Home
  By Author [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Title [ A  B  C  D  E  F  G  H  I  J  K  L  M  N  O  P  Q  R  S  T  U  V  W  X  Y  Z |  Other Symbols ]
  By Language
all Classics books content using ISYS

Download this book: [ ASCII | HTML | PDF ]

Look for this book on Amazon


We have new books nearly every day.
If you would like a news letter once a week or once a month
fill out this form and we will give you a summary of the books for that week or month by email.

Title: Henry Smeaton; A Jacobite Story of the Reign of George the First.
Author: James, G. P. R. (George Payne Rainsford)
Language: English
As this book started as an ASCII text book there are no pictures available.
Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

*** Start of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Henry Smeaton; A Jacobite Story of the Reign of George the First." ***

This book is indexed by ISYS Web Indexing system to allow the reader find any word or number within the document.



Google Books (the Bavarian State Library)



Transcriber's Notes:
   1. Page scan source: Google Books
      https://books.google.com/books?id=YPdLAAAAcAAJ
      (the Bavarian State Library)
   2. The diphthong oe is represented by [oe].



HENRY SMEATON.



Paris.--Printed by E. Brière, rue Sainte-Anne, 55.



HENRY SMEATON;


A JACOBITE STORY


OF


THE REIGN OF GEORGE THE FIRST.


BY G. P. R. JAMES.


AUTHOR OF "THE FORGERY," "THE WOODMAN," "THE OLD OAK CHEST,"


ETC., ETC.


PARIS,
A. AND W. GALIGNANI AND CO.,       BAUDRY'S EUROPEAN LIBRARY,
RUE VIVIENNE, N° 18.               QUAI MALAQUAIS, N° 3.
1851.



HENRY SMEATON;

A JACOBITE STORY OF THE REIGN OF GEORGE THE FIRST.


BY G. P. R. JAMES.



CHAPTER I.

By the side of the large piece of water in the middle of St. James's
Square--

"There is no large piece of water in St. James's Square. It is a very
small one."

But there was at the time I speak of, namely, the year 1715; and if
you will allow me to go on, you shall hear all about it.

By the side of the large piece of water in St. James's Square, looking
at the playing of the fountain, (which was afterwards congealed into a
great ugly statue,) and watching the amusements of a gay boy and girl,
who had come out of one of the houses--I think it was Lord Bathurst's,
and were rowing about in the pleasure-boat on the water, stood a man
of some six or seven and twenty years of age, dressed in a garb which
did not very well indicate his profession, although the distinctions
of costume were in those days somewhat closely attended to. His
garments, of a sober colour, were very plain, but very good. Especial
care seemed to have been taken to avoid every thing in the least
degree singular, or which could attract attention; and it was more
easy to say what the wearer was not, than what he was. He was not a
Presbyterian minister, although the cut and colouring of his clothing
might have led one to believe that he was so; for he wore a sword. The
same mark showed that he was not an artisan, but did not so precisely
prove that he was not a trader; for more than one shop-keeper in those
days assumed the distinctive mark of a higher class when he got from
behind his counter and went into a part of the town where he was not
known. Yet, had he been one of this butterfly tribe, the rest of his
apparel would have seemed more in accordance with his assumed rank.

He was not a courtier; for where was the gold, and the lace, and the
embroidery? He was not a physician; for there was no red roquelaure,
no gold-headed cane; and who could pretend to call himself doctor
without such appendages?

He seemed to have been riding, too; for he had large boots on; and his
hat and coat were somewhat dusty. In every other respect, he was a
very indefinite sort of personage; but yet, of three nursery-maids who
passed him consecutively, taking out children for an airing, as it is
called--as if there was any such thing as air in London--two turned
their heads, to have another look at his face; and one stopped by the
posts which fenced the water, and, while affecting to contemplate the
same objects as himself, gave a simpering look towards him, as if to
intimate that she had no objection to a little pleasant conversation.

The hard-hearted young man, however, took no notice of her; and she
walked on, thinking him a fool, in which she was mistaken.

The Square was now vacant for several minutes, longer, perhaps, than
it ever is in the present day, or Than it usually was then; but the
fact is, that almost all the possessors of houses in the Square, the
elder members of their families, and a considerable number of their
servants, had gone down to Westminster, to hear the impeachment of
Lord Bolingbroke and the Earl of Oxford. It is true, a footman would
occasionally pass from one door to another; and a cook, with a
night-cap on his head, an apron before him, and a knife at his side, was
seen to ascend the area-steps of a house in the corner, and look out
with an impatient expression of countenance, as if the fish had not
arrived, or the butcher had failed in punctuality. The only other
persons who appeared in the Square were, the stranger gazing at the
children, the children in the boat, and an elderly gentleman who,
under the name of tutor, had come out to watch them, but who, seated
on a garden chair, had forgotten them, and Bolingbroke and Oxford, and
every thing else on earth, in the pages of a book containing select
fragments of Hesiod and Pindar.

The sun was shining brightly and warmly into the Square; the smoky
fluid which Londoners mistake for air tempered the light, and gave a
misty softness to the surrounding objects; and altogether St. James's
Square seemed a very pleasant sort of place, considering that it
formed part of the suburbs of a great city.

There was nothing remarkable in any man staying there for a few
minutes to look about him and enjoy himself, especially if he came
through any of the dark dens in which commerce carries on her busy
warfare in the heart of London; for the contrast was very great. But
the stranger stayed more than a few minutes. A whole quarter of an
hour elapsed without his changing his position, till at length a
curious fantastic-looking man, with a great quantity of riband at his
knees and clothing of very gaudy colours, came up to his side, and
spoke to him in a low tone.

The new-comer had some excuse for attempting to ornament his person;
which, to say truth, greatly needed it. He was short, probably not
more than five feet four inches in height; but he made up in width,
especially across the hips, which would have required the full extent
of a Dutchman's nether garment to cover them decently; and the late
King William III., of blessed memory, might well have looked upon him
with that favour which he is supposed to have bestowed very liberally
upon his countrymen; not indeed that our friend came actually and
personally from the shores of Holland, though he certainly looked very
like a Dutchman. His features were large and by no means of the most
delicate symmetry, the nose having been originally set somewhat awry
on the face, and its obliquity being rendered more conspicuous by
sundry warts, knots, and excrescences, with which indeed the whole of
his countenance was amply provided. The eyes, however, were good,
large, open, merry blue eyes; and, though certainly as ugly a
personage as one could hope to see, there was yet something--strange
to say--very winning in his look, notwithstanding the vast Ramillies
wig by which he had contrived to add to his native ugliness.

Approaching from the side of Charing Cross, with a rolling, somewhat
consequential, step, this personage advanced to the stranger who had
been standing in the square, and accosted him in a familiar and
confidential tone.

"It is settled, Master Smeaton," he said, speaking in a low voice.
"They have carried it by a large majority. It would have done you good
to be present. I never saw such attitudes."

"It would have been madness in me to go," replied the other. "Who
moved the impeachment?"

"Why that depends upon which impeachment you mean," answered his
companion. "Walpole moved against Bolingbroke, with one hand clapped
in his coat-pocket and the other stretched out for full five minutes,
just like that of my nymph with the flower-basket. I could have sworn
it had been cast in lead."

"Little use of impeaching Bolingbroke," observed the young man
addressed as Smeaton. "He is safe enough, depend upon it; but it was
not of him I thought. Bolingbroke with all his abilities is useless to
any party, and would be detrimental to most. He has contrived to
obtain a character for want of principle, which makes most men doubt
and fear him."

"Principle, my dear sir!" said the other, with a low laugh, "what is
the good of principle? 'Tis but an obstinate adherence to notions once
acquired, after the circumstances have changed that rendered them
worth having. Principle is a lane with a stone wall on each side and
no room to turn the carriage. Principle is one of those cold, hard,
stone statues which, when once broken, there's an end of; not like my
dear divinities of lead which, should anything go wrong with them, I
can throw into the melting-pot again and bring out in a new shape. No,
no; give me, in ethics and in art, pliable materials which will make a
Jupiter one day and a dancing fawn the next; a Juno now, and then the
Queen of Love. Principle, forsooth! Who has ever heard of principle
since the blessed Restoration?"

The young man smiled and mused, and then asked abruptly: "But what of
Oxford? Did _that_ pass as easily?"

"O yes," replied his companion, "more so, if possible. The hounds are
always more eager when the game is in sight. Lord Coningsby did it
very well, with grave emphasis and a grand air. Ye gods and goddesses,
how he did bespatter the noble Earl! He must declare himself now, if
ever."

"Is there any good in his declaring himself?" demanded Smeaton. "Many
a man declares himself when it is too late. Twelve months ago, he
might have done something; now, golden opportunity has slipped through
his fingers, and he is powerless. Yet I do believe he is a profound
wise man, if it were not for that vacillating spirit, so often the
stumbling-block of great abilities. I have a great mind to go back to
France, Van Noost. I do not like my errand."

"Stay awhile, stay awhile," replied the other. "Just come with me, and
you shall soon see whether Oxford is as powerless as you think. You
shall have proof positive with your own eyes and ears. If he can but
be got to speak and act, the power will not be wanting. I tell you,"
he added, in a lower tone, "fully three-fifths of all England are firm
loyalists; and every third man, amongst the Whigs, from Marlborough
and Sunderland, down to Townley and Chudleigh, would throw up their
hats and cry, 'Long live King James!' if they did but see him in the
way of prospering. All the common people, too, are of one mind."

"Ah, the fickle commons!" said Smeaton, thoughtfully, putting his arm
through that of his companion. "Where are you going to take me?"

"Only down to the cockpit," replied Van Noost, "to see Oxford return
from the House."

"Was he there?" asked Smeaton, in a tone of some surprise.

"Yes," answered his companion. "He came down early to the House in
case the bill should be brought up at once; and there he sat as cool
as a watering-pot. But he must be coming away now, since his
impeachment is voted, and a committee appointed to draw up the
articles."

"He shows firmness in these dangerous circumstances, at least,"
remarked Smeaton. "Perhaps he may be inclined to show vigour also."

While thus speaking, they had entered Pall Mall, which presented a
very different appearance from that which it displays in the present
day, as well as from that which it had borne half a century before.
There were no longer doable rows of trees on the one side and detached
houses, with scattered gardens, on the other; but the buildings were
still very irregular; and, occasionally, an open piece of ground with
a tall poplar or two intervened between a princely mansion--such as
Marlborough House, or Schomberg House--and a common inn, such as The
Sugar-loaf, or Richards's Tavern.

As Pall Mall was, at this time, a favourite place of residence for
strangers visiting the metropolis, the thoroughfare was somewhat
crowded; and numerous sedan-chairs were passing along, carrying
gentlemen to visits or to chocolate-houses. The footpath, though
famous for its mud in wet weather, was now quite dry; and the feet of
the chairmen, as they trotted along in the middle of the road, raised
clouds of dust very inconvenient to the eyes.

It might be this circumstance which caused Van Noost's companion to
press his hat further over his brows, as he entered this street; and
quicken his pace to the discomposure of the other's somewhat jaunty
steps. A distant shout, however, seemed to give wings to good Van
Noost's feet; for, whispering--"Come on--come on here, across, or we
shall be too late. He is issuing out of the House. I know the bark of
those dirty muzzles well," he darted to the other side of the way;
and, to the surprise of his companion, entered a dingy apothecary's
shop, indicated by the sign of a golden pestle and mortar over the
door.

"Good morning, Mr. Gingle," he said, to a man who was pounding
something in a very large mortar, and raising an inconceivable smell.
"Will you just let us pass by your back way into the park? My friend
and I want to see the Earl of Oxford come up from the House."

"Go on, go on, Van Noost," replied the shop-keeper, sneezing into the
mortar, and hardly raising his eyes. "You know the way; but don't
leave the door open."

With this permission, the two companions hurried on through a little
back-parlour into a small yard behind the house, and thence, by a
doorway in the wall into a narrow passage which led them by some steps
into the mall of the park.

As soon as they issued from between the brick walls, the roaring voice
of the multitude was again heard, louder and nearer; and, hurrying
forward, they passed up a narrow passage out of the park, the door of
which, in the two former reigns, had been kept closed, but which was
now generally left open as an entrance from the Spring Gardens.
Thence, threading numerous narrow passages amongst low pot-houses,
mingled in a strange way with finer buildings, and crossing what was
called Cromwell's Yard, they entered the world of coffee-houses and
taverns, which, at that time, occupied the space known by the name of
Charing Cross. Carriages now roll over ground which, in those days,
was covered with numerous dwellings; but the thoroughfare was not less
crowded then than now; for the multitude, ever thronging to and fro,
was compressed into a narrower space; and, on that day especially, the
numbers were so great that it was hardly possible for any one to make
his way along the street.

At the moment when the two whom we have mentioned more particularly
were added to the rest of the human beings there assembled, a sort of
compulsory motion was given to the crowd, some being driven forward in
the direction of the Haymarket, and others pushed back against the
houses behind them, by the advance of an enormous mob up the centre or
carriage-way of the street, in the midst of which might be seen,
towering above the ocean of heads, a large, clumsy, but highly
ornamented, carriage, drawn by four powerful horses. Hats were waving
in the air, handkerchiefs fluttering from many a window; and several
thousand voices were heard shouting all at once, and "making the
welkin ring." Some cried one thing and some another; but the general
meaning was alike.

One roared forth, "Oxford for ever!" another, "High Church, High
Church and Sacheverel!" another, "Down with the Whigs!" and then again
might be heard the shouts of "Ormond, the Duke of Ormond for ever, and
away with the Hanover rats!"

Not contented with thus asserting their own temporary opinions, the
sturdy ruffians of the mob insisted that all persons whom they passed
should give some sign of consenting to the same; and any one who
hesitated seemed likely to be roughly handled.

"Off with your hat, and cry 'Oxford for ever!'" roared one fellow in
the garb of a sailor, approaching the spot where Van Noost and Smeaton
stood.

The latter did not obey the injunction, but remained covered and
silent. Van Noost, however, raised his hat and shouted readily; and
the man passed on, swaggering and bawling with his companions, and
following the carriage of the Earl of Oxford as it moved slowly
forward.

The crowd of more respectable persons, collected at both sides of the
street, began then to disperse, and Van Noost was turning round to
walk away with Smeaton, when a sharp tap upon his shoulder made him
suddenly pause and look behind him. At the same moment, a calm clear
voice, with a somewhat sarcastic tone, addressed him by name, saying--

"Well, my good friend, Van Noost, you have shouted loudly for Harley
to-day, which is generous, seeing that he has little chance of paying
the obligation."

"Paid already, my good lord," replied Van Noost, turning round, not
in, the least discomposed, and addressing a thin plainly-dressed man
of the middle age. "He bought two nymphs and two dairy maids of toe,
no longer ago than this time twelvemonth--size of life--dairymaids
with pails upon their heads, nymphs with cornucopias in their hands,
to say nothing of a little black boy with a dolphin to be put in the
middle of a fountain. Surely I am bound to cry 'Long live the Earl of
Oxford!' If your lordship will patronise me in the like manner, and
should you chance to get into a scrape so as to win the applause of
the mob, I will throw up my hat and roar, 'Long live the Earl of
Stair!' with the best of them."

"Well, well," replied the Earl, with a smile, "only take care what you
are doing, my good friend; for, though being whipped for a libel has
often made a bookseller's fortune, yet the being sent to Newgate for
sedition would not greatly benefit a leaden figure-maker, I imagine."

"I did it on compulsion, noble Lord," replied Van Noost, in an
indifferent tone. "I make it a point never to quarrel with a mob; for
I am a curious piece of statuary, not so easily mended as one of my
own figures; and I don't believe any king on earth would help to mend
me if I chanced to get head, or bone, broken by resisting the rabble.
Would you not have done the same in my place?"

"No," replied the Earl, who seemed for some reason willing to prolong
the conversation. "I should have done just as this worthy gentleman
who is with you did; kept my hat on, and remained silent. Besides, my
good friend, your leanings are well known, although one would have
thought that the son of jolly old Van Noost, who came over with King
William, would not have inherited a vast store of Jacobitism."

"It was my mother's property I came into," replied Van Noost, with a
laugh; "for, though my father was a Dutchman, my mother was a thorough
Englishwoman, Betsy Hall by name. My father never meddled with
politics, good man; but my mother was a staunch Tory, and a wise one;
for she always cried when there was anything to be got, and held her
tongue when there was no use in crying. But how happens your Lordship
to be on foot amongst the rabble?" he continued, moving as if to pass
the Earl who was right in his way. "Have you not been down to the
House to see these gay doings?"

"Not I," replied the Earl of Stair. "My business is to stop intrigues,
and not to mix with them."

"A hard cut, that, at your friends, my Lord," said Van Noost, bowing
low, and taking off his hat. "Bob Walpole wouldn't thank you, I
think."

While this short conversation had been going on, the Earl of Stair had
more than once directed his eyes, with a quiet inquiring glance,
towards Van Noost's companion. That personage, however, had in an easy
manner, without the slightest appearance of effort, contrived to keep
his face averted, till the movement of Van Noost in advance obliged
him to pass the Earl, who then got a full but momentary view of his
countenance. The two then walked on; and as soon as they were five or
six steps distant, Lord Stair beckoned to a man who was standing at
the door of the Rummer tavern, and, on his running up, whispered to
him--

"Follow the two persons with whom I have been speaking, see whither
they go, and watch, for a little, if they soon separate. Then come and
tell me."

Without a word of reply, the man glided away, and soon gained sight of
Van Noost and Smeaton as they walked on. He kept at a certain distance
behind them, dogged them round the corners of streets, sometimes
crossed over the way, and watched them from the opposite side,
sometimes even passed them, and then stopped to look at something that
seemed to attract his attention. As the crowd in the streets
diminished, however, his office became more difficult of execution;
and his man[oe]uvres were speedily detected by a quick eye that was
upon him.

"There is a man following us, Van Noost," said Smeaton, in a low tone,
just as they were entering Piccadilly. "He has dogged us ever since we
left Charing Cross."

"He is watching you, not me," answered Van Noost, with a laugh. "My
character and domicile are too well known to need watching. See what
it is to have an established reputation. But you must not go home, for
that might be dangerous. Come on to my little place--I will provide
you such dinner as I can give, and will get you out the back way,
after dark. In the meantime, we can talk over what is next to be done
with Oxford."

The other did not reply, but walked on with his companion. They took
their way straight up Piccadilly, which was then still frequently
called the Reading Road. Towards the top of the Haymarket, Piccadilly
bore somewhat the appearance of a street, although a great number of
the first houses were inns for the accommodation of strangers coming
to London; but as one proceeded in a westerly direction, the country
gained the day over the town; and Piccadilly wore much the appearance
of that suburb called Kensington Gore. On the right hand, especially,
were many splendid mansions, surrounded by large gardens, affecting a
rural air, commencing, I believe, with the houses of Sir John Clarges
and Lady Stanhope, and going on with Queensbury House, Burlington
House, Sir Thomas Bond's house, (through part of which has been
carried the well-known Bond-street,) Berkeley House, with its splendid
garden, and several others, built and decorated at an expense, and
with a degree of luxury, far beyond the means of any but a very few of
our wealthiest countrymen of the present day.

Beyond these splendid mansions, as the two walked on towards Hyde
Park, came a very different class of houses, not in continuous rows,
though here and there two or three were even then beginning to lean
their shoulders together as if for mutual support. Between the
buildings were still gardens, and even fields; and the houses
themselves seldom soared above the rank of the dwelling of some
inferior artist, or some low public-house or waggoner's inn, of which
last there was an immense number, under signs which are still
perpetuated in the names of streets; the Half Moon, the Black Horse,
the White Horse, the Crown, the Dog and Duck, etc. Round the doors of
these, and on the benches before them, a number of people were
congregated, all talking and debating, and generally discussing
politics; for the Englishman has been, during many ages, rather a
political than a politic animal, easily led in any course, it is true,
by one who knows his weak points; but having a wonderfully good
opinion of his own capacity, notwithstanding, and firmly convinced
that he is fit for the rule and governance of states. The names of
Harley, Ormond, Bolingbroke, Walpole, Coningsby, Cowper, met the ear
at every step; but, without apparently taking any notice, Smeaton and
his companion walked on, still dogged by the man who had been set to
watch their proceedings, and who kept on the other side of the way,
under shadow of the trees.

About a hundred yards beyond the grove of trees surrounding the
reservoir, but on the other side of the Reading Road, they came to a
house, standing a little back, with a paved court before it, and of
which the upper half of the lower and the lower half of the upper
windows were covered by an immense sheet of painted canvass
representing a variety of curious-looking utensils, mingled with
figures of men and women, some in a state of nudity, and some clothed
in the quaint and starched fashion of the day, while an inscription
underneath announced that Jacob Harris constructed, repaired, and kept
in order, fountains of every kind, size, and description, and made
chairs and garden-seats, ruined temples, and summer-houses, with
various other devices for the ornamenting of parks, pleasure-grounds,
and gardens. The description of his talents was long and minute; but
Van Noost seemed to hold them in but small esteem; for, as he passed
by, and cast his eyes upon the inscription, he said, with a sort of
grunt--

"Ha! he's forced to come to me for all his statuary. He can't do
that."

Some three or four hundred yards farther on, every step giving the
country greater predominance over the town, and a little on this side
of the spot where Apsley House now stands, was a small dwelling of two
low stories, retreating from the high road, and having a garden before
it of about a quarter of an acre in extent. This garden was ornamented
with various fruit trees, the medlar, the mulberry, and the
ditch-loving elder tree, notorious for its wine; but the principal
decoration consisted in a whole host of figures, as large as life,
cast in lead, and by no means ill-executed. One might have thought
that a living mob had taken possession of the garden, had not the
heterogeneous costume of the figures themselves denoted their real
nature. Almost all of them were painted "to the life." Here were
soldiers presenting their firelocks as if in the act of shooting at
you; dairy maids and country lasses with baskets on their heads, long
bodices, and gowns tucked through the pocket-holes; mowers whetting
their scythes--old Time amongst the rest; negroes, kneeling and
supporting sundials, "very black and beautiful," as dear Washington
Irving says in his negro cosmogony; to say nothing of fair-skinned
nymphs as naked as they were born. The garden was shut in from the
road by a rustic fence, with a small gate in the centre; and before
that gate Van Noost stopped, and opened it for his companion to pass
in.

As soon as Smeaton had entered the garden, the statuary (for so I
suppose we must call him), paused and looked round. He instantly
perceived the man who had followed them, planted on the opposite side
of the way; and, carefully locking the gate, he followed his companion
through his grove of leaden figures, pointing out to him, with the
mingled affection of a parent and an artist, the various excellences
of his on productions. He had no modesty upon the subject--it was a
quality indeed which did not greatly embarrass him on any subject,
and, probably, Praxiteles did not value the immortal works of his
hand, whether in marble or ivory, so highly as Jacob Van Noost
estimated his own productions.

"See that Apollo," he exclaimed, pointing to a figure of the Belvidere
God. "I have caught the fire and the spirit, you see; and, as for the
grace, I think I may venture to say that the little elevation which I
have given to the left arm greatly increases it, as well as the
dignity."

Smeaton walked on with more speed than was quite flattering to his
companion. He was a good-natured creature, however, Van Noost; and he
merely gave his shoulders a slight shrug, hurried his own pace, and,
arriving before the other at the little old green blistered door,
threw it open to give him admission, pointing with his hand, at the
same time, to the entrance of a small parlour, the clean-washed and
neatly-sanded floor of which you reached by descending a single step.
He then shut and locked the house-door, hung up his hat upon a peg
behind it, and, entering the parlour, placed a chair for his guest,
with a low bow, saying--

"Here you are safe, my lord; and here you had better remain till the
grey of the evening. Ay, your noble father often sat in that chair,
speaking bad Dutch against my father's bad English, examining his
beautiful models, and choosing out such as he wished to possess."



CHAPTER II.

We will now move, for a while, to a far distant scene, and go back to
a somewhat earlier period of the year; for, having a violent objection
to all stiff rules, I cannot even consent to bind myself by the very
good advice of Count Antoine Hamilton--"_Mon ami, toujours commencez
par le commencement_;" in which he differed from Horace, and a great
many wonderful men of old.

On the western coast of England, and in one of the most beautiful
parts of that beautiful coast, is a spot which I must describe, not
only for the benefit of those who may profit by it, or of those who
may love to identify any place they read of, with some place which
they remember or imagine, but because many of the principal events of
my tale occurred in the midst of that precise scene. Those who know
the sea-board of Devonshire will, I think, have no difficulty in
recognising the locality from certain distinctive marks.

The place to which I allude is a little bay, taking somewhat the form
of a horse-shoe, and indenting the land deeply. It is formed by a high
headland, on the south western side, which shelters it from the
prevailing winds. The face of this promontory, to its very extreme
point, is one precipitous cliff of cold grey stone, varying from six
to nine hundred feet in height, rugged and broken indeed, but
apparently pathless; and bold would be the man who should attempt to
scale it; still bolder he who should seek to descend from the height
above. This is called Ale Head; and the opposite limb of the bay
consists of another promontory, not so steep or precipitous, indeed,
but still lofty and scarped enough, which bears the name of Ale Down.
Neither does it project so far into the sea from the general line of
coast, which trends away to the eastward at no very abrupt angle.
Protected thus on three sides by very high ground, and with only a
somewhat narrow opening in one direction, the waters of that bay,
during the greater part of the year, are as soft and tranquil as a
dream of heaven; but they are very deep also, for the cliffs run down
far below the low water-mark. Standing on the heights above, I have
looked down, and beheld the sea lying beneath my feet, as smooth as a
mirror and as blue as a sapphire. A hundred-gun ship could anchor in
that bay, within pistol-shot of the cliffs of Ale Head.

Between the higher promontory and the lower, however, is a deep dell.
I must not call it a valley; for the sides are too steep, and the
concavity too narrow, to admit of that name. Down this dell flows a
strong deep stream of beautifully clear water, over a rooky bed, from
which a large quantity of sand is carried down, forming a soft dry
landing-place, where the dell opens upon the bay. This little beach is
not at all extensive, being, from the foot of the rock on the one side
to the base of the hill on the other, not more than two hundred yards
wide, and perhaps forty in depth. Through the centre of it flows the
stream into the sea; and, twice a-day, ocean comes up to meet its
tributary, covering by far the greater part of the sands.

There were then, and are now--at least I have never seen it
without--some five or six boats hauled up on the shore, giving the
first intimation which one receives on entering Ale Bay from the
seaward, that that wild and lonely scene has human habitations near.
But so it is; and, on each side of the little river, commencing at
about a hundred yards from the mouth, and ending about a quarter of a
mile farther up the dell, are built a number of fishermen's cottages,
pressed between the steep hill-side on the one hand and the deep
banks of the stream on the other. At various places down the
dell, too, little bridges are built across from bank to bank;
sometimes merely the trunk of a tree flattened on the side that lies
uppermost--sometimes an ill-turned arch of roughly hewn stone. These
are all foot-bridges, I need hardly say; for horse, cart, or carriage,
never, I believe, ventured so far down the valley.

The next object, speaking of human life, which you see after the
boats, on entering the bay, is the end of the lowest fisherman's hut,
peeping out through the opening of the valley; but a moment or two
afterwards, as you pull on, you will perceive upon the side of the
hill to the south-west, if you raise your eyes in that direction, the
gables and chimneys of a large old mansion, rising above a wood of
considerable extent and luxuriance which clothes the valley nearly to
the shore, for in that favoured climate vegetation does not shrink
from the sea air; and at no great distance may be seen the trees
actually dipping their branches in the waves. They wisely eschew,
however, the cutting winds upon the hill top; and the high summit of
Ale Head is as bare as the back of a tortoise, and well nigh as brown.

We must look a little more closely at the mansion, however. Let us
suppose, then, that we have landed by the side of the stream, crossed
the dry sands, and entered the little dell, with light clouds floating
rapidly overhead and making the blue bay and the grey cliffs, and the
brown downs above, sparkle with gleams like the sweet transitory hopes
that brighten, as they pass, the hard stern features of this earthly
life. Oh, ye bright visions of imagination, could one but grasp and
arrest ye for an hour, how much happier, how much better, might man
be!--what a different thing were life! But ye are of air, and only given
us, in this stormy scene, to assure the sad and tempest-beaten heart
that there is still sunshine above the clouds.

Walking on before the fishermen's cottages, along the very very narrow
path, we come to a spot where the road extends, but is no longer carried
on upon both sides of the stream. It mounts, too; the valley becomes
less deep, more wide. The left, or south-western side, is covered with
wood; the right slopes up sharply, clothed with short green sward.
Suddenly, at about half-a-mile from the bay, a road branches off to the
left, while that which you have been pursuing by the bank of the stream
widens out and becomes a good sound carriage-road. We must take the
left-hand road, however, which, forming an acute angle with the path
by which we have arrived, seems as if its ultimate point, or terminus,
as we should now corruptly call it, was destined to be the very highest
and farthest part of the promontory of Ale Head. But it has no such
ambitious notions; and, after rising somewhat abruptly for a little
way, it runs on towards the sea, with a very slight inclination upwards,
winding through the wood till, with a sharp turn to the right, it passes
between two gates of hammered iron-work, supported upon stone columns,
with large round globes on the top. Then come two or three little glades
in a slight hollow of the hill, and then the old mansion, standing on a
somewhat higher point. How can one describe it? It is but a collection
of innumerable gables, and walls, and windows, built in the reign of
Elizabeth, added to in the reign of James, left to go to decay during
the Commonwealth, repaired and re-decorated under Charles II. It is all
of the grey stone of the country; but the sea air, and the proximity of
the woods, have tinged it with many colours, so that its aspect is not
that of a venerable old man who has passed his life in peace and
tranquillity, but rather like the weather-beaten face of an old sailor,
bronzed and tinted by the wind and tempests.

Within, are many rooms and many passages; flights of steps go down,
apparently merely for the purpose of going up again; and you are
continually meeting doors and new rooms where nobody expected them.
But many of these rooms are very handsome--spacious, lofty, and
well-formed; and though, to say the truth, they would be more
lightsome and cheerful were they not generally panelled with walnut or
black oak--yet there is something fine and impressive in that dark
carved wainscoting; and, when the sunshine steals in and brightens it,
it is like a sweet smile upon the face of age.

In one of these large handsome rooms, upon the first floor above the
ground, on a spring day in 1715, sat a girl of about eighteen years of
age, in the dress of a highborn lady of that time. I need not, and had
better not, describe it; for it was as stiff and as ugly a costume as
ever was invented by the capricious taste of man. The character of an
epoch is always displayed in the dress of the generation; and what
could be expected from the dry gallantry of Louis the Fourteenth's
latter days, and the stiff decorum of George the First's?
Nevertheless, the most hard and unbending garments in which that fair
form could be encased could never have repressed its wild grace or
shackled its free light movements. Her maid complained that she burst
more bodice-laces than any lady in the country; and it is a certain
fact that her hair contrived to disentangle itself from combs and
fillets, and sport in the wind like wreaths of smoke, more frequently
than she herself wished or even knew. How it happened she could not
tell, and she gave herself no great trouble to enquire; for her mind
was often wandering after other things, sometimes with the eager
sportiveness of a child after a butterfly, sometimes with steady and
untiring thought, like a wayfarer on a long journey.

It must be said, too, in justice to her good taste, that she abhorred
the vile fashions of the day in which she lived, and would often stand
and contemplate the portraits of Vandyke, of which there were several
in the house, or other older pictures still, and wonder by what curious
process the mind of man had been led to abandon what is flowing and
beautiful for that which is rigid and ugly. There was a refuge, however,
even in the costume of those times, which saved part of the day from
being spent in durance vile; and this was in what ladies called their
night-clothes. The term, it is true, was a deceit; and the words,
"night-clothes," meant merely a light and easy morning-dress, in which
they often spent the early hours of the day before they dressed for
parks and promenades. It was put on as soon as they rose in the morning,
in exchange for the garments in which they had really passed the night.
Sometimes they even went out in those, wrongly called, "night-clothes"
before the conventional hour for appearing in public had arrived.

The young lady I have brought before the reader sat a little out of
the sun-beams, which, pouring in, and painting the floor with moving
tracery, fell also over the table before her; but her eyes could reach
the blue sky and catch the clouds wafted over it, as with silent speed
they hurried along upon the wings of the wind. It was very still and
quiet in that wide high room. The birds could be heard singing
without; the busy little flies, those most wonderful pieces of
mechanism, buzzed about the windows; and a clock at the top of the
stairs ticked faintly. But these were all the sounds; and they seemed
only to soothe the silence.

The lady stirred not, spoke not, but sat with her elbow leaning on the
table, her cheek, warmly tinged with the rose, resting upon her white
hand, the "fringed curtains of her eyes" raised up, and the bright,
soft, hazel orbs themselves elevated towards the deep sunshiny
heavens. A book was on the table; but she read it not. There was a
mandolin in the corner; but she touched it not. Her thoughts were very
busy; and her heart was with her thoughts. Yet the images, the
questions, the answers which were presented to her mind, touched not
upon those topics which any one who did not know her would suppose.
She was in the bright expanding time of life, the spring of existence,
when the opening bosom of the rose courts the bee. But yet she thought
not of love. She knew it not; hardly by name, not at all by sensation,
although the young heart will yearn for that which was the only want
in Eden's garden when Adam was first formed. It was not of the gay
ball, the play, the promenade, or any of the fashionable amusements of
the day; for of them she was as ignorant as of love; but problems
which have puzzled many an aged philosopher were present to her mind,
though not stated in the most philosophical manner. Wildly and
strangely they rose, like the fantastic forms of clouds; and she
chased them eagerly in thought, as a child chases the fleeting shadows
that mock his speed.

"What am I?" she asked herself. "Of what strange elements composed?
Body and spirit, soul and mind! What are these things? Is the body the
spirit's slave, or the spirit's jailor--servant or master? I can
perceive nothing but what it will permit me to perceive. Through its
means must be all my communications with things animate or inanimate.
There it rules and triumphs. There it is the tyrant, the jailor; and
yet I can close my eyes, and the spirit, as if free from its hard
bondage, can wing its flight afar into that bright blue sky, and
question the heavens as to what is between myself and them. Can it be
that the human race is the great pausing point of God's creation, and
that between us and Him there is one vast void, untenanted, inanimate?
Or is yonder wide expanse of air, the stars, the heavens, the
universe, peopled with beings that I see not? Are there spirits in
those clouds that skim like ivory chariots through the sky? Are there
creatures of light and joy, now sporting with the sun-beams, or
resting under the green leaves of the wood? If so, is it possible that
there is no means of communication between me and them, that this body
is a barrier between the spirit that I feel within it, and the host of
spirits thronging around me? Strange, strange existence? what art
thou, what am I?"

On went the mind in the same course, inquiring, eager, keen, but
untutored and unsatisfied. All the great problems of human existence
seemed to crowd upon imagination and demand an answer from that which
cannot give it.

These were strange thoughts for a girl of eighteen; but yet perhaps
not unnatural for a quick and active spirit in the circumstances which
surrounded her. The heart had no occupation to give; and it was
impossible that imagination could rest idle. They were strange
thoughts certainly; but such were the thoughts of Emmeline.

She was without companionship. She had none whom she could call
friends around her. The poor fishermen of the village of Ale were
her nearest neighbours. There was none in the house with her with whom
she could exchange thought. It had been so during many years, and her
mind carried her back to little else than the same state. Far, far
away, in the distant past, images like phantoms were seen by the eye
of memory--sweet and pleasant images, too, but faint and ill-defined;
beings that she loved, forms that hung over her with affection, voices
that sounded musical even in remembrance; but she saw them as through
a glass; she could not approach nearer; she could not trace them more
distinctly. It was like the sight of a distant land beheld across the
sea, pleasant to view, but not to be reached, with the waves flowing
between the beholder and it.

After that, and after a succeeding period of darkness, in which she
perceived nothing, the figure of a venerable old man, the poor curate
of the parish, came on her memory. She remembered him well. He had
taught her much, and had seemed to regard her with peculiar tenderness
and affection. He had instructed her to think, and to delight in
thought; to read, and to ponder on what she read; for she had never
received what may be called the trifling parts of a woman's education.
Masters, it is true, had been procured for her from neighbouring
towns; but they were dull, heavy, material teachers. The only one who
had really instructed her was that old clergyman. But now he was gone,
and she was without a guide, for the man who had succeeded was a fat
and jovial priest who loved the material much more than the mental,
and whose weekly sermon laid a heavier burden on the shoulders of his
spirit than it was well able to bear. He sought not to acquire or to
communicate knowledge, except as to where good wine was given or good
punch brewed, or where, and at what hour, the savoury haunch was
roasted.

I have said that the old clergyman had taught her much; but there was
one subject on which he had taught her nothing: her own fate and
history. He had studiously avoided it, suffering--perhaps unwillingly,
but still intentionally--the facts of the past to drop from memory.
She had sometimes inquired, it is true, but he had always stopped her
gravely, and circumstances had occurred to make her think even at the
early age of fourteen, which she had reached when he died, that he had
been bound by some promise to forbear all such information. She even
sometimes suspected that his silence as to her history was part of a
compact--the condition on which he was permitted to visit and instruct
her.

But with whom was the compact? Probably with that swarthy man who is
now walking on the terrace below, booted and spurred as for a journey,
and waiting for his horses to be brought round. There is nothing very
remarkable in his appearance. His face is not forbidding, his features
not ill-formed, though his eyes are perhaps somewhat too near
together, and the pupils too small, as if they were always in excess
of light. He is about the middle height, stout, but not corpulent, and
perhaps fifty years of age. His air and manner are those of a
gentleman, his dress rich and costly. He is altogether a good-looking
middle aged man, but with a certain look of over-shrewdness that might
perhaps warn men to be careful in their dealings with him. This is Sir
John Newark, the possessor of Ale Manor-House and estates.

Emmeline could not remember when she had first seen him. It was too
far back for memory; but she knew that she was not his child. She
_felt_ it too, and he always called himself her guardian. By that term
he did not mean her tyrant, for he was kind to her, as kind as a man
of a cold, calculating, selfish nature could be. Nor was he altogether
an unpleasant companion; for, though he had not the slightest spark of
imagination, and fancy with him was a bird without wings--though he
could not even comprehend the existence of imagination in others,
and still less any of the generous and thoughtless impulses of the
heart--yet he had a good stock of information upon many subjects,
conversed well, and had seen a great deal of the world. He did not in
the least understand the character of Emmeline; but yet, as I have
said, he was kind to her, and even indulgent. She had her horses to
ride, her servants to attend upon her. She was allowed to roam about,
through the woods, over the hills, down to the fishermen's cottages,
and even to the neighbouring towns. All the restraints he placed upon
her were such as the customs of society in that day justified, if they
did not require. She was not permitted to visit any house, unless
accompanied by an elderly woman, whom he had placed about her, and who
acted the part of duenna with much skill and discretion. When she went
to the small town of Seaford, she was always well accompanied, and was
never out of sight of some one, except while in Ale Manor-House or
Park. There she was at full liberty; and she enjoyed it.

It must not be supposed that she thought Sir John's restraints very
hard; she knew that they were in some degree customary; and he had
always good reasons to give for every regulation. He would often talk
with her on such subjects in the evening, when they sat alone; but
there were two or three points which he strove to impress strongly
upon her mind, and which created doubts and enquiries; for I must not
call them suspicions. He had a great dislike to foreigners--no matter
what their class; and when any even of the fishermen or smugglers from
the Coast of France visited the little village of Ale, as was
sometimes the case, he enjoined Emmeline strictly to hold no
communication with them, but to keep herself within the walls of the
Park, and to receive nothing from their hands, even though sent as a
present.

"You are not fond of gauds or laces, Emmeline," he would say; "that I
know right well; but you might think it discourteous to refuse any
little gift, presented with the grace which all these men have.
Remember, however, these things are never offered without an object,
and that generally an evil one."

At first, when she was very young, she listened to these injunctions
with unquestioning reverence; but as she grew older and read much, she
began first to doubt whether he was not prejudiced, and then, from his
constant recurrence to the same theme, to imagine that he had some
motive which he did not utter; for she had already discovered, by his
dealings with others, that he seldom acted or spoke without a personal
object. We too often forget that we teach children our own characters,
as well as other things, and that each day is a lesson.

One evening, when perhaps, such thoughts were in her mind, she said,
in a musing sort of way, that she should like to see foreign lands and
foreigners in their own country. The start that he gave alarmed her;
but he answered nothing at the time, remaining, during the whole of
the rest of the evening, in deep and somewhat gloomy reverie.

The night following, however, he returned to the subject himself,
speaking in a grave but kindly tone, and evidently upon a plan. It
seemed as if he had made up his mind to enter upon a subject which he
would rather have avoided, and had weighed every word he was to utter.

"You told me last night, Emmeline," he said, "that you should like to
visit foreign countries. You know not what you wish, my child. To do
so would be your destruction."

"Then I will wish it no longer," she answered, with a bright look,
followed by a momentary shade as she added--"But I did not know, I had
not heard, that foreigners were so wicked, or their lands so evil.
Indeed, I had read of many a high and noble act amongst them, and
fancied they were much like Englishmen, only speaking another tongue."

"Far different, Emmeline, and far inferior," answered Sir John Newark;
"but, if that were all, I should little care, and would take you
readily to some gay foreign court to let you judge of the difference."

"I have seen no courts as yet," replied Emmeline, "and little wish to
see them."

"You shall soon," said her guardian; "for it is needful that every
woman should see courts who is destined to move in the higher sphere
of life. But, to return to what I was saying. To visit foreign lands
might be--nay, inevitably would be--your destruction. Some time ere
long, and certainly when you marry, I will tell you the whole history
of your family. It would be improper now to do so; but thus much I may
tell you, that there are pertinacious enemies of your race living
beyond the seas, whose anxious dearest wishes would be gratified if
they could but get you into their power."

"What would they do with me?" asked Emmeline, simply.

The question seemed to puzzle him; and he paused for an instant, in
dark meditation.

"I cannot tell," he said; "but all I know is, that they have ruined
many by their schemes. You are the last that remains to destroy. They
might indeed," he added, in a thoughtful considering tone, "they might
indeed, in consideration of your youth and innocence, restrain
themselves to shutting you up in a convent, never to come forth
again."

"That would be worse than death," replied Emmeline.

But he went on, not seeming to listen to her.

"Their object might be attained by that means as well as by others;
and it is, probably, the course they would take, if they could make
all so sure and irrevocable that no chance of your ever appearing
again in the world would be left. If they could put you to this living
death, they might be content."

Emmeline shuddered, and gazed at him with a look of fear.

"My only care is for you, dear child," he went on to say. "So long as
I live, I will defend and protect you. When you are married, your
husband, whoever he may be, will do the same; but till then, be
warned, my Emmeline. Avoid, as you would a person with the plague, all
persons from beyond the seas; for there is no art nor violence to
which your enemies would not have recourse, if they saw even a chance
of success. Hitherto _I_ have guarded you, and will continue to do so;
but you are old enough now to take precautions on your own behalf. I
have warned you of the danger; keep it ever in mind, and strive to
avoid it by every means in your power."

Emmeline answered not, but remained with her eyes cast down and her
fair brow bent, as if in earnest thought, till he asked, somewhat
sharply--

"Do you hear me, Emmeline? I said, 'strive to avoid this danger by
every means.'"

"I will, I will indeed," exclaimed Emmeline, clasping her hands
together; but, the next instant, she burst into tears, and ran out of
the room.

Her guardian's only observation to himself was--

"It has had more effect than I expected; but it is quite as well."

Great, indeed, was the effect; for it produced the first fear her mind
had ever known. She was not aware till then that she had an enemy upon
earth. Every human being seemed to love her; all had been kind to her;
even the rude, dull, obtuse son of her guardian, a lad about seventeen
years of age, somewhat deficient in intellect, was fond of, and gentle
with, her; and, when at home (which was seldom, for he was kept at a
school in London in the hope of strengthening and brightening his dull
and feeble mind), Emmeline could do anything with him. He would sit
beside her, choosing by preference a footstool near her feet,
listening to all she said, talking to her in return, and seeming to
gain some brightness from her light. All had seemed friendly to her;
all had seemed kind. But now she found she had an enemy--an enemy of
the most dark and irreconcilable kind--an enemy without a cause. It
was very terrible to her; and even the vagueness of the information
she had received--the dark obscure hints, which merely shadowed forth
the passions, and the danger, and the person, added to the horror. It
was in vain she attempted to nerve her heart against all fears, or to
scan the things which surrounded her in order to discover where any
real peril lay, and of what nature it was; her mind was like a timid
person wandering in the dark, and casting his eyes round only to find
objects of terror for the sight of fancy. All she knew was, that she
had an enemy, dark, mysterious, malignant; but that was quite enough
to depress, and agitate, and terrify her.

The heart of youth, however, has a restorative power which does not
easily fail; and the effect of the words which had been spoken to her,
though permanent, was greatly softened during the two or three months
which had passed since their utterance. She had taken refuge in
thoughts and fancies; she had read more than before, dreamed
more--waking, I mean--and had found solace in such occupations. She
confined herself more to the park, however; seemed anxious to have
more people with her when she went beyond its precincts; and kept
altogether to the house, unbidden, for two whole days, when she was
told that a foreign cutter was in Ale Bay. Her guardian remarked this
conduct, and was well pleased, and now, when he was setting out for
London upon business which seemed of importance, from the thoughtful
brow which he bore for two days before his departure, he left her,
convinced that the apprehensions which he had instilled would act as
perfect safeguards during his absence. As she sat there, gazing up
towards the sky, Emmeline did not know that he was actually about to
depart; for he was not fond of leave-takings, and seldom said farewell
when he went away. A minute or two after, however, she heard the sound
of the feet of several horses, and, running to the window, saw Sir
John Newark in the act of mounting, with two or three servants around
him, and a pack-horse held by a man on foot. Her guardian raised his
eyes to the window as soon as he was in the saddle; and Emmeline waved
her hand, saying, "Adieu!" He merely nodded his head, however, and
rode away, leaving her the mistress of the house, and _apparently_ of
her own actions.



CHAPTER III.

We must now return to the little parlour of Van Noost, the
leaden-statue-maker, and suppose that an hour or two has passed since
we left him and his companion there together. We have but paused,
indeed, to tell a story by the way. In the meantime, Van Noost had
rolled about from one part of his house to the other, eager to show
every sort of hospitality and attention to his guest. He had called a
somewhat buxom cook to conference in his workshop, and had whispered
instructions and directions to a man and two or three boys who aided
him in his labours, and who instantly issued forth, by the back door
of the house, upon what may justly be termed a foraging expedition,
taking their way towards Mayfair and Shepherd's market, though be it
understood that Mayfair then actually consisted of fields, on which
the fair, till within late years, had been held. In the immediate
neighbourhood were a number of public-houses, taverns, and eating-shops,
of which one was the notorious Dog and Duck.

Notwithstanding all the precautions he had taken, good Van Noost
thought fit to apologise beforehand for the scantiness and meanness of
the only fare which he should have to set before his distinguished
guest; but Smeaton laughed lightly, laying his hand upon Van Noost's
shoulder, and saying--

"I should be little worthy of the name of a soldier, my good friend,
if I could not appreciate the excellence of horse-flesh and dead cat
in a besieged fortress, in which light I suppose we may look upon your
house, as you have taken the pains to lock the door. Whatever you can
give me will be very acceptable; for, to say sooth, I had so much to
do this morning that I have not broken my fast."

The meal, when it was set upon the table, however, belied Van Noost's
disparaging excuses. It was not only abundant, but very savoury,
although there was an hereditary smack of Dutch cookery in the dishes
which might not have recommended them in general to English palates.
Wine, Van Noost had none; but the beer was very good; and after
dinner, the worthy entertainer produced from a cupboard in the corner
a large black bottle, with a neck like a crane and a body like a
goose, which he pressed upon his companion, assuring him that it was
filled with genuine old Dutch Cinnamon, the like of which was not to
be found in England. As the liquor was potent, however, and Smeaton
thought he might as well keep his head cool, he declined the spirit,
and left Van Noost to enjoy it himself.

Looking out through the low window, after the meal was over, Smeaton
cast his eyes up and down the road before the house, and then, turning
to Van Noost, remarked--

"That man is no longer there; and I think I might as well take my
departure."

"Oh, he is hanging about somewhere near, depend upon it, my Lord,"
replied Van Noost. "I beseech you not to hazard yourself in the street
till after dark. They will track you home, to a certainty; and then
the first thing that greets you to-morrow may be a warrant for the
Tower."

Smeaton seemed to entertain no great apprehension of such a result,
remarking that with him there was no pretence for so violent a step.

"I would not willingly have them discover my abode, however," he
remarked, "for they might hamper my movements. I think I shall return
to France at once, Van Noost," he added, thoughtfully.

"Not surely before you have seen Lord Oxford?" said the other, with a
look of surprise.

"Perhaps not," answered Smeaton; "but that can be done to-night. The
letter I bear will gain me admission at any hour, without raising
suspicion in him or any other person as to my real business."

"And even then, my good Lord," observed Van Noost, "if I might humbly
be permitted to advise, you would still wait awhile--not in London,
not in London, but in some quiet country place, where you would not be
known, and yet could receive intelligence of all that passes, and be
ready for any occasion, I am but a poor statuary, it is true, better
acquainted with the arms of Apollo and the ankles of Venus than with
the limbs of policy; but still I think it is better to be on the spot,
especially when there is no real danger. At all events, you would be
able to judge more of the temper of the people and the chances of
success."

"I have judged of the temper of the people already," replied Smeaton,
with a significant smile. "I mean of the people of London. I might,
indeed, see something more of the country gentlemen, though I much
doubt their wit if not their wishes, their discretion rather than
their devotion. As to the population of this city, the mob that we
saw, shouting 'Long live Oxford!' would in three months shout as gaily
at his execution."

"Ay, ay," remarked Van Noost, "the people are always fickle, I know
well. The time may come when even leaden statues may be out of
fashion." And he sighed deeply at the very thought of such a
catastrophe.

At that moment something seemed to catch Smeaton's eye, as he still
stood near the window looking out into the road. His face became
eager, his brow knitted, his eyes flashed, his lips curled, and his
nostrils expanded. The next instant, he threw up the sash, leaped out
into the garden, crossed it at a run, (knocking down two leaden
soldiers and a wood-nymph,) vaulted over the rustic fence, and,
exclaiming vehemently, "How dare you strike that boy so cruelly, sir?"
caught by the collar a man who had just knocked down, with a
tremendous blow, a young lad in gentlemanly attire, who still lay upon
the ground, as if stunned. Smeaton shook the man violently, and the
latter replied, in a sharp and insolent tone, struggling to get free:

"Why did he switch my leg then, and dirt all my stockings?"

"A mere accident," answered Smeaton. "He came up the road, swinging
his cane about, and merely touched you by accident. Stand still! You
shall not go till I know who is your master. The boy is bleeding."

"I shan't stand still," answered the man. "Take off your hand, or I'll
serve you as I did him." At the same moment, he, in his turn, grasped
Smeaton by the collar, and made an effort to trip him up.

His opponent, however, was younger, more active, and not a whit less
strong, though his figure appeared a good deal slighter to the eye,
from the symmetry with which it was formed. A struggle ensued, but it
lasted not a minute, and at the end, the running footman--for such was
Smeaton's opponent--was lying on his back in the dust.

The boy had by this time partly raised himself; and, clapping his
hands with childlike satisfaction, exclaimed:

"Well done, well done!"

A little crowd had now collected, but Smeaton noticed nothing at the
moment except his adversary, and he once more demanded in a stern
tone,

"Who is your master?"

The man was silent, but one of the bystanders exclaimed:

"He's one of the Earl of Stair's men. Don't you see his colours?"

"Ay, I am one of the Earl of Stair's men," growled the footman,
rising; "and he will make you pay for what you have done. There are
eyes upon you, master."

"He shall punish you or take the act upon himself," answered Smeaton.
At the same moment Van Noost pulled his sleeve, whispering:

"You had better come in, sir; yen had better come in. This is a bad
business."

"Come, young gentleman," said Smeaton, laying his hand kindly on the
boy's arm, "come in here with us, and let us see if he has hurt you
much."

The boy followed mechanically; Van Noost locked the gate, which he had
opened; the footman went away grumbling, with two or three children
running after him to look at him, keeping, however, at a wary
distance; and the little crowd which had collected gradually
dispersed.

Once in the house, Smeaton and Van Noost applied themselves to stop
the bleeding of a wound of no great extent or consequence which the
boy had received on his head in falling, and the former asked him a
number of questions, to which he received answers neither nonsensical
nor without pertinence, but somewhat strange and uncommon. Shakspeare
would probably have called them "simple answers," for the meaning of
that word simple was not so limited in his day as in ours; yet there
was an occasional touch of shrewdness in his replies, which savoured
not at all of the simpleton. He used, it is true, expressions
sometimes childlike, sometimes not altogether intelligible to those
unaccustomed to his way of talking, but often poetical, or perhaps I
should rather say figurative. His head he invariably called "his
noddle." The ground on which he had fallen he spoke of as "mother
earth." The fist of the man who had struck him he denominated "his
poulter," and the blow "a dunder." He bore the pain well, and seemed
to care little for the accident, but at the same time exhibited a
degree of enthusiastic gratitude towards Smeaton (more than
commensurate with the service which had hem rendered) for interfering
on his behalf, and especially for avenging him on the bully who had
struck him.

"Ay, ay," he said, looking eagerly in Smeaton's face, "it was good to
teach the coulter-head that he's not too long to lie on mother earth."

In a few minutes he seemed quite recovered; and Van Noost poured him
out a little of his Dutch Cinnamon, which, though Smeaton rather
disapproved of the remedy, had a marvellous effect in restoring the
boy's spirits.

Nevertheless he appeared somewhat eager to be gone; and his companions
were not particularly disposed to detain him when they found that he
was not seriously injured. Van Noost saw him to the garden-gate, and,
on his return, perceived that his companion had fallen into a fit of
thought, in which he continued for a moment or two after his host
entered.

"I have made up my mind, Van Noost," said Smeaton, at length. "There
are circumstances in which it is as well to take the bull by the
horns. It is evident that your good friend, the Earl of Stair, has
recognised me. Although we never interchanged a word in our lives, he
has seen me more than once. I will not play at hide-and-seek with him.
I will go to him to-night, and demand that this man shall be
discharged for the outrage he has committed."

Van Noost looked astonished--nay, aghast. "But, my dear lord," he
exclaimed, "think, for Heaven's sake, of what you are doing. Were it
to take a city or to save an empire, it might be worth while to get
into the inside of a wooden horse and be wheeled into the lion's den,
like the Greek gentlemen in days of old; but, to punish a running
footman, I cannot say that the object is worthy of the risk. Bethink
you of your policy, noble lord."

"It is the most politic course, Van Noost," replied Smeaton. "I have
nothing to fear but a little inconvenience consequent upon discovery.
The discovery being already made, all the danger that can be incurred
is incurred already. A part of it may be obviated by boldness. But see
who that is ringing at your bell."

Van Noost instantly ran to the window and looked towards the little
gate, a large bell, hanging at its side, having been just rung
violently.

"It is the boy again," he said, "and a gentleman with two servants.
What shall I do?"

"Oh, let them in, let them in," cried Smeaton, in a gay and
indifferent tone. "Now that I have resolved to throw off disguise, I
may as well hold a levee."

Not without very apparent unwillingness, the worthy statuary called
one of his workmen, and bade him open the garden-gate and give
admission to the strangers. He did not perform the office himself; for
he would be seized with sudden fits of self-importance when he thought
it necessary to keep up his dignity. The boy and the gentleman who
accompanied him were speedily admitted to the garden; and, leaving the
two servants at the gate, walked on to the house, and were introduced
unannounced into Van Noost's little parlour.

"That is he, that is he," cried the boy, pointing to Smeaton, who had
remained seated till they entered; and the gentleman by whom the lad
was accompanied, a well-dressed middle-aged man, advanced, holding out
his hand, and saying--"I have to thank you, sir, for your generous
interference on behalf of my son."

Taking his offered hand, Smeaton replied with a smile,

"I am sorry that it was not called into activity sooner, or I might
have spared him a very heavy blow; but I had not the slightest idea
that a great powerful man like that would think of striking a young
gentleman of your son's age, for an offence which was, evidently,
merely accidental."

"It is too much the habit with our great men, sir," observed the
other, "to keep bullies and bruisers in their service. But the Earl of
Stair shall hear of this, and learn that, though we are under a
foreign king, his creatures must be a little more considerate of the
feelings and rights of Englishmen."

"I know nothing of Lord Stair except by report." said Smeaton; "but,
from all I have heard, I should not suppose he was one to countenance
such outrageous conduct in his servants; and I shall, certainly,
request him to dismiss this man on account of his insolence to
myself."

"I shall insist upon it," replied the other.

"Although he may never have heard the name of Sir John Newark, yet my
possessions and my station in the country will not permit of my being
insulted in the person of my son with impunity."

Smeaton smiled slightly as he rejoined--

"I shall hold out no threat, Sir John; but, dealing with Lord Stair as
one gentleman with another, shall make it my request that he dismisses
that man, as one who disgraces his service. I do not think he will
refuse; but, of course, in your own case, you will act as you think
fit. Now, to speak of pleasanter subjects," he continued, holding out
his hand to the boy; "I did not know, my young friend, when I
interfered in your behalf, that I was serving the son of a gentleman
to whom I bear a letter from one of his intimate friends."

The boy caught his hand, and shook it eagerly, exclaiming--

"I'm glad of that--I'm glad of that; I was sure my father would like
you. You gave the coulter-head a fine fall. I heard all his bones
crack and rattle as he tumbled. I should have liked to give him a
kick; but that would not have been fair when he was down, you know."

"May I ask, then, to whom I have the pleasure of speaking?" inquired
Sir John Newark, who had been eyeing his companion with some
curiosity.

"I am called Colonel Henry Smeaton," replied that gentleman; "though
my military rank, I suppose, will not be acknowledged in this country,
as it has been gained in the service of the House of Austria."

Sir John Newark shook him heartily by the hand, with the air and
warmth of an old friend.

"I am most happy to see you, Colonel Smeaton," he said. "I have
already received a letter, giving me information that you would
probably come to see me at my poor house." Then, dropping his voice to
a whisper, he added, "from Lord Bolingbroke."

"The letter I bear is from the Duke of Ormond," said Smeaton, in a
colder tone, the name of Bolingbroke appearing to have no great charms
for him. "Will you say where I shall have the honour of delivering it,
for at this moment it is not about me?"

"Nowhere, I trust, but at my poor manor-house at Ale," replied Sir
John. "It is a pleasure that I have promised myself; and I was even
now on the eve of hastening back thither for the purpose of meeting
you on your arrival. My son was walking from his school to meet me, in
order to go down with me to-morrow, when he was assaulted. But I think
you told me, my dear Richard," he continued, "that this other
gentleman had been very kind to you also."

And he looked towards Van Noost, who had been standing near the window
while the conversation took place.

"O yes," answered the boy. "He gave me some nice stuff, and cockered
me up famously; but it was the other that made the big bully take
measure of the paving-stones."

"Will you not be seated, Sir John," said Van Noost, putting a chair
for the knight, "and allow me to give you a glass of the nice stuff,
as your son calls it, which did him so much good?"

"Well, I don't know what its name is," retorted the boy; "but I know it
tasted like drinking gingerbread--hot and sweet--and a very nice taste
besides."

"Dutch Cinnamon, I'll warrant," said Sir John Newark, laughing, and
seating himself. "We are not very much accustomed to such things in my
house. So he might well not know what it was. I have almost forgotten
the taste of it; but I know it is very good; and I do not at all
object, sir, to try your store."

Now, be it known to the reader that, at that period of history, the
greater part of the English nation had became afflicted with a disease
from which they are not altogether free even yet, although a great
physician has lately been amongst them, undertaking its especial cure.
The disease I mean is, dram-drinking, which, for some time, affected
not only the lower but many of the higher classes. So that there was
nothing at all extraordinary in Sir John Newark consenting to drink a
glass of very strong spirit even before he had dined. But that worthy
gentleman was not without his own particular motives in anything he
did, and frequently covered, or attempted to cover, them by an air of
frank and straightforward affability. At present, indeed, he seemed to
have no thought but of Van Noost's good liquor, watching him as he
brought from the corner-cupboard both the long-necked bottle I have
before mentioned, and an exceedingly thin wine-glass, with a tall
stalk lightly cut and gilt.

"It pours out like cream," observed Sir John, as his host held the
neck of the bottle over the glass.

"Ay, this is none of your poisonous drugs such as they sell at the
chandlers' shops and the barbers', made out of the lees of old wine,
or damaged sugar," replied Van Noost, still pouring; "none of your
aqua mirabilis, or aqua salts, or plague-water, or colic-water, but
genuine Dutch Cinnamon, imported by my good father in his own
sea-stock. Take it, Sir John. I am sure it will do your heart good."

Sir John drank, and praised, and drank again; and then, turning to
Smeaton, who was speaking with his son, he said--

"You are hard drinkers on the Continent, I believe, Colonel Smeaton,
and would beat us Englishmen at a match any day."

"Not in the countries where I have principally resided," returned
Smeaton. "I mean Spain, and some of the Austrian States. I have heard,
indeed, of certain fearful orgies amongst the French officers in
Spain; but I know little of France or Frenchmen, having merely passed
through the country once or twice, and that very rapidly."

"Did you ever chance in your travels to meet with a gentleman named
Somerville--Richard Somerville?" asked Sir John Newark, in a careless
tone.

Smeaton shook his head, replying--

"No, I never did. In what country is he residing?"

"I really can hardly tell," returned Sir John Newark; "for, though he
is a distant relation of mine, we have not held much communication
together for many years. France or Lorraine, I believe, was the last
country in which he was heard of."

"I think I do remember," remarked Smeaton, in a musing tone, "having
heard the name mentioned at Nancy. But they said he had gone to seek
his fortunes amongst the Spaniards in the New World. Somerville--yes,
that was the name surely."

"Ay, very probable," said Sir John Newark. "I think a rumour of his
intention reached me. You never were in those golden countries
yourself, were you?"

"Never," replied Smeaton. "The journey is somewhat far; and, as I am
well contented with what I have, I feel no inclination to banish
myself from civilization in pursuit of wealth."

"I should like to see the country where gold grows," observed Sir John
Newark's son, looking earnestly at Smeaton. "If I were a lord in
golden land, I would give you a whole tree."

"Thank you, my dear lad," said Smeaton, laughing. "I fear, however, I
should have some difficulty in eating the fruit of that tree."

"Why, golden pippins--they would be golden pippins!" cried the boy,
clapping his hands at the thought. "I wish I had some now; but they
are not ripe yet."

The conversation then took another turn. Sir John Newark became
actually gay and jocular, pressed upon Smeaton his invitation to his
house at Ale, and did not depart till he had obtained from him a
conditional promise to go down and spend a fortnight with him, if he
determined to remain any time in England. He shook his new friend by
the hand, at parting, with considerable warmth; but there was a degree
of hearty cordiality in the boy's grasp of Smeaton's hand, which
pleased him better.

"You must and shall come down," said the boy, in a whisper; "and I'll
show you all the coves and the paths among the rocks and over the
cliffs, where nobody ever perches but I, and the sea-mews, and the
fishing-hawks. Old Jones Skinner, the smuggler, broke his neck there;
and people are afraid ever since; but you are not afraid of anything,
I am sure."

"I trust not," answered Smeaton; and thus they parted.

When they were gone, Van Noost, who had been, for him, remarkably
silent and reserved, broke forth, upon the character of Sir John
Newark.

"Take care what you do with him, my Lord," he said. "He is not much to
be trusted; and, for Heaven's sake, do not let him know your real
name. First he has been one thing, then he has been another, just as
he thought it served his own interest. He was once very great with
Sunderland, in the old King's reign, and with the Duke of Shrewsbury
too. Then he paid court to the Duke of Marlborough; and then he was
one of Bolingbroke's men. I don't know whether he is a good enemy or
not; but I am certain he is not a good friend. He is shrewd, mighty
shrewd too, and has contrived to amass great wealth, and gain large
estates, by not the fairest means, they say."

"I will be careful, Van Noost," replied Smeaton, quietly; "but yet I
think I shall go. Much, however, will depend upon any interview with
Lord Stair. He has recognized me, I am sure--nothing escapes his keen
eyes--and I will soon see whether that recognition is likely to prove
dangerous. If so, I will stay and confront the danger here. If not, I
will go down to this Ale Manor for a time, and watch quietly the
course of events."

Van Noost shrugged his shoulders, and shook his head, saying,

"Well, my good Lord, well. You must have your own way, and put your
head into the lion's mouth, if you think fit; but it is an unpleasant
place to rest one's noddle in; and were I you, I certainly would not
try it."

Smeaton laughed, replying,

"I do not think the beast is dangerous; but we shall see. And now, my
good friend, I think I shall set out; for the shades of evening are
beginning to fall."

"Not yet, my Lord, not yet," cried Van Noost, who was evidently much
alarmed at his companion's determination. "It is but a cloud come over
the sky; and I would fain have you take a little more time to
consider. It is well enough for me to brave Lord Stair, and talk as
impudently to him as if I were his equal; first, because he can show
nothing against me, except that I love one King better than another,
and secondly, because I am too powerless and humble to be dangerous;
the man who will fight a boar, or a wolf, or even a lion, (saving your
presence,) will often turn aside not to tread on a beetle or a worm;
but with your Lordship, the case might be very different. You would
make a fine cast of the net; and they seem fond of taking great fish
just now."

"And very wise they are too," answered Smeaton, with a smile. "A large
fish is always better than a small one."

"Wrong, wrong, my dear Lord," exclaimed Van Noost. "Smelts for my
money; only they are so dear--a shilling a score--that I can't afford
them."

"But, my good friend," replied Smeaton, "you are much mistaken as to
my objects and my position, though I strove hard to explain to you
what they really are."

"Ah, some of my lead gets into my pate," said Van Noost, with a sigh;
"and when an idea is fixed there, it is as stiff as a river-god in a
fountain, and requires to be melted and re-cast, before it will take
another shape. But your Lordship was going to say--"

"Merely, my good friend," rejoined Smeaton, more gravely, "that I do
not come over here to stir up any rebellion in the land, but simply,
at the request of a very dear friend, to ascertain what are the real
feelings of the country, and especially of the leading men therein. I
have no dangerous papers about me; for I refused to be the bearer of
any such. As yet I have communicated with no one but yourself, my
object being simply to see with my own eyes, hear with my own ears,
and communicate to some who are dear to me the result of my
observations. Thus, although avowedly, as all my family have been, a
friend of nay legitimate Prince, I have given no excuse for treating
me as a rebel to existing authority. The faction that now rules the
land can take hold of no word or act of mine. My father, it is true,
was banished and proclaimed; but such is not the case with me; and I
have a right to walk my native country at liberty."

Van Noost was evidently not convinced; and he contrived to detain his
companion with arguments till the sun had actually set. Then, however,
Smeaton rose, saying:

"Now, Van Noost, I must really go; but I shall see you to-morrow
early, and we will talk farther."

"I will open the back door," said Van Noost, somewhat ruefully, "and
let your Lordship out through the garden into the fields. The first
turning on the right will take you straight up to the Dog and Duck;
and then you cannot miss your way."

"No, no, Van Noost," replied Smeaton. "The open way and the straight,
if you please, my good friend; unless you are afraid to have me seen
coming out of your house. I am tired of these maskings."

"Heaven forbid that I should be afraid, noble Lord," cried Van Noost
eagerly. "I would walk with your lordship to the Council Office
itself, if you liked; and, indeed, I think I had better go part of the
way with you."

Smeaton, however, declined all company; and, the door of the house and
gate of the garden having been opened, he issued forth into
Piccadilly, and took his way back towards St. James's street.

Van Noost looked after him for a moment or two, shook his head
gravely, and then, once more locking the garden-gate, set to work in
the twilight to put the leaden figures, which Smeaton had knocked
down, upon their legs again.



CHAPTER IV.

It is curious, what mighty business is transacted in mean places. The
destinies of the world, and the widest-spread enlightenment of the
human mind, have gone forth from two of the smallest, dirtiest, and
most pitiful streets in London, Downing Street and Paternoster Row.
John Dalrymple, Earl of Stair, one of the most remarkable men of the
age in which he lived, and afterwards celebrated for the extraordinary
splendour both of his equipage and his table when ambassador at the
court of France, was at this time dwelling in a small hired house in
Golden Square. Nevertheless, he had been already marked out for high
employments, by the clear-sighted eyes of the Whig ministry of that
day; and it was without difficulty, though not until after two
enquiries, that Smeaton discovered the house in which he lived. He
paused before the door, and looked up in doubt; for the name of the
Earl of Stair was so frequently in men's mouths, and his liveries were
so well known in the neighbourhood, that the young traveller had
expected to find a magnificent mansion, fitted to contain a numerous
train of servants.

But let us pass over his surprise and his inquiries, and enter the
room of the noble Earl at the moment when Smeaton approached his
dwelling. He was seated in a large straight-backed arm-chair, with a
round carved oak table on his left hand, having a thick solitary
candle close to his elbow, shaded by a fan-shaped piece of green silk
fixed in the candlestick. Thus, that keen, penetrating, but noble
countenance, was completely in shadow, while the bright light streamed
upon a large packet of old papers on the table, and upon one which he
held in his hand. Better known to the English historian as a
diplomatist and statesman of consummate sagacity than as a general, it
may excite some surprise when I state that the paper which he was
examining, with a pleasant smile upon his face, contained a rough plan
of the battle of Oudenard, with a number of remarks, minute dates, and
numbers, written underneath in his own hand. He had drawn it up while
hurrying over to England with despatches announcing that great
victory, in obtaining which he had borne a considerable share, that he
might be ready with all the details in case of being questioned by the
ministry. It had been of no service to him at the time; but now the
sight of it occasioned pleasant sensations--the memory of triumph and
success, the recollection, perhaps, of young bright hopes and great
aspirations--at all events, the thoughts and feelings of earlier and
happier years. A refreshing breeze is ever blowing from the fields of
youth; and, when we read any record of those former days, we do but
open a window to let it in. Melancholy may be mingled with it, and it
may bring upon its wings the tolling of the church-bell for all that
have departed; but still it is sweet and fresh, and beneficial to the
health of the heart.

He laid down that paper and took up another, examined it for a moment
and put it aside. In doing so, he touched the pile of old letters;
they fell over, and he laid his hand upon another document at random.
The instant he looked at it, however, he laid it gently on the table,
with a sort of shudder, and fell into deep thought.

While he thus remained, an old staid serving man opened the door and
entered the room, without the Earl perceiving him.

"There's a gentleman below, my Lord," said the man, with a strong
Scottish accent.

The Earl took no notice, but remained exactly in the same position,
with his eyes fired on the floor.

"I beg your Lordship's pardon," said the servant, "but there's a
gentleman below seeking to see you, and will indeed take no denial."

Lord Stair started from his reverie, and told the man to repeat what
he had said which he did, with the addition of the words, "He bade me
give this card to your Lordship."

The Earl took it, and looked at the name before he answered; then a
slight, very slight, look of surprise came upon his face; but, bowing
his head quietly, he said.

"Put a seat there opposite to me, and show him up."

The man did as he was commanded; and, in a minute after, Smeaton
entered the room. Lord Stair rose, bowed, and pointed to the chair
apposite, saying,

"Pray be seated, Colonel Smeaton."

His visitor placed himself in the chair in an attitude of easy grace,
with his sword drawn up by his side, and the hilt resting on his knee.
The old servant departed, and the door closed.

"I have intruded upon you, my Lord," said Smeaton, at once, "to speak
upon a somewhat unpleasant subject. I will therefore beg your patience
for a moment till I have mentioned all the circumstances."

Lord Stair listened in silence, merely bowing his head, and Smeaton
went on to detail the violent conduct of the Earl's running footman
towards young Richard Newark, and his after insolence towards himself,
assuring him that he had witnessed the whole transaction from the
beginning, and that the lad had given no offence but by accidentally
touching the man's leg in swinging about his cane as he walked along.

Still Lord Stair listened in profound silence, interrupting the detail
neither by comment nor question. When Smeaton had completely done,
however, and paused as if for a reply, he inquired, in a somewhat dry
tone--

"What is it you wish me to do in this case, Colonel Smeaton?"

"I have trusted, my Lord, from your character," replied Smeaton, "that
a simple statement of the facts would be sufficiently to guide you as
to what was requisite. But, as you inquire what I could wish you to
do, I must reply--to dismiss the man from your service."

"He is a useful fellow," said Lord Stair, with a slight smile. "Pray,
what is the alternative, Colonel Smeaton?"

"Nay, my good Lord," replied Smeaton, smiling in return, "I am not
quite so pugnacious a person as to come ready armed with a hard
alternative. I trust and doubt not your Lordship will do that which is
right, without considering any alternative at all."

"Very well," said Lord Stair, more frankly. "I will consider of it for
a few minutes. But now let us speak of more important things than
appertain to the fate of a footman. You seem surprised, but I mean the
fate of a young nobleman, who has, I fear, placed himself in a
dangerous situation."

Smeaton paused for a moment, for there was a kindness of tone as well
as of look and manner, in Lord Stair, as he introduced the expected
subject, which he had not been prepared for. After very short
consideration, however, he answered ingenuously,

"If your Lordship alludes to myself, I do not imagine that my
situation is dangerous at all."

"Then, why appear in England under a feigned name?" demanded the Earl.

"There may be many sufficient causes, my noble Lord," replied Smeaton,
"without apprehension having any share in the motives. I may be poor
and proud, as is generally said of your ancestors and mine; and, to
say truth, poverty was one of the causes of my determination not to
assume any rank in this country. An unknown stranger, without any
pretensions to dignity, can act as he likes; but it would not do for
an English nobleman to take up his abode in a little lodging up two
pair of stairs."

"In Gerard Street, Soho," added the Earl with a smile. "It is a very
good street, notwithstanding. Great men have lived there before now."
He paused for an instant in thought, as if considering how he should
proceed, and then said, somewhat abruptly--"Are you aware that your
father and myself were once intimate friends, and that, although
unfortunately differing in our political views, nothing has ever
occurred to diminish my regard for him, or, that I know of, his regard
for me?"

"I have always heard my late father speak of your Lordship with great
respect and esteem," replied Smeaton; "but he never mentioned any
intimacy. Indeed, I was not aware that you were personally
acquainted."

"Oh yes," replied Lord Stair, in a very marked and peculiar tone of
voice. "We were very intimate in the darker days of my life. There are
circumstances, my lord, circumstances of deep pain and grief, which
occasionally bind men together by stronger ties than any which can be
formed amidst joys and pleasures. But I see you do not know my
history."

He paused, and fell into a gloomy reverie, which Smeaton suffered him
to follow, uninterrupted, for a few minutes; and then, perhaps in
order to draw his mind away from thoughts which seemed very painful,
the young Colonel recurred to a previous topic, saying--"I can assure
your lordship most sincerely that I myself know no danger which I run
in coming to England, or even in presenting myself at the house of
Lord Stair. I mean that I am not the bearer of any letters, papers, or
messages, which can fairly give umbrage to the existing government."

Lord Stair roused himself from his reverie, and replied in an altered
tone--

"Letters, papers, and messages may all be absent, and yet your
intentions and your acts might place you in a dangerous position. I
seek not, my lord, to pry into your secrets, if you have any, but I
only wish to warn you, for your own good, that England is, at this
present moment, a very perilous place for persons entertaining the
views which your family have always entertained, and which, doubtless,
you yourself entertain. Let me explain myself in what respects I think
it perilous. Not alone are the eyes of government keenly fixed upon
every suspected person; not alone are ministers prepared at all points
to put down any attempt at insurrection; not alone are they ready to
take the responsibility upon themselves of adopting measures, somewhat
beyond the law, to meet circumstances not contemplated by the
law--though all this might render your circumstances perilous enough;
but there are other persons and other designs which may be more
dangerous to you. I speak of those blind and infatuated men who
entertain vain hopes of being able to overthrow the established
government of the country, and alter, by force, the succession to the
crown as settled by Act of Parliament."

He had spoken calmly, but somewhat sternly. He now again resumed a
milder tone, and went on to say--"These men, deceiving themselves, are
ever ready to deceive others; nay, more, are endeavouring, by every
sort of artifice, by specious arguments, by false representations, by
cunningly devised displays of an unreal power, and by man[oe]uvres too
numerous to detail, to lead the unwary or the ill-informed into a
belief that schemes, perfectly impracticable, are certain of success.
I warn you, my dear lord, of these things, as an old friend of your
father; and, to say the truth, nothing would give me greater
satisfaction than to hear to-morrow that you had embarked for the
continent."

"That, I fear, is impossible," replied Smeaton; "for I have business
to transact which must detain me some little time--business," he
added, seeing a peculiar expression come over Lord Stair's face,
"totally unconnected with politics or party."

"I think you would not say so with any reservation," replied the Earl,
and then fell into a fit of musing, which his companion did not
interrupt. "I wish," he continued, in a kindly tone, after he had
brought his rumination to an end, "I wish you would allow me to deal
with you as a friend, and ask you a few questions, in that character,
which might be impertinent in a stranger."

"Pray do, my lord," replied Smeaton. "Anything concerning myself alone
I will not refuse to answer; but I must beg you not to touch upon the
business to which I have alluded, which I have undertaken for a
friend, but which is, I give you my honour, merely of a private and
domestic nature."

"I shall not meddle with it," replied Lord Stair; "and my questions
shall be very simple ones. How long do you intend to remain?"

"Probably not more than three months," replied Smeaton.

"Somewhat long," said the Earl, thoughtfully. "However, if it must be
so, we cannot help it. Do you intend to pass that time in London?"

"Certainly not," replied Smeaton. "I shall probably leave London in
two or three days, having accepted an invitation to visit Sir John
Newark, at Ale Manor, in ----shire."

"With a letter from Bolingbroke," said Lord Stair, drily. "We have
heard of that."

"For once, you have been misinformed," replied Smeaton, smiling
slightly. "I have no letter from Bolingbroke, and am barely personally
known to him. It seems he did me the honour of writing to Sir John
Newark, but I cannot be responsible for anything he may have thought
fit to say in that letter. The only introduction I bear to Sir John is
a friendly letter from the Duke of Ormond, who gave it to me, knowing
that I had inquiries to make in that part of the country, and thinking
that it might be of service to me; but it has no reference to
politics, direct or indirect."

"It is in the hands of government," said Lord Stair, in a quiet tone,
"but it will be restored to you. You seem surprised; but your arrival
at Dover was known three days ago, and created some suspicion. Your
assumption of another name, and your conferences with Van Noost--poor
foolish fellow--increased those suspicions; and, when I saw you with
that person in the street, I sent a man after you to see where you
went, in order that I might have some conversation with you, and save
you from pain and annoyance, if not from difficulty. You staid so
long, however, with the leaden-figure man, that measures have been
taken by other parties in regard to you, which I could have wished
avoided."

"Do you mean as affecting my personal liberty!" demanded Smeaton.

"No, not that," replied Lord Stair; "but examinations have been made
at your lodging. Do you know much of this Sir John Newark?"

"Little or nothing," replied Smeaton. "I hear he is a waverer in
politics, and that is all I know."

The Earl mused again.

"I believe," he said, after a short interval of thought, "that the
house of Sir John Newark is as safe a place as any for a gentleman in
your position. He is one of those who, to use a vulgar term, do not
readily quarrel with their bread and butter. He is more bold in words
than in deeds, it is true, but he is not much suspected by government,
as there are so many holds upon him. He may always be bound by
self-interest. He may always be restrained by fear. I do not mean
cowardice--for, personally, he is brave enough; but fear of losing an
acre of land, or a hundred guineas, would make him swear allegiance to
the devil or the Grand Turk. It is as safe a place for you as any that
I know; but still, be on your guard against temptation; for a great
number of unruly spirits are in the West, who will, before long, bring
a heavy hand upon their own heads, if I am not mistaken. I had
fancied, indeed, that you were going northward, and that might have
been more dangerous."

"I have but little temptation to go to the north, my good lord,"
replied the younger gentleman. "It would be a painful sight to see my
family estates in the hands of others, and our once splendid property
enriching those whom even your lordship will permit me to call
traitors."

"I will not find fault with your doing so," replied Lord Stair, with a
smile; "for your father was certainly much wronged by near and dear
friends, as they professed themselves. If I remember rightly," he
continued, "your mother had lands in the West. Supposing they were not
confiscated, I can conceive the motives of your journey."

"They were forgotten in the general sweep," replied Smeaton; "and,
happily, we had faithful and honest tenants, who would not take
advantage of their lord's calamities. They are all that is left us.
But I will not, even in so small a point, deceive your lordship," he
continued, abruptly, "nor willingly suffer you to deceive yourself. I
am not going to the West to visit that small estate, and probably may
never set my foot on it. I go simply to transact some business for a
friend."

"Is he a _royal_ one?" asked Lord Stair, with a keen look.

"No," answered Smeaton, laughing, "nor now at all connected with
royalty. My friend is a merchant, but one," he added, gaily, "who does
not traffic in any contraband commodities--not even in the delicate
lace of treason. I have assured your lordship that this has nothing to
do with any matters of state or policy whatever. I have to thank you
for many acts of kindness to-night. I must beg you to add one more--to
believe me."

"I do, I do," exclaimed the Earl, warmly. "One, accustomed to deal
largely with men, judges them fully as much by the countenance as by
the words. I remember well when your father and I were studying
together, in deep seclusion, with a good minister in Ayrshire, and
were told to read the historian Thucydides, we could make nothing of
him, though we knew a little of Greek, till your father got from
Edinburgh a copy of the work with copious notes in Latin at the bottom
of the page. In a moment it became all clear, and we found how often
we had been mistaken in our supposed interpretations. Thus one foreign
language served to elucidate another; and I have often since had
occasion to think that the expressions of a man's face are the notes
which the grand commentator, Nature, has given us for the right
understanding of his words. I do believe you, sincerely, and think I
can insure that you shall not be molested during the three months you
propose to stay, provided you pledge yourself to avoid all meddling
with the politics of the country."

"I thank your lordship heartily," replied Smeaton, "and fully accept
the terms." Then, changing the subject suddenly, he added, "I was not
aware that your lordship had studied with my father. He, being a
second son, was intended, at first, to be educated for the bar."

"I also was a second son," said Lord Stair, in a low voice, with the
expression of his face changing to a look of the deepest melancholy,
"I was a second son, but not then, not then. This fatal hand had by
that time done the deed."

The surprise which Smeaton felt at the sudden change in manner, tone,
and look, and at the strange words of Lord Stair, could not be
prevented from appearing on his countenance, and the Earl, whose eyes
were fixed upon him, said, "You do not know the story. It is a sad
one, but I often force myself to tell it, and there is something
strange in your coming here to-night. The moment before you entered, I
had the letter now before me in my hand--the letter of recall out of a
long and unjust banishment from the bosom of my family. To your
father's kindness and support during those long dark years, I owe
much, and I may as well tell you how it all happened."

Smeaton replied in a few common-place words of interest, for there are
times when nothing is appropriate but a common-place. The Earl heard
him not, however, but kept gazing into vacancy, with a contracted brow
and somewhat haggard eye.

"I have it all before me even now," he said, at length, in a low and
tremulous tone, "that dark and horrible scene, and its terrible
consequences. There are some things which brand themselves upon the
mind even of childhood with marks never to be effaced; and, though
long years and busy scenes, passions, desires, hopes, joys, acts,
feelings, have thronged so thickly into the intervening space that one
would think they raised up a cloud between the present and the past
which no eye could penetrate--yet there it is, that one terrible hour,
as vivid and distinct as when it burst upon me like a blaze of
lightning. This hand, young man, took my elder brother's life--not
willingly, mark me--not with forethought, nor under the rash impulse of
any sudden passion. We were boys together, and loved each other well.
I envied him not his elder birth, God knows; I hardly even knew or
felt its advantages. It was all in sport; I knew not that the gun was
charged. He had presented it at me himself the moment before. God only
knows how it was that I was not the victim, and that _he_ was not left
to mourn _me_. Think then of my horror when the musquetoon went off,
and my brother fell at my feet a bleeding corpse! That was the first
sickening taste of the bitterness with which my cup was to be filled;
but, when, instead of comfort in my agony, and support under the
dreadful weight cast upon me, I found the awful misfortune imputed to
me as a crime, when, in spite of its being shown and proved, by those
who witnessed it, that all were accidental, and my horror and grief
was apparent to all eyes, I was cast out from the bosom of my family
like an exile, banished to a distance, and treated like a criminal who
has only escaped condign punishment by some quirk of law, and who
lives with the shame and the reproach and the stigma clinging to him
for ever--to describe my sensations then, is impossible. At first, it
was all a chaos of sorrow; but gradually the sense of injustice raised
up a spirit of resistance, hard, dogged, malevolent, but still
serviceable, for it enabled me to bear up. And then, for my blessing
and my safety, I found two friends, who gave a better direction to my
thoughts--who raised up hope again in my bosom, and softened even the
memory of the past. The first was the minister under whose tuition I
was placed; a wise and good man, who moved, in his humble sphere,
untainted by the vices or the follies of the day. The other was your
noble father; a lad some years older than myself, who was pursuing his
studies under the same tutor. Oh, how sweetly those days come back on
memory, when first my heart opened to his kindness, and when, loaded
with anguish, such as is rarely known but in manhood, I told him all
my thoughts, and wept upon his bosom like a child! How sweetly, too,
come back his counsels and exhortations! how gently, how kindly he
soothed my angry feelings! how wisely he taught me to rely on higher
and nobler principles for support under my affliction than the mere
stern sense of being wronged! how he soothed my irritation, and won me
away from my sorrows! My young friend, it is not to be forgotten, and
if there was bitterness in the cup pressed hard to my boyish lips,
there was sweetness to be remembered too. 'Tis well nigh thirty years
ago. I think--perhaps more, for your father married very early--and I
have never seen him since; but I forget not one lineament of his face,
one tone of his voice, one expression of his countenance, and you are
very like him."

As he spoke, the Earl extended his hand to Smeaton, and then added,

"You now can see the causes of the interest I take in your fate. That
interest will never diminish, and will always be active in your
favour, whenever my duty to the land of my birth and the sovereign
whom I serve will give it scope. I am obliged to make this
reservation; for it is a rule that I have always acted upon, to suffer
no personal feeling whatever to interfere with my actions as a public
man. But I trust to your own good sense, to your own good feeling, to
preserve you from any position in which your interests would be
opposed to my duties."

Smeaton replied not to the Earl's last words, but inquired, in a tone
of real feeling,

"How did this sad story end?"

"Perhaps to my advantage," replied Lord Stair. "I recovered my
calmness and composure of mind; never my light gaiety of heart. My own
conscience acquitted me of any fault but boyish indiscretion; though
the memory of having taken a brother's life remained as a dark cloud
shading the too fervid heat of youth. I applied myself to intense
study. I learned to think when others are dreaming. I sought
abstraction from myself in the study of other men. I acquired in
boyhood the mind of a man. The stream might be small, indeed, for it
was not yet flooded by experience; but it was diverted from its
natural channel by the rocks and precipices which surrounded it. At
length, representations from my good tutor of the forced progress I
had made, his overpraise of my character, disposition, and abilities,
and his mild Christian expostulations against the injustice that was
shown me, had their effect; and, at the end of several years, I was
called back to my family. I returned with a feeling of dread and
anxiety, which was not without cause; for, though I was nominally
forgiven, I could see in all faces, I could hear in all tones, that
what I had done was not forgotten--that a chilling memory existed of
that dark accident, which extinguished all warm affection towards me.
An opportunity of escape from such an icy dwelling soon presented
itself, and I gladly seized it, by entering the army. Life was of
little value to me--less so than to most of my companions; my previous
studies gave me some advantages over them; and I became what I now am,
succeeding to my father's honours and estates, on his sudden and
somewhat mysterious death years ago. Wealth, power, and some share of
fame, have all been mine; but I can tell you, my Lord, that I would
sacrifice them all, fall back into obscurity, or even poverty, and
pursue a humble course of laborious and unknown exertion, in any
drudging profession, without a murmur, could I but blot out the past,
could I but find some breeze to waft away the one dark cloud that
hangs upon memory, could I but wash from my hand the stain of a
brother's blood, however innocently shed."

As he spoke, Lord Stair covered his eyes with his hands, and then came
a long silent pause. Smeaton knew not how to break it, except by
rising to depart; but the movement instantly called the Earl's
attention.

"Do not go," he said, "do not go. You must stay and sup with me. We
have other things to think of. I should wish to do something that
would be of service to you, or might be useful, in case of need; for
my mind foreshadows troublous times coming. But I must think of what
can be effected."

"I thank you most sincerely, my dear Lord," replied Smeaton, "but
assure you as sincerely that I do not propose to meddle with troublous
times, nor take part in troublous scenes."

"Propose!" echoed the Earl, with a faint smile. "How many things
affect the whole course of our existence, in ways which we never
proposed to our minds? Circumstances make man, more often than man
makes circumstances. Let no one answer for his actions, even of
to-morrow; for we may fearlessly affirm that he knows not what they
will be. It is well to be prepared for all."

He rose, and rang the bell, saying, when the servant appeared.

"Supper at the usual hour. This gentleman sups with me."

Then, resuming the conversation, he led it in a different course,
talking of many general subjects, and gradually regaining his ordinary
tone and manner.

"And now, my young friend," he said, at length, "to return to the
object of your coming; what of this business between my running
footman, Thomas Hardy, and young Newark, thrifty Sir John Newark's
son?"

"I do sincerely hope that your Lordship will dismiss him," replied
Smeaton, in an earnest tone, "not to satisfy or gratify me--no, nor
even to punish the ruffianly fellow himself, but for the repute and
honour of my noble friend, the Earl of Stair. If your Lordship had but
heard the comments of the crowd upon the insolence of noblemen's
servants, and especially of this man, who was recognized as yours, you
would see that this is no specious motive put forth to cover personal
anger. I punished the fellow on the spot for what he did to me; but
the crowd handled your Lordship's name rather roughly, on the
provocation given by him."

"I could swallow that easily," replied Lord Stair, with a somewhat
haughty curl of the lip; "but he is, as you have said, a ruffianly
fellow. He has broad shoulders, though, and stout limbs, makes his way
well through a crowd, and has no more fear than decency. Nevertheless,
you have justice on your side. I need hardly say he told his own story
before you came; but I detected its falsehood, even in his own
showing, reproved him for what he had done, and informed him I should
wait till I heard farther before I decided on my conduct. He has had
much practice in lying, but does not do it dexterously. He shall be
dismissed. Let us say no more on the subject. Look upon it as done,
and now, here is supper announced. We will forget all unpleasant
things, and I will endeavour to have one peaceful evening before I set
out. You have heard, of course, that I am going to take the chief
command in Scotland, till Argyle can be made available. Then, I
suppose, my destination will be France."

Thus saying, he led the way to a room on the ground floor, where
supper was prepared, and Smeaton's evening was passed in a very
different manner from that which he had anticipated in the morning.
The topics on which they had touched recurred no more. General
subjects were alone spoken of, and the only allusion to the fate or
fortunes of either was made by Lord Stair, when he promised to send
his guest, on the following day, a letter for a gentleman in the West,
who might be serviceable to him in case of need.

"You can present it or not, as you think fit," said the Earl; "but, at
all events, it will show that I look upon you as my friend, which, I
believe I am not too bold in supposing may prove a protection for you
against annoyance and suspicion, in case of any troubles arising in
the land."

Smeaton thanked him heartily, and thus they parted.

The Colonel remained for three days more in London; but I will not
here dwell upon his farther proceedings in the great city, before I
may have to speak of them hereafter as fully as their little
importance deserves.



CHAPTER V.

It was a bright and cheerful morning; and the scenery round Ale would
have been in its greatest beauty, had but one cloud floated in the sky
to chequer the landscape with moving light and shadow. But there was
not the slightest stain upon the heaven; and the sun in his hot noon,
was shining over the flat, waveless sea, and over brown, high-topped
hills and deep dells round about. The trees were in their rich
foliage, green and full; no speck of road side dust--no particle of
soot--smurched the pure leaves; and underneath their branches might be
found cool shade, and pure refreshing air, breathing lightly from the
sea.

There was a clump of ten or twelve beeches perched upon a little
knoll, overhanging the road which led to the nearest town from Ale
Manor and village. A few were decayed and hollowed out, leaving little
but the bark standing, with two or three long branches stretching
forth, and still bearing the verdant livery of youth, even in their
extreme old age. Others were in their vigorous prime, too regular and
rounded to be very picturesque; while one or two were in that state of
half-decay which casts this peculiar tree into the most fantastic
forms.

Sitting under one of those nearest to the road, from which it might be
distant about fifty yards, was Emmeline Newark. She was shaded from
the sun in the position which she had assumed, and, at the same time,
caught any wind that was stirring; for, blowing, as I have said, very,
very lightly from the sea, it came up the deep dell from Ale Bay and
along the course of the stream, seeming to pause, as if in sport,
amongst the beeches, and whirling round the wooded knoll. She had a
book in her hand; I know not well what it was; it might have been
Pope, or Addison, or any of those stars that were setting or rising
about that time--never mind a mixed metaphor, dear critic. She was in
one of her musing moods, however, and the book lay unnoticed on her
knee, as, leaning slightly on one side, with her shoulder supported
against the smooth bark of the beech, and her eyes peeping out from
under the branches towards the opposite hill and the blue sky above
it, she lay, rather than sat, in an attitude of exquisite grace.

The sun was very near the meridian, and his brightness would have been
oppressive to the eye, had it not been that the cool colouring of the
scene around, the green trees, the brown hills, and the grey rocks,
seemed to drink up the rays, or return them softened and mellowed to
the eye.

She had sat there some time, without seeing a living creature or a
moving thing, except a large bird of prey, which kept whirling in
immense circles far over head. But now a man on horseback, in the garb
of a servant, leading another horse by the bridle, passed slowly along
the road, without noticing her, and took his way up towards the old
Manor House. She gazed after him with that feeling of curiosity which
is generated by a solitary state of life. She marked him along the
road till it was lost in the wood, and, as she did so, some one on
foot was heard to pass along under the trees, as if coming up a very
steep path from the little village.

"It is Richard," she thought, peeping under the branches. "Poor boy!
he has not gained much during the last twelvemonths. He will be a
child all his life, I fear."

She then turned to the pages of her book, and began to read.
Suddenly the page grew somewhat dim; and she looked up, saying to
herself--"There are clouds coming over." But, though she could not
actually see the sun, the sky was bright and clear. She read on; but
the page grew more and more dim, till at length she could with
difficulty distinguish the words.

"A thunder storm must be coming," she thought, shutting the book and
rising to take her way home; but, on stepping from beneath the
branches of the old beech tree, not a cloud was to be seen upon the
sky. All was clear, though the light had diminished to the faintest
gleam of twilight; yet it did not resemble either the morning or the
evening light. There was no rosy glow, no golden tint, in east or
west; a dim grey shadow had spread over earth and sky; and Emmeline
could see here and there a star gleaming faintly in the deep concave
above, as if night had just fallen, while a dark shadow occupied the
place of the sun, with the exception of a narrow crescent of light
still remaining at one edge. A sudden and instinctive feeling of
terror seized her before reason had time to act. She knew not what she
feared; and yet this sudden darkness, this unexpected extinction, as
it were, of the great light of the heavens, seemed something very
awful. Her heart beat, and her breath came thick. The next instant,
however, she said to herself; "It is an eclipse. How strange and
wonderful! It is not surprising that men in other days looked upon
these things as portents. I could well nigh be superstitious myself
under that black sky at noon-day. The sun is now taking the form of a
ring of light, with a dark globe in the centre."

She paused to gaze upon it; and strange wandering thoughts came
through her mind, engrossing all her attention. She saw not that, from
the edge of the wood, behind and above her--where it stretched out
with a sort of spur upon the hill side, leaving a space of about two
hundred yards of clear soft turf, only broken by that knoll and clump
of beech trees between itself and the road--she saw not that there
stole quietly forth, first one figure, and then another, and, with
stealthy steps over the soft herbage, came creeping down towards her,
keeping the beeches between her and them. The light indeed was hardly
sufficient to show her their movements, even had not those trees
formed a sort of leafy screen; but, as it was, they were completely
hidden; and, not till their steps were close to her, was she aware
that she was not alone on the hill-side. She started at the sound of a
footfall, and turning round beheld two strangers with their faces
blackened. She would have run away towards the house; but, at the same
moment, one man caught her by the arm, and the other seized her
shoulder.

"_Parde, nous l'avons!_" cried one of them.

The other said nothing, but strove to draw her away in a different
direction from that of the house.

All the warnings she had received now flashed upon her memory; all the
terrors which Sir John Newark had instilled took possession of her in
full force; and, without pausing to question or remonstrate, she
screamed aloud for help, while the two men, in spite of her
resistance, forced her on in the path which they had chosen.

