Part 8 out of 11
sepulchre as the sophist Milton?"
"I profess," said Everard, "this is hard measure, Sir Henry. You pressed
me--you defied me, to produce poetry as good as Shakspeare's. I only
thought of the verses, not of the politics of Milton."
"Oh yes, sir," replied Sir Henry; "we well know your power of making
distinctions; you could make war against the King's prerogative, without
having the least design against his person. Oh Heaven forbid! But Heaven
will hear and judge you. Set down the beverage, Phoebe"--(this was added
by way of parenthesis to Phoebe, who entered with refreshment)--"Colonel
Everard is not thirsty--You have wiped your mouths, and said you have
done no evil. But though you have deceived man, yet God you cannot
deceive. And you shall wipe no lips in Woodstock, either after meat or
drink, I promise you."
Charged thus at once with the faults imputed to his whole religious sect
and political party, Everard felt too late of what imprudence he had
been guilty in giving the opening, by disputing his uncle's taste in
dramatic poetry. He endeavoured to explain--to apologise.
"I mistook your purpose, honoured sir, and thought you really desired to
know something of our literature; and in repeating what you deemed not
unworthy your hearing, I profess I thought I was doing you pleasure,
instead of stirring your indignation."
"O ay!" returned the knight, with unmitigated rigour of resentment--
"profess--profess--Ay, that is the new phrase of asseveration, instead
of the profane adjuration of courtiers and cavaliers--Oh, sir, _profess_
less and _practise_ more--and so good day to you. Master Kerneguy, you
will find beverage in my apartment."
While Phoebe stood gaping in admiration at the sudden quarrel which had
arisen, Colonel Everard's vexation and resentment was not a little
increased by the nonchalance of the young Scotsman, who, with his hands
thrust into his pockets, (with a courtly affectation of the time,) had
thrown himself into one of the antique chairs, and, though habitually
too polite to laugh aloud, and possessing that art of internal laughter
by which men of the world learn to indulge their mirth without incurring
quarrels, or giving direct offence, was at no particular pains to
conceal that he was exceedingly amused by the result of the Colonel's
visit to Woodstock. Colonel Everard's patience, however, had reached
bounds which it was very likely to surpass; for, though differing widely
in politics, there was a resemblance betwixt the temper of the uncle and
"Damnation" exclaimed the Colonel, in a tone which became a puritan as
little as did the exclamation itself.
"Amen!" said Louis Kerneguy, but in a tone so soft and gentle, that the
ejaculation seemed rather to escape him than to be designedly uttered.
"Sir!" said Everard, striding towards him in that sort of humour, when a
man, full of resentment, would not unwillingly find an object on which
to discharge it.
"_Plait-il?_" said the page, in the most equable tone, looking up in his
face with the most unconscious innocence.
"I wish to know, sir," retorted Everard, "the meaning of that which you
said just now?"
"Only a pouring out of the spirit, worthy sir," returned Kerneguy--"a
small skiff dispatched to Heaven on my own account, to keep company with
your holy petition just now expressed."
"Sir, I have known a merry gentleman's bones broke for such a smile as
you wear just now," replied Everard.
"There, look you now" answered the malicious page, who could not weigh
even the thoughts of his safety against the enjoyment of his jest--"If
you had stuck to your professions, worthy sir, you must have choked by
this time; but your round execration bolted like a cork from a bottle of
cider, and now allows your wrath to come foaming out after it, in the
honest unbaptized language of common ruffians."
"For Heaven's sake, Master Girnegy," said Phoebe, "forbear giving the
Colonel these bitter words! And do you, good Colonel Markham, scorn to
take offence at his hands--he is but a boy."
"If the Colonel or you choose, Mistress Phoebe, you shall find me a
man--I think the gentleman can say something to the purpose already.--
Probably he may recommend to you the part of the Lady in Comus; and I
only hope his own admiration of John Milton will not induce him to
undertake the part of Samson Agonistes, and blow up this old house with
execration, or pull it down in wrath about our ears."
"Young man," said the Colonel, still in towering passion, "if you
respect my principles for nothing else, be grateful to the protection
which, but for them, you would not easily attain."
"Nay, then," said the attendant, "I must fetch those who have more
influence with you than I have," and away tripped Phoebe; while Kerneguy
answered Everard in the same provoking tone of calm indifference,--
"Before you menace me with a thing so formidable as your resentment, you
ought to be certain whether I may not be compelled by circumstances to
deny you the opportunity you seem to point at."
At this moment Alice, summoned no doubt by her attendant, entered the
"Master Kerneguy," she said, "my father requests to see you in Victor
Kerneguy arose and bowed, but seemed determined to remain till Everard's
departure, so as to prevent any explanation betwixt the cousins.
"Markham," said Alice, hurriedly--"Cousin Everard--I have but a moment
to remain here--for God's sake, do you instantly begone!--be cautious
and patient--but do not tarry here--my father is fearfully incensed."
"I have had my uncle's word for that, madam," replied Everard, "as well
as his injunction to depart, which I will obey without delay. I was not
aware that you would have seconded so harsh an order quite so willingly;
but I go, madam, sensible I leave those behind whose company is more
"Unjust--ungenerous--ungrateful!" said Alice; but fearful her words
might reach ears for which they were not designed, she spoke them in a
voice so feeble, that her cousin, for whom they were intended, lost the
consolation they were calculated to convey.
He bowed coldly to Alice, as taking leave, and said, with an air of that
constrained courtesy which sometimes covers, among men of condition, the
most deadly hatred, "I believe, Master Kerneguy, that I must make it
convenient at present to suppress my own peculiar opinions on the matter
which we have hinted at in our conversation, in which case I will send a
gentleman, who, I hope, may be able to conquer yours."
The supposed Scotsman made him a stately, and at the same time a
condescending bow, said he should expect the honour of his commands,
offered his hand to Mistress Alice, to conduct her back to her father's
apartment, and took a triumphant leave of his rival.
Everard, on the other hand, stung beyond his patience, and, from the
grace and composed assurance of the youth's carriage, still conceiving
him to be either Wilmot, or some of his compeers in rank and profligacy,
returned to the town of Woodstock, determined not to be outbearded, even
though he should seek redress by means which his principles forbade him
to consider as justifiable.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SIXTH.
In nature is a tyranny--it hath been
The untimely emptying of many a throne,
And fall of many kings.
While Colonel Everard retreated in high indignation from the little
refection, which Sir Henry Lee had in his good-humour offered, and
withdrawn under the circumstances of provocation which we have detailed,
the good old knight, scarce recovered from his fit of passion, partook
of it with his daughter and guest, and shortly after, recollecting some
silvan task, (for, though to little efficient purpose, he still
regularly attended to his duties as Ranger,) he called Bevis, and went
out, leaving the two young people together.
"Now," said the amorous Prince to himself, "that Alice is left without
her lion, it remains to see whether she is herself of a tigress breed.--
So, Sir Bevis has left his charge," he said loud; "I thought the knights
of old, those stern guardians of which he is so fit a representative,
were more rigorous in maintaining a vigilant guard."
"Bevis," said Alice, "knows that his attendance on me is totally
needless; and, moreover, he has other duties to perform, which every
true knight prefers to dangling the whole morning by a lady's sleeve."
"You speak treason against all true affection," said the gallant; "a
lady's lightest wish should to a true knight be more binding than aught
excepting the summons of his sovereign. I wish, Mistress Alice, you
would but intimate your slightest desire to me, and you should see how I
have practised obedience."
"You never brought me word what o'clock it was this morning," replied
the young lady, "and there I sate questioning of the wings of Time, when
I should have remembered that gentlemen's gallantry can be quite as
fugitive as Time himself. How do you know what your disobedience may
have cost me and others? Pudding and pasty may have been burned to a
cinder, for, sir, I practise the old domestic rule of visiting the
kitchen; or I may have missed prayers, or I may have been too late for
an appointment, simply by the negligence of Master Louis Kerneguy
failing to let me know the hour of the day."
"O," replied Kerneguy, "I am one of those lovers who cannot endure
absence--I must be eternally at the feet of my fair enemy--such, I
think, is the title with which romances teach us to grace the fair and
cruel to whom we devote our hearts and lives.--Speak for me, good
lute," he added, taking up the instrument, "and show whether I know not
He sung, but with more taste than execution, the air of a French
rondelai, to which some of the wits or sonnetteers, in his gay and
roving train, had adapted English verses.
An hour with thee!--When earliest day
Dapples with gold the eastern grey,
Oh, what, can frame my mind to bear
The toil and turmoil, cark and care.
New griefs, which coming hours unfold,
And sad remembrance of the old?--
One hour with thee!
One hour with thee!--When burning June
Waves his red flag at pitch of noon;
What shall repay the faithful swain,
His labour on the sultry plain,
And more than cave or sheltering bough,
Cool feverish blood, and throbbing brow?--
One hour with thee!
One hour with thee!--When sun is set,
O, what can teach me to forget
The thankless labours of the day;
The hopes, the wishes, flung away:
The increasing wants, and lessening gains,
The master's pride, who scorns my pains?--
One hour with thee!
"Truly, there is another verse," said the songster; "but I sing it not
to you, Mistress Alice, because some of the prudes of the court liked it
not." "I thank you, Master Louis," answered the young lady, "both for
your discretion in singing what has given me pleasure, and in forbearing
what might offend me. Though a country girl, I pretend to be so far of
the court mode, as to receive nothing which does not pass current among
the better class there."
"I would," answered Louis, "that you were so well confirmed in their
creed, as to let all pass with you, to which court ladies would give
"And what would be the consequence?" said Alice, with perfect composure.
"In that case," said Louis, embarrassed like a general who finds that
his preparations for attack do not seem to strike either fear or
confusion into the enemy--"in that case you would forgive me, fair
Alice, if I spoke to you in a warmer language than that of mere
gallantry--if I told you how much my heart was interested in what you
consider as idle jesting--if I seriously owned it was in your power to
make me the happiest or the most miserable of human beings."
"Master Kerneguy," said Alice, with the same unshaken nonchalance, "let
us understand each other. I am little acquainted with high-bred manners,
and I am unwilling, I tell you plainly, to be accounted a silly country
girl, who, either from ignorance or conceit, is startled at every word
of gallantry addressed to her by a young man, who, for the present, has
nothing better to do than coin and circulate such false compliments. But
I must not let this fear of seeming rustic and awkwardly timorous carry
me too far; and being ignorant of the exact limits, I will take care to
stop within them."
"I trust, madam," said Kerneguy, "that however severely you may be
disposed to judge of me, your justice will not punish me too severely
for an offence, of which your charms are alone the occasion?"
"Hear me out, sir, if you please," resumed Alice. "I have listened to
you when you spoke _en berger_--nay, my complaisance has been so great,
as to answer you _en bergère_--for I do not think any thing except
ridicule can come of dialogues between Lindor and Jeanneton; and the
principal fault of the style is its extreme and tiresome silliness and
affectation. But when you begin to kneel, offer to take my hand, and
speak with a more serious tone, I must remind you of our real
characters. I am the daughter of Sir Henry Lee, sir; you are, or profess
to be, Master Louis Kerneguy, my brother's page, and a fugitive for
shelter under my father's roof, who incurs danger by the harbour he
affords you, and whose household, therefore, ought not to be disturbed
by your unpleasing importunities."
