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A Reputed Changeling by Charlotte M. Yonge

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time as a Queen, though she refused to receive any honours. Lady
Strickland, recovering as soon as she was on dry land, resumed her
Prince, who was fondled with enthusiastic praises for his excellent
conduct on the voyage.

Anne could not help feebly thinking some of the credit might be due
to her, since she had held him by land and water nearly ever since
leaving Whitehall, but she was too much worn out by her nights of
unrest, and too much battered and beaten by the tossings of her
voyage, to feel anything except in a languid half-conscious way,
under a racking headache; and when the curious old house where they
were to rest was reached, and all the rest were eating with ravenous
appetites, she could taste nothing, and being conducted by a
compassionate Frenchwoman in a snow-white towering cap to a straw
mattress spread on the ground, she slept the twenty-four hours round
without moving.

CHAPTER XXI: EXILE

"'Oh, who are ye, young man?' she said.
'What country come ye frae?'
'I flew across the sea,' he said;
''Twas but this very day.'"

Old Ballad.

Five months had passed away since the midnight flight from England,
when Anne Woodford was sitting on a stone bench flanked with statues
in the stately gardens of the Palace of St. Germain, working away at
some delicate point lace, destined to cover some of the deficiencies
of her dress, for her difficulties were great, and these months had
been far from happy ones.

The King was in Ireland, the Queen spent most of the time of his
absence in convents, either at Poissy or Chaillot, carrying her son
with her to be the darling of the nuns, who had for the most part
never even seen a baby, and to whom a bright lively child of a year
old was a perfect treasure of delight. Not wishing to encumber the
good Sisters with more attendants than were needful, the Queen only
took with her one lady governess, one nurse, and one rocker, and
this last naturally was Pauline Dunord, both a Frenchwoman and a
Roman Catholic.

This was in itself no loss to Anne. Her experience of the nunnery
at Boulogne, where had been spent three days in expectation of the
King, had not been pleasant. The nuns had shrunk from her as a
heretic, and kept their novices and pensionnaires from the taint of
communication with her; and all the honour she might have deserved
for the Queen's escape seemed to have been forfeited by that moment
of fear, which in the telling had become greatly exaggerated.

It was true that the Queen had never alluded to it; but probably
through Mrs. Labadie, it had become current that Miss Woodford had
been so much alarmed under the churchyard wall that her fancy had
conjured up a phantom and she had given a loud scream, which but for
the mercy of the Saints would have betrayed them all.

Anne was persuaded that she had done nothing worse than give an
involuntary start, but it was not of the least use to say so, and
she began to think that perhaps others knew better than she did.
Miss Dunord, who had never been more than distantly polite to her in
England, was of course more thrown with her at St. Germain, and
examined her closely. Who was it? What was it? Had she seen it
before? It was of no use to deny. Pauline knew she had seen
something on that All Saints' Eve. Was it true that it was a lover
of hers, and that she had seen him killed in a duel on her account?
Who would have imagined it in cette demoiselle si sage! Would she
not say who it was!

But though truth forced more than one affirmative to be pumped out
of Anne, she clung to that last shred of concealment, and kept her
own counsel as to the time, place, and persons of the duel, and thus
she so far offended Pauline as to prevent that damsel from having
any scruples in regarding her as an obnoxious and perilous rival,
with a dark secret in her life. Certainly Miss Dunord did earnestly
assure her that to adopt her Church, invoke the Saints, and have
Masses for the dead was the only way to lay such ghosts; but Anne
remained obdurate, and thus was isolated, for there were very few
Protestants in the fugitive Court, and those were of too high a
degree to consort with her. Perhaps that undefined doubt of her
discretion was against her; perhaps too her education and knowledge
of languages became less useful to the Queen when surrounded by
French, for she was no longer called upon to act as reader; and the
little Prince, during his residence in the convent, had time to
forget her and lose his preference for her. She was not discharged,
but except for taking her turn as a nursery-maid when the Prince was
at St. Germain, she was a mere supernumerary, nor was there any
salary forthcoming. The small amount of money she had with her had
dwindled away, and when she applied to Lady Strickland, who was
kinder to her than any one else, she was told that the Queen was far
too much distressed for money wherewith to aid the King to be able
to pay any one, and that they must all wait till the King had his
own again. Her clothes were wearing out, and scarcely in condition
for attendance on the Prince when he was shown in state to the King
of France. Worse than all, she seemed entirely cut off from home.
She had written several times to her uncle when opportunity seemed
to offer, but had never heard from him, and she did not know whether
her letters could reach him, or if he were even aware of what had
become of her. People came with passports from England to join the
exiled Court, but no one returned thither, or she would even have
offered herself as a waiting-maid to have a chance of going back.
Lady Strickland would have forwarded her, but no means or
opportunity offered, and there was nothing for it but to look to the
time that everybody declared to be approaching when the King was to
be reinstated, and they would all go home in triumph.

Meanwhile Anne Woodford felt herself a supernumerary, treated with
civility, and no more, as she ate her meals with a very feminine
Court, for almost all the gentlemen were in Ireland with the King.
She had a room in the entresol to herself, in Pauline's absence, and
here she could in turn sit and dream, or mend and furbish up her
clothes--a serious matter now--or read the least scrap of printed
matter in her way, for books were scarcer than even at Whitehall;
and though her 'mail' had safely been forwarded by Mr. Labadie, some
jealous censor had abstracted her Bible and Prayer-book. Probably
there was no English service anywhere in France at that time, unless
among the merchants at Bordeaux--certainly neither English nor
Reformed was within her reach--and she had to spend her Sundays in
recalling all she could, and going over it, feeling thankful to the
mother who had made her store Psalms, Gospels, and Collects in her
memory week by week.

She was so far forgotten that active attempts to convert her had
been dropped, except by Pauline. Perhaps it was thought that
isolation would be effectual, but in fact the sight of popular
Romanism not kept in check by Protestant surroundings shocked her,
and made her far more averse to change than when she saw it at its
best at Whitehall. In fine, the end of her ambition had been
neglect and poverty, and the real service that she had rendered was
unacknowledged, and marred by that momentary alarm. No wonder she
felt sore.

She had never once been to Paris, and seldom beyond the gardens,
which happily were free in the absence of the Queen, and always had
secluded corners apart from the noble terraces, safe from the
intrusion of idle gallants. Anne had found a sort of bower of her
own, shaded by honeysuckles and wild roses, where she could sit
looking over the slopes and the windings of the Seine and indulge
her musings and longings.

The lonely life brought before her all the anxieties that had been
stifled for the time by the agitations of the escape. Again and
again she lived over the scene in the ruins. Again and again she
recalled those two strange appearances, and shivering at the thought
of the anniversary that was approaching in another month, still felt
sometimes that, alive or dead, Peregrine's would be a home face, and
framed to herself imaginary scenes in which she addressed him, and
demanded whether he could not rest in his unhallowed grave. What
would Bishop Ken say? Sometimes even she recollected the strange
theory which had made him crave execution from the late King, seven
years, yes, a little more than seven years ago, and marvel whether
at that critical epoch he had indeed between life and death been
snatched away to his native land of faery. Imagination might well
run riot in the solitary, unoccupied condition to which she was
reduced; and she also brooded much over the fragments of doubtful
news which reached her.

Something was said of all loyal clergy being expelled and
persecuted, and this of course suggested those sufferings of the
clergy during the Commonwealth, of which she had often heard, making
her very anxious about her uncle, and earnestly long for wings to
fly to him. The Archfields too! Had Charles returned, and did that
secret press upon him as it did upon her? Did Lucy think herself
utterly forgotten and cast aside, receiving no word or message from
her friend? "Perhaps," thought Anne, "they fancy me sailing about
at Court in silks and satins, jewels and curls, and forgetting them
all, as I remember Lucy said I should when she first heard that I
was going to Whitehall. Nay, and I even took pleasure in the
picture of myself so decked out, though I never, never meant to
forget her. Foolish, worse than foolish, that I was! And to think
that I might now be safe and happy with good Lady Russell, near my
uncle and all of them. I could almost laugh to think how my fine
notions of making my fortune have ended in sitting here, neglected,
forgotten, banished, almost in rags! I suppose it was all self-
seeking, and that I must take it meekly as no more than I deserve.
But oh, how different! how different is this captivity! 'Oh that I
had wings like a dove, for then would I flee away, and be at rest.'
Swallow, swallow! you are sweeping through the air. Would that my
spirit could fly like you! if only for one glimpse to tell me what
they are doing. Ah! there's some one coming down this unfrequented
walk, where I thought myself safe. A young gentleman! I must rise
and go as quietly as I can before he sees me. Nay," as the action
following the impulse, she was gathering up her work, "'tis an old
abbe with him! no fear! Abbe? Nay, 'tis liker to an English
clergyman! Can a banished one have strayed hither? The younger man
is in mourning. Could it be? No graver, older, more manly--Oh!"

"Anne! Anne! We have found you!"

"Mr. Archfield! You!"

And as Charles Archfield, in true English fashion, kissed her cheek,
Anne fairly choked with tears of joy, and she ever after remembered
that moment as the most joyful of her life, though the joy was
almost agony.

"This is Mistress Anne Woodford, sir," said Charles, the next
moment. "Allow me, madam, to present Mr. Fellowes, of Magdalen
College."

Anne held out her hand, and courtesied in response to the bow and
wave of the shovel hat.

"How did you know that I was here?" she said.

"Doctor Woodford thought it likely, and begged us to come and see
whether we could do anything for you," said Charles; "and you may
believe that we were only too happy to do so. A lady to whom we had
letters, who is half English, the Vicomtesse de Bellaise, was so
good as to go to the convent at Poissy and discover for us from some
of the suite where you were."

"My uncle--my dear uncle--is he well?"

"Quite well, when last we heard," said Charles. "That was at
Florence, nearly a month ago."

"And all at Fareham, are they well?"

"All just as usual," said Charles, "at the last hearing, which was
at the same time. I hoped to have met letters at Paris, but no
doubt the war prevents the mails from running."

"Ah! I have never had a single letter," said Anne. "Did my uncle
know anything of me? Has he never had one of mine?"

"Up to the time when he wrote, last March, that is to say, he had
received nothing. He had gone to London to make inquiries--"

"Ah! my dear good uncle!"

"And had ascertained that you had been chosen to accompany the Queen
and Prince in their escape from Whitehall. You have played the
heroine, Miss Anne."

"Oh! if you knew--"

"And," said Mr. Fellowes, "both he and Sir Philip Archfield
requested us, if we could make our way home through Paris, to come
and offer our services to Mistress Woodford, in case she should wish
to send intelligence to England, or if she should wish to make use
of our escort to return home."

