Full Text Archive logoFull Text Archive — Books, poems, drama…

A Reputed Changeling by Charlotte M. Yonge

Part 4 out of 8

Adobe PDF icon
Download this document as a .pdf
File size: 0.9 MB
What's this? light bulb idea Many people prefer to read off-line or to print out text and read from the real printed page. Others want to carry documents around with them on their mobile phones and read while they are on the move. We have created .pdf files of all out documents to accommodate all these groups of people. We recommend that you download .pdfs onto your mobile phone when it is connected to a WiFi connection for reading off-line.

that is ringing now?"

"That is the supper bell. It rings just after the Angelus," said
Hester. "No, it is not ours. The great folks, Lady Powys, Lady
Strickland, and the rest sup first. We have the dishes after them,
with Nurses Labadie and Royer and the rest--no bad ones either.
They are allowed five dishes and two bottles of wine apiece, and
they always leave plenty for us, and it is served hot too."

The preparations for going down to the second table now absorbed the
party.

As Hester said, the fare at this second table was not to be
despised. It was a formal meal shared with the two nurses and the
two pages of the backstairs. Not the lads usually associated with
the term, but men of mature age, and of gentle, though not noble,
birth and breeding; and there were likewise the attendants of the
King and Queen of the same grade, such as Mr. Labadie, the King's
valet, some English, but besides these, Dusian, the Queen's French
page, and Signer and Signora Turini, who had come with her from
Modena, Pere Giverlai, her confessor, and another priest. Pere
Giverlai said grace, and the conversation went on briskly between
the elders, the younger ones being supposed to hold their peace.

Their dishes went in reversion to the inferior class of servants,
laundress, sempstress, chambermaids, and the like, who had much more
liberty than their betters, and not such a lack of occupation as
Anne soon perceived that she should suffer from.

There was, however, a great muster of all the Prince's
establishment, who stood round, as many as could, with little
garments in their hands, while he was solemnly undressed and laid in
his richly inlaid and carved cradle--over which Pere Giverlai
pronounced a Latin benediction.

The nursery establishment was then released, except one of the
nurses, who was to sleep or wake on a couch by his side, and one of
the rockers. These damsels had, two at a time, to divide the night
between them, one being always at hand to keep the food warm, touch
the rocker at need with her foot, or call up the nurse on duty if
the child awoke, but not presume herself to handle his little Royal
Highness.

It was the night when Mistresses Dunord and Bridgeman were due, and
Anne followed Jane Humphreys to her room, asking a little about the
duties of the morrow.

"We must be dressed before seven," said the girl. "One of us will
be left on duty while the others go to Mass. I am glad you are a
Protestant, Miss Woodford, for the Catholics put everything on me
that they can."

"We must do our best to help and strengthen each other," said Anne.

"It is very hard," said Jane; "and the priests are always at me! I
would change as Hester Bridgeman has done, but that I know it would
break my grand-dame's heart. My father might not care so much, if I
got advancement, but I believe it would kill my grandmother."

"Advancement! oh, but faith comes first," exclaimed Anne, recalling
the warning.

"Hester says one religion is as good as another to get to Heaven
by," murmured Jane.

"Not if we deny our own for the world's sake," said Anne. "Is the
chapel here a Popish one?"

"No; the Queen has an Oratory, but the Popish chapel is at St.
James's--across the Park. The Protestant one is here at Whitehall,
and there are daily prayers at nine o'clock, and on Sunday music
with three fiddlers, and my grandmother says it might almost as well
be Popish at once."

"Did your grandmother bring you up?"

"Yes. My mother died when I was seven years old, and my grandmother
bred us all up. You should hear her talk of the good old times
before the Kings came back and there were no Bishops and no book
prayers--but my father says we must swim with the stream, or he
would not have got any custom at his coffee-house."

"Is that his calling?"

"Ay! No one has a better set of guests than in the Golden Lamb.
The place is full. The great Dr. Hammond sees his patients there,
and it is all one buzz of the wits. It was because of that that my
Lord Sunderland made interest, and got me here. How did you come?"

Anne briefly explained, and Jane broke out--

"Then you will be my friend, and we will tell each other all our
secrets. You are a Protestant too. You will be mine, and not
Bridgeman's or Dunord's--I hate them."

In point of fact Anne did not feel much attracted by the proffer of
friendship, and she certainly did not intend to tell Jane Humphreys
all her secrets, nor to vow enmity to the other colleagues, but she
gravely answered that she trusted they would be friends and help to
maintain one another's faith. She was relieved that Miss Bridgeman
here came in to take her first turn of rest till she was to be
called up at one o'clock.

As Jane Humphreys had predicted, Mrs. Royer and Anne alone were left
in charge of the nursling while every one went to morning Mass.
Then followed breakfast and the levee of his Royal Highness, lasting
as on the previous day till dinner-time; and the afternoon was as
before, except that the day was fine enough for the child to be
carried out with all his attendants behind him to take the air in
the private gardens.

If this was to be the whole course of life at the palace, Anne began
to feel that she had made a great mistake. She was by no means
attracted by her companions, though Miss Bridgeman decided that she
must know persons of condition, and made overtures of friendship, to
be sealed by calling one another Oriana and Portia. She did not
approve of such common names as Princess Anne and Lady Churchill
used--Mrs. Morley and Mrs. Freeman! They must have something better
than what was used by the Cockpit folks, and she was sure that her
dear Portia would soon be of the only true faith.

CHAPTER XVII: MACHINATIONS

"Baby born to woe."

F. T. PALGRAVE.

When Anne Woodford began to wake from the constant thought of the
grief and horror she had left at Portchester, and to feel more alive
to her surroundings and less as if they were a kind of dream, in
which she only mechanically took her part, one thing impressed
itself on her gradually, and that was disappointment. If the
previous shock had not blunted all her hopes and aspirations,
perhaps she would have felt it sooner and more keenly; but she could
not help realising that she had put herself into an inferior
position whence there did not seem to be the promotion she had once
anticipated. Her companion rockers were of an inferior grade to
herself. Jane Humphreys was a harmless but silly girl, not much
wiser, though less spoilt, than poor little Madam, and full of
Cockney vulgarities. Education was unfashionable just then, and
though Hester Bridgeman was bettor born and bred, being the daughter
of an attorney in the city, she was not much better instructed, and
had no pursuits except that of her own advantage. Pauline Dunord
was by far the best of the three, but she seemed to live a life
apart, taking very little interest in her companions or anything
around her except her devotions and the bringing them over to her
Church. The nursery was quite a separate establishment; there was
no mingling with the guests of royalty, who were only seen in
excited peeps from the window, or when solemnly introduced to the
presence chamber to pay their respects to the Prince. As to books,
the only secular one that Anne saw while at Whitehall was an odd
volume of Parthenissa. The late King's summary of the Roman
controversy was to be had in plenty, and nothing was more evident
than that the only road to favour or promotion was in being thereby
convinced.

"Don't throw it down as if it were a hot chestnut," said her Oriana.
"That's what they all do at first, but they come to it at last."

Anne made no answer, but a pang smote her as she thought of her
uncle's warnings. Yet surely she might hope for other modes of
prospering, she who was certainly by far the best looking and best
educated of all the four, not that this served her much in her
present company, and those of higher rank did not notice her at all.
Princess Anne would surely recollect her, and then she might be safe
in a Protestant household, where her uncle would be happy about her.

The Princess had been at Bath when first she arrived, but at the end
of a week preparations were made at the Cockpit, a sort of appendage
to Whitehall, where the Prince and Princess of Denmark lived, and in
due time there was a visit to the nursery. Standing in full
ceremony behind Lady Powys, Anne saw the plump face and form she
recollected in the florid bloom of a young matron, not without a
certain royal dignity in the pose of the head, though in grace and
beauty far surpassed by the tall, elegant figure and face of Lady
Churchill, whose bright blue eyes seemed to be taking in everything
everywhere. Anne's heart began to beat high at the sight of a once
familiar face, and with hopes of a really kind word from one who as
an elder girl had made much of the pretty little plaything. The
Princess Anne's countenance was, however, less good-natured than
usual; her mouth was made up to a sullen expression, and when her
brother was shown to her she did not hold out her arms to him nor
vouchsafe a kiss.

The Queen looked at her wistfully, asking--

"Is he not like the King?"

"Humph!" returned Princess Anne, "I see no likeness to any living
soul of our family."

"Nay, but see his little nails," said the Queen, spreading the tiny
hand over her finger. "See how like your father's they are framed!
My treasure, you can clasp me!"

"My brother, Edgar! He was the beauty," said the Princess. "_He_
was exactly like my father; but there's no judging of anything so
puny as this!"

"He was very suffering last week, the poor little angel," said the
mother sadly; "but they say this water-gruel is very nourishing, and
not so heavy as milk."

"It does not look as if it agreed with him," said the Princess.
"Poor little mammet! Did I hear that you had the little Woodford
here? Is that you, girl?"

Anne courtesied herself forward.

"Ay, I remember you. I never forget a face, and you have grown up
fair enough. Where's your mother?"

"I lost her last February, so please your Royal Highness."

"Oh! She was a good woman. Why did she not send you to me? Well,
well! Come to my toilette to-morrow."

So Princess Anne swept away in her rich blue brocade. Her behest
was obeyed, of course, though it was evidently displeasing to the
nursery authorities, and Lady Strickland gave a warning to be
discreet and to avoid gossip with the Cockpit folks.

Anne could not but be excited. Perhaps the Princess would ask for
her, and take her into the number of her own attendants, where she
would no longer be in a Romish household, and would certainly be in
a higher position. Why, she remembered that very Lady Churchill as
Sarah Jennings in no better a position than she could justly aspire
to. Her coming to Court would thus be truly justified.

The Princess sat in a silken wrapper, called a night-gown, in her
chamber, which had a richly-curtained bed in the alcove, and a
toilet-table with a splendid Venetian mirror, and a good deal of
silver sparkling on it, while a strange mixture of perfumes came
from the various boxes and bottles. Ladies and tirewomen stood in
attendance; a little black boy in a turban and gold-embroidered
dress held a salver with her chocolate cup; a cockatoo soliloquised
in low whispers in the window; a monkey was chained to a pole at a
safe distance from him; a French friseur was manipulating the
Princess's profuse brown hair with his tongs; and a needy-looking,
pale thin man, in a semi-clerical suit, was half-reading, half-
declaiming a poem, in which 'Fair Anna' seemed mixed up with Juno,
Ceres, and other classical folk, but to which she was evidently
paying very little attention.

