Part 2 out of 6
do I think that, even for the purpose of carrying his cloak, our master
would take you with him constantly of an evening. He seems mighty
anxious too, for you to learn your way about London. I do not remember
that he showed any such care as to my geographical knowledge. But, of
course, there is a mystery, and I want to get to the bottom of it, and
mean to do so if I can."
"Even supposing that there was a mystery," Harry said, "what good would
it do to you to learn it, and what use would you make of your
"I do not know," the boy said carelessly. "But knowledge is power."
"You see," Harry said, "that supposing there were, as you say, a
mystery, the secret would not be mine to tell, and even were it so
before I told it, I should want to know whether you desired to know it
for the sake of aiding your master, if possible, or of doing him an
"I would do him no injury, assuredly," Jacob said. "Master Fleming is as
good a master as there is in London. I want to find out, because it is
my nature to find out. The mere fact that there is a mystery excites my
curiosity, and compels me to do all in my power to get to the bottom of
it. Methinks that if you have aught that you do not want known, it would
be better to take Jacob Plummer into your confidence. Many a man's head
has been lost before now because he did not know whom to trust."
"There is no question of losing heads in the matter," Harry said,
"Well, you know best," Jacob replied, shrugging his shoulders; "but
heads do not seem very firmly on at present."
When he went out with Master Fleming that evening Harry related to him
the conversation which he had had with Jacob.
"What think you, Master Furness? Is this malapert boy to be trusted, or
"It were difficult to say, sir," Harry answered. "His suspicions are
surely roused, and as it seemed to me that his professions of affection
and duty toward yourself were earnest, methinks that you might enlist
him in your cause, and would find him serviceable hereafter, did you
allow me frankly to speak to him. He has friends among the apprentice
boys, and might, should he be mischievously inclined, set one to follow
us of a night, and learn whither you go; he might even now do much
mischief. I think that it is his nature to love plotting for its own
sake. He would rather plot on your side than against it; but if you will
not have him, he may go against you."
"I have a good mind to send him home to his friends," the merchant said.
"He can know nothing as yet."
"He might denounce me as a Royalist," Harry said; "and you for harboring
me. I will sound him again to-night, and see further into his
intentions. But methinks it would be best to trust him."
That night the conversation was again renewed.
"You see, Jacob," Harry said, "that it would be a serious matter,
supposing what you think to be true, to intrust you with the secret. I
know not whether you are disposed toward king or Parliament, and to put
the lives of many honorable gentlemen into the hands of one of whose
real disposition I know little would be but a fool's trick."
"You speak fairly, Roger," the boy said. "Indeed, What I said to you was
true. I trouble my head in no Way as to the politics and squabbles of
the present day; but I mean to rise some day, and there is no better way
to rise than to be mixed up in a plot. It is true that the rise may be
to the gallows; but if one plays for high stakes, one must risk one's
purse. I love excitement, and believe that I am no fool. I can at least
be true to the side that I engage upon, and of the two, would rather
take that of the king than of the Parliament, because it seems to me
that there are more fools on his side than on the other, and therefore
more chance for a wise head to prosper."
"You have no small opinion of yourself, Master Jacob."
"No," the boy said; "I always found myself able to hold my own. My
father, who is a scrivener, predicted me that I should either come to
wealth or be hanged, and I am of the same opinion myself."
After further conversation next day with the merchant, Harry frankly
confided to Jacob that evening that he was the bearer of letters from
the king. Of their contents he said that he knew nothing; but had reason
to believe that another movement was on foot for bringing about the
overthrow of the party of Puritans who were in possession of the
government of London.
"I deemed that such was your errand," the boy said. "You played your
part well; but not well enough. You might have deceived grown-up people;
but you would hardly take in a boy of your own age. Now that you have
told me frankly, I will, if I can, do anything to aid. I care nothing
for the opinions of one side or the other; but as I have to go to the
cathedral three times on Sunday, and to sit each time for two hours
listening to the harangues of Master Ezekiel Proudfoot, I would gladly
join in anything which would be likely to end by silencing that fellow
and his gang. It is monstrous that, upon the only day in the week we
have to ourselves, we should be compelled to undergo the punishment of
listening to these long-winded divines."
When Harry was not engaged in taking notes, backward and forward,
between the merchant and those with whom he was negotiating, he was
occupied in the shop. There the merchant kept up appearances before the
scrivener and any customers who might come in, by instructing him in the
mysteries of his trade; by showing him the value of the different
velvets and silks; and by teaching him his private marks, by which, in
case of the absence of the merchant or his apprentice, he could state
the price of any article to a trader who might come in. Harry judged, by
the conversations which he had with his host, that the latter was not
sanguine as to the success of the negotiations which he was carrying on.
"If," he said, "the king could obtain one single victory, his friends
would raise their heads, and would assuredly be supported by the great
majority of the population, who wish only for peace; but so long as the
armies stood facing each other, and the Puritans are all powerful in the
Parliament and Council of the city, men are afraid to be the first to
move, not being sure how popular support would be given."
One evening after work was over Harry and Jacob walked together up the
Cheap, and took their place among a crowd listening to a preacher at
Paul's Cross. He was evidently a popular character, and a large number
of grave men, of the straitest Puritan appearance, were gathered round
"I wish we could play some trick with these somber-looking knaves,"
"Yes," Harry said; "I would give much to be able to do so; but at the
present moment I scarcely wish to draw attention upon myself."
"Let us get out of this, then," Jacob said, "if there is no fun to be
had. I am sick of these long-winded orations."
They turned to go, and as they made their way through the crowd, Harry
trod upon the toe of a small man in a high steeple hat and black coat.
"I beg your pardon," Harry said, as there burst from the lips of the
little man an exclamation which was somewhat less decorous than would
have been expected from a personage so gravely clad. The little man
stared Harry in the face, and uttered another exclamation, this time of
surprise. Harry, to his dismay, saw that the man with whom he had come
in contact was the preacher whom he had left gagged on the guardroom bed
"A traitor! A spy!" shouted the preacher, at the top of his voice,
seizing Harry by the doublet. The latter shook himself free just as
Jacob, jumping in the air, brought his hand down with all his force on
the top of the steeple hat, wedging it over the eyes of the little man.
Before any further effort could be made to seize them, the two lads
dived through the crowd, and dashed down a lane leading toward the
This sudden interruption to the service caused considerable excitement,
and the little preacher, on being extricated from his hat, furiously
proclaimed that the lad he had seized, dressed as an apprentice, was a
malignant, who had bean taken prisoner at Brentford, and who had foully
ill-treated him in a cell in the guardroom at Finsbury. Instantly a
number of men set off in pursuit.
"What had we best do, Jacob?" Harry said, as he heard the clattering of
feet behind them.
"We had best jump into a boat," Jacob said, "and row for it. It is dark
now, and we shall soon be out of their sight."
At the bottom of the lane were some stairs, and at these a number of
boats. As it was late in the evening, and the night a foul one, the
watermen, not anticipating fares, had left, and the boys, leaping into a
boat, put out the sculls, and rowed into the stream, just as their
pursuers were heard coming down the lane.
"Which way shall we go?" Harry said.
"We had better shoot the bridge," Jacob replied. "Canst row well?"
"Yes," Harry said; "I have practiced at Abingdon with an oar."
"Then take the sculls," Jacob said, "and I will steer. It is a risky
matter going through the bridge, I tell you, at half tide. Sit steady,
whatever you do. Here they come in pursuit, Roger. Bend to the sculls,"
and in a couple of minutes they reached the bridge.
"Steady, steady," shouted Jacob, as the boat shot a fall, some eight
feet in depth, with the rapidity of an arrow. For a moment it was tossed
and whirled about in the seething waves below, and then, thanks to
Jacob's presence of mind and Harry's obedience to his orders, it emerged
safely into the smooth water below the bridge. Harry now gave up one of
the sculls to Jacob, and the two boys rowed hard down the stream.
"Will they follow, think you?" Harry said.
"I don't think," Jacob laughed, "that any of those black-coated gentry
will care for shooting the bridge. They will run down below, and take
boat there; and as there are sure to be hands waiting to carry fares out
to the ships in the pool, they will gain fast upon us when ones they are
The wind was blowing briskly with them, and the tide running strong, and
at a great pace they passed the ships lying at anchor.
"There is the Tower," Jacob said; "with whose inside we may chance to
make acquaintance, if we are caught, Look," he said, "there is a boat
behind us, rowed by four oars! I fear that it is our pursuers."
"Had we not better land, and take our chance?" Harry said.
"We might have done so at first," Jacob said; "it is too late now. We
must row for it. Look," he continued, "there is a bark coming along
after the boat. She has got her sails up already, and the wind is
bringing her along grandly. She sails faster than they row, and if she
comes up to us before they overtake us, it may be that the captain will
take us in tow. These sea-dogs are always kindly."
The boat that the boys had seized was, fortunately, a very light and
fast one, while that in pursuit was large and heavy, and the four
watermen had to carry six sitters. Consequently, they gained but very
slowly upon the fugitives. Presently a shot from a pistol whizzed over
the boys' heads.
"I did not bargain for this, friend Roger," Jacob said. "My head is made
rather for plots and conspiracies than for withstanding the contact of
"Row away!" Harry said. "Here is the ship just alongside now."
As the vessel, which was a coaster, came along, the crew looked over the
side, their attention, being called by the sound of the pistol and the
shouts of those in chase.
"Throw us a rope, sir," Jacob shouted. "We are not malefactors, but have
been up to a boyish freak, and shall be heavily punished if we are
Again the pistol rang out behind, and one of the Sailors threw a rope to
the boys. It was caught, and in a minute the boat was gliding rapidly
along in the wake of the ship. She was then pulled up alongside, the
boys clambered on board, and the boat was sent adrift, The pursuers
continued the chase for a few minutes longer, but seeing the ship
gradually drawing away from them, they desisted, and turned in toward
"And who are you?" the captain of the brig said.
"We are apprentices, as you see," Jacob said. "We were listening to some
preaching at Paul's Cross. In trying to get out from the throng--being
at length weary of the long-winded talk of the preacher--we trod upon
the feet of a worthy divine. He, refusing to receive our apologies, took
the matter roughly, and seeing that the crowd of Puritans around were
going to treat us as malignant roisterers, we took the liberty of
driving the hat of our assailant over his eyes, and bolting. Assuredly,
had we been caught, we should have been put in the stocks and whipped,
even if worse pains and penalties had not befallen us, for ill-treatment
of one of those who are now the masters of London."
"It was a foolish freak," the captain said, "and in these days such
freaks are treated as crimes. It is well that I came along. What do you
purpose to do now?"
"We would fain be put ashore, sir, somewhere in Kent, so that we may
make our way back again. Our figures could not have been observed beyond
that we were apprentices, and we can enter the city quietly, without
fear of detection."
