For, eldest-born and last-surviving of her generation, in a green old age, Philippa Basset was living still. Time had swept away all the gallant brothers and fair sisters who had once been her companions at Umberleigh: the last to die, seven years before, being the eloquent orator, George. Yet Philippa lived on,—an old maiden lady, with heart as warm, and it must be confessed, with tongue as sharp, as in the days of her girlhood. Time had mellowed her slightly, but had changed nothing in her but one—for many years had passed now since Philippa was heard to sneer at Protestantism. She never confessed to any alteration in her views; perhaps she was hardly conscious of it, so gradually had it grown upon her. Only those perceived it who saw her seldom: and the signs were very minute. A passing admission that "may-be folk need not all be Catholics to get safe up yonder"—meaning, of course, to Heaven; an absence of the set lips and knitted brows which had formerly attended the reading of the English Scriptures in church; a courteous reception of the Protestant Rector; a capability of praying morning and evening without crucifix or rosary; a quiet dropping of crossings and holy water, oaths by our Lady's merits and Saint Peter's hosen: a general calm acquiescence in the new order of things. But how much did it mean? Only that her eyes were becoming accustomed to the light?—or that age had weakened her prejudices?—or that God had touched her heart?
Some such thoughts were passing through Barbara's mind, when Lord Strange's voice reached her understanding again.
"I ensure you 'tis said in the Court that his grief for the beheading of the Scots Queen is but a blind, [Note 4] and that these two years gone and more hath King Philip been making ready his galleons for to invade the Queen's Majesty's dominions. And now they say that we may look for his setting forth this next year. Sir Francis Drake is gone by Her Highness' command to the Spanish main, there to keep watch and bring word; and he saith he will singe the Don's whiskers ere he turn again. Yet he may come, for all belike."
The singeing of the Don's whiskers was effected soon after, by the burning of a hundred ships of war in the harbour of Cadiz.
"Why, not a man in England but would turn out to defend the Queen and country!" exclaimed Sir Thomas.
"Here is one that so will, Sir, by your leave," said another voice.
We may peep behind the green curtain, though Barbara did not. That elegant young man with such finished manners—surely he can never be our old and irrepressible friend Jack? Ay, Jack and no other; more courtly, but as irrepressible as ever.
"We'll be ready for him!" said Sir Thomas grimly.
"Amen!" was Jack's contribution, precisely in the treble tones of the parish clerk. The imitation was so perfect that even the grave Lord Strange could not suppress a smile.
"Shall I get thee a company, Jack Enville?"
"Pray do so, my good Lord. I thank your Lordship heartily."
"Arthur Tremayne is set on going, if it come to hot water—as seemeth like enough."
"Arthur Tremayne is a milksop, my Lord! I marvel what he means to do. His brains are but addled eggs—all stuffed with Latin and Greek."
Jack, of course, like the average country gentleman of his time, was a profound ignoramus. What knowledge had been drilled into him in boyhood, he had since taken pains to forget. He was familiar with the punctilio of duelling, the code of regulations for fencing, the rules of athletic sports, and the intricacies of the gaming-table; but anything which he dubbed contemptuously "book-learning," he considered as far beneath him as it really was above.
"He will be as good for the Spaniards to shoot at as any other," jocularly observed Sir Thomas.
"Then pray you, let Lysken Barnevelt go!" said Jack soberly. "I warrant you she'll stand fire, and never so much as ruffle her hair."
"Well, I heard say Dame Mary Cholmondeley of Vale Royal, that an' the men beat not back the Spaniards, the women should fight them with their bodkins; wherewith Her Highness was so well pleased that she dubbed the dame a knight then and there. My wife saith, an' it come to that, she will be colonel of a company of archers of Lancashire. We will have Mistress Barnevelt a lieutenant in her company."
"My sister Margaret would make a good lieutenant, my Lord," suggested Jack. "We'll send Aunt Rachel to the front, with a major's commission, and Clare shall be her adjutant. As for Blanche, she may stand behind the baggage and screech. She is good for nought else, but she'll do that right well."
"For shame, lad!" said Sir Thomas, laughing.
"I heard her yesterday, Sir,—the occasion, a spider but half the size of a pin head."
"What place hast thou for me?" inquired Lady Enville, delicately applying a scented handkerchief to her fastidious hose.
"My dear Madam!" said Jack, bowing low, "you shall be the trumpeter sent to give challenge unto the Spanish commandant. If he strike not his colours in hot haste upon sight of you, then is he no gentleman."
Lady Enville sat fanning herself in smiling complacency, No flattery could be too transparent to please her.
"I pray your Lordship, is any news come touching Sir Richard Grenville, and the plantation which he strave to make in the Queen's Highness' country of Virginia?" asked Sir Thomas.
Barbara listened again with interest. Sir Richard Grenville was a Devonshire knight, and a kinsman of Sir Arthur Basset.
"Ay,—Roanoke, he called it, after the Indian name. Why, it did well but for a time, and then went to wrack. But I do hear that he purposeth for to go forth yet again, trusting this time to speed better."
"What good in making plantations in Virginia?" demanded Jack, loftily. "A wild waste, undwelt in save by savages, and many weeks' voyage from this country,—what gentleman would ever go to dwell there?"
"May-be," said Lord Strange thoughtfully, "when the husbandmen that shall go first have made it somewhat less rough, gentlemen may be found to go and dwell there."
"Why, Jack, lad! This country is not all the world," observed his father.
"'Tis all of it worth anything, Sir," returned insular Jack.
"Thy broom sweepeth clean, Jack," responded Lord Strange. "What, is nought worth in France, nor in Holland,—let be the Emperor's dominions, and Spain, and Italy?"
"They be all foreigners, my Lord. And what better are foreigners than savages? They be all Papists, to boot."
"Not in Almayne, Jack,—nor in Holland."
"Well, they speak no English," said prejudiced Jack.
"That is a woeful lack," gravely replied Lord Strange. "Specially when you do consider that English was the tongue that Noah spake afore the flood, and the confusion of tongues at Babel."
Jack knew just enough to have a dim perception that Lord Strange was laughing at him. He got out of the difficulty by turning the conversation.
"Well, thus much say I: let the King of Spain come when he will, and where, at every point of the coast there shall be an Englishman awaiting—and we will drive him home thrice faster than he came at the first."
Note 1. He was fined 10,000 pounds for contempt of court. What his real offences were remains doubtful, beyond the fact that he was a Papist, and had married against the will of the Queen.
Note 2. The state of the gaols at this time, and for long afterwards, until John Howard effected his reformation of them, was simply horrible. The Black Assize at Exeter was by no means the only instance of its land.
Note 3. I stated in Robin Tremayne that I had not been able to discover the burial-place of Honor Viscountess Lisle. Since that time, owing to the kindness of correspondents, personally unknown to me, I have ascertained that she was probably buried at Atherington, with her first husband, Sir John Basset. In that church his brass still remains—a knight between two ladies—the coats of arms plainly showing that the latter are Anne Dennis of Oxleigh and Honor Granville of Stow. But the Register contains no entry of burial previous to 1570.
Note 4. In the custody of the (Popish) Bishop of Southwark is a quarto volume, containing, under date of Rome, April 28, 1588,—"An admonition to the nobility and people of England and Ireland, concerning the present warres made for the execution of His Holiness' sentence, by the highe and mightie King Catholicke of Spaine: by the Cardinal of England." [Cardinal Allen.]—(Third Report of Royal Commission of Historical Manuscripts, page 233).
THE INVINCIBLE ARMADA.
"His power secured thee, when presumptuous Spain Baptised her fleet Invincible in vain; Her gloomy monarch, doubtful and resigned To every pang that racks an anxious mind, Asked of the waves that broke upon his coast, 'What tidings?'—and the surge replied,—'All lost!'"
King Philip of Spain was coming at last. Every Englishman—ay, and every woman and child in England—knew that now.
When Drake returned home from "singeing the Don's whiskers," he told his royal mistress that he believed the Spaniards would attempt serious invasion ere long. But Elizabeth then laughed the idea to scorn.
"They are not so ill-advised. But if they do come"—and Her Majesty added her favourite oath—"I and my people will send them packing!"
The Queen took measures to prepare her subjects accordingly, whether she thought the invasion likely or not. All the clergy in the kingdom were ordered to "manifest unto their congregations the furious purpose of the Spanish King." There was abundant tinder ready for this match: for the commonalty were wider awake to the danger than either Queen or Council. The danger is equal now, and more insidious—from Rome, though not from Spain—but alas! the commonalty are sleeping.
Lord Henry Seymour was sent off to guard the seas, and to intercept intercourse between Spain and her Flemish ports. The Earl of Leicester was appointed honorary commander-in-chief, with an army of 23,000 foot and 2352 horse, for the defence of the royal person: Lord Hunsdon, with 11,000 foot more, and 15,000 horse, was sent to keep guard over the metropolis; and Charles Lord Howard of Effingham, Lord High Admiral of England, was appointed to conduct the naval defence.
It is the popular belief that Lord Howard was a Papist. He certainly was a Protestant at a later period of his life; and though it is doubtful whether positive evidence can be found to show his religious views at the time of the invasion, yet there is reason to believe that the popular idea is supported only by tradition. [See Appendix.]
Tilbury, on the Thames, was chosen as the rendezvous for the land forces. The Queen removed to Havering, which lay midway between her two armies. It was almost, if not quite, the last time that an English sovereign ever inhabited the old Saxon palace of Havering-atte-Bower.
The ground around Tilbury was surveyed, trenches cut, Gravesend fortified, and (taking pattern from Antwerp) a bridge of boats was laid across the Thames, to stop the passage of the river. Calculations were made as to the amount requisite to meet the Armada, and five thousand men, with fifteen ships, were demanded from the city of London. The Lord Mayor asked two days for consideration, and then requested that the Queen would accept ten thousand men and thirty ships. The Dutch came into the Thames with sixty sail—generous friends, who forgot in England's hour of need that she had, only sixteen years before, refused even bread and shelter in her harbours to their "Beggars of the Sea." Noblemen joined the army and navy as volunteers, and in the ranks there were no pressed men. There was one heart in all the land, from Berwick to the Lizard.