"Oh sir! oh sir! how can I thank you enough! You cannot guess the
happiness you have brought me," cried Anne with clasped hands, tears
welling up again.

"You _will_ come with us then," cried Charles. "I am sure you
ought. They have not used you well, Anne; how pale and thin you
have grown."

"That is only pining! I am quite well, only home-sick," she said
with a smile. "I am sure the Queen will let me go. I am nothing
but a burthen now. She has plenty of her own people, and they do
not like a Protestant about the Prince."

"There is Madame de Bellaise," said Mr. Fellowes, "advancing along
the walk with Lady Powys. Let me present you to her."

"You have succeeded, I see," a kind voice said, as Anne found
herself making her courtesy to a tall and stately old lady, with a
mass of hair of the peculiar silvered tint of flaxen mixed with
white.

"I am sincerely glad," said Lady Powys, "that Miss Woodford has met
her friends."

"Also," said Madame de Bellaise, "Lady Powys is good enough to say
that if mademoiselle will honour me with a visit, she gives
permission for her to return with me to Paris."

This was still greater joy, except for that one recollection,
formidable in the midst of her joy, of her dress. Did Madame de
Bellaise divine something? for she said, "These times remind me of
my youth, when we poor cavalier families well knew what sore straits
were. If mademoiselle will bring what is most needful, the rest can
be sent afterwards."

Making her excuses for the moment, Anne with light and gladsome foot
sped along the stately alley, up the stairs to her chamber, round
which she looked much as if it had been a prison cell, fell on her
knees in a gush of intense thankfulness, and made her rapid
preparations, her hands trembling with joy, and a fear that she
might wake to find all again a dream. She felt as if this
deliverance were a token of forgiveness for her past wilfulness, and
as if hope were opened to her once more. Lady Powys met her as she
came down, and spoke very kindly, thanking her for her services, and
hoping that she would enjoy the visit she was about to make.

"Does your ladyship think Her Majesty will require me any longer?"
asked Anne timidly.

"If you wish to return to the country held by the Prince of Orange,"
said the Countess coldly, "you must apply for dismissal to Her
Majesty herself."

Anne perceived from the looks of her friends that it was no time for
discussing her loyalty, and all taking leave, she was soon seated
beside Madame de Bellaise, while the coach and four rolled down the
magnificent avenue, and scene after scene disappeared, beautiful and
stately indeed, but which she was as glad to leave behind her as if
they had been the fetters and bars of a dungeon, and she almost
wondered at the words of admiration of her companions.

Madame de Bellaise sat back, and begged the others to speak English,
saying that it was her mother tongue, and she loved the sound of it,
but really trying to efface herself, while the eager conversation
between the two young people went on about their homes.

Charles had not been there more recently than Anne, and his letters
were at least two months old, but the intelligence in them was as
water to her thirsty soul. All was well, she heard, including the
little heir of Archfield, though the young father coloured a little,
and shuffled over the answers to the inquiries with a rather sad
smile. Charles was, however, greatly improved. He had left behind
him the loutish, unformed boy, and had become a handsome, courteous,
well-mannered gentleman. The very sight of him handing Madame de
Bellaise in and out of her coach was a wonder in itself when Anne
recollected how he had been wont to hide himself in the shrubbery to
prevent being called upon for such services, and how uncouthly in
the last extremity he would perform them.

Madame de Bellaise was inhabiting her son's great Hotel de
Nidemerle. He was absent in garrison, and she was presiding over
the family of grandchildren, their mother being in bad health. So
much Anne heard before she was conducted to a pleasant little
bedroom, far more home-like and comfortable than in any of the
palaces she had inhabited. It opened into another, whence merry
young voices were heard.

"That is the apartment of my sister's youngest daughter," said
Madame de Bellaise, "Noemi Darpent. I borrowed her for a little
while to teach her French and dancing, but now that we are gone to
war, they want to have her back again, and it will be well that she
should avail herself of the same escort as yourself. All will then
be selon les convenances, which had been a difficulty to me," she
added with a laugh.

Then opening the door of communication she said; "Here, Noemi, we
have found your countrywoman, and I put her under your care. Ah!
you two chattering little pies, I knew the voices were yours. This
is my granddaughter, Marguerite de Nidemerle, and my niece--a la
mode de Bretagne--Cecile d'Aubepine, all bestowing their chatter on
their cousin."

Noemi Darpent was a tall, fair, grave-faced maiden, some years over
twenty, and so thoroughly English that it warmed Anne's heart to
look at her, and the other two were bright little Frenchwomen--
Marguerite a pretty blonde, Cecile pale, dark, and sallow, but full
of life. Both were at the age at which girls were usually in
convents, but as Anne learnt, Madame de Bellaise was too English at
heart to give up the training of her grandchildren, and she had an
English governess for them, daughter to a Romanist cavalier ruined
by sequestration.

She was evidently the absolute head of the family. Her daughter-in-
law was a delicate little creature, who scarcely seemed able to bear
the noise of the family at the long supper-table, when all talked
with shrill French voices, from the two youths and their abbe tutor
down to the little four-year-old Lolotte in her high chair. But to
Anne, after the tedious formality of the second table at the palace,
stiff without refinement, this free family life was perfectly
delightful and refreshing, though as yet she was too much cramped,
as it were, by long stiffness, silence, and treatment as an inferior
to join, except by the intelligent dancing of her brown eyes, and
replies when directly addressed.

After Mrs. Labadie's homeliness, Pauline's exclusive narrowness,
Jane's petty frivolity, Hester's vulgar worldliness, and the general
want of cultivation in all who treated her on an equality, it was
like returning to rational society; and she could not but observe
that Mr. Archfield altogether held his own in conversation with the
rest, whether in French or English. Little more than a year ago he
would hardly have opened his mouth, and would have worn the true
bumpkin look of contemptuous sheepishness. Now he laughed and made
others laugh as readily and politely as--Ah! With whom was she
comparing him? Did the thought of poor Peregrine dwell on his mind
as it did upon hers? But perhaps things were not so terrible to a
man as to a woman, and he had not seen those apparitions! Indeed,
when not animated, she detected a certain thoughtful melancholy on
his brow which certainly had not belonged to former times.

Mr. Fellowes early made known to Anne that her uncle had asked him
to be her banker, and the first care of her kind hostess was to
assist her in supplying the deficiencies of her wardrobe, so that
she was able to go abroad without shrinking at her own shabby
appearance.

The next thing was to take her to Poissy to request her dismissal
from the Queen, without which it would be hardly decorous to depart,
though in point of fact, in the present state of affairs, as Noemi
said, there was nothing to prevent it.

"No," said Mr. Fellowes; "but for that reason Miss Woodford would
feel bound to show double courtesy to the discrowned Queen."

"And she has often been very kind to me--I love her much," said
Anne.

"Noemi is a little Whig," said Madame de Bellaise. "I shall not
take her with us, because I know her father would not like it, but
to me it is only like the days of my youth to visit an exiled queen.
Will these gentlemen think fit to be of the party?"

"Thank you, madam, not I," said the Magdalen man. "I am very sorry
for the poor lady, but my college has suffered too much at her
husband's hands for me to be very anxious to pay her my respects;
and if my young friend will take my advice, neither will he. It
might be bringing his father into trouble."

To this Charles agreed, so M. L'Abbe undertook to show them the
pictures at the Louvre, and Anne and Madame de Bellaise were the
only occupants of the carriage that conveyed them to the great old
convent of Poissy, the girl enjoying by the way the comfort of the
kindness of a motherly woman, though even to her there could be no
confiding of the terrible secret that underlay all her thoughts.
Madame de Bellaise, however, said how glad she was to secure this
companionship for her niece. Noemi had been more attached than her
family realised to Claude Merrycourt, a neighbour who had had the
folly, contrary to her prudent father's advice, to rush into
Monmouth's rebellion, and it had only been by the poor girl's agony
when he suffered under the summary barbarities of Kirke that her
mother had known how much her heart was with him. The depression of
spirits and loss of health that ensued had been so alarming that
when Madame de Bellaise, after some months, paid a long visit to her
sister in England, Mrs. Darpent had consented to send the girl to
make acquaintance with her French relations, and try the effect of
change of scene. She had gone, indifferent, passive, and broken-
hearted, but her aunt had watched over her tenderly, and she had
gradually revived, not indeed into a joyous girl, but into a calm
and fairly cheerful woman.

When she had left home, France and England were only too closely
connected, but now they were at daggers drawn, and probably would be
so for many years, and the Revolution had come so suddenly that
Madame de Bellaise had not been able to make arrangements for her
niece's return home, and Noemi was anxiously waiting for an
opportunity of rejoining her parents.

The present plan was this. Madame de Bellaise's son, the Marquis de
Nidemerle, was Governor of Douai, where his son, the young Baron de
Ribaumont, with his cousin, the Chevalier d'Aubepine, were to join
him with their tutor, the Abbe Leblanc. The war on the Flemish
frontier was not just then in an active state, and there were often
friendly relations between the commandants of neighbouring
garrisons, so that it might be possible to pass a party on to the
Spanish territory with a flag of truce, and then the way would be
easy. This passing, however, would be impossible for Noemi alone,
since etiquette would not permit of her thus travelling with the two
young gentlemen, nor could she have proceeded after reaching Douai,
so that the arrival of the two Englishmen and the company of Miss
Woodford was a great boon. Madame de Bellaise had already
despatched a courier to ask her son whether he could undertake the
transit across the frontier, and hoped to apply for passports as
soon as his answer was received. She told Anne her niece's history
to prevent painful allusions on the journey.

"Ah, madame!" said Anne, "we too have a sad day connected with that
unfortunate insurrection. We grieved over Lady Lisle, and burnt
with indignation."

"M. Barillon tells me that her judge, the Lord Chancellor, was
actually forced to commit himself to the Tower to escape being torn
to pieces by the populace, and it is since reported that he has
there died of grief and shame. I should think his prison cell must
have been haunted by hundreds of ghosts."

"I pray you, madame! do you believe that there are apparitions?"

"I have heard of none that were not explained by some accident, or
else were the produce of an excited brain;" and Anne said no more on
that head, though it was a comfort to tell of her own foolish
preference for the chances of Court preferment above the security of
Lady Russell's household, and Madame de Bellaise smiled, and said
her experience of Courts had not been too agreeable.

And thus they reached Poissy, where Queen Mary Beatrice had separate
rooms set apart for visitors, and thus did not see them from behind
the grating, but face to face.

"You wish to leave me, signorina," she said, using the appellation
of their more intimate days, as Anne knelt to kiss her hand. "I
cannot wonder. A poor exile has nothing wherewith to reward the
faithful."

