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St. George and St. Michael
by George MacDonald
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It must have been, I think, in view of his slowly-maturing intention to employ lord Herbert in a secret mission to Ireland with the object above mentioned, that the king had sought to bind him yet more closely to himself by conferring on him the title of Glamorgan. It was not, however, until the following year, when his affairs seemed on the point of becoming desperate, that he proceeded, possibly with some protestant compunctions, certainly with considerable protestant apprehension, to carry out his design. Towards this had pointed the relaxation of his measures against the catholic rebels for some time previous, and may to some have indicated hopes entertained of them. It must be remembered that while these catholics united to defend the religion of their country, they, like the Scots who had joined the parliament, professed a sincere attachment to their monarch, and in the persons of their own enemies had certainly taken up arms against many of his.

Meantime the Scots had invaded England, and the parliament had largely increased their forces in the hope of a decisive engagement; but the king refused battle and gained time. In the north prince Rupert made some progress, and brought on the battle of Marston Moor, where the victory was gained by Cromwell, after all had been regarded as lost by the other parliamentary generals. On the other hand, the king gained an important advantage in the west country over Essex and his army.

The trial and execution of Laud, who died in the beginning of the following year, obeying the king rather than his rebellious lords, was a terrible sign to the house of Raglan of what the presbyterian party was capable of. But to Dorothy it would have given a yet keener pain, had she not begun to learn that neither must the excesses of individuals be attributed to their party, nor those of his party taken as embodying the mind of every one who belongs to it. At the same time the old insuperable difficulty returned; how could Richard belong to such a party?



CHAPTER XLII.

A NEW SOLDIER.



Moments had scarcely passed after Dorothy left him at the fountain, ere Scudamore grievously repented of having spoken to her in such a manner, and would gladly have offered apology and what amends he might.

But Dorothy, neither easily moved to wrath, nor yet given to the nourishing of active resentment, was not therefore at all the readier to forget the results of moral difference, or to permit any nearer approach on the part of one such as her cousin had shown himself. As long as he continued so self-serene and unashamed, what satisfaction to her or what good to him could there be in it, even were he to content himself with the cousinly friendship which, as soon as he was capable of it, she was willing to afford him? As it was now, she granted him only distant recognition in company, neither seeking nor avoiding him; and as to all opportunity of private speech, entirely shunning him. For some time, in the vanity of his experience, he never doubted that these were only feminine arts, or that when she judged him sufficiently punished, she would relax the severity of her behaviour and begin to make him amends. But this demeanour of hers endured so long, and continued so uniform, that at length he began to doubt the universality of his experience, and to dread lest the maiden should actually prove what he had never found maiden before, inexorable. He did not reflect that he had given her no ground whatever for altering her judgment or feeling with regard to him. But in truth her thoughts rarely turned to him at all, and while his were haunting her as one who was taking pleasure in the idea that she was making him feel her resentment, she was simply forgetting him, busy perhaps with some self-offered question that demanded an answer, or perhaps brooding a little over the past, in which the form of Richard now came and went at its will.

So long as Rowland imagined the existence of a quarrel, he imagined therein a bond between them; when he became convinced that no quarrel, only indifference, or perhaps despisal, separated them, he began again to despair, and felt himself urged once more to speak. Seizing therefore an opportunity in such manner that she could not escape him without attracting very undesirable attention, he began a talk upon the old basis.

'Wilt thou then forgive me nevermore, Dorothy?', he said humbly.

'For what, Mr. Scuclamore?'

'I mean for offending thee with rude words.'

'Truly I have forgotten them.'

'Then shall we be friends?'

'Nay, that follows not.'

'What quarrel then hast thou with me?'

'I have no quarrel with thee; yet is there one thing I cannot forgive thee.'

'And what is that, cousin? Believe me I know not. I need but to know, and I will humble myself.'

'That would serve nothing, for how should I forgive thee for being unworthy? For such thing there is no forgiveness. Cease thou to be unworthy, and then is there nothing to forgive. I were an unfriendly friend, Rowland, did I befriend the man who befriendeth not himself.'

'I understand thee not, cousin.'

'And I understand not thy not understanding. Therefore can there be no communion between us.'

So saying Dorothy left him to what consolation he could find in such china-pastoral abuse as the gallants of the day would, with the aid of poetic penny-trumpet, cast upon offending damsels—Daphnes and Chloes, and, in the mood, heathen shepherdesses in general. But, fortunately for himself, how great soever had been the freedom with which he had lost and changed many a foolish liking, he found, let his hopelessness or his offence be what it might, he had not the power to shake himself free from the first worthy passion ever roused in him. It had struck root below the sandy upper stratum of his mind into a clay soil beneath, where at least it was able to hold, and whence it could draw a little slow reluctant nourishment.

During his poetic anger, he wrote no small amount of fair verse, tried by the standard of Cowley, Carew, and Suckling, so like theirs indeed that the best of it might have passed for some of their worst, although there was not in it all a single phrase to remind one of their best. But when the poetic spring began to run dry, he fell once more into a sort of wilful despair, and disrelished everything, except indeed his food and drink, so much so that his master perceiving his altered cheer, one day addressed him to know the cause.

'What aileth thee, Rowland?' he said kindly. 'For this se'ennight past, thou lookest like one that oweth the hangman his best suit.'

'I rust, my lord,' said Rowland, with a tragic air of discontent.

The notion had arisen in his foolish head that the way to soften the heart of Dorothy would be to ride to the wars, and get himself slain, or, rather severely but not mortally wounded. Then he would be brought back to Raglan, and, thinking he was going to die, Dorothy would nurse him, and then she would be sure to fall in love with him. Yes—he would ride forth on the fellow Heywood's mare, seek him in the field of battle, and slay him, but be himself thus grievously wounded.

'I rust, my lord,' he said briefly.

'Ha! Thou wouldst to the wars! I like thee for that, boy. Truly the king wanteth soldiers, and that more than ever. Thou art a good cupbearer, but I will do my best to savour my claret without thee. Thou shalt to the king, and what poor thing my word may do for thee shall not be wanting.'

Scudamore had expected opposition, and was a little nonplussed. He had judged himself essential to his master's comfort, and had even hoped he might set Dorothy to use her influence towards reconciling him to remain at home. But although self-indulgent and lazy, Scudamore was constitutionally no coward, and had never had any experience to give him pause: he did not know what an ugly thing a battle is after it is over, and the mind has leisure to attend to the smarting of the wounds.

'I thank your lordship with all my heart,' he said, putting on an air of greater satisfaction than he felt, 'and with your lordship's leave would prefer a further request.'

'Say on, Rowland. I owe thee something for long and faithful service. An' I can, I will.'

'Give me the roundhead's mare that I may the better find her master.'

For Lady was still within the walls. The marquis could not restore her, but neither could he bring himself to use her, cherishing the hope of being one day free to give her back to a reconciled subject. But alas! there were very few horses now in Raglan stalls.

'No, Rowland,' he said, 'thou art the last who ought to get any good of her. It were neither law nor justice to hand the stolen goods to the thief.'

He sat silent, and Rowland, not very eager, stood before him in silence also, meaning it to be read as indicating that to the wars except on that mare's back he would not ride. But the thought of the marquis had now taken another turn.

'Thou shalt have her, my boy. Thou shalt not rust at home for the sake of a gouty old man and his claret. But ere thou go, I will write out certain maxims for thy following both in the field and in quarters. Ere thou ride, look well to thy girths, and as thou ridest say thy prayers, for it pleaseth not God that every man on the right side should live, and thou mayst find the presence in which thou standest change suddenly from that of mortal man to that of living God. I say nothing of orthodoxy, for truly I am not one to think that because a man hath been born a heretic, which lay not in his choice, and hath not been of his parents taught in the truth, that therefore he must howl for ever. Not while blessed Mary is queen of heaven, will all the priests in Christendom persuade me thereof. Only be thou fully persuaded in thine own mind, Rowland; for if thou cared not, that were an evil thing indeed. And of all things, my lad, remember this, that a weak blow were ever better unstruck. Go now to the armourer, and to him deliver my will that he fit thee out as a cuirassier for his majesty's service. I can give thee no rank, for I have no regiment in the making at present, but it may please his majesty to take care of thee, and give thee a place in my lord Glamorgan's regiment of body-guards.'

The prospect thus suddenly opened to Scudamore of a wider life and greater liberty, might have dazzled many a nobler nature than his. Lord Worcester saw the light in his eyes, and as he left the room gazed after him with pitiful countenance.

'Poor lad! poor lad!' he said to himself; 'I hope I see not the last of thee! God forbid! But here thou didst but rust, and it were a vile thing in an old man to infect a youth with the disease of age.'

Rowland soon found the master of the armoury, and with him crossed to the keep, where it lay, above the workshop. At the foot of the stair he talked loud, in the hope that Dorothy might be with the fire-engine, which he thought he heard at work, and would hear him. Having chosen such pieces as pleased his fancy, and needed but a little of the armourer's art to render them suitable, he filled his arms with them, and following the master down, contrived to fall a little behind, so that he should leave the tower before him, when he dropped them all with a huge clatter at the foot of the stair. The noise was sufficient, for it brought out Dorothy. She gazed for a moment as, pretending not to have seen her, he was picking them up with his back towards her.

