Part 3 out of 15
In Venus' lawns by lovers' hands be sown?
"Nay, gentlest Cupid; 'twas my pride undid me.
Nay, guiltless dove; by mine own wound I fell.
To worship, not to wed, Celestials bid me:
I dreamt to mate in heaven, and wake in hell;
Forever doom'd, Ixion-like, to reel
On mine own passions' ever-burning wheel."
At which the simple sailor sighed, and longed that he could write
such neat verses, and sing them so sweetly. How he would besiege
the ear of Rose Salterne with amorous ditties! But still, he could
not be everything; and if he had the bone and muscle of the family,
it was but fair that Frank should have the brains and voice; and,
after all, he was bone of his bone and flesh of his flesh, and it
was just the same as if he himself could do all the fine things
which Frank could do; for as long as one of the family won honor,
what matter which of them it was? Whereon he shouted through the
wall, "Good night, old song-thrush; I suppose I need not pay the
"What, awake?" answered Frank. "Come in here, and lull me to sleep
with a sea-song."
So Amyas went in, and found Frank laid on the outside of his bed
not yet undrest.
"I am a bad sleeper," said he; "I spend more time, I fear, in
burning the midnight oil than prudent men should. Come and be my
jongleur, my minnesinger, and tell me about Andes, and cannibals,
and the ice-regions, and the fire-regions, and the paradises of the
So Amyas sat down, and told: but somehow, every story which he
tried to tell came round, by crooked paths, yet sure, to none other
point than Rose Salterne, and how he thought of her here and
thought of her there, and how he wondered what she would say if she
had seen him in this adventure, and how he longed to have had her
with him to show her that glorious sight, till Frank let him have
his own way, and then out came the whole story of the simple
fellow's daily and hourly devotion to her, through those three long
years of world-wide wanderings.
"And oh, Frank, I could hardly think of anything but her in the
church the other day, God forgive me! and it did seem so hard for
her to be the only face which I did not see--and have not seen her
"So I thought, dear lad," said Frank, with one of his sweetest
smiles; "and tried to get her father to let her impersonate the
nymph of Torridge."
"Did you, you dear kind fellow? That would have been too
"Just so, too delicious; wherefore, I suppose, it was ordained not
to be, that which was being delicious enough."
"And is she as pretty as ever?"
"Ten times as pretty, dear lad, as half the young fellows round
have discovered. If you mean to win her and wear her (and God
grant you may fare no worse!) you will have rivals enough to get
"Humph!" said Amyas, "I hope I shall not have to make short work
with some of them."
"I hope not," said Frank, laughing. "Now go to bed, and to-morrow
morning give your sword to mother to keep, lest you should be
tempted to draw it on any of her majesty's lieges."
"No fear of that, Frank; I am no swash-buckler, thank God; but if
any one gets in my way, I'll serve him as the mastiff did the
terrier, and just drop him over the quay into the river, to cool
himself, or my name's not Amyas."
And the giant swung himself laughing out of the room, and slept all
night like a seal, not without dreams, of course, of Rose Salterne.
The next morning, according to his wont, he went into his mother's
room, whom he was sure to find up and at her prayers; for he liked
to say his prayers, too, by her side, as he used to do when he was
a little boy. It seemed so homelike, he said, after three years'
knocking up and down in no-man's land. But coming gently to the
door, for fear of disturbing her, and entering unperceived, beheld
a sight which stopped him short.
Mrs. Leigh was sitting in her chair, with her face bowed fondly
down upon the head of his brother Frank, who knelt before her, his
face buried in her lap. Amyas could see that his whole form was
quivering with stifled emotion. Their mother was just finishing
the last words of a well-known text,--"for my sake, and the
Gospel's, shall receive a hundred-fold in this present life,
fathers, and mothers, and brothers, and sisters."
"But not a wife!" interrupted Frank, with a voice stifled with
sobs; "that was too precious a gift for even Him to promise to
those who gave up a first love for His sake!"
"And yet," said he, after a moment's silence, "has He not heaped me
with blessings enough already, that I must repine and rage at His
refusing me one more, even though that one be--No, mother! I am
your son, and God's; and you shall know it, even though Amyas never
does!" And he looked up with his clear blue eyes and white
forehead; and his face was as the face of an angel.
Both of them saw that Amyas was present, and started and blushed.
His mother motioned him away with her eyes, and he went quietly
out, as one stunned. Why had his name been mentioned?
Love, cunning love, told him all at once. This was the meaning of
last night's canzonet! This was why its words had seemed to fit
his own heart so well! His brother was his rival. And he had been
telling him all his love last night. What a stupid brute he was!
How it must have made poor Frank wince! And then Frank had
listened so kindly; even bid him God speed in his suit. What a
gentleman old Frank was, to be sure! No wonder the queen was so
fond of him, and all the Court ladies!--Why, if it came to that,
what wonder if Rose Salterne should be fond of him too? Hey-day!
"That would be a pretty fish to find in my net when I come to haul
it!" quoth Amyas to himself, as he paced the garden; and clutching
desperately hold of his locks with both hands, as if to hold his
poor confused head on its shoulders, he strode and tramped up and
down the shell-paved garden walks for a full half hour, till
Frank's voice (as cheerful as ever, though he more than suspected
all) called him.
"Come in to breakfast, lad; and stop grinding and creaking upon
those miserable limpets, before thou hast set every tooth in my
head on edge!"
Amyas, whether by dint of holding his head straight, or by higher
means, had got the thoughts of the said head straight enough by
this time; and in he came, and fell to upon the broiled fish and
strong ale, with a sort of fury, as determined to do his duty to
the utmost in all matters that day, and therefore, of course, in
that most important matter of bodily sustenance; while his mother
and Frank looked at him, not without anxiety and even terror,
doubting what turn his fancy might have taken in so new a case; at
"My dear Amyas, you will really heat your blood with all that
strong ale! Remember, those who drink beer, think beer."
"Then they think right good thoughts, mother. And in the
meanwhile, those who drink water, think water. Eh, old Frank? and
here's your health."
"And clouds are water," said his mother, somewhat reassured by his
genuine good humor; "and so are rainbows; and clouds are angels'
thrones, and rainbows the sign of God's peace on earth."
Amyas understood the hint, and laughed. "Then I'll pledge Frank
out of the next ditch, if it please you and him. But first--I say--
he must hearken to a parable; a manner mystery, miracle play, I
have got in my head, like what they have at Easter, to the town-
hall. Now then, hearken, madam, and I and Frank will act." And up
rose Amyas, and shoved back his chair, and put on a solemn face.
Mrs. Leigh looked up, trembling; and Frank, he scarce knew why,
"No; you pitch again. You are King David, and sit still upon your
throne. David was a great singer, you know, and a player on the
viols; and ruddy, too, and of a fair countenance; so that will fit.
Now, then, mother, don't look so frightened. I am not going to
play Goliath, for all my cubits; I am to present Nathan the
prophet. Now, David, hearken, for I have a message unto thee, O
"There were two men in one city, one rich, and the other poor: and
the rich man had many flocks and herds, and all the fine ladies in
Whitehall to court if he liked; and the poor man had nothing but--"
And in spite of his broad honest smile, Amyas's deep voice began to
tremble and choke.
Frank sprang up, and burst into tears: "Oh! Amyas, my brother, my
brother! stop! I cannot endure this. Oh, God! was it not enough to
have entangled myself in this fatal fancy, but over and above, I
must meet the shame of my brother's discovering it?"
"What shame, then, I'd like to know?" said Amyas, recovering
himself. "Look here, brother Frank! I've thought it all over in
the garden; and I was an ass and a braggart for talking to you as I
did last night. Of course you love her! Everybody must; and I was
a fool for not recollecting that; and if you love her, your taste
and mine agree, and what can be better? I think you are a sensible
fellow for loving her, and you think me one. And as for who has
her, why, you're the eldest; and first come first served is the
rule, and best to keep to it. Besides, brother Frank, though I'm
no scholar, yet I'm not so blind but that I tell the difference
between you and me; and of course your chance against mine, for a
hundred to one; and I am not going to be fool enough to row against
wind and tide too. I'm good enough for her, I hope; but if I am,
you are better, and the good dog may run, but it's the best that
takes the hare; and so I have nothing more to do with the matter at
all; and if you marry her, why, it will set the old house on its
legs again, and that's the first thing to be thought of, and you
may just as well do it as I, and better too. Not but that it's a
plague, a horrible plague!" went on Amyas, with a ludicrously
doleful visage; "but so are other things too, by the dozen; it's
all in the day's work, as the huntsman said when the lion ate him.
One would never get through the furze-croft if one stopped to pull
out the prickles. The pig didn't scramble out of the ditch by
squeaking; and the less said the sooner mended; nobody was sent
into the world only to suck honey-pots. What must be must, man is
but dust; if you can't get crumb, you must fain eat crust. So I'll
go and join the army in Ireland, and get it out of my head, for
cannon balls fright away love as well as poverty does; and that's
all I've got to say." Wherewith Amyas sat down, and returned to
the beer; while Mrs. Leigh wept tears of joy.
"Amyas! Amyas!" said Frank; "you must not throw away the hopes of
years, and for me, too! Oh, how just was your parable! Ah! mother
mine! to what use is all my scholarship and my philosophy, when
this dear simple sailor-lad outdoes me at the first trial of
"My children, my children, which of you shall I love best? Which
of you is the more noble? I thanked God this morning for having
given me one such son; but to have found that I possess two!" And
Mrs. Leigh laid her head on the table, and buried her face in her
hands, while the generous battle went on.
"But, dearest Amyas!--"
"But, Frank! if you don't hold your tongue, I must go forth. It
was quite trouble enough to make up one's mind, without having you
afterwards trying to unmake it again."
"Amyas! if you give her up to me, God do so to me, and more also,
if I do not hereby give her up to you!"
"He had done it already--this morning!" said Mrs. Leigh, looking up
through her tears. "He renounced her forever on his knees before
me! only he is too noble to tell you so."
