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Title: In the Days of Queen Mary
Author: Crake, Edward Ebenezer (Edward E.)
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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                             IN THE DAYS OF
                               QUEEN MARY


    [Illustration: HE SHOWED NO SIGN OF LIFE. _Frontispiece._]


                             IN THE DAYS OF
                               QUEEN MARY


                  EDWARD E. CRAKE, M.A., F.R.HIST.SOC.
                         (RECTOR OF JEVINGTON)


                     _ILLUSTRATED BY W. S. STACEY_

                          LITERATURE COMMITTEE




                      BRIGHTON: 129, NORTH STREET

                         NEW YORK: E. S. GORHAM



                           (_by permission_)





                    CHAP.                            PAGE
                        I CHIDDINGLY PLACE              7

                       II THE APPARITOR                16

                      III THE PURSUIVANT               27

                       IV THAMES PIRATES               48

                        V GRAY'S INN                   58

                       VI THE STAR CHAMBER             72

                      VII THE ARREST OF RALPH          87

                     VIII THE VERDICT                  96

                       IX THE DAWN OF HOPE            104

                        X WHITEHALL                   112

                       XI THE BATTLE OF ST. QUENTIN   129

                      XII THE FALL OF ST. QUENTIN     144

                     XIII THE SCHWARTZREITERS         156

                      XIV BRUSSELS, ANTWERP, CALAIS   175

                       XV CALAIS                      190

                      XVI HOME AGAIN                  202

                     XVII THREE CLOSING SCENES        215


                           ILLUSTRATED BOOKS


                           _THE SAME AUTHOR_


=Dame Joan of Pevensey.= A Sussex Tale. Crown 8vo, cloth boards, 1_s._

=Henri Duquesne.= A Sussex Romance. Crown 8vo, cloth boards, 1_s._

=The Royalist Brothers.= A Tale of the Siege of Colchester. Crown 8vo,
cloth boards, 2_s._ 6_d._

=When the Puritans were in Power.= A Tale of the Great Rebellion. Crown
8vo, cloth boards, 2_s._





                       [Illustration: Decoration]

                                 IN THE
                           DAYS OF QUEEN MARY

                               CHAPTER I

                            CHIDDINGLY PLACE

The sun was setting, and a rosy light filtered through the trees which
enshrouded Chiddingly Place.

The cawing of the rooks, as they winged their leisurely flight into the
great rookery, alone broke the silence which sweetly brooded over the
broad terrace on which two Sussex boys lay extended on the velvety turf.
It was Midsummer Day—a day of unbroken sunshine and excessive heat.

In the evening a refreshing wind had revived the parched earth, and the
gay flowers which spangled the wide-spreading lawn were lifting their
drooped heads with renewed life.

The stone-mullioned windows of the Tudor house were thrown wide open,
and the lads could see the maids within the dining-hall busily engaged
in laying the supper for which they were more than ready.

"Come, Ralph," said William, as he bestirred himself, "we must go
indoors and make ourselves presentable. Uncle John comes to-night, and
he will soon be here."

"Oh, don't hurry," answered his brother, as he lay playing with two fine
retrievers. "I love to watch the purple light on the downs as the sun
sinks behind them; I could gladly lie here all night!"

"I agree with you," answered William; "but here comes Sue with orders, I
expect, from the powers that be, that we are to go indoors at once."

Susan was the only sister of the two boys, and at her approach the dogs
ran forward to greet her, and the boys rose quickly from their mossy

The boys were twins, and as they stood side by side the likeness between
them was striking.

They were in their eighteenth year, and fine specimens were they of the
race of the "Sudseaxe." Tall and well built, fair haired and blue eyed,
their strong limbs and fresh complexions betokened youths whose lives
had been spent amid the woods and forests of Sussex, or on the rolling
downs which stretched between Chiddingly and the sea.

Yet these boys were not unlettered, for both of them had been
"foundation scholars" in the famous St. Paul's School, built and endowed
by Dean Colet.

Nay, more, the youths had already seen something of Court life, strange
to say.

It happened in this wise.

Their uncle Sir John Jefferay was a famous London lawyer, and he bid
fair to occupy a great position on the judicial bench.

At this time he was the Treasurer of Gray's Inn, and on the occasion of
a grand masque, given in the fine hall of the Inn by the Fellows, his
two nephews had taken the parts of Castor and Pollux. The young King had
honoured the performance with his royal presence, and so struck was he
with the wonderful resemblance of the two Sussex brothers that he
ordered them to Court and spent much time in their company.

In fact this resemblance was very remarkable. Those who knew the boys
best could hardly tell them apart, and to avoid the continual mistakes
which would otherwise have occurred, William always wore a grey cap and
his brother a blue one.

The fondest affection subsisted between them; they were rarely seen
apart; the one was the complement of the other, and their father,
William Jefferay, would often declare that "they possessed two bodies,
but only one soul!"

Just now they were released from their attendance at Court, but they
would have to return thither shortly, for the sickly young King found a
solace in their company.

There was one point upon which the boys were pre-eminently in agreement—
they both adored their sister Sue, and her slightest wish was law to

And well did the fair Susan deserve this devotion. Three short years
before, the boys had become motherless, and Susan, as the eldest member
of the family, at once assumed the domestic control of Chiddingly Place.
The comfort, the happiness, the welfare of the boys became her chief
object in life.

She even shared in their sports—as far as a girl could,—and to her every
secret of their hearts was laid bare; she was their "dea patrona," and
for her both William and Ralph would have gladly laid down their lives
at any time or place.

In person Susan was a feminine replica of the twins. She possessed their
fair complexion and laughing blue eyes—her hair hung, like theirs, in
thick masses over her shoulders.

Though slenderly built she was tall, and her figure displayed the
nameless grace of a well-born English girl.


"Come, boys," cried Susan, as she ran forth to the terrace to greet
them, "Uncle John will be here in a few minutes; his grooms arrived an
hour ago with his baggage, and now they have set his room in order for
him. Hurry up, or you will keep supper waiting!"

The boys answered her greeting merrily, and taking her hands they ran by
her side towards the entrance porch, which they entered just as Uncle
John appeared upon the scene.

Susan ran out to salute him as he dismounted from his grey sorrel—the
boys darted upward to their rooms.

As Sir John entered the house, his brother William came forward to greet
him with the warmest of welcomes.


It was a happy party which gathered in the dining-hall that evening.

The supper was served at so early an hour that the candles in the silver
sconces were not yet required: the light of day still gleamed into the
hall through the lozenge-paned oriel window, and sent coloured streams
across the fair napery of the table as it passed through the stained
glass of armorial bearings. Sir John sat at the head of the table, as he
always did when he came to Chiddingly—though he had made a "deed of
gift" of the Place in favour of his brother William when he took up his
abode in London.

Presently the shadows of evening began to deepen, and the wax tapers
were lit.

How pleasant the hall looked as the light shone on the wainscoted walls
and illumined the features of past generations of Jefferays whose
portraits adorned the beautiful chamber!

There was John Jefferay, who purchased Chiddingly Place in 1495, and
beside him was the portrait of his wife Agnes, whose fine features bore
a strong resemblance to Susan.

Their three sons were there—Richard, Thomas and William, Richard being
the father of the famous Sir John who now sat at supper in the hall.


And when the young people of the family had withdrawn to the parlour, to
amuse themselves with music and merry games, Sir John and his brother
stepped out on to the lawn and entered into grave discourse as they
walked to and fro.

The stars were shining brightly, a soft, gentle wind was stirring the
tree-tops, and from the woods around came the sweet songs of many a

"Ah, what a contrast is this scene of tranquil peace and happiness to
the wild drama which is unfolding itself in London!" said Sir John.

"Here I may speak words to you, brother William, which might cost me my
head if men overheard them in town. I have come to Chiddingly sick at
heart and weary of the world, for the young King is dying, and all the
beasts and birds of prey are gathering together at Court ready to fly at
each others' throats as soon as the life is out of his poor body. Alas!
alas! for England; I see no hope for her but in God. His Grace of
Northumberland is straining every nerve to advance the cause of Lady
Jane Grey and his son Lord Guildford Dudley, and I foresee that, ere
long, the headsman will be busy, and the innocent will suffer with the

"Last night his Grace of Canterbury came to me in great trouble; he
would fain know if he might legally sign certain State documents, and I
told him that if he did so it would be at the peril of his head! Alas,
poor Archbishop! he went away greatly perturbed.

"Yesterday I saw the Lord Mayor, and he vowed to me that no earthly
power should constrain him to proclaim Lady Jane as Queen in the City—
let me tell you his heart is wholly with the Lady Mary, and, by my
troth, he is wise! For, as a lawyer, I declare that the rights to the
throne of the Ladies Mary and Elizabeth are indefeasible; yet, if I said
as much in London to-day, I might spend the night in the Tower, and to-
morrow bid my last adieu to this world on the scaffold!

"Oh, the times are dark, deadly, perilous, and I am glad to escape from
London and breathe the pure air of Chiddingly for a brief space."

"And if Mary become Queen, what of our Reformed Church, which is dear to
us both?" inquired William anxiously.

"Ah! God knows—and God only," answered Sir John. "The Lady Mary is a
bigot, and that we all know.

"Yet I will tell you a State secret: she has sent a messenger to the
Lord Mayor, declaring that should she be declared Queen, no Englishman
shall suffer for his faith."

"Will she keep her word?" asked William.

"_Qui vivra verra_," answered Sir John; "but I foresee that all depends
upon the man whom she shall marry, for marry she will. If, by the mercy
of God, she marry a good man, all may be well; if she marry a bad one,
then God help us!"

William was deeply moved, and he sighed audibly.

"It bodes great trouble for England," he said in a troubled voice. "It
may be that the fires of Smithfield will be rekindled as in the worst
days of King Henry: yet I believe that the Reformation has taken a deep
hold upon the country; the Church may bend before a fierce storm of
persecution, but she will not be broken—she will rise again! I, for one,
would rather die than bow my knees to Baal, as represented to me by the
Papacy; and, thank God, there are thousands of men of like mind with me
in Sussex!"

As William pronounced these words in tones that quivered with emotion,
his brother caught him by the hand, and shaking it warmly, he cried—

"I know your stedfastness, brother, and I agree with you with all my
heart and soul—yet I pray that God may spare us the trial of our faith!
But hark! I hear an approaching horseman; I expect it is my man Roger,
who is bringing us the latest news from town."

A few minutes later the groom appeared on the lawn, bearing letters in
his hand.

Sir John took them from him; then, turning to his brother, he said—

"Let us go indoors; these letters are from my secretary, and we will
read them at once; they must be of importance, or they would not have
followed me so soon."

Entering the house the gentlemen made their way to the library—a
comfortable room, well lighted with wax candles, and furnished with
numerous settees and easy-chairs.

Sir John sat down and eagerly opened his despatches.

"It is Tremayne who writes," he said. "I will read his letter to you; it
is as follows—

            "'HONOURED SIR,

            "'The Council met to-day, and the deed of which you wot was
    signed and sealed—all the members consenting thereto. The Archbishop
    hesitated to the last, but His Grace of Northumberland would not be
    withstood—and so all signed. I hear that the King is sinking fast.
    From your chambers in Gray's Inn, June 21, 1553. J. W. TREMAYNE'"

The brothers looked at each other with pallid faces.

"So the 'letters patent' are issued," said Sir John, "and the
irrevocable step is taken! 'Domine, dirige nos'! It is the beginning of
strife of which no man can see the issue. Northumberland relies on aid
from France; the Lady Mary places her hope on the Emperor. I bethink me
of our blessed Lord's words: 'These things are the beginning of sorrows!
Then shall be great tribulation such as was not since the beginning of
the world to this time, no nor ever shall be.' And alas! for the poor
young King, he hath none to comfort him; he is tasting of that
unutterable loneliness that surrounds a throne! I think the end of his
troubles is nigh at hand—and then the great strife will begin!

"But the hour is growing late, William," said Sir John, "and I hear
Susan's pretty voice below; she is singing one of those songs I love so
well: let us join the young people, I have seen little of them to-


A fortnight later, on July 6th, King Edward died at Greenwich in the
sixteenth year of his age and the seventh of his reign.

Sir John had tarried at Chiddingly until the end came; then he hastened
up to London, where pressing duties called him.

With him went the two boys—to begin their legal studies under the
auspices of their uncle at Gray's Inn, for it was his wish that they
should both enter the learned profession of the law.


                               CHAPTER II

                             THE APPARITOR

It was the year of grace 1556, the third year of the reign of Queen

The forebodings of evil with which her reign had been ushered in were
bitterly fulfilled.

The headsman's axe had oft-times been in use on Tower Hill:
Northumberland had gone to his doom with no man to pity him; his son
Lord Guildford Dudley had followed him to the block, perhaps equally

But men were moved to deeper pity and compassion when the young,
innocent, and hapless Lady Jane suffered for her kinsmen's crimes!

The Reformation had found its "witnesses unto death" in the persons of
Cranmer, Ridley and Latimer, and the flames of Smithfield aroused the
horror of the people; the great "Marian Persecution" had begun, and
already over a hundred victims had been offered up.

Mary had married her Spanish husband, and England had witnessed the
feeble and ineffectual rebellion of Sir Thomas Wyatt—a protest against
the marriage which did not commend itself to the mass of the people.

Amid all these scenes of turmoil and confusion, of terror and distress,
the family of the Jefferays at Chiddingly were left unmolested and

In many a quiet country village the Services of the Church, as they had
been appointed at the Reformation, were duly performed; the Prayer Book
was not superseded by the Missal, and the parish priest was not
dispossessed. Their obscurity sheltered them—as yet.

The Vicar of Chiddingly was William Tittleton, who had been appointed to
the benefice in the reign of Henry the Eighth. He had been at Magdalen
College, Oxford, with Sir John Jefferay, where the two young men had
formed a strong and enduring friendship.

Thus it happened that in due time Sir John presented his friend—now in
Holy Orders—to the benefice of Chiddingly, and the Vicar had returned
the good service by acting as tutor to the young people of Chiddingly
Place. He was a very able scholar, and between him and his pupils a
strong affection subsisted.

But a change was at hand for the parish of Chiddingly—its peace and
quietude came suddenly to an end. The "Marian Persecution" had begun,
and the lurid flames of Smithfield had aroused horror and indignation in
many English hearts—especially in Sussex, where the Reformation had
taken deep root.

At this critical moment the Vicar of Chiddingly preached a sermon at
Mayfield which brought him under the censure of the Government, and an
apparitor was sent to make inquiry into the ecclesiastical position of
the little parish.

The ill-omened visitor attended the simple services of the parish
church, and took copious notes of the Vicar's sermon, to the dismay of
the rustics of Chiddingly.

The fires of Lewes in the month of June this year had excited their
fierce animosity, and the appearance of the apparitor in their midst
gave birth to a sudden outburst of wrath.

It was at the close of a lovely day in July—a Sunday—when their anger
found vent.

They had marked the presence of a stranger at the morning service—a
stern-looking, middle-aged man, garbed in black, and as they came out of
church the men gathered in groups to discuss the object and purpose of
his visit.

The man was sojourning at the village inn (the "Six Bells"), and thither
he was allowed for the present to retire unmolested, although a strict
watch was at once instituted upon his doings.

In the afternoon the visitor again attended service, and an ominous
murmur among the rustics became distinctly audible as they observed that
he was again busily taking notes of all that he saw and heard.

The service over, the man left the church with the intention of
proceeding to the inn, where his horse was stabled; but he was not to be
allowed to leave the village thus quietly.

Hard by the church was the horse-pond—at this period of the year about
half full of dark slimy water; in the centre of the pond the depth would
be about four or five feet.

Suddenly the visitor found himself surrounded by a band of determined,
angry-looking Sussex men.

"What does this mean?" he asked sternly. "Do you men know that I am
about the Queen's business?"

"Aye, we thought as much, and that's about the reason of it all,"
answered the spokesman of the rustics. "Gie us them papers which we saw
thee so busy with in the church instead of minding thy prayers! Gie us
them—we see them sticking out of thy pocket, and we means to have them—
or it will be the worse for thee!"

"Fools!" snarled the man, without quailing before the coming storm,
"fools! do you not know that it is a hanging matter to lay a hand on

"It's very likely," said the bold rustic; "but it strikes me some one
else will be hung, or drownded, before any of us are sent to join the
Lewes martyrs."

The angry group was now just beside the horse-pond—and each moment it
grew more excited and threatening. Suddenly a voice cried—

"He's fond of fire, let's see how water suits him!"

Thereupon the rustics hustled the hapless apparitor to the edge of the
pond; then he found himself lifted from the ground, and the strong arms
of his foes swung him to and fro in the air.

"One, two, three, in he goes!" cried a raucous voice.

A scream of terror was sent forth by the man, and he struggled

It was all of no avail.

In another moment he was hurled headlong into the slimy waters of the
pond! And there he might have been drowned, but for the help that came
to him from an unexpected quarter.

Susan Jefferay had been in the congregation, and her attention had been
arrested by the unwonted spectacle of a stranger in the church.

The service was over, and the Vicar had withdrawn into the vestry; Susan
awaited him in the church, for he was to accompany her home to the

The wonted silence of the Sabbath-day was broken by the angry voices of
men, and Susan hurried out of the church to ascertain the cause—a
dreadful suspicion arising in her mind.

A glance at the tumultuous scene at the pondside revealed to her the
catastrophe which was being enacted. Instantly she flew to the vestry
where the Vicar was unrobing, and seizing him by the arm, she cried—

"Oh, come, Vicar, come this instant, the men are murdering the

Then she and the Vicar hurried towards the pond. The enraged rustics had
thrown a rope over the unhappy apparitor's shoulders, and having secured
their victim in a noose, were dragging him to and fro in the water.

"Hold, in God's name!" shouted the Vicar. "What madness possesses you,
men?" he continued; "are you not ashamed of yourselves? Here, give me
the rope," he cried, as he grasped the situation.

"Let me help you, Vicar," pleaded Susan, anxious to have some part in
the matter.

So the two rescuers drew the half-drowned apparitor to land, and Susan,
stooping down, undid the rope which was choking the man.

He showed no sign of life now, his face looked unnaturally pale in
contrast to the dull green slime which besmeared it.

"Run to the vicarage and bring some strong waters, Robin," he cried to a
youth who stood looking on.

"Nay, rather run to the 'Six Bells'; it is nearer," suggested Susan, and
the boy dashed away to do their bidding.

Meanwhile, Susan had loosed the man's garments around his throat, while
the Vicar placed his hand upon his heart.

"I fear he is dead!" said the Vicar, in tones of anguish.

"Nay," cried Susan, as she observed a green froth gurgling at his mouth,
"see, he is breathing!"

By this time Robin had returned from the "Six Bells" with a bottle of
brandy in his hand.

Susan took it from the lad and began carefully to moisten the man's lips
with the strong spirit, then to pour a small portion down his throat.

Presently a colour flushed into the man's pallid cheeks, and a moment
later he opened his eyes and looked wonderingly around.

Then, leaving Susan to attend to the sufferer, the Vicar rose to his
feet and looked round upon his parishioners.

"Now tell me, men, what all this means," he said somewhat sternly.

The men looked shamefaced, but their chief spokesman answered the Vicar

"The man is a Government spy," he said; "he meant mischief to all of us,
and especially to you, Vicar. We saw him taking notes of all that you
did and said in church, and he warned us that he was a Queen's officer,
and that to touch him was a hanging matter; so we just 'touched' him,
and if you had not come along with Miss Susan we should have drawn his
fangs, and he would never more have wrought mischief to innocent and
harmless people."

The Vicar still preserved a stern countenance, but he had not been human
if he had not been secretly touched by this proof of the devotion of his
people, however recklessly given.

"And these said notes," he said, "they may have been quite harmless;
what did you do with them?"

"We took them from his pockets, Vicar, then we wrapped them round a big
stone and threw them in the pond; they won't do much harm there!"

The Vicar's features relaxed into a momentary smile; then he became
pensive again, as he said—

"Thank God that I and Miss Susan came in time to frustrate your reckless
intention; you might have brought down unutterable evils on our parish;
and remember, men, there is One who hath said, 'Vengeance is Mine, I
will repay!' What right had you to snatch the judgment from His hand?"

At this moment Susan touched the Vicar on the arm, and said—

"He is fast recovering consciousness: let the men carry him to his
lodgings at the 'Six Bells,' and at once; he needs rest and

"Yes," replied the Vicar, "I will see to it: and do you, Mistress Susan,
go home without me; I will soon follow you."

The Vicar turned to one of the men, who had not been actively engaged in
the late proceedings.

"Hal," said he, "take that gate off its hinges and bring it here"—
pointing to a garden gate near at hand.

The man readily obeyed, the gate was brought, and the semi-unconscious
apparitor was placed thereon.

Then the Vicar and three of the men conveyed their burden to the "Six
Bells" Inn, the man was carried to his room, and before he left him the
Vicar saw him safely placed in bed.

"Take care of him, Giles," he said to the landlord. "Let me know how he
is to-night; I will call and see him in the morning."

That evening the Vicar had a long and very serious conversation with his
old friend William Jefferay.

All the family had supped together in the dining-hall, and now the two
men were conferring on the event of the day in the library.

"It is no light matter in these evil days to have a Queen's apparitor to
spy and report, as this man intended to do," said Jefferay. "This man
may return to his masters before twenty-four hours have passed, and no
man can say what will then happen; to-day's uproar will make matters all
the worse for us. Take my advice, Vicar, you have neither wife nor child
to detain you in England: spend the next six months in Holland! Do you
need money? I shall be proud to be your almoner. Oh, take my advice and
go, ere the storm bursts!"

"And leave my flock at the very first intimation of danger—perhaps to
suffer in my place," replied the Vicar warmly. "Oh no, it cannot be
done; and while I thank you, friend Jefferay, with all my heart, I beg
you to abandon the thought of so base desertion—it would be a lack of
faith in God; I cannot do it."

William Jefferay sighed, and the matter dropped.


That night the landlord of the inn came to the vicarage with bad news:
the apparitor was moaning in pain, and seemed to be light-headed.

Like many of his clerical brethren, the Vicar had some knowledge of
medicine, and he now hastened to the sick man's side, taking with him
some simple remedies.

Susan had preceded him thither, for among her many beneficent offices
she had constituted herself the "parish nurse" of Chiddingly, and in
every case of trouble or sickness she was the first to be sent for.

As the Vicar entered the room, Susan rose from her seat at the bedside
and greeted him.

"He is very feverish," she said. "I am afraid he is going to be very
ill: I have sent to Hailsham for the doctor."

"You did well," answered the Vicar. "I hope he will soon be here."

Just before midnight the doctor arrived, and ere he saw his patient the
Vicar related to him the circumstances of the case.

The doctor listened with some amazement.

"You and Mistress Susan are very good to this man, considering the
errand upon which he came to Chiddingly," said the doctor.

"We do not, perhaps, know all the circumstances of the case," replied
the Vicar, "for his papers were destroyed by my people; perhaps he is no
foe of mine at all, but if it were so, we remember that it is written,
'If thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink.' Much
more, surely, should we succour him if he be sick."

"Yes, yes, you are right, doubtless, and I honour you for it," replied
the doctor—"but come, let us visit the patient."

The visit paid, the two men met again in the inn parlour down-stairs.

"He is in a high fever," said the doctor, "and he will need great care
and attention. It is too much for Mistress Susan—I will send you a nurse
to-morrow. For to-night, Giles's wife can do all that is necessary."

But Susan would not hear of this arrangement, declaring that she would
remain at her post till the nurse arrived.


Three weeks later two men sat upon a seat on the vicarage lawn.

Again it was a Sunday evening, and the two men were the Vicar and the

"And you are sure that you are able to travel to-morrow?" said the

"Yes, I shall take it by easy stages—resting for a night at East
Grinstead, and so reaching London on the evening of the second day."

"London," said the Vicar; "then you go to make your report to the

"No, Mr. Vicar, I have resigned my office of apparitor—I take up work of
another sort in London."

Then, in answer to a look of amazement, perhaps of inquiry, which the
man saw depicted on the Vicar's countenance, he suddenly seized Mr.
Tittleton's hand and shook it warmly.

"Oh! Mr. Vicar," he cried, "how could you think it possible that I could
again take up the accursed work which brought me hither? Do you know
that each time that I saw you by my bedside, each time that I felt your
cooling hand on my feverish brow, whensoever I listened to your soothing
voice, my whole soul was moved with contrition and remorse. For I came
hither on an evil errand—may God forgive me!

"My report of Chiddingly might have brought about your death warrant.
Oh, I thank Heaven that it was destroyed ere the mischief was done! And
as I lay on my sick-bed, I surmised that you must have suspected all
this; yet you and Mistress Susan watched over me with unwearied
tenderness and patience—you snatched me from the jaws of death! And the
thought of all this broke my hard heart!

"Now I wish you adieu, my dear Vicar; but ere I go, let me leave with
you a word of counsel. It is known to me that dangerous reports of you
have reached London, and though I abandon the office of apparitor
another will take it up, and your life may be in danger. Therefore, I
beseech you to take refuge abroad, as so many of your brethren have
done. Soon the clouds may roll by, but for the present hour of stress
and trouble seek safety in flight, I beseech you."

The Vicar shook his head sadly.

"It may not be, my dear friend—the shepherd may not flee and leave his
flock in danger."

"Yet," urged his visitor, "it is written, 'If they persecute you in one
city, flee ye into another'—is that not so?"

"Yes, that is the Divine counsel," answered the Vicar, "and the hour may
come when I may feel the monition to be addressed to me; but for the
present I abide in Chiddingly!"

"God's will be done," said the man solemnly—and so they parted.


                              CHAPTER III

                             THE PURSUIVANT

The apparitor had taken his departure, and Chiddingly had resumed its
normal condition of rural happiness and peace.

The fields were ripening unto harvest, the rustics went forth to their
daily toil whistling merrily beside their horses, and at eventide the
maidens went to see to the kine with their bright milk-cans in their
hands. The rooks filled the air with their raucous voices, as they
fluttered about the great rookery which begirt Chiddingly Place.

On the Sunday following the departure of the Queen's officer, all the
people of Chiddingly, save a few who were bedridden, flocked into the
parish church as if to testify by their presence the love that they bore
to their pastor.

Chiddingly was a musical village, and here, at least, the Canticles,
which were "to be said or sung," were always sung to the accompaniment
of a flageolet, which the parish clerk played vigorously.

And on this especial Sunday the "Te Deum" was sung so heartily that the
Vicar marvelled, while Mistress Susan's bright eyes glowed with pride
and then glistened with the unbidden tear which strong emotion called

The service over, the Squire and his fair daughter walked through the
lines of the villagers, who, according to their custom, awaited their
exit to make their salutations to them, cap in hand. There was nothing
servile in this—it was but the public exhibition of the love and
fidelity in which the family of the Jefferays was held by the Chiddingly
people. At the entrance porch of the hall Susan's quick eye noted a
stable lad standing beside a pony from which he had dismounted.

What was it that so suddenly brought a flush into Susan's cheeks as she
marked that the lad wore the livery of the De Fynes of Herstmonceux—a
glow which deepened as the boy doffed his cap and offered her a letter?

"You come from Lewes?" said Susan inquiringly.

"Yes, my lady," replied the lad.

"Wait awhile, and I will let you know if there is any reply; go to the
kitchen after you have stabled your pony—the maids will get you some
dinner," said Susan.

The lad bowed low and took his departure, glad to follow out Susan's

Susan turned to her father, who had looked on smilingly.

"Pardon me, dear father," she said, "I will be with you anon."

William Jefferay nodded assent. Susan hastened to her own room and
quickly opened her letter.

Yes, it was from Geoffrey de Fynes; she had half hoped to have seen him
this day, why had he written instead?

So, with a heart surmising evil, she proceeded to read the letter. As
she did so, her cheeks paled and her hands trembled. Then she rang a
small silver bell which stood at her side, and her maid Janet appeared
in answer to the summons.

"Ask my father to come hither to me, Janet," she said, and the maid
hastened away.

Her father presently entered her room, his face still wreathed with

But the expression of his face changed suddenly as he looked upon his
daughter, who held out the letter to him.

"What is it, Susan," he said quickly, "what has happened?"

"Read, father!" she replied in a troubled voice.

The writer of the letter was a member of a great Sussex family—a family
whose wrongs moved the pity of all men. The head of the house of
Geoffrey de Fynes had suffered a traitor's death in the year 1545, since
which time the family had been degraded "in blood and honours."

Yet never had Justice so surely missed its mark as when young Lord
Dacres lost his head at Tyburn!

Young Geoffrey de Fynes at the present time held the office of Secretary
to the High Sheriff of the County; just now his duties had called him to

He was a frequent visitor at Chiddingly Place, and between him and Susan
a strong attachment had sprung up, though no betrothal had taken place.

William Jefferay took the letter from his daughter's hand and read it
carefully; it was as follows—

"This from the hand of one who loves thee well, and whose chief object
in life is to do thee service. Hence I write this letter, and I do so
with a clear conscience, though the writing of it might cause the loss
of my post, and make me an inmate of Lewes gaol! Yet I dare not do
otherwise, for thy happiness is dearer to me than aught else in this

"Now to come at once to the point.

"It has come to my knowledge that a warrant has been issued by the Crown
for the apprehension of the Vicar of Chiddingly.

"A Pursuivant, with three men-at-arms, will leave Lewes for Chiddingly
three days hence, soon after daybreak. They will travel on horseback,
and their object is to arrest the Vicar, bring him hither, and
afterwards convey him to London.

"Thou mayest show this letter to thy father, but to none other. Between
you some plan may be devised whereby he shall escape the malice of his
foes. I suggest that he flee to the Continent, but thy father will be
his best counsellor."

Then the letter of Geoffrey de Fynes drifted off into other matters
which concerned Susan only.

"When you have finished reading that letter I counsel you to destroy it—
for Geoffrey's sake," said William Jefferay to his daughter, as he
handed it back to her.

"Oh, father," said Susan, "what is to be done?"

"I know not," replied her father, "unless we can persuade the Vicar to

"We have tried that already, and I fear he is immovably resolved to stay
among his people—he is strong in his innocence, and cannot be brought to
realize the danger he is in," said Susan.

"We shall see him to-night after the service; he comes here to sup with
us: we will show him De Fynes's letter if needs be, or at least tell him
its contents. I think this will convince him of the deadly peril in
which he stands," replied Jefferay.

"God grant it!" cried Susan. "I shall know no rest nor peace now till I
know that his safety is assured. Ralph will be here to-morrow; he is
coming to spend my birthday with us. Oh! it is a heaven-sent
interposition, for he can conduct the Vicar to the coast," she

"Nay, Susan," replied her father, "it is a post of danger, and it will
need discretion as well as valour; I shall see him to Newhaven myself,
if we can persuade him to flee."

For a long time they talked together, maturing their schemes.

"How good and noble it was of Geoffrey de Fynes to send us this
warning!" said Susan; "would that he were here to aid us with his

"There you are wrong, dear girl," replied Jefferay; "he has compromised
himself enough already, and now we must keep him out of our plot

"Yes, I see that it must be so," answered Susan, with a sigh.


The afternoon service took place as usual, the parishioners attending
once more in full force, little thinking of the danger that hung over
the head of their beloved Vicar.

Every word of the simple service seemed to Susan's excited imagination
to be invested with an especial significance, and her sweet voice
trembled with emotion as she sang the words, "Lord, now lettest Thou Thy
servant depart in peace." So also the psalm for the day cheered her with
its ringing words, "Why do the heathen rage?" and she came out of the
church both comforted and refreshed.

In the evening the Vicar came down to the Place in the best of spirits;
the hearty services of the day had filled his heart with joy, and the
evident good-will, respect, and affection of his people for him had
deeply moved his gentle soul.

It was not till supper was over, and the three friends were seated
together in the library, that Jefferay, laying his hand affectionately
upon the Vicar's shoulders, said—

"You are very happy to-night, Vicar; alas! that I should have bad news
for you—news that will mar your happiness, I fear."

Then, as the Vicar looked into his face, without fear or trepidation,
William Jefferay recounted all that had happened, and finally showed him
De Fynes's letter.

"The Lord's will be done!" said the Vicar solemnly.

"It will be done, it always is done, but not always in the manner we
expect," answered Jefferay.

Then Susan intervened.

She drew near to the Vicar's side, took his hand in hers, and said—

"Dear Vicar, we have decided that you must flee before this threatened
storm, for it would break our hearts were you taken from us by cruel
men, and not ours only, but the hearts also of many of your poor people

The Vicar shook his head.

"The hireling fleeth because he is an hireling; the good shepherd giveth
his life for the sheep," he said.

"No, my dear girl," he continued, as he laid his hand affectionately on
her head, "I cannot go—do not urge me!"

