
pretensions, and had even remonstrated against several of their
proceedings, yet his course had not been so decided as to cut off all
hope of attaching him to the party favourable to resistance of the
royal authority by arms, while the task that the worthy committee-man
was charged to execute was one likely to alienate him for ever, if the
grounds for suspicion were found unreasonable. However, he was a
skilful man, ever ready to take advantage of opportunity, and he
therefore replied--

"I was quite sure, my lord, that we should find every readiness in
your lordship. We have, indeed, the unpleasant duty to perform (which
I trust we shall do discreetly) of investigating charges against a
number of persons in this country; but as it is advisable that those
in whose affection and loyalty we have the utmost confidence should
set an example to others against whom there is just cause of
suspicion, it is as well that I should inform your lordship that not
long since, at Chippenham, a false and calumnious accusation was made
against you to our worthy brother, Dr. Bastwick, here present----"

"Of which I do not credit a word," added the doctor.

"Charging you with countenancing the cruel preparations for war made
by the king against his loyal subjects, and with having entered into
correspondence with his majesty, and received a commission under his
hand to levy horse against the honourable houses."

He paused, as if for a reply, and Lord Walton, with a frowning brow
and flushed cheek, answered--

"So, sir, I am to suppose, in short, that you have come hither to
examine my house, and search for the correspondence you speak of?"

"Exactly, sir," replied a less prudent member of the committee, named
Batten; but Thistleton cut him short by adding, "We are perfectly sure
that your lordship, whose family have always been godly and
well-disposed, would rejoice at an opportunity of showing the world
how readily you would submit to the authority of parliament, and clear
yourself of all false and unjust reproaches."

"Should such reproaches against a person of such a character be
listened to for a moment?" asked the young nobleman; "and on my word,
gentlemen," he added, "you are somewhat bold men to venture on the
task."

"Not so bold as you give us credit for, my lord," replied Batten,
taking once more the reply out of Thistleton's mouth: "there is a
troop of horse under your park wall."

"Then it seems," rejoined Lord Walton, "that you did not really
calculate upon such unresisting submission as you affected to expect
at first. I must, of course, yield to force. However," he continued
with a smile, "I am certainly not prepared to resist, even if I were
willing."

"That want of preparation shows your lordship to be innocent,"
answered the cautious Thistleton--"a point upon which I have no doubt.
It was judged necessary to institute inquiries into all cases of
malignant resistance to the authority of parliament in this country;
and it was to meet any opposition in such instances that the troop of
horse was sent, not against your lordship, of whose conduct we are
quite sure, though we thought it would show unrighteous partiality if
we did not in some way notice the charges made against you----"

"Charges made upon oath, be it remarked," said Dr. Bastwick.

"Well, gentlemen," rejoined Lord Walton, "it is useless to discuss
this question further. I will even take it for granted that you have
due warrant for your proceeding, and merely ask what you intend to do
next."

"Why, the fact is this, my very good lord," replied Thistleton: "the
information stated that we should find the papers in question in the
west tower, in a chamber used by your lordship as a cabinet or
writing-room, on the first floor from the ground. Now, I was informed
but now, that two large chests which I saw on the terrace without
contained writings of value, which had just been removed from the
fire. It would be satisfactory to us to look into those cases."

"Surely not to-night," said the young nobleman.

"I think it would be expedient," said Thistleton.

"It would prevent evil surmises," added Bastwick.

"No time like the present," cried Batten. "The king's commission might
be gone before to-morrow."

"The keys, I fear, have been lost in the fire," answered Lord Walton,
giving him a look of contempt.

"They will easily be broken open," replied Batten.

"I may not exactly like to have all my papers left open to the world,"
said the young nobleman, gravely; "but having now clearly ascertained
how far the suspicions of the parliament really go, I will make
no further objection. But I give you all notice, that I protest
against this act; and that when next I take my place amongst
the peers of England, I will move for an inquiry into the whole
proceeding.----Without there! bring in those cases of papers, and some
instrument for forcing open the locks." Thus saying, he rose, and,
turning to the window, looked out upon the terrace, which was still
partially illuminated by the fitful glare of the decaying fire in the
tower.

In a few minutes four stout servants appeared, carrying in the chests,
and having received orders to break them open, soon laid the contents
bare before the eager eyes of the parliamentary commissioners. Great,
however, was their disappointment to perceive nothing on the top but
old deeds and parchments, with many a waxen seal pendent from its
broad ribbon. They were not so easily satisfied, however, and
proceeded to turn out the whole contents, strewing the floor of the
saloon with yellow papers, while Lord Walton spoke a few words to
Langan, who left the room.

"Well, gentlemen, are you satisfied?" asked the young nobleman at
length, when the bottom of each case was laid bare. "If so, the
servants shall replace the papers, and we will to supper."

The committee whispered together for a moment ere they replied, but
Lord Walton could catch the words "No, no! not now. To-morrow at
daybreak. There has evidently been no preparation. Have up the troop
by that time," and other broken sentences, which evidently showed him
that further proceedings were in contemplation.

"We will, my lord, put off any further perquisitions till to-morrow,"
Colonel Thistleton replied at length, "upon your lordship pledging us
your word of honour that you will not leave the house, nor send out of
it any paper of any kind or sort whatever."

"I shall most assuredly leave the house," replied Lord Walton, "for I
am going in five minutes to assure myself that the fire will spread no
farther. But if you mean that I am not to absent myself, I have no
intention of so doing, and will promise to stay and entertain my
unexpected guests as befits their quality and commission: nor will I
send hence or make away with any paper, from the warrant of array
directed by Henry II. to my ancestor, down to the cellar-book of the
old butler. So now, sirs, to supper; and let us forget for the time
all that is unpleasant in our meeting. The day will come, and that
before the world is a week older, when I will deal with this matter in
the proper place and in the proper manner."

"Be that as you please, my lord," replied Thistleton; "we doubt not we
shall be justified. Myself and Dr. Bastwick will in the mean time
gladly accept your hospitality. Captain Batten, however, may be wanted
with his troop."

"Nay," cried the young lord, "it were a pity to deprive yourselves of
one of your most able and active members. If Captain Batten have any
orders to give, he can send them in writing. There lie paper and pens,
and I remarked that he had a trooper without. My wine is good,
gentlemen, and venison is yet in season."

"It will do as well to write," said Batten, who, always ready to take
his part in all that was unpleasant, was not without inclination to
share in things more agreeable; and proceeding to the writing-table in
the window, he had soon concocted a hasty note, which he carried out
himself; while the rest, with the owner of the mansion, proceeded to
the eating-hall.

When the meal was over--and the commissioners did not spare it--Lord
Walton ordered them to be conducted to the rooms prepared for them,
and took leave, saying, "Tomorrow, gentlemen, at five, if you please,
we will proceed to further business. In the mean while, good night."

The beds were soft and downy, the guests of Lord Walton tired with the
fatigues of the preceding day, and it was somewhat later than the hour
appointed when the members of the committee rose; and then, on looking
forth from his window, Captain Batten was surprised and disappointed
not to see his troop of horse drawn up in the park, as he had ordered
them to muster there by half-past four. His two companions were down
before him, and he found them, with the noble owner of the mansion, in
the hall. Lord Walton immediately signified in a grave tone that it
would be better to proceed on their search; but the task was sooner
begun than ended, for Bishop's Merton House, even in its dismembered
state, was not easily examined from one end to the other. Room after
room was ransacked, every article of furniture which could be supposed
to conceal papers was subjected to the perquisitions of the three
commissioners; and it must be recollected that, in those days, people
had not multiplied the luxuries and conveniences of life to such a
degree as scarcely to be able to turn amidst the crowd of
superfluities. Still nothing was discovered; for Lord Walton, though
young, was a man of regular habits, and his papers were not all
scattered over his dwelling, but gathered regularly into one
repository.

At length Colonel Thistleton, after having twice passed through the
corridor and gallery, pointed to a door in the former, saying, "We
have omitted that room several times, my lord. It may be necessary
that we examine there, merely for the sake of making our task
complete. You will understand me clearly, my most honourable friend,
that I am perfectly satisfied, and indeed was so from the first; but
we must be enabled to say that we have not left any part of the
mansion unseen."

The young nobleman heard him to the end, and then replied gravely--

"Those are my sister's apartments, sir."

"Nevertheless, my lord," answered Dr. Bastwick.

But Lord Walton cut him short, with a frowning brow and a flushed
cheek.

"There is no 'nevertheless,' sir," he said. "Those are my sister's
apartments--that is enough. Let me see the man that dares wag a foot
towards them."

"Nay, my good lord," cried Thistleton, in a mild and deprecating tone,
"we mean no offence. If the lady sleep, we can wait her awaking. We
need not go in now."

"Neither now nor ever, sir," answered the young nobleman, sternly.
"There are no papers of mine there; of that I pledge my honour. If
that satisfies you, well."

"But it does not, sir," cried Batten.

"Then that is well also," answered Lord Walton, turning away with a
look of scorn.

Thistleton spoke a word to his two companions, and then followed the
young nobleman, exclaiming--

"My lord, my lord!"

"You speak loud, sir," rejoined Charles Walton, walking on. "I will
hear you in the hall. Remember there are people who can sleep despite
of parliamentary committees."

"This is too insolent," whispered Batten. "If you arrest him not,
Master Thistleton, I will."

"Leave him to me," answered the colonel, gravely. "A committee of the
house must not be bearded by the best man in the realm. Leave him to
me;" and thus saying, he followed the young lord down the stairs.

When they were in the hall, in which were several servants, Lord
Walton paused in the midst.

"Now, gentlemen," he said, "what are your further commands?"

"I have but to ask, my lord," demanded Thistleton, "whether you are
disposed to resist the lawful authority of parliament?"

"The unlawful exercise of authority it does not possess, you mean,"
replied the peer. "But, not to cavil at words, sir--if I say I am,
what then?"

"Why, then I should be obliged to do that which would be most
unpleasant to me," replied Colonel Thistleton.

"I rather think, however, that such must be the result, sir," rejoined
Charles Walton, with a cold and indifferent air.

"I mean, sir, that I shall be compelled to put you under some
restraint," said Thistleton, with an angry brow, "which must certainly
be done if----"

"If I permit you," added Lord Walton, seeing that he paused. "Colonel
Thistleton, you are mistaken," he continued, advancing towards him. "I
arrest you, sir, for high treason, in the king's name! Give up your
sword!" and he laid his hand firmly on his shoulder.

Dr. Bastwick shrank back, and looked towards the door; and while the
colour died away in Batten's cheek, Thistleton shook off the young
lord's grasp, exclaiming--

"Call up the horse from the window, Batten!" and as he spoke he drew
his blade.

"They are not there," answered Batten, with shaking knees.

"No, sir, they are not there," rejoined the master of the mansion;
"those that are left of them are now galloping hard to escape Major
Randal's keen riders. You may have heard of his name, sir; and it
would be well to put up your weapon and submit to what cannot be
avoided. Call in a party, Langan!"

"Well, my lord," cried Thistleton, thrusting back his sword into the
scabbard, "this is a most shameless breach of----"

"Of what, sir?" demanded Lord Walton. "You came hither upon an
unsavoury errand. You have attempted to cozen me from the beginning.
Without lawful power or authority you have infringed upon the rights
of an Englishman; and I told you that I would stay here to deal with
my unexpected guests as befitted their quality and commission. But
mark me, Colonel Thistleton: had you been moderate and wise--had you
carried on your search with decency--you should have gone from this
house without hindrance or molestation. I would have remembered that I
had given the parliament no greater intimation of my intentions than
they have given me, and treated you with civility and respect; but you
have exceeded all propriety: you have pried where no likelihood
existed of finding what you sought; you have even expressed the
purpose of intruding on the privicy of my sister's chamber. The
measure is full, gentlemen, and it is now too late. You are all three
prisoners under arrest; and it will be for his majesty to determine
the full extent of your deserts. You see it is in vain to resist," he
added, pointing to the door, where stood a party of soldiers fully
armed. "Take them back to their chambers, Langan; suffer no
communication between them; place a sentry at each door, and then
return to me."

The members of the committee looked dolefully in each other's faces;
but they well saw that what the young nobleman said was but too true,
regarding the uselessness of remonstrance or opposition, and with bent
heads and dejected countenances they were led away.



                             CHAPTER VI.


"Now, Roger Hartup," said the young lord, as soon as the deputies were
gone, "tell me more of this news. You were with the party, it seems."

"Why, yes, my lord," replied a tall, long-boned Wiltshire man, dressed
in the full colours of the house of Walton, with broadsword by his
side and pistols in his belt; "Langan took me with him without saying
a word of where he was going. He told me afterwards that he was
obliged to come back for fear your lordship should need him, and that
I was to stay with the major and his troop, because I knew all the
lanes and byways, and, moreover, loved playing with hand and arm."

"It was well bethought," said his master; "they might need a guide."

"I don't know, my lord," replied the servant; "but the captain of the
troop seemed to know all the hedgerows as if he had been born among
them. But as soon as Major Randal had heard Langan's message, he gave
the order to muster and be ready in an hour. That was about half-past
one, my lord, for we had scattered the pebbles about as we went, I
warrant, and before half-past two the troop were in their saddles, and
moving down at a brisk trot by Lumley Lane, and then at a canter over
the common. That brought us to Hill Down, where all the folks were
asleep, and then we had three miles of high-road to Rushford. As we
were crossing the brook, or rather letting the horses drink, for the
major had a care to the beasts' mouths, it being a hot night, we heard
a trumpet sound Bishop's Merton way; so then he gave the order to
trot, and taking the cart-road we came upon the edge of the meadows,
where we could see the road up to the house and yet have shelter of
the alders; and there we sat quite still till we saw the Roundhead
rascals coming up at a walk, with a sort of animal at their head more
like a chandler than a soldier, and beside him, Dry, of Longsoaken, on
his grey mare When they got out clear upon the meadow, old Dry pointed
along towards the bottom and said something--we could not hear what he
said, but it was like as if he told them, 'If you keep down that way,
you'll get up to the house without being seen from the windows.' The
major spoke never a word. Indeed, he spoke very little all the time,
but let them go on till----"

"Was Dry still with them?" asked his master, interrupting his
discourse.

"Lord bless your lordship! no," answered the servant; "he left them as
soon as he had pointed out the way, and trotted back. But when they
were half-across the meadows, about half a gun-shot from the alders, a
trumpeter's horse of ours smelt them out, and like an undrilled beast,
thinking his master was somewhat long in sounding the charge, he began
and neighed as loud as he could. Thereupon they halted, and began to
look about, as if a horse neighing was somewhat wonderful; then the
major gave the word, and we were out from the alders in a minute, and
down upon them. Your lordship has seen a plump of teal rise up from a
pond and whirl away all in a sweep. Well, four-fifths of them were
round in a minute, and longest legs won the day. About twenty old
fellows, with copper noses and steel caps, stood their ground,
however, and fired their pistols at us, keeping all together, and
showing broadsword. But we took to steel too, and they could not bide
it, but broke; and though they fought better than I ever thought to
see such crop-eared hounds fight, they were forced to follow their
fellows, though not before some seven had tasted green turf, and had
as much of it as will serve them till the world's end. Then we wheeled
and followed the rest, cutting them off from the town; and, though
they rode hard, yet more than nine or ten had cause to wish their
spurs were better, till at length, after having chased them back to
Rushford, the major sent our captain, Barecolt, with thirty men, to
keep them going while he halted, and gave me ten to bring here, saying
your lordship might need them."

"Then, did Dry, of Longsoaken, fly with them?" demanded his lord; "or
did he run back to the town?"

"I doubt that he knew of the affair at all, my lord," replied the man;
"he was far down the lane before we charged. No trumpet was blown for
fear of bringing the militia men from Bishop's Merton upon us, and the
banks would prevent him from seeing or hearing either."

"Then we will strike a blow at him," said Lord Walton.

The servant rubbed his hands and laughed. "That will rejoice the
cockles of many a poor man's heart in Bishop's Merton," he cried. "The
old sanctified sinner is hated as much as he is feared. Why he was the
cause of poor old Sergeant Neil being dragged away, and killed with
bad usage; and I do believe the boys would stone him on the green if
they knew it, for he--the old man--used to gather the lads about him
on the green and tell them stories of the old wars, when Tyrone was
a rebel in Ireland and he fought under Blount, Earl of Devon, till
their little eyes almost came out of their heads."

"Dry was the cause, did you say?" asked the young nobleman. "I thought
the only cause was found in the words he spoke--that the king, if he
were well counselled, would call William of Orange to his aid, would
raise his standard at once, march to London, proclaim martial law, and
hang the two ringleaders of the parliament before the door of the
house."

"Ay, my lord, that was the pretence," replied the servant, "though he
never said all that; and they pretended, too, he knew more of what was
going on in the north, if he chose to speak. But the real reason was,
that the old man, one day last year, when he was stronger than he was
afterwards, heard the sneaking villain saying things to poor little
Arrah that were not comely, and broke his head with his staff. Dry
stomached the affront till the time came for his revenge, and then
brought the men over from Devizes to take old Neil away; so I am right
glad your lordship is going to punish him on that account."

"'Tis not on that account, Roger Hartup," replied his master, gravely,
"for of that I know nothing; but first, the man is a rank traitor, as
there is proof enough; and secondly, I am convinced that this fire
last night was not kindled without help. There were men seen about the
place just after dark. Dry was up here upon a false pretence in the
morning; and no one was near the west tower with a light. Bring me the
paper and ink, and call the lance prisade of the troop who came with
the men."

He wrote a few hasty lines while the servant was gone; and on his
return with a stout, broad-set soldier, the young nobleman said: "Now,
sir, do you think that Major Randal will object to your executing a
warrant, under my hand, for the arrest of a rank traitor in the
neighbourhood?"

"I was ordered to receive your commands, my lord, and obey them,"
replied the soldier. "But the major told me to beg your lordship to
let him know early what you intended to do, for that he did not hold
it safe to remain here much after noon, for fear of being cut off."

"I will send to him directly," replied Lord Walton; "but you, in the
mean time, take this warrant, and go round by the back of the town to
a place called Longsoaken, where you will apprehend one Ezekiel Dry.
Bring him hither without giving him time to speak with any one in
private."

"But if he resists?" asked the man.

"Use force," answered Lord Walton, and then added, "but there will be
no resistance. Take all your men with you but those who are guarding
the committee-men, and five of my people besides. You, Roger, go with
him, with Hugh, and three others. Leave Langan, for I shall want him;
and now," he continued, as soon as they had retired, "to examine into
the business of this fire."

Thus saying, he rose, took his hat, which lay beside him, and passing
through the neighbouring hall, went out upon the terrace. Then
circling round the ruins of the tower which had fallen he made his way
to the end, where, black and still reeking, stood the part of the
building in which the fire had commenced.

No one was near, and Lord Walton stood and gazed at the ruin for
several minutes with sad and solemn feelings. It looked to him like
the corpse of one untimely slain; all was grey and desolate where
lately had been life and cheerfulness. The room in which he used to
sit was gone, and all that marked the spot where he had passed many an
hour of calm and pleasant contemplation were the charred ends of the
rafters, and one stout beam, which, not quite destroyed, hung black
and crumbling from side to side, bending down half broken in the
midst. Part of the wall had fallen in, and part still stood, rugged
and ruined, while in the chamber below some tattered fragments of rich
damask furniture and old tapestry hung fluttering in the wind. The
smoke still rose up from the pile of rubbish beneath; but on one of
the chimneys a bird had already ventured to perch, as if claiming it
thenceforth for the inheritance of the wild things of the earth.

After a few minutes' sad contemplation the young lord turned and
looked around over the fair scene he was about to leave perhaps for
ever, as it lay calm and smiling in the sunshine of the early morning,
notwithstanding all the destruction of the preceding night, and the
gloomy prospects of the future, with the same peaceful indifference
wherewith some have supposed the disembodied spirit to look upon the
wild passions and contentions of the world.

As he gazed, however, he saw the figure of a girl seated upon the
trunk of a felled beech-tree, which lay close beneath the terrace, and
instantly perceiving that it was that of Arrah Neil, he beckoned to
her to come up to him. The girl did so without hesitation: and as she
climbed the stone steps which led from the park he watched her
countenance, to see if the moody and abstracted fit to which she was
frequently subject was still upon her, or had passed away.

There was no trace of it left. Her beautiful eyes were clear and
bright, and full of intelligence, though her brow was grave and even
sad, and her look was raised towards him with a gentle, imploring,
deprecating expression, as it she had in some way offended and sought
forgiveness.

"Well, my poor Arrah," said the young nobleman, in a kind tone, "I
fear you were much frightened last night."

"I was frightened, my lord," she answered, bending down her eyes, "but
not much; I knew it was for the best, and hoped that it would soon be
extinguished."

"All things are for the best," replied Lord Walton. "God forbid that I
should doubt it, Arrah. Yet this has been a severe loss and a great
grief to me; for I cannot see the house of my fathers so injured
without regret. It is not that many invaluable and rare things have
been destroyed, but that mementos of the past are gone with
them--things the sight of which recalled the days of boyhood--places
stored with a thousand memories, ay, and a thousand associations with
times before my own. I can no longer sit in that room, Arrah, and
think of those who tenanted it in former years, or of all the many
scenes that have there taken place."

"I am very sorry for it indeed," replied Arrah Neil; "but yet----" and
she paused, leaving her sentence unconcluded.

"Tell me, Arrah," continued Lord Walton, not heeding her broken reply,
"when you had retired to rest last night, which they tell me was about
nine, did you hear any noise in the tower, or any one going up the
stairs which pass close behind the room where you slept?"

She gazed at him for a moment in silence, with her large bright eyes
fixed somewhat sadly upon his countenance, then shook her head and
answered, "No one."

The young lord remarked the peculiarity of her look, and added, "I am
sure you would answer truly, Arrah, for your poor grandfather, who
gave you an education so much above that which persons far higher in
rank bestow upon their children, taught you I know always to adhere to
truth. Yet hear me, Arrah; I have always tried to be kind to you and
yours; I have been fond of you from your childhood. Now I suspect that
this fire was not the work of accident, I cannot find that the door at
the foot of the tower was closed last night. That enemies were abroad
I have too good reason to know; and you, too, warned me yourself that
danger was at hand----"

"Oh, but it was not that!--it was not that!" cried Arrah Neil; "the
danger I feared for you was not of fire, Charles Walton. Ask me not to
tell you, for they made me swear I would not before they would let me
go."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the young nobleman, gazing at her thoughtfully.
"Well, I will not ask you then."

"Do not! do not!" she cried, "for I could not refuse you anything; and
that would be wrong after I have sworn: I would lay down my life for
you, indeed I would; but you would not wish me to break my word."

"No, no!" replied Lord Walton; "but to return. I suspect, as I have
said, that this destruction has not been committed by accident."

"Not entirely," said Arrah Neil, looking down.

"Not entirely!" exclaimed the peer. "Then you know how it
happened--you know who did it--Arrah, speak, who was it? That, at
least, I may ask."

The poor girl trembled terribly, but then, in a low sad voice she
answered, "It was I."

"You?--you?" cried Lord Walton, gazing at her sternly, while his lip
quivered in the attempt to suppress the emotions within him. The girl
answered nothing, and after a struggle with himself he waved his hand,
saying, "I forgive you, my poor girl, you did it when you were not
yourself. Tell no one else, Arrah--the secret is safe with me;" and he
turned away, lest one harsh word should mingle with the kinder ones he
had spoken.

When he had gone some ten or twelve paces, however, Arrah Neil darted
after him, caught his hand, and pressed her beautiful lips upon it.

"Do not abandon me, Charles Walton," she said. "Do not cast me off and
hate me. Tell me, would you rather see all those ruins, and lose all
you have lost, or be tomorrow a prisoner in the dark Tower of London,
perhaps never to ride the green fields again while you live?"

Lord Walton paused with a look of bewildered inquiry; but then
suddenly a light rose up in his eyes, and laying his hand upon Arrah
Neil's shoulder, he said, "Thank you, Arrah! thank you. 'Tis a wild
way of deliverance. Yet thank you, dear child. You meant it well, and
it has succeeded. But here are people coming. Go back to Annie; we
must not leave you behind us."



                             CHAPTER VII.


The seasons of the year seemed to take their tone from the spirit of
the times and the discord that was raging throughout the land. The
summer was gloomy and full of storms. Instead of bright sunshine and
smiling skies, heavy clouds had been gathering over the heavens from
the beginning of the year; and although every now and then a warm and
splendid day, such as that which we have described in the beginning of
this tale, broke in upon the heavy aspect of the summer, as if to
remind man of fairer and happier times, yet week after week passed in
tempests, rain, and gloom; and signs and portents, such as might have
alarmed nations in more superstitious days, were seen in the sky, and
filled the hearts of the more timid with apprehension.

It was upon the morning of one of these sad and frowning days that a
troop of horse, consisting of about a hundred and fifty men, well
armed and mounted, took its way across a wide and somewhat barren
plain about forty miles to the north-east of Bishop's Merton,
encumbered with a good deal of baggage, and escorting two or three of
the heavy carriages of the times, in which were some six or seven
women. The prospect was wide and dreary, extending in a number of grey
lines which afforded the eye no pleasing object to rest upon, except
here and there a little mound or tumulus bearing on its top a clump of
black-looking trees. In the distance was a range of low wood,
apparently stunted and withered by the chilling blasts which swept
over the plain; and a piece of water of some extent was seen
glistening on the right, with the sandy road, along which the
cavalcade took its way, winding between the mere and the wood. No
hedgerows broke the wide extent, and the ground appeared to be
somewhat marshy, for numerous ditches intersected it in every
direction, and a large trench ran along on either side of the path,
with here and there a small wooden bridge to cross from the sandy
highway to the green turf of the plain.

The progress of the party was not very quick, for, as we have said,
the carriages were heavy, and their wheels, as well as those of the
two or three carts and waggons, sank deep in the loose and shifting
soil of the road. By the side of the foremost of the carriages
generally rode a cavalier, with whom the reader is already acquainted
under the name of Lord Walton, and ever and anon he laid his hand upon
the heavy door, and spoke in at the window to his sister or to Arrah
Neil, the latter seldom replying except by a monosyllable or a look.
Annie Walton, however, conversed with him gaily and lightly; not that
her heart was by any means at ease, or her bosom without its
apprehensions; but she was well aware that her brother was grieved for
all the inconvenience that she suffered, and for the danger to which
she was exposed; and, with kindly and generous feeling towards him,
she made as little as possible of every annoyance on the march,
concealed all the fears that she might experience, and seemed
unconscious of the perils of the way. She might not, it is true,
deceive her brother as to her own sensations, for he knew her well,
and understood her kindness and devotion; but still it made the burden
lighter to him to hear no murmur, and to witness no terror.

From time to time, during the march of the two preceding days, some of
the rumours which, true and false alike, always run through a country
in a state of agitation, had reached Lord Walton's party, speaking of
troops marching hither and thither in the neighbourhood. Now it was a
detachment from Lord Essex's army; now it was a body of men crossing
the country, to reinforce Waller; now it was a body of militia called
out by parliamentary commissioners from the district or the county
through which they were passing. But Lord Walton paid little attention
to these reports, having taken every necessary precaution, by throwing
out several small parties in front, at the distance of about two or
three miles, to guard against surprise, and secure his onward course
towards Coventry.

When any rumour reached him, indeed, which bore more strongly the
semblance of truth than the rest, and was corroborated by his own
knowledge of the position and designs of the various persons to whom
it referred, he would ride forward to the head of the line, and
converse for a few minutes with a thin, bony, grave-looking personage
in black, who bore few signs of being a military man, except his large
boots of untanned leather, his heavy steel-mounted sword, and the
pistols at his saddle-bow. Thus, when they had got about half way
across the plain, and a horseman galloped up from the right, leaping
one or two narrow ditches by which it was intersected, and then, not
able to cross the wider trench which separated the road from the turf,
riding along by the side of the troop, and making signs to Charles
Walton that he had something to communicate, the young nobleman
accordingly reined in his horse, and suffering his party to pass on,
lingered behind till they were out of ear-shot.

"Well, Master Hurst," he then asked, "what is your news? I was sorry
you would not join us; but I am glad to see you here."

"I told Langan I would follow you, my lord," replied the new-comer;
"but I had to put my house in order, and sell some hay, for it does not
do to go soldiering in these times without money in one's pocket, and
I had but short notice. However, my lord, you had better be on your
guard; for, as I came over the moor, I found a boy keeping sheep out
there between the wood and the water, and, wishing to know whereabouts
you were, for I could not see you at that time----"

"You did not mention my name, I hope," said Lord Walton.

"Oh, no, my lord," answered the horseman; "I took care not to do that:
I only asked if he had seen a body of soldiers, without saying horse
or foot. So the boy said, 'Oh, yes; that there were five hundred and
fifty lying behind the wood,' for he had counted them, seemingly--like
a flock of sheep. Then I asked him how many horse there were; to which
he replied by saying, 'Two,' and that all the rest had guns and
bandoliers and steel caps, except a few, who had long pikes in their
hands."

"This seems serious," replied Lord Walton; "we must look to this
intelligence."

"There is more serious work behind, my lord," replied Hurst; "for this
news gave me the key to what I saw myself in the morning. These
musketeers are not alone. They have got cavalry for their support, my
lord, or I am much mistaken: not two hours ago I saw the tail of a
troop going into the little village, the spire of which you can just
see rising up there. I should have taken them for your men but that
they were coming the contrary road; so I avoided the village for fear
of worse."

"Well, Hurst, ride on to the next bridge," said Lord Walton, "and then
join me on the road with Major Randal, whom I must consult on our
proceedings."

Thus saying, he spurred on his horse, and galloped forward to the head
of the line, where, pulling up by the side of our spare friend in
black, he communicated to him all that he had just heard.

"Ah!" said Randal, in his usual dry and deliberate tone, "ah! Five
hundred and fifty musketeers--rather better, than three to one. That
would not matter if the ground were fair; but these ditches, these
ditches! they are awkward things in the way of cavalry; if our horses
could leap them as easily as their shot, the matter would soon be
settled. Does any one know what the ground is like there? They will
gall us sadly if we have to expose our flank to the wood."

"I fear so, indeed," replied Lord Walton; "but perhaps, if I were to
pass the next bridge, take a circuit round and dislodge them, while
you pursue your way along the road, we might contrive to get into
better fighting ground."

"Let us see what it is like first," said Randal: "here comes your
newsmonger, my lord; we shall learn more from him. Now, master yeoman,
how does the land lie about the wood? is there good room for a charge,
or is it cut up like this?"

"Between the wood and the road," answered Hurst, "it is just like a
gridiron, with ditches enough to drain the sea."

"And behind the wood, do you know anything of that?" continued Randal.

"It is good enough there," said the horseman, divining the object of
his question, "but you cannot get at it for the river.

"They have some good soldiers amongst them," said Randal. "Such ground
was not chosen by one of the old bottle-nosed serving-men of London."

"They must have good intelligence, too," said Lord Walton, "to fix so
exactly on a point where they can best attack us. If it were not for
my sister and the women, we might take their fire in passing, and get
into the good ground beyond; but the carriages and baggage would prove
a sad encumbrance."

"Ah, women, women!" cried Randal, "they are the causes of all the
mischief in the world. However, we must dispose of them, and must take
our resolution quickly; there is no going back now, my lord, and we
must make our way forward at whatever risk. Luckily, you have brought
all the spare horses and the women's saddles; they must quit the
carriages and mount. As for the baggage, it must take its chance and
belong to the winners."

"But I cannot expose my sister," exclaimed Lord Walton, "to such an
affair as this--she can go back to the village."

"No, no," said Randal, quickly; "there is no need of that; this good
yeoman can guide her round with the rest of the women, while we make
our way forward, and do the best that we can with these gentry in
front. They will not chase her if we keep on our way; but if we quit
the road, they will of course draw to their left and cut us off
between the causeway and the water. Now, my lord, be quick; get them
out and away: I will send a dozen of my men to escort them, with
Barecolt at their head. 'Tis the best task for him; for, though he
does not want courage, with women he will have room to talk, and that
is his chief occupation. He may lie, too, there, as much as he likes,
and nobody will find him out. Now, master yeoman, you be guide--lead
these ladies over the moor, round by the back of that great pond, and
into the open ground above it. When you get to that mound with the
trees on it, you may halt a bit, and watch what we are about on the
road. If you see that we get the worst, put to the spur, and gallop on
till you rejoin the Coventry road, then on as fast as may be to the
king, who will be in Coventry by noon to-morrow. If you see we make
good our ground, come back and join us."

"But there are horse in that village, sir," answered Hurst.

"That can't be helped," replied Randal; "we have no other chance.
Besides, they may be our people as well as the enemy's.--Stay; it may
be as well to see: I will send on Barecolt, while you halt on the
hill. He can play either part--swear and swagger like the most
licentious Cavalier, or cant and pule like the most starched Puritan."

While this conversation had been taking place, the party had not
ceased to advance slowly along the road; but the order to halt was now
given, and preparations were made for carrying into execution the plan
decided upon. The carriages were stopped, Miss Walton and her
attendants were placed hastily upon the spare horses which had been
brought from Bishop's Merton, and the small body under Captain
Barecolt were drawn out, and commanded to fall into the rear. Annie
Walton did all that she was told to do without a word; but she looked
in her brother's face, as he placed her on horseback, and, bending
down her beautiful head, kissed his cheek, while a silent,
irrepressible tear rose in her eye.

"Do not fear, Annie--do not, fear," said Charles Walton; "we will soon
put these fellows to the rout."

But it is vain, in moments of danger and difficulty, to commend
courage to those who, by fate or situation, are doomed to inactivity;
for they must still feel for those that they love, if not for
themselves; and though Miss Walton considered not for one moment the
personal peril which she encountered, her heart beat with
apprehensions for her brother, which no words could quiet or remove.
Lord Walton then turned to Arrah Neil, who was already mounted, and
leaning his hand on the horse's neck, he asked--"Can you manage the
horse, my poor Arrah? had you not better ride behind a trooper?"

"Oh, no," she said; "no, I can ride quite well--I remember now;" and,
indeed, the manner in which she held her rein, the ease and grace with
which she sat the horse, and the command which she had over it, though
a powerful and spirited animal, clearly showed that at some time she
must have been well accustomed to such exercise.

Lord Walton looked down with a thoughtful expression of countenance,
as if there were something that puzzled him. But just at that moment
Major Randal rode up, exclaiming.--"We must lose no more time, my
lord; if we halt any longer here, they may see what we are about, and
act accordingly. I shall order the troop to advance, for women are
always slow, and they must come after us as they can, till they reach
the little bridge up yonder. Let the carts and carriages come first,
and the women can bring up the rear. Now, mark ye, Barecolt, follow
this good yeoman, with the ladies under your charge, till you reach
that little mound with the trees on the right. You can deliver your
stomach by the way of any of the wild imaginations that may fret you;
but when you get to the mound you must give up talking, and, riding on
to the village alone, make use of your wits, if you have any left, to
ascertain whether there be a troop of horse in it, and of what side."

"Alone?" said Barecolt.

"To be sure," answered Randal, with a laugh; "the man who preached in
the morning at Rochelle, and defeated the Papists in the evening, who
defended the pass in the Cevennes single-handed against a whole army,
may well go on alone to reconnoitre a handful of cavalry. Besides, it
will make you careful, Master Barecolt, when you know that your own
life depends on your own tongue."

"It has often done that," answered Barecolt. "I remember, when I was
in Spain, being attacked by some twenty banditti, and putting my back
against a rock----"

"March!" cried Randal, interrupting him; "tell that to the girls. It
will do to pass the time as well as any other lie;" and riding on, he
led the way, while Lord Walton continued by his sister's side, till,
reaching the little bridge, the good farmer, Hurst, turned off from
the road into the meadows, followed by the young lady, her servants,
and the escort.

With anxious eyes Annie Walton and Arrah Neil watched the advance of
the larger party of horse towards the wood before them, although
neither of them had heard the exact cause of alarm, or was aware of
where the danger was to be apprehended, or what was its nature. All
they knew was, that peril lay upon the onward road; and,
notwithstanding all the assiduities of Captain Barecolt, who, riding
by their side wherever the space admitted it, endeavoured to entertain
them with some of the monstrous fictions in which his imagination was
accustomed to indulge, they listened not to his tales, they scarcely
even heard his words, but, their eyes turned constantly to the road
they had just quitted, pursued a path, forming with it an acute angle,
which led round the back of a large piece of water that lay gleaming
before them.

Once or twice they had to dismount, and lead their horses over the
little wooden bridges which crossed the ditches intersecting the
plain; and more than once, where these were so insecure as to give way
under the horses' feet, they were forced to quit their direct line,
and take a circuit. Nevertheless, as they cantered quickly over the
turf between, they had reached the little tree-covered knoll which had
been pointed out as their halting-place, before the troop which was
pursuing the high-road had arrived at the spot where the low wood we
have mentioned skirted the way.

That wood did not, indeed, approach close to the road, but lay at the
distance of from a hundred to a hundred and fifty yards on the left,
extending parallel with it for nearly a quarter of a mile, and having
a green meadow, and the continuation of the broad trench we have
mentioned between. A river of some width, flowing from the right,
crossed the highway under a bridge of two arches, at a short distance
from the wood; and at the moment that Miss Walton and her companions
reached the mound, the head of her brother's troop was about three
hundred yards from this bridge.

Knowing well that Major Randal was not a man to be trifled with,
Captain Barecolt, as soon as they had arrived at the appointed place,
took a flowery and ceremonious leave of Miss Walton, and rode on
towards the village of which they had now a better view than before.
The young lady's eyes, however, were still fixed upon her brother's
troop, as she remained half-way up the little mound, with her horse
turned towards the road and her maids behind, Arrah Neil upon her left
hand, and the small party of troopers a little in advance.

They had continued this for some four or five minutes in breathless
expectation of what was to come next, when they perceived the troop
brought to a sudden halt, and an apparent consultation take place at
the head of the little column. At that moment Annie Walton heard one
of the troopers just before her say aloud--"They have barricaded the
bridge, that's clear enough."

"Good God!" she exclaimed; "what will they do?"

But the man, although he heard her words, only turned his head over
his shoulder to give her a look, without making any reply.

"There is a little path, lady," said one of the maids, who, placed
higher up the hill, saw more distinctly the ground beneath--"there is
a little path down from the side of the bridge into the meadows below:
if they were to take that they could get out of the way of the wood,
and I should think could cross the river, for it spreads out there so
wide it must be shallow."

"They do not see it," said Annie Walton; "they do not see it for the
bank."

Almost as she spoke a considerable body of foot drew out from the
wood, and a party of about a hundred men running forward, drew up in
line close to the bridge, and opened a fire of musketry upon the small
troop of cavalry which occupied the road. Several horses at the head
of the line were seen to plunge violently, and one fell with its
rider. The next instant the whole were in motion, a charge was made
upon the bridge, and for a few moments all was confusion and disarray,
in which they could only see that the Cavaliers had recourse to their
pistols, and were endeavouring apparently to force the barricade.

"Oh! the path, the path!" cried Annie Walton. "If any man will ride
and tell them of the path, and that they can ford the river below, I
will give him a hundred crowns."

One of the troopers was instantly dashing forward, but the man who had
been left in command called him back, saying that they had been
ordered to remain there, and must obey. By this time the charge had
been repulsed, and the Cavaliers were retreating under a heavy fire in
some disarray. They formed again with great rapidity, however, behind
the waggons and carriages.

Miss Walton remonstrated against the recal of her messenger; but
without waiting to hear the reply, Arrah Neil exclaimed--"I will go,
dear lady; I will go! and shaking her rein, she put the horse to its
speed, and darted forward before any one could stop her.

"I will go, too!" cried Annie Walton. "Why should she risk her life,
and a sister fear?" and thus saying, she struck her horse with a whip
and followed. In a moment, without uttering a word, the stout yeoman,
Hurst, was by the lady's side; but Arrah Neil outsped them both, and
and rode direct for the path she had observed. Without fear, without
pause, the devoted girl rode on, although as soon as ever she was
perceived from the bridge the shots began to drop around her, for her
object was instantly divined, and no consideration for her sex
restrained the soldiery.

"This way, lady, this way!" cried Hurst, turning to the left; "we can
speak to them over the dike, and we shall be farther from the fire."

They were now within a few hundred yards of Lord Walton's party, and
he was seen at the head of the troop gesticulating vehemently to his
sister to keep back.

"Ride away, my dear! ride away!" cried Hurst, "I will go on!" but at
that moment a shot struck his charger, and horse and rider went down
together. Miss Walton, however, rode forward, seeing the good yeoman
struggling up; and Arrah Neil, too, pursued her way, reached the
bridge, dashed up the path, entered the road, and, in the midst of all
the fire, galloped on till, within ten yards of the carriages, a ball
struck the animal in the haunches, and he reared violently with the
pain. She still kept her seat, however, till Lord Walton, spurring
forward, seized the bridle and caught her in his arms, just as the
horse fell, and, struggling in the agonies of death, rolled over into
the dike.

"Good God! what is it?" exclaimed Charles Walton, bearing her back
behind the waggons. "Annie, Annie, ride away!" he shouted to his
sister; "if you love me, ride away!"

"There is a path down by the bridge; the river is fordable below!"
exclaimed Arrah Neil; "there are no dykes beyond the stream. All is
clear on that side."

"Look, look, Charles!" cried Miss Walton, pointing with her hand,
"there is a body of cavalry drawing out from the village, and some one
riding at full speed towards our people on the hill."

"Friends, on my life!" cried Major Randal. "Now, fair aid-de-camp,
gallop round there to the right, and keep out of fire. Tell your
people to charge the Roundheads in the front, while those from the
village take them on the flank, and we do the best we can on the
right. What was that you said, pretty maid?" he continued, addressing
Arrah Neil; "a path down by the bridge--the stream fordable?"

"Ride-away, Annie! ride away!" cried Lord Walton; "more to the right!
more to the right!"

"We must push forward the carriages and carts," said Major Randal;
"they will give us some shelter. Where this girl came up, there can we
go down."

"I saw the path quite clear," said one of the men.

But without more words the new plan proposed was immediately followed;
the carts, drawn up two abreast, were pushed forward towards the
bridge by the main strength of the dismounted troopers, for the horses
had become unmanageable, and the traces had been cut; and under
shelter of these and of the carriages, which formed a line on the
left, the troop advanced in good order to the bridge, notwithstanding
all the efforts of the musketeers.

In the mean while, Annie Walton took her way back towards the hill,
beckoning to the yeoman, Hurst, who had by this time freed himself
from his horse; but he, with that sort of passive bravery which is so
characteristic of the English peasant, continued deliberately to
unbuckle the girths of his saddle (about which, it appeared
afterwards, all his stock was stowed away in various bags and
contrivances), and made not the slightest effort to get out of
musket-shot till he got the whole upon his back, after which he
trudged away towards the hill, only injured by one ball which grazed
his arm.

Losing no time by the way, Miss Walton soon rejoined the party of
troopers at the knoll, and was giving them the order of Major Randal,
when Barecolt himself came up at full speed, exclaiming--

"Great news! great news! There is the Earl of Beverley with two
hundred horse, ready to charge the Roundheads in the flank."

"We have Major Randal's orders to charge them in front," said the
sergeant.

"Stay, stay!" cried Barecolt; "wait a minute, wait a minute and then
the man who does not kill his five of the enemy should never sit down
with a gentleman to dinner again. Steady, my men, steady; look to your
pistols; have ready your spurs. As soon as the earl has crossed the
road I give the word."

"See, see!" cried Annie Walton, "they have got down into the
meadow--they are fording the stream--see what a fire the enemy are
keeping up upon them. Oh! charge, charge, for God's sake, and help
them!"

"Madam, I always obey a lady," said Barecolt with a low bow, at the
same time raising the blade of his sword to his lips and kissing it.
"She is the best commanding officer in the world. Now!--upon them!
charge and at them!" and with these words he led his little troop
forward with an air of gallantry and determination which went far to
justify the gasconades in which he indulged.

The ford, though somewhat deep, was smooth and easy, but still it
exposed the troop of Cavaliers to a terrible fire of musketry from the
bridge; and Annie Walton, left alone with her women on the hill, saw
with a sinking heart flash after flash run along the road, whilst the
thick white smoke was wafted by the wind over her brother's party,
rendering the figures indistinct, and concealing their movements in
some degree from her eyes. A moment after, however, she saw two or
three horsemen break out of the clouds and gallop on for several
hundred yards into the meadows, then followed a greater number, and
she could hear shouts and calls, in the midst of which she thought she
distinguished her brother's voice; and then she saw the troopers halt
and form again in line, while Barecolt, with his little party, bore
steadily on at a quick pace somewhat to the right; and a much larger
body of cavalry, which seemed to have taken a circuit from the village
behind some hedgerows that skirted the edge of the plain appeared
advancing rapidly on the left of the musketeers, and occupying the
whole space between the wood and the high-road.

There was now a momentary pause, the firing ceased, the troop of Lord
Walton and Major Randal remained still, the smoke cleared in some
degree away, and Annie asked herself, "What next?"

The moment, however, that Barecolt came on a line with the rest, the
shrill blast of a trumpet was heard from the two larger bodies of
horse; all were again in movement; and, galloping forward towards the
point occupied by the musketeers, the three parties of royalists
charged headlong down upon them, while once more the bright flash of
the fire-arms ran along the line of the road, and the cloud of smoke
again rolled over the combatants.

It was no longer to be repulsed that the Cavaliers now charged. For
full ten minutes, the eyes of the watchers on the hill could perceive
nothing but one struggling and confused mass in the midst of the dim
white cloud, with the frequent flashes of the guns, and every now and
then a party of two or three becoming more apparent, and then plunging
again into the midst of the _mêlée_. At the same time the frequent
reports of the musketry and the long-continued blasts of the trumpet,
mingled with shouts and cries, were borne by the wind to the ear,
showing that the fight was continued with desperate determination on
each side; and Annie Walton could restrain her anxiety no longer, but
moved slowly forward towards the scene of combat.

Before she had advanced many yards, a horse without a rider rushed
across the road and galloped over the meadows towards her--paused,
turned round, and with elevated head and expanded nostrils gazed
towards the place from which he came--then with a wild neigh broke
away again, and rushed across the plain. In another instant, three or
four men on foot, with muskets in their hands, were seen running at
full speed, and Miss Walton checked her horse, fearing that they might
come near her; but they made direct for one of the ditches we have
mentioned, and jumping in, seemed to couch down for concealment.

"They have won the day," cried Annie Walton, and turning to her women,
who had followed somewhat slowly, she repeated, "The Cavaliers have
won the day. God grant it may be without great loss!" and at the
thought of what might be her brother's fate in that fierce fight, her
heart sank with that dread which we all feel when the veil which
always hangs more or less over the future, is brought nearer to our
eyes, so as to render our contemplation even of the present dim and
indistinct.

A larger party of foot, consisting of perhaps twenty or thirty men,
was then seen hurrying along the road; but close upon them came a body
of cavalry, and in a moment they were dispersed and flying over the
plain. Almost at the same time, the heavy mass of horse and infantry
which had so long remained mingled together near the bridge, seemed to
explode like a shell, parties of foot and horsemen scattering here and
there in every direction; and the terrible scene of a rout and pursuit
now took place--the musketeers in general casting down their arms and
dying, while the Cavaliers followed them here and there over the
plain, and put them to the sword on the least show of resistance.

In the midst of all this disarray and confusion, a group of some
twenty or thirty horsemen were seen gathered round a small flag upon
the highest part of the road near the bridge; and after a brief pause,
during which they remained perfectly still and motionless, the loud
and peculiar trumpet-call--known in those days as the recal to the
standard--came shrill but musical upon the air; and the next instant
four or five horsemen separated themselves from the party, and rode up
at an easy canter towards the wooded knoll.

Annie Walton gazed eagerly, and recognising her brother's form, after
one moment of brief anxiety rode on to meet him with her heart at
ease. Lord Walton pushed forward his horse before the rest, and
wheeling it by her side, pressed her hand in his, murmuring, "My
dearest Annie! my sweet sister! you have been sadly terrified, I fear,
but yet you have shown yourself a soldier's child."

"Oh, Charles, Charles! you are wounded!" cried Annie, looking in his
face, which was bleeding, and at a gory scarf which was round his left
arm.

"Nothing, nothing!" replied her brother. "Men will have scratches when
they fight with wild beasts, Annie; and these Roundheads have shown
themselves as fierce and intractable as wolves or lions. They fought
gallantly, however, it must be owned, and have made us pay dearly for
our success."

"I fear so, indeed, Charles," cried Miss Walton. "I am sure it must be
so. But poor Arrah Neil--is she safe?"

"Oh yes, thank God!" replied Lord Walton. "I sent just now to the
coach in which I had placed her, to make sure she was uninjured. I
must not blame her rashness, my Annie, nor yours either, for it has
been the means of saving us; but it was a terrible risk, my dear girl,
and your escape is a miracle."

"And good Major Randal?" asked Annie, willing to change the subject.

"He is safe too," replied Lord Walton, "and without a scratch, though
never man exposed himself more. But here comes another friend whom you
will be glad to see, and to whom we owe all our success."

"Oh, Sir Francis Clare!" exclaimed Miss Walton, a glow of pleasure
rising in her cheek; "I am most happy to see you."

"Nay, not Sir Francis Clare either," cried her brother, "but my oldest
and truest friend, the Earl of Beverley."

"Nay," said Annie, with a smile, "it was not fair of you, my lord, to
give me a false name the other day. I half intend to punish you by
treating you as a stranger still. Had you told me it was Lord
Beverley, I should not have said that I never heard my brother mention
you, for I can assure you, in former days, his letters were full of no
one else. However, there is my hand--I forgive you, trusting with all
a woman's foolish confidence that you had some good reason for
cheating me."

"I will never cheat you more, dear lady," replied Lord Beverley,
taking her hand and raising it to his lips; "but in such times as
these it is sometimes needful to seem not what we are, and these
_noms-de-guerre_ when once assumed should be kept up to every one. I
had to ride near two hundred miles across a disturbed country where
the name of Francis Clare might pass unquestioned, when that of
Beverley might have soon found me a lodging in the Tower. Walton said
it was a rash act of mine to risk such an expedition at all; but I
have just heard from him that I am not the only rash person where
there is a good cause and a great object to be gained."

"Nay, will you scold me too?" rejoined Miss Walton, laughing; "if so,
I will hold no further conversation with you. Yet, my good lord, to
say truth, I take less blame to myself for what I did than for not
doing it at once. To see the poor girl, Arrah Neil, willing to risk
her life to serve my brother, shamed me, to think that she should
encounter danger alone."

"But you might have sent one of the men, dear Annie," said Lord
Walton: "it was a soldier's, not a lady's task to carry such
intelligence."

"But they would not go," replied Annie Walton; and as they rode back
towards the high-road, she explained to her brother and his friend the
circumstances under which she had acted.

For a minute or two the conversation was as gay and cheerful as a
great success just obtained, a great deliverance just achieved, could
render it. Lord Beverley explained to his fair companion, that having
learned that morning on entering the neighbouring village with a body
of two hundred horse, which he had raised for the service of the king,
that a regiment of parliamentary musketeers were lying concealed at
the back of the wood, and supposing that their ambush was directed
against himself, he had determined to remain in the place, and defend
it, should need be, against them; but that when he found the passage
of Lord Walton's troop was opposed, and his friend in danger, he had
instantly called his men to the saddle, and advanced to support him.
Lord Walton, too, related many of those actions which in such scenes
of strife are always crowded into the space of a few minutes; and much
praise did he bestow upon the gallant determination of Major Randal
and his troop, and also upon the steadiness and courage displayed by
his own tenantry and adherents. Captain Barecolt himself had his full
share of commendation.

"I had thought," said Charles Walton, "from his ridiculous bravadoes
during the last two days, that the man must be at least a coward,
although Randal is not one to suffer such an animal near him; but it
proved quite the contrary; for I saw his long body constantly in the
thick of the _mêlée_, and his heavy sword cutting right and left at
the steel caps of the musketeers, over the very muzzles of their
guns."

As they approached nearer to the scene of conflict, however, the
sights which Miss Walton witnessed--the dead, the dying, the wounded,
the road stained with deep pools of blood, and the sounds that met her
ear--the groan of anguish, the sad complaint, the cry for water and
for help--blotted out all memory of their success; and with a
shuddering frame and a sad heart she followed her brother to the spot
where Major Randal was sitting by his cornet, on the parapet of the
bridge, receiving accounts from the different troopers as they came
in, of the prisoners taken from the enemy, and the killed and wounded
on their own part, while ever and anon a mounted trumpeter by his side
blew a loud, long blast, to call the parties from the pursuit.

"Ah, Miss Walton!" cried the old officer, starting up and addressing
her in his usual bluff tone; "I am glad to see you safe and well. I
will never say that women are of no use any more; for, by my faith,
you and that little girl got us out of a pretty predicament. I was
blind enough or stupid enough, and so were all the rest, not to mark
the little path, for we passed it in charging up to the bridge; but
even if we had seen it, we should not have known that the stream was
fordable below. However, get you into the carriage again, and shut
your eyes or draw the curtains, for I see you look white and sickish,
and these sights are not fit for women. The men will soon have pulled
down that barricade, and then you can go on, while we get up the
wounded and follow. We must do ten miles more to-night."

"I should prefer to ride," replied Miss Walton; "you had better put
the wounded people in the carriages."

"True, true; well bethought," answered the old soldier. "You are a
good girl after all."

Lord Walton smiled at this somewhat ambiguous compliment to his
sister; but, as no time was to be lost, he left her under the care of
Lord Beverly, and proceeded to give orders, and make those
arrangements which the circumstances required. The barricade,
which had been constructed hastily of felled trees, stone, and turf,
was speedily removed, and the foremost of the carriages was being
brought forward to receive some of the men severely wounded, who
were lying about within the very narrow circle to which the strife
had been confined, when Lord Walton's servant, Langan, rode up,
exclaiming--"My lord! my lord! the prisoners have made their escape."

"What prisoners?" demanded Lord Walton, forgetting those he had
brought from Bishop's Merton.

"Why, that Roundhead rascal and canting hypocrite, Dry, of Longsoaken,
with Thistleton, and the rest."

"No," rejoined Roger Hartup, who was standing near, with a severe
wound in his shoulder; "I shot Thistleton through the head after the
first charge. He had picked up a sword, I don't know how, and got out
of the carriage, and was just making a plunge at Jackson the forester
when I blew his brains out with my pistol; you will find him lying
behind the waggons. Of the rest I know nothing."

"They are all gone," answered Langan.

"And Arrah Neil?" exclaimed Lord Walton, advancing towards the
carriages. But Arrah Neil was not there.



                            CHAPTER VIII.


Inquiries were made on every side, but in vain. No one had seen poor
Arrah Neil since she had been placed in the coach by Lord Walton; and,
indeed, in the haste and confusion of the strife that had ensued after
the troop had forded the river and attacked the enemy in front, no one
had had an opportunity of witnessing what had taken place amongst the
carriages, except two wounded men who had been left behind upon the
road, one of whom had died before the struggle was over, while the
other had crept for security under one of the waggons, which hid
everything that was passing from his sight.

The agitation and alarm of Miss Walton and her brother seemed somewhat
beyond measure in the eyes of good Major Randal, who was anxious to
hasten forward with all speed. He waited somewhat impatiently while
parties were sent over the plain, to seek for the poor girl who had
disappeared; but at length he broke forth in a sharp tone, exclaiming,
"We cannot remain here till night, my lord, waiting for this lost
sheep; we have got all the wounded men into the coaches and on the
waggons, and on my life we must be marching; we have prisoners enough
to embarrass us sadly if we be attacked, and who can tell that we may
not meet with another party of these worthies?"

"I think not," said the Earl of Beverly, who had shown a good deal of
interest in the event which seemed to move his friend so much. "I have
heard of no other Roundheads than these in this neighbourhood; but if
you will march on, Walton, and take one half of my troop with you, I
will remain behind with the rest, for they are fresher than your men,
and we can overtake you after we have done all that is possible to
discover this poor girl."

"No," answered Lord Walton, "I will not leave her behind, Francis, as
long as there is a chance. You had better march on, major; I will stay
with my own people, and follow you to Henley. Annie, you had better go
on; your staying, dear sister, would but embarrass me. Lord Beverley
will give you the advantage of his escort, and I will overtake you
before night."

It was accordingly arranged as he proposed; and, to say the truth,
Lord Beverly was by no means displeased with the task of protecting
his friend's sister on the way. In the course of a quarter of an hour
the whole troop was put in motion; and Annie Walton, though somewhat
unwilling to leave her brother behind, followed on horseback, with the
earl by her side, and some fourteen or fifteen horse bringing up the
rear, at a short distance behind. She had been rendered sad and
desponding by all the events that had taken place; for the first joy
of success and deliverance had by this time passed away, and the
impression that remained was of that dark and gloomy character which
her first entrance upon scenes of strife, bloodshed, and danger, might
naturally produce upon a gentle and kindly heart, however firm might
be the mind, however strong the resolution.

Her companion well understood the feelings of a girl nurtured with
tenderness and luxury, accustomed to deal only with the peaceful and
the graceful things of life, when suddenly forced to witness and take
part in the fierce and turbulent acts of civil war, to follow marching
men, and be a spectator of battle and slaughter. He knew right well
that no gay and lively subject would be pleasant to her ear at such a
moment, though the soldier himself might cast off all memory of the
strife the instant it was over, and give way to joy and triumph in the
hour of success. The cavalier shaped his conversation accordingly,
and, in a grave, though not sad tone, spoke of deeper and more solemn
things than had formed the matter of their discourse when last they
met. Nevertheless, seeking to win her from her gloom, there came from
time, across the course of all he said, flashes of bright and
brilliant eloquence, rich and imaginative illustrations, sparkling and
almost gay allusions to other things and times and scenes, which,
without producing the discord that anything like merriment would have
occasioned to her ear, stole her thoughts away from gloomier subjects
of contemplation, and, calling the blessed power of fancy to her aid,
enabled her to bear up against the first weight of the dark present.

To Annie Walton there was an extraordinary charm in the conversation
of the cavalier; it was like the current of a stream flowing on
between deep and shady banks, profound, yet rapid and various, while
ever and anon the sunshine breaks upon it through the trees, and
lights it up for a space in all the sparkling lustre of the day. At
first her replies were brief and few, but gradually she took a greater
part in the discourse, answered at large, gave him her own thoughts in
return for his, inquired as well as listened, and was often won to a
smile. Thus they rode on for about two hours, the cavalier gaining
more and more upon her and, to speak the truth, the high qualities of
her heart and mind, winning from him as much admiration as her beauty
and her grace commanded at the first sight.

Their progress, as before, was very slow, and once they had to pause
for a quarter of an hour, while the baggage of Lord Beverley's troop
was brought forth from the village where he had left it and added to
that of the other party. At length, however, they came in sight of a
small town, lying on the slope of a hill, with higher up towards the
right a detached house and some tall trees about it, standing in the
midst of a park or very large meadow, surrounded by ancient brick
walls.

At this point of their march Major Randal rode back and spoke a few
words to the earl, who replied, "Exactly as you like, major; I am
under your command."

"Nay, my lord," replied the old officer, "I am under yours, you hold a
higher commission."

"But with less experience, my good friend," answered the cavalier; "at
all events, Major Randal, I will act by your advice; if you think we
can reach Henley, well, if not we will halt here."

"We might, if it were not for this lumbering baggage," answered the
old soldier. "I cannot think what has made Lord Walton, who knows well
what service is, cumber us with such stuff as this. A trooper should
never have any baggage but his arms, a dozen crowns, and a clean
shirt."

"You must not grumble, my good friend," replied the earl, dropping his
voice. "If I understand Charles Walton rightly, there is that in those
waggons which will be more serviceable to the king than all our
broadswords."

"Ah, Ah! I understand," said Major Randal. "If that be so, we must
take care of it, otherwise I think I should be inclined to pitch the
whole into the first river. Well, then, my lord, we will stop here,
and, as that is your house, I believe, you may sleep in your own
sheets for one night. We will quarter the men in the village, and I
will send out to see that the road is clear for our march to-morrow."

"I shall expect you to supper, however, major," said the earl,
"although I cannot tell whether there is any meat in the house, yet I
know there is good old wine in the cellar, unless the Roundheads may
have got into it since I was there."

"If they have, you will not find a bottle." replied Randal; "for,
notwithstanding all their hypocrisy, they drink as deep as Cavaliers;
the only difference is, that they cant where the others swagger. But
as for your wine, my lord, you must drink it yourself for me. I am an
old campaigner, and my saloon is the parlour of the ale-house; I am
more at home there, than amongst gilt chairs and sideboards of plate."

"Good faith you will find little of those in my house," replied the
earl; "so come if you will; but in the meantime I will guide this fair
lady up, and take some of the men with me to guard the house; for
there is but a young girl and an old butler of seventy, who recollects
Queen Elizabeth, left to take care of it. All the rest of my people
are in the saddle."

"That's where they should be, my lord," replied Randal, "I will make
your cornet quarter the men, as the place is yours, and will see you
before I sleep to plan our arrangements for to-morrow."

Thus saying, he rode on again; and the Earl of Beverley after having
given a few orders to his officers for the disposal of the force in
the village, the guarding of the house, and the sending back of a
small detachment to meet Lord Walton, rode up with his fair companion
and her women by a narrow, wood-covered lane, to the house upon the
hill.

The building was not very large, being one of the old fortified houses
which were common in England at that time, and many of which during
the civil wars stood regular siege by the parliamentary forces. Strong
towers and buttresses, heavy walls, narrow windows, and one or two
irregular outworks, gave it a peculiar character, which is only to be
met with now in some of the old mansions which have come down from
those times to the present, falling rapidly into decay, and generally
applied to viler uses. As was then customary, and as was the case at
Bishop's Merton, a wide terrace spread before the house, upon which
the earl and his companions drew in their horses; and before she
dismounted, Miss Walton turned to gaze over the view, while the
cavalier sprang to the ground, and, casting his rein to one of the
troopers who had followed him, approached to aid her.

"The prospect is not so wide as at Bishop's Merton, fair lady," said
he; "but there is one object in it which will be as pleasant to your
eye as any you could see at home. There comes your brother."

"I see a party of horse," said Annie Walton, "by the wood under the
hill, but I cannot distinguish any of the figures."

"Oh, it is he, it is he!" cried her companion; "but I see no woman
amongst them."

"Alas!" said Annie Walton, "what can have become of that poor girl?"

"It is strange indeed," said the cavalier; "but yet, Miss Walton, she
may have been alarmed, and fled while the fight was going on. If any
injury had happened to her, had she been wounded or killed by a chance
shot, she must have been found by this time."

"Oh, no; fear had nothing to do with it," replied Miss Walton; "she
went through the midst of the fire to tell my brother of the path."

"Why, he said it was yourself," rejoined Lord Beverley.

"We both went," replied Annie Walton; "but she seemed to have no fear,
and I confess my heart beat like a very coward's."

"It is indeed strange," said the earl; "but yet, perhaps your brother
may have tidings. Let me assist you to alight;" and lifting her gently
from the horse, he led her into the wide, ancient hall, at the door of
which stood the old butler, his head shaking with age, but a glad look
upon his countenance to see his lord once more returned.

From the hall, which felt chilly and damp, as if the door of the house
had seldom been opened to the sunshine and free air, the earl
conducted his companion up a flight of stone steps, and through some
wide, unfurnished corridors, to a part of the house which presented a
more cheerful and habitable appearance, giving a glance from time to
time at the countenance of Miss Walton, as if to see what effect the
desolate aspect of the place would have upon her. Absorbed in other
contemplations, however, she took no notice, and at length the
cavalier called her attention to it himself, saying with a faint and
somewhat sad smile--

"You see, Miss Walton, what effect neglect can have. During my long
absence from England everything has fallen into decay--more indeed in
this house than in my dwelling in the north; but yet I reproach myself
for having given way to the very mingled feelings that kept me from
residing on my own land and amongst my own people. It is not indeed
the ruin and desolation that falls upon one's property which a man
ought to mind under such circumstances; but when a wealthy family
dwell in the midst of their own tenantry, they build up a better
mansion than any that is raised with hands, a nobler home than the
lordly castle or the splendid palace--I mean that which is founded in
the love and affection of friends and dependants, ornamented with
kindly feelings and mutual benefits, obligations, gratitude, and
esteem. And this is the house which falls into more horrible decay
during a long absence than any of these things of brick or stone."

"I fear indeed it is so," said Miss Walton, walking on beside him into
a large and handsome room, not only well furnished, but presenting
some most beautiful pictures of the Italian school hanging upon the
walls, while objects of _vertù_ and instruments of music lay scattered
over numerous tables, many of which were in themselves excessively
costly.

"But it seems to me, my lord," she continued, "that in some respects
your house and yourself are very much alike, though perhaps it is bold
of me to say so; but now that I know whom you really are, I feel as
much inclined to look upon you as an old friend as you did in regard
to me when first we met."

"Thanks, thanks, sweet lady," answered the earl. "Oh, regard me ever
so! But if you mean that in my house and in myself there are desolate
and ruined corners, you are mistaken. I am not one of those who have
either some real and deep grief overshadowing the heart for ever, or
one of those who nourish a sentimental sorrow for nothing at all.
There may be things in my own life that I regret; I may have lost dear
friends and relations whom I mourn; but as the common course of events
runs in this world, my life has been a very happy one, chequered
indeed only by one terrible catastrophe, and by a great injury
inflicted on my family by the king whom now I serve, which made me
resolve, like a foolish boy as I then was, never to set foot in my
native land while he remained in power. When I found that he was
fallen, dispossessed, and in need, I came back in haste to serve him,
with that loyalty which I trust will long be the distinction of a
British gentleman."

"I did not exactly mean what you think," replied Miss Walton; "I
merely wished to remark that you seem sometimes as gay and cheerful as
this room in which we now are, sometimes as sad and gloomy as the hall
through which we lately passed." She coloured a little as she spoke,
from an indefinite consciousness that the woman who remarks so closely
the demeanour of a young and handsome man, may well be suspected of
taking a deeper interest in him than she wished to believe she did in
her companion.

The cavalier replied at once, however, without remarking the blush,
"It must ever be so, Miss Walton, with those who feel and think. Is it
not so with yourself? The spirit that God gives us is made for
happiness, full of high aspirations and bright capabilities of
enjoyment; but it is placed in a world of trial and of difficulty,
prisoned in a corporeal frame that checks and limits its exertions,
chained down by cares and circumstances that burden its free energies.
Whenever the load is not felt, whenever the walls of the dungeon are
not seen, the captive gladly casts off the remembrance that such
things exist, and rejoices in their absence. But ever and anon they
present themselves to his eyes, or press upon his limbs, and he mourns
under the weight that he cannot wholly cast off. But here comes your
brother; and I will only add, that you shall see me sad no more, if
you will bargain with me that you will be cheerful."

In a few minutes Lord Walton himself entered the room; but his
countenance bespoke no good tidings of her he had been in search of.
He had been unable to gain any information whatever, though he left no
effort unmade; and he was evidently deeply mortified and grieved, so
that the next two hours passed in sadness upon all parts.

While the necessary arrangements were made for lodging the party in
the house for the night, some occupation of a less sad character than
the loss of poor Arrah Neil was given to the thoughts of Miss Walton,
by all the little inconveniences and difficulties attendant upon the
sudden arrival of a large party in a mansion unprepared for their
reception. Though accustomed through life to every sort of comfort,
Annie Walton was not one to make much of trifles; and she was amused
rather than otherwise at all the small annoyances, and at the dismay
and embarrassment of her maids. When she returned from the rooms which
had been assigned to her and her female companions, to that which was
called in the house the picture-room, she found her brother conversing
in the window with his friend, with a bright and cheerful countenance,
which surprised her. The change was explained in a moment, however, by
Charles Walton holding out a dirty strip of paper to her, and saying,
"Here is news of our poor Arrah, Annie. She is safe, although I cannot
tell where."

Annie took the scrap of paper, and read, merely observing as she did
so, "This is not Arrah's hand: she writes beautifully."

The note ran as follows:--


MY LORDE,--This is to tell you, as I heer that you have been
a-running after pretty Arrah Neil all the evening, that she is saif in
this place, and as well as may be. I can't come just at present, for
reasons; but I will be over with you by cock-crow to-morrow morning,
and either bring her, if I can, or take you to her.--I subscribe
myself; my lorde, your obedient servant to command,

                                             JOHN HURST.


"Francis here," said Lord Walton, when his sister had done reading,
"has been laughing at me for the reputation which I have acquired of
running after _pretty_ Arrah Neil during the whole evening; but I
think I may set laughs at defiance regarding her, Annie."

"I think so too," answered Miss Walton, with a smile; "but I wish we
knew where she is."

As often happens, however, when, in the midst of many cares and
anxieties, one subject of alarm and grief is removed, all the rest are
forgotten for the time, the news of poor Arrah's safety restored the
cheerfulness of all the party. We draw an augury of future happiness
from each blessing that befals us, from each relief that is afforded;
and it is not till new difficulties press upon us that apprehension
resumes its sway.

Cheerfulness then returned to the party assembled in Lord Beverley's
house; they sat down to the pleasant evening meal, which closed a day
of strife and danger, with hearts lightened and expectations raised;
the merry voices of the troopers who were supping in the hall below
gave them warning how best to treat the cares of the time; and if an
anxiety or thought of the future did break in for a moment upon them,
it was but to teach them to enjoy the present hour, inasmuch as no
forethought or grave contemplation could affect the coming events.
Lord Beverley exerted himself, without any apparent effort, to keep
the conversation in its cheerful tone; and when Miss Walton made some
inquiries as to any danger or difficulty which might lie upon the
march of the following day, he exclaimed gaily, "Away with such
thoughts, fair lady! we have taken every precaution; we have done all
that we can to guard against evil; we have true hearts and a good
cause; and in trust of God's protection let us enjoy these hours of
tranquillity. They are treasures, believe me, that are not often met
with; let us gather them whilst we can. The best of husbandry, depend
upon it, is to sift the corn from the chaff, to separate the gold from
the dross, in the portion of time that is allotted to us, and not to
mingle the sorrow of tomorrow with the enjoyment of to-day. Come, Miss
Walton," he added, "you must add to our present happiness by letting
us hear once more that sweet voice in song, such as delighted me at
Bishop's Merton."

"Nay, not to-night," said Annie Walton. "It is your turn now, my lord.
By all these instruments of music, I am sure you sing yourself. Is it
not so, Charles?"

"Beautifully!" replied Lord Walton; "and what is better than all,
Annie, he requires no pressing."

"I will, with all my heart," replied the cavalier, "but upon one
condition--that I am called no more 'my lord.' Charles Walton and
Francis Beverley have been too long brothers for the sister of either
to use so cold a term. What shall I sing? It must be of love in a
lady's presence, otherwise were I no true knight;" and taking a large
Venetian mandolin from the table behind him, he put it in tune, and
sang--


          Light of my heart! my heart's intense desire!
            Soul of my soul thou blossom and thou beam?
          Thou kindlest day with more than summer's fire,
            Thou bright'nest night like some celestial dream.

          The sight of thee gives sunshine to my way,
            Thy music breath brings rapture to my ear;
          My thoughts thy thoughts, like willing slaves, obey,
            Oh thou most beautiful! oh thou most dear!

          One look of thine is worth a monarch's throne,
            One smile from thee would raise the dying head;
          One tear of thine would melt the heart of stone;
            One kiss, one kiss, would vivify the dead.

          Near thee the hours like moments fleet away;
            Absent, they linger heavy on the view:
          In life, in death, oh, let me with thee stay!
            Oh thou most beautiful, most good, most true!


The voice was rich and mellow, with all the cultivation which the art
of Italy could at that time bestow. There was no effort, there was
nothing forced; every note seemed as much a part of the expression of
the thought as the words in which it was clothed. But there was a
fire, a warmth, an enthusiasm in the singer, which gave full depth and
power to the whole. It was impossible to see him and to hear him
without forgetting that he was singing a song composed probably long
before, and without believing that he was giving voice, in the only
way his feelings would permit, to the sensations of the moment.

Annie Walton knew not why, but her heart beat quickly as she sat and
listened; the long black eyelashes of her beautiful eyes remained sunk
towards the ground, and her fair cheek became pale as marble. She
would fain have looked up when the song was done--she would fain have
thanked the cavalier, and expressed her admiration of his music, but
she could do neither, and remained perfectly silent, while her brother
remarked the emotion which she felt, and turned his eyes with a smile
from her countenance to that of his friend.

But the earl, too, had fallen into thought, and with his hand leaning
upon the mandolin, which he had suffered to drop by his knee till it
reached the floor, seemed gazing upon the frets, as if the straight
lines of ivory contained some matter of serious contemplation. Miss
Walton coloured as she marked the silence, and looking suddenly up
said one or two commonplace words, which at once betrayed an effort.
They served, however, to renew the conversation again.

Another and another song succeeded, and, after about an hour spent in
this manner, the party separated and retired to rest, while Annie
Walton asked herself, with an agitated breast, "What is the meaning of
this?" The sensations were new to her, and for more than an hour they
banished sleep from her pillow.



                             CHAPTER IX.


We must now change the scene, and without much consideration of the
"pathos and bathos delightful to see," must remove the reader from the
higher and more refined society of Lord Walton, his sister, and the
Earl of Beverley, to the small sanded parlour of the little alehouse
in the village. We must also advance in point of time for about three
hours, and put the hour-hand of the clock midway between the figures
one and two, while the minute-hand is quietly passing over the six.
All was still in the place; the soldiery were taking their brief
repose, except a sentinel who walked up and down, pistol in hand, at
each entrance of the village; and the villagers themselves, having
recovered from the excitement caused by the arrival of the party, and
the drinking and merriment which followed it, had taken possession of
such beds as the troopers left them, and were enjoying the sweet but
hard-earned slumber of daily labour.

Two living creatures occupied the parlour of the alehouse: a large
tabby cat, which--as if afraid that the mice upon which she waged such
interminable and strategetic war might take advantage of her own
slumbers to surprise her--had mounted upon a three-legged stool, and
was enjoying her dreams in peace, curled up in a comfortable ball; and
Captain Barecolt, who, seated in a wooden arm-chair, with his long
leg-bones, still in their immemorial boots, stretched upon another,
kept watch, if such it could be called, with a large jug of ale beside
him, from which he took every now and then deep draughts, for the
purpose, as he mentally declared, of "keeping himself awake."

The effect was not exactly such as he expected, for from time to time
he fell into a doze, from which a sort of drowsy consciousness of the
proximity of the ale roused him up every quarter of an hour, to make a
new application to the tankard. At length, feeling that these naps
were becoming longer, he drew his legs off the chair, muttering--

"This won't do! I shall have that dried herring, Randal, upon me; I
must take a pipe and smoke it out."

And thereupon he moved hither and thither in the parlour, looking for
the implements necessary in the operation to which he was about to
apply himself. These were speedily found, and a few whiffs soon
enveloped him in a cloud as thick as that in which Homer's Jove was
accustomed to enshrine himself on solemn occasions; and in the midst
of this, the worthy captain continued ruminating upon the mighty deeds
he had done and was to do.

He thought over the past, and congratulated himself upon his vast
renown; for Captain Barecolt was one of those happy men who have a
facility of believing their own fictions. He was convinced that, if he
could but count them up, he had performed more feats of valour and
slaughtered more bloody enemies than Amadis de Gaul, Launcelot of the
Lake, the Admiral de Coligni, or the Duke of Alva. It was true he
thought such events soon passed from the minds of great men, being
common occurrences with them, so that he could not remember one-half
of what he had done, which he only regretted for the sake of society;
but he was quite sure that whenever opportunities served he should be
found superior to any of the great captains of the age, and that merit
and time must lead him to the highest distinction. This led him on to
futurity, and he made up his mind that the first thing he would do
should be to save the king's life when attacked on every side by
fifteen or sixteen horsemen. For this, of course, he would be knighted
on the spot, and receive the command of a regiment of horse, with
which he proposed to march at once to London, depose the lord mayor,
and, proceeding to the Parliament-house, dissolve the Parliament,
seize the speaker and twelve of the principal members, and hang Sir
Harry Vane. This, he thought, would be work enough for one day; but
the next morning he would march out with all the cavaliers he could
collect, defeat the Earl of Essex on one side, rout Waller on the
other, and then, with his prisoners, proceed to head-quarters, where,
of course, he would be appointed general-in-chief, and in that
capacity would bring the king to London.

What he would do next was a matter of serious consideration, for, the
war being at an end, Othello's occupation was gone; and as, during all
this time he had made sundry applications to his friend the tankard,
his imagination was becoming somewhat heavy on the wing, so that, in a
minute or two after he fell sound asleep, while the pipe dropped
unnoticed from his hand, and fractured its collar-bone upon the floor.

He had scarcely been asleep ten minutes when the door of the room
slowly opened, and a round head covered with short curls was thrust
in, with part of a burly pair of shoulders. The door was then pushed
partly open, and in walked a stout man in a good brown coat, who,
advancing quietly to the side of Captain Deciduous Barecolt, laid his
hand upon his arm. Now, what Captain Barecolt was dreaming of at that
moment it is impossible for the author of these pages to tell; but his
vision would appear to have been pugnacious, for the instant the
intruder's grasp touched his left arm he started up, and, stretching
out his right hand to a pistol which lay between the tankard and
himself on the table, snatched it up, levelled it at the head of his
visiter, and pulled the trigger.

Luckily for the brains, such as they were, of poor John Hurst (for he
was the person who had entered), in the last unsteady potations of the
bellicose captain, a few drops of ale had been spilt upon the pan of
the deadly weapon; and though the flint struck fire, no flash
succeeded, much to the astonishment of Barecolt, and the relief of his
companion.

"D--n the man!" cried Hurst, reeling back in terror; "what art thou
about? Dost thou go to shoot a man without asking, 'with your leave,
or by your leave?'"

"Never wake a sleeping tiger!" exclaimed Barecolt, with a graceful
wave of his hand. "You may think yourself profoundly lucky, master
yeoman, that you have got as much brains left in that round box of
yours as will serve to till your farm, for this hand never yet missed
anything within shot of a pistol or reach of a sword. I remember very
well once, in the island of Sardinia, a Corsican thought fit to
compare his nose to mine, upon which I told him that the first time we
met I would leave him no nose to boast of. He, being a wise man, kept
ever after out of reach of my hands; but one day, when he thought
himself in security upon a high bank, he called out to me, 'Ha! ha!
capitaine, I have got my nose still!' upon which, drawing out my
pistol, I aimed at his face, and, though the distance was full a
hundred yards, with the first shot I cut off his proboscis at the
root, so that it dropped down upon the road, and I picked it up and
put it in my pocket."

"It must have been somewhat thin in the stalk," said Hurst; "no good
stout English nose, I warrant you. But come, captain, you must take me
up to my lord. The sentry passed me on to you, and I want help
directly, for there is a nest of Roundheads not five miles from here,
who have got that poor little girl in their hands, and are brewing
mischief against us to-morrow. Half-a-dozen men may take them
to-night, but we may have hard work of it if we wait till daylight."

Captain Barecolt paused and meditated; a glorious opportunity of
buying distinction cheaply seemed now before him, and the only
difficulty was how to keep it all in his own hands.

"I cannot disturb the commander," he said, in a solemn tone, after a
few minutes' consideration; "that's quite impossible, my friend.
Faith, if you want help, you must be content with mine and
half-a-dozen soldiers of my troop. I am a poor creature, it is true,"
he continued, in a tone of affected modesty, "and not able to do so
much service as some men. I never killed above seventeen enemies in a
day; and the best thing I have to boast of is, having blown up a fort
containing three hundred men with my own unassisted hand. However,
what poor aid I can give you may command. We will take six picked men
with us, if that be enough; you and I will make eight; and if there be
not more than a hundred and fifty of the enemy, I think we could
manage."

"A hundred and fifty!" cried Hurst. "Why, there are but seven, and one
of them is not a fighting man."

"Who may they be?" asked Barecolt, in a solemn tone; "If there be but
seven we shall have no need of any men; I will go alone. Who may they
be?"

"Why, there's that Captain Batten, whom my lord took away prisoner, I
hear," replied Hurst; "then there's a Dr. Bostwick, a parliamentary
committee man; then there's old Dry, of Longsoaken, who dragged away
the girl while you were all fighting at the bridge; the other four
are, I hear, common councilmen of Coventry, though they are all decked
out in buff and bandolier, as if they were fire-eating soldiers just
come from the wars. They were laying a plan before they went to bed
for bringing troops from Coventry round about my lord and his men,
while two regiments of Essex's, that are marching into the north, were
to have warning, and cut off the retreat."

