Part 2 out of 4
"Why not? " Gregory inquired. "I mean like the Wandering Jew Mr. Crawley
told us about. He called him the prince of vagabonds."
"Well," said the stranger, "Gregory's right. I am a vagabond. But I'm
something else too, and I'll tell you. I'm an artist. My name is Hamish
MacAngus. I live in the Snail most of the summer, and in London in the
winter. I cover pieces of cardboard and canvas with paint more or less like
trees, and cows, and sheep, and skies, and people who have more pennies
than brains buy them from me; and then I take the pennies, and change them
for the nice sensible things of life, such as bacon, and tobacco, and oats.
My horse's name is Pencil. I came here from Banbury, and I am making slowly
for Cropthorne. Now tell me all about yourselves. Tell me in the order of
The children looked at each other, and laughed.
"You first," said Mr. MacAngus, again to Janet; "you're the eldest, I can see."
"My name," said Janet, "is Janet Avory. I live in Chiswick. Our caravan is
the Slowcoach. We are going to Stratford-on-Avon. Our horse is called
"Oh, Janet," said Hester, "you're not leaving anything for us to tell!"
"Very well," said Janet, "that's all."
"My name," said Mary, "is Mary Rotheram. I am the daughter of a doctor at
Chiswick. My brother and I are the Avories' guests. I am fourteen. Father
has one of your pictures."
"Good judge!" Mr. MacAngus said.
"Now, Macbeth," he said, pointing to Robert.
"My name isn't Macbeth," said Robert.
"No," said the artist, "but that's how I think of you. Why? Can anyone tell
"I can," said Hester. "Because he woke you up--'Macbeth hath murdered sleep.'"
"Splendid!" said Mr. MacAngus. "As a reward you shall tell your story
before Macbeth does."
"I am nine," said Hester. "My name is Hester. I adore Shakespeare. I am
"Good!" said Mr. MacAngus. "We will read Shakespeare together this
afternoon. From the way you walk I can see that this is blister day. We
will all take it easy and be happy, and you shall cure your lameness. Now,
"I am thirteen," said Robert. "I am the geographer of the party. I am sorry
for murdering your sleep, but glad, too, because you're so jolly."
"Now you," said Mr. MacAngus to Jack Rotheram.
"I am not an Avory," said Jack. "I am Mary's brother. I am twelve. I am
going to Osborne next year."
"Very sensible of you," said Mr. MacAngus. "And you, sir," he added to
Horace Campbell, "the burglar's friend."
"My name is Horace Campbell," he replied. "I am the son of the Vicar of
Chiswick. I am nine. I am also the Keeper of the Tin-opener."
"Oh, yes," said Jack, "I forgot that. I am the Preserver of Enough Oil in
the Beatrice Stove."
"I am proud to meet such important personages," said Mr. MacAngus. "And
now, lastly, you,"--he said to Gregory,--"the little nipper, the tiny tot
of the party."
Gregory was furious. He scowled at the artist like thunder.
"Go on," said Mr. MacAngus; "don't mind me. I always tease little important
"My name is Gregory Bruce Avory," said Gregory, "and I am seven. I am going
to be an aviator. I have to ask the farmers if we may camp in their fields,
and I keep the corkscrew. Please tell me," he added, "why you call your
horse Pencil? "
"Because he draws me," said Mr. MacAngus.
"And now," he continued, "let us do the most interesting thing in the world
to people like ourselves: let us examine each other's caravans."
After they had finished visiting each other, and Mr. MacAngus had given
them, speaking as an old campaigner, some very useful if simple hints, such
as always pitching the tent with its back to the wind; and keeping inside a
supply of dry wood to light the fires with; and tying fern on Moses's head,
against the flies; and carrying cabbage leaves in their own hats, against
the heat; and walking with long staves instead of short walking
sticks--after this he made them all sit round their fire, and sketched
them, and the picture hangs at this very moment in Mrs. Avory's bedroom at
After lunch, which he shared with them, adding to the pot some very
fragrant mixed herbs from a little packet, they lay on the grass round him,
and he read to them from Shakespeare--first from "Macbeth," which was very
dreadful, but fine, and then from "Midsummer Night's Dream " and the
After supper he took them outside the Hollow, and they lay on their backs
and studied the stars, about which he knew everything that can be known,
and nothing whatever that Gregory wanted to know.
And they went to bed early, to be ready for the long journey on the
morrow-- with their feet covered with Mr. Lenox's ointment--declaring it
was one of the most delightful days they had ever spent.
The next morning was dull, but dry, and they were ready early, for there
were sixteen miles to be done before Stratford-on-Avon was reached. They
were, however, easy miles, twelve of them being on the flat beside the
Mr.MacAngus had decided to stay on in those parts a little longer before
making for Cropthorne, and therefore, after helping with the inspanning, as
he called packing up, he said good-bye, but gave them a list of the places
where it was worth while asking for him. They were sorry to lose him, but
the immediate future was too exciting, with Stratford-on-Avon and Mrs.
Avory in it, to allow time for regrets.
After a day entirely without any adventures they found Mrs. Avory. She was
waiting for them at the Shakespeare Hotel, which is one of the most
fascinating inns in England, with staircases and passages in lavish
profusion, and bedrooms named after the plays. Hester and her mother slept
in the "Winter's Tale," Janet and Mary in "Cymbeline." Robert and Gregory
were "The Two Gentlemen of Verona" for the time being, and Horace and Jack
lay in the "Comedy of Errors." Kink and Diogenes were somewhere at the
back, and the Slowcoach was in the yard, surrounded by motor-cars.
At the next table at dinner--in a beautiful old room with green matting on
the floor and a huge open fireplace--sat an old gentleman with white hair
and bright eyes behind very luminous spectacles, and from the tone in which
he talked to the waiter they guessed him to be an American. After dinner he
smoked cigarettes in an immensely long holder of amber and gold, and now
and then smiled at the children.
They were all rather tired, and went quickly to bed. Robert, who, you
remember, had been so contemptuous of the Shakespeare Hotel blankets and
sheets, slept a full ten hours; never, indeed, can a Gentleman of Verona
have passed a better night; and the others expressed no grief at having to
lie in proper beds once more.
When they came down to breakfast the next morning, they found a letter
Mr. KINK' S CHILDREN'S PARTY.
Robert looked at it, and threw it down.
"Very offensive," he said.
Mrs. Avory handed it to Janet.
"Whoever can it be from?" Janet asked, turning it over and over. "The
postmark is Chiswick."
"A good way to find out," said Gregory, "is to open it."
Janet did so, and read it, laughing. "It's an attempt at a nasty letter
from William," she said. "He's pretending to be cross because Jack won.
Poor William! Listen:
DEAR LITTLE ONES,
"I hope you are having a good time in that stuffy caravan, and manage to
avoid blisters. I thought you would like to hear that father has given me
leave to go to Sheppey, and stay for three days with Mr. Fowler, who has
promised to take me up in an aeroplane. I am also to have riding-lessons,
and Aunt Mildred has promised me a pony, being so sorry to hear that I was
done out of the caravan trip by a fluke. Uncle Jim has sent me 5 pounds.
According to the papers the weather is going to break up directly. Your
affectionate and prosperous friend,
Jack was speechless with fury. "The story-teller!" he cried.
But Mary laughed. "I think it's rather clever," she said. "It almost took
"Do you mean to say it's a good joke?" Jack asked.
"I think so," said Mary.
"I don't," said Jack. "I think jokes ought to be straightforward. I think
you ought to know exactly that they are jokes."
"Miss Bingham," said Robert, "would say that such inventions were in poor
"So they are," said Jack.
"Poor William!" said Mrs. Avory. "You oughtn't to be cross with him, Jack.
After all, he did lose when you tossed up."
"Yes," said Jack. "But, look here, Mrs. Avory, suppose some of it's true."
At this they all roared, for it showed what Jack's trouble really was.
"Oh, Jack," said his sister, "you mustn't want everything. Even if it were
true, you ought to be much happier here."
"Have some more coffee, Jack," Mrs. Avory said quickly.
As it was Sunday, they went to Trinity Church (which usually costs sixpence
to enter, because of Shakespeare's tomb--a charge of which I am sure the
poet would not approve). As the words in the sermon grew longer and longer,
Hester made renewed efforts to get a glimpse of the tomb, but it was in a
part of the chancel that was not within sight. She had instead to study the
windows, which she always liked to do in church; and she found herself
repeating the lines on the tomb, which she had long known:
"Good friend, for Jesus sake forbeare To digg the dust enclosed heare:
Bleste be ye man Yt spares these stones, And curst be he yt moves my
On Sunday, even after service, the church was not on view, but the next day
it was there that they hurried directly after breakfast, Hester carrying
with her some little bunches of flowers. They paid their sixpences, and
made straight for Shakespeare's tomb, and stood before the coloured
bust--that bust which you see in reproduction at every turn in this loyal
town. It is perhaps more interesting than impressive,
and the children had a serious argument over it, Jack even daring to say
that the face was stupid-looking, and Gregory declining almost petulantly
to consider Shakespeare in the least like a swan.
Poor Hester, how to defend him against these horrid boys!
Janet came to the rescue by saying that Jack was probably thinking that the
forehead was too high; but a high forehead was a sign of genius.
"It may be so," said Jack, "but father has a poor patient with water on the
brain just like that." (What can you do with people, who talk in this way
"But, of course," said Horace, "it doesn't matter what he looked like
really, because he didn't write the plays at all. They were written by
This led to acute trouble.
"How can you say such wicked things!" Hester protested, bursting into tears.
"But I read it in a book," said Horace, who had not wished to hurt her, but
still desired to serve the truth. "It was sent to father."
"Everything in books isn't true," said Janet.
"Oh, I say!" said Horace.
"Of course it's not," said Mary. "Books are always being replied to and
"Well, this book was by a Member of Parliament," said Horace.
This was very awkward for the defenders of Shakespeare. What were they to do?
Gregory, who had not seemed to be interested in the debate, settled it. He
walked up to an old man who was standing near them, and asked him. "It
isn't true," he said, "is it, that Shakespeare's works were written by
"No," said the old man, "it's a wicked falsehood."