Then William Jefferay took another line.

"Listen, my friend," he said, "we want to preserve your life for better
times; and my brother Sir John tells me that all men at Court foresee
that the present state of things cannot last."

Then, dropping his voice to almost a whisper, he continued—

"The Queen's health is failing; the friends of the Princess Elizabeth
are gathering about her, and are taking heart. This may be treason, but,
as God lives, I believe it is true! Save yourself, then, Vicar, for
better times and future labour among the people whose souls God has
committed into your charge!

"Now let me tell you my plans. To-morrow _The Golden Horn_ sets sail
from Newhaven for Ostend. I have interest with the captain, and I can
answer for him that he will accept you as a passenger. We can leave
Chiddingly at break of day, ere people are moving, and I will conduct
you to Newhaven."

"I will give you my answer to-morrow," pleaded the Vicar.

But his two faithful friends would not be thus appeased.

"No, Vicar, that will be too late, for _The Golden Horn_ puts to sea
early in the day, and we should lose our great opportunity."

For a long time the earnest discussion continued, and the hour waxed
late before the reluctant consent was given. To the loving heart of
Susan that hard-won victory brought great joy.

"To-morrow, then, at three o'clock we meet here; the horses will be
ready to start the moment you arrive," said William, as the guest took
his departure from the Place.

"I shall be here—God willing," replied the Vicar.


The next day saw William Jefferay's plan carried out—with the addition
that, on Susan's suggestion, Jefferay should accompany the Vicar to
Holland and see him safely and comfortably settled there.

That same day, Monday, Ralph arrived from London, and it was not long
ere the confiding Susan had revealed to him all that had passed, and
that on Wednesday the Queen's Pursuivant would visit Chiddingly to find
"the bird flown"!

Now Ralph was a fine, strong English youth, endowed by nature with a
very combative disposition and an inordinate love of adventure.

He had thoroughly approved of the action of the Chiddingly rustics when
they dipped the apparitor in the horse-pond, though he had taken no part
in the affair.

The threatened visit of the Pursuivant aroused his indignation to a
white heat, and, unfortunately, at this moment he lacked the restraining
influence of his father's presence at home, nor did he take counsel on
the matter with Susan.

That very day Ralph called about him a few of his young confidants among
the Chiddingly rustics, and at nightfall ten of them met him in
conference in the taproom of the "Six Bells" Inn.

The meeting was "secret and confidential"; none but the ten stalwarts
were admitted to it, and these pledged themselves to secrecy by a solemn
oath which Ralph administered with all due gravity.

Then the meeting having been duly constituted, and Ralph accepted as
their leader by common consent, the "young Squire" (as he was known
among the rustics) set forth in sufficiently guarded language the nature
of the matter which had brought them together, omitting all reference by
name to Geoffrey de Fynes.

Headstrong and thoughtless as Ralph was, he saw the necessity for
secrecy on that point.

It was a remarkable and typical assembly.

These young men were fine young Englishmen, who, though they lacked
great intelligence, possessed the bravery and independence of their

They were absolutely loyal to their Queen, and would have shed their
blood for her and for their country against Spain, or France, or any
other foreign foe with complete devotion.

But there was growing up in their hearts a deadly hatred for the Spanish
nation in general, and for King Philip in particular—nor did the Sussex
people ever forget or forgive the religious intolerance which had
kindled the fires at Lewes, Mayfield, and many another place.

So Ralph found ready material at hand when he proposed to take vengeance
on the Pursuivant as they had done upon the apparitor, reckless of the
anger of the "powers that be."

Before the conspirators separated that night it was resolved that the
Pursuivant and his party should be waylaid on Wednesday morning at a
point in the woods well known to them all—about four miles from

The warrant should be taken from the Pursuivant and be torn to pieces;
there should be no bloodshed if it were possible to prevent it; the
obnoxious visitors should be unhorsed and left to find their way back to
Lewes on foot.

The horses would be driven into the woods; they were Lewes horses, and
would surely find their way home in due time; and, if not, there was
abundant pasture for them in the glades of the forest.

The rustics, under Ralph's leadership, would leave the village at
daybreak on Wednesday morning; they would thus reach the place appointed
for the attack an hour or so before their foes, and would have time to
make all necessary preparations.

Thus the scheme was elaborated, and every detail arranged by the
resourceful lad, Ralph Jefferay.

To him the whole adventure was a matter of supreme delight—little recked
he of the danger attending it!

On the morrow (Tuesday) he mounted his cob and rode to the spot he had
selected for the attack.

There were no high-roads in Sussex, but between the villages and the
county town well-known beaten tracks existed. These were well-nigh
impassable in winter—at other seasons a fair amount of traffic passed
along them.

Between Chiddingly and Lewes lay dense woods—the relics of the mighty
forest of the Andreadsweald of ancient days. Sometimes the trackway led
through forest glades of much beauty; at other times it was a narrow
pass between giant oaks and elms whose rich foliage would occasionally
meet over the head of the traveller, forming a delicious shade in the
hot months of summer.

It was to a place of this latter kind that Ralph came on that fine July

He felt perfectly certain that the Pursuivant would take this route on
the following day; any other would involve a _détour_ of several miles
in making the journey from Lewes to Chiddingly.

Ralph inspected narrowly the trees which grew on both sides of the
track; eventually he seemed to find what he needed, namely, two stout
young saplings facing each other with about twenty feet intervening
between them.

Then he rode slowly home, and in the evening his rustic friends
assembled again, at his summons, in the taproom of the inn, where he
gave them his final instructions.

To Susan he said nothing of the scheme on foot; he would not involve her
or any member of his family in the dangers of the enterprise.

One great regret filled his heart—the absence of his brother William.

The twins were rarely apart from each other, and this visit to
Chiddingly lacked but this one thing for Ralph's perfect happiness; his
brother had been compelled to remain in London, where his uncle, Sir
John, required his services and personal attendance.

A dim grey light filled the eastern horizon on the Wednesday morning as
Ralph made his way to the stables, where he saddled his stout cob.

He bore no weapon—not even the customary rapier without which he rarely
went abroad—for this enterprise was to be carried through without
bloodshed; upon that point he was determined.

His followers would all carry single-sticks, a formidable weapon enough
in the hands of a Sussex rustic! Round his waist he had begirt himself
with a long and strong cord—destined for a special purpose.

Presently he mounted his horse and proceeded at a gentle pace towards
the woods; his men, he knew, were gone on ahead.

A bright red light suffused the eastern sky, the sun was about to rise,
and the twittering of countless birds from every copse filled the air
with sweet music.

A summer mist lay on the meadowland, and big drops of dew bedecked the
leaves of the hazel bushes, gleaming under the rosy light like rubies.

Suddenly the sun rose above the horizon into a cloudless sky, and the
day had begun.

It was a lovely morning, not a cloud flecked the bright azure of the

On his left hand ran the long line of the Sussex downs in graceful
outline—rising at Firle Beacon to a lofty height of some seven hundred

Before him lay the dense forest, the deep embowered shades of Chiddingly

Ralph was in high spirits, and as his stout cob gaily cantered along the
trackway he broke into song, as if in emulation of the sweet-toned larks
rising into the deep-blue sky on quivering wing.

He was now nearing the point of the rendezvous, and he checked his song
as he caught sight of one of his stalwarts trudging along in front of

"You are in good time, Roger," he cried to the man as he overtook him.

"Yes, Mr. William, and the others are all in front of me. I am the rear-

"Good," cried Ralph, "but tell me, Roger, why do you call me Mr.
William?—alas, he is not here."

"I beg your pardon, sir," replied the man with a laugh. "I thought for
the moment that Mr. William had joined us—it was your grey cap which
misled me."

Ralph pulled the cap from his head and looked at it with an air of

"It is true," he said, "I have put on my brother's cap; it was dark when
I left home, and I did not mark the colour of it."

Then he rode rapidly ahead, and in a few minutes he arrived at the

The spot was admirably chosen for the object in view. Here the track
narrowed to a breadth of sixteen or seventeen feet, and the branches of
a giant oak spread right over it.

On each side of the track grew a stout young sapling, as if nature was
conspiring on behalf of the stalwarts. Ralph drew a whistle from his
doublet and blew a shrill note.

In a minute a rustling noise arose in the dense wood, and there emerged
from it nine of his men.

Ralph dismounted, and putting his bridle rein into the hands of one of
the men, said—

"Take him to the hut and tie him up carefully; see that you shut the
door after you."

"Aye, aye, sir," said the man.

Then Ralph began to unwind from his body the stout cord he had brought
with him, with the assistance of his men. One end of it was securely
fastened to the sapling on the right of the road, at a height of one
foot from the grassy soil.

The other end was made sure at the foot of a tree on the left-hand side,
and the rope was drawn taut. The rough grass which grew luxuriantly on
the trackway obscured it sufficiently from view.

Every man of the band carried a short cord round his waist, and Ralph
carefully inspected these cords to see that they were ready for
immediate use.

"Now listen, all of you, to my final instructions," said Ralph, as the
men gathered round him.

"You, Tom and Jim, will mount the oak-tree, climb along that limb which
crosses the track, and be ready to drop on the Pursuivant at the moment
he passes beneath you. Bring him to the ground and bind his arms and
legs with your cords.

"Four of you will hide in the wood on the right-hand side of the track,
and four on the left-hand. The horses will probably be caught by our
rope and will come to ground, their riders being thrown headlong. That
is your moment of attack; spring upon them and rope them securely.

"Should a horse escape the stretched rope, his rider must be brought to
ground by your cudgels. Beware that no man escapes, or our plan will
fail. Above all, remember there must be no bloodshed unless self-defence
require it. Leave the rest to me; now, do you all understand?"

"Aye, aye, sir," answered the rustics in a joyful shout.

"Then get to your posts, all of you; our foes may be here at any
moment," said Ralph.

For a time absolute silence brooded upon the sylvan scene, save for the
humming of insects and the twittering of birds.

Ten minutes, a quarter of an hour, twenty minutes had passed, and yet
there was no sign of approaching horsemen. Ralph's heart began to beat

"Perhaps," thought he, "the Pursuivant has taken the long route over the
downs, and all our well-laid schemes will come to naught," and he
groaned within himself.

He stepped forth from the wood into the track, and looked anxiously in
the direction of Lewes.

No sound struck his ear, but at that moment a flash of light caught his

The sun was shining upon bright steel halberds, and flashed yet brighter
on the cuirasses of two musketeers. They were mounted on stout horses in
war panoply, and behind them rose a tall officer in sombre uniform—it
was the Pursuivant!

Instantly Ralph dived unperceived into the wood, and a low whistle told
his men that the moment for action was nigh. The horsemen were
approaching at a brisk trot; their arquebuses were attached to their
saddles; in their left hands they bore long halberds; they rode as men
all unconscious of danger.

Another moment and they were at hand!

Crash! crash! both horses had struck the fatal rope, and their riders
were thrown violently upon the track. The Pursuivant, who was riding
about three yards in the rear of his men, threw his horse upon its
haunches in blank amazement.

Alas for him! he was at that moment exactly under the great oak limb
which stretched across the track, and ere he could utter a sound two men
dropped upon him, and he was caught in a strong embrace, while Ralph
Jefferay stood at his horse's head, his hand on the bridle. Meanwhile
the eight rustics had sprung from the wood, and ere the halberdiers
could recover from their fall, they were imprisoned by vigorous arms,
and stout ropes were being wound round their bodies.

As the fallen horses struggled to their feet, two rustics sprang to
their heads and held them fast.

"What means this outrage?" shouted the Pursuivant; then, addressing
Ralph, whom he recognized as the leader of the band, he added—

"Do you know, sir, that I am a Queen's officer, and that you stop me at
the peril of your life!"

At a signal from Ralph, his two captors dismounted him from his saddle,
and he came helplessly to the ground.

"Search him," said Ralph, disdaining to make any reply to the luckless

His orders were instantly obeyed, and in a few moments the Pursuivant
was relieved of a big official-looking document, which Ralph forthwith
proceeded to open.

"Listen, my men," he said; "this is a warrant for the apprehension of
the Vicar of Chiddingly. What shall we do with it?"

"Tear it in pieces and scatter it to the winds!" shouted the angry

"At the peril of your lives!" shouted again the enraged officer.

Ralph laughed scornfully in reply, and in another moment he had torn the
formidable document to shreds, tossing them in the air as his followers
had suggested.

"You will suffer for this, sir," growled the astonished officer.

"You are a bold man, Mr. Pursuivant," said Ralph. "You came hither on a
message of death, and now your plans are frustrated and your life is in
our hands! Have you thought of that, sir?"

"You would not dare!" replied the officer.

Ralph laughed aloud, and replied—

"You little know the daring of the people of Sussex when they know that
God is on their side; yet your experience to-day might give you an
inkling of the extent of their hardihood.

"But have no fear," he continued, "your life is safe, and you and your
men can go back to Lewes to tell them how you have been outwitted by
Sussex rustics.

"Yet it does not suit our purposes that your return should be too
quickly made, so we shall tie you to these trees by the roadside and
relieve you of your horses. Before nightfall there will, doubtless, be
passers-by who will release you from your bondage, and then you may
trudge homeward."

Then, ere the enraged Pursuivant could find words for a reply, Ralph
turned to his men and said—

"Quick, men, with the ropes; tie our prisoners securely to the trees by
the roadside, beginning with the officer."

In a few minutes his orders were carried out. Then Ralph bowed with mock
ceremony to the Pursuivant.

"Good-day, sir," he said; "I wish you a speedy release and a pleasant
walk to Lewes!"

And at a signal from their leader the whole gang dived into the forest,
driving the horses in front of them.

Ralph made his way to the hut where his horse had been stabled, and was
soon trotting quietly homewards, his stalwarts following his example on
foot by the well-known bypath of the forest.

No sooner had the gang disappeared than the bound men began to struggle
desperately in a vain endeavour to escape from their bonds, soon to find
all their efforts useless.

Then the Pursuivant spoke.

"You Lewes men ought to be able to recognize some of these ruffians—do
you know their leader?"

"Yes, I know him," replied one of his men; "I have often seen him in
Lewes—'tis Mr. William Jefferay."

"Are you sure?" said the Pursuivant, rejoiced at the news.

"Yes," replied the man, "I know him by his grey cap!"

"Good," said the officer; "you shall hang for this, Mr. William
Jefferay, as surely as there is a sun in the heavens."

The day was wearing on, the sun rose high in the sky, and the bound men
began to feel the pangs of thirst—yet no man passed that way to bring
them release.

They had many times shouted loudly for help—but there was none to make

Evening had come, and the wretched men began to fear that a night in the
woods would be their fate—perhaps death itself from hunger and thirst!
But Providence willed it otherwise.

To their joy a woodman, returning from his daily toil, came slowly down
the track.

He started in amazement as he heard the cries of the prisoners, and came
to the spot where they were bound.

"What now, my masters!" cried the woodman. "What means all this?"

"Don't waste time in talk, man," answered the luckless Pursuivant;
"bring hither thy axe and cut these accursed ropes."

The man hesitated, and his weather-beaten features assumed a shrewd

"You must first tell me who you be, and how you came to this pass; I may
get myself into trouble."

"Fool!" cried the Pursuivant, now getting angry, "I am a Queen's
officer, and these are my men—thy axe, I say, thy axe, and that quick!"

But the man was evidently the master of the situation, and he was not to
be hurried.

Moreover, his sense of cupidity began to be awakened—there was,
doubtless, something to be earned in this matter.

"Well, I doant know but what I med do you this little job," he said
cautiously; "but what is it worth?"

The Pursuivant ground his teeth with rage.

"It will be worse for thee, fool, if thou hesitate any longer; come,
bring thy axe and cut these ropes, I command you."

"Oh, that is it, is it?" said the man; "then I leaves you to yourself
and bid you good e'en!"

And forthwith he began to walk away.

At this the bound men set up a loud howl of entreaty—their worst fears
seemed about to be realized.

The woodman relented, and returned once more to the prisoners.

This time he came straight to the point.

"What will you give me if I cut your cords?" said he, and his eyes
sparkled greedily.

The Pursuivant hesitated ere he replied; his first thought was tinged
with bitter rage: he would make this fellow smart for his greedy

But reflection brought another thought: it did not matter what he gave
this man; they were three to one—when once they were freed they could
make him disgorge his ill-gotten gains!

So he replied, "Come hither, man; put thy hand in my doublet pocket and
take my purse, with all that it contains."

The woodman obeyed, and soon found the purse; it was well lined, and his
greed was satisfied.

But he was no simpleton, and the same thought which had inspired the
Pursuivant's generosity had occurred to him also; he determined,
therefore, on his line of action.

Approaching the tree to which one of the men-at-arms was bound, he
raised his axe, and, with one blow, severed the rope.

"Now loose thy fellows," he cried, as he bounded into the forest.

The liberated man was long ere he freed his companions; by that time the
woodman with the purse in his pocket was deep in the recesses of the

The night was falling, yet a long march lay before the three men ere the
lights of Lewes would gladden their eyes.

Yet, hungry, thirsty, and weary, they reached the county town that
night, nor did the Pursuivant seek rest till the first step in his
revenge was taken, and he had lodged his report with the authorities in
the castle.


                               CHAPTER IV

                             THAMES PIRATES

It was an hour after sunset, and a rich red glow still lingered in the
western horizon, tinging the waters of the Thames as they swirled past
the water-gate of Surrey House with gleams of scarlet and gold.

A young man stood on the brink of the river idly watching the ebb and
flow of the tide.

For some time he had been strolling to and fro on the velvety lawn of my
Lord of Surrey's house at Chelsea, as if awaiting a companion.

He was richly dressed, and the fading light glistened on many a jewel
which bedecked his Court costume. It lit up the diamond cross of S. Iago
of Toledo which he wore upon his breast, and gleamed on the diamonds
which decked the pommel of the dress-sword which hung at his side.

Queen Mary was holding a Court revel this night at Whitehall in honour
of her royal consort, King Philip, who had that day arrived in London
from Spain, to the great joy of the Queen, and Don Diego d'Olivares was
apparelled for the fête.

Don Diego was a typical Hidalgo of purest Castilian blood. His well-
formed features, swarthy complexion, dark lustrous eyes, and glossy
black locks proclaimed the fact.

"My father comes not," he murmured to himself. "If he delay much longer,
I shall leave him to follow me to Court in Lord Surrey's company."

The light was fading off the river, the stars were becoming bright and
lustrous, and the young courtier was growing impatient.

Few boats were on the river; now and then a galley or a wherry would
dart by, and he noticed that the boatmen were lighting their torches.

He bethought him of the beautiful gardens at Whitehall, already gleaming
beneath the light of hundreds of cressets. And his thoughts wandered to
those whom he expected to meet there: the treasurer of Gray's Inn and
his fair niece, Miss Susan Jefferay, the "heavenly twins," as he
facetiously termed her two brothers William and Ralph, and many others.

For Don Diego was a legal student also—perfecting himself in the
knowledge of English law at the Temple, by command of his renowned step-
father, the Spanish Ambassador at the Court of Queen Mary.

He had met the twins at a masque at Gray's Inn, and a strong friendship
had sprung up between the young men.

Thus he mused as he watched the passing boats on the silent waterway.

But Don Diego had not observed a dark wherry in which three men were
seated, passing slowly up-stream.

He had not marked when the two oarsmen therein had thrust their boat
under the shadow of the bank fifty feet higher up, nor did he see them
land stealthily and creep silently into his rear as he sat on a bench on
the top of the terrace.

Suddenly, and ere he could utter a cry for help, a shawl was thrown over
his head, a gag was thrust into his mouth, a cord bound his arms to his
side. Then he found himself lifted aloft by sturdy arms, and, despite
his furious efforts, he was thrown violently into the boat, which at
once pushed into the stream.

One of the oarsmen propelled the boat rapidly in the direction of London
Bridge; his companions proceeded to further secure their captive with
strong ropes, binding both hands and feet.

"That was a good haul, Bill," said one of the ruffians; "he is a fine
bird, and will make good picking!"

"Stop your gab, you fool, till we get aboard the hulk, there are too
many boats about," muttered his companion savagely.

The boat sped rapidly past Whitehall, where the lights were gleaming,
and whence sounds of sweet music arose. They reached the ears of the
poor prisoner as he lay at the mercy of his captors in the bottom of the
boat, and they filled his heart with bitterness.

Should he ever hear those sounds again—would his eyes ever look again
upon the fair scenes of earth?

Such were the thoughts that filled Don Diego's soul; he knew that he had
fallen into the hands of merciless Thames pirates.

The boat was now rapidly nearing London Bridge, and the oarsmen prepared
to shoot one of its narrow arches. The unfortunate captive had struggled
desperately to loose the cords which bound his hands and feet; alas! all
his efforts were in vain—he had been too securely bound by practised

Yet he found it possible, by rubbing his head against the side of the
boat, to disengage the gag which had almost suffocated him.

Then, collecting all his strength, he shrieked forth piercing cries for
"help" until his captors had sprung upon him and had replaced the gag.

But his cries were not unheard, though he knew it not!

In the afternoon of that day William and Ralph Jefferay had gone down-
stream to Greenwich Park, and had strolled awhile beneath the majestic
elms and oaks which begirt the royal palace.

As evening fell they betook themselves to their light boat, and, being
dexterous oarsmen, they made rapid progress against the swift-flowing
tide, now on the ebb.

They had no time to spare, for both the young men had accepted
invitations to the Queen's Revel at Whitehall, and they must needs go
first to Gray's Inn.

They passed London Bridge beneath its widest arch, the central one, and
were now opposite St. Paul's Wharf.

At this moment a piercing cry for help rent the air, and the twins
instantly rested upon their oars, and listened eagerly for a repetition
of the cry. Alas! there was none; the silence of night was again upon
the river.

"Oh, Ralph!" said William, "that was a genuine cry for aid; it came from
some poor creature in deadly peril. Oh! what can we do?"

"We will respond to it, by the help of God," replied Ralph; "it came,
surely, from that dark wherry which I see yonder preparing to shoot the

"I thought so also," said William, "and methought I recognized the voice
of him who called for help; it rang into my very soul, and, if I err
not, it was the voice of our friend Diego!"

"To the rescue! to the rescue!" cried Ralph in reply, and in an instant
they had turned their boat down-stream and were following the suspicious

Their light boat soon brought the heavier wherry into full view. They
could see that there were three men on board of her; two were rowing,
the third held the tiller.

"What are our plans, William?" said Ralph; "do you take the lead, and I
will second you promptly."

"Agreed," replied his brother. "I propose, then, that we follow that
wherry whithersoever it goes. If those men have a captive on board, they
will soon seek to lodge him in durance—that will be our moment of

"For the present we keep within reach of them, but sufficiently far off
to disarm their suspicions.

"Leave the boat to me, I will row, and do you keep a vigilant eye on
their movements. Loosen your poignard in its sheath—I will do the same—
for this matter will not be decided without bloodshed, and may God
defend the right!"

"Amen," said Ralph solemnly, yet with a distinct sound of joyous
exultation in his voice.

No fear, no misgiving, found place in their brave young souls!

On the contrary, they rejoiced in the thought and belief that this was a
call from Heaven, that they were God's ministers in carrying out a work
of mercy and justice! A minute later both boats shot beneath London
Bridge at a furious pace, the temporarily imprisoned tide hurling them
on its strong bosom down-stream.

"They are making for the Surrey side," said Ralph; "it strikes me that
they are going aboard one of those wretched hulks which line the shore;
if so, what then?"

"I think you are right," replied his brother; "they would not dare to
land their victim on shore, where they would at once encounter the
watchmen. If these men are Thames pirates, as I strongly suspect, then
these dark black hulks are their fitting and foul nests.

"Now, brother, take good heed, I beseech you—this is my plan. Presently
the wherry will run alongside a hulk, and one man will leave the boat,
mount the hulk, and proceed to make ready to disembark the captive. This
is our moment to attack! We run in swiftly between the wherry and the
hulk—so detaching them. Then we leap into the wherry, and our poignards
must do the rest. It matters not what becomes of our little boat, a
rescued life is worth a hundred such things."

"Right," said Ralph, "I understand; now put a good way on the boat, for,
if I mistake not, they are running alongside a hulk."

Ralph was correct in his forecast; a moment later the wherry was
alongside of a dark object, upon which one of the oarsmen sprung lightly
with a rope in his hand. Then, with a loud crash, the light boat ran
swiftly in between the two; and, above all, rang the fierce shouts and
curses of the pirates.

But as they rose in their wherry the twins leapt into it—giving it a
strong impulse into the stream.

There was no light on the hulk until the one man left upon it had lit a
torch by whose lurid flame he sought to discover what had happened to
his comrades.

So the fierce fight began in darkness, save for the gleam of the
twinkling stars.

From their first onset the brothers perceived that their suspicions had
been correct, for a bound man lay in the bottom of the boat, motionless
and silent.

The surprise to the pirates had been complete, yet they had time to draw
their long knives, with which they struck desperately at their foes.

It was a deadly struggle—there was no thought of asking or giving
quarter; it was a matter of death or victory! Fierce blows were
exchanged and parried; then the combatants closed, and the wherry swayed
to and fro with a violence that threatened to submerge its occupants
beneath the dark waters of the river.

The first gleam of light from the torch on the hulk fell upon a scene of
fiercest strife—upon men in deadly grip, equally expert with their
weapons, equally matched in strength and courage.

All were wounded, and the fast flowing blood rendered the planks of the
wherry a slippery foot-hold.

Suddenly William's foe lost his balance; in an instant he was hurled
overboard, and sank beneath the waters. His comrade perceived this, and
with a howl of rage he also flung himself into the stream—for he was
desperately wounded, and, as William approached to his brothers aid, he
knew that the end had come.

Then the brothers turned eagerly to each other, and the question arose
from both alike—

"Brother, are you hurt?"

"Not much, I think," said William.

"Mere flesh wounds," said Ralph almost gaily.

Then the twins joined hands and kissed each other on the cheek.

"Let us kneel down and thank God!" whispered William.

So they knelt side by side like two Christian warriors!

Presently they rose, and now they turned their attention to the captive
in the boat, who had ofttime been trampled under foot in the strife.

"He is gagged," said William; "I will unloose him."

For a few moments the rescued man was well-nigh unconscious through the
pain and suffering he had undergone. Then the well-known voices of his
friends the twins fell upon his ears like heavenly music, and he spake.

"Brothers," he said, "will you cut my bonds?"

"By Heaven!" cried William, "_it is_ Diego. Oh, thank God!"

Then they cut his bonds, and the young Spaniard rose with great
difficulty, so benumbed were his limbs.

"Oh! my brothers," he cried, seizing their hands, "you have risked your
lives to save mine, and Heaven has blessed your noble efforts;
henceforth we are more than friends—we are brothers in heart and soul
while life lasts.

"Ah! I see that you are both wounded—you have shed your blood to save my
life! How shall I thank you enough? Oh, may Heaven reward you! But come,
let me examine your wounds; it is my turn now to turn rescuer."

Ere Diego could carry out his intention, William sank suddenly into the
bottom of the boat; he had fainted from loss of blood.

A moment later Ralph lay beside him from like cause.

"Oh, my brothers!" cried Diego in agonizing tones, "you will die before
I can find succour for you; my poor life were not worth so great a

His first thought was to seize the oars and strive to reach Greenwich—
the lights of the town were now plainly visible.

Or he would strive to stanch their gaping wounds, and leave the boat to
be borne forward by the rapid tide. While he thus hesitated, a sudden
light appeared on the surface of the river, and his ears caught the
welcome sound of the oars of a practised crew.

It was a Queen's guardship, and as it rapidly neared the wherry Don
Diego uttered a loud shout for help. His appeal found instant and joyous
response, for on board that ship were his father and Lord Surrey.

A Chelsea boatman had witnessed his capture, and had instantly given the

Yet so long a time had it taken before the guardship at Whitehall wharf
could be sent in pursuit of the pirates, that its aid would have been
too late, but for the Heaven-sent interposition of the twins.

The guardship rapidly drew alongside the wherry, and in a few minutes
the wounded men and Diego were taken on board.

With tender care William and Ralph were carried into the little cabin,
and a ship's surgeon made immediate examination of their injuries.

To the joy of Diego, he reported that though both the brothers were
sorely lacerated, yet no desperate injury had been inflicted—they had
lost much blood, and were thereby rendered unconscious; a few days'
careful nursing was all that was required.

The guardship soon reached Whitehall, and there, litters having been
procured for the brothers, they were forthwith conveyed to their
lodgings in Gray's Inn.

Nor did Don Diego leave them till he had seen them safely consigned to
the care of Miss Susan Jefferay, who had lately come to town from
Chiddingly Place on a visit to her uncle, Sir John.


                               CHAPTER V

                               GRAY'S INN

The morning was yet young when Sir John Jefferay entered the library at
Gray's Inn.

It was a noble room with a splendid vaulted roof. All around were
bookshelves laden with heavy volumes; above the shelves were portraits
of famous lawyers, and some few statesmen whose names were associated
with the history of the Inn.

The floor was thickly carpeted, and scattered here and there were tables
strewn with documents and parchments.

Sir John seemed ill at ease this morning; he did not seat himself, nor
did his books and papers seem to have any attraction for him.

He walked to and fro in the spacious room, his hands crossed behind his
back, his grave but handsome face bore the look of one in trouble or in
deep reflection. He was clad in a suit of rich black velvet, the
sombreness of which was relieved by a ruff of spotless whiteness around
the neck and wristbands of delicate lace of the same colour.

A tap at the door awoke him from reflective mood, and as the door
opened, and Susan Jefferay appeared, a welcoming smile dispelled the
gloom from the Treasurer's anxious face.

And no wonder; for not only was Susan the darling of the childless
Treasurer's heart, but her winsome presence, her bright smile and merry,
dancing eyes were to him like a gleam of sunshine which dispels the
clouds from a dark sky.

"Good news! good news! dear uncle," she cried, as she ran up to him with
outstretched hands. "Dr. Barnes has been with the boys for the last
hour, and I have helped him to dress their wounds; he says I am as
clever at it as many a young surgeon. And they are both doing well—much
better than he had dared to hope for.

"There is no fever in their blood, he says, and they need but good
nursing and careful feeding to be as strong and well as they ever were,
and that in a very few days' time."

"I thank God for that!" said the Treasurer fervently. "I could not sleep
last night," he continued; "the sight of their poor gashed and lacerated
bodies was ever before my eyes."

"And yet no vital point was touched by the murderous knives," replied
Susan. "Oh, how good Heaven has been to us! But, dear uncle, you look
very wearied and sad this lovely morning; now, tell me at once, and tell
me truly, have you breakfasted?"

Sir John laughed lightly as he looked on her smiling face.

"No, my child, I have not yet touched food; but I will go now to the
breakfast room with you, for you must need refreshment as much as I."

The dwelling rooms of the Treasurer closely adjoined the library, and
presently Sir John and Susan were seated at a well-spread table.

For half-an-hour they lingered there, Susan attending to all her uncle's
needs with loving care.

"Now I will go and see the boys," said Sir John, rising from his seat.

"Not yet, dear uncle, I beseech you," replied Susan. "Dr. Barnes has
given them some soothing medicine which will probably induce sleep; they
must not be disturbed for some hours. Moreover, I want you for a brief
time all to myself; I have something to tell you which troubles me."

"Really!" said Sir John, as he stooped down and kissed her cheek, "I
always thought that you and trouble were far apart!"

"Let us go back into the library," said his niece; "we shall be
undisturbed there."

"This sounds serious!" said Sir John.

"It is serious—or at least I fear so," replied Susan.

Once more in the library, the Treasurer seated himself in one of the
great leather chairs, and Susan, bringing a footstool to his side, sat
down beside him.

The two made a striking picture.

Sir John's noble and pensive face was lighted up by a gentle and loving
smile as he gazed down on his niece's fair face.

This morning she had not tied her hair, and the long golden locks fell
in rich profusion over her shoulders. Her morning gown was simplicity
itself; its pure whiteness was unrelieved by colour but for a waistband
of blue silk; she wore no ornament save that on her shapely finger a
ring beset with diamonds glittered in the sunlight—it was surely a love

"Now, Susan, for your revelation," said Sir John, as he took her little
hand and held it caressingly.

"You remember, dear uncle," began Susan, "how Ralph came to us at
Chiddingly last Sunday week, intending to pass at least ten days with
us? Well, he left us on Wednesday night, at which I marvelled."

"So did I," interpolated Sir John.

"I must tell you," continued the fair girl, "that on that Sunday morning
a messenger brought me a letter from Mr. Geoffrey Fynes."

"Ah! ah!" said Sir John, "this grows interesting."

Susan blushed prettily as she looked into her uncle's face, and shook
her head reprovingly.

"Oh, uncle, you must be serious; I think you will be so when I have told
you all!"