'Do I see thee arming at length, cousin?' she said. 'I congratulate thee.'

She held out her hand to him. He took it and stared. The reception of his noisy news was different from what he had been vain enough to hope. So little had Dorothy's behaviour in the capture of Rowland enlightened him as to her character!

'Thou wouldst have me slain then to be rid of me, Dorothy?' he gasped.

'I would have any man slain where men fight,' returned Dorothy, 'rather than idling within stone walls!'

'Thou art hard-hearted, Dorothy, and knowest not what love is, else wouldst thou pity me a little.'

'What! art afraid, cousin?'

'Afraid! I fear nothing under heaven but thy cruelty, Dorothy.'

'Then what wouldst thou have me pity thee for?'

'I would, an' I had dared, have said—Because I must leave thee. But thou wouldst mock at that, and therefore I say instead—Because I shall never return; for I see well that thou never hast loved me even a little.'

Dorothy smiled.

'An' I had loved thee, cousin,' she rejoined, 'I had never let thee rest, or left soliciting thee, until thou hadst donned thy buff coat and buckled on thy spurs, and departed to be a man among men, and no more a boy among women.'

So saying she returned to her engine, which all the time had been pumping and forcing with fiery inspiration.

Scudamore mounted and rode, followed by one of the grooms. He found the king at Wallingford, presented the marquis's letter, proffered his services, and was at once placed in attendance on his majesty's person.

In the eyes of most of his comrades the mare he rode seemed too light for cavalry work, but she made up in spirit and quality of muscle for lack of size, and there was not another about the king to match in beauty the little black Lady. Sweet-tempered and gentle although nervous and quick, and endowed with a rare docility and a faith which supplied courage, it was clear, while nothing was known of her pedigree, both from her form and her nature, that she was of Arab descent. No feeling of unreality in his possession of her intruding to disturb his satisfaction in her, Scudamore became very fond of her. Having joined the army, however, only after the second battle of Newbury, he had no chance till the following summer of learning how she bore herself in the field.



CHAPTER XLIII.

LADY AND BISHOP.



In the meantime a succession of events had contributed to enhance the influence of Cromwell in the parliament, and his position and power in the army. He was now, therefore, more able to put in places of trust such men as came nearest his own way of thinking, and amongst the rest Roger Heywood, whom, once brought into the active service for which modesty had made him doubt his own fitness, he would not allow to leave it again, but made colonel of one of his favourite regiments of horse, with his son as major.

Richard continued to ride Bishop, which became at length famous for courage, as he had become at once for ugliness. Fortunately they found that he had developed friendly feelings towards one of the mares of the troop, never lashing out when she happened to be behind him; so they gave her that place, and were freed from much anxiety. Still the rider on each side of him had to keep his eyes open, for every now and then a sudden fury of biting would seize him, and bring chaos in the regiment for a moment or two. When his master was made an officer, the brute's temptations probably remained the same, but his opportunities of yielding to them became considerably fewer.

It was strange company in which Richard rode. Nearly all were of the independent party in religious polity, all holding, or imagining they held, the same or nearly the same tenets. The opinions of most of them, however, were merely the opinions of the man to whose influences they had been first and principally subjected: to say what their belief was, would be to say what they were, which is deeper judgment than a man can reach. In Roger Heywood and his son dwelt a pure love of liberty; the ardent attachment to liberty which most of the troopers professed, would have prevented few of them indeed from putting a quaker in the stocks, or perhaps whipping him, had such an obnoxious heretic as a quaker been at that time in existence. In some was the devoutest sense of personal obligation, and the strongest religious feeling; in others was nothing but talk, less injurious than some sorts of pseudo-religious talk, in that it was a jargon admitting of much freedom of utterance and reception, mysterious symbols being used in commonest interchange. That they all believed earnestly enough to fight for their convictions, will not go very far in proof of their sincerity even, for to most of them fighting came by nature, and was no doubt a great relief to the much oppressed old Adam not yet by any means dead in them.

At length the king led out his men for another campaign, and was followed by Fairfax and Cromwell into the shires of Leicester and Northampton. Then came the battle at the village of Naseby.

Prince Rupert, whose folly so often lost what his courage had gained, having defeated Ireton and his horse, followed them from the field, while Cromwell with his superior numbers turned Sir Marmaduke Langdale's flank, and thereby turned the scale of victory.

But Sir Marmaduke and his men fought desperately, and while the contest was yet undecided, the king saw that Rupert, returned from the pursuit, was attacking the enemy's artillery, and dispatched Rowland in hot haste to bring him to the aid of Sir Marmaduke.

The straightest line to reach him lay across a large field to the rear of Sir Marmaduke's men. As he went from behind them, Richard caught sight of him and his object together, struck spurs into Bishop's flanks, bored him through a bull-fence, was in the same field with Rowland, and tore at full speed to head him off from the prince.

Rowland rode for some distance without perceiving that he was followed; if Richard could but get within pistol-shot of him, for alas, he seemed to be mounted on the fleeter animal! Heavens!-could it be? Yes it was! it was his own lost Lady the cavalier rode! For a moment his heart beat so fast that he felt as if he should fall from his horse.

Rowland became aware that he was pursued, but at the first glimpse of the long, low, rat-like animal on which the roundhead came floundering after him, burst into a laugh of derision, and jumping a young hedge found himself in a clayish fallow, which his mare found heavy. Soon Richard jumped the hedge also, and immediately Bishop had the advantage. But now, beyond the tall hedge they were approaching, they heard the sounds of the conflict near: there was no time to lose. Richard breathed deep, and uttered a long, wild, peculiar cry. Lady started, half-stopped, raised her head high, and turned round her ears. Richard cried again. She wheeled, and despite spur, and rein, though the powerful bit with which Rowland rode her seemed to threaten breaking her jaw, bore him, at short deer-like bounds, back towards his pursuer.

Not until the mare refused obedience did Rowland begin to suspect who had followed him. Then a vague recollection of something Richard had said the night he carried him home to Raglan, crossed his mind, and he grew furious. But in vain he struggled with the mare, and all the time Richard kept ploughing on towards him. At length he saw Rowland take a pistol from his holster. Instinctively Richard did the same, and when he saw him raise the butt-end to strike her on the head, firmed—and missed, but saved Lady the blow, and ere Rowland recovered from the start it gave him to hear the bullet whistle past his ear, uttered another equally peculiar but different cry. Lady reared, plunged, threw her heels in the air, emptied her saddle, and came flying to Richard.

But now arose a fresh anxiety:-what if Bishop should, as was most likely, attack the mare? At her master's word, however, she stood, a few yards off, and with arched neck and forward-pricked ears, waited, while Bishop, moved possibly with admiration of the manner in which she had unseated her rider, scanned her with no malign aspect.

By this time Rowland had got upon his feet, and mindful of his duty, hopeful also that Richard would be content with his prize, set off as hard as he could run for a gap he spied in the hedge. But in a moment Bishop, followed by Lady, had headed him.

'Thou wert better cry quarter,' said Richard.

The reply was a bullet, that struck Bishop below the ear. He stood straight up, gave one yell, and tumbled over. Scudamore ran towards the mare, hoping to catch her and be off ere the roundhead could recover himself. But, although Bishop had fallen on his leg, Richard was unhurt. He lay still and watched. Lady seemed bewildered, and Rowland coming softly up, seized her bridle, and sprung into the saddle. The same moment Richard gave his cry a second time, and again up went Rowland in the air, and Lady came trotting daintily to her master, scared, but obedient. Rowland fell on his back, and before he came to himself, Richard had drawn his leg from under his slain charger, and his sword from its sheath. And now first he perceived who his antagonist was, and a pang went to his heart at the remembrance of his father's words.

'Mr. Scudamore,' he cried, 'I would thou hadst not stolen my mare, so that I might fight with thee in a Christian fashion.'

'Roundhead scoundrel!' gasped Scudamore, wild with wrath. 'Thy unmannerly varlet tricks shall cost thee dear. Thou a soldier? A juggler with a mountebank jade—a vile hackney which thou hast taught to caper! A soldier indeed!'

'A soldier and seatless!' returned Richard. 'A soldier and rail! A soldier and steal my mare, then shoot my horse! Bah! an' the rest were like thee, we might take the field with dog-whips.'

Scudamore drew a pistol from his belt, and glanced towards the mare.

'An' thou lift thine arm, I will kill thee,' cried Richard. 'What! shall a man not teach his horse lest the thief should find him not broke to his taste? Besides, did I not give thee warning while yet I judged thee an honest man, and a thief but in jest? Go thy ways. I shall do my country better service by following braver men than by taking thee. Get thee back to thy master. An' I killed thee, I should do him less hurt than I would. See yonder how thy master's horse do knot and scatter!'

He approached Lady to mount and ride away.