"The more reason I should copy him," said Amyas, setting his lips,
and trying to look desperately determined, and then suddenly
jumping up, he leaped upon Frank, and throwing his arms round his
neck, sobbed out, "There, there, now! For God's sake, let us
forget all, and think about our mother, and the old house, and how
we may win her honor before we die! and that will be enough to keep
our hands full, without fretting about this woman and that.--What
an ass I have been for years! instead of learning my calling,
dreaming about her, and don't know at this minute whether she cares
more for me than she does for her father's 'prentices!"
"Oh, Amyas! every word of yours puts me to fresh shame! Will you
believe that I know as little of her likings as you do?"
"Don't tell me that, and play the devil's game by putting fresh
hopes into me, when I am trying to kick them out. I won't believe
it. If she is not a fool, she must love you; and if she don't,
why, be hanged if she is worth loving!"
"My dearest Amyas! I must ask you too to make no more such
speeches to me. All those thoughts I have forsworn."
"Only this morning; so there is time to catch them again before
they are gone too far."
"Only this morning," said Frank, with a quiet smile: "but centuries
have passed since then."
"Centuries? I don't see many gray hairs yet."
"I should not have been surprised if you had, though," answered
Frank, in so sad and meaning a tone that Amyas could only answer--
"Well, you are an angel!"
"You, at least, are something even more to the purpose, for you are
And both spoke truth, and so the battle ended; and Frank went to
his books, while Amyas, who must needs be doing, if he was not to
dream, started off to the dockyard to potter about a new ship of
Sir Richard's, and forget his woes, in the capacity of Sir Oracle
among the sailors. And so he had played his move for Rose, even as
Eustace had, and lost her: but not as Eustace had.
CLOVELLY COURT IN THE OLDEN TIME
"It was among the ways of good Queen Bess,
Who ruled as well as ever mortal can, sir,
When she was stogg'd, and the country in a mess,
She was wont to send for a Devon man, sir."
West Country Song.
The next morning Amyas Leigh was not to be found. Not that he had
gone out to drown himself in despair, or even to bemoan himself
"down by the Torridge side." He had simply ridden off, Frank
found, to Sir Richard Grenville at Stow: his mother at once divined
the truth, that he was gone to try for a post in the Irish army,
and sent off Frank after him to bring him home again, and make him
at least reconsider himself.
So Frank took horse and rode thereon ten miles or more: and then,
as there were no inns on the road in those days, or indeed in
these, and he had some ten miles more of hilly road before him, he
turned down the hill towards Clovelly Court, to obtain, after the
hospitable humane fashion of those days, good entertainment for man
and horse from Mr. Cary the squire.
And when he walked self-invited, like the loud-shouting Menelaus,
into the long dark wainscoted hall of the court, the first object
he beheld was the mighty form of Amyas, who, seated at the long
table, was alternately burying his face in a pasty, and the pasty
in his face, his sorrows having, as it seemed, only sharpened his
appetite, while young Will Cary, kneeling on the opposite bench,
with his elbows on the table, was in that graceful attitude laying
down the law fiercely to him in a low voice.
"Hillo! lad," cried Amyas; "come hither and deliver me out of the
hands of this fire-eater, who I verily believe will kill me, if I
do not let him kill some one else."
"Ah! Mr. Frank," said Will Cary, who, like all other young
gentlemen of these parts, held Frank in high honor, and considered
him a very oracle and cynosure of fashion and chivalry, "welcome
here: I was just longing for you, too; I wanted your advice on
half-a-dozen matters. Sit down, and eat. There is the ale."
"None so early, thank you."
"Ah no!" said Amyas, burying his head in the tankard, and then
mimicking Frank, "avoid strong ale o' mornings. It heats the
blood, thickens the animal spirits, and obfuscates the cerebrum
with frenetical and lymphatic idols, which cloud the quintessential
light of the pure reason. Eh? young Plato, young Daniel, come
hither to judgment! And yet, though I cannot see through the
bottom of the tankard already, I can see plain enough still to see
this, that Will shall not fight."
"Shall I not, eh? who says that? Mr. Frank, I appeal to you, now;
"We are in the judgment-seat," said Frank, settling to the pasty.
"Well, I was telling Amyas, that Tom Coffin, of Portledge; I will
stand him no longer."
"Let him be, then," said Amyas; "he could stand very well by
himself, when I saw him last."
"Plague on you, hold your tongue. Has he any right to look at me
as he does, whenever I pass him?"
"That depends on how he looks; a cat may look at a king, provided
she don't take him for a mouse."
"Oh, I know how he looks, and what he means too, and he shall stop,
or I will stop him. And the other day, when I spoke of Rose
Salterne"--"Ah!" groaned Frank, "Ate's apple again!"--"(never mind
what I said) he burst out laughing in my face; and is not that a
fair quarrel? And what is more, I know that he wrote a sonnet, and
sent it to her to Stow by a market woman. What right has he to
write sonnets when I can't? It's not fair play, Mr. Frank, or I am
a Jew, and a Spaniard, and a Papist; it's not!" And Will smote the
table till the plates danced again.
"My dear knight of the burning pestle, I have a plan, a device, a
disentanglement, according to most approved rules of chivalry. Let
us fix a day, and summon by tuck of drum all young gentlemen under
the age of thirty, dwelling within fifteen miles of the habitation
of that peerless Oriana."
"And all 'prentice-boys too," cried Amyas, out of the pasty.
"And all 'prentice-boys. The bold lads shall fight first, with
good quarterstaves, in Bideford Market, till all heads are broken;
and the head which is not broken, let the back belonging to it pay
the penalty of the noble member's cowardice. After which grand
tournament, to which that of Tottenham shall be but a flea-bite and
"Confound you, and your long words, sir," said poor Will, "I know
you are flouting me."
"Pazienza, Signor Cavaliere; that which is to come is no flouting,
but bloody and warlike earnest. For afterwards all the young
gentlemen shall adjourn into a convenient field, sand, or bog--
which last will be better, as no man will be able to run away, if
he be up to his knees in soft peat: and there stripping to our
shirts, with rapiers of equal length and keenest temper, each shall
slay his man, catch who catch can, and the conquerors fight again,
like a most valiant main of gamecocks as we are, till all be dead,
and out of their woes; after which the survivor, bewailing before
heaven and earth the cruelty of our Fair Oriana, and the slaughter
which her basiliscine eyes have caused, shall fall gracefully upon
his sword, and so end the woes of this our lovelorn generation.
Placetne Domini? as they used to ask in the Senate at Oxford."
"Really," said Cary, "this is too bad."
"So is, pardon me, your fighting Mr. Coffin with anything longer
than a bodkin."
"Bodkins are too short for such fierce Bobadils," said Amyas; "they
would close in so near, that we should have them falling to
fisticuffs after the first bout."
"Then let them fight with squirts across the market-place; for by
heaven and the queen's laws, they shall fight with nothing else."
"My dear Mr. Cary," went on Frank, suddenly changing his bantering
tone to one of the most winning sweetness, "do not fancy that I
cannot feel for you, or that I, as well as you, have not known the
stings of love and the bitterer stings of jealousy. But oh, Mr.
Cary, does it not seem to you an awful thing to waste selfishly
upon your own quarrel that divine wrath which, as Plato says, is
the very root of all virtues, and which has been given you, like
all else which you have, that you may spend it in the service of
her whom all bad souls fear, and all virtuous souls adore,--our
peerless queen? Who dares, while she rules England, call his sword
or his courage his own, or any one's but hers? Are there no
Spaniards to conquer, no wild Irish to deliver from their
oppressors, that two gentlemen of Devon can find no better place to
flesh their blades than in each other's valiant and honorable
"By heaven!" cried Amyas, "Frank speaks like a book; and for me, I
do think that Christian gentlemen may leave love quarrels to bulls
"And that the heir of Clovelly," said Frank, smiling, "may find
more noble examples to copy than the stags in his own deer-park."
"Well," said Will, penitently, "you are a great scholar, Mr. Frank,
and you speak like one; but gentlemen must fight sometimes, or
where would be their honor?"
"I speak," said Frank, a little proudly, "not merely as a scholar,
but as a gentleman, and one who has fought ere now, and to whom it
has happened, Mr. Cary, to kill his man (on whose soul may God have
mercy); but it is my pride to remember that I have never yet fought
in my own quarrel, and my trust in God that I never shall. For as
there is nothing more noble and blessed than to fight in behalf of
those whom we love, so to fight in our own private behalf is a
thing not to be allowed to a Christian man, unless refusal imports
utter loss of life or honor; and even then, it may be (though I
would not lay a burden on any man's conscience), it is better not
to resist evil, but to overcome it with good."
"And I can tell you, Will," said Amyas, "I am not troubled with
fear of ghosts; but when I cut off the Frenchman's head, I said to
myself, 'If that braggart had been slandering me instead of her
gracious majesty, I should expect to see that head lying on my
pillow every time I went to bed at night.'"
"God forbid!" said Will, with a shudder. "But what shall I do? for
to the market tomorrow I will go, if it were choke-full of Coffins,
and a ghost in each coffin of the lot."
"Leave the matter to me," said Amyas. "I have my device, as well
as scholar Frank here; and if there be, as I suppose there must be,
a quarrel in the market to-morrow, see if I do not--"
"Well, you are two good fellows," said Will. "Let us have another
"And drink the health of Mr. Coffin, and all gallant lads of the
North," said Frank; "and now to my business. I have to take this
runaway youth here home to his mother; and if he will not go
quietly, I have orders to carry him across my saddle."
"I hope your nag has a strong back, then," said Amyas; "but I must
go on and see Sir Richard, Frank. It is all very well to jest as
we have been doing, but my mind is made up."
"Stop," said Cary. "You must stay here tonight; first, for good
fellowship's sake; and next, because I want the advice of our
Phoenix here, our oracle, our paragon. There, Mr. Frank, can you
construe that for me? Speak low, though, gentlemen both; there
comes my father; you had better give me the letter again. Well,
father, whence this morning?"