"Ah! your Majesty, that is not the cause; if I were of any use to
you or to His Royal Highness."

"True, signorina; you have been faithful and aided me to the best of
your power in my extremity, but while you will not embrace the true
faith I cannot keep you about the person of my son as he becomes
more intelligent. Therefore it may be well that you should leave
us, until such time as we shall be recalled to our kingdom, when I
hope to reward you more suitably. You loved my son, and he loved
you--perhaps you would like to bid him farewell."

For this Anne was very grateful, and the Prince was sent for by the
mother, who was too proud of him to miss any opportunity of
exhibiting him to an experienced mother and grandmother like the
vicomtesse. He was a year old, and had become a very beautiful
child, with large dark eyes like his mother's, and when Mrs. Labadie
carried him in, he held out his arms to Anne with a cry of glad
recognition that made her feel that if she could have been allowed
the charge of him she could hardly have borne to part with him. And
when the final leave-taking came, the Queen made his little hand
present her with a little gold locket, containing his soft hair,
with a J in seed pearls outside, in memory, said Mary Beatrice, of
that night beneath the church wall.

"Ah, yes, you had your moment of fear, but we were all in terror,
and you hushed him well."

Thus with another kiss to the white hand, returned on her own
forehead, ended Anne Jacobina's Court life. Never would she be
Jacobina again--always Anne or sweet Nancy! It was refreshing to be
so called, when Charles Archfield let the name slip out, then
blushed and apologised, while she begged him to resume it, which he
was now far too correct to do in public. Noemi quite readily
adopted it.

"I am tired of fine French names," she said: "an English voice is
quite refreshing; and do you call me Naomi, not Noemi. I did not
mind it so much at first, because my father sometimes called me so,
after his good old mother, who was bred a Huguenot, but it is like
the first step towards home to hear Naomi--Little Omy, as my
brothers used to shout over the stairs."

That was a happy fortnight. Madame de Bellaise said it would be a
shame to let Anne have spent a half year in France and have seen
nothing, so she took the party to the theatre, where they saw the
Cid with extreme delight. She regretted that the season was so far
advanced that the winter representations of Esther, at St. Cyr by
the young ladies, were over, but she invited M. Racine for an
evening, when Mr. Fellowes took extreme pleasure in his
conversation, and he was prevailed on to read some of the scenes.
She also used her entree at Court to enable them to see the
fountains at Versailles, which Winchester was to have surpassed but
for King Charles's death.

"Just as well otherwise," remarked Charles to Anne. "These fine
feathers and flowers of spray are beautiful enough in themselves,
but give me the clear old Itchen not tortured into playing tricks,
with all the trout killed; and the open down instead of all these
terraces and marble steps where one feels as cramped as if it were a
perpetual minuet. And look at the cost! Ah! you will know what I
mean when we travel through the country."

Another sight was from a gallery, whence they beheld the King eat
his dinner alone at a silver-loaded table, and a lengthy ceremony it
was. Four plates of soup to begin with, a whole capon with ham,
followed by a melon, mutton, salad, garlic, pate de foie gras,
fruit, and confitures. Charles really grew so indignant, that, in
spite of his newly-acquired politeness, Anne, who knew his
countenance, was quite glad when she saw him safe out of hearing.

"The old glutton!" he said; "I should like to put him on a diet of
buckwheat and sawdust like his poor peasants for a week, and then
see whether he would go on gormandising, with his wars and his
buildings, starving his poor. It is almost enough to make a Whig of
a man to see what we might have come to. How can you bear it,
madame?"

"Alas! we are powerless," said the Vicomtesse. "A seigneur can do
little for his people, but in Anjou we have some privileges, and our
peasants are better off than those you have seen, though indeed I
grieved much for them when first I came among them from England."

She was perhaps the less sorry that Paris was nearly emptied of
fashionable society since her guest had the less chance of uttering
dangerous sentiments before those who might have repeated them, and
much as she liked him, she was relieved when letters came from her
son undertaking to expedite them on their way provided they made
haste to forestall any outbreak of the war in that quarter.

Meantime Naomi and Anne had been drawn much nearer together by a
common interest. The door between their rooms having some
imperfection in the latch swung open as they were preparing for bed,
and Anne was aware of a sound of sobbing, and saw one of the white-
capped, short-petticoated femmes de chambre kneeling at Naomi's
feet, ejaculating, "Oh, take me! take me, mademoiselle! Madame is
an angel of goodness, but I cannot go on living a lie. I shall do
something dreadful."

"Poor Suzanne! poor Suzanne!" Naomi was answering: "I will do what
I can, I will see if it is possible--"

They started at the sound of the step, Suzanne rising to her feet in
terror, but Naomi, signing to Anne and saying, "It is only
Mademoiselle Woodford, a good Protestant, Suzanne. Go now; I will
see what can be done; I know my aunt would like to send a maid with
us."

Then as Suzanne went out with her apron to her eyes, and Anne would
have apologised, she said, "Never mind; I must have told you, and
asked your help. Poor Suzanne, she is one of the Rotrous, an old
race of Huguenot peasants whom my aunt always protected; she would
protect any one, but these people had a special claim because they
sheltered our great-grandmother, Lady Walwyn, when she fled after
the S. Barthelemi. When the Edict of Nantes was revoked, the two
brothers fled. I believe she helped them, and they got on board
ship, and brought a token to my father; but the old mother was
feeble and imbecile, and could not move, and the monks and the
dragoons frightened and harassed this poor wench into what they
called conforming. When the mother died, my aunt took Suzanne and
taught her, and thought she was converted; and indeed if all Papists
were like my aunt it would not be so hard to become one."

"Oh yes! I know others like that."

"But this poor Suzanne, knowing that she only was converted out of
terror, has always had an uneasy conscience, and the sight of me has
stirred up everything. She says, though I do not know if it be
true, that she was fast drifting into bad habits, when finding my
Bible, though it was English and she could not read it, seems to
have revived everything, and recalled the teaching of her good old
father and pastor, and now she is wild to go to England with us."

"You will take her?" exclaimed Anne.

"Of course I will. Perhaps that is what I was sent here for. I
will ask her of my aunt, and I think she will let me have her. You
will keep her secret, Anne."

"Indeed I will."

Madame de Bellaise granted Suzanne to her niece without difficulty,
evidently guessing the truth, but knowing the peril of the situation
too well to make any inquiry. Perhaps she was disappointed that her
endeavours to win the girl to her Church had been ineffectual, but
to have any connection with one 'relapsed' was so exceedingly
perilous that she preferred to ignore the whole subject, and merely
let it be known that Suzanne was to accompany Mademoiselle Darpent,
and this was only disclosed to the household on the very last
morning, after the passports had been procured and the mails packed,
and she hushed any remark of the two English girls in such a decided
manner as quite startled them by the manifest need of caution.

"We should have come to that if King James were still allowed to
have his own way," said Naomi.

"Oh no! we are too English," said Anne.

"Our generation might not see it," said Naomi; "but who can be safe
when a Popish king can override law? Oh, I shall breathe more
freely when I am on the other side of the Channel. My aunt is much
too good for this place, and they don't approve of her, and keep her
down."

CHAPTER XXII: REVENANTS

"But soft, behold! lo, where it comes again!
I'll cross it, though it blast me."

Hamlet.

Floods of tears were shed at the departure of the two young officers
of sixteen and seventeen. The sobs of the household made the
English party feel very glad when it was over and the cavalcade was
in motion. A cavalcade it was, for each gentleman rode and so did
his body-servant, and each horse had a mounted groom. The two young
officers had besides each two chargers, requiring a groom and horse
boy, and each conducted half a dozen fresh troopers to join the
army. A coach was the regulation mode of travelling for ladies, but
both the English girls had remonstrated so strongly that Madame de
Bellaise had consented to their riding, though she took them and
Suzanne the first day's journey well beyond the ken of the Parisians
in her own carriage, as far as Senlis, where there was a fresh
parting with the two lads, fewer tears, and more counsel and
encouragement, with many fond messages to her son, many to her
sister in England, and with affectionate words to her niece a
whisper to her to remember that she would not be in a Protestant
country till she reached Holland or England.

The last sight they had of the tall dignified figure of the old lady
was under the arch of the cathedral, where she was going to pray for
their safety. Suzanne was to ride on a pillion behind the Swiss
valet of Mr. Fellowes, whom Naomi had taken into her confidence, and
the two young ladies each mounted a stout pony. Mr. Fellowes had
made friends with the Abbe Leblanc, who was of the old Gallican
type, by no means virulently set against Anglicanism, and also a
highly cultivated man, so that they had many subjects in common,
besides the question of English Catholicity. The two young cousins,
Ribaumont and D'Aubepine, were chiefly engaged in looking out for
sport, setting their horses to race with one another, and the like,
in which Charles Archfield sometimes took a share, but he usually
rode with the two young ladies, and talked to them very pleasantly
of his travels in Italy, the pictures and antiquities which had made
into an interesting reality the studies that he had hated when a
boy, also the condition of the country he had seen with a mind which
seemed to have opened and enlarged with a sudden start beyond the
interests of the next fox-hunt or game at bowls. All were, as he
had predicted, greatly shocked at the aspect of the country through
which they passed: the meagre crops ripening for harvest, the hay-
carts, sometimes drawn by an equally lean cow and woman, the haggard
women bearing heavy burthens, and the ragged, barefooted children
leading a wretched cow or goat to browse by the wayside, the gaunt
men toiling at road-mending with their poor starved horses, or at
their seigneur's work, alike unpaid, even when drawn off from their
own harvests. And in the villages the only sound buildings were the
church and presbytere by its side, the dwellings being miserable
hovels, almost sunk into the earth, an old crone or two, marvels of
skinniness, spinning at the door, or younger women making lace, and
nearly naked children rushing out to beg. Sometimes the pepper-box
turrets of a chateau could be seen among distant woods, or the walls
of a cloister, with a taper spire in the midst, among greener
fields; and the towns were approached through long handsome avenues,
and their narrow streets had a greater look of prosperity, while
their inns, being on the way to the place of warfare, were almost
luxurious, with a choice of dainty meats and good wines. Everywhere
else was misery, and Naomi said it was the vain endeavour to reform
the source of these grievances that had forced her father to become
an exile from his native country, and that he had much apprehended
that the same blight might gradually be brought over his adopted
land, on which Charles stood up for the constitution, and for the
resolute character of Englishmen, and Anne, as in duty bound, for
the good intentions of her godfather. Thus they argued, and Anne
not only felt herself restored to the company of rational beings,
but greatly admired Charles's sentiments and the ability with which
he put them forward, and now and then the thought struck her, and
with a little twinge of pain of which she was ashamed, would Naomi
Darpent be the healer of the wound nearly a year old, and find in
him consolation for the hero of her girlhood? Somehow there would
be a sense of disappointment in them both if so it were.