"Ah! there you are, little one. Thank you, Master--what's name;
that is enough. 'Tis a fine poem, but I never can remember which is
which of all your gods and goddesses. Oh yes, I accept the
dedication. Give him a couple of guineas, Ellis; it will serve him
for board and lodging for a fortnight, poor wretch!" Then, after
giving a smooth, well-shaped white hand to be kissed, and inviting
her visitor to a cushion at her feet, she began a long series of
questions, kindly ones at first, though of the minute gossiping
kind, and extending to the Archfields, for poor young Madam had been
of the rank about which royalty knew everything in those days. The
inquiries were extremely minute, and the comments what from any one
else, Anne would have thought vulgar, especially in the presence of
the hairdresser, but her namesake observed her blush and hesitation,
and said, "Oh, never mind a creature like that. He is French,
besides, and does not understand a word we say."

Anne, looking over the Princess's head, feared that she saw a
twinkle in the man's eye, and could only look down and try to ignore
him through the catechism that ensued, on when she came to
Whitehall, on the Prince of Wales's health, the management of him,
and all the circumstances connected with his birth.

Very glad was Anne that she knew nothing, and had not picked up any
information as to what had happened before she came to the palace.
As to the present, Lady Strickland's warning and her own sense of
honour kept her reticent to a degree that evidently vexed the
Princess, for she dropped her caressing manner, and sent her away
with a not very kind, "You may go now; you will be turning Papist
next, and what would your poor mother say?"

And as Anne departed in backward fashion she heard Lady Churchill
say, "You will make nothing of her. She is sharper than she
affects, and a proud minx! I see it in her carriage."

The visit had only dashed a few hopes and done her harm with her
immediate surroundings, who always disliked and distrusted
intercourse with the other establishment.

However, in another day the nursery was moved to Richmond. This was
a welcome move to Anne, who had spent her early childhood near
enough to be sometimes taken thither, and to know the Park well, so
that there was a home feeling in the sight of the outline of the
trees and the scenery of the neighbourhood. The Queen intended
going to Bath, so that the establishment was only that of the
Prince, and the life was much quieter on the whole; but there was no
gratifying any yearning for country walks, for it was not safe nor
perhaps decorous for one young woman to be out alone in a park open
to the public and haunted by soldiers from Hounslow--nor could
either of her fellow-rockers understand her preference for a
secluded path through the woods. Miss Dunord never went out at all,
except on duty, when the Prince was carried along the walks in the
garden, and the other two infinitely preferred the open spaces,
where tables were set under the horse-chestnut trees for parties who
boated down from London to eat curds and whey, sometimes bringing a
fiddler so as to dance under the trees.

Jane Humphreys especially was always looking out for acquaintances,
and once, with a cry of joy, a stout, homely-looking young woman
started up, exclaiming, "Sister Jane!" and flew into her arms. Upon
which Miss Woodford was introduced to 'My sister Coles' and her
husband, and had to sit down under a tree and share the festivities,
while there was an overflow of inquiries and intelligence, domestic
and otherwise. Certainly these were persons whom she would not have
treated as equals at home.

Besides, it was all very well to hear of the good old grandmother's
rheumatics, and of little Tommy's teething, and even to see Jane
hang her head and be teased about remembering Mr. Hopkins; nor was
it wonderful to hear lamentations over the extreme dulness of the
life where one never saw a creature to speak to who was not as old
as the hills; but when it came to inquiries as minute as the
Princess's about the Prince of Wales, Anne thought the full details
lavishly poured out scarcely consistent with loyalty to their oaths
of service and Lady Strickland's warning, and she told Jane so.

She was answered, "Oh la! what harm can it do? You are such a proud
peat! Grand-dame and sister like to know all about His Royal
Highness."

This was true; but Anne was far more uncomfortable two or three days
later. The Prince was ailing, so much so that Lady Powys had sent
an express for the Queen, who had not yet started for Bath, when
Anne and Jane, being relieved from duty by the other pair, went out
for a stroll.

"Oh la!" presently exclaimed Jane, "if that is not Colonel Sands,
the Princess's equerry. I do declare he is coming to speak to us,
though he is one of the Cockpit folks."

He was a very fine gentleman indeed, all scarlet and gold, and no
wonder Jane was flattered and startled, so that she jerked her fan
violently up and down as he accosted her with a wave of his cocked
hat, saying that he was rejoiced to meet these two fair ladies,
having been sent by the Princess of Denmark to inquire for the
health of the Prince. She was very anxious to know more than could
be learnt by formal inquiry, he said, and he was happy to have met
the young gentlewomen who could gratify him.

The term 'gentlewoman' highly flattered Miss Humphreys, who blushed
and bridled, and exclaimed, "Oh la, sir!" but Anne thought it
needful to say gravely--

"We are in trust, sir, and have no right to speak of what passes
within the royal household."

"Madam, I admire your discretion, but to the--(a-hem)--sister of
the--(a-hem)--Prince of Wales it is surely uncalled for."

"Miss Woodford is so precise," said Jane Humphreys, with a giggle;
"I do not know what harm can come of saying that His Royal Highness
peaks and pines just as he did before."

"He is none the better for country air then?"

"Oh no? except that he cries louder. Such a time as we had last
night! Mrs. Royer never slept a wink all the time I was there, but
walked about with him all night. You had the best of it, Miss
Woodford."

"He slept while I was there," said Anne briefly, not thinking it
needful to state that the tired nurse had handed the child over to
her, and that he had fallen asleep in her arms. She tried to put an
end to the conversation by going indoors, but she was vexed to find
that, instead of following her closely, Miss Humphreys was still
lingering with the equerry.

Anne found the household in commotion. Pauline met her, weeping
bitterly, and saying the Prince had had a fit, and all hope was
over, and in the rockers' room, she found Hester Bridgeman
exclaiming that her occupation was gone. Water-gruel, she had no
doubt, had been the death of the Prince. The Queen was come, and
wellnigh distracted. She had sent out in quest of a wet-nurse, but
it was too late; he was going the way of all Her Majesty's children.

Going down again together the two girls presently had to stand aside
as the poor Queen, seeing and hearing nothing, came towards her own
room with her handkerchief over her face. They pressed each other's
hands awe-stricken, and went on to the nursery. There Mrs. Labadie
was kneeling over the cradle, her hood hanging over her face, crying
bitterly over the poor little child, who had a blue look about his
face, and seemed at the last gasp, his features contorted by a
convulsion.

At that moment Jane Humphreys was seen gently opening the door and
letting in Colonel Sands, who moved as quietly as possible, to give
a furtive look at the dying child. His researches were cut short,
however. Lady Strickland, usually the gentlest of women, darted out
and demanded what he was doing in her nursery.

He attempted to stammer some excuse about Princess Anne, but Lady
Strickland only answered by standing pointing to the door and he was
forced to retreat in a very undignified fashion.

"Who brought him?" she demanded, when the door was shut. "Those
Cockpit folk are not to come prying here, hap what may!"

Miss Humphreys had sped away for fear of questions being asked, and
attention was diverted by Mrs. Royer arriving with a stout, healthy-
looking young woman in a thick home-spun cloth petticoat, no
stockings, and old shoes, but with a clean white cap on her head--a
tilemaker's wife who had been captured in the village.

No sooner was the suffering, half-starved child delivered over to
her than he became serene and contented. The water-gruel regime was
over, and he began to thrive from that time. Even when later in the
afternoon the King himself brought in Colonel Sands, whom in the joy
of his heart he had asked to dine with him, the babe lay tranquilly
on the cradle, waving his little hands and looking happy.

The intrusion seemed to have been forgotten, but that afternoon
Anne, who had been sent on a message to one of the Queen's ladies,
more than suspected that she saw Jane in a deep recess of a window
in confabulation with the Colonel. And when they were alone at bed-
time the girl said--

"Is it not droll? The Colonel cannot believe that 'tis the same
child. He has been joking and teasing me to declare that we have a
dead Prince hidden somewhere, and that the King showed him the
brick-bat woman's child."

"How can you prattle in that mischievous way--after what Lady
Strickland said, too? You do not know what harm you may do!"

"Oh lack, it was all a jest!"

"I am not so sure that it was."

"But you will not tell of me, dear friend, you will not. I never
saw Lady Strickland like that; I did not know she could be in such a
rage."

"No wonder, when a fellow like that came peeping and prying like a
raven to see whether the poor babe was still breathing," cried Anne
indignantly. "How could you bring him in?"

"Fellow indeed! Why he is a colonel in the Life-guards, and the
Princess's equerry; and who has a right to know about the child if
not his own sister--or half-sister?"

"She is not a very loving sister," replied Anne. "You know well,
Jane, how many would not be sorry to make out that it is as that man
would fain have you say."

"Well, I told him it was no such thing, and laughed the very notion
to scorn."

"It were better not to talk with him at all."

"But you will not speak of it. If I were turned away my father
would beat me. Nay, I know not what he might not do to me. You
will not tell, dear darling Portia, and I will love you for ever."

"I have no call to tell," said Anne coldly, but she was disgusted
and weary, and moreover not at all sure that she, as the other
Protestant rocker, and having been in the Park on that same day, was
not credited with some of the mischievous gossip that had passed.

"There, Portia, that is what you get by walking with that stupid
Humphreys," said Oriana. "She knows no better than to blab to any
one who will be at the trouble to seem sweet upon her, though she
may get nothing by it."

"Would it be better if she did?" asked Anne.

"Oh well, we must all look out for ourselves, and I am sure there is
no knowing what may come next. But I hear we are to move to Windsor
as soon as the child is strong enough, so as to be farther out of
reach of the Cockpit tongues."

This proved to be true, but the Prince and his suite were not lodged
in the Castle itself, a house in the cloisters being thought more
suitable, and here the Queen visited her child daily, for since that
last alarm she could not bear to be long absent from him. Such
emissaries as Colonel Sands did not again appear, but after that
precedent Lady Strickland had become much more unwilling to allow
any of those under her authority to go out into any public place,
and the rockers seldom got any exercise except as swelling the
Prince's train when he was carried out to take the air.

Anne looked with longing eyes at the Park, but a ramble there was a
forbidden pleasure. She could not always even obtain leave to
attend St. George's Chapel; the wish was treated as a sort of
weakness, or folly, and she was always the person selected to stay
at home when any religious ceremony called away the rest of the
establishment.