The wind dropped in the evening, and, the tide turning, the captain
brought to anchor. In the morning he sailed forward again. When he
neared Gravesend he saw a vessel lying in the stream.
"That is a Parliament ship," he said.
At that moment another vessel of about the same size as that in which
they were was passing her. She fired a gun, and the ship at once dropped
her sails and brought up.
"What can she be doing now, arresting the passage of ships on their way
down? If your crime had been a serious one, I should have thought that a
message must have been brought down in the night for her to search
vessels coming down stream for the persons of fugitives. What say you,
lads? Have you told me the truth?"
"We have told you the truth, sir," Harry said; "but not the whole truth.
The circumstances are exactly as my friend related them. But he omitted
to say that the preacher recognized in me one of a Cavalier family, and
that they may suspect that I was in London on business of the king's."
"Is that so?" the captain said. "In that case, your position is a
perilous one. It is clear that they do not know the name of the ship in
which you are embarked, or they would not have stopped the one which we
see far ahead. If they search the ship, they are sure to find you."
"Can you swim, Jacob?" Harry asked the other.
"There is a point," Harry said, "between this and the vessel of war, and
if you sail close to that you will for a minute or two be hidden from
the view of those on her deck. If you will take your ship close to that
corner we will jump overboard and swim on shore. If then your vessel is
stopped you can well say that you have no fugitives on board, and let
The captain thought the plan a good one, and at once the vessel's head
was steered over toward the side to which Harry had pointed. As they
neared the corner they for a minute lost sight of the hull of the
man-of-war, and the boys, with a word of thanks and farewell to the
captain, plunged over and swam to the bank, which was but some thirty
yards away. Climbing it, they lay down among the grass, and watched the
progress of the vessel. She, like the one before, was brought up by a
gun from the man-of-war, and a boat from the latter put out and remained
by her side for half an hour. Then they saw the boat return, the vessel
hoist her sails again, and go on her way.
"This is a nice position into which you have brought me, Master Roger,"
Jacob said. "My first step in taking part in plots and conspiracies does
not appear to me to lead to the end which I looked for. However, I am
sick of the shop, and shall be glad of a turn of freedom. How let us
make our way across the marshes to the high land. It is but twenty miles
to walk to London, if that be really your intent."
"I shall not return to London myself," Harry said; "but shall make my
way back to Oxford. It would be dangerous now for me to appear, and I
doubt not that a sharp hue and cry will be kept up. In your case it is
different, for as you have been long an apprentice, and as your face
will be entirely unknown to any of them, there will be little chance of
your being detected."
"I would much rather go with you to Oxford," the lad said. "I am weary
of velvets and silks, and though I do not know that wars and battles
will be more to my taste, I would fain try them also. You are a
gentleman, and high in the trust of the king and those around him. If
you will take me with you as your servant I will be a faithful knave to
you, and doubt not that as you profit by your advantages, some of the
good will fall to my share also."
"In faith," Harry said, "I should hardly like you to be my servant,
Jacob, although I have no other office to bestow at present. But if you
come with me you shall be rather in the light of a major-domo, though I
have no establishment of which you can be the head. In these days,
however, the distinctions of master and servant are less broad than
before, and in the field we shall be companions rather than master and
follower. So, if you like to cast in your fortunes with mine, here is my
hand on it. You have already proved your friendship to me as well as
your quickness and courage, and believe me, you will not find me or my
father ungrateful. But for you, I should now be in the cells, and your
old master in no slight danger of finding himself in prison, to say
nothing of the upset of the negotiations for which I came to London.
Therefore, you have deserved well, not only of me, but of the king, and
the adventure may not turn out so badly as it has begun. We had best
strike south, and go round by Tunbridge, and thence keeping west, into
Berkshire, and so to Oxford. In this way we shall miss the Parliament
men lying round London, and those facing the Royalists between Reading
This order was carried out. The lads met with but few questioners, and
replying always that they were London apprentices upon their way home to
visit their friends for a short time, passed unsuspected. At first the
want of funds had troubled them, for Harry had forgotten the money sewn
up in his shoe. But presently, remembering this, and taking two gold
pieces out of their hiding-place, they went merrily along the road and
in five days from starting arrived at Oxford.
IN A HOT PLACE.
Making inquiries, Harry found that his father was living at a house in
the college of Brazenose, and thither he made his way. Not a little
surprised was the trooper, who was on guard before the door, to
recognize his master's son in one of the two lads who, in the clothes of
apprentices shrunk with water and stained with mud and travel, presented
themselves before him. Harry ascended at once to Sir Henry's room, and
the latter was delighted to see him again, for he had often feared that
be had acted rashly in sending him to London. Harry briefly told his
adventures, and introduced his friend Jacob to his father.
Sir Henry immediately sent for a clothier, and Harry was again made
presentable; while a suit of serviceable clothes adapted to the position
of a young gentleman of moderate means was obtained for Jacob. Then,
accompanied by his son, Sir Henry went to the king's chambers, and
informed his majesty of all that had happened. As, from the reports
which had reached the king of the temper of the people of London, he had
but small hope that anything would come of the attempt that was being
made, he felt but little disappointed at hearing of the sudden return of
his emissary. Harry was again asked in, and his majesty in a few words
expressed to him his satisfaction at the zeal and prudence which he had
shown, and at his safe return to court.
On leaving the king Harry awaited anxiously what his father would
determine concerning his future, and was delighted when Sir Henry said,
"It is now a year once these troubles began, Harry, and you have so far
embarked upon them, that I fear you would find it difficult to return to
your studies. You have proved yourself possessed of qualities which will
enable you to make your way in the world, and I therefore think the time
has come when you can take your place in the ranks. I shall ask of the
king a commission for you as captain in my regiment, and as one of my
officers has been killed you will take his place, and will have the
command of a troop."
Harry was delighted at this intimation; and the following day received
the king's commission.
A few days afterward he had again to ride over to Furness Hall, which
was now shut up, to collect some rents, and as he returned through
Abingdon he saw Lucy Rippinghall walking in the streets. Rather proud of
his attire as a young cavalier in full arms, Harry dismounted and
courteously saluted her.
"I should hardly have known you, Master Furness," she said. "You look so
fierce in your iron harness, and so gay with your plumes and ribands. My
brother would be glad to see you. My father as you know, is away. Will
you not come in for a few minutes?"
Harry, after a few moments' hesitation, assented. Ha longed to see his
old friend, and as the latter was still residing at Abingdon, while he
himself had already made his mark in the royal cause, he did not fear
that any misconstruction could be placed upon his visit to the Puritan's
abode. Herbert received him with a glad smile of welcome.
"Ah, Harry," he said, "so you have fairly taken to man's estate. Of
course, I think you have done wrong; but we need not argue on that now.
I am glad indeed to see you. Lucy," he said, "let supper be served at
It was a pleasant meal, and the old friends chatted of their schooldays
and boyish pastimes, no allusion being made to the events of the day,
save that Herbert said, "I suppose that you know that my father is now a
captain in the force of the Commons, and that I am doing my best to keep
his business going during his absence."
"I had heard as much," Harry answered. "It is a heavy weight to be
placed on your shoulders, Herbert."
"Yes," he said, "I am growing learned in wools, and happily the business
is not falling off in my hands."
It was characteristic of the civil war in England that during the whole
time of its existence the affairs of the country went on as usual.
Business was conducted, life and property were safe, and the laws were
enforced just as before. The judges went their circuits undisturbed by
the turmoil of the times, acting under the authority alike of the Great
Seals of the King and Parliament. Thus evildoers were repressed, crime
put down, and the laws of the land administered just as usual, and as if
no hostile armies were marching and fighting on the fair fields of
England. In most countries during such troubled times, all laws have
been at an end, bands of robbers and disbanded soldiers have pillaged
and ruined the country, person and property alike have been unsafe,
private broils and enmities have broken forth, and each man has carried
his life in his hand. Thus, even in Abingdon, standing as it did halfway
between the stronghold of the crown at Oxford, and the Parliament army
at Reading, things remained quiet and tranquil. Its fairs and markets
were held as usual, and the course of business went on unchecked.
On his return to Oxford Harry learned that the king, with a portion of
the army, was to set out at once for Gloucester, to compel that city,
which had declared for the Commons, to open its gates. With a force of
thirteen thousand men the king moved upon Gloucester. When he arrived
outside its walls, on the 10th of August, he sent a summons to the town
to surrender, offering pardon to the inhabitants, and demanding an
answer within two hours. Clarendon has described how the answer was
returned. "Within less than the time described, together with a
trumpeter, returned two citizens from the town with lean, pale, sharp,
and bad visages, indeed, faces so strange and unusual, and in such a
garb and posture, that at once made the most severe countenances merry,
and the most cheerful heart sad, for it was impossible such ambassadors
could bring less than a defiance. The men, without any circumstance of
duty or good manners, in a pert, shrill, undismayed accent, said that
they brought an answer from the godly city of Gloucester to the king,
and were so ready to give insolent and seditious answers to any
questions, as if their business were chiefly to provoke the king to
violate his own safe-conduct." The answers which these strange
messengers brought was that the inhabitants and soldiers kept the city
for the use of his majesty, but conceived themselves "only bound to obey
the commands of his majesty signified by both houses of Parliament."
Setting fire to the houses outside their walls, the men of Gloucester
prepared for a resolute resistance. The walls were strong and well
defended, and the king did not possess artillery sufficient to make
breaches therein, and dreading the great loss which an assault upon the
walls would inflict upon his army, he determined to starve the city into
submission. The inhabitants, although reduced to sore straits, yet
relying upon assistance coming to them, held out, and their hopes were
not disappointed, as Essex, at the head of a great army, was sent from
London to relieve the place. Upon his approach, the king and his
councilors, deciding that a battle could not be fought with advantage,
drew off from the town, and gave up the siege.
Both armies now moved in the direction of London; but Prince Rupert,
hearing that a small body of Parliament horse were besieging the house
of Sir James Strangford, an adherent of the crown, took with him fifty
horse, and rode away to raise the siege, being ever fond of dashing
exploits in the fashion of the knights of old. The body which he chose
to accompany him was the troop commanded by Harry Furness, whose gayety
of manner and lightness of heart had rendered him a favorite with the
prince. The besieged house was situated near Hereford; and at the end of
a long day's march Prince Rupert, coming in sight of the Roundheads,
charged them with such fury that they were overthrown with scarce any
resistance, and fled in all directions. Having effected his object, the
prince now rode to Worcester, where he slept, and thence by a long day's
march to a village where he again halted for the night.
An hour after his arrival, a messenger came in from Lady Sidmouth, the
wife of Sir Henry Sidmouth, asking him to ride over and take up his
abode for the night at her house. Bidding Harry accompany him, the
prince rode off, leaving the troop under the charge of Harry's
lieutenant, Jacob, who had proved himself an active soldier, and had
been appointed to that rank at Gloucester. The house was a massive
structure of the reign of Henry VIII.; but being built at a time when
the castellated abodes were going out of fashion, was not capable of
standing a siege, and had not indeed been put in any posture of defense.