"Eh, company here? Young men, you are always welcome, and such as
you. Would there were more of your sort in these dirty times! How
is your good mother, Frank, eh? Where have I been, Will? Round
the house-farm, to look at the beeves. That sheeted heifer of
Prowse's is all wrong; her coat stares like a hedgepig's. Tell
Jewell to go up and bring her in before night. And then up the
forty acres; sprang two coveys, and picked a leash out of them.
The Irish hawk flies as wild as any haggard still, and will never
make a bird. I had to hand her to Tom, and take the little
peregrine. Give me a Clovelly hawk against the world, after all;
and--heigh ho, I am very hungry! Half-past twelve, and dinner not
served? What, Master Amyas, spoiling your appetite with strong
ale? Better have tried sack, lad; have some now with me."
And the worthy old gentleman, having finished his oration, settled
himself on a great bench inside the chimney, and put his hawk on a
perch over his head, while his cockers coiled themselves up close
to the warm peat-ashes, and his son set to work to pull off his
father's boots, amid sundry warnings to take care of his corns.
"Come, Master Amyas, a pint of white wine and sugar, and a bit of a
shoeing-horn to it ere we dine. Some pickled prawns, now, or a
rasher off the coals, to whet you?"
"Thank you," quoth Amyas; "but I have drunk a mort of outlandish
liquors, better and worse, in the last three years, and yet never
found aught to come up to good ale, which needs neither shoeing-
horn before nor after, but takes care of itself, and of all honest
stomachs too, I think."
"You speak like a book, boy," said old Cary; "and after all, what a
plague comes of these newfangled hot wines, and aqua vitaes, which
have come in since the wars, but maddening of the brains, and fever
of the blood?"
"I fear we have not seen the end of that yet," said Frank. "My
friends write me from the Netherlands that our men are falling into
a swinish trick of swilling like the Hollanders. Heaven grant that
they may not bring home the fashion with them."
"A man must drink, they say, or die of the ague, in those vile
swamps," said Amyas. "When they get home here, they will not need
"Heaven grant it," said Frank; "I should be sorry to see Devonshire
a drunken county; and there are many of our men out there with Mr.
"Ah," said Cary, "there, as in Ireland, we are proving her
majesty's saying true, that Devonshire is her right hand, and the
young children thereof like the arrows in the hand of the giant."
"They may well be," said his son, "when some of them are giants
themselves, like my tall school-fellow opposite."
"He will be up and doing again presently, I'll warrant him," said
"And that I shall," quoth Amyas. "I have been devising brave
deeds; and see in the distance enchanters to be bound, dragons
choked, empires conquered, though not in Holland."
"You do?" asked Will, a little sharply; for he had had a half
suspicion that more was meant than met the ear.
"Yes," said Amyas, turning off his jest again, "I go to what
Raleigh calls the Land of the Nymphs. Another month, I hope, will
see me abroad in Ireland."
"Abroad? Call it rather at home," said old Cary; "for it is full
of Devon men from end to end, and you will be among friends all day
long. George Bourchier from Tawstock has the army now in Munster,
and Warham St. Leger is marshal; George Carew is with Lord Grey of
Wilton (Poor Peter Carew was killed at Glendalough); and after the
defeat last year, when that villain Desmond cut off Herbert and
Price, the companies were made up with six hundred Devon men, and
Arthur Fortescue at their head; so that the old county holds her
head as proudly in the Land of Ire as she does in the Low Countries
and the Spanish Main."
"And where," asked Amyas, "is Davils of Marsland, who used to teach
me how to catch trout, when I was staying down at Stow? He is in
Ireland, too, is he not?"
"Ah, my lad," said Mr. Cary, "that is a sad story. I thought all
England had known it."
"You forget, sir, I am a stranger. Surely he is not dead?"
"Murdered foully, lad! Murdered like a dog, and by the man whom he
had treated as his son, and who pretended, the false knave! to call
"His blood is avenged?" said Amyas, fiercely.
"No, by heaven, not yet! Stay, don't cry out again. I am getting
old--I must tell my story my own way. It was last July,--was it
not, Will?--Over comes to Ireland Saunders, one of those Jesuit
foxes, as the Pope's legate, with money and bulls, and a banner
hallowed by the Pope, and the devil knows what beside; and with him
James Fitzmaurice, the same fellow who had sworn on his knees to
Perrott, in the church at Kilmallock, to be a true liegeman to
Queen Elizabeth, and confirmed it by all his saints, and such a
world of his Irish howling, that Perrott told me he was fain to
stop his own ears. Well, he had been practising with the King of
France, but got nothing but laughter for his pains, and so went
over to the Most Catholic King, and promises him to join Ireland to
Spain, and set up Popery again, and what not. And he, I suppose,
thinking it better that Ireland should belong to him than to the
Pope's bastard, fits him out, and sends him off on such another
errand as Stukely's,--though I will say, for the honor of Devon, if
Stukely lived like a fool, he died like an honest man."
"Sir Thomas Stukely dead too?" said Amyas.
"Wait a while, lad, and you shall have that tragedy afterwards.
Well, where was I? Oh, Fitzmaurice and the Jesuits land at
Smerwick, with three ships, choose a place for a fort, bless it
with their holy water, and their moppings and their scourings, and
the rest of it, to purify it from the stain of heretic dominion;
but in the meanwhile one of the Courtenays,--a Courtenay of
Haccombe, was it?--or a Courtenay of Boconnock? Silence, Will, I
shall have it in a minute--yes, a Courtenay of Haccombe it was,
lying at anchor near by, in a ship of war of his, cuts out the
three ships, and cuts off the Dons from the sea. John and James
Desmond, with some small rabble, go over to the Spaniards. Earl
Desmond will not join them, but will not fight them, and stands by
to take the winning side; and then in comes poor Davils, sent down
by the Lord Deputy to charge Desmond and his brothers, in the
queen's name, to assault the Spaniards. Folks say it was rash of
his lordship: but I say, what could be better done? Every one
knows that there never was a stouter or shrewder soldier than
Davils; and the young Desmonds, I have heard him say many a time,
used to look on him as their father. But he found out what it was
to trust Englishmen turned Irish. Well, the Desmonds found out on
a sudden that the Dons were such desperate Paladins, that it was
madness to meddle, though they were five to one; and poor Davils,
seeing that there was no fight in them, goes back for help, and
sleeps that night at some place called Tralee. Arthur Carter of
Bideford, St. Leger's lieutenant, as stout an old soldier as Davils
himself, sleeps in the same bed with him; the lacquey-boy, who is
now with Sir Richard at Stow, on the floor at their feet. But in
the dead of night, who should come in but James Desmond, sword in
hand, with a dozen of his ruffians at his heels, each with his glib
over his ugly face, and his skene in his hand. Davils springs up
in bed, and asks but this, 'What is the matter, my son?' whereon
the treacherous villain, without giving him time to say a prayer,
strikes at him, naked as he was, crying, 'Thou shalt be my father
no longer, nor I thy son! Thou shalt die!' and at that all the
rest fall on him. The poor little lad (so he says) leaps up to
cover his master with his naked body, gets three or four stabs of
skenes, and so falls for dead; with his master and Captain Carter,
who were dead indeed--God reward them! After that the ruffians
ransacked the house, till they had murdered every Englishman in it,
the lacquey-boy only excepted, who crawled out, wounded as he was,
through a window; while Desmond, if you will believe it, went back,
up to his elbows in blood, and vaunted his deeds to the Spaniards,
and asked them--'There! Will you take that as a pledge that I am
faithful to you?' And that, my lad, was the end of Henry Davils,
and will be of all who trust to the faith of wild savages."
"I would go a hundred miles to see that Desmond hanged!" said
Amyas, while great tears ran down his face. "Poor Mr. Davils! And
now, what is the story of Sir Thomas?"
"Your brother must tell you that, lad; I am somewhat out of
"And I have a right to tell it," said Frank, with a smile. "Do you
know that I was very near being Earl of the bog of Allen, and one
of the peers of the realm to King Buoncompagna, son and heir to his
holiness Pope Gregory the Thirteenth?"
"As I am a gentleman. When I was at Rome I saw poor Stukely often;
and this and more he offered me on the part (as he said) of the
Pope, if I would just oblige him in the two little matters of being
reconciled to the Catholic Church, and joining the invasion of
"Poor deluded heretic," said Will Cary, "to have lost an earldom
for your family by such silly scruples of loyalty!"
"It is not a matter for jesting, after all," said Frank; "but I saw
Sir Thomas often, and I cannot believe he was in his senses, so
frantic was his vanity and his ambition; and all the while, in
private matters as honorable a gentleman as ever. However, he
sailed at last for Ireland, with his eight hundred Spaniards and
Italians; and what is more, I know that the King of Spain paid
their charges. Marquis Vinola--James Buoncompagna, that is--stayed
quietly at Rome, preferring that Stukely should conquer his
paternal heritage of Ireland for him while he took care of the bona
robas at home. I went down to Civita Vecchia to see him off; and
though his younger by many years, I could not but take the liberty
of entreating him, as a gentleman and a man of Devon, to consider
his faith to his queen and the honor of his country. There were
high words between us; God forgive me if I spoke too fiercely, for
I never saw him again."
"Too fiercely to an open traitor, Frank? Why not have run him
"Nay, I had no clean life for Sundays, Amyas; so I could not throw
away my week-day one; and as for the weal of England, I knew that
it was little he would damage it, and told him so. And at that he
waxed utterly mad, for it touched his pride, and swore that if the
wind had not been fair for sailing, he would have fought me there
and then; to which I could only answer, that I was ready to meet
him when he would; and he parted from me, saying, 'It is a pity,
sir, I cannot fight you now; when next we meet, it will be beneath
my dignity to measure swords with you.'
"I suppose he expected to come back a prince at least--Heaven
knows; I owe him no ill-will, nor I hope does any man. He has paid
all debts now in full, and got his receipt for them."
"How did he die, then, after all?"