"How do you know?" asked Horace.
"How do I know!" exclaimed the old man. "Why, I've lived at Stratford, man
and boy, seventy years, and of course I know."
"Of course," said Janet.
"But a Member of Parliament says it was Bacon," Horace persisted.
"What's he Member for?" the old man asked. "Eh? Not for Stratford-on-Avon,
I'll be bound."
"I don't know," said Horace, who had nothing else to say.
"Take my advice," the old man replied, "and don't believe anyone who says
that Shakespeare wanted help. Look at that brow!"
"But he isn't like a swan, is he?" Gregory asked.
"Of course not," said the old man. "That's poetry. If he had been like a
swan, it wouldn't have been poetry to call him one."
Gregory pondered for a little while. Then he asked: "Would it be poetry to
call a swan a Shakespeare?"
"Oh, Gregory, come away," said Janet; "you're too clever this morning!"
Hester, however, still had much to do, and she refused to go until she had
laid some flowers also on Anne Hathaway's tomb and on that of Susanna,
Shakespeare's daughter, who married Dr. Hall. She also copied the epitaph,
"Witty above her sexe, but that's not all,
Wise to Salvation was good Mistress Hall."
But I am going too fast, for this was Monday morning, and we have not yet
accounted for all of Sunday. The only Shakespeare relic which they visited
that day was the site of his house, New Place, close to the hotel. The
house, of course, should be standing now, and would be, but for the
behaviour of a deplorable clergyman, as you shall hear. Shakespeare, grown
rich, and thinking of returning to Stratford from London, bought New Place
for his home; he died there in 1616, and his wife and daughter, or his
descendants, lived in it for many years after. And then it was bought by
the Rev. Francis Gastrell, a Cheshire vicar, who began by cutting down
Shakespeare's mulberry tree--under which not only the poet had sat, but
also Garrick--because he was annoyed that visitors wished to see it; and
then, a little later, in his rage at the demand for the poor rate (a tax to
help support the workhouse, which, since he was living elsewhere, he
considered he ought not to have to pay), he pulled down the building too.
That was in 1759, and now the site of the house is a public garden where
you may walk and still see of this memorable habitation only the traces of
some of the walls and Shakespeare's well.
They found the old gentleman from the hotel in the garden reading his
guidebook, and it was he who told them the story. "So far as I can
understand," said he, "nothing was done to the man at all. Nobody
horsewhipped him. It was lucky it did not happen in America."
The old gentleman, whose name was Nicholas Imber, and who came from
Philadelphia, then took them to see Harvard house, of which he, as an
American, was very proud, and they drifted about with him, and looked at
other of the old Stratford buildings.
All the time he kept on saying quietly to himself: "Vengeance on the Rev.
"Perhaps," said Hester, "there is a mistake in the verses in the church.
Perhaps they ought to be:
"'Bleste be ye man yt spares these bones,
And curst be he yt moves my stones.'
That would mean the Rev. Francis Gastrell."
"I hope so," said Mr. Imber. "It's a very good idea. But why do you like
"He's so wonderful," said Hester.
"Yes, but so is Scott, say, and Dickens."
"Oh, but Shakespeare's so beautiful, too," said Hester.
The children had gone alone to the church on the Monday morning. On
returning to the hotel they found Mrs. Avory ready for them, and all
started for the birthplace in Henley Street, where Shakespeare was born,
probably on April 23, 1564. This is now a museum with all kinds of
Shakespeare relics in it, profoundly interesting to Hester if not to the
others. The desk at which he sat in the Grammar School is there; and his
big chair from the Falcon Inn at Bidford; and many portraits; and on one of
the windows, scratched with a diamond, is the name of Sir Walter Scott. The
boys wanted to write their names, too, but it is no longer allowed;
although I fancy that if Sir Walter Scott could visit Stratford again he
would be permitted to break the rule.
They stood in the bedroom where Shakespeare was born, and where his father
and mother probably died; and they looked into the garden where he used to
play; and Horace very mischievously pointed out the fireplace in the
kitchen where, as he told Hester, they cooked their bacon.
Mrs. Avory was then informed of the mean attacks on Shakespeare which
Horace had made in the church, and their complete refutation by the old
man, whose judgment she upheld.
"Horace," she said, "oughtn't to be here at all. He ought to be at St.
Albans. We will look up the trains when we get back to the hotel."
Horace was not quite certain whether this was serious or not. "Why St.
Albans?" he asked.
"Because that is where your friend Bacon lived," said Mrs. Avory.
The next place to visit was the Memorial, which is a very ugly building by
the river, where the Festival is held every spring. This is not very
interesting to children, being given up to books and pictures connected
with the stage; but close by are the steps leading to the boats, each of
which has a Shakespearian name, and Mrs. Avory allowed them to row about
for an hour before lunch. This they did, Robert and Mary and Horace and
Hester in the _Hermione_, and Janet and Gregory and Jack in the _Rosalind._
After lunch, while they were waiting about in the hall looking at the
pictures, and not quite sure what to do, Mr. Imber of Philadelphia
approached them. "I wonder," he said, "if you would do me a favour. I have
scores of nephews and nieces, and also many friends, in America, to whom I
want to send picture postcards. Now," he continued, "listen here. Here's
seven shillings, one for each of you; and here's a five-shilling piece. Now
I am going to give you each a shilling to buy picture post cards with, and
I want you each to buy them separately--in different shops if you like
--and then bring them back to me, and I'll give the five-shilling piece to
the one who has what I think the best collection. Now off you go."
So they hurried off. Stratford-on-Avon, I may tell you, exists almost
entirely on the sale of picture postcards and Shakespeare relics, and there
was therefore no difficulty in finding seven shops, each with a first-class
In this way an hour went very pleasantly, and then the results were laid
before the old gentleman. Of course, there were many duplicates, but each
collection had four or five cards that the others had not. After long
consideration, Mr. Imber handed the five shillings to Mary.
Gregory's was the only really original collection, for, taking advantage of
the circumstance that Mr. Imber had said nothing about the postcards being
strictly of Stratford-on-Avon, he had bought only what pleased himself: all
being what are called comic cards--dreadful pictures of mothers-in-law, and
twins, and surprised lovers.
Mr. Imber laughed, and told him to keep them.
"Now," said Gregory, selecting a peculiarly vulgar picture of a bull
tossing a red-nosed man into a cucumber frame, "I shall send this to Miss
"Gregory!" exclaimed Janet; "you shall do nothing of the kind."
"Why not?" Gregory asked. "She'll only laugh, and say: 'How coarse!'"
"No," said Janet, "we'll take them back to the shop, and change them for
"Oh, no, not all," Gregory pleaded. "Collins would love this one of the
policeman with a cold pie being put into his hand by the cook behind his
"Very well," said Janet, "you may send her that, especially as we're
getting her some pretty ones."
"Yes," said Gregory, "and Eliza must have this one of the soldier pushing
the twins in the perambulator"
"Very well," said Janet, "but no others."
"Oh, yes," said Gregory, "there's Runcie. I'm sure she'd love this one of
the curate being pulled both ways at once by two fat women. She's so
After tea they walked to Shottery to see Anne Hathaway's cottage, although
not even Hester could be very keen about the poet's wife. Hester, indeed,
had it firmly in her head that she was not kind to him. "Otherwise," she
said, "he would have left her his best bed instead of his second-best bed."
None the less Hester was very glad to have Mr. Imber's present of little
china models of the cottage and the birthplace. To the others he gave
either these or coloured busts of Shakespeare; and to Gregory an ivory
pencil-case containing a tiny piece of glass into which you peeped and saw
twelve views of Stratford-on-Avon.
After dinner they sat down to the serious task of writing on the picture
postcards which they had bought for themselves, while Gregory earned
sixpence by sticking stamps on Mr. Imber's vast supply. Jack felt it his
duty also to write to William:
"Thanks for your very kind and informing letter. We are glad you are having
such a good time. This is a rotten caravan, and you are well out of it.
"P.S.--Don't fall off your clothes-horse too often."
THE ADVENTURE OF THE YOUNG POLICE-
Mrs. Avory's train to London was an early one, and the Slowcoaches had left
Stratford behind them before ten, and
were by eleven at Binton Bridges, where the river again joins the road, and
where they stopped to discuss the question whether to go straight on
through Bidford and the Salfords, or to take the road to the south of the
Avon through Welsford and the Littletons.
Robert was very firm for the Bidford way, and, of course, he won; and, as
it happened, it was very well that he did.
It was a fine, bracing day, and they were all very vigorous after the two
days of rest in Stratford, and they therefore trudged gaily along in the
sun, not stopping again until just before Bidford, on the hill where
Shakespeare's crab-tree used to grow, under which he had slept so long
after one of his drinking contests. For it seems to have been his habit to
go now and then with other Stratford friends to neighbouring villages to
see whether they or the villagers could drink the most--a custom that even
Hester found it hard to defend. Indeed, she got no farther than to say: "I
am sure he was naturally troubled by thirst."
The tree has gone, but another stands in its place, and by this the
children sat and ate a little lunch, and talked about the poet. Robert
repeated to them the old rhyme about the Warwickshire villages which
Shakespeare is said to have composed--possibly in this very field:
"Piping Pebworth, dancing Marston,
Haunted Hillborough, hungry Grafton,
Dodging Exhall, Papist Wixford,
Beggarly Broom and drunken Bidford."
Bidford is not drunken now; it is only sleepy: a long steep street, with,
at the top, the church and a beautiful old house, now cottages, once the
Falcon Inn, where Shakespeare used to drink, and where the chair came from
that they had seen at the birthplace yesterday; and at the foot the Swan
Inn and the old bridge.
Bidford is built very like a wateringplace--that is to say, it is all on
one side of the river. The water to-day looked very tempting, especially as
a great number of boats were lying on it waiting to be hired; but Robert
sternly ordered his party onwards.
Has it ever occurred to you that in the life of every policeman there is
one day when he wears his majestic uniform in public for the first time ?
It must, of course, be so. No matter how many times he may have put it on
at home privately, to get used to it, the day must at last come when he has
to walk forth into the streets, and in the eyes of those who have known him
ever since he was a boy, or even a baby, changed from a man like themselves
to an important and rather dreadful guardian of the peace. If he is a
simple fellow, the great day may leave him very much as he was; but if he
is at all given to conceit, it may make him worse.