Sir Henry was with the king, and only a few retainers remained in the
house. Prince Rupert was received at the entrance by Lady Sidmouth, who
had at her side her daughter, a girl of fourteen, whom Harry thought the
most beautiful creature he had ever seen. The prince alighted, and
doffing his broad plumed hat, kissed the lady's hand, and conducted her
into the house again, Harry doing the same to her daughter.
"You must pardon a rough reception," the lady said to the prince. "Had I
had notice of your coming, I would have endeavored to receive you in a
manner more befitting; but hearing from one of my retainers, who
happened to be in the village when you arrived, of your coming, I
thought that the accommodation--poor as it is--would be better than that
which you could obtain there."
Prince Rupert replied gayly, and in a few minutes they were seated at
supper. The conversation was lightly kept up, when suddenly a tremendous
crash was heard, shouts of alarm were raised, and a retainer rushed into
the hall, saying that the place was attacked by a force of Roundheads.
"Defense is hopeless," the lady said, as Prince Rupert and Harry drew
their swords. "There are but five or six old men here, and the door
appears to be already yielding. There is a secret chamber here where you
can defy their search."
Prince Rupert, dreading above all things to be taken prisoner, and
seeing that resistance would be, as their hostess said, vain, followed
her into an adjoining room hung with arras. Lifting this, she showed a
large stone. Beneath it, on the floor was a tile, in no way differing
from the others. She pressed it, and the stone, which was but slight,
turned on a hinge, and disclosed an iron door. This she opened with a
spring, showing a small room within, with a ladder leading to another
"Mount that," she said. "You will find in the chamber above a large
stone. Pull the ladder up with you and lower the stone, which exactly
fits into the opening. Even should they discover this chamber, they will
not suspect that another lies above it."
Prince Rupert, taking a light from her hands, hastily mounted, followed
by Harry, and pulled the steps after him, just as they heard the iron
door close. It needed the united strength of the prince and Harry to
lift the stone, which was a large one, with an iron ring in the center,
and to place it in the cavity. Having done this, they looked round. The
room was about eight feet long by six wide, and lighted by a long narrow
loophole extending from the ground to the roof. They deemed from its
appearance that it was built in one of the turrets of the building.
"That was a narrow escape, Master Harry," the prince said. "It would
have been right bad news for my royal uncle if I had been caught here
like a rat in a trap. I wonder we heard nothing of a Roundhead force in
this neighborhood. I suppose that they must have been stationed at some
place further north, and that the news of our passing reached them. I
trust that they have no suspicion that we are in the house; but I fear,
from this sudden attack upon an undefended building, that some spy from
the village must have taken word to them."
Lady Sidmouth had just time to return to the hall when the doors gave
way, and a body of Roundheads burst into the room. They had drawn swords
in their hands, and evidently expected an attack. They looked round with
surprise at seeing only Lady Sidmouth and her daughter.
"Where is the malignant Rupert?" the leader exclaimed. "We have sure
news that he rode, attended by an officer only, hither, and that he was
seen to enter your house."
"If you want Prince Rupert, you must find him," the lady said calmly.
"I say not that he has not been here; but I tell you that he is now
beyond your reach."
"He has not escaped," the officer said, "for the house is surrounded.
Now, madam, I insist upon your telling me where you have hidden him."
"I have already told you, sir, that he is beyond your reach, and nothing
that you can do will wring any further explanation from me."
The officer hesitated. For a moment he advanced a step toward her, with
a menacing gesture. But, heated as the passions of men were, no violence
was done to women, and with a fierce exclamation he ordered his troopers
to search the house. For a quarter of an hour they ransacked it high and
low, overturned every article of furniture, pulling down the arras, and
tapping the walls with the hilts of their swords.
"Take these two ladies away," he said to his lieutenant, "and ride with
them at once to Storton. They will have to answer for having harbored
The ladies were immediately taken off, placed on pillions behind two
troopers, and carried away to Storton. In the meantime the search went
on, and presently the hollow sound given by the slab in the wall was
noticed. The spring could not be discovered, but crowbars and hammers
being brought, the slab of stone was presently shivered. The discovery
of the iron door behind it further heightened their suspicion that the
place of concealment was found. The door, after a prolonged resistance,
was battered in. But the Roundheads were filled with fury, on entering,
to discover only a small, bare cell, with no signs of occupation
whatever. The search was now prolonged in other directions; but,
becoming convinced that it was useless, and that the place of
concealment was too cunningly devised to admit of discovery, the
captain ordered the furniture to be piled together, and setting light to
it and the arras in several places, withdrew his men from the house,
saying that if a rat would not come out of his hole, he must be smoked
The prince and Harry from their place of concealment had heard the sound
of blows against the doors below.
"They have found the way we have gone," the prince said, "but I think
not that their scent is keen enough to trace us up here. If they do so,
we will sell our lives dearly, for I will not be taken prisoner, and
sooner or later our troop will hear of the Roundheads' attack, and will
come to our rescue."
They heard the fall of the iron door, and the exclamations and cries
with which the Roundheads broke into the room below. Then faintly they
heard the sound of voices, and muffled knocks, as they tried the walls.
Then all was silent again.
"The hounds are thrown off the scent," the prince said. "It will need a
clever huntsman to put them on it. What will they do next, I wonder?"
Some time passed, and then Harry exclaimed:
"I perceive a smell of something burning, your royal highness."
"Peste! methinks I do also," the prince said. "I had not thought of
that. If these rascals have set fire to the place we shall be roasted
A slight wreath of smoke was seen curling up through the crevice of the
"We will leap out, and die sword in hand," the prince said; and seizing
the ring, he and Harry pulled at it. Ere they raised the stone an inch,
a volume of dense smoke poured up, and they at once dropped it into its
place again, feeling that their retreat was cut off. The prince put his
sword in its scabbard.
"We must die, my lad," he said. "A strange death, too, to be roasted in
a trap. But after all, whether by that or the thrust of a Roundhead
sword makes little difference in the end. I would fain have fallen in
the field, though."
"Perhaps," Harry suggested, "the fire may not reach us here. The walls
are very thick, and the chamber below is empty."
The prince shook his head.
"The heat of the fire in a house like this will crack stone walls," he
He then took off his cloak and threw it over the stone, dressing it down
tightly to prevent the smoke from curling in. Through the loophole they
could now hear a roar, and crackling sounds, and a sudden glow lit up
"The flames are bursting through the windows," Harry said. "They will
bring our troop down ere long."
"The troop will do us no good," Prince Rupert replied. "All the king's
army could not rescue us. But at least it would be a satisfaction before
we die to see these crop-eared knaves defeated."
Minute after minute passed, and a broad glare of light illumined the
whole country round. Through the slit they could see the Roundheads
keeping guard round the house in readiness to cut off any one who might
seek to make his escape, while at a short distance off they had drawn up
the main body of the force. Presently, coming along the road at a rapid
trot, they saw a body of horse.
"There are our men," the prince exclaimed.
The Roundheads had seen them too. A trumpet was sounded, and the men on
guard round the house leaped to their horses, and joined the main body,
just as the Cavaliers charged upon them. The Roundheads fought stoutly;
but the charge of the Cavaliers was irresistible. Furious at the sight
of the house in flames, and ignorant of the fate which had befallen
their prince and their master's son, they burst upon the Roundheads with
a force which the latter were unable to withstand. For four or five
minutes the fight continued, and then such of the Roundheads as were
able clapped spurs to their horses and galloped off, hotly pursued by
the Cavaliers. The pursuit was a short one. Several of the Cavaliers
were gathered at the spot where the conflict had taken place, and were,
apparently, questioning a wounded man. Then the trumpeter who was with
them sounded the recall, and in a few minutes the Royalist troops came
riding back. They could see Jacob pointing to the burning building and
gesticulating with his arms. Then a party dashed up to the house, and
were lost to sight.
The prince and Harry both shouted at the top of their voices, but the
roar of the flames and the crash of falling beams deadened the sound.
The heat had by this time become intense. They had gradually divested
themselves of their clothing, and were bathed in perspiration.
"This heat is terrific," Prince Rupert said. "I did not think the human
frame could stand so great a heat. Methinks that water would boil were
it placed here."
This was indeed the case--the human frame, as is now well known, being
capable of sustaining a heat considerably above that of boiling water.
The walls were now so hot that the hand could not be borne upon them for
"My feet are burning!" the prince exclaimed, "Reach down that ladder
from the wall."
They laid the ladder on the ground and stood upon it, thus avoiding any
contact with the hot stone.
"If this goes on," Prince Rupert said, with a laugh; "there will be
nothing but our swords left. We are melting away fast, like candles
before a fire. Truly I do not think that there was so much water in a
man as has floated down from me during the last half-hour."
Harry was so placed that he could command a sight through the loophole,
and he exclaimed, "They are riding away!"
This was indeed the case. The whole building was now one vast furnace,
and having from the first no hope that their friends, if there, could
have survived, they had, hearing that Lady Sidmouth and her daughter had
been taken to Storton, determined to ride thither to take them from the
hands of the Roundheads, and to learn from them the fate of their
Another two hours passed. The heat was still tremendous, but they could
not feel that it was increasing. Once or twice they heard terrific
crashes, as portions of the wall fell. They would long since have been
roasted, were it not for the cool air which flowed in through the long
loophole, and keeping up a circulation in the chamber, lowered the
temperature of the air within it. At the end of the two hours Harry gave
"They are coming back."
The light had now sunk to a quiet red glow, so that beyond the fact that
a party was approaching, nothing could be seen. They rode, however,
directly toward the turret, and then, when they halted, Harry saw the
figures of two ladies who were pointing toward the loophole. Harry now
stepped from the ladder on to the door and shouted at the top of his
voice through the loophole. The reply came back in a joyous shout.
"We are being roasted alive," Harry cried. "Get ladders as quickly as
possible, with crowbars, and break down the wall."
Men were seen to ride off in several directions instantly, and for the
first time a ray of hope illumined, the minds of the prince and Harry
that they might be saved. Half an hour later long ladders tied together
were placed against the wall, and Jacob speedily made his appearance at
"All access is impossible from the other side," he said, "for the place
where the house stood is a red-hot furnace, Most of the walls have
fallen. We had no hope of finding you alive."
"We are roasting slowly," Harry cried. "In Heaven's name bring us some
Soon a bottle of water was passed in through the loophole, and then
three or four ladders being placed in position, the men outside began
with crowbars and pickaxes to enlarge the loophole sufficiently for the
prisoners to escape. It took three hours' hard work, at the end of which
time the aperture was sufficiently wide to allow them to emerge, and
utterly exhausted and feeling, as the prince said, "baked to a turn,"
they made their way down the ladder, being helped on either side by the
men, for they themselves were too exhausted to maintain their feet.
THE DEFENSE OF AN OUTPOST.