Lastly, a prayer was issued, to be used in all churches throughout the kingdom, every Wednesday and Friday. But ecclesiastical dignitaries were not called upon to write it. The Defender of the Faith herself drew up the form, in a plain, decided style, which shows that she could write lucidly when she liked it. This was Elizabeth's prayer.
"We do instantly beseech Thee of Thy gracious goodness to be merciful to the Church militant here upon earth, and at this time compassed about with most strong and subtle adversaries. Oh let Thine enemies know that Thou hast received England, which they most of all for Thy Gospel's sake do malign, into Thine own protection. Set a wall about it, O Lord, and evermore mightily defend it. Let it be a comfort to the afflicted, a help to the oppressed, and a defence to Thy Church and people, persecuted abroad. And forasmuch as this cause is new in hand, direct and go before our armies both by sea and land. Bless them, and prosper them, and grant unto them Thine honourable success and victory. Thou art our help and shield. Oh give good and prosperous success to all those that fight this battle against the enemies of Thy Gospel." [Strype.]
So England was ready.
But Philip was ready too. He also, in his fashion, had been preparing his subjects for work. Still maintaining an outward appearance of friendship with Elizabeth, he quietly spread among his own people copies of his pedigree, wherein he represented himself as the true heir to the crown of England, by descent from his ancestresses Philippa and Katherine of Lancaster: ignoring the facts—that, though the heir general of Katherine, he was not so of her elder sister Philippa; and that if he had been, the law which would have made these two sisters heiresses presumptive had been altered while they were children. Beyond this piece of subtlety, Philip allied himself with the Duke of Parma in Italy, and the Duke of Guise [Note 1] in France; the plot being that the Duke of Medina Sidonia, Commander-in-chief of the Armada, was to sail first for Flanders, and take his orders from Parma: Guise was to land in the west of England: some other leader, with 12,000 men, in Yorkshire: while Philip himself, under shelter of the Armada, was to effect his landing in Kent or Essex. Ireland was looked upon as certain to revolt and assist. Parma harangued the troops destined to join the invading force from Flanders, informing them that the current coin in England was gold, only the very poorest using silver; the houses were full of money, plate, jewellery, and wealth in all shapes.
It is well to remember that England was no strange, unexplored land, at least to the higher officers of the Armada. Philip himself had been King of England for four years: the courtiers in his suite had lived there for months together. Their exclamation on first journeying from the coast to Winchester, twenty-three years before, had been that "the poor of this land dwelt in hovels, and fared like princes!" They had not forgotten it now.
Lord Howard took up his station at Plymouth, whence he purposed to intercept the Armada as it came; Sir Francis Drake was sent to the west with sixty-five vessels. But time passed on, and no Armada came. The English grew secure and careless. Many ships left the fleet, some making for the Irish coast, some harbouring in Wales. The Queen herself, annoyed at the needless cost, sent word to Lord Howard to disband four of the largest vessels of the royal navy. The Admiral disobeyed, and paid the expenses out of his own purse. England ought to bless the memory of Charles Howard of Effingham.
It was almost a shock when—suddenly, at last—Philip's ultimatum came. Spain demanded three points from England: and if her demands were not complied with, there was no resource but war.
1. The Queen must promise to withdraw all aid from the Protestants in the Netherlands.
2. She must give back the treasure seized, by Drake the year before.
3. She must restore the Roman Catholic religion throughout England, as it had been before the Reformation.
The first and second clauses would have been of little import in Elizabeth's eye's, except as they implied her yielding to dictation; the real sting lay in the last. And the last was the one which Philip would be most loth to yield. With a touch of grim humour, His Catholic Majesty sent his ultimatum in Latin verse.
The royal lioness of England rose from her throne to return her answer, with a fiery Plantagenet flash in her eyes. She could play at Latin verse quite as well as Philip; rather better, indeed,—for his question required some dozen lines, and one was sufficient for her answer.
"Ad Graecas, [Note 2] bone Rex, fient mandata kalendas!" was the prompt reply of England's Elizabeth.
Which may be rendered—preserving the fun—
"Great King, thy command shall be done right soon, On the thirty-first day of the coming June."
Some knowledge of the terrible magnitude of Philip's preparations is necessary, in order to see what it was which England escaped in 1588. The Armada consisted of 134 ships, and, reckoning soldiers, sailors, and galley-slaves, carried about 32,000 men. [The exact figures are much disputed, hardly two accounts being alike.] The cost of sustenance per day was thirty thousand ducats. The cannon and field-pieces were unnumbered: the halberts were ten thousand, the muskets seven thousand. Bread, biscuits, and wine, were laid in for six months, with twelve thousand pipes of fresh water. The cargo—among many other items— consisted of whips and knives, for the conversion of the English; and doubtless Don Martin Alorcon, Vicar-General of the Inquisition, with one hundred monks and Jesuits in his train may be classed under the same head. Heresy was to be destroyed throughout England: Sir Francis Drake was singled out for special vengeance. The Queen was to be taken alive, at all costs: she was to be sent prisoner over the Alps to Rome, there to make her humble petition to the Pope, barefoot and prostrate, that England might be re-admitted to communion with the Holy See. Did Philip imagine that any amount of humiliation or coercion would have wrung such words as these from the lips of Elizabeth Tudor?
On the 19th of May, the Invincible Armada, as the Spaniards proudly termed it, sailed from Lisbon for Corufia.
The English Fleet lay in the harbour at Plymouth. The Admiral's ship was the "Ark Royal;" Drake commanded the "Revenge:" the other principal vessels were named the "Lion," the "Bear," the "Elizabeth Jonas," the "Galleon Leicester," and the "Victory." They lay still in port waiting for the first north wind, which did not come until the eighth of July. Then Lord Howard set sail and went southwards for some distance; but the wind changed to the south, the fleet was composed entirely of sailing vessels, and the Admiral was afraid to go too far, lest the Armada should slip past him in the night, between England and her wooden walls. So he put back to Plymouth.
If he had only known the state of affairs, he would not have done so. He had been almost within sight of the Armada, which was at that moment broken and scattered, having met with a terrific storm in the Bay of Biscay. Eight ships were driven to a distance, three galleys cast away on the French coast; where the galley-slaves rebelled, headed by a Welsh prisoner named David Gwyn. Medina regained Coruna with some difficulty, gathered his shattered vessels, repaired damages, and put to sea again on the eleventh of July. They made haste this time. Eight days' hard rowing brought them within sight of England.
A blazing sun, and a strong south-west gale, inaugurated the morning of the nineteenth of July. The fleet lay peacefully moored in Plymouth Sound, all unconscious and unprophetic of what the day was to bring forth: some of the officers engaged in calculating chances of future battle, some eagerly debating home politics, some idly playing cards or backgammon. These last averred that they had nothing to do. They were not destined to make that complaint much longer.
At one end of the quarter-deck of Drake's ship, the "Revenge," was a group of three young officers, of whom two at least were not much more profitably employed than those who were playing cards in the "Ark Royal." They were all volunteers, and the eldest of the three was but two-and-twenty. One was seated on the deck, leaning back and apparently dozing; the second stood, less sleepily, but quite as idly, beside him: the last, with folded arms, was gazing out to sea, yet discerning nothing, for his thoughts were evidently elsewhere. The second of the trio appeared to be in a musical humour, for snatches of different songs kept coming from his lips.
"'We be three poor mariners, Newly come fro' th' seas: We spend our lives in jeopardy, Whilst others live at ease.'"
"Be we?" laughed the youth who was seated on the deck, half-opening his eyes. "How much of thy life hast spent in jeopardy, Jack Enville?"
"How much? Did not I once fall into the sea from a rock?—and was well-nigh drowned ere I could be fished out. More of my life than thine, Master Robert Basset."
In something like the sense of Thekla Tremayne's "Poor Jack!" I pause to say, Poor Robert Basset! He was the eldest son of the deceased Sir Arthur. He had inherited the impulsive, generous heart, and the sensitive, nervous temperament, of his ancestor Lord Lisle, unchecked by the accompanying good sense and sober judgment which had balanced those qualities in the latter. Hot-headed, warm-hearted, liberal to extravagance, fervent to fanaticism, unable to say No to any whom he loved, loving and detesting with passionate intensity, constantly betrayed into rash acts which he regretted bitterly the next hour, possibly the next minute—this was Robert Basset. Not the same character as Jack Enville, but one just as likely to go to wreck early,—to dash itself wildly on the breakers, and be broken.
"Thou art alive enough now," said Basset. "But how knowest that I never fell from a rock into the sea?"
Jack answered by a graceful flourish of his hands, and a stave of another song.
"'There's never a maid in all this town But she knows that malt's come down, - Malt's come down,—malt's come down, From an old angel to a French crown.'"
"I would it were," said Basset, folding his arms beneath his head. "I am as dry as a hornblower."
"That is with blowing of thine own trumpet," responded Jack. "I say, Tremayne! Give us thy thoughts for a silver penny."
"Give me the penny first," answered the meditative officer.
"Haven't an obolus," [halfpenny] confessed Jack.
"'The cramp is in my purse full sore, No money will bide therein—'"
"Another time," observed Arthur Tremayne, "chaffer [deal in trade] not till thou hast wherewith to pay for the goods."
"I am a gentleman, not a chapman," [a retail tradesman] said Jack, superciliously.
"Could a man not be both?"
"'Tis not possible," returned Jack, with an astonished look. "How should a chapman bear coat armour?"
"I reckon, though, he had fathers afore him," said Basset, with his eyes shut.
"Nought but common men," said Jack, with sovereign contempt.
"And ours were uncommon men—there is all the difference," retorted Basset.
"Yours were, in very deed," said Jack obsequiously.
This was, in truth, the entire cause of Jack's desire for Basset's friendship. The latter, poor fellow! imagined that he was influenced by personal regard.
"Didst think I had forgot it?" replied Basset, smiling.
"Ah! if I had but thy lineage!" answered Jack.
"Thine own is good enough, I cast no doubt. And I dare say Tremayne's is worth something, if we could but win him to open his mouth thereon."
Jack's look was one of complete incredulity.
Arthur neither moved nor spoke.
"Hold thou thy peace, Jack Enville," said Basset, answering the look, for Jack had not uttered a word. "What should a Lancashire lad know of the Tremaynes of Tremayne? I know somewhat thereanent.—Are you not of that line?" he asked, turning his head towards Arthur.