"I would to Heaven, fair Alice," said the King, "that your objections to
the suit which I am urging, not in jest, but most seriously, as that on
which my happiness depends, rested only on the low and precarious
station of Louis Kerneguy!--Alice, thou hast the soul of thy family, and
must needs love honour. I am no more the needy Scottish page, whom I
have, for my own purposes, personated, than I am the awkward lout, whose
manners I adopted on the first night of our acquaintance. This hand,
poor as I seem, can confer a coronet."
"Keep it," said Alice, "for some more ambitious damsel, my lord,--for
such I conclude is your title, if this romance be true,--I would not
accept your hand, could you confer a duchy."
"In one sense, lovely Alice, you have neither overrated my power nor my
affection. It is your King--it is Charles Stewart who speaks to you!--he
can confer duchies, and if beauty can merit them, it is that of Alice
Lee. Nay, nay--rise--do not kneel--it is for your sovereign to kneel to
thee, Alice, to whom he is a thousand times more devoted than the
wanderer Louis dared venture to profess himself. My Alice has, I know,
been trained up in those principles of love and obedience to her
sovereign, that she cannot, in conscience or in mercy, inflict on him
such a wound as would be implied in the rejection of his suit."
In spite of all Charles's attempts to prevent her, Alice had persevered
in kneeling on one knee, until she had touched with her lip the hand
with which he attempted to raise her. But this salutation ended, she
stood upright, with her arms folded on her bosom--her looks humble, but
composed, keen, and watchful, and so possessed of herself, so little
flattered by the communication which the King had supposed would have
been overpowering, that he scarce knew in what terms next to urge his
"Thou art silent--thou art silent," he said, "my pretty Alice. Has the
King no more influence with thee than the poor Scottish page?"
"In one sense, every influence," said Alice; "for he commands my best
thoughts, my best wishes, my earnest prayers, my devoted loyalty, which,
as the men of the House of Lee have been ever ready to testify with the
sword, so are the women bound to seal, if necessary, with their blood.
But beyond the duties of a true and devoted subject, the King is even
less to Alice Lee than poor Louis Kerneguy. The Page could have tendered
an honourable union--the Monarch can but offer a contaminated coronet."
"You mistake, Alice--you mistake," said the King, eagerly. "Sit down and
let me speak to you--sit down--What is't you fear?"
"I fear nothing, my liege," answered Alice. "What _can_ I fear from the
King of Britain--I, the daughter of his loyal subject, and under my
father's roof? But I remember the distance betwixt us; and though I
might trifle and jest with mine equal, to my King I must only appear in
the dutiful posture of a subject, unless where his safety may seem to
require that I do not acknowledge his dignity."
Charles, though young, being no novice in such scenes, was surprised to
encounter resistance of a kind which had not been opposed to him in
similar pursuits, even in cases where he had been unsuccessful. There
was neither anger, nor injured pride, nor disorder, nor disdain, real or
affected, in the manners and conduct of Alice. She stood, as it seemed,
calmly prepared to argue on the subject, which is generally decided by
passion--showed no inclination to escape from the apartment, but
appeared determined to hear with patience the suit of the lover--while
her countenance and manner intimated that she had this complaisance only
in deference to the commands of the King.
"She is ambitious," thought Charles; "it is by dazzling her love of
glory, not by mere passionate entreaties, that I must hope to be
successful.--I pray you be seated, my fair Alice," he said; "the lover
entreats--the King commands you."
"The King," said Alice, "may permit the relaxation of the ceremonies due
to royalty, but he cannot abrogate the subject's duty, even by express
command. I stand here while it is your Majesty's pleasure to address--a
patient listener, as in duty bound."
"Know then, simple girl," said the King, "that in accepting my proffered
affection and protection, you break through no law either of virtue or
morality. Those who are born to royalty are deprived of many of the
comforts of private life--chiefly that which is, perhaps, the dearest
and most precious, the power of choosing their own mates for life. Their
formal weddings are guided upon principles of political expedience only,
and those to whom they are wedded are frequently, in temper, person, and
disposition, the most unlikely to make them happy. Society has
commiseration, therefore, towards us, and binds our unwilling and often
unhappy wedlocks with chains of a lighter and more easy character than
those which fetter other men, whose marriage ties, as more voluntarily
assumed, ought, in proportion, to be more strictly binding. And
therefore, ever since the time that old Henry built these walls, priests
and prelates, as well as nobles and statesmen, have been accustomed to
see a fair Rosamond rule the heart of an affectionate monarch, and
console him for the few hours of constraint and state which he must
bestow upon some angry and jealous Eleanor. To such a connection the
world attaches no blame; they rush to the festival to admire the beauty
of the lovely Esther, while the imperious Vashti is left to queen it in
solitude; they throng the palace to ask her protection, whose influence
is more in the state an hundred times than that of the proud consort;
her offspring rank with the nobles of the land, and vindicate by their
courage, like the celebrated Longsword, Earl of Salisbury, their descent
from royalty and from love. From such connections our richest ranks of
nobles are recruited; and the mother lives, in the greatness of her
posterity honoured and blest, as she died lamented and wept in the arms
of love and friendship."
"Did Rosamond so die, my lord?" said Alice. "Our records say she was
poisoned by the injured Queen--poisoned, without time allowed to call to
God for the pardon of her many faults. Did her memory so live? I have
heard that, when the Bishop purified the church at Godstowe, her
monument was broken open by his orders, and her bones thrown out into
"Those were rude old days, sweet Alice," answered Charles; "queens are
not now so jealous, nor bishops so rigorous. And know, besides, that in
the lands to which I would lead the loveliest of her sex, other laws
obtain, which remove from such ties even the slightest show of scandal.
There is a mode of matrimony, which, fulfilling all the rites of the
Church, leaves no stain on the conscience; yet investing the bride with
none of the privileges peculiar to her husband's condition, infringes
not upon the duties which the King owes to his subjects. So that Alice
Lee may, in all respects, become the real and lawful wife of Charles
Stewart, except that their private union gives her no title to be Queen
"My ambition," said Alice, "will be sufficiently gratified to see
Charles king, without aiming to share either his dignity in public, or
his wealth and regal luxury in private."
"I understand thee, Alice," said the King, hurt but not displeased. "You
ridicule me, being a fugitive, for speaking like a king. It is a habit,
I admit, which I have learned, and of which even misfortune cannot cure
me. But my case is not so desperate as you may suppose. My friends are
still many in these kingdoms; my allies abroad are bound, by regard to
their own interest, to espouse my cause. I have hopes given me from
Spain, from France, and from other nations; and I have confidence that
my father's blood has not been poured forth in vain, nor is doomed to
dry up without due vengeance. My trust is in Him from whom princes
derive their title, and, think what thou wilt of my present condition, I
have perfect confidence that I shall one day sit on the throne of
"May God grant it!" said Alice; "and that he _may_ grant it, noble
Prince, deign to consider--whether you now pursue a conduct likely to
conciliate his favour. Think of the course you recommend to a motherless
maiden, who has no better defence against your sophistry, than what a
sense of morality, together with the natural feeling of female dignity
inspires. Whether the death of her father, which would be the
consequence of her imprudence;--whether the despair of her brother,
whose life has been so often in peril to save that of your Majesty;--
whether the dishonour of the roof which has sheltered you, will read
well in your annals, or are events likely to propitiate God, whose
controversy with your House has been but too visible, or recover the
affections of the people of England, in whose eyes such actions are an
abomination, I leave to your own royal mind to consider."
Charles paused, struck with a turn to the conversation which placed his
own interests more in collision with the gratification of his present
passion than he had supposed.
"If your Majesty," said Alice, curtsying deeply, "has no farther
commands for my attendance, may I be permitted to withdraw?"
"Stay yet a little, strange and impracticable girl," said the King; "and
answer me but one question:--Is it the lowness of my present fortunes
that makes my suit contemptible?"
"I have nothing to conceal, my liege," she said, "and my answer shall be
as plain and direct as the question you have asked. If I could have been
moved to an act of ignominious, insane, and ungrateful folly, it could
only arise from my being blinded by that passion, which I believe is
pleaded as an excuse for folly and for crime much more often than it has
a real existence. I must, in short, have been in love, as it is
called--and that might have been--with my equal, but surely never with
my sovereign, whether such only in title, or in possession of his
"Yet loyalty was ever the pride, almost the ruling passion, of your
family, Alice," said the King.
"And could I reconcile that loyalty," said Alice, "with indulging my
sovereign, by permitting him to prosecute a suit dishonourable to
himself as to me? Ought I, as a faithful subject, to join him in a
folly, which might throw yet another stumbling-block in the path to his
restoration, and could only serve to diminish his security, even if he
were seated upon his throne?"
"At this rate," said Charles, discontentedly, "I had better have
retained my character of the page, than assumed that of a sovereign,
which it seems is still more irreconcilable with my wishes."
"My candour shall go still farther," said Alice. "I could have felt as
little for Louis Kerneguy as for the heir of Britain; for such love as I
have to bestow, (and it is not such as I read of in romance, or hear
poured forth in song,) has been already conferred on another object.
This gives your Majesty pain--I am sorry for it--but the wholesomest
medicines are often bitter."
"Yes," answered the King, with some asperity, "and physicians are
reasonable enough to expect their patients to swallow them, as if they
were honeycomb. It is true, then, that whispered tale of the cousin
Colonel, and the daughter of the loyal Lee has set her heart upon a
"My love was given ere I knew what these words fanatic and rebel meant.
I recalled it not, for I am satisfied, that amidst the great
distractions which divide the kingdom, the person to whom you allude has
chosen his part, erroneously, perhaps, but conscientiously--he,
therefore, has still the highest place in my affection and esteem. More
he cannot have, and will not ask, until some happy turn shall reconcile
these public differences, and my father be once more reconciled to him.
Devoutly do I pray that such an event may occur by your Majesty's speedy
and unanimous restoration!"
"You have found out a reason," said the King, pettishly, "to make me
detest the thought of such a change--nor have you, Alice, any sincere
interest to pray for it. On the contrary, do you not see that your
lover, walking side by side with Cromwell, may, or rather must, share
his power? nay, if Lambert does not anticipate him, he may trip up
Oliver's heels, and reign in his stead. And think you not he will find
means to overcome the pride of the loyal Lees, and achieve an union, for
which things are better prepared than that which Cromwell is said to
meditate betwixt one of his brats and the no less loyal heir of
"Your Majesty," said Alice, "has found a way at length to avenge
yourself--if what I have said deserves vengeance."
"I could point out a yet shorter road to your union," said Charles,
without minding her distress, or perhaps enjoying the pleasure of
retaliation. "Suppose that you sent your Colonel word that there was one
Charles Stewart here, who had come to disturb the Saints in their
peaceful government, which they had acquired by prayer and preaching,
pike and gun,--and suppose he had the art to bring down a half-score of
troopers, quite enough, as times go, to decide the fate of this heir of
royalty--think you not the possession of such a prize as this might
obtain from the Rumpers, or from Cromwell, such a reward as might
overcome your father's objections to a roundhead's alliance, and place
the fair Alice and her cousin Colonel in full possession of their
"My liege," said Alice, her cheeks glowing, and her eyes sparkling--for
she too had her share of the hereditary temperament of her family,--
"this passes my patience. I have heard, without expressing anger, the
most ignominious persuasions addressed to myself, and I have vindicated
myself for refusing to be the paramour of a fugitive Prince, as if I had
been excusing myself from accepting a share of an actual crown. But do
you think I can hear all who are dear to me slandered without emotion or
reply? I will not, sir; and were you seated with all the terrors of your
father's Star-chamber around you, you should hear me defend the absent
and the innocent. Of my father I will say nothing, but that if he is now
without wealth--without state, almost without a sheltering home and
needful food--it is because he spent all in the service of the King. He
needed not to commit any act of treachery or villany to obtain wealth--
he had an ample competence in his own possessions. For Markham Everard--
he knows no such thing as selfishness--he would not, for broad England,
had she the treasures of Peru in her bosom, and a paradise on her
surface, do a deed that would disgrace his own name, or injure the
feelings of another--Kings, my liege, may take a lesson from him. My
liege, for the present I take my leave."