The effect of the fresh air and of cordials poured down their throats
soon restored the vigor to Prince Rupert and Harry Furness. They were
still weak, for the great effort which nature had made to resist the
force of the heat during those long hours had taxed their constitutions
to the utmost.
Lady Sidmouth was rejoiced indeed to find them alive, for she had made
sure that they were lost. It was not until she had been placed in a room
strongly barred, and under a guard at Storton, that she perceived the
light arising from her residence, and guessed that the men of the
Commons, unable to find the hiding-place of Prince Rupert, had set it on
fire. Then she had knocked loudly at the door; but the sentry had given
no answer either to that or to her entreaties for a hearing. She soon,
indeed, desisted from her efforts, for the fire which blazed up speedily
convinced her that all hope was gone. When Jacob and the Royalists
arrived, driving out the small remnant of the Roundheads who remained in
the village, he had found Lady Sidmouth and her daughter bathed in
tears, under the belief that their guests had perished in the old house
that they loved so well. It was with no hope that they had mounted on
the instant, and ridden at full gallop to the castle, and it was not
until they saw that that wall was still standing that even the slightest
hope entered their minds. Even then it appeared incredible that any one
could be alive, and the shout from the loophole had surprised almost as
much as it had delighted them.
In the course of three or four hours, refreshed and strengthened by a
hearty breakfast and draughts of burgundy, the prince and Harry mounted
their horses. Lady Sidmouth determined to remain for a few days at one
of her tenant's houses, and then to go quietly on to Oxford--for by this
time the main army of Essex was rapidly moving east, and the country
would soon be secure for her passage. The prince and Harry rode at full
speed to rejoin the army. That night, by riding late, they reached it.
They found that Essex had, in his retreat, surprised Cirencester and had
The prince, with five thousand horse, started, and marching with great
rapidity, got between Reading and the enemy, and, near Newbury, fell
upon the Parliament horse. For several hours sharp skirmishing went on,
and Essex was forced to halt his army at Hungerford. This gave time for
the king, who was marching at the head of his infantry, to come up. The
royal army occupied Newbury, and by the position they had taken up, were
now between the Roundheads and London.
On the morning of the 20th of September the outpost of each force became
engaged, and the battle soon raged along the whole line. It was to some
extent a repetition of the battle of Edgehill. Prince Rupert, with his
Cavaliers, swept away the horse of the enemy; but the pikemen of London,
who now first were tried in combat, forced back the infantry of the
king. Prince Rupert, returning from the pursuit, charged them with all
his cavalry; but so sharply did they shoot, and so steadily did the line
of pikes hold together, that the horse could make no impression upon
The night fell upon an undecided battle, and the next morning the
Roundheads, as at Edgehill, drew off from the field, leaving to the
Royalists the honor of a nominal success, a success, however, which was
in both cases tantamount to a repulse.
Three leading men upon the king's side fell--Lords Falkland, Carnarvon,
and Sunderland. The former, one of the finest characters of the times,
may be said to have thrown away his life. He was utterly weary of the
terrible dissensions and war in which England was plunged. He saw the
bitterness increasing on both sides daily--the hopes of peace growing
less and less; and as he had left the Parliamentary party, because he
saw that their ambition was boundless, and that they purposed to set up
a despotic tyranny, so he must have bitterly grieved at seeing upon the
side of the king a duplicity beyond all bounds, and want of faith which
seemed to forbid all hope of a satisfactory issue. Thus, then, when the
day of Newbury came, Falkland, whose duties in nowise led him into the
fight, charged recklessly and found the death which there can be little
doubt he sought.
Although the Cavaliers claimed Newbury as a great victory, instead of
advancing upon London they fell back as usual to Oxford.
During the skirmishes Harry had an opportunity of doing a service to an
old friend. The Parliament horse, although valiant and better trained
than that of the Royalists, were yet unable to withstand the impetuosity
with which the latter always attacked, the men seeming, indeed, to be
seized with a veritable panic at the sight of the gay plumes of Rupert's
gentlemen. In a fierce skirmish between Harry's troop and a party of
Parliament horse of about equal strength, the latter were defeated, and
Harry, returning with the main body, found a Puritan officer dismounted,
with his back against a tree, defending himself from the attacks of
three of his men. Harry rode hastily up and demanded his surrender. The
officer looked up, and to his surprise Harry saw his friend Herbert.
"I am your prisoner, Harry," Herbert said, as he lowered the point of
"Not at all!" Harry exclaimed. "It would indeed be a strange thing,
Herbert, were I to make you a prisoner. I thought you settled at
Ordering one of his troopers to catch a riderless horse which was
galloping near, he spoke for a moment or two with his friend, and then,
as the horse was brought up, he told him to mount and ride.
"But you may get into trouble for releasing me," Herbert said.
"I care not if I do," Harry replied. "But you need not be uneasy about
me, for Prince Rupert will stand my friend, and hold me clear of any
complaint that may be made. I will ride forward with you a little, till
you can join your friends."
As Harry rode on by the side of Herbert a Royalist officer, one Sir
Ralph Willoughby, dashed up.
"What means this?" he exclaimed. "Do I see an officer of his majesty
riding with one of the Roundheads? This is treason and treachery!"
"I will answer to the king, if need be," Harry said, "for my conduct. I
am not under your orders, Sir Ralph, and shall use my discretion in this
matter. This gentleman is as a brother to me."
"And I would cut down my brother," Sir Ralph said furiously, "if I found
him in the ranks of the enemy!"
"Then, sir, we differ," Harry replied, "for that would not I. There are
your friends," he said to Herbert, pointing to a body of Roundheads at a
short distance, "Give me your word, however, that you will not draw
sword again to-day."
Herbert readily gave the required promise, and riding off, was soon
with his friends. Sir Ralph and Harry came to high words after he had
left; and the matter might then and there have been decided by the
sword, had not a party of Roundheads, seeing two cavalry officers so
near to them, charged down, and compelled them to ride for their lives.
The following day Sir Ralph reported the circumstance to the general,
and he to Prince Rupert. The prince laughed at the charge.
"Harry Furness," he said, "is as loyal a gentleman as draws sword in our
ranks, and as he and I have been well-nigh roasted together, it were
vain indeed that any complaint were made to me touching his honor. I
will speak to him, however, and doubt not that his explanation will be
The prince accordingly spoke to Harry, who explained the circumstances
of his relations with the young Roundhead.
"Had he been a great captain, sir," Harry said, "I might have deemed it
my duty to hold him in durance, however near his relationship to myself.
But as a few weeks since he was but a schoolboy, methought that the
addition of his sword to the Roundhead cause would make no great
difference in our chances of victory that afternoon. Moreover, I had
received his pledge that he would not draw sword again in the battle."
As even yet, although the bitterness was quickly increasing, it was far
from having reached that point which it subsequently attained, and
prisoners on both sides were treated with respect, no more was said
regarding Harry's conduct in allowing his friend to escape. But from
that moment, between himself and Sir Ralph Willoughby there grew up a
strong feeling of animosity, which only needed some fitting pretext to
It was, indeed, an unfortunate point in the royal cause, that there was
very far from being unity among those who fought side by side. There
were intrigues and jealousies. There were the king's men, who would have
supported his majesty in all lengths to which he might have gone, and
who were ever advising him to resist all attempts at pacification, and
to be content with nothing less than a complete defeat of his enemies.
Upon the other hand, there were the grave, serious men, who had drawn
the sword with intense reluctance, and who desired nothing so much as
peace--a peace which would secure alike the rights of the crown and the
rights of the people.
They were shocked, too, by the riotous and profligate ways of some of
the wilder spirits, and deemed that their cause was sullied by the
reckless conduct and wild ways of many of their party. Sir Henry Furness
belonged to this section of the king's adherents, and Harry, who had
naturally imbibed his father's opinions, held himself a good deal aloof
from the wild young spirits of the king's party.
Skirmishes took place daily between the cavalry outposts of the two
armies. Sir Henry was asked by the prince to send some of his troops
across the river to watch the enemy, and he chose that commanded by
Harry, rather for the sake of getting the lad away from the temptations
and dissipation of Oxford than to give him an opportunity of
distinguishing himself. The troop commanded by Sir Ralph Willoughby was
also on outpost duty, and lay at no great distance from the village in
which Harry quartered his men after crossing the river. The Roundhead
cavalry were known to be but three or four miles away, and the utmost
vigilance was necessary.
Harry gave orders that the troops should be distributed through the
village--five men to a house. Straw was to be brought in at night, and
laid on the floor of the kitchens, and the men were there to sleep, with
their arms by their sides, ready for instant service. One of each party
was to stand sentry over the five horses which were to be picketed to
the palings in front of the house. At the first alarm he was at once to
awake his comrades, who were to mount instantly, and form in column in
the street. Two pickets were placed three hundred yards from the
village, and two others a quarter of a mile further in advance. Harry
and Jacob took up their residence in the village inn, and arranged
alternately to visit the pickets and sentries every two hours.
"They shall not catch us napping, Jacob. This is my first command on
detached duty. You and I have often remarked upon the reckless ways of
our leaders. We have an opportunity now of carrying our own ideas into
At three o'clock Jacob visited the outposts. All was still, and nothing
had occurred to give rise to any suspicion of the vicinity of an enemy.
Half an hour later one of the advanced pickets galloped in. They heard,
he said, a noise as of a large body of horse, away to the right, and it
seemed as if it was proceeding toward Chalcombe, the village where Sir
Ralph Willoughby's troop was quartered. Two minutes later, thanks to
Harry's arrangements, the troop were mounted and in readiness for
The first faint dawn of day had begun. Suddenly the stillness was broken
by the sound of pistol shots and shouts from the direction of Chalcombe,
which lay a mile away.
"It is likely," Harry said, "that Sir Ralph has been caught napping. He
is brave, but he is reckless, and the discipline of his troop is of the
slackest. Let us ride to his rescue."
The troop filed out from the village, and turned down the side road
leading to Chalcombe. Harry set spurs to his horse and led the column at
a gallop. The sound of shots continued without intermission, and
presently a bright light shot up.
"Methinks," Harry said to Jacob, "the Roundheads have caught our men
asleep, and it is an attack upon the houses rather than a cavalry
It was scarcely five minutes from the time they started when they
approached the village. By the light of a house which had been set on
fire, Harry saw that his conjecture was well founded. The Roundheads
were dismounted, and were attacking the houses.
Halting just outside the village, Harry formed his men with a front
across the whole road, and directed the lines to advance, twenty yards
apart. Then, placing himself at their head, he gave the word, and
charged down the street upon the Roundheads. The latter, occupied by
their attack upon the houses, were unconscious of the presence of their
foe until he was close upon them, and were taken utterly by surprise.