"Go on, my child," said Sir John gravely.

"Well, I have the letter here; I meant to show it to you last night;
please read it."

The Treasurer took the letter, and as he read it his face assumed an
increased expression of gravity.

"And did the Pursuivant come—only to find the Vicarage empty?"

"No," said Susan, "and that is my trouble! I showed the letter to Ralph,
little thinking that any harm would ensue from my doing so.

"On the Wednesday, when I expected to see the Queen's officer, Ralph was
absent from home all day, and on making inquiries I found he had gone on
horseback into the woods.

"I began to be anxious, and I made inquiries about him in the stables
and elsewhere. Then I found to my alarm that many of our young men were
missing from Chiddingly that day.

"Ralph returned home in the afternoon, but he would tell me nothing—
'these were not women's matters,' he said. That same night he took the
road for London."

"And since then have you heard nothing?" said Sir John eagerly.

"Not until to-day," replied Susan. "This morning a messenger from
Chiddingly brought me another letter from Mr. Geoffrey Fynes; he did not
know that I had left home for London. It is this letter which fills me
with anxiety and no little astonishment. I will read you the passage
which deals with this business."

Susan's fair face flushed as she glanced over the letter which she held
in her hand; then she read as follows—

    "'There is danger abroad for some members of your house, I fear.

    "'I am revealing a State secret to you at the risk of the loss of
    place, reputation, and, perhaps, even life itself! Yet I do not
    hesitate to tell you, my sweet Susan, all I know, for your interests
    are dearer to me than aught else in this world.

    "'In a few words the matter stands thus—

    "'The Queen's Pursuivant was assaulted by a band of men in
    Chiddingly wood on Wednesday morning; his warrant was forcibly taken
    from him and torn to pieces by the leader of the band. That leader
    was recognized by one of his men as Mr. William Jefferay.

    "'The Queen's officers suffered no personal injury, but they were
    bound to trees in the forest, where they remained until nightfall,
    when a passing woodman released them. The Pursuivant is hastening to
    London to lay the whole matter before the Council.

    "'Warn William that he may be arrested any day, and be brought
    before the Chancellor in the Star Chamber. My advice is that he take
    instant flight abroad.'"

Sir John rose hastily from his seat and walked to and fro in the
library, full of disquietude and fear. Suddenly he turned to Susan.

"This is serious news indeed," he said; "it is a matter of life or
death. Oh, foolish, foolish boy! what madness could have possessed him?

"But tell me, Susan," he exclaimed eagerly, "why is this charge brought
against William? Surely, if the offence was committed, it was Ralph who
was the offender."

"I think I can answer that question," said Susan tremblingly. "I
observed that when Ralph returned home on that fatal Wednesday, he was
wearing William's grey cap; he must have taken it by mistake."

"Ah, I see a gleam of light here," said Sir John quickly. "The warrant
will be made out in William's name.

"Now it so happens, by God's good grace, that the Master of the Rolls,
Sir Philip Broke, was with me all that Wednesday in question; we were
holding a long legal consultation, and William acted as my secretary.

"We will let matters take their course! If the worst befall, it will be
many days before the poor wounded boy can appear before the Court of the
Star Chamber, and, when he does, Sir Philip and I will be a match for
the Queen's Pursuivant."

Then, moving swiftly to Susan's side, he kissed her cheek fondly.

"Fear not, dear child," he cried; "I have hope that God will bring us
safely through this trouble!"

"But if they find out that Ralph is the real culprit?" said Susan

"Yes, there lies the real danger," said Sir John musingly. "Alas, that
he lies helpless on a bed of sickness; but for that he should be in
Holland, with our dear Vicar, ere twenty-four hours had passed."

A sudden thought struck him.

"Think you, Susan, that William knows aught of this mad adventure?"

"I think so," replied Susan, "for the boys have no secrets apart from
each other, and if matters came to the worst, as you say, I believe that
William would plead guilty rather than Ralph should suffer!"

"Oh, boys, boys! how you wring my heart!" cried Sir John, with
uncontrollable emotion.

He resumed his seat, and for a short time remained in deep thought; then
he spoke slowly and with deep emphasis.

"The innocent must not suffer for the guilty—no, God forbid! But let us
hope for the best," he continued, as he marked the growing pallor of
poor Susan's face. "It was a foolish freak, but no man has been injured—
no blood was shed.

"Cheer up, my child, we have powerful friends in Court, even in this
Court of the Star Chamber—the worst of all our Courts! In the last
issue, if all else fails, it may be but a matter of a fine, and we are,
happily, rich enough to pay it; or a short imprisonment, and the boy is
young, and will live through it. Cheer up, Susan; wipe those tears away,
and trust in God that all will come right!

"Now go and see the boys, and let me know if I may see them also,"
continued Sir John.

"I go, dear uncle," said Susan, rising to her feet; "but pardon me if I
urge that you say nothing to them at present about this sad matter;
remember that Dr. Barnes enjoins the most watchful care on our part;
they must have rest and peace both for body and mind."

"I will remember, most wise nurse!" said Sir John, as he rose to open
the door for her with a smile on his grave countenance.

Susan had scarcely left the library than, with a preliminary knock at
the door, Sir John's valet entered it.

Bowing low, the man informed his master that his Excellency the Spanish
Ambassador and his son Don Diego d'Olivares were in the entrance-hall,
and that they craved the honour of a brief interview.

Sir John nodded assent, and a few moments later he heard the steps of
his visitors as they ascended the stairs to the library.

Hastening to the top of the staircase the Treasurer met his
distinguished visitors with deep obeisance.

But the Ambassador was evidently in no mood to stand upon points of

Hurrying forward, with extended hands, he warmly saluted the Treasurer,
yet the anxiety which had prompted this early morning call found
immediate utterance in the first words he spoke.

"Your boys, Mr. Treasurer, are they doing well?"

"Dr. Barnes has just left them, your Excellency, and his report is
altogether favourable; they have many serious flesh wounds, yet, by the
mercy of God, no vital injury has been inflicted; and, if nothing
unforeseen occurs, they will make a rapid recovery to health."

"They are noble boys!" cried the Ambassador, with enthusiasm. "They
saved my son's life at the peril of their own, and with a manly daring
which moves all men to admiration. London is ringing with their praises
to-day; they are the heroes of the hour!"

Then Don Diego intervened with an eager request that he might visit the

"It may not be, young sir," said Sir John. "You know they have a
masterful young nurse in Mistress Susan Jefferay, and I myself have just
been refused an interview with the boys by their stern guardian; they
are to be kept in absolute quiet, she says, or Dr. Barnes will not
answer for the consequences."

So the visitors took their departure, Diego obtaining permission to
return to Gray's Inn in the evening.

Throughout that day visitors poured in at the Treasurer's lodgings with
eager inquiries respecting the lads whose deed of daring had become
public property from the moment when the Queen's guardship came to their

To many of these visitors the lads were unknown personally, though their
handsome faces and strongly knit bodies had attracted much observation
in Gray's Inn and its neighbourhood.

But Sir John was one of the leading men of the day; not only was he
known to be a great lawyer, but he sat in Queen Mary's Parliament as a
member for the City of London, and was fast becoming a strong leader
among the members of the House who were silently ranging themselves as
partisans of the young Princess Elizabeth.

In the evening the young Spaniard, Don Diego, returned to the Inn, and
he brought news with him which Susan promised to impart to her brothers
at the earliest possible moment.

Diego had gone down the Thames that morning on board a guardship in the
hope of discovering the hulk to which his captors would have taken him,
but his efforts had been useless.

There were many suspicious-looking hulks moored on the banks of the
stream, but he had no means of identifying the one he sought.

When the twins were themselves again, they would make another attempt;
he had been lying in the bottom of the boat, fast bound, when one of his
captors had endeavoured to moor the boat alongside the hulk.

But he had other news.

The watermen had picked up the bodies of the two ruffians who had leapt
overboard—they had paid the due penalty of their crime.

The hour was growing late when the young Spaniard took his leave, and
the wearied Treasurer was just congratulating himself that the labours
of the day were over, when the valet once more presented himself in the

"Another visitor—and at this late hour!" said Sir John, somewhat
impatiently. "Make my excuses, Robin," he continued; "say that I have
retired to rest."

"Yes, Sir John", said Robin, yet he lingered as if he had something
further to say.

"What is it, man?" said Sir John, perceiving Robin's hesitation.

"Please, your honour, and craving your pardon, I doubt if the visitor
will take your dismissal thus easily: it is Sir William Anson, the
Sheriff of London."

Sir John rose hastily from his chair, and Susan ran from the couch
whereon she was seated to her uncle's side.

"Oh, uncle," she cried, as she flung her arms around his neck, "he
comes, surely, on the Queen's business; the fatal hour has come. Oh God,
help us!"

"Courage, dear one!" whispered Sir John in her ear. "Sir William is a
friend of mine; his errand may be but one of friendly inquiry. Compose
yourself; remain in the library, you may hear all that he has to say."

Then he bade Robin admit the late visitor.

A moment later the Sheriff entered the room, bowing low to both its
occupants as he did so.

He was a man of stately presence, his dress of sombre colours yet of
rich material.

He advanced towards Sir John with extended hand, and his handsome face
was lit up with a cordial smile. Susan's heart was reassured as she
marked his friendly behaviour; but Sir John's eyes were fixed upon a
small gold chain of office which the Sheriff wore around his neck.

"He comes officially, on the Queen's business!" said Sir John within

Sir William seated himself at the invitation of the Treasurer.

"Tell me, first, Sir John," he said, "how your gallant nephews fare. It
is a scandal to London that such an outrage could happen on our own
river; but we are overrun with foreigners, outlaws and riffraff of all
sorts; we must see to it!"

Then, hearing a good report of the lads, he thanked Heaven for the news,
and therewith glanced nervously towards Susan.

Sir John perceived his difficulty.

"You have something private to say to me, Sir William," he said; "you
may say it before my niece, I have no secrets from her."

"I can understand that, Sir John," said the gallant Sheriff, with a
courtly smile as he bowed towards Susan. "I will therefore tell you
plainly and fully why I am come to you at so untimely an hour.

"Yet let me ask you both to keep my visit from the knowledge of others,
for I am exceeding my office to-night, and might be called in question
for what I do."

Sir John and Susan gravely bowed assent.

"It is respecting one of your noble boys, William Jefferay, that I have
come hither. To-night I come as your friend and well-wisher, but to-
morrow, alas! I shall bring you a warrant for his arrest in the Queens
name and by order of the Court of the Star Chamber."

Sir John gave a low groan, and poor Susan hid her fair face in her

"You will ask me why I come to you to-night with this sad news," said
the Sheriff, with real sympathy in his kindly heart. "I will tell you
why I come. My warrant commands me to possess myself of William
Jefferay's body, and to commit it forthwith to Her Majesty's prison at
the Fleet.

"Be not surprised, not alarmed, therefore, when to-morrow morning I
serve the warrant with all due state and ceremony. Yet will I not attach
his body until he shall have regained his strength if you, Sir John,
will give me your word of honour that no attempt at escape be made on
his behalf."

"I give you my word, Mr. Sheriff," said Sir John, "and I count it an act
of friendship on your part that you have thus given me warning."

The Sheriff rose from his seat, advanced towards Sir John, and shook his
hand heartily.

"My good friend," said he, "would to God that I could do more for you!
but keep a good heart, for you have many a friend both at Court and in
the city."

So saying, the kind-hearted Sheriff made his adieux and took his


Susan had borne up bravely during this brief interview; yet, when the
Sheriff had gone, and she and Sir John were left to themselves, her
fortitude gave way, and she began to sob gently.

Sir John moved to her side and took her hand caressingly.

"Is this the brave and trusty nurse," he said to her in a low voice, "of
whom I was so proud to-day?

"Oh, Susan, dear Susan, have faith in God; let us kneel together and
commit the whole matter to His most gracious keeping!

"Now go to rest, dear child," said Sir John, as they rose from their
kneeling posture.

"Presently, dear uncle, I will seek rest," replied Susan; "but I have
work in the sick-room awaiting me, and I keep watch there the first half
of the night."

Then, bidding her uncle "Good-night," Susan lit a wax candle and quitted
the library.


For a full hour the Treasurer sat alone in deep thought. He resolved
that on the morrow he would send a trusty messenger to the Hague, who
should inform his brother of all that had passed, and the present
position of affairs.

How he longed for the presence of William—how valuable would his counsel
be to him at this crisis!

Yet it could not be, for it was known full well to those in power that
William had aided the Vicar of Chiddingly to escape, that he had gone
with him to Holland.

He therefore lay under grave suspicion, and must remain an exile until
happier days.

At length, weary and worn, the Treasurer betook himself to rest.


                               CHAPTER VI

                            THE STAR CHAMBER

The Star Chamber was a part of a range of buildings on the east side of
Palace Yard at Westminster.

Its peculiar name did not find its origin in any distinctive feature of
the building, but rather from the fact that, by order of King Richard I,
the "Starra," or Jewish Covenants, were deposited there.

In the reign of Edward III large additions were made to the Palace at
Westminster, including St. Stephen's Chapel, and a new council chamber
henceforth to be known as the Court of the Star Chamber.

This was the popular name of the building; the Court itself was known
officially as "The Lords of the Council sitting in the Star Chamber."

It was instituted in the reign of Henry VII (A.D. 1487), and the number
of judges varied, from time to time, from twenty-six to forty-two; the
Lord Chancellor, or the Lord Keeper, was the President.

It took cognizance of perjury, riot, and conspiracy. The building was
large, and richly decorated. The walls were panelled to the ceiling,
great bow windows admitted light and air.

The ceiling was ornamented with carved wood-work, and was richly

It was in this building, and before this august tribunal, that William
Jefferay appeared, in the month of September, A.D. 1557, on the charge
of riot and assault.


A fortnight had passed since the warrant had been duly served by the
Sheriff, and for the past three days William had been an inmate of the
Fleet prison.

The boys had rapidly regained their health, though William still carried
his arm in a bandage, and the pallor of his handsome face showed the
stress through which he had passed.

As soon as the state of their health had permitted it, their uncle had
revealed to them the dangerous position in which William stood.

As Susan had surmised, "the brothers had no secrets," and Ralph's
adventure in the Chiddingly woods was well known to William.

But to both of them the news that William, and not Ralph, was deemed the
culprit, was a matter of profound amazement, and, on Ralph's part, of
intense indignation.

"Oh, uncle," he cried, "this may not be! Mine was the folly, if folly it
was, and on my head must fall the consequences, be they what they may!"

An approving smile lit up Sir John's noble and dignified face as he

"I knew that would be your first thought, and you may yet have to pay
the penalty of your wild freak—Heaven only knows! But in this mistake of
identity lies, perhaps, the path of safety, and the Master of the Rolls
agrees with me that it is our wisest course to let the matter proceed."

With great reluctance Ralph consented, with the assurance of his uncle
that if aught went amiss, and William was not acquitted, the whole truth
should be told.


Three days later the Sheriff appeared at Gray's Inn with much ceremony,
and Ralph saw his brother carried off a prisoner to the Fleet.

It was the first moment of real anguish in his young life, and but for
the sweet influence of his sister, Ralph would have then proclaimed
himself the offender and demanded the release of his brother.

From the library window Ralph and Susan had seen the departure of
William under the escort of the Sheriff's guard, and the boy's pale face
was wrung with so intense an agony that Susan's fears were strongly

"Oh, Ralph," she cried, "for the love of God do nothing rashly, bring
not your uncle's plans to confusion; have faith that all will come right
in Heaven's good time."

She laid her hand upon his shoulder and drew him lovingly towards her,
seeing that he was irresolute.

"Have you no pity for _me_?" she said. "Think you that I do not suffer
with you, and with our beloved uncle also?"

A moment more, and the crisis was past; the prisoner and his escort had
moved out of sight, and Ralph sank exhausted upon a couch: his barely
recovered strength had failed him.


Three days had passed since William had been committed to the Fleet
prison, where, thanks to the Sheriff, the prisoner had been granted a
private room, and every alleviation of his hard lot which the Governor
could give to him.

He had been permitted to receive visitors, and each day Sir John and
Susan had spent some hours with him. On the evening of the third day
Simon Renard, the Spanish Ambassador, had brought the great news to
Gray's Inn that the Council of the Star Chamber would meet on the
morrow, and that William's fate would be then decided.

That night the friends of the unhappy boy met in the library at Gray's
Inn to decide on their course of action.

The day had been hot, the evening was sultry, and the windows of the
fine room were thrown open to admit the little air that stirred the
leaves of the plane-trees in the square.

The room was somewhat dimly lit by wax candles, and small silver lamps,
fed with perfumed oil, sent forth a languorous odour.

Don Simon Renard had much to tell the gentlemen who sat around him,
among whom were the Lord Mayor of London, the Master of the Rolls, and,
of course, Sir John Jefferay.

To all of these men the constitution of the Star Chamber and the course
of procedure at the Council Meeting were perfectly well known, and the
personal characteristics of every member of that dread tribunal (each of
whom acted as a judge) were equally familiar to them.

Don Renard told them that the Chancellor himself, the Earl of Arundel,
would preside, and that with him would sit the Earl of Pembroke, the
Lords Paget and Rochester, Sir William Petre, and many others.

Cardinal Pole rarely sat at the Council—yet, at the Ambassador's
especial solicitation, he had promised attendance on the morrow.

No strangers had a right to be present in the Court. Nevertheless, the
Chancellor had granted the Ambassador's request that Sir Philip Broke
and Sir John Jefferay might be admitted on this occasion.

The accused person was not allowed the privilege of the assistance of
"Counsel," excepting upon the special invitation of the President.

"Our chief hope," said the Ambassador, "lies in the fact that the Master
of the Rolls and the Treasurer of Gray's Inn can give in evidence that
William was, at the time of the assault, actually with them in the
Library of Gray's Inn, which should conclusively prove that he cannot
possibly be guilty of the offence now charged against him."

"Beyond a doubt," answered Sir John; "yet my mind misgives me on one
point. The Pursuivant," he continued, "may fail to identify William as
his assailant; he may have heard of the extraordinary resemblance of the
twin brothers. And if William be acquitted, he may shift the charge to
Ralph and demand his arrest."

"I think you are distressing yourself needlessly, my friend," answered
the Ambassador, "for let me tell you that this very day the Pursuivant
was taken to the Fleet that he might see the prisoner as he took his
daily exercise in the yard. He saw him, and was instantly convinced that
William was the man who had assaulted him in Chiddingly wood. Moreover,
we have no reason to suppose that he is aware of Ralph's existence."

"I am afraid that the last-named circumstance is too well known both in
London and at Lewes," interposed the Lord Mayor, "especially since the
occurrence of the gallant episode on the Thames. I begin to think that
Sir John's fears are well founded, and that after all our wisest course
would be to send Ralph across the water, and that instantly; he is now
quite strong enough to travel."

Sir John smiled sadly as he replied—

"You do not know my two nephews sufficiently well, my Lord Mayor, if you
think that scheme possible. Let me tell you that they are so linked
together in brotherly love that Ralph would never consent to save his
own life if thereby he endangered William's safety. Nay, more, let me
assure you that if our plans failed, and William were condemned, Ralph
would at once make a full confession to the authorities."

"They are two noble boys," cried Don Renard, with generous enthusiasm,
"equally great in love and strife; have no fear for them, my dear Sir
John. Heaven will not suffer them to pass their young lives in a prison

Thus the friendly conclave debated until the hour grew late, and the
heavy air within the library became oppressive.

As night had deepened the sultry atmosphere had given place to storm and
tempest, and a heavy rain was falling.

The lights had grown dim, but the noble proportions of the library were
almost continuously lit up by the flashes of lightning, and the deep
diapason of the rolling thunder shook the ancient Inn.

The serving men of the friends in Council were awaiting their masters
with carriages in the Square, and as St. Paul's clock struck the hour of
midnight Sir John's guests took their departure.

The day had already begun which was "big with fate" for the twin

The storm was abating, and Sir John stood at the open window watching
the fleeting clouds and the occasional glimmer of stars emerging from
the gloom. A light step across the thickly carpeted floor did not catch
his ear, but a caressing arm thrown round his neck told him that Susan
was there.

"To rest, dear uncle, to rest," said she; "for this day will bring thee
labour and toil for body and mind! Yet tell me briefly, does all go
well—do our friends give us cause to hope for the best?"

Then Sir John comforted her distressed heart by telling her in a few
words their schemes for the great event in the Star Chamber, and their
hopes for a joyful delivery from their cares, and Susan at length sought
her chamber somewhat cheered.


The day broke fine and cloudless.

The sun shone through the painted windows of the great Court House of
the Star Chamber, casting a thousand richly tinted shadows on the marble
floor. The gilt stars in the roof glittered, and rich beams of light
fell on the beautiful panelling which lined the walls of the noble hall.

It was yet early morn, and the only occupants of the Court were the
ushers, attendants and servants who were making preparations for the
meeting of the Court. At ten o'clock armed warders took up their
positions within the hall; a few minutes later the Sheriff with a strong
force of javelin men made his entry; he had brought up the prisoner,
William Jefferay, from the Fleet prison.

The boy's handsome face was deadly pale, forming a strong contrast with
his dark, flashing eyes. There was no sign of fear or misgiving on the
part of the youthful prisoner as he took his place in the dock, a warder
standing on each side of him.

Presently a small group of gentlemen entered the hall to whom all
present showed great deference, and they were shown to benches reserved
for distinguished visitors who held permits from the Lord Chancellor.

William's eyes lit up with pleasure, and his pale face flushed as he
recognized Don Simon Renard and his stepson Diego, Sir John Jefferay,
and the Master of the Rolls among the group.

When all were seated a solemn silence ensued, shortly to be broken by
the clarion tones of silver trumpets.

The Lords of the Council were entering the Chamber in a stately
procession vested in their robes of office. Every point of the ancient
form and ceremony was rigidly observed.

All men stood, cap in hand, until the Chancellor had taken his seat;
then, at a sign from him, a richly bedizened herald stepped forth and
proclaimed that the Court was opened.

On the Chancellor's right hand sat Cardinal Pole. Between these famous
men there was a marked and striking contrast.

The Earl of Arundel was a dark-featured man of some fifty years of age;
his black beard and moustache, worn in the Tudor style, was streaked
with grey. A soldier, a statesman, a courtier of immense power and
influence, he had steered his political barque with supreme skill
through the stormy period of the English Reformation, when many greater
than he, and more highly placed, had suffered shipwreck. Just now he was
the acknowledged leader of the Spanish faction at Court, and no man
stood higher than he in the favour of King Philip.

To-day his sombre face had a marked expression of sternness, which
underwent a sudden change as the Cardinal bent towards him and whispered
something in his ear. Arundel was listening to the Cardinal with
unwonted deference, and his grim features relaxed into a friendly smile
as he made reply in low tones.

From the bench where he sat Sir John's keen eyes had noted that both
these illustrious judges were bending close, inquisitorial glances on
the boy prisoner; he was evidently the subject of their secret

"The Chancellor seems to be in a stern frame of mind to-day," whispered
Sir John to Sir Philip Broke.

"I have seen him look yet more fierce," replied the Master of the Rolls.
"I was with him on the day when he arrested his brother-in-law the Duke
of Northumberland, when the gleam of his dark eyes struck terror into
the Duke's soul! But be of good courage, Sir John; mark how the
Cardinal's gentle smile is thawing his icy reserve, and remember his
Eminence hath promised Don Renard to give us all the aid in his power."

"Thank God for that!" whispered Sir John in reply.

Cardinal Reginald Pole, Archbishop of Canterbury, was perhaps the
foremost Englishman of his age.

An aristocrat of the finest type, with the royal blood of the
Plantagenets in his veins, he was, above all things, an ecclesiastic of
stainless life and reputation.

Those who differed from him _toto cælo_ in religious matters were eager
to acknowledge his incorruptibility and devotion to duty.

Men remembered how boldly he had withstood the threats and cajoleries of
King Henry VIII; how, later, he had shown a bold front to the Vatican
itself, and to the most dreaded tribunal in the world, the "Holy

There was something eminently pleasing and attractive in the face,
bearing and physique of the great Cardinal. Notwithstanding his long
sojourn in foreign lands, he was a typical Englishman.

He wore his hair long—it hung in profusion on his broad shoulders, and,
like his long bushy beard, was of a rich brown colour.

His fine expressive face was somewhat colourless, but it was lit up by
the deep-blue eyes of the Plantagenet race—eyes which at times gleamed
with tenderness and pity.

He was spare in body, and his hands were as small and as delicately
shaped as those of a woman.

The whispered conversation between the Chancellor and the Cardinal had
come to an end, and for a moment a deep silence brooded in the Court.

Then, at a signal from Lord Arundel, the Clerk of the Court rose and
"called on" the case which was occupying the minds of all men present.

"The Queen _v._ William Jefferay; prisoner at the bar," he cried in loud
tones, "you are charged that on the 17th of July last you committed an
assault upon the Queen's Pursuivant; how say you—are you guilty or not

William bowed low to the Chancellor, and in subdued but distinct tones

"Not guilty, my Lord."

"Let us hear the witnesses," said Lord Arundel, and thereupon the
Pursuivant arose; behind him stood his assistants.

There was something vindictive and threatening in the attitude and voice
of the Pursuivant—a note of triumph rang out with his words.

He felt sure of his case, and positively sure of the identity of the
accused with his assailant in the woods of Chiddingly.

In slow and measured terms the Pursuivant gave his evidence, telling the
tale of the assault in the woods in full detail.

His two halberdiers, as witnesses of the attack upon the Queen's
officer, bore testimony to the truth of the charge made against the

The Court was but thinly attended; the general public could only obtain
admission by invitation, and this was rarely accorded.

Yet among those present were many—even in the rank of the august judges—
who knew something of young Jefferay and had heard of his recent deed of
daring on the Thames.

Among these a deep feeling of dismay and commiseration arose, so clear
and undeniable appeared the evidence of the young prisoner's folly;
already they seemed to see the executioner clipping the ears and
slitting the nose of his victim!

It was at this critical moment that the Cardinal again turned towards
the Chancellor and whispered something in his ear; Lord Arundel nodded
assent to his suggestion.

Cardinal Pole thereupon addressed the Court. The Cardinal's voice was
soft and musical; he spoke in low and gentle terms, yet was he
distinctly audible even to the furthest extremity of that great hall.

"There is a mystery in this case," he said, "and it does not lie upon
the surface. Some of us are not convinced as to the identity of the
accused, notwithstanding the evidence of the Queen's officers. By
permission of the Lord Chancellor I call upon the Treasurer of Gray's
Inn, Sir John Jefferay, and the Master of the Rolls, Sir Philip Broke,
to give evidence upon this vital point."

An excited murmur passed among the audience as Sir John Jefferay, in
obedience to this command, rose in his place and proceeded to the
witness-box, and addressing the Court, said—

"With your permission, my Lords, I will first ask for the date and the
hour of the alleged assault."

Much marvelling, the Pursuivant rose and said in reply—

"It was on the seventeenth day of July, and the hour was about eight
o'clock in the morning."

"Thank you, Mr. Pursuivant," replied Sir John, with great gravity; then,
turning towards the Bench of Judges, he said—

"On that day, and at that hour, I held a consultation in the library of
Gray's Inn with my honourable friend the Master of the Rolls, here
present. My secretary took notes of our conference, and was with us all
that morning. The secretary in question was Mr. William Jefferay, the
prisoner at the Bar!

A thrill of emotion passed through the Court at these words, and but for
the august presence in which they stood, the air would have been rent
with cheers. The accusers of William Jefferay, and those that sided with
them (for there were some), were petrified with astonishment.

Yet even at that supreme moment Sir John observed that one of the
halberdiers clutched the Pursuivant by the shoulder and began to whisper
eagerly to him, whereat his master's woebegone face began to light up
with a grim smile.

A sudden hush fell on the Court as the Earl of Arundel spoke.

"Call the Master of the Rolls;" and as Sir Philip Broke entered the
witness-box, the Chancellor said, "Do you corroborate the evidence of
the last witness?"

Sir Philip Broke, bowing low, said—

"In every detail, my Lord."

"Then it only remains for us to dismiss the case, and we do hereby
dismiss it," said the Chancellor.

"My Lord," cried the Pursuivant, rising hastily in his place, "my Lord,
in this case——"

But the Chancellor instantly silenced the speaker.

"There is no case," he said; "the matter is at an end."

The Pursuivant sank back in his seat, but his eyes were full of malice
and baffled rage.

Then the warders stood aside and beckoned to William to leave the dock.

As he descended, his friends clustered around him, and his pale face
flushed with excitement as they poured forth their congratulations.

Foremost among them was the Spanish Ambassador and Don Diego; the latter
flung his arms round his friend's neck and kissed him lovingly on both

Presently, with Sir John and Sir Philip on either side of him, William
emerged into the street, and there a great crowd of law students awaited

These were his "sodales"; with them the twin brothers were universally
popular, and their recent exploit on the Thames had aroused that
admiration to a frenzy.

So it was amid a cheering and uproariously excited escort that the party
made its way to Gray's Inn, where Susan and Ralph awaited them.

They had not been permitted to attend the Court, where no ladies found a
place, and as for Ralph, perhaps there were other reasons wherefore Sir
John commanded him to abide at home!

Oh, it was a moment of bliss when Susan flung herself into the arms of
her brother—such a moment as Heaven rarely grants to mortals!

"Oh, William!"

"Oh, Susan!"

Then the brothers embraced, and, after the manner of the times, kissed
each other affectionately on the cheek. Hand in hand the three happy
young people ascended to the library, where William related to eager
listeners the moving scenes which had been enacted that morning in the
Star Chamber.


                              CHAPTER VII

                          THE ARREST OF RALPH

"Come, children, come with me to the dining-room," cried Sir John with
cheerful voice, as he entered the library. "Do you not know that the
body has its needs as well as the mind, and some of us have scarce
broken our fast this day; indeed, to judge by William's pale face, I
doubt whether he has breakfasted."

And therewith he led the way into the fine old dining-room of Gray's
Inn, where a large party of friends awaited them.

It was a noble room, wainscoted to the ceiling in dark oak, and adorned
with many portraits of the legal luminaries of past days.

Around the great open fire-place was grouped a throng of friends all
eager to congratulate the Treasurer and his family on the joyful event
of the day. Among them were the Spanish Ambassador and his son Don
Diego; the Lord Mayor and Sir Philip Broke were there, and many of Sir
John's brother members in Parliament.

"Where is our friend the Sheriff?" asked Sir John of the Lord Mayor; "he
promised to be here."

"He was here just now," replied the Lord Mayor, "but he has been
summoned to perform some duty connected with his office; he asked me to
explain his absence to you."

A cold chill fell upon the heart of Sir John as he heard these words—was
it a premonition?

Then, regaining his usual composure, he cried with a loud and cheerful

"Be seated, friends; the dinner waits, and some of us are as hungry as

The chaplain of the Inn, who was present as a guest, said grace, and a
merry clatter of knives and forks ensued.

Next to Sir Philip Broke sat the Spanish Ambassador, and, as the meal
progressed, Sir Philip fell into conversation with his neighbour, with
whom his high office brought him into frequent communication; and in
social life also they were excellent friends.

"Tell me, your excellency," he said in a low voice, "how will your royal
master view the proceedings of this day?"

"Somewhat bitterly, I fear," replied Don Renard. "It was only yesterday
that he expressed to me his amazement that a royal officer could be so
treated as was our friend the Pursuivant. He was eager to see the
perpetrator of the assault brought to condign punishment.

"'In our own land,' he said to me, 'we should have broken the miscreant
upon the wheel without judge or jury; but these islanders are so
phlegmatic, and stand so much on forms and ceremonies.'

"You must pardon King Philip, my friend, for his outspokenness; it is
true that the customs of Spain and England differ considerably."

"Yes," replied Sir Philip dryly, "and I thank God for it."

Whereat the Spanish Ambassador smiled grimly.

Presently he spoke again to the Master of the Rolls. He had been
attentively watching the twin brothers, who sat at the table side by

"By St. Iago," he said in a low voice, "I have been looking at the twin
brothers for the last five minutes, and at this moment I cannot tell you
which is William and which is Ralph; I do not think that the world
contains another so perfect example of the 'Dioscuroi'; no man could
tell them apart."

Sir Philip shivered inwardly at these words, and he thought within

"Does our friendly Ambassador begin to suspect the legal trick by which
our case was won? If so, the sooner we get Ralph across the water the

At that moment his eye fell upon Don Diego, who sat next to Susan, with
whom he was holding eager discourse.

"No, no," thought he, "no harm can come to our twins from that quarter;
he can never forget the noble daring that saved his son's life."