"Ha! ha! ha!" cried Captain Barecolt, "we will cut off theirs. Have
you got a horse, master yeoman? I think yours was killed in the
field."

"Ay, that it was," answered Hurst, "to my loss and sorrow; as good a
beast as ever was crossed, and cost me twenty pound."

"We will mount you, we will mount you," said the captain; "there are a
dozen and more good horses which forgot their riders yesterday, and
left them lying by the bridge. We may as well have half-a-dozen men
with us, however, just to tie the prisoners, for that is not work for
gentlemen; so you sit down and take a glass of ale, and I will get all
things ready."

In the course of about a quarter of an hour or twenty minutes, Captain
Barecolt had called to his aid eight men of the troop whom he could
most depend upon; and after having brought down Major Randal's cornet
to take his post during his absence, and mounted good John Hurst on
the horse of a trooper who had been killed the day before, he led the
way out of the little town, and, guided by the yeoman across the
country, advanced slowly towards another village situated in the
plain, about five or six miles from that in which they had taken up
their quarters. The country was open, without woods or hedges, but the
night was profoundly dark, and the wind sighing in long gusts over the
open fields. Nothing was to be seen except the glimmer of a piece of
water here and there, till they approached the village to which their
steps were bent, when one or two lights became visible amongst the
houses, as if, notwithstanding the lateness of the hour, all the
inhabitants had not yet retired to rest. One of these lights, too, as
if proceeding from a lantern, appeared moving about in the gardens;
and Captain Barecolt, turning to Hurst, asked him, in a low voice--

"What is the meaning of those lights?"

"I don't know," answered the yeoman. "It was all dark when I crept
away."

"We shall soon see," rejoined Barecolt. "You are sure there are no
troops in the place?"

"There were none when I left it," replied Hurst; but, almost as he
spoke, a loud voice exclaimed--

"Stand! Who goes there?"

"A friend," answered Barecolt.

"Stand, and give the word!" repeated the voice, and at the same
moment, a small red spot of fire, as if produced by a man blowing a
match, appeared immediately before them; and Barecolt, spurring on his
horse, found himself in the presence of a matchlock-man, at whose head
he aimed a cut with his heavy sword, which rang sharply upon a steel
cap, and brought the man upon his knee.

He fired his piece, however, but he missed his mark, and threw down
the gun, while Barecolt, catching him by the shoulder, put his sword
to his throat, exclaiming--

"Yield, or you are a dead man!"

The sentinel had no hesitation on the subject, having already received
a sharp wound on the head, which left him little inclination to court
more.

"Now tell me who is in the village," exclaimed Barecolt; "and see that
you tell truth, for your life depends upon it."

"Three companies of Colonel Harris's regiment," answered the soldier,
"and a troop of Lord Essex's own horse."

"The number?" demanded Barecolt.

"Four hundred foot and a hundred troopers," replied the man;
and having a little recovered from his first apprehension, he
demanded--"Who may you be?"

"My name is Johnson," answered Barecolt, readily, "first captain of
Sir Nicholas Jarvis's regiment of horse, marching up to join the Earl
of Beverley and Lord Walton at Hendon, near Coventry. We thought they
were quartered in this village: whereabout do they lie?"

"Oh, no," answered the man, "they are five miles to the east, we hear,
and we were to attack them on the march tomorrow."

"Are you telling me the truth?" said Barecolt, in a stern tone; "but I
will make sure of that, for I will take you with me to Sir Nicholas
Jarvis, and if we find you have cheated us as to where they lie,
you shall be shot to-morrow at daybreak. Tie his hands, some of
you---- Hark! there is a drum! There, curse him, let him go; we have
no time to spare; I must get back to Sir Nicholas, and let him know we
are on the wrong road."

Thus saying, he turned his horse and rode away, followed by the rest
of his party; while the tramp of men coming down fast from the village
was heard behind them.

The reader need not be told that Captain Barecolt never had the
slightest intention of carrying off the wounded sentinel with him;
for, having filled him with false intelligence regarding the march of
his imaginary regiment, he was very glad to leave him behind to
communicate it to his fellows in the place. In the meanwhile, he
himself gave orders for putting the horses into a quick trot, and
returning with all speed to the village, where, without communicating
any tidings he had gained to any one, he left his men, and hurried up
with Hurst to the mansion on the hill.

The earl and Lord Walton were immediately called up, and Barecolt,
being admitted to their presence, made his statement. We are by no
means so rash as to assert that the account he gave was altogether
true; for Captain Deciduous Barecolt, much more skilful than the
writer of this tale, never lost sight of his hero, and his hero was
always himself; but, at all events, the intelligence he brought of the
enemy was accurate enough, and the stratagem he had used to deceive
the foe was also told correctly, and received great commendation. He
was sent down immediately, however, to call Major Randal to the
council, and, in the mean time, the two young noblemen eagerly
questioned Hurst as to what he had seen and heard amongst the adverse
party.

The good yeoman's tale was told briefly and simply, and showed the
following facts:--After his horse had been killed, he had carried off
his saddle and the other worldly goods which he possessed; and finding
that, without being of any service to his party, he was in imminent
danger of losing his own life from the stray shots that were flying
about in different directions, he made the best of his way to the back
of the little mound we have mentioned, and thence peeped out to see
the progress of the fight. Perceiving at one time, as he imagined, the
small force of Royalists wavering in their attack upon the musketeers,
he judged it expedient, lest his friends should be defeated, to put a
greater distance between himself and the enemy; and taking all the
articles that were most valuable to him out of the saddle, he left it
behind him, and hurried on for about a mile farther, where he took up
his position in a ditch. While thus ensconced, he saw the well-known
form of Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, together with that of another
gentleman, whom he afterwards found to be Captain Batten. Between
these two appeared poor Arrah Neil, of whose arm Dry retained a firm
grasp, while he held a pistol in his right hand, under the authority
of which he seemed to be hurrying her on unresistingly.

In about a quarter of an hour more, some fugitive musketeers ran by as
fast as they could go, and shortly after, several of Major Randal's
troopers appeared in pursuit; but as Hurst was unacquainted with the
soldiers, he prudently resolved to lie concealed where he was till
some of his lord's followers should come up, which he calculated would
be shortly the case, fearing he might be taken for one of the enemy,
or at all events that he might be plundered by a friend--an operation
as common in those days as in the present, though then it was done
with pistol and broadsword, and now, in general, with pen and ink.

Towards the end of the day some of Lord Walton's men did appear, and
spoke a word to him in passing, from which he gathered that they were
searching for Arrah Neil; but, with the usual acuteness of persons
sent upon a search, they rode on without waiting for any information
he could give. Having marked the road which Dry and his companions had
taken, Hurst then determined to follow them, and made his way to the
village, in which they halted for the night. His plan had proved
successful, he said; he had found the two parliamentary committee men,
together with Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, lodged in a house in the
village, and, boldly seeking out Dry, he gave him to understand that
he had been taken by Lord Walton to join the king against his will,
and was now making the best of his way home. He affected some fear of
being overtaken; and in order to reassure him, Dry and Dr. Bastwick
communicated to him the intelligence they received in the course of
the evening from the men of Coventry, in regard to the movement of
parliamentary forces. This took place some hours subsequently,
however, to the despatch of his note to Lord Walton, and he could not
make his escape from the village, in order to carry more accurate
tidings to his young landlord, till Dry and the rest had retired to
bed.

As soon as Major Randal arrived, a hasty consultation was held, to
ascertain the course of proceedings which it would be expedient to
follow. It was determined, notwithstanding great reluctance on the
part of Lord Walton, to leave poor Arrah Neil in the hands of Mr. Dry,
of Longsoaken, that the march should be immediately commenced; and
orders were given to that effect, which at once produced all the
bustle and confusion of hasty departure. Miss Walton was called up,
and, dressing herself hastily, was soon placed upon horseback once
more, for it was determined to leave the carriages behind; and in
about an hour the two noblemen and their followers, with Major
Randal's troop, were marching on, in the grey of the dawn, directing
their steps towards Coventry. A small guard was left over the
prisoners, with orders to remain behind about an hour, and then to
leave them and follow with all speed, in order that the departure of
the troops might be accomplished as secretly as possible. No trumpet
was sounded; and if it had been possible to carry out King Lear's
plan, and shoe a troop of horse with felt, it would have been upon the
present occasion.

Though that could not be accomplished, all their proceedings were
conducted with as much silence as possible; and Miss Walton, riding
between her brother and the Earl of Beverley, had plenty of time for
thought. The sky had changed from grey to purple and gold; the expanse
of the heavens had lost its glorious hues, as the sun rose up above
the horizon; and the morning of a somewhat dull and heavy day had
fully dawned ere any one spoke, except, indeed, when the few short
words of command and direction were necessary. The countenance of Lord
Walton was grave, and even sad; and his sister, who watched it with
some anxiety, at length inquired--

"Do you anticipate any great danger, Charles? You look very gloomy."

"Oh, no, dearest Annie," he answered; "I think we are so far before
our enemies that we shall without doubt be able to join the king
before they are aware of our departure. But I cannot think of being
obliged to leave that poor girl in the hands of that old hypocrite
Dry, without feeling very sad. If he treat her ill, woe be to him
should he and I ever meet again! but I trust he will be afraid to
endanger his sanctified reputation. That is my only hope."

The earl now joined in, with that tone of calm cheerfulness which is
the most persuasive of hope; and with the peculiar charms of his
conversation, and the continued and brilliant variety which it
displayed, led the thoughts of his companions to happier themes, and
almost made them believe that brighter days were before them. Since
the preceding night his manner had much changed towards Miss Walton:
there was a tenderness in it, a tone which can only be called the tone
of love; and though both were more silent than they previously had
been, yet each, in that silence, was thinking of the other, and it is
very dangerous so to do, unless we are disposed to yield to feelings
which in the end may master us altogether. Coquetry may talk, may
carry on uninterrupted observation and reply; indifference may pursue
the calm and easy current of conversation; and avowed and satisfied
love may hold unbroken communion upon all the many subjects of thought
and imagination; but in its early day true passion is fitful in its
eloquence, full of silence and interruptions, for it is full of
thought; and the voice of feeling is often the strongest when the lips
are motionless and the tongue is mute.

But we will dwell no more upon such matters, for we have action before
us instead of thought, deeds rather than sensations. After a march of
about four hours, and a short pause for refreshment, the advanced
party of the troop was seen to halt upon a small eminence, while one
of the troopers rode back at full speed, bringing the intelligence
that they descried a considerable body of men drawn up at a short
distance from Coventry.

"Are we so near?" said Miss Walton.

"Within three miles," replied the earl. "That is the spire of St.
Michael's Church rising over the slope. You will see the city as soon
as we pass the rise. Think you these are the king's troops, Major
Randal?"

"Ay, such troops as they are," answered the old officer; "we must have
more and better before we do much service."

"It will be as well to despatch some one to see," said Lord Walton. "I
will send two of my servants, major. Here, Langan and Hartup, ride on
with all speed, and bring me back news of the people who are before
Coventry. I cannot divine why the king should halt before the gates."

"There may be rogues within," said Major Randal. And so it proved;
for, on their arrival at the top of the slope, where Coventry, with
its wide walls and beautiful spires, rose fair before them, they saw a
fire of musketry opened from the city upon a small party of royalist
troops, which approached too near the gates.

Marching rapidly on, as soon as it was ascertained that the force they
saw was that of Charles himself, they soon reached the monarch's army,
if so it could be called, and Annie Walton found herself in the midst
of a new and animated scene.

The king's face expressed much grief and vexation, as, sitting upon a
powerful horse, he consulted with some of his principal officers as to
what was to be done on the rebellious refusal of Coventry, to give him
admission. But when he turned to receive the little reinforcement
which now joined him, his countenance assumed a glad and cheerful
look; and as Lord Walton, dismounting, approached his stirrup, he held
out his hand to him graciously, saying--

"Those are kind friends and loyal subjects, indeed, my lord, who rally
round their sovereign when more favoured men forsake him. Your own
presence, my good sir, is the best answer you could give to my
letters. We must retreat, I fear, however, from before these
inhospitable walls; for we have no cannon to blow open their gates,
and even if I had, I could wish to spare my subjects."

"Ah, sire!" said Major Randal, who had also advanced to the king's
side, "when subjects draw the sword against their king, both parties
should throw away the scabbard, for it is the blade must decide all."

"Too rough, and yet too true," said his majesty; and after a few more
words addressed to Lord Beverley and Miss Walton, the king turned his
horse, and rode off with his attendants towards Stonely, leaving the
small force by which he was accompanied to follow.



                              CHAPTER X.


Three or four days had elapsed, and the party in whose fate we have
interested ourselves had reached the town of Nottingham in safety; but
gloom and despondency hung over the court of the king, over the small
force at his command, and over the whole city. Proclamation had been
made for all loyal subjects to join the monarch in Nottingham; and it
had been announced on that day, the 25th of August, 1642, that Charles
would set up his royal standard against his rebellious parliament. Few
persons, however, joined him; not a single regiment of foot had been
raised; the body of horse which he had led to Coventry had been little
increased since he had retreated from that city; the artillery and
ammunition from York had not yet arrived; and sadness was upon every
brow, and apprehension in every heart.

The evening was dark and gloomy, the wind rising in sharp and howling
gusts; large drops of rain were borne upon the blast, and everything
promised a night of tempest, when the king, accompanied by all the
noblemen and gentlemen who had joined him, set out on horseback for
the hill on which stands the old castle of Nottingham, with the
knight-marshal before him bearing the royal standard, and a small body
of the train-bands accompanying it as a guard. On reaching the spot
destined for the ceremony, the standard-pole was fixed with great
difficulty, amidst the roll of the drum and the loud blasts of the
trumpet. But neither the war-stirring sound of the drum nor the
inspiring voice of the trumpet could cheer the hearts of those around,
or give them confidence even in the success of a good cause; and, with
the same sadness with which they had gone thither, the royal party
returned from the castle hill just as the evening was growing grey
with night.

Some four or five hours after, Lord Walton, who had participated fully
in the gloomy feelings which pervaded the whole court, rose from the
supper-table at which he had been seated with his sister, the Earl of
Beverley, and one or two friends who had joined them in Nottingham;
and said--

"My head aches, dearest Annie; I will walk up to the castle hill and
take a look at the standard. The air will do me good."

"I will go with you, Charles," said Miss Walton, rising. "I will not
keep you a minute."

"Nay, not in such a night as this, Annie," answered her brother. "Do
you not hear how the wind blows, as if it would force in those
rattling casements?"

"Oh, I mind not the wind," replied Annie Walton: "you shall lend me
your arm, Charles; it will always be strong enough to steady your
sister's steps."

"God grant it, dear one!" replied Lord Walton. "Well, come! I do wish
to talk with you, Annie, upon many things;" and in a few minutes they
were in the streets of Nottingham.

The wind was even more violent than they had expected; but the tall
houses of the good old town, though exposed by its position to the
blasts, gave them some shelter; and as they walked along, Lord Walton,
after a few minutes' silence, put his right hand upon his sister's,
which grasped his arm, and said, "I wish to speak to you of the
future, dear one. Danger and strife are before me. It is impossible
for you to follow the movements of an army, and therefore I wish,
before I march hence, to take you to the house of our good old cousin,
Lady Margaret Langley, where you may rest in safety."

"I will go, Charles, if you wish it," replied Miss Walton; "but it
must be only upon the condition that no restraint be put upon my
movements, and that whenever there is a pause in the war, I may be
allowed to follow and be near you."

"Of course, dear sister," replied her brother; "I don't pretend to
restrain you in anything, Annie. You are old enough, and wise enough,
and good enough, to decide entirely upon your own actions. You must
keep several of the servants with you to guard you and protect you
wherever you go. You must also have a sufficient sum to put you above
any circumstances of difficulty, whatever you may think fit to do."

"Oh! I have the jewels, you know, Charles," said Miss Walton, "and
more money of my own with me than will be needful."

"Well, we will see to that hereafter." said Lord Walton; "but there is
another subject on which I would speak to you. No one can tell what
may be the chance of war. I may go safely through the whole of this
sad strife, and see the end of it. I may fall the first shot that is
fired. But if I do, Annie, you will need some strong arm and powerful
mind to protect and support you. In that case, I would leave you,
as a legacy, as a trust, as a charge, to the best friend I have on
earth--the oldest, the dearest. Francis Beverley loves you, Annie."

"Hush! oh, hush, Charles!" cried Miss Walton, and he felt her hand
tremble upon his arm.

"Nay, sweet sister!" continued her brother; "I asked you for no
confessions. Your tale is told already, dear girl. All I ask is, will
you, when I am gone, without reserve or woman's vain reluctance, trust
in him, rely on him, as you do on me?"

His sister was silent for a moment, and he repeated--"Will you, Annie,
forget all coyness, all unkind and ungenerous diffidence, and,
recollecting he has been a brother to your brother, confide in him as
such?"

Annie Walton paused again for a single instant, and then, with her
face bent down, though no one could see her glowing cheek in the
darkness, she murmured, "I will."

Lord Walton pressed her hand in his, and then in silence led the way
up to the hill.

It was with difficulty that they ascended, so fierce were the gusts of
wind; but the very violence of the blast scattered from time to time
the drifting clouds, and the moon occasionally looked forth and cast a
wavering light upon their path. Not a soul, however, did they meet in
their way; all was still and silent but the howling of the tempest,
till at length, when they reached the top, the voice of a sentinel
exclaimed as usual--"Stand! Who goes there?"

"A friend," replied Lord Walton; and before the man could demand it,
he gave the word for the night, saying, "The crown."

"Pass!" replied the sentinel; and he walked on with his sister
clinging to his arm.

The moon shone out again; and Miss Walton and her brother both gazed
forward towards the spot where the standard had stood. They could not
see it; and hurrying on their steps, they found four or five of the
train-band standing round the place. The standard itself was lying
fiat upon the ground.

In answer to Lord Walton's questions, the men informed him that the
wind had blown it down, and that they found it was impossible to raise
it again; and turning sadly away, the young nobleman murmured in a low
voice to his sister, "God send this be not an omen of our royal
master's fate!"



                             CHAPTER XI.


In a small tavern at Nottingham was a large but low-roofed room, with
the heavy beams, blackened by smoke, almost touching the heads of some
of the taller guests; in which, on the night after that of which we
have just spoken, were assembled as many persons as it could well
contain; and a strange scene of confusion it presented. Hats and
feathers, swords and daggers, pipes and glasses, bottles and plates,
big men and little, men of war and men of peace; an atmosphere
composed of smoke, of the fumes of wine, the smell of strong waters
and of beer, and the odour of several large pieces of roast meat,
together with sounds of innumerable kinds, oaths, cries for the
tapster and the boy, loud laughter, low murmurs, the hoarse
accusation, the fierce rejoinder, the sustained discussion, the prosy
tale, and the dull snore, as well as the half-drunken song, had all
their place in the apartment, which might well have been supposed the
tap-room of the tower of Babel. The house was, in short, a place of
resort for the lower order of Cavaliers, and the hour that at which
the greater part having supped, were betaking themselves to their
drink with the laudable determination, then but too common, of leaving
themselves as little wit as possible till the next morning.

"_Basta, basta!_ It sufficeth!" cried a tall man with a peculiarly
constructed nose. "I would find the good youth if he were in a hundred
Hulls. What's Hull to me? or I to Hull? as the poet says. I know, if I
can bring the girl back out of his clutches, where a hundred crowns
are to be got. We have open hands amongst us; but mark me, master, if
you are deceiving me, I will cut your ears off."

The man whom he addressed was a small, sharp-eyed man, reddish in the
hair and pale about the gills; but he answered stoutly, "That's what
you dare not, Master Barecolt."

"Dare not!" cried Barecolt, seizing a knife that lay upon the table,
and starting up with an ominous look--"Dare not! What is it that I
dare not? Now, look you, repeat that word again, and you shall go
forth from this room with no more ears than a grinder's cur. Dare not!
thou small chandler, I could break you across my knee like a piece of
rotten wood."

There was some truth in what he said, and the small man felt the force
of that truth, so that he thought it expedient to lower his tone.

"I meant I would take the law of you if you did," he said; "so no more
of cutting off ears, Master Barecolt, for we have sharp justices in
Nottingham. But what I said is very true. I know old Dry very well;
have known him, indeed, these twelve years. When first he used to come
to Hull to buy goods of the Hamburghers, I had a shop there, where he
used to stop and take a glass of cinnamon now and then. But he has
grown a great man now, and would hardly notice an old acquaintance,
especially as he was riding with men of war."

"And you are sure he had a woman with him?" asked Barecolt, resuming
his seat and filling his glass.

"A sort of girl, mayhap some sixteen years of age," answered his
companion. "She looked somewhat rueful too, with her eyes cast down
upon the ground as she rode along."

"That's she," replied Barecolt; "'tis beyond all doubt. What does the
dried herring at Hull, I wonder? Let me see. It would take some
threescore men to capture Hull, I doubt?"

"Threescore!" exclaimed the other; "some thirty thousand, you mean."

Barecolt gave him a look of unutterable contempt. "Four petards," he
said, continuing his own calculations in an under tone, "for the outer
gate, the bridge, the inner gate, and one to spare, ha! threescore
men--half must be musketeers. Well, there is Hughes's company. I will
do it."

"You had better not try," answered his companion. "I could tell you a
much better plan, if you would strike a bargain in an honest way, and
give me half the reward for finding this young woman, as you say there
are great folks looking after her."

"Half the reward, thou little Carthagenian!" exclaimed Barecolt. "By
my faith! if you have half the reward, you shall have the danger too;
and a quarter of it would turn your liver as white as a hen pigeon's."

"Why, I will save you all danger, if you will listen to me," answered
the small gentleman. "I will tell you my plan, and you shall judge,
and whatever risk there is, I will share readily enough. I know all
the houses that Dry frequents in Hull; all his haunts, from the store
where he used to buy dried beef and neats' tongues salted, to the shop
where he used to take the fourth glass of strong waters. If you will
put off your swagger and your feathers, clothe yourself like a
Puritan, and walk demurely, we will take two companions, slip into
Hull with a couple of horse-loads of drapery, find out where Master
Dry lodges, and while I busy him with a little speculation in his own
way, by which I can easily make him believe that he will fill his
pockets, you can deal with the girl, and get her out of the city."

"Clothe myself like a puritan!" said Barecolt, thoughtfully, "that is
the only difficult part of the affair; for unless I steal old Major
Randal's suit of black, where I am to get a pious doublet I know not.
The fifty crowns Lord Walton gave me have been spent on this new
bravery, and sundry pottle pots, together with things that shall be
nameless, friend Tibbets; but, by my faith! I will go and ask the good
lord for more. He will not grudge the pistoles if we can get Mistress
Arrah back again to him. He's as fond of her as a hen of her chickens,
yet all in honour, Master Tibbets, all in honour, upon my life. I will
go this minute, as soon as I have finished this pint;" and again he
filled his glass, and drained it at a draught.

He then rose from his seat, and was in the act of saying, "Wait here
for me, and I will be back in a minute," when an officer was seen
dimly through the smoke, entering by the door on the other side of the
room. After gazing round for a moment, from table to table, he
exclaimed aloud, "Is one Captain Barecolt here? He is wanted by the
king."

"I knew it?" cried Barecolt, giving a towering look at Master Tibbets.
"I was sure of it--my great services, sir, my name is Barecolt, and
your very humble servant."

The officer gazed at him with a look of some consideration and
surprise. "My good friend," he said, "you seem scarcely fit to obey
the king's summons. You have been drinking."

"So does his majesty, I wot, when he thirsty," replied Barecolt,
nothing abashed; "but if it be of proportions you speak, if it be
quantity which makes the difference, I will soon remedy the amount of
wine within, by the application of water without. I am not drunk, sir;
I never was drunk in my life. No, sir, nor was I ever the worse for
liquor, as it is termed, though often much the better for it. But
whenever I find my eyes a little misty, and see a fringe round the
candles, or feel the floor move in an unusual manner, or the cups
dance without any one touching them, I have a secret for remedying
such irregularities, which secret lies, like truth, in the bottom of a
well. Hold, Tapster! I have drunk wine enough to-night to justify me
in calling for water, even in a tavern. Tapster, I say, get me a
bucket of cold water from the pump, and put it down before the door,
then bring a napkin to take off the superfluous. I remember when I was
in the Palatinate going to see the great tun----"

"Sir, we have no time for tales," said the officer drily; "the king
waits. Make yourself as sober as you can, and as speedily as
possible."

"Sir, I am with you in an instant," rejoined Barecolt. "Master
Tibbets, wait here till I come back. You can finish the tankard for
me; it is paid for."

Thus saying, he went forth, and returned in a few minutes, buttoning
up his collar, with his scattered hair somewhat dishevelled and
dripping; and, saying he was ready, he followed the officer, making
another sign to Tibbets to wait for his return.

"Who is that fellow?"

"What the devil can the king want with him?"

"Why, it's Captain Barecolt, of Randal's."

"I think the king might have chosen a better man."

"That's a lie. There is not a better man in the service."

"He's a bragging fool."

"I dare say a coward too."

"No, no, no coward, for all his brags."

Such were some of the observations which followed Barecolt's departure
with the officer, while they wended on their way through the streets
of Nottingham to the king's lodging, whither we shall take leave to
follow them. The style and semblance of a court was kept up long after
the royal authority was gone; and in the first room which Barecolt
entered were a number of servants and attendants. Beyond that was a
vacant chamber, and then a small anteroom, in which a pale boy, in a
page's dress, sat reading by a lamp. He looked up, as the captain and
his conductor appeared, but did not offer to move till the officer
told him to go in, and say to his majesty, that Captain Barecolt was
in attendance; on which he rose, opened a door opposite, and knocked
at a second, which appeared within. Voices were heard speaking; and,
after a moment's pause, the boy repeated the signal, when the door was
opened, and he made the announcement.

"Let him wait," was the reply; and for about twenty minutes the worthy
captain remained, his head getting each moment cooler, and freer from
the fumes of the wine; but his fancy only became the more active and
rampant, and running away with him over the open plain of possibility,
without the slightest heed of whither she was carrying her rider.
Having already given the reader a sample of her doings with Captain
Barecolt in a preceding chapter, we will spare him on the present
occasion, especially as it would take much more time to recount her
vagaries in the good gentleman's brain that it did for her to enact
them.

At length the door opened, and a voice pronounced the words, "Captain
Barecolt!" at which sound the captain advanced and entered, not
without some trepidation, for there is something in majesty, even when
shorn of its beams, that is not to be lightlied by common men.

The king was seated at a table in a small room, with lights and papers
before him, and three or four gentlemen were standing round, of whom
Barecolt knew but one, even by sight. That one was the Earl of
Beverley, who, with a packet of letters in his hand, stood a little
behind and on the right of the king. The monarch wore his hat and
plume, and the full light was shining on his fine melancholy features,
which looked more sad rather than more cheerful for a faint smile that
was passing over his lip. His fair right hand lay upon the table, with
the fingers clasped round a roll of papers, upon which they closed and
opened more than once, while Barecolt advanced to the end of the table
with a low bow; and the monarch gazed at him attentively for a few
moments.

"Your name is Barecolt?" asked the king at length.

"It is, may it please your majesty," replied the captain. "You have
been much in France, I think?" continued Charles.

"Many years, sire," answered the soldier, "and speak the language as
my own."

"Good!" said the king. "With what parts of the country are you most
acquainted?"

"With all parts, your majesty," rejoined the captain, who was
beginning to recover his loquacity, which had been somewhat checked by
the first effect of the king's presence. "I have been in the north,
sire, where I fought against Fuentez; and I have travelled all over
the ground round Paris. I know every part of Picardy and the Isle of
France. Normandy, too, I have run through in every direction, and
could find my way from Caudabec to Alençon with my eyes blindfolded.
Poitou and Maine I am thoroughly conversant with; and know all the
towns on the Loire and in the Orleannois, the passes of the Cevennes,
the Forez, and the Vivarais."

But Charles waved his hand, saying, "Enough! enough! Now, tell me, if
you were landed on the coast of Normandy, say at Pont au-de-Mer, and
had to make your way secretly to Paris, what course would you take?"

"Please your majesty, Pont au-de-Mer is not a seaport," replied
Barecolt. The king smiled, and Barecolt continued, "I know it well,
and a pretty little town it is, upon the Rille."

"Well, well," said the king; "suppose you were landed at Harfleur,
then, I did but wish to try you, sir, how would you direct your course
for Paris from Harfleur?"

"If I were to go secretly, may it please your majesty," was the reply,
"I do not think I should go near Pont au-de-Mer at all, for then I
must pass through Rouen, where they are cute and cunning, ask all
sorts of questions, and look to passes sharply. No; I would rather
take a little round by Lisieux, Evreux, and Pacy, or perhaps, keep
still farther out from the Seine, and come upon Paris by Dreux,
Pontchartrain, and Versailles. Then they would never suspect one came
from the sea-side."

The king slowly nodded his head with a satisfied air, saying, "I see
you know what you speak of, my friend. My Lord of Beverley, this will
do. If you wish to ask him any more questions before you trust
yourself to his guidance, pray do so."

"Oh no, sire," replied the earl; "I satisfied myself by my
conversation with Major Randal, before I spoke with your majesty on
the subject. He assures me that Captain Barecolt knows France well,
and I have had cause to be aware that he is a serviceable companion in
moments of danger. There is but one bad habit, which I trust Captain
Barecolt will lay aside for the time: that is, too much talking. I am
going, sir, to Paris, on business of importance. The road that I know
is not now open to me, and I have need of one to accompany me who is
well acquainted with the country through which I have to pass. By his
majesty's permission, and on Major Randal's recommendation, I have
chosen you, sir, for a service which will be rewarded as according as
it is well performed. But you must recollect that the least whisper
that I am not what I seem may prove my ruin, though it can benefit no
other party, as it is to avoid sending despatches that I go myself."

"You need not be afraid, my lord," replied Barecolt; "for, though I am
a soldier of fortune, yet it has ways been my rule to stick to the
cause I first espouse till my engagement be up. If I do sell myself to
the best bidder, as soon as I have touched a crown the market is over.
I am no more for sale. The goods are disposed of; and if I were to go
over to the enemy even for an hour, I should look upon it that I was
stealing myself a sort of _felo de se_ in the code of honour, which I
never did, and never will be guilty of. Then, as for discretion, my
lord, I declare upon my word, that all the time I am with you I will
not utter one syllable of truth. I will be all one tall lie, saving
his majesty's presence. You shan't have to accuse me of speaking truth
indiscreetly, depend upon it."

"But speaking too much at all, Master Barecolt, may do as much harm,"
replied Lord Beverley: "a lie is a difficult thing to manage."

"For those who are not accustomed to it, my lord," replied Barecolt,
with a low bow; "but I am experienced, sir and owe my life some twenty
times over to a well-managed fiction. Oh a clumsy lie is a hateful
thing, not to be tolerated amongst gentlemen; and a timid lie is still
worse, for it shows cowardice; but a good bold falsehood, well
supported and dexterously planted, is as good as a battery at any
time."

"Not a very creditable sort of weapon," said the king, with a grave
brow. "But enough of this, sir. Where to deceive an enemy in open
strife, to gain a mighty object, such as security, or conceal one's
needful proceedings from the eyes of those who have no right to pry,
is the end proposed, some palliation may be found, perhaps, for a
deviation from the strict truth. Would it were not sometimes
necessary!" he added, looking round, as if doubtful of the approval of
all present; "but, at all events, to speak unnecessary untruths is as
dangerous as it is foolish, and as foolish as it is wicked."

"May it please your majesty," answered Barecolt, whose self-confidence
had now fully returned, "what your majesty says is quite just; but
some of these necessary lies I suppose we must tell from the
beginning. Neither I nor my lord the earl, I take it, must pass for an
Englishman, or there will be no more secrecy. We must both say we are
Frenchmen, or Dutchmen, or Italians--a good big falsehood to commence
with."

Lord Beverley laughed. "I am afraid, sire," he observed, "we must say
no more upon the subject, or we shall have a strange treatise upon
ethics; but, however, as we go across the country to embark, I will
endeavour to drill my friend here to use his tongue as little as may
be, so that we shall be spared more fraud than is needful. I will now
take my leave of your majesty, having received my instructions, and by
daybreak to-morrow I will be on my way. May God graciously speed your
majesty's cause during my absence!" Thus saying, he bent one knee, and
kissed Charles's hand, and then, making a sign to Barecolt to follow,
he quitted the presence.

"Now, Master Barecolt," said the earl, as soon as they were in the
street, "I know you are a man of action. Be with me by four to-morrow.
There is something for your preparations;" and he put a small but
heavy leathern bag in his hand, adding, "That is all that is needed
for a soldier, I know."

"Good faith! I must speak with Lord Walton before I go," answered
Barecolt, "though it be somewhat late."

"Well, then, come quick," replied the earl; and he led the way to the
lodging of his friend, where, while Barecolt entertained the young
nobleman for near an hour in the room below, Lord Beverley passed some
sweet, though parting moments with bright Annie Walton; and when he
left her, her cheek was glowing and her eyelids moist with tears.



                             CHAPTER XII.


In a remote part of the country--for England had then remote parts and
lonely, which are now broad and open to the busy world--rode along, a
little before nightfall, a small party of about ten persons. The
weather was clear and mild; but there was in the evening light and in
the autumnal hues that touch of melancholy which always accompanies
the passing away of anything that is bright, whether it be a summer's
day or a fair season, a joy or a hope.

The country was flat and unbroken; but, nevertheless, the eye had no
scope to roam, for tall, gloomy-looking rows of trees flanked the
narrow road on either side, and many similar lines divided the plain
into small fields, which they shaded from the sun, except when he
towered at his highest noon. A river some five or six yards across,
slow almost to stagnation, crept along at the side of the lane, with
the current just perceptible in the middle, where the water seemed
bright and limpid enough; but farther towards the side, the thick
weeds were seen rising from the bottom and spreading over the surface,
till at the very edge they became tangled into an impenetrable green
mass, fringed with flags and rushes. Over the clearer part of the
stream darted the busy water-spider, and whirling in the air above
were myriads of gnats, rising with their irritating hum in tall
columns, like the sands of the desert when lifted up by the whirlwind.
The light was grey and solemn, and one needed to look to the sky to
see that the sun had not actually set.

After riding along this road for the distance of about a mile, a large
stone, somewhat like a gravestone, appeared on the side opposite to
the water; and one of the horsemen, having dismounted to examine what
inscription it bore deciphered, amongst the moss and lichens that
covered it, the following agreeable intelligence:--"Here, in the year
of grace 1613, and on the 19th day of the month of November, Matthew
Peters was murdered by his eldest son, Thomas, who was executed for
the same on the 10th of the month of December next ensuing, in the
town of Hull, the worshipful John Slackman, mayor. Reader, take
warning by his fate. Go and do not likewise."

If the party was sad before, this mememto of crime and suffering did
not tend to make it merrier: the horseman mounted his horse again, and
they rode on in silence for another mile and a half, when, at the
distance of about a hundred yards from the road, which, though it was
still seen proceeding in a straight line till it lost itself in the
shadows, seemed to lead nowhere, so dull and desolate did it look,
there appeared a large shady building, to the stone-paved fore-court,
of which the river formed a sort of moat.

First came a square tower of red brick, edged with stone which had
once been white, but now was green; then followed a dull, low wall,
probably that of some long corridor, for a slated roof hung over it,
and two narrow windows gave the interior a certain portion of light.
This was succeeded by a large centre, or _corps de logis_, flat and
formal, solemn and unresponding, with similar small windows, and a
vast deep doorway. Another long low line of brickwork came after, and
then another square tower, and then another mass of brickwork,
differing from the former in size and shape, but retaining the same
style, and displaying the same melancholy aspect. No ivy grew up
around it to break the lines and angles. Not a tree was before it to
take off its dull formality. All was heavy, and vast, and grave; and
to look upon it one could hardly convince one's self, not that it was
inhabited, but that it had been cheered by the warm presence of human
life for years. No sound was heard, no moving thing was seen, except
when one raised one's eyes in search of chimneys, and there one or two
tall columns of smoke rose slowly and seriously towards the sky, as if
they had made a covenant with the wind not to disturb their quiet and
upright course.

Over the water from the stone court that we have mentioned swung a
drawbridge, which was half elevated, being hooked up by one of the
links of the thick chain that suspended it to the posts on the other
side; and here one of the men of the party, for it consisted of both
men and women, pulled in his horse, saying--

"This is Langley Hall, my lord."

"I know," answered Lord Walton, with a sigh. "It is long since I have
been here, but I remember it. We see it at an unfavourable hour, dear
Annie, It looks more cheerful the full light."

"Oh! that matters not, Charles," answered Miss Walton, in a gentle
tone; "sunshine and shade are within the heart more than without; and
I shall find it gay or sad as those I love fare well or ill."

"How shall we get in?" asked Lord Walton; "the drawbridge is half up."

"Oh! there is the bell behind the posts," replied the man who had
first spoken; and, dismounting, he pulled a rope, which produced a
loud but heavy sound, more like the great bell of a church than that
of an ordinary mansion.

Some three or four minutes elapsed without any one appearing to answer
this noisy summons; but at length an old white-headed man came out,
and asked cautiously, before he let down the bridge, Who was there?

"It is Lord Walton and his sister," answered the young nobleman; "let
down the bridge, good man. Lady Margaret expects us."

"Oh! I know that, I know that," rejoined the old servant; but still,
instead of obeying the directions he received, he retrod his steps
slowly towards the house. His conduct was soon explained by his
calling aloud--"William! William! come and help here! The bridge is
too much for one, and here is the young lord and a whole host of
people, men, women, and children. Perhaps it is not the young lord
after all. He was a curly-pated boy when last I saw him, and this
looks like a colonel of horse."

"Time! time! Master Dixon; time may make us all Colonels of horse,"
answered a brisk-looking youth in a tight doublet, which set off his
sturdy limbs to good advantage, as he strode forward to the old man's
assistance.

"Time is a strange changer of curly hair. Doubtless your good dame
patted your head some years agone, and tailed you her pretty boy; and
now, if she were to see you, the mother would not know her son, but
would call you uncle or grandpapa."

"And so I was a pretty boy--that is very true," answered the old man,
coming forward again towards the bridge, well pleased with ancient
memories; "and my mother did often pat my head--Lord! I remember it as
if it were but yesterday."

"Ah! but you have seen a good many yesterdays since then, Master
Dixon," rejoined the young man, following to the edge of the river,
with the wise air of self-satisfied youth. "Now, Master Dixon, you
unhook while I pull;" and, as the bridge was slowly let down, he
added, "Give you good even, my lord. You are welcome to Langley. Good
even, lady. You are welcome, too, and so are all these pretty dames.
My lady will be right glad to see you all."

His words were cheerful, and there is something very reassuring in the
gay tones of the human voice. They seem, in the hour of despondency
and gloom, to assure us that all is not sadness in the world; that
there is truly such a thing as hope; that there are moments of
enjoyment, and that the heart is not altogether forbidden to be
happy--all matters of which we entertain many doubts when the cloud of
sorrow first falls upon us, and hides the brighter things of life from
our eyes.

How often is it that the reality belies the outside appearance--if not
always, at least generally. In dealing with all things, moral and
physical, man deceives himself and is deceived, and never can tell the
core by the rind. These are truisms, reader; very trite, very often
repeated. I know it; I write them as such: but do you act upon them?
or you? or you? Where is the man that does? And if there be a man,
where is the woman? The demagogue is judged by his words, the preacher
by his sermon, the statesman by his eloquence, the lover by his looks.
All seeming--nothing but seeming; and it is not till we come to taste
the fruit that we learn the real flavour.

All had seemed dark and gloomy in Langley Hall; and the sadness which
Annie Walton had felt in parting with her brother, when strife and
danger were before him, had, it is true, though she would not own it,
been deepened by the cold aspect of her future habitation. But the
man's cheerful tone first raised the corner of the curtain; and when
on entering the wide old hall, she saw the mellow light of the setting
sun pouring over a wide Champaign country, through a tall window on
the other side, and covering the marble floor as if with a network of
light and shade, while here a bright suit of armour, and there a
cluster of well-arranged arms, and there a large picture of some
ancient lord of the place, caught the rays and glowed with a look of
peaceful comfort, she felt revived and relieved.

The next moment, from a door at the far end on the right, came forth
an old lady, somewhat tall and upright, in her long stays, with a coif
upon her head in token of widowhood, and her silver-white hair
glistening beneath it, but withal a bland and pleasant smile upon her
wrinkled face, and fire, almost as bright as that of youth, in her
undimmed eye.

She embraced her nephew and niece with all the affection and
tenderness of a parent, and taking Annie by the hand, gazed on and
kissed her again, saying--

"Not like thy mother, Annie; not like thy mother; and yet the
eyes--ay, too, and the lips; now you look grave. But, come; Charles,
come. See where I sit, with my sole companion for the last five years,
except when good Dr. Blunt comes over from Hull to tell me news, or
the vicar sits with me for an hour on Friday."

As she spoke she led them into a large room, wainscotted with dark
chesnut-wood; and from out of the recess of the window, where the
sunshine fell, rose a tall shaggy deerhound, and, with steps
majestical and slow, walked up to the young lord and lady, examined
first the one and then the other with close attention, stretched
himself out with a weary yawn, and taking it for granted all was
right, laid himself down again to doze where he had been before.

"See, Charles, see what a shrewd dog he is," cried the old lady: "he
knows whom he may trust and whom he may not, in a moment. I had old
Colonel Northcote here the other day. What he came for I know not,
though I do know him to be a rogue; for Basto there did nought but
growl and show his white teeth close to the good man's legs, till he
was glad to get away unbitten."

"I sometimes wish we had their instinct, dear Aunt Margaret, rather
than our sense," replied her nephew; "for one is often much more
serviceable than the other."

"Much keener, Charles, at all events," answered the old lady. "And so
you are here at length. Well, I got all the letters, and Annie shall
be another in the hall when you are gone; and, when she is tired of
the old woman, she has a sunny chamber where the robins sing, for her
own thoughts; and she shall be free to come and go according to all
stipulations, and no question asked, were it to meet a gallant in the
wood."

"Nay, Charles, nay," cried Miss Walton, "why did you write my aunt
such tales of me? My only stipulation was, indeed, that I might join
him whenever a pause came in these sad doings, my dear aunt."

"Oh, you shall be as free as air, sweet nun," replied Lady Margaret.
"I never could abide to see a poor bird in a cage, or a dog tied by a
chain; and when I was young I was as wild and wilful as my poor sister
Ann was staid and good. I have now lived to well-nigh seventy years,
still loving all freedom but that which God forbids--still hating all
thraldom but that which love imposes. I was long happy, too, in
shaping my own course, and I would see others happy in the self-same
way. Come, dear child: while Charles disposes of his men, I will show
you your bower, where you may reign, queen of yourself and all within
it."

Annie followed her aunt from the room, passed through another behind
it, and entered a little sort of stone hall or vestibule, lighted from
the top. Four doors were in the walls, and a small staircase at the
further end, up which Lady Margaret led the way to the first floor
above, where two doors appeared on either hand, with a gallery, fenced
with an oaken balustrade running round the hall, at about twelve feet
from the ground. Along this gallery the old lady led her young niece,
and then through a long and somewhat tortuous passage, which was
crossed by another some twenty yards down, that branched off to more
rooms and corridors beyond. Then came a turn, and then another
passage, and at the end three broad low steps led up to a large door.

"Dear aunt," said Miss Walton, who had thought their journey would
never end, "your house is a perfect labyrinth. I shall never find my
way back."

"It is somewhat crooked in its ways, child," answered Lady Margaret;
"but you will make it out in time, never fear; that is to say, as far
as you need to know it. Now, here is your bower;" and, opening the
door, she led Miss Walton into a large roam looking to the south-west.
The sun had just gone down, and the whole western sky was on fire with
his parting look, so that a rosy light filled the wide chamber, from a
large bay window, where, raised a step above the rest of the room, was
a little platform with two seats, and a small table of inlaid wood.

"There I have sat and worked many a day," said the old lady, pointing
to the window, "when my poor knight was at the siege of Ostend. We
lived together happily for many years, Annie, and it was very wrong of
him to go away at last without taking me with him. However, we shall
soon meet again, that is some comfort; but I have never dwelt in this
room since."

As she spoke, a slow pattering sound was heard along the passage, and
then a scratch at the door. "It is Basto," said Lady Margaret; "he has
come to see that I am not moping myself in my old rooms. Come in,
Basto;" and, opening the door, the dog stalked in, first looking up in
his mistress's face and wagging his tail deliberately, and then in
that of her fair niece with a similar gratulation.

"Ah, thou art a wise man," said Lady Margaret, patting him on the
head. "We are growing old, Basto; we are growing old. My husband
brought him from Ireland ten years ago, Annie, and he was then some
two years old; so according to dogs' lives he is about fifty, and yet
see what teeth he has!" and she opened with her thin, fair, shrivelled
hands the beast's powerful jaws.

Miss Walton had in the mean time been taking a review of her chamber,
which her kind aunt had certainly made as comfortable and gay as might
be. The colours of all that it contained were light and sparkling,
contrasting pleasantly with the dark panelling which lined the whole
house. There were chairs and low seats covered with yellow silk, and
curtains of the same stuff to draw across the bay window. There were
sundry pieces of tapestry for the feet, covered with roses and lilies,
and on either side of the vast oaken mantel-piece hung brushes of
many-coloured feathers. But there was no bed; and the next minute,
after some further admiration of the dog's teeth, Lady Margaret opened
a door on the right of the fireplace, which led into another room
beyond, fitted up as a sleeping-chamber, with the same air of comfort
as the other. Everything was pointed out to Annie as long as any light
lasted, and then the old lady, showing her a third door, observed,
"There is a closet for your maids to sleep in; but we must get back,
sweet niece, for it is growing dark, and you will fancy goblins in the
passage."

Miss Walton laughed, assuring her that she feared nothing but losing
her way, and the old lady answered, "Oh! you must learn, you must
learn, Annie. 'Tis often good to have a place like this, where one may
set search at defiance. In the last reign we had conspiracies enow,
God wot! and one poor man, whose head they wanted, was here three days
while his enemies were in the house; but they never found him, and yet
he walked about at ease."'

"Indeed!" said Miss Walton, as they made their way back; "how might
that be, my dear aunt? If they searched well in the daylight, I should
think there would be little chance of escape."

"More than you know, Annie," answered her aunt drily; "but I will tell
you all about it some day; and now I will send up William, who is a
clever lad, with your maids, to show them the way, and bring your
goods and chattels up. But what is all this loud speaking, I wonder?"

"I know the voice, I think," answered Miss Walton; "but if I am right
as to the person, he should have been over the seas long ago."



                            CHAPTER XIII.

               For England's war revered the claim
               Of every unprotected name;
               And spared, amidst its fiercest rage,
               Childhood, and womanhood, and age.


So sung a great poet and excellent man, but begging the master's
pardon, if War herself spared them, the consequences of war reached
them sadly. It never has been, and never will be, that in times of
civil contention, when anarchy has dissolved the bonds of law, the
fierce passions, which in the breasts of too many are only fettered by
fear, will not break forth to ravage and destroy. There never was yet
strife without crime, and never will be. Certainly, such was not the
case in the civil wars of the great rebellion, and many an act was
committed with impunity under cover of the disorders of the time, of
the most black and horrible character. True, the justice still held
his seat upon the bench, to take cognizance of all crimes but
rebellion; true, mayors and corporations existed in cities, and
exercised municipal authority; but the power thus possessed was not
unfrequently used for the gratification of the person who held it on
the side of the parliament, and if not held by one of that party, was
utterly disregarded by those who were.

Of this fact, Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, was very well aware; and after
making his escape from the carriages during the skirmish at the
bridge, he had, with the assistance of his companion, dragged poor
Arrah Neil along with him, assuring the parliamentary committee-man
who accompanied him, that he did it solely to deliver the poor girl
from the men of Belial with whom she was consorting, and to place her
in the hands of a chosen vessel, a devout woman of his neighbourhood,
whom he likened, in an irreverent strain, to Anna the prophetess.

Whether his companion put full faith in his sincerity and singleness
of purpose or not, does not much matter. Captain Batten was not one to
quarrel with any one's hypocrisy; and indeed it seemed that a sort of
agreement had been made amongst the Roundheads--like that by which men
take paper money instead of gold and silver--to let each man's
religious pretences pass current as genuine coin, however flimsy might
be the materials of which they were made. The real purpose of Mr. Dry
was, to take poor Arrah Neil back to Bishop's Merton for his own
views; and his motives were, as the reader will learn hereafter, of a
very mixed character. But, after having wandered about with Batten and
Dr. Bastwick for two days, during the course of which he was more than
once seen studying a packet of old letters, he expressed a strong
desire to go under the escort of some body of parliamentary troops
into Yorkshire, where he declared he had just recollected having some
business of importance to transact.

No opportunity occurred for several days, during which time the whole
party who had escaped from the Cavaliers, at the invitation of the
worthy common councilmen of Coventry, took up their abode for a time
in that ancient city, Mr. Dry watching poor Arrah Neil with the
closest care, and giving out to the landlady of the inn at which he
lodged that she was a poor ward of his, of weak understanding, over
whom it was necessary to keep a strict guard.

The pious landlady of Coventry believed every word that Mr. Dry
thought fit to tell her. How could she do otherwise, indeed, with so
very devout a person? and to say the truth, the demeanour and
appearance of Arrah Neil did not serve to belie the assertions of the
old hypocrite who had her in his power. She remained the greater part
of each day plunged in deep and melancholy musings; and though she
more than once attempted to escape, and said she was wrongfully
detained, yet she entered into no long explanations, notwithstanding
sundry opportunities afforded her by the hostess, who was not without
her share of curiosity. The fit, or, as she called it, the cloud of
gloom, had come upon her again. It had passed away, indeed, during the
active and bustling time of the march from Bishop's Merton, and so
indeed it always did, either in moments when all went clear and
smoothly, or in times of great difficulty and danger; but still it
returned when any of the bitter sorrows and pangs of which every life
has some, and hers had too many, crossed her way, and darkened the
prospect of the future.

It was not sullenness, reader; it was no gloomy bitterness of spirit;
it was no impatience of the ills that are the lot of all; it was no
rebellions murmuring against the will of God: neither was it madness,
nor anything like it, though she acted sometimes strangely, and
sometimes wildly, as it seemed to the common eyes of the world, from a
strong and energetic determination of accomplishing her object at the
time, joined with the utter want of that experience of the world which
would have taught her how to accomplish it by ordinary means. What was
it then? you will ask, and may think it strange when I say--_memory_.
But so it was: memory, confused and vague, of things long gone before,
which formed so strong a contrast with the present, that whenever
sorrow or disappointment fell upon her, some former time, some distant
scenes of which she knew not the when nor the where, rose up before
her eyes, and made even herself believe that she was mad. She
recollected bright looks and kind words, and days of happiness and
nights of peace and repose, to which she could not give "a local
habitation and a name." Were they visions? she asked herself; were
they dreams? where could they have occurred? what could they have
been? Was it from some book which she had read, she often inquired,
that such fanciful pictures had been gleaned, and had then fixed
themselves as realities in her mind?

She could not tell; but when such memories rose up, they took
possession of her wholly--bewildered, confused, overpowered her. For a
time she was a creature of the past; she scarcely believed in the
present; she knew not which was the reality--the things gone by, or
the things that surrounded her.

During the whole time that she remained at Coventry, this cloud was
upon her, and she paid little attention to anything but the continual
questioning of her own heart and mind. She attempted, as we have said,
to escape--indeed, more than once; but it was by impulse rather than
by thought; and when frustrated, she fell at once back again into
meditation. She did not remark that Dry treated her in a very
different manner from that which he had ever displayed towards her
before; that he called her "Mistress Arrah;" that he tried to soothe
and to amuse her. She noticed, but without much attention, that
different clothing had been provided for her from that which she had
been accustomed to wear; but whenever her mind turned from the past
towards the present again, her thoughts busied themselves with Charles
Walton and his sister, and she would have given worlds to know how it
fared with those she loved.

That the victory had been won by the Cavaliers she was aware, but at
what price it had been bought she could not tell, and she trembled to
think of it. No one, indeed, spoke to her upon the subject; for Dry
was silent, and for reasons of his own, he took care that she should
be visited by none but the landlady of the inn.

At length two pieces of intelligence reached him on the third day
after their arrival in Coventry, which made him resolute to pursue his
journey into Yorkshire immediately.

The first of these was communicated to him by one of his own servants,
to whom he had sent shortly after the skirmish, and was to the effect
that the great majority of the people of Bishop's Merton had espoused
the royalist cause, and that messengers had arrived from Lord Walton,
ordering him to be apprehended immediately, if he made his appearance
in the place. With this news, however, came the money he had sent for;
and on the evening of the same day, Dr. Bastwick brought him the
second piece of information, which was merely that a troop of the
parliamentary horse would pass through Coventry the following day, on
their road to Hull, where Sir John Hotham was in command for the
parliament. It was added that Master Dry might march safely under
their escort, and he accordingly spent the rest of the evening in
buying horses and equipage for himself and Arrah Neil, and set out the
following day on his journey.

The tedious march towards Hull need not be related; during the whole
of the way the old man rode beside his charge, plying her with soft
and somewhat amorous words, mingled strangely and horribly with texts
from Scripture, perverted and misapplied, and graced with airs of
piety and devotion, which those who knew him well were quite aware had
no share in his dealings or in his heart.

Arrah Neil paid little attention to him, answered seldom, and then but
by monosyllables. To escape was impossible, for he had now too many
abettors with him, and she was never left alone for a moment, except
when locked into a room during a halt. Yet she looked anxiously for
the opportunity; and whenever any objects were seen moving through the
country as they passed, her heart beat with the hope of some party of
Cavaliers being nigh, and giving her relief. Such, however, did not
prove the case, and about noon of an autumnal day, they entered the
town of Hull.

Here Mr. Ezekiel Dry separated himself from the troop, with thanks for
their escort, and made his way towards the centre of the town, where
stood the house of a friend with whom he had often transacted business
of different kinds. The friend, however, had since he saw him married
a wife, and was absent from the town; and though Mr. Dry assured a
demure-looking maid-servant, who opened the door, that his friend
Jeremiah had always told him he might use his house as his own, the
maid knew Jeremiah better than Mr. Dry, and demurred to receiving any
guest during her master's absence.

When the worthy gentleman had finished his conversation, and made up
his mind that he must seek an inn, he turned round to remount his
horse, and was somewhat surprised to see Arrah Neil gazing round her
with a degree of light and even wonder in her look, for which he
perceived no apparent cause. The street was a dull and dingy one; most
of the houses were of wood, with the gables turned towards the road;
and from the opposite side projected a long pole, from which swung a
square piece of wood representing, in very rough and rude style, the
figure of a swan the size of life. Yet over the dark and time-stained
face of the buildings, up the line of narrow street, round the windows
and doors carved with quaint figures, ran the beautiful eyes of Arrah
Neil, with a look of eager satisfaction which Ezekiel Dry could in no
degree account for. They rested principally upon the figure of the
swan, however, and as that emblem showed that it was a house of public
entertainment, thither Mr. Dry turned the horses' heads, and bade her
alight at the door.

Arrah sprang to the ground in a moment, and entered the house with an
alacrity which Mr. Dry had never seen her before display. Something
appeared to have enchanted her, for she almost outran the hostess, who
led the way, saying, "This way, pretty lady--this way, sir." But when
she stopped at a door in a long open corridor, Arrah Neil actually
passed her, exclaiming--

"No, not that room; I should prefer this;" and, without waiting for an
answer, she opened the door and went in.

"Dear lady, you seem to know the house quite well," said the hostess;
"but yet I do not recollect having seen your pretty face before."

"Talk not of such vanities," said Mr. Dry, with a solemn tone; "what
is beauty but the dust, and fair flesh but as a clod of clay?"

"Well, I am sure!" said the landlady, who was what Mr. Dry would have
called a carnal and self-seeking person, but a very good woman
notwithstanding. "Ah, sir! what you say is very true; we are all
nothing but clods of earth; there can be no doubt of it: it's very
true indeed."

Finding her so far docile, Mr. Dry determined to make a still greater
impression, in order to ensure that his object of keeping Arrah Neil
within his grasp should not be frustrated by the collusion of the
landlady. He therefore set to work, and held forth to her upon
godliness, and grace, and self-denyingness, and other Christian
virtues; touching a little upon original sin, predestination,
election, and other simple and easy subjects, with a degree of
clearness and perspicuity such as might be expected from his original
station and means of information. The landlady was confounded and
puzzled; but it was utterly impossible to tell what he really meant by
the unconnected images, quotations, and dogmas which he pronounced;
she was unconvinced of anything but of his being a vehement Puritan,
which she herself was not.

However, as it did not do to offend a customer, she shook her head and
looked sad, and cried from time to time, "Ah, very true! God help us,
poor sinners that we are!" with sundry other exclamations, which,
though they did not convince Mr. Dry that she had not a strong
hankering for the fleshpots of Egypt and the abominations of the
Amorites, yet showed him that she was very well inclined to please
him, and made him believe that she would fulfil his bidding to the
letter.

He accordingly called her out of the room as soon as he thought he had
produced his effect, and explaining to her what he pleased to call the
situation of his poor ward, he warned her particularly to keep the
door locked upon her, to suffer no one to hold communication with her,
and especially to prevent her from getting out, for fear she should
throw herself into the water or make away with herself, which he
represented to be not at all unlikely.

The hostess assured him that she was deeply grieved to hear the young
lady's case. She could not have believed it, she said, she looked so
sensible and cheerful.

"Ah!" replied Mr. Dry, "you will see her dull enough soon. It comes
upon her by fits: but you must attend very punctually to my orders, or
something may take place for which you will weep in sackcloth and
ashes."

"Oh, sir, I will attend to them most particularly," said the landlady.
"What will you please to order for dinner, sir? Had not I better put
the lady down a round-pointed knife? Is she dangerous with her hands?"

"Oh, no," answered Mr. Dry. "It is to herself, not to others, she is
dangerous. And as for dinner, send up anything you have got,
especially if it be high-flavoured and relishing, for I have but a
poor appetite. I will be back in about an hour; and, in the mean time,
can you tell me where in this town lives one Hugh O'Donnell, an
Irishman, I believe?"

The landlady paused and considered, and then replied that she really
could not tell; she knew of such a person being in the place, and
believed he lived somewhere at the west of the town, but she was not
by any means sure.

The moment Mr. Dry was gone, the good woman called to the cook, and
ordered a very substantial dinner for the party which had just
arrived; but then, putting her hand before her eyes, she stood for the
space of a minute and a half in the centre of the tap-room, as if in
consideration; then said, "I won't tell him anything about it: there
is something strange in this affair; I am not a woman if I don't find
it out." She then hurried up to the room where she had left Arrah
Neil, unlocked the door, and went in.

The poor girl was leaning on the sill of the open window, gazing up
and down the street. Her face was clear and bright; her beautiful blue
eyes were full of intellect and fire; the look of doubt and inward
thought was gone; a change had come over her, complete and
extraordinary. It seemed as if she had awakened from a dream.

When the landlady entered, Arrah immediately turned from the window
and advanced towards her. Then, laying her hand upon her arm, she
gazed in her face for a moment so intently that the poor woman began
to be alarmed.

"I am sure I recollect you," said Arrah Neil. "Have you not been here
long?"

"For twenty years," replied the hostess; "and for five-and-twenty
before that in the house next door, from which I married into this."

"And don't you recollect me?" asked Arrah Neil.

"No," replied the landlady, "I do not; though I think I have seen some
one very like you before, but then it was a taller lady--much taller."

"So she was," cried Arrah Neil. "What was her name?"

"Nay, I can't tell, if you can't," replied the landlady.

"I know what I called her, but I know nothing more," answered Arrah
Neil. "I called her mother--and perhaps she was my mother. I called
her mother as I lay in that bed, with my head aching, my eyes burning,
and my lips parched; and then I fell into a long deep sleep, from
which I awoke forgetting all that went before, and she was gone."

"Ay!" cried the landlady; "and are you that poor little thing?" and
she gazed upon her for a moment with a look of sad, deep interest. The
next instant she cast her arms round her and kissed her tenderly. "Ah,
poor child!" she said at length, with tears in her eyes, "those were
sad times--sad times, indeed! 'Twas when the fever was raging the
country. Sad work in such days for those who lodged strangers! It cost
me my only one. A man came and slept in that bed; he looked ill when
he came, and worse when he went. Then came a lady and a child, and an
old man, their servant, and the house was full, all but this room and
another; and ere they had been here long, my own dear child was taken
with the fever. She was near your own age, perhaps a year older; and I
told the lady overnight, so she said she would go on the morrow, for
she was afraid for her darling. But before the morning came, you too
were shaking like a willow in the wind, and then came on the burning
fit, and the third day you began to rave, and knew no one. The fifth
day my poor girl died, and for a whole day I did not see you; I saw
nothing but my dead child. On the next, however, they came to tell me
the lady had fallen ill, and I came to watch you, for it seemed to me
as if there was something between you and my poor Lucy--I knew not
what; you had been sisters in sickness, and I thought you might be
sisters in the grave. I cannot help crying when I think of it. Oh,
those were terrible days!" And the poor woman wiped her eyes.

"But my mother?" cried Arrah Neil--"my mother?"

"Some day I will show you where she lies," answered the hostess; and
Arrah wept bitterly, for a hope was crushed out to its last spark.

"She got worse and worse," continued the landlady; "and she too lost
her senses; but just as you were slowly getting a little better she
suddenly regained her mind; and I was so glad, for I thought she would
recover too; but the first words she spoke were to ask after you. So I
told her you were much better, and all she said was, 'I should wish to
see her once more before I die, if it may be done without harming
her;' and then I knew that she was going. I and the old servant
carried you, just as you were, and laid you on her bed, and she kissed
you, and prayed God to bless and keep you; but you were weak and dozy,
and she would not have you wakened, but made us take you back; and
then she spoke long with the old man in a whisper; but all I heard
was, 'You promise, Neil?--you promise on your salvation?' He did
promise--though I did not know what it was. Then she said, 'Recollect,
you must never tell her unless it be recovered.' Recovered she said,
or reversed, I remember not well which; but from that moment she said
nothing more but to ask for some water, and so she went on till the
next morning, just as the day was dawning, and then she departed."

A short space passed in silent tears on the part of Arrah Neil, while
the good woman who told the tale remained gazing forth from the
window; but at length she continued: "Before you could run across the
floor again, nay husband died, but with him it was very quick. He was
but three days between health and death; and when I had a little
recovered I used foolishly to wish that you could stay with me, and be
like my poor Lucy; but you were a lady and I was a poor woman, so that
could not be; and in about six weeks the old man paid all that was
owing, and took you away. It is strange to think that you should be
the same pretty child that lay there sick near ten years ago."

"It is as strange to me as to you," said Arrah Neil; "for, as I tell
you, I seemed to fall into a deep sleep, and for a time I forgot all;
but since then all the things which occurred before that time have
troubled me sadly. It seemed as if I had had a dream, and I recollect
a castle on a hill, and riding with a tall gentleman, who was on a
great black horse, while I had a tiny thing, milk-white; and I
remember many servants and maids--oh! and many things I have never
seen since; but I could not tell whether it was real or a mere fancy,
till I came into this town and saw the street which I used to look at
from the window, and the sign of the house that I used to watch as it
swung to and fro in the wind. Then I was sure it was real; and your
face, too, brought a thousand things back to me; and when I saw the
room where I had been, I felt inclined to weep, I knew not why. Well,
well may I weep!"

"But who is this old man who is with you?" asked the landlady,
suddenly. "He is not the old servant, who was as aged then as he is
now; and what is this tale he tells of your being his ward, and mad?"

"Mad!" cried Arrah Neil--"mad! Oh, no! 'Tis he that is wicked, not I
that am mad. He and another dragged me away from those who protected
me and were good to me--kind Annie Walton, and that noble lord her
brother--while they were fighting on the moors beyond Coventry. I his
ward! He has no more right to keep me from my friends than the merest
stranger. He is a base, bad man--a hypocrite--a cheat. What he wants,
what he wishes, I know not; but he had my poor old grandfather dragged
away to prison, and he died by the road."

"Your grandfather!" said the widow; "What was his name?"

"Neil," answered the poor girl; "that was the name he always went by."

"Why, that was the old servant," said the hostess. "He had been a
soldier, and fought in many battles. I have heard him tell it often.
But this man--this man has some object, young lady. He knows more of
you than perhaps you think. He told me that you were mad, and his
ward; but he knew not that you had a friend so near at hand, who,
though she be a poor, humble woman--Hark! there are people speaking at
the door. 'Tis he, I dare say. Say not a word to him, and we will talk
more by-and-by. Do not be afraid--he shall not take you away again so
easily, if there be yet law in the land. But he must not find me with
you;" and, thus saying, she opened the door, and lei the room.



                             CHAPTER XIV.


The landlady paused for a moment at the door, laid her finger upon her
brow, thought for a minute or two, and then, having settled her whole
plan to her own satisfaction, descended to the door, at which Mr. Dry,
of Longsoaken, was making sundry inquiries regarding the personage for
whose address he had, in the first place, applied to herself, and whom
he evidently had not found out in his perambulations through the town.
A part of what he said was heard by the hostess as she descended, so
that she had a clue to what was going on, and, advancing towards him
with a low, smart curtsey, she said--

"The dinner's quite ready, sir; and I have been thinking since you
were gone, that I shall be able to-morrow morning to get you the
address of the gentleman you wanted, for a man will be here with eggs
who used to supply him, I know."

Mr. Dry looked up with a well-satisfied air, saying, "That is
providential, Mistress Green."

"White, sir, White," said the landlady, dropping another curtsey; "my
name is White, not Green--a different colour, sir; but it all comes to
the same thing. Shall I call the young lady to dinner? It is in this
room, sir."

"I will go myself, Mistress White," said Dry; and he was advancing
towards the stairs, when the landlady, in; low and confidential
whisper, added--

"Poor thing! she is very wild indeed. I went up just now to see if she
wanted anything; and she is quite astray, thinking that she was here
not long ago, and fancying that she knows all about the place. It's a
sad thing to see; poor creature in such a state."

"Alack! alack! and so it is," rejoined Mr. Dry; "but it's God's will,
Mrs. White, and so we must submit."

"Ah, sir! that's very true," answered the good hostess; "but yet one
can't help pitying the poor girl. You are sure she is not dangerous,
sir?"

"Quite sure," answered Mr. Dry: "It is only to herself. But if she
were left alone to do what she will, I would not answer for it that
you would not very soon find her in the Humber."

"Oh she must be looked to, sir--she must be looked to," replied the
landlady. "Those are sad, dangerous cases. I remember right well when
Jonathan Birkett, at Burton--he was my husband's second cousin, poor
dear man--went mad, and hanged himself----"

"I will hear that story after dinner," said Dry in return, pushing
past her, and opening the door of the room in which Arrah Neil was
seated. But the good landlady had gained her point, having fully
convinced Mr. Dry that she believed the poor girl whom he had brought
thither to be perfectly insane; and her manner during the meal, which
followed immediately after, served to confirm the worthy gentleman in
that supposition, without at all inducing Arrah herself to imagine
that her new friend had any doubt of her sanity.

Though the days had gone by when, as a universal custom, the landlord
and his guest sat down together at the same table, and when, if the
traveller presented himself at any other hours than those of the
host's own meals, he was likely to remain hungry till the master of
the house chose to eat, yet in all cases he who supplied the fare, and
he who received it, were still much more intimately mixed up at meal
times than in the present day, when the duties of the hostly office
are done by deputy; and the landlord is intent upon any other cares
than hospitable ones.

In the present instance, good Mrs. White remained in the room with her
maid, who acted the important part of waiter, and ever and anon she
meddled busily with the dishes, commended the viands to her guests,
vaunted the excellence of the ale, strong waters, and wine, which her
house afforded, and when not thus employed upon matters connected with
her own immediate vocation, took part in the conversation of those who
sat at table, with great freedom and satisfaction.

Towards Arrah Neil her tone was of that tender and kindly character,
which might well be attributed by Mr. Dry to compassion for the mental
affliction under which he had declared her to be suffering, and by the
poor girl herself to interest in her fate and situation. But the good
landlady was all the time busily engaged in watching eagerly the whole
conduct of her male guest, and endeavouring, with all the skill which
is afforded by long dealings with many of our fellow-creatures, to
extract some information from all she saw regarding his intentions and
objects. She perceived that the worthy man of Longsoaken was as tender
upon her whom he called his ward as was consistent with his sanctified
exterior, that he often whispered a word to her with a smile which
contorted his harsh and weazened features into anything but a pleasant
expression, and that he made a point of helping her himself to
everything which he thought dainty; and from these and various other
indications, Mrs. White was led to ask herself, "Does the old
hypocrite seek her for a wife or a paramour?" and she internally
added, "I'll spoil the game for him, that I will."

But, notwithstanding her secret resolutions, the good landlady
remained perfectly civil and attentive to Mr. Dry; and guided by
tokens, which were not to be mistaken by one of her experience, as to
his fondness for certain creature comforts of existence, she at length
produced some clear and brilliant liquid, the produce of the Dutch
still, in a large flat-sided black bottle, and persuaded him to drink
what she called a small glass thereof, though, to say the truth, the
measure was very capacious. When he had drunk it, he set down the
glass again; and looking up in Mrs. White's face, observed--

"It is very good indeed, madam, and may be permitted for the support
of our poor, weak bodies after a long ride in such bleak and
disconsolate weather."

"Take another glass, sir," said the hostess, who stood at the end of
the table with the bottle still in her hand.

"On no account--on no account, Mistress White," replied her guest; "We
may use such things discreetly, but by no means go into excess. I
would not for the world--don't talk of it."

There are two ways, however, of understanding that same injunction,
"don't talk of it," which those who have been accustomed to read the
book of human nature find no great difficulty in applying properly;
and in this instance, as in manner others, Mrs. White saw that it
meant "Don't talk of it; but do it without talking," and therefore
replying, "Oh, sir, it's very weak: it's so old, 'tis scarcely
stronger than water," she poured the glass full, as it stood at Mr.
Dry's elbow, while he turned round to say something to Arrah Neil on
his other side.

The worthy gentleman took not the slightest notice of this proceeding;
but looking up in Mrs. White's face, he said--

"And so you think, ma'am, that you will be able to get me Master Hugh
O'Donnell's right address by to-morrow morning?"

"I am certain of it," replied the landlady, who thought there was no
great harm in a little confidence, whatever might be the result.

Arrah Neil looked down in silent thought, and then raised her large,
bright eyes with an inquiring look in the landlady's face; while Mr.
Dry, as if in a fit of absentness, took up the glass, and sipped
nearly one half of the contents before he recollected what he was
about. He then, however, set it down suddenly, and inquired--

"Pray, can you tell me if Mr. Twigg the drysalter is now in Hull? A
God-fearing and saintly man, Mrs. White, who used to hold forth to the
edification of a flock that was wont to assemble at the tabernacle in
Backwater alley."

"Oh, dear! yes, sir, he is in Hull," replied Mrs. White. "I saw the
good gentleman only yesterday."

"Then I will go and visit him presently," answered Mr. Dry.
"Humble-minded folks may always profit much of godly conversation; and
to do him but justice, he is always ready to use his spiritual gifts
for the benefit of others."

Thus speaking, Mr. Dry, after contemplating the glass for a moment,
seemed to come to the conclusion that there was no use of leaving in
it the little that remained. He accordingly tossed it off with a
sudden motion of the hand, and then set it resolutely down upon the
table again, as if defying the landlady, the Hollands, or the devil,
to tempt him to take another drop.

The fiend and women, however have generally more than one way of
accomplishing their object, and consequently Mrs. White, after having
pronounced a eulogium on the graces of Mr. Twigg, and his friend
Master Theophilus Longbone, the hemp-merchant, who was likewise an
acquaintance of her guest's, she set down the bottle carelessly by Mr.
Dry's side, and retired into a little room, with a glass window
towards the passage, so constructed as to afford a view of the door of
the house, with those of the chambers on the ground floor, and also of
the foot of the stairs.

Here she remained for about half-an-hour, while sundry persons came in
and out, spoke to her or to some of her attendant satellites, paid
money, received change, brought in goods for sale, amongst which it
may be as well to record six pairs of very fine pigeons in a basket,
or applied for small quantities of cordials, which sometimes they
drank upon the spot, sometimes carried away in phials.

At length the door of the room in which Mr. Dry had eaten his dinner
opened, and that worthy gentleman appeared, holding Arrah Neil by the
arm, and looking at her with a somewhat inflamed and angry
countenance, from which Mrs. White augured that he was about to say
something harsh and bitter to his fair companion. She prepared
accordingly to interfere, fully resolved to protect the poor girl at
all risks, even if she were obliged to call in the aid of the
magistrates, town-council, and governor himself; although, to say the
truth, she had no great love or reverence for any of the party now
dominant in Hull.

Dr. Dry, however, uttered not a word, but led his poor victim up to
her chamber--made her go in--and, locking the door, took out the key.
Mrs. White smiled, as with quick ears she heard the various steps of
this process, but sat quite still at what we should now call the bar,
and marked the movements of Mr. Dry, as he descended and stood for a
moment in the passage--those movements being somewhat peculiar, and
indicating an internal perturbation of some sort. His back, indeed,
was turned towards the worthy hostess, as he looked out of the door
leading into the street; but she perceived that, with his feet
somewhat apart, he first rested on his heels, then upon the soles,
then upon his heels again, his body gently swaying backwards and
forwards, and his hands in his breeches-pockets. Mrs. White had seen
such oscillations before in other men; and, when Mr. Dry made up his
mind to the course he was to pursue, and walked straight out into the
street, she herself hastened into the eating-room, where the first
object that she examined was the black bottle, which being held up to
the light, exhibited a deficiency of at least one-half.

"Ay, the beast is well nigh drunk," said Mrs. White, speaking to
herself; "but that's a small matter, if he does no more than get tipsy
now and then. I'll warrant he'll be in a fine state when he comes home
from Master Twigg's. He's just such another as himself; and they sit
there, and drink, and cant, till they all go home crying or
quarrelling, as if they were the most unhappy men in the world. Well,
religion is a good thing in its way, and drink is a good thing; but
they don't do mixed, any how."

Thus saying, she carried off the black bottle, placed it in its own
peculiar receptacle, and then calling a girl whom she named Nancy to
take her place in the bar, she walked quietly up to the room of Arrah
Neil. It maybe recollected by the reader that Mr. Dry had carefully
locked the door, and put the key in his pocket; but Mrs. White was not
a person to be frustrated by such a simple proceeding, for putting her
hand to her girdle, from which hung a ponderous bunch of variously
formed pieces of iron, she selected one from the rest, which being
insinuated into the key-hole, instantly turned the lock, and gave her
admission to the chamber without the slightest difficulty.

Arrah Neil started up with a look of joy, brushing away some drops
that had gathered in her eyes, and exclaiming, "Oh, I am so glad!"

"What, poor soul," cried Mrs. White! "you thought he had shut you up
so that nobody could get to you. But I am not such a fool as to be
without a master-key in my own house, so that if any other be lost I
can always open a door. What has the old man been saying to you, my
dear, and what made him look so cross?"

"Oh!" cried Arrah Neil, "he has been saying things I do not
understand; and then he asked if I would marry him, and said, that if
I would, I should have all his money at his death; but I told him,
that if he had all the wealth in the world, I would sooner die."

"Ay, that's what made him cross," cried the landlady. "Men do not like
such words as that, my dear. However, you did very right, for the
sooner you let the old hypocrite know your mind, the better. He's a
deep old villain, though, or I am mistaken. I saw you looked at me
when he mentioned Hugh O'Donnell. Do you know any thing about him? Do
you recollect the name?"

"Yes, I do," replied Arrah Neil. "I am sure I have heard it often; but
it must be long ago.--Who is he?--What is he?"

"Nay, that I can't tell," answered Mrs. White. "I recollect him here,
I think, in my husband's time; and I have seen him once or twice
about, since then, in the streets of the town, and in the market. But
I know nothing of him, except that he is a good sort of man, I
believe. One sees such a number of people in a town like this! He's
got a ship, I believe, and trades to Ireland."

"To Ireland," said Arrah Neil. And then suddenly breaking off, she
added, "I wish I could get away. Cannot you let me out while he's
gone?"

"Oh, that I can, my pretty lady," answered the hostess; "and you shall
go away whenever you like. I won't stop you. But, I think, it will be
a great deal better for you to stay a while, and see what all this
comes to. We may find out something that may clear up the whole
business; and, besides, what would you do if you were away? Without
money you would be in a sad plight, and, I dare say, he does not let
you have any in your pocket?"

"I have two crown-pieces," replied Arrah Neil; "and with that I am
sure I could get to Annie Walton and her brother."

The widow shook her head with a sad smile. "'Tis a small sum to begin
the world with," she said, "and all alone. Besides, they might
overtake you. No, no, poor thing, leave it to me to settle some plan
for you. I will answer for it, he shall not take you away from here,
let him do what he will; and in the mean time I will set my wits to
work to find out the whole of this story. But now let me hear who is
this Annie Walton and her brother? Come, sit down by me, and tell me
all you can recollect since the times we were talking of this morning.
It may help me to find out the rest, and that's the great point."

Arrah Neil mused; not that she had any hesitation in relating to her
companion all that her own memory served to recall, for it is not
those who have had few friends that are suspicious, but those who have
had friends that have proved false. She had too rarely met with the
voice of kindness and sympathy not to yield her ear to it willingly,
especially when it came from one who was linked to the sad, but
sweet recollections of the past. She had lived so long in a dream,
however--a dream from which nothing but the most important scenes and
figures had stood forth in full light--that much was confused and
indistinct; and she felt that she could but relate it as it presented
itself to remembrance, might afford but a faint and misty image to a
stranger. It was with the good widow's first question, then, that she
commenced making her reply. "Annie Walton!" she said; "I wonder you
have never heard of her, she is so kind and so good; every one knows
her by her bounties."

"Ay, but if I understand right, my poor young lady, she lives a long
way off on the other side of Coventry," replied the hostess; "and
while wicked doings travel on horseback, the report of good ones
trudges afoot. Like the waggoner's cart, it may be richly loaded, but
is long a-coming."

"Well, then," answered Arrah Neil, "she is Lord Walton's daughter,
sister of kind Charles Walton, who is now lord. The old man died two
years ago, and the lady long before that. However, they have always
been good to me, and to my poor old grandfather, ever since we went to
live at Bishop's Merton. 'Tis a long while ago now; and between the
time when I was here and the days I first recollect there, there seems
a sort of gap, as if we had lived somewhere else. But I remember well
our first arriving there, and going with my grandfather to look at two
or three cottages, till at length he chose one just out of the town,
upon the green, by the old church."

"Were you then quite alone with him as you went from Hull?" asked the
landlady.

"Quite," answered Arrah Neil. "There was no one with us, and we lived
there quite alone; and all the morning my grandfather used to teach me
all he knew, and to make me read and write many an hour, and copy
things out of books, and explain to me about different countries. I
often thought it wearisome, for it used to keep me from thinking of
things that were past, and from trying to bring back to mind people
and places that seemed to cross my sight in haste, and disappear again
like the motes that we see in the sunshine, which are lost as soon as
they get into the shade. But he was a good, kind old man, and
everybody loved him. The boys used to gather round him on the green at
evening close, and listen to the stories he used to tell of the wars
in Ireland; and Lord Walton, from whom he hired the cottage, was very
kind too, and often used to stop and talk with him as he went by; and
Charles, the young lord, and Miss Walton did the same. I used very
often to go up to the house, too, and spent many a happy day there,
though I sometimes fancy that, on account of my strange ways, and
because I often fell into fits of thought, they believed I was
somewhat weak in mind; but, if I could have seen this house, it would
have soon brought my brain right. But, as I was saying, they were
always very kind to me; and Charles Walton would spend many an hour at
the cottage and listen to my grandfather's tales."

"Ay," said the hostess, "he was an old soldier, but he did not
understand all the arts of war."