The force of the charge was irresistible, and the Roundheads, dispersed
and on foot, were cut down in all directions. Groups of twos and threes
stood together and attempted resistance, but the main body thought only
of regaining their horses. In three minutes after the Royalists entered
the village the surviving Roundheads were in full flight, hotly pursued
by the victorious Cavaliers. These, being for the most part better
mounted, overtook and slew many of the Roundheads, and not more than
half the force which had set out returned to their quarters at Didcot.
The pursuit continued to within half a mile of that place, and then
Harry, knowing that there was a force of Roundhead infantry there, drew
off from the pursuit, and returned to Chalcombe. He found that more
than half of Sir Ralph Willoughy's men had been killed, many having been
cut down before they could betake themselves to their arms, those
quartered in the inn, and at two or three of the larger houses, having
alone maintained a successful resistance until the arrival of succor.
Sir Ralph Willoughby was furious. The disaster was due to his own
carelessness in having contented himself with placing two pickets in
advance of the village, and permitting the whole remainder of his force
to retire to bed. Consequently the picket, on riding in upon the
approach of the enemy, were unable to awake and call them to arms before
the Roundheads were upon them. In his anger he turned upon Harry, and
fiercely demanded why he had not sent him news of the approach of the
"You must have known it," he said. "Your men were all mounted and in
readiness, or they could not have arrived here so soon. You must have
been close at hand, and only holding off in order that you might boast
of having come to my relief."
Harry, indignant at these words, turned on heel without deigning to give
an answer to the angry man, and at once rode back to his own quarters.
Two hours later Prince Rupert rode up. The firing had been reported, and
Prince Rupert had ridden with a body of horse to Chalcombe. Here he had
heard Sir Ralph Willoughby's version of the story, and had requested
that officer to ride with him to Harry's quarters. The prince, with
several of his principal officers, alighted at the inn, outside which
Harry received him. Prince Rupert led the way into the house.
"Master Furness," he said, "Sir Ralph Willoughby accuses you of having
played him false, and left his party to be destroyed on account of the
quarrel existing between you, touching that affair at Newbury. What
have you to say to this? He alleges that you must have been close at
hand, and moved not a finger to save him until half his troop was
"It is wholly false, sir," Harry said. "Seeing that the enemy were so
close, I had placed my pickets well in advance, and ordered my men to
lie down in their clothes, with their arms beside them, on straw in the
kitchens, ready to mount at a moment's warning. I quartered five in each
house, having their horses fastened in front, and one of each party
stationed at the door, where he could observe the horses and wake the
men on the instant. Thus, when my pickets came in with the news that
troops were heard moving toward Chalcombe, my troop was in less than two
minutes in the saddle. As we rode out of the village we heard the first
shot, and five minutes later charged the Roundheads in the streets of
the village. Had we not hastened, methinks that neither Sir Ralph
Willoughby nor any of his troops would have been alive now to tell the
tale. You can question, sir, my lieutenant, or any of my troopers, and
you will hear that matters went precisely as I have told you."
"You have done well indeed, Master Furness," Prince Rupert said warmly,
"and I would that many of my other officers showed the same
circumspection and care as you have done. Now, Sir Ralph, let me hear
what arrangements you made against surprise."
"I set pickets in front of the village," Sir Ralph said sulkily.
"And what besides?" the prince asked. "Having done that, did you and
your officers and men go quietly to sleep, as if the enemy were a
hundred miles away?"
Sir Ralph was silent.
"Fie, for shame, sir!" the prince said sternly. "Your own carelessness
has brought disaster upon you, and instead of frankly owning your fault,
and thanking Master Furness for having redeemed your error, saved the
remnant of your troop, and defeated the Roundheads heavily, your
jealousy and envy of the lad have wrought you to bring false accusations
against him. Enough, sir," he said peremptorily, seeing the glance of
hatred which Sir Ralph cast toward Harry. "Sufficient harm has been done
already by your carelessness--see that no more arises from your bad
temper. I forbid this quarrel to go further; until the king's enemies
are wholly defeated there must be no quarrels between his friends. And
should I hear of any further dispute on your part with Master Furness, I
shall bring it before the king, and obtain his warrant for your
dismissal from this army."
The following day Harry and his troop moved further down the river, the
enemy having fallen back from Didcot. He was placed at a village where
there was a ford across the river. The post was of importance, as its
position prevented the enemy from making raids into the country, where
stores of provisions and cattle had been collected for the use of the
army at Oxford. Harry's force was a small one for the defense of such a
post; but there appeared little danger of an attack, as Prince Rupert,
with a large force of cavalry, lay but a mile or two distant. A few days
after their arrival, however, Prince Rupert started with his horse to
drive back a party of the enemy whom he heard were lying some miles
north of Reading.
"Prince Rupert never seems to have room for two ideas in his head at the
same time," Jacob said. "The moment he hears of an enemy off he rides at
full gallop, forgetting that he has left us alone here. It is well if
the Roundheads at Reading do not sally out and attack us, seeing how
useful this ford would be to them."
"I agree with you, Jacob, and we will forthwith set to work to render
the place as defensible as we may."
"We had best defend the other side of the ford, if they advance," Jacob
said. "We could make a far better stand there."
"That is true, Jacob; but though we could there bar them from entering
our country, they, if they obtained the village, would shut the door to
our entering theirs. No, it is clear that it our duty to defend the
village as long as we can, if we should be attacked."
Harry now set his men to work to make loopholes in the cottages and
inclosure walls, and to connect the latter by banks of earth, having
thorn branches set on the top. Just at the ford itself stood a large
water-mill, worked by a stream which here ran into the river. Harry
placed sacks before all the windows, leaving only loopholes through
which to fire. Some of the troop carried pistols only; others had
carbines; and some, short, wide-mouthed guns, which carried large
charges of buckshot. Pickets were sent forward a mile toward Reading.
Early in the afternoon these galloped in with the news that a heavy
column of infantry and cavalry, with two pieces of artillery, were
approaching along the road. Harry at once dispatched a messenger, with
orders to ride until he found Prince Rupert, to tell him of the state he
was in, and ask him to hurry to his assistance, giving assurance that he
would hold the village as long as possible. All now labored vigorously
at the works of defense. Half an hour after the alarm had been given the
enemy were seen approaching.
"There must be over five hundred men, horse and foot," Jacob said, as
from the upper story of the mill he watched with Harry the approach of
the enemy. "With fifty men we shall never be able to defend the circuit
of the village."
"Not if they attack all round at once," Harry agreed. "But probably
they will fall upon us in column, and behind stone walls we can do much.
We must keep them out as long as we can; then fall back here, and
surround ourselves with a ring of fire."
As soon as it was known that the enemy were approaching Harry had given
orders that all the inhabitants should evacuate their houses and cross
the river, taking with them such valuables as they could carry. There
were several horses and carts in the village, and these were at once put
in requisition, and the people crossing and recrossing the river rapidly
carried most of their linen and other valuables over in safety, the men
continuing to labor for the preservation of their goods, even after the
The Roundheads halted about four hundred yards from the village. Just as
they did so there was a trampling of horses, and Sir Ralph Willoughby,
with his troop, now reduced to thirty strong, rode into the village. He
drew up his horse before Harry.
"Master Furness," he said, "Prince Rupert has forbidden me to test your
courage in the way gentlemen usually do so. But there is now a means
open. Let us see which will ride furthest--you or I--into the ranks of
Harry hesitated a moment; then he said gravely:
"My life is not my own to throw away, Sir Ralph. My orders are to hold
this place. That I can best do on foot, for even if our troops united
were to rout the enemy's cavalry, their footmen would still remain, and
would carry the village. No, sir, my duty is to fight here."
"I always thought you a coward!" Sir Ralph exclaimed; "now I know it,"
and, with a taunting laugh, he ordered his men to follow him, issued
from the village, and prepared, with his little band, to charge the
Roundhead horse, about a hundred and fifty strong.
Just as they formed line, however, the enemy's' guns opened, and a shot
struck Sir Ralph full in the chest, hurling him, a shattered corpse, to
His men, dismayed at the fall of their leader, drew rein.
"Fall back, men," Harry shouted from behind, "fall back, and make a
stand here. You must be cut to pieces if you advance."
The troop, who had no other officer with them, at once obeyed Harry's
orders. They had heard the conversation between him and their leader,
and although prepared to follow Sir Ralph, who was the landlord of most
of them, they saw that Harry was right, and that to attack so numerous a
body of horse and foot was but to invite destruction.
A STUBBORN DEFENSE.
A half-dozen or so of Sir Ralph Willoughby's troopers declared that now
their lord was dead they would fight no further, and straightway rode
off through the village and across the ford. The rest, however, seeing
that a brave fight against odds was about to commence, declared their
willingness to put themselves under Harry's orders. They were at once
dismounted and scattered along the line of defenses. After the Roundhead
cannon had fired a few shots their cavalry charged, thinking to ride
into the village. But the moment Sir Ralph's troopers had re-entered it
Harry had heaped up across the road a quantity of young trees and bushes
which he had cut in readiness. Not a shot was fired until the horsemen
reached this obstacle, and then so heavy a fire was poured upon them, as
they dismounted and tried to pull it asunder, that, with a loss of many
men, they were forced to retreat.
The infantry now advanced, and a severe fight began. Harry's eighty men,
sheltered behind their walls, inflicted heavy damage upon the enemy,
who, however, pressed on stoutly, one column reaching the obstruction
across the road, and laboring to destroy it. All the horses, with the
exception of twenty, had been sent across the ford, and when Harry saw
that in spite of the efforts of his men the enemy were destroying the
abattis, he mounted twenty men upon these horses, placing Jacob at
their head. Then he drew off as many defenders from other points as he
could, and bade these charge their pistols and blunderbusses to the
mouth with balls. As the enemy effected a breach in the abattis and
streamed in, Jacob with his horse galloped down upon them at full speed.
The reserve poured the fire of their heavily loaded pieces upon the mass
still outside, and then aided Jacob's horse by falling suddenly on those
within. So great was the effect that the enemy were driven back, and the
column retired, the breach in the abattis being hastily filled up,
before the cavalry, who were waiting the opportunity, could charge down
In the meantime, however, the enemy were forcing their way in at other
points, and Harry gave word for the outside line of houses to be fired.
The thatched roofs speedily were in flames, and as the wind was blowing
from the river dense clouds of smoke rolled down upon the assailants. It
was now only the intervals between the houses which had to be defended,
and for an hour the stubborn resistance continued, the Royalist troops
defending each house with its inclosure to the last, and firing them as
they retreated, their own loss being trifling in comparison with that
which they inflicted upon their assailants.
At last the whole of the defenders were gathered in and round the mill.
This was defended from attack by the mill stream, which separated it
from the village, and which was crossed only by the road leading down to
the ford. The bridge was a wooden one, and this had been already partly
sawn away. As soon as the last of the defenders crossed the remainder of
the bridge was chopped down. Along the line of the stream Harry had
erected a defense, breast high, of sacks of wheat from the mill. The
enemy, as they straggled out through the burning village, paused, on
seeing the strong posilion which yet remained to be carried. The mill
stream was rapid and deep, and the approaches swept by the fire from the
mill. There was a pause, and then the cannon were brought up and fire
opened upon the mill, the musketry keeping up an incessant rattle from
every wall and clump of bushes.