As a rule no sound from the outside world ever penetrated the stillness
of the dining-hall of Gray's Inn, yet to the watchful ears of some who
sat at that festive table it seemed as if armed men were in movement in
the great courtyard.

No word of command, no treading of iron-girt men, no clash of arms, but
only a dull sense of approaching danger!

Suddenly Sir John's major-domo entered the hall and passed rapidly to
his master's side as he sat at the head of the table.

Sir John noted not that the man's face was ghastly pale, nor that his
terror-stricken tongue could scarce find utterance for his words.

He stooped towards Sir John, and in low tones said—

"Sir John, the Deputy Sheriff is outside the hall—on the staircase."

Sir John started.

"Is it not the Sheriff?" he said; "we expected him as a guest to-day."

A dead silence had fallen in the hall, the guests were listening

"No, Sir John, it is Mr. Deputy Sheriff," replied the major-domo.

"Bid him enter," said his master.

"He is not alone, Sir John; he has halberdiers with him."

Sir John rose, as he said again—

"Bid him enter!"

The trembling servant obeyed, and, proceeding to the end of the Hall,
threw open the great folding doors.

All the guests had now risen to their feet; all knew that some
catastrophe was at hand.

The men looked stern, and, for the most part, undaunted; but from the
many ladies present came the sound of choking sobs and subdued cries.

The Deputy Sheriff had entered, and with him came a posse of halberdiers
in full armour.

As the armed men drew up in line within the hall their leader stepped
forward and bowed low to Sir John—waiting, apparently, to be questioned.

"Mr. Deputy Sheriff," said Sir John in firm tones, "you would be welcome
here this day, but for this array at your back; what means it?"

"I crave your pardon, Sir John Jefferay, yet the servants of the Queen
must do their duty and obey the royal command, even if it be bitter and

"It is true, sir", replied Sir John with dignity, "and you need no
pardon from me; declare to us your business here."

The Deputy Sheriff produced a formal-looking document, and unfolding,
read forth a warrant from the Sheriff, commanding the arrest forthwith,
in the Queen's name, of Mr. Ralph Jefferay."

"On what charge, sir?" demanded Sir John.

"On the charge of riot and assault," replied the Deputy Sheriff, and
forthwith he handed the warrant to Sir John.

It was a formal document from the Court of the Star Chamber, bidding the
High Sheriff to attach the body of Mr. Ralph Jefferay, to convey the
prisoner to the Fleet prison, and to produce him before the Chamber on
the following morning at ten o'clock.

Sir John had grown pale as marble, and it was evident to all that he was
deeply stricken, yet he said in firm tones—

"Do your duty, sir."

The Deputy Sheriff looked round the hall, and his eyes rested on the
twin brothers, as they stood pale yet undismayed side by side.

The officer moved towards them, then scanned them both with close but
dubious gaze.

"Which of you is Mr. Ralph Jefferay?" he said at length.

"I am Ralph Jefferay," said Ralph in unfaltering tones.

The Sheriff laid his hand on his shoulder and said with loud voice—

"I arrest you, Mr. Ralph Jefferay, in the name of the Queen!"

Then, turning to his halberdiers, he pointed to Ralph, and immediately
two men placed themselves at his side.

"Disarm the prisoner," said the officer in sharp words of command.

"There is no need," said Ralph, instantly unbuckling his sword, and
placing it upon the table.

"Are you ready, sir? then follow me," said the Deputy Sheriff, as he
turned to leave the hall with his prisoner.

"One moment, Mr. Deputy Sheriff," cried Sir John. "Can you grant your
prisoner a brief space wherein to make his adieux?"

"Certainly, Sir John," replied the officer courteously, "if it be done
briefly and in my presence."

Then Ralph moved towards his uncle; he would have knelt on one knee
before him and have kissed his hand; but Sir John caught him to his
breast, and kissing him on both cheeks, said—

"Farewell for the present, dear Ralph; keep a brave heart and good
courage. Trust in God! Esperez toujours, toujours esperez!"

William's turn came next. Ah, what a parting was this! Undying love sat
in their eyes as they kissed each other, and William said—

"Would God I had died for thee, my brother!"

And last of all came Susan, her sweet face suffused with tears and her
grief so great that she was voiceless as she embraced her brother and
kissed his lips again and again.

Many of the guests then crowded round, each with a loving word to
comfort and console.

Then the Deputy Sheriff gave the signal, his men closed round the
prisoner, and in a moment the march began which was to end in the Fleet

When the Sheriff's posse had left the hall, and the doors were closed, a
great silence fell upon the assembled guests; all looked upon Sir John,
who, in reply to their questioning gaze, spoke briefly with agitated

"My friends," said he, "a great trouble has fallen upon my house; I am
smitten and afflicted, yet do I not despair! I will not disguise to you
the terrible fact that my nephew Ralph has committed a crime against the
laws of his country, and I know that to-morrow, when he will stand his
trial in the Court of the Star Chamber, he will plead 'guilty.'

"Yet the deed he committed was but a boyish freak, and no blood was shed
by him or his fellows. But in the eyes of the law it was 'conspiracy,'
and the penalty may be imprisonment, with a heavy fine, or even the
pillory and mutilation."

At these words a shudder ran through the throng, and some of the ladies
wept uncontrollably.

The men's faces were sternly set, they maintained a rigid silence.

Then Sir John spoke again.

"Yet I do not despair, and 'I lift mine eyes unto the hills, to God,
from whom cometh my hope.' And we have many friends, powerful both in
the Court and in the city. No, I cannot, and will not, despair, so help
me God!"

There was something inexpressibly solemn and noble in Sir John's
utterance and manner; his fine face was full of anguish, but his heart
quailed not.

Then came a sudden interruption: the Spanish Ambassador asked permission
to speak, and all strained forward to hear what Don Renard had to say.

"Sir John and friends all," he began in low tones but with distinct
utterance, "it is known to you that the twin brothers have a special
claim on my sympathy and can command whatsoever aid I can give them in
their hour of need; but for their noble courage I should have been a
childless man this day!

"The proceedings in the Star Chamber to-morrow will probably be brief,
for the accused will admit his guilt; the result is certain—a heavy

"But, like Sir John, I do not despair; _then_ will be the hour for
action on the part of Mr. Ralph's friends. I do not hesitate to lay
before you my own plan of action; for I am persuaded that all who now
hear me will feel the necessity for absolute secrecy on this great
matter. It is known to many of you that Cardinal Pole is already well
disposed towards Mr. Ralph—it was manifestly shown in the trial to-day.

"When sentence has been given I will ask his Eminence to accompany me to
Whitehall, and there we will ask of Queen Mary the exercise of her royal
clemency for our young friend. I do not think we shall plead in vain!"

At these words a murmur of satisfaction and reassurance passed amid his
almost breathless audience.

But Sir Philip Broke rose to speak, and all were silent again.

"Has your Excellency thought of the possibly adverse influence of King
Philip in this matter?" he asked.

"Yes," replied Don Renard, "it was my first thought, and I own that it
troubled me. But, as a matter of fact, King Philip has no jurisdiction
in this case; it is a matter for the Queen's own decision, and if the
Cardinal and I can incline her royal heart to a merciful view of this
young man's escapade (for it is nothing more), the King would find it
difficult to sway her decision. But I will see the King also, and I am
by no means persuaded that he will turn a deaf ear to my appeal."

Nothing more was said, and the guests began to depart. The Lord Mayor
remained to the last; he was about to accompany Sir John to the Fleet
prison that they might assure themselves that every arrangement which
could ameliorate the lot of the unhappy prisoner should be made.

The day was drawing towards its close, a day which had opened so
brightly for Susan and William. They sat together in the library with
hands interclasped, their hearts charged with an overwhelming sense of
coming woe, their grief too great for words.

Yet when Sir John returned from the Fleet prison and told them that
Ralph was occupying William's old room, and that the great Cardinal had
already sent him a message of condolence and comfort through their young
friend Don Diego, their hearts were comforted, and hope sprang up in
their stricken souls.


                              CHAPTER VIII

                              THE VERDICT

The Star Chamber once more!

For an hour before the sitting of the Court an unwonted excitement
pervaded its precincts—for the news of the tragic events of the
preceding day had gone abroad till London was ringing with it.

The warders within the building were doubled in number, and a strong
party of halberdiers kept order in the purlieus of Westminster.

The reason of this display of force was soon manifested.

From the Temple and from Gray's Inn the young law students had assembled
in great strength, and with them were the 'prentices from the City,
brandishing their clubs and evidently eager for a fray.

Among the young "limbs of the law" the twin brothers were well known,
and their recent exploit on the Thames had raised their popularity to a
burning heat, while the 'prentices found sufficient justification for
their presence in the fact that Sir John Jefferay was the Member of
Parliament for the City, and his cause was theirs also.

As the Pursuivant and his men made their way towards the Chamber,
protected by a strong body of armed men, curses loud and deep were
hurled at them from a thousand throats.

A sudden change to cheering and hurrahing took place as the multitude
recognized the Treasurer of Gray's Inn and the Master of the Rolls, who
were passing through the streets in company.

London had seldom been so agitated—nor was the excitement lessened when
the halberdiers were strengthened by some troops of the Household Guards
from Whitehall. Inside the Chambers many of the notabilities of the
Court had gathered together, and when the judges entered it, it was
noted that nearly the whole of its august body of members was present.

By the side of Cardinal Pole sat the Bishop of London, Edmund Bonner, a
Prelate whose attendance at this Court was a rare event.

But behind them sat a figure upon whom all eyes were fixed—it was King

He was dressed in a suit of black velvet without ornament of any kind,
yet its dark hue was somewhat relieved by the spotless whiteness of the
Valenciennes lace which bedecked his neck and wrists.

He was of moderate stature and very spare in body. His long oval face
was somewhat colourless, he wore a beard and moustache of a sandy
colour. His large piercing eyes were of a sombre blue, the mouth large,
with heavy hanging lip and protruding lower jaw. His demeanour was still
and silent, tinged with a Castilian haughtiness. Philip was thirty years
of age at this period, but men would have given him credit for a longer
record; perhaps the cares of his world-wide sovereignty had made him
prematurely old.

Few mortals loved Philip; yet one fond heart had given itself to him
unreservedly, for Mary loved her husband with a devotion as deep as it
was unrequited.

The opening of the Court had not yet been formally declared, and a
murmur of subdued voices in eager consultation filled the air.

Men noted that the King was conversing with the dignified ecclesiastics
in front of him.

Presently a silver trumpet sounded, and the Lord High Chancellor took
his seat as President of the Court. A dead silence ensued, and the Clerk
thereupon pronounced the Court open.

All eyes turned to the dock as the prisoner was seen to be entering it,
bowing low to the Court as he did so.

His friends had mustered strongly in the Chamber, and an unrestrainable
murmur of sympathy arose from them as they marked the deathly pallor of
his youthful countenance, his wounded arm (still supported in a sling)
and a great scar of a recent wound on his handsome face.

The case was duly "called on," and the charge of riot and assault was
made against the prisoner.

Ralph would have pleaded "Guilty" forthwith, but Sir John had addressed
himself to this matter at his interview with Ralph at the Fleet prison
on the preceding evening, and upon his advice the prisoner pleaded "Not

Thereupon the Pursuivant took his place in the witness-box and proceeded
to set forth, with great detail, the well-known tale of the assault in
Chiddingly woods. He now swore that the prisoner in the dock, Ralph
Jefferay, was his assailant, and this was duly corroborated by his

At this point Cardinal Pole addressed the President—

"Yesterday, my Lord President, Mr. Pursuivant swore, with equal
assurance, as to the identity of Mr. William Jefferay with his
assailant. We know now that he was mistaken,—may he not err in the
present case?"

The Pursuivant rose again hastily and, bowing to the President, said—

"May I answer His Eminence the Cardinal, my Lord?"

The Earl of Arundel bowed assent, and the Pursuivant proceeded to
explain his first error.

"Yesterday, my lords, I was not aware of the extraordinary likeness
which exists between the twin brothers Mr. William and Mr. Ralph
Jefferay, a likeness so wonderful that no man may tell them apart but by
some sign or symbol. One of my witnesses, who is a Lewes man and knows
the Jefferays well by sight, informed me of this fact when the verdict
of acquittal was given in this Court yesterday. The sign of distinction
between the brothers is a very simple one—Mr. William always wears a
grey cap and Mr. Ralph a blue one. Now on the occasion of the assault I
solemnly swore that my assailant, Ralph Jefferay, the prisoner, wore a
_grey cap_, whether by design or accident I cannot say, hence the
mistake of identity."

The Pursuivant sat down with a malignant gleam of satisfaction in his
fierce black eyes.

There was silence in the Court and the judges consulted with each other;
presently the Chancellor spoke.

"The Court would fain see these wonderful brothers side by side," he
said. "Is Mr. William Jefferay here?"

The Clerk of the Court beckoned to Sir John Jefferay, who stood near to
him, and, after a brief conversation, said—

"Mr. William Jefferay is now at Gray's Inn, but he can be brought hither
in a short time, my lord."

"Let him be sent for," replied the Chancellor.

During the interval in the proceedings men talked freely in low voices;
it was marked that an air of gloom and despondency sat upon the faces of
the friends of the Jefferays.

Suddenly there was a rustling movement in the gangway of the Court, and
a dead silence ensued as William Jefferay was perceived in the hands of
the officers of the Court, who were leading him towards the dock.

"Place them side by side," commanded the Chancellor.

William entered the dock and stood beside his brother. The brothers
looked into each other's face with a quiet air, in which sadness and
love bore equal part; they clasped hands and so faced the Court.

Even in that august presence a murmur of admiration and sympathy,
closely mingled, ran through the assembly.

There was no further need of words or explanation, it was evident to all
why the first trial had miscarried, how the Pursuivant had made his
great mistake.

"It is enough, let Mr. William Jefferay step down," said the President.

Yes, it was enough, there remained now but the dread sentence to be

The judges briefly consulted; then the Chancellor arose and, amid an
ominous silence, said—

"The Court finds the prisoner guilty, and its sentence is that the
prisoner pay a fine of five thousand pounds, that he stand in pillory at
Tyburn for one day, and that his ears be clipped by the common hangman,
and that he remain in prison for three years—God save the Queen!"

Then occurred a startling interruption, the prisoner spoke.

"I am guilty of assault, my Lord," he cried, "but, before God and High
Heaven, I am no conspirator; I, also, cry _God save the Queen_!"

Then he sat down.

All was over, the dread sentence had been pronounced, and forthwith the
warders proceeded to lead the prisoner from the dock.

The crowd departed, and in a few minutes the Star Chamber was untenanted
save by a few warders.

The terrible news had spread abroad and seditious cries, mingled with
oaths and execrations, rent the air.

The judges and King Philip had departed by private exits, but as the
Pursuivant and his men reached the street a fierce contest between the
military and the 'prentices arose.

Great stones hurtled through the air, and the clubs of the "City Boys"
made fine play with the swords and rapiers of the halberdiers.

But the Household Guards, on their strong Flemish horses, swept all
before them, and closing in a dense body around the Pursuivant, conveyed
him to a place of safety.

As Sir John Jefferay and his nephew William were about to leave the
Court, an usher brought him a note.

"From his Excellency the Spanish Ambassador," said the man.

Turning to the friends who accompanied him, Sir John said—

"Await me one moment, my friends."

Then he drew William with him into one of the waiting-rooms of the
Court, and eagerly opened the note. It was brief.

"An hour hence I shall be with you at Gray's Inn, and the Cardinal will
be with me. His Eminence wishes that no other person be present at our

"Oh, thank God, thank God!" cried Sir John, as he passed the letter to

It was light amid the darkness, and the Treasurers noble face lost its
look of despair and flushed with joy and hope!

And well might it be so, for these two men, of all others in the realm
of England, possessed influence with Mary and Philip of high and exalted

"No word of this to our friends," whispered Sir John to his nephew, as
they proceeded to rejoin them.

At this moment the roar from the street reached the little group, and
they halted.

Instantly it flashed upon the Treasurer's mind that it might derange all
their plans if he and William were to be acclaimed by a wild, disorderly

"Adieu, my friends," he said to those who surrounded them, "it is
necessary that we part here; William and I will return through the
Abbey. We meet again to-night at Gray's Inn, to supper."

All saw the wisdom of this, and Sir Philip Broke, noting the flush of
hope in Sir John's face, whispered to him—

"You have news—something to cheer our hearts?"

"To-night you shall know all, I trust, but now depart, I pray you!"

Then grasping his hand he shook it warmly.

"Farewell for the present, best and truest of friends," he said; then
turning to William, "Follow me, nephew," he said.

All the cloisters of Westminster were known to Sir John, and soon, by
many an ancient and devious way, the two were in the Abbey.

Ah, how its glorious quietude contrasted with the scene in the Star
Chamber, with the tumult of the streets!

A strange peace took possession of Sir John's soul as he gazed into the
semi-darkness of the Chapel of King Edward the Confessor, where, over
the altar, gleamed a dull red light.

Sir John was no Romanist—nay, he was a somewhat ardent follower of

But it was no hour to think upon mysteries and niceties.

"Come with me, my dear nephew," he said.

And under his guidance William in a moment found himself kneeling by his
uncle's side in front of the glorious altar of King Edward's Chapel.
Long they knelt in fervent prayer, commending the condemned prisoner to
the mercy of Almighty God, and beseeching His blessing on the steps they
were taking on his behalf.

Then, comforted and refreshed, they rose and made their way towards
Whitehall and Gray's Inn.


                               CHAPTER IX

                            THE DAWN OF HOPE

It was past mid-day when Sir John and William reached Gray's Inn, and,
as their footsteps reached the ears of the watchful and anxious Susan,
she flew down-stairs to meet them.

Already the fatal news had reached the girl's ears, but she was far too
prudent a housewife and too loving a niece and sister to show her grief
to men who had not dined, who were probably well-nigh spent with anxiety
and need of bodily refreshment.

Therefore, without a word, Susan led the way into the dining-room, where
food and wine had been prepared through her loving care.

Then, dismissing the servants, she said—

"I myself have dined, now let me wait on you. Do not speak, my dear
uncle; alas, I know all, and presently we will confer together; but now
refresh yourself, for I see indeed that you need it."

Sir John proceeded to obey his imperious housewife; yet, ere he sat
himself at table, he embraced her affectionately and said—

"You little know, dear girl, how sage and prudent is your advice, for I
must needs tell you that in half-an-hour two visitors will be here to
whom I must give immediate audience, for they come on matters of life
and death!"

"Oh, uncle, is poor Ralph's case so desperate?" cried Susan, with a
terror-stricken face.

"God only knows," replied Sir John; "but if there be any help in man,
they who now are on their way hither are surely sent by Heaven to bring
us that help, for they are none other than the Cardinal and the Spanish

Susan's eyes sparkled with a sudden access of joy; yet she resumed her
first insistence.

"Then you have but a few minutes wherein to refresh yourself, dear
uncle, and I will not speak again, nor allow you to do so till you have

Sir John's serious face relaxed into a smile, and he proceeded to obey.

The minutes flew by, and soon Sir John's major-domo entered the room,
after a discreet knock at the door.

"Two visitors await you in the library, Sir John. They did not give me
their names, but they said they came by appointment."

Sir John rose at once.

"You will see that no one disturbs our conference in the library," he
said to his servant. "And you, my children, await my return here; please
God, I may have good news to bring you."

Then he proceeded to the library.

The two visitors stood near the great hearth, where a fire sparkled, for
the morning was chilly. Hastening towards them, Sir John fell on one
knee at the foot of the Cardinal, who, with a kindly smile, extended his
hand towards him.

The Treasurer reverently kissed it.

Yet did he not kiss the hand of the great Churchman in his character of
a Prince of the Roman Church, but rather because he saw in Reginald Pole
a Plantagenet in whose veins ran royal blood. Then, rising, he warmly
saluted the Ambassador, and at a courteous invitation from Sir John the
three men took seats.

The Cardinal opened the conference.

"You are in trouble, Sir John, very grievous trouble, and there are many
reasons why I should seek to bring you aid and comfort. I know from the
Ambassador how great a service your two brave nephews have rendered to
him, and when I saw them in Court to-day and marked their manly bearing,
their evident mutual love, and the heroic loyalty of the condemned man
as he cried 'God save the Queen,' I vowed to God that I would save him
from the mutilating hand of the hangman and the pillory at Tyburn, if it
lay in my power."

There was a deep compassion in the Cardinal's voice, and his noble face
flushed with a generous excitement as he spoke.

He marked the unbidden tears which suffused Sir John's eyes, and
grasping his hand he cried—

"Have faith in God, Sir John, and hope for the best! Now tell me all
about the Chiddingly affair from your own point of view; I heard the
Pursuivant's tale, but I would fain have it supplemented by yours: I
would know the motives which actuated Ralph, and what accomplices he


Then tell me all about that heroic deed of rescue on the Thames. I would
know the smallest detail of that gallant action, for therewith I trust
to move the Queen's heart to mercy!"

Then, folding his purple cassock over his knees, the Cardinal leant back
in his seat and prepared to listen.

With consummate skill Sir John performed his task, for which his legal
training eminently fitted him. Thus half-an-hour swiftly flew by, and at
the conclusion of the somewhat long narration the Ambassador spoke

"Sir John," he said, "I have an expedient in my mind which, perhaps, may
win us through our enterprise if all other means fail. Your lads are
born _soldiers_; why are you bent upon making such fine fellows
_lawyers_? I wager that they are better hands with their rapiers than
with their quills. I fancy that if the matter were left to their choice
they would rather see camps and beleaguered cities than pass their lives
in musty law-courts!

"Now to my point. King Philip is here to gain England's help in his war
with France; he seeks to raise a strong English contingent, under Lords
Pembroke and Clinton, which will proceed forthwith to join his army
under the command of Count Egmont. Will your boys volunteer for that
service if the Queen extend to them her gracious pardon?"

For a moment Sir John, taken utterly by surprise, kept silence; then he

"I would fain consult the boys themselves upon so momentous a point; or,
at least, crave for time to consider it."

"Alas, my dear friend," replied Don Renard quickly, "the matter is very
urgent. I must be prepared at all points when I see the King to-night.
Moreover, do you not know that the machinery of the Star Chamber moves
quickly, and it may be (which God forbid) that to-morrow our young
friend Ralph may stand in the pillory at Tyburn. Think what may depend
on your decision, and let me act on it, lest that should happen which we
may have to regret all our lives."

"Remember also, Sir John," added the Cardinal, "that the military
service of which the Ambassador speaks may be but of short duration;
when the campaign is over, the lads may resume their legal studies if
God spare their lives, and they so desire. As a matter of fact, am I not
right in saying that you yourself have seen military service?"

"Yes, your Excellency, it is true," replied the Treasurer. "As a young
man I did three years' duty at Calais and in Flanders, but I did not
know that your Eminence was aware of the fact."

The Cardinal smiled and answered significantly—

"There are few circumstances connected with the family of the Jefferays
which are unknown to those at Court."

Sir John put his hand upon his brow and pondered deeply. At length his
mind seemed to be made up, and he replied—

"It is true that I cannot consult both the boys ere coming to a
decision, and that delay may be fatal. I therefore take the
responsibility upon myself, and I accept your Excellency's proposition;
God grant that I have not to regret my action."

The Cardinal rose with a sigh of relief.

"Then that closes our conference. There is much to do between now and
nightfall. To-night we see the Queen and King Philip, and the matter
will be decided. Ere I seek my couch this night I will let you know the
result. Farewell, my friend!"

Sir John, as before, sank reverently on one knee before him, and the
good Cardinal, extending his hand, pronounced the benediction of the
Church—the Ambassador kneeling likewise at Sir John's side.

Then the two illustrious visitors departed, Sir John himself going
before them to the entrance gate of Gray's Inn.

The Treasurer returned to the library, and for a while sat in deep
thought; he was greatly agitated, yet there was springing up in his
heart a blessed feeling of hope!

After a while he rose, and, remembering his promise, went into the
dining-room, where William and Susan sat anxiously awaiting him.

Susan flew to meet him.

"My dearest uncle," she cried, "you bring us good and comforting news, I
can see it in your eyes."

Sir John stooped and kissed her fondly.

"Let us go into the library," he said; "we shall be undisturbed there,
and I will tell you all."

There Sir John resumed his seat, and with Susan nestling fondly at his
feet, and William standing at his side, he detailed the conversation
which had passed between him and his visitors, omitting nothing. His
eyes were closely fixed upon William as he came to the military
proposition of the Ambassador.

William's face flushed scarlet, and his eyes flashed with evident joy.

"The Ambassador was right," he said within himself; "the boy is a born
soldier; it is in the blood!"

Then aloud he said—

"Was I acting rightly when I accepted Don Renard's proposal?"

Instantly William flung himself at his uncle's knees with all affection
and reverence, and seizing his hand, cried—

"I ask nothing better, it is my dearest heart's wish; and when I speak
for myself I speak for Ralph also; I can answer for him."

"I thought so," replied the Treasurer, "but as far as Ralph is concerned
(and he is chiefly concerned) I will go to the Fleet prison at once and
learn his own decision."

But poor Susan was mute!

To be robbed of her two brothers at once, from whom she had never been
long separated; to see them go forth to all the dangers of war; to think
that she might never see them more, all this wrung her tender heart, and
she began to sob gently.

But she was yet to bear another trial, for William, turning to his uncle
as he prepared to go forth, said—

"One moment, uncle. Geoffrey de Fynes comes to London this day from
Lewes on business of State. He longs for active service, and he is
heartsick with his present mode of life.

"Let me hie to the Ambassador at once and propose that De Fynes's name
be added to ours.

He will be here to-night, and I can vouch for him that he will rejoice
to join us."

The Treasurer hesitated for a moment, then said—

"Yes, go, William, and at once. De Fynes is a brave man and true, I
could not ask for a better comrade for my boys; I think it can be done."

Thereupon he left them, and William prepared to go also. A deep sigh
from Susan, almost a groan was it, arrested his steps.

The poor girl had thrown herself upon a couch in an attitude of despair.

William knelt at her side.

"What is it, my dear one?" he said compassionately.

"Oh, William," Susan murmured, "was it not enough that I should lose my
two brothers in one day that you must needs take my lover also?"

"What!" cried William, "is that so?—and yet you told me not?"

The poor girl blushed to the roots of her hair, amid all her sorrow, as
she answered—

"We were betrothed last week, and this night he would have told you all;
he comes to London on no State business: it was to ask my uncle's
consent. And now," murmured the heart-stricken girl, "now I may lose
him—lose him for ever!"

"Oh, Susan," said her brother, throwing his arms around her, "I knew not
of this; and yet I might have guessed it when I saw that bright ring
sparkling on your finger. I rejoice thereat greatly; now we shall be
brothers indeed, Geoffrey and Ralph and I! Trust him to us, my dear one;
we will watch over him as he will over us; we will bring him back to you
by the blessing and help of God!"

But Susan wept bitterly, her heart refused comfort. And so with
reluctant steps William left her; his errand to the Embassy must be

"God wills it, God wills it," he said to himself in the spirit of the
old Crusaders as he set forth.


                               CHAPTER X


Supper was served that evening at Whitehall with more than customary
state and splendour—for King Philip was present.

The Queen was royally attired in robes of purple velvet, and men noted
that, to-night, she wore her famous diamonds.

Beside her sat King Philip in magnificent apparel, and wearing the
Collar of the Order of the Golden Fleece.

Few guests were present, conspicuous among them being the Queen's half-
sister, the Lady Elizabeth, lately restored to Court favour; next to her
sat De Noailles, the French Ambassador, with whom the Princess kept up a
lively conversation.

Don Renard and the Lords Paget, Pembroke, Arundel, and Clinton were
there, all in splendid attire.

The hall was hung with the beautiful arras collected by King Henry the
Eighth, and a soft pleasant light diffused from silver lamps fed with
perfumed oil. Foreign minstrels provided sweet music, to which the
guests seemed to pay little heed, for to-night the Queen was in
unusually good spirits, and the Court, taking its cue from her, jested
and laughed freely.

Later on, supper being ended, the Court (now largely augmented in
numbers) met in the gorgeous salon which was adorned by some famous
pictures of Titian, brought hither, perhaps, by Philip, whose father,
Charles V, was the great patron of the painter.

On the walls also hung portraits by Holbein and many works of the
Flemish and Italian schools.

The furniture of the room was of costly nature, being chiefly of ebony,
richly inlaid with mother-of-pearl.

Here the light was given by hundreds of wax candles, set in silver
sconces, and it shone upon the fairest dames which England had to show
to the proud Castilian nobles who grouped around the King.

Here, also, great Churchmen were present—among whom the Cardinal stood
pre-eminent in his scarlet robes.

Presently the Cardinal found his way to the side of Queen Mary, who
welcomed him with a smile, though it was a faint and weary one. For Mary
was growing feeble in health and broken in spirits, though, to-night,
she had shown herself more like the Mary Tudor of former days.

Alas, poor Queen!

Disappointed of her fondest hopes, childless and neglected by her
husband, who would not pity her?

In the Court to-night she could but see how the young gallants gathered
round the rising star—the Lady Elizabeth.

It was mainly by Philip's influence that she had recalled the hope of
the Reformation Party to Court, and she saw, with bitter pain, that the
Spanish King was strangely attentive to her young rival. Had Stephen
Gardiner's advice been followed, Elizabeth would long ere now been swept
from her path.

"Ah! had she erred?" thought the Queen in her inmost heart.

For this young and gay Princess was next in succession to the Throne,
according to the will of their father, King Henry.

And so all her work might be undone, and the fondest, dearest hopes of
her heart frustrated!

As these thoughts darkened her soul she saw Pole approaching her, and
his very presence brought new life to her heart.

He knelt and kissed the Queen's hand, and when he rose Mary beckoned him
to a seat beside her, and they fell into a close and confidential

The night was wearing on, the Queen was growing weary, yet she said in
reply to a request from him—

"Yes, to-night, after Chapel, in my boudoir;" and so they separated.

The King had left the salon.

A Court courier had arrived from Brussels, and together with Don Renard
he had withdrawn to his own rooms.

There they hastily examined the messenger's portfolio, and that business
being transacted the Ambassador entered upon other matters.

King Philip was a hard master! Great statesmen and famous warriors knew
that it behoved them to walk warily in their dealings with him. Eminent
service and a long discharge of duty would not save them from the prison
cell, and even the block, if they thwarted their imperious master.

Don Renard knew this full well.

At this moment he was the King's most trusted servant—none knew England
and the English as he did, and Philip placed great reliance on his
astute counsels. To-night he felt the extreme difficulty of the course
he was pursuing.

He knew that the King was violently offended by Ralph's attack upon a
Royal officer; that, moreover, he had a suspicion that this was a
Protestant plot and that the offender himself was a kind of "Hot

He must walk very warily to-night.

He had a communication from the Council of the City of London to lay
before the King.

"The citizens have debated the conditions of the loan your Majesty did
them the honour to ask of them," said Don Renard.

"Yes," said Philip, somewhat eagerly, "and I trust they raise no

"These purse-proud burgesses are not like the money-lenders of Madrid or
Amsterdam, they are not satisfied with the securities we offer," said
the Ambassador.

The King frowned, as he replied—

"The money must be procured; our expedition hangs fire, and the English
troops are badly equipped. You must see to it, and that quickly."

"The expedition is not popular in the City," said Renard, "we must do
something to placate these stubborn islanders."

"Yes, I know," replied the King petulantly; "but what can we do?"

"Will your Majesty pardon me if I suggest something?" replied the
Ambassador, and in obedience to Philip's nod of assent, he continued,
"That young man, Ralph Jefferay, who was condemned to-day in the Court
of the Star Chamber, is accounted a hero in London."

"And why?" asked Philip impatiently, the frown on his face deepening;
"is it not because he is a heretic?"

"Nay, your Majesty, I know not whether he is of the 'New Learning' or
not," replied Don Renard. "But the real reason goes far deeper than
that: he is known to be a young man of splendid daring and of intrepid
courage," he continued.

The King was not appeased.

"Go on," he said, "I see you have something further to tell me; I

"Oh, sire," cried the Ambassador, "pardon me if I err through zeal in
your service. There is a deed on record, just lately performed, which
raised the admiration of the Londoners."

Then as briefly as possible Don Renard told the stirring tale of the
rescue on the Thames, hiding for the moment his own connection with it.
He told it well, bringing out vividly all the strong points.

The King was a cold-blooded man, yet he was something of a soldier, and
a deed of arms like this moved him.

"And the man they rescued, who was he, you have not told me his name?"
said he.

"It was my stepson, Don Diego, sire," was the reply.

"Ah! I see, I see," said the King.

Then after a moments thought he continued—

"I will see the Queen on his behalf, and I will ask that the pillory and
the mutilation be not undergone by the condemned man. Yet, Renard, he is
a seditious man, and, I doubt not, a heretic. The sentence as to the
fine and the imprisonment must stand."