"They won't hear," said the one to the other, in French. "The wind
blows the other way. This eclipse was a lucky chance."

Still, however, Emmeline screamed; and the one who had as yet said
nothing put his hand over her mouth to smother her cries, whispering,
at the same time, but still in French, what seemed persuasions to come
quietly, and promises which she neither heard nor understood.

Freeing her lips, she screamed again and again; and then--oh, blessed
sound!--she heard the noise of a horse's feet upon the road.

"It is my guardian," she thought; and another long piercing cry
succeeded.

It caught the ear of the horseman on the road. He checked his horse,
and beheld by the light, which was becoming now more strong, two men
dragging a woman up the hill. There was a steep bank between the road
and the turf above; but he struck his spurs fiercely into his horse's
sides; and, with a straining effort, the fine powerful beast overcame
the obstacle, reached the turf, and sprang forward. Stretching out, as
if running a race, the horse, in a few seconds, brought him up to the
spot where Emmeline was, and even a little beyond it, before his
career could be checked. The latter circumstance, however, was
favourable; for it placed the rider between the men and the wood, and
also showed him, in passing, that they were determined to resist his
interference. As soon as they perceived that the intruder upon their
enterprise was alone, the swords of both were drawn; and one of them
said to the other, in a low voice, and in French,

"Keep him off, while I take her on. Three hundred yards farther, and
we shall be within hail of the boat's crew."

But the stranger was not so easily to be disposed of. His horse was
wheeled rapidly; his sword was out of the sheath in a moment; and in
another instant he was upon the two men, from whom Emmeline was
struggling hard to free herself. As if he at once divined their plan,
he suffered the one who had let go his hold of the lady to advance,
sword in hand, and aim a blow at him, unreturned, merely making his
horse swerve to avoid it; and, pressing hard upon the other, who still
held the poor girl in his strong grasp, he forced him to turn and
defend himself. The rescuer was obliged to play a wary game, however;
for the other man ran up behind, as if to strike him from his horse;
but, practised in every military exercise, although the animal he rode
had never been trained in the _manège_, he governed his steed with
perfect ease with the hand and heel, wheeling him now upon one, now
upon the other, parrying a blow here, aiming a blow there; and, in the
end, compelled the one who had still the young lady in his grasp, to
quit his hold in self-defence.

At the same moment, the loud deep barking of a large dog was heard;
and one glance showed the gentleman on horseback an enormous hound,
followed quickly by a human figure, running over the hill towards them
from the lower wood in which the road seemed to lose itself.

The same sight met Emmeline's eye also; and, finding herself free, she
sprang forward towards the new comer; but, exhausted with struggling
and with terror, she fell upon the green turf before she had gone
twenty yards.

"Run, run, Matthew!" cried the man who had last retained his grasp of
Emmeline, still speaking in French; and then, with one of the
blasphemous and horrid oaths of which that language has a copious
vocabulary, he added; "She has escaped us! Through the wood and by the
path round at the back! I will show you the way down the cliff."

Thus saying, he turned to fly with his companion; but still he retired
with a sort of sturdy cautiousness, stopping short every ten or twelve
paces, and turning round, ready for defence. The stranger, however,
seemed in no degree disposed to follow him. His object was
accomplished in freeing a lady from the hands of two ruffians; he had
no knowledge of the circumstances; and, after pausing for an instant
to make sure that the scoundrels had no intention of returning, he
sprang from his horse and approached the poor girl, who was now
raising herself upon her arm.

"I hope you are not hurt, madam," he said. "Do not be alarmed. The
villains have fled, and will not return in a hurry, I think. At all
events, I have marked one of them, so that we shall know him in time
to come."

"Oh, thank you, thank you! How much I owe you, sir!" was all that
Emmeline could utter. At the same time, the great deerhound rushed
forward as if to spring at the stranger; but, with that peculiar and
marvellous instinct by which dogs of a noble race distinguish friends
from foes, he suddenly checked himself in full career, dropped his
tail and ears, and, turning from him with a shy and wary glance, as if
yet not quite satisfied, approached the lady and licked her hand,
fixing his large bright eyes upon her face.

"Let me assist you to rise," said the stranger, offering Emmeline his
hand; "here comes some one under whose protection, doubtless, you can
be quite safe. Ha, my young friend, Richard Newark! You have made your
appearance to help us just at the happy moment."

The young lad caught his hand and shook it heartily, exclaiming:

"What is the matter? What is the matter? I heard Emmeline screaming,
and saw you fighting with two men, and just slashing one of them upon
the forehead. Why, what a gay coat you've got on! You were dressed in
brown in London."

"If it had not been for this gentleman's assistance," said Emmeline,
rising slowly, "I should have been carried away, I know not
whither--over the seas, I think; for they talked of a boat."

"Ay, he always comes up to help people when they are in need," replied
the lad, gazing with a look of affectionate regard at Smeaton. "This
is the gentleman, Emmeline, who came and made a jelly of the big
footman who knocked me down. There are some people that have the luck
of it. I should like to do such things too; but I am always too late.
I came out to meet him; for his servant and baggage arrived a minute
or two ago; but I thought he would come along the road, else I should
have been upon the hill-side in time. That brute, Brian, too, ran
after a hare; and I sat down and reasoned with him, asking him if it
were decent, in a gentleman of his high degree, to run after small
game like that. He was too much ashamed of himself to make any answer;
but he lifted up his great hairy nose, and wagged his tail, as much as
to say, 'Don't talk any more about it.' Carried you away, Emmeline!"
he continued, in his rambling manner. "Where could they want to carry
you? They did not hurt you, did they?"

"They pinched my wrists till they will be black and blue, I am sure,"
replied Emmeline, simply. "But we had better make haste to the house,"
she continued, "for there may be more of them." Then turning, with a
graceful inclination, to Smeaton, while she leaned upon Richard's arm,
she added, "My guardian, Sir John Newark, will be most grateful to
you, sir, as I am; for, had it not been for your courage and kindness,
a scheme, against which he has often warned me, would probably have
proved successful, notwithstanding all his precaution."

"I am more than sufficiently rewarded by having rendered you a
service," replied Smeaton, in a very common-place tone; but the next
instant he fell into a fit of musing, which was only interrupted by
young Newark exclaiming, with a laugh--

"I would sooner do a day's work at digging, under a hot sun, than
have to catch your horse on this hill side. He'll be at Exeter before
to-morrow morning. Talking of the sun, Emmeline, did you ever see
anything look so funny as that great shining gentleman did just
now--just as if he were sick of a surfeit. He's not much better yet,
and looks black enough at the world, though he has now got a
cocked-hat of light set on one side of his head. Old Barbara tells me
it is an eclipse, and that it's all very curious. She saw one just
like it, in the reign of King William, of blessed memory, when all the
birds went to roost, and the pigs hid their heads in the straw. I
think it more disagreeable than curious. But look! he has caught his
horse! He'll catch anything or anybody--perhaps you, my pretty bird,
before he has done."

A slight blush came upon Emmeline's face.

"Where are your wits rambling, Richard?" she said. "You should have
helped him, Richard."

"Should I?" said the boy, with a start. "I am sorry I did not, then;
for I would willingly help him in anything. He is a fine fellow; but I
never know what I ought to do, Emmeline. So you must tell me, while he
is here."

"Does your father expect him?" asked Emmeline. "He never mentioned it
to me."

"Expects him as sure as he does Christmas," replied the lad; "but,
like a wise man as he is, he held his tongue, knowing the quality of
expectation, which, like a bad sword-blade, breaks through the middle
when you most rely on it.

"That is not your own, Dick," observed Emmeline, smiling. "You have
borrowed it from some one."

"Stole it, dear Emmy," returned Richard, laughing; "pilfered it from a
player in a lace jacket, who strutted about, periwigged, in a barn at
Putney last year, and called himself Her Majesty's Servant. But here
comes Colonel Smeaton again, with his horse in tow, as the fishermen
say. How I should like to be a colonel! I wonder if I shall ever be a
colonel, Emmy?"

Before the young lady could answer, Smeaton had rejoined them, and now
walked by their side towards the house. He had cast off his fit of
musing, and conversed with his two young companions gaily and easily,
from time to time asking Emmeline questions in regard to the shameful
attack which had been made on her, and endeavouring to ascertain if
she had any knowledge of the persons concerned, or the motives by
which they were actuated. She was obliged to confess her ignorance,
however, merely telling him that her guardian had often warned her
that such an attempt was likely, but had entered into no explanations.

It seemed now to have become Richard Newark's turn to muse; and they
had very nearly reached the house before he opened his lips. Then,
looking up suddenly, he brought forth the fruit of his meditation.

"I've been thinking, Smeaton," he said, "whether we ought not to get
all the servants together, and see if we cannot catch these
kidnappers."

"They are gone, I am afraid, beyond recall," answered Smeaton,
gravely.

"Not they," cried the boy. "They cannot get away except by the river,
and we can stop them at the mouth. They took the path up to the top of
Ale Head; and, unless they have got wings, they cannot get down there.
If I unchain the bloodhound and put him on the scent, he'll find them
out for us in a minute."

"Nay, don't, Richard," said Emmeline. "You must not leave the house
without defence; for no one can tell how many there may be."

Neither did Smeaton give any encouragement to the boy's proposal. He
looked grave and thoughtful; and the matter seemed to drop of itself.
The three entered the house together; and Emmeline led the way into
the smaller saloon, where Sir John Newark was accustomed to sit in the
morning. While, with a timid grace, Emmeline was performing the
various offices of hospitality towards Smeaton, Richard Newark slipped
quietly out of the room, hurried to the great courtyard, and ran
towards an immense bloodhound, which was chained to a kennel near the
stable-door. The beast bounded up on his hind legs, tugging at his
chain, to caress his young master, who, kneeling down unceremoniously
in the dirt, threw one arm about the hound's thick throat, and, while
the animal licked his face all over, struggled to unfasten the chain
from the collar.

"Don't unchain the dog, Master Richard," said a groom from the stable.
"He'll hurt some one, if you don't mind."

"That is just what I want him to do, Bill," replied the lad. "You come
along with me. Two men have been trying to carry off Emmeline; and
Brian, who hunts by eye, was of no use."

"Have they got her, then?" cried the man, starting forward.

"No, no. Colonel Smeaton came up and broke their noddles," replied
Richard; "but I want to catch them. So I have left the three--that is
to say, the lady, the colonel, and the dog--in the house, and have
come for old Bellmouth, here, to help me. You come along with me,
Bill, and make haste. We'll put the hound upon their steps. Then, if
he tears them to pieces, it's their affair and his, not mine."

As he spoke, he took his way out of the gates, the dog bounding on
before. The groom caught up a stout stick and followed, asking his
young master a number of questions, to which he got no satisfactory
answer. By the shortest way, partly through the wood, and partly over
the hill-side, young Richard Newark soon reached the spot where he had
seen Emmeline on first being alarmed by her cries. Here, thrusting the
dog's nose to the ground with both his hands, he cried,

"Seek, Bellmouth, seek!"

The enormous brute snuffed round and round, for a moment, without any
other noise but the snorting of his nostrils as they were pressed upon
the turf; and then the lad called him forward, a few paces higher up,
still repeating the cry--

"Seek, Bellmouth, seek!"

The dog obeyed, moving hither and thither, still keeping its muzzle to
the ground--and, at length, with a loud yell, sprang forward in the
exact direction which the men had taken. Richard Newark and the groom
followed as fast as their feet would carry them, cheering on the dog
with loud cries; but, dashing away without a fault, he soon
outstripped them, giving tongue from time to time, as if to lead them
on. He took his course straight through the spur of wood, over the
brown hill beyond, and up in a direct line towards the top of Ale
Head. The two pursuers caught sight of him again, as soon as they had
passed the wood, rushing in a straight line towards the crags; and the
groom remarked,

"We shall catch them now, Master Richard, or the dog will have them
into the sea."

The moment after, however, the dog disappeared; for Ale Head, before
it breaks off into the abrupt rocky promontory which actually beetles
over the waters, is capped, as it were, with a rise in the ground,
from which the turf slopes down to the edge of the cliff. So that what
was beyond that highest point, and between it and the precipice, could
not be seen. On reaching the top, the dog was not visible; but they
heard a loud baying from some distance below; and Richard Newark ran
forward to the edge of the cliff, while the groom exclaimed--"For
God's sake, take care, Master Richard!" and followed with greater
caution.

When they gained the edge, however, what had taken place became
visible. On a point of rock, close above the water, and reached by an
exceedingly narrow path, broken, irregular, covered with loose stones,
and interrupted by chasms, which, to an eye above or below, seemed
impassable, stood the large bloodhound, baying with a furious
disappointed bark, mingled with a sort of shrill whine; while, at the
distance of about half a mile from the point, was seen a small boat
rowing towards a cutter-rigged vessel lying-to about a couple of miles
from the coast.

Richard Newark had paused suddenly at the edge of the cliff, and
remained perfectly silent; but the groom, when he came up,
exclaimed--"They have got off, sir! We are too late."

"Ay," said the lad, in a thoughtful tone, "they must have known the
place well, Bill. I did not think there was a man in England knew that
way down, except myself and young Jemmie Harrison, the fisherman's
son. It is not the first time they have been here. Here, Bellmouth!
Mind your footing, old boy. It's the first time you ever were down
there, and you've got no map."

It was some time before he could induce the dog to quit his station on
the rock below and begin the ascent. Perhaps the animal did not hear
the voice from above at that great distance; but assuredly he saw his
young master looking over; for, from time to time, he raised his head
towards him, with an angry howl, as if to intimate that the object of
their chase had escaped. At length, however, he began to ascend; and,
with difficulty, and not, apparently, without fear, for his steps were
slow and uncertain, he made his way up to the top of the precipice
again, and then gave himself a great and satisfactory shake, and
looked up in Richard's face. The boy patted his head, but said
nothing, and took his way back to the house in silence.



CHAPTER VI.

From the groom to the stable-boy, from the stable-boy to the
kitchen-maid, from maid to maid and man to man, by housekeeper
and old butler, the tale proceeded, till every lad and lass and old
blue-bottle in the family had heard that two men had seized upon
Emmeline, and had only been prevented from carrying her off to a ship
near the coast by the timely arrival and the gallant daring of Colonel
Henry Smeaton, a gentleman well known to Sir John and Master Richard.
True, the story suffered many variations in its course. It was
embellished and improved, and gained, at every stage, as the
play-bills have it, "new scenery, dresses, and decorations." A great
degree of confusion, too, prevailed as usual, in the way in which it
was told. One of the maids in relating it to the housekeeper, either
by the confusion of her own ideas or the inaccuracy of her language,
made Brian, the stag-hound, act a very important and unusual part for
a dog.

"Just at that moment, ma'am," she said, "Brian came rushing up; and,
with his sword in his hand, he cut one of the men a great gash across
the forehead."

"Good gracious!" cried the housekeeper, in considerable alarm and
surprise at this strange phenomenon; "how came Brian by a sword?"

"Lawk, ma'am! I meant the gentleman," said the maid. "He cut the man
upon the head just as the dog came up."

We cannot, however, dwell upon all these variations. They were numerous
and not uninteresting; but we have other things to do. Suffice it to
say, all agreed in the general facts that Emmeline had been attacked
and rescued, that Master Richard, and Bill, the under-groom, with
Bellmouth, the bloodhound, had pursued the assailants to the very top of
Ale Head, but that the latter had contrived to get into their boat and
put to sea. One of the men, who had been long in the family and knew Sir
John Newark's propensity to gather as speedily as possible all the
details of what took place in the house during his absence--a quiet,
thoughtful, secret sort of man--walked out leisurely along the road as
soon as he had collected all the facts, knowing well that his master
would not be long ere he returned from the neighbouring town to which he
had gone in the morning. He met him sooner than he expected, indeed; not
more than a mile and a half from the house. Sir John was evidently
anxious and in haste; for he was keeping his horse and his attendants,
three or four in number, at a very quick trot, even against the breast
of the hill. The man ventured to stop him, however; and the first words
of the knight were--

"The lady--Emmeline? There has been a strange sail seen off the
coast."

"Ay, Sir John," answered the man; "and they had very near carried her
off. Two of the men got hold of her, your worship, not far from the
house either; but just then a gentleman, coming to visit you--one
Colonel Seaton, or Smeaton, or something of that kind--heard her
screams as he was riding along the road, galloped up, and set her
free. They say he cut one of the men terribly across the head. At
least, so Master Richard told me; for he was running to help her too,
and saw the fight, as they did not give the matter up without a tough
struggle."

"Thank God, she is safe!" said Sir John Newark. And, though the
motives which produced this pious exclamation might have been of a
somewhat mixed nature, he certainly did seem to rejoice sincerely.

Pushing his horse on, even faster than before, he rode with great
rapidity to the house, sprang from his horse's back like a young man,
and hurried into the small saloon, where he heard voices speaking.

The whole party within were laughing and talking gaily; but the
agitation and anxiety on Sir John's countenance at once showed them
that he had heard of the events, which they themselves had nearly
forgotten in pleasant conversation, and made Emmeline feel grateful
for the deep and affectionate interest which he seemed to take in her
safety. He shook Smeaton warmly by the hand, saying,

"You have rendered me an inestimable service, Colonel Smeaton, and
added to all I owe you for the gallant defence of my son. I learn,
too, from London, that Lord Stair has, at your demand, dismissed from
his service the ruffian who struck the boy. So it seems you are not
only our good angel, but a very powerful angel too."

"My dear sir, you overwhelm me," replied Smeaton, laughing. "I have no
more merit in the matter than a man who, favoured by good luck, picks
up a purse and restores it to its right owner. As for Lord Stair, I
made a point of seeing him immediately; and, upon due representation
of the man's conduct, vouched for by my word of honour, his own sense
of justice induced him to dismiss him, without any threat or means of
compulsion whatsoever. It seems the Earl was an intimate friend of my
late father in early years; and that consideration, indeed, might in
some degree have influenced him. I trust this fair lady will escape
further danger, whatever may be the cause of the attack made upon her;
and we were considering just now what would be the best means of
protection for her, without subjecting her to the sort of captivity to
which she seems inclined to condemn herself, for the faults of others.
Your son was proposing for her guards a brace of fierce mastiffs, to
go with her wherever she goes; but I contend that he should be, at
least, one of her guards himself; and I doubt not, now he has left
school, you will arm him with a sword in so good a cause."

Smeaton spoke jokingly; but Sir John Newark looked somewhat grave.

"I am afraid," he remarked, "Richard would not know how to manage a
sword. He has never learned to fence."

"Let me have the honour of teaching him," said Smeaton. "I will answer
for it, that, in one week, I will make him a very fair swordsman,
whether it be with the small sword, the broad sword, or any other
weapon of the kind. I have always been reckoned the most expert in my
regiment at those exercises."

Sir John was evidently well pleased, and the boy delighted.

"I trust that he will have the benefit of your kind tuition for more
than one week," said the former; "and it is certainly advisable that
he should accompany his cousin, whenever she goes any distance from
the house. But surely, Colonel Smeaton, you have not come all this way
from London, to spend but a week in our rural scenes?"

"Oh, no," replied Smeaton. "I shall remain in this part of the
country, I dare say, for six weeks; but I cannot intrude upon your
hospitality for so long a period."

"If you quit our house one day before," exclaimed Sir John, warmly,
"we shall conclude that you think our hospitality very cold, or our
house very dull."

His manner was so sincere, and he pressed his invitation so heartily,
that Smeaton accepted it without much hesitation, and again turned the
conversation to young Richard Newark, pointing out the advantage it
would be to him, especially in the somewhat unsettled state of the
country, to learn various manly exercises early.

"They might be of great service," he said, "both to him and to you,
Sir John. As I came through Dorchester, I saw two of the magistrates
of the town taken to the pump in the market-place, and pumped upon
till they were well nigh drowned, because they would not cry 'High
Church and Sacheverel for ever!' Their cowardly lackeys ran away and
left them to their fate; and I did not feel myself called upon to
interfere; but I am convinced that one man, with a little knowledge of
horsemanship and the spadroon, would have dispersed the whole mob, and
saved their worships a wetting."

"It served them right for their thickheadedness," said Sir John
Newark, laughing; "and I can easily guess that you did not find
yourself called upon to interfere. Your observations are none the less
just, however, Colonel Smeaton; and I will send to Axminster,
to-morrow, for a good light sword for Richard. My own are all too
heavy."

"Pardon me," said Smeaton. "I will supply him with a very serviceable
weapon, and as light as he could wish. It was manufactured for the
late Duke of Burgundy, when about your son's age, and fell into my
hands by accident. It is with the remainder of my baggage, which will
be here to-night or to-morrow. You shall get him the less deadly
weapons--a pair of fencing-foils, masks, and spadroons; for we must be
mindful of the old proverb, and not jest with edged tools."

"There, Richard, you are at the height of your ambition," said
Emmeline, to the lad, while Sir John was pouring forth thanks upon
Smeaton; "but I suppose, dear boy, with you, as with others, the
ambition of to-day will not be the ambition of to-morrow; for that
same steep ascent of ambition, the poets tell us, is like the
mountains losing their heads in the sky, where we go on climbing,
never thinking ourselves sufficiently high till we are above the
earth. But what is the matter with you, Richard? You look sad!"

"I do not know why it is, Emmy, dear; but great kindness always seems
to make me sad," replied Richard in a low tone. "If I were with that
man always, I believe I should soon be a man myself. But I fear that
will never be," he added with a sigh. "I feel myself so much younger
than other boys of my own years; and I cannot get things into my head
as they do. This noddle must have some crack in it, Emmy, to let the
thoughts fly out of it as fast as they fly in. It is no better than an
old pigeon-house."

"Hush, hush! You must not think so," said Emmeline. "You will do very
well, Richard, if you will but attend and be a little less heedless."

"I cannot attend," said the boy. "I never could; and I am less
heedless than you think, Emmeline."

Then, leaving her, he went up to Smeaton's side, as he stood talking
with Sir John near the window, and, laying his hand upon the Colonel's
arm, said, with all the eager impatience of a Child, "When shall I
have the sword?"

"To-night or to-morrow," replied Smeaton, with a smile; "but, before
you wear it, you must learn how to use it. The first time that you can
parry three lunges running, you will be fit to wear the sword."

The boy seemed satisfied, and left the room. The conversation between
the master of the house, Smeaton, and Emmeline, then turned for a few
minutes to other subjects, such as the eclipse, the beauty of the
scenery, the agitated state of the country; but gradually worked
itself round to the strange attack which had been made upon Emmeline.
Sir John asked both her and Smeaton a number of questions as to the
appearance and height of the men, what they had said, and whether she
had seen them long before they seized her. As to their appearance,
Emmeline could give very little information; but Smeaton described
them more accurately, saying:

"One was nearly as tall as myself; and it struck me that I had seen
him somewhere before--perhaps in France or Spain; but he was cleverly
disguised, his hair or a wig brought far over his face, and an
enormous cravat tied in front. He will not be able to disguise himself
so easily again, I think; for, though I only contrived to reach him
with the point of my sword, it scored his forehead pretty deeply, as I
felt it grate upon the bone."

Emmeline gave a slight shudder; and Smeaton added:

"Pardon me, dear lady, for speaking of such horrible subjects; but
what I did, depend upon it, was necessary; for they seemed two
desperate ruffians, determined not to give up their object without
bloodshed. I trust they will never repeat the attempt."

"I think they will not," replied Sir John Newark, musing. "They have
had a lesson. But they must have been well informed; for, if the
fishermen had been at home, they would not have dared to land. All the
men have gone round the point, however; and the wind would not serve
to bring them back speedily, even if the appearance of a strange
vessel had excited suspicion. I heard of her coming upon the coast
this morning, when I was ten or twelve miles distant; and I hastened
back with all speed."

"Then had you any cause for alarm?" asked Smeaton.

"Oh, no, not particularly," replied Sir John, with a certain degree of
embarrassment; and then immediately added--"But let me show you the
apartments prepared for you, Colonel Smeaton. Everything is ready, I
know, though, fearful of any disappointment, I would not give my fair
ward the hope of a great pleasure of which she might be deprived."

With this courteous speech, he led the way out of the room, leaving
Emmeline musing, and not altogether satisfied.

There is a feature in insincerity which always betrays itself. I know
not well in what it lies, this error of demeanour, which shows us that
there is something very different flowing on under an apparently calm
and clear stream of conversation. But so it has ever been; and it is
hardly possible to deceive any one well practised in the world's ways,
as to the ingenuousness or disingenuousness of the persons with whom
he is brought into contact. The object may not be discerned; the
thoughts, the passions, the motives, the wishes, the plans, may all
remain hidden; but what we see is that the surface and the depth are
different.

In the present instance, however, I must add, for the reader's
information, that, in many respects, Sir John Newark's words and
demeanour towards Smeaton were sincere. He was truly glad to see him
at Ale Manor; he was unaffectedly grateful to him both for delivering
Emmeline and for defending his son; he was really anxious, also, that
he should remain for some time at Ale Manor. But yet a good deal was
concealed; and Smeaton, perceiving this last fact, doubted, in some
degree, all the rest. At all events, he said to himself,

"That is not a sincere man. It is clear that what the people in London
told me of him is true."

Every care and attention had been bestowed upon the preparations for
Smeaton's comfort; two rooms in Ale Manor had been arranged for him;
for the house had abundant space for its inmates; and the good
old-fashioned furniture, ponderous but convenient, had been freshly
dusted and arranged, the windows thrown open, and free air and sunshine
admitted, so that the whole bore a cheerful and pleasant look. The
outer chamber had been arranged as a sort of sitting-room; the inner
contained an enormous four-post bed, with blue velvet hangings; and
the small quantity of baggage, which Smeaton had sent on with his
servant, was already deposited in the first chamber, and spread out
ready for his use. A hand-bell stood upon the table; and, on
introducing him into his apartment, Sir John observed,

"I am sorry to say that, in this part of the house, there are no bells
hung, but your servant has been placed on the opposite side of the
court, so that, by just opening the casement at any time, you can
summon him by that instrument on the table."

Thus saying, he left him, giving him notice of the hour of dinner,
which was now approaching; and, even before proceeding to change his
traveller's dress, Smeaton sat down in one of the large easy chairs,
to meditate over his present situation and his prospects.

I shall not pause, however, to analyze his thoughts, but carry him at
once to the dining-room. Nor will I dwelt upon an English dinner of
the olden time, though it had curious features. Suffice it that it
passed pleasantly, and that Smeaton's easy manners and varied
conversation soon removed from the mind of Emmeline the feeling of
restraint produced by freshness of acquaintance. As soon as dinner was
over she rose and retired. Richard Newark did the same, for there were
yet many hours of daylight left, and his rambling habits seldom
suffered him to remain long in any one spot. Sir John Newark pressed
the wine upon his guest, according to the fashion of the day, but
Smeaton announced at once his very moderate habits, saying that he
feared the school in which he had been brought up did not qualify him
to compete with Englishmen in the use of the bottle. He had remarked,
too, that during dinner Sir John Newark, while conversing with the
utmost apparent frankness, had dropped in questions with regard to
foreign countries and to Smeaton's own adventures, which he could not
help thinking had a sinister object. He was, therefore, in some
degree, upon his guard; but he soon found that his companion knew more
than he had imagined.

During the space of about five minutes after the dessert was set upon
the table, one or other of the servants came in from time to time, to
put more wine on the _buffet_, to carry away this piece of plate or
that; but, when the last of them departed, and the door seemed finally
closed, Sir John Newark stretched himself back in his chair, and said,
with a very peculiar smile,

"Now, my dear Lord, we shall be able to talk more at our ease, though
I suppose it will be better for me to keep up the habit of treating
you as Colonel Smeaton, rather than as the Earl of Eskdale?"

Whatever he might feel, Smeaton did not suffer the slightest look of
surprise to come upon his countenance. In truth, no sooner had he
heard that Bolingbroke had named him to Sir John Newark, than he came
to the conclusion that his present worthy host had acquired a great
deal of true, and probably a great deal of false, information
concerning him. He was not, however, very anxious to correct any false
impressions that Sir John Newark might have received; for there were
various reasons which induced him to wish that the notions of the
knight regarding him should be as vague and undefined as possible, and
he was well aware that nothing serves to puzzle and confuse the minds
of very shrewd and cunning people so much as half knowledge. It is
worse than ignorance, for it encumbers the ground. He was resolved,
then, on his part, neither to tell nor explain any thing; but to let
Sir John pursue his own course, and make any assumptions which he
chose.

After a moment's seeming consideration, Smeaton said, "Perhaps, Sir
John, it would be better to avoid my title both in public and in
private. The name of Colonel Smeaton gives me quite as much dignity as
I can well carry in this country, for the time being."

"Lord Bolingbroke informs me--and I was very sorry to hear it,"
continued Sir John Newark, after a pause to consider how he should
pursue the attack, "that her Ladyship was very unwell when he wrote."

"She was so when I left her," replied Smeaton. "But my last letters
informed me she was much better. Otherwise, I should not have ventured
to protract my stay in this country."

Let it be remarked that Smeaton hesitated for a moment, at the very
first word of the sentence which I have just reported. The original
expression which first sprang to his lips, was "My mother;" but, for
some reason, he changed it to the words _she_; and, after pausing for
an instant, he added,

"Pray, what did Lord Bolingbroke say of her health?"

Sir John Newark took a letter from his pocket, and read as follows:

"The Countess of Eskdale has been very unwell, nearly at death's door.
Otherwise, she would have gone over to England too, I doubt not; for
they have some lands to claim, and other matters to settle, which
might require her presence also. However, she was too ill to go and
perhaps it is quite as well that she should not go, as it would only
have embarrassed his proceedings."

Smeaton listened quietly while this was read, and then only observed,
somewhat drily, that the noble Lord had taken more interest in his
affairs than he had been aware of.

"I have had later letters," he added, "since then, and am happy to say
that all danger is past."

"Then do you think," demanded Sir John Newark, "that her Ladyship is
likely to come over?"

"Assuredly not," replied Smeaton. "She would not venture upon such a
journey, without my company and protection."

Whatever there might be in this conversation of a satisfactory kind,
and in whatever degree it might affect Sir John Newark personally,
certain it is that it had considerable effect upon him. He seemed more
frank and free in his whole demeanour from that moment; to put a
greater degree of confidence and trust in his guest; and even to be
more anxious for his prolonged stay. He had been everything that was
courteous before; but now he was warm and pressing.

I need not detail all that look place farther that night. The
potations of the host and his guest were neither deep nor strong; and
the dinner closed with a walk through the park and neighbourhood in
the bright evening air, rather than with bottle upon bottle, as was
too much the custom in those days.

Emmeline was not to be found at the moment they set out; Richard
was rambling, no one knew where; and, during the course of their
_tête-à-tête_ walk, Sir John Newark tried hard, and not unsuccessfully,
to converse agreeably on indifferent subjects with his young guest. He
himself seemed delighted with the Earl's whole demeanour and
conversation; and, before the hour of repose, he had found a moment to
tell Emmeline that Colonel Smeaton was one of the most charming and
distinguished men in the world, laughingly adding,

"You must not fall in love with him, however, my dear child; for he is
a married man."

Nothing could have been a greater relief to the mind of Emmeline than
this announcement; for she was just at that age when an instinctive
inclination to fly from those who are likely to pursue seizes upon the
heart of woman; when a dread of the new and undeveloped sensations
which are soon to take possession of her makes her shrink shyly and
timidly from all that can give them birth. It is only when woman, in
very early life, at least, can say to herself, as Emmeline now thought
she could say, in regard to Smeaton, "There is no danger with him,"
that she is in peril of rushing rashly into love. Love is like all
great things, affecting us with awe when we first see it from a
distance, but soon growing familiar by habit and near approach.

Brought up in perfect seclusion, with few of her own sex to converse
with, having none whom she could look upon as a companion, acquainted
with no one near her own age, or with those feelings which produce
harmony between mind and mind, often bewildered, as I have shown, by
her own thoughts, and longing to pour them forth, she was ready--I
must not say, she longed, because there was no premeditation--to give
her whole confidence, with the guileless heart of youth, to any one
who seemed to seek it worthily.

Sir John Newark could be no companion for her. True, he was not
without abilities and powers of conversation; but all his thoughts
were different from hers. He was a complete man of realities; and, if
he had any thing like imagination or fancy at all, the only purpose to
which he could dream of applying such faculties was to the devising of
schemes for the promotion of his own interest or ambition. There was
something about him, too, she knew not well what--perhaps it might be
this very difference of thought and character, this want of harmony
between their two minds--but still there was something which forbade
confidence. It was not so with Smeaton. Even in his look there seemed
to her a very winning expression. His clear hazel eyes, not without
fire, nor even keenness, appeared to beam with high and generous soul;
and, in his whole demeanour and carriage, was that sort of chivalrous
aspect which had generally, in former days, distinguished the party
called Cavaliers; with a slight touch of their free and careless
gaiety, but no appearance of their reckless licentiousness. There were
moments, as we have shown, when he could be calm, thoughtful, and
grave enough; but the general tone of his conversation was gay, and
even playful, with no touch of satire or _persiflage_--one of the
great vices of the day. Much dignity, at times, was evident, but never
any haughtiness of demeanour. It gave one the idea that, confident in
himself, satisfied with his own position, accustomed in all things to
decide rapidly, and habituated from youth to act with ease and grace
in any circumstances, he was never thinking at all of himself or his
own manner; and that always gives an additional elegance. It was all,
evidently, unstudied; and, assuredly, when fair Emmeline lay down to
sleep that night, she not only thought Smeaton one of the handsomest
and most agreeable men she had ever seen, but, lurking at her heart,
was a conviction that, of all beings on earth to whom she could pour
out her thoughts freely, such a man would be the foremost.

Nevertheless, she slept soon, and she slept well. Nothing in the
slightest degree agitated her feelings. She was not even the least
little bit in love with him; and, though, towards morning, a dream
visited her pillow which disturbed her much, and from which she awoke
with a beating heart, it was only memory re-enacting, with very slight
variations, the scene of the preceding day, in which she had been
seized by strangers, and rescued by Smeaton.

The same sensations, perhaps increasing a little in power, went on
during the next three days. She became, of course, more intimate with
her guardian's guest, lost the timidity and restraint of first
acquaintance, laughed and talked with him easily, and saw, or thought
she saw, more of his mind and character; and every thing she _did_ see
only tended to strengthen her first impressions. But during those
three days she was never alone with him, even for a moment. Sir John
Newark was always present, and his presence--it is a curious fact, but
so it was--always checked anything like free and confiding intercourse
in whatever society he might happen to be. Man has his instincts, as
well as the brute creation, and it seemed to be by instinct that
people felt Sir John Newark was not to be trusted.

On the day after Smeaton's arrival, the whole party rode over to a
town in the neighbourhood, to purchase what was needed for the
instruction which Smeaton had promised to give Richard Newark. The gay
exercise, the free air, the little occupations of an hour, all made it
a pleasant ride; and the morning passed over easily enough, although
there was a little bustle and excitement in the town, caused by the
apprehension of a man for drinking the health of King James the Third,
which was construed into a treasonable act by the worthy magistrates
of the place. Their reading of the law, indeed, did not seem much to
please the people, who made more than one attempt to rescue the
prisoner; but magistrates, in other parts of the country, went
somewhat farther, and were known to commit a man for refusing publicly
to drink the health of King George. It is strange, that some of the
most tyrannical acts upon record have accompanied every movement in
behalf of liberty.

On the return of the party to Ale Manor, they found that the rest of
Smeaton's baggage had arrived; and, reading the lad's eagerness in his
eyes, Smeaton hastened to the room where it had been deposited, and
took from a long coffer, which formed one of the packages, a very
beautiful sword, light, and easily wielded, with a richly chased hilt
of silver and gold intermixed. Carrying it in his hand back to the
little saloon in which Richard Newark was still waiting, as if
anticipating his intention, the young Earl presented him with the
weapon, saying, in a jesting tone, but with some earnestness of
words--

"Here, my young friend, I give you a sword which once belonged to a
great prince; but I must exact from you a promise, such as was exacted
from the knights of old, that you will never draw it, except in the
defence of a cause which you think just and righteous; for, depend
upon it, if you do, though the blade is of the finest steel, and of
the highest temper, it will snap asunder in your grasp."

The boy caught his hand, and kissed it; and Smeaton went on, more
lightly, saying--

"To-morrow, you shall have your first lesson in the art of using it."

"Oh, let me come and see," cried Emmeline, eagerly.

"Nay, I must refuse you," answered Smeaton. "Every one is awkward in
his first essays, and you must not see your young cousin exhibit till
he is somewhat of a master in the art of fence. Am I not right, Sir
John?"

"Perfectly, perfectly," replied Sir John Newark. "You must content
yourself, Emmeline, with listening to the stamping, only thankful if
it does not bring the old house down; for I can assure you an _assaut
d'armes_ is no joke in a peaceable dwelling."

The lesson was given, and certainly Richard Newark was awkward enough;
but he was proud and pleased, and the rest of that second day was
spent in rides about the country. The third day passed much in the
same manner, without any event of note; but, as the proceedings of the
fourth day will require somewhat more detail, I shall reserve them for
the following chapter.



CHAPTER VII.

An old Norman church, built in the earliest style of that fine but
somewhat heavy architecture, stands about five miles from Ale Head and
Bay, upon the slope of a gentle hill, with many other hills around it.
It is a large structure for the present population of the adjacent
country, if one may judge from the appearance of the land immediately
round. The hill is part of a long range of downs, undivided by
enclosure, and covered by short dry sward, very much like that which
spreads over Ale Head itself. No trees are to be seen as far as the
eye can reach, except, indeed, two old yew trees standing close to the
church, and, probably, planted there by Saxon hands long before the
first stone of the present edifice was laid. So close are they,
indeed, that the long branches of one of them wave against the
mouldings of one of the deep round arched windows, and would, in
stormy weather, break the lozenges of the casement were they not kept
under by the pruning-knife or shears. A piece of ground is taken in
from the hill to form the burial-ground, and is surrounded by a low
wall, with only one entrance, covered over with a penthouse raised
upon high posts. By this gate, pass in and out all who come to the
consecrated ground; the child, to its baptism, the gay wedding party,
to the altar; the congregation, to the worship of God; the corpse, to
the grave.

About three or four hundred yards below the church, in the bottom of
the little valley, through which runs a stream of the clearest and
brightest water, are four or five small houses, or cottages, I should
call them, built of the grey stone of the country, and most of them
thatched. One, however, is of two stories, and has a tiled roof. They
have all their little gardens attached, and are kept in tolerably neat
order; yet, then one looks at this little hamlet from the downs above,
and sees it lying grey upon the green and undivided turf, it has a
desolate and neglected look, as if it had been left behind in the
world's march to rest in the desert expanse around it. Except those
two old yews, there is not a tree near bigger than a currant-bush.

Neither is there any other house to be seen, look which way you will;
for the wide downs only serve for sheep-pasture, and have such a look
of depopulation that, in some of the slopes of the ground, one might
fancy one was standing alone upon the earth, just after the universal
deluge had subsided. I know not whether it looks more lonely when all
the heavens are covered with grey clouds, or when the bright sun
shines upon it from the broad undimmed sky.

Nevertheless, when the musical bell rings on the Sabbath morn from the
old pale tower, the desert seems to waken into life, and people come
streaming over the hills--now a solitary man or woman, now a group of
two or three, now a family, young and old, age and boyhood, now a
group of children, sporting as they run. The scene is all changed, and
it is very pleasant to behold.

Within that church, too, are records of other days which would seem to
show that the neighbourhood was not always so scantily peopled as at
present. The gravestones in the churchyard, indeed, are not thick or
many, and you can walk at ease, without stumbling, over the little
mounds where rest the mortal remains of the peasantry. But within,
against the walls, and even let into the pillars, are many tablets of
marble, black or white, recording virtues and good qualities, and
affection and mourning, which have now left no other memorial behind
them. In the aisles, too, and in the chancel (for the church is built
somewhat in the form of a cathedral), are various very beautiful
monuments of different ages; the mail-clad warrior, spurred and
sworded, the pilgrim from the Holy Land, even a mitred abbot, judges,
and statesmen, and soldiers of a later day--ay, and the tomb of an
infant princess--are there; while, on the pavement on which you tread,
the old stained glass window at the east end, the only one remaining,
sheds its gem-like colours upon slabs of marble, bearing inscriptions
and effigies in brass.

Various are the names which appear in different parts of the church;
but, wherever the eye looks, more frequently than any other, will be
found that of Newark. Statues under which that name is written, in
old Gothic characters, are amongst the Crusaders, and on one black
marble figure, near the font, is a good representation of the heavy
plate-armour of the days of Henry VIII., while above hangs a silken
banner, of which neither the original colour, nor the emblems, can be
discovered through the dust and mould encumbering it. Nearer to the
communion-table is the monument of another Newark, fresher than the
rest, while an inscription below, in modern characters and in bad
Latin, attests that the form above represents a gallant soldier of the
name of Newark, who fell, bravely fighting for his king, on Naseby
field. He is represented, certainly, not in the most classical
costume, with a buff coat, large boots, and the end of a lace cravat
finely sculptured on his chest. The features are not distinguishable;
for, after the monument was raised--and it was a bold thing in those
days to raise it--Cromwell's soldiers got possession of the church,
and with hammers, or perhaps the pommels of their swords, sadly
mutilated that statue and many others. It would seem that the family
of Newark had been steady loyalists; for, on a tablet hard by, is an
inscription to the memory of that warrior's brother, erected during
the reign of Charles II., and stating that he died while in exile with
his king.

On the morning of the fourth day after Smeaton's arrival at Ale Manor,
a ladder was placed against the side of the church, and an old man,
with something like a reaping-hook in his hand, was mounted upon one
of the high rounds chopping away at the branches of the yew-tree,
which approached too close, as I have said, to the window. He was far
advanced in life, and his coat, thrown off, lay at the foot of the
ladder. He had on, however, a waistcoat with woollen sleeves. His thin
and shrunken nether man was warmly clothed, and, to judge from his
dress, he was well to do in life. He had a fine bald head, with scanty
white hair upon the temples; but his brow was knit as well as
furrowed, and a sort of sarcastic expression played about his mouth,
which was not altogether agreeable. Otherwise his features were good,
and on looking at his face, one did not well know whether to think it
pleasing or not.

While he was still hewing away, the solitude of the scene was somewhat
disturbed by the trotting of a horse up to the door of one of the
houses below, over which hung a large straggling bush, with an
inscription underneath, to the following effect:


"THE NEWARKE ARMES. GUDE BEDS AND FUDE
          FOR HOSS AND MAN."


The animal which now trotted up to the door of this very rural inn was
certainly what the worthy landlord might denominate a "_hoss_;" but it
looked much more like a barrel on four legs, and those not very long
ones. It was, in fact, a little short pursy galloway, as fat as it
could be, and this fat must have been of a very perdurable kind, for
though the dust with which it was covered, and some splashes of mud
upon its legs, seemed to indicate that it had come a long way, yet it
had certainly lost none of its bulk by the process of perspiration. It
was sleek and well to do, in short, and when its master stopped at the
little public-house, it stretched out its nose, as if prepared to ask
the first person who appeared, if it could have the dinner and bed
which the inscription promised. The rider was a short fattish man,
somewhat resembling his beast, but rather more gaudily attired; for
the pony contented himself with a coat of grey, while he who bestrid
him was dressed, like Joseph, in a garment of many colours.

The old man upon the ladder heard the horse's feet on the road, and
turned round to gaze, resting from his work the while. The sight of a
stranger in the place seemed to give him no pleasure. He was callous
to all such things, and he only set his jaws tight together, and
mumbled something to himself. A boy, and then an old woman, came out
from the house. The stranger dismounted, took his saddle-bags from the
pony's back, and entered the little dwelling. The boy led the pony
round to the rear of the house, and the old man assailed the yew-tree
again.

If, however, he thought he was to go on uninterruptedly that morning,
he was mistaken; for, in about five minutes more, the stranger walked
up to the gate of the churchyard, advanced to the foot of the ladder,
and looked up. The other took no notice of him whatever, except by
stretching forth his arm, and, with greater strength than one might
have believed him to possess, striking off a somewhat thicker branch
of yew than usual, which fell upon the visitor's head and knocked his
hat off.

"Ay! ashes to ashes, dust to dust!" muttered the old man, with a
slight smile curling the corner of his mouth.

The other picked up his hat, brushed off the dust with his
coat-sleeve, and then, without any observation on the accident, raised
his voice, saying,

"I wish you would come down, sexton, and let me into the church."

"What makes you think I am sexton?" asked the old man, gruffly. "I
never buried you or any of your kin."

"No, but you look like old father Time," answered the other, laughing;
"and he buries all men."

"Then you should take me by the forelock," answered the sexton, whom
the joke seemed to mollify a little; "and I have no forelock to take.
So you are out, master. I am the sexton, however. But what do you want
in the church?"

"I hear you have some fine statues there," replied the other; "and I
want to see them."

But the old man was not yet satisfied.

"Why, what do you know about statues?" he asked, running his eye over
the round, fat, unstatue-like figure of the other, with a somewhat
contemptuous look.

"More than you do, old boy," replied the visitor, "though perhaps you
have lived amongst them all your life; for I have made them all my
life; and, depend upon it, there is no such way of knowing a thing as
making it."

"That depends upon the workman," answered the sexton, beginning to
descend the ladder. "I have made graves all my days, and yet don't
know them as well as many who are lying underneath there. But I'll let
you in," he added, in a more placable tone; "for they are fine
monuments, finer than any for a hundred miles round; and, if you do
know anything about such things, you'll say so."

When he reached the ground, he picked up his coat, fumbled in his
pocket till he got hold of a large bunch of keys, and then, walking
round to the door, opened it. The stranger entered, and his guide
followed, with his back bowed and his gait somewhat halting. He had
the same sort of cynical expression on his countenance as before; but
the visitor's first exclamation seemed to please him; for all the
pride of his nature--and every man has some pride--centred in his
church and its contents.

"Ay, this is something like!" exclaimed our good friend, Van Noost; "I
have not seen anything like this in a ride of a hundred and fifty
miles."

"Dare say not," observed the sexton. "Did you come all that way to see
it?"

"No," replied Van Noost, who was somewhat skilful at evasions; "but I
am very glad I have seen it." And, walking on, he began to scan the
various monuments with critical eyes.

"Why, the barbarians have been knocking the noses off!" he exclaimed,
after a momentary glance at one of the tombs. "Why did you let them do
that?"

"Because I could not help it," answered the sexton, with a growling
laugh; "seeing I was a baby and they strong men when that was done,
and yet I am three score and ten, come Martinmas."

"Ay, Cromwell, that devil, Cromwell, and his sacrilegious fools!"
cried Van Noost. "They had no more taste or judgment than pigs in
Smithfield."

"That's true--that's true," cried the old sexton, chuckling. "I
remember them well enough; for I was a school-boy when old Noll died,
and heard him preach once. Those might understand him who could. To
me, he seemed to be talking nothing but nonsense; so I grinned, and
one of his soldiers gave me a thump in the side with his fire-lock
which nearly broke my ribs."

"Then you have cause to remember him," answered Van Noost, "and not to
like him either. These are better times, master sexton."

"I don't know that," replied the man, gruffly. "We have got a
foreigner for our king, and that's as bad as a Protector--at least, I
think so. But I don't know much of such matters," he added, with a
look of shrewd caution, coming upon his face. "King George may be a
very good man, and Hanover rats as good as any other vermin, for aught
I know."

Van Noost laughed aloud, and replied with a significant nod of the
head--

"They may have a rat-catcher amongst them some day soon, master
sexton; but that is not my business either. Gracious goodness, how
dirty these monuments are! And half the brasses are gone out of the
marble!"

"Ay, they took the brass to make farthings of," said the sexton; "and,
as to the dirt, how can an old man like me keep such things clean?
Besides, I don't know how to clean them properly, and I am afraid of
spoiling them."

"I'll tell you what, old boy," replied Van Noost; "I am going to stay
here for a day or two, and help you. I know all about it; and, if I
have time and can get a little clay, I'll cast you a leaden head and
put it on that cherub at the corner. A cherub is nothing without a
head you know, master sexton, because it has got no body."

"Going to stay here for two or three days!" ejaculated the sexton.
"Well, that's funny! I never knew any one stay here a minute after he
could help it. Perhaps you have come down to these parts to make
inquiries?"

"No," answered Van Noost, "no; I don't like inquiries, and always get
out of their way."

The sexton put his finger to his bald forehead, and rubbed it slowly
for a moment, repeating the word. "Ha!" more than once, and then Van
Noost added in his usual _poco-curante_ tone--

"That is the very reason I came down here, master sexton. People were
making important inquiries, which offended me, and I left London in a
fit of indignation."

Ha! said the sexton again. "I understand. You'll be safe enough here,
master. You'll see plenty of curlews, and a sea-mew from time to time.
I've known a roe deer too, in my day, down about the woody places; but
men and women are the rarest birds of all in this country:" and,
laying his old hand familiarly on Van Noost's shoulder, he added, with
a laugh, "No bailiff has been seen in these parts for forty years.
That I can certify."

"I fear not bailiffs!" exclaimed Van Noost, in a mock tragical tone.
"Sexton, I am well to do in the world. I pay scot and lot, and owe no
man any thing--though many owe me, by the way, who will never pay me.
No, no, sexton, 'tis not for debt of vile and sordid gold that men,
perhaps, may seek me, but for those thin ethereal essences called
opinions, which suit not with the tyranny of the times."

The sexton chuckled, for he had a strong sense of the ludicrous, and
Van Noost's bombast amused him.

"Ay, ay," he said, laughing and coughing; "how many a man there is who
is obliged to make his heels save his head for the indiscretion of his
tongue! Now, I'll warrant you've been swaggering about London in
praise of King James, till you got frightened to death for fear King
George should get hold of you. But you're safe enough here, man,
you're safe enough here. Sergeants and pursuivants are as rare here as
bailiffs, and it is not likely they'll be able to track you across the
hills, even if a price should be set upon your head."

"There is no price upon my head," cried Van Noost, with a strong
feeling of nervous apprehension at the very idea. "They could not hurt
me even if they took me; but I love my liberty, master sexton, and
should pine to death if I were cribbed up in a prison-cell."

"It would take a long time to pine you down even to a moderate size,"
replied the sexton, in a thoughtful sort of tone. "I've dug many a
grave in my day, and there's only one I recollect that would have held
you. You are so fat here behind."

"I have committed no crime," continued Van Noost, anxious to disabuse
his companion's mind of the idea that he might be harbouring a
traitor. "I have committed no crime, I say; and the blessed English
law admits that men may talk treason, though they may not do it."

"Ay, the tongue, the tongue!" exclaimed the sexton. "That's what has
brought you into danger, I can see well enough. It is an unruly
member, as the Bible says; but here you will be quite safe. If I have
to bury you, I ought to have a crown more for the width of the grave.
I had when the fat parson died, this time thirty years ago, though his
heirs said they did not like to pay for his fat. But hark more people
on horseback all in one day! Master, I've a notion they've tracked you
close."

Poor Van Noost lost his rosy, colour in a moment; for no man liked
less the idea of martyrdom than he did.

"For Heaven's sake, my good friend," he cried, as the old sexton
peeped through a chink of the church door, which had been left ajar,
"for Heaven's sake, cannot you put me somewhere where they will not
find me? Let me go into the vestry!"

The sexton eyed him, with his quiet old cynical smile. "How fond fat
men are of life!" he said. "The vestry! They'd find you there in a
minute. Here, you fool, go in there down into the vaults. They'll not
look there, I'll warrant."

As he spoke, he unlocked a small door which lay in a shady nook
between two pilasters; and, under the impulse of fear, Van Noost
hurried in, without a word, taking his chance of the old man
recollecting to let him out again. He saw the head of a flight of
steps before him, and was rushing down, when the sound of the key
turning in the lock raised up new fears in his mind, and he paused for
a moment to listen. The only sound he could hear at first was produced
by the slow irregular step of the old sexton upon the pavement of the
church, as he again walked towards the great door, and then a loud
manly voice from without was heard, as if saying to some one at a
distance--"Walk them about till we come back. The air is keen upon
these hills, even at midsummer."

The next instant, another voice answered, "I like that free fresh air.
It feels like liberty."

"Liberty!" said the other voice. "Have you ever felt the want of
liberty?"

"They are marvellous sweet-tongued officers," thought Van Noost,
listening. But no reply was made to the question, or, if any, it was
drowned by the cough of the old sexton; and, when that had a little
subsided, the second voice which had spoken was heard, saying--

"We want to go all over the church, good Master Mattocks."

Van Noost trembled for the security of his hiding-place; but he was
relieved in an instant; for the same voice went on saying--

"So you must show us all the monuments and tell us all about them; for
this gentleman will not be satisfied with half information, I can
assure you."

"That I will, my lady," answered the old man, "that is to say, all I
know; for I never like to say things I only guess."

"My lady!" said Van Noost, to himself. "Ho, ho! It is a party come to
visit the church; and I am shut up here like a rat in a rat-trap, when
I could have given them much more information than that old mummy, who
has dealt so long with corpses that he has caught the look of them. I
have a great mind to knock to get out. They'll be in sad want of a
better _cicerone_."

Caution, however, got the better of vanity; and, after a little
consideration, he began to feel his way down the steps, resolved to
see what the vaults contained. At first, the place seemed dark enough;
but, as he descended, he found that he had been admitted, not to
funeral vaults in the usual acceptation of the word, but to a crypt or
underground church, of a much earlier style of architecture than the
structure above. Low arched windows, earthed up for at least
two-thirds of their height, admitted sufficient light to render every
object round dimly visible. Monuments and carvings were seen in
various different directions; and, with true antiquarian enthusiasm,
Van Noost soon forgot what was passing above in the examination of all
that surrounded him.



CHAPTER VIII.

We must return here to an earlier hour in the day of which we have
just been speaking. The breakfast at Ale Manor was laid in the
dining-saloon, and presented a curious combination of the ancient and
modern habits of the English people. Fish, meat, and various
sweetmeats were spread upon the board; a large tankard of silver,
which might have served up ale at the breakfast-table of Queen
Elizabeth, was on the sideboard; and good Bordeaux wine was there in
another flagon, for those who adhered to the tastes of their remote
ancestors. But, for delicate tastes, the more modern breakfast of
coffee and chocolate was prepared. Sir John Newark was in a most
gracious mood; his son, Richard, was all life and gaiety; and last
came in Emmeline, bright and blooming from her sweet sleep, like a
blush rose refreshed by morning dew. Smeaton could willingly have
gazed at her long; but he would not allow himself to do so; and the
breakfast was proceeding gaily and cheerfully, when one of the
servants entered, to inform Sir John Newark that a messenger had
brought a letter for him from Exeter. When the letter was delivered
and opened, Sir John Newark read it, with a look of grave and anxious
thought. Then, nodding to the messenger, who had waited as if for a
reply, he said:

"Get yourself some refreshment, and let his worship know that I will
not fail to be there by two of the clock."

The man bowed, and quitted the room; and Sir John, turning to Smeaton,
with the letter still in his hand, observed, with a somewhat affected
laugh:

"Here is a strange affair!"

Then, turning his eye to the page, he read aloud:


"Worshipful Sir--Whereas information has been received, that various
evil designing persons are travelling about the country for seditious
purposes, some of whom are reported to be proclaimed traitors, and
others, persons lying under sentence of various offences and fugitive
from justice; and, as it is matter of common notoriety that in various
parts of the land, and especially at several places in this county of
Devon, serious disturbances have been stirred up contrary to the peace
of our Lord the King, and perilous to the state and constitution of
this country as by law established; this is to give you notice, that a
special meeting of the justices of the peace for this division of the
county of Devon is summoned to assemble in this city of Exeter
to-morrow, the ---- day of July, in the year of our Lord 1715; and you
are hereby invited and required, putting aside all other business, to
attend the same, in order to consult as to the best means of
preserving the peace of the said county, and frustrating the designs
of seditious and disaffected persons.

"(Signed) etc."


He paused for a moment after reading the letter, and then added, with
a smile:

"They must have got a fright from some circumstance or other. I hope
no friends of ours have given them any cause of suspicion."

"If you allude to me," answered Smeaton, with a frank smile, "I have
not, I can assure you, Sir John, and am under so little apprehension
on the subject, that I have no objection, if you like, to ride with
you to Exeter, if you feel yourself bound to go upon such a curious
summons."

"Oh, I _must_ go, assuredly," replied the knight; "but you had better
remain here. I shall feel more satisfied in leaving my fair ward here
under your good care and protection; for I must take several of the
servants with me."

He did not speak without some consideration; but he was forced to
decide quickly, for the ride before him was very long; and he was
anxious to avoid all appearance of disaffection to the existing
government, whatever he might feel. About three quarters of an hour
were spent in busy preparation; but Sir John found an opportunity, in
the midst of all his bustle, to caution his son more than once to
watch carefully over Emmeline, and, if possible, not to quit her side
for a moment. Richard promised, with every intention of performing;
and the whole party stood on the terrace together to see Sir John
depart. They watched him round the sweep till he disappeared into the
woods; and then Richard, with a boyish leap over a bush, exclaimed, in
a gay tone:

"Now, what shall we do?"

Smeaton smiled to see that, even with the simple boy, the petted and
somewhat spoiled child, the presence of Sir John Newark was felt to be
a restraint. He replied, however, turning towards Emmeline, and
addressing her more than Richard,

"You promised to show me some day a fine old church in the
neighbourhood, with some beautiful monuments. Can we not make it the
object of a morning's ride to-day?"

Emmeline consented willingly, and said she would get ready directly
for the expedition; but Richard did not seem well pleased; and, as
soon as she had gone to fulfil her intention, he thrust his hands into
his pockets, and said:

"I shan't go. I hate old churches, and old monuments too. What the
deuce is the use of going to see a pack of stones put on end? I'll go
out fishing. You are quite old enough to take care of Emmeline, I
should think; but you had better take some people with you; for my dad
is always in a terrible fright for fear somebody should get his bird
out of the cage. Poor Emmeline! I wonder she abides it so quietly. I
could not, I know, if I were kept tight by a string round my leg like
that."

Smeaton gave the boy no encouragement to come with them, merely
answering:

"I will take care of the young lady, and warrant she shall come safely
back. I will take my own servant with us; and one or two of your
people would make our party quite sufficient, even if the country were
more disturbed than I believe it really is."

"Then I'll run down and get a boat at once," exclaimed Richard Newark;
and, before Smeaton could add another word, he was bounding down the
hill, like a great dog.

His companion betook himself to the stable-yard of the mansion, to
give directions regarding the horses, and all the little preparations
for the proposed expedition; and then, putting on the great
riding-boots of the day, he returned to the terrace to wait for
Emmeline. It was not long ere she joined him, gay, smiling, and happy
at the thought of a pleasant excursion. She looked round for Richard,
however, and asked where he was; and, when Smeaton told her that he
had declined being of the party, a grave look of anxiety and
hesitation came over her face.

"Sir John Newark," she said, after a moment's pause, "does not like me
to go far or into any town without the old housekeeper accompanying
me."

Her companion smiled, answering gaily:

"But we are going to a church, not to a town; and, on this occasion,
you must let me act the old woman."

A joke often prevails where an argument will not. The horses were
brought round; Smeaton placed his fair companion in the saddle; and
away they went, at a quiet and easy pace, with the three men following
them. He was an excellent and graceful horseman, and not unwilling to
enjoy, from time to time, the exhilarating sensations of a wild gallop
over the green turf; but, for some reason or other, he did not seem,
on this occasion, disposed to put the horses out of a quiet canter.
Down the stony road he proceeded at a walk, and only quickened his
pace a very little when, turning to the left at the end of the wood,
they got upon the downs. But Smeaton was a good tactician, and he had
his reasons for what he did. Emmeline did not know that such was the
case, however; and she grew a little impatient.

"Shall we not have a gallop?" she asked, at length, after some broken
conversation on indifferent subjects.

"Presently," answered Smeaton, in a quiet tone. "One cannot gallop and
think calmly too."

"Think!" echoed Emmeline, gaily. "Why should you think, Colonel
Smeaton? Thinking is the most pernicious thing on earth; and what
gentleman has any right to think with a lady by his side?"

"It is impossible to help thinking, and deeply too, with you by my
side," answered Smeaton, in a low voice.

Emmeline almost started--it sounded so like a compliment; but Smeaton
was not a complimentary person, as she had remarked with pleasure; and
she replied, after turning an inquiring glance towards him, in the
same light tone, "Why so? do you judge me such an enigma?"

"Not yourself," answered Smeaton gravely, "but your fate and history
are an enigma." He paused for a moment, and then added: "For yourself,
dear lady, your character is as clear and pure as a diamond, which, if
we do not see through it at once, it is because of its too much light;
but your history, your circumstances, your fate, do constitute an
enigma, which might well make any man of heart and feeling
thoughtful."

He spoke very low; but every word fell clear and distinct upon
Emmeline's ear, and instantly banished her gaiety.

"It is an enigma I cannot solve," she answered. "I have tried to do so
a thousand times, but in vain. Whichever way my eyes turn, it is all
darkness; and, weary with straining my sight upon the blank obscure, I
have given it up, reduced to remain satisfied with knowing nothing
but--which is perhaps as much as most persons know of themselves--that
I am. But what is it puzzles _you_ about me? What have you seen or
remarked to make you believe that there is any mystery?"

"Much," he replied; "the very circumstances in which I first saw
you--an attempt to carry you off forcibly from the midst of your
family and friends--the constant feverish sort of anxiety displayed by
Sir John Newark in regard to you--his unwillingness to suffer you to
hold communication of any kind with persons out of his own house."

"Is he unwilling?" exclaimed Emmeline, eagerly. "I do not
think it--yet, perhaps you are right," she added gravely. "I
remember--perhaps you are right. I do not recollect ever having been
suffered to converse alone with any one except the people of the
house, and good Doctor Boothe, who is dead. It is strange! I do not
attempt to conceal from you that there is a mystery, even to myself."

"And you have tried to solve it, unassisted?" inquired Smeaton.

"Often and often," she answered. "Oh, what would I give to know who
were my parents--what I am--what are the causes of all this anxiety
about me! I have tried, but tried in vain."

"Perhaps I can assist you," said Smeaton, in a lower tone than ever.
"Nay, do not start, and look round at me. Those men behind must not
see that there is anything more than ordinary in our talk. Now, let us
have a gallop, if you will. I have ventured to open a subject with
you, somewhat abruptly, which I have in vain sought an opportunity of
touching upon from the first moment of my arrival. We must take
opportunity when we find it. Now, shake your rein, dear lady. Give
your jennet her head, and let us cast these ideas from us, for a
moment or two. They will return before the end of our ride."

"They will not be shaken from me, let me gallop as I will," replied
Emmeline. "However, let us forward." And, touching her horse lightly
with her riding-whip, she bounded away some paces before her
companion.

Smeaton was at her side again in a moment, however; and, when she
turned her eyes towards him, as he came up sitting his horse with calm
and quiet ease, motionless in the saddle, as if he were a part of the
noble animal itself, she could not help thinking him the handsomest
man she had ever beheld in her life; and so indeed he was.

To Smeaton, she was an object of great interest--ay, and I must add,
of great admiration also. The exquisite beauty of her fate and form
was at that moment heightened, not only by a dress which displayed it
to the best advantage, but by the attitudes into which the exercise
threw her, calling forth innumerable graces, and by the movements of
the mind springing from the conversation just past, and filling her
eyes with light and eagerness. Their looks met; and, with that sort of
sudden sympathy which enables those of like character to read in an
instant what is passing in the minds of others, each seemed to divine
the feelings of the other. Emmeline's cheek glowed, as if she had been
detected in a fault; and Smeaton withdrew his eyes, with a thoughtful
look, and made some common-place observation on the scene.

For a few minutes they rode on at the same rapid pace, leaving the
servants still farther behind them than they had previously been; and
then Emmeline drew in her rein, saying--

"I have had enough of this. You will say I am a capricious girl,
Colonel Smeaton. I wanted a gallop when you did not desire one; and I
am tired of it as soon as I have got it. But, in truth," she added, "I
am anxious that you should go on with what you were saying. I cannot
ride fast, in a state of wonder and mystery. You say you can assist me
in explaining all the many enigmas of my fate. You say that you have
longed to talk with me on this subject, ever since you have been at
Ale. You must have very keen eyes, or Sir John Newark must have told
you something about me when he saw you in London."

"Neither, dear lady," answered Smeaton, looking behind to see how far
off the servants were. "I should have remarked nothing calling for
much attention, had I not had previous knowledge; and yet, Sir John
Newark would not have suffered me to enter his gates, had he been
aware that I possessed any information whatever regarding you."

"Then you _do_ possess information?" exclaimed Emmeline, eagerly.

"You have been an object of interest to me, dear lady," answered her
companion, "for some years. This seems strange to you; but it will
seem stranger still when I tell you that, most likely, I should not
have visited this part of England at all, had you not been here. But,
tell me, can you be very discreet? For much depends upon your prudence
and your secresy. If I tell you things which have been studiously
concealed from you, you must put a guard upon your lips and upon your
looks. You must seem as ignorant as ever of all that appertains to
your own fate. That bright frankness--that free pouring forth of the
heart--must all be checked. You must learn the hard lesson which the
world, sooner or later, teaches to all, to conceal the feelings and
the thoughts--to hide the treasures of the heart and mind, in short,
from the eyes of those who would wrong us. Can you do this?"

"I will try," answered Emmeline, gravely; "though I know not how I
shall succeed, for I have never yet been proved. I have no experience
in the art of concealment--and yet," she continued, "I fear I have not
been altogether so frank as you imagine. I cannot tell why, but
there is something in my good guardian--kind and careful of me
as he is--which prevents me from telling him all I think--from
speaking my wishes or my thoughts upon important things. Any ordinary
favour--any common gratification--I could ask, without fear of
refusal; but yet the questions I most long to ask I dare not put; the
thoughts that are most strong an most busy in my brain I do not
venture to pour forth."

"It is an instinct," said Smeaton. "You must, however, try to attain
the discretion to which I have alluded; and, perhaps, it may be better
for me to say no more till you are more certain of yourself."

"Oh, no, no," said Emmeline. "Do not keep me in long suspense. I will
be very prudent, indeed."

"Well, then, first let me ask you a few questions," said her
companion; "but pray speak in a low voice; for the men are coming
near, and no caution can be too great. Can you recollect anything of
your very early years?"

Emmeline shook her head.

"Very little," she replied, "and that little, indistinct and vague.
Things appear, indeed, to memory; but they look like the ships I have
seen sailing over the sea in a thick mist. I catch a cloudy outline--a
strange ill-defined form--for one brief instant, flitting by; and then
it passes into the fog again, and I see it no more."

"Let us try if we cannot render these images more distinct," said
Smeaton. "Do you recollect ever having lived in other places,
different from the scenes around you?"

"No," answered Emmeline, at once. "The old house, and the wood, and
the hamlet, and the stream, and Ale Head, and the bright bay, are
amongst the earliest things that I remember. I do not think I ever
lived anywhere else; for I can recollect little things of no
consequence happening at the Manor when I must have been quite a
child. I remember well crying over a broken puppet in a room that was
then called the nursery. I must have been very young then; and memory
goes no farther back."

Smeaton mused.

"I think it is very likely you are right," he said. "I do not know
that you ever lived elsewhere; but you must have been surrounded in
Ale Manor by other people than those who now dwell in it."

"Oh, yes," cried Emmeline. "Of that I am quite sure; for memories come
across me, and trouble me like figures in a dream."

"Do you recollect a lady," asked her companion, "tall and graceful,
with a smile peculiarly sweet, and a silvery voice?"

Emmeline gazed down thoughtfully.

"Yes," she said, at length, "I think I do; and she was very fond of
me, if I remember rightly. Stay! yes, I remember her quite well. You
call her back to my mind. She led me out by the hand upon the terrace
to see the soldiers go away. Oh, yes--I recollect it all quite well
now."

"And who was at the head of the soldiers?" asked Smeaton.

"I do not recollect," replied the lady, gazing forward into the air.

"Was it a tall, dark, noble-looking man, with a broad hat, and a plume
in it?" asked Smeaton.

"No, no," cried Emmeline. "He was standing by my side; and he took me
up in his arms, and kissed me, before he mounted his horse. How
strange it is that I should have forgotten all this until now!"

"No, perhaps not strange," replied Smeaton. "A single word will often
wake up a long train of memories which have lain asleep for years. The
association of ideas has wonderful power; like the wind, touching one
string of an Eolian harp, it sets all the harmonies of the heart
vibrating. But do you recollect anything more of those times?"

"Not clearly," answered Emmeline; "but still you have awakened enough
to lead memory on, I doubt not, through many another path of the past.
I see, indeed, you must know much of me and mine. I beseech you,
Colonel Smeaton, tell me more."

"I would rather, in the first instance;" he said, "let your own memory
do all that it can do--placing it in the right road, and letting it
follow out the track, instead of prompting you by information which,
after having rested in your mind for a certain time, will seem like
memory. But there, if I mistake not, is the church before us. I did
not seize so eagerly your offer to show it to me without a motive,
dear lady. I wanted to point out to you certain monuments which it
contains, and beg you to remark them particularly, for they may afford
you much information."

"Oh, I have gazed at them for hours," answered Emmeline, "and could
extract nothing from them."

"Perhaps you may be more successful now," replied Smeaton. "At all
events, whenever I lay my hand upon a monument, remark it
particularly. If we should be alone, I may, perhaps, read a comment on
it at the time; but, if there is any one with us--and we must not seem
particularly anxious to carry on our observations in private--I will
merely lay my hand upon the tomb I wish you to notice, and read the
inscription upon it."

"But, then, do you know them already?" asked Emmeline. "Have you ever
been here before?"

"Never," answered Smeaton, with a smile; "the words upon the tombs
will be sufficient to guide me. But we are coming near. I had better
call up the men to hold the horses."

Raising his hand, he beckoned to the servants behind, who rode up just
as they reached the little gate of the churchyard.

Both Emmeline and he were very thoughtful when they dismounted; and
they walked on towards the great door in silence. Just as they reached
it, however, Smeaton turned, and called to the men who were holding
the horses in a group, saying--

"Walk them about till we come back. The air is keen upon these hills,
even at midsummer."

The rest of the conversation between himself, and Emmeline, and the
old sexton, on their first entrance into the church, has been already
detailed, as it was overheard by Van Noost; and Smeaton and the lady
proceeded along the nave, listening with wonderful patience to the
prolix details of the old man. He pointed out to them the tomb of Sir
Reginald de Newark, who had gone to the Holy Land with Richard the
First, and told them what gallant deeds he had done in battle, and how
he had returned to his native country to die at home of wounds
received in war against the Saracens. Many a blunder did he make,
confounding kings and countries and events in a very disastrous
manner. But Smeaton did not correct him, and laid not his hand upon
that tomb. Then they came to a large slab of grey marble, with a
figure in long robes sculptured on it, having a mitre on the head, and
crozier by the side, but with every feature of the face obliterated.
This, the old man told them, was the effigy of William de Newark,
Bishop of Exeter, who had chosen to be buried in that church, because
it stood upon the lands of the family. Still Smeaton passed on,
without question or comment. Another and another succeeded; and the
old sexton was beginning to think the visitor exceedingly dull, when,
approaching nearer to the communion-table, they stood opposite the
monument of the gallant soldier who had fallen at Naseby.

This seemed to interest the visitor more, and, stretching out his
hand, he laid it on the marble, saying--

"What a pity it is they have so brutally defaced this fine statue!"

The old sexton entered into his usual story about it, told how the
church had been occupied by Cromwell's soldiers, and how they had made
a stable of the nave. Many were the abominations with which he charged
them; and Smeaton asked several questions which helped him on
wonderfully with his tale. The Colonel then approached the wall of the
church, and, pointing to the tablet which recorded the death of
another member of the family, in a foreign land, he asked the old man,
after reading the inscription, whether the line had become there
extinct.

"Oh, bless you, no, sir," replied the sexton. "After the happy
Restoration, this good soldier's son returned with the king. He had
been taken abroad by his uncle, who died at Breda. His monument stands
there." And leading them across to a darker part of the church, he
showed them a tomb with a kneeling figure, having a sword in its hand.
The inscription on the marble tablet below was very brief. It simply
said--


"To the memory of Algernon, Baron Newark, of Newark Castle and Ale
Manor, Knight, who died on the second day of July, 1690, this monument
is erected, as a testimony of love and veneration, by his widow and
his son."


"That was the day after the battle of the Boyne," observed Smeaton.

The old sexton nodded his head significantly.

"Ay, sir, so it was. I recollect it well; and when they brought the
body home from Ireland, these old hands dug the grave for as noble a
lord and as good a man as ever lived. But it was all done very
quietly, for people were in great fear of what might happen next; and
the monument was not erected till two years after."

Smeaton laid his hand upon it, saying--

"It is fine in its simplicity. What became of the son who is mentioned
here?"

"I don't know, sir," answered the man, shortly, and then walked on
towards another part of the church, mumbling his jaws together, as if
he were muttering something to himself.

Emmeline looked up in Smeaton's face with an inquiring glance; but his
only comment was by taking her hand and leading her away. He might
press it gently as he did so; but he said nothing till they rejoined
the old man, when he inquired, in a careless tone--

"Are there not vaults, or a crypt, to this church? From the height of
the pavement, I should think so."

"Oh, yes," replied Emmeline, answering for the sexton. "There is a
beautiful crypt."

"Ay, but I have not got the key, my lady," said the old man.

"Why, it is in the door, Mattocks," rejoined Emmeline. "I saw it as we
passed." The old sexton laughed aloud.

"That's true, my lady," he said; "but I've got a bird in there, and
that's the truth. So that I would rather not open the door if I can
help it. Not that I think you would tell, or this gentleman either;
for it could do you no good, and might do the poor fellow some harm."

"Oh, be assured we will not tell anything," replied Smeaton. "But we
must see the crypt, my good man. To me it is one of the most
interesting parts of a church."

"Well, sir, must is must," answered the sexton, "and I cannot stop
you, if you like to go. Only mind, you've promised not to tell about
seeing any one there."

"We'll be as secret as a father confessor," answered Smeaton, gaily;
"but first, I should like to look at your register-books. Cannot we
see the inside of the vestry?"

The old man gazed earnestly in his face for an instant, and then
replied, coldly and repulsively--

"You can see the inside of the vestry, sir, if you like; but the books
are not there. They are always kept by the parson, under lock and
key."

"Are they at his house?" asked Smeaton.

"I think not," replied the old man; "but all I know is, that they are
not at the church. If you want any certificates out, you must ask the
parson."

"Well, let us down to the crypt, then," replied Smeaton. "Can we see
down there, think you?"

"Your eyes are younger than mine, and _I_ can," answered the sexton,
gruffly; and he proceeded to open the door.

"I suppose you are clerk as well as sexton?" said Smeaton, as he
passed him.

"I am not regularly appointed clerk," replied the man. "I hold both
offices at the will and pleasure of Sir John Newark."

There was something very significant in his tone and manner, as he
said these words; but Smeaton merely smiled, and passed on, holding
out his hand to guide Emmeline in descending the steps. A few seconds
brought them to the bottom; and both looked round, with not unnatural
curiosity, to see whom the old sexton had shut up in the crypt. The
next minute, however, Smeaton laughed gaily.

"Why, my good friend, Van Noost," he exclaimed, "is that you? What, in
fortune's name, has brought you into this part of the country?"

"Ah, noble sir," cried Van Noost, in a lamentable tone, "what a fright
you gave me a few minutes ago! It was not fortune, but misfortune,
brought me. Have you not heard that the Earl of Oxford is committed to
the Tower, and that they are seeking for all his friends and adherents
to clap them up in Newgate?"

"No, indeed," replied Smeaton. "Not caring much about it, I have heard
little about it; but I fancy you are frightened without much cause, my
good friend; for, depend upon it, the falcons which are now on the
wing are checking at higher-flying game than yourself. But what made
you think of coming to this part of the world?"

"Why, I know it of old to be a lonely desolate part of the country,"
said Van Noost. "Besides, I knew you were down here; I thought you
might give me a little help in case of need."

"How can I do that?" asked Smeaton. "I have no influence with these
people. But, come hither for a moment, and speak to me apart. If can
help you, I will."

As he spoke, he led the way to the other side of the crypt, where he
conversed with the statuary, for a few moments, in a low voice,
saying, in the end--

"Well, do as you like. If you find yourself safe here, stay. But, in
case of any danger, you can go to Keanton, where you will be quite
safe. Tell the people the word I said, and they will take care of
you."

"What a beautiful creature she is!" exclaimed Van Noost, whose eyes
had been fixed on Emmeline for the last minute or two. "Dear me, what
a delicious dairymaid she would make, cast in lead!"

"More fitted for a Grace, I think," replied Smeaton, with a smile.
"But, remember, go to Keanton, if you like."

Thus saying, he rejoined Emmeline and the old sexton.

The last words were spoken aloud, and reached the ears both of the
sexton and Emmeline. The old man muttered to himself the word,
"Keanton," and scratched his head. The young lady turned her eyes
quickly towards Smeaton, but made no comment at the time. The party
then, followed by Van Noost, commented on the various things they saw;
and the worthy artist in lead enlightened them, from time to time,
with opinions on the various monuments. No part of the conversation,
however, would be very entertaining to the reader; and with regard to
the monuments themselves, only one seemed, even to Smeaton, worthy of
remark; this was a small tablet fixed in the lower part of a wall,
bearing inscribed upon it the following words:


"To the memory of Edward and Henry Newark, sons of Henry Algernon,
third baron Newark. They died in infancy."


There was no date; but the monument was comparatively new. Dust,
indeed, lay on the marble, somewhat obscuring the letters, with a
softening effect, like that of Time on the memory of sorrow; but the
pure white stone had not yet acquired the yellow tint of age and
decay.

"I suppose that tablet has not been long put up," said Smeaton,
touching it with his hand.

"Sixteen years ago, sir, come the day after Michaelmas," replied the
old sexton; and there he stopped, evidently not disposed to enter into
any particulars regarding the later branches of the Newark family.

Smeaton, however, asked no more questions; but, shaking hands with Van
Noost, and giving the old man a piece of money, which seemed more than
he expected, left the church, and re-mounted with Emmeline.

The lady and her companion rode on for a few moments in silence; but,
at length; Smeaton said, bending his head and speaking low,

"Do you comprehend what you have seen?"

She shook her head gravely, and then replied--

"It is like seeing the picture of a city we never visited. There are
houses, and streets, and public places; but, unless we have a guide or
a map, we know not what they are. The monuments I have already seen;
the names upon them I have heard before; but know not to whom or by
whom they were erected."

Smeaton paused, and gazed at her earnestly, as if he hesitated to
proceed.

"Dear lady," he said, at length. "I needs must trust you, or rather
must trust to your own discretion; for it is yourself and your future
fate which is to be influenced by your prudence or imprudence. Let me
warn you, however, that your own happiness and the possibility of your
obtaining farther information depend upon your concealing from every
one that you have received any information at all; but I believe you
have a spirit of sufficient power, Emmeline, to govern your words, and
even looks, when you know that so much is at stake."

He called her Emmeline for the first time--perhaps before the length
of their acquaintance justified it; but it sounded very pleasant to
her ear; and, indeed, that day's ride, and the matters of deep
interest which had been discussed between them, had drawn them closer
to each other than if they had been acquainted many months.

"I will be prudent and careful, indeed," she replied. "I should ill
repay your kindness, if I neglected your warning for a moment."

"Well, then," replied Smeaton, "you have seen just now the monument of
your ancestor who fell at Naseby; that of his son, your grandfather,
who died the day after the battle of the Boyne; and a tablet to the
memory of your grandfather's brother, the father of Sir John Newark--"

"And my father?" interrupted Emmeline--"my father?"

"Of that, hereafter," replied Smeaton. "This is enough for one day
surely; but I may add that the little tablet in the crypt which we
last saw commemorates the death of your two brothers in infancy. They
were older than yourself, but perished early. And now, dear lady, I
have told you thus much in order to win your confidence; for I may yet
have to ask you to trust me in many things; and, in the very first
place, I must crave a great boon from you, which is this, to give me
every opportunity--nay, to make opportunities--of conversing with you
in private; for much yet remains to be said--nay, perhaps much to be
done; and I can clearly see that Sir John Newark will not often let
our conferences be unwatched, if he can help it. Can you trust me,
Emmeline?"

"Oh, yes, I think I can; nay, I am _sure_ I can," she answered. "Yet I
do not know how I shall manage; for I am unaccustomed to such things.
I thank you much for what you have told me; but I must--indeed I
_must_--know more. I am not such an enigma to myself as I was; but
still there is a cloud over one part of my history which must be
cleared away, although I suppose I shall find to the end that there
are enigmas in everything in this world. Do you know that even you are
beginning to be an enigma to me?"

"How so?" exclaimed Smeaton, looking at her frankly as she gazed, with
a smile, in his face.

"I will tell you," she said. "You bade that man in the crypt go to
Keanton, if he liked, as if you were its master. Now, I always heard
that Keanton was the properly of the Countess of Eskdale, that
Countess who went to share her husband's exile."

"That enigma is soon explained," replied Smeaton. "I am her son.
Heaven send that I be not soon the Master of Keanton indeed! But I
much fear it; for my mother has been very ill. As I ask you for much
confidence, I must not withhold any part of mine from you, and
therefore I tell you the fact at once. But this is a piece of
knowledge, dear lady, that you must conceal from Sir John Newark,
although he knows the fact, for, if he finds that I have revealed it
to you, it may raise suspicion as to what more I have revealed, which
it were well to avoid."

Emmeline mused for a moment or two with her eyes cast down; and then,
looking up again, she said--

"Then your name is not Smeaton really?"

"No, indeed," he replied. "My name is Eskdale. But let me explain to
you. It is not at all an uncommon custom now, amongst the many who
have been driven forth by the rebellions and revolutions in this land,
to assume a name different from their own when entering the service of
foreign states. Thus, while I have been in the Austrian army, warring
in Spain and Italy, I took the name of Henry Smeaton, rose in the
service under that name, and never dropped it until my father's death,
somewhat more than a year ago. I have with me my commission, granted
under that name, and many papers and letters, all addressed to me, or
speaking of me, as Colonel Henry Smeaton; so that the title was not
merely assumed for the present occasion. But here comes your young
cousin, I think, to meet us. His fishing expedition, it would seem, is
soon over."

"Poor boy!" replied Emmeline. "He is so volatile, he can pursue
nothing long. I do not think he is so much without ability as he
seems, for occasionally his thoughts are very bright and fanciful. But
it is the power of fixing his attention that he wants. Of that he is
utterly devoid, and it is the secret of his great deficiency."

A moment or two after, they were joined by Richard Newark, who
exclaimed, in a joyful voice--"I am glad I have found you before my
father comes back; for, after we had fished for an hour, I got in a
fright, remembering what he had said about not leaving you, Emmy. So I
got a horse, and galloped all the way here, thinking every minute I
should see him riding back with you. So you must hold your tongue,
Emmy, and not let him know that I have been away at all."

All conversation now ended for the time between Emmeline and Smeaton,
for the boy's presence was of course a restraint, and the minds of
both rested thoughtfully on the subjects of deeper interest of which
they had been lately talking. This continued till they reached the
mansion; but there they found Sir John Newark had not yet returned,
and some time was destined to pass before he again appeared on the
scene.



CHAPTER IX.

Emmeline had retired to change her dress. Richard had gone, Heaven
knows whither; and Smeaton, after pausing for a few minutes in the
hall, seemingly very busy in examining the suits of old armour which
had hung there since the days of Elizabeth, but in reality seeing none
of them with the mind's eye, though he moved round from one to the
other merely like a piece of mechanism, at length walked up the stairs
to the two rooms which, as I have said, had been appropriated to his
use.

We must draw the curtain of the breast and look in; not perhaps
tracing thought by thought--who can, even when he looks into his own
heart?--but giving such glimpses as may show sufficiently what was
passing within.

"This is unfortunate," he said to himself; "and I must resist such
feelings--yet, why? I cannot answer why. She is very, very beautiful,
graceful, gentle, bright, unsullied by this foul and dusty world in
which we live. Why should I doubt or hesitate? Because my own
sensations take me by surprise, and I feel myself led on by impulse
rather than by reason. But what does boasted Reason do for us in such
things as these? More frequently she misleads than directs us rightly.
I will let things take their course. It is but my own happiness I
peril; and, without perilling it, I cannot serve Emmeline as I could
wish; nay, nor fully keep my promise. I will risk it. Perhaps these
sensations will wear away. I remember when I thought myself
desperately in love with the Spanish girl, the poor Cura's niece, at
Valencia; and it ended in disgust; I do not think it will do so here.
Then it was but sleepy black eyes, and a warm sunny cheek, and a neat
bodice, and a pretty foot--with passion enough in all conscience, but
neither soul nor mind. No, no! Emmeline is very different--yet it may
wear off. If I have thought much of her--dreamed of her, I may say, by
day and night since I have known her--it is very natural, without love
having anything to do with it. Her strange fate, the wrong that has
been done her, the greater wrong, I fear, intended her, the eager
desire to free her from this thraldom, and to open her mind to her own
history--and yet the difficulty of so doing--may all well have created
an interest independent of love. Yet she is very beautiful and very
charming. There is something winning in that smile, half tender, half
playful; and certainly Nature in its happiest leisure never moulded a
form of more exquisite symmetry. It makes one's heart beat almost to
gaze upon her, surpassing far the highest effort of the sculptor's
art, and full of living graces which neither sculptor's chisel nor
painter's brush could ever catch or portray. Hark! she is singing! Ay,
a well-remembered song of my young days. Her chamber must be near
this, from the distinctness of the sounds."


    "Mellow year, mellow year,
     The winter time is near,
      With its frost, and its snow, and its wind;
     When the branches are all bare,
     And tempests load the air,
      And icy chains the dancing rivers bind."


The song ceased, and the light accompaniment of a lute or mandolin
ceased likewise. It seemed but a little outburst of that spirit of
music which is in almost every young heart, and Smeaton said to
himself--"I will sing her the next stanza. Perhaps she does not know
it." And with a rich, mellow, tenor voice, he went on with the song,
thus:--


    "But the Spring, the bright Spring,
     On his green-embroider'd wing,
      Is speeding from the South all the while;
     Scattering flowers on Winter's way,
     And repairing all decay,
      And teaching tearful eyes again to smile."


He listened for a moment; but all was silent, and then, opening the
door of his room, he descended again to the saloon. He had hardly been
there a moment when Emmeline joined him, with a bright frank smile
upon her face, saying, as she entered--

"You have been singing--and one of my dear old nursery songs."

"You left it incomplete," replied Smeaton; "and, as it is one of my
dear old nursery songs too, I felt myself called upon for its honour
to add the last stanza--at least, the last that I remember; for I
believe there are several more."

"Oh, yes," replied Emmeline. "I will sing them all to you some
evening, though Sir John Newark is not very fond of music. Are you?"

"I do not know what life would be without it," replied Smeaton. "Mine,
I know, would have lost many of its few happy hours."

"And does your wife like music? And does she sing often? And has she a
good voice?" exclaimed Emmeline, putting question upon question before
her companion could answer. But a gay smile upon Smeaton's lips
stopped her at length.

"My wife, dear lady!" he said, half laughing. "My wife! I hope she
will sing, if I am ever fortunate enough to have one; but, up to the
present hour, certainly, I have no wife."

Emmeline looked astonished, almost frightened; and, for a moment, she
stood, gazing in his face in silence, and then said, in a slow and
hesitating manner--

"Sir John Newark told me you had a wife."

"Did he, indeed?" asked Smeaton, with a smile, not unmingled with a
look of astonishment; but, the moment after, he added--"Now, I
remember, there was conversation between us regarding Lady Eskdale. He
must have changed my mother into my wife, it seems, which is contrary,
dear lady, to the law of all lands. He pressed the subject upon me, I
recollect; and I gave him very short answers, not thinking fit to
enter upon my own or my mother's affairs with him. I imagined that he
wished to discover what we intended to do with Keanton; but he has led
himself into a very great mistake; for I have no wife, I can assure
you, dear lady."

Emmeline was agitated, she knew not why. Indeed she did not ask
herself. All that she felt was that her heart beat more quickly than
usual; that a change seemed to have come over her thoughts and
feelings in an instant; that all was altered in the relations between
her and her companion. It seemed very strange to her; it confused her,
even seemed to alarm her and, with eager quickness, memory ran back
over all that had passed between her and Smeaton, as though to
ascertain if she had committed no fault towards him under the mistake
into which she had been led. She remembered that he had twice called
her Emmeline; and she recollected more than once that a look of
admiration had come upon his face, when his eyes were turned towards
her, the very memory of which deepened the colour in her cheek. She
was very young and very inexperienced; and the discovery she had made
filled her with many emotions which she strove not to disentangle or
to scan, but which, though agitating, were certainly not painful. She
remained so long silent, however, busied in these thoughts, that
Smeaton himself was somewhat pained.

"She has been only thus bright and frank with me," he thought,
"because she believed me to be a married man; and in all the signs of
dawning regard which I fancied her looks and words betrayed, I have
been mistaken."

Man's heart, however, is a very dark and intricate thing. Solomon and
a great many other personages have affirmed this, and I believe it.
There is nothing which spurs love on like a little difficulty; and
Smeaton, who, a few minutes before, had been doubting whether he was
really falling in love at all, and whether he ought to say or do
anything which might tend to win her affection, had no longer the
least doubt on the subject. He did not pause long to consider; but,
taking her hand in his, he said:

"Emmeline, you have been deceived by Sir John's representations; but
does this make any difference in your confidence and regard? Will you
not trust me--will you not rely upon me, though I be unmarried, as
much as you would freely have done, had the tale you heard been true?"

She did not attempt to withdraw her hand from his, but raised her
beautiful eyes to his face, asking, simply:

"Ought I?"

"Why not?" he exclaimed. "Could my having a wife make me more a man of
honour? Could it render me more anxious to serve you--to free you from
a painful, a difficult, a dangerous situation? Could it make you more
safe than in trusting to my word as a gentleman and a Christian to use
all my efforts for your service, and for the promotion of your
happiness alone?"

"No, oh, no," answered Emmeline, is reply to his eager questions; but
he still went on, saying:

"Would it not rather throw difficulties in our way? Might it not
produce a thousand embarrassments, whereas, if any now occur, you can
yourself remove them by a few short words?"

The meaning of the last part of the sentence seemed clear enough; and,
after a time, it came back to her memory; but at the moment, confused
by a variety of feelings, to her new and strange, and of thoughts
which seemed only to become more entangled every moment, she replied:

"I have so little experience--I am so ignorant of how I ought to act,
or even what I ought to think, that--"

She paused, unable to conclude the sentence, but, seeing a look of
pain on his face, she laid her hand gently upon his, saying:

"Do not let me grieve you. I would not do so for the world. I have the
utmost trust, the utmost confidence in you, and will show it frankly.
But add this to all your other kindness; tell me truly and sincerely
how I ought to act, what I ought to do, and I will do it. Guide me,
guide me, noble friend for I feel that I have none to whom I can look
for guidance but you."

The tears rose in her eyes as she spoke, and Smeaton, with a look
which could not alarm or agitate her, bent his head and pressed his
lips upon her hand.

"I will be your guide, dear Emmeline," he said; "and so God help me as
I seek, in guiding you, your own happiness, your own safety, before
any other objects whatsoever."

Emmeline raised her eyes to his face, full of bright drops, and his
words and that answering look formed a bond between them for life.

There are instincts far stronger, far clearer, far truer, than any
conclusion of reason or any deduction from experience. The shrewd, the
cunning, the hackneyed in the world do well not to trust to them; for
in the first two classes, Nature having endowed them with other
qualities for their guidance and defence, in general denies them these
instincts, just as she denies horns to a lion, and claws to an
elephant; they are provided, and want not farther help; and, with the
hackneyed man of the world, if ever possessed of such instincts, they
are soon worn out, and the traces of them obscured. But, with the
guileless and inexperienced, they are a sure, and often the only,
guide and defence.

The same instinctive feeling of dread and doubt which taught her to
shrink from Sir John Newark, which barred all confidence and checked
all affection, made her heart spring to meet the friendship--perhaps I
might call it by a tenderer name--of Smeaton, and long to pour out all
its feelings and thoughts before him. The agitation of new sensations,
however, checked her for the time, and all she said was:

"Oh, how happy it is to have some one in whom we can wholly trust and
rely!"

That was a blessed moment for Smeaton. It was to the affection which
had sprung up, and was budding in his heart, like the soft beams of a
bright morning sun upon an opening rose, teaching it to expand in all
its full sweetness, and he gazed upon her with a look of love which
could not be mistaken. Of words there was little need; yet words
trembled on his lips which could never be unsaid. Suddenly Emmeline,
with a start, withdrew her hand from his. They had thought themselves,
throughout the whole scene, alone; but it was not so. The windows were
partly open to admit the balmy air; and, though they did not descend
to the ground, as modern windows do, yet they were not raised more
than a foot or two above the level of the terrace without. For the
last two or three minutes, a figure had been standing at the angle
of the most westerly window, and looking in, half hidden by the
stone-work. It now moved across towards the great door, and the shadow
that it cast upon the floor of the room roused Emmeline from her
dreams of happiness, with a sensation of fear.

"What is the matter?" exclaimed Smeaton, surprised by her sudden
start.

"Some one passed across the window," replied Emmeline, with the colour
mounting warmly into her cheek.

"Was it Sir John Newark?" asked Smeaton, while a cloud came over his
brow. "If so, a full explanation must come before it is desirable."

"I think not," replied Emmeline. "The shadow first caught my eye; and,
before could see distinctly, the figure was gone. Nevertheless, I
think it was that of Richard."

Smeaton mused for a moment, and then said.

"Of course he will tell his father what he may have seen and
overheard, and we must take our determination accordingly, Emmeline."

"I do not think he will," said Emmeline, eagerly; but she paused at
the next sentence, adding, more slowly, as if not knowing well how to
express what she meant without some violation of propriety: "Very few
persons here, I believe, are inclined to tell my guardian anything
unless he asks. Why it is, I am sure I do not know, for he is very
kind in most things; yet they seem to fear him, and do not like to say
what they think, lest they should make mischief. Some of the servants,
indeed, but not many even of them, report to him all that passes under
their eyes; but I have never dared to speak freely with him upon any
thing; and, I believe, Richard feels the same. Hark! there is his foot
coming through the great hall. It must have been he who was looking
through the window. Poor boy! he would never think of repeating
anything which he thought could pain me; but I ought not to ask him to
conceal any thing from his father."

"Certainly not," replied Smeaton, frankly. "Let things take their
course; only ascertain as soon as possible what he really does do;
and, in the mean time, dear Emmeline, let me beseech you to cast away
all restraint towards me. It is needful to you and to your own future
fate now, and I feel it is needful to me and my happiness, that you
should give me every opportunity of speaking to you, consulting with
you, advising you in private. Though _I_, perhaps, must find the
opportunities, you must aid me to take advantage of them. Much must be
decided within the next two or three weeks, and upon what is decided
all the future course of your life will depend--and mine also," he
added, in a lower voice. "Ay, and of mine also."

Before she could reply, the latch of the door was raised, and Richard
Newark entered the room, with a slow and thoughtful pace, very
different from his light irregular walk. Emmeline drew a step back;
but Smeaton remained exactly where he was, without the slightest
change of look or manner, while the boy advanced into the room,
humming to himself the snatch of some old song, as if wrapped up in
his own thoughts, and hardly conscious that anybody was there.

"Well, Richard," said Smeaton, "where have you been wandering?"

"I have been upon the terrace for the last five minutes," replied the
lad, simply.

"That I know," rejoined Smeaton. "We saw your shadow on the floor."

"Indeed!" exclaimed Richard Newark, evidently with some surprise. "I
thought you did not see me; but this preposterous knob between my two
shoulders, filled with all sorts of things that never get into other
people's heads, betrays me, I suppose, wherever I go. Well, never
mind! What matters it to me if nightingales will sit and sing on the
edge of a hawk's nest? It is no matter of mine, and I can keep things
to myself as well as my elders and my betters. Only, 'ware the
springe, noble Colonel. Woodcocks have put their necks into a noose
before now."

Emmeline and her lover, for so I think I may now venture to call him,
looked at each other, as if uncertain how to act; but then, starting
forward, with her wild grace, the beautiful girl laid her hand upon
her cousin's arm, saying--

"Do you not love me, Richard? Have you not said that, if you were my
brother, you could not love me more?"

The boy's whole manner was changed in a moment.

"That I do, Emmeline," he cried, catching her hand in his, and holding
out his other hand to Smeaton. "I love you both, and will do anything
I can to serve you. Trust to me, trust to me, and don't be a bit
afraid. I will find means to help you at a pinch. I know that my brain
is somewhat askew; but that is not my fault, and there is some wit
within, though it lies in odd corners. For your sake, Emmeline, and
for yours too, Smeaton, I will rummage it out, and try if I cannot
make it serviceable. I will do you no harm, if I cannot do you good."

