Having galloped a little way, Dorothy drew bridle and halted for Tom. As soon as he came up, she released him, and telling him to lay hold of Dick's mane and run alongside, kept him at a fast trot all the way to his mother's house.
The moon had risen before they reached it, and Dorothy was therefore glad, when she dismounted at the gate, to think she need ride no further. But while Tom went in to rouse his mother, she let Dick have a few bites of the grass before taking him into the kitchen—lest the roundheads should find him. The next moment, however, out came Tom in terror, saying there was a man in his mother's closet, and he feared the roundheads were in possession.
'Then take care of thyself, Tom,' said Dorothy; and mounting instantly, she made Dick scramble up into the fields that lay between the cottage and her own house, and set off at full speed across the grass in the moonlight—an ethereal pleasure which not even an anxious secret could blast.
Through a gap in the hedge she had just popped into the second field, when she heard the click of a flint-lock, and a voice she thought she knew ordering her to stand: within a few yards of her was again a roundhead soldier. If she rode away, he would fire at her; that mode of escape therefore she would keep for a last chance. The moon by this time was throwing an unclouded light from more than half a disc upon the field.
Keeping a sharp eye upon the man's movements, she allowed him to come within a pace or two, but the moment he would have taken Dick by the bridle she was three or four yards away.
'Fright not my horse, friend,' she said.—'But how!' she added, suddenly remembering him, 'is it possible? Master Upstill! Gently, gently, little Dick! Master Upstill is an old friend. What! hast thou too turned soldier? Left thy last and lapstone and turned soldier, master Upstill?'
'I have left all and followed him, mistress,' answered Castdown.
'Art sure he called thee, master Upstill?'
'I heard him with my own ears.'
'Called thee to be a shedder of blood, master Upstill?'
'Called me to be a fisher of men, and thee I catch, mistress—thus,' returned the man, stepping quickly forward and making another grasp at Dick's bridle.
It was all Dorothy could do to keep herself from giving him a smart blow across the face with her whip, and riding off. But she gave Dick the cut instead, and sent him yards away.
'Poor Dick! poor Dick!' she said, patting his neck; 'be quiet; master Upstill will do thee no wrong. Be quiet, little man.'
As she thus talked to her genet, Upstill again drew near, now more surly than at first.
'Say what manner of woman art thou?' he demanded with pompous anger. 'Whence comes thou, and whither does thee go?'
'Home,' answered Dorothy.
'What place calls thee home?'
'Why! dost not know me, master Upstill? When I was a little one, thou didst make my shoes for me.'
'I trust it will be forgiven me, mistress. Truly I had ne'er made shoe for thee an' I had foreseen what thee would come to! For I make no farther doubt thou art a consorter with malignants, harlots, and papists.'
Again he clutched at her bridle, and this time, whether it was Dorothy or Dick's fault, with success. Dorothy dropped the bridle, put her hand in her pocket, struck Dick smartly with her whip, and as he reared in consequence, drew it across Upstill's eyes, and so found the chance of administering her bolus.
It was thoroughly effective. The fellow left his hold of the bridle, and began a series of efforts to remove it, which rapidly grew wilder and wilder, until at last his gestures were those of a maniac.
'There!' she cried, as she bounded from him, 'take thy first lesson in good manners. No one can rid thee of that mouthful, which is as thy evil words returned to choke thee!—Thou hadst better keep me in sight,' she added, as she gave Dick his head, 'for no one else can free thee.'
Upstill ceased his futile efforts, caught up his carbine, and fired—not without risk to Dorothy, for he was far too wrathful to take the aim that would have ensured her safety. But she rode on unhurt, meditating how to secure Upstill when she got him to Wyfern, whither she doubted not he would follow her. Her difficulties were not yet past, however, for just as she reached her own ground, she was once again met by the order to stand.
This time it came in a voice which, notwithstanding the anxiety it brought with it, was almost as welcome as well known, and yet made her tremble for the first time that night: it was the voice of Richard Heywood. Dick also seemed to know it, for he stood without a hint from his mistress, while, through the last hedge that parted her from the little yet remaining of the property of her fathers, came the man she loved—an enemy between her and her own.
The marquis's request to be allowed to communicate with the king had been an unfortunate one. It increased suspicion of all kinds, rendered the various reports of the landing of the Irish army under lord Glamorgan more credible, roused the resolution to render all communication impossible, and led to the drawing of a cordon around the place that not a soul should pass unquestioned. The measure would indeed have been unavailing had the garrison been as able as formerly to make sallies; but ever since colonel Morgan received his reinforcement, the issuing troopers had been invariably met at but a few yards from home, and immediately driven in again by largely superior numbers. Still the cordon required a good many more men than the besieging party could well spare without too much weakening their positions, and they had therefore sought the aid of all the gentlemen of puritian politics in the vicinity, and of course that of Mr. Heywood. With the men his father sent, Richard himself offered his services, in the hope that, at the coming fall of the stronghold, he might have a chance of being useful to Dorothy. They had given the cordon a wide extension, in order that an issuing messenger might not perceive his danger until he was too far from the castle to regain it, and then by capturing him might acquire information. Hence it came that posts could be assigned to Richard and his men within such a distance of Redware as admitted of their being with their own people when off duty.
Hearing Upstill's shot, and then Dick's hoofs on the sward, Richard fortunately judged well and took the right direction. What was his astonishment and delight when, passing hurriedly through the hedge in the expectation of encountering a cavalier, he saw Dorothy mounted on Dick! What form but hers had been filling soul and brain when he was startled by the shot! And there she was before him! He felt like one who knows the moon is weaving a dream in his brain.
'Dorothy,' he murmured tremblingly, and his voice sounded to him like that of some one speaking far away. He drew nearer, as one might approach a beloved ghost, anxious not to scare her. He laid his hand on Dick's neck, half fearful of finding him but a shadow.
'Richard!' said Dorothy, looking down on him benignant as Diana upon Endymion.
Then suddenly, at her voice and the assurance of her bodily presence, a great wave from the ocean of duty broke thunderous on the shore of his consciousness.
'Dorothy, I am bound to question thee,' he said: 'whence comest thou? and whither art thou bound?'
'If I should refuse to answer thee, Richard?' returned Dorothy with a smile.
'Then must I take thee to headquarters. And bethink thee, Dorothy, how that would cut me to the heart.'
The moon shone full upon his face, and Dorothy saw the end of a great scar that came from under his hat down on to his forehead.
'Then will I answer thee, Richard,' she said, with a strange trembling in her voice. '—I come from Raglan.'
'And whither art going, Dorothy?'
'On what business?'
'Were it then so wonderful, Richard, if I should desire to be at home, seeing Wyfern is now safer than Raglan? It was for safety I went thither, thou knowest.'
'It might not be wonderful in another, Dorothy, but in thee it were truly wonderful; for now are they of Raglan thy friends, and thou art a brave woman, and lovest thy friends. I would not believe it of thee even from the mouth of thy mother. Confess—thou bearest about thee that thou wouldst not willingly show me.'
Dorothy, as if in embarrassment, drew from her pocket her handkerchief, and with it a comb, which fell on the ground.
'Prithee, Richard, pick me up my comb,' she said; then, answering his question, continued, '—No, I have nothing about me I would not show thee, Richard: wilt thou take my word for it?'
When she had spoken, she held out her hand, and receiving from him the comb, replaced it in her pocket. But a keen pang of remorse went through her heart.
'I am a man under authority,' said Richard, 'and my orders will not allow me. Besides thou knowest, Dorothy, although it involves such questions in casuistry as I cannot meet, men say thou art not bound to tell the truth to thine enemy.'
'An' thou be mine enemy, Richard, then must thou satisfy thyself,' said Dorothy, trying to speak in a tone of offence. But while she sat there looking at him, it seemed as if her heart were floating on the top of a great wave out somewhere in the moonlight. Yet the conscience-dog was awake in his kennel.
Richard stood for a moment in silent perplexity.
'Wilt thou swear to me, Dorothy,' he said at length, 'that thou hast no papers about thee, neither art the bearer of news or request or sign to any of the king's party?'
'Richard,' returned Dorothy, 'thou hast thyself taken from my words the credit: I say to thee again, satisfy thyself.'
'Dorothy, what AM I to do?' he cried.
'Thy duty, Richard,' she answered.
'My duty is to search thee,' he said.
Dorothy was silent. Her heart was beating terribly, but she would see the end of the path she had taken ere she would think of turning. And she WOULD trust Richard. Would she then have him fail of his duty? Would she have the straight-going Richard swerve? Even in the face of her maidenly fears, she would encounter anything rather than Richard should for her sake be false. But Richard would not turn aside. Neither would he shame her. He would find some way.
'Do then thy duty, Richard,' she said, and sliding from her saddle, she stood before him, one hand grasping Dick's mane.