"That will not render the Queen nor your Majesty popular in the City; it
will not expedite our loan nor induce young Englishmen to come forward
to fight our battles," replied Renard. "Pardon me once more, sire, if I
make a suggestion to you. We are calling for an English contingent of
eight thousand men: Lord Clinton tells me that men are coming forward
very slowly.

"These twin brothers, William and Ralph Jefferay, are of gentle birth
and they are born soldiers. They have an intended brother-in-law, a
young nobleman named Geoffrey de Fynes. All the three are willing to
take arms in your Majesty's cause and to fight under your banner.

"This is my proposition, sire, that you ask the Queen to extend her
gracious pardon to Ralph Jefferay, on the condition that the three young
men I have named take service in Lord Clinton's contingent."

The frown cleared from the King's brow, he even smiled as he said—

"You plead well, Don Renard, you would have made a great lawyer; well,
be it as you wish, I will ask her to do us this service."

"To-night, sire?" said the Ambassador.

"Nay, to-morrow," replied the King; "I must not urge State matters on
the Queen at this late hour."

"But, sire, to-morrow will be too late, the Star Chamber acts promptly,
and to-morrow at ten o'clock Ralph Jefferay will stand in pillory at
Tyburn!" replied Renard.

The King flushed and looked somewhat angered; he was not accustomed to
be thus urged.

It was at this moment that an usher craved admission into the chamber,
he brought a message from the Queen.

"Would the King grant her a few minutes interview forthwith in her

"Tell her Majesty that I will wait upon her immediately," he said to the

Then to the Ambassador he said—

"There is your answer, Don Renard—Heaven fights for you!"

"Yes, sire, thank God!" replied Renard fervently.

Meanwhile the cause the Ambassador had at heart had progressed

Mary was always strictly attentive to her religious duties, and, at the
accustomed hour, she had gone to Vespers in the Chapel Royal, many of
the courtiers accompanying her thither.

At the conclusion of the short service she retired to her boudoir,
dismissing her Court for the night.

The Cardinal still knelt in the Chapel, until an usher came to summon
him to the Queen's presence. He rose and followed him.

The Queen had laid aside some of her heavy State robes, and her diamonds
no longer glistened on her head and neck. She was clad in a rich suit of
black velvet, her favourite attire.

As the Cardinal entered she knelt before him.

"Your blessing, father," she said.

Then she rose, and in his turn the Prelate knelt and kissed her hand.

She motioned him to a seat.

Behind her stood two ladies-in-waiting. Pointing to them the Queen said—

"Shall my ladies leave us? It shall be as you wish."

Pole hesitated for a moment.

He had a difficult and delicate cause to plead, he felt that he might be
pitting the Queen against her husband if the Ambassador, on his part,
failed to influence Philip.

"It may be advisable, your Majesty," he said, and thereupon the Queen
motioned to the ladies to withdraw.

They were alone, and Reginald lifted up his heart to God for Divine

"Madam," he said, "the hour grows late and you are weary, I will be very
brief in what I have to say."

"Nay," said the Queen, "nay, my Lord Cardinal and good cousin, the hour
matters not and your voice brings comfort to my soul! Speak all that
your heart bids you say, I listen."

Then the Cardinal addressed himself to his task.

"I come, madam, on a matter of life and death, on behalf of one who was
tried and condemned in the Court of the Star Chamber to-day—by name
Ralph Jefferay. The youth was found guilty of 'conspiracy,' yet am I
sure that, though he may be guilty on this charge in a strictly legal
sense, yet is he absolutely innocent morally; so loyal to your royal
person is he at heart, that when the cruel sentence was pronounced, he
cried out in loud tones—'God save the Queen!' The poor youth's offence
is one of assault and nothing more, let me tell you briefly the
circumstances of the case."

Then the Cardinal rapidly recounted the episode of the Chiddingly woods.

"Mark, Madam, I beseech you, that no blood was shed, though the
Pursuivant threatened him with dire punishment, being at the moment
absolutely at his mercy."

The Queen listened attentively, but she made no observation.

Pole's heart sank within him, he felt that he had not yet convinced his
noble auditor's judgment, nor had he deeply moved her feelings.

Was it possible that the King had forestalled him, representing the
matter as a heretical plot and Ralph as a wild incendiary—a "Hot
Gospeller," in fact?

Once more the Cardinal's soul appealed to Heaven for help, nor did he
appeal in vain!

In warm and earnest language he set forth the brothers' exploit on the
Thames and their narrow escape from a violent death.

"Oh, Madam," he cried, "as I looked upon his pale, scarred, but noble
face this day in the Star Chamber, a deep sense of pity took possession
of me. He had atoned for his offence! It could not be that one so young,
so brave, so nobly daring should suffer a felon's doom, and I besought
Heaven to have mercy on him."

The sound of a gentle sob reached his ear, and he looked on the Queen's
sad face.

Yes, she was deeply moved at last!

"Stay, my Lord Cardinal," she said in a low voice, "I have heard enough.
God spared that young man's life—shall we be less merciful?"

Then it was that she sent for Philip, and in a few minutes he was at the
door, the Ambassador, at his request, accompanying him.

With Castilian courtesy Philip knelt and kissed the Queen's hand, then,
rising, he repeated the salute on her forehead.

The Queen's face flushed with pleasure, for she dearly loved her
husband—alas, he was all that she had to love in this world!

Then she marked the presence of the Ambassador, and extended her hand
towards him as he knelt humbly to kiss it.

The Cardinal stood aside, he had made lowly obeisance to the King as he

"Your Majesty sent for me, I await your gracious pleasure," said Philip
in low tones.

"I crave your pardon if I have disturbed State business," said Mary
apologetically, glancing at the Spanish Ambassador, "but I need your
advice this night, although the hour grows late."

Philip bowed gracefully as he said—

"I am always at your Majesty's service."

"I will state the matter in as few words as possible," replied the
Queen. "His eminence, our good cousin, has pleaded for a Royal pardon in
the case of one Ralph Jefferay—condemned to-day in the Star Chamber as a
conspirator. He has given me good reason to believe that the youth is
innocent of the alleged offence, he attributes his assault upon our
Pursuivant in the woods of Chiddingly to the hot blood of youth, and to
no lack of loyalty to us. This is the youth of whom your Majesty spoke
to me yesterday, and I now ask your advice and consent, ere I grant his
Eminence's petition."

A smile sat on Philips face as he replied—

"I, too, your Majesty, have heard somewhat more of this youth since he
was the subject of our conversation, and when your usher arrived just
now, our Ambassador, Don Renard here, was urging me to seek your Royal
pardon for him. I do so, on the condition (may it please your Majesty)
that the two brothers take service in the English contingent now being
raised under Lord Clinton to fight under my banner against France. His
Excellency undertakes that the young men accept this condition,
therefore I sue for your Majesty's pardon."

"We grant it joyfully," replied the Queen, "and we leave the matter
confidently in the hands of the Cardinal and the Ambassador, who will,
doubtless, see that all due formalities are observed."

Then Don Renard stepped forward and bowed profoundly.

"Have I your Majesties' permission to speak?" he said.

Then at his Sovereigns' nod of assent, he continued—

"The matter is so urgent that I have here a blank form of Royal Pardon;
it needs but the Queen's signature."

Thereupon he knelt at Mary's feet and presented the paper.

Mary took it to a side-table, signed it and gave the precious document
into Don Renard's hands.

The long interview was ended.

The two petitioners (the Cardinal and the Ambassador) knelt before the
Royal pair, kissed hands and departed.

In the courtyard of Whitehall the Ambassadors people were awaiting him
with a carriage, into which the Statesman and the Churchman entered.

"To the Fleet prison," Don Renard said to his coachman. "It is
midnight," he said to the Cardinal as they drove through the silent and
deserted streets, "yet I think we are in good time; I sent word to the
Governor of the prison, ere I came to Court, asking him to await our
arrival to-night and to notify to his prisoner, Ralph Jefferay, of our

"And I," replied the Cardinal, "have told Sir John Jefferay that to-
night I hoped to bring him good news. We shall do better, we shall bring
him his nephew!"

A few minutes later the carriage drew up at the frowning gates of the
Fleet prison.

A few words with the warders sufficed, the gates opened and the Cardinal
and the Ambassador entered the prison and followed the warder to the
Governor's lodging. The Fleet was the most gloomy prison in London, but
the Governor's lodging offered a violent contrast to its dismal

In days long past it had formed a part of the Town house of a great
noble, and the fine hall into which the two visitors were ushered was a
relic of its past magnificence.

The walls were wainscoted with dark oak, richly carved, and a bright
fire lit up an open hearth ornamented by a chimney-piece sculptured with
many a quaint device. On a table in the centre of the hall wax candles
in heavy silver candlesticks shed forth a warm and pleasing light; the
table was laden with refreshments.

As the distinguished guests entered the hall the Governor (Sir Thomas
Middylton) hastened forward to greet them, bowing repeatedly.

But to his courteous entreaty that his visitors would honour him by
resting awhile and taking refreshment, the Ambassador replied—

"Ah, Sir Thomas, how gladly would we avail ourselves of your courtesy,
but we have yet much to do this night, and, I grieve to say, it must be
done quickly. We come to you from Whitehall: the Queen has been
graciously pleased to extend her royal pardon to your prisoner Ralph
Jefferay, and we bring to you an order for his deliverance to us, signed
by her Majesty."

Therewith Don Renard handed the precious document to the Governor, who
read it with grave deference. He then touched a gong, and, as a warder
appeared, he bade him fetch the prisoner Ralph Jefferay.

In a few minutes Ralph was brought into the hall in the charge of two
warders, and the Governor instantly addressed him.

"Mr. Ralph Jefferay," he said, "her Majesty, the Queen, has been pleased
to grant you a full and free pardon; you are no longer in my custody,
and I am happy to deliver you into the hands of your friends who have
come hither to convey you hence."

Ralph stood as one amazed and overwhelmed.

He had been forewarned that on the next day he would stand in the
pillory, that the common hangman would do his cruel office of
mutilation, and lo! here was pardon, freedom, joy and rejoicing!

The bright light of the hall had somewhat dazzled him: he had not
perceived that behind the Governor stood his deliverers. As they stepped
forward to greet him he recognized the Cardinal, whom he had last seen
in the Star Chamber, and he fell at his feet and sought to kiss his

"Rise, my son," said the Cardinal in kindly tones; "we thank God for His
mercy to you, and the Queen for her goodness. And here is one," he
continued, "to whom you owe much more than to me; for while I wrought
with the Queen on your behalf, his Excellency the Ambassador besought
the consent of King Philip."

Then Don Renard affectionately embraced him, kissing him upon both

And while Ralph stood speechless with joy the Ambassador exclaimed—

"Mr. Governor, you will pardon our hasty departure, I am sure, for we
must hie to Gray's Inn, where eager hearts await us."

Sir Thomas bowed in reply, and himself led the way to the great gate of
the prison, where their carriage awaited them.

Gray's Inn at last!

And there the Treasurer, the sweet sister, the much-loved brother
received from the hands of the liberators the released and pardoned
prisoner, as "one risen from the dead."

Ah, what joy and rejoicing, what radiant happiness were theirs that
night, as they knelt together to thank Heaven for its mercies!

The night was departing, the day was at hand, yet the men of the party
gathered together round the hearth for a brief consultation after Susan
had left them.

"Don Renard comes hither at mid-day," said Sir John, "and he brings with
him Lord Clinton, who happens to be in London. I fear that this portends
that the conditions upon which Ralph obtained his freedom are to be
fulfilled at once.

"I heard to-day that King Philip has commenced his campaign against the
French King, and the English contingent are assembling at Dover.

"I would Geoffrey de Fynes were here; his man-servant has arrived with
the news that his master's departure from Lewes was delayed, but that he
would follow him in a few hours. Perhaps we assumed his consent to join
you two boys too readily; but we shall soon know—he may be here to

"Have no fear on that score, dear uncle," replied Ralph; "he will tell
you himself, as he has often told me, that he longs to see military

Then a final "good-night" was said, and the men betook themselves to

When William and Ralph entered the breakfast room at a somewhat later
hour than usual, they were overjoyed to see Geoffrey de Fynes already at
table; he had ridden up to London that day. Very hearty were the
greetings which passed between the young men. How much they had to tell
each other!

De Fynes was the eldest of the trio, being twenty years of age. He was
of moderate height, his strong limbs were finely proportioned, his
clear-cut features exhibited all the manly grace which seemed to be
hereditary in the noble family of the Dacres, of which he was the sole
male representative. He had not heard the great news that he was to
accompany the brothers to France. He was of a race of warriors, and now
the passionate longings of his heart were to be fulfilled!

"God save the Queen!" he cried, as he leapt from his seat and flung his
cap in the air.

Then he grasped the brothers' hands and shook them heartily; they would
be his "brothers-in-arms" now, and ere long, please God, they would be
united by a yet closer tie!

That last thought was very opportune, for at that moment Susan entered
the room and the lovers fondly embraced.

"I heard your voice as I was waiting on Sir John in the library, and I
hastened thither," she said. "Now tell me, I pray you, the cause of all
this uproarious joy?"

Geoffrey hung his head; he had come to London to ask for Susan's hand in
marriage, and now he was rejoicing at the news that he was "off to the

Susan's womanly heart divined his trouble, and she hastened to dissipate
it with caressing words.

"God wills it, dear Geoffrey," she said; "I would not have it otherwise;
for think! at this very hour our beloved Ralph might have been standing
in the pillory at Tyburn. Oh, let us thank God for His mercy!"

Quickly an hour flew by, and at mid-day the expected visitors arrived
and the young people were summoned to the library, where Don Renard and
Lord Clinton awaited them, holding converse, meanwhile, with Sir John

The Ambassador introduced them severally to Lord Clinton, and the
veteran soldier narrowly scanned his young recruits. He was still in the
prime of life, though he had seen much service, as the scars on his
rough and rugged face plainly showed.

Evidently the General was pleased with the appearance of the young men,
of whom Don Renard had told him much. He took especial note of Geoffrey.

"Your father and I," he said, "were at Court together, and we had the
honour of forming part of the escort which accompanied Queen Ann of
Cleves from Canterbury to London. I am glad to meet the son of Lord

Then he talked to each of them individually, as one who was anxious to
make their personal acquaintance, and perhaps to form some opinion of
their capacities and inclinations.

The English contingent, he informed them, consisted of eight thousand
men, of whom an advance body would leave Dover for Calais under his
command to-morrow.

For the present he offered them, with the King's permission, commissions
in the Arquebusiers, with posts on his own staff. If this met their
views it would be necessary for them to join their regiment this very
night: the notice was short, but the case was urgent; were they ready?

The young men eagerly gave willing consent, and so the matter was
decided, and the visitors rose to depart.

"I have much to do to-day, Sir John," said Lord Clinton, "and so, I
doubt not, will be the case with these young gentlemen. I pray you
pardon so short a visit and so hurried a departure."

Don Renard took an affectionate leave of his two protégés, and the
momentous interview was over.

Intense activity prevailed at Gray's Inn that day.

There were many preparations to be made, many farewells to be said and
counsels to be given.

It was late in the evening that the young soldiers, each accompanied by
a trusty serving-man, mounted their horses for Dover, where they were to
embark with the troops for Calais.


                               CHAPTER XI

                       THE BATTLE OF ST. QUENTIN

War had been declared with all due form and ceremony between England and
France, and King Philip was now eager to return to the Continent.

He had obtained from Mary all the assistance she could wring from
reluctant England.

For though the Queen entered with all her heart and soul into his
projects, as became the daughter of Catharine of Aragon, English people
felt that this was no quarrel of theirs, and they remembered that when
the "Spanish match" was hotly debated, a provision had been made in the
royal contract "that England should not be made a party to Philips
Continental wars."

During the four months that he had been in England the King had exerted
himself strenuously to overcome this reluctance, and he had so far
succeeded that a well-equipped contingent of eight thousand stalwart
Englishmen had joined his army.

Lords Pembroke, Clinton and Gray were in chief command of their
countrymen, and many a gallant young high-born Englishman had joined the
force, eager to gain military renown.

Such was the feeling, undoubtedly, that influenced the three sons of the
Earl of Northumberland to accompany it, and similar hopes beat high in
the breasts of the two Jefferays and Geoffrey de Fynes.

The King took his last adieu of Mary at the old palace of Greenwich; he
was never to see the fond, forsaken woman again!

Poor Mary, who would not pity her?

Philip hastened to Brussels, where the great army was assembling which
was to invade France and bring King Henry the Second to his knees.

It was a motley army, consisting altogether of thirty-five thousand foot
and twelve thousand horse, besides a strong train of artillery.

The flower of the infantry was drawn from Spain, Spanish warriors of
great experience, and bearing a reputation second to none in the world.

The English force was entirely made up of foot soldiers, the cavalry
of the army being mercenary troops from Germany, known as

These "reiters" were the most dreaded troops of the age. Dark, swarthy
men, of whom Brantôme speaks as "noirs comme de beaux diables," each
carrying five or six pistolets in his belt, with swords and, sometimes,
a short arquebus.

Truly a formidable armament!

These were augmented by a fine corps of Burgundian lances, and a great
number of noble Castilian youths, eager to fight for the honour of Spain
under the eye of their King.

The whole army was under the command of Emanuel Philibert, Duke of
Savoy, a youthful warrior of but twenty-nine years of age, yet
possessing already a great reputation as a clever, dashing soldier.

This was the man whom Philip (probably for reasons of State) was
strongly supporting in his suit for the hand of the Princess Elizabeth
of England—an alliance which that astute lady firmly declined.

Besides the Duke of Savoy there were other illustrious soldiers in
command of Philip's army—the Counts Egmont, Horn, Mansfeld being of the

Egmont was the hero of the army, as he was destined to become the
darling of his nation!

Handsome beyond the usual share of mortals, young, ambitious, "sans peur
et sans reproche," he was the "preux chevalier" of Europe.

Alas! that he was destined to die a felon's death in the market-place of
Brussels, with his illustrious brother-in-arms, Count Horn.

Such was the army, such were its leaders. For miles and miles tents in
many thousands shone in the sunlight, in the pleasant month of August,
on the heights above the ancient town of St. Quentin. At the foot of the
great camp a morass and the River Somme intervened between it and the
beleaguered city.

Well might the hearts of Englishmen beat high as they beheld the river
and thought of Agincourt and Crécy! Such thoughts filled the hearts of
four horsemen grouped together on the highest plateau whereon stood the
English camp.

It was the 9th of August, and the day was breaking, flooding the scene
before them with rosy light. The pennons surmounting the snow-white
tents of the Spanish camps fluttered lightly in the breeze, which was
scarcely enough to unfurl the heavily emblazoned standards of the great
chiefs present.

There were the ensigns of Eric and Henry, Dukes of Brunswick, of the
gigantic Lewes of Brederode, of Almoral, Count of Egmont and of Count

"Look, boys," cried Lord Clinton to Geoffrey, William and Ralph, whom he
had made his aides-de-camp. "Look well, the town is awake right early
to-day, and Coligni's men are mustering heavily around the great gates.
They are about to attempt a sortie, unless I am deceived.

"You, Geoffrey, will remain here on watch with me; but you, Ralph, ride
at top speed to the Duke's tent and give the alarm; and you, William, to
Count Egmont. Haste, haste!" he cried, "the sortie has begun!"

It was a wondrous scene.

Out from the town poured the Dauphin's regiment under the command of the
brave but rash Teligni, and in a few minutes the object of the sortie
became evident. Close to the walls, between them and the Somme, stood
many houses of the humbler sort, and an avenue of thick plane-trees grew
beside them.

In a few minutes the houses were enveloped in flames, and the soldiers
were levelling the trees to the ground with axes.

These would form an obvious shelter to an attacking force, and their
destruction was a necessity.

Meanwhile the Admiral (Coligni) was lining the ramparts with
arquebusiers, to protect the forces on sortie.

The English camp was the first to receive the alarm and to come into
action, as Lord Clinton saw to his great joy.

On all sides they were hurrying up, and presently from their serried
ranks a heavy musketry fire poured forth. The distance was great, for
the Somme and the morass lay between them and their foe, and this Lord
Clinton instantly perceived.

"Ride, boy, to Count Brederode, and bid him bring up some field-pieces,"
he cried hotly to William, who dashed off on his errand.

Now the French arquebusiers began a heavy fusillade on the advancing
besiegers, and soon a thick veil of smoke hid the town of St. Quentin
from view.

Little harm was being done by the hot musketry fire, and Lord Clinton
soon saw that the object of the garrison would be attained.

"Oh, Brederode, Brederode! when will your guns speak?" he cried, as he
heard the enemy's trumpets sound the recall.

Suddenly a roar of artillery rent the air, and the brave foe began to
retreat slowly and sullenly. Many a gallant man lay dead outside the
walls, stricken by that fierce fire; but their work was done—the
Admiral's object was gained.

The town of St. Quentin, though rich and prosperous, was protected only
by ancient fortifications, long since "out of date," and in ruinous

The garrison consisted of but one thousand men, and these were miserably
armed; there was practically no artillery.

When the gallant Admiral had thrown himself into the town he found but
one culverin on the ramparts, and for that one no ammunition had been

The town was not provisioned for a siege—a month's rations for the
troops was all that Coligni could find in St. Quentin.

Then the Admiral took a desperate step which nothing but the cruel
exigencies of war could justify.

All the aged and infirm, all the sick and helpless, were ordered to
leave the city, and seven hundred individuals were thus expelled, most
of them to perish from want and misery!

The women were shut up in the cathedral and the churches, "lest their
terror and their tears should unman the troops." Coligni himself was the
very life and soul of the defence; foremost in every danger, sharing all
hardships, and cheering all despairing hearts, he was prepared to die
under the ruins of the town—he would never surrender to the foe!

Meanwhile, a great French army, numbering eighteen thousand foot and six
thousand horse, was approaching to the relief of St. Quentin under the
Constable Montmorency.

It was mainly composed of German mercenary troops, but the chivalry of
France were represented there in splendid array, proud to fight under
such leaders as Montmorency, the Prince of Condé, the Duke de Nevers,
Daudelot (the brother of the Admiral), and many another illustrious

The relief army had encamped on the banks of the Somme at La Fère and
Ham; the Admiral sent messengers to Montmorency imploring instant

The next day, August 8th, Daudelot strove to break through the lines of
the besiegers at the head of two thousand men, and he failed miserably!

Most of his men perished in the morass, his guides mistaking the paths,
and thus bringing them into contact with the outposts of the besiegers.

Their leader, under the cover of night, succeeded in making good his
retreat to La Fère, at the head of a mere straggling group of beaten

That same night a different scene took place in the great military tent
of Lord Clinton: he was entertaining the Lords Pembroke and Gray, and
many of the leaders of the Spanish army were there.

The night was chilly, and a fine rain was falling. Around the camp fire
sat warriors of world-wide fame, and the English aides-de-camp, watchful
for the comforts of their lord's guests, marked each word that fell from
their lips.

Especially did Almoral, Count Egmont, call forth their fervent

"He is like a young war-god," whispered Ralph to William. "Never saw I
so glorious a specimen of the _genus homo_. Oh, to follow such a leader
as that into the hot din of battle!"

"Listen to what he is saying," replied his brother in a low voice;
"methinks our chance of such an honour will soon come." For Almoral was
relating how that very night his reiters had captured a messenger sent
by Coligni to Montmorency.

"He had short shrift, I suppose!" said Brederode, with a hoarse laugh.

"By my faith, no!" replied Egmont. "When I had read his message, I sent
him on his way to the French Constable, and bade him deliver it duly.
For this was the message—

"'Par l'amour de Dieu, des sècours, ou nous allons perir.'"

"You did well, Egmont," said Philibert of Savoy, "for I know the fiery
old Constable well, and this message will sting him to frenzy.

"Ah! would that to-morrow were the day of battle; for, mark you, we
stand in a strange position of peril. In front of us is St. Quentin,
which we dare not abandon. Northward lies the French army, while from
the south Guise is hurrying up with his victorious army from Italy.

"We may be caught between three fires unless we can destroy this French
army and capture St. Quentin before Guise can arrive. And if we can do
this, as by the help of Heaven we shall, there lies no other fortified
city between us and Paris, and Guise may arrive to find us in possession
of that noble city."

The guests rose with one consent and cheered lustily. They drew their
swords and clashed them overhead with fierce joy!

"Yes," whispered Ralph to William again, "we shall fight to-morrow, and
may you and I be in the thick of the strife!"

Saturday, August 9th, broke hazily; St. Quentin was enveloped in a thick
mist which arose from the swampy plain surrounding it.

At early dawn Montmorency put his whole army in motion; he would relieve
St. Quentin, or perish!

His first effort was attended with surprising success. Intervening low
hills hid the advance of his troops from the Spaniards, and thus he was
able to secure possession of a windmill which commanded a ford over the
Somme, which led to the Spanish camp.

The mill was held by a small force of the enemy, but Montmorency quickly
captured it and placed there a strong garrison under the Prince of
Condé. The main body pressed across the ford, and the artillery opened a
heavy fire on the Spanish camp, to the infinite surprise of the

It was as though their foe had dropped from the clouds. So near was the
range that the Duke of Savoy's tent was levelled to the ground, and
Philibert had barely time to escape, carrying his armour in his hand! He
took refuge in the quarters of the commander of the cavalry, Count

This brief success seemed to Montmorency to be the presage of victory,
and Daudelot was sent with a strong force to cross the river and the
morass, and so bring succour to the besieged town. Meanwhile the French
army would keep the Spaniards in check.

Soon the arquebusiers, in their heavy armour, were plunging horribly in
the quagmires of the morass, and by this time the Spanish artillery was
dealing death among them.

Moreover, boats were required, and only four could be found; and these,
heavily laden with soldiers and the munitions of war, crossed and
recrossed the river slowly and with great difficulty. Two, overladen
with their burdens, sank in the deep waters, and the shouts and screams
of the drowning men added to the horrors of the scene.

Eventually Daudelot, with five hundred men, reached the gates of St.
Quentin; all the rest perished miserably. Montmorency now gave the order
to retreat; a strong reinforcement (though at great loss) had been
thrown into the city, and so far his object was effected.

Meanwhile, a brief council of war was held in Egmont's tent, in which
the fiery vehemence of the Count carried everything before it.

The Duke of Savoy urged _caution_.

The French army was so situated that the Spanish infantry, on which he
placed his chief confidence, could not act effectually against it.

But the cavalry officers carried the day.

"Shall we let so rich a prize escape?" cried Egmont, with wild
enthusiasm. "Heaven has placed within our power the destruction of the
flower of the French army, a Prince of the blood royal, and the great
Constable Montmorency. Capture them, and St. Quentin will be ours to-
morrow; and, by the grace of God, Paris will follow!"

And, as he spoke, the auburn locks which fell over his shoulders shook
like a lion's mane; his eyes flashed fire, his burning eloquence was


From the English quarters, where every man was drawn up in battle array,
Lord Clinton watched the progress of the battle and the movements of the
contending armies, ready at any moment to take part therein.

He marked the Spanish cavalry drawing together in one dense mass in
Egmont's quarters. By his side stood his young aides-de-camp.

"It will be a cavalry battle, I fear," he cried, "and England will have
no share in the glory of the day!"

The young men around him, full of martial fire and thirsting for
conflict and victory, groaned audibly in dismay.

Then Clinton turned suddenly to his faithful three, whom he had learned
to love.

"Ah! I see how it is," he cried, "and you shall have the chance of glory
you thirst for! Ride, all three of you, to Egmont, and tell him that the
English force will follow swiftly on in the rear of his cavalry, in case
he need support. Tell him I make him a gift of your three swords, if he
can find place for you, and Heaven send you back to me in safety, and
forgive me if I err!"

"Oh, thanks, my Lord, a thousand thanks!" cried the three with one
voice, and in another moment they were thundering forth to the spot
where Egmont's emblazoned standard fluttered heavily in the breeze.

They were just in time; a minute longer and they had been too late!

The sun had burst forth suddenly from a dark bank of clouds; it shone
vividly on Count Egmont as he sat on his great Flemish war-horse,
splendidly armed, in front of his eight thousand cavalry.

Availing themselves of the privilege attached to aides-de-camp, the
three Englishmen traversed the plain in front of the grim line of the
cavalry, motionless, but eagerly awaiting the signal to charge.

Reaching Egmont's side, De Fynes, as the eldest, bared his head and

"A message, my Lord Count, from Lord Clinton!" and he repeated the
message word for word.

Egmont had noted these three young Englishmen as they hung upon his
words in Lord Clinton's tent on the previous night, and he knew the
value of good English swords!

So he smiled as he said—

"Lord Clinton offers your services as my 'aides' to-day; be it so—fall
in behind me."

They bowed their gratitude, then drew their swords and joined the ranks
of the noble youths who followed the banner of Egmont and did him
special and personal service.

Oh, how happy they were!

No fear, no misgiving beclouded their martial souls at that supreme

Suddenly Egmont waved his sword aloft, and the clarions' shrill notes
gave the eagerly looked for signal to charge, and with a wild "Hurrah!"
the serried squadrons thundered down the slopes.

Meanwhile conflicting counsels destroyed the confidence of the French
army, hesitation and dismay beset them. The keen eye of Condé had
watched the dark masses of Spanish cavalry gathering together on the
hills ready to descend like an avalanche on the retreating enemy. De
Montmorency's artillery dragged heavily through the swampy ground in the
rear, and he would not abandon it.

In vain Condé sent swift and urgent messages to him, pointing out the
danger of delay.

It was too late, the Spaniards were upon them! The retreating army
stayed its course and boldly faced the coming storm.

Egmont with two thousand horse charged on their left flank; the other
side was assaulted by the Dukes Eric and Henry of Brunswick, while
Mansfeld burst on their front.

The French army wavered under the tremendous shock, while the camp
followers, pedlers and sutlers took to instant flight, and thus spread
dismay through the entire army.

The Spanish cavalry carried everything before it; the rout was sudden
and final!

The Duc de Nevers made a despairing effort to restore the battle at the
head of five hundred dragoons; but the "black devils," as the Frenchmen
called the "Schwartzreiters," cut them to pieces, and the Duc barely
escaped at the head of a mere handful of men to La Fère, and with him
was the Prince of Condé.

For a time the French infantry presented a bold front; the Gascons, the
flower of the army, threw themselves into squares, and the fierce
cavalry rode round their solid masses, bristling with steel, unable to
find an entrance.

At this moment the Duke of Savoy, with his artillery, came on the field
of action, and their deadly fire sealed the fate of the foe.

Yet the noble chivalry of France refused to be thus scattered and
beaten; they gathered together in groups, fighting desperately to the
last—brave souls to whom death was preferable to surrender!

Many men threw down their arms on that field of blood, many fled
helplessly before the remorseless reiters, the strong overturning the
weak and trampling down the wounded.

Blood flowed like water, death was on every side, and above all other
sounds were the wild neighing of the war-horses and the fierce curses of
their riders.

The fight and the pursuit of the fugitives had lasted four hours; the
shades of evening were falling as the victors returned to the field to
take up their quarters for the night and to secure their unhappy
prisoners, for whom heavy ransoms would have to be paid to their

France had not suffered such a defeat since Agincourt; the bravest and
noblest of her sons had fallen on that field of blood!

Montmorency was a prisoner.

A shot from a schwartzreiter had fractured his thigh as he was throwing
himself into the hottest part of the battle, determined to perish.

Covered with mire and blood, unrecognizable in the fierce mêlée, he
would have died where he fell, at the hands of the fierce foe.

But over his fallen body stood three gallant swordsmen, whose determined
attitude warned all men off. And as the fiery stream of battle flowed
onwards, they lifted up the fallen Constable tenderly, and bore him to a
place of safety.

Yet were they not to do this deed of mercy unmolested. A swarthy reiter
followed them, observing that the fallen man was of high rank.

"I claim this man as my prisoner, and I hold to ransom; mine was the
shot that brought him down," said he fiercely.

"Make your claim good to King Philip, we shall not resist it; the ransom
may be yours, but at present the body is ours," answered De Fynes

And De Montmorency lived to pay so great a ransom (10,000 ducats), that
his captor was able to buy a fortress on the Rhine and a title of

But the Constable's fame as a soldier was lost for ever, and the evening
of his days was spent in obscurity.

That night the three English youths, unwounded and unscathed, reported
themselves to their commander, Lord Clinton. Ah, what a happy meeting
was that! And though the English contingent took no leading part in the
battle, yet their presence before the town prevented Coligni from
succeeding in an attempted sortie from St. Quentin—they did good


                              CHAPTER XII

                        THE FALL OF ST. QUENTIN

A vast amount of spoil fell into the hands of the victors: among it were
eighty standards and all the artillery save two pieces.