"Ay, the last of the line," said the latter quietly.
"I thought so much. Then you must be somewhat akin unto Sir Richard Grenville of Stow?"
"Somewhat—not over near," answered Arthur, modestly.
"Forty-seventh cousin," suggested Jack, not over civilly.
"And to Courtenay of Powderham,—what?"
"Courtenay!" broke in Jack. "What! he that, but for the attainder, should be Earl of Devon?"
"He," responded Basset, a little mischievously, "that cometh in a right line from the Kings of France, and (through women) from the Emperors of Constantinople."
"What kin art thou to him?" demanded Jack, surveying his old playmate from head to foot, with a sensation of respect which he had never felt for him before.
"My father's mother and his mother were sisters, I take it," said Arthur.
"Arthur Tremayne, how cometh it I never heard this afore?"
"I cannot tell, Jack: thou didst never set me on recounting of my pedigree, as I remember."
"But wherefore not tell the same?"
"What matter?" quietly responded Arthur.
"'What matter'—whether I looked on thee as a mere parson's son, with nought in thine head better than Greek and Latin, or as near kinsman of one with very purple blood in him,—one that should be well-nigh Premier Earl of England, but for an attainder?"
Arthur passed by the slight offered alike to his father's profession and to the classics, merely replying with a smile,—"I am glad if it give thee pleasure to know it."
"But tell me, prithee, with such alliance, what on earth caused Master Tremayne to take to parsonry?"
The contempt in which the clergy were held, for more than a hundred years after this date, was due in all probability to two causes. The first was the natural reaction from the overweening reverence anciently felt for the sacerdotal order: when the sacerdos was found to be but a presbyter, his charm was gone. But the second was the disgrace which had been brought upon their profession at large, by the evil lives of the old priests.
"I believe," said Arthur, gravely, "it was because he accounted the household service of God higher preferment than the nobility of men."
"Yet surely he knew how men would account of him?"
"I misdoubt if he cared for that, any more than I do, Jack Enville."
"Nor is thy mother any more than a parson's daughter."
"My father, and my mother's father," said Arthur, his eyes flashing, "were all but martyrs; for it was only the death of Queen Mary that saved either from the martyr's stake. That is my lineage, Jack Enville,—higher than Courtenay of Powderham."
"Thou must be clean wood, Arthur!" said Jack, laughing. "Why, there were poor chapmen and sely [simple] serving-maids among them that were burnt in Queen Mary's days; weavers, bricklayers, and all manner of common folk. There were rare few of any sort." [Of any consequence.]
"They be kings now, whatso they were," answered Arthur.
"There was a bishop or twain, Jack, if I mistake not," put in Basset, yawning; "and a Primate of all England, without I dreamed it."
"Go to, Jack!" pursued Arthur. "I can tell thee of divers craftsmen that were very common folk—one Peter, a fisherman, and one Paul, a tent-maker, and an handful belike—whose names shall ring down all the ages, long after men have forgotten that there ever were Courtenays or Envilles. I set the matter on thine own ground to say this."
"Stand and deliver, Jack Enville! That last word hath worsted thee," said Basset.
"I am not an orator," returned Jack, loftily. "I am a gentleman."
"Well, so am I, as I suppose, but I make not such ado thereof as thou," answered Basset.
The last word had only just escaped his lips, when Arthur Tremayne stepped suddenly to the side of the vessel.
"The Don ahead?" inquired Basset, with sleepy sarcasm.
"I cannot tell what is ahead yet," said Arthur, concentrating his gaze in an easterly direction. "But there is somewhat approaching us."
"A sea-gull," was the suggestion of Basset, with shut eyes.
"Scantly," said Arthur good-humouredly.
Half idly, half curiously, jack brought his powers to bear on the approaching object. Basset was not sufficiently interested to move.
The object ere long revealed itself as a small vessel, rowing in all haste, and evidently anxious to reach the fleet without losing an hour. The "Revenge" stood out furthest of all the ships to eastward, and was therefore likely to receive the little vessel's news before any other. Almost before she came within speaking distance, at Arthur's request, Jack hailed her—that young gentleman being in possession of more stentorian lungs than his friend.
The captain, who replied, was gifted with vocal powers of an equally amazing order. He announced his vessel as the "Falcon," [Note 3] himself as Thomas Fleming; and his news—enough to make every ear in the fleet tingle—that "the Spaniard" had been sighted that morning off the Lizard. Arthur darted away that instant in search of Drake: Jack and Basset (both wide awake now) stayed to hear the details,—the latter excited, the former sceptical.
"'Tis all but deceiving!" sneered the incredulous Jack. "Thomas Fleming! why, who wist not that Thomas Fleming is more pirate than sea-captain, and that the 'Falcon' is well enough known for no honest craft?"
"'Fair and soft go far in a day,'" returned Basset. "What if he be a pirate? He is an Englishman. Even a known liar may speak truth."
"As if the like of him should sight the Spaniard!" retorted Jack magnificently, "when the whole fleet have scoured the seas in vain!"
"The whole fleet were not scouring the seas at three of the clock this morrow!" cried Basset, impatiently. "Hold thine idle tongue, and leave us hear the news." And he shouted with all the power of his lungs,—"What strength is he of?"
"The strength of the very devil!" Fleming roared back. "Great wooden castles, the Lord wot how many, and coming as fast as a bird flieth."
"Pish!" said Jack.
Basset was on the point of shouting another question, when Sir Francis Drake's voice came, clear and sonorous, from no great distance.
"What time shall the Don be hither?"
"By to-morrow breaketh, as like as not," was Fleming's answer.
"Now, my lads, we have work afore us," said Sir Francis, addressing his young friends. "Lieutenant Enville, see that all hands know at once,— every man to his post! Tremayne, you shall have the honour to bear the news to the Lord Admiral: and Basset, you shall fight by my side. I would fain promote you all, an' I have the chance; allgates, I give you the means to win honour, an' you wot how to use them."
All the young men expressed their acknowledgment—Jack rather fulsomely, Basset and Tremayne in a few quiet words. It was a decided advantage to Jack and Arthur to have the chance of distinguishing themselves by "a fair field and no favour." But was it any special preferment for the great-grandson of Edward the Fourth? What glory would be added to his name by "honourable mention" in Lord Howard's despatches, or maybe an additional grade in naval rank?
Did Robert Basset fail to see that?
By no means. But he was biding his time. The chivalrous generosity, which was one of the legacies of his Plantagenet forefathers, imposed silence on him for a season.
Elizabeth Tudor had shown much kindness to her kinsman, Sir Arthur Basset, and while Elizabeth lived, no Basset of Umberleigh would lift a hand against her. But no such halo surrounded her successor—whoever that yet doubtful individual might prove to be. So Robert Basset waited, and bore his humiliation calmly—all the more calmly for the very pride of blood that was in him: for no slight, no oppression, no lack of recognition, could make him other than the heir of the Plantagenets. He would be ready when the hour struck. But meanwhile he was waiting.
Fleming's news had taken everybody by surprise except one person. But that one was the Lord High Admiral.
Lord Howard quickly gathered his fleet together, and inquired into its condition. Many of the ships were poorly victualled; munition ran very short; not a vessel was to be compared for size with the "great wooden castles" which Fleming had described. The wind was south-west, and blowing hard; the very wind most favourable to the invaders.
Sir Edward Hoby, brother-in-law of the Admiral, was sent off to the Queen with urgent letters, begging that she would send more aid to the fleet, and put her land forces in immediate readiness, for "the Spaniard" was coming at last, and as fast as the wind could bring him.
Sir Edward reached Tilbury on the very day chosen by Elizabeth to review her land forces. He left the fleet making signals of distress; he found the army in triumphant excitement.
The Queen rode in from Havering on a stately charger—tradition says a white one—bearing a marshal's staff in her hand, and attired in a costume which was a singular mixture of warrior and woman,—a corslet of polished steel over an enormous farthingale. As she came near the outskirts of her army, she commanded all her retinue to fall back, only excepting Lord Ormonde, who bore the sword of state before her, and the solitary page who carried her white-plumed helmet. Coming forward to the front of Leicester's tent—the Earl himself leading her horse, bare-headed—the Queen took up her position, and, with a wave of her white-gloved hand for silence, she harangued her army.
"My loving people,"—thus spoke England's Elizabeth,—"we have been persuaded, by some that are careful of our safety, to take heed how we commit ourself to armed multitudes, for fear of treachery. But I do assure you, I do not desire to live to distrust my faithful and loving people. Let tyrants fear. I have alway so behaved myself, that under God I have placed my chiefest strength and safeguard in the loyal hearts and good-will of my subjects: and therefore I am come amongst you, as you see, at this time, not for my recreation and disport, but being resolved in the midst and heat of the battle to live or die amongst you all,—to lay down, for my God, and for my kingdoms, and for my people, mine honour and my blood even in the dust. I know I have the body of a weak, feeble woman; but I have the heart and stomach of a king, and of a King of England too; and think foul scorn that Parma, or Spain, or any prince of Europe, should dare to invade the borders of my realm: to which, rather than any dishonour should grow by me, I myself will take up arms,—I myself will be your general, judge, and rewarder of every one of your virtues in the field. I know already for your forwardness ye have deserved rewards and crowns: and we do assure you, on the word of a prince, they shall, be duly paid you. For the meantime, my Lieutenant General [Leicester] shall be in my stead, than whom never prince commanded a more noble nor worthy subject. Not doubting but, by your obedience to my General, by your concord in the camp, and your valour in the field, we shall shortly have a famous victory over these enemies of my God, and of my kingdoms, and of my people."
We are told that the soldiers responded unanimously—
"Is it possible that any Englishman can abandon such a glorious cause, or refuse to lay down his life in defence of this heroic Princess?"
The sentiment may be authentic, but the expression of it is modern.
The speech over, Leicester reverently held the gilt stirrup, and Elizabeth alighted from her white charger, and went into his pavilion to dinner.
Before the repast was over, Sir Edward Hoby arrived from Lord Howard. He was taken at once to the tent, that the first freshness of his news might be for the Queen's own ears. It had taken him three weeks to reach Tilbury from Plymouth. Kneeling before the Queen, he reported that he had been sent in all haste to entreat for "more aid sent to the sea," for Medina was known to be coming, and that quickly.