"Alice, Alice--stay!" exclaimed the King. "She is gone.--This must be
virtue--real, disinterested, overawing virtue--or there is no such thing
on earth. Yet Wilmot and Villiers will not believe a word of it, but add
the tale to the other wonders of Woodstock. 'Tis a rare wench! and I
profess, to use the Colonel's obtestation, that I know not whether to
forgive and be friends with her, or study a dire revenge. If it were not
for that accursed cousin--that puritan Colonel--I could forgive every
thing else to so noble a wench. But a roundheaded rebel preferred to
me--the preference avowed to my face, and justified with the assertion,
that a king might take a lesson from him--it is gall and wormwood. If
the old man had not come up this morning as he did, the King should have
taken or given a lesson, and a severe one. It was a mad rencontre to
venture upon with my rank and responsibility--and yet this wench has
made me so angry with her, and so envious of him, that if an opportunity
offered, I should scarce be able to forbear him.--Ha! whom have we
The interjection at the conclusion of this royal soliloquy, was
occasioned by the unexpected entrance of another personage of the drama.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-SEVENTH.
_Benedict_. Shall I speak a word in your ear?
_Claudio_. God bless me from a challenge.
MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING.
As Charles was about to leave the apartment, he was prevented by the
appearance of Wildrake, who entered with an unusual degree of swagger in
his gait, and of fantastic importance on his brow. "I crave your pardon,
fair sir," he said; "but, as they say in my country, when doors are open
dogs enter. I have knocked and called in the hall to no purpose; so,
knowing the way to this parlour, sir,--for I am a light partisan, and
the road I once travel I never forget,--I ventured to present myself
"Sir Henry Lee is abroad, sir, I believe, in the Chase," said Charles,
coldly, for the appearance of this somewhat vulgar debauchee was not
agreeable to him at the moment, "and Master Albert Lee has left the
Lodge for two or three days."
"I am aware of it, sir," said Wildrake; "but I have no business at
present with either."
"And with whom is your business?" said Charles; "that is, if I may be
permitted to ask--since I think it cannot in possibility be with me."
"Pardon me in turn, sir," answered the cavalier; "in no possibility can
it be imparted to any other but yourself, if you be, as I think you are,
though in something better habit, Master Louis Girnigo, the Scottish
gentleman who waits upon Master Albert Lee."
"I am all you are like to find for him," answered Charles.
"In truth," said the cavalier, "I do perceive a difference, but rest,
and better clothing, will do much; and I am glad of it, since I would be
sorry to have brought a message, such as I am charged with, to a
"Let us get to the business, sir, if you please," said the King--"you
have a message for me, you say?"
"True, sir," replied Wildrake; "I am the friend of Colonel Markham
Everard, sir, a tall man, and a worthy person in the field, although I
could wish him a better cause--A message I have to you, it is certain,
in a slight note, which I take the liberty of presenting with the usual
formalities." So saying, he drew his sword, put the billet he mentioned
upon the point, and making a profound bow, presented it to Charles.
The disguised Monarch accepted of it, with a grave return of the salute,
and said, as he was about to open the letter, "I am not, I presume, to
expect friendly contents in an epistle presented in so hostile a
"A-hem, sir," replied the ambassador, clearing his voice, while he
arranged a suitable answer, in which the mild strain of diplomacy might
be properly maintained; "not utterly hostile, I suppose, sir, is the
invitation, though it be such as must be construed in the commencement
rather bellicose and pugnacious. I trust, sir, we shall find that a few
thrusts will make a handsome conclusion of the business; and so, as my
old master used to say, _Pax mascitur ex bello_. For my own poor share,
I am truly glad to have been graced by my friend, Markham Everard, in
this matter--the rather as I feared the puritan principles with which he
is imbued, (I will confess the truth to you, worthy sir,) might have
rendered him unwilling, from certain scruples, to have taken the
gentlemanlike and honourable mode of righting himself in such a case as
the present. And as I render a friend's duty to my friend, so I humbly
hope, Master Louis Girnigo, that I do no injustice to you, in preparing
the way for the proposed meeting, where, give me leave to say, I trust,
that if no fatal accident occur, we shall be all better friends when the
skirmish is over than we were before it began."
"I should suppose so, sir, in any case," said Charles, looking at the
letter; "worse than mortal enemies we can scarce be, and it is that
footing upon which this billet places us."
"You say true, sir," said Wildrake; "it is, sir, a cartel, introducing
to a single combat, for the pacific object of restoring a perfect good
understanding betwixt the survivors--in case that fortunately that word
can be used in the plural after the event of the meeting."
"In short, we only fight, I suppose," replied the King, "that we may
come to a perfectly good and amicable understanding?"
"You are right again, sir; and I thank you for the clearness of your
apprehension," said Wildrake.--"Ah, sir, it is easy to do with a person
of honour and of intellect in such a case as this. And I beseech you,
sir, as a personal kindness to myself, that, as the morning is like to
be frosty, and myself am in some sort rheumatic--as war will leave its
scars behind, sir,--I say, I will entreat of you to bring with you some
gentleman of honour, who will not disdain to take part in what is going
forward--a sort of pot-luck, sir--with a poor old soldier like myself--
that we may take no harm by standing unoccupied during such cold
"I understand, sir," replied Charles; "if this matter goes forward, be
assured I will endeavour to provide you with a suitable opponent."
"I shall remain greatly indebted to you, sir," said Wildrake; "and I am
by no means curious about the quality of my antagonist. It is true I
write myself esquire and gentleman, and should account myself especially
honoured by crossing my sword with that of Sir Henry or Master Albert
Lee; but, should that not be convenient, I will not refuse to present my
poor person in opposition to any gentleman who has served the King,--
which I always hold as a sort of letters of nobility in itself, and,
therefore, would on no account decline the duello with such a person."
"The King is much obliged to you, sir," said Charles, "for the honour
you do his faithful subjects."
"O, sir, I am scrupulous on that point--very scrupulous.--When there is
a roundhead in question, I consult the Herald's books, to see that he is
entitled to bear arms, as is Master Markham Everard, without which, I
promise you, I had borne none of his cartel. But a cavalier is with me a
gentleman, of course--Be his birth ever so low, his loyalty has ennobled
"It is well, sir," said the King. "This paper requests me to meet Master
Everard at six to-morrow morning, at the tree called the King's Oak--I
object neither to place nor time. He proffers the sword, at which, he
says, we possess some equality--I do not decline the weapon; for
company, two gentlemen--I shall endeavour to procure myself an
associate, and a suitable partner for you, sir, if you incline to join
in the dance."
"I kiss your hand, sir, and rest yours, under a sense of obligation,"
answered the envoy.
"I thank you, sir," continued the King; "I will therefore be ready at
place and time, and suitably furnished; and I will either give your
friend such satisfaction with my sword as he requires, or will render
him such cause for not doing so as he will be contented with."
"You will excuse me, sir," said Wildrake, "if my mind is too dull, under
the circumstances, to conceive any alternative that can remain betwixt
two men of honour in such a case, excepting--sa--sa--." He threw himself
into a fencing position, and made a pass with his sheathed rapier, but
not directed towards the person of the King, whom he addressed.
"Excuse me, sir," said Charles, "if I do not trouble your intellects
with the consideration of a case which may not occur.--But, for example,
I may plead urgent employment on the part of the public." This he spoke
in a low and mysterious tone of voice, which Wildrake appeared perfectly
to comprehend; for he laid his forefinger on his nose with what he meant
for a very intelligent and apprehensive nod.
"Sir," said he, "if you be engaged in any affair for the King, my friend
shall have every reasonable degree of patience--Nay, I will fight him
myself in your stead, merely to stay his stomach, rather than you should
be interrupted.--And, sir, if you can find room in your enterprise for a
poor gentleman that has followed Lunsford and Goring, you have but to
name day, time, and place of rendezvous; for truly, sir, I am tired of
the scald hat, cropped hair, and undertaker's cloak, with which my
friend has bedizened me, and would willingly ruffle it out once more in
the King's cause, when whether I be banged or hanged, I care not."
"I shall remember what you say, sir, should an opportunity occur," said
the King; "and I wish his Majesty had many such subjects--I presume our
business is now settled?"
"When you shall have been pleased, sir, to give me a trifling scrap of
writing, to serve for my credentials--for such, you know, is the
custom--your written cartel hath its written answer."
"That, sir, will I presently do," said Charles, "and in good time, here
are the materials."
"And, sir," continued the envoy--"Ah!--ahem!--if you have interest in
the household for a cup of sack--I am a man of few words, and am
somewhat hoarse with much speaking--moreover, a serious business of this
kind always makes one thirsty.--Besides, sir, to part with dry lips
argues malice, which God forbid should exist in such an honourable
"I do not boast much influence in the house, sir," said the King; "but
if you would have the condescension to accept of this broad piece
towards quenching your thirst at the George"--
"Sir," said the cavalier, (for the times admitted of this strange
species of courtesy, nor was Wildrake a man of such peculiar delicacy as
keenly to dispute the matter,)--"I am once again beholden to you. But I
see not how it consists with my honour to accept of such accommodation,
unless you were to accompany and partake?"
"Pardon me, sir," replied Charles, "my safety recommends that I remain
rather private at present."
"Enough said," Wildrake observed; "poor cavaliers must not stand on
ceremony. I see, sir, you understand cutter's law--when one tall fellow
has coin, another must not be thirsty. I wish you, sir, a continuance of
health and happiness until to-morrow, at the King's Oak, at six
"Farewell, sir," said the King, and added, as Wildrake went down the
stair whistling, "Hey for cavaliers," to which air his long rapier,
jarring against the steps and banisters, bore no unsuitable burden--
"Farewell, thou too just emblem of the state, to which war, and defeat,
and despair, have reduced many a gallant gentleman."
During the rest of the day, there occurred nothing peculiarly deserving
of notice. Alice sedulously avoided showing towards the disguised Prince
any degree of estrangement or shyness, which could be discovered by her
father, or by any one else. To all appearance, the two young persons
continued on the same footing in every respect. Yet she made the gallant
himself sensible, that this apparent intimacy was assumed merely to save
appearances, and in no way designed as retracting from the severity with
which she had rejected his suit. The sense that this was the case,
joined to his injured self-love, and his enmity against a successful
rival, induced Charles early to withdraw himself to a solitary walk in
the wilderness, where, like Hercules in the Emblem of Cebes, divided
betwixt the personifications of Virtue and of Pleasure, he listened
alternately to the voice of Wisdom and of passionate Folly.