Arrah Neil looked up in her face with an inquiring air, but good Mrs.
White only shook her head, and the poor girl proceeded. "Charles
Walton was away in strange countries for a long time, and then again
he went to the wars; but whenever he came back he used to visit us,
though he grew graver and more thoughtful as he became older than he
was when he was a youth and I was a child; and I began to feel
somewhat afraid of him--no, not afraid, for he was always kind Charles
Walton to me, but I felt timid when he spoke to me. However, his
father died, and he became lord of all the country round, and he had
much to do and was often away. About that time, this man, who is now
here in Hull, began to come sometimes to the house, but my grandfather
could not bear him; and though he treated him civilly, because he was
now in great power in the little town, and every one seemed to do just
as he bade him, and all were afraid of him, yet he was always cold and
distant to him. One day, however, this Ezekiel Dry came in while he
was out, and he took me by the hand and began to say things I did not
understand, as he did to-night, and I tried to go away, but he would
not let me. Just then my grandfather came in, and immediately there
were high and threatening words; and my grandfather struck him with
the staff he carried, and knocked him down upon the ground; then,
taking him by the arms, he cast him out of the cottage like a dog.
After that he did not come again for many months; and in the winter my
poor old grandfather was taken ill, and remained ever after feeble and
sickly; and when he used to hear of the doings of the parliament
against the king it always made him worse, and he used to speak rash
words, I fear. Once or twice he wrote letters, and sent them off by a
man that sometimes came to see him, and he received answers too, which
he burned as soon as he had read them. So it went on, till one day
this summer the man Dry came with a number of soldiers, when my
grandfather was very ill in bed, and said they had a warrant against
him as a malignant who was plotting treason against the parliament,
and they dragged him away in spite of all I could say, though I told
them it would kill him. Lord Walton was absent then, and Dry would
fain have prevented me from going with my grandfather; but one of the
soldiers was kinder than the rest, and said I should go to tend the
poor old man. They put us in a cart and carried us along, and day by
day he grew weaker, till at length at Devizes he died. Before his
death, however, just when his eyes were turning dim, he whispered to
me, 'Go back quick to the cottage, Arrah, and in the back room behind
the bed, you will find a bundle of letters and other things, which
will tell you all about yourself--I cannot;' and he said no more."

"Did you find them? did you find them?" cried the landlady, eagerly.

"No," answered Arrah Neil, "for when I got back to the cottage it had
been stripped of everything, and I, too, had been robbed of all I had
taken with me by the soldiers on the road. One of them said that my
gown was pretty, and he would have it for his wife; so I gave it to
him for fear he should take it by force."

The good hostess had mused, paying little attention to the last few
words, but at length she exclaimed, "He has got them, young lady. He
has got those letters, depend upon it; ay, and he knows more of you
than any of us. You must find means to get them back again; that is
the only thing to be done."

"Alas! how can I?" cried poor Arrah Neil. "I am a mere prisoner, and
unable to do anything for myself. Oh, if I could but escape, I should
be content!"

"Nay, nay, be not so impatient!" said Mrs. White; "you shall escape in
good time--I give you my word for that; but let us first find out all
that we can, for I have a notion that your fortunes are better than
they look, or else this man would not be so eager to keep you in his
hands. You were no grand-daughter of old Sergeant Neil's--that I can
tell you, and you may turn out a great lady after all. I am sure your
poor mother looked and spoke like one of the best of the land, and I
do not see why you should not have your rights as well as another."

"A great lady!" said Arrah Neil, in a musing tone, and with a
melancholy shake of the head: "there is but one reason why I should
like to be a great lady, and that is--to show my gratitude to those
who have been kind to me."

"And a good reason, too," replied the landlady. "So you must not miss
your chance, my dear."

"Dame White! Dame White!" cried a voice from below.

"Hark! they are calling me," said the hostess; and opening the door,
she exclaimed, "Here am I; what do you want with me, Nancy?"

"Here are a heap of folks want to see you directly," screamed Nancy
from the bottom of the stairs.

"I must go, my dear," said the widow, turning to Arrah Neil, "but I
will be back with you directly;" and thus saying she left her.

But poor Arrah was disappointed in regard to the length of her
absence, for more than an hour passed, and the door gave admission to
no friendly face.



                             CHAPTER XV.


We must now, dear reader, turn to other scenes and personages, and
pause, somewhat long perhaps, ere we resume the actual history Of poor
Arrah Neil; for those voices that were heard below, as we mentioned at
the end of the first volume, and the long absence of the landlady,
though they may seem simple enough, yet require some longer comment
than appears necessary at first sight, and are not unconnected either
with the past or future portions of this history.

There is upon the Yorkshire coast, somewhat to the south of
Flamborough Head, a small, retired bay, not above a quarter of a mile
broad, but deep in relation to the width; for the distance from each
of the projecting headlands by which it is formed, to the innermost
part of the bay, is nearly three-quarters of a mile. This little
natural haven is furnished with a sandy shore, and surrounded by steep
rocks at all points but that where it is united with the ocean and at
the mouth of a short narrow valley, which leads with a rapid ascent to
the tops of the cliff's above. Were it not that it is so difficult of
access from the land side, and that the water therein is somewhat
shallow, it might form an excellent port, sheltered from almost all
winds. But these circumstances have rendered it less frequented than
it might be; and though a few boatmen's cottages are now built upon
the shore, it is but little known, and at the time I speak of, was
without any vestige of human habitation, and rarely trodden by the
foot of man.

At about three o'clock, however, of an autumnal night, a boat might be
dimly discovered lying on the sandy shore, the tide being then at ebb.
In it were four men apparently sailors, two of whom were stretched
sound asleep in the stern, whilst two sat talking together in low
tones on the gunwale of the boat, supplying the intervals of
conversation by manifold potent whiffs of the meditative pipe.

As neither the topics they discussed, nor the language that they used,
would be either pleasant or edifying to the reader, we shall not pause
upon their discourse, but leave them smoking and talking on, to follow
two horsemen down from the entrance of the valley, as, at a slow and
cautious pace, they were guided on by a youth some fifteen or sixteen
years of age, who, in the hope of a proportionate recompense, took
care to point out to them the various obstacles that lay in the way.
Now it was a mass of rock, now a large fissure, now a sudden descent.
now the course of the little brawling stream, somewhat swelled by the
rain which had fallen in the early part of the night.

But all these difficulties were at length overcome, though the one
said to the other, that it put him in mind of the Pass of
Roncesvalles, and the other replied, "As much like Roncesvalles, my
good friend, as a Cheshire cheese is to the Peak of Derby. But, pray
recollect your taciturnity. It will not do to break out now. There is
the boat, I see;" and advancing over the sand, he spoke a few words to
one of the men who was awake, and who replied with the common and
significant answer made by Englishmen on so many different occasions
of "All's right, sir."

The other man, in the meanwhile, roused up their two companions; and
the horsemen dismounted from their beasts, and put the bridles into
the hand of the youth who had served them as a guide. The one who
appeared to be the principal personage of the party, seemed to add a
piece of money to that which he placed in the lad's palm, saying,
"Mind you lead them back carefully, and he will give you the same when
you deliver the horses to him in good condition."

The young man thanked him warmly, and promised all manner of care. The
two cavaliers having placed themselves in the stern of the boat, it
was easily pushed off into the sea, which was there calm and tranquil;
and the sailors springing in, took to their oars, and pulled away
towards the mouth of the bay.

Speedily the little boat began to show that all was not quite so
smooth beyond the point; tossing up and down as they approached the
open sea, and labouring with the eddies produced by the contending
wind and tide amongst the scattered rocks which stood out from the
headland. When they had once issued forth upon the bosom of the wide
ocean, they found a heavy sea running, and the wind directly contrary
to the course they wished to steer, so that but little way was made,
notwithstanding the sturdy strokes of the rowers, and day began to
dawn before they were a mile from the bay.

The first light of the morning showed them, what they had not before
perceived, a small cutter lying at anchor, still at the distance of a
mile and a half or two miles; and as they appeared likely to be some
hours before they reached her, the one gentleman whispered to the
other, "Let us give these poor fellows some relief, Barecolt. You take
one oar, and I can take another, and then those who rest can relieve
the other two after a while."

"With all my heart, mon colonel," replied Captain Barecolt, "though
this water work is neither your trade nor mine."

The proposal of Lord Beverley was soon propounded to the men, and
gladly enough adopted; but still a considerable time elapsed before
they reached the little cutter, which hoisted sail and put to sea as
soon as they were on board.

The morning was fair, with a strong wind blowing, not the most
favourable that could be conceived for the course which they were
destined to pursue, but still not directly contrary, and they made
their way slowly on through the dashing billows, at the rate of some
or three or four miles in the hour. Lord Beverley and his companion,
Barecolt, walked the deck, speaking little to each other, or to the
rest, and the peer keeping a watchful eye upon the loquacious captain,
to make sure that he did not give way to his talkative propensities in
favour of the skipper, or any of the mariners of the ship.

It was evident that the two passengers were perfectly unknown to their
shipmates, both from the manner in which the latter examined them when
they came on board, and from the fact of Lord Beverley, whenever he
did speak, conversing with Barecolt in French, and addressing the
master of the vessel in broken English. The persons of the two
gentlemen also were disguised, as far as mere clothing went. Barecolt,
for his part, was dressed in a sober-coloured grey suit, with a buff
belt, and a black hat and feather. The whole was in very good keeping,
except in respect of certain red ribbons, which his taste or finery
could not forbear from applying to various parts of his dress; and he
might have well passed for a respectable French citizen, somewhat
given to the juice of the grape, and not very affluent in his
circumstances.

Tire earl was habited more richly, but in a very different style from
that of an English cavalier; and although the pointed beard was still
in fashion in England, he had sacrificed that ornament of the human
countenance to bring himself to the likeness of certain young French
nobles, who, at that time, were labouring zealously to exclude beards
from fashionable society; and who had so far succeeded, that not long
after, one of the old French court, who adhered to the custom of
nature and his ancestors, was known by the name of "the man with the
beard." This change had made a very great difference in his
appearance, which he had increased by dyeing his hair and moustache of
a darker hue, so that none but those who knew him intimately would
have recognised him without very close inspection.

After sailing on for about two hours, making their way slowly from the
English coast, which, however, was still seen rising in long lines
above the waters, a large vessel was perceived bearing direct towards
them, with all sails set, while a fleet, apparently of fishing-boats,
were coming upon the other tack.

The master of the schooner seemed to pay but little attention to
either; but Lord Beverley felt some anxiety, and not a little
impatience, to ascertain the character of the large vessel, as a ship
named the "Good Hope," laden with ammunition, money, and stores, had
been daily expected on the coast for the last fortnight, and he had
been directed by the king to instruct the officers on board, if he met
her on his passage, on no account to trust themselves in Hull, the
governor of which had openly declared for the parliament. The master,
however, continued to walk up and down the opposite side of the deck,
merely giving a casual glance to the other vessel, till the earl
crossed over and inquired if he knew the ship that was approaching.

"She is a king's ship," replied the man, with a sort of dull
taciturnity, which sailors sometimes affect towards landsmen,
especially if they are of a different nation.

"But is it the Good Hope?" demanded the earl. "If so, I am commanded
to board her."

"It looks like her," replied the captain, continuing his walk; "but we
shall soon know, and then you can do as you like."

Ere many minutes were over the captain pronounced the vessel to
be the "Good Hope;" and as they approached somewhat nearer, a signal
was made, upon which the cutter brought to, and the boat being
lowered--the only one which she possessed--the earl proceeded to the
other ship, taking with him our good friend Captain Barecolt, rather
(to use a familiar expression) to keep him out of harm's way than for
the pleasure of his society.

Although signals had been made and answered, it was evident that the
people on board the large vessel viewed the approach of the little
boat with some suspicion, believing, as the earl found, that the
object was but to detain them till some larger force arrived. There
were several persons at the gangway, watching eagerly the approach of
the visiters, and not a little puzzled did they appear by the
appearance of the earl and his companion, when the boat ran alongside.
The earl looked up and smiled, for he recognised not a few of those
who stood upon the deck above as personal acquaintances of his own,
and faithful servants of the king.

With a slow step, however, and a grave face, he climbed the vessel's
side; but when once he stood upon the deck, removed from the eyes and
ears of the boatmen, he stretched out a hand to two gentlemen, who
stood on either side, saying--

"Welcome, Pollard!--welcome, Berkeley! You have been long looked for."

"By my life, the Earl of Beverley!" cried Colonel Ashburnham, who
stood beyond. "Why, oons, man! who would have known you in that black
wig?"

"My own hair, I assure you," replied the earl. "Do not libel it,
Ashburnham; there is not a hair on my head that is false. But I can
stay only a moment, for I am bound for France on the king's service;
and I have it in command to tell you on no account to venture into
Hull. Sir John Hotham holds with the parliament, and, as a new convert
to treason, is likely to make a merit of any violent act. You must
give me your news, however. Tell me what succour you bring to the
king, and what support you find in Holland."

"To France!" said Ashburnham, thoughtfully. "I wish to heaven you
would give me a passage, Beverley; for his majesty can do without me
for a time, and I can serve him better there than here. I was but now
casting about in my mind which way I should get across as soon as I
landed."

"That is easily done," answered the earl. "But you must make haste; I
can stay for no packing; for, to say truth, I love not the look of all
this fleet of boats, some of them well-nigh as big as our cutter
there; and, mark you, there are two large vessels just appearing round
the point."

"Well! I am with you in a moment," replied Colonel Ashburnham; "and as
for news, I will tell you all as we sail along."

Thus saying, he descended for what he called a moment to the cabin,
while the earl remained upon deck, and gathered from the gentlemen who
stood round the tidings that they brought from Holland. The colonel,
however, was somewhat longer than Lord Beverley could have desired, as
he watched with no unreasonable apprehensions the nearer approach of
the boats, and the growing distinctness of three large vessels, as
they came scudding along with a fair wind from the side of Hull.

"Ashburnham! Ashburnham!" he cried at length, approaching the
cabin-stairs, "on my life I can stay no longer. Every minute is full
of danger."

"Here I am!" cried Colonel Ashburnham. "I have been only securing my
papers;" and the moment after he appeared on the deck, with two large
leathern bags in his hand, which were cast into the boat; and, with a
brief farewell to those on board, and a recommendation to make all
sail, the earl descended the ship's side, followed by his friend. The
sailors were ordered to pull back as fast as possible to the ship;
and, whispering to his new companion to forget him as Lord Beverley,
and merely to know him as a French officer with whom he had casually
become acquainted, the earl introduced Barecolt to him as Captain
Jersval, an officer from Brittany.

Whatever conversation they might have had, if time and opportunity had
served, was cut short by the evident signs of an enemy's approach,
displayed both by the boats and the ships which they had seen. Signals
that the cutter did not understand, and could not answer, were made by
the larger ships; and before the earl and his companion were half-way
from the "Good Hope" to his own vessel, the former was in full sail
away, and a shot was fired across the bows of the latter, as a
notification to lie-to.

The rowers plied their oars with all the vigour and activity which the
necessity of the case required, but it was in vain. Ere they had
reached the ship's side, the master had quietly hauled down his
colours as sign of surrender.

"This is infamous!" cried Ashburnham. "The cowardly vagabond! What's
to become of us now?"

"Faith, we must take our chance," replied the earl; "perhaps we may
prevail upon him yet to make sail. At all events, I must destroy some
letters I have on board; and perchance I may escape unknown, even if I
be taken into Hull; for I do not think that Hotham and I ever met more
than once."

"I have no such luck," answered Ashburnham, "he knows me as an old
enemy--a thing not so easily forgotten as an old friend. But I will
not spoil your fortune, Beverley. Remember, we never met before, mon
colonel, and if this good gentleman would take my advice," he added,
turning to Barecolt, "he would follow the same plan, which is the only
way for safety, depend upon it."

"Oh! I will be strangely ignorant," replied Barecolt; "but I thought I
heard you talk of papers in those bags, sir. The sea is a more quiet
place at the bottom than at the top."

"Right! right!" cried Colonel Ashburnham. "Hand me that
grappling-iron, my man," he continued, speaking to one of the sailors.

The man obeyed; and fastening one of the leathern bags he had brought
with him to the hook of the iron, Colonel Ashburnham pitched them both
into the sea together, just as the boat ran alongside the cutter.



                             CHAPTER XVI.


"In the name of fury, you scoundrel!" exclaimed Colonel Ashburnham,
addressing the captain of the cutter, as soon as they reached the
deck, "what made you strike and reef the sails?"

"Because I couldn't help it," replied the man. "They are to windward
of us, and will be alongside of us in no time. If you come to that,
what made that gentleman stay so long? and who the devil are you who
come to give orders here?"

He added a number of oaths, which are not necessary to be repeated.
But Colonel Ashburnham waved his hand, saying, "Silence, sir! I
thought I was known by everybody who even pretends to serve the king.
I am Colonel Ashburnham, an officer in his service, and I order you,
if there be a chance of getting away, to make sail instantly."

"There is no chance," answered the man.

"No, sir; not now," said a seaman, who stood near; "for nothing is
ready. If we had not reefed the sails indeed----"

"Well, well," said Colonel Ashburnham, "what must be must be. Where
are the Frenchmen?"

"There stands one," said the captain, sullenly, "and the other has
gone down below."

"If you have anything to destroy, sir," said the colonel, addressing
Barecolt in French, "you had better go and do it at once."

"I have nothing on earth, sir," replied Barecolt, "but a score or two
of crowns, a grey doublet, and two shirts--all of which I would sooner
destroy on shore than on the water at any time. I have a grand
objection to that element in every shape and in every quantity, from a
jugful to the Atlantic."

"Your nose vouches for your truth," replied Ashburnham, with a low
bow; for he was a man who, notwithstanding the sterner and more
devoted points of his character, could understand and appreciate a
joke.

"You are right, colonel," replied Barecolt, laying his hand upon his
proboscis. "An honest man never fears to bear a witness of his actions
about with him."

"Had you not better," said Ashburnham, in a lower tone, "go down and
see if you can help your companion?"

"With all my heart," answered Barecolt, "though I think what he is
about he can do without help; but I will go and tell him that the big
black monster there is coming up more like a swallow than a whale, and
that may hasten his proceedings."

Thus saying, he descended into the cabin, but speedily returned,
laughing, and saying in broken English, "He is mortally sea-sick, poor
miserable! I thought he would be so in the boat."

"Ay, it is the motion of the ship lying-to," replied Ashburnham,
aloud; "but on my life, this is a bad affair for me. You two
gentlemen, I dare say, they will let go as strangers, but I am
unfortunately too well known. Here they come, however, and we shall
soon know the worst."

A moment after the headmost ship of the enemy brought-to, and while
the others sailed on after the "Good Hope," a boat was immediately
despatched to take possession of the cutter, and the deck was crowded
in a few minutes with seamen from Hull.

The leader of the party recognised Colonel Ashburnham at once, and
laughed when he saw him, exclaiming, "Ha! ha! we have got something
for our chase, however. Who is there on board besides, colonel?"

"I really cannot tell, sir," answered Colonel Ashburnham, gravely; "I
have just got into this unfortunate vessel from the other ship, and
know nothing of anybody on board but that fellow," and he pointed to
the captain, "who is evidently one of three things."

"What, sir?" exclaimed the captain, looking at him fiercely.

"Fool, coward, or traitor," exclaimed Colonel Ashburnham, calmly.

The man sprang towards him; but the officer of the boat interposed,
exclaiming, "Peace, peace! No quarrelling amongst prisoners. Run down,
run down, some of you, and see who is below. Bring up all the papers,
too, and then put about the ship for Hull."

The men bustled about for a minute or two, executing these orders,
till at length one of them returned up the ladder, carrying some
papers in his hand; and another followed, bearing the portmanteau of
Lord Beverley, and a small leathern pouch or wallet, containing the
worldly goods and chattels of worthy Captain Barecolt. Colonel
Ashburnham's baggage was upon the deck; and with very summary haste
the crew of the parliamentary ship proceeded to examine the contents
of the whole, while Barecolt poured forth a multitude of French
lamentations over what he appeared to think was preliminary to the
plunder of his property.

"There, hold your howling!" cried the officer of the boat. "Nobody is
going to take anything, unless it be the papers."

"I have no papers," cried Barecolt, in broken English, "except that
brown paper round about my crowns; give me the silver, and take the
brown paper if you like."

"There, monsieur! take your crowns, paper, and all," cried the
officer, handing them to him. "We are no robbers in this country. Did
you find any one below?" he continued, addressing the man who brought
the portmanteau.

"Nobody but another poor French lubber, lying upon the floor as sick
as a cat," answered the sailor. "I shook him by the shoulder, and told
him to come up, but I believe he would let me throw him overboard
sooner than budge."

"Ay, let him stay, let him stay!" answered the officer. "I will go
down and see him in a minute. What's in that leather case?"

"Nothing but my clothes, writing materials, and a trifle of money,"
replied Colonel Ashburnham; "and if you wish to examine it, I will beg
you to use the key rather than that marlin-spike, for I don't know
whether the smiths are good in Hull. Here is the key."

While all these operations were going on, the boat's crew had been
busily engaged in navigating the ship towards Hull; and the vessel to
which she had struck, seeing the prize secure, made sail to assist in
the chase of the "Good Hope."

Although the wind was not very favourable, it was sufficiently so to
bring them into the port of Hull just as night was beginning to fall,
and in a few minutes the deck was crowded with officers of the
garrison, and a party of the train-bands of the city--the only force,
indeed, which the parliament had prepared for its defence, the cavalry
which had arrived a short time before having been marched out to other
quarters almost as soon as they entered. Colonel Ashburnham, whose
name was soon noised about, became an object of general attention, and
much lees notice was taken of good Captain Barecolt than that worthy
gentleman imagined he deserved. He consoled himself, however, with the
reflection that the rabble of Hull neither knew him nor the many
wonderful achievements which he had performed, and that it was as well
occasionally to divest one's self of a portion of one's glory, in
order to escape from too close observation.

Lord Beverley passed with as little attention; and an officer who was
sent to state the case to the governor reported, first, that the
famous Colonel Ashburnham was amongst the prisoners, but the other two
were Frenchmen, apparently of no great importance, and one of them so
sick that he could scarcely stand.

"Bring Colonel Ashburnham before me immediately," replied the
governor, "and the Frenchman who is well. He can give us tidings of
himself, and of his companion, too, most likely. Put the other one in
the block-house we strengthened yesterday, till he is well enough to
speak for himself. Let him have whatever is necessary for him, and
mind to keep a sure guard over him."

These orders were immediately obeyed; and while Lord Beverley,
pretending to be still very ill from the effects of his voyage, was
suffered to lie on the cabin-floor till he could be led to a
block-house which had been fortified, near the water-gate of the city,
Colonel Ashburnham and the magnanimous Captain Barecolt were marched
up to the residence of the governor, and speedily introduced to his
presence.

Of Sir John Hotham himself we cannot give a better account, and in all
probability should give a much worse one, than that which has been
furnished by the celebrated historian of the great rebellion:--

"Hotham," says Lord Clarendon, with those remarkable powers of
delineating human character which probably Theophrastus himself
possessed in a very inferior degree, "was by his nature and education
a rough and rude man, of great covetousness, of great pride, and great
ambition, without any bowels of good nature, or the least sense or
touch of generosity. His parts were not quick and sharp, but composed,
and he judged well. He was a man of craft, and more like to deceive
than to be cozened."

Such was the man, according to Lord Clarendon's account, before whom
Colonel Ashburnham was now brought; and there being, as he had said to
the Earl of Beverley, some enmity existing between the family of
Hotham and himself, he might well expect to be treated with very
scanty ceremony and kindness. Nevertheless, to his surprise, he was
received with a good-natured air, and a shake of the hand, Hotham
exclaiming--

"Welcome, colonel! welcome!--though, to say the truth, I wish to
heaven you had not put yourself in the way of our ships, or that the
people had let you go."

"The latter unfortunate case can soon be remedied, Sir John," said
Colonel Ashburnham, "by your doing what they left undone, and letting
me go yourself."

"I fear not, colonel; I fear not," replied Hotham. "We have got some
great rogues here," he added in a lower tone, "who look after me more
sharply than I look after them, otherwise I would let you go at once,
upon my honour, and will do it yet if I can."

"Well, I thank you, Sir John, for the intention, at all events,"
answered Ashburnham; "and it is the more gratifying to me, as I always
had a regard for you, notwithstanding my quarrel with your son, which
you took up so warmly at one time."

"Ah, the knave!" said Hotham; "I have found him out since that time;
and now he has come down here to act as spy and controller against his
own father. But who have you got there? Is he one of your people?"

"Oh, no," answered Ashburnham; "some poor devil of a Frenchman,
seeking service, I believe. I found him and another in that cursed
cutter, when I was fool enough to go aboard. The other has been dead
sick all the way; but I know nothing of them, for we were taken almost
immediately after I got into her;" and he proceeded to explain that he
had been returning to England in the "Good Hope," but judging from
what he heard that the time was not yet quite propitious for his
reappearance, he had sought to make his way back to France or Holland
in the vessel in which he was taken.

"Well, well," said Hotham; "I will lodge you as well as I can, and get
you out of the scrape as soon as I can; but keep out of my son's way,
for he is a vast rogue, and very ill affected to the king. Now, I'll
see what this fellow has to say for himself. Come hither, sir!"

By a rapid and dexterous change of look, Barecolt contrived to make it
appear that he did not at first understand the governor's words, but
comprehended the sign to approach by which they were followed, and,
advancing with a low bow, laid his hand upon his heart, and then stood
upright before Hotham, in what he considered a graceful attitude.

"A tall fellow," said Hotham, turning to Colonel Ashburnham. "Pray,
who may you be, sir?"

"I be von Capitaine Jersval," replied Barecolt, with a low bow; "von
French gentleman who seek to distinguish herself by serving anybody."

"A laudable and elastic ambition," said Ashburnham, turning away.

"By serving anybody?" said Hotham; "pray, Captain Jersval, whom would
you like to serve best?"

"It be to me von matter of de grandest indifference," replied
Barecolt, "so dat de pay and de glory be de same on both sides."

"That's as it may be," answered Hotham; "but the truth is, I want some
good, serviceable officers to help in strengthening the
fortifications."

"I am de man dat can do it," was Barecolt's reply. "I have strengthen
many fortification in my time, amongst de rest Rochelle. But I must
know, monsieur, if dat de pay and de glory be equal; for I came here
to offer service to de king, and not finding her majesty where I
tought, and my money going very fast in dis sacre dear land of
England, where de vine and de meat is all sold at de weight of gold,
and vat you call d--n tough too, I tink to go back again, when your
black sheep catch me, and bring me here, pardieu!"

Ashburnham could not stand it any longer, but turned to a window and
laughed outright. Hotham, however, continued gravely to interrogate
Captain Barecolt in regard to the plans and purposes which brought him
to England; and having satisfied himself completely that he was one of
those adventurous soldiers of whom great numbers were at that time
wandering about Europe, taking service wherever they could find it, he
determined to put his skill to the test before he tried his honesty.
Sending for pen, ink, and paper, together with compasses and a ruler,
he directed Captain Barecolt to draw him out a plan of any little
fortification he thought fit; but Barecolt, who, to tell the truth,
had not altogether misused his advantages, and might have become
almost as great a man as he fancied himself, if it had not been for
his swaggering, drinking, drabbing, and lying propensities, instantly
exclaimed--

"Ah! ça vous verrez--you must see in von meenute;" and taking the
compasses dexterously in hand, he portioned off curtains, and
bastions, and half-moons, and horn-works, and redoubts, and glacis,
and ditches, and salient angles, and every sort of defence that could
be applied to the protection of a town, with a rapidity that somewhat
astounded the slow comprehension of Hotham who soon became convinced
that he had got one of the first engineers in Europe within the walls
of Hull. His exclamation of surprise called Ashburnham to the table,
who, looking over his shoulder, and very willing to do Barecolt a good
turn, exclaimed--

"Upon my soul, the Frenchman seems to understand what he's about!"

"Monsieur, you do flatter me," replied Barecolt, with another low bow.
"I be von poor insignificant man, who have certainly been employed in
de great enterprise, and have pick up some leetle vat you call
spattering of de science, but I cannot be compared to many man."

Hotham, however, was completely taken in; and although he puzzled his
head in vain to recal the name of Captain Jersval amongst the great
men of Europe, yet he thought that, at the least, it was worth his
while to engage him in strengthening the defences of Hull, and
withholding him from the service of the king, till such time as the
parliament should determine whether they would take him regularly into
their employment or not.

I must not be understood, however, to imply that Hotham was in any
degree sincerely attached to the parliamentary party, or wished, or
even expected, that it would be ultimately successful against
the king. But in all troublous times there are a multitude of
waverers--some from weakness, some from ambition--hanging on the
outskirts of a party, lending it inefficient help, and generally
falling in the end, as he did, by their own indecision. Those who are
moved by ambition, like Hotham, ordinarily hope to wring from the
party to which they wish success, that advancement which they could
not otherwise obtain, by giving some countenance to the enemy, and not
unfrequently meet with the just reward of such conduct by being
neglected or punished, when those whom they have aided against their
conscience, for their own purposes, have obtained, a preponderance by
the support of themselves and others like them. Hotham, however,
wishing to make himself of importance, and sell his services dear to
the king, was very much inclined to gather round him men that might
make him formidable; and consequently, after some little deliberation,
he turned to Barecolt, saying--

"Well, Captain Jersval, I think I can get you good service, if you
like; but before I can say anything positive, I must apply to the
higher powers. In the mean time, however, if you like it, I will
employ you upon the fortifications here, at fifteen shillings a day."

"And my victual?" said Barecolt.

"Well," replied Hotham, "I can't exactly give you a place at my own
table, but you shall have a billet upon any victualler in the town you
like, and an order for your supply, chargeable upon the government."

Barecolt again bowed low, saying--

"Monsieur, I am your most devoted. You vill inspect de vork every day,
and vat you say shall not bind you, unless you like vat be done. I am
quite sure of de great success. Den, if de higher power say, ye vill
not have Captain Jeraval, goot; you can pull off your hat and say, Mon
capitaine, goot morning; and I shall be free to go vere I like. Dat is
but all fair, I tink."

"Quite--quite," answered Hotham, "and so we will leave it, captain. I
will go into the ante-room for a moment, to direct the order to be
made out, and to-morrow morning, if you will be with me by six, we
will walk round the ramparts."

"Sir, you treat me very polished," answered Barecolt, with another
profound bow; and Hotham retired for an instant into the next room.

Ashburnham immediately advanced a step towards Barecolt, fixing his
eyes keenly upon him.

"And pray, sir," he demanded, "do you really intend to go over to the
parliament, after having, as I understand, served his majesty?"

"I have taken the king's money, colonel," answered Barecolt; "but
every one has a right to get out of a scrape as he can."

"I think I understand you," answered Ashburnham; "and if so, God speed
you: if not, one day you will repent it."

"There are laws amongst soldiers, colonel," answered Barecolt, "which
are never violated by men of honour; but there is no law against
cozening a captor. It be quite true," he continued, at once resuming
his jargon on the reappearance of Hotham at the door, "I know noting
about de parties here; it make no difference to me vich be right and
vich be wrong: all I know is, dat party pay me be right, and very
right too, as dey vill find ven dey see vat I vill do."

The conference did not last much longer: Hotham gave the billet and
the order to Barecolt, and then placed him in the hands of a captain
of the train-bands, to guide him about the town, as he said, and to
see that he had everything he needed, but as much to keep a certain
degree of watchfulness over his proceedings as anything else, and this
being done, he let him go. Colonel Ashburnham was placed under
stricter guard, but yet treated courteously and well; and orders were
given to let the governor know as soon as the other Frenchman should
be sufficiently recovered to be brought before him.



                            CHAPTER XVII.


Captain Barecolt and his guide now issued forth into the streets of
Hull, and sauntered on for a few steps without speaking. An English
town, in those days, especially after the sun was set, presented a
very different aspect from that which it offers to the night wanderer
at present. All was darkness and gloom, except where, from an open
door or unshuttered window, the lights which the people within were
using for their own advantage served also for the benefit of the
passenger; and indeed every one who had occasion to traverse the
streets generally furnished himself with a lantern or link, to prevent
him from running his head against a post, or breaking his neck down
some of the steep flights of steps by which the even course of
progression was not unfrequently interrupted.

"Now, master captain," said Barecolt's companion, "what inn do you
want to go to? for it won't be pleasant roaming about Hull after
dark."

"Dat is de ting vich I don't know," answered Barecolt; "I never have
be in Hull before."

"Then one inn is as good as another to you, Captain Chairsfall?"
replied the officer of the train-bands.

"No, no, no!" replied Barecolt; "dat be not just, monsieur: all inn be
not de same--it depend on vat be in dem. I must have de good vine, de
good bed, de good meat."

"Well, you can have all those at the 'Lion,' or at the 'Rose' either,"
replied his companion.

"Ah, no! I like to see," answered Barecolt; "ve vill just valk trough
de town, take a leetle peep at dis inn, and leetle peep at dat, and
perhaps I take a glass of vine here, and a glass of vine dere, and
give you anoder, mon ami, just to try vich be de best. You see my
nose, have you not? Vell, it know vat good vine be."

"It looks it," answered the other; for that nose was one which few men
could let alone, such were its attractions. "However, if we are to
have this long walk, I must get a lantern at my house," and on he went
down the street before him, till, turning to the left, he entered
another, in which not only was his own house situated, but also the
identical inn called the "Swan." The door was open, a light was
shining within, the swan in all its glory was swinging from a pole
over the door, and Barecolt insinuated a desire to begin their
perquisitions there.

The captain of the train-bands, there is every reason to suspect, had
a friend at the "Lion," and another at the "Rose," for he certainly
did not do justice to Mrs. White, in the account he gave of the
accommodations of her house. But Barecolt, who thought that, good or
bad, he never could have a gill of wine too much, and who had not
tasted anything stronger than water for a greater length of time than
was at all convenient to his stomach, was resolute to try what the
"Swan" could produce, and consequently led the way up the steps and
into the house, notwithstanding the remonstrances of the worthy
predecessor of John Gilpin.

Advancing with an easy and self-satisfied air to the little room which
we have spoken of, the window of which commanded the passage and the
staircase, he found the worthy landlady herself; seated with a tall,
powerful man, considerably above the middle age, but still hale and
hearty, with white hair, indeed, but thick eyebrows, still jet-black,
and long dark eyelashes shading an eye of that peculiar blue which is
seldom found without a rich stream of the Milesian blood flowing in
the veins of the owner. A jug of ale and some cold ham were between
the two, and Mrs. White seemed to be doing the honours of her house to
the stranger with great courtesy and attention.

"Vould you have bounty, madame," said Barecolt, "just to let me have
von leetle gill, as you call it, of de very best vine, and anoder of
de same for my friend here?"

"Certainly, sir," said Mrs. White. "Ah! Captain Jenkins, is that you?
Well, I am very glad to see you in the house at last. A dull night,
sir. Nancy, Nancy! give these gentlemen two gills of the best wine.
White or red, air?"

"Oh, vite, vite!" replied Captain Barecolt; "De red vine in England be
vort noting."

"White, Nancy, white!" cried the landlady. "Won't you come in and take
a seat, Mr. Jenkins? Here's Mr. O'Donnell with me, whom you know, I
think."

Captain Jenkins, however, of the train-bands of the city of Hull,
grumbled something about not being able to stay long; but the more
gallant Barecolt, instantly accepting the lady's invitation, walked
in, and the other followed.

The two measures of wine were speedily set before them; and Barecolt,
tossing off his in a moment, seemed to like it so well that he called
for another. But Captain Jenkins shrugged his shoulders, and whispered
that there was very much better at the "Lion;" "very much better
indeed."

What effect this insinuation would have had upon the determination of
Barecolt I cannot take upon myself to say; but an event occurred at
that moment which at once decided his conduct.

Just as Nancy was placing the second gill before him, a loud noise of
people speaking, and apparently scuffling in the street, was heard. It
gradually grew louder, and at length seemed to reach the steps leading
up to the house.

There was something in the tone of one of the voices which, though
raised into accents such as Barecolt had never heard it use, seemed
familiar to his ear, and he instantly started up to look out.

"It's nothing but some drunken men, sir," said Mrs. White: "If they
don't mind, the watch will get hold of them."

But the watch had already done its function; and the moment after, the
voice of Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, was distinctly heard exclaiming, "Get
hence, ye men of Belial! ye false witnesses, raised up by Jezebel,
whose blood the dogs licked, to testify falsely of the just Naboth!
Drunk! It is you are drunk! I never was so sober in my life. Get
hence, I say!" he continued with a loud hiccup; "I lodge here, I tell
you;" and shaking off the grasp of two of the watch who had him in
custody, he rushed into the "Swan," and had nearly reached the foot of
the stairs when he fell prone upon the well-washed floor, and lay
there, unable to raise himself.

Mrs. White instantly rushed out, followed close by Nancy, to the
rescue of her guest; for the watch had by this time entered, and were
about to lay hands once more upon the person of Mr. Ezekiel Dry. The
good landlady, however, easily satisfied them that Mr. Dry would be
taken care of, and not suffered further to disturb the peace of the
town; and as he was by no means in a comfortable or convenient
position on the floor, which, from the undulatory motion he perceived
in it, he asserted loudly was affected by an earthquake, the two men
who had followed him were employed to raise him, and conveyed him
struggling violently to his bed.

By no means unaccustomed to the treatment of such maladies, Mrs. White
remained for a few minutes with her reverend and respectable guest,
and then leaving him, as we shall do for the present, returned to her
little parlour.

"Madame," said Barecolt, as soon as she entered, "your vine be so very
good dat I shall remain here vile I stay in de town. Here is von
leetle billet from de gouverneur, and as I know dat it is not pleasant
to lodge de soldier, or de officer eider, here be von order for my
provision and maintenance, vich vill be paid at de good rate, and as I
like de good vine, it may be someting in your vay."

Mrs. White could only curtsey and submit; but Captain Jenkins, who had
hoped to put a good thing in the paws of the "Lion," or in the bosom
of the "Rose," flung out of the house in a fit of disgust, saying he
would come for Captain Chairsfall early the next morning. Before he
went, however, he called Mrs. White aside, and whispered to her, to
keep a sharp eye upon her new guest.

"If you find him inquiring his way out of the town, or going out late
at night or early in the morning," he said, with an important air,
"you must send word either to me or the governor, it's all the same
which; for he is a Frenchman, who has come over to serve the king, in
rebellion to the parliament, and has been taken prisoner. He pretends
now to be willing to go with us; but I have doubts, many doubts, Mrs.
White; so look to him, look to him well, if you would merit favour."

Mrs. White promised to look to him, but inwardly proposed to have a
due regard for her own pocket, by obtaining speedy payment for
everything she supplied; and as for the rest, "to let the man take his
chance," as she termed it.

I cannot, however, aver that Mrs. White was either prepossessed by the
appearance of the worthy Captain Barecolt or by the account given of
him by Captain Jenkins; though, to say truth, she did not put much
faith in the assurance of the officer of the trained bands.

That her new lodger had come to serve the king, however, and then
showed a good will to serve his enemies, seemed clear; so that when
she returned to her parlour, after her conference with Jenkins, though
she was perfectly civil to the apparent Frenchman, as indeed she was
to every one, hers was that quick and sharp-set civility which can be
better felt than described. She answered all his questions in as few
words as possible, interspersing them with numerous curtsies and very
civil epithets; but it was very evident to Captain Barecolt that Mrs.
White wished for as little of his company as possible.

He was not a man, as may be imagined, who would attribute this
distaste to his society to any want of personal attractions; and he
settled it in his own mind that it must be his assumed quality of
Frenchman that prejudiced the landlady against him, and that evil he
determined to remedy as soon as he was sure of his ground; for Captain
Barecolt, at that moment, had as strong a desire for the private
company of Mrs. White as she had for his absence.

Mr. Hugh O'Donnell still kept his seat at the table, too; and he
looked at Mrs. White, and Mrs. White at Mr. O'Donnell, with very
significant glances, and no less significant silence, till at length
Captain Barecolt's impudence fairly gave way, and saying to himself;
"Hang the fellow! I must wait till he chooses to go," he rose,
inquiring, "Can anybody show me de room dat I am to sleep in? for I
like very great to see de bed vere I lie."

"Oh yes, sir!" said Mrs. White; "you shall have as good a bed as any
in Hull. Here, Nancy, Nancy!" and, preceded by the girl, the worthy
captain was led up-stairs, and shown into a bed-room just opposite to
that of Arrah Neil.



                            CHAPTER XVIII.


At the door of Captain Barecolt's room Nancy put the candle in his
hand, and made him a low curtsey, which might be partly in answer to
various civil speeches which the worthy and respectable gentleman had
addressed to her as they went up-stairs, partly as a hint that she did
not intend to go any farther in his company; for to say the truth, the
nose of the tall captain was not at all prepossessing in Nancy's eyes.

"I want to speak de leetle vord vid you, my dear," said Captain
Barecolt, taking the candle.

The girl, however, only dropped him another curtsey, replying, "Well,
sir, what is it? Pray be quick, for missis will want me."

"Tell me, my dear," said Barecolt, lowering his voice, "vat be dat
gentleman dat I see come in just now?--he who were vat you call
teepsy?"

"Oh, he is a lodger, sir," replied Nancy, turning round to go away.

"Stop, stop!" said Barecolt: "answer me de oder leetle vord. Have he
got von young lady vid him?"

"Yes, sir; no more," replied Nancy.

"And in dis house?" asked Captain Barecolt.

"Yes, sir," rejoined the girl again; "just in there: he locks the door
upon her, the old vermin!" she added, not at all approving such an
abridgment of female liberty, and looking upon Mr. Dry as little
better than a Turk in the garb of a Calvinist.

"Ah! he be de monstrous big rogue!" replied Barecolt. "I tought I see
him before; I know him, Nancee; I know him vell for one extravagant
great tief."

"He is not very extravagant here," answered the maid; "but I must go,
sir, upon my word;" and, whisking round, she descended the stairs, at
the foot of which her mistress called her into the little parlour, and
inquired what that man had been saying to her.

"Oh, he was asking about the gentleman in the chamber, ma'am," was
Nancy's reply; "and he says that he is an extravagant thief, that he
has seen him before, and knows him."

Mrs. White looked at Mr. O'Donnell, and Mr. O'Donnell at Mrs. White,
and then the landlady murmured, "He is not far wrong, I fancy;" to
which Mr. O'Donnell assented by a nod.

In the mean while Captain Barecolt entered his bedchamber, set down
the candle, and stretched his long limbs upon a chair, after which he
fell into a fit of thought, not gloomy, but profound. He was a man who
loved adventures, as the reader is aware, and he saw a wonderful
provision of them before him, in which he hoped and expected to have
an opportunity of developing many of those vast and important
qualities which he attributed to himself.

Wit, courage, cunning, presence of mind, dexterity of action, together
with his wonderful powers of strategy, were all likely to have full
means of displaying themselves in the twofold enterprise of delivering
Arrah Neil from the hands of Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, and Lord Beverley
from the clutches of Sir John Hotham. He was well contented with what
he had done already. To have cheated a governor of Hull, to have
obtained his liberty in five minutes, to have passed for a Frenchman,
to have cast off the companionship of the embarrassing Mr. Jenkins,
were feats of no light merit in his eyes; and he now proposed to go
on, step by step, till he had reached the climax of accomplishment;
first using art, then daring, and crowning the whole by some brilliant
display of courage, which would immortalize him in the eyes of the
royalist party.

After he had thus continued to think for about a quarter of an hour,
and had arrived at the point of doubting whether he was in fact Julius
C[ae]sar or Alexander the Great, with some slight suspicion that he
might be neither, but Henry IV. of France instead, he opened the door
quietly, and, without taking the candle, advanced to the head of the
stairs, where, bending down his head, he listened for a moment. There
was a dull, heavy sound of people talking, however; and a man's voice
was heard, though the words he used could not be made out.

"Ay, that d--d fellow is there still!" murmured Captain Barecolt: "if
he does not go soon, I'll walk down and cut his throat." But, just as
he was turning to go back to his own room, he heard the door of the
little parlour--which, as it closed with a pulley and weight,
announced its movements by a prodigious rattle--give indications of
its being opened, and the voice of Mr. O'Donnell could be
distinguished, as he marched out, saying--

"The first thing to be done, however, Mrs. White, is to get her out of
this man's hands."

Captain Barecolt waited till the Irishman's footsteps sounded no
longer in the hall, and then, walking downstairs, proceeded straight
into the little parlour, and, much to the astonishment of Mrs. White,
seated himself before her, saying in good plain English--

"I think so too, Mrs. White."

"Lord, sir! what do you mean?" asked the worthy landlady.

"I mean, the first thing is, to get her out of this man's hands, Mrs.
White. So now let me have some supper, and I will tell you all about
it."

"Dear me, sir! Why, this is very funny," replied the landlady, with an
agitated smoothing of the table-cloth, and a tremulous arranging of
the jugs and plates; "I didn't know that any one heard what the
gentleman said."

"But I did, though, Mrs. White," replied Barecolt, "loud words will
always catch long ears."

"Why, Lord, sir, you speak as good English as I do!" said Mrs. White.

"To be sure I do," answered Barecolt; "I should be a fool if I didn't.
But now, my good lady, tell me if I can trust you; for, although my
own life is a thing that I care nothing about, and is risked every day
wherever it can be risked by shot and steel, in the breach and in the
field, there is much more to be perilled by anything like rashness
than such a trifle as that. There's this young lady's safety and
liberty, and I can tell you that there are a great many very high
people who would give no light reward to those who would set her free
from this base caitiff who has got her."

"Dear me!" cried Mrs. White; "I wish I had known that before, for here
have we been talking of nothing else for the last hour, Mr. O'Donnell
and I. Do you know who she is, sir?"

"I know more than I choose to say, Mrs. White," replied Barecolt, who
had made it the first principle of his life, from soft childhood to
rubicund maturity, never to confess ignorance of anything, and who had
frequently made a significant nod or a wise look pass for a whole
volume of information; "but what I ask you is, can I trust you, Mrs.
White? can I trust to your zeal, fidelity, and discretion? as the Duke
of Montmorenci asked me, when he was about So take arms for the
deliverance of France from the tyranny of Richelieu. I made him a low
bow, Mrs. White, laid my hand upon my heart, and said, 'Perfectly,
monseigneur;' rind if he had taken my advice, he would now have had a
head upon his shoulders."

"Lord have mercy!" exclaimed Mrs. White, overpowered with the grand
and tragic ideas which her strange guest presented to her imagination.
"Oh, dear me! yes, sir; you can trust to me perfectly, I assure you. I
would risk my house and everything rather than not set the poor dear
girl free from that nasty old puritanical creature. Why, this was the
very first house she came to after she came over from Ireland, though
Mr. O'Donnell says they went to Holland first to escape suspicion. Ay,
and here her poor mother died."

"Indeed!" said Captain Barecolt, drinking in all the tidings that he
heard; "I did not know that this was the house, Mrs. White. However, I
am glad to hear it. A very good house it is, and capital wine. You
must know, then, Mrs. White, since I can trust you fully, that I came
into Hull for the express purpose of setting this young lady free, and
restoring her to her friends, Lord Walton and his sister."

The worthy captain, as the reader will perceive, was never at a loss
for a lie, and indeed the habit of telling the exact truth had been so
long abandoned, if ever it was possessed, that the worthy professor of
the sword might have found no slight difficulty in avoiding every
shade of falsehood which his fertile imagination was continually
offering him to embellish his various narratives withal. He had no
particular object in deceiving Mrs. White, in regard to the real mode,
manner, and object of his visit to Hull; but it was his general
practice to begin by telling the lie first, and leaving the truth as a
sort of strong corps of reserve to fall back upon in case of need.

"Dear me, sir!" cried Mrs. White; "why, Mr. Jenkins told me that you
were a Frenchman who had come over to serve our poor good king against
these parliamentary folks; that you had been taken prisoner, and now
offer to serve the parliament."

"All a lie, all a lie, Mrs. White," replied Captain Barecolt; "it is
wonderful what lies people will tell when it is quite as easy to speak
the truth. However, in saying I was a Frenchman, he knew no better,
poor silly man, for I pretended to be so in order to carry on my
schemes the better. But as I see you are true to the royal cause, I
will let you know I am an officer in the king's service, and have no
intention whatever of being anything else. Neither must you suppose,
Mrs. White, that I come here as a spy; for, although I hold that upon
certain occasions the office of spy may become honourable, yet it is
not one that I would willingly fill. So now, Mrs. White, as I said
before, let me have some supper, and then tell me what is to be done
for the deliverance of this young lady."

Captain Barecolt had risen wonderfully in the estimation of Mrs. White
during the last five minutes; and, such is the effect of our mental
affections upon our corporeal faculties, that she began to think him
by no means so ugly a man as he had at first appeared: his nose
reduced itself into very tolerable and seemly proportions in her eyes,
the redness thereof became nothing more than a pleasant glow, and his
tall figure and somewhat long, ungainly limbs acquired an air of
dignity and command which Mrs. White thought very striking.

Bustling about, then, she prepared to supply him with the comfortable
things of this life with great good-will, and was struck with
considerable admiration at the vigour and pertinacity with which he
assailed the viands placed before him. She was obliged, indeed, to
call to Nancy to bring a fresh supply; but Captain Barecolt made a
significant sign, by laying his finger on the side of his nose, which
organ might be considered indeed as a sort of telegraph erected by
nature with a view to such signals; and he afterwards reminded her, in
a low voice, that his incognito must be kept up with all others but
herself.

"You are the only confidante I shall make in the town of Hull," he
added: "one confederate is quite sufficient for a man of genius, and
to everybody else I am de same Capitaine Jereval dat came over from
France to help de king, but be now villing to help de parliament."

"Lawk, sir, how well you do it!" said the landlady; "but I think you
are very right not to tell any one but me; for they are a sad, prying,
gossiping race in the town of Hull, and you might soon have your
secret blown over the place. But as to poor Miss Arrah, sir, I really
do not know what is to be done. I can see very well that Mr. O'Donnell
knows more about her than he chooses to say; and I can find that it
was through him that the poor lady, her mother, held her
communications with Ireland. He won't tell me who she is, though, nor
what was her father's name, nor her mother's either, though I tried to
pump him as hard as I could. Perhaps you, sir, may be able to tell
me."

"There Is such a thing as discretion, Mrs. White," said Captain
Barecolt, with a sagacious air; but, suspecting that Mrs. White had
some doubts regarding him and his knowledge of Arrah, and was only
trying to ascertain how far his information respecting her really
extended, he added, "I suppose the young lady is in bed by this time;
but I should be glad, Mrs. White, if you would take the first
opportunity of telling her, that one of the gentlemen who accompanied
Lord Walton from Bishop's Merton is now in Hull, and will not quit the
place without setting her free."

"Oh, bless you, sir! I dare say she is not in bed," answered Mrs.
White; "and if she be, I should not mind waking her to tell her such
good news as that. I'll go directly," she continued, shaking her bunch
of keys significantly. "The old hunx locks the door and takes away the
key, and then gets as drunk as a beast, so that she might starve for
that matter, but I can always get in notwithstanding."

"Ay, ay!" answered Barecolt; "a landlady is nothing without her
pass-key, so run and make use of it, there's a dear woman; and if the
young lady is up I will go and see her now. If she is not, it must be
to-morrow morning."

Mrs. White was absent for about five minutes, during which time
Captain Barecolt continued his attack upon the cold beef, so that, by
the time the worthy landlady returned, the vast sirloin looked as if a
mammoth had been feeding on it.

"Oh, dear sir!" said Mrs. White, "she is so glad to hear that you are
here! and she would fain get up and go away with you this very night,
but I told her that couldn't be, for the gates are closed and locked."

"Locks are nothing to me, Mrs. White," replied the captain, with a
sublime look; "and gates disappear before my hand as if they were made
of pasteboard. Did I not, with a single petard, blow open the Porte
Nantoise of Ancenis, which weighed three tons weight, and took two men
to move it on its hinges?"

"Lord ha' mercy, sir!" exclaimed Mrs. White; "why, you are as bad as
Samson."

"A great deal worse," replied the captain; "but, however, I could not
go to-night, for there's other business to be done first."

"Oh ay, yes, sir," she said: "to get the papers; for I do not know
whether you are aware that that old puritanical wretch has got all the
papers and things out of poor Sergeant Neil's cottage--at least we
think so; and I don't doubt in the least that all about poor Miss
Arrah is to be found there."

"Nor I either, Mrs. White," answered Barecolt; "but can I see the
young lady to-night, or must I wait till tomorrow?"

"She will be up in a few minutes, sir," replied the worthy landlady.
"She would not hear of waiting, though I told her I could easily get
the old man out of the way tomorrow by sending him a wild-goose chase
after Hugh O'Donnell."

"Well, then," said Barecolt, "you go and see when she is ready, and in
the mean time I'll finish my supper."



                             CHAPTER XIX.


"Come, sir, you must get up!" said an officer of the garrison, standing
beside the Earl of Beverley, to whom we must now return, as he lay on
the floor of the little cabin, affecting to be still suffering from
sickness: "you must get up and come with me, for we've got a lodging
prepared for you hard by here."

The earl pretended scarcely to understand him, and made some answer in
broken English, which, though it was not quite so well assumed as the
jargon of Captain Barecolt, was sufficiently like the language of a
foreigner to keep up the character he had taken upon himself.

"Come, come; you must get up!" reiterated the officer, taking him by
the arm; and slowly, and apparently feebly, the earl arose and
suffered the other to lead him upon deck.

It was by this time dark, but several persons with lanterns in their
hands were waiting at the top of the hatchway; and, guarded and
lighted by them, the earl was led from the vessel into the town, and
thence to a small building near the city wall, pierced for musketry,
and having a little platform at the top, on which was mounted a single
cannon. On the side next to the town appeared a door and three
windows, and before the block-house, as it was termed, a sentinel was
already marching up and down in expectation of the arrival of the
prisoner; but it was with some difficulty that the door was opened to
give entrance to the party which now approached.

The aspect of the place to which the earl was to be consigned was
certainly not very inviting, especially seen by the light of lanterns
in a dark night; and the inner room to which the guard led him
afforded but little means of rendering himself comfortable within
those damp and narrow walls. A bed was there, a table, and a chair,
but nothing else; and Lord Beverley, still maintaining his character,
made various exclamations in French upon the treatment to which the
people of Hull thought fit to subject an officer and a gentleman.

"You shall have some meat and beer presently," replied the officer,
who understood a few words only of the language the prisoner spoke;
"but as to a fire, mounseer, that you can't have, because there is no
fireplace, you see."

The earl shrugged his shoulders with a look of discontent, but
prepared to make the best of his situation; and as soon as the meat
and beer which they had promised was brought, the key turned in the
lock, and he was left alone, he sat down by the light of the lantern,
which they had provided him, to meditate over his present condition
and his future plans, with the peculiar turn of mind which we have
attempted to depict in some of the preceding pages.

"This is not a pleasant consummation," he said to himself, "either as
regards the king's service or my safety. However, out of the cloud
comes lightning--from the depths of night bursts forth the sun; all
bright things are preceded by darkness; and the shadow that is upon me
may give place to light. Even here, perhaps, I may be enabled to do
more for the cause I have undertaken than if I had reached France. It
must be tried, at all events. There is nothing like boldness, though
one cannot well be bold within these walls;" and he glanced his eyes
over the narrow space in which he was confined, thinking, with a
somewhat sad smile, that there was but little room for the exercise of
any of those energies which may be called the life of life.

"It is a sad thing imprisonment," he thought. "Here the active being
lies dead, and it is but the clay that lives. Vain every great design,
fruitless every intention and every effort, idle all speculation,
empty every aspiration here! Cut off from all objects on which to
exercise the powers of mind or body, the patriot and the traitor, the
philosopher and the fool are equal. No," he continued, after a
moment's pause--"no, not so! Truth and honour are happiness even in a
dungeon, and the grasp of intellect and imagination can reach beyond
these walls, and bring within the narrow limits of the prison
materials to build mighty fabrics, that the power of tyrants or
enemies cannot overthrow. Did not Galileo leave upon the stones that
surrounded him bright traces of the immortal spirit? Did he not in the
cold cell wander by the powers of mind through all the glorious works
of the Almighty, and triumph, even in chains, over the impotent malice
of mankind? So may I too; but my first consideration must be of things
more immediate. How shall I deal with this man Hotham? I do not think
he would know me, disguised as I am now: shall I attempt still to pass
for a Frenchman? If I do, perhaps I doom myself to long imprisonment.
I wonder where my companion can be, and Ashburnham. 'Tis strange they
are not placed in the same prison with myself. Pray heaven they have
fared better; for, though men say, 'The more the merrier,' yet I could
not much wish any one to share such a lodging as this. I hope and
trust that fellow Barecolt will put a guard upon big tongue. Well said
the Hebrew king, that it was an unruly member, and never did I know
head in which it was less easily governed. He would not betray me, I
do believe; but yet in his babble he may do more mischief than a less
faithful man. Well, things must take their course--I cannot rule them;
and I may as well supply the body's wants, since they have afforded me
the means."

Thus thinking, he drew his chair to the table, and took some of the
provisions which had been brought him, after which he again fell into
a deep fit of thought, and then starting up, exclaimed aloud, "There
is no use in calculating in such circumstances as these. None can tell
what the next minute will bring forth, and the only plan is to be
prepared to take advantage of whatever may happen; for circumstances
must be hard indeed that will not permit a wise and quick-witted man
to abate their evil or to augment their good. So I will even go sleep
as soon as I can; but methinks the moon is rising," and, approaching
the window, which was strongly barred, he looked out for a few
minutes, as the orb of night rose red and large through the dull and
heavy air of Hull.

"Where is sweet Annie Walton now?" he thought; "and whither is her
dear bright mind wandering? Perhaps she is even now looking at the
planet, and thinking of him whom she believes far away. Yes, surely
she will think of me. God's blessing on her sweet heart! and may she
soon know brighter days again, for these are sad ones. However, it is
some consolation to know that she is not aware of this misadventure.
Well, I will go and try to sleep."

He then, after offering his prayers to God--for he was not one to
forget such homage--cast himself down upon his bed without taking off
his clothes, and in a few minutes was sound asleep. During the two
preceding days he had undergone much fatigue, and had not closed an
eye for eight-and-forty hours, so that at first his slumber was as
profound as that of a peasant; but towards morning Imagination
reasserted her power, and took possession of his senses even in sleep.

He fancied that he was in Italy again, and that Charles Walton,
looking as he had done in early youth, was walking beside him along a
terrace, where cypresses and urns of sculptured stone flanked the
broad gravel-walk, which overhung a steep precipice. What possessed
him he knew not, but it seemed as if some demon kept whispering in his
ear to dare his loved companion to leap down, and, though reluctant,
he did so, knowing all the while that if his friend attempted it he
would infallibly perish. "Charles," he said, in the wild perversity of
his dreaming brain, "dare you stand with me on the top of that low
wall, and jump down into the dell below?"

"Whatever you do I will do, Francis," the young nobleman seemed to
reply; and, without waiting for further discussion, they both
approached the edge, mounted the low wall, and then leaped off
together. The earl's brain seemed to turn as he fell, and everything
reeled before his dizzy sight, till at length he suddenly found
himself upon his feet at the bottom, unhurt, and, instead of his
friend, Annie Walton standing, beside him, in deep mourning,
inquiring, "How could you be so rash, Francis?"

Before he could reply he awoke; and gazing wildly round him, saw the
sunshine of the early morning streaming through the window, and
cheering even the gloomy aspect of the prison.

"This is a strange dream," he thought, seating himself upon the edge
of the bed, and leaning his head upon his hand--"a mighty strange
dream indeed! Have I really tempted Charles Walton to take such a
dangerous leap, in persuading him to draw the sword for his king? No,
no! He could not avoid it--he was already prepared; and, besides, the
voice of duty spoke by my lips. Whatever be the result to him or to
me, I cannot blame myself for doing that which was right. Weak men
judge even their own actions by the results, when in fact they should
forget all but the motives, and when satisfied that they are just and
sufficient, should leave all the rest in the hands of God. I will
think of this no more. It is but folly;" and rising, he advanced to
the window, before which he heard the sound of people's voices
speaking.

The surprise of Lord Beverley was not small at beholding straight
before him the long person and never-to-be mistaken nose of Captain
Deciduous Barecolt, standing side by side with Sir John Hotham,
governor of Hull, and apparently upon terms of gracious intimacy with
that officer.

Barecolt was at that moment drawing, with the point of a cane upon the
ground, a number of lines and angles, which seemed to the eyes of Lord
Beverley very much like the plan of a fortification, while three stout
soldiers, apparently in attendance upon the governor, stood at a
little distance, and looked on in grave and respectful silence. Every
now and then the worthy captain seized Sir John by the breast of his
coat with all the exaggerated gesticulation of a Frenchman, pointed to
the lines he had drawn, held out his stick towards other parts of
Hull, shrugged, grinned, and chattered, and then flew back to his
demonstration again, with the utmost appearance of zeal and good-will.

"What in the name of fortune can the fellow be about?" murmured the
earl. "He is surely not going to fortify Hull against the king! Well,
I suppose if he do it will be taken. That is one comfort. But, on my
word, he seems to have made great progress in Hotham's good graces. I
trust it is not at my expense. No, no! He is not one of that sort of
men. Folly and vice enough, but not dishonour.

"I have no small mind to try my eloquence on Hotham too," continued
the earl, after watching them for a moment longer; "I do not think he
is so far committed with the parliament as to be beyond recal to a
sense of duty. He used to be a vain as well as an ambitious man; and
perhaps, if one could but hold out to his vanity and ambition the
prospect of great honour and advancement, as the reward for taking the
first step towards healing the breaches in his country's peace, by
making submission to the king, he might be gained. It is worth the
trial, and if it cost me my head it shall be made."

As he thus pondered, the governor and Captain Barecolt walked slowly
on, followed by the three soldiers; and the sentinel before the door
of the block-house recommenced his perambulations.

"Holloa, monsieur!" cried Lord Beverley from the window; and on the
approach of the soldier he explained to him, in a mixed jargon of
French and English, that he much wished to have an interview with the
governor, adding that, if it were granted, he might communicate
something to Sir John Hotham which he would find of great importance.

"Why, there he stands," cried the soldier, "talking with the other
Frenchman," and he pointed with his hand to a spot which the earl
could not see, but where the governor had again paused to listen to
Captain Barecolt's plans and devices.

"_Allez, allez!_ tell him," cried Lord Beverley; and the man
immediately hastened to give the message.

In about three minutes he returned, saying, "He will send for you in
an hour or two, monsieur; and in the mean time here comes your
breakfast piping hot."



                             CHAPTER XX.


More than an hour went by without Lord Beverley hearing anything
further from the governor; and he was sitting at the table, meditating
over his scheme, when his ear caught the sound of voices without.

"Ah! here comes the messenger," he thought, "to summon me to Hotham's
presence;" but the moment after he distinguished the tones of his
worthy companion, Barecolt, who exclaimed, apparently addressing the
sentinel, "But I must see the block-house, I tell you, sair; it be
part of my dutee to see de block-house, and here be de wordy Capitaine
Jenkin, one man of de big respectability, who tell you de same ting."

Captain Jenkins grumbled a word or two in confirmation of Barecolt's
assertion; but the sentinel adhered steadfastly to his point, and said
that the mounseer might do what he pleased with the outside of the
place, but should not set his foot within the doors without a special
order from the governor, under his own hand.

Of this permission, limited as it was, Barecolt hastened to take
advantage; and having previously ascertained that his companion,
Jenkins, did not understand one word of the French language, he
approached the window at which he had caught sight of the face of Lord
Beverley in the morning, and which was still open, declaring that he
must look into the inside at all events.

The moment he was near, however, he said to the prisoner rapidly, but
in a low tone, "What can be done to get you out?"

He spoke in French, and the earl answered in the same tongue, "Nothing
that I know; but be ready to help me at a moment's notice. Where are
you to be found?"

"At the 'Swan' inn," replied Barecolt; "but I will be with you in the
course of this night--I have a plan in my head;" and seeing that
Captain Jenkins, who had been speaking a word or two to the sentinel,
was now approaching, he walked on, and busied himself with closely
examining the rest of the building.

Not long after he was gone, the earl was summoned before the governor;
and with one of the train-bands on each side--for at this time Hull
could boast of no other garrison--he was led from the block-house to
Sir John Hotham's residence. After being conducted up a wide flight of
stairs, he was shown into the same large room in which the examination
of Barecolt had taken place. On the present occasion, however, to the
surprise and somewhat to the dismay of the earl, he found the room
half-filled with people, many of whom he knew; and, for an instant
forgetting how completely he was disguised, he thought that all his
scheme must now fall to the ground, and his immediate discovery take
place.

The cold and strange looks, however, that were turned upon him, both
by Hotham himself and several of the officers with whose persons the
earl was acquainted, soon restored his confidence, and showed him that
his person was far better concealed than he had imagined. Never losing
his presence of mind for a single instant, he advanced at once to Sir
John Hotham, and made him a low bow, asking if he were the governor.

The answer, of course, was in the affirmative, and Hotham proceeded to
question him in French, which he spoke with tolerable fluency. With
never-failing readiness the earl answered all his questions, giving a
most probable account of himself, and stating that he had come over
from France with recommendations for the king, in the hope of getting
some important command, as it was expected every day at the French
court that Charles would be obliged to have recourse to arms against
his parliament.

Several of the gentlemen present, who had either been really at the
court of France very lately, or pretended to have been so, stepped
forward to ask a good number of questions of the prisoner, which were
not very convenient for him to answer. He continued to parry them,
however, with great dexterity for some time; but at length, finding
that this sort of cross-examination could not go on much longer
without leading to his detection, he turned suddenly to Sir John
Hotham, and asked him in a low voice if the guard had given him the
message which he had sent.

"Yes," replied the governor, "I received the message; what is it you
have to communicate?"

"Something, sir, for your private ear," continued the earl, still
speaking in French; "a matter which you will find of much importance,
and which you will not regret to have known; but I can only discover
it to you if you grant me an interview with yourself alone."

"Faith, I must hear more about you, sir, before I can do that,"
replied Hotham. "Come hither with me, and I will speak to you for a
moment in the window."

Thus saying, he led the way to the further end of the room, where a
deep bay-window looked out over the town. The distance from the rest
of the company was considerable, and the angle of the wall ensured
that no distinct sound could reach the other part of the hall; but
still Lord Beverley determined, if possible, to obtain a greater
degree of privacy, for he knew not what might be the effect of the
sudden disclosure he was about to make upon the governor himself.

"Can I not speak with you in another room, sir?" he asked, still using
the French tongue.

"That is quite impossible," answered Sir John Hotham; "you can say
what you have to say here. Speak low, and no ears but mine will hear
you."

The earl looked down, and then, raising his eyes suddenly to the
governor's face, he asked in English--

"Do you know me, Sir John Hotham?"

The governor started, and looked at him attentively for a moment or
two, but then replied in a decided tone--

"No, I do not, sir. How should I?"

"Well, then," replied the earl, "I will try whether I know Sir John
Hotham, and whether he be the same man of honour I have always taken
him to be. You see before you, sir, the Earl of Beverley; and you are
well aware that the activity I have displayed in the service of the
king, and the number of persons whom I have brought over to his
interest, by showing them that, whatever might be the case in times
past, their duty to their king and their country is now the same--you
are aware, I say, that these causes have rendered the parliament my
implacable enemies; and I do believe, that in confiding as I do this
day to you, instead of keeping up the disguise that I have maintained
hitherto, I place myself in the hands of one who is too much a
gentleman to use that information to my disadvantage, and give me up
to the fury of my adversaries."

The astonishment which appeared on Sir John Hotham's face, while the
earl was making this communication, might have attracted the attention
of his son and the rest of the company, had not his back been
fortunately turned towards them. He gazed earnestly on the earl's
countenance, however, and then, recollecting his features, wondered
that he had not discovered him at once. So transparent did the
disguise seem as soon as he knew the secret, that he could scarcely
persuade himself that the other gentlemen present would be long
deceived, and he was now only anxious to get the earl out of the room
as soon as possible; for many of those curious little motives which
influence all human actions made him determine in an instant to
justify the honourable character attributed to him.

"Say no more, say no more, sir!" he replied in a low tone, smoothing
down his countenance as best he might; "We cannot talk upon this
subject now. Rest satisfied, however, that you will not be sorry for
the trust you have reposed in me, and will find me the same man as you
supposed. I will see you again in private whenever I may meet with a
convenient opportunity; but in the mean time I am afraid you must
content yourself with the poor accommodation which you have, for any
change in it would beget suspicion, and I have shrewd and evil eyes
upon me here; so I must now send you away at once. Here, guard," he
continued, "take the prisoner back. Let him be well used, and provided
with all things necessary, but at the same time have a strict eye upon
him, and suffer no one to communicate with him but myself."

Lord Beverley bowed and withdrew, and Hotham, with strong signs of
agitation still in his countenance, returned to his companions,
saying--

"That Frenchman is a shrewd fellow, and knows more of the king's
councils than I could have imagined; but I must go and write a
despatch to the parliament, for he has told me things that they will
be glad to know, and I trust that in a few days I shall learn more
from him still."

Thus speaking, he retired from the hall, and one of the gentlemen
present inquired of another who was standing near--

"Did you not think that what they were saying just now in the window
sounded very like English?"

"Oh," replied Colonel Hotham, with a sneer, "my father's French has
quite an English tone. He changes the words, it is true, but not the
accent."

In the mean while the earl was carried back to the block-house, and
towards evening he received a few words, written on a scrap of paper,
telling him that the governor would be with him about ten o'clock that
night.

This was a mark of favour and consideration which Lord Beverley
scarcely expected, notwithstanding the difference of rank between
himself and Sir John Hotham, and the promises of honourable dealing
which the latter had made. There were also signs of a willingness to
attend to his comfort, which were even more consolatory in the
conclusions he drew from them than in the acts themselves. Poor Sinbad
the sailor, when he fell into the hands of the cannibal blacks, looked
upon all the good cheer that they placed before him as merely the
means employed to fatten him previous to killing and eating him; but,
as we never had such anthropophagous habits in Great Britain, even
during the great rebellion itself, the earl, when he saw sundry much
more savoury dishes provided for his dinner than he had hitherto been
favoured with, and a bottle of very good wine to wash them down
withal, received them as a mark of the governor's good intentions, and
an indication that there was some probability of his imprisonment
coming to an end by a more pleasant process than a walk to the
scaffold.

He ate and drank then with renewed hope, and saw the sun go down with
pleasure, totally forgetting Captain Barecolt's promise to see him at
night, which, if he had remembered it, might have somewhat disturbed
his serenity.

I know not whether the people of Hull are still a tribe early in their
habits, but certainly such was the case in those days; and towards
nine o'clock, or a little after, the noises of the great town began to
die away, and Silence to resume her reign through the place. The
watch, who had a great horror of everything like merriment, as the
reader may have in some degree perceived, took care to suffer neither
shouting nor brawling in the streets of the good city after dark; and
though, from the windows of the room in which he was confined, the
noble earl saw many a lantern pass along, it was still with a sober
and steady pace; and with his usual imaginative activity of mind, he
amused himself with fancying the character and occupations of the
various persons who thus flitted before his eyes, drawing many a
comment and meditative reflection upon everything in man's fate and
nature.

The lanterns, however, like the sounds, grew less and less frequent;
and near a quarter of an hour had passed without his seeing one, when
at length the clock of the neighbouring church slowly struck the hour
of ten, pausing long upon every dull tone, which seemed like the voice
of Time regretting the moments that had flown.

In about ten minutes more, the sentry before the blockhouse challenged
some one who approached rather nearer than he thought proper to his
post. A signal word was given in reply, and the next moment the sounds
of bolts being withdrawn and keys turned in the lock were heard,
announcing the approach of a visiter. The opening door, as the earl
expected, showed the stout and somewhat heavy person of Sir John
Hotham, who entered with a sort of furtive look behind him, as if he
were afraid of being watched.

"Keep at some distance in front," he said, turning to the guard; "and
do not let any one, coming from the side of my house, approach within
a hundred yards." Thus saying, he shut the door of the room, locked
it, and put the key in his pocket; then turning to the prisoner he
observed, "It is a terrible thing, my lord, to have nothing but spies
about one; and yet such is my case here. I do not know what I have
done to deserve this."

"It is the most natural thing in the world, Sir John," said the earl,
shaking him warmly by the hand: "when perverse, rash, and rebellious
men know that they have to deal with a gentleman of honour, who,
however much he may be attached to liberty, is well disposed towards
his sovereign, they naturally suspect and spy upon him."

"You judge me rightly, my lord; you judge me rightly," replied Sir
John Hotham. "I have always been a friend equally to my country and my
king; and deeply do I lament the discord which has arisen between his
majesty and the parliament. But I see you understand my conduct well,
my lord, and need not be told that I entertain very different
principles from the men who have driven things to this strait. I vow
to God I have always entertained the highest affection and sense of
duty towards his majesty, and lament deeply to think that my refusing
to open the gates of Hull, when the king sent to require reception for
his forces, will always be considered as the beginning, and perhaps
the cause, of this civil war, whereas I did it in my own defence."

"Indeed!" exclaimed the earl. "The king is not aware that such is the
case; for, when many people assured his majesty that there must have
been some error in the business, he has replied often, 'God grant it
be so; for I always held Sir John Hotham to be a man of singular
uprightness, and well affected towards myself, until he ventured to
shut his gates in the king's face.'"

"Ay, air," exclaimed the governor; "both the king and myself have been
greatly deceived; and I will now tell you what I never told to any
one, which I will beseech you, when we find means to set you free, to
report to his majesty, that he may judge favourably of me. There were
certain men, whom I have since discovered to be arrant knaves, and
employed by the more furious persons of the parliament to deceive me,
who assured me, with every protestation of concern for my safety, that
it was the king's intention, as soon as he got into Hull, to hang me
without form of trial further than a mere summary court-martial."

"It was false, sir! it was false, altogether, I assure you!" replied
the earl. "Nothing was ever farther from the king's intention."

"I know it--I know it now," answered Sir John Hotham: "but I believed
it at the time. However, to speak of what more nearly concerns you, my
lord, I came hither to tell you, that, as you have so frankly put
yourself in in hands, I will in no degree betray your trust; and I
much wish you to consider in what way, and upon what pretext, I can
set you at liberty, so that you may safely go whithersoever you will.
But there is one thing you must remember, that the secret of who and
what you are, and of my wish to treat you kindly, must be kept
inviolably between you and me; for there is not a man here whom I can
trust, and especially my own son, who is one of the worst and most
evil-intentioned men towards the king and his own father in all the
realm."

"The only way that I can see," replied the earl, "will be for me to
pass for a Frenchman still, and for you to make it appear that I am
willing to purchase my liberty by giving you at once some information
regarding his majesty's designs, and obtaining more for you hereafter.
But so sure am I of your good intentions towards me, that I fear not
to remain here several days, if I may but hope that, through my poor
mediation, you and the king may be reconciled to each other. It is,
indeed, a sad and terrible thing, that a handful of ill-disposed men,
such as those who now rule in the parliament, should be able to
overwhelm this country with bloodshed and devastation, when the king
himself is willing to grant his people everything that they can
rightly and justly demand; and, moreover, that they should have the
power, when their intention is clearly, not alone to overthrow this or
that monarch, but to destroy and abolish monarchy itself, to involve
gentlemen of high esteem, such as yourself, in acts which they abhor,
and which must first prove disastrous to the country, and ultimately
destructive to themselves."

"Do not let them deceive you, Sir John," he continued: "this struggle
can have but one termination, as you will plainly see if you consider
a few points. You cannot for a moment doubt, that the turbulence and
exactions of these men have already alienated from them the affections
of the great body of the people. The king is now at the head of a
powerful force, which is daily increasing. A great supply of
ammunition and arms has just been received. The fleet is entirely at
his majesty's disposal, and ready to appear before any place against
which he may direct it. And, although he is unwilling to employ
foreign troops against his rebellious subjects till the last
extremity, yet you must evidently perceive that every prince in
Christendom is personally interested in supporting him, and will do it
as soon as asked. Nay, more: I will tell you, what is not generally
known, that the Prince of Orange is now preparing to come over, at the
head of his army; and you may well suppose that his first stroke will
be at Hull, which cannot resist him three days."

Sir John Hotham looked somewhat bewildered and confounded by all these
arguments, and exclaimed in a musing tone, "How is it to be done? that
is the only question: how is it to be done?"

"If you mean, Sir John," continued Lord Beverley, "how is peace to be
restored to the country? methinks it may be easily done; but first I
would have you consider, what glory and renown would accrue to that
man who should ward off all these terrible events; who, by his sole
power and authority, and by setting a noble example to his countrymen,
should pave the way to a reconciliation between King Charles and his
parliament; and at the same time secure the rights and liberties of
the people and the stability of the throne. I will ask you, if you are
not sure that both monarch and people, seeing themselves delivered
from the horrors of a civil war, would not join in overwhelming him
with honours and rewards of all kinds, and whether his name would not
descend to posterity as the preserver of his country. You are the man,
Sir John Hotham, who can do all this. You are the man who can obtain
this glorious name. The surrender of Hull to the king would at once
remedy the mistakes committed on both parts, would crush the civil war
in the germ, would strengthen the good intentions of all the wise and
better men in the parliament, would make the whole country rise as one
man to cast off the treason in which it has unwillingly taken part;
and for my own self I can only say, that men attribute to me some
influence both with the king and queen, and that all which I do
possess should be employed to obtain for you due recompense for the
services you have rendered your country."

Hotham was evidently touched and moved; for so skilfully had the earl
introduced every subject that could affect the various passions of
which he was susceptible, that at every word some new pleader had,
risen up in the bosom of the governor, to advocate the same course
upon which Lord Beverley was urging him. Now it was fear that spoke;
now hope; now anger at the suspicions entertained by the parliament;
now expectations from the king. Pride, vanity, ambition--all had their
word; and good Sir John's face betrayed the agitation of his mind, so
that the earl was in no slight hope of speedily gaining one of the
most important converts that could be made to the royal cause, when,
to the surprise of both, the door of the chamber in which they were
was violently shaken from without, and a voice was heard muttering,
with a tremendous oath--

"They have taken the key out: curse me if I don't force the lock off
with my dagger!"

Sir John Hotham started, and looked towards the door with fear and
trepidation; for he expected nothing less than to see the face of his
son or some other of the violent men who had been sent down by the
parliament; and to say truth, not the countenance of a personage whose
appearance in his own proper person is generally deprecated by even
those who have the closest connexion with him _sub rosa_ could have
been more unpleasant to the governor of Hull. The Earl of Beverley
started, too, with no very comfortable feelings; for not only was he
unwilling to have his conversation at that moment interrupted, but
moreover, dear reader, he recognised at once the tones of the
magnanimous Captain Barecolt.

"It is my son, on my life?" cried Hotham, in a low tone.

"What, in the fiend's name, is to be done? This insolence is
insufferable; and yet I would give my right hand not to be found here!
Hark! On my life, he is forcing the lock!"

"Stay, stay!" whispered the earl. "Get behind the bed; but first give
me the key. I pledge you my word, Sir John, not even to attempt an
escape; and, moreover, to send this person away without discovering
you. Leave him to me--leave him to me. You may trust me!"

"Oh! willingly--willingly," cried Sir John, giving him the key, and
drawing back behind the bed. "For heaven's sake, do not let him find
me!"

The earl took the key, and approached the door; but before we relate
what followed, we must turn for a moment to explain the sudden
appearance of Captain Barecolt.



                             CHAPTER XXI.


Captain Barecolt was not, according to the old proverb, like a garden
full of weeds; for, although he was undoubtedly a man of words, he was
also a man of deeds, as the reader may have already remarked, and the
deeds which he had performed since we last left him sitting in the
parlour of Mrs. White were manifold and various. His first expedition
was to the chamber of Arrah Neil, where the worthy landlady's sense of
decorum, as well as her privilege of curiosity, kept her present
during the conference.

Poor Arrah--although at one time she certainly had not been impressed
with the deepest sense of the personal merits of Captain Deciduous
Barecolt--had seen enough of his conduct in the skirmish which took
place at the bridge, to entertain a much higher respect for him than
before; and even had not such been the case, there is something in the
very sight of persons whom we have beheld in companionship with those
we love, which, by awakening sweet associations--those pleasant
door-keepers of the heart--renders their presence cheering to us in
the hour of misfortune and distress.

Mrs. White, too, upon Captain Barecolt's own statement, had assured
Arrah, that he came expressly to deliver her; and she looked upon her
escape from the clutches of Mr. Dry as now quite certain, with the aid
of the good landlady, and the more vigorous assistance of Barecolt's
long arm and long sword. She greeted him gladly, then, and with a
bright smile; but Barecolt, when he now saw her, could scarcely
believe that she was the same person with whom he had marched two days
during the absence from Bishop's Merton, not alone from the change in
her dress, though that of course made a very great difference, but
from the look of intelligence and mind which her whole countenance
displayed, and from the total absence of that lost and bewildered
expression which had been before so frequently present on her face.
Her great beauty, which had then been often clouded by that strange
shadow that we have so frequently mentioned, was now lighted up--like
a fair landscape first seen in the dim twilight of the morning, when
the sun rises upon it in all the majesty of light.