"Let him come!" was the general cry of the troops outside.
"Buenas horas, Senor!" said the royal lady within, wishing good speed to her adversary in his own tongue.
And both meant the same thing,—"We are ready."
It was England against the world. She had no ally, except the sixty Dutch ships. And except, too, One who was invisible, but whom the winds and the sea obeyed.
The aid required by Lord Howard came: not from Elizabeth, but from England. Volunteers poured in from every shire,—men in velvet gowns and gold chains, men in frieze jackets and leather jerkins. The "delicate-handed, dilettante" Earl of Oxford; the "Wizard" Earl of Northumberland, just come to his title; the eccentric Earl George of Cumberland; Sir Thomas Cecil, elder son of the Lord High Treasurer Burleigh,—weak-headed, but true-hearted; Sir Robert Cecil, his younger brother,—strong-headed and false-hearted; and lastly, a host in himself, Sir Walter Raleigh, whose fine head and, great heart few of his contemporaries appreciated at their true value,—and perhaps least of all the royal lady whom he served. These men came in one by one.
But the leather jerkins flocked in by hundreds; the men who were of no account, whose names nobody cared to preserve, whose deeds nobody thought of recording; yet who, after all, were England, and without whom their betters would have made very poor head against the Armada. They came, leaving their farms untilled, their forges cold, their axes and hammers still. All that could wait till afterwards. Just now, England must be saved.
From all the coast around, provisions were sent in, both of food and munition: here a stand of arms from the squire's armoury, there a batch of new bread from the yeoman's farm: those who could send but a chicken or a cabbage did not hold them back; there were some who had nothing to give but themselves—and that they gave. Every atom was accepted: they all counted for something in the little isle's struggle to keep free.
It is the little things, after all, of which great things are made. Not only the men who lined the decks of the "Ark Royal," but the women ashore who baked their bread, and the children who gathered wood in the forest for the ovens, were helping to save England.
Even some Recusants—which meant Romanists—came in with offerings of food, arms, and service: men who, in being Romanists, had not forgotten that they were Englishmen.
About noon on the twentieth of July, the Armada was first sighted from Plymouth. She was supposed at first to be making direct, for that town. But she passed it, and bore on eastward. It was evident now that she meant to make for the Channel,—probably meant to use as a basis of operations, Calais—England's own Calais, for the loss of which her heart was sore yet.
Lord Howard followed as closely as was consistent with policy. And now appeared the disadvantage of the immense vessels which formed the bulk of the Armada. The English ships, being smaller, were quicker; they could glide in and out with ease, where the "great wooden castles" found bare standing-room. Before the Armada could reach Calais Roads, early on the 21st of July, Lord Howard was upon her.
When she saw her pursuers, she spread forth in a crescent form, in which she was seven miles in length. Trumpets were sounded, drums beaten— everything was done to strike terror into the little English fleet.
"Santiago de Compostella!" was the cry from the Armada.
"God and Saint George for merry England!" came back from the "Ark Royal."
Both navies struggled hard to get to windward. But the Spanish ships were too slow and heavy. The English won the coveted position. The "Revenge" was posted as light-bearer, for night was coming on, and the "Ark Royal," followed by the rest of the fleet, dashed into the midst of the Armada.
Sir Francis Drake made a terrible blunder. Instead of keeping to the simple duty allotted to him, he went off after five large vessels, which he saw standing apart, and gave them chase for some distance. Finding them innocent Easterlings, or merchantmen of the Hanse Towns, he ran hastily back, to discover that in his absence Lord Howard had most narrowly escaped capture, having mistaken the Spanish light for the English.
"'Tis beyond any living patience!" cried Robert Basset fierily to Arthur Tremayne. "Here all we might have hit some good hard blows at the Spaniard, and to be set to chase a covey of miserable Easterlings!"
"'Twas a misfortunate blunder," responded Arthur more quietly.
After two hours' hard fighting, the Admiral, finding his vessels too much scattered, called them together, tacked, and lay at anchor until morning. It certainly was enough to disappoint men who were longing for "good hard blows," when the "Revenge" rejoined the fleet only just in time to hear the order for retreat. Fresh reinforcements came in during the night. When day broke on the 22nd, Lord Howard divided his fleet into four squadrons. He himself commanded the first, Drake the second, Hawkins the third, and Frobisher the fourth. The wind was now north.
The Armada went slowly forward; and except for the capture of one large Venetian ship, nothing was done until the 25th. Then came a calm, favourable to the Spaniards, who were rowing, while the English trusted to their sails. When the Armada came opposite the Isle of Wight, Lord Howard again gave battle.
This time the "Revenge" was engaged, and in the van. While the battle went on, none knew who might be falling: but when the fleet was at last called to anchor—after a terrible encounter—Basset and Tremayne met and clasped hands in congratulation.
"Where is Enville?" asked the former.
Arthur had seen nothing of him. Had he fallen?
The day passed on—account was taken of the officers and crew—but nothing was to be heard of Jack Enville.
About half an hour later, Arthur, who had considerably distinguished himself in the engagement, was resting on deck, looking rather sadly out to sea, and thinking of Jack, when Basset came up to him, evidently struggling to suppress laughter.
"Prithee, Tremayne, come below with me one minute."
Arthur complied, and Basset led him to the little cabin which the three young officers occupied together.
"Behold!" said Basset grandiloquently, with a flourish of his hand towards the berths. "Behold, I beseech you, him that hath alone routed the Spaniard, swept the seas, saved England, and covered him with glory! He it is whose name shall live in the chronicles of the time! He shall have a statue—of gingerbread—in the court of Her Majesty's Palace of Westminster, and his name shall be set up—wrought in white goose feathers—on the forefront of Paul's! Hail to the valiant and unconquerable Jack Enville, the deliverer of England from Pope and Spaniard!"
To the great astonishment of Arthur, there lay the valiant Jack, rolled in a blanket, apparently very much at his ease: but when Basset's peroration was drawing to a close, he unrolled himself, looking rather red in the face, and returned to ordinary life by standing on the floor in full uniform.
"Hold thy blatant tongue for an ass as thou art!" was his civil reply to Basset's lyric on his valour. "If I did meet a wound in the first flush of the fray, and came down hither to tend the same, what blame lieth therein?"
"Wert thou wounded, Jack?" asked Arthur.
"Too modest belike to show it," observed Basset. "Where is it, trow? Is thy boot-toe abrased, or hast had five hairs o' thine head carried away?"
"'Tis in my left wrist," said Jack, replying to Arthur, not Basset.
"Prithee, allow us to feast our eyes on so glorious a sign of thy valiantness!" said Basset.
Jack was extremely reluctant to show his boasted wound; but being pressed to do so by both his friends (from different motives) he exhibited something which looked like a severe scratch from a cat.
"Why, 'tis not much!" said Arthur, who could have shown several worse indications of battle on himself, which he had not thought worth notice.
"Oh, is it not?" muttered Jack morosely. "I can tell thee, 'tis as sore—"
"Nay, now, wound not yet again the great soul of the hero!" put in Basset with grim irony. "If he lie abed i' th' day for a wound to his wrist, what shall he do for a stab to his feelings? You shall drive him to drown him in salt water; and that were cruelty unheard-of, for it should make his eyes smart. I tell thee what, Jack Enville—there is one ass aboard the fleet, and his name is neither Arthur Tremayne nor—saving your presence—Robin Basset. Farewell! I go to win a laurel crown from Sir Francis by bearing news unto him of thy heroical deeds."
And away marched Basset, much to the relief of Jack.
The encounter of that day had been fearful. But when Lord Howard drew off to recruit himself, the Armada gathered her forces together, went forward, and cast anchor on the 27th in Calais Roads.
Here fresh orders reached her from Parma. Instead of skirmishing in the Channel, she was to assume the offensive at once. Within three days Medina must land in England. King Philip appears to have resigned his original intention of making the attack in person.
The Armada prepared for the final struggle. The young gentlemen on board meantime amused themselves by shouting sundry derisive songs, one of which was specially chosen when the "Revenge" was sufficiently near to be aggrieved by it: and Arthur, who had learned enough Spanish from his mother to act as translator, rendered the ditty into plain English prose for the benefit of Jack and Basset. The former received it with lofty scorn,—the latter with fiery vaticinations concerning his intentions when the ships should meet: and looking at the figure-head of the nearest vessel whence the song was shouted, he singled out "La Dolorida" for his special vengeance. A translation of the lyric in question is appended. [Note 4.] The speaker, it will be seen, is supposed to be a young Spanish lady.
"My brother Don John To England is gone, To kill the Drake, And the Queen to take, And the heretics all to destroy; And he has promised To bring to me A Lutheran boy With a chain round his neck: And Grandmamma From his share shall have A Lutheran maid To be her slave."
The prospect was agreeable. One thing was plain—that "the Don" had acquired a wholesome fear of "the Drake."
Sunday was the 28th: and on that morning it became evident that Medina meant mischief. The seven-mile crescent was slowly, but surely, closing in round Dover. The Spaniard was about to land. Lord Howard called a council of war: and a hasty resolution was taken. Eight gunboats were cleared out; their holds filled with combustible matter; they were set on fire, and sent into the advancing Armada. The terror of the Spaniards was immense. They fancied it Greek fire, such as had wrought fearful havoc among them at the siege of Antwerp. With shrieks of "The fire of Antwerp!—The fire of Antwerp!"—the Armada fell into disorder, and the vessels dispersed on all sides in the wildest confusion. Lord Howard followed in chase of Medina.