Now it happened that this Tuesday on which the Slowcoaches were on their
way from Stratford to Evesham was the very day on which Benjamin Roper was
beginning his duties as a member of the Warwickshire constabulary. His beat
in the morning lay between Bidford and Salford Priors, and he was standing
beside the road, on the top of the little hill called Marriage Hill--just
before you cross the River Arrow and come to Salford Priors station--at the
very moment that Moses, after painfully dragging the Slowcoach up the same
eminence, had reached the summit.
At the door of the caravan were to be seen Mary, Hester, and Gregory, whose
turn it was to ride; and P.C. Roper stared in astonishment at faces so
unlike the swarthy, tanned children he was expecting.
He stared so long indeed--everything being a little strange to him that
day--that Jack, who, with Horace, was walking just behind, politely but
with every intention of being severe, inquired: "Do you think you'll know
us next time?"
P.C. Roper said nothing, but frowned at Jack with an expression so full of
dignity, reprimand, and suspicion that Jack could not help laughing.
"Oh, I say," he said, "don't be cross. Mayn't we go about in a caravan if
we want to? No one else has objected."
"No," Horace added, "the King said nothing as we came through London, and
the Mayor of Stratford asked us to tea."
Kink laughed at this--much too loudly--and the young policeman realized
that he had been foolish. Instead, however, of laughing, too, he became
more important and angry, and suddenly he thought of a means of
Pulling out a notebook and pencil, he said: "I want to see your license for
this caravan." He said this not because he really wanted to see it, but
because it suggested itself as a good demand and one which would make the
children realize that he was a man of authority not to be trifled with. But
when he saw the blank which fell on their faces, and even on Kink's too, he
knew that he had stumbled by chance on an excellent weapon, and he resolved
to make the most of it.
"Come," he said, "the license. I'm waiting to see it."
Janet and Robert, who had by this time come up, were told of the difficulty.
"License?" said Robert. "What license?"
"All carriages must have licenses," said the policeman, "and all caravans
have to produce theirs when called for, because they're always moving
The children gathered round Kink to discuss it. Kink said that it was all
Greek to him. He supposed, of course, that caravans had to have licenses,
but he'd never heard of demands for them in the highroad. "But do be civil
to him, Master Robert," he implored. "You never get any good out of
cheeking the police."
"Well," said Robert to the constable, "this caravan was given to us. The
license for it was got, I feel sure, by the person who gave it to us."
"Who was that person?" P.C. Roper asked, with his pencil ready to write
down the name.
Here was a poser. Who indeed? The children had discussed X. often enough,
but were no nearer to discovering him.
"I don't know," Robert was forced to say.
P.C. Roper smiled a deadly smile. "Oho!" he said. "You don't know who gave
you the caravan! Things are looking up. Caravans drop from the sky, do
they? A very thin story indeed. I'll trouble you to come with me, all of
you, and see my inspector."
P.C. Roper was quite happy now. He had not only filled the impertinent
children with fear, but he had done a smart thing on his very first day as
constable. He drew himself up, and returned the notebook to his pocket.
"Your inspector?" Robert said. "Where does he live?"
"Well," said P.C. Roper, "he lives at Bidford, but he's at Stratford
to-day, at the Police Court, and he won't be back till the evening."
"We can't wait till evening," Robert said. "It would throw out all our plans."
"Plans!" exclaimed P.C. Roper. "Plans indeed! Aren't you suspicious-looking
persons in the possession of an unlicensed caravan, and unable to give any
reasonable account of how you got it? Your plans can wait."
"Please give us a little time to discuss it," Janet said, and they all
surrounded Kink once more.
"Of course it's absurd," Jack said; "but what an awful pity you don't know
who X. is! That's what makes the trouble. It looks so silly, too."
"Do you really think that caravans have to show licenses?" Janet asked Kink.
"I never thought about it," Kink said, "but it sounds reasonable in a way.
Gipsies, you know. If Master Campbell hadn't said that about the King and
the Mayor I shouldn't have laughed, and then the copper wouldn't have lost
his wool, and we should be all right."
"Never mind about that," said Janet. "We can't bother about what is done.
The thing is, what we are to do. How funny of Mr. Lenox not to have thought
about the license!--he thought of everything else."
"Yes, and X. too," said Robert. "But it's just terrible to have to go back
and wait all day for the inspector. We are due at Evesham this afternoon."
"Couldn't we overpower him," Horace said, "and bind him, and leave him in
"Yes," said Hester, "or ask him to have a glass of milk, and drug it?"
"Don't be absurd," said Robert. "This is serious. All right," he called out
to P.C. Roper, who was getting anxious, "we're just coming."
Then Janet had a happy thought. "I say," she exclaimed, "where is that
envelope that Uncle Christopher gave us? He said we were to open it if we
got into a real mess. Well, now's the time."
"It's in the safe," said Robert, and he dashed into the caravan and brought
Janet opened it and read it slowly. Then she smiled a radiant smile, and,
advancing to the constable, handed him a paper.
"Here is the license," she said; "you will find our name and address on it.
Now, perhaps, we may go on."
P.C. Roper read the license very carefully, frowned, and handed it back.
"It would save a lot of trouble," he said, " if you would produce such
things directly you were asked for them."
"But we didn't know we'd got it," Janet said.
P.C. Roper pressed his hand to his forehead. "I don't know where I am," he
"They've got a caravan, and they don't know who gave it to them; and
they've got envelopes, and they don't know what's in them. Does your mother
know you're out?" he added as a farewell shot.
The Slowcoaches could not help it; they gave him three cheers, and then
three more for Uncle Christopher.
"Well," said Janet, "that's all right, but it's lucky he did not see Uncle
Christopher's letter. Listen:
"It has suddenly occurred to me that some ass of a policeman may want to
see your license, and I have therefore procured one for you. If you get
into any kind of trouble, be sure to give my name and address, and
telegraph for me.
"Your affectionate Uncle,
"It would have been better," Kink said, "if your uncle had handed you the
license right away--not made a mystery of it."
"Oh, no," said Hester.
As it happened, they were destined not to reach Evesham that day, for at
Abbots Salford Moses cast a shoe, and that meant the blacksmith and delay.
When the accident was discovered, and the children were surrounding Moses
and helping Kink in his examination of the hoof, a farmer who was walking
by stopped and joined them. He asked the trouble, and offered them his
"You put your caravan in my yard there," he said, pointing to a beautiful
gateway just ahead, "and you make yourselves comfortable there while the
horse is being shod. I'll show you the house if you like," he added; "it's
very old, and haunted too, and there's a grand boatingplace at the weir
just across the meadows. Don't worry about the horse or anything.
If you go to bed early and get up early, it will come to the same thing as
if you had gone right on."
Everyone except Robert, who liked to see his time-tables obeyed, and
perhaps Gregory, who had been deprived for some days of his office of
asking leave for a camping-ground, and was now balked again, was glad of
the mischance that brought camp so early, and Hester was wild with
pleasure, for Salford Hall is an old mansion of grey stone, built three
hundred years ago, and now mysterious and, except for a few rooms,
desolate. It has also an old garden and a fish-pond, and a little Roman
Catholic chapel whose altar-candles have been alight for centuries.
The farmer was very kind. He gave the children leave to go anywhere and
everywhere, but they must not, he said, run or jump, because the floors
were not strong enough. He led them from room to room, to the
dancing-gallery in the roof.
There was a very old bagatelle-table in one room, all moth-eaten, and a few
old pictures still on the walls--a knight and his lady with Elizabethan
ruffs, and a portrait of a greyhound. From a top window the farmer showed
them Evesham's bell-tower.
But the most exciting moment was when each of them in turn was allowed to
hide in the priest's hiding-hole. This was a very ingenious cupboard behind
a row of shelves intended to have books or china on them, which swung back
when you loosened a catch. Hester crouched here and shut her eyes, and
firmly believed that the Protestants were after her.
In her next letter she implored her mother to take the Hall, and live there
in the summer. "I am sure," she wrote, "it would be very cheap, because it
is so shabby and is crumbling away in many places. I would gladly live in
the priest's hiding-hole always. Please think about it seriously."
Afterwards the farmer showed them the way down to the weir, over the
railway, and advised them to have the caravan taken down there, and sleep
there that night near the rushing water.
"You couldn't have done it two months ago," he said.
"Why not?" Robert asked.
"Guess why," said the farmer.
And will you believe it, none of them could guess.
"Because it was flooded," said the farmer. "In winter it's often just a
great lake, from the railway at the foot of our garden right to the
And so Moses (with a beautiful new shoe) was put into the shafts again, and
they went gently over the soft green meadows to the weir, and there they
had their supper, and explored the mill and the shaggy wood overhanging it,
and rowed a little in a very safe boat, and stood on the little bridges,
and watched the rushing water, and then walked slowly beside the still
stream higher up as the light began to fade, and surprised the water-rats
feeding or gossiping on the banks--none of which things could they have
done had Moses had the poor sense to retain his near fore-shoe.
THE ADVENTURE OF THE LITTLE OLD LADY
They left the weir very early the next morning, after a breakfast from the
cold ham which Mrs. Avory had bought them at Stratford. On their way
through the village they stopped at Salford Hall, because Hester and
Gregory had had an argument as to whether or not it was possible to hear
the breathing of the person in the hiding-hole. The farmer allowed them to
go upstairs and try, and, as it happened, Hester was right, and you could
hear it, if you had patience. Gregory came out again as purple as a plum
it in so long.
Then they said good-bye to the farmer and strode on through Harrington and
Norton, and a little beyond this Robert took those that cared about it to
see the obelisk on the site of the Battle of Evesham, at which Simon de
Montfort was killed in 1265. And so they came through the orchards of
plum-trees, on which the fruit was now forming, to Evesham itself.
It was while they were walking through Evesham, beside or behind the
Slowcoach, in the middle of the road, that Janet felt a hand on her arm,
and, looking round, perceived a very small and very neat and very anxious
little servant maid.