"Do not be the least afraid, my dear young lady," said Captain
Barecolt, after the first congratulations of their meeting were over,
and he had quieted down his surprise and admiration. "Do not be at all
afraid. I will deliver you, if the gates should be guarded by fiery
dragons. Not only have I a thousand times accomplished enterprises to
which this, of circumventing the dull burgesses of Hull, is no more
than eating the mites of a cheese off the point of a knife; but here
we have to assist us good Mrs. White, one of the most excellent women
that ever lived upon the face of this earth. It is true I have but had
the pleasure and honour of her acquaintance for the space of one hour
and three-quarters; but when you come to consider that I have been
called upon to converse and deal with, and investigate and examine, in
the most perilous circumstances, and in the most awful situations,
many millions of my fellow-creatures, of every different shade,
variety, and complexion of mind, you will easily understand that it
needs but a glance for me to estimate and appreciate the excellence of
a person so well disposed as Mrs. White."

"Oh, yes!" cried Arrah, interrupting him; "I know that she is kind and
good, and will do everything she can to help and deliver me. She was
kind to me long ago, and one can never forget kindness. But when shall
we go, Captain Barecolt? Cannot we go to-night?"

"That is impossible, my dear young lady," replied Barecolt; "for there
are many things to be done. In the first instance, these papers, which
Mrs. White talks of--they must be obtained, if possible. Has this man
got them about him, do you think?"

"I cannot tell," replied Arrah; "I do not even know that he has got
them at all. I only know that the cottage was stripped when I came
back, and that they, with everything else, were gone."

"Oh, he has got them! he has got them, my dear child!" cried Mrs.
White; "for depend upon it, that if he did not know you were a very
different person from Sergeant Neil's grand-daughter, just as well as
I do, he would never be so anxious about marrying you--a weazened old
red herring! I dare say he has got them safe in his trunk-mail."

"I will go," said Barecolt, "and cut them out of his heart;" and at
the same moment he rose, laid his hand upon his dagger, and strode
towards the door.

"Don't do him any mischief--don't do him any mischief in my house!"
cried Mrs. White, laying her hand upon the captain's arm. "Pray,
remember, captain, there will be inquiry made, as sure as you are
alive. You had better not take them till you are quite ready to go."

"Thou art a wise woman, Mrs. White," replied Captain Barecolt; "thou
art a wise woman, and I will forbear. I will but ascertain whether he
has these papers, while he yet lies in the mud of drunkenness, and
leave the appropriation of them till an after period."

Thus saying, he quitted the room; and having marked, with all his
shrewd perception, the door which had been opened and shut when the
reverend and respectable Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, was carried tipsy to
his bed, he walked straight into his room with a candle in his hand,
and approaching the drunken man, gazed on his face, to see that he was
still in that state of insensibility to what was passing round him
which was necessary to his present purposes. Mr. Dry was happily
snoring unconsciously, almost in a state of apoplexy; and approaching
a large pair of saddlebags, Barecolt took them up, laid them on a
chair, and opened them without either ceremony or scruple. The
wardrobe of Mr. Dry was soon exposed to view: a short cloak, a black
coat, a clean stiff band, well starched and ironed, in case he should
be called upon to hold forth; a pair of brown breeches and grey
stockings; three shirts of delicately fine linen, and sundry other
articles: these were soon cast upon the ground, and the arm of the
valorous captain plunged up to the elbow in the heart of the begs,
searching about for anything having the feel of paper.

For some minutes his perquisition was vain; but at length, in drawing
out his hand suddenly, the knuckles struck against the lining of the
bag, at a spot where something like a button made itself apparent; and
feeling more closely, the worthy captain discovered an inside pocket.

Into that his fingers were soon dipped; and with an air of triumph he
drew forth some three sheets of written paper, and carrying them to
the candle, examined them minutely. What was his disappointment,
however, when the first words that struck his eyes were--"Habakkuk ii.
5; 2 Chronicles ii. 7, 9; Micah vi.; Lamentations iii. 7; Amos ii.
4.--For three transgressions of Judah, and for four, I will not turn
away the punishment thereof."

"The hypocritical old swine!" cried Barecolt; "what have we got next?"
and turning over the page, he looked at the paper which was enclosed
in the other, which he found to be something a little more important,
namely, a letter from the parliamentary Colonel Thistleton to Mr. Dry,
informing him that he would be at Bishop's Merton on the day after the
date thereof, and begging him to keep a watchful eye upon the
malignant lord, that no changes might take place till he arrived; thus
establishing beyond all manner of doubt worthy Mr. Dry's collusion in
the visit of the parliamentary commission to the house of Lord Walton.

The next paper, which was the only one now remaining, seemed to puzzle
Captain Barecolt more than even Mr. Dry's list of texts. It was
evidently a paper of memoranda, in his own handwriting, but so brief
that, without some clue, little could be made of it. At the top stood
the name of Hugh O'Donnell; then came the words, "Whose daughter was
her mother?" Below that was written, "Are there any of them living?
What's the county? Ulster, it would seem? Sequestrated? or attainted?
Where did the money come from? How much a-year? What will he take?"

Bearing this away, after having made another search in the bag, and
thrown it down upon the scattered articles of clothing which remained
upon the floor, worthy Captain Barecolt retrod his steps to the room
of Arrah Neil, and there, with the fair girl herself, and the worthy
landlady, he pored over the paper, and endeavoured to gain some
further insight into its meaning.

Conjectures enough were formed, but with them we will not trouble the
reader. Suffice it that Captain Barecolt determined to copy the paper,
which being done, he replaced it with Mr. Dry's apparel in that worthy
gentleman's bags, and then left him to sleep off his drunkenness,
wishing him heartily that sort of sickening headache which is the
usual consequence of such intemperance as he had indulged in that
night.

To Arrah Neil he subsequently explained, that his various avocations
in the town of Hull would give him enough to do during the following
day, but that he did hope and trust, about midnight, or very early the
next morning, to be able to guide her safely forth from the gates of
the town, together with a friend of his who, he explained to her, was
still a captive in the hands of the governor.

After bidding her adieu, he descended once more to the little parlour
of Mrs. White, and there held a long and confidential conference with
her regarding his proceedings on the following day. He found the good
lady all that he could have desired, a staunch royalist at heart, and
thoroughly acquainted with the character, views, and principles of a
multitude of the officers and soldiers of the train-bands. She told
him whom he could depend upon, and whom he could not; where, when, and
how they were to be found, and what were the best means of rendering
them accessible to his solicitations. She also furnished him with the
address of Mr. Hugh O'Donnell, and having gained all this information,
the worthy captain retired to bed to rise prepared for action on the
following day.

Profound were his slumbers. No dream shook the long and cumbrous body
that lay there, like some colossal column fallen on the sands of the
desert, and he scarcely moved or stirred a finger till the young
Morning peeped with her grey eye in at the window, when up he started,
rubbing his head, and exclaiming--"There's the trumpet, by----!"

It was the first vision he had had; but in a moment or two he was wide
awake again, and, remembering his appointment with the governor of
Hull, he plunged his head into cold water, wiped it with the towels
provided, drew, his beard into a neat point, and, putting on his
clothes, again descended to seek for some breakfast before he set out.

He had not got through half the flagon of beer, however, nor
demolished above a pound of beef, when Captain Jenkins arrived, and
found him speaking execrable English to Nancy, in order to hurry her
with some fried eggs, which she was preparing as an addition to the
meal.

"Begar, I never vas see such voman as de English cooks! Dem can no
more make de omlet dan dey can fly. Vait but von leetle meenute, my
dear Captain Jenkin, and I go vid you."

"I can't wait," said Captain Jenkins, in a rough tone; "it's time to
be there now. If you had lodged at the 'Rose,' we should not have had
half so far to go."

"Ah, dat is very true! dat is very true!" cried Barecolt. "I lodge
dere anoder time; but if ye must go, vy den here goes," and putting
the tankard to his mouth, with one long and prodigious draught he
brought the liquor within to the bottom.

Being then once more conducted to the presence of the governor, he was
detained some little time, while Sir John gave various orders and
directions, and then set out with him upon a tour of the
fortifications, followed, as we have represented the party, by three
soldiers, Captain Jenkins having been dismissed for the time. If
Barecolt, however, had won upon the governor during their first
interview, on this second occasion he ingratiated himself still
further with the worthy officer. Nor, indeed, was it without cause
that Barecolt rose high in the opinion of Sir John, for he had his own
sense of what was honest and right, though it was a somewhat twisted
and perverted one, and he would not, on any account, so long as his
advice was asked, and likely to be taken, have given wrong and
dangerous counsel upon the pretence of friendship and service.

He pointed out, then, to the governor, with great shrewdness and
discrimination, numerous weak points in the defences, gave him various
hints for strengthening them without the loss of much time; and, while
pausing before the block-house in which he knew Lord Beverley was
confined, he drew upon the ground the plan of a small fort, which he
showed the governor might be very serviceable in the defence of the
town upon the river side.

Having now gone nearly half round the walls, and being pressed by
hunger as much as business, Sir John returned to break his fast, and
once more placed Captain Barecolt under the guidance of Jenkins;
adding a hint, however, to the latter, that his suspicions of the
Frenchman were removed, and that every assistance was to be given him
in carrying into execution the suggestions he had made.

Barecolt's difficulty now was, how to get rid of his companion; but as
the citizen-soldier was somewhat pursy and heavy in his temperament,
our worthy friend contrived, in the space of a few hours, to cast him
into such a state of perspiration and fatigue, by rapid motion from
one part of the town to the other, that he was ready to drop. In the
course of these perambulations, he led him, as we have seen, once more
past the block-house, in order to confer for a moment with Lord
Beverley; after which he brought him dexterously into the
neighbourhood of his own dwelling, and then told him if he would go
and get his dinner, while he did the same, they would meet again in
two hours at a spot which he named.

The proposal was a blessed relief to the captain of the train-bands,
who internally promised himself to take very good care to give the
long-legged Frenchman as little of his company as possible.

Barecolt, however, though his appetite, as the reader knows, was of a
capacious and ever-ready kind, sacrificed inclination to what he
considered duty, and hastened, without breaking bread, to seek two of
those persons whom Mrs. White had pointed out to him as worthy of all
confidence, and likely to engage in the adventure which he had in
hand.

He had some difficulty, however, in making the first of these, who was
an ancient of the train-bands, and well affected to the king, repose
any trust in him--for the man was prudent, and somewhat suspicious by
nature, and he entertained shrewd doubts as to the honesty, of Captain
Barecolt's purpose towards him. He shook his head, assumed a blank and
somewhat unmeaning countenance, vowed he did not understand, and when
the worthy captain spoke more plainly, told him that he had better
take care how he talked such stuff in Hull.

On this hint Barecolt withdrew, suspecting that the information he had
received from his landlady was not the most accurate in the world. He
resolved, however, to make another effort, and try to gain assistance
from the second person she had mentioned, though he, having displayed
his loyalty somewhat too openly, was not one to be placed in a
situation of confidence by the officers of the parliament.

The abode of this man, who was a sign-painter by trade, named Falgate,
was with much difficulty discovered up two pair of stairs in a back
street; but when Captain Barecolt had climbed to his high dwelling, he
found a personage of a frank and joyful countenance hewing away at the
remain of a leg of mutton on a large wooden trencher, and washing his
food down with copious draughts of very good beer. His propensity
towards these creature-comforts was a favourable omen in the eyes of
our worthy captain; but he was joyfully surprised when good Diggory
Falgate started up, with his mouth all shining with mutton fat, and
embraced him heartily, exclaiming, "Welcome, my noble captain! I have
been expecting you this last hour."

He proceeded, however, speedily to explain that he had looked in at
the "Swan" a short time before to take his morning draught, and that
the good landlady had given him information of Captain Barecolt's
character and objects.

With him all arrangements were very easy. Diggory Falgate was ready
for any enterprise that might present itself; and, with the gay and
dashing spirit which reigned amongst Cavaliers of high and low degree,
he was just as willing to walk up to a cannon's mouth in the service
of the king as to a tankard of strong waters on his own behalf, to cut
down a Roundhead, to make love to a pretty maiden, to spend his money,
or to sing his song.

"Ha! ha! ha!" he exclaimed, as Barecolt intimated to him the rebuff
that he met with from the ancient of the train-bands; "Billy Hazard is
a cunning rogue. I'll bet you a pint of sack that he thought you some
Roundhead come to take him in. Stay here, stay here, and finish my
tankard for me. I'll run and fetch him, and you will soon see a
difference."

Barecolt willingly agreed to play the part his companion proposed, and
before he had made free more than twice with the large black jug that
graced his new friend's table, Falgate had himself returned, followed
by his more sedate and cautious acquaintance.

"Here he is, here he is! as wise as a whipping-post," exclaimed the
sign-painter, "which receives all the lashes, and never says a word.
There sits Captain Barecolt, ancient Hazard; so to him, and tell him
what you would do to serve the king."

"A great deal," replied Hazard. "I beg your pardon, sir, for giving
you such a rough answer just now, but I did not know you."

"Always be cautious, always be cautious, mine ancient," replied
Barecolt; "so will you be a general in time, and a good one; but now
let us to business as fast as possible. You must know that there's a
prisoner----"

"Ay, I know, in the block-house," cried Diggory Falgate, "and he is to
be taken out to-night. Isn't it so, noble captain? Now, I'll bet you
three radishes to a dozen of crowns that this is some man of great
consequence."

Barecolt nodded his head.

"Is it the king?" asked Falgate, in a whisper.

"Phoo, nonsense!" cried Barecolt. "The king's at the head of his army,
and, before ten days are over, will march into Hull with drum and
colours, will hang the governor, disband the garrison, and overthrow
the walls. Why, the place can no more hold out against the power that
the king has, than a fresh egg can resist the side of a frying-pan.
No; this gentleman is a man of the greatest consequence, in whom the
king places vast reliance, and he must be got out at all risks. If you
can but get rid of that cursed guard, if it be but for ten minutes, I
will do all the rest."

"That will be no difficult matter," replied Hazard, after thinking for
a moment. "Here, Diggory and I will manage all that; but how will you
get him out of the town when you've done?"

"That's all arranged already," replied Barecolt: "I have a pass for
visiting the walls and gates at any hour between sunrise and sunset,
to inspect and repair the fortifications, forsooth I will manage the
whole of that matter; but how will you contrive to get away the
guard?"

Diggory and his companion consulted for a moment together, and at
length the former clapped his hands, exclaiming, "That will do! that
will do! Hark ye, Captain Barecolt! we are not particularly strict
soldiers here, and I will get the fellow away to drink with me."

"He won't do it!" exclaimed Barecolt. "It's death by the law."

"Then I'll quarrel with him," replied Diggory; "and in either case up
comes mine ancient here, rates him soundly, relieves him of his guard,
sends him back to the guardhouse, and bids him order down the next
upon the roll. In the mean while you get your man out, and away with
him, locking the door behind you; and no one knows anything of the
matter."

"It will do! it will do!" cried Barecolt; and after some further
conversation, in which all the particulars of their plan were
arranged, Barecolt took his leave, appointing them to meet him at the
"Swan" that night towards ten o'clock, and proceeded on his way to
seek out the house of Mr. Hugh O'Donnell.



                            CHAPTER XXII.


There was a long row of sheds at the far end of the town of Hull, open
towards the Humber, and enclosed on three sides towards the town. A
little patch of green lay on one side the city wall; on the other,
between the sheds and the river, ran a small footpath, and behind rose
a good-looking dwelling of two stories high. With a quick but quiet
step--unusually quiet, indeed, for he generally displayed his high
opinion of himself in the elasticity of his toes--Captain Barecolt
pursued the little path till he came in front of the sheds, and then
paused to reconnoitre the ground.

He first looked into the open side of the buildings; but nothing did
he see only sundry stockfish hanging up in rows by the tails, together
with a heap of coals in one corner, and two large bales or packages
covered with canvass in another. He then looked over the Humber, where
the sun was struggling with some misty clouds, gilding the sky, and
glittering on the calm, unruffled waters. There was nothing of great
importance to be discovered on that side either, and the only object
that seemed to attract the attention of the worthy captain was the top
of a boat's mast, which rose over the bank between him and the river.

As soon as he perceived it, he turned an ear in that direction, and
thought he heard people speaking, upon which he advanced quietly to
the top of the bank and looked down. There was a man in the boat,
apparently about to push off, and another standing on the shore,
giving him some directions; and the first sight of the latter showed
our friend that he had not mistaken his way; for there he beheld the
stout, tall, good-looking elderly man whom he had seen with Mrs. White
on the preceding evening.

His back was turned to Captain Barecolt, and, as the latter stood
waiting till the boat had pushed off, he heard him say, "Well, don't
make a noise about it. Do everything easily and quietly."

The man in the boat, however, at once caught a sight of the intruder
upon their conversation, and pointed towards him with his hand, upon
which Mr. Hugh O'Donnell turned quickly round, with an inquiring and
somewhat stern expression, and then advanced straight up to Captain
Barecolt, while the boat rowed away.

"Pray, sir, are you wanting me?" demanded Mr. O'Donnell, with
a strong touch of that peculiar percussion of the breath which has
acquired--why or wherefore who can tell?--the name of "brogue,"
regarding the captain, at the same time, with not the most amicable
glance in the world.

"Yes, Master O'Donnell," replied Barecolt, in good plain English, "I
am wanting you; and by your leave we must have a little conversation
together."

Hugh O'Donnell gazed at him with some surprise, for he recollected him
well as the French officer who had visited the sign of the "Swan" on
the preceding evening; but he was a cautious man, notwithstanding his
Milesian blood, long accustomed to deal with somewhat dangerous
affairs, and well aware that the most indiscreet of all passions is
surprise; and therefore, without appearing to recognise his visiter,
he said, "If our conversation is to be at all long, sir, it had better
be within doors than without."

"It may be long," replied Barecolt, drily; "and yet it cannot be very
long, for I have not too much time to spare; but, whether long or
short, it had better be where we can have no eaves-droppers, Mr.
O'Donnell; and so we will walk in."

Barecolt followed him to the house, where a clean and respectable old
woman-servant was seen sanding the floor of a parlour, the boards of
which were scrubbed to a marvellous whiteness, though the walls, to
say the truth, were somewhat dingy, and a strong flavour of tobacco
smoke rather detracted from the purity of the air. That odour,
however, was no objection to the nose of Captain Barecolt, who cast
himself into a chair, while the master of the mansion sent away the
servant and closed the door.

As soon as this process was complete, the worthy captain fixed his
eyes upon Mr. O'Donnell, and demanded, "You recollect me, of course,
sir?"

"I think I have seen your face somewhere," replied the Irishman; "but,
Lord love you! I never recollect anything after it is over. It's
better not, sir. I make life a ready-money business, and keep neither
receipts nor bills."

"Quite right, Mr. O'Donnell," replied Captain Barecolt; "but yet I
think I must get you to draw a draft upon the past. That word or two
from Mrs. White will tell you what it is about;" and he handed his
companion across the little round oaken table a small bit of paper.

O'Donnell took it, read the contents, and then mused for a minute or
two, tapping the table with his fingers.

"Well, sir," he said, at length, "what is it you want to know?"

"All that you can tell me about the young lady whom they call Arrah
Neil."

"Oh, sir, I will tell you all I know about her in a minute," replied
the other; "he is now at the 'Swan,' Mrs. White's own house, under
the care--or, if you like it better, in the hands of a very reverend
gentleman called Master Dry of Longsoaken."

"That won't do, Mr. O'Donnell--that won't do," exclaimed Barecolt.
"What I want to know is about the past--not the present--of which I
know more than you do, Mr. O'Donnell."

"I never seek to know anything of other people's business," replied
O'Donnell, drily. "I have enough to do to attend to my own."

"Which is the supplying Roman Catholic gentry with salt fish for fast
days, together with beads, missals, crucifixes, and other little
trinkets for private use," answered Barecolt, who had been using his
eyes and forming his own conclusions from numerous indications
apparently trifling.

O'Donnell, without any change of expression, gazed at him gravely, and
the captain continued--"But that is nothing to the purpose, my good
friend. I see you are a prudent man, and I dare say you have cause to
be so. However, I will tell you why I inquire; and then we will see
whether you will not be kind enough to a poor young lady to give her
some information concerning her own affairs, of which, from the death
of poor old Sergeant Neil, and his papers having been carried off by
this old puritanical hunks Dry, she has been kept in ignorance. You
must know that this young lady has found great and powerful friends in
the Lord Walton and his sister."

"Then why did they suffer her to fall into this man's hands?" demanded
O'Donnell.

"Because they could not prevent it," replied Barecolt; and he went on
to give a full account of the march from Bishop's Merton and the
skirmish which had taken place upon the road, with all of which we
need not trouble the reader, whose imagination can supply or not, as
it pleases, Captain Barecolt's account of his own deeds of arms. From
those deeds, after due commemoration, he went on to speak of Lord
Walton's anxiety for poor Arrah Neil's safety; and though we cannot
presume to say his tale was plain or unvarnished either, yet there was
enough of truth about it to make some change in Mr. O'Donnell's views.

"Where is Lord Walton to be found?" demanded the latter.

"He is with the king at Nottingham," answered Barecolt. "Well then,
he shall hear from me before long," replied O'Donnell.

"You had better let me bear him your message, my good sir," said the
captain. "You may judge, from my being entrusted here with such
important business, that I am one in whom you may place the most
unlimited confidence."

"Perhaps so, sir," answered O'Donnell; "but if I were such a fool or
such a scoundrel as to betray other people's secrets, how should I
expect that you would keep them?"

"That is very true," rejoined Barecolt; "but if you do not tell them
to me, and help me too to get the young lady out of this town of Hull,
you will be compelled to tell them to her enemies, and may make her
situation a great deal worse than it is now."

"They can't compel me; I defy them!" cried O'Donnell, sharply; "and
help you to get her out of Hull I will with all my heart, but how is
that to be done?" The next moment he asked, in a meditative tone,
"What makes you think they will ask me any questions?"

"I not only think they will ask you questions, Mr. O'Donnell, but I
will tell you what those questions will be," replied the captain; and
taking a paper from his pocket he went on: "Before many hours are over
you will have Mr. Dry himself here, and perhaps the justices, if not
the governor, and you will be asked, 'Whose daughter was her
mother?--are any of her family living?--in what county?--in
Ulster?--whether the estates were sequestrated or the blood
attainted?--where the money came from you used to send to poor Neil,
and how much it was a-year?'"

"Oh, by----, they must have got hold of a good clue!" exclaimed
O'Donnell, with more agitation than he had hitherto displayed.

"That they have, Master O'Donnell," replied Barecolt; "but if Dry
comes alone, as he will most likely do at first, he will ask you one
other question before he tries to force you, and that is: how much you
will take to tell him the whole story, that he may possess himself of
the property and force the poor child into marrying him."

"Ay, he's a reasonable man, I dare say, Master Dry," replied the
Irishman, with a sarcastic smile; "but he will find himself mistaken:
and, as to forcing me, they can't! Moreover, for your own questions,
good sir, all I shall say; is this: that you may tell Lord Walton that
he must take care of this poor young lady."

"That he is willing enough to do without my telling," answered
Barecolt.

"Ay, but he must take care of her like the apple of his eye," replied
O'Donnell; "for if any harm happen to her he will never forgive
himself. He is a kind, good man--is he not?"

"As gallant a cavalier as ever lived," said Barecolt.

"And young?" demanded O'Donnell.

"Some seven or eight-and-twenty, I should guess," was the answer.

The master of the house mused.

"That may be fortunate or unfortunate, as it happens," he said at
length; "at all events he ought to have intimation of what he is
doing. Tell him that he shall hear more from me very shortly--as soon
as possible--as soon as I can get leave: and now to speak of how to
get her out of Hull."

"But will you not let me tell Lord Walton who she is?" demanded
Barecolt.

"If Sergeant Neil has told him anything already--well," replied
O'Donnell; "if not, he shall hear more soon; but at all events tell
him to cherish and protect her as he would one of his own kindred; for
if he do not, and have any more heart than a stone, he will repent it
bitterly. No more on that head, master: now for your plans."

"Why, Master O'Donnell," replied Captain Barecolt, "my plans, like
your secrets, are my own; and I do not tell them easily, especially
when I get nothing in return."

"But you said you wished me to help you to get the young lady out of
Hull," rejoined O'Donnell. "How am I to do so without knowing what you
intend to do?"

"I will show you in a minute, Master O'Donnell," replied Barecolt.
"What I need is horse flesh; and as far as I can see, very little of it
is to be found in Hull. The governor walks afoot; the officers of the
garrison, such as it is, trudge upon their own legs; and I have seen
nothing with four feet but sundry cats, half-a-dozen dogs, and every
now and then a fat horse in a coal-cart. I want beasts to carry us,
Master O'Donnell; that is my need: and if you can find means to
furnish us with them, I will contrive to get the young lady out."

"Oh, there are plenty of horses in Hull," answered O'Donnell; "but how
did you come hither?"

"By sea," replied his companion; "but that matters not. If you can
bring or send three good horses, one with a woman's saddle, to the
first village on the road to York--I forget the name of the place--you
will do me a service, aid poor Arrah Neil, and be well paid for your
pains."

"To Newlands, you mean," said O'Donnell; "but Newlands is a long way
for you to go on foot. 'Tis more than two miles, and if you are caught
you are lost. Stay--there is a little low ale-house by the green side,
just a mile from the town gates. The horses shall be there; but at
what time?"

"Some time before daybreak to-morrow," replied Barecolt; "for as soon
as I see the first ray of the sun, I am off with my companions."

"Have you more than one?" demanded the Irishman.

"The lady--and a gentleman, a friend of mine," answered the worthy
captain; "otherwise I should not have wanted three horses."

"But how will you pass the gates?" inquired the other; "they are very
strict at that side, for they fear enterprises from York."

"There's my key," replied Barecolt, producing the governor's pass;
"but, for fear it should not fit the lock, Master O'Donnell, I shall
try it five or six times before nightfall. What I mean is, that I will
go out and in several times, that the people may know my face."

His companion gazed at the pass, and then at Captain Barecolt for
several moments, wondering not a little what might be the real
character of his visiter, and what were the means by which he had
contrived to obtain the document which he spread before him. There it
was, however, not to be doubted--a genuine order under Sir John
Hotham's own hand, for the sentries, guards, warders, and officers of
all kinds of the town of Hull, to give free passage, at any hour
between daybreak and nightfall, to Captain François Jersval, and the
workmen employed by him to inspect and repair the fortifications of
the city, and to offer him no let or hindrance, but rather afford him
every aid and assistance.

"And now, Master O'Donnell," continued Barecolt, observing with a
certain degree of pride that he had succeeded in puzzling his
companion, "let us speak about the price of these horses."

"That I cannot tell till I buy them," replied O'Donnell, "but I shall
see you to-night at the 'Swan,' and we can settle that matter then."

"Perhaps I shall be out," answered Barecolt, recollecting his
engagement with Hazard and Falgate.

"Well, then, I will wait till you return," replied O'Donnell; "but in
the mean time I must get the horses out before the gates close
to-night. To what price would you like to go for the two?"

"I said three, Master O'Donnell," exclaimed Barecolt; "pray, do not be
short of the number."

"No, no," replied the other; "there shall be three; but I will pay for
the young lady's horse. I have money in hand that should have gone to
poor old Neil; but when I wrote about it he did not answer."

"Dead men seldom do," said Barecolt; "but as to the price--there is no
use of buying anything very beautiful for me. My own chargers are of
the finest breed in Europe, between a Turkish courser and a powerful
Norman mare; but as I don't want these horses that I now bespeak for
battle, all that is needful will be to see that they be good strong
beasts, willing to work for a day or two. But one thing that is to be
remembered, Mr. O'Donnell, is, that if you do come up to the 'Swan'
seeking me, you are only to know me as 'de Capitaine Jersval, one
French officier, who be come to help de governeur to put de
fortification in de repair.'"

"And pray, sir, what is your real name?" asked O'Donnell, with an air
of simplicity.

"What is Arrah Neil's?" rejoined Barecolt; and, both laughing, they
separated for the time, without affording each other any further
information.



                            CHAPTER XXIII.


Poor Arrah Neil had passed an anxious and uneasy day, for, though the
knowledge that she had a friend so near, ready to aid her in her
escape, had proved no slight consolation, and though hope, of course,
magnified Captain Barecolt's powers, and elevated his qualities far
beyond their real extent, yet suspense is always full of terrors, and
Fear usually treads close upon the steps of Hope. Ezekiel Dry had also
suffered all those blessed results which intemperance is sure to
entail; and having lain in his bed for several hours after the whole
town was up and stirring, with sick stomach and aching head, he rose,
declaring that something he had eaten at dinner had disagreed with
him, and that he must have a small portion of strong waters to promote
digestion. He was as morose, too, through the whole day, as a sick
tiger, and would not stir beyond the doors till after he had dined. He
was angry with the maid, rude to the landlady, assuring her that she
was "a vessel of wrath;" and above all, irritable and even fierce with
Arrah Neil.

Though it is probable that he had no cause of any kind for suspicion,
yet his mind was in that state of sullen discontent from bodily
suffering that gives rise to incessant jealousy. He prowled about the
door of her room; sent for her twice down to the little parlour,
between breakfast and dinner; looked out whenever he heard a door
open; and twice stopped Mrs. White when she was going upstairs, upon
the pretence of asking some question. The last time this occurred, his
inquiry once more was after Mr. Hugh O'Donnell.

"Really, sir, I have not been able to hear," replied Mrs. White; "but
I dare say the governor, Sir John, could tell you."

"That will not do, woman," replied Mr. Dry, pettishly: "I only seek to
hold communion with the godly of the land. How can I tell that Sir
John Hotham is any better than an uncircumcised Philistine? Though he
have taken a part with the righteous in behalf of this poor country,
peradventure it may be but with an eye to the spoil."

"Goodness, sir! think of what you are saying in Hull!" exclaimed Mrs.
White, giving a glance to some of the bystanders: "you may get
yourself into trouble if you speak so of the governor."

"Nay, woman; am I not called to lift up my voice and spare not?"
rejoined Mr. Dry. "Is this a time for showing a respect to persons?
Verily, I will take up a word against them."

"Well, then, I am sure I will not stay to hear it," replied the
landlady; and away she went, leaving Mr. Dry to finish his exhortation
to the maid, the ostler, and two townsmen, if he chose.

Shortly after, however, the dinner of the guest was served up to him,
and gradually, under its influence, he was restored to a more placable
state of mind, having sought the aid of sundry somewhat potent
libations, which he termed supporting the inner man, but which Mrs.
White denominated taking "a hair of the dog that had bit him."

As soon as he had satisfied both hunger and thirst, Mr. Dry took Arrah
Neil back to her chamber again, and having locked the door, and sought
his hat and cloak in his own room, he walked slowly down the stairs,
resolved to pursue his perquisitions for Mr. Hugh O'Donnell in person;
but, before he reached the door of the "Swan," his tranquillity was
much overset by the entrance of a bold, swaggering, joyous-looking
person, whose very cheerfulness of face was offensive in the sight of
the sour and sober Mr. Dry. He looked at him, then, with a glance of
amazement and reprobation, and then, while our good friend Diggory
Falgate brushed past, raised his eyes towards heaven, as if inquiring
whether such things as a blithe heart and cheerful countenance could
be tolerated on earth.

Falgate immediately caught the look, and, as it unfortunately happened
for Mr. Dry, recollected in him a personage whom he had seen in no
very respectable plight in the streets of Hull the night before. He
instantly paused, then, and bursting into a laugh, began to sing
the well-known old words--older than they are generally supposed to
be--


          My wife Joan's a Presbyterian;
            She won't swear, but she will lie;
          I to the ale-home, she to the tavern;
            She'll get drunk as well as I.


and, ending with another laugh, he walked on to Mrs. White's little
room.

The wrath of Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, was overpowering; but it could
not find vent in words, and after once more lifting up his eyes, and
his hands also, he hurried out of the house, resolved that, if he
staid beyond the following day in Hull, he would quit an inn where
such godless people were permitted to pass the door.

We will not pursue him on his track through the town, but return to
poor Arrah Neil, whose day, as we have said, had passed in anxiety and
pain; and who now sat with her hand beating time upon the table to
some fancied tune, as the sun sank lower and lower, and the hues of
evening began to spread over the sky.

As she thus sat, she saw Mr. Dry walk away from the door, cross over
the street, and enter a house opposite. He turned before he went in,
and looked up at the windows of the "Swan," but Arrah Neil was in one
of those meditative moods, when the spirit seems to be separate from
the body, or scarcely conscious of a connection between the two. She
saw the man she so much hated and despised gaze up to where she was
sitting; but in thinking of him and his baseness, of the power he had
obtained over her, of his perseverance in maintaining that power, of
how she could escape from him, and whither he could now be going--she
seemed to forget altogether that it was upon her his eyes were turned,
and, without moving her place, she remained watching him as if he were
a mere piece of mechanism, whose springs and whose wheels were worthy
of observation, but incapable of observation in return.

It was the best course she could have pursued, though she did so
unconsciously; for, after Mr. Dry had been a minute or two in the
house which he entered, he came out again, and seeing her still
sitting there immoveable, with her eyes fixed upon the same spot, he
muttered, "The girl is a fool, that's clear!" and went on about his
business.

Other eyes had been watching him as well as those of Arrah Neil, and
before he had actually quitted the street the step of Mrs. White was
heard upon the stairs. But ere the good landlady could reach the top,
the voice of Nancy from below, exclaimed, "Here's a gentleman, ma'am,
wants to speak to you!"

Arrah waited for a moment or two, in the hope that the new guest would
depart, and that the hostess would pay her her accustomed visit; for,
in those moments of anxious expectation and suspense, she felt the
presence of any sympathising human creature a benefit and a relief.
But after a while, she turned to gaze from the window again, and
murmured--for she did not sing--some lines of an old song which she
had learned in her infancy. As she thus sat, she heard another step
upon the stairs, slower and more heavy than that of the landlady, and
without giving it a second thought, she returned to sport with her own
fancies, when a key was put into the lock and the door opened.

Arrah Neil started and turned round, and not a little was her surprise
to see a tall, powerful, elderly man, with white hair, and deep blue
eyes, the lashes of which, as well as the eyebrows, were still black,
enter her chamber, fasten the door behind him, and advance towards
her. She was a little frightened, and would have been more so, but
there was a kindly and gentle air in the visiter's countenance which
was not calculated to produce alarm; and as he came nearer, he said,
"I beg your pardon, young lady, but I much wished to see you. I have
not seen you for many a long year, not since you were quite a little
thing."

"Then you knew me in my childhood, sir!" exclaimed Arrah, eagerly,
"and----"

"You may well say that, lady," replied Hugh O'Donnell, before she
could proceed. "These arms were the first that received you when you
set foot upon this shore. Oh! a sorrowful landing it was, and
sorrowful was the fate that followed, and sorrowful were the days that
went before; and there has been little but sorrow since. But good luck
to-morrow, it may bring something brighter, and the sky won't be
overcast for ever, that's impossible."

"Then you are the Mr. O'Donnell of whom Mrs. White has told me." said
Arrah. "Oh, sir! I beseech you, tell me more about myself and my
kindred. Whosoever's child I am, let me know it. If a peasant's, say
so without fear. I would rather cast away the vain but bright dreams
that have haunted me so long, and fix my best affections on the memory
of some good plain people, than have this wild doubt and uncertainty
any longer. Tell me--tell me anything, if it be not disgraceful to the
living or the dead."

"Disgraceful!" cried Hugh O'Donnell; "I should like to hear any man
say that! No, no; there's nothing disgraceful, my darling; but I
cannot and I must not tell you all that I could wish, young lady--not
just at present, that is to say. By-and-by you will hear all."

"And in the mean time what misfortunes may befal me!" said Arrah Neil,
in an earnest tone; "what misfortunes have already befallen me, which
perhaps might have been averted!"

"Why, that is true, too," replied O'Donnell, after a moment's thought;
"and yet it could not be helped. What to do now I cannot rightly tell;
for, from what the good woman below says, old Neil, when he was dying,
wished you to know all."

"I am sure he did," answered the poor girl; "but they had swept the
cottage of everything, and I much fear that the papers he wished me to
have fell into the hands of this old man."

"Ay, you must be got out of his clutches; that's the first thing,"
said O'Donnell. "On my life! if there were anything like law in the
land, we would make him prove before the justices what right he has to
meddle with you. His ward indeed! But, alas! young lady, there is
neither law nor justice left in England, and the simple word of that
crop-eared knave would weigh down a host of what they call malignants.
The only way to follow is, for you to get away secretly, and put
yourself under the care of those who have already been kind to you.
You are very willing to go back to Lord Walton and his sister, I
suppose?"

"Oh, that I am!" exclaimed Arrah Neil, with the warm colour mounting
in her fair cheek; but the next moment she cast her eyes thoughtfully
down, and murmured, "And yet, and yet----"

"Yet what, young lady?" asked O'Donnell, seeing that she did not
conclude the sentence.

"Nothing," replied Arrah Neil: "'tis but a vain regret. When I was in
poverty and beggary they were generous and kind to me; and at times
when I schooled myself to think that such must have been my original
situation, notwithstanding the idle dreams of brighter days that came
back to trouble me, I used to fancy that I could be well content to be
their lowest servant, so that I might follow and be with them always.
But since I came hither, and the memories of the past grew clear, and
the mistress of this house confirmed them, I have been thinking that,
perhaps, before I returned to those two kind and noble friends, I
might learn all my own fate and history, and be able to tell them
that, when they condescended to notice and protect a being so lowly
and humble as I was when they found me, they were unknowingly showing
a kindness to one not so far inferior in blood to themselves as they
imagined."

"And, by the Lord, you shall be able to tell them so!" replied
O'Donnell; "for, proud as they may be, I can tell them----"

"Oh, no!" said Arrah, interrupting him: "they are not proud; neither
was it from any pride that I wished to tell them that poor Arrah Neil
was not the lowly being they had thought; for they were so gentle and
so kind, that dependence on them was sweet; but I wished them to
understand how it was and why that I have been so strange and wild at
times--so thoughtful. And yet there may have been pride," she added,
after a moment's pause, fixing her eyes upon the ground, and speaking
as if to herself. "I would not have him think me so low, so very low.
But you said I should be able to tell them. Speak, speak! let me hear
what it is."

"Well, then," replied Hugh O'Donnell, "you may tell them there is----"

But ere he could go on, Mrs. White ran into the room, exclaiming, "He
is coming! he is coming! Nancy sees him at the end of the street.
Quick! quick! Master O'Donnell!"

"Oh! speak, speak!" cried Arrah.

"I will see you again, dear lady," cried O'Donnell, quickly; "I will
come with the horses myself. But in the meantime this money belongs to
you; it may be needful; it may be serviceable; do not let him see it;"
and, laying a small leathern purse on the table, he hurried towards
the door. Before he quitted the room, however, he turned, and seeing
the poor girl's beautiful eyes filled with tears, he added, "Do not be
afraid; I will see you again before this time to-morrow."

The landlady of the "Swan" and her visiter hurried down to the little
parlour, but, as so often happens when people are taken by surprise,
they made more haste than was necessary; for, whether Mr. Dry of
Longsoaken met with something to detain him, or whether he walked
slowly as he came down the street, he did not make his appearance on
the steps leading up to the inn for several minutes after they had
descended.

"I will speak with this man, Mistress White," said O'Donnel, after a
moment's thought. "Tell him that I have come to see him, that you sent
for me by some one who knew where to find me."

"Are you sure that is a good plan?" asked the landlady. "We want time
to get the young lady away."

"Never fear! never fear!" replied her companion. "I will keep him in
play for a week, if need be."

"Well, well," said Mrs. White; and while O'Donnell took a seat and
leaned his cheek upon his arm as if waiting patiently for some one's
coming, the good landlady bustled about, making a noise amongst
bottles and measures with as unconcerned an air as she could assume.

The next minute Mr. Dry walked solemnly up the four steps which led
from the street to a little flat landing-place of stone, encircled
with an iron railing, which lay without the door; and as soon as he
thus became apparent, Mrs. White ran out of her parlour, exclaiming,
"Sir, Sir! the gentleman you wished to see is come. The man who brings
the eggs called a few minutes ago, and as he knew where to find him, I
bade him tell Mr. O'Donnell to come and see you."

"That was right! that was right!" cried Mr. Dry, his small red eyes
sparkling with satisfaction. "Where is he, Mrs. White?"

"Here, sir, in the bar," answered the landlady; and with a slow and
solemn step, calculating how he was to proceed, and smoothing his face
down to his usual gravity, Mr. Dry walked deliberately into the little
room where Hugh O'Donnell was seated.

"Here is Master Dry, sir," said the hostess, opening the door for him,
but Mr. Dry waved his hand pompously for silence, and then considered
Mr. O'Donnell attentively.

"This good lady tells me you wish to speak with me, sir," said
O'Donnell, after giving the new-comer quite sufficient time to inspect
his countenance; "pray what may be your business with me?"

"It is of a private nature, Master O'Donnell," replied Mr. Dry, "and
may perhaps be better explained at your own house than here, if you
will tell me where that is."

O'Donnell smiled and shook his head. "I am not fond of private
business at my own house, sir," he answered drily. "These are
suspicious times; people will be for calling me a malignant or
something of that kind. I am a plain man, sir; an honest, open
merchant, and not fond of secrets. If you have anything to say, I can
hear it here."

"Well, then, come into this neighbouring room, my good friend,"
replied Dry; "to that you can have no objection; and as to being
charged with malignancy, methinks the conversation of Ezekiel Dry of
Longsoaken would never bring such an accusation upon any man's head."

"I beg your pardon, sir; I did not know you," replied O'Donnell,
following towards the little room where Mr. Dry had dined after his
first arrival. "I have heard of you from the people of Bishop's
Merton, whom I occasionally supply with dry beef and neats' tongues
from Hamburgh."

"Pray be seated, Master O'Donnell," said Mr. Dry closing the door
carefully after they had entered; and then, taking a chair opposite to
his companion, he went on to speak as follows, interrupting his
discourse with sundry hems and haws, which gave him time both to think
of what he was next to say, and to examine the countenance of
O'Donnell as he proceeded.

"You must know, Mr. O'Donnell," he said, "that, after the death of a
certain old man--a clear and undoubted malignant--named Sergeant
Neil--hum!--with whom I think you have had a good deal to do--ha!"

"Very little, sir," replied O'Donnell, as he paused: "I had to pay him
some money every year sent to me by my correspondents beyond sea. I
should think the man was somewhat of a malignant from some of his
letters on the receipt."

"Verily was he, and a most ferocious one too," replied Mr. Dry; "but
after the death of this person, I, with the consent and appointment of
the authorities--hum!--took upon me the care and protection of the
girl supposed to be his grand-daughter--hum!--his grand-daughter, as
she was called--I say, Master O'Donnell--ha!"

"Very kind of you indeed, sir," answered O'Donnell--"especially as
old Neil could not die rich."

"As poor as a rat," replied Mr. Dry, emphatically. "Pray what was it
you paid him per annum, Master O'Donnell?"

"About fifty pounds a-year, as far as I recollect," said O'Donnell;
"but I cannot tell till I look in my books."

"That was but a small sum," rejoined Dry, "for taking care of this
girl, when her family are so wealthy and the estates so great--ha!"

"Are they, sir?" asked O'Donnell in an indifferent tone, "Pray,
whereabouts do they lie?"

"Come, come, Master O'Donnell," said Mr. Dry, with a significant nod;
"you know more than you pretend to know--hum! We have found letters
and papers--hum!--which show that you have full information--ha!--and
it is necessary that you should speak openly with me--hum! Do you
understand me?--ha!"

"Oh! I understand quite well, sir," replied O'Donnell, not in the
least discomposed: "my letters were all upon business. I sent the
money--I announced the sending--I asked for my receipts; and, whenever
there was a word or two sent over for us to forward, such as, 'All is
well,' 'Things going on better,' or anything of that sort, I wrote
them down just as I received them, without troubling my head about
what they referred to."

Mr. Dry was somewhat puzzled how to proceed--whether to take the high
and domineering tone that he had often found very successful at
Bishop's Merton, or to cajole and bribe, as he had had occasion to do
at other times; but, after a little reflection, he determined that the
latter would be the best course at first, as he could always have
recourse to the former, which, if employed too soon and without due
caution, might lead to more publicity than was at all desirable.

"Now listen to me, Master O'Donnell," he said at length: "you are a
wise man and prudent, not to confide your secrets to strangers, but it
is of vast importance that the true rank, station, fortune, family,
and connections of this young woman should be clearly ascertained; and
though, perhaps, you may not like to say at once, 'I know this,' or 'I
know that,' yet I ask you, can you not secretly and quietly, get me
information upon all these matters, if I make it worth your while to
take the trouble--well worth your while--very well worth your while?"

"That is another matter," answered O'Donnell; "quite another matter,
sir; but the question is, what would make it worth my while? I'm a
merchant, sir; and we must make it a matter of trade."

Mr. Dry pondered; but, before he could answer, Mr. O'Donnell added,
"Come, Master Dry; let me hear distinctly what it is you want to know,
and then I can better judge how much it is worth."

"That I will tell you immediately," rejoined Mr. Dry, feeling in his
pocket; and at length drawing forth the bundle of papers which Captain
Barecolt had examined the night before, he began to read. "'Habakkuk
ii. 5. Yea, also, because he transgresseth by wine'--no, that is not
it; and, besides, it was not wine but strong waters. Ah! here it
is;" and he proceeded to address to his companion the series of
questions which the worthy captain above-named had warned Mr.
O'Donnell would be propounded to him.

"A goodly list!" said the Irishman, in a tone that Mr. Dry did not
think very promising; but he went on immediately to add: "Well, I
think all this information I could obtain if it were made worth my
while, and a great deal more too; but you see, Mr. Dry, this is purely
a mercantile transaction: you come to me for information as for
goods."

"Certainly, certainly," replied he of Longsoaken; "It is all a matter
of trade."

"Well, then," continued O'Donnell, "I must know to what market you
intend to take the goods."

"I do not understand," said Mr. Dry.

"I'll I'll explain it to you in a moment," replied the other; "I mean,
what is your object? If it should be shown that the girl is different
from what she seems--if fair and probable prospects of money and such
good things should spring up--what do you intend to do with her?"

"That is a question I have not yet considered with due deliberation
and counsel," replied Mr. Dry.

"But it is one well worth consideration," answered his companion. "In
a word, Master Dry, do you intend to put the girl and her property
under the protection, as it is called, of the law, or to give her
another protector--your son, or yourself perhaps?"

"What if I say to put her under the protection of the law?"

"Then I say you're a great goose for your pains," replied O'Donnell,
rising; "and I'm afraid we can't deal. The law is a bad paymaster, and
does not make it worth men's while to do it service, or take trouble
for it, and this would cost me a great deal of pains and work. Now, if
you had made up your mind to marry her quietly and secretly to your
son, or any near relation, it would be a different affair, and you
would not mind giving a good per-centage."

"I have no son--I have no relations," replied Dry, somewhat pettishly;
"but I shall not mind giving a good per-centage notwithstanding."

"Then of course you intend to marry her yourself," said O'Donnell.
"Well, that being the case, I will go home and consider between this
and this hour to-morrow what I will take. I must make my calculations,
for I am a man of my word, and like to know exactly what a thing is
worth before I put a price upon it; but by this time to-morrow I will
tell you; so good-morning, Mr. Dry: it is getting late."

"But where shall I find you? where shall I find you?" asked Mr. Dry,
as the other moved towards the door.

"Oh, Mrs. White will send a boy with you," replied O'Donnell; "she
knows where it is now: good afternoon;" and issuing forth, he spoke a
word or two to the landlady, and then quitted the house, murmuring,
"The old snake! I know them, those canting vipers--I know them!"



                            CHAPTER XXIV.


It was ten o'clock at night; the town was dark and silent; the streets
empty, and the windows generally closed, when Diggory Falgate advanced
with a light gay step through various narrow ways towards the
block-house where the Earl of Beverley was confined. He was followed
at the distance of about a hundred yards by Ancient Hazard of the
train-bands, and a short distance behind him came Captain Barecolt,
with the silent step but wide stride of one well accustomed to
dangerous enterprises.

The foremost of the party, we have said, advanced lightly and gaily,
with that sort of braggadocio air which characterized the Cavaliers in
almost all their undertakings, and which, or rather the foolish
self-confidence of which it was the mere outward expression, ruined so
many of their best concerted plans. Ancient Hazard, however, as he
walked along, displayed a very different aspect. He was somewhat
afraid of the business in hand; and, though resolved to carry it
through, his head turned almost involuntarily to the right or left at
every step, thinking that some one must be watching him, though the
only suspicions that existed anywhere regarding his conduct were those
in his own heart. Barecolt, on the contrary, though as likely as any
man, from natural disposition, to make as much noise about whatever he
did as was necessary, was too much habituated to enterprises of this
kind to be particularly excited on the occasion, and his vanity took
the direction of affecting to look upon it as a matter of course, so
commonplace and easy that it allowed him to think of anything else;
and he therefore followed with his eyes bent upon the ground,
noticing, apparently, nothing that passed around him.

The first, and indeed only, obstruction that presented itself to their
progress towards the block-house was offered by the watch, who,
encountering good Diggory Falgate, carrying, it must be remarked, a
small bundle under his arm, and not particularly approving of the
jaunty air with which he gave them good-night, thought fit to stop
him, and, in Shakspere's words, "prate of his whereabout."

Falgate was always ready to cry clubs, and strongly disposed to resist
the watch when it could be done with the slightest probability of
success; so that a very pretty quarrel was commencing, which might
soon have conveyed him to prison, or the cage, had not Hazard come to
his support, and informed the worthy guardians of the night that the
captive in their hands was his poor neighbour Falgate the painter, who
was not an ill-disposed man, though somewhat inclined to moisten his
clay with more than a sufficient quantity of strong beer; and he
moreover hinted that such might be the case on that very night.

This assurance proved so far satisfactory that the watch thought fit
to let him go with a suitable admonition, and Hazard, acting his part
better when he grew warm in the matter, bade Diggory, in a rough tone,
go on about his business and not make broils in the streets, or he
would get himself into mischief.

This said, the whole party proceeded on their way, resuming as soon as
possible the same order of march as before, Captain Barecolt, with his
grave and serious demeanour, passing the watch without question.

About five minutes after, Diggory emerged into the open space by the
river side, and advancing straight towards the block-house, entered
into conversation with the guard. What was said at first was in a low
tone, but presently the sound of the voices grew louder and louder;
angry words reached the corner of the street behind which Ancient
Hazard had concealed himself; and, running across, he came up just in
time to prevent the sentinel from knocking down the painter with the
butt-end of his piece.

The plan agreed upon was now fully carried out: the ancient of the
train-bands, while threatening Falgate sharply with the stocks and the
prison, was still more severe upon the sentinel, and commanded him
immediately to march back to the guard-house and send down the next
man upon the roll. He would keep guard while the other was gone, he
said, and the man, giving up his musket, walked away proceeding about
fifty yards towards the opposite buildings before he recollected the
orders of the governor, to keep all persons at a distance from the
spot where he was in conference with the prisoner. He accordingly
paused, and Hazard, who had been watching him closely, walked up,
asking why he stopped when he had orders to go straight to the
guard-house. The man excused himself, and transmitted the commands he
had received from the governor, upon which his ancient desired him to
go on, returning slowly towards the block-house.

"By this time, however, Barecolt had run across in the darkness from
the mouth of the opposite street, and, with Falgate behind him, was
groping over the door for the key which he had seen in the lock on the
preceding morning. He found the keyhole, however, untenanted, and at
that moment the exclamation burst from his lips which had so much
alarmed Sir John Hotham.

"They have taken the key out," he cried; "curse me if I don't force
the lock off with my dagger!" and he was proceeding to act
accordingly, when, to his surprise, the door was opened, the light
broke forth from within, and Lord Beverley suddenly clapped his hand
upon his mouth, whispering, "Not a word of recognition!" Then, in a
louder tone, he demanded, "Whom and what do you seek here, sir!"

Barecolt for a single instant was puzzled as to whether he should
speak French or English; but Lord Beverley had used nothing but the
latter tongue, and he replied in the same, while with open eyes he
seemed to demand further explanation, "I was seeking some one whom it
seems I am not likely to find."

"You may look in, sir; you will see no one here," answered the earl;
and Barecolt gave a hurried look around, saw the curtain of the bed on
the opposite side drawn forward, and with a wink of the eye gave the
royal officer to understand that he began to comprehend.

"That is enough," continued the earl, assuming somewhat suddenly a
foreign accent; "you are now satisfied; go away."

Barecolt instantly withdrew a step; but the earl followed him, and
added, in a whisper, "You seem at liberty--I shall be so soon--out of
the town as fast as you can, and either wait for me on the road to
York, as near as is safe, or tell the king all that has happened, and
that I will rejoin him speedily, I trust, with good news."

Thus saying, he drew back, shut the door, and locked it, as before, in
the inside.

Captain Barecolt laid his finger on the side of his nose. "Here is
something going on here," he said to himself. "Well, I will obey
orders: it is not my fault if his lordship will not get out of the
mousetrap. Now, Master Falgate, now, Master Hazard, let us be off as
fast as we can to the 'Swan.'"

"I must stay here till the guard comes," answered Hazard, in a low
tone. "Why, what is all this? The sentry said something about the
governor. Will not the prisoner come out?"

"No," replied Barecolt; "he would rather stay in: nevertheless, as he
is a wise man, Master Hazard, doubtless he has his reasons. Well,
follow us to the 'Swan' as quickly as you can, and we will talk more."

"I will--I will," answered Hazard; "away with you, quick! if any one
were to come and find you here with me, I were ruined."

Barecolt and Falgate hurried on, and in about five minutes reached the
"Swan," the door of which was partly shut; but the moment they
approached, the servant-girl, Nancy, put forth her head, saying, "Go
up to your room, sir, quick; the old man is below--Dame White told me
to say so."

"Thanks, Nancy!" replied Barecolt; and, contriving to conceal his face
with his cloak, he crossed the passage, and, followed by Falgate,
walked up the stairs. In the room of the worthy captain they found a
light burning, and Falgate, laying down his bundle upon the table,
asked, "Well, sir, what is the matter? Where does the pulley hitch?
When men have the door open, why won't they walk out?"

"Good faith! I cannot tell, any more than I can what is in that
bundle," observed Barecolt.

"That you shall soon be able to tell," replied Falgate. "It is all my
worldly goods and chattels, sir. I am going with you to join the
king."

"A good resolution," answered Barecolt, abruptly.--"Pray, Master
Falgate, have you money to buy a horse? A man is nothing without a
horse, you know."

"Ay, that I have," replied the painter; "but where to get one is the
question."

"Let not that embarrass you," rejoined Barecolt, with a well-satisfied
and patronizing air. "A man of action and experience, like myself, is
never unprovided. I will find you one between this and Newlands."

Falgate admired with such evident admiration that Barecolt treated him
to a story of his adventures once in the Carpathian Mountains, where
the safety of himself and his whole company was secured by his having
taken the precaution to put a thimble in his pocket. Before this was
concluded they were joined by Hazard, whose watch had passed
undisturbed till he was relieved by another of the train-bands; and
the three remained near an hour together, and partook of some of the
landlady's good wine. Hazard then issued forth, and consultations
manifold took place between Mrs. White and Barecolt, after which the
good lady paid a furtive visit to poor Arrah Neil; for by this time
Master Dry, of Longsoaken, had retired to rest. There were then
further conferences in the room of Barecolt, and at length the inn
sank into repose.

About half-an-hour before daybreak, however, four persons silently
assembled in the hall: few words were spoken; but good Mrs. White,
with a tear in her eye at the thoughts of other days, kissed the cheek
of the fair girl, who leaned trembling on the arm of Barecolt. The
door was quietly unbolted and opened; three of the party went out, and
the fourth, retiring, closed it after them. The others walked slowly
on towards the gate of the town, and just as they approached, the
faint dawn of day began to give light to the streets.

"Give the young lady your arm, Master Painter," said Barecolt, "and
answer to whatever I say to you, that you will set about it whenever
you have seen the young woman to Newlands."

Falgate, who was now in his working dress, nodded his head, and gave
his arm for Arrah's support, while Barecolt advanced to the gate, and,
giving the word with which he had been furnished, ordered the wicket
to be opened, in an authoritative tone. It had not the full success he
could have wished, however; for the man would do nothing further than
call his officer, so that some five minutes were lost. At length,
however, the officer appeared, and as he had seen our worthy captain
on the day before, and examined his pass, no further difficulties were
made in his case. In regard to Falgate, however, the matter was
different, and he was asked, in a surly and somewhat suspicious tone,
whither he was going so early in the morning.

"He be coming vid me to see one ting dere be to do at de nort end of
de curtain," said Barecolt; "but all you English have too much to do
vid de girl, and he say he cannot do it till he be come back from
Newlands; but you remember, sair," he added, turning to Falgate, "if I
find you not about it by seven of de clock, I turn you off."

"I will set about it, sir, as soon as I have seen the young woman to
Newlands," replied Falgate, bobbing his head; and the whole party
passed out of the gates, which were closed behind them.



                             CHAPTER XXV.


"Now go on, and wait for me at the first little public-house you come
to," whispered Captain Barecolt, as soon as he and his companions had
passed the gates of Hull. "I will not be a minute;" and, turning away
underneath the wall which surrounded the city, he appeared with a
shrewd eye to be examining the fortifications. Lucky it was for him
that he did so; for, the moment after, the officer of the guard,
having been roused somewhat early from his slumber, and thinking it
unnecessary to go to bed again, sauntered forth to enjoy the breeze of
the morning, and to observe what the strange captain was about. No
sooner did our worthy friend, giving a backward glance towards the
gates, perceive that he was watched, than, without a moment's
deliberation, he beckoned the officer up to him, and addressed him
when he approached with a torrent of engineering terms, some in
French, some in English, some in a language compounded of the two.

"Begar," he cried, after having vented a great deal of learning upon
the incomprehensive ears of his auditor, "I not able to tell what de
gouverneur vill have do here. Look, sair; look, my good friend: if I
be not much mistake, dat hill dare, not above one half-mile off,
command de bastion all along. Let me beseech you, have de bounty to
take von leetle valk up to de top of de hill. Den vid one stick making
a level--so; see if de line do not cover de top of de curtain--_c'est
à dire_, if it do not _dominé_ it. You understand?"

"Oh, yes; I understand quite well," replied the officer of the
train-bands; "but I'll tell you what, captain: you must go yourself,
for I cannot leave the guard."

"_Sapristi!_ dat be true," said Barecolt, turning away and walking
towards the slight elevation he had pointed out. The officer of the
guard watched him for a moment, as with his usual dignified stride he
walked on towards the hill, and then turning back again to the gates,
entered, causing them once more to be closed behind him.

Barecolt paused when he reached the top of the rise, and turning
round, examined the town of Hull, but more especially the gate from
which he had issued forth, making sundry gesticulations as if he were
endeavouring to ascertain the relative height of the hill and the
fortifications, suspecting that some one might be observing him still.
In doing so, however, he scanned every nook and corner with a curious
eye, and having satisfied himself that he was not watched, he turned
sharply to the left, regained the road along which Falgate and Arrah
Neil had taken their way; and, covered by a small clump of trees which
grew near at that time, he hurried on with long steps towards the
little public-house which Hugh O'Donnell had mentioned.

The pace at which he went was so rapid that, notwithstanding the
interruption he had met with, he came in sight of the little solitary
house just at the moment that Arrah Neil and her companion reached it.
There was a tall man standing at the door; and the next instant,
before Captain Barecolt came up, three horses were led out by a man
and a boy, and the worthy captain could see his Irish acquaintance,
Mr. O'Donnell, lift the fair girl upon one of the beasts, and then,
approaching his head close to her ear, appear to whisper to her
eagerly for several minutes.

Whatever was the nature of his communication, it was just over when
Captain Barecolt laid his hand upon the Irishman's shoulder; and Mr.
O'Donnell only added the words, "Remember, to none but himself, or
her."

He then turned to Captain Barecolt, exclaiming, "Quick, quick! upon
your horse's back, and away!"

"Oh, there's no such haste, Master O'Donnell!" replied Barecolt, who
loved not to receive the word of command from a merchant. "Nothing but
cowardice is ever in a hurry; so what is to pay for the horses, my
friend?"

"Seventeen pounds for that," replied O'Donnell, pointing to one, "and
two-and-twenty pounds for the other, which you had better mount
yourself, lest your long legs touch the ground. They are cheap."

"Cheap or dear, they must be paid for," replied Barecolt; "and they
don't seem bad beasts either. Come, Master Falgate, bring forth the
crowns; you see, having short legs saves you five pounds;" and while
the worthy painter unfolded his bundle, in which, besides his own
apparel, were now contained such parts of Barecolt's goods and
chattels as he thought it absolutely necessary to take with him, the
captain drew forth a leathern purse and disbursed the sum required for
his own beast, which operation, to say the truth, left his pocket but
scantily garnished.

"Now, mount, mount, Master Falgate!" continued Barecolt. "T'other side
of your horse, man, and t'other foot in the stirrup, or we shall have
you with your face to the tail. Now, Mistress Arrah, are you ready?"

But when he turned to look at her, Arrah Neil had fallen into one of
her deep fits of abstraction, and he had to repeat the question before
she roused herself.

"Yes, yes," she answered with a start, "I am ready;" and then turning
to O'Donnell, added, "I remember it all now. That name, like the
sudden drawing of a curtain, has let in the light upon memory, and I
see the past."

"God speed you, young lady!" replied O'Donnell; "but now hasten upon
your way, and I will take mine; for it will not be long ere your
flight is discovered, and before that I hope I shall be in my house,
and you many miles hence."

Thus saying he waved his hand, and Barecolt, striking his horse with
his heel, led the way along the road at a quick pace. Arrah Neil
followed, and was at his side in a moment; but good Diggory Falgate,
who seemed less accustomed to equestrian exercise than either of his
companions, was not a little inconvenienced by the trotting of his
horse. Merciless Captain Barecolt, however, though, to tell the truth,
he saw the difficulty with which their companion followed them at a
still increasing distance, kept up the same rapid rate of progression
for some six or seven miles, speaking now and then a word to his fair
companion, but showing, upon the whole, wonderful abstinence from his
usual frailty. At length they reached the top of a long sloping hill
which commanded a view over a wide extent of country behind them, and
along at least one-half of the road they had followed from Hull; and
turning his horse for a moment or two, Captain Barecolt paused and
examined the track beneath his eyes, to see if he could discover any
signs of pursuit. All was clear, however. The sun, now risen a degree
or two above the horizon, but still red and large from the horizontal
mist through which it shone, cast long shadows from tree, and house,
and village spire, over the ground in some places, and in others,
bright gleams of rosy light; but almost all the world seemed still
slumbering, for no moving object was to be seen on the road, and
nothing even in the fields around but where team of horses driven
slowly by a whistling ploughman, at about a hundred yards upon the
left of the party on the hill, wended slowly onward to commence their
labours for the day.

"You may go a little slower now, young lady," said Barecolt, after he
had concluded his examination; "we have a good start of them, and I do
not think they would venture to send out far in pursuit."

"Thank God!" answered Arrah Neil, not in the common tone of
satisfaction with which those words are usually pronounced, but with
the voice of heartfelt gratitude to Him from whom all deliverance
comes. "But do you think we are really safe?" continued Arrah, after a
moment's thought. "Perhaps it would be better to go on quickly for a
time; but that good man who came with us seems hardly able to make his
horse keep up with us."

"Then we will make him lead as soon as he comes up," answered
Barecolt; "we can follow at his pace, for I think we are secure enough
just now. The truth is, he is evidently unaccustomed to a horse's
back, and sits his beast like a London tapster in a city pageant. 'Tis
a lamentable thing, Mistress Arrah, that so few people in this country
ever learn to ride. Now, before I was twelve years old, there was not
a _pas_ of the _manége_ that I could not make the wildest horse
perform; and serviceable indeed have I found it in my day; for I
remember well when the small town of Alais was taken, which I had
aided to defend, with twenty other gentlemen of different nations, we
determined that we would have nothing to do with the capitulation; and
on the morning when the king's troops were just about to march into
the town, we issued forth to cut our way out, or to find it through
them in some manner. We had not gone above three hundred yards from
the gate when we found a line of pikemen drawn up across the road and
in a meadow. There were no other troops on that side of the town, for
the chief attack was at another point; but as soon as they saw us,
down went their pikes, when, crying 'Now, gentlemen, follow me!' I
dashed up to them as if to charge. I was mounted on a swift and
powerful horse--I called him Drake, in memory of the great Sir
Francis; but, just as I was at the point of their pikes, I lifted him
on his haunches, struck my spurs into his flanks, and with one spring
over the line we went."

"And what became of the rest?" asked Arrah Neil.

"You shall hear," replied Barecolt. "The horse as he came over lashed
out behind, and striking one of the pikemen on the head, dashed in his
steel cap and his skull together, so that down he went, and my friends
charging on, cut a way for a part of themselves before the confusion
was over. Five got through and joined me; but the rest had to eat cold
steel."

"They were killed?" asked Arrah Neil. "Alas! war is a sad thing."

"Very true," replied Barecolt; "but one comes to think of it as
nothing. It is the occupation of brave men and gentlemen; and when one
makes up one's mind every day to lose one's life if need be, he does
not think much of seeing others go a few hours before us. If I could
call up again all the men I have seen killed, since I first smelt
powder when I was about fifteen, I should have a pretty strong army of
ghosts to fight the Roundheads with.----Well, Master Falgate," he
continued, as the painter came up, "you seem red in the face and out
of breath."

"Ugh! there never was such a beast!" exclaimed Falgate. "It is like
riding a rhinoceros. He has as many hard knobs in him as a cow, and
his pace is like a galloping earthquake. Oons, captain! you go so
fast, too!"

"Well, my good friend, tell me," said Barecolt, "did you ever take a
journey on a horse before?"

"No," replied Falgate boldly, "else I do not think I should ever have
got on one again. But, in pity, good Captain Barecolt, don't go at
such a rate, or faith you must leave me behind, which would not be
like a good _camarado_."

"No, no; we won't leave you behind, Falgate," replied Barecolt, "and
for that reason we will make you go first. So shall we be ready to
pick you up if you fall off; and you can go at your own pace, though
it must be the quickest you can manage."

"Oh, butter and eggs for ever!" cried Falgate, putting himself in the
van, and going on at a jog-trot: "if an old market-woman can keep her
seat and not break her eggs, I do not see why one of the lords of the
creation should tumble off and crack his bones."

"Nor I either," replied Barecolt; "and if he do, he deserves to break
his head. But get on a little faster, Master Falgate, or we shall have
the fat citizens of Hull at our heels."

"Oh, no fear! no fear!" rejoined Falgate; "they are all miraculous
horsemen, and ride as well as I do; so, unless the governor pursue you
in person, and bring all the horses out of his own stable, you may
ride to York and back before any of them will stir. Would that the man
who sold me this horse were in as sore a skin as he who bought it," he
continued, after a short pause; "I am sure he must have had an
ill-will at my poor bones--plague light upon him!"

"Ah, no!" cried Arrah Neil. "He is a good and a kind man."

"He is a very close one," replied Barecolt; "for I know, young lady, I
tried my best yesterday to worm out of him all the secrets that we
wanted to know; but he held his mouth as tight shut as the shell of an
oyster."

"He had a reason, doubtless," answered Arrah Neil, falling into
thought again.

"Well, if he have told you all about it," rejoined Barecolt, assuming
an indifferent air, "it does not matter. I have no curiosity. Only
when we wish to send despatches securely, we give a copy to two
separate messengers, and if, as I understood him, you are to tell Lord
Walton or the young lady, it might have been better to inform me too,
as then I could have carried them the intelligence in case of our
being separated and of my seeing them first."

"Perhaps it might have been better," said Arrah Neil; "but all
promises are sacred things, and, methinks, more especially, promises
to the dead."

"Ay, that they are," answered Barecolt, who saw that he was not likely
to learn from his fair companion what had been the substance of her
conversation with O'Donnell. "Ay, that they are. I remember a very
curious and entertaining story about that, which happened at the siege
of a certain town, when I was serving in the north. I will tell it to
you as we go; it will serve to while away the time."



                      CAPTAIN BARECOLT'S STORY.

"There is a little town called Le Catelet, just upon the French
frontier, which was besieged by the Spanish army, after the French had
taken it and held it for about a year. The attack began in the winter,
and a number of honourable gentlemen threw themselves into it, to aid
in the defence as volunteers. Amongst the rest were two friends who
had fought in a good many battles together. One was called the
Viscount de Boulaye, and the other the Capitaine la Vacherie. Every
day there were skirmishes and sallies, and one night when they were
sitting drinking and talking together, after a very murderous sortie,
Capitaine la Vacherie said to his friend--

"'How cold those poor fellows must be whom we left dead in the
trenches to-day!'

"'Ay, that they must!' said Boulaye; 'and 'pon my life, La Vacherie, I
am glad the place is so full that you and I have but one room and one
bed between us, otherwise I know not how we should keep ourselves
warm.'

"'Nor I either,' replied La Vacherie. 'Mind, Boulaye, if I am some day
left in the trenches, you come and look for me, and bring me out of
the cold wind.'

"He spoke laughing, and the viscount answered in the same way--

"'That I will, La Vacherie; don't you be afraid.'

"Well, about a fortnight after, the Spaniards attempted to storm the
place; but they were driven back, after fighting for near an hour, and
Boulaye and La Vacherie, with the regiment of Champagne, pursued them
to their entrenchments. Boulaye got back, safe and sound, to the town
just as it was growing dark, and went to the governor's house, talked
for an hour over the assault, and then returned to his room, and asked
his servant if Capitaine la Vacherie had come back. The man answered
No; and so Boulaye swore that he would be hanged if he would wait for
his supper. When supper came and La Vacherie did not, the viscount
began to think, 'I should not wonder if that poor devil, La Vacherie,
had left his bones outside;' and after he had eaten two or three
mouthfuls, and drunk a glass or two of wine, he sent the servant to
the quarters of the regiment of Champagne, to see if he could hear
anything of his friend. But the servant could find no one who knew
anything of him; and when he came back, he found the viscount sitting
with the table and the wine upon his right hand, and his feet upon the
two andirons, with a warm fire of wood blazing away before him. When
he told him that he could learn nothing, Boulaye exclaimed--.

"'_Sacrement!_ I dare say he is dead: poor fellow, I am very sorry;'
and he filled himself another glass of wine, and kept his foot on the
andirons. In about half-an-hour more he went to bed, and, just as he
was getting comfortable and beginning to doze, seeing the fire
flickering against the wall one minute and not seeing it the next, he
heard a step upon the stairs, and instantly recollected La Vacherie's,
who came up singing and talking just as usual.

"'Ah!' cried he, 'La Vacherie, is that you? I thought you had been
killed!'

"'The deuce you did, Boulaye,' replied La Vacherie; and he began to
move about the bottles and glasses as if he were feeling for a candle
to light it.

"'Well, don't make a noise, there's a good man,' said Boulaye; 'for I
am tired, and have a good deal to do tomorrow.'

"'I'm sure so have I,' replied La Vacherie, 'so I will go to bed at
once.'

"'Had you not better have some supper?' asked the viscount.

"'No,' replied his friend; 'I've had all the supper I want;' and
accordingly he pulled off his clothes and lay down beside his comrade.
But by that time the viscount was asleep, so that they had no further
conversation that night. The next morning when Viscount de Boulaye
awoke, he found that La Vacherie had already risen, and left his
nightcap upon the pillow, and he did not see him again till night, for
the enemy made several fierce attacks, and all the troops of the
garrison were busy till sunset. Well, he supped alone that night as
before, and just as he got into bed, he heard La Vacherie's step
again, and again he came in, and again he would eat no supper, but
went to bed as before. The viscount, however, did not sleep so easily
this night, for he thought there was something odd about his friend.
So after lying for about half-an-hour, he said, 'La Vacherie, are you
asleep?'

"'Not yet,' replied La Vacherie; 'but I shall soon be so.'

"'Well, I want to ask you something,' said Boulaye, turning himself
sharp round, and as he did so, his hand came against La Vacherie's. It
was like a bit of ice!

"'Why, how cold you are!' cried the viscount.

"'And how can you expect me to be otherwise,' replied La Vacherie, in
a terrible voice, 'when you left me out there in the trenches through
two long January nights?' and that moment he jumped out of bed, threw
open the window, and went off. His body was found next morning where
he had been killed two days before."


Arrah Neil was silent; but Falgate, who, while riding on at his slow
pace had kept one ear always open to his companion's story, turned
round and asked, "But what became of the viscount?"

"Why, when the town capitulated," replied Barecolt, "he went into a
Capuchin convent, and was called Father Henry.--But, hark! There is
the sound of a trumpet, by the Lord Harry! Gallop, Falgate! gallop! or
I'll drive my sword through you!" and at the same time he drew the
weapon and pricked forward the horse of his companion with the point.

The Galloway, for it deserved no higher title, started on, lashing out
behind in a manner that had nearly sent the poor painter out of the
saddle and over its head; but when once the beast had fairly started
in a gallop, Falgate found his seat much more comfortable than at a
trot; and away the whole party went at full speed over hill and dale
for about a mile and a half, when suddenly, to Barecolt's surprise,
the sound of a trumpet was again heard upon his left nearer than
before. After pausing for a moment to listen, he made up his mind that
whatever body of men were near, they did not come from the side of
Hull; but judging that when escorting treasure or a lady he should
best show his valour by discretion, the renowned captain turned sharp
off from the high-road down a lane to his right, and after having gone
rather more than one mile in that direction, through pleasant rows of
trees, without hearing any more of the sounds which had alarmed him,
he pulled up at a house, from the front of which a pole bearing a
garland protruded over the road, indicating that some sort of
entertainment would there be found for way-faring travellers.

"We will here water our horses, Mistress Arrah," he said; "and keeping
in mind that we may not find loyal subjects in every house, we will
refresh the inner man with gravity and moderation;" and assuming a sad
and sanctimonious air, he addressed a dry-looking man who presented
himself, asking if they could obtain wherewithal to strengthen
themselves for their further journey. A ready affirmative was given,
and, aiding Arrah Neil from her horse, Barecolt led her in, and then,
never forgetting his military habits, returned to see that the beasts
were taken care of. The landlord followed him out, and the worthy
captain continued to eye him with a considerate glance as he aided in
washing the horses' mouths and taking out their bits. By the time this
was accomplished, Barecolt's opinion of his companion was completely
formed, and when the latter remarked, "You seem to have been riding
very bard, master," he replied in a solemn tone, much to the
astonishment of Diggory Falgate--

"Yea, verily have we, for the sound of a trumpet met our ears, and we
feared, being few in number, to fall in with a party of the swaggering
malignants who we hear are riding about the country. Wilt thou get the
horses, little corn, my friend?"

"Right willingly, master," replied the host; "I see thou art a godly
man, and I am glad to serve thee."

The moment he was gone, Barecolt whispered to Falgate, who had
remained silent, partly from fatigue and partly from surprise, "We
must cozen the crop-eared knave. Whine, cant, and look devout, Master
Falgate, and forget your swagger if you can."

"By St. Winifred!" replied Falgate, "this rough beast has taken all
the swagger out of me. I can hardly stand, captain."

"Well, get thee in," replied Barecolt, "and leave me to deal with him.
The best thing for thee to do is to hold thy tongue, for if thou once
openest thy mouth we shall see some profane saint or other popping
out, and marking thee for a malignant in a minute."

After remaining for some ten minutes more at the door, in slow and
solemn converse with the host, Barecolt stalked into the house, and
found Arrah Neil sitting with her beautiful head leaning on her fair
hand, and her elbow resting on a table very respectably covered with
provisions.

"Now let us to our meat," said Barecolt, "for we must soon be on our
way again."

Falgate was instantly settling himself upon a stool to fall to,
without further ceremony; but the captain gave him a grave admonishing
look, and standing before the table with his clasped hands resting on
his stomach, and the two thumbs elevated towards his chin, began a
grace which had well nigh exhausted the patience of Falgate before it
was done, but which greatly edified the master of the house. After
this was concluded, they all sat down to meat; and Barecolt, who well
knew that the portion of good things which the saintly men of his day
allotted themselves was by no means small, carved away at the joints
without any modesty, and loaded his own plate amongst others with a
mess sufficient for an ogre.

Alas for the brief period of mundane felicity! Scarcely had three
mouthfuls passed between Ins grinders, scarcely had one deep draught
from the foaming tankard wetted his lips, when the sound of many
horses' feet was heard, and the next instant the detestable blast of
the trumpet was once more heard before the door. The landlord, who, as
was then very customary, had sat down to share the meal prepared for
his guests, started up, and ran out to the door, while Barecolt
quietly approached the window and looked forth; then returning to the
table, he whispered in a low voice to Diggory Falgate and Arrah Neil,
"A party of the drunken tapsters and pimpled-nosed serving-men whom
the roundhead rebels call cavalry. Master Falgate, be as silent as a
church mouse, I command you, and answer not more than a monosyllable,
whatever is asked you."

"Are they from Hull?" demanded Arrah Neil, in a tone of alarm, as
Barecolt resumed his seat and began to eat.

"No, I think not," replied the gallant captain; "but we shall soon see,
for here come some of them along the passage;" and as he spoke the door
opened, giving admission to a stout, short-set man in a well-worn buff
coat.



                            CHAPTER XXVI.


The parliamentarian looked at Captain Barecolt, and Captain Barecolt
looked at the parliamentarian. The former had a cynical sort of smile
on his countenance, as if he recognised in the worthy captain a
personage whom he had seen before under different circumstances; but
Barecolt's face was a perfect blank, at least if that which bore so
prominent a gnomon could be called so. At all events it said nothing;
there was not the slightest glance of recognition in his eyes; there
was not the smallest curl of consciousness round his mouth. He looked
full in the officer's face, with the stare of a stranger, for very
nearly a minute, and then civilly asked him if he would not sit down
and join their party.

"No, I thank you," replied the parliamentarian, with the same sneering
smile; "but I think I shall ask you to join ours."

"I am much obliged, my friend," replied Barecolt, without any change
of countenance; "but I have nearly dined."

"Dined or not dined," rejoined the other, "you must come along with
me."

"How now?" cried Barecolt, rising with a look of indignation; "I
thought, from your look, that you were a God-fearing and worthy man;
but if you be, as I now judge from your words, one of the malignant
fermenters of strife in Israel, I tell you you are in the wrong part
of the country to play your pranks, even if you had a company of
swaggering rakehelly troopers at your heels."

"Come, come," replied the other, "I am what I seem, and what you know
me right well to be. Did you ever hear of a certain Captain Batten,
sir? Were you ever at such a place as Bishop's Merton?"

"Of a Captain Batten I have heard when I was in London," replied
Barecolt, boldly, "and I have seen him too, but you are not he; for,
in the first place, he is a godly and well-disposed person, and in the
next place I do not recollect you. Then, as for Bishop's Merton, the
very name of it is naught, and smacks of Prelacy and Popery."

"I am not Captain Batten, certainly," replied the other; "but I was
cornet of his troop when you were at Bishop's Merton, and I watched
you well along the road for forty miles and more, after you had made
him prisoner. You have changed your dress, but I know you, Captain
Barecolt."

"Captain Barecolt!" cried our worthy friend, lifting up his hands and
eyes with a look of astonishment and indignation; "am I never to have
done with Captain Barecolt? This is the third time within these four
days that I have been mistaken for that good-for-nothing, worthless
fellow. If ever I meet him I will cut off that nose of his, or he
shall cut off mine, that there may be no more mistaking between us.
However, sir, if you are really, as you say, a cornet of Captain
Batten's troop, I am glad to meet you: there is my hand, and I am
quite prepared to show you to your satisfaction that I am not the
swaggering malignant you take me for, but a poor officer of French
extraction, whose parents took refuge in this land during the
persecutions of those who fought as I do for the cause of true faith
and freedom of conscience. My name is Jersval, and you must, most
likely, have heard of it, as I have for the last three months been
assisting that worthy and pious man, Sir John Hotham, in strengthening
the fortifications of Hull."

The officer looked at him for a moment or two with a bewildered stare;
for, though he thought he could have sworn to the person of the man
who had been pointed out to him, not many weeks before, as Captain
Barecolt, a notorious malignant, yet the captain's coolness and
effrontery were so great as almost to overbear his belief. He was not
convinced, indeed, but he was staggered; and being somewhat of a
dogged nature, he resolved to resist giving credence to mere
assertions, however boldly made.

"Come, come," he said, "you say you can give me proofs. Where are
they? I know your face quite well. The proofs--the proofs, man, or you
must away with me to Hull."

"Be that at your peril, sir," replied Barecolt, with an air of
dignity. I am travelling on business of importance for the governor,
and I will resist being stopped to the shedding of blood. As to the
proofs, here they are. You probably know Sir John Hotham's signature;
and as he spoke, he drew forth from his pocket the pass which he had
obtained from the governor of Hull.