"On his voyage he touched in Portugal. King Sebastian was just
sailing for Africa with his new ally, Mohammed the Prince of Fez,
to help King Abdallah, and conquer what he could. He persuaded
Stukely to go with him. There were those who thought that he, as
well as the Spaniards, had no stomach for seeing the Pope's son
King of Ireland. Others used to say that he thought an island too
small for his ambition, and must needs conquer a continent--I know
not why it was, but he went. They had heavy weather in the
passage; and when they landed, many of their soldiers were sea-
sick. Stukely, reasonably enough, counselled that they should wait
two or three days and recruit; but Don Sebastian was so mad for the
assault that he must needs have his veni, vidi, vici; and so ended
with a veni, vidi, perii; for he Abdallah, and his son Mohammed,
all perished in the first battle at Alcasar; and Stukely,
surrounded and overpowered, fought till he could fight no more, and
then died like a hero with all his wounds in front; and may God
have mercy on his soul!"
"Ah!" said Amyas, "we heard of that battle off Lima, but nothing
about poor Stukely."
"That last was a Popish prayer, Master Frank," said old Mr. Cary.
"Most worshipful sir, you surely would not wish God not to have
mercy on his soul?"
"No--eh? Of course not: but that's all settled by now, for he is
dead, poor fellow."
"Certainly, my dear sir. And you cannot help being a little fond
of him still."
"Eh? why, I should be a brute if I were not. He and I were
schoolfellows, though he was somewhat the younger; and many a good
thrashing have I given him, and one cannot help having a tenderness
for a man after that. Beside, we used to hunt together in Exmoor,
and have royal nights afterward into Ilfracombe, when we were a
couple of mad young blades. Fond of him? Why, I would have sooner
given my forefinger than that he should have gone to the dogs
"Then, my dear sir, if you feel for him still, in spite of all his
faults, how do you know that God may not feel for him still, in
spite of all his faults? For my part," quoth Frank, in his
fanciful way, "without believing in that Popish Purgatory, I cannot
help holding with Plato, that such heroical souls, who have wanted
but little of true greatness, are hereafter by some strait
discipline brought to a better mind; perhaps, as many ancients have
held with the Indian Gymnosophists, by transmigration into the
bodies of those animals whom they have resembled in their passions;
and indeed, if Sir Thomas Stukely's soul should now animate the
body of a lion, all I can say is that he would be a very valiant
and royal lion; and also doubtless become in due time heartily
ashamed and penitent for having been nothing better than a lion."
"What now, Master Frank? I don't trouble my head with such
matters--I say Stukely was a right good-hearted fellow at bottom;
and if you plague my head with any of your dialectics, and
propositions, and college quips and quiddities, you sha'n't have
any more sack, sir. But here come the knaves, and I hear the cook
knock to dinner."
After a madrigal or two, and an Italian song of Master Frank's, all
which went sweetly enough, the ladies rose, and went. Whereon Will
Cary, drawing his chair close to Frank's, put quietly into his hand
a dirty letter.
"This was the letter left for me," whispered he, "by a country
fellow this morning. Look at it and tell me what I am to do."
Whereon Frank opened, and read--
"Mister Cary, be you wary
By deer park end to-night.
Yf Irish ffoxe com out of rocks
Grip and hold hym tight."
"I would have showed it my father," said Will, "but--"
"I verily believe it to be a blind. See now, this is the
handwriting of a man who has been trying to write vilely, and yet
cannot. Look at that B, and that G; their formae formativae never
were begotten in a hedge-school. And what is more, this is no
Devon man's handiwork. We say 'to' and not 'by,' Will, eh? in the
"And 'man,' instead of 'him'?"
"True, O Daniel! But am I to do nothing therefore?"
"On that matter I am no judge. Let us ask much-enduring Ulysses
here; perhaps he has not sailed round the world without bringing
home a device or two."
Whereon Amyas was called to counsel, as soon as Mr. Cary could be
stopped in a long cross-examination of him as to Mr. Doughty's
famous trial and execution.
Amyas pondered awhile, thrusting his hands into his long curls; and
"Will, my lad, have you been watching at the Deer Park End of
"At the town-beach."
"At the town-head."
"Why, the fellow is turned lawyer! Above Freshwater."
"Where is Freshwater?"
"Why, where the water-fall comes over the cliff, half-a-mile from
the town. There is a path there up into the forest."
"I know. I'll watch there to-night. Do you keep all your old
haunts safe, of course, and send a couple of stout knaves to the
mill, to watch the beach at the Deer Park End, on the chance; for
your poet may be a true man, after all. But my heart's faith is,
that this comes just to draw you off from some old beat of yours,
upon a wild-goose chase. If they shoot the miller by mistake, I
suppose it don't much matter?"
"'When a miller's knock'd on the head,
The less of flour makes the more of bread.'"
"Or, again," chimed in old Mr. Cary, "as they say in the North--
"'Find a miller that will not steal,
Or a webster that is leal,
Or a priest that is not greedy,
And lay them three a dead corpse by;
And by the virtue of them three,
The said dead corpse shall quicken'd be.'"
"But why are you so ready to watch Freshwater to-night, Master
"Because, sir, those who come, if they come, will never land at
Mouthmill; if they are strangers, they dare not; and if they are
bay's-men, they are too wise, as long as the westerly swell sets
in. As for landing at the town, that would be too great a risk;
but Freshwater is as lonely as the Bermudas; and they can beach a
boat up under the cliff at all tides, and in all weathers, except
north and nor'west. I have done it many a time, when I was a boy."
"And give us the fruit of your experience now in your old age, eh?
Well, you have a gray head on green shoulders, my lad; and I verily
believe you are right. Who will you take with you to watch?"
"Sir," said Frank, "I will go with my brother; and that will be
"Enough? He is big enough, and you brave enough, for ten; but
still, the more the merrier."
"But the fewer, the better fare. If I might ask a first and last
favor, worshipful sir," said Frank, very earnestly, "you would
grant me two things: that you would let none go to Freshwater but
me and my brother; and that whatsoever we shall bring you back
shall be kept as secret as the commonweal and your loyalty shall
permit. I trust that we are not so unknown to you, or to others,
that you can doubt for a moment but that whatsoever we may do will
satisfy at once your honor and our own."
"My dear young gentleman, there is no need of so many courtier's
words. I am your father's friend, and yours. And God forbid that
a Cary--for I guess your drift--should ever wish to make a head or
a heart ache; that is, more than--"
"Those of whom it is written, 'Though thou bray a fool in a mortar,
yet will not his folly depart from him,'" interposed Frank, in so
sad a tone that no one at the table replied; and few more words
were exchanged, till the two brothers were safe outside the house;
"Amyas," said Frank, "that was a Devon man's handiwork,
nevertheless; it was Eustace's handwriting."
"No, lad. I have been secretary to a prince, and learnt to
interpret cipher, and to watch every pen-stroke; and, young as I
am, I think that I am not easily deceived. Would God I were! Come
on, lad; and strike no man hastily, lest thou cut off thine own
So forth the two went, along the park to the eastward, and past the
head of the little wood-embosomed fishing-town, a steep stair of
houses clinging to the cliff far below them, the bright slate roofs
and white walls glittering in the moonlight; and on some half-mile
farther, along the steep hill-side, fenced with oak wood down to
the water's edge, by a narrow forest path, to a point where two
glens meet and pour their streamlets over a cascade some hundred
feet in height into the sea below. By the side of this waterfall a
narrow path climbs upward from the beach; and here it was that the
two brothers expected to meet the messenger.
Frank insisted on taking his station below Amyas. He said that he
was certain that Eustace himself would make his appearance, and
that he was more fit than Amyas to bring him to reason by parley;
that if Amyas would keep watch some twenty yards above, the escape
of the messenger would be impossible. Moreover, he was the elder
brother, and the post of honor was his right. So Amyas obeyed him,
after making him promise that if more than one man came up the
path, he would let them pass him before he challenged, so that both
might bring them to bay at the same time.
So Amyas took his station under a high marl bank, and, bedded in
luxuriant crown-ferns, kept his eye steadily on Frank, who sat down
on a little knoll of rock (where is now a garden on the cliff-edge)
which parts the path and the dark chasm down which the stream
rushes to its final leap over the cliff.
There Amyas sat a full half-hour, and glanced at whiles from Frank
to look upon the scene around. Outside the southwest wind blew
fresh and strong, and the moonlight danced upon a thousand crests
of foam; but within the black jagged point which sheltered the
town, the sea did but heave, in long oily swells of rolling silver,
onward into the black shadow of the hills, within which the town
and pier lay invisible, save where a twinkling light gave token of
some lonely fisher's wife, watching the weary night through for the
boat which would return with dawn. Here and there upon the sea, a
black speck marked a herring-boat, drifting with its line of nets;
and right off the mouth of the glen, Amyas saw, with a beating
heart, a large two-masted vessel lying-to--that must be the
"Portugal"! Eagerly he looked up the glen, and listened; but he
heard nothing but the sweeping of the wind across the downs five
hundred feet above, and the sough of the waterfall upon the rocks
below; he saw nothing but the vast black sheets of oak-wood sloping
up to the narrow blue sky above, and the broad bright hunter's
moon, and the woodcocks, which, chuckling to each other, hawked to
and fro, like swallows, between the tree-tops and the sky.
At last he heard a rustle of the fallen leaves; he shrank closer
and closer into the darkness of the bank. Then swift light steps--
not down the path, from above, but upward, from below; his heart
beat quick and loud. And in another half-minute a man came in
sight, within three yards of Frank's hiding-place.
Frank sprang out instantly. Amyas saw his bright blade glance in
the clear October moonlight.
"Stand in the queen's name!"
The man drew a pistol from under his cloak, and fired full in his
face. Had it happened in these days of detonators, Frank's chance
had been small; but to get a ponderous wheel-lock under weigh was a
longer business, and before the fizzing of the flint had ceased,
Frank had struck up the pistol with his rapier, and it exploded
harmlessly over his head. The man instantly dashed the weapon in
his face and closed.