The prisoners numbered six thousand men, of whom six hundred were
gentlemen of position.

Of De Montmorency's fine army of twenty-two thousand men all were slain
or captured, save five thousand. Among the slain were some of the
noblest of the sons of France, notably Jean de Bourbon, Count d'Enghien,
a prince of the blood.

On the side of the Spaniards less than a thousand fell, among them being
Count Brederode (who perished in the morass, smothered in his armour)
and Counts Spiegelbourg and Waldeck.

On the next day King Philip himself rode into the camp; he had left
Brussels and was at Cambrai when the battle took place. He was received
with all the honours of war—with unbounded enthusiasm!

The unhappy prisoners were paraded before him in long procession, and
the captured standards were placed at his feet—the camp was delirious
with joy.

A council of war was forthwith held to decide on future operations.

With fiery zeal Egmont and Gonzaga urged that an immediate march on
Paris should be made.

"Send me on with the cavalry, sire, and I promise you that in four days
you shall sup in Paris!" cried Egmont.

But Philip was as cautious as his renowned father, Charles the Fifth,
was adventurous.

When the news of the battle reached the abdicated Emperor, his first
inquiry was "whether Philip was in Paris."

There were many difficulties to be surmounted ere that glorious
consummation could be reached, and Philip laid them before the council.

"St. Quentin must first be taken! Between them and Paris there existed
many a strong fortress, and wide rivers which must be crossed. Moreover,
Paris would not surrender lightly—its citizens could man the walls with
forty thousand men at least.

"Again, Condé and Nevers, with the relics of the broken army, must be
reckoned with. Ere long Guise would come to their support."

So the King argued, and the council reluctantly agreed that all their
efforts should now be concentrated on the capture of St. Quentin.

Before the council broke up King Philip called Egmont to him, and taking
the collar of the Golden Fleece from his own person, placed it upon the
neck of the Count as the real hero of the day!

All Spain ratified the King's deed; "Egmont and St. Quentin" became the
rallying cry of the nation, and the fame of the brave Hollander reached
the farthest limits of the mighty empire over which Philip ruled.

With royal generosity Philip bestowed rich rewards on the chieftains
assembled in council that day. To Savoy princely rank and high office
near his person, and to all others guerdons according to their rank.


There was a great meeting in Egmont's tent that night. Thither came the
English lords—Pembroke, Gray, and Clinton—and at the banquet-table sat
Spanish and Flemish nobles of high degree, many of them bearing the
traces of battle upon them, yet all were jubilant and triumphant.

Behind the great chiefs stood their aides-de-camp, according to Spanish
custom, and among these young warriors were Geoffrey, Ralph, and

Ere the revelry had grown to its height and had become uproarious,
Egmont's eye fell upon the three English youths and, with the generosity
of his noble nature, he called them before him, inquired their name, and
shook each by the hand.

"You rode well to-day, my gallant young soldiers, and I saw you deal
many a lusty blow for the honour of Spain and the Netherlands," he said.
"I marked how you stood by the fallen Constable, and though two
Spaniards, as I hear, claim the honour of his capture, you certainly
rescued his body. You will not forget the day of St. Quentin: I will
give you something whereby to remember it."

Then he called his major-domo to him, and taking a huge gold goblet into
his hand, he cried—

"Fill this goblet with golden ducats."

It was soon done, for King Philip had given him five thousand that day.

"Take it, boys, and divide the money among you and toss for the cup!
Well do you deserve it. England may be proud of her sons if they are all
such as you!"

What wonder that Almoral, Count Egmont, was the hero, the darling,
almost the demi-god of those who served under his banner.

This was the bright and glittering side of war. Alas! how little men
recked of the desolation, death, despair and destruction it caused! How
little thought they in Egmont's tent that night of the unburied dead
whose cold bodies lay on the blood-stained battlefield of St. Quentin!
How little of the broken hearts, the shattered hopes, the desolate homes
in the fair regions of sunny France when the news of that fatal day
should be borne to the humiliated but proud nation!


The next day the Spanish camp resounded with the preparations for the
renewed siege of St. Quentin. Fresh batteries were thrown up on all
sides on which the artillery, captured from the French, was planted,
and, ere many hours had passed, a furious cannonade burst forth upon the
crumbling fortifications of the doomed city. Mines were planted, and
galleries excavated almost to the very centre of St. Quentin.

Yet no thought of surrender occupied the valiant heart of Admiral

It was at this point that his heroism and devotion to duty reached its
height. He knew that the hopes of France depended upon the city being
held till succour came, till the conquering army under Guise could

The able-bodied men of his garrison numbered but eight hundred, and
these were half-starved and well-nigh worn out by incessant exertion.

By night, by day, sleepless yet indefatigable, the gallant Admiral
shared the dangers and the labours of his men; cheering, exhorting,
praising every desperate deed of valour and immediately rewarding it,
the Admiral was the very life and soul of the defence!

Help came to him unexpectedly.

De Nevers, with the relics of the shattered army, still lingered in the
neighbourhood, and he managed to throw one hundred and fifty
arquebusiers into the town, though thrice that number perished in the

Coligni formed countermines, and in subterranean regions fierce combats
took place between the besieged and the besiegers,—men fought like

Yet he knew that the last provisions were being consumed, that huge
breaches were being made in the crumbling walls which St. Remy, the
renowned French engineer, strove to repair, under cover of night, with
desperate energy. Huge timbers were dragged to the top of the tottering
ramparts, and under their shelter the arquebusiers kept up a perpetual
fire on the Spaniards.

Thus the siege went on till August 27. In vain did Coligni scan the
horizon from the top of the cathedral tower—Guise came not!

A most furious cannonade from the Spanish batteries on the night of the
twenty-sixth had resulted in the making of eleven great breaches in the
ramparts, and the Duke of Savoy saw that the time had come for a general
assault upon the city.

Early in the morning he put his whole force under arms, assigning to the
English contingent the honour of leading the assault.

Coligni saw that the decisive hour was at hand. He filled the breaches
with his troops, taking charge of the most dangerous one himself, while
his brother Daudelot took another almost equally critical.

The spirit of the defenders was magnificent, each man felt that the end
was near, and they were prepared to die under the ruins of the city;
none thought of surrender, no white flag was unfurled!

Savoy preluded the general assault by a furious cannonade, and it was
not till the afternoon that the signal was given by the shrill voices of
the trumpets for the great onslaught.

Then the English rushed forward, closely followed by Spaniards, Germans,
and Flemish in generous rivalry. King Philip beheld the wondrous scene
from a neighbouring hill, and his troops, knowing that they were
fighting under the eye of their Sovereign, were inspired with heroic

It was a titanic struggle!

For a whole hour the gaunt and famished Frenchmen held their foes in
check, and at length the Spaniards were driven off—not a single breach
had been carried.

Savoy gave his men a brief breathing time, then the clarions pealed
forth their wild notes again, and the fierce strife burst forth anew.

The Duc's keen eye had noted a weak point in the defence.

A strong tower on the ramparts had been left with few defenders, in
reliance upon its apparent invulnerability. On this point Savoy hurled
the English contingent, and in one great rush it was carried and the
invaders poured into the city.

In vain had Coligni rushed to its defence, fighting desperately, hand-
to-hand, with the assailants. He was overpowered and, with his heroic
brother Daudelot, was taken prisoner.

Immediately he was led through one of the excavated passages by his
captor, Francisco Diaz, to the exterior of the city and into the
presence of King Philip, who gave Diaz ten thousand ducats.

Then a fierce onslaught by the whole army swept all resistance before
it, and in half-an-hour the city was captured!

Philip entered the city in complete armour, a page carrying his helmet;
and a roar of savage triumph went up from his troops as they beheld
their King. He had never been present at the storming of a city before,
and the sights that met his eye moved even his stony heart to pity.

The wild schwartzreiters spared neither age nor sex. As the Frenchmen
retreated to the market-place, where their final slaughter took place,
the troops entered the well-built houses of the citizens, slaying every
living soul within them and loading themselves with rich plunder, some
obtaining two or three thousand ducats apiece. In pure recklessness they
set the houses on fire, and soon the whole city was ablaze.

Philip gave immediate orders that the fires should be quenched, and that
all who surrendered should be admitted to pardon.

Crowds of women and children threw themselves at his feet with loud
cries for mercy, and he ordered them to be escorted out of the city.

But the cruel storm of savage lust and thirst for blood had passed
beyond human control.

As the flames spread to the cathedral and the churches, the women who
had taken refuge within the sacred walls came pouring forth, panic-
stricken with fear. Many of them were richly dressed, some even wore
jewels, perhaps thinking them safer in their possession than if they had
been left in the doomed town.

Upon these helpless women the wild Germans rushed with savage cries,
their ornaments and even their rich garments were torn from them, and
the mad reiters slashed their faces with their daggers and knives.

An infernal din filled the air, screams of anguish, cries for mercy,
mingled with the demoniac shouts and curses of the conquerors.

Under the walls of the venerable cathedral stood a company of English
soldiers; they had been sent by Philip to perform a curious duty.

In that building, dedicated to his honour, were stored up the relics of
St. Quentin, and Philip had ordered that the venerated bones of the
Saint should be conveyed to the camp with all honour, and that a mass
should be sung before them.

And this while the blazing streets were full of the dead and dying,
while helpless children and hapless maidens were being dismembered,
while blood ran in torrents on every side.

Alas, that the royal pity should thus be extended to the dead and denied
to the living!


Among the English group stood Lord Clinton's three aides-de-camp, gazing
on the scene with sullen anger. Many a helpless babe and terror-stricken
mother had they rescued in obedience to Philip's own command.

Suddenly a young Frenchwoman, richly dressed, rushed towards them
followed by a mounted reiter. Ere she could reach the place of safety
the trooper overtook her, and with one cruel sweep of his sword lopped
off her right arm. She fell to her feet and the soldier lifted his sword
again, with the evident intent of depriving her of both her arms. But
ere he could accomplish his fell purpose Ralph sprang forward with a

"Devil, fiend and assassin!" he cried, as he ran his sharp rapier
through the reiter's sword-arm.

The German's weapon dropped from his right hand, and with his left he
strove to draw a pistol from his holster, as he turned fiercely upon his
assailant. But pain and anguish overcame him, and he reeled from his

The deed had been seen by his comrades, and, in an instant, a troop of
them faced the English, who had leapt to Ralph's side, with wild cries
of vengeance. They had dragged their wounded comrade into their midst,
now they drew their huge pistols from their holsters and, advancing on
the English, their leader cried, as he pointed to Ralph—

"Deliver that man up to us or we will slay you all!"

It was at this critical moment that the great door of the cathedral was
thrown open and a white-robed procession of priests issued from it; they
were bearing forth the relics of St. Quentin in obedience to the King's
command. And on the southern side of the place the King, in his flashing
Milanese armour, and mounted on his war-horse, advanced to meet them,
greeting the sacred relics with bowed head.

His royal presence quelled the tumult; all weapons were lowered till the
King should have passed on his way. But the King's keen eye had noted
that something unusual had happened—that the English and the Germans
were confronting each other in deadly hostility.

He beckoned Count Mansfeld to his side, the reiter chieftain had been
riding behind him. Pointing to the two groups of soldiers, he said—

"Something has gone amiss. Your brave reiters, Count, are getting out of
hand. Stay here with fifty of my guards, inquire into the case and
report it to me this night."

Mansfeld bowed low in acquiescence, and the King rode slowly off in the
rear of the priestly procession. The instant the King was gone the Count
turned sternly on the offenders as the fifty guards drew up behind him.

The old Count was the sternest disciplinarian in the Spanish army, and
all men knew it. None but he could bring an enraged, riotous reiter to

"Come hither, Friedrich," he said in cold tones of command to the leader
of the German troop. "Tell me briefly, what means this?"

"Yon Englishman," said Friedrich, "ran his poniard through Gustav's arm,
and we were about to avenge him."

"And wherefore did he that?" said Mansfeld.

The reiter captain hesitated, and the Count's face grew sternly fierce.

"Was that the cause?" he said, pointing to where the body of the woman

She had gone into a swoon, and beside her lay her severed arm.

"I see," said the Count, with increased severity; "and the Englishman
avenged her; was not that so?"

The reiter captain still remained silent.

"Yet you knew of the King's command that mercy should be shown to all
women and children."

Then he turned to his escort.

"Take that wounded man," he said, pointing to the schwartzreiter, now
craven with fear and crying for mercy, "hang him from yon turret
forthwith in token that the King's order must be obeyed!"

The order was instantly obeyed.

The night was coming down upon the unhappy city and no deed of justice,
no royal order could quell the thirst for blood, for rapine and pillage
which possessed the mad soldiery who held St. Quentin in their power
that night. The powers of evil took full possession of the fallen town—
it was given over to sack and pillage.

The chieftains had retired to the camp to celebrate their victory with
banquets, the King was holding high service over the relics of St.
Quentin, the army was left in possession of the city. It was burning in
every part, and houses were falling with thunderous sound.

Yet the soldiers dashed through flame and smoke like demons, in eager
search for booty. The cellars were plundered, the garrets were searched,
nothing escaped the greed and brutality of the plunderers.

The streets were strewn with the bodies and dismembered limbs of the
vanquished, and famished dogs were ravenously gnawing human flesh.

Such women as had escaped had been again driven by Philip's order into
the cathedral, and there were left to perish by famine!

Yet, while sin and crime lifted their heads high and unabashed, there
were three delinquents who met condign punishment, and their case was a
singular one.

Three Germans made their way into the vestry of the cathedral, and they
emerged thence clothed in gorgeous copes and chasubles. Mounting their
horses outside the cathedral, they rode gaily about the burning town,
their strange attire attracting laughter and derision from their

By some strange fatality this escapade came to the ears of Philip,
perhaps the royal chaplain informed him of it.

The offenders were instantly sought for and arrested. Philip ordered all
of the three to be hanged! His sensitive soul could not endure this
outrage upon religion, though for three days and three dreadful nights
he had allowed the pillage of the city to continue.

On the morning of the fourth day all soldiers were ordered into camp.
The desolated city was left in peace—it was the peace of the dead!

So fell St. Quentin!


                              CHAPTER XIII

                          THE SCHWARTZREITERS

The week which followed the fall of St. Quentin was a period of
strenuous exertion on the part of the conquerors.

The dead were buried, the city was cleansed of its many impurities, and
the devastating fires which had threatened the destruction of the whole
town were at length subdued.

Of all the religious edifices in the city the cathedral alone remained
unconsumed by the devouring element. Philip had himself superintended
the efforts made for its preservation; streets were pulled down, strong
buildings were blown up by gunpowder, and at length the noble building
stood in grand isolation, but safe from fire.

A strong Spanish garrison was placed in possession of St. Quentin; the
remainder of the army was under orders to prepare for instant and active

The neighbouring towns of Picardy, Catelet, Ham, and Chanley were to be
besieged forthwith, and the camp was full of zeal and animation—for
surely fresh spoils awaited the soldiers of Philip, and bright visions
of glory and honour filled the minds of the chieftains. In the English
camp alone these feelings held no sway. The war had never been popular
with them—they felt that they were fighting the battles of King Philip,
and not those of their own country.

And now that the main object of the expedition had been won, and the
chief town in Picardy captured, the English contingent were eager to
return home.


In the evening of a fine September day Lord Clinton's three aides-de-
camp were reposing in their tent after a day's active exertion.

That day a courier had brought them letters from England, and the young
men were eagerly discussing home news.

Susan had written to each of them, for she had much to tell.

The fires of Smithfield had burst forth anew, to the horror of the
people and the grief of all good men. That very day three victims had
perished, and the Queen's guards had scarce prevented the London people
from attempting forcible rescue.

One condemned man had been pardoned by the Cardinal Archbishop, and many
were said to have been freed by him after brief examination and apparent
but doubtful submission.

Rumours were afloat in London, Susan said, that the Cardinal had fallen
out of favour at Rome, and that the Pope (Paul IV) had deprived him of
his legatine commission and had recalled him to Rome. The Archbishop was
in bad health, and on this plea the Queen had refused to give him
permission to leave the country.

These things brought great unhappiness to the Queen, and added to them
was the increasing malignity of her disorder—she was evidently sinking
into the grave—and there was none to pity her!

"Alas, poor Queen," wrote Susan, "unloved by her people, deserted by her
husband, worried by the Pope, and conscious, above all, that she had
failed in the one object of her life, and that her successor, the
Princess Elizabeth, would undo all her work for the 'conversion' of

Yet Susan had some good news to tell them.

"Sir John was in excellent health, and he had lately received news from
their beloved father that he and their dear Vicar were well, and were
determined to return to England on the day when the Princess should be
declared Queen.

"Oh, when will you three dear boys come home?" she wrote. "How I long
for that day, how I picture ourselves at the beloved home in Sussex, the
sweet old house at Chiddingly!

"I close my eyes, and my mind pictures to me the green woods and the
noble sweep of the Sussex downs. I seem to hear the cawing of the rooks
in the tall trees and the singing of the birds in the shrubberies. Oh, I
grow mad with deep longing! God send you home quickly, safe and sound."

The boys listened to these words with bated breath—perhaps with
moistened eyes—for Susan's passionate love for her Sussex home expressed
their own deep longings.

"Here comes Lord Clinton," said Geoffrey suddenly, as he saw their
lord's well-known figure approaching the tent.

They rose to receive him; then, as he took a seat, after some pleasant
words of greeting, William spoke—

"We are happy to see you, my Lord; we are anxious to know if our
marching orders have been given."

"It is on that very point that I am come to see you. I have my marching
orders, but I am not sure that I shall take you with me."

The young "aides" started with surprise; but ere they could seek an
explanation of his words Lord Clinton proceeded to say—

"I wish to hold a brief consultation with you. Count Mansfeld has just
brought me some sinister news. He tells me that his reiters have
discovered that it was Ralph's poniard which disabled the man who was
afterwards hung from the cathedral turret, and they have sworn to avenge
his death.

"He has sent them a message that he will sharply punish the perpetrators
of any such an attempt, but Mansfeld tells me that his men are in a
dangerous humour, and he wished me to warn you to keep to the limits of
your own camp, and that even within those limits Ralph should never
wander alone."

The young soldiers smiled disdainfully.

"Our swords can guard our heads, my Lord, we have no fear!" said

"Yes, I know that," cried Clinton, "but I want to make assurance doubly

"Now, listen. By to-day's courier the King has received some disquieting
news. Guise is collecting a great army under King Henry's orders, and
Philip has a suspicion that Calais is to be the object of his attack.

"From his spies at the French Court he hears that the Bishop of Acqs,
the French envoy to England, has just returned home, and that he passed
through Calais _en route_. He reports that the town is practically
defenceless; the garrison is small, the fortifications are in a state of

"The King is sending swift messengers to Queen Mary to urge her to
remedy this condition of things, but he wishes to obtain proof that the
Bishop's statements are true. I have offered him your services, if you
are willing to undertake the duty. What say you?

"Your mission will be a secret one, and it will be attended with many
dangers both by land and sea; but it will bring you much honour if you
succeed. From Calais you would proceed direct to Dover, and so to London
to lay your report before the Queen."

The boys listened with glistening eyes; this was the Heaven-sent
fulfilment of their dearest hopes! With one voice they cried—

"We accept!"

"I knew that you would do so," replied Clinton, "and I go to ask the
King to give you a letter to be presented to Lord Wentworth, the
Governor of Calais. Make your preparations with all possible secrecy—you
will start to-night under cover of darkness. Your route will be to
Brussels, and thence to Antwerp, where you will embark on a King's ship
for Calais.

"I will provide you with three strong horses; at Brussels you will
change these for three others, which you will leave at Antwerp. There is
no moon to-night, happily; you must start at eight o'clock, and I will
be here to give you money and your last instructions. Now I go to the
King; commence your preparations at once; I return to you in an hour's
time," and therewith Lord Clinton left them.

What joy he left behind him! The three boys flung their caps in the air,
they shook each other by the hand, they would have given hearty cheers
but for the remembrance that secrecy had now become their watchword.

Their preparations would be few, but even for these they required the
help of their three faithful serving lads, strong Chiddingly lads of
approved courage, who loved their young masters better than their lives.

"Oh, that we might take the lads with us," cried Ralph. "I will follow
Lord Clinton and seek his permission," he added.

"That you may not do," said Geoffrey firmly; "do you not remember that
you are not to leave the tent alone? If you go we must accompany you.

"But stay; is there not a better way? If Lord Clinton consent, the three
lads can ride on our horses, though they are somewhat sorry nags; we
will lay the matter before him when he returns at eight o'clock.
Meanwhile, they can help us furbish our weapons and prepare our
travelling packs, they can feed the horses and have them ready to set
forth, we need not tell them more than is necessary, that we have to
ride forth on the King's business to-night will suffice."

So it was decided.

The lads occupied an adjoining tent; they were at this moment awaiting
their masters' summons to prepare their simple evening meal. They were
called in, and speedily all things were proceeding according to
Geoffrey's suggestions.

The shades of night were deepening as they sat down to supper, it was a
quarter to eight o'clock. The camp fires were being lit, and the
soldiers of the English contingent were gathering around them in merry

It was eight o'clock and the young Englishmen had supped, all their
preparations were complete.

The flap of the tent lifted silently, and two cloaked figures entered,
their features hidden in the folds of their outer garments. These they
now cast aside, and by the dim light which illumined the tent the
"aides" recognized Lord Clinton, and with him the King!

Instantly the young men knelt on one knee before him and kissed his

Philip gazed intently upon their countenances: he knew them fairly well,
but it seemed as if he wished to reassure himself. Then in a low, cold,
but distinct voice he said to Lord Clinton—

"They will do; we have met under many different circumstances, and I
know them to be brave men."

"Your Majesty is right," replied Lord Clinton, "they will do their duty
or die in endeavouring to fulfil it."

Then Philip addressed the Englishmen.

Their mission required secrecy, speed, courage and endurance. They were
to make close inspection of the fortifications, guns, material of war,
and the garrison of Calais with Lord Wentworth's help, to whom he had
written. This letter, which he now gave them, must never fall into the
hands of the enemy, to whom it would reveal all his suspicions and
plans. He delivered this letter into the hands of Monsieur de Fynes, as
the eldest of the three. If danger befell them it were better that the
two younger men should perish, so long as the bearer of the letter
escaped. If he fell into the hands of the foe let him see that the
letter was destroyed at all hazards. The perilous part of their journey
would be the portion of it which lay in French territory, but twelve
hours hard riding would carry them into Flanders, after which there
would be little danger, yet let them never remit their precautions.

The King then handed to each man a heavy purse of gold wherewith to
defray expenses, the surplus, if any, would be their own.

"I hear the sound of your horses outside the tent," said the King; "have
I made all explicit, is there any question you would like to ask?"

The young men looked at each other. Then Geoffrey spoke—

"Your Majesty may rely on our carrying out your gracious commands, or we
shall perish in the attempt. We have but one thing to suggest, and that
is that our three faithful servants may accompany us; they can ride our
own horses and they will be of great service to us."

The King and Lord Clinton conversed in low tones, then Clinton announced
their decision.

"His Majesty agrees to your request," he said; "we think it will attract
less observation and suspicion if three gentlemen be accompanied by
their serving men than if they travelled alone: it is a wise suggestion
on your part."

Then the King and Lord Clinton arose from their seats and prepared to
depart. The King extended his hand, which the young men again knelt to
kiss, and he bade them farewell. Lord Clinton shook hands warmly with

"Adieu! _mes braves gens_," he said: "God grant you a safe and
successful journey. We shall next meet in London, I trust. Farewell,
farewell." And so they left the tent.

The young men stood in silence for a moment, then Geoffrey spoke—

"The King has laid a heavy trust upon us," he said, "and therein has
conferred on us great honour, for we shall now be doing service to our
own dear country as well as to his. Let us ask a greater King than
Philip, even our Heavenly Father, to bless our enterprise."

With one impulse the young men knelt, and for a few minutes held silent
converse with God. Ere they left the tent William spoke.

"In this matter, my brothers, we need a leader whom we swear to obey in
all things. I propose that Geoffrey be our captain."

"Nay," urged Geoffrey; but ere he could proceed further Ralph

"I consent, and that most heartily," he said.

Geoffrey grasped the hands of his two comrades and said—

"Let it be as you wish, my brothers, and my first word of command is to
horse! to horse!"

It was a lovely night, the stars shone brilliantly in the autumnal sky,
a light refreshing breeze had sprung up.

Outside the tent six horses stood awaiting their riders. Three of these
were held by Lord Clinton's grooms; they were great Flemish war-horses
of a renowned breed, beside which the three English horses, held by the
Sussex lads, looked small and insignificant. Yet these latter were wiry
and strong; happily they were in excellent condition and fit for the
long journey before them.

Before they mounted their horses the Englishmen closely inspected every
part of the harness, to assure themselves that nothing was amiss. The
lads' horses were examined with equal care, and the weapons of their
riders underwent Geoffrey's keen scrutiny. Every man was armed with a
brace of pistolets and with poniard and dagger. The inspection was over,
and, at the word of command, the six men swung into their saddles.

"Slowly through the camp," said Geoffrey in a low voice.

As they moved forward a camp follower, apparently the worse for drink,
lurched heavily against one of the lads' horses and caught at his
stirrup to steady himself.

"Where away, comrade?" he hiccuped to the lad, who in reply slashed at
the impudent villain with his whip.

Geoffrey's quick ear had caught the sound of a voice, and he instantly
reined up his horse.

"Stop that man," he cried; but it was too late, he had darted out of
sight in the darkness.

The party went on, the three young masters riding abreast, the lads
following closely behind. They wound their way carefully through the
camp, now thronged with soldiers, sutlers and followers of all kinds.

It was a striking sight. Huge fires burned high at regular intervals,
and around them all the revelry of a camp in time of war was beginning.

At ten o'clock a gun would be fired and all fires would be put out, all
strangers turned out of camp, and stillness would come down where
pandemonium had so lately held sway.

The passing of the travellers through the camp excited no observation
nor surprise. Armed couriers were frequently sent out to the outlying
posts and the neighbouring towns. These latter were falling daily into
the possession of the conquering army.

So the party rode forward unmolestedly and slowly till the confines of
the camp were reached. Before them lay the broad trackway which led to
Brussels. It was a rough, rugged road, but it was sufficiently plain to
follow, even in the semi-darkness of the night. The late contending
armies had passed along it recently, and all wayside inns and even
private houses had been ruthlessly plundered and, in most cases, burnt.
The despoiled inhabitants, the peasantry, the woodsmen, the charcoal
burners, and a host of others had fled into the woods for safety.
Desperate and starving, the men had formed themselves into marauding
bands, and many a fair chateau, many a quiet, peaceful farm-house and
village hamlet had been plundered by them in turn.

Each night the reddened sky told of some dreadful fire, and for the
moment the law was powerless. Woe to the unarmed traveller, woe to the
wounded straggler who limped behind his regiment if they fell into the
hands of a furious peasantry!

This was one of the dangers which Philip had in his mind when he told
the young men that their chief peril would be as they passed through
French territory.

"Halt!" cried Geoffrey, as the party entered upon the military road, and
all drew rein and gathered around him. "It is right, my lads," said he,
"that you should know whither we ride to-night, and, as you will share
whatever perils may befall us, whither we go. We ride on the King's
business to Brussels, that is our first halting-place. Before us lies a
long journey, perhaps of ten or twelve hours in duration, through the
enemy's country. Be wary, be watchful, see that your pistols are ready
for service and your swords loose in their sheaths. We ride at a hand-
gallop, not too fast lest we distress our horses too soon. You, Robin,
will be our advance-guard, and you will ride a hundred yards ahead of
us. You, Hal, will ride a hundred yards behind us, and you, Tom, will
keep close to our rear, we may need you as a messenger. A shrill whistle
will be the signal that we all unite in one body, that danger is near.
The advance-guard will ever be on the alert to see that the road is
clear, that no obstacles be placed in our way by the 'gueux' who haunt
these devastated regions. The rear-guard will see, above all things,
that we are not followed by foes. Now have I made all things clear?"

"Aye, aye, sir," cried the men.

"Then let us ride on, in God's name," said Geoffrey.

Robin galloped forward, the four men followed in close order, the rear-
guard took up his allotted position. The lights from the camp illumined
the country in the rear, and for a long time the hum of the warlike
multitude filled the air.

Thus half-an-hour passed; they were galloping at a fairly easy pace
along the rough road, and the great Flemish horses were warming to their
work, sometimes neighing gaily as they tossed their heavy manes in the

Not a sound now broke the solemn silence of the night, save the beating
of the horses' hoofs on the hard road.

They passed through hamlets once full of happy and industrious
peasantry, now scenes of black ruin and dire desolation.

Sometimes starving dogs would follow them with a fierce howl, and it
became necessary to beat off the poor animals with the whip. Sometimes a
solitary shout, or the shrill scream of a woman's voice reached their
ears, and the young men would have halted out of pure compassion. But it
might not be!

"On, on!" cried Geoffrey; "we may not draw rein for man nor woman, for
foe nor friend, till we have done the King's business."

The signs of the works of the Prince of Darkness were often visible, and
the sky in a dozen places reflected the red glare of lurid flames.

Once they came very near to a scene of fierce conflict—men were
besieging a strong stone mill and the valiant miller was making a hard
fight for his life and homestead.

Ralph was strongly moved at this sight, all his keen soldierly instincts
arose in his soul, and he laid his hand on Geoffrey's arm as he cried—

"Oh! may we not make one gallant charge on that murderous mob? we should
scatter them as chaff before the wind. Oh! Geoffrey, give leave, I

"And lose the King's letter, perhaps. Nay, my brave boy, it must not
be," answered Geoffrey, as they galloped on.

On, on into the darkness they rode, their gallant horses neither
faltering nor failing. As they rode a shrill cry as of some stricken
creature in its last agony burst upon their ears; they could not avoid
this case of distress, it lay in their very road.

A group of men could be dimly discerned at the roadside. They had heeded
not the approach of a single horseman as Robin swept past them, but as
the central group came thundering on the men leapt into the adjoining

"Halt!" cried Geoffrey, and he blew his signal to the advance-guard.

A man was evidently bound to a tree; at his feet was a half-extinguished

Seizing a firebrand and swinging it into flame, the lad Tom (who had
dismounted) held it close to the prisoner's face, then cut his bonds
with his dagger. The man was a Jewish peddler, and his mutilated hands
showed the cause of his cries of anguish, three of his fingers had been
roughly cut away.

"Speak, man!" cried Geoffrey; "tell us quickly your case, for we may not

Then the peddler told them, in hurried words, that he had fallen into
the hands of robbers, and that they were torturing him until he should
tell them where he had concealed his pack.

"And where is your pack?" said Geoffrey.

The man hesitated, he cast a suspicious eye on Geoffrey.

"Put aside your fear, man," said Geoffrey; "we are Englishmen on service
for King Philip, and we are in hot haste."

"At Busigney, my lord," said the peddler, regaining confidence.

Geoffrey consulted with his comrades for a few moments. They would pass
Busigney shortly on their route, they could not leave the man to perish;
a decision was soon reached.

"We will take you to Busigney," said Geoffrey; "mount behind me, my
horse is strong and will carry two as well as one."

"Heaven bless you, my lord," replied the man, and by the help of the lad
Tom he was soon seated behind Geoffrey.

"Forward!" cried Geoffrey, "we have lost valuable time and we must make
up for it," and the whole party galloped on at increased speed.

But ere they had gone far the lad in the rear overtook them at a hot

"There is a strong body of cavalry coming up behind us, and in a few
moments they will over-take us—they are riding furiously."

Geoffrey called all his party together, still riding onward.

"Which is it, boys," he cried, "fight or flight? The first may be fatal
to our mission, the second may fail."

Then the peddler spake—

"If I may venture my advice, gentlemen, you will neither fight nor fly,
at least until you know who these men are. A hundred yards ahead there
is a deep dell overhung with trees. Under their shelter you may let this
band of cavalry pass on, after you have seen them you may take better
counsel as to your action."

"Right!" cried Geoffrey; and in a few moments they reached, under the
peddler's direction, the place of temporary safety.

They had not long to wait. In two or three minutes a band of from twenty
to thirty schwartzreiters came thundering on.

"How did they know of our journey?" whispered Ralph.

"Remember the drunken camp follower ere we left the camp?" replied
Geoffrey. "I knew he was a spy."

They had not been perceived in the thick shades of the trees—but what
now? It was equally dangerous to advance or retire.

It was at this dread and critical moment that a wonderful intervention
came. There arose in the stillness of the night a great sound like the
shock of battle or the fall of an avalanche.

"Oh, God! it is the barricade!" cried the peddler; "I passed it half-an-
hour ago."

"What barricade?" said Geoffrey eagerly.