Prudence urged to him the importance of his own life to the future
prosecution of the great object in which he had for the present
miscarried--the restoration of monarchy in England, the rebuilding of
the throne, the regaining the crown of his father, the avenging his
death, and restoring to their fortunes and their country the numerous
exiles, who were suffering poverty and banishment on account of their
attachment to his cause. Pride too, or rather a just and natural sense
of dignity, displayed the unworthiness of a Prince descending to actual
personal conflict with a subject of any degree, and the ridicule which
would be thrown on his memory, should he lose his life for an obscure
intrigue by the hand of a private gentleman. What would his sage
counsellors, Nicholas and Hyde--what would his kind and wise governor,
the Marquis of Hertford, say to such an act of rashness and folly? Would
it not be likely to shake the allegiance of the staid and prudent
persons of the royalist party, since wherefore should they expose their
lives and estates to raise to the government of a kingdom a young man
who could not command his own temper? To this was to be added, the
consideration that even his success would add double difficulties to his
escape, which already seemed sufficiently precarious. If, stopping short
of death, he merely had the better of his antagonist, how did he know
that he might not seek revenge by delivering up to government the
malignant Louis Kerneguy, whose real character could not in that case
fail to be discovered?
These considerations strongly recommended to Charles that he should
clear himself of the challenge without fighting; and the reservation
under which he had accepted it, afforded him some opportunity of doing
But Passion also had her arguments, which she addressed to a temper
rendered irritable by recent distress and mortification. In the first
place, if he was a prince, he was also a gentleman, entitled to resent
as such, and obliged to give or claim the satisfaction expected on
occasion of differences among gentlemen. With Englishmen, she urged, he
could never lose interest by showing himself ready, instead of
sheltering himself under his royal birth and pretensions, to come
frankly forward and maintain what he had done or said on his own
responsibility. In a free nation, it seemed as if he would rather gain
than lose in the public estimation by a conduct which could not but seem
gallant and generous. Then a character for courage was far more
necessary to support his pretensions than any other kind of reputation;
and the lying under a challenge, without replying to it, might bring his
spirit into question. What would Villiers and Wilmot say of an intrigue,
in which he had allowed himself to be shamefully baffled by a country
girl, and had failed to revenge himself on his rival? The pasquinades
which they would compose, the witty sarcasms which they would circulate
on the occasion, would be harder to endure than the grave rebukes of
Hertford, Hyde, and Nicholas. This reflection, added to the stings of
youthful and awakened courage, at length fixed his resolution, and he
returned to Woodstock determined to keep his appointment, come of it
Perhaps there mingled with his resolution a secret belief that such a
rencontre would not prove fatal. He was in the flower of his youth,
active in all his exercises, and no way inferior to Colonel Everard, as
far as the morning's experiment had gone, in that of self-defence. At
least, such recollection might pass through his royal mind, as he hummed
to himself a well-known ditty, which he had picked up during his
residence in Scotland--
"A man may drink and not be drunk;
A man may fight and not be slain;
A man may kiss a bonnie lass,
And yet be welcome back again."
Meanwhile the busy and all-directing Dr. Rochecliffe had contrived to
intimate to Alice that she must give him a private audience, and she
found him by appointment in what was called the study, once filled with
ancient books, which, long since converted into cartridges, had made
more noise in the world at their final exit, than during the space which
had intervened betwixt that and their first publication. The Doctor
seated himself in a high-backed leathern easy-chair, and signed to Alice
to fetch a stool and sit down beside him.
"Alice," said the old man, taking her hand affectionately, "thou art a
good girl, a wise girl, a virtuous girl, one of those whose price is
above rubies--not that _rubies_ is the proper translation--but remind me
to tell you of that another time. Alice, thou knowest who this Louis
Kerneguy is--nay, hesitate not to me--I know every thing--I am well
aware of the whole matter. Thou knowest this honoured house holds the
Fortunes of England." Alice was about to answer. "Nay, speak not, but
listen to me, Alice--How does he bear himself towards you?"
Alice coloured with the deepest crimson. "I am a country-bred girl," she
said, "and his manners are too courtlike for me."
"Enough said--I know it all. Alice, he is exposed to a great danger
to-morrow, and you must be the happy means to prevent him."
"I prevent him!--how, and in what manner?" said Alice, in surprise. "It
is my duty, as a subject, to do anything--anything that may become my
Here she stopped, considerably embarrassed.
"Yes," continued the Doctor, "to-morrow he hath made an appointment--an
appointment with Markham Everard; the hour and place are set--six in the
morning, by the King's Oak. If they meet, one will probably fall."
"Now, may God forefend they should meet," said Alice, turning as
suddenly pale as she had previously reddened. "But harm cannot come of
it; Everard will never lift his sword against the King."
"For that," said Dr. Rochecliffe, "I would not warrant. But if that
unhappy young gentleman shall have still some reserve of the loyalty
which his general conduct entirely disavows, it would not serve us here;
for he knows not the King, but considers him merely as a cavalier, from
whom he has received injury."
"Let him know the truth, Doctor Rochecliffe, let him know it instantly,"
said Alice; "_he_ lift hand against the King, a fugitive and
defenceless! He is incapable of it. My life on the issue, he becomes
most active in his preservation."
"That is the thought of a maiden, Alice," answered the Doctor; "and, as
I fear, of a maiden whose wisdom is misled by her affections. It were
worse than treason to admit a rebel officer, the friend of the
arch-traitor Cromwell, into so great a secret. I dare not answer for
such rashness. Hammond was trusted by his father, and you know what came
"Then let my father know. He will meet Markham, or send to him,
representing the indignity done to him by attacking his guest."
"We dare not let your father into the secret who Louis Kerneguy really
is. I did but hint the possibility of Charles taking refuge at
Woodstock, and the rapture into which Sir Henry broke out, the
preparations for accommodation and the defence which he began to talk
of, plainly showed that the mere enthusiasm of his loyalty would have
led to a risk of discovery. It is you, Alice, who must save the hopes of
every true royalist."
"I!" answered Alice; "it is impossible.--Why cannot my father be induced
to interfere, as in behalf of his friend and guest, though he know him
as no other than Louis Kerneguy?"
"You have forgot your father's character, my young friend," said the
Doctor; "an excellent man, and the best of Christians, till there is a
clashing of swords, and then he starts up the complete martialist, as
deaf to every pacific reasoning as if he were a game-cock."
"You forget, Doctor Rochecliffe," said Alice, "that this very morning,
if I understand the thing aright, my father prevented them from
"Ay," answered the Doctor, "because he deemed himself bound to keep the
peace in the Royal-Park; but it was done with such regret, Alice, that,
should he find them at it again, I am clear to foretell he will only so
far postpone the combat as to conduct them to some unprivileged ground,
and there bid them tilt and welcome, while he regaled his eyes with a
scene so pleasing. No, Alice, it is you, and you only, who can help us
in this extremity."
"I see no possibility," said she, again colouring, "how I can be of the
"You must send a note," answered Dr. Rochecliffe, "to the King--a note
such as all women know how to write better than any man can teach
them--to meet you at the precise hour of the rendezvous. He will not
fail you, for I know his unhappy foible."
"Doctor Rochecliffe," said Alice gravely,--"you have known me from
infancy,--What have you seen in me to induce you to believe that I
should ever follow such unbecoming counsel?"
"And if you have known _me_ from infancy," retorted the Doctor, "what
have you seen of _me_ that you should suspect me of giving counsel to my
friend's daughter, which it would be misbecoming in her to follow? You
cannot be fool enough, I think, to suppose, that I mean you should carry
your complaisance farther than to keep him in discourse for an hour or
two, till I have all in readiness for his leaving this place, from which
I can frighten him by the terrors of an alleged search?--So, C. S.
mounts his horse and rides off, and Mistress Alice Lee has the honour of
"Yes, at the expense of my own reputation," said Alice, "and the risk of
an eternal stain on my family. You say you know all. What can the King
think of my appointing an assignation with him after what has passed,
and how will it be possible to disabuse him respecting the purpose of my
"I will disabuse him, Alice; I will explain the whole."
"Doctor Rochecliffe," said Alice, "you propose what is impossible. You
can do much by your ready wit and great wisdom; but if new-fallen snow
were once sullied, not all your art could wash it clean again; and it is
altogether the same with a maiden's reputation."
"Alice, my dearest child," said the Doctor, "bethink you that if I
recommended this means of saving the life of the King, at least rescuing
him from instant peril, it is because I see no other of which to avail
myself. If I bid you assume, even for a moment, the semblance of what is
wrong, it is but in the last extremity, and under circumstances which
cannot return--I will take the surest means to prevent all evil report
which can arise from what I recommend."
"Say not so, Doctor," said Alice; "better undertake to turn back the
Isis than to stop the course of calumny. The King will make boast to his
whole licentious court, of the ease with which, but for a sudden alarm,
he could have brought off Alice Lee as a paramour--the mouth which
confers honour on others, will then be the means to deprive me of mine.
Take a fitter course, one more becoming your own character and
profession. Do not lead him to fail in an engagement of honour, by
holding out the prospect of another engagement equally dishonourable,
whether false or true. Go to the King himself, speak to him, as the
servants of God have a right to speak, even to earthly sovereigns. Point
out to him the folly and the wickedness of the course he is about to
pursue--urge upon him, that he fear the sword, since wrath bringeth the
punishment of the sword. Tell him, that the friends who died for him in
the field at Worcester, on the scaffolds, and on the gibbets, since that
bloody day--that the remnant who are in prison, scattered, fled, and
ruined on his account, deserve better of him and his father's race, than
that he should throw away his life in an idle brawl--Tell him, that it
is dishonest to venture that which is not his own, dishonourable to
betray the trust which brave men have reposed in his virtue and in his
Dr. Rochecliffe looked on her with a melancholy smile, his eyes
glistening as he said, "Alas! Alice, even I could not plead that just
cause to him so eloquently or so impressively as thou dost. But, alack!
Charles would listen to neither. It is not from priests or women, he
would say, that men should receive counsel in affairs of honour."
"Then, hear me, Doctor Rochecliffe--I will appear at the place of
rendezvous, and I will prevent the combat--do not fear that I can do
what I say--at a sacrifice, indeed, but not that of my reputation. My
heart may be broken"--she endeavoured to stifle her sobs with
difficulty--"for the consequence; but not in the imagination of a man,
and far less that man her sovereign, shall a thought of Alice Lee be
associated with dishonour." She hid her face in her handkerchief, and
burst out into unrestrained tears.
"What means this hysterical passion?" said Dr. Rochecliffe, surprised
and somewhat alarmed by the vehemence of her grief--"Maiden, I must have
no concealments; I must know."
"Exert your ingenuity, then, and discover it," said Alice--for a moment
put out of temper at the Doctor's pertinacious self-importance--"Guess
my purpose, as you can guess at every thing else. It is enough to have
to go through my task, I will not endure the distress of telling it
over, and that to one who--forgive me, dear Doctor--might not think my
agitation on this occasion fully warranted."
"Nay, then, my young mistress, you must be ruled," said Rochecliffe;
"and if I cannot make you explain yourself, I must see whether your
father can gain so far on you." So saying, he arose somewhat displeased,
and walked towards the door.
"You forget what you yourself told me, Doctor Rochecliffe," said Alice,
"of the risk of communicating this great secret to my father."
"It is too true," he said, stopping short and turning round; "and I
think, wench, thou art too smart for me, and I have not met many such.
But thou art a good girl, and wilt tell me thy device of free-will--it
concerns my character and influence with the King, that I should be
fully acquainted with whatever is _actum atque tractatum_, done and
treated of in this matter."
"Trust your character to me, good Doctor," said Alice, attempting to
smile; "it is of firmer stuff than those of women, and will be safer in
my custody than mine could have been in yours. And thus much I
condescend--you shall see the whole scene--you shall go with me
yourself, and much will I feel emboldened and heartened by your
"That is something," said the Doctor, though not altogether satisfied
with this limited confidence. "Thou wert ever a clever wench, and I will
trust thee; indeed, trust thee I find I must, whether voluntarily or
"Meet me, then," said Alice, "in the wilderness to-morrow. But first
tell me, are you well assured of time and place?--a mistake were fatal."