There was no defiance in her tone. She was but submitting, assured of deliverance.
What was Richard to do? Never man was more perplexed. He dared not let her pass. He dared no more touch her than if she had been Luna herself standing there. He would not had he dared, and yet he must. She was silent, seemed to herself cruel, and began bitterly to accuse herself. She saw his hazel eyes slowly darken, then began to glitter—was it with gathering tears? The glitter grew and overflowed. The man was weeping! The tenderness of their common childhood rushed back upon her in a great wave out of the past, ran into the rising billow of present passion, and swelled it up till it towered and broke; she threw her arm round his neck and kissed him. He stood in a dumb ecstasy. Then terror lest he should think she was tempting him to brave his conscience overpowered her.
'Richard, do thy duty. Regard not me,' she cried in anguish.
Richard gave a strange laugh as he answered,
'There was a time when I had doubted the sun in heaven as soon as thy word, Dorothy. This is surely an evil time. Tell me, yea or nay, hast thou missives to the king or any of his people? Palter not with me.'
But such an appeal was what Dorothy would least willingly encounter. The necessity yet difficulty of escaping it stimulated the wits that had been overclouded by feeling. A light appeared. She broke into a real merry laugh.
'What a pair of fools we are, Richard!' she said. 'Is there never an honest woman of thy persuasion near—one who would show me no favour? Let such an one search me, and tell thee the truth.'
'Doubtless,' answered Richard, laughing very differently now at his stupidity, yet immediately committing a blunder: 'there is mother Rees!'
'What a baby thou art, Richard!' rejoined Dorothy. 'She is as good a friend of mine as of thine, and would doubtless favour the wiles of a woman.'
'True, true! Thou wast always the keener of wit, Dorothy—as becometh a woman. What say'st thou then to dame Upstill? She is even now at the farm there, whence she watches over her husband while he watches over Raglan. Will she answer thy turn?'
'She will,' replied Dorothy. 'And that she may show me no favour, here comes her husband, who shall bear a witness against me shall rouse in her all the malice of vengeance for her injured spouse, whom for his evil language, as thou shalt see, I have so silenced as neither thou nor any man can restore him to speech.'
While she spoke, Upstill, who had followed his enemy as the sole hope of deliverance, drew near, in such plight as the dignity of narrative refuses to describe.
'Upstill,' said Richard, 'what meaneth this? Wherefore hast thou left thy post? And above all, wherefore hast thou permitted this lady to pass unquestioned?'
Sounds of gurgle and strangulation, with other cognate noises, was all Upstill's response.
'Indeed, Mr. Heywood,' said Dorothy, 'he was so far from neglecting his duty and allowing me to pass unquestioned, that he insulted me grievously, averring that I consorted with malignant rogues and papists, and worse—the which drove me to punish him as thou seest.'
'Cast-down Upstill, thou hast shamed thy regiment, carrying thyself thus to a gentlewoman,' said Richard.
'Then he fired his carbine after me,' said Dorothy.
'That may have been but his duty,' returned Richard.
'And worst of all,' continued Dorothy, 'he said that had he known what I should grow to, he would never have made shoes for me when I was an infant. Think on that, master Heywood!'
'Ask the lady to pardon thee, Upstill. I can do nothing for thee,' said Richard.
Upstill would have knelt, in lack of other mode of petition strong enough to express the fervour of his desires for release, but Dorothy was content to see him punished, and would not see him degraded.
'Nay, master Upstill,' she said, 'I desire not that thou shouldst take the measure of my foot to-night. Prithee, master Heywood, wilt thou venture thy fingers in the godly man's mouth for me? Here is the key of the toy, a sucket which will pass neither teeth nor throat. I warrant thee it were no evil thing for many a married woman to possess. I will give it thee when thou marriest, master Heywood, though, good sooth, it were hardly fair to my kind!'
So saying she took a ring from her finger, raised from it a key, and directed Richard how to find its hole in the plum.
'There! Follow us now to the farm, and find thy wife, for we need her aid,' said Richard as he drew by the key the little steel instrument from Upstill's mouth, and restored him to the general body of the articulate.
Thereupon he took Dick by the bridle, and Dorothy and he walked side by side, as if they had been still boy and girl as of old—for of old it already seemed.
As they went, Richard washed both plum and ring in the dewy grass, and restored them, putting the ring upon her finger.
'With better light I will one day show thee how the thing worketh,' she said, thanking him. 'Holding it thus by the ends, thou seest, it will bear to be pressed; but remove thy finger and thumb, and straight upon a touch it shooteth its stings in all directions. And yet another day, when these troubles are over, and honest folk need no longer fight each other, I will give it thee, Richard.'
'Would that day were here, Dorothy! But what can honest people do, while St. George and St. Michael are themselves at odds?'
'Mayhap it but seemeth so, and they but dispute across the Yule-log,' said Dorothy; 'and men down here, like the dogs about the fire, take it up, and fall a-worrying each other. But the end will crown all.'
'Discrown some, I fear,' said Richard to himself.
As they reached the farm-house, it was growing light. Upstill fetched his dame from her bed in the hayloft, and Richard told her, in formal and authoritative manner, what he required of her.
'I will search her!' answered the dame from between her closed teeth.
'Mistress Vaughan,' said Richard, 'if she offer thee evil words, give her the same lesson thou gavest her husband. If all tales be true, she is not beyond the need of it.—Search her well, mistress Upstill, but show her no rudeness, for she hath the power to avenge it in a parlous manner, having gone to school to my lord Herbert of Raglan. Not the less must thou search her well, else will I look upon thee as no better than one of the malignants.'
The woman cast a glance of something very like hate, but mingled with fear, upon Dorothy.
'I like not the business, captain Heywood,' she said.
'Yet the business must be done, mistress Upstill. And hark'ee, for every paper thou findest upon her, I will give thee its weight in gold. I care not what it is. Bring it hither, and the dame's butter-scales withal.'
'I warrant thee, captain!' she returned. '—Come with me, mistress, and show what thou hast about thee. But, good sooth, I would the sun were up!'
She led the way to the rick-yard, and round towards the sunrise. It was the month of August, and several new ricks already stood facing the east, yellow, and beginning to glow like a second dawn. Between the two, mistress Upstill began her search, which she made more thorough than agreeable. Dorothy submitted without complaint.
At last, as she was giving up the quest in despair, her eyes or her fingers discovered a little opening inside the prisoner bodice, and there sure enough was a pocket, and in the pocket a slip of paper! She drew it out in triumph.
'That is nothing,' said Dorothy: 'give it me.' And with flushed face she made a snatch at it.
'Holy Mary!' cried dame Upstill, whose protestantism was of doubtful date, and thrust the paper into her own bosom.
'That paper hath nothing to do with state affairs, I protest,' expostulated Dorothy. 'I will give thee ten times its weight in gold for it.'
But mistress Upstill had other passions besides avarice, and was not greatly tempted by the offer. She took Dorothy by the arm, and said,
'An' thou come not quickly, I will cry that all the parish shall hear me.'
'I tell thee, mistress Upstill, on the oath of a Christian woman, it is but a private letter of mine own, and beareth nothing upon affairs. Prithee read a word or two, and satisfy thyself.'
'Nay, mistress, truly I will pry into no secrets that belong not to me,' said the searcher, who could read no word of writing or print either. 'This paper is no longer thine, and mine it never was. It belongeth to the high court of parliament, and goeth straight to captain Heywood—whom I will inform concerning the bribe wherewith thou didst seek to corrupt the conscience of a godly woman.'
Dorothy saw there was no help, and yielded to the grasp of the dame, who led her like a culprit, with burning cheek, back to her judge.
When Richard saw them his heart sank within him.
'What hast thou found?' he asked gruffly.
'I have found that which young mistress here would have had me cover with a bribe of ten times that your honour promised me for it,' answered the woman. 'She had it in her bosom, hid in a pocket little bigger than a crown-piece, inside her bodice.'
'Ha, mistress Dorothy! is this true?' asked Richard, turning on her a face of distress.
'It is true,' answered Dorothy, with downcast eyes—far more ashamed however, of that which had not been discovered, and which might have justified Richard's look, than of that which he now held in his hand. 'Prithee,' she added, 'do not read it till I am gone.'
'That may hardly be,' returned Richard, almost sullenly. 'Upon this paper it may depend whether thou go at all.'
'Believe me, Richard, it hath no importance,' she said, and her blushes deepened. 'I would thou wouldst believe me.'
But as she said it, her conscience smote her.
Richard returned no answer, neither did he open the paper, but stood with his eyes fixed on the ground.
Dorothy meantime strove to quiet her conscience, saying to herself: 'It matters not; I must marry him one day—an' he will now have me. Hath not the woman told him where the silly paper was hid? And when I am married to him, then will I tell him all, and doubtless he will forgive me—Nay, nay, I must tell him first, for he might not then wish to have me. Lord! Lord! what a time of lying it is! Sure for myself I am no better than one of the wicked!'