"The 'gueux' have filled the road with huge stones, gathered from the
quarry hard by, it is their favourite trap to catch night travellers,
and the reiters have fallen into it."

"And a moment more _we_ should have fallen into it," cried Geoffrey.

"No," said the peddler, "for I was about to tell you of it. But, hark!
the 'gueux' are attacking the fallen reiters."

"Come," cried Geoffrey, "we must see what is passing; keep close
together, make no noise. If any reiter escapes from the mêlée cut him
down with your swords, or we shall be discovered."

The "gueux" possessed guns and fowling-pieces, and now they were pouring
in a desultory fire upon the confused mass of fallen men around the
barricade. There seemed to be hundreds of wild figures gathering to the
scene of conflict, and fresh bodies of them were pouring from the woods.

Then a hand-to-hand fight ensued, so fierce in character that it was a
combat of fiends rather than of men. No quarter was asked or given, it
was a fight to the death.

Soon it was evident that the reiters were being overpowered,
notwithstanding their superiority in equipment and discipline. Their
foes were twenty to one, and many of the Germans were lying in a
helpless mass of men and horses amid the great quarry stones. Their
battle-cries grew feebler and feebler; Geoffrey saw that the end would
soon come.

"But what then?" thought Geoffrey anxiously.

The "gueux" would be as dangerous to them as to the reiters, they would
make no distinction between English and Germans, all fought alike for
their detested enemy King Philip.

Once again the peddler intervened, as he sat behind Geoffrey.

"My lord, my lord," he said in an agitated voice, "we must be gone, or
we shall likewise perish."

"We cannot pass the gueux," said Geoffrey, "and I cannot return to the
camp; what third course is there?"


"My lord," said the man, "you saved my life, will you trust yours to me?
I know every pathway of these woods, I can take you by a safe road to
Busigney if you will take me as your guide; the bypath enters the woods
just below here, and once at Busigney you are on the main road again."

For a minute Geoffrey consulted with his comrades, then he turned to the

"You seem to be an honest man, we will trust you," he said. "Lead on, we
accept your services as guide."

The party retraced their steps for about a hundred yards.

"Here is the entrance into the woods," said the peddler, as a leafy
avenue dimly disclosed itself on the left side of the road.

They turned into it, and now they were gently and noiselessly traversing
the woods by a smoothly turfed trackway.

"To the right," cried the peddler, as they came to a crossway, and
Geoffrey perceived that they were now riding in a parallel track to the
road they had quitted.

The roar of battle had quieted down, but the wind brought to their ears
the exultant shouts of the gueux, the victors in the deadly strife.

From time to time some dark body would rush across the track or dive
into the forest, once indeed a musket-shot was fired at them randomly.
These were marauders hastening to the scene of conflict, eager to
participate in the spoils.

"We must ride quicker," said Geoffrey; "soon the gueux will know of our
presence and we shall be pursued."

"Beware," said the peddler in reply, "sometimes there are fallen trees
across the track. We rejoin the main road in a few minutes."

Geoffrey saw the wisdom of this advice, and they rode stealthily

Presently they emerged into a clearing and, to their joy, saw the great
military road in front of them. Once upon it they put their horses to
their fullest speed, there were no further barricades to dread, the
peddler told them.

In half-an-hour they were in the little town of Busigney, a town held to
be neutral by both the contending armies, for it was the patrimony of
Mary the Duchess of Burgundy, now the Regent of the Netherlands for
Philip. In a few minutes they had drawn up in front of a little hotel,
"L'Eperon d'Or," and the peddler, dismounting, entered the house. He
quickly returned, accompanied by the "maitre d'hotel."

"Here, my lord," he said to Geoffrey, "you can refresh your horses and
yourselves also, if you need it, yet I urge you to remember that your
foes are near, therefore you may not tarry long."

"We owe you a thousand thanks," said Geoffrey. "Will you not take
refreshment with us?"

"Nay, my lord, it is well-nigh midnight, and I must seek a chirurgeon
this night to set my wounded hand in order."

"Ah! I had forgotten your grievous hurt," said Geoffrey. "You are a
brave and gallant man, Mr. Peddler, may I not add a little golden salve
to the remedy?" and he produced his purse.

"Nay, nay, my lord," said the man quickly, "you have already given me my
reward, it was a life for a life!"

And forthwith he left them.


                              CHAPTER XIV

                       BRUSSELS, ANTWERP, CALAIS

The horsemen needed but little time wherein to refresh themselves and
their horses. The aubergiste, at Geoffrey's command, brought forth his
best wine for the gentlemen, and his ostlers produced corn and water for
the horses. In half-an-hour the order to remount was given, and soon the
party was trotting quietly through the cobbled streets of Busigney.

Their next halting-place would be Mons; in two hours' time they would be
out of French territory.

Clear of the town they put their horses to a hand-gallop, and once more
the devastation of war became evident. All was ruin and desolation in
this once fertile region, there seemed to be nothing left by the cruel
marauding hands of men!

The villages and hamlets still smouldered, and the air was reeking with
pungent smoke; but there were no inhabitants, all had fled from the
neighbourhood of the great military highway.

Yet Geoffrey and his companions relaxed nothing of their keen vigilance.
Robin rode ahead and Hal in the rear as before.

On, on, through the night!

The stars shone brilliantly, not a cloud flecked the sky. Ill-omened
blotches of red light on the horizon marked where the gueux were still
at their evil work, but even these grew fewer as the small hours of the
morning passed and the travellers were reaching Flemish territory.

All at once the advance-guard dropped back upon them. He reported that a
crowd of men were approaching; they were not in military order, but they
were occupying the whole road.

Geoffrey signalled to the rear-guard to join them, and a rapid
consultation ensued. Finally, Geoffrey ordered the three lads to fall in
behind the gentlemen; then with drawn swords all advanced at slow pace
towards the oncoming mob. Many of these men carried pine-knot torches,
and by their flickering and lurid light it could be seen that they were
rudely armed peasantry—scythes, pitchforks and huge clubs were their
chief weapons, and these they waved aloft with wild cries of defiance.
The three young soldiers felt a true pity for these homeless and
houseless men, and Geoffrey resolved to win his way through them by
expostulation, if it were possible.

Reining up his steed he waited till the gueux were close at hand, then
he thundered out—

"Halt there, if you value your lives!"

The men uttered derisive cries—yet they halted.

"Why do you obstruct the King's highway? make way, or you will rue the
day when you strove to stop six heavily-armed men."

Their leader stepped to the front.

"You are six in number, are you," he cried, "and we are ten to one
against you! Dismount from your horses, give them up to us and we will
let you pass," he continued.

"Fools!" cried Geoffrey angrily; "do you think to frighten soldiers with
your base threats? Yet I know that you are poor and starving, and I
would not willingly put you to the sword. Hear me! On the word of a
gentleman I promise you that if you make way for us I will scatter five
gold pieces among you. Now answer me, and that quickly!"

For a moment the men drew together to consider the offer. But the very
mention of "gold pieces" aroused their base passions and cupidity;
perhaps they thought that fear dictated the generous offer. Then the
leader cried out—

"We will have your gold and your horses too; dismount and we promise you
your lives."

Geoffrey turned rapidly to his men.

"Two abreast," he cried; "are you ready? Charge!"

Then they dug their spurs into their horses' flanks and, like a
thunderbolt, they hurled themselves into the midst of the seething mob,
with a wild British cheer! Cutting, slashing, hewing, stabbing, the six
trained and disciplined soldiers passed through their foes as if they
had been but wax dolls or stuffed effigies. In less than a minute they
had won their way, and the path through which they had passed was strewn
with the dead and dying.

Then Geoffrey cried "Halt!"

The gueux were a hundred yards behind them, and they showed no
inclination to pursue.

"Is any man hurt?" cried Geoffrey to his party.

Two lads answered—

"Only a little blood-letting, sir."

"Then in God's name let us ride forward," cried Geoffrey: "we have
punished those poor wretches sufficiently; but they would have it,
Heaven pity them!"

On, on once more into the night.

The morn was breaking, streaks of grey light quivered in the sky and the
stars were losing their brilliance. They were approaching the confines
of Flanders, and as the dawn deepened into day the watch-towers of
Maubeuge came in sight. It was a frontier town, and in times of peace
its barriers would have been kept by an armed force, not to be passed
till all dues and customs had been paid, and all questions fully

As the armed party appeared in view the shrill voice of a trumpet rang
out, and men were to be seen hurrying to their places of observation.
But the sight of six men in uniform, fully armed, seemed to render all
formalities unnecessary, and no resistance to their passage was made as
the party rode through the town making no halt in it.

The sun was rising in great splendour; it shone upon a scene that
cheered the hearts of the horsemen. All was bright and peaceful, the
fields were yellow with corn and the reapers were everywhere at work.

"Oh, blessed peace!" said William to Ralph; "who would not sigh for the
time when wars should be no more, when men shall 'beat their swords into
ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks'!"

They rode more gently now, for their gallant steeds were beginning to
flag. At mid-day the towers and spires of Mons came into sight and the
splendid tracery of the glorious Cathedral of St. Wandru, as it
displayed itself against a sky of opal blue, filled them with

Reaching the Grande Place, they halted in front of the Hôtel de la
Couronne, and the weary travellers dismounted. They, as well as their
horses, needed repose, and Geoffrey decreed a respite of three hours.


All too soon Geoffrey aroused his comrades, who had both dined and slept
after they had seen carefully that the needs of their horses had
received attention.

"To horse, to horse," cried Geoffrey: "we must be in Brussels ere

Once more they were in the saddle, and the bells of the cathedral tolled
the hour of three as they rode across the bridge of the river Trouille,
fresh and reinvigorated. Their horses had been well cared for, and they
seemed to share the exhilaration of their riders.

On through the pleasant plains of Flanders, through Jubise, Nivelles,
Brise-le-Compte, and many another small town. They sang, they talked to
their horses and caressed them, and the noble animals responded to their
efforts as they cantered forwards.

Yet night was falling ere the noble town of Brussels was reached; the
sweet-toned bells of the great Cathedral, St. Gudule, were chiming, and
presently they announced the hour—it was eight o'clock.

The party halted in the Grande Place under the shadow of the splendid
Hôtel de Ville, and Geoffrey quickly found a comfortable hotel where
they could stable their horses and refresh themselves.

Then he wended his way to the burgomaster's house, that he might lodge
his demand for six fresh horses "for the King's service." He encountered
no difficulties, and this business being accomplished he rejoined his
companions at the Hôtel de Flandres.

The horses were ordered for midnight, when they would begin the last
stage of their long ride; they would reach Antwerp by daybreak, if all
went well. They had four hours for rest and refreshment, yet, when they
had dined, and ere they snatched an hour's sleep, the gentlemen of the
party strolled for a brief space in the Grande Place. It was full of
gaily-dressed citizens; and great lanterns, suspended on poles at
intervals, cast a bright light upon the animated scene.

Here were gallant young Spanish officers, belonging to the garrison of
the city, attracting the eyes of all beholders by the glitter of their
uniforms and the easy hauteur with which they moved among the people.

There were civic dignitaries in rich flowing robes, escorting their
wives and daughters to an entertainment which was being given that night
by Margaret, Duchess of Parma, the King's half-sister. She was paying a
brief visit to the city, where she had spent her childhood; she was soon
to become the Regent of the Netherlands.

There were groups of monks in the many-coloured robes of their Orders,
Black Dominicans, White Augustinians and Brown Benedictines.

All sorts and conditions of men were there, and the young Englishmen
watched them with keen interest. So novel a scene had they never
witnessed, nor so lovely a house as the "Maison du Roi," which blazed
with light in all its windows on the eastern side of the Place.

Ah, what a house that was! Richly sculptured, ornamented with armorial
bearings, which glittered with crimson and gold; so splendid that it was
sometimes called "The Golden House." It was in front of that very house
that, eleven years later, twenty-five Flemish nobles passed to their
doom on the scaffold—it was in the spring of 1568. Two months later
Counts Egmont and Horn were led forth from that gorgeous abode to perish
under the headsman's axe.

There was no prophetic vision to foretell these dread things; and that
night, as the young Englishmen gazed upon it in all its sumptuous
beauty, the wildest imagination would not have dreamt of so tragic a

The eyes of the young men lingered on these scenes of fascination, and,
for a time, they lost the feeling of weariness and fatigue.

"Come, boys," cried Geoffrey, as he laid his hands on their shoulders,
"this will not do! The clocks are chiming for the ninth hour, and at
twelve we have to be in the saddle."

So they retraced their steps to the Hôtel de Flandres and soon "fell on
sleep," perhaps to dream of gallant courtiers, stout burghers, of civic
dignitaries and the fair ladies of the wondrous city of Brussels.


The hour of midnight had come, and in the spacious stable-yard of the
hotel six fine Flemish horses, fully harnessed for military service,
awaited their riders. Nor had they long to wait.

Scarce had the sound of the chiming bells died down than the six
horsemen made their appearance. Again was a minute examination made of
every part of the equipment, again the men renewed the priming of their
pistols and shook their sword-belts into position.

"Are you all ready?" cried Geoffrey, when all was finished. And in
response to the "Aye, aye, sir," of the men, the word of command came—

"Then mount; we ride in pairs till we are clear of the city, then as
before: Robin in front and Hal behind."

Quietly they rode through the dimly-lit streets and passed over the
river Senne into the open country. They were on a good road now (the
ancient Roman "street"), which led straight away to Antwerp, through
Mechlin, where they would make their first halt.

They were splendidly mounted and their horses broke into an easy canter,
tossing their long manes and snorting, as if with joy. Through verdant
plains, through teeming cornfields, through villages and small towns,
onwards they galloped till the lights of Mechlin came in sight.
Presently they were riding gently through the ancient town, and the
carillon in the lofty belfry of St. Rombaut rang out the hour of two as
they drew rein in the Grande Place.

The city watchmen gathered round them, eager to do them service as soon
as Geoffrey had informed them that he rode on the King's business. Corn
and water were quickly found for the horses, wine from some secret store
for the men (the hotels were fast locked for the night), for all of
which things Geoffrey paid with free hand. Thus half-an-hour was spent,
then the horsemen remounted their steeds and they cantered gaily out of
the town.

"Heigh ho, for Antwerp, our last stage!" cried Geoffrey, as they rode
out into the darkness.

So fresh were their horses that they rode now at full gallop, and the
country seemed to fly by them. A grey light was tingeing the eastern
horizon as they drew near Antwerp, the dawn had begun as they rode up to
the watch-towers of the fortified town.

Their approach had been signalled by trumpet blasts, and a strong body
of town-guards awaited them. The horsemen drew up as the captain of the
guard approached them, and to him Geoffrey handed his papers as he said—

"On the King's service!"

Everything was _en règle_, and in a few moments the great gates were
opened and the party entered Antwerp and proceeded direct to the Quai.

Antwerp was waking up, and already crowds of men were making their way
to the great dockyard of the city. Sailors of many nationalities were
proceeding to their ships, which lay at anchor on the broad waters of
the noble river Scheldt.

Lord Clinton had provided Geoffrey with a "King's mandate" addressed to
the dock-master, and the party soon found their way to that
functionary's official residence.

Herr Van Luhys, the worthy dock-master, had not yet opened his doors to
the outside world, and the sleepy watchman gazed with dismay at the six
horsemen who, dismounted, stood at the door asking for immediate
audience. It was not till Geoffrey had slipped a doubloon into the man's
hand that he consented to awake his master and to convey a message to

But the words "On the King's Service" soon brought the dock-master into
the hall, where the three Englishmen awaited him. Geoffrey handed the
King's mandate to him, at the sight of which document Herr Van Luhys
bowed low and asked his early visitors to be seated, while he read the

The effect was immediate.

"I am the King's servant and loyal subject," he said: "his commands
shall be obeyed. I am bidden to find you immediate means of reaching
Calais, and to see that your horses are returned to the Burgomaster of
Brussels. By Heaven's good providence the _Santa Trinadad_, a swift
King's ship, is in the harbour, and she sails in an hour's time. I will
send word to the captain at once, that six gentlemen are coming on board
his ship, and that he is to await your presence before he lifts anchor.
Meanwhile, gentlemen, you will break your fast with me, I trust, if you
will do me so great an honour."

Geoffrey bowed courteously, and very thankfully accepted the dock-
master's offers of service and breakfast. They were weary, and their
long ride had made them hungry: an hour could not be spent more
profitably than at Herr Van der Luhys's breakfast table.

Their horses were sent under the care of grooms, hastily summoned, to
the stables, and men-servants began in hot haste to prepare a meal for
the dock-master's guests.

A great table stood in the centre of the hall: soon it was covered with
a fair white cloth, and fish, flesh and fowl were produced and set out
as if by magic. The honest Dutchman's larder was evidently well stocked
and his cellar was equally good, for in a trice curious bottles of
spirits and tall flasks, full of wine, were brought forth.

Van Luhys sat at table with his guests, and when the claims of hunger
had been somewhat appeased he plied them with questions. He would fain
know all about the battle and siege of St. Quentin; what were the King's
plans of campaign; where was the Duke of Guise's army; where was De
Nevers; what great reward was to be given to their noble compatriot
Count Egmont, and many other like things! And so an hour rapidly passed,
so quickly indeed that a message from the Captain of the _Santa
Trinadad_ came to them almost as a surprise.

"The tide was falling, the gentlemen should come aboard as quickly as

Geoffrey would have made his adieux, but the hospitable Van Luhys
insisted on seeing his guests safely on board the ship; moreover, he
wished to introduce them to his honourable friend Captain Don Gonzaga.

So the party rose from table and made their way through the docks, now
become a scene of great activity. No town in Europe possessed a finer
harbour than Antwerp, and its vast fortifications were maintained with
zealous care: a garrison of five thousand Spaniards defended them.

A walk of a few minutes brought them to the water-side, where the war-
ship floated at anchor. She was a noble vessel, carrying forty-five
guns, though many of them were of small calibre. Her decks were crowded
with sailors, among whom Geoffrey noted fifty men-at-arms, wearing
glittering cuirasses and morions and armed with arquebuses and swords.
Many sailors had gone aloft, awaiting the signal to unfurl the sails and
fling out the royal standard of Spain.

As the party stepped on board, headed by the dock-master, Captain
Gonzaga advanced to meet them. He was a young Castilian noble of purest
blood and long descent, and his manners, though courteous, were tinged
with a certain hauteur.

"To what happy circumstances am I to attribute the honour of the company
of these gentlemen?" he said, with a ceremonious bow towards them.

"I have the 'King's mandate,' honourable Captain, to see that they are
conveyed to Calais with no delay," said Herr Van der Luhys.

"I would fain see the 'mandate,'" replied Don Gonzaga.

The dock-master bridled up somewhat.

"It is addressed to me," he said, "but I have it with me and you are
welcome to see it;" and therewith he handed the document to the
punctilious Captain, who hastily perused it.

As he read the names of the three gentlemen therein set forth, he
started as he saw that of Geoffrey de Fynes, and his manner of bearing
underwent a sudden change.

"Which of you gentlemen is Mr. Geoffrey de Fynes?" he inquired.

Geoffrey bowed slightly in reply.

"Of Herstmonceux in the County of Sussex?" inquired the Captain.

"My father was Baron Dacres of Herstmonceux", said Geoffrey.

"I welcome you on board my ship," said Don Gonzaga warmly, as he held
out his hand, which Geoffrey took courteously. "My father was the
Spanish Ambassador at the Court of King Henry the Eighth," continued the
Captain, "and your father, Baron Dacres, was his bosom friend; I venture
to hope that a like bond may unite their sons! Now come to my cabin,
gentlemen, for in a few minutes we start for Calais."

Then they bade farewell to the worthy Herr Van der Luhys and followed
Gonzaga to his cabin. It was the "state room" of the ship, luxuriously

"Make this cabin your own, gentlemen, while you do me the honour of
remaining on the _Santa Trinadad_," said the Captain. "And now I must
hasten on deck," he continued; "we are just moving out," and with a bow
he left them.

It was not long before the Englishmen ascended to the deck, eager to see
the country through which they were passing. The sun was shining
brightly on the broad, deep waters of the Scheldt as the noble ship
slowly threaded its way out of the crowded port of Antwerp. Soon the
majestic city faded out of sight, and on each side of the river a flat
and somewhat desolate landscape extended itself.

There were broad meadows, reclaimed from the sea, on which great droves
of oxen were pastured; there were innumerable wind-mills and quaint
Dutch farm-houses. Occasionally a village came in sight with a metal-
sheathed spire rising from its midst. Soon Flushing was reached, the
pilot was dropped and the vessel was in the open sea, under full sail.

At mid-day dinner was served in the great mess-room, and Don Gonzaga
introduced his guests to the officers of the ship.

Spain was the rival with England for the sovereignty of the sea, and, as
a rule, there was little love lost between the sailors of the two
nations. But now, taking their cue from their young Captain, the Spanish
officers vied in showing hospitality to their English guests. As the
banquet, for it really deserved the name, came to a close and the four
young men were left alone, Gonzaga turned to Geoffrey, who sat on his
right hand, and said—

"Shall I tell you how my father first met Lord Dacres? He often told the
tale to me."

And on Geoffrey's eager acquiescence, he proceeded to say—

"It was in the spring of 1538, and my father was summoned to a banquet
at the King's Palace at Greenwich. As he crossed Blackheath on foot,
accompanied by a small band of servants, he was attacked by a strong
body of highwaymen. A desperate fight ensued, and one by one all my
fathers servants fell, and he alone was left, fighting desperately for
his life with his back against a stone wall. The assassins knew him, and
perhaps they were anxious to take him alive and so claim a great ransom.
Or perhaps his skill with the rapier saved him, for he was thought to be
the finest swordsman of Spain. His foes called on him to surrender, but
they called in vain, though he was sorely wounded—a Gonzaga dies but
never surrenders!

"A few minutes more and the tragedy would have been complete, for my
father was growing faint with loss of blood. But the noise of the strife
was heard afar, and suddenly help came. With a shout of 'Dacres to the
rescue,' six stout Sussex men attacked the highwaymen in the rear, and
they took to flight. Then your noble father, Lord Dacres, bound up
Gonzaga's wounds, and his men bore him to Greenwich Palace. His wounds
were not serious, and in a few weeks' time he had quite recovered from
them. And that was the beginning of a firm friendship between our
fathers, only too soon to end by the tragic event which all good men
will ever deplore."

Geoffrey was deeply moved as he grasped Don Gonzaga's proffered hand and
shook it warmly.

"I was but a babe," he said, "when my father perished at Tyburn, but I
love his revered memory, and my one hope in life, above all others, is
to see his honour vindicated!"

"May that day soon come!" said Gonzaga.

Then the four young men returned to the deck, and at the request of the
Englishmen the Captain took them all over the war-ship, and afterwards
put the crew and the men-at-arms through a smart drill, in which the
wonderful efficiency of the men excited the Englishmen's admiration.


The voyage was drawing to an end. Ostend and Dunkirk had been passed,
and as evening fell Calais came in sight.

At eight o'clock the ship dropped her anchor in front of the town,
firing a salute in honour of the flag of St. George, which floated on
the bastion. Then a boat was lowered, and, ere taking their departure,
the Englishmen took an affectionate farewell of their new friend.

"We shall meet again," said Gonzaga.

"At Herstmonceux, I hope," replied Geoffrey, as they shook hands once

Half-an-hour later the young men were in Calais, and the _Santa
Trinadad_ pursued her journey to Spain, whither she was bound.


                               CHAPTER XV


Calais was a petty fishing village in the tenth century, and its first
appearance in the annals of history was when Baldwin the Fourth, Count
of Flanders, took it under his fostering care and its earliest
fortifications were built.

Perceiving its natural advantages, Philip of France, Count of Boulogne,
took serious steps for its defence. A citadel was built, forts were
erected, a lofty watch-tower was constructed on the bastion fronting the
sea, which for centuries was the chief light-house of Calais. The town
was encircled by strong walls, deep moats were constructed, every art
known to the engineers of that age was employed, and the town was
thought to be impregnable.

King Edward the Third captured it after the great battle of Crécy, and
it took that warlike monarch eleven months ere he became master of the
town, chiefly aided by the grim necessities of famine. It became an
English town, and for two hundred years it had resisted the repeated
efforts of France to reconquer it. The English rebuilt the cathedral of
Notre Dame, whose lofty tower served as a landmark for sailors. When the
sovereigns of England and France met on the "Field of the Cloth of
Gold," much money was spent on the town by the English.

Wolsey's keen eye marked the decrepitude of its walls, and he spent
twenty thousand crowns in strengthening them. Yet vague rumours had
lately gone abroad that its fortifications were tottering to a fall,
undermined by the action of the sea; that the ancient artillery which
defended its walls was but a vain show, and that its garrison of eight
hundred men was not only inadequate, but it was untrustworthy from a
military point of view. It had become a kind of depôt for old soldiers,
ill watch was kept, and loose discipline was maintained.

Alarmed by the reports which the Bishop of Acqs had conveyed to the
French Government (all of which were known by him), Philip took serious
alarm. In hot haste he laid these matters before the English Government,
only to find his reports to be received with the utmost incredulity. The
two hundred years of almost quiet possession had begotten a fatal sense
of security on the part of the English.

Again Philip sent to Cardinal Pole, who was the Queen's chief adviser,
offering to garrison Calais with Spaniards at his own expense; but this
offer was received coldly by the English Government, whose suspicion of
the Spaniard, and of Philip himself especially, reigned supreme. Then
Philip suggested a greatly increased garrison, of which one half should
be English and the other Spanish. The offer was refused.

It was under these circumstances that the King had sent Geoffrey,
William and Ralph to make a secret inspection of the town and its
garrison. Their report was to be given to Cardinal Pole himself. Philip
knew that these three young Englishmen were favourably known to the
Cardinal, and that his eminence would feel sure that their testimony
would be disinterested and reliable.

It was under these circumstances that Geoffrey and his companions landed
at Calais on a fine September evening in the year 1557. The approach of
their boat had been perceived from the watch-tower, and as it grated on
the shore a company of armed men waited to receive them. The uniforms of
the young men gave assurance to the captain of the guard, he recognized
the blue accoutrements of the English contingent, now serving with King
Philip. It was therefore with the utmost courtesy and with military
salute that Captain Lascelles advanced towards the visitors and asked to
be allowed to inspect their papers.

"We come from St. Quentin as direct envoys from the King to Lord
Wentworth, the Governor of Calais," replied Geoffrey. "May we ask you to
conduct us to him?" he continued.

"Whom have I the honour to address?" inquired the Captain.

"Geoffrey de Fynes, William Jefferay, Ralph Jefferay, aides-de-camp to
Lord Clinton, second in command of the English contingent serving in
France," replied Geoffrey.

Captain Lascelles bowed low.

"I will conduct you to the Governor's lodgings in the citadel
forthwith," he replied; "but I fear you will not see Lord Wentworth to-
night, he is entertaining the officers of the garrison to supper."

"We thank you for your courtesy, sir," replied Geoffrey; and the Captain
leading the way the party ascended to the citadel which overlooked the
little town.

Through narrow, ill-paved streets, dimly lit, they proceeded in silence
till the plateau was reached which fronted the gloomy old citadel.

The Captain gave the password at the gates, then he called for Lord
Wentworth's major-domo, with whom he held a brief consultation apart.
Then turning to Geoffrey, he said—

"The Castle is very full of guests to-night, yet the major-domo can give
you 'soldiers' quarters' if you will deign to accept so humble a

"We are soldiers," replied Geoffrey cheerfully, "we ask for nothing

Forthwith the official led them through a long vaulted passage, lit with
oil lamps, from which they emerged into a large low vaulted room,
roughly but sufficiently furnished with tables and wooden benches. A
great fire-place occupied one end of the room, and a quantity of
firewood lay on the hearth waiting to be kindled.

Three stone-mullioned windows gave light and air, and from them the
twinkling lights of the town could be perceived as it stretched itself
out below them. Cressets hung from the walls, and into one of them the
major-domo thrust the blazing torch he had been carrying.

"By my faith I am sorry to give you so poor a lodging," said Captain
Lascelles; "but to-morrow the major-domo will be able to do something
better for you. Beyond this room there lies another exactly like it, but
furnished with truckle-beds, which shall be provided with fresh and
clean linen and blankets for you. And now, gentlemen," he continued,
"may I suggest that you come to my quarters in the Castle, which, poor
as they are, present a few more comforts than this cold stone room.
Meanwhile, your varlets can light your fires and help the major-domo to
lay your supper—what say you?"

The offer was so kindly made and evidently so well meant, that Geoffrey
at once answered—

"Most willingly, sir, and we are greatly your debtors. Meanwhile," he
added, "I have a letter from Lord Clinton to the Governor, will you
kindly see that it reaches his hand to-night; the royal mandate from
King Philip I must deliver to his Lordship myself."

"It shall be done," said Captain Lascelles; "and now, if it please you,
I beg you to follow me."

A few steps brought them to the courtyard, and crossing it the Captain
led the way to a flight of stone steps on the southern side. Ascending
these the party found themselves in front of a strong, heavy door, on
which Captain Lascelles rapped loudly.

A soldier speedily answered the summons and led the way to his master's
quarters, holding aloft a flaming torch. It was a stone-built room, even
the floor was stone, like every other chamber in that ancient citadel,
but in every other respect it was luxuriously furnished. Glittering
designs in daggers and poniards of every age adorned the walls, which
were covered with rich tapestries, soft couches and divans invited to
repose, curiously carved tables and chairs testified to the taste and
elegance of the young Captain of the guard.

"Be seated, gentlemen," cried Lascelles, as he sounded a gong and bade
his servants bring wine and refreshment.

"But are we not keeping you from the Governor's hospitable table?" said
Geoffrey, as the sounds of arriving guests ascended from the courtyard.

"Nay," said the Captain, with a laugh; "I am on duty to-night."

"Then, in that case, I pray that you will not let us burden you with our
company," replied Geoffrey.

"I am free for an hour," replied Lascelles; "De Courcy, my lieutenant,
takes my place."

So they sat down while rich wines were being poured into silver goblets
and toasts were drunk. Lascelles would fain know all the recent military
news from St. Quentin, of which the world knew little as yet. He was
eager to hear of the King's present position and his schemes for the
future. On many such points Geoffrey was able and willing to give
information; on others he preserved a discreet silence, as became a
King's envoy sent on a secret mission.

Thus an hour flew rapidly by, and then Geoffrey, pleading fatigue,
obtained his host's permission to withdraw to the quarters assigned to
them. There they found bright fires burning, and a substantial meal had
been provided by the major-domo, with wines for the gentlemen and small-
beer for the varlets.

The evening was speeding on, and the Englishmen were about to retire to
their truckle-beds, when an unlooked-for intervention occurred. There
was a knock at the door, then it was thrown open and a young aide-de-
camp, richly dressed, stepped into the room with the words—

"May it please you, gentlemen, his Excellency the Governor!" and
therewith the Earl of Wentworth appeared on the threshold.

He was splendidly dressed, as became a great noble. He had left his
guests for a brief space, and so was in all the rich attire of the
banqueting-room. Bowing courteously to the young men, he besought them
to take their seats, as he sat down on one of the rough chairs of the
guard-room. Turning to his aide-de-camp the Governor said—

"Descend to the courtyard and wait there for me, take with you the three
grooms, and let no man disturb us."

The envoys were left alone with the Earl.

Lord Wentworth was an elderly man of grave and even majestic mien. As
"Lord of the Marches" he had seen much service in the Border warfare
between England and Scotland; he had only recently been appointed to the
Governorship of Calais. In quiet and easy tones he addressed the envoys.

"Lord Clinton's letter has just reached my hands," he said, "and in it
he tells me that you are the bearers of a royal mandate for me from King
Philip. He tells me that the matter is urgent, and that must be my
excuse for disturbing you at this late hour of the night. I crave your
pardon therein. I shall be glad to read the mandate ere I retire to

Geoffrey at once arose, bowed low, and presented the royal document.

"I thank you, young sir," said the Earl. "To-morrow morning at nine
o'clock I ask your company to breakfast, there is much that you can tell
me which I am very desirous to hear, for Lord Clinton tells me that you
come direct from St. Quentin. And now I will not detain you from your
rest, you have travelled far and must needs be fatigued. And so good-
night, gentlemen!"

And therewith the Earl, attended by Geoffrey, who carried a torch,
descended to the courtyard. Ere the Governor quitted his young
companion, he said—

"I gather from Lord Clinton's letter that one of you three gentlemen is
Geoffrey de Fynes—are you he?"

"Yes, your Lordship," replied Geoffrey.

"Then you are of the family of the 'Dacres of the South,' I presume,"
said the Earl. "I have known the 'Dacres of the North' all my life and I
have been honoured by their friendship."

Then the Earl shook hands warmly with Geoffrey.