The mill was built of wood, and the cannon shot went through and through
it. But Harry directed his men to place rows of sacks along each floor
facing the enemy, and lying down behind these to fire through holes
pierced in the planks. For half an hour the cannonade continued, and
then the enemy were seen advancing, carrying beams and the trunks of
small trees, to make a bridge across the stream. Had Harry's men been
armed with muskets it would have been next to impossible for the enemy
to succeed in doing this in the face of their fire. But the fire of
their short weapons was wild and uncertain, except at short distances.
Very many of the Roundheads fell, but others pressed forward bravely,
and succeeded in throwing their beams across the stream. By this time
Harry had led out all his force from the mill, and a desperate fight
took place at the bridge. The enemy lined the opposite bank in such
force that none of the defenders could show their heads above the
barricade of sacks, and Harry came to the conclusion that further
resistance was vain. He ordered Jacob to take all the men with the
exception of ten and to retire at once across the ford. He himself with
the remainder would defend the bridge till they were fairly across, and
would then rush over and join them as he might.
With a heavy heart Jacob was preparing to obey this order, when he heard
a loud cheer, and saw Prince Rupert, heading a large body of horse, dash
into the river on the other side. The enemy saw him too. There was an
instant cessation of their fire, and before Prince Rupert had gained
the bank the Roundheads were already in full retreat for Reading. The
bridge was hastily repaired, and the prince pursued for some distance,
chasing their cavalry well-nigh into Reading. Their infantry, however,
held together, and regained that town in safety.
Upon his return Prince Rupert expressed his warm admiration at the
prolonged and gallant defense which Harry had made, and said that the
oldest soldier in the army could not have done better. At Harry's
request he promised the villagers that the next day money should be sent
out from the king's treasury to make good the losses which they had
sustained. Then he left a strong body of horse to hold the village, and
directed Harry to ride with him with his troop to Oxford.
"I have a mission for you, Master Furness," he said, as they rode along.
"I have already told his majesty how coolly and courageously you
conducted yourself in that sore strait in which we were placed together.
The king has need of a messenger to Scotland. The mission is a difficult
one, and full of danger. It demands coolness and judgment as well as
courage. I have told his majesty that, in spite of your youth, you
possess these qualities, but the king was inclined to doubt whether you
were old enough to be intrusted with such a commission. After to-day's
doings he need have no further hesitation. I spoke to your father but
yesterday, and he has given consent that you shall go, the more readily,
methinks, because the good Cavalier thinks that the morals and ways of
many of our young officers to be in no wise edifying for you, and I
cannot but say that he is right. What sayest thou?"
Harry expressed his willingness to undertake any mission with which he
might be charged. He thought it probable that no great movements would
be undertaken in the south for some time, and with a lad's natural love
of adventure, was pleased at the thought of change and variety.
The Scots were at this time arranging for a close alliance with the
Parliament, which had sent emissaries to Edinburgh to negotiate a Solemn
League and Covenant. Sir Henry Vane, who was an Independent, had been
forced to accede to the demand of the Scotch Parliament, that the
Presbyterian religious system of Scotland should be adopted as that of
England, and after much chaffering for terms on both sides, the document
was signed, and was to bind those who subscribed it to endeavor, without
respect of persons, to extirpate popery and prelacy.
On the 25th of September, nearly a week after the tattle of Newbury, all
the members of Parliament still remaining in London assembled in St.
Margaret's Church, and signed the Solemn League and Covenant; but even
at this moment of enthusiasm the parties were not true to each other.
The Scotch expected that Presbyterianism would be introduced into
England, and that Episcopacy would be entirely abolished. The English
members, however, signed the declaration with the full intent of
preserving their own religion, that of a form of Episcopacy, altered
much indeed from that of the Church of England, but still differing
widely from the Scotch system.
The king had many adherents in Scotland, chief of whom was the Earl of
Montrose, a most gallant and loyal nobleman.
Upon the day after the fight in the village the king, on Prince Rupert's
recommendation, appointed Harry Furness to bear dispatches to the earl,
and as he was going north, Prince Rupert placed Lady Sidmouth and her
daughter under his charge to convey to the army of the Earl of
Newcastle, under whom her husband was at this time engaged.
Upon asking what force he should take with him the prince said that he
had better proceed with his own troop, as an escort to the ladies, as
far as the camp of Newcastle, filling up the places of those who had
fallen in the skirmishes and fight of Newbury with other men, so as to
preserve his full tale of fifty troopers. When he had fulfilled the
first part of his mission he was to place his troop at the earl's
service until his return, and to proceed in such manner and disguise as
might seem best to him.
Harry started for the north in high spirits, feeling very proud of the
charge confided to him. Lady Sidmouth and her daughter were placed in a
light litter between two horses. Harry took his place beside it. Half
the troop, under the command of the lieutenant, rode in front; the other
half followed. So they started for the north. It was a long journey, as
they were forced to avoid many towns occupied by Roundheads. Upon the
fourth day of their journey they suddenly heard the explosion of
pistols, and the shouts of men in conflict. Harry ordered his lieutenant
to ride forward with half the troop to some rising ground just in front,
and there they saw a combat going on between a party of Cavaliers and a
force of Roundheads, much superior to them in numbers. Harry joined the
lieutenant, and sending back a man with orders to the remaining half of
the troop to form a guard round the litter, he headed the advance party,
and the twenty-five men rode headlong down into the scene of conflict.
It was a sharp fight for a few minutes, and then the accession of
strength which the Cavaliers had gained gave them the superiority, and
the Roundheads fell back, but in good order.
"You arrived just in time, sir," the leader of the party engaged said.
"I am Master John Chillingworth, and am marching to Hardley House, which
the Puritans are about to besiege. There is no time to delay, for see
you not on yonder hill the gleam of pikes? That is the enemy's footmen.
It is only an advanced party of their horse with which we have had this
affair. You cannot go forward in this direction. There is a strong body
of Roundheads lying a few miles to the north."
Harry rode back to Lady Sidmouth, and after a consultation with her and
with Master Chillingworth, they decided to throw themselves into Hardley
House, where the addition of strength which they brought might enable
them to beat off the Roundheads, and then to proceed on their way. They
learned indeed from a peasant that several bodies of Roundheads were
advancing from various directions, and that Hardley House was strong and
well defended. Of the choice of evils, therefore, they thought this to
be the lightest, and, after an hour's hard riding, they arrived before
its walls. It was an old castellated building, with bastions and walls
capable of standing a siege. The party were gladly received by the
master, Sir Francis Burdett, who had placed his castle in a posture of
defense, but was short of men. Upon the news of the approach of the
enemy he had hastily driven a number of cattle into the yard, and had
stores of provisions sufficient to stand a siege for some time.
In a short time the Parliament force, consisting of five hundred footmen
and two hundred horse, appeared before the castle, and summoned it to
surrender. Sir Francis refused to do so, and fired a gun in token of
defiance. Soon a train was seen approaching in the distance, and four
guns were dragged by the enemy to a point of high ground near the
castle. Here the Roundheads began to throw up a battery, but were
mightily inconvenienced while doing so by the guns of the castle, which
shot briskly against them. Working at night, however, in two days they
completed the battery, which, on the third morning, opened fire upon the
castle. The guns were much heavier than those upon the walls, and the
shot, directed at a curtain between two towers, battered the stone
sorely. The Parliament footmen were drawn back a space from the walls so
as to avoid the fire of muskets from the defenders. There were in all in
the castle about two hundred men, one hundred having been collected
before the arrival of the troops of horse. These determined upon making
a desperate resistance when the wall should give way, which would, they
doubted not, be upon the following day. Everything that could be done
was tried to hinder the destruction made by the enemy's shot. Numbers of
sacks were filled with earth, and lowered from the walls above so as to
hang in regular order before it, and so break the force of the shot.
This had some effect, but gradually the wall crumbled beneath the blows
of the missiles from the Roundhead guns.
"We are useless here, save as footmen," Harry said that night to his
host. "There is a postern gate, is there not, behind the castle?
Methinks that if we could get out in the dark unobserved, and form close
to the walls, so that their pickets lying around might not suspect us of
purposing to issue forth, we might, when daylight dawned, make an attack
upon their guns, and if we could spike these the assault would probably
The attempt was determined upon. The Roundhead infantry were disposed
behind as well as in front of the castle, so as to prevent the escape of
the besieged; but the camp was at a distance of some four hundred yards.
The chains of the drawbridge across the moat were oiled, as were the
bolts of the doors, and at three in the morning the gate was opened, and
the drawbridge lowered across the moat. A thick layer of sacks was then
placed upon the drawbridge. The horses' hoofs were also muffled with
sacking, and then, one by one, the horses were led out, the drawbridge
was drawn up again, and all was quiet. No sound or motion in the Puritan
camp betrayed that their exit was observed, and they could hear the
challenges of the circuit of sentries passed from man to man.
When the first streak of dawn was seen in the east the troop mounted
their horses, and remained quiet until the light should be sufficient to
enable them to see the nature of the ground over which they would have
to pass. This they would be able to do before they themselves were
observed, standing as they were close under the shadow of the walls of
the castle. As soon as it was sufficiently light the trumpets sounded,
and with a burst they dashed across the country. Heeding not the bugle
calls in the camp of the Puritan infantry, they rode straight at the
guns. These were six hundred yards distant, and before the artillerymen
could awake to their danger, the Royalists were upon them. Those that
stood were cut down, and in a minute the guns were spiked. Then the
cavalry swept round, and as the Puritan horse hastily formed up, they
charged them. Although but half their numbers, they had the superiority
in the surprise at which they took their foes, and in the fact of the
latter being but half armed, not having had time to put on their
breastplates. The combat was a short one, and in a few minutes the
Puritans were flying in all directions. The pikemen were now approaching
on either side in compact bodies, and against these Harry knew that his
horsemen could do nothing. He therefore drew them off from the castle,
and during the day circled round and round the place, seizing several
carts of provisions destined for the wants of the infantry, and holding
them in a sort of leaguer.
That night, finding that their guns were disabled, their horse defeated,
and themselves cut off, the rebel infantry drew off, and gave up the
siege of the place. The next morning the cavalry re-entered the castle
in triumph, and having received the hearty thanks of Sir Francis
Burdett, and leaving with him the troop of Master Chillingworth, who
intended to remain there, Harry proceeded on his way north, and reached
York without further adventure.
During the ten days that they had journeyed together Lady Sidmouth had
been greatly pleased with the attention and character of Harry Furness.
