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Title: Michel and Angele [A Ladder of Swords] — Complete
Author: Parker, Gilbert
Language: English
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Copyright Status: Not copyrighted in the United States. If you live elsewhere check the laws of your country before downloading this ebook. See comments about copyright issues at end of book.

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MICHEL AND ANGELE, Complete

[A Ladder of Swords]


By Gilbert Parker



INTRODUCTION

If it does not seem too childish a candour to say so, ‘Michel and
Angele’ always seems to me like some old letter lifted out of an ancient
cabinet with the faint perfume of bygone days upon it. Perhaps that is
because the story itself had its origin in a true but brief record of
some good Huguenots who fled from France and took refuge in England, to
be found, as the book declares, at the Walloon Church, in Southampton.

The record in the first paragraphs of the first chapter of the book
fascinated my imagination, and I wove round Michel de la Foret and
Angele Aubert a soft, bright cloud of romance which would not leave my
vision until I sat down and wrote out what, in the writing, seemed to
me a true history. It was as though some telepathy between the days
of Elizabeth and our own controlled me--self-hypnotism, I suppose;
but still, there it was. The story, in its original form, was first
published in ‘Harper’s Weekly’ under the name of Michel and Angele, but
the fear, I think, that many people would mispronounce the first word of
the title, induced me to change it when, double in length, it became a
volume called ‘A Ladder of Swords’.

As it originally appeared, I wrote it in the Island of Jersey, out at
the little Bay of Rozel in a house called La Chaire, a few yards away
from the bay itself, and having a pretty garden with a seat at its
highest point, from which, beyond the little bay, the English Channel
ran away to the Atlantic. It was written in complete seclusion. I had
no visitors; there was no one near, indeed, except the landlord of the
little hotel in the bay, and his wife. All through the Island, however,
were people whom I knew, like the Malet de Carterets, the Lemprieres,
and old General Pipon, for whom the Jersey of three hundred years
ago was as near as the Jersey of to-day, so do the Jersiais prize,
cultivate, and conserve every hour of its recorded history.

As the sea opens out to a vessel making between the promontories to the
main, so, while writing this tale which originally was short, the larger
scheme of ‘The Battle of the Strong’ spread out before me, luring me,
as though in the distance were the Fortunate Isles. Eight years after
‘Michel and Angele’ was written and first published in ‘Harper’s
Weekly’, I decided to give it the dignity of a full-grown romance. For
years I had felt that it had the essentials for a larger canvas, and at
the earnest solicitation of Messrs. Harper & Brothers I settled to do
what had long been in my mind. The narrative grew as naturally from
what it was to larger stature as anything that had been devised upon a
greater scale at the beginning; and in London town I had the same joy
in the company of Michel and Angele--and a vastly increased joy in the
company of Lempriere, the hulking, joyous giant--as I had years before
in Jersey itself when the story first stirred in my mind and reached my
pen.

While adverse reviews of the book were few if any, it cannot be said
that this romance is a companion in popularity with, for instance, ‘The
Right of Way’. It had its friends, but it has apparently appealed to
smaller audiences--to those who watch the world go by; who are not
searching for the exposure of life’s grim realities; who do not seek the
clinic of the soul’s tragedies. There was tragedy here, but there was
comedy too; there was also joy and faith, patience and courage. The
book, taken by itself, could not make a permanent reputation for any
man, but it has its place in the scheme of my work, and I would not have
it otherwise than it is.



A NOTE

There will be found a few anachronisms in this tale, but none so
important as to give a wrong impression of the events of Queen
Elizabeth’s reign.



MICHEL AND ANGELE



CHAPTER I

If you go to Southampton and search the register of the Walloon Church
there, you will find that in the summer of ‘57,

   “Madame Vefue de Montgomery with all her family and servants were
   admitted to the Communion”--“Tous ceux ce furent Recus la a Cene du
   ‘57, comme passans, sans avoir Rendu Raison de la foj, mes sur la
   tesmognage de Mons. Forest, Ministre de Madame, quj certifia quj ne
   cognoisoit Rien en tout ceux la po’ quoy Il ne leur deust administre
   la Cene s’il estoit en lieu po’ a ferre.”

There is another striking record, which says that in August of the same
year Demoiselle Angele Claude Aubert, daughter of Monsieur de la Haie
Aubert, Councillor of the Parliament of Rouen, was married to Michel de
la Foret, of the most noble Flemish family of that name.

When I first saw these records, now grown dim with time, I fell to
wondering what was the real life-history of these two people. Forthwith,
in imagination, I began to make their story piece by piece; and I had
reached a romantic ‘denoument’ satisfactory to myself and in sympathy
with fact, when the Angel of Accident stepped forward with some “human
documents.” Then I found that my tale, woven back from the two obscure
records I have given, was the true story of two most unhappy yet most
happy people. From the note struck in my mind, when my finger touched
that sorrowful page in the register of the Church of the Refugees at
Southampton, had spread out the whole melody and the very book of the
song.

One of the later-discovered records was a letter, tear-stained, faded,
beautifully written in old French, from Demoiselle Angele Claude Aubert
to Michel de la Foret at Anvers in March of the year 157_. The letter
lies beside me as I write, and I can scarcely believe that three and
a quarter centuries have passed since it was written, and that she who
wrote it was but eighteen years old at the time. I translate it into
English, though it is impossible adequately to carry over either the
flavour or the idiom of the language:

   Written on this May Day of the year 157_, at the place hight Rozel
   in the Manor called of the same of Jersey Isle, to Michel de la
   Foret, at Anvers in Flanders.

   MICHEL, Thy good letter by safe carriage cometh to my hand, bringing
   to my heart a lightness it hath not known since that day when I was
   hastily carried to the port of St. Malo, and thou towards the King
   his prison. In what great fear have I lived, having no news of thee
   and fearing all manner of mischance! But our God hath benignly
   saved thee from death, and me He hath set safely here in this isle
   of the sea.

   Thou hast ever been a brave soldier, enduring and not fearing; thou
   shalt find enow to keep thy blood stirring in these days of trial
   and peril to us who are so opprobriously called Les Huguenots. If
   thou wouldst know more of my mind thereupon, come hither. Safety is
   here, and work for thee--smugglers and pirates do abound on these
   coasts, and Popish wolves do harry the flock even in this island
   province of England. Michel, I plead for the cause which thou hast
   nobly espoused, but--alas! my selfish heart, where thou art lie work
   and fighting, and the same high cause, and sadly, I confess, it is
   for mine own happiness that I ask thee to come. I wot well that
   escape from France hath peril, that the way hither from that point
   upon yonder coast called Carteret is hazardous, but yet-but yet all
   ways to happiness are set with hazard.

   If thou dost come to Carteret thou wilt see two lights turning this-
   wards: one upon a headland called Tour de Rozel, and one upon the
   great rock called of the Ecrehos. These will be in line with thy
   sight by the sands of Hatainville. Near by the Tour de Rozel shall
   I be watching and awaiting thee. By day and night doth my prayer
   ascend for thee.

   The messenger who bears this to thee (a piratical knave with a most
   kind heart, having, I am told, a wife in every port of France and of
   England the south, a most heinous sin!) will wait for thy answer, or
   will bring thee hither, which is still better. He is worthy of
   trust if thou makest him swear by the little finger of St. Peter.
   By all other swearings he doth deceive freely.

   The Lord make thee true, Michel. If thou art faithful to me, I
   shall know how faithful thou art in all; for thy vows to me were
   most frequent and pronounced, with a full savour that might warrant
   short seasoning. Yet, because thou mayst still be given to such
   dear fantasies of truth as were on thy lips in those dark days
   wherein thy sword saved my life ‘twixt Paris and Rouen, I tell thee
   now that I do love thee, and shall so love when, as my heart
   inspires me, the cloud shall fall that will hide us from each other
   forever.

                       ANGELE.

   An Afterword:

   I doubt not we shall come to the heights where there is peace,
   though we climb thereto by a ladder of swords. A.

Some years before Angele’s letter was written, Michel de la Foret had
become an officer in the army of Comte Gabriel de Montgomery, and fought
with him until what time the great chief was besieged in the Castle of
Domfront in Normandy. When the siege grew desperate, Montgomery besought
the intrepid young Huguenot soldier to escort Madame de Montgomery to
England, to be safe from the oppression and misery sure to follow any
mishap to this noble leader of the Camisards.

At the very moment of departure of the refugees from Domfront with the
Comtesse, Angele’s messenger--the “piratical knave with the most kind
heart” presented himself, delivered her letter to De la Foret, and
proceeded with the party to the coast of Normandy by St. Brieuc.
Embarking there in a lugger which Buonespoir the pirate secured for
them, they made for England.

Having come but half-way of the Channel, the lugger was stopped by an
English frigate. After much persuasion the captain of the frigate agreed
to land Madame de Montgomery upon the island of Jersey, but forced De la
Foret to return to the coast of France; and Buonespoir elected to return
with him.



CHAPTER II

Meanwhile Angele had gone through many phases of alternate hope and
despair. She knew that Montgomery the Camisard was dead, and a rumour,
carried by refugees, reached her that De la Foret had been with him to
the end. To this was presently added the word that De la Foret had been
beheaded. But one day she learned that the Comtesse de Montgomery
was sheltered by the Governor, Sir Hugh Pawlett, her kinsman, at Mont
Orgueil Castle. Thither she went in fear from her refuge at Rozel, and
was admitted to the Comtesse. There she learned the joyful truth that De
la Foret had not been slain, and was in hiding on the coast of Normandy.

The long waiting was a sore trial, yet laughter was often upon her
lips henceforth. The peasants, the farmers and fishermen of Jersey,
at first--as they have ever been--little inclined towards strangers,
learned at last to look for her in the fields and upon the shore, and
laughed in response, they knew not why, to the quick smiling of
her eyes. She even learned to speak their unmusical but friendly
Norman-Jersey French. There were at least a half-dozen fishermen who,
for her, would have gone at night straight to the Witches’ Rock in St.
Clement’s Bay--and this was bravery unmatched.

It came to be known along the coast that “Ma’m’selle” was waiting for a
lover fleeing from the French coast. This gave her fresh interest in the
eyes of the serfs and sailors and their women folk, who at first were
not inclined towards the Huguenot maiden, partly because she was French,
and partly because she was not a Catholic. But even these, when they saw
that she never talked religiously, that she was fast learning to speak
their own homely patois, and that in the sickness of their children she
was untiring in her kindness, forgave the austerity of the gloomy-browed
old man her father, who spoke to them distantly, or never spoke at all;
and her position was secure. Then, upon the other hand, the gentry of
the manors, seeing the friendship grow between her and the Comtesse de
Montgomery at Mont Orgueil Castle, made courteous advances towards her
father, and towards herself through him.

She could scarce have counted the number of times she climbed the great
hill like a fortress at the lift of the little bay of Rozel, and from
the Nez du Guet scanned the sea for a sail and the sky for fair weather.
When her eyes were not thus busy, they were searching the lee of the
hillside round for yellow lilies, and the valley below for the campion,
the daffodil, and the thousand pretty ferns growing in profusion there.
Every night she looked out to see that her signal fire was lit upon the
Nez du Guet, and she never went to bed without taking one last look over
the sea, in the restless inveterate hope which at once sustained her and
devoured her.

But the longest waiting must end. It came on the evening of the very day
that the Seigneur of Rozel went to Angele’s father and bluntly told him
he was ready to forego all Norman-Jersey prejudice against the French
and the Huguenot religion, and take Angele to wife without penny or
estate.

In reply to the Seigneur, Monsieur Aubert said that he was conscious of
an honour, and referred Monsieur to his daughter, who must answer for
herself; but he must tell Monsieur of Rozel that Monsieur’s religion
would, in his own sight, be a high bar to the union. To that the
Seigneur said that no religion that he had could be a bar to anything at
all; and so long as the young lady could manage her household, drive a
good bargain with the craftsmen and hucksters, and have the handsomest
face and manners in the Channel Islands, he’d ask no more; and she might
pray for him and his salvation without let or hindrance.

The Seigneur found the young lady in a little retreat among the rocks,
called by the natives La Chaire. Here she sat sewing upon some coarse
linen for a poor fisherwoman’s babe when the Seigneur came near. She
heard the scrunch of his heels upon the gravel, the clank of his sword
upon the rocks, and looked up with a flush, her needle poised; for none
should know of her presence in this place save her father. When she saw
who was her visitor, she rose. After greeting and compliment, none too
finely put, but more generous than fitted with Jersey parsimony, the
gentleman of Rozel came at once to the point.

“My name is none too bad,” said he--“Raoul Lempriere, of the Lemprieres
that have been here since Rollo ruled in Normandy. My estate is none
worse than any in the whole islands; I have more horses and dogs than
any gentleman of my acres; and I am more in favour at court than De
Carteret of St. Ouen’s. I am the Queen’s butler, and I am the first that
royal favour granted to set up three dove-cotes, one by St. Aubin’s, one
by St. Helier’s, and one at Rozel: and--and,” he added, with a lumbering
attempt at humour--“and, on my oath, I’ll set up another dove-cote with
out my sovereign’s favour, with your leave alone. By our Lady, I do
love that colour in yon cheek! Just such a colour had my mother when
she snatched from the head of my cousin of Carteret’s milk-maid wife
the bonnet of a lady of quality and bade her get to her heifers. God’s
beauty! but ‘tis a colour of red primroses in thy cheeks and blue
campions in thine eyes. Come, I warrant I can deepen that colour”--he
bowed low--“Madame of Rozel, if it be not too soon!”

The girl listened to this cheerful and loquacious proposal and courtship
all in one, ending with the premature bestowal of a title, in mingled
anger, amusement, disdain, and apprehension. Her heart fluttered, then
stood still, then flew up in her throat, then grew terribly hot and hurt
her, so that she pressed her hand to her bosom as though that might ease
it. By the time he had finished, drawn himself up, and struck his foot
upon the ground in burly emphasis of his devoted statements, the girl
had sufficiently recovered to answer him composedly, and with a little
glint of demure humour in her eyes. She loved another man; she did
not care so much as a spark for this happy, swearing, swashbuckling
gentleman; yet she saw he had meant to do her honour. He had treated her
as courteously as was in him to do; he chose her out from all the ladies
of his acquaintance to make her an honest offer of his hand--he had
said nothing about his heart; he would, should she marry him, throw her
scraps of good-humour, bearish tenderness, drink to her health among his
fellows, and respect and admire her--even exalt her almost to the rank
of a man in his own eyes; and he had the tolerance of the open-hearted
and open-handed man. All these things were as much a compliment to
her as though she were not a despised Huguenot, an exiled lady of no
fortune. She looked at him a moment with an almost solemn intensity, so
that he shifted his ground uneasily, but at once smiled encouragingly,
to relieve her embarrassment at the unexpected honour done her. She had
remained standing; now, as he made a step towards her, she sank down
upon the seat, and waved him back courteously.

“A moment, Monsieur of Rozel,” she ventured. “Did my father send you to
me?”

He inclined his head and smiled again.

“Did you say to him what you have said to me?” she asked, not quite
without a touch of malice.

“I left out about the colour in the cheek,” he answered, with a smirk at
what he took to be the quickness of his wit.

“You kept your paint-pot for me,” she replied softly.

“And the dove-cote, too,” he rejoined, bowing finely, and almost carried
off his feet by his own brilliance. She became serious at once--so
quickly that he was ill prepared for it, and could do little but stare
and pluck at the tassel of his sword; for he was embarrassed before this
maiden, who changed as quickly as the currents change under the brow of
the Couperon Cliff, behind which lay his manor-house of Rozel.

“I have visited at your manor, Monsieur of Rozel. I have seen the state
in which you live, your retainers, your men-at-arms, your farming-folk,
and your sailormen. I know how your Queen receives you; how your honour
is as stable as your fief.”

He drew himself up again proudly. He could understand this speech.

“Your horses and your hounds I have seen,” she added, “your men-servants
and your maid-servants, your fields of corn, your orchards, and your
larder. I have sometimes broken the Commandment and coveted them and
envied you.”

“Break the Commandment again, for the last time,” he cried, delighted
and boisterous. “Let us not waste words, lady. Let’s kiss and have it
over.”

Her eyes flashed. “I coveted them and envied you; but then, I am but a
vain girl at times, and vanity is easier to me than humbleness.”

“Blood of man, but I cannot understand so various a creature!” he broke
in, again puzzled.

“There is a little chapel in the dell beside your manor, Monsieur. If
you will go there, and get upon your knees, and pray till the candles no
more burn, and the Popish images crumble in their places, you will yet
never understand myself or any woman.”

“There’s no question of Popish images between us,” he answered, vainly
trying for foothold. “Pray as you please, and I’ll see no harm comes to
the Mistress of Rozel.”

He was out of his bearings and impatient. Religion to him was a dull
recreation invented chiefly for women. She became plain enough now.
“‘Tis no images nor religion that stands between us,” she answered,
“though they might well do so. It is that I do not love you, Monsieur of
Rozel.”

His face, which had slowly clouded, suddenly cleared. “Love! Love!” He
laughed good-humouredly. “Love comes, I’m told, with marriage. But we
can do well enough without fugling on that pipe. Come, come, dost think
I’m not a proper man and a gentleman? Dost think I’ll not use thee well
and ‘fend thee, Huguenot though thou art, ‘gainst trouble or fret or any
man’s persecutions--be he my Lord Bishop, my Lord Chancellor, or King of
France, or any other?”

She came a step closer to him, even as though she would lay a hand upon
his arm. “I believe that you would do all that in you lay,” she answered
steadily. “Yours is a rough wooing, but it is honest--”

“Rough! Rough!” he protested, for he thought he had behaved like some
Adonis. Was it not ten years only since he had been at Court!

“Be assured, Monsieur, that I know how to prize the man who speaks after
the light given him. I know that you are a brave and valorous gentleman.
I must thank you most truly and heartily, but, Monsieur, you and yours
are not for me. Seek elsewhere, among your own people, in your own
religion and language and position, the Mistress of Rozel.”

He was dumfounded. Now he comprehended the plain fact that he had been
declined.

“You send me packing!” he blurted out, getting red in the face.

“Ah, no! Say it is my misfortune that I cannot give myself the great
honour,” she said; in her tone a little disdainful dryness, a little
pity, a little feeling that here was a good friend lost.

“It’s not because of the French soldier that was with Montgomery at
Domfront?--I’ve heard that story. But he’s gone to heaven, and ‘tis vain
crying for last year’s breath,” he added, with proud philosophy.

“He is not dead. And if he were,” she added, “do you think, Monsieur,
that we should find it easier to cross the gulf between us?”

“Tut, tut, that bugbear Love!” he said shortly. “And so you’d lose a
good friend for a dead lover? I’ faith, I’d befriend thee well if thou
wert my wife, Ma’m’selle.”

“It is hard for those who need friends to lose them,” she answered
sadly.

The sorrow of her position crept in upon her and filled her eyes with
tears. She turned them to the sea-instinctively towards that point on
the shore where she thought it likely Michel might be; as though by
looking she might find comfort and support in this hard hour.

Even as she gazed into the soft afternoon light she could see, far over,
a little sail standing out towards the Ecrehos. Not once in six months
might the coast of France be seen so clearly. One might almost have
noted people walking on the beach. This was no good token, for when that
coast may be seen with great distinctness a storm follows hard after.
The girl knew this; and though she could not know that this was Michel
de la Foret’s boat, the possibility fixed itself in her mind. She
quickly scanned the horizon. Yes, there in the north-west was gathering
a dark-blue haze, hanging like small filmy curtains in the sky.

The Seigneur of Rozel presently broke the silence so awkward for him. He
had seen the tears in her eyes, and though he could not guess the cause,
he vaguely thought it might be due to his announcement that she had
lost a friend. He was magnanimous at once, and he meant what he said and
would stand by it through thick and thin.

“Well, well, I’ll be thy everlasting friend if not thy husband,” he said
with ornate generosity. “Cheer thy heart, lady.”

With a sudden impulse she seized his hand and kissed it, and, turning,
ran swiftly down the rocks towards her home.

He stood and looked after her, then, dumfounded, at the hand she had
kissed.

“Blood of my heart!” he said, and shook his head in utter amazement.

Then he turned and looked out upon the Channel. He saw the little boat
Angele had descried making from France. Glancing at the sky, “What fools
come there!” he said anxiously.

They were Michel de la Foret and Buonespoir the pirate, in a
black-bellied cutter with red sails.



CHAPTER III

For weeks De la Foret and Buonespoir had lain in hiding at St. Brieuc.
At last Buonespoir declared all was ready once again. He had secured for
the Camisard the passport and clothes of a priest who had but just died
at Granville. Once again they made the attempt to reach English soil.

Standing out from Carteret on the Belle Suzanne, they steered for the
light upon the Marmotier Rocks of the Ecrehos, which Angele had paid a
fisherman to keep going every night. This light had caused the French
and English frigates some uneasiness, and they had patrolled the Channel
from Cap de la Hague to the Bay of St. Brieuc with a vigilance worthy
of a larger cause. One fine day an English frigate anchored off the
Ecrehos, and the fisherman was seized. He, poor man, swore that he kept
the light burning to guide his brother fishermen to and fro between
Boulay Bay and the Ecrehos. The captain of the frigate tried severities;
but the fisherman stuck to his tale, and the light burned on as
before--a lantern stuck upon a pole. One day, with a telescope,
Buonespoir had seen the exact position of the staff supporting the
light, and had mapped out his course accordingly. He would head straight
for the beacon and pass between the Marmotier and the Maitre Ile, where
is a narrow channel for a boat drawing only a few feet of water. Unless
he made this, he must run south and skirt the Ecriviere Rock and
bank, where the streams setting over the sandy ridges make a confusing
perilous sea to mariners in bad weather. Else, he must sail north
between the Ecrehos and the Dirouilles, in the channel called Etoc, a
tortuous and dangerous passage save in good weather, and then safe only
to the mariner who knows the floor of that strait like his own hand. De
la Foret was wholly in the hands of Buonespoir, for he knew nothing of
these waters and coasts; also he was a soldier and no sailor.

They cleared Cape Carteret with a fair wind from the north-east, which
should carry them safely as the bird flies to the haven of Rozel. The
high, pinkish sands of Hatainville were behind them; the treacherous
Taillepied Rocks lay to the north, and a sweet sea before. Nothing could
have seemed fairer and more hopeful. But a few old fishermen on shore
at Carteret shook their heads dubiously, and at Port Bail, some miles
below, a disabled naval officer, watching through a glass, rasped out,
“Criminals or fools!” But he shrugged his shoulders, for if they were
criminals he was sure they would expiate their crimes this night, and if
they were fools--he had no pity for fools.

But Buonespoir knew his danger. Truth is, he had chosen this night
because they would be safest from pursuit, because no sensible seafaring
man, were he King’s officer or another, would venture forth upon the
impish Channel, save to court disaster. Pirate, and soldier in priest’s
garb, had frankly taken the chances.

With a fair wind they might, with all canvas set--mainsail, foresail,
jib, and fore-topsail--make Rozel Bay within two hours and a quarter.
All seemed well for a brief half-hour. Then, even as the passage between
the Marmotier and the Ecrehos opened out, the wind suddenly shifted from
the north-east to the southwest and a squall came hurrying on them--a
few moments too soon; for, had they been clear of the Ecrehos, clear of
the Taillepieds, Felee Bank, and the Ecriviere, they could have stood
out towards the north in a more open sea.

Yet there was one thing in their favour: the tide was now running hard
from the north-west, so fighting for them while the wind was against
them. Their only safety lay in getting beyond the Ecrehos. If they
attempted to run in to the Marmotier for safety, they would presently be
at the mercy of the French. To trust their doubtful fortunes and bear on
was the only way. The tide was running fast. They gave the mainsail to
the wind still more, and bore on towards the passage. At last, as they
were opening on it, the wind suddenly veered full north-east. The sails
flapped, the boat seemed to hover for a moment, and then a wave swept
her towards the rocks. Buonespoir put the helm hard over, she went
about, and they close-hauled her as she trembled towards the rocky
opening.

This was the critical instant. A heavy sea was running, the gale was
blowing hard from the north-east, and under the close-hauled sail the
Belle Suzanne was lying over dangerously. But the tide, too, was running
hard from the south, fighting the wind; and, at the moment when all
seemed terribly uncertain, swept them past the opening and into the
swift-running channel, where the indraught sucked them through to the
more open water beyond.

Although the Belle Suzanne was in more open water now, the danger was
not over. Ahead lay a treacherous sea, around them roaring winds, and
the perilous coast of Jersey beyond all.

“Do you think we shall land?” quietly asked De la Foret, nodding towards
the Jersey coast.

“As many chances ‘gainst it as for it, M’sieu’,” said Buonespoir,
turning his face to the north, for the wind had veered again to
north-east, and he feared its passing to the north-west, giving them a
head-wind and a swooping sea.

Night came down, but with a clear sky and a bright moon; the wind,
however, not abating. The next three hours were spent in tacking, in
beating towards the Jersey coast under seas which almost swamped them.
They were standing off about a mile from the island, and could see
lighted fires and groups of people upon the shore, when suddenly a gale
came out from the southwest, the wind having again shifted. With an
oath, Buonespoir put the helm hard over, the Belle Suzanne came about
quickly, but as the gale struck her, the mast snapped like a pencil, she
heeled over, and the two adventurers were engulfed in the waves.

A cry of dismay went up from the watchers on the shore. They turned with
a half-conscious sympathy towards Angele, for her story was known by
all, and in her face they read her mortal fear, though she made no cry,
but only clasped her hands in agony. Her heart told her that yonder
Michel de la Foret was fighting for his life. For an instant only she
stood, the terror of death in her eyes, then she turned to the excited
fishermen near.

“Men, oh men,” she cried, “will you not save them? Will no one come with
me?”

Some shook their heads sullenly, others appeared uncertain, but their
wives and children clung to them, and none stirred. Looking round
helplessly, Angele saw the tall figure of the Seigneur of Rozel. He had
been watching the scene for some time. Now he came quickly to her.

“Is it the very man?” he asked her, jerking a finger towards the
struggling figures in the sea.

“Yes, oh yes,” she replied, nodding her head piteously. “God tells my
heart it is.”

Her father drew near and interposed.

“Let us kneel and pray for two dying men,” said he, and straightway
knelt upon the sand.

“By St. Martin, we’ve better medicine than that, apothecary!” said
Lempriere of Rozel loudly, and, turning round, summoned two serving-men.
“Launch my strong boat,” he added. “We will pick these gentlemen from
the brine, or know the end of it all.”

The men hurried gloomily to the long-boat, ran her down to the shore and
into the surf.

“You are going--you are going to save him, dear Seigneur?” asked the
girl tremulously.

“To save him--that’s to be seen, mistress,” answered Lempriere,
and advanced to the fishermen. By dint of hard words, and as hearty
encouragement and promises, he got a half-dozen strong sailors to man
the boat.

A moment after, they were all in. At a motion from the Seigneur, the
boat was shot out into the surf, and a cheer from the shore gave heart
to De la Foret and Buonespoir, who were being driven upon the rocks.

The Jerseymen rowed gallantly; and the Seigneur, to give them heart,
promised a shilling, a capon, and a gallon of beer to each, if the
rescue was made. Again and again the two men seemed to sink beneath the
sea, and again and again they came to the surface and battled further,
torn, battered, and bloody, but not beaten. Cries of “We’re coming,
gentles, we’re coming!” from the Seigneur of Rozel, came ringing through
the surf to the dulled ears of the drowning men, and they struggled on.

There never was a more gallant rescue. Almost at their last gasp the two
were rescued.

“Mistress Aubert sends you welcome, sir, if you be Michel de la Foret,”
 said Lempriere of Rozel, and offered the fugitive his horn of liquor as
he lay blown and beaten in the boat.

“I am he,” De la Foret answered. “I owe you my life, Monsieur,” he
added.

Lempriere laughed. “You owe it to the lady; and I doubt you can properly
pay the debt,” he answered, with a toss of the head; for had not the
lady refused him, the Seigneur of Rozel, six feet six in height, and all
else in proportion, while this gentleman was scarce six feet.

“We can have no quarrel upon the point,” answered De la Foret, reaching
out his hand; “you have at least done tough work for her, and if I
cannot pay in gold, I can in kind. It was a generous deed, and it has
made a friend for ever of Michel de la Foret.”

“Raoul Lempriere of Rozel they call me, Michel de la Foret, and by Rollo
the Duke, but I’ll take your word in the way of friendship, as the lady
yonder takes it for riper fruit! Though, faith, ‘tis fruit of a short
summer, to my thinking.”

All this while Buonespoir the pirate, his face covered with blood, had
been swearing by the little finger of St. Peter that each Jerseyman
there should have the half of a keg of rum. He went so far in gratitude
as to offer the price of ten sheep which he had once secretly raided
from the Seigneur of Rozel and sold in France; for which he had been
seized on his later return to the island, and had escaped without
punishment.

Hearing, Lempriere of Rozel roared at him in anger: “Durst speak to me!
For every fleece you thieved I’ll have you flayed with bow-strings if
ever I sight your face within my boundaries.”

“Then I’ll fetch and carry no more for M’sieu’ of Rozel,” said
Buonespoir, in an offended tone, but grinning under his reddish beard.

“When didst fetch and carry for me, varlet?” Lempriere roared again.

“When the Seigneur of Rozel fell from his horse, overslung with sack,
the night of the royal Duke’s visit, and the footpads were on him, I
carried him on my back to the lodge of Rozel Manor. The footpads had
scores to settle with the great Rozel.”

For a moment the Seigneur stared, then roared again, but this time with
laughter.

“By the devil and Rollo, I have sworn to this hour that there was no man
in the isle could have carried me on his shoulders. And I was right, for
Jersiais you’re none, neither by adoption nor grace, but a citizen of
the sea.”

He laughed again as a wave swept over them, drenching them, and a sudden
squall of wind came out of the north. “There’s no better head in the
isle than mine for measurement and thinking, and I swore no man under
eighteen stone could carry me, and I am twenty-five--I take you to be
nineteen stone, eh?”

“Nineteen, less two ounces,” grinned Buonespoir.