Even yet the Armada might have rallied and renewed the attack. But now the wind began to blow violently from the south. The galleys could make no head against it. Row as they would, they were hurried northward, the English giving chase hotly. The Spanish ships were driven hither and thither, pursued alike by the winds and the foe. One of the largest galleons ran ashore at Calais—from which the spoil taken was fifty thousand ducats—one at Ostend, several in different parts of Holland. Don Antonio de Matigues escaped from the one which ran aground at Calais, and carried back to Philip, like the messengers of Job, the news that he only had escaped to tell the total loss of the Invincible Armada. But the loss was not quite so complete. Medina was still driving northward before the gale, with many of his vessels, chased by the "Ark Royal" and her subordinates. He tried hard to cast anchor at Gravelines; but Lord Howard forced him away. Past Dunquerque ran the shattered Armada, with her foe in hot pursuit. There was one danger left, and until that peril was past, Lord Howard would not turn back. If Medina had succeeded in landing in Scotland,—which the Admiral fully expected him to attempt—the numerous Romanists left in that country, and the "Queensmen," the partisans of the beheaded Queen, would have received him with open arms. This would have rendered the young King's [James the Sixth, of Scotland] tenure of power very uncertain, and might not improbably have ended in an invasion of the border by a Scoto-Spanish army. But Lord Howard did not know that no thought of victory now animated Medina. The one faint hope within him was to reach home.
Internal dissensions were now added to the outward troubles of the Spaniards. Seven hundred English prisoners banded themselves under command of Sir William Stanley, and turned upon their gaolers. The Armada spread her sails, and let herself drive faster still. Northwards, ever northwards! It was the only way left open to Spain.
For four days the "Ark Royal" kept chase of the miserable relics of this once-grand Armada. When the Orkneys were safely passed, Lord Howard drew off, leaving scouts to follow Medina, and report where he went. If he had gone on for two days longer, he would not have had a charge of powder left.
Five thousand Spaniards had been killed; a much larger number lay wounded or ill; twelve of the most important ships were lost; provisions failed them; the fresh water was nearly all spent. One of the galleons ran aground at Fair Isle, in the Shetlands, where relics are still kept, and the dark complexions of the natives show traces of Spanish blood. The "Florida" was wrecked on the coast of Morven—where her shattered hulk lies yet. Medina made his way between the Faroe Isles and Iceland, fled out to the high seas, and toiled past Ireland home. The rest of the fleet tried to reach Cape Clear. Forty-one were lost off the coast of Ireland: many driven by the strong west wind into the English Channel, where they were taken, some by the English, some by the Rochellois: a few gained Neubourg in Normandy. Out of 134 ships, above eighty were total wrecks.
So ended the Invincible Armada.
England fought well. But it was not England who was the conqueror, [Note 5] but the south wind and the west wind of God.
Note 1. This was the same Duke of Guise who took an active part in the Massacre of Saint Bartholomew. He was assassinated at Blois, December 23, 1588—less than six months after the invasion of the Armada.
Note 2. The Greeks did not reckon by kalends. The Romans, who did, when they meant to refuse a request good-humouredly, said jokingly that it should be granted "in the Greek kalends."
Note 3. The name of Fleming's vessel does not appear.
Note 4. I am not responsible for this translation, nor have I met with the original.
Note 5. No one was more thoroughly persuaded of this than Elizabeth herself. Thirteen years afterwards, at the opening of her last Parliament, the Speaker thought proper to remark that England had been defended from all dangers that had attacked her by "the mighty arm of our dread and sacred Queen." An unexpected voice from the throne rebuked him. "No, Mr Speaker: by the mighty hand of God."
THE WRECK OF THE "DOLORIDA."
"And therefore unto this poor child of Eve The thing forbidden was the one thing wanting, Without which all the rest were dust and ashes."
"Heardst ever the like of the gale this night, Barbara?" asked Blanche, as she stood twisting up her hair before the mirror, one morning towards the close of August.
"'Twas a cruel rough night, in sooth," was the answer. "Yet the wind is westerly. God help the poor souls that were on the sea this night! They must have lacked the same."
"'Twas ill for the Spaniard, I reckon," said Blanche lightly.
"'Twas ill for life, Mistress Blanche," returned Barbara, gravely. "There be English on the wild waters, beside Spaniards. The Lord avert evil from them!"
"Nay, I go not about to pray that ill be avoided from those companions," retorted Blanche in scorn. "They may drown, every man of them, for aught I care."
"They be some woman's childre, every man," was Barbara's reply.
"O Blanche!" interposed Clare, reproachfully. "Do but think of their childre at home: and the poor mothers that are watching in the villages of Spain for their lads to come back to them! How canst thou wish them hurt?"
"How touching a picture!" said Blanche in the same tone.
"In very deed, I would not by my good-will do them none ill," responded Barbara; "I would but pray and endeavour myself that they should do none ill to me."
"How should they do thee ill, an' they were drowned?" laughed Blanche.
The girl was not speaking her real sentiments. She was neither cruel nor flinty-hearted, but was arguing and opposing, as she often did, sheerly from a spirit of contradiction, and a desire to astonish her little world; Blanche's vanity was of the Erostratus character. While she longed to be liked and admired, she would have preferred that people should think her disagreeable, rather than not think of her at all.
"But, Blanche," deprecated Clare, who did not enter into this peculiarity of her sister, "do but fancy, if one of these very men did seek thy gate, all wet and weary and hungered, and it might be maimed in the storm, without so much as one penny in his pocket for to buy him fire and meat—thou wouldst not shut the door in his face?"
"Nay, truly, for I would take a stout cudgel and drive him thence."
"O Clare!" said Blanche mockingly.
"I could never do no such a thing," added Clare, in a low tone.
"What, thou wouldst lodge and feed him?"
"Then shouldst thou harbour the Queen's enemy."
"I should harbour mine own enemy," said Clare. "And thou wist who bade us, 'If thine enemy hunger, feed him.'"
"Our Lord said that to His disciples."
"And are not we His disciples?"
"Gramercy, maiden! Peter, and John, and Andrew, and the like. 'Twas never meant for folk in these days?"
"Marry La'kin! What say you, Mistress Blanche?—that God's Word was not meant for folk now o' days?"
"Oh ay,—some portion thereof."
"Well-a-day! what will this world come to? I was used to hear say, in Queen Mary's days, that the great Council to London were busy undoing what had been done in King Harry's and King Edward's time: but I ne'er heard that the Lord had ta'en His Word in pieces, and laid up an handful thereof as done withal."
"Barbara, thou hast the strangest sayings!"
"I cry you mercy, Mistress mine,—'tis you that speak strangely."
"Come hither, and help me set this edge of pearl. Prithee, let such gear a-be. We be no doctors of the schools, thou nor I."
"We have souls to be saved, Mistress Blanche."
"Very well: and we have heads to be dressed likewise. Tell me if this cap sit well behind; I am but ill pleased withal."
Heavy rapid steps came down the corridor, and with a hasty knock, Jennet put her head in at the door.
"Mrs Blanche! Mrs Clare! If you 'll none miss th' biggest sight ever you saw, make haste and busk [dress] you, and come down to hall. There's th' biggest ship ever were i' these parts drove ashore o' Penny Bank. Th' Master, and Dick, and Sim, and Abel 's all gone down to th' shore, long sin'."
"What manner of ship, Jennet?" asked both the girls at once.
"I'm none fur learnt i' ships," said Jennet, shaking her head. "Sim said 'twere a Spaniard, and Dick said 'twere an Englishman; and Abel bade 'em both hold their peace for a pair o' gaumless [stupid] noodles."
"But what saith my father?" cried excited Blanche, who had forgotten all about the fit of her cap.
"Eh, bless you!—he's no noodle: Why, he said he'd see 't afore he told anybody what 't were."
"Barbara, be quick, dear heart, an' thou lovest me. Let the cap be; only set my ruff.—Jennet! can we see it hence?"
"You'll see 't off th' end o' th' terrace, right plain afore ye," said Jennet, and summarily departed.
There was no loitering after that. In a very few minutes the two girls were dressed, Blanche's ruff being satisfactory in a shorter time than Barbara could ever remember it before. Clare stayed for her prayers, but Blanche dashed off without them, and made her way to the end of the terrace, where her sister presently joined her.
"She is a Spaniard!" cried Blanche, in high excitement. "Do but look on her build, Clare. She is not English-built, as sure as this is Venice ribbon."
Clare disclaimed, with a clear conscience, all acquaintance with shipbuilding, and declined even to hazard a guess as to the nationality of the ill-fated vessel. But Blanche was one of those who must be (or seem to be; either will do) conversant with every subject under discussion. So she chattered on, making as many blunders as assertions, until at last, just at the close of a particularly absurd mistake, she heard a loud laugh behind her.
"Well done, Blanche!" said her father's voice. "I will get thee a ship, my lass. Thou art as fit to be a sea-captain, and come through a storm in the Bay of Biscay, as—thy popinjay." [Parrot.]
"O Father, be there men aboard yonder ship?" said Clare, earnestly.
"Ay, my lass," he replied, more gravely. "An hundred and seventy souls—there were, last night, Clare."
"And what?"—Clare's face finished the question.
"There be nine come ashore," he added in the same tone.
"And the rest, Father?" asked Clare piteously.
"Drowned, my lass, every soul, in last night's storm."
"O Father, Father!" cried Clare's tender heart.
"Good lack!" said Blanche. "Is she English, Father?"
"The Dolorida, of Cales, [Cadiz] my maid."
"Spanish!" exclaimed Blanche, her excitement returning. "And what be these nine men, Father?"
"There be two of them poor galley-slaves; two sailors; and four soldiers, of the common sort. No officers; but one young gentleman, of a good house in Spain, that was come abroad for his diversion, and to see the sight."
"Who is this gentleman, Father?—What manner of man is he?"
Sir Thomas was a little amused by the eagerness of his daughter's questions.
"His name is Don John de Las Rojas, [a fictitious person] Mistress Blanche,—of a great house and ancient, as he saith, in Andalusia: and as to what manner of man,—why, he hath two ears, and two eyes, and one nose, and I wis not how many teeth—"
"Now prithee, Father, mock me not! Where is her—"
"What shouldest say, were I to answer, In a chamber of Enville Court?"
"Here, Father?—verily, here? Shall I see him?"
"That hangeth on whether thine eyes be shut or open. Thou must tarry till he is at ease."
"At ease!—what aileth him?"
Sir Thomas laughed. "Dost think coming through a storm at sea as small matter as coming through a gate on land? He hath 'scaped rarely well; there is little ails him save a broken arm, and a dozen or so of hard bruises; but I reckon a day or twain will pass ere it shall be to his conveniency to appear in thy royal presence, my Lady Blanche."
"But what chamber hath he?—and who is with him?—Do tell me all thereabout."