So well had he combined all the particulars of his story, that every
word in the pass tallied exactly with what he had said before. He was
called therein the French officer, Captain Jersval, employed upon the
fortifications; and all the authorities of the town and its
dependencies, as well as all persons well affected to the state, were
enjoined to give him free passage, aid, and assistance on all lawful
occasions. The parliamentarian, as he read, became more and more
bewildered, and indeed somewhat doubtful of Captain Barecolt's
identity. The landlord also joined in on behalf of his guest, and
vouched for his having behaved himself in a very comely and discreet
manner. The Roundhead was, however, of a stubborn and stiff-necked
race, as I have before hinted. He was far more inclined to believe his
own eyes than any piece of paper in the world; and although he read
the pass twice, he looked at Captain Barecolt often, each time
muttering between his teeth an expression of conviction that he was
right after all.

"Well, it does not signify," he said aloud, at length; "you shall go
to Hull. You may have stolen this pass, or forged it, for aught I
know. Unless some one can swear that you are the same man here spoken
of, back you shall troop."

"That I can swear," cried Diggory Falgate, starting up, and forgetting
his companion's injunctions to silence.

"And who, in the fiend's name, may you be?" demanded the parliamentary
soldier, growing hot; for Barecolt had by this time quietly freed his
long sword from the sheath, and placed his back towards the corner,
giving a glance as he did so to the window, across which two other
figures on horseback passed at the moment.

"Who am I?" said Falgate; "a citizen of Hull, sir; and I am ready to
swear that I saw that gentleman walking and talking with the governor
yesterday, and that he is the same to whom that pass was given."

"Go to, go to!" said the parliamentarian scornfully; "you seem some
mechanic, who can know nought of such matters. Meddle with what
concerns you, good man. Landlord, call in two of my troopers."

"Be it at your peril and theirs," replied Barecolt, in a voice of
extraordinary loudness, bringing the point of his weapon towards the
chest of his opponent who had taken a step forward. "Whoever says I am
not Captain Jersval, lately employed by Sir John Hotham on the
fortification of Hull, is a liar, and the consequence be upon his own
head."

Just as he was pronouncing in a stentorian voice this recapitulation
of the qualities and titles he thought fit to assume, and while Arrah
Neil was drawing back to the farther side of the room with some alarm,
but with the profound silence she had preserved throughout this scene,
the landlord opened the door to obey the order he had received; but he
was encountered at the threshold by two gentlemen, whom, to say truth,
Captain Barecolt had seen a minute or two before, crossing the window
on horseback. Now our worthy friend, at his heart, did not know
whether to be sorry or rejoice at their presence, for there was much
matter for very mingled feelings in their sudden appearance.

The first face that presented itself was that of Lord Beverley; and
with all Barecolt's bad qualities he had a certain degree of
chivalrous generosity in his nature, which made him unwilling to have
another engaged in the same awkward scrape as himself, especially
when, as in the case of the earl, many important interests he feared
might be periled by his capture, while his own apprehension would
principally affect his own neck. He had therefore shouted aloud, as
soon as he saw his noble companion dismount to enter the inn, for the
purpose of giving him some notice of what was going on within; nor had
his words failed to catch the earl's ear, for the distance from the
door of the room to the door of the house was but a step, and the
windows were open.

If, however, the sight of the earl caused Captain Barecolt as much
alarm as pleasure, the face of the personage who followed was anything
but satisfactory in his eyes; for the last time he had seen it was in
earnest and apparently secret conference with Sir John Hotham; and our
friend had no means whatsoever of knowing whether his evasion from
Hull had become public before the earl and his companion had set out.

What was his surprise, however, when Lord Beverley advanced towards
him, holding out his hand and exclaiming, "Ah! Captain Jersval, I was
afraid I should have missed you, for we came by the cross-roads. But
what is all this? Sword in hand, my gallant captain! What is all this,
sir?" he continued, turning to the parliamentary officer with an air
of authority. "I hope you are not molesting this gentleman, who is a
very grave and respectable person, and not one to draw his sword upon
anybody without just occasion."

Barecolt was for once in his life wise enough not to say a word. He
did not venture to hint at his feats in the Cevennes; he said nothing
of Navarre or Arragon; he uttered not the name of Rochelle, but
quietly left the earl to settle it all his own way.

Falgate, too, was overpowered at the sudden recognition of Captain
Barecolt as Captain Jersval, and the Roundhead officer looked foolish
and confounded, muttering for a moment or two something about "a
mistake," till he recovered himself sufficiently to return to his
point and declare, "that if ever human eyes were to be trusted, the
man calling himself Jersval was no other than one Captain Barecolt, a
notorious malignant."

"And pray, sir, do you know me?" demanded the earl; "for you seem to
be much more knowing than your neighbours."

"No, I never saw you before," replied the man, bluffly.

"But I know you, Master Stumpborough," said the earl's companion,
advancing in turn. "At least, if I am not mistaken, you are the man I
was told to look for while accompanying this gentleman on his road.
You are the cornet of Batten's troop of horse, are you not?"

"The same, sir," replied the other with a stiff bow; "it seems we
shall get at the truth of the matter now."

"It is only your stupid thick head that has prevented your getting at
it before, Master Stumpborough," replied the gentleman. "This person
whom you persist in calling Barecolt--you must be a bare colt yourself
for your pains--is Captain Jersval, who has been employed by Sir John
Hotham in strengthening the defences of our town, and who is now going
on with this gentleman upon business of importance. We have been
looking for him all along the road; so, if you had stopped or injured
him, you would have lost your ears for your pains."

"I told him so! I told him so! I told him so!" cried Barecolt, at
every pause in the other's words.

But the gentleman from Hull proceeded to hand a small paper to the
parliamentarian. "There is a word or two for you from Sir John. Now
get ready to march on without further delay. I will return with you. I
think, sir," he continued, addressing the earl, "you will not want me
any more."

"No, I thank you, sir," replied Lord Beverley; "I can find my way on
with my companions here. Commend me to Sir John, and accept my best
thanks for your company so far."

While these few words were passing between the royalist nobleman and
his companion of the road, the Roundhead officer had been spelling
through Sir John Hotham's note, looking both puzzled with the writing
and confounded with all that had lately taken place. When he had done,
however, he thought fit to make an apology to Barecolt for taking him
for the man he really was.

"I will never believe my eyes again, sir," he said, "for I would have
sworn that you were that blaspheming ribaldy varlet, Barecolt, only
dressed in a brown suit and with a steeple-crowned hat on. You are as
like as two peas; only, now I think of it, he may be a little taller.
But I hope you do not bear malice, sir; now I know who you are, I am
satisfied; I only wished to do my duty."

"I certainly do not thank you, sir, for taking me, a peaceable and
God-fearing man, for a blaspheming ribaldy varlet," replied Barecolt,
with a solemn air, "but I forgive you, sir, I forgive you! Every man
needs forgiveness more or less, and so farewell; but use your eyes to
better purpose another time, and if ever you see Captain Barecolt,
tell him that when next he and Jersval meet, I will set such a mark
upon him that there shall be no more mistakes; and so fare you well."

A few words had in the meanwhile passed in a low tone between the earl
and his companion from Hull, and the latter then took his leave,
seeing the commander of the party of troopers and the landlord of the
house out before him. Barecolt immediately turned a glance full of
merriment to Lord Beverley; but that nobleman with a grave face put
his finger to his lips, and then, seating himself at the table,
said--"Well, Captain Jersval, by your leave I will share your dinner,
which, by the fulness of the plates, seems to have been somewhat
unpropitiously interrupted."

"Certainly, certainly, sir," said Barecolt, resuming his seat at the
head of the table. "Come, Falgate; come, Mistress Arrah Neil."

At the latter name the earl started, and gazed at Arrah for a moment;
but took no further notice, and only whispered to Barecolt, "Make
haste!"



                            CHAPTER XXVII.


There was a jingling of arms and a shouting of words of command at the
door of the inn, somewhat too much of the trumpet, and a great deal
too much talking for a veteran force; and then the order was given to
march, followed by trampling of horses' feet in not the most orderly
progression upon the road. The mouth of Captain Barecolt had been busy
for the last five minutes upon beef and cabbage, and much execution
had it done in that course of operations; but no sooner had the sounds
of the retiring party diminished than it opened, evidently with the
purpose of giving utterance to the pent-up loquacity which had long
been struggling in his throat. But the Earl of Beverley made him a
second significant sign to be silent, and his caution was not
unnecessary, for at that moment mine host was standing at the back of
the door with a few silver pieces in his hand, grumbling internally at
the small pay of the parliamentary party, and ready to overhear
anything that was said by his other guests. The next moment he opened
the door of the room in which they were dining, and found them all
eating and drinking in very edifying silence. His presence did not
seem to discompose them in the least, and the only effect it had upon
any one, was to induce the earl to point to the huge black jack in the
midst of the table, saying the few but gratifying words "More ale!"

The landlord hastened to replenish the tankard; but as there were no
ingenious contrivances in those days for conjuring up various sorts of
beer at will from the depths of a profound cellar, and, as the house
boasted no tapster, the host himself had to draw the liquor from the
cask, and the earl took advantage of his absence to say to Barecolt
and Falgate, "One more draught, my friends, if you will, and then to
our horses' backs. Are you rested enough to travel on, fair lady, for
I have business of much importance on hand?"

"Quite, sir," replied Arrah Neil; "I am only too glad to go on."

"I am rejoiced to see you here," continued the earl; "but we must not
venture to speak more till we have nothing but the free air around
us."

The next instant the landlord re-appeared, and the earl, taking the
black jack from his hands, put his lips to it, but passed it on, after
barely tasting the contents. Barecolt did it more justice, in a long
deep draught; and Falgate well nigh drained it to the bottom. As soon
as this ceremony was concluded. Barecolt and the rest of the party
rose, and the earl returned thanks for the daily bread they had
received, at less length, but with greater devotion than his companion
might have done.

"Now, Captain Jeraval," he said, when this was done, "you see to the
horses, while I pay the score." And when Barecolt returned, he found
the face of his host bearing a much better satisfied look, after
settling with his present guests, than it had assumed after the
departure of him whom the good man mentally termed a beggarly cornet
of horse.

The earl then placed Arrah Neil in the saddle, sprang upon the back of
a handsome, powerful charger, and, followed quickly by Barecolt, and
slowly by Falgate, took his way along the lane in which the house
stood, choosing without hesitation many a turning and many a by-path,
much to the admiration of the worthy captain, who had a natural
fondness for intricate ways.

"You seem to know the road right well," he said in a low tone to the
earl, when he could refrain no longer.

"I have known it from my boyhood," replied Lord Beverley; but he made
no farther answer, and rode on in silence till the path they followed
opened out upon one of the wide open moors, not unfrequently met with
even now in that part of the country, and which at that season was all
purple with the beautiful flower of the heath.

"Now," observed the earl, "we can speak freely. You are full of wonder
and curiosity, I know, captain; but first tell me," he continued,
looking behind towards Diggory Falgate, who was labouring after them
about three hundred yards in the rear, "whom have you got there?"

"Oh! a very honest fellow, my lord," replied Barecolt; "who must needs
go join the king, and be a soldier."

"Put him into the infantry, then," said the earl. "But are you sure of
him?"

"Quite," replied Barecolt; "he aided me last night to get speech with
you in the block-house; and would not have cared if it had put his
neck in a noose."

"Enough--enough!" said the earl; "it had well nigh been an unlucky
business for all; but that matters not. The man showed his devotion,
and therefore we may trust him; and now, fair lady, so long, and so
anxiously sought, I can scarcely believe my eyes to find you here upon
the coast of Yorkshire. But, doubtless, you do not know me; let me say
that I am an old friend of Lord Walton."

"Oh! yes, sir," replied Arrah Neil; "I remember you well. You were at
Bishop's Merton that terrible night before the fire. You passed me as
I sat by the well watching for Lord Walton's return, to tell him what
they plotted against him; and you asked your way, and spoke kindly to
me. Oh I remember you well; but I wonder you remember me, for I am
much changed."

"You are, indeed," replied the earl, "not only in dress but in speech.
I could hardly at that time wring a word from you, though I was
anxious to know if I could give you aid or help."

"I was at that time in deep grief," replied Arrah Neil, "and that with
me is always silent; but, besides, I had one of my cloudy fits upon
me--those cloudy fits that are now gone for ever."

"Indeed!" said the earl; "what has happened to dissipate them?"

"Memory," replied Arrah Neil. "At that time all the past was covered
with darkness, previous to that period at which I arrived at Bishop's
Merton; but still, in the darkness it seemed as if I saw figures
moving about, different from those that surrounded me, and as if I
heard tongues speaking that had ceased to sound upon my ear. And so
longingly, so earnestly, used I to look upon that cloud over the
past--so completely used it to withdraw my thoughts from the
present--so anxious used I try to see those figures, and to hear those
voices more distinctly, that I do not wonder people thought me mad. I
thought myself so at times."

"But still," rejoined Lord Beverley, "how has all this been removed?"

"Because the cloud is gone," replied Arrah Neil, with a smile that
made her fair face look angelic--"because to remember one scene, one
hour, one person, connected with the past, woke up memory as if she
had been sleeping; and daily and hourly since she has been bringing up
before me the pictures of other days, till all is growing clear and
bright."

"I can understand all that," said the earl, with interest; "but I
would fain hear how it happened, that memory had for so long failed
you at a particular point."

"It is strange, indeed," said Arrah Neil, thoughtfully; "but I suppose
it sometimes happens so, after such a terrible fever as that which I
had at Hull, and of which my poor mother died."

"That explains the whole," replied the earl; "such is by no means an
uncommon occurrence. Was this many years ago?"

"Oh, yes," replied Arrah Neil; "when I was very young. I could not be
more than eight or nine years old; for that good kind woman, the
landlady of the inn, where we then lodged, told me the other day that
it was between nine and ten years ago. Those were sad times," she
said.

"They were, indeed," said the Earl of Beverley, a deep shade coming
over his brow; "as sad to you it seems as to me, for we both then lost
those that were dearest to us."

He paused for a moment or two, looking down upon his horse's crest
with a stern and thoughtful expression of countenance; and then,
raising his head, he shook his rein with a quick and impatient
gesture, saying, "It is not good to think of such things. Come,
Barecolt, now to satisfy your curiosity as far as is reasonable. I see
that you have scarcely been able to keep it within bounds; but first
let me thank you for your efforts to set me free; and, understand me,
I am not one to limit my gratitude to words."

"But your lordship said it had well nigh been an unlucky business for
us all," exclaimed Captain Barecolt; "and, to say truth, as soon as
the door was open, I saw that I had got into the wrong box, as it is
called. There was somebody behind the curtain, I suspect; and I do not
know," he continued, "whether it would be discreet to ask who it was."

"There need be no secret about it now;" replied the earl. "It was no
other than my worthy friend Sir John Hotham, the governor, who wished
to hold some private communication with me. He feared when you tried
to open the door, that it was some one come to spy upon his actions;
and to tell the truth, I was very apprehensive lest your inopportune
appearance should be the means not only of breaking off my
conversation with him, but of getting you yourself hanged for a spy. I
had no time for consideration, and therefore it was that I told you to
get out of Hull as fast as possible, and wait for me on the road. I
had still less time to think of what account I should give of you to
Sir John; but the truth when it can be told, my good captain, is
always the best; and as the governor had already promised to set me at
liberty speedily, I thought fit to tell him that you were an attached
dependant of mine, who had foolishly thought fit to risk your own life
to set me free. I told him, moreover, that I had directed you to get
out of the town as soon as you could, and wait for me on the road,
trusting to his promise for speedy liberation. He pronounced the plan
a good one, and made arrangements for sending Colonel Warren with me
to insure my passing safe, if I should meet this party of horse with
whom I just now found you embroiled."

"This Colonel Warren must be quick at taking a hint." replied
Barecolt; "for he certainly entered into your lordship's schemes in my
poor favour with great skill and decision."

"He is a very good man, and well affected," replied the earl; "the
only one, indeed, in Hull on whom Sir John Hotham can rely. He was
prepared, however; for, just before we set out this morning, as he
told me afterwards, first a rumour, and then a regular report from the
gates, reached the governor, to the effect that you had run away from
the town. Sir John replied coldly to the officer who brought him the
intelligence, that you had not run away, but had been sent by him on
business of importance; and that for the future, when on guard at the
gates, he had better mind his own business, which was to prevent the
enemy from coming in, and not to meddle with those who went out. He
then explained to Warren that we should find you on our way; and in
half-an-hour we came up the river in a boat, mounted the horses which
had been sent to meet us a couple of miles from the town, and fell in
with the party of horse, as you know."

"Truth is best, as you say," replied Barecolt; "but yet I do honour a
man who, when need compels him, can tell a sturdy lie with a calm and
honest countenance; and in this respect the worthy Colonel Warren
certainly deserves high renown, for he vouched for my being Captain
Jersval, with as sincere and as innocent a face as a lamb's head at
Easter."

"I fear he does not merit your praise." replied the earl, "and I do
not think he would exactly covet it; but at all events he did not know
you to be any other than Captain Jersval; for my conversation about
you with Sir John Hotham was but short, and it did not occur to me to
mention your real name."

"Lucky discretion!" cried Barecolt; "but, in good sooth, my lord, we
must wait a little for my good friend, Diggory Falgate, whose bones
are already aching from his first acquaintance with a horse's back,
and who cannot keep up with us at the pace we go."

"What hour is it?" said the earl. "We have not yet made much way, and
I would fain be at Market Wighton or at Poklington before night. We
have taken a great round to avoid some dangers on the Beverley road,
otherwise the distance to York is not more than forty miles."

Having ascertained that it was not yet more than two o'clock, the earl
agreed to pause a little for the benefit of good Diggory Falgate, and,
about two miles farther on, stopped at a little village to feed the
horses, in order to enable them to make as long a journey as possible
before night.

The aspect of the landlord and landlady of the house at which they now
paused was very different from that of their late host. The latter was
a buxom dame of forty-five, with traces of beauty passed away, a
coquettish air, a neat foot and instep, and a bodice laced with what
the Puritans would have considered very indecent red ribbons. Her
husband was a jovial man, some ten years older than herself, with a
face as round and rosy as the setting sun, a paunch beginning to be
somewhat unwieldy, but with a stout pair of legs underneath it, which
bore it up manfully. He wore his hat on one side as he came out to
greet his new guests, and a cock's feather therein, as if to mark
peculiarly his abhorrence of puritanical simplicity.

The first appearance of Lord Beverley and his party, the plainness of
their dress, and the soberness of their air, did not seem much to
conciliate his regard; but the nose of Captain Barecolt had something
pleasant and propitious in his eyes, and the light ease with which the
Earl of Beverley sprang to the ground and lifted Arrah Neil from the
saddle also found favour in his sight; for the worthy landlord had a
very low estimation of the qualities of all the parliamentary party,
and could not make up his mind to believe that any one belonging to it
could sit a horse, wield a sword, or fire a shot, with the same grace
and dexterity as a Cavalier.

Just as the earl was leading in Arrah Neil, however, and Barecolt was
following, Diggory Falgate, to use a nautical term, hove in sight; and
the landlord, who was giving orders to his ostler for the care of the
horses, rubbed his eyes and gazed, and then rubbed his eyes again,
exclaiming, "By all the holy martyrs! I do believe that it is that
jovial blade Falgate, who painted my sign, and kept us in a roar all
the time it was doing."

"Ay, sir, that's just Diggory," answered the ostler, "though I wonder
to see him a-horseback; for, if you remember, he once got upon our
mare, and she shot him over her head in a minute."

"Ah, jolly Falgate!" cried the landlord, advancing towards him; "how
goes it with you?"

"Hardly, hardly, good Master Stubbs," answered the painter. "This
accursed beast has beaten me like a stockfish; and I am sure that my
knees, with holding on, are at this moment all black and blue, and
green and yellow, like an unscraped pullet."

"Faith, I am sorry to hear it," replied the landlord; "but you will
come to it--you will come to it, Master Falgate. All things are beaten
into us by an application on the same part, from our first schooling
to our last. But tell me, do you know who these people are who have
just come?"

"Tell you! To be sure," cried Diggory Falgate; "I am of their party.
One is a great lord."

"What! the long man with the nose?" cried the worthy host. "'Tis a
lordly nose--that I'll vouch for."

"No, no; not he," replied the painter: "he is a great fire-eating
captain, the devil of a fighting soldier, who swallows you up a whole
squadron in a minute, and eats up a battalion of infantry, pikes and
all, like a boy devouring a salt herring, and never caring for the
bones. No, no; 'tis the other is the lord."

"He's mighty plainly dressed for a lord," replied the host. "Why, my
jerkin's worth his, and a shilling to boot!"

"Ay, because we have just made our escape from Hull," replied the
painter, "and we are all in disguise; but I can tell you,
nevertheless, that he is a great lord, and very much trusted by the
king."

"Then I'm the man for him!" said the landlord; and hurrying in, hat in
hand, he addressed the Earl of Beverley, saying, "What's your
lordship's pleasure? What can I get for you, my lord? Has your
lordship any news from Nottingham or York? I am upon thorns till I
hear from Nottingham; for I've got two sons--fine boys as ever you set
your eyes upon--gone to join the king there, just a week ago last
Monday, and my two best horses with them."

"In whose regiment are they?" asked the earl.

"Oh, in the noble Earl of Beverley's," replied the host; "he's our
lord and master here, and as soon as one of his people came down to
raise men, my boys vowed they'd go."

"They shall be taken care of," said the earl, laying his hand upon the
landlord's shoulder, with a meaning smile, which let worthy Master
Stubbs into the secret of his name in a moment. "And now, my good
friend," he continued, "forget 'your lordship' with me, and, if you
want really to serve me, send somebody to the top of the hill, to
bring me word if he sees any parties moving about in the country. I
have heard of such things, and would be upon my guard."

The landlord winked one small black eye till it was swallowed up in
the rosy fat that surrounded it. Then, shutting the door of the room,
he approached the earl, saying in a mysterious tone, "You are quite
right--you are quite right, my lord. There are such things in the
country. One troop passed through the village this morning, and there
is another handful of them left over at the hamlet, beyond the edge,
as we call the hill. There are not above a score of them; and if they
were to come into the village, we would soon show them the way out,
for we have surly fellows amongst us, and do not love Roundheads here.
I will send over to watch them, sure enough; but if your lordship
would like to make a sweep of them, we could mount half-a-dozen men in
the village, who would break some heads with right good will; and in
two or three hours we could have help over from the Lady Margaret
Langley's, for one of her people was here yesterday, and told me that
they expected a party of Cavaliers there, either that day or to-day."

Lord Beverley paused and meditated for a moment; but he then replied,
"No, my good friend--no. The business I am on is too important to run
any risks before it is accomplished; and, in the next place, it would
not be right to bring down the vengeance of these people upon good
Lady Margaret. It is about nine miles to her house, I think, too; so
that would cause delay. Send some one to watch the gentry from the
hill. Have the horses fed with all despatch, and give us a flagon of
wine, for we have two thirsty men in our company."

"You shall have of the best in the land, my lord," replied the jolly
host. "Only to think of my not knowing you!"

The wine was soon brought; and Barecolt, who had been delivering
himself of a few marvels in the kitchen, followed it quickly and
shared in the draught. The horses, accustomed to hard work, were not
without appetite for their provender, so that their meal was speedily
despatched. But when the earl and his companions once issued forth to
pursue their way, he was surprised to find four stout men mounted and
armed by the care of the good landlord, to escort him on his journey.
He might perhaps have preferred a less numerous party, in the hope of
passing unobserved; but, while he was discussing the matter with the
host, a boy who had been sent up to watch ran back into the village,
bringing the news that the men were moving from Little Clive, along
the high-road towards the top of the hill.

"Well, then, I will take the road to the right--towards Beverley,"
said the earl. "Mount, mount! and let us away with all speed. Amongst
the trees they will hardly see us, if we can get a mile on the way.
Come, Master Falgate; we must have no lagging behind, or, by heaven,
you will fall into their hands!"

"I would rather be bumped to death," replied Falgate, clambering up
into his saddle; "and that wine has healed some of my bruises."

"We'll make a good fight of it if they do catch us," said one of the
mounted men: "there are not above a score of them."

"Come on, then--come on quick!" cried the earl; and setting spurs to
his horse, he rode out of the village, fair Arrah Neil placed between
himself and Barecolt, Falgate with their escort bringing up the rear.

They had reached the wooded lane which led along under the slope
towards Beverley before the party of horse which had been seen by the
boy appeared upon the top of the hill. But a break of some two or
three hundred yards in length in the hedgerow occurred at the distance
of about a mile, and by the movements that the earl remarked amongst
the troopers, whom he now saw distinctly, he judged that his little
party was also observed.

"Spur on, my lord!" cried Barecolt, who had also turned round to look.
"They are coming after us; but we have got a fair start. Spur on,
Falgate, or you will be caught!" and, putting their horses to their
utmost speed, they rode along the lane, while the faint blast of a
trumpet was borne by the wind from above, and the small body of
cavalry was seen to take its way quickly over the open fields, as if
to cut them off.



                           CHAPTER XXVIII.


Leaving the fugitives in that period of their flight with which the
last chapter closes, I must, with the benevolent reader's good leave,
return to personages whom I have left somewhat too long, and for whom
I own a deep interest.

Annie Walton--sweet Annie Walton--stood, as the reader may recollect,
conversing with her worthy aunt, Lady Margaret Langley, and had just
announced that amongst the voices she heard below was one, the tones
of which recalled a person who ought to have been over the sea long
before. Now, it may be supposed, and, considering all things, not
unnaturally, that she alluded thus vaguely to the Earl of Beverley.
Such, however, was not the case; for the voice of Lord Beverley was
rich and musical, while the sounds she heard were far from being
particularly harmonious; and an oath or two, pronounced in a somewhat
loud tone, and intermixed with laughter, were certainly not of the
vocabulary which he was most accustomed to employ.

At the same time, the stag-hound which followed them along the
passages pricked up his ears with a sharp growl, and took two or three
quick steps in advance, as if to spring forward on the first occasion.
Lady Margaret chid him back, however. "Who is it, child?" she asked.
"Who do you fancy it is? I expect no one."

"I think the voice is that of a certain Captain Barecolt," replied
Miss Walton; "not a very pleasing personage, dear aunt, but one who
once did us very good service--a brave man and a good soldier, my
brother says, but sadly given to gasconade."

"If he be a brave man and a good soldier, a loyal subject, and have
done you and Charles good service, he shall be right welcome, Annie,"
replied the old lady; "and he may gasconade to the moon if he pleases.
Down, sir! down! Will you show your white teeth when I forbid you? But
what can they be about, Annie? Never did I hear such a bustle. Hark!
there is Charles's voice as loud as the other. Come quickly! let us
see."

"Quick! out with the horses!" tried the voice of Lord Walton below.
"See them out like lightning. Lie there, Francis, for a moment. Call
my aunt--call my sister! By heaven, they shall rue it! Which way did
they seem to take?"

"They halted before the house," said a faint voice, which made Miss
Walton's cheek turn pale; "flushed with their success, they may dare
to attack it. Captain, I owe you my life."

"Nothing, nothing, my lord!" rejoined the voice of Barecolt. "But we
must be quick, Lord Walton, or their courage may fail, and they may
run away, taking her with them. Can I get any better arms? for we had
nothing but our swords--'twas that which ruined us."

"There are plenty in the hall," exclaimed Lady Margaret Langley, who
was now entering the room in which she had left her nephew. At the
same moment, one of Lord Walton's servants appeared at the other door,
saying, "The horses are ready, my lord. The people seem going up the
lane."

The scene the room presented was very different from that which it had
displayed when Annie Walton and Lady Margaret left it. Lying on some
cushions which had been cast down upon the ground, was the graceful
form of the Earl of Beverley, evidently wounded, and somewhat faint.
By his side stood Lord Walton, holding a light in his hand, and gazing
down upon his friend's countenance, while two stout countrymen, one
with a drawn sword in his hand, appeared a little behind, and the tall
figure of Captain Barecolt was seen through the open door in the
vestibule beyond, reaching down some arms from the wall.

"Dear Annie--dear aunt--look to the earl," cried Charles Walton. "He
is shot through the leg; I cannot stop to tell you more; I must pursue
them. Ha! see, he is bleeding terribly--'tis that which makes him
faint."

"Go, Charles! go!" exclaimed the earl. "I shall do well enough. The
wound is nothing; 'tis but the loss of blood. Quick, quick! away, or
you will not catch them."

Lord Walton gave one more look to his friend, and a sign to his sister
to attend to the earl immediately, and then quitted the room. The
sound of prancing hoofs and jingling arms was heard without, then the
creaking of the drawbridge as it was lowered, and then the fierce
galloping of horse along the lane. Lady Margaret and Miss Walton knelt
by the wounded man's side and asked him regarding his wound; but the
voice of Annie was faint and low, and her hand trembled so that she
could hardly hold the light while her aunt endeavoured to staunch the
blood. More effectual assistance, however, was rendered by the servant
William, who ran in the moment he had secured the bridge, and with his
aid the wound was soon discovered, pouring forth a torrent of blood
from some large vessel cut by the ball, which had passed quite through
the leg a few inches below the knee. Lady Margaret, however, had some
skill in leechcraft, and William was by no means an inexperienced
assistant. Bandages were speedily procured, and with little trouble
and no loss of time the wound was bound up and the bleeding stopped.

But few words were spoken while this took place, for good Lady
Margaret, feeling herself in a position of authority, imposed silence
upon all around her. She was too much occupied herself in her surgical
operations to remark the pale countenance and anxious eyes of her
niece, or the smile of confidence and encouragement with which the
earl strove to quiet her apprehensions.

Just as the old lady had finished her task, however, through the doors
of the vestibule and hall, which had been left open, was heard the
sharp report of pistol-shots, and a confused murmur as of distant
tumult. Lady Margaret started and looked round, murmuring, "Ay,
strife, strife! This is the world thereof."

Miss Walton pressed her hand upon her heart, but said nothing, and the
earl, giving a glance to the servant William, exclaimed--

"For God's sake, run out and see! Have the drawbridge ready, too. If
we could have got in at once, the worst part of the mischief would
have been spared."

"I must go--indeed I must," said Annie Walton. "Oh, poor Charles!
heaven protect him!" And running out of the room, she crossed the
stone court, and bending over the low wall at the further angle, she
gazed down the road in the direction from which the sounds appeared to
come. Night had now set in, but yet the darkness was not very
profound, and Miss Walton fancied that she beheld several moving
figures at some distance up the long straight avenue. The next moment
there was a flash, followed by a sharp report--then another and
another; and on each occasion the sudden light showed her for an
instant a number of men and horses, all grouped together in wild and
confused strife. The instant after, a horseman came down the road at
headlong speed, and Annie Walton exclaimed, "Oh! the drawbridge!
William, let down the drawbridge."

"Wait a minute, my lady," replied the servant; "it is not every man
that gallops who is coming here."

He calculated more accurately in his coolness than the lady had done
in her apprehensions, for the fugitive passed without drawing a rein,
and William turned round to give her comfort, saying, "That's a sign
my young lord has won the day--or rather the night I should call it.
Hark! there are some more coming. It is he this time, for their pace
is more quiet."

Annie Walton approached nearer to the bridge, murmuring a prayer to
God for her brother's safety, and straining her eyes upon the
advancing body of horsemen, who came on at an easy trot down the road.
At their head was a figure which she felt sure was that of her
brother, but yet she could not be satisfied till she exclaimed--

"Charles, is that you? Are you safe?"

"Yes, yes; all safe," replied the voice of Lord Walton; "some of us a
little hurt, but not seriously, I hope. We have made them pay dearly
for their daring. Run in, Annie; run in, and I will join you in a
minute."

While William and old Dixon unhooked the chains of the drawbridge from
the posts and let it slowly down, Miss Walton returned to her room,
where she had left her aunt and the Earl of Beverley, exclaiming with
a heart relieved--

"He is safe! he is safe!"

Lord Beverley took her hand as she approached his side, gazing
earnestly in her face, and saying, "Thank God!"

Annie Walton felt his look and his words almost as a reproach for
having forgotten him in her anxiety for her brother; though, in truth,
such was far from the earl's meaning, his only thought at that moment
being, what might have been the fate of that sweet girl, had she lost
both her brother and her lover in one night.

"And how are you, Francis?" said Annie Walton, wishing, with all the
frankness of her heart, to make up for her absence by giving him the
name she knew he would love the best upon her lips. "Forgive me for
leaving you; but, oh! I was terrified for Charles."

Before the earl could reply, there was the sound of many persons' feet
in the hall and the vestibule, and the voice of Lord Walton was heard
giving various orders, and making inquiries concerning the wounds
which his followers had received. It seemed that they were but slight,
or at all events that the men made light of them, for they all
protested that there was no harm done, and the only one who seemed to
complain was the gallant Captain Barecolt, who replied to the young
nobleman's inquiries--

"It is the most unfortunate thing in the world, my lord. I had rather
the fellow had run me through the body."

"But it is not serious, surely, captain," said Lord Walton. "Let me
see."

"Serious, my lord! it is ruin!" replied Barecolt. "It is right across
my nose. I am marked for life, so that I shall never be able to
conceal myself or pass for Captain Jersval any more."

Lord Walton laughed, replying--

"You will do so better than ever, captain; for you are so well known
without the mark that no one will know you with it."

"That is true, too," replied Captain Barecolt; and the next moment
Lord Walton, advancing through the vestibule, pushed open the door,
which his sister had left ajar, and entered Lady Margaret's
sitting-room.

He was not alone, however; for by the hand he led poor Arrah Neil,
somewhat pale, and with her hair dishevelled, but perhaps only looking
the more exquisitely beautiful, as the large chesnut curls fell wildly
round her fair brow, and over her soft rounded cheek.

With a cry of joy and surprise, Annie Walton sprang forward and took
the poor girl in her arms, exclaiming--

"Ah, dear Arrah! this is a glad sight indeed!"

But the effect of this sudden apparition upon Lady Margaret Langley
was even greater than upon her niece. She gazed upon Arrah Neil with a
look expressive of more than wonder; and then hurrying forward, she
took her by the hand, fixing her eyes upon her countenance, and asked
in a tremulous voice--

"Who is this?"

"It is Arrah Neil, a much-valued friend of ours," replied Annie
Walton, unwilling to enter into any explanation of the poor girl's
history and circumstances in her presence.

"Arrah Neill," repeated Lady Margaret, in a thoughtful and even
melancholy tone, and then, waving her head sadly to and fro, she let
go Arrah's hand, retreated to the other side of the room, and, casting
herself into her usual chair, fell into a deep fit of thought. At the
same time Lord Walton led Arrah to a seat, and bending down spoke few
words to her in a low voice, to tranquillize her and make her feel at
ease. But, while he was still speaking, the large stag-hound rose up
from the side of Lady Margaret's chair, walked slowly across the room,
and laid his huge muzzle on Arrah's knee. She showed no fear, and
indeed took little heed, only gently patting the dog's head, as he
fixed his keen, bright eyes on her face. The next moment, however, he
raised himself a little and licked her hand, and Lady Margaret
Langley, moved by emotions which she explained to no one, pressed her
handkerchief upon her eyes and burst into tears.

Neither Lord Walton nor his sister judged it right to take any notice
of the good old lady's agitation; but, while Miss Walton stood beside
poor Arrah Neil and conversed with her quietly, making her own remarks
meanwhile upon the great change which had taken place in her manners
and appearance, the young nobleman crossed the room to the side of his
wounded friend, and inquired how he felt himself.

"Oh! better, better!" replied the earl. "It was but loss of blood,
Charles: the shot that passed through my leg and killed my charger
must have cut some large blood-vessel, and I, not knowing that, went
on fighting on foot by the side of that poor young lady, whose
horse----"

"I know, I know!" said Lord Walton. "It fell with her. She told me;
but what happened then?"

"Why, after a time," replied the earl, "a sort of giddiness came over
me, and I fell. The scoundrel Batten had just got his sword to my
throat, when that gallant fellow Barecolt, after having despatched
another, sprang to the ground beside me and threw the Roundhead back.
Two of them were then upon him at once; but, on my honour, we have
done him injustice in thinking all his strange stories mere
rhodomontade; for hand to hand with them he kept up the fight, giving
them blow for blow on either side, with a skill in the use of his arms
such as I have seldom seen, till at length I got upon my feet again,
and, though staggering like a drunken man, contrived to call one of
them off, while he put an end to Batten, sending his sword through and
through him, cuirass and all. We then got the lady on horseback, for
the other man turned for a moment and ran, and catching Batten's
horse, I mounted, and we began our retreat hither. The fellows who had
been driven off, rallied however, and charged us just as we got to the
gates, for the bridge was up and we could not pass; but Barecolt
plunged through the stream, clambered over the wall, and unhooked the
chains. We were all by this time in confusion and disarray--I so faint
that I could scarcely strike a blow, and the rest scattered about,
fighting as they could. We made a stand at the bridge till I thought
all had entered, and then raised it. When in the court, however, I
found that the poor girl was left behind. That discovery, together
with the loss of blood, made me fall as I was dismounting, and they
carried me in hither, where I have lain, as you know, ever since. But,
hark you, Charles! ask your good aunt if she have not some cordial, as
these good ladies sometimes have, which will bring back my strength
speedily, for on my life I must go forward tomorrow morning early."

"Impossible, Francis!" replied Lord Walton; "quite impossible. At the
best, you cannot travel for a week or more."

"Good faith! but I must," replied the earl. "I have tidings of the
utmost importance for the king."

"Then you must trust them to me," replied Lord Walton; "for the
journey to York would cost you your life. If it be absolutely
necessary for you to see the king yourself; I will send a litter for
you and an escort from York; but, if the tidings be immediate, you had
better trust them to me."

"It is but weakness--it is but weakness," said the earl. "To-morrow I
shall be better. Ask your aunt, Charles, if she have not some of those
strength-giving balms that poets and doctors talk of. But what has
affected her thus? She has been weeping."

"Indeed, I know not," answered Lord Walton. "I will go and speak to
her;" and, moving quietly across the room, he seated himself by the
side of Lady Margaret, who by this time had taken the handkerchief
from her eyes, and was gazing sadly and steadfastly upon the floor.

"What is the matter, my dear aunt?" he said, in a low tone, "What has
affected you thus?"

"A dream, Charles," replied the old lady; "a dream of the past. But it
is gone. I will no more give way to such visions." And rising from her
chair she advanced directly towards Arrah Neil, and again taking her
hand, she kissed her tenderly, saying, "You are so like one that is
gone and who was very dear, that I was overcome, sweet child. But I
shall love you well, and you must love me too."

"Oh! that I will," replied Arrah Neil; "I always love those that are
good to me; and because they have been few I love them the better."

"Right, right!" exclaimed Lady Margaret. "Love few, and love well.
But, now to other things. Charles, this noble friend of yours must be
carried to bed, there to lie till we are sure the wound will not burst
forth again."

"Why, my dear aunt," replied Lord Walton, "his rash lordship tells me
he would fain go on to York to-morrow."

"Madness!" answered Lady Margaret; "but all his family were mad before
him," she added, in a lower voice. "His father thought to win honour
and gratitude by doing good; his mother died of grief. Madness, you
see, on both parts. He has told me who he is, so I wonder not at any
insanity. Now, I will answer for it, he thinks it a duty to go on; but
I will tell him it cannot be. My lord the earl, you are a prisoner
here till further orders. It is vain to think to move me. For your
dear mother's sake, I will be your jailer, let the business that calls
you hence be what it will. So now to bed, my lord: you shall have that
which will restore your strength as quickly as may safely be, but we
must have no fever if we can help it; and I will tell you plainly,
that, were you to attempt to reach York tomorrow, you would go no
farther. I will have the people in to carry you to the room prepared
for Charles: it is close at hand. He must shift with another."

"Nay, nay!" said the earl; "I can walk quite well, dear lady. I am
better now; I am stronger. Charles will lend me his arm."

"Take care, then," replied Lady Margaret, "and do not bend your knee,
or we shall have it gushing forth again. Here, tall man, whoever you
are," she continued, turning to Captain Barecolt, who entered the room
at the moment, "put your hand under the earl's arm, while my nephew
aids him on the other side. There--that will do; now, gently. I will
go before. Call some of the people, Annie."

Thus aided and escorted, the Earl of Beverley moved easily to the room
which had been prepared for Lord Walton on the same floor, while Miss
Walton followed anxiously, and paused for a moment while her aunt
examined the bandages round his knee. Her lover marked the look of
painful expectation with which she gazed; and perhaps no balm in all
Lady Margaret's stores could have tended so much to restore health and
strength as the deep interest that shone in her eyes.

"Do not be alarmed," he said, holding out his hand to her; "this is a
mere nothing, and they are all making more of it than it deserves. Go
and comfort your fair companion, for she needs it much; but I shall
see you tomorrow--shall I not, Annie?"

The last word was uttered in a low tone, as if he almost feared to
speak it; but there are moments when a woman's heart grows bold, and
those moments are especially when it is necessary to cheer and to
console.

"Oh, certainly, Francis!" replied Miss Walton. "I will see you, beyond
doubt: my aunt and I will be your nurses. For the present, then,
farewell. I will go and comfort poor Arrah, as you say."

When Annie Walton returned to the room where she had left Arrah Neil,
she found her still seated, but with the great stag-hound, now with
one paw upon her knee, looking up in her face as if he would fain have
held some conversation with her, had he but possessed the gift of
speech. Arrah, too, was bending down and talking to him--smoothing his
rough head with her hand, and seeming as much delighted with his
notice as he appeared to be with hers. As soon as Miss Walton entered,
however, she turned from her shaggy companion to her friend, and,
advancing towards her, threw herself into her arms. For a moment she
remained silent, with her eyes hid on the lady's shoulder, and when
she raised them they were wet with bright drops; but Annie remarked,
though without one spark of pride, that there was a great difference
in the manner of Arrah Neil towards her. There was a something
gone--something more than the mere look of deep, absent thought, which
used so frequently to shade her countenance. There had been a reserve,
a timidity, in answering or addressing her, more than mere humility,
which was no longer there. Often had she striven to reassure the poor
girl, and to teach her to look upon the family at Bishop's Merton
rather as friends than mere protectors; but, though Arrah Neil had
ever been frank and true in her words, there seemed always a limit
drawn in her manner which she never passed, except perhaps at times
when she was peculiarly earnest towards the young lord himself: It had
seemed as if she felt even painfully that she was a dependant, and
resisted everything that might make her forget it for a moment.

Now, however, that restraint was gone: she gazed upon Annie Walton
with a look of deep love; she kissed her as she would have kissed a
sister; she poured forth her joy at seeing her again, in words full of
feeling--ay, and of poetry; and the lady was glad that she did so. She
would not for the world have said one syllable to check such
familiarity, for the character and fate of Arrah Neil had been to her
a matter of deep thought and deep interest. She felt, indeed, also,
that after all that had passed--after the scenes they had shared in,
and the anxieties and fears they had felt for each other--Arrah Neil
could never be to her what she had formerly been; that there was
something more in her bosom than pity and tenderness towards the poor
girl; that there were affection, tenderness, companionship--not the
mere companionship of hours and of dwelling-places, but the
companionship of thoughts and interests, which is perhaps the
strongest and most enduring of all human ties. There was even more
than all this. The change in Arrah Neil went beyond mere manner; the
tone of her mind and of her language had undergone the same: it seemed
elevated, brightened, enlarged. She had always been graceful, though
wild and strange. There had been flashes of a glowing fancy, breaking
forth, though oppressed and checked, like the flickering bursts of
flame that rise fitfully up from a half-smothered fire; but now the
mind shone out clear and unclouded, giving dignity and ease to every
expression and every act, however plain the words or ordinary the
movements; and Annie Walton felt that from that hour poor Arrah Neil
must be to her as a friend.

"Come, dear Arrah," she said, "sit down beside me, and let us talk
calmly. You are now amongst friends again--friends from whom you must
never part more; and yet we will not speak now over anything that can
agitate you. Lord Beverley tells me you have had much to suffer; and I
am sure all the scenes you have gone through this day, and the
fatigues you have endured, must have well-nigh worn you out and
overpowered you."

"I am weary," she replied, wiping away some drops that still trembled
on her eyelids; "but I have not suffered as you would do, were you to
pass through the same. It is my fate to encounter terrible things--to
pass through scenes of danger and difficulty. Such has been my course
from childhood; such, perhaps, it may be to the end of life. I am
prepared and ready: nay, more--accustomed to it; and when any new
disaster falls upon me, I shall henceforth only look up to heaven, and
say, 'Oh God! thy will be done! I am not a garden-plant, as you are,
Annie. I am a shrub of the wilderness, and prepared to bear the wind
and storm."

"Heaven forbid you should meet with many more, Arrah!" answered Miss
Walton. "There are turns in every one's fate, and I trust that for you
there are bright days coming."

"Still with an even mind will I try to bear them, be they fair or
foul," said Arrah Neil--"more calmly now than before; for much has
happened to me that I will tell you soon; and I have found that those
things which gave me most anguish have brought me happiness that I
never dreamt of finding, and that there is a smile for every tear,
Annie--a reward for every endurance."

"You have learned the best philosophy since we parted, dear girl,"
replied Miss Walton; "and in truth you are much changed."

"No, no!" said Arrah Neil, eagerly: "I am not changed; I am the same
as ever--just the same. Have you not seen a little brown bud upon a
tree in the spring-time, looking as if there were nothing in its heart
but dry leaves? and then the sun shines upon it for an hour, and out
it bursts all green and fresh. But still it is the same bud you looked
at in the morning. As for my philosophy, if such be the name you give
it, I have learned that in the course of this day. As I rode along,
now hither, now thither, in our flight from Hull, I thought of all
that has passed within the last two or three months: I thought of how
I had grieved, and how I had wept when they dragged me away from you
and your kind brother; and at the same time I remembered what all that
pain had purchased for me, and I asked myself if it might not be
always so here, even on the earth. Ay, and more, Annie; if the grief
and anguish of this world might not have its compensation hereafter.
So, when I found myself surrounded by the troopers without, and saw
that good lord borne in here wounded, and the bridge raised behind
him, I said, 'Now is the trial; O God! thy will be done.'"

Annie Walton gazed upon her with surprise, increasing every moment;
but she would not suffer the effect produced upon her mind to be seen,
lest she should alarm and check the fair being beside her: fearing,
too, that at any moment one of those fits of deep, sad abstraction of
mind should come upon her, which she could not believe to have wholly
passed away.

She merely replied, then, "You say, dear Arrah, that the pain you felt
in parting with us has purchased you some great happiness. May I ask
you what it is?--from no idle curiosity, believe me, but merely
because, as I have often shared and felt for your sorrows, Arrah, I
would fain share and sympathize with your joy."

"I will tell you; I will tell you all," replied Arrah Neil, laying her
hand upon Miss Walton's; "I must tell you, indeed very soon; for I
could not keep it in my own bosom, lest my heart should break with it.
But I would fain tell him first--I mean your brother, who has been so
kind and noble, so good and generous towards a poor girl like me, whom
he knew not."

But, before she could conclude the sentence, Captain Barecolt returned
from the chamber of the Earl of Beverley, and a conversation
interesting to both was brought for the time to an abrupt conclusion.



                            CHAPTER XXIX.


The beauty of the illustrious Captain Barecolt, in its kind, was
rather heightened than diminished by a large stripe of black plaster
which he had drawn across the bridge of his egregious nose; for he was
one of those provident men who never go without a certain store of
needful articles in their pockets, and his professional habits had
taught him exactly what sort of small commodities were most frequently
required. Thus, there were few occasions on which that personage would
have been found unprovided with a piece of strong cord, a sharp
pocket-knife, a lump of wax, a corkscrew, a hand's-breadth of good
sticking-plaster, and a crown-piece. I do not say more than one, for
but too frequently the piece of silver was a mere unity; and, indeed,
he seemed to have a pleasure in reducing it to solitude; for, no
sooner had it any companions, than he took the most expeditious means
of removing them. At the last crown, however, he always paused; and it
seldom happened, what between good luck and occasional strong powers
of abstinence, that sheer necessity compelled him to spend that piece
before he had recruited his stock.

He now advanced towards Arrah Neil and Miss Walton with all the
consciousness of great exploits about him; and, after a long inquiry
regarding their health, began a recapitulation of all his deeds that
day, notwithstanding the presence of an eye-witness, by which it would
have appeared that he had killed at least seven of the enemy with his
own hand; regretting indeed, in a deprecatory tone, that he had not
killed more, but attributing this short-coming, in comparison with his
usual achievements, to the care he had been obliged to take of the
earl after he was wounded; otherwise, he hinted, he might have
destroyed the whole force. He was still in full career when Lord
Walton and Lady Margaret reappeared; and, whether it was to be
attributed to the fact of his having delivered himself of a sufficient
quantity of long-pent-up hyperbole, or whether it was that he knew
that the young lord was not likely to give entire credit to his
military statements, certain it is that his tone became moderated as
soon as that gentleman appeared.

Captain Barecolt, however, was obliged to answer several questions;
for, while the lady of the house went to give orders for the
accommodation of the numerous unexpected visiters by whom her house
was thronged, Lord Walton proceeded to inquire how all the events of
the day had come about, and especially how it had happened that a
party of five or six persons, quietly crossing the country, were
charged by a body of the parliamentary horse.

"This is worse than civil war," he exclaimed; "and if such a state of
things is to be established, we shall have nothing but anarchy from
one end of the country to the other. Had you been an armed party,
bearing the royal colours, with drum or trumpet, it might have been
excusable, considering these lamentable dissensions; but to attack you
thus, without cause and without warrant, was the act of a mere
marauder. This Captain Batten, whom you have killed, I find, has met
with too honourable a fate. He deserved to die by the hands of the
hangman and not by those of a gentleman."

"Yes, my lord," replied Barecolt, with an air of calm grandeur; "I put
him to death, amongst others, and we had no time to consider what sort
of fate was meet for them. However, I must do the men justice, and say
that I suspect they did not act without a motive, or perhaps without
many. In the first place, I believe that I was the unhappy object of
their enmity. I had been recognised at the first inn where we stopped
by the cornet of this Captain Batten's troop; and though we were
speedily joined by the noble earl and a certain Colonel Warren, the
latter of whom vowed manfully that I was not the Captain Barecolt of
whose little exploits they had heard so much, but one Captain Jersval,
an officer employed by Sir John Hotham on the fortifications of
Hull--I never heard a man lie so neatly in my life, and he deserves
great credit for the same: although, I say, this Colonel Warren
delivered me from the first danger, and carried Cornet Stumpborough
back with him to Hull, yet I saw clearly that the worthy Roundhead was
not convinced, and afterwards, as we were riding along, I caught a
glimpse of a man, very like a trumpeter, going at full speed on our
left."

"But what would that imply?" demanded Lord Walton.

"Simply, that Cornet Stumpborough had sent off a messenger to tell his
commander, Captain Batten, who knew me well from having seen me with
your lordship on the march from Bishop's Merton, that he would catch
me on the road if he looked out sharply. In this opinion I am
confirmed from having heard in the kitchen of an inn where we
stopped to feed the horses, that this same trumpeter had been seen
half-an-hour before galloping round on the outside of the village, and
taking his way in the direction of Captain Batten's party. This might
be one plea for attacking us; and another might be, that we were
certainly riding as fast as we could go. Now every beast, my lord, has
an inclination to run after another beast which it sees run away. Then
again, when they had nearly come up with us, they commanded us to
halt, an order which we disobeyed to the best of our ability. The
natural consequence was, they charged us immediately, and brought us
fighting along the road for half-a-mile. Nevertheless, I am very much
afraid that your lordship's humble servant was the great object of the
attack."

"However that might be," replied Lord Walton, "my friend the Earl of
Beverley has informed me of the gallant service you rendered on this
occasion; and you may depend upon it, Captain Barecolt, that his
majesty will have a full report thereof."

"A trifle, my lord, a mere trifle;" replied the worthy captain, with
an indifferent air: "these are things that happen every day, and are
hardly worthy of notice. If I have an opportunity afforded to me,
indeed, of performing the same deeds that I achieved at Rochelle and
in the Cevennes, then there will be something to talk of. The only
thing, at present, for which I shall claim any credit," he continued,
turning towards Arrah Neil, "is for the skill and dexterity which I
displayed in setting free this young lady, and enabling her to acquire
certain information regarding her birth, parentage, and education, as
the broadsheet has it, which may be of vast importance to her."

"Indeed, sir, you have been most kind, zealous, and resolute in my
behalf," replied Arrah Neil; "and though, perhaps, I may never have
the means of showing you how grateful I am except in words, yet I
shall be ever grateful, and there is One who rewards good deeds, even
when those for whom they are done have no power to offer a
recompense."

"Whatever he has done for you, my poor Arrah," said Lord Walton,
"shall not go without reward, if I can give it. But what is this
Captain Barecolt says about your birth and parentage? He rouses my
curiosity."

"I will tell you all, my lord, when I can tell you alone," replied
Arrah. "I mean all that I have heard, for I have no proof of the
facts."

"But I have some proof," said Captain Barecolt, "for I have a copy of
the paper I found amongst the old knave's goods--one Mr. Dry, of
Longsoaken, whom your lordship may remember. He did not carry off
Mistress Arrah without a motive, and the paper shows clearly that she
is not what she seems to be; that she is of high race, and if I judge
right, of large property."

Lord Walton paused and mused; but his sister threw her arm round Arrah
Neil, exclaiming, "Oh, dear child! I do rejoice at this indeed."

"And so do I," said Arrah Neil with a sigh; "but as I was enjoined
strictly not to mention any of the facts but to you, Annie, or to your
brother--the person who told me said, on many accounts--I hope Captain
Barecolt, who has been so kind in all this business, will not mention
what he believes to be the truth till he have his lordship's leave to
do so."

Captain Barecolt laid his hand upon his heart and made her a low bow;
but Lord Walton shook his head with a half-reproachful smile, saying,
"When you were a poor unfriended girl, Arrah, you used to call me
Charles Walton, and, now you are to become a great lady it seems, you
give me no other name but 'my lord.'"

The blood spread warm over Arrah Neil's fair cheek and brow. "Oh! no,
no!" she exclaimed: "I know not why I did it; but I will call you so
no more. You will be always Charles Walton to me, the noble, the good
and true, who fondled me as a child, and protected me in my youth, did
not despise me in my poverty, and cheered and consoled me in my
distress."

Her face was all glowing, her eyes were full of tears, when Lady
Margaret returned; but for a moment or two Lord Walton did not speak.
The look, the manner of Arrah Neil produced emotions in his mind that
he did not rightly understand, or rather roused into activity feelings
that he did not know were there. On Lady Margaret Langley, too, the
poor girl's appearance at that moment seemed to produce a strange
effect. She stopped suddenly as she was crossing the room, gazed
intently upon her; and then, as the stag-hound rose and walked slowly
up to her, she stopped and patted his head, saying, "Ah, Basto we
might well be both mistaken. Come," she continued, turning to her
nephew, "supper is ready in the hall; and in the good old fashion of
other days we will all take our meal together, and then to rest. For
you, my sweet child, whose name I do not yet know----"

"They call me Arrah Neil," replied the girl to whom she addressed
herself.

"Well, then, Arrah, I have ordered a chamber for you near my own."

"Nay," said Annie Walton, "Arrah shall share mine; it is not the first
time she has done so."

"That is better, perhaps," answered Lady Margaret; "you will doubtless
have much to speak of, but I must have my share of her, Annie; for
when I look at those eyes, it seems as if twenty sad years were
blotted out, and I were in bright days again. But come; the people are
waiting for us in the hall, with furious appetites, if I may judge
from what I saw of them as I passed through."

Thus saying, she led the way; and in a few moments they were all
seated at a long table, the followers of Lord Walton and the men who
had accompanied the Earl of Beverley being ranged on either side below
the more dignified part of the company.

It was altogether a somewhat curious and interesting scene, as they
supped in the old oak-lined hall, with the light flashing upon twelve
suits of armour placed between the panels, and showing, seated round,
a body of men, scarcely one of whom was without some wound recently
received. One had his hand bound up in a napkin, another his arm in a
sling, a third had his coat thrown back from his shoulder, having
received a pistol-shot in the fleshy part of his breast; another had a
deep gash upon his cheek, not very neatly plastered up by the hands of
some of Lady Margaret's servants; while Captain Barecolt appeared at
the head of the file with a large black patch across his nose.

Not much conversation took place during the first part of the meal,
for Lord Walton was grave and thoughtful; and every one at his end of
the table, except Captain Barecolt, was too much occupied with busy
memories of the past, or deep interest in the present, to be very
loquacious.

The persons at the lower part of the board were restrained by respect
for those above them from talking in aught but whispers; and Captain
Barecolt himself; with that provident disposition which has been
remarked in him, always thought it best to secure his full share of
the good things of this life while they were going, and to keep his
eloquence in reserve for a season of leisure.

The lady of the house, with her two fair guests, rose as soon as the
actual meal was over and quitted the hall; and all the inferior
persons also retired, with the exception indeed of Captain Barecolt,
if he can be included in that class. He, however, though Lord Walton
had also risen, remained seated, eyeing a half-empty tankard which
stood at his right hand, with an evident dislike to abandon its
society while anything remained within its shining sides. Knowing well
the habits of this peculiar species of Cavalier, Lord Walton pointed
to the tankard, saying, "Go on, captain, you will soon finish it, and
then I must see the earl and go to rest, for I depart early to-morrow.
But, in the mean while, I would fain hear more particularly how you
met with our fair Mistress Arrah, and, indeed, how you and Lord
Beverley happen to be here at all, for I cannot imagine that you can
have fulfilled the mission with which you were charged.

"Faith, my lord," replied the worthy captain, after a deep draught,
"our mission was cut wondrous short, as your lordship shall hear," and
he proceeded to give his noble companion a full account of all that
had occurred, from Lord Beverley's departure from the court till they
found themselves prisoners at Hull.

Lord Walton listened, without making the slightest comment, to the
tale with which the reader is already acquainted; but he could not
refrain from a smile as Barecolt went on to detail all his proceedings
with regard to Sir John Hotham; and as the narrator clearly saw he
amused his listener, he dwelt perhaps longer than necessary upon all
the particulars. At length, however, growing somewhat impatient for
facts, the young nobleman again pointed to the tankard, saying,
"Drink, captain, and let me hear of your meeting with my sister's
young friend. I see how you obtained your own freedom--what more?"

"Why, you see, my lord," replied Barecolt, "as I hinted to your
lordship just before I left the good town of Nottingham, I had
obtained a little information, which showed me that Master Dry, of
Longsoaken, had taken pretty Mistress Arrah to Hull, and I had laid a
little scheme for setting her free, thinking that I should thereby
pleasure your lordship."

"Undoubtedly!" replied Lord Walton, gravely, "nothing could give me
greater pleasure than to have this young lady freed from the hands of
one who combines the characters of hypocrite, cheat, and ruffian in
his own person."

"Well, my lord, such being the case," continued Barecolt, "and finding
myself suddenly in Hull, I determined to seek even if I did not find;
and as the man who was sent with me, partly as my guide, partly as a
spy, was walking with me through the town to seek for an inn at which
to lodge, I determined, if possible, to ascertain if Dry was in any of
them, and to take up my quarters in the same. He recommended the
'Lion' and the 'Rose,' and half-a-dozen places; but I thought to
myself; 'Dry will not put up at a first-rate victualler's;' and I
accordingly fixed upon one which I judged to be the sort of house at
which he would stop. In I accordingly went; and while taking a glass
of wine in the bar, who should appear, followed close by the watch,
but the worshipful Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, beastly drunk! He was
speedily carried to his bed, and from that moment I determined to
remain at the 'Swan,' and make use of my advantages. I found the
landlady an excellent good woman, and speedily opened a communication
with her upon the subject of the young lady. She was a little shy at
first, indeed, but I soon brought matters round by telling her that I
had been sent especially to Hull by your lordship to set Mistress
Arrah free.

"That was wrong," said Lord Walton, somewhat sternly: "however, no
matter, as it did no harm. What did you discover there?"

"Why, I found out," continued Captain Barecolt, "that the very inn at
which we were was that where the poor young lady had been brought when
first she came to England; that her mother was a very beautiful lady
at that time, much like herself; but taller; that she died in that
house of a terrible fever that was then raging; that Mistress Arrah
herself had well-nigh died of it; and that an old man, whom they
called Sergeant Neil, was then in attendance upon the two ladies, as a
sort of servant, though he afterwards passed as her grandfather, they
say."

"He did, he did," answered Lord Walton, musing. "This is a strange
story, Captain Barecolt; let me hear more."

"Why, I suspect the young lady knows more than I do, my lord," replied
Barecolt, "and the tankard is empty."

"There is more here," answered Lord Walton, pushing over another
flagon from the opposite side of the board: "what more did you hear?"

"Why, I instantly went and saw Mistress Arrah herself," continued
Barecolt, after having assuaged his thirst, "and found that old Dry
had swept Sergeant Neil's house of all his papers at his death,
especially some that the old man had told the young lady where to
find; and that he now dragged her about with him, treating her
sometimes well, sometimes ill, as he was in the humour, pretending to
be her guardian, and asking for a Mister O'Donnell, who lives in
Hull. From all this, I divined that the old hypocrite had got better
information out of the old sergeant's papers than we had, and that he
intended to marry the young lady, or perhaps gain possession of her
property."

"Marry her!" exclaimed Lord Walton, with a scornful smile curling his
lip.

"Well, my lord, I do not know," answered Barecolt; "but, as she is so
very beautiful, even such a stockfish as that might think it no
unpleasant way of getting hold of her fortune, to make her his wife.
But, as I was saying, having taken this fancy, I determined to see
what papers the old man had with him, and consequently I walked
straight into his room, where he lay like a drunken sow, snoring in
his bed; and I rummaged his bags till I found all the papers he had
with him. I found only one that referred to this business, however,
and it was but a string of questions to be asked of this Mister
O'Donnell. However, they proved clearly that what the good landlady of
the 'Swan' had told was quite true, as your lordship shall see
presently."

The worthy captain then went on to tell all that had taken place
subsequently, mingling what portion of falsehood with his truth he
might think proper, and taking especial care to make whatever
advantage fell in his way by accident appear to have been obtained by
his own skill and calculation. Lord Walton was not deceived by his
representations; nor can he be said to have been aware of his
misrepresentations. He took in the general facts, casting away, as is
usually the case with men of high mind, the minor circumstances. Thus
he was aware that Captain Barecolt had greatly served one in whom he
took a deep interest; but the small particulars of that personage's
skill and judgment in effecting the object, he cared very little
about, and gave no attention to them whatever, hearing the details
indeed, but without pausing upon them for consideration, and waiting
for the principal results.

"We must find means," he said at length, "of having further
information from this Master O'Donnell. He is evidently aware of all
the facts."

"Ay, and he has made the lady aware of them too, my lord," rejoined
Barecolt, emptying the second tankard, "or at least some of them; for
when I came up after having lingered behind at the gates for a short
time, in order to give the enemies the change, I found him in close
conference with her, and the last words he spoke were to bid her tell
no one but yourself or your sister."

"So she said, I recollect," replied Lord Walton; "I will hear more
from her, and perhaps, Captain Barecolt, if you be not otherwise
engaged in the king's service, I may ask you to have the goodness to
employ yourself farther in this affair."

"That I will do most gladly, my lord," replied Barecolt. "I remember
well, when in the year thirty-five I was requested by----"

"Oh, I neither doubt your capacity nor your zeal, my good sir,"
answered the young nobleman, interrupting the anecdote, "and the
reward shall be equal to the service performed. I will now, however,
go and converse with my friend, Lord Beverley, for a short time;
to-morrow I will talk over the matter with Mistress Arrah Neil; and,
as I suppose you will think it fit to hasten over to give an account
to his majesty of what has taken place, we by the way can speak of
what is further to be done. In the mean time, let me see the paper you
mentioned; I should like to think over the contents during the night."

Barecolt put his hand in his pocket, but the moment after he gave a
sudden start, and then looked round the table from place to place, as
if he were trying to recollect who had sat in each particular seat.
Then turning to Lord Walton, with a look of horror and consternation,
he exclaimed--"Diggory Falgate! where is poor, jolly Diggory Falgate?"

"I do not know whom you speak of," replied Lord Walton; "what has he
to do with this affair?"

"The paper is in his bundle," cried Barecolt, with increasing dismay;
"and we have left the poor devil outside in the hands of those
rascally Roundheads, whom he hates as a cat hates salt."

"But who is he?" demanded Lord Walton; "this is the first time you
have mentioned his name."

As Captain Barecolt was about to give a true and particular account of
Diggory Falgate, however, William, Lady Margaret's servant, entered
the hall, and addressing the young nobleman, informed him that the
Earl of Beverley would be glad to speak with him as soon as he had
done supper.

"I will come to him directly," replied Charles Walton, taking a step
or two towards the door; and then pausing, he turned again to
Barecolt, saying, "As to this friend of yours, I think you had better
take any of the people who may be still up, and seek for him with
torches as far as the fight continued. The road must be clear by this
time, for the adversary suffered much, and would not like the
neighbourhood; but you had better have five or six men with you, and
fire-arms. A watch shall be kept in case you need help, and I shall
not be in bed for an hour or two. The poor fellow may be lying
wounded."

"Oh, I need little help in such cases, my lord," replied Barecolt;
"but, as we may have to carry him hither if he be wounded, I will take
some men with me and go directly."

While our worthy captain proceeded to execute this resolution, Lord
Walton walked on towards the chamber which had been assigned to his
wounded friend; but as he passed through the room in which Lady
Margaret usually sat, he turned thither for a moment to see whether
his sister and fair Arrah Neil had yet retired to rest. He found his
aunt alone, however; and in answer to his inquiries she replied, "I
have sent them both to bed, Charles. Poor things! they have had much
fatigue of body and more of mind. I never leave my book till the
house-clock strikes one; but that was no reason why I should keep them
waking."

"Well, dear Aunt Margaret, I am going to see Francis Beverley, and
will return to you ere you retire to rest," said Charles Walton; and
proceeding on his way, he found with some difficulty his friend's
room, and went in.

"Charles," said the earl, who was lying with a lamp on the table
beside him, and several papers in his hand, which he seemed to have
been reading attentively, "I feel that I cannot ride to-morrow, and
the time it would take to send a litter hither from York is too
valuable to be lost. You must take the first tidings to the king, and
I will follow as soon as some conveyance arrives. I will relate to you
all that has happened since we parted, but tell his majesty, I beg,
that it was no weak idleness which prevented me from hurrying on to
give him all the information I possess."

"He knows you too well to imagine such a thing," replied Lord Walton;
"but I can shorten your narrative till your arrival at Hull. All your
first adventures I have heard from Captain Barecolt."

"And a glorious tale he has made of it, doubtless," said the earl:
"however, all that is of little importance in comparison with that
which is to follow." He then went on to give an account of his various
interviews with Sir John Hotham, of which, as the reader is already
acquainted with the particulars, I will give no detail. The result,
however, is still to be told, and it was stated by Lord Beverley in
few words.

"At length," he said, "I found that the good governor was so tired of
his position, so deeply offended with the conduct of the parliament,
so desirous of returning to his duty, and so willing to risk all but
his head to restore Hull to the king, that it wanted but some excuse
to save his honour to induce him to do all that we can desire. It was
finally agreed between us, then, that if the king would advance
against the city and fire but a shot at it, Sir John would capitulate,
and deliver that important place into his majesty's hands. There are
many minor particulars to be told; but this principal fact should be
communicated to the king without the loss of a day, as it may decide
his future movements."

"Without the loss of an hour," replied Lord Walton; "for when I left
his majesty, he told me that I had barely time to reach this place and
return before the army would be in motion. This is an important affair
indeed; for the example set by Hull would bring over a dozen other
towns; and, even if it did not, the possession of a port in the north
is worth any jewel in his crown. I would set off this very moment, but
that both men and horses are so much fatigued that we should lose more
time by going than by staying for a few hours' repose. To-morrow
morning, however, at daybreak, I will set out. I shall not be
able to see my sister, indeed; but it is perhaps as well to avoid
leave-taking, and you must console her, Francis. Had you not better
write to the king?"

"No," answered the earl, "I think not. I have been considering that
question while you were away; but, looking to the danger of the roads
and the risk of your being intercepted, as well as the peril to Sir
John Hotham, if such should be the case it will be more prudent to
bear nothing but the tidings by word of mouth."

"I believe you are right," replied Lord Walton "and such being the
case, Beverley, I will at once go and prepare for the journey. Having
all the facts, I need not disturb you to-morrow morning before I go."

"Perhaps I had better see you," answered the earl, "for something
might strike me in the night which I might wish to say."

"Well, then, I will come in," rejoined Lord Walton; "and now, good
night. Sleep if you can, Francis, and let not all the thoughts of this
affair disturb your repose."

"I want that quality of a great man, Charles," answered the earl with
a smile. "I cannot cast off the thought of things that have occupied
me, the moment that action has ceased. A quick imagination is a curse
as well as a blessing. In bright days it is a happiness indeed, but in
those of shadow and darkness it but tends to increase the gloom. Good
night, good night!"

Lord Walton shook his hand and retired, and then, rejoining Lady
Margaret, announced to her his intention of setting off at daybreak
the next morning. We will not pause upon all the little particulars of
their conversation--the discussion which took place as to whether it
would be better and kinder for the young nobleman to take leave of his
sister or not, or the after arrangements that he made for leaving four
of his men behind him to give aid and protection to Lady Margaret and
her household, several of her own servants being absent at the time.
Before he retired to rest, he wrote a short note to his sister, and
another to Arrah Neil, begging her to write the statement which the
hurry of his departure prevented him from hearing in person; and then,
giving orders for his horses to be saddled by daybreak, he only
further paused to inquire whether poor Falgate had been found.
Barecolt and his companions, however, had not yet returned; but, while
Charles Walton was undressing, the gallant captain made his appearance
in the room, and with a woeful face informed him that no trace of the
merry painter could be discovered.

"Then he has certainly been taken prisoner," replied Lord Walton, "and
we cannot help him. We have more important business in hand, Captain
Barecolt, now: by what Lord Beverley tells me, I am induced to return
to the king with all speed. I think you had better accompany me, and
if so, remember I shall be in the saddle by daybreak."

"I am with you, my lord," replied Barecolt; "and as human beings must
sleep, I will even go to bed for the present."

"Do so," replied Lord Walton; "I shall follow the same course."

But before he put his resolution into effect, after Captain Barecolt
left him, the young nobleman fell into a fit of deep thought, from
which he did not rouse himself for nearly an hour. When he did rise
from his seat, however, he said to himself in a low, sad voice, "'Tis
as well I am going."

Annie Walton slept well, but Arrah Neil was restless and agitated, and
after a few hours of disturbed slumber she awoke, and saw the blue,
faint light of the first dawn through the curtains of the room. She
turned to gaze upon her fair companion, and remarked with a smile the
tranquil repose she was enjoying. "Sleep, sleep, sweet lady!" she
murmured; "and, oh! may no heartache ever keep your eyes from rest!"

The moment after, she heard the sound of arms and of horses' feet, and
rising quietly she approached the window and looked out. The opposite
room, which, as we have described it, was destined for a sitting-room,
commanded the view at the back of Langley Hall, but the bed-room was
turned towards the court and the drawbridge; and as poor Arrah Neil
gazed forth from the window, she saw a party of five horsemen mounted,
and Lord Walton putting his foot in the stirrup. The next moment he
was in the saddle; and after speaking a few words to his aunt's
servant William, who was standing beside his horse, he rode over the
drawbridge and at a quick pace pursue the way to York.

"He is gone without my seeing him," murmured Arrah Neil to herself;
and then, creeping quietly to bed again, she turned her face to the
pillow and deluged it with tears.



                             CHAPTER XXX.


"Nay, do not drag me so; I will go right willingly, my masters!" cried
poor Diggory Falgate. "I was there with them upon compulsion. It is
hard to be made prisoner by one's friends as well as by one's
enemies."

"Hold thy prating tongue, liar!" replied one of the troopers, who were
bearing off the painter across the country towards Hull, which lay at
about ten miles' distance, the course that the earl and his party had
pursued having been rendered very circuitous by the various accidents
of the journey. "Hold thy prating tongue, liar, or I will strike thee
over the pate! Did we not see thee at their heels, galloping with the
best?"

"But no man can say that he saw me draw a sword in their behalf,"
answered Falgate.

"Because thou hadst no sword to draw," rejoined the man. "And thou
mayst be sure that to-morrow morning thou wilt be swinging by the neck
in the good town of Hull, for the death of Captain Batten and the
rest."

"I killed them not," said Falgate, in a deprecatory tone.

"What! wilt thou prate?" rejoined the trooper, striking him in the
ribs with the hilt of his sword. But at that moment one who seemed in
command rode back from the front, and bade the man forbear.

"Come hither beside me," he said, addressing Falgate, who in the
darkness could not see his face, to judge whether it was stern or not.
"You are a malignant--deny it not, for it will not avail you. You are
a malignant, and the blood of Christian men has been shed by those who
were with you. Your life is forfeit, and there is but one way by which
to save it."

"What is that?" asked Falgate. "Life is not like a bad groat, only fit
to be cast into the kennel; and I will save mine if I can."

"That is wise," answered the soldier. "You can save it if you will.
You have but to tell truly and honestly who they are who were with
you, and what was their errand in these parts. You know it right well;
therefore deny it not."

"Nay, I do not know, right worshipful sir," replied the painter.

"I am not worshipful," answered the man; "but if thou dost not know, I
am sorry, for thou hast lost a chance of life."

"But only hear how I came to be with them," cried poor Falgate. "I met
the long-nosed man by chance in Hull; and finding him in godly
company, and some of the governor's people with him, I thought there
could be no harm in going with him to York, whither business called
me."

"But he in the buff coat?" asked the soldier; "who is he?"

"Of him I know less than the other," rejoined the painter; "for he
came up with us on the road, as we stopped at a little inn to bait our
horses. There was with him then a Colonel Warren, who, after leaving
us returned to Hull with a pious man, one Stumpborough, who had with
him a troop of horse----"

"We know all that," replied the soldier gravely. "But, as it is so,
you must prepare to die to-morrow. I say not that you lie unto us. It
may be that you speak truth; but it is needful in these times that one
should die for an example; and as you are a malignant, for your speech
proves it, 'tis well you should be the man." Thus saying, he rode on
again without giving time for Falgate to answer, and leaving him in
the hands of the troopers as before.

The party, however, had suffered such loss that the number was now but
small; and the poor painter, who by no means loved the idea of his
promised suspension in the morning air of Hull, could hear the buzz of
an eager but low-toned conversation going on in front, without being
able to distinguish the words. He thought, indeed, that he caught the
term "church" frequently repeated; but of that he was not sure. And
though with a stout heart he resolved to say nothing, either of what
he knew or suspected, it must be confessed he shook a little as he
rode along.

At length, after an hour and a half's farther ride, they began to
approach the Humber, and the moon shining out showed Falgate scenes
which he had often passed through in former days, upon journeys of
business or of pleasure. Now they came to a village in which was
swinging, before a fast-closed house, a sign of his own painting; and
now a hamlet in which he had enjoyed many a merry dance; till at
length, passing over a long, bare, desolate piece of land, without
tree, or hedgerow, or house, or break, running along the water's edge,
they perceived upon a slight elevation, an old time-worn church, the
resort of parishioners from a wide and thinly-populated tract, the old
stone monuments and gloomy aisles of which had often filled the
somewhat imaginative head of the painter with strange and awful
visions, when he visited it on the Sunday evening in the decline of
the year. At about five hundred yards farther on was a solitary house
where the sexton lived; and stopping suddenly before the gate of the
church-yard, the commander of the party bade one of his men ride on
and get the key.

"What are they going to do?" thought Falgate. "The profane villains
are not going to stable their horses in a church surely. Well, I shall
be glad enough of rest anywhere, for Hull is three miles off; and I do
not think my skin would hold out."

While he had been thus reasoning with himself, one of the troopers had
got off his horse, and advancing through the little wicket of the
church-yard, tried the door of the church.

"It is open," he cried; "they have left their steeple-house open."

The other man was instantly called back, and Falgate was then ordered
to dismount. He observed, however, that the soldiers in general kept
their saddles, and he advanced with some trepidation, accompanied by
the commander, to the door where the other trooper still stood. There
he halted suddenly, however, asking in a lamentable tone--

"You are not going to leave me here alone all night, surely?"

"Not alone!" answered the man; "we will put a guard in the porch to
watch you; and you will have full time to prepare your mind for
to-morrow morning, and to turn in your head whether you will tell us
who your companions were, before the rope is round your neck. You may
speak now, if you will."

But Falgate was faithful to the last; and though he by no means
approved of being shut up in the church all night, he repeated that he
could not tell, for he did not know.

"Well, then," rejoined his captor, "here you must rest; but think well
of the condition of your soul, young man, for nothing will save you if
you remain obstinate."

Thus saying, he thrust him into the building, and closed the door. The
poor painter now heard some conversation without in regard to the key,
which, it appeared, was not in the lock; and a consultation was held
as to whether it should be sent for; but the voice of the commander
was heard at length, saying--

"Never mind. We have not time to stay. Keep good watch; that is all
that is needed."

"But if he try to escape?" asked the trooper.

"Shoot him through the head with your pistol," answered the other
voice. "As well die so as by a cord."

The conversation then ceased, and Falgate heard the sound of horses'
feet the next minute marching down the hill. The situation of Diggory
Falgate was to himself by no means pleasant, and, indeed, few are the
men who would find themselves particularly at their ease, shut up for
a whole night within an old church, and with even the probability of
death before them for the next morning. Silence, and midnight
solitude, and the proximity of graves, and shrouds, and mouldering
clay, are things well calculated to excite the imagination even of the
cold and calculating, to damp the warm energies of hope, and open all
the sources of terror and superstitious awe within us. How often, in
the warm daylight, and in the midst of the gay and busy world, does
man, roused for a moment by some accidental circumstance to a
conviction of the frail tenure by which life is held, think of death
and all that may follow it with no other sensation than a calm
melancholy. It is because every object around him, everything that he
sees, everything that he hears, and everything that he feels, are so
full of life, that he cannot think death near. He sees it but in the
dim and misty perspective of future years, with all its grim features
softened and indistinct. But when he hears no sound of any living
thing, when his eye rests upon nothing moving with the warm energies
of animation, when all is as dark as the vault, as silent as the
grave--it is then, that, if the thought of death presents itself, it
comes near--horribly near. Clearer from the obscurity around, more
distinct and tangible from the stillness of all things, death becomes
a living being to our fancy, with his icy hand upon our brow, his
barbed dart close at our heart. We see him, feel him, hear the dread
summons of his charnel voice; and prepare for the extinction of the
light within the coffin's narrow bed, the mould and corruption of the
tomb.

Poor Falgate had hitherto tried to fancy that the announcement of his
fate for the morrow had been merely a threat: but now, when he was
left alone in the old church, with no one near him to speak to, with
not a sound but the sighing of the night wind through some broken
panes in the high casement, his convictions became very different. He
felt his way with his hands from pillar to pillar, towards a spot
where a thin streak of moonlight crossed the nave, and seated himself
sadly upon a bench that he found near. He there sat and tortured
himself for half an hour, thinking over all the bold and infamous
things the parliament party had done, and clearly deducing thence what
they might probably do in his own case. He loved not the thought of
death at all as it now presented itself to his mind; the hero's
enthusiasm was gone; he had no desire to be a martyr; but of all sorts
of death that of the cord seemed the worst. And yet, what was to be
done? Could he betray the confidence of others, could he flinch from
what he conceived to be a duty? No; though he felt a little weakness,
he was not the man to do that; and he said again to himself that he
would rather die. But still he turned with repugnance from that close
grappling with the thought of dying which the scene and the hour
forced upon him: he tried to think of something else; he strove to
recal the early days when he had last stood in that aisle, and many a
boyish prank he had played in years long gone; but the image of death
would present itself amidst all, like a skull in a flower-garden, and
the very sweet ideas that he summoned up to banish it but made it look
more terrible.

In the mean while, the moon gradually got round, till she poured a
fuller flood of light into the building, showing the tombs and old
monumental effigies upon the walls and in the aisle; and many a wild
legend and village tale came back to Falgate's memory, of ghosts
having been seen issuing from the vaults beneath the church, and
wandering down even to the gates of Hull. The painter was a firm
believer in apparitions of all kinds, and he had often wished, with a
sort of foolish bravado, to see a ghost; but now, when, if ever, he
was likely to be gratified, he did not quite so much like the
realization of his desires. He thought, nevertheless, that he could
face one, if one did come; but then arose the sad idea, that he might
very soon be one of their shadowy companions himself; wandering for
the allotted term beneath "the pale glimpses of the moon."