As the King's god-daughter it was impressed on her that she ought to
conform to his Church, and one of the many priests about the Court
was appointed to instruct her. In the dearth of all intellectual
intercourse, and the absolute deficiency of books, she could not but
become deeply interested in the arguments. Her uncle had forearmed
her with instruction, and she wrote to him on any difficulty which
arose, and this became the chief occupation of her mind, distracting
her thoughts from the one great cloud that hung over her memory.
Indeed one of the foremost bulwarks her feelings erected to fortify
her conscience against the temptations around, was the knowledge
that she would have, though of course under seal of confession, to
relate that terrible story to a priest.

Hester Bridgeman could not imagine how her Portia could endure to
hear the old English Prayer-book droned out. For her part, she
liked one thing or the other, either a rousing Nonconformist sermon
in a meeting-house or a splendid Mass.

"But, after all," as Anne overheard her observing to Miss Dunord,
"it may be all the better for us. What with her breeding and her
foreign tongues, she would be sure to be set over our heads as
under-governess, or the like, if she were not such an obstinate
heretic, and keeping that stupid Humphreys so. We could have
converted her long ago, if it were not for that Woodford and for her
City grand-dame! Portia is the King's godchild, too, so it is just
as well that she does not see what is for her own advantage."

"I do not care for promotion. I only want to save my own soul and
hers," said Pauline. "I wish she would come over to the true
Church, for I could love her."

And certainly Pauline Dunord's gentle devotional example, and her
perfect rest and peace in the practice of her religion, were strong
influences with Anne. She was waiting till circumstances should
make it possible to her to enter a convent, and in the meantime she
lived a strictly devout life, abstracted as far as duty and kindness
permitted from the little cabals and gossipry around.

Anne could not help feeling that the girl was as nearly a saint as
any one she had ever seen--far beyond herself in goodness.
Moreover, the Queen inspired strong affection. Mary Beatrice was
not only a very beautiful person, full of the grace and dignity of
the House of Este, but she was deeply religious, good and gentle,
kindly and gracious to all who approached her, and devoted to her
husband and child. A word or look from her was always a delight,
and Anne, by her knowledge of Italian, was able sometimes to obtain
a smiling word or remark.

The little Prince, after those first miserable weeks of his life,
had begun to thrive, and by and by manifested a decided preference
not only for his beautiful mother, but for the fresh face, bright
smile, and shining brown eyes of Miss Woodford. She could almost
always, with nods and becks, avert a passion of roaring, which
sometimes went beyond the powers of even his foster-mother, the
tiler's wife. The Queen watched with delight when he laughed and
flourished his arms in response, and the King was summoned to see
the performance, which he requited by taking out a fat gold watch
set with pearls, and presenting it to Anne, as his grave gloomy face
lighted up with a smile.

"Are you yet one of us?" he asked, as she received his gift on her
knee.

"No, sir, I cannot--"

"That must be amended. You have read his late Majesty's paper?"

"I have, sir."

"And seen Father Giverlai?"

"Yes, please your Majesty."

"And still you are not convinced. That must not be. I would gladly
consider and promote you, but I can only have true Catholics around
my son. I shall desire Father Crump to see you."

CHAPTER XVIII: HALLOWMAS EVE

"This more strange
Than such a murder is."

Macbeth.

"Bambino mio, bambino mio," wailed Mary Beatrice, as she pressed her
child to her bosom, and murmured to him in her native tongue. "And
did they say he was not his mother's son, his poor mother, whose
dearest treasure he is! Oime, crudeli, crudelissimi! Even his
sisters hate him and will not own him, the little jewel of his
mother's heart!"

Anne, waiting in the window, was grieved to have overheard the words
which the poor Queen had poured out, evidently thinking no one near
could understand her.

That evening there were orders to prepare for a journey to Whitehall
the next morning.

"And," said Hester Bridgeman, "I can tell you why, in all
confidence, but I have it from a sure hand. The Prince of Orange is
collecting a fleet and army to come and inquire into certain
matters, especially into the birth of a certain young gentleman we
wot of."

"How can he have the insolence?" cried Anne.

"'Tis no great wonder, considering the vipers in the Cockpit," said
Hester.

"But what will they do to us?" asked Jane Humphreys in terror.

"Nothing to you, my dear, nor to Portia; you are good Protestants,"
said Hester with a sneer.

"Mrs. Royer told me it was for the christening," said Jane, "and
then we shall all have new suits. I am glad we are going back to
town. It cannot be so mortal dull as 'tis here, with all the leaves
falling--enough to give one the vapours."

There were auguries on either hand in the palace that if the Prince
came it would be only another Monmouth affair, and this made Anne
shrink, for she had partaken of the grief and indignation of
Winchester at the cruel execution of Lady Lisle, and had heard
rumours enough of the progress of the Assize to make her start in
horror when called to watch the red-faced Lord Chancellor Jeffreys
getting out of his coach.

It really seemed for the time as if the royal household were
confident in this impression, though as soon as they were again
settled in Whitehall there was a very close examination of the
witnesses of the Prince's birth, and a report printed of their
evidence, enough it might be thought to satisfy any one; but Jane
Humphreys, who went to spend a day at the Golden Lamb, her father's
warehouse, reported that people only laughed at it.

Anne's spirit burned at the injustice, and warmed the more towards
the Queen and little Prince, whose pretty responses to her caresses
could not but win her love. Moreover, Pauline's example continued
to attract her, and Father Crump was a better controversialist, or
perhaps a better judge of character, than Pere Giverlai, and took
her on sides where she was more vulnerable, so as to make her begin
to feel unsettled, and wonder whether she were not making a vain
sacrifice, and holding out after all against the better way.

The sense of the possible gain, and disgust at the shallow
conversions of some around her, helped to keep her back. She could
not help observing that while Pauline persuaded, Hester had ceased
to persuade, and seemed rather willing to hinder her. Just before
the State christening or rather admission into the Church, Lady
Powys, in the name of the King and Queen, offered her the post of
sub-governess, which really would mean for the present chief
playfellow to the little Prince, and would place her on an entirely
different platform of society from the comparatively menial one she
occupied, but of course on the condition of conformity to Rome.

To be above the familiarity of Jane and Hester was no small
temptation, but still she hesitated.

"Madam, I thank you, I thank their Majesties," she said, "but I
cannot do it thus."

"I see what you mean, Miss Woodford," said Lady Powys, who was a
truly noble woman. "Your motives must be above suspicion even to
yourself. I respect you, and would not have made you the offer
except by express command, but I still trust that when your
disinterestedness is above suspicion you will still join us."

It was sore mortification when Hester Bridgeman was preferred to the
office, for which she was far less fitted, being no favourite with
the babe, and being essentially vulgar in tastes and habits, and
knowing no language save her own, and that ungrammatically and with
an accent which no one could wish the Prince to acquire. Yet there
she was, promoted to the higher grade of the establishment and at
the christening, standing in the front ranks, while Miss Woodford
was left far in the rear among the servants.

A report of the Dutch fleet having been destroyed by a storm had
restored the spirits of the Court; and in the nursery very little
was known of the feelings of the kingdom at large. Dr. Woodford did
not venture on writing freely to his niece, lest he should
compromise her, and she only vaguely detected that he was uneasy.

So came All Saints' Day Eve, when there was to be a special service
late in the evening at the Romanised Chapel Royal at St. James's,
with a sermon by a distinguished Dominican, to which all the elder
and graver members of the household were eager to go. And there was
another very different attraction at the Cockpit, where good-natured
Princess Anne had given permission for a supper, to be followed by
burning of nuts and all the divinations proper to Hallowmas Eve, to
which were invited all the subordinates of the Whitehall
establishment who could be spared.

Pauline Dunord was as eager for the sermon as Jane Humphreys was for
the supper, and Hester Bridgeman was in an odd mood of uncertainty,
evidently longing after the sports, but not daring to show that she
did so, and trying to show great desire to hear the holy man preach,
together with a polite profession of self-denial in giving up her
place in case there should not be room for all. However, as it
appeared that even the two chief nurses meant to combine sermon and
the latter end of the supper, she was at ease. The foster-mother
and one of the Protestant rockers were supposed to be enough to
watch over the Prince, but the former, who had been much petted and
spoilt since she had been at the palace, and was a young creature,
untrained and wilful, cried so much at the idea of missing the
merrymaking, that as it was reckoned important to keep her in good
humour and good spirits, Mrs. Labadie decided on winking at her
absence from the nursery, since Miss Woodford was quite competent to
the charge for the short time that both the church-goers and the
supper-goers would all be absent together.

"But are you not afraid to stay alone?" asked Mrs. Labadie, with a
little compunction.

"What is there to be afraid of?" asked Anne. "There are the
sentinels at the foot of the stairs, and what should reach us here?"

"I would not be alone here," said more than one voice. "Nor I!"--
"Nor I!"

"And on this night of all others!" said Hester.

"But why?"

"They say he walks!" whispered Jane in a voice of awe.

"Who walks?"

"The old King?" asked Hester.

"No; the last King," said Jane.

"No, no: it was Oliver Cromwell--old Noll himself!" put in another
voice.

"I tell you, no such thing," said Jane. "It was the last King. I
heard it from them that saw it, at least the lady's cousin. 'Twas
in the long gallery, in a suit of plain black velvet, with white
muslin ruffles and cravat quilled very neat. Why do you laugh, Miss
Woodford?"

This was too much for Anne, who managed to say, "Who was his
laundress?"

"I tell you I heard it from them that told no lies. The gentleman
could swear to it. He took a candle to him, and there was nought
but the wainscot behind. Think of that."

"And that we should be living here!" said another voice. "I never
venture about the big draughty place alone at night," said the
laundress.

"No! nor I would not for twenty princes," added the sempstress.

"Nay, I have heard steps," said Mrs. Royer, "and wailing--wailing.
No wonder after all that has happened here. Oh yes, steps as of the
guard being turned out!"

"That is like our Squire's manor-house, where--"

Every one contributed a story, and only the announcement of Her
Majesty's approach put an end to these reminiscences.

Anne held to her purpose. She had looked forward to this time of
solitude, for she wanted leisure to consider the situation, and
fairly to revolve the pleas by which Father Crump had shaken her,
more in feeling than in her reason, and made her question whether
her allegiance to her mother and uncle, and her disgust at
interested conversions, were not making her turn aside from what
might be the only true Church, the Mother of Saints, and therewith
perversely give up earthly advancement. But, oh! how to write to
her uncle.