“I’ll laugh De Carteret of St. Ouen’s out of his stockings over this,”
 answered Lempriere. “Trust me for knowing weights and measures! Look
you, varlet, thy sins be forgiven thee. I care not about the fleeces, if
there be no more stealing. St. Ouen’s has no head--I said no one man in
Jersey could have done it--I’m heavier by three stone than any man in
the island.” Thereafter there was little speaking among them, for the
danger was greater as they neared the shore. The wind and the sea were
against them; the tide, however, was in their favour. Others besides
M. Aubert offered up prayers for the safe-landing of the rescued and
rescuers. Presently an ancient fisherman broke out into a rude sailor’s
chanty, and every voice, even those of the two Huguenots, took it up:

     “When the Four Winds, the Wrestlers, strive with the Sun,
     When the Sun is slain in the dark;
     When the stars burn out, and the night cries
     To the blind sea-reapers, and they rise,
     And the water-ways are stark--
        God save us when the reapers reap!
     When the ships sweep in with the tide to the shore,
     And the little white boats return no more;
     When the reapers reap, Lord give Thy sailors sleep,
     If Thou cast us not upon the shore,
     To bless Thee evermore:
     To walk in Thy sight as heretofore
     Though the way of the Lord be steep!
     By Thy grace,
     Show Thy face,
        Lord of the land and the deep!”

The song stilled at last. It died away in the roar of the surf, in
the happy cries of foolish women, and the laughter of men back from
a dangerous adventure. As the Seigneur’s boat was drawn up the shore,
Angele threw herself into the arms of Michel de la Foret, the soldier
dressed as a priest.

Lempriere of Rozel stood abashed before this rich display of feeling.
In his hottest youth he could not have made such passionate motions of
affection. His feelings ran neither high nor broad, but neither did they
run low and muddy. His nature was a straight level of sensibility--a
rough stream between high banks of prejudice, topped with the foam of
vanity, now brawling in season, and now going steady and strong to the
sea. Angele had come to feel what he was beneath the surface. She
felt how unimaginative he was, and how his humour, which was but the
horse-play of vanity, helped him little to understand the world or
himself. His vanity was ridiculous, his self-importance was against
knowledge or wisdom; and Heaven had given him a small brain, a big and
noble heart, a pedigree back to Rollo, and the absurd pride of a little
lord in a little land. Angele knew all this; but realised also that he
had offered her all he was able to offer to any woman.

She went now and put out both hands to him. “I shall ever pray God’s
blessing on the lord of Rozel,” she said, in a low voice.

“‘Twould fit me no better than St. Ouen’s sword fits his fingers. I’ll
take thine own benison, lady--but on my cheek, not on my hand as this
day before at four of the clock.” His big voice lowered. “Come, come,
the hand thou kissed, it hath been the hand of a friend to thee, as
Raoul Lempriere of Rozel said he’d be. Thy lips upon his cheek, though
it be but a rough fellow’s fancy, and I warrant, come good, come
ill, Rozel’s face will never be turned from thee. Pooh, pooh! let yon
soldier-priest shut his eyes a minute; this is ‘tween me and thee; and
what’s done before the world’s without shame.”

He stopped short, his black eyes blazing with honest mirth and kindness,
his breath short, having spoken in such haste.

Her eyes could scarce see him, so full of tears were they; and, standing
on tiptoe, she kissed him upon each cheek.

“‘Tis much to get for so little given,” she said, with a quiver in her
voice; “yet this price for friendship would be too high to pay to any
save the Seigneur of Rozel.”

She hastily turned to the men who had rescued Michel and Buonespoir.
“If I had riches, riches ye should have, brave men of Jersey,” she said;
“but I have naught save love and thanks, and my prayers too, if ye will
have them.”

“‘Tis a man’s duty to save his fellow an’ he can,” cried a gaunt
fisherman, whose daughter was holding to his lips a bowl of conger-eel
soup.

“‘Twas a good deed to send us forth to save a priest of Holy Church,”
 cried a weazened boat-builder with a giant’s arm, as he buried his
face in a cup of sack, and plunged his hand into a fishwife’s basket of
limpets.

“Aye, but what means she by kissing and arm-getting with a priest?”
 cried a snarling vraic-gatherer. “‘Tis some jest upon Holy Church, or
yon priest is no better than common men but an idle shame.”

By this time Michel was among them. “Priest I am none, but a soldier,”
 he said in a loud voice, and told them bluntly the reasons for his
disguise; then, taking a purse from his pocket, thrust into the hands
of his rescuers and their families pieces of silver and gave them brave
words of thanks.

But the Seigneur was not to be outdone in generosity. His vanity ran
high; he was fain to show Angele what a gorgeous gentleman she had
failed to make her own; and he was in ripe good-humour all round.

“Come, ye shall come, all of ye, to the Manor of Rozel, every man and
woman here. Ye shall be fed, and fuddled too ye shall be an’ ye will;
for honest drink which sends to honest sleep hurts no man. To my
kitchen with ye all; and you, messieurs”--turning to M. Aubert and De
la Fore-“and you, Mademoiselle, come, know how open is the door and full
the table at my Manor of Rozel--St. Ouen’s keeps a beggarly board.”



CHAPTER IV

Thus began the friendship of the bragging Seigneur of Rozel for the
three Huguenots, all because he had seen tears in a girl’s eyes and
misunderstood them, and because the same girl had kissed him. His pride
was flattered that they should receive protection from him, and the
flattery became almost a canonising when De Carteret of St. Ouen’s
brought him to task for harbouring and comforting the despised
Huguenots; for when De Carteret railed he was envious. So henceforth
Lempriere played Lord Protector with still more boisterous unction.
His pride knew no bounds when, three days after the rescue, Sir Hugh
Pawlett, the Governor, answering De la Foret’s letter requesting
permission to visit the Comtesse de Montgomery, sent him word to fetch
De la Foret to Mont Orgueil Castle. Clanking and blowing, he was shown
into the great hall with De la Foret, where waited Sir Hugh and the
widow of the renowned Camisard. Clanking and purring like an enormous
cat, he turned his head away to the window when De la Foret dropped on
his knees and kissed the hand of the Comtesse, whose eyes were full of
tears. Clanking and gurgling, he sat to a mighty meal of turbot, eels,
lobsters, ormers, capons, boar’s head, brawn, and mustard, swan, curlew,
and spiced meats. This he washed down with bastard, malmsey, and good
ale, topped with almonds, comfits, perfumed cherries with “ipocras,”
 then sprinkled himself with rose-water and dabbled his face and hands
in it. Filled to the turret, he lurched to his feet, and drinking to Sir
Hugh’s toast,

“Her sacred Majesty!” he clanked and roared. “Elizabeth!” as though
upon the field of battle. He felt the star of De Carteret declining
and Rozel’s glory ascending like a comet. Once set in a course, nothing
could change him. Other men might err, but once right, the Seigneur of
Rozel was everlasting.

Of late he had made the cause of Michel de la Foret and Angele Aubert
his own. For this he had been raked upon the coals by De Carteret of St.
Ouen’s and his following, who taunted him with the saying: “Save a thief
from hanging and he’ll cut your throat.” Not that there was ill feeling
against De la Foret in person. He had won most hearts by a frank yet
still manner, and his story and love for Angele had touched the women
folk where their hearts were softest. But the island was not true to
itself or its history if it did not divide itself into factions, headed
by the Seigneurs, and there had been no ground for good division for
five years till De la Foret came.

Short of actual battle, this new strife was the keenest ever known,
for Sir Hugh Pawlett was ranged on the side of the Seigneur of Rozel.
Kinsman of the Comtesse de Montgomery, of Queen Elizabeth’s own
Protestant religion, and admiring De la Foret, he had given every
countenance to the Camisard refugee. He had even besought the Royal
Court of Jersey to grant a pardon to Buonespoir the pirate, on condition
that he should never commit a depredation upon an inhabitant of the
island--this he was to swear to by the little finger of St. Peter.
Should he break his word, he was to be banished the island for ten
years, under penalty of death if he returned. When the hour had come for
Buonespoir to take the oath, he failed to appear; and the next morning
the Seigneur of St. Ouen’s discovered that during the night his cellar
had been raided of two kegs of canary, many flagons of muscadella, pots
of anchovies and boxes of candied “eringo,” kept solely for the visit
which the Queen had promised the island. There was no doubt of the
misdemeanant, for Buonespoir returned to De Carteret from St. Brieuc
the gabardine of one of his retainers, in which he had carried off the
stolen delicacies.

This aggravated the feud between the partisans of St. Ouen’s and Rozel,
for Lempriere of Rozel had laughed loudly when he heard of the robbery,
and said “‘Tis like St. Ouen’s to hoard for a Queen and glut a pirate.
We feed as we get at Rozel, and will feed the Court well too when it
comes, or I’m no butler to Elizabeth.”

But trouble was at hand for Michel and for his protector. The spies
of Catherine de Medici, mother of the King of France, were everywhere.
These had sent word that De la Foret was now attached to the meagre
suite of the widow of the great Camisard Montgomery, near the Castle of
Mont Orgueil. The Medici, having treacherously slain the chief, became
mad with desire to slay the lieutenant. She was set to have the man,
either through diplomacy with England, or to end him by assassination
through her spies. Having determined upon his death, with relentless
soul she pursued the cause as closely as though this exiled soldier were
a powerful enemy at the head of an army in France.

Thus it was that she wrote to Queen Elizabeth, asking that “this arrant
foe of France, this churl, conspirator, and reviler of the Sacraments,
be rendered unto our hands for well-deserved punishment as warning to
all such evil-doers.” She told Elizabeth of De la Foret’s arrival in
Jersey, disguised as a priest of the Church of France, and set forth his
doings since landing with the Seigneur of Rozel. Further she went on to
say to “our sister of England” that “these dark figures of murder and
revolt be a peril to the soft peace of this good realm.”

To this, Elizabeth, who had no knowledge of Michel, who desired peace
with France at this time, who had favours to ask of Catherine, and who
in her own realm had fresh reason to fear conspiracy through the Queen
of the Scots and others, replied forthwith that “If this De la Foret
falleth into our hands, and if it were found he had in truth conspired
against France its throne, had he a million lives, not one should
remain.” Having despatched this letter, she straightway sent a messenger
to Sir Hugh Pawlett in Jersey, making quest of De la Foret, and
commanding that he should be sent to her in England at once.

When the Queen’s messenger arrived at Orgueil Castle, Lempriere chanced
to be with Sir Hugh Pawlett, and the contents of Elizabeth’s letter were
made known to him.

At the moment Monsieur of Rozel was munching macaroons and washing them
down with canary. The Governor’s announcement was such a shock that he
choked and coughed, the crumbs flying in all directions; and another
pint of canary must be taken to flush his throat. Thus cleared for
action, he struck out.

“‘Tis St. Ouen’s work,” he growled.

“‘Tis the work of the Medici,” said Sir Hugh. “Read,” he added, holding
out the paper.

Now Lempriere of Rozel had a poor eye for reading. He had wit enough to
wind about the difficulty.

“If I see not the Queen’s commands, I’ve no warrant but Sir Hugh
Pawlett’s words, and I’ll to London and ask ‘fore her Majesty’s face if
she wrote them, and why. I’ll tell my tale and speak my mind, I pledge
you, sir.”

“You’ll offend her Majesty. Her commands are here.” Pawlett tapped the
letter with his finger.

“I’m butler to the Queen, and she will list to me. I’ll not smirk and
caper like St. Ouen’s; I’ll bear me like a man not speaking for himself.
I’ll speak as Harry her father spoke--straight to the purpose.... No,
no, no, I’m not to be wheedled, even by a Pawlett, and you shall not
ask me. If you want Michel de la Foret, come and take him. He is in my
house. But ye must take him, for come he shall not!”

“You will not oppose the Queen’s officers?”

“De la Foret is under my roof. He must be taken. I will give him up to
no one; and I’ll tell my sovereign these things when I see her in her
palace.”

“I misdoubt you’ll play the bear,” said Pawlett, with a dry smile.

“The Queen’s tongue is none so tame. I’ll travel by my star, get sweet
or sour.”

“Well, well, ‘give a man luck, and throw him into the sea,’ is the old
proverb. I’m coming for your friend to-night.”

“I’ll be waiting with my fingers on the door, sir,” said Rozel, with a
grim vanity and an outrageous pride in himself.



CHAPTER V

The Seigneur of Rozel found De la Foret at the house of M. Aubert. His
face was flushed with hard riding, and perhaps the loving attitude of
Michel and Angele deepened it, for at the garden gate the lovers were
saying adieu.

“You have come for Monsieur de la Foret?” asked Angele anxiously. Her
quick look at the Seigneur’s face had told her there were things amiss.

“There’s commands from the Queen. They’re for the ears of De la Foret,”
 said the Seigneur.

“I will hear them too,” said Angele, her colour going, her bearing
determined.

The Seigneur looked down at her with boyish appreciation, then said
to De la Foret: “Two Queens make claim for you. The wolfish Catherine
writes to England for her lost Camisard, with much fool’s talk about
‘dark figures,’ and ‘conspirators,’ ‘churls,’ and foes of ‘soft peace’;
and England takes the bait and sends to Sir Hugh Pawlett yonder. And, in
brief, Monsieur, the Governor is to have you under arrest and send you
to England. God knows why two Queens make such a pother over a fellow
with naught but a sword and a lass to love him--though, come to think,
‘a man’s a man if he have but a hose on his head,’ as the proverb runs.”

De la Foret smiled, then looked grave, as he caught sight of Angele’s
face. “‘Tis arrest, then?” he asked.

“‘Tis come willy nilly,” answered the Seigneur. “And once they’ve forced
you from my doors, I’m for England to speak my mind to the Queen. I
can make interest for her presence--I hold court office,” he added with
puffing confidence.

Angele looked up at him with quick tears, yet with a smile on her lips.

“You are going to England for Michel’s sake?” she said in a low voice.

“For Michel, or for you, or for mine honour, what matter, so that I go!”
 he answered, then added: “there must be haste to Rozel, friend, lest the
Governor take Lempriere’s guest like a potato-digger in the fields.”

Putting spurs to his horse, he cantered heavily away, not forgetting to
wave a pompous farewell to Angele. De la Foret was smiling as he turned
to Angele. She looked wonderingly at him, for she had felt that she must
comfort him, and she looked not for this sudden change in his manner.

“Is prison-going so blithe, then?” she asked, with a little uneasy laugh
which was half a sob.

“It will bring things to a head,” he answered. “After danger and busy
days, to be merely safe, it is scarce the life for Michel de la Foret.
I have my duty to the Comtesse; I have my love for you; but I seem of
little use by contrast with my past. And yet, and yet,” he added, half
sadly, “how futile has been all our fighting, so far as human eye can
see.”

“Nothing is futile that is right, Michel,” the girl replied. “Thou hast
done as thy soul answered to God’s messages: thou hast fought when thou
couldst, and thou hast sheathed thy blade when there was naught else to
do. Are not both right?”

He clasped her to his breast; then, holding her from him a little,
looked into her eyes steadily a moment. “God hath given thee a true
heart, and the true heart hath wisdom,” he answered.

“You will not seek escape? Nor resist the Governor?” she asked eagerly.

“Whither should I go? My place is here by you, by the Comtesse de
Montgomery. One day it may be I shall return to France, and to our
cause--”

“If it be God’s will.”

“If it be God’s will.”

“Whatever comes, you will love me, Michel?”

“I will love you, whatever comes.”

“Listen.” She drew his head down. “I am no dragweight to thy life? Thou
wouldst not do otherwise if there were no foolish Angele?”

He did not hesitate. “What is best is. I might do otherwise if there
were no Angele in my life to pilot my heart, but that were worse for
me.”

“Thou art the best lover in all the world.”

“I hope to make a better husband. To-morrow is carmine-lettered in my
calendar, if thou sayst thou wilt still have me under the sword of the
Medici.”

Her hand pressed her heart suddenly. “Under the sword, if it be God’s
will,” she answered. Then, with a faint smile: “But no, I will not
believe the Queen of England will send thee, one of her own Protestant
faith, to the Medici.”

“And thou wilt marry me?”

“When the Queen of England approves thee,” she answered, and buried her
face in the hollow of his arm.

An hour later Sir Hugh Pawlett came to the manor-house of Rozel with
two-score men-at-arms. The Seigneur himself answered the Governor’s
knocking, and showed himself in the doorway, with a dozen halberdiers
behind him.

“I have come seeking Michel de la Foret,” said the Governor.

“He is my guest.”

“I have the Queen’s command to take him.”

“He is my cherished guest.”

“Must I force my way?”

“Is it the Queen’s will that blood be shed?”

“The Queen’s commands must be obeyed.”

“The Queen is a miracle of the world, God save her! What is the charge
against him?”

“Summon Michel de la Foret, ‘gainst whom it lies.”

“He is my guest; ye shall have him only by force.” The Governor turned
to his men. “Force the passage and search the house,” he commanded.

The company advanced with levelled pikes, but at a motion from the
Seigneur his men fell back before them, and, making a lane, disclosed
Michel de la Foret at the end of it. Michel had not approved of
Lempriere’s mummery of defence, but he understood from what good spirit
it sprung, and how it flattered the Seigneur’s vanity to make show of
resistance.

The Governor greeted De la Foret with a sour smile, read to him the
Queen’s writ, and politely begged his company towards Mont Orgueil
Castle.

“I’ll fetch other commands from her Majesty, or write me down a pedlar
of St. Ouen’s follies,” the Seigneur said from his doorway, as the
Governor and De la Foret bade him good-bye and took the road to the
Castle.



CHAPTER VI

Michel de la Foret was gone, a prisoner. From the dusk of the trees by
the little chapel of Rozel, Angele had watched his exit in charge of the
Governor’s men. She had not sought to show her presence: she had seen
him--that was comfort to her heart; and she would not mar the memory of
that last night’s farewell by another before these strangers. She saw
with what quiet Michel bore his arrest, and she said to herself, as the
last halberdier vanished:

“If the Queen do but speak with him, if she but look upon his face and
hear his voice, she must needs deal kindly by him. My Michel--ah, it is
a face for all men to trust and all women--”

But she sighed and averted her head as though before prying eyes.

The bell of Rozel Chapel broke gently on the evening air; the sound,
softened by the leaves and mellowed by the wood of the great elm-trees,
billowed away till it was lost in faint reverberation in the sea beneath
the cliffs of the Couperon, where a little craft was coming to anchor in
the dead water.

At first the sound of the bell soothed her, softening the thought of the
danger to Michel. She moved with it towards the sea, the tones of her
grief chiming with it. Presently, as she went, a priest in cassock and
robes and stole crossed the path in front of her, an acolyte before him
swinging a censer, his voice chanting Latin verses from the service
for the sick, in his hands the sacred elements of the sacrament for
the dying. The priest was fat and heavy, his voice was lazy, his eyes
expressionless, and his robes were dirty. The plaintive, peaceful
sense which the sound of the vesper bell had thrown over Angele’s sad
reflections passed away, and the thought smote her that, were it not for
such as this black-toothed priest, Michel would not now be on his way to
England, a prisoner. To her this vesper bell was the symbol of tyranny
and hate. It was fighting, it was martyrdom, it was exile, it was the
Medici. All that she had borne, all that her father had borne, the
thought of the home lost, the mother dead before her time, the name
ruined, the heritage dispossessed, the red war of the Camisards, the
rivulets of blood in the streets of Paris and of her loved Rouen, smote
upon her mind, and drove her to her knees in the forest glade, her hands
upon her ears to shut out the sound of the bell. It came upon her that
the bell had said “Peace! Peace!” to her mind when there should be no
peace; that it had said “Be patient!” when she should be up and doing;
that it had whispered “Stay!” when she should tread the path her lover
trod, her feet following in his footsteps as his feet had trod in hers.

She pressed her hands tight upon her ears and prayed with a passion and
a fervour she had never known before. A revelation seemed to come upon
her, and, for the first time, she was a Huguenot to the core. Hitherto
she had suffered for her religion because it was her mother’s broken
life, her father’s faith, and because they had suffered, and her
lover had suffered. Her mind had been convinced, her loyalty had been
unwavering, her words for the great cause had measured well with her
deeds. But new senses were suddenly born in her, new eyes were given
to her mind, new powers for endurance to her soul. She saw now as the
martyrs of Meaux had seen; a passionate faith descended on her as it
had descended on them; no longer only patient, she was fain for action.
Tears rained from her eyes. Her heart burst itself in entreaty and
confession.

“Thy light shall be my light, and Thy will my will, O Lord,” she cried
at the last. “Teach me Thy way, create a right spirit within me. Give
me boldness without rashness, and hope without vain thinking. Bear up my
arms, O Lord, and save me when falling. A poor Samaritan am I. Give
me the water that shall be a well of water springing up to everlasting
life, that I thirst not in the fever of doing. Give me the manna of life
to eat that I faint not nor cry out in plague, pestilence, or famine.
Give me Thy grace, O God, as Thou hast given it to Michel de la Foret,
and guide my feet as I follow him in life and in death, for Christ’s
sake. Amen.”

As she rose from her knees she heard the evening gun from the castle
of Mont Orgueil, whither Michel was being borne by the Queen’s men. The
vesper bell had stopped. Through the wood came the salt savour of the
sea on the cool sunset air. She threw back her head and walked swiftly
towards it, her heart beating hard, her eyes shining with the light
of purpose, her step elastic with the vigour of youth and health. A
quarter-hour’s walking brought her to the cliff of the Couperon.

As she gazed out over the sea, however, a voice in the bay below caught
her ear. She looked down. On the deck of the little craft which had
entered the harbour when the vesper bell was ringing stood a man who
waved a hand up towards her, then gave a peculiar call. She stared with
amazement: it was Buonespoir the pirate. What did this mean? Had God
sent this man to her, by his presence to suggest what she should do in
this crisis in her life? For even as she ran down the shore towards
him, it came to her mind that Buonespoir should take her in his craft to
England.

What to do in England? Who could tell? She only knew that a voice called
her to England, to follow the footsteps of Michel de la Foret, who
even this night would be setting forth in the Governor’s brigantine for
London.

Buonespoir met her upon the shore, grinning like a boy.

“God save you, lady!” he said.

“What brings you hither, friend?” she asked.

If he had said that a voice had called him hither as one called her to
England, it had not sounded strange; for she was not thinking that this
was one who superstitiously swore by the little finger of St. Peter, but
only that he was the man who had brought her Michel from France, who had
been a faithful friend to her and to her father.

“What brings me hither?” Buonespoir laughed low in his chest. “Even
to fetch to the Seigneur of Rozel, a friend of mine by every token of
remembrance, a dozen flagons of golden muscadella.”

To Angele no suggestion flashed that these flagons of muscadella had
come from the cellar of the Seigneur of St. Ouen’s, where they had been
reserved for a certain royal visit. Nothing was in her mind save the one
thought-that she must follow Michel.

“Will you take me to England?” she asked, putting a hand quickly on his
arm.

He had been laughing hard, picturing to himself what Lempriere of Rozel
would say when he sniffed the flagon of St. Ouen’s best wine, and for an
instant he did not take in the question; but he stared at her now as the
laugh slowly subsided through notes of abstraction and her words worked
their way into his brain.

“Will you take me, Buonespoir?” she urged. “Take you--?” he questioned.

“To England.”

“And myself to Tyburn?”

“Nay, to the Queen.”

“‘Tis the same thing. Head of Abel! Elizabeth hath heard of me. The
Seigneur of St. Ouen’s and others have writ me down a pirate to her. She
would not pardon the muscadella,” he added, with another laugh, looking
down where the flagons lay.

“She must pardon more than that,” exclaimed Angele, and hastily she told
him of what had happened to Michel de la Foret, and why she would go.

“Thy father, then?” he asked, scowling hard in his attempt to think it
out.

“He must go with me--I will seek him now.”

“It must be at once, i’ faith, for how long, think you, can I stay here
unharmed? I was sighted off St. Ouen’s shore a few hours agone.”

“To-night?” she asked.

“By twelve, when we shall have the moon and the tide,” he answered. “But
hold!” he hastily added. “What, think you, could you and your father do
alone in England? And with me it were worse than alone. These be dark
times, when strangers have spies at their heels, and all travellers are
suspect.”

“We will trust in God,” she answered.

“Have you money?” he questioned--“for London, not for me,” he added
hastily.

“Enough,” she replied.

“The trust with the money is a weighty matter,” he added; “but they
suffice not. You must have ‘fending.”

“There is no one,” she answered sadly, “no one save--”

“Save the Seigneur of Rozel!” Buonespoir finished the sentence. “Good.
You to your father, and I to the Seigneur. If you can fetch your
father by your pot-of-honey tongue, I’ll fetch the great Lempriere with
muscadella. Is’t a bargain?”

“In which I gain all,” she answered, and again touched his arm with her
finger-tips.

“You shall be aboard here at ten, and I will join you on the stroke of
twelve,” he said, and gave a low whistle.

At the signal three men sprang up like magic out of the bowels of the
boat beneath them, and scurried over the side; three as ripe knaves as
ever cheated stocks and gallows, but simple knaves, unlike their master.
Two of them had served with Francis Drake in that good ship of his lying
even now not far from Elizabeth’s palace at Greenwich. The third was a
rogue who had been banished from Jersey for a habitual drunkenness which
only attacked him on land--at sea he was sacredly sober. His name was
Jean Nicolle. The names of the other two were Herve Robin and Rouge le
Riche, but their master called them by other names.

“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego,” said Buonespoir in ceremony, and
waved a hand of homage between them and Angele. “Kiss dirt, and know
where duty lies. The lady’s word on my ship is law till we anchor at the
Queen’s Stairs at Greenwich. So, Heaven help you, Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego!” said Buonespoir.

A wave of humour passed over Angele’s grave face, for a stranger quartet
never sailed high seas together: one blind of an eye, one game of a leg,
one bald as a bottle and bereft of two front teeth; but Buonespoir was
sound of wind and limb, his small face with the big eyes lost in the
masses of his red hair, and a body like Hercules. It flashed through
Angele’s mind even as she answered the gurgling salutations of the
triumvirate that they had been got together for no gentle summer sailing
in the Channel. Her conscience smote her that she should use such
churls; but she gave it comfort by the thought that while serving her
they could do naught worse; and her cause was good. Yet they presented
so bizarre an aspect, their ugliness was so varied and particular, that
she almost laughed. Buonespoir understood her thoughts, for with a
look of mocking innocence in his great blue eyes he waved a hand again
towards the graceless trio, and said, “For deep-sea fishing.” Then he
solemnly winked at the three.

A moment later Angele was speeding along the shore towards her home on
the farther hillside up the little glen; and within an hour Buonespoir
rolled from the dusk of the trees by the manor-house of Rozel and
knocked at the door. He carried on his head, as a fishwife carries a
tray of ormers, a basket full of flagons of muscadella; and he did not
lower the basket when he was shown into the room where the Seigneur of
Rozel was sitting before a trencher of spiced veal and a great pot of
ale. Lempriere roared a hearty greeting to the pirate, for he was in a
sour humour because of the taking off of Michel de la Foret; and of all
men this pirate-fellow, who had quips and cranks, and had played tricks
on his cousin of St. Ouen’s, was most welcome.

“What’s that on your teacup of a head?” he roared again as Buonespoir
grinned pleasure at the greeting. “Muscadella,” said Buonespoir, and
lowered the basket to the table.

Lempriere seized a flagon, drew it forth, looked closely at it, then
burst into laughter, and spluttered: “St. Ouen’s muscadella, by the hand
of Rufus!”

Seizing Buonespoir by the shoulders, he forced him down upon a bench
at the table, and pushed the trencher of spiced meat against his chest.
“Eat, my noble lord of the sea and master of the cellar,” he gurgled
out, and, tipping the flagon of muscadella, took a long draught.
“God-a-mercy--but it has saved my life,” he gasped in satisfaction as
he lay back in his great chair, and put his feet on the bench whereon
Buonespoir sat.

They raised their flagons and toasted each other, and Lempriere burst
forth into song, in the refrain of which Buonespoir joined boisterously:

       “King Rufus he did hunt the deer,
         With a hey ho, come and kiss me, Dolly!
        It was the spring-time of the year,
         Hey ho, Dolly shut her eyes!
        King Rufus was a bully boy,
        He hunted all the day for joy,
        Sweet Dolly she was ever coy:
         And who would e’er be wise
         That looked in Dolly’s eyes?

        “King Rufus he did have his day,
         With a hey ho, come and kiss me, Dolly!
        So get ye forth where dun deer play--
         Hey ho, Dolly comes again!
        The greenwood is the place for me,
        For that is where the dun deer be,
        ‘Tis where my Dolly comes to me:
         And who would stay at home,
         That might with Dolly roam?
        Sing hey ho, come and kiss me, Dolly!”

Lempriere, perspiring with the exertion, mopped his forehead, then
lapsed into a plaintive mood.

“I’ve had naught but trouble of late,” he wheezed. “Trouble, trouble,
trouble, like gnats on a filly’s flank!” and in spluttering words, twice
bracketed in muscadella, he told of Michel de la Foret’s arrest, and of
his purpose to go to England if he could get a boat to take him.

“‘Tis that same business brings me here,” said Buonespoir, and forthwith
told of his meeting with Angele and what was then agreed upon.

“You to go to England!” cried Lempriere amazed. “They want you for
Tyburn there.”

“They want me for the gallows here,” said Buonespoir. Rolling a piece
of spiced meat in his hand, he stuffed it into his mouth and chewed
till the grease came out of his eyes, and took eagerly from a servant a
flagon of malmsey and a dish of ormers.

“Hush, chew thy tongue a minute!” said the Seigneur, suddenly starting
and laying a finger beside his nose. “Hush!” he said again, and looked
into the flicker of the candle by him with half-shut eyes.

“May I have no rushes for a bed, and die like a rat in a moat, if I
don’t get thy pardon too of the Queen, and bring thee back to Jersey,
a thorn in the side of De Carteret for ever! He’ll look upon thee
assoilzied by the Queen, spitting fire in his rage, and no canary or
muscadella in his cellar.”

It came not to the mind of either that this expedition would be made at
cost to themselves. They had not heard of Don Quixote, and their gifts
were not imitative. They were of a day when men held their lives as
lightly as many men hold their honour now; when championship was as the
breath of life to men’s nostrils, and to adventure for what was worth
having or doing in life the only road of reputation.

Buonespoir was as much a champion in his way as Lempriere of Rozel. They
were of like kidney, though so far apart in rank. Had Lempriere been
born as low and as poor as Buonespoir, he would have been a pirate too,
no doubt; and had Buonespoir been born as high as the Seigneur, he would
have carried himself with the same rough sense of honour, with as ripe a
vanity; have been as naive, as sincere, as true to the real heart of
man untaught in the dissimulation of modesty or reserve. When they shook
hands across the trencher of spiced veal, it was as man shakes hand with
man, not man with master.