"Assure yourself my information is entirely accurate," said the Doctor,
resuming his air of consequence, which had been a little diminished
during the latter part of their conference.
"May I ask," said Alice, "through what channel you acquired such
"You may ask, unquestionably," he answered, now completely restored to
his supremacy; "but whether I will answer or not, is a very different
question. I conceive neither your reputation nor my own is interested in
your remaining in ignorance on that subject. So I have my secrets as
well as you, mistress; and some of them, I fancy, are a good deal more
"Be it so," said Alice, quietly; "if you will meet me in the wilderness
by the broken dial at half-past five exactly, we will go together
to-morrow, and watch them as they come to the rendezvous. I will on the
way get the better of my present timidity, and explain to you the means
I design to employ to prevent mischief. You can perhaps think of making
some effort which may render my interference, unbecoming and painful as
it must be, altogether unnecessary."
"Nay, my child," said the Doctor, "if you place yourself in my hands,
you will be the first that ever had reason to complain of my want of
conduct, and you may well judge you are the very last (one excepted)
whom I would see suffer for want of counsel. At half-past five, then, at
the dial in the wilderness--and God bless our undertaking!"
Here their interview was interrupted by the sonorous voice of Sir Henry
Lee, which shouted their names, "Daughter Alice--Doctor Rochecliffe,"
through passage and gallery.
"What do you here," said he, entering, "sitting like two crows in a
mist, when we have such rare sport below? Here is this wild
crack-brained boy Louis Kerneguy, now making me laugh till my sides are
fit to split, and now playing on his guitar sweetly enough to win a lark
from the heavens.--Come away with you, come away. It is hard work to
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-EIGHTH.
This is the place, the centre of the grove;
Here stands the oak, the monarch of the wood.
The sun had risen on the broad boughs of the forest, but without the
power of penetrating into its recesses, which hung rich with heavy
dewdrops, and were beginning on some of the trees to exhibit the varied
tints of autumn; it being the season when Nature, like a prodigal whose
race is well-nigh run, seems desirous to make up in profuse gaiety and
variety of colours, for the short space which her splendour has then to
endure. The birds were silent--and even Robin-redbreast, whose
chirruping song was heard among the bushes near the Lodge, emboldened by
the largesses with which the good old knight always encouraged his
familiarity, did not venture into the recesses of the wood, where he
encountered the sparrow-hawk, and other enemies of a similar
description, preferring the vicinity of the dwellings of man, from whom
he, almost solely among the feathered tribes, seems to experience
The scene was therefore at once lovely and silent, when the good Dr.
Rochecliffe, wrapped in a scarlet roquelaure, which had seen service in
its day, muffling his face more from habit than necessity, and
supporting Alice on his arm, (she also defended by a cloak against the
cold and damp of the autumn morning,) glided through the tangled and
long grass of the darkest alleys, almost ankle-deep in dew, towards the
place appointed for the intended duel. Both so eagerly maintained the
consultation in which they were engaged, that they were alike insensible
of the roughness and discomforts of the road, though often obliged to
force their way through brushwood and coppice, which poured down on them
all the liquid pearls with which they were loaded, till the mantles they
were wrapped in hung lank by their sides, and clung to their shoulders
heavily charged with moisture. They stopped when they had attained a
station under the coppice, and shrouded by it, from which they could see
all that passed on the little esplanade before the King's Oak, whose
broad and scathed form, contorted and shattered limbs, and frowning
brows, made it appear like some ancient war-worn champion, well selected
to be the umpire of a field of single combat.
The first person who appeared at the rendezvous was the gay cavalier
Roger Wildrake. He also was wrapped in his cloak, but had discarded his
puritanic beaver, and wore in its stead a Spanish hat, with a feather
and gilt hatband, all of which had encountered bad weather and hard
service; but to make amends for the appearance of poverty by the show of
pretension, the castor was accurately adjusted after what was rather
profanely called the d--me cut, used among the more desperate cavaliers.
He advanced hastily, and exclaimed aloud--"First in the field after all,
by Jove, though I bilked Everard in order to have my morning draught.--
It has done me much good," he added, smacking his lips.--"Well, I
suppose I should search the ground ere my principal comes up, whose
Presbyterian watch trudges as slow as his Presbyterian step."
He took his rapier from under his cloak, and seemed about to search the
"I will prevent him," whispered the Doctor to Alice. "I will keep faith
with you--you shall not come on the scene--_nisi dignus vindice nodus_--
I'll explain that another time. _Vindex_ is feminine as well as
masculine, so the quotation is defensible.--Keep you close."
So saying, he stepped forward on the esplanade, and bowed to Wildrake.
"Master Louis Kerneguy," said Wildrake, pulling off his hat; but
instantly discovering his error, he added, "But no--I beg your pardon,
sir--Fatter, shorter, older.--Mr. Kerneguy's friend, I suppose, with
whom I hope to have a turn by and by.--And why not now, sir, before our
principals come up? Just a snack to stay the orifice of the stomach,
till the dinner is served, sir? What say you?"
"To open the orifice of the stomach more likely, or to give it a new
one," said the Doctor.
"True, sir," said Roger, who seemed now in his element; "you say
well--that is as thereafter may be.--But come, sir, you wear your face
muffled. I grant you, it is honest men's fashion at this unhappy time;
the more is the pity. But we do all above board--we have no traitors
here. I'll get into my gears first, to encourage you, and show you that
you have to deal with a gentleman, who honours the King, and is a match
fit to fight with any who follow him, as doubtless you do, sir, since
you are the friend of Master Louis Kerneguy."
All this while, Wildrake was busied undoing the clasps of his
"Off--off, ye lendings," he said, "borrowings I should more properly
So saying, he threw the cloak from him, and appeared in cuerpo, in a
most cavalier-like doublet, of greasy crimson satin, pinked and slashed
with what had been once white tiffany; breeches of the same; and
nether-stocks, or, as we now call them, stockings, darned in many
places, and which, like those of Poins, had been once peach-coloured. A
pair of pumps, ill calculated for a walk through the dew, and a broad
shoulderbelt of tarnished embroidery, completed his equipment.
"Come, sir!" he exclaimed; "make haste, off with your slough--Here I
stand tight and true--as loyal a lad as ever stuck rapier through a
roundhead.--Come, sir, to your tools!" he continued; "we may have
half-a-dozen thrusts before they come yet, and shame them for their
tardiness.--Pshaw!" he exclaimed, in a most disappointed tone, when the
Doctor, unfolding his cloak, showed his clerical dress; "Tush! it's but
the parson after all!"
Wildrake's respect for the Church, however, and his desire to remove one
who might possibly interrupt a scene to which he looked forward with
peculiar satisfaction, induced him presently to assume another tone.
"I beg pardon," he said, "my dear Doctor--I kiss the hem of your
cassock--I do, by the thundering Jove--I beg your pardon again.--But I
am happy I have met with you--They are raving for your presence at the
Lodge--to marry, or christen, or bury, or confess, or something very
urgent.--For Heaven's sake, make haste!"
"At the Lodge?" said the Doctor; "why, I left the Lodge this instant--I
was there later, I am sure, than you could be, who came the Woodstock
"Well," replied Wildrake, "it is at Woodstock they want you.--Rat it,
did I say the Lodge?--No, no--Woodstock--Mine host cannot be hanged--his
daughter married--his bastard christened, or his wife buried--without
the assistance of a _real_ clergyman--Your Holdenoughs won't do for
them.--He's a true man mine host; so, as you value your function, make
"You will pardon me, Master Wildrake," said the Doctor--"I wait for
Master Louis Kerneguy."
"The devil you do!" exclaimed Wildrake. "Why, I always knew the Scots
could do nothing without their minister; but d--n it, I never thought
they put them to this use neither. But I have known jolly customers in
orders, who understood how to handle the sword as well as their
prayer-book. You know the purpose of our meeting, Doctor. Do you come
only as a ghostly comforter--or as a surgeon, perhaps--or do you ever
take bilboa in hand?--Sa--sa!"
Here he made a fencing demonstration with his sheathed rapier.
"I have done so, sir, on necessary occasion," said Dr. Rochecliffe.
"Good sir, let this stand for a necessary one," said Wildrake. "You know
my devotion for the Church. If a divine of your skill would do me the
honour to exchange but three passes with me, I should think myself happy
"Sir," said Rochecliffe, smiling, "were there no other objection to what
you propose, I have not the means--I have no weapon."
"What? you want the _de quoi_? that is unlucky indeed. But you have a
stout cane in your hand--what hinders our trying a pass (my rapier being
sheathed of course) until our principals come up? My pumps are full of
this frost-dew; and I shall be a toe or two out of pocket, if I am to
stand still all the time they are stretching themselves; for, I fancy,
Doctor, you are of my opinion, that the matter will not be a fight of
"My business here is to make it, if possible, be no fight at all," said
"Now, rat me, Doctor, but that is too spiteful," said Wildrake; "and
were it not for my respect for the Church, I could turn Presbyterian, to
"Stand back a little, if you please, sir," said the Doctor; "do not
press forward in that direction."--For Wildrake, in the agitation of his
movements, induced by his disappointment, approached the spot where
Alice remained still concealed.
"And wherefore not, I pray you, Doctor?" said the cavalier.
But on advancing a step, he suddenly stopped short, and muttered to
himself, with a round oath of astonishment, "A petticoat in the coppice,
by all that is reverend, and at this hour in the morning--
_Whew--ew--ew_!"--He gave vent to his surprise in a long low
interjectional whistle; then turning to the Doctor, with his finger on
the side of his nose, "You're sly, Doctor, d--d sly! But why not give me
a hint of your--your commodity there--your contraband goods? Gad, sir, I
am not a man to expose the eccentricities of the Church."
"Sir," said Dr. Rochecliffe, "you are impertinent; and if time served,
and it were worth my while, I would chastise you."
And the Doctor, who had served long enough in the wars to have added
some of the qualities of a captain of horse to those of a divine,
actually raised his cane, to the infinite delight of the rake, whose
respect for the Church was by no means able to subdue his love of
"Nay, Doctor," said he, "if you wield your weapon broadsword-fashion, in
that way, and raise it as high as your head, I shall be through you in a
twinkling." So saying, he made a pass with his sheathed rapier, not
precisely at the Doctor's person, but in that direction; when
Rochecliffe, changing the direction of his cane from the broadsword
guard to that of the rapier, made the cavalier's sword spring ten yards
out of his hand, with all the dexterity of my friend Francalanza. At
this moment both the principal parties appeared on the field.
Everard exclaimed angrily to Wildrake, "Is this your friendship? In
Heaven's name, what make you in that fool's jacket, and playing the
pranks of a jack-pudding?" while his worthy second, somewhat
crest-fallen, held down his head, like a boy caught in roguery, and went
to pick up his weapon, stretching his head, as he passed, into the
coppice, to obtain another glimpse, if possible, of the concealed object
of his curiosity.
Charles in the meantime, still more surprised at what he beheld, called
out on his part--"What! Doctor Rochecliffe become literally one of the
church militant, and tilting with my friend cavalier Wildrake? May I use
the freedom to ask him to withdraw, as Colonel Everard and I have some
private business to settle?"