At length the spires and towers of Douai came in sight, fenced in by
stern lines of fortification according to the science of Vauban--
smooth slopes of glacis, with the terrible muzzles of cannon peeping
out on the summits of the ramparts, and the line of salient angle
and ravelin with the moat around, beautiful though formidable. The
Marquis de Nidemerle had sent a young officer and sergeant's party
to meet the travellers several miles off, and bring them
unquestioned through the outposts of the frontier town, so closely
watched in this time of war, and at about half a mile from the gates
he himself, with a few attendants, rode out all glittering and
clanking in their splendid uniforms and accoutrements. He doffed
his hat with the heavy white plume, and bowed his greeting to the
ladies and clergymen, but both the young Frenchmen, after a military
salute, hastily dismounted and knelt on one knee, while he sprang
from his horse, and then, making the sign of the Cross over his son,
raised him, and folding him in his arms pressed him to his breast
and kissed him on each cheek, not without tears, then repeated the
same greeting with young D'Aubepine. He then kissed the hand of his
belle cousine, whom, of course, he knew already, and bowed almost to
the ground on being presented to Mademoiselle Woodford, a little
less low to Monsieur Archfield, who was glad the embracing was not
to be repeated, politely received Mr. Fellowes, and honoured the
domestic abbe with a kindly word and nod. The gradation was
amusing, and he was a magnificent figure, with his noble horse and
grand military dress, while his fine straight features, sunburnt
though naturally fair, and his tall, powerful frame, well became his
surroundings--'a true white Ribaumont,' as Naomi said, as she looked
at the long fair hair drawn back and tied with ribbon. "He is just
like the portrait of our great-grandfather who was almost killed on
the S. Barthelemi!" However, Naomi had no more time to talk _of_
him, for he rode by her side inquiring for his mother, wife, and
children, but carefully doing the honours to the stranger lady and
gentleman.

Moat and drawbridge there were at Portsmouth, and a sentry at the
entrance, but here there seemed endless guards, moats, bridges, and
gates, and there was a continual presenting of arms and
acknowledging of salutes as the commandant rode in with the
travellers. It was altogether a very new experience in life. They
were lodged in the governor's quarters in the fortress, where the
accommodation for ladies was of the slenderest, and M. de Nidemerle
made many apologies, though he had evidently given up his own
sleeping chamber to the two ladies, who would have to squeeze into
his narrow camp-bed, with Suzanne on the floor, and the last was to
remain there entirely, there being no woman with whom she could have
her meals. The ladies were invited to sup with the staff, and
would, as M. de Nidemerle assured them, be welcomed with the
greatest delight. So Naomi declared that they must make their
toilette do as much justice as possible to their country; and though
full dress was not attainable, they did their best with ribbons and
laces, and the arrangement of her fair locks and Anne's brown ones,
when Suzanne proved herself an adept; the ladies meantime finding no
small amusement in the varieties of swords, pistols, spurs, and
other accoutrements, for which the marquis had apologised, though
Naomi told him that they were the fittest ornaments possible.

"And my cousin Gaspard is a really good man," she said, indicating
to her friend the little shrine with holy-water stoup, ivory
crucifix, print of the Madonna, two or three devotional books, and
the miniatures of mother, wife, and children hung not far off; also
of two young cavaliers, one of whom Naomi explained to be the young
father whom Gaspard could not recollect, the other, that of the
uncle Eustace, last Baron Walwyn and Ribaumont, of whom her own
mother talked with such passionate affection, and whose example had
always been a guiding star to the young marquis.

He came to their door to conduct them down to supper, giving his arm
to Miss Woodford as the greatest stranger, while Miss Darpent was
conducted by a resplendent ducal colonel. The supper-room was in
festal guise, hung round with flags, and the table adorned with
flowers; a band was playing, and never had either Anne or Naomi been
made so much of. All were eagerly talking, Charles especially so,
and Anne thought, with a thrill, "Did he recollect that this was the
very anniversary of that terrible 1st of July?"

It was a beautiful summer evening, and the supper taking place at
five o'clock there was a considerable time to spare afterwards, so
that M. de Nidemerle proposed to show the strangers the place, and
the view from the ramparts.

"In my company you can see all well," he said, "but otherwise there
might be doubts and jealousies."

He took them through the narrow Flemish streets of tall houses with
projecting upper stories, and showed them that seminary which was
popularly supposed in England to be the hotbed of truculent plots,
but where they only saw a quiet academic cloister and an exquisite
garden, green turf, roses and white lilies in full perfection, and
students flitting about in cassocks and square caps, more like an
Oxford scene, as Mr. Fellowes said, than anything he had yet seen.
He was joined by an English priest from his own original
neighbourhood. The Abbe Leblanc found another acquaintance, and
these two accompanied their friends to the ramparts. The marquis
had a great deal to hear from his cousin about his home, and thus it
happened that Charles Archfield and Anne found themselves more
practically alone together than they had yet been. As they looked
at the view over the country, he told her of a conversation that he
had had with an officer now in the French army, but who had served
in the Imperial army against the Turks, and that he had obtained
much useful information.

"Useful?" asked Anne.

"Yes. I have been watching for the moment to tell you, Anne; I have
resolved what to do. I intend to make a few campaigns there against
the enemy of Christendom."

"O Mr. Archfield!" was all she could say.

"See here, I have perceived plainly that to sink down into my lady's
eldest son is no wholesome life for a man with all his powers about
him. I understand now what a set of oafs we were to despise the
poor fellow you wot of, because he was not such a lubber as
ourselves. I have no mind to go through the like."

"You are so different; it could not be the same."

"Not quite; but remember there is nothing for me to do. My father
is still an active man, and I am not old enough to take my part in
public affairs, even if I loved greatly either the Prince of Orange
or King James. I could not honestly draw my sword for either. I
have no estate to manage, my child's inheritance is all in money,
and it would drive me mad, or worse, to go home to be idle. No; I
will fight against the common enemy till I have made me a name, and
won reputation and standing; or if I should not come back, there's
the babe at home to carry on the line."

"Oh, sir! your father and mother--Lucy--all that love you. What
will they say?"

"It would only put them to needless pain to ask them. I shall not.
I shall write explaining all my motives--all except one, and that
you alone know, Anne."

She shuddered a little, and felt him press her arm tightly. They
had fallen a good deal behind the marquis and his cousin, and were
descending as twilight fell into a narrow, dark, lonely street, with
all the houses shut up. "No one has guessed, have they?" she
faltered.

"Not that I know of. But I cannot--no! I can_not_ go home, to have
that castle near me, and that household at Oakwood. I see enough in
my dreams without that."

"See! Ah, yes!"

"Then, Anne, you have suffered then too--guiltless as you are in
keeping my terrible secret! I have often thought and marvelled
whether it were so with you."

She was about to tell him what she had seen, when he began, "There
is one thing in this world that would sweeten and renew my life--and
that?"

Her heart was beating violently at what was so suddenly coming on
her, when at that instant Charles broke off short with "Good
Heavens! What's that?"

On the opposite side of the street, where one of the many churches
stood some way back, making an opening, there was a figure,
essentially the same that Anne had seen at Lambeth, but bare-headed,
clad apparently in something long and white, and with a pale bluish
light on the ghastly but unmistakable features.

She uttered a faint gasping cry scarcely audible, Charles's impulse
was to exclaim, "Man or spirit, stand!" and drawing his sword to
rush across the street; but in that second all had vanished, and he
only struck against closed doors, which he shook, but could not
open.

"Mr. Archfield! Oh, come back! I have seen it before," entreated
Anne; and he strode back, with a gesture of offering her support,
and trembling, she clung to his arm. "It does not hurt," she said.
"It comes and goes--"

"You have seen it before!"

"Twice."

No more could be said, for through the gloom the white plume and
gold-laced uniform of the marquis were seen. He had missed them,
and come back to look for them, beginning to apologise.

"I am confounded at having left Mademoiselle behind.--Comment!"--as
the sound betrayed that Charles was sheathing his sword. "I trust
that Monsieur has met with no unpleasant adventure from my people."

"Oh, no, Monsieur," was the answer, as he added--

"One can never be sure as to these fiery spirits towards an
Englishman in the present state of feeling, and I blame myself
extremely for having permitted myself to lose sight of Monsieur and
Mademoiselle."

"Indeed, sir, we have met with no cause of complaint," said Charles,
adding as if casually, "What is that church?"

"'Tis the Jesuits' Church," replied the governor. "There is the
best preaching in the town, they say, and Jansenists as we are, I
was struck with the Lenten course."

Anne went at once to her room on returning to the house. Naomi, who
was there already, exclaimed at her paleness, and insisted on
administering a glass of wine from what the English called the rere
supper, the French an encas, the substantial materials for which had
been left in the chamber. Then Anne felt how well it had been for
her that her fellows at the palace had been so uncongenial, for she
could hardly help disclosing to Naomi the sight she had seen, and
the half-finished words she had heard. It was chiefly the feeling
that she could not bear Naomi to know of the blood on Charles's hand
which withheld her in her tumult of feeling, and made her only
entreat, "Do not ask me, I cannot tell you." And Naomi, who was
some years older, and had had her own sad experience, guessed
perhaps at one cause for her agitation, and spared her inquiries,
though as Anne, tired out by the long day, and forced by their close
quarters to keep herself still, dropped asleep, strange mutterings
fell from her lips about "The vault--the blood--come back. There he
is. The secret has risen to forbid. O, poor Peregrine!"

Between the July heat, the narrow bed, and the two chamber fellows,
Anne had little time to collect her thoughts, except for the general
impression that if Charles finished what he had begun to say, the
living and the dead alike must force her to refuse, though something
within foreboded that this would cost her more than she yet durst
perceive, and her heart was ready to spring forth and enclose him as
it were in an embrace of infinite tenderness, above all when she
thought of his purpose of going to those fearful Hungarian wars.

But after the hot night, it was a great relief to prepare for an
early start. M. de Nidemerle had decided on sending the travellers
to Tournay, the nearest Spanish town, on the Scheldt, since he had
some acquaintance with the governor, and when no campaign was
actually on foot the courtesies of generous enemies passed between
them. He had already sent an intimation of his intention of
forwarding an English kinswoman of his own with her companions, and
bespoken the good offices of his neighbour, and they were now to set
off in very early morning under the escort of a flag of truce, a
trumpeter, and a party of troopers, commanded by an experienced old
officer with white moustaches and the peaked beard of the last
generation, contrasting with a face the colour of walnut wood.