They were about to start upon their journey when there came a knocking
at the door. On its being opened the bald and toothless Abednego
stumbled in with the word that immediately after Angele and her father
came aboard the Honeyflower some fifty halberdiers suddenly appeared
upon the Couperon. They had at once set sail, and got away even before
the sailors had reached the shore. As they had rounded the point, where
they were hid from view, Abednego dropped overboard and swam ashore on
the rising tide, making his way to the manor to warn Buonespoir. On his
way hither, stealing through the trees, he had passed a half-score of
halberdiers making for the manor, and he had seen others going towards
the shore.

Buonespoir looked to the priming of his pistols, and buckling his belt
tightly about him, turned to the Seigneur and said: “I will take my
chances with Abednego. Where does she lie--the Honeyflower, Abednego?”

“Off the point called Verclut,” answered the little man, who had
travelled with Francis Drake.

“Good; we will make a run for it, flying dot-and-carry-one as we go.”

While they had been speaking the Seigneur had been thinking; and now,
even as several figures appeared at a little distance in the trees,
making towards the manor, he said, with a loud laugh:

“No. ‘Tis the way of a fool to put his head between the door and
the jamb. ‘Tis but a hundred yards to safety. Follow me--to the
sea--Abednego last. This way, bullies!”

Without a word all three left the house and walked on in the order
indicated, as De Carteret’s halberdiers ran forward threatening.

“Stand!” shouted the sergeant of the halberdiers. “Stand, or we fire!”

But the three walked straight on unheeding. When the sergeant of the
men-at-arms recognised the Seigneur, he ordered down the blunderbusses.

“We come for Buonespoir the pirate,” said the sergeant.

“Whose warrant?” said the Seigneur, fronting the halberdiers, Buonespoir
and Abednego behind him. “The Seigneur of St. Ouen’s,” was the reply.

“My compliments to the Seigneur of St. Ouen’s, and tell him that
Buonespoir is my guest,” he bellowed, and strode on, the halberdiers
following. Suddenly the Seigneur swerved towards the chapel and
quickened his footsteps, the others but a step behind. The sergeant of
the halberdiers was in a quandary. He longed to shoot, but dared not,
and while he was making up his mind what to do, the Seigneur had reached
the chapel door. Opening it, he quickly pushed Buonespoir and Abednego
inside, whispering to them, then slammed the door and put his back
against it.

There was another moment’s hesitation on the sergeant’s part, then a
door at the other end of the chapel was heard to open and shut, and the
Seigneur laughed loudly. The halberdiers ran round the chapel. There
stood Buonespoir and Abednego in a narrow roadway, motionless and
unconcerned. The halberdiers rushed forward.

“Perquage! Perquage! Perquage!” shouted Buonespoir, and the bright
moonlight showed him grinning. For an instant there was deadly
stillness, in which the approaching footsteps of the Seigneur sounded
loud.

“Perquage!” Buonespoir repeated.

“Perquage! Fall back!” said the Seigneur, and waved off the pikes of the
halberdiers. “He has sanctuary to the sea.”

This narrow road in which the pirates stood was the last of three in the
Isle of Jersey running from churches to the sea, in which a criminal was
safe from arrest by virtue of an old statute. The other perquages had
been taken away; but this one of Rozel remained, a concession made by
Henry VIII to the father of this Raoul Lempriere. The privilege had been
used but once in the present Seigneur’s day, because the criminal must
be put upon the road from the chapel by the Seigneur himself, and he had
used his privilege modestly.

No man in Jersey but knew the sacredness of this perquage, though it
was ten years since it had been used; and no man, not even the Governor
himself, dare lift his hand to one upon that road.

So it was that Buonespoir and Abednego, two fugitives from justice,
walked quietly to the sea down the perquage, halberdiers, balked of
their prey, prowling on their steps and cursing the Seigneur of Rozel
for his gift of sanctuary: for the Seigneur of St. Ouen’s and the Royal
Court had promised each halberdier three shillings and all the ale he
could drink at a sitting, if Buonespoir was brought in alive or dead.

In peace and safety the three boarded the Honeyflower off the point
called Verclut, and set sail for England, just seven hours after Michel
de la Foret had gone his way upon the Channel, a prisoner.



CHAPTER VII

A fortnight later, of a Sunday morning, the Lord Chamberlain of England
was disturbed out of his usual equanimity. As he was treading the rushes
in the presence-chamber of the Royal Palace at Greenwich, his eye busy
in inspection--for the Queen would soon pass on her way to chapel--his
head nodding right and left to archbishop, bishop, councillors of state,
courtiers, and officers of the crown, he heard a rude noise at the door
leading into the ante-chapel, where the Queen received petitions from
the people. Hurrying thither in shocked anxiety, he found a curled
gentleman of the guard, resplendent in red velvet and gold chains, in
peevish argument with a boisterous Seigneur of a bronzed good-humoured
face, who urged his entrance to the presence-chamber.

The Lord Chamberlain swept down upon the pair like a flamingo with wings
outspread. “God’s death, what means this turmoil? Her Majesty comes
hither!” he cried, and scowled upon the intruder, who now stepped back
a little, treading on the toes of a huge sailor with a small head and
bushy red hair and beard.

“Because her Majesty comes I come also,” the Seigneur interposed
grandly.

“What is your name and quality?”

“Yours first, and I shall know how to answer.”

“I am the Lord Chamberlain of England.”

“And I, my lord, am Lempriere, Seigneur of Rozel--and butler to the
Queen.”

“Where is Rozel?” asked my Lord Chamberlain.

The face of the Seigneur suddenly flushed, his mouth swelled, and then
burst.

“Where is Rozel!” he cried in a voice of rage. “Where is Rozel! Have
you heard of Hugh Pawlett,” he asked, with a huge contempt--“of Governor
Hugh Pawlett?” The Lord Chamberlain nodded. “Then ask his Excellency
when next you see him, Where is Rozel? But take good counsel and keep
your ignorance from the Queen,” he added. “She has no love for stupids.”

“You say you are butler to the Queen? Whence came your commission?” said
the Lord Chamberlain, smiling now; for Lempriere’s words and ways
were of some simple world where odd folk lived, and his boyish vanity
disarmed anger.

“By royal warrant and heritage. And of all of the Jersey Isle, I only
may have dove-totes, which is the everlasting thorn in the side of De
Carteret of St. Ouen’s. Now will you let me in, my lord?” he said, all
in a breath.

At a stir behind him the Lord Chamberlain turned, and with a horrified
exclamation hurried away, for the procession from the Queen’s apartments
had already entered the presence-chamber: gentlemen, barons, earls,
knights of the garter, in brave attire, with bare heads and sumptuous
calves. The Lord Chamberlain had scarce got to his place when the
Chancellor, bearing the seals in a red silk purse, entered, flanked by
two gorgeous folk with the royal sceptre and the sword of state in a red
scabbard, all flourished with fleur-de-lis. Moving in and out among them
all was the Queen’s fool, who jested and shook his bells under the noses
of the highest.

It was an event of which the Seigneur of Rozel told to his dying day:
that he entered the presence-chamber of the Royal Palace of Greenwich
at the same instant as the Queen--“Rozel at one end, Elizabeth at the
other, and all the world at gaze,” he was wont to say with loud guffaws.
But what he spoke of afterwards with preposterous ease and pride was
neither pride nor ease at the moment; for the Queen’s eyes fell on him
as he shoved past the gentlemen who kept the door. For an instant she
stood still, regarding him intently, then turned quickly to the Lord
Chamberlain in inquiry, and with sharp reproof too in her look. The Lord
Chamberlain fell on his knee and with low uncertain voice explained the
incident.

Elizabeth again cast her eyes towards Lempriere, and the Court,
following her example, scrutinised the Seigneur in varied styles of
insolence or curiosity. Lempriere drew himself up with a slashing
attempt at composure, but ended by flaming from head to foot, his face
shining like a cock’s comb, the perspiration standing out like beads
upon his forehead, his eyes gone blind with confusion. That was but for
a moment, however, and then, Elizabeth’s look being slowly withdrawn
from him, a curious smile came to her lips, and she said to the Lord
Chamberlain: “Let the gentleman remain.”

The Queen’s fool tripped forward and tapped the Lord Chamberlain on the
shoulder. “Let the gentleman remain, gossip, and see you that remaining
he goeth not like a fly with his feet in the porridge.” With a flippant
step before the Seigneur, he shook his bells at him. “Thou shalt stay,
Nuncio, and staying speak the truth. So doing you shall be as noted as
a comet with three tails. You shall prove that man was made in God’s
image. So lift thy head and sneeze--sneezing is the fashion here; but
see that thou sneeze not thy head off as they do in Tartary. ‘Tis worth
remembrance.”

Rozel’s self-importance and pride had returned. The blood came back
to his heart, and he threw out his chest grandly; he even turned to
Buonespoir, whose great figure might be seen beyond the door, and winked
at him. For a moment he had time to note the doings of the Queen and
her courtiers with wide-eyed curiosity. He saw the Earl of Leicester,
exquisite, haughty, gallant, fall upon his knee, and Elizabeth slowly
pull off her glove and with a none too gracious look give him her hand
to kiss, the only favour of the kind granted that day. He saw Cecil, her
Minister, introduce a foreign noble, who presented his letters. He
heard the Queen speak in a half-dozen different languages, to people of
various lands, and he was smitten with amazement.

But as Elizabeth came slowly down the hall, her white silk gown fronted
with great pearls flashing back the light, a marchioness bearing the
train, the crown on her head glittering as she turned from right to
left, her wonderful collar of jewels sparkling on her uncovered bosom,
suddenly the mantle of black, silver-shotted silk upon her shoulders
became to Lempriere’s heated senses a judge’s robe, and Elizabeth the
august judge of the world. His eyes blinded again, for it was as if she
was bearing down upon him. Certainly she was looking at him now, scarce
heeding the courtiers who fell to their knees on either side as she came
on. The red doublets of the fifty Gentlemen Pensioners--all men of
noble families proud to do this humble yet distinguished service--with
battle-axes, on either side of her, seemed to Lempriere on the instant
like an army with banners threatening him. From the ante-chapel behind
him came the cry of the faithful subjects who, as the gentleman-at-arms
fell back from the doorway, had but just caught a glimpse of her
Majesty--“Long live Elizabeth!”

It seemed to Lempriere that the Gentlemen Pensioners must beat him down
as they passed, yet he stood riveted to the spot; and indeed it was true
that he was almost in the path of her Majesty. He was aware that two
gentlemen touched him on the shoulder and bade him retire; but the Queen
motioned to them to desist. So, with the eyes of the whole court on
him again, and Elizabeth’s calm curious gaze fixed, as it were, on his
forehead, he stood still till the flaming Gentlemen Pensioners were
within a few feet of him, and the battle-axes were almost over his head.

The great braggart was no better now than a wisp of grass in the wind,
and it was more than homage that bent him to his knees as the Queen
looked him full in the eyes. There was a moment’s absolute silence, and
then she said, with cold condescension:

“By what privilege do you seek our presence?”

“I am Raoul Lempriere, Seigneur of Rozel, your high Majesty,” said the
choking voice of the Jerseyman. The Queen raised her eyebrows. “The man
seems French. You come from France?”

Lempriere flushed to his hair--the Queen did not know him, then! “From
Jersey Isle, your sacred Majesty.”

“Jersey Isle is dear to us. And what is your warrant here?”

“I am butler to your Majesty, by your gracious Majesty’s patent, and
I alone may have dove-cotes in the isle; and I only may have the
perquage-on your Majesty’s patent. It is not even held by De Carteret of
St. Ouen’s.”

The Queen smiled as she had not smiled since she entered the
presence-chamber. “God preserve us,” she said--“that I should not have
recognised you! It is, of course, our faithful Lempriere of Rozel.”

The blood came back to the Seigneur’s heart, but he did not dare look up
yet, and he did not see that Elizabeth was in rare mirth at his words;
and though she had no ken or memory of him, she read his nature and was
mindful to humour him. Beckoning Leicester to her side, she said a few
words in an undertone, to which he replied with a smile more sour than
sweet.

“Rise, Monsieur of Rozel,” she said.

The Seigneur stood up, and met her gaze faintly. “And so, proud
Seigneur, you must needs flout e’en our Lord Chamberlain, in the name of
our butler with three dove-cotes and the perquage. In sooth thy office
must not be set at naught lightly--not when it is flanked by the
perquage. By my father’s doublet, but that frieze jerkin is well cut;
it suits thy figure well--I would that my Lord Leicester here had such a
tailor. But this perquage--I doubt not there are those here at Court who
are most ignorant of its force and moment. My Lord Chamberlain, my Lord
Leicester, Cecil here--confusion sits in their faces. The perquage,
which my father’s patent approved, has served us well, I doubt not, is
a comfort to our realm and a dignity befitting the wearer of that frieze
jerkin. Speak to their better understanding, Monsieur of Rozel.”

“Speak, Nuncio, and you shall have comforts, and be given in marriage,
multiple or singular, even as I,” said the fool, and touched him on the
breast with his bells.

Lempriere had recovered his heart, and now was set full sail in the
course he had charted for himself in Jersey. In large words and larger
manner he explained most innocently the sacred privilege of perquage.
“And how often have you used the right, friend?” asked Elizabeth.

“But once in ten years, your noble Majesty.”

“When last?”

“But yesterday a week, your universal Majesty.” Elizabeth raised her
eyebrows. “Who was the criminal, what the occasion?”

“The criminal was one Buonespoir, the occasion our coming hither to wait
upon the Queen of England and our Lady of Normandy, for such is your
well-born Majesty to your loyal Jersiais.” And thereupon he plunged
into an impeachment of De Carteret of St. Ouen’s, and stumbled through
a blunt broken story of the wrongs and the sorrows of Michel and Angele
and the doings of Buonespoir in their behalf.

Elizabeth frowned and interrupted him. “I have heard of this Buonespoir,
Monsieur, through others than the Seigneur of St. Ouen’s. He is an
unlikely squire of dames. There’s a hill in my kingdom has long bided
his coming. Where waits the rascal now?”

“In the ante-chapel, your Majesty.”

“By the rood!” said Elizabeth in sudden amazement. “In my ante-chapel,
forsooth!”

She looked beyond the doorway and saw the great red-topped figure of
Buonespoir, his good-natured, fearless fare, his shock of hair, his
clear blue eye--he was not thirty feet away.

“He comes to crave pardon for his rank offences, your benignant
Majesty,” said Lempriere.

The humour of the thing rushed upon the Queen. Never before were two
such naive folk at court. There was not a hair of duplicity in the heads
of the two, and she judged them well in her mind.

“I will see you stand together--you and your henchman,” she said to
Rozel, and moved on to the antechapel, the Court following. Standing
still just inside the doorway, she motioned Buonespoir to come near.
The pirate, unconfused, undismayed, with his wide blue asking eyes,
came forward and dropped upon his knees. Elizabeth motioned Lempriere to
stand a little apart.

Thereupon she set a few questions to Buonespoir, whose replies,
truthfully given, showed that he had no real estimate of his crimes, and
was indifferent to what might be their penalties. He had no moral sense
on the one hand, on the other, no fear.

Suddenly she turned to Lempriere again. “You came, then, to speak for
this Michel de la Foret, the exile--?”

“And for the demoiselle Angele Aubert, who loves him, your Majesty.”

“I sent for this gentleman exile a fortnight ago--” She turned towards
Leicester inquiringly.

“I have the papers here, your Majesty,” said Leicester, and gave a
packet over.

“And where have you De la Foret?” said Elizabeth. “In durance, your
Majesty.”

“When came he hither?”

“Three days gone,” answered Leicester, a little gloomily, for there was
acerbity in Elizabeth’s voice. Elizabeth seemed about to speak, then
dropped her eyes upon the papers, and glanced hastily at their contents.

“You will have this Michel de la Foret brought to my presence as fast
as horse can bring him, my Lord,” she said to Leicester. “This rascal
of the sea--Buonespoir--you will have safe bestowed till I recall
his existence again,” she said to a captain of men-at-arms; “and
you, Monsieur of Rozel, since you are my butler, will get you to my
dining-room, and do your duty--the office is not all perquisites,”
 she added smoothly. She was about to move on, when a thought seemed to
strike her, and she added, “This Mademoiselle and her father whom you
brought hither-where are they?”

“They are even within the palace grounds, your imperial Majesty,”
 answered Lempriere.

“You will summon them when I bid you,” she said to the Seigneur; “and
you shall see that they have comforts and housing as befits their
station,” she added to the Lord Chamberlain.

So did Elizabeth, out of a whimsical humour, set the highest in the land
to attend upon unknown, unconsidered exiles.



CHAPTER VIII

Five minutes later, Lempriere of Rozel, as butler to the Queen, saw a
sight of which he told to his dying day. When, after varied troubles
hereafter set down, he went back to Jersey, he made a speech before
the Royal Court, in which he told what chanced while Elizabeth was at
chapel.

“There stood I, butler to the Queen,” he said, with a large gesture,
“but what knew I of butler’s duties at Greenwich Palace! Her Majesty had
given me an office where all the work was done for me. Odds life, but
when I saw the Gentleman of the Rod and his fellow get down on their
knees to lay the cloth upon the table, as though it was an altar at
Jerusalem, I thought it time to say my prayers. There was naught but
kneeling and retiring. Now it was the salt-cellar, the plate, and the
bread; then it was a Duke’s Daughter--a noble soul as ever lived--with
a tasting-knife, as beautiful as a rose; then another lady enters who
glares at me, and gets to her knees as does the other. Three times up
and down, and then one rubs the plate with bread and salt, as solemn as
St. Ouen’s when he says prayers in the Royal Court. Gentles, that was a
day for Jersey. For there stood I as master of all, the Queen’s butler,
and the greatest ladies of the land doing my will--though it was all
Persian mystery to me, save when the kettle-drums began to beat and the
trumpet to blow, and in walk bareheaded the Yeomen of the Guard, all
scarlet, with a golden rose on their backs, bringing in a course of
twenty-four gold dishes; and I, as Queen’s butler, receiving them.

“Then it was I opened my mouth amazed at the endless dishes filled
with niceties of earth, and the Duke’s Daughter pops onto my tongue
a mouthful of the first dish brought, and then does the same to every
Yeoman of the Guard that carried a dish--that her notorious Majesty
be safe against the hand of poisoners. There was I, fed by a Duke’s
Daughter; and thus was Jersey honoured; and the Duke’s Daughter whispers
to me, as a dozen other unmarried ladies enter, ‘The Queen liked not
the cut of your frieze jerkin better than do I, Seigneur.’ With that she
joins the others, and they all kneel down and rise up again, and lifting
the meat from the table, bear it into the Queen’s private chamber.

“When they return, and the Yeomen of the Guard go forth, I am left alone
with these ladies, and there stand with twelve pair of eyes upon me,
little knowing what to do. There was laughter in the faces of some, and
looks less taking in the eyes of others; for my Lord Leicester was to
have done the duty I was set to do that day, and he the greatest gallant
of the kingdom, as all the world knows. What they said among themselves
I know not, but I heard Leicester’s name, and I guessed that they were
mostly in the pay of his soft words. But the Duke’s Daughter was on my
side, as was proved betimes when Leicester made trouble for us who went
from Jersey to plead the cause of injured folk. Of the Earl’s enmity
to me--a foolish spite of a great nobleman against a Norman-Jersey
gentleman--and of how it injured others for the moment, you all know;
but we had him by the heels before the end of it, great earl and
favourite as he was.”

In the same speech Lempriere told of his audience with the Queen, even
as she sat at dinner, and of what she said to him; but since his words
give but a partial picture of events, the relation must not be his.

When the Queen returned from chapel to her apartments, Lempriere was
called by an attendant, and he stood behind the Queen’s chair until she
summoned him to face her. Then, having finished her meal, and dipped her
fingers in a bowl of rose-water, she took up the papers Leicester had
given her--the Duke’s Daughter had read them aloud as she ate--and said:

“Now, my good Seigneur of Rozel, answer me these few questions: First,
what concern is it of yours whether this Michel de la Foret be sent back
to France, or die here in England?”

“I helped to save his life at sea--one good turn deserves another, your
high-born Majesty.”

The Queen looked sharply at him, then burst out laughing.

“God’s life, but here’s a bull making epigrams!” she said. Then her
humour changed. “See you, my butler of Rozel, you shall speak the truth,
or I’ll have you where that jerkin will fit you not so well a month
hence. Plain answers I will have to plain questions, or De Carteret of
St. Ouen’s shall have his will of you and your precious pirate. So bear
yourself as you would save your head and your honours.”

Lempriere of Rozel never had a better moment than when he met the Queen
of England’s threats with faultless intrepidity. “I am concerned about
my head, but more about my honours, and most about my honour,” he
replied. “My head is my own, my honours are my family’s, for which I
would give my head when needed; and my honour defends both until both
are naught--and all are in the service of my Queen.”

Smiling, Elizabeth suddenly leaned forward, and, with a glance of
satisfaction towards the Duke’s Daughter, who was present, said:

“I had not thought to find so much logic behind your rampant skull,” she
said. “You’ve spoken well, Rozel, and you shall speak by the book to the
end, if you will save your friends. What concern is it of yours whether
Michel de la Foret live or die?”

“It is a concern of one whom I’ve sworn to befriend, and that is my
concern, your ineffable Majesty.” “Who is the friend?”

“Mademoiselle Aubert.”

“The betrothed of this Michel de la Foret?”

“Even so, your exalted Majesty. But I made sure De la Foret was dead
when I asked her to be my wife.”

“Lord, Lord, Lord, hear this vast infant, this hulking baby of a
Seigneur, this primeval innocence! Listen to him, cousin,” said the
Queen, turning again to the Duke’s Daughter. “Was ever the like of it in
any kingdom of this earth? He chooses a penniless exile--he, a butler
to the Queen, with three dove-cotes and the perquage--and a Huguenot
withal. He is refused; then comes the absent lover over sea, to
shipwreck; and our Seigneur rescues him, ‘fends him; and when yon master
exile is in peril, defies his Queen’s commands”--she tapped the papers
lying beside her on the table--“then comes to England with the lady to
plead the case before his outraged sovereign, with an outlawed buccaneer
for comrade and lieutenant. There is the case, is’t not?”

“I swore to be her friend,” answered Lempriere stubbornly, “and I have
done according to my word.”

“There’s not another nobleman in my kingdom who would not have thought
twice about the matter, with the lady aboard his ship on the high
seas-’tis a miraculous chivalry, cousin,” she added to the Duke’s
Daughter, who bowed, settled herself again on her velvet cushion, and
looked out of the corner of her eyes at Lempriere.

“You opposed Sir Hugh Pawlett’s officers who went to arrest this De la
Foret,” continued Elizabeth. “Call you that serving your Queen? Pawlett
had our commands.”

“I opposed them but in form, that the matter might the more surely be
brought to your Majesty’s knowledge.”

“It might easily have brought you to the Tower, man.”

“I had faith that your Majesty would do right in this, as in all else.
So I came hither to tell the whole story to your judicial Majesty.”

“Our thanks for your certificate of character,” said the Queen, with
amused irony. “What is your wish? Make your words few and plain.”

“I desire before all that Michel de la Foret shall not be returned to
the Medici, most radiant Majesty.”

“That’s plain. But there are weighty matters ‘twixt France and England,
and De la Foret may turn the scale one way or another. What follows,
beggar of Rozel?”

“That Mademoiselle Aubert and her father may live without let or
hindrance in Jersey.”

“That you may eat sour grapes ad eternam? Next?”

“That Buonespoir be pardoned all offences and let live in Jersey on
pledge that he sin no more, not even to raid St. Ouen’s cellars of the
muscadella reserved for your generous Majesty.”

There was such humour in Lempriere’s look as he spoke of the muscadella
that the Queen questioned him closely upon Buonespoir’s raid; and so
infectious was his mirth, as he told the tale, that Elizabeth, though
she stamped her foot in assumed impatience, smiled also.

“You shall have your Buonespoir, Seigneur,” she said; “but for his
future you shall answer as well as he.”

“For what he does in Jersey Isle, your commiserate Majesty?”

“For crime elsewhere, if he be caught, he shall march to Tyburn,
friend,” she answered. Then she hurriedly added: “Straightway go and
bring Mademoiselle and her father hither. Orders are given for their
disposal. And to-morrow at this hour you shall wait upon me in their
company. I thank you for your services as butler this day, Monsieur of
Rozel. You do your office rarely.”

As the Seigneur left Elizabeth’s apartments, he met the Earl of
Leicester hurrying thither, preceded by the Queen’s messenger. Leicester
stopped and said, with a slow malicious smile: “Farming is good,
then--you have fine crops this year on your holding?”

The point escaped Lempriere at first, for the favourite’s look was all
innocence, and he replied: “You are mistook, my lord. You will remember
I was in the presence-chamber an hour ago, my lord. I am Lempriere,
Seigneur of Rozel, butler to her Majesty.”

“But are you, then? I thought you were a farmer and raised cabbages.”
 Smiling, Leicester passed on.

For a moment the Seigneur stood pondering the Earl’s words and angrily
wondering at his obtuseness. Then suddenly he knew he had been mocked,
and he turned and ran after his enemy; but Leicester had vanished into
the Queen’s apartments.

The Queen’s fool was standing near, seemingly engaged in the light
occupation of catching imaginary flies, buzzing with his motions. As
Leicester disappeared he looked from under his arm at Lempriere. “If a
bird will not stop for the salt to its tail, then the salt is damned,
Nuncio; and you must cry David! and get thee to the quarry.”

Lempriere stared at him swelling with rage; but the quaint smiling of
the fool conquered him, and instead of turning on his heel, he spread
himself like a Colossus and looked down in grandeur. “And wherefore cry
David! and get quarrying?” he asked. “Come, what sense is there in thy
words, when I am wroth with yonder nobleman?”

“Oh, Nuncio, Nuncio, thou art a child of innocence and without history.
The salt held not the bird for the net of thy anger, Nuncio; so it is
meet that other ways be found. David the ancient put a stone in a sling
and Goliath laid him down like an egg in a nest--therefore, Nuncio, get
thee to the quarry. Obligato, which is to say Leicester yonder, hath no
tail--the devil cut it off and wears it himself. So let salt be damned,
and go sling thy stone!”

Lempriere was good-humoured again. He fumbled in his purse and brought
forth a gold-piece. “Fool, thou hast spoken like a man born sensible and
infinite. I understand thee like a book. Thou hast not folly and thou
shalt not be answered as if thou wast a fool. But in terms of gold shalt
thou have reply.” He put the gold-piece in the fool’s hand and slapped
him on the shoulder.

“Why now, Nuncio,” answered the other, “it is clear that there is a
fool at Court, for is it not written that a fool and his money are soon
parted? And this gold-piece is still hot with running ‘tween thee and
me.”

Lempriere roared. “Why, then, for thy hit thou shalt have another
gold-piece, gossip. But see”--his voice lowered--“know you where is my
friend, Buonespoir, the pirate? Know you where he is in durance?”

“As I know marrow in a bone I know where he hides, Nuncio, so come with
me,” answered the fool.

“If De Carteret had but thy sense, we could live at peace in Jersey,”
 rejoined Lempriere, and strode ponderously after the light-footed fool
who capered forth singing:

       “Come hither, O come hither,
         There’s a bride upon her bed;
        They have strewn her o’er with roses,
         There are roses ‘neath her head:
        Life is love and tears and laughter,
         But the laughter it is dead
        Sing the way to the Valley, to the Valley!
         Hey, but the roses they are red!”



CHAPTER IX

The next day at noon, as her Majesty had advised the Seigneur, De la
Foret was ushered into the presence. The Queen’s eye quickened as she
saw him, and she remarked with secret pleasure the figure and bearing
of this young captain of the Huguenots. She loved physical grace and
prowess with a full heart. The day had almost passed when she would
measure all men against Leicester in his favour; and he, knowing this
clearly now, saw with haughty anxiety the gradual passing of his power,
and clutched futilely at the vanishing substance. Thus it was that
he now spent his strength in getting his way with the Queen in little
things. She had been so long used to take his counsel--in some part wise
and skilful--that when she at length did without it, or followed her own
mind, it became a fever with him to let no chance pass for serving his
own will by persuading her out of hers. This was why he had spent an
hour the day before in sadly yet vaguely reproaching her for the slight
she put upon him in the presence-chamber by her frown; and another
in urging her to come to terms with Catherine de Medici in this small
affair--since the Frenchwoman had set her revengeful heart upon it--that
larger matters might be settled to the gain of England. It was not so
much that he had reason to destroy De la Foret, as that he saw that the
Queen was disposed to deal friendly by him and protect him. He did
not see the danger of rousing in the Queen the same unreasoning
tenaciousness of will upon just such lesser things as might well be left
to her advisers. In spite of which he almost succeeded, this very day,
in regaining, for a time at least, the ground he had lost with her. He
had never been so adroit, so brilliant, so witty, so insinuating; and
he left her with the feeling that if he had his way concerning De
la Foret--a mere stubborn whim, with no fair reason behind it--his
influence would be again securely set. The sense of crisis was on him.

On Michel de la Foret entering the presence the Queen’s attention had
become riveted. She felt in him a spirit of mastery, yet of unselfish
purpose. Here was one, she thought, who might well be in her household,
or leading a regiment of her troops. The clear fresh face, curling hair,
direct look, quiet energy, and air of nobility--this sort of man could
only be begotten of a great cause; he were not possible in idle or
prosperous times.

Elizabeth looked him up and down, then affected surprise. “Monsieur de
la Foret,” she said, “I do not recognise you in this attire”--glancing
towards his dress.

De la Foret bowed, and Elizabeth continued, looking at a paper in her
hand: “You landed on our shores of Jersey in the robes of a priest of
France. The passport for a priest of France was found upon your
person when our officers in Jersey made search of you. Which is
yourself--Michel de la Foret, soldier, or a priest of France?”

De la Foret replied gravely that he was a soldier, and that the priestly
dress had been but a disguise.

“In which papist attire, methinks, Michel de la Foret, soldier and
Huguenot, must have been ill at ease--the eagle with the vulture’s wing.
What say you, Monsieur?”

“That vulture’s wing hath carried me to a safe dove-cote, your gracious
Majesty,” he answered, with a low obeisance.