It was Dr. Rochecliffe's cue, on this important occasion, to have armed
himself with the authority of his sacred office, and used a tone of
interference which might have overawed even a monarch, and made him feel
that his monitor spoke by a warrant higher than his own. But the
indiscreet latitude he had just given to his own passion, and the levity
in which he had been detected, were very unfavourable to his assuming
that superiority, to which so uncontrollable a spirit as that of
Charles, wilful as a prince, and capricious as a wit, was at all likely
to submit. The Doctor did, however, endeavour to rally his dignity, and
replied, with the gravest, and at the same time the most respectful,
tone he could assume, that he also had business of the most urgent
nature, which prevented him from complying with Master Kerneguy's wishes
and leaving the spot.
"Excuse this untimely interruption," said Charles, taking off his hat,
and bowing to Colonel Everard, "which I will immediately put an end to."
Everard gravely returned his salute, and was silent.
"Are you mad, Doctor Rochecliffe?" said Charles--"or are you deaf?--or
have you forgotten your mother-tongue? I desired you to leave this
"I am not mad," said the divine, rousing up his resolution, and
regaining the natural firmness of his voice--"I would prevent others
from being so; I am not deaf--I would pray others to hear the voice of
reason and religion; I have not forgotten my mother-tongue--but I have
come hither to speak the language of the Master of kings and princes."
"To fence with broomsticks, I should rather suppose," said the King--
"Come, Doctor Rochecliffe, this sudden fit of assumed importance befits
you as little as your late frolic. You are not, I apprehend, either a
Catholic priest or a Scotch Mass-John to claim devoted obedience from
your hearers, but a Church-of-England-man, subject to the rules of that
Communion--and to its HEAD." In speaking the last words, the King
lowered his voice to a low and impressive whisper. Everard observing
this drew back, the natural generosity of his temper directing him to
avoid overhearing private discourse, in which the safety of the speakers
might be deeply concerned. They continued, however, to observe great
caution in their forms of expression.
"Master Kerneguy," said the clergyman, "it is not I who assume authority
or control over your wishes--God forbid; I do but tell you what reason,
Scripture, religion, and morality, alike prescribe for your rule of
"And I, Doctor," said the King, smiling, and pointing to the unlucky
cane, "will take your example rather than your precept. If a reverend
clergyman will himself fight a bout at single-stick, what right can he
have to interfere in gentlemen's quarrels?--Come, sir, remove yourself,
and do not let your present obstinacy cancel former obligations."
"Bethink yourself," said the divine,--"I can say one word which will
prevent all this."
"Do it," replied the King, "and in doing so belie the whole tenor and
actions of an honourable life--abandon the principles of your Church,
and become a perjured traitor and an apostate, to prevent another person
from discharging his duty as a gentleman! This were indeed killing your
friend to prevent the risk of his running himself into danger. Let the
Passive Obedience, which is so often in your mouth, and no doubt in your
head, put your feet for once into motion, and step aside for ten
minutes. Within that space your assistance may be needed, either as
body-curer or soul-curer."
"Nay, then," said Dr. Rochecliffe, "I have but one argument left."
While this conversation was carried on apart, Everard had almost
forcibly detained by his own side his follower, Wildrake, whose greater
curiosity, and lesser delicacy, would otherwise have thrust him forward,
to get, if possible, into the secret. But when he saw the Doctor turn
into the coppice, he whispered eagerly to Everard--"A gold Carolus to a
commonwealth farthing, the Doctor has not only come to preach a peace,
but has brought the principal conditions along with him!"
Everard made no answer; he had already unsheathed his sword; and Charles
hardly saw Rochecliffe's back fairly turned, than he lost no time in
following his example. But, ere they had done more than salute each
other, with the usual courteous nourish of their weapons, Dr.
Rochecliffe again stood between them, leading in his hand Alice Lee, her
garments dank with dew, and her long hair heavy with moisture, and
totally uncurled. Her face was extremely pale, but it was the paleness
of desperate resolution, not of fear. There was a dead pause of
astonishment--the combatants rested on their swords--and even the
forwardness of Wildrake only vented itself in half-suppressed
ejaculations, as, "Well done, Doctor--this beats the 'parson among the
pease'--No less than your patron's daughter--And Mistress Alice, whom I
thought a very snowdrop, turned out a dog-violet after all--a
Lindabrides, by heavens, and altogether one of ourselves."
Excepting these unheeded mutterings, Alice was the first to speak.
"Master Everard," she said--"Master Kerneguy, you are surprised to see
me here--Yet, why should I not tell the reason at once? Convinced that I
am, however guiltlessly, the unhappy cause of your misunderstanding, I
am too much interested to prevent fatal consequences to pause upon any
step which may end it.--Master Kerneguy, have my wishes, my entreaties,
my prayers--have your noble thoughts--the recollections of your own high
duties, no weight with you in this matter? Let me entreat you to consult
reason, religion, and common sense, and return your weapon."
"I am obedient as an Eastern slave, madam," answered Charles, sheathing
his sword; "but I assure you, the matter about which you distress
yourself is a mere trifle, which will be much better settled betwixt
Colonel Everard and myself in five minutes, than with the assistance of
the whole Convocation of the Church, with a female parliament to assist
their reverend deliberations.--Mr. Everard, will you oblige me by
walking a little farther?--We must change ground, it seems."
"I am ready to attend you, sir," said Everard, who had sheathed his
sword so soon as his antagonist did so.
"I have then no interest with you, sir," said Alice, continuing to
address the King--"Do you not fear I should use the secret in my power
to prevent this affair going to extremity? Think you this gentleman, who
raises his hand against you, if he knew"--
"If he knew that I were Lord Wilmot, you would say?--Accident has given
him proof to that effect, with which he is already satisfied, and I
think you would find it difficult to induce him to embrace a different
Alice paused, and looked on the King with great indignation, the
following words dropping from her mouth by intervals, as if they burst
forth one by one in spite of feelings that would have restrained
them--"Cold--selfish--ungrateful--unkind!--Woe to the land which"--Here
she paused with marked emphasis, then added--"which shall number thee,
or such as thee, among her nobles and rulers!"
"Nay, fair Alice," said Charles, whose good nature could not but feel
the severity of this reproach, though too slightly to make all the
desired impression, "You are too unjust to me--too partial to a happier
man. Do not call me unkind; I am but here to answer Mr. Everard's
summons. I could neither decline attending, nor withdraw now I am here,
without loss of honour; and my loss of honour would be a disgrace which
must extend to many--I cannot fly from Mr. Everard--it would be too
shameful. If he abides by his message, it must be decided as such
affairs usually are. If he retreats or yields it up, I will, for your
sake, wave punctilio. I will not even ask an apology for the trouble it
has afforded me, but let all pass as if it were the consequence of some
unhappy mistake, the grounds of which shall remain on my part unenquired
into.--This I will do for your sake, and it is much for a man of honour
to condescend so far--You know that the condescension from me in
particular is great indeed. Then do not call me ungenerous, or
ungrateful, or unkind, since I am ready to do all, which, as a man, I
can do, and more perhaps than as a man of honour I ought to do."
"Do you hear this, Markham Everard?" exclaimed Alice--"do you hear
this?--The dreadful option is left entirely at your disposal. You were
wont to be temperate in passion, religious, forgiving--will you, for a
mere punctilio, drive on this private and unchristian broil to a
murderous extremity? Believe me, if you now, contrary to all the better
principles of your life, give the reins to your passions, the
consequences may be such as you will rue for your lifetime, and even, if
Heaven have not mercy, rue after your life is finished."
Markham Everard remained for a moment gloomily silent,--with his eyes
fixed on the ground. At length he looked up, and answered her--"Alice,
you are a soldier's daughter--a soldier's sister. All your relations,
even including one whom you then entertained some regard for, have been
made soldiers by these unhappy discords. Yet you have seen them take the
field--in some instances on contrary sides, to do their duty where their
principles called them, without manifesting this extreme degree of
He continued, "However, what is the true concern here is our relations
with your own self, and mine is with this gentleman's interest in you. I
had expected that our disagreement could be dealt with as men dispute
matters of honor. With your intrusion this cannot be done. I have few
other options for politely resolving this, for you would surely hate the
one who killed the other, to the loss of us both. Therefore," addressing
Charles, "in the interest of avoid this fate, I am forced to yield my
interest in her to you; and, as I will never be the means of giving her
pain, I trust you will not think I act unworthily in retracting the
letter which gave you the trouble of attending this place at this
hour.--Alice," he said, turning his head towards her, "Farewell, Alice,
at once, and for ever!"
The poor young lady, whose adventitious spirit had almost deserted her,
attempted to repeat the word farewell, but failing in the attempt, only
accomplished a broken and imperfect sound, and would have sunk to the
ground, but for Dr. Rochecliffe, who caught her as she fell. Roger
Wildrake, also, who had twice or thrice put to his eyes what remained of
a kerchief, interested by the lady's evident distress, though unable to
comprehend the mysterious cause, hastened to assist the divine in
supporting so fair a burden.
Meanwhile, the disguised Prince had beheld the whole in silence, but
with an agitation to which he was unwonted, and which his swarthy
features, and still more his motions, began to betray. His posture was
at first absolutely stationary, with his arms folded on his bosom, as
one who waits to be guided by the current of events; presently after, he
shifted his position, advanced and retired his foot, clenched and opened
his hand, and otherwise showed symptoms that he was strongly agitated by
contending feelings--was on the point, too, of forming some sudden
resolution, and yet still in uncertainty what course he should pursue.
But when he saw Markham Everard, after one look of unspeakable anguish
towards Alice, turning his back to depart, he broke out into his
familiar ejaculation, "Oddsfish! this must not be." In three strides he
overtook the slowly retiring Everard, tapped him smartly on the
shoulder, and, as he turned round, said, with an air of command, which
he well knew how to adopt at pleasure, "One word with you, sir."
"At your pleasure, sir," replied Everard; and naturally conjecturing the
purpose of his antagonist to be hostile, took hold of his rapier with
the left hand, and laid the right on the hilt, not displeased at the
supposed call; for anger is at least as much akin to disappointment as
pity is said to be to love.
"Pshaw!" answered the King, "that cannot be _now_--Colonel Everard, I am
Everard recoiled in the greatest surprise, and next
exclaimed, "Impossible--it cannot be! The King of Scots has escaped from
Bristol.--My Lord Wilmot, your talents for intrigue are well known; but
this will not pass upon me."
"The King of Scots, Master Everard," replied Charles, "since you are so
pleased to limit his sovereignty--at any rate, the Eldest Son of the
late Sovereign of Britain--is now before you; therefore it is impossible
he could have escaped from Bristol. Doctor Rochecliffe shall be my
voucher, and will tell you, moreover, that Wilmot is of a fair
complexion and light hair; mine, you may see, is swart as a raven."
Rochecliffe, seeing what was passing, abandoned Alice to the care of
Wildrake, whose extreme delicacy in the attempts he made to bring her
back to life, formed an amiable contrast to his usual wildness, and
occupied him so much, that he remained for the moment ignorant of the
disclosure in which he would have been so much interested. As for Dr.
Rochecliffe, he came forward, wringing his hands in all the
demonstration of extreme anxiety, and with the usual exclamations
attending such a state.
"Peace, Doctor Rochecliffe!" said the King, with such complete
self-possession as indeed became a prince; "we are in the hands, I am
satisfied, of a man of honour. Master Everard must be pleased in finding
only a fugitive prince in the person in whom he thought he had
discovered a successful rival. He cannot but be aware of the feelings
which prevented me from taking advantage of the cover which this young
lady's devoted loyalty afforded me, at the risk of her own happiness. He
is the party who is to profit by my candour; and certainly I have a
right to expect that my condition, already indifferent enough, shall not
be rendered worse by his becoming privy to it under such circumstances.