"Please," she said, "Miss Redstone, my mistress says, will you all step
into her house and partake of refreshment, and do her a very great favour?"
Janet could hardly believe her ears.
"All of us!" she exclaimed.
"Yes," said the little servant, "all, please."
Janet thought very hard for a moment or two. Who was this Miss Redstone?
What would Mrs. Avory do under the same circumstances? she was asking
herself. "Which house?" she inquired at last.
"That one," said the little anxious servant, pointing to the neatest and
brightest little house you ever saw, with dazzling steps and a shining
knocker, and a poor little pathetic face peering hopefully over the blind.
The pathetic little face settled it. "All right," Janet said at once, and,
calling the others together and telling Kink to wait for them outside the
town, she led them in.
They were shown into a tiny and spotless parlour, with woolwork footstools,
where after a moment or so they were joined by Miss Redstone, the little
old lady whom Janet had seen at the window, but whose face was now smiling
"You must think me very strange, my dears," she said, "but I will explain.
I am Godfrey Fairfax."
A dreadful silence fell on the room. The children looked at each other
shamefacedly, and almost in fear, for they thought the little old lady must
As for her, she again looked the picture of woe. "O dear," she said, "is it
possible that none of you have ever even heard of me! Surely one of my
stories must have found its way to your house?"
"Do you write stories?" Janet asked.
"Yes, I have written lots, but I'm afraid they don't sell as they ought to.
Of course, Godfrey Fairfax is not my real name; it is just the name I take
as a writer, because people prefer that books should be written by a man
rather than by a woman. I am really Miss Redstone. Why I called you in was
to ask if you would be so very kind as to sit down and have some cake and
milk while I read you my last story--quite a short one--and you can tell me
what you think of it. There are so few children that I know here, and it
makes such a difference to get some real criticism. Do you mind?"
They all said they didn't mind at all, and after the cake and milk had been
brought in by the little servant, Godfrey Fairfax cleared her throat and
"It is a story," she said, "of Roundheads and Cavaliers--a very suitable
story to write here, so close to the battlefields of Tewkesbury and Marston
Moor. It is called 'Barbara's Fugitive.' Now listen, my dears."
BARBARA S FUGITIVE
On a bright June morning, early in the Protectorate, Colonel Myddelton,
followed by a groom, rode through the gates of the old Hall and turned his
horse's head towards London. At the bend in the road, halfway up Sheringham
Hill, he stopped a moment and waved his hand in the direction of the house.
A white handkerchief fluttered at an upper window in reply.
"My poor lonely Barbara!" said the Colonel, smiling tenderly as he passed
again out of sight of his daughter.
"Dear father!" said Barbara, as the Colonel disappeared from view. She did
not, however, at once leave the window, but remained leaning out, with the
warm touch of the sun on her head, drinking in the morning sounds.
The village, half a mile distant, was just visible to Barbara through the
trees--red-roofed, compact, the cottages gathering about the church like
chickens round the mother hen. On a summer day like this anyone listening
at the Hall could hear the busy noises, the hum of this little hive of
humanity, with perfect clearness; the beat of the hammer on the anvil in
Matthew Hale's smithy, the "Gee, whoa!" of the carter on the distant road,
the scrunching of the wagon-wheels, the crowing cocks, and now and then the
shouts of boys and the laughter of children. These audible tokens of active
life were a comfort to Barbara. A moment before, on parting with her
father, she was aware of a new and disturbing loneliness, but now she felt
no longer with the same melancholy that she was solitary, apart from her
It was the time when the country was divided between the followers of the
Throne and the followers of Cromwell; the time when sour visages, who were
for the moment in the places of authority, glowered beneath black hats, and
the village games were forbidden; the time when Royalist gentlemen dropped
a crumb into their wineglasses after dinner, and, looking meaningly at each
other, tossed off the red liquor, saying fervently as they did so, "God
send this CRUMB WELL down." But actual fighting was over, and the country
on the surface peaceable again, although a word often was sufficient to
draw forth steel among the high folks or set an inn full of villagers to
fisticuffs. There was not a Royalist in the country but awaited the moment
when he could strike another blow to avenge his dead master and reinstate
his young Prince. Among these loyal gentlemen Colonel Myddelton was not the
Colonel Myddelton was a widower, and Barbara, young though she was, had
long acted as the mistress of the household. Yet, in spite of her good
sense and caution, Barbara had been the obstacle to the Colonel's
departure. She was, he considered, unfit to be left alone with no more
stalwart companions than old Digger, the maids, and the children; but her
repeated assurances that she felt no foreboding at last conquered, and that
morning, as we have seen, he had ridden off.
"You know, father," she had told him again and again, "Philip is close at
hand, and truly I can see no danger. Was not I alone for days and nights
together when you were with the King and the Prince?"
"Well, well," the Colonel had responded at last; "but I shall speak a word
to Matthew as I pass the forge to-day, and he will keep his eye on the
place." Matthew Hale, the blacksmith, had served under Colonel Myddelton in
more than one campaign, and he rang as true as his own anvil.
Thus it was that Barbara was left alone in the great house, with none to
bear her company but Jack, who was but twelve, and Marjorie, who was but
eight, and little Alys, and old Digger, the odd man, and the maids. There
were also, it is true, stablemen and gardeners, but they lived in the
The next of age to Barbara was Philip (Philip Sidney Myddelton in full, so
named after that sweet and noble gentleman and soldier who fell at
Zutphen). Philip was sixteen, and at this time was still at his lessons
with Mr. Fullarton, of Framshott, a village eight miles distant. Mr.
Fullarton was a ripe scholar who kept a house wherein some score of boys
whose parents had no strong liking for the great grammar schools were
received and fitted with enough learning to take them into Oxford or
Cambridge. The boys ranged in age from ten to seventeen, and at this time
Philip was their leader. None could shoot with a crossbow as skillfully as
he (that very spring he had killed twenty-three water-rats, and you know
how wary they are); none was so fearless a rider; none more expert at
flying the hawk or training hounds. The boys' worthy instructor received a
liberal sum in payment for his services, and his house was thus made more
of a home than a mere school. Each boy who wanted it was permitted to keep
his own horse and dog, and after lessons were over their liberty was little
encroached upon, provided that they observed the rules of the house.
The Reverend Jeremy Fullarton was Royalist to the marrow, and only
Royalists entrusted their sons to his keeping; hence
the house was a home of Cavalier sentiment. The older boys had even
constituted themselves into a little corps, and all games had given way
before the joys of drilling and military tactics. Here again Philip led,
although his sworn allies, Hugh Lorimer and Vernon Hutchinson (a nephew of
the great Colonel Hutchinson, whose memoirs were written by his wife Lucy)
and Rupert Ommaney, shared the command. Not often do you find a bond
uniting as many as four schoolboys in devoted friendship, but such was the
case with this gallant quartet, Philip and Hugh, Rupert and Vernon.
"IS IT INTERESTING?" THE LITTLE OLD LADY ASKED EARNESTLY.
"VERY," SAID JANET.
"I LIKE BARBARA," SAID HESTER.
"I LIKE PHILIP," SAID GREGORY.
GODFREY FAIRFAX WAS ABOUT TO BEGIN AGAIN, WHEN HORACE INTERRUPTED.
"EXCUSE ME," HE SAID. "BUT I'VE BEEN THINKING. DIDN'T YOU WRITE 'FOR THE
"YES," SHE SAID.
"WHY," SAID HORACE, "THAT'S MY FAVOURITE BOOK. YOU REMEMBER THAT, JACK? THE
WARS OF THE ROSES AND THE YORKIST FAMILY? YOU MUST REMEMBER WHERE THE
SPY--GILES FEATHERHEAD--IS CAUGHT IN THE BUTTERY, AND HOW THEY DUCK HIM?"
"OF COURSE I DO," SAID JACK. "IT'S PERFECTLY RIPPING."
GODFREY FAIRFAX WAS SO PLEASED TO HEAR THIS THAT HER VOICE FOR A MOMENT OR
TWO WAS QUITE HUSKY. THEN SHE RESUMED.
In the evening Matthew Hale appeared bearing a basket of tools, and
insisted upon testing all locks and bolts, and Barbara and he explored the
house together, making all safe with the exception of a window in the
library. This room was on the ground-floor, easily accessible, and, try as
he would, there was one window which the blacksmith could not secure. The
good fellow was for sleeping on the floor all night by way of guard, but
Barbara would not hear of it, and, in the end, Bevis, the mastiff, the
great dog that had followed Colonel Myddelton into camp in the late war,
was chained outside the window. Satisfied with this arrangement, Matthew
pulled his forelock and said good night, and Barbara prepared for bed.
Folks kept better hours in those days than we now do. First she peeped in
at the sleeping children. Then she talked long and earnestly with the cook
concerning the morrow's programme, and at nine o'clock she climbed to her
Barbara, however, could not sleep; so, after an hour or two had passed, she
rose, lit a candle, threw on a wrap, and descended the broad staircase,
intent upon a queer and enthralling Spanish book--the story of a mad knight
and his comic, matter-of-fact attendant, which was a favourite of her
The book was wont to stand in a corner of the library close to his hand as
he sat writing by the window, and, opening the door, Barbara crossed the
floor with her hand outstretched to take it. So familiar was she with the
mad knight's position on the shelves that she carried no light.
Her hand was within a yard of the sheepskin cover when she leaped back with
frozen blood, for there, a foot from her, in her father's chair, was the
figure of a man. Instantly she remembered the open window. A breath from
the roses floated in and fanned her face; until her dying day Barbara had
but to be conscious of the scent of roses to see again that darkened room,
to feel again that tightening of the heart. She could neither scream nor
The tension was snapped by the man himself, who suddenly awoke and
stretched his arms, and, in doing so, smote Barbara on the shoulder. He
sprang to his feet with a cry of astonishment and apology, and at that
moment she was herself again.
"A thousand pardons," he said, bowing low before her.
"Who--who are you?" Barbara found words to ask. "And what is your business
here? It is no part of a gentleman's behaviour to enter houses by the
"Nay," said the man, and Barbara noted that his speech was of one gently
born--"nay, it is truly no gentleman's conduct, but in these days, when
Kings are laid low at the hands of traitors"--and his voice had a bitter
ring--"and rebels sit in high places, a gentleman must perforce descend to
trickery and meanness now and then."