“I’m none so sure of that, Monsieur,” was Elizabeth’s answer, and she
glanced quizzically at Leicester, who made a gesture of annoyance.
“Our cousin France makes you to us a dark intriguer and conspirator, a
dangerous weed in our good garden of England, a ‘troublous, treacherous
violence’--such are you called, Monsieur.”

“I am in your high Majesty’s power,” he answered, “to do with me as it
seemeth best. If your Majesty wills it that I be returned to France,
I pray you set me upon its coast as I came from it, a fugitive. Thence
will I try to find my way to the army and the poor stricken people of
whom I was. I pray for that only, and not to be given to the red hand of
the Medici.”

“Red hand--by my faith, but you are bold, Monsieur!”

Leicester tapped his foot upon the floor impatiently, then caught the
Queen’s eye, and gave her a meaning look.

De la Foret saw the look and knew his enemy, but he did not quail. “Bold
only by your high Majesty’s faith, indeed,” he answered the Queen, with
harmless guile.

Elizabeth smiled. She loved such flattering speech from a strong man.
It touched a chord in her deeper than that under Leicester’s finger.
Leicester’s impatience only made her more self-willed on the instant.

“You speak with the trumpet note, Monsieur,” she said to De la Foret.
“We will prove you. You shall have a company in my Lord Leicester’s army
here, and we will send you upon some service worthy of your fame.”

“I crave your Majesty’s pardon, but I cannot do it,” was De la Foret’s
instant reply. “I have sworn that I will lift my sword in one cause
only, and to that I must stand. And more--the widow of my dead chief,
Gabriel de Montgomery, is set down in this land unsheltered and alone.
I have sworn to one who loves her, and for my dead chief’s sake, that
I will serve her and be near her until better days be come and she may
return in quietness to France. In exile we few stricken folk must stand
together, your august Majesty.”

Elizabeth’s eye flashed up. She was impatient of refusal of her favour.
She was also a woman, and that De la Foret should flaunt his devotion
to another woman was little to her liking. The woman in her, which had
never been blessed with a noble love, was roused. The sourness of a
childless, uncompanionable life was stronger for the moment than her
strong mind and sense.

“Monsieur has sworn this, and Monsieur has sworn that,” she said
petulantly--“and to one who loveth a lady, and for a cause--tut, tut,
tut!--”

Suddenly a kind of intriguing laugh leaped into her eye, and she turned
to Leicester and whispered in his ear. Leicester frowned, then smiled,
and glanced up and down De la Foret’s figure impertinently.

“See, Monsieur de la Foret,” she added; “since you will not fight, you
shall preach. A priest you came into my kingdom, and a priest you shall
remain; but you shall preach good English doctrine and no Popish folly.”

De la Foret started, then composed himself, and before he had time
to reply, Elizabeth continued: “Partly for your own sake am I thus
gracious; for as a preacher of the Word I have not need to give you
up, according to agreement with our brother of France. As a rebel and
conspirator I were bound to do so, unless you were an officer of my
army. The Seigneur of Rozel has spoken for you, and the Comtesse de
Montgomery has written a pleading letter. Also I have from another
source a tearful prayer--the ink is scarce dry upon it--which has been
of service to you. But I myself have chosen this way of escape for
you. Prove yourself worthy, and all may be well--but prove yourself
you shall. You have prepared your own brine, Monsieur; in it you shall
pickle.”

She smiled a sour smile, for she was piqued, and added: “Do you think I
will have you here squiring of distressed dames, save as a priest? You
shall hence to Madame of Montgomery as her faithful chaplain, once I
have heard you preach and know your doctrine.”

Leicester almost laughed outright in the young man’s face now, for he
had no thought that De la Foret would accept, and refusal meant the
exile’s doom.

It seemed fantastic that this noble gentleman, this very type of the
perfect soldier, with the brown face of a picaroon and an athletic
valour of body, should become a preacher even in necessity.

Elizabeth, seeing De la Foret’s dumb amazement and anxiety, spoke
up sharply: “Do this, or get you hence to the Medici, and Madame of
Montgomery shall mourn her protector, and Mademoiselle your mistress of
the vermilion cheek, shall have one lover the less; which, methinks, our
Seigneur of Rozel would thank me for.”

De la Foret started, his lips pressed firmly together in effort of
restraint. There seemed little the Queen did not know concerning him;
and reference to Angele roused him to sharp solicitude.

“Well, well?” asked Elizabeth impatiently, then made a motion to
Leicester, and he, going to the door, bade some one to enter.

There stepped inside the Seigneur of Rozel, who made a lumbering
obeisance, then got to his knees before the Queen.

“You have brought the lady safely--with her father?” she asked.

Lempriere, puzzled, looked inquiringly at the Queen, then replied: “Both
are safe without, your infinite Majesty.”

De la Foret’s face grew pale. He knew now for the first time that Angele
and her father were in England, and he looked Lempriere suspiciously in
the eyes; but the swaggering Seigneur met his look frankly, and bowed
with ponderous and genial gravity.

Now De la Foret spoke. “Your high Majesty,” said he, “if I may ask
Mademoiselle Aubert one question in your presence--”

“Your answer now; the lady in due season,” interposed the Queen.

“She was betrothed to a soldier, she may resent a priest,” said De la
Foret, with a touch of humour, for he saw the better way was to take the
matter with some outward ease.

Elizabeth smiled. “It is the custom of her sex to have a fondness for
both,” she answered, with an acid smile. “But your answer?”

De la Foret’s face became exceeding grave. Bowing his head, he said: “My
sword has spoken freely for the Cause; God forbid that my tongue should
not speak also. I will do your Majesty’s behest.”

The jesting word that was upon the royal lips came not forth, for De
la Foret’s face was that of a man who had determined a great thing,
and Elizabeth was one who had a heart for high deeds. “The man is brave
indeed,” she said under her breath, and, turning to the dumfounded
Seigneur, bade him bring in Mademoiselle Aubert.

A moment later Angele entered, came a few steps forward, made obeisance,
and stood still. She showed no trepidation, but looked before her
steadily. She knew not what was to be required of her, she was a
stranger in a strange land; but persecution and exile had gone far to
strengthen her spirit and greaten her composure.

Elizabeth gazed at the girl coldly and critically. To women she was not
over-amiable; but as she looked at the young Huguenot maid, of this
calm bearing, warm of colour, clear of eye, and purposeful of face, some
thing kindled in her. Most like it was that love for a cause, which was
more to be encouraged by her than any woman’s love for a man, which as
she grew older inspired her with aversion, as talk of marriage brought
cynical allusions to her lips.

“I have your letter and its protests and its pleadings. There were fine
words and adjurations--are you so religious, then?” she asked brusquely.

“I am a Huguenot, your noble Majesty,” answered the girl, as though that
answered all.

“How is it, then, you are betrothed to a roistering soldier?” asked the
Queen.

“Some must pray for Christ’s sake, and some must fight, your most
christian Majesty,” answered the girl. “Some must do both,” rejoined the
Queen, in a kinder voice, for the pure spirit of the girl worked upon
her. “I am told that Monsieur de la Foret fights fairly. If he can pray
as well, methinks he shall have safety in our kingdom, and ye shall all
have peace. On Trinity Sunday you shall preach in my chapel, Monsieur de
la Foret, and thereafter you shall know your fate.”

She rose. “My Lord,” she said to Leicester, on whose face gloom had
settled, “you will tell the Lord Chamberlain that Monsieur de la Foret’s
durance must be made comfortable in the west tower of my palace till
chapel-going of Trinity Day. I will send him for his comfort and
instruction some sermons of Latimer.”

She stepped down from the dais. “You will come with me, mistress,” she
said to Angele, and reached out her hand.

Angele fell on her knees and kissed it, tears falling down her cheek,
then rose and followed the Queen from the chamber. She greatly desired
to look backward towards De la Foret, but some good angel bade her not.
She realised that to offend the Queen at this moment might ruin all;
and Elizabeth herself was little like to offer chance for farewell and
love-tokens.

So it was that, with bowed head, Angele left the room with the Queen of
England, leaving Lempriere and De la Foret gazing at each other, the
one bewildered, the other lost in painful reverie, and Leicester smiling
maliciously at them both.



CHAPTER X

Every man, if you bring him to the right point, if you touch him in the
corner where he is most sensitive, where he most lives, as it were; if
you prick his nerves with a needle of suggestion where all his passions,
ambitions and sentiments are at white heat, will readily throw away the
whole game of life in some mad act out of harmony with all he ever did.
It matters little whether the needle prick him by accident or blunder or
design, he will burst all bounds, and establish again the old truth that
each of us will prove himself a fool given perfect opportunity. Nor need
the occasion of this revolution be a great one; the most trivial event
may produce the great fire which burns up wisdom, prudence and habit.

The Earl of Leicester, so long counted astute, clearheaded, and
well-governed, had been suddenly foisted out of balance, shaken from his
imperious composure, tortured out of an assumed and persistent urbanity,
by the presence in Greenwich Palace of a Huguenot exile of no seeming
importance, save what the Medici grimly gave him by desiring his head.
It appeared absurd that the great Leicester, whose nearness to the
throne had made him the most feared, most notable, and, by virtue of
his opportunities, the most dramatic figure in England, should have
sleepless nights by reason of a fugitive like Michel de la Foret. On the
surface it was preposterous that he should see in the Queen’s offer of
service to the refugee evidence that she was set to grant him special
favours; it was equally absurd that her offer of safety to him on pledge
of his turning preacher should seem proof that she meant to have him
near her. Elizabeth had left the presence-chamber without so much as
a glance at him, though she had turned and looked graciously at the
stranger. He had hastily followed her, and thereafter impatiently
awaited a summons which never came, though he had sent a message that
his hours were at her Majesty’s disposal. Waiting, he saw Angele’s
father escorted from the palace by a Gentleman Pensioner to a lodge in
the park; he saw Michel de la Foret taken to his apartments; he saw the
Seigneur of Rozel walking in the palace grounds with such possession as
though they were his own, self-content in every motion of his body.

Upon the instant the great Earl was incensed out of all proportion to
the affront of the Seigneur’s existence. He suddenly hated Lempriere
only less than he hated Michel de la Foret. As he still waited irritably
for a summons from Elizabeth, he brooded on every word and every
look she had given him of late; he recalled her manner to him in the
ante-chapel the day before, and the admiring look she cast on De la
Foret but now. He had seen more in it than mere approval of courage and
the self-reliant bearing of a refugee of her own religion.

These were days when the soldier of fortune mounted to high places. He
needed but to carry the banner of bravery, and a busy sword, and his way
to power was not hindered by poor estate. To be gently born was the one
thing needful, and Michel de la Foret was gently born; and he had still
his sword, though he chose not to use it in Elizabeth’s service. My Lord
knew it might be easier for a stranger like De la Foret, who came with
no encumbrance, to mount to place in the struggles of the Court,
than for an Englishman, whose increasing and ever-bolder enemies were
undermining on every hand, to hold his own.

He began to think upon ways and means to meet this sudden preference of
the Queen, made sharply manifest as he waited in the ante-chamber, by a
summons to the refugee to enter the Queen’s apartments. When the refugee
came forth again he wore a sword the Queen had sent him, and a packet
of Latimer’s sermons were under his arm. Leicester was unaware that
Elizabeth herself did not see De la Foret when he was thus hastily
called; but that her lady-in-waiting, the Duke’s Daughter, who figured
so largely in the pictures Lempriere drew of his experiences at
Greenwich Palace, brought forth the sermons and the sword, with this
message from the Queen:

“The Queen says that it is but fair to the sword to be by Michel de
la Foret’s side when the sermons are in his hand, that his choice have
every seeming of fairness. For her Majesty says it is still his choice
between the Sword and the Book till Trinity Day.”

Leicester, however, only saw the sword at the side of the refugee and
the gold-bound book under his arm as he came forth, and in a rage he
left the palace and gloomily walked under the trees, denying himself to
every one.

To seize De la Foret, and send him to the Medici, and then rely on
Elizabeth’s favour for his pardon, as he had done in the past? That
might do, but the risk to England was too great. It would be like the
Queen, if her temper was up, to demand from the Medici the return of De
la Foret, and war might ensue. Two women, with two nations behind them,
were not to be played lightly against each other, trusting to their
common sense and humour.

As he walked among the trees, brooding with averted eyes, he was
suddenly faced by the Seigneur of Rozel, who also was shaken from his
discretion and the best interests of the two fugitives he was bound to
protect, by a late offence against his own dignity. A seed of rancour
had been sown in his mind which had grown to a great size and must
presently burst into a dark flower of vengeance. He, Lempriere of Rozel,
with three dovecotes, the perquage, and the office of butler to the
Queen, to be called a “farmer,” to be sneered at--it was not in the
blood of man, not in the towering vanity of a Lempriere, to endure it at
any price computable to mortal mind.

Thus there were in England on that day two fools (there are as many
now), and one said:

“My Lord Leicester, I crave a word with you.”

“Crave on, good fellow,” responded Leicester with a look of boredom,
making to pass by.

“I am Lempriere, lord of Rozel, my lord--”

“Ah yes, I took you for a farmer,” answered Leicester. “Instead of that,
I believe you keep doves, and wear a jerkin that fits like a king’s.
Dear Lord, so does greatness come with girth!”

“The King that gave me dove-cotes gave me honour, and ‘tis not for the
Earl of Leicester to belittle it.”

“What is your coat of arms?” said Leicester with a faint smile, but in
an assumed tone of natural interest.

“A swan upon a sea of azure, two stars above, and over all a sword with
a wreath around its point,” answered Lempriere simply, unsuspecting
irony, and touched by Leicester’s flint where he was most like to flare
up with vanity.

“Ah!” said Leicester. “And the motto?”

“Mea spes supra stella--my hope is beyond the stars.”

“And the wreath--of parsley, I suppose?”

Now Lempriere understood, and he shook with fury as he roared:

“Yes, by God, and to be got at the point of the sword, to put on the
heads of insolents like Lord Leicester!” His face was flaming, he was
like a cock strutting upon a stable mound.

There fell a slight pause, and then Leicester said: “To-morrow at
daylight, eh?”

“Now, my lord, now!”

“We have no seconds.”

“‘Sblood! ‘Tis not your way, my lord, to be stickling in detail of
courtesy.”

“‘Tis not the custom to draw swords in secret, Lempriere of Rozel. Also
my teeth are not on edge to fight you.”

Lempriere had already drawn his sword, and the look of his eyes was as
that of a mad bull in a ring. “You won’t fight with me--you don’t think
Rozel your equal?” His voice was high.

Leicester’s face took on a hard, cruel look. “We cannot fight among the
ladies,” he said quietly. Lempriere followed his glance, and saw the
Duke’s Daughter and another in the trees near by.

He hastily put up his sword. “When, my lord?” he asked.

“You will hear from me to-night,” was the answer, and Leicester went
forward hastily to meet the ladies--they had news no doubt.

Lempriere turned on his heel and walked quickly away among the trees
towards the quarters where Buonespoir was in durance, which was little
more severe than to keep him within the palace yard. There he found the
fool and the pirate in whimsical converse.

The fool had brought a letter of inquiry and warm greeting from
Angele to Buonespoir, who was laboriously inditing one in return. When
Lempriere entered the pirate greeted him jovially.

“In the very pinch of time you come,” he said. “You have grammar and
syntax and etiquette.”

“‘Tis even so, Nuncio,” said the fool. “Here is needed prosody
potential. Exhale!”

The three put their heads together above the paper.



CHAPTER XI

“I would know your story. How came you and yours to this pass? Where
were you born? Of what degree are you? And this Michel de la Foret, when
came he to your feet--or you to his arms? I would know all. Begin where
life began; end where you sit here at the feet of Elizabeth. This other
cushion to your knees. There--now speak. We are alone.”

Elizabeth pushed a velvet cushion towards Angele, where she half-knelt,
half-sat on the rush-strewn floor of the great chamber. The warm light
of the afternoon sun glowed through the thick-tinted glass high up, and,
in the gleam, the heavy tapestries sent by an archduke, once suitor for
Elizabeth’s hand, emerged with dramatic distinctness, and peopled the
room with silent watchers of the great Queen and the nobly-born but poor
and fugitive Huguenot. A splendid piece of sculpture--Eleanor, wife of
Edward--given Elizabeth by another royal suitor, who had sought to be
her consort through many years, caught the warm bath of gold and crimson
from the clerestory and seemed alive and breathing. Against the pedestal
the Queen had placed her visitor, the red cushions making vivid contrast
to her white gown and black hair. In the half-kneeling, half-sitting
posture, with her hands clasped before her, so to steady herself
to composure, Angele looked a suppliant--and a saint. Her pure,
straightforward gaze, her smooth, urbane forehead, the guilelessness
that spoke in every feature, were not made worldly by the intelligence
and humour reposing in the brown depths of her eyes. Not a line vexed
her face or forehead. Her countenance was of a singular and almost
polished smoothness, and though her gown was severely simple by
comparison with silks and velvets, furs and ruffles of a gorgeous Court
at its most gorgeous period, yet in it here and there were touches of
exquisite fineness. The black velvet ribbon slashing her sleeves, the
slight cloud-like gathering of lace at the back of her head, gave a
distinguished softness to her appearance.

She was in curious contrast to the Queen, who sat upon heaped-up
cushions, her rich buff and black gown a blaze of jewels, her yellow
hair, now streaked with grey, roped with pearls, her hands heavy with
rings, her face past its youth, past its hopefulness, however noble and
impressive, past its vivid beauty. Her eyes wore ever a determined look,
were persistent and vigilant, with a lurking trouble, yet flooded, too,
by a quiet melancholy, like a low, insistent note that floats through
an opera of passion, romance, and tragedy; like a tone of pathos
giving deep character to some splendid pageant, which praises whilst it
commemorates, proclaiming conquest while the grass has not yet grown on
quiet houses of the children of the sword who no more wield the sword.
Evasive, cautious, secretive, creator of her own policy, she had
sacrificed her womanhood to the power she held and the State she served.
Vain, passionate, and faithful, her heart all England and Elizabeth, the
hunger for glimpses of what she had never known, and was never to know,
thrust itself into her famished life; and she was wont to indulge, as
now, in fancies and follow some emotional whim with a determination very
like to eccentricity.

That, at this time, when great national events were forward, when
conspiracies abounded, when Parliament was grimly gathering strength
to compel her to marry; and her Council were as sternly pursuing their
policy for the destruction of Leicester; while that very day had come
news of a rising in the North and of fresh Popish plots hatched in
France--that in such case, this day she should set aside all business,
refuse ambassadors and envoys admission, and occupy herself with two
Huguenot refugees seemed incredible to the younger courtiers. To such
as Cecil, however, there was clear understanding. He knew that when
she seemed most inert, most impassive to turbulent occurrences, most
careless of consequences, she was but waiting till, in her own mind, her
plans were grown; so that she should see her end clearly ere she spoke
or moved. Now, as the great minister showed himself at the door of
the chamber and saw Elizabeth seated with Angele, he drew back
instinctively, expectant of the upraised hand which told him he must
wait. And, in truth, he was nothing loth to do so, for his news he
cared little to deliver, important though it was that she should have it
promptly and act upon it soon. He turned away with a feeling of relief,
however, for this gossip with the Huguenot maid would no doubt interest
her, give new direction to her warm sympathies, which if roused in one
thing were ever more easily roused in others. He knew that a crisis was
nearing in the royal relations with Leicester. In a life of devotion to
her service he had seen her before in this strange mood, and he could
feel that she was ready for an outburst. As he thought of De la Foret
and the favour with which she had looked at him he smiled grimly, for if
it meant aught it meant that it would drive Leicester to some act which
would hasten his own doom; though, indeed, it might also make another
path more difficult for himself, for the Parliament, for the people.

Little as Elizabeth could endure tales of love and news of marriage;
little as she believed in any vows, save those made to herself; little
as she was inclined to adjust the rough courses of true love, she was
the surgeon to this particular business, and she had the surgeon’s love
of laying bare even to her own cynicism the hurt of the poor patient
under her knife. Indeed, so had Angele impressed her that for once she
thought she might hear the truth. Because she saw the awe in the
other’s face and a worshipping admiration of the great protectress of
Protestantism, who had by large gifts of men and money in times past
helped the Cause, she looked upon her here with kindness.

“Speak now, mistress fugitive, and I will listen,” she added, as Cecil
withdrew; and she made a motion to musicians in a distant gallery.

Angele’s heart fluttered to her mouth, but the soft, simple music helped
her, and she began with eyes bent upon the ground, her linked fingers
clasping and unclasping slowly.

“I was born at Rouen, your high Majesty,” she said. “My mother was a
cousin of the Prince of Passy, the great Protestant--”

“Of Passy--ah!” said Elizabeth amazed. “Then you are Protestants indeed;
and your face is no invention, but cometh honestly. No, no, ‘tis no
accident--God rest his soul, great Passy!”

“She died--my mother--when I was a little child. I can but just remember
her--so brightly quiet, so quick, so beautiful. In Rouen life had little
motion; but now and then came stir and turmoil, for war sent its message
into the old streets, and our captains and our peasants poured forth to
fight for the King. Once came the King and Queen--Francis and Mary--”

Elizabeth drew herself upright with an exclamation. “Ah, you have seen
her--Mary of Scots,” she said sharply. “You have seen her?”

“As near as I might touch her with my hand, as near as is your high
Majesty. She spoke to me--my mother’s father was in her train;--as yet
we had not become Huguenots, nor did we know her Majesty as now the
world knows. They came, the King and Queen--and that was the beginning.”

She paused, and looked shyly at Elizabeth, as though she found it hard
to tell her story.

“And the beginning, it was--?” said Elizabeth, impatient and intent.

“We went to Court. The Queen called my mother into her train. But it was
in no wise for our good. At Court my mother pined away--and so she died
in durance.”

“Wherefore in durance?”

“To what she saw she would not shut her eyes; to what she heard she
would not close her soul; what was required of her she would not do.”

“She would not obey the Queen?”

“She could not obey those whom the Queen favoured. Then the tyranny that
broke her heart--”

The Queen interrupted her.

“In very truth, but ‘tis not in France alone that Queen’s favourites
grasp the sceptre and speak the word. Hath a Queen a thousand eyes--can
she know truth where most dissemble?”

“There was a man--he could not know there was one true woman there, who
for her daughter’s sake, for her desired advancement, and because she
was cousin of Passy, who urged it, lived that starved life; this man,
this prince, drew round her feet snares, set pit-falls for her while my
father was sent upon a mission. Steadfast she kept her soul unspotted;
but it wore away her life. The Queen would not permit return to
Rouen--who can tell what tale was told her by one whom she foiled? And
so she stayed. In this slow, savage persecution, when she was like
a bird that, thinking it is free, flieth against the window-pane and
falleth back beaten, so did she stay, and none could save her. To cry
out, to throw herself upon the spears, would have been ruin of herself,
her husband and her child; and for these she lived.”

Elizabeth’s eyes had kindled. Perhaps never in her life had the life at
Court been so exposed to her. The simple words, meant but to convey the
story, and with no thought behind, had thrown a light on her own Court,
on her own position. Adept in weaving a sinuous course in her policy, in
making mazes for others to tread, the mazes which they in turn prepared
had never before been traced beneath her eyes to the same vivid and
ultimate effect.

“Help me, ye saints, but things are not at such a pass in this place!”
 she said abruptly, but with weariness in her voice. “Yet sometimes I
know not. The Court is a city by itself, walled and moated, and hath a
life all its own. ‘If there be found ten honest men within the city yet
will I save it,’ saith the Lord. By my father’s head, I would not risk
a finger on the hazard if this city, this Court of Elizabeth were set
‘twixt the fire from Heaven and eternal peace. In truth, child, I would
lay me down and die in black disgust were it not that one might come
hereafter would make a very Sodom or Gomorrah of this land: and out
yonder--out in all my counties, where the truth of England is among my
poor burgesses, who die for the great causes which my nobles profess but
risk not their lives--out yonder all that they have won, and for which
I have striven, would be lost.... Speak on. I have not heard so plain a
tongue and so little guile these twenty years.”

Angele continued, more courage in her voice. “In the midst of it all
came the wave of the new faith upon my mother. And before ill could fall
upon her from her foes, she died and was at rest. Then we returned
to Rouen, my father and I, and there we lived in peril, but in great
happiness of soul until the day of massacre. That night in Paris we were
given greatly of the mercy of God.”

“You were there--you were in the massacre at Paris?”

“In the house of the Duke of Langon, with whom was resting after a
hazardous enterprise, Michel de la Foret.”

“And here beginneth the second lesson,” said the Queen with a smile on
her lips; but there was a look of scrutiny in her eyes, and something
like irony in her tone. “And I will swear by all the stars of Heaven
that this Michel saved ye both. Is it not so?”

“It is even so. By his skill and bravery we found our way to safety, and
in a hiding-place near to our loved Rouen watched him return from the
gates of death.”

“He was wounded then?”

“Seven times wounded, and with as little blood left in him as would fill
a cup. But it was summer, and we were in the hills, and they brought us,
our friends of Rouen, all that we had need of; and so God was with us.

“But did he save thy life, except by skill, by indirect and fortunate
wisdom? Was there deadly danger upon thee? Did he beat down the sword of
death?”

“He saved my life thrice directly. The wounds he carried were got by
interposing his own sword ‘twixt death and me.”

“And that hath need of recompense?”

“My life was little worth the wounds he suffered; but I waited not until
he saved it to owe it unto him. All that it is was his before he drew
the sword.”

“And ‘tis this ye would call love betwixt ye--sweet givings and takings
of looks, and soft sayings, and unchangeable and devouring faith. Is’t
this--and is this all?”

The girl had spoken out of an innocent heart, but the challenge in
the Queen’s voice worked upon her, and though she shrank a little, the
fulness of her soul welled up and strengthened her. She spoke again,
and now in her need and in her will to save the man she loved, by making
this majesty of England his protector, her words had eloquence.

“It is not all, noble Queen. Love is more than that. It is the waking in
the poorest minds, in the most barren souls, of something greater than
themselves--as a chemist should find a substance that would give all
other things by touching of them a new and higher value; as light and
sun draw from the earth the tendrils of the seed that else had lain
unproducing. ‘Tis not alone soft words and touch of hand or lip. This
caring wholly for one outside one’s self kills that self which else
would make the world blind and deaf and dumb. None hath loved greatly
but hath helped to love in others. Ah, most sweet Majesty, for great
souls like thine, souls born great, this medicine is not needful, for
already hath the love of a nation inspired and enlarged it; but for
souls like mine and of so many, none better and none worse than me, to
love one other soul deeply and abidingly lifts us higher than ourselves.
Your Majesty hath been loved by a whole people, by princes and great
men in a different sort--is it not the world’s talk that none that ever
reigned hath drawn such slavery of princes, and of great nobles who have
courted death for hopeless love of one beyond their star? And is it not
written in the world’s book also that the Queen of England hath loved
no man, but hath poured out her heart to a people; and hath served great
causes in all the earth because of that love which hath still enlarged
her soul, dowered at birth beyond reckoning?” Tears filled her eyes.
“Ah, your supreme Majesty, to you whose heart is universal, the love
of one poor mortal seemeth a small thing, but to those of little
consequence it is the cable by which they unsteadily hold over the chasm
‘twixt life and immortality. To thee, oh greatest monarch of the world,
it is a staff on which thou need’st not lean, which thou hast never
grasped; to me it is my all; without it I fail and fall and die.”

She had spoken as she felt, yet, because she was a woman and guessed the
mind of another woman, she had touched Elizabeth where her armour
was weakest. She had suggested that the Queen had been the object of
adoration, but had never given her heart to any man; that hers was
the virgin heart and life; and that she had never stooped to conquer.
Without realising it, and only dimly moving with that end in view, she
had whetted Elizabeth’s vanity. She had indeed soothed a pride wounded
of late beyond endurance, suspecting, as she did, that Leicester had
played his long part for his own sordid purposes, that his devotion was
more alloy than precious metal. No note of praise could be pitched too
high for Elizabeth, and if only policy did not intervene, if but no
political advantage was lost by saving De la Foret, that safety seemed
now secure.

“You tell a tale and adorn it with good grace,” she said, and held out
her hand. Angele kissed it. “And you have said to Elizabeth what none
else dared to say since I was Queen here. He who hath never seen the
lightning hath no dread of it. I had not thought there was in the world
so much artlessness, with all the power of perfect art. But we live to
be wiser. Thou shalt continue in thy tale. Thou hast seen Mary, once
Queen of France, now Queen of Scots--answer me fairly; without if, or
though, or any sort of doubt, the questions I shall put. Which of us
twain, this ruin-starred queen or I, is of higher stature?”

“She hath advantage in little of your Majesty,” bravely answered Angele.

“Then,” answered Elizabeth sourly, “she is too high, for I myself
am neither too high nor too low.... And of complexion, which is the
fairer?”

“Her complexion is the fairer, but your Majesty’s countenance hath truer
beauty, and sweeter majesty.” Elizabeth frowned slightly, then said:

“What exercises did she take when you were at the Court?”

“Sometimes she hunted, your Majesty, and sometimes she played upon the
virginals.”

“Did she play to effect?”

“Reasonably, your noble Majesty.”

“You shall hear me play, and then speak truth upon us, for I have known
none with so true a tongue since my father died.”

Thereon she called to a lady who waited near in a little room to bring
an instrument; but at that moment Cecil appeared again at the door, and
his face seeming to show anxiety, Elizabeth, with a sigh, beckoned him
to enter.

“Your face, Cecil, is as long as a Lenten collect. What raven croaks in
England on May Day eve?” Cecil knelt before her, and gave into her hand
a paper.

“What record runs here?” she asked querulously. “A prayer of your
faithful Lords and Commons that your Majesty will grant speech with
their chosen deputies to lay before your Majesty a cause they have at
heart.”

“Touching of--?” darkly asked the Queen.

“The deputies wait even now--will not your Majesty receive them? They
have come humbly, and will go hence as humbly on the instant, if the
hour is ill chosen.”

Immediately Elizabeth’s humour changed. A look of passion swept across
her face, but her eyes lighted, and her lips smiled proudly. She avoided
troubles by every means, fought off by subtleties the issues which she
must meet; but when the inevitable hour came none knew so well to meet
it as though it were a dearest friend, no matter what the danger, how
great the stake.