But now Richard, slowly, reluctantly, with eyes averted, opened the paper, stood for an instant motionless, then suddenly raised it, and looked at it. His face changed at once from midnight to morning, and the sunrise was red. He put the paper to his lips, and thrust it inside his doublet. It was his own letter to her by Marquis! She had not thought to remove it from the place where she had carried it ever since receiving it.
'And now, master Heywood, I may go where I will?' said Dorothy, venturing a half-roguish, but wholly shamefaced glance at him.
But Dame Upstill was looking on, and Richard therefore brought as much of the midnight as would obey orders, back over his countenance as he answered:
'Nay, mistress. An' we had found aught upon thee of greater consequence it might have made a question. But this hardly accounts for thy mission. Doubtless thou bearest thy message in thy mind.'
'What! thou wilt not let me go to Wyfern, to my own house, master Heywood?' said Dorothy in a tone of disappointment, for her heart now at length began to fail her.
'Not until Raglan is ours,' answered Richard. 'Then shalt thou go where thou wilt. And go where thou wilt, there will I follow thee, Dorothy.'
From the last clause of this speech he diverted mistress Upstill's attention by throwing her a gold noble, an indignity which the woman rightly resented—but stooped for the money!
'Go tell thy husband that I wait him here,' he said.
'Thou shalt follow me nowhither,' said Dorothy, angrily. 'Wherefore should not I go to Wyfern and there abide? Thou canst there watch her whom thou trustest not.'
'Who can tell what manner of person might not creep to Wyfern, to whom there might messages be given, or whom thou mightest send, credenced by secret word or sign?'
'Whither, then, am I to go?' asked Dorothy, with dignity.
'Alas, Dorothy!' answered Richard, 'there is no help: I must take thee to Raglan. But comfort thyself—soon shalt thou go where thou wilt.'
Dorothy marvelled at her own resignation the while she rode with Richard back to the castle. Her scheme was a failure, but through no fault, and she could bear anything with composure except blame.
A word from Richard to colonel Morgan was sufficient. A messenger with a flag of truce was sent instantly to the castle, and the firing on both sides ceased. The messenger returned, the gate was opened, and Dorothy re-entered, defeated, but bringing her secrets back with her.
'Tit for tat,' said the marquis when she had recounted her adventures. 'Thou and the roundhead are well matched. There is no avoiding of it, cousin! It is your fate, as clear as if your two horoscopes had run into one. Mind thee, hearts are older than crowns, and love outlives all but leasing.'
'All but leasing!' repeated Dorothy to herself, and the BUT was bitter.
Scudamore was now much better, partly from the influence of reviving hopes with regard to Dorothy, for his disposition was such that he deceived himself in the direction of what he counted advantage; not like Heywood, who was ever ready to believe what in matters personal told against him. Tom Fool had just been boasting of his exploit in escaping from Raglan, and expressing his conviction that Dorothy, whom he had valiantly protected, was safe at Wyfern, and Rowland was in consequence dressing as fast as he could to pay her a visit, when Tom caught sight of Richard riding towards the cottage, and jumping up, ran into the chimney corner beyond his mother, who was busy with Scudamore's breakfast. She looked from the window, and spied the cause of his terror.
'Silly Tom!' she said, for she still treated him like a child, notwithstanding her boastful belief in his high position and merits, 'he will not harm thee. There never was hurt in a Heywood.'
'Treason, flat treason, witch!' cried the voice of Scudamore from the closet.
'Thee of all men, sir Rowland, has no cause to say so,' returned mistress Rees. 'But come and break thy fast while he talks to thee, and save the precious time which runneth so fast away.'
'I might as well be in my grave for any value it hath to me!' said Rowland, who was for the moment in a bad mood. His hope and his faith were ever ready to fall out, and a twinge in his shoulder was enough to set them jarring.
'Here comes master Hey wood, anyhow,' said the old woman, as Richard, leaving Lady at the gate, came striding up the walk in his great brown boots; 'and I pray you, sir Rowland, to let by-gones be by-gones, for my sake if not for your own, lest thou bring the vengeance of general Fairfax upon my poor house.'
'Fairfax!' cried Scudamore; 'is that villain come hither?'
'Sir Thomas Fairfax arrived two days agone, answered mistress Rees. 'Alas, it is but too sure a sign that for Raglan the end is near!'
'Good morrow, mother Rees,' said Richard, looking in at the door, radiant as an Apollo. The same moment out came Scudamore from the closet, pale as a dying moon.
'I want my horse, Heywood!' he cried, deigning no preliminaries.
'Thy horse is at Redware, Scudamore; I carry him not in my pocket. I saw him yesterday; his flesh hath swallowed a good many of his bones since I looked on him last. What wouldst thou with him?'
'What is that to thee? Let me have him.'
'Softly, sir Rowland! It is true I promised thee thy liberty, but liberty doth not necessarily include a horse.'
'Thou wast never better than a shifting fanatic!' cried sir Rowland.
'An' I served thee as befitted, thou shouldst never see thy horse again,' returned Richard. 'Yet I promise thee that so soon as Raglan hath fallen, he shall again be thine. Nay, I care not. Tell me whither thou goest, and—Ha! art thou there?' he cried, interrupting himself as he caught sight of Tom in the chimney corner; and pausing, he stood silent for a moment. '—Wouldst like to hear, thou rascal,' he resumed presently, 'that mistress Dorothy Vaughan got safe to Wyfern this morning?'
'God be praised!' said Tom Fool.
'But thou shalt not hear it. I will tell thee better if less welcome news—that I come from conducting her back to Raglan in safety, and have seen its gates close upon her. Thou shalt have thy horse, sir Rowland, an' thou can wait for him an hour; but for thy ride to Wyfern, that, thou seest, would not avail thee. Thy cousin rode by here this morning, it is true, but, as I say, she is now within Raglan walls, whence she will not issue again until the soldiers of the parliament enter. It is no treason to tell thee that general Fairfax is about to send his final summons ere he storm the rampart.'
'Then mayst thou keep the horse, for I will back to Raglan on foot,' said Scudamore.
'Nay, that wilt thou not, for nought greatly larger than a mouse can any more pass through the lines. Dost think because I sent back thy cousin Dorothy, lest she should work mischief outside the walls, I will therefore send thee back to work mischief within them?'
'And thou art the man who professeth to love mistress Dorothy!' cried Scudamore with contempt.
'Hark thee, sir Rowland, and for thy good I will tell thee more. It is but just that as I told thee my doubts, whence thou didst draw hope, I should now tell thee my hopes, whence thou mayst do well to draw a little doubt.'
'Thou art a mean and treacherous villain!' cried Scudamore.
'Thou art to blame in speaking that thou dost not believe, sir Rowland. But wilt thou have thy horse or no?'
'No; I will remain where I am until I hear the worst.'
'Or come home with me, where thou wilt hear it yet sooner. Thou shalt taste a roundhead's hospitality.'
'I scorn thee and thy false friendship,' cried Rowland, and turning again into the closet, he bolted the door.
That same morning a great iron ball struck the marble horse on his proud head, and flung it in fragments over the court. From his neck the water bubbled up bright and clear, like the life-blood of the wounded whiteness.
'Poor Molly!' said the marquis, when he looked from his study-window—then smiled at his pity.
Lord Charles entered: a messenger had come from general Fairfax, demanding a surrender in the name of the parliament.
'If they had but gone on a little longer, Charles, they might have saved us the trouble,' said his lordship, 'for there would have been nothing left to surrender.—But I will consider the proposal,' he added. 'Pray tell sir Thomas that whatever I do, I look first to have it approved of the king.'
But there was no longer the shadow of a question as to submission. All that was left was but the arrangement of conditions. The marquis was aware that captain Hooper's trenches were rapidly approaching the rampart; that six great mortars for throwing shells had been got into position; and that resistance would be the merest folly.
Various meetings, therefore, of commissioners appointed on both sides for the settling of the terms of submission took place; and at last, on the fifteenth of August, they were finally arranged, and the surrender fixed for the seventeenth.
The interval was a sad time. All day long tears were flowing, the ladies doing their best to conceal, the servants to display them. Every one was busy gathering together what personal effects might be carried away. It was especially a sad time for lord Glamorgan's children, for they were old enough not merely to love the place, but to know that they loved it; and the thought that the sacred things of their home were about to pass into other hands, roused in them wrath and indignation as well as grief; for the sense of property is, in the minds of children who have been born and brought up in the midst of family possessions, perhaps stronger than in the minds of their elders.