He was always cheerful and courteous, without any of that light tone of
flippancy which distinguished the young Cavaliers of the period, and her
little daughter was charmed with her companion. Harry received the
hearty thanks of Sir Henry Sidmouth for the care with which he had
conducted his wife through the dangers of the journey, and then, having
so far discharged his duty, he left his troop at York, and started for
On the way he had discussed with Jacob the measures which he intended to
take for his journey north. Jacob had begged earnestly to accompany him,
and as Harry deemed that his shrewdness might be of great use, he
determined to take him with him, as well as another of his troop. The
latter was a merry fellow, named William Long. He was of grave and sober
demeanor, and never smiled, even while causing his hearers to be
convulsed with laughter. He had a keen sense of humor, was a
ready-witted and courageous fellow, and had frequently distinguished
himself in the various skirmishes. He was the son of a small tenant of
Sir Henry Furness.
His farm was near the hall, and, although three or four years older
than Harry, he had as a boy frequently accompanied him when out hawking,
and in other amusements. Harry felt that, with two attached and faithful
comrades like these, he should he able to make his way through many
dangers. At York he had procured for himself and his followers suits of
clothes of a grave and sober cut, such as would be worn by yeomen; and
here they laid aside their Cavalier garments, and proceeded northward.
They traveled quietly forward as far as Durham, and then went west, as
Berwick was held for the Parliament. They carried weapons, for at that
time none traveled unarmed, and the country through which they had to
pass was greatly disturbed, the moss troopers having taken advantage of
the disorders of the times to renew the habits of their forefathers, and
to make raids upon their southern neighbors, and carry off cattle and
horses. They carried with them but little money, a small quantity in
their valises, and a few gold pieces concealed about their persons, each
choosing a different receptacle, so that in case of pillage some at
least might retain sufficient to carry them on their way. Avoiding the
large towns, where alone they would be likely to be questioned, they
crossed the border, and rode into Scotland.
Upon the day after their crossing the frontier they saw a body of
horsemen approaching them. These drew up when they reached them, Harry
having previously warned his comrades to offer no resistance, as the
party were too strong for them, and his mission was too important to
allow the king's cause to be hazarded by any foolish acts of pugnacity.
"Are you for the king or the kirk?" the leader asked.
"Neither for one nor the other," Harry said. "We are peaceable yeomen
traveling north to buy cattle, and We meddle not in the disputes of the
time." "Have you any news from the south?"
"Nothing," Harry replied. "We come from Durham, and since the news of
the battle of Newbury, no tidings have come of importance."
The man looked inquisitively at the horses and valises; but Harry had
chosen three stout ponies sufficiently good to carry them, but offering
no temptations to pillagers, and the size of the valises promised but
little from their contents.
"Since you are riding north to buy cattle," the leader said, "you must
have money with you, and money is short with us in these bad times."
"We have not," Harry said; "judging it possible that we might meet with
gentlemen who felt the pressure of the times, we have provided ourselves
with sufficient only to take us up to Kelso, where dwells our
correspondent, who will, we trust, have purchased and collected
sufficient cattle for us to take south when we shall learn that a convoy
of troops is traveling in this direction, for we would not place
temptation in the way of those whom we might meet."
"You are a fellow of some humor," the leader said grimly. "But it is
evil jesting on this side of the border."
"I jest not," Harry said. "There is a proverb in Latin, with which
doubtless your worship is acquainted, to the effect that an empty
traveler may sing before robbers, and, although far from including you
and your worshipful following in that category, yet we may be pardoned
for feeling somewhat light-hearted, because we are not overburdened with
The leader looked savagely at the young man; but seeing that his
demeanor and that of his followers was resolute, that they carried
pistols at their holsters and heavy swords, and deeming that nothing but
hard knocks would come of an attack upon them, he surlily bade his
company follow him, and rode on his way again.
THE COMMISSIONER OF THE CONVENTION.
At Kelso Harry procured changes of garments, attiring himself as a
Lowland farmer, and his companions as two drovers. They were, as before,
mounted; but the costume of English farmers could no longer have been
supported by any plausible story. They learned that upon the direct road
north they should find many bodies of Scotch troops, and therefore made
for the coast. Two days' riding brought them to the little port of
After taking their supper in the common room of the hostelry, there was
a stir outside, and three men, attired as Puritan preachers, entered the
room. Mine host received them with courtesy, but with none of the eager
welcome usually displayed to guests; for these gentry, although
feared--for their power was very great at the time--were by no means
loved, and their orders at a hostelry were not likely to swell the purse
of the host. Stalking to an unoccupied table next to that at which Harry
and his party were sitting, they took their seats and called for supper.
Harry made a sign to his companions to continue talking together, while
he listened attentively to the conversation of the men behind him. He
gathered from their talk that they were commissioners proceeding from
the Presbyterian Convention in London to discuss with that at Edinburgh
upon the points upon which they could come to an agreement for a common
basis of terms. Their talk turned principally upon doctrinal questions,
upon which Harry's ignorance was entire and absolute; but he saw at once
that it would do good service to the king if he could in some way
prevent these men continuing upon their journey, and so for a time
arrest the progress of the negotiations between the king's enemies in
England and Scotland, for at this time the preachers were the paramount
authorities in England. It was they who insisted upon terms, they who
swayed the councils of the nation, and it was not until Cromwell, after
overthrowing the king, overthrew the Parliament, which was for the main
part composed of their creatures, that the power of the preachers came
to an end. It would, of course, have been easy for Harry and his friends
to attack these men during their next day's journey, but this would have
involved the necessity of killing them--from which he shrank--for an
assault upon three godly men traveling on the high business of the
Convention to the Scottish capital would have caused such an outcry that
Harry could not hope to continue on his way without the certainty of
discovery and arrest.
Signing to his comrades to remain in their seats, he strolled off toward
the port, and there entered a public house, which, by its aspect, was
frequented by seafaring men. It was a small room that he entered, and
contained three or four fishermen, and one whom a certain superiority in
dress betokened to be the captain of a vessel. They were talking of the
war, and of the probability of the Scottish army taking part in it. The
fishermen were all of the popular party; but the captain, who seemed a
jovial fellow, shrugged his shoulders over the religious squabbles, and
said that, for his part, he wanted nothing but peace.
"Not," he said, "that the present times do not suit are rarely in
purse. Men are too busy now to look after the doings of every lugger
that passes along the coast, and never were French goods so plentiful or
so cheap. Moreover," he said, "I find that not unfrequently passengers
want to be carried to Prance or Holland. I ask no questions; I care not
whether they go on missions from the Royalists or from the Convention; I
take their money; I land them at their destination; no questions are
asked. So the times suit me bravely; but for all that I do not like to
think of Englishmen and Scotchmen arrayed against their fellows. I
cannot see that it matters one jot whether we are predestinate or not
predestinate, or whether it is a bishop who governs a certain church or
a presbyter. I say let each worship in his own way, and not concern
himself about his fellows. If men would but mind their own affairs in
religion as they do in business it would be better for us all."
Harry, as he drank the glass of beer he had ordered, had joined
occasionally in the conversation, not taking any part, but agreeing
chiefly with the sea-captain in his desire for peace.
"I too," he said, "have nothing to grumble at. My beasts fetch good
prices for the army, and save that there is a want of hands, I was never
doing better. Still I would gladly see peace established."
Presently the fishermen, having finished their liquor, retired, and the
captain, looking keenly at Harry, said, "Methinks, young sir, that you
are not precisely what you seem!"
"That is so," Harry replied; "I am on business here, It matters not on
which side, and it may be that we may strike a bargain together."
"Do you want to cross the channel?" the captain asked, laughing. "You
seem young to have put your head in a noose already."
"No," Harry said, "I do not want to cross myself; but I want to send
some others across. I suppose that if a passenger or two were placed on
board your ship, to be landed in Holland, you would not deem it
necessary to question them closely, or to ascertain whether they also
were anxious to arrive at that destination?"
"By no means," the captain replied. "Goods consigned to me will be
delivered at the port to which they are addressed, and I should consider
that with passengers as with goods, I must carry them to the port for
which their passage is taken."
"Good," Harry said; "if that is the case, methinks that when you
sail--and," he asked, breaking off, "when do you sail?"
"To-morrow morning, if the wind is fair," the captain answered. "But if
it would pay me better to stop for a few hours, I might do so."
"To-morrow night, if you will wait till then," Harry said, "I will place
three passengers on board, and will pay you your own sum to land them at
Flushing, or any other place across the water to which you may be bound.
I will take care that they will make no complaints whatever, or address
any remonstrance to you, until after you have fairly put to sea. And
then, naturally, you will feel yourself unable to alter the course of
"But," the captain observed, "I must be assured that these passengers
who are so anxious to cross the water are not men whose absence might
cause any great bother. I am a simple man, earning my living as honestly
as the times will allow me to do, and I wish not to embroil myself with
the great parties of the State."
"There may be an inquiry," Harry replied; "but methinks it will soon
drop. They are three preachers of London, who are on their way to
dispute concerning points of religion with the divines in Scotland. The
result of their disputation may perchance be that an accord may be
arrived at between the divines of London and Edinburgh; and in that
case, I doubt not that the army now lying at Dundee would move south,
and that the civil war would therefore become more extended and cruel
The captain laughed.
"I am not fond of blackbirds on board my ship," he said. "They are ever
of ill omen on the sea. But I will risk it for so good a cause. It is
their pestilent religious disputes which have stirred up the nations to
war, and I doubt not that even should some time elapse before these
gentlemen can again hold forth in England, there are plenty of others to
supply their place."
An agreement was speedily arrived at as to the terms of passage, for
Harry was well provided with money, having drawn at Kelso from an agent
devoted to the Royal cause, upon whom he had letters of credit.
The next morning early Harry went to a carter in the town, and hired a
cart for the day, leaving a deposit for its safe return at night. Then,
mounting their horses, the three Royalists rode off just as the
preachers were going forth from the inn. The latter continued their
course at the grave pace suitable to their calling and occupation,
conversing vigorously upon the points of doctrine which they intended to
urge upon their fellows at Edinburgh. Suddenly, just where the road
emerged from a wood on to a common, three men dashed out, and fell upon
them. The preachers roared lustily for mercy, and invoked the vengeance
of the Parliament upon those who ventured to interfere with them.
"We are charged," one said, "with a mission to the Convention at
Edinburgh, and it is as much as your heads are worth to interfere with
"Natheless," Harry said, "we must even risk our heads. You must follow
us into the wood, or we shall be under the necessity of 'blowing out
Much crestfallen, the preachers followed their captors into the wood.
There they were despoiled of their hats and doublets, tied securely by
cords, gagged, and placed, in spite of their remonstrances and
struggles, in three huge sacks.
At midnight the Annette was lying alongside the wharf at Ayton, when a
cart drove up. Three men alighted from it, and one hailed the captain,
who was standing on deck.
"I have brought the three parcels thou wottest of," he said. "They will
need each two strong men to carry them on board."
The captain, with two sailors, ascended to the quay.