At any rate, the avowal is made; and it is for Colonel Everard to
consider how he is to conduct himself."
"Oh, your Majesty! my Liege! my King! my royal Prince!" exclaimed
Wildrake, who, at length discovering what was passing, had crawled on
his knees, and seizing the King's hand, was kissing it, more like a
child mumbling gingerbread, or like a lover devouring the yielded hand
of his mistress, than in the manner in which such salutations pass at
court--"If my dear friend Mark Everard should prove a dog on this
occasion, rely on me I will cut his throat on the spot, were I to do the
same for myself the moment afterwards!"
"Hush, hush, my good friend and loyal subject," said the King, "and
compose yourself; for though I am obliged to put on the Prince for a
moment, we have not privacy or safety to receive our subjects in King
Everard, who had stood for a time utterly confounded, awoke at length
like a man from a dream.
"Sire," he said, bowing low, and with profound deference, "if I do not
offer you the homage of a subject with knee and sword, it is because
God, by whom kings reign, has denied you for the present the power of
ascending your throne without rekindling civil war. For your safety
being endangered by me, let not such an imagination for an instant cross
your mind. Had I not respected your person--were I not bound to you for
the candour with which your noble avowal has prevented the misery of my
future life, your misfortunes would have rendered your person as sacred,
so far as I can protect it, as it could be esteemed by the most devoted
royalist in the kingdom. If your plans are soundly considered, and
securely laid, think that all which is now passed is but a dream. If
they are in such a state that I can aid them, saving my duty to the
Commonwealth, which will permit me to be privy to no schemes of actual
violence, your Majesty may command my services."
"It may be I may be troublesome to you, sir," said the King; "for my
fortunes are not such as to permit me to reject even the most limited
offers of assistance; but if I can, I will dispense with applying to
you. I would not willingly put any man's compassion at war with his
sense of duty on my account.--Doctor, I think there will be no farther
tilting to-day, either with sword or cane; so we may as well return to
the Lodge, and leave these"--looking at Alice and Everard--"who may have
more to say in explanation."
"No--no!" exclaimed Alice, who was now perfectly come to herself, and
partly by her own observation, and partly from the report of Dr.
Rochecliffe, comprehended all that had taken place--"My cousin Everard
and I have nothing to explain; he will forgive me for having riddled
with him when I dared not speak plainly; and I forgive him for having
read my riddle wrong. But my father has my promise--we must not
correspond or converse for the present--I return instantly to the Lodge,
and he to Woodstock, unless you, sire," bowing to the King, "command his
duty otherwise. Instant to the town, Cousin Markham; and if danger
should approach, give us warning."
Everard would have delayed her departure, would have excused himself for
his unjust suspicion, would have said a thousand things; but she would
not listen to him, saying, for all other answer,--"Farewell, Markham,
till God send better days!"
"She is an angel of truth and beauty," said Roger Wildrake; "and I, like
a blasphemous heretic, called her a Lindabrides!" [Footnote: A sort of
court name for a female of no reputation.] But has your Majesty, craving
your pardon, no commands for poor Hodge Wildrake, who will blow out his
own or any other man's brains in England, to do your Grace a pleasure?"
"We entreat our good friend Wildrake to do nothing hastily," said
Charles, smiling; "such brains as his are rare, and should not be rashly
dispersed, as the like may not be easily collected. We recommend him to
be silent and prudent--to tilt no more with loyal clergymen of the
Church of England, and to get himself a new jacket with all convenient
speed, to which we beg to contribute our royal aid. When fit time comes,
we hope to find other service for him."
As he spoke, he slid ten pieces into the hand of poor Wildrake, who,
confounded with the excess of his loyal gratitude, blubbered like a
child, and would have followed the King, had not Dr. Rochecliffe, in few
words, but peremptory, insisted that he should return with his patron,
promising him he should certainly be employed in assisting the King's
escape, could an opportunity be found of using his services.
"Be so generous, reverend sir, and you bind me to you for ever," said
the cavalier; "and I conjure you not to keep malice against me on
account of the foolery you wot of."
"I have no occasion, Captain Wildrake," said the Doctor, "for I think I
had the best of it."
"Well, then, Doctor, I forgive you on my part: and I pray you, for
Christian charity, let me have a finger in this good service; for as I
live in hope of it, rely that I shall die of disappointment."
While the Doctor and soldier thus spoke together, Charles took leave of
Everard, (who remained uncovered while he spoke to him,) with his usual
grace--"I need not bid you no longer be jealous of me," said the King;
"for I presume you will scarce think of a match betwixt Alice and me,
which would be too losing a one on her side. For other thoughts, the
wildest libertine could not entertain them towards so high-minded a
creature; and believe me, that my sense of her merit did not need this
last distinguished proof of her truth and loyalty. I saw enough of her
from her answers to some idle sallies of gallantry, to know with what a
lofty character she is endowed. Mr. Everard, her happiness I see depends
on you, and I trust you will be the careful guardian of it. If we can
take any obstacle out of the way of your joint happiness, be assured we
will use our influence.--Farewell, sir; if we cannot be better friends,
do not at least let us entertain harder or worse thoughts of each other
than we have now."
There was something in the manner of Charles that was extremely
affecting; something too, in his condition as a fugitive in the kingdom
which was his own by inheritance, that made a direct appeal to Everard's
bosom--though in contradiction to the dictates of that policy which he
judged it his duty to pursue in the distracted circumstances of the
country. He remained, as we have said, uncovered; and in his manner
testified the highest expression of reverence, up to the point when such
might seem a symbol of allegiance. He bowed so low as almost to approach
his lips to the hand of Charles--but he did not kiss it.--"I would
rescue your person, sir," he said, "with the purchase of my own life.
More"--He stopped short, and the King took up his sentence where it
broke off--"More you cannot do," said Charles, "to maintain an
honourable consistency--but what you have said is enough. You cannot
render homage to my proffered hand as that of a sovereign, but you will
not prevent my taking yours as a friend--if you allow me to call myself
so--I am sure, as a well-wisher at least."
The generous soul of Everard was touched--He took the King's hand, and
pressed it to his lips.
"Oh!" he said, "were better times to come"--
"Bind yourself to nothing, dear Everard," said the good-natured Prince,
partaking his emotion--"We reason ill while our feelings are moved. I
will recruit no man to his loss, nor will I have my fallen fortunes
involve those of others, because they have humanity enough to pity my
present condition. If better times come, why we will meet again, and I
hope to our mutual satisfaction. If not, as your future father-in-law
would say," (a benevolent smile came over his face, and accorded not
unmeetly with his glistening eyes,)--"If not, this parting was well
Everard turned away with a deep bow, almost choking under contending
feelings; the uppermost of which was a sense of the generosity with
which Charles, at his own imminent risk, had cleared away the darkness
that seemed about to overwhelm his prospects of happiness for life--
mixed with a deep sense of the perils by which he was environed. He
returned to the little town, followed by his attendant Wildrake, who
turned back so often, with weeping eyes, and hands clasped and uplifted
as supplicating Heaven, that Everard was obliged to remind him that his
gestures might be observed by some one, and occasion suspicion.
The generous conduct of the King during the closing part of this
remarkable scene, had not escaped Alice's notice; and, erasing at once
from her mind all resentment of Charles's former conduct, and all the
suspicions they had deservedly excited, awakened in her bosom a sense of
the natural goodness of his disposition, which permitted her to unite
regard for his person, with that reverence for his high office in which
she had been educated as a portion of her creed. She felt convinced, and
delighted with the conviction, that his virtues were his own, his
libertinism the fault of education, or rather want of education, and the
corrupting advice of sycophants and flatterers. She could not know, or
perhaps did not in that moment consider, that in a soil where no care is
taken to eradicate tares, they will outgrow and smother the wholesome
seed, even if the last is more natural to the soil. For, as Dr.
Rochecliffe informed her afterwards for her edification, promising, as
was his custom, to explain the precise words on some future occasion, if
she would put him in mind--_Virtus rectorem ducemque desiderat; Vitia
sine magistro discuntur_. [Footnote: The quotations of the learned
doctor and antiquary were often left uninterpreted, though seldom
incommunicated, owing to his contempt for those who did not understand
the learned languages, and his dislike to the labour of translation, for
the benefit of ladies and of country gentlemen. That fair readers and
country thanes may not on this occasion burst in ignorance, we add the
meaning of the passage in the text--"Virtue requires the aid of a
governor and director; vices are learned without a teacher."] There was
no room for such reflections at present. Conscious of mutual sincerity,
by a sort of intellectual communication, through which individuals are
led to understand each other better, perhaps, in delicate circumstances,
than by words, reserve and simulation appeared to be now banished from
the intercourse between the King and Alice. With manly frankness, and,
at the same time, with princely condescension, he requested her,
exhausted as she was, to accept of his arm on the way homeward, instead
of that of Dr. Rochecliffe; and Alice accepted of his support with
modest humility, but without a shadow of mistrust or fear. It seemed as
if the last half hour had satisfied them perfectly with the character of
each other, and that each had full conviction of the purity and
sincerity of the other's intentions.
Dr. Rochecliffe, in the meantime, had fallen some four or five paces
behind; for, less light and active than Alice, (who had, besides, the
assistance of the King's support,) he was unable, without effort and
difficulty, to keep up with the pace of Charles, who then was, as we
have elsewhere noticed, one of the best walkers in England, and was
sometimes apt to forget (as great men will) that others were inferior to
him in activity.
"Dear Alice," said the King, but as if the epithet were entirely
fraternal, "I like your Everard much--I would to God he were of our
determination--But since that cannot be, I am sure he will prove a
generous enemy." "May it please you, sire," said Alice, modestly, but
with some firmness, "my cousin will never be your Majesty's personal
enemy--and he is one of the few on whose slightest word you may rely
more than on the oath of those who profess more strongly and formally.
He is utterly incapable of abusing your Majesty's most generous and
"On my honour, I believe so, Alice," replied the King: "But oddsfish! my
girl, let Majesty sleep for the present--it concerns my safety, as I
told your brother lately--Call me sir, then, which belongs alike to
king, peer, knight, and gentleman--or rather let me be wild Louis
Kerneguy again." Alice looked down, and shook her head. "That cannot be,
please your Majesty."
"What! Louis was a saucy companion--a naughty presuming boy--and you
cannot abide him?--Well, perhaps you are right--But we will wait for Dr.
Rochecliffe"--he said, desirous, with good-natured delicacy, to make
Alice aware that he had no purpose of engaging her in any discussion
which could recall painful ideas. They paused accordingly, and again she
felt relieved and grateful.
"I cannot persuade our fair friend, Mistress Alice, Doctor," said the
King, "that she must, in prudence, forbear using titles of respect to
me, while there are such very slender means of sustaining them."
"It is a reproach to earth and to fortune," answered the divine, as fast
as his recovered breath would permit him, "that your most sacred
Majesty's present condition should not accord with the rendering of
those honours which are your own by birth, and which, with God's
blessing on the efforts of your loyal subjects, I hope to see rendered
to you as your hereditary right, by the universal voice of the three
"True, Doctor," replied the King; "but, in the meanwhile, can you
expound to Mistress Alice Lee two lines of Horace, which I have carried
in my thick head several years, till now they have come pat to my
purpose. As my canny subjects of Scotland say, If you keep a thing seven
years you are sure to find a use for it at last--_Telephus_--ay, so it
'Telephus et Peleus, cum pauper et exul uterque,
Projicit ampullas et sesquipedalia verba.'"