"Verily, curiosity is great part of Eve's legacy to her daughters. Well, an' thou must needs know, he is in the blue chamber; and thine aunt and Jennet be with him; and I have sent Abel to Bispham after the leech. [Doctor.] What more, an't like the Lady Blanche?"
"Oh, what like is he?—and how old?—and is he well-favoured?—and—"
"Nay, let me have them by threes at the most. He is like a young man with black hair and a right wan face.—How old? Well, I would guess, an' he were English, something over twenty years; but being Spanish, belike he is younger than so.—Well-favoured? That a man should look well-favoured, my Lady Blanche, but now come off a shipwreck, and his arm brake, and after fasting some forty hours,—methinks he should be a rare goodly one. Maybe a week's dieting and good rest shall better his beauty."
"Hath he any English?"
"But a little, and that somewhat droll: yet enough to make one conceive his wants. His father and mother both, he told me, were of the Court when King Philip dwelt here, and they have learned him some English for this his journey."
"Doth his father live?"
"Woe worth the day! I asked him not. I knew not your Grace should desire to wit it."
"And his mother? Hath he sisters?"
"Good lack! ask at him when thou seest him. Alack, poor lad!—his work is cut out, I see."
"But you have not told me what shall come of them."
"I told thee not! I have been answering thy questions thicker than any blackberries. My tongue fair acheth; I spake not so much this week past."
"How do you mock me, Father!"
"I will be sad as a dumpling, my lass. I reckon, Mistress, all they shall be sent up to London unto the Council, without there come command that the justices shall deal with them."
"And what shall be done to them?"
"Marry, an' I had my way, they should be well whipped all round, and packed off to Spain. Only the galley-slaves, poor lads!—they could not help themselves."
"Here 's the leech come, Master," said Jennet, behind them.
Sir Thomas hastened back into the house, and the two sisters followed more slowly.
"Oh, behold Aunt Rachel!" said Blanche. "She will tell us somewhat."
Now, only on the previous evening, Rachel had been asserting, in her strongest and sternest manner, that nothing,—no, nothing on earth!— should ever make her harbour a Spaniard. They were one and all "evil companions;" they were wicked Papists; they were perturbators of the peace of our Sovereign Lady the Queen; hanging was a luxury beyond their deserts. It might therefore have been reasonably expected that Rachel, when called upon to serve one of these very obnoxious persons, would scornfully refuse assistance, and retire to her own chamber in the capacity of an outraged Briton. But Rachel, when she spoke in this way, spoke in the abstract, with a want of realisation. When the objectionable specimen of the obnoxious mass lifted a pair of suffering human eyes to her face, the ice thawed in a surprisingly sudden manner from the surface of her flinty heart, and the set lips relaxed into an astonishingly pitying expression.
Blanche, outwardly decorous, but with her eyes full of mischief, walked up to Rachel, and desired to know how it fared with the Spanish gentleman.
"Poor lad! he is in woeful case!" answered the representative of the enraged British Lion. "What with soul and body, he must have borne well-nigh the pangs of martyrdom this night. 'Tis enough to make one's heart bleed but to look on him. And to hear him moan to himself of his mother, poor heart! when he thinks him alone—at least thus I take his words: I would, rather than forty shillings, she were nigh to tend him."
From which speech it will be seen that when Rachel did "turn coat," she turned it inside out entirely.
"Good lack, Aunt Rachel! what is he but an evil companion?" demanded irreverent Blanche, with her usual want of respect for the opinions of her elders.
"If he were the worsest companion on earth, child, yet the lad may lack his wounds dressed," said Rachel, indignantly.
"And a Papist!"
"So much the rather should we show him the betterness of our Protestant faith, by Christian-wise tending of him."
"And an enemy!" pursued Blanche, proceeding with the list.
"Hold thy peace, maid! Be we not bidden in God's Word to do good unto our enemies?"
"And a perturbator of the Queen's peace, Aunt Rachel!"
"This young lad hath not much perturbed the Queen's peace, I warrant," said Rachel, uneasily,—a dim apprehension of her niece's intentions crossing her mind at last.
"Nay, but hanging is far too good for him!" argued Blanche, quoting the final item.
"Thou idle prating hussy!" cried Rachel, turning hastily round to face her,—vexed, and yet laughing. "And if I have said such things in mine heat, what call hast thou to throw them about mine ears? Go get thee about thy business."
"I have no business, at this present, Aunt Rachel."
"Lack-a-daisy! that a cousin [then used in the general sense of relative] of mine should say such a word! No business, when a barrelful of wool waiteth the carding, and there is many a yard of flax, to be spun, and cordial waters to distil, and a full set of shirts to make for thy father, and Jack's gown to guard [trim] anew with lace, and thy mother's new stomacher—"
"Oh, mercy, Aunt Rachel!" cried lazy Blanche, putting her hands over her ears.
But Mistress Rachel was merciless—towards Blanche.
"No business, quotha!" resumed that astonished lady. "And Margaret's winter's gown should, have been cut down ere now into a kirtle, and Lucrece lacketh both a hood and a napron, and thine own partlets have not yet so much as the first stitch set in them. No business! Prithee, stand out of my way, Madam Idlesse, for I have no time to spend in twirling of my thumbs. And when thou find thy partlets rags, burden not me withal. No business, by my troth!"
Muttering which, Rachel stalked away, while Blanche, instead of fetching needle and thread, and setting to work on her new ruffs, fled into the garden, and ensconcing herself at the foot of the ash-tree, gazed up at the windows of the blue chamber, and erected magnificent castles in the air. Meanwhile, Clare, who had heard Rachel's list of things waiting to be done, and had just finished setting the lace upon Jack's gown, quietly possessed herself of a piece of fine lawn, measured off the proper length, and was far advanced in one of Blanche's neglected ruffs before that young lady sauntered in, when summoned by the breakfast-bell.
The leech thought well of the young Spaniard's case. The broken arm was not a severe fracture—"right easy to heal," said he in a rather disappointed manner; the bruises were nothing but what would disappear with time and one of Rachel's herbal lotions. In a few weeks, the young man might expect to be fully recovered. And until that happened, said Sir Thomas, he should remain at Enville Court.
But the other survivors of the shipwreck did not come off so easily. On the day after it, one of the soldiers and one of the galley-slaves died. The remaining galley-slave, a Moorish prisoner, very grave and silent, and speaking little Spanish; the two sailors, of whom one was an Italian; and one of the soldiers, were quartered in the glebe barn—the rest in one of Sir Thomas Enville's barns. Two of the soldiers were Pyrenees men, and spoke French. All of them, except the Moor and the Italian, were possessed by abject terror, expecting to be immediately killed, if not eaten. The Italian, who was no stranger to English people, and into whose versatile mind nothing sank deep, was the only blithe and cheerful man in the group. The Moor kept his feelings and opinions to himself. But the others could utter nothing but lamentations, "Ay de mi!" [alas for me] and "Soy muerto!" [literally, "I am dead"—a common lamentation in Spain.] with mournful vaticinations that their last hour was at hand, and that they would never see Spain again. Sir Thomas Enville could just manage to make himself understood by the Italian, and Mr Tremayne by the two Pyreneans. No one else at Enville Court spoke any language but English. But Mrs Rose, a Spanish lady's daughter, who had been accustomed to speak Spanish for the first twenty years of her life; and Mrs Tremayne, who had learned it from her; and Lysken Barnevelt, who had spoken it in her childhood, and had kept herself in practice with Mrs Rose's help— these three went in and out among the prisoners, interpreted for the doctor, dressed the wounds, cheered the down-hearted men, and at last persuaded them that Englishmen were not cannibals, and that it was not certain they would all be hung immediately.
There was one person at Enville Court who would have given much to be a fourth in the band of helpers. Clare was strongly disposed to envy her friend Lysken, and to chafe against the bonds of conventionalism which bound her own actions. She longed to be of some use in the world; to till some corner of the vineyard marked out specially for her; to find some one for whom, or something for which she was really wanted. Of course, making and mending, carding and spinning, distilling and preserving, were all of use: somebody must do them. But somebody, in this case, meant anybody. It was not Clare who was necessary. And Lysken, thought Clare, had deeper and higher work. She had to deal with human hearts, while Clare dealt only with woollen and linen. Was there no possibility that some other person could see to the woollen and linen, and that Clare might be permitted to work with Lysken, and help the human hearts as well?
But Clare forgot one essential point—that a special training is needed for work of this kind. Cut a piece of cambric wrongly, and after all you do but lose the cambric: but deal wrongly with a human heart, and terrible mischief may ensue. And this special training Lysken had received, and Clare had never had. Early privation and sorrow had been Lysken's lesson-book.
Clare found no sympathy in her aspirations. She had once timidly ventured a few words, and discovered quickly that she would meet with no help at home. Lady Enville was shocked at such notions; they were both unmaidenly and communistic: had Clare no sense of what was becoming in a knight's step-daughter? Of course Lysken Barnevelt was nobody; it did not matter what she did. Rachel bade her be thankful that she was so well guarded from this evil world, which was full of men, and that was another term for wild beasts and venomous serpents. Margaret could not imagine what Clare wanted; was there not enough to do at home? Lucrece was demurely thankful to Providence that she was content with her station and circumstances. Blanche was half amused, and half disgusted, at the idea of having anything to do with those dirty stupid people.
So Clare quietly locked up her little day-dream in her own heart, and wished vainly that she had been a clergyman's daughter. Before her eyes there rose a sunny vision of imaginary life at the parsonage, with Mr and Mrs Tremayne for her parents, Arthur and Lysken for her brother and sister, and the whole village for her family. The story never got far enough for any of them to marry; in fact, that would have spoilt it. Beyond the one change of place, there were to be no further changes. No going away; no growing old; "no cares to break the still repose," except those of the villagers, who were to be petted and soothed and helped into being all good and happy. Beyond that point, Clare's dream did not go.
Let her dream on a little longer,—poor Clare! She was destined to be rudely awakened before long.
COSITAS DE ESPANA.
"On earth no word is said, I ween, But's registered in Heaven: What's here a jest, is there a sin Which may never be forgiven."