But Rowland, who had now with the help of his anger recovered from the effects of his fall, rushed at Richard with drawn sword. The contest was brief. With one heavy blow that beat down his guard and wounded him severely in the shoulder, dividing his collarbone, for he was but lightly armed, Richard stretched his antagonist on the ground; then seeing prince Rupert's men returning, and sir Marmaduke's in flight and some of them coming his way, he feared being surrounded, and leaping into the saddle, flew as if the wind were under him back to his regiment, reaching it just as in the first heat of pursuit. Cromwell called them back, and turned them upon the rear of the royalist infantry.

This decided the battle. Ere Rupert returned, the affair was so hopeless that not even the entreaties of the king could induce his cavalry to form again and charge.

His majesty retreated to Leicester and Hereford.



CHAPTER XLIV.

THE KING.



Some months before the battle of Naseby, which was fought in June early, that is, in the year 1645, the plans of the king having now ripened, he gave a secret commission for Ireland to the earl of Glamorgan, with immense powers, among the rest that of coining money, in order that he might be in a position to make proposals towards certain arrangements with the Irish catholics, which, in view of the prejudices of the king's protestant council, it was of vital importance to keep secret. Glamorgan therefore took a long leave of his wife and family, and in the month of March set out for Dublin. At Caernarvon, they got on board a small barque, laden with corn, but, in rough weather that followed, were cast ashore on the coast of Lancashire. A second attempt failed also, for, pursued by a parliament vessel, they were again compelled to land on the same coast. It was the middle of summer before they reached Dublin.

During this period there was of course great anxiety in Raglan, the chief part of which was lady Glamorgan's. At times she felt that but for the sympathy of Dorothy, often silent but always ministrant, she would have broken down quite under the burden of ignorance and its attendant anxiety.

In the prolonged absence of her husband, and the irregularity of tidings, for they came at uncertain as well as wide intervals, her yearnings after her vanished Molly, which had become more patient, returned with all their early vehemence, and she began to brood on the meeting beyond the grave of which her religion waked her hope. Nor was this all: her religion itself grew more real; for although there is nothing essentially religious in thinking of the future, although there is more of the heart of religion in the taking of strength from the love of God to do the commonest duty, than in all the longing for a blessed hereafter of which the soul is capable, yet the love of a little child is very close to the love of the great Father; and the loss that sets any affection aching and longing, heaves, as on a wave from the very heart of the human ocean, the labouring spirit up towards the source of life and restoration. In like manner, from their common love to the child, and their common sense of loss in her death, the hearts of the two women drew closer to each other, and protestant mistress Dorothy was able to speak words of comfort to catholic lady Glamorgan, which the hearer found would lie on the shelf of her creed none the less quietly that the giver had lifted them from the shelf of hers.

One evening, while yet lady Glamorgan had had no news of her husband's arrival in Ireland, and the bright June weather continued clouded with uncertainty and fear, lady Broughton came panting into her parlour with the tidings that a courier had just arrived at the main entrance, himself pale with fatigue, and his horse white with foam.

'Alas! alas!' cried lady Glamorgan, and fell back in her chair, faint with apprehension, for what might not be the message he bore? Ere Dorothy had succeeded in calming her, the marquis himself came hobbling in, with the news that the king was coming.

'Is that all?' said the countess, heaving a deep sigh, while the tears ran down her cheeks.

'Is that all?' repeated her father-in-law. 'How, my lady! Is there then nobody in all the world but Glamorgan? Verily I believe thou wouldst turn thy back on the angel Gabriel, if he dared appear before thee without thy Ned under his arm. Bless the Irish heart! I never gave thee MY Ned that thou shouldst fall down and worship the fellow.'

'Bear with me, sir,' she answered faintly. 'It is but the pain here. Thou knowest I cannot tell but he lieth at the bottom of the Irish Sea.'

'If he do lie there, then lieth he in Abraham's bosom, daughter, where I trust there is room for thee and me also. Thou rememberest how thy Molly said once to thee, 'Madam, thy bosom is not so big as my lord Abraham's. What a big bosom my lord Abraham must have!'

Lady Glamorgan laughed.

'Come then—"to our work alive!" which is now to receive his majesty,' said the marquis. 'My wild Irishwoman—'

'Alas, my lord! tame enough now,' sighed the countess.

'Not too tame to understand that she must represent her husband before the king's majesty,' said lord Worcester.

Lady Glamorgan rose, kissed her father-in-law, wiped her eyes, and said—

'Where, my lord, do you purpose lodging his majesty?'

'In the great north room, over the buttery, and next the picture-gallery, which will serve his majesty to walk in, and the windows there have the finest prospect of all. I did think of the great tower, but—Well—the chamber there is indeed statelier, but it is gloomy as a dull twilight, while the one I intend him to lie in is bright as a summer morning. The tower chamber makes me think of all the lords and ladies that have died therein; the north room, of all the babies that have been born there.'

'Spoken like a man!' murmured lady Glamorgan. 'Have you given directions, my lord?'

'I have sent for sir Ralph. Come with me, Margaret: you and Mary must keep your old father from blundering. Run, Dorothy, and tell Mr. Delaware and Mr. Andrews that I desire their presence in my closet. I miss the rogue Scudamore. They tell me he hath done well, and is sorely wounded. He must feel the better for the one already, and I hope he will soon be nothing the worse for the other.'

As he thus talked, they left the room and took their way to the study, where they found the steward waiting them.

The whole castle was presently alive with preparations for the king's visit. That he had been so sorely foiled of late, only roused in all the greater desire to receive him with every possible honour. Hope revived in lady Glamorgan's bosom: she would take the coming of the king as a good omen for the return of her husband.

Dorothy ran to do the marquis's pleasure. As she ran, it seemed as if some new spring of life had burst forth in her heart. The king! the king actually coming! The God-chosen monarch of England! The head of the church! The type of omnipotence! The wronged, the saintly, the wise! He who fought with bleeding heart for the rights, that he might fulfil the duties to which he was born! She would see him! she would breathe the same air with him! gaze on his gracious countenance unseen until she had imprinted every feature of his divine face upon her heart and memory! The thought was too entrancing. She wept as she ran to find the master of the horse and the master of the fish-ponds.

At length, on the evening of the third of July, a pursuivant, accompanied by an advanced guard of horsemen, announced the king, and presently on the north road appeared the dust of his approach. Nearer they came, all on horseback, a court of officers. Travel-stained and weary, with foam-flecked horses, but flowing plumes, flashing armour, and ringing chains, they arrived at the brick gate, where lord Charles himself threw the two leaves open to admit them, and bent the knee before his king. As they entered the marble gate, they saw the marquis descending the great white stair to meet them, leaning for his lameness on the arm of his brother sir Thomas of Troy, and followed by all the ladies and gentlemen and officers in the castle, who stood on the stair while he approached the king's horse, bent his knee, kissed the royal hand, and, rising with difficulty, for the gout had aged him beyond his years, said:

'Domine, non sum dignus.'

I would I had not to give this brief dialogue; but it stands on record, and may suggest something worth thinking to him who can read it aright.

The king replied:

'My lord, I may very well answer you again: I have not found so great faith in Israel; for no man would trust me with so much money as you have done.'

'I hope your majesty will prove a defender of the faith,' returned the marquis.

The king then dismounted, ascended the marble steps with his host, nearly as stiff as he from his long ride, crossed the moat on the undulating drawbridge, passed the echoing gateway, and entered the stone court.

The marquis turned to the king, and presented the keys of the castle. The king took them and returned them.

'I pray your majesty keep them in so good a hand. I fear that ere it be long I shall be forced to deliver them into the hands of who will spoil the compliment', said the marquis.

'Nay,' rejoined his majesty, 'but keep them till the King of kings demand the account of your stewardship, my lord.'

'I trust your majesty's name will then be seen where it stands therein,' said the marquis, 'for so it will fare the better with the steward.'

In the court, the garrison, horse and foot, a goodly show, was drawn up to receive him, with an open lane through, leading to the north-western angle, where was the stair to the king's apartment. At the draw-well, which lay right in the way, and around which the men stood off in a circle, the king stopped, laid his hand on the wheel, and said gaily:

'My lord, is this your lordship's purse?'

'For your majesty's sake, I would it were,' returned the marquis.

At the foot of the stair, on plea of his gout, he delivered his majesty to the care of lord Charles, sir Ralph Blackstone, and Mr. Delaware, who conducted him to his chamber.

The king supped alone, but after supper, lady Glamorgan and the other ladies of the family, having requested permission to wait upon him, were ushered into his presence. Each of them took with her one of her ladies in attendance, and Dorothy, being the one chosen by her mistress for that honour, not without the rousing of a strong feeling of injustice in the bosoms of the elder ladies, entered trembling behind her mistress, as if the room were a temple wherein no simulacrum but the divinity himself dwelt in visible presence.

His majesty received them courteously, said kind things to several of them, but spoke and behaved at first with a certain long-faced reserve rather than dignity, which, while it jarred a little with Dorothy's ideal of the graciousness that should be mingled with majesty in the perfect monarch, yet operated only to throw her spirit back into that stage of devotion wherein, to use a figure of the king's own, the awe overlays the love.