"Take care of that, Richard," said Smeaton, gravely.

The boy nodded his head significantly, and then added, with a loud
laugh--

"And now I will be odder than ever, to cover what is going on within;
but I can tell you, dear girl, that I have rendered you one service
this morning, already; for if _I_ had not been at the window, somebody
else would."

"Who?" exclaimed Emmeline, with a look of apprehension.

"Old Mrs. Culpepper was going out for her evening airing," replied the
boy, smiling, "with her stealthy tiptoe step, like a cat crossing the
greensward on a dewy morning. She tended this way, Emmy; but, when she
saw me lolling against the window-frame, she crept off to prowl in
another direction. She watches you all the while she is purring round
you, more closely than you know, and it is better to have me there
than her, I can tell you."

"I am sure it is, Richard," answered Emmeline. "But what you say
surprises and shocks me. I did not know that I required watching by
any one. So Heaven help me, as I desire and seek no wrong, but only to
be as rightly happy as it is God's will I should be."

"No more does a titlark, Emmy," replied the boy; "and yet they shut
him up in an iron cage, and only give him a bit of turf to make him
remember how joyful he would be if he could spread his freed wings,
and soar away up into the sky."

There was something in the simile which touched Emmeline to the heart;
her eyes filled with tears; and, darting away, she quitted the room,
leaving Smeaton and Richard Newark together.



CHAPTER X.

Sir John Newark rode away towards Exeter. At first he went fast; for
the thoughts with which he set out were not altogether devoid of
uneasiness. He did not like leaving Emmeline, Richard, and Smeaton
together. Not that there was any definite cause in his mind for the
unpleasant sensations that he felt; but, with most men of his
character, there is throughout the whole of life a pervading feeling
of insecurity which is a hard price, taken at the full sum, and which
by slow instalments they pay sooner or later for any advantages
obtained by cunning, duplicity, and deceit. They are never secure.
They are always afraid of discovery and loss. The house they have
built is based upon sand, and they know that it is so. There is an
ever-present dread, a dark consciousness of the sword suspended by a
hair over them. They may drown the thought in wine; they may outroar
the small still voice in revelry and merriment; by laughter and by
song they may strive to keep its sounds from their ears; but still it
is ever speaking in the secret tribunal of the heart--ever, ever
speaking, accusing, condemning, and threatening.

There were times, of course, when this sensation of insecurity was
more strong than at others; he never felt safe when Emmeline was left
alone with anybody but one of his own creatures; and there was
something in the character and demeanour of Smeaton which made him
feel that he might be very dangerous to dishonest purposes, if he had
a knowledge of them. He quieted himself, however, in some degree, by a
belief in his ignorance. He said to himself--

"It is evident he knows nothing of these people, except by hear-say.
Moreover, he cannot suspect anything from what he has seen here. He
beholds nothing but kindness and affection. I treat her as a daughter,
a beloved daughter. No, no, he can suspect nothing. Yet I have seen a
light come up into his eyes when he looks upon her, a bland fond smile
upon his lip, which is strange for so short an acquaintance. It is
natural, perhaps; for she is certainly very pretty; but he is married,
so there can be no harm. Yet suppose his wife were to die? Well then,
I must shut my gates against him. That is all. He cannot force his way
in, unless I choose to let him. Perhaps I may make something of this
Keanton property, if one could but get him to entangle himself a
little more against the government. He would be glad enough to take a
small sum from a friend for that which was likely to be forfeited to
the crown. It is a fine estate, full three thousand a-year, and
carries, if I mistake not, the barony with it. These troubles must be
productive of good, if one knew how to take advantage of them."

This train of thought carried him on further, and away from the
subject of his apprehensions. He had been riding fast in order to
return speedily; but now he slackened his pace, and proceeded to
consider deliberately the condition of the times, the position of the
existing government, and especially the state of that part of the
country in which he dwelt. He was one of those men--and they are a
somewhat numerous class--who are skilful at angling in troubled
waters. He was well inclined to stir those waters, too, for the
purpose of catching more fish; but he was very careful not to plunge
into them too deeply himself. He knew, as well as any agitator of the
present day, how to keep just on the right side of law, how to prompt
without acting, how to suggest without proposing, how to make
dissuasion act as a persuasive, how, in fact, to stir up rebellion
without being a rebel, and to act a traitor's part without incurring
the punishment of a traitor. He had, moreover, that great skill which
consists in leading men, whom you are openly engaged in opposing, to
believe that you may be induced by favours to support them; in fact,
to put yourself up for sale at a high price, and to force it from the
purchaser by annoyance; not to ticket or label the article with the
sum demanded, but to let it be understood. This is the most useful of
arts in the mercenary world we dwell in, and men do contrive to enact
such tricks, and yet bear an unblushing front and a proud carriage, as
if the honours and rewards they obtain were yielded to merit, not
necessity. In his most vehement tirades against a minister or a
government, Sir John could drop some few favourable words to show that
he was not hopelessly adverse. He could praise one set of measures
while he declaimed against others. He could affect uncertainty with
regard to some of their lines of policy. He could pretend to believe
the motives good, but the means mistaken. He could single out one man
from a ministry, when he saw him falling, and pursue him with the most
virulent rancour in order to attribute all the bad acts of his
colleagues to him, if they chose to purchase his support after the
other's fall.

He was not at all singular. We see such men every day; and, all the
time, they are independent men. The very excess of their trimming,
when managed skilfully, gains for them, amongst those who do not see
deeply into the human heart, a reputation for conscientiousness. They
are supposed to sacrifice their friends for their convictions, and to
change their convictions from their judgment. Verily, they are wise in
their generation.

"This dynasty will stand," said Sir John Newark, to himself. "Yes, it
will stand. It may not have the affections of the nation--doubtless,
it has not; but it has the passions and prejudices of Englishmen--ay,
and their good sober sense too. Love is a mad passion that will not be
subservient. Prejudice is a sturdy beast, which will be guided any
way, so that it get home at last. There is no lack of zeal amongst
the Jacobites. Zeal! Heaven keep us from zeal. It is like a
sky-rocket, which no one can direct. The Whigs have something better
than zeal. They have firmness, consistence, unity, common sense,
energy. Then they have the words, that sooner or later rule the
multitude--liberty--freedom--rights--privileges, and those not the
rights and privileges of the few, but of the many. The others have
nothing but zeal. Heaven help us! And courage--ay, and courage! There
is no lack of courage; but with it, luckily, its usual adjuncts, wild
rashness, pig-headed obstinacy, and a mighty host of all those
brilliant qualities which, sooner or later, bring a party to
destruction. Nevertheless, I must be somewhat of a Jacobite for the
time--with caution--with caution. I must give a few hints to the
people--some encouragement, also, to my Jacobite friends amongst the
magistracy, for fear of the vigorous energy of the Whigs frightening
them; but with many a saving clause, and much reservation."

With these thoughts, he rode on, and, at the end of a few hours,
entered the good old town of Exeter, with dusty dress, and horses and
attendants tired.

A good number of people were collected in the open space near the
cathedral; for the room in which the magistrates were called to
assemble was not far distant, and a rumour of the meeting had spread
through the city, that being market-day, and had caused some agitation
in the place. Sir John Newark was well known in Exeter, and he was
very popular--most rogues are. His name was soon pronounced among the
people. They gathered round him, pressed upon his horse, cheered him,
asked him questions. The sounds reached some of his fellow
magistrates, who had collected in the neighbouring inns, and they came
out to see what was the matter. The great body of people gathered
together were decidedly Jacobite, and the magistrates, who had their
eyes upon the knight, were of the opposite faction; but he managed
skilfully between them. To those in the crowd near him, whom he knew,
he spoke a few words of a very inflammatory nature; but, when the
people called upon him to speak to them aloud, he harangued them for a
few minutes, from his horse's back, in language which suggested more
than it expressed. He besought them to be peaceable, orderly,
tranquil, and to make no disturbances; but he painted, in glowing
colours, and with much oratorical power, the disturbances which had
taken place in other parts of the country, told them how the men of
Dorchester had assaulted and pumped upon the magistrates, when reading
a proclamation from the government; how, in another place, they had
burnt in effigy "the great personage whom they very improperly called
the Elector of Hanover;" how they had driven a party of the military
out of one town, and forced the mayor in another to drink King James's
health against his will. But, all the time, he besought them to
abstain from such unseemly demonstrations of the popular feeling, and
assured them that he doubted not, he trusted, he hoped, they would
ultimately obtain all they could rightly desire, without any recourse
to violence or breach of the law.

His words were not many; but they were very well chosen; and, at the
end of his harangue, a great number of the people escorted him to his
inn with acclamations. The very inn he selected marked him out as one
of the party to which, for the time, he chose to attach himself. It
was called the Crown and Sceptre, and was the Jacobite inn. There,
however, he had but time to get some scanty refreshment for himself
before the hour of meeting; and, leaving his horses and servants
behind, he walked to the room where the magistrates were now fast
assembling. It presented the usual aspect of such congregations in
troublous times, where many persons of the most opposite views are
collected to carry out measures in regard to which very few of them
are agreed. The Jacobite party was here by far the least numerous; but
they were weakened by want of unity in their plans, more than by want
of numerical strength. Some were for bold and vigorous demonstration;
others were for firm and tranquil moderation; some were for
temporising and deceiving, others for throwing off disguise, and
avowing their principles, if not their objects, clearly. Sir John
Newark instantly ranged himself amongst them, with the most hearty
contempt for every one of them; but he shook hands with them all
warmly, lent an eager ear to what every man whispered to him, and said
a few words in reply, which signified nothing.

The Whig party, on the contrary, were united in object and in purpose.
They felt their strength, and were confident in it; yet, at the same
time, the entrance of Sir John Newark caused a little stir even
amongst _them_. They had a sort of fear of him--not of his power, not
of his real talents, not of his courage or energy, but of his
subtlety; for subtlety can be carried to a point where it becomes
awful. He had established a reputation of never forgiving, of never
being turned from his object by any difficulty or opposition, and of
seeking it by ways which could not be seen and by means which could
not be combated. All that he said or did was a matter a doubt and
mystery to those around. His frankness was as suspicious as his
reserve; his boldest declarations in favour of a cause were known
never to insure it his support; his most resolute opposition to a
party gave no guarantee that he would not join it next day. It was
known, moreover, that most of his enemies had been ruined by some
means or other--and many of his friends.

Inimical critics will say, perhaps, that this character is overdrawn;
friendly critics will declare that it is a portrait. To the latter, if
there be guilt, I plead guilty; but it is the portrait of one who
lived and died in the times of which I write, and not of any man now
living.

If a meeting of country magistrates in the present day is irregular
and desultory in all its proceedings--and I, as one of that worshipful
body, can certify such is the case--if, in a time when artisans are
competent to judge of legislation, and people, who can neither read
nor write, rule or overrule the opinions of educated men--if, in such
a time, we see that many public assemblies, called for the discussion
of national and important questions, are very confused and sometimes
violent in their discussions and conduct--what could be expected, in
the beginning of the last century, when learning and information, if
not wit and talent, were confined to the few? Strong native common
sense occasionally, in individuals, did a great deal; and perhaps the
cases were more frequent than now; for no one can look around him
without admitting that, in the present day, common sense in certain
quarters is the most uncommon of all things. It is more valuable than
any other quality, and very valuable things are rare.

The course of proceedings on the present occasion was in somewhat the
following order. The presiding magistrate, a verbose pursy man, with
that self-important air and voluminous stomach which carry great
weight with the public, made a long speech about matters which he did
not comprehend in the least, read some letters from the Secretary of
State and other high personages, the sense of which he mangled and
left nearly extinct in the reading, and then added comments in support
of the course which he believed the minister to recommend, although in
truth it was very different. Then got up a furious Jacobite, railed at
the existing order of things, abused the government, spoke of the
country being eaten up by foreigners, and asked how it could be
expected that, in such circumstances, and devoured by Hanover rats,
men should be at all energetic or active in defence of a state of
things which the whole country only tolerated for a time. Another and
another orator followed. Few of the saner Whigs spoke at all; but some
of them showed a good deal of temper; one plan was proposed, and then
another; nothing was decided; and nothing seemed likely to be decided.
Then, when he saw that time was getting on, and that people would soon
become anxious to return to their homes, Sir John Newark rose and
addressed the meeting, presuming that no one was likely to speak after
him. He said:

"Sir, I believe my loyalty is not at all suspected--"

A murmur ran amongst the Whigs; and he instantly took advantage of it.

"I do not in the least pretend to deny," he continued, "that I am,
personally, strongly attached to the ancient royal line of this
kingdom. I have always declared the fact, and I have suffered by it in
many ways; but that surely can be no imputation upon my loyalty, when
I always show myself ready to obey and to execute the laws. I stand in
the same position as many others even on that side of the room, whose
attachment to the house of Stuart is strong, but their attachment to
the laws of the realm stronger. I gave what poor support I could to
the government of King William and Queen Mary, because I thought that
the rights and liberties of Englishmen required it of me; but I am not
disposed, and I trust none here are disposed, to see those rights and
liberties violated by one monarch more than by another. Now, as far as
I can make out what is intended by the government--or rather, I should
say, what is here proposed by some rash and misguided men, who
arrogate to themselves, unauthorised, I am convinced, the task of
declaring the views of government--it is intended to call upon the
magistrates of the county of Devon to employ measures for quieting
imaginary disturbances, and for apprehending persons who may be
tranquilly passing from place to place on their own business, for
aught that has been shown to the contrary, which would render us a
nation of spies and bailiffs, be subversive of all personal as well as
political liberty, and breed suspicion and distrust between man and
man, so as inevitably to end in establishing within these realms a
despotism as oppressive as can be found in any of the continental
states. Against this, I must and will protest, even if I stand alone;
at the same time declaring my willingness and readiness to employ
every constitutional means in my power to maintain the peace of the
land and the rule of order and law. Do not let us suffer ourselves to
be agitated by idle rumours and vain and groundless apprehensions.
What proofs have we that any design is on foot for disturbing the
peace of the realm, or attempting to overthrow the existing
government? What signs of such things are even alleged? Why, no more
than the shouting of a London mob round the carriage of the Earl of
Oxford, whom, until he is tried and condemned by his peers, I may
venture to call a very estimable and intelligent nobleman. Some
drunken rioting of 'prentice-boys and coal-heavers, worthy of being
repressed by parish beadles and chastised by flogging, rather than
being opposed by regular soldiers, and punished by military execution.
The sousing in a horse-pond of some foolish and obnoxious magistrates,
probably detested and scorned by the multitude rather for their
stupidity and injustice than even for their hotheaded zeal upon the
present occasion--zeal which we shall not do well to imitate, lest we
incur the same contempt and share the same retribution."

"The _only_ signs!" exclaimed one of the less discreet of the Whig
gentlemen present. "What do you call arming ships on the coast of
France in favour of the Pretender, as stated in the Secretary of
State's letter, which you have heard read?"

"That it is a case to be dealt with by our Ambassador at the court of
France," replied Sir John Newark, adroitly; "and not by a body of
country justices of the peace. Besides, what have we to do with
Secretary of State's letters? Is a Secretary of State, King, Lords,
and Commons at once? and can his mandate supersede the law of the
land? All that it is competent for him to do is to exhort us to
diligence and activity in the exercise of those functions entrusted to
us by the constitution. Arming on the coast of France! What has that
to do with gentlemen travelling peaceably from town to town in the
county of Devon?"

"But the Secretary says there are suspected persons," replied the same
magistrate.

"By whom suspected?" demanded Sir John Newark. "Reasonable cause must
be shown for suspicion before we can deal with the case. This Mr.
Secretary may be of a naturally suspicious disposition. He may suspect
me--you--any of us. But it would be bold thing to apprehend a man
merely upon a Secretary's _suspicion_. I, for one, will issue no
warrant against any man upon mere suspicion. I will have it shown what
are the grounds of that suspicion."

"He did not deal with his own relations so tenderly," said one of the
magistrates to another; and a third observed, aloud--

"All we know is, Sir John, that three or four persons, whom nobody
knows, have lately passed through certain parts of the county and
taken their way towards Ale Head, if not towards Ale Manor House. A
foreign vessel also was seen upon the coast; and it is certain that
she landed and took off some persons in the close vicinity of your
dwelling."

"I should like to ask the worshipful knight whether there is not a
suspected person in his house at the present moment," cried some one,
in a loud tone.

Others were going on in the same strain; for, on all such occasions,
when one person can be found to lead an attack against an individual,
many more will follow. Perhaps Sir John Newark was a little staggered
by this close questioning; but he saw that the allusion to the ship
gave him an advantage; and, waving his hand, he exclaimed--

"One at a time, gentlemen, one at a time, if you please. You are
becoming a little personal in matters which should be considered free
from all personality; but I am ready to give every man his answer."

"The best answer to such insinuations is the sword," observed an old
hotheaded cavalier, whose brains the snow of sixty years had not been
able to cool.

"Poo, poo!" said Sir John Newark. "I repeat that I am ready to answer
every question separately; but you must not overwhelm me with too many
at once. First, then. If any suspected persons have journeyed towards
Ale Manor by land, I know nothing about them, and have heard nothing
of them."

"By land! by land!" retorted one of the opposite party, with a
scornful laugh.

"Wait a minute," said Sir John Newark, sneeringly. "Next, I answer
that I well know that a foreign vessel did appear upon the coast, and
did land and take off again some men."

"Tell us if they were _all_ taken off, Sir John," shouted one of his
opponents from the other side of the room.

"If the gentleman who spoke can prove that one of them remained and
can bring him within my grasp, I will pay him down on the spot a
hundred guineas, which is somewhat more than the reward of an ordinary
thief-taker," replied the knight. "But what is the use of disputing
with a thickheaded brawler who cannot hear a sentence to the end? I
say, sirs, I _do_ know that such a ship appeared off the coast, landed
men, and took them off again. I know it well; for I know it to my
cost. She came, with what intentions I do not know. She landed men,
whose only act, if not their only object, was to insult and endeavour
to kidnap my young ward, Emmeline; and they ran away as swift as they
could, and re-embarked when frustrated, pursued by my son and
servants, with dogs, as if they had been beasts of prey. I was myself
from home at the town of Axminster; but, as soon as I heard that a
strange sail had appeared upon the coast, I hurried back at full
speed, and found that what I could have wished done had been well done
in my absence. Now, I will ask if any one of you who ventures to call
himself the most loyal in this room can impugn my conduct in this
affair? And I repeat that, if any of you will put into my hands one of
those men who landed, so that I might bring him to justice for the
insult he offered to my ward, and through her to myself, I will pay
him a hundred guineas on the spot."

At this moment a dark, stern-looking, elderly man, in a snuff-coloured
coat, who had hitherto sat quietly in a corner of the room, rose, and
said--just when Sir John Newark was congratulating himself on having
avoided all mention of Smeaton's residence in his house--

"The worshipful knight has not answered the question, whether there is
or is not a suspected person, at this very time, staying at Ale
Manor."

"No one suspected in the least by me," replied Sir John Newark, who
saw that he must grapple with the subject. "There is a gentleman
staying at my house; but let me add that he it is who saved my young
ward from the hands of those ruffians who landed, wounding one of them
severely, and that his whole conduct, as far as I know anything of it,
is above suspicion. General, you are a brave man, as all the world
knows; but I should like to see the bravest of you tell my guest,
Colonel Henry Smeaton, that he suspected him of aught. Methinks he
would soon have an answer that would satisfy him till the end of his
life, even if he lived much longer."

"Perhaps so," replied the other, quite calmly; "but some questions are
better decided by pens than by swords, Sir John. Although I have not
giving up fighting, and trust I may yet fight again in my country's
cause, it certainly shall not be in a private quarrel upon public
matters. You say that this gentleman's name is Colonel Henry Smeaton.
I should much like to know if he never bears any other name."

"By such only have I known him," replied Sir John Newark, with a
slight inclination of the head, and without the least change of
complexion; for he never coloured, though he sometimes turned pale.

"Then we have been misinformed, I suppose," replied the other, whose
voice seemed to have quieted all the din going on around. "We were
told that the Earl of Eskdale was staying at Ale Manor, Sir John. Is
it fair to ask you who first introduced this gentleman to you as
Colonel Henry Smeaton?"

"I presume I am not under examination," replied Sir John Newark, a
good deal annoyed, but determined to evade the question. "However,
General, I have no objection to answer you; and, if you think fit, you
may take down my reply, perhaps to be used against me on a future
occasion."

He spoke with a sneering smile, which had not the slightest effect
upon the gentleman whom he addressed, and who continued to look
straight in his face, till he went on, saying--

"You asked me, I think, who first introduced my visitor to me as
Colonel Henry Smeaton. My reply shall be very simple, and more
distinct even than your question. The first time I ever saw him, he
introduced himself to me as Colonel Henry Smeaton. That was some weeks
ago in London; and I immediately, and on the spot, gave him an
invitation to visit me at Ale Manor. I intended to excite your
surprise, and I see that I have done it, gentlemen; but I must now
dispel that pleasant sensation. My first acquaintance with this
gentleman occurred on his defending my son from a gross assault made
upon him by one of the Earl of Stair's servants, and punishing the
ruffian who had knocked the boy down. I was grateful to my son's
preserver and avenger, and invited him to my house; but I have had
more cause for gratitude since. Not content with punishing the man on
the spot, Colonel Smeaton went that same night to the Earl of Stair,
with whom he is well acquainted, and made it his request that the man
should be immediately dismissed. Out of friendship for him, the Earl
readily acceded; and, behaving with that true honour and dignity which
so well becomes him, wrote me a letter, which I have here, to
apologise for what his man had done, and inform me of the result. I
think, General, you must be well acquainted with Lord Stair's writing.
There is the letter."

He stretched forth his hand with the letter as he spoke, and the old
officer, advancing a step, took it, and read it aloud. The following
were the contents.


"Sir--In answer to your note received this morning, I beg to inform
you that the conduct which you complain of in Thomas Hardy, my late
servant, was represented to me fully by my friend, Colonel Henry
Smeaton, who called upon me last night. As he witnessed the whole
transaction, and I have every reason to believe him, from my personal
knowledge of his character, and old acquaintance with his family, to
be a man of perfect probity and honour, I dismissed the footman at
once, and beg to express my regret that servant of mine should have
committed so disgraceful an action. I trust the young gentleman whom
he assaulted has not suffered any severe injury, and that, when my
friend, Colonel Smeaton, returns from the visit which I find he
intends to make to your country-house, he will bear me a good report
of your son's health.

"I have the honour to be, Sir, your most obedient humble servant,

    "STAIR."


"Undoubtedly, Lord Stair's handwriting," said the old officer, aloud;
and, turning to another, who stood near, he added, "We must have been
misinformed."

"Pray," cried one of the magistrates, "will you tell us, Sir John
Newark, if this Colonel Henry Smeaton is the only visitor in your
house at the present moment?"

"This is too bad!" exclaimed Sir John Newark, with well-affected
indignation. "Do you suppose, sir, that I am likely to quibble in such
a matter as this? There is no one whatsoever in my house but my own
family and domestic servants, with Colonel Smeaton and his lackey--a
rude ordinary man, whom you might as well take for an archangel as a
nobleman. It is by such injurious suspicions of loyal and tried men,
that you, and such persons as you, frequently produce disaffection.
Such, however, shall not be the case with me; and, having expressed my
opinion upon your proceeding, and repelled the insulting doubts which
it seems you had thought fit to entertain of myself, I shall leave an
objectless meeting, which can produce no good results, and can only
tend to irritate the people and induce foolish magistrates to overstep
the limits of their duty upon the shallow pretence of zeal. If I might
advise, all those who think with me will follow me; for, I believe,
the very fact of this meeting may do great harm in the county."

Thus saying, he quitted the room with some thirty or five-and-thirty
other gentlemen.

A buzz of conversation succeeded amongst those who remained, the whole
assembly seeming to conclude that the business of the day was over,
and breaking up into little knots of five or six. In one or two of
these groups, the name of Sir John Newark was treated somewhat
severely, and his general conduct censured with very little restraint.
In most of them, however, the imprudence of those who had first
commenced an attack upon him was pointedly blamed.

"Strange should not have been so violent," said one.

"Perry should not have insinuated what he did," remarked another.

"He is a very difficult personage to deal with," observed a third. "He
is never to be caught, and is always ready to give back more than he
receives in the way of sneers and bitterness."

"He often turns what was intended to annoy him, to his own advantage,"
remarked a fourth. "The man must be a blockhead or a conceited fellow
who attempts to meddle with him. The best way is to let him quietly
say out what he has to say, and then to proceed without taking the
least notice of him; but, as he has contrived to break up the business
of the day, we had better betake us to our horses' backs."

One dropped away after another till the room was nearly vacant; but a
little knot continued in low-toned but eager conversation for nearly
three quarters of an hour after all the rest were gone, and in it were
the old officer whom we have mentioned, the high sheriff of the
county, and two or three gentlemen of importance and discretion.

"It will certainly be the best plan," said the high sheriff. "He is
thrown off his guard for the time, and I am willing to take my share
of the responsibility."

The general shook his head.

"He is seldom off his guard," he remarked; "but I do not fear the
responsibility; and, perhaps, it is the best plan. Government will
carry us through, even if we do stretch its authority a little in such
a case."

With this observation, the meeting broke up; and the little knot which
had remained separated.



CHAPTER XI.

The events which I have narrated in the last chapter occupied nearly
two hours, although, in their recapitulation, they fill so small a
space. It was thus four o'clock, or somewhat more, before Sir John
Newark reached the door of his inn, impatient to return as soon as
possible to the Manor House. As we have seen, many of the party which
he had now espoused followed him away from the place of meeting. Some
mounted their horses and rode into the country; some strayed to the
right or left, as soon as they were in the street; some went one way,
some another, and but few accompanied Sir John Newark, even a short
distance. Sir John was not loved or trusted by any one. All readily
availed themselves of his help; all admired the skill and dexterity
with which he took advantage of an enemy's mistakes, and sometimes of
a friend's; but they did not altogether feel safe in his private
society.

There was one garrulous old knight, however--a Sir James Mount--who
had no fears of any kind. Wrapped up in his talkative egotism, he
thought little of the character and actions of his associates,
chattered away gaily to any one who came near him, sometimes very
sillily, sometimes well enough, and was ever ready with a smart
repartee, at which he himself laughed, to lead the chorus right; and,
being full of anecdote and a great gossip-monger, was tolerated and
even courted by most of the gentlemen round, though he sadly wearied
them till they had contrived to make him dead drunk. This worthy
baronet adhered to the side of Sir John Newark all the way to the inn,
at which, it would seem, he himself also had put up.

"You posed them, Sir John--you posed them," he said, as they issued
from the door. "That smart Mr. Seely got a rap--a rap--a rap, I think.
Puppy! his knuckles will ache. It is very droll that I am not good at
public speaking--at public speaking--at public speaking, for I am
fluent enough--fluent enough--fluent enough, in conversation, I
think."

Sir John Newark made no reply; nor, indeed, was any necessary. Sir
James Mount paused for a moment to take breath--for he had been
walking fast, with a peculiar dancing sort of step; but it was not
long before he began again, saying; "Better times coming, Sir John,
better times coming, I think; and the king shall have his own again. I
dare say, now, you have got some news from over the water--over the
water--over the water."

Sir John Newark replied this time; for a good number of people were in
the street; and Sir James's conversation was getting somewhat
dangerous.

"The last news I have heard of any kind, Sir James," he replied, "was
that you had nearly pulled down the old house at Mount Place, and were
building a very splendid mansion in its stead."

"Yes, yes, yes," answered the other, tripping along on the tips
of his toes. "_Diruit--diruit--diruit, ædificat, mutat quadrata
rotundis--rotundis--rotundis_. Not exactly the whole house; only the
wings--only the wings--only the wings."

"Getting yourself new wings, Sir James," said Newark, "will make the
people say 'tis to fly with."

"Only to fly higher--to fly higher--to fly higher," replied Mount.

"Higher, higher, higher!" echoed Sir John Newark, with a cynical
smile; "that is like the skylark. But you were born to _mount_; and so
that is natural."

"True, true, true," answered his companion, laughing, and very much
pleased at the exceedingly lame pun. "Like the skylark--born to
mount--pretty, very pretty!" And he took out his tablets and wrote it
down, talking all the time with marvellous perseverance. "Born to
mount," he repeated three times, "like the skylark, must have wings,
you know, Sir John--must have wings--must have wings. Shall we dine
together? I have something very important--important--important, to
discharge my mind of."

"I fear that I cannot stay to receive your fire," replied Sir John
Newark. "You know I have a guest at Ale Manor, and must be back to
entertain him."

"Ay, that's just the thing--just the thing--just the thing," said the
old knight. "Is he Lord Eskdale or not--or not--or not?"

They had at this moment just reached the great arched entrance of the
inn; and, without answering the question, Sir John called aloud for
his horses. He was doomed, however, to disappointment and the society
of Sir James Mount; for one of his servants, coming forward, informed
him that they had just discovered that one of the horses had lost a
shoe, and that his own beast seemed very lame. Sir John Newark was
angry; but he uttered none of the oaths and exclamations common in
that day, and merely, in a thoughtful and moderate tone, directed the
one horse to be shod and the other to be examined by a farrier. Sir
James Mount instantly fixed upon the servant, commended his own
farrier to him, gave him particular directions where to find him,
volunteered an opinion upon the cause of the horse's lameness, without
having seen him, and recommended strongly a plaster of soap and boiled
turnips, repeating one part of every sentence at least thrice, and
sometimes more.

Whilst this was going on, Sir John Newark was meditating what he
should next do. It was very difficult, on all occasions, to get rid of
Sir James Mount; and, taking into consideration the improbability of
his succeeding in an attempt to do so, and the length of time he
should probably be obliged to stay, he made up his mind to engage him
to dine in a private room, saying to himself--"I shall, at all events,
get from him every piece of news that is going about the country, and
shall prevent him from doing mischief with his tongue for an hour and
a half at least."

Sir James was delighted with the proposal, and, although the hour was
somewhat late for the early habits of that period, the number of
gentlemen who had visited the town in the course of the day had
created great activity at the inn, and dinner was easily procurable.

As soon as it was upon the table in the little parlour to which they
were shown, Sir John Newark, who had been kept in some uneasiness by
the incessant loquacity of his companion, dismissed the man who
brought in the dishes, saying, as soon as he was gone, with a meaning
nod, to worthy Sir James--

"It is better to be alone when we may have important subjects to talk
of."

"True, true, true," returned the other. "In such things, I am always
discreet--discreet--discreet. I know how to be silent--silent--silent,
Newark. No one can keep a secret better than I can, in case of need. I
was just at that moment--at that moment--at that moment, thinking of
Lord Eskdale; but I was as mum as a mouse--mum as a mouse--mum as a
mouse, while the man was in the room."

Sir John Newark had by this time made up his mind as to the course he
should pursue in case of the Earl of Eskdale's name being again
mentioned, and he instantly caught at Sir James's words, saying.

"Ay, the Earl of Eskdale. Can you tell me anything about him? He must
now be advancing in life."

"Poo, poo! you are thinking of the father," replied Sir James. "He
died last year, quite a young man; not fifty, I should think--I should
think--I should think--married very early, you know, and left one
son--know them all quite well--Lady Eskdale is an old friend of mine."

"Is that the young Lady Eskdale or the old Lady Eskdale!" asked Sir
John Newark; and then, seeing that he had a little betrayed himself,
he added, to cover the mistake, "I suppose the young lord is married."

"Married--married--married! Oh dear, no. He is not married," said Sir
James; "was not a month ago, at all events; I was over the water upon
a little business--business--business. I could not see the old lady,
because she was very ill in bed--in bed--in bed; but I inquired into
all the particulars of the family, and found them better off than most
over there, on account of the Keanton estate--estate--estate."

Sir John Newark was not a little puzzled and alarmed by his worshipful
companion's words, and fell into deep thought; but, as the other
paused, he said, mechanically, merely to fill up the gap-"Ay, about
Keanton?"

"Why, you know," answered Sir James, in his usual rapid manner, "it
was never forfeited, because it was settled upon _her_. People
thought that she had dissuaded her husband from joining our friends.
That was not true; but it saved her property, which was settled
somehow--somehow--somehow, and they have taken care to keep it very
quiet. The tenants pay their rents to an agent--an agent--an agent,
and as little said as possible; for, although Shrewsbury spared them,
out of generosity, and Marlborough because he got something by it, I
dare say, others might have made a snatch at Keanton, which is better
than a penny loaf--a penny loaf--a penny loaf."

"But, I suppose, if the old lady should die, the property would fall
to the Crown?" said Sir John Newark, becoming again interested.

"Oh, no! oh, dear no!" replied Sir James. "The young man was a mere
boy when the father was attainted; and, as they had good interest with
the late Queen, they got a special act of grace in his favour. It is
not generally known; but it is true--true--true, I can assure you. So
he is right on both sides of the house. If King James comes and
prospers, he'll get the Scotch estates and this too, and if the
Elector makes his hold good, and Eskdale keeps quiet, he'll get
Keanton at all events."

"It is a fine property, and might be made better," said Sir John
Newark.

"Yes--yes--yes," rejoined the other knight. "I know it well. It is not
ten miles from me. Know every inch of it--very good ground--too much
up and down--overrun with wood; but very good tenants--all of them
strong loyalists. We might call them all out in a moment of need. But
so, this is not the young lord at your house, after all?"

"I only know him as Colonel Smeaton," said Sir John Newark,
thoughtfully; for the intelligence he had received produced some
vacillation in his mind. "You heard, too, what Lord Stair said of him.
Nevertheless, he has all the air and manner of a nobleman; however,
Lord Stair would not, I should think--"

"That is nothing--nothing--nothing," interrupted Mount. "_Nom de
guerre_ perhaps. I recollect he did take some name like that when
serving with the Austrian troops in Spain and Italy. That is nothing.
Lord Stair is a very shrewd secret man--would not tell tales of his
own friends, desperate Whig as he is. He knows better than that. I
should like to see this young man. Tell you in a minute who he is--who
he is--who he is."

As Sir John had not fully made up his mind, he took no notice of this
broad hint, and Sir James did not receive an invitation to Ale Manor.
What he had heard, however, induced the former to hurry his departure
at any cost, and, after a few minutes more, spent in conversation,
eating, and drinking, he called for his chief groom, and inquired for
the report of the farrier. That report was unfavourable; the beast
would not be in a condition to travel for two or three days; and,
taking leave of Sir James Mount, Sir John Newark instantly proceeded
to purchase a new horse in order to set out for Ale Manor at once.

Before all this could be accomplished, the saddles put on, and every
preparation made, it was nearly seven o'clock, and the knight looked
forward to being obliged to end his journey in darkness. He was well
accompanied, however, for those were somewhat dangerous times; and,
before he was quite out of the city of Exeter, he found that he was
destined to have more companions. Coming at full speed down the
street, Sir James Mount, followed by two servants, overtook him about
a hundred yards beyond the old gates, much to the other's annoyance.

"I will ride with you as far as Aleton Church," said Sir James. "It is
only five miles out of my way--out of my way--out of my way, and we
can talk as we go. There is something I want to tell you in your ear.
Come close--put down your head. Do you know," he continued, in a
whisper, "a party of horse, under Captain Smallpiece, has just gone
out of the town with Best, the justice, and they are right upon
the road before us, as if they were going either to your house or
mine--or mine--or mine? We had better reconnoitre them from the tops
of the hills, and see which way they take. It would not be pleasant to
be at home when such a visit happens."

"Certainly not," returned Sir John Newark, though, to speak truth, he
did not exactly mean what he said. He had his own views, however, and
he rode on by the side of his chattering companion, buried in thought.

"They are gone to Ale to see for my young guest," he thought. "If he
is apprehended, it will serve him right for deceiving me about his
marriage. Ay, and it may drive him, though somewhat too fast, on the
way I would have him go. If I could but find a means of giving him an
intimation to keep out of the way for a time, before the military
arrive at Ale, it would do very well. But the party will never let me
pass them; and, if I traverse the hills with all these men, we shall
be discovered. This babbling old ass, who is not contented with saying
a foolish thing without repeating it thrice, would ruin any scheme he
had to do with. It would be better to seem to humour him, and to
follow his suggestion of reconnoitring. They must stop to water their
horses somewhere; and, perhaps, we can pass them then."

Thus thinking, he rode on up the slope of a hill in front, and soon
after caught sight of the party of horse winding through the valley
below. Well acquainted with every step of the country, he was enabled
to follow them unseen amongst the green lanes and hedgerows, keeping a
wary eye upon them all the way, while Sir James Mount continued to
pour a perpetual stream of idle prattle into his ear, which annoyed
him without distracting his attention from the object in view. The
troop went more slowly indeed than suited the wishes or purposes of
Sir John Newark; but at length they began to ascend towards the steep
bare downs which ran along the sea-coast, on the borders of Devonshire
and Dorset. The man[oe]uvres of the reconnoitring party now became
more difficult; for, though the road was often cut between deep banks,
it was often exposed upon the bare side of the hill, and worthy Sir
James became very unruly. He had no diffidence of his own powers, and
he would at once have taken the command of an army, although he had
never seen a cannon fired in all his life; nor was he willing at all
to submit to the cooler discretion of his companion, who sought to
pass quietly through the hollow ways, while those whom they were
following crossed the more open ground, and to gallop over the wide
exposed downs, while the soldiers were hidden by any cut or dip in the
road. Struggling with these difficulties as best he might, Sir John
Newark, with his companions, came in sight of the little church of
Aleton, with the scattered hamlet below, just as the setting sun was
spreading a thin veil of purple light over the broad naked face of the
hill. The soldiers had then reached the straggling houses of the
village; and, to the surprise of all who watched them, they were seen,
not only taking the bits out of their horses' mouths, but removing the
saddles, as if they intended to remain there all night.

Sir James Mount was full of conjectures as to their purposes; but Sir
John Newark's resolution was soon taken, and he exclaimed--

"Well, I cannot remain watching them all night, and I do not intend to
slink into my own house by a back way. If you will take my advice, Sir
James, you will ride away by the short cut over the hills. I shall go
on and talk with them."

He saw a little hesitation in his elderly companion's face, and, to
put an end to it, he added--

"For my own part, I have nothing to fear. But I think that journey of
yours 'over the water,' as you call it, may prove unpleasant in its
results. We could not well spare you just at present."

"No, that must not be--must not be--must not be. I think--I think--I
think I had better go. You keep them talking, Sir John, while I gallop
over the hills. They cannot chase me, now, for their saddles are off.
But, upon my life, I believe they are putting them on again.
Good-bye--good-bye?"

And away Sir James went, as fast as he could go, while his companion
slowly rode on towards the hamlet.

At some little distance from the houses, Sir John Newark beckoned up
one of the servants, on whom he thought he could most rely, and said,
in a low voice--

"It is probable that I may stay here some time. You contrive to get
away as soon as it is quite dark. Ride on to the house, and tell
Colonel Smeaton, in my name, that I think it will be better for him to
be out of the way for a few hours. Tell old Mrs. Culpepper to put him
where he can lie concealed, and, if he is inquired for, let it be said
that he is gone away for a few days."

The servant nodded his head quietly, and Sir John rode on.

Round the door of the little public-house was gathered a group of five
or six soldiers, already taking deep draughts of ale; and,
dismounting, the knight exclaimed--

"Holloa, my men, what has brought you into this part of the world? We
are seldom treated with such a sight here."

"I don't know, sir," answered one of the men, civilly; "but Captain
Smallpiece is indoors, taking a glass to comfort him, with the
Justice."

"Are you going to halt long?" asked Sir John Newark, in a careless
tone. "I shall be glad of your escort, if you are going my way."

"An hour and a half, sir, to feed and rest the horses," replied the
man. Having so far satisfied himself, Sir John Newark entered the inn,
and walked straight into the only guest-chamber it possessed.

The Justice and the Captain, not being able to obtain wine, were
discussing the contents of a small bowl of punch, apparently much to
their satisfaction, when the unexpected appearance of Sir John Newark
startled them in their potations.

"Why, Sir John!" exclaimed the magistrate, "we thought you were at Ale
Manor, by this time."

"You made a mistake, gentlemen," said Sir John Newark, drily. "I had
business which detained me in Exeter. But may I ask what is the
meaning of all this military display, which 'startles the land from
its propriety?' Here, drawer, bring me some punch. My horses are so
tired they can go no farther, just yet; and I may as well enjoy this
worshipful society in the approved manner."

The Justice looked at the Captain, and the Captain looked at the
Justice; but at length the latter replied--

"Why, the truth is, Sir John, we were going to pay _you_ a visit at
Ale Manor, and luckily having met with you here, we trust that we
shall have the pleasure of your company on the road."

"That depends upon circumstances, gentlemen," observed the other quite
calmly. "If you have business with me, it can probably he transacted
here as well as at my house."

"Not exactly," answered Justice Best. "The fact is this; the high
sheriff and several of our brother magistrates are not quite satisfied
in regard to this servant of Colonel Henry Smeaton. They think you may
have been deceived, Sir John. It is very easy, you know, to assume a
rude and vulgar manner; and, having received very distinct information
that the Earl of Eskdale, whom we all know to have been attainted in
King William's reign, took his way towards your house, they imagine
that this servant may be the man, and they wish him to be apprehended
on suspicion."

Sir John Newark laughed aloud.

"What need of a troop of soldiers to arrest a single lackey?" he
asked.

"Why, your fishermen in the village are said to be somewhat mutinous,"
replied the Justice; "and, in case of resistance, you know--"

"You do not suppose, sir, that I would resist or countenance
resistance to lawful authority?" interrupted Sir John Newark. "But, if
this mare's nest is so very important a one, I think you might have
ridden on to find it, without stopping at this house to drink punch."

"We had another little business here, besides," rejoined the Justice,
who stood in some awe of Newark; "but our doing so has procured us the
advantage, I hope, of your company on the way:"

"Nothing of the kind, sir," retorted Sir John, sharply. "I certainly
shall not go with you to see a gentleman, my guest, and the intimate
friend of my Lord Stair, insulted in my house, by the pretence that
his servant is the Earl of Eskdale, forsooth! You may go on when you
please. I shall stay here till this unpleasant business is over. But
let me warn you that it be conducted legally; for it shall be strictly
looked to, depend upon it."

As he spoke, a man entered with a leathern apron, a dirty face, a bowl
of punch in one hand, and a tallow candle in the other; for, by this
time, night was falling fast. Sir John Newark's eyes rested on him,
for an instant, and a confused doubtful sort of sensation took
possession of him, which we all of us feel when we see a face that we
know but to which we cannot affix a name. Suddenly, however, the scene
of the statuary's house in London came back upon his mind, and the
round, odd-shaped, never-to-be-forgotten form of Van Noost, was there
before him, in a disguise partaking somewhat of the tapster and
somewhat of the blacksmith. A single glance of intelligence passed
from one face to the other; but not a word of recognition was uttered.
Van Noost set down the candle and the bowl, went back to the tap for a
fresh ladle and glass, and then, rolling out of the room, closed the
door behind him.



CHAPTER XII.

From the turbulent scene amongst the magistrates at Exeter, and the
somewhat annoying occurrences which Sir John Newark had met with on
the road back, let us turn to the quieter doings at Ale Manor House.

Not long was Emmeline's absence from Smeaton and her young cousin. She
came timidly, blushingly, in all the agitation of fresh and strong
feelings; but she soon became more tranquil. Dinner, according to the
directions of Sir John Newark when he left, was served at the usual
hour; and, when it was over, all three walked out to linger away the
time in the summer eventide.

After two or three turns up and down the terrace, Richard Newark
seated himself upon one of the large guard-stones which marked the
separation of the gravel from the turf, from which he commanded a view
of two faces of the house, and there he remained for more than an
hour, whistling lightly, and apparently lost in thought. Emmeline and
Smeaton continued to walk up and down side by side, and their
conversation was carried on in tones too low to be heard from the
windows of the house. Had any one been watching them, well skilled in
the outward signs and symptoms of the sweet madness, he might have
divined by the look of tenderness, by the sudden changes of
expression, by Smeaton's bended head, by Emmeline's faltering and
agitated step, and by the frequent raising of a bright and sparkling
look to her companion's face, that he talked of love, and that she
listened to him, well pleased.

So, indeed, it was. He led her on, step by step, word by word, himself
led on by the growing passion in his own heart. All was said between
them which could be said; and, before that walk was half over, they
were plighted to each other, not only in heart and affection, but by
words and vows. It might be somewhat sudden; but--as I have
endeavoured often enough before to make the reader comprehend--there
is no such thing as time. The flowing of events constitutes what we
call time. The revolution of the earth round its axis--man's day--is
the measure which we have capriciously adopted to mete the passing
stream; but how inadequate is that measure to express the value of the
thing measured! 'Tis just as if we should sell at the same price the
yard of cloth of gold and the yard of dull serge. The events of one
day are not more like the events of another than those two woofs.
Thoughts and feelings are also events--the events of the mind and
soul; and, measured by them, how long a space had Smeaton known
Emmeline! The last four-and-twenty hours to both had been a life-time.
Cleared of the great mistake regarding time, they had not loved
suddenly.

In the little scene which I have depicted--the two lovers walking
to and fro within sight of the house--sometimes under the green
trees, it is true, but more often upon the soft turf before the
terrace--Richard Newark, sitting whistling on the guard-stone--the sky
putting on its evening raiment, and the purple draperies of the sun's
couch being shaken down over the west, one thing was particularly
worth remark; namely, the marvellous patience of the boy. He, so
light, so volatile, so full of wild activity, sat quietly there the
whole time. It is difficult to explain it, and I can but say, in
explanation, that he did it without thought, in all simplicity. The
mind might not be very bright or clear; it might be slightly warped
from the right direction; but the heart went as straight as an arrow.
He felt that Emmeline would like to be alone with Smeaton, and he with
her; and, loving them both right well, by an impulse--by an instinct
with which thought had nothing to do--he not only left them by
themselves, but watched that they were not interrupted, and with love
like that of a faithful dog, he watched patiently.

At length, however, Richard Newark rose, and, with a quick step,
joined the two lovers. He had seen some one coming round the other
angle of the house; and he said, with a laugh--

"There is old Mrs. Culpepper upon the prowl again, Emmy. Take care,
pretty bird, take care. That cat's steps are very stealthy."

Emmeline, brighter, but as simple as himself, replied,

"I do not fear her, Dick--I do not fear anything now."

Oh, what a world of revelation was in that little word, _now!_ It
spoke of feelings totally changed--of hope and trust and confidence
sprung up--of the absorption, as it were, of her very being into the
being of another--of the vast assurance with which woman's heart
reposes upon love.

Richard Newark did not remark it; but Smeaton felt it, and was very
happy; for it told him how completely she was his own. They continued
their walk, and caught a glimpse of the old woman's figure moving
quietly along at some little distance; but they heeded it not, and
continued talking in a lighter strain, and of more indifferent things,
but, with the spirit that was in their hearts, giving life and energy
to their thoughts and words, and breathing tones which each understood
as meaning more than the words expressed. There was no weariness for
them. The sun sank gradually through the sky, touched the edge of the
horizon, dropped below it, disappeared. Purple, and gold, and grey,
had each their moment in the western sky, then gave place, and
darkness followed. The stars shone out, bright and clear above, not
large, but very lustrous; and then the moon began to throw her light
upward from the east, preparing to sweep the diamond dust of heaven
away from her path on high.

Still Emmeline and Smeaton walked on, and talked of everything.
Heaven! how their thoughts rambled, shooting up amongst those stars,
flying on fairy wings after the setting sun, wreathing the purple and
the gold into fantastic forms, and twining the evening clouds into
rosy coronals. Aladdin's palace-builders, all spirits as they were,
wrought not so fast or gorgeously as the spirit of love.

But hark! The sound is heard of a distant horse's feet coming at great
speed along the road, and the three companions are retiring to the
house quickly.

The lights had just been lighted, the windows closed, and they were
seated calmly in the smaller saloon, though two of them were trying to
banish from look and manner all trace of the emotions which had risen
up in their hearts, when a step was heard in the marble hall without,
the door opened, and a servant of Sir John Newark entered, followed by
the old housekeeper. The man was dusty from the road; and eager haste
was upon his face, as he advanced close to Smeaton to avoid being
obliged to speak loud.

"Sir John has sent me, sir," he said, "to tell you there is danger
abroad, and to say that he begs you to keep out of the way for a short
time. Mrs. Culpepper will show you a place where no one can find you;
and you had better seek it quickly."

Smeaton gazed at him with some surprise, but without much emotion.

"What is the matter, my good friend?" he said. "I have nothing to fear
that I know of. I really do not see what can be the use of my
concealing myself; for I have committed no offence, and know not that
any one can wish me ill. What is it has alarmed Sir John?"

"I really do not know the whole, sir," replied the man; "but I heard
they had a very stormy meeting at Exeter, and that a party of horse
was sent out in the evening towards this place. We followed them
close, and watched them all along as far as Aleton. There Sir John
stopped, I dare say, to try and keep them as long as possible, while I
came on to give you warning."

Smeaton laughed, notwithstanding the anxiety which he saw in the
countenance of Emmeline.

"My good friend, Sir John," he said, "mistakes altogether my position.
I have nothing to fear from troops of horse, nor from bodies of
magistrates. They may subject me to some little annoyance, perhaps;
but that is all they can do; and I do not think it either needful or
dignified to conceal myself. If discovered, as I probably should be,
the very fact of my concealment would justify suspicion and look like
guilt."

"Perhaps, sir," said the old housekeeper, in that quiet plausible tone
which is so very common to housekeepers, "Sir John may request you to
do this for his own sake more than yours. He may have denied at
Exeter, perhaps, that there is any such gentleman here."

Smeaton looked her full in the face, thinking that she was not paying
any high compliment to her master's sincerity and truthfulness, and
trying to discover from her countenance whether there was not some
latent motive for the course suggested which she did not choose to
explain. It was all blank, however; smooth, calm, and inexpressive;
and, unable to make anything of it, he replied--

"That alters the question greatly; for I suppose you do not speak
without some knowledge, my good lady. However, my best course will be,
in such circumstances, to mount my horse and ride away for a time. If
I meet with any of these gentry, they must take me if they please; but
I should not like to be discovered lurking like a rat in a hole."

Emmeline looked at him sadly, almost reproachfully, as if she would
fain have asked:

"Will you leave me so soon, and peril your own safety thereby?"

But the old housekeeper observed, quietly,

"There is not the slightest chance of discovery, sir. I could place
you in the priest's chamber, where they say that Henry Garnet, who was
afterwards hanged, drawn, and quartered, lay for six whole weeks
without being found out, nearly a century ago. There is a way out from
it, too, beyond the house; so that, if you heard the door above open,
you could get down through the wood to Ale, and away for France in a
fisherman's boat. Sir John, in case of need, would take good care to
have a boat ready and the way clear."

Smeaton changed his mind in a moment; for the woman's words gave rise
to considerations which she little anticipated or knew. He was still
of the same opinion, indeed, that boldly to face inquiry, and to meet
those who were sent after him, would be the best course for his own
safety; for he was well aware that he had nothing to fear from
straightforward conduct; but he reflected, at the same time, that, by
so doing, he might curtail his stay in the same house with Emmeline;
and he moreover foresaw that a time might come when the knowledge of
such a secret entrance to Ale Manor House might be serviceable in more
ways than one.

These thoughts passed through his mind in a moment; but, before he
answered, both Emmeline and Richard Newark had time to speak.

"I beseech you, be guided, Colonel Smeaton," said the young lady,
trying to conceal, as far as possible, from the eyes of the
housekeeper the feelings of her heart. "Depend upon it, my guardian
has good cause for his advice."

"Oh, show it to me, show it to me, Mrs. Culpepper," exclaimed Richard
Newark, alluding to the chamber and passage she spoke of.

"I must not, Master Richard," replied the old woman, in a familiar
tone. "It is not a secret to be trusted to such a rattle-pate as
yours. You and Miss Emmeline must both remain behind, if the gentleman
consents to go, which I think he had better do."

"Well, fair lady," said Smeaton, addressing Emmeline, "as you wish it,
I will consent, although against my own better judgment. Perhaps Sir
John Newark may, after all, have more information than we know; and,
as I believe him to be a very shrewd and prudent man and to wish me
well, I will follow his counsel. I will leave a private message for
him with you and Richard. I will follow you in an instant, Mrs.
Culpepper;" and he then added, in a lower tone: "Send the man away,
and wait for me a moment without. I will follow you directly."

She only replied by a low curtesy, and retired from the room, closing
the door behind her.

"Now, Richard," continued Smeaton, in a whisper, "endeavour to see
which way she takes me; and, if you can discover, tell our dear
Emmeline. Wherever the door of this chamber is, I will come to it from
time to time; and, if I hear a voice I know, I will give such
intimation of where it is that you can easily find it."

"I will find it out, I will find it out," answered the boy, laughing.
"I will watch the old cat every step that she takes for the next three
days, as cunningly as she ever watched any one. She must carry you
food."

"I hope so," replied Smeaton, with a smile. "But be careful; and now
farewell."

He found Mrs. Culpepper quite as near the door as was discreet; but,
if she had been listening, she was disappointed; for the conversation
within the saloon could not be heard.

"Now, sir," she said, in a low voice, "tread lightly, that they may
not hear our steps. This way, if you please, sir."

She led him through the hall, up the large flight of steps to the
floor above, past the doors of his own apartments and those of
Emmeline, and then up a small staircase of five or six steps to a
large old-fashioned room, fitted up in the style of Queen Elizabeth's
days. On one side was an immense bed with green velvet draperies and
canopy, having a plume of feathers like a hearse at each corner; and
on the opposite side the deep-cut windows with a sort of bench of
black oak between them. A number of large pictures hung round the
room, none of which, however, descended to the floor; and there was a
huge fire-place on the left-hand side, which occupied so much space
that it seemed impossible there could be any means of exit here. The
door by which they entered was in the middle of another wall; and the
panelling seemed heavy and solid.

"Now, sir," said the old lady, closing the door, "you would never find
the way in, I think, if I did not show you."

"Perhaps a little examination would discover it," replied Smeaton. "I
have been in countries, madam, where such secret places are very
common."

"I think I might defy you, sir," she said. "Perhaps it is here," said
Smeaton, approaching the black oak bench, and pressing on various
parts of the picture frame above. "These walls are thick enough to
contain a small chamber."

The old woman smiled; and he went on pressing more tightly upon the
frame, and thinking that he felt it yield a little. At length, he
heard the click of a spring, and the frame, moving upon a hinge, came
slowly forward at one side, showing a room or closet within, of about
five feet in width, by ten or twelve in length, raised a foot or two
from the floor.

"Well, that is strange!" cried Mrs. Culpepper. "I never saw that
before. It must be done for a blind."

"Then, is this not the place?" asked Smeaton.

"Oh, dear, no, sir," replied the housekeeper. "You would be stifled in
there. The priest's room is as good a one as this; but that is a good
hint to mislead searchers any way. Shut it up, sir, and I will show
you the other. Will you have the goodness to try and move back the
bed--for it is very heavy."

"I will try," said Smeaton; "but, though I am tolerably strong, I
doubt that I shall be able to do it. We do not see such massive
furniture now-a-days."

As he spoke, he grasped one of the large posts, and endeavoured to
stir the huge bedstead. It moved not in the least, however, and the
old housekeeper stood near the head, holding the light and smiling at
his ineffectual efforts. Smeaton remarked her countenance, and the
peculiar expression which it bore. He saw also that she leaned her
right hand against the post at the top of the bed. Approaching her
then, with a gay laugh, he said--

"I think I have your secret;" but on pushing back the velvet hangings
from the spot upon which her hand rested, he could only perceive one
of two immense iron screws which fastened the bed, apparently
immoveably, to the wall behind it. He made one more effort, however,
to move the bed, but in vain, and then laughingly gave it up, saying;
"I must trust to your guidance, madam."

"Dear me," replied the old woman, "I thought you must be stronger than
I am; but let me try." And, putting her hand gently to the head post,
with hardly an effort, she made the huge bed roll round upon its
castors like a heavy door, still remaining attached to the wall on one
side, but quite free on the other. When it was thus removed, the
fluted velvet back of the bed still remained fastened against the
wall; but it might now be easily seen that this was a door which
opened without difficulty.

Smeaton drew it back and looked into a large and comfortable room. But
he was not a man to shut himself up in a place from which he did not
know the means of exit; and he was running his eye rapidly both over
the wall and the back of the bed, when the old lady said--

"You see, sir, this thing, that looks like a great bed screw, is, in
fact, a catch, which runs into the post and fastens with a spring. To
get into the room, you must press the plate upon the post through
which it passes, and, at the same time, pull up the screw. Without
that, no force on earth would move it. But, the moment you do that,
the bed of itself moves forward a little, the catch is thrown off, and
you can easily roll it round."

"That is the way in," replied Smeaton; "but now, my good lady, tell me
the way out. How am I to unfasten the bed when once you have rolled it
back?"

"That is more easily done than the other," replied the old woman.
"Look here. This iron bar, made like a screw, passes quite through the
beam, with a long handle on the other side, and is fixed upon a pivot.
You have nothing to do but to push down the handle, when the catch
will be thrown off, and the bed will move an inch or two, so as to
prevent it from fastening again. There is, somewhere in there, a block
of wood--a sort of rest which you can put under the handle; and then
nobody can undo it from the outside without pulling the whole to
pieces. I come in here four times every year by myself to see that
everything is in order, and that all moves easily. But we must not
wait talking. I will show you the way, sir."

And she stepped over the skirting board which was left plain below the
opening of the door.

"You see, sir," she continued, pointing to a number of small
loop-holes, both round and square, on one side of the room, "you will
have plenty both of light and air, and there is no fear of anybody
seeing the light even if you made a bonfire here; for those holes are
hidden by the stone work round Miss Emmeline's windows on the one
side, and by the same round the windows of the room we have just left
on the other. I will bring you some supper and anything you may want
out of your room as soon as it is all safe; but you had better not
come out yourself till I come and tell you; for I do not know how you
would pull back the bed again if you were forced to retreat."

"Then show me the other way out which you mentioned," said Smeaton. "I
am not very fond of rat-traps, and stories of these secret chambers
get abroad about the country. So that people may know more of the way
in hither than you believe."

A look of hesitation came upon good Mrs. Culpepper's face, which
instantly gave way to her usual smooth expression; and she said,
"There is no fear of that, sir. Nobody knows anything of this room but
myself and Sir John. I had better go now and make all right below, and
I can show you the other way out when I bring your supper."

"No, indeed, my good lady," replied Smeaton, in a determined tone.
"You must show me now, or I certainly shall not stay. That piece of
mechanism might get embarrassed. I might hear people breaking in. A
thousand things might happen to make my discovery here inevitable, if
I did not know the other way, and I will not be caught lurking here.
If you please, you shall show me now."

"Oh, very well, sir, very well," replied the housekeeper. "It is very
easily found. Be so good as to follow me."

Passing through a door to the left of the loop-holes, she led him
through a passage, curiously constructed in the wall between the upper
and lower row of windows. As soon as it had passed beneath what
Smeaton conceived to be the windows of Emmeline's room, came a very
narrow flight of stairs, and then another passage. Again came a second
descent, steep but broader than the first, which led to what seemed to
have been originally a cellar, arched over in brickwork and of no
great extent. Beyond it was a long passage, evidently underground, and
gently sloping downward till the whole was closed with a stone door in
which was a key-hole.

"The key always lies there, sir," said Mrs. Culpepper, pointing to a
little niche; "but I must tell you that, when you open the door, there
is, just before you, the well, which you must step over to get out, or
you might drown yourself. It is an old well with an arch over it, the
water of which is thought good for sore eyes; so that the people come
here often on a morning to get it; and, when you stand on this side of
the door, you may hear all they say as they gossip round the well. The
right hand path leads away through the wood at the back of the village
to the bay; the left takes round again to the terrace in front of the
house; but that is well nigh a quarter of a mile off, and no horses
can come round here; for the hill is too steep."

Smeaton did not promise himself any great entertainment from
overhearing the gossiping of the fishermen's wives and daughters, but
quietly followed his guide back again to the room above. She there
left her light with him, passed through the aperture, closed the door,
and he could hear her roll back the bed, and the catch click upon the
spring.



CHAPTER XIII.

There are moments in the life of every one, when some sudden and
unexpected change hurries us rapidly through a bustling and exciting
scene, where we are called upon to decide and act suddenly upon
unforeseen conditions, and then leaves us to pause and reflect in
solitude and silence upon what we have just done. The effect is
strange, as all men arrived at mature life must have felt, when, left
to our own thoughts, we scan the busy moments just passed, doubtful
whether impulse or reason have guided us, and still more doubtful
whether impulse or reason have guided us aright. Often the answer is,
"Yes," and often, "No;" and, when it is negative, man, with his great
skill in covering his own faults and follies from his eyes, satisfies
himself by shrugging up his shoulders, and saying--"I acted for the
best--" forgetting too often how much of the fault he would thus
palliate is attributable to the evil habit of not making reason his
ever-present and ready guide. Exercise her daily, use her upon all
occasions, and she will act at the first call. Neglect her for an
hour, she falls asleep, and requires time to be roused. All very
trite; but do any of us remember this as much as we ought?

When Smeaton stood alone, shut up in the priest's chamber, he began to
ask himself if he had done wisely in consenting to be hidden in that
retreat, and he could not but acknowledge that love for Emmeline, and
the thought of obtaining means of access to her under some remote and
uncertain contingences, had shared more in fixing his determination
than the consideration either of his own safety or of his own name and
character. He saw that he had not acted in accordance with reason; but
he too--for he was by no means perfect--treated the error lightly,
saying to himself--

"Well, it is done, and cannot be undone. Let us make the best of it.
There is always a way out of this secret chamber, that is one comfort;
but I had better examine it more closely. I saw the key lying there,
it is true, but I did not satisfy myself that it would turn in the
lock, and it seemed somewhat rusty."

Thus musing, he took the light from the table, and walked quickly
through the passage along which the old woman had led him.

"She was foolish," he thought, "to hesitate about showing me the way.
No one could miss it."

At the end of the lower passage, he found the key lying in the little
niche, and, taking it up, was about to apply it to the lock, when he
thought he heard a step, without being able to distinguish at first
whether it was in the passage behind him, or on the hill-side beyond
the door. He turned round, and looked, and listened; and then clearly
heard the step again, apparently close to him, but on the outside. The
next instant, a voice was heard speaking in a grumbling tone, and with
a strong Devonshire accent.

"I don't see what is the use of sending us down here," it said. "Why,
twenty people could pass us in this wood."

"Never you mind, Jim; do your duty and obey orders," said another
voice. "Let other people think what is _the use_. I am sure you would
never find out for yourself, if it made you take ten steps off your
horse's back. There, get on a little lower down. I'll mount guard
here, where the path turns."

"Oh, ho!" exclaimed Smeaton, to himself; "the search has begun. I may
as well wait here a little. Any one coming down the stairs, and along
the passage, would soon be heard; and I think these two gentlemen
outside would easily be dealt with."

He accordingly put the candle in the niche where the key had lain,
brought the hilt of his sword a little round, and quietly placed the
key in the lock. A few minutes passed in perfect silence, the men
without either standing perfectly still, or sitting on the edge of the
fountain; but then Smeaton's quick ear caught the sound of a distant
footfall, which evidently came nearer and nearer, but not by the
passage in which he was standing.

"Who may this new visitor be, I wonder!" he mentally ejaculated, and,
bending down his head, listened more attentively. The step came nearer
and nearer, and approached the door close to which he had placed
himself. Then, a loud voice cried "Stand!" and Smeaton could hear the
sound of what seemed a spring and a brief scuffle.

"Ugh, ugh! don't strangle me!" cried a good, round, jolly voice. "Man,
I am apoplectic, by the blessing of God and the assistance of capons
and strong waters. If you twist my cravat in that way, you will get
nothing but a dead statuary, which is as bad as a dead lion."

The last words confirmed what the tone of voice had intimated to
Smeaton before, that his good friend Van Noost was the person who had
fallen into the hands of the Philistines; and, believing, from their
conversation that morning, that the poor sculptor had more cause than
himself to fear the pursuit of justice, he felt really sorry for him.

"Lion, or whatever else you may call yourself," replied the soldier's
voice, "you must along with me. Come, come, no struggling, or I'll
break your pate, master. By ----, they say, 'as fat as a lord;' and,
if this is a lord, it is a fat one of the sort."

"Ugh, ugh!" cried Van Noost. "I tell you, you will strangle me if you
drag me in that way."

Smeaton could bear it no more. The impulse to help the poor caster of
leaden figures was too strong to be resisted; and he gave way to it.
In a moment, the key was turned in the lock and the door drawn back,
hiding completely the light in the niche. A slight gleam of the risen
moon showed the waters of the well about three feet across, with a
little path beyond, and a soldier pulling Van Noost along. In a
moment, Smeaton was across the well; the man, hearing a noise, turned
his head; but, before he could see whence it came, or who was his
assailant, a blow from Smeaton's clenched fist forced him to relax his
grasp upon the sculptor, and a second, before he could use his sword,
sent him rolling down the hill-side amongst the trees and bushes.

"Quick! Come with me!" cried Smeaton, seizing Van Noost's hand, and
pulling him on. "Jump!--take a good spring."

The last words were uttered after he himself had cleared the well, and
was standing in the passage, but still holding Van Noost's hand across
the water. Some of the lead of the statuary's profession, however,
seemed to have got into the poor man's hinder quarters, for, though he
made a great effort to follow his conductor, he fell short by a few
inches; and, had it not been for Smeaton's grasp, might probably have
been drowned. The other, however, dragged him into the passage head
foremost, and quietly closed and locked the door.

"Hush!" he whispered, seeing that Van Noost was about to speak. "Hush!
be perfectly still."

"Jim, Jim," cried the voice of the soldier without--"look after them.
They are coming your way--stop them--shoot them dead, if they won't
stand."

As he spoke, he scrambled up again towards the path, displacing a
large stone which rolled down into the valley. Whether the other
soldier took it for a flying enemy or not, I cannot tell; but,
instantly after, he vociferated loudly--"Stand!" and the next moment
the report of a pistol shot was heard.

Smeaton smiled, and whispered to his companion--"All is safe; but keep
perfectly silent."

The sound of many feet running from above was then heard, as some of
the companions of the men below hurried down, alarmed by the shot, and
great confusion, with much talking, ensued, of which only fragments
reached the ears of those in the passage, somewhat after the following
fashion.

"What is the matter, what is the matter?" "Here, come here. They have
gone down here. I had got hold of him by the neck; but another came
up, and knocked me down." "Who did you get hold of?" "They have got a
dark lantern with them; for the light flashed out and dazzled my eyes.
If you don't make haste, they will be gone. They ran straight down for
the bay."

Many other cries, questions, and answers were going on at once; but
two or three of the soldiers, answering the call of the man who had
fired the pistol below, hurried down the path and, accompanied by him,
ran on, some between the back of the houses and the steep hill-side,
and others along the verge of the little stream, thus sweeping the
whole course of the valley till they reached the smooth white sand on
the shore of the bay.

The scene was calm and beautiful, the moon shining brightly over the
sheltered water of the bay, and changing it into rippling silver,
while Ale Head, dark and shadowy, swept like a gigantic wall round the
south-western side, and the opposite point of Ale Down just caught the
gleam of moonlight on its high head. It was a scene which might have
led a lover of the picturesque, or one of the unhappy children of
Imagination, to pause and dream. But the soldiers had no such
thoughts; one single object attracted their whole attention. This was
a fishing-boat, quietly rowing out of the little mouth of the bay, and
darkening a diminutive space on the shining sea beyond.

They drew their own conclusions, which, like most hasty conclusions
from insufficient premises, were altogether false. The boat was merely
filled with fishermen; and, if the pursuers had paused to consider,
they would have comprehended that sufficient time had not elapsed
between the firing of the shot above, and the moment that they reached
the beach, for any person to have pushed off the boat and rowed to the
entrance of the bay. They determined in their own minds, however, that
the persons of whom they came in search had made their escape by that
means, and one said to the others--

"Well, they are off, that's clear, and there is no use of trying to
follow; for, even if we were to get the boats off, I know no more
about 'em than a jackass does of a powder-horn. Do you, Symes?"

"No more than you do, corporal," replied the other. "We had better go
back to the house and tell the Justice."

"Tell the captain, Symes--tell the captain," replied the corporal.
"That is what we must do. We know nothing of Justices. Justice has no
more to do with us than my cap has with a bunch of keys. We act under
our captain, Symes, and to him I shall go and report. Come along, my
men."

In the mean time, while all these events had been passing on the side
of the hill and in the passage near the well, other occurrences had
taken place in Ale Manor House itself, which I must briefly notice.

Richard Newark had crept quietly after Smeaton and Mrs. Culpepper as
far as he dared; and, at all events, had discovered the direction
which they had taken. Emmeline had run out upon the terrace, and,
watching the windows above, had gained some farther knowledge from the
way in which she saw the light travel. Indeed, she clearly perceived
it through the windows next to her own, and it seemed to pause for
some time there. A distant sound, however, caused her to return
suddenly into the house and order the doors to be closed. This had
hardly been done, when the old housekeeper returned; and, going from
servant to servant, in her quiet smooth way, cautioned each to say, if
Colonel Smeaton was asked for, that he had ridden away to Axminster
for the day.

Then came a period of suspense; but it did not last very long; for, at
the end of five or six minutes, the approach of the troopers was
intimated by the noise of their horses upon the terrace. Sundry orders
were given in a loud voice, and then the great bell at the door rang.

"Don't open the door," said Richard Newark, to one of the servants who
was crossing the hall. "Let me see who these folks are."

Then, partly opening one of the windows of the saloon, he called out--

"What do you want, my masters? Do you think we hold a horse fair here,
that you bring so many beasts for sale?"

"Open the door, in the king's name and to the king's troops," said the
officer in command, who had imbibed as much punch as was compatible
with the due exercise of his understanding. "We require to search this
house."

"That you shall not do, were you twice as tall," replied the boy,
boldly, "without a lawful right to do so. Do you know this is the
house of Sir John Newark, a Justice of peace for the county?"

"Oh, let them in, Richard," said Emmeline. "You cannot keep them out."

At the same moment, Justice Best advanced on foot to the window,
saying--

"Let your people open the door, Master Richard. My name is Best. You
have seen me with your father, and must know that I am a Justice of
the peace too. Sir John is aware of our coming, and makes no
opposition.

"Oh, that is another case, worshipful Master Best," replied the boy.
"Open the door, my men, and let in the great magistrate."

Then, taking a light from the table, he went out into the hall and
bowed low with mock reverence as the Justice and two or three of the
soldiers entered.

"Pray, what is your good will and pleasure, and whom do you seek,
worshipful sir?" asked the boy, whose wits seemed to sharpen under
exercise. "As for myself, I am quite harmless. I heard an old woman,
one day, call me an innocent, and my nurse used to call me her lamb.
So that, unless Justice be a wolf, I have nothing to fear from her
fangs. Indeed, this knowledge-box of mine is so empty, that there are
not materials within it sufficient to manufacture treason, even
against a farmer's orchard; and, as for robbery or murder, upon my
life they never came into my noddle--always excepting birds' nests and
mackerel in the bay."

"You are a merry boy, Master Richard," returned the Justice; "but our
purpose in coming hither, is to seek a certain personage, passing for
and reputed to be a servant of one Colonel Henry Smeaton. If he is
produced at once, we shall give you no further trouble; but if not, we
must search the house; for we are credibly informed that this man, in
the disguise of a servant, is no other than the Earl of Eskdale, a
known adherent of the Pretender. It is impossible for him to escape;
for the house is surrounded. So you had better produce him at once. As
I wish to do everything with courtesy, however, you had better
communicate what I say to Colonel Smeaton, who may escape injurious
suspicions if he gives his companion up freely."

"Colonel Smeaton has gone over to Axminster this afternoon," said one
of the servants, coming forward, "and won't be back to-night; but, as
for his man, your worship, he was in the hall not a minute ago, and
making all the maids laugh with his funny stories."

"Ah, very likely," replied the Justice. "We have heard he is a jocular
person. This confirms our information. Be so good as to ask him to
walk hither, and remember you have admitted that he was in this house
not a minute ago."

"To be sure I did," retorted the man, surlily; "and I don't doubt that
he'll be in this hall in less than a minute more."

So saying he walked away, murmuring something about a pack of fools,
which the Justice did not hear, or did not choose to hear.

Turning quietly to the door of the smaller saloon, his worship
observed, in his usual soft and courteous accents, "Perhaps, Master
Richard, you will allow me to examine my prisoner in this room. We
have had a long ride, and a seat in a chair would be pleasanter to me
than to remain in the saddle or to stand upon my legs."

"Ay, they seem weakly," answered the lad; "but you shall have right
good leave and license to sit as long as a hen, if it pleases you, and
see what you can hatch--a brood of nonsensicalities, doubtless!" he
added to himself, as he followed the Justice into the room. Then,
raising his voice again, he said--"Here is Justice Best, Emmy, come to
look for Henry Smeaton's servant, accusing him of being attached to
the three Kings of Brentford, and committing high treason against the
wise men of Gotham. He is going to examine him in here, and we shall
have rare fun, I don't doubt. Do stay and see the proverbs of Solomon
put into action."

Emmeline, however, was fain to escape from the room, with an
inclination of her head to the Justice as she passed; for, although
she was desirous enough to hear all that took place, she feared that
her anxiety and alarm might be evidenced too strongly.

It was clear enough to Mr. Justice Best that Richard Newark was
laughing at him; but, as the lad was generally considered in the
county deficient in intellect, he contented himself with saying, "Poor
boy!" and seated himself solemnly at the table.

"This fellow is not coming, it seems," said Captain Smallpiece, who
had followed with some of the soldiers into the room. "I had better
search the house, your worship."

"Nay, nay, nay!" exclaimed the Justice, "have a little patience,
Smallpiece. One of you have the goodness to call in my clerk."

"Here I am, sir," said a small man from behind; and, almost at the
same moment, Smeaton's servant entered the room, with a curious and
peculiar sort of leer upon his countenance, which seemed to show that
he, at all events, entertained no apprehension of the result. He was
followed by the servant who had spoken to the Justice in the hall, and
some other domestics; and, raising his eyes to his face, the Justice
asked, with an important air, "Pray, who are _you_, sir?"

"I am Colonel Smeaton's servant," he answered, with a strong Cockney
accent. "They told me you wanted me."

"Are you his _only_ servant?" asked the Justice, a good deal staggered
by the man's appearance.

"He could not have a better," replied the man; "and, though I'm the
only one, I'm as good as two; for I groom the horses and valet the
master."

"Oh, ho!" ejaculated the Justice. "Now we are coming to it. Methinks a
common lackey, sir, would not put on such a demeanour to a magistrate
of the county acting in the king's name. My lord, concealment is of no
avail. We know all about you, and have full information."

"Lord! lord! _I_, my lord!" cried the man; "to think of my turning out
a lord!--I, who was born in a back garret at the corner of Fetter
Lane, fattened upon the fumes of soap-suds--for my mother was a
washerwoman, your worship--an honest woman, for all that--I, to turn
out a lord! Well, the transmogrifications of this 'varsal world are
miraculous, I do declare. Has your worship got my certificate in that
little book; for if you have, I'll be a lord for all the rest of my
life--see if I don't--and get a pension from the King, to keep up my
dignity."

"Five foot, eleven, and a half," said the Justice, reading from a
paper he had taken out of his pocket-book, and then raising his eyes
to the man's figure. "Deuce take it! he does not seem so tall as
that."

"Five foot three quarters, without my shoes," replied the man,
smartly; "but perhaps I shall grow, seeing that I am only
one-and-thirty, and a peer of the realm. I don't see why I should not
grow to any height, now I have right and title to hold my head higher
than I ever thought to hold it. Humility has shortened me all this
while."

"Come, come, sir," said the Justice, thrown into a great state of
doubt and indecision. "If you are the Earl of Eskdale, you had better
acknowledge it at once; and, whether you are or are not, treat the
Court with respect."

"The Earl of Eskdale!" cried old Mrs. Culpepper, who had come into the
room with the other servants. Then, seeing that surprise had done what
few things ever did do, thrown her off her guard, she added, "No, I
can answer for it he is none of that blood. Why, the Earl of Eskdale
must be an old white-headed man."

"Ay, ay, but that earl is dead," exclaimed the Justice. "This is the
young earl we talk of, my good lady--Mrs. Culpepper, I believe; I hope
you are well, Mrs. Culpepper--but don't meddle with this business, for
I don't think you can know anything about it."

"How can _you_ know, Goody?" cried the servant, turning sharply round
to her, with a mock look of indignation. "Pray don't do me out of my
dignity--I may be a peer or a prince, for aught you know."

"I never saw such a one," said the old woman, sarcastically; "but I
can answer for your being none of the Eskdale family, for they were
all tall handsome men and women; and you are no more like them than a
beggar's cur is like a stag-hound."

"Civil, you see, civil!" said the man. "You perceive that high station
is not without its inconveniences; but if your worship will only make
me out a peer, I will take any title you please. I am quite
indifferent as to names. Suppose you call me Lord Fetter Lane, or the
Earl of Newgate."

"You may soon have a better right to either title than you expect,"
growled Captain Smallpiece, who was difficult to convince; but the
Justice, whose wits were somewhat clearer, though not very pellucid
either, began to have marvellous doubts on the subject of the man's
real condition.

"Pray, sir," he said, "if you are really Colonel Smeaton's servant,
and nobody else, when did you enter that gentleman's service, and
where?"

"In Lunnun town," replied the man, drily, "on the fifth day of June
last, at about half past three in the evening. Thank God, I have had a
good edication, considering the mess I was brought up in; and I am
very reg'lar in my habits--which I owe to my dear departed mother, who
always kept her washing-books very correct, and wiped her hands
whenever she took them out of the tub. She used to say she could
always go into court with clean hands, poor woman; and so can I; for
you see I always keep a little book here in my pocket, in which I put
down when I enter, and when I quit, a service, and I get my kind
masters to sign for me. Some of them don't speak as well as I deserve,
it is true; but still they cannot say much harm. There is the book.
You may look at it."

"Let me see, let me see," said the Justice; and, taking the book, he
read some of the various characters which had been given to the man
before him by the different masters whom he had served; one of which
was as follows:


"This is to certify that Thomas Higham was in my service for eleven
months and three days--a clever fellow, but a saucy rascal--passably
honest, and not given to drink. I discharged him for his impudence.

"HENRY SACKVILLE,

"_Deputy Comptroller of Her Majesty's Household_."


Such was the first certificate he read; but there were a number of
others, all much to the same purpose, which fully accounted for the
time of Master Thomas Higham, from the age of sixteen up to the moment
at which he stood before the magistrate.

"There must be some mistake here," said Mr. Best, beckoning up Captain
Smallpiece and pointing to the papers before him. At that instant, the
report of fire-arms was heard through the window which Richard Newark
had left open, and the Justice exclaimed: "Hark! What is that?"

"Some of the fools let a pistol off by accident," answered the
military officer. "Being fools, they are always committing some
folly."

Having been thus oracular, he proceeded, with a somewhat unsteady
gaze, to examine the certificates before him. He was one of those men
who, even in their most sober moments (and he was not now sober), have
a certain obscurity of mental vision which prevents them from
perceiving anything but what is immediately before them. He stumbled
and blundered through several of the testimonials, repeating from time
to time--"Well, I don't see what that has to do with it. Well, I don't
see--Tom Higham may be a good sort of saucy fellow; but who is Tom
Higham? I should like to know. You cannot tell that this is Tom
Higham."

"But it is very clear that he cannot be Lord Eskdale," replied the
magistrate; "for his lordship is six foot high, and this man is five
foot four. I am sure there has been some mistake. Our information is
decided, it is true, that the Earl was seen passing this way. But we
have no proof that he came to this house."

"Well, we had better search at all events," said the officer.

The magistrate, however, was of a different opinion. He thought he had
gone quite far enough in offending Sir John Newark, of whom he stood
in no little fear; he saw many means which the worthy knight might
have of annoying, if not injuring, him, and knew that he would not at
all scruple to use them.

A somewhat sharp altercation ensued, which highly amused Richard
Newark, and not less Smeaton's servant, who, after it had gone on for
some minutes, interposed with his usual saucy leer, saying:

"Will your worships tell me whether I am to be a Lord or not after
all? I am very willing to be a Lord, if you wish it."

"Hold your tongue, fellow," said Justice Best. "You interrupt me in
explaining to Captain Smallpiece that it would be wrong, discourteous,
and perhaps illegal, to search Sir John Newark's house without
information that an attainted person was actually here. All the
suspicions were of yourself; and, if they turn out to be groundless,
my functions in the case cease. If Captain Smallpiece, indeed, thinks
fit to take upon himself--"

Before he could finish the sentence, one of the corporals of the
regiment, followed by the men who had been down on the beach with him,
pushed his way through the crowd round the door, and saluted in
military fashion his commanding officer.

"Well, what the devil do you want, Corporal? I told you to keep watch
outside."

"I have come to report that they have got off, sir," said the man. "We
could not overtake them before they got into a boat and away."

"Who, who, who?" shouted the magistrate. "Who do you mean by 'they'?"

"Why, the Earl and his servant, I suppose, your worship," replied the
corporal. "I got hold of one of them by the neck; but then up comes
the other, flashed the light of a dark lantern in my eyes, and, before
I could draw sword, knocked me head foremost down the hill. Good luck
to the bush that stopped me. They ran away together down through the
wood, and passed Jim, here, who fired his pistol at them."

"Ay, that I did," said a man behind him.

"They ran away down to the water, however," added the other, "and,
before we could overtake them, had jumped into a boat and were rowing
away out to sea."

"There, there, now," cried Mr. Best. "I told you how it would be." And
he looked straight at Captain Smallpiece, as if the whole of this
mischance had been of that officer's bringing about.

"No, you did not," rejoined the Captain. "You did not say anything of
the kind. You were cock-sure, like all the rest of them, that this
lackey was the Earl disguised, and that you would pounce upon him here
like a hawk on a hedge-sparrow."

"But did you not wish to search the house without the slightest
grounds of pretence?" demanded the magistrate. The officer, however,
turned away from him, with a look of half-drunken contempt, and,
addressing himself to the corporal, asked,

"What sort of men were they, corporal?"

"One was short and fat," said the corporal, "with a great many ribbons
about him. The other was a tall man, and seemed youngish, as far as I
could see."

"The Earl and his servant without doubt," said the Justice.

"I suppose so," grumbled Captain Smallpiece, in a disappointed tone.
"What is to be done now? Shall we search?"

"Search! Search for what," demanded the Justice, "when they have got
off to sea? There is no proof they were ever in the house at all, and
very probably have been, during the time, down in one of the huts.
What is to be done! Why, march off your men as fast as possible, and
let us see how we can patch up matters with Sir John Newark. He won't
forget it in a hurry, depend upon it. I require you, sir, to march off
your men."

"Oh, very well," cried the Captain, indignantly. "That shall be done
faster than you like perhaps. There, sound boot and saddle." And he
walked away to the door.

"Could you favour me with a glass of wine, Master Richard?" said the
Justice, in an insinuating tone. "We have ridden far; and this is dry
work."

"Not a drop," replied the boy, boldly. "You came on a fool's errand;
and you may go dry away. I can tell you, Master Best," he added, with
a laugh, "you'll want all the wit in your noddle to settle accounts
with my father; and it would be unkind to take a jot out of the
canister by putting wine in. You have had quite enough to-night
already, I should think; and, at all events, you'll get no more here."

The servants laughed; and, after trying hard for a look of dignity
which would not come, Justice Best walked out of the room, with his
clerk sneaking behind him, like a beaten cur.

"There, there," cried Richard Newark, running out into the hall and to
the foot of the stairs, "shut all the doors and windows. Emmy, Emmy!
Come down. All the fools are gone!"



CHAPTER XIV.

Having already changed the _venue_ once in the same chapter, I have
judged it best to finish one of those fragments into which the caprice
of authorship induces men to divide romances, before I return to Henry
Smeaton and his companion in the passage. We must now, however, leave
the party in the house, and once more place ourselves by the side of
the well where, soon after the last words spoken by Smeaton, the
moving away of the soldiers towards the beach could plainly be
distinguished; and the path without seemed to be left to solitude and
silence.

"They are gone, my good friend," said Smeaton, at length, still
speaking in a whisper, lest any lingerer should be remaining behind.
"They are gone; but we must still be very cautious, if we would escape
danger. In Fortune's name, what brought you over here, Van Noost? If I
had not seen you in the morning and recognized your voice to-night,
you would still have been in the hands of the Philistines, my good
friend."

"Thanks, great Samson, thanks!" cried Van Noost. "The very next figure
that I cast--if I live to cast any more--shall be the Hebrew giant,
with his friend's jawbone in his hand. I beg your Lordship's pardon
for joking; but it is an evil habit of mine from times of old; and I
shall jest at my last gasp. You asked me why I came here. Odds life, I
do not know where I am; but, if you mean, what brought me towards Ale
Manor, all I can tell you is, that it was zeal--zeal, which, like a
bad huntsman, is always overrunning the good dog, Discretion."

"Hush!" said Smeaton. "Do not speak so loud. But tell me in a whisper
what road your zeal ran this time."

"Good faith," replied Van Noost, "it was in the road of your service,
as I thought; but the truth is this; ever since you left me in the
morning, till towards the close of day, I have been helping the good
old sexton, Mattocks, to clean the monuments in the church, breaking
hard jests upon each other's jests, all the time. I borrowed a
blacksmith's apron, twisted myself up a paper cap, and stripped off my
coat to keep it clean. Your Lordship would not have known me, I looked
so much like a journeyman. Just, however, as we were leaving off our
work, what should I see, to my horror and consternation, but a troop
of horse coming down the hill. There was no time to get my pony, or
wash my hands and face, and escape. You know that side of the hill. It
is as bare and as round as a baby's cheek. So there was nothing for it
but to go down to the little ale-house, keep on the garb I had, which
was disguise enough, and persuade the good people to pass me off for a
tapster. Well, the soldiers came down, swept all the oats of the
hamlet for their horses, called for ale in the true dragoon style, and
sat down to boose round the door, while their captain and a certain
Justice who was with them demanded punch, in a magisterial tone.
Didn't I make the punch strong for them! I paid for an additional
bottle of rum out of my own pocket to fuddle their worships; and, if I
had dared, I would have treated the whole regiment. A minute after,
however, in came Sir John Newark; and he called for punch too. Sharp
words enough passed between him and the others; and suddenly, as I
brought him in his bowl, I found out from what was said that it was
your Lordship these people were going after, and not your poor humble
servant. I argued the matter with myself for a minute. Zeal said, 'Go
and warn the noble Lord.' Discretion said, 'Take care you don't get
caught yourself, Van Noost.' 'A fico for Discretion,' cried Zeal. 'It
is quite dark; the soldiers are all drinking; the pony is at the back
of the house; there is a good piece of green turf which will do as
well to silence his feet as felt to shoe a troop of horses; up into
the saddle, Van Noost, and away. Do as you would be done by, man!' So
I listened to the last speaker, and got off. To say sooth, though I
had some directions, I was not quite clear of the road, and strongly
suspect I trotted fifteen miles instead of five. However, I reached
the place at last, tied my pony under a clump of trees some way off,
and was walking round the house to find a private way in, when I began
to perceive that other people had come straighter than myself. I heard
horses and voices, and saw men and lights; and my wits got into such a
tangle with fright that I could not make out where I was. I ran up one
path and down another, and did not know which way to go, till at
length a fellow got me hold by the throat, half strangled me, and was
dragging me away, when all of a sudden I heard his cheeks give a
squelch just like the sound of a lump of cold lead dropping into a
furnace, then another tap, somewhat harder than one from a lady's fan;
and away he went rolling down the hill. Somebody got me by the paw at
the same moment, pulled me along, through a horse-pond I believe, for
my feet are all wet; and here I am, your Lordship's most devoted
servant; but _where_, who can say?"

"In a safe place for the present, Van Noost," replied the young
nobleman; "and I must care for your security as best I can.--Hush! I
think I hear them coming past again."

Advancing to the door, he put his ear close to it, and listened. A
moment or two after, the men returned from the beach, some of them at
least passing along the same path and talking as they went. Smeaton
listened with deep attention; but Van Noost continued fidgeting about,
notwithstanding an impatient gesture from his companion, who, as soon
as the soldiers had passed by, turned sharply round, demanding--"What
are you doing with the key? You are stopping up the wards."

"No, no," replied Van Noost, "only taking a model. I always carry some
putty in my pocket for the express purpose."

"That is not right," said Smeaton, sharply. "Cease, sir, cease. You
have no business with the key."

"Oh, very well, my lord," assented the sculptor, withdrawing the putty
from the key, wrapping it up carefully in his handkerchief, and
putting it in his breeches pocket. "It is a curious-shaped key too;
and I should like to have a model of it--very old--Queen Elizabeth or
King Edward, I should think."

Smeaton made no reply, but again turned his ear to the door. All
remained silent for some minutes, and then came the blast of a trumpet
above.

"I think they are gone or going," said the young nobleman. "I fancy I
could distinguish the sound of the horses' feet marching away. Listen,
Van Noost!"

"Oh, yes. Praised be God for all things!" ejaculated Van Noost, after
he had listened for a moment. "The vagabonds are gone. Let us get out
of this burrow."

"Stay a minute," said Smeaton; "we had better get more information
first. Wait here for me a short time; and I will go above for
intelligence. They will not leave me long without news if the men are
really gone."

As he spoke, he took up the light, somewhat it would appear to Van
Noost's consternation. "But, my lord, my lord," he said. "I shall not
be able to see if you take away the candle."

"What, are you afraid of the dark?" asked Smeaton, laughing. "Well,
you shall keep it. Only light me along to the foot of the first flight
of stairs. And then, remember, whatever you hear, remain below. If
need should be, and you should ascertain that any of these men have
remained behind to search the place, you can take your chance of escape
by that door; only remember it opens over a well on the hill-side;
and, if you do not leap more lightly than you did just now, you will
go down like one of your own leaden figures, and be drowned; for
the water is up to the brim, and it is deep."

"You forget, my lord," returned Van Noost, "that you were pulling me
along head foremost; and I knew not where I was going. I can leap as
well as any man, with a clear space before me; but one feels some
trepidation in jumping into a dark pit's mouth."

"Well, well, take the candle and light me," said the young nobleman.

Walking quickly on, he reached the foot of the first flight of
steps. Then, leaving Van Noost below, he ascended to the priest's
chamber to wait in darkness for some intelligence. As he stood and
listened--vainly, for some minutes--for any sound in the adjoining
chamber, he had time to ask himself whether he had acted altogether
rightly in bringing Van Noost into that secret part of Sir John
Newark's house; and he concluded that he had no title to do so.

"And yet," he said, to himself, "it is not in reality his house at
all."

But that did not quite satisfy him; and he determined, if he found
that the neighbourhood was clear of the soldiery, to send the good
sculptor forth by the same way he entered, so as to let him see as
little of the secrets of the place as possible.

He was becoming somewhat impatient of the oppressive silence, and felt
half inclined to open the door and look out, when he heard sounds not
far off. A door was opened, closed, and locked, and then the large bed
was rolled round upon its castors. The next instant the light shone
in, and good Mrs. Culpepper appeared, with a candle in her hand. Her
face bore greater traces of agitation than it displayed on any
ordinary occasion, and Smeaton began to fear that he had considered
himself safe too soon; but the old lady's first words dispelled alarm
on that head.

"They are gone, sir," she said, entering the room; "they are gone."
And, with trembling hands, she set the candle on the table.

"I am sorry you have suffered such a fright on my account, Mrs.
Culpepper," said Smeaton, in a kindly tone; "but I can assure you now,
as I did before, that there was nothing to fear on my account."

The old lady seemed hardly to attend to him; and the state of
agitation displayed by so very calm and demure a person set Smeaton's
fancy busy with fears for Emmeline.

"I dare say not, sir--I dare say not," she said, with quick but
faltering accents. "They came looking for the Earl of Eskdale, and
your name is Smeaton. And yet," she continued, gazing in his face,
"and yet--Will you be kind enough, sir, to let me look at your wrist?"

"I have no objection at all," returned Smeaton, a good deal surprised.
"But what can my wrist have to do with this business?"

"I will tell you in a minute, sir; I will tell you in a minute,"
replied the old woman. "Your right wrist, if you please."

Smeaton drew up the sleeve of his coat as far as it would go,
unfastened the studs which held it together just above the ruffles,
and, baring his arm, held it out to her. The old woman took his hand
in hers, and, holding his arm near to the candle, leaned her head over
it. A large irregular scar appeared some two or three inches above the
hand. The young nobleman had often remarked it, but had no
recollection how it came there; and now, to his great surprise, he
found warm drops falling upon it from the old woman's eyes. The next
instant she kissed them away, with an eagerness quite extraordinary;
and then, looking up in his face, with the tears still upon her
cheeks, she exclaimed--

"Oh, yes, Henry, oh, yes, my lord! I know you now. That mark cost me
the bitterest hours that ever I knew in my life."

"Pray explain," said Smeaton. "I do not at all understand what you
mean, nor know how the scar came there."

"I will--I will," she sobbed, wiping her eyes. "Often have you sat on
these old knees. Often have you clung with your arms round this old
neck. I was your nurse, my lord, from the time you were taken from the
breast till you were five years old. You were my nursling, my pet, my
darling. It seemed as if God had sent you to me to console me for my
own child I had lost; and I loved you as few mothers ever loved a
child.

"I recollect my nurse Nanny, very well," said Smeaton. "Can you be
she?"

"Oh, yes! Nanny Culpepper--poor Culpepper, the serjeant's wife, who
was killed," she answered. "But let me tell you, Henry, about that
scar. When you were just about four, you were a dear rash boy, and I
left you only for a minute in a room where there was a fire. In
playing about, you tripped over something, and fell with your arm upon
the burning wood. I heard you cry, and ran back in haste; but I found
you burnt all across the wrist there. I dared not tell my lord or my
lady; for I knew they would be very angry at my having left you; and I
thought I should have a hard matter to quiet you. But the moment I
told you that, if you made a noise, and they found out what had been
done, Nanny would be sent away, and you would never see her again, you
dried your eyes and ceased crying altogether. I never saw a child do
the like; and, though the wound was very painful and I had not much
skill, you suffered me to go on dressing it for you, and doing my best
to heal it, till it was well, without ever letting any one see that
you were in pain. Fortune favoured me, or I could not have concealed
it so long; for those were troublous times. My lord was moving about,
and a great deal in London. My lady was often away, too, anxious for
his safety; and the wound got quite well before they ever remarked
it Then, however, my lord questioned me sharply. I made a sullen
answer, and he would have discharged me on the spot; for he was a
strong-spirited man, and had much to grieve him. But my lady
interceded for me, and I was kept on till he was forced to fly beyond
seas. Then, when she was about to join him, he wrote to tell her what
servants should accompany her. I was pointedly left out, and I know he
had not forgotten me. But how you cried when you left me, I shall not
forget. Oh, sir, you do not know what deep root is taken by the
feelings of our hearts in those early years. Though you have not
altogether forgotten your poor nurse, you have forgotten a great deal
of what passed then; but there is not one thing--no, not one of your
looks, or any of your little prattle--that I do not remember even now.
I love Miss Emmeline very much, too, though she does not know it; but
I can never love any one again as I loved you."

"I am sure I loved you well too," replied Smeaton; "for the
recollection of my poor nurse is the only thing referring to those
days that still remains upon my mind."

"I am sure you did--I am sure you did," she repeated. "But, oh, now,
tell me, my lord, what do you mean by saying you are safe? Your father
was what they call 'attainted,' I think; and that affected all his
family. So how can _you_ be safe! They are cruel laws to punish an
infant for the fault of his father."

"Make yourself easy, Nanny," replied Smeaton, in a kindly tone. "The
attainder was specially reversed, as it affected my mother and myself.
She had good friends at the courts both of William and Ann; and you
know she is a wise, active, and prudent woman; so that she took every
means to secure for her son both safety and competence. It is true, I
might be put to much inconvenience by the suspicions of the
government--nay, plans and purposes, greatly affecting my happiness,
might be frustrated or rendered more difficult of execution than they
are already, if I were discovered; but I have nothing else to fear."

"I think I understand," said the old woman. "Does Sir John Newark know
who you are?"

"He does," replied Smeaton. "It was very imprudently revealed to him
by one who had no business to meddle."

"That is strange--very strange," said the housekeeper, thoughtfully.
"You are not married, are you, my lord?"

"No," answered Smeaton; "but I have much reason to believe he thinks I
am."

"Ay, I see, I see," rejoined the housekeeper. "Now I understand it.
But you must on no account let him know that I have recognised you. He
is shrewd and keen. Beware of him, beware of him; for he pursues his
objects without fear, or remorse, or hesitation; and few know what
those objects are till it is too late to baffle him. He is a kind and
good master to me, because I do everything he tells me, and he does
not fancy that he can be watched as closely as he watches others; no,
nor that a poor creature like me can perhaps make all his schemes
prove vain. Well, well, we shall see. But have a care of him."