The very intention made her imagination and memory too powerful for
the consideration of controversy. She went back first to a merry
Hallowmas Eve long ago, among the Archfield party and other
Winchester friends, and how the nuts had bounced in a manner which
made the young ones shout in ecstasy of glee, but seemed to
displease some of the elders, and had afterwards been the occasion
of her being told that it was all folly, and therewith informed of
Charles Archfield's contract to poor little Alice Fitzhubert. Then
came other scenes. All the various ghostly tales she had heard, and
as she sat with her knitting in the shaded room with no sound but
the soft breathing of her little charge in his cradle, no light save
from a shaded lamp and the fire on the hearth, strange thoughts and
dreams floated over her; she started at mysterious cracks in the
wainscotting from time to time, and beheld in the dark corners of
the great room forms that seemed grotesque and phantom-like till she
went up to them and resolved them into familiar bits of furniture or
gowns and caps of Mrs. Labadie. She repeated half aloud numerous
Psalms and bits of poetry, but in the midst would come some
disturbing noise, a step or a shout from the street, though the
chamber being at the back of the house looking into the Park few of
such sounds penetrated thither. She began to think of King
Charles's last walk from St. James's to Whitehall, and of the fatal
window of the Banqueting-hall which had been pointed out to her, and
then her thoughts flew back again to that vault in the castle yard,
and she saw only too vividly in memory that open vault, veiled
partly by nettles and mulleins, which was the unblest, unknown grave
of the old playfellow who had so loved her mother and herself.
Perhaps she had hitherto more dwelt on and pitied the living than
the dead, as one whom fears and prayers still concerned, but now as
she thought of the lively sprite-like being who had professed such
affection for her, and for whom her mother had felt so much, and
recollected him so soon and suddenly cut down and consigned to that
dreary darkness, the strange yearning spirit dismissed to the
unknown world, instead of her old terror and repulsion, a great
tenderness and compunction came over her, and she longed to join
those who would in two days more be keeping All Souls' Day in
intercessions for their departed, so as to atone for her past
dislike; and there was that sort of feeling about her which can only
be described by the word 'eerie.' To relieve it Anne walked to the
window and undid a small wicket in the shutter, so as to look out
into the quiet moonlight park where the trees cast their long
shadows on the silvery grass, and there was a great calm that seemed
to reach her heart and spirits.

Suddenly, across the sward towards the palace there came the slight,
impish, almost one-sided figure, with the peculiar walk, swift
though suggestive of a limp, the elfish set of the plume, the
foreign adjustment of short cloak. Anne gazed with wide-stretched
eyes and beating heart, trying to rally her senses and believe it
fancy, when the figure crossed into a broad streak of light cast by
the lamp over the door, the face was upturned for a moment. It was
deadly pale, and the features were beyond all doubt Peregrine
Oakshott's.

She sprang back from the window, dropped on her knees, with her face
hidden in her hands, and was hardly conscious till sounds of the
others returning made her rally her powers so as to prevent all
inquiries or surmises. It was Mrs. Labadie and Pauline Dunord, the
former to see that all was well with the Prince before repairing to
the Cockpit.

"How pale you are!" she exclaimed. "Have you seen anything?"

"I--It may be nothing. He is dead!" stammered Anne.

"Oh then, 'tis naught but a maid's fancies," said the nurse good-
humouredly. "Miss Dunord is in no mind for the sports, so she will
stay with His Highness, and you had best come with me and drive the
cobwebs out of your brain."

"Indeed, I thank you, ma'am, but I could not," said Anne.

"You had best, I tell you, shake these megrims out of your brain,"
said Mrs. Labadie; but she was in too great haste not to lose her
share of the amusements to argue the point, and the two young women
were left together. Pauline was in a somewhat exalted state, full
of the sermon on the connection of the Church with the invisible
world.

"You have seen one of your poor dead," she said. "Oh, may it not be
that he came to implore you to have pity, and join the Church, where
you could intercede and offer the Holy Sacrifice for him?"

Anne started. This seemed to chime in with proclivities of poor
Peregrine's own, and when she thought of his corpse in that
unhallowed vault, it seemed to her as if he must be calling on her
to take measures for his rest, both of body and of spirit. Yet
something seemed to seal her tongue. She could not open her lips on
what she had seen, and while Pauline talked on, repeating the sermon
which had so deeply touched her feelings, Anne heard without
listening to aught besides her own perturbations, mentally debating
whether she could endure to reveal the story to Father Crump, if she
confessed to him, or whether she should write to her uncle; and she
even began to compose the letter in her own mind, with the terrible
revelation that must commence it, but every moment the idea became
more formidable. How transfer her own heavy burthen to her uncle,
who might feel bound to take steps that would cut young Archfield
off from parents, sister, child, and home. Or supposing Dr.
Woodford disbelieved the apparition of to-night, the whole would be
discredited in his eyes, and he might suppose the summer morning's
duel as much a delusion of her fancy as the autumn evening's
phantom, and what evidence had she to adduce save Charles's despair,
Peregrine's absence, and what there might be in the vault?

Yet if all that Father Crump and Pauline said was true, that dear
uncle might be under a fatal delusion, and it might be the best hope
for herself--nay, even for that poor restless spirit--to separate
herself from them. Here was Pauline talking of the blessedness of
being able to offer prayers on 'All Souls' Day' for all those of
whose ultimate salvation there were fears, or who might be in a
state of suffering. It even startled her as she thought of her
mother, whom she always gave thanks for as one departed in faith and
fear. Would Father Crump speak of her as one in a state of
inevitable ignorance to be expiated in the invisible world? It
shocked the daughter as almost profane. Yet if it were true, and
prayers and masses could aid her?

Altogether Anne was in a mood on which the voices broke strangely
returning from the supper full of news. Jane Humphreys was voluble
on her various experiments. The nuts had burnt quietly together,
and that was propitious to the Life-guardsman, Mr. Shaw, who had
shared hers; but on the other hand, the apple-paring thrown over her
shoulder had formed a P, and he whom she had seen in the vista of
looking-glasses had a gold chain but neither a uniform nor a P in
his name, and Mrs. Buss declared that it meant that she should be
three times married, and the last would be an Alderman, if not Lord
Mayor; and Mrs. Royer was joking Miss Bridgeman on the I of her
apple-paring, which could stand for nothing but a certain Incle
among 'the Cockpit folk,' who was her special detestation.

Princess Anne and her husband had come down to see the nuts flying,
and had laughed enough to split their sides, till Lord Cornbury came
in and whispered something to Prince George, who said, "Est il
possible?" and spoke to the Princess, and they all went away
together. Yes, and the Bishop of Bath and Wells, who had been
laughing before looked very grave, and went with them.

"Oh!" exclaimed Anne, "is the Bishop of Bath and Wells here?"

"Yes, in spite of his disgrace. I hear he is to preach in your
Protestant chapel to-morrow."

Anne had brought a letter of introduction from her uncle in case she
should have any opportunity of seeing his old fellow canon, who had
often been kind to her when she was a little girl at Winchester.
She was in many minds of hope and fear as to the meeting him or
speaking to him, under the consciousness of the possible defection
from his Church, and the doubt and dread whether to confide her
secret and consult him. However, the extreme improbability of her
being able to do so made the yearning for the sight of a Winchester
face predominate, and her vigil of the night past made the nursery
authorities concede that she had fairly earned her turn to go to
church in the forenoon, since she was obstinate enough to want to
run after an old heretic so-called Bishop who had so pragmatically
withstood His Majesty. Jane Humphreys went too, for though she was
not fond of week-day services, any escape from the nursery was
welcome, and there was a chance of seeing Lady Churchill's new
mantle.

In this she was disappointed, for none of the grandees were present,
indeed it was whispered as the two girls made their way to the
chapel, that there was great excitement over the Declaration of the
Prince of Orange, which had arrived last night, that he had been
invited by the lords spiritual and temporal to take up the cause of
the liberties of England, and inquire into the evidence of the birth
of the Prince of Wales.

People shrugged their shoulders, but looked volumes, though it was
no time nor place for saying more; and when in the chapel, that
countenance of Bishop Ken, so beautiful in outward form, so
expressive of strength, sweetness, and devotion, brought back such a
flood of old associations to Anne, that it was enough to change the
whole current of her thoughts and make her her own mother's child
again, even before he opened his mouth. She caught his sweet voice
in the Psalms, and closing her eyes seemed to be in the Cathedral
once more among those mighty columns and arches; and when he began
his sermon, on the text, 'Let the Saints be joyful with glory, let
them rejoice in their beds,' she found the Communion of Saints in
Paradise and on earth knit together in one fellowship as truly and
preciously brought home to her as ever it had been to Pauline, and
moreover when she thought of her mother, 'the lurid mist' was
dispelled which had so haunted her the night before.

The longing to speak to him awoke; and as he was quitting the chapel
in full procession his kindly eye lit upon her with a look of
recognition; and before she had moved from her place, one of the
attendant clergy came back by his desire to conduct her to him.

He held out his hand as she courtesied low.

"Mistress Woodford," he said, "my old friend's niece! He wrote to
me of you, but I have had no opportunity of seeing you before."

"Oh, my Lord! I was so much longing to see and speak with you."

"I am lodging at Lambeth," said the Bishop, "and it is too far to
take you with me thither, but perhaps my good brother here," turning
to the chaplain, "can help us to a room where we can be private."

This was done; the chaplain's parlour at the Cockpit was placed at
their disposal, and there a few kind words from Bishop Ken led to
the unburthening of her heavy heart. Of Ken's replies to the
controversial difficulties there is no need to tell. Indeed,
ambition was far more her temptation than any real difficulties as
to doctrine. Her dissatisfaction at being unable to answer the
questions raised by Father Crump was exaggerated as the excuse and
cover to herself of her craving for escape from her present
subordinate post; and this the Bishop soon saw, and tenderly but
firmly drew her to own both this and to confess the ambitious spirit
which had led her into this scene of temptation. "It was true
indeed," he said, "that trial by our own error is hardest to
encounter, but you have repented, and by God's grace, my child, I
trust you will be enabled to steer your course aright through the
trials of loyalty to our God and to our King that are coming upon us
all. Ever remember God and the plain duty first, His anointed next.
Is there more that you would like to tell me? for you still bear a
troubled look, and I have full time."