“They are here at my door, these good servants of the State--shall they
be kept dangling?” she said loudly. “Though it were time for prayers and
God’s mercy yet should they speak with me, have my counsel, or my hand
upon the sacred parchment of the State. Bring them hither, Cecil. Now
we shall see--Now you shall see, Angele of Rouen, now you shall see how
queens shall have no hearts to call their own, but be head and heart and
soul and body at the will of every churl who thinks he serves the State
and knows the will of Heaven. Stand here at my left hand. Mark the
players and the play.”

Kneeling, the deputies presented a resolution from the Lords and
Commons that the Queen should, without more delay, in keeping with her
oft-expressed resolve and the promise of her Council, appoint one who
should succeed to the throne in case of her death “without posterity.”
 Her faithful people pleaded with her gracious Majesty to forego
unwillingness to marry and seek a consort worthy of her supreme
consideration, to be raised to a place beside her near that throne which
she had made the greatest in the world.

Gravely, solemnly, the chief members of the Lords and Commons spoke, and
with as weighty pauses and devoted protestations as though this were the
first time their plea had been urged, this obvious duty had been set out
before her. Long ago in the flush and pride of her extreme youth and the
full assurance of the fruits of marriage, they had spoken with the
same sober responsibility; and though her youth had gone and the old
certainty had for ever disappeared, they spoke of her marriage and its
consequences as though it were still that far-off yesterday. Well for
them that they did so, for though time had flown and royal suitors
without number had become figures dim in the people’s mind, Elizabeth,
fed upon adulation, invoked, admired, besieged by young courtiers,
flattered by maids who praised her beauty, had never seen the hands
of the clock pass high noon, and still remained under the dearest and
saddest illusion which can rest in a woman’s mind. Long after the hands
of life’s clock had moved into afternoon, the ancient prayer was still
gravely presented that she should marry and give an heir to England’s
crown; and she as solemnly listened and dropped her eyes, and strove to
hide her virgin modesty behind a high demeanour which must needs sink
self in royal duty.

“These be the dear desires of your supreme Majesty’s faithful Lords and
Commons and the people of the shires whose wills they represent. Your
Majesty’s life, God grant it last beyond that of the youngest of your
people so greatly blessed in your rule! But accidents of time be many;
and while the world is full of guile, none can tell what peril may beset
the crown, if your Majesty’s wisdom sets not apart, gives not to her
country, one whom the nation can surround with its care, encompass
lovingly by its duty.”

The talk with Angele had had a curious influence upon the Queen. It
was plain that now she was moved by real feeling, and that, though she
deceived herself, or pretended so to do, shutting her eyes to sober
facts, and dreaming old dreams--as it were, in a world where never was
a mirror nor a timepiece--yet there was working in her a fresher spirit,
urging her to a fairer course than she had shaped for many a day.

“My lords and gentlemen and my beloved subjects,” she answered
presently, and for an instant set her eyes upon Angele, then turned to
them again, “I pray you stand and hear me.... Ye have spoken fair words
to my face, and of my face, and of the person of this daughter of great
Henry, from whom I got whatever grace or manner or favour is to me; and
by all your reasoning you do flatter the heart of the Queen of England,
whose mind indeed sleeps not in deed or desire for this realm. Ye have
drawn a fair picture of this mortal me, and though from the grace of
the picture the colours may fade by time, may give by weather, may be
spoiled by chance, yet my loyal mind, nor time with her swift wings
shall overtake, nor the misty clouds may darken, nor chance with her
slippery foot may overthrow. It sets its course by the heart of England,
and when it passeth there shall be found that one shall be left behind
who shall be surety of all that hath been lying in the dim warehouse
of fate for England’s high future. Be sure that in this thing I have
entered into the weigh-house, and I hold the balance, and ye shall be
well satisfied. Ye have been fruitful in counsel, ye have been long
knitting a knot never tied, ye shall have comfort soon. But know ye
beyond peradventure that I have bided my time with good reason. If our
loom be framed with rotten hurdles, when our web is well-ny done, our
work is yet to begin. Against mischance and dark discoveries my mind,
with knowledge hidden from you, hath been firmly arrayed. If it be in
your thought that I am set against a marriage which shall serve the
nation, purge yourselves, friends, of that sort of heresy, for the
belief is awry. Though I think that to be one and always one, neither
mated nor mothering, be good for a private woman, for a prince it is not
meet. Therefore, say to my Lords and Commons that I am more concerned
for what shall chance to England when I am gone than to linger out my
living thread. I hope, my lords and gentlemen, to die with a good Nunc
Dimittis, which could not be if I did not give surety for the nation
after my graved bones. Ye shall hear soon--ye shall hear and be
satisfied, and so I give you to the care of Almighty God.”

Once more they knelt, and then slowly withdrew, with faces downcast and
troubled. They had secret knowledge which she did not yet possess, but
which at any moment she must know, and her ambiguous speech carried
no conviction to their minds. Yet their conference with her was most
opportune, for the news she must presently receive, brought by a
messenger from Scotland who had outstripped all others, would no doubt
move her to action which should set the minds of the people at rest, and
go far to stem the tide of conspiracy flowing through the kingdom.

Elizabeth stood watching them, and remained gazing after they had
disappeared; then rousing herself, she turned to leave the room, and
beckoned to Angele to follow.



CHAPTER XII

As twilight was giving place to night Angele was roused from the reverie
into which she had fallen, by the Duke’s Daughter, who whispered to
her that if she would have a pleasure given to but few, she would come
quickly. Taking her hand the Duke’s Daughter--as true and whimsical
a spirit as ever lived in troubled days and under the aegis of the
sword-led her swiftly to the Queen’s chamber. They did not enter, but
waited in a quiet gallery.

“The Queen is playing upon the virginals, and she playeth best when
alone; so stand you here by this tapestry, and you shall have pleasure
beyond payment,” said the Duke’s Daughter.

Angele had no thought that the Queen of her vanity had commanded that
she be placed there as though secretly, and she listened dutifully
at first; but presently her ears were ravished; and even the Duke’s
Daughter showed some surprise, for never had she heard the Queen play
with such grace and feeling. The countenance of the musician was towards
them, and at last, as though by accident, Elizabeth looked up and saw
the face of her lady.

“Spy, spy,” she cried. “Come hither--come hither, all of you!”

When they had descended and knelt to her, she made as if she would
punish the Duke’s Daughter by striking her with a scarf that lay at her
hand, but to Angele she said:

“How think you then, hath that other greater skill--Darnley’s wife I
mean?”

“Not she or any other hath so delighted me,” said Angele, with worship
in her eyes--so doth talent given to majesty become lifted beyond its
measure.

The Queen’s eyes lighted. “We shall have dancing, then,” she said. “The
dance hath charms for me. We shall not deny our youth. The heart shall
keep as young as the body.”

An instant later the room was full of dancers, and Elizabeth gave her
hand to Leicester, who bent every faculty to pleasing her. His face had
darkened as he had seen Angele beside her, but the Queen’s graciousness,
whether assumed or real, had returned, and her face carried a look of
triumph and spirit and delight. Again and again she glanced towards
Angele, and what she saw evidently gave her pleasure, for she laughed
and disported herself with grace and an agreeable temper, and Leicester
lent himself to her spirit with adroit wit and humility. He had seen his
mistake of the morning, and was now intent to restore himself to favour.

He succeeded well, for the emotions roused in Elizabeth during the day,
now heightened by vanity and emulation, found in him a centre upon
which they could converge; and, in her mind, Angele, for the nonce, was
disassociated from any thought of De la Foret. Leicester’s undoubted
gifts were well and cautiously directed, and his talent of assumed
passion--his heart was facile, and his gallantry knew no bounds--was
put to dexterous use, convincing for the moment. The Queen seemed all
complaisance again. Presently she had Angele brought to her.

“How doth her dance compare-she who hath wedded Darnley?”

“She danceth not so high nor disposedly, with no such joyous lightness
as your high Majesty, but yet she moveth with circumspection.”

“Circumspection--circumspection, that is no gift in dancing, which
should be wilful yet airily composed, thoughtless yet inducing.
Circumspection!--in nothing else hath Mary shown it where she should.
‘Tis like this Queen perversely to make a psalm of dancing, and then
pirouette with sacred duty. But you have spoken the truth, and I am well
content. So get you to your rest.”

She tapped Ange’le’s cheek. “You shall remain here to-night. ‘Tis too
late for you to be sent abroad.” She was about to dismiss her, when
there was a sudden stir. Cecil had entered and was making his way to the
Queen, followed by two strangers. Elizabeth waited their approach.

“Your gracious Majesty,” said Cecil, in a voice none heard save
Elizabeth, for all had fallen back at a wave of her hand, “the Queen of
Scots is the mother of a fair son.”

Elizabeth’s face flushed, then became pale, and she struck her knee
with her clinched hand. “Who bringeth the news?” she inquired in a sharp
voice.

“Sir Andrew Melvill here.”

“Who is with him yonder?”

“One who hath been attached to the Queen of Scots.”

“He hath the ill look of such an one,” she answered, and then said below
her breath bitterly: “She hath a son--and I am but a barren stock.”

Rising, she added hurriedly: “We will speak to the people at the May Day
sports to-morrow. Let there be great feasting.”

She motioned to Sir Andrew Melvill to come forward, and with a gesture
of welcome and a promise of speech with him on the morrow she dismissed
them.

Since the two strangers had entered, Angele’s eyes had been fastened on
the gentleman who accompanied Sir Andrew Melvill. Her first glance
at him had sent a chill through her, and she remained confused and
disturbed. In vain her memory strove to find where the man was set in
her past. The time, the place, the event eluded her, but a sense of
foreboding possessed her; and her eyes followed him with strained
anxiety as he retired from the presence.



CHAPTER XIII

As had been arranged when Lempriere challenged Leicester, they met soon
after dawn among the trees beside the Thames. A gentleman of the court,
to whom the Duke’s Daughter had previously presented Lempriere, gaily
agreed to act as second, and gallantly attended the lord of Rozel in his
adventurous enterprise. There were few at Court who had not some grudge
against Leicester, few who would not willingly have done duty at such a
time; for Leicester’s friends were of fair-weather sort, ready to defend
him, to support him, not for friendship but for the crumbs that dropped
from the table of his power. The favourite himself was attended by the
Earl of Ealing, a youngster who had his spurs to win, who thought it
policy to serve the great time-server. Two others also came.

It was a morning little made for deeds of rancour or of blood. As they
passed, the early morning mists above the green fields of Kent and Essex
were being melted by the summer sun. The smell of ripening fruit came on
them with pungent sweetness, their feet crashed odorously through clumps
of tiger-lilies, and the dew on the ribbon-grass shook glistening drops
upon their velvets. Overhead the carolling of the thrush came swimming
recklessly through the trees, and far over in the fields the ploughmen
started upon the heavy courses of their labour; while here and there
poachers with bows and arrows slid through the green undergrowth, like
spies hovering on an army’s flank.

To Lempriere the morning carried no impression save that life was well
worth living. No agitation passed across his nerves, no apprehension
reached his mind. He had no imagination; he loved the things that his
eyes saw because they filled him with enjoyment; but why they were,
or whence they came, or what they meant or boded, never gave him
meditation. A vast epicurean, a consummate egotist, ripe with feeling
and rich with energy, he could not believe that when he spoke the
heavens would not fall. The stinging sweetness of the morning was a
tonic to all his energies, an elation to his mind; he swaggered through
the lush grasses and boskage as though marching to a marriage.

Leicester, on his part, no more caught at the meaning of the morning, at
the long whisper of enlivened nature, than did his foe. The day gave to
him no more than was his right. If the day was not fine, then Leicester
was injured; but if the day was fine, then Leicester had his due. Moral
blindness made him blind for the million deep teachings trembling
round him. He felt only the garish and the splendid. So it was that at
Kenilworth, where his Queen had visited him, the fetes that he had held
would far outshine the fete which would take place in Greenwich Park on
this May Day. The fete of this May Day would take place, but would he
see it? The thought flashed through his mind that he might not; but he
trod it under foot; not through an inborn, primitive egotism like that
of Lempriere, but through an innate arrogance, an unalterable belief
that Fate was ever on his side. He had played so many tricks with Fate,
had mocked while taking its gifts so often, that, like the son who has
flouted his indulgent father through innumerable times, he conceived
that he should never be disinherited. It irked him that he should be
fighting with a farmer, as he termed the Seigneur of the Jersey Isle;
but there was in the event, too, a sense of relief, for he had a will
for murder. Yesterday’s events were still fresh in his mind; and he had
a feeling that the letting of Lempriere’s blood would cool his own and
be some cure for the choler which the presence of these strangers at the
Court had wrought in him.

There were better swordsmen in England than he, but his skill was
various, and he knew tricks of the trade which this primitive Norman
could never have learnt. He had some touch of wit, some biting
observation, and, as he neared the place of the encounter, he played
upon the coming event with a mordant frivolity. Not by nature a brave
man, he was so much a fatalist, such a worshipper of his star, that
he had acquired an artificial courage which had served him well. The
unschooled gentlemen with him roared with laughter at his sallies, and
they came to the place of meeting as though to a summer feast.

“Good-morrow, nobility,” said Leicester with courtesy overdone, and
bowing much too low. “Good-morrow, valentine,” answered Lempriere,
flushing slightly at the disguised insult, and rising to the moment.

“I hear the crop of fools is short this year in Jersey, and through no
fault of yours--you’ve done your best most loyally,” jeered Leicester,
as he doffed his doublet, his gentlemen laughing in derision.

“‘Tis true enough, my lord, and I have come to find new seed in England,
where are fools to spare; as I trust in Heaven one shall be spared on
this very day for planting yonder.”

He was eaten with rage, but he was cool and steady.

He was now in his linen and small clothes and looked like some untrained
Hercules.

“Well said, nobility,” laughed Leicester with an ugly look. “‘Tis seed
time--let us measure out the seed. On guard!”

Never were two men such opposites, never two so seemingly ill-matched.
Leicester’s dark face and its sardonic look, his lithe figure, the
nervous strength of his bearing, were in strong contrast to the bulking
breadth, the perspiring robustness of Lempriere of Rozel. It was not
easy of belief that Lempriere should be set to fight this toreador of a
fighting Court. But there they stood, Lempriere’s face with a great-eyed
gravity looming above his rotund figure like a moon above a purple
cloud. But huge and loose though the Seigneur’s motions seemed, he was
as intent as though there were but two beings in the universe, Leicester
and himself. A strange alertness seemed to be upon him, and, as
Leicester found when the swords crossed, he was quicker than his bulk
gave warrant. His perfect health made his vision sure; and, though not
a fine swordsman, he had done much fighting in his time, had been
ever ready for the touch of steel; and had served some warlike days
in fighting France, where fate had well befriended him. That which
Leicester meant should be by-play of a moment became a full half-hour’s
desperate game. Leicester found that the thrust--the fatal thrust
learned from an Italian master--he meant to give, was met by a swift
precision, responding to quick vision. Again and again he would have
brought the end, but Lempriere heavily foiled him. The wound which the
Seigneur got at last, meant to be mortal, was saved from that by the
facility of a quick apprehension. Indeed, for a time the issue had
seemed doubtful, for the endurance and persistence of the Seigneur made
for exasperation and recklessness in his antagonist, and once blood was
drawn from the wrist of the great man; but at length Lempriere went upon
the aggressive. Here he erred, for Leicester found the chance for which
he had manoeuvred--to use the feint and thrust got out of Italy. He
brought his enemy low, but only after a duel the like of which had never
been seen at the Court of England. The toreador had slain his bull at
last, but had done no justice to his reputation. Never did man more
gallantly sustain his honour with heaviest odds against him than did the
Seigneur of Rozel that day.

As he was carried away by the merry gentlemen of the Court, he called
back to the favourite:

“Leicester is not so great a swordsman after all. Hang fast to your
honours by the skin of your teeth, my lord.”



CHAPTER XIV

It was Monday, and the eyes of London and the Court were turned towards
Greenwich Park, where the Queen was to give entertainment to the French
Envoy who had come once more to urge upon the Queen marriage with a
son of the Medici, and to obtain an assurance that she would return to
France the widow of the great Montgomery and his valiant lieutenant,
Michel de la Foret. The river was covered with boats and barges,
festooned, canopied, and hung with banners and devices; and from
sunrise music and singing conducted down the stream the gaily dressed
populace--for those were the days when a man spent on his ruff and his
hose and his russet coat as much as would feed and house a family for a
year; when the fine-figured ruflier with sables about his neck, corked
slipper, trimmed buskin, and cloak of silk or damask furred, carried his
all upon his back.

Loud-voiced gallants came floating by; men of a hundred guilds bearing
devices pompously held on their way to the great pageant; country
bumpkins up from Surrey roystered and swore that there was but one
land that God had blessed, and challenged the grinning watermen from
Gravesend and Hampton Court to deny it; and the sun with ardour drove
from the sky every invading cloud, leaving Essex and Kent as far as eye
could see perfect green gardens of opulence.

Before Elizabeth had left her bed, London had emptied itself into
Greenwich Park. Thither the London Companies had come in their varied
dazzling accoutrements--hundreds armed in fine corselets bearing
the long Moorish pike; tall halberdiers in the unique armour called
Almainrivets, and gunners or muleteers equipped in shirts of mail with
morions or steel caps. Here too were to come the Gentlemen Pensioners,
resplendent in scarlet, to “run with the spear;” and hundreds of
men-at-arms were set at every point to give garish bravery to all.
Thousands of citizens, openmouthed, gazed down the long arenas of green
festooned with every sort of decoration and picturesque invention. Cages
of large birds from the Indies, fruits, corn, fishes, grapes, hung in
the trees, players perched in the branches discoursed sweet music, and
poets recited their verses from rustic bridges or on platforms with
weapons and armour hung trophy-wise on ragged staves. Upon a small lake
a dolphin four-and-twenty feet in length came swimming, within its belly
a lively orchestra; Italian tumblers swung from rope to bar; and crowds
gathered at the places where bear and bull-baiting were to excite the
none too fastidious tastes of the time.

All morning the gay delights went on, and at high noon the cry was
carried from mouth to mouth: “The Queen! The Queen!”

She appeared on a balcony surrounded by her lords and ladies, and there
received the diplomatists, speaking at length to the French Envoy in
a tone of lightness and elusive cheerfulness which he was at a loss
to understand and tried in vain to pierce by cogent remarks bearing
on matters of moment involved in his embassage. Not far away stood
Leicester, but the Queen had done no more than note his presence by
a glance, and now and again with ostentatious emphasis she spoke
to Angele, whom she had had brought to her in the morning before
chapel-going. Thus early, after a few questions and some scrutiny, she
had sent her in charge of a gentleman-at-arms and a maid of the Duke’s
Daughter to her father’s lodging, with orders to change her robe, to
return to the palace in good time before noon, and to bring her father
to a safe place where he could watch the pleasures of the people. When
Angele came to the presence again she saw that the Queen was wearing a
gown of pure white with the sleeves shot with black, such as she
herself had worn when admitted to audience yesterday. Vexed, agitated,
embittered as Elizabeth had been by the news brought to her the night
before, she had kept her wardrobers and seamstresses at work the whole
night to alter a white satin habit to the simplicity and style of that
which Angele had worn.

“What think you of my gown, my lady refugee?” she said to Angele at
last, as the Gentlemen Pensioners paraded in the space below, followed
by the Knights Tilters--at their head the Queen’s Champion, Sir Henry
Lee: twenty-five of the most gallant and favoured of the courtiers of
Elizabeth, including the gravest of her counsellors and the youngest
gallant who had won her smile, Master Christopher Hatton. Some of these
brave suitors, taken from the noblest families, had appeared in the
tilt-yard every anniversary of the year of her accession, and had
lifted their romantic office, which seemed but the service of enamoured
knights, into an almost solemn dignity.

The vast crowd disposed itself around the great improvised yard where
the Knights Tilters were to engage, and the Queen, followed by her
retinue, descended to the dais which had been set up near the palace.
Her white satin gown, roped with pearls only at the neck and breast,
glistened in the bright sun, and her fair hair took on a burnished
radiance. As Angele passed with her in the gorgeous procession, she
could not but view the scene with admiring eye, albeit her own sweet
sober attire, a pearly grey, seemed little in keeping; for the ladies
and lords were most richly attired, and the damask and satin cloaks,
crimson velvet gowns, silk hoods, and jewelled swords and daggers made a
brave show. She was like some moth in a whorl of butterflies.

Her face was pale, and her eye had a curious disturbed look, as though
they had seen frightening things. The events of last evening had tried
her simple spirit, and she shrank from this glittering show; but the
knowledge that her lover’s life was in danger, and that her happiness
was here and now at stake, held her bravely to her place, beset as it
was with peril; for the Queen, with that eccentricity which had lifted
her up yesterday, might cast her down to-day, and she had good reason
to fear the power and influence of Leicester, whom she knew with a sure
instinct was intent on Michel’s ruin. Behind all her nervous shrinking
and her heart’s doubt, the memory of the face of the stranger she had
seen last night with Sir Andrew Melvill tortured her. She could not find
the time and place where she had seen the eyes that, in the palace, had
filled her with mislike and abhorrence as they looked upon the Queen.
Again and again in her fitful sleep had she dreamt of him, and a sense
of foreboding was heavy upon her--she seemed to hear the footfall of
coming disaster. The anxiety of her soul lent an unnatural brightness to
her eyes; so that more than one enamoured courtier made essay to engage
her in conversation, and paid her deferential compliment when the
Queen’s eyes were not turned her way. Come to the dais, she was placed
not far from her Majesty, beside the Duke’s Daughter, whose whimsical
nature found frequent expression in what the Queen was wont to call “a
merry volt.” She seemed a privileged person, with whom none ventured to
take liberties, and against whom none was entitled to bear offence, for
her quips were free from malice, and her ingenuity in humour of mark.
She it was who had put into the Queen’s head that morning an idea which
was presently to startle Angele and all others.

Leicester was riding with the Knights Tilters, and as they cantered
lightly past the dais, trailing their spears in obeisance, Elizabeth
engaged herself in talk with Cecil, who was standing near, and appeared
not to see the favourite. This was the first time since he had mounted
to good fortune that she had not thrown him a favour to pick up with his
spear and wear in her honour, and he could scarce believe that she
had meant to neglect him. He half halted, but she only deigned an
inclination of the head, and he spurred his horse angrily on with a
muttered imprecation, yet, to all seeming, gallantly paying homage.

“There shall be doings ere this day is done. ‘Beware the Gipsy’!” said
the Duke’s Daughter in a low tone to Angele, and she laughed lightly.

“Who is the Gipsy?” asked Angele, with good suspicion, however.

“Who but Leicester,” answered the other. “Is he not black enough?”

“Why was he so called? Who put the name upon Who but the Earl of Sussex
as he died--as noble a chief, as true a counsellor as ever spoke truth
to a Queen. But truth is not all at Court, and Sussex was no flatterer.
Leicester bowed under the storm for a moment when Sussex showed him in
his true colours; but Sussex had no gift of intrigue, the tide turned,
and so he broke his heart, and died. But he left a message which I
sometimes remember with my collects. ‘I am now passing to another
world,’ said he, ‘and must leave you to your fortunes and to the Queen’s
grace and goodness; but beware the Gipsy, for he will be too hard for
all of you; you know not the beast so well as I do.’ But my Lord Sussex
was wrong. One there is who knows him through and through, and hath
little joy in the knowing.”

The look in the eyes of the Duke’s Daughter became like steel and her
voice hardened, and Angele realised that Leicester had in this beautiful
and delicate maid-of-honour as bitter an enemy as ever brought down
the mighty from their seats; that a pride had been sometime wounded,
suffered an unwarrantable affront, which only innocence could feel so
acutely. Her heart went out to the Duke’s Daughter as it had never
gone out to any of her sex since her mother’s death, and she showed her
admiration in her glance. The other saw it and smiled, slipping a hand
in hers for a moment; and then a look, half-debating, half-triumphant,
came into her face as her eyes followed Leicester down the green
stretches of the tilting-yard.

The trumpet sounded, the people broke out in shouts of delight, the
tilting began. For an hour the handsome joust went on, the Earl of
Oxford, Charles Howard, Sir Henry Lee, Sir Christopher Hatton, and
Leicester challenging, and so even was the combat that victory seemed to
settle in the plumes of neither, though Leicester of them all showed not
the greatest skill, while in some regards greatest grace and deportment.
Suddenly there rode into the lists, whence, no one seemed to know, so
intent had the public gaze been fixed, so quickly had he come, a mounted
figure all in white, and at the moment when Sir Henry Lee had cried
aloud his challenge for the last time. Silence fell as the bright figure
cantered down the list, lifted the gauge, and sat still upon his black
steed. Consternation fell. None among the people or the Knights Tilters
knew who the invader was, and Leicester called upon the Masters of the
Ceremonies to demand his name and quality. The white horseman made
no reply, but sat unmoved, while noise and turmoil suddenly sprang up
around him.

Presently the voice of the Queen was heard clearly ringing through the
lists. “His quality hath evidence. Set on.”

The Duke’s Daughter laughed, and whispered mischievously in Angele’s
ear.

The gentlemen of England fared ill that day in the sight of all the
people, for the challenger of the Knights Tilters was more than a match
for each that came upon him. He rode like a wild horseman of Yucatan.
Wary, resourceful, sudden in device and powerful in onset, he bore all
down, until the Queen cried: “There hath not been such skill in England
since my father rode these lists. Three of my best gentlemen down, and
it hath been but breathing to him. Now, Sir Harry Lee, it is thy turn,”
 she laughed as she saw the champion ride forward; “and next ‘tis thine,
Leicester. Ah, Leicester would have at him now!” she added sharply, as
she saw the favourite spur forward before the gallant Lee. “He is full
of choler--it becomes him, but it shall not be; bravery is not all. And
if he failed”--she smiled acidly--“he would get him home to Kenilworth
and show himself no more--if he failed, and the White Knight failed not!
What think you, dove?” she cried to the Duke’s Daughter. “Would he not
fall in the megrims for that England’s honour had been over thrown?
Leicester could not live if England’s honour should be toppled down like
our dear Chris Hatton and his gallants yonder.”

The Duke’s Daughter curtsied. “Methinks England’s honour is in little
peril--your Majesty knows well how to ‘fend it. No subject keeps it.”

“If I must ‘fend it, dove, then Leicester there must not fight to-day.
It shall surely be Sir Harry Lee. My Lord Leicester must have the place
of honour at the last,” she called aloud. Leicester swung his horse
round and galloped to the Queen.

“Your Majesty,” he cried in suppressed anger, “must I give place?”

“When all have failed and Leicester has won, then all yield place to
Leicester,” said the Queen drily. The look on his face was not good to
see, but he saluted gravely and rode away to watch the encounter between
the most gallant Knight Tilter in England and the stranger. Rage was in
his heart, and it blinded him to the certainty of his defeat, for he
was not expert in the lists. But by a sure instinct he had guessed the
identity of the White Horseman, and every nerve quivered with desire
to meet him in combat. Last night’s good work seemed to have gone for
naught. Elizabeth’s humour had changed; and to-day she seemed set on
humiliating him before the nobles who hated him, before the people who
had found in him the cause why the Queen had not married, so giving no
heir to the throne. Perturbed and charged with anger as he was, however,
the combat now forward soon chained his attention. Not in many a
year had there been seen in England such a display of skill and
determination. The veteran Knight Tilter, who knew that the result of
this business meant more than life to him, and that more than the honour
of his comrades was at stake--even the valour of England which had been
challenged--fought as he had never fought before, as no man had fought
in England for many a year. At first the people cried aloud their
encouragement; but as onset and attack after onset and attack showed
that two masters of their craft, two desperate men, had met, and that
the great sport had become a vital combat between their own champion and
the champion of another land--Spain, France, Denmark, Russia, Italy?--a
hush spread over the great space, and every eye was strained; men gazed
with bated breath.

The green turf was torn and mangled, the horses reeked with sweat and
foam, but overhead the soaring skylark sang, as it were, to express the
joyance of the day. During many minutes the only sound that broke
the stillness was the clash of armed men, the thud of hoofs, and the
snorting and the wild breathing of the chargers. The lark’s notes,
however, ringing out over the lists freed the tongue of the Queen’s
fool, who suddenly ran out into the lists, in his motley and cap and
bells, and in his high trilling voice sang a fool’s song to the fighting
twain:

       “Who would lie down and close his eyes
         While yet the lark sings o’er the dale?
        Who would to Love make no replies,
         Nor drink the nut-brown ale,
        While throbs the pulse, and full ‘s the purse
         And all the world ‘s for sale?”

Suddenly a cry of relief, of roaring excitement, burst from the people.
Both horsemen and their chargers were on the ground. The fight was over,
the fierce game at an end. That which all had feared, even the Queen
herself, as the fight fared on, had not come to pass--England’s champion
had not been beaten by the armed mystery, though the odds had seemed
against him.

       “Though wintry blasts may prove unkind,
         When winter’s past we do forget;
        Love’s breast in summer time is kind,
         And all ‘s well while life ‘s with us yet
          Hey, ho, now the lark is mating,
          Life’s sweet wages are in waiting!”

Thus sang the fool as the two warriors were helped to their feet.
Cumbered with their armour, and all dust-covered and blood-stained,
though not seriously hurt, they were helped to their horses, and rode to
the dais where the Queen sat.

“Ye have fought like men of old,” she said, “and neither had advantage
at the last. England’s champion still may cry his challenge and not be
forsworn, and he who challenged goeth in honour again from the lists.
You, sir, who have challenged, shall we not see your face or hear
your voice? For what country, for what prince lifted you the gauge and
challenged England’s honour?”

“I crave your high Majesty’s pardon”--Angele’s heart stood still. Her
love had not pierced his disguise, though Leicester’s hate had done
so on the instant--“I crave your noble Majesty’s grace,” answered the
stranger, “that I may still keep my face covered in humility. My voice
speaks for no country and for no prince. I have fought for mine own
honour, and to prove to England’s Queen that she hath a champion who
smiteth with strong arm, as on me and my steed this hath been seen
to-day.”

“Gallantly thought and well said,” answered Elizabeth; “but England’s
champion and his strong arm have no victory. If gifts were given they
must needs be cut in twain. But answer me, what is your country? I
will not have it that any man pick up the gauge of England for his own
honour. What is your country?

“I am an exile, your high Majesty; and the only land for which I
raise my sword this day is that land where I have found safety from my
enemies.”