"I will," replied Smeaton; "and indeed I am upon my guard against him
already. He is not aware that I know so much of his history and
character as I do."

"He would not suffer you within these doors, if he did," returned the
old woman. "But now you can come out in safety; for these people are
all gone, and they fancy, from some stupid blunder of their own, that
you have got off to sea in a boat, and a fat man with you, whom one of
the soldiers vows he got hold of by the neck."

Smeaton laughed.

"I think I can explain one part of their mistake," he said; "and
indeed I was going to ask your advice upon a point of some
difficulty."

He then related to her all that had occurred with Van Noost and the
soldiers, as far as he knew it; but, when he told her that the good
statuary was even then waiting below, she shook her head gravely,
saying--

"He must not be seen here on any account. Send him away, Henry, send
him away, my lord--"

"Nay, nay," said Smeaton. "Call me Henry still, when we are alone;
and, at other times, call me, and think of me, as Colonel Smeaton. But
this matter puzzles me. I fear that the poor fellow may miss his way,
and get into mischief; for I do not think I can describe the road to
Keanton so that he can find it, not knowing it too well myself."

"You take him out by the door over the well," replied Mrs. Culpepper;
"and I will send round a boy to the path, who shall guide him so far
that he can make no mistake. Sir John must never know that he has been
in there; and hearken--the moment Sir John comes back, he will make
you pledge your honour not to tell the secret of this place to any
one. Therefore, if you wish to tell it--and I think, perhaps, you may,
if I judge right--do so before he returns."

Smeaton paused thoughtfully, and then said, as if speaking to
himself--

"Is it wrong to meet a bad man with his own weapons?"

"No, no," cried the old woman, "quite right. I have been doing so for
the last twelve years, and have beat him at them. You look doubtful.
_I_ have no doubt; and, perhaps, if you knew as much as I do, you
would have none either. But never mind. It shall be done for you. If
you have scruples, keep them. Emmeline shall know without your
telling. Indeed, I have often thought to let her know, as she has a
right, but thought it might be dangerous; for, if he once saw that
there was the least secret between her and me, I should not be here an
hour after, and then all would be lost. But now, get this man away,
and then come back. Tell him to wait upon the path till a boy comes up
to him, and says, 'Keanton,' and then to follow him. I will wait here
till you return, and will find means to talk to you longer to-morrow."



CHAPTER XV.

I am not sure that the phlegmatic temperament, as it is called, is not
the happiest for the possessor thereof. People are apt to exclaim--

"Give us great pleasures, even if they be accompanied by great pains."

Hopeful mankind! ye seldom estimate prospective pains at their real
worth; and ye always over-estimate the pleasures--till they are gone.
Two great races of philosophers, if not more, the Stoic and the
Chinese Mandarins, judging more sanely--I am not quite sure that the
Epicureans might not be included also, ay, and many more sects--have
always sought for the less intense. Whether a respectable fat Bonze,
having his toes tickled by his fourteenth or fifteenth wife, without
the slightest expectation of anything like high sentimental pleasure,
but without the slightest fear of anything like strong mental pain, is
or is not in a more desirable condition than Galileo in his dungeon, I
will not take upon myself to say; yet one thing is certain--that this
world being full of miseries, and when we open the door for one high
enjoyment thousands of pains rushing in, there is some policy in
having but few entrances to the house, and opening them as seldom as
possible.

A phlegmatic temperament has assuredly the advantage of leaving few
assailable points at the mercy of an enemy, and the Dutch are
generally supposed to be as phlegmatic as any other nation; but such
certainly was not the case with Van Noost. Whether, by transplanting,
he had acquired more the character of a sensitive plant than of a
cabbage, or whether the Norman or Saxon blood, derived from his
mother, overbalanced the Frieslandish part of his composition given by
his father, I cannot tell; but certain it is, that he was of a very
moveable and excitable disposition, notwithstanding the national
breadth of his nether man, and the firkin-like rotundity of his whole
frame. His soul was a busy fiery little soul as ever was put into a
heavy body, and most intensely did he fret and fidget during Smeaton's
long absence, although he had a candle to light him, and the coveted
key to work upon. Three times he walked along the passage; thrice he
measured the size of the key-hole; four times he took an impression of
the key; and when, at length, he heard a step coming down from the
rooms above, he was all in, what is expressively called, a twitter,
lest the person approaching should be any but the person he desired.

Whether he had calculated upon a comfortable sojourn at Ale
Manor-House during the night, or whether his imagination suggested
dangers which did not exist on the road before him, or whether his
long evening ride, added to his morning ride, had somewhat bruised and
fatigued the part that pressed upon the saddle, sure it is that he
received the intimation that he must ride twelve miles farther, to
Keanton, with a somewhat rueful air, and sprang across the little well
with less than his promised activity.

Smeaton went first to show him the way, and to help him out if he fell
in; and his so doing gave some confidence to the poor statuary; but he
still besought his noble companion, even after they had both safely
reached the little path, to remain with him till his young guide came.
When this was acceded to, he became much more composed, and hardly
listened to the directions, repeated more than once, which Smeaton
gave him regarding what he was to do at Keanton, so much was he
occupied with the contemplation of the little well and the scene
around. The moon had now risen higher, so high, indeed, as only just
to catch the edge of the waters with a line of silver light; but she
displayed beautifully in her pale beams the small Gothic arch of
stone-work, let, as it were, into the face of the rock. The deep tank
or well at the foot of this acclivity received the bright and healing
fountain, from some spot ten or twelve feet below the surface. The
light through the half-opened door showed the interior of this little
cell with its watery flooring and part of the passage beyond; and the
eye could perceive upon the stone door itself how skilfully the
workmen had marked out the freestone into divisions, so as to render
it like a piece of solid masonry. The effect had been rendered perfect
by the exhalations from the fountain, which had tinted it with many
hues of green, and red, and yellow.

"I don't see how one could open it from without," said Van Noost,
after gazing for a moment. "The well is so deucedly in the way, though
I see the place were the key-hole must be well enough."

"I would advise you not to try, Van Noost," said Smeaton, with a
smile. "Your legs are not long enough to stretch across. I think mine
would do very well."

"Ay, noble lord, I did not cast myself," replied the statuary. "Gad's
life! if we could do that, we might see strange changes, according to
men's taste. Some of your stumpy balustrade fellows would turn out
Apollos; and many a long-legged Antincus would become a clumsy Vulcan.
I am as lengthy in mind as you in limb, my Lord, and could leap over
mountains, if--if--"

"If the body were not heavier than the soul," said the young Earl,
kindly; for he saw that the good man spoke somewhat warmly. "It is not
your fault if Nature made you spread forth broad instead of running up
tall. Some stones are made into a cupola, others into a column; but
they have no choice in the matter, and each had better be satisfied
with his condition. You have one advantage of me, however. You can
make the figures of other men in a better mould than fortune gave to
yourself, and I cannot."

"It would be difficult in your case, my lord," replied Van Noost, well
pleased. "I only long for quiet times to take a statue of your
lordship as a dancing faun."

"Spare me that! Spare me that!" cried Smeaton, laughing. "The faun had
not a good reputation in times of old, nor the dancers in the present
day; and, good sooth! I would rather not appear in public in either
character. But methinks this boy, who is to be your guide, is long in
coming, and I am somewhat anxious to get back into the house again."

"Ay, I can fancy that," replied Van Noost, "if that pretty lady who
was with you this morning be within. Do you know, my noble Lord, you
must set a guard upon your eyes, if you would not have all the
villagers commenting upon your soft sentiments? Why here was the old
sexton, Mattocks, saying what a handsome couple you would make, and
only thinking of burying you both all the time, though he talked of
nothing worse than marriage."

"It would be a pity to stop them," answered Smeaton. "I should imagine
they have little to think of, and a marriage or a funeral must be a
God-send to the gossips of the place. But now, my good Van Noost,
remember, when you are at Keanton you must be very discreet, or you
may get into trouble. Keep the eyes of the people off you as much as
possible, and mind not to exercise too much in dangerous places."

"But bless your lordship, what am I to do?" exclaimed Van Noost. "You
know mine is an active bustling spirit; and, if I am not to exercise
my genius upon lead, I shall probably exercise it upon something else.
Good faith, I must dabble a little in my old trade, even if it be but
in casting little-leaden figures of soldiers and dairymaids,
hand-in-hand, for the benefit of the children of the tenantry."

"I did not speak of that exercise of your genius," replied Smeaton.
"Cast as many leaden figures as you will, my friend. They can find you
a cauldron as big as a witch's, I dare say; and you can set up a shop
in the old courtyard. But eschew politics, Van Noost, and keep your
hand from the treason-pot. You have put your fat in peril already, it
would appear, my good friend. So keep quiet till the danger has passed
away. Here comes the boy, I think."

It was as he supposed; and, though the boy, with very limited
instructions, had expected only to see one person to guide, so that he
was somewhat puzzled on finding two, Van Noost was soon placed under
his guidance; and, while Smeaton returned to the house to enjoy for a
short space longer sweet converse with Emmeline, the worthy statuary
moved away to seek for the pony he had left tied under a tree. It was
easily found; for, having been left at some distance, it had escaped
all notice from the soldiery; but the beast was tired with its
exertions during the day, and was very willing to go at such a pace as
suited the convenience of the young guide.

The way seemed to Van Noost interminably long, as all new ways do in
the dark; but the distance was in reality by no means very great, and
at length the boy, who had chatted very freely with the statuary as
they went, pointed to the entrance of a road between two deep
hedgerows, telling Van Noost to follow it straight on, and it would
lead him to Keanton House.

"There are seven gates to open," said the boy, "and about half a mile
over the turf. You cannot miss the road, for it is all straight."

Van Noost, however, did contrive to miss the road; for when he came
upon the turf, the moon had gone down; the tracks of the road had
disappeared; and, instead of going on as his face was pointed, he
turned a little to the left, which led him away from the object he had
in view. The summer sun, however, soon befriended him; first by
showing him, in the grey twilight of the early morning that he had
gone wrong, and then, by greater light, enabling him to get right. He
had to turn back nearly a mile, however, the road lying all the way
over smooth green turf, covering the gentle undulations of the
country, with no indications of a path, but here and there the track
of cartwheels in the soft sward, or the prints of a horse's feet. Van
Noost was led on, indeed, and in the right direction, by the sight of
some fine old trees rising up over the edge of a hollow at the
distance of about a mile, and some chimneys, and sharp-pointed gables
and roofs, breaking the rounded lines of the foliage.

The sun was just up when the statuary, passing through the elms and
oaks, came in sight of the whole building, a fine old irregular mass
of brickwork, somewhat like an antique French château, with tall
masses of no-styled architecture, small windows very irregularly
disposed, and a somewhat superfluous number of doors. Grey and yellow
lichens and green moss covered the walls and the eaves; the ivy ran up
many of the square tower-like masses, and the house-leek might be seen
dropping over the edges of the lower roofs. Ten or twelve tall elms,
loaded with rooks' nests, at one corner of the building, marked where
the esplanade began which ran before the principal _façade_; but, on
the side next to Van Noost, appeared a large farm-yard, surrounded by
a low wall and thickly littered with straw, on which reposed a number
of cows, promising a plentiful supply of milk, butter, and cheese. The
early-rising and consequential cock was strutting about in his gaudy
livery; the white, black, and grey ladies of his seraglio were
wandering in quest of food. Numerous were ducks in a pond at one
corner, and a troop of geese, waddling and curtseying and bending
their heads, came forward to taste the morning air, and crop the green
grass upon the downs. But no human being was to be seen; man was
absent from the picture, and Van Noost raised his eye from window to
window, to discover any signs of life within, but in vain.

"This must be Keanton," he said to himself. "It is just the sort of
place; but they seem rather late risers here for country people. If
they had been at the Ridotto last night, or at the Water theatre, or
at the Italians, they might well be lagging in bed; but here, where
they have nothing to do but lie down and go to sleep when the sun
sets, they might very well get up when he rises, methinks. Hark!"

The sounds which had called his attention increased, and round the
corner, by the rookery, came a young peasant-lad in his broad hat and
his yellow frock, whistling gaily. All Van Noost's weariness and
wandering were forgotten in the joyful sight; and, whipping on his
pony, he rode up to the lad, asking him if there was nobody up in the
house.

"I cannot tell," replied the youth, with a strong Devonshire accent.
"Master Thompson at the farm is up."

As he spoke, he looked very earnestly at Van Noost, and there was a
sly, quiet, inquiring glance of the eye, which did not at all
harmonize with his gay thoughtless aspect the moment before, as he
came whistling along. It was not alone shrewd, but suspicious, and Van
Noost said to himself--

"Ay, ay, these tenants are all well drilled not to endanger their
master's interests by any indiscretion. Now, I will answer for it,
there would be no slight difficulty in getting any straightforward
answer from this good youth. I'll try."

"So, the farmer's name is Master Thompson," he said, aloud. "A very
good name, too. Pray, what is your name, my lad?"

"What is yours?" said the young man, looking him point blank in the
face.

"That is not the question," answered Van Noost. "I asked what yours
is!"

"Then that is not the question either," replied the lad; "but if you
be the gentleman come from Exeter, you ought to know my name."

"I have not been in Exeter," replied Van Noost; "and, even if I had, I
don't see how I should know your name, when I never saw your face
before. If you carried it written upon your forehead like a certain
old lady of Babylon, one might know something about it."

"To be sure," replied the lad; "and so should I know something about
yours. I am not fond of answering questions, master; so, if you have
come to speak to me from Exeter, you had better speak out.
Ballimoree!"

"Ballimoree!" exclaimed Van Noost, with surprise. "What in the name of
fortune does Ballimoree mean?"

"It means good morning to you, master," said the young man, with a
knowing nod of the head; and he walked away, without waiting for any
further question.

"Ballimoree! Ballimoree!" mentally ejaculated Van Noost. "What the
deuce does he mean by Ballimoree?"

And when he had looked after the young man for a minute or two, he
turned his pony's head to see if he could discover the farm-house
which had been mentioned. It was by no means difficult to do so, for
as soon as he had passed the rookery it became visible, with a number
of small houses and cottages, in a little wild dell to the right.

At the door of the farm-house he found a stout elderly man of a very
frank and open countenance, and having his hands in his pockets,
according to the usually prescribed form of English farmers. Riding up
straight towards him, Van Noost considered, as he went, how he should
address him, and make his wishes known.

"The noble lord," he thought, "said I was to ask either for Master
Jennings or Master Thompson; but then I was not told to say
Ballimoree. I was to inform them that I came from the _River Head_,
and to bid them give me shelter, food, and protection. It was to
Jennings I was to say that; but perhaps the pass-word at Master
Thompson's may be, Ballimoree. I'll essay it." And, riding up to the
fence before the farm-house, he hallooed out--

"Your name is Thompson, sir, I believe. Ballimoree."

"My name is Thompson, sir," answered the farmer; "but not Ballimoree.
What is Ballimoree?"

"Upon my life, I don't know," answered Van Noost, frankly; "but a
young lad I met up near the house said 'Ballimoree' to me, and told me
that it meant good morning."

"He was funning you, sir," replied the man. "He is a bit of an Exeter
lad, is Dick Peerly, and they are all full of their jokes. Pray what
is your business with me?"

"I was to tell you, Mr. Thompson, that I come from the _River Head_,"
replied Van Noost, laying particular emphasis on the last words; "and
as I am anxious for some quiet and repose, you or Mr. Jennings are to
give me shelter, protection, and food for a time."

The man's whole manner changed in a moment.

"You shall be right welcome, sir," he said. "It will be better that
you should speak with Master Jennings; but, in the meantime, pray come
in and have some refreshment. The cows will be milked in a minute; but
if you like ale and bacon better, we have as good as any in the land.
Ballimoree! what could he mean by Ballimoree? Pray come in, sir--pray
come in. Give me your horse's bridle. I'll have him put up. A pretty
pony, 'pon my life; but he seems to have had enough of it for once."

"Ay, poor beast, he is as tired as, his master," returned Van Noost,
walking towards the house. "He never calculated upon such a ride, nor
I either."

The farmer pointed to a room on the left side of the entrance of his
house, led the pony round to the back, and returned to his guest after
a moment or two, with a bouncing, rosy, country maid-servant, bringing
in the materials for a hearty breakfast; but that word, "Ballimoree,"
seemed to puzzle him as much as or more than it had done Van Noost,
and he continued murmuring it to himself, even while the woman was in
the room. As soon as she was gone, however, and he had pressed his
guest to take some food, he returned to the subject openly, asking--

"Pray, sir, what sort of a lad was this, that said 'Ballimoree' to
you? I saw nobody go up that way but Dick Peerly."

"Oh, he was a lad of nineteen or twenty, with flaxen curly hair, and
eyes rather close together," Van Noost replied. "He came up at first
whistling like a merry innocent sort of noodle; but, when he began to
speak, he looked 'cute enough."

"Ay, he is a dead hand at whistling," said the farmer. "It must be
Dick Pearly, and 'cute enough he certainly is. I don't half like him;
and, if it had not been to oblige my cousin Sam, I would not have had
him on the farm at all. I'll ask him what he means by Ballimoree."

"Oh, I dare say, it was only sauciness," observed Van Noost, and so
the affair dropped for the time.

Shortly after, Master Jennings was sent for from the great house,
where, it would appear, he acted as a sort of steward. He was a grave
old man in a brown suit, and was very courteous and polite to Van
Noost, as soon as he was told the words which the other had been
instructed to address to him. But he and farmer Thompson made many
inquiries after their young lord, and expressed great pleasure to hear
that he was in their neighbourhood.

"I think he might very well return and take possession openly, sir,"
said Master Jennings, "though things are looking rather bad just now.
Yet, from those who know, I have heard that he is in no danger.
However, that is not our affair; and, of course, we shall not say we
know anything of his being in the country. You had better come up with
me to the great house, and we will soon get a bed ready for you, in
case you would like to lie down after your long ride. Anything we can
do to make you comfortable, I am sure shall be done."

"I want nothing," replied the statuary, "but some clay, a great
cauldron, and as much lead as I can get, and I will show you one or
two funny things."

"Anything you want, sir, shall be got directly," said Master Jennings;
"but the lead may be somewhat difficult--for I don't think there is
much of it down about here. I will show you the way, if you please,
sir."

"Have with you, good Mr. Jennings," exclaimed Van Noost, with a
theatrical air, as far as the stiffness of his hind quarters would
permit of his assuming one; and, after thanking his host of the
farm-house for his courteous hospitality, he walked out towards the
mansion above.

"Ballimoree!" said farmer Thompson. "I wonder what the deuce he could
mean by that. I'll find it out."



CHAPTER XVI.

The account given by Richard Newark to Emmeline and Smeaton, after the
latter had returned, comprised nothing that the reader does not know;
but he told his tale with great humour, and even some degree of wit,
which called a laugh from Smeaton, and made Emmeline smile, although
the former found matter in it for much consideration, and the latter
for much alarm.

It was now apparent that, the moment he resumed his real name and
station, Smeaton would be subject to annoyance and inconvenience, if
not worse, from the zeal of the Devonshire magistrates; and, after
some thought, he resolved to write to Lord Stair, explaining his
position, and begging him to assist in removing the difficulties with
which he was surrounded.

"I am determined," he said to himself, "to take no part in the foolish
struggles which seem likely to take place in this land, and which I
feel convinced can end in nothing but the destruction of those who
promote them. Undoubtedly, I look upon the Stuart race of Kings as
lawful sovereigns of the country, and did wish that the late Queen had
lived long enough to restore her brother quietly to the throne of his
ancestors. But nations have rights as well as monarchs, and it is
somewhat more than doubtful to me whether the great mass of the
reasoning people of this country are not strongly opposed to the
return of their ancient Kings. I will take no share in this business."

Richard Newark himself had some questions to ask, as well as the tale
to tell, and he put them, as usual, somewhat abruptly.

"Well, Colonel," he said, after some conversation, "now tell us all
about the priest's chamber."

"I am afraid I must not, my young friend," replied Smeaton. "That is
another man's secret, communicated to me for my own good, and I must
not betray it."

"Ah, you won't trust me," said Richard, in a sad tone. "I wonder why
it is people will not trust me. I can be as faithful and true as any
one."

"Indeed, I would trust you willingly," replied Smeaton, "with anything
that is merely my own; but this secret I ought not to divulge either
to you or to this dear lady."

"Well, then, I'll try you," said Richard. "Are you, or are you not,
the Earl of Eskdale?"

"I am," replied Smeaton, at once. "I tell you, without the slightest
hesitation, Richard; but I beg you not to divulge the fact till I have
taken measures to effect my safety."

"I was sure of it," cried Richard. "I was quite sure of it. Poor
colonels of horse don't have such beautiful swords to give away; and,
besides, I suppose, there is something in a lord makes him different
from other men. None of you have two heads, I think, nor four arms,
nor eight legs; but yet, lack-a-day, there must be some difference;
for I said to myself, soon after you came here, 'That man is different
from the rest of them.'"

Emmeline looked up in Smeaton's face with a smile, while her cousin
spoke, as if she would fain have said--

"I thought so too."

She spoke not, however, and Richard ran out of the room in his wild
way to see what all the servants were "making of it," as he termed it.
During his absence, which did not last many minutes, words of mutual
tenderness were of course uttered by the lovers; but other matters
were also to be spoken of besides their young affection, and Smeaton
communicated to Emmeline all that had transpired between himself and
old Mrs. Culpepper, expressing, at the same time, his belief that she
might be fully trusted.

The evening then passed quietly for more than an hour; at the end of
which time the trampling of horses and the voice of Sir John Newark
were heard. He did not come into the small saloon for several minutes
after he had entered the house; and, somewhat to Smeaton's surprise,
neither Emmeline nor Richard Newark went out to greet him. But they
knew him and his ways better than Smeaton did. The interval was
occupied in speaking a few words to Mrs. Culpepper, which seemed to be
rather those of inquiry than anything else; but the replies he
received were apparently satisfactory, and he entered the saloon with
a pleasant and half-laughing air. The whole circumstances of the
evening were discussed, he gave his own version of what had occurred,
both at Exeter and at Aleton, he inquired minutely into the events
which had taken place at the Manor House during his absence, and he
ended by saying--

"Well, Colonel, this is a fortunate escape from that which might have
proved to be a somewhat unpleasant affair, and the mistake these men
have fallen into regarding the flight of the Earl of Eskdale, who has
never fled from them at all, will put you quite at your ease, for some
time, and save you, I trust, from farther annoyance."

He glanced his eye towards Emmeline and Richard, as he spoke, as if to
indicate that it might be better to enter into no more particulars in
their presence, and Smeaton very readily took the hint; for, to say
truth, he had more confidence in Richard's kindness that in his
discretion.

When the two younger members of the family had retired for the night,
Smeaton remained, for a few minutes, to give Sir John an opportunity
of explaining himself further, but Sir John Newark did not think it
necessary to say much more upon the events of that day, merely
observing, in a careless and somewhat light tone--

"I hear your lady wife has quite recovered, and I suppose she may soon
be expected to join you."

"You are labouring under a mistake, my dear sir," replied Smeaton, at
once. "I am quite wifeless."

"Why, I thought," exclaimed Sir John Newark, "that your wife was
mentioned between us only the other day." And he assumed, very
tolerably, an air of incredulous surprise.

"I beg your pardon, Sir John," returned Smeaton. "You asked after Lady
Eskdale, and I replied that she was better; but the name of wife was
never mentioned between us. I spoke, indeed, fully with regard to my
mother's illness; but, she being the only Countess of Eskdale living,
I might naturally assume that your words referred to her. I am a
single man, I beg to assure you."

"Well, my lord, a happy condition," remarked Sir John. "Heaven forbid
that I should attribute bigamy to you, or saddle you even with a
single wife, when you have not got one. I would advise you, however,
as you have no wife, to get rid of Keanton; for troublous times are
coming, I can see very clearly; and, although you have contrived to
keep possession of the estate so long, I fear very much you would not
be able to hold it longer, if there should be anything like a
disturbance in the country."

"I trust that will not be the case," said Smeaton, "although I should
not, of course, object to the sale of the place if it could be
effected at a fair price. Yet there are memories which cling about our
old ancestral homes, from the influence of which we cannot well divest
our hearts. I know nothing of this Keanton, though I was born there. I
recollect not one stick or stone about it--have very rarely heard it
spoken of, except for the purpose of giving me information which might
be useful to me in any unexpected change of circumstances.
Nevertheless, Sir John, so strongly is man's weak heart bound by the
fine chain of association, that to put my hand to the deed which
conveyed it to others would cost me a pang, severer, perhaps, than any
other, except that of seeing it wrested from myself and my mother
without that compensation which might secure comfort and happiness to
her old age."

"I fear that the latter may be the case ere long," replied Sir John,
shaking his head gravely. "From all I have heard this day, and all I
have seen, I judge that many months will not pass before we witness
convulsions which will be beneficial to the winning party, but utterly
ruinous to the great body of the English gentry. For my part, I intend
immediately to settle my whole estates absolutely on my son, in such a
manner that he could not be deprived of them unless he were to take a
part which his youth renders impossible. They shall, in short, be no
longer mine, but his; so doubtful am I of the future. As to Keanton,"
he continued, with an easy and unconcerned air, "I have no doubt that
many of the neighbouring gentry would be found ready to pay a
reasonable price for it. I myself should be most willing to come
forward and offer you such a sum, but for the views I have expressed.
I have always a certain amount of money in reserve; but that might be
needful to me in case of any reverses; and it is not sufficient to pay
a just price for such an estate as Keanton. Nevertheless, if at any
time you or your lady-mother should wish by way of mortgage to raise a
sum for any present purposes, command me, and you will find me
delighted to testify my friendship for you by something better than
mere words."

Smeaton made some courteous reply of no great value; and Sir John
continued--"speak of course merely in case you do not sell; but, as I
have before observed, there are many wealthy country gentlemen around
us here, who would be right glad to purchase, I am sure; amongst the
rest, Sir James Mount, an excellent old man, and generally considered
a person of great ability. Of his genius I have my doubts; but of his
high honour and good intentions none. He was talking to me, this very
morning, both of yourself and Keanton. As soon as it came out that the
suspicions of the magistrates were directed towards you, and that they
supposed you were dwelling in my house, he asked me privately if such
were really the case. Of course I did not betray your secret even to
him. He then went on to speak of Keanton, and it seemed to me that it
was a possession he had always coveted."

"He knew my father and my mother in early years," replied Smeaton. "I
have often heard him mentioned. Indeed, I have seen him, I think, but
am not very sure."

"He is most anxious to see you," returned Sir John; "and indeed, if you
think fit to sell the place, I believe he would be found a ready
purchaser. I was sorry to disappoint the good old man, for he
expressed so eager a desire to greet his old friend's son, that I
could have found it in my heart to bring him to my house to-night, had
it not been that I look upon another man's secrets entrusted to me
just as I should upon his purse if left in my care, a thing which I am
bound to return to him untouched."

Now Sir John Newark was well aware that good Sir James Mount had not
in reality a stiver at command, and that his passion for alteration
and building had already compelled him to mortgage his estate. As
Smeaton knew nothing of these circumstances, however, the suggestion
would have excited no suspicion had it not been accompanied by
profession of pure motives and honourable dealing, which he knew did
not form the distinguishing characteristics of Sir John Newark's life.

"I will think of this, Sir John," he said; "and, as to Sir James
Mount's knowledge that I am your guest, I really do not see, so much
as you seem to do, the great necessity for secresy. I have explained
to you that I have, substantially, nothing to fear, except, perhaps, a
little inconvenience from zealous stupidity; but I think, in a few
days, I shall have removed all danger even of that, for it is my
intention to-morrow to write to Lord Stair, begging him to exert his
influence in the proper course for enabling me to reside as long as I
think fit in this country, upon the clear understanding that my
residence here shall in no degree prove detrimental to the dynasty
which he serves. At all events, Sir John, pray do not let my sojourn
with you induce you for one moment to exclude any guests whom you
might otherwise wish to receive; for I cannot at all consent that your
hospitality towards me should so embarrass you, and only regret it has
already produced so much disorder in your household. And now, with
many thanks, good night."

Sir John shook him warmly by the hand; and they parted--Smeaton
retiring to his chamber, to think, if the truth must be told, more of
Emmeline than of aught else; and Sir John to consider his plans
farther, under the aspect which they had now assumed.

Smeaton's carelessness as to discovery was not altogether pleasant to
the knight, who would willingly have seen his young guest more
embarrassed, and he liked not at all the prospect of difficulties
being removed from the course of the latter.

"I must deal with this epistle to Lord Stair," he said to himself. "It
will never do to let Eskdale clear his feet of the birdlime
altogether. But then again, in the meantime, I can work something,
perhaps, out of the indiscretion of that foolish old man, Sir James
Mount. It will be easy, as my guest does not absolutely object to see
him, to get them into such relations that some of the follies of Sir
James may recoil upon the young Earl. If the old knight snaps at the
bait of Keanton, I can advance the money on mortgage of the two
estates. If he do not, he may help to bring about embarrassments which
may make my young bird eager to get rid of what can but be a clog upon
him. And yet this bachelorism of his is an unfortunate affair. If
Emmeline were out of the way, it would all go well. That, however,
cannot be; but I must make myself sure at home."

And, going to the hall-door, he called one of the servants, and bade
the man send the housekeeper to him.



CHAPTER XVII.

The events which immediately succeeded to those recorded in the last
chapter I must pass over somewhat rapidly; for there was nothing that
would much interest the reader in detail. Smeaton's letter to the Earl
of Stair was written and despatched, and it may be sufficient to say
that it never reached its destination.

Sir John Newark, on the pretence of great courtesy and attention,
hardly lost sight of his young guest for a moment, except during the
times when he was giving Richard instruction in the use of the sword.
Smeaton thus had no opportunity whatever of speaking in private with
Emmeline, and the feelings of which the two were conscious kept them
more reserved when in the presence of others than they had been before
those feelings became known to them. The restraint was very painful to
both, and day by day it became more irksome, till, with the impatience
natural to youth--impatience that can never bide its time--Smeaton
felt inclined to do anything rash to put an end to so oppressive a
state of things. Richard, indeed, on the third day, afforded him some
means of relief; for, when they were practising in one of the old
halls with the doors shut, the lad took advantage of a momentary pause
for repose, to say--

"Ay, Colonel, you don't talk to me about it; but I know very well what
is going on in your thumper."

"What do you call my thumper, Richard?" demanded Smeaton, with a
smile.

"Oh, folks call it 'heart,'" answered Richard, "though there is no
meaning in that word, and a great deal in 'thumper'; but what I mean
is, that I know very well you are dreaming all this time about our
dear little Emmeline. My father takes care that you shall not whisper
sugar to her. So, if you have anything to say, you had better tell me,
and I will say it for you, because I am sent out with her every day to
walk, like Shock, the lap-dog. I may as well talk to her about you as
anything else; for she is thinking about you all the time, and falling
into such brown studies that, if you ask her what o'clock it is, she
looks up in your face, and says, 'Tuesday, I believe.'"

"I wish to Heaven I could speak to her alone for about half-an-hour,"
observed Smeaton.

"Ay, you cannot do that," returned Richard Newark; "and I must not
help you; for, if my father were once to find out that I did, there
would be a south-westerly gale and an end of all; but; if you will
only tell me anything you want to say, I'll say it for you, word for
word, upon my honour."

Smeaton had a great objection to confidants, though, in the countries
which he had most inhabited, as well as in the plays and romances of
the day, they were almost indispensable accessories to every love
affair; but there was something in his love for Emmeline too pure, too
delicate, to suffer the idea of entrusting his thoughts towards her to
any one. There was no resource, however, and many a message to her did
he send by her cousin, cautiously worded indeed, but expressive in
some degree of the feelings in his heart.

On the same day that the above conversation occurred, a little after
the hour of noon, a gay cavalcade appeared before the house. Sir John
Newark affected surprise and some alarm at first; but then, suddenly
perceiving that it was Sir James Mount, he left his young guest to say
whether he would be present during that worthy gentleman's visit, or
not.

Smeaton consented to receive him, without the slightest hesitation,
and, the moment Sir James entered the room, recognized a person whom
he had seen at the small court of the exiled Stuarts in Lorraine,
though but for a few minutes. The worthy magistrate, however, advanced
at once toward him, and, taking him respectfully by the hand,
congratulated him on his return to England, not indeed addressing him
by his real title, for Sir James piqued himself on his policy, but yet
with marks of reverence which the old Tory courtier showed to nothing
under the estate of a lord. His language also was so circumambulatory
and reiterative, that it might have puzzled a very keen spy,
unacquainted with his peculiar style, to make out what on earth he
meant, and indeed he rather flattered himself that he spoke, on all
occasions of difficulty, in such a way as to be utterly unintelligible
to ears not initiated.

"I am truly delighted--delighted--delighted," he said, "to see you,
sir, in what may be considered your native country--country--country;
and although, habit being second nature, which is sometimes
better--better--better than first--for why, if second thoughts
are best, should not nature--nature--nature be in the same
predicament?--you may consider other lands--other lands--other lands
to be more your indigenous--indigenous--indigenous soil, nevertheless,
we may felicitate ourselves upon having restored to our country a
distinguished personage--personage--personage, who, like a borrowed
gem--borrowed gem, illuminated a foreign crown--crown--crown."

Smeaton, though somewhat surprised, replied courteously, that he was
exceedingly glad to see a gentleman whom he understood to be an old
friend of his family; and the conversation went on for about half an
hour, as easily as it could do with the sort of hurdle-race talking of
the worthy magistrate. In the course of that conversation, Sir John
Newark took a small but not unimportant part, throwing in a few words
here and there, to guide Sir James Mount in the direction which he
wished him to take. By his management, though that management was not
very apparent, not only was the subject of Keanton introduced, but Sir
James was led to expatiate upon the advantages of that estate, its
close proximity to his own, its charming sites for building, and the
great improvements which might be effected if it had the advantage of
a resident proprietor. Smeaton thought, with a smile--

"The worthy knight seems really anxious to purchase it; and one knows
not, in the state of affairs here, whether it might not be better to
humour him."

Next came a cordial invitation to Mount Place, seconded by some such
words as--

"I trust you will not be under the least apprehension, sir,
in doing me the honour--the honour--the honour of returning my
visit; for I am very discreet--very discreet--very discreet.
The place shall be kept quite solitary--solitary--solitary for the
next three weeks--three weeks, to wait your convenience. Your
excellent lady-mother--mother--mother would assure you of my
discretion; and in case you should be desirous--desirous--desirous of
taking a little--a little peep at Keanton, you can do so--do so--do so
in half an hour, with great privacy. The road is quite lonely, through
quiet lanes--quiet lanes. No Peeping Toms there; all still and
comfortable; not a village or a hamlet on the way; and you can see
what is going on--what is going on--what is going on, without any
risk."

Smeaton declared that his kind friends entertained more apprehensions
for his safety than he did himself, feeling that he had in fact
nothing to fear beyond a short temporary inconvenience.

"All danger even of that," he added, "will be over in a few days; and
I shall therefore have the greatest pleasure in waiting upon Sir James
Mount before my departure from Devonshire."

"Care and caution, noble sir--care and caution--care and caution,"
said the worshipful gentleman, "are always highly expedient under all
circumstances--circumstances. We can never tell what may turn up
to-morrow--turn up to-morrow--turn up to-morrow; and therefore it is
better to take care what we are about to-day."

"Very true, indeed," replied Smeaton, with a smile. And, with this
aphorism fresh upon his lips, Sir James Mount took his leave, never
doubting that he had made a very favourable impression.

Emmeline had been in the room during the above conversation, but had
not received the slightest notice from Sir James Mount, who was too
much taken up with the important secret entrusted to him to think of
anything else for the time. Sir John Newark, however, went out with
his visitor to see him to his horse's back, according to the
courtesies of those times; and Smeaton immediately advanced towards
his fair companion with some laughing comment upon the peculiarities
of the old man's manners. Emmeline, however, held up her finger, as if
to call his attention to what she had to say, and then whispered--

"I wish I could speak with you!--Oh! I wish I could speak with you!
Good Mrs. Culpepper came to me for an hour this morning before I rose.
She is a friend to me, not a spy upon me, as Richard thinks, and I
have much to tell you. Hush! he is coming back!"

Smeaton drew a little farther from her; but yet Emmeline could not
altogether banish the eagerness from her look; and the eye of Sir John
Newark rested on her fair face the instant he entered the room. He
took no notice, however, if he observed anything, but only said in a
gay tone,

"Come, Emmeline, let us ride out this breezy day. Colonel Smeaton,
will you accompany us?"

"With all my heart!" replied the young nobleman; "but I must put on
other apparel."

"So must I," said Emmeline.

"Well, then, to your toilet," cried Sir John. "I will order the horses
in the meanwhile. It needs a good gallop to shake off the load of
worthy Sir James Mount's words, he piles them upon us so rapidly.
Quick, Colonel Smeaton! The horses will not be long."

The moment they were gone, Sir John Newark hurried towards that part
of the house inhabited by the servants; and, ordering the horses as he
passed, entered the room of the housekeeper. Mrs. Culpepper was busily
engaged with an account-book; but she rose when her master entered,
and laid down the pen.

For an instant, Sir John Newark gazed at her in silence, with a look
not altogether placable; but the old lady bore it with perfect
calmness, knowing very well the man she had to deal with.

"I have observed something I do not like," said Sir John, after he had
seen that the door was completely closed; but there he paused, and
turned his eyes to the ground, as if meditating what he should say
next.

"Pray what may it be, sir?" asked the old lady, after waiting a
moment. "Nothing in my conduct, I hope."

"No," said her master; "no. I think you would take care; and yet there
was a look of consciousness on Emmeline's face just now, when I
returned to her and this young man, which has awakened a doubt."

"Indeed!" said Mrs. Culpepper. "What could cause that? Had they been
talking long?"

"Only for a moment," replied Sir John Newark; "and I heard him
laughing just as I quitted the room."

"Then, depend upon it, there was nothing to be afraid of," rejoined
Mrs. Culpepper. "People don't laugh when they are talking secrets. Do
you think he was laughing at anything you had said or done? For then
very likely the lady might look conscious, thinking you might judge
she had taken part in what was offensive to you."

It was happily turned; and, after a moment's thought, her master
answered--

"It may be so. Not, indeed, that it was me he laughed at, but,
probably, the old man, Sir James Mount."

"The old fool!" muttered Mrs. Culpepper, between her teeth. "I would
have him as little as possible in my house, if I had one. He is sure
to make mischief, if he meddles with any one's affairs."

A dark smile came upon Sir John Newark's face; and he thought, though
he did not say it,

"That is what I desire."

There is no tool in a knave's hands so useful sometimes as the
innocent mischief-maker who is dangerous to honest people; and,
although Sir James Mount's inquisitiveness and indiscretion were
usually annoying and sometimes embarrassing to his more astute
neighbour, yet he had often been rendered very serviceable to Sir John
Newark's plans and purposes. Sir John was very confident in his own
abilities, in his knowledge of the world and of the man; and he did
not in the least fear to employ him as a tool in any work where it was
necessary to lead others into difficulty. He seemed, however, to
ponder on his good housekeeper's word's; but his mind soon reverted to
the former subject of his thoughts; and he said, with a sterner air:

"I hope you have relaxed none of the care which I enjoined upon you,
Culpepper. People occasionally get negligent of such charges in the
course of time; and, if I find that such is the case, I must have
fresher service for the same purpose. So beware."

"I don't think you have cause to blame me, Sir John," replied Mrs.
Culpepper, in her usual quiet tone. "I have performed exactly
everything that I promised to perform. I never undertook to watch when
you were in the house; but, when _you_ were absent, or when I am with
her at any distance from your own sight, I will undertake to say that
there is not a step she takes, and hardly a word she utters, that is
unknown to me. If there is anything between her and this gentleman who
is here, the fault is your own, not mine; first, in bringing him
hither, and, secondly, in not watching sufficiently what was passing
under your own eyes."

"You are mistaken, woman," retorted Sir John, sharply. "I _do_ watch
with care that you little know. When did I ever neglect to watch?"

"During the four or five first days that he was here," answered Mrs.
Culpepper, putting a pickling-pot on one of the shelves behind her,
and not losing her composure in the slightest degree. "The second or
third day he was alone with her for an hour in the saloon while you
were talking with Martin, the horse-couper, about some horses you
wanted to buy--"

"And other much more important things," added Sir John, significantly.

"I know nothing about that," replied the housekeeper. "All I know is,
that they were there together; but I do not believe that any harm is
done as yet; for, from words and actions which I have heard and
remarked, I judge they have said little to each other. The
conversation I speak of I contrived to break in upon three times,
though I had no business to meddle with it, you being in the house. I
wonder he is not smitten, indeed; for she is as pretty a creature as
ever eye saw; but then I suppose it is that he has seen a great number
of finer-dressed beauties in foreign lands where you say he has been;
and, if he is poor himself, I suppose he will want money, which he is
not likely to get here. Indeed, he cannot tell that there ever was a
chance of it. These foreign soldier-captains are not the people to
fall in love with ladies without fortunes. No, no, that is not
likely."

She shook her head gravely, as she spoke these words in a moralising
tone; and Sir John smiled again as he felt his suspicions give way
before the old woman's arguments.

"There is much truth in what you say, my good lady," he observed; "but
be pleased to remember that no caution can be too great. I had my own
reasons for bringing this gentleman here; but I have been deceived in
one particular, ay, and helped to deceive myself. They told me he was
married--at least, gave me to understand so. Now, however, I find that
he is not; and, although I do not think he is of a mind, nor in a
condition, to do so foolish a thing as to wed a penniless girl, when
he might do better, yet I will not have the slightest care neglected
to ensure that he has no opportunity whatever offered him of filling
her ear with lover's prattle. I have told you Emmeline must marry
Richard. It is necessary to me and to both of them."

"Very well, Sir John," answered the housekeeper, drily. "I have no
interest in the matter."

"I will give you an interest," said Sir John, laying his finger on
Mrs. Culpepper's arm. "Now mark me; I promise you, upon my honour,
that, the very day which sees Richard's marriage to Emmeline, I will
give you one hundred guineas."--

"Ay, now you _do_ give me an interest," answered the housekeeper, with
a brighter face; "but you will have a hard matter to bring it about,
Sir John; Master Richard is so very young--two years younger than the
lady Emmeline herself--and then you know again that he is really
younger than his years. It is true the young lady likes him well
enough to marry him, I dare say; and, if he were but to fall in love
with her, as I dare say he will by-and-by--for if you keep them always
caged up together what can they do?--she will like him better still.
As to this gentleman here, I don't think there is anything in it. I
must have seen it, I must have known it. They cannot hoodwink me,
though they might blind you."

"How happens it your eyes are so much sharper than mine?" asked Sir
John, with a sneer. "I should like to know your secret, if it is so."

"How happens it?" echoed the housekeeper. "First, because I am a
woman, and next, because you have a great stake in the matter. Men
never see these things; and, when suspicions come across them, always
fix upon the wrong person; and then, when they have much at stake,
they are sure to be blind altogether, or to see crooked. I have not
lived sixty years in the world for nothing, Sir John; and I know men
and women both well."

She shook her head oracularly as she spoke; and, although in
self-confidence there is something rather annoying to others, yet
there is something very impressive too. If a person possessed of it
have any talents, it is sure to double them in the estimation of
others, while it may treble them in his own. Thus, at all events,
something is gained. Even a fool does not suffer by that possession;
for, if it does nothing else, it serves to cover his folly from the
eyes of more modest fools than himself. Sir John Newark knew Mrs.
Culpepper to be nearly as acute as she represented herself, and he
took the rest for granted upon her own showing.

With renewed injunctions, then, to watch everything that passed, not
only during his absence, but when he was in the house, he left her,
and the old lady took up her account-book again, murmuring to herself,
"The knave! He thinks that a hundred guineas will do everything."



CHAPTER XVIII.

Several day, passed, and the time elapsed which was requisite to bring
an answer from London to Smeaton's letter addressed to Lord Stair. But
none arrived, and rumours were thick and busy in the country, of
dangerous proceedings in the north of England, and in Scotland. In the
immediate neighbourhood of Ale Manor, however, the public mind seemed
more quiet and tranquil. Some of the magistrates had relapsed into
that careless indifference from which the intelligence of great
dangers had aroused them; those of a firmer and more consistent
character were tranquil from a sense of readiness and preparation for
any event; and others, more keen, astute, and active, were vigorously
carrying on the measures which they had previously resolved to take,
but with as much quiet secresy as decision.

In the interior of Ale Manor House, the days passed almost without
incident. Both Emmeline and Smeaton saw that they were watched, and
put the greatest restraint upon their actions, words, and looks, that
was possible with a courteous and kindly demeanour to each other.

Mrs. Culpepper glided about as usual; was seen here and seen there,
when nobody expected her; and, by her quiet and demure manner,
satisfied even Sir John Newark that she was obeying his orders
implicitly.

Richard Newark was the only one who enlivened the scene with little
agitations. From time to time, in his rash wild way, and with his
figurative but not very choice language, he would touch so close on
the well-concealed feelings of the lovers as to alarm them both, and
then, darting gaily away to some other theme, leave them scathless. He
kept his father in some anxiety too; for a greater portion than ever
of his careless, almost reckless, spirit seemed to have entered into
him. He contrived to tumble out of a boat into the water far out in
the bay, and might have been drowned, as there was nobody in the skiff
with him, had not swimming been acquired so early, and practised so
continually, that it was almost as natural to him as walking. He burst
a fowling-piece, also, by putting in a double charge in a moment of
forgetfulness. But he escaped without injury, and only mourned over
his shattered gun.

It is not to be supposed, however, that the restraint to which they
were obliged to submit was otherwise than very painful to Smeaton and
Emmeline. They did not see where it was likely to terminate. It was
natural that the male lover should bear this state of things with more
impatience than the lady; for women, even in very early life, have a
sort of prescience that their portion is to endure without murmuring.
Smeaton was almost tempted to cast off all reserve and follow what he
felt to be a rash and even a dangerous course. None know, but those
who have experienced it, how unbearable it is to be constantly in the
presence of a beloved object without the opportunity, even by a
whispered word or a glance of love, to tell the feelings that are busy
in the heart.

How this might have ended, and whether he might or might not have been
hurried into any rashness had this state continued much longer, I
cannot say; for, although he had been well drilled by adversity, by
difficulties, and by dangers, and was competent to deal as calmly as
any man with most of the ordinary things of life, yet he was impetuous
by nature, and the sensations which he now experienced were so new and
strange to him, that he could not bring them under any rule obtained
from experience of the past. That state, however, was not destined to
last long; for, on the fourth day after Sir James Mount's visit, as he
sat in his room very early in the morning enjoying the splendid rising
of the sun, and indulging the thoughts with which lovers vivify the
morning beans, he heard a gentle tap at his door. No sound had
previously disturbed the silence which had reigned throughout the
house during the night; no housemaid's pail had been heard clattering;
no ancient serving-man of matutinal habits had unbarred windows and
opened doors; and, without venturing to say aloud, "Come in," Smeaton
rose to ascertain with his eyes who was his early visitor. He found
good Mrs. Culpepper herself standing in the passage without; but, as
soon as she saw that he was up and dressed, she entered in silence
with her noiseless step, and quietly closed the door behind her.

"I have wanted to see you, sir, for some time," she said; "but Sir
John Newark is all eyes; and I dare not let him perceive that I know
anything at all of you for fear of spoiling everything. But I thought
that old Nanny might very well come to see her boy, even in his
bed-room, and so I got myself up early. There are strange stories
running about the country, sir. They say, people are actually in arms
in the north. Oh, Harry, have nothing to do with them; for this thing
will never succeed, depend upon it. More than one half of the gentry,
and most men of the middle station, are against it."

"I have not the slightest intention, my dear Nanny, to take any part
in these rash movements," replied Smeaton. "I am quite as well aware
of their hopelessness as you can be."

"But I fear Sir John," said the old woman. "I fear him very much. He
is just the man to keep out of all perils himself, and to put other
people in for the purpose of seeing what he can get out of the spoil.
I wish to Heaven you were away, pleasant as it is to see you. I wish
you were in France again. Can you not go, and keep yourself quiet
there?"

Smeaton shook his head with a faint and somewhat melancholy smile.

"I cannot go at present, Nanny," he said. "That is impossible. I have
ties to this land now, more hard to break than those which bind me to
any other."

"Can you not take her with you?" enquired the old woman, in a low
tone. "Listen what I have devised for you. You love her. I know you
love her, and she loves you. Take her with you; marry her under my
lady's eye, and with her sanction; keep perfectly quiet, whatever
takes place in England; and, when all is still again, demand to return
and resume your rights, and I will so work here, while you are gone,
that that dear child shall have her rights too, in spite of all the
cunning of the cunningest man within the four seas."

"But how can it be managed?" asked Smeaton. "And will she go upon so
sudden and unexpected a proposal?"

"Have you said nothing to her?" returned the housekeeper, with a look
of surprise. "Have you not told her all your heart? I thought--I
fancied--I felt sure, on that day that you were so long alone
together, that you must have spoken all that need be said. Why,
besides the ride in the morning, you were walking up and down the
terrace in the evening for more than two hours, with Dick sitting,
whistling, upon a stone at a distance."

"She knows that I love her," replied Smeaton; "and I trust that she
loves me; but it is a very different thing to promise me her hand at
some future period, and to agree to fly with me to a foreign land at a
very short notice. The motives, the objects, her own state and
condition here, the very necessity of her going, even if she did not
go to be my wife, must all be explained to her, and I have no
opportunity of explaining. I see her not for a single instant during
the day without witnesses; and, though I pass up and down the stairs
more frequently, perhaps, than is prudent, for the purpose of catching
one stray passing word, I have never met her."

"That is because it is another staircase," observed the old woman.
"You pass close by her every day; but there is no door open on this
side. Let me see," she continued, pressing her hand upon her eyes. "I
think I can manage it for you; but you must be very discreet. You
know, I dare say, every corner of your sitting-room there beyond, and
you must have remarked a door, like a closet-door, always locked. It
is a closet--a mere slip. It leads out into the passage close by the
state room--behind which is the priest's chamber. The priest's chamber
is close to that of Emmeline, and she can come out of her own room
into the same passage. To-night, when you come to bed, you shall find
somewhere or another--let me see where I will put it--yes, that will
do--you will find, on the upper shelf of that cupboard, there in the
corner, the key of the closet which leads to the passage. To-morrow
morning early, before any one else is up, rise and go through the
closet to the state room. You shall find Emmeline there--or she will
come very soon. But mind you do not linger long together, and do not
make any noise. Speak low--tread softly--and, on no account, open the
way into the priest's chamber; for that would be heard to a certainty
by him who sleeps below. You must get her to decide speedily; for the
clouds are gathering fast, and I would fain you were gone."

"If I am not to stay with her long," replied Smeaton, "it is very
probable that I may not be able to explain all at once."

"Then you must get her to come back the the next morning," said the
old housekeeper; "for you must not stay long together--half an hour at
the utmost--even if you rise at five. Remember, there are people up in
the house always before six; and no one can tell where they may
wander. This is a strange household, sir, where every servant is a spy
upon the other, and the master a spy upon all. It needs skilful
doings; but I so contrive that often, in reporting to him what I do,
the other people do just what I desire. They tell him that I am prying
here and prying there, whenever he is absent, and am in all sorts of
rooms and places, as if I was mistress of the house. That is just what
he wants; and though, now and then, when he catches me creeping about,
and any one is present, he speaks sharply as if he were angry--it is
but a pretence, which no one knows better how to make. _I do_ tell him
almost everything that happens; but that _almost_ covers all I wish to
hide. I do him no wrong, because he has no right in this house; and I
always keep the means in my own hands of baffling him when I please.
If he knew it, I dare say I should soon be found down the deep
draw-well in the garden; but he shall not know it till I am safe
beyond his reach."

"Then I may trust to find Emmeline there," said Smeaton, with a joyful
heart.

"Yes, I think so," replied the housekeeper, in a more doubtful tone
than he liked. "She will never refuse to go, surely. I will persuade
her, somehow; and love will take part with me. Oh, yes, she will come,
I am sure. But now I will go; and, before to-morrow morning, I
must contrive to have the locks well oiled and the key placed for
you.--Good-bye, my dear boy. Be upon your guard against whatever Sir
John proposes; for you cannot tell what scheme may be at the bottom of
anything he says or does."

I must not pause to notice all the mingled feelings which occupied the
heart of the young nobleman after the old housekeeper had left him.
They were agitating enough; and, though her words were well calculated
to encourage hope of the speedy fulfilment of his warmest desires, yet
they plunged him in thoughtful reveries during the day, which did not
escape the keen eye of Sir John Newark. Smeaton saw, however, that his
absent mood, and grave and thoughtful countenance, were remarked; and
he turned suspicion from the course he feared it might take, by
expressing much surprise that he had received no answer from Lord
Stair. Emmeline, too, marked change in his demeanour, and was somewhat
anxious, if the truth must be told; but, for her an explanation was
coming very soon.

I wish that I could, but fear that I cannot, convey to the mind of the
reader the feelings with which she listened to the words of the old
housekeeper when Mrs. Culpepper visited her that night. I dread that I
may suggest, even in the least degree, an idea that she was unwomanly,
forward, or bold, when I say that the thought of seeing Smeaton on the
following morning in private imparted no other emotion than joy; yet
so it was. Emmeline's character, however, was eminently feminine, in
the finest, noblest signification of that word. The idea of a
clandestine interview with her betrothed made her whole heart thrill;
it agitated, almost overpowered her; but it was all with joy. Her
education had involved none of the conventional restraints of women in
her class of society; restrained, tied down, she had been, though in a
different way. She knew not, she could not conceive, that anything was
wrong, anything that could be even construed into wrong, in thus
meeting him she loved. Her spirit sprang to meet his, to tell him all
she felt, to pour into his bosom the pent-up thoughts of the last
week. She could as much have fancied that a skylark could be blamed
for trilling his glad song in air over the nest of his feathered mate,
as she could be by the good and wise for that which she was about to
do. The world is full of conventionalities, which have ever been
accumulating since the creation; they are the fetters of the fallen.
Adam and Eve found them out as soon as they had tasted the fruit of
the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil; and the green leaves which
they twined to cover them formed the first sophistication. But dear
Emmeline was in some sort like Eve before she suffered herself to be
beguiled by the serpent. She had not tasted of that fruit. She knew
little of evil, and had not a heart to imagine it; and, as I have
said, the idea of meeting her lover, and enjoying one quiet hour of
tranquil conversation with him, suggested nothing but thoughts of joy.

Some vague words, indeed, which the old housekeeper dropped, before
she left her, in regard to the coming interview and the influence it
was likely to have upon all her future fate, produced a certain
feeling of timidity, though not great; and she was up and dressed
before Mrs. Culpepper presented herself on the following morning. Her
timidity, however, had by this time increased; and she besought the
old lady to come with her and be present; but Mrs. Culpepper knew more
of love and lovers' feelings than Emmeline, and was quite well aware
that she would be one too many at their meeting.

"No, my dear child, no," she said. "Young gentlemen, when they speak
to young ladies whom they love, do not like to have old women
listening. I will wait in the passage, however, and give you notice
when it is time to part; but, as to everything else, you had better be
alone."

In her heart perhaps Emmeline agreed with the old housekeeper; at all
events, she submitted readily; and, with a faltering step and somewhat
agitated air, followed to the place of interview. Smeaton was there
before her; and he took care to close the door.

I will not dwell upon what passed between them. Many important things
were proposed, discussed, and settled; much was to be told, explained,
and listened to; yet nothing was settled, and very little discussed.
Marvellous how the time ran on in the words of love and the feeling of
happiness! They forgot the future in the present; and they were just
approaching the very object of their meeting, when the old housekeeper
quietly opened the door and told them it was time to part. Then came
the hurried and whispered engagement to meet again on the following
morning, with a pledge to each other to act more wisely and
providently, and use their time to better purposes.

Thus they parted; and Emmeline, agitated and confused with the
inebriating taste of early love, returned to her chamber to dream
dreams of happiness. Her head had rested on his bosom; his arms had
clasped her to his heart; his lips had been placed on hers. It was all
for the first time; and that first time works an eventful change in
woman's heart.

They met again upon the following day; and, though strongly tempted as
they had been before, they were wise and remembered that much had to
be determined. Neither upon this conversation will I dwell any more
than upon that which preceded. The reader can easily imagine what
were the feelings of a young, innocent, inexperienced girl, when a
proposal was placed before her to quit the dwelling in which she had
been brought up--to leave the protection to which she had been
accustomed--and to go in silence and in secresy to a distant land with
one whom she loved dearly, but had not long known. She doubted him
not; she trusted him entirely; she felt sure that he would take no
base advantage of her confidence; she believed him fully when he told
her that she should be to him as a sister till she became a bride; but
yet her heart sank and her limbs trembled; and it was with difficulty
that her lips could be brought to utter the promise.

Smeaton took every pains to reassure and comfort her. Perhaps the
first might seem a strange way; but yet it was a very effectual one.
According to a custom which he had seen in other lands, he bound her
to himself, and himself to her, by a simple form of betrothal. With
her hand in his, he pledged himself to her for ever, and made her
repeat the same promise towards him; then they mutually called upon
God to bless them as they kept that vow; and then he placed a small
jewelled ring upon her finger--an ancient gem of his house--and after
leaving it there for a moment, and pressing a kiss upon the hand that
bore it, he told her to fasten it round her neck with a ribbon, and
keep it always in her bosom.

Still, however, he found her agitated, perhaps I may say alarmed; but
then he whispered a few words in her ear, and all irresolution was at
an end. Emmeline's bright eyes grew brighter as they fixed upon his
face with a look not fuller of surprise than of joy; and, clasping her
hands together, she said--

"Then I go safely, rightly. It is a duty. I no longer fear."

"You shall have the paper to-morrow," said Smeaton; "but as soon as
you have read it, it had better be destroyed. I have kept it concealed
where nobody could find it, even when my baggage was searched in
London; but now, in justice to you, my beloved, I must show it, that
you may feel yourself justified in all that you do."

Again they were forced to part. Little more remained to be settled,
and that they thought would easily be done. The hour, the manner, the
means of flight, were to be arranged; but flight was determined, and
they parted happily.

When Emmeline was in the solitude of her own chamber, however, and
when all she had promised, all she was about to perform, came upon her
mind like a dream--she was moved deeply. Dangers, difficulties, she
thought of little; but the strange newness of all that was before her
alarmed and agitated her. The very thought of quitting the wild lonely
scenes round Ale, quitting them perhaps for ever, produced a very
melancholy impression on her mind. There was not a rock or hill, a
towering cliff, an indentation of the coast--hardly a tree all
around--that she did not know as a familiar friend. They had been the
companions of her youth and of her infancy; she had held more
communings with them than with human beings; she had peopled them with
her thoughts; they had linked themselves to her heart by the strong
ties of association; they had been as brothers and sisters to her in
the solitude of her own meditations; and, in the absence of other
objects of affection, she had clung to them as if they had been living
things. Love must be very powerful, to break through all such bonds,
and to make the heart yield up, with no other portion of regret than a
passing melancholy, all that we have attached ourselves to for many
years. Emmeline was going to quit them all, as she thought--to quit
them all in a few days, and it was not to be expected that she should
do so without some grief; but love had by this time the full mastery,
and she did not and would not repent of the promise she had given. Its
fulfilment, however, was far more distant than she anticipated; and,
before nightfall of that same day, the relation of almost all things
round her had been changed.



CHAPTER XIX.

Sir John Newark was in a peculiarly gay and lively mood when his noble
guest descended to breakfast. He ventured upon a jest or two--a thing
rare with him--and discoursed fluently upon matters of literature and
affairs of state; not very profoundly, indeed, yet speciously and
well. After the meal, he asked Smeaton when he would like to ride over
to Mount Place, and the young nobleman replied--

"In a day or two."

Sir John seemed surprised and a little mortified.

"I understood your Lordship," he said, in a cold tone, "that you would
go to-day, when we were talking of this matter yesterday; and, judging
that it might be as well, that Mount Place should be free of any
unpleasant guests, I sent intimation to Sir James this morning that
such would be the case. True, I should not have meddled. Busybodies
are always doing mischief."

"It matters not," rejoined Smeaton, good-humouredly; for his heart was
opened by its own happiness. "I can ride over to-day as well as
to-morrow; and, as you have sent, I will do so."

"Pray do not put yourself to any inconvenience," said Sir John Newark,
with all his urbanity restored. "I only feared it might mortify the
good old man."

"Nay, I will not do that," answered his guest. "I will set off
immediately."

"Perhaps you had better wait an hour or two," remarked Sir John, "in
case our friend should have any preparations to make."

"Oh, no," returned Smeaton. "I will take the morning ride. The less of
ceremony on such occasions the better. Am I to have the pleasure of
your company?"

Sir John Newark shook his head with a rueful countenance, saying:

"I shall spend the next two or three hours less agreeably. I have some
persons coming to me upon matters of dull business; but, if they leave
me in time, I will join you at Mount Place. And now, my dear Lord, let
me revert to a subject which has been mentioned between us before.
Doubtless Sir James Mount will speak to you about the sale of Keanton.
If so, you will hear what he says and decide accordingly. His offer
may meet your views, or it may not. Should you decline in his case,
and yet wish to raise some money without parting with your property, I
have forty thousand pounds quite at your service upon mortgage, if you
choose to take it. The estate, I believe, is fully equal to such a
burden, still leaving it your own."

They were alone on the terrace at this moment; and, what might have
come next, I cannot say; for their conversation was interrupted by
Richard Newark running up and enquiring whether Smeaton was about to
ride out, as he was wild for a gallop.

"You cannot go with Colonel Smeaton to-day, Richard," replied his
father, gravely. "He is going to Sir James Mount's, where your company
may not be agreeable."

The lad gave a shy sidelong glance at his father, and then, instantly
resuming his light reckless tone, answered:

"I'll ride with him part of the way, then. There can be no harm in
that."

Sir John Newark frowned; but Richard pursued his point, and, catching
Smeaton by the arm, exclaimed:

"Come, let us go and see the horses made ready."

Smeaton followed him to the stable; and, though he returned for a few
minutes to the house in order to make some change in his dress, he saw
his entertainer no more that day.

In less than twenty minutes, he and Richard Newark were on horseback,
and, followed by the young nobleman's own servant and another man,
were riding away in the direction of Mount Place. They spurred on at a
rapid rate, and every minute or two Smeaton could see the boy's eyes
turned to his face with a sort of inquiring look; but he took no
notice--leaving his young companion to explain himself if he thought
fit.

"Don't stay long at Mount Place, Colonel," said Richard, after they
had gone about half a mile. "Mount Place is a rat-trap."

"I do not understand what you mean, Dick," replied Smeaton; "but I do
not think I am likely to be caught."

"What I mean is plain enough," pursued the lad. "I have heard that, in
the year ninety-two, a whole party of gentlemen were taken at Mount
Place, and then again, later still, some more. The old man himself got
off once; but the next time he was taken with the rest, and was
eighteen months in prison. Either the lawyers found out that he was
not a man, but a monkey, and did not hang him, or else they could
prove nothing against him; but they hanged one or two of the others,
or did something with them. So, if I were you, I would not stay long
at Mount Place, for fear of being made to chew unlawful bacon."

Smeaton smiled; but at the same time demanded, in a grave tone--

"Have you any particular cause for your warning, Richard?"

"No--no," replied the lad, hesitating a little; "only two messengers
went off from Ale this morning--one to Mount Place, and the other to
Exeter. I have known harm happen after messengers went off, especially
when they have gone so early."

Smeaton paused thoughtfully ere he replied.

"I will not stay long," he said at length; "it is but a visit of
ceremony."

"Then now I will take some other road," rejoined Richard Newark; "but
mind you are home before dinner, or I shall think they have kidnapped
you."

"No fear of that," said his companion; "but, as your father evidently
did not like your going at all, I think we had better, as you say,
take separate paths."

"How goes it with you and Emmeline?" asked Richard, lowering his
voice, and giving a gay look towards his companion. "Sad work, noble
gentleman! The poor doves in their separate cages have been forced to
silence their cooing. Ah, they will be obliged to come to me, in the
end, to help them." And, laughing lightly, he turned his horse's head
and galloped away.

Smeaton pursued his onward course, directed, from time to time, by the
servant of Sir John Newark, who accompanied him; and at the end of
little more than an hour came to a part of the country where trim
hedgerows and well-cultivated fields showed the neighbourhood of some
gentleman's seat. At length, a long and beautiful avenue of tall elms
was seen, with the road between the trees, sloping gently upwards, and
terminating at what seemed a spacious lawn, with a handsome house
raised upon a high terrace above.

"That is Mount Place, sir," said Sir John Newark's servant; and
Smeaton, telling him that he should have no farther occasion for his
attendance, rode on with his own man.

His old military habits led him to mark everything around him, in
travelling, with greater attention than men usually bestow on small
objects; and his eyes were soon withdrawn from the house and the
scaffold-poles with which the two wings were disfigured, to fresh
marks of horses' hoofs deeply indented in the somewhat soft road.
These traces were very numerous, and it seemed as if a large cavalcade
had recently passed up towards the house. Without slackening his
speed, the young nobleman looked to the right and left, in order to
discover, if possible, whether this cavalcade had been a disciplined
body or not; but the marks of the horses' hoofs were so irregular,
that the suspicion which had first crossed his mind soon vanished. He
easily perceived that some of the beasts had been going at a canter,
others at a trot; some keeping the middle of the road, and some
running upon the green turf under the trees.

Riding on at a good pace, however, the young nobleman soon approached
what he had conceived to be a lawn, which now turned out to be a large
grass court, or bowling-green, surrounded by dwarf walls, with the
road sweeping round, on either side, to the terrace above. He could
perceive servants in gaudy liveries standing at the principal door of
the house; but there was no appearance of horses; and, trotting on, he
dismounted and inquired for Sir James.

"He is within, sir, and expects you," replied the worthy old
blue-bottle whom he addressed; and then, turning to Smeaton's servant,
he added, "Take the horses round to the court at the back."

But Smeaton interfered promptly. "No, no," he said. "Walk them up and
down here upon the terrace. My stay can be but very short."

Thus saying, he turned and followed the servant into the house, passed
through a great hall, and up a fine old oak staircase. As he ascended,
he heard many voices above; but, without hesitation, he went on. The
moment after, the door of a large room was thrown open; and he found
himself in the presence of eight or nine persons besides the master of
the house.

Smeaton was greatly annoyed at the unexpected position in which he was
placed; but his urbanity did not forsake him; and, with good-humoured
cordiality, he met the foolish old magistrate, who came forward and
addressed him somewhat after the following fashion:--

"Dear me, my noble, friend--noble friend--noble friend, I did not
expect you so soon--not so soon--not quite so soon; or I should have
been at the door to receive you--receive you--receive you. Let me
introduce you to Sir Harry Blake--Sir Harry, Colonel Smeaton--Lord
Talboys, Colonel Smeaton." And so he went on round the whole room,
repeating each name three or four times with vast volubility.

Smeaton bowed round; and then, drawing himself up somewhat stiffly to
check any unpleasant communications which he apprehended might be
made, commenced a conversation with Sir James Mount upon the weather
and the beautiful scenery round his house. He could see looks of
surprise and impatience upon the countenance of several of those
present; but he went on in the same strain, giving little opportunity
to his host for a change of topic. At length, however, a square-built
black-faced man, who was present, cut across the conversation,
saying--"I beg your pardon for interrupting you, Sir James; but it is
high time that we should consider the more important objects of our
meeting. I suppose Colonel Smeaton, or by whatever name we are to know
him, will take part in our deliberations."

Smeaton instantly caught at the opportunity afforded him. "Really, I
have to apologise," he said, "for intruding at such a moment. I
expected to find you, my dear sir, quite alone; and, had I known that
any important business was to be transacted here to-day, I should not
have presented myself. I will now immediately withdraw, and trust to
have the pleasure of seeing you again before I quit England."

"But, my dear sir, you do not know--you do not know--you do not know,"
cried Sir James. "Our meeting was quite of a sudden--quite of a
sudden--quite of a sudden. The intelligence that General Foster is in
arms for the King--for the King--for the King, and the rumour that his
Majesty--his Majesty has actually landed--"

"This is serious news indeed, Sir James," interrupted Smeaton, still
drawing towards the door; "but as I have no information myself upon
these matters, and have no authority of any kind, I cannot afford you
advice or assistance. My visit was merely one of compliment in return
for yours; and, as I have business at Keanton, I will take my leave."

With these words, and with a bow to the assembled gentlemen, who
seemed a good deal disconcerted, he quitted the room and descended the
stairs, followed to his horse's side by Sir James Mount, pouring forth
apologies and explanations to which Smeaton turned a deaf ear. He
contented himself, as his only reply, with asking the nearest way to
Keanton; and, having received information from one of the old servants
of the house, (Sir James himself being too much confused by all that
had occurred, to answer him distinctly), he rode away, somewhat
indignant at the situation in which he had been placed. He judged, and
judged rightly, that the persons whom he had seen at Mount Place had
been gathered together in haste on the first intimation of his coming,
with the view of committing him to participation in the rash schemes
which were then beginning to develope themselves; and he clearly saw
that, notwithstanding the studious manner in which the old magistrate
had called him Colonel Smeaton, his real name and rank had been
communicated to every one present.

But other, and even more painful, considerations than those which
affected him personally, now pressed upon his attention. The
intelligence that a gallant, but not very discreet, officer was
actually in arms in a desperate cause, and the rumour that an
unfortunate prince, who, up to this time, had been suffering solely
for the errors of his ancestors, had cast himself madly into the
difficulties and dangers of an ill-considered insurrection against the
existing government, grieved him deeply. By principle or by prejudice,
as the reader may think fit to call it, he was attached to the exiled
house of Stuart; his ancestors had shed their blood and lost their
property in its defence; all the traditions of his family were in
favour of its cause; and perhaps no man might have felt more ready to
unsheath the sword for its re-establishment on the throne of England,
had not many things occurred within the last five-and-twenty years to
weaken in him that hereditary attachment which had brought ruin upon
his father. His early life had been spent at the little Court of St.
Germain, and all that he had witnessed of the mean intrigues of that
court, and the shameless ingratitude of its princes towards some of
their best and most faithful servants, together with the
licentiousness, the weakness, the frivolity, and the baseness of the
principal persons who surrounded them, if not of the princes
themselves, had produced a feeling of disgust which, although it could
not alter his view of the supposed justice of their cause, put an end
to everything like zeal in their favour. He felt with Addison's
friend, the poet Tickell, in the "Epistle to a Gentleman at Avignon:"


    "From James and Rome I feel my heart decline,
     And fear, O Brunswick, 'twill be wholly thine;
     Yet still his share thy rival will contest,
     And still the double claim divides my breast;
     The fate of James with pitying eyes I view,
     And wish my homage were not Brunswick's due;
     To James; my _passions_ and my _weakness_ guide,
     But _reason_ sways me to the victor's side."


The progress of the human mind, and the development of more just
notions of government and of the rights of people as well as of
princes, had been great during the twenty-five years to which I have
alluded. Smeaton had mingled with many classes in many countries, had
heard opinions and arguments which were never uttered in the courts of
Kings, and it was impossible for him to feel in the cause of the house
of Stuart that same devoted attachment which had led his father to
submit to every loss without murmuring, and to bear ill-usage without
complaint. Nevertheless, he felt much pain at the thought of all the
disastrous results which might accrue from the enterprise which had
now commenced, and his ride onward towards his mother's property
was a melancholy one. We must leave him, however, for a little, to
inquire into what followed his somewhat abrupt withdrawal from the
house of Sir James Mount. That worthy magistrate--shrugging his
shoulders, confused and irritated, but thoroughly convinced that
everything he had done or could do was perfectly just, proper, and
discreet--returned to his companions above, and found them in a state
of great excitement. They all fell upon him at once, declaring that he
had altogether misled them.

"Why, this man seems as cold a Whig," exclaimed one, "as any Hanover
rat that ever swam over the sea from Bremen."

"You represented to me," said another, "that he came over expressly to
ascertain what could be done for the good cause."

"You invited me this morning to meet and consult with him," said a
third. "I have your note in my pocket at this moment."

"I doubt whether he is the Earl of Eskdale at all," said a fourth.
"One of that family would not be so lukewarm."

Here Sir James Mount himself, who had, hitherto, only replied by
shrugs and grimaces, found himself on more certain ground, and replied
boldly,

"Why, I know him, Sir Harry. I have seen him myself at Nancy--at
Nancy--at Nancy. There is not a doubt--there is not a doubt--there is
not a doubt of who he is. As to his coldness, it may be all
discretion. He came expecting to see and consult with me alone; and,
as to my inviting you here, gentlemen--inviting you here--inviting you
here, I did it for the best, and on good advice. Look here, what Sir
John Newark says."

And, drawing a note from his pocket, he read as follows:--


"My worshipful and excellent friend, I write you these few words to
tell you that our friend, the Colonel, will be over with you this
morning, to speak upon the important business you wot of. He seems
perfectly confident of his own safety, and to entertain no objection
to meeting any one--in which, I think, he is rash; but I would have
nobody at my house except discreet people, if I were in your case.
Keanton is so near you that, most likely, he will go over there before
he fully decides upon what he will do. It is a very valuable property;
and, I should think, ought to produce a good sum if sold."


"What he means about Keanton--about Keanton--about Keanton, I cannot
divine," said Sir James.

"He means it as a blind," replied one of the others; "and, in case
his letter were to fall into any other hands, he would vow that it all
referred to some matter of ordinary business. Ah! Sir John Newark, Sir
John Newark! we all know him well. He is not to be trusted."

"Stay a minute," said Lord Talboys, "The letter may bear a different
interpretation. Sir John distinctly says that the Earl will decide
upon nothing till he has been to Keanton. Therefore we could not
expect him to open himself to us now. Then again, this matter as to
the sale of Keanton may imply that he wishes first to see what funds
he shall have at command in order to raise men. You say he is a very
celebrated officer, Sir James?"

"Very distinguished--very distinguished--very distinguished indeed,"
replied the old gentleman.

"You had better burn the letter, at all events," said the black-faced
man, who was at once the shrewdest and most determined of the party.
"Here, I will strike a light with a pistol-flint."

"No, no, no," said Sir James Mount. "I may have to show it again--show
it again. I expect several other friends; but he came so soon--he came
so soon--he came so soon. Hark! I hear some of them coming."

Almost as he spoke, one of the servants entered the room abruptly,
with a face in which the nose alone was rosy; and his aspect at once
alarmed the master of the house.

"What is the matter?--what is the matter?--what is the matter?" he
exclaimed.

"Why, your worship, there is a body of foot soldiers half way up the
avenue," replied the man, "and some forty or fifty horses have just
ridden up to the back. I, am sure I don't know how they got into the
park."

The confusion and disarray which now prevailed was extraordinary. Poor
Sir James Mount was at what is commonly called his wit's end. Some
were for running down and gaining their horses as fast as possible to
escape. Others were for attempting to defend the house, and others
were actually at the door of the room to sneak away, when the voice of
Sir Harry Blake was heard, exclaiming--

"Stay, stay. Every one stay. There is no danger whatever, if we act
like brave and prudent men. Should these soldiers come with any
suspicion, we have only to say, that we have met as a body of
magistrates and gentlemen to concert means for the preservation of the
peace of our district, very sinister rumours having reached us of
risings in different parts of the country. No one can deny our right
so to meet, or even say that it was not our duty to do so. Bring a
light directly, Joseph," he continued, addressing the servant. "Offer
no opposition whatever to whomsoever may be at the head of the
soldiers. But the light. The first thing is the light."

As he spoke, he drew the note he had received from Sir James Mount
from his pocket, and threw it and another paper into the fire-place.
All who were present followed his example; and, as the light did not
come as soon as they expected, the pile was set on fire by some
gunpowder and a pistol-flint, and every scrap of paper was utterly
destroyed. This was not done a moment too soon; for the sparks were
still wandering about in the tinder, when the high sheriff of the
county entered, accompanied by the elderly general officer, in the
brown suit, who had played a quiet but important part at the meeting
of the magistrates in Exeter.

"I am sorry to disturb you, gentlemen," said the high sheriff; "but
you have met here this morning in somewhat unusual numbers for
purposes which require explanation."

"Methinks, to a magistrate of your prudence and experience," said Sir
Harry Blake, "but little explanation would be required, if, as I take
it for granted, the sinister rumours which have reached us of armed
risings in various parts of the country have come to your ears also.
But explanation is very easily given. We met in these perilous
circumstances to devise means for preserving the peace of this
district, and I think you will not deny, Mr. High Sheriff, that it was
our duty to do so."

"I was not aware, Sir Harry," replied the gentleman whom he addressed,
with a quiet sneer, "that your zeal for the peace of our Lord the King
was so warm."

"Warm enough to have left a strong smell of burnt paper behind it,"
said the general, looking towards the fire-place. "Pray, what may have
been those papers just destroyed?"

"Some incendiary addresses," replied Sir Harry, readily, with a laugh.
"We thought the flame that they have just made there might be less
dangerous than any other they could light up in the country."

"Ha!" said the old general. "Nevertheless, Mr. High Sheriff, I must
call upon you to do your duty."

The high sheriff looked round the group assembled, and then said--

"I think I know every face here present; but there is one gentleman
whom we expected to have the pleasure of meeting, and who is not
amongst you. Has the Earl of Eskdale been here? Or is he expected?"

"No person of that name has been here," replied one of the gentlemen,
boldly; and then, with a spice of malice, he added, "One Colonel
Smeaton was here a short time ago; but, not liking our proceedings, he
took his departure."

"Oh, Colonel Henry Smeaton," said the sheriff. "That will do." At the
same moment, the general took a step towards the door.

"Then I suppose we may as well break up," said Sir Harry Blake; but
the high sheriff waved his hand, while his military companion quitted
the room.

"Pardon me, gentlemen," he said. "I must request the pleasure of the
company of every one of you to Exeter. Informations have been sworn,
of which you shall have copies. Here are warrants against five of you,
which it will be my painful duty to see executed; and summonses have
been issued against the rest to come in and surrender, which it will
be well for them to obey at once."

As he spoke, the general put his head into the room, saying--

"I must away to Keanton, Mr. High Sheriff, and take a party of horse
with me. I have got the information I wanted from the servants, and
will overtake you on the road to Exeter."

"Join us at Silvercross, general," said the high sheriff. "I shall
much need your counsel and assistance. We have four other friends to
inquire after, remember; so you had better come on as soon as you have
made sure of your man. Now, gentlemen, are you ready, and is it your
intention to come peaceably?"

"Oh, certainly," replied Lord Talboys. "_We_ met to preserve the
peace. _You_ apparently come to disturb it."

"It is all very good--very good--very good," said Sir James Mount, who
had now a little recovered himself; "but I do not know what I have
done to deserve this treatment, and I will have reason for it--reason
for it, when I get to Exeter."

"You shall have reason for it here, my dear sir," replied the high
sheriff. "I think this is your handwriting--if not, it is an
exceedingly good imitation, and, in this letter addressed to Sir
William Wyndham, you tell him there is every reason to believe that
King James is actually landed in Scotland. Now, who King James is, you
best know; but that is a question government is determined to enquire
into in conference with yourself, and therefore I am afraid you must
take a journey to London. Now, gentlemen, I will show you the way, and
I trust that you will follow, without obliging me to send up for you."

Thus saying, he descended the stairs; and one after another of the
party above, with dejected looks and crushed expectations, walked down
after him, passing between two files of soldiers in the hall. Few
words were spoken by any of them; but Sir Harry Blake whispered to
Lord Talboys--

"I would bet a guinea to a pinchbeck shoe-buckle, that Newark is at
the bottom of this."



CHAPTER XX.

Through quiet hedgerows and calm and solitary lanes Smeaton pursued
his way towards Keanton. As he advanced, he thought he recognised the
objects around him. It might be fancy, or it might, indeed, be memory;
but he had often heard the place described, and two well-executed
views of the house and neighbouring grounds always hung in his
mother's chamber. So that a clear brawling brook which cut across the
road, and a group of old oaks upon a knoll, seemed quite familiar to
him, and showed him that he was approaching Keanton rapidly.

Before going to the family mansion, he thought it better to call at
the house of farmer Thompson, and inquire into the state of things in
the neighbourhood. He found nobody within, however, but the stout
servant-maid, who looked at him apparently with some degree of
suspicion, and gave very short answers to his questions. "She could not
tell where Mr. Thompson was," she said. "She did not know whether Mr.
Jennings was at the house or not. Her master might be home soon or he
might not, just as it happened. He was very uncertain, 'specially just
about harvest-time."

"Well, my good girl," said Smeaton, "there are two things I think you
must do for me. Give me a draught of milk, if you have got any, and
call somebody who can tell me more."

He spoke with soldier-like frankness; and the girl laughed, replying:

"Milk you shall have, sir, and welcome, and I'll call somebody else;
but, whether they can tell you more or not, I cannot say."

Leaving him in the passage where he stood, she went away towards the
back of the house, discussing with herself in half-uttered sentences
the question of whom she should call.

"Not Tom," she said; "for he would blurt out everything in a minute,
all about the fat man up at the great house, and all. I'll call Dick
Peerly. There is no getting anything out of him--at least _I_ never
could."

After getting a bowl of milk at the dairy, she mounted upon a stone
step let into the wall of the yard, and screamed at the top of her
voice to good Van Noost's first acquaintance at Keanton, who was
working in the field behind.

"Here, Dick, Dick Peerly," she cried, "come hither. Here is somebody
wishes to speak to thee, man." Having thus vociferated, she carried
the bowl to the stranger.

Dick Peerly sauntered up to the house at her bidding, whistling as
usual; but, as soon as he saw the visitor, he put his hand up to his
forehead as a salutation, with much greater signs of respect than he
had shown to Van Noost.

"Can you tell me, my man, where farmer Thompson is?" asked Smeaton.

"No, that I cannot, sir," replied the lad. "He may be gone to
Ballimoree for aught I know."

"Ballimoree!" echoed Smeaton, gazing at him. "Where is that?"

"Why, you fool, Dick, cannot you give the gentleman a reasonable
answer?" exclaimed the girl. "It is all his nonsense, sir. There is no
such place as Ballimoree."

"I only meant to say, he might be anywhere in the world, sir, for
aught I knew," replied the young man, eyeing Smeaton very attentively.
"But here he comes up the road, if you want to see him."

Smeaton drank the milk, and then, leaving his horse with the servant,
walked on to meet the good farmer, while the maid and the peasant-lad
looked after him down the road. The meeting was too far off for them
to hear any of the words spoken; but, in an instant, they saw the
farmer uncover his head, and stand with his hat in his hand till
Smeaton made him a sign to put it on again. Then, without returning to
the farm-house, they walked away towards the mansion, making a sign to
the servant to follow with the horses.

They reached the great iron gates and went in; the servant followed
and disappeared also; and the girl was turning to her work again, when
suddenly a clattering sound was heard upon the road near, and a small
party of horse came down at full speed.

The moment the lad Dick Peerly beheld them, he darted away to meet
them, and, laying his hand on the neck of the charger mounted by an
elderly man in a plain brown suit, he uttered the word "Ballimoree."


"Ay, Ballimoree, to be sure," replied the general, ordering his troop
to halt, "Are you Dick Peerly?"

The spy, for such he was, nodded his head, saying, in a low
tone--"He's up there at the house, or I am quite out. He came not ten
minutes ago. But go carefully to work, sir; for there are so many ins
and outs in that old place, that he'll get off if you make much
noise."

"Come with me, and guide us," said the general. "We will use all
caution."

The whole party then rode quietly up the road towards the mansion; but
their proceedings had not passed without notice. The servant-girl,
startled and surprised by the suddenness of the lad's spring forward
to meet the soldiers, ran into the front room of the farm-house, and
watched them from the window. Whatever shape her suspicions might
take, she resolved at once that her master should not be without help
in need; and, casting her apron over her head, she ran out by the back
way, from cottage to cottage, and from field to field, saying a few
words to every man and boy she met. The effect of what she told was
instantaneous. All her hearers seemed enraged and surprised. One got a
thick stick, another a flail, another a scythe. One or two ran into
the cottages and brought forth old guns used for frightening the birds
from the corn; and some eighteen or nineteen men, together with a
number of women and boys, were soon directing their steps towards
Farmer Thompson's house, all muttering threats against some one who
was probably no other than treacherous Master Dick Peerly.

In the meantime, Smeaton and the farmer had, as we have seen, quietly
pursued their way to the mansion, and had opened the great door, which
was merely latched. A large old stone hall then presented itself; but
it was vacant, as were also the rooms to the right and left. Voices,
talking and laughing, however, were heard from a distance; and, as the
surest means of discovering where Master Jennings, the steward, was,
Farmer Thompson led his young lord towards the great kitchen, in which
a stout rosy dame was bustling and scolding the maids. From her they
learned that her husband Jennings was out in the little court with
"the fat strange man, helping him in his tomfooleries," as she chose
to express it.

"They have spoiled my best ladle amongst them," she said; "that is all
I know; and I think Jennings is as great a fool as the other, for he
has let the two men be called off their work in the garden for his
nonsensical lead-melting. But, if my lord chooses all this to go on,
there is no help for it, I suppose."

Smeaton smiled; and Farmer Thompson led the way towards the back
court, through empty passages and a number of open doors. In the
little stone-paved enclosure which they soon reached, an animated
scene presented itself. Slung upon a tripod, such as that much in use
amongst our friends of the gipsy race, was an immense large pot or
caldron with a furious fire of brushwood beneath it. Two men in the
garb of labourers were supplying fresh fagots to the flame; and the
steward Jennings, a man upwards of sixty years of age, was standing by
looking on, while Van Noost himself, the presiding demon of the flame,
bustled about, stripped to the waist, and thickly begrimed with smoke
and dirt.

For an instant he did not seem to perceive the approach of the young
nobleman and his companion, so busily was he engaged in looking into
the great pot, and moving some substance in it with a long ladle which
he held in his hand. When he saw Smeaton, however, he rolled towards
him with a joyous laugh, exclaiming--

"Here I am, my lord--here I am, at my old trade, and in your
lordship's service!"

At the same time Farmer Thompson beckoned up the steward and
introduced him to his young master. A few kindly words passed from the
lips of Smeaton, and expressions of respect and attachment from those
of Jennings; after which, Smeaton turned to Van Noost, saying--

"Well, my good friend, what are you about now?"

"Casting balls, my lord--casting balls for pinnacles," replied Van
Noost, turning back to his caldron. "There is not one left in the
place. What is a pinnacle without a ball, more than a cannon without a
shot? Halloo! halloo! who are these gentlemen?"

His exclamation immediately led Smeaton to turn in the direction which
Van Noost's eyes had taken; and he beheld, at each of the three doors
which led into the court, a small party of dismounted troopers, every
man having his cocked pistol in his hand. At the head of one of these
parties was the general officer, in his plain brown suit.

"Halt there!" said the old officer, to the men; and he moved quietly
alone, and unarmed, towards the scene around the caldron.

Without the slightest hesitation or embarrassment, Smeaton advanced a
step or two to meet him, knowing that he himself was the person who
must now speak and think for the rest.

"May I ask," said he, civilly, "to what we owe the pleasure of your
company, sir?"

"To a somewhat unpleasant cause," replied the general, mildly. "One of
the persons without is charged with a warrant for the apprehension of
Henry, Earl of Eskdale. I do not know whether I have the honour of
addressing that nobleman."

"The same, sir," returned Smeaton. "I shall of course submit, although
this is a very inconvenient proceeding, which I was not led to expect.
The Earl of Stair assured me that I should not be molested."

"I know not that he had any power to give such an assurance, my lord,"
remarked the old officer; "but the warrant runs in the name of the
high sheriff of the county, and I have no choice but to see it
executed, being directed to give him every aid and assistance.
Nevertheless, I doubt not that if you could prove such assurance had
been given to you, it might have had great influence; but----"

He paused; and Smeaton instantly re-joined--

"I can easily prove the fact, sir. Amongst my baggage at Ale Manor, I
have a letter from his lordship to General C----, which I was to
deliver, in case of obstruction."

"My name is General C----, my lord," said the old officer; "and I
shall be most happy to receive his lordship's commands."

"Then, if you will take the trouble of riding with me to Ale," pursued
Smeaton, "you shall have the letter immediately, by which you will see
that not only is my presence in England well known to, and permitted
by, the government, but that my whole baggage and papers have passed
under examination in London."

"This is somewhat strange," observed the old officer; "for no
knowledge of such facts have reached this county. Nevertheless, I
fear, my lord, it is my duty to take you to Exeter; and indeed I have
not time to turn so far out of the way as Ale."

"I think you are a little hard," said Smeaton. "May I inquire whether
I am apprehended on suspicion merely, or upon some positive charge,
which might justify my being carried away--to jail as I suppose--not
only without the baggage necessary for my personal convenience, but
without the very means of showing that such a suspicion can have no
just foundation?"

"I do not wish to deal harshly, my lord," rejoined the other, taking
out his watch; "and perhaps, as it is not yet two o'clock, I may make
such arrangements as may tend to your convenience. I must now put you
in the hands of the officer who bears the warrant; but I shall tell
him, at the same time, that if he feels it consistent with his duty to
take you round by Ale, for the purpose of obtaining what baggage and
papers you want, I have no objection. Your lordship demanded whether
you are apprehended on suspicion. Such indeed is the case; but I am
much afraid that what we have seen here this day must form the basis
of a very grave charge."

As he spoke, he pointed with his hand towards the great caldron, by
the side of which Van Noost was standing, an image of fat despair, and
shaking in every limb, notwithstanding the heat.

Smeaton could not help laughing.

"Pray, General," he said, "what do you think they are about?"

"Casting bullets beyond a doubt," replied the old officer. "We
overheard the admission from that man's own lips as he came up. He
talked of cannon indeed; but we see none about the place. However, the
object is perfectly clear; and he must accompany your Lordship to
Exeter."

Smeaton laughed somewhat bitterly.

"Prepossession induces strange mistakes," he said. "If you will ask
the man what he was really about, he will tell you; and, if you
please, I will tell you beforehand, so that you can compare the two
accounts."

"I am not here to take examinations, my Lord," returned the old
officer. "Any explanations you have to give had better be reserved for
another place. I heard some of the words I have alluded to; and the
men heard others. That is all we have to testify to; and I presume
there is no doubt of this being a caldron full of lead. At all events
I will see."

Thus saying he walked up to the fire, and looked into the large pot,
adding, as he did so:

"The matter is very plain. This is boiling lead for casting bullets."

"For casting no such thing," exclaimed Van Noost, in a voice affected
both by fear and indignation. "I have not got a bullet-mould in the
world, and never cast a bullet in my life. The lead was melted to cast
balls for the pinnacles and corners of the roof."

"A very good excuse," said the old officer, drily, staring at the
grotesque figure of the statuary. "Pray, sir, what may be your name?"

Van Noost hesitated to reply; and the old general added, with a smile:

"It does not much matter; for, under whatever name you go, we must
have you in Exeter, my good friend."

"Well, then, my name is Van Noost," said the statuary, with the
boldness of despair. Then, fancying he saw a better chance of
obtaining credence for his story if he stated his profession, he
added, "Van Noost, the statuary and founder of leaden figures,
Decorator of Gardens, etc., etc. I have had the honour of doing many a
piece of work for good Queen Anne; and I declare, so help me Heaven, I
was doing nothing at all but going to cast round balls for the angles,
where you may see the old ones have fallen off."

"I am afraid the balls might have been used for other purposes, good
Master Van Noost," said General C----; "but I am very happy to have
met with you; for you are wanted in London on a charge of holding
seditious correspondence with his Majesty's enemies."

"Upon my word, sir," interrupted Jennings, now speaking for the first
time, "the poor man was doing nothing but what he says. You do not
recollect me, I dare say; but my name is Jennings; and I believe I am
well known to everybody as a peaceful and quiet man, who never meddles
with politics or anything that does not concern him. At all events, my
Lord knew nothing of the casting; for he has not arrived two minutes;
and this is the first time he has been here since he was a boy."

"You had better follow your rule of not meddling, on this occasion
also," rejoined General C----. "You may say things that I would rather
not hear. I am not at all disposed to act harshly, or put any one to
the pain of imprisonment unnecessarily, although I am not sure that,
in the strict line of duty, I should not send every one here to Exeter
jail. However, I shall content myself with this noble Lord and this
worthy statuary, against whom charges exist, independent altogether of
the present suspicious transaction. That also will have to be
investigated; and then, Master Jennings, if you have any evidence to
give, it will be received.--Now, Corporal Miles, call in Captain
Smallpiece."

Having said this, he crossed his arms upon his chest, and looked
gravely down upon the ground, till the person he sent for appeared;
and then, pointing to Smeaton and the sculptor, he said,

"That gentleman's name is the Earl of Eskdale; and the other is Master
Van Noost. I give them both into your custody, Captain Smallpiece; and
you will have the goodness to conduct them to Exeter."

"I suppose I am to tie their arms?" said the insolent soldier,
interrupting him.

"You are to show them no indignity whatever, sir," replied the
general, "but to remember that, for your proper treatment of them, as
well as for their safe custody, you will be held responsible. His
lordship has expressed a wish to have part of his baggage, and some
papers necessary to his defence, from Ale Manor; and I have no
objection to him to your riding round that way and permitting him to
obtain what he wants. But you will, on no account, lose sight of him;
and I think it will be better for you to seal up the rest of his
lordship's baggage at Ale Manor, and to mark, with your own hand, all
the papers which he may think fit to bring away. These are
precautions, my lord, which I am sorry to be obliged to take; but my
duty requires them."

The young nobleman bowed stiffly; and Captain Smallpiece demanded in a
less bullying tone than ordinary--

"Are you not going with us, then, General?"

"No," replied the old officer. "I must ride after the high-sheriff.
Good morning, my Lord. I trust that you will be able to clear
yourself of all charges; and, in the meantime, I shall be happy to
receive my Lord of Stair's letter--for which I will give you an
acknowledgement--and produce it upon the proper occasion."

Thus saying, he walked slowly out of the court, leaving Smeaton and
Van Noost to the tender mercies of Captain Smallpiece, who beckoned up
his troopers to assist in the removal of the prisoners.

At that period of English history, and for the greater part
of that century, the constitution of the armies of England was
very different from any thing we have seen in our own time.
Abuses, hardly credible to us, so rapid and complete have been the
reforms of late years, existed in every branch of the service. When
we hear of mere boys being made colonels and general officers, and
receiving the pay and appointments due to active service, or when we
read of _valet-de-chambres_, bullies, and more degraded persons still,
receiving commissions in the army by the influence of debauched and
unscrupulous patrons, we are inclined to think that the tale is a
romance; but such, alas! is not the fact. These things really did take
place; and the mess-table of an English regiment presented a strange
mixture, for which we have no parallel at present.

Now Captain Smallpiece was neither of the best nor of the worst of the
classes which composed the British army. He was the son of a small
hosier at Taunton; and, having been found exceedingly difficult to
manage, or to instruct, given to swaggering, swearing, and drinking,
his father took a quieter brother to his bosom and his shop, and
contented himself with obtaining, for his eldest son, a commission in
the army, through the interest of a nobleman who owed him money, and
did not choose to pay it.

Placed under a very strict disciplinarian upon first entering the
service, Captain Smallpiece decidedly improved. He lost some of his
bad habits, or, at all events, he learned to control them; acquired a
certain military tone and manner; and, as he was sharp and daring,
though somewhat negligent, he gained the reputation of a smart
officer. He had been in battle, too--had not run away, and had
received a wound in the service, so that he easily contrived to get
from an infantry into a cavalry regiment. Nevertheless, the old
proverb, in regard to the difficulty of making a silk purse out of a
sow's ear, was often brought to the mind of his military companions:
and to those over whom he had dominion he certainly did not appear in
the most favourable light. At the same time, he had certain notions
with regard to the perquisites and privileges of his station, which
savoured much more of the mercenary sworder of a former day, or of the
thief-taker or jailer of his own times, than of the modern soldier. He
had no idea of sparing any one the least pain, or yielding to any one
the least convenience, without being paid for it; and he had a happy
art of making his requirements known without demanding money in formal
terms, which might have subjected him to punishment.

Strange as it may seem, by no one would his hints have been more
easily understandable than by Smeaton; for he had served too long in
foreign armies not to have seen the same conduct even in greater
excess. He appeared to enter into the character of the man at once;
and, rapidly considering his own peculiar position, made up his mind
to pay largely for any concession which might enable him to see
Emmeline even for a moment before he was removed to Exeter, or perhaps
to London.

"I presume," he said, as soon as the general was gone, "you will
permit me to ride my own horse, which is waiting."

"If you pay for his keep and dressing, my lord," replied the captain.

"Oh, yes, I understand all that," said the young nobleman, "I have
served many years myself, my good friend, and understand what is right
and proper on these occasions. What is done for my own convenience
must, of course, be done at my own expense."