"I will explain the passage to Mistress Alice," said the Doctor, "when
she reminds me of it--or rather," (he added, recollecting that his
ordinary dilatory answer on such occasions ought not to be returned when
the order for exposition emanated from his Sovereign,) "I will repeat a
poor couplet from my own translation of the poem--
'Heroes and kings, in exile forced to roam.
Leave swelling phrase and seven-leagued words at home.'"
"A most admirable version, Doctor," said Charles; "I feel all its force,
and particularly the beautiful rendering of sesquipedalia verba into
seven-leagued boots--words I mean--it reminds me, like half the things I
meet with in this world, of the _Contes de Commère L'Oye_." [Footnote:
Tales of Mother Goose.]
Thus conversing they reached the Lodge; and as the King went to his
chamber to prepare for the breakfast summons, now impending, the idea
crossed his mind, "Wilmot, and Villiers, and Killigrew, would laugh at
me, did they hear of a campaign in which neither man nor woman had been
conquered--But, oddsfish! let them laugh as they will, there is
something at my heart which tells me, that for once in my life I have
That day and the next were spent in tranquillity, the King waiting
impatiently for the intelligence, which was to announce to him that a
vessel was prepared somewhere on the coast. None such was yet in
readiness; but he learned that the indefatigable Albert Lee was, at
great personal risk, traversing the sea-coast from town to village, and
endeavouring to find means of embarkation among the friends of the royal
cause, and the correspondents of Dr. Rochecliffe.
* * * * *
CHAPTER THE TWENTY-NINTH.
Ruffian, let go that rude uncivil touch!
TWO GENTLEMEN OF VERONA.
At this time we should give some account of the other actors in our
drama, the interest due to the principal personages having for some time
engrossed our attention exclusively.
We are, therefore, to inform the reader, that the lingering longings of
the Commissioners, who had been driven forth of their proposed paradise
of Woodstock, not by a cherub indeed, but, as they thought, by spirits
of another sort, still detained them in the vicinity. They had, indeed,
left the little borough under pretence of indifferent accommodation. The
more palpable reasons were, that they entertained some resentment
against Everard, as the means of their disappointment, and had no mind
to reside where their proceedings could be overlooked by him, although
they took leave in terms of the utmost respect. They went, however, no
farther than Oxford, and remained there, as ravens, who are accustomed
to witness the chase, sit upon a tree or crag, at a little distance, and
watch the disembowelling of the deer, expecting the relics which fall to
their share. Meantime, the University and City, but especially the
former, supplied them with some means of employing their various
faculties to advantage, until the expected moment, when, as they hoped,
they should either be summoned to Windsor, or Woodstock should once more
be abandoned to their discretion.
Bletson, to pass the time, vexed the souls of such learned and pious
divines and scholars, as he could intrude his hateful presence upon, by
sophistry, atheistical discourse, and challenges to them to impugn the
most scandalous theses. Desborough, one of the most brutally ignorant
men of the period, got himself nominated the head of a college, and lost
no time in cutting down trees, and plundering plate. As for Harrison, he
preached in full uniform in Saint Mary's Church, wearing his buff-coat,
boots, and spurs, as if he were about to take the field for the fight at
Armageddon. And it was hard to say, whether the seat of Learning,
Religion, and Loyalty, as it is called by Clarendon, was more vexed by
the rapine of Desborough, the cold scepticism of Bletson, or the frantic
enthusiasm of the Fifth-Monarchy Champion.
Ever and anon, soldiers, under pretence of relieving guard, or
otherwise, went and came betwixt Woodstock and Oxford, and maintained,
it may be supposed, a correspondence with Trusty Tomkins, who, though he
chiefly resided in the town of Woodstock, visited the Lodge
occasionally, and to whom, therefore, they doubtless trusted for
information concerning the proceedings there.
Indeed, this man Tomkins seemed by some secret means to have gained the
confidence in part, if not in whole, of almost every one connected with
these intrigues. All closeted him, all conversed with him in private;
those who had the means propitiated him with gifts, those who had not
were liberal of promises. When he chanced to appear at Woodstock, which
always seemed as it were by accident--if he passed through the hall, the
knight was sure to ask him to take the foils, and was equally certain to
be, after less or more resistance, victorious in the encounter; so, in
consideration of so many triumphs, the good Sir Henry almost forgave him
the sins of rebellion and puritanism. Then, if his slow and formal step
was heard in the passages approaching the gallery, Dr. Rochecliffe,
though he never introduced him to his peculiar boudoir, was sure to meet
Master Tomkins in some neutral apartment, and to engage him in long
conversations, which apparently had great interest for both.
Neither was the Independent's reception below stairs less gracious than
above. Joceline failed not to welcome him with the most cordial
frankness; the pasty and the flagon were put in immediate requisition,
and good cheer was the general word. The means for this, it may be
observed, had grown more plenty at Woodstock since the arrival of Dr.
Rochecliffe, who, in quality of agent for several royalists, had various
sums of money at his disposal. By these funds it is likely that Trusty
Tomkins also derived his own full advantage.
In his occasional indulgence in what he called a fleshly frailty, (and
for which he said he had a privilege,) which was in truth an attachment
to strong liquors, and that in no moderate degree, his language, at
other times remarkably decorous and reserved, became wild and animated.
He sometimes talked with all the unction of an old debauchee, of former
exploits, such as deer-stealing, orchard-robbing, drunken gambols, and
desperate affrays in which he had been engaged in the earlier part of
his life, sung bacchanalian and amorous ditties, dwelt sometimes upon
adventures which drove Phoebe Mayflower from the company, and penetrated
even the deaf ears of Dame Jellicot, so as to make the buttery in which
he held his carousals no proper place for the poor old woman.
In the middle of these wild rants, Tomkins twice or thrice suddenly ran
into religious topics, and spoke mysteriously, but with great animation,
and a rich eloquence, on the happy and pre-eminent saints, who were
saints, as he termed them, indeed--Men who had stormed the inner
treasure-house of Heaven, and possessed themselves of its choicest
jewels. All other sects he treated with the utmost contempt, as merely
quarrelling, as he expressed it, like hogs over a trough about husks and
acorns; under which derogatory terms, he included alike the usual rites
and ceremonies of public devotion, the ordinances of the established
churches of Christianity, and the observances, nay, the forbearances,
enjoined by every class of Christians. Scarcely hearing, and not at all
understanding him, Joceline, who seemed his most frequent confidant on
such occasions, generally led him back into some strain of rude mirth,
or old recollection of follies before the Civil Wars, without caring
about or endeavouring to analyze the opinion of this saint of an evil
fashion, but fully sensible of the protection which his presence
afforded at Woodstock, and confident in the honest meaning of so
freespoken a fellow, to whom ale and brandy, when better liquor was not
to be come by, seemed to be principal objects of life, and who drank a
health to the King, or any one else, whenever required, provided the cup
in which he was to perform the libation were but a brimmer.
These peculiar doctrines, which were entertained by a sect sometimes
termed the Family of Love, but more commonly Ranters, had made some
progress in times when such variety of religious opinions were
prevalent, that men pushed the jarring heresies to the verge of absolute
and most impious insanity. Secrecy had been enjoined on these frantic
believers in a most blasphemous doctrine, by the fear of consequences,
should they come to be generally announced; and it was the care of
Master Tomkins to conceal the spiritual freedom which he pretended to
have acquired, from all whose resentment would have been stirred by his
public avowal of them. This was not difficult; for their profession of
faith permitted, nay, required their occasional conformity with the
sectaries or professors of any creed which chanced to be uppermost.
Tomkins had accordingly the art to pass himself on Dr. Rochecliffe as
still a zealous member of the Church of England, though serving under
the enemy's colours, as a spy in their camp; and as he had on several
times given him true and valuable intelligence, this active intriguer
was the more easily induced to believe his professions.
Nevertheless, lest this person's occasional presence at the Lodge, which
there were perhaps no means to prevent without exciting suspicion,
should infer danger to the King's person, Rochecliffe, whatever
confidence he otherwise reposed in him, recommended that, if possible,
the King should keep always out of his sight, and when accidentally
discovered, that he should only appear in the character of Louis
Kerneguy. Joseph Tomkins, he said, was, he really believed, Honest Joe;
but honesty was a horse which might be overburdened, and there was no
use in leading our neighbour into temptation.
It seemed as if Tomkins himself had acquiesced in this limitation of
confidence exercised towards him, or that he wished to seem blinder than
he really was to the presence of this stranger in the family. It
occurred to Joceline, who was a very shrewd fellow, that once or twice,
when by inevitable accident Tomkins had met Kerneguy, he seemed less
interested in the circumstance than he would have expected from the
man's disposition, which was naturally prying and inquisitive. "He asked
no questions about the young stranger," said Joceline--"God avert that
he knows or suspects too much!" But his suspicions were removed, when,
in the course of their subsequent conversation, Joseph Tomkins mentioned
the King's escape from Bristol as a thing positively certain, and named
both the vessel in which, he said, he had gone off, and the master who
commanded her, seeming so convinced of the truth of the report, that
Joceline judged it impossible he could have the slightest suspicion of
Yet, notwithstanding this persuasion, and the comradeship which had been
established between them, the faithful under-keeper resolved to maintain
a strict watch over his gossip Tomkins, and be in readiness to give the
alarm should occasion arise. True, he thought, he had reason to believe
that his said friend, notwithstanding his drunken and enthusiastic
rants, was as trustworthy as he was esteemed by Dr. Rochecliffe; yet
still he was an adventurer, the outside and lining of whose cloak were
of different colours, and a high reward, and pardon for past acts of
malignancy, might tempt him once more to turn his tippet. For these
reasons Joceline kept a strict, though unostentatious watch over Trusty
We have said, that the discreet seneschal was universally well received
at Woodstock, whether in the borough or at the Lodge, and that even
Joceline Joliffe was anxious to conceal any suspicions which he could
not altogether repress, under a great show of cordial hospitality. There
were, however, two individuals, who, for very different reasons,
nourished personal dislike against the individual so generally
One was Nehemiah Holdenough, who remembered, with great bitterness of
spirit, the Independent's violent intrusion into his pulpit, and who
ever spoke of him in private as a lying missionary, into whom Satan had
put a spirit of delusion; and preached, besides, a solemn sermon on the
subject of the false prophet, out of whose mouth came frogs. The
discourse was highly prized by the Mayor and most of the better class,
who conceived that their minister had struck a heavy blow at the very
root of Independency. On the other hand, those of the private spirit
contended, that Joseph Tomkins had made a successful and triumphant
rally, in an exhortation on the evening of the same day, in which he
proved, to the conviction of many handicraftsmen, that the passage in
Jeremiah, "The prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests bare rule by
their means," was directly applicable to the Presbyterian system of
church government. The clergyman dispatched an account of his
adversary's conduct to the Reverend Master Edwards, to be inserted in
the next edition of Gangraena, as a pestilent heretic; and Tomkins
recommended the parson to his master, Desborough, as a good subject on
whom to impose a round fine, for vexing the private spirit; assuring
him, at the same time, that though the minister might seem poor, yet if
a few troopers were quartered on him till the fine was paid, every rich
shopkeeper's wife in the borough would rob the till, rather than go
without the mammon of unrighteousness with which to redeem their priest
from sufferance; holding, according to his expression, with Laban, "You
have taken from me my gods, and what have I more?" There was, of course,
little cordiality between the polemical disputants, when religious