Blanche Enville sat on the terrace, on a warm September afternoon, with a half-finished square of wool-work in her hand, into which she was putting a few stitches every now and then. She chose to imagine herself hard at work; but it would have fatigued nobody to count the number of rows which she had accomplished since she came upon the terrace. The work which Blanche was really attending to was the staple occupation of her life,—building castles in the air. At various times she had played all manner of parts, from a captive queen, a persecuted princess, or a duchess in disguise, down to a fisherman's daughter saving a vessel in danger by the light in her cottage window. No one who knows how to erect the elegant edifices above referred to, will require to be told that whatever might be her temporary position, Blanche always acquitted herself to perfection: and that any of the airy dramatis personae who failed to detect her consummate superiority was either compassionately undeceived, or summarily crushed, at the close of the drama.
Are not these fantasies one of the many indications that all along life's pathway, the old serpent is ever whispering to us his first lie,—"Ye shall be as gods?"
At the close of a particularly sensational scene, when Blanche had just succeeded in escaping from a convent prison wherein the wicked. Queen her sister had confined her, the idea suddenly flashed upon the oppressed Princess that Aunt Rachel would hardly be satisfied with the state of the kettle-holder; and coming down in an instant from air to earth, she determinately and compunctiously set to work again. The second row of stitches was growing under her hands when, by that subtle psychological process which makes us aware of the presence of another person, though we may have heard and seen nothing, Blanche became conscious that she was no longer alone. She looked up quickly, into the face of a stranger; but no great penetration was needed to guess that the young man before her was the shipwrecked Spaniard.
Blanche's first idea on seeing him, was a feeling of wonder that her father should have thought him otherwise than "well-favoured." He was handsome enough, she thought, to be the hero of any number of dramas.
The worthy Knight's ideas as to beauty by no means coincided with those of his daughter. Sir Thomas thought that to look well, a man must not be—to use his own phrase—"lass-like and finnicking." It was all very well for a woman to have a soft voice, a pretty face, or a graceful mien: but let a man be tall, stout, well-developed, and tolerably rough. So that the finely arched eyebrows, the languishing liquid eyes, the soft delicate features, and the black silky moustache, which were the characteristics of Don Juan's face, found no favour with Sir Thomas, but were absolute perfection in the captivated eyes of Blanche. When those dark eyes looked admiringly at her, she could see no fault in them; and when a voice addressed her in flattering terms, she could readily enough overlook wrong accents and foreign idioms.
"Most beautiful lady!" said Don Juan, addressing himself to Blanche, and translating literally into English the usual style of his native land.
The epithet gave Blanche a little thrill of delight. No one—except the mythical inhabitants of the airy castles—had ever spoken to her in this manner before. And undoubtedly there was a zest in the living voice of another human being, which was unfortunately lacking in the denizens of Fairy Land. Blanche had never sunk so low in her own opinion as she did when she tried to frame an answer. She was utterly at a loss for words. Instead of the exquisitely appropriate language which would have risen to her lips at once if she had not addressed a human being, she could only manage to stammer out, in most prosaic fashion, a hope that he was better. But her consciousness of inferiority deepened, when Don Juan replied promptly, with a low bow, and the application of his left hand to the place where his heart was supposed to be, that the sight of her face had effected a full and immediate cure of all his ills.
Oh, for knowledge what to say to him, with due grace and effect! Why was she not born a Spanish lady? And what would he think of her, with such plebeian work as this in her hand! "How he must despise me!" thought silly Blanche. "Why, I have not even a fan to flutter."
Don Juan was quite at his ease. Shyness and timidity were evidently not in the list of his failings.
"I think me fortunate, fair lady," sighed he, with another bow, "that this the misfortune me has made acquainted with your Grace. In my country, we say to the ladies; Grant me the soles of your foots. But here the gentlemen humble not themselves so low. I beseech your Grace, therefore, the favour to kiss you the hand."
Blanche wondered if all Spanish ladies were addressed as "your Grace." [Note 1.] How delightful! She held out her hand like a queen, and Don Juan paid his homage.
"Your Grace see me much happinessed. When I am again in my Andalusia, I count it the gloriousest hour of my life that I see your sweet country and the beautifullest of his ladies."
How far either Don Juan or Blanche might ultimately have gone in making themselves ridiculous cannot be stated, because at this moment Margaret—prosaic, literal Margaret—appeared on the terrace.
"Blanche! Aunt Rachel seeketh thee.—Your servant, Master! I trust you are now well amended?"
Don Juan was a very quick reader of character. He instantly realised the difference between the sisters, and replied to Margaret's inquiry in a calm matter-of-fact style. Blanche moved slowly away. She felt as if she were leaving the sunshine behind her.
"Well, of all the lazy jades!" was Rachel's deserved greeting. "Three rows and an half, betwixt twelve of the clock and four! Why, 'tis not a full row for the hour! Child, art thou 'shamed of thyself?"
"Well, just middling, Aunt Rachel," said Blanche, pouting a little.
"Blanche," returned her Aunt very gravely, "I do sorely pity thine husband—when such a silly thing may win one—without he spend an hundred pound by the day, and keep a pack of serving-maids a-louting at thy heels."
"I hope he may, Aunt Rachel," said Blanche coolly.
"Eh, child, child!" And Rachel's head was ominously shaken.
From that time Don Juan joined the family circle at meals. Of course he was a prisoner, but a prisoner on parole, very generously treated, and with little fear for the future. He was merely a spectator, having taken no part in the war; there were old friends of his parents among the English nobility: no great harm was likely to come to him. So he felt free to divert himself; and here was a toy ready to his hand.
The family circle were amused with the names which he gave them. Sir Thomas became "Don Tomas;" Lady Enville was "the grand Senora." Margaret and Lucrece gave him some trouble; they were not Spanish names. He took refuge in "Dona Mariquita" (really a diminutive of Maria), and "Dona Lucia." But there was no difficulty about "Dona Clara" and "Dona Blanca," which dropped from his lips (thought Blanche) like music. Rachel's name, however, proved impracticable. He contented himself with "Senora mia" when he spoke to her, and, "Your Lady Aunt" when he spoke of her.
He was ready enough to give some account of himself. His father, Don Gonsalvo, Marquis de Las Rojas, was a grandee of the first class, and a Lord in Waiting to King Philip; his mother, Dona Leonor de Torrejano, had been in attendance on Queen Mary. He had two sisters, whose names were Antonia and Florela; and a younger brother, Don Hernando. [All fictitious persons.]
It flattered Blanche all the more that in the presence of others he was distantly ceremonious; but whenever they were alone, he was continually, though very delicately, hinting his admiration of her, and pouring soft speeches into her entranced ears. So Blanche, poor silly child I played the part of the moth, and got her wings well singed in the candle.
Whatever Blanche was, Don Juan himself was perfectly heart-whole. Of course no grandee of Spain could ever descend so low as really to contemplate marriage with a mere caballero's daughter, and of a heretic country; that was out of the question. Moreover, there was a family understanding that, a dispensation being obtained, he was to marry his third cousin, Dona Lisarda de Villena, [A fictitious person] a lady of moderate beauty and fabulous fortune. This arrangement had been made while both were little children, nor had Don Juan the least intention of rendering it void. He was merely amusing himself.
It often happens that such amusements destroy another's happiness. And it sometimes happens that they lead to the destruction of another's soul.
Don Juan won golden opinions from Sir Thomas and Lady Enville. He was not wanting in sense, said the former (to whom the sensible side of him had been shown); and, he was right well-favoured, and so courtly! said Lady Enville—who had seen the courtly aspect.
"Well-favoured!" laughed Sir Thomas. "Calleth a woman yonder lad well-favoured? Why, his face is the worst part of him: 'tis all satin and simpers!"
Rachel had not the heart to speak ill of the invalid whom she had nursed, while she admitted frankly that there were points about him which she did not like: but these, no doubt, arose mainly from his being a foreigner and a Papist. Margaret said little, but in her heart she despised him. And presently Jack came home, when the volunteers were disbanded, and, after a passage of arms, became the sworn brother of the young prisoner. He was such a gentleman! said Master Jack. So there was not much likelihood of Blanche's speedy disenchantment.
"Marry, what think you of the lad, Mistress Thekla?" demanded Barbara one day, when she was at "four-hours" at the parsonage.
"He is very young," answered Mrs Tremayne, who always excused everybody as long as it was possible. "He will amend with time, we may well hope."
"Which is to say, I admire him not," suggested Mrs Rose, now a very old woman, on whom time had brought few bodily infirmities, and no, mental ones.
"Who doth admire him, Barbara, at the Court?" asked Mr Tremayne.
"Marry La'kin! every soul, as methinks, save Mistress Meg, and Sim, and Jennet. Mistress Meg—I misdoubt if she doth; and Sim says he is a nincompoop; [silly fellow] and Jennet saith, he is as like as two peas to the old fox that they nailed up on the barn door when she was a little maid. But Sir Thomas, and my Lady, and Master Jack, be mighty taken with him; and Mistress Rachel but little less: and as to Mistress Blanche, she hath eyes for nought else."
"Poor Blanche!" said Thekla.
"Blanche shall be a mouse in a trap, if she have not a care," said Mrs Rose, with a wise shake of her head.
"Good lack, Mistress! she is in the trap already, but she wot it not."
"When we wot us to be in a trap, we be near the outcoming," remarked the Rector.
"Of a truth I cannot tell," thoughtfully resumed Barbara, "whether this young gentleman be rare deep, or rare shallow. He is well-nigh as ill to fathom as Mistress Lucrece herself. Lo' you, o' Sunday morrow, Sir Thomas told him that the law of the land was for every man and woman in the Queen's dominions to attend the parish church twice of the Sunday, under twenty pound charge by the month if they tarried at home, not being let by sickness: and I had heard him say himself that he looked Don John should kick thereat. But what doth Don John but to take up his hat, and walk off to the church, handing of Mistress Rachel, as smiling as any man; and who as devote as he when he was there?—Spake the Amen, and sang in the Psalm, and all the rest belike. Good lack! I had thought the Papists counted it sinful for to join in a Protestant service."
"Not alway," said Mr Tremayne. "Maybe he hath the priest's licence in his pocket."
"I wis not what he hath," responded Barbara, sturdily, "save and except my good will; and that he hath not, nor is not like to have,—in especial with Mistress Blanche, poor sely young maiden! that wot not what she doth."