A little later the marquis entered, walking slowly, leaning on the arm of lord Charles, but carrying in his own hands a present of apricots from his brother to the king.

Meantime Dorothy's love had begun to rise again from beneath her awe; but when the marquis came in, old and stately, reverend and slow, with a silver dish in each hand and a basket on his arm, and she saw him bow three times ere he presented his offering, himself serving whom all served, himself humble whom all revered, then again did awe nearly overcome her. When the king, however, having graciously received the present, chose for each of the ladies one of the apricots, and coming to Dorothy last, picked out and offered the one he said was likest the bloom of her own fair cheek, gratitude again restored the sway of love, and in the greatness of the honour she almost let slip the compliment. She could not reply, but she looked her thanks, and the king doubtless missed nothing.

The next day his majesty rested, but on following days rode to Monmouth, Chepstow, Usk, and other towns in the neighbourhood, whose loyalty, thanks to the marquis, had as yet stood out. After dinner he generally paid the marquis a visit in the oak parlour, then perhaps had a walk in the grounds, or a game on the bowling-green.

But although the marquis was devoted to the king's cause, he was not therefore either blinded or indifferent to the king's faults, and as an old man who had long been trying to grow better, he made up his mind to risk a respectful word in the matter of kingly obligation.

One day, therefore, when his majesty entered the oak parlour, he found his host sitting by the table with his Gower lying open before him, as if he had been reading, which doubtless was the case.

'What book have you there, my lord?' asked the king—while some of his courtiers stood near the door, and others gazed from the window on the moat and the swelling, towering mass of the keep. 'I like to know what books my friends read.'

'Sir, it is old master John Gower's book of verses, entitled Confessio Amantis,' answered his lordship.

'It is a book I have never seen before,' said the king, glancing at its pages.

'Oh!' returned the marquis, 'it is a book of books, which if your majesty had been well versed in, it would have made you a king of kings.'

'Why so, my lord?' asked the king.

'Why,' said the marquis, 'here is set down how Aristotle brought up and instructed Alexander the Great in all his rudiments, and the principles belonging to a prince. Allow me, sir, to read you such a passage as will show your majesty the truth of what I say.'

He opened the book and read:

'Among the vertues one is chefe, And that is trouthe, which is lefe (dear) To God and eke to man also. And for it hath ben ever so, Taught Aristotle, as he well couth, (knew) To Alisaundre, how in his youth He shulde of trouthe thilke grace (that same) With all his hole herte embrace, So that his word be trewe and pleine Toward the world, and so certeine, That in him be no double speche. For if men shulde trouthe seche, And found it nought within a king, It were an unfittende thing The worde is token of that within; There shall a worthy king begin To kepe his tunge and to be trewe, So shall his price ben ever newe.'

'And here, sir, is what he saith as to the significance of the kingly crown, if your majesty will allow me to read it.'

'Read on, my lord; all is good and true,' said the king.

'The gold betokneth excellence, That men shuld done him reverence, As to her lege soveraine. (their liege) The stones, as the bokes saine, Commended ben in treble wise. First, they ben hard, and thilke assise (that attribute) Betokeneth in a king constaunce, So that there shall be no variaunce Be found in his condicion. And also by description The vertue, whiche is in the stones, A verray signe is for the nones Of that a king shall ben honest, And holde trewely his behest (promise) Of thing, which longeth to kinghede.' (belongeth)

'And so on—for I were loath to weary your majesty—of the colour of the stones, and the circular form of the crown.'

'Read on, my lord,' said the king.

Several passages, therefore, did the marquis pick out and read—amongst which probably were certain concerning flatterers—taking care still to speak of Alexander and Aristotle, and by no means of king and marquis, until at length he had 'read the king such a lesson,' as Dr. Bayly informs us, 'that the bystanders were amazed at his boldness.'

'My lord, have you got your lesson by heart, or speak you out of the book?' asked the king, taking the volume.

'Sir,' the marquis replied, 'if you could read my heart, it may be you might find it there; or if your majesty please to get it by heart, I will lend you my book.'

'I would willingly borrow it,' said the king.

'Nay,' said the marquis, 'I will lend it to you upon these conditions: first, that you read it; and, second, that you make use of it.'

Here, glancing round, well knowing the nature of the soil upon which his words fell, he saw 'some of the new-made lords displeased, fretting and biting their thumbs,' and thus therefore resumed:—

'But, sir, I assure you that no man was so much for the absolute power of the king as Aristotle. If your majesty will allow me the book again, I will show you one remarkable passage to that purpose.'

Having searched the volume for a moment, and found it, he read as follows:—

'Harpaghes first his tale tolde, And said, how that the strength of kinges Is mightiest of alle thinges. For king hath power over man, And man is he, which reson can, As he, which is of his nature The most noble creature Of alle tho that God hath wrought. And by that skill it seemeth nought, (for that reason) He saith that any erthly thing May be so mighty as a king. A king may spille, a king may save, A king may make of lorde a knave, And of a knave a lord also; The power of a king stant so That he the lawes overpasseth. What he will make lasse, he lasseth; What he will make more, he moreth; And as a gentil faucon soreth, He fleeth, that no man him reclaimeth. But he alone all other tameth, And slant him self of lawe fre.'

'There, my liege! So much for Aristotle and the kinghood! But think not he taketh me with him all the way. By our Lady, I go not so far.'

Lifting his head again, he saw, to his wish, that 'divers new-made lords' had 'slunk out of the room.'

'My lord,' said the king, 'at this rate you will drive away all my nobility.'

'I protest unto your majesty,' the marquis replied, 'I am as new a made lord as any of them all, but I was never called knave or rogue so much in all my life as I have been since I received this last honour: and why should they not bear their shares?'

In high good-humour with his success, he told the story the same evening to lady Glamorgan in Dorothy's presence. It gave her ground for thought: she wondered that the marquis should think the king required such lessoning. She had never dreamed that a man and his office are not only metaphysically distinct, but may be morally separate things; she had hitherto taken the office as the pledge for the man, the show as the pledge for the reality; and now therefore her notion of the king received a rude shock from his best friend.

The arrival of his majesty had added to her labours, for now again horse must spout every day,—with no Molly to see it and rejoice. Every fountain rushed heavenwards, 'and all the air' was 'filled with pleasant noise of waters.' This required the fire-engine to be kept pretty constantly at work, and Dorothy had to run up and down the stair of the great tower several times a-day. But she lingered on the top as often and as long as she might.

One glorious July afternoon, gazing from the top of the keep, she saw his majesty, the marquis, some of the courtiers, and a Mr. Prichard of the neighbourhood, on the bowling-green, having a game together. It was like looking at a toy-representation of one, for, so far below, everything was wondrously dwarfed and fore-shortened. But certainly it was a pretty sight-the gay garments, the moving figures, the bowls rolling like marbles over the green carpet, while the sun, and the blue sky, and just an air of wind—enough to turn every leaf into a languidly waved fan, enclosed it in loveliness and filled it with life. It was like a picture from a CAMERA OBSCURA dropped right at the foot of the keep, for the surrounding walk, moat, and sunk walk beyond, were, seen from that height, but enough to keep the bowling-green, which came to the edge of the sunk walk, twelve feet below it, from appearing to cling to the foundations of the tower. The circle of arches filled with shell-work and statues of Roman emperors, which formed the face of the escarpment of the sunk walk, looked like a curiously-cut fringe to the carpet.

While Dorothy aloft was thus looking down and watching the game,—

'What a lovely prospect it is!' said his majesty below, addressing Mr. Prichard, while the marquis bowled.

Making answer, Mr. Prichard pointed out where his own house lay, half hidden by a grove, and said—'May it please your majesty, I have advised my lord to cut down those trees, so that when he wants a good player at bowls, he may have but to beckon.'

'Nay,' returned the king, 'he should plant more trees, that so he might not see thy house at all.'

The marquis, who had bowled, and was coming towards them, heard what the king said, and fancying he aimed at the fault of the greedy buying-up of land—

'If your majesty hath had enough of the game,' he said, 'and will climb with me to the top of the tower, I will show you what may do your mind some ease.'

'I should be sorry to set your Lordship such an arduous task,' replied the king. 'But I am very desirous of seeing your great tower, and if you will permit me, I will climb the stair without your attendance.'

'Sir, it will pleasure me to think that the last time ever I ascended those stairs, I conducted your majesty. For indeed it shall be the last time. I grow old.'

As the marquis spoke, he led towards the twin-arched bridge over the castle-moat, then through the western gate, and along the side of the court to the Gothic bridge, on their way despatching one of his gentlemen to fetch the keys of the tower.

'My lord,' said the king when the messenger had gone, 'there are some men so unreasonable as to make me believe that your lordship hath good store of gold yet left within the tower; but I, knowing how I have exhausted you, could never have believed it, until now I see you will not trust the keys with any but yourself.'

'Sir,' answered the marquis, 'I was so far from giving your majesty any such occasion of thought by this tender of my duty, that I protest unto you that I was once resolved that your majesty should have lain there, but that I was loath to commit your majesty to the Tower.'