Then Anne told him all the strange adventure of Portchester Castle,
and even of the apparition of the night before. That gentleness and
sympathy seemed to draw out all that was in her heart, and to her
surprise, he did not treat the story of that figure as necessarily a
delusion. He had known and heard too much of spiritual
manifestations to the outward senses to declare that such things
could not be.

What she had seen might be explained by one of four hypotheses. It
was either a phantom of her brain, and her being fully awake,
although recently dwelling on the recollection, rendered that idea
less probable, or the young man had not been killed and she had seen
him in propria persona.

She had Charles Archfield's word that the death was certain. He had
never been heard of again, and if alive, the walk before Whitehall
was the last place where he would be. As to mistaking any one else
for him, the Bishop remembered enough of the queer changeling elf to
agree with her that it was not a very probable contingency. And if
it were indeed a spirit, why should it visit her? There had been
one good effect certainly in the revival of home thoughts and
turning her mind from the allurements of favour, but that did not
seem to account for the spirit seeking her out.

Was it, Anne faltered, a sign that she ought to confess all, for the
sake of procuring Christian burial for him. Yet how should she,
when she had promised silence to young Archfield? True, it was for
his wife's sake, and she was dead; but there were the rest of his
family and himself to be considered. What should she do?

The Bishop thought a little while, then said that he did not believe
that she ought to speak without Mr. Archfield's consent, unless she
saw any one else brought into danger by her silence. If it ever
became possible, he thought, that she should ascertain whether the
body were in the vault, and if so, it might be possible to procure
burial for it, perhaps without identification, or at any rate
without making known what could only cause hostility and distress
between the two families, unless the young man himself on his return
should make the confession. This the Bishop evidently considered
the sounder, though the harder course, but he held that Anne had no
right to take the initiative. She could only wait, and bear her
load alone; but the extreme kindness and compassion with which he
talked to her soothed and comforted her so much that she felt
infinitely relieved and strengthened when he dismissed her with his
blessing, and far happier and more at peace than she had been since
that terrible summer morning, though greatly humbled, and taught to
repent of her aspirations after earthly greatness, and to accept her
present condition as a just retribution, and a trial of constancy.

CHAPTER XIX: THE DAUGHTER'S SECRET

"Thy sister's naught: O Regan, she hath tied
Sharp-tooth'd unkindness, like a vulture, _here_:
I can scarce speak to thee."

King Lear.

"Am I--oh! am I going home?" thought Anne. "My uncle will be at
Winchester. I am glad of it. I could not yet bear to see
Portchester again. That Shape would be there. Yet how shall I deal
with what seems laid on me? But oh! the joy of escaping from this
weary, weary court! Oh, the folly that took me hither! Now that
the Prince is gone, Lady Strickland will surely speak to the Queen
for my dismissal."

There had been seventeen days of alarms, reports, and counter-
reports, and now the King, with the Prince of Denmark, had gone to
join the army on Salisbury Plain, and at the same time the little
Prince of Wales had been sent off to his half-brother, the Duke of
Berwick, at Portsmouth, under charge of Lady Powys, there to be
embarked for France. Anne had been somewhat disappointed at not
going with them, hoping that when at Portsmouth or in passing
Winchester she might see her uncle and obtain her release, for she
had no desire to be taken abroad; but it was decreed otherwise.
Miss Dunord went, rejoicing and thankful to be returning to France,
and the other three rockers remained.

There had already been more than one day of alarms and tumults. The
Body-guards within were always on duty; the Life-guards without were
constantly patrolling; and on the 5th of November, when the Prince
of Orange was known to be near at hand, and was in fact actually
landing at Torbay, the mob had with difficulty been restrained from
burning in effigy, not only Guy Fawkes, but Pope, cardinals, and
mitred bishops, in front of the palace, and actually paraded them
all, with a figure of poor Sir Edmondbury Godfrey bearing his head
in his hand, tied on horseback behind a Jesuit, full before the
windows, with yells of

"The Pope, the Pope,
Up the ladder and down the rope,"

and clattering of warming-pans.

Jane Humphreys was dreadfully frightened. Anne found her crouching
close to her bed, with the curtains wrapped round her. "Have they
got in?" she cried. "O Miss Woodford, how shall we make them
believe we are good Protestants?"

And when this terror had subsided, and it was well known that the
Dutch were at Exeter, there was another panic, for one of the Life-
guardsmen had told her to beware, since if the Royal troops at
Hounslow were beaten, the Papists would surely take their revenge.

"I am to scream from the windows to Mr. Shaw," she said; but what
good will that do if the priests and the Frenchmen have strangled
me? And perhaps he won't be on guard."

"He was only trying to frighten you," suggested Anne.

"Dear me, Miss Woodford, aren't you afraid? You have the stomach of
a lion."

"Why, what would be the good of hurting us?"

However, Anne was not at all surprised, when on the very evening of
the Prince's departure, old Mrs. Humphreys, a venerable-looking dame
in handsome but Puritanically-fashioned garments, came in a hackney
coach to request in her son's name that her granddaughter might
return with her, as her occupation was at an end.

Jane was transported with joy.

"Ay, ay," said the grandmother, "look at you now, and think how
crazy you were to go to the palace, though 'twas always against my
judgment."

"Ah, I little knew how mortal dull it would be!" said Jane.

"Ye've found it no better than the husks that the swine did eat, eh?
So much the better and safer for your soul, child."

Nobody wanted to retain Jane, and while she was hastily putting her
things together, the grandmother turned to Anne: "And you, Mistress
Woodford, from what I hear, you have been very good in keeping my
silly child stanch to her religion and true to her duty. If ever on
a pinch you needed a friend in London, my son and I would be proud
to serve you--Master Joshua Humphreys, at the Golden Lamb,
Gracechurch Street, mind you. No one knows what may hap in these
strange and troublesome times, and you might be glad of a house to
go to till you can send to your own friends--that is, if we are not
all murdered by the Papists first."

Though Anne did not expect such a catastrophe as this, she was
really grateful for the offer, and thought it possible that she
might avail herself of it, as she had not been able to communicate
with any of her mother's old friends, and Bishop Ken was not to her
knowledge still in London.

She watched anxiously for the opportunity of asking Lady Strickland
whether she might apply for her dismissal, and write to her uncle to
fetch her home.

"Child," said the lady, "I think you love the Queen."

"Indeed I do, madam."

"It is well that at this juncture all Protestants should not leave
her. You are a gentlewoman in manner, and can speak her native
tongue, friends are falling from her, scarcely ladies are left
enough to make a fit appearance around her; if you are faithful to
her, remain, I entreat of you."

There was no resisting such an appeal, and Anne remained in the
rooms now left bare and empty, until a message was brought to her to
come to the Queen. Mary Beatrice sat in a chair by her fire,
looking sad and listless, her eyes red with weeping, but she gave
her sweet smile as the girl entered, and held out her hand, saying
in her sweet Italian, "You are faithful, Signorina Anna! you remain!
That is well; but now my son is gone, Anna, you must be mine. I
make you my reader instead of his rocker."

As Anne knelt on one knee to kiss hands with tears in her eyes, the
Queen impulsively threw her arms round her neck and kissed her.
"Ah, you loved him, and he loved you, il mio tesorino?"

Promotion _had_ come--how strangely. She had to enter on her duties
at once, and to read some chapters of an Italian version of the
Imitation. A reader was of a higher grade of importance than a
rocker, and for the ensuing days, when not in attendance on the
Queen, Anne was the companion of Lady Strickland and Lady
Oglethorpe. In the absence of the King and Prince, the Queen
received Princess Anne at her own table, and Lady Churchill and Lady
Fitzhardinge joined that of her ladies-in-waiting.

Lady Churchill, with her long neck, splendid hair and complexion,
short chin, and sparkling blue eyes, was beautiful to look at, but
not at all disposed to be agreeable to the Queen's ladies, whom she
treated with a sort of blunt scorn, not at all disguised by the
forms of courtesy. However, she had, to their relief, a good deal
of leave of absence just then to visit her children, as indeed the
ladies agreed that she did pretty much as she chose, and that the
faithful Mrs. Morley was somewhat afraid of the dear Mrs. Freeman.

One evening in coming up some steps Princess Anne entangled her foot
in her pink taffetas petticoat, nearly fell, and tore a large rent,
besides breaking the thread of the festoons of seed pearls which
bordered it, and scattering them on the floor.

"Lack-a-day! Lack-a-day!" sighed she, as after a little screaming
she gathered herself up again. "That new coat! How shall I ever
face Danvers again such a figure? She's an excellent tirewoman, but
she will be neither to have nor to hold when she sees that gown--
that she set such store by! Nay, I can hardly step for it."

"I think I could repair it, with Her Majesty's and your Royal
Highness's permission," said Anne, who was creeping about on her
knees picking up the pearls."

"Oh! do! do! There's a good child, and then Danvers and Dawson need
know nothing about it," cried the Princess in great glee. "You
remember Dawson, don't you, little Woodie, as we used to call you,
and how she used to rate us when we were children if we soiled our
frocks?"

So, in the withdrawing-room, Anne sat on the floor with needle and
silk, by the light of the wax candles, deftly repairing the rent,
and then threading the scattered pearls, and arranging the festoon
so as to hide the darn. The Princess was delighted, and while the
poor wife lay back in her chair, thankful that behind her fan she
could give way to her terrible anxieties about her little son, who
might be crossing to France, and her husband, suffering from fearful
nose-bleeding, and wellnigh alone among traitors and deserters, the
step-daughter, on the other side of the great hearth, chattered away
complacently to 'little Woodford.'

"Do you recollect old Dawson, and how she used to grumble when I
went to sup with the Duchess--my own mother--you know, because she
used to give me chocolate, and she said it made me scream at night,
and be over fat by day? Ah! that was before you used to come among
us. It was after I went to France to my poor aunt of Orleans. I
remember she never would let us kiss her for fear of spoiling her
complexion, and Mademoiselle and I did so hate living maigre on the
fast days. I was glad enough to get home at last, and then my
sister was jealous because I talked French better than she did."

So the Princess prattled on without needing much reply, until her
namesake had finished her work, with which she was well pleased, and
promised to remember her. To Anne it was an absolute marvel how she
could thus talk when she knew that her husband had deserted her
father in his need, and that things were in a most critical
position.

The Queen could not refrain from a sigh of relief when her step-
daughter had retired to the Cockpit; and after seeking her sleepless
bed, she begged Anne, "if it did not too much incommode her, to read
to her from the Gospel."