Suddenly a thought struck him. Might he not, perchance, employ the
semblance of that state to facilitate his own escape? Doubtless, the
man placed to keep guard would not long remain upon his dull watch
without closing an eye, after a long day's march and a hard fight; the
door was not locked; he could open it and go out and, could he but so
disguise himself as to appear like the inhabitant of another world, if
the sentinel did wake, he would most likely be so stupified and
alarmed, that he would let him pass, or miss his aim if he fired.
Falgate remembered the words of the officer as he had retired: "As
well die so as by a cord;" and he resolved he would at least make the
attempt. A daring and enterprising spirit seized him; he felt he could
be a hero in ghostly attire, and the only difficulty was to procure
the proper habiliments. At first he thought of making a shift with his
own shirt; but then he remembered that the length thereof was somewhat
scanty, and he had never heard of ghosts with drapery above their
knees.

However, as, when one schoolboy opens a door into forbidden piece of
ground, and puts his head out, a dozen more are sure to follow and
hurry him on before them, so the thought of becoming a ghost seemed to
bring a thousand other cunning devices with it; and at length good
Diggory Falgate asked himself if the vestry might not be open, and if
a surplice might not be found therein. He determined to ascertain; and
creeping up to the door which he had often seen the parson of the
parish pass through, he lifted the latch, and to his joy found that it
was not locked. All, however, was dark within, and the poor painter,
entering cautiously, groped about, not knowing well where to seek for
that which he wanted. Suddenly his hand struck against something,
hanging apparently from a peg in the wall; but he soon ascertained
that the texture was not that of linen, and went on, still feeling
along the sides of the little room. In a moment after, he came to
something softer and more pliant, with the cold, glassy feel of linen
upon it, and taking it down he mentally said, "This must be the
surplice." He crept back with it into the moonlight in the church,
treading like a ghost, not only in anticipation of the character he
was about to assume, but also in palpable terror lest he should call
the attention of the guard at the church door, by tripping over a mat
or stumbling against a bench. The white and snowy garment, however,
the emblem of innocence, was there in his hand, and he gazed all over
it, inquiring in his own mind how he was to put it on. He knew not the
back from the front; he scarcely knew the head from the tail; and
seldom has a poor schoolboy gazed at the "ass's bridge," in the dry
but reason-giving pages of Euclid, with more utter bewilderment and
want of comprehension than Diggory Falgate now stared at the surplice.
As he thus stood, addressing mock inquiries to the folds of white
linen, he suddenly started, thinking he heard a noise; but after
listening a moment without catching any further sound, he quietly
crept up to the great door of the church, and bent both eye and ear to
the keyhole, to ascertain whether the sentinel was awake and watching
or not.

The only noise that met his ear, when he first applied the latter
organ to the task of discovery, was a loud and sonorous snore; and
looking through the aperture, he found, by the light of the moon,
which was shining into the porch, that the guard had seated himself on
one of the benches at the side of the door, and, with his legs
stretched out across the only means of egress, had given way to
weariness, and was indulging in a very refreshing sleep, while his
horse was seen cropping the grass within the wall of the churchyard.

The poor painter was calculating the chances of being able to pass the
outstretched limbs of the sentinel without awakening him, and,
screwing his courage to the sticking point--to use Lady Macbeth's
pork-butcherish figure--when suddenly he was startled and cast into a
cold perspiration by hearing a sound at the farther end of the church.
All was silent the moment after; but the noise had been so distant
while it lasted, that there was no doubting the evidence of his ears;
and the only question was, what it could proceed from--was it natural
or supernatural? was it accidental or intentional? Diggory Falgate
could not at all divine, till at length, encouraged by its cessation,
he began to think that he might have left the door of the vestry open,
and the wind might have blown down some book. Yet the sound had been
sharp as well as heavy--more like the fall of a piece of old iron than
that of a volume of homilies, the prayer-book, or the psalter. He
determined to see, however; and sitting down for a moment to gather
courage, and to ascertain that the trooper without had not been roused
by the noise that had alarmed himself, he listened till, mingled with
the beating of his own heart, he heard the comfortable snore of the
guard once more. Then, thinking that at any time he could call the
good man to his aid if he encountered ghost or goblin too strong for
him, he shuffled himself into the surplice, and with the stealthy step
of a cat crept up the nave towards the vestry.

When he was about two-thirds up the church, and was just leaning
against a bench to take breath, another sound met his ear. It was that
of a deep voice speaking low, and seemed to come almost from below his
feet.

"They must be gone now," said the invisible tongue. "All is silent you
hear."

"I do not know," said another, in tones somewhat shriller. "Hush! I
thought I heard a noise."

"Pooh! the rustling of the casements with the wind," rejoined the
other; "I cannot stay all night: unshade the lantern and let us to
work."

If a fragment of superstitious doubt as to the interlocutors of this
dialogue being of a ghostly character had lingered in the mind of
Diggory Falgate, the words about unshading the lantern removed it
completely; and the next instant a faint and misty light was seen
issuing from a low narrow doorway, which had apparently been left open
on the opposite side of the church, towards the eastern angle.

"Some vagabonds robbing the vaults," thought the painter to himself:
"I will see what they are about, at all risks. Perchance I may
frighten them, make them run over the sentinel, and escape in the
confusion. If he shoots one of them instead of me, it will be no great
matter; and of course, if these men are as anxious to get away as I
am, we shall make common cause and be too strong for him. But I will
watch for a minute first; and let them be fairly at their work, as
they call it, before I show myself."

Thus thinking, with a noiseless step he advanced towards the door
leading from the main body of the building to the vaults below, guided
by the light, which continued to glimmer faintly up, casting a misty
ray upon the communion-table. When he approached the arch, he looked
carefully forward at every step; but nothing could he see till he came
to the top of the stone stairs, when he perceived a dark lantern, with
the shade drawn back, standing on the ground at the bottom. No human
beings were visible, however, though he heard a rustling sound in the
vault, as if some living creatures were at no great distance; and the
next moment there came a sort of gurgling noise, as if some fluid were
poured out of a narrow-necked bottle. An instant after, the first
voice he had heard observed, in a pleasant and well-satisfied tone,
"That's very good! genuine Nantz, I declare."

"Ay, that it is," answered the second voice: "the stomach requires
comfort in such a cold and dismal place as this."

"Oh, 'tis nothing when one is used to it," rejoined the first speaker;
"but come, we had better do the business. There stands the coffin. You
bring the mallet, and I will take the chisel and bar."

Diggory Falgate did not like their proceedings at all, though he would
by no means have objected to a glass of cordial waters himself. But
they were evidently about to break open one of the coffins--every word
showed it; to violate the sanctity of the grave--to disturb the ashes
of the dead; and the poor painter had sufficient refinement of feeling
to think that the drinking of intoxicating liquors, while so engaged,
was an aggravation of their offence. The collocation of "genuine
Nantz, I declare," with "there stands the coffin," shocked and
horrified him; and he paused for a moment to consider, feeling as if
it would render him almost a partaker in the sacrilege if he were to
descend into the vault. A moment's thought, however, settled this case
of conscience; and by the time that he had settled his plan he heard a
hollow noise, as if some hard substance had struck against an empty
chest.

"Now is the time," he thought; "they are busy at their hellish work."

There stood the lantern on the ground beneath; the men were evidently
at some small distance. If he could get possession of the light and
shade it, they were at his mercy; and the only difficulty was how to
descend the stairs without calling their attention. Recollecting,
however, that it was the invariable practice of ghosts, whatever
sounds they might produce with any other organs with which they may be
endowed, to make no noise with their feet, the good painter stooped
down, took off his shoes, and put them in his pockets. Then with a
quiet and stealthy step he began the descent, totally unperceived by
those who were by this time busily engaged wrenching and tearing some
well-fastened woodwork.

Stooping down before he quite reached the bottom of the steps,
Diggory Falgate looked into the vault, and immediately perceived two
men, both of them somewhat advanced in life--one a thin, tall,
puritanical-looking person, dressed in black, raising with a chisel
and mallet the lid of a coffin which stood upon the ground. Forty or
fifty other coffins, some small and narrow, some large, were within
the pale glimpse of the lantern, and the painter's imagination filled
up the dark space which the rays did not reach with similar mementoes
of mortality. On his left hand, near the foot of the stairs, were four
coffins placed in a row, with three others laid crosswise upon them,
and all raised two or three feet from the floor by trestles. There was
a narrow sort of lane behind, between them and the damp wall, and
taking another step down, he brought himself as far on that side as
possible.

Just at that moment one of the men turned a little, so as to bring his
profile within the painter's view, and he instantly recognised a face
that he had seen at the "Swan" Inn in Hull, the day before his
expedition with Captain Barecolt and Arrah Neil.

"I'll wager any money it is that old villain, Dry, of Longsoaken, whom
I have heard them talk so much about," thought Falgate; but he was not
suffered to carry his meditations on that subject farther, for Mr.
Dry, turning his head away again towards his companion, said--
"I cannot see; get the lantern."

The painter had just time to slip behind the pile of coffins he had
observed, and to crouch down, before the other man, after having given
another vigorous wrench at the lid, laid down the bar he had in his
hands and moved towards the foot of the stairs. The rustle of the
surplice seemed to catch his ear, for he stopped for a moment,
apparently to listen; but the next instant he advanced again, took up
the lantern, looked round with a somewhat nervous stare, and then
returned to Mr. Dry.

"Did you not hear a noise?" he asked in a low voice.

Mr. Dry stopped in his proceedings and evidently trembled. Their
agitation gave courage to the painter, and creeping on so as to bring
himself nearly on a line with them, he ventured to utter a low groan.
Both the culprits started, and gazed around with hair standing on end
and teeth chattering.

"Now's the time!" thought Falgate, and taking two steps farther
towards the end of the lane formed by the coffins and the wall, he
uttered another groan, followed by a shrill unearthly shriek, and then
started up to his full height, as if he were rising from the midst of
the pile of mortal dust upon his right. The rays fell straight upon
the white garments and the face of this unexpected apparition, pale
and worn as he was by fatigue and fear. Struck with terror and
consternation, the limbs of the two men at first refused to move; but
when they saw this awful figure advancing straight towards them with
another hollow groan, they both darted away, the one crying--

"Through the church! through the church! It will catch you before you
can reach the other door!" and Mr. Dry followed at full speed towards
the steps by which Falgate had descended.

Not liking to be left in the vault in the dark, the painter sprang
after them with another wild shriek. Fortune favoured him more than
skill; for, just as the foremost of the fugitives was mounting the
steps, Mr. Dry seized hold of his cloak to stay his trembling limbs;
the other, who was the sexton, in the agony of his terror fancied the
ghost had caught him, dropped the lantern and rushed on, his companion
clinging close to him. Falgate instantly picked up the light before it
was extinguished, and drew the shade over it; and almost at the same
moment he heard the door above banged to by those he was pursuing, and
a bolt drawn; for they did not stay to inquire whether spiritual
beings are to be stopped by material substances or not.

The painter paused and listened; he heard quick steps beating the
pavement above, and then a door opening. The next instant came a loud
shout, and then the report of a pistol; then a shout again, then a
momentary silence, and lastly the quick galloping of a horse.

"Ha! Ha! Ha!" laughed Diggory: "they have cleared the way for me, and
left me master of the field of battle;" and he drew back the blind
from the lantern and looked about him.



                            CHAPTER XXXI.


Leaving poor Diggory Falgate to find his way out of the vault as best
he might, or, if he rather chose to stay there, to make what
discoveries he could, we must return by the reader's good leave to
some of the more important personages of our tale; premising, however,
that although we have dwelt thus long upon the adventures of the
worthy sign-painter, those adventures were by no means without their
influence upon the fate of the other personages in their history. We
must also pass over a period of several days since last we were at
Langley Hall, allowing the reader's imagination to supply the few and
quiet changes which time had brought about, no event of any
consequence having taken place in the interim.

It was a warm and glowing evening, though Autumn had spread his brown
mantle over the trees; and while fair Arrah Neil and Lady Margaret
Langley sat in the old lady's usual drawing-room, with the windows
open as in midsummer, Annie Walton was seated under a little clump of
beeches at the back of Langley Hall, the Earl of Beverley, somewhat
recovered from his wound, stretched on the dry grass at her feet.

They were happy enough to enjoy long pauses in conversation; for their
mutual love, as the reader has already been given to understand, was
known and acknowledged by each; and their minds, starting from one
common point, would run on in meditation along paths, separate indeed,
but not far distant, and then, like children playing in a meadow,
would return to show each other what flowers they had gathered.

"How calm and sweet the evening is!" said the earl, after one of these
breaks. "One would hardly fancy the year so far advanced. I love these
summer days in autumn, dearest. They often make me look on to after
years, and think of the tempered joys and tranquil pleasures of old
age, calling up the grand picture of latter life left us by a great
Roman orator, when the too vivid sun of youth and manhood has somewhat
sunk in the sky, and we have freshness as well as warmth, though not
the fervid heat of midsummer."

"I love them too," answered Miss Walton; "and I think that in every
season of the year there are days and hours of great beauty and
grandeur. Though I like the early summer best, yet I can admire the
clear winter sky, and the dazzling expanse of white that robes the
whole earth as if in ermine, and even the autumnal storm with its
fierce blast, loaded with sleet, and hail, and withered leaves. But I
was thinking, Francis, of how peaceful all things seem around, and
what a horrible and sinful thing it is for men to deform the beautiful
earth, and disturb the quiet of all God's creation with wild wars and
senseless contests."

"A woman's thought, dear Annie," replied the earl, "and doubtless it
_is_ sinful; but, alas? the sin is shared amongst so many, that it
would in any war be difficult to portion it out. 'Tis not alone to be
divided amongst those who fight or amongst those who lead; it is not
to be laid at the door of those who first take arms or those who
follow; it is not to be charged to the apparent aggressor: but every
one who, by folly, weakness, passion, prejudice, or hatred, lays the
foundation for strife in after years, has a share in the crime. Oh!
how many are the causes of war! Deeds often remote by centuries have
their part; and always many an act done long before rises up--like an
acorn buried in the ground and springing up into a tree--and is the
seed from which after contentions spring. Even in this very contest in
which we are now engaged, though we may see and say who is now right
and who is wrong, yet what man can separate the complex threads of the
tangled skein of the past, and tell who most contributed to bring
about that state which all wise men must regret? Years, long years
before this, the foundation was laid in the tyranny of Henry, in the
proud sway of Elizabeth, in the weak despotism of James, in the
persecution of the Papists of one reign, in that of the Puritans in
another; in lavish expenditure, in vicious indulgence, in favouritism
and minions, in the craving ambition of some subjects, in the
discontented spirit of others, in the interested selfishness, the
offended vanity, the mortified pride of thousands; in weak yieldings
to unjust demands, in stubborn resistance of just claims, in fond
adherence to ancient forms, in an insatiate love of novelty and
change: and all this spread through generations, dear Annie, all of
which have their part in the result and the responsibility."

"Too wide a range, Francis, for my weak mind to take in," replied the
lady; "but I do know it is sad to see a land that once seemed happy
overspread with rapine and wrong, and deluged in blood."

"To hear no more the church-bells ringing gaily," said the earl with a
smile, "or to see the market and the fair deserted. These may indeed
seem trivial things; but yet they are amongst those that bring home to
our hearts most closely the disruption of all those ties that bind men
together in social union."

"But there are in the home of every one more terrible proofs than that
of the great evil," answered Miss Walton. "Never to see a friend, a
brother, a father, quit our side without the long train of fearful
inquiries--When shall I see him again? Will it be for ever? How shall
we meet, and where? Oh, Francis! how many a heart feels this like mine
throughout the land! Danger, accident, and death, at other times dim,
distant forms that we hardly see, are now become familiar thoughts,
the companions of every fireside; and calm security and smiling hope
are banished afar, as if never to return."

"Oh! they will come back, dear Annie," replied the earl. "This is a
world of change. The April day of man's fluctuating passions has never
cloud or sunshine long. No sooner does the calm light of peace
overspread the sky than storms are seen gathering on the horizon; and
no sooner do war and tumult imitate the tempest in destruction and
ruin than a glimpse of the blue heaven gleams through the shadow, and
gives promise of brighter moments at another hour."

"But that hour is often a lifetime," answered the lady. "We are but at
the beginning shall we ever see the close?"

"Who can say?" rejoined Lord Beverley; "but one thing is certain,
Annie. We are under God's will, my beloved. He can lengthen or shorten
the time of trial at his pleasure; we ourselves, and all the men with
whom or against whom we may act, are but his instruments. We can no
more stride beyond the barrier he has fixed than the sea can pass the
boundary of sands with which he has surrounded it. Our task is to do
that which we conscientiously believe it is our duty to him to do in
the circumstances wherein he has placed us; and we may be sure that,
however much we may be mistaken, if such is our object and purpose,
the errors of understanding will never be visited on our heads as
crimes by him who knows the capabilities of every creature that he has
made, and can judge between intention and execution. God punishes sins
and not mistakes, dear girl; he tries the heart as well as the
actions, and holds the balance even between each; and though we may
suffer in this world for the errors of others or for our own, there is
exhaustless compensation in the hand of the Almighty for those who
seek to do his will, and those who wilfully disobey it."

"I have learned a lesson on that score from the dear girl within
there," replied Miss Walton; and as she spoke she naturally turned her
eyes to the room where she knew Arrah Neil was sitting. "What can be
the matter?" she continued instantly: "see! Arrah is making eager
signs to us to come in!"

The earl rose slowly and with difficulty; and before he had advanced
more than a step or two with Annie Walton, who hastened anxiously to
return to the house, Arrah Neil, with her sunny brown hair floating
wildly about her face, came running out to meet them.

"Quick, quick, my lord, for pity's sake!" she cried "there is a large
body of men before the drawbridge. The people are holding them in
parley; the Lady Margaret says she can conceal you from all eyes if
you make haste." She spoke with breathless eagerness; and Lord
Beverley hurried his pace as much as possible, but with perfect
calmness, turning with a smile to Annie Walton, and saying--

"Fresh evils of civil war, Annie; but I fear not the result."

The time occupied in crossing to the house seemed fearfully long to
Miss Walton and Arrah Neil; but they found Lady Margaret waiting
tranquilly enough at the small door that led into the meadow, and the
old lady's only words were--

"Follow;" to the earl; and "Wait in the withdrawing-room--they will
not let them in till I order it," to her two fair guests. Then leading
the way with a calm step, she conducted Lord Beverley up the same
stairs and through the same passages which she had followed with her
niece on the first night of her stay at Langley Hall; but turning a
little to the right at the door of Annie Walton's chamber, she brought
the earl into a small detached room, which seemed isolated from every
other part of the building.

"Here you will be safe," she said.

"I think not, dear Lady Margaret," replied Lord Beverley, with a smile
at what he thought her want of experience in such matters.

"We will see," she answered, advancing to the other side of the room,
where stood a huge antique fireplace, with a chimney-piece of rich
wrought stone. "No moving pictures, no sliding panels here," said Lady
Margaret; "but place your hand upon that pillar, my good lord, and
push it strongly--more strongly towards the hearth. There," she
continued, as the whole mass swung back, displaying an aperture large
enough for a man to pass, but not without stooping; "you will find a
bolt within which will make it as fast as masonry. The stairs lead you
into rooms below, where no one can come without my leave. You shall be
supplied with all you want.--But, hark! On my life, they have let the
men in!  Quick, my lord, and bolt the door. I will send somebody soon
but I must go down lest those girls make some mistake if questioned."

Lord Beverley entered at once, and feeling over the face of the stone
for the bolt, pushed it home, and made the whole secure. He then
paused and listened, waiting patiently for several minutes. At first
he could hear no sound in the remote and well-covered place where he
was concealed; but at length he caught the noise of voices and steps
running hither and thither in the house. They came near, passed away
into other chambers on the left, returned, sounded in the passage, and
then in the adjoining room. He could perceive that several men
entered, examined the wainscot, tried every panel, moved every article
of furniture, and at length shook the mantel-piece and the stone
pillars on either side of the chimney; but the bolt held close and
fast, and the receding steps showed him that these unwelcome visiters
had turned their course elsewhere.



                            CHAPTER XXXII.


Good Lady Margaret Langley had seen troublous days, and was well
fitted by a strong understanding to deal with them; but one of the
advantages of misfortune, if I may use so strange a phrase, is, that
experience of danger suggests precautions which long prosperity knows
not how to take, even in the moment of the greatest need. As soon as
she had left the Earl of Beverley, instead of going direct to the part
of the house where she heard the voices of her unwished-for visiters,
she directed her steps through sundry long and intricate passages,
which ultimately led her to a small door communicating with the
garden, smiling as she did so at distinguishing the fierce growl of
her good dog Basto in the hall, and the querulous tone of an old man
calling loudly for some one to remove the hound, showing apparently
that some visiting justice was kept at bay by that good sentinel.
Passing through the garden and round by the path across the lawn, Lady
Margaret approached the windows of her own withdrawing-room, just as a
party, consisting of five militia-men with the parliamentary justice
of Beverley, entered the chamber in haste; and she heard the justice
demand in a sharp tone, addressing Miss Walton and Arrah Neil--

"Who are you, young women? What are your names?"

The old lady hurried in, to stop anything like an imprudent reply; but
she had the satisfaction of hearing her niece answer--

"Nay, sir; methinks it is for us to ask who are you, and what brings
you hither in such rude and intrusive guise."

"Well said, my sweet Annie!" thought Lady Margaret; but entering
quickly she presented herself before the justice, whom she knew,
exclaiming--

"Ha, Master Shortcoat! good morning to you. What brings you hither?
and who are these men in buff and bandolier? I am not fond of seeing
such in my house. We had trouble enough with them or their like, a few
nights ago."

"Ay, lady, that is what brings us," replied the justice. "I have
orders from Hull to inquire into that affair, and to search your house
for the bloody-minded malignants here concealed, who slaughtered like
lambs a number of godly men even within sight of your door, and then
took refuge in Langley Hall. I must search, lady--I must search."

"Search, if you will, from the cellars to the garret," replied Lady
Margaret; "but the story told me by those who did take refuge here was
very different, Master Shortcoat. They said that, peaceably passing
along the country, they were attacked by a body of bloody-minded
factious villains, who slaughtered some of them, and drove the rest in
here, where finding some of their companions waiting for them, they
issued forth again to punish the knaves who had assailed them."

"It's all a lie, good woman!" exclaimed an officer of militia. "But
who are these girls? for there was a woman amongst them."

"You are a rude companion, sirrah!" answered Lady Margaret. "These
ladies are of my own family--this one my niece, Mistress Anne Walton;
and this my cousin, Mistress Arabella Langley."

"Come, come," said another, interposing; "we are wasting time, while
perhaps those we seek may be escaping. It is not women we want, but
men. Search the house, Master Justice, with all speed. I will go one
way with two or three of the men--go you another with the rest."

"Stay, stay!" said Justice Shortcoat; "you are too quick: we cannot
make due inquest if you interrupt us so. Lady, I require to know who
were the persons in your house who went forth to assist the malignants
on the night of Wednesday last."

"Why, I have told you already, Master Shortcoat. You must be hard of
hearing. Did I not say they were friends of theirs who were waiting
here for them? In these times, when subjects are governors and
servants masters, how can I keep out any one who chooses to come in?
That very night one of the men swam the moat, and let down the
drawbridge for himself. How am I to stop such things? If I could, I
would keep every party out that appeared with more than two, be they
who they might. I seek but to live a peaceable life; but you, and
others like you, break in at all hours, disturbing my quiet. Out upon
you all! Search, search where you will! You can find nothing here but
myself and my own people."

"Well, we will search, lady," replied the officer of militia who had
spoken before. "Come, worshipful Master Shortcoat--let us not waste
more time;" and seizing him by the arm, he dragged rather than led him
away.

The moment he was gone, Lady Margaret whispered in Annie Walton's ear,
"Quick, Annie! run to the room where all the maidens sit, and tell
them, if asked what mean the clothes in the earl's chamber and the
blood upon them, to say that they are those of one who was killed the
other night, and that the body was carried away by his comrades. I
will go to the men's hall and to the kitchen, and do the same. You
hear, sweet Arrah? such must be our tale;" and away the old lady went.
But she found the task of communicating this hint somewhat more
difficult than she had expected, for the hall was half full of the
parliamentary militia, and she had to send her servants to different
parts of the house, one upon one pretence, and another upon another,
before she could find the opportunity of speaking with them in
private.

In the mean while she heard with a smile the feet of the justice and
his companions running through all the rooms and passages of this
wide, rambling pile of building, except those which, separated from
the rest by stone partitions, and forming a sort of house within the
house, could only be discovered either by one already acquainted with
some of the several entrances, or by the line and rule of the
architect. She had just done instructing her servants, not having
omitted, as she thought, one of the household, when feet were heard
descending the principal stairs, and the perquisitions were commenced
in that wing of the hall in which the room inhabited by the Earl of
Beverley was situated.

In a few minutes the justice and one of the militia-men returned,
carrying a cloak and a heavy riding-boot, and demanding with a
triumphant laugh, "Where is he to whom these belong?"

"In the grave, probably," replied Lady Margaret, with perfect
composure. "If you are authorized to take possession of dead men's
property, you may keep them; and indeed you have a better right to
them than I have, for your people shot him, so that you have only to
divide the spoil."

"Do you mean to say, Lady Margaret, that the man is dead?" asked
Justice Shortcoat, with a look of some surprise and consternation.

"All the better if he be," exclaimed the officer of militia; "'tis but
one malignant the less in the world. But let us hear more, worshipful
Master Shortcoat. I don't believe this story. Let us have in the
servants one by one----"

"Ay, one by one," said the justice, who was one of the men who
may be called Echoes, and who repeat other men's ideas in a very
self-satisfied tone. "You see about it, sir, and ensure that there be
no collusion."

The whole matter was soon arranged; and Lady Margaret, taking her
wonted chair, drew an embroidery-frame towards her, through which she
passed the needle to and fro with the utmost calmness, while sweet
Annie Walton sat with a beating heart beside Arrah Neil, who, with the
tranquil fortitude that had now come over her, watched the proceedings
of the intruders as if she had been a mere spectator. The magistrate
placed himself pompously at the table in the midst; the officer, who
had now been joined by two companions with various other articles from
the earl's chamber, stood at Master Shortcoat's right hand to prompt
him; and then the servants were called in singly, and asked to whom
the clothes belonged which had been found.

"To the gentleman who was killed," replied the man, William, who was
first examined.

"And where is the corpse?" demanded the officer of militia.

"I do not know," replied the servant; "they took it away with them."

"Was he killed at once, or did he die here?" asked the officer

"He lingered a little, I believe," answered William.

The justice looked at the officer, and the latter said, "You may go;
see him through the hall, Watson."

Another and another servant was called, and all gave the same answers
till they came to the maids, who had not been so well or fully
instructed by fair Annie Walton as the men had been by her aunt. Their
first reply, indeed, was the same--that he was dead; but when they
were interrogated as to the time of his death, they hesitated and
stumbled a little; but they were generally girls of good sense, and
contrived to get out of the scrape by saying that they did not know,
as they had not seen him till he was dead; and all agreed that the
corpse had been taken away.

At length, however, at the last, appeared the scullion; and Lady
Margaret's face for the first time showed some anxiety, as the girl
had not been in the kitchen when she visited it, and, to say truth,
had been hearing some sweet words from a soldier in the court. When
the usual first question was asked her, namely, whom the clothes
belonged to, she replied--

"To the gentleman who was brought in wounded."

"And who died shortly after," said Lady Margaret, fixing her eyes upon
her.

"Do not venture to prompt her, lady," said the officer, turning
sternly towards her. "Speak, girl, and tell truth. Did he die?"

"I never heard as he died," answered the scullion.

"Do you know where he is now?" asked the justice.

"No, that I don't," replied the girl. "I have not seen him to-day."

Both judge and officer gazed at her with a frowning brow, and
demanded, one after the other--

"Did you see him yesterday?"

Poor Annie Walton's heart fluttered as if it would have broken through
her side; but the girl, after a moment's consideration, replied,
somewhat confusedly--

"I don't know as I did."

"Then, when did you see him last?" inquired the militia-man.

"I can't tell," answered the scullion. "I don't justly know. I saw him
the night he was brought in, for the men laid him down on the floor
there, and I saw him through the door chink, just where Basto is
lying."

She pointed to the dog as she spoke, and he, with whom she was by no
means a favourite, started up with a sharp growl and rushed towards
her. He was checked by his mistress's voice, however; but the girl,
uttering a terrified shriek, ran out of the room, and the officers
with the justice laid their heads together over the table, conversing
for some minutes in a low tone.

At length the worshipful magistrate raised his eyes, and turning to
Lady Margaret he said--

"Madam, it is clear that this is a very dark and mysterious affair;
and any one can see with half an eye that you have given shelter and
comfort to notorious malignants. It is, therefore, my unpleasant duty
to quarter upon you a guard of twenty men, under this worshipful
gentleman, who will take what means he may think proper for
discovering the dark practices which clearly have occurred here."

"In this dark clear case, sir," replied Lady Margaret, with a stiff
and haughty air, "will it not be better to furnish them with a general
warrant? Its having been pronounced illegal will be no obstacle with
those who set all law at defiance. As to quartering those men upon a
widow lady, I care little about it, so that I do not see them. Keep
them away from the apartments of my family, and you may put them where
you like. If they come near me, I will drive them forth with that
feather broom. Away with you all, and keep out of my sight,
wheresoever you bestow yourselves. Or do you intend to spoil the
Egyptians, and take my beef and beer, or my goods and chattels?"

"Though you are uncivil to us, lady," said the officer, who, perhaps,
thought that the comfort of his quarters might depend upon fair words,
"we do not intend to be uncivil to you. We will give you no trouble so
long as you and your people comport yourselves properly; and in the
trust that you will do so, I shall now retire, and fix the rooms for
my men as I shall judge expedient, of course not interfering with your
accommodation. Come, Master Shortcoat."

"Stay, sir!" said Lady Margaret. "You speak well. Perhaps I was too
warm; but all these intrusions into a peaceable household do heat one.
I will see that you have all that you want and can desire; I wish to
show you no inhospitality," and she bowed with graceful dignity as the
Roundhead party retired.



                           CHAPTER XXXIII.


Night had succeeded to day, and that day had been an uneasy one; for
during the hours of light that remained after the parliamentary
militia had taken possession of Langley Hall, Lady Margaret had in
vain endeavoured to find some opportunity of opening one of the
several doors which led into the private rooms and passages of the
house. Wherever she went she found one or other of the soldiers on the
watch, and she became alarmed lest the want of necessary food should,
in the earl's weakened state, prove detrimental to his health.

Miss Walton said nothing; but her beautiful eyes were so full of
anxious thought, that whenever they turned upon her aunt, the good old
lady felt her heart ache for the painful apprehensions which she knew
were in her fair niece's bosom; and as the shades of evening fell, she
rang for her servant William, and asked him several questions in a low
tone. What his answers were, neither Annie Walton nor Arrah Neil could
hear for some time; but at length, in reply to some injunction of his
mistress, he said aloud, "I will try, my lady; but I do not think it
will do. He is a sad, sober man, and when they were eating, shortly
after they came, he would drink little or nothing."

"Well, give him my message," said Lady Margaret, "and if he will not
drink, we must find another means. Warn all the tenants, William,
to-morrow early, that they may be wanted; but now go, and see the wine
be the best in the cellar."

The man retired, but in a few minutes after he opened the door again,
announcing Captain Hargood, and the commander of the small force left
at the Hall made his appearance with a ceremonious bow.

"Madam," he said, "I hope you do not put yourself to inconvenience or
restraint to ask a stranger to your table who is here against your
will, and in some degree against his own."

"Not in the least, Captain Hargood," answered Lady Margaret; "I always
have loved and esteemed brave men, whatever be their party; and
though, in all that is justifiable, I would never scruple to oppose to
the death an enemy, yet where we are not antagonists I would always
wish to show courtesy and forget enmity."

"I hope, madam, you will not consider me as an enemy," replied the
officer.

"Whoever keeps forcible possession of my fortress," said the old lady,
with a smile, "must be so for the time; but let us not speak of
unpleasant things--supper must be served," and advancing
unembarrassed, she rested her hand upon the arm of her unwelcome
guest, and led the way with him to the hall.

But the stout Roundhead was not one to lose his active watchfulness by
indulging in the pleasures of the table. The wine was excellent, and
the servants were always ready to fill for him; but he drank
sparingly, and Lady Margaret did not venture to press him, lest her
purpose should become apparent, and lead to suspicions beyond.

After partaking lightly of the wine, she rose, and with her two fair
companions retired, leaving him with the potent beverage still on the
board, in the hope that he might indulge more freely when he was
alone. As soon as they were in the withdrawing-room, she explained to
Annie Walton and Arrah Neil, in low but earnest tones, the exact
position of the room in which was the entrance to the secret passage
which she had opened for Lord Beverley, and the means of making him
hear and withdraw the bolt.

"I will send up a basket of food and wine to your chamber, Annie," she
said; "and as soon as all seems quiet in the house, you and our dear
Arrah go, by the moonlight if you can, to that place, and try to gain
admission. If you should fail, or if you should find any one on the
watch, come down to me. They have so scattered their men about, that
it is well-nigh hopeless before they go to sleep. It would almost seem
that they knew whereabouts the doors lie. There is one means, indeed,
and that must be taken if all others fail; yet I would fain shrink
from it."

"What means is that, dear aunt?" asked Annie Walton.

But the old lady replied that it mattered not; and shortly after they
separated, and the two fair girls retired to their chamber. Miss
Walton's maids were there ready to aid her in undressing; and though
Annie and her friend had much to say to each other, all private
conversation was stayed for the time. Shortly after Lady Margaret's
chief woman appeared with a covered basket, set it down, and retired
without saying a word; and in a few minutes more Annie sent her
maidens to bed, saying that she would sit up for a while, and adding,
"Leave me a lamp on that table."

But, now that they had the opportunity of speaking more freely, Arrah
Neil and her noble friend could but poorly take advantage of it, so
eager were they to watch for the diminution of all sounds in the hall.
They did speak, indeed, words of kindly comfort and support; and
manifold dreamy reasonings took place on all the events of the day,
and their probable consequences; but still they interrupted their
speech continually to listen, till all at length seemed profoundly
still, and Arrah whispered--

"Now I think we may go."

"Yet but a moment or two, dear Arrah," replied Miss Walton. "Let them
be sound asleep."

In deep silence they remained for about a quarter of an hour, but then
Annie herself rose and proposed to go.

"I am grown such a coward, Arrah," she said, "that I would fain
perform this task speedily, and fain escape it too."

"'Tis the desire to do it," answered her fair companion, "that creates
the fear of failing. But let me go, Annie, if you dread it so much."

"Nay, nay! No hand but mine, for worlds!" exclaimed the young lady.
"But come, I am ready; let us go."

Slowly and quietly opening the door, they issued forth into the
passages, and, remembering as well as they could Lady Margaret's
direction, were making their way towards the room to which she had led
the earl, when suddenly, out of a neighbouring chamber, walked the
officer of militia, and stood confronting them in the midst of the
passage. Annie Walton trembled, and caught poor Arrah's arm to stop
her; but her fair companion was more self-possessed, and whispering,
"Come on; show no fear!" she advanced straight towards the officer,
saying aloud--

"Will you have the kindness, sir, to accompany us to the door of Lady
Margaret's chamber? We are afraid of meeting some of your men, who
might be uncivil."

"Do you not think that Lady Margaret may be asleep by this time?"
asked the officer, with a doubtful smile.

"Oh, dear, no!" replied Annie Walton, who had gained courage from her
fair companion's presence of mind. "She never goes to bed till one or
two. Perhaps we may even find her in the withdrawing-room."

"I think not," said the officer; "but we can easily see." And thus
speaking, he led the way down, having made himself thoroughly
acquainted with the ordinary passages of the house.

The door of the usual sitting-room was ajar, a light was within, and
the officer put in his head. Instantly perceiving Lady Margaret
Langley seated reading, and recollecting her threatened vengeance if
any one of his band approached her apartments, he said, "I have
escorted these two young ladies hither, madam, as they were afraid to
come alone."

"I thank you, sir," replied the old lady, laying down the book. "Down,
Basto! down! Come hither, Annie. Close the door, my sweet Arrah. I
thank you, sir. Good night. They are foolish, frightened girls; but I
will see them back when we have done our evening duties."

The perfect tranquillity of the old lady's manner removed the
suspicion which Captain Hargood had certainly entertained; and closing
the door, he retired to the room he had chosen for himself.

As soon as he was gone, Lady Margaret said, in a low tone, "So you
were stopped, I suppose, by that rascal?"

"Yes, indeed," replied Annie Walton: "we had scarce taken twenty paces
when he met us, and I was fool enough to lose all judgment; but this
dear girl saved us both."

"Well," rejoined Lady Margaret, "there is but one means, then. I am
weak, girls--very weak--or I would not have kept the good earl so long
in darkness and in hunger for my own foolish thoughts. Come with me;"
and, opening the door which led from the right-hand side of the
withdrawing-room to her own chamber, she went in, closing it again
when they had both passed, and fastening it with a bolt. She then
paused for a moment in the midst, gazing down upon the floor with a
look of deep sadness, and then approached a large closet, which she
opened. It was full of shelves; but, putting her hand upon one of
them, Lady Margaret drew it forth, laid it down beside her, and pushed
hard against the one below. It instantly receded with the whole back
of the closet, showing the entrance to a room beyond.

"See, but say nothing," whispered the old lady; and while Annie Walton
followed with the lamp, she entered before them.

It was a small room, fitted up somewhat like a chapel, but hung with
tapestry. At the farther end was a table or altar, covered with a
linen cloth yellow with age, and having beneath what Annie Walton
imagined to be the chalice and plate of the communion. Above, however,
hung the picture of a very young woman, whose sweet and radiant look,
yet tender and mournful eyes, might well have accorded with a
representation of the Blessed Virgin; but the figure was dressed in
the fashion of no very remote time; and as soon as Lady Margaret
raised her eyes to it, the tears rose in them, and tottering to one of
the large crimson chairs that were ranged along the side, she sank
into it and bent her head in silence.

Annie Walton and Arrah Neil stood and gazed upon the picture as if
they were both fascinated, but neither spoke; and at length Lady
Margaret rose again, saying abruptly, "I am a fool, and will be so no
more. This is the chamber of retribution, my sweet Arrah," she
continued, approaching the two fair girls, and taking the lamp out of
the hand of Miss Walton. "Here for many a year I and one now gone wept
and prayed for forgiveness;" and, holding up the lamp towards the
picture, she gazed at it with a mournful look. Then, laying her hand
upon the edge of the cloth which covered the table, she seemed about
to withdraw it, but paused, and her face became almost livid with
emotion. "I will do it!" she said at length; "I will do it--but say
nothing--ask no question--utter not a word!"

As she spoke, she cast back the cloth; and lying on the table, which
was covered with crimson velvet, appeared a pale and gory human head,
severed at the neck. The face was turned up, the eyes were closed,
the mouth was partly open, and the fine white teeth were shown.
Though pale as ashes, the traces of great beauty remained in the
finely-chiselled features: the curling lip, covered with the dark
moustache; the wide, expansive brow, the high forehead, the blue tinge
of the eyes shining through the dark-fringed lids--all showed that in
life it must have been the face of as handsome a man as ever had been
seen, but over all was the grey shade of death.

Annie Walton started back in terror; but Lady Margaret turned to her
sternly and sadly, saying, "Foolish girl! it is but wax. For you it
has none of those memories that give it life for me. There--you have
seen enough!" and she drew the cloth back again over that sad memento.
Then, gazing for a moment again at the picture, the old lady set the
lamp down upon the table; and casting her arms round the fair neck of
Arrah Neil, she leaned her eyes upon her shoulder and wept bitterly.

Annie Walton would not intrude upon her aunt's grief, either by asking
any questions or by calling to her remembrance the situation of the
Earl of Beverley, although, as soon as the first impression of the
extraordinary spectacle which had been presented to her had passed
away, the state in which her lover had been so long kept naturally
occurred to her mind. But Lady Margaret, herself a woman of strong and
vigorous character, though somewhat eccentric in her habits of
thought, soon roused herself, and starting up she wiped the tears from
her eyes, exclaiming, "This is not all folly, my child; but yet any
grief, if it prevent us from doing our duty, is a weakness and a
wrong. Come, we will soon find the earl."

Miss Walton took up the basket; and Lady Margaret, with the light,
approached a door on the other side of the room which led to a narrow
and very steep staircase; but Arrah Neil paused till the light was
nearly gone, to gaze at the picture, and when she at length followed,
her eyes too were running over with bright drops. A long passage at
the top of the stairs conducted them to a door, which Lady Margaret
gently opened, exposing a room within, furnished with a chair, a bed,
and a small table, by which the earl was sitting, his head resting on
his hand.

As may readily be supposed, he was well pleased to see his visiters;
for long solitude in darkness and uncertainty, without occupation,
will have a depressing effect upon the firmest heart and best
regulated mind. The cause of their long absence was soon explained;
and, the acceptable stores which they brought being taken from the
basket and deposited on the table, though Annie Walton would fain have
remained some time to console her lover in his imprisonment, he too
strongly felt the danger of her so doing to permit it; and, only
petitioning that when any one returned some books might be added to
his store, to while away the hours of solitude, he saw them depart,
though not without a sigh. No interruption took place on the return of
the two young ladies to their room, and the night passed over without
any other event deserving of notice.



                            CHAPTER XXXIV.


Tan household of Lady Margaret Langley was increased, during the day
following the adventures related in the last two chapters, by the
return of two stout servants, whom she had sent upon various errands
to a considerable distance from Langley Hall; and in the evening the
steward and his man came back, as they termed it--though, in truth,
they both ordinarily lived in a house and cottage about two miles
off--to the dwelling of the good lady. The hind, too, arrived, and
took up his lodging in the house; and the shrewd servant, William, was
busy amongst the farmers and tenants, talking with one, whispering
with another, winking at a third. Langley Hall in truth became quite a
gay place; for, in addition to the militia-men from Beverley, every
morning saw five or six good yeomen, sometimes eight or nine,
attending Lady Margaret's orders and directions about farming matters.
Captain Hargood felt somewhat uneasy; for these visiters, all stout
men and generally armed, became so numerous that he saw it was not at
all unlikely that in process of time he might be outnumbered in the
Hall. He perceived that, should such be the case, at any unexpected
moment he might easily be overpowered, if the disposition which he had
at first made of his men continued; for, scattered over that large,
rambling mansion, in order to watch what was taking place in every
part at once, there were not to be found more than two or three of the
militia together at any one given point; and it was by no means an
easy or rapid process to gather them from their several quarters into
one body for the stairs and passages, the rooms and ante-rooms, the
lobbies and galleries, the halls and corridors, were so intricate and
in such number, that it was a good half-hour's march from one end of
the house to the other; and the shutting of a door or barricading of a
passage might in a moment isolate any one party from the rest. He
could not help fancying, too, that Lady Margaret felt the advantage of
her position, and that there was something more than chance in this
influx of tenantry; and thus the feeling of security with which he had
taken possession of Langley Hall soon disappeared, and he became very
uneasy indeed.

In after periods of the civil war, when the bold and decided tone of
the parliament had spread to the whole party, and the simple justice
or petty commissioner, knowing that any violence against a malignant
would receive countenance and applause from those who had the power of
the state in their hands, ventured every excess against their enemies,
Captain Hargood would have overcome the difficulty at once by marching
off Lady Margaret and the principal members of her household to
Beverley or Hull. But the Roundhead party, in remote provinces, had
not yet acquired full confidence either in its strength or in its
leaders; and steps afterwards taken as a matter of course were now not
even thought of. His only resource, therefore, was to reinforce his
numbers, if possible, and to make such changes in the disposition of
his men in the mean while as would guard against surprise.

During the hours, then, at which the hall was thronged with the
tenants and farmers, he gathered his men together into one part of the
house, and there kept them till he found that the visiters who alarmed
him were departing. But this was all that Lady Margaret desired; and,
the unpleasant espial being removed from about nine in the morning
till about one o'clock, ample time was afforded for very easy
communication with the Earl of Beverley, both to cheer him by the
society of his friends and supply him with all that might be necessary
to his comfort.

As only one of the party could venture to be absent at a time, it may
easily be supposed that Annie Walton was the person most frequently
fixed upon, as she was certainly the one best fitted to console the
weary hours of the earl in the strange sort of captivity to which he
was reduced; and many and many a happy hour, during the next four
days, did the two lovers spend together.

Of the present they had but little to say. No news of any importance
reached the Hall, and the brief laugh excited by the success of Lady
Margaret's stratagem for driving the militia-men into one particular
portion of the house soon passed away. It was upon the past and upon
the future, then, that their thoughts and conversation principally
turned; but, though the mind of Annie Walton certainly rested more
often and more anxiously upon the coming years than upon the past, yet
the apprehensions that she entertained regarding them, the too intense
interest they excited, and the agitation which the contemplation of
all that might take place produced, naturally led her to seek relief
in the softened influences of the past; and she would willingly dwell
with her lover upon all the thousand little events of early days,
showing him, without reserve, all the secrets of her own pure and
guileless heart, and seeking playfully and yet eagerly to discover
those of his.

Nor did he much strive to conceal them, although there were, of
course, some things that he would not say; but whenever he saw that
she was deeply interested, and that mystery might create doubts
injurious to her peace, he was as frank and free as she was: sporting,
perhaps, a little with her curiosity, but always satisfying it in the
end. He did not, indeed, amuse himself or her, to use the words of a
sweet old song that one time cheered my infancy, by


                   Tales telling of loves long ago,


although she was curious to know whether the heart, the possession of
which she so much valued, had never been given to any but herself; and
indeed could hardly believe that, amongst all the scenes through which
he had passed, amongst the fair and beautiful with whom he had
mingled, and in all the varying events in which he had taken a part,
some one had not been found to love and be beloved, by one whom she
felt it difficult to imagine any woman could behold without feeling
the same sensation towards him that she experienced herself.

At first, indeed, she did not venture to question, but merely
suggested with playful smiles the confession which she strove to
extort. Then, when he spoke of beautiful scenes in other lands, or of
bright and happy moments in former days, she would laugh, and ask
whether there had not been some one near to give light to the light
and add sweet to the sweetness; and he would reply sportively, "Oh! a
multitude, dear Annie! I can assure you that in those days every woman
was fair to my young eyes, and every smiling jest was full of wit."

But when she pressed him closer still, and inquired whether, amongst
the many, there had not been one brighter than them all, who had found
means to eclipse the loveliness around and make herself the beloved,
the earl would draw her closer to him, and, gazing on the lids of her
downcast eyes, would answer, "Nay, Annie, but I must have your
confession first. Have you never loved before? Has no one, ere I knew
you, brushed off with a touch the bloom of that dear heart before it
was ripe for me?"

"Never, never!" she cried. "Never, Francis! I have had no one to love.
Little as I have seen of the world, few as were those who have
frequented our house since I was a mere girl, it was not likely, that
I should meet with any who should either care to make themselves
agreeable to me or have the power of doing so. I can assure you that,
had it not been for my brother Charles, till I met with you I should
have thought men very dull things indeed. We had, it is true, more
than once, a crowd of roystering Cavaliers, and, more frequently
still, half-a-dozen prim Puritans, staying in the house or in the
neighbourhood; but the first were all too gay for me, the others all
too sad; the one set too fond of their fine clothes and their fine
horses, the others too fond of their own selves, for them to care for
me or I to care for them. One man, indeed, asked my father for my hand
when I was a girl of fifteen; but my father saved me the trouble of
saying no, by valuing me at too high a price to part with me. But with
you, Francis, it is very different: you have mingled with the bright
dames of France and the beautiful ones of Italy and Spain; and I
cannot even hope that you should have escaped heart-whole, to lay your
first affections at the feet of poor Annie Walton, a country girl,
well-nigh ignorant of courts, and of all the graces that you must have
seen elsewhere."

"I have seen none like her, Annie," said Lord Beverley, in a tone of
deep earnestness; "and I will tell you in truth and sincerity, I never
loved till I did see her. I may have admired; I may have been pleased;
but there have been things in my fate and history which came dimly
between me and all others, like those glasses which star-gazers use to
look upon the sun without having their eyes dazzled; and even, dearest
Annie, when that thick veil was over me the moat, I was still the
gayest, jesting with the light, laughing with the gay, and draining
the bowl of pleasure to the dregs, even when the draught was most
tasteless to my lips."

"Indeed!" said Annie Walton, gravely; "that seems strange to me."

"And yet it is true," replied the earl: "nay, more--it is common,
Annie. Every man has his own secrets in his heart, and each his own
way of hiding them--one in a dark, gloomy pall, one in a gay and
glittering veil; and the latter was my case, sweet one. But perchance
you have never heard the tale of what happened to my house in older
times. My mother's brother was an Irish lord of a high and noble
nature--wild, daring, and somewhat rash. For some poor and trifling
fault he was pursued, unjustly, I believe--at all events, with unjust
severity--in courts he did not recognise, to the confiscation of his
property. He laughed such laws to scorn, however, defied them to take
him from his mountain-holds, and added attainture to the judgment
against him; but he had strong enemies even in his native country.
Troops were led up through passes that he thought secure, by men who
knew them but too well. His castle--for it was a house well
fortified--was attacked and stormed, he being absent from it at the
time; and my poor sister, a young child I loved most dearly, then but
waiting for an opportunity of returning to her own home, perished in
the flames, for they burned his dwelling to the ground. He himself was
taken on his return, and, with indecent haste and many illegal
circumstances, was condemned and executed."

"Good heaven!" cried Annie Walton, a wild fancy suddenly presenting
itself to her mind. "Can it be that Arrah Neil is your sister? There
are several strange things regarding her, and I may tell you she is
not what she seems."

"No," answered Lord Beverley; "oh, no, my beloved! that could not be.
My sister would now be seven or eight years older than poor Arrah,
and, besides, the body was not so disfigured that it could not be
recognised. She died beyond all doubt. In grief and indignation my
father and my mother appealed to the king of England, strove to remove
my uncle's trial to some more fit and competent tribunal before his
sentence was pronounced, showed the evident illegality of many of the
proceedings against him, petitioned, prayed--in vain. He died as I
have said, and then to remonstrances they added complaints and
reproaches, withdrew from the court, and uttered words which were
construed into high offences; fines and punishments followed upon
those whose hands had aided to uphold the monarch, and in bitter
disgust at man's ingratitude, in abhorrence of his falsehood and
indignation at his injustice, I quitted England, wandering over many
distant lands, and resolving never to return. I sought forgetfulness,
Annie; I sought pleasure, amusement--anything which, if it could not
take the thorn out of my heart, might at least assuage the pain.--But,
hark! there is the signal that you must return," and with one brief
caress they parted.



                            CHAPTER XXXV.


Annie Walton, on her return to Lady Margaret's sitting-room,
accompanied by Arrah Neil, who had given the signal agreed upon as a
notification that longer stay would be dangerous, found her good aunt
seated, her head leaning on her hand, listening to some intelligence
brought by her faithful servant William, who stood before her, with
his usual well-satisfied and shrewd look, detailing a valuable
discovery which he had just made.

"It is indeed so, my lady," he said: "they have corrupted her, there
can be no doubt. Give me a Puritan for ploughing with the heifer. I
saw the fellow Jones and the girl, with their two heads near together,
in the court; and as I was close to the casement and the casement was
open, I drew up against the wall, saying to myself, traitors make
eaves-droppers."

"What did they say? what did they say?" demanded Lady Margaret. "We
must come to a quick decision, William."

"Why, all I heard, my lady, was, that the trullion said to the
Roundhead, 'It is quite sure, for I saw her go in myself, and when she
had been there for two or three minutes I walked in too, just as if I
was going to look for something. There's no other way out of the room
to be seen, and yet she was not there. She didn't come out for an hour
either, for I watched.' Then the man answered, 'Well, we must wait
till to-morrow, when the reinforcements are coming up from Beverley.
We shall be enough then to overpower all resistance.'"

"Said he so? said he so?" cried Lady Margaret, with a thoughtful air.
"We must contrive means to frustrate them. Quick, William!" she
continued after a moment's meditation; "go and keep the people here.
Tell the farmers I will give them a supper; and if you can, contrive
to get more to come up. Then let some one go out and gather news in
the country; see what's the truth of this report that came last night,
of troops marching, and who they are."

The man hastened away to obey her orders, and Miss Walton gazed
anxiously in her aunt's face, inquiring--

"Do you think they have discovered him?"

"They have discovered something, Annie--that is clear," replied Lady
Margaret, "and enough to lead them to more; but they shall not have
him notwithstanding, even if we should fight for it. I know the house
better than they do, and could lead them into many a pretty trap if I
liked it. We can get fifteen or sixteen men together, and then they
are but twenty. Then there's Basto; he's worth three Roundheads at any
time, though he's but an old dog--and all the women besides. Why, you
would fight for this good earl--wouldn't you, Annie, my love?--else
you are not fit for a soldier's bride. On my life, I should like to
see you in a pair of jack-boots!" and the old lady laughed gaily
enough, to cheer her fair niece, whose heart was more easily alarmed
than her own.

"Could he not escape in the night, dear Lady Margaret?" said Arrah
Neil. "I went to walk out by the moonlight last night, and no one
noticed me."

"Because you are a woman, dear child," answered Lady Margaret. "He
must have a horse, too, for, though his wound is well enough now, he
could not walk far. However, it must be thought of if other things
should fail. But we must go and hold counsel with this good lord.
Well, William, what more?"

"Why, only, my lady, I have been asking Farmer Heathcote about the
troops moving, and he says he is sure of it; he saw the men himself.
They seem to be Cavaliers, too, and a good troop of them; but that was
yesterday evening, and they were then ten miles off."

"That's unfortunate," replied his lady; "for, if we could have given
them notice, we might have had help, and it would have been some
satisfaction to enclose these rat-catchers in their own trap. However,
you go now and watch Madam Maud for the next two hours; never take
your eye off her, and be sure she does not come into this part of the
house. You two girls stay here--I will be back presently;" and thus
saying she retired to her own chamber, sought the private passage into
the apartments where the earl was concealed, and, passing with a grave
look through that which she called the "chamber of atonement,"
threaded a long and narrow corridor constructed in the wall of the
building, and mounted a staircase of no greater width, which led to
the sleeping-room of Lord Beverley, where she found him reading one of
the books with which she had taken care to supply him.

"Well, my dear lord," she said, "they have found us out, I fear."

"Indeed, Lady Margaret!" replied the earl calmly; "then I suppose the
sooner I quit my present quarters the better."

"I don't think so, my lord," replied the old lady: "I am not sure that
it will not be wise to have a struggle for it, and that very speedily.
We have got fifteen stout men in the house, and you make sixteen. They
with their captain are twenty-one. I have a good store of arms here,
too, and I could bring the people round, or part of them, through
these passages to fall upon them in the rear, while the others
attacked them in the front."

"No, no, my dear lady," replied the earl, smiling; "that must not be
done on any account. In the first place, we might lose the day, and
then you and yours, and all that is most dear to me on earth, would be
exposed to violence of which I dare not think. The fire of musketry,
too, in such a house as this, might lead to terrible disasters; and,
besides, whatever were the result, unless Hull fall and the king can
hold this part of Yorkshire, you would be obliged to fly from your own
dwelling, and give it up as a prey to the parliamentary soldiery. It
must not be thought of. If you can but keep these men from pushing
their discoveries farther till nightfall, and get me out by the most
private way, I will go and take my chance alone. It is the only
course, depend upon it."

"Oh! we will keep them at bay," replied Lady Margaret. "They have been
quaking for their lives the last three days, and, while my stout
yeomen remain in the house, dare not stir one from another for fear of
being taken unawares. I have ordered my men to remain all day, and
have promised them supper at nightfall; so we are secure till then,
and in the mean while you may rest safe; for, sooner than they should
break in here, I will burn the house about their ears. If you are
resolved to go----"

"Quite," replied the earl.

"Then I will despatch one of the young men," replied Lady Margaret,
"as if he were going home, to have a horse ready for you on the road
to York. He can come back again to help us when it is done. In the
mean while I will send you food and wine, that you may be strong for
your ride; but I must tell you that there is a party of horse out
about Market Weighton, said to be Cavaliers, and it were well that you
should be upon your guard if you fly that way, lest they should prove
daws in peacocks' feathers."

"Nay, that cannot well be," replied the earl. "If I be not much
mistaken, the news I sent by Walton will soon bring the king before
the gates of Hull. It would not surprise me if these were some of his
majesty's own parties, and I will direct my steps towards them with
all speed."

Some further conversation took place regarding the arrangements to be
made; and it was agreed that, as soon as Lady Margaret thought the
earl's escape might be attempted with a probability of success, either
she herself or one of her fair companions should visit him and give
him notice; and after all had been thus settled, Lady Margaret, taking
her leave of him, returned to the room where she had left her niece
and Arrah Neil.

She found them speaking eagerly, poor Arrah's colour somewhat
heightened, and Annie Walton's eyes bent down, with dewy drops resting
on the lids.

"Nay, but tell my aunt," said Miss Walton. "Indeed, dear Arrah, you
should tell her."

"No," replied Arrah Neil, with her own wild eagerness, "I will tell no
one;" and then turning to Lady Margaret, she laid her hand upon her
arm, gazing with an appealing look in her face, and saying, "I have a
scheme, dear lady--a scheme which Annie opposes; but it is a good
scheme too, and she only fears it on account of danger to myself. Now,
I fear no danger in a good cause; and I am sure you will trust
me--will you not, dear Lady Margaret?"

"That I will, my child," replied Lady Margaret Langley, "and ask no
questions either."

"Nay, but hear," cried Annie Walton: "she is always ready to sacrifice
herself for others, and if she does not tell you, I will, my dear
aunt."

"Nay, nay," replied Lady Margaret; "you will not betray counsel,
Annie, I am sure. Let her have her own way. It is right, I will answer
for it; and if it be too generous for men, God will repay it. I will
trust her."

Annie Walton shook her head; but the conversation dropped there, and
the good old lady proceeded to make all her preparations for the
execution of her scheme.

The hours went by; the yeomen still remained at the Hall. Captain
Hargood continued to act upon the plan which he had previously
followed, but showed no slight symptoms by uneasiness at the prolonged
occupation of the house of Lady Margaret's tenantry, appearing from
time to time with an indifferent and sauntering air, which
ill-concealed no small degree of apprehension at all that he remarked,
and retiring speedily to his men again, without venturing to suffer
them to separate for a moment.

The hour of supper came on, and the table in the hall was crowded.
Lady Margaret appeared for a moment, and bade her guests make merry;
but two of her servants were stationed in the vestibule beyond, which
communicated with the stairs and passages that led to the part of the
house in possession of the militia, and whenever a step was heard
above, one of them approached the foot of the staircase, and listened,
to provide against surprise.

Night fell, and as soon as it was completely dark, Annie Walton
accompanied her aunt to the good, dame's own chamber, and, while Lady
Margaret herself remained there, proceeded with a lamp through the
dark passages in the wall, to give her lover the warning agreed upon.

They might be pardoned if they lingered a moment or two together; but
at length, descending with a rapid step, they approached the chamber
where Lady Margaret was waiting. As soon as the door opened the old
lady held up her finger, saying, "Hush! I heard a noise just now; but
I think it is merely those clowns in the hall roaring over their
liquor. Let us listen, however."

They paused for a minute or two, but all was quite still.

"It is quiet now," said the earl. "We should hear it any one were in
your sitting room, and I am to go out into the fields by that way, you
say."

"Yes, it is all quiet now," said Lady Margaret; and, advancing to the
door which led to the withdrawing-room, she opened it quietly but
quickly, followed closely by the earl and Annie Walton. No sooner was
it open, however, than Lady Margaret stopped with a start; and Annie
Walton with a low cry clung to her lover's arm, for the room before
them was full of soldiery.



                            CHAPTER XXXVI.


"Ha! Ha! ha!" cried Hargood, with a dry, mocking laugh, "So the dead
have come to life again! Stand, sir, and give an account of yourself.
Lady, you are a mighty skilful plotter, but we have doubled upon you,
and I will not quit this house till I find this bird's nest."

"Run round, Annie," whispered Lady Margaret to her niece, "through the
secret chamber, by the passage to the left and the door in the wall,
where you will see a bolt. It will lead you to the hall. Bring our men
upon them from behind: we will fight for it still."

Miss Walton took a step to obey; but the movement was not unperceived
by the captain of the militia, who exclaimed in a loud voice, turning
his head slightly towards his men--

"Cover them with your guns! If any one stirs a step, I order them to
fire!" he added, addressing the party at the entrance of the room.

But the stout-hearted old lady was not to be daunted; and, motioning
the earl back, she suddenly shut to the door, turned the key, and
stepped behind the shelter of the wall, drawing Annie with her.

There was a momentary pause, to hear if Captain Hargood would keep his
word; but not a gun was fired, and Lady Margaret reiterated her desire
that Annie would run round and bring her tenantry from the hall, into
the rear of the Roundheads.

"But no," she cried, interrupting herself. "Come with me, Annie. Come
with me, my lord. They must be some time breaking in."

"It is useless, I fear, dear lady," said the earl. "They have better
information than we imagined, and I think have been reinforced. There
seem to me to be more than twenty men, so that most probably your
people are disarmed."

"Hark!" cried Annie Walton; "there is a trumpet without! Oh! they have
many more with them, you may depend upon it!"

"A trumpet!" cried Lady Margaret, listening, and her withered face
assuming a look of joy as she heard the long, shrill blast ringing
upon the air. "So there is; so there is! Cavaliers to the rescue! This
is our dear Arrah's doing. These are king's troops, my lord. No
roundheaded Puritan ever blew a blast like that."

"On my life, I believe it is true!" cried the earl, approaching the
window and looking out. "A party have crossed the stream and are
coming over the meadows."

As he spoke, there was a loud murmuring noise in the neighbouring
chamber, and then the sound of a blow, as if from an axe, upon the
door of the room in which they were. The earl instantly threw open the
casement and vaulted out; and the next moment his voice was heard,
calling loudly, "Hither, hither!" At the same time, however, the blows
upon the door were repeated, and though made of strong solid oak, it
crashed, and one panel gave way.

"Quick, Annie!" cried Lady Margaret; "let us through the other door.
We can set them at defiance yet." But, just as they reached it, a
still heavier blow of the axe dashed the lock from its fastenings, and
the broken door flew back.

At the same moment, however, a man sprang into the open window. It was
the Earl of Beverley, but another and another followed. The casement
on the right, too, was burst open, and two or three leaped in at a
time, casting themselves in the way of the advancing militia-men.

"Down with your arms, traitors!" cried a voice that Miss Walton
thought she remembered.

"Back, Annie! Back, my beloved! Away, Lady Margaret! Keep out of the
fire!" exclaimed the earl; and, drawing her niece with her, the old
lady retired into what she called the "chamber of atonement," pushing
the door nearly to.

The next instant a musket was discharged; then came volley after
volley, then the clash of swords, and cries, and shouts, and words of
command, with every now and then a deadly groan between, while through
the chink of the door that was left open crept the pale blue smoke,
rolling round with a sulphurous smell, and the blast of the trumpet
echoed from without, as if calling up fresh spirits to the fray.

Lady Margaret Langley held her niece's hand firmly in hers, while
Annie Walton bent her fair brow upon her old relation's shoulder, and
struggled with the tears that would fain have burst forth.

The strife in the neighbouring room seemed to last an age, though in
truth its duration was but a few minutes, and then came a pause, not
of absolute silence, for the sounds were still various and many, but
there was a comparative stillness, and a voice was heard speaking,
though the words were indistinct. The moment after, some one near
exclaimed--

"Lay down your arms, then, traitors! We will grant no conditions to
rebels with arms in their bands. Hie to Major Randal, Barecolt. Tell
him to guard well every door, that no one escape. Now, sir, do you
surrender?"

Annie Walton recognised her brother's voice, and murmured, "He at
least is safe."

"We will surrender upon quarter, sir," answered the voice of Captain
Hargood.

"You shall surrender at discretion, or die where you stand," answered
Lord Walton. "Make your choice quickly, or we fire!"

Almost as he spoke, there came a dull clang, as of arms grounded
suddenly on the wooden floor; and, greatly to the relief of poor Annie
Walton's heart, the voice of Lord Beverley was heard exclaiming--

"Treat them gently, treat them gently! They are prisoners, and must
abide his majesty's pleasure."

"Thank God!" said Miss Walton; "thank God!"

"Hush!" said Lady Margaret. "Let us look out, Annie. There is a smell
of burning wood."

As she spoke, she approached the door and opened it. Annie Walton
followed close upon her steps, and gazed into the room beyond. It was
a sad and fearful scene. The bed-chamber of Lady Margaret, in which
the principal struggle had taken place, was comparatively dark,
receiving its only light from the glare of the lamp and sconces in the
drawing-room on the other side. The room was well-nigh filled with
men; others were seen through the open door, and every sort of
attitude into which the human figure can be thrown was displayed
amongst them. At the further end of the table appeared Captain Hargood
and some eight or nine of the militia, their arms cast down, and
gloomy, sullen despondency upon their faces. Near them lay three or
four others, still and motionless; one fallen upon his back, with his
arms extended; one upon his face, his limbs doubled up beneath him. A
little more in advance was another militia-man, sitting on the ground,
supporting himself with one hand upon a chair, while the other was
pressed tightly upon his side; and beside Lady Margaret's bed knelt a
young Cavalier, his long and fair curling hair streaming down his
shoulders, and his face buried in the bed-clothes. Several of the
royalist party were stretched upon the ground near; the faces and
hands of most of the others were bloody and begrimed with gunpowder;
and several were seen in different parts of the room, tying up the
wounded limb or staunching the flowing blood.

In the front stood Lord Walton and the Earl of Beverley; the one
armed, and with the stern frown of vehement excitement upon his lofty
brow; the other with no arms but a sword, and with his fine and
speaking countenance animated certainly, but calm and open. Hanging in
a thick cloud over the whole were wreaths of smoke, and a stream of a
lighter colour was finding its way through the open door, and slowly
mingling with that which the discharge of firearms had produced.

The party of the Cavaliers was by far the more numerous, and at the
moment when Lady Margaret looked in, several of them were advancing to
secure the prisoners. Lord Walton was in the act of giving various
orders, from which it was apparent that the house was surrounded by a
considerable party of the royalist cavalry; but no one seemed to
notice, in the interest of the scene before them, the fact that there
was, as Lady Margaret had observed, a strong and growing smell of
burning wood, or that ever and anon, across the smoke which was
finding its way in from the next room, came a fitful flash, unlike the
quiet and steady light of the candles.

For a short time, even Lady Margaret's attention was withdrawn from
what she had remarked to the striking scene before her; but after a
moment's pause she exclaimed--

"Charles, Charles! there is something on fire in the drawing-room."

Lord Walton started and turned round, gave a smile to Annie and his
aunt, and then, seeming suddenly to catch the meaning of her words, he
directed a look towards the door, and instantly strode forward,
passing Captain Hargood and the prisoners, and entered the
drawing-room.

The moment that he was actually within that chamber, his voice was
heard exclaiming aloud--

"Here, Wilson! Hardy! Help here! the place is on fire!" and a general
rush was made towards the other room, where it was found that some
spark or piece of lighted wadding, having fallen upon the low
hangings, had set the whole in a flame, which, communicating itself to
the old dry panelling and carved cornices, was running round the
chamber on all sides.

Every exertion was now made to extinguish the fire. Some of the
soldiers were sent, under Lady Margaret's direction, to get buckets
from the hall, where they found and released the tenantry and
servants, who had been locked in by the militia and secured under a
guard. All efforts, however, proved vain. The flames spread from room
to room; but little water was to be procured except from the stream,
and Lord Walton and the earl soon turned their attention to save the
valuable furniture, pictures, and plate.

The scene of confusion that ensued is indescribable; and indeed, to
the mind of Annie Walton herself, it all seemed more like a dream than
a reality, till she found herself standing in the gardens of the
house, her hands clasped in those of Arrah Neil, and old Major Randal
saying a few words of somewhat dry but kindly compliment; while Lady
Margaret at her side patted the head of her old dog Basto, murmuring,
"Let it burn, boy! let it burn! It has lasted its time and seen many a
heartache. So let it burn, for the villains have not had their way and
the right has triumphed."

To Annie Walton, however, it was a sad sight. Twice within a few
months had she beheld the place where she had made her home a prey to
the flames; and though she was not one to give way to idle
superstitions, it seemed as if it were a warning that she was no more
to have a fixed abode, and she said to herself with a sigh--

"Well, I will follow Charles wherever fortune shall lead him. Peace
and repose, security and comfort, are gone from the land, and I must
share the troubles of the rest."

A little in advance of the spot where she stood, guarded by two of the
soldiers of the troop, were a large pile of plate and a number of
other valuable articles; and as Miss Walton was thus thinking, her
brother approached Lady Margaret at a rapid pace from the house,
saying--

"My dear aunt, I fear it is impossible to save any part of the
building. Where shall we send these things for safety?"

"Let the house burn, my boy! let the house burn!" said Lady Margaret.
"It is not worth the hair of an honest man's head to save it. Take the
pictures, and all the rest of the things but the plate, down to the
steward's, and especially the papers. As to the silver, we will carry
it away to the king at York. He may need it more than I shall."

"He is not at York, my dear aunt," replied Lord Walton. "Ere noon
to-morrow I trust he will be in Hull, Luckily, we were on our march,
and not very far distant from the Hall, when our dear Arrah here found
us out and told us of the strait in which you were placed." As he
spoke he took Arrah Neil's fair hand, and pressed his lips upon it
warmly; and Lady Margaret, suddenly laying her hand upon his arm,
exclaimed--

"Ah, Charles! when I am dead you must be her protector."

"I will," replied Lord Walton; and then repeated still more earnestly,
"I will."

Arrah Neil gazed steadfastly in his face, and her beautiful eyes
filled with tears.



                           CHAPTER XXXVII.


It is quite abominable to have left Diggory Falgate for such a length
of time in a cold damp vault, without anybody to keep him company but
rats and mice and such small deer; but yet, dearly-beloved reader, it
could not be helped without evident injustice to more important
personages. Not that Diggory Falgate was an unimportant person, nor
that his stay in the vault was unimportant to this history; far from
it, as you shall speedily hear. The reader has already perceived that
he was a man of action, fond of an enterprise, liking a certain sort
of excitement; not always, indeed, quite confident of himself, and
consequently exaggerating a little his sayings and doings, in order to
keep himself up to the mark.

He drew back the shade of the lantern, then, as we have before said,
and looked about. His next step was not quite determined, and it was
wise to look about him. It always is wise, indeed, to look about one
before one acts; but, nevertheless, the glance that Diggory gave
around did not serve to strengthen him in any resolution or guide him
in any course of action. On the contrary, it confused his mind and
shook his firmness. The first feeling when Mr. Dry and the sexton made
their escape from his pursuit, taking him to be a ghostly enemy, was
one of triumph; but when he came to examine in what that triumph
consisted, he felt induced to exclaim, like Napoleon, "Is this a
victory?"

He was master of the field, it was true; the foe had fled; but there
he was, left alone, with nothing but coffins, and shrouds, and other
remnants of humanity, scattered around him. The door, too, was bolted;
he had heard them fasten it; the other door they had talked of might
be locked, and he might have to remain where he was till some person
in the neighbourhood chose to die and be buried, or till hunger,
fright, cold, and solitude, added his bones to the bones that were
mouldering around. He calculated the chances; he entered into the
details with painful minuteness; he knew that the parish was large,
but very thinly peopled. There might be a funeral once a quarter, but
not more, except when some epidemic raged in Hull, and people took a
fancy for country lodging before or after death. Then he thought, with
a glimpse of hope, that on Sunday there would be a congregation in the
church, and he could make them hear; but Sunday was a long way off,
for this was only Wednesday, and Diggory Falgate set himself to
compute how long he could hold out. Thursday, Friday, Saturday--three
days and a half! He had often fasted two, for very good reasons, but
then it was not in a vault; it was not amongst dead corpses: it was
under the free sky, with the fresh breath of heaven blowing on his
cheek, and beautiful nature refreshing him with bright sights. The
case was very different at present, and his knees began to shake at
the very thought.

Then, however, he did what he should have done at first, but that
Imagination, when she gets the bit between her teeth, is such a
runaway jade that she carries one through all the ponds and quagmires
of possibility in five minutes. He set out in search of the other
door, to see whether there was any need of alarming himself at all. He
took two steps forward, and then a third; the fourth struck against
something that made a sort of creaking sound--something even softer
than the skull of a man of fashion; and holding down the lantern he
perceived the basket of Ezekiel Dry. His heart was instantly revived,
and stooping over it he drew forth the bottle of genuine Nantz which
the worthy Puritan had boasted of, and with a good conscience he put
it to his mouth. The contents had certainly been diminished by the
original proprietor and his friend; but still there was nearly half a
bottle left, and that would, he thought, with prudence and economy,
serve to keep him up till he could get help. There was some bread and
cheese, too, in the basket, and the mouthful of spirits having acted
speedily with cheering effect, he looked upon himself as provided
against the worst contingency; and in a moment after his eye lighted
on a crowbar, a mallet, and a chisel, with which he flattered himself
he could unbar any door that ever yet was closed.

All Diggory Falgate's speculations, however, were vain, useless,
unnecessary, as nine out of ten of all our speculations are. When he
walked on, threading the lanes of coffins, till he reached a part of
the vault where it was crossed by another under the chancel, there on
his right hand stood the door that led into the churchyard, wide open,
and moonlight shining in quite pleasantly. All his alarm took flight
in a moment, the lion returned to his heart, and after an instant's
pause he said to himself, "Hang me if I do not see before I go what
these fellows were hunting after!" and with this doughty resolution he
walked back, and began to examine the scene of Mr. Dry's operations.

There stood the coffin on the ground, the lid raised by tearing the
screws out of the woodwork, and only holding by one at the end where
the feet were placed. It was a very plain coffin; no velvet, no
gilding spoke it to be that which contained the dust of high estate or
noble birth; but simple black cloth was the covering, and a small
lacquered plate upon the lid bore inscribed some letters, which the
painter held the lantern to decipher. It was not without difficulty
that he did so, and then could make nothing of them, for they were but


                               A: E: T:
                           A.D. MDCXXXIII.
                             A: [AE]: 25.


The painter paused and gazed in silence. "There must be something more
under this," he said at length, "or that old villain would not have
come here to break open the coffin. I wish Captain Barecolt had told
me more, for I cannot help thinking that he and that pretty young lady
have some interest in this affair. I have a great mind to see what is
in the inside: there is but one screw left in; it would be easily
taken out."

He stooped and took up the chisel, but then paused again in doubt and
hesitation. "Well," he said, "I can put it in again if I find
anything. There is no harm in looking;" and quietly applying the
chisel to the purposes of a turnscrew, without venturing to use any
such violence as those who preceded him had displayed, he drew out
the last remaining screw, and looked with an anxious face at the
coffin-lid, with some feelings of awe and reluctance. Then giving a
glance round the vault, he removed the covering and laid it down
against the neighbouring pile.

Lifting the lantern, Falgate looked into the last receptacle of what
had once been young, and fresh, and beautiful.

There was the dusty shroud, somewhat mouldy, but not decayed; and as
the face of the dead was covered with a cloth, none of the ghastly
appearances of corruption were visible; but the falling of the drapery
of death, the sharp lines and angles that the folds presented, told
plainly and solemnly that the flesh had long returned to dust, and
that nothing but the bones remained uncrumbled. One thing, however,
instantly attracted the poor painter's attention: a piece of
parchment, covered with writing, lay upon the breast, and taking it up
he read it with care. The words seemed to direct him to a further
search, and putting his hand to the left side of the shroud, though
with some reluctance, he drew forth a small packet folded up and
sealed. Blowing away the dust from it, after a few moments'
consideration he wrapped it in the parchment, and put it into his
pocket, saying, "If I do not take it, others will, who may make a bad
use of it. I will convey it to those who have a right to have it, if
God helps me out of this scrape."

Then replacing the lid of the coffin nearly as he had found it, he ate
some of the bread and cheese, applied his lips again to the bottle of
Nantz, and walking to the door, peeped out into the churchyard. All
was still and quiet, the moon shining upon the gravestones, and the
wind whispering through the old yews; and stripping of the surplice
which he had found in the vestry, Diggory Falgate stole forth into the
open air, got over the low wall, and made speed toward some trees that
he saw at a distance.



                           CHAPTER XXXVIII.


The small town of Beverley was as full as it could hold. It does not,
indeed, seem at any time well calculated to hold a great many; but it
is wonderful how elastic towns and even houses are when the
inhabitants have a good mind to make room for others. It was, or
seemed to be, as full as it could hold, however, as I have said, when
about noon a body of some three hundred horse, followed at the
distance of a quarter of a mile by a mixed troop of gentlemen and
ladies, with a small party escorting some thirty-five or forty
prisoners and two or three wagons, entered the place and marched up
the principal street. A number of gay Cavaliers were lounging about at
the doors of inns and private houses; some companies of train-bands
were seen in the more open spaces, and guards appeared at the doors of
the town-house, from the windows of which several heads were leaning
forth, gazing listlessly upon the scene below. All was gay and
pleasant confusion; for the party of the parliament took care to keep
out of sight, and the royalists, exulting in the arrival of the king,
were doing their best to show a hearty welcome to his court. Though
somewhat less than two thousand cavalry, and a small infantry force,
consisting entirely of train-bands, with half-a-dozen light pieces of
artillery, certainly did not show much like an army, yet hope and
excitement magnified the numbers; and the good townsmen of Beverley,
as they reckoned up, with the exaggerating powers of imagination, more
noblemen than they had ever seen in the parish before, and calculated
the troop which each could bring into the field if he were willing,
never doubted that, if the king had been so pleased, he might have
brought a much larger host to the siege of Hull, and believed that
many more would actually follow.

In this supposition, indeed, they were encouraged by a number of
houses being already marked out as quarters for different persons who
had not yet appeared. Amongst the rest, a handsome brick building, in
a garden, on the side of Hull, had been assigned to the expected party
of Lord Walton; and as soon as the head of the troop I have mentioned
appeared, a man who had been waiting by the side of a saddled horse,
at the door of the town-house, sprang into the saddle, and riding up
to the commanding officer--our old friend Major Randal--informed him
of the direction he was to take.

This old officer halted his men to let the party behind come up, and
two or three gentlemen on foot advanced and spoke with him for a
moment or two, while such exclamations as--"Indeed burned to the
ground do you say?" "What! Langley Hall burned down? I saw a light
over that way as I was marching. About nine, was it not?"--were heard
as they conversed.

"Pooh!" cried Randal, as one of the gentlemen, for want of other
amusement, asked him to describe all that had taken place; "I am not
good at telling stories, my lord. Ask Barecolt there; he has always
one ready, and if not, he will make one. But here come Lord Walton and
the Earl of Beverley, with the ladies from the Hall, and we must go
on. March!"

The troop followed, and on the whole party went to the quarters
which had been provided for them; the soldiery billeted in certain
ale-houses and cottages in the vicinity, and the higher personages in
the house which has been mentioned.

The bustle of arrival was soon over; all orders were given, all
arrangements made; and the ladies and gentlemen in whom we are most
interested were assembled in the hall of the house--a large and
handsome room, lined with dark carved oak, and possessing four
windows, which looked out into a garden, well arranged according to
the taste of that day, and surrounded by high walls.

In the march from Langley Hall, as may be supposed, much had been told
to Lord Walton, but it had been confined to the events that had taken
place since his departure from York, and there was another subject
upon which he was anxious for information. As he stood talking with
Lady Margaret, while the Earl of Beverley and Miss Walton gazed forth
from one of the windows, the young nobleman's eye fixed upon Arrah
Neil, who, seated in a choir at some distance, her look full of deep
but tranquil thought, was caressing the large dog, which, from her
very first arrival at Langley Hall, had shown so strange a partiality
for her.

"Tell me, my dear aunt," said Lord Walton, interrupting what the good
lady was saying in respect to a proposed visit to the king; "tell me
what is all this about that sweet girl. Annie says she has a strange
tale to relate, and Captain Barecolt has already roused my curiosity.
Has anything more been heard since I went to York?"

"Nothing, Charles; nothing," replied Lady Margaret. "A strange tale,
did Annie say? I have heard nothing of it, and yet I cannot cast from
my mind the belief, that if that poor dog could speak he would tell us
as strange a tale as one could wish to hear. Oh! those dumb witnesses
of all the many acts done, as we think, in secresy and solitude--if
they had but a voice, what dark and fearful things would be trumpeted
to the ear! 'Tis as well that they have not. But let us go and ask
her;" and, walking up to Arrah, who looked up at her approach, she
laid her hand kindly on her shoulder, saying, "Annie has told Charles,
dear child, that you have something strange to relate to him. You had
better speak soon, my Arrah, for no one can count upon these soldiers
for a minute. They go hither and thither like the winds and clouds."