"He may have it, then, in regard to Clare?" suggested Mrs Rose mischievously.
"Marry La'kin!" retorted Barbara in her fiercest manner. "But if I thought yon fox was in any manner of fashion of way a-making up to my jewel,—I could find it in my heart to put rats-bane in his pottage!"
Sir Thomas transmitted to London the news of the wreck of the Dolorida, requesting orders concerning the seven survivors: at the same time kindly writing to two or three persons in high places, old acquaintances of the young man's parents, to ask their intercession on behalf of Don Juan. But the weeks passed away, and as yet no answer came. The Queen and Council were too busy to give their attention to a small knot of prisoners.
On the fourth of September in the Armada year, 1588, died Robert Dudley, the famous Earl of Leicester, who had commanded the army of defence at Tilbury. This one man—and there was only one such—Elizabeth had never ceased to honour. He retained her favour unimpaired for thirty years, through good report—of which there was very little; and evil report—of which there was a great deal. He saw rival after rival rise and flourish and fall: but to the end of his life, he stood alone as the one whose brilliant day was unmarred by storm,—the King of England, because the King of her Queen. What was the occult power of this man, the last of the Dudleys of Northumberland, over the proud spirit of Elizabeth? It was not that she had any affection for him: she showed that plainly enough at his death, when her whole demeanour was not that of mourning, but of release. He was a man of extremely bad character,—a fact patent to all the world: yet Elizabeth kept him at her side, and admitted him to her closest friendship,—though she knew well that the rumours which blackened his name did not spare her own. He never cleared himself of the suspected murder of his first wife; he never tried to clear himself of the attempted murder of the second, whom he alternately asserted and denied to be his lawful wife, until no one knew which story to believe. But the third proved his match. There was strong cause for suspicion that twelve years before, Robert Earl of Leicester had given a lesson in poisoning to Lettice Countess of Essex: and now the same Lettice, Countess of Leicester, had not forgotten her lesson. Leicester was tired of her; perhaps, too, he was a little afraid of what she knew. The deft and practised poisoner administered a dose to his wife. But Lettice survived, and poisoned him in return. And so the last of the Dudleys passed to his awful account.
His death made no difference in the public rejoicing for the defeat of the Armada. Two days afterwards, the Spanish banners were exhibited from Paul's Cross, and the next morning were hung on London Bridge. The nineteenth of November was a holiday throughout the kingdom. On Sunday the 24th, the Queen made her famous thanksgiving progress to Saint Paul's, seated in a chariot built in the form of a throne, with four pillars, and a crowned canopy overhead. The Privy Council and the House of Lords attended her. Bishop Pierce of Salisbury preached the sermon, from the very appropriate text, afterwards engraved on the memorial medals,—"He blew with His wind, and they were scattered."
All this time no word came to decide the fate of Don Juan. It was not expected now before spring. A winter journey from Lancashire to London was then a very serious matter.
"So you count it not ill to attend our Protestant churches, Master?" asked Blanche of Don Juan, as she sat in the window-seat, needlework in hand. It was a silk purse, not a kettle-holder, this time.
"How could I think aught ill, Dona Blanca, which I see your Grace do?" was the courtly reply of Don Juan.
"But what should your confessor say, did he hear thereof?" asked Blanche, provokingly.
"Is a confessor a monster in your eyes, fair lady?" said Don Juan, with that smile which Blanche held in deep though secret admiration.
"I thought they were rarely severe," she said, bending her eyes on her work.
"Ah, Senora, our faith differs from yours much less than you think. What is a confessor, but a priest—a minister? The Senor Tremayne is a confessor, when one of his people shall wish his advice. Where lieth the difference?"
Blanche was too ignorant to know where it lay.
"I accounted there to be mighty difference," she said, hesitatingly.
"Valgame los santos! [The saints defend me!]—but a shade or two of colour. Hold we not the same creeds as you? Your Book of Common Prayer—what is it but the translation of ours? We worship the same God; we honour the same persons, as you. Where, then, is the difference? Our priests wed not; yours may. We receive the Holy Eucharist in one kind; you, in both. We are absolved in private, and make confession thus; you, in public. Be these such mighty differences?"
If Don Juan had thrown a little less dust in her eyes, perhaps Blanche might have had sense enough to ask him where the Church of Rome had found her authority for her half of these differences, since it certainly was not in Holy Scripture: and also, whether that communion held such men as Cranmer, Latimer, Calvin, and Luther, in very high esteem? But the dust was much too thick to allow any stronger reply from Blanche than a feeble inquiry whether these really were all the points of difference.
"What other matter offendeth your Grace? Doubtless I can expound the same."
"Why, I have heard," said Blanche faintly, selecting one of the smaller charges first, "that the Papists do hold Mary, the blessed Virgin, to have been without sin."
"Some Catholics have that fantasy," replied Don Juan lightly. "It is only a few. The Church binds it not on the conscience of any. You take it—you leave it—as you will."
"Likewise you hold obedience due to the Bishop of Rome, instead of only unto your own Prince, as with us," objected Blanche, growing a shade bolder.
"That, again, is but in matters ecclesiastical. In secular matters, I do assure your Grace, the Pope interfereth not."
Blanche, who had no answers to these subtle explainings away of the facts, felt as if all her outworks were being taken, one by one.
"Yet," she said, bringing her artillery to bear on a new point, "you have images in your churches, Don John, and do worship unto them?"
The word worship has changed its meaning since the days of Queen Elizabeth. To do worship, and to do honour, were then interchangeable terms.
Don Juan smiled. "Have you no pictures in your books, Dona Blanca? These images are but as pictures for the teaching of the vulgar, that cannot read. How else should we learn them? If some of the ignorant make blunder, and bestow to these images better honour than the Church did mean them, the mistake is theirs. No man really doth worship unto these, only the vulgar."
"But do not you pray unto the saints?"
"We entreat the saints to pray for us; that is all."
"Then, in the Lord's Supper—the mass, you call it,"—said Blanche, bringing up at last her strongest battering-ram, "you do hold, as I have been taught, Don John, that the bread and wine be changed into the very self body and blood of our Saviour Christ, that it is no more bread and wine at all. Now how can you believe a matter so plainly confuted by your very senses?"
"Ah, if I had but your learning and wisdom, Senora!" sighed Don Juan, apparently from the bottom of his heart.
Blanche felt flattered; but she was not thrown off the scent, as her admirer intended her to be. She still looked up for the answer; and Don Juan saw that he must give it.
"Sweetest lady! I am no doctor of the schools, nor have I studied for the priesthood, that I should be able to expound all matters unto one of your Grace's marvellous judgment and learning. Yet, not to leave so fair a questioner without answer—suffer that I ask, your gracious leave accorded—did not our Lord say thus unto the holy Apostles,—'Hoc est corpus mens,' to wit, 'This is My Body?'"
"In what manner, then, was it thus?"
"Only as a memorial or representation thereof, we do hold, Don John."
"Good: as the child doth present [represent] the father, being of the like substance, no less than appearance,—as saith the blessed Saint Augustine, and also the blessed Jeronymo, and others of the holy Fathers of the Church, right from the time of our Lord and His Apostles."
Don Juan had never read a line of the works of Jerome or Augustine. Fortunately for him, neither had Blanche,—a chance on which he safely calculated. Blanche was completely puzzled. She sat looking out of the window, and thinking with little power, and to small purpose. She had not an idea when Augustine lived, nor whether he read the service in his own tongue in a surplice, or celebrated the Latin mass in full pontificals. And if it were true that all the Fathers, down from the Apostles, had held the Roman view—for poor ignorant Blanche had not the least idea whether it were true or false—it was a very awkward thing. Don Juan stood and watched her face for an instant. His diplomatic instinct told him that the subject had better be dropped. All that was needed to effect this end was a few well-turned compliments, which his ingenuity readily suggested. In five minutes more the theological discussion was forgotten, at least by Blanche, as Don Juan was assuring her that in all Andalusia there were not eyes comparable to hers.
Mr Tremayne and Arthur came in to supper that evening. The former quietly watched the state of affairs without appearing to notice anything. He saw that Don Juan, who sat by Lucrece, paid her the most courteous attention; that Lucrece received it with a thinly-veiled air of triumph; that Blanche's eyes constantly followed, the young Spaniard: and he came to the conclusion that the affair was more complicated than he had originally supposed.
He waited, however, till Arthur and Lysken were both away, until he said anything at home. When those young persons were safely despatched to bed, Mr and Mrs Tremayne and Mrs Rose drew together before the fire, and discussed the state of affairs at Enville Court.
"Now, what thinkest, Robin?" inquired Mrs Rose. "Is Blanche, la pauvrette! as fully taken with Don Juan as Barbara did suppose?"
"I am afeared, fully."
"And Don Juan?"
"If I mistake not, is likewise taken with Blanche: but I doubt somewhat if he be therein as wholehearted as she."
"And what say the elders?" asked Mrs Tremayne.
"Look on with eyes which see nought. But, nathless, there be one pair of eyes that see; and Blanche's path is not like to run o'er smooth."
"What, Mistress Rachel?"
"Nay, she is blind as the rest. I mean Lucrece."
"Lucrece! Thinkest she will ope the eyes of the other?"
"I think she casteth about to turn Don Juan's her way."
"Alack, poor Blanche!" said Mrs Tremayne. "Howso the matter shall go, mefeareth she shall not 'scape suffering."
"She is no match for Lucrece," observed Mrs Rose.
"Truth: but I am in no wise assured Don Juan is not," answered Mr Tremayne with a slightly amused look. "As for Blanche, she is like to suffer; and I had well-nigh added, she demeriteth the same: but it will do her good, Thekla. At the least, if the Lord bless it unto her—be assured I meant not to leave out that."
"The furnace purifieth the gold," said Mrs Tremayne sadly: "yet the heat is none the less fierce for that, Robin."
"Dear heart, whether wouldst thou miss the suffering rather, and the purifying, or take both together?"
"It is soon over, Thekla," said her mother, quietly.
During the fierce heat of the Marian persecution, those words had once been said to Marguerite Rose. She had failed to realise them then. The lesson was learned now—thirty-five years later.