The next day was Sunday, and Anne felt almost as if deserting her
cause, when going to the English service in Whitehall Chapel Royal,
now almost emptied except of the Princess's suite, and some of these
had the bad taste and profanity to cough and chatter all through the
special prayer drawn up by the Archbishop for the King's safety.

People were not very reverent, and as all stood up at the end of the
Advent Sunday service to let the Princess sweep by in her glittering
green satin petticoat, peach-coloured velvet train, and feather-
crowned head, she laid a hand on Anne's arm, and whispered, "Follow
me to my closet, little Woodford."

There was no choice but to obey, as the Queen would not require her
reader till after dinner, and Anne followed after the various
attendants, who did not seem very willing to forward a private
interview with a possible rival, though, as Anne supposed, the
object must be to convey some message to the Queen. By the time she
arrived and had been admitted to the inner chamber or dressing-room,
the Princess had thrown off her more cumbrous finery, and sat at
ease in an arm-chair. She nodded her be-curled head, and said, "You
can keep a secret, little Woodie?"

"I can, madam, but I do not love one," said Anne, thinking of her
most burthensome one.

"Well, no need to keep this long. You are a good young maiden, and
my own poor mother's godchild, and you are handy and notable. You
deserve better preferment than ever you will get in that Popish
household, where your religion is in danger. Now, I am not going to
be in jeopardy here any longer, nor let myself be kept hostage for
his Highness. Come to my rooms at bedtime. Slip in when I wish the
Queen good-night, and I'll find an excuse. Then you shall come with
me to--no, I'll not say where, and I'll make your fortune, only
mum's the word."

"But--Your Royal Highness is very good, but I am sworn to the Prince
and Queen. I could not leave them without permission."

"Prince! Prince! Pretty sort of a Prince. Prince of brickbats, as
Churchill says. Nay, girl, don't turn away in that fashion.
Consider. Your religion is in danger."

"Nay, madam, my religion would not be served by breaking my oath."

"Pooh! What's your oath to a mere pretender? Besides, consider
your fortune. Rocker to a puling babe--even if he was what they say
he is. And don't build on the Queen's favour--even if she remains
what she is now, she is too much beset with Papists and foreigners
to do anything for you."

"I do not," Anne began to say, but the Princess gave her no time.

"Besides, pride will have a fall, and if you are a good maid, and
hold your tongue, and serve me well in this strait, I'll make you my
maid of honour, and marry you so that you shall put Lady before your
name. Ay, and get good preferment for your uncle, who has had only
a poor stall from the King here."

Anne repressed an inclination to say this was not the way in which
her uncle would wish to get promotion, and only replied, "Your Royal
Highness is very good, but--"

Whereat the Princess, in a huff, exclaimed, "Oh, very well, if you
choose to be torn to pieces by the mob, and slaughtered by the
priests, like poor Godfrey, and burnt by the Papists at last, unless
you go to Mass, you may stay for aught I care, and joy go with you.
I thought I was doing you a kindness for my poor mother's sake, but
it seems you know best. If you like to cast in your lot with the
Pope, I wash my hands of you."

Accordingly Anne courtesied herself off, not seriously alarmed as to
the various catastrophes foretold by the Princess, though a little
shaken in nerves. Here then was another chance of promotion,
certainly without treason to her profession of faith, but so offered
that honour could not but revolt against it, though in truth poor
Princess Anne was neither so foolish nor so heartless a woman as she
appeared in the excitement to which an uneasy conscience, the
expectation of a great enterprise, and a certain amount of terror
had worked her up; but she had high words again in the evening, as
was supposed, with the Queen. Certainly Anne found her own Royal
Mistress weeping and agitated, though she only owned to being very
anxious about the health of the King, who had had a second violent
attack of bleeding at the nose, and she did not seem consoled by the
assurances of her elder attendants that the relief had probably
saved him from a far more dangerous attack. Again Anne read to her
till a late hour, but next morning was strangely disturbed.

The Royal household had not been long dressed, and breakfast had
just been served to the ladies, when loud screams were heard, most
startling in the unsettled and anxious state of affairs. The Queen,
pale and trembling, came out of her chamber with her hair on her
shoulders. "Tell me at once, for pity's sake. Is it my husband or
my son?" she asked with clasped hands, as two or three of the
Princess's servants rushed forward.

"The Princess, the Princess!" was the cry, "the priests have
murdered her."

"What have you done with her, madam?" rudely demanded Mrs. Buss, one
of the lost lady's nurses.

Mary Beatrice drew herself up with grave dignity, saying, "I suppose
your mistress is where she likes to be. I know nothing of her, but
I have no doubt that you will soon hear of her."

There was something in the Queen's manner that hushed the outcry in
her presence, but the women, with Lady Clarendon foremost of them,
continued to seek up and down the two palaces as if they thought the
substantial person of the Princess Anne could be hidden in a
cupboard.

Anne, in the first impulse, exclaimed, "She is gone!"

In a moment Mrs. Royer turned, "Gone, did you say? Do you know it?"

"You knew it and kept it secret!" cried Lady Strickland.

"A traitor too!" said Lady Oglethorpe, in her vehement Irish tone.
"I would not have thought it of Nanny Moore's daughter!" and she
turned her eyes in sad reproach on Anne.

"If you know, tell me where she is gone," cried Mrs. Buss, and the
cry was re-echoed by the other women, while Anne's startled "I
cannot tell! I do not know!" was unheeded.

Only the Queen raising her hand gravely said, "Silence! What is
this?"

"Miss Woodford knew."

"And never told!" cried the babble of voices.

"Come hither, Mistress Woodford," said the Queen. "Tell me, do you
know where Her Highness is?"

"No, please your Majesty," said Anne, trembling from head to foot.
"I do not know where she is."

"Did you know of her purpose?"

"Your Majesty pardon me. She called me to her closet yesterday and
pledged me to secrecy before I knew what she would say."

"Only youthful inexperience will permit that pledge to be implied in
matters of State," said the Queen. "Continue, Mistress Woodford;
what did she tell you?"

"She said she feared to be made a hostage for the Prince of Denmark,
and meant to escape, and she bade me come to her chamber at night to
go with her."

"And wherefore did you not? You are of her religion," said the
Queen bitterly.

"Madam, how could I break mine oath to your Majesty and His Royal
Highness?"

"And you thought concealing the matter according to that oath? Nay,
nay, child, I blame you not. It was a hard strait between your
honour to her and your duty to the King and to me, and I cannot but
be thankful to any one who does regard her word. But this desertion
will be a sore grief to His Majesty."

Mary Beatrice was fairer-minded than the women, who looked askance
at the girl, Princess Anne's people resenting that one of the other
household should have been chosen as confidante, and the Queen's
being displeased that the secret had been kept. But at that moment
frightful yells and shouts arose, and a hasty glance from the
windows showed a mass of men, women, and children howling for their
Princess. They would tear down Whitehall if she were not delivered
up to them. However, a line of helmeted Life-guards on their heavy
horses was drawn up between, with sabres held upright, and there
seemed no disposition to rush upon these. Lord Clarendon, uncle to
the Princess, had satisfied himself that she had really escaped, and
he now came out and assured the mob, in a stentorian voice, that he
was perfectly satisfied of his niece's safety, waving the letter she
had left on her toilet-table.

The mob shouted, "Bless the Princess! Hurrah for the Protestant
faith! No warming-pans!" but in a good-tempered mood; and the poor
little garrison breathed more freely; but Anne did not feel herself
forgiven. She was in a manner sent to Coventry, and treated as if
she were on the enemy's side. Never had her proud nature suffered
so much, and she shed bitter tears as she said to herself, "It is
very unjust! What could I have done? How could I stop Her Highness
from speaking? Could they expect me to run in and accuse her? Oh,
that I were at home again! Mother, mother, you little know! Of
what use am I now?"

It was the very question asked by Hester Bridgeman, whom she found
packing her clothes in her room.

"Take care that this is sent after me," she said, "when a messenger
I shall send calls for it."

"What, you have your dismissal?"

"No, I should no more get it than you have done. They cannot afford
to let any one go, you see, or they will have to dress up the
chambermaids to stand behind the Queen's chair. I have settled it
with my cousin, Harry Bridgeman, I shall mix with the throng that
come to ask for news, and be off with him before the crowd breaks
in, as they will some of these days, for the guards are but half-
hearted. My Portia, why did not you take a good offer, and go with
the Princess?"

"I thought it would be base."

"And much you gained by it! You are only suspected and accused."

"I can't be a rat leaving a sinking ship."

"That is courteous, but I forgive it, Portia, as I know you will
repent of your folly. But you never did know which side to look for
the butter."

Perhaps seeing how ugly desertion and defection looked in others
made constancy easier to Anne, much as she longed for the Close at
Winchester, and she even thought with a hope of the Golden Lamb,
Gracechurch, as an immediate haven sure to give her a welcome.

Her occupation of reading to the Queen was ended by the King's
return, so physically exhausted by violent nose-bleeding, so
despondent at the universal desertion, and so broken-hearted at his
daughter's defection, that his wife was absorbed in attending upon
him.

Anne began to watch for an opportunity to demand a dismissal, which
she thought would exempt her from all blame, but she was surprised
and a little dismayed by being summoned to the King in the Queen's
chamber. He was lying on a couch clad in a loose dressing-gown
instead of his laced coat, and a red night-cap replacing his heavy
peruke, and his face was as white and sallow as if he were
recovering from a long illness.

"Little godchild," he said, holding out his hand as Anne made her
obeisance, "the Queen tells me you can read well. I have a fancy to
hear."

Immensely relieved at the kindness of his tone, Anne courtesied, and
murmured out her willingness.

"Read this," he said; "I would fain hear this; my father loved it.
Here."

Anne felt her task a hard one when the King pointed to the third Act
of Shakespeare's Richard II. She steeled herself and strengthened
her voice as best she could, and struggled on till she came to--

"I'll give my jewels for a set of beads,
My gay apparel for an almsman's gown,
My figured goblets for a dish of wood,
My sceptre for a palmer's walking-staff,
My subjects for a pair of carved saints,
And my large kingdom for a little grave,
A little, little grave."

There she fairly broke down, and sobbed.

"Little one, little one," said James, you are sorry for poor
Richard, eh?"

"Oh, sir!" was all she could say.