As the sun was going down on the evening of the sixteenth, Dorothy, who had been helping now one and now another of the ladies all day long, having, indeed, little of her own to demand her attention, Dick and Marquis being almost her sole valuables, came from the keep, and was crossing the fountain court to her old room on its western side. Every one was busy indoors, and the place appeared deserted. There was a stillness in the air that SOUNDED awful. For so many weeks it had been shattered with roar upon roar, and now the guns had ceased to bellow, leaving a sense of vacancy and doubt, an oppression of silence. The hum that came from the lines outside seemed but to enhance the stillness within. But the sunlight lived on sweet and calm, as if all was well. It seemed to promise that wrath and ruin would pass, and leave no lasting desolation behind them. Yet she could not help heaving a great sigh, and the tears came streaming down her cheeks.
'Tut, tut, cousin! Wipe thine eyes. The dreary old house is not worth such bright tears.'
Dorothy turned, and saw the marquis seated on the edge of the marble basin, under the headless horse, whose blood seemed still to well from his truncated form. She saw also that, although his words were cheerful, his lip quivered. It was some little time before she could compose herself sufficiently to speak.
'I marvel your lordship is so calm,' she said.
'Come hither, Dorothy,' he returned kindly, 'and sit thee down by my side. Thou wast right good to my little Molly. Thou hast been a ministering angel to Raglan and its people. I did thee wrong, and thou forgavest me with a whole heart. Thou hast returned me good for evil tenfold, and for all this I love thee; and therefore will I now tell thee what maketh me quiet at heart, for I am as thou seest me, and my heart is as my countenance. I have lived my life, and have now but to die my death. I am thankful to have lived, and I hope to live hereafter. Goodness and mercy went before my birth, and goodness and mercy will follow my death. For the ills of this life, if there was no silence there would be no music. Ignorance is a spur to knowledge. Darkness is a pavilion for the Almighty, a foil to the painter to make his shadows. So are afflictions good for our instruction, and adversities for our amendment. As for the article of death, shall I shun to meet what she who lay in my bosom hath passed through? And look you, fair damsel, thou whose body is sweet, and comely to behold—wherefore should I not rejoice to depart? When I see my house lying in ruins about me, I look down upon this ugly overgrown body of mine, the very foundations whereof crumble from beneath me, and I thank God it is but a tent, and no enduring house even like this house of Raglan, which yet will ere long be a dwelling of owls and foxes. Very soon will Death pull out the tent-pins and let me fly, and therefore am I glad; for, fair damsel Dorothy, although it may be hard for thee, beholding me as I am, to comprehend it, I like to be old and ugly as little as wouldst thou, and my heart, I verily think, is little, older than thine own. One day, please God, I shall yet be clothed upon with a house that is from heaven, nor shall I hobble with gouty feet over the golden pavement—if so be that my sins overpass not mercy. Pray for me, Dorothy, my daughter, for my end is nigh, that I find at length the bosom of father Abraham.'
As he ended, a slow flower of music bloomed out upon the silence from under the fingers of the blind youth hid in the stony shell of the chapel; and, doubtful at first, its fragrance filled at length the whole sunset air. It was the music of a Nunc dimittis of Palestrina. Dorothy knelt and kissed the old man's hand, then rose and went weeping to her chamber, leaving him still seated by the broken yet flowing fountain.
Of all who prepared to depart, Caspar Kaltoff was the busiest. What best things of his master's he could carry with him, he took, but a multitude he left to a more convenient opportunity, in the hope of which, alone and unaided, he sunk his precious cabinet, and a chest besides, filled with curious inventions and favourite tools, in the secret shaft. But the most valued of all, the fire-engine, he could not take and would not leave. He stopped the fountain of the white horse, once more set the water-commanding slave to work, and filled the cistern until he heard it roar in the waste-pipe. Then he extinguished the fire and let the furnace cool, and when Dorothy entered the workshop for the last time to take her mournful leave of the place, there lay the bones of the mighty creature scattered over the floor—here a pipe, there a valve, here a piston and there a cock. Nothing stood but the furnace and the great pipes that ran up the grooves in the wall outside, between which there was scarce a hint of connection to be perceived.
'Mistress Dorothy,' he said, 'my master is the greatest man in Christendom, but the world is stupid, and will forget him because it never knew him.'
Amongst her treasures, chief of them all, even before the gifts of her husband, lady Glamorgan carried with her the last garments, from sleeve-ribbons to dainty little shoes and rosettes, worn by her Molly.
Dr. Bayly carried a bag of papers and sermons, with his doctor's gown and hood, and his best suit of clothes.
The marquis with his own hand put up his Vulgate, and left his Gower behind. Ever since the painful proofs of its failure with the king, he had felt if not a dislike yet a painful repugnance to the volume, and had never opened it.
It was a troubled night, the last they spent in the castle. Not many slept. But the lord of it had long understood that what could cease to be his never had been his, and slept like a child. Dr. Bayly, who in his loving anxiety had managed to get hold of his key, crept in at midnight, and found him fast asleep; and again in the morning, and found him not yet waked.
When breakfast was over, proclamation was made that at nine o'clock there would be prayers in the chapel for the last time, and that the marquis desired all to be present. When the hour arrived, he entered leaning on the arm of Dr. Bayly. Dorothy followed with the ladies of the family. Young Delaware was in his place, and 'with organ voice and voice of psalms,' praise and prayer arose for the last time from the house of Raglan. All were in tears save the marquis. A smile played about his lips, and he looked like a child giving away his toy. Sir Toby Mathews tried hard to speak to his flock, but broke down, and had to yield the attempt. When the services were over, the marquis rose and said,
'Master Delaware, once more play thy Nunc dimittis, and so meet me every one in the hall.'
Thither the marquis himself walked first, and on the dais seated himself in his chair of state, with his family and friends around him, and the officers of his household waiting. On one side of him stood sir Ralph Blackstone, with a bag of gold, and on the other Mr. George Wharton, the clerk of the accounts, with a larger bag of silver. Then each of the servants, in turn according to position, was called before him by name, and with his own hand the marquis, dipping now into one bag, now into the other, gave to each a small present in view of coming necessities: they had the day before received their wages. To each he wished a kind farewell, to some adding a word of advice or comfort. He then handed the bags to the governor, and told him to distribute their contents according to his judgment amongst the garrison. Last, he ordered every one to be ready to follow him from the gates the moment the clock struck the hour of noon, and went to his study.
When lord Charles came to tell him that all were marshalled, and everything ready for departure, he found him kneeling, but he rose with more of agility than he had for a long time been able to show, and followed his son.
With slow pace he crossed, the courts and the hall, which were silent as the grave, bending his steps to the main entrance. The portcullises were up, the gates wide open, the drawbridge down—all silent and deserted. The white stair was also vacant, and in solemn silence the marquis descended, leaning on lord Charles. But beneath was a gallant show, yet, for all its colour and shine, mournful enough. At the foot of the stair stood four carriages, each with six horses in glittering harness, and behind them all the officers of the household and all the guests on horseback. Next came the garrison-music of drums and trumpets, then the men-servants on foot, and the women, some on foot and some in waggons with the children. After them came the waggons loaded with such things as they were permitted to carry with them. These were followed by the principal officers of the garrison, colonels and captains, accompanied by their troops, consisting mostly of squires and gentlemen, to the number of about two hundred, on horseback. Last came the foot- soldiers of the garrison and those who had lost their horses, in all some five hundred, stretching far away, round towards the citadel, beyond the sight. Colours were flying and weapons glittering, and though all was silence except for the pawing of a horse here and there, and the ringing of chain-bridles, everything looked like an ordered march of triumph rather than a surrender and evacuation. Still there was a something in the silence that seemed to tell the true tale.
In the front carriage were lady Glamorgan and the ladies Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary. In the carriages behind came their gentlewomen and their lady visitors, with their immediate attendants. Dorothy, mounted on Dick, with Marquis's chain fastened to the pommel of her saddle, followed the last carriage. Beside her rode young Delaware, and his father, the master of the horse.
'Open the white gate,' said the marquis from the stair as he descended.
The great clock of the castle struck, and with the last stroke of the twelve came the blast of a trumpet from below.
'Answer, trumpets,' cried the marquis.
The governor repeated the order, and a tremendous blare followed, in which the drums unbidden joined.
This was the signal to the warders at the brick gate, and they flung its two leaves wide apart.
Another blast from below, and in marched on horseback general Fairfax with his staff, followed by three hundred foot. The latter drew up on each side of the brick gate, while the general and his staff went on to the marble gate.
As soon as they appeared within it, the marquis, who had halted in the midst of his descent, came down to meet them. He bowed to the general, and said:—
'I would it were as a guest I received you, sir Thomas, for then might I honestly bid you welcome. But that I cannot do when you so shake my poor nest that you shake the birds out of it. But though I cannot bid you welcome, I will notwithstanding heartily bid you farewell, sir Thomas, and I thank you for your courtesy to me and mine. This nut of Raglan was, I believe, the last you had to crack. Amen. God's will be done.'
The general returned civil answer, and the marquis, again bowing graciously, advanced to the foremost carriage, the door of which was held for him by sir Ralph, the steward, while lord Charles stood by to assist his father. The moment he had entered, the two gentlemen mounted the horses held for them one on each side of the carriage, lord Charles gave the word, the trumpets once more uttered a loud cry, the marquis's moved, the rest followed, and in slow procession lord Worcester and his people, passing through the gates, left for ever the house of Raglan, and in his heart Henry Somerset bade the world good-bye.
General Fairfax and his company ascended the great white stair, crossed the moat on the drawbridge, passed under the double portcullis and through the gates, and so entered the deserted court. All was frightfully still; the windows stared like dead eyes—the very houses seemed dead; nothing alive was visible except one scared cat: the cannonade had driven away all the pigeons, and a tile had killed the patriarch of the peacocks. They entered the great hall and admired its goodly proportions, while not a few expressions of regret at the destruction of such a magnificent house escaped them; then as soldiers they proceeded to examine the ruins, and distinguish the results wrought by the different batteries.
'Gentlemen,' said sir Thomas, 'had the walls been as strong as the towers, we should have been still sitting in yonder field.'
In the meantime the army commissioner, Thomas Herbert by name, was busy securing with the help of his men the papers and valuables, and making an inventory of such goods as he considered worth removing for sale in London.
Having satisfied his curiosity with a survey of the place, and left a guard to receive orders from Mr. Herbert, the general mounted again and rode to Chepstow, where there was a grand entertainment that evening to celebrate the fall of Raglan, the last of the strongholds of the king.
R. I. P.
As the sad, shining company of the marquis went from the gates, running at full speed to overtake the rear ere it should have passed through, came Caspar, and mounting a horse led for him, rode near Dorothy.
As they left the brick gate, a horseman joined the procession from outside. Pale and worn, with bent head and sad face, sir Rowland Scudamore fell into the ranks amongst his friends of the garrison, and with them rode in silence.
Many a look did Dorothy cast around her as she rode, but only once, on the crest of a grassy hill that rose abrupt from the highway a few miles from Raglan, did she catch sight of Richard mounted on Lady. All her life after, as often as trouble came, that figure rose against the sky of her inner world, and was to her a type of the sleepless watch of the universe.
Soon, from flank and rear, in this direction and that, each to some haven or home, servants and soldiers began to drop away. Before they reached the forest of Dean, the cortege had greatly dwindled, for many belonged to villages, small towns, and farms on the way, and their orders had been to go home and wait better times. When he reached London, except the chief officers of his household, one of his own pages, and some of his daughters' gentlewomen and menials, the marquis had few attendants left beyond Caspar and Shafto.
It was a long and weary journey for him, occupying a whole week. One evening he was so tired and unwell that they were forced to put up with what quarters they could find in a very poor little town. Early in the morning, however, they were up and away. When they had gone some ten miles—lord Charles was riding beside the coach and chatting with his sisters—a remark was made not complimentary to their accommodation of the previous night.
'True,' said lord Charles; 'it was a very scurvy inn, but we must not forget that the reckoning was cheap.'
While he spoke, one of the household had approached the marquis, who sat on the other side of the carriage, and said something in a low voice.
'Say'st thou so!' returned his lordship. '—Hear'st thou, my lord Charles? Thou talkest of a cheap reckoning! I never paid so dear for a lodging in my life. Here is master Wharton hath just told me that they have left a thousand pound under a bench in the chamber we broke our fast in. Truly they are overpaid for what we had!'
'We have sent back after it, my lord,' said Mr. Wharton.
'You will never see the money again,' said lord Charles.
'Oh, peace!' said the marquis. 'If they will not be known of the money, you shall see it in a brave inn in a short time.'
Nothing more was said on the matter, and the marquis seemed to have forgotten it. Late at night, at their next halting-place, the messenger rejoined them, having met a drawer, mounted on a sorry horse, riding after them with the bag, but little prospect of overtaking them before they reached London.
'I thought our hostess seemed an honest woman!' said lady Anne.
'It is a poor town, indeed, lord Charles, but you see it is an honest one nevertheless!' said Dr. Bayly.
'It may be the town never saw so much money before,' said the marquis, 'and knew not what to make of it.'
'Your lordship is severe,' said the doctor.
'Only with my tongue, good doctor, only with my tongue,' said the marquis, laughing.
When they reached London, lord Worcester found himself, to his surprise, in custody of the Black Rod, who, as now for some three years Worcester House in the Strand had been used for a state-paper office, conducted him to a house in Covent Garden, where he lodged him in tolerable comfort and mild imprisonment. Parliament was still jealous of Glamorgan and his Irish doings—as indeed well they might be.
But his confinement was by no means so great a trial to him as his indignant friends supposed; for, long willing to depart, he had at length grown a little tired of life, feeling more and more the oppression of growing years, of gout varied with asthma, and, worst of all to the once active man, of his still increasing corpulence, which last indeed, by his own confession, he found it hard to endure with patience. The journey had been too much for him, and he began to lead the life of an invalid.
There being no sufficient accommodation in the house for his family, they were forced to content themselves with lodging as near him as they could, and in these circumstances Dorothy, notwithstanding lady Glamorgan's entreaties, would have returned home. But the marquis was very unwilling she should leave him, and for his sake she concluded to remain.
'I am not long for this world, Dorothy,' he said. 'Stay with me and see the last of the old man. The wind of death has got inside my tent, and will soon blow it out of sight.'
Lady Glamorgan's intention from the first had been to go to Ireland to her husband as soon as she could get leave. This however she did not obtain until the first of October—five weeks after her arrival in London. She would gladly have carried Dorothy with her, but she would not leave the marquis, who was now failing visibly. As her ladyship's pass included thirty of her servants, Dorothy felt at ease about her personal comforts, and her husband would soon supply all else.
The ladies Elizabeth and Mary were in the same house with their father; lady Anne and lord Charles were in the house of a relative at no great distance, and visited him every day. Sir Toby Mathews also, and Dr. Bayly, had found shelter in the neighbourhood, so that his lordship never lacked company. But he was going to have other company soon.
Gently he sank towards the grave, and as he sank his soul seemed to retire farther within, vanishing on the way to the deeper life. They thought he lost interest in life: it was but that the brightness drew him from the glimmer. Every now and then, however, he would come forth from his inner chamber, and standing in his open door look out upon his friends, and tell them what he had seen.
The winter drew on. But first November came, with its 'saint Martin's summer, halcyon days' and the old man revived a little. He stood one morning and looked from his window on the garden behind the house, all glittering with molten hoar-frost. A few leaves, golden with death, hung here and there on a naked bough. A kind of sigh was in the air. The very light had in it as much of resignation as hope. He had forgotten that Dorothy was in the room.
There was Celtic blood in the marquis, and at times his thoughts took shapes that hardly belonged to the Teuton.
'Cometh my youth hither again?' he murmured. 'As a stranger he cometh whom yet I know so well! Or is it but the face of my old age lighted with a parting smile? Either way, change cometh, and change will be good. Domine, in manus tuas.'
He turned and saw Dorothy.
'Child!' he exclaimed, 'good sooth, I had forgotten thee. Yet I spake no treason. Dorothy, I hold not with them who say that from dust we came and to dust we return. Neither my blessed countess, whom thou knewest not, nor my darling Molly, whom thou knewest so well, were born of the dust. From some better where they came—for, say, can dust beget love? Whither they have gone I follow, in the hope that their prayers have smoothed for me the way. Lord, lay not my sins to my charge. Mary, mother, hear my wife who prayeth for me. Hear my little Molly: she was ever dainty and good.'
Again he had forgotten Dorothy, and was with his dead.
But St. Martin's summer is only the lightening of the year that comes before its death; and November, although it brought not then such evil fogs as it now afflicts London withal, yet brought with it November weather—one of God's hounds, with which he hunts us out of the hollows of our own moods, and teaches us to sit on the arch of the cellar. But though the marquis fought hard and kept it out of his mind, it got into his troubled body. The gout left his feet; he coughed distressingly, breathed with difficulty, and at length betook himself to bed.
For some time his interest in politics, save in so much as affected the king's person, had been gradually ceasing.
'I trust I have done my part,' he said once to the two clergymen, as they sat by his bedside. 'Yet I know not. I fear me I clove too fast to my money. Yet would I have parted with all, even to my shirt, to make my lord the king a good catholic. But it may be, sir Toby, we make more of such matters down here than they do in the high countries; and in that case, good doctor, ye are to blame who broke away from your mother, even were she not perfect.'
He crossed himself and murmured a prayer, in fear lest he had been guilty of laxity of judgment. But neither clergyman said a word.
'But tell me, gentlemen, ye who understand sacred things,' he resumed, 'can a man be far out of the way so long as, with full heart and no withholding, he saith, Fiat voluntas tua—and that after no private interpretation, but Sicut in caelo?'
'That, my lord, I also strive to say with all my heart,' said Dr. Bayly.
'Mayhap, doctor,' returned the marquis, 'when thou art as old as I, and hast learned to see how good it is, how all-good, thou wilt be able to say it without any striving. There was a time in my life when I too had to strive, for the thought that he was a hard master would come, and come again. But now that I have learned a little more of what he meaneth with me, what he would have of me and do for me, how he would make me pure of sin, clean from the very bottom of my heart to the crest of my soul, from spur to plume a stainless knight, verily I am no more content to SUBMIT to his will: I cry in the night time, "Thy will be done: Lord, let it be done, I entreat thee;" and in the daytime I cry, "Thy kingdom come: Lord, let it come, I pray thee."'
He lay silent. The clergymen left the room, and lord Charles came in, and sat down by his bedside. The marquis looked at him, and said kindly,
'Ah, son Charles! art thou there?'
'I came to tell you, my lord, the rumour goeth that the king hath consented to establish the presbyterian heresy in the land,' said lord Charles.
'Believe it not, my lord. A man ought not to believe ill of another so long as there is space enough for a doubt to perch. Yet, alas! what shall be hoped of him who will yield nothing to prayers, and everything to compulsion? Had his majesty been a true prince, he had ere now set his foot on the neck of his enemies, or else ascended to heaven a blessed martyr. "Protestant," say'st thou? In good sooth, I force not. What is he now but a football for the sectaries to kick to and fro! But I shall pray for him whither I go, if indeed the prayers of such as I may be heard in that country. God be with his majesty. I can do no more. There are other realms than England, and I go to another king. Yet will I pray for England, for she is dear to my heart. God grant the evil time may pass, arid Englishmen yet again grow humble and obedient!'
He closed his eyes, and his face grew so still that, notwithstanding the labour of his breathing, he would have seemed asleep, but that his lips moved a little now and then, giving a flutter of shape to the eternal prayer within him.
Again he opened his eyes, and saw sir Toby, who had re-entered silent as a ghost, and said, feebly holding out his hand, 'I am dying, sir Toby: where will this swollen hulk of mine be hid?'
'That, my lord,' returned sir Toby, 'hath been already spoken of in parliament, and it hath been wrung from them, heretics and fanatics as they are, that your lordship's mortal remains shall lie in Windsor castle, by the side of earl William, the first of the earls of Worcester.'
'God bless us all!' cried the marquis, almost merrily, for he was pleased, and with the pleasure the old humour came back for a moment: 'they will give me a better castle when I am dead than they took from me when I was alive!'
'Yet is it a small matter to him who inherits such a house as awaiteth my lord—domum non manufactam, in caelis aeternam,' said sir Toby.
'I thank thee, sir Toby, for recalling me. Truly for a moment I was uplifted somewhat. That I should still play the fool, and the old fool, in the very face of Death! But, thank God, at thy word the world hath again dwindled, and my heavenly house drawn the nearer. Domine, nunc dimittis. Let me, so soon as you judge fit, sir Toby, have the consolations of the dying.'
When the last rites, wherein the church yields all hold save that of prayer, had been administered, and his daughters with Dorothy and lord Charles stood around his bed,
'Now have I taken my staff to be gone,' he said cheerfully, 'like a peasant who hath visited his friends, and will now return, and they will see him as far upon the road as they may. I tremble a little, but I bethink me of him that made me and died for me, and now calleth me, and my heart revives within me.'
Then he seemed to fall half asleep, and his soul went wandering in dreams that were not all of sleep—just as it had been with little Molly when her end drew near.
'How sweet is the grass for me to lie in, and for thee to eat! Eat, eat, old Ploughman.'
It was a favourite horse of which he dreamed—one which in old days he had named after Piers Ploughman, the Vision concerning whom, notwithstanding its severity on catholic abuses, he had at one time read much.
After a pause he went on—
'Alack, they have shot off his head! What shall I do without my Ploughman—my body groweth so large and heavy!—Hark, I hear Molly! "Spout, horse," she crieth. See, it is his life-blood he spouteth! O Lord, what shall I do, for I am heavy, and my body keepeth down my soul. Hark! Who calleth me? It is Molly! No, no! it is the Master. Lord, I cannot rise and come to thee. Here have I lain for ages, and my spirit groaneth. Reach forth thy hand, Lord, and raise me. Thanks, Lord, thanks!'
And with the word he was neither old man nor marquis any more.
The parliament, with wondrous liberality, voted five hundred pounds for his funeral, and Dr. Bayly tells us that he laid him in his grave with his own hands. But let us trust rather that Anne and Molly received him into their arms, and soon made him forget all about castles and chapels and dukedoms and ungrateful princes, in the everlasting youth of the heavenly kingdom, whose life is the presence of the Father, whose air to breathe is love, and whose corn and wine are truth and graciousness.
There surely, and nowhere else as surely, can the prayer be for a man fulfilled: Requiescat in Pace.
RICHARD AND CASPAR.
I have now to recount a small adventure, to which it would scarcely be worth while to afford a place, were it not for the important fact that it opened to Richard a great window not only in Dorothy's history while she lived at the castle, but, which was of far more importance, into the character moulding that history—for character has far more to do with determining history than history has to do with determining character. Without the interview whose circumstances I am about to narrate, Richard could not so soon at least have done justice to a character which had been, if not keeping parallel pace with his own, yet advancing rapidly in the same direction.
The decree of the parliament had gone forth that Raglan should be destroyed. The same hour in which the sad news reached Caspar, he set out to secure, if possible, the treasures he had concealed. He had little fear of their being discovered, but great fear of their being rendered inaccessible from the workshop.
Having reached the neighbourhood, he hired a horse and cart from a small farmer whom he knew, and, taking the precaution to put on the dress of a countryman, got on it and drove to the castle. The huge oaken leaves of the brick gate, bound and riveted with iron, lay torn from their hinges, and he entered unquestioned. But instead of the solitude of desertion, for which he had hoped, he found the whole place swarming with country people, men and women, most of them with baskets and sacks, while the space between the outer defences and the moat of the castle itself was filled with country vehicles of every description, from a wheelbarrow to a great waggon.
When the most valuable of the effects found in the place had been carried to London, a sale for the large remainder had been held on the spot, at which not a few of the neighbouring families had been purchasers. After all, however, a great many things were left unhid for, which were not, from a money point of view—the sole one taken—worth removing; and now the peasantry were, like jackals, admitted to pick the bones of the huge carcase, ere the skeleton itself should be torn asunder. Nor could the invading populace have been disappointed of their expectations: they found numberless things of immense value in their eyes, and great use in their meagre economy. For years, I might say centuries after, pieces of furniture and panels of carved oak, bits of tapestry, antique sconces and candlesticks of brass, ancient horse-furniture, and a thousand things besides of endless interest, were to be found scattered in farm-houses and cottages all over Monmouth and neighbouring shires. I should not wonder if, even now in the third century, and after the rage for the collection of such things has so long prevailed, there were some of them still to be discovered in places where no one has thought of looking.
When Caspar saw what was going on, he judged it prudent to turn and drive his cart into the quarry, and having there secured it, went back and entered the castle. There was a great divided torrent of humanity rushing and lingering through the various lines of rooms, here meeting in whirlpools, there parted into mere rivulets—man and woman searching for whatever might look valuable in his or her eyes. Things that nowadays would fetch their weight in silver, some of them even in gold, were passed by as worthless, or popped into a bag to be carried home for the amusement of cottage children. The noises of hobnailed shoes on the oak floors, and of unrestrained clownish and churlish voices everywhere, were tremendous. Here a fat cottager might be seen standing on a lovely quilt of patchwork brocade, pulling down, rough in her cupidity, curtains on which the new-born and dying eyes of generations of nobles had rested, henceforth to adorn a miserable cottage, while her husband was taking down the bed, larger perhaps, than the room itself in which they would in vain try to set it up, or cruelly forcing a lid, which, having a spring lock, had closed again after the carved chest had been already rifled by the commissioner or his men. The kitchen was full of squabbling women, and the whole place in the agonies of dissolution. But there was a small group of persons, fortuitously met, but linked together by an old painful memory of the place itself, strongly revived by their present meeting, to whom a fanatical hatred of everything catholic, coupled with a profound sense of personal injury, had prevailed over avarice, causing them to leave the part of acquisition to their wives, and aspire to that of pure destruction. It was the same company, almost to a man, whose misadventures in their search of Raglan for arms, under the misguidance of Tom Fool, I have related in an early chapter. In their hearts they nursed a half-persuasion that Raglan had fallen because of their wrongs within its walls, and the shame that there had been heaped upon the godly.
These men, happening to meet, as I say, in the midst of the surrounding tumult, had fallen into a conversation chiefly occupied with reminiscences of that awful experience, whose terrors now looked like an evil dream, and, in a place thus crowded with men and women, buzzing with voices, and resounding with feet, as little likely to return as a vanished thundercloud. In the course of their conversation, therefore, they grew valiant; grew conscious next of a high calling, and resolved therewith to take to themselves the honour of giving the first sweep of the besom of destruction to Raglan Castle. Satisfying themselves first therefore that their wives were doing their duty for their household,—mistress Upstill was as good as two men at least at appropriation,—they set out, Cast-down taking the lead, master Sycamore, John Croning, and the rest following, armed with crowbars, for the top of the great tower, ambitious to commence the overthrow by attacking the very summit, the high places of wickedness, the crown of pride; and after some devious wandering, at length found the way to the stair.
When Caspar Kaltoff entered the castle, he made straight for the keep, and to his delight found no one in the lower part. To make certain however that he was alone in the place, ere he secured himself from intrusion, he ran up the stair, gave a glance at the doors as he ran, and reached the top just as Upstill in fierce discrowning pride was heaving the first capstone from between two battlements. Casper was close by the cocks; instantly he turned one, and as the dislodged stone struck the water of the moat, a sudden hollow roaring invaded their ears, and while they stood aghast at the well-remembered sound, and ere yet the marrow had time to freeze in their stupid bones, the very moat itself into which they had cast the insulted stone, storming and spouting, seemed to come rushing up to avenge it upon them were they stood. The moment he turned the cock, Casper shot half-way down the stair, but as quietly as he could, and into a little chamber in the wall, where stood two great vessels through which the pipes of the fire-engine inside had communicated with the pipes in the wall outside. There he waited until the steps which, long before he reached his refuge, he heard come thundering down the stairs after him, had passed in headlong haste, when he sprang up again to save the water for another end, and to attach the drawbridge to the sluice, so that it would raise it to its full height. Then he hurried down to the water trap under the bridge and set it, after which he could hardly help wasting a little of his precious time, lurking in a convenient corner to watch the result.
He had not to wait long. The shrieks of the yokels as they ran, and their looks of horror when they appeared, quickly gathered around them a gaping crowd to hear their tale, the more foolhardy in which, partly doubting their word, for the fountains no longer played, and partly ambitious of showing their superior courage, rushed to the Gothic bridge. Down came the drawbridge with a clang, and with it in sheer descent a torrent of water fit to sweep a regiment away, which shot along the stone bridge and dashed them from it bruised and bleeding, and half drowned with the water which in their terror and surprise found easy way into their bodies. Casper withdrew satisfied, for he now felt sure of all the time he required to get some other things he had thought of saving down into the shaft with the cabinet and chest.
Having effected this, and with much labour and difficulty, aided by rollers, got all into the quarry and then into the cart, he did not resist the temptation to go again amongst the crowd, and enjoy listening to the various remarks and conjectures and terrors to which doubtless his trick had given rise. He therefore got a great armful of trampled corn from the field above, and laid it before his patient horse, then ran round and re-entered the castle by the main gate.
He had not been in the crowd many minutes, however, when he saw indications of suspicion ripening to conviction. What had given ground for it he could not tell, but at some point he must have been seen on the other side of the tower-moat. All this time Upstill and his party had been recounting with various embellishment their adventures both former and latter, and when Kaltoff was recognised, or at least suspected in the crowd, the rumour presently arose and spread that he was either the devil himself, or an accredited agent of that potentate.
'Be it then the old Satan himself?' Caspar heard a man say anxiously to his neighbour, as he tried to get a look at his feet, which was not easy in such a press. Caspar, highly amused, and thinking such evil reputation would rather protect than injure him, showed some anxiety about his feet, and made as if he would fain keep them out of the field of observation. But thereupon he saw the faces and gestures of the younger men begin to grow threatening; evidently anger was succeeding to fear, and some of them, fired with the ambition possibly of thrashing the devil, ventured to give him a rough shove or two from behind. Neither outbreak of sulphurous flashes nor even kick of cloven hoof following, they proceeded with the game, and rapidly advanced to such extremities, expostulation in Caspar's broken English, for such in excitement it always became, seeming only to act as fresh incitement and justification, that at length he was compelled in self-defence to draw a dagger. This checked them a little, and ere audacity had had time to recover itself, a young man came shoving through the crowd, pushing them all right and left until he reached Caspar, and stood by his side. Now there was that about Richard Heywood to give him influence with a crowd: he was a strong man and a gentleman, and they drew back.
'De fools dink I was de tuyfel!' said Caspar.
Richard turned upon them with indignation.
'You Englishmen!' he cried, 'and treat a foreigner thus!'
But there was nothing about him to show that he was a roundhead, and from behind rose the cry: 'A malignant! A royalist!' and the fellows near began again to advance threateningly.
'Mr. Heywood,' said Caspar hurriedly, for he recognised his helper from the time he had seen him a prisoner, 'let us make for the hall. I know the place and can bring us both off safe.'
It was one of Richard's greatest virtues that he could place much confidence. He gave one glance at his companion, and said, 'I will do as thou sayest.'
'Follow me then, sir,' said Caspar, and turning with brandished dagger, he forced his way to the hall-door, Richard following with fists, his sole weapons, defending their rear.
There were but few in the hall, and although their enemies came raging after them, they were impeded by the crowd, so that there was time as they crossed it for Caspar to say:
'Follow me over the bridge, but, for God's sake, put your feet exactly where I put mine as we cross. You will see why in a moment after.'
'I will,' said Richard, and, delayed a little by needful care, gained the other side just as the foremost of their pursuers rushed on the bridge, and with a clang and a roar were swept from it by the descending torrent.
They lost no time in explanations. Caspar hurried Richard to the workshop, down the shaft, through the passage, and into the quarry, whence, taking no notice of his cart, he went with him to the White Horse, where Lady was waiting him.
And Richard was well rewarded for the kindness he had shown, for ere they said good bye, the German, whose heart was full of Dorothy, and understood, as indeed every one in the castle did, something of her relation to Richard, had told him all he knew about her life in the castle, and how she had been both before and during the siege a guardian angel, as the marquis himself had said, to Raglan. Nor was the story of her attempted visit to her old playfellow in the turret chamber, or the sufferings she had to endure in consequence, forgotten; and when Caspar and he parted, Richard rode home with fresh strength and light and love in his heart, and Lady shared in them all somehow, for she constantly reflected, or imaged rather, the moods of her master. As much as ever he believed Dorothy mistaken, and yet could have kneeled in reverence before her. He had himself tried to do the truth, and no one but he who tries to do the truth can perceive the grandeur of another who does the same. Alive to his own shortcomings, such a one the better understands the success of his brother or sister: there the truth takes to him shape, and he worships at her shrine. He saw more clearly than before what he had been learning ever since she had renounced him, that it is not correctness of opinion—could he be SURE that his own opinions were correct?—that constitutes rightness, but that condition of soul which, as a matter of course, causes it to move along the lines of truth and duty—the LIFE going forth in motion according to the law of light: this alone places a nature in harmony with the central Truth. It was in the doing of the will of his Father that Jesus was the son of God—yea the eternal son of the eternal Father.
Nor was this to make little of the truth intellectually considered—of the FACT of things. The greatest fact of all is that we are bound to obey the truth, and that to the full extent of our knowledge thereof, however LITTLE that may be. This obligation acknowledged and OBEYED, the road is open to all truth—and the ONLY road. The way to know is to do the known.
Then why, thought Richard with himself, should he and Dorothy be parted? Why should Dorothy imagine they should? All depended on their common magnanimity, not the magnanimity that pardons faults, but the magnanimity that recognises virtues. He who gladly kneels with one who thinks largely wide from himself, in so doing draws nearer to the Father of both than he who pours forth his soul in sympathetic torrent only in the company of those who think like himself. If a man be of the truth, then and only then is he of those who gather with the Lord.
In forms natural to the age and his individual thought, if not altogether in such as I have here put down, Richard thus fashioned his insights as he sauntered home upon Lady, his head above the clouds, and his heart higher than his head—as it ought to be once or twice a day at least. Poor indeed is any worldly success compared to a moment's breathing in divine air, above the region where the miserable word SUCCESS yet carries a meaning.
The death of the marquis took place in December, long before which time the second marquis of Worcester, ever busy in the king's affairs, and unable to show himself with safety in England, or there be useful, had gone from Ireland to Paris.
As the country was now a good deal quieter, and there was nothing to detain her in London, and much to draw her to Wyfern, Dorothy resolved to go home, and there, if possible, remain. Indeed, there was now nothing else she could well do, except visit Mr. Herbert at Llangattock. But much as she revered and loved the old man, and would have enjoyed his company, she felt now such a longing for activity, that she must go and look after her affairs. What with the words of the good marquis and her own late experiences and conflicts, Dorothy had gained much enlightenment. She had learned that well-being is a condition of inward calm, resting upon yet deeper harmonies of being, and resulting in serene activity, the prevention of which natural result reacts in perturbation and confusion of thought and feeling. But for many sakes the thought of home was in itself precious and enticing to her. It was full of clear memories of her mother, and vague memories of her father, not to mention memories of the childhood Richard and she had spent together, from which the late mists had begun to rise, and reveal them sparkling with dew and sunshine. As soon, therefore, as marquis Henry had gone to countess Anne, Dorothy took her leave, with many kind words between, of the ladies Elizabeth, Anne, and Mary, and set out, attended by her old bailiff and some of the men of her small tenantry, who having fought the king's battle in vain, had gone home again to fight their own.
At Wyfern she found everything in rigid order, almost cataleptic repose. How was it ever to be home again? What new thing could restore the homefulness where the revered over-life had vanished? And how shall the world be warmed and brightened to him who knows no greater or better man than himself therein—no more skilful workman, no diviner thinker, no more godlike doer than himself? And what can the universe have in it of home, of country, nay even of world, to him who cannot believe in a soul of souls, a heart of hearts? I should fall out with the very beating of the heart within my bosom, did I not believe it the pulse of the infinite heart, for how else should it be heart of MINE? I made it not, and any moment it may SEEM to fail me, yet never, if it be what I think it, can it betray me. It is no wonder then, that, with only memories of what had been to render it lovely in her eyes, Dorothy should have soon begun to feel the place lonely.
The very next morning after her rather late arrival, she sent to saddle Dick once more, called Marquis, and with no other attendant, set out to see what they had done to dear old Raglan. Marquis had been chained up almost all the time they were in London, and freedom is blessed even to a dog: Dick was ever joyful under his mistress, and now was merry with the keen invigorating air of a frosty December morning, and frolicsome amidst the early snow, which lay unusually thick on the ground, notwithstanding his hundred and twenty miles' ride, for they had taken nearly a week to do it; so that between them they soon raised Dorothy's spirits also, and she turned to her hopes, and grew cheerful.
This mood made her the less prepared to encounter the change that awaited her. What a change it was! While she approached, what with the trees left, and the towers, the rampart, and the outer shell of the courts—little injured to the distant eye, she had not an idea of the devastation within. But when she rode through one entrance after another with the gates torn from their hinges, crossed the moat by a mound of earth instead of the drawbridge, and rode through the open gateway, where the portcullises were wedged up in their grooves and their chains gone, into the paved court, she beheld a desolation, at sight of which her heart seemed to stand still in her bosom. The rugged horror of the heaps of ruins was indeed softly covered with snow, but what this took from the desolation in harshness, it added in coldness and desertion and hopelessness. She felt like one who looks for the corpse of his friend, and finds but his skeleton.
The broken bones of the house projected gaunt and ragged. Its eyes returned no shine—they did not even stare, for not a pane of glass was left in a window: they were but eye-holes, black and blank with shadow and no-ness. The roofs were gone—all but that of the great hall, which they had not dared to touch. She climbed the grand staircase, open to the wind and slippery with ice, and reached her own room. Snow lay on the floor, which had swollen and burst upwards with November rains. Through room after room she wandered with a sense of loneliness and desolation and desertion such as never before had she known, even in her worst dreams. Yet was there to her, in the midst of her sorrow and loss, a strange fascination in the scene. Such a hive of burning human life now cold and silent! Even Marquis appeared aware of the change, for with tucked-in tail he went about sadly sniffing, and gazing up and down. Once indeed, and only once, he turned his face to the heavens, and gave a strange protesting howl, which made Dorothy weep, and a little relieved her oppressed heart.
She would go and see the workshop. On the way, she would first visit the turret chamber. But so strangely had destruction altered the look of what it had spared, that it was with difficulty she recognised the doors and ways of the house she had once known so well. Here was a great hole to the shining snow where once had been a dark corner; there a heap of stones where once had been a carpeted corridor. All the human look of indwelling had past away. Where she had been used to go about as if by instinct, she had now to fall back upon memory, and call up again, with an effort sometimes painful in its difficulty, that which had vanished altogether except from the minds of its scattered household.
She found the door of the turret chamber, but that was all she found: the chamber was gone. Nothing was there but the blank gap in the wall, and beyond it, far down, the nearly empty moat of the tower. She turned, frightened and sick at heart, and made her way to the bridge. That still stood, but the drawbridge above was gone.
She crossed the moat and entered the workshop. A single glance took in all that was left of the keep. Not a floor was between her and the sky! The reservoir, great as a little mountain-tarn, had vanished utterly! All was cleared out; and the white wintry clouds were sailing over her head. Nearly a third part of the walls had been brought within a few feet of the ground. The furnace was gone—all but its mason-work. It was like the change of centuries rather than months. The castle had half-melted away. Its idea was blotted out, save from the human spirit. She turned from the workshop, in positive pain of body at the sight, and wandered she hardly knew whither, till she found herself in lady Glamorgan's parlour. There was left a single broken chair: she sat down on it, closed her eyes, and laid back her head.
She opened them with a slight start: there stood Richard a yard or two away.
He had heard of her return, and gone at once to Wyfern. There learning whither she had betaken herself, he had followed, and tracking what of her footsteps he could discover, had at length found her.
LOVE AND NO LEASING.
Their eyes met in the flashes of a double sunrise. Their hands met, but the hand of each grasped the heart of the other. Two honester purer souls never looked out of their windows with meeting gaze. Had there been no bodies to divide them, they would have mingled in a rapture of faith and high content.
The desolation was gone; the desert bloomed and blossomed as the rose. To Dorothy it was for a moment as if Raglan were rebuilt; the ruin and the winter had vanished before the creative, therefore prophetic throb of the heart of love; then her eyes fell, not defeated by those of the youth, for Dorothy's faith gave her a boldness that was lovely even against the foil of maidenly reserve, but beaten down by conscience: the words of the marquis shot like an arrow into her memory: 'Love outlives all but leasing,' and her eyes fell before Richard's.
But Richard imagined that something in his look had displeased her, and was ashamed, for he had ever been, and ever would be, sensitive as a child to rebuke. Even when it was mistaken or unjust he would always find within him some ground whereon it MIGHT have alighted.
'Forgive me, Dorothy,' he said, supposing she had found his look presumptuous.
'Nay, Richard,' returned Dorothy, with her eyes fast on the ground, whence it seemed rosy mists came rising through her, 'I know no cause wherefore thou shouldst ask me to forgive thee, but I do know, although thou knowest not, good cause wherefore I should ask thee to forgive me. Richard, I will tell thee the truth, and thou wilt tell me again how I might have shunned doing amiss, and how far my lie was an evil thing.'
'Lie, Dorothy! Thou hast never lied!'
'Hear me, Richard, first, and then judge. Thou rememberest I did tell thee that night as we talked in the field, that I had about me no missives: the word was true, but its purport was false. When I said that, thou didst hold in thy hand my comb, wherein were concealed certain papers in cipher.'
'Oh thou cunning one!' cried Richard, half reproachfully, half humorously, but the amusement overtopped the seriousness.
'My heart did reproach me; but Richard, what WAS I to do?'
'Wherefore did thy heart reproach thee, Dorothy?'
'That I told a falsehood—that I told THEE a falsehood, Richard.'
'Then had it been Upstill, thou wouldst not have minded?'
'Upstill! I would never have told Upstill a falsehood. I would have beaten him first.'
'Then thou didst think it better to tell a falsehood to me than to Upstill?'
'I would rather sin against thee, an' it were a sin, Richard. Were it wrong to think I would rather be in thy hands, sin or none, or sin and all, than in those of a mean-spirited knave whom I despised? Besides I might one day, somehow or other, make it up to thee—but I could not to him. But was it sin, Richard?—tell me that. I have thought and thought over the matter until my mind is maze. Thou seest it was my lord marquis's business, not mine, and thou hadst no right in the matter.'
'Prithee, Dorothy, ask not me to judge.'
'Art thou then so angry with me that thou will not help me to judge myself aright?'
'Not so, Dorothy, but there is one command in the New Testament for the which I am often more thankful than for any other.'
'What is that, Richard.'
'JUDGE NOT. Prythee, between whom lieth the quarrel, Dorothy? Bethink thee.'
'Between thee and me, Richard.'
'No, verily, Dorothy. I accuse thee not.'
Dorothy was silent for a moment, thinking.
'I see, Richard,' she said. 'It lieth between me and my own conscience.'
'Then who am I, Dorothy, that I should dare step betwixt thee and thy conscience? God forbid. That were a presumption deserving indeed the pains of hell.'