The blood mounted slightly into the cheek of Arrah Neil, and she said,
after a slight hesitation, "I must tell him alone, dear Lady Margaret.
I would fain tell you too, because I know you would advise and help me
well; but they made me promise that I would only tell him and Annie."

"Nay, my child, I seek not to know," replied Lady Margaret; "I have
had too many sad secrets in my life, and desire no more. And yet,
Arrah, and yet," she added, "there might be a tale for you to tell;
but it is a dream--wild, idle dream: no more of it! Go with him into
the gardens, my child, and tell him what you have to say."

Arrah Neil rose timidly, and raised her eyes to Lord Walton's face as
he stood beside his aunt; but, grave and somewhat stern, as he
sometimes seemed to others, to her he was always gentleness itself,
and taking her hand he drew her harm through his and led her towards
the gardens.

Lady Margaret seated herself where Arrah had been sitting, and,
bending down her head over the dog, continued talking to him in a low
murmuring voice for some minutes. Annie Walton and the Earl of
Beverley remained conversing in the window, and their eyes soon rested
upon Lord Walton and Arrah Neil, as they walked up and down one of the
broad gravel-walks. The face of the young nobleman was grave and
attentive; but from time to time he raised his look to his fair
companion's countenance, and seemed to ask some questions, Arrah
Neil's gaze was most frequently bent upon the ground, but nevertheless
at different periods of their conference she glanced for a single
instant eagerly at the face of Charles Walton, as if seeking to
discover what impression her story made upon him, and then with
downcast eyes again went on with her tale.

Annie Walton felt for her; for there was something is her heart that
made her sure the telling of that tale to the ear that heard it would
be matter of no light emotion to poor Arrah Neil. She would have given
worlds to see her brother smile, to know that he spoke gentle words
and kind encouragement; but he turned up and down the walk, again
and again, with the same thoughtful air, the same high and lofty
bearing--not proud, not harsh, but grave and calm. And yet it was
better as it was, for Arrah Neil knew him well and loved him dearly as
he was; and any deviation from his natural character, any softer, any
more tender movement, might have agitated her and rendered her
incapable of going on with tranquil clearness. At length, however,
when it seemed all at an end--the story told as far as she could tell
it--the whole truth known as far as she knew it herself--Lord Walton
suddenly paused, and casting his arms suddenly round her who had been
the object of his house's bounty, pressed a warm kiss upon her glowing
cheek. Then taking her hand in his, he drew it within his arm again
and led her back towards the house, her face crimson and her limbs
trembling with deep emotion.

The Earl of Beverley turned to Annie Walton with a smile.

"God's blessing on them," he said, "and on all hearts that love!"

Miss Walton started. "You do not understand it, Francis," she replied.

"Yes, dear one, I do," said her lover; "I have long seen it. I know
Charles Walton well, and the share that generous enthusiasm and calm
reasoning prudence have in his nature. He has loved rashly, and
checked his love. Some great obstacle is gone, and love has now the
sceptre. He is not a man to debase that which he loves, or I should
have feared for poor Arrah Neil; but he is not one either to sacrifice
what he thinks right, even to his heart's dearest affections; and
therefore, dear Annie, I have grieved for him. But, my beloved," he
added, speaking even lower than before, "between us there is no such
barrier as has always existed between them. A period of repose must
soon come, and then, surely----"

Annie Walton cast down her eyes and the colour mounted in her cheek;
but ere the earl's sentence was concluded Lord Walton and his fair
companion re-entered the hall, and she turned towards them without
reply. Her lover gently detained her, however, gazing into her face
half-reproachfully; and she murmured in a low tone--

"I am always ready to fulfil my promises."

"Thanks, dear one! thanks!" answered the earl; and turning to Lady
Margaret, he released her hand, seeing that her brother beckoned her
towards him.

"You know all she tells me, Annie," said Charles Walton, as his sister
joined him and Arrah at the other side of the room; "but this must be
kept secret for the present. We must have the further proofs ere we
say aught to any one."

"Even to my aunt?" asked his sister.

"Ay, to her more than all," answered Lord Walton; "but I will soon
find means to clear up the whole. This man, O'Donnell, must be seen if
possible. But here comes a message from his majesty. I trust we shall
soon be in Hull, and then we shall have ample means of obtaining all
the information that may be required."

The royal officer, as Lord Walton expected, brought him and the Earl
of Beverley a summons to the presence of the king, to whom their
arrival in the town had been immediately notified; and, hastening to
the house, they found the unhappy monarch surrounded by the nobility,
who were crowding to his standard. The scene was very different now
from that presented by the court at Nottingham. Hope and expectation
were in all faces, and even the melancholy countenance of Charles bore
the look of satisfaction it so seldom assumed.

Commissioned by Lady Margaret Langley, the first act of Lord Walton
was to present to his sovereign all the plate and jewels which had
been brought from Langley Hall--an act which was imitated during the
civil war by many of the noble families of the day; for loyalty was
then a sentiment amongst a great number of the British nation, and
attachment to the throne was not a matter of trade and calculation.

"My aunt commissions me to say, sire," the young nobleman continued,
"that did her strength or her sex permit, no one would fight more
zealously than herself in defence of your throne; but as she can bring
you nought else, she brings you this small offering of good-will, to
the value, she esteems it, of about ten thousand pounds, which will at
least aid in the maintenance of your troops."

"I accept it as a loan, my lord," replied Charles, "which would be
soon repaid if many more of my subjects would show such devoted
loyalty. However, as a loan or as a gift it commands my sincere
gratitude; and if God should bless my cause, as I trust he will, this
is one of the acts that will not be forgotten."

The monarch then turned to other subjects, and with graceful courtesy
inquired into the destruction of Langley Hall, and expressed his deep
regret that, for attachment to his cause, a lady so far advanced in
life as Lady Margaret should have been exposed to such inconvenience,
alarm, and danger.

The audience of the two noblemen was long; and to Lord Beverley in
particular the king addressed numerous questions, making him repeat
over and over again the substance of his conversations with Sir John
Hotham, and pondering over his replies, as if seeking to confirm in
his own breast the hopes he feared to entertain. At length, however,
the monarch put the question plainly to the earl--

"What is your own sincere opinion, my lord? Will Sir John keep his
word?"

"If I must speak plainly, sire," replied the earl, "I can but reply
that I think he will if he can: nay, I am sure of it. But I have some
doubts as to his power of doing so;" and he proceeded to explain that
an evident jealousy was entertained of the governor of Hull by the
parliament; that his own son was in fact merely a spy upon him in the
place where he appeared to command; and that before his (Lord
Beverley's) departure he had heard of the arrival of several
parliamentary officers, and that others were expected, whose presence
in the town might act as a check upon Sir John Hotham, and prevent him
from executing that which he intended.

Such a view of the case gave the king subject for further meditation;
and at length he repeated twice--

"It were much to be wished that through a confidential person we could
find some means of holding communication with the governor."

The Earl of Beverley was silent for a moment or two, for he had been
dreaming happy dreams, and felt painfully reluctant to put their
accomplishment to hazard by placing himself in peril of what seemed
almost more terrible than death--a long and indefinite imprisonment.
When the king repeated nearly the same words, however, and he felt
that their application was to himself, he bowed with a grave and
resolute air, saying--

"If your majesty thinks that my return to Hull can be for your
service, I am ready to undertake it."

"It will be greatly for my service, my noble friend," replied Charles,
"though it grieves me to place you in a situation of such danger,
after all you have suffered in this cause."

"Well, sire," replied the earl with a sigh, "it will be better for me
to set out immediately; for, in order to maintain the character I
formerly assumed, I must come upon Hull upon the other side, and it is
already late. I fear, moreover, my communications with your majesty
must be through York, so that a good deal of inevitable delay will
take place."

The further arrangements between the king and his loyal subject were
soon made; and after spending one more brief hour with her he loved,
Lord Beverley was again in the saddle, to execute the perilous
commission he had undertaken.

In a brief conversation between himself and Lord Walton, the latter
besought him to seek out the person named O'Donnell, and to gain from
him every information he might possess regarding the early history of
Arrah Neil. A note was added in Lord Walton's own hand, begging the
Irish merchant to confide fully in the bearer; and undertaking the
commission willingly, the earl rode away towards the banks of the
Humber.



                            CHAPTER XXXIX.


When the Earl of Beverley had ridden on about five miles,
musing over no very pleasant anticipations, he thought he heard the
sound of a horse's feet coming at full speed, and turned round to
look. He himself was riding fast, but he now beheld a single horseman
spurring on still faster; and supposing that the personage who
appeared might be some messenger sent after him, with further
directions from the king, he drew in his rein and suffered him to ride
up.

"Ha, Captain Barecolt!" he exclaimed, as soon as the other came near.
"Is anything the matter? have you any message from his majesty!"

"None, my lord," replied Barecolt; "but having heard of your
expedition, with a hint that as I had accompanied you before I might
do so again, I lost no time in following; but I was obliged to stop a
while to change my dress and put on Captain Jersval."

"This is very rash," said the earl, after a moment's thought; "very
rash indeed, my good friend. You have been seen by so many in your own
character, that you have no chance of remaining undiscovered."

"Nor your lordship either," answered Barecolt.

"You do not understand the matter you speak of, sir," replied the
earl. "Even if I am discovered, it may effect my personal safety, but
not the king's service; whereas, it you are recognised as one of his
majesty's officers in my company, it may entirely frustrate the
objects of my journey. You forget, sir, that the remains of Captain
Batten's troops are in Hull, and----"

"The remains of Captain Batten's troops are at Boston, my lord,"
answered Barecolt. "So much have I learned in Beverley. Sir John
Hotham would not receive them, saying that he had no need of cavalry,
and that, threatened as he was with siege, they would but eat up his
provisions. I know my phiz is a remarkable phiz; but you forget that
the beauty thereof has been spoiled by this accursed cut over the
nose; and, besides, the very object of my going is to make a formal
complaint to Sir John Hotham of the conduct of Captain Batten in
attacking me and my friends--amongst whom I shall take care not to
specify your lordship--and against one Cornet Stumpborough for
stopping me. Do not fear, my lord, but that I will extricate myself;
and if you have any qualms about taking me with you, why, I can easily
go in at another gate, and be ready to help you at any moment."

"Well, we will see," answered Lord Beverley; "we will see. I will
think over it by the way;" and, entering into conversation with his
companion, he rode on. The various subjects discussed between the
noble earl and our renowned friend might not, perhaps, be very
interesting to the reader; for, although the dauntless captain at
various times approached the subject of those wonderful and surpassing
exploits which he had performed during preceding periods of his
history, and the recital of which could not fail to excite the
admiration and attention of any one possessing common powers of
imagination, yet his cruel companion harshly checked him in all such
digressions, and forced him to confine his narrative to the precise
sorts and kinds of information which he himself desired to obtain.
Thus we shall pass over all that took place till the two gentlemen
approached within about a mile and a half of the town of Hull, when
they perceived a small body of cavalry, apparently reconnoitring the
place.

"Let us spur on as fast as possible, my lord," said Captain Barecolt,
as soon as he perceived this little force.

But the earl, who had by this time determined that it might be as well
that the worthy captain should enter the town with him, though
apparently only as a chance companion of the way, and who moreover
judged at once that the body which they saw was merely a party of the
king's troops examining the fortifications of Hull, replied in a quiet
tone; "There is no need for any such speed, my good sir. Those are
friends."

"The more reason, my lord, why we should seem to think them enemies,"
replied Captain Barecolt, who never neglected any opportunity of a
_ruse_.

"You are right, you are right, captain," replied the earl, "and are
indeed a great master of stratagem."

Thus saying, he spurred his horse into a gallop, and at that pace
pursued his way towards the gates. The natural propensity which
every creature has to follow another who runs away from it caused
half-a-dozen of the Cavaliers to gallop after the two apparent
fugitives; but the earl and his companion had a start of some
distance, and when they arrived at the gates were about two hundred
yards before their pursuers. The whole of this proceeding was seen
from the walls, upon which a considerable number of the citizens were
assembled; and a few musket-shots were fired upon the party of
Cavaliers, as soon as the two gentlemen were under cover. The fire did
not injure any one, indeed; but it had the effect of inducing the
chasing party to halt and retreat very speedily, and the gates being
opened, the Earl of Beverley rode in, followed by Barecolt, with their
horses panting from the quick pace at which they had come.

All these circumstances were sufficient indications of hostility
towards the royalist party to satisfy the officers of the train-bands
at the gates; and with very slight inspection of their passes the earl
and his companion were suffered to ride on into the town; but,
separating from his noble companion at the corner of the first street,
Captain Barecolt rode away towards the "Swan," with instructions from
the earl to seek out Mr. O'Donnell, and to make arrangements with him
for a meeting on the following day.

In the mean while, the earl rode on towards the house of the governor,
and dismounting in the court, demanded with a foreign accent, as
before, to speak with Sir John Hotham. The personage to whom he
addressed himself was one of the serving-men of that day, known by the
general term of "blue-bottles;" but unfortunately, as it turned out,
he was attached to the person of Colonel Hotham, and carried the
earl's message to him immediately, without any communication with the
governor.

After Lord Beverley had been kept waiting about five minutes in a
hall, while several persons passed to and fro, and examined him more
curiously than was at all pleasant to him, the serving-man reappeared,
saying, "Be so good as to follow me, sir;" and led the young nobleman
through several long passages, to a small gloomy room on the
ground-floor, where he found Colonel Hotham standing by a table, his
brow heavy and his eyes bent upon the door. He inclined his head
slightly as the earl entered, and said, without asking him to be
seated, "Be so good, sir, as to explain your business to me. Sir John
Hotham, my father, is too ill to receive you, and I am entrusted with
his functions during his indisposition."

"Your pardon, sir," replied the earl calmly, though the meeting was by
no means satisfactory to him, and he remarked that the serving-man
remained at the door, while the tramp of feet was heard in the passage
beyond. "My business is with Sir John Hotham alone, and if he be ill I
must wait till he has recovered, for I can communicate with no one but
himself."

"You refuse then?" rejoined Colonel Hotham, with a heavy frown and a
sharp tone: "you refuse? If so, I shall know what to suppose.

"Really, sir, I know not what you may think fit to suppose," answered
Lord Beverley; "but very straightforwardly and simply I do refuse to
communicate business concerning Sir John Hotham to any one but
himself."

"Then, sir, it is clear you came hither as a spy," said Colonel
Hotham, "and you shall be dealt with as such."

The Earl of Beverley smiled, and producing the pass he had received
from the governor of Hull, put it in the hands of the parliamentary
officer, saying, "That mistake is easily corrected. Here is my pass in
due form, under your father's hand and seal."

Colonel Hotham gazed at it with an angry look; and at the same moment
the door by which the young nobleman had been introduced opened, and a
party of four or five of the train-bands entered, with a prisoner
between the two foremost. Lord Beverley turned round at the noise of
their feet, and, somewhat to his consternation, beheld in the captive
no other than good Diggory Falgate. Had it been Barecolt, he would
have counted upon his wit and discretion; but the poor painter had
displayed no traits, during the earl's short journey with him, which
could at all reassure him, so he expected every moment to hear him
claim his acquaintance. But Falgate showed better judgment than was
expected; and Colonel Hotham, after staring at the pass for a moment
or two, with a good deal of heat but some indecision in his
countenance, suddenly seemed to take his resolution, and tore the
paper in pieces, saying--

"This is all folly and nonsense! A pass under a feigned name is
invalid."

"Sir, you have committed an act of gross injustice!" exclaimed the
earl indignantly; "and some day, sooner than you think, you may have
to answer for it."

"Indeed!" cried the parliamentarian, with a sneer. "Well, sir, I shall
be ready to answer for my acts when needful. See that you be prepared
to answer for yours by to-morrow morning. Let loose that fellow!" he
continued, turning to the guard; "I can find nothing against him--he
is a citizen, it seems; and convey this worthy person to the strong
room. Put a sentry over him, and send Captain Marden to me. Take him
away, take him away!"

"And what are we to do with this 'un?" asked one of the soldiers.

"Let him loose, fool!" replied Colonel Hotham, waving his hand, and
the earl was removed in custody of the party, giving a significant
glance to Falgate as he passed. The painter returned it, but said
nothing; and Lord Beverley was led along to a small close room, with
one high grated window, where the heavy iron-plated door was closed
upon him, locked and barred.

The earl seated himself on the only stool, rested his elbow on the
table and his head upon his hand, while the struggle between strong
resolution and painful anticipations went on in his mind for nearly
half-an-hour. His was a heart not easily daunted--well fitted by high
principles and a calm and equal temper to endure the rougher and more
painful things of life, and to encounter the perils and disasters of a
troublous epoch better than lighter and gayer characters and less
thoughtful minds. Nevertheless, he could not but feel the bitter
disappointment which but too frequently follows on the indulgence of
bright and high hopes in this our earthly career. He almost blamed
himself for the joyful dreams which he had suffered to rest in his
imagination, while standing with sweet Annie Walton at the window of
the house in Beverley; and his thoughts ran back from those dear
moments into earlier days, recalling every bright spot in the past,
thinking of enjoyments gone and pleasures fled away, with a deep and
sad consciousness of the transitory nature of every earthly good.
Memory is the true "Old Mortality" of the heart, wandering sadly
through the scenes of the past, and refreshing the tombstones of joys
gone for ever.

As he thus sat, the light began to fade away and night to fall over
the earth; but ere it was quite dark he heard footsteps without, and a
voice speaking low to the guard at his door. The conversation ceased,
but there was no noise of receding steps, and the earl thought, "They
are watching how I bear it. They shall know nothing from that. I will
sing;" and, folding his arms upon his chest, he raised his eyes to the
faint spot of light that still appeared through the high window, and
sang, to a plaintive air of the time, some lines composed towards the
end of the preceding reign, perhaps by some victim to the coarse
tyranny of James I.


          Life's brighter part has passed away;
            The dark remains behind:
          The autumn brown rests on the earth;
            Loud howls the wintry wind.

          But steadfast hope and faith sincere
            Shall still afford their light:
          While these remain, this mortal gloom
            Cannot be wholly night.

          The summer flowers that once were here
            Have faded from the eye;
          The merle has ceased to cheer the shade,
            The lark to wake the sky.

          Green leaves have fallen from the trees,
            Dark clouds are overhead;
          And withered things, beneath my feet,
            Rustle where'er I tread.

          But yet I know there is a land
            Where all that's lost on earth
          Revives to blossom and to bloom
             With undecaying birth.

          Thus steadfast hope and faith sincere
            Shall still afford me light,
          Till other suns shall dissipate
            The gloom or mortal night.



                             CHAPTER XL.


While such misadventures had been the lot of the Earl of Beverley,
Captain Barecolt had ridden on unopposed and peaceably to the "Swan"
Inn. He was in some apprehension, indeed, lest he should encounter
worthy Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, at the house of good Mrs. White; but
his mind was prepared to meet any emergency, and therefore he would
not be turned from his course by the fear of "any Dry that ever yet
was born." Alighting then at the door, he threw the rein of his horse
over a hook provided for that especial purpose, and then, mounting the
steps, looked in through the panes of glass in the door, which, to say
the truth, afforded him no very clear insight into the passage beyond,
as each separate square, being manufactured in a somewhat rude
fashion, was furnished with a thick green knot or bump in the centre,
which greatly impeded the view. All seemed clear, however, and
marvellously silent; and, having carried his inspection as far as he
judged necessary, the renowned captain opened the door and walked in.
As soon as he did so, he perceived the good landlady seated in her
little glass-case, alone, and busily engaged in hemming a wimple for
her own proper person. She raised her eyes, as usual, at the sound of
the opening door, and her face lighted up at the sight of the long
limbs that presented themselves, in a manner which showed the
illustrious commander that no danger was to be apprehended.
Approaching, then, with a gallant air, Captain Barecolt
unceremoniously entered the parlour, and saluted the fair hostess, who
expressed herself right glad to see him, asking him a thousand
questions about "the dear young lady and her adventures on the road."

"All in good time, Mrs. White--all in good time," answered Captain
Barecolt. "To-night, God willing, I will give you a true and
particular account of all that has happened since last we met; but now
I have other things to think of. In the first place, my mouth is as
dry as a sick dog's nose, and I would fain have a chopin of something
to moisten it."

"That you shall, captain, in a minute," replied the landlady. "You
look dusty and tired, as if you had ridden hard."

"And so I am, sweet hostess," answered Barecolt; "and the dust is not
more on my garments than between my teeth. My tongue is as parched as
a bowl of split peas. Do you not hear it rattle? But do not go
yourself for the wine, Mrs. White. Transfer that function to one of
your nymphs, and listen to me."

"La, captain! I have no nymphs," answered the landlady, half offended;
but our hero waved his hand, saying--

"Well, your maidens then, Mrs. White. Call Sally, and then answer me
two or three questions; but first send some one to stable my horse,
which is at the door, and, being a modest beast, may as well be
removed from the lewd gaze of the townsfolk."

All was performed according to his command; and when Mrs. White
returned, Captain Barecolt proceeded, after a deep draught, to put his
questions.

"First and foremost, Mrs. White," he said, "what of old Dry?"

"Lord, sir! he is up-stairs, sick in bed!" replied Mrs. White.

"There let him lie, and be the bed on him, white-livered renegade!"
said Captain Barecolt. "Then he did not discover that you had aided
and abetted in the escape of our fair demoiselle?"

"Oh, not a whit!" replied the landlady. "He was in a mighty rage, to
be sure, at first, and he had search made, and a great fuss; but it
all ended in nothing, and I managed slily, pretending to help with all
my might; so that he grew quite fond and familiar--the nasty old worm!
Howsomever, he went out of the gates one day, leaving all his things
here, and what happened I don't know; but he came back the next
morning, as dull and as dirty-looking as a mixen, took to his bed
directly, and has had a doctor at him ever since. I think something
must have frightened him sadly, for he has been constantly whining and
praying, and the doctor said he had had a turn; but he is much better
to-day."

"So far so well, Mrs. White," said Barecolt; "but we must now look to
other matters. Do you know aught about Mr. O'Donnell? for, if
possible, I must see him tonight."

"I should think you would find him, sir," answered the hostess, "for
he keeps himself a great deal at home just now. These are sad times in
Hull, sir. There is great suspicion about; and every one whom they
fancy to be what they call a malignant is pointed at and watched night
and day; and even a poor widow woman like me they cannot help looking
after, as if I were a regiment of soldiers; so that customers are
afraid to come."

"Well, what of O'Donnell? what of O'Donnell?" demanded Captain
Barecolt. "What has this to do with him, my good hostess?"

"Why, bless you, captain don't you know that people say he is a
Papist?" exclaimed Mrs. White; "and so they are likely to be more
sharp upon him than any one else: that is to say, not the governor,
who is very fond of him, people say, because he supplies him with
Dantzic and other strong waters better than he can get at home; but
since Sir John has been ill of the gout, the colonel, his son, rules
everything here in Hull; and a hard rule is his for every one but
Roundheads. They may do as they like; some men may lie in bed and
sleep, whilst others must get up early in the morning."

All this was news to Captain Barecolt, and news of a very unpleasant
character, which made him ponder deeply for several minutes. Being of
an active and inquiring turn of mind, he had not left his leisure time
unemployed since he quitted Hull; and partly by no very definite
hints, sewn together by surmises, and partly by open avowals and
accidental conversations, he had been led to the conclusion that
some very intimate communication had been opened between Sir John
Hotham and the Earl of Beverley, which the illness of the former and
the new state of things in the town might sadly derange. He longed
eagerly to gain some intelligence of the proceedings of his noble
fellow-traveller; and though he had a sufficient portion of the free
companion in his character to act upon his own judgment, with very
little deference for the commands he received, when it suited his own
purpose, yet he had also sufficient of the old soldier in him to obey
orders punctually when he could do no better. He therefore resolved to
set out for O'Donnell's house at once, though he could not bring his
mind to do so without draining another can; and while the worthy
landlady went to draw it with her own fair hands, he sat pondering
over what was to be done next, with no inconsiderable misgivings in
regard to the termination of their expedition. At one time, indeed, he
thought of cutting the whole matter very short, walking to the
governor's house, demanding to see Colonel Hotham, running him through
the body with his Toledo, and, with the assistance of the more loyal
inhabitants, taking possession of the town in the king's name. It
seemed to the eyes of imagination an exploit worthy of a Barecolt; but
reflection suggested to him various little objections, which made him
abandon his scheme, though he did it with reluctance. The vision of
becoming governor of Hull--a post which the king, he thought, could
never refuse to grant him, if he took the city with his own right
hand--was just fading away from his mind, when the outer door of the
inn was thrown vehemently open, and some one entered the passage with
a quick and agitated step. Captain Barecolt looked up, and gazed forth
from Mrs. White's glass-case, at the same time laying his hand upon
his sword, for he was full of desperate and sanguinary thoughts. In a
moment, however, his countenance lighted up, and exclaiming, "Ah,
Diggory Falgate! honest Diggory Falgate!--something may perhaps be
done now--his knowledge of the place and the people may aid us at this
pinch, and my hand shall execute what his information suggests"--he
opened the door, and went out to meet the poor painter, extending his
hand to him in friendly guise.

Diggory Falgate started back as if he had seen an apparition; but the
next moment he grasped Barecolt's hand, and exclaimed--

"This is lucky indeed! Who would have thought to see you here,
captain? But listen to me. I have got a story to tell you that will
make your hair stand on end;--two, indeed, but one first, for that
presses; and if something is not done immediately, the earl is a dead
man!"

"What earl?" demanded Barecolt, in horror and consternation.

"Why, our earl, to be sure!" replied Falgate, walking on into Mrs.
White's _sanctum sanctorum_. "The Earl of Beverley, no other; and that
Saracen of a colonel will have him shot to-morrow morning, as sure as
I'm a living man, if something is not done to-night to prevent it!"

"I'll cut his throat first!" exclaimed Barecolt, half drawing his
sword. "But he dare not--he dare not, Master Falgate. 'Tis all
nonsense."

"He shot two men yesterday morning by the water-side," replied
Falgate. "Didn't he, Mrs. White?"

The latter words were addressed to the worthy landlady, just as she
returned with a fresh chopin; and while Captain Barecolt drained it
down at one single indignant draught, she confirmed the poor painter's
account, saying--

"Ay, that he did, the bloodthirsty brute! and better men than himself,
too."

"What's to be done now?" asked Barecolt. "The only way will be to go
and put him to death at once."

"You will only get yourself killed, and do no good," exclaimed the
painter and landlady together; and then Falgate, proceeding alone,
went on to add, "There is but one way to help the noble lord, captain,
if we can but arrive at it, and that is, to get some one to tell Sir
John Hotham himself. He'd never suffer all this to go on, if he knew
it; and it is only since he fell ill the day before yesterday morning
that his son dared to go on so."

"I'll write him a note," said Barecolt.

"Phoo! that will never do," replied the painter, "unless you can get
some one to deliver it to Sir John himself."

"I am talking without guide, indeed," said the gallant captain, who
began to feel that his nonsense was a little too gross even for the
intellects of the landlady and the painter. "I do not yet know the
whole circumstances. Pray, Master Falgate, have the goodness to relate
all you know, and how you know it; and then I will decide upon my plan
from the intelligence I receive. Be so good as to avoid superfluous
particulars, and yet be sufficiently minute in your details to afford
me a distinct knowledge of the facts."

Assuming a grave and sententious look of wisdom, he sat with his hands
folded upon his knees, while Diggory Falgate went on to inform his
auditors, that he had been arrested while entering the town three days
before, and placed in the custody of a body of the train-bands, with
some of whom he was personally acquainted and on very friendly terms.
He had remained in terror of his life under their guard till that
evening, receiving accounts from time to time of the wrath and fury
which Colonel Hotham was exercising upon the unfortunate Cavaliers of
the place, and employing all the interest he could make to obtain his
own liberation. That afternoon he had been brought in, he said, not
knowing whether the next word was to be life or death, when, to his
surprise and grief, he beheld the earl in the presence of the
governor's son. He then related all the particulars which he had
witnessed, and a new consultation took place, which bade fair to have
no end, when suddenly the worthy hostess exclaimed--

"Mr. O'Donnell's the man! He can do it. He can do it, I tell you, when
no one else can."

"Do what?" exclaimed Captain Barecolt. "Prithee, my excellent lady,
what can he do?"

"Why, get in to speak with Sir John Hotham," rejoined the worthy
landlady, "and tell him all about it."

"Then, as I said before," exclaimed the renowned captain, "I will go
to him this minute. Come along, Falgate--you shall go with me, for
there's no time to be lost."

"That there isn't," replied Diggory Falgate. "I'm your man, captain."

And away they went, begging Mrs. White not to go to bed till they
returned.



                             CHAPTER XLI.


It was nearly dark when the renowned Captain Barecolt and Diggory
Falgate issued forth into the streets of Hull, and silence, almost
solitude, had fallen over the town, for the people of that good city
were ever particularly attentive to the hour of supper, which was now
approaching. Captain Barecolt then ventured to give his companion a
familiar and patronizing slap on the shoulder, saying--

"Ah, Diggory Falgate I honest Diggory Falgate! I never thought to see
thee again in the land of the living."

"I certainly thought," replied the painter, in a grave tone, "that I
was on the high-road to the land of the dead. But it was not fair of
you, captain, upon my life, to leave me outside in the hands of those
men. Why, they talked of hanging me without benefit of clergy."

"Fair!" cried Barecolt, indignantly. "How could I help it, Diggory?
Did I not work more wonders than a man to save all of the party? Did I
not kill six Roundheads with my own hand? Did I not swim the moat,
open the gates, fight in the front, protect the rear, kill the
captain, disperse the troopers, and effect the retreat of my party
with the loss of none but you, my poor old Diggory? What more could
man do? You were but as a cannon, a falconer, a saker, which we were
obliged to leave in the hands of the enemy; nor was it discovered for
some time that you were not with us. When it was discovered, too, what
did I do? Did I not issue forth, and, thinking that you might be lying
covered with honourable wounds in some foul ditch by the roadside, did
I not search for you for miles around the field of battle?"

"No! did you, though?" said Diggory Falgate. "Well, that was kind,
captain."

"Nay, did I not pursue the search till after midnight?" continued
Barecolt. "Ask Lord Walton; ask the noble earl. But now that I have
found you, worthy Diggory, I would fain hear how you contrived to
escape from the hands of the Philistines. You are not exactly a
Samson, Diggory, and I should have thought they would have bound you
with bands you could not break."

"Hush!" said the painter; "here is some one coming."

The person who approached was merely a labouring man, who had been
detained somewhat late at his work, and he passed on without speaking;
but the pause thus obtained in the conversation between Captain
Barecolt and Diggory Falgate afforded the latter time for a little
reflection. It had been his purpose to communicate to his companion
the whole of his adventures, and what he had discovered in the church
on the hill; but as he pondered on the matter this design was altered.
A conviction had gradually impressed itself upon his mind, since first
he had become acquainted with the grandiloquent Captain Barecolt, that
the great warrior was in the habit of attributing to himself the
actions and discoveries of others, or at all events of taking more
than his due share of credit for anything in which he had part; and as
Falgate seldom had had an opportunity of distinguishing himself in any
way, except by painting strange faces, coats of arms, or wonderful
beasts upon signboards, he wisely judged that it would be expedient
not to let slip any part of the occasion which, as he thought, now
presented itself.

When Captain Barecolt, therefore, returned to the charge, and required
a detail of all his adventures, Falgate gave him such an account as
was perfectly satisfactory to his interrogator, and which, moreover,
had the advantage of being true, though that very important item in
the Old Bailey oath, "the whole truth," was not exactly stated. He
related how he had been carried off by the Roundhead party; how he had
been questioned touching the gentleman with whom he had been lately
consorting; how he had refused stoutly to answer, and had been
threatened with death; how he had been shut up in the old church, and
left there under a guard.

There, however, the minute exactitude of the painter's statement
halted, and he merely added, that finding the door leading from the
church into the vaults open, he had escaped by that means of exit;
and, after hiding for some time in the neighbourhood, had heard that
the troop which had taken him had been sent to Boston, upon which he
ventured to return to Hull.

For his faithful discretion Captain Barecolt bestowed upon him high
commendation, declared that some day he would be a great man if he
would but learn to ride, and offered to be himself his instructor in
that elegant art. By the time that the praises of the worthy officer
came to an end, however, they were approaching the out-of-the-way spot
at which the dwelling of Mr. O'Donnell was situated; but in attempting
to approach the water-side they were turned back by a sentinel, who,
on being asked how they were to get to the house they wanted to visit,
replied, they must go to the back-door if it had one.

Luckily, Diggory Falgate was acquainted with the street in which that
back-door was situated, and to it they accordingly went, pulled the
ring of a bell, and produced the slow appearance of the tidy old woman
whom Barecolt had seen before. In reply to his inquiries for Mr.
O'Donnell, however, on this occasion, she asserted boldly that he was
out; but the worthy captain, whose senses, as the reader knows, were
generally on the alert, finished the sentence for her by saying--

"Out of tobacco, do you mean, madam? Good faith! if he smokes away at
the rate he is now doing in the parlour, he may well consume a quintal
in a short space. Go in, my good lady, and tell him that a gentleman
is here who bears him news of old Sergeant Neil's grand-daughter."

The poor woman was confounded at the worthy captain's quickness; and,
too well accustomed to the vapour of tobacco to smell it herself,
could not divine how the visiter had discovered that her master was
smoking in the parlour, unless he had looked through a crack in the
window. Without more ado, then, she retreated, leaving the strangers
in possession of the passage; and in a moment after Mr. O'Donnell's
head was thrust out of a door at the farther end, taking a view of his
two visiters.

"Oh, come in, come in!" he said at length, as he recognised Barecolt.
"Whom have you got there with you? Come in----Ah, painter! is that
you?"

Without replying to his various questions, Barecolt and Falgate walked
on into his little room, which they found cloudy with smoke, while a
huge jug, emitting the steam of hot water, kept company with a large
black bottle, with the cork half out, which apparently contained a
stronger fluid. O'Donnell shut the door carefully, and then at once
began to interrogate Barecolt in regard to Arrah Neil, asking how she
had fared on the journey, whether she had found Lord Walton and his
sister, and where she actually was.

During the progress of these questions, which were put with great
rapidity, Falgate sat silent, but noted attentively every word that
was said, and marked the name of Lord Walton particularly in his
memory, as apparently the chief friend of the young lady in whose
escape he had assisted.

"She got off well, though it was through a hailstorm of dangers,
Master O'Donnell," replied Barecolt, in a quick, hurried tone. "She
has rejoined Lord Walton and his sister, and is now in Beverley. Ask
no more questions at present; but listen, and you shall have further
information concerning poor Arrah to-morrow, God willing. At present
we have other things to think of--business of life and death, Master
O'Donnell."

"Ah, devil fly away with it!" cried the Irishman; "that is always the
way. Nothing but business of life and death now-a-days. A plain man
can't drive a plain trade quietly without being teased about business
of life and death. But I will have nothing to do with it, I tell you.
I am a peaceable, well-disposed man, who hates secrets and abominates
business of life and death. There, take some Geneva and water, if you
will. It is better than all the business in the world. Run and get
some drinking-cups, Master Painter."

Falgate, who seemed to have been in the house before, did as he was
directed; and as soon as his back was turned O'Donnell demanded--

"What is this business? One cannot speak before your companion. He is
a rattle-pated, silly fellow."

"But a very faithful one," answered Barecolt, doing the poor painter
justice; "and he knows all about this affair already. But the matter
is shortly this, my good friend!--A noble gentleman is here in Hull,
having business with Sir John Hotham, and charged, moreover, by Lord
Walton, to speak with you concerning Mistress Arrah Neil. He is my
particular friend; and while he went on to the governor's house I went
to the 'Swan,' requested by him to see you end fix a meeting for
to-morrow morning. However, when he arrives at Sir John Hotham's, he
finds no one but his son, Sir John being very ill----"

"Ah, by----! here's a pretty affair!" cried O'Donnell. "Very ill Sir
John is not. He has got the gout in one foot and both hands, and is as
cross as the yards of a ship; but his son takes all upon himself, and
a base business he makes of it. What more? what more?"

"Why, the son causes this noble gentleman to be arrested immediately
for a spy, tears his pass to pieces, will not let him see the
governor, and threatens to shoot him to-morrow morning."

"And so he will, to be sure!" cried O'Donnell. "But what's to be done?
How, in the fiend's name, can I help you? I'll not meddle with it--not
a whit! I shall get shot some day myself if I don't mind."

As he was speaking, Diggory Falgate returned with two drinking-cups;
and without waiting for Barecolt's reply, he tapped O'Donnell on the
shoulder, saying--

"I'll tell you how you can help us, Master O'Donnell. Nothing so easy
in life, and no danger to yourself either, though you are not a fellow
to fear that if there were. All that is wanted is to let the governor
know what is going on, and he'll soon stop the colonel's doings; for
the pass which that wild beast tore was in his own handwriting; and it
will be an eternal blot upon his honour--worse than a black bend
sinister on the shield of his arms--if any harm happens to the earl
after giving him that."

"The earl!" said O'Donnell. "Oh, ho! He is an earl, is he?"

"What have you said, you fool?" cried Barecolt, turning angrily upon
Falgate; but the painter, though he turned somewhat red, put the best
face he could upon it, saying--

"Well, it's a slip of the tongue, captain; but it can't be helped, and
you know you can trust him."

"Ay, ay! trust me, sure enough," answered the Irishman. "But how am I
to do anything in this?" and leaning his head upon his hand, he mused,
while Barecolt mixed himself some Geneva and hot water, not
particularly potent of the latter; and Falgate stood gazing at the
master of the house, as if waiting for him to speak further.

"I'll tell you what you can do, Master O'Donnell," said the painter at
length, laying his hand upon the other's arm; "you can put on your hat
and cloak, go down to Sir John Hotham, and ask to speak with him for a
moment about his gout. We know he will see you, for Mrs. White told us
all about it."

"And if you have a snug little bottle of cordial waters under your
arm, you are sure to get in," added Barecolt. "Come, come, Master
O'Donnell; do not hesitate. There is no time to be lost."

"On my life, that's a pretty joker!" cried O'Donnell, starting up:
"that I am to go and put my neck in peril for a man I never saw in my
life. I tell you, I'll have nothing to do with it. It's a bad case;
and if they shoot him, they must."

In vain, to all appearance, were the eloquence of Barecolt and the
arguments of the painter. The best they could obtain from O'Donnell
was a vague and unsatisfactory reply, that he would go on the morrow,
or that he would see about it. He asked, nevertheless, a number of
questions, as if he felt some interest in the affair, which for nearly
half-an-hour had the effect of inducing his two visiters to believe
that their entreaties would ultimately prove effectual; but at length
he suddenly turned the conversation to another subject, and once more
inquired of Arrah Neil; and Barecolt, rising, wished him good-night in
a sullen and disappointed tone, saying that, as he would have no hand
in it, some one else must be found who would undertake the task which
he declined.

As soon as the mighty captain issued forth into the street, however,
he burst into a laugh, much to Falgate's surprise. But Barecolt
laughed again, saying, "He will do it, Master Falgate! He will do it,
take my word for it. He is a cunning old chap, that Master O'Donnell,
and he will not let us know what he is going to do; but he'll go."

"I don't think it, Captain Barecolt; I don't think it," replied
Falgate, sadly; "and we cannot trust the good earl's safety to such a
chance."

"I don't intend to trust to any chance at all, Diggory Falgate,"
answered Barecolt, in one of his supreme tones. "You do not suppose an
officer of my experience will rest satisfied without clear knowledge
of what he is about? Draw back with me, Master Falgate. Go you under
the shadow of that entry, where you can see his door in front. I will
post myself by that penthouse, where I command both streets. He cannot
escape us then, and we will give him twenty minutes. But if he comes
forth, say not a word, move not a finger; rest as quiet as one of the
door nails till he has gone on, and then come and join me."

Not five of the twenty minutes which Captain Barecolt had allowed for
the issuing forth of Mr. O'Donnell had elapsed when the door of his
house opened, and a tall figure appeared, which, turning back its
head, said aloud, "Turn the lock, Dorothy," and then took its way up
the street, without observing either of the two watchers.

Diggory Falgate was soon by Barecolt's side, and they followed
together upon the steps of the worthy Irishman, till they saw him
approach the governor's house and enter the court; after which they
again ensconced themselves under a gateway, in order to obtain the
means of judging, by the duration of O'Donnell's stay, whether he was
admitted to the presence of Sir John Hotham or not. Ten minutes, a
quarter of an hour, half-an-hour passed, and, O'Donnell not having
appeared when the clock struck ten, Barecolt and his companion,
satisfied that their end was so far accomplished, made the best of
their way back to the "Swan." The cautious captain, however, to make
assurance doubly sure, directed Falgate to proceed once more to the
merchant's house at break of day, and to question him closely in
regard to the result of his visit; after which, having communicated to
Mrs. White what success they had achieved, and received her opinion
that Master O'Donnell would leave no stone unturned to effect their
object, they sat down to a good supper, which she had prepared for
them in the room where Mr. Dry had dined with Arrah Neil, and enjoyed
themselves for half-an-hour.

At the end of that time, Falgate, pronouncing himself tired, left
Captain Barecolt with the flagon (which he did not propose to quit for
another hour), and retired, taking care to close the door after him.
His course, however, did not lie straight to bed; for, finding the
worthy landlady locking up her spoons and ladles in her little
parlour, he joined her there, and entered into conversation with her
in a low and confidential tone. Their conference lasted a considerable
time, and was carried on apparently with some reluctance by Mrs. White
at first, but gradually became animated on her part also; and at
length, when Falgate asked her, "You are quite sure she was buried
there, and that what I tell you was on her coffin?"

"I'll take my oath of it," she replied; "I'll give it under my hand if
you like."

"I wish you would, Mrs. White," answered the painter; and, receiving
her promise that it should be done on the following day, he retired to
bed.

Before we close this somewhat long chapter, it may be necessary to
trace to a certain point the proceedings of our worthy friend
O'Donnell; but we will do so very briefly. Having passed the sentinel
in the court of the governor's house, he approached a small door at
the side and knocked for admission. A servant appeared almost
immediately; but, far from asking directly to speak with Sir John
Hotham, he said, "Ah, Master Wilson! is Oliver within? I want a chat
with him."

"Walk in, Master O'Donnell," replied the man, "and I will seek for
him. He was with Sir John a moment ago."

O'Donnell wasted no more words, but entered in silence, and after
having been kept for a minute or two in the dark passage, he was
joined by Oliver, the governor's body-servant, as he was called, with
a light. The two shook hands with great good-will, and Master Oliver
drew his Irish friend into a little room on the left, where
immediately O'Donnell produced two large, flat-sided, long-necked
bottles from under his cloak, and setting one down on the table he
said, "That's for you, Noll, and this is some gout-cordial for the
governor, which will soon send all his ailments away."

"God grant it!" replied the man, "for he is in a devil of a humour.
Shall I take it to him, Master O'Donnell? Many thanks for the good
stuff!"

"Welcome, welcome!" replied his companion: "but you must get me speech
of Sir John this very night, for I have got a dozen bottles of
cinnamon, such as you never tasted in your days, and a gentleman in
the town wants them. So I promised to give him an answer before I went
to bed, but thought it only dutiful to talk to the governor about them
first, in case he should like any."

"Ah! he'll talk about that," replied the servant, "though he won't
talk of anything else. Come up with me to his door, and we'll soon see
if he'll speak with you. Bring your bottle with you. That's as good as
a pass."

"Better sometimes," replied O'Donnell, drily; and following the
servant up-stairs and into the better part of the house, he was kept
for a moment or two in the corridor, and then admitted into the
presence of Sir John Hotham.



                            CHAPTER XLII.


Day dawned at length into the dark and lonely prison of the Earl of
Beverley--the bright warm day, clear and beautiful, and rosy with the
hue of the rising sun. A long ray of light streamed through the high
window and painted the opposite wall; then slowly descending, as the
orb rose higher in the heaven, rested on the graceful figure and the
rich curling hair of the captive, as he still sat at the table, but
fast asleep with his head now bent down on his folded arms. The quiet
sunshine did not wake him, for he had watched, with anxious thoughts
for his only companions, through the greater part of the night; and
not till about an hour before morning had slumber fallen upon him. But
he was not destined long to know repose; for shortly after dawn a
voice was heard in the room, saying, "Is there any one below?"

The sound but not the sense caught his ear; and starting up he gazed
round the room. All was vacant, however, and he thought he had been
dreaming, when suddenly the question was repeated--

"Is there any one below?"

It seemed to come from the chimney; and approaching, he replied
aloud--

"Yes! Who speaks?"

"Who are you? what is your name?" demanded the voice; but, though the
tones seemed not unfamiliar to Lord Beverley's ear, he could not of
course venture to give his real name to a person he did not see; and
he replied--

"That is nothing to any one. Who is he that talks to me?"

"My name is Ashburnham," replied the person, who seemed speaking from
some room above; "a prisoner like yourself, if you be one."

"I am, indeed, Ashburnham," answered the earl. "I will not utter my
name, lest there should be other ears listening; but I am he whom you
joined going to France, and who was taken with you."

"Bad luck indeed!" said Colonel Ashburnham. "Hotham has lied, then,
for he told me you were gone."

"He spoke truth there," answered the earl; "but, as ill fortune would
have it, I returned last night on business and was arrested by his
son, who tore my pass, and vows he will try me as a spy."

"Ay, a curse fall upon him!" cried the other voice. "He respects no
rules of honour or courtesy, and, since his father fell ill, has put
me in close confinement. If Hotham could know, he would treat you
vetter; but I cannot help you, for I am locked in here."

"Hush!" cried the earl; "here are steps coming."

The next moment the key was turned in the lock, the bar taken down,
and two soldiers appeared. In a dull and indifferent tone, as if he
were bidding the prisoner come to the morning meal, one of the men
told Lord Beverley to follow to the colonel's council; and obeying,
with very little hope that anything he could say would change the
stern purpose of the parliamentary officer, the earl was led along the
passage to what seemed a dining-hall on the same floor, in which he
found Colonel Hotham seated at a table, with four inferior officers
round him. Two wore the garb of the train-bands, the others seemed
strangers to the city; for when the prisoners entered they were asking
some questions concerning the fortifications. His appearance, however,
instantly drew their eyes upon himself; and, walking with a firm step
to the end of the table, he gazed calmly over them, scanning the
countenance of each of those who seemed assembled to judge him, not at
all abashed by the somewhat fierce stare with which one or two of them
regarded him.

Colonel Hotham had in general chosen his men well. The two Londoners
he had long known as very unscrupulous and fiery zealots in the cause
of the parliament; and Captain Marden, one of the officers of the
train-bands, whom he had called to his aid, had made himself somewhat
remarkable on several occasions by his gloomy fierceness of
disposition. He had commanded the party by whom the two unfortunate
men mentioned by Falgate had been put to death, and he had seemed only
the more morose and dogged after the horrid scene in which he had
borne a part. The fourth officer was known as a religious enthusiast,
a preacher in one of the conventicles of the city, and, as was
generally supposed, as wild and unsparing as the rest, so that Colonel
Hotham entertained no doubt that his purposes towards the prisoner
would receive the sanction of these men's authority, without scruple
or hesitation on their part.

After pausing for a moment, while the earl stood at the end of the
table as we have described, the parliamentary commander demanded, in a
sharp tone--

"What is your name?"

"Not knowing that you have any authority to ask it," replied the earl,
with perfect calmness, "I shall, most undoubtedly, refuse to answer."

"That will serve you little, sir," said one of the men from London;
"for if you do refuse, the court will proceed to try you without
further ceremony."

"What court?" demanded the earl. "I see five persons sitting round a
table, but no court."

"This, sir, is a summary court-martial," replied Colonel Hotham,
"called to try a person accused of entering a garrisoned town as a
spy."

"With a pass from the governor?" added Lord Beverley.

"But that pass, we have every reason to believe," replied Colonel
Hotham, "was obtained by a false representation of your name and
quality, and as such was invalid."

"That point will be easily established," replied the earl, "by calling
the governor himself. I maintain that he gave it to me with full
knowledge of my person; and I therefore require that he be called, to
testify as to the the validity of the pass which you, sir, most
dishonourably and dishonestly tore to pieces last night."

"The governor is too ill, sir, to give his evidence," said one of the
officers from London.

"If, gentlemen, your purpose is to commit a cold, deliberate murder,"
said the earl, "you may do it without all this ceremony. I am in your
hands, have no power to resist you, and no means of obtaining justice;
but I will not further your views by recognising this as a court,
which is in fact none at all. If Sir John Hotham is too ill to attend,
delay the inquiry till he is better. I stand upon the safe-conduct
which I received from him; and if you violate it you are murderers,
and not men of honour."

"Had he a pass?" demanded the preacher officer of the train-bands,
turning gloomily to Colonel Hotham.

"He had, but under a feigned name," replied Hotham.

"What proof have you?" demanded the enthusiast. "Remember, sir, 'whoso
sheddeth man's blood, by man shall his blood be shed!' If you bring
not your father to testify, how can we know that this safe-conduct was
wrongly obtained?"

Colonel Hotham's cheek turned red, for he loved not such opposition;
and he paused for a moment ere he replied, feeling that he was angry,
and fearing that he might commit himself.

"I think," he answered at length, in a tone so soft that it betrayed
the struggle to keep down his passion--"I think that we can prove that
it was obtained under a false name by other witnesses, without
disturbing my father, which might be dangerous;" and then, turning to
the two guards who remained at the door, he said, "Where is the other
prisoner? Let him be brought in. Has the other man been summoned, who
is said to know something of these persons?"

"Yes, colonel," replied the man to whom he spoke; "they are both
without there--one in one room, and the other in another."

"Bring in the prisoner first," said Colonel Hotham; "we will confront
them together, gentlemen."

A pause ensued for the space of about two minutes, during which no one
spoke except one of the officers of the train-bands, who said a few
words to the other in a low voice, and then the door opened; and
turning round his head, the earl, as he had apprehended, beheld the
renowned Captain Barecolt marched in amongst some soldiers. As it was
not the first time that the worthy officer had found himself in such
an unpleasant position, he showed himself very little disturbed by his
situation, and walked up to the end of the table with a bold
countenance, smoothing down his moustaches, and drawing his beard to a
point between his fingers, as if he had not had time to complete his
toilet are he was brought from the inn.

The cool self-sufficiency of his air seemed to move the wrath of
Colonel Hotham, who instantly addressed him, saying--

"What is your name, fellow?"

"I be not your fellow, sair," replied Barecolt, boldly, "and am not so
call. My name vere Captain Jersval, for your service, gentlemen."

"And now speak out, and speak the truth," continued the colonel, while
Barecolt bowed ceremoniously round the table; "leave your mumming,
sir, and answer. Who is this person, with whom you entered the town
yesterday evening? Answer truly, for your life depends upon it."

"Begar, it vere one very difficult thing for me to tell," replied
Barecolt in the same unconcerned tone. "First, sair, it cannot alvay
be easy to tell who one be oneself; and much more uneasy to tell who
de oder man be."

"What does the fool mean?" demanded one of the Roundhead officers;
"not always easy to tell who you are yourself! What do you mean, man?"

"Vhy, sair," replied Barecolt, with an agreeable laugh, "one day, not
so very long time ago, I met vid one saucy man who to my face--to my
very beard, sair--swear I vas one oder man but myself. He swear I vere
not Jersval, but Barecole--one Capitaine Barecole, a very great man in
dese parts--a famous man, I hear."

"Cease this foolery, sir," cried Colonel Hotham, "and answer my
question directly, or prepare to walk out to the water-gate and
receive a volley. Who is the person, I say, now standing beside you?"

"_Pardi!_ how de devil should I know?" rejoined Barecolt, with some
heat of manner; "I have seen him twice, dat is all; once aboard de
sheep vere he was very seek, and once I meet him just half-a-league
out of de gate. Ve vere chase hard by a party of vat you call Cavalier
malignant, and ride togeder for our lifes."

"That is true, for I saw them," said one of the officers of the
train-bands.

"And do you pretend to say you do not know his name?" demanded Colonel
Hotham, gazing with the fierceness of disappointment upon the worthy
Captain's face.

"Oh, I tink I heard his name on board de sheep," answered Barecolt;
"but I cannot be too sure. Let me see. It vas de Colonel de Mery: vas
it not dat you told me, sair?" and he turned to the earl with a low
bow.

"I answer no questions here, sir," replied Lord Beverley. "This is no
lawful court, and the people are not seeking justice, but a pretext
for murder."

"Ah! murder--dat be very bad;" cried Captain Barecolt, with a shrug of
his shoulders; "men may kill one de oder in fair fight very vell, but
murder be very bad indeed! Perhaps dey murder me too!"

"Very likely," answered the earl, drily; but Colonel Hotham exclaimed,
"Silence! I have given you an opportunity, sir, of saving your life by
telling plainly who this man is. You would not take it, and now we
shall soon see who you are yourself. Bring in that Mr. Dry."

Captain Barecolt's countenance fell, for he had remarked the room-door
of Mr. Dry open on the preceding night, as he walked somewhat late to
bed; and, though he had not been aware at the time that the worthy
master of Longsoaken was awake and watching, he doubted not now that
his own arrest was owing to that gentleman's good offices. He prepared
for the worst, however, and determined to adhere stoutly to his story,
thanking his stars that he had alluded to his recontre with Cornet
Stumpborough, before Mr. Dry was called.

He was not long kept in suspense, however; for not more than
half-a-minute elapsed before Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, entered the room,
with his face very pale and his nose very blue, as if recovering from
a severe illness; and taking his place at a convenient distance from
the renowned captain, replied at once to Colonel Hotham's first
question--

"That, worshipful sir?--that is one Captain Barecolt, a notorious
malignant, now actually in arms against the authority of the two
houses."

"Oh, I tell you so!" cried Barecolt, with a well-feigned look of
impatience; "Capitaine Barecole again! Cuss Capitaine Barecole! Now he
swear me black in de face dat I vere Capitaine Barecole just as de
oder did."

"I will swear, to be sure," replied Mr. Dry; "for, as I have a
conscience and a soul to be saved, you are the man. We all know you
are very cunning, Captain Barecolt; but if you can cheat in other
matters, you cannot cheat in this. I know you well enough, after
having been carried along as a captive in bonds, by you and other
Amorites like you, for several mortal days."

"What he mean by Amorite?" asked Barecolt, with a look of ignorance;
but Colonel Hotham interposed, saying--

"That will do, sir; stand down! You shall hear more as soon as you
could wish. Now, worshipful Master Dry, be so good as to look well at
that other person, and say if you have seen him before."

Mr. Dry did as he was directed, but the appearance of the earl puzzled
him more; for, though the beauty of his features was remarkable, yet,
even to those who had seen him often, the black dye with which he had
tinged his hair and beard made so great a change that it would have
been difficult to recognise him.

"Yes," said the master of Longsoaken, at length--"yes, I am very sure
I have seen him before, though I think his hair was of a different
colour then. I met him as he was riding up to the house of the
malignant Lord Walton, at Bishop's Merton. He staid there all night, I
heard, on the day when the house took fire. I am quite sure it is the
same, though, his hair is dyed."

"It is," replied Colonel Hotham, in a stern and determined tone, "and
I will tell you who he is, gentlemen; for, though he thinks I do not
know him, yet I do. I was fool not to recognise him at first. This,
sirs, is the noble Earl of Beverley, who has now come into this
garrison of Hull as a spy, and deserves death by all the laws of war."

"It is false, sir!" answered the earl, gazing on him fixedly. "Whoever
I am, I came not here as a spy."

"Do you mean to deny your name, my lord?" demanded Colonel Hotham.

"I mean to answer no questions, sir," said the earl, "but merely to
give you the lie in your teeth, when you assert a falsehood. I stand
upon your father's safe-conduct, and call him to witness that he gave
it to me."

"The pass I tore was not in favour of the Earl of Beverley," replied
the officer; "and that you are he will soon be proved, though I
thought fit to call upon these men first. Ask Colonel Jackson to step
hither," he continued, speaking to the guard, "and the two other
gentlemen in the red room."

The name he mentioned was familiar to the ear of Lord Beverley, who
remembered that Colonel Jackson was in the hall where he had had his
first interview with Sir John Hotham, but, owing to the disguise which
he had assumed, had not recognised him on that occasion. He could
little hope, however, that the parliamentary officer would fail to do
so now, when his attention was particularly drawn to the examination,
and the matter was but too soon decided. Three gentlemen were one by
one introduced into the room, and told to examine the earl and state
who he was; and each, though with apparent reluctance, pronounced the
words, "Lord Beverley."

"The case is clear, gentlemen," said Colonel Hotham. "The Earl of
Beverley, under a feigned name and with an invalid pass, has
introduced himself into this garrison. It is for you to say, whether,
under these circumstances, he is or is not a spy, and subject to the
invariable law of such cases."

"Remembering always," rejoined the earl, "that you have no proof that
the safe-conduct was invalid, Colonel Hotham having torn it, so that
it has never been beneath your eyes; and not forgetting that, even
supposing this to be a lawfully-constituted court-martial--which I
deny, he having no authority to summon one--he has refused to call the
only witness I judged necessary to my defence."

He spoke calmly and firmly, with his cheek perhaps a shade paler than
it usually was, but with no other visible sign of emotion, while the
countenance of Colonel Hotham, on whom his eyes were fixed, worked
with many mingled passions which resisted control.

"This is all vain and foolish!" cried the latter; "I will tell the
earl that I have authority, which I should not scruple to exercise, to
put him to death at once, but that I have thought it better to give
him the chance of this investigation."

"Young man," said the military preacher, addressing Hotham in a solemn
tone, "if you give a man in bonds a chance, it should be a fair one.
Such has not been afforded the prisoner. Why did you tear the paper?
Why do you now refuse to confront him with the witness he calls?--and
if that witness be too ill, why not wait till he be well, as he
requires? Why not, if not to doom him to death at your pleasure? I
will go no farther in this--I wash my hands of this blood."

"Well, then, we will put it to the vote," cried Colonel Hotham,
fiercely; "and look to yourself, Captain Marsh. He that puts his hand
to the plough must not turn back. Look to yourself, I say."

"I will," replied the old officer of the train-bands, "and I am not to
be frightened from a righteous course by loud words or frowning brows.
I fear not what man can do unto me."

"Pshaw!" cried Colonel Hotham, turning away. "Your verdict, sir, upon
these two men--guilty or not guilty?"

"Guilty," said the Londoner to whom he spoke, without a moment's
pause.

"Guilty," said the other, on the colonel's left, answering a mere
look.

"I doubt," replied Captain Marden of the train-bands, when Hotham
turned to him.

"But I do not," rejoined that officer; "and I say guilty too--so there
are three voices against two. They are condemned. Take them hence to
the water-gate, call out a file of men, and the rest--as yesterday. I
spare you the rope, Lord Beverley, in consideration of your rank. You
shall die as a soldier."

"And you as a murderer!" shouted Barecolt, rushing towards him so
suddenly, that he caught him by the throat with both hands before any
one could interpose.

The two parliamentary officers drew their swords; the guards were
rushing up from the door; but, under the strong pressure of Captain
Barecolt's fingers, Colonel Hotham was turning black in the face, and
might have been strangled before he could have been delivered, when
suddenly a voice was heard exclaiming, "Halt! Not a man stir! Guard
the door!" and all was silence.

Captain Barecolt slightly relaxed his grasp, the parliamentary
officers drew back, and Sir John Hotham, with an excited and angry
countenance, and evidently in great pain, walked up the room and took
his place at the head of the table.

"What is all this?" he demanded. "Unloose my son, sir! What is the
meaning of this, Colonel Hotham?"

"_Pardi!_ I will unloose him, now you be come, gouverneur," replied
Barecolt, taking away his hands and drawing back; "but, begar, if you
had not come, he be strangle!"

Colonel Hotham sank in a chair, gasping for breath, and one of the
officers from London took upon him to reply: "This is a court-martial,
Sir John, summoned to try----"

"And by whose authority?" demanded the governor, fiercely; "who dares
to summon a court-martial in Hull but myself?"

"But you were ill, sir," replied the officer, "and Colonel Hotham
judged it expedient to summon us."

"He did! did he?" cried the governor. "Colonel Hotham, give up your
sword. You are under arrest. Remove him, wards; take him away! This is
no court--all its proceedings are illegal, and shall so be dealt with.
Gentlemen, you are dismissed. Away! We have had too much of you."

Some of those present were inclined to remonstrate; but the old man
who alone had interfered in behalf of the earl said aloud, "You are
quite right, Sir John. The court and all its proceedings were illegal
and iniquitous."

Colonel Hotham, too, strove to make himself heard; but the governor
exclaimed, in a loud and angry tone, "Away! have I not said it?
Guards, clear the room, and take that young man away. Place a sentry
at his chamber-door; he is under arrest."

Sir John Hotham had not come alone, for the further end of the hall
displayed a considerable party of the train-bands; and, muttering some
very unpleasant observations on his father's conduct, Colonel Hotham
was removed, while the rest of the body whom he had chosen to
constitute a court-martial retired slowly and sheepishly, leaving the
governor with two prisoners, Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, and a party of
the guard.



                            CHAPTER XLIII.


Sir John Hotham gazed alternately at Lord Beverley, Captain Barecolt,
and Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, with not a little of that irascibility
which is common in the complaint from which he was suffering still
evident in his countenance, and ready to fall upon any one who said a
word to provoke his wrath. As several of the guard were in the room,
Lord Beverley thought it most prudent to remain perfectly silent; and
the governor at length began the conversation by exclaiming, "And who
the devil is this fellow?" At the same time he pointed to Mr. Dry,
with no very placable looks.

"I am a poor, God-fearing man, worshipful sir," began the personage of
whom he spoke; but Captain Barecolt interrupted him before he could
say more.

"He is von of de greatest rogue in all de Christendom," he said,
turning to the governor; "I know he very vell. He sheat de king, he
sheat de parliament, he sheat everybody. He be von grand imposture."

"The devil he is!" exclaimed the governor. "Is this true, sir?" And he
looked to Lord Beverley for an answer.

"Perfectly, Sir John," replied the earl. "I have heard a good deal of
this gentleman from various quarters; and I know that he carried off a
young gentlewoman from her friends, and brought her hither to Hull,
with very sinister views indeed."

Mr. Dry held up his hands and showed the whites of his eyes; but the
governor exclaimed, "Ay, by ----!" and he added a very unsanctified
oath: "I recollect the scoundrel now. He came here two or three days
ago; he came here making a great noise about this girl, and asking for
warrants, and I know not what: he declared that she was his ward. Take
him by the ears, fellows, and turn him out of the town. We want no
such vagabonds amongst us."

"I warn you, worshipful sir; I warn you," cried Mr. Dry while two of
the guards took him by the arms, "that these are two malignants and
prelatic conspirators. Did not false witnesses rise up against----"

"Away with him!" shouted Sir John Hotham before he could finish the
sentence; "away with him! and if he continues to bawl, put him in the
stocks and let him bawl there."

The soldiers removed Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, without further
resistance; for he, like Erasmus, was not of the stuff from which they
make martyrs, and the name of the stocks had a great effect upon him.
The governor then directed the rest of the soldiers to quit the room,
but to wait in the passage without, adding, "I will examine into the
case of these gentlemen myself."

As soon as the room was clear he turned to the Earl of Beverley,
saying, "This is an unfortunate affair, my lord. You see how things
go. What can I do?"

"Why, methinks, Sir John," rejoined the earl, approaching the
governor, and speaking in a whisper, "the only thing for you to do is,
to throw open the gates at once to his majesty's forces and declare
your loyalty. A few hours would bring the army hither."

"Impossible! impossible!" cried Hotham aloud, with an impatient look.
"You know not what you talk of, sir. Everything is changed since you
were here. This place is full of people sent down from the parliament.
It will be as much as I can do to get you out safely, and unless my
son had given me cause to shut him up, I could not even do that. He
cannot be kept in long, however, for ere noon I shall have
remonstrances enow, and your only safety is in immediate departure.
You shall have a new pass without delay, and then the sooner your back
is turned on Hull the better."

"But what shall I say to the king?" demanded the earl, willing to
make one more effort for the grand object of his coming; "he fully
expects----"

"Expects what cannot be done!" exclaimed the governor, impatiently.
"Give my humble duty to his majesty, and say I will lose no
opportunity to do him service, but that I am no longer master in Hull.
Tell him he had better withdraw his troops as soon as may be, for if
they come before the walls the cannon must be fired on them, which I
would fain avoid. But say, sir--say that my heart is with him, and
that it is against my will I close the gates."

As he spoke, he drew the inkstand closer, and wrote a fresh pass for
the earl, looking up and adding, "But I will send people with you to
see you clear of the gates. On my life, I scarce know what contempt
these men will show to my orders; and as likely as not that they would
stop you and hang you in the streets if you had not a guard."

"Begar, den, de sooner we vish them good morning de better!" cried
Captain Barecolt.

"But, Sir John, there is another matter," said Lord Beverley, as the
governor put his signature to the paper. "You have here in bonds my
friend and the king's faithful servant, Colonel Ashburnham. I do
beseech you, for my sake, and for your loyalty's sake, set him free
also."

"Nay, I know not how that may be," replied Sir John Hotham: "the
parliament have written to my son, I hear, to send him up to
Westminster."

"But your son is not governor of Hull," answered the earl "if the
mandate came to him, not to you, there can be no cause why you should
know or recognise it. If you miss this opportunity of sending him away
with us, you may regret it when you have no longer the power to show
such an act of courtesy."

"True, true!" replied Sir John Hotham: "I have promised him his
freedom, and he shall have it, if the devil himself keep the gates.
Stay here a minute--stay here!" and rising from his chair he limped
away, and left Captain Barecolt and the earl alone in the hall.

A few minutes passed in explanations between the two Cavaliers; but
then they began to be somewhat impatient for the governor's return, as
they were but too well aware that their situation was still full of
danger and difficulty. Minute after minute passed, however, without
his coming; and a considerable degree of noise in the house, the
moving about of many feet, and a good deal of bustle and confusion,
did not tend to quiet their apprehensions.

"By heaven, my lord!" cried Barecolt, at length, "I fear your lordship
has gone farther than that worthy gentleman of old times who
sacrificed himself for his friend; for I've a great notion that you
have sacrificed me also for this good colonel, who was the original
cause of all our mishap. I would have let him take his chance and get
out as he could."

But, while the renowned captain was thus remonstrating, the door again
opened and Sir John Hotham reappeared, followed by Colonel Ashburnham.
"Quick, quick!" cried the governor, "you must lose no more time, but
all get away together. Here is already a deputation to remonstrate,
but I have shut the fellows up in a room above, and they shall wait
long enough before they see me."

"But we must provide a horse for my good friend here," said Lord
Beverley, who was shaking Ashburnham by the hand.

"That's all done, that's all done!" said Sir John Hotham: "his horse
and yours are both waiting in the court, and a party of men to see you
safe out of the town, and to ensure that you speak with no one as you
go. We must treat you as enemies, my lord, though we could wish you
were friends."

"But my horse!" cried the renowned Captain Barecolt: "I have left him
at the inn."

This intelligence somewhat discomposed Sir John Hotham; but it was at
length determined that Barecolt should have a fresh pass made out in
his own name, and should be left with this security, to find his way
out of Hull as best he might; and the whole party, issuing forth into
the court, left Sir John Hotham to account for his conduct, in the
matter of their liberation, to the partisans of the parliament in the
town. In taking leave of him, also, we need only remind the reader
that these very events, not long afterwards, brought his head to the
block.



                            CHAPTER XLIV.


Parties of the royalist army were moving in every direction round
Hull, and from time to time saker and falconet, and such other
artillery as the garrison had been able to muster on the walls, were
discharged at the adventurous Cavaliers who approached too near, when
Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, having been permitted by the guard who had him
in charge to gather his baggage hastily together at the "Swan," and to
saddle his horse, issued forth from the gates, leaving behind him, in
the hands of Mrs. White, in part payment of his bill, the horse on
which Arrah Neil had ridden thither. Not that Mr. Dry had come
unprovided with the needful means of meeting any expenses he might
incur; far from it, for he was a wealthy man, and for many years had
never known what even temporary want was; but he loved barter, and
generally gained by; and though he was indeed obliged to dispose of
the nag to the good landlady at a loss, yet this loss, as he contrived
it, was less than would have been incurred by any other process.

However, when he stood without the gates and saw them closed behind
him; when he beheld, wherever he turned, some body of horse or foot at
the distance of less than a mile: and, more than all, when he heard a
cannon boom over his head from above, the heart of Mr. Dry, of
Longsoaken, sank, and he felt a degree of trepidation he had never
known in life before. What to do he could not tell; but after much
deliberation he resolved to stay where he was till the royalist troops
were withdrawn, calculating justly that they would not approach so
near as to do him any harm, and that the troops within would not issue
forth while the others were in sight.

One point, indeed, he did not foresee. The Earl of Beverley and
Colonel Ashburnham had passed out while he was at the inn, but the
redoubtable Captain Barecolt was still behind; and, as the evil fate
of Mr. Dry would have it, just after he had remained under shelter of
the archway to one hour and a quarter by the great clock, holding his
horse by the bridle all the time, the gate behind him suddenly began
to clank and rattle in the painful operation of giving exit to that
great hero.

Mr. Dry started up and looked behind him, lifting his foot towards the
stirrup at the same moment; and as soon as he beheld Captain Barecolt,
he scrambled into the saddle as well as he could; but, alas! that
renowned officer was already mounted, and Mr. Dry had to perform an
operation which was difficult to him. He had got his left foot in the
stirrup; he had swung himself up into the saddle; but before his right
foot could find its place of repose (and Mr. Dry did not venture to
spur on till it had), the gates were closed behind Captain Barecolt,
and he himself was by the Puritan's side.

"Ha, ha! old drybones!" said that officer, "have I caught thee at
length?"

"What want you with me, man of Belial?" demanded the master of
Longsoaken, with the cat-in-a-corner courage of despair. "Get you gone
upon your way, and let better men than yourself follow theirs."

"Nay, good faith!" answered Barecolt, stretching out his left hand and
grasping Mr. Dry's rein: "I always love that better men than myself
should bear me company, and such is to be thy fate, O Dry! so do not
think to escape it; for, as sure as my name is de Capitaine Jersval,
if you attempt any one of all those running tricks which you know so
well how to practice, I will slit your weasand incontinent. It matters
not two straws to me whether I have you alive or dead, but have your
corpus I will, as the prisoner of my bow and spear, as you would call
it. Come, use your spurs, or I must spur your beast for you. You see
that party of honest Cavaliers there on the hill--terrible malignants,
every one of them, that would have a pleasure in roasting you by a
slow fire, like a tough old goose, and basting you with those strong
waters that you love so well. To them we are going, so spur on with
the alacrity which your good luck deserves. What! you will not? Oh,
then, I must make you!" and drawing his sword, he pricked Mr. Dry's
horse so close to that worthy gentleman's thigh, that he started and
rose in the stirrups.

The poor beast darted on in an instant, and in so doing shook Mr. Dry
a good deal; but whether the concussion elicited a brilliant thought
from his brain or not, he exclaimed immediately after--

"Harkye, Captain Barecolt! I have a word for ye. Do not let us ride so
fast. I have an offer to make. Listen a moment."

Mr. Dry understood the peculiar genus of captain to which Barecolt
belonged, but he did not understand the exact variety. He knew that,
with most adventurous soldiers like himself, the food for which they
hungered was gold. Drink might do much, dice might do much, fair
ladies might do more; but gold, gold was paramount--an attraction not
to be resisted. Mr. Dry loved gold, too, and overvalued its
importance; but he felt a strong internal conviction that, if carried
at once to the quarters of Lord Walton, life, which was the grand
means of getting and enjoying gold, would be of a very short duration.
He saw a noose dangling from a cross-tree before his eyes, and he
wisely calculated that it would be better to sacrifice some portion of
the less valuable commodity to save the more valuable; and therefore
he prepared to tempt his companion's cupidity--not without a faint
hope of cheating him after all, but with the resolution of giving
anything that might save his life.

A sudden thought, too, had struck Captain Barecolt, which he proceeded
to follow out, as will be seen presently; but its first effect was to
make him draw in his rein, and also check the horse of Mr. Dry, over
which he exercised supreme command; and as he did so, he said in a dry
and bantering tone--

"Well, worshipful Mr. Dry, speak what you have to speak. As you will
not have leisure to use your tongue much more on earth, it would be
hard to deny you a few words. You are going to the gallows, Mr.
Dry--you are going to the gallows; and though I cannot promise that
you shall swing as high as Haman, yet you shall have as decent an
execution as time and circumstances permit, and plenty of room for
your feet.

"Nay," said Dry, with a sort of sobbing sigh, "you would not be so
barbarous, so unchristian, especially when I am willing to pay ransom.
Listen, captain--listen, noble Captain Barecolt: if you will not take
me and put me into the hands of yonder men of Belial, I will--I will
go as far as a hundred pounds."

"Men of Belial, sirrah!" cried Barecolt, turning upon him fiercely.
"How dare you call his majesty's forces men of Belial. Those very
words shall cost you five hundred pounds, if you would save your
life."

Though the captain's words were fierce, yet they served to show that
he was not quite inaccessible, and Mr. Dry began at once to higgle
about his ransom; but Barecolt showed himself as hard a bargainer as
he was himself; and as he perceived that every step they took in
advance increased the trepidation of the worthy man of Longsoaken, he
used the screw thus afforded him to squeeze Mr. Dry very painfully.
Now he pushed on his horse--now he slackened his pace--now he pointed
out a party of Cavaliers approaching very near; and, discovering
exactly what Mr. Dry had upon his person, he took care to make his
demand much more, in order that he might have the opportunity of
keeping him in his hands till the sum was paid, which was indeed the
principal object he had in view.

Some difficulties, totally independent of Mr. Dry's natural reluctance
to part with his money, even to save his life, occurred in the course
of the negotiation. Barecolt was well aware, from what he had seen of
the king's conduct, that if the prisoner were taken to the camp,
instead of mounting a ladder, he would more likely regain his liberty
very speedily; and the worthy Puritan, on the contrary, was terrified
at the very thought of approaching the royal quarters, his
consciousness of offences grave and manifold presenting instant death
to his imagination as the only result. What then was to be done with
him while he remained in the custody of Captain Barecolt? That valiant
gentleman proposed that he should assume a false name, and pass as a
friend of his in the camp; but Mr. Dry, remembering that he was known
to many in Lord Walton's troop, rejected this idea as totally
inconsistent with his own safety.

"You might as well hang me at once," he said.

"That might be pleasant enough," answered Barecolt, "were it not that
you have only a hundred and fifty pounds about you, Master Dry.
However, let me see: if we take this little hollow way to the left,
methinks it will lead us to the hamlet just below the old church. I
could stow you away in that building, as a young friend of mine was
once served by some of your people, while I send for some of my own
men to keep guard over you, and I go and report myself."

"No, not there! not there!" cried he of Longsoaken, turning paler than
ever. "No, no! But there is an alehouse farther on, where we could find
accommodation. They are good and pious people there."

"For which reason I will have nothing to do with them," answered the
profane captain. "No, but I know of a tavern just a mile from
Beverley, where you can be lodged safely, Mr. Dry; and as, if you are
taken and hanged, I lose five hundred good pounds, you may be quite
sure that I will take as much pains to keep your neck out of the
halter as I will to guard against your escape. We will talk about the
means of getting the money from Bishop's Merton hereafter; so now come
on quick. We shall turn the flank of that party we saw upon the hill
in five minutes, without their seeing us, if we keep in the hollow
way; and should we meet any stragglers, you must either keep a silent
tongue in your head or curse and swear like a trooper."

"Heaven forbid!" exclaimed Mr. Dry, turning up his eyes.

"Phoo!" cried Captain Barecolt, "I know you would trample on the cross
as the Dutchmen do in Japan, to save your life;" and after the
assertion of this undeniable fact he hurried forward, nor drew a rein
till they reached the village, and the inn which he had mentioned.

They found three or four of the inferior followers of the court in
possession of the public-house; but, though two of them were known to
the politic captain, they were not personages whom he chose to trust;
and, conveying Mr. Dry to an upper room, he bestowed a small piece of
silver upon one of the boys of the place, to run up to Beverley and
bring down one Corporal Curtis from his troop. In the mean while, he
informed Mr. Dry that it would be as well if he would give up into his
secure keeping, to be duly accounted for at an after period, all his
worldly goods and chattels, including his tawny-sheathed steel-mounted
sword; and, though that worshipful person submitted with but an ill
grace to the law of necessity, the pitiless captain employed very
searching measures to ascertain that he retained nothing, either on
his person or in his saddle-bags, but a decent change of apparel. When
this was done, as Corporal Curtis had not yet appeared, Captain
Barecolt called for a pottle of good wine, the cost of which he
disbursed from Mr. Dry's store, noting it carefully down in a small,
dirty memorandum-book, as he sagely remarked that he would have to
reckon with that gentleman when they parted. The last cup was in the
pottle-pot, and the gallant officer was seriously thinking of calling
for more, when a tall, athletic man was ushered in, having some
resemblance to Barecolt himself, into whose hands the captain
consigned Mr. Dry, with a positive and loud injunction not to lose
sight of him even for a moment, and to shoot him through the head if
he attempted to escape.

Corporal Curtis promised to obey, saying drily, with a nod at their
companion, that he remembered the march from Bishop's Merton; and
Barecolt, leaving him in such good hands, mounted his horse and rode
off to Beverley. He was kept there for many hours before he could
obtain a private audience of Lord Walton; but at the end of that
period he was closeted with the young nobleman for a long time, and
when their conference was at an end they walked away together to the
quarters of Major Randal, where another long private conversation took
place. What passed might be difficult as well as tedious to tell; but
in the end, towards five o'clock of the afternoon, Captain Barecolt
returned to the village, where he had left his captive, accompanied by
two stout troopers selected by himself from his own troop; and
ascending to the chamber of Mr. Dry, he announced to him, in a tone
that admitted of no reply, that he must mount and accompany him at
once towards Bishop's Merton.

"I have determined, most worshipful sir," he said, as soon as he had
sent Corporal Curtis out of the room, "to see you safe on your way
till we are within half-a-day's march of Longsoaken. You will then
have the goodness to give an order for the payment of your ransom to
one of my friends, who will rejoin us when he has received it, and
then I will set you free."

"How do I know you will do that?" demanded Dry, of Longsoaken, in a
sullen tone.

"By making use of your common sense, Mr. Dry," replied Captain
Barecolt. "Could I not hang you now if I liked it? Can I not hang you
now if it pleases me? Will I not hang you now if you affect to doubt
the honour of a gentleman and a soldier? So no more on that score, but
descend, mount, and march--as you needs must."

There was no remedy And Mr. Dry obeyed, with vague hopes indeed of
making his escape by some fortunate accident on the way. He argued
that, in the distracted state of the country, it was barely possible
for Captain Barecolt to pass across a great part of England without
either encountering some force of the opposite party or pausing in
some town which had espoused the parliamentary cause, and he believed
that in either case his liberation must take place. But he little knew
the forethought of that great stratagetic mind. Barecolt had furnished
himself with correct information regarding the views and feelings of
all the places he had to pass; and, instead of taking his way by
Coventry and Worcester, he led his little troop direct to Nottingham,
Derby, and Shrewsbury, almost in the same course that the king
followed shortly after; and at every halting-place Mr. Dry found
himself so strictly watched that his hopes declined from hour to hour.
He was never left alone, even for a moment, Captain Barecolt himself,
or one of the three soldiers who accompanied him, remaining with him
night and day. The only chance that seemed left was in meeting with
some friends as the party approached Bishop's Merton; but when Mr. Dry
remembered that he was totally unarmed, his heart, never the most firm
or most daring, felt inconceivably low at the thought of a struggle;
and the sanguinary and ferocious conversation of his captor, the list
of slain that his arm had sent to their long account, the bloody
battles he had seen, and the dire deeds he had done, made him tremble
for the result of any attempt to escape.

At length familiar objects began to greet the eyes of Mr. Dry. He saw
places and things which he had often seen before, and knew that he
must be within one day's journey of Bishop's Merton; and the very
feeling revived in some degree his fainting courage. "Surely," he
thought, "the people here must have retained their devotion to the
good cause." But, alas! as he rode one morning into a town where he
had often bought and sold, he beheld a party of Lord Hertford's horse
sitting jesting with the girls in the market-place; and the
conversation which he heard as he went along showed him that times had
changed, and that people had changed with them.