'You are more considerate, my lord, than some of my subjects would be if they had me as much in their keeping,' answered the king sadly. 'But what are those pipes let into the wall up there?' he asked, stopping in the middle of the bridge and looking up at the keep.

'Nay, sire, my son Edward must tell you that. He taketh strange liberties with the mighty old hulk. But I will not injure his good grace with your majesty by talking of that I understand not. I trust that one day, when you shall no more require his absence, you will yet again condescend to be my guest, when my son, by your majesty's favour now my lord Glamorgan, will have things to show you that will delight your eyes to behold.'

'I have ere now seen something of his performance,' answered the king; 'but these naughty times give room for nothing in that kind but guns and swords.'

Leaving the workshop unvisited, his lordship took the king up the stair, and unlocking the entrance to the first floor, ushered him into a lofty vaulted chamber, old in the midst of antiquity, dark, vast, and stately.

'This is where I did think to lodge your majesty,' he said, 'but—but—your majesty sees it is gloomy, for the windows are narrow, and the walls are ten feet through.'

'It maketh me very cold,' said the king, shuddering. 'Good sooth, but I were loath to be a prisoner!'

He turned and left the room hastily. The marquis rejoined him on the stair, and led him, two stories higher, to the armoury, now empty compared to its former condition, but still capable of affording some supply. The next space above was filled with stores, and the highest was now kept clear for defence, for the reservoir so fully occupied the top that there was no room for engines of any sort; and indeed it took up so much of the storey below with its depth that it left only such room as between the decks of a man of war, rendering it hardly fit for any other use.

Reaching the summit at length, the king gazed with silent wonder at the little tarn which lay there as on the crest of a mountain. But the marquis conducted him to the western side, and, pointing with his finger, said—

'Sir, you see that line of trees, stretching across a neck of arable field, where to the right the brook catches the sun?'

'I see it, my lord,' answered the king.

'And behind it a house and garden, small but dainty?'

'Yes, my lord.'

'Then I trust your majesty will release me from suspicion of being of those to whom the prophet Isaias saith, "Vae qui conjungitis domum ad domum, et agrum agro copulatis usque ad terminum loci: numquid habitabitis vos soli in medio terrae?" May it please your majesty, I planted those trees to hoodwink mine eyes from such temptations, hiding from them the vineyard of Naboth, lest they should act the Jezebel and tempt me to play the Ahab thereto. If I did thus when those trees and I were young, shall I do worse now that I stand with one foot in the grave, and purgatory itself in the other?'

The king seemed to listen politely, but only listened half and did not perceive his drift. He was looking at Dorothy where she stood at the opposite side of the reservoir, unable, because of the temporary obstruction occasioned by certain alterations and repairs about the cocks now going on, to reach the stair without passing the king and the marquis. The king asked who she was; and the marquis, telling him a little about her, called her. She came, courtesied low to his majesty, and stood with beating heart.

'I desire,' said the marquis, 'thou shouldst explain to his majesty that trick of thy cousin Glamorgan, the water-shoot, and let him see it work.'

'My lord,' answered Dorothy, trembling betwixt devotion and doubtful duty, 'it was the great desire of my lord Glamorgan that none in the castle should know the trick, as it pleases your lordship to call it.'

'What, cousin! cannot his majesty keep a secret? And doth not all that Glamorgan hath belong to the king?'

'God forbid I should doubt either, my lord,' answered Dorothy, turning very pale, and ready to sink, 'but it cannot well be done in the broad day without some one seeing. At night, indeed—'

'Tut, tut! it is but a whim of Glamorgan's. Thou wilt not do a jot of ill to show the game before his majesty in the sunlight.'

'My lord, I promised.'

'Here standeth who will absolve thee, child! His majesty is paramount to Glamorgan.'

'My lord! my lord!' said Dorothy almost weeping, 'I am bewildered, and cannot well understand. But I am sure that if it be wrong, no one can give me leave to do it, or absolve me beforehand. God himself can but pardon after the thing is done, not give permission to do it. Forgive me, sir, but so master Matthew Herbert hath taught me.'

'And very good doctrine, too,' said the marquis emphatically, 'let who will propound it. Think you not so, sir?'

But the king stood with dull imperturbable gaze fixed on the distant horizon, and made no reply. An awkward silence followed. The king requested his host to conduct him to his apartment.

'I marvel, my lord,' said his majesty as they went down the stair, seeing how lame his host was, 'that, as they tell me, your lordship drinks claret. All physicians say it is naught for the gout.'

'Sir,' returned the marquis, 'it shall never be said that I forsook my friend to pleasure my enemy.'

The king's face grew dark, for ever since the lecture for which he had made Gower the textbook, he had been ready to see a double meaning of rebuke in all the marquis said. He made no answer, avoided his attendants who waited for him in the fountain court, expecting him to go by the bell-tower, and, passing through the hall and the stone court, ascended to his room alone, and went into the picture-gallery, where he paced up and down till supper-time.

The marquis rejoined the little company of his own friends who had left the bowling-green after him, and were now in the oak parlour. A little troubled at the king's carriage towards him, he entered with a merrier bearing than usual.

'Well, gentlemen, how goes the bias?' he said gayly.

'We were but now presuming to say, my lord,' answered Mr. Prichard, 'that there are who would largely warrant that if you would you might be duke of Somerset.'

'When I was earl of Worcester,' returned the marquis, 'I was well to do; since I was marquis, I am worse by a hundred thousand pounds; and if I should be a duke, I should be an arrant beggar. Wherefore I had rather go back to my earldom, than at this rate keep on my pace to the dukedom of Somerset.'



CHAPTER XLV.

THE SECRET INTERVIEW.



Between the third of July, when he first came, and the fifteenth of September, when he last departed, the king went and came several times. During his last visit a remarkable interview took place between him and his host, the particulars of which are circumstantially given by Dr. Bayly in the little book he calls Certamen Religiosum: to me it falls to recount after him some of the said particulars, because, although Dorothy was brought but one little step within the sphere of the interview, certain results were which bore a large influence upon her history.

'Though money came from him,' that is, the marquis, 'like drops of blood,' says Dr. Bayly, 'yet was he contented that every drop within his body should be let out,' if only he might be the instrument of bringing his majesty back to the bosom of the catholic church—a bosom which no doubt the marquis found as soft as it was capacious, but which the king regarded as a good deal resembling that of a careless nurse rather than mother—frized with pins, and here and there a cruel needle. Therefore, expecting every hour that the king would apply to him for more money, the marquis had resolved that, at such time as he should do so, he would make an attempt to lead the stray sheep within the fold—for the marquis was not one of those who regarded a protestant as necessarily a goat.

But the king shrank from making the request in person, and having learned that the marquis had been at one point in his history under the deepest obligation to Dr. Bayly, who having then preserved both his lordship's life and a large sum of money he carried with him, by 'concealing both for the space that the moon useth to be twice in riding of her circuit,' had thereafter become a member of his family and a sharer in his deepest confidence, greatly desired that the doctor should take the office of mediator between him and the marquis.

The king's will having been already conveyed to the doctor, in the king's presence colonel Lingen came up to him and said,

'Dr. Bayly, the king, much wishing your aid in this matter, saith he delights not to be a beggar, and yet is constrained thereunto.'

'I am at his majesty's disposal,' returned the doctor, 'although I confess myself somewhat loath to be the beetle-head that must drive this wedge.'

'Nay,' said the colonel, 'they tell me that no man can make a divorce between the Babylonish garment and the wedge of gold sooner than thyself, good doctor.'

The end was that he undertook the business, though with reluctance—unwilling to be 'made an instrument to let the same horse bleed whom the king himself had found so free'—and sought the marquis in his study.

'My lord,' he said, 'the thing that I feared is now fallen upon me. I am made the unwelcome messenger of bad news: the king wants money.'

'Hold, sir! that's no news,' interrupted the marquis. 'Go on with your business.'

'My lord,' said the doctor, 'there is one comfort yet, that, as the king is brought low, so are his demands, and, like his army, are come down from thousands to hundreds, and from paying the soldiers of his army to buying bread for himself and his followers. My lord, it is the king's own expression, and his desire is but three hundred pound.'

Lord Worcester remained a long time silent, and Dr. Bayly waited, 'knowing by experience that in such cases it was best leaving him to himself, and to let that nature that was so good work itself into an act of the highest charity, like the diamond which is only polished with its own dust.'

'Come hither—come nearer, my good doctor,' said his lordship at length: 'hath the king himself spoken unto thee concerning any such business?'

'The king himself hath not, my lord, but others did, in the king's hearing.'

'Might I but speak unto him—,' said the marquis. 'But I was never thought worthy to be consulted with, though in matters merely concerning the affairs of my own country!—I would supply his wants, were they never so great, or whatsoever they were.'

'If the king knew as much, my lord, you might quickly speak with him,' remarked the doctor.

'The way to have him know so much is to have somebody to tell him of it,' said the marquis testily.

'Will your lordship give me leave to be the informer?' asked the doctor.

'Truly I spake it to the purpose,' answered the marquis.