Captain Smallpiece grinned graciously; for he at once perceived that
he should be spared any embarrassing explanations. However, he thought
it best to begin his exactions vigorously at once, for fear of any
after resistance; and so, rubbing his head, he observed, in a sort of
meditative tone--

"As to taking this round about by Ale, 'pon my life, I do not know
what to do. Zounds, my lord, it makes nine miles difference; and that,
upon a long march, is something. I don't believe we shall ever be able
to reach Exeter to-night if we do; and then I shall have to feed the
men and horses; and I doubt whether the magistrates will allow the
money. The general did not _order_ me to do it. He only said I
_might_."

"Which was as good as an order," added the Earl, who had heard him
quietly to an end. "As to your expenses being allowed, whether the
magistrates do that or not, I shall defray them. We can settle that,
captain, at the first place where we stop for any time; but, if we do
not go to Ale Manor House, I shall have no means of defraying
anything, as, not expecting this adventure, I have not a guinea in my
purse."

"Well, we must go, I suppose," grumbled the worthy officer. "That is
to say, if you think what General C---- said was intended for an
order."

"Oh, that it was, that it was," cried Van Noost, who was struggling,
all begrimed as he was, into his smart coat and waistcoat.

"I should take it as such, were I in your place," observed Smeaton;
"and I am a soldier, you must recollect, as well as yourself."

"Very well then, come along, my lord," rejoined Captain Smallpiece,
assigning two of his soldiers to guard each of the prisoners. "Stand
back, fellows! No private talk with people in custody!"

This was addressed to Jennings and Farmer Thompson, who were pressing
forward to take leave of their lord. The first bore it with much
patience; and the second drew back, and made no farther attempt; but
he had a hot and angry brow, and muttered something to himself with
regard to basting Captain Smallpiece heartily, before he had done with
him.

"Halloo, what is all this?" cried Captain Smallpiece, when they
entered the court before the house, and saw through the iron gates a
great number of peasantry, armed and unarmed, and bearing a very
threatening aspect. "Cock your pistols, my men, and mount your
horses."

"Stay, stay a minute, my good friend," said the young nobleman, not
liking the appearance of things at all. "Thompson. Jennings, go and
speak with those men, and get them away. Let there be no violence, I
beg. It may do me harm, but no good; and I am not in the slightest
danger."

"I won't have the King's troops insulted," exclaimed Captain
Smallpiece, in a loud tone.

"I trust there is not the least chance of it," said the young
nobleman. "Go forward, Thompson, and take them away into the hamlet."

The good farmer obeyed, but evidently unwillingly; and as he
approached the iron gate to open it, the lad, Dick Peerly, who was
within the court with the soldiers, sprang forward, and caught hold of
his sleeve, saying something to him which was not heard where Smeaton
stood.

But the good farmer pushed him away violently, exclaiming--

"Get thee back, hound! Thou shalt have what thou deservest, if I catch
thee in the place in five minutes. I have got other work to do just
now."

Going to the gates, he was seen speaking to the people, for a moment
or two, evidently having some difficulty to persuade them. At length,
however, he walked down the road, with the little crowd following him,
though some lingered a while longer, and many turned to look at the
departure of the soldiers, when they had got about a hundred and fifty
yards from the gates. Smeaton's horse was then brought forward by his
own servant, and, as he mounted, the man asked--

"Shall I come with you, sir?"

"Do as you like," replied Smeaton. "I shall not be long in captivity.
Perhaps you had better ride with us to Ale Manor, at all events."

"Ah, you impudent varlet!" cried Captain Smallpiece. "You are the
rascal who made such fools of us at Ale."

"Heaven help me, noble sir!" replied the man. "I made no fool of you.
That would have been trouble thrown away." At the same moment he
loosed his lord's stirrup, and jumped out of the reach of the
captain's arm.

After some questions, and some trouble, good Van Noost was mounted
upon his fat pony, with a very rueful face; and, near the head of the
troop, with a soldier on either side, he and the young nobleman rode
out of the gates. Smeaton's servant, Thomas Higham, followed at the
end of the file, a little indeed in the rear; and, before he left the
village, he rode quickly down to the spot where Farmer Thompson was
speaking to some people, said a few words to him, and then cantered
off after his master.



CHAPTER XXI.

The life of man, like the life of society, goes in epochs. There are
periods at which fair fortune or ill fortune seems to begin or end;
and a long succession of bright or dark days follows, during which no
folly seems capable of clouding the sunshine--no precaution sufficient
to avert the storm.

The Earl of Eskdale was that day destined to disappointment when,
after a long and tiresome ride, fatiguing from the slowness at which
the troop moved, he reached Ale Manor, and was admitted, strictly
guarded, to the house and to his own rooms. He found that Sir John
Newark had gone out about an hour before, and had taken Emmeline and
Richard with him. There was no resource but to procure what letters,
money, and apparel he required, and to accompany Captain Smallpiece on
the road towards Exeter. The fine wild scenery round Ale looked more
beautiful than ever, though the day was not so promising as many which
had preceded it. The sky indeed was generally blue, and the air warmer
than it had been in the month of July; but ever and anon came heavy
masses of cloud, floating distinct, low, and heavy, and looking like
the flying island of Laputa to the eyes of Gulliver. From time to
time, too, they had let fall, in passing, a few large drops of rain;
and, amongst the mistiness which hung about the south-west, might be
seen strange forms of hardening vapours of a light reddish hue where
they caught the rays of the sun.

When Smeaton descended from the room he had inhabited, in order to
remount, he found several of the servants in the hall, with old Mrs.
Culpepper at their head. She seemed to witness his captivity with a
stoical sort of apathy, which he knew to be far from her nature, and
took no more notice of him than by dropping a formal curtsey as he
passed. He easily understood her motives, and merely said--

"Be so good as to inform Sir John Newark, madam, that I trust to be
back here in a few days. Do not let him make himself at all uneasy on
my account; for, as he well knows, I have given no offence to the
existing government, and can therefore be in no danger."

"I will tell him, sir," replied Mrs. Culpepper; and the young nobleman
mounted and rode on.

The pace at which Captain Smallpiece thought fit to proceed was, as I
have hinted, the very slowest possible; and it was evident to Smeaton
that he did not intend to reach Exeter that night; but the clouds,
which began to gather thick and lurid in the sky some way before they
reached the hamlet and church of Aleton, induced him to quicken his
movements a little. Rain was beginning to fall when they passed the
small public-house; and the sergeant of the troop, who seemed on very
familiar terms with his commanding officer, ventured to hint that it
might be as well to stop there and refresh the men and horses.

"No, no, Jack," replied the captain. "We must get on a little farther,
till we come to Norton-Newchurch. There, we'll halt at old Mother
Gandy's. She brews the best, and I owe her a turn."

Perhaps he regretted, before long, that he had determined to proceed;
for the menacing aspect of the clouds was soon changed into active
operations. Thunder, lightning, and torrents of rain, pursued the
party for the next three miles, which was the distance between Aleton
and Newchurch, and not a man but was drenched to the skin, when the
party dismounted at the door of the inn--if inn it could be properly
called, being nothing more than a long rambling public-house, of two
low stories, looking like half-a-dozen cottages put together.

As soon as he was under shelter, Captain Smallpiece drew forth his
watch, and found that he had contrived to make it six o'clock before
his arrival. This was just what he intended, apparently; for he
abruptly declared that, with wearied men and horses, it would be
impossible to reach Exeter that night. He then made arrangements for
the accommodation of his soldiers, and demanded a private room for
himself and his prisoners, at the door of which he planted the trooper
whom he most disliked in the party, to perform, in his dripping
clothes, the wearisome office of sentry.

"Now, my Lord," he said, as soon as the door was shut, "what will you
please to treat the men with? Gadzooks! I shall be glad enough to put
something warm into my own stomach; and I dare say they will too, poor
devils!"

Smeaton smiled, and replied--

"If you will call the landlady--mother Gandy, as you name her--I will
order refreshment for ourselves. As to the men, you had better take
these ten guineas to provide them with what you judge necessary."

The Captain had no scruple; and, when the landlady appeared, the young
nobleman gave an ample order for good cheer for himself and his
companions; and the worthy officer ordered refreshments for the men to
the value of about a fourth part of what he had received.

"Set a barrel of good strong ale a-broach for them, madam, on my
account," said the young Earl; and, with a low curtsey, the good woman
withdrew, while Smallpiece exclaimed, with a coarse laugh,

"D----n it, you must not make them drunk, my Lord."

"I have no such intention, sir," replied Smeaton; "and, if I had, they
would get sober before morning."

In one respect, the young nobleman and Van Noost were better off than
their captors; for they had dry clothes at hand, of which they did not
neglect to avail themselves; and good Van Noost seemed to acquire
fresh courage with a dry jerkin. A good supper--for in those old times
seven o'clock might be considered as a supper hour--completely
restored him to confidence; and Captain Smallpiece, gazing on his
washed and rubicund face, and clean apparel, and listening to his flat
jokes, and his discourses regarding all his leaden mythology on the
Reading road, could hardly believe that he was the same man he had
first seen at Keanton, and pronounced him a jolly good fellow. This
impression was very greatly increased when Van Noost undertook to
manufacture the punch for the whole party, and his brewing turned out
to be the most delicious that had ever been tasted.

Fertile in resources, whenever his first panics had subsided, the
sculptor's brain was now entirely occupied with the thought of finding
means for the escape of himself and his companion, never dreaming that
Smeaton had no desire to escape at all. The first and simplest scheme
that suggested itself to his mind was to make Captain Smallpiece
drunk, and the worthy officer's propensity towards the bottle was
written on his countenance in large letters. But insuperable obstacles
intervened; the punch being made in the room, there was no deceiving
Smallpiece as to the proportions of the rum and the water. Moreover,
the worthy captain was upon his guard against himself; and, though he
drank fast and hard at first, he soon began to hold his hand. One bowl
was emptied without doing harm to any one.

Van Noost began to brew another, but Smeaton told him he should drink
no more, and Captain Smallpiece said,

"Nor I either."

The sculptor went on, however, and took a ladle-full, saying,

"I am not afraid. My stomach is stout and my brain too."

"Well, another glass," said the captain, in a resigned tone; and to
that other glass he added a second, a third, and a fourth, sometimes
making Van Noost drink with him, sometimes stretching forth his hand
to the bowl and helping himself almost unconsciously. But his head was
a well-seasoned cask, upon which the fresh liquor made little
impression. He merely grew somewhat more loud and talkative, more
domineering in his manner and his tone.

Then Van Noost thought that, if he could but get Smeaton's servant
into the room and the sentry away from the door, they could soon
overpower the worthy captain himself, and make their escape from the
window, which was on the ground floor; but the young nobleman would
not take any hint. He did not want his servant and would not send for
him, and Captain Smallpiece continued, with his long legs under the
table, and his eyes turned towards the door, so as to see the sentry
every time it opened. Some of Van Noost's man[oe]uvres, too, seemed to
excite his suspicion; for when, on one occasion, the statuary rose and
went to the window, he exclaimed--

"Come, come, sit down, fat gentleman. What are you marauding about
for?"

"I only wanted to see if it rained still," replied Van Noost; "but it
is quite a fine night, and the moon is coming out between the white
streaks."

Captain Smallpiece d--d the moon, and asked what he had to do with
her.

"Perhaps she might light you to Exeter, If you like to ride," said the
young nobleman, gravely. "Is such your intention or not, Captain
Smallpiece? for I think I hear your men bringing out the horses."

"Not they!" cried the captain, without budging from his seat; "and, if
they do, they must take them in again. I gave my orders; if they
choose to mistake, it is their own fault."

Van Noost kept quite silent; for the sounds which had reached
Smeaton's ear reached his also; and there certainly was a noise as of
many feet before the house. Then came a loud burst of talking and
laughing, and a merry voice without tuned up some ribald song. A lull
succeeded; then more loud talking; then, apparently, angry words, and
at last a loud and confused din, as if twenty or thirty people were
all shouting at once.

"Some of those blackguards of mine have got drunk, and are quarrelling
with the bumpkins," said Captain Smallpiece, in a growling tone.
"Well, they must fight it out; but they had better make haste, or
_I'll_ be in amongst them."

The din increased instead of diminishing; and, at the same moment, a
voice was heard speaking to the sentry at the door.

"What is the matter?" shouted Captain Smallpiece, without rising. But,
almost as he spoke, there was the report of a pistol; the door burst
open; the sentry was thrown headlong into the room; and a number of
men rushed in, with white shirts drawn over their garments, and their
faces blackened.

Starting on his feet with a tremendous oath, Captain Smallpiece seized
Van Noost by the collar, exclaiming--

"This is thy doing, and I will blow thy brains out." At the same time,
he pressed a large horse-pistol to the unhappy man's head, and the
lock clicked as he cocked the weapon. The fury in his face, and the
fierceness of his gesture, showed that he was prepared to execute his
threat, and another moment would have sent the poor sculptor to an
immortality somewhat different from that which his leaden figures were
likely to procure for him. But a tremendous blow from Smeaton's strong
arm saved Van Noost's life, and laid the doughty captain grovelling on
the ground. As he fell, the pistol went off, and the bullet struck the
wall, while he shouted furiously--"Ah, my lord, you shall hang for
this!"

What followed it is impossible to describe accurately; for the men
from without, rushing in and throwing themselves both upon the officer
and the sentry, contrived in the short struggle which ensued to bind
them, to overturn the table, break the punch-bowl and glasses, and
extinguish the lights. In the midst of this scene, Smeaton found his
hand grasped by some one, and a voice said--"Come with me, come with
me, and you are safe."

He hesitated for an instant, while a multitude of considerations
passed through his mind, rendering it difficult to decide what to do.
Another man, however, caught him likewise by the arm, and they hurried
him on between them towards the door.

"This way, this way, my Lord," said a voice, which he thought he knew.

All was darkness in the passage, and those who guided him did not take
him through the room in which the soldiers had been regaling. The door
of the kitchen was open, however, and the interior, as he passed,
presented a somewhat strange sight. Two or three of the troopers were
lying on the floor, apparently dead-drunk; others were sitting upon
benches or stools, with their arms tied tightly behind them; some were
in a sleepy state of drunkenness, which rendered them nearly
unconscious of what had happened; others were roaring forth a
bacchanalian song in spite of their bondage, or sitting, gloomy and
stern, mediating over the way in which they had suffered themselves to
be surprised.

Amongst the latter was the sergeant, Miles, who caught a glimpse of
Smeaton, and exclaimed:

"Ah, my Lord, I know you."

Smeaton paused, as if to reply; but the two men hurried him forward
forcibly, and the next moment he was standing upon the road before the
inn.

"Here is your horse, sir," said the voice of his servant. "All the
things are in the saddle-bag behind. Let us be off as fast as
possible. Then the good folks will separate. Quick, my Lord! I will
show you the way."

Smeaton mounted in silence amongst a number of horses, and with eight
or ten men flitting round, but apparently taking not the least notice
of him. They suffered him to ride away after his servant, without even
a word in answer to a question he addressed to one of them. Everything
was conducted in profound silence; and, in a few minutes, the young
nobleman was over the brow of the hill, and out of sight of the house.
The servant rode on before, leaving his master to follow, and soon
left the high Exeter road on which the inn was situated, for the downs
which extended nearly to Mount Place on the one side, and to Ale Manor
on the other.

It may be necessary, before I proceed, to take some brief notice of
the various thoughts which had crossed Smeaton's mind during the last
few minutes, as his conduct was greatly affected thereby. It must be
recollected, that in the whole transaction he was taken entirely by
surprise. He was not, indeed, often found unprepared for any event;
but all which had occurred had passed so rapidly, that impulse might
well act in the place of reason. Though not without a thorough
conviction that, if he did not interfere, another moment would
terminate poor Van Noost's life, it was upon impulse that he knocked
down Captain Smallpiece, and he much regretted the necessity of so
doing to save the poor statuary. The consequences of that act
presented themselves to his mind the moment after. He saw that it
compromised him in a very serious manner, and that a little skilful
torturing of evidence, by an experienced lawyer, would connect the
fact of his taking part in the active struggle for his liberation,
with his having ordered the ale with which the soldiers besotted
themselves, and that again with the well-organised plan for his
rescue, which he doubted not had been executed by his own tenantry. To
all this, moreover, would be joined the lead-melting at Keanton, and
the words which Van Noost had spoken, and which General C---- and the
soldiers had only partly heard.

The whole of the above incidents would indeed form a chain of evidence
tending to the one conclusion, that, notwithstanding his promise to
Lord Stair, he had taken active measures to promote the insurrection
against the government. He knew well, too, that persons made prisoners
in the first outbreak of a rebellion are sure to receive little mercy,
and sometimes little justice. Party violence demands victims, and
examples must be made to deter the wavering by fear; so that both
passion and policy combine for their destruction. If he neglected the
means of escape, there was no prospect before him but long
imprisonment, or death on a scaffold.

Then came another consideration, and I must leave it to the reader to
settle, as he may be old or young, phlegmatic or ardent, how much this
contributed to his decision. He thought of Emmeline, of how these
events might affect _her_; nay, more, hopes and expectations flashed
through his mind of being able, were he finally to succeed in
escaping, to execute the scheme of carrying her away to another land,
and uniting her fate to his. At the same time, he calculated, with the
confidence of youth, upon easily clearing himself of all criminal
share in the transactions which had occurred, if time were but allowed
for him to prove the facts, and for men's minds to become composed and
tranquillised.

Such were the motives on which he acted. I do not mean to say they
were altogether just; for I am not drawing a perfect character. They
seemed sufficient to him at the time, however, and his next thought
was, how best to take advantage of the circumstances in which he was
placed. Meditating in silence, he suffered his servant to ride on for
about a mile; but then the latter dropped back, touching his hat, and
saying--

"That way leads to Aleton Church and Ale, my lord, and that to
Keanton. Though I thought you would like to go to Ale, I took a round
to avoid the people; but your lordship can do as you like. You are
about half way between the two places, somewhat nearer to Keanton
perhaps; but I think Ale will be the safest."

"Why do you think so?" demanded &Heaton. "And what made you believe I
should prefer going to Ale?"

"Why, my lord," replied the man, in his easy nonchalant way, "at Ale
you can have a boat always ready to carry you off to the coast of
France for half-a-dozen guineas; and the valley is so narrow, that you
can get timely notice if people come down to take you. Then, as to
your second question, I have always remarked that gentlemen about your
age like better to live in houses where there are pretty young ladies,
than in houses where there are nothing but ugly old women. Moths will
fly in the candle, my lord, and young gentlemen are very courageous."

Smeaton smiled, and the man was falling back as if to let him lead the
way, when his master stopped him, saying--

"Here, ride on beside me, Higham, and tell me how all this business
has happened."

"On my life, I don't know, my lord," replied the man. "I had no hand
in it, but just getting out your horse and mine, and throwing the
saddle-bags across them. All I did was, when they were carrying you
out of Keanton, to ride down and tell the stout farmer, who was so,
busy, that he had better keep the people quiet for the time; but that,
if he set people to look out for us from the top of the hills, he
might find means of helping you out of the scrape before you got to
Exeter."

"I am grieved at this," said Smeaton, somewhat sternly. "You should
not have done so without orders. These poor people have now seriously
compromised themselves with the government for an object which I did
not at all desire, and I myself am thereby placed in very unpleasant
circumstances. Do you think any of them were recognised by the
soldiers?"

"Oh dear, no," replied the man. "I'll tell you how it all happened, my
lord. When I heard you had ordered the men a whole barrel of humming
ale, I naturally thought you intended to make them drunk. There were
ten soldiers besides the sentry. A barrel holds six-and-thirty
gallons. Now that is three gallons and a half a man. I say I could
think nothing else, my lord, than that you meant to intoxicate the
party; so I determined to help, and I treated them all round to a
glass of strong waters to begin with. Just about nine o'clock, when
the ale had worked, and the strong waters had helped it, and the men
were three parts tipsy, in came three country fellows, and called for
a pint a-piece. The soldiers began jeering them, and I thought they
took it wonderfully quiet, for they only jeered them again, and there
was a good deal of laughing and noise. Then came in two more country
lads, strong likely fellows enough, and they too sat down and talked.
A minute or two after, some people on horseback came up to the front
of the house, and had the landlady called out; and three of the
soldiers went out after her, and we could hear a great roaring and
noise about the door, and one of the half-tipsy soldiers said,
drowsily, 'I dare say they are all smugglers from Ale.' This set one
of the countrymen to pick a quarrel with him, and, just when they were
coming to blows, in rushed a whole set of tall hearty fellows, with
white shirts on, and their faces blackened. They pounced upon the
soldiers like so many goshawks, and, without much of a struggle, tied
them, one and all, as tight as if they were going to Tyburn. There was
some cracked crockery, indeed, and a stool or two upset; but it was
all done very gingerly, for I was not away two minutes, getting out
the horses, and it was over before I came back."

"But what made you get out the horses at all?" demanded Smeaton.

"Why, just when the black-faced fellows were coming in, one of the
countrymen whispered to me--'Get out your lord's horse in a minute,
and give him to the man who is holding the others at the door.'
However, as I was saying, it was all done and over when I got back,
the soldiers all tied, and as mute as mice; and one of the men said,
in a feigned voice--'Where is your lord? The old woman won't tell.' So
I led them along up to the sentry, going first myself. He spoke a word
or two, and asked what all the noise was about; and when I tried to
get hold of him, he fired his pistol, and in the struggle we both
tumbled into the room. Your lordship knows all the rest."

"But were all these men from Keanton, do you think?" his master
inquired.

"I don't think it, my lord," replied Higham. "The black-faced fellows,
at least, looked much more like Ale men, and they carried their hands
inside out, like other marine animals. No, I think they came from Ale;
but it is clear enough they were in league with the bumpkins; and I
saw the jolly old farmer outside of the door. That I could swear to."

"Pray mention it to no one, then," said Smeaton; "for I should be very
sorry that he suffered for this rash enterprise."

"The men might be smugglers, after all, my lord," observed the
servant, "and might just get a hint when they came up. They are always
ready enough to take part in a riot, and to thrash the soldiers. I
cannot say how it was, but I tell you all I know."

The information thus received did not induce Smeaton to take a better
view of the aspect which the whole circumstances might present when
brought into a court of justice. Here was his own servant acting with
the mob who had rescued him, attempting to seize and disarm the
sentry, and taking a prominent part in the whole affair. Nor did he at
all feel sure that, though acting with the best intentions, the man
had told him all. It seemed to him improbable that his horse should be
so speedily saddled without some previous intimation of the attempt
which was about to be made; but he thought it better not to question
him any farther, and pursued his way in silence towards Aleton Church.

The round they had taken made the distance fully six miles; but at
length the building began to appear upon the side of the hill; and the
Exeter road was perceived descending into the village. The moon,
though occasional clouds still flitted over her, was shining with
peculiar brightness after the storm, and by her light he perceived a
number of persons both on horseback and on foot taking their way in
the same direction as himself. They were going along in so leisurely
and unconcerned a manner, that he could hardly fancy them the persons
so lately engaged in a daring and hazardous act, although the white
garments with which the greater number of them were covered seemed to
mark them out as the same. He thought it better to avoid them,
however, on all accounts; and, for that purpose, being higher up on
the hill than the church, he so directed his course as to bring the
building between himself and them. Before this was accomplished,
however, he saw one figure separate from the rest in order to climb
the hill; and, in the short round form, he recognised, with great
satisfaction, a strong resemblance to good Van Noost.

"Those are some of the men, my lord," said the servant, "going back to
Ale, you see. I should not wonder if they were smugglers after all."

Smeaton was very much puzzled. A suspicion had more than once crossed
his mind, from the words of young Richard Newark, from Sir John's
eagerness to induce him to go that day to Mount Place, and from all
which had occurred after, that his worthy host had led him into a
trap. Yet who could have sent these people to rescue him except Sir
John Newark?

"If that is Van Noost, I will know," he said to himself; and, turning
again to the servant, he asked--"Is not that very like the stout man
who was made prisoner with me? I hope so; for I was anxious about
him."

"Oh, yes, my lord, that is he," replied the man; "but there is no fear
about him. He is too fat for any harm to happen to him. He'll roll
like one of those things called buoys at sea, which are tumbled about
in all sorts of ways, but always get right end uppermost."

"I must speak to him, however," said Smeaton. "Here, hold the horse,
and I will go up to him on foot. If I ride after him, he will run."

"And burst himself," added Higham, taking his lord's horse.

Van Noost, in the meantime, had climbed the hill, approached the wall
of the churchyard, and entered the gates; but when Smeaton, following
with a quick step, approached them, he found them locked, to his great
surprise, and Van Noost nowhere to be seen. Without hesitation he
vaulted over the low wall, and then ventured to call upon his stout
friend's name. At first there was no reply; but upon his exclaiming
again, "Van Noost, Van Noost, I want to speak with you," the head and
shoulders of the statuary were protruded from behind a buttress, and
he came forward as soon as he saw who it was that called.

"Ah, my dear lord," he said, "I am so glad to see you at liberty, and
glad enough to find myself so too. You had better come in here where I
am going. I am dead tired, I know, and I dare say you are too--those
cursed saddle-bags have so fatigued me. But we shall be quite safe
here; and I have got half a loaf and a long Oxford sausage with me."

"Where do you intend to hide?" asked Smeaton. "It will be better for
you to come on with me to Ale, whence we can easily get to France."

"I would if I could; but I cannot," replied the poor man. "I have been
so bumped and thumped and knocked about, that I have not got a leg to
stand upon. I am going down into the crypt. There is an end of my old
candle left, just to keep away the ghosts, and I shall be quite safe
there."

"But how will you get in?" asked Smeaton.

Van Noost laughed.

"Ah! my lord," he said, "I have a fondness for keys, you know. I don't
keep keys long in my hands without having a model of them. I have got
a key for the door of the hiding-place at Ale; for I thought, whatever
your Lordship might say, it might, some day, be of use to you; and I
made one out of an old key at Keanton as soon as I got there."

Smeaton paused in thought for a minute, and then said.

"Give me that key, Van Noost. I should like to have it; and now, mark
what I am about to say. _You_ only know how far you have committed
yourself with the government. I am going on to Ale--but not, in all
probability, to the Manor House. I shall take up my abode in one of
the cottages, if I can find a room. I shall have a boat kept ready to
convey me to France in case of need; and, if you think it better for
yourself to quit this country, you can come and join me at Ale before
daylight to-morrow, resting here in the meanwhile. Some time will
probably elapse before we are pursued, for the soldiers will doubtless
go on to Exeter in the first place."

"I'll not fail, my dear Lord--I'll not fail," replied Van Noost; "and
yet how can I go to France? It will almost break my heart.--My
statues! How can I leave all my statues? And yet, as I may say, the
parting has already taken place.--But let me get the key. It is in the
saddle-bags by the little door.--Would that I had never meddled with
politics!"

As he spoke, he turned back towards the church, accompanied by the
young nobleman, who endeavoured to learn from him, without much
success, by whose orders the men from Ale had joined the rescue party.
They had all been "monstrous silent," Van Noost said; but, when the
Earl added some farther questions as to whether they had ever
mentioned Sir John Newark's name, the worthy sculptor exclaimed,
somewhat vehemently.

"Ay, that they did, my Lord--at least, one of them; and I think you
had a great deal better not go near Ale Manor again. From what one of
them said, as two talked together, I made out that none of all this
bad business would have happened if it had not been for Sir John. They
say he has played the same trick to others before you, and always
_peaches_ and _plays booty_, except in the matter of smuggling."

"Then he did not order the rescue?" asked Smeaton.

"Oh, dear, no," answered Van Noost. "He sent messengers to Exeter in
the middle of last night, with letters to the high-sheriff. So you may
judge of the rest."

"Give me the key, my good friend," said Smeaton, through whose brain
were passing many rapid considerations regarding his future conduct.
"Did you make acquaintance with the parson of this place when you were
here?"

"Ay, that I did, and rose high in his favour too," replied the
sculptor. "He is a good, fat, jolly priest as ever waddled."

"And thinks of the things of this life, more than of the things of
another, perhaps?" asked Smeaton.

"Ay, truly," responded the statuary. "He has more gods than one. A
pipe of wine, a purse of guineas, a sucking-pig, or a haunch of
venison, are better than any rubric for him, I wot."

"I must see to this," said Smeaton, in a musing tone; and, although
the statuary could not divine whether he alluded to the parson or the
pig, the purse or the pipe of wine, he did not venture to ask any
questions, but got the key out of his saddle-bags. Having given it to
Smeaton, the latter bade him adieu, and rode away.



CHAPTER XXII.

I trust the reader remembers well the description before given of the
little village of fishermen's cottages at Ale, and of the way in which
the road, after separating into two, in order to send off a branch to
Ale Manor House, proceeded to the entrance of the village, and there
dwindled into a narrow path, for want of room between the steep banks
to reach the seaside in its original breadth. Smeaton passed the
turning of the road towards the Manor, though evidently with some
reluctance; for he paused an instant before he made up his mind, and
then rode on more slowly. Five hundred yards onward brought him to the
spot where it was necessary to dismount; but, before he had completely
reached it, two men came out from under the shadow of the bank, and
stood directly in his way. The moonlight enabled him to see, however,
that they bore the ordinary garb of the fishermen of the place, which,
I need hardly tell the learned reader, was very different from the
fishermen's garb of the present day, and much more marked and
picturesque. From these men he apprehended no opposition, even if they
were not of the very party which had liberated him; and he was soon
saluted in a civil tone, with the words--

"Good night, sir. You know you cannot ride down here. We thought it
was some of the soldiers."

Smeaton dismounted, and gave his horse to his servant to hold; and,
walking forward a little way with the two men, he explained to them
his desire to obtain shelter in the village, and concealment from
everybody for a time.

At first there seemed some hesitation in their replies; and the young
nobleman began to fancy that the danger in which he stood, and which
might pursue him even there, made them look upon him as an unwelcome
guest; but, when he frankly put the question whether they were afraid
to receive him, one of them replied with a laugh--"Lord bless you, no,
sir. All the soldiers in Exeter should not take you out from amongst
the men of Ale. Unless they brought cannon against us, they could do
nothing in this village. We would beat them out with hand-spikes. It
is not that at all. You are right welcome to all that we can do for
you; but they say you are a lord; and you'll find the best house in
the place but a poor hole for such a one as you."

"But, my good friend, I am a soldier," replied Smeaton; "and, when I
tell you that I have slept for a month together upon the bare ground,
you will easily judge that one of your houses will be quite as good as
a palace to me. All I want is shelter and concealment for a little
time."

"That you shall have, sir," replied the other man, who was somewhat
older; "and, as for concealment, we have got plenty of places where the
devil himself would not find you. We sometimes let the custom-house
people come and search just for the fun of the thing; and yet, somehow
or another, we contrive to supply the whole country round with Bohea,
which never paid toll to King or Queen either."

"From what I saw to-night," said Smeaton, "you must have horses
amongst you also; and my two beasts are in some degree an
embarrassment to me, unless I can stable them somewhere."

"You will have to stable them on the downs, sir," said the younger
man; "for there are no such things as stables in Ale. But, stay a bit;
I think I can manage it. Farmer Tupper will take them in, I dare say;
he knows how to hold his tongue. As to horses for ourselves, Lord
bless you, when we want them, which is not above once a-month, we
borrow them of our neighbours. Many a good farmer, and gentleman too,
finds his horses not fit for much work on the day after the new moon.
But then, what does he care? Every now and then he finds a pound of
tea for his wife, or a bundle of Flemish hosiery for himself, lying at
his door or on his window-sill; and he thinks himself well paid for
his horses' night-work. Here, my man--Master Higham--you get down and
go with your master. I'll lead the horses across the down to Tupper's
farm; but take off the bags first. Grayling, you had better take the
gentleman to your house, for you have more room, and my wife had a
babby yesterday morning; so there is a fine squalling. Bless its
little heart! It has got a pipe like a boatswain's whistle."

Thus saying, he led away the horses, leaving his companion with the
young nobleman and his servant, the latter of whom seemed, during his
stay at Ale Manor, to have become very intimate with all the good
fishermen of the village. Before walking on, however, Smeaton judged
it better to take immediate precautions for guarding against surprise,
and inquired whether a lad could not be hired to watch the road, and
give early notice of the approach of any party of soldiers. The old
fisherman, Grayling, laughed.

"Lord bless you sir, you don't know us," he said. "Don't you trouble
yourself at all about it. No soldier or anything else comes within
three miles of us without our knowing it. 'Tother night, when they
came to the Manor, we were all ready for them if they had come on. You
were ready for then, too, it seems, though how you got out of their
way we do not know. I had a great mind to give the fellows who came
down to the bay looking for you a drop of salt water to drink for
poking their noses into Ale; and some of our men could scarcely be
prevented from doing it, but it would only have made a noise; and so
it was better let alone. However, you can rest quite as safe here as
if you were a hundred miles out at sea. They shan't catch you in Ale,
I'll answer for it. So come along, sir."

In a few minutes more, Smeaton and his servant were introduced into
the fisherman's cottage, the lower story of which, consisting of a
room on either side and a good wide passage between them, was
encumbered with a variety of articles belonging to the man's craft or
mystery, some of which were not of the most pleasant odour. Salted
fish, sails, nets, fishing-lines, spars, oars, boat-hooks, barrels of
tar, tallow candles, and a number of things which I cannot describe,
were huddled together in the rooms and in the passage, exhaling a
smell, as I have said, more powerful than fragrant, which was
considerably assisted by a quantity of smoke issuing forth from the
room on the left-hand side. There, at the cheek of the fire; as they
termed it, sat the old man's old wife, with two or three young
dolphins; her grand-children, playing about as merrily as if it had
been noon. To her the fisherman introduced his guest, and whispered a
word in her ear which instantly made her clamber up a steep little
staircase which came down without guard or balustrade, not into the
passage, but into the middle of the very room where she had been
sitting. The floor above, I may mention, contained four rooms, and was
nearly double the size of the floor below, which is only to be
accounted for by the fact of the house being built against the steep
side of the hill, which left not more than eight-and-twenty feet of
flat ground between its base and the river.

The good lady not returning immediately, the fisherman himself went up
after her, and found her, like all ladies when visited by an
unexpected guest, in a great and setting-to-rights bustle.

"Pooh, pooh!" said the old man; "don't make such a piece of work,
mother. He is quite a plain gentleman, and has been a soldier. He must
have the back room too; for there he'll be snuggest."

"But suppose you want to get the tea out, Jack?" said the old lady.
"Why, the bed is just over the hiding-hole."

"All the better," replied the man. "He may have to hide there before
we have done with him. It is not the first time, I think, mother, that
we have hid a man there; and so we must do now, if it is needful.
Here, we'll put the chest for a seat at the foot of the bed. You bring
the table out of 'tother room. Then it will all look mighty
comfortable. But we must get him some supper before he goes to bed;
and I'll broach that little keg I brought in last time."

"I hope he'll pay for what he has," said the old lady; "for we cannot
afford to be giving away the things for nothing."

"There, there, don't be a fool," rejoined her husband. "Madam Culpepper
will take care we are none the worse for it; and we all of us owe her
much more than that comes to."

When they descended the stairs they found Smeaton playing with the
children, who were in high glee; but his servant was no longer with
him.

"I have sent my man up to the house," he said. "He can stay there
without danger to himself, for to-night at least; and he may be of
service to me."

The old man seemed startled, and not well pleased.

"You know best, sir," he said gruffly; "but--"

"But what, my good friend?" interrogated Smeaton. "You seem not to
like my having done so."

"Why, sir, if he tells Sir John that you are down here, it may be a
bad business," replied Grayling. "Mayhap you do not know Sir John as
well as we do."

"I think I do," rejoined Smeaton, with a smile; "and, for that reason,
I told the man not to say where I am, but merely to let them know I
had been rescued and had ridden away. I have left him to tell his own
tale; but I can trust him; and, depend upon it, Sir John will know
nothing of the matter."

"Well, well. That is all right," responded the fisherman, his look
brightening. "If he sees Mrs. Culpepper first, she'll tell him what to
do."

A sudden light broke upon Smeaton's mind. "Pray was it Mrs.
Culpepper," he said, "who directed you to come to my rescue?"

The old man laughed.

"You are quite under a mistake, sir," he said. "None of us came to
your rescue. We know nothing about it. Ask any man in the place, and
he'll tell you the same. There has not been one of them a couple of
hundred yards from the place to-night."

A sly smile contradicted his words, and Smeaton, comprehending the
truth, answered laughingly:

"Nevertheless, Master Grayling, there is a great streak of scot, or
some black stuff, all the way down your cheek."

"The devil there is!" cried the man, starting up, and walking with the
candle to a little looking-glass that hung against the wall. "Here,
mother, give us a tuft of oakum." And, having got what he demanded, he
rubbed his weather-beaten cheek hard, and then threw the oakum into
the fire.

"It is a rule here, sir," he said, "never to speak of anything that we
do beyond the cross-road; and it is a good rule too; so neither you
nor any one else will get anything out of us, ask what questions you
will. Sir John is a keen hand, and he tried it more than once at
first; but he could make nothing of it, for we all know that a man's
greatest enemy is his own tongue. You could not make that little child
there blab, I'll be bound. But I dare say you know that Mrs. Culpepper
has a brother and two nephews living over at Keanton; good solid men
they are, who know how to held their tongues too, and that is all I
shall say upon the subject. So now, sir, if you like to have a glass
of Geneva and some broiled fish, we'll have our supper."

Smeaton explained that he had supped already, and the old man,
lighting a fresh candle, conducted him up the stairs to his bed-room.
When they were in it and the door shut, he put down the light and
said: "You won't be very comfortable here, sir, but you'll be very
safe, and I'll tell you how to manage. But, mind you, I'm going to put
myself a bit in your power; so you must keep my secret as well as I'll
keep yours. That window there looks up the hill; but nobody can come
down that way, and from it you can see all the way up the path by what
they call the blind man's well. Then look here. Underneath that bed,
three of the planks lift up, altogether. They play upon a pivot; so
you have nothing to do but put your knife under, and lift them as I do
now. There, you see, is the top of a ladder, going down into our
storehouse, as we call it, though old mother Grayling will call it my
hiding-hole. If you get notice that anybody is coming, you have
nothing to do but to go down there, shut the trap after you, and push
in the bolt. Light enough enters through the chinks for you to see in
the day-time; but don't take a candle in, and mind you don't tumble
over the bales and other things."

"Is it cut in the rock?" asked Smeaton.

"Oh, dear no," replied the man. "You see it is the corner made by this
floor sticking out above the other. It looks just like the rest of the
house outside, and may be dug a bit down into the ground; for there
are two steps up to get out below. But that was done before my time."

"Then one can get out from below?" asked Smeaton.

"To be sure," answered the man. "How could we get the goods in else?
You'll soon see the door on the inside, though nobody can't see it on
the out; and, should any people come looking after you, and you want
to get away to sea, that's the best way. You shall always find a boat
ready, and men to jump into her too, and we'll take care that the way
is clear for you. So now, good night, sir."

"Stay a minute," said Smeaton. "I might have to go in great haste, and
not be able to pay you, at the moment, either for your services or my
entertainment. I should like to do so now, therefore, and also for the
hire of a boat to take me to France."

"No, no, sir. As to all that," returned the man, "you must speak to my
old woman. She is ready enough to take money--so don't give her too
much of it; and, for the boat, you can pay the men who take you. That
is all fair. What _I_ have to do is, to see that they are ready, if I
don't go myself, which is likely. Good night, sir. You'll see the old
woman to-morrow, sure enough."

Thus saying, he went away, and closed the door, and Smeaton, seating
himself at the table, gave himself up to thought.

He was not long in determining his course, and what the result of his
reflections was, may be judged by some words which he spoke aloud, as
one is apt to do when hesitation gives place to reflection.

"He is only to be fought with his own weapons," he said. "I owe it to
her, to myself, and to others. Yet, if possible, she must be mine
before we go. The occasion will justify the precipitancy."

After again pausing in thought, for a minute or two, he approached the
little window, opened it, and looked out. Finding that the distance
from the sill to the ground was not above five or six feet, he quietly
let himself down, and walked, though with much difficulty, owing to
the steepness of the hill, to the little path which led up to the
well. Opposite the well, he paused; and, striding across, so as to
rest his right foot upon the opposite brim, he applied the key Van
Noost had given him to that part of the chiselling in the rough
stone-work which he fancied must conceal the key-hole. He had some
difficulty in finding it, however; but, at length, succeeded. Van
Noost was a clever artificer. The key turned even more easily than
that from which it had been modelled, and Smeaton, satisfied that he
could command access to Emmeline at any time he pleased, locked the
door again, and returned to his chamber at the cottage. Then,
exploring his saddle-bags, he brought forth from them a little round
case, very generally used by notaries of that time, which contained
some sheets of writing-paper, pens, and an ink-bottle; and, seating
himself at the table, he wrote a rapid letter to Lord Stair,
explaining the circumstances in which he was placed.


"It is now more than a week, my lord," he said, "since I wrote to your
lordship, requesting you to use your influence, with the government in
order to obtain my formal recognition as an English subject, and
offering to comply with every proper form that may be required in such
a case. I stated to you that I had inviolately adhered to the promise
I gave you not to meddle in any shape with political matters, but
that, nevertheless, I understood measures had been taken for arresting
me, notwithstanding the assurances I had received from your lordship,
Since I wrote the above letter, which, I fear, can never have reached
you, I have every reason to believe that a scheme has been devised for
driving me into the hands of parties opposed to the existing
government.

"I was induced this morning by Sir John Newark to go over to a house
called Mount Place to return the visit of its owner, and found a
number of gentlemen with him, though I had been led to believe he
would be alone. As I discovered at once that they were discussing
questions of much political importance, I took my leave and retired,
not having been, in the whole, two minutes in the house. I then rode
on to my mother's property of Keanton, where I had previously sent the
good man, Van Noost, whom you know, in order to keep him out of
danger. He was amusing himself, at the moment of my arrival, in
casting leaden globes to replace some others which had been blown or
knocked off the pinnacles of the house; but before I had been ten
minutes at Keanton, the place was taken possession of by a party of
soldiers, and I and Van Noost were apprehended upon warrants
previously issued, to which General C----, from a misapprehension of
what the poor statuary was doing, added a charge of casting bullets
for the purposes of civil war. Given into custody of one Captain
Smallpiece and a party of horse, I and my fellow prisoner were taken
to an inn, where the officer determined to remain for the night,
although I expressed my desire to proceed to Exeter. The peasantry had
previously shown themselves inclined to resist my apprehension, and
here a large body of men found means to introduce themselves into the
inn, and to overpower the troopers, who were mostly drunk. In the
affray, Captain Smallpiece was in the act of shooting Van Noost, who
had taken no part whatever in the struggle; and, to save the poor
man's life, I was obliged to knock the officer down. Feeling that such
a chain of circumstances--some of which were evidently accidental,
though some were brought about for the purpose of involving me in the
rash schemes of others--would form a very dangerous kind of evidence
against me, and knowing the peril of being one of the first persons
proceeded against in troublous times, I took advantage of the
opportunity of making my escape, with the resolution of writing
immediately to your lordship; a resolution which I now execute. Every
word of the statement here given is true, upon my honour as a
gentleman and a soldier. Since I have been here, I have held no
communication with any one on political affairs. I have taken no part
in any disturbances or any schemes whatever; but the assurance given
me by your lordship, that I should not be molested, has been grossly
violated by the authorities here, as if it was their object and
intention to drive me into the arms of the disaffected. Nothing shall
do so, if I can by any means avoid it; and it is my intention
immediately to return to France. If I am prevented from doing so,
however, by any active pursuance of the sort of persecution to which I
have been subjected, and I find my earnest desire to remain tranquil,
and to take no part in any political affairs whatever, thus
frustrated, I must of course follow those measures which I judge
requisite for my own safety."

He added a few words more, in regard to the general object of his
letter, took a copy of it, and addressed it to the Earl in London.
After having done so, he retired to rest, and slept as tranquilly for
some hours as if the course of the preceding day had been calm and
smooth.



CHAPTER XXIII.

There were lights in many of the windows of Ale Manor House when
Thomas Higham approached by the back way. The gates of the great court
behind, however, were bolted, and the bloodhound bayed loud and deep
at the man's approach; but after he had rung the bell, and the animal
had snuffed under the gates for a moment, his hoarse bark was
silenced; he recognized a friend. Higham soon obtained admission, and
found the household in much commotion from the rumours which had
reached Ale during the evening. Various was the aspect of the
different servants whom he encountered as he was led to the presence
of Sir John Newark. Those who had been but a short time in the family
were full of wonder and amazement at all the events which rumour had
detailed and magnified, and did not scruple to show their surprise and
curiosity. The elder servants, who knew their master and his affairs
better, were calm and silent, and asked no questions whatsoever. They
had observed that Sir John Newark; though he had affected much
surprise at the news of his guest's apprehension, had been in reality
but little affected thereby; and, when a rumour of his escape had been
carried to Sir John, a glance of angry disappointment had crossed the
knight's countenance, which did not escape notice. They understood him
pretty well, and read such slight indications aright. We seldom
reflect that we are a constant object of study to our servants; that
we are, as it were, a model set up for them to draw in their own
minds, and that, walking round us in every position of life, they have
full opportunity of completing the sketch.

Led on by the butler, Higham was conducted through the great stone
hall to the room in which the knight usually sat. He found him alone;
for he had sent both Emmeline and his son away, in order to reflect
upon his course more at leisure. Something had gone wrong in his
plans; and they required to be rectified. He had announced, on the
very first intelligence of the young Earl's capture, that he should
ride in the early morning of the following day to Exeter, in order to
see what could be done for him; in truth, to see what could be done
for himself in regard to Keanton. In prison and in danger, Sir John
thought, Smeaton would not be very difficult to deal with; and, if he
were, it would be easy to tighten his bonds a little. Moreover,
another object had been gained by his apprehension. The vague fears
regarding Emmeline, which had taken possession of the knight's mind as
soon as he discovered that his guest was unmarried, had been
increasing lately with a sort of instinct, and he rejoiced to have his
guest removed.

Though a bold man, as we have seen, Sir John Newark was also a timid
one. It seems a paradox, yet it is true, and similar cases are not
unfrequent. He was bold in devising, bold even in executing, schemes
for his own aggrandizement; but he was timid in fruition. He never
fancied himself safe. He was always taking precautions. The only
imagination he had was for difficulties and dangers; and one bold
scheme for the attainment of a particular object was continually
succeeded by another for the purpose of securing what had been
obtained. It is strange, but true, that most of the cruel acts and
many of the rash ones found on the page of history had their source in
cowardice.

Smeaton's escape was therefore doubly disagreeable to him; and, when
he heard the bell of the great court ring, and imagined that his noble
guest might have returned to seek shelter in his house, he instantly
set to work to hold a somewhat tumultuous counsel in his own breast as
to how he should demean himself to attain his double object. The
entrance of the servant instead of the master, however, put a stop to
these considerations; and he asked impatiently--

"Well--well, where is your Lord?"

"Really, sir, I don't know," replied the man, who, having received but
vague directions from the young Earl, thought himself privileged to
lie at liberty. "I did not know that I should not find him here; but
they say he has not come; and he took the road towards Keanton, sure
enough. Perhaps, I had better set out to seek him."

Sir John thought before he replied.

"Then this rumour of his having been rescued is true?" he said, at
length.

Higham nodded, and added to that mute mode of assent the words,

"A great pack of country fellows did it. Most of the soldiers were
drunk, and were overpowered in a minute. I had no hand in it,
however."

"Sir John leaned his head upon his hand, and mused.

"Then you positively do not know where he is?" he inquired.

"No, really, I cannot say, Sir John," answered Higham. "I dare say, at
Keanton, hiding amongst his tenants."

"Not unlikely," said the knight. "I think you had better not go just
at present. Wait here to-night, and get some refreshments. To-morrow,
perhaps, your Lord may send for you; and, if not, and you go to seek
for him, you shall bear him a message from me."

"Would it not be better for him to come here, sir?" asked Higham, ever
willing to probe the minds of those with whom he was brought in
contact. "I think he would be safer in this out-of-the-way place than
anywhere."

"On no account, on no account," exclaimed the knight, caught in the
trap laid for him. "Of course," he added, after a moment's reflection,
"suspicion will be directed towards this house, from the fact of my
intimacy with your Lord. The place will be searched, probably more
than once; and his own safety requires that he should avoid the
neighbourhood. His tenantry at Keanton, probably, can conceal him for
the time; and, as soon as pursuit has somewhat abated, it will be well
for him to get out of the county, if not out of the kingdom. I speak
against my own wishes and my own views," he continued, seeing an
expression on the man's face which he did not clearly understand.
"Nothing would give me so much pleasure as to see your master, and to
offer him every assistance in my power; but to persuade him to come
here, would be leading him to destruction. If I knew where to find
him, I would go and visit him; for I have no personal fears in the
matter, my good friend, whatever you may think."

"Oh, dear no, sir," answered Higham. "I don't think at all. I dare
say, however, I shall very soon hear where my Lord is to be found; for
he told me, when last I saw him, to come to Ale Manor; and, whenever I
hear, I will let your worship know."

"Do so--do so," said Sir John Newark; "and now go and get yourself
some supper. I dare say you are hungry after all this bad work."

"As a fox-hunter," rejoined Higham, and turned towards the door; but
Sir John thought he might as well add a stroke or two to the picture
of danger he had been drawing; and he called to the man, just as he
was quitting the room--

"Tell my people, if any party should come to search the house during
the night, not to open the doors till they have my orders."

"I won't fail, sir," replied Higham; and then, closing the door, he
threaded his way through the passages towards the servants' part of
the house, saying to himself, "Now for the old housekeeper. I wonder
my Lord trusts that sly old hunks. But I must do as he has told me.
She must be playing double somewhere, that is clear enough; but
whether with my Lord and the young lady, or with worshipful Sir John,
I cannot tell."

Quietly tapping at good Mrs. Culpepper's door, he went in; and the
eagerness with which she looked towards him showed at once that his
visit was not altogether unexpected, She made him a sign to shut the
door, and then said, abruptly--

"Have you any news from your master? And is he safe?"

"Yes, ma'am," replied the man. "He is quite safe, and told me to tell
you--"

"Hush!" interrupted the old woman, putting her finger to her lips.
"Not now go and get yourself some refreshment in the servants' hall.
There are not more than two or three up. Pretend to fall asleep in
your chair. They will soon leave you; and I will come when I am
certain that all is quiet. Stay, I will order your supper." Then,
approaching close to him, she asked, in a whisper, "Where is your
Lord?"

"Here, in Ale village," returned Higham, in the same low tone; and,
opening the door, the old housekeeper passed out.

Crossing the end of the passage at the very moment, as if going
towards his own bed-room, was Sir John Newark himself; and, raising her
voice, without a moment's hesitation, Mrs. Culpepper said, in a
somewhat sharp tone--

"Pray, Sir John, is this man to have supper at this time of night?"

"Certainly," replied her master. "He has had a very fatiguing day; and
it is not _his_ fault that he is late."

"Well then, fellow, come with me," said the housekeeper, walking away
with him to the servants' hall. There she ordered him some supper, in
a cold and commanding tone, and left him to enjoy it.

Higham played his part well. He ate and thank, nodded, took another
cup of ale, and then seemed to fall fast asleep. The three servants
who were still up dropped off one by one, and left him, with a kitchen
lamp on the table, to follow when he thought fit to wake. He remained
for half an hour longer, however, undisturbed, and had nearly fallen
asleep in reality, when Mrs. Culpepper again appeared, and quietly
closed the door behind her.

"Now, what says your lord?" she demanded, speaking very low.

"He bade me tell you, ma'am," replied the servant, "that he is quite
well and in safety, and begs you to let those know who may be
anxious."

The old housekeeper slowly nodded her head, to show that she
comprehended, and then said--

"What more?"

"Why, only that he is here, in Ale, I was to say," answered the man,
"at the house of a fisherman, named Grayling, and that he hopes, in
spite of all that has happened, to be able to carry out what was
proposed, with your good help."

Again Mrs. Culpepper nodded her head, and merely asked--

"Is that all?"

"He told me to ask you, ma'am," said Higham, "if it would be safe for
him to venture here; for he much wishes to speak with you and somebody
else, whose name he did not mention--perhaps he means Master Richard."

"Perfectly safe, if he could come in private," replied Mrs. Culpepper;
"but most dangerous if he were to be seen. Yet stay. He is quite
secure at Grayling's for two or three days. Now, mark what you must
do. Rise early to-morrow, before daylight; go quietly down to him at
the cottage, and tell him what I say--he will understand you. Tell
him, the means of coming in, in private, he shall have by you
to-morrow night. I cannot get the key at present. As soon as you have
delivered the message, come back here, and mind you close and lock the
doors behind you just as you found them. Take care, likewise, to make
no noise."

"If I am to go early in the morning," observed the man, "I had better
stay where I am. I will put the edge of the tankard under my head, and
then my nodding will wake me, from time to time."

"Don't put it too often to your lips," retorted Mrs. Culpepper,
gravely; "for your master's safety and happiness depend on your
carefulness just now."

"Lord bless you, ma'am, I've been accustomed to these things," said
Higham, "and could sit with a tankard of strong waters under my nose
for a month without ever touching a drop, if there was any business to
be done at the end of it."

"You will not lose your reward if you are faithful," said the old
woman; "and so, good night."

As soon as she was gone, Higham murmured to himself--

"She is, on the right side, I _do_ think. She must be a wonderful
cunning old woman."

With this reflection, he folded his arms on the table, laid his head
upon them, and in a few minutes was fast asleep: Every time the
house-clock struck, however, he looked up and counted; and, at the
hour of four, shook off his drowsiness, took a tolerable draught from
the flagon, and then crept quietly out of the servants'-hall. He had
the choice of three doors by which to make his exit. That of the great
hall, however, had, to his knowledge, a very bad habit of creaking on
its hinges. That which led into the court led also to the bloodhound;
and, though he was not at all afraid of the animal's bite, he was
afraid of his bark. There was a little door, however, which led into a
lesser Court, formed expressly, it would seem, for the entertainment
of the men and maid servants of the family; and by this convenient
passage Higham took his way out, with little difficulty and no noise.

Nothing interrupted him on his way to the village; and there, by the
lights he saw in several of the cottages, he perceived that many of
the inmates were up, preparing for some of their lawful or unlawful
occupations. A light was in old Grayling's house also; and, looking
through the window, which had no shutters but plenty of bars, he saw
the old man with a short pipe in his mouth, lighting the fire in the
kitchen.

Tapping at the window, Higham soon brought the fisherman to his door;
and, with one accustomed to somewhat perilous enterprises, very little
explanation was needful.

The young Earl was soon wakened, and the message delivered. That
message threw Smeaton into a fit of thought, which lasted, however,
not long. Impulse, impulse! It is always getting the better of us,
till it is worn out and has lost its spring with years. It was very
powerful, I fear, in Smeaton's case, when, rising and dressing himself
as rapidly as possible, he said to the man:

"You must go back. Get speech of Mrs. Culpepper as soon as possible,
and tell her that she will find me in the priest's chamber. Say that I
am sure I can get back unobserved by passing through the trees, and
that, as speed is everything, it will be better to form our plans
quickly. If she cannot come this morning, I will be there again at
night. You must come with me, however, in the first instance. Now,
lock that door."

The man obeyed, with some surprise; but was more surprised still when
he saw his master descend from the window as he had done on the
preceding night. Being a great deal shorter, he had some difficulty,
to say the truth, in following, but, with Smeaton's assistance,
succeeded at length, and reached the ground in safety.

"Now go on before me," said the Earl; "and, if you meet any persons
coming down this way, say something to them in a loud tone. Keep
straight on that path."

"Oh, sir, I know it very well," returned the man. "Many a time I have
been down here since we came."

"Hush!" said Smeaton. "Go on, and keep silence."

Doing as he was bid, with the darkness rapidly giving way to twilight,
the man walked up towards Ale Manor, taking a quick furtive glance
behind him from time to time to see whither his master was going.
Suddenly, however, when he turned round to look the young nobleman had
disappeared; and it is unnecessary to inform the reader which way he
had bent his steps.

The moment the stone door beyond the well was closed, Smeaton found
himself in utter darkness; but, feeling his way with his hands, he
reached the steps upwards, and soon after began to gain air and light.
Nobody came near him for somewhat more than a quarter of an hour; and
Smeaton's spirit grew impatient of the restraint. The moments were
passing quickly, on which so much depended, and yet no progress was
made.

"The sun must have risen," he thought; "and perhaps Emmeline is
already up. It is strange I hear nothing of my old nurse! Perhaps that
foolish fellow has forgotten his errand, or missed his opportunity, or
committed some other blunder. I must speak with her at once, if at
all; and we shall soon have the whole household up."

As he thus thought, impatience overcame all other considerations; and
he approached the door which led into the state bed-room beyond. No
great difficulty presented itself in pushing back the panel; and,
making as little noise as he could, he issued forth from the
hiding-place. The room was vacant. After pausing a moment and
listening for a step, he quietly opened the door and went out into the
passage. Nobody was there; but the door of Emmeline's room was close
beside him; and he thought he heard the sound of some one moving
within. The temptation was too great to be resisted, and he tapped
gently at the door. At first there was no reply; she did not hear the
tap; but again a sound was audible within like the quiet opening of a
window; and he tapped once more.

The next instant he heard a light step near the door, and it opened.
Surprise, which was the first expression on Emmeline's beautiful face,
changed in a moment to joy; and, forgetting all things in the
untutored wildness of her delight, she cast herself upon his bosom and
wept. Smeaton held her to his heart and kissed her tenderly, drawing
her in silence towards the state chamber; but Emmeline whispered:

"No. Come in here. It will be safer. This is my own sitting-room. No
one will come hither." And she led him into that large, airy chamber
in which she was first introduced to the sight of the reader.

Impossible would it be to attempt any detailed account of the brief
conversation which ensued--so much was to be told, so much to be
spoken of, so many words of tenderness and affection to be uttered.
Emmeline poured forth her whole heart. She knew not, she could not
conceive, any motive, when once that heart was given, and its love
acknowledged, for concealing, from him she loved, anything that passed
within it. She spoke of all she had suffered since the moment when she
heard of his arrest; of all the grief, of all the anxiety, of all the
sleepless thought. She spoke, too, of her joy to see him safe and
free. But the voice of happiness is still and low, and Smeaton had to
read one half of her sensations in her eyes.

As but very little time could be spared, however, he told her as
speedily as possible all that he proposed. He explained that his
purpose of returning at once to France was unaltered, if she would
still consent to go with him, but thought it would be far better that
she should give him her hand before they took their departure; adding,
he had but little doubt that he could so arrange that the ceremony
should be duly and irrevocably performed.

She replied at once, without hesitation or reluctance--

"Whatever you tell me, Henry, I will do; and it will be much better
that I should go as your wife. I am yours altogether; and, if
occasionally, since I promised to go with you, feelings of
doubt--perhaps, I might almost say, of self-reproach--have come across
me, for so joyfully consenting to quit the protector of my childhood,
those feelings have all passed. His conduct towards you, his betrayal
of you, would remove all scruples. All was explained to me last night,
and I never heard of darker baseness. To me, too, he has behaved very
ill, and to my parents worse. What I looked upon as kindness and
protection have been, in reality, policy and imprisonment; and I have
every right to leave him who has no right to detain me. Hark!"

Her exclamation was caused by a sound at the lock of the door. The
next instant the door was opened, and Mrs. Culpepper appeared. She
showed no surprise, but much agitation; and, without closing the door,
she beckoned to Smeaton, saying, in a low tone--

"This is madness, Henry. Indeed, my lord, you must fly this instant.
You can return at night; but do not come out of the priest's chamber
till I knock for you. Come, my lord, come. Sir John is already moving
in his room."

With one more embrace, Smeaton and Emmeline parted; and, holding up
her finger to enjoin silence, Mrs. Culpepper led the young nobleman
back to the priest's chamber, closing the aperture behind him. She
then returned, at once, to Emmeline's apartment, and, having shut the
door, said--

"Run into your bed-room, dear lady, and answer me aloud through the
door."

Emmeline did as she was asked, and then the old housekeeper put
several questions as to her night's rest, and several matters of
ordinary interest, receiving somewhat wondering replies. But the old
woman was politic; and she was still speaking, when Sir John Newark
knocked at the door, saying--

"Who are you talking to, Emmeline?"

Mrs. Culpepper instantly opened the door, and replied--

"It is I, Sir John."

Her voice was as calm and quiet, her manner as unruffled and staid as
usual; but Sir John Newark beckoned her out of the room, and then
said, in a low tone--

"I heard a noise as if the entrance to the priest's room had been
rolled backward and forward."

"Yes, Sir John," replied the old lady. "By your own orders, I go
frequently to see that it opens and shuts easily. I always go early or
late; but I thought I heard the young lady moving in her room, and I
went to see what could have got her up so early."

Sir John Newark did not speak for a minute, but looked at the
housekeeper quietly from under his eyebrows, and she saw at once that
he doubted her. She was too much accustomed, however, to meet and
frustrate his suspicions to be at all alarmed, though she felt some
degree of apprehension, from various causes, when he said, at length--

"I have not been in that priest's room for two or three years. I
should like to look round it again."

"Very well, sir," replied Mrs. Culpepper, adding internally--"Pray God
the dear boy be gone!"

Sir John Newark moved into the stateroom, with a certain quickness of
step which showed how little satisfied he was; but the old proverb.
"The more haste the worse speed," was verified in his case. He walked
at once up to the head of the bed to move it back; but he had either
forgotten the trick, or he mismanaged it in his hurry; so that after
one or two efforts he was obliged to have recourse to Mrs. Culpepper,
who, in order to avoid all suspicion, opened the entrance at once. Sir
John Newark instantly stepped in, gave a quick glance round the room,
and then advanced to the door leading to the passages below. Finding
himself surrounded by darkness, however, he stopped at the end of the
first two or three steps, and said, somewhat sharply, "Bring me a
light."

The old housekeeper retired to obey; and, during her absence, which
was as short as possible, her master remained with his head bent and
his ear intently listening. When he had obtained the light, he walked
quickly forward, followed by Mrs. Culpepper, and did not pause till he
reached the stone door which led out upon the hill-side. He put his
hand upon the lock; but it was fastened, and then, holding the candle
to the little niche at the side, he looked in. The key was in its
place, and he retired satisfied.



CHAPTER XXIV.

It was nine o'clock before Sir John Newark entered the room where
preparations had been made for breakfast. He found his son Richard
talking gaily to Emmeline in the window, while she replied with a
bright and smiling face. Although, considering his designs respecting
Emmeline and his son, it might be supposed that such a sight was
pleasant to him, yet that poisoner of all peace, suspicion, would not
have it so. Emmeline's excessive anxiety during the preceding day,
after tidings had been received of Smeaton's capture, had not escaped
his notice, although she had striven hard to conceal the emotions
which were busy in her bosom, and now she seemed so bright and
cheerful that he said to himself, "She must have some intelligence."

He resolved to watch her carefully; but, happily for Emmeline,
emotions as strong, though very different from, those of the day
before, had still possession of her. They were more joyful, more
hopeful, but perhaps even more thrilling; and, several times during
the meal, she fell into deep fits of thought. Suspicion is always
vacillating, and Sir John began to doubt whether he had been right or
not. His son contributed, too, to remove the fancy which possessed him
by saying, with one of his wild laughs, towards the middle of
breakfast. "I was telling Emmy when you came in, father, that we
should have this Colonel Lord back again here very soon. Great fish
always lie on the same bank."

"I do not know, Dick," replied his father, gravely. "I think it is
very improbable you will ever see him again. If he is wise, he will
betake himself to France immediately. Otherwise he may very well
chance to leave his head on the scaffold some morning."

Richard laughed, exclaiming. "Well then, he had a great deal better
kick it before him across the sea. A precious foot-ball it would
make."

Emmeline gave a slight shudder, and Sir John dropped the conversation
till the meal was ended, when he said, "The Earl's servant is here, as
I dare say you know, Dick; but he has had no news of his master, and
fancies he must be at Keanton."

"Oh, I know Higham is here," answered the lad; "for I had a long talk
with him just before you sent for him. He told me all about the
rescue. What fun it must have been to see those lubberly soldiers all
tied, and lying heads and tails like herrings in a barrel! I wish I
had been there. I should have liked to help poor Smeaton, and leather
the jacket of that long captain. Higham says his master knocked him
down just as he did the Earl of Stair's great bully, and vows that the
punch-bowls jumped up a foot off the table with the shock of his
fall."

"Well, Dick," observed his father, "the servant talks of riding over
by the tops of the downs to Keanton to see for his lord. Now, as you
know there is nothing I would so willingly do as assist this noble
gentleman, you and I will ride over with the man to within half a mile
of Keanton. Then, if he finds his master, we can establish some
communication with him, and perhaps assist him."

He paused a moment, and then, turning to Emmeline, he added; "I fear
you cannot go with us, my dear child. Maiden modesty forbids your
running about the country to inquire for a young cavalier. I think,
too, it might be as well for you to remain within during our absence.
There will be parties of soldiers, doubtless, scouring the country in
various directions, and they are neither the most civil or civilized."

"I have no inclination to go out," replied Emmeline, simply. "I am
tired with all the anxiety of yesterday."

Sir John Newark, his son, and Smeaton's servant, were soon on
horseback; and, without any other attendant, they set out, turning
sharp to the left after quitting the gates of the Manor House, and
winding round the edge of the woods till they reached nearly the top
of Ale Head. Thence pursuing their course across the downs, with the
high cliffs beetling over the sea at the distance of about a quarter
of a mile on their left, they continued their course, alternately
rising and descending up the brown hills and down into the green
solitary hollows which extend fifteen or sixteen miles along the
coast.

At the distance of about seven miles from Ale Manor, however, they
came to one of these hollows, which assumed more the appearance of a
regular valley, with a bright and beautiful little stream flowing down
it towards the sea. Here they halted; Higham received instructions to
ride on before, while the other two slowly followed, and Sir John
added:

"We will wait at the distance of about half a mile from Keanton. Tell
your Lord that we are there, if he thinks it safe to come and speak
with us. If not, bring us some tidings of him; but enter the village
very cautiously, lest the good people of Keanton should have fallen
into the hands of the Philistines."

Higham nodded his head and rode away. Sir John Newark, who had been
very silent during the first part of the journey, now entered into an
eager conversation with his son, which, as I must refer to it
afterwards, I need not notice more particularly here. Suffice it to
say, that the father spoke, earnestly and apparently impressively, and
that the son, though at first he listened with eagerness and looks of
surprise, and strove afterwards to fix his wandering attention upon
his father's words, soon resumed his usual manner, and laughed and
talked gaily and wildly, flitting round the subject rather than
resting upon it.

After they had reached the spot which had been fixed upon as their
halting-place, Sir John and his young companion remained for about
three quarters of an hour in expectation, Richard getting off and on
his horse, throwing pebbles into the stream, and showing many signs of
impatience. Sir John marked him with a slight smile, and at length
Higham made his appearance again, trotting quietly and unconcernedly
down towards them.

"He is not there, Sir John," said the man, riding up "at least so all
the people say; but they are mighty stingy of their words this
morning. However, one thing is certain. They have heard nothing of the
Exeter people, and I make out pretty surely that my Lord is not very
far off, and that they know it."

"Ah, how do you make that out?" asked Sir John Newark.

"Why, one man began talking about a stranger having come to Blacklands
late last night; but his wife stopped his mouth in a minute; and, when
I asked where Blacklands was and what it was, he gave a rambling sort
of answer. But, I believe, it must be some farm near at hand."

"It is five miles off," replied Sir John, immediately; "a wild and
solitary place, shut out from the whole neighbourhood, and a very
likely spot indeed for a fugitive to take refuge in. We had better
ride over there. You are sure there are no soldiers in the village?"

"Not a man, sir," answered Higham; "and besides, they have got people
on the top of the hill to look out."

"Well then, we will take that way, as it is the shortest," said the
knight--"Come, Richard."

"I think I shall go back," said Richard Newark. "I am tired of this
work. I'll go back and have a gossip with Enemy."

"Do not be rash, Dick," replied his father, holding up his finger,
with a smile. "Remember, slow degrees at first! You do not scare birds
that you want to drive into a net."

The lad laughed, and saying, "Oh, I'll not be rash," turned his
horse's head, and cantered quietly away. When he had gone about a
couple of miles, however, he fell into deep thought, took his feet out
of the stirrups, let the reins drop on the horse's neck, and, for more
than half an hour, proceeded at a walk. Then, as if suddenly rousing
himself, he whistled a bit of a light air, put his horse into a quick
pace again, and rode on to the Manor House.

It was very usual with Richard to stand in the stable-yard after a
ride, till he had seen saddle and bridle removed and the horse rubbed
down; but now he left his beast immediately in the hands of the groom,
and walked across the court till he came to a place where a large
Irish eagle was chained to a heavy perch. The bird was fierce and
untameable; but Richard approached it without fear, and took hold of
the padlock on its leg. He had hardly done so when it struck him with
its bill more than once; but he proceeded boldly till he had
unfastened the chain from its leg, and given it a vehement push from
the perch. The bird instantly took wing, and soared into the sky.
Richard Newark laughed aloud, and, without looking after it, wiped
some drops of blood from his forehead, and walked into the house. He
pursued his way quietly through the passages, looked into the lesser
and the greater saloon, and then, mounting the stairs, walked up to
the door of Emmeline's sitting-room. There he paused a moment; and
then, murmuring: "What a fool I am!--but I knew that long ago," he
opened the door without knocking, and went in. Emmeline was seated
near the window, gazing down upon the woods below; but she turned
instantly at her cousin's step, and started up, exclaiming--

"What is the matter, Richard? What has happened? The blood is
streaming down your face!"

"Nothing at all has happened, Emmy dear," replied Richard. "Only, as
often occurs in this world, a friend took me for an enemy, and pecked
my pate. Come here and sit down, and I will tell you all about it,
though there is nothing worth hearing to tell. Sit down here, Emmy,"
he continued, again wiping away the blood, "There, put yourself in
that chair; and I will sit on the stool at your feet, as I used to do
before they sent me to school to see what part of my brain was sound."

"But what have you been doing, Richard?" said Emmeline, seating
herself as he desired her.

"Nothing but giving liberty to an eagle," replied the boy; "and he
pecked me while I was unchaining his foot."

"Oh, you should not have done that, Dickon," said his fair companion.
"Your father will be angry."

"Why so?" demanded the lad. "The bird was mine. He was given to me, and
I had a right to do what I liked with him. Well, Emmy," he continued,
after a moment or two, "we have heard nothing of Smeaton, and a dull
ride we have had of it. So I left my daddy to trot on his way, and
came back."

Emmeline was silent; for she did not wish to speak upon the subject of
her lover at all; but Richard went on in a rambling sort of tone,
saying,

"Ay, dull enough it was; and, while we were waiting for Tom Higham's
coming back, my father had some serious conversation with me, as he
calls it. I hate serious conversation, Emmy."

"But you should always attend to what your father says to you,
Richard," observed Emmeline, "and to everything that he tells you,
_which is right_."

The last words were uttered after a moment's pause, and in a lower
tone.

"Very true," replied Richard, half laughing. "What you say is always
true, Emmy, but the worst of it is--I suppose the soft place in my
brain prevents it--my father and I can never agree upon what is quite
right. The fact is, dear girl, I see one side, and he sees the other,
as the old story-book has it; and, if one side is black, and the other
side is white, we can never agree in opinion. Do you know what he was
telling me to-day?

"No, indeed," answered Emmeline. "I cannot conceive."

"Why, he was telling me," said Richard, looking down and speaking in
an absent manner--"he was telling me that he intended me to marry you
and you to marry me; that it must be; that the fate and fortune of us
both depended upon it."

Emmeline trembled violently; and, as the shoulder of Richard Newark
rested against her arm, he felt how much agitation his words produced.
The moment after, Emmeline felt his hand laid gently upon hers, and
she asked, in a low voice,

"What did you say to him, Richard?"

"Nothing much to the purpose," replied Richard; "for he set all my
thoughts rambling and galloping like huntsmen at the field-halloo. I
laughed and talked as if I had been very happy; but I was thinking all
the time, Emmeline. First, I thought (what I never thought of before)
how very happy it would be to marry you--and how you might make
anything you liked of me--and what a changed being I should be if you
were my wife--and how dearly I should love you--and how I _do_ love
you--and a great many other foolish things. Nay, don't shake, dear
Emmy! There is no fear with your own poor Dick."

"I am not afraid, Dick," responded Emmeline, pressing the hand he had
laid upon hers; "for I know right well that, whatever faults your head
may have, your heart has none."

"That's a good girl," returned Richard Newark. "Well, I thought a
great deal more still. After all these foolish things had had their
gallop, I thought I would not marry you for the whole world; or if all
the kings and queens in the world were to try to force us."

"Indeed, Richard?" said Emmeline, with a faint smile. "You had good
reasons, doubtless."

"To be sure I had," replied the lad. "In the first place, I know that
I am not worthy of you, that I am not fit for you. In the next place,
I know that you would not like it; that you love another; and, that,
if you were driven to marry me, you would always be thinking of him,
and loving him, and not me. I should be your jailor, and not your
husband, and I should be wretched too; for I should be always flying
after your thoughts, like a sparrow-hawk after a lark, to see if you
were not thinking of your lover all the time. You know you love him,
Emmy. You love him very well, very dearly, and I do not wonder at
you."

The rosy colour that spread over her face, and neck, and forehead
would have been sufficient answer; but she said, in a low though
distinct tone--

"I do."

There was a pause, of a moment or two, and then Richard said--

"What a fool I should be, Emmeline--a greater fool than I am, and that
is bad enough--if I suffered my wits to be set wool-gathering by any
nonsense about ever marrying you, or putting Smeaton out of your head.
But still, Emmy," he continued, in a tender tone, "you will love me
after a sort--as you always have--as a kind friend--as a sister."

"Indeed I will, Richard," exclaimed Emmeline, earnestly, "and love you
all the better for your conduct this day. Now I know what you mean by
setting the eagle free; you would fain set Smeaton free of all
difficulties, if you could."

"No, dear Emmy," pursued Richard; "I did not exactly mean that. Indeed
I do not clearly know that I meant anything; but, as I rode homeward,
and thought how happy you might be if people left you to do just what
you liked, I wished to help you to do so--to make you quite free; and
then, when saw the poor eagle in the court, I thought how happy he
would be if he could soar away in the skies again at his own pleasure,
and then the thought came across me of what my father would say if
I unchained the bird's leg, and I answered myself, that I had a
right--that the bird was mine--that he had been given to me, and so
had you; and, therefore, I determined to set you both free. I do not
know how it was; but, somehow, there seemed a likeness between your
fate and his; though when he fluttered his wings, and struck at me, as
I unchained him, I said to myself, Emmeline will know better, and so
she does."

"Indeed she does, Richard," replied Emmeline; "and she will never
mistake you for an enemy."

"But do you know, Emmeline," continued her cousin, "that I have a
strange notion it would be better for us both to dissemble a little?
for I fancy my father has some suspicion about you and Smeaton."

"I fear I am a bad dissembler," returned Emmeline, incautiously. "I
cannot but dread that Sir John sees I have been dissembling with him
lately."

Richard, however, did not ask in what respect, but rambled on as
usual.

"Oh, we all dissemble more than we are aware," he said. "Here, I
never thought to deceive my father in anything; and yet, for some
reason--either from something in himself or in me--I never can tell
him all I think. I never can turn my heart inside out before him, as I
can with you. When I should most wish to say all, and make him
understand everything that is going on inside of me, some devil, I
think it is, comes and stops me, and makes me go rambling away with
vague answers about nothing at all, which he may take one way or
another, just as he likes. But what I mean is, not that we should just
exactly dissemble; for, as you love me well, and I love you well, it
is not dissembling to seem to do so. I would only have you look happy
when I am with you, and I'll try to make you so too; for I'll talk to
you of Smeaton, and we'll plan plans and plot plots about him, and all
sorts of pleasant things."

"There can be no harm in that, Richard," replied Emmeline, in a graver
tone than her young cousin had expected; for he was trying, though
hardly knowing it, to win her mind away from all heavy thoughts. But,
to say sooth, Emmeline was somewhat puzzled how to act towards him.
There was so much candour, so much frank kindness, in his whole
conduct, that her heart smote her for not telling him all she knew and
all she intended. She remembered, however, that the secrets in her
heart were not altogether her own--that she had only a divided right
over them; and, though it cost her some pain, she was silent.

Richard went on talking with her even after he heard the sounds which
accompanied his father's return; and, when he left her and went down
the stairs, although he was inclined to be more thoughtful than
perhaps he had ever felt in his life, he assumed a gay and joyous
look.

"Well, Dick," said his father, when he met him; "where have you been
all this time?"

"I have been sitting with Emmeline ever since I came back," replied
the lad; "and we have been talking of all sorts of things. She is a
dear girl indeed."

"But what is the matter with your forehead?" said his father. "Did
your horse fall?"

"Oh, no." cried Richard. "It was that brute of an eagle. I was tired
of seeing him sitting moping on his perch; so I went to unchain him,
and he pecked me on the head."

"Why, you foolish boy, you have not set him free?" exclaimed Sir John.

"Oh, yes, I have," answered Richard; "and he pecked me for my pains.
But Emmeline did not peck me, whatever I said to her. So I care not.
No chance of my being hen-pecked, father." And, with a gay laugh, he
turned away.

Sir John Newark was well pleased with what he had done. "Women are
strange beings," he said. "Who knows but what this boy's wild,
dashing, lighted-hearted thoughtlessness--so like his weak mother--may
not be metal more attractive in the girl's eyes than soberer sounder
reason? At all events, he will be a check and a guard upon her; and
even supposing her fancy has kindled into thoughts of love in the
society of this young Earl, it can only render something for love to
lean upon more needful to her when he is away. I have seen such
things. It will do. I am glad I spoke to the boy and told him my
intentions."

Sir John Newark thought he had more reason to congratulate himself
still, when, a few hours afterwards, he received a peremptory summons
to attend the authorities at Exeter on the following day. He mused for
a minute or two before he returned an answer; but, in the end, he
determined to assume a bold tone; and, calling for the messenger, he
told him to inform those who sent him, that he (Sir John) would come
right willingly, provided he was assured before noon that his house
would be subject to no violence, and his family to no annoyance or
insult, as on a former occasion.

"Hints are given in this letter," he said, "of a suspicion that the
Earl of Eskdale is harbouring in this house or neighbourhood. Tell
the high-sheriff, who seems taking upon him the office of Lord
Lieutenant, that, after the proofs of loyalty which I have lately
given, no such suspicion should be entertained; but, before you go,
and while your horse is feeding, I insist upon it that, by search or
cross-examination of the servants, and by inquiry in the village, you
ascertain whether there be any ground whatever for such a doubt.
Satisfy yourself fully, and then report accordingly; first to me, and
then to those who sent you. I shall set off at eleven to-morrow for
Aleton, and will thence go on to Exeter, if I am met there by a full
and proper assurance that, when I return, I shall not find my house
has been visited by a party of soldiers while I have been allured to a
distance."

The man, who was a person of somewhat superior station and
intelligence, took advantage of the permission given to him, and made
himself, as he thought, perfectly certain that no one, in Ale Manor
House at least, knew where the Earl of Eskdale was. The village, too,
he visited; but there he got gruff and indifferent answers, and once
or twice became somewhat afraid of pursuing his inquiries. Perhaps
these fears tended to make him more easily satisfied than he otherwise
would have been; but the conclusion he came to was, that the rough
fishermen knew nothing of the matter, and did not like to be troubled
with things that concerned them not. Before he departed, he saw Sir
John Newark again, and told him the result of his inquiries. Sir John
was very gracious; for the result was as satisfactory to him as it
could be to any one.

"No," he said to himself, "no. He is at Blacklands, clear enough,
though they would not own it. Or else this man; whom they spoke of
going towards Exmouth, may have been he."

He dismissed the messenger, however, with a fee, as was not
uncustomary in those venal times, and rested more tranquilly than he
had done the night before, only wishing that he could hold some
communication with the young Earl for a day or two, to fix his
meditated grasp upon Keanton.



CHAPTER XXV.

It was about nine o'clock at night when two persons on foot approached
the little hamlet of Aleton. One of them advanced a little before the
other, as if to reconnoitre; but all was still and quiet in the place;
and even the small public-house, unused, in that remote district, to
late visitors, was closed. Light could be seen within, indeed, through
the chinks of the rude window-shutters; and it is probable that the
latch of the door would have yielded to the hand of any belated
traveller; but there was no other sign of active life to be perceived
without.

The two persons of whom I have spoken, however, passed by the door of
the inn, and approached a house--the only other dwelling which
deserved the name--a little farther on the road to Exeter. Stepping up
to the door, the shorter of the two travellers knocked with his hand;
but the application producing no response from within, he was fain,
though apparently very unwilling to make a noise, to take hold of an
iron wire which hung at the side of the door with a bunch of hammered
iron at the end of it, and give a gentle pull. A tinkling sound was
immediately heard, and then the voice of a woman, saying aloud, to
some one in an inner room, as she moved along the passage--

"I dare say it is nothing but old Drayton dead, and they have come to
talk to you about the funeral."

The next instant, the door was opened; and Van Noost (for he was the
summoner) inquired if Parson Thickett were at home.

"Oh dear, yes, Master Smith," replied the servant (for people even in
those days called themselves Jack Smith when they sought concealment);
"and he will be very glad to see you. He could not think what had
become of you. Is this gentleman your friend?"

Van Noost nodded his head and entered the house, followed by Smeaton.
The maid shut and bolted the door again, and then led them on into the
parson's little parlour, where they found that reverend personage
enjoying himself according to his evening wont. There was one lighted
candle on the table; but the room, though small, was obscure; for a
thick cloud of tobacco-smoke floated in it. On the hob of the vacant
grate lay the pipe from which that smoke had proceeded; and close at
the parson's elbow was a tall bottle containing some sort of spirits,
a plate and knife, with a lemon, and a pot of sugar. Between him and
the candlestick, however, was an open Greek book in old and tattered
binding; for Parson Thickett was an erudite man, notwithstanding some
little failings. In person, he was fatter than Van Noost, and of a
very different sort of fatness. His limbs were large, but seemed
almost disjointed, or at best held loosely together by the lax
integuments that covered them. His stomach was large and prominent,
betraying beneath his cassock--for he was generally in canonicals--a
vast hemisphere of black. His face was somewhat coarse, it must be
acknowledged. He had a large ear and a large lip, and, not contented
with a large chin, he had two of them. There was a good deal of
shrewdness, however, and a certain portion of fun about his grey
watery eye; and his whole face lighted up with jovial good humour as
soon as he saw the statuary.

"Ha, my worthy friend!" he cried, starting up with greater agility
than might have been expected, and grasping Van Noost's hand warmly.
"Where have you been so long? I thought the Philistines were upon you,
by Jove. What of the brasses? What of the monuments? What of the
inscriptions? By Jove, I thought you had left your work half done; and
it might have remained long enough undone for me; for scrubbing brass
and marble is no part of my calling. I love my flock well enough; but,
when once I've got them under ground, I've done with them.--Ha! who is
this gentleman?"

"A friend of mine," replied Van Noost, "who has come to talk to your
reverence about a little business."

"He is welcome," cried the jolly parson. "Sir, you are welcome. We
will talk of business presently. Now, we'll have a bowl of punch, and
fresh pipes.--Betty, Betty!"

Smeaton tried to persuade him that he was in haste, and could not
stay; but Parson Thickett would take no denial.

"I will have my way," he cried, laughing. "I will have my way, by
Jove, for this time. You shall have your way the next time, upon my
sacred word of honour."

"Indeed?" said Smeaton.

"Of a verity," returned the parson, "unless you ask me for the tithe
pig that was brought in this morning. That is a reservation."

The glasses and pipes were brought in, fresh hot water procured, and
the brewing commenced; but, as soon as the door was shut, Smeaton
thought he might as well begin upon the subject of his visit.

"I will, certainly hold the tithe pig reserved," he said; "for I trust
to be able to increase your reverence's store of pigs instead of
diminishing them."

"Ay, indeed!" ejaculated the parson, squeezing a lemon hard between a
pair of pincers. "I think I know what you are come about. I heard all
the news this morning from the packman--how they are up in
Northumberland, and how the King has been proclaimed in Scotland, and
all the rest of it. Well, well. I am no fighting man; but the King
shall have my prayers; and Smith here can tell you that I have well
indoctrinated my congregation. There is not one of them who does not
say, over his beer--or his cider, if he comes from the other side of
the hills--'Here's to him over the water!'"

"Nay, my reverend friend, you are making a mistake," replied Smeaton.
"My business is altogether personal. I want you to perform the
marriage ceremony for myself and a young lady."

"That I will, my lad, that I will," exclaimed the parson, joyously.
"It is the function which I perform most willingly; for there is
always something merry to be said at the beginning, and always
something good to be eaten at the end."

"I fear there will not be, in this instance," observed Smeaton,
gravely; "for no wedding feast will be prepared."

"Never mind, never mind!" retorted the parson. "There is some fun in
matrimony, at all events. I'll buckle you so fast that you shall
neither of you get loose again in a hurry. Give me the names. I'll
have the banns published next Sunday."

"But we do not intend to have any banns either," said Smeaton.

"Better and better!" cried parson Thickett. "You _must_ have a
licence; and that is a fee in my pocket."

"Then you are a surrogate?" said his companion. "That smooths one
great difficulty."

"No, not exactly a surrogate," returned the other, leaving off his
punch-brewing, and growing somewhat interested in the conversation. "I
am a 'peculiar;' that is to say, young gentleman, I have a peculiar
jurisdiction ecclesiastical here, under the dean and chapter of
Exeter. I can grant licences, and prove wills, according to the canon,
being a bachelor of laws, as well as a doctor of divinity, let me tell
you.--Now, thank God for all good things!" he continued. "This is the
first time I have had to exercise my peculiarity--to my own profit, at
least."

The frame of mind which he was in seemed very favourable to Smeaton's
object; but, when the young nobleman, with some precaution, explained
to him fully what that object was, the worthy parson looked somewhat
aghast. The name of Sir John Newark, indeed, was not mentioned; but,
by some way, he jumped at the conclusion that the lady referred to was
Emmeline; and Smeaton did not contradict him. He shook his head
gravely, rolled his fat thumbs round each other for a minute or two,
and then shook his head again. Van Noost, however, came to the rescue,
judging rightly that the first impression of fear would wear off under
the influence of the glass.

"Come, parson," he said, "think of the punch a little. It is getting
cold."

"So it is, by Jove," cried the parson, ladling out the punch. "Here,
take a glass, sir. It will keep up the spirits of both of us; for this
is a bad business."

"Not at all," returned Smeaton, laughing. "It is perfectly right and
proper. All that we require secresy for is to prevent the
intermeddling of persons who have no right to meddle."

"But Sir John Newark is her guardian," said the parson, drinking some
of his punch.

"Not so," replied the young nobleman. "He is no more her guardian than
you are."

"You must have some guardian's consent," said Parson Thickett. "That I
know, because I've got the register of her birth in there--" and he
pointed to a large box in one corner of the room.

"Indeed!" exclaimed Smeaton. "Will you have the kindness to give me a
copy of it? I fancied that Sir John Newark kept the registers at Ale,
and would not let you have them."

"Not he," replied his reverend companion. "A fico for Sir John Newark!
The stingy hound has not asked me to dinner for three years, and
moreover tries to defraud me of my dues. He'll pay no tithes of mint
and cumin, not he. So the last time I had my hand upon the registers I
took them away. He had had them then four years; and that was four
years too many. You shall have a copy. He'll not much like that; and,
if I marry you, there will be an awful explosion."

He finished his speech with a good draught of punch; and Smeaton
remarked:

"I hope there is no 'if' in the case, my good sir. You promised, if I
would let you have your way, you would let me have mine."

"So I did, so I did," cried the priest, with a jolly laugh; "but, upon
my life, you must tell me something more; first, about her being under
age. That is the devil, as you have not got any guardian's consent."

"Nay," replied Smeaton. "There you are mistaken, my reverend friend.
Have the goodness to look at that."

As he spoke, he put into the clergyman's hand a sheet of paper, on
which were written two or three lines, in a fine bold style.

"Ha! What is here?" ejaculated the parson. "Then this is her lawful
guardian, is it?"

"I am ready to swear it," replied Smeaton; "and our good friend here,
whom you know, will testify--"

"Oh, I'll testify anything you like," interrupted Van Noost, drinking
off his punch and holding out his glass. "There, parson, give me some
more, and don't let us have any further objections, there's a worthy
divine. You know you will come to it in the end. We'll find means to
melt you."

"But suppose I do not come to it?" asked Doctor Thickett, looking at
Smeaton. "What will you do then?"

"I have simply one alternative," replied Smeaton gravely. "If you
refuse, I shall go back to Ale, and, authorised as you see by this
paper, take the lady to France with me this very night, as soon as the
moon rises."

"What, unmarried!" exclaimed the priest, with an affected look of
horror. "That cannot be; that cannot be. I _must_ marry you, by Jove,
to prevent scandal."

"Exactly," replied Smeaton, with a smile. "That is in reality my
object. We can be married as soon as we reach Nancy; but I think, on
every account, it would be better that the ceremony should be
performed before we set out."

"Oh, certainly, certainly," replied Doctor Thickett. "Let me look at
that paper again. I want to see how the case stands."

Pushing the punch away from him, he examined the paper accurately, and
at length, lifting his eyes, said:

"You are, then, the Earl of Eskdale?"

"He is none other, upon my say-so," chimed in Van Noost; "and, as we
cannot cast many men out of one mould, as we cast statues, I will
answer for it that there is not a copy of him extant."

The priest, however, was deeply cogitating the contents of the paper.

"This does not exactly say you are to marry her," he observed at
length; "but, as it tells the young lady that, in perfect confidence
of your honour and integrity, she is to do whatever you direct, I
suppose we must take the consent for implied. Well, that is got over.
Now then, the thing is, how to manage it. I don't care a rush for Sir
John Newark; but I think _you_ will find him difficult to manage. How
will you ever smuggle her out of the house, and up here to the church,
between the hours of eight and twelve?"

"I am afraid," replied Smeaton, "that the church must not be the
place, and the hour somewhat different."

"But, my good Lord, my good Lord," said Parson Thickett, "the canon.
You forget the canon. Canon one hundred and four. Why, I should be
punished, and you might be punished, too, by the act affecting
clandestine marriages."

"Which take place every day notwithstanding," added Smeaton.

"Ay, ay, by Hedge parsons, Mayfair parsons, and Fleet parsons, but not
by a regular Doctor of Divinity. Why, I might be suspended for six
months from the execution of my office, and I am not sure that they
would not touch the temporalities. As for the office, deuce take it. I
don't care much for that. I want a trip to London, and that would give
me a holiday."

"Pray, how much might be the value in money of your loss, if
suspended?" asked Smeaton.

"Why, the matter of well nigh fifty good pounds," replied the parson;
"and that is a mat sum to risk."

"It is," assented the young nobleman; "but there is a way of insuring
you against risk, my reverend friend. Suppose that, the moment you
have concluded the marriage ceremony, I put into your hand this little
rouleau, containing one hundred golden guineas of the late queen. You
would be sure enough then. Moreover, the marriage need not be
published immediately in this country; and, even if it were, I believe
that none but the lady's lawful guardian could move in the business
against you."

"That alters the affair very much," said Thickett, with a very comic
twinkle of his eye. "I think it must be done."

"Good," replied Smeaton. "I see we understand each other. Perhaps you
are not fully aware of all the privileges of your peculiar
jurisdiction; but, at all events, in a case like this, now that the
only real and substantial difficulty is removed--that respecting the
consent of the lady's guardian--you must swallow any other little
technical objections, which probably will never be taken notice of."

"Ah, my Lord, you have a winning way with you," said Doctor Thickett;
"but you have not drunk a drop of your punch." And, with a resigned
sigh, he filled himself another glass to the brim.

The rest of the arrangements were soon made. It was agreed that, on
the following night, about the same hour, the worthy Doctor should
walk down to the village of Ale, and there put himself entirely at
Smeaton's command. The register of Emmeline's birth was then produced
and copied; and, rewarding him well for his small trouble, Smeaton
took himself back to Ale with Van Noost.



CHAPTER XXVI.

Important business came thick and fast upon all the magistrates
of the western counties of England; for, though parties were very
nearly balanced, and the prompt, vigorous, and judicious measures
of the Whigs--somewhat unconstitutional as, perhaps, they were at
times--overawed the Tories or Jacobites, and kept down any open
outbreak, yet positive information was received, if not of a
thoroughly organised and widely extended plot, at least, of an immense
number of smaller and detached conspiracies, which only wanted time
and opportunity to unite and co-operate. Exeter itself was but little
tainted; but in nearly all other parts of Devonshire, in Dorsetshire,
Somersetshire, and Gloucestershire, nightly meetings were held, at
which some of the most influential persons in the county were present,
and the very small body of troops quartered at Exeter were
insufficient to perform the duties cast upon them in the neighbouring
portions of the country.

The arrival of Captain Smallpiece, and the account which he gave--not
a very accurate one--of the surprise of his party and the rescue of
his prisoners, called forth a burst of anger and disappointment from
the more bustling and vehement magistrates, and somewhat alarmed even
the more prudent. Nothing was talked of but sending a larger force to
scour the country and re-capture the young Earl of Eskdale and his
companion, and proclamations were proposed, offering a great reward
for his apprehension. In time, however, the counsels of the more
prudent prevailed. They represented to their brethren that there was
quite sufficient for the troops to do in several other directions;
that, if they sent a large force down into the comparatively wild and
scantily-populated district round Ale and Keanton, more important
parts of the county must be left open for the movements of the
disaffected, and many gentlemen whom it was desirable to secure would
have ample time to escape; while, if but a small force was sent, it
would only provoke a collision with the adverse peasantry, who would
probably gather in great numbers on the first signs of determined
hostility towards them. Captain Smallpiece had stated positively that
the inn had been invaded by between forty and fifty men; and, though
eager to go and take vengeance, he was desirous of having an effective
force with him, and, therefore, laid great stress upon the probability
of the number of opponents being increased.

General C---- made some allowance for exaggeration; but still he
represented to the very zealous justices that it would be much better
to let the effervescence in that quarter subside; and, by securing
every suspected person of influence who could be easily and rapidly
laid hold of, crush rebellion in the bud without any bloodshed.

"Take my word for it," he said, "when these poor misguided fellows
find there is no one to lead or to support them, they will resume
their ordinary occupations; and then, if it be judged necessary, the
leaders can be apprehended and punished. In the meanwhile, this young
Earl will either come in and make submission, or will fly beyond seas
again, and the latter would be no bad thing. You must remember,
gentlemen, you have proceeded somewhat sharply against him, upon
authority the value of which you know best; and, although government
considered it necessary to make sure of all suspected persons, and
render them impotent for evil, yet there is no desire on the part of
his Majesty or his minister, either to cram the jails with prisoners,
or to treat as traitors those not actually apprehended in arms."

These last words, which were taken as a rebuke, created a good deal of
ill-feeling, and roused a pettish spirit of resistance. None of the
magistrates judged fit to interfere with the actual movements of the
troops; but they insisted upon issuing a proclamation, offering a
reward for the apprehension of the Earl of Eskdale; and some
information which reached Exeter during that evening made them plume
themselves mightily upon their sagacity. Four men were sent out, two
in one direction, and two in another, to paste up the proclamations on
the doors of dwelling-houses and farms; and, in their tour round the
country, they obtained intelligence of a strange messenger having
passed across towards Exmouth, and of his having called at the farm of
Blacklands, where he asked particularly if the Earl of Eskdale was at
Keanton, and then inquired the way to Ale Manor, but without going
along the road pointed out. These tidings had scarcely been received
in Exeter, when intelligence came from Exmouth of the appearance of
this strange messenger in the town, of his having held communication
with several disaffected persons, of his selling his horse, which was
completely foundered by hard riding, and of his purchasing another,
with which he rode away over the downs towards Dorsetshire.

On hearing this, General C---- took a pinch of snuff, coolly
remarking--

"Then we shall, probably, soon hear more. He won't get to Colyford
uncaught."

Though he treated the matter lightly, to all appearance, the old
general did not regard the journey of this messenger as at all
unimportant. The persons and the places he visited, proved
sufficiently the object of his coming; and, by his arrest, it was
reasonably supposed that much information as to the feelings and
intentions of many persons might be obtained. The old officer was as
quiet as ever, but very active. He knew and understood well that the
apprehension of a single stranger, a mere bearer of letters and
messages, was a very different and much more simple affair than the
arrest of a nobleman in the midst of a tenantry who bore a feudal, I
might almost say, a clannish, affection to his house. A number of
couriers, armed, but in a civil garb, went forth from Exeter that
evening. They were not unsuccessful. The stranger was met with, just
crossing the border into Dorsetshire, by one of those sent to seek
him. He was a stout fellow, and armed; and the courier bespoke him
quietly. The stranger, however, was very uncommunicative, and showed
himself desirous of getting rid of all company; but the other pursued
him closely, and never left him till he could obtain assistance for
his apprehension. He was then immediately seized and conveyed to
Exeter, where, upon being searched, a great number of letters were
found upon his person, many of them in hands well known in the county,
and all of them bearing one peculiar address; namely--"To the General
commanding-in-chief for his Majesty." They were all broken open and
read without ceremony; and the man himself was then subjected to a
long examination, which revealed a great deal more, and gave point to
all the ambiguous expressions contained in the letters.