The marquis himself and his son, however, rode with the travellers
for their first five miles, through a country where the rich green
of the natural growth showed good soil, all enamelled with flowers
and corn crops run wild; but the villages looked deserted, the
remains of burnt barns and houses were frequent, and all along that
frontier, it seemed as if no peaceful inhabitants ventured to
settle, and only brigands often rendered such by misery might prowl
about. The English party felt as if they had never understood what
war could be.

However, in a melancholy orchard run wild, under the shade of an
apple-tree laden with young fruit, backed by a blackened gable half
concealed by a luxuriant untrimmed vine, the avant couriers of the
commandant had cleared a space in the rank grass, and spread a
morning meal, of cold pate, fowl and light wines, in which the
French officers drank to the good journey of their friends, and then
when the horses had likewise had their refreshment the parting took
place with much affection between the cousins. The young Ribaumont
augured that they should meet again when he had to protect Noemi in
a grand descent on Dorsetshire in behalf of James, and she merrily
shook her fist at him and defied him, and his father allowed that
they were a long way from that.

M. de Nidemerle hinted to Mr. Archfield that nobody could tell him
more about the war with the Turks than M. le Capitaine Delaune, who
was, it appeared, a veteran Swiss who had served in almost every
army in Europe, and thus could give information by no means to be
neglected. So that, to Anne's surprise and somewhat to her
mortification, since she had no knowledge of the cause, she saw
Charles riding apart with this wooden old veteran, who sat as
upright as a ramrod on his wiry-looking black horse, leaving her to
the company of Naomi and Mr. Fellowes. Did he really wish not to
pursue the topic which had brought Peregrine from his grave? It
would of course be all the better, but it cost her some terrible
pangs to think so.

There were far more formalities and delays before the travellers
could cross the Tournay bridge across the Scheldt. They were
brought to a standstill a furlong off, and had to wait while the
trumpeter rode forward with the white flag, and the message was
referred to the officer on guard, while a sentry seemed to be
watching over them. Then the officer came to the gateway of the
bridge, and Captain Delaune rode forward to him, but there was still
a long weary waiting in the sun before he came back, after having
shown their credentials to the governor, and then he was accompanied
by a Flemish officer, who, with much courtesy, took them under his
charge, and conducted them through all the defences, over the
bridge, and to the gate where their baggage had to be closely
examined. Naomi had her Bible in her bosom, or it would not have
escaped; Anne heartily wished she had used the same precaution on
her flight from England, but she had not, like her friend, been
warned beforehand.

When within the city there was more freedom, and the Fleming
conducted the party to an inn, where, unlike English inns, they
could not have a parlour to themselves, but had to take their meals
in common with other guests at a sort of table d'hote, and the
ladies had no refuge but their bedroom, where the number of beds did
not promise privacy. An orderly soon arrived with an invitation to
Don Carlos Arcafila to sup with the Spanish governor, and of course
the invitation could not be neglected. The ladies walked about a
little in the town with Mr. Fellowes, looking without appreciation
at the splendid five-towered cathedral, but recollecting with due
English pride that the place had been conquered by Henry VIII.
Thence they were to make for Ostend, where they were certain of
finding a vessel bound for England.

It was a much smaller party that set forth from Tournay than from
Paris, and soon they fell into pairs, Mr. Fellowes and Naomi riding
together, sufficiently out of earshot of the others for Charles to
begin--

"I have not been able to speak to you, Anne, since that strange
interruption--if indeed it were not a dream."

"Oh, sir, it was no dream! How could it be?"

"How could it, indeed, when we both saw it, and both of us awake and
afoot, and yet I cannot believe my senses."

"Oh, I can believe it only too truly! I have seen him twice before.
I thought you said you had."

"Merely in dreams, and that is bad enough."

"Are you sure? for I was up and awake."

"Are _you_ sure? I might ask again. I was asleep in bed, and glad
enough to shake myself awake. Where were you?"

"Once on Hallowmas Eve, looking from the window at Whitehall; once
when waiting with the Queen under the wall of Lambeth Church, on the
night of our flight."

"Did others see him then?"

"I was alone the first time. The next time when he flitted across
the light, no one else saw him; but they cried out at my start. Why
should he appear except to us?"

"That is true," muttered Charles.

"And oh, sir, those two times he looked as he did in life--not
ghastly as now. There can be no doubt now that--"

"What, sweet Anne?"

"Sir, I must tell you! I could bear it no longer, and I _did_
consult the Bishop of Bath and Wells."

"Any more?" he asked in a somewhat displeased voice.

"No one, not a soul, and he is as safe as any of the priests here;
he regards a confession in the same way. Mr. Archfield, forgive me.
He seemed divinely sent to me on that All Saints' day! Oh, forgive
me!" and tears were in her eyes.

"He is Dr. Ken--eh? I remember him. I suppose he is as safe as any
man, and a woman must have some relief. You have borne enough
indeed," said Charles, greatly touched by her tears. "What did he
say?"

"He asked, was I certain of the--death," said she, bringing out the
word with difficulty; "but then I had only seen _it_ at Whitehall;
and these other appearances, in such places too, take away all hope
that it is otherwise!"

"Assuredly," said Charles; "I had not the least doubt at the moment.
I know I ran my sword through his body, and felt a jar that I
believe was his backbone," he said with a shudder, "and he fell
prone and breathless; but since I have seen more of fencing, and
heard more of wounds, the dread has crossed me that I acted as an
inexperienced lad, and that I ought to have tried whether the life
was in him, or if he could be recovered. If so, I slew him twice,
by launching him into that pit. God forgive me!"

"Is it so deep?" asked Anne, shuddering. "I know there is a sort of
step at the top; but I always shunned the place, and never looked
in."

"There are two or three steps at the top, but all is broken away
below. Sedley and I once threw a ball down, and I am sure it
dropped to a depth down which no man could fall and _live_. I
believe there once were underground passages leading to the harbour
on one hand, and out to Portsdown Hill on the other, but that the
communication was broken away and the openings destroyed when Lord
Goring was governor of Portsmouth, to secure the castle. Be that as
it may, he could not have been living after he reached that floor.
I heard the thud, and the jingle of his sword, and it will haunt me
to my dying day."

"And yet you never intended it. You did it in defence of me. You
did not mean to strike thus hard. It was an accident."

"Would that I could so feel it!" he sighed. "Nay, of course I had
no evil design when my poor little wife drove me out to give you her
rag of ribbon, or whatever it was; but I hated as well as despised
the fellow. He had angered me with his scorn--well deserved, as now
I see--of our lubberly ways. She had vexed me with her teasing
commendations--out of harmless mischief, poor child. I hated him
more every time you looked at him, and when I had occasion to strike
him I was glad of it. There was murder in my heart, and I felt as
if I were putting a rat or a weasel out of the way when I threw him
down that pit. God forgive me! Then, in my madness, I so acted
that in a manner I was the death of that poor young thing."

"No, no, sir. Your mother had never thought she would live."

"So they say; but her face comes before me in reproach. There are
times when I feel myself a double murderer. I have been on the
point of telling all to Mr. Fellowes, or going home to accuse
myself. Only the thought of my father and mother, and of leaving
such a blight on that poor baby, has withheld me; but I cannot go
home to face the sight of the castle."

"No," said Anne, choked with tears.

"Nor is there any suspicion of the poor fellow's fate," he added.

"Not that I ever heard."

"His family think him fled, as was like enough, considering the way
in which they treated him," said Charles. "Nor do I see what good
it would do them to know the truth."

"It would only be a grief and bitterness to all."

"I hope I have repented, and that God accepts my forgiveness," said
Charles sadly. "I am banishing myself from all I love, and there is
a weight on me for life; but, unless suspicion falls on others, I do
not feel bound to make it worse for all by giving myself up. Yet
those appearances--to you, to me, to us both! At such a moment,
too, last night!"

"Can it be because of his unhallowed grave?" said Anne, in a low
voice of awe.

"If it were!" said Charles, drawing up his horse for a moment in
thought. "Anne, if there be one more appearance, the place shall be
searched, whether it incriminate me or not. It would be adding to
all my wrongs towards the poor fellow, if that were the case."

"Even if he were found," said Anne, "suspicion would not light on
you. And at home it will be known if he haunts the place. I will--
"

"Nay, but, Anne, he will not interrupt me now. I have much more to
say. I want you to remember that we were sweethearts ere ever I, as
a child of twelve, knew that I was contracted to that poor babe, and
bidden to think only of her. Poor child! I honestly did my best to
love her, so far as I knew how, and mayhap we could have rubbed on
through life passably well as things go. But--but--It skills not
talking of things gone by, except to show that it is a whole heart--
not the reversion of one that is yours for ever, mine only love."

"Oh, but--but--I am no match for you."

"I've had enough of grand matches."

"Your father would never endure it."

"My father would soon rejoice. Besides, if we are wedded here--say
at Ostend--and you make me a home at Buda, or Vienna, or some place
at our winter quarters, as my brave wench will, my father will be
glad enough to see us both at home again."

"No; it cannot be. It would be plain treachery to your parents; Mr.
Fellowes would say so. I am sure he would not marry us."

"There are English chaplains. Is that all that holds you back?"

"No, sir. If the Archbishop of Canterbury were here himself, it
could not make it other than a sin, and an act of mean ingratitude,
for me, the Prince's rocker, to take advantage of their goodness in
permitting you to come and bring me home--to do what would be pain,
grief, and shame to them."

"Never shame."

"What is wrong is shame! Cannot you see how unworthy it would be in
me, and how it would grieve my uncle that I should have done such a
thing?"

"Love would override scruples."

"Not _true_ love."

"True! Then you own to some love for me, Anne."

"I do--not--know. I have guarded--I mean--cast away--I mean--never
entertained any such thought ever since I was old enough to know how
wicked it would be."

"Anne! Anne!" (in an undertone very like rapture), "you have
confessed all! It is no sin _now_. Even you cannot say so."

She hung her head and did not answer, but silence was enough for
him.

"It is enough!" he said; "you will wait. I shall know you are
waiting till I return in such sort that nothing can be denied me.
Let me at least have that promise."

"You need not fear," murmured Anne. "How could I need? The secret
would withhold me, were there nothing else."

"And there is something else? Eh, sweetheart? Is that all I am to
be satisfied with?"

"Oh sir!--Mr. Archfield, I mean--O Charles!" she stammered.

Mr. Fellowes turned round to consult his pupil as to whether the
halt should be made at the village whose peaked roofs were seen over
the fruit trees.

But when Anne was lifted down from the steed it was with no grasp of
common courtesy, and her hand was not relinquished till it had been
fervently kissed.