Away ran the little doctor, ambling through the picture-gallery, 'half going and half running,' like some short-winged bird—his heart trembling lest the marquis should change his mind and call him back, and so his pride in his successful mediation be mortified—to the king's chamber, where he told his majesty with diplomatic reserve, and something of diplomatic cunning, enhancing the difficulties, that he had perceived his lordship desired some conference with him, and that he believed, if the king granted such conference, he would find a more generous response to his necessities than perhaps he expected. The king readily consenting, the doctor went on to say that his lordship much wished the interview that very night. The king asked how it could be managed, and the doctor told him the marquis had contrived it before his majesty came to the castle, having for that reason appointed the place where they were for his bed-chamber, and not that in the great tower, which the marquis himself liked the best in the castle.

'I know my lord's drift well enough,' said the king, smiling: 'either he means to chide me, or else to convert me to his religion.'

'I doubt not, sire,' returned the doctor, 'but your majesty is temptation-proof as well as correction-free, and will return the same man you go, having made a profitable exchange of gold and silver for words and sleep.'

Upon Dr. Bayly's report of his success, the marquis sent him back to tell the king that at eleven o'clock he would be waiting his majesty in a certain room to which the doctor would conduct him.

This was the room the marquis's father had occupied and in which he died, called therefore 'my lord Privy-seal's chamber.' Since then the marquis had never allowed any one to sleep in it, hardly any one to go into it; whence it came that although all the rest of the castle was crowded, this one room remained empty and fit for their purpose.

To understand the precautions taken to keep their interview a secret, we must remember that, although he had not a better friend in all England, such reason had the king to fear losing his protestant friends from their jealousy of catholic influence, that he had never invited the marquis of Worcester to sit with him in council; and that the marquis on his part was afraid both of injuring the cause of the king, and of being himself impeached for treason. Should any of the king's attendant lords discover that they were closeted together, he dreaded the suspicion and accusation of another Gowry conspiracy even. His lordship therefore instructed Dr. Bayly to go, as the time drew nigh, to the drawing-room, which was next the marquis's chamber, and the dining parlour, through both of which he must pass to reach the appointed place, and clear them of the company which might be in them. The chaplain desiring to know how he was to manage it, so that it should not look strange and arouse suspicion, and what he should do if any were unwilling to go,—

'I will tell you what you shall do,' said the marquis hastily, 'so that you shall not need to fear any such thing. Go unto the yeoman of the wine-cellar, and bid him leave the keys of the wine-cellar with you, and all that you find in your way, invite them down into the cellar, and show them the keys, and I warrant you, you shall sweep the room of them, if there were a hundred. And when you have done, leave them there.'

But having thus arranged, the marquis grew anxious again. He remembered that it was not unusual to pass to the hall from the northern side of the fountain court, where were most of the rooms of the ladies' gentlewomen, through the picture-gallery, entering it by a passage and stair which connected the bell-tower with one of its deep window recesses, and leaving it by a door in the middle of the opposite side, admitting to a stair in the thickness of the wall—which led downwards, opening to the minstrels' gallery on the left hand, and a little further below, to the organ loft in the chapel on the right hand. It was not the least likely that any of the ladies or their attendants would be passing that way so late at night, but there was a possibility, and that was enough, the marquis being anxious and nervous, to render him more so.

There was, however, another and more threatening possibility of encounter. He remembered that Mr. Delaware, the master of his horse, had lately removed to that part of the house: and the fear came upon him lest his blind son, who frequently turned night into day in his love for the organ, and was uncertain in his movements between chapel and chamber, the direct way being that just described, should by evil chance appear at the very moment of the king's passing, and alarm him—for through the gallery Dr. Bayly must lead his majesty to reach my lord Privy-seal's chamber. The marquis, therefore, although reluctant to introduce another even to the externals of the plot, felt that the assistance of a second confidant was more than desirable, and turning the matter over, could think of no one whom he could trust so well, and who at the same time would, if seen, be so little liable to the sort of suspicion he dreaded, as Dorothy. He therefore sent for her, told her as much as he thought proper, gave her the key of his private passage to the gallery, leading across the top of the hall-door, the only direct communication from the southern side of the castle, and generally kept closed, and directed her to be in the gallery ten minutes before eleven, to lock the door at the top of the stair leading down into the hall, and take her stand in the window at the foot of the stair from the bell-tower, where the door was without a lock, and see that no one entered by order of the marquis for the king's repose, enjoining upon her that, whatever she saw or heard from any other quarter, she must keep perfectly still, nor let any one discover that she was there. With these instructions, his lordship, considerably relieved, dismissed her, and went to lie down upon his bed, and have a nap if he could. He had already given the chaplain the key of his chamber, the door of which he always locked, that he might enter and wake him when the appointed hour was at hand.

As soon as he began to feel that eleven o'clock was drawing near, Dr. Bayly proceeded to reconnoitre. The marquis's plan, although he could think of none better, was not altogether satisfactory, and it was to his relief that he found nobody in the dining-room. When he entered the drawing-room, however, there, to his equal annoyance, he saw in the light of one expiring candle the dim figure of a lady; he could not offer HER the keys of the wine-cellar! What was he to do? What could she be there for? He drew nearer, and, with a positive pang of relief, discovered that it was Dorothy. A word was enough between them. But the good doctor was just a little annoyed that a second should share in the secret of the great ones.

The next room was the antechamber to the marquis's bedroom: timorously on tiptoe he stepped through it, fearful of waking the two young gentlemen—for Scudamore's place had been easily supplied—who waited upon his lordship. Opening the inner door as softly as he could, he crept in, and found the marquis fast asleep. So slowly, so gently did he wake him, that his lordship insisted he had not slept at all; but when he told him that the time was come—

'What time?' he asked.

'For meeting the king,' replied the doctor.

'What king?' rejoined the marquis, in a kind of bewildered horror.

The more he came to himself, the more distressed he seemed, and the more unwilling to keep the appointment he had been so eager to make, so that at length even Dr. Bayly was tempted to doubt something evil in the 'design that carried with it such a conflict within the bosom of the actor.' It soon became evident, however, that it was but the dread of such possible consequences as I have already indicated that thus moved him.

'Fie, fie!' he said; 'I would to God I had let it alone.'

'My lord,' said the doctor, 'you know your own heart best. If there be nothing in your intentions but what is good and justifiable, you need not fear; if otherwise, it is never too late to repent.'

'Ah, doctor!' returned the marquis with troubled look, 'I thought I had been sure of one friend, and that you would never have harboured the least suspicion of me. God knows my heart: I have no other intention towards his majesty than to make him a glorious man here, and a glorified saint hereafter.'

'Then, my lord,' said Dr. Bayly, 'shake off these fears together with the drowsiness that begat them. Honi soit qui mal y pense.'

'Oh, but I am not of that order!' said the marquis; 'but I thank God I wear that motto about my heart, to as much purpose as they who wear it about their arms.'

'He then,' reports the doctor, 'began to be a little pleasant, and took a pipe of tobacco, and a little glass full of aqua mirabilis, and said, "Come now, let us go in the name of God," crossing himself.'

My love for the marquis has led me to recount this curious story with greater minuteness than is necessary to the understanding of Dorothy's part in what follows, but the worthy doctor's account is so graphic that even for its own sake, had it been fitting, I would gladly have copied it word for word from the Certamen Religiosum.

It is indeed a strange story—king and marquis, attended by a doctor of divinity, of the faith of the one, but the trusted friend of the other, meeting—at midnight, although in the house of the marquis—to discuss points of theology—both king and marquis in mortal terror of discovery.

Meantime Dorothy had done as she had been ordered, had felt her way through the darkness to the picture-gallery, had locked the door at the top of the one stair, and taken her stand in the recess at the foot of the other—in pitch darkness, close to the king's bedchamber, for the gallery was but thirteen feet in width, keeping watch over him! The darkness felt like awe around her.

The door of the chamber opened: it gave no sound, but the glimmer of the night-light shone out. By that she saw a figure enter the gallery. The door closed softly and slowly, and all was darkness again. No sound of movement across the floor followed: but she heard a deep sigh, as from a sorely burdened heart. Then, in an agonised whisper, as if wrung by torture from the depths of the spirit, came the words: 'Oh Stafford, thou art avenged! I left thee to thy fate, and God hath left me to mine. Thou didst go for me to the scaffold, but thou wilt not out of my chamber. O God, deliver me from blood-guiltiness.'

Dorothy stood in dismay, a mere vessel containing a tumult of emotions. The king re-entered his chamber, and closed the door. The same instant a light appeared at the further end of the gallery—a long way off, and Dr. Bayly came, like a Will o' the wisp, gliding from afar; till, softly walking up, he stopped within a yard or two of the king's door, and there stood, with his candle in his hand. His round face was pale that should have been red, and his small keen eyes shone in the candle light with mingled importance and anxiety. He saw Dorothy, but the only notice he took of her presence was to turn from her with his face towards the king's door, so that his shadow might shroud the recess where she stood.