A change now took place in all the proceedings of the authorities at
Exeter. Persons, whose apprehension had been before a great object,
were now left to escape, or to act as they pleased, and immediate
measures were adopted against individuals who had been hitherto
neglected or unsuspected. Troops were called in from different
quarters, and marched in the most opposite directions; and many of the
good quidnuncs of the capital, when they heard of these movements
without understanding their causes, blamed severely the vacillating
conduct of the people at Exeter, and prognosticated a general rising
in the west.

For a dull chapter, this is long enough. The consequences of all these
proceedings will be seen; and, in the mean time, we will go to matters
of more individual interest.



CHAPTER XXVII.

It blew a gale of wind right up the long valley between Ale harbour
and Aleton. The night was dark and cloudy. The sky, if not constantly
covered with black vapours, was so frequently shrouded by them as only
to allow the momentary gleam of a star. On, on, the clouds hurried
confusedly over the firmament, like the thoughts of the human mind in
a moment of sudden perplexity.

A stout man, well lined within and well cased without, battled
sturdily with the blast as he walked down the valley. Many impediments
did he meet with; his cravat was nearly torn from his neck; his long
black garments fluttered like streamers in the wind; and, more than
once, his three-cornered hat was blown off and sent hurrying away
along the road. At length, after having caught it for the third time,
with a some what ungodly oath, he tied it tightly upon his head with a
pocket-handkerchief, and pursued his way in greater security. He was
often half strangled, it is true; still he had not now, as before, to
double the distance by the constant pursuit of his hat. Puffing and
snorting, and venting many a malediction on those who had brought him
such a journey on such a night, he made his way forward, supported by
the thought of a hundred guineas as the reward of all his toils. About
a mile from Aleton, he passed a man upon the road, who seemed to know
him, for he said, "Good night, Master Parson," and walked on; but, at
the entrance of the hamlet, he was encountered by our good friend, Van
Noost, who whispered--

"Is not this an unlucky night?"

"Ay, by Jove!" answered Parson Thickett. "I wonder what people are
thinking of, to choose such nights for being married on."

"They must think less who go to sea on such a night," said Van Noost.
"I would not, for all the world. I would rather stay on shore and have
my head cut off."

The parson only laughed, and, walking on, they were soon at Grayling's
cottage-door, which readily opened to admit them. The doctor was
easily consoled for his long walk on that stormy night, for comforting
appliances were within Grayling's cottage, and Smeaton took care that
he should be well supplied. The old fisherman himself was in a
somewhat grumbling and surly mood, and more than once went out, stayed
a few minutes, and returned. Poor Van Noost sat by the fire-side, with
his eyes fixed upon the flame, unable to cheer himself, even by the
strong waters. From time to time he lifted his ear and listened, as
the leaden casements of the cottage rattled and shook in the blast
which came rushing up the stream, and though to the children he was
good-humoured and kindly as ever, it was evidently with a painful
effort that the little statuary forced himself to notice them.

Smeaton, too, was grave and thoughtful. The idea of exposing Emmeline,
in a night like that, to the fury of the stirred-up ocean in an open
boat, was one that he could not entertain. Had he been alone, with any
purpose to accomplish, he would not have hesitated for a moment; but
we often feel fears for others which we know not for ourselves; and,
even if he could have sheltered her from the cold blast and the
dashing spray, he would not have risked a life so precious to him upon
that tempestuous sea. Still, the thought of delaying their departure,
even for a few hours, was very grievous to him. He knew right well how
much may intervene between the cup and the lip. He had a sort of
anxious dread about the morrow, and he hoped, and half persuaded
himself, that the wind would go down as the night advanced.

Towards ten o'clock, however, old Graying returned after a short
absence, bringing his nephew and another man with him.

"It is no use, my lord," said the younger Grayling. "The Ale is
getting heavier every minute, and it is so dirty in the wind's eye,
that there is no chance of a lull before noon to-morrow. As to getting
off to-night, that you cannot do. We might get a boat out of the bay,
indeed; but she would not live five minutes off the head. I have
seldom seen such a sea running as there is now on the Cobstone; for
you see, my lord, the wind being south-western by south----"

But Smeaton interrupted him, saying--

"I will take your opinion, my good friend. There is no use in
explaining; I should not understand you if you did. For my own life I
should not care; but, where others are concerned, I must be more
cautious."

"We don't care much for our own lives either, my lord," said the
fisherman; "but I think you would find it a hard matter to get any one
to go off with you to-night, especially if there is to be a lady in
the boat."

"Then I suppose I shall have to come down to-morrow?" whispered Parson
Thickett to the young nobleman, near whom he was sitting.

"No, no, my reverend friend," replied Smeaton. "Your office can be
performed in a hurricane as well as in the calmest weather; and, in a
few minutes, we will go to the place where your assistance will be
necessary. We must, however, have the cottage clear first, and obtain
intelligence that all is safe."

"Ay, ay," added the parson. "Make sure of that."

After staying a few minutes, conversing with his uncle, the younger
Grayling went away with the other man who had accompanied him; and,
soon after, the children were sent to their beds. Smeaton looked
anxiously at his watch; and then, gazing out at the door, he said--

"I think my servant is coming now."

But he was disappointed. A man arrived who was a bearer of what, to
Smeaton, was bad news. The new comer was a stout peasant, of a
somewhat superior class, who looked round, shook hands with old
Grayling and his wife, whom he called uncle and aunt, and then,
doffing his hat, advanced to the young nobleman, and presented him a
letter.

"That, my lord, is from Farmer Thompson, my cousin," he said. "I
undertook to bring it over; for we find that some of our people are
not to be trusted."

Smeaton broke open the letter, and read the contents with an anxious
eye, and a look of considerable emotion.

"What is all this?" he said, at length. "I do not understand it."

"Why, it is all true, my lord," replied the young man, bending down
his head, and speaking in a whisper. "I saw it, and read it myself,
posted upon the very walls of Keanton, setting a price upon your
lordship's head, with the royal arms at the top, and 'God save the
King' at the bottom. It made all the good men amongst us quite mad."

"It is not _that_ I am speaking of at all, my good friend." returned
Smeaton. "The proclamation here mentioned, perhaps, might be expected;
though, I must say, such proceedings, after the assurances I have
received, are by no means right and justifiable. But what I allude to,
are these latter words." And, holding the paper to the light, he read:


"According to your lordship's orders, I have sounded the tenantry, and
find almost every man under forty ready to obey you in all things.
Some of them, however, have not arms. But about twenty are fully
prepared, and will be ready to mount at a moment's notice as soon as
your lordship arrives. The rest can follow you by one or two at a
time, in a day or so, as soon as the arms come from Exmouth."


He ceased reading, and looked in the young man's face, as if for
explanation.

"Well, my lord," said the other, "I don't understand you."

"Nor I this intelligence," added Smeaton. "I sent no orders to sound
the tenantry, or to levy men."

"Such orders certainly came, my lord," replied the young man; "not by
your own servant, but by another person, who seemed to know all about
you."

"This is some base fraud," said Smeaton, musing. "However, my good
friend, stop and refresh yourself for a little, while I write a letter
to your cousin. Tell him that I thank him for his zeal, but that
nothing could be farther from my thoughts than to authorise any
raising or arming of the tenantry. I hope, however, this has been done
so cautiously as not to call the attention of the magistrates upon
you."

"We all met on horseback," said the young man, with a laugh, and a
shrug of his shoulders, "upon the green before the great gates; but I
don't know that any one saw us."

Smeaton thought gravely, and then replied--

"If it be possible, I will ride over before daybreak to-morrow. Stay,
I will write."

Going hastily up to his room above, he wrote a few words in the same
sense as those he had just uttered; and, on descending, found the
young man quite ready to depart. Parson Thickett, too, was becoming
impatient to return to his own dwelling, for it was now past eleven
o'clock; and, with a long bleak walk before him, he did not at all
relish delay. Smeaton was evidently no less anxious; but still a
quarter of an hour elapsed before the man Higham appeared. At the end
of that time, however, he entered the cottage, with his gay saucy
look, expecting, probably, to find no one except the old fisherman in
the lower room; but, as soon as he saw his lord, he said,
respectfully--

"They are all gone to bed, my lord, and I dare say will soon be in a
comfortable doze; for Sir John and half the servants have ridden hard
to-day, and the rest have drunk hard, which comes to much the same
thing."

"Now then, my reverend friend," said Smeaton, rising, "we will go, if
you please. Van Noost, you must come with us. Higham, go on before to
within a yard or two of the place where the small path quits the
carriage road to the house. There stop, and make sure that no one
comes that way without our having notice by some means."

"I understand," replied the man. "Wrangle, quarrel, talk loud,
whistle, shout, or something! I understand. I'll manage it, my lord."

Thus saying, he walked out of the cottage, and Smeaton and the
reverend doctor followed.

The young nobleman led his companion round between the two next
cottages, desiring Van Noost to go a little in advance, and then said,
in a low tone--"There is one question I wish to ask you, Doctor
Thickett, which is this:--The marriage you are about to celebrate will
be a good and perfect marriage, notwithstanding some slight
informalities--is it not so?"

"Just, just," replied the parson. "They may suspend _me_; but they
cannot unmarry _you_. They may punish you by the statute for a
clandestine marriage; but they cannot make the marriage of no effect.
Marriage is like a good thrashing; when once inflicted, it cannot be
got rid of."

"And now, my good friend," pursued Smeaton, pausing, "you must suffer
me, I believe, to tie a handkerchief over your eyes."

"Pooh, pooh! what Is the use of that?" exclaimed the doctor, laughing.
"I know where you are taking me, just as well as you do. I would not
have gone so quietly if I had thought you were taking me into the
lion's den except by a back way. Why, the priest's chamber, and the
way in and out, has been a tradition at the rectory ever since those
puritanical times when many an honest parson was forced to take refuge
from skull-cap and Geneva, broadsword and bandolier. There used to be
a key up at the church; but, by Jove, my predecessor was fool enough
to give it to Sir John. How you got in, I cannot make out."

Smeaton did not think it necessary to explain, but led the parson on,
and found Van Noost at the well with the door open. Doctor Thickett
was, with some difficulty, got across the water; and then, when the
door was closed, a match was kindled and a lamp lighted.

"Now tread cautiously," said Smeaton, leading the way, with the light
in his hand.

When they entered the priest's room, however, it was still vacant;
and, trusting to the promises he had received, the young nobleman did
not venture to proceed any farther.

"This has been a chapel once, I think," observed Doctor Thickett,
looking round the room. "Some notice of it is in the books up at the
church. There," added he, pointing to one of the sides, "is where the
communion-table must have stood."

Smeaton held up his finger to enjoin silence; and, in a minute or two
after, a slight sound was heard at the extremity of the room adjoining
the next chamber. Cautiously, and as noiselessly as possible, the
state bed in the other room was drawn back, and the door which it
concealed was opened. All eyes were turned to that side, and there was
certainly some emotion, if not some anxiety, in the breast of each.
The light shone, however, upon the figure of the old housekeeper, who
advanced quietly, holding Emmeline by the hand. The poor girl trembled
a good deal, with agitation rather than fear, and her face was very
pale. But Smeaton advanced at once, and took her hand, whispering some
low tender words, which instantly called her eyes to his face, and the
warm glow into her cheek again.

Mrs. Culpepper had stopped the moment they were in the room; and now,
looking anxiously in her foster-son's face, she whispered--"What an
awful night it is, my lord! Everything is ready; but--"

"It is quite impossible," interrupted Smeaton, "to expose this dear
girl on the sea in such a tempest; still, as this worthy clergyman has
come here to perform the ceremony, the marriage had better take place
to-night; and, before to-morrow, I trust the wind will have gone down.
What say you, dearest Emmeline?"

"Oh, certainly," replied Emmeline. "I shall feel more
happy--more--more certain of what I am doing, and what is right to do,
when I am your wife, than I do now. Besides, new difficulties might
spring up."

"You are right, dear young lady, you are right," said Mrs. Culpepper.
"Once wedded to him, wherever he may find you, he has a right to claim
you; and, against whatever wrong is done you, he has a right to
protect you. Besides, he is bound to take care of himself for your
sake."

The young nobleman smiled, with a glad and happy look at his beautiful
bride, and then led her on towards the spot where Doctor Thickett and
Van Noost were standing.

The stout priest would fain have said something jocose; but Emmeline's
timid look, and Smeaton's dignified bearing, at the moment restrained
him, and he contented himself with asking--"This is all with your
consent and full consideration, Mistress Emmeline?"

"Entirely," she replied, without raising her eyes to the face of the
clergyman, which she knew right well, and did not much like.

"Well then, we have nothing to do but to begin," said Doctor Thickett;
and, opening the book, he read the service for the celebration of
marriage from beginning to end, without sparing them one word of it;
and, when he had finished, he added, "Well, that is done and tight.
They cannot untie that knot, let them tug as they will."

"Thank God!" exclaimed Smeaton, pressing, Emmeline's hand in his own.
"But we must each have some proof that this dear knot is tied, Doctor
Thickett."

"Wall, I will register it as soon as I get home," said the priest. "I
could not bring the great lumbering book with me."

"Doubtless," assented the young Earl; "but, if you please, we will
each have a certificate under your hand, and those of the witnesses
present, that the marriage has taken place. Van Noost, you have an
inkhorn with you, I think."

"Everything ready, everything ready," cried Van Noost. "Here is ink,
and pen, and paper, and a table. So now, Doctor, write away."

"Ah, well. I came to read, not to write; but I may as well do it,"
said the parson, sitting down to the table, and beginning to scrawl in
a large but crabbed hand. "There, my lord, that is for you. There, my
lady, that is for you. And now, this is my first fee and reward, by
immemorial privilege," he added, pressing his great lips upon
Emmeline's cheek.

She shrunk from him, unable to resist her sensation of dislike; but he
only laughed, and, turning to Smeaton, received from him the full
reward which had been promised. "And now," he said, aloud, "I had
better take myself home. My part of the affair is over."

"Show him the way, Van Noost," said Smeaton. "I will join you at
Grayling's cottage very shortly."

The statuary was prompt to obey, and led the fat parson forth, taking.
Mrs. Culpepper's candle to light them.

Emmeline had borne up well; she had replied clearly and distinctly
when taking upon her the irrevocable vows which bound her to the man
she loved; but it must not be supposed she had undergone no deep
emotions. Every thrilling sensation had been felt; every
wide-extending association had presented itself; all the hopes, all
the anxieties, all the bright dreams, all the shadowy forebodings, all
the realities, all the imaginings, which attend the pledging of a
young and innocent heart to the one loved and trusted, had hurried
through her bosom and her brain in those few brief minutes. Yet she
had borne up; she had seemed calm after her first entrance into the
room. Love, and strong resolution, had given her power to conquer all
agitation, till the words were spoken, the vow was uttered, and she
was his for ever. Then, however, the mingled emotions rushed back upon
her, together with the overpowering feeling that the great change was
accomplished; that she was not her own, but his; that her fate was no
longer lonely; that she was one with him she loved; and, had it not
been for the arm which glided round her, she would have sunk to the
ground where she stood.

The old housekeeper left them, to watch, in the passage, though she
had little fear of any interruption; and, to Emmeline and her young
husband, it seemed but a moment, though an hour had passed when she
again appeared, with a face of some anxiety and alarm.

"I hear horses' feet, my lord," she said. "Quick! You had better speed
away. I know not what it may be; but it is strange at this hour of
night. Some one will soon be up; for the sounds are on the road near
the house. Quick, my lord, quick! Away!"

"Hark, hark!" cried Emmeline. "There are people speaking loud and
angrily. Oh, Henry, go, go, for Heaven's sake!"

A brief moment given to thought--one more embrace--and Smeaton was
gone. Emmeline followed the old housekeeper out of the room; and the
secret entrance was closed as noiselessly as possible. The fair girl,
the bride, the wife, retired to her own solitary chamber, while the
lover and the husband took his way to his place of refuge.

When were they to meet again? Who can ever say who asks himself that
question when parting from another?



CHAPTER XXVIII.

Sleep was not destined that night to visit the eyes of the young Earl
of Eskdale. He made his way through the passages to the stone door
near the well--opened it cautiously, and looked around. Nobody was to
be seen; and the sounds which had alarmed them above had ceased.
Closing the door and locking it, he hastened back to the cottage of
Grayling, seated himself with the old man, who was still up by the
fire, and inquired whether he had heard any noise. But the sounds had
not reached the hamlet; and, after waiting half an hour, the old man
went out to seek intelligence. When he returned, he brought the
servant, Thomas Higham, with him, whose explanation was so far
satisfactory, that it showed Smeaton, or, at least, led him to
believe, that no fresh peril was to be apprehended for the time. The
high words which had been heard by the lover and his fair bride had
passed between the servant and a messenger from Exeter, and were
provoked by Higham himself, in order to give early intimation to his
master that the household was likely soon to be disturbed.

"You see, my Lord," he said, "the truth is, Sir John rode a great part
of the way to Exeter this morning, having been summoned thither, I
dare say, upon your affairs. But he would not go the whole way,
because he had required that assurance should be given him on the
road, that his house should not be taken possession of during his
absence; and no messenger met him. The fellow says he was detained,
and could not come on till to-night. I dare say, he got drunk and
forgot all about it; but I picked a quarrel with him in order to let
you hear."

"Then it was merely the messenger with whom you were speaking?" said
Smeaton. "Do you know what reply he brought to Sir John?"

"Oh, yes!" answered Higham. "I got that out of him in his passion. He
said we were all insolent alike, Sir John and his servants (one of
whom he took me to be); and that the magistrates at Exeter would give
no such assurances to anybody, till Sir John had explained his
conduct."

"Is he gone?" demanded his master.

"Oh, yes, my Lord," replied Higham. "I kept hiding in the wood till I
heard him trotting back again; and then I was just coming hither, when
I met old Stockfish here."

"Then I will ride over at once to Keanton," said Smeaton, "if you can
get me your horse out of the stable."

"Why, it is only the pack-horse, my Lord," replied Higham; "and though
it is as strong as a lion, it is as slow as a bear."

"It matters not," replied his master. "It would take too long to get
either of the others from the farm. Bring it down to the end of the
hamlet as speedily as possible, and then remain here till I come back,
in order that they may think you are riding it yourself."

The man sped away; the horse was soon brought; and, about two in the
morning, Smeaton was on his road towards Keanton. On his arrival, he
found that, though most persons in the little village were asleep, two
Or three of the principal farmers were congregated at the house of
Thompson, waiting for his arrival. He was received with every sort of
respect; but, nevertheless, there was a somewhat gloomy and
dissatisfied look about the men, which gave him some key to their
feelings. They said that the message they had received in his name had
so completely misled them, that every preparation had been made for
taking up arms, and without much secresy or disguise.

"If we stand hesitating, my Lord," said one of the men, boldly, "the
people of Exeter, who have had spies amongst us, won't fail to be down
upon us when we least expect them; and then we shall be marched away
to prison. Nobody doubted, my Lord, that the order came from you; for
the only thing that surprised us was, that you had not given it long
before. We are, every one of us, willing to shed our blood for our
right King, under the command of your Lordship, whose good father was
ever ready to draw the sword in a just cause; but we should not like
to spend the rest of our lives in jail without striking a blow, right
or wrong."

Smeaton was a good deal mortified, for there was but little time to
give long explanations as to his motives, or to show the worthy men
around him how hopeless was the course they were inclined to pursue.
He told them, however, briefly but clearly, that he credited in no
degree the assertion, so frequently made by the Jacobite party, that
the majority of the people of England were anxious for the return of
the Stuarts. He had convinced himself, he said, that such was not the
case; and he added, what seemed to surprise them very much, that he
thought the people of any country had a right to some voice in the
disposal of the crown. It must be remembered that the divine right of
kings had at that period been rarely questioned; that where, as in the
case of England, it had not only been questioned but set aside, the
new doctrine of the people's rights had only made way with one party;
and that that party had shown themselves so far doubtful of their own
position as to choose for their sovereign a member of the same family
whose head they had repudiated. The men to whom Smeaton spoke had been
bred up under his ancestors, with the notion of this divine right
inculcated upon them from infancy, almost as a part of their religion;
and it is not, therefore, to be wondered at that they marvelled
exceedingly to hear their young lord pronounce doctrines which to them
seemed little less than treasonable. They could comprehend his
arguments much better, however, when he went on to explain to them
that the chances of an insurrection even in the north of Great Britain
being successful were exceedingly small at that time; and that no
chance whatever existed of a rising in the west of England prospering
for above a day. He showed them that, from the information they
themselves possessed, it was clear that all the principal leaders of
the Jacobite party in Devonshire and Somersetshire had been secured,
by orders of the government; and that no force could be raised
sufficient to resist the troops which were ready to act against the
Pretender.

"Yes, my lord," replied the farmer who had before spoken; "but we
might make our way across the country, to help our friends in the
north; and that _I_ shall do, for one, now I have made up my mind."

The man spoke in a dogged and determined tone; and several others who
were present, though they said little, seemed much inclined to follow
his example. The time thus ran on for about an hour in fruitless
discussion; and then it became necessary for the young nobleman to
return to his place of refuge. He could, therefore, only entreat those
by whom he was surrounded to pause and consider well before they acted
upon a resolution which might hurry them into dangers they had not yet
fully calculated.

With this advice he left them; and, according to custom on such
occasions, his conduct became the subject of much comment after he was
gone. Some blamed him as a waverer; some of the more rash affected to
doubt his courage; and others marvelled at what could possess him;
when some one, in a jocular manner, alluded to the pretty lady at Ale
Manor as the probable cause of their lord's hesitation and reluctance.
As usual, when any likely solution of a difficult question is
suggested, every one seized on the idea thus started; poor Emmeline
was looked upon as a sort of Cleopatra who kept their Marc Antony in
the toils of love; and the good farmers set themselves seriously to
consider whether no means existed of forcibly withdrawing their young
lord from this entanglement.

In the meanwhile, Smeaton rode back towards Ale; but, as always
happens when speed is required, more than one impediment came in his
way. It was still blowing hard, although the gale was somewhat more
moderate; and the young nobleman's horse laboured and panted up the
hills as if his lungs were unsound. This, however, would only have
produced a delay of about a quarter of an hour; but a much more
serious obstacle soon presented itself. The beast cast a shoe; no
means of replacing it were near at hand; and it was impossible to
proceed with anything like speed.

Embarrassed and annoyed, the young nobleman nevertheless pursued his
way, though day dawned and the sun rose when he was fully six miles
from the village of Ale. Two courses were before him: either to ride
on boldly and risk a meeting with those whom he wished to avoid, or to
hide in some of the hollows of the hills till night fell, taking his
chance of obtaining food from the shepherds or herdsmen who fed their
cattle on the downs. But a feeling of recklessness had come over him,
proceeding not alone from the conversation which had just passed, but
also from a perception of the manifold dangers of his position and of
the difficult situation in which he was placed; and he had determined
to go forward at all hazards, when he perceived some one on foot,
apparently watching him from the summit of one of the neighbouring
hills. As soon as the man got sight of Smeaton riding below, he ran
down towards him as fast as possible; and the young Earl conjectured
that there was an intention of cutting him off on the road towards
Ale.

"I can deal with one at least," he thought, and pushed on somewhat
more rapidly, although his horse now went very lamely.

But the person on the hill ran fast, and cut him off at a turning in
the path he was pursuing, when, to Smeaton's surprise, he beheld the
face and figure of his servant, Higham, who, holding up his hand to
prevent his farther advance, besought him not to ride on, on any
account.

"You cannot get to the village, my Lord, but by passing round the
Manor house, and it is in possession of the soldiers from Exeter. They
have taken Sir John out of his bed this morning, and intend to carry
him away to Exeter, a prisoner. He talks very high, but looks low, and
so I thought I might as well run on to tell you, and keep myself out
of harm's way."

"Sir John Newark!" exclaimed Smeaton, in utter amazement; for the
character of the knight was in no degree a secret to him,
notwithstanding all the pains taken to conceal his real views and
objects. "Are you sure, Higham, that I am not the real object of the
search, and that Sir John is not arrested either from his having
hidden me in his house so long, or as a sort of security for my
discovery?"

"Lord bless you, no, my Lord!" replied Higham. "Sir John Newark is
lagged for Sir John Newark's own doings. He has played fast and loose
with every government for many a long year, and has won a precious
deal by the game--at least, so the people here say. He has made people
in London fancy he is much more powerful in Devonshire than he is; and
so, whenever he wanted anything, he made a show of going over to the
other party, and got what he required. Now, if he wanted Keanton, for
instance, and thought that the Whigs were likely to win the day, he
would become very high church indeed, and pretend to be plotting with
your Lordship just to be bribed to give it up and betray you. But such
a man is caught out in the end. He cannot carry on such a game without
making some mistake, and the magistrates here are desperate sharp. I
was in the house when the soldiers came, and it oozed out amongst them
that Sir John was charged upon some letter found on a messenger, in
which he had gone a little too far. As to seeking for your Lordship,
they never asked for you at all; and, though they got possession of
the house quietly enough, they knew better than to go into the village
to make any search. They would have been thrashed out soon enough. All
they wanted was Sir John, and him they have caught and put in a bag.
But nevertheless, I think it would be better for you to keep out of
the way till the men are gone and have taken their prisoner with them;
for there is a great chance, if they found you, that they would bag
you too. As soon as they are gone, you have got the game in your own
hands; for there will be nobody at Ale to stop your doing what you
like, and I can go and watch from the top of Ale Head to see when they
pass up the road."

The words of Higham were like the voice of Hope, promising bright
things which might, or might not, be performed; but if a doubt
previously existed in the mind of Smeaton, as to whether he should or
should not go forward, it was at once removed. To try to make his way
into Ale, so long as the soldiery were at the Manor House, would have
been madness; and, consequently, choosing his course at once, he
determined to retreat a little way into the hollows, and to send the
man up to the high ground above Ale Head, whence a considerable
portion of the road the soldiers were obliged to travel was visible.
He accordingly sought out a spot whence he could keep his eye upon his
servant, whilst Higham watched the road, and arranged with his master
a sort of code of signals for the purpose of communicating what his
observations discovered from the height, without obliging the Earl to
descend. But the man had not been more than ten minutes at the highest
point of the coast when, by stretching out his right arm in the same
direction as the road to Exeter, he indicated that the guard and their
prisoner had set out.

Waiting a few minutes, to give time for their passing out of sight,
the young nobleman moved his horse slowly forward, choosing the soft
turf to ride over as the best for his horse's unshod feet; but, the
moment he altered his position, Higham ran down again to meet him, and
informed him that it would be better to wait a little; for, though the
greater number of the soldiers were out of sight, yet two were far in
the rear of the rest, and might recall the others in a moment.

"Sir John is determined to take it at his ease," added the man; "for
he has got his great coach and six horses, with a servant on horseback
at each wheel. It looks, for all the world, like the Lord Mayor's
coach, and goes as slow; but, at all events, it will serve his
purpose, and both make him comfortable in the inside, and delay the
people who have him in custody."

"Then, do you think he meditates escape?" asked the young Earl.

"That is as it may be, my lord," replied Higham. "If he hopes for any
one to help him, he is quite mistaken; for the fishermen would not
stir a finger for him, and the peasantry do not like him much better,
as far as I can hear. He is a sorry fellow, and a proud one, and won't
find many friends in the world; but, perhaps, he thinks to get off by
some trick, and then, if he does join the prince's army, he will have
taken the first strong resolution he ever did in his life--but he
won't do that. He will hold fast by the ruling power in the end,
depend upon it; for Sir John is his own sovereign, and nobody is so
despotic with him as his own interest."

Smeaton mused awhile, and then moved slowly forward again, sending his
servant a little in advance to see that the country was clear. No
obstacle, however, presented itself. The cavalcade was out of sight;
the grounds round Ale Manor were perfectly solitary, and not even a
herd or a labourer was to be seen. Dismounting from his horse, where
the road to the Manor House turned into the wood, the young Earl
descended on foot to the village, from which a sound of loud talking
came up the side of the hill. He found the greater part of the people
of the place--men, women, and even children--assembled in one of the
little gardens which, fenced with large flat stones, lay here and
there between the cottages. All seemed in a state of great excitement;
but it was evidently not excitement of an angry character; for some
laughed, while others talked loud, though in no very sad tone.

As soon as Smeaton was seen advancing, by those on the outside of the
little crowd, one stout fellow waved his hat and cried, "Hurrah!" and
congratulations poured thick upon him as he advanced amongst them.

"Ay, my Lord, we were in a bit of a fright about you," said old
Grayling, grasping his hand unceremoniously in his great, broad, hard
fist; "but not much either, for we sent out people to see that they
did not get hold of you."

"Perhaps, he does not know that the soldiers have been here, uncle,"
said the younger Grayling.

"No, not here, Dick, not here," said the stout old man. "They dared
not put their noses in here, if they had been five times their number.
Up at the house they might do what they liked. That was no business of
ours. But they are gone now, and have a long march to Exeter. So that
all is safe for a day or two."

"Then I suppose I can safely go up to the house," said the young
nobleman. "I wish to hear the particulars of all this business."

"Ay, safe enough," replied the old man, with a meaning laugh; "safer,
I fancy, than when you lived there quite at your ease, my lord. A bad
friend is worse than a bad enemy."

"But won't you have something to eat, sir?" inquired Dame Grayling.
"I'll get you something in a minute."

Smeaton, however, declined, and turned his steps by the shortest path
towards the house, thinking, with joy, it must be acknowledged, of the
removal of many obstacles in his way by the arrest of Sir John Newark.
Bitterly was he destined to be disappointed, as is often the case when
we suffer our hopes to be elated without a full knowledge of the
circumstances. He found everything quiet and tranquil about the house,
though he could hear some of the servants, as he approached, talking
together in the stable-court, and his eye ran over the windows, to see
if Emmeline was at any of them. Nobody, however was visible, and he
lifted the latch of the great door, to go in as usual. But the door
was locked, and he had to ring the bell and wait several minutes
before he gained admission. The servant, who appeared at length, was
one of the younger men; and, putting on a rueful aspect, with perhaps
a touch of hypocrisy, he was proceeding to inform the young nobleman
of the sad event which had occurred, when Mrs. Culpepper herself
glided into the hall, saying, with a low curtsey--

"If you will walk into the saloon, my lord, I will tell you all about
it."

Smeaton followed her, with some anxiety, for there was an ominous
gloom upon her face, which he did not think the mere arrest of Sir
John Newark was likely to produce.

"You have heard what has happened!" she said, immediately the door was
closed.

"That Sir John Newark has been made prisoner, and sent to Exeter,"
replied Smeaton.

"To London--to London," returned Mrs. Culpepper. "He will not even be
examined at Exeter, they say, but be sent off to Newgate or the Tower
at once. He has long been playing double with them, and now they have
found, upon a courier, a letter of his to the Earl of Mar, which, by
the explanations of the messenger, they make out to be full of
treason. But that is not the worst of it. He has taken the Lady
Emmeline with him, whether she would or not. We knew not what to
do--whether boldly to tell of her marriage, or still to keep it
secret. To say that she was married to you would have been to make
matters worse, and now, I will own, I am at my wits' end."

This was a terrible blow to Smeaton; one, indeed, on which he had
never calculated, and difficulties presented themselves in all ways.
If he lingered in that part of the country till tidings were obtained
from London, he was sure to be taken, and probably kept a prisoner at
Exeter; while, on the other hand, the intelligence he had received
from the fishermen had shown him that every road between Devonshire
and the capital was strictly watched and guarded; so that it was next
to impossible for him to pass in that direction without discovery.
Still, however, his mind was turned towards making the attempt at
least, and the only consideration was, how to do so in safety. He
could devise no means; but good Mrs. Culpepper came to his aid with a
plan which seemed feasible.

"To try and get over the whole distance by land," she said, "is
hopeless; but the boatmen will easily take you round, and land you on
some quiet part of the coast near Abbotsbury or Weymouth, whence you
can easily get to London under another name, and I don't know that
London is not as good a hiding-place as any in the land."

Smeaton's inclinations led him that way. Hope, too, unextinguishable
Hope, was busy in his breast, telling him that in the capital much
could be done which he would vainly attempt to do by letter. He would
see Lord Stair, he thought; he would cast himself upon his honour,
upon his generosity. He would explain his own conduct, and recall to
that nobleman the assurances he had given him not long before. Then,
when freed from the perils which now surrounded him, he could, with
safety to her and to himself, claim his beautiful bride, and set at
defiance the arts of open enemies or pretended friends.

"I will set out at once," he said, after having given a few minutes to
thought. "Yours is the best plan, my dear Nanny; and I will lose no
time in executing it. I have at least one good friend in London, who
has the will and the power to see justice done me."

"Pray take some refreshment before you go," said the housekeeper, in
the tone of old affection. "You have turned pale with all these bad
news, and look harassed and grieved."

"Well indeed may I, Nanny," replied the young Earl, laying his hand
kindly on her arm. "Were there nothing else, surely the loss of my
dear Emmeline, within ten short hours after she became mine, is enough
both to grieve and agitate me. But I need no refreshment, and shall
not be content till I am on my way."

"Nay, but stay a little," said the old housekeeper. "I can send down
and order the boat directly, while you take some food, and besides,
Richard, I am sure, will be glad to go with you as soon as he comes
back."

"Has he not gone with his father!" exclaimed Smeaton, in great
surprise.

"Oh, no, my lord," replied the housekeeper. "He was not here at the
time. He has not been in the house since five o'clock this morning,
when he rode away on one of his wild expeditions. We all thought he
had gone to seek you at Keanton."

"I did not meet with him," said Smeaton; "but doubtless he will be
glad to follow his father; and, though his presence may be some
embarrassment to me, yet, poor boy, it is well that he should go with
me."

"Better tell him all, my lord," observed Mrs. Culpepper. "You may
trust his word if he promises secresy; for, though a little twisted by
one thing or another, God gave him good wits at the first, and a good
heart too. Hark! That must be his horse. Yes, he is calling for a
groom. He must have heard what has happened; for that is not his usual
way of speaking. Stay:--I will get you both some food and wine. He
will want it as much as you."

She had hardly left the room when Richard Newark entered it; his
manner of speech and bearing were wholly, almost miraculously,
changed, as, with a heated face and eyes full of wild light, he
exclaimed, "Ah, you have heard the tidings, Eskdale! They have taken
away my father, which was what I always expected, and Emmeline too,
which, I did _not_ expect; for she meddled with nothing, and he
meddled with everything. Now, what do you intend to do? I know what
_I_ intend to do, if the chain and collar will let me."

"I propose," replied Smeaton, "to take boat at once, land somewhere
near Weymouth where we are not known, and thence make our journey to
London under fictitious names. I take it for granted that you are
anxious to follow your father; and, if you like to accompany me, I
shall be glad, although there is no need of your doing so; for
doubtless you would be permitted to pass unquestioned. As for me, the
plan I propose offers the only chance of my being able to reach the
capital except as a prisoner. But you must decide at once, Richard."

"What do you want in the capital?" asked. Richard Newark. "What have
you to do in that great ugly mixture of dirt, brick houses, and coal
smoke?"

"I have much business, and important business, there," answered
Smeaton. "Lord Stair pledged his word to me that I should remain safe
and unquestioned in this country for a time, if I meddled in no degree
with politics. I have not done so, and yet you know how I have been
treated."

Richard Newark laughed, and shook his head with a thoughtful and
abstracted air. "I must not say what I would fain say," he
remarked--"no, no, I must not. It is very odd that one's fate is so
often managed for one! You have been played upon, Smeaton."

"At all events," replied Smeaton, "I have written two letters to Lord
Stair, to neither of which I have received an answer. He is a man of
honour and a gentleman, who will not deny his plighted word; and I
must go to London to claim its fulfilment."

"There are two reasons why you must not," said Richard, "and good ones
too, whatever you may think. First, you can't; and, secondly, there
would be no good in going if you could. Listen to me, listen to me. A
ship of war is lying off the mouth of the bay, sent down, as I learn,
to watch the coast and search every boat. That is for the 'can't.' Now
for the 'good of going.' Lord Stair is not in London. He is in command
of the troops in Scotland; and, if you want him, noble Lord, you must
go north." Then, opening the door, he shouted, "Where is the Flying
Post that came yesterday? It was in this room last night."

In answer to his call, a servant brought him one of the newspapers of
the day, where, amongst other brief and uncommented announcements,
appeared a paragraph, stating that the Earl of Stair had set out on
the morning preceding to take command of the troops in Scotland, and
keep the rebels in check till a larger army could be assembled to
chastise them.

Smeaton looked at the date of the paper, which, as it had come by an
express courier, was very recent.

"If I set out at once," he said, "I may, by hard riding, catch him in
Yorkshire or Northumberland. It states here that he will be in York on
Monday next--somewhat slow travelling in a business of such
importance; but doubtless he has reinforcements with him. I will get
my horses in, and ride off at once."

"I will be one with you," added Richard Newark; "for I am travelling
north too."

"Will you not go to join your father?" asked the young Earl, in much
surprise.

"Not I," replied the lad. "I could give him no help; and he would not
have it if I could. My father is quite sufficient for himself, noble
Lord--at least, he thinks so, and he never thanks any one for meddling
with his affairs, though he meddles with other people's often enough,
whether they thank him or not. But now let us get ready. I do not know
whether these people have carried off your baggage or not. Mine will
be soon trussed. Heaven send me occasion to use the sword you gave me!
But you had better go to Keanton first, and take people enough to
force the way, in case Hanover and Pulteney should try to stop you. If
you don't go there, your people, I can tell you, will set out by
themselves, and perhaps do more than you like or think of. I was there
half an hour after you this morning, and how I missed you I do not
know."

For a minute or two Smeaton did not reply, but remained in deep
thought.

"So be it," he said at length. "Come down, Richard, and join me at the
end of the village as soon as you are ready. I must send for my
horses, and, in the mean time, will bid my servant pack up the baggage
which was left here."

"Be sure first that it has not been taken away," observed the lad.

"I trust it has not been," answered Smeaton; "for my stock of money is
running low; and there are some jewels and other things of value in
those large trunks, which are worth money at all events."

"Oh, the people at Keanton will furnish you with money, I am sure,"
said Richard, "if you will lead them where they like."

"That is what I am least inclined to do, I fear," returned Smeaton.
"Therefore I will go up and see, that I may be under obligations to
one."

He found his baggage where he had left it, returned to the saloon,
partook of some of the refreshments which Mrs. Culpepper had provided,
and then hastened away to make his arrangements in the village. More
than once during his conversation with Richard Newark, it had struck
him that a strange transformation had come over the lad's manner. His
tone was decided and quick, and his look grave, perhaps sad, even when
he laughed. But Smeaton had too many things to think of, to comment at
length, even in his own mind, on this alteration, and the impression
was swept away as soon as made.

The hurry and confusion of a rapid departure had many additions in
Smeaton's case. What was to be done with good Van Noost, was not the
least consideration. When notice of the approach of troops towards Ale
Manor had been first received in the village, the statuary instantly
hid himself, no one knew where; but now he had re-appeared upon the
scene, and the young nobleman could not bear the thought of leaving
him behind for the consequences of his own indiscretion. The
appearance of a ship before Ale Harbour, which had thrown the whole
village into a state of commotion, prevented the possibility of Van
Noost's escape by sea, and rendered the necessity the greater of all
suspected persons hastening their departure without delay. The
fishermen anticipated that the ship's boats would enter the harbour
every moment; and they seemed to regard the landing of a number of
seamen with much greater apprehension than an attack by a party of
soldiers. They showed no inclination to abandon their friends,
however; but at the same time eagerly assisted in all preparations
which were necessary to put them beyond the reach of this new danger.

The horses were brought to the village with great rapidity; the
baggage was packed and loaded without delay; and, as Van Noost's fat
pony was lost to his affectionate master for ever, a stout farmer's
nag was procured for him, on whose broad back the little round man was
placed like a plum-pudding on a trencher. Still the man who had been
set to watch on the beach of the bay, and at the top of Ale Head,
brought no intelligence of any movement on board the ship to create
alarm, and all was quiet when the party of fugitives, consisting of
Smeaton and Richard Newark, with Van Noost and two servants, rode away
towards Keanton, where they arrived without interruption. There, for a
time, I must leave them, to take up their history at an after period.



CHAPTER XXIX.

Considering the period of the year, which was only the end of
September, the day was cold and wintry, when a party, consisting of
some sixteen horse, took their way through one of the remote districts
of Northumberland. The sky was covered with a film of grey cloud, and
the wind, keen and chilling, as if loaded with hail or snow, swept
over the bleak hills and moors.

Northumberland was, at that time, from many local causes, far behind
the rest of England in point of cultivation and numbers. Remote from
the capital either of England or Scotland, and holding but very scanty
communication with the rest of Europe, the power and authority of
government was less felt and acknowledged in the great northern county
than elsewhere; old thoughts and habits clung to the inhabitants with
greater tenacity; news circulated less freely, and men were more under
the influence of the great proprietors than perhaps in any other
English shire. The party of horse, therefore, which I have mentioned,
and which was headed, as the reader may suppose, by the young Earl of
Eskdale and Richard Newark, not only passed unquestioned through a
district where a great majority of the people were attached to the
Stuart cause, but were received in the small towns and villages with
much cordiality, as soon as it was perceived that they were not
soldiers of the House of Hanover. The Northumberland man has a certain
degree of northern cautiousness about him; but he is by no means
without the merry English spirit, and a good portion of wit. Few
inquiries were made of the travellers as to the end and object of
their journey; but a sly and jesting allusion was often ventured to
the cause of the exiled king, and every information was given
voluntarily regarding the insurrectionary movements in Scotland, and
the general feelings of the people of the county itself.

The report, which had reached the west, of Forster and others being in
arms in Northumberland, proved to have been greatly premature, and
Smeaton now found that nothing was certain as to the proceedings of
the malcontents and the government, except that warrants were out for
the arrest of the Earl of Derwentwater, and Forster of Ramborough,
member for the county, together with several other persons of less
note, and that the Earl and his companion, with several of their
friends, were closely concealed.

The situation of the young Earl of Eskdale was peculiar; but his being
placed in it had been brought about by circumstances which affected
many at that period, and led them unwillingly to actions which they
did not at first contemplate, and into a position which they had
anxiously striven to avoid. A hundred instances of noblemen and
gentlemen could be cited, who were led on, little by little, from a
mere abstract feeling of loyalty and attachment towards the exiled
house of Stuart, to a complete and sometimes furious enthusiasm in
their cause, to an active part in insurrection, and to their own utter
destruction. Such was not altogether the case with Smeaton; but it
must be acknowledged that, before he reached Northumberland, his
feelings and views were very greatly altered. The zeal and eagerness
of all those by whom he was surrounded of course had their effect.

Few men--perhaps no young man--can prevent himself from being
altogether infected by the enthusiasm of others, especially if no
antidote be at hand, and certain it is that the young nobleman was
inclined to look more favourably upon the conduct of the exiled
princes, to make more allowance for their faults, and to regard their
cause more hopefully, than he had been when we first saw him in
London. Moreover, the treatment which he had received in Devonshire,
the evident determination of the local authorities, if not of the
government, to molest and persecute him, notwithstanding the strong
assurances he had received from Lord Stair, and the contemptuous
silence with which, as it appeared, that nobleman had treated his
letters, irritated him greatly against the House of Hanover. It was
certain, he thought, that one at least of those letters must have
reached the hands for which both were intended, although the second,
perhaps, might not have arrived in London before the Earl had taken
his departure from the capital. Why had he neglected to reply? Was he
inclined to violate his plighted word, or to connive at its violation
by others? Or had he suffered his mind to be warped by false reports?
and, if he had, was he justified in so doing before stronger proof was
adduced than any which Smeaton imagined could have been furnished by
his enemies?

"I have kept my word to the letter," said the young nobleman, to
himself; "but I cannot bear this much longer. If they will drive me
into insurrection, it is not my fault. But I will yet make one more
effort for an explanation; and if that fails, I and they must abide
the consequence."

A sigh followed the conclusion of this train of thought; for a
moment's reflection showed him, notwithstanding some new-lighted
hopes, where the evil consequences of the course, along which he was
being hurried, were most likely to fall. It is true, he had not
committed himself in any degree, either with Richard Newark, or with
the farmers and stout yeomen who had accompanied or followed him from
Keanton: Although he suffered them to join his party--for he could
hardly refuse to do so after they had placed themselves in a dangerous
situation on his account--he told them from the first that he had
pledged himself to the Earl of Stair to take no part in any of the
political movements that were going on, if suffered to remain quietly
in England for a short period.

"I have kept my part of the compact," repeated he, "and I have been
treated ill; but, before I actually violate it, I must learn from the
Earl what is the meaning of the conduct pursued towards me. Perhaps,
all may be explained on both sides; and, if so, I will keep my word to
the letter, leaving you, my good friends, to follow what course you
think fit."

Some of the men received the announcement rather sullenly; but others
smiled with light-hearted shrewdness, thinking that their young Lord's
scruples would soon be overcome when once he found himself in the
focus of the insurrection.

During the last day's march, many a wild and exaggerated report had
reached the little party of the progress of the insurgent force under
the Earl of Mar, and of risings in various other parts of England.
Mar's army was swelled to the number of thirty thousand men, according
to these rumours; he had been joined by all the principal noblemen in
Scotland; the Highland clans were universally flocking to him; the
Lowlanders were rising in every direction; the town of Perth had been
taken by a _coup-de-main_; and a large magazine of arms and ammunition
on the coast of Fife was said to have fallen into the hands of the
insurgents. King James himself was reported to have landed on the
western coast with an auxiliary army, commanded by the gallant Duke of
Berwick, and the forces of the House of Hanover were stated to be a
mere handful, collected in Stirling and surrounded on every side by
the legions of King James. In short, tens were magnified into
hundreds, and hundreds into thousands, on the Jacobite side, and every
small advantage was reported as a great victory; while the numbers of
the opposite party were diminished in proportion, and the great
abilities of those who commanded them overlooked or unknown.

Smeaton himself received these rumours for no more than they were
worth; and, perhaps, did not yield them even sufficient credit. Mar
had, it is true, taken possession of Perth; his forces had certainly
greatly increased; and the Master of Sinclair, one of his officers,
had seized a small store of arms at Burntisland. The forces of the
government, too, at Stirling, were quite inadequate, in point of
numbers, to cope with a regular army, commanded by a man of skill and
experience; but Mar was totally deficient in both these points; and
his army consisted of a mere mob of brave men, with little discipline
and small cohesion amongst them. True was it, also, that General
Whetham, who remained in command at Stirling till the middle of
September, had shown but little ability to encounter the grave and
dangerous circumstances in which he was placed; but on the side of the
Jacobites all the advantages of number, zeal, and fiery courage, were
more than counterbalanced by the incapacity of the commander, and the
insubordination of the troops; while, on the part of the government,
numerous bodies of disciplined soldiers, and officers of decision,
experience, and courage, were hurrying to the scene of action, and
preparing to crush the insurrection which had been already suffered to
proceed too far.

Vainly did Smeaton ask for tidings of the Earl of Stair, till, on the
day which I have mentioned, a farmer told him, somewhat sullenly, that
two regiments of dragoons belonging to the Earl of Stair had passed
the border that morning, and that there was an ill-looking fellow at
their head, with a number of lackeys in the rear, whom he doubled not
was the Earl himself and his servants. This news seemed sufficient;
and, without delay, he hurried on till nightfall, gaining information
of the march of these troops as he proceeded, till, on the best
opinion he could form, he judged that they could not be much more than
one march in advance. The place where he was obliged to halt could
hardly be called a hamlet, but rather a group of small farm-houses
gathered together in a rich valley amongst the hills. No inn, no place
of public entertainment whatever, was to be found; but the good
farmers of the place not only willingly took in the travellers in
separate parties, but seemed almost to expect some such visitation.
Nods and hints were not wanting to signify that the cause of their
guest's movements was known; and the worthy Northumbrian, at whose
house Smeaton and Richard Newark were lodged, with their two servants,
whispered in the ear of the young nobleman, that it would be better
for him to keep quiet where he was, the whole of the next day, as Lord
Stair's dragoons were at Wooler, and there was some talk of their
halting there to refresh, before they proceeded north.

The news was less unsatisfactory to the young Earl than the farmer
imagined; and his first act was to write a letter to Lord Stair, and
to direct his servant to take it early on the following morning. He
then returned to the room where he had left Richard Newark, and
informed him of what he had done.

The lad laughed.

"Then, most likely, we shall all soon be in the hands of the
Philistines," he said. "Your noddle, Eskdale, is doubtless much better
than mine; but I don't think mine would have concocted a scheme for
giving this good lord an opportunity of sending back a party to pick
us up, just as if we were something he had dropped on the road. Twenty
Tories, and an Earl at their head, would make a good cast of the net
for any Hanover fisherman."

"I have not been so imprudent as you think, Richard," rejoined his
friend. "I can be careful for my friends as well as for myself. I have
not mentioned to Lord Stair that there is any one with me, and have
told him that I shall follow the messenger ten miles on the road
to-morrow, to meet the man on his return, and that, if he assures me
that I shall be safe to come and go, I would present myself at his
head-quarters, in order that our conduct may be mutually explained. I
will send you intimation by the messenger, if I do not return to join
you myself."

"And what am I to do?" asked Richard Newark, with a somewhat gloomy
and desponding look. "Here I am, like a boat turned off to sea without
sail or oar or compass."

"If you would take my advice, Richard," replied his friend, "it would
be exactly what I have given you more than once before; namely, to
make the best of your way to London, and join your father. That advice
I give to you, because I think the course of your duty is clear, and
because I believe your single arm would be of very little service to
the cause you are so anxious to serve, although I have not thought it
fit or right to dissuade these good men of Keanton, who are with us,
from following the course they have chosen for themselves. But the
case is very different with you. You are young and inexperienced, and
may, hereafter, bitterly regret the step you are now taking. They are
older, know and see the consequences of all they are doing, and are
only acting in consonance with principles long entertained. Were I to
follow my own inclinations--my habitual prejudices, as I may call
them--I should, undoubtedly, lead them on the way they are going but
still I should give you the same advice as I give now."

"Then why do you not follow your own inclinations?" asked Richard,
sharply. "I won't believe that you are a man to hesitate at doing
anything merely because you think it is dangerous. All these men
suppose it is because you have no great hope of success that you will
not join the King's army."

"They do me wrong," said Smeaton. "I put before them what I thought a
just view of the probabilities, because I would not have them act
blindly; but I have used no other means of dissuasion. You ask me why
I do not follow my own inclination," he continued, thoughtfully; "and
I do not know that I shall be able to make you comprehend the reason."

"Try, try," said Richard Newark. "My skull is thick, I know; but, if
you tap at the right place, you will get in."

"It is a very painful situation, Richard," said Smeaton, "when a man's
reason, in points of such importance as those which are now agitated
in England, takes part against the prejudices in which he has been
brought up. My father was happier. He never entertained a doubt that
kings possess their power by divine appointment, or imagined that the
people had justly any voice in the choice of their rulers. To this
principle he sacrificed all his earthly possessions, and would have
sacrificed life itself. Neglect, ill-treatment, duplicity on the part
of the princes whom he served, made no difference in his opinions. He
lived and died in them; and, during my early life, I heard of none
other. Ten years ago I should have thought exactly the same as my
father, though I felt more than he did the wrongs that were done him,
and the insolent indifference with which he was treated. Although I
despised our rightful sovereign as a man, I should have been ready to
shed my blood for him as a King. Since that time I have mingled much
with the world, have been out of the atmosphere of such prejudices,
have learned to think and reason for myself, and have come to the
conclusion that, as kings rule for the benefit of the people, the
people have a voice in their selection; that, in fact, kings have no
rights but what they derive from their subjects. Now, if I could
convince myself that the majority of the people of England did really
desire King James for their sovereign, or even that people were
equally divided for and against him, I should not hesitate to draw my
sword in his cause; for my prejudices are still strong, though they
are weakened. But I am not convinced that such is the case; and all I
have seen hitherto tends to an opposite conclusion. This is one view
of the case; but there is another, which is even still more powerful
with me. I pledged myself to Lord Stair, that I would meddle in no way
in this struggle for three months."

"But he has not kept his word with you," cried Richard, vehemently.
"You cannot be bound by a compact which he has broken."

"It is that which I am anxious to ascertain," replied his friend; "and
that I will ascertain to-morrow. If I find he has really violated his
word with me, or suffered it to be violated by others, of course I
shall hold myself entitled to act as I please. But I can hardly
suppose that this is the case; for I have always believed that his
character, as a man of honour, is above suspicion; and I would not,
for life itself, by any rash act of mine, justify him in saying that I
took advantage of the unauthorised conduct of those western
magistrates to violate my plighted word."

Richard Newark fell into a fit of thought; but he never long retained
any very sombre impressions; and, after the pause of a moment or two,
he broke into a laugh, inquiring--

"Do you not think that our dear Emmeline may have something to do with
your great discretion?"

"Nothing," replied Smeaton, thoughtfully, "nothing, I trust and hope,
though I do not scruple at once to say, Richard, that, for her sake, I
would do anything that did not affect my honour. Nay, more--"

He paused for an answer; for he was strongly tempted to tell his young
companion how indissolubly his own fate and that of Emmeline were now
bound together; but he hesitated on the very point of uttering the
words. Richard was so wild, so rash--there might occur so many events
to render the safe keeping of that secret important, and there seemed
so many chances of his letting it escape him in one of his thoughtless
moods--that a moment's reflection decided the Earl to be silent on the
subject, at least for the time.

"Well, what more?" cried Richard, impatiently.

"I have tried the question with myself a dozen times," replied the
Earl; "and, though I need not tell you I love her dearly, I do not
believe that that love has been suffered to interfere at all in the
decision I have come to."

"Well, well," said Richard Newark, shrugging his shoulders, "when we
march into London and proclaim King James, you shall have her; and I
will give away the bride. A pretty father I shall make! I suppose I
must hire a white beard for the occasion. You act as you like; and I
must take my chance, as you will not lead me to draw the sword which
you have taught me to use. I will take our King's side, and stay by
it. I am sick of seeing people wavering between two parties--my
father, from policy, and you from scruples. There, I don't mean to
offend you, noble friend. I doubt not you are quite right, and that
your head was made for something better than being run against a wall,
which was evidently Nature's intention when she furnished me with this
noddle of mine; but you will own that, having seen all I have seen, I
may well say, 'No time-serving for me.' I have heard people tell that
my father has got together a great estate by now running with one
party and now with another. It is but right that his son should break
it to pieces again by sticking tight to one, be it fortunate or
unlucky. And now I shall go to bed. Don't you dream of Emmeline, or
you'll go ever to Lord Stair to a certainty."

Thus saying, he rose and left the room; and Smeaton remained some time
longer in thought.



CHAPTER XXX.

The morning was bright and beautiful; the clouds of the preceding day,
although they had not passed off entirely, had broken into detached
masses, soft, white, and buoyant, but low down, moving slowly across
the blue sky, and leaving large intervals for the rays of the sun to
stream through, and paint the brown moors in all the magic colouring
of autumn. A faint aerial mist was seen softening the distant parts of
the landscape, as Smeaton rode slowly over the solitary hills which
lay tumbled about in large rounded masses, marking the frontier line
of England and Scotland. The alternation of shadow and of gleam
brought forth as varied and as beautiful colours as those which paint
the dolphin at his death. The free pure air, the rich changing
prospect, the wide expanse of view, all seemed to breathe hope, if not
happiness; and that strange mysterious sensation, that elevated and
expansive feeling, to which I can give no name, but which takes
possession of the heart when first we quit the busy haunts of men to
plunge into a wide solitude, came strongly upon the young Earl as he
strained his sight along the distant hills and valleys. Not a soul was
to be seen, not a living creature but a large bird of prey floating
slowly in vast circles over his head. It was the early morning.

His servant had gone forward about half an hour before; the road which
they had both to follow had been clearly pointed out; and Smeaton
expected a ride of some twelve or thirteen miles before he could meet
the messenger on his return. He gave himself up to thought, but not to
that train of thought which perhaps might seem the most natural in his
circumstances. He entered into no vain speculations as to the reply he
should receive from the Earl of Stair. He suffered not his mind to
rest upon the state of parties in the country, or upon the
probabilities of the success or failure of the insurrection. He did
not even dwell for a moment upon the various rumours of the day
before, nor try to free himself, by reason, from any of those
impressions--not exactly new but revived--which had been produced in
him by the zeal and enthusiasm of all those by whom he had been lately
surrounded. His thoughts were of Emmeline, and Emmeline alone. That
wonderful thing, association, had called up her image almost as
strongly, as distinctly, as if her beautiful face and fair form had
been before his eyes. The brown heath, the rounded hills, the gleams
of sunshine, the floating clouds, the free elastic air, all brought
back to memory the morning of his ride to the old church at Aleton;
and Emmeline was the principal object in all that remembrance painted.

His thoughts and feelings, however, were his own, and peculiar. I do
not believe that there are any two moments in a man's life in which he
is exactly the same being, however well the general harmony of the
character may be maintained. Years make a difference; months, days,
events, circumstances, experience. The changes may be very sudden, or
they may be so gradual as to be imperceptible at the time they are
taking place; yet, fix any lengthened period, and we find them marked
and distinct in the mind as well as in the body. There is as much
difference between the sensations of forty and of twenty, as between
the face or form of the man and of the boy. Whether for better or for
worse, we change them. They are things of the day, which pass from us
and return no more.

Smeaton's love for Emmeline was intense, powerful, enthusiastic; but
it was the love of a man, not of a boy. Ten years before, his thoughts
would have been very different when turned towards her; more
agitating, perhaps, but not so deep and strong. He dwelt, as a lover
might dwell, on the beautiful memory of her look, the symmetry of her
person, the music of her voice, the wild untutored graces of her mind,
the heart-breathing spirit which pervaded everything she said and did;
and the longing to hold her to his bosom again came upon him very
strongly. He thought, too, with pain, of what must be her sensations,
what her distress of mind, to be torn from him and carried away
against her will, at the very moment when their happiness seemed
almost secure; but it was not with that impulsive rashness which, a
few years before, might have led him to fly to her in spite of
obstacles, and without taking means to remove any of the difficulties
which beset their path. He was old enough to struggle with his
impulses, and generally to overcome them when he felt them to be rash.

Thus, in mingled meditation, he rode on, with sweet and pleasant
images presented by memory, and painful reflections chequering the too
bright vision.

He had not gone more than eight miles when he saw a man rapidly
approaching down the slope of the opposite hill. He could hardly
believe that his servant had returned so soon; yet the figure was so
much the same--a diminutive man on a tall horse--that, though some
distance intervened, he recognized him. They met at the bottom of the
valley, and Smeaton asked eagerly,

"Well, what news? Have you brought me a letter?"

"I have brought your own back again, my Lord," replied Higham, holding
it out to his master, as he rode up; "and no other answer could I
get."

"No answer!" echoed Smeaton, taking the letter, and seeing that it had
been opened. "What did he say, or cause to be said to you?"

"Oh, he said very little," replied the man, "and caused nothing to be
said at all; for he seemed quite capable of speaking for himself, and
that pretty sharply. He broke open the letter, read it through from
beginning to end, and then thrust it into my hand, saying, 'You had
better ride back again.' I asked if he would not send an answer by me,
or if he would send one afterwards. But he said no answer was needed,
and called out: 'Take it back to him who sent you. That is the only
answer.'"

Smeaton's cheek burned, and his heart beat angrily.

"This is insult," he muttered. "This is insult as well as injury. Some
day I may call him to account for it."

"I must say for him, my Lord," added the man, "that it was not a lucky
moment to fall upon; for he was at the head of the men drawn up on the
little green, and just ready to march."

"That is no excuse," said Smeaton. "The same number of words, the same
amount of breath, the same space of time, would have conveyed an
honourable as a dishonourable reply. He might have said that he would
write when he was at leisure, that he would see me if I would follow
him, and that I might do so in safety. It would have cost no more
time." Then, turning round his horse, with his heart all on fire, he
asked himself: "Shall I stoop to be a beggar for simple justice? No,
no. The case is very clear. They have made up their mind to drive
every one they doubt into insurrection. They say, Those who are not
for us are against us: They have chosen their part with regard to me.
It is time that I should choose mine with regard to them."

He had ridden slowly as he went; but he returned at a gallop, though
the rapid motion did not tend to calm his feelings. The farm-house
where he had slept was vacant of its guests. Richard Newark, his
servant, and all the Keanton men were gone; but they had left word
that, if Smeaton returned and sought them, he would find them at a
place called the Waterfalls. The Earl ordered the baggage-horse to be
prepared directly, and, in the mean time, applied to the farmer for
directions on the way after his party.

"I'll guide you, sir," replied the man. "There is something going on
that I have an itching to have a hand in, and I think I'll pay some of
the Newcastle keel-men for throwing me into the Tyne, in one of their
brute frolics."

Smeaton gladly accepted his guidance, and, in about half an hour, they
set out; the Earl riding a little in advance, and alone, while the
stout farmer jogged on, conversing with the servant, Higham. They took
their way through a more cultivated part of the country than that
which Smeaton had passed in the morning; but they soon turned toward
the hills again, and the farmer pointed out a piece of ground on the
right, saying:

"That is Plainfield, my Lord."

Smeaton, however, was busy with his own thoughts, and made no inquiry,
not knowing anything which should make Plainfield remarkable.[1] A few
minutes afterwards, they began to ascend a somewhat steep hill, riding
over the green turf; and, as they wound round it to lessen the
sharpness of the ascent, the young nobleman caught sight of a small
party of horse gathered together at the distance of about a mile.
"There are our friends, I think," he said.

"Ay, my lord, I dare say they are," replied the farmer.

The words seemed insignificant enough; but they were spoken in a
significant tone, and the servant, Tom Higham, gave a low laugh.

A rise in the ground, in another moment, hid the party they had seen;
and, spurring quickly on, Smeaton soon came to the top of the height,
whence a view of the country could be commanded for several miles. The
prospect was very picturesque. The brown hill-side descended somewhat
abruptly towards the more even country below, and was channelled by a
sort of glen or ravine, through which leaped and tumbled a small
mountain stream, fringed here and there with low trees and shrubs, but
ever and anon glancing out under the eye, and catching the sunlight on
its foam and spray.

Half way between the top of the hill and the head of this ravine was
gathered together a party of men on horseback; not more than, if so
many as, very frequently assembled on the most innocent occasions. In
ordinary times, one would naturally have supposed that the little
meeting consisted of a hunting party, or perhaps two or three dozen of
gentlemen assembled to run their greyhounds. Besides those in this
central situation, two or three small groups of horsemen were seen
coming up from below at different degrees of speed, according to the
steepness of the ascent; but still the whole number together might
very well have formed a sporting party, only no dogs were to be seen.
In the midst of the principal group, Smeaton's eye instantly picked
out Richard Newark, who was mounted on a tall and remarkable white
horse; and, riding quickly down towards him, he was soon by his side.
The Keanton farmers, who were there assembled, greeted the approach of
their young lord with a sort of half cheer, and one of them exclaimed
aloud--"God bless your lordship! I thought you would not abandon us in
time of need."

"What news from Lord Stair?" asked Richard, in a whisper.

"None," replied Smeaton, bitterly. "He sent back my letter, opened,
but without reply."

"Then I must have been mistaken," said Richard Newark. "I thought that
other hands must have been stirring your pottage for you, noble
friend. Now, the case is clear enough. Old Hanover won't have you for
the giving."

"I never intended to give myself to _him_," replied Smeaton. "Nothing
should ever induce me to draw my sword _against_ a prince who has been
pushed from the succession to the throne on a false and ridiculous
pretence. But, if they will force me to draw the sword _in his
favour_, I cannot help it. They must be gratified. Who are all these?"
And, as he spoke, he ran his eye over the rest of the persons present,
who, gathered together in various knots, were regarding him with
inquiring looks.

"Oh, you shall soon know them," returned Richard. "Common cause makes
quick acquaintance. General Forster, here is my friend, the Earl of
Eskdale--Lord Derwentwater, the Earl of Eskdale--Lord Widrington, the
Earl of Eskdale."

"By my faith, we have more lords than soldiers," said the latter
nobleman, with a laugh, "and more stout hearts and strong arms than
weapons of war. It is to be hoped that supplies will flow in upon us
somewhat rapidly."

"Come, come, my lord," said Forster, "you ought not to be the first to
cry out, seeing that you have brought us the fewest men and the
scantiest supply."

"Why, I only heard of the business last night," replied Lord
Widrington, "and thought this was but a preliminary meeting.
Doubtless, we shall have men enough, and weapons enough, too, when
once it is known we are in arms."

"Doubtless, doubtless," said the Earl of Derwentwater, a young and
handsome man, with a peculiarly prepossessing expression of
countenance. "I am glad to see your lordship here," he continued,
addressing Smeaton. "Your family have suffered much in the cause we
all advocate, and I hope, by the success of our enterprise, you will
recover what it lost--a success which, from the news we have just
received, seems to be beyond doubt."

"Indeed!" said Smeaton. "May I ask what news that is?"

Derwentwater replied by detailing, in somewhat glowing language, and
with a slight colouring from his own enthusiasm, all the first partial
successes of the insurgents in Scotland. The greater part of the
intelligence was merely confirmatory of the rumours which had reached
Smeaton during the preceding day, that the Earl of Mar had taken
Perth, that arms and ammunition had been seized at Burntisland, that
the army of King James III. was daily increasing in numbers, that
money was flowing in rapidly, and that, while the troops of the House
of Hanover were in a very critical position at Stirling, Mar was
preparing to force the passage of the Forth, and that the Western
clans were menacing the rear of King George's army. It was added, that
a great number of towns and districts of much importance had openly
declared for the House of Stuart, and that King James had been
proclaimed at Aberdeen, at Dunkeld, at Castle Gordon, at Brechin, at
Montrose, at Dundee, and at Inverness, while the whole of Galloway and
Dumfrieshire was stated to be flaming in insurrection.

Broad general facts, without the small circumstances which modify
them, and sometimes affect their whole bearings, are very apt to
produce the most erroneous conclusions; and, as Lord Derwentwater
stated not, and, probably, knew not, the multitude of counterbalancing
disadvantages under which the insurrectionary leaders lay, Smeaton
naturally was led to look with a much more hopeful eye on the cause he
had now determined to espouse.

His new acquaintance mentioned one important fact; namely, that the
Duke of Argyle had taken command of the troops at Stirling. "But,"
added he, "with all his skill, he will have no easy task to prevent
defeat, and, probably, surrender." He was not mistaken; for, had Mar
possessed ordinary military knowledge and experience, there can be
little doubt that the gallant nobleman opposed to him would have been
forced to retreat, if retreat had been possible; but neither
Derwentwater nor Lord Eskdale were at all personally aware that Mar
was not a soldier, and the inconceivable folly of appointing a man
totally destitute of military science to command an ill-disciplined
army, in circumstances of the greatest delicacy and danger, did not
once enter their imaginations. Nevertheless, the well-known skill,
courage, and determination of Argyle, and the strong resolution he had
shown in taking command in person of the small force at Stirling, led
Smeaton to suspect that he either knew of circumstances, or calculated
upon events, of which the Jacobite party in England were not at all
aware.

It was too late now, however, he thought, to hesitate, even if his
decision had depended upon the probabilities of success; and he joined
the rest of the party in a hasty consultation, in which, from his want
of all knowledge of the country round, he could give very little
advice, except in regard to military matters, where he possessed more
experience than any one present. Glad to have amongst them an officer
of some skill, the noblemen and gentlemen present proceeded to an
inspection of their little force, amounting, in all, at this time, to
only sixty or seventy horse. Arms they literally had none, except the
ordinary riding-swords used at that period in England (which were of
little if any use in the field), and here and there a brace of pistols
at the saddle-bow. It was evidently an insurrection hurried forward
without thought or preparation.

Every man, however, knew of some place where people would come in, in
numbers great, to the standard of King James; but Smeaton pointed out
that the most pressing necessity was to arm those who were already
collected. The first blow, he said, should be struck at any place
where their local knowledge showed them that a store of the necessary
weapons was to be procured; but no one knew where any such supply
existed, except at Newcastle, which they were manifestly too feeble to
attack. It was judged, therefore, needful to recruit their numbers
even before they sought for arms; and those who were best acquainted
with the district proposed that they should proceed to Rothbury and
Warkworth, as the line in which recruits were most likely to come in.

Smeaton had nothing to object; and, forming into something like
regular array, they rode from the place of meeting after a discussion
which, though hurried and desultory, occupied several hours. The
Northumbrian noblemen and gentlemen were full of hope and enthusiasm;
but the young Earl, who had so unwillingly joined them, viewed the
matter with less sanguine anticipations, and, from the expressions of
his new companions, derived no very favourable idea of their
capability of conducting a great enterprise to a successful
conclusion.



CHAPTER XXXI.

What need I tell of the first proceedings of the small body of
gentlemen whom we have seen set out on the path of insurrection? How
they marched to Rothbury, and thence to hermit-loving Warkworth; how
they received small reinforcements as they went along, and proclaimed
King James the Third wherever they came; and how at Morpeth their
numbers were increased to three hundred horse--are all facts well
known to everybody. Neither need I pause to describe the
disappointment and apprehension occasioned by the scantiness of the
numbers which came in on each day's march, nor dwell upon the anxious
consultations which took place night after night, when they still
found themselves unprepared for any enterprise of importance.

All hope of successfully attacking Newcastle soon passed away, and
only one event occurred to brighten the dark prospect before
them--namely, the capture of Holy Island by one of their number,
Lancelot Errington, a gentleman of ancient family long resident near
Hexham. The very next tidings received, however, were to the effect
that the small fort had been retaken by the troops from Berwick, and
that Errington was wounded and a prisoner.

This was a bitter disappointment; for the least success in such
perilous enterprises raises hope high, and often paves the way for
other advantages. They flattered themselves that they only wanted some
happy exploit to rouse the neighbouring gentry in their favour, to
encourage the timid and confirm the wavering. But the disaster which
followed this first gleam extinguished all such vain hopes, and the
principal leaders met, the evening after the intelligence was
received, to consult as to what was to be done.

They were bold and high-hearted men, though few of them brought skill,
experience, or wisdom to the cause; and not one of them would listen
to the course which, probably, some inward conviction told each of
them was the only path of safety--namely, dispersing their followers,
abandoning the enterprise, and making their submission. Yet what was
to be done? All their expectations of a general rising were at an end;
they had no infantry, nor weapons wherewith to arm infantry; troops
were reported to be marching towards them from various quarters, and
all they had to oppose to them was only three hundred horse!

Many a plan was proposed--many a course suggested--at their sad
conference, till, at length, Smeaton, who had sat silent and
thoughtful, with his head resting on his hand, looked up, saying:

"It seems to me, my lords and gentlemen, that there is but one thing
to be done. With such scanty means as we can command, no great purpose
can be effected. We cannot even undertake one of those trifling
enterprises which, when successful, often change altogether the
fortunes of such movements as these. We must have more men before we
can do anything."

"Ay, but where are we to get them, my good lord?" asked Lord
Widrington. "That is the question which puzzles us all."

"Thus," replied Smeaton, boldly. "We have certain intelligence that
Lord Kenmure, the Earl of Nithsdale, and other noblemen and gentlemen,
are in arms, just across the border, to the number, we are assured, of
four or five hundred men. They have already undertaken several
movements of importance; and, when joined by our small force, will be
able to effect much more. The object of our own body, and of that
under the noblemen I have mentioned, should be to unite as soon as
possible, which can easily be done, either by our withdrawing at once
from Northumberland, and joining Kenmure, or by that nobleman
advancing to our support, and enabling us to undertake some enterprise
of importance. Much can be done either in the north of England, or in
the south of Scotland, by eight hundred men, which cannot even be
thought of by three hundred, and my own opinion is, that we should
march at daybreak to-morrow, to effect our junction with Viscount
Kenmure; and, by giving force and vigour to the insurrection in the
Lowlands, occupy the troops of the House of Hanover, and enable the
Earl of Mar to profit fully by his advantageous position and the
number of his forces."

This proposal, like every other proposal, in a meeting where there is
no real subordination, called forth a long and rambling discussion,
and a great variety of opinions. Every one saw the wisdom of joining
the two streams of insurrection in one; but none agreed as to the mode
in which it was to be effected. National prejudices and antipathies,
engendered by long border warfare, were by no means extinct; and,
although some few saw the prudence of Smeaton's suggestion of
withdrawing from Northumberland and confining their operations, for
the time, to the south of Scotland, others declared that many of their
followers would abandon the cause, if such a retreat were attempted,
and one gentleman boldly announced his belief that, in that case, they
should not take fifty men across the border with them. This opinion
prevailed, and it was determined to negotiate with Lord Kenmure for
the advance of his forces into England.

The next question was, who was to be the negotiator? No one present
was personally acquainted with the Scottish nobleman--and, to say
truth, few liked to undertake a task in which they might very
naturally expect to meet with a repulse; for every one felt it to be
but little likely that Kenmure would cross the border with his men,
without some better inducements than they had in their power to hold
out. At length, after a number of excuses had been given by various
gentlemen in the room, for not undertaking the task, the Earl of
Eskdale volunteered to be the person.

"I will endeavour," he said, "if you entrust me with the commission,
to induce Lord Kenmure to join you, and will, of course, refrain from
pointing out to him, whatever may be my own opinion, that it would be
wiser for you to join him. However, I cannot use any arguments in
opposition, if he should urge the latter course; but it will be better
for General Forster to write to him by my hands, employing all those
arguments which have been conclusive in his own mind."

Forster, however, was very unwilling to write, and only in the end
consented to give such credentials to the young Earl as would show
that he was authorised to treat by the whole party. Even these he
would have postponed till the following morning, alleging various
motives for delay; but Smeaton interrupted him somewhat impatiently,
saying,

"There is no time to be lost, sir. The distance is considerable, if
the forces of Lord Kenmure are at Moffat, as we have been informed. We
are more than thirty miles from Wooler; and, whether I take the road
by Coldstream or direct to Kelso, nearly two days must be consumed in
my journey alone. Then will come the negotiation, which may be more
tedious than we imagine, as well as the march of the troops hither. I
shall, therefore, most decidedly set out to-night; and, if I might
advise, you would, at all events, retire upon Rothbury, which is so
far on the way to meet our friends from the north. If there is any
delay, you may all be cut to pieces before they arrive to your
support."

"Oh, we shall retire to Rothbury, of course," said Lord Derwentwater;
"and the credentials can soon be prepared without much trouble to any
one. If you are willing to set out so speedily, it must not be any act
of ours that delays you."

"In half an hour I shall be ready," replied Smeaton, rising; "and, in
the meantime, I trust that the paper will be drawn up."

It was a full hour, however, before he set out; and then,
notwithstanding the entreaties of Van Noost to be allowed to accompany
him, the young Earl departed, only attended by his servant.

The light was already failing rapidly; and, before many minutes had
passed, night fell over his road. A little more than three hours
brought him to Wooler, with tired horses and a somewhat anxious mind;
for he felt all the importance of the mission he had undertaken, and
the movement of troops in the neighbourhood of Berwick rendered it not
at all improbable that he might be stopped upon the way. He found the
little town of Wooler quiet and soldierless, however; and, as the hour
was not late, he had no difficulty in procuring refreshment at the
little inn for himself, his servant, and his horses.

Anxious to cross the border, beyond which the general feelings of the
country people rendered the roads more safe to persons engaged in the
Jacobite cause, he only gave himself an hour and a half's rest, and
then set out again, taking the direct road to Kelso, which, though at
that time steep and rugged enough, had great advantages over that by
Coldstream, both in point of distance and of security; for he had
learned at Wooler that a small party of horse had occupied the latter
town during the morning. He was forced to proceed somewhat slowly,
indeed; for his horses had been in exercise already during the early
part of the day; and the wearisome twenty miles to Kelso occupied
several hours.

The whole town, when he entered it, was profoundly still, and the
inhabitants plunged in sleep. Not a solitary light was to be seen in
any window; and the young nobleman had no means of knowing whether he
might not rouse a lion instead of a lamb, if he attempted to wake any
of the good citizens from their slumbers. In these circumstances, he
resolved to push forward, notwithstanding the weariness of his horse,
and trust for hospitality to the first small hamlet or cottage he
could meet with. He reckoned without his host however; for, at that
time, the country between Kelso and Hawick was much less thickly
peopled than at present; and, after going some two miles farther, he
was fain to turn the horses into a green meadow at the bottom of a
valley, and seek shelter for himself and his servant beneath a loose
stone wall.

The autumnal wind was blowing bleak and cold; but the beasts were
better off than the men, for they soon found provender sufficient in
the meadow, while their riders were left without food. Tom Higham
groaned in the spirit as he sat, wrapped up in his cloak, shivering
behind the wall; and Smeaton could hear him more than once muttering
to himself--

"I am a mighty great fool. That is as clear as moonshine."

Perhaps the young nobleman thought the same of himself; but he bore
his situation more patiently; and, shrouding himself from the cutting
blast as well as he could, tried to obtain some sleep, as he had often
done in other lands under similar circumstances.

It was in such lonely and darksome hours, when the mind was the most
depressed, and action impossible, that the thought of Emmeline
frequently presented itself to Smeaton. The remembrance was like an
angel visit; for although many a melancholy and many an anxious train
of ideas was awakened by the recollection of her and of her fate, yet
there was something in the images then called up which left his mind
calmed and even cheered. I believe it is a quality of high pure love
to strengthen and to elevate, however adverse may be the
circumstances. The images which now arose in his mind effectually
banished sleep; and, when the grey daylight at length began to appear
in the east, he was still waking, though his servant had been long
buried in deep slumber. Smeaton rose at once, and, rousing the man,
told him to catch the horses, and replace the saddles and bridles.

"Ay," cried Tom Higham, "we had better do that before any one comes
and catches _us_; for the beasts have had a good feed at Sawney's
expense, and a canny Scot is not a man to let us off scot free if he
catches us."

"He shall not need," replied Smeaton, taking out his purse and putting
down a couple of shillings on the top of the stone wall. "I trust he
will find them; but if not, my conscience is free."

The horses gave them some trouble, for they were not at all willing to
quit their comfortable pasture for the hard stony road; and just when
the young nobleman had got his own beast by the forelock, he heard the
voice of his man calling for help in lamentable accents. Turning
round, he beheld good Master Higham in the grasp of a very tall stout
man, in an ordinary farming dress; and, leading his horse up, he
inquired what was the matter.

"I cannot understand what he means," cried Tom Higham; "but I know
that he talks something about spearing me, or my spearing at him,
though devil a spear there is amongst us."

Smeaton, however, more conversant, from his family connections, with
the language of the country, was soon made to comprehend that the
farmer, having seen two horses in his field from the window of his
house, which lay hard by, though the darkness had previously concealed
it, had come down in high wrath to repel an intrusion which, to say
truth, was somewhat common at that time and in that part of the
country.

"My good friend," replied the young nobleman, "we took refuge here in
the night, neither very well knowing the way nor where to find
shelter, and I certainly did not intend to go away without paying for
the grass which the horses have taken."

"No that likely," replied the marl, doggedly. "If ye wanted shelter,
why did na ye joost tirl at the pin up by, or gie a halloo under the
window?"

"Because I did not know there was a window near," replied Smeaton,
with a smile. "As to my intention of paying you, you can satisfy
yourself; for, before I went to help my servant in catching the
horses, I put a couple of shillings down on the top of the wall, which
I thought must be sufficient for the grass they had eaten."

The cautious farmer let go his hold of Higham's neck; but, before he
expressed himself satisfied or otherwise, walked straight to the wall
and took up the money, which he speedily found. His countenance
brightened at once, and the young Earl said to himself, with a
somewhat cynical smile--"I wish my poor father's countrymen would not
give so much cause for the imputation of greediness which their
southern neighbours are so ready to throw upon them."

He was mistaken, however, in the present instance; for, as soon as he
approached, the good farmer held out the money to him, saying--"Here,
tak the siller. It was no for that I was a bit cankered wi' the wee
body." And he went on to explain that it was the fact of the horses
being put into the field without his leave which had roused his ire.
"There's na that man leeving," he continued, "wha can say I ever
grudged him a bit for himself or his beastie; but ye might hae found a
better beild up by, if ye had just trotted on a bit."

Nothing would serve him now but he must give the two travellers some
breakfast at what he called "his wee thack housie," which proved to be
a very comfortable farm dwelling.

As information was one of the Earl's greatest wants, he readily
accepted the invitation, much to the joy and satisfaction of Tom
Higham, who soon contrived to catch his horse and follow his master
and the farmer as they walked away out of the field and up the road.
It was not easy to induce the latter to speak upon any dangerous
subject. The moment that politics, or the state of the parties then
existing, was mentioned, he curled himself like a hedgehog, to use Tom
Higham's expression, and it was not till he had discovered that his
less wary guest was going to Moffat for the purpose of seeing the
Viscount Kenmure, that he at all unfolded himself. Then, indeed, he
spoke more freely, but with a certain degree of caution still, as if
not yet quite convinced that the English traveller was not trying to
worm the secret of his political propensities out of him. He cared not
for one King or the other, he said; no, not a bodle. He was a
peaceable man, and they might fight it out amongst them; but, as for
the Viscount Kenmure and "his handfu' of men," he had heard tell, but
he would not warrant it, for he knew nothing of his own knowledge,
that he was not at Moffat at all, but at the town of Hawick.

At the same time, as far as slight indications went, he seemed not to
be ill-disposed to the cause of the House of Stuart. He took
particular pains to direct Smeaton right on the road to Hawick, and
insisted upon feeding both the horses with something more solid than
the grass which they had cropped during the night. Gradually, too, he
relaxed a little in regard to intelligence, and informed the young
nobleman that there was no force capable of opposing the march of the
Jacobite forces within many miles. He added that he had heard at Kelso
market that Kenmure had given the good folks of Dumfries a fright some
days before, but that, finding the citizens better prepared than he
had expected, he had retreated to Langholm, and thence to Hawick. As
to the number of Kenmure's forces, he either could not or would not
give any information; but it was at all events satisfactory to the
young nobleman to find that his journey was greatly shortened; and,
after having partaken of the worthy man's good cheer, he remounted,
and set out upon his way.

A ride of a few hours brought him to Hawick; but he found that Kenmure
had not thought fit to take up his quarters in the town itself, but
had occupied a village at a few miles' distance, where his cavalry was
less likely to be embarrassed in case of attack. Thither, then, the
young nobleman pursued his journey, guided by a country lad on foot;
for the directions he received were far too elaborate and confused to
be easily comprehended.

In consequence of various delays, he did not come in sight of the
village till towards three o'clock, and then but very few symptoms of
anything like a numerous body of men were to be perceived. A sentry,
if so he could be called, with a broadsword at his side and a pistol
in his hand, was seen at the end of the long street of straggling
irregular houses which constituted the village; and here and there, a
person in the garb of a gentleman, booted and spurred, but with no
other arms than his sword, was observed loitering about the doors. No
precaution was taken on his entering the village, the sentry merely
directing him, when he asked for the Lord Kenmure, to the minister's
house near the kirk; and, wending his way through heaps of filth and
cabbage stalks, which occupied a certain space before every house, and
rendered the road well nigh impassable for any vehicle on wheels, he
at length reached the entrance of the manse, before which stood a
similar figure to that which kept sentry at the commencement of the
village. The approach of a couple of horsemen had caused a little
commotion in the place; and two or three heads were thrust from the
windows as Smeaton rode up, but he was admitted to the room in which
the Viscount sat, without any delay, and presented to him the brief
note he bore from Mr. Forster.

A long deliberation ensued, in the course of which many questions were
asked by the Scottish nobleman. Smeaton told him the exact truth in
regard to the numbers and position of the little insurgent force in
Northumberland, adding that they had heard that the Lord Kenmure's
troop amounted to five hundred men.

"I wish it did," replied the Viscount, with a somewhat cold laugh. "I
think if that had been the case, my Lord, you would have had to come
on to Dumfries. No, no. I will deal honestly by you, as you have dealt
by me. If you are a handful, we are less. We do not number more than
one half the force you say General Forster has with him."

"Then the more need of your immediate union," observed the young Earl.

"Ay, but it would have been better for him to come to me than for me
to go to him," responded Kenmure. "Something might have been done
here; but I gather from what you say, my noble friend, that little is
to be done on the other side of the border; and every step I take in
that direction draws me farther from my resources and from all chance
of support, of which we have good hope from the north."

"It is too late now, I fear, my Lord," said Smeaton, "to consider such
objections. Perhaps the course you mention might have been wisest.
Here are two small parties, engaged in the same cause, but separate
from each other, with considerable bodies of the enemy's troops
hovering round them. If you continue in this state of isolation, at
fifty or sixty miles distance, you are liable at any moment to be cut
up in detail, without the power of aiding each other, and probably
before your succour from the north can arrive. Allow me to urge that
it would be very much better for you to march without delay to join
the gentlemen in Northumberland. You will then have a force of about
five hundred men united, with which you can show a firm face to the
enemy, even if you cannot undertake any great enterprise; and, should
it be judged necessary after consultation with General Forster, you
can fall back upon your resources here, and make good any well-chosen
position till you are reinforced."

"Well, well," replied Lord Kenmure, "I must consult with my friends
here before we can decide; but, in the mean time, I must care for
your accommodation during the night. We have crammed the manse as full
as it can hold already; and I fear you will have but poor
accommodation.--Some one be good enough to call Quartermaster
Calderwood."

This was accordingly done; and, after a short consultation between
that personage and Lord Kenmure, the young Earl was placed in his
hands, to be conducted to the only quarters which could be assigned to
him, and left the manse somewhat doubtful as to the result of the
consultation which was about to commence.



CHAPTER XXXII.

Darkness was rapidly descending, when the Earl of Eskdale, guided by
Quartermaster Calderwood, entered the little street of the hamlet.
They found Tom Higham amusing himself with talking nonsense in a
strong London jargon to some Scotch lads assembled round the door, who
hardly understood what he said, and whose own language was well nigh
incomprehensible to him. His master beckoned him to follow with the
horses, and was led to the very outskirts of the village, where a
small cottage appeared, in no very good state of preservation, and
quite separated from the rest of the hamlet, being situated in the
midst of its own garden or kail-yard.

"This is the only place I can assign to your Lordship," said
Calderwood, as they approached; "and I fear you must share it with
another gentleman who joined us this afternoon from France. There is
room, however, for two; and I must dispose of the servants elsewhere."

"I am in no way nice, Quartermaster," replied Smeaton. "I have been
too much accustomed to a life in arms to mind sleeping under that
wall, should it be necessary."

"Ah, my Lord, I am glad to hear it," replied Calderwood. "We are sadly
in want of a few men of experience amongst us."

The ordinary reflection passed through Smeaton's mind, that the more
men are wanting in experience themselves, the less are they inclined
to profit by the experience of others; but he forbore reply; and
Calderwood opened the door. No passage, no internal door, shut the
single room in the lower part of the house from the external air; and,
on entering, Smeaton found himself at once in a large apartment,
tenanted by four persons. One was in the garb of a servant; two others
seemed to be the master of the tenement and his wife, a sandy-haired
man and a black-haired woman of about forty years of age; and these
three were bustling about, apparently preparing for the evening meal.
The fourth person was seated before a blazing fire on the north side
of the cottage. He was tall, stout, and apparently well dressed; but
the last gleam of day being on the point of extinction, no candles
lighted, and a considerable quantity of smoke in the room, not much
could be discerned of his figure by the flickering flame of the fire.

Mr. Calderwood spoke a few words to him, explaining the necessity
under which Lord Kenmure lay of quartering another gentleman in the
same tenement. The stranger immediately rose, with some polite
expression of pleasure, and, while the good woman of the house lighted
a solitary candle, advanced to meet the new corner.

The presence of the stranger was dignified and easy, his figure fine,
and his face, if not altogether handsome or pleasing, striking and
remarkable. He had much the air of a military man; and his profession,
or his propensities, seemed indicated by a deep and somewhat recent
scar upon his brow.

The moment he saw Smeaton, his face flushed either with pleasure or
some other emotion; and the young nobleman, after gazing at him for a
moment, as if partly recognising him and partly doubting his own eyes,
held out his hand, saying:

"This is an unexpected pleasure."

The stranger took his offered hand and shook it hard, but with a
peculiar look, not the most cordial. Putting his face close to
Smeaton's ear, he said--

"Call me Somerville. My name is Somerville here."

Smeaton quietly inclined his head, saying:

"I believed you were in very distant lands, Mr. Somerville. When did
you return to Europe?"

"Three or four months ago," replied his companion. "I have been
wandering about in France since.--Now, my good woman, will my supper
never be ready? Come, bestir yourself, and add something to it for
this gentleman, who is doubtless as hungry as I am."

There was evidently a feeling of restraint upon him as he spoke, which
he endeavoured in vain to cover by an affectation of ease and
carelessness; and the moment he had addressed this adjuration to the
woman of the house, he fell into a fit of thought, without at all
attending to her grumbling reply.

Smeaton was also thoughtful; but he did not lose his ease and
calmness; and, by a few good-humoured words, soon induced their
hostess to hurry herself somewhat more than she had been doing
previously.

I might give a long detail of all the little events which took place
during the next hour, and relate how Smeaton's servant, and the
servant of the gentleman calling himself Somerville, were provided
with quarters elsewhere; how a bare-legged damsel, with all the beauty
of youth and health, a clear complexion, and large bleak eyes, came in
to borrow a pot, and was not suffered to depart without many gallant
compliments and a half-resisted kiss from Mr. Somerville; and how two
pretty children, with very scanty clothing, from a neighbouring
cottage, stood leaning upon each other, and watched the strange
gentlemen who had come, while they enjoyed the meal prepared for them.
But I must pass over all such minute facts, and bring the reader at
once to the moment when, after having concluded their supper, Smeaton
and his companion were alone together, the host and hostess having
retired to their early rest, leaving the two gentlemen with a large
jug of whiskey on the table and a kettle of hot water on the fire.

More than once during the earlier part of the meal, Somerville had
given a momentary glance at his companion's face from under his heavy
eyebrows, but withdrawn it as soon as he perceived that Smeaton's eyes
were directed towards him. He meditated much, and often too; and, as I
have said, there was an uneasy air about him which surprised his
comrade for the time; for, when he had known him slightly some years
before, he was famous for that easy daring impudence which was much
affected in all countries by the class called men of wit and pleasure.

When they were left alone together, however, Smeaton at once changed
the tone of the conversation, saying:

"Well, now we are without witnesses, we may speak of more interesting
matters, Newark. When did you return from South America? I heard with
great surprise, when I was at Nancy, that you had determined to turn
merchant, and had taken some _nom-de-guerre_."

"Ay, a merchant _adventurer_," retorted the other, laying great stress
upon the last word. "But it was more in the latter than the former
character that I went, my good Lord. I have been back, as I told you,
about three months, after having gilded my purse with a few ducats in
the new world, let the Dons' blood when they were in danger of
calenture from too much heat, and basked in the sweet smiles of the
olive-brown dames of Peru and Mexico. I got tired of that, as of
everything else in this wearisome world; and, hearing that stirring
times were coming in this quarter, I thought I might as well return
and stake a trifle--such as life and fortune--upon the game that is to
be played, in the hope of recovering, somehow or another, a portion of
what I and mine have lost."

"Did you see your uncle and aunt when you were in France?" asked
Smeaton, fixing his eyes steadily upon him.

"No," replied the other, in a careless tone. "The good Lord, my uncle,
is somewhat worse than senile, having fallen into a decrepitude of
temper as well as of mind and body. He has turned himself into a
corn-merchant, too, which does not suit my notions of propriety; and,
as he never appreciated my high qualities and good points, I did not
think it worth while to trouble him with my presence."

"I know you never agreed," remarked Smeaton; "and of course it is not
for me to say which was in the right--"

"Meaning that I was in the wrong," said the other, with a laugh.

But Smeaton continued, as if he had not been interrupted, saying:

"You do not do him justice when you talk of senility. His mind is as
clear and strong as ever, and his bodily frame but little shaken by
the passing of years. I have had every opportunity of judging, having
passed some weeks with himself and Lady Newark before I came to
England."

"Ah! is he so strong in virtue and in muscles?" exclaimed the other,
with a bitter laugh. "Heaven receive him to the place of saints, and
that right speedily!"

"Nay, nay," said Smeaton. "I am sure, Newark, that wish is more upon
your lips than in your heart."

"It is not, by ----," cried the other, with a fierce oath. "I should
then be Lord Newark, at all events; and, as to ever getting back the
lands as well as the lordship, that would be as the stars willed it,
and they have always been kinder to me than he."

"I do not think you ever judged him fairly," said Smeaton, gravely.
"He was certainly very kind to you in early life, and strained his
small means to afford you a high education along with his two poor
sons; but--"

"But I was what old women call wild, you would say," cried the other,
who seemed to have a great habit of interrupting. "Well, I _was_ wild,
and scoffed a little at the doctrines and notions of elderly
gentlewomen of both sexes, liking much better the doctrines of younger
ladies, and occasionally quarrelled with gentlemen and soldiers who
entertained heretical notions as to my right and liberties in certain
cases. But what of that? I was none the worse for that. No, no,
Eskdale. The head and front of my offence was his own weakness, folly,
or treachery, in suffering his daughter to remain in the hands of the
knave, John Newark."

"How could he help it?" asked Smeaton. "His life was not worth an
hour's purchase if he ventured into England; and there was no one in
this island on whom he could rely to take her from the sort of
imprisonment in which she was kept, and replace her under her father's
care. Doubt not, he would willingly have done it, had it been
possible."

"Why did he not rely on me?" retorted the other, vehemently. "I would
have released her, and brought her safely to France. I offered to do
it--I had everything prepared; but he would not hear of it."

Ho muttered something to himself which Smeaton did not clearly hear,
and then went on aloud--

"He made me appear like a vain boaster in the eyes of a dozen people.
I told sweet John Newark that I would take away the girl from him, and
cut his throat in the house where he has ensconced himself so snugly.
I will do it too, before I have done with him."

"You must get him out of the Tower first," replied Smeaton; "for he is
safely lodged there by this time."

"Ha!" exclaimed the other, laughing aloud. "A bagged fox! But come
now," he continued, in a gayer tone; "what report do you make of that
fair west countrie which I hear you have been visiting lately? Was Sir
John flourishing when you were there? And what adventures did you meet
with?"

"Sir John was quite well, and apparently prosperous," replied Smeaton;
"that is to say, till the very day I came away, on the morning of
which he was apprehended, and sent, I imagine, to the Tower. As to
adventures, I met with few, and those not much worth relating."

He paused for a moment, asking himself if he should say more; but the
other again went on, inquiring--

"What of the lady, what of the fair lady, sweet Mistress Emmeline? Is
she as beautiful as I hear?"

"She is very beautiful and very amiable," replied Smeaton.

"And the son, Sir John Newark's son?" demanded the other. "They say
his father intends to marry him to Emmeline, in the hope of securing
his title to the estates, under all circumstances, and obtaining the
title of Baron Newark, whatever party is in power. Did you hear
anything of all this?"

"Nothing," replied Smeaton, thoughtfully. "From the character of the
man, indeed," he continued, "such a scheme is not unlikely; but I do
not think there could be any idea of carrying it immediately into
execution. Richard Newark is a mere boy, some years younger than
Emmeline herself. When first I saw him in London, he was rude, wild,
and strange; but he has wonderfully improved, both in intellect and
manners, in the troublous scenes we have gone through; and, though he
will ever be eccentric, and very different from other persons, yet
there are high and good qualities in him which make me love and esteem
him much."

"Is he with his father in London?" asked the other, quietly.

"No," replied Smeaton. "He came with me into Northumberland to join
the Northumbrian gentlemen now in arms; and, if Lord Kenmure agrees to
the proposal which I have brought him this evening for a union of the
two forces, you will see him in a day or two. In that case," he
continued, gravely, almost sternly, "I must request you to treat him
with all kindness, remembering that his father's faults are not his,
and that he is under my protection."

The other laughed, though the hint galled him a little.

"Oh, certainly," he replied. "Your high and mighty protection, Lord
Eskdale, will not be needed against me. I am not going to quarrel with
a boy, nor to cut his throat because his father's ought to have been
cut long ago. So there was no need of any threat."

"I used no threat indeed, Newark," said the Earl; "but, knowing you
are of a quick and impetuous temper, merely suggested considerations
which I thought would enable you to control it."