Barbara repeated her question. "But tell me who you are, and what you want?
There is a gate to the place; there are servants to open it. Why did you
steal upon us thus? And Bevis?" she added, as a sudden misgiving seized
her, "he was chained by the window. Have you killed him? Oh, say you have
not hurt Bevis?"
"Nay, I could not hurt an old friend," said the stranger. "Bevis and I are
old friends. He remembered me at once."
Barbara's fear diminished somewhat at these words. "Old friends!" she
exclaimed, half reassured.
"Yes," said the stranger, "we were together in the west. Colonel Mvddelton,
whom I have striven hither to talk with, and I went through a campaign
together; a futile campaign, I fear, with more of pursuit than pursuing,
but for a high cause. I'faith, it seems my lot to be pursued. And you, fair
lady (for, dark though it is, I know you are fair), are you Colonel
Myddelton's daughter, the mistress Barbara, of whom he has told me?"
"I am Colonel Myddelton's daughter," said Barbara. "But you, sir?"
"Right, right," the stranger replied, more gaily; "you ply me hard, but my
name stays secret, none the less. Yet this ring may perhaps convince you I
am no common housebreaker. See, it was the gift of your father, and a
passport, so he said, to Myddelton Hall by day or night." And he stretched
forth a ring, which Barbara immediately recognized as an old signet of her
father's which suddenly he had ceased to wear, he said not why. She was
partially satisfied. "And Bevis," added the stranger--"take it, will you
not, dear lady, as a good omen that Bevis let me pass almost unchallenged?
But your father," he went on--"is he ill, or away? or will you lead me to
him? Had I not fallen asleep, I was about to seek his room. As for entering
by the gate, you must know, young mistress, the danger now run by friends
of the late King."
"Ah, yes," said Barbara, with a sigh. "My father," she added, "rode this
morning to London, where he will be a week yet; but I can tell you where he
is lodged. Will you not follow him?"
"London!" the young man repeated, in disappointed tones; "what does he
there? London is no place for a true man."
"He has ridden thither," said Barbara, "on matters touching his property,
which the rebels would confiscate."
"Rebels!" cried the stranger excitedly. "Ha! a good word in your mouth,
young mistress. I like to hear you say that thus roundly. Zounds!" he
added; "it is ill news that your father is away, for I have but a few hours
in this country, and I must even return without accomplishing my mission.
To London I dare not adventure. But, mistress, will you not bring a light,
that we may see if we still doubt each other; and then we must talk of a
plan of safety."
"Stay where you are," said Barbara, "and I will fetch a candle."
During her absence the stranger had not moved. As she entered he stepped
forward and took the light from her, holding it high and scrutinizing her
"Ah!" he exclaimed at last, with a sigh; "good as gold! Would that other
lands could breed such grace! It is ill to be banished from one's own
Barbara blushed and turned away.
The young man, who was soberly clad, had dark, almost black hair, and dark
eyes. His mouth was perhaps too loose, but he was prepossessing. A certain
melancholy, an air of bafflement, seemed to overshadow him. Barbara's
sympathy was his at that moment, and he knew it.
"There is a hiding-place in the house," he said, after a pause; "your
father has told me of it."
Barbara started; but at these words, her last suspicion vanished. "There
is," she replied simply.
"Then will you lodge me there?" the stranger answered. "The gravest issues
depend upon the success with which my visit here is kept secret. So far, I
believe I have eluded suspicion and pursuit, but these Roundheads are
cunning as jackals. And, dear preserver, might I crave some food and
"Alas!" exclaimed Barbara, "I have delayed hospitality too long. But, you
see," she added, smiling, "such visitors are rare at Myddelton Hall. Our
gates fly wide to welcome my father's friends when we know of their
approach, I assure you, sir."
The stranger bowed, and, smiling in reply, lost for the moment his air of
"Your hiding-place is close at hand," she said, and looked again at the ring.
It was certainly her father's; she had often seen it on his hand. And
Bevis, too! No, there could be no longer any doubt as to the stranger's
genuineness. At least, if there were, she banished it forthwith, for,
moving swiftly to the door, she locked it, and then, crossing the room to
the fireplace, held up the light and revealed a portrait of an elderly man
in Elizabethan costume.
"My great-grandfather," she said, "with whom, as I will show you, liberties
have been taken."
So saying, she climbed on a chair, and, reaching upward, pressed her finger
against the portrait's right eye. As she did so, a spring was set in
motion, and the picture slid upwards, taking the top line of the heavy oak
frame with it, and leaving the remaining three sides in their place,
disclosing a cavity in the wall.
"Climb in there," Barbara said, handing the candle to the stranger, "and
turn sharp to the right, and then to the left, and you will come to an iron
door, which rises and falls like a portcullis. The handle is of no use, but
on the ceiling you will see the motto, _'Nil desperandum,'_ which you must
take as counsel offered to yourself. Press the space in the centre of the
D, and the door will open."
The stranger did so.
"Now," Barbara called to him, "wait a little, and I will bring you food."
She replaced the picture, and sought the kitchen, soon returning with the
remains of a pasty and a flask of Rhenish, which, after again touching the
spring, she handed up to her guest. He took them, and disappeared into the
passage, whither, with the assistance of a chair and a scramble, Barbara
The room was a minute but very complete retreat. A little bed stood in the
corner, and by its side a tiny table and chair, on which were writing
"To-morrow, sir," said Barbara, "I will come and inquire after you. You
want sleep now. I wish you good rest and good fortune." And, so saying, she
GODFREY FAIRFAX PAUSED AGAIN. "WELL," SHE SAID, "DO YOU STILL LIKE IT?"
"VERY MUCH," SAID JANET.
"IT'S VERY EXCITING," SAID MARY.
"I LIKE THE HIDING-PLACE," SAID GREGORY.
"WE'VE JUST SEEN ONE AT SALFORD HALL--ONLY THAT WAS FOR PRIESTS--INSIDE A
CHINA CUPBOARD. I GOT IN IT. THE PICTURE'S MUCH BETTER."
"DO YOU LIKE IT?" MISS REDSTONE SAID TO ROBERT.
"PRETTY WELL," HE ANSWERED; AND THEY ALL LAUGHED.
"DON'T LAUGH," SAID MISS REDSTONE; "THAT'S JUST THE KIND OF REMARK I WANT.
NOW TAKE SOME MORE CAKE, ALL OF YOU, AND I WILL GO ON."
Barbara awoke almost with the birds, after two or three hours of fitful
sleep, and with a rush came the memory of last night's events. Her first
thought was for the quick and safe departure of the stranger, and weariness
of head told her it was time to seek advice.
"Oh, if father were here!" was the burden of her thoughts. But he was far
away, and the immediate question was whom to ask for help. She ticked off
the neighbouring gentlemen, and decided against them one by one. Old Digger
was useless. Matthew Hale was sound, but stupid. Everything pointed to her
No sooner had she made up her mind than Barbara turned to her writing-table
and penned a laborious letter to the Rev. Jeremy. Poor Barbara! Spelling
was not her strongest point, nor, indeed, did anyone then mind whether
spelling was good or bad. She wrote as follows:
DEARE AND REVEREND SIR,
"My father has riden to London and I would faine not be without manlie
companie in so grate an house (olde Digger being worthie and trustie but a
lyttel deaf and stiffe). Therefor I pray you let me have my brother Philip
and his friends for this daye that I may be more at mine ease.
Having sanded and folded the paper Barbara awakened Jack.
"Jack!" she called, shaking him in his bed. "Jack, I have an errand for
you. Jump up quickly and dress, and then saddle Roger, and I will get you
some food, and then you must ride at a gallop to Framshott to Mr.
Fullarton's, and he will send back Philip with you, and Hugh and Vernon and
Having seen the little fellow off, Barbara set the servants to work on a
business that would keep them remote from the library, and then visited her
guest. She first knocked three times on the chimney--a sign that had been
agreed on. After a minute had passed he replied, and, having made certain
that no one could enter or see into the library, Barbara removed the
picture and waited.
The young man immediately sprang into the room.
"Good morrow, sir," said Barbara simply, with a curtsey.
"Good morrow, fair hostess and preserving angel," said the young man, with
"We must come to business at once," said Barbara, and forthwith she told
him of her message to her brother. "Philip is very young," she added, "but
true as steel, and his head is older than his years."
"Good," said the stranger, and he unfolded his plans. That night he must
embark for France. He was expected by the master of the _Antelope,_ a
schooner lying all ready to weigh anchor at Portallan, the harbour twelve
miles distant. She would sail by the night tide, with or without him. It
was understood that, if he were not there, evil had befallen him.
"Everything depends," he explained, "on my departure to-night. The cause
hangs upon it. A blight on my evil luck!" he cried. "Were Colonel Myddelton
at home, I should not be fleeing from my own country empty-handed. I shall
be writing to him most of this day, but a spoken word is worth a volume of
It was arranged at length that as soon as the dusk came three of the boys,
with the stranger wearing the clothes of the fourth, should ride out,
ostensibly on the return to the schoolhouse.
Thus, no suspicion would be aroused, and, once in the road, it would be
simple to turn the horses' heads towards the sea and gain the harbour.
That settled, Barbara gave breakfast to her guest, and he returned to his
hidingplace for the rest of the weary day with a store of candles and an
armful of books and paper.
Two hours later the boys rode in, all excitement, and Barbara watched them
attack the loaded breakfast-table. Philip's friends were, of course, all
devoted to this grave, sweet girl, although not bitter rivals.
"Philip dear," said Barbara swiftly, when, after breakfast, she had drawn
her brother into her room and locked the door "there is in the castle at
this moment a messenger from the Prince, who has come to see our father on
grave business. You can guess what such business would be. He dare not
follow him to London, and must leave to-night for the nearest seaport, his
errand all unperformed. I sent for you and your friends because the
gentleman is our guest, and must be treated with courtesy and care. He is
unattended, and the countryside is alive with traitors. You and your
friends will protect him to-night, will you not?"
"To the death," said Philip.
"Ah, I knew!" said his sister proudly.