"I am glad to know you, sir, and to welcome you to this town of Calais,
of which your grandfather was Governor in the famous year of 'The Field
of the Cloth of Gold,' unless I err?"

Geoffrey bowed acquiescence, and the interview came to an end.

Soon the six weary travellers sought their truckle-beds and found solace
in sleep.


The morning had come, the Earl and his three young guests had
breakfasted in the great hall of the Castle. The servants had been
dismissed and the gentlemen sat alone.

"Last night," said the Earl to them, "I read King Philip's letter, and I
gather from it that he wishes me to allow you three gentlemen to make a
thorough, but informal, inspection of the fortifications and the
garrison of Calais. You will carry your report to Cardinal Pole, and the
King earnestly hopes that the English Government will remedy whatsoever
may be lacking here. His Majesty's wishes are commands to me, and they
shall be willingly obeyed. Indeed, I am heartily glad to have this new
opportunity of laying our needs before the Government, to whom I have
written many letters and sent many messengers in vain. The King is
rightly informed respecting the condition of matters here; it is true we
need more men, more guns, and a greater supply of ammunition, and our
walls are crumbling into ruin in many important points. Yet I do not
fear any foe, nor do I believe that Calais can fall. I held Berwick
Castle against all the power of Scotland, with a smaller garrison and
with poorer means of defence!

"But now we will go forth and you shall see for yourselves how matters
stand with us. First, we will inspect the Castle itself, and I will show
you our magazines. And we go unattended, remembering that your mission
is a secret one. The garrison is being drilled in the great courtyard at
this moment. You shall see the men under arms."

The Governor had ordered a full muster this morning, and the courtyard
presented a scene full of life and animation when the whole garrison
presented arms as the Earl and his guests made their appearance.

The envoys passed between the lines and closely inspected the men and
their equipment. The review was soon completed, and the men went to
their quarters with a great beating of drums and blowing of trumpets.

"What think you of them?" asked the Governor, as he and his guests moved
on to the bastions.

The envoys consulted together for a brief space, and then Geoffrey, as
spokesman, gave their opinion.

"The men were gallant English soldiers, but they were chiefly old men,
some of them surely past the usual age for men on service. Their weapons
were older still, and the arquebusiers were astonishingly few in
number," such was their verdict.

The Governor sighed as he admitted that the criticism was just, and he
now proceeded to lead the party to the Castle wall.

Many of the great guns were so old that it would be dangerous to use
them; one wondrous piece of artillery dated back to the days of Crécy.

"But others are on their way hither," the Governor explained. "They were
at Dover waiting for shipment," according to his latest information.

Then a circuit of the fortifications was made, and it was all too
evident that many towers were crumbling to ruin.

Later in the day the Governor took his guests to the outer walls of the
town, the bulwarks of Froyton and Neslé were visited, Newhaven Bridge
(as it was somewhat curiously named) was traversed, and they inspected
the Risbank and the great moats. These moats formed a vital point in the
defence of Calais, should the day of trial come, yet were so ill cared
for that some were dry, and in others the water was so shallow that
great mudbanks displayed themselves in their midst.

It was with saddened hearts that the envoys returned to the Castle,
having inspected the sea walls and the surrounding country as far as
Guisnes and Hames.


The night had fallen, the great gates of the Castle were closed and the
watches were set.

The envoys were the guests of the Governor, and they sat at supper in
the great hall. This was the noblest room in the Castle, it had been
built by King Henry the Fifth, and it was a worthy trophy of the Warrior
King. Its lofty roof towered above them, dimly seen by the light of the
great lanterns which hung upon the walls. On festive nights the iron
cressets, suspended at intervals between the lanterns, were filled with
blazing torches, and over the "high table" hung handsome candelabra,
which on rare occasions glittered with the light of hundreds of wax
candles. But this was a "low night," and the daïs was illuminated by
lanterns only.

"So to-morrow you leave us," said the Governor, as the supper being
finished they sat over their wine. "I am sorry that you cannot prolong
your stay, for I would fain have seen more of you, but I know it is
impossible. I will not ask you aught respecting your report to the
Cardinal, but I can divine what it will be. You tell me that the English
contingent are clamouring for their return home: ask him to send me but
a thousand of those gallant men and I will pledge my honour that in
Calais the flag of St. George will never give place to the lilies of
France! But above all things let the help, whatever it may be, come
quickly. I have forgotten what little Latin I ever knew, but there is an
old tag which I learnt at Carlisle Grammar School which dwells in my
memory: _Bis dat qui cito dat!_"

The young men were much moved as the veteran soldier talked.

"God grant that the Cardinal may listen to us, and that the Government
will heed him," said Ralph.

"But the Cardinal _is_ the Government, for at this moment he rules
supreme in the council, and the Queen relies implicitly upon his
advice," replied the Governor. "Persuade him and the thing is
accomplished. Calais will stand for another two hundred years as the
brightest gem in the English crown—Heaven grant it!"

"But meanwhile," interposed Ralph again, "meanwhile, _if Guise come_?"

"Our latest advice is that Guise will _not_ come," answered the
Governor; "he has joined De Nevers and their combined armies are moving
into Picardy: all men say that France will make a desperate effort to
reconquer St. Quentin—and will make it soon."

"It is the unexpected which happens," said Geoffrey.

So they talked till the hour grew late and it was time to retire. This
night they were to occupy the "Guest chamber" in the Governor's lodging.

"To-morrow, then," said the Earl, as he bade them a good-night, "to-
morrow the tide serves at ten in the morning, and I have ordered a swift
fly-boat to be ready for you at the quay at that hour. And now good-
night, good-night!"


                              CHAPTER XVI

                               HOME AGAIN

It was a dull gloomy day, the first day of "chill October." The envoys
stood on the deck of the fly-ship as she cleared out of Calais harbour,
and they watched the fast-receding vista of the old English town, the
last remnant of the once vast Continental possessions of the Plantagenet

The flag of St. George hung loosely on the summit of the lofty tower of
Notre Dame. The rain had sodden it, and there was little wind to throw
out its heavy folds.

There was much cause why Geoffrey, William and Ralph should rejoice and
be glad. Their mission was drawing to an end, and all things had gone
happily. They had passed through many dangers, and a Divine Providence
had surely watched over them. Soon they would be in London, and a
rapturous welcome awaited them at Gray's Inn!

Yet these were three patriotic young Englishmen, and an indefinable
oppression weighed down their spirits as they caught their last view of
the flag of St. George floating over Calais. A prophetic intimation of
evil oppressed their hearts.

They had lately been brought into close contact with the gallant
soldiers of France; they had fought against Montmorency and Coligni;
they could appreciate the desperate valour of a Guise!

How would the worn-out and meagre garrison of Calais, defending its
crumbling walls, withstand the onslaught of such men?

"Oh, brother," said Geoffrey, as he laid his hand on William's shoulder,
"I fear for Calais!"

"And I also," said William.

"And I," said Ralph, and the hearts of the young men were heavy within

But presently the sun broke through a bank of clouds, and lo! there,
right in front of them, were the white cliffs of dear old England.

"Heaviness may endure for a night, but joy cometh in the morning."

"God save England!" cried Geoffrey, and they flung up their caps with

Soon they were in Dover, and as the evening came on they were galloping
on three stout horses into Canterbury. They made no stay in the grand
old cathedral city, but rode quickly through it.

At Rochester, where the grim old castle built by William de Corbeuil
frowned upon them, they halted to refresh themselves and their horses.

On through the night for London!

They were crossing Blackheath at a gentle canter when a slight
interruption to their progress occurred. It was a moonless night, but
the stars were shining brightly. A small band of horsemen barred their
road, and a rough voice called out "Halt!"

"Certainly," cried Geoffrey merrily, as he reined up his horse, and his
sword rattled as he drew it from its steel scabbard, a proceeding
instantly imitated by his companions. "What is your pleasure,
gentlemen?" he cried. "A merry passage of arms on the Queen's highway?
By all means; you do us much honour!"

But the night rufflers had seen and heard enough, and in a moment they
were disappearing in the darkness. Perhaps they had thought to encounter
three harmless travellers; they had no mind to display their valour
against three soldiers of the English contingent!

With a loud laugh the travellers galloped on.

Soon they were threading their way carefully through the narrow streets
of the suburbs of London, and they headed straight for Gray's Inn. They
would have gone direct to Lambeth, where the Archbishop was in
residence, but the hour was unseemly—the night was not yet past.

So they rode to Gray's Inn, where they aroused the watchmen at the
stables, and, like good soldiers, saw to the needs of their horses ere
they cared for themselves. The day was dawning as they presented
themselves at the great door of the Treasurer's lodgings and woke up the
sleepy night porter, who was slumbering in his cell.

Glad was old Robin to see his young masters, of whom nothing had been
heard at Gray's Inn for many a day. They were neither hungry nor
thirsty, for they had supped well at Rochester; yet the porter was able
to find some wine and bread for the weary travellers.

But their chief need was rest, and they at once sought their way to
their well-known rooms, which had not been occupied since they left

They would sleep, they told Robin, for the next three hours, and at
breakfast time they would present themselves to Sir John and Mistress
Susan, who might be informed of their arrival when they descended to the
breakfast room.

"Oh, thank God, to be at home once more!" cried Ralph.

"Yes, let us thank Him together," said Geoffrey gravely, and the three
young soldiers knelt in silence. Then they sought the much needed rest,
and were soon in deep sleep.

It was eight o'clock when the sound of the gong aroused the sleepers,
and, after a hasty preparation, they descended to the breakfast room.

Ah! what a meeting was that.

There stood Sir John, lost in wonder and delight; there was Susan, clad
in some bewitching morning costume, her long fair hair loosely tied with
some bright ribbons and falling in masses over her shoulders.

"My boys, my boys," cried Sir John, as he embraced them, kissing them on
both cheeks, "welcome home!"

Then came Susan's turn, and joy shone in her fair eyes as she kissed
them all, Geoffrey not being excepted.

It was long ere they could sit down to breakfast, so much had they to
tell and to ask. Eating and drinking were much too prosaic occupations
for such a time as that!

But there was an air of gravity on Sir John's face as he presently asked
the boys what brought them home so suddenly; when last he heard of them
they were on service at St. Quentin.

Then Geoffrey told briefly the history of their special mission,
reserving all details for some future occasion.

"And now we must hie to Lambeth," said he, "for our business with the
Cardinal is urgent."

"You cannot see him until after the hour of ten," replied Sir John,
"when the service in Lambeth Chapel ends. Until that service is over his
Eminence receives no man. I will send a messenger to him, informing him
of your arrival and your business, asking for an early audience."

Sir John adjourned to the library, and the letter was written and
despatched immediately.

Then the whole party met again in that noble room, and Sir John
proceeded to tell the envoys of the present position of affairs in

"The Queen," said he, "is rapidly failing in health, and the Romanist
party is in grave alarm, especially at Court, where the greatest gloom
prevails. All eyes turn to the Princess Elizabeth, who is the hope of
the Reformation party, which is both numerous and strong; already the
courtiers are flocking to Hatfield, where Elizabeth resides.

"Cardinal Pole, also, is becoming each day feebler in body, and his
illness is aggravated by the treatment he has received at the hands of
Pope Paul the Fourth—who has summoned him to Rome to answer to various
charges brought against him, amongst others the charge of heresy. The
Pope has revoked his Legation, and has appointed Cardinal Peto as his
Legate to England.

"The Queen sternly resists these papal measures; she refuses to allow
Pole to leave the kingdom, and she will not allow Peto to enter it. All
the ports are watched, and no messengers from Rome are admitted to
England. Alas! poor Queen," cried Sir John, "deserted by her husband,
and harassed by the Pope for whom she has done so much, who would not
pity her?

"The fires of Smithfield, and at a hundred other places, have quenched
whatsoever love her subjects once had for her. They distrust Philip and
hate the Spaniards with so mortal a hatred, that no man of that race
dare appear openly in the streets of London, and they are fleeing from
England in shoals; our friend Don Diego left last week.

"For Cardinal Pole much popular sympathy exists. His noble birth and
blameless life plead for him, and the mercy he has shown to many a poor
prisoner is alleged by the people to be the cause of his present
disgrace at Rome."

So the discourse went on till Sir John's messenger to Lambeth returned;
the Cardinal would receive the envoys at once, and forthwith the young
men rose to obey the summons.


The clocks were striking ten as the envoys entered the palace of
Lambeth; they were conducted immediately to the Cardinal's presence.

He was busily writing as they entered the audience chamber. It was
plainly furnished; there were no luxuries, no ostentation here.

He rose to greet them, and, as he did so, his wan face lit up with a
kindly smile. They knelt on one knee and kissed the hand he extended to

"Welcome, my sons," he said; "you come from St. Quentin and Calais, Sir
John Jefferay tells me, as envoys from the King."

Geoffrey bowed low as he handed their credentials to the Cardinal, among
them a letter from Philip to his Eminence. This letter Cardinal Pole
proceeded to read at once.

"I perceive," he said at length, "that his Majesty is greatly concerned
respecting the condition of Calais, and that he sent ye thither that you
might report to the Government the true state of things in that town."

Geoffrey then presented to the Cardinal a letter from the Lord
Wentworth, in which the urgent needs of Calais were set forth for the
Government's information. Pole read this carefully.

"My sons," he said, "you have been eye-witnesses of the things of which
this letter treats; now tell me what you have seen; I know that you are
good men and true, and that you will neither conceal nor exaggerate the
needs and condition of the town of Calais."

Then Geoffrey proceeded in grave and carefully considered words to give
their report.

He spoke of the weakness in numbers of the garrison, and of their
inefficiency through age and decrepitude. He set forth the lack of the
munitions of war, the antiquity of the artillery and the means of
defence generally. He described the ruinous condition of the
fortifications, and especially the state of the moats. And to all this
William and Ralph testified their assent.

Then the Cardinal questioned them on many points, and the envoys duly

"These things must be remedied, and I will see Lord Arundel about them
to-day," said the Cardinal. "I hear that the English contingent return
home shortly; it may be possible to induce some of them to re-enlist for
the defence of Calais under Lord Gray, who knows the town well. At any
rate, I thank you heartily for your report, and the matter shall be
taken in hand at once.

"Now tell me, when last did you see King Philip?"

"Four days since, at St. Quentin," replied Geoffrey.

"You must have travelled very quickly," said the Cardinal.

"We did not spare our horses, your Eminence," replied Geoffrey, with a

"You are brave young soldiers," said Pole warmly, "and you deserve well
of your Queen and country.

"I will inform her Majesty of your return to London, and as I know that
she greatly desires to hear news from St. Quentin, I doubt not but that
she will send for you. Hold yourselves at liberty to come to Court to-
night. If the Queen be sufficiently well to receive you I will send you
a message to that effect.

"And now I bid you 'good-day.' I would fain detain you longer, but
business of State awaits me, and my time is not my own. Meanwhile you
can prepare for me a written report of the state and condition of

And so the good Cardinal dismissed them, and they hastened back to
Gray's Inn.


The evening was closing in, supper was over, and a happy family party
was gathered together in the library.

To-morrow many friends would join them, to welcome the return of the
travellers; there would be Don Renard, Sir Philip Broke, the Lord Mayor,
and other distinguished guests; but to-night theirs was a joy with which
"the stranger intermeddleth not": it was a purely family gathering. Much
they talked of the battle and siege of St. Quentin, much had they to
tell of Egmont, Horn, Montmorency, and Coligni; but it was the ride
through the forest and the encounter with the "gueux" which held Susan
spellbound. Her eyes were fastened on the young warriors with
irrepressible admiration, and glistened with love as she listened.

Then the interview of the morning was told, and the Cardinal's
intimation that they might be wanted at Whitehall that night was not

At this last piece of news Sir John seemed troubled.

"I foresee," he said, "that the Queen or the Cardinal will offer you
some military promotion and duty which would do you much honour, and
perhaps delight your hearts. But danger lies that way.

"The Queen's days are numbered—no man doubts it, and soon the Princess
Elizabeth will be called to the throne. And to stand well with Mary, to
be actively engaged in her service would be fatal to the statesman,
soldier or lawyer when the new era dawns upon the world."

Sir John spoke in a low voice, and with extreme gravity.

"Remember also, my boys, that we Jefferays belong to the party of the
Reformation; that at this very moment your father is an exile by reason
of his religious opinions. Therefore I counsel you to resume your old
occupation here, and, for the moment, to lay aside the sword. The time
will soon come when you may re-consider the matter; I counsel you to
await that hour with patience."

The young men looked grave also, for it was in their hearts that if the
Cardinal asked it, they would offer him their swords in defence of
Calais while there were yet time to save it.

It was at this moment that the old major-domo asked admission to the
room; he brought them the news that a Queen's messenger stood at the
door seeking an interview with his young masters.

The summons to Whitehall had arrived, as the envoys told Sir John when
they had interviewed the messenger.

"Go, my boys, go, but remember my advice," said Sir John, as the family
gathering came to an end.


The journey to Whitehall was soon accomplished. The Royal Palace was
shrouded in gloom; it was but dimly lit up, for it was not a "guest

Alas! guest nights were rare events now that the Queen lay ill; in fact,
she had withdrawn herself from almost all public functions.

The Palace was strongly guarded, and ere the young soldiers could gain
admittance the officer on duty demanded the password.

It had been communicated to them by the messenger, and, strange to say,
the word for the night was "St. Quentin."

Their business being ascertained, they were immediately conducted to the
private room occupied by the Cardinal when he was at Whitehall, and soon
they were ushered into his presence.

He was busily engaged in writing despatches at a side-table lit by wax
candles, nor did he lay aside his work till the documents were signed
and sealed; then he turned round and faced his visitors.

He was clad in a plain purple cassock, the only sign of his exalted
rank. His handsome face was wan and pale. Alas! his health was fast
failing, as all men knew.

"Welcome, my sons," he said; "the Queen is anxiously awaiting your
arrival, though the hour grows late; we will go to her at once," and
rising he led the way to the royal apartments.

Various corridors and chambers were traversed; they were quite empty
save for the halberdiers who kept guard in the palace.

"Stay here a moment," said the Cardinal in a low voice, as they reached
a richly furnished ante-chamber, at the end of which rich curtains hung.

Through these the Cardinal passed; a minute later he rejoined the
envoys, saying—

"Her Majesty will see you, weary as she is in mind and body; follow me."

They entered Queen Mary's boudoir, the two ladies-in-waiting leaving the
room on the Cardinal's signal.

Mary was reclining on a soft couch; she rose to a sitting posture as she
saw the young men, and graciously extended her hand, which they kissed
as they fell on one knee.

She was very pale, and there were marks of acute suffering in her drawn
and wasted face.

"His Eminence tells me that you are just arrived in London from St.
Quentin; when did you leave that town?"

"Four days since, may it please your Majesty," answered Geoffrey, now
standing erect.

"Only four days," murmured the Queen; "how small doth seem the space
which separates me from my lord the King!"

She sighed deeply; then, recovering herself, she asked—

"How fares his Majesty? did he take part in the siege?"

"The King is in excellent health," replied Geoffrey, "and he took an
active part in the siege of St. Quentin."

"You saw him there?" inquired Mary.

"Many times, your Majesty; he was the cynosure of all eyes as he rode
through the flaming streets clad in splendid armour."

"Yes, I know," replied Mary, a wan smile flickering awhile on her
careworn face; "he would surely be found where duty and danger called

"Oh, I can call him to mind as he sat on his war-horse, wearing that
wondrous suit of Milanese armour which becomes him so well. I mind me
that it was in that suit that Titian painted him; I have a copy of it."

For a moment the Queen mused, then she spoke again.

"Under what circumstances saw you the King in St. Quentin? Methinks he
would thrust himself somewhat recklessly into danger. Did he charge at
the head of his troops?—tell me all."

"He was ever found where the fight was hottest," replied Geoffrey, "and
he was greatly concerned for the fate of the women and children; he had
them conducted in safety out of the city."

"Oh! gallant Philip," murmured the Queen, as if she spoke to herself,
and was unconscious that others were present. "Go on, I pray you!" she
said aloud.

"He was greatly concerned for the safety of the cathedral, and he
ordered the English contingent to see that it suffered no injury,"
continued Geoffrey. "While the siege was hotly proceeding he ordered the
monks of the cathedral to convey the relics of St. Quentin, which lay
enshrined there, to his own tent outside the town."

The Queen was greatly moved, and she beckoned the Cardinal to her side.

"You hear, father?" she whispered to him. "Sometimes I have thought that
you misjudged the King, that you did not fully estimate his fervent
piety, nor know how easily his noble heart was ever open to the cry for
mercy, how full it was of tenderness and pity!"

Poor Mary, poor infatuated Queen!

Suddenly she put her hand to her side as a spasm of pain seized her.

"Tell Lady Howard to come hither," she said to Pole, "and to bring with
her my strongest essences."

This being done, the Queen seemed to recover, and she would have made
further inquiries of the envoys, but the Cardinal intervened.

"Will your Majesty pardon me?" he said; "the hour grows late, and these
gallant young soldiers can wait on you to-morrow; I fear that your
Majesty is exerting yourself too much."

Scarcely with these words had the Cardinal persuaded Mary, but he had
further arguments at command.

"It is the hour for Vespers, your Majesty, and Father Petre awaits us in
the oratory."

"Yes, you are right," replied the Queen, with sudden willingness; "let
us offer to Heaven our thanks for this blessed news from St. Quentin,
ere my strength fail me."

The interview ended as it began; Mary extended her poor wasted hand, and
the envoys knelt to kiss it.

They never saw Queen Mary again.


                              CHAPTER XVII

                          THREE CLOSING SCENES

                                SCENE I

It was the last day of the year 1557, and it closed amid storm and
tempest. The old town of Calais was enshrouded in gloom, the lanterns
which dimly lit the streets had one by one gone out under the combined
influence of a howling wind and a heavy rain.

In the citadel alone was there light and active life, for the Lords
Wentworth and Gray were that night seeing "the old year out and the new
year in," after the customary English fashion; there was feasting and
merriment within the old Castle walls and the gay uniforms of the
officers of the garrison flashed and glittered as they moved about amid
the Governors guests.

Out in the darkness Captain Lascelles was relieving the guards and
setting the night watches; his men carried lanterns, which they
endeavoured to shroud from the blasts of the tempest by the folds of
their great military cloaks. The men had reached the strong town gate
which guarded the western approach from Sangatte and Hames. A belated
English sailor was vainly clamouring for admission.

"Fools," he shouted, "let me in, or you will rue the day. I have a
matter of life and death to report to your Captain."

Whereat the guards laughed aloud.

But Captain Lascelles arriving at this moment ordered the gate to be
opened and the man to be brought before him, and this was quickly done.

"And now, my man, tell me your wondrous news," said Captain Lascelles

"For your ears alone, Captain, I beg of you," replied the sailor, and
the pair stepped apart. "I come from Sandgate to-night and the place is
full of armed men, they are occupying all the roads, and when to-morrow
dawns you will find Calais invested on all sides by a French army."

"Are you sober, my man?" asked the Captain, as he threw the light of a
lantern on his features.

"Oh, Captain, it is God's truth," said the sailor, "and I can tell you
even more. I mixed with some of these men, and in the darkness they did
not discover that I was a foe. They told me that they were the advanced
corps of a great army under the Dukes of Guise and De Nevers."

Lascelles was convinced, the deep earnestness of the sailor dispelled
all doubt from his mind. He called his lieutenant to his side, and in a
few words told him the fateful news.

"Take six of your best scouts, De Warenne," he said, "we must verify the
truth of this man's statements, though in good sooth I doubt them not.
Be wary and watchful lest you fall into the hands of the enemy; when you
return come to me at the Castle, I take this man thither at once."

Then he summoned his sergeant and bade him take immediate steps to
double the number of guards at all the gates of Calais. Ten minutes
later he had reached the Castle, and in reply to his urgent message the
Governor gave him instant audience.

Lord Wentworth heard the Captain's report with utter incredulity.

"We know," he said, "that De Nevers is marching into Luxembourg, and
Guise is in Picardy; the thing is absurd and impossible. It is now
nearly midnight, and I will not disturb the peace and happiness of my
guests, who will soon be leaving the Castle. But, meanwhile, warn the
whole garrison that daybreak must find them under arms," and therewith
he rejoined his guests.

The hours of night passed slowly.

Before the dawn of day Lascelles had visited every outpost and the forts
of Froyton and Neslé.

De Warenne had not returned, but at many of the gates the country people
were assembling in frightened groups, begging for admission into the
town. Their report was in every case the same—Guisnes, Sangatte, and
Hames were beset by a host of armed men.

"De Warenne and his men have fallen into the hands of the foe, and this
is the beginning of woe and disaster," said Captain Lascelles to
himself, as the first streaks of day appeared in the sky and the drums
of the garrison broke into furious uproar calling all men, and even all
citizens, to arms.

It was the first day of January 1558. Ah, what a "New Year's Day" was
that for England!

All around Calais lay a great host of Frenchmen, and the banners of
Guise and De Nevers revealed the fact that the young Duc, the hope of
France, was there in person, eager to wipe out the disgrace of St.
Quentin. Everywhere the French were throwing up batteries and bringing
up their artillery, their first point of attack being the forts of
Froyton and Neslé.

Then the guns of the citadel opened fire, and few and feeble as they
were their deep roar filled the air and shook the old houses of the town
to their foundations.

Wentworth and Gray were everywhere, haranguing, cheering, and
encouraging their men. Gray was a famous engineer and, with his own
hands, he aimed and fired the best guns the citadel possessed, doing
evident execution upon the batteries in course of construction by the

Thus an hour flew by, it was broad daylight now and the rain and storm
of the preceding night had ceased. Suddenly the French batteries began
to play upon the fortresses on the city walls, and the uproar of war was
increased tenfold.

It was at once perceived by the garrison that Guise possessed very
powerful battering-trains, for which their poor artillery was no match.
And though Lord Gray had brought a reinforcement of two hundred men to
the garrison of Calais, no artillery had been sent by the Government.

So the unequal duel went on throughout the day, with a roar so deafening
that it was heard both at Antwerp and at Dover. The very heavens seemed
to be fighting against England, for there, at Dover, was a great train
of artillery waiting for transit to Calais. But the winds were fiercely
contrary, and not an English vessel could put to sea.

The darkness of night did not stay the conflict, for the French
artillerymen had got their "mark and distance," and the fierce cannonade
never ceased.

At daybreak on January 2nd, the Duke of Guise stormed the forts of
Froyton and Neslé in overwhelming force and carried them. On the next
day Newhaven Bridge and Risbank surrendered, and henceforth all the
strength of Guise's thirty-five great guns was directed upon the town
and the castle. There was no rest, day or night, for the besieged
garrison, each hour brought their inevitable destruction nearer.

It was on the fifth day that a great breach in the citadel was effected,
and then came the final struggle in which Captain Lascelles fell at the
head of his troops; the victorious foe overwhelmed the defenders in
irresistible force and the French flag was planted on the walls of the

The Castle of Guisnes still held out under Lord Gray, but on the eighth
day of the siege it was captured, and with it went Hames.

Lords Gray and Wentworth were taken prisoners and were held to ransom.

Thus fell Calais after two hundred and ten years occupation by the
English, and thus England lost the last rood of its once vast
Continental possessions.

Few of the garrison survived the siege, the tremendous cannonade slew
most of them, and when the town and citadel were stormed by the French
every foot of ground was fiercely contested until the streets of the
town and the ramparts of the Castle were choked with the dead and dying.
It is stated that only fifty prisoners were made.

For a day and a night Calais was the prey of the ruthless soldiery,
neither age nor sex was spared.

The town possessed little wealth; twenty-four hours sufficed for the
seizure of all that it had to yield.

On January 10 the Dukes of Guise and De Nevers entered the town in all
the panoply of war, and thenceforth all disorder ceased and the French
began to repair the shattered walls with desperate haste.

Five days later King Henry the Second visited his latest conquest, and
the French army was delirious with joy and enthusiasm.

The flag of France floated majestically from the grey towers of the
Castle, never to be replaced by the flag of St. George.

                                SCENE II

On November 17, 1558, Queen Mary died. Philip came not to England; by
the hand of the Count de Feria he sent a message and a ring to his dying

A truer friend to the hapless Queen than Philip lay dying at Lambeth—
Cardinal Reginald Pole.

Within the period of the dawn and sunset of the same day Mary and her
noble kinsman died, and the courtiers passed in crowds from Whitehall to

A new era was dawning for England—"the night was departing, the day was
at hand!"

How the bells of the many churches in London clanged with joyous notes
as Queen Elizabeth entered her capital!

The youth of the nation, all that was noblest, best and greatest
thronged her passage as she wended her way through the gay streets. All
that pageantry could devise, all that devoted loyalty could prompt,
greeted the brilliant young Queen as she passed to the royal apartments
of the Tower to await her coronation.

The first act of Queen Elizabeth was to release all religious prisoners,
and forthwith multitudes of refugees returned from the Continent. Among
these were William Jefferay and the Vicar of Chiddingly, and there was
joy at Gray's Inn.

There was another reason for rejoicing among the family of the
Jefferays. This very year of 1558, by a short Act, Parliament restored
Geoffrey de Fynes "in blood and honours," and he took his seat in the
House of Peers as Baron Dacres.

Yet another reason for joy arose when the young Queen promoted the
Treasurer of Gray's Inn to the Bench of Judges and Sir John was created
Baron Jefferay.

And when it pleased Elizabeth to call William and Ralph to Court, and to
make them "Gentlemen of the Queen's Guard," their happiness was

                          SCENE III, AND LAST

                         _Chiddingly once more_

The spring has come, it is the month of April in the year of grace 1559.

The Manor House at Chiddingly is thronged with guests from all parts of
Sussex, and the little village is gay with floral arches and flags.

The bells of the church have been ringing at intervals all this lovely
spring day, and the villagers are assembling in such numbers that the
sacred building cannot contain them.

Would you know the reason of the happiness which beams on the face of
every man, woman and child in Chiddingly?

Here is your answer.

Forth from the Manor House comes a noble company, they are walking to
the church in long procession. There are Pelhams, Nevills, Howards, De
Fynes, and many another great Sussex family represented there. And there
comes the bridegroom, for this is a wedding. Ah! we know him, the brave
young soldier who has proved his courage on the tented field, and by his
side walk William and Ralph, his brothers-in-arms. It is Geoffrey de
Fynes, now Baron Dacres of Herstmonceux.

And presently the great dames of the noble families here represented
come forth, and among them we espy one whom we know full well. It is

Oh, how sweet she looks in her bridal attire, and how supremely happy,
as she takes the arm of her father and walks forward to the church!

They enter it and there, awaiting them at the altar, stands the good
Vicar of Chiddingly, looking little the worse for his year's banishment
from his parish. Then the young couple stand together before him, and
the solemn service proceeds which is to make them man and wife.

It is over, the bells "gush out in merry tune," the rustics make the
welkin ring with their shouts, and the noble couple retrace their steps
to the Manor House, the bride leaning upon the bridegroom's arm.

"_O, ter felices ambo!_"

There we leave you, possessed of all the happiness that earth has to



In Chelsea old parish church there may be seen an altar-tomb of such
marked beauty that Dean Stanley once declared that Westminster Abbey
contained only three finer. It is dedicated to the memory of Geoffrey,
Lord Dacre and his wife.

On the west side is the following inscription—

    "Quos ardens amor juvenilibus annis
    Abstulit atra dies—mors inopina rapit.
    Ille prior fatis Dacrorum nobile germen
    Occidit, in morbum ast incidit ilia prius
    Quæ languescendo miseræ prætædia vitæ
    Sensit, tam dulci conjuge cassa suo,
    Ut teneri cordis concordia junxerat ambos
    Sic idem amborum contegit ossa locus.
    Quos jungit tumulus conjungant cœlica tecta
    Ut tensant coelum qui tenuere fidem.
    Nobilis iste Vir          Nobilis iste Mulier
    Obiit Sept. 25, 1594      Obiit Maii 14, 1595."

The following is a free translation—

    "Those whom in youth love joined, death's day of gloom
    With little warning sank into the tomb;
    He, Dacre's seed, first yielded to the blow,
    She lingered on in weariness and woe;
    Their hearts responsive beat till life's calm close,
    Together here the bones of each repose,
    United by one grave,—in faith they lie,
    One blissful meed awaits them in the sky."

In Chiddingly Church there exists a noble monument to the memory of Sir
John Jefferay, Lord Chief Baron of the Exchequer.

He died full of years and honours in the year 1578.




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 ● Transcriber's Notes:
    ○ Unbalanced quotation marks were left as the author intended.
    ○ Typographical errors were silently corrected.
    ○ Inconsistent spelling and hyphenation were made consistent when a
      predominant form was found in this book; otherwise it was not

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