"Ay, right good," returned the other; "but there is no fear. I am not
quarrelsome now-a-days, Heaven knows, or there is many a man I might
quarrel with, without seeking out a boy for the purpose. But what, in
this rout and dispersion, has become of fair Emmeline herself? Have
you brought her too with you into Northumberland?"

"No indeed," replied the young Earl. "Sir John has taken her to London
with him."

"Damnation!" muttered the other. "Why," he added, after an effort to
control himself, "if he had left her behind at Ale, nothing would have
been so easy as to get her off to France."

"But he did not so leave her," replied Smeaton, calmly. "And now,
Newark, I will go and lie down in the room they showed me; for I have
ridden hard and far, and passed last night under a stone wall. I must
be up early, too, in the morning; for these noble lords here must come
to a speedy decision; and that decision must be communicated at once
to General Forster."

"Well, I shall stay here and make some way in the flagon," said the
other. "Though this stuff, which is just the same as they call
usquebagh in Ireland, is little better than molten fire, yet I feel
that my blood wants a little warming in this accursed cold country."

"Your blood was always hot enough," observed Smeaton, moving towards
the end of the stairs; "and that spirit is too strong for me. So good
night, Newark." And he retired to rest.

The other remained for two hours or more, till the candle had nearly
burnt into the socket. During that time, however, he drank little, but
was absorbed in deep meditation, chequered apparently by many various
feelings; for now he laughed, and now he looked stern and fierce.

"He did not recognise me," he muttered. "That is clear. No, not even
by the mark he put upon my forehead. He shall pay that debt; but not
just now. I can wait, and the interest will accumulate. We may make
something of this," he again muttered, after a long pause. "We may
make something of this. Let me see. John in prison on a charge of high
treason; William marries the heiress, and then--what then?
Why, services to the House of Hanover; one slight whirl of the
weather-cock, and all is safe, especially if one could bring some
intelligence with one. A Newark on the side of Hanover! That seems a
strange figure of speech. One starts at it. Why should I care for whom
I draw my sword? What have the Stuarts done for me? Ah! ha! ha!
Doubtless, there will be plenty to keep me in countenance."

Thus saying, he rose, and retired also to rest.

Before daybreak, on the following morning, the young Earl was up and
dressed, and the sky was still grey, when a messenger from Lord
Kenmure reached him, requesting his presence at that nobleman's
head-quarters. He found everything in bustle and activity, and he
could see at once that a resolution was taken.

"We have just come to a sudden determination, my lord," said Kenmure,
when Smeaton entered. "We find that Brigadier Macintosh, instead of
advancing at once, after passing the Frith of Forth, has marched
towards Edinburgh. He writes word, however, that he will join us
shortly with his infantry, if we can maintain ourselves for a few days
in the south, and gather together a body of cavalry. We have,
therefore, resolved to advance as far as Rothbury to effect our
junction with General Forster. It will then be necessary to retire
across the border, and take measures for keeping up our communication
with Macintosh. We shall consequently be your companions, instead of
your followers, on the march."

In an hour from that time the troop was mounted, and on its way; but,
when in full array, its numbers and its equipment were inferior even
to the young Earl's expectations.



CHAPTER XXXIII.

It was on the evening of the brightest day which had shone for the
last fortnight, when the Earl of Eskdale, accompanied by Mr. William
Newark, under the name of Somerville, and followed by their two
servants, rode into the small town of Rothbury. They found the place
all gay and busy, the news of the advance of Lord Kenmure having
reached it some hours before, and spread joy and expectation amongst
the disheartened gentlemen of Northumberland. Half-a-dozen times, in
riding through the little street, the young nobleman was stopped to
inquire how far distant was the Scottish force; and his reply of "Half
a day's march" seemed to give universal satisfaction.

One of the readiest to accost him was Van Noost, who, after having
received his answer to the first question, ran on by the side of the
Earl's horse, telling him, with great pride and satisfaction, that he
had taken upon himself the duty of engineer and armourer that he had
repaired and polished innumerable guns and pistols, and cast some
thousands of bullets for the service of the forces.

"Your Lordship's quarters are quite ready for you, too," he cried. "I
have taken care of that. All the Keanton men are lodged together in
those two white houses; and in the one on this side is a capital
apartment for you, next to the quarters of Master Richard. By the
way," he continued, "a boy has arrived from Ale Manor with a large
packet for you, which should have come to hand six days ago; but the
poor lad has had to hunt us all over the country; and it is wonderful
how he has escaped the enemy; for he has been in the very heart of
General Carpenter's dragoons at Newcastle, and brought us intelligence
of all his doings."

A few steps more took them to the house which Van Noost had pointed
out; and Richard Newark came down to the door to meet his noble
friend. He greeted him with every mark of joy and satisfaction; but
glanced his eye, from time to time, towards Smeaton's companion with a
look of inquiry and distrust. He rambled on, indeed, in his usual way,
saying, as the Earl dismounted and gave directions regarding the
horses and the servants:

"Well, Eskdale, so you have brought us the Scots. Now there is hope of
doing something; for all this marching and countermarching is poor
stuff; and I have felt like one out of a flock of sheep, driven hither
and thither by the shepherd's dog. The man does not hear me. The
Scotch wind has blown away his hearing. Eskdale, I say, there is a
large packet come for you from Ale, addressed to you in Madame
Culpepper's own peculiar cipher. I had a thousand minds to break it
open; for I longed for news, and I am sure there must be some for me.
But a seal--I don't like fingering a seal. Strange that a little bit
of red resin, under the effect of our prejudices, should be stronger
than an iron box!"

Smeaton shook him warmly by the hand, and, requesting his companion of
the march to follow, entered the house with his young friend, who
asked, in a low voice--

"Who have you got there? His face does not please me."

"It is, nevertheless, the face of a relation of yours," replied
Smeaton. "I will introduce him to you as soon as we are alone; but let
me see this packet. It may contain news of importance."

At the top of the first flight of steps were two good rooms, one of
which, on the right hand, was retained for the use of the young
nobleman; and here he found the packet which had been mentioned.
Breaking it open at once, he perceived that it contained two letters
for himself, and two for Richard Newark. Giving the latter instantly
to his young friend, he invited Somerville to seat himself before he
opened the letters which bore his own address, although one of them,
in a small delicate hand--more like that of a lady in the present day
than one of those times--seemed too precious to be long delayed. As
soon as he had shown this piece of attention to his guest, he
retreated into the window, and eagerly broke the seal of the letter
addressed as I have mentioned. He was not deceived. Emmeline's name
was at the bottom of the lines that were written upon the page; and,
with a beating heart, he read words which might well have come from a
more experienced mind or a less tender and affectionate heart. Yet
love and tenderness were evident throughout, as the contents may show.


"My beloved Husband,--I snatch a moment and an opportunity to write to
you, knowing what you must feel, but not knowing what you are doing.
Anxious as I am to hear where you are, and all that you can tell me of
your proceedings, I fondly believe that you are more anxious still to
hear of your Emmeline. I am in London, in a small lodging near the
Tower, at number thirty-two, in Tower Street, surrounded by the
servants of my cousin, Sir John Newark, and, as he believes, cut off
from all communication with other persons by their means. Amongst
them, however, is one planed there by her who has befriended us at Ale
Manor, and who has found means to assure me that he is devoted alone
to my service. He will contrive to convey this to Devonshire. The time
allowed me is but short.

"And now, what shall I say to you, my dear husband? I need not speak
of love and gratitude. I need not tell you how my whole heart is
devoted to you. I need not say how earnestly I wish it were possible
for you to come yourself, and either claim me as your own in the face
of all the world, or take me home in secret to spend my life with you
in quiet retirement and content. But I must beseech you on no account
to venture near this city, unless you can do so in perfect safety; to
sacrifice for Emmeline no security, to run no risk, and above all, not
to let affection for her--that eagerness to see her which I am sure
you feel--nor the indignation which you must experience at the conduct
you have met with, induce you to take any part in the struggle for the
crown of these realms, which your own calm and ever just judgment does
not warrant. I am sure you will not, and yet I write these words
because I feel that it will be a comfort to you to know that Emmeline
has no selfish wish to be gratified at your expense. Consult your own
honour; consult your own dignity. Think of her; love her for ever, but
do not let one thought of her, one feeling for her, influence you in
circumstances where duty and honour are concerned, knowing that your
honour is far dearer to her than her own happiness or her own life.

"Oh, how I long to see you! How I long to tell you, dear Henry, all I
have suffered, all I have thought, all I have felt--to pour out my
whole soul and heart to him who has alone seen and known them. But let
not my longing have the least weight with you. Act as if I had never
existed, or as if you had never known me; but let the memory of your
Emmeline be as the miniature-portrait of one well loved, ever nearest
to your heart, and think, whenever you think of her, that she is
blessing you, and praying for you, and beseeching Heaven to guide,
preserve, and prosper you in whatever course your own wisdom and God's
grace shall lead you.

"I know not how to end my letter. The words seem so strange that I
have to write; and yet I am--I feel--I know I am--

   "Your affectionate and dutiful wife,

      "EMMELINE ESKDALE."


Smeaton, with all his warm and strong enthusiasm was not a man of
that soft and melting character which tender feelings, and what was
then called "sentiment," easily moved to tears. In those days, and for
nearly a century afterwards, there was what I may call a lachrymose
school, which was weeping on every occasion where anything touching
presented itself or could be found. He was not of this school, and
hardly knew of its existence; yet the words of his dear and beautiful
Emmeline brought the moisture into his eyes, and he turned to the
window that no one might mark what he considered a weakness.

The other letter contained merely a few lines from Mrs. Culpepper; but
they were not of much significance, merely informing him that Sir John
Newark was lodged in the Tower to await trial, that the accompanying
epistle had come from the Lady Emmeline, together with the letters
addressed to Mr. Richard Newark, and that she herself, Mrs. Culpepper,
was most anxious to hear of his proceedings, pointing out at the same
time the boy who brought the letters as one, whose wit and conduct
justified the fullest confidence.

In the mean while, Richard Newark had opened the two letters addressed
to himself, which were both in his father's hand, and had been written
evidently under the idea that they might be opened and read before
they were forwarded. The first was dated Exeter, and contained but a
few lines, which were to the following effect:


"My dear son,--I beseech you, as soon as you receive these, to set out
and join me without any delay. Should I be removed from Exeter before
your arrival, you will easily gain intelligence of where I am, along
the road. Follow quick, and delay not, as you value the love of

   "Your affectionate father,

   "JOHN NEWARK."


The second letter was more in detail, and in not so mild a tone. It
told the young gentleman that his father was detained a prisoner in
the Tower, that his cousin Emmeline was lodging in the neighbourhood,
desiring an opportunity of serving her uncle and guardian, and that
she required protection and assistance in her desolate and solitary
course. Sir John then went on to say, clearly with a view of conveying
his complete submission and attachment to the government, that he had
heard, with great pain, a rumour that his son had taken part with
those who were attempting to subvert the existing government, and
establish the sway of _the Pretender_, and he went on to command him,
on his duty to his father, to separate himself from all such rash and
disloyal persons, and immediately make the best of his way to London,
taking up his abode in the house which had been engaged for his cousin
Emmeline.

Richard Newark concluded the reading of his letters with one of his
wild laughs, and then turned his look to Smeaton, who was still
standing in the window, with his eyes fixed upon the lines he had
received from Emmeline.

"Well, noble Earl," said the lad, "what news have you?"

Smeaton beckoned him up, and, with a sudden determination, put
Emmeline's letter in his hand.

Richard Newark started at the first words, and his cheek became
somewhat pale. For the moment he went no farther, but laid his finger
on the line--"My beloved husband." He said nothing; but his look was a
question, and Smeaton answered--"Even so, Richard." At the same time,
he slightly raised his finger and looked towards the other side of the
room, where Somerville, or William Newark, was seated, fondling the
hilt of his sword, and observing everything while he affected to
observe nothing. Richard caught Smeaton's hand in his own, and wrung
it hard, saying, in a low voice:

"I am sorry I have dragged you into this thing. You should have gone
after her. You can go even now."

"Impossible, Richard," replied Smeaton, in the same low tone; "but
_you_ can, and you must. My station, my age, my name, my family, all
forbid me to quit this cause when I have once embarked in it. Such is
not the case with you. Emmeline requires protection, assistance, and
support. To you I trust her in the fullest and most implicit
confidence, and I beseech you to fly to her and to give her that aid
which I cannot--I must not--attempt to afford."

"No, no," cried Richard, aloud, with a laugh, "no, no!" And then,
suddenly breaking off, he exclaimed: "But you promised to introduce me
to a relation, noble Earl. Confer the favour, I beseech you. I am poor
in such things. I have but one father and a cousin in my purse; and I
am avaricious of more wealth."

Smeaton put away his letters, and introduced his young companion to
William Newark, begging Richard to get hold of their Quartermaster and
find good quarters for their visitor.

Richard suffered his cousin to shake him by the hand, but eyed him
still like a shy fiery horse, glancing askance at the approach of an
unskilful rider. The other, however, was all ease and self-possession,
rejoiced exceedingly, as he said, to see his young cousin, spoke with
expressions of regret of Sir John's confinement in the Tower, and
cursed the chance which deprived the cause of so strong an arm and so
skilful a head.

He then began to talk of his quarters, and Richard led him away to
seek them with an air which he seemed to think very satisfactory, but
which Smeaton, who knew the lad better, judged to be anything but an
indication of amicable feelings towards his newfound friend. The young
nobleman's thoughts, however, were soon engrossed in other matters;
for Emmeline's letter reawakened many a pleasant, many a painful train
of reflections, and he gave himself up to memories for more than half
an hour, before he turned his steps towards the quarters of General
Forster.



CHAPTER XXXIV.

It is wonderful how rapidly Somerville, as he called himself, gained
to all appearance upon the good opinion of his young cousin. They
became quite intimate. Richard found out for him a very comfortable
room, sat and talked gaily with him for more than an hour, and then
left him with a promise to come and sup with him _tête-à-tête_ that
night, that they might talk over matters of family interest.

Quarters had not been procured for William Newark too soon; for hardly
an hour had passed ere a troop of some seventy men entered the town,
headed by a person named Douglas, whom good old Mr. Robert Patten
terms a gentleman, but who, nevertheless, followed the ancient and
honourable occupation of horse-stealing upon the border. In the bustle
and confusion which attended the congregation of a body of between
three and four hundred men, most of them calling themselves gentlemen,
in the small town of Rothbury--little farther communication took place
between Richard Newark and the Earl of Eskdale. They met once, and
Smeaton thought fit to give his young friend a hint in regard to the
character of his cousin.

"He was always wild, rash, and intemperate," he said, "yet with a
great deal of shrewdness, which deprived him, of one excuse for the
commission of follies. He cannot be said to have committed any from
mere thoughtlessness, and I do not think that your father feels at all
well disposed towards him."

"Doubtless," replied Richard; "nor do I. I don't like that cut upon his
forehead. It is an ugly gash, resembling the one you gave the fellow
at the back of Ale Head, when they were carrying away Emmy. It is
quite as well to mark a friend that we may know him again. I don't
think your handwriting on that fellow's head can be mistaken."

"You let in light upon me," said Smeaton, gravely; "and, if your
suspicion is correct, I think him more than ever to be avoided."

"To be watched, noble friend--to be watched," returned Richard, with a
laugh.

"I am the best watchman in the world. I recollect waiting three hours
without moving hand or foot--I don't think I winked an eye--watching
with my cross-bow for a hare, till Miss Puss came out, hopping, on her
hind legs, with her ears up and her whiskers wagging, and I hit my
mark. People call me wild and foolish; but I can always watch and make
something of it--and I _will_ watch now."

The concluding words were said with peculiar emphasis, and the moment
he had uttered them, he turned away and plunged into a little crowd
which had gathered round the last comers.

It was night when the two cousins sat down to their supper together
which William Newark had taken care to make as good and plentiful as
the circumstances would permit. He had even contrived--Heaven knows
how--to get two or three flagons of tolerable wine; but he did not
show at first any inclination to drink deep, and began the
conversation with topics very different from those which chiefly
occupied his thoughts.

"Our numbers are swelling," he said, as soon as the servants had put
the food upon the table and retired. "That was a large troop which
came in this morning, and I saw a whole crowd of foot mounting the
white cockade."

"Oh, yes," replied Richard Newark. "The horse were a goodly body;
thieves, sheep-stealers, smugglers, cattle-lifters, all well to do in
the world, and expert in their professions. Take care of your purse,
cousin of mine, if you have got one, for transfer is easy amongst
gentlemen of that class. As for the infantry, poor men, they only come
in for disappointment. It is wonderful how much more zeal than
discretion there is in infantry. If soldiers were only things to be
fired at and not to fire again, we should have had one of the
best-equipped armies of infantry in the world by this time. Thousands
have come in with a sweet petition for arms; and, though they have
been daily sent away with the assurance that we have no arms to give
them, they still march in, offering their services."

"I should think arms would be easily procured from your western side
of the country," observed Somerville. "You are so near the coast of
France, and have such excellent places for landing them."

"Ale Bay, for instance," added Richard, with a sharp look, and then a
laugh. "Ay, but the worst of it is, Cousin Bill, that the people at
Ale are always watching for something or another; and he would be a
cunning man who could land without being caught. My father knows that,
or he would not have lived there so long."

"Ay, he cannot choose where he lives now, poor fellow," responded
William Newark; "but I should think he would be somewhat uneasy at
leaving our fair cousin, Emily, there. Take some wine, Richard."

"Emmeline, Emmeline," cried Richard, pouring out for himself some
wine, "not Emily; how ignorant you are! But he is not at all uneasy
about leaving her there, because he has taken her with him." And he
laughed quite like a fool.

"Taken her to the Tower!" exclaimed his cousin. "I did not know they
would receive a prisoner's family with him."

"Nor I either," replied Richard; "but they have not received her; she
lives near with the servants and people, and my father took her to
keep her out of harm's way. I have often heard him say that, if he had
anything he wished to keep secret and snug, London was the place for
the purpose. Now Emmeline is just in that case, and therefore you see
he acts upon principle. Oh, he has a head, has he not? The Hanover
people won't get it off so easily as they imagine; for he knows how to
take care of it, as well as how to use it."

"Ay, doubtless," said the other. "And so the lady lives near the
Tower, does she?"

"In good sooth," answered Richard, in somewhat of a mocking tone. "But
what matters that to you, cousin of mine? It is a long way from this
place to London. If you had a telescope, you could not see her."

"That would depend upon its strength," replied William Newark,
"although, as I know not rightly where she lives, I could not well
point it. In what street does she dwell? I know London thoroughly."

He spoke in an easy indifferent tone, judging that the lad would
readily betray the place of Emmeline's abode, and making no allowance
whatever for that shrewdness which is often joined to great
simplicity.

"Oh, Heaven knows," replied Dick. "It is in some street, and the street
has got a name; but what that name is has passed from my noddle these
six hours, and the letters, as in duty bound, I put into the fire."

"Ha! you have had letters, have you?" exclaimed his cousin. "Who were
they from, and what news did they give you?"

"They were from my father," replied Richard, "and gave me no news
whatever, but merely commanded me to leave off soldiering, and go to
London directly."

William Newark paused, and meditated for a moment or two, while
Richard watched his countenance, keenly and searchingly, but with no
more appearance of interest than if he had been marking the progress
of a shadow on the wall. He saw a variation in the expression of his
cousin's face; and, in truth, a total change had come over his plans.
But Richard said nothing, quietly leaving the other to develope his
own purposes.

"Do you know, Richard," said William Newark, at length, "I think your
father is very much in the right in ordering you to join him in
London, both on your account and his own. Your staying here in arms
might damage him very much, and even bring his head to the block."

"Indeed!" ejaculated Richard. "What! cut off the father's head for the
son's fault? That is reversing the line of succession, I think, and is
neither heraldry nor justice."

"It sometimes happens, however," answered his cousin; "and the people
will naturally say, that you would never have joined the insurrection,
being so young, if your father had not prepared you to do so.
Therefore, if you love your father, and would save his life, you had
better do as he bids you; I might say, indeed, if you love yourself,
and would save your own life, you would do so."

"I don't much care about my life," replied Dick; "but I have some
small notion of honour."

"There is no honour to be got here," replied the other. "I am a man of
honour too, and would cut any man's throat who said I was not; but I
intend to leave these people, and that very speedily. Between you and
me, Dick, there is neither honour, profit, nor safety to be had here.
This insurrection will not succeed. Here are two generals with mighty
armies of three or four hundred men, and neither the Englishman nor
the Scotchman has the slightest knowledge of military matters. Kenmure
and Forster are two quiet country gentlemen, who never saw a shotted
cannon fired in their lives. They will get all who follow them into
some horrid scrape, where you will be able to do nothing but hold out
your hands for the king's troops to come and tie them. There will be
disgrace, and ruin, and punishment. If there was a chance--if their
own folly in appointing incapable country gentlemen to command in
military operations did not deprive the cause of all likelihood--if we
were going to fight like men instead of being trapped like sparrows,
which will certainly be the end of it--I would let no danger daunt me.
But as it is, Dick, I fairly tell you I shall march for London. You
may do as you like."

His cousin's words were evidently not palatable to Richard Newark, who
sat gloomy and silent for a minute or two, with his eyes bent upon the
table, saying nothing, till his Cousin exclaimed, with a laugh--"Come,
take some wine, Dick. It will cheer you."

"No," replied Richard, and pushed the flagon from him. At length he
went on, setting his teeth hard--"Well, I will go. I can do them
little good, and can be of more service to true-hearted folks there
than here. I will go, cousin of mine. When do you set out?"

"Early to-morrow," replied William Newark. "I don't think it needful
to tell Kenmure or Forster that, having been accustomed to serve under
generals, I do not like to be commanded by bumpkins. I can write all
those sweet things afterwards."

"I must tell Eskdale, however," said Richard Newark. "I cannot leave
him without explanation."

"Take my advice, and do not say a word," answered his cousin. "He will
only try to persuade you to remain by arguments you should not listen
to."

"Not he," cried Richard Newark, with a scoff. "All his arguments go
the other way. He has never ceased teasing me to go to London after my
father, and to take care of Emmeline, and all that. However, I'll
consider of it."

"Indeed!" exclaimed William Newark, in evident surprise at what he
heard of the young Earl's conduct; and than he bit his lips to prevent
himself smiling while he thought, "What a set of fools these people
are! Surely one good head would be a match for a thousand of them."

Conceit is always an adjunct to cunning, and indeed is that adjunct
which most frequently renders fruitless the dexterity of its
companion. William Newark was mistaken in his calculations of Richard
Newark's character; and, though every now and then he felt some
misgivings from certain sharp turns of expression used by his young
relation, he could not divest his mind of the idea that Richard was a
mere pliable and eccentric boy, whom he could soon find means to twist
into any shape he pleased. "I will use him as a tool," he thought, "to
work my own purposes; but I must make haste. While his shrewd father
remains in the Tower the stage is clear for me to play what part I
please. Once let him get out, and I may meet with more than my match."

Richard Newark would drink no more wine, and soon after rose to return
to his own quarters. He promised his cousin, however, to be ready to
ride with him early on the following morning, with the full resolution
of keeping his word. When he got beyond the door, however, he laughed
aloud, and muttered, "Egad! What a fine thing it is to be called a
fool! Men are always showing you their plans when they think you
cannot make any use of the knowledge. Master William, you want
watching, and you shall have it. I will be your shadow till I see you
safe beyond the seas again. Ha, ha! The fool thinks to get hold of
Emmeline, not knowing she is another man's wife already. He shall find
himself mistaken."

With these thoughts he walked slowly to his own quarters, debating
with himself whether he should tell Smeaton of his intentions. It was
more in accordance with his character to set out without communicating
with any one; but still his heart was kind and affectionate; and, when
he reflected upon the pleasure it would give to Emmeline to receive a
letter from her husband, he soon made up his mind. He found the young
Earl seated quietly in his room, and alone; and a long conversation
took place between them which I need not dwell upon here. Richard,
indeed, did not tell his friend all his motives for the step he was
about to take. He did not even mention that William Newark was to be
the companion of his journey. He had no skill in explanations, and
very often found it difficult to explain the motives of his actions to
himself, rarely if ever attempting it to others; and in this instance
he would have been obliged to enter into long details from which he
shrank.

For his part, the Earl felt a sensation of relief and thankfulness,
not easy to be described, when he heard Richard's resolution. To see
the kind-hearted lad placed beyond the perils attending upon a
desperate enterprise and a hopeless cause, would have afforded in
itself much matter for rejoicing; but to know that Emmeline, in the
difficulties and discomforts which surrounded her, would have the
support and assistance of one so affectionate, true, and honest, took
a great part of the heavy load from his heart. The conversation
naturally turned to his marriage with Emmeline, in regard to which
Richard evidently entertained some curiosity, and Smeaton succinctly
detailed to him the whole facts, sparing the name of his father as
much as possible. He then applied himself to write to Emmeline in such
a manner as to prevent the possibility of any evil result, if the
letter should fall into the hands of others; and, having done so, he
committed it to the charge of his young companion, and bade him good
night, never doubting that he should see him on the following morning.

The fatigues which Smeaton had undergone during the four preceding
days made him exceed his usual period of rest by a few minutes; but,
on rising, he found, to his surprise, that Richard had been gone more
than an hour.



CHAPTER XXXV.

Many men were in the Jacobite army, both in the south and in the
north, who, judging of the future by the present, and by the
appointment of the most incompetent persons to offices of high
command, clearly foresaw that a catastrophe of a dark and terrible
kind must await the insurrection. That catastrophe, however, as far as
the little body collected in the south was concerned, was now
approaching with great rapidity.

I shall not trust to my own pen for the details of all that occurred
during the next few days, but will merely abridge, and render a little
more clear, the account of an eye-witness who shared in all the perils
of the time, but contrived in the end, by a timely recantation and
abundant testimony against his companions, to slip his own neck out of
the halter into which he aided to place theirs.

Up to the time indicated in the last chapter, General Forster, as he
was somewhat ludicrously called, and the gentlemen who accompanied
him, had entertained sanguine hopes of being able, after their
junction with Lord Kenmure, to surprise the important town of
Newcastle-upon-Tyne; but, before the evening of the eighteenth of
October ended, all such expectations were dispelled by the
intelligence that General Carpenter, a man of great experience and
decision, had thrown himself into Newcastle with one regiment of foot
and three regiments of dragoons. This was a force which they had no
means of opposing successfully, and great anxiety was felt for the
junction of the Scotch troops. That junction was effected on the
morning of the nineteenth, in an open piece of heathy ground, broken
by the remains of what was once an extensive wood, and known as
Rothbury Forest.

With no slight eagerness the two forces examined each other as they
approached; and, if the gentlemen of Northumberland felt some
disappointment at the scantiness of Kenmure's numbers, the Scotch
gentlemen experienced, perhaps, more at seeing their English friends
so ill provided with horses and arms. Lord Kenmure's little force,
consisting of four squadrons of horse, certainly displayed much more
the appearance of a royal army on a miniature scale than the irregular
body of the Northumbrians. Armed with good stout broadswords, and
mounted on strong sinewy horses, they advanced with trumpets sounding
and colours displayed, and surrounded by a chosen body of gentlemen,
was borne what they called the standard of King James, formed of blue
silk richly embroidered with the arms of Scotland on one side and the
thistle on the other, while long streamers of white ribbon hung from
the corners, likewise embroidered in gold with the words--"For our
wronged King and oppressed country." "For our lives and liberties."

The whole force when united made at this period a body of about six
hundred men; and, a hasty council being called, it was determined
immediately to march towards Wooler as preparatory to a retreat into
Scotland, which had now become inevitable. It was much to be feared,
indeed, that General Carpenter would not suffer them to effect this
object; but, happily for them, the intelligence that Brigadier
Macintosh with a large body of Highlanders had crossed the Frith of
Forth, and was in full march for the south, had reached that
distinguished officer and Lord Kenmure simultaneously; and, unable to
obtain exact information as to Macintosh's strength or line of march,
Carpenter judged it inexpedient to leave so important a place as
Newcastle without other defence than the somewhat doubtful loyalty of
the inhabitants. From Wooler the insurgent force marched straight
towards Kelso, seizing arms wherever they could find them, and also
appropriating to themselves any public money they could lay hands on.

About the middle of the day, however, they all halted on a wild moor a
few miles from the town, having received information that it was
occupied by Sir William Bennet of Grubbet, with a considerable
force--that the streets were barricaded, and several pieces of cannon
placed in position. It was soon discovered, however, that Sir William
Bennet, who was only supported by a body of militia, had taken fright
at their approach and quitted the town, leaving some store of arms and
ammunition behind him. Intelligence was also brought that Macintosh
and his Highlanders were advancing rapidly from Dunse, and it was
accordingly determined to march to Kelso at once, both in order to
join their friends, and to possess themselves of the arms which Bennet
had left behind him.

The Scotch cavalry passed through the town without halting, in order
to meet their Highland friends at Ednam Bridge; but the Northumbrian
gentlemen remained in Kelso, which had been appointed as the general
place of rendez-vous. The expectation of finding any great store of
the munitions of war were disappointed; for nothing appeared except
some small pieces of cannon taken from Hume Castle, a trifling
quantity of gunpowder, and a number of good serviceable broad swords,
which had been concealed in the church, and which proved a great
relief to the half-armed Northumbrian troops. A short time after,
Macintosh and the Highlanders entered the town, with their bagpipes
playing, and the sturdy old veteran who commanded them marching at
their head. The forces now assembled consisted of some fifteen hundred
infantry and six hundred cavalry, and many a good citizen of Kelso,
who had not yet dared to avow his attachment to the House of Stuart,
now shouted loudly for King James, adding thereunto much outcry
against the obnoxious measures of the House of Hanover.

"No malt-tax! no Union! no salt-tax!" was vociferated by several
hundred voices; but the worthy citizens confined themselves to words,
keeping cautiously clear of any overt acts.

The following day, being Sunday, was spent in religious observance,
and on the Monday, the whole troops being drawn up in the
market-place, King James III. was proclaimed with great solemnity, and
a lengthy manifesto read, sufficient to tire the patience of the best
disposed. Not content with dealing more in words than actions, the
insurgent force continued idle in Kelso till the Thursday following,
wasting the three most precious days which were granted to them in the
whole course of the insurrection. The troops of General Carpenter were
fatigued and discouraged; his numbers were inferior to their own; the
whole south of Scotland was open to them, and every inducement,
combined with opportunity, to lead them in an active and energetic
course.

But division was in their councils. One proposed that they should
cross the Tweed and boldly attack Carpenter's force before it had
recovered from long and frequent marches; another strongly urged to
march to the westward in order to join the western clans, and, with
their aid, attack Dumfries and Glasgow, threatening the flank and rear
of the Duke of Argyle's army, while Mar, attacked him in the front.
The English gentlemen, on the contrary, strongly advocated a sudden
and rapid incursion into England; declaring their conviction that
multitudes would rise and join them as they passed through Lancashire,
while Carpenter, with his wearied and harassed forces, would be unable
to follow, or might easily be defeated if he did. Every officer of any
experience opposed this insane suggestion; but, nevertheless, it
prevailed, and each day brought over fresh converts to that opinion
from amongst the thoughtless and inexperienced.

It would seem that no decision had been arrived at, when they marched
for Jedburgh on Thursday the twenty-seventh of October, and hesitation
and some symptoms of panic were very evident on the way. Twice or
thrice, an alarm of the enemy being upon them created great confusion,
ending in merriment when they discovered that parties of their own
troops were the cause of all their apprehensions. At Jedburgh a halt
of two days took place, and here the fatal resolution of entering
England was adopted. An unexpected difficulty, however, arose. The
Highlanders--at the suggestion, it is supposed, of the Earl of
Wintoun, who was highly popular with them--piled their arms, and
refused positively to march out of their own country.

After long discussions, they were persuaded to proceed as far as
Hawick, and indecision again appeared in the councils of the leaders.
The opinion of the wiser party had gained strength by the resolute
opposition of the Highlanders, and so far prevailed, that a
considerable party of horse was detached towards Dumfries, with the
promise of being followed by the whole of the army. Hardly had this
body departed, however, when another change of resolution took place.
The English gentlemen received, or pretended to have received,
dispatches from Lancashire, assuring them of the support of twenty
thousand men, and an immediate march into England was determined.
Messengers were sent to recall the party which had been detached to
Ecclesfechan; but the great difficulty still remained with the
Highlanders, who once more positively refused to cross the border.
Persuasions, entreaties, and even bribes, as it is said, were urged
upon both leaders and men, and proved so far successful that a
considerable body at length agreed to march. More than five hundred,
however, adhered to their first resolution, and, separating into small
parties, abandoned the army, and took their way homeward by the west.
The other diminished body of the insurgents marched on towards
Carlisle by Langholm and Longtown, gaining here and there a few
volunteers, and hearing rumours of parties of the enemy's cavalry
hovering about them in different directions. Money, which was much
wanted, was gained at several places by the confiscation of the public
revenues; but the people in general looked upon the progress of the
Jacobites with indifference, and no signs for some time appeared of
any general movement in favour of the Stuart cause.

After crossing the border, Forster assumed the command of the whole
army, in virtue of a commission from the Earl of Mar; and, wisely
judging that Carlisle, though but poorly garrisoned, was too strong
for his small force, he marched to Brampton, and thence advanced
towards Penrith, where a bloodless triumph awaited him over a body of
men collected to oppose his march. The Lord Lonsdale, strongly
attached to the cause of the House of Hanover, and, though still very
young, a man of courage and decision, had collected a considerable
body of the horse-militia of Westmoreland and Lancashire, and added to
it the _posse comitatus_ of the shire. He was strenuously aided by the
Bishop of Carlisle, and the numbers collected at a little distance to
the northward of Penrith amounted to no less than fourteen thousand
men.

This undisciplined mob was drawn up on a small moor across which the
insurgent army was likely to pass, with some woody lanes and broken
ground at a little distance in the front. Intelligence of their
proceedings had reached the insurgent leaders, but they resolutely
marched on, prepared and eager for battle. The Highlanders, it would
seem, were the first who issued from the lanes; but they did so in
good order, and immediately extended themselves in battle array. The
cavalry followed; but the very sight of anything like a disciplined
army was sufficient to overthrow all confidence in the _posse
comitatus_; the spirit of flight seized on them all; arms were thrown
away in haste, and the whole country was speedily covered with the
flying multitude. Lord Lonsdale, left with a few of his own servants,
was forced to take refuge in Appleby Castle, and the Bishop of
Carlisle was hotly pursued on his road to Rose Castle by a worthy
belligerent clergyman, who had formerly been a curate in his diocese.

The flight and utter dispersion of the enemy gave great encouragement
to the insurgents, and the spoils of the field supplied them with many
articles of which they stood in great need. Arms, horses, and powder
were taken in considerable quantities, and they entered Penrith the
same day in good order, and flushed with success. They were very
civilly received in the town, and further stores, as well as a
considerable sum of money, were obtained. After refreshing themselves
for a day at Penrith, the insurgents moved on to Appleby, without
receiving any of the reinforcements which they expected. On the
contrary, indeed, it would seem that many desertions took place; for
no great confidence was entertained by the men in their commanders,
and little obedience shown except in moments of urgent danger.

From Appleby to Kendal, and thence to Kirby Lonsdale, they marched on
unopposed; but neither from Westmoreland nor Cumberland did they
receive any of the reinforcements they expected, till on their march
from the latter place towards Lancaster. Here, however, they were
joined by a number of the Roman Catholic gentry, and were farther
encouraged by the news from Lancashire, which represented the whole
county is ready to rise and join them. Manchester, then comparatively
an insignificant little town, but somewhat famous for the unruly
disposition of its inhabitants, declared for King James, with very
little reserve, and began to raise and arm bodies of men for his
service. Lancaster, however, had well nigh proved a stumbling-block in
their way; for Colonel Chartres, and some other officers attached to
the House of Hanover, were anxious to take measures for its defence,
and even proposed to blow up the bridge. The fears, however, and,
perhaps, the disaffection of the majority of the inhabitants,
frustrated all their designs; and, marching into the town, the
insurgents possessed themselves not only of money, arms, and
ammunition, but also of six pieces of cannon, which they found in a
ship belonging to so peaceable a personage as a Quaker.

These cannon were speedily mounted upon wheels; and during the stay of
the insurgent force, which was from the seventh to the ninth of
November, small parties of gentlemen continually came in, unhappily
for themselves, and joined in an enterprise which was now fast tending
to a disastrous conclusion. It must be said, however, that they aided
greatly to hurry the catastrophe. During the whole of the long march
from Jedburgh to Lancaster, the leaders of the insurrection, as may
well be supposed, had been anxious to obtain information of the
movements of the enemy's troops. General Carpenter's small corps was
that which they principally dreaded, and we are assured that Forster
spared neither money nor exertion to gain intelligence. It was known
that Carpenter had immediately pursued the insurgent force as soon as
he learned their line of march; but he was reported to be at a
considerable distance in their rear; and a certain Mr. Paul, another
Jacobite clergyman, who had doffed the cassock to assume military
costume, brought positive intelligence into Lancaster that General
Carpenter was at Barnard's Castle in Durham with men and horses sorely
fatigued. The other Lancashire gentlemen, who came in from time to
time, assured Forster and his companions that no body of King George's
troops could approach within forty miles without their receiving
intelligence of it; and, in an evil hour, it was determined to waste
more time in Lancaster merely as a resting-place, even after the plan
had been decided upon for advancing into a district where a great
accession of force was to be expected.

That plan was generally as follows; viz., to march direct upon
Manchester, where the cause of the House of Stuart had numerous
partisans, to seize upon Warrington Bridge, and to extend their
operations to Liverpool, of which they hoped easily to make themselves
masters. Orders were even given, it is said, for advancing at once;
but the acquisition of cannon, and the rumours from the country,
rendered them somewhat apathetic; so that from Monday the seventh,
till Wednesday the ninth, of November, they remained refreshing
themselves in Lancaster, while the forces of their adversaries were
drawing closer and closer around them. The ninth proved a very wet and
stormy day; but the march towards Preston was begun early in the
morning; and it would seem that some misgivings began to be
entertained regarding the intelligence which had been received from
the country. Rumours spread through the small force, that large bodies
of King George's troops were being collected to oppose their advance;
and the necessity of taking up a position which would enable all their
friends in the midland and western counties to join them was felt, but
too late.

The roads were bad, and rendered nearly impassable by torrents of
rain; the infantry struggled on, fatigued and somewhat disheartened,
and even the cavalry found it difficult to advance in anything like
order. Accordingly, at the small town of Garstang, it was determined
that the foot-soldiers should halt for the night, while the cavalry
pushed on for Preston, and dislodged a small body of dragoons
quartered in that place. The dragoons did not pause to be attacked,
but marched out at the approach of the insurgents, who rejoiced as for
a victory, and took up their quarters in the town. On the following
day, Thursday, the tenth of November, the whole of General Forster's
force was reunited in Preston, and the usual ceremonies of proclaiming
King James III., and praying for him, by name, in the church, took
place.

At Preston another delay occurred. No intelligence of the enemy's
proximity was received; and, instead of marching upon Manchester on
the Friday morning, as had been first determined; a halt was resolved
upon until Saturday. During the whole of Friday the insurgents enjoyed
themselves in Preston with a feeling of the utmost security, and it
was not till the troops were under arms on Saturday that any
intimation was received of the rapid advance of General Wills upon
Preston.



CHAPTER XXXVI.

It was during the evening of the ninth of November, on which the
cavalry of the insurgent army marched into Preston, that a party
consisting of three mounted men followed the course of one of the
small deep lanes, of which there are several in that part of the
country. The cavalry was proceeding in the same direction by a wider
road to the right; and one of the horsemen of whom I have spoken lost
no opportunity of getting upon any elevated spot, in order either to
descry their course of march, or to study the features of the country.
Wherever the banks of the lane sloped down and showed a way to higher
ground, wherever a gate gave exit to the right or left, that horseman
passed through, and gazed about him. The two others were less
watchful, and seemed contented enough with the shelter of the lane.
One of them was tall and not very well made, riding his horse in a
slovenly and slouching manner; the other fat and short, not the most
graceful cavalier in the world, but one who showed a very discreet
adherence to the saddle.

The rain poured down in torrents; the mud was up to the horses'
fetlocks; and a cold cutting wind blew the half-congealed drops into
the travellers' necks and ears, notwithstanding an ample garniture of
cloaks, with collars raised high and fastened tight before. It was as
miserable an evening for a journey as could well be conceived;
nevertheless, the latter of the two who remained in the lane contrived
to keep his companion in a merry humour, eliciting frequent peals of
laughter from him, partly at the matter of his anecdotes, partly at
the manner of the narrator.

"Ay," he observed, with a strong Scotch accent--"ay, Mr. Van Noost,
you are doubtless a very clever man in your way, and pretty gods and
goddesses, shepherds and shepherdesses, you can make out of cold lead,
as you tell me. But I can do more than that."

"I don't doubt it, my lord," replied Van Noost, chuckling a little at
the idea, notwithstanding. "You are a great man, and I an a very
insignificant one; yet I should not mind working against your lordship
for a wager as to who should cast the best Diana."

"Let her alone, man, let her alone," said Lord Wintoun, with a laugh.
"Keep to Venus; you may beat me there. I should beat you at Dianas;
for I should cast them in cold iron suited to such a hard-hearted
goddess. Lead is the fitter stuff to make Venus of; for we all know
that she was every now and then in the melting mood. Why, man, if
these fellows, who call themselves generals, and have no more
knowledge of war than my nag, would but give me a leathern apron and a
sledge-hammer, I could do them more service than they'll ever let me
do them at the head of a regiment. In the one case, I could make them
pikes to arm the common people; but in the other, I have the command
of a regiment, as it is called, which is to obey everybody but me."

Van Noost's curiosity was excited, but not by the most important part
of Lord Wintoun's reply.

"Why, my lord," he said, "how came your lordship to learn such a trade
as making pike-heads?"

"It came by nature and a little observation," replied the Earl. "You
see, dearly beloved Van Noost, I thought it just as well at one time
to travel; and I had a strong inclination to see more of the world
than the lords and ladies in it, which, after all, are like a sheaf of
arrows, all cut to one length and tricked out in the same manner. So I
put by my dignity for the time being, dressed myself up as a
blacksmith's boy, got a place with one of the dingy craft, and engaged
to blow the bellows."

Van Noost burst into a loud laugh, observing:

"You soon got tired of that, my Lord, I dare say?"

"Not I," rejoined Lord Wintoun. "I blew bellows and hammered iron for
two whole years, ate pumpkin soup, drank sour wine, and cooked my own
omelette for a treat on Sundays."

Van Noost laughed again, thinking he would rather not have partaken
his Lordship's fare; but Lord Wintoun went on, saying:

"Nay, more, I took many a buffet from the blacksmith's daughter, with
a patience which might have lessoned Job; and one time his wife would
have basted me with a broom, but I took up a red-hot horse-shoe and
threatened to set fire to her petticoats, though they were too short
in all conscience to suffer much curtailment decently. The good woman
laughed, like a merry soul as she was, and laid down the broom, while
I quenched the horse-shoe."

"Perhaps the daughter was the attraction," said Van Noost, slyly. "Did
she give nothing but buffets, my noble Lord?"

"Faith, nothing to me," replied Lord Wintoun; "and, as to attractions,
those which she had were more vast in extent than peculiar in power.
She was well nigh as big as her father; and, though she had two great
black eyes, they were not much better than one; for they drew to a
point so close towards her nose, that it was like a cross fire from
the angles of a fortress; and, if she saw anything at a distance, I am
sure it must have been reversed. Then her mouth! Heaven and earth, her
mouth! The very memory is painful. When it was shut even, it looked
like what we Scotchmen call a slit in a haggiss; and, when it was
open, it looked like the entrance of the bottomless pit. It could
never have been borne, had not the nose counterbalanced it."

Again Van Noost laughed heartily, exclaiming:

"The love! The joy! What happiness your Lordship must have had in her
dainty society!"

"Good faith, I have fared worse than I did there," said Lord Wintoun,
"and, I fear me, shall fare worse still. A man without a head is of no
use to himself or any one else, Master Van Noost; and I doubt that I
shall long have one upon my shoulders. How does yours feel? Is it
shaky?"

"Not very easy, my good Lord," replied Van Noost, in a dolorous tone.
"At times a certain sick qualm comes over my stomach, as if I had
eaten half-cooked pork. But does your Lordship really think the case
so bad?"

"As bad as it can be," answered Lord Wintoun. "Take my word for it,
Van, your fat will soon be as cold and hard as one of your own leaden
figures, unless you contrive to be politic."

"But what would you have me do?" inquired the poor statuary. "I think
things seem going well enough for my part."

"Poor man!" ejaculated Lord Wintoun. "You have eyes, doubtless, for
the heads of your statues, but none it seems for your own. However,
here comes your pet, Lord Eskdale. Ask him. What do you think he is
galloping about the country for, upon the top of this knoll and over
that hill, and through the other gate, or leaping his weary horse over
a fence like a cat through a window? You don't know? I'll tell you
then. He is looking out to see if he can perceive, through all this
rain, the enemy's troops, which he knows will be upon us before three
days are over. He is not to be fooled, like your Forster and Kenmure,
with the fancy that we shall be allowed to march through the land at
our leisure. Well, Eskdale, do you see them?"

"It is hardly possible to see at all," replied the young Earl; "but I
see nothing except our own men on the right, and the church of
Preston, I suppose, a few miles off."

"What do you think Carpenter is doing?" asked Lord Wintoun.

"In truth, I do not know," returned Smeaton; "probably marching after
us till he knows he has us in a net, ready to fall upon us the moment
it is advisable. We shall make a good fight of it, though, I doubt
not; for most of these gentlemen have strong hearts, if not strong
heads."

"Ay, the garret story is very empty," said Lord Wintoun. "Do tell this
good poor man, Eskdale, why you have refused all command in our great
army."

"Simply, because I would not have any responsibility," returned
Smeaton, "in an enterprise which is destined to end in misfortune and
disgrace. There is no officer of experience whom I would not have
served under, in whatever capacity he chose to assign me. But Mr.
Forster, though a very good country gentleman, I dare say, is no
soldier; and it requires fully as much skill and experience, my noble
friend, to command an army as to cut out a wooden spoon. Any one who
may attempt either without some practice will cut his fingers and
spoil his work."

"Then, my good Lord, why do you not leave them?" interrogated Van
Noost, with a very unpleasant choking sensation about the throat.
"Here is this noble Earl of Wintoun trying hard to persuade me that it
would be better for me to run."

"Faith, Van Noost, I think he is right," replied Smeaton, with a
smile, adding, in a half-joking manner--"The difference is very great
between you and us, Van Noost. You see, as you are fully as broad as
both of us, you run a double risk of musket bullets. Besides, if we
should be taken, great men can find friends to pray for them. Now, who
would pray for you, I know not, but your cook and your garden
shepherdesses. Seriously, however, with all the zeal in the world, I
don't think you can do much good here to the cause, and none to
yourself; and, if you would take my advice, you would ride away,
surrender yourself to some magistrate, submit to penance for your
sins, and save your body from Carpenter's carving-knives or your neck
from a hempen cravat. Our honour keeps us here; but you have not much
honour to gain by staying with us; and, in the circumstances, can lose
little by leaving us. I give you my word that, had I not been burdened
with an Earl's title, I would have left the force the moment that the
mad determination of marching into England was taken. I am not bound
to serve under lunatics; but it would give too severe a shock to the
cause for two noblemen suddenly to abandon it."

"That is what brought me back to Langton," said Lord Wintoun; "for I
had fully determined to go, rather than be led to slaughter like a
sheep, and that without even the object of my fleece or my flesh. But
I asked myself how many would follow my example if I went; and that
thought brought me back."

The idea of being led to slaughter like a sheep did not seem at all
palatable to poor Van Noost, and he continued silent and dismal during
the remainder of the way. Smeaton took up his quarters with several
other gentlemen, forming a part of the little force which they
called the gentlemen volunteers, who had no separate command, and
who served under no particular leader. Some supper was hastily
prepared; and all the usual resources of soldiers employed for whiling
away anxious thought and making the present pass cheerfully. The
claret-flagon--for, both at Lancaster and Preston, good wine was
found--circulated freely amongst the higher classes of the insurgents,
while the fiery aid of brandy, either plain, diluted, or made into
punch, kept up the spirits of the rest.

Of his favourite beverage, punch, Van Noost, who sat at the same long
table as the Earl of Eskdale, drank so much that the young nobleman
felt some apprehension lest his salutary terror should pass away, and
he should abandon his purpose of quitting the insurgent army and
making his submission; but towards the close of the evening Van Noost
came up to him, and whispered--

"I shall depart early to-morrow, my good Lord, and go as straight to
London as they will let me. Has your Lordship anything to write that I
can take charge of?"

Smeaton was inclined to seize the opportunity eagerly; but a moment's
reflection showed him that, by giving his humble friend even a single
letter, he might endanger the good man's safety, if he should fall
into the hands of the enemy. He therefore called him aside, and
charged him with a few words to Emmeline. They were sad as well as
few; for his own expectations were all dark and gloomy, and he did not
wish to raise up hopes which he felt certain would be disappointed. He
said little more to Van Noost, and that was by way of warning. He
urged him strongly to give himself up voluntarily to any magistrate,
if he found the least difficulty in making his escape through the
country; to submit unconditionally, but at the same time to avoid
making any statements which could either betray the condition of those
with whom he had been in companionship, or deprive them of any
advantages in the present or the future.

He then retired to his chamber, saying he was fatigued, and would seek
rest; but the rest he took, though he might find bodily repose, was
not that of the mind. He slept not at all for the next three hours,
but remained seated motionless, near the window, in deep thought.



CHAPTER XXXVII.

At an early hour in the morning of Saturday, the twelfth of November,
a good deal of bustle and commotion filled the streets of Preston.
Private gentlemen and military officers were seen running hither and
thither; and all who had command of regiments or squadrons, as their
little bodies of men were called, received a summons to attend a
council at General Forster's quarters at the Mitre inn. The Earl of
Eskdale was not one of these, however. He had refused all command,
notwithstanding pressing importunities; for his military skill had
been seen and appreciated, even by those who would not follow his
advice in the time of action. Nor was he, to say the truth, even up at
the hour when this bustle began; for, as I have shown in the preceding
chapter, he had been watchful and sleepless during the greater part of
the night; and, when he did at length lie down to rest, fatigue
brought on a deep and lasting slumber, from which all the noises of
the awakening town were hardly sufficient to rouse him. He had, it is
true, many bitter and painful thoughts to deal with in his waking
hours; but those thoughts had little to do with the conduct of the
expedition in which he was engaged; and over him, as over a great many
others who had joined the ill-starred enterprise, had come a sort of
hopeless indifference, which left him little care of what might be the
next move in the game of folly and madness then being played.

About half past seven, however, his servant, Higham, entered the room
where he slept, with a white and anxious countenance. Smeaton was up
and partly dressed; and, looking quietly in the man's face, he said--

"Well, Higham, give me my sword. I suppose the Hanover troops are upon
us, by your chop-fallen look."

"Ah, my lord, God forgive us our sins!" exclaimed the man. "It will
come to fighting this time; for they say that General Wills, with ten
thousand men, is marching upon Preston, and can already be seen from
the top of the windmill."

"I suppose you do not object to the fighting, Higham," said his lord.
"You have always been foremost in brave words, my good friend; and I
shall certainly expect that you now act up to them."

"I will do my best, my lord--I well do my best," replied the servant;
"but I had rather not be killed just now, if I could help it. I have
done a great many wrong things, I am afraid; and I should much like
time to repent."

"It is not a very long operation," observed Smeaton, with a faint
smile, continuing his dressing. "God's grace can give repentance at
any time, and render it effectual. A short prayer, my good friend, and
a strong resolution to do better for the future, is what I would
advise you to make, and then come and fight like a man on the side you
have espoused."

"Ah, but, my lord, I have wronged you too," said Higham; "and that is
one of the things I would repent of and atone for."

"Well, well," responded Smeaton, "I have no time now to hear
confession of sins. I must go and see what is the truth of all this
you tell me. As for the rest, I freely forgive you, my good man, for
any little offence, known or unknown by me, which you may have
committed against me. It is very unlikely that both you and I should
come alive out of this day's work, if matters are going as you say;
and, whichever is taken, let as part in charity. I forgive you with
all my heart, Higham, for any fault in your duty to me."

"Ah, my Lord!" cried Higham, with a rueful look, "if you knew all--"

He did not conclude his sentence, however; for, at that moment,
without any application for admittance, Van Noost burst into the young
nobleman's room; and Smeaton, anxious for the good man's safety, made
a sign to the servant to leave them together alone.

"Have you heard the news, my Lord, have you heard the news?" cried Van
Noost, in a state of great excitement, but without any signs of fear.
"General Wills will be here in a few hours, they say."

"So I have heard," rejoined Smeaton; "but, my good friend, I did hope
that you were far away before this time."

"I am very glad I was not," said Van Noost, rubbing his hands; "for I
have a plan--such a plan!--for the defence of the place, if your
Lordship will but propose it to General Forster. It cannot fail. It is
sure to succeed."

Smeaton had not always the best opinion of Van Noost's plans, but the
man spoke very earnestly; and the young nobleman replied, with a
smile--"Well, Van Noost, tell me what it is; and, if it seem to me
feasible, I will propose it to those in command."

"It is this, my noble lord," replied Van Noost; "and it must succeed.
General Wills is advancing from the side of Wigan with an overwhelming
force. In two hours, they tell me, he will be in the town. If we run
away and leave it empty, he will pursue us with his cavalry without a
minute's delay; so that we shall all be cut to pieces before we can
make our escape. Now, what I should propose is this: to make an
appearance as if the town were defended, even after we are all gone;
for, by seizing the bridge over the Ribble we can delay them for a
while."

"That bridge will, of course, be maintained at any cost," remarked
Smeaton; "but, if General Wills is marching from Wigan, we shall not
be able to pass that way without fighting."

"No, my good lord, no," replied Van Noost. "I do not propose to escape
that way. Of course it will take some time to reconnoitre the bridge;
but let the men retreat from it into the town and follow the main body
which, in the mean time, must be marching down Fishergate Street to
the meadows. I have examined all the ground well. There are two good
fords for horse or foot across the Ribble. Then the road to Lancaster
is open before us; and we shall have a town which we can defend, or a
port from which we can sail."

"I doubt much if you will find that road open now, Van Noost," replied
the Earl, "though undoubtedly the possession of those fords is a great
object; but I do not yet see how you will make General Wills imagine
the town is defended after we have left it."

"Give me but two hours," replied Van Noost, "and I will dress you up
men of straw, so like Highlanders that you would swear you saw their
bare knees."

Smeaton began to laugh.

"Indeed, my good lord," continued Van Noost, somewhat warmly, "the
plan is a good one. I could make fifty or sixty of these men, and
dispose them in beautiful groups at the ends of the streets. The
General would never think of making his attack upon a town apparently
defended, without long preparations and skilful dispositions. In the
mean time we should be getting to Lancaster."

"No, no, Van Noost," replied Smeaton. "As stuffed men cannot fire
muskets, General Wills would not long be deceived. Your idea regarding
the defence of Ribble Bridge, and your suggestion to seize the two
fords, are both very good, and I will mention them to General Forster
as coming from you; but spare me the straw Highlanders. And now, my
good friend, let me urge you most strongly to take your departure from
this place. Indeed I was in hopes you were gone long ago. Depend upon
it, Van Noost, all who remain here are destined either to die in
Preston or to be made prisoners. Had we a man of experience and
military skill to command us, we might fight successfully, or we might
retreat successfully; but, as it is, there is no hope of either. You
are not a fighting man, Van Noost; you can gain no glory here; and, if
you will take my advice, you will not delay a moment, but ride out of
the town as long as the way is clear. And now, farewell, my good
friend. I can stay no longer; for I must go to ascertain what is the
exact truth of the reports which have reached me."

As he spoke, he shook his companion kindly by the hand; and poor Van
Noost, with drooping head, and tears in his eyes, walked down with him
to the door of the house.

The young nobleman took his way along the street towards the Mitre
Inn, observing the faces of all the persons he met. The streets were
very full; for the news of General Wills's approach had spread
rapidly; and Highland clansmen and night-riding borderers, Lancashire
Roman Catholics, and Northumbrian gentlemen, were all hurrying out to
gain farther intelligence of the enemy, or to ascertain the plans of
their own leaders. Those whom Smeaton actually met, were generally of
the inferior class--the common men as they were called; and he
remarked an expression of dogged resolution in their countenances from
which he argued well. I mean to say he inferred that their resistance
would be obstinate and vigorous, if not successful: so that perhaps
good terms might be made, even if a victory could not be won. On
entering the Mitre Inn, however, he found a number of gentlemen in the
passage, and many more in a front room on the ground floor, who were
waiting to hear the result of deliberations which were going on in an
upper chamber. Amongst these he perceived anything but the same looks
which he had remarked in the men of inferior station. There was an
appearance of discouragement, of doubt, in some instances of
apprehension, which was very painful to witness; and the only one who
seemed perfectly at his ease was the Earl of Wintoun, who now took no
part in the councils of General Forster. The silence amongst such a
multitude of persons was very remarkable; few spoke at all, and those
who did speak raised not their voice above a whisper. The Earl of
Wintoun himself sat on an old mahogany stool, playing with his sword,
which he held between his knees, and humming a Scotch air with the
most perfect appearance of indifference.

"Well, Eskdale," he said, as the other approached him, "have you heard
the news? The Elector's people are marching from Wigan to attack us,
they say."

"Then we shall have what might have been expected long before,"
replied Smeaton, in a cheerful tone--"some good hard blows; and God
defend the right!"

"Amen!" ejaculated the Earl. "I wonder what they intend to do. They
are a long time in deliberation. But, after all, that may well be;
for, while men of science would see that only one thing is to be done,
our good friend Forster has the whole world of imagination to go
through before he can fix upon a plan. Doubtless it will be something
very extraordinary when he does draw the lot by chance."

"Nay, nay, I dare say we shall do very well," replied the young
nobleman. "Forster is a brave man, and I strongly suspect that
unconquerable resolution is what will be more serviceable here than
anything. Of course, ordinary precautions will be taken, and it seems
to me that much generalship will not be required."

"The men will fight to the death," said a young gentleman of the House
of Athol, who was standing near. "If we had but heads amongst us, we
have plenty of hearts." And then, with a knitted brow, and a sharp
glance of his eye round the chamber, he added, sternly, "But we will
have no trifling, no cowardice."

"Of that I imagine there is little chance," replied Smeaton, coolly.
"But here I think are the officers coming down, Captain Murray."

A noise was heard of many feet upon the stairs; and the next moment
Forster himself looked into the room, and, when he saw Lord Winter and
the young Earl of Eskdale, advanced towards them, followed by several
others. His look was cheerful and assured, and his manner composed and
courteous.

"We have much needed your advice, my lords," he said; "and I truly
wish you would sometimes join our councils. You have doubtless heard
the rumour that General Wills is advancing from Wigan. I can hardly
believe the fact, and am now going out with a small party to ascertain
if it be so or not. If it be, I trust we shall give a good account of
this general."

"Doubtless," replied Smeaton, calmly. "Is it fair to ask if you have
determined upon any plan of resistance?"

"Not fully," replied Forster; "and I shall be glad of any suggestion
from your experience, my lord."

"I doubt not, sir," replied Smeaton, "that you will take all requisite
precautions, such as securing the fords over the Ribble, and taking
possession of Ribble Bridge, which, when I examined it, seemed to me
very capable of being converted rapidly into a strong point of
defence."

"Ay, indeed!" said Forster. "Does not it lie somewhat distant from the
town for that purpose?"

"Assuredly," replied the young nobleman, "if you are determined upon
making your defence in the town; but the high ground about it, the
number of hedges and lanes in the neighbourhood, and many other
advantages, afford an excellent position behind the bridge for a small
army furnished with cannon, and principally, consisting of infantry,
opposed to a larger force, strong in cavalry alone. At all events,
there can be no harm in seizing the bridge at once; for it could be
well defended for several hours by a mere handful of men."

"True, that is very true," replied Forster; "and it shall be done
immediately. Colonel Farquharson of Invercauld, may I ask you to
undertake this task, and seize upon Ribble Bridge with one or two
companies of foot?"

The gallant soldier whom he addressed, with hardly a word of reply,
left the room to obey the order he had received, and Forster, after
having mused a moment, said, in a loud tone--

"To delay the enemy's advance for a few hours is as good as a victory;
for, beyond all doubt, the greater part of the Elector's troops will
come over to the army of their real sovereign unless they are led into
battle immediately before they have time for consideration."

This was evidently said for effect; and it is wonderful at what
delusive hopes men will catch in desperate situations. The expectation
spread of great desertion from King George's troops as soon as the two
forces should be in presence; and, after pausing for a minute or two
more, Forster proceeded to the door of the inn, where his horses were
already waiting for him. He took but very few men with him; and, from
amongst all the gentlemen present, his strange choice of a companion
fell upon Robert Patten, the clergyman, who, in the military spirit
which had seized upon him, acted the part of aide-le-camp throughout
that eventful day. The assembly at the Mitre did not altogether break
up on his departure; but to the silence which had pervaded the lower
part of the house succeeded a confused and buzzing clamour of many
voices, in the midst of which Smeaton and the Earl of Wintoun quietly
walked away together.

"We seem to be in a very active but not very industrious state," said
Lord Wintoun to his companion, in a quiet and rather sarcastic tone.
"What do you intend to do, Eskdale?"

"I shall order my horse and ride out of the town, to see the state of
things with my own eyes," replied the young Earl. "Not very
_industrious_ indeed! Why, the people are all sauntering about, as if
we were waiting for the opening of a fair, and not of a battle."

"A sheep has its throat cut," said Lord Wintoun, "whether it struggles
and kicks or not; so perhaps it is best to undergo the operation
quietly. You are not going to leave us, I suppose, Eskdale?"

"No, my good lord, no," replied Smeaton. "I will be back in Preston
before a shot is fired; but I must say, King James has treated us
rather hardly in placing us under the command of so incapable a man."

Thus saying, he turned up the little street which led to the inn where
he lodged, and, calling aloud for his servant, ordered him to bring
round his horse at once.

"I wish, my lord," said Higham, in a very subdued tone, "you would let
me speak with you for a few minutes. I have a good deal to say."

"By and by, Higham, by and by," replied Smeaton. "At present I am in
haste; for I would fain see into this matter with my own eyes."

The man seemed about to speak again; but his lord made an impatient
gesture with his hand, and, as soon as the horse was brought up,
mounted and rode away. As he went through the narrow streets and lanes
which then led out into the country, he heard more than one unpleasant
observation from the groups which were collected everywhere.

"There goes another," said one man.

"I wonder any one stays who can get away," said a second.

"Ay, ay, these high Tory gentry take care of themselves," observed a
third.

But no one attempted to stop the young nobleman's progress; and to all
idle comments he was very indifferent. Beyond the immediate
neighbourhood of the town, he found the country nearly deserted; the
distance to Ribble Bridge, in which direction he first turned his
steps, was somewhat longer than he expected; but, from the summit of a
little elevation upon the right, he perceived the small body of
Highlanders marching towards the spot which he had advised Forster to
occupy; and, still gazing round, a cloud of dust, rising at the
distance of several miles in the direction of Wigan of Lane, seemed to
show him that the advance of General Wills's army was something more
serious and substantial than mere rumour. A minute or two after, a
single horseman, dressed entirely in black, was seen galloping along
the road in the direction of the bridge over the Ribble. Smeaton
spurred forward towards him, instantly recognising Mr. Patten, and
saluted him with the inquiry of--

"What news?"

"Oh, they are coming, they are coming," replied the clergyman, with a
bold and assured face; "and I am just going to tell Lieutenant-Colonel
Farquharson to withdraw his men from the bridge and retire into the
town."

"In Heaven's name, upon what motive?" demanded Smeaton. "Has General
Forster formed any plan, or not?"

"Oh, he has formed a very excellent plan," replied the clergyman, with
a conceited air. "It cannot be put in execution, however; for the ford
above is not to be found. The General, my Lord, had determined to pass
the river and get into the rear of the enemy, or at all events attack
them on the flank, But as this has now become impossible, he wishes
Colonel Farquharson to retire and to confine the whole defence to the
town."

Smeaton looked at him with an expression of scorn and surprise, and
then, without any farther notice, turned his horse sharply, and rode
towards the banks of the river.



CHAPTER XXXVIII.

Smeaton struck the banks of the stream some little distance above the
bridge, and with a keen and rapid eye traced the whole distance within
the range of sight. He instantly marked a spot where there was a
gentle undulation of the ground, and where the river spread out wide.
"There must be one ford," he thought; but, not satisfied without
positive proof, he rode quickly on till he reached the place, and
pushed his horse through the water and back again. Then turning round,
he was tracing the stream towards the bridge, when he perceived Van
Noost mounted on a tall horse, and pursuing a course at an acute angle
with his own, as if tending towards Preston. The statuary rode on at a
rapid rate; and his short broad frame was agitated terribly by the
quick pace of his rough-trotting horse. The legs flew out; the
shoulders heaved at every stretch; and the bent back and head
leaning far over the saddle bow showed how he laboured in the
effort. The voice of Smeaton, raised loud to call his attention, made
him give a sudden start in the saddle which had nearly overset the
equilibrium--for he was no very skilful cavalier; but as soon as he
perceived who it was, he pulled hard at the right rein and rushed
across the little piece of open ground towards his noble friend.

"They are coming, my Lord, they are coming!" he cried, in a voice full
of excitement, evidently not of the most pleasant kind. "I have seen
their advance-guard myself. It is impossible to pass them; and I don't
know what to do. I must back to Preston, I suppose, even though they
catch me and cut my head off, leaving my body like a collar of brawn."

"Come here with me," cried Smeaton. "I will show you a way." And,
without waiting for a reply, he rode on to the ford he had discovered,
and pointed to it with his hand. "Over there, Van Noost," he said.
"Take the left-hand road, and then make a circuit, keeping to the
westward, till--"

"But, my Lord, my Lord," interrupted Van Noost, "they say General
Carpenter is at Clitheroe, or very near it."

"If you keep well to the west," remarked Smeaton, "you will come to
Garstang and Lancaster; but speed on, my good friend. No time is to be
lost."

"I shall never find it," replied Van Noost, with a rueful shake of the
head. "Cannot you come, my Lord, and show me the way?" The young Earl
smiled at the little kindly cunning of his poor friend; but he shook
his head, saying:

"No, no, Van Noost, I must back to Preston. Remember my message to my
dear lady, and tell her, if she sees me no more, that I loved her with
my whole heart to my last hour. Away, away, my good friend! No more
words."

Seeing the good man pass safely through the ford, he once more turned
his horse towards the bridge. When he reached it, he found that,
according to the orders which had been sent, Farquharson and his
Highlanders had abandoned its defence. He could just catch a sight of
the tartans winding up the narrow lane; but he paused for a moment to
gaze at the bridge before he rode after them. It was long, narrow,
flanked with stout stone walls, and every foot of the ground on the
Preston side was defensible. The young nobleman felt that a great
mistake had been committed; that _there_ was the place to fight, and
that upon such a spot a small and irregular army like that of the
insurgents, aided by cannon and sheltered by the hedges and high
banks, might have won a victory even against a superior force of
regular troops. He sighed as he turned away, and rode after the
withdrawing party. When he reached its head, he bowed to the
commander, with whom he had a slight acquaintance, saying:

"So you have been withdrawn from the bridge, Colonel Farquharson."

"Even so, my good Lord; and now for the rat-trap," replied
Farquharson, with a light indifferent laugh, adding, the moment
after--"We shall bite our catcher's fingers, however, I dare say; and
that is some satisfaction."

"But a poor one," rejoined Smeaton. "I would rather have flown at
their throats by the side of the Ribble."

So saying, he rode on.

All was bustle and activity when he entered Preston; the scene was
completely changed from the morning; the excitement of preparation,
the prospect of speedy battle, the very occupation of mind and body,
had restored spirit and energy everywhere except amongst the superior
officers, who, conscious by this time, of their general's incapacity,
entertained no very sanguine expectation of the result. Some, sullen
and gloomy, watched all that was taking place, giving a few
directions, but sharing little in the toil; others remained in the
inns and private houses in melancholy despondency; but others, amongst
whom was the young Earl of Derwentwater, laboured cheerfully and
zealously in the construction of the barricades which were already in
rapid progress. Their example cheered, and their looks inspirited, the
men; and Smeaton was soon in the midst of them, labouring with the
best.

Bid little time was allowed for the construction of the defences, and
that little was only obtained in consequence of General Wills being
unable to conceive it possible that Forster had abandoned so important
a point as the bridge over the Ribble. He hesitated in attempting to
pass it; he caused the whole ground in the neighbourhood to be
carefully reconnoitred, fully believing that the hedges would be found
lined with musketry, and his march was thus retarded nearly an hour.
At length, however, the first men of his small army were seen from the
tall house of Sir Henry Haughton; but, by that time, all was prepared
to receive them. Four main barricades had been erected, with a number
of smaller ones in different streets; the windows of the houses on
each side, together with the lanes and inclosures, had been garnished
with infantry as far as the smallness of the force would permit, and
everything showed the determination of making a resolute defence. But
the leaders of the insurrection had, strangely enough, determined to
defend only what may be called the heart of the town; so that the
barricades had not been pushed to the entrance of any one of the
streets, and several narrow lanes gave the enemy an opportunity of
penetrating some way, at least, into the place completely unmolested.

Smeaton found the barricades nearly half completed when he re-entered
the town. Following the example of the Earl of Derwentwater, he cast
off his coat and laboured with the best to complete the defence which
was being constructed in the main street, a little below the church.
He could not refrain, however, while pausing for a moment to take
rest, from expressing his surprise to old Brigadier Macintosh, who
stood near, that the barricade had not been placed at the extreme end
of the street towards Wigan.

"If the enemy push forward," he said, "with anything like vigour, a
third of the town will be in their hands in five minutes."

"My good Lord," replied the old officer, somewhat sullenly, "even if
you were right--which I think you are not--it is too late to mend the
matter now. To defend the extreme ends of the streets, where there are
so many narrow lanes and avenues, would require three times the force
of foot I have at command."

"This barricade, at all events," observed Smeaton, "might have been
placed near the corner of that other street a hundred yards below--I
mean just near the sign of the Ram there. It would then command both
the approaches, and the flank could no more be turned there than here.
If the enemy get possession of that tall house, they will gall us
sorely."

"Ah!" retorted the old officer, "young men are always wiser than their
elders."

And, turning away, he walked to the other end of the barricade.

"Let him alone, Eskdale," said Lord Derwentwater. "He is as obstinate
as an old pig, and gets perverse and sullen in proportion to
difficulties and dangers."

"I _will_ let him alone, my good Lord," replied the young nobleman;
"but I think it a duty to myself and to all, to do what I can to
remedy the mistake which has been committed. You keep the men to their
work, and I will be back in a minute or two. That great cart, if it
could be brought down, turned over, and filled with stones and earth,
would make a very good defence at the corner there."

"What are you going to do?" asked Lord Derwentwater, seeing Smeaton
resume his coat and turn away.

"I am going to seek for Captain Hunter," replied Smeaton. "He is a man
of activity, resource, and shrewdness, and will, I doubt not, lend me
a few of his marksmen, if he can spare them, to occupy those houses
down below, so as both to keep them for ourselves, and to gall the
enemy in their advance up the street. Where do you think I shall find
him?"

"He is up with Miller and Douglas on the Liverpool road," answered
Lord Derwentwater. "Add my request to your own; the idea is a very
good one." And, while Smeaton remounted his horse and hurried away,
the other nobleman continued to animate the men, not only by his own
personal exertions, but by distributing amongst them all the money he
had about him.

In ten minutes, Smeaton returned with a body of some fifty men and
Captain Hunter, the borderer, whose moss-trooping propensities and
experience had rendered him a very serviceable man of action in any
great emergency. Passing the barricade, without speaking to any one,
they hurried on down the street till they reached the first turning
out of it, where, dividing into two bodies, the one dispersed through
the neighbouring houses on either hand, taking post at the windows,
while the other body, consisting of about twenty men, advanced some
way down the narrow lanes, which led out into the fields near the
entrance of the high road to Wigan.

In the meantime, Brigadier Macintosh had remained watching the
operation with his arms crossed on his chest; but the moment he saw
the men enter the mouth of the lane, he despatched a messenger after
them, to order them instantly back. They returned unwillingly, with
Hunter at their head; but those in the houses were suffered to remain,
and did good service throughout the day.

At some period during the morning, and before the attack actually
commenced, Captain Innes, with a body of about fifty Highlanders, was
thrown into the tall house belonging to Sir Henry Haughton which the
young Earl of Eskdale had pointed out; but they were recalled almost
immediately, and the house left to its fate. In the confusion and
hurry of that fatal day, it was not known who gave the order for their
advance, or that for their recall.

The cannon of which the insurgents had possessed themselves was
divided amongst the different barricades; but the difficulty was to
find gunners; for only one man in the whole army even pretended ever
to have fired a cannon in his life; and he, by the time the guns were
planted, had imbibed a sufficient quantity of brandy to render the
accuracy of his aim rather doubtful. A small powder-magazine was
established near the centre of the town, and a lame man, incapable of
any great exertion on foot, but zealous, active, and determined, was
appointed to carry supplies on horseback to the several barricades.

As soon as all the arrangements were completed, and the foot-soldiers
stationed behind the hasty works which had been constructed, the
gentlemen volunteers, as they were called, retired to the churchyard,
with their horses at hand, ready to sally out upon the enemy whenever
a favourable occasion occurred. General Forster established his
head-quarters at the Mitre Inn, with his horses at the door, ready to
carry him wherever his presence might be needed, and it is now
admitted on all hands that he showed no lack of courage or activity
during the day.

When all was ready, a sort of solemn pause succeeded to the bustle;
the noise and confusion died away in the town, and the occasional
subdued talking of people in knots, with, from time to time, a
loud-spoken word of command, or a call from one officer to another at
a distance, were the only sounds that arose in the streets of Preston.
From the fields and lanes beyond, however, came the beat of the drum
and the blast of the trumpet, nearer, nearer, nearer yet; first in one
spot, then from two or three different points around, showing that the
forces of King George had reached the outskirts of the city, and were
spreading themselves round it preparatory to a general attack. In
silent and awful expectation the insurgents awaited the appearance of
the heads of the enemy's columns. Sternly and steadfastly they gazed
over the barricades, and no sign of fear or wavering was visible; yet
it was a terrible situation, to be thus waiting inactive for the
commencement of a struggle which all well knew was for life or death.

At length, some boys, and a woman with a child in her arms, came
running up into the main street out of the lane in which Smeaton had
posted the party of Hunter's troop, afterwards withdrawn, and fled at
full speed towards Macintosh's barricade. They were suffered to pass,
and entered, exclaiming breathlessly--

"They are coming up the lane, they are coming up the lane!"

No body of soldiers appeared, however, for several minutes, and
neither drum nor fife was heard. At length, however, a young officer,
in his full uniform and with his sword drawn, entered the street
from the head of the lane, paused calmly in the midst, and gazed up
and down. In an instant, the word was given at the barricade, the
muskets were levelled, and the shot poured down the street. But there
the young officer still stood, now examining the barricade, now
raising his eyes to the houses on either side, amidst the rattle of
musketry and the whizzing of balls, as calmly as if he had been in a
drawing-room.

"Upon my life, that is a gallant fellow," said Smeaton, to the Earl of
Carnwath, who was standing near. "I wonder who he is."

"That is Lord Forester," replied the other nobleman. "I know him well
by sight. He is lieutenant colonel of Preston's regiment, the old
Cameronians. I did not know they would be brought against us. If he
does not mind, he will be shot down, poor fellow."

As he spoke; however, the young officer retired into the lane; but it
was only to return at the head of his regiment and to charge up the
street. A small body of dragoons appeared at the same time to support
the infantry; but a tremendous fire was opened upon the whole force,
both from the barricade and the houses around, which instantly checked
their advance; a number of the Cameronians and several of the dragoons
were seen to fall; and, drawing up his men across the street, Lord
Forester restored order which had been lost for a moment or two,
directing the men to keep up a sharp fire upon the barricade, while
detached parties from the rear and flanks stormed some of the houses
and took possession of the mansion of Sir Henry Haughton, which had so
imprudently been left undefended.

Though the troops of the government made no progress up the street,
they still remained firm in face of the barricade, and the drunken
gunner was now ordered to point and fire the cannon upon them. He
adjusted both guns before he fired either; but, from haste, stupidity,
or drunkenness, the elevation of the first he discharged was so high
that the ball, passing far over the heads of the soldiers, struck the
chimney of a low house at the side of the street, and brought it
thundering down upon the heads of some of Honywood's dragoons behind.
The other gun was more accurately adjusted, and the ball went straight
through the attacking force, killing and wounding several men in its
passage. All haste was made to reload the two cannons; and, in the
mean time, a continual sharp fire was kept upon the Cameronians from
the barricade and the houses round. Nevertheless, Lord Forester
maintained his ground; Haughton's house was filled with musketeers;
several other houses were taken after a severe struggle, and a
constant fire was kept up from the front upon the insurgents of the
barricade. At length, however, the young officer was seen to fall; but
he rose again immediately, and continued to give his orders, pointing
here and there with his sword, while one of the men tied a
handkerchief round his leg.

"A charge of cavalry," observed Smeaton, to Lord Kenmure, "would drive
them out of the town."

"Well, try it gentlemen, try it," said General Forster, who had just
ridden up, and was speaking to Lord Derwentwater. "Mount your horses
and follow me. We will get the brigadier to open a way for us."

Every one was in the saddle in a moment, and moved in good order down
the street, while Forster rode on before; and the fire of the King's
troops, passing over the barricade, struck down one or two of the
volunteers and several of their horses. As they approached the
barricade, no movement was made to let them pass out; and Forster was
seen speaking vehemently to Brigadier Macintosh, who, with a dogged
look of defiance, turned sullenly away just as Smeaton arrived upon
the ground. What had passed before, none of the other gentlemen heard;
but Forster now exclaimed, in a loud and angry tone--"Very well, sir,
very well. Please God, if we are successful, and your master and mine
ever obtains his rights, I will bring you to a court martial for your
conduct."

Then, turning to the noblemen and gentlemen who had come up on
horseback, he said, "Brigadier Macintosh objects to our making this
sally, my lords. We had better therefore retire again to the
churchyard, as there is no need of our exposing ourselves here when we
cannot be of service. My Lord Derwentwater, I will ride up to one of
the other barricades, and see if there is nothing to be done there;
for I feel that this inactivity must be painful to a body of zealous
and brave men, all burning for his Majesty's service."

Thus saying, he rode away; and the other gentlemen retired slowly up
the street, with the bullets still flying amongst them, conversing,
even in a laughing tone, upon what had taken place, and the conduct of
those with whom they were engaged.

"I hope Macintosh will not let them gain the barricade," said Lord
Derwentwater, looking towards Smeaton as the most experienced amongst
them.

"No fear at present, my lord," rejoined the young Earl. "He has stout
men enough with him to keep out any force they can bring against him
without cannon. He is a dogged resolute fellow too; and his honour is
now staked upon the result, as he refuses counsel and assistance. Do
you know where Colonel Oxburgh is, my lord? I have not seen him all
day?"

"In an ale-house, at his prayers," replied Lord Derwentwater, with a
laugh. "So I am told, at least. When I saw him this morning, he was
telling his beads with great devotion. And my good Lord Widrington,
too, is absent from amongst us; but he has the gout, you know."

Just as he spoke, a foot soldier ran up, saying, "They want more
powder, my lord, at the barricade. Have you any in the churchyard?"

"Not a spoonful," replied Lord Derwentwater, turning in at the gates
of the cemetery, while the bullets whistled thicker and more fiercely
up the street, as if the troops below had been reinforced, and a
gentleman of the name of Ferguson was struck from his horse, with his
leg shattered in a fearful manner.

"I will ride up and send some down directly," said Smeaton, galloping
on.

The firing still increased; and the street, rising with a considerable
slope, exposed any one passing along it near the top, more than even
at the barricade. But the young Earl passed unscathed, and, reaching a
narrow little court where the powder was piled up in bags, he found
the lame man, waiting on horseback with a considerable load behind
him, ready to set out in whatever direction he might be wanted.

"They are in great need of powder, my good friend," said Smeaton, "at
the brigadier's barricade; but pause a moment till the fire slackens a
little."

The man, however, put his horse in motion, and one of his companions,
who stood near, exclaimed, "You will be killed, Rob, to a certainty,
if you attempt to carry it up to the barricade now."

"I know that," replied the other, calmly. "That I cannot avoid; but,
as they want it, although I cannot carry it quite up to them, I will
carry it as far as I can." And, so saying, he rode on.

Smeaton turned out of the little court, and looked after him down the
street. He saw him pass the churchyard, and get nearer and nearer to
the barricade; but, while he was still at about fifty yards' distance,
he beheld the poor fellow fall forward on the horse's neck, clutching
convulsively at the mane. In another instant he would have fallen from
the saddle; but, before he did so, a ball struck the horse also; and
both went down together. Some men ran out of one of the neighbouring
houses and took the poor fellow up, while the powder was carried
forward to the barricade by others on foot.

But Smeaton's attention was now drawn another way by sounds which came
from a different part of the town. A loud shout like a cheer, mingled
with the report of musketry and artillery, showed that the battle was
raging fiercely there also; and, turning his horse, he rode quickly in
the direction whence the sounds proceeded, to see if anything was
wanted or could be done. Guided by the ear, he made his way down a
long narrow lane, which led out into the fields, and soon came in
sight of another barricade, at which Lord Charles Murray, a son of the
Duke of Athol, commanded. This young nobleman had seen some service as
a cornet of horse in the reign of Queen Anne; but he had thrown up his
commission at the commencement of the insurrection, and now appeared
at the head of a body of his clan, dressed in the Highland garb, and
covered with smoke and blood. The firing had ceased for the time; but
a good many dead and wounded men lay both before and behind the
barricade; and the young officer was leaning on his sword, speaking to
Patten, the clergyman, who was beside him on horseback.

"Ah, my good Lord," said the young nobleman, as soon as he perceived
the Earl of Eskdale, "I am sending Patten here for some aid from the
churchyard. We have had a sharp affair, as it seems you have had down
below; but we have beaten the Hanover people back for the present,
and, with a little aid, can maintain our ground till nightfall, which
is not far off, I see. You are welcome to share in our work. If you
will take a musket, there lies one in the hands of poor Jock Murray,
who had just killed a stout Londoner with it before he was shot down
himself. I hope it will be as fortunate in your hands."

"I hope so," replied Smeaton, laughing, and springing to the ground.
"Mr. Patten, if you send up men, send up my servant with them to hold
my horse."

The pugnacious clergyman promised not to forget; and in a few minutes
Higham came running up, long before the appearance of the expected
succour. The attack upon the barricade had been in the meantime
renewed, and a furious fire was kept up by both parties. Lord Charles
Murray was mounted on a pile of stones, giving his orders as coolly as
if out of all danger, and the Earl of Eskdale, at a part of the
barricade which had by some means been destroyed, was supplying by his
own skill and experience the inefficiency of the only gunner who had
been found to serve the two cannon which had been allotted to this
position.

The servant ran up with a boldness and activity which a little
surprised his lord; and when he received orders to look after the
horse, which had been left in charge of a Highland soldier, he
contented himself with tying the beast to a hook on a neighbouring
barn, and then, mounting the barricade close to where his master
stood, discharged a musket at the advancing enemy.

"What have you done with the horse, Higham?" asked Smeaton, somewhat
sharply. "I ordered you to take care of him."

"He is quite safe, my lord," replied the man, "and out of reach of the
fire. I do beseech you, let me have a shot or two at these men. They
killed my father when I was but a child--shot him at the back of his
own cottage door."

"None of these before you, Higham," said the Earl; "these seem all
mere lads. But do as you please if the horse be safe. Only come down
from the top of the barricade. You can fire as effectually from behind
it."

"Oh, my good lord, if you would but let me speak a few words with
you!" said the man, in an earnest tone. "When we have beat them back,
pray let me speak with you!"

"Well, so be it," replied his master, struck by the man's eagerness.
"But come down at once, my good fellow. Come down, I say!"

Almost as he spoke, Higham turned to obey; but he either missed his
footing, or some of the heterogeneous material of the barricade gave
way under his feet; for he suddenly fell headlong down behind the
defence.

The young Earl had not time to ascertain if he were hurt or not; for,
led on by their gallant officers with a loud cheer, the party of
assailants rushed forward to the charge, determined, apparently, to
storm the barricade. A well-directed and sustained fire from the
Highlanders, and from both pieces of cannon, however, checked them
before they were within a hundred yards of the defence, and they were
once more driven back in confusion.

A few minutes after, a party of fifty gentlemen volunteers came up to
support the weary defenders of the barricade; and when Smeaton turned
to look for his servant, the poor fellow was nowhere to be seen.

A very short space of time was allowed for enquiry or repose. The
troops of the Government were speedily rallied, and again brought
forward; but the effect of the reinforcement, both upon the energy of
the defenders and the heaviness of the fire, was soon perceptible to
the officers of the attacking body. Their men were repulsed more
rapidly than before, and fled in greater confusion from the hail of
shot that was poured upon them. Night was approaching; it was evident
that the barricade could not be carried by the force then before it;
and slowly and reluctantly the commander of the assailants withdrew
his force, just as the sky was growing dark. An angle of the road
concealed, in a great degree, their movements, and some men were sent
out over the barricade to ascertain whether the attack was actually
abandoned. But even after they returned, announcing that the
Government troops were in full retreat, a hurried and desultory
conversation was carried on amongst the officers and gentlemen within
the barricade, in regard to the events of the day.

Lord Charles Murray was almost ignorant of what had taken place at the
other points of defence; but the gratifying news was brought in that
the enemy had been repulsed at all points, except in front of
Brigadier Macintosh's barricade, where they still maintained
possession of some houses, and kept up a severe fire on all who
attempted to pass. There were many words, and even some laughter and
rejoicing, on the bloody spot where they stood, but little of what
could be called either conversation or counsel. Yet some ventured to
suggest one thing as advisable to be done, and some another; and Lord
Charles Murray, without expressing an opinion, gave some directions
for guarding the defence. Taking Smeaton's arm, he turned away,
saying--

"By my soul, I must have some food and drink, Eskdale. I have been
fighting here since two o'clock, and, though the men have had brandy
and beer enough, I have tasted nothing."

Smeaton walked away with him, unfastening his horse, and leading him
as he went. As soon they were out of ear-shot of the rest, his gallant
companion asked, in a low voice--

"And what do you think had better be done in this affair?"

"Give the men three hours' rest, and then either retreat upon
Lancaster, through the meadows, or attack General Wills in his camp,"
replied the young Earl. "He is evidently but little of a commander,
and I think we might have an easy victory before he is reinforced, or
effect a quiet retreat to a more defensible place, for the town is not
one half invested."

"We must abide the commands of our elders and betters, I suppose,"
replied Lord Charles, "though it is certain that, if Wills is a bad
general, Forster is a worse. However, here I stop to feed like a tired
horse, if I can. Will you come in and sup?"

"Thank you, no," replied the young Earl; "I must go to look for my
servant, who, I fear, is wounded, poor fellow!"

Thus saying, he and Lord Charles parted.

As Smeaton walked back to the upper part of the town, Preston
presented a strange and gloomy scene. The firing at the other
barricades had ceased; but still from time to time a single shot or a
whole volley was heard from the houses near Macintosh's barrier, where
either party had lodged itself; and there, it must be remarked, the
struggle continued throughout the night. The shops and dwellings were
all closed along the streets; the inhabitants kept carefully within
doors, and few people were met, except here and there a soldier
hastening from one point to another, a wounded man plodding painfully
to seek for relief, or a dead or dying man borne along by three or
four others. From different parts on the outskirts of the town rose up
a lurid glare, which lightened the vacant streets, showing that one
party or the other had fired some of the houses in the suburbs, and
the distant drum and trumpet-call from without, mingled wildly with
the sound of the bagpipe which was heard from two of the barricades.

The only groups of any size were collected round the doors of
different public-houses, which were kept open for the entertainment of
the men, and at these Smeaton received full confirmation of the fact
that the troops of the Government had, as he supposed, been repulsed
at all points. A feeling of triumph animated all with whom he spoke,
in which he was far from sharing; but it is not impossible that, had
the commanders been capable of taking advantage of the spirit of the
hour, a different result might have attended the defence of Preston.

Nowhere, however, could Smeaton hear of his servant; and, after a long
and fruitless search, he retired to his quarters, and threw himself
down to rest after his fatigues.



CHAPTER XXXIX.

The morning of Sunday the 13th dawned dull and heavily. The flames of
the burning houses had been extinguished without doing much damage,
although, had there been any wind, it is probable that Preston would
have been reduced to a heap of ashes. The firing from the houses
continued at intervals, and, once or twice, parties of King George's
troops appeared in the streets, but instantly retreated under a sharp
fire, by which several of the soldiers and officers were killed or
wounded. A small number of prisoners, too, were made by the
insurgents, and, amongst the common men, high spirit and resolution
were displayed, though the officers shared little in their
anticipations of success. It is true, the latter had better means of
judging; for the first prisoners that were made on that morning
brought the intelligence that forces were pouring in upon Preston from
different quarters, and that General Carpenter, with three regiments
of cavalry, had passed the night at the small town of Clitheroe, about
twelve miles distant. The next who came in informed them that General
Carpenter was within sight; and, a few minutes after, some of their
own men, from the higher buildings of the town, discovered his force
advancing at a quick trot.

The soldiery were eager for action, and murmured loudly at the
inactivity of their commanders. But no movement of any kind was made.
Forster, Lord Widrington, Colonel Oxburgh, and some others, continued
in close consultation at the Mitre; and Smeaton, after having obtained
all the information he could from the gentlemen who thronged the lower
story of that inn, walked away by himself, and, entering the church,
mounted as high as he could in the tower, to observe the motions of
the enemy without. Two or three gentlemen were there before him, and
they pointed out the newly arrived regiments of cavalry, which were
drawn up in fine order on the right of General Wills's army. Smeaton
said nothing, except "They have no cannon, I see," and continued to
gaze from the tower with very little satisfaction at the sight
presented. Two officers, followed by a small party of dragoons, were
seen to ride away at a slow pace from the main body of the army, and
to direct their course completely round the town, sometimes exposed to
view as they crossed the open fields and meadows, sometimes hidden by
the trees and hedgerows. From time to time they stopped; and, more
than once, a trooper was suddenly detached from the escort, and
galloped away to one of the regiments which were in position.
Immediately, a small body would advance, and, riding quietly on,
station themselves opposite to one or other of the many entrances to
the town.

To the experienced eye of Smeaton, the proceedings which were taking
place were very clear. He saw that a mind of greater intelligence than
that of General Wills was now brought to act against the insurgents in
Preston, that General Carpenter was changing all his predecessor's
arrangements, and that, in a very short time, the town would be
completely invested, and all chance of escape cut off. The thought of
abandoning the cause individually had never crossed his mind. He had
taken part in the insurrection most unwillingly; but, having done so,
he considered himself entirely identified with it. Nevertheless, he
could not see without a sigh the chance of the whole army effecting a
retreat pass away. But despair begets indifference, and, from the
moment he beheld the movements of General Carpenter, he felt that all
was lost. He hummed a gay French air as he descended the narrow
staircase from the tower; and, though his face was thoughtful, it bore
no trace of despondency.

Some gentlemen were gathering round the great gate of the churchyard,
and about to take up their old position within its walls; but the
young Earl turned towards the little door on the left, near which was
passing at the moment, on horseback, a merry Northumbrian physician,
named Alcock or Walker (for he had an alias), who had acted as
principal surgeon to the army during the preceding day. Anxious to
obtain some intelligence of his servant, Smeaton hurried after him and
laid his hand upon the bridle. The doctor seemed somewhat in haste;
but, as soon as the young nobleman mentioned the subject of his
anxiety, he replied:

"Oh yes, my Lord, yes, the poor devil is shot in the stomach; and, if
he have not the strength of an ostrich, he will not easily digest his
yesterday's supper. By the way, I recollect he was exceedingly anxious
to see you; but I did not know where you were."

The doctor seemed very desirous to move forward; but Smeaton still
detained him, and, asking where poor Higham was to be found, learned
that the man had been carried into a private house near the barricade
where he had fallen. The young nobleman then proceeded to ask some
further questions regarding the man's state; but the worthy doctor's
impatience could be restrained no longer; and, leaning down his head,
he whispered in Smeaton's ear--

"I beseech you, my noble Lord, let me go. I have made up my mind that
we cannot do any service here, now that Carpenter and his bullies have
arrived; and, as I reconnoitred the ground pretty strictly yesterday,
I know that I can get out by Fishergate Street, across the meadows and
the ford, and away. If you will take my advice, you will do the same."

Smeaton shook his head, saying, with a smile:

"Make haste, doctor, make haste! Carpenter is altering all the posts,
and in five minutes he will be in those same meadows, across which
lies your way."

Thus saying, he let go the bridle, and Doctor Alcock trotted off. I
may add that he was just in time; for he and two or three others
contrived to get out of the town and across the ford, under the very
eyes of General Carpenter, who probably did not think it worth while
to detach any of his escort in pursuit.

Smeaton, in the mean time, with a quick step, took his way towards the
other end of the town, in order to visit the poor wounded man; but, to
reach the place, he had to pass the door of the Mitre Inn, and he soon
saw symptoms of confusion and turbulence, which caused him to pause
for a moment. The common soldiers were by this time all stationed once
more at the barricades, and a good number of the gentlemen volunteers
were collected in the churchyard; but some thirty or forty gentlemen,
not of the highest rank, were either standing round the door or
crowding the passage of the inn. All were talking together eagerly;
some were gesticulating vehemently, and one young man, of the name of
Murray (not Lord Charles Murray), between whom and Smeaton a certain
degree of intimacy had sprung up, as soon as he perceived the latter,
ran up to him and caught him by the arm, saying, in a low but stern
and eager voice,

"My Lord, I pray you come with me for five minutes. These men within
are betraying us; they are for giving us up into the hands of the
enemy; the enemy we conquered yesterday at every point. Come with me,
I beseech you. You are a man of rank, and also of experience; a
soldier, a brave man. They must listen to you."

"They have listened to me very little," returned Smeaton; "otherwise,
we should not have been in our present situation; but go on. I will
follow you."

Murray, whose eyes were flashing fire, and whose whole face was
working with excitement, instantly darted back to the crowd, pushing
his way fiercely through it and along the passage. Smeaton followed
with a calm grave air, more to learn what was taking place, than with
any hope of his voice being attended to. His young acquaintance
reached the stairs, and mounted, taking three steps at a time, till he
reached the door of a room, at which stood a man with a drawn sword in
his hand.

"You cannot pass, sir," said the man. "The officers are at council."

"We must be of their council, too," responded Murray; and, without
hesitation, he threw open the door and entered, followed by Smeaton,
the sentinel making no effort to oppose them.

The scene within was already turbulent enough; for the whole party,
consisting of some ten or twelve, were talking together loudly and
vehemently. Colonel Oxburgh, Lord Widrington, a Jesuit named Pierre,
Sir James Anderton, and one or two others, were standing round General
Forster, with a small table between them and another party, who seemed
arguing some question with them very fiercely.

"Sir," said Forster, with a flushed face, in answer to something which
had just been said, "you are insulting. I place before you the plain
straightforward facts of the case. There is no chance for us whatever,
except in taking advantage of the success of yesterday to obtain a
favourable capitulation."

"Capitulation! Who talks of capitulation?" exclaimed young Murray,
pushing forward quickly.

"_I_ do, sir," replied Forster; "I, the general of this army, by the
commission of King James. We are completely surrounded, outnumbered,
and our store of powder is failing fast. I have not spared my person.
I have not shrunk from the fire of the enemy; but I can see and judge
of what is necessary as well as any rash boy in England; and I say,
the only chance of our not being slaughtered to a man, is to endeavour
to make terms."

"What, with fifteen hundred gallant men, who would cut their way
through a rock of stone rather than surrender!" exclaimed Murray,
violently. "I will tell you what, General Forster; the soldiers--the
brave common soldiers--will not hear of surrender. There are some
gentlemen and noblemen amongst us, too, who are men of heart, and will
not permit this. Here stands the Earl of Eskdale; a man of great
experience, and as unprejudiced as any one. His voice, I am sure, is
not for surrender."

"Certainly not," replied Smeaton; "for I would rather die with my
sword in my hand, face to face with the enemy, than lay my head down
on a block on Tower Hill; and I believe that is the only choice."

"My lord, you are in no command here," said Forster. "I am the general
in command of these troops, by the King's authority; and, so long as I
live, no one else shall command them."

"I do not in the least seek to do so," rejoined Smeaton. "I only give
an opinion."