On leading him up, as had been the inviolable custom since they set
out, to a high room in the inn, Captain Barecolt, with a stern tone
and countenance, told Corporal Curtis to set a soldier at the door,
and to suffer no one to enter. Then waving his captive to a seat, he
took a stool opposite, and after a solemn pause addressed him thus:--

"Now, worshipful Master Dry, doubtless you have been puzzling the
small wits that God has given you to discover how it happens that an
officer like myself, high in the king's confidence, has been induced
to traverse so great an extent of country, solely for the purpose of
receiving from a mechanical and trading person like yourself the
pitiful sum of five hundred pounds, which might have been transmitted
by various other means; and it is but fitting that you should know the
worst. I and other persons of high rank and station have been made
acquainted how, on the death of a poor old man, one Sergeant Neil, you
rifled his cottage, and possessed yourself, amongst other things, of
sundry papers appertaining to a young lady, who for some years has
gone under the name of Arrah Neil, and was supposed to be his
grand-daughter.--Don't interrupt me. Having brought you thus far, it
is necessary to tell you, that besides an order upon some wealthy man
at Bishop's Merton for the five hundred pounds before mentioned, which
I shall send on by one of my troopers, it is necessary to your safety
and liberation that you should furnish Corporal Curtis with an exact
statement of where the said papers are to be found in your house at
Longsoaken, and with an order to your people there to aid and assist
my said corporal in searching for and finding those documents,
expressly stating that you have immediate need of them--don't
interrupt me--which indeed is the exact truth; for you must know that
I have authority, under the hand of competent persons, in case you
should show any reluctance to deliver up property belonging to other
people, which you have stolen, to hang you upon the branch of a
convenient tree in Wilbury Wood, as one taken in arms in open
rebellion, otherwise in flagrant delict, worshipful Master Dry. While
dinner is getting ready, therefore, you will be good enough to think
deliberately over these particulars, and make up your mind as to
whether you will like the state of suspense at which I have hinted
better than a surrender of that which is not yours."

The varieties of hue which Mr. Dry's countenance had assumed while he
listened to this long oration cannot be described here, for the very
attempt would require us to go through almost every shade that ever
graced a painter's pallet. Captain Barecolt had three times told him
not to interrupt him, but it was a very unnecessary caution, as that
worthy gentleman was too much confounded and thunderstruck to be able
to utter a word; and when at length his captor rose, and, going to the
door, conversed with the soldier for a few minutes, he remained in a
state of impotent rage, bitterness, and disappointment, which had the
curious effect of making him bite his under lip well-nigh through with
his teeth.

Captain Barecolt was inexorable, however; the dinner was served; and
Mr. Dry, though he could with difficulty be brought to eat a mouthful,
drank a good deal. The dinner was over, and Captain Barecolt called
for writing materials, which were laid before the unfortunate Mr. Dry.
He paused, and his hand shook; but the captain was wonderfully calm
and composed. He enjoyed the operation very much.

"First, if you please, worshipful Master Dry," he said, "the order on
some responsible citizen of Bishop's Merton for five hundred pounds,
to be paid at sight; and you will be good enough to eschew the word
'ransom,' putting in that it is for your private necessities."

Mr. Dry wrote as he was directed, and then Captain Barecolt, having
examined the paper, placed another sheet before him, saying, "Now for
the order to your steward, housekeeper, and all others of your people
at Longsoaken, to aid and assist Mr. Curtis: eschew the word
'corporal,' and merely style him 'your friend'--to search for,
&c. &c."

Mr. Dry again paused, and Captain Barecolt added, "Remember, I do not
press you. I have orders not to press you. If you sign, well; we will
go on to a certain cave you know of in Wilbury Wood, where I will
keep you company till my men return, and as soon as I find that all
which is required comes safe to hand, I will instantly set you free
without let or hindrance. But if you refuse to sign, I am not to press
you--no, not in the least: I am only to hang you in Wilbury Wood as a
terror to all offenders. No, I do not press you in the least, Mr. Dry.
Act as in your judgment you shall think it expedient."

Mr. Dry took the pen once more, and with a wavering and uncertain hand
wrote down the order, very nearly in the terms which Captain Barecolt
had dictated. He then stopped a moment, dipped the pen in the ink,
gazed in the officer's face, and then added his name.

"Hal ha! ha!" cried Captain Barecolt, taking the paper with a mocking
laugh. "Here is a man who prefers giving up things that don't belong
to him to being hung in a nice cool wood. What an extraordinary
taste!" and walking to the door he put his head out, saying, "Saddle
the horses."

"Devil!" cried Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, setting his teeth hard;
and at the same time, by a rapid but silent movement, he drew a long,
sharp-pointed knife off the table, and hastily put it in his pocket.

"Come, Mr. Dry," said Barecolt, turning round, "we shall soon part if
your people obey your orders and your correspondent pays the money; so
we may as well have another tankard to drink to our next merry
meeting. It will make but a small item in your bill. Holloa, there!
Bring another tankard, and mind it be of the best."

But when the wine came Mr. Dry refused to drink, saying sullenly that
he had had enough to quench his thirst for a week. Captain Barecolt
laughed again, for the writhing of his victim was pleasant to him; and
taking up the large jug of wine he replied, "We have not had you long
enough amongst us, Mr. Dry: you should really bear us company a little
longer, to learn to drink deep. This is the way a true _soldado_
discusses a stoup of good Bordeaux," and setting the brim to his lips,
he never took it away till the tankard was empty.

"Now, to horse! to horse!" he cried, and making Mr. Dry go down and
mount before him, he sprang lightly upon horseback, seeming all the
more brisk and active for his liquor.

After some little shaking of hands and bidding good-bye between
Captain Barecolt and his men and the troopers of Lord Hertford, in the
streets, the captain's little party rode out of the town, and were
soon in the midst of fields and lanes again. Then came a wide, bare
common, extending for three or four miles on every side; and as they
crossed it, a large old wood appeared lying straight before them, and
falling into deep waves of brown foliage, with misty dells between.

"Ay, there is old Wilbury Wood, Master Dry," said Captain Barecolt;
"you know it well, I dare say."

"You seem to know it well too," answered the Puritan, eyeing him
askance.

"To be sure I do," replied the renowned captain; "and while the men
are gone upon their errand, I will tell you how. Keep your curiosity
cool till then, Master Dry, and you shall be satisfied."

"I have no curiosity about it," growled the Puritan.

"Well, then, you shall hear, whether you have curiosity or not,"
answered the captain; and on they rode, following a somewhat lonely
and unfrequented path into the heart of the wood. The old trees rose
around them in wild groups and strange fantastic forms; the hares
bounded away in the underwood, and the squirrels, crossing the path,
ran gaily up the trees, while a jay flew on before and scolded them
from a bough overhead.

"I think this should be the turning," said the gallant captain, at
length. "Does not this lead to the cave, Master Dry?"

"Seek it yourself if you want it," said his companion.

"You are discourteous, knave!" said Barecolt, giving him a blow on the
ribs that made the worthy gentleman's breath come short. "Learn to be
civil to your betters;" and turning his horse up the path, at the
mouth of which he had stopped, he led his little party with unerring
sagacity to a high rocky promontory in the wood, in the base of which
appeared a hollow, some ten or twelve feet deep. He there dismounted
and made Mr. Dry do the same, and, seeing him safely lodged in the
cave, he gave one of the papers to Corporal Curtis, saying, "Take
Jukes with you, and do as I told you, corporal. Avoid the town, and be
back before dark; for if they do not give up the papers, I shall want
you to help to hang our friend there."

His back was turned to Master Dry; and as he uttered these words
aloud, he winked upon the corporal significantly with one small eye.

"They will obey my order," said Dry.

"I trust they will," rejoined Barecolt, solemnly. "You, James, take
this to Bishop's Merton, and get the money. You may tell Master
Winkfield, on whom it is drawn, that Master Dry wants it sadly. So he
does, poor man! Look about the town, too, before you return, and see
what is going on. I heard this morning that they are turning loyal;
and if so, I may honour them with a visit myself some day."

The men rode away, and Captain Barecolt, after having secured the
horses to two trees, took his pistols from the saddle and rejoined his
prisoner in the cave. There seating himself on the ground, with his
long legs stretched out across the mouth of the excavation, he
beckoned Mr. Dry with a commanding air to seat himself also. It was
easy to perceive that Captain Barecolt had been rendered somewhat more
grand in his own opinion by the last stoup of wine, which he had
tossed off with no more ceremony than if it had been a gill; and his
captive, feeling that it might be dangerous to oppose him even in a
trifle, instantly seated himself on the ground, being at the time
somewhat weary with a ride of more than thirty miles that morning.

Captain Barecolt first began by examining the priming of his pistols,
the muzzles of which every now and then swept Mr. Dry's person in a
manner that made him very uncomfortable; but when this operation was
finished and the pistols were replaced in his belt, the royalist
officer turned his looks upon Mr. Dry with a sort of compassionate
contempt that was extremely irritating. "Ah! Master Dry, Master Dry!"
he said, "both you and I know this wood very well. You often used to
come here when you were an apprentice boy with old Nicholas Cobalter;
and many a pound of sugar and salt you hid away in that corner, just
behind where you are now sitting; many an ounce of pepper you laid in
the nook just over your head, till you could dispose of your
pilferings."

Mr. Dry said nothing, but gazed at Captain Barecolt from under his
bent brows, with a look of hatred and fear, such as might be supposed
to pass over his countenance if he had seen the infernal spirit.

"Ay," continued the officer, in a somewhat maudlin and sentimental
tone, "those were pleasant days, Mr. Dry, especially when you used to
take a walk in this wood with buxom Mrs. Cobalter, when her husband
went to London town; and she used to say, if ever he died you should
be her second, because you were tender of her feelings, and connived
at her dealing with the pottle-pot more freely than her husband
liked."

"And who the devil are you?" cried Mr. Dry, furiously, forgetting all
his sanctity in the irritating state of apprehension and astonishment
to which he was reduced.

"Ay, those were merry times, Master Dry," continued Barecolt, without
noticing his intemperate question, and fixing one eye upon his
companion's face, while the other rolled vacantly round the cave, as
if searching for memories or ideas. "Yes, Master Dry, no one would
have thought to see you the master of Longsoaken in those days. But it
all came of the widow, and your stepping in, by her help, into all
that old Cobalter left. Fair or foul, Master Dry, it matters not--you
got it, and that made a man of you."

"And who in the fiend's name are you?" demanded the Puritan, almost
springing at his throat.

"I will tell you, Ezekiel Dry," answered Barecolt, bending forward
and gazing sternly in his face--"I will tell you. I am Daniel
Cobalter--ay, little Daniel, the old man's only nephew--his brother's
son, whom with the widow's aid you cheated of his uncle's inheritance,
and left to go out into the world with five crown-pieces and a stout
heart; and, now that I have you here face to face in Wilbury Wood,
what have you to say why I should not blow your brains out for all
that you have done to me and mine?"

Mr. Dry, of Longsoaken, shrank into nothing, while Barecolt continued
to gaze upon him as sternly as if he could have eaten him alive. A
moment after, however, the gallant captain's face relaxed its awful
frown, and with a withering and contemptuous smile he went on:--"But
set your mind at ease, worm! You are safe in my scorn. I have done
better for myself than if I had been tied down to a mechanical life.
But take warning by what has happened, and do not let me catch you any
more at these tricks, or I will put my boot heel upon your head and
tread your brains out like a viper's. There--sit there, and be silent
till the men come back; for, if I see you move or hear you speak, you
will raise choler in me."

The gallant captain rose, and stood for a minute in the mouth of the
cave, then returned again and seated himself, looking at Dry with a
sneering smile. "Now art thou hammering thy poor thin brains to find
how Daniel Cobalter has become Captain Barecolt; but if thou twistest
the letters into proper form, thou wilt find that I have not taken one
from any man's name but my own. This is no robbery, Dry."

"Nay, I see! I see!" said the Puritan.

"Ay! dost thou so?" rejoined Barecolt; "then see and be silent;" and
he leaned his head upon his hand and gazed forth from the mouth of the
cave. Presently, Captain Barecolt's head nodded and his breath came
more heavily. Dry, of Longsoaken, gazed at him with his small eyes
full of fierce and baleful light; but his face did not grow red or
heated with the angry passion that was evidently working within him;
on the contrary, it was as white as that of a corpse. "Ruin!" he
muttered in a low voice to himself--"ruin!" and at the same time he
put his right hand into his pocket, where he had concealed the knife.

But Captain Barecolt suddenly raised his head. "You moved!" he said
sternly.

"It was but for my ease," answered Dry in a whining tone; "this ground
is very hard."

"Sit still!" rejoined the captain, frowning, and then resumed the same
attitude. In two or three minutes he breathed hard again, and then he
snored, for he had drunk much wine and ridden far. For a few minutes
Mr. Dry thought he was feigning sleep, and yet it seemed very like
reality--sound, heavy, dull.

"It must be speedily, or not at all!" he thought to himself; "the
other men may soon be back. Softly! I will try him;" and rising, he
affected to look out of the mouth of the cave. Captain Barecolt slept
on.

Ezekiel Dry trembled very much, but he quietly put his hand once more
into his pocket and drew forth the knife. He grasped it tight; he took
a step forward to the sleeping man's side. Barecolt, accustomed to
watch, started and was rising; but ere he could gain his feet the blow
descended on his right breast, and, leaving the knife behind, Dry
darted out of the cave.

The blood gushed forth in a stream; but with a quick and firm hand
Barecolt drew a pistol from his belt, cocked it, took a step forward,
levelled, and fired. Dry, of Longsoaken, sprang up a foot from the
ground, and fell heavily upon the forest grass, his blood and brains
scattered around.

"Ha!" cried Barecolt; "ha, Master Dry! But I feel marvellous
faint--very faint: I will sit down;" and, resuming his seat, he leaned
back, while his face became as pale as ashes and the pistol fell from
his hands.



                             CHAPTER XLV.


The attempt upon Hull had been abandoned; and, mortified and
desponding, Charles I. had quitted Beverley and pursued his march
through the land. The Earl of Essex lay in force at Northampton; but
no show of energy announced at this time the successes which the
parliamentary armies were ultimately to obtain. The mightier spirits
had not yet risen from the depth; and the ostensible engines with
which faction worked were, as usual, the cunning artifice, the
well-told lie, the exaggerated grievance, the suppressed truth, the
dark insinuation, by which large classes, if not whole nations, may be
stirred up either for good or evil. There was activity in all the
small and petty arts of agitation; there was activity in those courses
which prepare the way for greater things; but in that which was to
decide all--arms--tardiness, if not sloth, was alone apparent.

It is strange, in reviewing all great political convulsions, to remark
how petty are the events and how small are really the men by which
great success is obtained, though insignificant incidents swell into
importance by their mass, and mean characters gain a reflected
sublimity from the vastness of the results by which their deeds are
followed. Even individual vices and weaknesses acquire a certain
grandeur under the magnifying power of important epochs, and from the
uses to which they are turned; and the hypocrisy of Cromwell, and the
bombast of Napoleon, which would have excited little but contempt in
less prominent persons, appear in a degree sublime by being displayed
on a wider stage, and employed as means to a mightier end. We are too
apt to judge of efforts by results, as of people by their success,
noticing but little, in the appreciation of men's characters, one of
the chief elements which distinguish the great from the little--the
objects which they propose to themselves--and, in our judgment of
their skill, taking into small account the difficulties that opposed
and the facilities that favoured the accomplishment of their designs;
and it is curious to remark, that the revolutions which have carried
great usurpers into power have always raised the ambitious, and left
the patriotic behind, as if human selfishness were the only motive
which can ensure that continuity of effort and unity of purpose which
alone can command success amongst the struggles of diverse factions,
and the development of infinitely varied opinions.

The Earl of Essex was a higher-minded man than Cromwell, but he had
doubts and hesitations which Cromwell's ambition would not entertain;
and there can be but little doubt that he was unwilling to strike the
first irrevocable blow against an army commanded by his sovereign in
person. Doubtless he fancied, as many did, that the small force
collected tardily by a monarch without supplies would speedily melt
away, and leave Charles, from sheer necessity, to accept any terms
that the parliament chose to dictate; but whatever was the cause, the
king was permitted to march to Shrewsbury unopposed, while the
parliamentary forces lay inactive at Northampton. The reception given
to the monarch in the town was such as to encourage high hopes in all;
and as Wales was rising in his favour, it was judged expedient that
Charles should visit the principality in person, while the army
recruited itself on the banks of the Severn, and every effort was made
to obtain a supply of arms and money. Provisions, indeed, were
abundant; the royalist troops were regularly paid; greater order and
more perfect discipline were maintained than had ever before been
observed in the army; and a state of calm and cheerful enjoyment
reigned in the good old town, which is but too seldom known in civil
wars.

Such was the state of things when, one evening, a little before
sunset, just after the king had left Shrewsbury for Wales, two
persons, a gentleman and a lady, wandered along through the fields on
the banks of the river, once more full of happy dreams and hopes of
bright hours to come. Lord Beverley gazed down into his fair
companion's eyes as she lifted her sunny look towards his fine
expressive face, and he saw in those two wells of light the deep, pure
love of which he had so often dreamed; while Annie Walton, in the
countenance of him who regarded her with such fond thoughtfulness,
read the intense and passionate tenderness which alone can satisfy the
heart, and teach the spirit of woman to repose with calm security on
the love of her future husband. It is too late in the tale either to
paint the feelings which were in the bosom of each at that
moment or to tell the words of dear affection that they spoke: the
thrill of mutual attachment; the trembling flutter of the heart as she
thought of the near-approaching hour; the glad eagerness of his to
make her his own beyond the power of fate; the visions of future joy,
and the long vistas of happy years which the warm imagination of each
presented--not the less bright and sparkling because, on her side as
on his, though from different causes, vague clouds and indistinct
shadows hung over parts of the scene which fancy painted. Come what
might, in a few days they were to be united; and that was enough for
the hour.

They had been long talking over their plans and prospects; the old
house of Longnar Hall was to be their abode for the next three weeks;
their marriage was to be as private and quiet as even Annie Walton's
heart could desire; and the circumstances of the times gave fair
excuse for cutting off all ceremonies and casting away all formal
delays. Of three weeks they thought themselves secure, and within that
little space was bounded all the real lifetime of their hopes.
Beyond!--what was beyond? Who could say? And yet they dreamed of days
long after, and Fancy looked over the prison-walls of the present, and
told them of fair scenes and glowing landscapes, which only her eye
could descry.

"I could have wished," said Annie Walton, after a pause, "that Charles
could have been married on the same day."

The earl smiled. "Then you see it now, beloved?" he replied.

"Nay, Francis, who could help seeing it?" asked Miss Walton. "Arrah
herself must see and know it; and yet she seems not so happy, not so
cheerful, as I should have thought such knowledge would make her, for
I am very sure that she has loved him long, and at one time I feared
for and pitied her."

"And he has loved her long too, Annie," replied the earl; "longer than
you believe, or he himself knew. This passion has been growing like a
flower in the spring; first in the bud, as pity; then showing its
first hues as deep interest and tenderness; then partly expanding,
like the timid blushing blossom, which seems to fear that even the
green leaves around should look into its glowing breast, and at last,
on a bright warm day, opening wide to the bright sun. Charles Walton,
when first I saw your own dear eyes at Bishop's Merton, felt love, or
something very like it, for Arrah Neil; and yet he would have been
strangely hurt if any had told him that he ever thought of the poor,
wild cottage girl with aught but mere compassion."

"You men are strange beings!" replied Annie Walton, with a sigh and a
smile at the same time; "and yet I am not without my fears for that
dear child. Unless the proofs of who she is can be found and clearly
made out, what will be Charles's conduct?"

"I will tell you, love," answered Lord Beverley. "Pride will
yield, Annie, to the noblest and strongest quality of your brother's
heart--the sense of honour. He has displayed his love for her too
openly to herself for Charles Walton to hesitate. Other men might do
so, and think themselves justified in sacrificing both her peace and
their own affection to the cold judgment of the world; but if a time
should come when he has to ask himself what he is to Arrah Neil, still
poor, still unknown in position, and even in name, he will feel
himself plighted to her by the words and looks of these days, and as I
have said, he will not hesitate."

"I trust it may be so," replied the lady; "and indeed I think it will,
for he is generous and kind; but yet I wish this man would return with
the papers that he undertook to bring. Here several weeks have passed,
and no tidings have been heard of him. Surely that sad hypocrite, Dry,
cannot have bribed him."

"Oh, no!" exclaimed the earl with a laugh: "all men have their own
notions of honour, dearest; and though he is loose and dissolute, a
babbler and a braggadocio, yet his courage and his fidelity are beyond
doubt. If he is not dead he will come back.--But what is that lying in
the grass?"

"Good heaven! it is a dead man!" cried Annie Walton, turning pale.

"Nay, some one asleep, rather," said her lover; "he is not like the
dead. See! his arm is folded to pillow his head. Wait here a moment,
Annie, and I will go and see."

Lord Beverley advanced to the spot where the person they had been
speaking of was stretched in the long grass, and gazed upon him for an
instant without speaking. Then, taking him by the arm, he shook him
gently to rouse him, and with a start the sleeper sat up and gazed
around.

"Good gracious me!" he cried, as he awoke, "where am I? Ah, my lord
the earl! is that you? Well, this is a lucky chance indeed!"

"Why, how came you sleeping here, Master Falgate," inquired the earl;
"and how did you get out of Hull?"

"I came here on the carriage provided by nature, my good lord,"
answered the painter; "and I was sleeping because I could not keep my
eyes open. To get out of Hull was no difficulty, but to get out of
Worcester was hard work indeed;" and he went on to relate how he had
travelled on foot from Hull to Worcester, and there, having ventured
upon some loyal speeches over a cup of ale, had found himself speedily
under charge of a guard, from whom he escaped after innumerable
obstacles (which need not be detailed to the reader), and had walked
from that city to the neighbourhood of Shrewsbury, a distance of more
than forty-seven miles, between the preceding midnight and one o'clock
of that day, when, utterly exhausted, he had lain down to rest and
fallen asleep.

"This is an old friend of mine, dear Annie," said the earl, turning to
Miss Walton, who had come slowly up when she saw that the poor painter
was not dead; "and as he showed good discretion in my case, at a very
critical moment, we must do what we can for him. So, Master Falgate,"
he continued, "the good folks of Worcester seem very rebelliously
inclined, to treat you so harshly for a few loyal words?"

"Good faith! my noble lord, the men of Worcester had little to do with
it," replied Falgate. "It was Lord Essex's soldiers that were so
barbarous to poor me. Have you not heard that he took up his quarters
at Worcester yesterday?"

"No, indeed!" said the earl, a cloud coming over his countenance at
the thought of fresh dangers and delays. "No, indeed; but come with us
into the city, Falgate. Your intelligence must be valuable; and as for
yourself; I must do what I can to place you in some good regiment of
foot."

"No, no, my lord," answered the painter, "I have done with soldiering;
I was never made for it. I do not like to paint men's faces with
blood, or to see it done. All that you can do for me is to bring me to
speak to a noble gentleman named Lord Walton, if such a thing is ever
to take place; for I have hunted him to Beverley, to York, to
Nottingham, and then, finding the Roundheads in the way, in an unlucky
day took Worcester on my road hither. So I do think I shall never see
him."

"Nothing can be more easy, my good friend," answered the earl: "Lord
Walton is here, and this lady is his sister. Come with us, and you
will see him in a few minutes."

The poor painter, who was not without his share of taste, was
delighted at his meeting with Miss Walton, whose beautiful face and
form were ready passports to his respect and admiration: nor did her
words and manner produce less effect; for, to the heart of Annie, the
least service rendered to him she loved made the doer interesting in
her eyes; and with gentle tones and kindly looks she told poor Diggory
Falgate that she had heard of him and of his discretion from Lord
Beverley, and thanked him deeply for the caution he had shown. Had
Diggory Falgate been Captain Barecolt, she would instantly have had a
full account of all that had been done to save the earl, by informing
Sir John Hotham of his situation, together with various additions and
improvements, which would have left all the honour of his deliverance
with the worthy narrator. But Falgate, to whom the presence of beauty
had something almost awful in it, did not even take to himself the
credit that was rightly his due, but walked on nearly in silence
beside the earl and his fair companion, till, entering the town of
Shrewsbury, they reached the house where Lady Margaret Langley and her
young relations had taken up their abode, near the Wellington gate of
the city.

"Is Lord Walton within?" the earl demanded, addressing one of the
servants in the old porch, and the answer was, "Yes, my lord. He is in
the small room on the left with my lady," and leading Annie on,
Falgate following close behind, Lord Beverley entered the chamber,
saying, "Here is a good friend of mine, Charles, who brings you
tidings from Hull."

Lord Walton rose from a seat between that of Lady Margaret and fair
Arrah Neil, gazing upon the painter through the dim evening light,
which found its way in at the tall lattice window, without the
slightest recollection of his face, as indeed he had never before seen
him. But the moment that Falgate beheld Arrah Neil he advanced a step
or two towards her, then stopped and hesitated, for her dress was much
altered, and then went on again, but with a timid and doubtful air.

Arrah, however, welcomed him with a kindly smile, holding out her hand
to him and saying, "Ah, Master Falgate! I am glad to see you safe.
This is the person whom I mentioned, Charles, who aided my escape from
Hull."

"He deserves all our thanks, dear Arrah," replied Charles Walton, "and
every recompense that we can give him; but did I understand right,
sir, that you have business with me?"

"Why, I had, my noble lord," answered Falgate, In a somewhat faltering
tone; "but--but, as I have found this young lady, I think it is to her
I should speak, for the business is her own. I only asked for your
lordship because--because I had heard that you were her best friend."

"Oh, yes! indeed he is," exclaimed Arrah Neil, warmly; "and whatever
is to be said had better be said to him: he can judge rightly of
things that I do not understand."

"Well, then, speak to me here, sir," said Lord Walton, retiring
towards the window. "You had better come, too, Arrah, for we may want
you in our council."

Falgate followed to the other side of the room, and Arrah Neil rose
and joined them, while Annie Walton seated herself beside her aunt,
and Lord Beverley took a seat placed on the other side of Lady
Margaret's chair, engaging her attention by an account of their walk.
Nor was it accidentally that he did so; for he knew that at that
moment, though the fine countenance of the old dame was calm, there
were many thoughts and memories, many doubts and hopes, busy in her
bosom--far too busy for her peace. In the mean time he turned his eyes
every now and then towards the window, against which appeared the fine
and dignified form of Lord Walton, the light of evening shining full
upon his lordly brow and chiselled features, and the sweet profile of
Arrah Neil, with the graceful outline of her figure, all in deep
shade. The painter seemed speaking eagerly as they listened, and from
time to time Charles Walton bent his head or asked a question; while
Arrah Neil, her face inclined towards the ground, once or twice raised
her handkerchief to her eyes, and seemed to wipe away a tear. At
length the painter drew forth from his pocket a small packet (which he
placed in Lord Walton's hands), and a slip of paper, which he held
while the young nobleman eagerly examined the contents of the packet.
They seemed various, some of them being letters and scraps of
parchment, some small trinkets. While he gazed upon them all, one
after the other, Charles Walton gave them to Arrah Neil--first,
however, drawing her arm through his own, as if to support her. Then,
taking the paper from Falgate's hand, he attentively read what was
written on it; and, turning once more to his fair companion, he kissed
her tenderly, adding a few words, the last of which sounded like "my
dear cousin."

Lady Margaret Langley caught them and started up, but instantly
resumed her seat; and Lord Walton, taking Arrah's hand in his, while
he supported her trembling steps with his arm, led her forward to the
old lady's chair. The fair girl sank upon her knees, and bent her head
before Lady Margaret, while in a low and solemn voice the young
nobleman said--

"My dear aunt, it is as you have dreamed. This sweet girl is your
child's child."

Lady Margaret said not a word, but cast her arms round Arrah Neil,
bent her brow upon her fair neck, and wept in silence; then raised her
tearful eyes towards heaven, and sobbed aloud. The old stag-hound,
too, as if he comprehended all and shared in all, approached, and with
a low whine licked his mistress's withered hand. She speedily grew
calm, however, and looking up to her nephew, without taking her arm
from Arrah's neck, she asked--

"But is it all true, Charles? Is it all proved? Is she the heiress of
my house?"

"Nothing but a few minute links in the chain of evidence are wanting,"
replied Lord Walton; "and quite enough is proved, my dear aunt, to
leave no doubt whatever on our minds, as I will show you, though other
papers indeed are wanting at present, which might be needful to
establish her rights and legitimacy in a court of law. Whatever may be
its decision, however, to us she must be ever our own dear cousin,
Arabella Tyrone."

"Ah, no, no!" cried the poor girl, starting up and clasping her hands;
"still Arrah Neil to you, Charles--to all of you, still Arrah Neil!"

Lord Walton gazed on her with a look of earnest tenderness, and a
faint smile crossed his fine lip. Perhaps he thought that, whatever
was her name for the time, she would soon be Arabella Walton; but he
would not agitate her more at that moment, and was about to proceed
with the account he was rendering to Lady Margaret, when Lord Beverley
advanced and extended his arms to Arrah Neil. She gazed upon him in
surprise; but he pressed her to his bosom warmly, eagerly, and kissed
her brow, exclaiming--

"Fear not, dear child! fear not! The same blood flows in your veins as
in mine. I am not deceived, Lady Margaret--her father was my mother's
brother. Is it not so?"

"It is," said Lady Margaret. "Ask me no questions yet, my child. He is
your cousin, and he and his have forgiven me and mine. I trust that
God has forgiven us, and you may have to do so, too, when you hear
all. Say, will you do it, Arrah?"

The fair girl fell upon her neck and kissed her; and Annie Walton then
claimed her share of tenderness, though to her the tale had been
developed more gradually, and was not heightened by surprise.

It was a strange and touching scene, however, even to one who
witnessed it, like the poor painter, without any personal interest in
the recovery of the lost lamb; and Falgate's eyes were as full of
tears as those of the rest, when he was called forward by Lord Walton
to give an account of how he had found the packet which he had brought
that day. His tale was somewhat confused, and the particulars need not
be related here, as the reader is already acquainted with them; but
when he spoke of the account given by the good hostess of the inn, and
pointed out the facts she had written down--when he detailed his visit
to the vault and the opening of the coffin--Lady Margaret Langley
sobbed aloud, exclaiming--

"My child! oh, my child! Ah! didst thou die so near me, and no
mother's hand to close thine eyes?"

When she had somewhat recovered, however, she took the tokens and the
papers which had been found in the coffin, and gazed upon them, one
after the other, with many a sad comment. There were two rings she
recollected well. One she had given herself, and a small gold circlet
for the brow. It was on her child's sixteenth birthday, she said, the
last she ever spent within her father's halls. Then she read the
certificate of marriage, and a short statement of events, in a hand
that she knew too well, wiping the bitter drops from her eyes that she
might see the words; and then she kissed the name written below, and,
drawing Arrah to her heart, embraced her long. At length she looked
round and asked--

"What is there wanting, Charles? All doubt is done away."

"To us it is, my dear aunt," answered Lord Walton; "but the law will
require proof that this dear girl, so long called Arrah Neil, is the
same as the child whom old Sergeant Neil brought from Hull to Bishop's
Merton many years ago. Those proofs, I hope, will soon be found.
Indeed, I expected that they would have been brought hither ere now.
Some strange delay has taken place, but doubtless some mere accident
has caused it; and at all events we are satisfied."

Miss Walton whispered something to her brother as he ended, to which
he replied quickly--

"You are right, Annie; I will do it. Stay with my aunt, and cheer her
till we return. There is a tale to be told to this dear girl," he
said, speaking to Lady Margaret, "which is too sad for you to tell.
Let me do it, my dear aunt--I know all the facts."

"Ay, but not the feelings, Charles," replied the old lady; "yet do so
if you will. I can tell the rest hereafter, when I am calmer, for this
will pass away. I never thought to have shed tears again. I fancied
the fountains were dried up. Tell her, Charles, tell her; but not
here."

"No; I will speak with her in the dining-hall," replied Lord Walton.
"Come, dear Arrah. It is better to perform a painful task at once; and
taking her hand he led her from the room."



                            CHAPTER XLVI.


It was a large old hall, lined with black oak. The sun was setting,
but setting in splendour; and the rich rosy light poured in through
the windows, casting a faint glow upon the old carved wreaths and
glistening panels.

"Perhaps," said Lord Walton, as they entered and he closed the door,
"I had better order them to bring lights, dear Arrah, for the sun will
be down ere my tale is told."

"Oh, no," answered Arrah Neil; "there will be light enough for so sad
a story as this must be; and we can sit in this window, where we can
see the last look of day."

Her cousin led her to one of those old-fashioned window-seats where
many of us have sat in our own youth, and took his place beside his
fair companion, gazing with her for a moment upon the evening sky. At
length, with a start, as if he had forgotten for a time the cause of
their coming, he said--

"But to my tale, Arrah. Many years ago, my poor aunt fancied herself
the happiest of women--far from courts and crowds, in the midst of
wild scenes that suited her turn of mind, with a husband who loved her
deeply, and a daughter whom they both adored. Sir Richard was,
however, a soldier of much renown, and in the wars of Ireland he
carried Lady Margaret and their child to Dublin. They there became
first acquainted with a young Irish nobleman, nearly related to that
great man--for I must call him so, though he was a rebel--the
celebrated Earl of Tyrone. Your mother was then but a child, dear
Arrah, and this nobleman a youth; but after the return of Sir Richard
and his wife to Langley Hall he came to visit his eldest sister, who
was then married to the Earl of Beverley. Near neighbourhood produced
intimacy; but the Irish noble and the English knight differed on many
a point--in mere opinion, it is true; but the effect was such, that
when the young man asked the hand of the old man's daughter, it was
refused with some discourtesy. Lady Margaret herself would not hear of
such a marriage, though rank, station, and fortune, all were his; but
she loved not to part with her daughter, and still less to part with
her for a land which she looked upon as barbarous and full of strife.
Your father, Arrah, was rash and vehement, impatient of opposition and
easily moved to every daring deed, though generous, kind, and full of
honour. He had gained your mother's love, too, and he knew it; and
when he left Langley Hall, rejected in his suit, he vowed that six
months should not pass ere she should be his bride. Not six weeks went
by when, after going out to walk, sad and lonely, as had become her
custom, she did not return. Search was made, but she could not be
found, and no certain information was to be obtained. One man had
heard a distant cry; one had seen a ship hovering on the coast hard
by, and several had met a troop of men--strangers, evidently, both
from their dress and language--wandering near Langley Hall. A few
weeks of terrible suspense passed, and then Lady Margaret received a
letter in her daughter's hand, signed 'Arabella Tyrone.' It told of
her marriage with him she loved, and that love was openly
acknowledged. There was, indeed, a vague hint given that she had not
gone willingly, nor intentionally disobeyed her parents; but no
details were afforded.

"The answer was written in anger, bidding her neither see them nor
write to them more; and Sir Richard, remembering the vow of him who
was now his son-in-law, swore that he would find a time to make him
beg for pardon on his knees. Years passed ere that bitter vow could be
exercised. Your father, for the sake of an adored wife, bent his
spirit to sue by letter for forgiveness and oblivion of the past; but
that did not satisfy the stern old man, and at length his time came.
Fresh troubles broke out in Ireland. Sir Richard Langley received a
fresh command; and against your father--then alas! preparing to take
arms against the government--he chiefly urged an expedition. That
country has always had divisions and feuds in its own bosom; and a
party of the enemies of Tyrone were easily found to join their efforts
to a small body of regular troops, and guide them through the passes
to your father's castle."

"I remember it well," said Arrah Neil, "and the terrace looking to the
mountains."

"When Sir Richard found that he whom he sought was absent with his
wife and child," continued Lord Walton, "and that there was likely to
be the most desperate resistance without fruit, he was inclined to
pause, and perhaps might have retreated; but those with whom he was
now acting overruled his will. They would not hear of delay or
hesitation, with their enemy's hold before them. He remonstrated in
vain; the attack commenced; and though he took no part therein, and
likewise restrained his men, he had the grief of seeing his daughter's
dwelling taken, pillaged, and burned to the ground before his eyes.
There, alas! perished, dear Arrah, the poor sister of my friend your
cousin; and the sight of her blackened remains, which at first he
would hardly believe were not yours, though he had before been told
were not there, turned the heart of Sir Richard Langley to more
charitable thoughts. He repented bitterly, but the cup of his
chastisement was not yet full. Your father, after having seen your
mother and yourself embark to seek refuge in Holland, was taken by a
party of the old knight's troops, demanded by the government as a
state prisoner, and in spite of every effort, remonstrance, prayer,
and petition, was tried and executed as a traitor. Pardon me, dear
Arrah, that I speak such harsh words, and do so without trying to
soften them, for I wish to be as brief as may be."

Arrah Neil wept, but made no answer, and Lord Walton went on:--

"Amongst those who most earnestly entreated for your father's life
were Sir Richard Langley and my aunt, Lady Margaret; but those were
times, Arrah, when pampered sovereignty had never known the softening
touch of adversity, and flatterers and knaves were heard when the
honest and true were scorned. Nought availed and the old knight gave
himself up to bitter remorse. Your poor mother was sought for, and
every post took a letter to some one of those lands which it was
supposed she might have visited; but no such person was found, and at
length a vague rumour reached Langley Hall that she and her child were
dead. Whence it came, what was its foundation, no one could discover;
but, as year rolled on after year and no tidings arrived, the report
was credited. The old man accused himself of murdering his daughter
and her husband; inflicted on himself strange and superstitious
punishments; and, though poor Lady Margaret, knowing that her heart
was not burdened with the deeds that had taken place, bore her sad
bereavement more tranquilly, yet she could not altogether exculpate
herself from the charge of harshness, and she shared in all his
penitence and took part in all his grief. Though remorse often goes
with long life, yet such was not the case here. Sir Richard Langley
died after four or five years of unavailing regret, and Lady Margaret
remained as you have seen her--changed, very much changed, from what
she once was, but yet with fine and noble principles at heart. She was
always of a somewhat wild and enthusiastic temper of mind, and that
disposition has deviated of late into great eccentricity of character.
The thing that she has most loved and cherished, if not the only
thing, has been that faithful dog, which was saved when young from the
burning castle of your poor father, and which on the night of your
arrival displayed such strange signs of recognition."

"Oh, I remember him well now!" replied Arrah Neil: "there was a sunny
bank below the terrace, near a small lake, and I used to lie with my
little arms round his shaggy neck, and laugh when in play he bit at
the curls of my hair. It seems but as yesterday, now that the dark
mist has been removed from my memory. But go on, Charles; I do but
stop you."

Lord Walton had fallen into a reverie; a sweet one it was, to which he
had been led by the picture that she drew of her fair self in infancy.
He thought he saw her on the flowery bank, at sport with her rough
companion, and he might have paused to gaze long at the pleasant
sight, had not her words roused him.

"I have no more to tell, dear Arrah," he replied: "the rest of your
fate and history you know better than I do; but yet there is one
point----"

He stopped and gazed upon her, as far as the fading light would let
him do so, and his heart beat more than he had thought anything on
earth could have made it do. Arrah Neil raised her eyes with a look of
inquiry to his face; but the inquiry was instantly answered by what
she saw there, and with a cheek of crimson she withdrew her glance as
soon as it was given.

"Arrah," said Lord Walton, in a low and agitated tone, "I have loved
you long--longer, I now find, than I myself have known. Ay, Arrah, I
have loved you from childhood; and lately I have thought, have hoped,
have dreamed, perhaps, that you loved me."

Arrah Neil was silent for a moment--only a moment; but she did nothing
like any one else; and once more raising her eyes to his face, she
laid her soft hand on his and asked, "Whom have I ever loved but you?"
and then the tears rolled over the long lashes and diamonded her
cheek.

Charles Walton had felt in those few brief moments as he had never
felt before--as he had never imagined that he could feel. He, the
calm, the firm, the strong-minded, had felt timid as a child before
the cottage-girl, the object of his long bounty, the partaker of his
house's charity; and he knew from that strange sensation how powerful
was the love within him; while she, though agitated, though moved,
gained from the very pure singleness of the one strong passion which
had dwelt in her breast for years, that strength to avow it which he
seemed scarcely able to command.

But that avowal, once made on her part--though he knew it, though he
could not doubt it before--at once restored him to himself again; and
casting his arms round her, he called her his own dear bride.

A few minutes passed in sweet emotions--in words so broken and
confused that they would seem nonsense if here written--in signs and
tokens of the heart which form a sacred language that ought not to be
transcribed. But then Charles Walton spoke of his sister's approaching
marriage, and urged that she whom he loved would that day put the seal
upon their fate also.

Arrah turned pale and shook her head; and when her lover, with
soothing words and kind assurances, sought to remove what he believed
to be the mere timid scruples of a young heart to so hasty a marriage,
she answered--

"No, Charles, no! It is not that. I would not so ill repay your
generous kindness; I would not so badly return my benefactor's love.
But I cannot--no, I cannot--I ought not--nay, I dare not unite my fate
with yours till all doubt is removed of who and what I am. Oh,
Charles! I love you deeply. You know it--you must have seen it; but
yet, in truth and deep sincerity, I tell you that, even if you had
condescended to wed the poor, wild peasant girl, as you knew her long
ago, Arrah Neil had too much love for Charles Walton to let him so
degrade himself. No; as your equal by birth, however much inferior in
mind and every other quality, I am yours when you will. I will not say
a word: I will not plead even for a day's delay; but there must be no
doubt--it must be all proved."

"My dearest Arrah," replied her lover, tenderly, "I have no doubt. All
is clear--all is proved to me."

"But not to the world, Charles--not to the world," she answered. "You
have yourself admitted it; and you must not, indeed you must not urge
me, if you would not make me unhappy--unhappy either to refuse aught
that you ask or to do that which I think wrong."

Still he would have persuaded, but she gazed at him reproachfully,
saying, "Oh, Charles, forbear!" and he felt her heart beat violently
beneath his arm.

"Well, then, Arrah," he said in a somewhat mournful tone, "remember,
my beloved, you have promised that whenever these papers can be
found--and I trust that will be soon--or that your birth be by any
other means clearly established, you will be mine without delay."

"The instant that you ask me," replied Arrah Neil; and shortly after
Charles Walton led her back to the arms of Lady Margaret Langley. He
left her there, hurried out to the houses where his men were lodged,
and seeking out old Major Randal, bade him to send a small party in
the direction of Bishop's Merton, with orders to inquire for Captain
Barecolt at every village on the way.

"In that part of the country," he said, anticipating the old soldier's
objections, "I find that the parliamentary party dare not show their
faces, and there can be no danger of a surprise. Lord Hertford's
people keep the Roundheads down."

"Oh! I have no objection, my good lord," answered Major Randal, drily.
"I could as ill spare Barecolt as your lordship, though he has been
too much absent from his troop of late; but if it be for his majesty's
service, I have nought to say. However, in time of need he always
proves himself a good soldier, and in time of idleness he amuses me,
which few things do now-a-days. I can hardly make him out yet, after
having known him ten years or more; for I never knew any one but
himself who was a braggart and a brave man, a liar and an honest one.
However, I will send out a party to-night, as your lordship seems
anxious."

The old officer went forth to do as he proposed; but Lord Walton did
not return at once to his dwelling, as might be supposed. On the
contrary, he remained in Major Randal's quarters, buried in deep
thought, so intense, so absorbing, that several persons came and went
without his perceiving them. For months he had struggled against the
passion in his bosom. He had struggled successfully, not to crush, but
to restrain it; and like a dammed-up torrent it had gone on increasing
in power behind the barrier that confined it, till, now that the
obstacle was removed, it rushed forth with overwhelming power. There
was an eager, a vehement, an almost apprehensive longing to call her
he loved his own, which can only be felt by a strong spirit that has
resisted its own impulses. There was a fear that it never would be--a
vague impression that some unforeseen impediment, some change, some
danger--nay, perhaps, death itself--would interpose and forbid it; and
when he roused himself with a start, he resolved to urge Arrah with
every argument to cast aside all her scruples and be his at once.

He found her seated by Lady Margaret, the old woman's hand in hers and
the stag-hound's head upon her knee, and there evidently had been
agitating but tender words passing; for Arrah's eyes were full of
tears, though there was a sweet smile upon her lip. Charles Walton was
too full of his errand for any concealment: he told Lady Margaret all,
and besought her to join her persuasions to his, which she did
joyfully. But the fair girl resisted, gently, sweetly, yet firmly,
even though he spoke of the chances of his own death. The thought
brought bright drops into her eyes again; but still she besought him
not to ask her, and looked so mournfully in his face when he seemed to
doubt her love, that he was once more forced to yield.

What was it that made her resolute against his wishes--ay, against the
dearest feelings of her own heart? There was a dread, a fancy, that if
she became Charles Walton's wife, and the proofs of her birth should
never be discovered, he might regret what he had done; that he might
wish the words unspoken, the bond of their union broken. She did not
do him full justice, but the very idea was agony; and though she knew
that, whatever he might feel in such a case, he was too generous to
let her perceive his regret, yet she saw sufficiently into her own
heart to be sure that she should doubt and fear, and that no peace, no
joy, would ever be hers, if in her marriage to him there was one cause
which could produce reasonable regret.



                            CHAPTER XLVII.


It was a bright sunny morning, when walking forth, as if for some mere
morning's excursion, the Earl of Beverley, with Lady Margaret Langley
leaning on his arm, and Lord Walton with his sister, took their way to
the old church in Shrewsbury. Arrah Neil, with old Major Randal, and
one or two of the servants, had gone a different way; for Annie
Walton, though the customs of those days were different, did not wish
in the midst of civil war, confusion, and bloodshed, to chequer sadder
scenes with the spectacle of a gay wedding. One by one they entered
the church. There was no gazing crowd to witness. All was quiet, and
even solemn; but the bright smile of the morning cheered the fair
bride's heart, and lent to imagination an augury of happy hours. The
ceremony was soon over; and Lord Walton gave his sister to his friend,
undoubtedly with joy and satisfaction; yet he could not refrain one
bitter sigh, or forbear from turning his eyes sadly and reproachfully
to Arrah Neil; but that glance was met by so tender, so imploring a
look from that fair and speaking face, that he easily read in it, that
to hold her resolution cost her as much as it cost him.

Four or five days passed after sweet Annie Walton had become the wife
of Lord Beverley, and still no news had been received from Bishop's
Merton. The king had returned some time before to Shrewsbury; many
bodies of men had flocked to his standard; reports favourable to his
cause had been rife; risings in his favour on the road to London had
been rumoured; and news had been received, that under the very walls
of Worcester Prince Rupert's fiery horse had defeated a superior party
of the enemy. Every one began to speak of a speedy advance towards the
capital, and all seemed glad of the prospect except Charles Walton. At
length the order for preparation was given, and all was bustle and
activity. Lord Walton proposed to his aunt to remain with her he loved
at Shrewsbury, but Lady Margaret answered--

"No, Charles; I will follow you as near as I can; and if I know Arrah
aright, she would not stay behind. As soon as you know the direction
of your march we will set out, and perhaps may be your harbingers to
prepare your quarters for you. I fear not, my dear boy. These
Roundheads are not anthropophagi, and will not eat up women and
children."

The royal army marched on the following morning, the 12th October; but
for ten days Arrah Neil only saw her lover once, at Bridgenorth, and
Annie Walton only once saw her husband; for, though the king's leave
was given that he should remain for a fortnight more with his bride at
Longnar, even love could not keep him from his duty, and love and duty
both taught her to follow where he went.

No news was heard of an enemy; the march of the king's force was
unopposed, and the only inconvenience that was experienced was the
frequent want of good provisions: for the false reports industriously
spread by the agents of the parliament induced the people of the
country to believe that the Cavaliers plundered wherever they went.
Day by day, however, Arrah Neil or her fair cousin received letters or
messengers from the army, and this was consolation under any
privation; till at length, towards the end of October, the small party
of ladies, with the servants that attended them, reached the village
of South Newington, a few miles from Banbury, and obtained lodging at
a large old farmhouse in the neighbourhood, close on the banks of the
little Sarbrook. They were indeed glad to find shelter, for the
weather was cold and stormy; and the good farmer received them
willingly enough, and prayed the king might prosper; for the vicinity
of a parliamentary garrison in Banbury had taught the peasantry,
though somewhat late in the day, that gross tyranny can be exercised
in the name of liberty, and bitter injustice practised by those who
have ever equity on their lips. It was about three in the afternoon
when they reached the farm-house, and while hasty preparations were
being made for their accommodation, which the extent of the building
rendered not very difficult, Arrah Neil stood at the window gazing out
upon the fields, the sky, and the stream. Heavy leaden clouds hung
overhead, and shut out the blue of heaven and the beams of the sun; a
dull grey shower was pouring down upon the earth, dimming the bright
colouring of the autumnal foliage; the stream ran turbid, with a sad
and solemn murmur, and the hoarse wind howled as it passed the
casement. Her thoughts were as gloomy as the scene, and something like
the dark shadow which used formerly to come over her seemed to rest
upon her spirit. The old stag-hound stalked up and put his muzzle in
her hand, but she noticed him not; the servants came and went, but she
saw them not; Lady Margaret spoke, but her ears did not catch the
sounds. At length Lady Beverley pronounced her name, and Arrah Neil
started, for the tones were like those of Lord Walton; and she was
turning round to reply when her eye caught sight of two Cavaliers
riding into the court. A look of joy instantly spread over her face,
and she exclaimed--

"Oh Annie! dear Annie! there is Captain Barecolt, and Charles will be
happy now!"

As soon as he could spring from his horse and find his way up the
stairs, Captain Barecolt was in the room. He was very pale and very
thin, and Annie Walton thought for a moment that he must be the bearer
of evil tidings, but his well-satisfied smile soon set her fears at
rest.

"What news? what news, sir?" exclaimed Lady Margaret, who had shared
the apprehensions of her niece.

"None but what is good, madam," replied the captain. "Lord Walton has
honoured me by making me his messenger from Edgecot, where he is now
with his majesty. No enemy is near; Banbury is about to be besieged,
and consequently cavalry is out of fashion; so we shall have three or
four days' repose, for they will doubtless hold out that time for
their honour; and, to say truth, I myself shall not be sorry for a
little rest, having been let blood pretty sharply since I stood last
in this fair presence. I can bear bleeding, methinks, as well as most
men, being somewhat accustomed to the process; but this Master Dry, of
Longsoaken, was an unskilful leech, and took so much that there was
very little left, and I was obliged to lie in bed at Chippenham for
ten days."

"But you are wet, Captain Barecolt, and fatigued," said Lady Beverley:
"will you take some refreshment?"

"Not before I have done my errand, bright lady," replied the officer;
"which is simply to tell you that my Lord Walton and your noble lord
will be here with all speed, and to give this packet to another fair
lady, in whose cause I have laboured and suffered successfully;" and
approaching Arrah Neil, who had been listening with eager attention to
every word that fell from his lips, he kissed her hand and gave her
her lover's letter.

She took and read it eagerly, while her heart beat fast and her brain
almost turned giddy with joy.


MY OWN BELOVED (it ran),--Barecolt joined me last night, delayed by
accidents which he will tell you. He brings with him all the papers
which were plundered from the cottage of poor old Neil; and they,
beyond all question, together with the others we possess, establish
your birth and your rights. I enclose them for your comfort. Show them
to Lady Margaret; and, dearest Arrah, remember the promise that you
made to me. We halt here for three days. I will be with you in an
hour, not to part with you again till you are the bride of him who
loves you more than life.

                                   CHARLES WALTON.


Arrah paused for a moment or two and leaned upon the table. Her hand
that held the letter shook, and her cheek glowed; but there was light
in her beautiful eyes and a smile upon her sweet lip. Then calmly
gliding forward to Lady Margaret, she gave her the papers which her
lover's letter had contained, saying, "Now indeed I am beyond all
doubt your child."

Then turning to her cousin she placed Charles Walton's letter in her
hand, gazing on her face while she read it, with a look calm, but full
of many thoughts and feelings. Lady Beverley, when she had done, cast
her arm round her, whispering, "My dear Arrah, now I think he has a
right to expect----"

"Everything that love and gratitude can prompt," replied her fair
companion. "I would not thwart him even in a thought, Annie. To you,
sir," she continued, speaking aloud, and addressing Captain Barecolt,
"I owe an infinite debt, which I must trust to those who can acquit it
better to acknowledge fully and discharge. But indeed, Annie, he needs
tendance and refreshment. See, Lady Margaret is moved; will you order
him what is needful?"

"By your permission, fair ladies, I will even take care of myself,"
answered the redoubtable captain: "it is a trade I am accustomed to, I
can assure you; and wherever bread and bacon, ale and wine, are to be
found, I am quite equal to find them out."

"Pray do, sir; pray do," said Lady Beverley, and Captain Barecolt left
them to themselves.

The moments that intervened before the arrival of those who were
expected were full of agitation. The papers which Barecolt had
recovered from the house of Dry, of Longsoaken, were carefully
examined, and the full proofs of Arrah's birth were found beyond all
doubt. Amongst the rest were several letters of Lady Margaret and her
daughter, and a letter from the husband of the latter to his unhappy
wife on the day preceding his execution. Besides these were several
documents, showing that the small sum which had been annually paid to
Sergeant Nell proceeded from a cousin of the poor girl's father, who
had embraced the ecclesiastical profession, and was the abbot of a
monastery on the Continent. He, O'Donnell, and old Neil himself; were
the only persons entrusted with the secret of Arrah's birth; but it
appeared from one of the letters of a late date that the Abbé Tyrone
was still living; so that, if any further testimony had been required,
he could have furnished it. Beneath these papers was a parchment,
freshly written, signed and sealed by the king, and countersigned by
the proper officers, reversing the attainder of poor Arrah's father,
and declaring the confiscated estates restored. A momentary gleam of
light beamed forth upon her dark fate--how soon to be eclipsed again!

Some half-hour was thus consumed, but then the thoughts of all turned
happily to the expected arrival of those they loved. Ere an hour after
Captain Barecolt's arrival had passed, Arrah Neil placed herself once
more at the window to watch for their coming. She had not gazed long
through the decreasing light when her ear caught the sound of horses'
feet, and in a moment after Charles Walton and the earl, followed
by a few servants, rode up at a quick pace. They were accompanied,
however, by another gentleman in a black cassock, and a cloak to keep
him from the rain, and the poor girl's heart fluttered wildly at the
sight. But, still giving way to the impulse, she only paused to
exclaim--"Here they are, dear Annie!" and running down to the door,
was soon in Charles Walton's arms.

"Dear one! dear one!" said the young nobleman as he pressed her to his
heart, reading her deep love in her eyes; "I have come to put you to a
trial, my Arrah, and see whether you will keep your promise frankly."

"To the letter, and with pleasure, Charles," replied Arrah Neil, in a
low murmur that reached no ear but his.

"To-night?" asked Lord Walton. "The king's chaplain must return. All
forms are already cleared away."

"This very hour, if you desire it," answered she whom he loved; "your
lightest wish is my law, henceforth till death."

Charles Walton could not reply, but taking her hand he led her to the
chaplain, and then conducted him under her guidance to the room above.

We need not pause upon explanations. All was soon arranged and
determined. After a brief and sober meal, and with none but one or two
of the servants and Captain Barecolt present, the party formed a
circle round and the chaplain opened the book. In the silence that
succeeded, the howling of the wind and the pattering of the rain were
heard, and Arrah Neil turned an anxious glance towards the casement;
for, though her bosom was full of deep and strong emotions, there was
something in the sound that seemed to connect itself with them.
Charles Walton saw but her, thought of her alone; and after a brief
pause the chaplain went on. Word by word he read the whole service
through; the vow was plighted, the ring was on the finger; and, with
joy he had feared that he might never know, Charles Walton held Arrah
Neil to his bosom as his wife.


                        *    *    *    *    *


Silence had spread over the world for some hours. It was between two
and three in the morning, and as dark as the grave, when first a
horse's foot was heard coming at full speed, and then came loud
knocking at the door. All those who slept roused themselves, and in a
few minutes there were steps upon the stairs. The voice of Captain
Barecolt was then heard speaking to the Earl of Beverley.

"The king has sent, my lord," he said, "to order us to draw to a
rendezvous on the top of Edgehill, near Kineton. Lord Essex is in
force in the valley below, and it is resolved to give him battle. We
will cut him to mince-meat."

"Tell Lord Walton," said the voice of the earl--"knock at the opposite
door;" but ere Captain Barecolt could follow these directions the
young lord came out partly dressed.

"See that the horses be fed instantly, Barecolt," said Charles Walton,
"and have them saddled. I will join you in a few minutes," and he
retired. His bride rose and cast her arms around him in silence.

"Nay, Arrah, dear Arrah! I must go where my king commands," he said,
struggling against the feelings of his own heart.

"I know it, Charles," she answered, in a far calmer tone than he had
expected; "I would not keep you for aught on earth. But let me go with
you, my dear husband. I shall have no fear; I will stay upon some hill
as I did once before, and witness my hero fighting for his king."

"Impossible, impossible, dear girl?" he replied; "this is a very
different affair. To-night I trust, in God's mercy, to return and tell
you that we have won the victory and regained our monarch's throne. It
must be so indeed, my beloved; you know not what you ask."

Arrah paused in sad and silent thought for a moment, and then said,
"Well, let me be with you to the last before you go;" and dressing
herself hastily she followed him down. Lady Beverley was soon by her
side; few words were spoken; all was quick preparation; and ere four
o'clock, with pale, anxious faces, those two fair girls took one more
embrace, and saw their husbands ride away into the darkness. It had
ceased raining, but it was bitter cold, and the wind blew sharply in;
yet they gazed forth as long as even fancy could show the receding
forms, and then, linked arm in arm, they retired to Lady Beverley's
room to pray, each asking her own heart the question she did not dare
to utter aloud, "Who will return? who rest upon the field?" There was
a faint streak of grey in the sky when they parted, and Annie
counselled her fair cousin to lie down and try to sleep.



                           CHAPTER XLVIII.


The morning of Sunday, the 21st of October, broke dull and cold; the
grey clouds swept hurriedly over the sky, like charging squadrons, and
the wind whistled through the branches of a solitary clump of old
beeches, which marked the highest point of the sharp rise called
Edgehill. From the brow might be seen a wide open slope, extending
down nearly to the little town of Keinton, or Kineton, with some flat
meadows at the bottom, having a number of hedges and enclosures on the
left as one looked from the hill. On the other side all was at that
time open, and the fair undulations of Warwickshire might be seen
beyond, the brown woods clothed in a light mist. It was a peaceful and
pleasant scene in the grey morning, notwithstanding the coldness and
dulness of the day; and very soon after dawn the pale blue smoke began
to rise from the early chimneys of the little town, rising slow till
it was caught by the wind from the hill, and then hurrying away with a
few light rolls and losing itself in air.

Shortly after, a drum was heard to beat below, and then came the blast
of a trumpet, and soon troops might be descried forming slowly and
quietly in the plain, as if about to commence a safe and easy march.
Horse and foot took their places in long line, and here and there
officers and camp-followers were seen walking carelessly about, while
at the other spots some more rigid disciplinarians might be observed
putting their men into better order, and galloping hither and thither
in all the bustle of command.

Suddenly, however, some confusion was observed in one part of the
plain, where a group of gentlemen on horseback had been visible for
some time; and two persons detached themselves from the rest, and rode
up at full speed towards the brow of the hill, towards which all eyes
were now turned. What saw they there which caused such apparent
surprise? It was a small party of horse, not more than twenty in
number, which had just moved up from the other side, and now halted,
gazing into the valley. There were scarfs, and plumes, and glittering
arms amongst them, betokening no peaceful occupation; and after a
moment's pause, a trumpeter mounted on a grey horse put his instrument
to his lips, and blew a long, loud blast. The next moment fresh heads
appeared above the hedge, and troop after troop rode forward, and in
fair array took up a position at the summit.

All was changed on the plain below in a moment; activity and temporary
confusion succeeded the quiet regularity which before had been
observable. The two horsemen who had been detached to the group in
front were hurriedly recalled; musketeers were seen filing off to the
left; the cavalry was collected on the wings; the foot began to form
line in the centre; and the party which had remained a little in
advance were discovered moving slowly along quite across the valley,
while from time to time a horseman dashed away from it, and seemed to
convey orders to this or that regiment in different parts of the
field.

Essex was now first aware of the presence of an enemy, and easily
divined that he could march no farther without fighting; but it is
more with those above that we have to do. Soon after the small body of
Cavaliers on the hill had been discovered by the Roundhead army, up
came at headlong speed, followed by some eight or ten gentlemen who
could pace with him, a fiery-looking youth, with his beaver up and his
eye lightening with eager impetuosity. He seemed barely one-and-twenty
years of age; but there was on his brow the look of habitual command;
and in the quick roll of his eye over the parliamentary army, the
sudden pause it made here and there, and then its rapid turn towards
another point, one might see how closely he scanned the forces of the
enemy--how keenly he observed all that seemed worthy of attention.

"They see us, your highness," said one of the gentlemen who had
arrived before him. "They were actually commencing their march when we
appeared."

"They would not have marched far, my lord," replied Prince Rupert;
"but 'tis as well as it is. There are more of them than I thought, but
we must make valour supply numbers. I heard that they had left two
regiments behind at Stratford."

"There are, sir, two of infantry and one of cavalry," replied Lord
Walton; "but that seems to me the best of all reasons for giving
battle as soon as possible."

The very best, answered the prince, with a smile. "Victory is more
needful to us than food, and of that we have had no great plenty. But,
by my life, there is not a regiment of foot within sight! The foot are
sad encumbrances. Would that these times were like the days of old,
when every gentleman fought on horseback! We are fallen upon vulgar
days."

"I see the head of a regiment amongst those distant hedges," said the
Earl of Beverley; "but our quarters were very much scattered last
night."

"And some noble persons had fair young wives to visit, my good lord,"
replied the prince, bowing his head, with a smile.

"True," rejoined the earl; "but yet your highness sees they are not
the last in the field; as how should they be, when they have such
treasures to defend--such eyes for witnesses?"

The reply suited the prince well; and after some more gay conversation
he dismounted from his horse, and seated himself under one of the
beech-trees, watching attentively every movement of the enemy, and
from time to time pointing out to those around him the measures taken
by Lord Essex for defence.

"See!" he said; "he is filling those hedges with musketeers. Aston and
his dragoons must clear them. I will not break my teeth upon such
stones. He is forming a powerful reserve there, I suppose, under
Ramsay or the Earl of Bedford, and he has got all his foot in the
centre. Who is that on their left, I wonder? Well, I shall soon know,
for I trust it will not be long before I see him closer. Would to
heaven these tardy foot would come! We are giving him full time for
every arrangement he could desire and you may be sure he will not stir
from amongst those hedges till we dislodge him."

But the impatient prince had long to wait, for ten o'clock was near at
hand ere the first regiment of royal artillery was on the ground. From
that time, indeed, every quarter of an hour brought up some fresh
body; but even then the men had marched far and needed some
refreshment. All that could be given them was a brief space of repose
and some cold water, for provisions were not to be obtained. The
soldiery, however, were full of ardour, and many a gay jest and gibe
passed amongst those who were never destined to quit that plain.

Amongst other events that have been noticed by historians is the fact
that the king's guard, composed entirely of gentlemen volunteers,
having heard as they followed the monarch some slight scoffs at their
peculiar post near his person, besought him to dispense with their
close attendance that day, and obtained permission to charge with the
cavalry of Prince Rupert on the right. On the left a smaller body of
horse, commanded by Commissary-General Wilmot, and a regiment of
dragoons under Sir Arthur Aston, had the task of assailing the right
of the parliamentary army, protected as it was by enclosures lined
with musketeers; and to this service the small corps of the Earl of
Beverley was also assigned. Lord Walton fought upon the right under
the prince; and but one regiment of cavalry, led by Sir John Byron,
was kept back as a reserve.

One o'clock had passed, when at length, after a short consultation
with the Earl of Lindsay, the king commanded his forces to march
slowly down the hill towards Kineton. The distance was considerable;
and before the ground was reached on which it was thought advisable to
begin the battle, the day had so far advanced that some old and
experienced officers suggested a delay till the following morning. But
sufficient arguments were not wanting to show that Essex must gain and
his sovereign lose by such a course. The troops, too, were eager to
engage; and a very general belief prevailed that few of the
parliamentary regiments would really be brought to fight against their
king. In the confusion of all accounts, it is hardly to be discovered
how the battle really commenced; but certain it is that Prince Rupert
burst into fury at the very thought of delay, and that his force of
cavalry first commenced the fight by charging the left of the enemy.
As he was waiting to give the word, with all his blood on fire at the
thought of the approaching strife, he remarked Lord Walton twice turn
round and gaze towards the hill in the rear, and he asked, in a sharp
tone. "What look you for, my lord? Soldiers ever should look forward."

Charles Walton's brow became as dark as night, and it cost him a
moment's thought ere he could reply with calmness--

"I looked, sir, for one I thought I saw upon the hill as we moved
down; and as to the rest, Rupert of Bavaria has never been more
forward on the field, nor ever will be, than Charles Walton. But there
is other matter to attend to now. See you that regiment of horse
advancing to the charge?"

The prince looked round, and beheld a considerable body of the enemy
coming on at a quick pace, pistol in hand. He raised his sword above
his head, about to speak the word; but at that moment the opposite
party discharged their shot into the ground, and galloping on wheeled
their horses into line with the Cavaliers. A buzz ran through the
ranks of "Fortescue! Fortescue!" "He was forced to join the
Roundheads;" "Many more are in the like case;" and at the same moment
the cry of "Charge!" was heard; and, hurled like a thunderbolt against
the mass of the enemy's cavalry on the left, with the prince at their
head, the gallant force of Cavaliers rushed on. A fire, innocuous from
the terror and confusion with which it was directed, was opened upon
their advancing line; but ere swords crossed, the parliamentary
cavalry of the left wing, with the exception of one small body, turned
the rein and fled. The Cavaliers thundered on the flank and rear; men
and horses rolled over together, and foremost in the fight, wherever a
show of resistance was made, was the bridegroom of a day.

"Lightning and devils!" cried Captain Barecolt, who followed hard upon
his steps. "See what love will make a man do! He has distanced the
prince by six horse-lengths, and he will have that standard in a
minute. Come, my lord, let a man have his share."

On, on they rushed, pursuers and pursued, along the plain, over the
hill; down went steel jack, and buff coat, and iron morion. Some
turned at last to strike one stroke for life, but still the fiery
spurs of Rupert and of Walton were behind them, and Edgehill field was
far away when the prince himself cried--

"Halt! Sound to the standard! Stay, Walton, stay you have outstripped
me indeed."

Lord Walton drew his rein, but he raised not his visor,[1] for he felt
that he was pale.


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

[Footnote 1: We do not always remember that in the reign of Charles I.
the cavalry were in general defended by casques with moveable visors.
The dragoons, indeed, had usually an open helmet.]

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


"Methinks we are too far from the field, your highness," he replied.
"I will ride back with speed, for my men have followed close behind
me, while you rally the rest and bring them up. I fear some mischance,
for the king is without guards."

"Go, go!" said the prince, instantly perceiving the error that had
been committed; "I will come after with all speed. Sound trumpet!
Sound trumpet! Sound to the standard!"

"Call them back, Barecolt, and follow!" exclaimed Lord Walton. "Old
Randal is as mad as any of us. Bring him back quick. I fear we have
spoiled the best day's deeds England has seen for long;" and gathering
together what men he could, he spurred headlong back towards the
field. Captain Barecolt followed on his steps, and he thought he saw
the young lord waver somewhat in the saddle; a stream of blood, too,
was trickling down his scarf from his right shoulder, and spurring on
his horse to Charles Walton's side, he said, "You are wounded, sir;
you are badly wounded! Let me lead you to----"

But at that moment the field of battle came again before their eyes,
and Lord Walton exclaimed--

"Is this a time to talk of wounds? Look there!"

The aspect of the scene had indeed greatly changed from what it had
been some half-an-hour before, when Wilmot and Aston on the left, and
Rupert on the right, were driving the Roundhead cavalry before them.
Firm in his position stood the Earl of Essex with his foot. His
reserve of horse had come down and were charging the royal infantry.
The right wing, the left, and the reserve of Charles's horse were far
away, pursuing the flying foe; and the monarch himself with his two
sons, only guarded by a small force of mounted Cavaliers, who had been
too wise and loyal to follow the rash example set them by the prince
appeared nearly surrounded by the parliamentary cavalry under Sir
William Balfour.

As Lord Walton reappeared upon the field, the royal standard wavered
and fell, and in the midst of the fierce fire that rolled along the
front of the enemy's line, he charged upon the flank of Balfour's
horse to rescue his sovereign from the peril he was in. As they
galloped up, however, the standard rose again, and Essex's reserve
began slowly to retire upon the infantry; but still the young nobleman
urged on his little troop upon the retreating force; some fifty
gentlemen detached themselves from the small body that surrounded the
monarch, and charging in front, and cutting their way clear through,
Charles Walton and Francis of Beverley met in the midst of the
_mêlée_.

"How goes it, Charles?" said the earl, with a glad voice. "If the
prince would but return we would have a glorious victory!"

"He is coming quickly," replied Lord Walton. "Rally your force with
mine, Beverley, for one more charge;" and in another minute they were
again in the midst of the retreating rebels.

At the same moments in sad confusion and disarray, came back Prince
Rupert's Cavaliers. Discipline, and order were lost amongst them.
Officers were without men, and men without officers. Some few joined
the troops of Lord Beverley and Lord Walton.

But night was falling. Sir William Balfour led his horse in between
the regiments of infantry steadily and skilfully, then turned to face
the enemy; and the earl, finding that nothing could be effected
without a larger force, retreated and galloped up to Prince Rupert,
who now stood near the king, to urge one decisive charge upon the
centre of the parliamentary line. The prince received him coldly,
however--perhaps from a consciousness that he himself had done amiss;
and some one suggested that the king should leave the field, pointing
out how firmly Lord Essex kept his ground.

"For shame! for shame!" cried the earl. "The victory might still be
ours, but certainly it is not his; and as long as his majesty remains,
it cannot be so. The greater part of our foot is unbroken; our horse
is victorious; and, whoever quits the field, I will remain upon it,
dead or alive."

"And I too, most certainly, my lord," said Charles. "I will never do
so unkingly an act as to forsake them who have forsaken all to serve
me. There is no look of victory on my Lord of Essex's side. We keep
the field. Let them advance to attack us if they dare. Take measures
to withdraw those cannon from that little mound; restore what order
may be, for night is falling fast; and set a sure guard, that we be
not surprised."

For some time the discharge of musketry, which was still going on,
continued upon both sides; but gradually, as the darkness increased,
it slackened, revived, slackened again, fell into dropping shots, and
then fires began to appear along the line of either army, while all
the confusion and disarray which ever succeeds a drawn battle, where
the combatants are only parted by the night, took place on either
part. Hours were spent in giving some sort of order to the royalist
forces; officers sought their men, soldiers looked for their officers,
rumours of every kind were spread, and many accidents and
misadventures happened, which cannot here be told.

But there was one sad subject of thought that occupied many a
mind--"Who had fallen? Who remained wounded on the field?" It was
impossible to discover; for the confusion was so great that no one
knew where the other was to be found. Lord Beverley, however, had seen
Charles Walton almost to the latest moment of the strife, and in
sending off a messenger to Newington, to inform his fair bride of his
own safety, he ventured to add that her brother also had escaped the
slaughter of the day. About midnight, however, as he was lying by a
fire, he heard a step approach, and looking up he saw Barecolt beside
him.

The soldier's eyes gazed round the group, which lay in the glare, and
before the earl could speak he said--

"So he is not here?"

"Do you mean Lord Walton?" asked the earl.

"Ay, to be sure, my lord," replied Barecolt. "I have been seeking you
these two hours, and now we had better go and seek him, for depend
upon it he is on the field. He was badly wounded with a shot in the
side in that first charge, and he got another in the last; but perhaps
he is not dead yet. The night is cold, and that staunches blood."

"We have no lights," said the earl, a cold foreboding coming over his
heart. "Stay--the moon will be up in half-an-hour. Where saw you him
last?"

"Within half musket-shot of the second regiment on the right,"
answered Barecolt: "we had better wait, too, till the moon rises. She
will give some light, if she do not even chase the clouds; and yet I
would fain go soon, for I have strange doubts."

"Of what?" asked the earl.

"Nay, I do not well know," replied the soldier; "but I know one
thing--that sweet lady of his was not so far from the field as he
wished and others thought. Just as we were moving down, I saw her or
her ghost, and a countryman with his hand upon her horse's bridle, as
if leading him over the rough ground on the left. Her lord saw her,
too, or I am mistaken, for he more than once turned to look, and there
were words between him and the prince about it."

The earl put his hand to his brow, in that sort of painful dread
which, without taking any definite form, hangs like a dark cloud over
the whole range of destiny.

"You saw her near the field?" he said; "you saw her here? When was
this?"

"Why, I told you, my good lord--just as we were moving down, about one
of the clock," answered Captain Barecolt; "but there is a little
cottage, where a shepherd lives, up along the edge of the hill.
Perhaps she has taken refuge there; or, it may be, she has gone back."

"God grant it!" said the earl; "I will send up to the cottage to see
if she be there."

Barecolt, however, undertook the task himself, saying that in such a
piercing night the walk would warm him. But he found the cottage
deserted, and though there was sufficient light to guide him back to
the spot where the Earl of Beverley lay, the moon did not show herself
all night, the darkness remained as profound as ever, neither lantern
nor torch could be procured, and it was perfectly hopeless to attempt
a search under such circumstances. Weary hour by hour passed away
beside the fire, till it died away for want of fuel; but still,
notwithstanding all the fatigue that they had endured, Lord Beverley
and his companion sat wakeful till the dawn of morning, and during
their conversation Barecolt showed a depth of feeling and an interest
in the fate of Charles Walton and Arrah Neil which raised him much in
the opinion of the earl. As soon as the first grey streaks announced
the coming day, Lord Beverley was on horseback with his troop; but
there before him stood the parliamentary army, reinforced, rather than
diminished, since the night before. It was impossible to approach the
part of the field where Lord Walton had last been seen except with a
large force; but four pieces of the enemy's artillery were seen,
considerably in advance of their line in that direction; and at the
suggestion of Barecolt the earl asked and obtained leave to make a
charge with his own troop and that of Major Randal, to endeavour to
capture some of the cannon. This, as is well known, was effected early
in the morning, without much loss or opposition; but the chief object
of the earl, the discovering of his friend's body, could not be
accomplished.

The rest of the events of that day are familiar to every one. The
greater part of the morning was spent in consultations on the royalist
part, and in fruitless endeavours to induce the officers to make one
great effort against the enemy, till, towards evening, both armies
began to retire, the first movement of retreat being made by the
parliament forces, which were followed for a considerable distance by
the royalist cavalry.

For ten miles the Earl of Beverley joined in the pursuit, but then
obtained leave to return to the field, and his sad search began.

It was long protracted, and night was again beginning to fall when a
low fierce growl, as he walked along one of the hedges on the right,
called his attention to a pit which had been dug at the foot of a
small oak tree. A little path ran down amongst some bushes, and
hurrying along it, with Barecolt and several of his men, he reached
the bottom.

There they found two or three wounded soldiers, who had dragged
themselves thither to die; but in the midst was the saddest sight of
all. Prone upon the ground, with the head uncovered, lay the body of
Charles Walton; but that head was pillowed on the arm of poor Arrah
Neil. Her lips seemed to have been pressed upon his, for her fair face
had fallen forward upon his neck, and her bosom rested on his steel
cuirass, while her left arm hung over him, the hand half clasping his
right. Beside them, gazing down upon the poor girl, with drooping ears
and tail, stood the gaunt stag-hound, and the faithful beast turned
fiercely upon the first man who approached. He recognised the earl,
however, and took a step or two forward towards him with a faint howl,
and then returned and gazed again on her with whom he had sported in
her childhood.

Lord Beverley knelt down and gently took her hand: it was cold as ice;
but there was a keen frost, and he touched her cheek, removing the
rich ringlets of her hair, which had fallen over her face. There was
some warmth left; and raising her in his arms he directed her to be
carried into the little town of Kineton, now in possession of the
royalist cavalry, with the body of her husband.

But Arrah never spoke again. It was evident that she had come in time
to receive the last breath of him she loved, for the fingers of Lord
Walton's left hand were found tightly closed upon her garments; but
how she had found him, or when, could not be discovered. All that was
ever learned was, that one of the ploughmen of the farm at Newington
had guided her to Edgehill, and that from the summit she had witnessed
the battle below; but at night, as she would not return, the man had
left her, and all the rest was darkness. Every effort was made to
recal her to herself, but all was in vain; and in about two hours
after she had been removed to Kineton, the last feeble spark of life
that was left went out; and she was buried in the same grave with her
husband, in less than a week from her marriage-day.

Such was the fate of one of the fairest and the gentlest of human
beings. It would be a sad fact, that virtue and good conduct, that the
highest qualities of the mind and the heart, cannot always command
success or ensure happiness but that we have the grand assurance, both
in God's Word and in God's goodness, that there is a place where there
is compensation and reward. That the very brightest and the very best
of human efforts often do not obtain their recompense here, has been
admitted by the most sceptical of philosophers as a strong evidence of
a future state. Our hopes and expectations are founded on a higher and
better basis, and we are permitted to see, even in the sorrows of the
good, the trial of that faith which is the assurance of immortality.

We might well close our history here, and close it in sadness; but, as
there are almost always some mitigating circumstances in the course of
disastrous events, we may be allowed to take off a little from the
tragic character of the conclusion of this tale by speaking of the
after history of other persons who have figured in the scene; and the
reader is always anxious more or less to hear the ultimate fate of
those in whom he has taken an interest.

To speak of the more important personages, then:--In the first place,
it may well be supposed that the Earl of Beverley mourned sincerely
for his friend, and his grief was somewhat aggravated by the powers of
imagination; for the fact that his persuasions had been the immediate
cause of Lord Walton joining the royal standard connected itself
closely with the dream which he had had in prison, and brought a
shadow over him whenever the events of the day gave him time for
thought. He himself went safely through all the scenes of the civil
war, remaining uninjured, except from a slight wound which he received
at Long Marston Moor. His fair lady followed him as closely as was
possible throughout the whole of those eventful times, and she was as
happy as unchanging love and affection could make her amidst the
disasters of her country and the overthrow of the royal house to which
she was attached. The fall of her brother and the death of his gentle
bride affected Annie Walton deeply, and it was long ere she regained
the original cheerfulness of her character; but that cheerfulness
depended as much upon principle as upon mood, and instead of
encouraging grief, she made every effort to regain her serenity.

After the total ruin of the Cavalier party, the earl and his wife
retired to France, and continued to live there in almost total
seclusion till the restoration of the house of Stuart brought them
back to their native land, where, though they met with the neglect
which, in those days, as it is in all, was too frequently the reward
of good services, they bore it with perfect indifference, happy in
mutual affection, and requiring nothing else to complete their
felicity.

A short time before they quitted England, Lady Margaret Langley had
left the troublous scene in which they were still moving, for the
repose of that quiet mansion which she had long looked to only as a
place of rest. But there is still one personage of whose after history
we must say a few words. Captain Deciduous Barecolt continued to serve
the king as long as any services could be available, and in no point
or particular did he derogate from his high-established character. He
fought as well, he drank as deeply, he lied as vigorously as we have
seen him do in the past narrative; and, though in the succeeding wars
he got into a thousand scrapes, in which it required all the genius of
a Barecolt to extricate his neck from the halter or his throat from
the knife, he contrived, with marvellous ingenuity, to find his way
out of circumstances which would have overwhelmed any common man. Nor
was he absent from Worcester field; on the contrary, some have
asserted that he was taken prisoner on that occasion, and contrived to
deceive the keenness of Cromwell himself. Certain it is, that after
the restoration of Charles II. Barecolt returned to England, presented
himself at Bishop's Merton, put in a claim to the property of Mr. Dry,
of Longsoaken, as the direct heir of old Nicholas Cobalter, and having
proved that the will under which Mrs. Cobalter had possessed his
uncle's property was a forgery, he established such a debt against the
estate of Mr. Dry as speedily rendered him the master of Longsoaken.
There he continued to reside with an elderly man named Falgate, who
played the character, partly of dependant, partly of attached friend,
till he had well-nigh reached the age of eighty years, when, with a
form somewhat bowed, a face somewhat white, and a nose which had
gradually turned from red to blue, Colonel Barecolt, of Longsoaken,
sank quietly into the grave, his last words being, "The pottle-pot's
empty, Diggory."



                               THE END.



          WOODFALL AND KINDER, PRINTERS, LONG ACRE, LONDON.





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