Charles did not again torment her with entreaties to share his
exile. Mayhap he recognised, though unwillingly, that her judgment
had been right, but there was no small devotion in his whole
demeanour, as they dined, rode, and rested on that summer's day amid
fields of giant haycocks, and hostels wreathed with vines, with long
vistas of sleek cows and plump dappled horses in the sheds behind.
The ravages of war had lessened as they rode farther from the
frontier, and the rich smiling landscape lay rejoicing in the summer
sunshine; the sturdy peasants looked as if they had never heard of
marauders, as they herded their handsome cattle and responded
civilly when a draught of milk was asked for the ladies.

There was that strange sense of Eden felicity that sometimes comes
with the knowledge that the time is short for mutual enjoyment in
full peace. Charles and Anne would part, their future was
undefined; but for the present they reposed in the knowledge of each
other's hearts, and in being together. It was as in their
childhood, when by tacit consent he had been Anne's champion from
the time she came as a little Londoner to be alarmed at rough
country ways, and to be easily scared by Sedley. It had been then
that Charles had first awakened to the chivalry of the better part
of boyhood's nature, instead of following his cousin's lead, and
treating girls as creatures meant to be bullied. Many a happy
reminiscence was shared between the two as they rode together, and
it was not till the pale breadth of sea filled their horizon, broken
by the tall spires and peaked gables and many-windowed steep roofs
of Ostend, that the future was permitted to come forward and trouble
them. Then Anne's heart began to feel that persistence in her
absolute refusal was a much harder thing than at the first, when the
idea was new and strange to her. And there were strange yearnings
that Charles should renew the proposal, mixed with dread of herself
and of her own resolution in case of his doing so. As her
affections embraced him more and more she pictured him sick,
wounded, dying, out of reach of all, among Germans, Hungarians,
Turks,--no one at hand to comfort him or even to know his fate.

There was even disappointment in his acquiescence, though her better
mind told her that it was in accordance with her prayer against
temptation. Moreover, he was of a reserved nature, not apt to
discuss what was once fixed, and perhaps it showed that he respected
her judgment not to try to shake her decision. Though for once love
had carried him away, he might perhaps be grateful to her for
sparing him the perplexities of dragging her about with him and of
giving additional offence to his parents. The affection born of
lifelong knowledge is not apt to be of the vehement character that
disregards all obstacles or possible miseries to the object thereof.
Yet enough feeling was betrayed to make Naomi whisper at night,
"Sweet Nan, are you not some one else's sweet?"

And Anne, now with another secret on her heart, only replied with
embraces, and, "Do not talk of it! I cannot tell how it is to be.
I cannot tell you all."

Naomi was discreet enough only to caress.

With strict formalities at outworks, moat, drawbridge, and gates,
and the customary inquisitorial search of the luggage, the
travellers were allowed to repair to a lofty inn, with the Lion of
Flanders for its sign, and a wide courtyard, the successive outside
galleries covered with luxuriant vines. Here, as usual, though the
party of females obtained one bedroom together, the gentlemen had to
share one vast sleeping chamber with a variety of merchants, Dutch,
Flemish, Spanish, and a few English. Meals were at a great table
d'hote in the public room, opening into the court, and were shared
by sundry Spanish, Belgic, and Swiss officers of the garrison, who
made this their mess-room. Two young English gentlemen, like
Charles Archfield, making the grand tour, whom he had met in Italy,
were delighted to encounter him again, and still more so at the
company of English ladies.

"No wonder the forlorn widower has recovered his spirits!" Anne
heard one say with a laugh that made her blush and turn away; and
there was an outcry that after a monopoly of the fair ones all the
way from Paris, the seats next to them must be yielded.

Anne was disappointed, and could not bring herself to be agreeable
to the obtrusive cavalier with the rich lace cravat and perfumed
hair, both assumed in her honour.

The discussion was respecting the vessels where a passage might be
obtained. The cavaliers were to sail in a couple of days for
London, but another ship would go out of harbour with the tide on
the following day for Southampton, and this was decided on by
acclamation by the Hampshire party, though no good accommodation was
promised them.

There was little opportunity for a tete-a-tetes, for the young men
insisted on escorting the ladies to the picture galleries, palaces,
and gardens, and Charles did not wish to reawaken the observations
that, according to the habits of the time, might not be of the
choicest description. Anne watched him under her eyelashes, and
wondered with beating heart whether after all he intended to return
home, and there plead his cause, for he gave no token of intending
to separate from the rest.

The Hampshire Hog was to sail at daybreak, so the passengers went on
board over night, after supper, when the summer twilight was sinking
down and the far-off west still had a soft golden tint.

Anne felt Charles's arm round her in the boat and grasping her hand,
then pulling off her glove and putting a ring on her finger--all in
silence. She still felt that arm on the deck in the confusion of
men, ropes, and bales of goods, and the shouts and hails on all
sides that nearly deafened her. There was imminent danger of being
hurled down, if not overboard, among the far from sober sailors, and
Mr. Fellowes urged the ladies to go below at once, conducting Miss
Darpent himself as soon as he could ascertain where to go. Anne
felt herself almost lifted down. Then followed a strong embrace, a
kiss on brow, lips, and either cheek, and a low hoarse whisper--"So
best! Mine own! God bless you,"--and as Suzanne came tumbling aft
into the narrow cabin, Anne found herself left alone with her two
female companions, and knew that these blissful days were over.

CHAPTER XXIII: FRENCH LEAVE

"When ye gang awa, Jamie,
Far across the sea, laddie,
When ye gang to Germanie
What will ye send to me, laddie?"

Huntingtower.

Fides was the posy on the ring. That was all Anne could discover,
and indeed only this much with the morning light of the July sun
that penetrated the remotest corners. For the cabin was dark and
stifling, and there was no leaving it, for both Miss Darpent and her
attendant were so ill as to engross her entirely.

She could hardly leave them when there was a summons to a meal in
the captain's cabin, and there she found herself the only passenger
able to appear, and the rest of the company, though intending
civility, were so rough that she was glad to retreat again, and
wretched as the cabin was, she thought it preferable to the deck.

Mr. Fellowes, she heard, was specially prostrated, and jokes were
passing round that it was the less harm, since it might be the worse
for him if the crew found out that there was a parson on board.

Thus Anne had to forego the first sight of her native land, and only
by the shouts above and the decreased motion of the vessel knew when
she was within lee of the Isle of Wight, and on entering the Solent
could encourage her companions that their miseries were nearly over,
and help them to arrange themselves for going upon deck.

When at length they emerged, as the ship lay-to in sight of the red
roofs and white steeples of Southampton, and of the green mazes of
the New Forest, Mr. Fellowes was found looking everywhere for the
pupil whom he had been too miserable to miss during the voyage.
Neither Charles Archfield nor his servant was visible, but Mr.
Fellowes's own man coming forward, delivered to the bewildered tutor
a packet which he said that his comrade had put in his charge for
the purpose. In the boat, on the way to land, Mr. Fellowes read to
himself the letter, which of course filled him with extreme
distress. It contained much of what Charles had already explained
to Anne of his conviction that in the present state of affairs it
was better for so young a man as himself, without sufficient
occupation at home, to seek honourable service abroad, and that he
thought it would spare much pain and perplexity to depart without
revisiting home. He added full and well-expressed thanks for all
that Mr. Fellowes had done for him, and for kindness for which he
hoped to be the better all his life. He enclosed a long letter to
his father, which he said would, he hoped, entirely exonerate his
kind and much-respected tutor from any remissness or any
participation in the scheme which he had thought it better on all
accounts to conceal till the last.

"And indeed," said poor Mr. Fellowes, "if I had had any inkling of
it, I should have applied to the English Consul to restrain him as a
ward under trust. But no one would have thought it of him. He had
always been reasonable and docile beyond his years, and I trusted
him entirely. I should as soon have thought of our President giving
me the slip in this way. Surely he came on board with us."

"He handed me into the boat," said Miss Darpent. "Who saw him last?
Did you, Miss Woodford?"

Anne was forced to own that she had seen him on board, and her
cheeks were in spite of herself such tell-tales that Mr. Fellowes
could not help saying, "It is not my part to rebuke you, madam, but
if you were aware of this evasion, you will have a heavy reckoning
to pay to the young man's parents."

"Sir," said Anne, "I knew indeed that he meant to join the Imperial
army, but I knew not how nor when."

"Ah, well! I ask no questions. You need not justify yourself to
me, young lady; but Sir Philip and Lady Archfield little knew what
they did when they asked us to come by way of Paris. Not that I
regret it on all accounts," he added, with a courteous bow to Naomi
which set her blushing in her turn. He avoided again addressing
Miss Woodford, and she thought with consternation of the prejudice
he might excite against her. It had been arranged between the two
maidens that Naomi should be a guest at Portchester Rectory till she
could communicate with Walwyn, and her father or brother could come
and fetch her.

They landed at the little wharf, among the colliers, and made their
way up the street to an inn, where, after ordering a meal to satisfy
the ravenous sea-appetite, Mr. Fellowes, after a few words with
Naomi, left the ladies to their land toilet, while he went to hire
horses for the journey.

Then Naomi could not help saying, "O Anne! I did not think you
would have done this. I am grieved!"

"You do not know all," said Anne sadly, "or you would not think so
hardly."

"I saw you had an understanding with him. I see you have a new ring
on your finger; but how could I suppose you would encourage an only
son thus to leave his parents?"

"Hush, hush, Naomi!" cried Anne, as the uncontrollable tears broke
out. "Don't you believe that it is quite as hard for me as for them
that he should have gone off to fight those dreadful blood-thirsty
Turks? Indeed I would have hindered him, but that--but that--I know
it is best for him. No! I can't tell you why, but I _know_ it is;
and even to the very last, when he helped me down the companion-
ladder, I hoped he might be coming home first."

"But you are troth-plight to him, and secretly?"

"I am not troth-plight; I know I am not his equal, I told him so,
but he thrust this ring on me in the boat, in the dark, and how
could I give it back!"

Naomi shook her head, but was more than half-disarmed by her
friend's bitter weeping. Whether she gave any hint to Mr. Fellowes
Anne did not know, but his manner remained drily courteous, and as
Anne had to ride on a pillion behind a servant she was left in a
state of isolation as to companionship, which made her feel herself
in disgrace, and almost spoilt the joy of dear familiar recognition
of hill, field, and tree, after her long year's absence, the longest
year in her life, and substituted the sinking of heart lest she
should be returning to hear of misfortune and disaster, sickness or
death.