Before he could conclude the sentence, however, Captain Murray
interrupted, exclaiming in a loud voice--

"This shall annul a traitor's commission which he is unworthy to
hold!" And, drawing a pistol out of his belt, he levelled it at
Forster's head, and pulled the trigger. Some one,[2] however, struck
up the muzzle just as he was in the act of firing, and the ball lodged
in the wainscot, about two feet above the mark.

A scene of indescribable confusion ensued, in the midst of which the
vehement young officer was arrested and removed from the room. It was
not for several minutes that anything like tranquillity was restored,
and then Smeaton turned towards General Forster, saying--

"I regret this event exceedingly, General Forster; but I trust that
the young man's intemperance and criminal conduct will not divert your
attention from the truth of what he said. My belief is, that you will
find it impossible to persuade the common soldiers to surrender,
though they would risk less by it than we should; and I do not think
any man would be safe who would propose such a thing to them."

"Nobody proposes to surrender, my lord, except upon favourable terms,"
retorted Forster, sharply; "and, if those could be obtained, I
suppose nobody would be fool enough to refuse them. However, permit me
to say that the advice which you have withheld from us during the
whole campaign is not now desired."

"My advice was freely offered in the beginning," returned Smeaton,
coolly, "but was treated, as all reasonable advice has been treated,
with contempt, and was therefore never volunteered again till my own
honour and life were concerned. I now not only give my advice, but
protest, in the face of these gentlemen, against surrender upon any
terms but those which shall secure our honour; and, having said thus
much, I wish you good morning."

"Depend upon it, my lord," said Forster, in a milder tone, "if we do
treat for surrender at all, which is not yet determined, it shall be
only on such terms as shall be satisfactory to all."

Every one knows what it is to begin to parley with an enemy
superior in force to ourselves; and it would be tedious, even to
the few readers who may be unacquainted with the events of that
fatal day, to enter into details of all that occurred during the next
four-and-twenty hours. Confusion, hurry, discontent, dismay, pervaded
the whole town. Rumours spread of the intention to surrender; and the
troops were more than once ready to fall upon their officers and put
them to the sword, but were kept quiet by means of gross and shameful
falsehoods. They were told that General Wills had sent in to offer
honourable terms, promising that the lives and liberties of all would
be guaranteed; and were assured that the coming and going of Colonel
Oxburgh, and several of the royal officers, between the camp and the
town, solely had reference to minute points in the capitulation. In
the meanwhile, however, the messages which went out commenced with
bold and somewhat excessive demands; but gradually firmness and
courage oozed away. General Carpenter and General Wills sternly
refused all terms, and only promised that, if the insurgent force
surrendered at discretion, it should not at once be put to the sword.
"No other terms," they said, "would be granted to rebels with arms in
their hands." One small concession, however, was made: namely, that a
cessation of arms should be granted till seven the next morning, in
order to allow time to persuade the common soldiers to submit; but
hostages were exacted to insure that no farther defences were thrown
up in the town, and that no persons should be permitted to escape.

A night of intense anxiety, discussion, persuasion, turbulence, and
confusion, succeeded; but, before the appointed hour, despair had
taken possession of almost all hearts, though there is some doubt as
to whether the Highland troops were not deceived to the very last, and
induced to believe that they laid down their arms upon favourable
conditions. Before seven o'clock, the noise and confusion had subsided
into sullen and discontented submission; the Highlanders were drawn up
in the market place; the noblemen and gentlemen who had joined in the
insurrection remained at their various quarters; and, with drums
beating and trumpets sounding, Generals Carpenter and Wills entered
the town at the head of their troops, from the Manchester road on the
one side and the Lancaster road on the other.

It was a moment of some anxiety; for there was no certainty, even to
the last minute, whether the troops of the insurrection would not make
use of their arms in one last desperate effort in the market-place.
But they had no confidence in their officers, no plan arranged amongst
themselves; and, surrounded by a large body of cavalry and infantry,
any attempt at resistance would have brought on a massacre rather than
a fight. They laid down their arms, therefore, at the word of command,
and were marched off by companies to the church, where they were kept
pent up for many days under a strict guard. Some of the royal officers
were then sent to receive the arms of the officers and gentlemen
volunteers, who were put under arrest in various inns and private
houses; and thus ended an insurrection which had begun rashly, and
been carried on without skill or even ordinary discretion.

In the transactions which preceded the surrender Smeaton had taken no
part except that which I have mentioned. From the Mitre he had
proceeded to the house where his servant, Thomas Higham, lay, and
found the poor fellow in a weak and apparently sinking state. The
surgeon, who was with him at the time, and who had just extracted the
ball, would not suffer any conversation, but expressed some hope of
his recovery if he were kept quite quiet; and Smeaton, leaving a small
sum of money with him to provide any comforts he might require,
departed with a promise to visit him again if possible.

When, about half past eight o'clock, one of the royal officers entered
the young nobleman's quarters, he found him calmly writing letters,
with his sword and pistols on the table before him. He treated his
prisoner with perfect courtesy; received his arms and, handed them to
an orderly behind; and then, pointing to the letters, said, "I fear
these cannot be permitted to pass, my lord, without being submitted to
the generals in command."

"I do not expect it," replied Smeaton; "but I think they will find
nothing to object to. One is to my mother, which I should much wish
forwarded to her as soon as possible, if she be still living. The
other is to the Earl of Stair; and I should wish you to place it in
the hands of General Carpenter, who will perceive that it refers to
matters which have been already in discussion between us, and in
regard to which I think I have been hardly treated. I know not,
indeed, that it can have any influence on my ultimate fate; and that
fate I trust I am prepared to meet as a man of courage and a man of
honour; but I write it as a full explanation of my whole conduct, that
no stain may be upon my character, and that it may be apparent that I
have not in the slightest degree, or in any way, forfeited my given
word. I trust that the Earl of Stair will be able to explain his
conduct as satisfactorily. I do not accuse him; but there has been a
fatal mistake somewhere."

The officer took the letters and promised to give them into the hands
of General Carpenter, adding, in a kindly tone,

"If there is anything I can do for your convenience, my lord,
consistent with my duty, you have merely to command me."

"Nothing that I know of," replied Smeaton; "except, indeed, if you
would exert your influence to have kind treatment shown to a poor
servant of mine, who was severely wounded on Saturday at Lord Charles
Murray's barricade.

"I will see to his comfort myself," said the officer; and then,
putting down his name and the house where he was to be found, he
added, "I will see to this directly. I fear I must put a sentinel at
your door, my lord, till you are otherwise disposed of; but he will
have directions to consult your convenience as far as possible."

Thus saying, he withdrew; and Smeaton was left alone in his room, a
prisoner.



CHAPTER XL.

I must now turn to different scenes, and to people whom I have long
left, in order not to break the chain of events immediately affecting
the young Earl of Eskdale.

In one of the narrow streets leading away from Tower Hill, there is a
house rather better than the others, but still small and inconvenient.
Centuries ago, that street was the resort of many a gay and gallant
attender upon the court; and, even at the time I speak of, was
inhabited by a respectable though poor class of the population. It was
the place where captains of ships trading between London and foreign
ports usually found lodging during their stay on shore. The house I
have mentioned was the best of those lodging-houses, and, through the
kindness of the governor of the Tower--who was an easy kind-hearted
man, as all his conduct to his prisoners showed--it had been hired for
the family of Sir John Newark, immediately upon his arrival in custody
of the messengers from Exeter. Let it be remarked, the whole house had
been kind; and the good woman to whom it belonged, who had had the
good luck before to let the whole of her apartments at once, went
joyfully into a garret at a neighbour's, to make way for Emmeline and
the servants.

How the fair young Countess of Eskdale had passed her time in that
small dingy house; how sad had been her thoughts as, day by day, she
received news from the north, and heard of her husband's part in the
insurrection; how, at the end of about six weeks, she was joined by
old Mistress Culpepper, and how, with marvellous fortitude and
strength of mind, the good old servant supported the young lady in the
sore trial which she underwent, I must not stop here to detail.

Emmeline sat alone in a little room on the ground floor, with small
and narrow windows, parted by mullions and transoms, and affording but
little light. She had paid her daily visit to Sir John Newark in the
Tower, and had returned from a very unsatisfactory interview. The
political prisoners, made at various times during the insurrections of
1715 and 1716, were treated, as all the world knows, with a degree of
lenity--not to say laxity--during the time of their imprisonment,
which contrasted strangely with the unrelenting severity shown to many
of them in the end; and men, waiting for trial and destined to a
bloody death, were suffered to enjoy the society of their friends
almost without restriction; nay, more, were suffered to revel, to
gamble, to drink within the dark walls which were only to be succeeded
by the walls of the tomb, and to employ any means they might think
fit, innocent or vicious, to wile away the time and banish the grim
thoughts of approaching doom.

All these facilities were given to Sir John Newark; and, indeed,
nothing was wanting to his comfort except liberty; but yet the
imprisonment weighed upon him, and rendered him irritable and
suspicious. To be deprived of all power of scheming--to be obliged to
sit idle when he fancied that great opportunities for playing the game
in which he was well practised were constantly occurring--to find the
government maintain a cold and ominous silence in return for all the
advances which he made, and to know that they had proofs against him
of very dangerous intrigues, though not, perhaps, of high treason
itself--all tended to depress and to annoy him more than the mere loss
of his personal freedom.

During the last week he had, for the first time of his life, shown
himself irascible and harsh towards Emmeline. He insisted that
whenever she stirred out of the house, even to the gates of the Tower,
she should be attended by two of his men servants, and she discovered
that one or the other of these men was sent for daily, and examined
strictly by his master as to where she had been, whom she had spoken
with, and what she had done; in fact, that she was watched in London
as she had been at Ale Manor. It is not, perhaps, wonderful that she
felt more annoyed now than she had ever before felt at this espionage;
for, until the arrival of the old housekeeper, it was carried on so
strictly that she could hardly obtain any information regarding those
events in the north, on the turn of which depended her whole happiness
for life.

The good woman's appearance at the house, which was sudden and
unexpected, was a great comfort to the poor girl. She no longer sat
and wept by herself, or, with her eyes fixed upon the embers of the
fire, gave herself up to thoughts which passed in rapid succession,
like dark and terrible shadows of approaching misfortunes. Good Mrs.
Culpepper sat with her now the greater part of each day, obtained
information for her, talked of him she loved; and there was
consolation in the very companionship, though the housekeeper was in
no way cheerful; for her own anticipations regarding Smeaton were
gloomy and sinister. She did not suffer them to find voice, indeed;
yet her whole manner and words were tinged with sadness. Even that
which afforded poor Emmeline the greatest delight gave her no comfort.

About three weeks before the period of which I speak, a letter had
reached the lady, delivered by an unknown hand, but bearing the
signature of her husband. It was the letter which Smeaton had written
to her at Rothbury, and committed to the charge of Richard Newark. As
her cousin's name was not mentioned, however, and he had never himself
appeared, Emmeline knew not who had brought it; and she pored over it
day after day as the only comfort of her solitary life; but the
confirmation which that letter gave of the rumour that Smeaton was
actually engaged with the insurgents in the north only excited darker
apprehensions for his fate in the mind of his old nurse. It was in
vain that tidings arrived, which produced some consternation in the
minds of the good Londoners, by showing that the rebels were making a
bold and, apparently, successful irruption into England; it was in
vain that she heard of their advance towards Carlisle, or of the
dispersion of the great body of militia in Penrith Moor, of the
insurgents having seized upon Lancaster, and of the arming of
Manchester in their favour; Mrs. Culpepper shook her head with a sigh.
She had seen insurrection and civil war before, and her expectations
were all sad.

On the morning of which I speak, a rumour reached her of the fatal
events of Preston; and, after Emmeline's visit to Sir John Newark, on
which occasion Mrs. Culpepper accompanied her, the old lady went out
into the town to see if she could obtain farther intelligence.
Emmeline sat alone then in that small gloomy room, and her thoughts
were very dark and sorrowful. She reasoned with herself, as was her
wont, upon human life, and the strange turns of fate. She asked
herself what was the ruler of this world, and what was his decree?
Were the good, and the wise, and the kind-hearted, fated to sorrow and
misfortune; the cunning, the remorseless, the unfeeling, to prosperity
and triumph and success? Was hope only given for disappointment? Was
imagination but the heightening curse to make all the bitterness of
earth more bitter? Were the susceptibilities of everything that is
beautiful and excellent in life only given to sharpen the sting of
adversity, and make the edge of sorrow cut more deeply? She could
hardly believe it; and yet, when she turned her eye to history, or
even pondered what her own small experience taught her, she could
hardly doubt that such was the case; and the only moral she could
derive from the consideration was, that--"The reward of the good is
not here."

Yet that is an oppressive and chilling conviction to the ardent heart
of youth. It is a hard discouragement at the commencement of life's
weary way. It requires an amount of faith and hope as its antidote
which few of the young possess. It is one of the bars of the sieve
though which the wheat is sifted from the chaff. Emmeline might and
did turn her thoughts to God and to another world. She might and did
feel that there was the rewarder and the reward; but yet her heart
felt very sad to see the blight upon all the flowers of earth, and to
fear that none would ever be matured into fruit.

While she was thus pondering sadly, she saw a man pass up the street,
whose figure had something in it familiar to her eyes. In an instant
after he repassed, and looked up towards the house. She instantly
remembered his face. It was connected in her mind with a scene and a
moment never to be forgotten. It was connected indissolubly with the
memory of him she loved; and, by a sudden impulse, she sprang forward
and opened the window.

"He must have seen my husband," she thought. "He must bear me some
tidings, some message; a letter, perhaps."

Van Noost (for he it was) stopped the moment he heard the window open,
looked up and down the street, which was vacant at the moment, and
then approached.

"Lady, lady," he said, "I wish to speak with you. I bear you a message
from one you know and love."

"Speak it now, speak it quickly," said Emmeline, clasping her hands
together in her eagerness.

"Ay, lady, it is a sad message and a sad tale," rejoined the good
statuary, with tears rising in his eyes; "and you will hear it soon
enough."

"Speak, sir, speak!" cried Emmeline. "What did my Lord say?"

"He said, dear lady," answered Van Noost, "that he feared there was
little hope of himself and the others escaping from the position in
which they had placed themselves, much against his wishes and advice.
He besought you, however, to take comfort, what ever might happen to
him, and to place your trust in God. He would not write, he said, for
fear of his letter falling into other hands; for I myself escaped with
difficulty; but he bade me assure you that, whatever occurred, he
loved you with his whole heart till his last hour."

"Then where is he? What has become of him?" asked Emmeline. "Tell me,
tell me."

"I left him at Preston, madam," replied Van Noost, "but surrounded by
the King's forces, and ready every moment to be overwhelmed by
numbers. He insisted upon my leaving the army and making my peace with
the government; but he himself remained, though fully aware of all the
danger."

"At Preston!" said Emmeline, thoughtfully. "How long is it since you
left him?"

"This is the ninth morning," replied Van Noost. "I reached London
three days ago, and gave myself up to government. I looked honest, I
suppose; or else they could not do without my statues any longer; for,
after keeping me in prison two days, and examining me strictly, they
let me go back to my own house upon the sole condition of showing
myself to a messenger twice in every four-and-twenty hours."

"Nine days!" exclaimed Emmeline. "That is a long time. Has no news
arrived from Preston since?"

Van Noost looked down upon the ground; and his good rosy countenance
turned white with emotion.

"You have some tidings," said Emmeline, in a low tone. "Tell me what
they are, I beseech you, sir. I can bear them, whatever they be. Speak
quickly, or my heart will break."

"Alas, lady!" ejaculated Van Noost.

"He is dead," said Emmeline, in a tone wonderfully calm. "He has been
killed in the battle!"

"No, no! Not so, indeed," replied Van Noost. "He is a prisoner, lady,
but not dead. All the rest are prisoners too."

Before he ended, Emmeline's ear was deaf to his words. Fancy had so
fully possessed her, only the moment before, with the idea of her
husband's death, that when she heard he was still living, though a
captive, the change from despair to hope was too sudden; her heart
beat for a moment violently, then became still as if in death; and she
sank upon the floor.

Poor Van Noost was shocked and terrified; he thought he had killed
her; and he would fain have made his way through the window to give
her help; but just at that moment the tall and stately form of Mrs.
Culpepper appeared coming up the street; and, as soon as she saw him
looking in at the window, she hurried her pace, asking him sharply--

"What are you doing here, sir, staring in at the window of this house?
Are you a thief who would fain break in and steal? Ah," she continued,
as he turned more fully towards her, "I think I have seen your face
before. Yes, I recollect you now. What are your tidings? Where did you
leave my Lord? Is he amongst the prisoners?"

"He is, madam," replied Van Noost, who stood in great awe of the
stately presence of the housekeeper. "He is amongst the prisoners, if,
by 'my Lord,' you mean the Earl of Eskdale. But I beseech you, look to
the lady within; for a message I have just borne her has, I fear, well
nigh broken her heart."

"Or the rash telling it," said Mrs. Culpepper, somewhat sternly; but
she added the next moment: "You did not intend it, I dare say. Come in
with me." And she knocked sharply at the door. It was opened by one of
the men, who seemed somewhat surprised to see her accompanied by a
stranger. But no one in the household ventured to question the
proceedings of Mrs. Culpepper; and, telling Van Noost to follow, she
entered the room on the right hand. They found Emmeline lying where
she had fallen, with her cheek as pale as the lily, and her eyelids
closed. It was long before she could be brought to herself; but the
old housekeeper sent away the servants, told Van Noost to wait without
and she would speak with him, and then whispered comfort in the poor
girl's ear.

"All will go well, dear lady," she said. "All will go well, sweet
Emmeline. He is a prisoner; but he is still living; and there are a
thousand chances in his favour. They may try him, but not condemn him.
They may condemn him, and yet pardon him. They may be obdurate, yet he
may escape. He _shall_ escape, too, if there be wit in woman's head,
such as men say. Take heart, take heart; everything is to be gained,
so long as his life is safe."

It is wonderful how readily an old proverb springs before all other
expressions in moments of haste or grief.

"Oh yes, while there is life there is hope," responded Emmeline,
sobbing. "It was the joy of finding he was living, when Van Nooses
first words had made me believe him dead, that overcame me. But where
is Van Noost? Let him tell me more." And she looked towards the window
wistfully.

"The man is in the hall," replied Mrs. Culpepper. "I will call him
in."

She accordingly summoned Van Noost, and ordered one of the servants
who was still with him in the hall to go below and mind his work, in a
tone that admitted no reply. Van Noost was then questioned eagerly,
and told the whole tale of his escape and the circumstances in which
he had left the Earl of Eskdale. The good man was going on to
disburden himself of all the news which he had gathered in London of
the surrender of the insurgent army at Preston; but Mrs. Culpepper cut
him short, saying--"What is your name, good sir, and where do you
live?"

"My name is Van Noost," replied the statuary. "It is a well-known
name. I am the famous artist in lead; and I live on the Reading Road,
nearly opposite the end of Constitution Hill."

A grim smile came upon Mrs. Culpepper's face; and she said--"Very
well. Perhaps we may want you. I doubt not you are willing to serve
this young nobleman who so befriended you in getting you out of
Preston."

"I would serve hits with my life's blood," replied Van Noost; "but,
gadzooks! I must take care not to burn my fingers in the business
again."

"You are more likely to burn your fingers with your lead than
with any business we shall give you," observed Mrs. Culpepper,
drily; "but, for the present, good-bye, sir; and if you get any news
or hints worth hearing, pray let us have them. But be discreet; ask
for me--Culpepper, the housekeeper; and, if I be not within, wait till
I come."

"By my life, an imperious dame," said Van Noost to himself, as he
retired; and the housekeeper, after remaining for a moment or two in
silent thought, turned to Emmeline, saying--

"Comfort yourself, dear lady. I will away to Sir John, and carry him
the intelligence I have got, which, probably, has not yet reached the
Tower. I must contrive to get rid of some of these men who are here,
for they will hamper our movements; and I think in this Preston
business I can find an excuse for sending one at least, if not more,
down to Ale. He has not forgotten the bait of Keanton yet, and will
rise at it as readily as ever."



CHAPTER XLI.

Slowly, and for him very soberly, with his eyes bent upon the ground,
and his thoughts heavier than his own statues, Van Noost took his way
across the little street towards a turning which led away to the
westward some small distance higher up. He had not passed the doors of
three houses, however, when suddenly a voice called him by name; and,
turning round, he saw the outline of a man's figure standing some way
down a narrow entrance passage, and beckoning to him with his hand.

"Van Noost," said the voice again, "come hither. I want you. Come
hither, man of flesh and lead. There is no danger to your carcase. A
dagger would lose itself before it found your ribs. Don't you know me,
man?"

"I can't see your face," replied Van Noost, "but, odds wounds! your
voice is very like that of Master Richard Newark, who left us at
Rothbury."

"Come in, come!" cried the other. "Do not stand chattering there like
a pie on an elm tree, calling all the other birds to wonder what the
fool is prating of. If you know my tongue, that is enough. Sound is as
good as sight, and sometimes better. Come in, I say, thou man of
molten images."

Without farther question, Van Noost entered the doorway, although
with some degree of trepidation; for the poor man had been sadly
shaken by all that he had lately undergone--fat being no
case-hardening of the nerves, as many of us must very well know. No
sooner was he within the door, however, than Richard Newark threw it
sharply to, caught him by the arm, and drew him along towards a small
room on the left, where the stronger light showed the statuary that he
had not been mistaken. The small chamber was a fair specimen of an
ordinary lodging house of the day--dingy with ages of uncleaned walls
and unwhitened ceilings. Wooden chairs of an indescribable brown; a
table of the same hue and material; a corner-cupboard garnished with
broken cups and saucers--a piece of sealing-wax--a tallow candle
in a brass candlestick, and a bottle with two or three glasses; a
looking-glass of the breadth of one's hand; an old cracked
punch-bowl, and two apostle spoons, made up the furniture. To these
were added a pair of tobacco-pipes on the table, with a pile of shag
tobacco in an open box, and several other articles, the peculiar
property of the young tenant.

But if to find Richard Newark, the son of the wealthy and somewhat
ostentatious Sir John, in so lowly a dwelling, excited the wonder of
the statuary, what was his surprise at the appearance of the young man
himself! The gay apparel which Richard, with youthful vanity, had ever
affected, was partly cast aside, and he stood before Van Noost in the
garb of a seaman, with large breeches tied with enormous bunches of
rib-band at the knees, grey stockings, and half a foot of clean shirt
shown at his waist. The upper man displayed the marks of a rather
superior station. The long-waisted broad-flapped coat, with a small
silver lace, seemed to indicate an aspirant to future command, and at
the same time gave him the appearance of a man five or six years older
than he really was; while the waistcoat of embroidered silk, and the
laced cravat, showed the remnant of still higher pretensions.

"Will Van Noost sit down and take a pipe?" said Richard Newark. "We
will soon have a glass of grog and a good gossip. Ay, do not stare
till your eyes leap into the tobacco-box. Here I am, a sailor for the
nonce; and, on my life and soul, I have a great mind to remain one
till my dying day. Why, man, I never knew what freedom was before.
Here I can go where I like, do what I like, say anything I please, to
man, woman, or child, and no one takes offence or calls me a fool for
my pains. 'Tis but a mad trick of the sailor-lad, do what I will, and
I have learned more man's knowledge in this garb, during the month I
have been in London, than I should have learned during ten years at
Ale."

"Pray God, Master Richard, you have not learned more than is good for
you!" ejaculated Van Noost. "I had an apprentice from the country, who
was quite spoiled with three months' residence in London."

"But I am no apprentice, noble lead-boiler," retorted Richard. "What
makes you think there is anything spoilable in me? I am not a haunch
of venison, nor a new-caught trout, a cream tart, nor a jelly, to grow
mouldy on a moist day, or stink in the nose when the wind is
southerly. What makes you think I may, can, might, could, should, or
ought to be spoiled?"

"Why, because I find you here, sir, masquerading in a low house,"
replied Van Noost, "while your beautiful cousin is pining in solitude
in a house hard by, your father a prisoner in the Tower, and your best
friend in bonds at Preston."

Richard Newark was instantly serious, and he leaned his head on his
hand for a moment, in deep thought.

"You are wise," he said at length; "very wise, as this world's wisdom
goes. So all men would judge me, seeing only what you see. But you are
mistaken, nymph-maker. As to my father, his life is saved, if it ever
was in danger, which I do not think. The son's virtue in abandoning
rebels has been taken for an equipoise to the father's guilt in
encouraging them underhand. That I have made sure of. Deserters and
recreants are prime favourites now at court; and, as I was one of the
first, I was abundantly well received."

He paused, with a bitter and sarcastic expression of countenance, and
then went on--

"As to Emmeline, do not think, Master lead-melter, that I forget her.
What am I here for? What am I in this garb for? Is it not to watch
over her in secret, and turn the danger from her when it may come? Do
I not know every step she takes through the streets? Do I not know
when she goes out and when she returns? Do I not see every one who
approaches her door? Poor Smeaton!" he continued, in a sadder tone;
"what help can be given to him, Heaven knows! I do not. I wonder if it
be true that he is one of the prisoners at Preston. Methinks he is not
a man to be taken in the same sweep of the net with less fishes."

"Ay, sir, but he would not leave the less fish in the net and break
through it himself, as he might have done," replied Van Noost.

"And as you did," said Richard Newark; and then, after a moment's
silence, he added. "And so did I. Pshaw, man, do not look red in the
gills about it! We are the wise men, and Smeaton the fool; but there
are wiser men even than ourselves. For instance, the man who not only
turns his back upon his friends, but sells them; the man who makes a
merit of his treason, and bargains for something better than
forgiveness. Do you understand me?"

"Faith, but darkly, Master Richard," answered Van Noost. "If you know
any such, you know more than I do."

"I know one at least," replied Richard; and then, in his usual
rambling way, he returned to the subject of his friend, saying,
"Poor Smeaton! his has been a hard fate, to be lured into the fatal
trap--cheated into the net at the very moment of his happiness. He has
had foul play, Van Noost."

"Ay, he complained much of Lord Stair," observed Van Noost. "That man
did not behave well to him."

"Lord Stair!" cried Richard Newark, with a laugh. "There were others
who behaved worse than Lord Stair. Indeed, I know not that Lord Stair
behaved ill at all; but others did. Lord Stair did not intercept his
letters; Lord Stair did not lure him to meetings of conspirators upon
false pretences; Lord Stair did not give information secretly against
him, pretending to be his friend; but others did. Lord Stair did not
take every means to drive him into rebellion, in order to get his
estate; but others did."

"Who--who?" asked Van Noost, eagerly.

"My father," answered Richard Newark; and a dead silence followed for
several minutes.

At length Van Noost said, in a low quiet tone--

"I think, Master Richard, if all this can be proved, the government
would deal with the Earl of Eskdale's case favourably."

"And who is to prove it?" exclaimed Richard, vehemently. "Am I to go
and denounce my own father to the government? Am I to expose all these
turnings and windings of his to grave officials in flowing wigs?"

"No; but you might tell Lord Stair himself," replied Van Noost. "You
might show him how this noble lord has been wronged; and, if he really
have any regard for him, and be the man that people say he is, he will
intercede for him with the King."

Richard Newark leaned his head upon his hand, and mused.

"Lord Stair is in Paris," he said, at length; "and I cannot--I must
not--quit this spot. Besides, how do we know that Smeaton is living
even now? They have shot some forty of their prisoners at Preston."

"Those were only officers who had served in King George's forces,"
replied Van Noost, "and, being found in rebellion, were tried by a
court martial and executed on the spot; but the noble Lord was not
amongst them. I have seen the list this very day. He is amongst those
whom they are marching up to London."

"Well, we shall see, we shall see," said Richard. "We shall have time,
at least. Time is everything in this world, as the grasshopper says;
and, if I dared stir from this place, perhaps I might do something;
but I must see Smeaton first. They keep them somewhat loosely in their
prisons; and I shall get in, I dare say."

"But what keeps you here, sir?" asked Van Noost. "You surely cannot be
tied down to this one little street."

"Very nearly," replied the young gentleman. "I am seldom absent for
many minutes till that house opposite is shut up at night. Did you
ever see a cat sitting before a mouse-hole, Van Noost, hour after
hour, looking half asleep, yet ready to spring the moment the little
brown gentleman, with the long tail, pops out, and nothing showing her
impatience but by the convulsions of the tip of her tail? Well, I am
just the cat, watching for I what know will follow, though I know not
when. My scoundrel mouse is winding about in his secret holes and
crannies, and thinking I know nothing of his doings. But let us talk
of other things. I will think of all this, and you come and see me
every day. There, drink some brandy and smoke your pipe. Or will you
have wine? We will get wine in a minute. Here, William, John! My two
hounds, where are you?"

To Van Noost's surprise, two men, or rather lads, for neither of them
certainly was two-and-twenty, appeared in answer to the young
gentleman's summons, dressed both alike, yet not exactly in livery,
though they evidently acted the part of Richard Newark's servants. One
was sent one way for meat, and another for wine; and, changing his
place, the young gentleman seated himself behind a blind near the
window, whence he could see down the little street in which the house
stood. When the men had returned and set down the things which had
been ordered, with plates, glasses, and knives, Richard moved his
place again, saying to the elder of the two--

"Mind the watch, for I shall be busy for an hour or so."

"A bird shall not fly past without our seeing him," replied the man,
and left the room with his companion.

At all times, and in all circumstances, Van Noost was well pleased to
eat and drink. Care, fear, or anxiety never took away his appetite,
and he did ample justice to the viands set before him.

A rambling desultory conversation followed; but Richard Newark would
not suffer it to fall back into the channels through which it had been
previously flowing. He talked of all that had occurred during the
insurrection, of his own escapade to the north, and of what he had
seen and done while travelling about with the Northumbrian gentlemen;
and, though his conversation and his manners were now more like his
former self, yet Van Noost could not help being much struck with the
great change which had come over him within the last few months. That
short period of busy existence--the companionship of men, and the
association with superior minds--had effected a remarkable
transformation; but the manliness of manner and decision of thought
which he had gained could only be attributed to the habit and
necessity of acting for himself, and the development, under such
necessity, of a character naturally decided, sharp, and fearless,
though rather distorted and out of shape.

The time passed pleasantly enough, and, on his departure, Van Noost
promised to return. He did not fail to keep his word, but went back
more than once, gaining in some degree upon Richard Newark's
confidence at each visit, and consulting with him upon what was to be
done in the case of the Earl of Eskdale.

The result of these consultations we shall see hereafter; but one
thing Van Noost could not comprehend in his companion; namely, the
obstinacy with which he refrained from going to see his fair cousin,
and from even letting her know that he was in her immediate
neighbourhood. The good statuary tried many circuitous ways of
arriving at his motives; and, when at length he asked him distinctly,
Richard replied, with one of his wild laughs--

"Ay, you could not understand, Van Noost; and, to say truth, I myself
do not understand. I have seen birds caught by perching on lime twigs.
Things have been put into my head which I wish had never come into it.
Besides, I am better where I am. I can do more, devise more, prevent
more, when I am working unseen. No, no, it would never do; but I must
tell you what, good friend; I must have a little liberty and some
fresh air. I must arrange, and trust to my two boys for a day now and
then. I am getting ill in this close hole, and my brain begins to spin
and whirl round as it used to do at school. Can you not contrive to
hire us a couple of horses? for mine I sold when I came to London. We
will have a ride, Van Noost--we will have a ride on the north road."

Van Noost readily consented, and it was agreed that the next day, at
the hour of noon, he should be with a pair horses in Smithfield, where
Richard Newark was to join him.

The young gentleman was on the spot before him, and there was an
eagerness and excitement in his look, which the statuary did not
understand. Springing on the horse's back, Richard Newark set off at a
pace much too fast to be agreeable to his companion. They soon cleared
the suburbs of London, however, passing a great number of people on
the road, some on horseback and some on foot, who were all tending the
same way, though at a more sober pace.

"I wonder what these people are all pouring out of London for," said
Van Noost, as they rode along. "There must be some sport going
forward."

"Ha! ha! don't you know!" exclaimed Richard, wildly. "They are going
to meet the prisoners coming in, and so am I!"

This announcement was not altogether palatable to the good statuary,
who felt certain that he should be recognized by some of the
prisoners, and be placed in an awkward position. It was not, indeed,
that he feared his acquaintance with those who had joined in the
insurrection would in any degree endanger his personal safety; and, to
do him justice, he would have risked that under any circumstances;
but, as it was, he had made a clean breast of it to the Secretary of
State, and obtained even more than he could expect, amounting, in
fact, to a conditional pardon. The thought, however, of having fled
from Preston; of not remaining with Roman courage (which he always had
an ambition of displaying, if his constitution would but have let him)
to fall with a falling cause, and of having sneaked away in much haste
and trepidation at the approach of real danger, made him feel very
awkward when he thought of encountering his former companions in
rebellion. He explained his feelings to Richard Newark as well as he
could, hinting, at the same time, that the young gentleman himself was
in a similar situation.

But Richard only laughed aloud, saying, "Well, get out of the way
then, when we come near them. Pop into an inn, or hide your
shame-faced noddle in some barn or shed. As for me, I shall go up and
speak to any one I know. I am not the least ashamed of anything I have
done, and I will cut that man's throat who says I have cause to be."

They rode on as far as Highgate, leaving the crowd behind them as they
went; and, a little beyond that place, they saw a cloud of dust upon
the road before them, which seemed to announce the approach of the
prisoners. There was a small public-house near, in which Van Noost
took refuge as speedily as possible. Richard Newark dismounted also;
but he remained on the outside of the house, with his arms folded on
his chest. Half an hour elapsed, however, before the procession which
they expected appeared; for the dust which they had seen was raised
merely by a large party of horse grenadiers and foot guards, sent out
to meet the unfortunate prisoners from Preston and escort them into
London.

After calling for something for the good of the house, Van Noost
placed himself at the window of the little sanded parlour, with a
number of other persons, while the road before him was occupied by a
small crowd from Highgate and the neighbouring villages. At length,
the advance of a large body of men along the road was descried; and on
they came at a slow pace, while a loyal shout of "Long live King
George, and down with the Pretender!" burst from the crowd without.

Poor Van Noost's heart felt very big; and, when he saw the whole
indignity to which his poor friends had been subjected, it was too
much for him. Noblemen and gentlemen of high and distinguished
character, men of honour and refinement and unblemished reputation,
were being marched into London with their arms pinioned with ropes,
each of their horses led by one of the foot guards, often by a mere
common halter, while a large party of cavalry preceded and followed
but did not flank them, as if for the express purpose of exposing them
fully to the gaze of the multitude. Van Noost caught a momentary
glance of many whom he knew, and especially of the Earl of Eskdale;
but he saw little of what passed after, except that Richard Newark ran
forward, laid his hand upon Smeaton's knee, and spoke to him eagerly,
walking by the side of his horse till one of the soldiers put him
rudely back.

The poor statuary's eyes filled with tears; and, retiring from the
window, he made place for those who were struggling to get forward.



CHAPTER XLII.

The Tower the Marshalsea, Newgate, and other London jells, were filled
to overflowing. Prison regulations, which were few, and those not very
strict, were all, but entirely neglected; and scenes of revelry and
merriment, the most discordant with the place and all it associations,
occurred is the cells of the captives. It was not alone that the Tory
or High church party, waking from the apathy in which they had
indulged as long as activity could have been serviceable to the cause,
now contributed large sums of money to make the fate of the captives
as comfortable as a captive's fate can be; it was not alone that the
numerous friends and relations of the prisoners flocked to give them
consolation and support of every kind; but a revolution took place in
that strange fickle thing, public opinion; and many of those who, had
not their rank and station stood in the way, would have gone out, with
the hooting mob to witness the entrance of the rebel prisoners into
London, now began to regard them as martyrs and laud them as heroes.
Crowds hurried to see them and to testify their sympathy. No one who
could find or frame even a specious pretext for admission was
excluded; all hours and seasons were forgotten; and the gates of
Newgate were often thrown open in the midst of the night, to admit a
visitor, a servant, or a friend. The jailors declared that they were
worn to death with the continual turning of the keys; yet they did
their work very willingly--from no great feeling of compassion,
perhaps, but for the golden rewards which were sure to follow.

In the Tower, where the noblemen who had joined in the insurrection
were confined, a greater degree of decency certainly prevailed; but,
even here, very great laxity existed; and, from ten o'clock in the
morning till the same hour at night, the doors were opened to almost
any one who required admittance. In fact, the conduct of the
authorities, from the day of the surrender at Preston till the
termination of the whole tragedy, is perfectly unaccountable; so
capricious and strange were the alternations of lenity and severity.
During the march to London, it often happened that, on one day, the
prisoners of note would be confined in separate chambers, and not
permitted to see or speak with any one, while, on the very next, they
were allowed to wander about any towns they passed through; each under
the charge of a soldier, visiting their friends, or purchasing
whatever articles they required in the shops. One day, they would be
compelled to sleep upon damp stone floors, with none of the comforts
or conveniences of life; and the next they would dine with the
officers of their escort, faring sumptuously on all that the place
could afford. At one time, the sick and the feeble were provided with
coaches to carry them, with nothing but a trooper at the window; and
then, at Barnet, they were pinioned on their horses, and led into
London like condemned felons. Thus, too, after their arrival at the
place of their destination, they were allowed to live in luxury, and,
alas! in many cases in licentiousness, while all the time the terrible
catastrophe was being prepared with stern relentless determination.

In many instances, the prisoners themselves, at least those of
thoughtful and high-toned character, were obliged to entreat their
jailers to exclude the mixed multitude which flocked in to see them;
and even then they were often greatly annoyed; for the virtue of the
turnkeys was not stout enough to, resist the bribes which were
frequently given for admission to the cells. The greater number,
indeed, were well-pleased with the attentions they received, and
laughed, joked, and drank with the strangers who presented themselves;
but it must be said that a general impression prevailed amongst them,
that the facts of their having surrendered at discretion, and of their
being spared for the time, would secure them from the penalties of
treason. Many were even ignorant of the terms on which the surrender
had been made, and thoroughly believed that a promise of pardon had
been given, and others felt quite confident that the exertions of
influential friends would gain for them the lenity of a merciful
sovereign.

But George the First was _not_ merciful. Perhaps it would be too much
to accuse him of a disposition naturally cruel; but his heart was as
hard as that of any man who ever lived, and his conduct to the young
Countess of Nithsdale would prove the truth, even if it were not
witnessed by many another act.

Amongst those who took the least cheering view of his situation, was
Henry Earl of Eskdale, who flattered himself with no vain
expectations. On entering the chamber assigned to him in the Tower, he
looked round it as his last abode before he went to the scaffold; and,
although the small sum of money he had remaining was sufficient to
procure him comforts for the time, he counted it over with care, and
assigned a certain portion for each day's wants, calculating, as well
as he was able, the time likely to elapse before his death.

The morning after his arrival a number of persons were admitted to see
him, and at length he was glad to give the turnkey a guinea, as an
inducement to exclude every one but those who could declare they were
his personal friends.

"I have much need of thought and reflection, my good sir," he said;
"but, if I am to be troubled with strangers all day long, however
kindly their visits may be meant, I shall have no time to prepare to
defend my life, or to meet my death as becomes me."

"If your Lordship will give a list of those you wish to see," replied
the man, "I will keep out all others."

Smeaton wrote down the names of the few whom he thought likely to
visit him; but he had some difficulty when he came to the dearest name
of all. It was too sacred a name to be lightly spoken of; and
therefore, to meet all cases, he wrote down broadly: "Any one of the
name of Newark, any one of the name of Eskdale;" and then thinking of
poor Van Noost, he added his name to the paper, saying, as he gave it
to the man:

"If any one should urge strongly that he is a personal friend, let him
send in his name, and I will tell you whether to admit him or not."

The man had not even closed the door, however, when Van Noost
presented himself; and his agitation, on seeing his noble friend in
captivity, had something in it both touching and grotesque. He wept
like a child; but the pathetic was greatly lessened by his attempts to
conceal his emotion and speak through his tears. Smeaton treated him
with great kindness, congratulated him upon his escape and his
freedom, and listened patiently, to his account of all he had
undergone since they met. But he then turned the conversation to
matters of deeper interest to himself, by enquiring if his visitor had
seen Emmeline as he promised.

Van Noost almost started from his chair, exclaiming:

"Good gracious! I had nearly forgotten. I saw her this very morning,
my Lord; and she charged me with a message to say that she would be
here this evening as soon as it grew dark, if you would permit it;
and, indeed, who would not permit it? It seemed as if she thought the
time between this and night would never come to an end. I believe she
world have run here at once, if the old lady, Madame Culpepper, had
not dissuaded her."

Smeaton did not reply immediately; for many contending feelings were
busy in his bosom. To hold her once again to his heart; to tell her
how he had thought of her since they parted; to learn; from her own
lips, her views, her wishes, her feelings; to consult with and to
counsel her, were all motives which prompted him to say "Yes," without
a moment's hesitation. But he feared risk, and embarrassment, and
perhaps even misfortune, to her whom he loved better than himself. He
knew not that she was accustomed to come daily to the Tower; that her
person was known to the warders and many of the officers of the
prison, and that she was always accompanied by sufficient men to
protect her, as far as they were permitted to go. He thought of
Emmeline only as the simple inexperienced girl of the Manor House in
Devonshire, timid even in her innocent boldness, utterly unlearned in
the world and the world's ways. He knew not that she, as well as
Richard, had been schooled in sorrow, and that her mind had put forth
new powers, and her heart gained firmness, since they parted.

Can he be blamed, however, if he yielded, in some degree, to his own
wishes? He fancied that he considered all things fairly for her good,
as well as for his own happiness; but, perhaps, he was not altogether
unbiased when he said,

"Tell her, Van Noost, that I ardently long to see her; but yet I would
not have her come, especially at night, unless she can do so in
perfect safety, and in secresy also; for, till we have well considered
the next step, I do not wish our marriage to be made public, and I
must have no spot rest upon her name, even for her love to me. If she
can come safely, she knows what joy it will give me. If she can not,
that joy would be dearly purchased by peril to her. So tell her, Van
Noost. Go, my dear friend, go; and let her have my answer quickly."

"I will, my good Lord, I will," replied the statuary, fumbling in the
wide pocket of his coat; "but there is another matter I had well nigh
forgot too. Here is something I promised to deliver to your Lordship."

And, as he spoke, he produced a little packet--in shape very much
like a schoolboy's ruler, wrapped up in paper, and sealed at both
ends--which he laid upon the table.

"What is this, Van Noost?" said the young nobleman, taking it up, and
surprised at its weight. "This is money, my good friend. I cannot
accept of this."

"Indeed, my Lord, you must," responded Van Noost, "or make a great
many people very unhappy. It is your share of a purse made up amongst
the loyal and true hearts of London, for the support of all the
Preston prisoners, and for their aid in their imprisonment, their
defence, or--" and he sunk his voice in a whisper--"or their escape.
You have no more than your fair share; and I doubt not that, in a few
days, a very much larger sum may be raised, of which your portion will
be brought to you also, either by me or by somebody else."

"Their escape!" said Smeaton thoughtfully. "Think you that escape is
possible, Van Noost?"

"Nothing more possible, my Lord," replied the statuary. "Why, never
was such a scene known as there is now in the prisons. Money is
abundant--all order is gone. The jailors think they do quite enough if
they only lock the doors. They vie with each other in being corrupt;
and, if we could but raise a few thousand pounds to bribe the
scoundrels, and we managed the thing properly, your lordship might
walk out of these gates in open day, without officer, turnkey, or
warder seeing you. Such is the strange effect of a pair of gold
spectacles."

"Would I could feel so certain," returned Smeaton. "The few thousand
pounds you speak of could soon be raised. A word in my dear mother's
ear would speedily procure it, if she be still living; and, if not, I
could procure it myself."

"Think you so, my lord, think you so?" said the statuary. "Would you
but trust me so much as to write down merely the words, 'Believe what
the bearer shall tell you on my account,' sign your name, and address
it to the Dowager Countess? I see they allow you paper, pens, and
ink."

"With all my heart, Van Noost," replied Smeaton. "I am quite sure you
would rather injure yourself than me."

And he wrote down on a sheet of paper the words which had been
required.

When he had sanded the paper and was handing it to Van Noost, a sound
of bolts being drawn was heard at the door. The statuary hurriedly
concealed what he had received, and the next moment Richard Newark
came in. He advanced towards the Earl with a frank bright look, and
shook him warmly by the hand. Then, turning to Van Noost, he said,

"Ha! idol-maker! Are you here? Get you gone--get you gone to Emmeline,
and stay with her till I come. The dear _gouvernante_ has gone forth
questing like a spaniel dog upon a pheasant, from a hint I gave her
last night. Do not leave her for a minute; and, if the man refuses you
admittance, pull his nose boldly, and walk in. He is an arrant coward;
so you may venture safely."

"I will--I will, sir," replied Van Noost. "He shall not stop me on
such an errand."

"If there be two of them," continued Richard, "knock down one. That
will be enough for the other."

Van Noost hurriedly took up his hat and left the room; and Richard
Newark, taking Smeaton's hand in his, said, in a quieter tone than
usual,

"Come, Eskdale, sit down and talk to me. I must try and keep my poor
whirling brain steady for a minute or two, while you tell me all and
everything with regard to your transactions with Lord Stair. There is
your only chance of safety. If you can show that you were driven into
the insurrection against your own inclination by the conduct of
others, as I know you were, a skilful lawyer tells me that you will
certainly be pardoned. New listen to what I know, then fill up the
gaps, give me some proofs, and I will follow the scent as keenly as my
bloodhound, Bellmouth. You sent a letter long before the outbreak to
Lord Stair. That letter never reached him. It was stopped by my
father. You went over to Mount Place, led to believe that you would
see nobody but one old fool; and you found twenty or thirty, young and
old, assembled, on a hint from my father, to meet you and trap you
into treason. The Exeter people sent down dragoons, who sought you at
Mount Place, and thence tracked you to Keanton; for they had secret
information from Ale Manor."

"But what could be your father's motive?" asked Smeaton.

"Keanton, for the first; to get you out of the way of Emmeline, for
the second," answered Richard. "But never mind motives. Let us deal
with facts. You afterwards, in the north, sent your servant with a
letter to Lord Stair, on receiving intelligence that he was on before
us at Wooler. Now, Eskdale, I doubt that letter ever having been seen
by him. Nay, I am quite sure it was not."

"Higham assured me," said the young Earl, "that it was put into his
hand, that he opened it, read it, and returned it with contempt. What
can make you think that he never saw it?"

"Because Lord Stair was, on that very day and hour, more than seven
hundred miles from Wooler as the crow flies," replied Richard. "His
regiment was there, true enough; but _he_ was in Paris. A man cannot
be in two places at once, noble friend. But come, do not pause and
wonder. This is all I know. Fill up, fill up! Let me hear the whole;
and I will try if my wits are not worth something, in spite of all
folks may say against them."

Smeaton did as he was bidden; and, sitting down at the table with his
young companion, he gave him a clear and complete narrative of
everything that had occurred after his arrival at Ale Manor, and
showed him the copies he had taken of his letters to Lord Stair. More
than once Richard asked him to stop for a moment, and wrote down the
heads of what he had heard; and then, looking at the letters, he
said--

"May I take these with me to copy? You shall have them to-morrow; for
you may need them. Strange that a piece of paper should sometimes be
the best armour for a man's neck!"

"Take them, take them," replied Smeaton. "They are but unauthenticated
copies, and could not be given in evidence, if Lord Stair has not
received them. Yet I can hardly believe that Higham would play me such
a trick."

"Where did you hire him?" asked Richard.

"He was recommended to me by the man in whose house I lodged," replied
the young Earl; "a good honest fellow, who had been a servant to the
Earl of Oxford."

"Put about you by the Jacobites," replied Richard, with a laugh, "to
keep you steady in the cause, and commit you to it if you wavered. The
man must be found and made to tell the truth."

"Hear you will have to seek him in the grave," said Smeaton; "for he
was sorely wounded at Preston, where he fought as boldly as a lion."

"Never mind," replied Richard. "Some of these letters must have
reached Lord Stair, I think; and, if I get at him, I will jump upon
his back, and never take my spurs from his side till we have passed
the winning-post. Good-bye, Eskdale, good-bye. Your trial will not
come on for a month, they say; and you wont see me for a fortnight,
perhaps; but I'll be working all the time. Tell Emmeline to mind well
every step she takes; for the villain scoundrel, William Newark, alias
Somerville, has made his peace with the court, pretends that he is the
most loyal subject of King George, has betrayed all that he knew of
Kenmure's and Forster's secrets, and is watching with all his eyes to
pounce upon Emmeline. He cannot rightly make out where she is; for I
have puzzled him about it. But he thinks that if he could but get her
into his hands, Ale Manor--which is hers, you know--would be his, and
he would be a great man in his generation. Once more, good-bye,
Eskdale; and, if you hear that I am drowned, shot, stabbed, or
otherwise disposed of, do not forget me. Say to yourself--'I was kind
to the boy; and he loved me well.'"

Thus speaking, he hurried to the door, and halloo'd to the turnkey to
let him out.



CHAPTER XLII.

I will not dwell upon the first interview between Emmeline and her
husband; I will not dwell upon many that took place, for many did take
place between the time of his arrival as a prisoner in London and the
day of his trial. There are sanctities in the deep emotions of the
heart, the violation of which nothing but a holy cause can justify. I
have no right to eat the show-bread on the altar of their love. I have
no right, be they real or be they ideal characters, to intrude into
the secrets of their hearts, and place the thrilling nerves beneath a
microscope for the public eye. Suffice it to say that they met often,
daily, sometimes twice a-day, by the skilful management of her who had
been the young Earl's nurse; and that no annoyance or inconvenience
happened to the young Countess of Eskdale during nearly a month,
although some circumstances of suspicion--a number of strange men
hovering about the house, and the appearance of others dogging them in
their walk to the Tower--caused some apprehension in the mind of the
old housekeeper, and induced her to redouble her precautions.

Emmeline had seen her cousin more than once. Kind, affectionate,
self-devoted, he showed himself during their short and scanty
interviews; but those interviews were not very many. Suddenly he
disappeared, telling his fair cousin that he was about to visit Paris,
but without mentioning the business on which he went; for, although he
was very sanguine in all things, he loved her too well to give her
hopes which might be disappointed, or to shackle her exertions in
other directions by expectations from the uncertain projects he had in
view. She knew that he went for the purposes of her husband's defence,
and she thanked him with her whole heart; but this was all she knew,
and, when he was gone, she felt anxious and eager for tidings which
did not come.

Thus passed the days of a long imprisonment; but several steps had
been gained, notwithstanding. The extreme laxity of those who had
charge of the prisoners had become apparent, and Smeaton had
established a certain sort of friendship with his jailers; but the
principal fact was that they showed themselves accessible to bribes;
so that the probability of escape was reasonably added to the
probability of acquittal or of pardon. Nevertheless, with hope for
their guide, they flattered themselves that the delay in bringing the
prisoners to trial arose from the intention of sparing them; but they
experienced a bitter disappointment in the end, when Smeaton and the
rest were impeached of high treason by the House of Commons, and their
trial came on with unusual rapidity.

As is well known, the greater part of the insurgent noblemen pleaded
guilty. But Smeaton would not join in this plea. He acknowledged the
whole share he had borne in the rebellion; he entered into minute
details of all that had occurred; he showed, as well as he had the
means of showing, that he was actually driven to join the insurgents;
but he could bring no proof of the fact. Richard was still absent,
although he had promised to return in a fortnight, and nothing had
been heard of him when the trial took place. Smeaton's mere
unsupported word had little weight with the peers; but, while most of
the others were, upon their own plea, condemned at once, a space of
time was taken to consider and to allow for the collection of evidence
before his trial.

The lawyers laboured hard to induce him to withdraw his plea of not
guilty, and cast himself upon the royal mercy; but, although his mind,
till the insurrection had actually begun, had been in that doubtful
and undecided state which is most painful to men of a determined and
resolute character, yet, once having joined in it, either the
prejudices of early education resumed their sway, or the enthusiasm of
his companions infected his own mind, and he could not bring himself
to believe that there was guilt in supporting by arms the sovereign
whom all his family had served, and whose claim to the throne of
England they had never on any occasion renounced. He did not feel
himself guilty, and he would not plead guilty. It was a dishonouring
word, a word that he would not have attached to any part of his
conduct by his own act, and he resolutely adhered to his former plea.
He gave no unnecessary trouble indeed; he admitted all the facts as
they stood charged against him; but he contended that his acts were
loyal and not treasonable, and it was only as an admission that he
stated he had been willing to submit quietly to the existing state of
things. To this, he added a detail of the transactions between himself
and the Earl of Stair.

His defence was frequently interrupted; for the English law often
decrees that the evidence which would clearly exculpate any man from
all moral blame shall not be received in his justification. But he
persevered in his course, and the very men who condemned him felt for
him, and hardly believed their own words when they pronounced him
guilty.

It is a strange thing, that law of treason, which affixes the most
odious moral censure upon acts heroically mistaken and sometimes
sublimely just; which compels men, by rigid rules and the admission of
false premises, to pronounce that to be guilt which they know to be
virtue; which places the same stain upon the lowest and most selfish
crimes, and upon the most elevated patriotic deeds. A great fault
exists somewhere; it is true, order and respect for law must be
maintained; the will of the majority must rule; it may be, even, that,
for general security, men must be punished for bold attacks upon
existing institutions; but let us not be called upon to denounce as
guilt that which is mistake, or enthusiasm, or virtue.

The dark scene was over; the verdict was given, the sentence
pronounced, the blade of the axe turned towards the prisoner, and one
more of the gallant and the true was carried back from the bar to the
Tower, to await the fate of a traitor.

In the anticipation of that moment, Smeaton had often felt how
terrible it would be; he had doubted his own courage, his own
fortitude; he had nerved his mind to resist all the impulses of his
mortal nature, lest he should meanly and faint-heartedly supplicate
for life, as others had done. He recollected that there were many
endearing ties around him; that youth, and love, and hope, and high
health, and all the bright amenities of being, attached him to the
world in which he was; that it was full of delight and enjoyment to
one so constituted mentally and bodily, and that the thought of
parting with it in its hour of greatest excellence might well shake
his resolution and undermine his firmness. But when each peer had
pronounced his judgment, and when the frightful and barbarous sentence
was passed, it was marvellous, even to his own mind, how calmly he
bore himself, how firm and composed he felt. It seemed for the moment
as if the tremulous, vibrating, anxious cord between hope and fear was
snapped, and that his feet were firmly fixed upon the rock of fate.
Take away hope, and there is no such thing as fear.

During a short space of time all hope was over in his bosom. But, in
the meanwhile, others were preparing hope for him, and to two separate
scenes we must turn, where busy love was eagerly exerting itself, in
different ways and without concert, to avert the blow from his head. I
know not which to depict first; for they both occurred on the same
day, and very nearly at the same hour; but perhaps I had better choose
the one which, from presenting few if any characters already brought
under notice, may have the least interest for the reader.

Into a gorgeous room of a palace, containing a number of distinguished
persons--some marked out to the eye by the splendour of their apparel,
some by their beauty or their grace--entered a middle-aged man, small
in stature, insignificant in appearance, and with his somewhat large
head rendered more ridiculously conspicuous by a huge Ramillies wig.
He was dressed in tea-coloured velvet, with his sword by his side and
his hat on, and the door by which he entered was thrown open for him
by one of the high noblemen of the Court; while another, bearing a
light in either hand, walked backwards into the room before him. He
was a very mean-looking person; cold, unloveable in aspect, looking
like a small dancing-master in a holiday suit; but yet he was a King.

At one side of the room, supporting herself by the back of a chair,
stood a tall and queenly woman of some sixty years of age. Her natural
hair, as white as snow, appeared slightly from beneath the weeds of
widowhood, and her striking and beautiful face--beautiful even in
sorrow--was pale and worn with long and heavy sickness. The moment the
king entered, she advanced towards him, with a step firm and
dignified; but she sank upon her knees as she came near, and stretched
out her hands towards him, holding what appeared to be a petition.

"Who are you, madam, who are you?" asked the King, in French.

"I am the unhappy Countess of Eskdale, sire," replied the lady, in the
same language. "I do beseech you, hear me, and receive my petition for
my poor son. Spare him, gracious monarch--spare him, and I pledge--"

She was not permitted to finish the sentence. The cold-hearted King
drew back at her first words, and, with a sort of frightened and
repulsive look, turned towards a different door from that by which he
had entered. But the lady caught him by the skirt of his coat,
pleading with all the earnestness of maternal love for her son's life,
while he rudely endeavoured to shake himself free, walking with a
quick step towards the other side of the room, and literally dragging
her after him as she still kept her hold, endeavouring to force the
petition upon him.

A gentleman with a cut upon his brow, who had entered with the
monarch, now whispered in his ear in French:

"Be firm, sire! Be firm! Shall I remove her?"

The monarch made an eager motion of assent, and the other, casting his
arms round Lady Eskdale, tore her away. The paper, which she held in
her hand, dropped to the ground; and, instantly rising to her full
height, as the monarch passed the door, she turned a look of dignified
anger on him who had interposed to prevent the reception of her
petition, and exclaimed aloud, in English--

"Oh, William Newark, William Newark! Ever ready, like the viper, to
sting the hand that has fostered you, and to aid in all that is hard
and selfish!"

"Poor lady!" said the gentleman thus addressed, with a look of
contemptuous pity, and he followed the King. But there was another who
followed also; a grave-looking man of the middle age, with a calm and
placid countenance and a blue ribbon across his breast. With a quick
but easy step, he hurried on, and overtook King George just as he had
crossed an ante-room and was about to enter a large drawing-room
beyond--round which were grouped a great number of brilliant-looking
people in a blaze of light. He ventured to stop the sovereign in his
advance, saying something to him in a very low tone in the Latin
language; for many of the first nobility of England, at that period,
did not speak French or German, and the first George's stock of
English was not very copious.

"Who is he--who is he?" asked the monarch, also speaking Latin, though
not in its greatest purity. "What does he want at this hour?"

"He bears despatches from Lord Stair, sire," the nobleman answered who
had spoken to him; "and is charged to deliver them immediately into
your Majesty's own hands. He is the young gentleman whom your Majesty
declared to be more praiseworthy, on account of his speedy repentance
and atonement, than others who had never joined the rebellion."

He spoke still in a low tone; but the monarch replied, aloud, "Admit
him--admit him. He is a strange boy; but whatever comes from my Lord
Stair is worthy of immediate attention."

"The despatches were to be delivered in private, sire," observed the
other; "but the bearer was detained for want of horses on the Dover
road. Shall I--"

"So be it, so be it," replied the King. "Close the doors again. Make
everybody quit the room but you and Walpole, my lord; and then bring
the young man in."

The personage to whom he spoke proceeded to fulfil his commands, and
William Newark, in obedience to those commands, quitted the room with
a scowling brow, which was not brightened by the passing of Richard
Newark in the very doorway. He did not venture to say anything,
however, and the lad advanced with a small packet in his hand straight
towards the King, without any other salutation than merely a low bow.

"Bend your knee, bend your knee," said the elderly nobleman, in a
whisper, and the lad, after a moment's hesitation, did as he was
directed.

"I am glad to see you again, young gentleman," said King George. "You
have been to Paris, I suppose." And, at the same time, he took the
packet and broke it open. It contained two sheets; but, before he
proceeded to examine either of them, the monarch added a question. "Do
you know," he asked, "why Lord Stair happened to address me personally
instead of the Secretary?"

"Because the matter was for your Majesty's own ear," replied Richard
Newark, somewhat abruptly. "We do not give an apple to one boy to hand
it to another, for fear he should eat it himself."

The King laughed good-humouredly, and proceeded to read the first
sheet, which, beginning at the bottom of the first page, and ending at
the top of the fourth page, did not seem to contain much matter.
Whatever that matter was, it seemed to give the King great
satisfaction. "That is good; that is very good," he said. "He is an
invaluable man. We shall know how to honour him. All is safe in that
quarter." He then turned to the other sheet, and his face instantly
changed.

"Ha!" he said, with a curling lip, and an irritable eye "More about
this Lord Eskdale! He joined the rebels wittingly, adhered to them
till the last moment, was taken with arms in his hands, and he must
die. I have signed the warrant."

"Then kill me first, sir," rejoined Richard Newark, bluffly, "for I
first helped to engage him in the rebellion; and, had it not been for
his advice, I should never have quitted it. He went against his own
will, as your Majesty will see if you read; and, if he dies, it will
be as a bird that is caught in a trap because he was deceived by the
baits set for him. Your Majesty cannot understand till you read, any
more than I can see through that wall; for there is a great deal
beyond your sight or mine, unless a door be opened for each of us to
look through."

The King gazed at him for a moment in utter surprise, as if completely
astounded by the lad's impudence; but gradually a sense of the justice
of what he had heard seemed to overpower the slight sense of anger;
and, without answering a syllable, he turned his eyes to the paper,
and proceeded to read it to the very end. When he had done so, the
expression of his countenance was again greatly changed; a hesitating
and embarrassed look came upon his face. He put his finger under his
large wig, rubbed his temple, and pulled up one of his stockings,
which had somewhat slipped down the leg, and most likely tickled his
shin; then, turning to another gentleman present, he said, "Come with
me, Mr. Walpole--come with me, my Lord. I will go to my cabinet for a
moment."

Thus saying, he took two steps towards the door by which he had
entered, but then turned a sharp glance upon Richard Newark, who was
standing by with a vacant air, looking down at the hilt of his sword.
It was the same sword which Smeaton had given to him.

The monarch's look was certainly not very placable at first; but
something seemed to touch the risible organs in his brain or
heart--wherever they may lie--and we all know that in those organs a
great deal of the milk of human kindness is secreted. He laughed, low
but gaily, and said--

"Get away, sir, get away. Lord Stair has trusted his letters to a
somewhat indiscreet messenger."

"The best in the world could not have done better, your Majesty,"
replied Richard Newark, boldly; "for he has delivered them safely into
the best hands in the realm."

If he meant it, nothing could have been more dexterous than his reply.
It was a compliment, slightly veiled under a rudeness. But I very much
doubt whether he did mean it. However, King George smiled most
graciously, saying:

"Go, sir, go. We shall not forget you."

Richard Newark bowed and retired, while the King again took a step or
two towards the door.

Before he passed out of the room, however, the King turned to a
gentleman with a florid countenance, saying:

"We shall not meet that woman again, I hope; for I have not quite made
up my mind. Keep that man, Sir William Newark, from me. I do not like
him as I did."

So saying, and suffering Mr. Walpole and one of his attendants to
precede him, he followed slowly and thoughtfully out of the room.

The adjoining chamber was by this time vacant; the unhappy Lady
Eskdale had quitted it the moment after she had received so violent a
rebuff, and the courtiers who had been present when she sought to
force her petition upon the King, concluding that he had passed on
into the drawing-room, had thronged thither by another way. But a full
hour elapsed before the monarch joined his guests.

Now let us turn to the other scene which I have mentioned, in which
strong affection was busily engaged for Smeaton's deliverance, but in
a different manner. Let us break into the middle of it, however; for
what is to follow will explain what is passed.

"No, no, dearest lady," said old Mrs. Culpepper, in a low but eager
tone. "It must not be. The boat is prepared, the ship ready to sail
the moment his foot is on board. You must go with him, and all will be
safe."

"Then who is to stay and personate him in the prison?" asked Emmeline.
"Indeed it must be as I have said. Although you have bribed the people
to shut their eyes, yet I do not believe they dare venture to let
three people pass out when only two have passed in. In this I will
have my way, indeed. I fear nothing. I do not believe there is any man
so cruel as to punish a wife for saving her husband's life, I will
wrap myself in his _roquelaure_, and sit brooding over the fire. My
heart may beat; but no one will see it. My eyes may overflow; but I
will cover them with my hands. The first plan was the best--far the
best, and it is my bounden duty, as well as my earnest wish, to risk
anything to myself for his sake. Oh, Heaven what happiness will it be
hereafter, even if they should shut me in a prison and never let me
see his face again, to think that I have saved him!

"It is the same plan still, dear lady," replied Mrs. Culpepper, with
her usual calm and quiet manner; "but you must not, cannot execute it
in the way you propose. Consider your height, the difference between
your tiny figure and his. They would be blind indeed to mistake you,
and we cannot expect them to be so blind as that. I am shorter than he
is, but still I am very tall, and the difference will not easily be
seen. They will not mark very exactly, especially if he put his
handkerchief to his face and seem to weep. My clothes will nearly fit
him too; and--"

"And will you--will you stay in his place?" asked Emmeline, gazing in
her face, with a look of wonder and gratitude. "What will you say when
they find you there? You have no such excuse as I have."

"I will say, lady," replied the woman, earnestly, "that he drank the
milk from this breast as an infant; that he was to me as a child, when
God had taken my own; that he was my nursling, my beloved, my only
one, when I had lost all else, on earth who loved me, or whom. I could
love. Then, if they choose to shorten my days or make me pass them in
a prison, it is but little they can take away and little they can
inflict. It must be so indeed, Lady; and now we are only losing time.
They will not let us pass in or out after eleven. It is now past nine,
and it will take some time to disguise him as we wish. Haste then, to
get on your hood. I am quite ready. With this _sacque_ above my other
clothes, and a large French _capote_, everything is ready to hide his
face and figure."

Emmeline looked down thoughtfully; but she said nothing, for her heart
was too full to speak, and in a few minutes they set out upon their
adventure, followed by two men servants, whom the old housekeeper had
already prepared for the task in hand.

The moment they were gone, however, one of Sir John Newark's men, who
had lived at Ale for several years, and who had been accustomed to act
as one of his spies upon all that took place in the house, crept
silently out and pursued them with a stealthy step down the little
street. He saw them cross Tower Hill, and obtain admission at the
gates; and then, turning to the right, he approached a house in a
neighbouring street, hurrying his walk as much as he could without
converting it into a run. At the moment he reached the door, one of
the ordinary hackney coaches of the day drew up, and a gentleman in
somewhat brilliant attire descended with a slow step. The man waited
till he had paid the fare, and then plucked him by the sleeve,
whispering something in his ear. The gloomy and discontented face of
the other instantly cleared up, and he exclaimed, with a mocking
laugh--"Ha, ha! Then they have put themselves in the trap. I will away
to the Tower. You stay and watch at the gates. But no--better let them
be caught in the very act, just when they fancy themselves secure. It
will be more meritorious to bring him back after he has actually
escaped than to prevent him from doing so. You are sure, quite sure?
It would never do to take an old raven instead of a young hawk."

"I am quite sure," replied the man; "for I overheard it all, as I
listened at the hole I have made in the wall. This morning, I could
not make out which of the two it is who is to play his part; but just
now I heard, and I am quite certain. The old woman was his nurse, it
seems, and is ready to sacrifice her life for him."

"Well, well, go to the gates and watch," rejoined William Newark.
"Give instant information if they come forth. I will go and get a
messenger. There is one lives hard by."

The servant did as the other bade him; but he had not remained many
minutes near the gates of the Tower when some quick steps approached,
and he turned round towards the new corners.

"Ha, ha, old Truepenny!" said Richard Newark, taking the man's arm in
a firm grasp; "what are you on the watch for here?"

"Nothing, Master Richard," answered the man. "I am only just taking
the air."

"You won't let your intentions take the air, at all events," retorted
Richard Newark. "I know you, serviceable knave! This is the fellow,"
he continued, turning to the two young men who accompanied him, "this
is the fellow who informed of the smuggled tea."

"Then I will baste him to a stock fish," cried one of the youths,
brandishing his cudgel.

"No, no," interposed Richard, with a laugh. "Wait till you get him
back at Ale, and then tar and feather him. Hasten off, Argus, or we
will leave you no eyes to see out of."

The man had no hesitation in obeying; and, as soon as the young
gentleman had relaxed his grasp, ran across the open space as fast as
his legs would carry him.

Richard Newark then turned towards the gates again; but, taking three
steps in advance, paused, and, after a moment's thought, with his hand
pressed upon his brow, quietly glided away to a little distance,
followed by the two lads.



CHAPTER XLIII.

At the hour of half past ten, two persons issued forth from the room
in the Tower in which the young Earl of Eskdale had been long
confined. Both were dressed in female apparel; both were apparently
much affected, and it appeared very natural that they should be so, as
the following morning was appointed for the bloody spectacle of an
execution on Tower Hill. The limbs of the younger and shorter lady
trembled so much that they could hardly bear her up; but the other,
though apparently weeping and holding a handkerchief to her eyes,
seemed much more firm, and contrived to support the wavering steps of
her companion as they passed out into the passage.

The jailer who opened the door to give them exit from the room looked
in and saw a tall figure wrapped in a red cloak laced with gold,
seated by the fire, with the head leaning on the hand. "All is right,"
he cried, speaking to another man at the top of the stairs hard by.
"Pass them out!"

Hastening onward through the passages and courts of the Tower, as fast
as the agitation of the fair girl would permit, they came without
obstruction to the outer gate, where the two men servants were waiting
in the little gate-house. The turnkey who accompanied them seemed to
be a kind-hearted man for one in such an office; and, while the wicket
was being opened, he said--"Don't take it so much to heart, lady.
Perhaps he may be pardoned after all."

One of the tall warders who stood near gave him a grim contemptuous
look, and uttered a short cruel laugh; but the two visitors, without
reply, passed unopposed through the wicket, and stood upon Tower Hill.
The men servants followed, and the gate was closed.

Still keeping profoundly silent, they all walked on with great speed,
not towards the little street in which Emmeline had lived, but towards
the end of another street. When they were half way across the open
space, the latter of the two bent down, saying in a whisper--"Bear up,
bear up, dear Emmeline. We are well nigh safe now."

But hardly were the words uttered when two or three men came quickly
across, and one of them taught hold of the apparently elder woman's
arm, exclaiming, with a mocking laugh--"You are a tall lady, upon my
soul, to walk upon Tower Hill of a night! Gadzooks, we must see more
of your ladyship!"

Another man--who subsequently turned out to be a messenger sent in
pursuit--at the same moment seized the young Earl (for I need hardly
say it was he) with a hard strong grasp, exclaiming--"Henry, Earl of
Eskdale, I charge you, in the King's name, to make no resistance."

With a faint despairing cry Emmeline sank to the ground, while they
dragged Smeaton away from her side. The two servants, running up,
demanded--"Who are you who dare to stop these ladies?" and angry words
began to pass; but Smeaton interposed, saying--"It is in vain, it is
in vain. Look to your lady, my good men. Convey her home safely. God
bless you, my Emmeline!"

"What is the matter, what is the matter here?" cried Richard Newark,
suddenly appearing with two or three more, while the man who had first
seized upon Smeaton left him in the hands of the messenger, and raised
Emmeline from the ground.

"Ah, Master Dick!" he exclaimed, "have _you_ a finger in this pretty
pie? Better put yourself out of harm's way, young man, as fast as
possible."

"How dare you touch that lady, scoundrel?" demanded Richard, in a
voice furious with passion, as he recognised the person of William
Newark. "Take that for your pains!" And, holding the scabbard of his
sword with his left hand, he struck his cousin a furious blow with the
right.

William Newark started forward and drew his sword; Richard's was not
long in the sheath; but the servants interposed, and parted them for
the time, though not till words had been spoken--some in loud anger,
some in the low tones of intense hate--which bore their fruit soon
after. The last four of those words were uttered in a whisper.

"At seven, and alone," said Richard, in his cousin's ear.

The other nodded his head, and turned sullenly away, while Richard
aided to raise the unhappy girl, whose last hope had been extinguished
by her husband's recapture, and carried her, still insensible, to her
dwelling.

In the mean time, the messenger and two of his men conducted their
prisoner back to the gates of the Tower with feelings in the bosom of
Smeaton too dark, too painful, for description. To his own fate his
mind had been long made up, and the extinction of a brief hope of
escape added little to the load he had to bear; but the thought of
what might befall Emmeline in consequence of her effort to save him,
and of the certain consequences to the devoted woman who had placed
her liberty and even her life in peril for him, was too heavy to be
borne with anything like calmness.

Arrived at the gates of the Tower, they found the wicket, to their
surprise, open, and a good deal of confusion under the archway of the
gate-house. Some twelve or fourteen men were collected; a buzz of
tongues was going on; and some loud and angry words were being spoken.
The lieutenant-governor himself, in a silk dressing-gown, was present,
with a man beside him, holding a lantern; and just as the messenger
passed the wicket, still holding the prisoner fast by the arm, they
heard that officer exclaim--

"Shut the gate, shut the gate! Every one keep silence! If you can be
discreet, no harm may come of this. If not, some of your necks may pay
for it.--Ha! who have we here?"

"An escaped prisoner, Mr. Lieutenant," answered the messenger, who was
willing to take all possible credit to himself. "I am sharp enough;
and I got information of this fine plot."

The lieutenant-governor stared at him coldly, with no great appearance
of satisfaction in his countenance.

"Pray, Mr. Messenger," he said, after a moment's thought, "had you any
warrant for what you have done?"

The man looked aghast at the question, but replied, in a somewhat
insolent tone--

"I needed no warrant to apprehend a convicted traitor whom you have
suffered one way or another to slip out of the Tower."

The lieutenant still gazed at him with a frowning brow and teeth tight
shut, and then said--

"You may have to prove, Mr. Messenger, that you possess such a
justification of your conduct. _I_ tell you, you have not."

Then, turning to one of the warders, he said, in a sharp tone--

"Shut the wicket, I say, and lock it. Let no one pass in or out till I
return. Keep that man safe too," he continued, pointing to the
messenger, "and be perfectly silent with him. Let no one exchange a
word with him, as you value the King's favour.--My Lord of Eskdale,
will you do me the honour of accompanying me back to your chamber? I
wish to speak a few words with you.--Let go his arm, sir, this
instant!"

The messenger instantly relaxed his grasp; and Smeaton, not less
astonished than his captor, followed the lieutenant in silence back to
the room where he had been confined. They found the door open; but
within stood the turnkey, looking gloomy enough, with his arms crossed
upon his chest, and old Mrs. Culpepper, with the young Lord's
_roquelaure_ now cast off, seated in her usual attire before the fire.
The moment she heard steps, however, she started up, and, gazing at
Smeaton, clasped her hands together in silence, with a look of
unutterable anguish.

"Remove her to my lodging," said the lieutenant, speaking to the
turnkey, "and keep her there under your guard till I come."

The young Earl, however, started forward, and took her by the hand.

"Thanks, excellent woman!" he exclaimed, "a thousand thanks! I pray
God, as one of my last prayers, that he may defend you and my
Emmeline, and shield you from all the ill consequences of this night."

Before she could reply--for her voice was choked with sobs--she was
removed from the room; and the lieutenant, carefully closing the door,
said, with a faint and rueful smile--

"That dress does not become you, my Lord. Let me beg you to throw it
off, for I hardly know whether I am speaking to the Earl of Eskdale or
an old woman."

"That is easily done," replied Smeaton, casting off the loose garment
called a _sacque_, which was, for three-quarters of a century, a
favourite habiliment of the ladies of France and England. "Now, sir, I
am your prisoner again. I beseech you to leave me, for the last few
hours of my life, to the thoughts which befit the occasion; and, if it
be possible, to conceal the events which have taken place, so as to
shield that excellent creature and all others from the consequences."

"This is a very awkward affair, my Lord," observed the lieutenant,
thoughtfully; "and, upon my life, I do not well know what is
to be done. Will your Lordship answer me this one question on your
honour? Were any of the jailers--I do not wish you to specify the
individual--were any of the jailers accessory to your escape?"

"Not in the least, to the best of my knowledge and belief," replied
Lord Eskdale. "They have had from me the ordinary gratuities and
nothing more; nor am I aware of their having connived in the least.
They were deceived, as you yourself, perhaps, might have been by the
disguise."

"I thank your Lordship for that assurance," said the lieutenant; "for
it sets my mind greatly at ease; but yet I hardly know how to act."

"Methinks, if you were simply to report that I had endeavoured to
escape, and had been prevented, that would be all that your duty
requires."

"I do not know that," replied the lieutenant. "It is true, I never yet
heard of a pardon being revoked; but certain it is, that an attempt to
break prison--"

"A pardon!" exclaimed Smeaton, with his heart beating more vehemently
than it would have done at the sight of the block and axe. "What do
you mean, sir?"

"I mean, my Lord, exactly what I say," replied the
lieutenant-governor. "Just at the time when your Lordship must have
been preparing to effect your escape, the Secretary of State's
messenger brought me a letter, authorising me to announce to you His
Majesty's free pardon, and to say that, though it will not pass the
seal till to-morrow, you may consider yourself from this moment at
liberty. How the events of this night may be construed, and what I
ought to do in these circumstances, I really cannot tell. As a man of
honour, my Lord, what ought I to do?"

In a state of terrible agitation, Smeaton walked twice up and down the
room; and then, turning to the lieutenant, he said--

"No consideration, sir, shall make me ask you to neglect your
imperative duty. You must inform the King, however terrible the state
of suspense must be to me, and however perilous may be the result. I
could wish it, indeed, done immediately; but at this hour of the
night--"

"My Lord, you are, indeed, a noble man," replied the lieutenant; "and
I do not think you will lose by your conduct. I had retired to bed,
somewhat unwell, before the messenger arrived. He insisted upon my
being awakened, and some delay consequently occurred. Otherwise, the
pardon would have been announced to you before you made this attempt.
When I came to your room with the information, as I was commanded, I
found you gone. But I will tell you what I will do. His Majesty is
still up, for there is a court to-night; and I will immediately set
out and lay before him or the Secretary of State the facts as they
are. Stay! Perhaps it may be better for you to write to the King
yourself; and I will be your messenger. It is absolutely needful this
step should be taken at once. You have writing-materials here. Pray,
write as briefly as possible, while I put myself in a different dress
to present myself at the palace."

Thus saying, he left him; and Smeaton proceeded, with a rapid hand, to
write as follows:--


Sire--"Your Majesty's gracious clemency has been this moment announced
to me; and I beg to lay humbly the expression of my gratitude before
you. I know not anything but your own merciful consideration which can
have induced you to spare me, though I assure you, on my honour, that
the facts which I stated without proof at my trial, regarding the
causes which, if I may use the term, had driven me or misled me to
take arms, were strictly true. Let me also assure you that,
henceforth, neither directly nor indirectly, will I ever be found
opposing your title to a crown which I am now thoroughly convinced you
hold by the will of a great majority of the people, if you still
condescend to extend your mercy towards me. But at the same time, I
feel it right you should be informed that, at the very moment your
gracious pardon was notified at the Tower, I was engaged, without the
participation of any one within these walls, in an attempt to effect
my escape from prison, fully believing that in its success lay my only
chance for life. That attempt was frustrated; and I will not even
endeavour to persuade the royal officers of the Tower to conceal the
facts from you, but willingly leave my life at the disposition of a
monarch who has already shown himself more merciful towards me than I
could have expected."


He had hardly concluded when the lieutenant returned; and, in a few
minutes, the young nobleman was left once more alone, to wait with
painful anxiety for the result.

But, in the meanwhile, we must follow the lieutenant to the palace.
The Secretary of State was called out to speak with him; and, after a
brief conference, returned to the court. An hour passed, and a few
minutes more, while the lieutenant remained in an ante-room, waiting
the King's pleasure. At length, the sound of many people passing out
was heard, with the roll of carriages; and a page entering bade the
officer follow him to the King's closet. Unable to speak either French
or Latin, he could simply lay the Earl of Eskdale's letter before the
King, and trust to the secretary to translate it accurately, and give
any farther explanation. When the monarch had heard the whole,
however, he laughed good-humouredly, saying--

"Escape! Of course he did try to escape. What could a gentleman in his
situation do better? No, no; our sign-manual is to the pardon. It only
wants the seal, and we will not revoke it. We could not revoke a
pardon, gentlemen. Severity may be re-considered--mercy never.
Besides, it is clear from the evidence of Lord Stair, and from that of
Colonel Churchill, who took Thomas Higham's dying deposition, that
this young nobleman had no will to the work they put him upon; that he
was at heart our own, notwithstanding the prejudices of his family;
and that the machinations of this Sir John Newark, and others, abused
a somewhat rash and hasty disposition. Something must be done with
that same knight. I fear we cannot touch him for treason; but as to
seditious practices, there must be some law which will affect him."

"I am not sure, Sire," replied Mr. Stanhope, one of the secretaries of
state, "that this gentleman's acts do not amount to treason. His
letter to the Earl of Mar is undoubtedly treasonable."

"Well, well, see to it, see to it," said the King, "As to this young
lord, let the pardon pass. He may be set free at once."

"His Majesty says he will not revoke the pardon, Mr. Lieutenant," said
the Secretary. "You may set Lord Eskdale at liberty. But I think it
would be better if he were to pass some time in France."

The lieutenant of the Tower bowed and withdrew. Much to his
satisfaction, few questions had been asked; and, returning to the
Tower as fast as a pair of slow horses would draw him, he entered once
more that abode of gloom and sorrow. He found the messenger who had
seized Smeaton on Tower Hill, still in the gate-house, and ordered his
liberation, saying--

"You have somewhat exceeded your duty, sir; but it was in ignorance. I
find that the Earl of Eskdale's pardon was already signed. I have no
orders with regard to you. So you may go free; but you had better be
cautious."

He then proceeded straight to the room of his former prisoner, bearing
him the joyful tidings that his pardon was confirmed.

"As to this old lady," he said, "who chose to personate a young
gentleman, nothing whatever has been said with regard to her; and
therefore I suppose I must take upon myself the responsibility of
letting her go, having no warrant to detain her. With regard to
yourself, my lord, you can either remain here for the night, or depart
if you please. But I must not fail to inform you that Mr. Secretary
Stanhope hinted it might be better for you to pass some time quietly
in France. Will you pass out to-night or to-morrow?"

"To-night, assuredly," replied the young Earl. "I would fain bear the
comfortable tidings myself to those whose hearts are now full of
mourning, and first to that good old woman who has risked so much for
me."

"Come with me, then," said the lieutenant.

In about half an hour Smeaton, holding his good old nurse by the hand,
passed free through the gates of the Tower, with one of the governor's
servants carrying his little stock of baggage after them.

They took their way straight towards the street in which Emmeline's
abode had been fixed; and, though it was now nearly three o'clock in
the morning, lights were still to be seen through the crevices of the
shutters. It was with no slight anxiety that Smeaton waited for the
opening of the door, and it seemed long before it was unfastened. At
length, however, one of the men who had accompanied the Lady Emmeline
that night to the Tower appeared with a light, and uttered an
exclamation of joyful surprise when he saw the faces of those who had
just knocked.

"Hush!" said Smeaton, in a low voice. "How is your lady?"

"Oh, my lord, she will be well enough now," replied the man.

"Hark!" said Richard Newark, from the little parlour. "Hark! Emmeline,
look up. I told you so. There is hope--there is comfort still." And,
as he spoke, he threw open the door.

Emmeline had been sitting with het fair face, deluged in tears,
covered by her hands; but, at her young cousin's words, she looked
up--started forward--and in an instant was in her husband's arms.

I need not pause upon all the explanations that were given. I need not
tell the joy that was felt; and, indeed, as to the farther events of
that night, it is only necessary to say that, after hearing but a very
small portion of Smeaton's story, Richard Newark left the lovers to
their own happiness.

On the following morning, about eight o'clock, a note, written in a
crabbed boy-like hand, was given to the Earl of Eskdale, who opened it
hastily and read these words:--


"Noble friend,--I am going to try, this morning, whether you are a
good fencing-master, and whether the blade you gave me is worth
handling. Should I not join you and dear Emmy by eight o'clock, you
will hear something of me in Mary-le-bone fields. God bless you both
for a pair of loving turtles. If you don't see him again, think, from
time to time, of

    "POOR DICK."


Emmeline had not yet risen; and Smeaton, calling some of the servants
hastily together, set out with terrible feelings of apprehension, for
the spot which the note had indicated, and which, I may remark, was
notorious at the time for the number of duels which it witnessed.
Calling some people, who were better acquainted with the locality than
themselves, to their aid, they searched the fields, which then
extended where now stands Baker Street and the adjacent masses of
houses, for some time without success; but, at length, they came upon
the body of a man lying on his back, with his sword still clutched in
his grasp, an old scar on his brow, and a sword-wound right through
his chest. Life had evidently been extinct for some time; and Smeaton,
who knew him well, bestowed little thought upon him.

Near the spot where he lay, which was one pool of gore, the ground was
again dabbled with blood; and, tracking the drops which marked the
frosty grass for nearly three hundred yards, they came to a place
where, under some tall trees, and with his back leaning against one of
them, sat Richard Newark, near a stile which he had apparently
attempted, in vain, to reach. His face was ashy pale, and his hand
rested languidly against the tree; but he still held a handkerchief,
sopped in blood, to his right side, as if to staunch the bleeding of a
severe wound. He could not speak nor even lift his head at first; but
Smeaton, while one of the men ran off for a surgeon and some
restoratives, unbuttoned his waistcoat, and with remarkable skill soon
contrived to stop the current which was draining away his life. He
recovered a little in a few minutes; and, after the arrival of the
surgeon, who immediately gave him some of the essences then in vogue,
looked up, with a light smile, in his friend's face, saying, "Ha, ha,
Eskdale! I have paid our friend all debts; but that which vexed the
scoundrel most was that he should be killed by the hand of a boy, as
he called me. How he did curse when he was dying! Well, you may set up
for a fencing-master when all other trades fail, though he did whip me
his point over the arm, because I did not turn my wrist quick enough,
as you taught me."

The surgeon insisted upon his keeping silence; and a door, taken off
the hinges, being obtained, he was placed upon it and carried away to
the nearest house where lodging could be procured. There the wound he
had received was more fully examined, and proved to be in reality of
no very dangerous character, except from the great loss of blood it
had occasioned. Before evening, he was better and stronger; and the
sight of Emmeline and her husband by his bedside seemed to revive and
cheer him greatly. But as the tidings of another fatal duel in
Mary-le-bone fields began to spread, inquiries and investigations were
set on foot which, it was evident, could not long be baffled. The fact
of the duel having taken place without seconds, or witnesses, rendered
the youth's situation rather perilous; and a long consultation took
place that night between the Earl of Eskdale and the surgeon.

On the following morning, early, a ship in the Thames, bound for
Dunkirk, received some five or six persons on board, and set sail
immediately. Amongst them was Richard Newark, who was carried into the
vessel on a mattress. There was also the young and beautiful Countess
of Eskdale, somewhat pale and anxious of look, who sat upon the deck
as they dropped down the river, with her hand resting on that of a
tall dignified lady, advanced in life and habited in deep mourning.
The rest of the party consisted of Smeaton, two men servants, the good
old woman who had played such a conspicuous part in the events which
have been narrated, and a maid servant.

There can be no doubt that the government at that time connived at the
escape of many persons from the rigour of the law; and certain it is
that the vessel I have mentioned was suffered to set sail without any
obstruction. The passage was smooth and easy; and the whole party
landed safely on the shores of France.



CHAPTER XLIV.

The darker scenes of the early part of the reign of George I. had
passed away, and, though there were troubles and contentions in many
parts of Europe, and conspiracies and designs against the existing
government in England, general tranquillity reigned in this island,
and prosperity and happiness were following fast upon the steps of
peace.

But I must lead the reader away from England to a small village in
France, some eight or nine miles from the capital; a sufficient
distance to retain all its rustic quietness, and yet near enough to
allow the intelligence of the great world to penetrate before it had
grown very stale. At the distance of half a mile from this village was
placed a small French château, built in a little trim park on a rising
ground. The château had nothing remarkable about it; it was just like
all other châteaux at the same period; a congregation of oddly-shaped
masses of building, with several little round towers, having conical
slated roofs, like candles with extinguishers on their tops. It had a
sunny and pleasant aspect, however, and an avenue of fine old walnut
trees ran up to it from the high road.

In a small room in this château, very quietly furnished, sat a group
of people, with some of whom the reader is already acquainted,
enjoying a pleasant dessert of wild strawberries and light Burgundy
wine. Perfect contentment was upon all their countenances, and harmony
in all their hearts. One young man, indeed, was pale and grave, though
serene in aspect.

But I must begin with those of whom the reader as yet knows little.
They consisted of two elderly people and one young lady. The first was
a fine dignified man, somewhat beyond the middle age, with hair very
grey but with eyes still bright and keen. The second was a lady
younger, but not by many years; and, though they were both advanced in
life, as I have said, they continued to call each other by the names
of early affection.

Passing from one part of the chain of life to another very distant, we
must notice that bright-looking curly-headed boy, little more than two
years old, seated on the knee of that very beautiful girl whom he
calls "mother," in the good old Saxon tongue. It is Emmeline's boy,
and I need not say who is that gentleman by her side. An old lady
close by, now a little bowed with age, is the Dowager Countess of
Eskdale.

But who are the two whom I have mentioned as rather beyond middle
life? Emmeline calls them "father, mother;" and looks at them with
love none the less because she was so long bereaved of their fostering
care. The pale young man in a military dress, with signs of mourning,
too, in his apparel, is Richard Newark, and that fat, round,
rosy-pippin personage--Heaven! what a crowd of leaden figures rush
upon the imagination as one looks at him!

"It is strange, Dick," said Lord Eskdale, "that you and good Van Noost
should have arrived here this morning after we have not met for so
long a time! Do you know, Emmeline," he continued, turning to his
wife, "that this is the anniversary of the day on which I first set
eyes on that dear face?"

"Do you think I can ever forget it, Henry?" she answered. "It is the
first of my days of brightness. It is like a sweet song remembered in
a happy dream."

"And how can I ever thank you, my dear Lord," continued her husband,
addressing her father, "for giving me that commission to seek and
regain for you your daughter, which has ended in bestowing such
happiness on myself?"

"There are two things, my dear Harry, for which many sage friends have
blamed me," replied Lord Newark, "which I can never regret, and of the
wisdom of which even those who blamed me are now convinced; the one,
my having trusted a young man, whom I knew to be the soul of real
honour, with so delicate a task; the other, my having set at nought
all ideas of imaginary dignity, and, as a merchant, having secured to
my family that competence which I had lost by doing my duty as a
soldier. I am proud of both these acts, and both have ended in
happiness. Had my poor boys but lived to see this day, there would be
little in the past even to bring one cloud of melancholy over my
setting sun."

Richard Newark looked up in his face as he spoke, and asked--

"Would you never regret, my good Lord and cousin, having lost in the
cause of a bad prince those fair lands in Devonshire, to which I am
sure, if you feel like me, you must cling even in memory?"

"Not a whit, Dick," replied the old nobleman. "The favours of fortune,
or, as some would call them better, the gifts of God, are loans, my
dear boy, to be resumed when it is His pleasure; and--"

"Then I have borrowed them long enough," interrupted Richard Newark,
in his abrupt way; "and it is high time they should be restored."

"No, no, Dick," said Lord Newark. "They are yours since your father's
death. I have nought to do with them, and could not enjoy them even if
you gave them up."

"They are not mine at all," replied the young man, "never have been
mine, never have been my father's."

"But the forfeiture, the forfeiture!" exclaimed Lord Newark. "If
they are not yours, whose are they?"

"Emmeline's," replied her cousin. "The forfeiture extended not to her.
They were settled by deed upon your dear lady and her children, male
and female, two years before the forfeiture. You lost them by drawing
the sword against King William. She lost them, and your sons lost
them, by accompanying you in the war and in your flight. You four are
specially named in the act of attainder; and the lands fell to her at
once as the next heir. The cunning lawyers, I believe, outwitted
themselves by making the black and white parchment so particular; but
the original act, always preserved by my father, was found by Van
Noost when he went down to patch up an old monument in Aleton church
by putting a leaden hand on a stone figure. I was always sure there
was something of the kind, or my father would not have kept such a
sharp watch upon Emmy. He was not a man to keep pet birds in a cage
for the sole purpose of feeding them and hearing them sing. God rest
his soul! He did it all for me; and so I must say no more."

Lord Eskdale looked to Emmeline, with a thoughtful enquiring glance;
and she read his meaning in an instant.

"I will not take them, Dick," she said. "I cannot, will not, take them
from you. Am I not right, Henry?"

"But you must, sweet lady," replied Richard. "With what is left, I
have enough, and more than enough; so that you do not make me pay back
all that has been unjustly taken. The lands were conveyed to my father
by gift of the crown, saving the appearance of any nearer heir not
named in the act of forfeiture. The lands are yours therefore, and
ever have been yours. I will have nothing to do with them. I tell you,
dear cousin, I have enough, and far more than enough, for a single
man."

"But you may marry, Richard," said Emmeline. "You are very young to
make vows of celibacy."

"Never, never, Emmy," he said. "I will not transmit to others an
infirmity." And he laid his finger significantly upon his forehead.

A moment of grave silence succeeded; and then, looking at her father,
Emmeline, said--

"Would that I could give them back to you, my father!"

"There is nothing to prevent you, Emmy," said Richard Newark. "Lord
Stair tells me that your father can hop over the sea and perch upon
Ale at once, if he will but promise to live peaceably under the
government that exists. In a word, the attainder can be reversed in a
moment upon such a promise. His not having joined in the last affair,
where we all burnt our fingers more or less, has won him high favour."

Lord Newark bent down his head upon his hand, and fell into deep
thought.

"But come, let us talk of other things," said Richard Newark, after
pausing for an instant. "Business is dull work; and that is settled.
There is only one thing you must promise me, Eskdale and Emmeline.
When you are Lord and Lady of Ale Manor, you must let me have my
little room up two pair of stairs when I come to see you; and old Mrs.
Culpepper, when she is housekeeper again, must not make the maids
throw what she used to call my rubbish into the fire."

Emmeline held out her hand to him kindly; and her husband assured him
that he should be as free as air in any house of his.

"I have already made free with this house, at all events," replied
Richard Newark; "for I have asked Colonel Churchill to come down here
to-morrow. He wants much to see you again, Eskdale; and, I can tell
you, you owe him something more than a dinner and a bottle of wine."

"He was exceedingly courteous to me when I was a prisoner," said the
young Earl; "and I shall be very happy to see him."

"Ay, but you owe him more than that," answered Richard Newark.

"Let me tell him, let me tell him," cried Van Noost, who had sat
marvellously silent after the allusion to the leaden hand upon the
stone figure. "Let me tell him; for I first ferreted out the facts,
and got Colonel Churchill to write them down for my Lord Stair. After
he had received your surrender at Preston, my noble Lord, he went to
visit that rascal, Tom Higham, on his death-bed, and from his own lips
heard that the fellow had deceived you; that, bribed to lead you on
into the rebellion, he had given your letter into the hands of the
Colonel of Lord Stair's regiment, who tore it open, read it, and sent
it back, bidding him tell you that Lord Stair was in Paris, and that
if you would send a messenger to him, doubtless everything would be
explained, as that noble Lord had never failed in his word; not one
syllable of which the rascal told you."

"Heaven forgive him!" said Smeaton. "He did much harm."

The conversation proceeded in the same tone. But enough of it has been
given for all the purposes of this book. Were I to paint another
scene, it would be that of Christmas eve at Ale Manor House, where,
round the wide fire-place of the great hall, might be seen the faces
of the same persons as were seated round the table of that small
_château_.

But the story is long enough; and the reader's fancy must supply the
rest.



FOOTNOTES.

[Footnote 1: It was the place where the Earl of Derwentwater first
openly took part in the insurrection.]

[Footnote 2: Mr. Patten declares that he was the man who saved
Forster's life; but this is somewhat doubtful.]



THE END.





*** End of this Doctrine Publishing Corporation Digital Book "Henry Smeaton; A Jacobite Story of the Reign of George the First." ***

Doctrine Publishing Corporation provides digitized public domain materials.
Public domain books belong to the public and we are merely their custodians.
This effort is time consuming and expensive, so in order to keep providing
this resource, we have taken steps to prevent abuse by commercial parties,
including placing technical restrictions on automated querying.

We also ask that you:

+ Make non-commercial use of the files We designed Doctrine Publishing
Corporation's ISYS search for use by individuals, and we request that you
use these files for personal, non-commercial purposes.

+ Refrain from automated querying Do not send automated queries of any sort
to Doctrine Publishing's system: If you are conducting research on machine
translation, optical character recognition or other areas where access to a
large amount of text is helpful, please contact us. We encourage the use of
public domain materials for these purposes and may be able to help.

+ Keep it legal -  Whatever your use, remember that you are responsible for
ensuring that what you are doing is legal. Do not assume that just because
we believe a book is in the public domain for users in the United States,
that the work is also in the public domain for users in other countries.
Whether a book is still in copyright varies from country to country, and we
can't offer guidance on whether any specific use of any specific book is
allowed. Please do not assume that a book's appearance in Doctrine Publishing
ISYS search  means it can be used in any manner anywhere in the world.
Copyright infringement liability can be quite severe.

About ISYS® Search Software
Established in 1988, ISYS Search Software is a global supplier of enterprise
search solutions for business and government.  The company's award-winning
software suite offers a broad range of search, navigation and discovery
solutions for desktop search, intranet search, SharePoint search and embedded
search applications.  ISYS has been deployed by thousands of organizations
operating in a variety of industries, including government, legal, law
enforcement, financial services, healthcare and recruitment.



Home