"Barbara," exclaimed Philip, "it was fine of you to send for us!" And he
hugged her mightily. "But where is the gentleman?"
"In hiding," she answered; "but mind, not a word of this to the others.
Tell them enough to stop questions. Not a soul knows he is here save you
and me. Later they must know, for one of you will have to lend him clothes.
Only three of you can ride as his guard."
"But, Barbara," cried Philip in alarm, "it is not I who will stay behind?
It could not be. I am his host. And what build of man is he, Barbara? Say
he is not my size."
"No, Phil dear; he is taller by a hand's breadth."
"Ah," sighed Philip, with intense relief, "then it must be Rupert! Poor
"Now," said Barbara, "forget all about it, and have a good holiday with the
boys. The evening is distant yet."
"I wish it were here!" Phil exclaimed fervently as he ran off.
Philip at once sought out Rupert, and, slipping his hand into his arm, led
him away from the others. He wanted to break the news gently.
"I say, Rupert," he said, "you remember that crossbow of mine you wanted so
"Well, it is yours," said Philip. "And I want you to ride Tiger oftener
than you do." (Tiger was Philip's most prized horse.)
Rupert was beginning to be mystified, but he could see that all this was
but the preamble to something more important.
"And, Rupert," Philip continued, "you know how keen we all are to smash
those Roundheads, don't you?"
"But it isn't always possible, you understand, for everyone to fight and be
in the front, is it? Some have to do quieter work where they are not seen,
Rupert agreed, a little impatiently. "But Phil," he added, "what does all
this mean? What do you want me to do?"
"Well," said Philip, "I can't tell you everything; but to-night it may be
necessary for some of us to ride to Portallan, and one to stay behind, and
I thought I would try to make it easier for you to be the one to stay
behind, that's all. It must be you, I'm afraid, poor old fellow!"
The reader paused again.
"I LIKE THAT BIT ABOUT SPELLING," SAID JACK.
"I THINK BARBARA AND PHILIP WERE VERY LUCKY," SAID ROBERT. "THERE'S NO FUN
LIKE THAT NOW. WY IS ALL THE FUN IN THE PAST?"
"I THINK IT'S FUN TO GO FOR A CARAVAN-TOUR," SAID MISS REDSTONE; "AND
THAT'S IN THE PRESENT."
"OH, YES," SAID ROBERT, "THAT'S FUN, NO DOUBT; BUT IT DOESN'T COMPARE WITH
FIGHTING AGAINST ROUNDHEADS."
"I THINK BARBARA WAS MOST HORRIBLY LUCKY," SAID HESTER, " BECAUSE, OF
COURSE, THE STRANGER WAS--"
"HUSH!" SAID THE AUTHOR; AND SHE BEGAN TO READ ONCE MORE.
The day wore on slowly. Barbara did her best to go through the household
duties naturally, but the tension was severe. She was perpetually conscious
of a fear that, after all, in spite of his confidence in his skill, the
stranger might have been tracked and pursued.
She had, indeed, in the peace of the afternoon, but just dismissed the
suspicion, when the white face of Philip appearing suddenly at the door of
the library, where she was sitting, brought back all her tremors.
"Roundheads!" he gasped.
Her heart stood still. "Oh, if father were here!" was all she could murmur
moaningly, as the clatter of hoofs rung out in the courtyard.
A minute later old Digger tottered in shaking like a reed, followed by an
officer and three soldiers. Barbara rose to meet them, biting her lips to
repress her emotion "What is it?" she inquired coldly.
"Guard the doors and the windows! said the Captain to his men, ignoring
her. He looked round the room, and then condescended to reply.
"We are seeking a rebel," he said. "He has been traced to this
neighbourhood, and it would be natural for him to seek hospitality here.
The Myddeltons are fond of such dirt."
"This roof shelters no rebels," said Barbara simply.
"Colonel Myddelton, this doddering old fool tells me," said the Captain,
indicating Digger, "is away."
"Clearly," said Barbara, "or your language would be more guarded."
"And no one has come seeking refuge?" the Captain pursued, adding, to
Barbara's intense relief: "But asking questions is sheer waste of breath. I
have no time to talk. We must search the house."
Barbara sank into her chair again. Surely they must hear the beating of her
heart, she thought. Oh, anything, anything to appear calm! The risk was
double--first, that they might themselves discover the secret place;
secondly, that in tapping the walls, as they were even now doing, they
might give her signal to the fugitive, and thus cause him to betray
himself. She buried her face in her embroidery, but was aware that the
Captain's eyes were on her. The soldiers were passing round the room
slowly, thoroughly. In the stress of her perturbation Barbara rose and
moved to the door, controlling her agitation with a tremendous effort.
"Follow the lady," said the Captain to one of the soldiers. "Don't lose
sight of her for a moment." ("The minx knows something," he muttered in his
"You brute!" cried Philip, drawing his sword. "Do you dare to order my
sister to be dogged? Come on." And he made a lunge at the Roundhead.
"Steady!" said the Captain, parrying the thrust--"steady, young fellow!"
Barbara, catching at the door, screamed and swooned.
Philip thrust at him again.
"Be still," muttered the Captain; "we must have no bloodshed here." And he
twitched the weapon from the boy's hand, adding: "Very well, I withdraw the
order. Carry your sister to her room, and my soldier shall merely stand
sentinel at her door. Another word, you puppy, and I'll have you in irons!"
With an effort Philip obeyed, remembering the duty the night held for him;
and he and Digger together carried Barbara to her room, followed by the
soldier, who took up his stand at the door.
On resuming their search, the soldiers did no more than thrust their pikes
up the chimney, and in a few minutes proceeded to the other rooms.
An hour later the Captain sent for Philip, who sauntered into his presence
whistling a country dance.
"I am going at once," said the Captain.
Philip had it in his mind to press him ironically to stay, with a word of
regret that his visit was so short; but he stifled the temptation, and
"But I am not in the least satisfied," the Captain continued, "and I mean
to leave three soldiers behind to guard the entries and your sister's room.
No one leaves the Hall to-night."
Philip's face fell. "But I must," he said. "I am at school at Framshott,
and we, my companions and I, must ride back to-night."
"Your companions!" said the Captain.
"Yes," said Philip; "I will call them." And he shouted from the window to
the boys playing bowls in the garden.
They came up, and were passed before the scrutinizing eyes of the Roundhead.
"Royalist whelps!" he muttered. "Very well," he said at length, " you may
go. But mind, no one else leaves the house."
Then, giving careful instructions to the three men left in charge, he rode
off with the others.
News spreads rapidly in villages at all times, and it was, therefore, not
surprising that Matthew Hale should hear that there were Roundheads at
Myddelton Hall very soon after they had clattered into the courtyard.
"Roundheads at the Hall, are there?" he said. "Then I reckon I'll join
them. It won't be the first time I've met a Roundhead--no, nor smashed one,
either." So saying, he laid aside his hammer, and, taking instead a bar of
iron, he left his boy in charge of the smithy, and set out for the Hall.
Matthew reached the Hall a few minutes after the Captain and two of the
Roundheads had ridden off. The first person he saw was Philip, who, with
the three boys and little Jack, were plotting together in the shrubbery.
"Hullo, Matt!" cried Philip; "come here. We want you."
Matthew turned aside from the carriageway, and joined the little group.
They all looked profoundly grave and important.
"What is it, young master?" said the blacksmith. "And where's Mistress
Barbara? Don't say she's ill."
Then Philip told him the story, omitting all reference to the refugee,
whose existence was a secret to the other boys, from the arrival of the
Captain to his departure, ending:
"And at this very moment, Matt, there are three Roundhead soldiers on guard
in the Hall--two at the doors, and one standing--can you believe
it?--standing at my sister's door. I've fought him once," Philip continued,
"but he's too strong, and now the others are keeping us out of the house,
and we've charged them several times, but without doing any good, and there
are a thousand reasons why we shouldn't any of us be hurt."
"But where are the grooms and gardeners?" Matthew asked.
"Oh, they all disappeared," said Philip. "I suppose they feared an inquiry
might be dangerous. It's bad for the health and reputation to fight a
Matthew laughed grimly. "It's bad for the Roundhead's health if he runs
against this," he said, raising the iron bar.
At this moment Jack interrupted. "See, Phil," he cried, "Barbara's waving
to you at the window."
It was so. They all glanced up, and at the window Barbara's pale face was
A sudden thought came to Philip, and, leading Matthew into the open, he
pointed to the blacksmith, and threw an inquiring look to his sister. She
hesitated a second or two, and then nodded yes with cheery emphasis, so
Philip led Matthew away and supplemented the story he had already told him
with the startling announcement that all the time there actually was a
fugitive Cavalier in the house.
Matthew Hale whistled; he had no words.
"And he must reach Portallan," said Philip, "to catch the midnight tide.
Three of us are going to ride with him, and he takes Rupert's clothes. We
should have got him away finely if it hadn't been for these soldiers."
"Then we must smash the soldiers," said Matthew simply. "How many are they?
Three, and one of them upstairs. And we are five, not counting Master Jack.
Very well. So long as they don't use gunpowder, we can beat them."
In a few minutes the old soldier had sketched out a plan of action.
GODFREY FAIRFAX AGAIN PAUSED.
"IT'S GETTING RATHER GOOD," SAID ROBERT.
"HOW SPLENDID IF WE COULD HAVE A CIVIL WAR NOW!
"I LIKE MATTHEW HALE BEST," SAID GREGORY.
"ARE THEY REALLY GOING TO FIGHT? ARE THE BOYS REALLY GOING TO KILL ANYONE?
IT'S SO ROTTEN IN MOST STORIES, BECAUSE THEY ONLY TALK ABOUT IT."
"WAIT," SAID THE AUTHOR.
The sentinels were stationed each at one door at the back of the house,
twenty or thirty yards apart. The principal entrance they had locked, so
that there remained to guard only the two doors into the courtyard. Their
instructions were to permit the boys to pass in and out, and to ride off at
evening unmolested, but the attacks made upon them prompted the additional
precaution to keep the aggressive four out of the house altogether. The two
men walked up and down at their posts, and occasionally exchanged a remark
together, and occasionally threw a glance at the shrubbery.