"And you are in disgrace, they tell me, because my daughter chose to
try to entice you away," said James, "and you felt bound not to
betray her. Never mind; it was an awkward case of conscience, and
there's not too much faithfulness to spare in these days. We shall
know whom to trust to another time. Can you continue now? I would
take a lesson how, 'with mine own hands to give away my crown.'"

It was well for Anne that fresh tidings were brought in at that
moment, and she had to retire, with the sore feeling turned into an
enthusiastic pity and loyalty, which needed the relief of sobs and
mental vows of fidelity. She felt herself no longer in disgrace
with her Royal master and mistress, but she was not in favour with
her few companions left--all who could not get over her secrecy, and
thought her at least a half traitor as well as a heretic.

Whitehall was almost in a state of siege, the turbulent mob
continually coming to shout, 'No Popery!' and the like, though they
proceeded no farther. The ministers and other gentlemen came and
went, but the priests and the ladies durst not venture out for fear
of being recognised and insulted, if not injured. Bad news came in
from day to day, and no tidings of the Prince of Wales being in
safety in France. Once Anne received a letter from her uncle, which
cheered her much.

DEAR CHILD--So far as I can gather, your employment is at an end,
if it be true as reported that the Prince of Wales is at
Portsmouth, with the intent that he should be carried to France;
but the gentlemen of the navy seem strongly disposed to prevent
such a transportation of the heir of the realm to a foreign
country. I fear me that you are in a state of doubt and anxiety,
but I need not exhort your good mother's child to be true and
loyal to her trust and to the Anointed of the Lord in all things
lawful at all costs. If you are left in any distress or
perplexity, go either to Sir Theophilus Oglethorpe's house, or to
that of my good old friend, the Dean of Westminster; and as soon
as I hear from you I will endeavour to ride to town and bring you
home to my house, which is greatly at a loss without its young
mistress.

The letter greatly refreshed Anne's spirits, and gave her something
to look forward to, giving her energy to stitch at a set of lawn
cuffs and bands for her uncle, and think with the more pleasure of a
return that his time of residence at Winchester lay between her and
that vault in the castle.

There were no more attempts made at her conversion. Every one was
too anxious and occupied, and one or more of the chiefly obnoxious
priests were sent privately away from day to day. While summer
friends departed, Anne often thought of Bishop Ken's counsel as to
loyalty to Heaven and man.

CHAPTER XX: THE FLIGHT

"Storms may rush in, and crimes and woes
Deform that peaceful bower;
They may not mar the deep repose
Of that immortal flower.
Though only broken hearts be found
To watch his cradle by,
No blight is on his slumbers sound,
No touch of harmful eye."

KEBLE.

The news was even worse and worse in that palace of despondency and
terror. Notice had arrived that Lord Dartmouth was withheld from
despatching the young Prince to France by his own scruples and those
of the navy; and orders were sent for the child's return. Then came
a terrible alarm. The escort sent to meet him were reported to have
been attacked by the rabble on entering London and dispersed, so
that each man had to shift for himself.

There was a quarter of an hour which seemed many hours of fearful
suspense, while King and Queen both knelt at their altar, praying in
agony for the child whom they pictured to themselves in the hands of
the infuriated mob, too much persuaded of his being an imposture to
pity his unconscious innocence. No one who saw the blanched cheeks
and agonised face of Mary Beatrice, or James's stern, mute misery,
could have believed for a moment in the cruel delusion that he was
no child of theirs.

The Roman Catholic women were with them. To enter the oratory would
in those circumstances have been a surrender of principle, but none
the less did Anne pray with fervent passion in her chamber for pity
for the child, and comfort for his parents. At last there was a
stir, and hurrying out to the great stair, Anne saw a man in plain
clothes replying in an Irish accent to the King, who was supporting
the Queen with his arm. Happily the escort had missed the Prince of
Wales. They had been obliged to turn back to London without meeting
him, and from that danger he had been saved.

A burst of tears and a cry of fervent thanksgiving relieved the
Queen's heart, and James gave eager thanks instead of the reprimand
the colonel had expected for his blundering.

A little later, another messenger brought word that Lord and Lady
Powys had halted at Guildford with their charge. A French
gentleman, Monsieur de St. Victor, was understood to have undertaken
to bring him to London--understood--for everything was whispered
rather than told among the panic-stricken women. No one who knew
the expectation could go to bed that night except that the King and
Queen had--in order to disarm suspicion--to go through the
accustomed ceremonies of the coucher. The ladies sat or lay on
their beds intently listening, as hour after hour chimed from the
clocks.

At last, at about three in the morning, the challenge of the
sentinels was heard from point to point. Every one started up, and
hurried almost pell-mell towards the postern door. The King and
Queen were both descending a stair leading from the King's dressing-
room, and as the door was cautiously opened, it admitted a figure in
a fur cloak, which he unfolded, and displayed the sleeping face of
the infant well wrapped from the December cold.

With rapture the Queen gathered him into her arms, and the father
kissed him with a vehemence that made him awake and cry. St. Victor
had thought it safer that his other attendants should come in by
degrees in the morning, and thus Miss Woodford was the only actually
effective nursery attendant at hand. His food was waiting by the
fire in his own sleeping chamber, and thither he was carried. There
the Queen held him on her lap, while Anne fed him, and he smiled at
her and held out his arms.

The King came, and making a sign to Anne not to move, stood
watching.

Presently he said, "She has kept one secret, we may trust her with
another."

"Oh, not yet, not yet," implored the Queen. "Now I have both my
treasures again, let me rest in peace upon them for a little while."

The King turned away with eyes full of tears while Anne was lulling
the child to sleep. She wondered, but durst not ask the Queen,
where was the tiler's wife; but later she learnt from Miss Dunord,
that the woman had been so terrified by the cries of the multitude
against the 'pretender,' and still more at the sight of the sea,
that she had gone into transports of fright, implored to go home,
and perhaps half wilfully, become useless, so that the weaning
already commenced had to be expedited, and the fretfulness of the
poor child had been one of the troubles for some days. However, he
seemed on his return to have forgotten his troubles, and Anne had
him in her arms nearly all the next day.

It was not till late in the evening that Anne knew what the King had
meant. Then, while she was walking up and down the room, amusing
the little Prince with showing by turns the window and his face in a
large mirror, the Queen came in, evidently fresh from weeping, and
holding out her arms for him, said, after looking to see that there
was no other audience--

"Child, the King would repose a trust in you. He wills that you
should accompany me to-night on a voyage to France to put this
little angel in safety."

"As your Majesty will," returned Anne; "I will do my best."

"So the King said. He knew his brave sailor's daughter was worthy
of his trust, and you can speak French. It is well, for we go under
the escort of Messieurs de Lauzun and St. Victor. Be ready at
midnight. Lady Strickland or the good Labadie will explain more to
you, but do not speak of this to anyone else. You have leave now,"
she added, as she herself carried the child towards his father's
rooms.

The maiden's heart swelled at the trust reposed in her, and the
King's kind words, and she kept back the sense of anxiety and doubt
as to so vague a future. She found Mrs. Labadie lying on her bed
awake, but trying to rest between two busy nights, and she was then
told that there was to be a flight from the palace of the Queen and
Prince at midnight, Mrs. Labadie and Anne alone going with them,
though Lord and Lady Powys and Lady Strickland, with the Queen's
Italian ladies, would meet them on board the yacht which was waiting
at Gravesend. The nurse advised Anne to put a few necessary
equipments into a knapsack bound under a cloak, and to leave other
garments with her own in charge of Mr. Labadie, who would despatch
them with those of the suite, and would follow in another day with
the King. Doubt or refusal there could of course be none in such
circumstances, and a high-spirited girl like Anne could not but feel
a thrill of heart at selection for such confidential and signal
service at her age, scarcely seventeen. Her one wish was to write
to her uncle what had become of her. Mrs. Labadie hardly thought it
safe, but said her husband would take charge of a note, and if
possible, post it when they were safe gone, but nothing of the
King's plans must be mentioned.

The hours passed away anxiously, and yet only too fast. So many had
quitted the palace that there was nothing remarkable in packing, but
as Anne collected her properties, she could not help wondering
whether she should ever see them again. Sometimes her spirit rose
at the thought of serving her lovely Queen, saving the little
Prince, and fulfilling the King's trust; at others, she was full of
vague depression at the thought of being cut off from all she knew
and loved, with seas between, and with so little notice to her
uncle, who might never learn where she was; but she knew she had his
approval in venturing all, and making any sacrifice for the King
whom all deserted; and she really loved her Queen and little Prince.

The night came, and she and Mrs. Labadie, fully equipped in cloaks
and hoods, waited together, Anne moving about restlessly, the elder
woman advising her to rest while she could. The little Prince, all
unconscious of the dangers of the night, or of his loss of a throne,
lay among his wraps in his cradle fast asleep.

By and by the door opened, and treading softly in came the King in
his dressing-gown and night-cap, the Queen closely muffled, Lady
Strickland also dressed for a journey, and two gentlemen, the one
tall and striking-looking, the other slim and dark, in their cloaks,
namely, Lauzun and St. Victor.

It was one of those supreme moments almost beyond speech or
manifestation of feeling.

The King took his child in his arms, kissed him, and solemnly said
to Lauzun, "I confide my wife and son to you."

Both Frenchmen threw themselves on their knees kissing his hand with
a vow of fidelity. Then giving the infant to Mrs. Labadie, James
folded his wife in his arms in a long mute embrace; Anne carried the
basket containing food for the child; and first with a lantern went
St. Victor, then Lauzun, handing the Queen; Mrs. Labadie with the
child, and Anne following, they sped down the stairs, along the
great gallery, with steps as noiseless as they could make them, down
another stair to a door which St. Victor opened.

A sentry challenged, sending a thrill of dismay through the anxious
hearts, but St. Victor had the word, and on they went into the privy
gardens, where often Anne had paced behind Mrs. Labadie as the
Prince took his airing. Startling lights from the windows fell on
them, illuminating the drops of rain that plashed round them on that
grim December night, and their steps sounded on the gravel, while
still the babe, sheltered under the cloak, slept safely. Another
door was reached, more sentries challenged and passed; here was a
street whose stones and silent houses shone for a little space as
St. Victor raised his lantern and exchanged a word with a man on the
box of a carriage.

One by one they were handed in, the Queen, the child, the nurse,
Anne, and Lauzun, St. Victor taking his place outside. As if in a
dream they rattled on through the dark street, no one speaking
except that Lauzun asked the Queen if she were wet.