The Queen turned and smiled at the Duke’s Daughter. “I knew not where
my own question might lead, but he hath turned it to full account,” she
said, under her breath. “His tongue is as ready as his spear. Then ye
have both laboured in England’s honour, and I drink to you both,” she
added, and raised to her lips a glass of wine which a page presented.
“I love ye both--in your high qualities,” she hastened to add with dry
irony, and her eye rested mockingly on Leicester.

“My lords and gentlemen and all of my kingdom,” she added in a clear
voice, insistent in its force, “ye have come upon May Day to take
delight of England in my gardens, and ye are welcome. Ye have seen such
a sight as doeth good to the eyes of brave men. It hath pleased me well,
and I am constrained to say to you what, for divers great reasons, I
have kept to my own counsels, labouring for your good. The day hath
come, however, the day and the hour when ye shall know that wherein I
propose to serve you as ye well deserve. It is my will--and now I see my
way to its good fulfilment--that I remain no longer in that virgin state
wherein I have ever lived.”

Great cheering here broke in, and for a time she could get no further.
Ever alive to the bent of the popular mind, she had chosen a perfect
occasion to take them into her confidence--however little or much she
would abide by her words, or intended the union of which she spoke. In
the past she had counselled with her great advisers, with Cecil and the
rest, and through them messages were borne to the people; but now
she spoke direct to them all, and it had its immediate reward--the
acclamations were as those with which she was greeted when she first
passed through the streets of London on inheriting the crown.

Well pleased, she continued: “This I will do with expedition and
weightiest judgment, for of little account though I am, he that
sits with the Queen of England in this realm must needs be a prince
indeed.... So be ye sure of this that ye shall have your heart-most
wishes, and there shall be one to come after me who will wear this crown
even as I have worn, in direct descent, my father’s crown. Our dearest
sister, the Queen of the Scots, hath been delivered of a fair son; and
in high affection the news thereof she hath sent me, with a palfry which
I shall ride among you in token of the love I bear her Majesty. She hath
in her time got an heir to the throne with which we are ever in kinship
and alliance, and I in my time shall give ye your heart’s desire.”

Angele, who had, with palpitating heart and swimming head, seen
Michel de la Foret leave the lists and disappear among the trees, as
mysteriously as he came, was scarce conscious of the cheers and riotous
delight that followed Elizabeth’s tactful if delusive speech to the
people. A few whispered words from the Duke’s Daughter had told her that
Michel had obeyed the Queen’s command in entering the lists and taking
up the challenge; and that she herself, carrying the royal message to
him and making arrangements for his accoutrement and mounting, had urged
him to obedience. She observed drily that he had needed little pressure,
and that his eyes had lighted at the prospect of the combat. Apart
from his innate love of fighting, he had realised that in the moment of
declining to enter the Queen’s service he had been at a disadvantage,
and that his courage was open to attack by the incredulous or malicious.
This would have mattered little were it not that he had been given
unusual importance as a prisoner by the Queen’s personal notice of
himself. He had, therefore, sprung to the acceptance, and sent his
humble duty to the Queen by her winsome messenger, who, with conspicuous
dramatic skill, had arranged secretly, with the help of a Gentleman
Pensioner and the Master of the Horse, his appearance and his exit.
That all succeeded as she had planned quickened her pulses, and made
her heart still warmer to Angele, who, now that all was over, and her
Huguenot lover had gone his mysterious ways, seemed lost in a troubled
reverie.

It was a troubled reverie indeed, for Angele’s eyes were on the stranger
who was present with Sir Andrew Melvill the night before. Her gaze upon
him now became fixed and insistent, for the sense of foreboding so heavy
on her deepened to a torturing suspense. Where had she seen this man
before? To what day or hour in her past did he belong? What was there in
his smooth, smiling, malicious face that made her blood run cold? As she
watched him, he turned his head. She followed his eyes. The horse which
Mary Queen of Scots had sent with the message of the birth of her son
was being led to the Queen by the dark browed, pale-faced churl who had
brought it from Scotland. She saw a sharp dark look pass between the
two.

Suddenly her sight swam, she swayed and would have fainted, but
resolution steadied her, and a low exclamation broke from her lips. Now
she knew!

The face that had eluded her was at last in the grasp of horrified
memory. It was the face of one who many years ago was known to have
poisoned the Due de Chambly by anointing the pommel of his saddle with
a delicate poison which the rider would touch, and touching would,
perhaps, carry to his nostrils or mouth as he rode, and die upon the
instant. She herself had seen the Due de Chambly fall; had seen this man
fly from Paris for his life; and had thereafter known of his return to
favour at the court of Mary and Francis, for nothing could be proved
against him. The memory flashed like lightning through her brain. She
moved swiftly forward despite the detaining hand of the Duke’s Daughter.
The Queen was already mounted, her hand already upon the pommel of the
saddle.

Elizabeth noted the look of anguished anxiety in Angele’s eyes, her
face like that of one who had seen souls in purgatory; and some swift
instinct, born of years upon years of peril in old days when her life
was no boon to her enemies, made her lean towards the girl, whose
quick whispered words were to her as loud as thunder. She was, however,
composed and still. Not a tremor passed through her.

“Your wish is granted, mistress,” she said aloud, then addressed a word
to Cecil at her side, who passed on her command. Presently she turned
slowly to the spot where Sir Andrew Melvill and the other sat upon
their horses. She scanned complacently the faces of both, then her eyes
settled steadily on the face of the murderer. Still gazing intently she
drew the back of her gloved fingers along the pommel. The man saw the
motion, unnoted and unsignificant to any other save Angele, meaningless
even to Melvill, the innocent and honest gentleman at his side; and he
realised that the Queen had had a warning. Noting the slight stir among
the gentlemen round him, he knew that his game was foiled, that there
was no escape. He was not prepared for what followed.

In a voice to be heard only at small distance, the Queen said calmly:

“This palfry sent me by my dear sister of Scotland shall bear me among
you, friends; and in days to come I will remember how she hath given
new life to me by her loving message. Sir Andrew Melvill, I shall have
further speech with you; and you, sir,”--speaking to the sinister figure
by his side--“come hither.”

The man dismounted, and with unsteady step came forward. Elizabeth held
out her gloved hand for him to kiss. His face turned white. It was come
soon, his punishment. None knew save Angele and the Queen the doom that
was upon him, if Angele’s warning was well-founded. He knelt, and bent
his head over her hand.

“Salute, sir,” she said in a low voice.

He touched his lips to her fingers. She pressed them swiftly against
his mouth. An instant, then he rose and stepped backwards to his horse.
Tremblingly, blindly, he mounted.

A moment passed, then Elizabeth rode on with her ladies behind her, her
gentlemen beside her. As she passed slowly, the would-be regicide swayed
and fell from his horse, and stirred no more.

Elizabeth rode on, her hand upon the pommel of the saddle. So she rode
for a full half-hour, and came back to her palace. But she raised
not her gloved right hand above the pommel, and she dismounted with
exceeding care.

That night the man who cared for the horse died secretly as had done his
master, with the Queen’s glove pressed to his nostrils by one whom Cecil
could trust. And the matter was hidden from the Court and the people;
for it was given out that Melvill’s friend had died of some heart
trouble.



CHAPTER XV

It seemed an unspeakable smallness in a man of such high place in the
State, whose hand had tied and untied myriad knots of political and
court intrigue, that he should stoop to a game which any pettifogging
hanger-on might play-and reap scorn in the playing. By insidious arts,
Leicester had in his day turned the Queen’s mind to his own will; had
foiled the diplomacy of the Spaniard, the German and the Gaul; had by
subterranean means checkmated the designs of the Medici; had traced his
way through plot and counter-plot, hated by most, loved by none save,
maybe, his Royal mistress to whom he was now more a custom than a
cherished friend. Year upon year he had built up his influence. None had
championed him save himself, and even from the consequences of rashness
and folly he had risen to a still higher place in the kingdom. But such
as Leicester are ever at last a sacrifice to the laborious means by
which they achieve their greatest ends-means contemptible and small.

To the great intriguers every little detail, every commonplace
insignificance is used--and must be used by them alone--to further their
dark causes. They cannot trust their projects to brave lieutenants, to
faithful subordinates. They cannot say, “Here is the end; this is the
work to be done; upon your shoulders be the burden!” They must “stoop to
conquer.” Every miserable detail becomes of moment, until by-and-by the
art of intrigue and conspiracy begins to lose proportion in their minds.
The detail has ever been so important, conspiracy so much second nature,
that they must needs be intriguing and conspiring when the occasion is
trifling and the end negligible.

To all intriguers life has lost romance; there is no poem left in
nature; no ideal, personal, public or national, detains them in its
wholesome influence; no great purpose allures them; they have no
causes for which to die--save themselves. They are so honeycombed with
insincerity and the vice of thought, that by-and-by all colours are as
one, all pathways the same; because, whichever hue of light breaks upon
their world they see it through the grey-cloaked mist of falsehood; and
whether the path be good or bad they would still walk in it crookedly.
How many men and women Leicester had tracked or lured to their doom;
over how many men and women he had stepped to his place of power,
history speaks not carefully; but the traces of his deeds run through a
thousand archives, and they suggest plentiful sacrifices to a subverted
character.

Favourite of a Queen, he must now stoop to set a trap for the ruin of
as simple a soul as ever stepped upon the soil of England; and his dark
purposes had not even the excuse of necessity on the one hand, of love
or passion on the other. An insane jealousy of the place the girl had
won in the consideration of the Queen, of her lover who, he thought, had
won a still higher place in the same influence, was his only motive
for action at first. His cruelty was not redeemed even by the sensuous
interest the girl might arouse in a reckless nature by her beauty and
her charm.

So the great Leicester--the Gipsy, as the dead Sussex had called
him--lay in wait in Greenwich Park for Angele to pass, like some orchard
thief in the blossoming trees. Knowing the path by which she would
come to her father’s cottage from the palace, he had placed himself
accordingly. He had thought he might have to wait long or come often for
the perfect opportunity; but it seemed as if Fate played his game for
him, and that once again the fruit he would pluck should fall into his
palm. Bright-eyed, and elated from a long talk with the Duke’s Daughter,
who had given her a message from the Queen, Angele had abstractedly
taken the wrong path in the wood. Leicester saw that it would lead her
into the maze some distance off. Making a detour, he met her at the
moment she discovered her mistake. The light from the royal word
her friend had brought was still in her face; but it was crossed by
perplexity now.

He stood still as though astonished at seeing her, a smile upon his
face. So perfectly did he play his part that she thought the meeting
accidental; and though in her heart she had a fear of the man and knew
how bitter an enemy he was of Michel’s, his urbane power, his skilful
diplomacy of courtesy had its way. These complicated lives, instinct
with contradiction, have the interest of forbidden knowledge. The dark
experiences of life leave their mark and give such natures that touch
of mystery which allures even those who have high instincts and true
feelings, as one peeps over a hidden depth and wonders what lies beyond
the dark. So Angele, suddenly arrested, was caught by the sense of
mystery in the man, by the fascination of finesse, of dark power; and
it was womanlike that all on an instant she should dream of the soul of
goodness in things evil.

Thus in life we are often surprised out of long years of prejudice, and
even of dislike and suspicion, by some fortuitous incident, which might
have chanced to two who had every impulse towards each other, not such
antagonisms as lay between Robert Dudley, Earl of Leicester, and this
Huguenot refugee. She had every cue to hate hum. Each moment of her life
in England had been beset with peril because of him-peril to the man she
loved, therefore peril to herself. And yet, so various is the nature of
woman, that, while steering straitly by one star, she levies upon the
light of other stars. Faithful and sincere, yet loving power, curious
and adventurous, she must needs, without intention, without purpose,
stray into perilous paths.

As Leicester stepped suddenly into Angele’s gaze, she was only, as
it were, conscious of a presence in itself alluring by virtue of the
history surrounding it. She was surprised out of an instinctive dislike,
and the cue she had to loathe him was for the moment lost.

Unconsciously, unintentionally, she smiled at him now, then, realising,
retreated, shrinking from him, her face averted. Man or woman had found
in Leicester the delicate and intrepid gamester, exquisite in the choice
of detail, masterful in the breadth of method. And now, as though his
whole future depended on this interview, he brought to bear a life-long
skill to influence her. He had determined to set the Queen against her.
He did not know--not even he--that she had saved the Queen’s life on
that auspicious May Day when Harry Lee had fought the white knight
Michel de la Foret and halved the honours of the lists with him. If
he had but known that the Queen had hid from him this fact--this vital
thing touching herself and England, he would have viewed his future
with a vaster distrust. But there could be no surer sign of Elizabeth’s
growing coldness and intended breach than that she had hid from him the
dreadful incident of the poisoned glove, and the swift execution of the
would-be murderer, and had made Cecil her only confidant. But he did
know that Elizabeth herself had commanded Michel de la Foret to the
lists; and his mad jealousy impelled him to resort to a satanic cunning
towards these two fugitives, who seemed to have mounted within a few
short days as far as had he in thrice as many years to a high place in
the regard of the Majesty of England.

To disgrace them both; to sow distrust of the girl in the Queen’s mind;
to make her seem the opposite of what she was; to drop in her own mind
suspicion of her lover; to drive her to some rash act, some challenge
of the Queen herself--that was his plan. He knew how little Elizabeth’s
imperious spirit would brook any challenge from this fearless girl
concerning De la Foret. But to convince her that the Queen favoured
Michel in some shadowed sense, that De la Foret was privy to a dark
compact--so deep a plot was all worthy of a larger end. He had well
inspired the Court of France through its ambassador to urge the Medici
to press actively and bitterly for De la Foret’s return to France and
to the beheading sword that waited for him; and his task had been made
light by international difficulties, which made the heart of Elizabeth’s
foreign policy friendship with France and an alliance against Philip
of Spain. She had, therefore, opened up, even in the past few days,
negotiations once again for the long-talked-of marriage with the Duke
of Anjou, the brother of the King, son of the Medici. State policy was
involved, and, if De la Foret might be a counter, the pledge of exchange
in the game, as it were, the path would once more be clear.

He well believed that Elizabeth’s notice of De la Foret was but a fancy
that would pass, as a hundred times before such fancies had come and
gone; but against that brighter prospect there lay the fact that never
before had she shown himself such indifference. In the past she had
raged against him, she had imprisoned him; she had driven him from
her presence in her anger, but always her paroxysms of rage had been
succeeded by paroxysms of tenderness. Now he saw a colder light in the
sky, a greyer horizon met his eye. So at every corner of the compass he
played for the breaking of the spell.

Yet as he now bowed low before Angele there seemed to show in his face
a very candour of surprise, of pleasure, joined to a something friendly
and protective in his glance and manner. His voice insinuated that
bygones should be bygones; it suggested that she had misunderstood him.
It pleaded against the injustice of her prejudice.

“So far from home!” he said with a smile.

“More miles from home,” she replied, thinking of never-returning days in
France, “than I shall ever count again.”

“But no, methinks the palace is within a whisper,” he responded.

“Lord Leicester knows well I am a prisoner; that I no longer abide in
the palace,” she answered.

He laughed lightly. “An imprisonment in a Queen’s friendship. I bethink
me, it is three hours since I saw you go to the palace. It is a few
worthless seconds since you have got your freedom.”

She nettled at his tone. “Lord Leicester takes great interest in my
unimportant goings and comings. I cannot think it is because I go and
come.”

He chose to misunderstand her meaning. Drawing closer he bent over her
shoulder. “Since your arrival here, my only diary is the tally of your
coming and going.” Suddenly, as though by an impulse of great frankness,
he added in a low tone:

“And is it strange that I should follow you--that I should worship grace
and virtue? Men call me this and that. You have no doubt been filled
with dark tales of my misdeeds. Has there been one in the Court, even
one, who, living by my bounty or my patronage, has said one good word
of me? And why? For long years the Queen, who, maybe, might have been
better counselled, chose me for her friend, adviser--because I was true
to her. I have lived for the Queen, and living for her have lived for
England. Could I keep--I ask you, could I keep myself blameless in the
midst of flattery, intrigue, and conspiracy? I admit that I have
played with fiery weapons in my day; and must needs still do so. The
incorruptible cannot exist in the corrupted air of this Court. You have
come here with the light of innocence and truth about you. At first I
could scarce believe that such goodness lived, hardly understood it. The
light half-blinded and embarrassed; but, at last, I saw! You of all this
Court have made me see what sort of life I might have lived. You have
made me dream the dreams of youth and high unsullied purpose once again.
Was it strange that in the dark pathways of the Court I watched your
footsteps come and go, carrying radiance with you? No--Leicester has
learned how sombre, sinister, has been his past, by a presence which
is the soul of beauty, of virtue, and of happy truth. Lady, my heart is
yours. I worship you.”

Overborne for the moment by the eager, searching eloquence of his words,
she had listened bewildered to him. Now she turned upon him with panting
breath and said:

“My lord, my lord, I will hear no more. You know I love Monsieur de
la Foret, for whose sake I am here in England--for whose sake I still
remain.”

“‘Tis a labour of love but ill requited,” he answered with suggestion in
his tone.

“What mean you, my lord?” she asked sharply, a kind of blind agony in
her voice; for she felt his meaning, and though she did not believe him,
and knew in her soul he slandered, there was a sting, for slander ever
scorches where it touches.

“Can you not see?” he said. “May Day--why did the Queen command him to
the lists? Why does she keep him here-in the palace? Why, against
the will of France, her ally, does she refuse to send him forth? Why,
unheeding the laughter of the Court, does she favour this unimportant
stranger, brave though he be? Why should she smile upon him?... Can you
not see, sweet lady?”

“You know well why the Queen detains him here,” she answered calmly now.
“In the Queen’s understanding with France, exiles who preach the
faith are free from extradition. You heard what the Queen required of
him--that on Trinity Day he should preach before her, and upon this
preaching should depend his safety.”

“Indeed, so her Majesty said with great humour,” replied Leicester. “So
indeed she said; but when we hide our faces a thin veil suffices. The
man is a soldier--a soldier born. Why should he turn priest now? I pray
you, think again. He was quick of wit; the Queen’s meaning was clear to
him; he rose with seeming innocence to the fly, and she landed him at
the first toss. But what is forward bodes no good to you, dear star of
heaven. I have known the Queen for half a lifetime. She has wild whims
and dangerous fancies, fills her hours of leisure with experiences--an
artist is the Queen. She means no good to you.”

She had made as if to leave him, though her eyes searched in vain for
the path which she should take; but she now broke in impatiently:

“Poor, unnoted though I am, the Queen of England is my friend,” she
answered. “What evil could she wish me? From me she has naught to fear.
I am not an atom in her world. Did she but lift her finger I am done.
But she knows that, humble though I be, I would serve her to my last
breath; because I know, my Lord Leicester, how many there are who serve
her foully, faithlessly; and there should be those by her who would
serve her singly.”

His eyes half closed, he beat his toe upon the ground. He frowned, as
though he had no wish to hurt her by words which he yet must speak. With
calculated thought he faltered.

“Yet do you not think it strange,” he said at last, “that Monsieur de la
Foret should be within the palace ever, and that you should be banished
from the palace? Have you never seen the fly and the spider in the web?
Do you not know that they who have the power to bless or ban, to give
joy or withhold it, appear to give when they mean to withhold? God bless
us all--how has your innocence involved your judgment!”

She suddenly flushed to the eyes. “I have wit enough,” she said acidly,
“to feel that truth which life’s experience may not have taught me.
It is neither age nor evil that teaches one to judge ‘twixt black and
white. God gives the true divination to human hearts that need.”

It was a contest in which Leicester revelled--simplicity and
single-mindedness against the multifarious and double-tongued. He had
made many efforts in his time to conquer argument and prejudice. When
he chose, none could be more insinuating or turn the flank of a proper
argument by more adroit suggestion. He used his power now.

“You think she means well by you? You think that she, who has a thousand
ladies of a kingdom at her call, of the best and most beautiful--and
even,” his voice softened, “though you are more beautiful than all, that
beauty would soften her towards you? When was it Elizabeth loved beauty?
When was it that her heart warmed towards those who would love or wed?
Did she not imprison me, even in these palace grounds, for one whole
year because I sought to marry? Has she not a hundred times sent from
her presence women with faces like flowers because they were in contrast
to her own? Do you see love blossoming at this Court? God’s Son! but
she would keep us all like babes in Eden an’ she could, unmated and
unloved.”

He drew quickly to her and leant over her, whispering down her shoulder.
“Do you think there is any reason why all at once she should change her
mind and cherish lovers?”

She looked up at him fearlessly and firmly.

“In truth, I do. My Lord Leicester, you have lived in the circle of
her good pleasure, near to her noble Majesty, as you say, for half a
lifetime. Have you not found a reason why now or any time she should
cherish love and lovers? Ah, no, you have seen her face, you have heard
her voice, but you have not known her heart!”

“Ah, opportunity lacked,” he said in irony and with a reminiscent
smile. “I have been busy with State affairs, I have not sat on cushions,
listening to royal fingers on the virginals. Still, I ask you, do you
think there is a reason why from her height she should stoop down to
rescue you or give you any joy? Wherefore should the Queen do aught to
serve you? Wherefore should she save your lover?”

It was on Angele’s lips to answer, “Because I saved her life on May
Day.” It was on her lips to tell of the poisoned glove, but she only
smiled, and said:

“But, yes, I think, my lord, there is a reason, and in that reason I
have faith.”

Leicester saw how firmly she was fixed in her idea, how rooted was her
trust in the Queen’s intentions towards her; and he guessed there was
something hidden which gave her such supreme confidence.

“If she means to save him, why does she not save him now? Why not end
the business in a day--not stretch it over these long mid-summer weeks?”

“I do not think it strange,” she answered. “He is a political prisoner.
Messages must come and go between England and France. Besides, who
calleth for haste? Is it I who have most at stake? It is not the first
time I have been at Court, my lord. In these high places things are
orderly,”--a touch of sarcasm came into her tone,--“life is not a mighty
rushing wind, save to those whom vexing passion drives to hasty deeds.”

She made to move on once more, but paused, still not certain of her way.

“Permit me to show you,” he said with a laugh and a gesture towards a
path. “Not that--this is the shorter. I will take you to a turning which
leads straight to your durance--and another which leads elsewhere.”

She could not say no, because she had, in very truth, lost her way, and
she might wander far and be in danger. Also, she had no fear of him.
Steeled to danger in the past, she was not timid; but, more than all,
the game of words between them had had its fascination. The man himself,
by virtue of what he was, had his fascination also. The thing inherent
in all her sex, to peep over the hedge, to skirt dangerous fires
lightly, to feel the warmth distantly and not be scorched--that was
in her, too; and she lived according to her race and the long
predisposition of the ages. Most women like her--as good as she--have
peeped and stretched out hands to the alluring fire and come safely
through, wiser and no better. But many, too, bewildered and confused
by what they see--as light from a mirror flashed into the eye half
blinds--have peeped over the hedge and, miscalculating their power
of self-control, have entered in, and returned no more into the quiet
garden of unstraying love.

Leicester quickly put on an air of gravity. “I warn you that danger lies
before you. If you cross the Queen--and you will cross the Queen
when you know the truth, as I know it--you will pay a heavy price for
refusing Leicester as your friend.”

She made a protesting motion and seemed about to speak, but suddenly,
with a passionate gesture, Leicester added: “Let them go their way.
Monsieur de la Foret will be tossed aside before another winter comes.
Do you think he can abide here in the midst of plot and intrigue, and
hated by the people of the Court? He is doomed. But more, he is unworthy
of you; while I can serve you well, and I can love you well.” She shrank
away from him. “No, do not turn from me, for in very truth, Leicester’s
heart has been pierced by the inevitable arrow. You think I mean you
evil?”

He paused with a sudden impulse continued: “No! no! And if there be a
saving grace in marriage, marriage it shall be, if you will but hear me.
You shall be my wife--Leicester’s wife. As I have mounted to power so
I will hold power with you--with you, the brightest spirit that ever
England saw. Worthy of a kingdom with you beside me, I shall win to
greater, happier days; and at Kenilworth, where kings and queens have
lodged, you shall be ruler. We will leave this Court until Elizabeth,
betrayed by those who know not how to serve her, shall send for me
again. Here--the power behind the throne--you and I will sway this realm
through the aging, sentimental Queen. Listen, and look at me in the
eyes--I speak the truth, you read my heart. You think I hated you and
hated De la Foret. By all the gods, it’s true I hated him, because I saw
that he would come between me and the Queen. A man must have one great
passion. Life itself must be a passion. Power was my passion--power,
not the Queen. You have broken all that down. I yield it all to you--for
your sake and my own. I would steal from life yet before my sun goes to
its setting a few years of truth and honesty and clear design. At
heart I am a patriot--a loyal Englishman. Your cause--the cause of
Protestantism--did I not fight for it at Rochelle? Have I not ever urged
the Queen to spend her revenue for your cause, to send her captains and
her men to fight for it?”

She raised her head in interest, and her lips murmured: “Yes, yes, I
know you did that.”

He saw his advantage and pursued it. “See, I will be honest with
you--honest, at last, as I have wished in vain to be, for honesty was
misunderstood. It is not so with you--you understand. Dear, light of
womanhood, I speak the truth now. I have been evil in my day I admit
it--evil because I was in the midst of evil. I betrayed because I was
betrayed; I slew, else I should have been slain. We have had dark days
in England, privy conspiracy and rebellion; and I have had to thread my
way through dreadful courses by a thousand blind paths. Would it be
no joy to you if I, through your influence, recast my life--remade
my policy, renewed my youth--pursuing principle where I have pursued
opportunity? Angele, come to Kenilworth with me. Leave De la Foret to
his fate. The way to happiness is with me. Will you come?”

He had made his great effort. As he spoke he almost himself believed
that he told the truth. Under the spell of his own emotional power
it seemed as though he meant to marry her, as though he could find
happiness in the union. He had almost persuaded himself to be what he
would have her to believe he might be.

Under the warmth and convincing force of his words her pulses had beat
faster, her heart had throbbed in her throat, her eyes had glistened;
but not with that light which they had shed for Michel de la Foret.
How different was this man’s wooing--its impetuous, audacious, tender
violence, with that quiet, powerful, almost sacred gravity of
her Camisard lover! It is this difference--the weighty, emotional
difference--between a desperate passion and a pure love which has ever
been so powerful in twisting the destinies of a moiety of the world to
misery, who otherwise would have stayed contented, inconspicuous and
good. Angele would have been more than human if she had not felt the
spell of the ablest intriguer, of the most fascinating diplomatist of
his day.

Before he spoke of marriage the thrill--the unconvincing thrill though
it was--of a perilous temptation was upon her; but the very thing most
meant to move her only made her shudder; for in her heart of hearts
she knew that he was ineradicably false. To be married to one
constitutionally untrue would be more terrible a fate for her than to be
linked to him in a lighter, more dissoluble a bond. So do the greatest
tricksters of this world overdo their part, so play the wrong card when
every past experience suggests it is the card to play. He knew by the
silence that followed his words, and the slow, steady look she gave him,
that she was not won nor on the way to the winning.

“My lord,” she said at last, and with a courage which steadied her
affrighted and perturbed innocence, “you are eloquent, you are fruitful
of flattery, of those things which have, I doubt not, served you well
in your day. But, if you see your way to a better life, it were well you
should choose one of nobler mould than I. I am not made for sacrifice,
to play the missioner and snatch brands from the burning. I have enough
to do to keep my own feet in the ribbon-path of right. You must
look elsewhere for that guardian influence which is to make of you a
paragon.”

“No, no,” he answered sharply, “you think the game not worth the
candle--you doubt me and what I can do for you; my sincerity, my power
you doubt.”

“Indeed, yes, I doubt both,” she answered gravely, “for you would have
me believe that I have power to lead you. With how small a mind you
credit me! You think, too, that you sway this kingdom; but I know that
you stand upon a cliff’s edge, and that the earth is fraying ‘neath your
tread. You dare to think that you have power to drag down with you the
man who honours me with--”

“With his love, you’d say. Yet he will leave you fretting out your soul
until the sharp-edged truth cuts your heart in twain. Have you no pride?
I care not what you say of me--say your worst, and I will not resent it,
for I will still prove that your way lies with me.”

She gave a bitter sigh, and touched her forehead with trembling fingers.
“If words could prove it, I had been convinced but now, for they are
well devised, and they have music too; but such a music, my lord, as
would drown the truth in the soul of a woman. Your words allure, but you
have learned the art of words. You yourself--oh, my lord, you who have
tasted all the pleasures of this world, could you then have the heart to
steal from one who has so little that little which gives her happiness?”

“You know not what can make you happy--I can teach you that. By God’s
Son! but you have wit and intellect and are a match for a prince, not
for a cast off Camisard. I shall ere long be Lord--Lieutenant of these
Isles-of England and Ireland. Come to my nest. We will fly far--ah, your
eye brightens, your heart leaps to mine--I feel it now, I--”

“Oh, have done, have done,” she passionately broke in; “I would rather
die, be torn upon the rack, burnt at the stake, than put my hand in
yours! And you do not wish it--you speak but to destroy, not to cherish.
While you speak to me I see all those”--she made a gesture as though to
put something from her “all those to whom you have spoken as you have
done to me. I hear the myriad falsehoods you have told--one whelming
confusion. I feel the blindness which has crept upon them--those poor
women--as you have sown the air with the dust of the passion which you
call love. Oh, you never knew what love meant, my lord! I doubt if, when
you lay in your mother’s arms, you turned to her with love. You never
did one kindly act for love, no generous thought was ever born in you by
love. Sir, I know it as though it were written in a book; your life has
been one long calculation--your sympathy or kindness a calculated thing.
Good-nature, emotion you may have had, but never the divine thing by
which the world is saved. Were there but one little place where that
Eden flower might bloom within your heart, you could not seek to ruin
that love which lives in mine and fills it, conquering all the lesser
part of me. I never knew of how much love I was capable until I heard
you speak today. Out of your life’s experience, out of all that you
have learned of women good and evil, you--for a selfish, miserable
purpose--would put the gyves upon my wrists, make me a pawn in your dark
game; a pawn which you would lose without a thought as the game went on.