They seemed, however, to feel no apprehension.
"Can any one of you climb? the blacksmith asked suddenly.
"I can," said Jack.
"Famous!" said the blacksmith; "then come with me." So saying, he led the
way down the shrubbery until the front of the house was in view. "Now," he
added, "you shall climb that pipe." And he pointed to a pipe by the
doorway. "The ivy will help you."
"And when I am at the top?" Jack asked.
"When you are at the top," said the blacksmith, "you will loosen a stone
and drop it on the head of one of your friends yonder"--indicating the
courtyard with a jerk of his head. "That will settle him. At the same
moment I'll overwhelm the other. We must prevent them firing at any costs.
But don't miss him, whatever you do, or we are worse off than before."
"No," said Jack, "I shall aim very carefully. I will wait till he is
exactly underneath, and then, plob! It will get him on his topknot."
The ivy was, of course, out of sight of the two sentries so long as they
stayed at their posts; but, as anyone who knows Myddelton Hall, which is
little altered since that time, will understand, a very trifling extension
of his beat would bring one of them into a position to command the
carriagedrive which Jack had to cross to get from the shrubbery to the
house. However, the boy sauntered off, looking as aimless as a piece of
floating thistledown, and gained the house unperceived. Directly he was
past the soldiers' line of vision he became brisker, and in a few minutes
the party in
the shrubbery, who had by this time returned to their original post, and at
the point in the bushes nearest to the sentries, saw him scrambling over
"If he were hurt," said the blacksmith, " the Colonel would never forgive me."
"He's climbed that too often for danger of accidents," said Philip.
Jack was now crawling along a coping just over the farther sentry, and they
watched him picking out the mortar from between two big stones with his
knife. In five minutes he had it loose, and, grasping it with both hands,
he pushed it close to the edge, and then peeped over. The soldier was some
yards from the plumb. Jack looked down at the shrubbery for guidance. The
smith raised his hand to signify patience. Jack waited. Breathlessly the
ambushed party watched the two soldiers, who were now talking together.
Would they never return to their doors? Five anxious minutes passed, and
then, with a look round, Jack's man began to move nearer his position under
the coping. Once he stopped, and, retracing half a step, called out a
facetious after-thought. The boys grunted impatiently, and the blacksmith
swore in his beard. Then the soldier took another step back, laughing at
his wit, yet moving irresolutely, as though he had another word or two to
add to the joke. After this his progress backwards was steady.
At last, when he was within a yard of the precise spot, and not one of the
attacking party had a grain of patience left, the smith dropped his hand,
and Jack toppled the stone over the edge. It fell with a terrible
swiftness; the soldier completed his yard of step, and the block took him,
not on the crown, but on the right shoulder. It was, however, enough. Down
he fell without a sound.
His companion, glancing up at the instant, saw him fall, and, leaving his
matchlock, ran to his assistance. At the same moment the smith and the boys
rushed from the shrubbery. The soldier, running towards his friend,
observed them approaching, checked himself in bewilderment, and then swung
round on his heel and made for his weapon. But Matthew was too quick for
him. The smith was quite twenty yards distant, but, gathering himself
together, he flung out his arm, and with all his might threw the iron bar
at the retreating sentry. The missile sped true; over and over it twisted
in the air, and, catching the soldier with a horrid thud in the back, laid
"Hurrah!" cried Philip.
"Hurrah!" cried Jack, peering down from the roof as the others bound the
two wounded men with ropes. It was quickly done, and they were hauled into
the stable and secured safely therein, and old Digger told off to watch
them and mind them as well as he might.
"Now we can go ahead," was Matthew's comment, grimly uttered, as he opened
the door. Philip was for accompanying him, but Matthew said no. "In a
minute or two I will be back with your sister," he added. "I want to settle
the other man alone. I have a few scores to pay off."
He sprang up the stairs three at a bound, grasping his iron bar firmly, and
at last came to Barbara's landing. There before the door stood the
Roundhead, who evidently had heard nothing of the disturbance below.
"Ha, smith," he cried, on spying Matthew, "what are you looking for?"
"I came to have a little talk," said Matthew easily, taking in his man with
a quick glance.
"Well, then, you had best descend those stairs again," replied the soldier;
"I'm in no mood for talking."
"Now, that's curious," said Matthew genially, leaning against the wall,
"because I am. I never felt more disposed to conversation in my life."
The soldier scowled and fingered his matchlock.
"But perhaps," Matthew continued, darting forward suddenly, and with a blow
of the iron bar knocking the gun from the man's hand--"perhaps a little
tussle would be more to your liking. I have a mind to smash your face. What
do you say?"
The soldier drew his sword.
"No," said Matthew, striking it down with the bar; "I don't want iron. It's
so noisy. I have the sound of iron all day in my smithy. Give me a little
change." He kicked the sword along the passage, and threw his bar after it.
"Now," said he, "we are equal. Come!"
So saying, the blacksmith tapped the Roundhead on the chin. The soldier
made an attempt to defend himself, but fisticuffs were out of his line, and
Matthew had a series of easy openings. The smith punished him badly for a
while, and then, remarking that he had set his heart on spoiling one or two
more Roundheads before he died, followed the words with a blow on the
soldier's nose that laid him low.
The blacksmith pulled himself together, and then, opening a cupboard door
near by, pushed the sentry into it and turned the key.
The next thing was to liberate Barbara, who, when she heard what had
happened, asked with nice tact if Matthew did not think that they could
talk more comfortably in the kitchen, and Matthew replied that his brain
was always more fertile in the presence of cold pasty and ale than at any
"WAS THAT ALL RIGHT?" GODFREY FAIRFAX ASKED GREGORY.
"FIRST-RATE," HE SAID. "I CAN'T THINK WHY YOUR BOOKS DON'T SUCCEED."
"PERHAPS THIS IS THE BEST OF THEM," ROBERT SUGGESTED.
"BARBARA IS VERY BRAVE," SAID JANET. "I ADMIRE HER TREMENDOUSLY."
"AND PHILIP, TOO," SAID HESTER.
"0H, BUT JACK AND THE STONE IS BEST," SAID GREGORY. "I COULD HAVE DONE THAT."
"SO COULD I," SAID HORACE CAMPBELL; "IT'S JUST WHAT I WANT TO DO--THINGS
"YOU'RE RATHER BLOOD-THIRSTY LITTLE BOYS," SAID GODFREY FAIRFAX. "PERHAPS
I HAD BETTER BEGIN AGAIN. IT IS GOING TO BE QUIETER NOW."
Once in the kitchen, Barbara and Philip and the blacksmith took rapid
counsel together as to the best course of action. It was now late in the
afternoon; the Captain might be back with another bodyguard at any time,
and, once he returned, there would be no chance of getting the stranger
away. It was therefore important to furnish him with the disguise--Rupert's
clothes--and spirit him out of the house at once. On the other hand, as he
did not count upon being at sea till midnight, this would simply mean
exchanging one hiding-place for another; but, all things considered, it was
imperative that he should stay no longer at the Hall.
This decided, Rupert was called in to divest himself of his clothes, and
soon afterwards he sent down the bundle, and with it Barbara sought the
stranger, while Matthew, feeling very well satisfied with the day's work,
sauntered to the stables to examine the wounds of the Roundhead soldiers.
He found them groaning, but in a way to recover, and then, calling the
boys, he set them to prepare the horses against their journey. It was
approaching evening, but the month being June, there was no chance of a
dark departure, even if they waited as late as half-past eight, so that one
hour of leaving was almost as safe as another.
Barbara found her prisoner very tired of his confinement, and very hungry.
She explained the cause of her delay, and, leaving him to change into the
clothes as quickly as he might, she hurried off for food. When she came
back, the young man, looking for all the world like a darker Rupert, was
standing in the library with his own clothes in his hand.
"My brother will tell you what has been devised for you," Barbara said.
"Thank you," he replied, putting out his hand. "Thank you, sweet preserver.
I shall see you again, I know; but it may be long, very long. Will you keep
this ring? Show it to your father when he returns, and guard it carefully
till we meet in the future. Then you shall give it me once more." He
slipped the ring on her finger and kissed it.
A moment later he stood in the courtyard beside Rupert's horse, where the
others were waiting.
"Heavens!" said Hugh to Philip; "what's happened to Rupe?"
"Yes," echoed Vernon, "who's that in old Rupe's clothes?"
"Shut up!" Philip hissed, fixing them with a meaning glance. "Say another
word, and I'll flay you! That's Rupert Ommaney, and no one else, and I warn
you to remember it."
"Come along, Rupert," he cried cheerily, aloud to the stranger. "It's time
we were off."
With that they swung into the saddle, and rattled out of the courtyard, the
stranger in the midst. As he rounded the corner of the house he looked back
and smiled farewell to Barbara and the smith and Jack, who stood together
watching the departure. Barbara waved her hand, and a moment later her
fugitive was out of sight.
"THAT'S NOT ALL, IS IT?" HESTER INQUIRED ANXIOUSLY, AS MISS REDSTONE STOPPED.
"ISN'T IT A GOOD ENDING?" SHE ASKED.
"NO," SAID GREGORY, "OF COURSE NOT. I WANT TO KNOW IF HE GOT TO THE HARBOUR
ALL RIGHT, AND WHO HE WAS."
"OH, I THINK WE KNOW WHO HE WAS," JANET SAID.
"WHO?" GREGORY ASKED. "I DON'T KNOW." "WELL, IT'S NOT THE END," SAID MISS
REDSTONE; "BUT THE END IS VERY NEAR, AND THAT WILL EXPLAIN EVERYTHING." AND
SHE BEGAN AGAIN.
The boys and their companion had not been gone an hour when in rode the
Captain and his two soldiers with a terrible clatter. The Captain leaped
from his horse, and strode into the house, roaring for the men he had left
on guard. Barbara, who was in the library with Rupert, heard the noise and
divined its meaning.
"Rupert," she said swiftly, on a sudden inspiration, "will you add one more
kindness to your long list? Will you hide in here for a few minutes?" So
saying, she showed him the secret chamber.
Rupert hesitated not a moment, but swung himself up and was lost to view.
The picture hardly descended when the Captain entered.