"What have we here?" said one of the sailors; "there is some live
creature in this sack."
"It is a young calf," Harry said; "when you are well out to sea you can
give it air."
The men laughed, for having frequently had passengers to cross to the
Continent, they shrewdly guessed at the truth; and the captain had
already told them that the delay of a day would put some money into each
of their pockets. Having seen the three sacks deposited on the deck of
the ship, when the sails were immediately hoisted, and the Annette
glided away on her course seaward, the cart was driven round to the
house where it had been hired. The stipulated price was paid, the
deposit returned, and the hirer then departed.
Riding toward Edinburgh, Harry agreed with his comrades that as he, as
the apparent leader of the party, would be the more likely to be
suspected and arrested, it would be better for the documents of which
they were the carriers, as well as the papers found upon the persons of
the Puritans, to be intrusted to the charge of Jacob and William Long.
Harry charged them, in the event of anything happening to him, to pay no
heed to him whatever, but to separate from him and mix with the crowd,
and then to make their way, as best they might, to the Earl of Montrose.
"It matters nothing," he said, "my being arrested, They can prove
nothing against me, as I shall have no papers on my body, while it is
all-important that you should get off. The most that they can do to me
is to send me to London, and a term of imprisonment as a malignant is
the worst that will befall me."
The next day they entered the town by the Canongate, and were surprised
and amused at the busy scene passing there. Riding to an inn, they put
up their horses and dismounted. Harry purposed to remain there for three
or four days to learn the temper of the people.
The next morning he strolled out into the streets, followed at some
little distance by Jacob and William Long, He had not the least fear of
being recognized, and for the time gave himself up thoroughly to the
amusement of the moment. He had not proceeded far, however, when he ran
full tilt against a man in a black garb, who, gazing at him, at once
shouted out at the top of his voice, "Seize this man, he is a malignant
and a spy," and to his horror Harry discovered the small preacher with
whom he had twice already been at loggerheads, and who, it seems, had
been dispatched as a member of a previous commission by his party in
In a moment a dozen sturdy hands seized him by his collar. Feeling the
utter uselessness of resistance, and being afraid that should he attempt
to struggle, his friends might be drawn into the matter, Harry quietly
proceeded along the street until he reached the city guardhouse, in a
cell of which he was thrust.
"One would think," he muttered to himself, "that little preacher is an
emissary of Satan himself. Go where I will, this lantern-jawed knave is
sure to crop up and I feel convinced that until I have split his skull I
shall have no safety. I thought I had freed myself of Mm forever when I
got out of London; and here, in the middle of the Scotch capital, he
turns up as sharpsighted and as venomous as ever."
An hour or two later Harry was removed under a guard to the city prison,
and in the evening the doors were opened and a guard appeared and
briefly ordered him to follow. Under the escort of four men he was led
through the streets to a large building, and then conducted to a room in
which a number of persons, some of them evidently of high rank, were
sitting. At the head of the table was a man of sinister aspect. He had
red hair and eyebrows, and a foxy, cunning face, and Harry guessed at
once that he was in the presence of the Earl of Argyll--a man who, even
more than the rest of his treacherous race, was hated and despised by
loyal Scotchmen. In all their history, a great portion of the Scottish
nobles were ever found ready to take English gold, and to plot against
their country. But the Argylls had borne a bad pre-eminence even among
these. They had hunted Wallace, had hounded down Bruce, and had ever
been prominent in fomenting dissensions in their country; the present
earl was probably the coldest and most treacherous of his race.
"We are told," he said sternly to the prisoner, "that you are a follower
of the man Charles; that you have been already engaged in plottings
among the good citizens of London, and we shrewdly suspect that your
presence here bodes no good to the state. What hast thou to say in thy
"I do not know that I am charged with any offence," Harry said quietly.
"I am an English gentleman, who, wishing to avoid the disorders in his
own country, has traveled north for peace and quietness. If you have
aught to urge against me or any evidence to give, I shall be prepared to
confute it. As for the preacher, whose evidence has caused my arrest, he
hath simply a grudge against me for a boyish freak, from which he
suffered at the time when I made my escape from a guardroom in London,
and his accusation against me is solely the result of prejudice."
Harry had already, upon his arrival at the jail, been searched
thoroughly, having been stripped, and even the folds and linings of his
garments ripped open, to see that they contained no correspondence.
Knowing that nothing whatever could have been found against him, unless,
indeed, his followers had also fallen into the hands of the Roundheads,
Harry was able to assume a position of injured innocence.
"Your tone comports not with your condition," the Earl of Argyll said
harshly. "We have found means here to make men of sterner mold than
thine speak the truth, and in the interests of the state we shall not
hesitate to use them against you also. The torturer here hath
instruments which would tear you limb from limb, and, young sir, these
will not be spared unless that malapert tongue of thine gives us the
information we desire to learn."
"I decline to answer any questions beyond what I have already said,"
Harry replied firmly. "I tell you that I am an English gentleman
traveling here on my own private business, and it were foul wrong for me
to be seized and punished upon the suspicion of such a one as that man
there;" and he pointed contemptuously to the preacher.
"You will be brought up again in two days," the earl said, "and if by
that time you have not made up your mind to confess all, it will go hard
with you. Think not that the life of a varlet like you will weigh for
one moment in the scale with the safety of the nation, or that any
regard for what you may consider in England the usages of war will
He waved his hand, and Harry was conducted back to jail, feeling far
more uneasy than he had done, for he knew that in Scotland very
different manners prevailed to those which characterized the English. In
England, throughout the war, no unnecessary bloodshed took place, and up
to that time the only persons executed in cold blood had been the two
gentlemen convicted of endeavoring to corrupt the Parliament in favor of
the king. But in Scotland, where civil broils were constant, blood was
ever shed recklessly on both sides; houses were given to the flames;
men, women, and children slaughtered; lands laid waste; and all the
atrocities which civil war, heightened by religious bigotry, could
Late that evening, the door of the prison opened, and a preacher was
shown into the room.
"I have come," he said in a nasal tone, "misguided young man, to pray
you to consider the wickedness of your ways. It is written that the
ungodly shall perish, and I would fain lead you from the errors of your
way before it is too late."
Harry had started as the speaker began; but he remained immovable until
the jailer closed the door.
"Jacob," he exclaimed, "how mad, how imprudent of you! I ordered you
specially, if I was arrested, to pay no heed, but to make your way
"I know that you did," Jacob said. "But you see you yourself talked of
remaining for three days in Edinburgh. Therefore, I knew that there
could be no pressing need of my journey north; and hearing some
whispers of the intention of the lord president to extract from a
certain prisoner the news of a plot with which he was supposed to be
connected, I thought it even best to come and see you."
"But how have you obtained this garb?" Harry asked; "and how, above all,
have you managed to penetrate hither?"
"Truly," Jacob said, "I have undertaken a difficult task in thy behalf,
for I have to-night to enter into a disputation with many learned
divines, and I dread that more than running the risk of meeting the Earl
of Argyll, who, they say, has the face of a fox, and the heart of a
"What mean you?" Harry asked.
"After we saw you dragged off by the townsmen, on being denounced by
that little preacher whose hat I spoiled in St. Paul's churchyard, we
followed your orders, and made back to our hostelry. There William Long
and myself talked the matter over. In the first place, we took all the
papers and documents which were concealed about us, and lifting a board
in the room, hid them beneath it, so that in case of our arrest they
would be safe. As we took out the documents, the commission which we
borrowed from the preachers met our eyes, and it struck me that, armed
with this, we might be enabled to do you service. I therefore at once
purchased cloaks and hats fitting for us as worthy divines from London,
and then, riding a mile or two into the country, we changed our
garments, and entered the good city of Edinburgh as English divines. We
proceeded direct to the house of the chief presbyter, to whom the
letters of commission were addressed, and were received by him with open
arms. I trust that we played our part rarely, and, in truth, the
unctuousness and godliness of William Long passeth belief, and he plays
his part well. Looking as he does far older than I--although in these
days of clean-shaven faces I can make up rarely for thirty--he assumed
the leading part. The presbyter would fain have summoned a number of his
divines for a discussion this evening. But we, pleading fatigue, begged
him to allow us two days of rest. He has, however, invited a few of his
fellows, and we are to wrestle with them this evening in argument. How
we shall get out of it I know not, for my head is altogether in
ignorance of the points in issue. However, there was, among the
documents of the preachers, one setting forth the points in which the
practice of the sect in England and Scotland differed, with the heads of
the arguments to be used. We have looked through these, and, as well as
we could understand the jumble of hard words, have endeavored to master
the points at issue, so we shall to-night confine ourselves to a bare
exposition of facts, and shall put off answering the arguments of the
other side until the drawn battle, which will be fixed for the day after
to-morrow. By the way, we accounted for the absence of our colleague by
saying that he fell sick on the way."
"But what is the use of all this risk?" Harry asked, laughing at the
thought of his two followers discussing theology with the learned
divines of the Scotch Church.
"That, in truth," Jacob said, "I do not yet exactly see; but I trust
that to-morrow we shall have contrived some plan of getting you out of
this prison. I shall return at the same time to-morrow evening."
"How did you get in here?" he asked.
"I had an order from the chief presbyter for entry. Saying that I
believed I knew you, and that my words might have some effect in turning
you from the evil of your ways, I volunteered to exhort you, and shall
give such an account of my mission as will lead them to give me a pass
to see you again to-morrow night."
The following evening Jacob again called, this time accompanied by
William. They brought with them another dress similar to their own.
Their visit was an hour later than upon the preceding evening.
"I learned," Jacob said, "that the guard was changed at eight o'clock,
and it is upon this that the success of our scheme depends. William will
immediately leave, and as he has been seen to enter by the guards
without, and by those at the prison gate, he will pass out without
questioning. In half an hour a fresh guard will be placed at both these
points, and you and I will march out together, armed with permission for
two preachers to pass."
The scheme appeared a hopeful one, and William took his departure after
a few minutes, saying to the guards without that he went to fetch a book
of reference which he needed to convince the hard-hearted reprobate
within. He left the door partly ajar, and the guards without were
edified by catching snatches of a discourse of exceeding godliness and
unction, delivered by the preacher to the prisoner.
Presently a trampling without informed Harry and Jacob that the guard
was being changed, and half an hour later they opened the door, and
Jacob, standing for a moment as they went out, addressed a few words of
earnest exhortation to the prisoner supposed to be within, adjuring him
to bethink himself whether it was better to sacrifice his life in the
cause of a wicked king than to purchase his freedom by forsaking the
error of his ways, and turning to the true belief. Then, closing the
door after him, Jacob strode along, accompanied by Harry, to the
guardroom. They passed through the yard of the prison to the gate. There
Jacob produced his pass for the entrance and exit of two divines, and
the guard, suspecting no evil, at once suffered them to go forth.
William had already been to the inn where they stopped, and had told the
host that he was charged to examine the chamber where the persons who