“If you must fight, my lord, if you must ruin Monsieur de la Foret and
a poor Huguenot girl, do it by greater means than this. You have power,
you say. Use it then; destroy us, if you will. Send us to the Medici:
bring us to the block, murder us--that were no new thing to Lord
Leicester. But do not stoop to treachery and falsehood to thrust us
down. Oh, you have made me see the depths of shame to-day! But yet,”
 her voice suddenly changed, a note of plaintive force filled it--“I have
learned much this hour--more than I ever knew. Perhaps it is that we
come to knowledge only through fire and tears.” She smiled sadly. “I
suppose that sometime some day, this page of life would have scorched my
sight. Oh, my lord, what was there in me that you dared speak so to
me? Was there naught to have stayed your tongue and stemmed the tide in
which you would engulf me?” He had listened as in a dream at first. She
had read him as he might read himself, had revealed him with the certain
truth, as none other had done in all his days. He was silent for a long
moment, then raised his hand in protest.

“You have a strange idea of what makes offence and shame. I offered
you marriage,” he said complacently. “And when I come to think upon it,
after all that you have said, fair Huguenot, I see no cause for railing.
You call me this and that; to you I am a liar, a rogue, a cut-throat,
what you will; and yet, and yet, I will have my way--I will have my way
in the end.”

“You offered me marriage--and meant it not. Do I not know? Did you rely
so little on your compelling powers, my lord, that you must needs resort
to that bait? Do you think that you will have your way to-morrow if you
have failed to-day?”

With a quick change of tone and a cold, scornful laugh he rejoined: “Do
you intend to measure swords with me?”

“No, no, my lord,” she answered quietly; “what should one poor
unfriended girl do in contest with the Earl of Leicester? But yet, in
very truth, I have friends, and in my hour of greatest need I shall go
seeking.”

She was thinking of the Queen. He guessed her thought.

“You will not be so mad,” he said urbanely again. “Of what can you
complain to the Queen? Tut, tut, you must seek other friends than the
Majesty of England!”

“Then, my lord, I will,” she answered bravely. “I will seek the help of
such a Friend as fails not when all fails, even He who putteth down the
mighty from their seats and exalteth the humble.”

“Well, well, if I have not touched your heart,” he answered gallantly,
“I at least have touched your wit and intellect. Once more I offer you
alliance. Think well before you decline.”

He had no thought that he would succeed, but it was ever his way to
return to the charge. It had been the secret of his life’s success so
far. He had never taken a refusal. He had never believed that when man
or woman said no that no was meant; and, if it were meant, he still
believed that constant dropping would wear away the stone. He still held
that persistence was the greatest lever in the world, that unswerving
persistence was the master of opportunity.

They had now come to two paths in the park leading different ways.

“This road leads to Kenilworth, this to your prison,” he said with a
slow gesture, his eyes fixed upon hers. “I will go to my prison, then,”
 she said, stepping forward, “and alone, by your leave.”

Leicester was a good sportsman. Though he had been beaten all along the
line, he hid his deep chagrin, choked down the rage that was in him.
Smiling, he bowed low.

“I will do myself the honour to visit your prison to-morrow,” he said.

“My father will welcome you, my lord,” she answered, and, gathering up
her skirt, ran down the pathway.

He stood unmoving, and watched her disappear. “But I shall have my way
with them both,” he said aloud.

The voice of a singer sounded in the green wood. Half consciously
Leicester listened. The words came shrilling through the trees:

          “Oh, love, it is a lily flower,
          (Sing, my captain, sing, my lady!)
          The sword shall cleave it,
          Life shall leave it
          Who shall know the hour?
          (Sing, my lady, still!)”

Presently the jingling of bells mingled with the song, then a figure in
motley burst upon him. It was the Queen’s fool.

“Brother, well met--most happily met!” he cried. “And why well met,
fool?” asked Leicester. “Prithee, my work grows heavy, brother. I seek
another fool for the yoke. Here are my bells for you. I will keep my
cap. And so we will work together, fool: you for the morning, I for
the afternoon, and the devil take the night-time! So God be with you,
Obligato!”

With a laugh he leaped into the undergrowth, and left Leicester standing
with the bells in his hand.



CHAPTER XVI

Angele had come to know, as others in like case have ever done, how
wretched indeed is that poor man that hangs on princes’ favours. She had
saved the Queen’s life upon May Day, and on the evening of that day the
Queen had sent for her, had made such high and tender acknowledgment
of her debt as would seem to justify for her perpetual honour. And what
Elizabeth said she meant; but in a life set in forests of complications
and opposing interests the political overlapped the personal in her
nature. Thus it was that she had kept the princes of the world dangling,
advancing towards marriage with them, retreating suddenly, setting
off one house against the other, allying herself to one European power
to-day, with another to-morrow, her own person and her crown the pawn
with which she played. It was not a beautiful thing in a woman, but it
was what a woman could do; and, denied other powers given to men--as to
her father--she resorted to astute but doubtful devices to advance her
diplomacy. Over all was self-infatuation, the bane of princes, the curse
of greatness, the source of wide injustice. It was not to be expected,
as Leicester had said, that Elizabeth, save for the whim of the moment,
would turn aside to confer benefit upon Angele or to keep her in mind,
unless constrained to do so for some political reason.

The girl had charmed the Queen, had, by saving her life, made England
her long debtor; but Leicester had judged rightly in believing that the
Queen might find the debt irksome; that her gratitude would be corroded
by other destructive emotions. It was true that Angele had saved her
life, but Michel had charmed her eye. He had proved himself a more
gallant fighter than any in her kingdom; and had done it, as he had
said, in her honour. So, as her admiration for Michel grew, her debt to
Angele became burdensome; and, despite her will, there stole into her
mind the old petulance and smothered anger against beauty and love and
marriage. She could ill bear that one near her person should not be
content to flourish in the light and warmth of her own favour, setting
aside all other small affections. So it was that she had sent Angele to
her father and kept De la Foret in the palace. Perplexed, troubled by
new developments, the birth of a son to Mary Queen of Scots, the demand
of her Parliament that she should marry, the pressure of foreign policy
which compelled her to open up again negotiations for marriage with the
Duke of Anjou--all these combined to detach her from the interest
she had suddenly felt in Angele. But, by instinct, she knew also that
Leicester, through jealousy, had increased the complication; and,
fretful under the long influence he had had upon her, she steadily
lessened intercourse with him. The duel he fought with Lempriere on May
Day came to her ears through the Duke’s Daughter, and she seized upon it
with sharp petulance. First she ostentatiously gave housing and care
to Lempriere, and went to visit him; then, having refused Leicester
audience, wrote to him.

“What is this I hear,” she scrawled upon the paper, “that you have
forced a quarrel with the Lord of Rozel, and have well-ny ta’en his
life! Is swording then your dearest vice that you must urge it on a
harmless gentle man, and my visitor? Do you think you hold a charter
of freedom for your self-will? Have a care, Leicester, or, by God! you
shall know another sword surer than your own.”

The rage of Leicester on receiving this knew no bounds; for though he
had received from Elizabeth stormy letters before, none had had in it
the cold irony of this missive. The cause of it? Desperation seized
him. With a mad disloyalty he read in every word of Elizabeth’s letter,
Michel de la Foret, refugee. With madder fury he determined to strike
for the immediate ruin of De la Foret, and Angele with him--for had
she not thrice repulsed him as though he had been some village captain?
After the meeting in the maze he had kept his promise of visiting her
“prison.” By every art, and without avail, he had through patient days
sought to gain an influence over her; for he saw that if he could but
show the Queen that the girl was open to his advances, accepted his
protection, her ruin would be certain--in anger Elizabeth would take
revenge upon both refugees. But however much he succeeded with Monsieur
Aubert, he failed wholly with Angele. She repulsed him still with the
most certain courtesy, with the greatest outward composure; but she had
to make her fight alone, for the Queen forbade intercourse with Michel,
and she must have despaired but for the messages sent now and then by
the Duke’s Daughter.

Through M. Aubert, to whom Leicester was diligently courteous, and whom
he sought daily, discussing piously the question of religion so dear to
the old man’s heart, he strove to foster in Angele’s mind the suspicion
he had ventured at their meeting in the maze, that the Queen, through
personal interest in Michel, was saving his life to keep him in her
household. So well did he work on the old man’s feelings that when he
offered his own protection to M. Aubert and Angele, whatever the issue
with De la Foret might be, he was met with an almost tearful response of
gratitude. It was the moment to convey a deep distrust of De la Foret to
the mind of the old refugee, and it was subtly done.

Were it not better to leave the Court where only danger surrounded them,
and find safety on Leicester’s own estate, where no man living could
molest them? Were it not well to leave Michel de la Foret to his fate,
what ever it would be? Thrice within a week the Queen had sent for De
la Foret--what reason was there for that, unless the Queen had a secret
personal interest in him? Did M. Aubert think it was only a rare touch
of humour which had turned De la Foret into a preacher, and set his fate
upon a sermon to be preached before the Court? He himself had long held
high office, had been near to her Majesty, and he could speak with more
knowledge than he might use--it grieved him that Mademoiselle Aubert
should be placed in so painful a position.

Sometimes as the two talked Angele would join them; and then there was
a sudden silence, which made her flush with embarrassment, anxiety or
anger. In vain did she assume a cold composure, in vain school herself
to treat Leicester with a precise courtesy; in vain her heart protested
the goodness of De la Foret and high uprightness of the Queen; the
persistent suggestions of the dark Earl worked upon her mind in spite of
all. Why had the Queen forbidden her to meet Michel, or write to him,
or to receive letters from him? Why had the Queen, who had spoken such
gratitude, deserted her? And now even the Duke’s Daughter wrote to her
no more, sent her no further messages. She felt herself a prisoner, and
that the Queen had forgotten her debt. She took to wandering to that
part of the palace-grounds where she could see the windows of the tower
her lover inhabited. Her old habit of cheerful talk deserted her,
and she brooded. It was long before she heard of the duel between the
Seigneur and Lord Leicester--the Duke’s Daughter had kept this from her,
lest she should be unduly troubled--and when, in anxiety, she went to
the house where Lempriere had been quartered, he had gone, none could
tell her whither. Buonespoir was now in close confinement, by secret
orders of Leicester, and not allowed to walk abroad; and thus with no
friend save her father, now so much under the influence of the Earl, she
was bitterly solitary. Bravely she fought the growing care and suspicion
in her heart; but she was being tried beyond her strength. Her father
had urged her to make personal appeal to the Queen; and at times,
despite her better judgment, she was on the verge of doing so. Yet what
could she say? She could not go to the Queen of England and cry out,
like a silly milk-maid: “You have taken my lover--give him back to me!”
 What proof had she that the Queen wanted her lover? And if she spoke,
the impertinence of the suggestion might send back to the fierce Medici
that same lover, to lose his head.

Leicester, who now was playing the game as though it were a hazard for
states and kingdoms, read the increasing trouble in her face; and
waited confidently for the moment when in desperation she would lose her
self-control and go to the Queen.

But he did not reckon with the depth of the girl’s nature and her true
sense of life. Her brain told her that what she was tempted to do she
should not; that her only way was to wait; to trust that the Queen
of England was as much true woman as Queen, and as much Queen as
true woman; and that the one was held in high equipoise by the other.
Besides, Trinity Day would bring the end of it all, and that was not far
off. She steeled her will to wait till then, no matter how dark the sky
might be.

As time went on, Leicester became impatient. He had not been able
to induce M. Aubert to compel Angele to accept a quiet refuge at
Kenilworth; he saw that this plan would not work, and he deployed his
mind upon another. If he could but get Angele to seek De la Foret in
his apartment in the palace, and then bring the matter to Elizabeth’s
knowledge with sure proof, De la Foret’s doom would be sealed. At great
expense, however; for, in order to make the scheme effective, Angele
should visit De la Foret at night. This would mean the ruin of the girl
as well. Still that could be set right; because, once De la Foret was
sent to the Medici the girl’s character could be cleared; and, if not,
so much the surer would she come at last to his protection. What he had
professed in cold deliberation had become in some sense a fact. She had
roused in him an eager passion. He might even dare, when De la Foret was
gone, to confess his own action in the matter to the Queen, once she was
again within his influence. She had forgiven him more than that in the
past, when he had made his own mad devotion to herself excuse for his
rashness or misconduct.

He waited opportunity, he arranged all details carefully, he secured the
passive agents of his purpose; and when the right day came he acted.

About ten o’clock one night, a half-hour before the closing of the
palace gates, when no one could go in or go out save by permit of the
Lord Chamberlain, a footman from a surgeon of the palace came to Angele,
bearing a note which read:

   “Your friend is very ill, and asks for you. Come hither alone; and
   now, if you would come at all.”

Her father was confined to bed with some ailment of the hour, and
asleep--it were no good to awaken him. Her mind was at once made up.
There was no time to ask permission of the Queen. She knew the surgeon’s
messengers by sight, this one was in the usual livery, and his master’s
name was duly signed. In haste she made herself ready, and went forth
into the night with the messenger, her heart beating hard, a pitiful
anxiety shaking her. Her steps were fleet between the lodge and the
palace. They were challenged nowhere, and the surgeon’s servant,
entering a side door of the palace, led her hastily through gloomy halls
and passages where they met no one, though once in a dark corridor some
one brushed against her. She wondered why there were no servants to
show the way, why the footman carried no torch or candle; but haste and
urgency seemed due excuse, and she thought only of Michel, and that she
would soon see him-dying, dead perhaps before she could touch his hand!
At last they emerged into a lighter and larger hallway, where her guide
suddenly paused, and said to Angel, motioning towards a door: “Enter. He
is there.”

For a moment she stood still, scarce able to breathe, her heart hurt her
so. It seemed to her as though life itself was arrested. As the servant,
without further words, turned and left her, she knocked, opened the door
without awaiting a reply, and stepping into semidarkness, said softly:

“Michel! Michel!”



CHAPTER XVII

At Angle’s entrance a form slowly raised itself on a couch, and a voice,
not Michel’s, said: “Mademoiselle--by our Lady, ‘tis she!”

It was the voice of the Seigneur of Rozel, and Angle started back
amazed.

“You, Monsieur--you!” she gasped. “It was you that sent for me?”

“Send? Not I--I have not lost my manners yet. Rozel at Court is no
greater fool than Lempriere in Jersey.”

Angle wrung her hands. “I thought it De la Foret who was ill. The
surgeon said to come quickly.” Lempriere braced himself against the
wall, for he was weak, and his fever still high. “Ill?--not he. As sound
in body and soul as any man in England. That is a friend, that De la
Foret lover of yours, or I’m no butler to the Queen. He gets leave and
brings me here and coaxes me back to life again--with not a wink of
sleep for him these five days past till now.”

Angel had drawn nearer, and now stood beside the couch, trembling and
fearful, for it came to her mind that she had been made the victim of
some foul device. The letter had read: “Your friend is ill.” True, the
Seigneur was her friend, but he had not sent for her.

“Where is De la Foret?” she asked quickly. “Yonder, asleep,” said
the Seigneur, pointing to a curtain which divided the room from one
adjoining. Angel ran quickly towards the door, then stopped short. No,
she would not waken him. She would go back at once. She would leave the
palace by the way she came. Without a word she turned and went towards
the door opening into the hallway. With her hand upon the latch she
stopped short again; for she realised that she did not know her way
through the passages and corridors, and that she must make herself known
to the servants of the palace to obtain guidance and exit. As she stood
helpless and confused, the Seigneur called hoarsely: “De la Foret--De la
Foret!” Before Angele could decide upon her course, the curtain of the
other room was thrust aside, and De la Foret entered. He was scarce
awake, and he yawned contentedly. He did not see Angele, but turned
towards Lempriere. For once the Seigneur had a burst of inspiration. He
saw that Angele was in the shadow, and that De la Foret had not observed
her. He determined that the lovers should meet alone.

“Your arm, De la Foret,” he grunted.

“I’ll get me to the bed in yonder room--‘tis easier than this couch.”

“Two hours ago you could not bear the bed, and must get you to the
couch--and now! Seigneur, do you know the weight you are?” he added,
laughing, as he stooped, and helping Lempriere gently to his feet,
raised him slowly in his arms and went heavily with him to the bedroom.
Angele watched him with a strange thrill of timid admiration and
delight. Surely it could not be that Michel--her Michel--could be bought
from his allegiance by any influence on earth. There was the same old
simple laugh on his lips, as, with chaffing words, he carried the huge
Seigneur to the other room. Her heart acquitted him then and there of
all blame, past or to come.

“Michel!” she said aloud involuntarily--the call of her spirit which
spoke on her lips against her will.

De la Foret had helped Lempriere to the bed again as he heard his name
called, and he stood suddenly still, looking straight before him into
space. Angele’s voice seemed ghostly and unreal.

“Michel!” he heard again, and he came forward into the room where she
was. Yet once again she said the word scarcely above a whisper, for the
look of rapt wonder and apprehension in his manner overcame her. Now he
turned towards her, where she stood in the shadow by the door. He
saw her, but even yet he did not stir, for she seemed to him still an
apparition.

With a little cry she came forward to him. “Michel--help me!” she
murmured, and stretched out her hands. With a cry of joy he took her in
his arms and pressed her to his heart. Then a realisation of danger came
to him.

“Why did you come?” he asked.

She told him hastily. He heard with astonishment, and then said: “There
is some foul trick here. Have you the message?” She handed it to him.
“It is the surgeon’s writing, verily,” he said; “but it is still a
trick, for the sick man here is Rozel. I see it all. You and I forbidden
to meet--it was a trick to bring you here.”

“Oh, let me go!” she cried. “Michel, Michel, take me hence.” She turned
towards the door.

“The gates are closed,” he said, as a cannon boomed on the evening air.

Angele trembled violently. “Oh, what will come of this?” she cried, in
tearful despair.

“Be patient, sweet, and let me think,” he answered. At that moment there
came a knocking at the door, then it was thrown open, and there stepped
inside the Earl of Leicester, preceded by a page bearing a torch.

“Is Michel de la Foret within?” he called; then stopped short, as though
astonished, seeing Angele. “So! so!” he said, with a contemptuous laugh.
Michel de la Foret’s fingers twitched. He quickly stepped in front of
Angele, and answered: “What is your business here, my lord?”

Leicester languorously took off a glove, and seemed to stifle a yawn in
it; then said: “I came to take you into my service, to urge upon you
for your own sake to join my troops, going upon duty in the North; for I
fear that if you stay here the Queen Mother of France will have her
way. But I fear I am too late. A man who has sworn himself into service
d’amour has no time for service de la guerre.”

“I will gladly give an hour from any service I may follow to teach the
Earl of Leicester that he is less a swordsman than a trickster.”

Leicester flushed, but answered coolly: “I can understand your chagrin.
You should have locked your door. It is the safer custom.” He bowed
lightly towards Angele. “You have not learned our English habits
of discretion, Monsieur de la Foret. I would only do you service.
I appreciate your choler. I should be no less indignant. So, in the
circumstances, I will see that the gates are opened, of course you did
not realise the flight of time,--and I will take Mademoiselle to
her lodgings. You may rely on my discretion. I am wholly at your
service--tout a vous, as who should say in your charming language.”

The insolence was so veiled in perfect outward courtesy that it must
have seemed impossible for De la Foret to reply in terms equal to the
moment. He had, however, no need to reply, for the door of the room
suddenly opened, and two pages stepped inside with torches.

They were followed by a gentleman in scarlet and gold, who said, “The
Queen!” and stepped aside.

An instant afterwards Elizabeth, with the Duke’s Daughter, entered.

The three dropped upon their knees, and Elizabeth waved without the
pages and the gentleman-in-waiting. When the doors closed, the Queen
eyed the three kneeling figures, and as her glance fell on Leicester a
strange glitter came into her eyes. She motioned all to rise, and with a
hand upon the arm of the Duke’s Daughter, said to Leicester:

“What brings the Earl of Leicester here?”

“I came to urge upon Monsieur the wisdom of holding to the Sword and
leaving the Book to the butter-fingered religious. Your Majesty needs
good soldiers.”

He bowed, but not low, and it was clear he was bent upon a struggle.
He was confounded by the Queen’s presence, he could not guess why she
should have come; and that she was prepared for what she saw was clear.

“And brought an eloquent pleader with you?” She made a scornful gesture
towards Angele.

“Nay, your Majesty; the lady’s zeal outran my own, and crossed the
threshold first.”

The Queen’s face wore a look that Leicester had never seen on it before,
and he had observed it in many moods.

“You found the lady here, then?”

“With Monsieur alone. Seeing she was placed unfortunately, I offered to
escort her hence to her father. But your Majesty came upon the moment.”

There was a ring of triumph in Leicester’s voice. No doubt, by some
chance, the Queen had become aware of Angele’s presence, he thought.
Fate had forestalled the letter he had already written on this matter
and meant to send her within the hour. Chance had played into his hands
with perfect suavity. The Queen, less woman now than Queen, enraged
by the information got he knew not how, had come at once to punish the
gross breach of her orders and a dark misconduct-so he thought.

The Queen’s look, as she turned it on Angele, apparently had in it what
must have struck terror to even a braver soul than that of the helpless
Huguenot girl.

“So it is thus you spend the hours of night? God’s faith, but you are
young to be so wanton!” she cried in a sharp voice. “Get you from my
sight and out of my kingdom as fast as horse and ship may carry you--as
feet may bear you.” Leicester’s face lighted to hear. “Your high
Majesty,” pleaded the girl, dropping on her knees, “I am innocent. As
God lives, I am innocent.”

“The man, then, only is guilty?” the Queen rejoined with scorn. “Is
it innocent to be here at night, my palace gates shut, with your
lover-alone?” Leicester laughed at the words.

“Your Majesty, oh, your gracious Majesty, hear me. We were not
alone--not alone--”

There was a rustle of curtains, a heavy footstep, and Lempriere of Rozel
staggered into the room. De la Foret ran to help him, and throwing
an arm around him, almost carried him towards the couch. Lempriere,
however, slipped from De la Foret’s grasp to his knees on the floor
before the Queen.

“Not alone, your high and sacred Majesty, I am here--I have been here
through all. I was here when Mademoiselle came, brought hither by trick
of some knave not fit to be your immortal Majesty’s subject. I speak the
truth, for I am butler to your Majesty and no liar. I am Lempriere of
Rozel.”

No man’s self-control could meet such a surprise without wavering.
Leicester was confounded, for he had not known that Lempriere was housed
with De la Foret. For a moment he could do naught but gaze at Lempriere.
Then, as the Seigneur suddenly swayed and would have fallen, the
instinct of effective courtesy, strong in him, sent him with arms
outstretched to lift him up. Together, without a word, he and De la
Foret carried him to the couch and laid him down. That single act saved
Leicester’s life. There was something so naturally (though, in truth,
it was so hypocritically) kind in the way he sprang to his enemy’s
assistance that an old spirit of fondness stirred in the Queen’s breast,
and she looked strangely at him. When, however, they had disposed of
Lempriere and Leicester had turned again towards her, she said: “Did you
think I had no loyal and true gentlemen at my Court, my lord? Did you
think my leech would not serve me as fair as he would serve the Earl of
Leicester? You have not bought us all, Robert Dudley, who have bought
and sold so long. The good leech did your bidding and sent your note
to the lady; but there your bad play ended and Fate’s began. A rabbit’s
brains, Leicester--and a rabbit’s end. Fate has the brains you need.”

Leicester’s anger burst forth now under the lash of ridicule. “I cannot
hope to win when your Majesty plays Fate in caricature.”

With a little gasp of rage Elizabeth leaned over and slapped his face
with her long glove. “Death of my life, but I who made you do unmake
you!” she cried.

He dropped his hand on his sword. “If you were but a man, and not--” he
said, then stopped short, for there was that in the Queen’s face which
changed his purpose. Anger was shaking her, but there were tears in her
eyes. The woman in her was stronger than the Queen. It was nothing to
her at this moment that she might have his life as easily as she had
struck his face with her glove; this man had once shown the better part
of himself to her, and the memory of it shamed her for his own sake now.
She made a step towards the door, then turned and spoke:

“My Lord, I have no palace and no ground wherein your footstep will not
be trespass. Pray you, remember.”

She turned towards Lempriere, who lay on his couch faint and panting.
“For you, my Lord of Rozel, I wish you better health, though you have
lost it somewhat in a good cause.”

Her glance fell on De la Foret. Her look softened. “I will hear you
preach next Sunday, sir.”

There was an instant’s pause, and then she said to Angele, with gracious
look and in a low voice: “You have heard from me that calumny which the
innocent never escape. To try you I neglected you these many days; to
see your nature even more truly than I knew it, I accused you but now.
You might have been challenged first by one who could do you more harm
than Elizabeth of England, whose office is to do good, not evil. Nets
are spread for those whose hearts are simple, and your feet have been
caught. Be thankful that we understand; and know that Elizabeth is your
loving friend. You have had trials--I have kept you in suspense--there
has been trouble for us all; but we are better now; our minds are more
content; so all may be well, please God! You will rest this night with
our lady-dove here, and to-morrow early you shall return in peace to
your father. You have a good friend in our cousin.” She made a gentle
motion towards the Duke’s Daughter. “She has proved it so. In my leech
she has a slave. To her you owe this help in time of need. She hath
wisdom, too, and we must listen to her, even as I have done this day.”

She inclined her head towards the door. Leicester opened it, and as she
passed out she gave him one look which told him that his game was lost,
if not for ever, yet for time uncertain and remote. “You must not blame
the leech, my lord,” she said, suddenly turning back. “The Queen of
England has first claim on the duty of her subjects. They serve me for
love; you they help at need as time-servers.”

She stepped on, then paused again and looked back. “Also I forbid
fighting betwixt you,” she said, in a loud voice, looking at De la Foret
and Leicester.

Without further sign or look, she moved on. Close behind came Angele and
the Duke’s Daughter, and Leicester followed at some distance.



CHAPTER XVIII

Not far from the palace, in a secluded place hidden by laburnum, roses,
box and rhododendrons, there was a quaint and beautiful retreat. High
up on all sides of a circle of green the flowering trees and shrubs
interlaced their branches, and the grass, as smooth as velvet, was of
such a note as soothed the eye and quieted the senses. In one segment
of the verdant circle was a sort of open bower made of poles, up which
roses climbed and hung across in gay festoons; and in two other segments
mossy banks made resting-places. Here, in days gone by, when Robert
Dudley, Earl of Leicester, first drew the eyes of his Queen upon him,
Elizabeth came to listen to his vows of allegiance, which swam in floods
of passionate devotion to her person. Christopher Hatton, Sir Henry Lee,
the Duke of Norfolk, the Earl of Sussex, a race of gallants, had knelt
upon this pleasant sward. Here they had declared a devotion that,
historically platonic, had a personal passion which, if rewarded by no
personal requital, must have been an expensive outlay of patience and
emotion.

But those days had gone. Robert Dudley had advanced far past his
fellows, had locked himself into the chamber of the Queen’s confidence,
had for long proved himself necessary to her, had mingled deference and
admiration with an air of monopoly, and had then advanced to an air of
possession, of suggested control. Then had begun his decline. England
and England’s Queen could have but one ruler, and upon an occasion in
the past Elizabeth made it clear by the words she used: “God’s death, my
Lord, I have wished you well; but my favour is not so locked up for you
that others shall not partake thereof; and, if you think to rule here,
I will take a course to see you forthcoming. I will have here but one
mistress and no master.”

In these words she but declared what was the practice of her life, the
persistent passion of her rule. The world could have but one sun, and
every man or woman who sought its warmth must be a sun-worshipper. There
could be no divided faith, no luminaries in the sky save those which
lived by borrowed radiance.

Here in this bright theatre of green and roses poets had sung the
praises of this Queen to her unblushing and approving face; here ladies
thrice as beautiful as she had begged her to tell them the secret of
her beauty, so much greater than that of any living woman; and she was
pleased even when she knew they flattered but to gain her smile--it was
the tribute that power exacts. The place was a cenotaph of past romance
and pleasure. Every leaf of every tree and flower had impressions of
glories, of love, ambition and intrigue, of tears and laughter, of
joyousness and ruin. Never a spot in England where so much had been said
and done, so far reaching in effect and influence. But its glory was
departed, its day was done, it was a place of dreams and memories: the
Queen came here no more. Many years had withered since she had entered
this charmed spot; and that it remained so fine was but evidence of the
care of those to whom she had given strict orders seven years past, that
in and out of season it must be ever kept as it had erstwhile been. She
had never entered the place since the day the young Marquis of Wessex,
whom she had imprisoned for marrying secretly and without her consent,
on his release came here, and, with a concentrated bitterness and hate,
had told her such truths as she never had heard from man or woman since
she was born. He had impeached her in such cold and murderous terms as
must have made wince even a woman with no pride. To Elizabeth it was
gall and wormwood. When he at last demanded the life of the young wife
who had died in enforced seclusion, because she had married the man
she loved, Elizabeth was so confounded that she hastily left the place,
saying no word in response. This attack had been so violent, so deadly,
that she had seemed unnerved, and forbore to command him to the Tower or
to death.

“You, in whose breast love never stirred, deny the right to others whom
God blessed with it,” he cried. “Envious of mortal happiness that dare
exist outside your will or gift, you sunder and destroy. You, in whose
hands was power to give joy, gave death. What you have sown you shall
reap. Here on this spot I charge you with high treason, with treachery
to the people over whom you have power as a trust, which trust you have
made a scourge.”

With such words as these he had assailed her, and for the first time in
her life she had been confounded. In safety he had left the place, and
taken his way to Italy, from which he had never returned, though she
had sent for him in kindness. Since that day Elizabeth had never come
hither; and by-and-by none of her Court came save the Duke’s Daughter,
and her fool, who both made it their resort. Here the fool came upon the
Friday before Trinity Day, bringing with him Lempriere and Buonespoir,
to whom he had much attached himself.

It was a day of light and warmth, and the place was like a basket of
roses. Having seen the two serving-men dispose, in a convenient place,
the refreshment which Lempriere’s appetite compelled, the fool took
command of the occasion and made the two sit upon a bank, while he
prepared the repast.

Strangest of the notable trio was the dwarfish fool with his shaggy
black head, twisted mouth, and watchful, wandering eye, whose
foolishness was but the flaunting cover of shrewd observation and
trenchant vision. Going where he would, and saying what he listed,
now in the Queen’s inner chamber, then in the midst of the Council,
unconsidered, and the butt of all, he paid for his bed and bounty by
shooting shafts of foolery which as often made his listeners shrink
as caused their laughter. The Queen he called Delicio, and Leicester,
Obligato--as one who piped to another’s dance. He had taken to
Buonespoir at the first glance, and had frequented him, and Lempriere
had presently been added to his favour. He had again and again been
messenger between them, as also of late between Angele and Michel, whose
case he viewed from a stand-point of great cheerfulness, and treated
them as children playing on the sands--as, indeed, he did the Queen and
all near to her. But Buonespoir, the pirate, was to him reality and the
actual, and he called him Bono Publico. At first Lempriere, ever
jealous of his importance, was inclined to treat him with elephantine
condescension; but he could not long hold out against the boon archness
of the jester, and he collapsed suddenly into as close a friendship as
that between himself and Buonespoir.