"Ha!" he cried, casting a quick glance at Barbara. "So you have escaped my
soldiers' vigilance. A nice story of traitorous mutiny I shall have to
report to London! Three of the Parliament's men beaten and bound, and
rebels here in hiding. For there is a hiding-place here, I will lay my
life, and by the look in your eyes, mistress, the bird is still in it."
So saying, he set his men once more to work on the walls, and himself
attacked the portrait. Barbara stood by watching them. After five minutes'
fumbling the spring was touched. The Captain leaped into the cavity, and
they heard him utter a cry of triumph. A moment later he came forth,
leading Rupert. But his expression of joy vanished when he gained the
light, dim though it was, and found that his captive was but a schoolboy,
and a laughing one at that.
"Tricked again!" he cried, as he flung the lad off and dashed from the room.
His men followed, and in a moment they were all in the saddle.
Barbara turned to Rupert with a smile. "Thank you!" she said.
"You are splendid!" was all he could say in reply.
"If you will bring me a candle," said Barbara, "I will look at the little
Bidding Rupert remain exactly where he was, she entered the secret room.
"The Captain was too impetuous," she remarked, picking up a letter
addressed to herself; "he ought to have gone on after discovering Rupert."
"To Mistress Myddelton," the superscription ran, and she opened it with
"Thank you," was all it said, but the signature struck her dizzy. It was
the signature of the exiled Prince.
"I KNEW IT!" HESTER EXCLAIMED.
"BUT IT DOESN'T HURT THE STORY TO KNOW IT?" MISS REDSTONE ASKED ANXIOUSLY.
"0H, NO, NOT AT ALL," SAID JANET AND MARY. "PLEASE GO ON."
MISS REDSTONE RESUMED.
On leaving the Hall the boys and their companion had turned at once down
the highroad in the direction of Mr. Fullarton's at Framshott, which was
precisely the opposite direction to Portallan and the sea, Philip's idea
being to ride for a few miles as if on the journey back to school, and to
be seen by as many people who knew them by sight as possible, then to
branch off into a sheltering wood, wait there till dark, and start again,
refreshed, in a bee-line for the harbour. In this way the Captain would, if
he were to return and follow them, be put on a wrong scent, and give up any
chase as a waste of effort.
But Barbara's trick in hiding Rupert undid the plan, for the first person
whom the Captain and his men met on leaving the Hall for the second time
swore so positively to having seen the FOUR schoolboys that the Roundhead's
suspicions were at
once aroused, and, turning his horse's head, he led the way at all speed
"Then there was a man there all the time," he cried bitterly to himself,
"and he has escaped in that puppy's clothes! 'Sdeath, if I catch him now .
. .!" He ground his teeth together in his rage, and dug the rowels of his
spurs into the horse's side. Without another word they rode at the gallop
through the growing darkness.
The boys were riding together at a good swinging pace, the stranger, in
Rupert's clothes, leading the way by a neck, Philip beside him, and the
other two behind. It was not a dark night, but a mist rolling inland from
the sea--one of those white mists well known along the south coast, which
predicate hot weather--enveloped them impenetrably except at very short
"Halt!" they heard the Captain cry, halfway down the hill.
"Ay, it is likely we shall halt for that," said the stranger, with a laugh.
"I'll show him," and, turning in his saddle, he discharged a pistol down
the road. "That's for our enemies," he remarked grimly, "and may it hit
A few moments later came an answering shot, whistling past their heads
"Break for the nearest copse," replied the stranger, promptly, "for a
council of war. Quick, now's the time! The top of the hill is cover for
us." So saying, he put his horse to the bank, cleared it, and galloped over
the field to the trees which loomed grey and indefinite before them.
The others followed. In two minutes they were under the boughs. Not daring
to breathe, they heard the troopers thunder along the highroad, all
unconscious for the moment of the trick that had been played them.
"Now," said the stranger briefly, "we must divide. I shall proceed to
Portallan alone very warily."
The faces of the boys fell at these words. Relinquish their duty before a
blow had been struck? It was humiliating--impossible. Philip first found
voice. "No, sir," he cried emphatically; "nothing of the kind! My sister
bade me not leave your side until you embarked for France, and her word is
"And we stand by Phil," said Vernon, with equal emphasis.
"You are brave boys," the stranger answered, "but you must do to-night as I
say. There is no time to argue here, and if I miss the tide I am undone,
for loyal captains are rare birds, I promise you. There may be not another
safe ship this fortnight."
"But the enemy," said Philip,--"you will have to pass them. How can you do
"Besides," Hugh interpolated, "is it fair to rob us of our sport like this?"
"Yes," said Vernon, supporting him, "it is seldom enough one has any chance
of striking a blow for the cause. We are well armed. We are four to their
The young man made a gesture of impatience.
"Peace," he said. "I have told you we must separate; let that be final.
You, Philip, shall accompany me part of the way, at any rate--I owe you
that; but the others will ride each towards the sea by different but fairly
direct ways. They will probably each be pursued, but must do the best they
can, avoiding bloodshed if possible. The captain has two men with him, and
Vernon and Hugh must each decoy one of them away in pursuit. That will
leave merely the captain, who is certain to ride to the port. You, Philip,
will divert him, and the way will thus be clear and open to me to get on
board. Please God, we all get through safely!"
So saying, the stranger shook hands with Hugh and Vernon, who were
convinced by something in his voice that this was their
master and nothing more was to be said, and in a moment he and Philip were
Events happened precisely as the stranger had foretold. Vernon and Hugh,
riding full tilt towards Portallan, attracted each a Roundhead soldier, and
each boy used his knowledge of the country to lead the men a wild-goose
chase. Vernon's pursuer succumbed first, for he and his horse fell into a
small but sufficient chalk-pit a mile or two from Framshott just as dawn
was breaking. As for Hugh's man, after three hours' zigzag riding through
the mist he was deftly persuaded to gallop into the Worminglore bog, and
there Hugh, flinging a parting word of derision, left him floundering. The
man fired a bullet in the direction of the boy's voice, but it did no harm
except to his hat, and only served to increase Hugh's reputation among his
companions at school as a desperate fellow. It is not every boy who has a
bullet-hole in his hat.
Meanwhile Philip and the stranger spurred to the sea by a devious course.
They rode silently, the stranger's hand alert to seize his pistol.
Suddenly, when only a mile or two from the harbour, a light or two being
visible on the ships riding at anchor, he reined in with a jerk before a
shepherd's hut which stood at the edge of a sheepfold on the naked down, a
yard from the road.
"Just the thing!" he cried; "we have still an hour."
Bidding Philip stay there and keep watch, he leaped from his horse and
opened the door of the hut.
"Who's there?" growled the voice of the shepherd.
"A friend, if you hold your peace," said the young man; "otherwise a foe,
and a strong one, I can promise you." He clicked a pistol as he spoke, and
the shepherd stood up and pulled his forelock.
"I want no words," said the stranger, "and no delay. Do as I tell you, in
the King's name."
"Ay, marry!" cried the shepherd; "in the King's name I'll do anything."
"Good fellow," said the stranger, "well said. Take off that smock and those
The man took them off. The stranger divested himself of Rupert's clothes at
the same time, and hastily donned those of the shepherd. "Tie mine in a
bundle," he said to the man. "I shall leave you cold to-night, I fear, but
here is money. Lie close in a blanket till the morrow, and then send for
your wife to buy other clothes. But keep your tongue from wagging."
So saying, the stranger shouldered his bundle, and, taking the shepherd's
crook in his hand, he left the hut and rejoined Philip. "My dear boy," he
said, "I must leave you now. I shall creep into the town under cover of
this disguise, safely enough, and be on board in half an hour. Farewell. I
shall never forget your services to me, as you will be reminded some day,
and from a quarter you least expect." With these words he shook the boy's
hand and was lost in the mist.
Philip waited irresolutely for some minutes. Then a plan came to him which,
if successful, would make the humiliation of the Roundhead complete. "Yes,"
he said "I'll do it;" and forthwith he urged his horse towards the town at
a smart trot leading the other by the reins and talking loudly with its
imaginary rider. The ruse was successful. The Roundhead Captain was, as
Philip had suspected, in ambush just at the outskirts, all ready to dart
forth and at last make the capture. When within a dozen yards of his form,
dimly outlined in the fog, Philip loosed the led horse, and lashing it
sharply over the flanks, turned his own steed, and rode off at full gallop
which he did not slacken till he reached home. He glowed as he rode.
Barbara's head appeared at the window in response to his clatter. Calling
the single word "Safe!" from the gate, he spurred on to Framshott.
"Outwitted clean!" said the Captain to himself, as he came up at last with
the riderless animal two hours after. "Outwitted, discredited, and by a
parcel of children! However, let's make the best of it;" and so saying, he
urged his horse towards Myddelton Hall, leading the stranger's by the
At three in the morning, when the sun was rising, and the air was sweet and
cool, and songs of birds made music all around him, Philip rode into the
yard of the school-house. He found Rupert waiting for him.
"Hugh and Vernon are in the kitchen making a famine," said Master Ommaney.
"Old Full's down there with them, and he's as pleased as a Merry Andrew
about it all! He keeps shaking hands with us."
"It's been grand," said Philip, as he shut the stable door on his horse.
"I'm so sorry you couldn't come, too, Rupe, old boy."
At about the same time the Captain thundered on the Hall door. The
blacksmith very deliberately descended the stairs to unlock it. Barbara
"You must give me lodging to-night," the Captain said curtly. "My men will
be here soon, and there are three good fellows to be cared for to whom your
servants have done serious mischief."
Barbara, looking contrite, told the Captain that a room was at his service,
and there was food in the kitchen. He attended first to his horse, and then
she set a brave supper before him and the smith.
"Well, young lady," said the Captain at length, "I must compliment you on
your cleverness. You nested your bird well, and you saw to it that he flew
well, too. All we have to show for it is a broken nose, a broken shoulder,
and a broken back. It is a sad business for us all; bad for you, when head
quarters come to hear of it, and bad for me, in not being sharper. But it
might have been worse," he added; "why, the fugitive might have been the
Prince himself, instead of this twopenny-halfpenny spy!" Barbara smiled.
* * * *