It was not far before they stopped at the top of the steps called
the Horseferry. A few lights twinkled here and there, and were
reflected trembling in the river, otherwise a black awful gulf, from
which, on St. Victor's cautious hail, a whistle ascended, and a
cloaked figure with a lantern came up the steps glistening in the
rain.

One by one again, in deep silence, they were assisted down, and into
the little boat that rocked ominously as they entered it. There the
women crouched together over the child unable to see one another,
Anne returning the clasp of a hand on hers, believing it Mrs.
Labadie's, till on Lauzun's exclaiming, "Est ce que j'incommode sa
Majeste?" the reply showed her that it was the Queen's hand that she
held, and she began a startled "Pardon, your Majesty," but the sweet
reply in Italian was, "Ah, we are as sisters in this stress."

The eager French voice of Lauzun went on, in undertones certainly,
but as if he had not the faculty of silence, and amid the plash of
the oars, the rush of the river, and the roar of the rain, it was
not easy to tell what he said, his voice was only another of the
noises, though the Queen made little courteous murmurs in reply. It
was a hard pull against wind and tide towards a little speck of
green light which was shown to guide the rowers; and when at last
they reached it, St. Victor's hail was answered by Dusions, one of
the servants, and they drew to the steps where he held a lantern.

"To the coach at once, your Majesty."

"It is at the inn--ready--but I feared to let it stand."

Lauzun uttered a French imprecation under his breath, and danced on
the step with impatience, only restrained so far as to hand out the
Queen and her two attendants. He was hotly ordering off Dusions and
St. Victor to bring the coach, when the former suggested that they
must find a place for the Queen to wait in where they could find
her.

"What is that dark building above?"

"Lambeth Church," Dusions answered.

"Ah, your Protestant churches are not open; there is no shelter for
us there," sighed the Queen.

"There is shelter in the angle of the buttress; I have been there,
your Majesty," said Dusions.

Thither then they turned.

"What can that be?" exclaimed the Queen, starting and shuddering as
a fierce light flashed in the windows and played on the wall.

"It is not within, madame," Lauzun encouraged; "it is reflected
light from a fire somewhere on the other side of the river."

"A bonfire for our expulsion. Ah! why should they hate us so?"
sighed the poor Queen.

"'Tis worse than that, only there's no need to tell Her Majesty so,"
whispered Mrs. Labadie, who, in the difficulties of the ascent, had
been fain to hand the still-sleeping child to Anne. "'Tis the
Catholic chapel of St. Roque. The heretic miscreants!"

"Pray Heaven no life be lost," sighed Anne.

Sinister as the light was, it aided the poor fugitives at that dead
hour of night to find an angle between the church wall and a
buttress where the eaves afforded a little shelter from the rain,
which slackened a little, when they were a little concealed from the
road, so that the light need not betray them in case any passenger
was abroad at such an hour, as two chimed from the clock overhead.

The women kept together close against the wall to avoid the drip of
the eaves. Lauzun walked up and down like a sentinel, his arms
folded, and talking all the while, though, as before, his utterances
were only an accompaniment to the falling rain and howling wind;
Mary Beatrice was murmuring prayers over the sleeping child, which
she now held in the innermost corner; Anne, with wide-stretched
eyes, was gazing into the light cast beyond the buttress by the fire
on the opposite side, when again there passed across it that form
she had seen on All Saints' Eve--the unmistakable phantom of
Peregrine.

It was gone into the darkness in another second; but a violent start
on her part had given a note of alarm, and brought back the Count,
whose walk had been in the opposite direction.

"What was it? Any spy?"

"Oh no--no--nothing! It was the face of one who is dead," gasped
Anne.

"The poor child's nerve is failing her," said the Queen gently, as
Lauzun drawing his sword burst out--

"If it be a spy it _shall_ be the face of one who is dead;" and he
darted into the road, but returned in a few moments, saying no one
had passed except one of the rowers returning after running up to
the inn to hasten the coach; how could he have been seen from the
church wall? The wheels were heard drawing up at that moment, so
that the only thought was to enter it as quickly as might be in the
same order as before, after which the start was made, along the road
that led through the marshes of Lambeth; and then came the inquiry--
an anxious one--whom or what mademoiselle, as Lauzun called her, had
seen.

"O monsieur!" exclaimed the poor girl in her confusion, her best
French failing, "it was nothing--no living man."

"Can mademoiselle assure me of that? The dead I fear not, the
living I would defy."

"He lives not," said she in an undertone, with a shudder.

"But who is he that mademoiselle can be so certain?" asked the
Frenchman.

"Oh! I know him well enough," said Anne, unable to control her
voice.

"Mademoiselle must explain herself," said M. de Lauzun. "If he be
spirit--or phantom--there is no more to say, but if he be in the
flesh, and a spy--then--" There was a little rattle of his sword.

"Speak, I command," interposed the Queen; "you must satisfy M. le
Comte."

Thus adjured, Anne said in a low voice of horror: "It was a
gentleman of our neighbourhood; he was killed in a duel last
summer!"

"Ah! You are certain?"

"I had the misfortune to see the fight," sighed Anne.

"That accounts for it," said the Queen kindly. "If mademoiselle's
nerves were shaken by such a remembrance, it is not wonderful that
it should recur to her at so strange a watch as we have been
keeping."

"It might account for her seeing this revenant cavalier in any
passenger," said Lauzun, not satisfied yet.

"No one ever was like him," said Anne. "I could not mistake him."

"May I ask mademoiselle to describe him?" continued the count.

Feeling all the time as if this first mention were a sort of
betrayal, Anne faltered the words: "Small, slight, almost
misshapen--with a strange one-sided look--odd, unusual features."

Lauzun's laugh jarred on her. "Eh! it is not a flattering portrait.
Mademoiselle is not haunted by a hero of romance, it appears, so
much as by a demon."

"And none of those monsieur has employed in our escape answer to
that description?" asked the Queen.

"Assuredly not, your Majesty. Crooked person and crooked mind go
together, and St. Victor would only have trusted to your big honest
rowers of the Tamise. I think we may be satisfied that the
demoiselle's imagination was excited so as to evoke a phantom
impressed on her mind by a previous scene of terror. Such things
have happened in my native Gascony."

Anne was fain to accept the theory in silence, though it seemed to
her strange that at a moment when she was for once not thinking of
Peregrine, her imagination should conjure him up, and there was a
strong feeling within her that it was something external that had
flitted across the shadow, not a mere figment of her brain, though
the notion was evidently accepted, and she could hear a muttering of
Mrs. Labadie that this was the consequence of employing young
wenches with their whims and megrims.

The Count de Lauzun did his best to entertain the Queen with stories
of revenants in Gascony and elsewhere, and with reminiscences of his
eleven years' captivity at Pignerol, and his intercourse with
Fouquet; but whenever in aftertimes Anne Woodford tried to recall
her nocturnal drive with this strange personage, the chosen and very
unkind husband of the poor old Grande Mademoiselle, she never could
recollect anything but the fierce glare of his eyes in the light of
the lamps as he put her to that terrible interrogation.

The talk was chiefly monologue. Mrs. Labadie certainly slept,
perhaps the Queen did so too, and Anne became conscious that she
must have slumbered likewise, for she found every one gazing at her
in the pale morning dawn and asking why she cried, "O Charles,
hold!"

As she hastily entreated pardon, Lauzun was heard to murmur, "Je
parie que le revenant se nomme Charles," and she collected her
senses just in time to check her contradiction, recollecting that
happily such a name as Charles revealed nothing. The little Prince,
who had slumbered so opportunely all night, awoke and received
infinite praise, and what he better appreciated, the food that had
been provided for him. They were near their journey's end, and it
was well, for people were awakening and going to their work as they
passed one of the villages, and once the remark was heard, "There
goes a coach full of Papists."

However, no attempt was made to stop the party, and as it would be
daylight when they reached Gravesend, the Queen arranged her
disguise to resemble, as she hoped, a washerwoman--taking off her
gloves, and hiding her hair, while the Prince, happily again asleep,
was laid in a basket of linen. Anne could not help thinking that
she thus looked more remarkable than if she had simply embarked as a
lady; but she meant to represent the attendant of her Italian friend
Countess Almonde, whom she was to meet on board.

Leaving the coach outside a little block of houses, the party
reached a projecting point of land, where three Irish officers
received them, and conducted them to a boat. Then, wrapped closely
in cloaks from the chill morning air, they were rowed to the yacht,
on the deck of which stood Lord and Lady Powys, Lady Strickland,
Pauline Dunord, and a few more faithful followers, who had come more
rapidly. There was no open greeting nor recognition, for the
captain and crew were unaware whom they were carrying, and, on the
discovery, either for fear of danger or hope of reward, might have
captured such a prize.

Therefore all the others, with whispered apologies, were hoisted up
before her, and Countess Almonde had to devise a special entreaty
that the chair might be lowered again for her poor laundress as well
as for the other two women.

The yacht, which had been hired by St. Victor, at once spread her
sails; Mrs. Labadie conversed with the captain while the countess
took the Queen below into the stifling crowded little cabin. It was
altogether a wretched voyage; the wind was high, and the pitching
and tossing more or less disabled everybody in the suite. The Queen
was exceedingly ill, so were the countess and Mrs. Labadie. Nobody
could be the least effective but Signora Turini, who waited on her
Majesty, and Anne, who was so far seasoned by excursions at
Portsmouth that she was capable of taking sole care of the little
Prince, as the little vessel dashed along on her way with her cargo
of alarm and suffering through the Dutch fleet of fifty vessels,
none of which seemed to notice her--perhaps by express desire not to
be too curious as to English fugitives.

Between the care of the little one, who needed in the tossing of the
ship to be constantly in arms though he never cried and when awake
was always merry, and the giving as much succour as possible to her
suffering companions, Anne could not either rest or think, but
seemed to live in one heavy dazed dream of weariness and endurance,
hardly knowing whether it were day or night, till the welcome sound
was heard that Calais was in sight.

Then, as well as they could, the poor travellers crawled from the
corners, and put themselves in such array as they could contrive,
though the heaving of the waves, as the little yacht lay to, did not
conduce to their recovery. The Count de Lauzun went ashore as soon
as a boat could be lowered to apprise M. Charot, the Governor of
Calais, of the guest he was to receive, and after an interval of
considerable discomfort, in full view of the massive fortifications,
boats came off to bring the Queen and her attendants on shore, this

Book of the day: