Part 2 out of 10
absolutely running, and an otter with a real fish in its mouth, in
turn delighted them; but chiefly, perhaps, his chimney-corner of Dutch
tiles, all Scriptural subjects, which Venetia and Plantagenet emulated
each other in discovering.
Then his library, which was rare and splendid, for the Doctor was one
of the most renowned scholars in the kingdom, and his pictures, his
prints, and his gold fish, and his canary birds; it seemed they never
could exhaust such sources of endless amusement; to say nothing of
every other room in the house, for, from the garret to the dairy,
his guests encouraged him in introducing them to every thing, every
person, and every place.
'And this is the way we old bachelors contrive to pass our lives,'
said the good Doctor; 'and now, my dear lady, Goody Blount will give
us some dinner.'
The Doctor's repast was a substantial one; he seemed resolved, at one
ample swoop, to repay Lady Annabel for all her hospitality; and he
really took such delight in their participation of it, that his
principal guest was constrained to check herself in more than one
warning intimation that moderation was desirable, were it only for the
sake of the strawberries and cream. All this time his housekeeper,
Goody Blount, as he called her, in her lace cap and ruffles, as
precise and starch as an old picture, stood behind his chair with
pleased solemnity, directing, with unruffled composure, the movements
of the liveried bumpkin who this day was promoted to the honour of
'waiting at table.'
'Come,' said the Doctor, as the cloth was cleared, 'I must bargain for
one toast, Lady Annabel: "Church and State."'
'What is Church and State?' said Venetia.
'As good things. Miss Venetia, as strawberries and cream,' said the
Doctor, laughing; 'and, like them, always best united.'
After their repast, the children went into the garden to amuse
themselves. They strolled about some time, until Plantagenet at length
took it into his head that he should like to learn to play at bowls;
and he said, if Venetia would wait in the grotto, where they then were
talking, he would run back and ask the Doctor if the servant might
teach him. He was not long absent; but appeared, on his return, a
little agitated. Venetia inquired if he had been successful, but he
shook his head, and said he had not asked.
'Why did you not?' said Venetia.
'I did not like,' he replied, looking very serious; 'something
'What could have happened?' said Venetia.
'Something strange,' was his answer.
'Oh, do tell me, Plantagenet!'
'Why,' said he, in a low voice, 'your mamma is crying.'
'Crying!' exclaimed Venetia; 'my dear mamma crying! I must go to her
'Hush!' said Plantagenet, shaking his head, 'you must not go.'
'No, you must not go, Venetia,' was his reply; 'I am sure she does not
want us to know she is crying.'
'What did she say to you?'
'She did not see me; the Doctor did, and he gave me a nod to go away.'
'I never saw mamma cry,' said Venetia.
'Don't you say anything about it, Venetia,' said Plantagenet, with a
manly air; 'listen to what I say.'
'I do, Plantagenet, always; but still I should like to know what mamma
can be crying about. Do tell me all about it.'
'Why, I came to the room by the open windows, and your mamma was
standing up, with her back to me, and leaning on the mantel-piece,
with her face in her handkerchief; and the Doctor was standing up too,
only his back was to the fireplace; and when he saw me, he made me a
sign to go away, and I went directly.'
'Are you sure mamma was crying?'
'I heard her sob.'
'I think I shall cry,' said Venetia.
'You must not; you must know nothing about it. If you let your mamma
know that I saw her crying, I shall never tell you anything again.'
'What do you think she was crying about, Plantagenet?'
'I cannot say; perhaps she had been talking about your papa. I do not
want to play at bowls now,' added Plantagenet; 'let us go and see the
In the course of half an hour the servant summoned the children to
the house. The horses were ready, and they were now to return. Lady
Annabel received them with her usual cheerfulness.
'Well, dear children,' said she, 'have you been very much amused?'
Venetia ran forward, and embraced her mother with even unusual
fondness. She was mindful of Plantagenet's injunctions, and was
resolved not to revive her mother's grief by any allusion that could
recall the past; but her heart was, nevertheless, full of sympathy,
and she could not have rode home, had she not thus expressed her love
for her mother.
With the exception of this strange incident, over which, afterwards,
Venetia often pondered, and which made her rather serious the whole of
the ride home, this expedition to Marringhurst was a very happy day.
This happy summer was succeeded by a singularly wet autumn. Weeks of
continuous rain rendered it difficult even for the little Cadurcis,
who defied the elements, to be so constant as heretofore in his daily
visits to Cherbury. His mother, too, grew daily a greater invalid,
and, with increasing sufferings and infirmities, the natural
captiousness of her temper proportionally exhibited itself. She
insisted upon the companionship of her son, and that he should not
leave the house in such unseasonable weather. If he resisted, she fell
into one of her jealous rages, and taunted him with loving strangers
better than his own mother. Cadurcis, on the whole, behaved very well;
he thought of Lady Annabel's injunctions, and restrained his passion.
Yet he was not repaid for the sacrifice; his mother made no effort
to render their joint society agreeable, or even endurable. She was
rarely in an amiable mood, and generally either irritable or sullen.
If the weather held up a little, and he ventured to pay a visit to
Cherbury, he was sure to be welcomed back with a fit of passion;
either Mrs. Cadurcis was angered for being left alone, or had
fermented herself into fury by the certainty of his catching a fever.
If Plantagenet remained at the abbey, she was generally sullen; and,
as he himself was naturally silent under any circumstances, his mother
would indulge in that charming monologue, so conducive to domestic
serenity, termed 'talking at a person,' and was continually
insinuating that she supposed he found it very dull to pass his day
with her, and that she dared say that somebody could be lively enough
if he were somewhere else.
Cadurcis would turn pale, and bite his lip, and then leave the room;
and whole days would sometimes pass with barely a monosyllable being
exchanged between this parent and child. Cadurcis had found some
opportunities of pouring forth his griefs and mortification into the
ear of Venetia, and they had reached her mother; but Lady Annabel,
though she sympathised with this interesting boy, invariably
counselled duty. The morning studies were abandoned, but a quantity of
books were sent over from Cherbury for Plantagenet, and Lady Annabel
seized every opportunity of conciliating Mrs. Cadurcis' temper in
favour of her child, by the attention which she paid the mother. The
weather, however, prevented either herself or Venetia from visiting
the abbey; and, on the whole, the communications between the two
establishments and their inmates had become rare.
Though now a continual inmate of the abbey, Cadurcis was seldom the
companion of his mother. They met at their meals, and that was all. He
entered the room every day with an intention of conciliating; but the
mutual tempers of the mother and the son were so quick and sensitive,
that he always failed in his purpose, and could only avoid a storm
by dogged silence. This enraged Mrs. Cadurcis more even than his
impertinence; she had no conduct; she lost all command over herself,
and did not hesitate to address to her child terms of reproach and
abuse, which a vulgar mind could only conceive, and a coarse tongue
alone express. What a contrast to Cherbury, to the mild maternal
elegance and provident kindness of Lady Annabel, and the sweet tones
of Venetia's ever-sympathising voice. Cadurcis, though so young, was
gifted with an innate fastidiousness, that made him shrink from a rude
woman. His feelings were different in regard to men; he sympathised at
a very early age with the bold and the energetic; his favourites among
the peasantry were ever those who excelled in athletic sports; and,
though he never expressed the opinion, he did not look upon the
poacher with the evil eye of his class. But a coarse and violent woman
jarred even his young nerves; and this woman was his mother, his only
parent, almost his only relation; for he had no near relative except
a cousin whom he had never even seen, the penniless orphan of a
penniless brother of his father, and who had been sent to sea; so
that, after all, his mother was the only natural friend he had. This
poor little boy would fly from that mother with a sullen brow, or,
perhaps, even with a harsh and cutting repartee; and then he would
lock himself up in his room, and weep. But he allowed no witnesses of
this weakness. The lad was very proud. If any of the household passed
by as he quitted the saloon, and stared for a moment at his pale and
agitated face, he would coin a smile for the instant, and say even a
kind word, for he was very courteous to his inferiors, and all the
servants loved him, and then take refuge in his solitary woe.
Relieved by this indulgence of his mortified heart, Cadurcis looked
about him for resources. The rain was pouring in torrents, and the
plash of the troubled and swollen lake might be heard even at the
abbey. At night the rising gusts of wind, for the nights were always
clear and stormy, echoed down the cloisters with a wild moan to which
he loved to listen. In the morning he beheld with interest the savage
spoils of the tempest; mighty branches of trees strewn about,
and sometimes a vast trunk uprooted from its ancient settlement.
Irresistibly the conviction impressed itself upon his mind that, if
he were alone in this old abbey, with no mother to break that strange
fountain of fancies that seemed always to bubble up in his solitude,
he might be happy. He wanted no companions; he loved to be alone, to
listen to the winds, and gaze upon the trees and waters, and wander in
those dim cloisters and that gloomy gallery.
From the first hour of his arrival he had loved the venerable hall of
his fathers. Its appearance harmonised with all the associations of
his race. Power and pomp, ancestral fame, the legendary respect of
ages, all that was great, exciting, and heroic, all that was marked
out from the commonplace current of human events, hovered round him.
In the halls of Cadurcis he was the Cadurcis; though a child, he was
keenly sensible of his high race; his whole being sympathised with
their glory; he was capable of dying sooner than of disgracing them;
and then came the memory of his mother's sharp voice and harsh vulgar
words, and he shivered with disgust.
Forced into solitude, forced to feed upon his own mind, Cadurcis found
in that solitude each day a dearer charm, and in that mind a richer
treasure of interest and curiosity. He loved to wander about, dream of
the past, and conjure up a future as glorious. What was he to be? What
should be his career? Whither should he wend his course? Even at this
early age, dreams of far lands flitted over his mind; and schemes of
fantastic and adventurous life. But now he was a boy, a wretched boy,
controlled by a vulgar and narrow-minded woman! And this servitude
must last for years; yes! years must elapse before he was his own
master. Oh! if he could only pass them alone, without a human voice to
disturb his musings, a single form to distract his vision!
Under the influence of such feelings, even Cherbury figured to his
fancy in somewhat faded colours. There, indeed, he was loved and
cherished; there, indeed, no sound was ever heard, no sight ever seen,
that could annoy or mortify the high pitch of his unconscious ideal;
but still, even at Cherbury, he was a child. Under the influence
of daily intercourse, his tender heart had balanced, perhaps even
outweighed, his fiery imagination. That constant yet delicate
affection had softened all his soul: he had no time but to be grateful
and to love. He returned home only to muse over their sweet society,
and contrast their refined and gentle life with the harsh rude hearth
that awaited him. Whatever might be his reception at home, he was
thrown, back for solace on their memory, not upon his own heart; and
he felt the delightful conviction that to-morrow would renew the spell
whose enchantment had enabled him to endure the present vexation. But
now the magic of that intercourse had ceased; after a few days of
restlessness and repining, he discovered that he must find in his
desolation sterner sources of support than the memory of Venetia, and
the recollections of the domestic joys of Cherbury. It astonishing
with what rapidity the character of Cadurcis developed itself in
solitude; and strange was the contrast between the gentle child who,
a few weeks before, had looked forward with so much interest to
accompanying Venetia to a childish festival, and the stern and moody
being who paced the solitary cloisters of Cadurcis, and then would
withdraw to his lonely chamber and the amusement of a book. He was at
this time deeply interested in Purchas's Pilgrimage, one of the few
books of which the late lord had not despoiled him. Narratives of
travels and voyages always particularly pleased him; he had an idea
that he was laying up information which might be useful to him
hereafter; the Cherbury collection was rich in this class of volumes,
and Lady Annabel encouraged their perusal.
In this way many weeks elapsed at the abbey, during which the visits
of Plantagenet to Cherbury were very few. Sometimes, if the weather
cleared for an hour during the morning, he would mount his pony, and
gallop, without stopping, to the hall. The rapidity of the motion
excited his mind; he fancied himself, as he embraced Venetia, some
chieftain who had escaped for a moment from his castle to visit his
mistress; his imagination conjured up a war between the opposing
towers of Cadurcis and Cherbury; and when his mother fell into a
passion on his return, it passed with him only, according to its
length and spirit, as a brisk skirmish or a general engagement.
One afternoon, on his return from Cherbury, Plantagenet found the fire
extinguished in the little room which he had appropriated to himself,
and where he kept his books. As he had expressed his wish to the
servant that the fire should be kept up, he complained to him of the
neglect, but was informed, in reply, that the fire had been allowed to
go out by his mother's orders, and that she desired in future that
he would always read in the saloon. Plantagenet had sufficient
self-control to make no observation before the servant, and soon after
joined his mother, who looked very sullen, as if she were conscious
that she had laid a train for an explosion.
Dinner was now served, a short and silent meal. Lord Cadurcis did not
choose to speak because he felt aggrieved, and his mother because
she was husbanding her energies for the contest which she believed
impending. At length, when the table was cleared, and the servant
departed, Cadurcis said in a quiet tone, 'I think I shall write to my
guardian to-morrow about my going to Eton.'
'You shall do no such thing,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, bristling up; 'I
never heard such a ridiculous idea in my life as a boy like you
writing letters on such subjects to a person you have never yet seen.
When I think it proper that you should go to Eton, I shall write.'
'I wish you would think it proper now then, ma'am.'
'I won't be dictated to,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, fiercely.
'I was not dictating,' replied her son, calmly.
'You would if you could,' said his mother.
'Time enough to find fault with me when I do, ma'am.'
'There is enough to find fault about at all times, sir.'
'On which side, Mrs. Cadurcis?' inquired Plantagenet, with a sneer.
'Don't aggravate me, Lord Cadurcis,' said his mother.
'How am I aggravating you, ma'am?'
'I won't be answered,' said the mother.
'I prefer silence myself,' said the son.
'I won't be insulted in my own room, sir,' said Mrs. Cadurcis.
'I am not insulting you, Mrs. Cadurcis,' said Plantagenet, rather
fiercely; 'and, as for your own room, I never wish to enter it. Indeed
I should not be here at this moment, had you not ordered my fire to be
put out, and particularly requested that I should sit in the saloon.'
'Oh! you are a vastly obedient person, I dare say,' replied Mrs.
Cadurcis, very pettishly. 'How long, I should like to know, have my
requests received such particular attention? Pooh!'
'Well, then, I will order my fire to be lighted again,' said
'You shall do no such thing,' said the mother; 'I am mistress in this
house. No one shall give orders here but me, and you may write to your
guardian and tell him that, if you like.'
'I shall certainly not write to my guardian for the first time,' said
Lord Cadurcis, 'about any such nonsense.'
'Nonsense, sir! Nonsense you said, did you? Your mother nonsense! This
is the way to treat a parent, is it? I am nonsense, am I? I will teach
you what nonsense is. Nonsense shall be very good sense; you shall
find that, sir, that you shall. Nonsense, indeed! I'll write to your
guardian, that I will! You call your mother nonsense, do you? And
where did you learn that, I should like to know? Nonsense, indeed!
This comes of your going to Cherbury! So your mother is nonsense; a
pretty lesson for Lady Annabel to teach you. Oh! I'll speak my mind to
her, that I will.'
'What has Lady Annabel to do with it?' inquired Cadurcis, in a loud
'Don't threaten me, sir,' said Mrs. Cadurcis, with violent gesture.
'I won't be menaced; I won't be menaced by my son. Pretty goings
on, indeed! But I will put a stop to them; will I not? that is all.
Nonsense, indeed; your mother nonsense!'
'Well, you do talk nonsense, and the greatest,' said Plantagenet,
doggedly; 'you are talking nonsense now, you are always talking
nonsense, and you never open your mouth about Lady Annabel without
'If I was not very ill I would give it you,' said his mother, grinding
her teeth. 'O you brat! You wicked brat, you! Is this the way to
address me? I have half a mind to shake your viciousness out of you,
that I have!
You are worse than your father, that you are!' and here she wept with
'I dare say my father was not so bad, after all!' said Cadurcis.
'What should you know about your father, sir?' said Mrs. Cadurcis.
'How dare you speak about your father!'
'Who should speak about a father but a son?'
'Hold your impudence, sir!'
'I am not impudent, ma'am.'
'You aggravating brat!' exclaimed the enraged woman, 'I wish I had
something to throw at you!'
'Did you throw things at my father?' asked his lordship.
Mrs. Cadurcis went into an hysterical rage; then, suddenly jumping up,
she rushed at her son. Lord Cadurcis took up a position behind
the table, but the sportive and mocking air which he generally
instinctively assumed on these occasions, and which, while it
irritated his mother more, was in reality affected by the boy from a
sort of nervous desire of preventing these dreadful exposures from
assuming a too tragic tone, did not characterise his countenance on
the present occasion; on the contrary, it was pale, but composed and
very serious. Mrs. Cadurcis, after one or two ineffectual attempts to
catch him, paused and panted for breath. He took advantage of this
momentary cessation, and spoke thus, 'Mother, I am in no humour for
frolics. I moved out of your way that you might not strike me, because
I have made up my mind that, if you ever strike me again, I will live
with you no longer. Now, I have given you warning; do what you please;
I shall sit down in this chair, and not move. If you strike me, you
know the consequences.' So saying, his lordship resumed his chair.
Mrs. Cadurcis simultaneously sprang forward and boxed his ears; and
then her son rose without the slightest expression of any kind, and
slowly quitted the chamber.
Mrs. Cadurcis remained alone in a savage sulk; hours passed away, and
her son never made his appearance. Then she rang the bell, and ordered
the servant to tell Lord Cadurcis that tea was ready; but the servant
returned, and reported that his lordship had locked himself up in his
room, and would not reply to his inquiries. Determined not to give in,
Mrs. Cadurcis, at length, retired for the night, rather regretting her
violence, but still sullen. Having well scolded her waiting-woman, she
at length fell asleep.
The morning brought breakfast, but no Lord Cadurcis; in vain were all
the messages of his mother, her son would make no reply to them. Mrs.
Cadurcis, at length, personally repaired to his room and knocked at
the door, but she was as unsuccessful as the servants; she began to
think he would starve, and desired the servant to offer from himself
to bring his meal. Still silence. Indignant at his treatment of these
overtures of conciliation, Mrs. Cadurcis returned to the saloon,
confident that hunger, if no other impulse, would bring her wild cub
out of his lair; but, just before dinner, her waiting-woman came
running into the room.
'Oh, ma'am, ma'am, I don't know where Lord Cadurcis has gone; but I
have just seen John, and he says there was no pony in the stable this
'Mrs. Cadurcis sprang up, rushed to her son's chamber, found the door
still locked, ordered it to be burst open, and then it turned out that
his lordship had never been there at all, for the bed was unused. Mrs.
Cadurcis was frightened out of her life; the servants, to console
her, assured her that Plantagenet must be at Cherbury; and while she
believed their representations, which were probable, she became not
only more composed, but resumed her jealousy and sullenness. 'Gone
to Cherbury, indeed! No doubt of it! Let him remain at Cherbury.'
Execrating Lady Annabel, she flung herself into an easy chair, and
dined alone, preparing herself to speak her mind on her son's return.
The night, however, did not bring him, and Mrs. Cadurcis began to
recur to her alarm. Much as she now disliked Lady Annabel, she
could not resist the conviction that her ladyship would not permit
Plantagenet to remain at Cherbury. Nevertheless, jealous, passionate,
and obstinate, she stifled her fears, vented her spleen on her unhappy
domestics, and, finally, exhausting herself by a storm of passion
about some very unimportant subject, again sought refuge in sleep.
She awoke early in a fright, and inquired immediately for her son.
He had not been seen. She ordered the abbey bell to be sounded, sent
messengers throughout the demesne, and directed all the offices to
be searched. At first she thought he must have returned, and slept,
perhaps in a barn; then she adopted the more probable conclusion, that
he had drowned himself in the lake. Then she went into hysterics;
called Plantagenet her lost darling; declared he was the best and most
dutiful of sons, and the image of his poor father, then abused all the
servants, and then abused herself.
About noon she grew quite distracted, and rushed about the house
with her hair dishevelled, and in a dressing-gown, looked in all the
closets, behind the screens, under the chairs, into her work-box, but,
strange to say, with no success. Then she went off into a swoon, and
her servants, alike frightened about master and mistress, mother and
son, dispatched a messenger immediately to Cherbury for intelligence,
advice, and assistance. In less than an hour's time the messenger
returned, and informed them that Lord Cadurcis had not been at
Cherbury since two days back, but that Lady Annabel was very sorry
to hear that their mistress was so ill, and would come on to see her
immediately. In the meantime, Lady Annabel added that she had sent
to Dr. Masham, and had great hopes that Lord Cadurcis was at
Marringhurst. Mrs. Cadurcis, who had now come to, as her waiting-woman
described the returning consciousness of her mistress, eagerly
embraced the hope held out of Plantagenet being at Marringhurst,
poured forth a thousand expressions of gratitude, admiration, and
affection for Lady Annabel, who, she declared, was her best, her only
friend, and the being in the world whom she loved most, next to her
unhappy and injured child.
After another hour of suspense Lady Annabel arrived, and her entrance
was the signal for a renewed burst of hysterics from Mrs. Cadurcis, so
wild and terrible that they must have been contagious to any female of
less disciplined emotions than her guest.
Towards evening Dr. Masham arrived at Cadurcis. He could give no
intelligence of Plantagenet, who had not called at Marringhurst; but
he offered, and was prepared, to undertake his pursuit. The good
Doctor had his saddle-bags well stocked, and was now on his way to
Southport, that being the nearest town, and where he doubted not
to gain some tidings of the fugitive. Mrs. Cadurcis he found so
indisposed, that he anticipated the charitable intentions of Lady
Annabel not to quit her; and after having bid them place their
confidence in Providence and his humble exertions, he at once departed
on his researches.
In the meantime let us return to the little lord himself. Having
secured the advantage of a long start, by the device of turning the
key of his chamber, he repaired to the stables, and finding no one
to observe him, saddled his pony and galloped away without plan or
purpose. An instinctive love of novelty and adventure induced him to
direct his course by a road which he had never before pursued; and,
after two or three miles progress through a wild open country of
brushwood, he found that he had entered that considerable forest which
formed the boundary of many of the views from Cadurcis. The afternoon
was clear and still, the sun shining in the light blue sky, and the
wind altogether hushed. On each side of the winding road spread the
bright green turf, occasionally shaded by picturesque groups of
doddered oaks. The calm beauty of the sylvan scene wonderfully touched
the fancy of the youthful fugitive; it soothed and gratified him. He
pulled up his pony; patted its lively neck, as if in gratitude for
its good service, and, confident that he could not be successfully
pursued, indulged in a thousand dreams of Robin Hood and his merry
men. As for his own position and prospects, he gave himself no anxiety
about them: satisfied with his escape from a revolting thraldom, his
mind seemed to take a bound from the difficulty of his situation and
the wildness of the scene, and he felt himself a man, and one, too,
whom nothing could daunt or appal.
Soon the road itself quite disappeared and vanished in a complete
turfy track; but the continuing marks of cartwheels assured him that
it was a thoroughfare, although he was now indeed journeying in the
heart of a forest of oaks and he doubted not it would lead to some
town or village, or at any rate to some farmhouse. Towards sunset, he
determined to make use of the remaining light, and pushed on apace;
but it soon grew so dark, that he found it necessary to resume his
walking pace, from fear of the overhanging branches and the trunks of
felled trees which occasionally crossed his way.
Notwithstanding the probable prospect of passing his night in the
forest, our little adventurer did not lose heart. Cadurcis was an
intrepid child, and when in the company of those with whom he was not
familiar, and free from those puerile associations to which those who
had known and lived with him long were necessarily subject, he would
assume a staid and firm demeanour unusual with one of such tender
years. A light in the distance was now not only a signal that
the shelter he desired was at hand, but reminded him that it was
necessary, by his assured port, to prove that he was not unused to
travel alone, and that he was perfectly competent and qualified to be
his own master.
As he drew nearer, the lights multiplied, and the moon, which now rose
over the forest, showed to him that the trees, retiring on both sides
to some little distance, left a circular plot of ground, on which were
not only the lights which had at first attracted his attention, but
the red flames of a watch-fire, round which some dark figures had
hitherto been clustered. The sound of horses' feet had disturbed them,
and the fire was now more and more visible. As Cadurcis approached, he
observed some low tents, and in a few minutes he was in the centre of
an encampment of gipsies. He was for a moment somewhat dismayed, for
he had been brought up with the usual terror of these wild people;
nevertheless, he was not unequal to the occasion. He was surrounded in
an instant, but only with women and children; for the gipsy-men never
immediately appear. They smiled with their bright eyes, and the flames
of the watch-fire threw a lurid glow over their dark and flashing
countenances; they held out their practised hands; they uttered
unintelligible, but not unfriendly sounds. The heart of Cadurcis
faltered, but his voice did not betray him.
'I am cold, good people,' said the undaunted boy; 'will you let me
warm myself by your fire?'
A beautiful girl, with significant gestures, pressed her hand to her
heart, then pointed in the direction of the tents, and then rushed
away, soon reappearing with a short thin man, inclining to middle age,
but of a compact and apparently powerful frame, lithe, supple, and
sinewy. His complexion was dark, but clear; his eye large, liquid, and
black; but his other features small, though precisely moulded. He wore
a green jacket and a pair of black velvet breeches, his legs and feet
being bare, with the exception of slippers. Round his head was twisted
a red handkerchief, which, perhaps, might not have looked like a
turban on a countenance less oriental.
'What would the young master?' inquired the gipsy-man, in a voice far
from disagreeable, and with a gesture of courtesy; but, at the same
time, he shot a scrutinising glance first at Plantagenet, and then at
'I would remain with you,' said Cadurcis; 'that is, if you will let
The gipsy-man made a sign to the women, and Plantagenet was lifted
by them off his pony, before he could be aware of their purpose; the
children led the pony away, and the gipsy-man conducted Plantagenet to
the fire, where an old woman sat, presiding over the mysteries of an
enormous flesh-pot. Immediately his fellows, who had originally been
clustered around it, re-appeared; fresh blocks and branches were
thrown on, the flames crackled and rose, the men seated themselves
around, and Plantagenet, excited by the adventure, rubbed his hands
before the fire, and determined to fear nothing.
A savoury steam exuded from the flesh-pot.
'That smells well,' said Plantagenet.
'Tis a dimber cove,'[A] whispered one of the younger men to a
[Footnote A: 'Tis a lively lad.]
'Our supper has but rough seasoning for such as you,' said the man who
had first saluted him, and who was apparently the leader; 'but the
welcome is hearty.'
The woman and girls now came with wooden bowls and platters, and,
after serving the men, seated themselves in an exterior circle, the
children playing round them.
'Come, old mort,' said the leader, in a very different tone to the one
in which he addressed his young guest, 'tout the cobble-colter; are we
to have darkmans upon us? And, Beruna, flick the panam.'[A]
[Footnote A: Come, old woman, took after the turkey. Are we to wait
till night! And, Beruna, cut the bread.]
Upon this, that beautiful girl, who had at first attracted the notice
of Cadurcis, called out in a sweet lively voice, 'Ay! ay! Morgana!'
and in a moment handed over the heads of the women a pannier of bread,
which the leader took, and offered its contents to our fugitive.
Cadurcis helped himself, with a bold but gracious air. The pannier was
then passed round, and the old woman, opening the pot, drew out, with
a huge iron fork, a fine turkey, which she tossed into a large wooden
platter, and cut up with great quickness. First she helped Morgana,
but only gained a reproof for her pains, who immediately yielded his
portion to Plantagenet. Each man was provided with his knife, but the
guest had none. Morgana immediately gave up his own.
'Beruna!' he shouted, 'gibel a chiv for the gentry cove.'[A]
[Footnote A: Bring a knife for the gentleman.]
'Ay! ay! Morgana!' said the girl; and she brought the knife to
Plantagenet himself, saying at the same time, with sparkling eyes,
'Yam, yam, gentry cove.'[A]
[Footnote A: Eat, eat, gentleman.]
Cadurcis really thought it was the most delightful meal he had ever
made in his life. The flesh-pot held something besides turkeys. Rough
as was the fare, it was good and plentiful. As for beverage, they
drank humpty-dumpty, which is ale boiled with brandy, and which is
not one of the slightest charms of a gipsy's life. When the men were
satisfied, their platters were filled, and given to the women and
children; and Beruna, with her portion, came and seated herself by
Plantagenet, looking at him with a blended glance of delight and
astonishment, like a beautiful young savage, and then turning to her
female companions to stifle a laugh. The flesh-pot was carried away,
the men lit their pipes, the fire was replenished, its red shadow
mingled with the silver beams of the moon; around were the glittering
tents and the silent woods; on all sides flashing eyes and picturesque
forms. Cadurcis glanced at his companions, and gazed upon the scene
with feelings of ravishing excitement; and then, almost unconscious of
what he was saying, exclaimed, 'At length I have found the life that
'Indeed, squire!' said Morgana. 'Would you be one of us?'
'From this moment,' said Cadurcis, 'if you will admit me to your band.
But what can I do? And I have nothing to give you. You must teach me
to earn my right to our supper.'
'We'll make a Turkey merchant[A] of you yet,' said an old gipsy,
'never fear that.'
[Footnote A: _i.e._ We will teach you to steal a turkey]
'Bah, Peter!' said Morgana, with an angry look, 'your red rag will
never be still. And what was the purpose of your present travel?' he
continued to Plantagenet.
'None; I was sick of silly home.'
'The gentry cove will be romboyled by his dam,' said a third gipsy.
'Queer Cuffin will be the word yet, if we don't tout.'[A]
[Footnote A: His mother will make a hue and cry after the gentleman
yet; justice of the peace will be the word, if we don't look sharp.]
'Well, you shall see a little more of us before you decide,' said
Morgana, thoughtfully, and turning the conversation. 'Beruna.'
'Ay! ay! Morgana!'
'Tip me the clank, like a dimber mort as you are; trim a ken for the
gentry cove; he is no lanspresado, or I am a kinchin.'[A]
[Footnote A: Give me the tankard, like a pretty girl. Get a bed ready
for the gentleman. He is no informer, or I am an infant.]
'Ay! ay! Morgana' gaily exclaimed the girl, and she ran off to prepare
a bed for the Lord of Cadurcis.
Dr. Masham could gain no tidings of the object of his pursuit at
Southport: here, however, he ascertained that Plantagenet could not
have fled to London, for in those days public conveyances were rare.
There was only one coach that ran, or rather jogged, along this road,
and it went but once a week, it being expected that very night; while
the innkeeper was confident that so far as Southport was concerned,
his little lordship had not sought refuge in the waggon, which
was more frequent, though somewhat slower, in its progress to the
metropolis. Unwilling to return home, although the evening was now
drawing in, the Doctor resolved to proceed to a considerable town
about twelve miles further, which Cadurcis might have reached by a
cross road; so drawing his cloak around him, looking to his pistols,
and desiring his servant to follow his example, the stout-hearted
Rector of Marringhurst pursued his way.
It was dark when the Doctor entered the town, and he proceeded
immediately to the inn where the coach was expected, with some faint
hope that the fugitive might be discovered abiding within its walls;
but, to all his inquiries about young gentlemen and ponies, he
received very unsatisfactory answers; so, reconciling himself as well
as he could to the disagreeable posture of affairs, he settled himself
in the parlour of the inn, with a good fire, and, lighting his pipe,
desired his servant to keep a sharp look-out.
In due time a great uproar in the inn-yard announced the arrival of
the stage, an unwieldy machine, carrying six inside, and dragged by as
many horses. The Doctor, opening the door of his apartment, which
led on to a gallery that ran round the inn-yard, leaned over the
balustrade with his pipe in his mouth, and watched proceedings. It so
happened that the stage was to discharge one of its passengers at this
town, who had come from the north, and the Doctor recognised in him a
neighbour and brother magistrate, one Squire Mountmeadow, an important
personage in his way, the terror of poachers, and somewhat of an
oracle on the bench, as it was said that he could take a deposition
without the assistance of his clerk. Although, in spite of the
ostler's lanterns, it was very dark, it was impossible ever to be
unaware of the arrival of Squire Mountmeadow; for he was one of those
great men who take care to remind the world of their dignity by the
attention which they require on every occasion.
'Coachman!' said the authoritative voice of the Squire. 'Where is the
coachman? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Postilion! Where is the
postilion? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Host! Where is the host?
Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Waiter! Where is the waiter? I say
where is the waiter?'
'Coming, please your worship!'
'How long am I to wait? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Coachman!'
'Yes, your worship!'
'Your worship's servant!'
'Your worship's honour's humble servant!'
'I am going to alight!'
All four attendants immediately bowed, and extended their arms to
assist this very great man; but Squire Mountmeadow, scarcely deigning
to avail himself of their proffered assistance, and pausing on each
step, looking around him with his long, lean, solemn visage, finally
reached terra firma in safety, and slowly stretched his tall, ungainly
figure. It was at this moment that Dr. Masham's servant approached
him, and informed his worship that his master was at the inn, and
would be happy to see him. The countenance of the great Mountmeadow
relaxed at the mention of the name of a brother magistrate, and in an
audible voice he bade the groom 'tell my worthy friend, his worship,
your worthy master, that I shall be rejoiced to pay my respects to an
esteemed neighbour and a brother magistrate.'
With slow and solemn steps, preceded by the host, and followed by the
waiter, Squire Mountmeadow ascended the staircase of the external
gallery, pausing occasionally, and looking around him with thoughtful
importance, and making an occasional inquiry as to the state of the
town and neighbourhood during his absence, in this fashion: 'Stop!
where are you, host? Oh! you are there, sir, are you? Well, Mr. Host,
and how have we been? orderly, eh?'
'Quite orderly, your worship.'
'Hoh! Orderly! Hem! Well, very well! Never easy, if absent only
four-and-twenty hours. The law must be obeyed.'
'Yes, your worship.'
'Lead on, sir. And, waiter; where are you, waiter? Oh, you are there,
sir, are you? And so my brother magistrate is here?'
'Yes, your honour's worship.'
'Hem! What can he want? something in the wind; wants my advice, I dare
say; shall have it. Soldiers ruly; king's servants; must be obeyed.'
'Yes, your worship; quite ruly, your worship,' said the host.
'As obliging and obstreperous as can be,' said the waiter.
'Well, very well;' and here the Squire had gained the gallery, where
the Doctor was ready to receive him.
'It always gives me pleasure to meet a brother magistrate,' said
Squire Mountmeadow, bowing with cordial condescension; 'and a
gentleman of your cloth, too. The clergy must be respected; I stand or
fall by the Church. After you, Doctor, after you.' So saying, the two
magistrates entered the room.
'An unexpected pleasure, Doctor,' said the Squire; 'and what brings
your worship to town?'
'A somewhat strange business,' said the Doctor; 'and indeed I am not a
little glad to have the advantage of your advice and assistance.'
'Hem! I thought so,' said the Squire; 'your worship is very
complimentary. What is the case? Larceny?'
'Nay, my good sir, 'tis a singular affair; and, if you please, we will
order supper first, and discuss it afterwards. 'Tis for your private
'Oh! ho!' said the Squire, looking very mysterious and important.
'With your worship's permission,' he added, filling a pipe.
The host was no laggard in waiting on two such important guests. The
brother magistrates despatched their rump-steak; the foaming tankard
was replenished; the fire renovated. At length, the table and the room
being alike clear, Squire Mountmeadow drew a long puff, and said, 'Now
for business, Doctor.'
His companion then informed him of the exact object of his visit, and
narrated to him so much of the preceding incidents as was necessary.
The Squire listened in solemn silence, elevating his eyebrows, nodding
his head, trimming his pipe, with profound interjections; and finally,
being appealed to for his opinion by the Doctor, delivered himself of
a most portentous 'Hem!'
'I question, Doctor,' said the Squire, 'whether we should not
communicate with the Secretary of State. 'Tis no ordinary business.
'Tis a spiriting away of a Peer of the realm. It smacks of treason.'
'Egad!' said the Doctor, suppressing a smile, 'I think we can hardly
make a truant boy a Cabinet question.'
The Squire glanced a look of pity at his companion. 'Prove the
truancy, Doctor; prove it. 'Tis a case of disappearance; and how do we
know that there is not a Jesuit at the bottom of it?'
'There is something in that,' said the Doctor.
'There is everything in it,' said the Squire, triumphantly. 'We must
offer rewards; we must raise the posse comitatus.'
'For the sake of the family, I would make as little stir as
necessary,' said Dr. Masham.
'For the sake of the family!' said the Squire. 'Think of the nation,
sir! For the sake of the nation we must make as much stir as possible.
'Tis a Secretary of State's business; 'tis a case for a general
'He is a well-meaning lad enough,' said the Doctor.
'Ay, and therefore more easily played upon,' said the Squire. 'Rome is
at the bottom of it, brother Masham, and I am surprised that a good
Protestant like yourself, one of the King's Justices of the Peace, and
a Doctor of Divinity to boot, should doubt the fact for an instant.'
'We have not heard much of the Jesuits of late years,' said the
'The very reason that they are more active,' said the Squire.
'An only child!' said Dr. Masham.
'A Peer of the realm!' said Squire Mountmeadow.
'I should think he must be in the neighbourhood.'
'More likely at St. Omer's.'
'They would scarely take him to the plantations with this war?'
'Let us drink "Confusion to the rebels!"' said the Squire. 'Any news?'
'Howe sails this week,' said the Doctor.
'May he burn Boston!' said the Squire.
'I would rather he would reduce it, without such extremities,' said
'Nothing is to be done without extremities,' said Squire Mountmeadow.
'But this poor child?' said the Doctor, leading back the conversation.
'What can we do?'
'The law of the case is clear,' said the Squire; 'we must move a
'But shall we be nearer getting him for that?' inquired the Doctor.
'Perhaps not, sir; but 'tis the regular way. We must proceed by rule.'
'I am sadly distressed,' said Dr. Masham. 'The worst is, he has gained
such a start upon us; and yet he can hardly have gone to London; he
would have been recognised here or at Southport.'
'With his hair cropped, and in a Jesuit's cap?' inquired the Squire,
with a slight sneer. 'Ah! Doctor, Doctor, you know not the gentry you
have to deal with!'
'We must hope,' said Dr. Masham. 'To-morrow we must organise some
'I fear it will be of no use,' said the Squire, replenishing his pipe.
'These Jesuits are deep fellows.'
'But we are not sure about the Jesuits, Squire.'
'I am,' said the Squire; 'the case is clear, and the sooner you break
it to his mother the better. You asked me for my advice, and I give it
It was on the following morning, as the Doctor was under the operation
of the barber, that his groom ran into the room with a pale face and
agitated air, and exclaimed,
'Oh! master, master, what do you think? Here is a man in the yard with
my lord's pony.'
'Stop him, Peter,' exclaimed the Doctor. 'No! watch him, watch him;
send for a constable. Are you certain 'tis the pony?'
'I could swear to it out of a thousand,' said Peter.
'There, never mind my beard, my good man,' said the Doctor. 'There is
no time for appearances. Here is a robbery, at least; God grant no
worse. Peter, my boots!' So saying, the Doctor, half equipped, and
followed by Peter and the barber, went forth on the gallery. 'Where is
he?' said the Doctor.
'He is down below, talking to the ostler, and trying to sell the
pony,' said Peter.
'There is no time to lose,' said the Doctor; 'follow me, like true
men:' and the Doctor ran downstairs in his silk nightcap, for his wig
was not yet prepared.
'There he is,' said Peter; and true enough there was a man in a
smock-frock and mounted on the very pony which Lady Annabel had
presented to Plantagenet.
'Seize this man in the King's name,' said the Doctor, hastily
advancing to him. 'Ostler, do your duty; Peter, be firm. I charge you
all; I am a justice of the peace. I charge you arrest this man.'
The man seemed very much astonished; but he was composed, and offered
no resistance. He was dressed like a small farmer, in top-boots and a
smock-frock. His hat was rather jauntily placed on his curly red hair.
'Why am I seized?' at length said the man.
'Where did you get that pony?' said the Doctor.
'I bought it,' was the reply.
'A stranger at market.'
'You are accused of robbery, and suspected of murder,' said Dr.
Masham. 'Mr. Constable,' said the Doctor, turning to that functionary,
who had now arrived, 'handcuff this man, and keep him in strict
custody until further orders.'
The report that a man was arrested for robbery, and suspected of
murder, at the Red Dragon, spread like wildfire through the town;
and the inn-yard was soon crowded with the curious and excited
Peter and the barber, to whom he had communicated everything, were
well qualified to do justice to the important information of which
they were the sole depositaries; the tale lost nothing by their
telling; and a circumstantial narrative of the robbery and murder of
no less a personage than Lord Cadurcis, of Cadurcis Abbey, was soon
The stranger was secured in a stable, before which the constable kept
guard; mine host, and the waiter, and the ostlers acted as a sort of
supernumerary police, to repress the multitude; while Peter held the
real pony by the bridle, whose identity, which he frequently attested,
was considered by all present as an incontrovertible evidence of the
commission of the crime.
In the meantime Dr. Masham, really agitated, roused his brother
magistrate, and communicated to his worship the important discovery.
The Squire fell into a solemn flutter. 'We must be regular, brother
Masham; we must proceed by rule; we are a bench in ourselves. Would
that my clerk were here! We must send for Signsealer forthwith. I will
not decide without the statutes. The law must be consulted, and it
must be obeyed. The fellow hath not brought my wig. 'Tis a case of
murder no doubt. A Peer of the realm murdered! You must break the
intelligence to his surviving parent, and I will communicate to the
Secretary of State. Can the body be found? That will prove the murder.
Unless the body be found, the murder will not be proved, save
the villain confess, which he will not do unless he hath sudden
compunctions. I have known sudden compunctions go a great way. We had
a case before our bench last month; there was no evidence. It was not
a case of murder; it was of woodcutting; there was no evidence; but
the defendant had compunctions. Oh! here is my wig. We must send for
Signsealer. He is clerk to our bench, and he must bring the statutes.
'Tis not simple murder this; it involves petty treason.'
By this time his worship had completed his toilet, and he and his
colleague took their way to the parlour they had inhabited the
preceding evening. Mr. Signsealer was in attendance, much to the real,
though concealed, satisfaction of Squire Mountmeadow. Their worships
were seated like two consuls before the table, which Mr. Signsealer
had duly arranged with writing materials and various piles of
calf-bound volumes. Squire Mountmeadow then, arranging his
countenance, announced that the bench was prepared, and mine host was
instructed forthwith to summon the constable and his charge, together
with Peter and the ostler as witnesses. There was a rush among some of
the crowd who were nighest the scene to follow the prisoner into the
room; and, sooth to say, the great Mountmeadow was much too enamoured
of his own self-importance to be by any means a patron of close courts
and private hearings; but then, though he loved his power to be
witnessed, he was equally desirous that his person should be
reverenced. It was his boast that he could keep a court of quarter
sessions as quiet as a church; and now, when the crowd rushed in with
all those sounds of tumult incidental to such a movement, it required
only Mountmeadow slowly to rise, and drawing himself up to the full
height of his gaunt figure, to knit his severe brow, and throw one
of his peculiar looks around the chamber, to insure a most awful
stillness. Instantly everything was so hushed, that you might have
heard Signsealer nib his pen.
The witnesses were sworn; Peter proved that the pony belonged to Lord
Cadurcis, and that his lordship had been missing from home for several
days, and was believed to have quitted the abbey on this identical
pony. Dr. Masham was ready, if necessary, to confirm this evidence.
The accused adhered to his first account, that he had purchased the
animal the day before at a neighbouring fair, and doggedly declined to
answer any cross-examination. Squire Mountmeadow looked alike pompous
and puzzled; whispered to the Doctor; and then shook his head at Mr.
'I doubt whether there be satisfactory evidence of the murder, brother
Masham,' said the Squire; 'what shall be our next step?'
'There is enough evidence to keep this fellow in custody,' said the
Doctor. 'We must remand him, and make inquiries at the market town.
I shall proceed there immediately, He is a strange-looking fellow,'
added the Doctor: 'were it not for his carroty locks, I should
scarcely take him for a native.'
'Hem!' said the Squire, 'I have my suspicions. Fellow,' continued his
worship, in an awful tone, 'you say that you are a stranger, and that
your name is Morgan; very suspicious all this: you have no one to
speak to your character or station, and you are found in possession of
stolen goods. The bench will remand you for the present, and will at
any rate commit you for trial for the robbery. But here is a Peer of
the realm missing, fellow, and you are most grievously suspected of
being concerned in his spiriting away, or even murder. You are upon
tender ground, prisoner; 'tis a case verging on petty treason, if not
petty treason itself. Eh! Mr. Signsealer? Thus runs the law, as I take
it? Prisoner, it would be well for you to consider your situation.
Have you no compunctions? Compunctions might save you, if not a
principal offender. It is your duty to assist the bench in executing
justice. The Crown is merciful; you may be king's evidence.'
Mr. Signsealer whispered the bench; he proposed that the prisoner's
hat should be examined, as the name of its maker might afford a clue
to his residence.
'True, true, Mr. Clerk,' said Squire Mountmeadow, 'I am coming to
that. 'Tis a sound practice; I have known such a circumstance lead to
great disclosures. But we must proceed in order. Order is everything.
Constable, take the prisoner's hat off.'
The constable took the hat off somewhat rudely; so rudely, indeed,
that the carroty locks came off in company with it, and revealed a
profusion of long plaited hair, which had been adroitly twisted under
the wig, more in character with the countenance than its previous
'A Jesuit, after all!' exclaimed the Squire.
'A gipsy, as it seems to me,' whispered the Doctor.
'Still worse,' said the Squire.
'Silence in the Court!' exclaimed the awful voice of Squire
Mountmeadow, for the excitement of the audience was considerable.
The disguise was generally esteemed as incontestable evidence of the
murder. 'Silence, or I will order the Court to be cleared. Constable,
proclaim silence. This is an awful business,' added the Squire, with a
very long face. 'Brother Masham, we must do our duty; but this is an
awful business. At any rate we must try to discover the body. A Peer
of the realm must not be suffered to lie murdered in a ditch. He must
have Christian burial, if possible, in the vaults of his ancestors.'
When Morgana, for it was indeed he, observed the course affairs were
taking, and ascertained that his detention under present circumstances
was inevitable, he relaxed from his doggedness, and expressed a
willingness to make a communication to the bench. Squire Mountmeadow
lifted up his eyes to Heaven, as if entreating the interposition of
Providence to guide him in his course; then turned to his brother
magistrate, and then nodded to the clerk.
'He has compunctions, brother Masham,' said his worship: 'I told you
so; he has compunctions. Trust me to deal with these fellows. He knew
not his perilous situation; the hint of petty treason staggered him.
Mr. Clerk, take down the prisoner's confession; the Court must be
cleared; constable, clear the Court. Let a stout man stand on each
side of the prisoner, to protect the bench. The magistracy of England
will never shrink from doing their duty, but they must be protected.
Now, prisoner, the bench is ready to hear your confession. Conceal
nothing, and if you were not a principal in the murder, or an
accessory before the fact; eh, Mr. Clerk, thus runs the law, as I take
it? there may be mercy; at any rate, if you be hanged, you will have
the satisfaction of having cheerfully made the only atonement to
society in your power.'
'Hanging be damned!' said Morgana.
Squire Mountmeadow started from his seat, his cheeks distended with
rage, his dull eyes for once flashing fire. 'Did you ever witness such
atrocity, brother Masham?' exclaimed his worship. 'Did you hear the
villain? I'll teach him to respect the bench. I'll fine him before he
is executed, that I will!'
'The young gentleman to whom this pony belongs,' continued the gipsy,
'may or may not be a lord. I never asked him his name, and he never
told it me; but he sought hospitality of me and my people, and we gave
it him, and he lives with us, of his own free choice. The pony is of
no use to him now, and so I came to sell it for our common good.'
'A Peer of the realm turned gipsy!' exclaimed the Squire. 'A very
likely tale! I'll teach you to come here and tell your cock-and-bull
stories to two of his majesty's justices of the peace. 'Tis a flat
case of robbery and murder, and I venture to say something else. You
shall go to gaol directly, and the Lord have mercy on your soul!'
'Nay,' said the gipsy, appealing to Dr. Marsham; 'you, sir, appear to
be a friend of this youth. You will not regain him by sending me to
gaol. Load me, if you will, with irons; surround me with armed men,
but at least give me the opportunity of proving the truth of what I
say. I offer in two hours to produce to you the youth, and you shall
find he is living with my people in content and peace.'
'Content and fiddlestick!' said the Squire, in a rage.
'Brother Mountmeadow,' said the Doctor, in a low tone, to his
colleague, 'I have private duties to perform to this family. Pardon
me if, with all deference to your sounder judgment and greater
experience, I myself accept the prisoner's offer.'
'Brother Masham, you are one of his majesty's justices of the peace,
you are a brother magistrate, and you are a Doctor of Divinity; you
owe a duty to your country, and you owe a duty to yourself. Is it
wise, is it decorous, that one of the Quorum should go a-gipsying?
Is it possible that you can credit this preposterous tale? Brother
Masham, there will be a rescue, or my name is not Mountmeadow.'
In spite, however, of all these solemn warnings, the good Doctor, who
was not altogether unaware of the character of his pupil, and could
comprehend that it was very possible the statement of the gipsy might
be genuine, continued without very much offending his colleague, who
looked upon, his conduct indeed rather with pity than resentment,
to accept the offer of Morgana; and consequently, well-secured and
guarded, and preceding the Doctor, who rode behind the cart with his
servant, the gipsy soon sallied forth from the inn-yard, and requested
the driver to guide his course in the direction of the forest.
It was the afternoon of the third day after the arrival of Cadurcis at
the gipsy encampment, and nothing had yet occurred to make him repent
his flight from the abbey, and the choice of life he had made. He had
experienced nothing but kindness and hospitality, while the beautiful
Beruna seemed quite content to pass her life in studying his
amusement. The weather, too, had been extremely favourable to his new
mode of existence; and stretched at his length upon the rich turf,
with his head on Beruna's lap, and his eyes fixed upon the rich forest
foliage glowing in the autumnal sunset, Plantagenet only wondered
that he could have endured for so many years the shackles of his
His companions were awaiting the return of their leader, Morgana,
who had been absent since the preceding day, and who had departed on
Plantagenet's pony. Most of them were lounging or strolling in the
vicinity of their tents; the children were playing; the old woman was
cooking at the fire; and altogether, save that the hour was not so
late, the scene presented much the same aspect as when Cadurcis had
first beheld it. As for his present occupation, Beruna was giving him
a lesson in the gipsy language, which he was acquiring with a rapid
facility, which quite exceeded all his previous efforts in such
Suddenly a scout sang out that a party was in sight. The men instantly
disappeared; the women were on the alert; and one ran forward as a
spy, on pretence of telling fortunes. This bright-eyed professor of
palmistry soon, however, returned running, and out of breath, yet
chatting all the time with inconceivable rapidity, and accompanying
the startling communication she was evidently making with the most
animated gestures. Beruna started up, and, leaving the astonished
Cadurcis, joined them. She seemed alarmed. Cadurcis was soon convinced
there was consternation in the camp.
Suddenly a horseman galloped up, and was immediately followed by a
companion. They called out, as if encouraging followers, and one of
them immediately galloped away again, as if to detail the results
of their reconnaissance. Before Cadurcis could well rise and make
inquiries as to what was going on, a light cart, containing several
men, drove up, and in it, a prisoner, he detected Morgana. The
branches of the trees concealed for a moment two other horsemen
who followed the cart; but Cadurcis, to his infinite alarm and
mortification, soon recognised Dr. Masham and Peter.
When the gipsies found their leader was captive, they no longer
attempted to conceal themselves; they all came forward, and would have
clustered round the cart, had not the riders, as well as those who
more immediately guarded the prisoner, prevented them. Morgana spoke
some words in a loud voice to the gipsies, and they immediately
appeared less agitated; then turning to Dr. Masham, he said in
English, 'Behold your child!'
Instantly two gipsy men seized Cadurcis, and led him to the Doctor.
'How now, my lord!' said the worthy Rector, in a stern voice, 'is this
your duty to your mother and your friends?'
Cadurcis looked down, but rather dogged than ashamed.
'You have brought an innocent man into great peril,' continued the
Doctor. 'This person, no longer a prisoner, has been arrested on
suspicion of robbery, and even murder, through your freak. Morgana, or
whatever your name may be, here is some reward for your treatment of
this child, and some compensation for your detention. Mount your pony,
Lord Cadurcis, and return to your home with me.'
'This is my home, sir,' said Plantagenet.
'Lord Cadurcis, this childish nonsense must cease; it has already
endangered the life of your mother, nor can I answer for her safety,
if you lose a moment in returning.'
'Child, you must return,' said Morgana.
'Child!' said Plantagenet, and he walked some steps away, and leant
against a tree. 'You promised that I should remain,' said he,
addressing himself reproachfully to Morgana.
'You are not your own master,' said the gipsy; 'your remaining here
will only endanger and disturb us. Fortunately we have nothing to fear
from laws we have never outraged; but had there been a judge less wise
and gentle than the master here, our peaceful family might have been
all harassed and hunted to the very death.'
He waved his hand, and addressed some words to his tribe, whereupon
two brawny fellows seized Cadurcis, and placed him again, in spite of
his struggling, upon his pony, with the same irresistible facility
with which they had a few nights before dismounted him. The little
lord looked very sulky, but his position was beginning to get
ludicrous. Morgana, pocketing his five guineas, leaped over the side
of the cart, and offered to guide the Doctor and his attendants
through the forest. They moved on accordingly. It was the work of an
instant, and Cadurcis suddenly found himself returning home between
the Rector and Peter. Not a word, however, escaped his lips; once only
he moved; the light branch of a tree, aimed with delicate precision,
touched his back; he looked round; it was Beruna. She kissed her hand
to him, and a tear stole down his pale, sullen cheek, as, taking from
his breast his handkerchief, he threw it behind him, unperceived, that
she might pick it up, and keep it for his sake.
After proceeding two or three miles under the guidance of Morgana, the
equestrians gained the road, though it still ran through the forest.
Here the Doctor dismissed the gipsy-man, with whom he had occasionally
conversed during their progress; but not a sound ever escaped from the
mouth of Cadurcis, or rather, the captive, who was now substituted in
Morgana's stead. The Doctor, now addressing himself to Plantagenet,
informed him that it was of importance that they should make the best
of their way, and so he put spurs to his mare, and Cadurcis sullenly
complied with the intimation. At this rate, in the course of little
more than another hour, they arrived in sight of the demesne of
Cadurcis, where they pulled up their steeds.
They entered the park, they approached the portal of the abbey; at
length they dismounted. Their coming was announced by a servant, who
had recognised his lord at a distance, and had ran on before with the
tidings. When they entered the abbey, they were met by Lady Annabel in
the cloisters; her countenance was very serious. She shook hands with
Dr. Masham, but did not speak, and immediately led him aside. Cadurcis
remained standing in the very spot where Doctor Masham left him, as if
he were quite a stranger in the place, and was no longer master of
his own conduct. Suddenly Doctor Masham, who was at the end of the
cloister, while Lady Annabel was mounting the staircase, looked round
with a pale face, and said in an agitated voice, 'Lord Cadurcis, Lady
Annabel wishes to speak to you in the saloon.'
Cadurcis immediately, but slowly, repaired to the saloon. Lady Annabel
was walking up and down in it. She seemed greatly disturbed. When she
saw him, she put her arm round his neck affectionately, and said in
a low voice, 'My dearest Plantagenet, it has devolved upon me to
communicate to you some distressing intelligence.' Her voice faltered,
and the tears stole down her cheek.
'My mother, then, is dangerously ill?' he inquired in a calm but
'It is even sadder news than that, dear child.'
Cadurcis looked about him wildly, and then with an inquiring glance at
'There can be but one thing worse than that,' he at length said.
'What if it have happened?' said Lady Annabel.
He threw himself into a chair, and covered his face with his hands.
After a few minutes he looked up and said, in a low but distinct
voice, 'It is too terrible to think of; it is too terrible to mention;
but, if it have happened, let me be alone.'
Lady Annabel approached him with a light step; she embraced him, and,
whispering that she should be found in the next room, she quitted the
Cadurcis remained seated for more than half an hour without changing
in the slightest degree his position. The twilight died away; it grew
quite dark; he looked up with a slight shiver, and then quitted the
In the adjoining room, Lady Annabel was seated with Doctor Masham,
and giving him the details of the fatal event. It had occurred that
morning. Mrs. Cadurcis, who had never slept a wink since her knowledge
of her son's undoubted departure, and scarcely for an hour been free
from violent epileptic fits, had fallen early in the morning into a
doze, which lasted about half an hour, and from which her medical
attendant, who with Pauncefort had sat up with her during the night,
augured the most favourable consequences. About half-past six o'clock
she woke, and inquired whether Plantagenet had returned. They answered
her that Doctor Masham had not yet arrived, but would probably be at
the abbey in the course of the morning. She said it would be too late.
They endeavoured to encourage her, but she asked to see Lady Annabel,
who was immediately called, and lost no time in repairing to her. When
Mrs. Cadurcis recognised her, she held out her hand, and said in a
dying tone, 'It was my fault; it was ever my fault; it is too late
now; let him find a mother in you.' She never spoke again, and in the
course of an hour expired.
While Lady Annabel and the Doctor were dwelling on these sad
circumstances, and debating whether he should venture to approach
Plantagenet, and attempt to console him, for the evening was now
far advanced, and nearly three hours had elapsed since the fatal
communication had been made to him, it happened that Mistress
Pauncefort chanced to pass Mrs. Cadurcis' room, and as she did so she
heard some one violently sobbing. She listened, and hearing the sounds
frequently repeated, she entered the room, which, but for her candle,
would have been quite dark, and there she found Lord Cadurcis kneeling
and weeping by his mother's bedside. He seemed annoyed at being seen
and disturbed, but his spirit was too broken to murmur. 'La! my lord,'
said Mistress Pauncefort, 'you must not take on so; you must not
indeed. I am sure this dark room is enough to put any one in low
spirits. Now do go downstairs, and sit with my lady and the Doctor,
and try to be cheerful; that is a dear good young gentleman. I wish
Miss Venetia were here, and then she would amuse you. But you must not
take on, because there is no use in it. You must exert yourself, for
what is done cannot be undone; and, as the Doctor told us last Sunday,
we must all die; and well for those who die with a good conscience;
and I am sure the poor dear lady that is gone must have had a good
conscience, because she had a good heart, and I never heard any one
say the contrary. Now do exert yourself, my dear lord, and try to be
cheerful, do; for there is nothing like a little exertion in these
cases, for God's will must be done, and it is not for us to say yea or
nay, and taking on is a murmuring against God's providence.' And so
Mistress Pauncefort would have continued urging the usual topics of
coarse and common-place consolation; but Cadurcis only answered with a
sigh that came from the bottom of his heart, and said with streaming
eyes, 'Ah! Mrs. Pauncefort, God had only given me one friend in this
world, and there she lies.'
The first conviction that there is death in the house is perhaps the
most awful moment of youth. When we are young, we think that not only
ourselves, but that all about us, are immortal. Until the arrow has
struck a victim round our own hearth, death is merely an unmeaning
word; until then, its casual mention has stamped no idea upon our
brain. There are few, even among those least susceptible of thought
and emotion, in whose hearts and minds the first death in the family
does not act as a powerful revelation of the mysteries of life, and of
their own being; there are few who, after such a catastrophe, do not
look upon the world and the world's ways, at least for a time, with
changed and tempered feelings. It recalls the past; it makes us ponder
over the future; and youth, gay and light-hearted youth, is taught,
for the first time, to regret and to fear.
On Cadurcis, a child of pensive temperament, and in whose strange
and yet undeveloped character there was, amid lighter elements, a
constitutional principle of melancholy, the sudden decease of his
mother produced a profound effect. All was forgotten of his parent,
except the intimate and natural tie, and her warm and genuine
affection. He was now alone in the world; for reflection impressed
upon him at this moment what the course of existence too generally
teaches to us all, that mournful truth, that, after all, we have no
friends that we can depend upon in this life but our parents. All
other intimacies, however ardent, are liable to cool; all other
confidence, however unlimited, to be violated. In the phantasmagoria
of life, the friend with whom we have cultivated mutual trust for
years is often suddenly or gradually estranged from us, or becomes,
from, painful, yet irresistible circumstances, even our deadliest foe.
As for women, as for the mistresses of our hearts, who has not learnt
that the links of passion are fragile as they are glittering; and
that the bosom on which we have reposed with idolatry all our secret
sorrows and sanguine hopes, eventually becomes the very heart that
exults in our misery and baffles our welfare? Where is the enamoured
face that smiled upon our early love, and was to shed tears over our
grave? Where are the choice companions of our youth, with whom we were
to breast the difficulties and share the triumphs of existence? Even
in this inconstant world, what changes like the heart? Love is a
dream, and friendship a delusion. No wonder we grow callous; for how
few have the opportunity of returning to the hearth which they quitted
in levity or thoughtless weariness, yet which alone is faithful to
them; whose sweet affections require not the stimulus of prosperity
or fame, the lure of accomplishments, or the tribute of flattery; but
which are constant to us in distress, and console us even in disgrace!
Before she retired for the night, Lady Annabel was anxious to see
Plantagenet. Mistress Pauncefort had informed her of his visit to
his mother's room. Lady Annabel found Cadurcis in the gallery, now
partially lighted by the moon which had recently risen. She entered
with her light, as if she were on her way to her own room, and not
'Dear Plantagenet,' she said, 'will you not go to bed?'
'I do not intend to go to bed to-night,' he replied.
She approached him and took him by the hand, which he did not withdraw
from her, and they walked together once or twice up and down the
'I think, dear child,' said Lady Annabel, 'you had better come and sit
'I like to be alone,' was his answer; but not in a sullen voice, low
'But in sorrow we should be with our friends,' said Lady Annabel.
'I have no friends,' he answered. 'I only had one.'
'I am your friend, dear child; I am your mother now, and you shall
find me one if you like. And Venetia, have you forgotten your sister?
Is she not your friend? And Dr. Masham, surely you cannot doubt his
Cadurcis tried to stifle a sob. 'Ay, Lady Annabel,' he said, 'you are
my friend now, and so are you all; and you know I love you much. But
you were not my friends two years ago; and things will change again;
they will, indeed. A mother is your friend as long as she lives; she
cannot help being your friend.'
'You shall come to Cherbury and live with us,' said Lady Annabel.' You
know you love Cherbury, and you shall find it a home, a real home.'
He pressed her hand to his lips; the hand was covered with his tears.
'We will go to Cherbury to-morrow, dear Plantagenet; remaining here
will only make you sad.'
'I will never leave Cadurcis again while my mother is in this house,'
he said, in a firm and serious voice. And then, after a moment's
pause, he added, 'I wish to know when the burial is to take place.'
'We will ask Dr. Masham,' replied Lady Annabel. 'Come, let us go to
him; come, my own child.'
He permitted himself to be led away. They descended to the small
apartment where Lady Annabel had been previously sitting. They found
the Doctor there; he rose and pressed Plantagenet's hand with great
emotion. They made room for him at the fire between them; he sat in
silence, with his gaze intently fixed upon the decaying embers,
yet did not quit his hold of Lady Annabel's hand. He found it a
consolation to him; it linked him to a being who seemed to love him.
As long as he held her hand he did not seem quite alone in the world.
Now nobody spoke; for Lady Annabel felt that Cadurcis was in some
degree solaced; and she thought it unwise to interrupt the more
composed train of his thoughts. It was, indeed, Plantagenet himself
who first broke silence.
'I do not think I can go to bed, Lady Annabel,' he said. 'The thought
of this night is terrible to me. I do not think it ever can end. I
would much sooner sit up in this room.'
'Nay! my child, sleep is a great consoler; try to go to bed, love.'
'I should like to sleep in my mother's room,' was his strange reply.
'It seems to me that I could sleep there. And if I woke in the night,
I should like to see her.'
Lady Annabel and the Doctor exchanged looks.
'I think,' said the Doctor, 'you had better sleep in my room, and
then, if you wake in the night, you will have some one to speak to.
You will find that a comfort.'
'Yes, that you will,' said Lady Annabel. 'I will go and have the sofa
bed made up in the Doctor's room for you. Indeed that will be the very
So at last, but not without a struggle, they persuaded Cadurcis to
retire. Lady Annabel embraced him tenderly when she bade him good
night; and, indeed, he felt consoled by her affection.
As nothing could persuade Plantagenet to leave the abbey until his
mother was buried, Lady Annabel resolved to take up her abode there,
and she sent the next morning for Venetia. There were a great many
arrangements to make about the burial and the mourning; and Lady
Annabel and Dr. Masham were obliged, in consequence, to go the next
morning to Southport; but they delayed their departure until the
arrival of Venetia, that Cadurcis might not be left alone.
The meeting between himself and Venetia was a very sad one, and yet
her companionship was a great solace. Venetia urged every topic that
she fancied could reassure his spirits, and upon the happy home he
would find at Cherbury.
'Ah!' said Cadurcis, 'they will not leave me here; I am sure of that.
I think our happy days are over, Venetia.'
What mourner has not felt the magic of time? Before the funeral could
take place, Cadurcis had recovered somewhat of his usual cheerfulness,
and would indulge with Venetia in plans of their future life. And
living, as they all were, under the same roof, sharing the same
sorrows, participating in the same cares, and all about to wear the
same mournful emblems of their domestic calamity, it was difficult for
him to believe that he was indeed that desolate being he had at first
correctly estimated himself. Here were true friends, if such could
exist; here were fine sympathies, pure affections, innocent and
disinterested hearts! Every domestic tie yet remained perfect, except
the spell-bound tie of blood. That wanting, all was a bright and happy
vision, that might vanish in an instant, and for ever; that perfect,
even the least graceful, the most repulsive home, had its irresistible
charms; and its loss, when once experienced, might be mourned for
ever, and could never be restored.
After the funeral of Mrs. Cadurcis, the family returned to Cherbury
with Plantagenet, who was hereafter to consider it his home. All that
the most tender solicitude could devise to reconcile him to the change
in his life was fulfilled by Lady Annabel and her daughter, and, under
their benignant influence, he soon regained his usual demeanour. His
days were now spent as in the earlier period of their acquaintance,
with the exception of those painful returns to home, which had once
been a source to him of so much gloom and unhappiness. He pursued his
studies as of old, and shared the amusements of Venetia. His allotted
room was ornamented by her drawings, and in the evenings they read
aloud by turns to Lady Annabel the volume which she selected. The
abbey he never visited again after his mother's funeral.
Some weeks had passed in this quiet and contented manner, when one
day Doctor Masham, who, since the death of his mother, had been
in correspondence with his guardian, received a letter from that
nobleman, to announce that he had made arrangements for sending his
ward to Eton, and to request that he would accordingly instantly
proceed to the metropolis. This announcement occasioned both Cadurcis
and Venetia poignant affliction. The idea of separation was to both
of them most painful; and although Lady Annabel herself was in
some degree prepared for an arrangement, which sooner or later she
considered inevitable, she was herself scarcely less distressed.
The good Doctor, in some degree to break the bitterness of parting,
proposed accompanying Plantagenet to London, and himself personally
delivering the charge, in whose welfare they were so much interested,
to his guardian. Nevertheless, it was a very sad affair, and the week
which was to intervene before his departure found both himself and
Venetia often in tears. They no longer took any delight in their
mutual studies but passed the day walking about and visiting old
haunts, and endeavouring to console each other for what they both
deemed a great calamity, and which was indeed, the only serious
misfortune Venetia had herself experienced in the whole course of her
'But if I were really your brother,' said Plantagenet, 'I must have
quitted you the same, Venetia. Boys always go to school; and then we
shall be so happy when I return.'
'Oh! but we are so happy now, Plantagenet. I cannot believe that we
are going to part. And are you sure that you will return? Perhaps your
guardian will not let you, and will wish you to spend your holidays at
his house. His house will be your home now.'
It was impossible for a moment to forget the sorrow that was impending
over them. There were so many preparations to be made for his
departure, that every instant something occurred to remind them of
their sorrow. Venetia sat with tears in her eyes marking his new
pocket-handkerchiefs which they had all gone to Southport to purchase,
for Plantagenet asked, as a particular favour, that no one should mark
them but Venetia. Then Lady Annabel gave Plantagenet a writing-case,
and Venetia filled it with pens and paper, that he might never want
means to communicate with them; and her evenings were passed in
working him a purse, which Lady Annabel took care should be well
stocked. All day long there seemed something going on to remind them
of what was about to happen; and as for Pauncefort, she flounced in
and out the room fifty times a day, with 'What is to be done about my
lord's shirts, my lady? I think his lordship had better have another
dozen, your la'ship. Better too much than too little, I always say;'
or, 'O! my lady, your la'ship cannot form an idea of what a state my
lord's stockings are in, my lady. I think I had better go over to
Southport with John, my lady, and buy him some;' or, 'Please, my lady,
did I understand your la'ship spoke to the tailor on Thursday about
my lord's things? I suppose your la'ship knows my lord has got no
Every one of these inquiries made Venetia's heart tremble. Then there
was the sad habit of dating every coming day by its distance from
the fatal one. There was the last day but four, and the last day
but three, and the last day but two. The last day but one at length
arrived; and at length, too, though it seemed incredible, the last day
Plantagenet and Venetia both rose very early, that they might make it
as long as possible. They sighed involuntarily when they met, and then
they went about to pay last visits to every creature and object of
which they had been so long fond. Plantagenet went to bid farewell
to the horses and adieu to the cows, and then walked down to the
woodman's cottage, and then to shake hands with the keeper. He would
not say 'Good-bye' to the household until the very last moment; and as
for Marmion, the bloodhound, he accompanied both of them so faithfully
in this melancholy ramble, and kept so close to both, that it was
useless to break the sad intelligence to him yet.
'I think now, Venetia, we have been to see everything,' said
Plantagenet, 'I shall see the peacocks at breakfast time. I wish Eton
was near Cherbury, and then I could come home on Sunday. I cannot bear
going to Cadurcis again, but I should like you to go once a week, and
try to keep up our garden, and look after everything, though there is
not much that will not take care of itself, except the garden. We made
that together, and I could not bear its being neglected.'
Venetia could not assure him that no wish of his should be neglected,
because she was weeping.
'I am glad the Doctor,' he continued, 'is going to take me to town.
I should be very wretched by myself. But he will put me in mind of
Cherbury, and we can talk together of Lady Annabel and you. Hark! the
bell rings; we must go to breakfast, the last breakfast but one.'
Lady Annabel endeavoured, by unusual good spirits, to cheer up her
little friends. She spoke of Plantagenet's speedy return so much as a
matter of course, and the pleasant things they were to do when he came
back, that she really succeeded in exciting a smile in Venetia's April
face, for she was smiling amid tears.
Although it was the last day, time hung heavily on their hands. After
breakfast they went over the house together; and Cadurcis, half with
genuine feeling, and half in a spirit of mockery of their sorrow, made
a speech to the inanimate walls, as if they were aware of his intended
departure. At length, in their progress, they passed the door of the
closed apartments, and here, holding Venetia's hand, he stopped, and,
with an expression of irresistible humour, making a low bow to them,
he said, very gravely, 'And good-bye rooms that I have never entered;
perhaps, before I come back, Venetia will find out what is locked up
Dr. Masham arrived for dinner, and in a postchaise. The unusual
conveyance reminded them of the morrow very keenly. Venetia could not
bear to see the Doctor's portmanteau taken out and carried into the
hall. She had hopes, until then, that something would happen and
prevent all this misery. Cadurcis whispered her, 'I say, Venetia, do
not you wish this was winter?'
'Because then we might have a good snowstorm, and be blocked up again
for a week.'
Venetia looked at the sky, but not a cloud was to be seen.
The Doctor was glad to warm himself at the hall-fire, for it was a
fresh autumnal afternoon.
'Are you cold, sir?' said Venetia, approaching him.
'I am, my little maiden,' said the Doctor.
'Do you think there is any chance of its snowing, Doctor Masham?'
'Snowing! my little maiden; what can you be thinking of?'
The dinner was rather gayer than might have been expected. The Doctor
was jocular, Lady Annabel lively, and Plantagenet excited by an
extraordinary glass of wine. Venetia alone remained dispirited. The
Doctor made mock speeches and proposed toasts, and told Plantagenet
that he must learn to make speeches too, or what would he do when
he was in the House of Lords? And then Plantagenet tried to make a
speech, and proposed Venetia's health; and then Venetia, who could not
bear to hear herself praised by him on such a day, the last day, burst
into tears. Her mother called her to her side and consoled her, and
Plantagenet jumped up and wiped her eyes with one of those very
pocket-handkerchiefs on which she had embroidered his cipher and
coronet with her own beautiful hair. Towards evening Plantagenet began
to experience the reaction of his artificial spirits. The Doctor had
fallen into a gentle slumber, Lady Annabel had quitted the room,
Venetia sat with her hand in Plantagenet's on a stool by the fireside.
Both were sad and silent. At last Venetia said, 'O Plantagenet, I
wish I were your real sister! Perhaps, when I see you again, you will
forget this,' and she turned the jewel that was suspended round her
neck, and showed him the inscription.
'I am sure when I see you-again, Venetia,' he replied, 'the only
difference will be, that I shall love you more than ever.'
'I hope so,' said Venetia.
'I am sure of it. Now remember what we are talking about. When we meet
again, we shall see which of us two will love each other the most.'
'O Plantagenet, I hope they will be kind to you at Eton.'
'I will make them.'
'And, whenever you are the least unhappy, you will write to us?'
'I shall never be unhappy about anything but being away from you. As
for the rest, I will make people respect me; I know what I am.'
'Because if they do not behave well to you, mamma could ask Dr. Masham
to go and see you, and they will attend to him; and I would ask him
too. I wonder,' she continued after a moment's pause, 'if you have
everything you want. I am quite sure the instant you are gone, we
shall remember something you ought to have; and then I shall be quite
'I have got everything.'
'You said you wanted a large knife.'
'Yes! but I am going to buy one in London. Dr. Masham says he will
take me to a place where the finest knives in the world are to be
bought. It is a great thing to go to London with Dr. Masham.'
'I have never written your name in your Bible and Prayer-book. I will
do it this evening.'
'Lady Annabel is to write it in the Bible, and you are to write it in
'You are to write to us from London by Dr. Masham, if only a line.'
'I shall not fail.'
'Never mind about your handwriting; but mind you write.'
At this moment Lady Annabel's step was heard, and Plantagenet said,
'Give me a kiss, Venetia, for I do not mean to bid good-bye to-night.'
'But you will not go to-morrow before we are up?'
'Yes, we shall.'
'Now, Plantagenet, I shall be up to bid you good-bye, mind that'
Lady Annabel entered, the Doctor woke, lights followed, the servant
made up the fire, and the room looked cheerful again. After tea,
the names were duly written in the Bible and Prayer-book; the last
arrangements were made, all the baggage was brought down into the
hall, all ransacked their memory and fancy, to see if it were possible
that anything that Plantagenet could require was either forgotten
or had been omitted. The clock struck ten; Lady Annabel rose. The
travellers were to part at an early hour: she shook hands with Dr.
Masham, but Cadurcis was to bid her farewell in her dressing-room, and
then, with heavy hearts and glistening eyes, they all separated. And
thus ended the last day!
Venetia passed a restless night. She was so resolved to be awake in
time for Plantagenet's departure, that she could not sleep; and at
length, towards morning, fell, from exhaustion, into a light slumber,
from which she sprang up convulsively, roused by the sound of the
wheels of the postchaise. She looked out of her window, and saw the
servant strapping on the portmanteaus. Shortly after this she heard
Plantagenet's step in the vestibule; he passed her room, and proceeded
to her mother's dressing-room, at the door of which she heard him
knock, and then there was silence.
'You are in good time,' said Lady Annabel, who was seated in an easy
chair when Plantagenet entered her room. 'Is the Doctor up?'
'He is breakfasting.'
'And have you breakfasted?'
'I have no appetite.'
'You should take something, my child, before you go. Now, come hither,
my dear Plantagenet,' she said, extending her hand; 'listen to me, one
word. When you arrive in London, you will go to your guardian's. He
is a great man, and I believe a very good one, and the law and your
father's will have placed him in the position of a parent to you. You
must therefore love, honour, and obey him; and I doubt not he will
deserve all your affection, respect, and duty. Whatever he desires or
counsels you will perform, and follow. So long as you act according to
his wishes, you cannot be wrong. But, my dear Plantagenet, if by any
chance it ever happens, for strange things sometimes happen in this
world, that you are in trouble and require a friend, remember that
Cherbury is also your home; the home of your heart, if not of the law;
and that not merely from my own love for you, but because I promised
your poor mother on her death-bed, I esteem myself morally, although
not legally, in the light of a parent to you. You will find Eton a
great change; you will experience many trials and temptations; but you
will triumph over and withstand them all, if you will attend to these
few directions. Fear God; morning and night let nothing induce you
ever to omit your prayers to Him; you will find that praying will
make you happy. Obey your superiors; always treat your masters with
respect. Ever speak the truth. So long as you adhere to this rule,
you never can be involved in any serious misfortune. A deviation from
truth is, in general, the foundation of all misery. Be kind to your
companions, but be firm. Do not be laughed into doing that which you
know to be wrong. Be modest and humble, but ever respect yourself.
Remember who you are, and also that it is your duty to excel.
Providence has given you a great lot. Think ever that you are born to
perform great duties.
'God bless you, Plantagenet!' she continued, after a slight pause,
with a faltering voice, 'God bless you, my sweet child. And God will
bless you if you remember Him. Try also to remember us,' she added, as
she embraced him, and placed in his hand Venetia's well-lined purse.
'Do not forget Cherbury and all it contains; hearts that love you
dearly, and will pray ever for your welfare.'
Plantagenet leant upon her bosom. He had entered the room resolved to
be composed, with an air even of cheerfulness, but his tender heart
yielded to the first appeal to his affections. He could only murmur
out some broken syllables of devotion, and almost unconsciously found
that he had quitted the chamber.
With streaming eyes and hesitating steps he was proceeding along the
vestibule, when he heard his name called by a low sweet voice. He
looked around; it was Venetia. Never had he beheld such a beautiful
vision. She was muffled up in her dressing-gown, her small white feet
only guarded from the cold by her slippers. Her golden hair seemed to
reach her waist, her cheek was flushed, her large blue eyes glittered
'Plantagenet,' she said--
Neither of them could speak. They embraced, they mingled their tears
together, and every instant they wept more plenteously. At length a
footstep was heard; Venetia murmured a blessing, and vanished.
Cadurcis lingered on the stairs a moment to compose himself. He wiped
his eyes; he tried to look undisturbed. All the servants were in the
hall; from Mistress Pauncefort to the scullion there was not a dry
eye. All loved the little lord, he was so gracious and so gentle.
Every one asked leave to touch his hand before he went. He tried to
smile and say something kind to all. He recognised the gamekeeper,
and told him to do what he liked at Cadurcis; said something to the
coachman about his pony; and begged Mistress Pauncefort, quite aloud,
to take great care of her young mistress. As he was speaking, he
felt something rubbing against his hand: it was Marmion, the old
bloodhound. He also came to bid his adieus. Cadurcis patted him with
affection, and said, 'Ah! my old fellow, we shall yet meet again.'
The Doctor appeared, smiling as usual, made his inquiries whether all
were right, nodded to the weeping household, called Plantagenet his
brave boy, and patted him on the back, and bade him jump into the
chaise. Another moment, and Dr. Masham had also entered; the door was
closed, the fatal 'All right' sung out, and Lord Cadurcis was whirled
away from that Cherbury where he was so loved.
Life is not dated merely by years. Events are sometimes the best
calendars. There are epochs in our existence which cannot be
ascertained by a formal appeal to the registry. The arrival of the
Cadurcis family at their old abbey, their consequent intimacy at
Cherbury, the death of the mother, and the departure of the son: these
were events which had been crowded into a space of less than two
years; but those two years were not only the most eventful in the life
of Venetia Herbert, but in their influence upon the development of her
mind, and the formation of her character, far exceeded the effects of
all her previous existence.
Venetia once more found herself with no companion but her mother,
but in vain she attempted to recall the feelings she had before
experienced under such circumstances, and to revert to the resources
she had before commanded. No longer could she wander in imaginary
kingdoms, or transform the limited world of her experience into a
boundless region of enchanted amusement. Her play-pleasure hours were
fled for ever. She sighed for her faithful and sympathising companion.
The empire of fancy yielded without a struggle to the conquering sway
For the first few weeks Venetia was restless and dispirited, and when
she was alone she often wept. A mysterious instinct prompted her,
however, not to exhibit such emotion before her mother. Yet she loved
to hear Lady Annabel talk of Plantagenet, and a visit to the abbey was
ever her favourite walk. Sometimes, too, a letter arrived from Lord
Cadurcis, and this was great joy; but such communications were rare.
Nothing is more difficult than for a junior boy at a public school to
maintain a correspondence; yet his letters were most affectionate,
and always dwelt upon the prospect of his return. The period for this
hoped-for return at length arrived, but it brought no Plantagenet.
His guardian wished that the holidays should be spent under his roof.
Still at intervals Cadurcis wrote to Cherbury, to which, as time flew
on, it seemed destined he never was to return. Vacation followed
vacation, alike passed with his guardian, either in London, or at
a country seat still more remote from Cherbury, until at length it
became so much a matter of course that his guardian's house should
be esteemed his home, that Plantagenet ceased to allude even to the
prospect of return. In time his letters became rarer and rarer, until,
at length, they altogether ceased. Meanwhile Venetia had overcome the
original pang of separation; if not as gay as in old days, she was
serene and very studious; delighting less in her flowers and birds,
but much more in her books, and pursuing her studies with an
earnestness and assiduity which her mother was rather fain to check
than to encourage. Venetia Herbert, indeed, promised to become a most
accomplished woman. She had a fine ear for music, a ready tongue for
languages; already she emulated her mother's skill in the arts; while
the library of Cherbury afforded welcome and inexhaustible resources
to a girl whose genius deserved the richest and most sedulous
cultivation, and whose peculiar situation, independent of her studious
predisposition, rendered reading a pastime to her rather than a
task. Lady Annabel watched the progress of her daughter with lively
interest, and spared no efforts to assist the formation of her
principles and her taste. That deep religious feeling which was the
characteristic of the mother had been carefully and early cherished
in the heart of the child, and in time the unrivalled writings of the
great divines of our Church became a principal portion of her reading.
Order, method, severe study, strict religious exercise, with no
amusement or relaxation but of the most simple and natural character,
and with a complete seclusion from society, altogether formed a
system, which, acting upon a singularly susceptible and gifted nature,
secured the promise in Venetia Herbert, at fourteen years of age, of
an extraordinary woman; a system, however, against which her lively
and somewhat restless mind might probably have rebelled, had not
that system been so thoroughly imbued with all the melting spell of
maternal affection. It was the inspiration of this sacred love that
hovered like a guardian angel over the life of Venetia. It roused her
from her morning slumbers with an embrace, it sanctified her evening
pillow with a blessing; it anticipated the difficulty of the student's