A minute or so passed, and the king's door re-opened. He came out, said a few words in a whisper to his guide, and walked with him down the gallery, whispering as he went.

Dorothy hastened to her chamber, threw herself on the bed, and wept. The king was cast from the throne of her conscience, but taken into the hospital of her heart.

What followed between the king and the marquis belongs not to my tale. When, after a long talk, the chaplain had conducted the king to his chamber and returned to lord Worcester, he found him in the dark upon his knees.



CHAPTER XLVI.

GIFTS OF HEALING.



Soon after the king's departure, the marquis received from him a letter containing another addressed 'To our Attorney or Solicitor-General for the time being,' in which he commanded the preparation of a bill for his majesty's signature, creating the marquis of Worcester duke of Somerset. The enclosing letter required, however, that it should—'be kept private, until I shall esteem the time convenient.' In the next year we have causes enough for the fact that the king's pleasure never reached any attorney or solicitor-general for the time being.

About a month after the battle of Naseby, and while yet the king was going and coming as regards Raglan, the wounded Rowland, long before he was fit to be moved from the farm-house where his servant had found him shelter, was brought home to the castle. Shafto, faithful as hare-brained, had come upon him almost accidentally, after long search, and just in time to save his life. Mistress Watson received him with tears, and had him carried to the same turret-chamber whence Richard had escaped, in order that she might be nigh him. The poor fellow was but a shadow of his former self, and looked more likely to vanish than to die in the ordinary way. Hence he required constant attention—which was so far from lacking that the danger, both physical and spiritual, seemed rather to lie in over-service. Hitherto, of the family, it had been the marquis chiefly that spoiled him; but now that he was so sorely wounded for the king, and lay at death's door, all the ladies of the castle were admiring, pitiful, tender, ministrant, paying him such attentions as nobody could be trusted to bear uninjured except a doll or a baby. One might have been tempted to say that they sought his physical welfare at the risk of his moral ruin. But there is that in sickness which leads men back to a kind of babyhood, and while it lasts there is comparatively little danger. It is with returning health that the peril comes. Then self and self-fancied worth awake, and find themselves again, and the risk is then great indeed that all the ministrations of love be taken for homage at the altar of importance. How often has not a mistress found that after nursing a servant through an illness, perhaps an old servant even, she has had to part with her for unendurable arrogance and insubordination? But present sickness is a wonderful antidote to vanity, and nourisher of the gentle primeval simplicities of human nature. So long as a man feels himself a poor creature, not only physically unable, but without the spirit to desire to act, kindness will move gratitude, and not vanity. In Rowland's case happily it lasted until something better was able to get up its head a little. But no one can predict what the first result of suffering will be, not knowing what seeds lie nearest the surface. Rowland's self-satisfaction had been a hard pan beneath which lay thousands of germinal possibilities invaluable; and now the result of its tearing up remained to be seen. If in such case Truth's never-ceasing pull at the heart begins to be felt, allowed, considered; if conscience begin, like a thing weary with very sleep, to rouse itself in motions of pain from the stiffness of its repose, then is there hope of the best.

He had lost much blood, having lain a long time, as I say, in the fallow-field before Shafto found him. Oft-recurring fever, extreme depression, and intermittent and doubtful progress life-wards followed. Through all the commotion of the king's visits, the coming and going, the clang of hoofs and clanking of armour, the heaving of hearts and clamour of tongues, he lay lapped in ignorance and ministration, hidden from the world and deaf to the gnarring of its wheels, prisoned in a twilight dungeon, to which Richard's sword had been the key. The world went grinding on and on, much the same, without him whom it had forgotten; but the over-world remembered him, and now and then looked in at a window: all dungeons have one window which no gaoler and no tyrant can build up.

The marquis went often to see him, full of pity for the gay youth thus brought low; but he would lie pale and listless, now and then turning his eyes, worn large with the wasting of his face, upon him, but looking as if he only half heard him. His master grew sad about him. The next time his majesty came, he asked him if he remembered the youth, telling him how he had lain wounded ever since the battle at Naseby. The king remembered him well enough, but had never missed him. The marquis then told him how anxious he was about him, for that nothing woke him from the weary heartlessness into which he had fallen.

'I will pay him a visit,' said the king.

'Sir, it is what I would have requested, had I not feared to pain your majesty,' returned the marquis.

'I will go at once,' said the king.

When Rowland saw him his face flushed, the tears rose in his eyes, he kissed the hand the king held out to him, and said feebly:—

'Pardon, sire: if I had rode better, the battle might have been yours. I reached not the prince.'

'It is the will of God,' said the king, remembering for the first time that he had sent him to Rupert. 'Thou didst thy best, and man can do no more.'

'Nay, sire, but an' I had ridden honestly,' returned Rowland; '—I mean had my mare been honestly come by, then had I done your majesty's message.'

'How is that?' asked the king.

'Ha!' said the marquis; 'then it was Heywood met thee, and would have his own again? Told I not thee so? Ah, that mare, Rowland! that mare!'

But Rowland had to summon all his strength to keep from fainting, for the blood had fled again to his heart, and could not reply.

'Thou didst thy duty like a brave knight and true, I doubt not,' said the king, kindly wishful to comfort him; 'and that my word may be a true one,' he added, drawing his sword and laying it across the youth's chest, 'although I cannot tell thee to rise and walk, I tell thee, when thou dost arise, to rise up sir Rowland Scudamore.'

The blood rushed to sir Rowland's face, but fled again as fast.

'I deserve no such honour, sire,' he murmured.

But the marquis struck his hands together with pleasure, and cried,

'There, my boy! There is a king to serve! Sir Rowland Scudamore! There is for thee! And thy wife will be MY LADY! Think on that!'

Rowland did think on it, but bitterly. He summoned strength to thank his majesty, but failed to find anything courtier-like to add to the bare thanks. When his visitors left him, he sighed sorely and said to himself,

'Honour without desert! But for the roundhead's taunts, I might have run to Rupert and saved the day.'

The next morning the marquis went again to see him.

'How fares sir Rowland?' he said.

'My lord,' returned Scudamore, in beseeching tone, 'break not my heart with honour unmerited.'

'How! Darest thou, boy, set thy judgment against the king's?' cried the marquis. 'Sir Rowland thou art, and SIR ROWLAND will the archangel cry when he calls thee from thy last sleep.'

'To my endless disgrace,' added Scudamore.

'What! hast not done thy duty?'

'I tried, but I failed, my lord.'

'The best as often fail as the worst,' rejoined his lordship.

'I mean not merely that I failed of the end. That, alas! I did. But I mean that it was by my own fault that I failed,' said Rowland.

Then he told the marquis all the story of his encounter with Richard, ending with the words,

'And now, my lord, I care no more for life.'

'Stuff and nonsense!' exclaimed the marquis. 'Thinkest though the roundhead would have let thee run to Rupert? It was not to that end he spared thy life. Thy only chance was to fight him.'

'Does your lordship think so indeed?' asked Rowland, with a glimmer of eagerness.

'On my soul I do. Thou art weak-headed from thy sickness and weariness.'

'You comfort me, my lord—a little. But the stolen mare, my lord?—'

'Ah! there indeed I can say nothing. That was not well done, and evil came thereof. But comfort thyself that the evil is come and gone; and think not that such chances are left to determine great events. Naseby fight had been lost, spite of a hundred messages to Rupert. Not care for life, boy! Leave that to old men like me. Thou must care for it, for thou hast many years before thee.'

'But nothing to fill them with, my lord.'

'What meanest thou there, Rowland? The king's cause will yet prosper, and—'

'Pardon me, my lord; I spoke not of the king's majesty or his affairs. Hardly do I care even for them. It is a nameless weight, or rather emptiness, that oppresseth me. Wherefore is there such a world? I ask, and why are men born thereinto? Why should I live on and labour on therein? Is it not all vanity and vexation of spirit? I would the roundhead had but struck a little deeper, and reached my heart.'

'I admire at thee, Rowland. Truly my gout causeth me so great grief that I have much ado to keep my unruly member within bounds, but I never yet was aweary of my life, and scarce know what I should say to thee.'

A pause followed. The marquis did not think what a huge difference there is between having too much blood in the feet and too little in the brain.

'I pray, sir, can you tell me if mistress Dorothy knoweth it was before Heywood I fell?' said Rowland at length.

'I know not; but methinks had she known, I should sooner have heard the thing myself. Who indeed should tell her, for Shafto knew it not? And why should she conceal it?'

'I cannot tell, my lord: she is not like other ladies.'

'She is like all good ladies in this, that she speaketh the truth: why then not ask her?'

'I have had no opportunity, my lord. I have not seen her since I left to join the army.'

'Tut, tut!' said his lordship, and frowned a little. 'I thought not the damsel had been over nice. She might well have favoured a wounded knight with a visit.'

'She is not to blame. It is my own fault,' sighed Rowland.

The marquis looked at him for a moment pitifully, but made no answer, and presently took his leave.

He went straight to Dorothy, and expostulated with her. She answered him no farther or otherwise than was simply duteous, but went at once to see Scudamore.

Mistress Watson was in the room when she entered, but left it immediately: she had never been in spirit reconciled to Dorothy: their relation had in it too much of latent rebuke for her. So Dorothy found herself alone with her cousin.

He was but the ghost of the gay, self-satisfied, good-natured, jolly Rowland. Pale and thin, with drawn face and great eyes, he held out a wasted hand to Dorothy, and looked at her, not pitifully, but despairingly. He was one of those from whom take health and animal spirits, and they feel to themselves as if they had nothing. Nor have they in themselves anything. With those he could have borne what are called hardships fairly well; those gone, his soul sat aghast in an empty house.

'My poor cousin!' said Dorothy, touched with profound compassion at sight of his lost look. But he only gazed at her, and said nothing. She took the hand he did not offer, and held it kindly in hers. He burst into tears, and she gently laid it again on the coverlid.

'I know you despise me, Dorothy,' he sobbed, 'and you are right: I despise myself.'

'You have been a good soldier to the king, Rowland,' said Dorothy, 'and he has acknowledged it fitly.'

'I care nothing for king or kingdom, Dorothy. Nothing is worth caring for. Do not mistake me. I am not going to talk presumptuously. I love not thee now, Dorothy. I never did love thee, and thou dost right to despise me, for I am unworthy. I would I were dead. Even the king's majesty hath been no whit the better for me, but rather the worse; for another man,—one, I mean, who was not mounted on a stolen mare—would have performed his hest unhindered of foregone fault.'

'Thou didst not think thou wast doing wrong when thou stolest the mare,' said Dorothy, seeking to comfort him.

'How know'st thou that, Dorothy? There was a spot in my heart that felt ashamed all the time.'

'He that is sorry is already pardoned, I think, cousin. Then what thou hast done evil is gone and forgotten.'

'Nay, Dorothy. But if it were forgotten, yet would it BE. If I forgot it myself, yet would I not cease to be the man who had done it. And thou knowest, Dorothy, in how many things I have been false, so false that I counted myself honourable all the time. Tell me wherefore should I not kill myself, and rid the world of me; what withholdeth?'

'That thou art of consequence to him that made thee.'

'How can that be, when I know myself worthless? Will he be mistaken in me?'

'No, truly. But he may have regard to that thou shalt yet be. For surely he sent thee here to do some fitting work for him.'

More talk followed, but Dorothy did not seem to herself to find the right thing to say, and retired to the top of the Tower with a sense of failure, and oppressed with helpless compassion for the poor youth.

The doctors of divinity and of medicine differed concerning the cause of his sad condition. The doctor of medicine said it arose entirely from a check in the circulation of the animal spirits; the doctor of divinity thought, but did not say, only hinted, that it came of a troubled conscience, and that he would have been well long ago but for certain sins, known only to himself, that bore heavy upon his life. This gave the marquis a good ground of argument for confession, the weight of which argument was by the divine felt and acknowledged. But both doctors were right, and both were wrong. Could his health have been at once restored, a great reaction would have ensued, his interest in life would have reawaked, and most probably he would have become indifferent to that which now oppressed him; but on the slightest weariness or disappointment, the same overpowering sense of desolation would have returned, and indeed at times amidst the warmest glow of health and keenest consciousness of pleasure. On the other hand, if by any argument addressed to his moral or religious nature his mind could have been a little eased, his physical nature would most likely have at once responded in improvement; but he had no individual actions of such heavy guilt as the divine presumed to repent of, nor could any amount or degree of sorrow for the past have sufficed to restore him to peace and health. It was a poet of the time who wrote,

'The soul's dark cottage, battered and decayed, Lets in new light, through chinks that time has made:'

sickness had done the same thing as time with Rowland, and he saw the misery of his hovel. The cure was a deeper and harder matter than Dr. Bayly yet understood, or than probably Rowland himself would for years attain to, while yet the least glimmer of its approach would be enough to initiate physical recovery.



CHAPTER XLVII.

THE POET-PHYSICIAN.



Time passed, but with little change in the condition of the patient. Winter began to draw on, and both doctors feared a more rapid decline.

Early in the month of November, Dorothy received a letter from Mr. Herbert, informing her that her cousin, Henry Vaughan, one of his late twin pupils, would, on his way from Oxford, be passing near Raglan, and that he had desired him to call upon her. Willing enough to see her relative, she thought little more of the matter, until at length the day was at hand, when she found herself looking for his arrival with some curiosity as to what sort of person he might prove of whom she had heard so often from his master.

When at length he was ushered into lady Glamorgan's parlour, where her mistress had desired her to receive him, both her ladyship and Dorothy were at once prejudiced in his favour. They saw a rather tall young man of five or six and twenty, with a small head, a clear grey eye, and a sober yet changeful countenance. His carriage was dignified yet graceful—self-restraint and no other was evident therein; a certain sadness brooded like a thin mist above his eyes, but his smile now and then broke out like the sun through a grey cloud. Dorothy did not know that he was just getting over the end of a love-story, or that he had a book of verses just printed, and had already begun to repent it.

After the usual greetings, and when Dorothy had heard the last news of Mr. Herbert,—for Mr. Vaughan had made several journeys of late between Brecknock and Oxford, taking Llangattock Rectory in his way, and could tell her much she did not know concerning her friend,—lady Glamorgan, who was not sorry to see her interested in a young man whose royalist predilections were plain and strong, proposed that Dorothy should take him over the castle.

She led him first to the top of the tower, show him the reservoir and the prospect; but there they fell into such a talk as revealed to Dorothy that here was a man who was her master in everything towards which, especially since her mother's death and her following troubles, she had most aspired, and a great hope arose in her heart for her cousin Scudamore. For in this talk it had come out that Mr. Vaughan had studied medicine, and was now on his way to settle for practice at Brecknock. As soon as Dorothy learned this, she entreated her cousin Vaughan to go and visit her cousin Scudamore. He consented, and Dorothy, scarcely allowing him to pause even under the admirable roof of the great hall as they passed through, led him straight to the turret-chamber, where the sick man was.

They found him sitting by the fire, folded in blankets, listless and sad.

When Dorothy had told him whom she had brought to see him, she would have left them, but Rowland turned on her such beseeching eyes, that she remained, by no means unwillingly, and seated herself to hear what this wonderful young phyisican would say.

'It is very irksome to be thus prisoned in your chamber, sir Rowland,' he said.

'No,' answered Scudamore, 'or yes: I care not.'

'Have you no books about you?' asked Mr. Vaughan, glancing round the room.

'Books!' repeated Scudamore, with a wan contemptuous smile.

'You do not then love books?'

'Wherefore should I love books? What can books do for me? I love nothing. I long only to die.'

'And go——?' suggested, rather than asked, Mr. Vaughan.

'I care not whither—anywhere away from here—if indeed I go anywhere. But I care not.'

'That is hardly what you mean, sir Rowland, I think. Will you allow me to interpret you? Have you not the notion that if you were hence you would leave behind you a certain troublesome attendant who is scarce worth his wages?'

Scudamore looked at him but did not reply; and Mr. Vaughan went on.

'I know well what aileth you, for I am myself but now recovering from a similar sickness, brought upon me by the haunting of the same evil one who torments you.'

'You think, then, that I am possessed?' said Rowland, with a faint smile and a glance at Dorothy.

'That verily thou art, and grievously tormented. Shall I tell thee who hath possessed thee?—for the demon hath a name that is known amongst men, though it frighteneth few, and draweth many, alas! His name is Self, and he is the shadow of thy own self. First he made thee love him, which was evil, and now he hath made thee hate him, which is evil also. But if he be cast out and never more enter into thy heart, but remain as a servant in thy hall, then wilt thou recover from this sickness, and be whole and sound, and shall find the varlet serviceable.'

'Art thou not an exorciser, then, Mr. Vaughan, as well as a discerner of spirits? I would thou couldst drive the said demon out of me, for truly I love him not.'

'Through all thy hate thou lovest him more than thou knowest. Thou seest him vile, but instead of casting him out, thou mournest over him with foolish tears. And yet thou dreamest that by dying thou wouldst be rid of him. No, it is back to thy childhood thou must go to be free.'

'That were a strange way to go, sir. I know it not. There seems to be a purpose in what you say, Mr. Vaughan, but you take me not with you. How can I rid me of myself, so long as I am Rowland Scudamore?'

'There is a way, sir Rowland—and but one way. Human words at least, however it may be with some high heavenly language, can never say the best things but by a kind of stumbling, wherein one contradiction keepeth another from falling. No man, as thou sayest, truly, can rid him of himself and live, for that involveth an impossibility. But he can rid himself of that: haunting shadow of his own self, which he hath pampered and fed upon shadowy lies, until it is bloated and black with pride and folly. When that demon king of shades is once cast out, and the man's house is possessed of God instead, then first he findeth his true substantial self, which is the servant, nay, the child of God. To rid thee of thyself thou must offer it again to him that made it. Be thou empty that he may fill thee. I never understood this until these latter days. Let me impart to thee certain verses I found but yesterday, for they will tell thee better what I mean. Thou knowest the sacred volume of the blessed George Herbert?'

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