Her original plan had been to go on with Naomi to Portchester at
once, if by inquiry at Fareham she found that her uncle was at home,
but she perceived that Mr. Fellowes decidedly wished that Miss
Darpent should go first to the Archfields, and something within her
determined first to turn thither in spite of all there was to
encounter, so that she might still her misgivings by learning
whether her uncle was well. So she bade the man turn his horse's
head towards the well-known poplars in front of Archfield House.

The sound of the trampling horses brought more than one well-known
old 'blue-coated serving-man' into the court, and among them a woman
with a child in her arms. There was the exclamation, "Mistress
Anne! Sure Master Charles be not far behind," and the old groom ran
to help her down.

"Oh! Ralph, thanks. All well? My uncle?"

"He is here, with his Honour," and in scarcely a moment more Lucy,
swift of foot, had flown out, and had Anne in her embrace, and
crying out--

"Ah, Charles! my brother! I don't see him."

Anne was glad to have no time to answer before she was in her
uncle's arms. "My child, at last! God bless thee! Safe in soul
and body!"

Sir Philip was there too, greeting Mr. Fellowes, and looking for his
son, and with the cursory assurance that Mr. Archfield was well, and
that they would explain, a hasty introduction of Miss Darpent was
made, and all moved in to where Lady Archfield, more feeble and slow
of movement, had come into the hall, and the nurse stood by with the
little heir to be shown to his father, and Sedley Archfield stood in
the background. It was a cruel moment for all, when the words came
from Mr. Fellowes, "Sir, I have to tell you, Mr. Archfield is not
here. This letter, he tells me, is to explain."

There was an outburst of exclamation, during which Sir Philip
withdrew into a window with his spectacles to read the letter, while
all to which the tutor or Anne ventured to commit themselves was
that Mr. Archfield had only quitted them without notice on board the
Hampshire Hog.

The first tones of the father had a certain sound of relief, "Gone
to the Imperialist army to fight the Turks in Hungary!"

Poor Lady Archfield actually shrieked, and Lucy turned quite pale,
while Anne caught a sort of lurid flush of joy on Sedley Archfield's
features, and he was the first to exclaim, "Undutiful young dog!"

"Tut! tut!" returned Sir Philip, "he might as well have come home
first, and yet I do not know but that it is the best thing he could
do. There might have been difficulties in the way of getting out
again, you see, my lady, as things stand now. Ay! ay! you are in
the right of it, my boy. It is just as well to let things settle
themselves down here before committing himself to one side or the
other. 'Tis easy enough for an old fellow like me who has to let
nothing go but his Commission of the Peace, but not the same for a
stirring young lad; and he is altogether right as to not coming back
to idle here as a rich man. It would be the ruin of him. I am glad
he has the sense to see it. I was casting about to obtain an estate
for him to give him occupation."

"But the wars," moaned the mother; "if he had only come home we
could have persuaded him."

"The wars, my lady! Why, they will be a feather in his cap; and may
be if he had come home, the Dutchman would have claimed him for his,
and let King James be as misguided as he may, I cannot stomach
fighting against his father's son for myself or mine. No, no; it
was the best thing there was for the lad to do. You shall hear his
letter, it does him honour, and you, too, Mr. Fellowes. He could
not have written such a letter when he left home barely a year ago."

Sir Philip proceeded to read the letter aloud. There was a full
explanation of the motives, political and private, only leaving out
one, and that the most powerful of all of those which led Charles
Archfield to absent himself for the present. He entreated pardon
for having made the decision without obtaining permission from his
father on returning home; but he had done so in view of possible
obstacles to his leaving England again, and to the belief that a
brief sojourn at home would cause more grief and perplexity than his
absence. He further explained, as before, his reasons for secrecy
towards his travelling companion, and entreated his father not to
suppose for a moment that Mr. Fellowes had been in any way culpable
for what he could never have suspected; warmly affectionate messages
to mother and sister followed, and an assurance of feeling that 'the
little one' needed for no care or affection while with them.

Lady Archfield was greatly disappointed, and cried a great deal,
making sure that the poor dear lad's heart was still too sore to
brook returning after the loss of his wife, who had now become the
sweetest creature in the world; but Sir Philip's decision that the
measure was wise, and the secrecy under the circumstances so
expedient as to be pardonable, prevented all public blame; Mr.
Fellowes, however, was drawn apart, and asked whether he suspected
any other motive than was here declared, and which might make his
pupil unwilling to face the parental brow, and he had declared that
nothing could have been more exemplary than the whole demeanour of
the youth, who had at first gone about as one crushed, and though
slowly reviving into cheerfulness, had always been subdued, until
quite recently, when the meeting with his old companion had
certainly much enlivened his spirits. Poor Mr. Fellowes had been
rejoicing in the excellent character he should have to give, when
this evasion had so utterly disconcerted him, and it was an infinite
relief to him to find that all was thought comprehensible and
pardonable.

Anne might be thankful that none of the authorities thought of
asking her the question about hidden motives; and Naomi, looking
about with her bright eyes, thought she had perhaps judged too
hardly when she saw the father's approval, and that the mother and
sister only mourned at the disappointment at not seeing the beloved
one.

The Archfields would not hear of letting any of the party go on to
Portchester that evening. Dr. Woodford, who had ridden over for
consultation with Sir Philip, must remain, he would have plenty of
time for his niece by and by, and she and Miss Darpent must tell
them all about the journey, and about Charles; and Anne must tell
them hundreds of things about herself that they scarcely knew, for
not one letter from St. Germain had ever reached her uncle.

How natural it all looked! the parlour just as when she saw it last,
and the hall, with the long table being laid for supper, and the hot
sun streaming in through the heavy casements. She could have
fancied it yesterday that she had left it, save for the plump rosy
little yearling with flaxen curls peeping out under his round white
cap, who had let her hold him in her arms and fondle him all through
that reading of his father's letter. Charles's child! He was her
prince indeed now.

He was taken from her and delivered over to Lady Archfield to be
caressed and pitied because his father would not come home 'to see
his grand-dame's own beauty,' while Lucy took the guests upstairs to
prepare for supper, Naomi and her maid being bestowed in the best
guest-chamber, and Lucy taking her friend to her own, the scene of
many a confabulation of old.

"Oh, how I love it!" cried Anne, as the door opened on the well-
known little wainscotted abode. "The very same beau-pot. One would
think they were the same clove gillyflowers as when I went away."

"O Anne, dear, and you are just the same after all your kings and
queens, and all you have gone through;" and the two friends were
locked in another embrace.

"Kings and queens indeed! None of them all are worth my Lucy."

"And now, tell me all; tell me all, Nancy, and first of all about my
brother. How does he look, and is he well?"

"He looks! O Lucy, he is grown such a noble cavalier; most like the
picture of that uncle of yours who was killed, and that Sir Philip
always grieves for."

"My father always hoped Charley would be like him," said Lucy. "You
must tell him that. But I fear he may be grave and sad."

"Graver, but not sad now."

"And you have seen him and talked to him, Anne? Did you know he was
going on this terrible enterprise?"

"He spoke of it, but never told me when."

"Ah! I was sure you knew more about it than the old tutor man. You
always were his little sweetheart before poor little Madam came in
the way, and he would tell you anything near his heart. Could you
not have stopped him?"

"I think not, Lucy; he gave his reasons like a man of weight and
thought, and you see his Honour thinks them sound ones."

"Oh yes; but somehow I cannot fancy our Charley doing anything for
grand, sound, musty reasons, such as look well marshalled out in a
letter."

"You don't know how much older he is grown," said Anne, again, with
the tell-tale colour in her cheeks. "Besides, he cannot bear to
come home."

"Don't tell me that, Nan. My mother does not see it; but though he
was fond of poor little Madam in a way, and tried to think himself
more so, as in duty bound, she really was fretting and wearing the
very life--no, perhaps not the life, but the temper--out of him.
What I believe it to be the cause is, that my father must have been
writing to him about that young gentlewoman in the island that he is
so set upon, because she would bring a landed estate which would
give Charles something to do. They say that Peregrine Oakshott ran
away to escape wedding his cousin; Charley will banish himself for
the like cause."

"He said nothing of it," said Anne.

"O Anne, I wish you had a landed estate! You would make him happier
than any other, and would love his poor little Phil! Anne! is it
so? I have guessed!" and Lucy kissed her on each cheek.

"Indeed, indeed I have not promised. I know it can never, never be--
and that I am not fit for him. Do not speak of it, Lucy? He spoke
of it once as we rode together--"

"And you could not be so false as to tell him you did not love him?
No, you could not?" and Lucy kissed her again.

"No," faltered Anne; "but I would not do as he wished. I have given
him no troth-plight. I told him it would never be permitted. And
he said no more, but he put this ring on my finger in the boat
without a word. I ought not to wear it; I shall not."

"Oh yes, you shall. Indeed you shall. No one need understand it
but myself, and it makes us sisters. Yes, Anne, Charley was right.
My father will not consent now, but he will in due time, if he does
not hear of it till he wearies to see Charles again. Trust it to
me, my sweet sister that is to be."

"It is a great comfort that you know," said Anne, almost moved to
tell her the greater and more perilous secret that lay in the
background, but withheld by receiving Lucy's own confidence that she
herself was at present tormented by her cousin Sedley's courtship.
He was still, more's the pity, she said, in garrison at Portsmouth,
but there were hopes of his regiment being ere long sent to the Low
Countries, since it was believed to be more than half inclined to
King James. In the meantime he certainly had designs on Lucy's
portion, and as her father never believed half the stories of his
debaucheries that were rife, and had a kindness for his only
brother's orphan, she did not feel secure against his yielding so as
to provide for Sedley without continuance in the Dutch service.

"I could almost follow the example of running away!" said Lucy.

"I suppose," Anne ventured to say, faltering, "that nothing has been
heard of poor Mr. Oakshott."

"Nothing at all. His uncle's people, who have come home from
Muscovy, know nothing of him, and it is thought he may have gone off
to the plantations. The talk is that Mistress Martha is to be
handed on to the third brother, but that she is not willing." It
was clear that there could have been no spectres here, and Lucy went
on, "But you have told me nothing yet of yourself and your doings,
my Anne. How well you look, and more than ever the Court lady, even
in your old travelling habit. Is that the watch the King gave you?"

In private and in public there was quite enough to tell on that
evening for intimate friends who had not met for a year, and one of
whom had gone through so many vicissitudes. Nor were the other two
guests by any means left out of the welcome, and the evening was a
very happy one.

Mr. Fellowes intimated his intention of going himself to Walwyn with
the news of Miss Darpent's arrival, and Naomi accepted the
invitation to remain at Portchester till she could be sent for from
home.

It was not till the next morning that Anne Woodford could be alone
with her uncle. As she came downstairs in the morning she saw him
waiting for her; he held out his hands, and drew her out with him
into the walled garden that lay behind the house.