A rollicking spirt was his own fullest stock-in-trade, and it won him
like a brother.

So it was that here, in the very bosom of the forest, lured by the pipe
the fool played, Lempriere burst forth into song, in one hand a bottle
of canary, in the other a handful of comfits:

          “Duke William was a Norman
          (Spread the sail to the breeze!)
          That did to England ride;
          At Hastings by the Channel
          (Drink the wine to the lees!)
          Our Harold the Saxon died.
          If there be no cakes from Normandy,
          There’ll be more ale in England!”

“Well sung, nobility, and well said,” cried Buonespoir, with a rose by
the stem in his mouth, one hand beating time to the music, the other
clutching a flagon of muscadella; “for the Normans are kings in England,
and there’s drink in plenty at the Court of our Lady Duchess.”

“Delicio shall never want while I have a penny of hers to spend,” quoth
the fool, feeling for another tune. “Should conspirators prevail, and
the damnedest be, she hath yet the Manor of Rozel and my larder,” urged
Lempriere, with a splutter through the canary.

“That shall be only when the Fifth wind comes--it is so ordained,
Nuncio!” said the fool blinking. Buonespoir set down his flagon. “And
what wind is the Fifth wind?” he asked, scratching his bullethead, his
child-like, widespread eyes smiling the question.

“There be now four winds--the North wind and his sisters, the East, the
West, and South. When God sends a Fifth wind, then conspirators shall
wear crowns. Till then Delicio shall sow and I shall reap, as is
Heaven’s will.”

Lempriere lay back and roared with laughter. “Before Belial, there never
was such another as thou, fool. Conspirators shall die and not prevail,
for a man may not marry his sister, and the North wind shall have no
progeny. So there shall be no Fifth wind.”

“Proved, proved,” cried the fool. “The North wind shall go whistle for a
mate--there shall be no Fifth wind. So, Delicio shall still sail by the
compass, and shall still compass all, and yet be compassed by none; for
it is written, Who compasseth Delicio existeth not.”

Buonespoir watched a lark soaring, as though its flight might lead
him through the fool’s argument clearly. Lempriere closed his eye, and
struggled with it, his lips outpursed, his head sunk on his breast.
Suddenly his eyes opened, he brought the bottle of canary down with
a thud on the turf. “‘Fore Michael and all angels, I have it, fool;
I travel, I conceive. De Carteret of St. Ouen’s must have gone to the
block ere conceiving so. I must conceive thus of the argument. He who
compasseth the Queen existeth not, for compassing, he dieth.”

“So it is by the hour-glass and the fortune told in the porringer. You
have conceived like a man, Nuncio.”

“And conspirators, I conceive, must die, so long as there be honest men
to slay them,” rejoined the Seigneur.

“Must only honest men slay conspirators? Oh, Shadrach, Meshach, and
Abednego!” wheezed Buonespoir with a grin. He placed his hand upon
his head in self-pity. “Buonespoir, art thou damned by muscadella?” he
murmured.

“But thou art purged of the past, Bono Publico,” answered the fool.
“Since Delicio hath looked upon thee she hath shredded the Tyburn lien
upon thee--thou art flushed like a mountain spring; and conspirators
shall fall down by thee if thou, passant, dost fall by conspirators
in the way. Bono Publico, thou shalt live by good company. Henceforth
contraband shall be spurned and the book of grace opened.”

Buonespoir’s eyes laughed like a summer sky, but he scratched his head
and turned over the rose-stem in his mouth reflectively. “So be it,
then, if it must be; but yesterday the Devon sea-sweeper, Francis Drake,
overhauled me in my cottage, coming from the Queen, who had infused
him of me. ‘I have heard of you from a high masthead,’ said he. ‘If the
Spanish main allure you, come with me. There be galleons yonder still;
they shall cough up doubloons.’ ‘It hath a sound of piracy,’ said I.
‘I am expurgated. My name is written on clean paper now, blessed be the
name of the Queen!’ ‘Tut, tut, Buonesperado,’ laughed he, ‘you shall
forget that Tyburn is not a fable if you care to have doubloons reminted
at the Queen’s mint. It is meet Spanish Philip’s head be molted to
oblivion, and Elizabeth’s raised, so that good silver be purged of
Popish alloy.’ But that I had sworn by the little finger of St. Peter
when the moon was full, never to leave the English seas, I also would
have gone with Drake of Devon this day. It is a man and a master of men
that Drake of Devon.”

“‘Tis said that when a man hath naught left but life, and hath treated
his honour like a poor relation, he goes to the Spanish main with Drake
and Grenville,” said Lempriere.

“Then must Obligato go, for he hath such credentials,” said the fool,
blowing thistle-down in the air. “Yesterday was no Palm Sunday to
Leicester. Delicio’s head was high. ‘Imperial Majesty,’ quoth Obligato,
his knees upon the rushes, ‘take my life but send me not forth into
darkness where I shall see my Queen no more. By the light of my Queen’s
eyes have I walked, and pains of hell are my Queen’s displeasure.’
‘Methinks thy humbleness is tardy,’ quoth Delicio. ‘No cock shall crow
by my nest,’ said she. ‘And, by the mantle of Elijah, I am out with sour
faces and men of phlegm and rheum. I will be gay once more. So get thee
gone to Kenilworth, and stray not from it on thy peril. Take thy malaise
with thee, and I shall laugh again.’ Behold he goeth. So that was the
end of Obligato, and now cometh another tune.”

“She hath good cheer?” asked Lempriere eagerly. “I have never seen
Delicio smile these seven years as she smiled to-day; and when she
kissed Amicitia I sent for my confessor and made my will. Delicio hath
come to spring-time, and the voice of the turtle is in her ear.”

“Amicitia--and who is Amicitia?” asked Lempriere, well flushed with
wine.

“She who hath brought Obligato to the diminuendo and finale,” answered
the fool; “even she who hath befriended the Huguenottine of the black
eyes.”

“Ah, she, the Duke’s Daughter--v’la, that is a flower of a lady! Did
she not say that my jerkin fitted neatly when I did act as butler to her
adorable Majesty three months syne? She hath no mate in the world save
Mademoiselle Aubert, whom I brought hither to honour and to fame.”

“To honour and fame, was it--but by the hill of desperandum, Nuncio,”
 said the fool, prodding him with his stick of bells.

“‘Desperandum’! I know not Latin; it amazes me,” said Lempriere, waving
a lofty hand.

“She--the Huguenottine--was a-mazed also, and from the maze was played
by Obligato.”

“How so! how so!” cried the Seigneur, catching at his meaning. “Did
Leicester waylay and siege? ‘Sblood, had I known this, I’d have broached
him and swallowed him even on crutches.”

“She made him raise the siege, she turned his own guns upon him, and in
the end hath driven him hence.” By rough questioning Lempriere got from
the fool by snatches the story of the meeting in the maze, which had
left Leicester standing with the jester’s ribboned bells in his hand.
Then the Seigneur got to his feet, and hugged the fool, bubbling with
laughter.

“By all the blood of all the saints, I will give thee burial in my
own grave when all’s done,” he spluttered; “for there never was such
fooling, never such a wise fool come since Confucius and the Khan. Good
be with you, fool, and thanks be for such a lady. Thanks be also for the
Duke’s Daughter. Ah, how she laid Leicester out! She washed him up the
shore like behemoth, and left him gaping.”

Buonespoir intervened. “And what shall come of it? What shall be the
end? The Honeyflower lies at anchor--there be three good men in waiting,
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and--”

The Seigneur interrupted. “There’s little longer waiting. All’s well!
Her high hereditary Majesty smiled on me when she gave Leicester conge
and fiery quittance. She hath me in favour, and all shall be well with
Michel and Angele. O fool, fool, fantastic and flavoured fool, sing me
a song of good content, for if this business ends not with crescendo and
bell-ringing, I am no butler to the Queen nor keep good company!”

Seating themselves upon the mossy bank, their backs to the westward sun,
the fool peered into the green shadows and sang with a soft melancholy
an ancient song that another fool had sung to the first Tudor:

          “When blows the wind and drives the sleet,
          And all the trees droop down;
          When all the world is sad,
          ‘tis meet Good company be known:
          And in my heart good company
          Sits by the fire and sings to me.

          “When warriors return, and one
          That went returns no more;
          When dusty is the road we run,
          And garners have no store;
          One ingle-nook right warm shall be
          Where my heart hath good company.

          “When man shall flee and woman fail,
          And folly mock and hope deceive,
          Let cowards beat the breast and wail,
          I’ll homeward hie; I will not grieve:
          I’ll draw the blind, I’ll there set free
          My heart’s beloved boon company.

          “When kings shall favour, ladies call
          My service to their side;
          When roses grow upon the wall
          Of life, with love inside;
          I’ll get me home with joy to be
          In my heart’s own good company!”

“Oh, fool, oh, beneficent fool, well done! ‘Tis a song for a
man--‘twould shame De Carteret of St. Ouen’s to his knees,” cried
Lempriere.

“Oh, benignant fool, well done! ‘twould draw me from my meals,” said a
voice behind the three; and, turning hastily about, they saw, smiling
and applausive, the Duke’s Daughter. Beside her was Angele.

The three got to their feet, and each made obeisance after his
kind-Buonespoir ducking awkwardly, his blue eyes bulging with pleasure,
Lempriere swelling with vanity and spreading wide acknowledgment of
their presence, the fool condescending a wave of welcome. “Oh! abundant
Amicitia!” cried the fool to the Duke’s Daughter, “thou art saved by so
doing. So get thee to thanksgiving and God’s mercy.”

“Wherefore am I saved by being drawn from my meals by thy music, fool?”
 she asked, linking her arm in Angele’s.

“Because thou art more enamoured of lampreys than of man; and it is
written that thou shalt love thy fellow man, and he that loveth not is
lost: therefore thou art lost if thou lingerest at meals.”

“Is it so, then? And this lady--what thinkest thou? Must she also
abstain and seek good company?”

“No, verily, Amicitia, for she is good company itself, and so she may
sleep in the larder and have no fear.”

“And what think you--shall she be happy? Shall she have gifts of fate?”

“Discriminately so, Amicitia. She shall have souvenirs and no suspicions
of Fate. But she shall not linger here, for all lingerers in Delicio’s
Court are spied upon--not for their soul’s good. She shall go hence,
and--”

“Ay, princely lady, she shall go hence,” interposed Lempriere, who had
panted to speak, and could bear silence no longer. “Her high Majesty
will kiss her on the brow, and in Jersey Isle she shall blossom
and bloom and know bounty--or never more shall I have privilege and
perquage.”

He lumbered forward and kissed Angele’s hand as though conferring
distinction, but with great generosity. “I said that all should go well,
and so it shall. Rozel shall prevail. The Queen knows on what rock to
build, as I made warrant for her, and will still do so.”

His vanity was incorrigible, but through it ran so child-like a spirit
that it bred friendship and repulsed not. The Duke’s Daughter pressed
the arm of Angele, who replied:

“Indeed it has been so according to your word, and we are--I am--shall
ever be beholden. In storm you have been with us, so true a pilot and so
brave a sailor; and if we come to port and the quiet shore, there shall
be spread a feast of remembrance which shall never grow cold, Seigneur.”

          “One ingle-nook right warm shall be
          Where my heart hath good company,”

sang the fool, and catching by the arm Buonespoir, who ducked his head
in farewell, ran him into the greenwood. Angele came forward as if to
stay Buonespoir, but stopped short reflectively. As she did so, the
Duke’s Daughter whispered quickly into Lempriere’s ear.

Swelling with pride he nodded, and said: “I will reach him and discover
myself to him, and bring him, if he stray, most undoubted and infallible
lady,” and with an air of mystery he made a heavily respectful exit.

Left alone, the two ladies seated themselves in the bower of roses, and
for a moment were silent. Presently the Duke’s Daughter laughed aloud.

“In what seas of dear conceit swims your leviathan Seigneur,
heart’s-ease?”

Angele stole a hand into the cool palm of the other. “He was builded for
some lonely sea all his own. Creation cheated him. But God give me ever
such friends as he, and I shall indeed ‘have good company’ and fear no
issue.” She sighed.

“Remains there still a fear? Did you not have good promise in the
Queen’s words that night?”

“Ay, so it seemed, and so it seemed before--on May Day, and yet--”

“And yet she banished you, and tried you, and kept you heart-sick?
Sweet, know you not how bitter a thing it is to owe a debt of love to
one whom we have injured? So it was with her. The Queen is not a saint,
but very woman. Marriage she hath ever contemned and hated; men she hath
desired to keep her faithful and impassioned servitors. So does power
blind us. And the braver the man, the more she would have him in her
service, at her feet, the centre of the world.”

“I had served her in a crisis, an hour of peril. Was naught due me?”

The Duke’s Daughter drew her close. “She never meant but that all should
be well. And because you had fastened on her feelings as never I have
seen another of your sex, so for the moment she resented it; and because
De la Foret was yours--ah, if you had each been naught to the other, how
easy it would have run! Do you not understand?”

“Nay, then, and yea, then--and I put it from me. See, am I not happy
now? Upon your friendship I build.”

“Sweet, I did what I could. Leicester filled her ears with poison every
day, mixed up your business and great affairs with France, sought
to convey that you both were not what you are; until at last I
countermarched him.” She laughed merrily. “Ay, I can laugh now, but it
was all hanging by a thread, when my leech sent his letter that brought
you to the palace. It had grieved me that I might not seek you, or
write to you in all those sad days; but the only way to save you was by
keeping the Queen’s command; for she had known of Leicester’s visits to
you, of your meeting in the maze, and she was set upon it that alone,
all alone, you should be tried to the last vestige of your strength. If
you had failed--”

“If I had failed--” Angele closed her eyes and shuddered. “I had not
cared for myself, but Michel--”

“If you had failed, there had been no need to grieve for Michel. He then
had not grieved for thee. But see, the wind blows fair, and in my heart
I have no fear of the end. You shall go hence in peace. This morning the
Queen was happier than I have seen her these many years: a light was in
her eye brighter than showeth to the Court. She talked of this place,
recalled the hours spent here, spoke even softly of Leicester. And that
gives me warrant for the future. She has relief in his banishment, and
only recalls older and happier days when, if her cares were no greater,
they were borne by the buoyancy of girlhood and youth. Of days spent
here she talked until mine own eyes went blind. She said it was a place
for lovers, and if she knew any two lovers who were true lovers, and had
been long parted, she would send them here.”

“There be two true lovers, and they have been long parted,” murmured
Angele.

“But she commanded these lovers not to meet till Trinity Day, and she
brooks not disobedience even in herself. How could she disobey her own
commands? But”--her eyes were on the greenwood and the path that led
into the circle--“but she would shut her eyes to-day, and let the world
move on without her, let lovers thrive, and birds be nesting without
heed or hap. Disobedience shall thrive when the Queen connives at
it--and so I leave you to your disobedience, sweet.”

With a laugh she sprang to her feet, and ran. Amazed and bewildered
Angele gazed after her. As she stood looking she heard her name called
softly.

Turning, she saw Michel. They were alone.



CHAPTER XIX

When De la Foret and Angele saw the Queen again it was in the royal
chapel.

Perhaps the longest five minutes of M. de la Foret’s life were those in
which he waited the coming of the Queen on that Trinity Sunday which
was to decide his fate. When he saw Elizabeth enter the chapel his eyes
swam, till the sight of them was lost in the blur of colour made by
the motions of gorgeously apparelled courtiers and the people of the
household. When the Queen had taken her seat and all was quiet, he
struggled with himself to put on such a front of simple boldness as he
would wear upon day of battle. The sword the Queen had given him was at
his side, and his garb was still that of a gentleman, not of a Huguenot
minister such as Elizabeth in her grim humour, and to satisfy her bond
with France, would make of him this day.

The brown of his face had paled in the weeks spent in the palace and
in waiting for this hour; anxiety had toned the ruddy vigour of his
bearing; but his figure was the figure of a soldier, and his hand that
of a strong man. He shook a little as he bowed to her Majesty, but that
passed, and when at last his eye met that of the Duke’s Daughter he
grew steady; for she gave him as plainly as though her tongue spoke, a
message from Angele. Angele herself he did not see--she was kneeling
in an obscure corner, her father’s hand in hers, all the passion of her
life pouring out in prayer.

De la Foret drew himself up with an iron will. No nobler figure of a
man ever essayed to preach the Word, and so Elizabeth thought; and she
repented of the bitter humour which had set this trial as his chance
of life in England and his freedom from the hand of Catherine. The man
bulked larger in her eyes than he had ever done, and she struggled with
herself to keep the vow she had made to the Duke’s Daughter the night
that Angele had been found in De la Foret’s rooms. He had been the
immediate cause, fated or accidental, of the destined breach between
Leicester and herself; he had played a significant part in her own life.
Glancing at her courtiers, she saw that none might compare with him, the
form and being of calm boldness and courage. She sighed she knew scarce
why.

When De la Foret first opened his mouth and essayed to call the
worshippers to prayer, no words came forth--only a dry whisper. Some
ladies simpered, and more than one courtier laughed silently. Michel
saw, and his face flamed up. But he laid a hand on himself, and a moment
afterwards his voice came forth, clear, musical, and resonant, speaking
simple words, direct and unlacquered sentences, passionately earnest
withal. He stilled the people to a unison of sentiment, none the less
interested and absorbed because it was known that he had been the cause
of the great breach between the Queen and the favourite. Ere he had
spoken far, flippant gallants had ceased to flutter handkerchiefs, to
move their swords idly upon the floor.

He took for his text: “Stand and search for the old paths.” The
beginning of all systems of religion, the coming of the Nazarene, the
rise and growth of Christianity, the martyrdoms of the early church, the
invasion of the truth by false doctrine, the abuses of the Church, the
Reformation, the martyrdom of the Huguenots for the return to the early
principles of Christianity, the “search for the old paths,” he set forth
in a tone generous but not fiery, presently powerful and searching, yet
not declamatory. At the last he raised the sword that hung by his side,
and the Book that lay before him, and said:

“And what matter which it is we wield--this steel that strikes for
God, or this Book which speaks of Him? For the Book is the sword of the
Spirit, and the sword is the life of humanity; for all faith must
be fought for, and all that is has been won by strife. But the paths
wherein ye go to battle must be the old paths; your sword shall be your
staff by day, and the Book your lantern by night. That which ye love ye
shall teach, and that which ye teach ye shall defend; and if your love
be a true love your teaching shall be a great teaching, and your sword
a strong sword which none may withstand. It shall be the pride of
sovereign and of people; and so neither ‘height, nor depth, nor any
other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God.’”

Ere he had ended, some of the ladies were overcome, the eyes of the
Duke’s Daughter were full of tears, and Elizabeth said audibly, when he
ceased speaking: “On my soul, I have no bishop with a tongue like his.
Would that my Lord of Ely were here to learn how truth should be spoke.
Henceforth my bishops shall first be Camisards.”

Of that hour’s joyful business the Queen wrote thus to the Medici before
the day was done:

Cancelling all other letters on the matter, this M. de la Foret shall
stay in my kingdom. I may not be the headsman of one of my faith--as
eloquent a preacher as he was a brave soldier. Abiding by the strict
terms of our treaty with my brother of France, he shall stay with us in
peace, and in our own care. He hath not the eloquence of a Knox, but he
hath the true thing in him, and that speaks.

To the Duke’s Daughter the Queen said: “On my soul, he shall be married
instantly, or my ladies will carry him off and murder him for love.”

And so it was that the heart of Elizabeth the Queen warmed again and
dearly towards two Huguenot exiles, and showed that in doing justice
she also had not so sour a heart towards her sex as was set down to
her credit. Yet she made one further effort to keep De la Foret in her
service. When Michel, once again, declined, dwelt earnestly on his duty
towards the widow of his dead chief, and begged leave to share her exile
in Jersey, Elizabeth said: “On my soul, but I did not think there was
any man on earth so careless of princes’ honours!”

To this De la Foret replied that he had given his heart and life to one
cause, and since Montgomery had lost all, even life, the least Michel
de la Foret could do was to see that the woman who loved him be not
unprotected in the world. Also, since he might not at this present
fight for the cause, he could speak for it; and he thanked the Queen
of England for having shown him his duty. All that he desired was to be
quiet for a space somewhere in “her high Majesty’s good realm,” till his
way was clear to him.

“You would return to Jersey, then, with our friend of Rozel?” Elizabeth
said, with a gesture towards Lempriere, who, now recovered from his
wound, was present at the audience.

De la Foret inclined his head. “If it be your high Majesty’s pleasure.”

And Lempriere of Rozel said: “He would return with myself your noble
Majesty’s friend before all the world, and Buonespoir his ship the
Honeyflower.”

Elizabeth’s lips parted in a smile, for she was warmed with the luxury
of doing good, and she answered:

“I know not what the end of this will be, whether our loyal Lempriere
will become a pirate or Buonespoir a butler to my Court; but it is too
pretty a hazard to forego in a world of chance. By the rood, but I have
never, since I sat on my father’s throne, seen black so white as I have
done this past three months. You shall have your Buonespoir, good Rozel;
but if he plays pirate any more--tell him this from his Queen--upon an
English ship, I will have his head, if I must needs send Drake of Devon
to overhaul him.”

That same hour the Queen sent for Angele, and by no leave, save her
own, arranged the wedding-day, and ordained that it should take place at
Southampton, whither the Comtesse de Montgomery had come on her way
to Greenwich to plead for the life of Michel de la Foret, and to beg
Elizabeth to relieve her poverty. Both of which things Elizabeth did, as
the annals of her life record.

After Elizabeth--ever self-willed--had declared her way about the
marriage ceremony, looking for no reply save that of silent obedience,
she made Angele sit at her feet and tell her whole story again from
first to last. They were alone, and Elizabeth showed to this young
refugee more of her own heart than any other woman had ever seen. Not by
words alone, for she made no long story; but once she stooped and kissed
Angele upon the cheek, and once her eyes filled up with tears, and they
dropped upon her lap unheeded. All the devotion shown herself as a woman
had come to naught; and it may be that this thought stirred in her now.
She remembered how Leicester and herself had parted, and how she was
denied all those soft resources of regret which were the right of
the meanest women in her realm. For, whatever she might say to her
Parliament and people, she knew that all was too late--that she would
never marry and that she must go childless and uncomforted to her grave.
Years upon years of delusion of her people, of sacrifice to policy, had
at last become a self-delusion, to which her eyes were not full opened
yet--she sought to shut them tight. But these refugees, coming at the
moment of her own struggle, had changed her heart from an ever-growing
bitterness to human sympathy. When Angele had ended her tale once more,
the Queen said:

“God knows, ye shall not linger in my Court. Such lives have no place
here. Get you back to my Isle of Jersey, where ye may live in peace.
Here all is noise, self-seeking and time-service. If ye twain are not
happy I will say the world should never have been made.”

Before they left Greenwich Palace--M. Aubert and Angele, De la Foret,
Lempriere, and Buonespoir--the Queen made Michel de la Foret the gift of
a chaplaincy to the Crown. To Monsieur Aubert she gave a small pension,
and in Angele’s hands she placed a deed of dower worthy of a generosity
greater than her own.

At Southampton, Michel and Angele were married by royal license, and
with the Comtesse de Montgomery set sail in Buonespoir’s boat, the
Honeyflower, which brought them safe to St. Helier’s, in the Isle of
Jersey.



CHAPTER XX

Followed several happy years for Michel and Angele. The protection
of the Queen herself, the chaplaincy she had given De la Foret, the
friendship with the Governor of the island; and the boisterous tales
Lempriere had told of those days at Greenwich Palace quickened the
sympathy and held the interest of the people at large; while the simple
lives of the two won their way into the hearts of all, even, at last, to
that of De Carteret of St. Ouen’s. It was Angele herself who brought the
two Seigneurs together at her own good table; and it needed all her tact
on that occasion to prevent the ancient foes from drinking all the wine
in her cellar.

There was no parish in Jersey that did not know their goodness, but
mostly in the parishes of St. Martin’s and Rozel were their faithful
labours done. From all parts of the island people came to hear Michel
speak, though that was but seldom; and when he spoke he always wore the
sword the Queen had given him, and used the Book he had studied in her
palace. It was to their home that Buonespoir the pirate--faithful to
his promise to the Queen that he would harry English ships no more came
wounded, after an engagement with a French boat sent to capture him,
carried thither by Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. It was there he
died, after having drunk a bottle of St. Ouen’s muscadella, brought
secretly to him by his unchanging friend, Lempriere, so hastening the
end.

The Comtesse de Montgomery, who lived in a cottage near by, came
constantly to the little house on the hillside by Rozel Bay. She had
never loved her own children more than she did the brown-haired child
with the deep-blue eyes, which was the one pledge of the great happiness
of Michel and Angele.

Soon after this child was born, M. Aubert had been put to rest in St.
Martin’s churchyard, and there his tombstone might be seen so late as
a hundred years ago. So things went softly by for seven years, and then
Madame de Montgomery journeyed to England, on invitation of the Queen
and to better fortune, and Angele and De la Foret were left to their
quiet life in Jersey. Sometimes this quiet was broken by bitter news
from France, of fresh persecution, and fresh struggle on the part of the
Huguenots. Thereafter for hours, sometimes for days, De la Foret would
be lost in sorrowful and restless meditation; and then he fretted
against his peaceful calling and his uneventful life. But the gracious
hand of his wife and the eyes of his child led him back to cheerful ways
again.

Suddenly one day came the fearful news from England that the plague had
broken out, and that thousands were dying. The flight from London
was like the flight of the children of Israel into the desert. The
dead-carts filled with decaying bodies rattled through the foul streets,
to drop their horrid burdens into the great pit at Aldgate; the bells
of London tolled all day and all night for the passing of human souls.
Hundreds of homes, isolated because of a victim of the plague found
therein, became ghastly breeding-places of the disease, and then
silent, disgusting graves. If a man shivered in fear, or staggered from
weakness, or for very hunger turned sick, he was marked as a victim, and
despite his protests was huddled away with the real victims to die the
awful death. From every church, where clergy were left to pray, went up
the cry for salvation from “plague, pestilence, and famine.” Scores of
ships from Holland and from France lay in the Channel, not allowed to
touch the shores of England, nor permitted to return whence they came.
On the very day that news of this reached Jersey, came a messenger from
the Queen of England for Michel de la Foret to hasten to her Court
for that she had need of him, and it was a need which would bring him
honour. Even as the young officer who brought the letter handed it to
De la Foret in the little house on the hill-side above Rozel Bay, he was
taken suddenly ill, and fell at the Camisard’s feet.

De la Foret straightway raised him in his arms. He called to his wife,
but, bidding her not come near, he bore the doomed man away to the
lonely Ecrehos Rocks lying within sight of their own doorway. Suffering
no one to accompany him, he carried the sick man to the boat which had
brought the Queen’s messenger to Rozel Bay. The sailors of the vessel
fled, and alone De la Foret set sail for the Ecrehos.

There upon the black rocks the young man died, and Michel buried him in
the shore-bed of the Maitre Ile. Then, after two days--for he could bear
suspense no longer--he set sail for Jersey. Upon that journey there
is no need to dwell. Any that hath ever loved a woman and a child must
understand. A deep fear held him all the way, and when he stepped on
shore at Rozel Bay he was as one who had come from the grave, haggard
and old.

Hurrying up the hillside to his doorway, he called aloud to his wife, to
his child. Throwing open the door, he burst in. His dead child lay upon
a couch, and near by, sitting in a chair, with the sweat of the dying on
her brow, was Angele. As he dropped on his knee beside her, she smiled
and raised her hand as if to touch him, but the hand dropped and the
head fell forward on his breast. She was gone into a greater peace.

Once more Michel made a journey-alone--to the Ecrehos, and there, under
the ruins of the old Abbey of Val Richer, he buried the twain he had
loved. Not once in all the terrible hours had he shed a tear; not once
had his hand trembled; his face was like stone, and his eyes burned with
an unearthly light.

He did not pray beside the graves; but he knelt and kissed the earth
again and again. He had doffed his robes of peace, and now wore the
garb of a soldier, armed at all points fully. Rising from his knees, he
turned his face towards Jersey.

“Only mine! Only mine!” he said aloud in a dry, bitter voice.

In the whole island, only his loved ones had died of the plague. The
holiness and charity and love of Michel and Angele had ended so!

When once more he set forth upon the Channel, he turned his back on
Jersey and shaped his course towards France, having sent Elizabeth his
last excuses for declining a service which would have given him honour,
fame and regard. He was bent upon a higher duty.

Not long did he wait for the death he craved. Next year, in a Huguenot
sortie from Anvers, he was slain. He died with these words on his lips:

“Maintenant, Angele!”

In due time the island people forgot them both, but the Seigneur of
Rozel caused a stone to be set up on the highest point of land that
faces France, and on the stone were carved the names of Michel and
Angele. Having done much hard service for his country and for England’s
Queen, Lempriere at length hung up his sword and gave his years to
peace. From the Manor of Rozel he was wont to repair constantly to the
little white house, which remained as the two had left it,--his own by
order of the Queen,--and there, as time went on, he spent most of his
days. To the last he roared with laughter if ever the name of Buonespoir
was mentioned in his presence; he swaggered ever before the Royal Court
and De Carteret of St. Ouen’s; and he spoke proudly of his friendship
with the Duke’s Daughter, who had admired the cut of his jerkin at the
Court of Elizabeth. But in the house where Angele had lived he moved
about as though in the presence of a beloved sleeper he would not awake.

Michel and Angele had had their few years of exquisite life and love,
and had gone; Lempriere had longer measure of life and little love, and
who shall say which had more profit of breath and being? The generations
have passed away, and the Angel of Equity hath a smiling pity as she
scans the scales and the weighing of the Past.


     ETEXT EDITOR’S BOOKMARKS:

     Boldness without rashness, and hope without vain thinking
     Each of us will prove himself a fool given perfect opportunity
     Never believed that when man or woman said no that no was meant
     No note of praise could be pitched too high for Elizabeth
     Nothing is futile that is right
     Religion to him was a dull recreation invented chiefly for women
     She had never stooped to conquer
     Slander ever scorches where it touches





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