The blow, luckily, did not take effect on that delicate forehead,
but struck him on the shoulder: nevertheless, Frank, who with all
his grace and agility was as fragile as a lily, and a very bubble
of the earth, staggered, and lost his guard, and before he could
recover himself, Amyas saw a dagger gleam, and one, two, three
blows fiercely repeated.
Mad with fury, he was with them in an instant. They were scuffling
together so closely in the shade that he was afraid to use his
sword point; but with the hilt he dealt a single blow full on the
ruffian's cheek. It was enough; with a hideous shriek, the fellow
rolled over at his feet, and Amyas set his foot on him, in act to
run him through.
"Stop! stay!" almost screamed Frank; "it is Eustace! our cousin
Eustace!" and he leant against a tree.
Amyas sprang towards him: but Frank waved him off.
"It is nothing--a scratch. He has papers: I am sure of it. Take
them; and for God's sake let him go!"
"Villain! give me your papers!" cried Amyas, setting his foot once
more on the writhing Eustace, whose jaw was broken across.
"You struck me foully from behind," moaned he, his vanity and envy
even then coming out, in that faint and foolish attempt to prove
Amyas not so very much better a man.
"Hound, do you think that I dare not strike you in front? Give me
your papers, letters, whatever Popish devilry you carry; or as I
live, I will cut off your head, and take them myself, even if it
cost me the shame of stripping your corpse. Give them up!
Traitor, murderer! give them, I say!" And setting his foot on him
afresh, he raised his sword.
Eustace was usually no craven: but he was cowed. Between agony and
shame, he had no heart to resist. Martyrdom, which looked so
splendid when consummated selon les regles on Tower Hill or Tyburn,
before pitying, or (still better) scoffing multitudes, looked a
confused, dirty, ugly business there in the dark forest; and as he
lay, a stream of moonlight bathed his mighty cousin's broad clear
forehead, and his long golden locks, and his white terrible blade,
till he seemed, to Eustace's superstitious eye, like one of those
fair young St. Michaels trampling on the fiend, which he had seen
abroad in old German pictures. He shuddered; pulled a packet from
his bosom, and threw it from him, murmuring, "I have not given it."
"Swear to me that these are all the papers which you have in cipher
or out of cipher. Swear on your soul, or you die!"
"Tell me, who are your accomplices?"
"Never!" said Eustace. "Cruel! have you not degraded me enough
already?" and the wretched young man burst into tears, and hid his
bleeding face in his hands.
One hint of honor made Amyas as gentle as a lamb. He lifted
Eustace up, and bade him run for his life.
"I am to owe my life, then, to you?"
"Not in the least; only to your being a Leigh. Go, or it will be
worse for you!" And Eustace went; while Amyas, catching up the
precious packet, hurried to Frank. He had fainted already, and his
brother had to carry him as far as the park before he could find
any of the other watchers. The blind, as far as they were
concerned, was complete. They had heard and seen nothing.
Whosoever had brought the packet had landed they knew not where;
and so all returned to the court, carrying Frank, who recovered
gradually, having rather bruises than wounds; for his foe had
struck wildly, and with a trembling hand.
Half-an-hour after, Amyas, Mr. Cary, and his son Will were in deep
consultation over the following epistle, the only paper in the
packet which was not in cipher:--
"'DEAR BROTHER N. S. in Chto. et Ecclesia.
"This is to inform you and the friends of the cause, that S.
Josephus has landed in Smerwick, with eight hundred valiant
Crusaders, burning with holy zeal to imitate last year's martyrs of
Carrigfolium, and to expiate their offences (which I fear may have
been many) by the propagation of our most holy faith. I have
purified the fort (which they are strenuously rebuilding) with
prayer and holy water, from the stain of heretical footsteps, and
consecrated it afresh to the service of Heaven, as the first-fruits
of the isle of saints; and having displayed the consecrated banner
to the adoration of the faithful, have returned to Earl Desmond,
that I may establish his faith, weak as yet, by reason of the
allurements of this world: though since, by the valor of his
brother James, he that hindered was taken out of the way (I mean
Davils the heretic, sacrifice well-pleasing in the eyes of
Heaven!), the young man has lent a more obedient ear to my
counsels. If you can do anything, do it quickly, for a great door
and effectual is opened, and there are many adversaries. But be
swift, for so do the poor lambs of the Church tremble at the fury
of the heretics, that a hundred will flee before one Englishman.
And, indeed, were it not for that divine charity toward the Church
(which covers the multitude of sins) with which they are
resplendent, neither they nor their country would be, by the carnal
judgment, counted worthy of so great labor in their behalf. For
they themselves are given much to lying, theft, and drunkenness,
vain babbling, and profane dancing and singing; and are still, as
S. Gildas reports of them, 'more careful to shroud their villainous
faces in bushy hair, than decently to cover their bodies; while
their land (by reason of the tyranny of their chieftains, and the
continual wars and plunderings among their tribes, which leave them
weak and divided, an easy prey to the myrmidons of the
excommunicate and usurping Englishwoman) lies utterly waste with
fire, and defaced with corpses of the starved and slain. But what
are these things, while the holy virtue of Catholic obedience still
flourishes in their hearts? The Church cares not for the
conservation of body and goods, but of immortal souls.
"If any devout lady shall so will, you may obtain from her
liberality a shirt for this worthless tabernacle, and also a pair
of hose; for I am unsavory to myself and to others, and of such
luxuries none here has superfluity; for all live in holy poverty,
except the fleas, who have that consolation in this world for which
this unhappy nation, and those who labor among them, must wait till
the world to come.*
"Your loving brother,
* See note at end of chapter.
"Sir Richard must know of this before daybreak," cried old Cary.
"Eight hundred men landed! We must call out the Posse Comitatus,
and sail with them bodily. I will go myself, old as I am.
Spaniards in Ireland? not a dog of them must go home again."
"Not a dog of them," answered Will; "but where is Mr. Winter and
"Safe in Milford Haven; a messenger must be sent to him too."
"I'll go," said Amyas: "but Mr. Cary is right. Sir Richard must
know all first."
"And we must have those Jesuits."
"What? Mr. Evans and Mr. Morgans? God help us--they are at my
uncle's! Consider the honor of our family!"
"Judge for yourself, my dear boy," said old Mr. Cary, gently:
"would it not be rank treason to let these foxes escape, while we
have this damning proof against them?"
"I will go myself, then."
"Why not? You may keep all straight, and Will shall go with you.
Call a groom, Will, and get your horse saddled, and my Yorkshire
gray; he will make better play with this big fellow on his back,
than the little pony astride of which Mr. Leigh came walking in (as
I hear) this morning. As for Frank, the ladies will see to him
well enough, and glad enough, too, to have so fine a bird in their
cage for a week or two."
"And my mother?"
"We'll send to her to-morrow by daybreak. Come, a stirrup cup to
start with, hot and hot. Now, boots, cloaks, swords, a deep pull
and a warm one, and away!"
And the jolly old man bustled them out of the house and into their
saddles, under the broad bright winter's moon.
"You must make your pace, lads, or the moon will be down before you
are over the moors." And so away they went.
Neither of them spoke for many a mile. Amyas, because his mind was
fixed firmly on the one object of saving the honor of his house;
and Will, because he was hesitating between Ireland and the wars,
and Rose Salterne and love-making. At last he spoke suddenly.
"I'll go, Amyas."
"To Ireland with you, old man. I have dragged my anchor at last."
"What anchor, my lad of parables?"
"See, here am I, a tall and gallant ship."
"Modest even if not true."
"Inclination, like an anchor, holds me tight."
"To the mud."
"Nay, to a bed of roses--not without their thorns."
"Hillo! I have seen oysters grow on fruit-trees before now, but
never an anchor in a rose-garden."
"Silence, or my allegory will go to noggin-staves."
"Against the rocks of my flinty discernment."
"Pooh--well. Up comes duty like a jolly breeze, blowing dead from
the northeast, and as bitter and cross as a northeaster too, and
tugs me away toward Ireland. I hold on by the rosebed--any ground
in a storm--till every strand is parted, and off I go, westward ho!
to get my throat cut in a bog-hole with Amyas Leigh."
"As I am a sinful man."
"Well done, young hawk of the White Cliff!"
"I had rather have called it Gallantry Bower still, though," said
Will, punning on the double name of the noble precipice which forms
the highest point of the deer park.
"Well, as long as you are on land, you know it is Gallantry Bower
still: but we always call it White Cliff when you see it from the
sea-board, as you and I shall do, I hope, to-morrow evening."
"What, so soon?"
"Dare we lose a day?"
"I suppose not: heigh-ho!"
And they rode on again in silence, Amyas in the meanwhile being not
a little content (in spite of his late self-renunciation) to find
that one of his rivals at least was going to raise the siege of the
Rose garden for a few months, and withdraw his forces to the coast
As they went over Bursdon, Amyas pulled up suddenly.
"Did you not hear a horse's step on our left?"
"On our left--coming up from Welsford moor? Impossible at this
time of night. It must have been a stag, or a sownder of wild
swine: or may be only an old cow."
"It was the ring of iron, friend. Let us stand and watch."
Bursdon and Welsford were then, as now, a rolling range of dreary
moors, unbroken by tor or tree, or anything save few and far
between a world-old furze-bank which marked the common rights of
some distant cattle farm, and crossed. then, not as now, by a
decent road, but by a rough confused track-way, the remnant of an
old Roman road from Clovelly dikes to Launceston. To the left it
trended down towards a lower range of moors, which form the
watershed of the heads of Torridge; and thither the two young men
peered down over the expanse of bog and furze, which glittered for
miles beneath the moon, one sheet of frosted silver, in the heavy
"If any of Eustace's party are trying to get home from Freshwater,
they might save a couple of miles by coming across Welsford,
instead of going by the main track, as we have done." So said
Amyas, who though (luckily for him) no "genius," was cunning as a
fox in all matters of tactic and practic, and would have in these
days proved his right to be considered an intellectual person by
being a thorough man of business.
"If any of his party are mad, they'll try it, and be stogged till
the day of judgment. There are bogs in the bottom twenty feet
deep. Plague on the fellow, whoever he is, he has dodged us! Look
It was too true. The unknown horseman had evidently dismounted
below, and led his horse up on the other side of a long furze-dike;
till coming to the point where it turned away again from his
intended course, he appeared against the sky, in the act of leading
his nag over a gap.
"Ride like the wind!" and both youths galloped across furze and
heather at him; but ere they were within a hundred yards of him, he
had leapt again on his horse, and was away far ahead.
"There is the dor to us, with a vengeance," cried Cary, putting in
"It is but a lad; we shall never catch him."
"I'll try, though; and do you lumber after as you can, old
heavysides;" and Cary pushed forward.
Amyas lost sight of him for ten minutes, and then came up with him
dismounted, and feeling disconsolately at his horse's knees.
"Look for my head. It lies somewhere about among the furze there;
and oh! I am as full of needles as ever was a pin-cushion."
"Are his knees broken?"
"I daren't look. No, I believe not. Come along, and make the best
of a bad matter. The fellow is a mile ahead, and to the right,
"He is going for Moorwinstow, then; but where is my cousin?"
"Behind us, I dare say. We shall nab him at least."
"Cary, promise me that if we do, you will keep out of sight, and
let me manage him."
"My boy, I only want Evan Morgans and Morgan Evans. He is but the
cat's paw, and we are after the cats themselves."
And so they went on another dreary six miles, till the land trended
downwards, showing dark glens and masses of woodland far below.
"Now, then, straight to Chapel, and stop the foxes' earth? Or
through the King's Park to Stow, and get out Sir Richard's hounds,
hue and cry, and queen's warrant in proper form?"
"Let us see Sir Richard first; and whatsoever he decides about my
uncle, I will endure as a loyal subject must."
So they rode through the King's Park, while Sir Richard's colts
came whinnying and staring round the intruders, and down through a
rich woodland lane five hundred feet into the valley, till they
could hear the brawling of the little trout-stream, and beyond, the
everlasting thunder of the ocean surf.
Down through warm woods, all fragrant with dying autumn flowers,
leaving far above the keen Atlantic breeze, into one of those
delicious Western combes, and so past the mill, and the little knot
of flower-clad cottages. In the window of one of them a light was
still burning. The two young men knew well whose window that was;
and both hearts beat fast; for Rose Salterne slept, or rather
seemed to wake, in that chamber.
"Folks are late in Combe to-night," said Amyas, as carelessly as he
Cary looked earnestly at the window, and then sharply enough at
Amyas; but Amyas was busy settling his stirrup; and Cary rode on,
unconscious that every fibre in his companion's huge frame was
trembling like his own.
"Muggy and close down here," said Amyas, who, in reality, was quite
faint with his own inward struggles.
"We shall be at Stow gate in five minutes," said Cary, looking back
and down longingly as his horse climbed the opposite hill; but a
turn of the zigzag road hid the cottage, and the next thought was,
how to effect an entrance into Stow at three in the morning without
being eaten by the ban-dogs, who were already howling and growling
at the sound of the horse-hoofs.
However, they got safely in, after much knocking and calling,
through the postern gate in the high west wall, into a mansion, the
description whereof I must defer to the next chapter, seeing that
the moon has already sunk into the Atlantic, and there is darkness
over land and sea.
Sir Richard, in his long gown, was soon downstairs in the hall; the
letter read, and the story told; but ere it was half finished--
"Anthony, call up a groom, and let him bring me a horse round.
Gentlemen, if you will excuse me five minutes, I shall be at your
"You will not go alone, Richard?" asked Lady Grenville, putting her
beautiful face in its nightcoif out of an adjoining door.
"Surely, sweet chuck, we three are enough to take two poor polecats
of Jesuits. Go in, and help me to boot and gird."
In half an hour they were down and up across the valley again,
under the few low ashes clipt flat by the sea-breeze which stood
round the lonely gate of Chapel.
"Mr. Cary, there is a back path across the downs to Marsland; go
and guard that." Cary rode off; and Sir Richard, as he knocked
loudly at the gate--
"Mr. Leigh, you see that I have consulted your honor, and that of
your poor uncle, by adventuring thus alone. What will you have me
do now, which may not be unfit for me and you?"
"Oh, sir!" said Amyas, with tears in his honest eyes, "you have
shown yourself once more what you always have been--my dear and
beloved master on earth, not second even to my admiral Sir Francis
"Or the queen, I hope," said Grenville, smiling, "but pocas
palabras. What will you do?"
"My wretched cousin, sir, may not have returned--and if I might
watch for him on the main road--unless you want me with you."
"Richard Grenville can walk alone, lad. But what will you do with
"Send him out of the country, never to return; or if he refuses,
run him through on the spot."
"Go, lad." And as he spoke, a sleepy voice asked inside the gate,
"Who was there?"
"Sir Richard Grenville. Open, in the queen's name?"
"Sir Richard? He is in bed, and be hanged to you. No honest folk
come at this hour of night."
"Amyas!" shouted Sir Richard. Amyas rode back.
"Burst that gate for me, while I hold your horse."
Amyas leaped down, took up a rock from the roadside, such as
Homer's heroes used to send at each other's heads, and in an
instant the door was flat on the ground, and the serving-man on his
back inside, while Sir Richard quietly entering over it, like Una
into the hut, told the fellow to get up and hold his horse for him
(which the clod, who knew well enough that terrible voice, did
without further murmurs), and then strode straight to the front
door. It was already opened. The household had been up and about
all along, or the noise at the entry had aroused them.
Sir Richard knocked, however, at the open door; and, to his
astonishment, his knock was answered by Mr. Leigh himself, fully
dressed, and candle in hand.
"Sir Richard Grenville! What, sir! is this neighborly, not to say
gentle, to break into my house in the dead of night?"
"I broke your outer door, sir, because I was refused entrance when
I asked in the queen's name. I knocked at your inner one, as I
should have knocked at the poorest cottager's in the parish,
because I found it open. You have two Jesuits here, sir! and here
is the queen's warrant for apprehending them. I have signed it
with my own hand, and, moreover, serve it now, with my own hand, in
order to save you scandal--and it may be, worse. I must have these
men, Mr. Leigh."
"My dear Sir Richard--!"
"I must have them, or I must search the house; and you would not
put either yourself or me to so shameful a necessity?"
"My dear Sir Richard!--"
"Must I, then, ask you to stand back from your own doorway, my dear
sir?" said Grenville. And then changing his voice to that fearful
lion's roar, for which he was famous, and which it seemed
impossible that lips so delicate could utter, he thundered,
"Knaves, behind there! Back!"
This was spoken to half-a-dozen grooms and serving-men, who, well
armed, were clustered in the passage.
"What? swords out, you sons of cliff rabbits?" And in a moment,
Sir Richard's long blade flashed out also, and putting Mr. Leigh
gently aside, as if he had been a child, he walked up to the party,
who vanished right and left; having expected a cur dog, in the
shape of a parish constable, and come upon a lion instead. They
were stout fellows enough, no doubt, in a fair fight: but they had
no stomach to be hanged in a row at Launceston Castle, after a
preliminary running through the body by that redoubted admiral and
most unpeaceful justice of the peace.
"And now, my dear Mr. Leigh," said Sir Richard, as blandly as ever,
"where are my men? The night is cold; and you, as well as I, need
to be in our beds."
"The men, Sir Richard--the Jesuits--they are not here, indeed."
"Not here, sir?"
"On the word of a gentleman, they left my house an hour ago.
Believe me, sir, they did. I will swear to you if you need."
"I believe Mr. Leigh of Chapel's word without oaths. Whither are
"Nay, sir--how can I tell? They are--they are, as I may say, fled,
"With your connivance; at least with your son's. Where are they
"As I live, I do not know."
Mr. Leigh--is this possible? Can you add untruth to that treason
from the punishment of which I am trying to shield you?"
Poor Mr. Leigh burst into tears.
"Oh! my God! my God! is it come to this? Over and above having the
fear and anxiety of keeping these black rascals in my house, and
having to stop their villainous mouths every minute, for fear they
should hang me and themselves, I am to be called a traitor and a
liar in my old age, and that, too, by Richard Grenville! Would God
I had never been born! Would God I had no soul to be saved, and
I'd just go and drown care in drink, and let the queen and the Pope
fight it out their own way!" And the poor old man sank into a
chair, and covered his face with his hands, and then leaped up
"Bless my heart! Excuse me, Sir Richard--to sit down and leave you
standing. 'S life, sir, sorrow is making a hawbuck of me. Sit
down, my dear sir! my worshipful sir! or rather come with me into
my room, and hear a poor wretched man's story, for I swear before
God the men are fled; and my poor boy Eustace is not home either,
and the groom tells me that his devil of a cousin has broken his
jaw for him; and his mother is all but mad this hour past. Good
lack! good lack!"
"He nearly murdered his angel of a cousin, sir! " said Sir Richard,
"What, sir? They never told me."
"He had stabbed his cousin Frank three times, sir, before Amyas,
who is as noble a lad as walks God's earth, struck him down. And
in defence of what, forsooth, did he play the ruffian and the
swashbuckler, but to bring home to your house this letter, sir,
which you shall hear at your leisure, the moment I have taken order
about your priests." And walking out of the house he went round
and called to Cary to come to him.
"The birds are flown, Will," whispered he. "There is but one
chance for us, and that is Marsland Mouth. If they are trying to
take boat there, you may be yet in time. If they are gone inland
we can do nothing till we raise the hue and cry to-morrow."
And Will galloped off over the downs toward Marsland, while Sir
Richard ceremoniously walked in again, and professed himself ready
and happy to have the honor of an audience in Mr. Leigh's private
chamber. And as we know pretty well already what was to be
discussed therein, we had better go over to Marsland Mouth, and, if
possible, arrive there before Will Cary: seeing that he arrived hot
and swearing, half an hour too late.
Note.--I have shrunk somewhat from giving these and other sketches
(true and accurate as I believe them to be) of Ireland during
Elizabeth's reign, when the tyranny and lawlessness of the feudal
chiefs had reduced the island to such a state of weakness and
barbarism, that it was absolutely necessary for England either to
crush the Norman-Irish nobility, and organize some sort of law and
order, or to leave Ireland an easy prey to the Spaniards, or any
other nation which should go to war with us. The work was done--
clumsily rather than cruelly; but wrongs were inflicted, and
avenged by fresh wrongs, and those by fresh again. May the memory
of them perish forever! It has been reserved for this age, and for
the liberal policy of this age, to see the last ebullitions of
Celtic excitability die out harmless and ashamed of itself, and to
find that the Irishman, when he is brought as a soldier under the
regenerative influence of law, discipline, self-respect, and
loyalty, can prove himself a worthy rival of the more stern Norse-
Saxon warrior. God grant that the military brotherhood between
Irish and English, which is the special glory of the present war,
may be the germ of a brotherhood industrial, political, and
hereafter, perhaps, religious also; and that not merely the corpses
of heroes, but the feuds and wrongs which have parted them for
centuries, may lie buried, once and forever, in the noble graves of
Alma and Inkerman.
THE COMBES OF THE FAR WEST
"Far, far from hence
The Adriatic breaks in a warm bay
Among the green Illyrian hills, and there
The sunshine in the happy glens is fair,
And by the sea and in the brakes
The grass is cool, the sea-side air
Buoyant and fresh, the mountain flowers
More virginal and sweet than ours."
And even such are those delightful glens, which cut the high table-
land of the confines of Devon and Cornwall, and opening each
through its gorge of down and rock, towards the boundless Western
Ocean. Each is like the other, and each is like no other English
scenery. Each has its upright walls, inland of rich oak-wood,
nearer the sea of dark green furze, then of smooth turf, then of
weird black cliffs which range out right and left far into the deep
sea, in castles, spires, and wings of jagged iron-stone. Each has
its narrow strip of fertile meadow, its crystal trout stream
winding across and across from one hill-foot to the other; its gray
stone mill, with the water sparkling and humming round the dripping
wheel; its dark, rock pools above the tide mark, where the salmon-
trout gather in from their Atlantic wanderings, after each autumn
flood: its ridge of blown sand, bright with golden trefoil and
crimson lady's finger; its gray bank of polished pebbles, down
which the stream rattles toward the sea below. Each has its black
field of jagged shark's-tooth rock which paves the cove from side
to side, streaked with here and there a pink line of shell sand,
and laced with white foam from the eternal surge, stretching in
parallel lines out to the westward, in strata set upright on edge,
or tilted towards each other at strange angles by primeval
earthquakes;--such is the "mouth"--as those coves are called; and
such the jaw of teeth which they display, one rasp of which would
grind abroad the timbers of the stoutest ship. To landward, all
richness, softness, and peace; to seaward, a waste and howling
wilderness of rock and roller, barren to the fisherman, and
hopeless to the shipwrecked mariner.
In only one of these "mouths" is a landing for boats, made possible
by a long sea-wall of rock, which protects it from the rollers of
the Atlantic; and that mouth is Marsland, the abode of the White
Witch, Lucy Passmore; whither, as Sir Richard Grenville rightly
judged, the Jesuits were gone. But before the Jesuits came, two
other persons were standing on that lonely beach, under the bright
October moon, namely, Rose Salterne and the White Witch herself;
for Rose, fevered with curiosity and superstition, and allured by
the very wildness and possible danger of the spell, had kept her
appointment; and, a few minutes before midnight, stood on the gray
shingle beach with her counsellor.
"You be safe enough here to-night, miss. My old man is snoring
sound abed, and there's no other soul ever sets foot here o'
nights, except it be the mermaids now and then. Goodness, Father,
where's our boat? It ought to be up here on the pebbles."
Rose pointed to a strip of sand some forty yards nearer the sea,
where the boat lay.
"Oh, the lazy old villain! he's been round the rocks after pollock
this evening, and never taken the trouble to hale the boat up.
I'll trounce him for it when I get home. I only hope he's made her
fast where she is, that's all! He's more plague to me than ever my
money will be. O deary me!"
And the goodwife bustled down toward the boat, with Rose behind
"Iss, 'tis fast, sure enough: and the oars aboard too! Well, I
never! Oh, the lazy thief, to leave they here to be stole! I'll
just sit in the boat, dear, and watch mun, while you go down to the
say; for you must be all alone to yourself, you know, or you'll see
nothing. There's the looking-glass; now go, and dip your head
three times, and mind you don't look to land or sea before you've
said the words, and looked upon the glass. Now, be quick, it's
just upon midnight."
And she coiled herself up in the boat, while Rose went faltering
down the strip of sand, some twenty yards farther, and there
slipping off her clothes, stood shivering and trembling for a
moment before she entered the sea.
She was between two walls of rock: that on her left hand, some
twenty feet high, hid her in deepest shade; that on her right,
though much lower, took the whole blaze of the midnight moon.
Great festoons of live and purple sea-weed hung from it, shading
dark cracks and crevices, fit haunts for all the goblins of the
sea. On her left hand, the peaks of the rock frowned down ghastly
black; on her right hand, far aloft, the downs slept bright and
The breeze had died away; not even a roller broke the perfect
stillness of the cove. The gulls were all asleep upon the ledges.
Over all was a true autumn silence; a silence which may be heard.
She stood awed, and listened in hope of a sound which might tell
her that any living thing beside herself existed.
There was a faint bleat, as of a new-born lamb, high above her
head; she started and looked up. Then a wail from the cliffs, as
of a child in pain, answered by another from the opposite rocks.
They were but the passing snipe, and the otter calling to her
brood; but to her they were mysterious, supernatural goblins, come
to answer to her call. Nevertheless, they only quickened her
expectation; and the witch had told her not to fear them. If she
performed the rite duly, nothing would harm her: but she could hear
the beating of her own heart, as she stepped, mirror in hand, into
the cold water, waded hastily, as far as she dare, and then stopped
A ring of flame was round her waist; every limb was bathed in
lambent light; all the multitudinous life of the autumn sea,
stirred by her approach, had flashed suddenly into glory;--
"And around her the lamps of the sea nymphs,
Myriad fiery globes, swam heaving and panting, and rainbows,
Crimson and azure and emerald, were broken in star-showers, lighting
Far through the wine-dark depths of the crystal, the gardens of Nereus,
Coral and sea-fan and tangle, the blooms and the palms of the ocean."
She could see every shell which crawled on the white sand at her
feet, every rock-fish which played in and out of the crannies, and
stared at her with its broad bright eyes; while the great palmate
oarweeds which waved along the chasm, half-seen in the glimmering
water, seemed to beckon her down with long brown hands to a grave
amid their chilly bowers. She turned to flee; but she had gone too
far now to retreat; hastily dipping her head three times, she
hurried out to the sea-marge, and looking through her dripping
locks at the magic mirror, pronounced the incantation--
"A maiden pure, here I stand,
Neither on sea, nor yet on land;
Angels watch me on either hand.
If you be landsman, come down the strand;
If you be sailor, come up the sand;
If you be angel, come from the sky,
Look in my glass, and pass me by;
Look in my glass, and go from the shore;
Leave me, but love me for evermore."
The incantation was hardly finished, her eyes were straining into
the mirror, where, as may be supposed, nothing appeared but the
sparkle of the drops from her own tresses, when she heard rattling
down the pebbles the hasty feet of men and horses.
She darted into a cavern of the high rock, and hastily dressed
herself: the steps held on right to the boat. Peeping out, half-
dead with terror, she saw there four men, two of whom had just
leaped from their horses, and turning them adrift, began to help
the other two in running the boat down.
Whereon, out of the stern sheets, arose, like an angry ghost, the
portly figure of Lucy Passmore, and shrieked in shrillest treble--
"Eh! ye villains, ye roogs, what do ye want staling poor folks'
boats by night like this?"
The whole party recoiled in terror, and one turned to run up the
beach, shouting at the top of his voice, "'Tis a marmaiden--a
marmaiden asleep in Willy Passmore's boat!"
"I wish it were any sich good luck," she could hear Will say; "'tis
my wife, oh dear!" and he cowered down, expecting the hearty cuff
which he received duly, as the White Witch, leaping out of the
boat, dared any man to touch it, and thundered to her husband to go
home to bed.
The wily dame, as Rose well guessed, was keeping up this delay
chiefly to gain time for her pupil: but she had also more solid
reasons for making the fight as hard as possible; for she, as well
as Rose, had already discerned in the ungainly figure of one of the
party the same suspicious Welsh gentleman, on whose calling she had
divined long ago; and she was so loyal a subject as to hold in
extreme horror her husband's meddling with such "Popish skulkers"
(as she called the whole party roundly to their face)--unless on
consideration of a very handsome sum of money. In vain Parsons
thundered, Campian entreated, Mr. Leigh's groom swore, and her
husband danced round in an agony of mingled fear and covetousness.
"No," she cried, "as I am an honest woman and loyal! This is why
you left the boat down to the shoore, you old traitor, you, is it?
To help off sich noxious trade as this out of the hands of her
majesty's quorum and rotulorum? Eh? Stand back, cowards! Will
you strike a woman?"
This last speech (as usual) was merely indicative of her intention
to strike the men; for, getting out one of the oars, she swung it
round and round fiercely, and at last caught Father Parsons such a
crack across the shins, that he retreated with a howl.
"Lucy, Lucy!" shrieked her husband, in shrillest Devon falsetto,
"be you mazed? Be you mazed, lass? They promised me two gold
nobles before I'd lend them the boot!"
"Tu?" shrieked the matron, with a tone of ineffable scorn. "And do
yu call yourself a man?"
"Tu nobles! tu nobles!" shrieked he again, hopping about at oar's
"Tu? And would you sell your soul under ten?"
"Oh, if that is it," cried poor Campian, "give her ten, give her
ten, brother Pars--Morgans, I mean; and take care of your shins,
Offa Cerbero, you know--Oh, virago! Furens quid faemina possit!
Certainly she is some Lamia, some Gorgon, some--"
"Take that, for your Lamys and Gorgons to an honest woman!" and in
a moment poor Campian's thin legs were cut from under him, while
the virago, "mounting on his trunk astride," like that more famous
one on Hudibras, cried, "Ten nobles, or I'll kep ye here till
morning!" And the ten nobles were paid into her hand.
And now the boat, its dragon guardian being pacified, was run down
to the sea, and close past the nook where poor little Rose was
squeezing herself into the farthest and darkest corner, among wet
sea-weed and rough barnacles, holding her breath as they
They passed her, and the boat's keel was already in the water; Lucy
had followed them close, for reasons of her own, and perceiving
close to the water's edge a dark cavern, cunningly surmised that it
contained Rose, and planted her ample person right across its
mouth, while she grumbled at her husband, the strangers, and above
all at Mr. Leigh's groom, to whom she prophesied pretty plainly
Launceston gaol and the gallows; while the wretched serving-man,
who would as soon have dared to leap off Welcombe Cliff as to
return railing for railing to the White Witch, in vain entreated
her mercy, and tried, by all possible dodging, to keep one of the
party between himself and her, lest her redoubted eye should
"overlook" him once more to his ruin.
But the night's adventures were not ended yet; for just as the boat
was launched, a faint halloo was heard upon the beach, and a minute
after, a horseman plunged down the pebbles, and along the sand, and
pulling his horse up on its haunches close to the terrified group,
dropped, rather than leaped, from the saddle.
The serving-man, though he dared not tackle a witch, knew well
enough how to deal with a swordsman; and drawing, sprang upon the
newcomer, and then recoiled--
"God forgive me, it's Mr. Eustace! Oh, dear sir, I took you for
one of Sir Richard's men! Oh, sir, you're hurt!"
"A scratch, a scratch!" almost moaned Eustace. "Help me into the
boat, Jack. Gentlemen, I must with you."
"Not with us, surely, my dear son, vagabonds upon the face of the
earth?" said kind-hearted Campian.
"With you, forever. All is over here. Whither God and the cause
lead"--and he staggered toward the boat.
As he passed Rose, she saw his ghastly bleeding face, half bound up
with a handkerchief, which could not conceal the convulsions of
rage, shame, and despair, which twisted it from all its usual
beauty. His eyes glared wildly round--and once, right into the
cavern. They met hers, so full, and keen, and dreadful, that
forgetting she was utterly invisible, the terrified girl was on the
point of shrieking aloud.
"He has overlooked me!" said she, shuddering to herself, as she
recollected his threat of yesterday.
"Who has wounded you?" asked Campian.
"My cousin--Amyas--and taken the letter!"
"The devil take him, then!" cried Parsons, stamping up and down
upon the sand in fury.
"Ay, curse him--you may! I dare not! He saved me--sent me here!"--
and with a groan, he made an effort to enter the boat.
"Oh, my dear young gentleman," cried Lucy Passmore, her woman's
heart bursting out at the sight of pain, "you must not goo forth
with a grane wound like to that. Do ye let me just bind mun up--do
ye now!" and she advanced.
Eustace thrust her back.
"No! better bear it, I deserve it--devils! I deserve it! On
board, or we shall all be lost--William Cary is close behind me!"
And at that news the boat was thrust into the sea, faster than ever
it went before, and only in time; for it was but just round the
rocks, and out of sight, when the rattle of Cary's horsehoofs was
"That rascal of Mr. Leigh's will catch it now, the Popish villain!"
said Lucy Passmore, aloud. "You lie still there, dear life, and
settle your sperrits; you'm so safe as ever was rabbit to burrow.
I'll see what happens, if I die for it!" And so saying, she
squeezed herself up through a cleft to a higher ledge, from whence
she could see what passed in the valley.
"There mun is! in the meadow, trying to catch the horses! There
comes Mr. Cary! Goodness, Father, how a rid'th! he's over wall
already! Ron, Jack! ron then! A'll get to the river! No, a
wain't! Goodness, Father! There's Mr. Cary cotched mun! A's
down, a's down!"
"Is he dead?" asked Rose, shuddering.
"Iss, fegs, dead as nits! and Mr. Cary off his horse, standing
overthwart mun! No, a bain't! A's up now. Suspose he was hit wi'
the flat. Whatever is Mr. Cary tu? Telling wi' mun, a bit. Oh
dear, dear, dear!"
"Has he killed him?" cried poor Rose.
"No, fegs, no! kecking mun, kecking mun, so hard as ever was
futeball! Goodness, Father, who did ever? If a haven't kecked mun
right into river, and got on mun's horse and rod away!"
And so saying, down she came again.
"And now then, my dear life, us be better to goo hoom and get you
sommat warm. You'm mortal cold, I rackon, by now. I was cruel
fear'd for ye: but I kept mun off clever, didn't I, now?"
"I wish--I wish I had not seen Mr. Leigh's face!"
"Iss, dreadful, weren't it, poor young soul; a sad night for his
"Lucy, I can't get his face out of my mind. I'm sure he overlooked
"Oh then! who ever heard the like o' that? When young gentlemen do
overlook young ladies, tain't thikketheor aways, I knoo. Never you
think on it."
"But I can't help thinking of it," said Rose. "Stop. Shall we go
home yet? Where's that servant?"
"Never mind, he wain't see us, here under the hill. I'd much
sooner to know where my old man was. I've a sort of a forecasting
in my inwards, like, as I always has when aught's gwain to happen,
as though I shuldn't zee mun again, like, I have, miss. Well--he
was a bedient old soul, after all, he was. Goodness, Father! and
all this while us have forgot the very thing us come about! Who
did you see?"
"Only that face!" said Rose, shuddering.
"Not in the glass, maid? Say then, not in the glass?"
"Would to heaven it had been! Lucy, what if he were the man I was
"He? Why, he's a praste, a Popish praste, that can't marry if he
would, poor wratch."
"He is none; and I have cause enough to know it!" And, for want of
a better confidant, Rose poured into the willing ears of her
companion the whole story of yesterday's meeting.
"He's a pretty wooer!" said Lucy at last, contemptuously. "Be a
brave maid, then, be a brave maid, and never terrify yourself with
his unlucky face. It's because there was none here worthy of ye,
that ye seed none in glass. Maybe he's to be a foreigner, from
over seas, and that's why his sperit was so long a coming. A duke,
or a prince to the least, I'll warrant, he'll be, that carries off
the Rose of Bideford."
But in spite of all the good dame's flattery, Rose could not wipe
that fierce face away from her eyeballs. She reached home safely,
and crept to bed undiscovered: and when the next morning, as was to
be expected, found her laid up with something very like a fever,
from excitement, terror, and cold, the phantom grew stronger and
stronger before her, and it required all her woman's tact and self-
restraint to avoid betraying by her exclamations what had happened
on that fantastic night. After a fortnight's weakness, however,
she recovered and went back to Bideford: but ere she arrived there,
Amyas was far across the seas on his way to Milford Haven, as shall
be told in the ensuing chapters.
THE TRUE AND TRAGICAL HISTORY OF MR. JOHN OXENHAM OF PLYMOUTH
"The fair breeze blew, the white foam flew;
The furrow follow'd free;
We were the first that ever burst
Into that silent sea."
The Ancient Mariner.
It was too late and too dark last night to see the old house at
Stow. We will look round us, then, this bright October day, while
Sir Richard and Amyas, about eleven o'clock in the forenoon, are
pacing up and down the terraced garden to the south. Amyas has
slept till luncheon, i. e. till an hour ago: but Sir Richard, in
spite of the bustle of last night, was up and in the valley by six
o'clock, recreating the valiant souls of himself and two terrier
dogs by the chase of sundry badgers.
Old Stow House stands, or rather stood, some four miles beyond the
Cornish border, on the northern slope of the largest and loveliest
of those combes of which I spoke in the last chapter. Eighty years
after Sir Richard's time there arose there a huge Palladian pile,
bedizened with every monstrosity of bad taste, which was built, so
the story runs, by Charles the Second, for Sir Richard's great-
grandson, the heir of that famous Sir Bevil who defeated the
Parliamentary troops at Stratton, and died soon after, fighting
valiantly at Lansdowne over Bath. But, like most other things
which owed their existence to the Stuarts, it rose only to fall
again. An old man who had seen, as a boy, the foundation of the
new house laid, lived to see it pulled down again, and the very
bricks and timber sold upon the spot; and since then the stables
have become a farm-house, the tennis-court a sheep-cote, the great
quadrangle a rick-yard; and civilization, spreading wave on wave so
fast elsewhere, has surged back from that lonely corner of the
land--let us hope, only for a while.
But I am not writing of that great new Stow House, of the past
glories whereof quaint pictures still hang in the neighboring
houses; nor of that famed Sir Bevil, most beautiful and gallant of
his generation, on whom, with his grandfather Sir Richard, old
Prince has his pompous epigram--
"Where next shall famous Grenvil's ashes stand?
Thy grandsire fills the sea, and thou the land."
I have to deal with a simpler age, and a sterner generation; and
with the old house, which had stood there, in part at least, from
gray and mythic ages, when the first Sir Richard, son of Hamon
Dentatus, Lord of Carboyle, the grandson of Duke Robert, son of
Rou, settled at Bideford, after slaying the Prince of South-Galis,
and the Lord of Glamorgan, and gave to the Cistercian monks of
Neath all his conquests in South Wales. It was a huge rambling
building, half castle, half dwelling-house, such as may be seen
still (almost an unique specimen) in Compton Castle near Torquay,
the dwelling-place of Humphrey Gilbert, Walter Raleigh's half-
brother, and Richard Grenville's bosom friend, of whom more