"Child! dear child!" said he, "you are welcome to my old eyes. May
God bless you, as He has aided you to be faithful alike to Him and
to your King through much trial."

"Ah, sir! I have sorely repented the folly and ambition that would
not heed your counsel."

"No doubt, my maid; but the spirit of humility and repentance hath
worked well in you. I fear me, however, that you are come back to
further trials, since probably Portchester may be no longer our
home."

"Nor Winchester?"

"Nor Winchester."

"Then is this new King going to persecute as in the old times you
talk of? He who was brought over to save the Church!"

"He accepts the English Church, my maid, so far as it accepts him.
All beneficed clergy are required to take the oath of allegiance to
him before the first of August, now approaching, under pain of
losing their preferments. Many of my brethren, even our own Bishop
and Dean, think this merely submission to the powers that be, and
that it may be lawfully done; but as I hear neither the Archbishop
himself, nor my good old friends Doctors Ken and Frampton can
reconcile it to their conscience, any more than my brother Stanbury,
of Botley, nor I, to take this fresh oath, while the King to whom we
have sworn is living. Some hold that he has virtually renounced our
allegiance by his flight. I cannot see it, while he is fighting for
his crown in Ireland. What say you, Anne, who have seen him; did he
treat his case as that of an abdicated prince?"

"No, sir, certainly not. All the talk was of his enjoying his own
again."

"How can I then, consistently with my duty and loyalty, swear to
this William and Mary as my lawful sovereigns? I say not 'tis
incumbent on me to refuse to live under them a peaceful life, but
make oath to them as my King and Queen I cannot, so long as King
James shall live. True, he has not been a friend to the Church, and
has wofully trampled on the rights of Englishmen, but I cannot hold
that this absolves me from my duty to him, any more than David was
freed from duty to Saul. So, Anne, back must we go to the poverty
in which I was reared with your own good father."

Anne might grieve, but she felt the gratification of being talked to
by her uncle as a woman who could understand, as he had talked to
her mother.

"The first of August!" she repeated, as if it were a note of doom.

"Yes; I hear whispers of a further time of grace, but I know not
what difference that should make. A Christian man's oath may not be
broken sooner or later. Well, poverty is the state blessed by our
Lord, and it may be that I have lived too much at mine ease; but I
could wish, dear child, that you were safely bestowed in a house of
your own."

"So do not I," said Anne, "for now I can work for you."

He smiled faintly, and here Mr. Fellowes joined them; a good man
likewise, but intent on demonstrating the other side of the
question, and believing that the Popish, persecuting King had
forfeited his rights, so that there need be no scruple as to
renouncing what he had thrown up by his flight. It was an endless
argument, in which each man could only act according to his own
conscience, and endeavour that this conscience should be as little
biassed as possible by worldly motives or animosity.

Mr. Fellowes started at once with his servant for Walwyn, and Naomi
accompanied the two Woodfords to Portchester. In spite of the
cavalier sentiments of her family, Naomi had too much of the spire
of her Frondeur father to understand any feeling for duty towards
the King, who had so decidedly broken his covenant with his people,
and moreover had so abominably treated the Fellows of Magdalen
College; and her pity for Anne as a sufferer for her uncle's whim
quite angered her friend into hot defence of him and his cause.

The dear old parsonage garden under the gray walls, the honeysuckle
and monthly roses trailing over the porch, the lake-like creek
between it and green Portsdown Hill, the huge massive keep and
towers, and the masts in the harbour, the Island hills sleeping in
blue summer haze--Anne's heart clave to them more than ever for the
knowledge that the time was short and that the fair spot must be
given up for the right's sake. Certainly there was some trepidation
at the thought of the vault, and she had made many vague schemes for
ascertaining that which her very flesh trembled at the thought of
any one suspecting; but these were all frustrated, for since the war
with France had begun, the bailey had been put under repair and
garrisoned by a detachment of soldiers, the vault had been covered
in, there was a sentry at the gateway of the castle, and the postern
door towards the vicarage was fastened up, so that though the parish
still repaired to church through the wide court solitary wanderings
there were no longer possible, nor indeed safe for a young woman,
considering what the soldiery of that period were.

The thought came over her with a shudder as she gazed from her
window at the creek where she remembered Peregrine sending Charles
and Sedley adrift in the boat.

The tide was out, the mud glistened in the moonlight, but nothing
was to be seen more than Anne had beheld on many a summer night
before, no phantom was evoked before her eyes, no elfin-like form
revealed his presence, nor did any spirit take shape to upbraid her
with his unhallowed grave, so close at hand.

No, but Naomi Darpent, yearning for sympathy, came to her side,
caressed her on that summer night, and told her that Mr. Fellowes
had gone to ask her of her father, and though she could never love
again as she had once loved, she thought if her parents wished it,
she could be happy with so good a man.

CHAPTER XXIV: IN THE MOONLIGHT

I have had a dream this evening,
While the white and gold were fleeting,
But I need not, need not tell it.
Where would be the good?

Requiescat in Pace.--JEAN INGELOW.

Anne Woodford sat, on a sultry summer night, by the open window in
Archfield House at Fareham, busily engaged over the tail of a kite,
while asleep in a cradle in the corner of the room lay a little boy,
his apple-blossom cheeks and long flaxen curls lying prone upon his
pillow as he had tossed when falling asleep in the heat.

The six years since her return had been eventful. Dr. Woodford had
adhered to his view that his oath of allegiance could not be
forfeited by James's flight; and he therefore had submitted to be
ousted from his preferments, resigning his pleasant prebendal house,
and his sea-side home, and embracing poverty for his personal oath's
sake, although he was willing to acquiesce in the government of
William and Mary, and perhaps to rejoice that others had effected
what he would not have thought it right to do.

Things had been softened to him as regarded his flock by the
appointment of Mr. Fellowes to Portchester, which was a Crown
living, though there had been great demur at thus slipping into a
friend's shoes, so that Dr. Woodford had been obliged to asseverate
that nothing so much comforted him as leaving the parish in such
hands, and that he blamed no man for seeing the question of Divine
right as he did in common with the Non-jurors. The appointment
opened the way to the marriage with Naomi Darpent, and the pair were
happily settled at Portchester.

Dr. Woodford and his niece found a tiny house at Winchester, near
the wharf, with the clear Itchen flowing in front and the green
hills rising beyond, while in the rear were the ruins of Wolvesey,
and the buildings of the Cathedral and College. They retained no
servant except black Hans, poor Peregrine's legacy, who was an
excellent cook, and capable of all that Anne could not accomplish in
her hours of freedom.

It was a fall indeed from her ancient aspirations, though there was
still that bud of hope within her heart. The united means of uncle
and niece were so scanty that she was fain to offer her services
daily at Mesdames Reynaud's still flourishing school, where the
freshness of her continental experiences made her very welcome.

Dr. Woodford occasionally assisted some student preparing for the
university, but this was not regular occupation, and it was poorly
paid, so that it was well that fifty pounds a year went at least
three times as far as it would do in the present day. Though his
gown and cassock lost their richness and lustre, he was as much
respected as ever. Bishop Mews often asked him to Wolvesey, and
allowed him to assist the parochial clergy when it was not necessary
to utter the royal name, the vergers marshalled him to his own stall
at daily prayers, and he had free access to Bishop Morley's
Cathedral library.

The Archfield family still took a house in the Close for the winter
months, and there a very sober-minded and conventional courtship of
Lucy took place by Sir Edmund Nutley, a worthy and well-to-do
gentleman settled on the borders of Parkhurst Forest, in the Isle of
Wight.

Anne, with the thought of her Charles burning within her heart, was
a little scandalised at the course of affairs. Sir Edmund was a
highly worthy man, but not in his first youth, and ponderous--a
Whig, moreover, and an intimate friend of the masterful governor of
the island, Lord Cutts, called the "Salamander." He had seen Miss
Archfield before at the winter and spring Quarter Sessions, and
though her father was no longer in the Commission of the Peace, the
residence at Winchester gave him opportunities, and the chief
obstacle seemed to be the party question. He was more in love than
was the lady, but she was submissive, and believed that he would be
a kind husband. She saw, too, that her parents would be much
disappointed and displeased if she made any resistance to so
prosperous a settlement, and she was positively glad to be out of
reach of Sedley's addresses. Such an entirely unenthusiastic
acceptance was the proper thing, and it only remained to provide for
Lady Archfield's comfort in the loss of her daughter.

For this the elders turned at once to Anne Woodford. Sir Philip
made it his urgent entreaty that the Doctor and his niece would take
up their abode with him, and that Anne would share with the
grandmother the care of the young Philip, a spirited little fellow
who would soon be running wild with the grooms, without the
attention that his aunt had bestowed on him.

Dr. Woodford himself was much inclined to accept the office of
chaplain to his old friend, who he knew would be far happier for his
company; and Anne's heart bounded at the thought of bringing up
Charles's child, but that very start of joy made her blush and
hesitate, and finally surprise the two old gentlemen by saying, with
crimson cheeks--

"Sir, your Honour ought to know what might make you change your
mind. There have been passages between Mr. Archfield and me."

Sir Philip laughed. "Ah, the rogue! You were always little
sweethearts as children. Why, Anne, you should know better than to
heed what a young soldier says."

"No doubt you have other views for your son," said Dr. Woodford,
"and I trust that my niece has too much discretion and sense of
propriety to think that they can be interfered with on her account."

"Passages!" repeated Sir Philip thoughtfully. "Mistress Anne, how
much do you mean by that? Surely there is no promise between you?"

"No, sir," said Anne; "I would not give any; but when we parted in
Flanders he asked me to--to wait for him, and I feel that you ought
to know it."

"Oh, I understand!" said the baronet. "It was only natural to an
old friend in a foreign land, and you have too much sense to dwell
on a young man's folly, though it was an honourable scruple that
made you tell me, my dear maid. But he is not come or coming yet,
more's the pity, so there is no need to think about it at present."

Anne's cheeks did not look as if she had attained that wisdom; but
her conscience was clear, since she had told the fact, and the
father did not choose to take it seriously. To say how she herself
loved Charles would have been undignified and nothing to the
purpose, since her feelings were not what would be regarded, and
there was no need to mention her full and entire purpose to wed no
one else. Time enough for that if the proposal were made.

So the uncle and niece entered on their new life, with some loss of
independence, and to the Doctor a greater loss in the neighbourhood
of the Cathedral and its library; for after the first year or two,
as Lady Archfield grew rheumatic, and Sir Philip had his old friend
to play backgammon and read the Weekly Gazette, they became
unwilling to make the move to Winchester, and generally stayed at

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